Free Pi!

No, Pi cannot be copyrighted, despite what one composer claims.  I had wondered why Michael John Blake’s beautiful YouTube video of “What Pi Sounds Like” had been taken down.  I’d linked to it in my “Happy π Day from Crockett Johnson” post, and then it… disappeared.  Blake explains why below: Vi Hart has a truly…

Meritocracy in Academia: A Useful Myth?

I’ve previously blogged about enhancing production as a way to develop a more robust CV, and have suggested that publishing well and widely may (for instance) increase one’s odds on the job market.  Both imply that academia is a meritocracy.  It isn’t.  But meritocracy can be a useful myth.  Please note: that’s can be, not…

Crockett Johnson’s first comic strip

He’s famous for Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) and the comic strip Barnaby (1942-1952), but Crockett Johnson wrote an earlier strip — one that was popular enough to feature in a series of Ford advertisements in the late 1940s.  Popularly known as The Little Man with the Eyes, Johnson’s strip ran in Collier’s from March…

Chris Van Allsburg’s True Story

His first non-fiction work, Queen of the Falls (2011) is also one of Chris Van Allsburg’s best.  Indeed, in some ways it marks a return to form.  After writing and illustrating a picture book each year for about 15 years, Van Allsburg stopped producing picture books for a while.  Following Bad Day at Riverbend (1995),…

Illustrious Dunderheads

When you wonder whether there’s a higher percentage of dunderheads in our political discourse (and, these days, who doesn’t?), a little perspective may be of help. In September 1942, Alfred A. Knopf published The Illustrious Dunderheads, edited by Rex Stout and illustrated by William Gropper. As Frank Sullivan writes in his introduction, “the book is…

Friday. Camp?

In naïve, or pure, Camp, the essential element is seriousness, a seriousness that fails. Of course, not all seriousness that fails can be redeemed as Camp. Only that which has the proper mixture of the exaggerated, the fantastic, the passionate, and the naïve. — Susan Sontag, “Notes on Camp” (1964) — Rebecca Black, “Friday” (2011)…

Happy π Day from Crockett Johnson

This isn’t the only kind of “pie” that Crockett Johnson was interested in.  In addition to “all nine kinds of pie that Harold likes best,” Johnson also drew inspiration from π (3.14159265…) — the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. In early 1968, he began the project of “squaring the circle,” constructing a square…

It Looks Like Snow

As winter continues its assault, let’s turn to a classic book about winter: It Looks Like Snow (Greenwillow, 1957), Remy Charlip‘s picture-book tribute to John Cage.  Like Cage’s 4’33” (1952), Charlip’s piece makes the audience’s experience the subject of its experiment.  The primary difference of course is the specific sense through which we apprehend the art…

Animated Books

Just discovered this short film by Sean Ohlenkamp and Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp: “Organizing the Bookcase.”  Charming, brief, with a delightful sense of humor, and… lots of books!  (Make sure you stay for the credits!) Hat tip to Bookshelf Porn, which I found via Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8. Update, 5 Sept. 2011: YouTube video had moved…