June 28, 2002

June 27, 2002

"Extremely Loud and Complex"

John Entwistle: 1944-2002

John Entwistle, bassist for The Who, is dead at 57.

John Alec Entwistle (was) probably the most influential bassist in rock music. Before Entwistle came along as a member of The Who, bassists seldom stood out for their playing and few casual listeners knew or cared what purpose the four-stringed instrument served — after he came along, everyone knew.

...

The Who had started out with Daltrey and Townshend sharing guitar chores, until Daltrey gave the instrument up. The change to a single guitar was vital to Entwistle (nicknamed "The Ox"), who began to play extremely loud and complex parts to compensate for the absence of a rhythm guitar — the result was that, from the Who's first singles to their last, Entwistle's bass work was some of the most complex and audible in rock music. He played fills, countermelodies, and all manner of material, and stood out doing it. Moreover, he tended to stand out precisely by not standing out: Townshend had his windmill strumming technique, Daltrey was the lead singer, and Moon was so animated on the drums that he was scary, but amid this pandemonium on stage, Entwistle simply stood there and played, providing an anchor that kept the band from flying off in all directions, both visually and musically.

  • The above quote is from the AMG entry on Entwistle
  • Guardian Report
  • NYTimes Obituary
  • The Real Me by The Who (Just listen to that bass!)

  • June 26, 2002

    Wow! We haven't seen a site this nice in a long time. The Art of James Bond is a fantastic collection of promotional material for the books and films of everybody's favorite secret agent, James Bond. It's all here; comic books, paperback covers, storyboards, movie posters, playboy spreads....everything...with gorgeous reproductions of every image. It's amazing (we know we say that often, but this is really, really cool).
    (link via BookNotes)

    Yeah, Yeah. We know. Portage has been a bit weak lately. Just a few photo collections and a lifted link or two. But, hey, come on..it's summertime and we've been doing summer things. Swimming, sailing, sitting on patios, and, of course, going to big Hollywood blockbusters. Tonight we saw two big new releases (we snuck into the second one for free! ha! take that Cineplex-Odeon!) , The Bourne Identity and Minority Report; and, guess what, they both rocked! Anyways we wanted to let you know that Portage is probably going to be a little bit light through July and August as we try and enjoy the summer, and maybe take a road trip or two, and we hope you have a great summer too.

    We've always admired the Quakers, and, every now and then, we've thought of chucking our super-glamourous, sin-filled, modern lives and joining them in the pure, good simple life. But then we go out for a few drinks and, the next thing you know, we're dancing around, waving our hands in the air like we just don't care, and we've forgotten all about being a Quaker. Well, they're celebrating 350 years, Happy Birthday Quakers!

    The Yukon Photographers: Gold Rush Era, 1897-1900 is a very nice exhibition of photographs taken by commercial photographers during the Yukon Gold Rush.

    June 24, 2002

    Around the World in the 1890s: Photographs from the World's Transportation Commission, 1894-1896 is a fabulous collection of 881 images (584 lantern slides, 297 silver gelatin prints) by photographer William Henry Jackson. Jackson, who accompanied the commission as it traveled from Africa across India and Asia and Australia, photographed various modes of transport including railroads, elephants, camels, horses, sleds and sleighs, sedan chairs, and rickshaws.Jackson also photographed city views, street and harbor scenes, landscapes, and local inhabitants. It's a spectacular collection.

    "No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar."
    A Scholar Recants on His 'Shakespeare' Discovery
    (link via Signal vs. Noise)

    June 21, 2002

    The photo above, from 1965, shows Patricia McDivitt and Patricia White talking to their husbands, Jim McDivitt and Ed White, who were in orbit aboard Gemini 4. The photo comes from Great Images In Nasa which is a wonderful collection of over a thousand very high quality images of all aspects of NASA's work (work that looks like a hell of a lot of fun). There's all kinds of great photos here from a picture of the Helios to the strangely eyeballish NGC 6751 to fun and games at the Langley Laboratory Annual Picnic on Buckroe Beach.
    (link via anil dash)

    June 19, 2002

    Nils Ringertz has died at the age of 69. (No, we're not going to pretend we'd heard of him before.) Ringertz was the creator of the great Nobel e-Museum which honours the winners of the famous annual prize. The Nobel e-Museum is a fantastic site to explore and a great resource. It contains loads of great information (over 7000 documents!) including biographies of, speeches by, and photographs of the winners in all six categories for the past 100 or so years. It also contains sample works by the winners in each field. The great educational sections contains loads of fun resources. A must-see.

    A startling, but refreshing, confession at Ftrain

    Now that I've blown any (indie) cred I might have, here's all of it: I like Tea for the Tillerman, The Joshua Tree and The Unforgettable Fire, The Wall, Wish You Were Here, Nothing Like the Sun (especially "Fragile''), Violator, and The The's Dusk. And every Steely Dan song, as well as some Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and even The Moody Blues, and some Journey. If you sit me down with an Alan Parsons Project album, I might like that too, depending. Plus I like wine from a box and I enjoy movies with Julia Roberts in them and movies where cars chase each other and one of the cars explodes, and I cried at Titanic.
    Getting into the confessional, and the late 70s prog-rock, spirit, here's a song we like, and we bet you will (or already do) too. It's Magic Power by neglected Canadian Power-Trio Triumph. Triumph was the first rock concert we ever saw, at the local hockey rink, and, with their infamous blinding light show, oh man, did they ever rock. While we're in a giving mood here's another Canadian rock classic This Beat Goes On/Switching To Glide by The Kings. The Kings are making something of a comeback here in Southern Ontario; to catch up with them check out their official website The Kings Are Here. It's got lots of great stuff including a video of Switching To Glide!
  • AMG Entry on Triumph
  • AMG Entry on The Kings

  • Guardians of the North - Proctecteurs du Nord is an excellent look at Canadian comic book heros from Johnny Canuck to Captaine Kebec. This very well laid-out site, a co-production of the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada, features a wealth of beautiful comic covers and pages, and both a popular and a scholarly account of the history of Canadian comic books. (For the scholarly essay, click on the "Read about this in more detail" thought-bubble in the lower left hand corner) There have been independent Canadian comic books since 1941 when a currency crisis resulted in a ban on U.S. comic books like Superman (co-created by Canadian Joe Shuster) from being imported into Canada. To satisfy the huge demand for comics a uniquely Canadian industry sprang up producing such heros as Nelvana of the Northern Lights (who beat Wonder Woman by three months for the honor of being the first female superhero), Northguard, and the The Northern Light (sense a pattern?).

    The NLC/NAC site only looks at comics created in Canada, and thus leaves out more famous Canadian comic book heros, such as Wolverine, who appeared in American comic books. Luckily Mitchell Brown's excellent site, We Stand on Guard for Thee: Canadian Comic Heroes, has lenghty, informative features on such issues and includes covers like this one from Incredible Hulk 181 where Wolverine first made his appearance. Mitchell also writes an essay about other famous comic book heros visiting Canada, such as in Batman 78 when Batman and Robin helped out the Mounties.

    Both sites, taken together, will provide you with an excellent introduction to the world of Canadian Comics, but if you want more information they both have excellent links pages.

    Here's two very nice pieces of writing we've noticed lately, both by Brooklyn writers, and both concerning the fraility of the human body. First, Michael Barrish of Oblivio has written an interesting, and moving, essay on what it was like to discover, at the age of sixteen, that he was colorblind. Second, OddTodd has written a hillarious, but deeply moving, essay about what it was like to discover, at the age of 24, that he was losing his hair.

    June 18, 2002

    Do you like our big missile? We made it using the coloring book at the US Army Cool Stuff website (well we had to add the flag ourself, they didn't have any flags). Two questions spring to mind when visiting this site. First, just who is this site for? Soldiers? Kids? Second, with a yearly budget of 148 bajillion dollars, is this the coolest stuff the Army has?
    (via Mike's Weblog)

    Observer article on Nick McDonell, the 18 year old wunderkind whose new novel Twelve has been getting rave reviews and earned him a comparison to Hunter S. Thompson (the comparison was made by Thompson himself).

    Flash Fun!! Super-cool sound and light machine It's kind of like an electronic steel drum with a built-in light organ. We found it by accident while looking around ArtKrush, an excellent online art magazine.

    In 1929 Smith College bought an unfinished painting by Gustave Courbet titled "Preparation of the Bride". In 1977 researchers investigating the painting discovered that there was no record of a painting of that name by Courbet; there was, however, a missing painting called "The Preparation of the Dead Girl." X-ray analysis of "Preparation of the Bride" showed that, sometime after Courbet's death, someone had substantially altered the painting, putting clothes on the nude dead girl, altering her face, and giving her a hand-mirror. "Preparation of the Bride" was, in fact, "The Preparation of the Dead Girl".

    If you live in Seattle you can see the painting, and the x-rays, at the Seattle Art Museum until September 15.
    (link via GirlHacker)

  • Seattle Times story
  • WebMuseum article on Gustave Courbet

  • June 17, 2002

    The story of how Nicholson Baker and others formed the American Newspaper Repository in 1999 to save a collection of newspapers that the British Library intended to destroy or disperse has been well documented, most notably in Baker's own book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper

  • Washington Post review of Double Fold
  • NYTimes review of Double Fold

    One of Baker's concerns, one of many, about microfilming is that it does not save the gorgeous illustrations (especially color illustrations) and photographs that were featured in many newspapers of the early 1900s. To see for yourself what he's talking about we suggest a visit to the beautifully designed American Newspaper Repository website which now features numerous examples of illustrations and even whole articles and pages. Especially compelling is an example that compares how a page from the New York Herald Tribune illustrating Roosevelt's Birthday in 1934 looks on paper and on microfilm.

  • Roosevelt's Birthday - Original and Microfilm

  • June 16, 2002

    The above photo of John F. Kennedy addressing a crowd in Hartford, CT. was developed from a negative retrieved from a dumpster outside the Hartford Public Library.The maddening, almost unbelievable, story of how librarian Louise Blalock dumped a vast collection of news clippings and photographic negatives into the dumpster was reported in the Hartford Courant a few days ago. Even if you agree with her argument that it was O.K. to throw out the clippings because it was all on microfilm, and we most certainly do not, what possible justification can there be for throwing out what are almost certainly one-of-a-kind negatives? See History In A Dumpster from the Hartford Courant.
    (link via Library Stuff)

    Here's an interesting article about the great popularity of P. G. Wodehouse in India. This link comes via the great new weblog Asiafirst.

    June 14, 2002

    Over the last little while the Library of Congress Today in History website has been featuring some fantastic panoramic photographs from their stunning Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991 collection. Whoever the LOC has got compiling Today in History is doing a spectacular job. We were particularly impressed with the recent page devoted to Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge.

    We've added an Atomz search box to Portage. It's at the bottom of the left hand column.

    The first annual ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show took place on Saturday, May 25th at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. The ArtBots were chosen as the Cool Robot Of The Week by the NASA Space Telerobotics Program.
    (link via Wiley Wiggins' guestblog at Boing Boing)

    Ingeborg Galaasen and Ronnie Nebelung, a couple of lovely young Norwegians, have a bit of a thing for vacuum cleaners; so much so that they have their own wing, The Galaasen/Nebelung Wing, in the excellent CyberSpace Vintage Vacuum Cleaner Museum. Ingeborg and Ronnie, being young, hip, and Norwegian, specialize in vacuums that "look cool...like a combination between a space-ship, a submarine, and a nuclear-bomb! We especially like those with lots of chrome." If after viewing all the cool vacs you find yourself beginning to share Ingeborg and Ronnie's passion then you'll want to see this excellent links page.

    The always excellent Economist.com has again updated its growing library of Backgrounders. This handy resource provides a quick hit of background information on current events in politics, economics (duh), and science & technology, all of which are, let's be honest, getting increasingly harder and harder to follow. So the next time the conversation turns, as it inevitably does, to Thabo Mbeki, Stem-cell research, or Ecuador's economy, you'll be able to do more than nod wisely and say "hmmm, yes, it's a complex issue indeed...have you seen Spiderman yet?"

    June 12, 2002

    The Science Service Historical Image Collection at the Smithsonian website is an amazing collection of photographs of 20th century science focusing on electricity.

    Some very disturbing news in the paper this morning. The average Canadian spends 4 minutes a day reading to their children. NATIONAL POST

    Grand Illusions is a fabulous website full of all kinds of information about optical illusions. There are many fascinating articles on the site so be sure to have a good look around and be aware that not all the links are equal, that is some lead only to a paragraph or two, some lead to a scholarly essay.

    We particularly liked this essay on the artist Johannes Vermeer, called Vermeer's Camera, which explores the ideas of Professor Philip Steadman who argues that Vermeer's work with the camera obscura places him in the same company as other 17th century masters of the lens such as the microscopist van Leeuwenhoek, who turned his lens on the miniature world contained in a drop of water, and Galileo, who turned his telescope to the sky. It's fascinating stuff.

    Also very cool was this page on Lifetiles by Rufus Butler Seder. The Lifetiles are vast optical glass-tiled murals that appear to come to life, change and move, when the viewer walks or rides by them. Now we don't dispute they're really, really neat, but c'mon, we were getting these things in our CrackerJacks when we were five years old.

    The Journal of Mundane Behavior is a scholarly journal "devoted to the study of the "unmarked" -- those aspects of our everyday lives that typically go unnoticed by us, both as academics and as everyday individuals. The newest issue of the JMB, Mundane Sex, is now avaliable online in both html and pdf form. We at Portage are happy to report that we have never not noticed that we were having sex but we realize that when you're publishing a journal devoted to the mundane, you've got to have your sex issue, just to get those circulation numbers up. Watch for future issues devoted to Mundane SuperCars!, Mundane Celebrity Gossip, and, of course, the annual Mundane Swimsuits issue.

    A few years ago we were in Seattle visiting some friends. One day we went to the Woodland Park Zoo and, on the way in, one of our friends said to us, way too excitedly, "I hope we get to see some monkeys doin' it!" Well, we didn't. Today, however, Portage is proud to offer up, especially for regular reader D.D (B.B) of Seattle (and for anyone else who shares his fetish), this page of hot, monkey porn.

    June 10, 2002

    Canadian animation wunderkinds GrooveChamber are creating some very fine Flash animation, much of which you can view on their website. Getting a great deal of attention from around the world is their very groovy indeed Field Guide to Snapping. (Can that bear get down, or what?) The Field Guide To Snapping is the music video for superfunkmasters Slang.

    William Calvin, a neurobiologist who runs the excellent Science Surf site, has started an equally excellent new weblog. Excellent.

    June 07, 2002

    Andrew Davidhazy, a Professor of Imaging and Photographic Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology, takes amazing photographs using techniques which he loosely groups into the 'field' of photoinstrumentation: these techniques include high speed photography, schlieren and shadowgraph photography, ballistic photography, and stroboscopy. You know the kind of stuff, a bullet tearing through a banana, a stroboscopic photo of a basketball player, or a thermograph of a woman's body. The results, while often scientifically useful, are always beautiful; check out his exhibits.

    New in our collection of 'on this day' links is This Day in Rock & Roll History which we've included in Portage's left hand column. This site combines two of our favorite passions, 'on this day trivia' and 'Rock n' Roll'. Woohoo. Thanks to Friend of Portage Bob Patterson of the great indie music zine Delusions of Adequacy for the link.

    From T.D.I. R. & R. H. we learned that it was 32 years ago today that The Who performed "Tommy" at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. It was a year to the day since the album's release and the last time they would perform "Tommy" in its entirety until 1989. Here, in celebration, is our favorite song from the great rock opera, and one of many Portage theme songs, I'm Free by The Who.

  • AMG article on the song I'm Free
  • AMG article on the album Tommy

  • June 06, 2002

    Detroit legend Arnold Jacobsen who in his life amassed not one but two large and important record collections has died at the age of 89. Jacobsen's first collection of 35 000 recordings of popular American music was donated to the Chicago Public Library. Jacobsen then went on to create a second, even larger, collection. The depth and breadth of Jacobsen's collections were such that he was regularly consulted by the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and music archives from around the world. An exciting development is that Jacobson's son has plans to put the collection on the Web as a tribute to his father. (link via NewBreed Librarian)

    June 05, 2002

    Mark Cramer has created a fascinating Gallery of Fluid Mechanics. Dr. Cramer, a professor of physics at Virginia Tech, celebrates the undeniable beauty of all kinds of fluid dynamics. There are several very good fluid dynamics galleries out there but what we liked best about Dr. Cramer's were his explanations of what was actually happening in all the pretty pictures.

    If you find you're really excited by Fluid Mechanics and would like to have some more fun with fluids then we can suggest no better starting point than eFluids, your "Free One-stop Resource For Fluid Dynamics And Flow Engineering".

    The Nine Planets is a wonderful multi-media tour of the universe. It's really cool.

    Steven Green, of the inimitable plep is on a trip to the United States. He's blogging his adventures on a special weblog, Plep's US Trip. We can't think of anyone we'd rather take a virtual trip with.

    June 04, 2002

    Regular readers of Portage know that we have a bit of a thing for obituaries. It's not that we're morbid, we're not, really, it's more that we love to learn the often amazing details of people's lives that we heretofore were not aware of. The achievements (often multiple achievements) that people, both famous and obscure, can make in a single lifetime is a constant source of wonder for those of us who have achieved little. That is why, as lifelong fans of the obituarist's art, we were sad to learn of the death of Albin Krebs at the age of 73. Krebs was one of the great obituary writers for The New York Times, a paper that still values the form, and which is exemplary in its publication of lengthy obits for those who, though not famous, led fascinating lives. Krebs, however, did not specialize in the obscure; rather he was an obituarist of the famous, of the artist, the performer, and the politician. Although Mr. Krebs retired from the Times in 1989, due to the practice of writing obituaries months, if not years, in advance his final obituary byline appeared last year, for the great southern writer Eudora Welty. We at Portage will miss his byline.

  • Albin Krebs, 73, Times Obituary Writer, Dies
  • Eudora Welty, a Lyrical Master of the Short Story, Dies at 92 by Albin Krebs
  • Truman Capote Is Dead at 59; Novelist of Style and Clarity by Albin Krebs

  • Well that would beat an email anyday. The letter pictured above, written by the great Italian designer Gio Ponti, is one of a collection of many such beautiful letters in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art website called Getting The Picture: The Art of the Illustrated Letter
    (link via coudal partners)

    June 03, 2002

    This was intended to be a post about the great Swiss 'outsider artist' Adolf Wolfi. We were going to explain all about him and his extraordinary life and body of work and then point to some Wolfi web sites. That was the plan; then a Google search revealed that leuschke.org posted an almost identical post a few months ago. So there's little point in our posting our johnny-come-lately of a post, we'll just point you to the leuschke.org post on Adolf Wolfi

    The one piece of information we have to add, and the source from which we learned about Wolfi, is that Elka Spoerri, who is credited with decoding Wolfi's work, bringing him international renown, and establishing his place as arguably one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, has died at the age of 77 in Bern, Switzerland.

    Ms. Spoerri, or "Mrs. Wolfi" as she sometimes jokingly referred to herself, spent more than "20 years deciphering, transcribing, translating and indexing the often densely interwoven writing, iconography and musical scores of Wölfli's ... thousands of drawings and 45 large illustrated books containing a total of nearly 25,000 pages."
    Elka Spoerri's NYTimes Obituary is fascinating reading.

    Several readers wrote in over the weekend to comment on the top ten lists of comic novels in the Guardian book pages we noted last week. As is the way with 'best of' lists, most people had suggestions for books that were not on the lists but damned well should have been. Suggestions included Joseph Heller's classic Catch-22 (2 readers thought it was a definite top ten funny book), Portnoy's Complaint by Phillip Roth,"anything by Carl Hiaasen", and John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Those are all great suggestions, those are some funny, funny books, please keep sending suggestions and maybe we'll publish a 'Portage Pantheon of Hilarity and Raucous Good Times'.

    The only problem with those books, funny as they are, is that we've read them. We're looking for new books to read. That's why we were so happy to discover, again in the Guardian, the longlist for this year's Wodehouse Prize. The Wodehouse Prize, named after Portage's favorite funnyman P. G. Wodehouse, honours the best funny fiction of the past year and this year's longlist has 25 entries, only three of which we've read. Hooray.


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