You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2015.

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As in years past, here is a short list of diverse people who died in 2015. Their lives reveal how miscellaneous and diverse…how dark and amazing the human condition is.

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King Abdullah (August, 1924 – January, 2015): arguably the world’s most powerful hereditary monarch: a troubling U.S. ally who utilized Islam to maintain near-absolute power over Saudi Arabia.

Carl Djerassi (October 29, 1923 – January, 2015):  An Austrian-born Bulgarian-American bio chemist institutional in the development of the modern birth control pill (among other breakthroughs).

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Leonard Nimoy (March, 1931 – February, 2015): an actor famous for presenting a compelling fantasy of alien intellect and spiritual excellence.

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Terry Pratchett (April, 1948 – March, 2015): a fantasy author, humorist, and humanist.

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Lee Kuan Yew (September 1923 – March, 2015): the architect of the meteoric rise of the city-state of Singapore.

Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, who received this year's Peace Prize from the Association of Publishe..

Chinua Achebe (November, 1930 – March, 2013: a giant of contemporary African literature.

Helmut Schmidt (December, 1918 – November, 2015): the West German Chancellor who guided the nation through the 1970s (and the cold depths of the Cold War).

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Gunter Grass (October 1927 – April, 2015): a great German prose stylist who looked deep into the darkness of life with his unflinching surreal literature of World War II Germany.

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey (July, 1914 – August, 2015): a heroic physician and bureaucrat who stood up to the pharmaceutical industry to prevent the thalidomide crisis from being far worse.  She subsequently worked to craft and institute intelligent drug regulations.

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Ellsworth Kelly (May, 1923 – December, 2015): a minimalist artist fascinated with color.  His hard edged 3 dimensional paintings blurred the lines between painting, sculpture, and pure concept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Best wishes for a Merry Christmas!  I am featuring my Christmas tree again, just in case anyone hasn’t seen it.  Fortunately, I added a lot of new animals like an andrewsarchus, a basilosaurus, an arsinoitherium, and a priapulid worm.  Of course my favorite animal, my little housecat Sepia is there too, at lower left, wondering why I am paying attention to a fake tree instead of playing with her.  It seems like she might also be interested in a second dinner.

The year is wearing down fast and I am going to take a few days to paint and draw and relax, but there are a few more posts left for 2015 and then there will be a whole new thrilling year for blogging.  Having you all as readers is the very best present possible. Let me know if you have any ideas or concerns. Happy holidays!  I wish I could get everyone a miniature donkey, or a flying squid, or a walking catfish, but you will have to settle for more wacky eclectic content…and for my happiest and best wishes and warmest regards now and always.

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Knight Town (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, colored pencils and ink)

Knight Town (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, colored pencils and ink)

It is already the winter solstice.  What with the Christmas rush and year-end business at work I have not had time to pick out a suitable theme for the longest night of the year.  But my subconscious has not been so quiescent.  Here are the three most recent drawings in my little book.  I suddenly notice that each of them takes place at night.  Above is a knight in jaunty paisley wandering the streets of a nocturnal city.  Dinosaurs grapple as a glowing lizard glides down toward the warrior.  A little glowing plant man and a strange luminous crystal add interest.

Bar in Alphabet City (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, colored pencil and ink)

Bar in Alphabet City (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, colored pencil and ink)

Here is a scene at a bar in alphabet city.  The patrons were jostling and squiggling pretty vigorously (which made them hard to draw), but I think I caught the milieu.

Fallow Hill (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, colored pencil and ink)

Fallow Hill (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, colored pencil and ink)

Last is my most recent piece, which somehow looks like it something from a heavy metal album.  I have no idea what is going on here. Demons and ghosts are gathering around a terrible haunted face growing up out of the fallow fields.  A hellish glow pervades the horizon.  No more horror novels before bedtime.  The great thing about the winter solstice is that it will keep getting lighter from this point on. Although admittedly the coldest times of winter lie before us, the darkest times are passing.  And they aren’t even that bad…well, not as bad as this horrible undead scarecrow thing.

An artist's' conception of the planetary sytem of Wolf 1061C

An artist’s’ conception of the planetary sytem of Wolf 1061C

Today Australian scientists announced the discovery of a very interesting exoplanet—a so-called “super-earth” which orbits around the red dwarf star Wolf 1061.  The rocky planet (Wolf1061c) is actually only one of three worlds so far found in the solar system of Wolf 1061, but it is of particular note because it lies in an orbit which allows for liquid water to exist upon its surface.

Wolf 1061 is tidally locked to its star, so one side always faces the red ball in the heavens. It has a mass about 4.3 times that of Earth—so the surface gravity is nearly twice that of Earth. Its “years” are 18 Earth days long.

Perhaps most excitingly Wolf 1061c is “only” 14 light years away (about 84,000,000,000,000 miles).  It is a neighbor!  Perhaps we can use our best telescopes to assay the atmosphere and find out if anything resembling Earth life is there.

Stromatolites at dawn in Shark Bay, Western Australia

Stromatolites at dawn in Shark Bay, Western Australia

This place really exists! Spend a moment imaging what it is like on the surface.    In my fantasy, one side of the world is a vast red desert while the other is a desolation of black glaciers…yet in a twilight ring between the sides there are sludgy water oceans filled with big green and violet pillows of fabulous squashed shapes—the analogs of stromatolites.  Bubbles of gas pour up from these oddly shaped blobs of bacteria-like cells.  Somewhere among the billions of little multiplying alien organisms, a few peptides have changed and the cells begin to exchange genetic material with one another.  They are beginning to reproduce sexually instead of merely dividing.  Life in the ring oceans of 1061c takes a leap forward.  It is all imagination…and yet it may be so.  The universe is vast.  I wish we could find out more about this entire earthlike planet that we only just found.

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Back in the day, my grandparents had a big drawer filled with skeleton keys that didn’t really seem to go to anything.  It was deeply evocative yet ultimately frustrating—like a shelf full of novels in an unknown language or a secret passage in the back of a painting.  Today’s post is like that as well.  Here are beautiful keys to unknown locks.  Larger context is missing.

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This post is almost like a Flickr gallery.  And yet the keys are very beautiful.  Plus it has been forever since we featured a Gothic post (and I like to have a few Gothic posts during the holidays when night is ascendant).  Ferrebeekeeper might be running out of Gothic posts.  Maybe we have mined that seam dry or do any of you have any ideas?  Is there another locked door somewhere that this key goes to?

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Fertile Patch

Fertile Patch (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, colored pencil and ink)

Here are four more little drawings from the little sketchbook I carry around during the day.  The first drawing (above) features some Mesopotamian warriors and creatures wandering through a brilliant green fertile world.

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East River (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil)

Next is a little drawing of the view across the East River from the spot where I eat lunch on nice days.  New York has been ridiculously pretty for December.  Sometimes it is pretty hard to leave the view of the sparkling river and the traffic flowing through Brooklyn Heights and go back to my beige cubicle.

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The Knight and the Casuist (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

My favorite of this batch of doodles is this brave but dimn knight in the English countryside.  Whatever quest he is on has taken him into conversation with this malicious bishop-ghoul.  It looks like the dark apparition is getting the better of the hero in their discourse.  I think there is a scene like this in “The Fairy Queen.”  Have you read that?  It is longer than the Bible but there are scenes of pellucid beauty and charm.

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Pleasure Garden (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Finally here is last fantasy scene set in some garden utopia.  Otherworldly beasts stretch and preen on the glowing yards as Chistmassy trees stretch into the clear blue sky.  I hope you enjoy these little drawings. I have to rememeber to put up some of my real art works here for the Holiday season!

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Behold the terrifying (yet appealingly rainbow-colored) maw of death of a vicious undersea predator. This is Neoclinus blanchardi commonly known as “the sarcastic fringehead.”  Though the mouth of the sarcastic fringehead may evokes medieval hellmouth illuminations, in the real world the fish is not particularly terrifying to us humans.  The largest specimens only grow to 30 centimeters in length (about a foot).  They live in the Pacific Ocean down the California coast from San Francisco to Baja.  These fish are truly coastal—they can be found in waters from 3 to 73 metres (9.8 to 239.5 ft) deep.  They hide in crevices, empty shells, and sundry other niches.  Thanks to their huge mouths they eat anything smaller than themselves.

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The sarcastic fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi)

Like that one guy at work, the fringehead is noted for having a big mouth and displaying aggressive territorial behavior.  Male fringeheads frequently tussle over prime spots.  They have a have a unique means of resolving these disputes.  Both fish expand their colorful mouths to the fullest extent possible and then press them together.  As in contemporary politics, whoever has the biggest mouth is the victor.

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Pōhutukawa trees in bloom at Christmas time

Around the world the Christmas season is celebrated with conifer trees–symbol of undying life in the winter darkness….except…in some places Christmas is celebrated in the middle of summer! Some places don’t have pine trees.  This introduction takes us wayyyyy down south to the New Zealand archipelago, home of the pōhutukawa tree (Metrosideros excelsa) “The New Zealand Christmas tree.”

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Sort of “Gilding the Lily” but more so

‏Pōhutukawa trees‏ are indeed evergreens (of the myrtle family) but they are not pine trees…or conifers at all.  These hardy coastal trees are known for tenaciously clinging to sea cliffs, but, above all, they are known for brilliant displays of exquisitely colorful flowers.  The blossoms, which are composed of huge spiky masses of colorful stamens, peak just as summer begins—the end of December.   Some flowers are yellow, pink, white, or orange, but the most characteristic specimens have blooms of brilliant red.

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The trees are native to the northern island. Ancient specimens can grow to be 25 meters in height (about 83 feet) and they are wider than they are tall, but invasive animals and agricultural deforestation have reduced the great forests to a spectral shadow of their former glory.  The hungry brushtail possum is a particular menace to the tree since the marsupial invader strips it of all its leaves. Nineteenth century mariners were guilty as well—the tough arching boughs of the tree were ideally suited for building and repairing beams of wooden ships.

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Gasp! Bad Possum! Bad Possum!

Fortunately New Zealanders love the magnificent trees and plant them everywhere.  There are numerous cultivars growing in gardens throughout the lovely islands.  The trees are sometimes decorated at Christmas just like more familiar Christmas trees.  Devoted pōhutukawa conservationists are working to restore the forests. Additionally the trees are not without their own toughness. They are one of the most efficient plants at colonizing naked lava rock where volcanoes have spewed out new lands.

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It’s the middle of the night.  I was working on decorating the house for the holiday season and I didn’t wrote a proper blog post for today.  But I have been decorating…so I was thinking about brilliant colors.  Thus, apropos of absolutely nothing, here is a gallery of dazzling colorful mascots.  Enjoy their context-free splendor!  Marvel at their dazzling strangeness… There are so many hues but there is so little content….

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Hey! That’s a peacock spider not a mascot…

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Hey! I know that toucan…

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Colorful Boy Man Mascot Costume Fancy Dress Outfit EPE

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Tomorrow I will write a better post…in case you weren’t sated by the toucan or that, uh, that thing.  Have a great night! At least we got to meet the University of Hawaii rainbow warrior.

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The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior

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