Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Monday, November 27, 2006


These scale models provide some nice perspective.




Sirius (Canis Major) 8.6 light years away; Pollux (Gemini) 33.7 light years away; Arcturus (Boötes)36.7 light years away

Rigel (Orion) 800 light years away; Aldebaran (Taurus) 65 light years away; Betelgeuse (Orion) 430 light years away; Antares (Scorpius) 600 light years away
Original source of these images unknown; thanks to Louie Porras.

Friday, November 17, 2006


The Father of Marine Nature Art, Stanley Meltzoff, died on November 9th at his home in Red Bank, New Jersey. He was 89 years old. Meltzoff's subdued pallette and unnerving compositions combined to lend an unmistakable and authentic look to his paintings. His skill at transferring the movements of fishes, both schooling and alone, to the canvas have never been equalled, to my mind. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame, and was twice awarded the Society of Animal Artists' Award of Excellence. The following biographical data were lifted from his New York Times obituary:

Born in Harlem on March 27, 1917, Mr. Meltzoff was a son of Nathan and Sadie Marcus Meltzoff. His father was a cantor at a Manhattan synagogue. Mr. Meltzoff graduated from City College in 1937 and earned a master’s degree in fine art from New York University in 1940. During World War II, he was an artist for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper, in Europe. He taught painting and art history at City College from 1939 to 1941, and taught there again after the war until 1950, when he began a five-year stint at Pratt Institute.

But even as a child in the 1920s, Mr. Meltzoff had been an avid skin diver, mainly off the New Jersey coast. By the 1940s, he was keen on spear fishing and scuba diving and, starting in 1949, he added underwater photography. He first combined his passions for the sea, photography and art in the 1960s, when he painted several series on particular fish species for Sports Illustrated, National Geographic and Field & Stream.

Mr. Meltzoff’s first wife, Alice Forder Meltzoff, died in 1979. Besides his second wife, whom he married in 1999, he is survived by two daughters, Sarah Keene Meltzoff of Miami and Annie Laurie Armistead of Davis, Calif.; three stepchildren, Jessie Dulberger of Boulder, Colo., Stephanie Ritz of Oshkosh, Wis., and Matt Ritz of Tacoma, Wash.; and a brother, Julian, of San Diego.

Mr. Meltzoff’s art was not limited to marine life. He did illustrations, including landscapes and historical subjects, for Life, The Saturday Evening Post and Colliers. In 1976, he was commissioned by AT&T to paint a whimsical telephone book cover celebrating the nation’s bicentennial and the company’s centennial. The cover, on 187 million phone books distributed nationwide, included an American Indian bewildered by smoke signals rising from a telephone receiver.

But Mr. Meltzoff always returned to the sea, “a place without horizons,” he once wrote, where he could dive “through the surface into the looking-glass world where I flew down into the deeper blue, until I fell back up into the air, exhausted with delight.”
SNAPPER, SPOTS, STRIPERS AT ELBERON oil on canvas by Stanley Meltzoff

Monday, November 06, 2006


Mid-term elections always seem a bit dull, but even so, if you're a U.S. citizen, you should be making plans to vote this week. Along with the controversial new electronic devices many of us will deal with for the first time, there is another change to take note of: in order to alleviate pressure on polling stations, the vote will be split by party this year. Citizens voting for Democratic or Green candidates will be voting on Tuesday, November 7th. Those voting for Republican or Libertarian candidates should report to their polling location on Wednesday, November 8th.
The only election of national significance happening here is Orrin Hatch's bid for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate. Despite the overall look of this post, and despite his increasing partisanship over the past three decades, I don't harbor much ill will toward our senior senator—really. I was friends with his son Brent in 6th grade. He's certainly much smarter than his colleague Bill Bennett, and he tends to rest just a bit to the right of Attila the Hun—not bad for a statewide elected Utah official. I even began with plans to cast an innocuous vote for Julian Hatch, the Green candidate, just to sprinkle a bit of prestige on that party, but as we approach election day, depriving the maniacs currently haunting the White House of friends and allies is becoming priority number one. I expect I'll end up voting for the Democrat, Pete Ashdown, tomorrow. No offense, Orrin—or Brent.
The seat of my Congressman, right-wing Democrat Jim Matheson, is assured; his only challenger is a minor party crackpot that needs no further description. Only voters in Utah's Congressional District #3 have an opportunity to effect much change in the House of Representatives. In ten years, the incumbent Chris Cannon's main contribution has been to embarrass our state. Only State Senator Chris Buttars (whose re-election or re-pudiation won't come for two more years) has consistently shown himself to be a bigger buffoon. Third District voters should seriously consider voting for Christian Burridge, as the only effective vote against Cannon.
Not much else happening here worth mentioning, except the re-election of State Supreme court Justice Ronald Nehring. Nehring's refusal to abide by legislation forcing courthouses to either install gun lockers or allow permitted gun owners to pack heat in the courtroom has made him the target of a smear campaign by Gun Owners of Utah, who would have Utah hunters believe that retaining Judge Nehring will ensure the seizure of all their firearms, reducing them to taking up needlepoint during those long fall months. Nehring is a competent and fair judge. Let's do what we can to help him hang on to his job.
Orrin Hatch billboards digitally vandalized by Megan Crowley