Monday, 31 August 2009

Sunday, 30 August 2009

In an hour or so

virgil partch vip
Another Virgil Partch drawing, via Hairy Green Eyeball, and another song from John Dog:
in an hour or so
the lies that I’m living
and the cares of the day
won’t bother me so
they say it’s a sin
but I will forgive them
yeah the beer will kick in
in an hour or so.

in an hour or so
my smile will come easy
all the folks will be dancing
and I might have a go
this bar dark and dim 
will be bright and breezy
yeah the beer will kick in
in an hour or so

and I won’t even hate you
I might even miss you some
but just because I have forgotten
not forgiven what you have done

in an hour or so
this everyday hurting
these dullest of blues
will just get up and go
there’s not much in the world
you can say for certain
but the beer will kick in
in an hour or so
Listen here.

Lyrics copyright © John Dog.

Art from Bottle Fatigue by Virgil Partch, published and copyright © 1950 by Duell, Sloan and Pearce.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Women, together with men, and apart

julie jacobson ap
Recently, Peggy (age five and a half) was on the tube with her mother, and she saw some teenage boys passing the time by drawing on a newspaper with silver and gold markers. Back home, she wanted to have a go. We had no silver or gold pens, so she used bright blue on an old copy of The International Herald Tribune.

Here are two of the three photos she chose to draw on, from the issue dated Monday August 17th, 2009. The third photo was from Kashmir, of a young boy on the lap of his aunt. His mother and her sister in law had been raped and murdered.

The top photo was from an article on how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed women’s roles in the US military. There was a follow-up article the next day giving more personal stories. There are also a couple of related posts on the New York Times’ At War blog by journalists Lizette Alvarez and Steven Lee Myers.

omar sobhani reuters
The bottom photo was from a story on the elections in Afghanistan. A more recent story in the paper was a follow up to the widely reported acid attack on Afghan schoolgirls last November. Journalist Dexter Filkins wrote of the flood of donations he received after the original story was published, and the difficulties involved in using the money to help the attack victims and their school.

That story was part of a special issue on women’s rights and development, the main feature of which was a very substantial article by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Highly recommended.

Finally, and away from the papers, I’d like to point to a blog post by Flesh is Grass, on the recent furore in the UK over segregated weddings, her personal experiences and resolutions.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Tall tales of the high seas

The opening verse of the sea shanty, Jack the Whaler, goes like this:
What’s more delight on a winter’s night
Than to sip a glass of grog,
And hear the old men spin their yarns
Before a burning log,
They tell their tales of monstrous whales
And of sights that they have seen,
It makes your hair stand end on end
and your stomach turn quite green.
And the folklore tradition described in this song is a living one, with new tales being spun out of the old, stories mysterious and creepy enough to send a shiver down the spine of the listener. Mysterious like the one about pirates raised from a watery grave by the all-powerful Mossad to plunder ships off the coast of Sweden. Creepy like the tale of The White Ship which steals children away when their parents aren’t looking, in order to cut out their kidneys, livers, and hearts.

Hopefully only a foolSwedish or otherwise, would believe such stories, but still, for all the excitement of the new, I’ll stay with the tall tales of times safely past.

Be good now, children, or The White Ship will get you!

(Another kind of Swedish story from the history books here.)

Update: of course Snoopy has the inside dope on those Mossad pirates!

jack the whaler
jack the whaler
Pages taken from Burl Ives’ Sea Songs of Sailing, Whaling and Fishing copyright © 1956 Burl Ives. Earlier samples here and here.

Whiteman gets crowned

Grasping for coherence after a number of nights filled with fever dreams left my mind as fragmented as the scattered shards of a HE shell, I was much comforted by this Cartoon Brew post and its appended comments, all of which achieved a major reassemblage of human knowledge on matters of music and life, built on the basis of barely three minutes of ancient two-colour cartoon animation on the subject of the controversial crowning of band leader Paul Whiteman as ‘the King of Jazz’.

The portrait of Mr Whiteman at top is a detail from my illustration for a CD titled The Chesterfield Arrangements, featuring recordings by The Metropole Orchestra of arrangements of Raymond Scott tunes. These arrangements were originally created for Paul Whiteman’s orchestra.

Another detail from the art posted earlier here.

Saturday, 22 August 2009


This business where I’m sitting at my desk,
working it’s called, and I get the shivers,
and my hands turn blue,
is it normal?

I’ll get back to you.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Yale surrenders

Christopher Hitchens writes on the latest pathetic post script to the Danish Mohammed Cartoons malarkey:
A book called The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Danish-born Jytte Klausen, who is a professor of politics at Brandeis University, tells the story of the lurid and preplanned campaign of "protest" and boycott that was orchestrated in late 2005 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a competition for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. (The competition was itself a response to the sudden refusal of a Danish publisher to release a book for children about the life of Mohammed, lest it, too, give offense.) By the time the hysteria had been called off by those who incited it, perhaps as many as 200 people around the world had been pointlessly killed.

Yale University Press announced last week that it would go ahead with the publication of the book, but it would remove from it the 12 caricatures that originated the controversy. Not content with this, it is also removing other historic illustrations of the likeness of the Prophet, including one by Gustave Doré of the passage in Dante's Inferno that shows Mohammed being disemboweled in hell. (These same Dantean stanzas have also been depicted by William Blake, Sandro Botticelli, Salvador Dalí, and Auguste Rodin, so there's a lot of artistic censorship in our future if this sort of thing is allowed to set a precedent.)
More at Slate.

There are a couple of inaccuracies in that opening paragraph. The JP feature wasn’t a competition, if I remember rightly, but an invitation to established cartoonists from several Danish papers to respond to the story of a Danish author’s difficulty in finding an artist willing to risk the commission to illustrate a book on the life of Mohammed. Not all the cartoonists responded with images of the prophet. See this page at Zombietime to view the cartoons as well as images from the eventual book, illustrated anonymously.

Earlier related posts on Danish blaspheming cartoonists here and here, and on even ruder Dutch cartooning here and here.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Galway, March 1945

Dor and Sal, probably in the back garden on Enda’s Road.

Sunday, 16 August 2009


Be assured and reassured, taking all your longings with you, ’fore this here barking ashore. Mind the mind now, the gap between heart and handle, here. And so, feet wet, splash landed, the lad alighted from the flying clipper at Tilbury.


From Dorothy Ann Walsh:

My visit to Greece started in a train in Munich. The roofs of the sleeping carriages belonging to the Greek railways were covered in ice which hung in thick, compact garlands down the sides and coated the windows. It was the last day of February 1988.

Inside, the carriage was dirty and the whole train was overheated by a system which could not be operated manually. Luckily, departure was delayed as I was late due to heavy, snowbound traffic. In our journey south, we did not leave the heavy snows until southern Austria and even then saw snow-powdered fields on our way through Yugoslavia.

There was no food or water available on the train - The Acropolis Express to Athens - and nothing available at most stations where the water taps were also frozen.

A couple, mother and son, joined me in the compartment at Villach, Austria, who were on their way to Israel. The woman asked me if the compartment had been so dirty in Munich. I, the sole occupant, answered yes, only slowly working out the implications of an answer in the negative.

She was a very bossy lady which had its positive side in that she kept the swarms of people who joined the train at every stop in Yugoslavia from entering the compartment, got us extra supplies of thin blankets for the night and requisitioned a cup of coffee for us from the conductor in the morning.

At around 6 a.m. we were standing at some remote place in Yugoslavia where nothing was visible except the station. I was woken by the sound of stones rustling as if we were at a beach where the pebbles were being moved to and fro by the tide. When I looked outside there was no beach in sight, we were obviously inland; the sound was being made by children who ran up and down the railway line crunching the rockfill underfoot as they begged for food from the passengers. They were poorly clad in a motley assortment of clothes and shivered from the early morning cold.

After Skopje wild flowers started to appear, then trees in blossom, and people planted what looked like lettuce plants in the fields. A teddy bear was hoisted over a vineyard, stick in hand to ward off invaders.

We crossed the border into Greece after Georgelija. The air had become warmer, the fields now seemed bigger and the clutches of houses did not seem to be as noticably crumbling as heretofore. We arrived at Thessaloniki at 3.00 p.m. and I put on my pack and went room searching.

I found a room with mice for the night and the next day took the bus to Pella. I was the only visitor on the site. The day was sunny but a cold wind swept down from the mountains in the north west. The museum across the road from the site was officially closed but the keeper let me in. There was not much to see as they were in the process of packing the exhibits for removal to Thessaloniki - why I don’t know. However the floor mosaics from the site were still intact on display on the walls: the Staghunt and the Dionysos mosaic.

The next day I visited the Archaeological Museum in Thessaloniki and saw the treasures from Derveni, Vergina and Stavrolis (4th century B.C.) and Sindos (6th and 5th centuries B.C.) besides Roman portraiture sculpture from 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. The Museum also gave me a wonderful introduction to Macedonian tomb architecture of the 4th century B.C., notably from Aghia Paraskevi, Potidaea and the most elaborate example from Lefkadia. Unfortunately the section on Greek sculpture was closed due to staff shortage I was told and I only got to see some 4th century B.C. models from the doorway. I took slides of these for reference. In the basement of the museum there was a wealth of Etruscan ware. Here, amongst others, there was a krater S60, showing a Greek killing a Persian in a composition similar to that of Achilles killing the Queen of the Amazons. 

In Thessaloniki itself of course there was the Arch of Galerius (3rd century A.D.), the Roman Agora and Markets to be seen besides a number of other sites including the many Byzantine churches and sites.

The next day I left for Athens leaving the mice in sole control of the room. The train was of a lovely old well-polished type of wood and metal and probably plastic-covered seating which was called an express. As far as I could see during our journey this meant that the train didn’t stop at all the little towns and villages, it stopped between them. The other notable thing about the journey was the wealth of sites and places one was passing without seeing. However passing and seeing Mount Olympus with Dion nestling at its foot was a thrill.

At 4 p.m. that evening we reached the capital. Athens was superb. The weather was pleasant for excursions and the rich abundance of sites and artefacts gave tremendous satisfaction.

Finding my way round was greatly facilitated by meeting Rev. Prof. Gerry Watson of Maynooth at the Gennadion who introduced me to Prof. George Huxley of the American Library and to Mr. Guy Sanders of the British School. Through the recommendation of Prof.Watson, the kind assistance of Prof. Mitchell at Trinity and the helpfulness of the staff at the British School, I became a member and moved into the School, where I made my base for archaeological excursions for visual documentation in Athens and was delighted to make use of the wonderful, unrestricted library facilities in my chosen research of figures of Aphrodite in the round in Greek sculpture of the 4th century B.C. The Director of the School Sir Hector Catling was most kind with helpful advice, and open in his invitation that I should use the facilities in the future.

My trip to Greece was curtailed when I fell on the site at Corinth on the first day of my tour of the Peleponnese, pulling the ligaments in my foot. I did get some more, helpful library work done, but my movement was too restricted for museum or site visits and therefore I returned to Germany for treatment for my foot.

The trip, which was aided by the Stanford Travelling Scholarship, was a worthwhile extension to my study at the Institute of Classical Archaeology in Munich for both library and visual work and I am grateful to Trinity for having given me the opportunity to enjoy the experience of a worthwhile and rewarding visit to Greece.

As a postscript I might add that before I moved into the British School, I stayed at a small, clean, comfortable and very reasonable hotel in Plaka named Hotel Ideal, Odos Eolu & Voreou 2, Athens, Tel. 32 13 195, which I would recommend to any student or visitor.

Dor Walsh, Limerick, Autumn 1988.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Recent events in Iran

From Pedestrian, a selection:

4th August, In Kahrizak, we had to Lick the Water, translation of an interview with a survivor of torture.

5th August, On the Role of the Leader, translation from a speech by dissident cleric Mohsen Kadivar. Further translation from 12th August, Where are the Ayatollahs? Earlier clerical dissent from 29th July, Defending the Islamic Republic by Any Means, a translation of an article by Mohammad Motahari.

6th August, Genius, the collected academic frauds of Ahmadinejad’s cabinet.

9th August onwards, ongoing translation of an article by journalist Hossein Bastani on past failures in Iranian courts of cases based on forced confessions, A Decade of Confession Under Torture - part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

That’s catching up on just one blog. More at Raye Man Kojast, Revolutionary RoadKhordaad 88, Azarmehr, Uskowi on Iran, and many more.

Thursday, 13 August 2009


Oh yes, working hard down here, while you lot are all off out in the sunshine. Ha!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Indigestions of a summer night: Fish

Fish of the Mediterranean, its guts silted with debris, filth and poison.

Seven years ago, a large portion of the extended family made an expedition to a large old house on a mountainside in northwest Majorca. The first night there, our sixteen month old son began to burn up with scarlet fever. Family members ran from room to room, across upstairs wooden floors, up and down the wide staircase, across the polished stone floor of the grand hall below, with wet flannels, medicines, and expert medical knowledge.

Outside, loud frogs retching around the rockery poolside.

And the fish from earlier that evening, eaten on the terrace surrounded by passion flowers, hummingbirds, and beautiful mountains, (all very much like one of Martin Johnson Heade’s South American paintings,) that same fish began to stir inside me. The poison from its gut taking a hold of my gut now. Amid the wails of the lad and the worrying of his mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncle, cousins, through the pitching and rolling household I staggered, over wood, stone, tiles. Into the bathroom, wretched. A hideous sound. Again. And even when I was quite empty, again. My entire body convulsing. Quite an echo. The frogs were shamed.

Our son’s fever carried on through our stay. For days and nights we took turns by his bedside. As he slept, radiating. I stood on the dark balcony outside his room, under a clear sky of stars. A glow came from the terrace below, from where the lazy after dinner conversation was sounding loud and clear. Up here, apart, with my son, growing smaller with the fever, sleeping away the holiday, counting away the days.

Away from that narrow table.

And another holiday memory, of overheard night time conversation on a Mediterranean paradise isle: English voices, familiar anti-American noises, one of them comparing the death toll of September 11th with the death toll of Bhopal.

The relevance of such a comparison
left uncontested.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

How and Why

On Afghanistan, Abu Muqawama is more used to talking about ‘how we fight’. In response to this he turns to ‘why we fight’, starting here, continuing here.

Also from AM, on arguments of War and Law, particularly with regard to Israel, he repeats a point worth repeating, in paraphrase: just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s smart.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Summer reading

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Cog railway

Based on the Mount Washington cog railway in New Hampshire, this is a recent painting for a promotion by my American illustration agents Lindgren & Smith.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

My nationalism’s bigger than your nationalism

Drawing for the Times Higher Education Supplement, issue of September 24, 1993.

Post title swiped from Waterloo Sunset’s comments at Bob’s place.