Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Don't be a busybody, obviously.

This doesn't fall into my usual miscellany of posts, but it deals with art and history, which I love, so here it is anyway. The following just made me sad and a little sick to my stomach.
Recently, the Centro de Estudios Borjanos in Borja, Spain received a donation from the granddaughter of 19th-century painter Elías García Martínez, of one of her grandfather's paintings. There is only one other painting known by Martinez to exist. So, the version on the left is what the painting looked like a few years ago. The middle is how the painting looked in July upon being cataloged (looks like it had suffered possible humidity or water related damage). And the ghastly version on the right, I'm afraid that's real and what the painting looks like today. After the painting was donated, an elderly neighbor of the church took it upon herself to try to restore the painting, without asking permission by anyone in authority, without anyone in authority knowing she was doing it, without knowing anything about restoration work, and clearly without knowing a whole lot about painting. I just don't have words. How can you take a beautiful painting of Jesus and turn it into a melancholy hedgehog with a neck goiter?

(Here's the original article, in Spanish http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2012/08/21/actualidad/1345563468_581914.html and another in English http://gawker.com/5936665/heres-what-happened-when-an-elderly-man-took-it-upon-himself-to-restore-a-painting-in-a-nearby-church?comment=52055125)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Disney's bad idea

I just learned that the original script for Mulan (called "China Doll"....no really), featured a very different film. It appears that it was first about Mulan being rescued by a BRITISH PRINCE from her sad oppressed life in China and being whisked away to happiness in the west. Ugh. Seriously Disney, what on earth would make you think this was okay? Let's not forget that in the Northern Wei dynasty (386-587 AD), there weren't exactly a plethora of British princes swanning about China (or you know, ever being a plethora of British princes in China). Or the racist implications of a Chinese woman, only Disney's second heroine of color, needing a white man to rescue her. Or that happiness has to lead to living in Europe. Let's not forgot that Mulan didn't appear to have a sad life. She took her aged father's place, she fought for 12 years and received high merit, refused further reward and retired home. What kind of rescuing exactly would she have needed? And while we're on the subject, although I do like Shen, Mulan didn't marry. At least not in the legend. In fact, she was so convincing, that not only did she maintain her disguise for 12 years as previously mentioned, but her commanding officer also offered Mulan his daughter's hand in marriage. She declined the honor. Luckily, the level head of children's author Robert San Souci was around to say, terrible idea Disney, how about reworking that.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mood: Furious and disgusted

So, watching a news video about a sharp rise in birth defects in Fallujah since the 2004 U.S. assault on the city. The U.S. has since admitted to using white phosphorus in the battle....which is a chemical weapon, which Saddam used against the Kurds, and which we were accusing Saddam of illegally housing to justify our invasion of the country. There's also some rumor that depleted uranium was also used in the battle. I'm so disgusted and angry by this I can't even form a coherent post about it. How dare the U.S. try to justify this. How dare the U.S. play the hypocrite once again, and engage in behavior that we use to justify our treatment/condemnation/invasion/sanctions/etc of other countries that do the same. How dare we.

Additionally, I just finished No End in Sight by Charles Ferguson. Required reading ya'll. A massive in-depth and definitive look at how the war in Iraq and how rebuilding the country went so massively wrong. [Spoilers, there was incompetence; people in authority that didn't know the country/language/people/history at all; no plan for rebuilding the country was ever drawn up before going in (or even for some time after taking over); corruption, lies and covers-up; indifference to civilian deaths; indifference to keeping up infrastructures like police, government, water, sewage, electricity, and other needs to keep a city/country from descending into chaos...]