Mike Sissons artwork

My old friend is an artist and art teacher.

Right now he’s working on art for a new book called In Retrospect by Ellen Larson.

… In the year 3324 the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. …

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Actually, that’s just the working cover.

Final art and animation are still in the works.

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Ellen’s trying to get the writing funded through Kickstarter – $3000 goal.

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Van Gogh to Rothko in 30 seconds

art.com video in support of their new iPad app.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related video:

500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art

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photos – Mexico City

The reputation is a polluted, dangerous mega-city.

But I find Mexico City to be tourist friendly & easy to navigate via the third busiest subway system in the world. (Stay out of the cabs.)

Having seen most of the tourist attractions in the past, this time I wandered some of the major green spaces including the largest university.

I arrived in Mexico City on Jan. 5, 2006. To my surprise the holiday lights were still up in the main square.

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Jan. 6th was “Three Kings Day”.

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The most popular hostel looks over the central plaza, an ideal location.

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Quirky. A most appropriate word for this city. Cow statues line the largest park.

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A most delicious snack outside the Museum of Anthropology

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A park spray foam battle.

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University City, one of the largest in the world with over 260,000 students.

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The signature building on campus is a library, entirely covered by mosaics by Juan O’Gorman.

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Mexican art is not always good, but it is often BIG.

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1968 Olympic Stadium.

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love the puma logo of UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico).

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Another huge building mural.

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Life is Beautiful – New Zealand

Nov 22, 2002

I finally saw the charming film Life is Beautiful. The academy award for best actor to Italian Chaplin Roberto Benigni was well deserved.

I was convinced — if I played my cards right — I too could win a real life tank.

Life is beautiful. You simply need to put the right spin on things.

I have always been cheerfully skilled at self-delusion; looking for the positive, no regrets.

Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Altadore Gym Club, Europe 1976, University of Calgary, Saskatoon, Mott the Hoople and the game of Life. Looking back it all seems right and wondrous to me.

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Life is a beach too.

One of the best things in New Zealand is living on the sea shore — especially for me coming from the arid North American high prairie.

Strolling the flower strewn dunes of New Brighton beach. Bright sunshine. Cooling Pacific breeze. It is hard to beat.

At low tide, I often bike between home and the gym.

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Did you celebrate Bonfire Night? For some reason beyond my ken, people here celebrate a terrorist named Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the King and British Parliament in the 1600s. New Brighton pier is the centre of Fawkian revelry.

It was very Apocalypse Now with helicopters trailing fireworks, blaring Ride of the Valkyries. Rockets mounted on the pier like mortars.

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My neighbourhood is the wrong side of the tracks. Drunken vandalism, garbage can fires, graffiti and like hyjinks is a typical Saturday night. We have a huge police station nearby but I have yet to see a cop outside a police car.

When I mention where I live to Kiwis many grin broadly and recount one of a number of fantastic drunks they had in New Brighton. It was once the most popular beach in New Zealand being the only one open on Sundays. It is still famed for a good piss-up.

My last month working in Christchurch, I actually will miss many things in my neighbourhood — the best veggie burger in the world; (egg, pineapple, beet root, tomato) from New Brighton Burger Bar. Mr. Wong from Hong Kong has been slapping these together for over 40 years.

Hong Kong Take-a-ways for Chow Mien … and the Chang Rai Thai lunch special. The library, watching the surfers, Jackson’s Bakery.

Ah well, Thoreau told that a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. I can move on. My stint at the Christchurch School of Gymnastics was … beautiful. It is a great life experience to live in another country.

Friends are arriving from Canada next week — I will join them December 21st on the NZ backpacker trail.

Looking forward to the holidays?

– Kiwi Rick

Photo — an elderly Chinese man traipsed across the artwork in the sand oblivious to the beauty underfoot. Can you see his shoes?

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What’s Wrong with Poetry?

Dec. 1996

rick_mugI like poetry. But only as a participation sport. Baseball is the same way, enjoyable almost only when you are at the plate.

I’ve tried to enjoy reading poetry, listening to poetry, even speaking poetry aloud. Pitiful. It’s almost always a letdown.

One authority said that poetry “involves a precise choice of words that will have implications and suggestions that go past the words themselves”. OK. I like an intellectual challenge.

One authority went on to say that through poetry you “experience the radiance, the epiphany … a showing through of the essence.” Shake your head! Typical poetic hyperbole.

Now, poetry put to music is a far, far richer soup. Recall Patti Smith’s Horses. I love Van Morisson’s Rave on, John Donne. Neil Young is a genius people’s poet, better, in my mind, than Bob Dylan who is too often self-indulgently cryptic. Dylan’s best song is Hurricane which, for a welcome change, he delivers with a sledgehammer. Lately? I was impressed with Sheryl Crow’s debut.

Best singer-poet? I guess it would be the “eternal hipster” Leonard Cohen. When he gets it right, it’s really, really right. Though even his poetry pales on the page compared with disc.

And Cohen is an honest poet. He said that his songs really have no meaning for most people; but they have an effect on many, “like putting an icecube in scotch”.

The reputation and significance of poetry is far over-rated. Let me be clear. The emperor has no clothes. (And don’t get me started on classical music.)

Rave On, John Donne
– Van Morrison

Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
Down through the weeks of ages
In the moss borne dark dank pools

Rave on, down through the industrial revolution
Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age
Rave on down through time and space, down through the corridors
Rave on words on printed page

Rave on, you leftist infinity
And well pressed pages torn to fade
Drive on with wild abandon
Uptempo, frenzied heels

Rave on, Walt Whitman, nose down in wet grass
Rave on fill the senses
On nature’s bright green shady path

Rave on Omar Khayyam, Rave on Kahlil Gibran
Oh, what sweet wine we drinketh
The celebration will be held
We will partake the wine and break the Holy bread

Rave on let a man come out of Ireland
Rave on on Mr. Yeats,
Rave on down through the Holy Rosey Cross
Rave on down through theosophy, and the Golden Dawn
Rave on through the writing of “A Vision”
Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on