Thursday, April 24, 2014


--Maurice Utrillo
Maurice Utrillo was a French painter (1883-1955) who was born in Montmartre and is most famous for the paintings he actually created featuring scenes from Montmartre. Utrillo was an illegitimate child whose mother was the artist Suzanne Valadon. His real father is unknown, but a Spanish artist, Miguel Utrillo y Molins, claimed parentage of him in 1891.

Utrillo was a teenage ne'er-do-well and was an alcoholic by the time he was 19 years old. Diagnosed mentally ill at 21, his mother decided he needed some sort of therapeutic diversion and taught him how to paint. He never had any formal training as he enjoyed sketching and painting around Montmartre. By the 1920s, Utrillo was famous in France and abroad.

--the artist's mother, Suzanne Veladon

Sadly, Utrillo was in and out of mental asylums for years. When he was in his 50s, however, he became very religious. He also got married to Lucie Valore. He was so sick that from then on he painted indoors creating mostly postcards of scenes he remembered or he painted scenes from his window. Even though he was "plagued by alcoholism" most of his life, he lived to be in his 70s.

--Paris, Montmartre, Rue du Mont-Cenis, l'ancienne Maison de Berlioz, Maurice Utrillo,1923,
gouache, 21.1 x 35.6 cm (8.3 x 14 in), Galerie Rienzo, New York, USA
I happened to have picked up an Utrillo copy from a friend who was going to sell it in a garage sale. I really like this painting and it fits my bedroom decor. Here it is:

I looked on eBay and a similar print was going for a whopping U.S.$40. 

Utrillo became of member of the Légion d'honneur in 1928. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Do you know what “tmesis” is? I know what it is as I use quite frequently, but I surely did not know the proper name for it. Tmesis “refers to the slicing of a word or sometimes a phrase to insert something between the parts.” Tmesis is a rather uncommon literary device. Here is an example that you might be familiar with: “un-effing-believable.” According to Theodore M. Bernstein in The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage (New York, Atheneum, 1966), tmesis is “usually either a humorous device or perhaps a gesture by the unlettered of their disrespect for the long word.” I think in modern times, tmesis is used more for emphasis, but what do I know as I might be considered “unlettered."

An example from Bernstein from literature is from Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis: “He got the formula off a barman in Marrakesh or some-bloody-where.” An example from Wikipedia is “abso-bloody-lutely.” The site also expounds on how tmesis is sometimes called tumbarumba, this being due to the name of a town in New South Wales, or because of the poem “The Integrated Adjective,” also known as “Tumba Bloody Rumba” by John O’Grady, written in 1959. Here is the poem:
The Integrated Adjective
John O'Grady

I was down the Riverina, knockin' 'round the towns a bit,
And occasionally resting with a schooner in me mitt,
And on one of these occasions, when the bar was pretty full
And the local blokes were arguin' assorted kind of bull,
I heard a conversation, most peculiar in its way.
It's only in Australia you would hear a joker say:
"Howya bloody been, ya drongo, haven't seen ya fer a week,
And yer mate was lookin' for ya when ya come in from the creek.
'E was lookin' up at Ryan's, and around at bloody Joe's,
And even at the Royal, where 'e bloody NEVER goes".
And the other bloke says "Seen 'im? Owed 'im half a bloody quid.
Forgot to give it back to him, but now I bloody did -
Could've used the thing me bloody self. Been off the bloody booze,
Up at Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin' kanga-bloody-roos."
Now the bar was pretty quiet, and everybody heard
The peculiar integration of this adjectival word,
But no-one there was laughing, and me - I wasn't game,
So I just sits back and lets them think I spoke the bloody same.
Then someone else was interested to know just what he got,
How many kanga-bloody-roos he went and bloody shot,
And the shooting bloke says "Things are crook -
the drought's too bloody tough.
I got forty-two by seven, and that's good e-bloody-nough."
And, as this polite rejoinder seemed to satisfy the mob,
Everyone stopped listening and got on with the job,
Which was drinkin' beer, and arguin', and talkin' of the heat,
Of boggin' in the bitumen in the middle of the street,
But as for me, I'm here to say the interesting piece of news
Was Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin' kanga-bloody-roos.
Click HERE to see a video of Australian actor Jack Thompson reading the poem.
Ok, the next time you hear a word inserted into another word, you will know the proper term for the usage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


--Starbucks at Paternoster Square near St. Paul's Cathedral in London

Why do you like Starbucks?

At Starbucks, I can drink coffee, work on my computer or other device via free wireless, or read a book or newspaper. Starbucks is a great meeting spot for blind dates, meeting old friends, or just chilling with others. Starbucks is a convenient place for me to buy The New York Times.  Also, I can purchase a healthy snack or not so healthy snack.  Lastly, the baristas are usually friendly, hard-working people and that make the visit all the better. A bonus is that Starbucks is usually a good people-watching spot.

What is your favorite beverage to purchase?

The caffé misto is my personal favorite—coffee with lots of frothy milk. I usually order nonfat milk and add in some of my own stevia that I keep with me. I also will purchase an occasional San Pellegrino or other bottled water. When I am not in a coffee mood, which is rare, I will order a brewed tea, either a Refresh (peppermint) or Chai. In the summer I might order a green-tea iced tea.

What are your favorite snacks at Starbucks?

A banana is my favorite and best snack. However, a 120-calorie petite vanilla scone comes in a close second. I also like the nut bars that seem more healthy than not. Most of the time I bring my own Lärabar.

How many locations have you been to in the past month?

According to my account, I have been to five Starbucks in the last month: three in Plano and two in Dallas. I do have my favorites depending on what part of town I am in. There are probably four good Starbucks within 3 or 4 miles of my house. One of them used to be my favorite, but it is so busy and loud that I rarely go there anymore. One is located within a Barnes and Noble. The other two I probably like the same and they are less crowded. I have spilled full cups of coffee in three of the four.

What else do you have to say about Starbucks?

Well, I like the fact that most of them open early and close late. Sometimes, I like to leave my house early and go to one near work that opens at 5:30 am. I don’t get there at 5:30, but I appreciate that it is always open early. Also, I like many regulars (workers and patrons) I see at the different locations: the older gentleman and his dog, Toby, the Sunday morning paper reader, the reverend who counsels couples soon to be married, the girl whose goal is to move to NYC, the math professor who tutors students. Some drawbacks: the stores are kept very cold, they are generally very noisy and loud depending on the workers and/or patrons, also the machines are loud and beepers go off and are never turned off in a timely manner. I also notice how many of the stores need a good dusting underneath shelves and the tables need cleaning more often with something other than a wet rag. I do like the music they usually are playing.

What has been your best Starbucks experience?

My best experience was having a morning cappuccino in Paris at a Starbucks on rue Montmartre in the 9th arrondissement with a friend before striking out for the day. My second best: chilling with another friend in London near St. Paul’s on a rainy day. Location is everything.

--Starbucks on rue Montmartre, Paris

Monday, April 21, 2014


ReverbNation is one of the earliest sites I signed onto a few years ago to follow bands, especially local bands. The site/company was begun in 2006 and its goal is to promote independent bands via the internet, forming fan relationships, distributing music, tracking popularity, and promoting musicians. Two men started ReverbNation: Mike Doernberg and Lou Plaia. Plaia was with Lava Records previously, which is an imprint of Atlantic Records. Doernberg owned a software company prior to his time with ReverbNation.
ReverbNation has upgraded its websites several times through the years. I don’t find myself going directly to ReverbNation as much as I did a few years ago, probably due to Facebook and its “Pages” that promote groups. Also, after a few revamps of the “dashboard,” I didn’t find ReverbNation as user-friendly as I first found it to be.  I will say that that ReverbNation is one of the better sites to listen to local bands and get a sampling of their music. It’s also a great site to explore all genres of music. Sometimes I just go and start poking around and have found some good artists or listened to some I was curious about.
The “Rabbit Hole” is one of the features I enjoy on ReverbNation. If you click on “Rabbit Hole” you will be directed to some of the bands that the bands you follow enjoy. You can “Go Deeper” into the “Rabbit Hole” if you so choose and you might find other bands and music that you enjoy. Also, you can “Become A Fan” of as many bands, independent and mainstream, that you want to on this site. I am starting from scratch again on my ReverbNation account and choosing totally new groups and music except for the main three I began my account by following.
In my zip code currently, local Dallas guitarist Rhett Butler is ranked number 2 on the Jazz charts. Nationwide, Randy Corinthian is ranked number 1. ReverbNation is fun to browse—check it out.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Luis Quintanilla was a Spanish artist (1893-1978) and a contemporary of Juan Gris. He got caught up in the politics of the time and served eight months in prison starting in October of 1934. Many of his artist, writer, and other intellectual friends had supported him during this time, some of whom he had met in Paris in the 1920s. Quintanilla was exiled from Spain after the Spanish Civil War for many years, living first in New York and then Paris. He finally returned to Madrid a year after Franco died and lived there for 2 years before he died.

 --young Quintanilla

--middle-aged Quintanilla

--the elderly Quintanilla

Here are some etchings that Quintanilla's son presents on his website created in honor of his father the artist. These etchings were some of the ones that Hemingway and Dos Passos favored and promoted by writing a catalogue for them to be shown in New York.

Let me just say that Paul Quintanilla's website in homage to his father is extensive. I can spend lots of time looking around and reading about his life learning about him and the Spanish Civil War. Click on the link below to explore:

From researching for this post, I found that Paul Quintanilla has recently published a book (February 2014) on his father's life and art. The book can be purchased through all of the usual sites. Below is the cover for Waiting at the Shore, Art, Revolution, War, and Exile in the Life of the Spanish Artist Luis Quintanilla.

My previous A to Z Challenge entries: