Friday, April 25, 2003

I spent all of October 2002 backpacking solo through western Europe. My favorite city was Florence, and as most are, I became awestruck by its cathedral, the Santa Maria del Fiore. I just finished reading a great book by Ross King titled, Brunelleschi's Dome, about the architect of the cathedral's dome and its construction. I thoroughly enjoyed its combination of history, travel, and engineering -- all big interests of mine. The cathedral's design called for a massive dome. The problem was that the architects had no idea how to build one that large. The construction continued with the idea that once the builders reached that point, someone would hopefully have a solution. Thus, a big hole stood in the roof for fifty years until a man named Filippo Brunelleschi came along and developed an ingenious solution that allowed for them to construct the massive dome without interior supports -- an architectural marvel. Besides the architecture of the dome itself, Brunelleschi also had to design cranes and lifts that could raise 2000 pound loads hundreds of feet. And this was in the early 1400's. The book was fascinating. Of particular intrigue to me was of the time itself. During my trip I took a train ride from Milan to Florence, with a sidetrip to Pisa. Therefore I enjoyed reading how Milan and Florence were at war with one another and the methods of warfare, including the diversion of rivers to flood cities. It put into perspective how devastating the black plague was during this time as it decimated the populations of Florence and Rome. Also interesting was Brunelleschi's associations with Donatello and Michaelangelo. Again -- a great book -- and a wonderful way for me to regain and deepen my associations with Florence.

Monday, April 21, 2003

It's been a while since I've written anything here. The big irony of my life is that when I have the most to write about, I write the least. I've had an interesting month.

While my artistic output has been low as of late, I have been doing some writing and reading. Tomorrow I'll be sending out a recently completed short story called Threes to the Seattle Review. Wish it good luck.

My artistic output has been low lately, but I have put up a half-dozen watercolor and oil pastel nudes in the Oil and Acrylic and Watercolor sections. I did these during January and February. I also put up a new acrylic painting titled Stargazer Over Nude that I finished a few days ago. A few of the watercolors bleed really bright when looking at them on the laptop. I'll have to see if there's something I can do to prevent this. Perhaps I can work some magic on the scanner end.

A few months ago a writer named Jonathan Ames appeared on David Letterman, promoting his new book, What's Not to Love? The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer. The last author I saw appear was David Sedaris, whose book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, I subsequently bought and loved. With that setting a solid precedent, a few weeks ago I bought Ames' What's Not to Love? It may be the most entertaining book I have ever read. It's funny, poignant, and touching. He lives one hell of a life. I highly recommend this book with the following caveat... his autobiographical vignettes deal with his delayed puberty, shitting his pants in France, genital warts, enemas, and picking up prostitutes... so you may not want to pick up the book if you are heavily offended by any of these topics. Actually, you should pick it up if you are. It could do you some good.

I loved this book so much that in the past two weeks I have bought and read his other three books: I Pass Like Night, My Less Than Secret Life, and The Extra Man.