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Happy April Fools Day—or Happy April Fish! (as it is known in France).  This is a special day for several reasons.

Most importantly today is the anniversary of Ferrebeekeeper which came into existence 7 years ago today!  Since then, there have been lots of snakes, Goths, catfish, and colorful stories.  I have gotten some things completely and utterly wrong, but I have always tried to do my best and be honest and keep the content coming, even when I was tired or sick or sad at heart.  This is the one thousand five hundred and twelfth post!  That’s a lot of clams and crowns! To celebrate, I am putting up three flounder-themed artworks (literal poissons d’Avril) and I am also announcing the rollout of a bizarre and compelling new online toy to appear here soon.  I won’t tell you what it is (although I guess a prophet could tell you) but I will drop hints during next week’s blog posts.

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Unless you are a Dagon-worshiper or a Micronesian, April Fish is one of the few fish-themed holidays on the calendar and so it is very precious for me, as a fish-themed artist.  Additionally, today celebrates being careful in the face of obviously fake news stories.  Now lately there have been lots of weird propaganda statements and transparent lies issuing from certain albescent domiciles in Washington DC, so the waters are even more muddied than usual (almost as if antagonists to the east are deliberately throwing up lots of lies and fake stories to make the real news seem suspect to people who are not very good at reading), but it is wise to be eternally on guard.  Getting to the bottom of things is difficult, but a good rule of thumb is that real news is messy and complicated and offers more questions than answers (and lots of seeming contradictions), whereas self-serving puffery is generally gloriously simple and shifts all blame onto some third party (like Freemasons, foreigners, witches, or journalists).

Thank you all so much for reading.  I treasure your attention and your patience. Forgive me for being so tardy in responding to comments and kindly pardon my errors or mistakes in judgement.  Keep reading and looking and I will keep on writing, drawing, and floundering.  There are glorious things ahead for all of us.

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I still haven’t been able to respond as quickly or as well to comments as I would like (it’s one of my 2017 resolutions, but I clearly need to keep working on it!).  To make up for this a little bit, I am going to use today’s whole post to respond to a query.  Long-time Ferrebeekeeper reader and commenter, Beatrix, asked a great question in response to my post about New Year resolutions. She asked ‘How do you promote your blog?”

Now the literal answer to this is: um…I don’t.  I don’t really promote my art either.  It has always seemed to me that you can be good at doing things, or you can be good at promoting yourself.  The divergence between the two explains so much about our world of shiny empty celebrity and poor outcomes.  Yet, if the self-promoters can fill up the world with their hate rallies, rap videos, and stupid naked selfies, we artists and writers can at least make a little more time to promote ourselves and each other.  Andy Warhol’s acolytes can’t have everything, dammit (even if they have ascended to the nation’s highest office).

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As classically construed, self-promotion involves pushy behavior and obtrusive stunts, but there are things that regular people can do too.  I am going to rebuild my online art gallery, sell more inexpensive prints and artworks, and “cross promote” across platforms. I am also going to rephrase Beatrix’s question and crowd-source it to all of you: what do YOU think works best for promoting content in our world where everyone is always trying to get people to look at their youtube channel (or using cheap stunts like caps and bold letters to catch attention)?

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(Or just portrait photos)

Most importantly though, I am also going to promote Beatrix’s blog “Keep Calm and Curry On” This delightful site features amazing anecdotes and tales of daily life in rural Nepal and life beneath the eves of “the roof of the world”.  Beatrix talks of her multicultural marriage which combines the world’s two largest democracies under one nuptial roof.  She also gives us a treasure trove of essays on gardens and herblore which literally bring you the flavor of South Asia.

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But all of that is merely garnish: the true main course of her blog is a magnificent list of curry recipes. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but you can tell they will be delicious just by the ingredients.  As a winter treat I promise to cook one of your curries, Beatrix, and I will blog the results here.  However first I need to get a chance to walk to the other side of Ditmas Park (or maybe even head over to Kalustyan’s).   These recipes are obviously delicious, but they don’t make any concessions to the American household which has maybe a jar of Madras curry powder or some cumin.   It might take me a little while to get some cassia leaves and ghee (and to dig the cardamom pods and turmeric of of the back of the cabinet), but I know it will be worth it.

So check out Beatrix’s site, and head over to Instagram and look at my “Flounderful” collection.  Even more great content is on the way, and, above all, let everyone know what you think with a comment!  Readers are the best people in the world.  I love you all. so let us hear directly from YOU!

…plus here’s a saucy celebrity gif.

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Hey! How did that get here?

960fdb911b03d1f06ca05e6fc84fc123My apologies! I usually try to write a blog post every workday (and answer comments the day…or at least the week…that you all leave them), however, unfortunately my poor computer became overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of the modern world and died unexpectedly.  It was one of those classic heartbreaking electronic death scenes: I was watching the emotional climax of a movie on Netflix when suddenly there was a loud diminishing power-down noise (poink! BZZzzzzfffft) and the image collapsed into a jagged phosphorescent line and suddenly my only computer was as dead as bipartisan compromise in America.

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It is shocking how much is on a computer.  I don’t just use it to write and communicate with friends around the world.  It is also my graphic resource, my stereo, my document archive, my financial records, and my cookbook.  Let this tale serve as a cautionary reminder to back things up on those cheap little portable hard drives!

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Anyway, thanks to a heroic intercession by my friend the IT manager (who swooped in like Apollo on a cloud in French Neoclassical theatre) I am back in business with no lasting harm done.  The whole scary episode has led me to reflect on the central place of computers in our lives…and yet they are all utilitarian gray and black boxes.   If I designed a computer, it would look like a glowing ball of energy in a bell jar suspended on cabriolet legs—not like a flat screen connected to a miniature metal utility shed. I wondered if somebody had spent some time to jazz up computers with gothic stylings (a favorite aesthetic of mine) and I found these images which I have used to illustrate this post.  These are so cool!  Why can’t we have prettier computers?  People of the future are going to look at our metal rectangles and conclude that we were primitives….although I guess if one’s fancy computer that looks like a Gothic cathedral just suddenly died it would be even more crushing than otherwise.

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Anyway, i am sorry for the blog interruption.  I will try to answer everyone’s excellent comments tomorrow!  In the mean time, it’s good to be back on the internet!

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So, over the holidays I gave some coloring books to my friends’ daughter.  It was gratifying to see how the coloring books, by grace of being the last presents of Christmas Day, stole her attention from the electronic doodads and the flying fairy which could actually fly (although, as a toymaker, I am still thinking about that particular toy).  In gift-giving, as in gymnastics, going last is a position of strength!  The little girl, who is four, graciously let me color one of the illustrations–a sacred elephant which was composed of magical spirit beings from Thai mythology–which I colored in fantastical fluorescent hues (while she colored her way through a collection of amazing animals from around the world).  As we were coloring, the adults at the party made various observations about coloring—about who colored inside the lines and what it indicated about their personality and so forth.

From Dover's "Thai Decorative Designs" Coloring Book amazing

From Dover’s “Thai Decorative Designs” Coloring Book amazing

I think my elephant turned out pretty well (although since, I failed to take a picture, you’ll just have to believe me).  Also I think my friend’s daughter was inspired to try some new techniques—like darkening the edges of objects.  It also seemed like she tried to pay more attention to the lines.

The experience took me back to my own childhood when I loved to color coloring books, especially with grandma or mom (both of whom had a real aptitude for precise coloring).  However I was also reminded of being deeply frustrated by the books on several levels as a child.  First of all, I was exasperated by my traitorous hands which would not color with the beautiful precision and depth that the adults could master.  I always saved the best picture in coloring books for later when I was grown up and could color it as beautifully as I wanted it to be colored.  As far as I know, these pictures all remain uncolored—somewhere out there is that 1978 Star Trek coloring book picture with all the crazy aliens, just waiting for me to come back with my Prismacolor pencils and nimble adult fingers and finally make it look good…

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Most importantly, I was frustrated that the most amazing pictures—the ones that were exactly as I wanted them to be–were not in the coloring books at all.  You have to make up the ones you really want and draw them yourself.

Aesthetics have gone wrong—it has been taken over by charlatans who cannot think up good pictures.  Instead today’s marquis artists are obsessed only with provocatively going outside the lines.  Like the kid in first grade who always did what he thought would be shocking, this quickly becomes tiresome.   Additionally, I think we all discovered that the “shock value” kid was easily manipulated.  So too are today’s famous artists who all end up serving Louis Vuitton (I’m looking at you, Takashi Murakami) or other slimy corporate masters who simply want free marketing.  Art and aesthetics should be more than ugly clickbait!  Our conception of beauty shapes are moral conception of society and the world. Therefore my New Year’s resolution is to be a better painter… and to explain myself better.  Next year I promise to write more movingly about beauty, meaning, and humankind’s place in the natural world (which I have finally realized is the theme of my artworks).    Avaricious marketers and art school hacks are not the only people who can take to the internet to explain themselves!

Takashi Murakami 7

Takashi Murakami 7

And of course there will be lots of amazing animals and magnificent trees and exquisite colors and crazy stories from history (and we will always keep one eye on outer space).  The list of categories over there to the left is becoming restrictive!  It’s time to bust out and write about all sorts of new things!  Happy New Year! 2015 is going to be great!  Enjoy your New Year’s celebrations and I’ll see you back here next year!

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Ferrebeekeeper is quickly coming up on its 1000th post (this one, which you are reading is the 990th). Before we get to the thousandth post, we’re going to have a special top ten countdown to look back at some of the highlights of all the topics we have covered so far. Then I’ll write something really super special for the millennial post! After that, it will be Halloween-time, which always features some of our best material…so it’s going to be a great autumn! However, before we get to these thrilling special events and celebrations, I wanted to address some of the issues raised by this blog and also ask the readers a few questions.

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Most importantly, what is the purpose of this blog…or any blog? I actually started writing Ferrebeekeeper merely because a friend set it up for me. Also my blog-hero Andreas Kluth (who has seemingly stopped writing his blog, now that his book is published) recommended blogging as a way to organize one’s thoughts, feelings, and creative impulses. Ferrebeekeeper has 29 topics (you can see them right there to the left) and I try to write about one of them each day. Sometimes I can combine several—like when I write about Chinese snake art, or Ancient Egyptian bee-crowns. Those are happy days! Other days I can’t think of anything that fits any of the listed topics—so I write something random and chuck it under “uncategorized.”

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So I started this blog to share interesting and meaningful things with you–and that is still my wish. I want to use it to push forward my ideas about art, science, and human progress. I also want to keep this blog exciting and relevant—and growing. Yet now I am also stumbling about accidentally on the threshold of a career in journalism. Writing articles a certain way in exchange for money is causing me to reassess the purpose and future directions of Ferrebeekeeper. The media world has been changing with vertiginous rapidity. Sadly, for someone who is a technophile with dreams of space colonization, I have minimal web-savvy—so I didn’t get into the blogging game until the golden age of blogs had passed. Yet the idea of blogs is uniquely powerful and democratic. Ferrebeekeeper is a sort of one-person magazine about life, art, science, and history. Yet when one compares it to a real magazine, the differences become abundantly clear. Magazines are made to make money. They are large corporate entities with marketers, logisticians, and advertisers (in addition to all of the artists, writers, and editors who make the content).

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Instead of a whole team of highly paid artists, illustrators, writers, editors, marketers, and photographers working together to churn out exciting highly produced content, there is just me in my pajamas trying to create a daily post [editor’s note; he doesn’t actually have pajamas…or, for that matter, an editor]. I do the best I can, but some days the research does not pan out and the topic ends up a bit flat (like, erm, cough, this bland post about the color viridian).

Of course a few blogs (or tumblers or twitter accounts or whatever) are making it big. If you specialize, you can sell to special advertisers. My friend always tells the story of his cousin the Korean food blogger who was able to retire from her day job of being trapped in a beige cubicle. All she does now is write about delicious Korean food every day as sponsors fight each other to giver her money! Can you imagine?

 

Argh! Why didn't I write about Korean food?

Argh! Why didn’t I write about Korean food?

But I suppose the point of writing a blog isn’t to seek out wealth and fame (which is what twitter and reality TV are for). Instead I write this blog to explore the world (the universe?) in two ways. The first and most obvious is that I have to find out something every workday and write about it. Some posts, like the ones about parthenogenesis, brown dwarf stars, or alternation of generations are especially interesting and challenging. I am forced to learn all sorts of new things to write effectively about science, history, and geography. However, even the rapidly slapped together “list” posts of mollusk mascots or gothic clocks offer precious and unexpected insights into what is beautiful, intriguing, and meaningful. There have been points where I felt like everything was going to come together in some amazing epiphany–Chinese painting, turkeys, invaders, art, astronomy, and history would all become the same thing and I would understand the world. That larger understanding of how everything fits together always ends up eluding me, yet writing helps me try to weave wildly disparate threads of knowledge into a coherent weltanschauung.

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The second way that this blog allows me to explore the world is through the readers who are always making unexpected connections, or asking questions. Since I can not travel the globe in person, I do so through this blog. Intelligent people from all sorts of different countries have written comments to me (and, according to the analytics tool, even more of you are reading). I am poor at quickly responding to people’s submissions, but I always try to respond cogently.  Please keep writing comments!  I know that wordpress makes it hard to respond, but I really esteem your input.

I guess the point of this blog is you–the readers! Of course, like all writers, I want to be read and to reach more like-minded souls! The fact that someone is actually reading Ferrebeekeeper is what makes it different from being a diary or a weird set of notes. I am constantly thinking about how I can make this effort more appealing while not selling out and using misleading click-bait to write about worthless celebrities.

Although Katy Perry always manages to sneak in somehow.

Although Katy Perry always manages to sneak in somehow.

It comes down to this paradox. This blog is not about selling something (although I guess WordPress sometimes puts ads on it), yet I do want it to be better and reach more people—which involves selling myself more effectively. What can I do to improve? How can I make this space better for you? Please write to me with your concerns, suggestions, and comments.  Working together, we can make the next thousand posts even more astonishing and beautiful!

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Root Doodle (Wayne Ferrebee, ink and colored pencil)

I’m going to steer clear of April Fool’s hijinks because today marks Ferrebeekeeper’s one year anniversary! Happy anniversary to all readers!  To celebrate, I am posting doodles which I drew during business meetings during the previous year.  Hopefully their silly nature will satisfy your funnybone and provide an adequate anniversary celebration.

Doodle of Dynastic Egypt (Wayne Ferrebee, pen and colored pencil)

This one year anniversary also provides an excellent occasion for the announcement of exciting future plans and for some remarks concerning the overarching structure and themes of this blog.  First, the announcement: I am going to launch my online gallery of my own artworks by the beginning of May.  I always intended this blog as an interdisciplinary means to provide context and meaning to my visual art—and yet I have never even shown any of my paintings or drawings to you!  For shame! So it’s time to grasp the chimera by the horns and post digital images of the finished paintings and drawings I currently have on hand. I hope to smoothly integrate the gallery of images with the daily blog:  ideally the two will combine to form a powerful and unique synthesis.  However,  the project is liable to be chaotic–and so I apologize in advance for disruptions and confusion.  On the plus side, I have been growing and improving as an artist so I am excited to share my works with you.  As always I am eagerly looking forward to your remarks and comments.  As proof of my earnestness I am publishing some scans of doodles I made during office meetings—but be assured these are only scribbles I made to pass the time.  I don’t have digital images of my real work yet, but my real oeuvre is coming soon to this space.

Blue urban caprice (Wayne Ferrebee, Colored pencil and pen)

OK…onward to some remarks about this blog itself:

The categories I have chosen for Ferrebeekeeper are the symbols I cling to in my quest for meaning. I’m going to explain better how they relate to one another. In the era before computers, people writing research papers or other large nonfiction works would keep relevant facts on notecards indexed by subject.  The daily posts which I put here are rather like such collected notecards.  I truly hope that each one is intriguing in its own right and provides you a daily moment of wonder at the beauty and strangeness of Greek monsters or wombats or the planet Mercury. But the interdisciplinary subjects serve a larger purpose.  There is a relationship between serpents, gothic art, and chthonic gods.  There are commonalities underpinning the lives of mollusks, turkeys, catfish, and mammals as they compete for resources and strive to reproduce themselves. As I put up my art gallery I will try to explain why I post about crowns (the short answer is I think they are funny) and how these jeweled hats actually represent certain important aspects of history and politics.  I will attempt to underline the relationships between these disparate subjects and explain how they provide meaningful frames of reference about the larger world.

Whimsical Doodle of City and Sweets (Wayne Ferrebee, pen and colored pencil)

I will leave you with the funniest of my doodles.  It portrays a handsome young mollusk cyclops wondering through a world of possibilities and enticements.  Things might not be perfect, but it still looks like he/she/it is having fun! I certainly am as I write this and I hope you are enjoying reading. Happy Bloggiversary and Happy April Fool’s Day! Here’s looking forward to another good year!

Casual sketch of a One-eyed Mollusk on Holiday (Wayne Ferrebee, pen and ink with crayon)

Dearest Readers,

It is I, your earnest friend, Wayne Ferrebee.  I’m going to start up a blog about art, science, history, and everything else I care about.  This is my very first post.

Ha ha!  April Fools!  I have orchestrated a merry prank on all of you!

Hmm, actually wait a minute.  Now that I think about it maybe it really is time to start blogging…

“Well, did he start a blog or not?”  “Who cares?  Let’s drink!”

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