Finally, Autumn

Our temperatures here in north Texas will finally (!) be seasonally adjusted this week from Broil to Simmer and finally, Acceptable:


(I left the silly Celsius things there for the benefit of my Furrin Readers)

My laptop’s wallpaper reflects that mood, although fall in Texas is never that pretty:


(right-click to embiggen and save)

I don’t know where that is;  my instincts say New Hampshire because of the granitic boulders, but I’ll be persuaded otherwise.

Silken Drapes

I have always been fascinated, not to say turned on, by the appearance of the female form when loosely covered with soft, diaphanous materials such as silk, satin or linen.  Here’s an example of what I mean, that of a statue of Callipygian Venus, in the Louvre:

The nineteenth-century American sculptor William Wetmore Story specialized in the form, seen here with his Cleopatra Reclining:

…and Semiaramis:

That last pic I took myself when the statue was on display at the Dallas Museum of Art, and I stared at it for ages.

Story, by the way, had this to say about sculpture in general:

Quite so.

Nowadays, of course, such wondrous sights are few and far between, and pretty much confined to photography.  Although there is this lovely picture of Mr. and Mrs. David Bowie:

…wherein even the bony Angela looks quite appealing, most such pictures seem to need backlighting:

…while most (shall we say) are more prurient:

Honestly?  I prefer Story’s sculptures to all of them.

Detail

For the past week or so, this pic has been my wallpaper — and a pretty pic is is, too.

However, only a day ago my eye was drawn to this little detail in the bottom-right corner:

I mean, if you’re going to do that camping thing, there are far uglier places to do it e.g. Newark NJ or Bradford Yorks.  Still, it niggles me for reasons I can’t explain.

In Praise Of The Fish-Bellied

As a Registered White Person Of Severely Anglo-Saxon Heritage, I have a very pale skin.  When newly born, my hair was actually white-blonde, but later darkened to ash-blonde and then tawny-blonde in my twenties and thirties (and thence to gray, but we all know about that part).  My eyes:  blue.  My skin has remained stubbornly pale — suntanning, in my case, is actually a brief period of ow-ow-ow burn red, followed by (if I’m lucky) a couple days of sorta-tanned, and then it reverts to its habitual color of white.

That’s me;  but what it means is that as a paleface, I have no problem with light-complexioned women — in fact, in most cases I find pale white skin unbearably sexy.  The old (Victorian?) attitude of “pale skin means ladylike, dark skin means farm worker” must somehow have wormed itself into my psyche — I have no idea if this is even possible, but who cares? — because my belle idéal  has always been a pale, even fish-belly-white skin.

Hence of course my adoration of redheads.  Here’s Julianne Moore, for example:

 

(I know she’s an insufferable liberal twerp, but I don’t want to talk politics to her;  my discussions would preferably be more of a Ugandan nature.)

All this came to me when I read this little piece:

Angela Scanlon has revealed that while she’s embraced her glitzy Strictly [Come Dancing] makeover, there’s one show tradition that she won’t be adhering to. The presenter, 39, has revealed she’s drawn the line at having a spray tan during her time on the show after refusing to cover her naturally pale skin.

Angela, who is partnered with pro dancer Carlos Gu, previously admitted it’s taken her 15 years to accept her complexion, sharing the insight during an appearance on Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel, where her specialist subject was redheads.

Young Angela has featured on these pages before, so Loyal Readers will know of whom I speak.  Here’s a reminder, for the forgetful / ignorant ones among you:

…and here she is in the aforementioned show:

And for those interested in such things, here are her legs, without fake tan:

I think I may need another Breakfast Gin.  Or a cold shower.

Hidden Depths

I have to admit that while I can appreciate Renaissance art — paintings, I mean, not the sculptures, which I love — I’ve always found the old guys to be a little too much on the Christian thing.  I mean, how many Madonna w/Baby Jesus renderings are there?

Take Agostino Carracci, for example.  Here’s his “Judith As Woman” work, which should make her the idol of ultra-feminists everywhere:

Then there’s the “Last Communion of St. Jerome”, which may have been big news back in the day, but which is not that relevant in today’s world.

Happily, Carracci (Agostino, not his several brothers, sons and cousins — all artists themselves) didn’t just confine himself to religious themes.  Here’s his “Landscape with Bathers”:

…wait, what’s that detail over on the right?

Nekkid bodies?  With no carefully-draped linen (see Jerome, above) to disguise their nekkidness?

Well;  it turns out that ol’ Aggie had a whole ‘nother body of work in the I Modi school, which probably gave people fits. I’m not quite sure how many of the examples below are his — the style varies, and some were printed from his woodcuts — but here are a few:

Read more

Top Telly

Britishland’s Radio Times has published a Top 100 list of TV shows (from the beginning, i.e. early 1950s, until yesterday).

I read through the whole thing (so you don’t have to), and apart from the inexplicable inclusion of American shows (e.g. Hill Street Blues and M*A*S*H*) on the list, it’s not bad.  Of course, I haven’t seen all of them — give me a break, we didn’t even have TV in South Africa till I turned 21 — but I thought I’d share my thoughts on the ones I have.

What the hell, it’s the weekend, right?

The Comedies

  • Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again — actually, the John Cleese Collection — all classics, all brilliant.
  • Not The Nine O’Clock News :  what SNL’s Weekly Update  tried to be, and failed (unless Norm McDonald was the host) — and speaking of Rowan Atkinson:
  • Blackadder :  historical satire at its very finest, helped by an unbelievable supporting cast (Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Rik Mayall, Miriam Margolies, etc.).
  • The Royle Family :  most Brits of my acquaintance absolutely hated this show about working-class losers;  I loved it.

Drama

  • The Duchess of Duke Street :  excellent fin-de-siècle  series set in the late 1880s until post-WWI, with the wonderful Gemma Jones as the “Duchess”.  One of my prized DVD collections.
  • The Singing Detective :  unbearable to watch, but so good you can’t stop.  Forget everything you ever knew about Michael Gambon:  this is his finest performance.  Ignore the silly U.S. remake.  Also in my collection.
  • After Life :  funny, dark, poignant and sensitive;  Ricky Gervais’s best work.  I think I’ve watched this series half a dozen times, and counting.

Cops ‘n Robbers

  • The Sweeney :  long before NYPD Blue‘s Andy Sipowicz, there was the gritty Jack Regan.
  • Inspector Morse :  wherein the gritty working-class Jack Regan turns into the calm, analytic and cultured Morse, both having been played by the same actor.
  • Cracker :  tortured and flawed genius solving crimes;  Robbie Coltrane in a non-comic tour de force.  I have the set, but there’s a warning attached:  do not watch the postscript episode (set in Hong Kong), because not only is it terrible, it was an afterthought, cobbled together at the last minute, and none of the loose ends from the final series were tied up.

Sci-Fi

Never watched any of them.  I did watch one episode of Doctor Who, and it was awful.

Documentaries

  • The World At War (I have this series on DVD):  probably the greatest WWII documentary ever — it’s hard to argue about Hitler’s behavior, for example, when you have Traudl Junge (his actual secretary) describing it.
  • Civilisation :  when I grow up, I want to be as educated as Sir Kenneth Clark.  I also have this series on DVD.

Missing from this Top 100 compilation (inexplicably, and shamefully):

  • Foyle’s War :  period drama with the brilliant Michael Kitchen (in Kim’s DVD collection)
  • The Young Ones :  anarchic comedy with Rik Mayall
  • The Goon Show (radio):  the groundbreaking show that defined anarchic comedy thereafter, all from the fevered imagination of Spike Milligan
  • Life On Mars :  detective show in the 70s, from the perspective of a 1990s transplant.  Maybe the good old days weren’t so good.
  • Waiting For God :  shenanigans at a retirement home with dark, biting comedy (in Kim’s DVD collection)
  • Absolutely Fabulous :  Jennifer Saunders’s hysterical over-the-top empty-headedness vs. Joanne Lumley’s feline degeneracy.
  • The Darling Buds Of May :  gentle bucolic comedy, with a fine cast (in Kim’s DVD collection).
  • The Avengers :  Patrick McNee’s bowler hat and Diana Rigg in skin-tight pants suits, ’nuff said.
  • The Persuaders :  Roger Moore and Tony Curtis;  who’d have thought they’d be a great pairing?
  • Doc Martin :  they left Martin Clunes’s show off the list?  Seriously?

All the above omissions should have been slotted in ahead of the American transplants;  not that the Yank shows are bad — they aren’t —  but they were essentially rebroadcasts.

If you haven’t seen any of the above shows, try to do so.  You won’t be sorry.