Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Loved Looper

We went and saw Looper yesterday.  I loved it.  Now, I hate to say that, given expectations play a large role in a movie - but it must be said.
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What surprised me was the pace of the story - maybe the whole story idea itself.
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Looper starts as a simple bang-bang / high octane / almost-action movie set in a "Blade Runner-esque" dystopian future.  And then it doubles back on itself, shoots off sideways into an epilogue-like what-happens-then story.  And then moves into a whole different Hitchcockian vibe for the last hour-ish.
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Now with that many "and thens", it isn't a quick movie.  It is longish, but long for story sake not long for more bang up action scenes (I'm looking at you Avengers) or long for more arts- fartsy scenes (I'm looking at you Master).
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There were only two things that tickled my mind and drew me out of the movie occasionally.  One was "where is that guy from" - and so you don't get lost in it yourself, he is the dad from Raising Hope.
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The second is the odd appearance of Joseph Gordon Levitt.  I think jgl is a good looking young man.  But in Looper, he has to look like a young Bruce Willis - so they added a lot of jaw.  It doesn't hurt his acting - his voice, eyes and carriage are so much a part of his set of tools - but it is distracting for a while.  I give you the changes below so you don't get hung up on them.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kevin Francis Gray

I recently took in London-based artist Kevin Francis Gray's solo exhibition at Haunch of Venison Gallery (550 W. 21 St., 10011).
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He is an exceptional sculptor.   The show had 3 items that were fascinating.
Dancer in marble
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The first was a marble sculpture.  Mr. Gray had created it in clay, and then it was created in marble in Italy.  After it was created, it was hand sanded to get an amazing sheen.  It was beautiful.
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The second picture includes 2 different pieces.  The first in the foreground is a sculpture of a dancer, done in a more rugged technique than the marble.  In the distance are a set of heads created in porcelain.  These were people from the street that sat for as long as they could before they had to head out for a fix or a drink or for work.  They were each done in two to twelve hours.
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Nourishment before the DUMBO Arts Festival

Great food trucks.  Ed had dim sum and I had a Israeli falafel.

Football More Important that Policing and Teaching?

We in the USA have had a fascinating couple of weeks.  For the last 2 years, elected officials across the board in cities, states and at the federal level have been saying how unions are the scourge of life.  They demand living wages for their members and for employers to meet previously agreed to retirement plans.
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Because we are in a recession - and neither unions nor management are interested in temporary give-backs (say a two or three year time-out until the economy turns around) - they publicly complain.  And the more money backed voices have convinced many people that unions are cushy and don't really do anything.
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THE blown call that cost the game.
Enter the (American) Football Umpires.
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The refs are unionized, with a pension.  The proposed new contracts increased expenses ($3 Million/yr) versus the owners income (upwards of $9.3 Billion/yr) is minuscule.  But the refs have a previously agreed to pension plan.
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And management decided that in the current environment (where everyone hates unions) they could break a union which still has a pension and replace them with cheaper officials and no pension.
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So management locked out the refs and refused to negotiate.  Thy owners then told the public how greedy the unions were, while making billions.
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But something funny happened on the way to the forum; the non-union refs officiated a few games, and it was a joke.  The changed the outcome of the games, made obvious mistakes, and took much longer to deliver a less effective product.  America howled, particularly after 1 game where the Green Bay Packers were robbed of a win.**
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And so, after American's voices were heard, management quickly agreed to the unions demands - and football was returned and the kingdom breathed a sigh of relief.
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Which makes me wonder, does no one see the correlation that experienced and valued skilled service providers are a net benefit to everyone? ---  If we can obviously see the benefit of experience Referees - why do we not think the same about teachers who impart knowledge to children?  or police who protect the streets?  We don't look at the ref who makes one bad call one week and say "Well obviously they shouldn't have a union - he's an ass."  But we sometimes do cherry-pick bad teachers and say "Well they have a union so they don't have to work hard."
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In part, I blame the unions who lose credibility by not admitting that any teacher or cop or iron worker is ever wrong - like a teacher's union that seems out of touch and concerned about their jobs more than kids.  If they admitted that some teachers are lousy - and worked with management to fix them, it would be better for everyone.
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But management and the public should also admit that our children are as important as football.  And having experienced, trained teachers give our kids a chance to succeed, and usually unions work for just that cause.
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**In poetic justice (or tone deaf asshole-ishness) Scott Walker, the governor who passed a law prohibiting collective bargaining, runs the state (Wisconsin) where Green Bay is located.  He loudly demanded that the owners negotiate with the Officials Union after a blown call lead to the Packers loss. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nooooooo!!!! (Zoolander turns 11)

Zoolander.  Dudes, funniest movie of 11 years ago.  And The Daily Beast has a tribute (link).
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But then again, we all know the best Zoolander moment, don't we?  And, even funnier now that you know the dumb blond is Alexander Sarsgard is in it (he is now of Ture Blood nakid fame).
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Iran & Isreal

Yesterday at the United Nations, Israel gave a nice little graphic about when they are going to bomb the shit out o f Iran, pull the United States into another Mid-west war and kill thousands of innocent people in attempt to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb - which 5 other countries in the region have.
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It was a simple moment with a red marker.
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But the world is more complex.
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Look at the map of Iran below, and you can see why they would want a nuclear weapon as a safeguard against attack.
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The blue circles are areas where the United States has active troops in the region.  Bright blue, more than 1,000 in a country, light blue - between 100 and 1,000 troops.  The arrows are where the US has full use of military bases.
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Now, you may rightly say "The USA isn't agressive, those troops and bases are for good."  And I would totally agree with you.  However, Iran might have a different view.  We lumped Iraq, North Korea and Iran into the Axis of Evil. North Korea got the bomb and is still around.  Iraq didn't get the bomb and we invaded them for no reason except for George W Bush to show the world he had big-ass conjones.
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The Red Boxes are nearby countries that currently have nuclear weapons.
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Iran has NO neighboring countries that are free of US Troops or access to military bases.  There are over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and 30,000 in Iraq.
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As for nuclear weapons, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, China and India all already have nuclear weapons.
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I am NOT saying Israel doesn't have a valid fear of Iran.  It has been made even more valid by the Israeli assassinations of Iranian scientists and the cyber war carried out.  Israel has been hugely busy building up the threat of Iran.  Iran has armed terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon to attack Israel.  It is NOT a good scene.  But is a full scale attack on harden sites in Iran the right answer?  AND is Israel's timeline believable?
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Israel's latest timeline for Iran's Bomb is March 2013 (link)
But Israel doesn't have a great track record on these projections....
- Previously we were told it would absolutely be by 1998 (said in 1993 - wikileaks cable March 2005)
- Then we were told it would absolutely be by 2009 (said in 2007 - wikileaks cable) - 2005/03/05TELAVIV1593.html
- In 2009 were told Iran would have ONE Nuclear Bomb by 2010, 6 by 2011 and be building 1 a week by 2012 (wikileaks cable 2009) - 2009/11/09TELAVIV2482.html
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Note: Wikileaks cables are available freely on the web - but are illegal for US Citizens to view so I have not provided links
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I think it is more than fair to question Israel's timeline on this.  Then there is the question of how many deaths do you accept to stop a potential nuclear Iran?  Iran learned from Iraq and Syria and have spread their facilities around the country, deep underground and hardened (which is why Israel needs us to attack because we are the only country with MASSIVE weapons that might take the sites out short of nuc'ing them).  And many are in populated areas.
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How many innocent thousands of people are you willing to kill on Bibi's word?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Art Crawl Last Night: The Vanishing Point


I took an Art Tour last night and saw some amazing work.  One of the most interesting was at the Marianne Boesky Gallery, called "The Vanishing Point" by Diana Al-Hadid.
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Diana works with negative spaces in sculpture, which creates art that pulls you into the piece.
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In the Suspended After Image, she basis the start on a fresco from The Prado - a robe from an unknown author.  She then casts the robe, minus the wearer, as the column that anchors the piece.
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Detail of the robe in Suspended After Image

Suspended After Image

In At The Vanishing Point, she removes the people from a fresco by Jacopo - The Visitation.  This focuses the work on the plane and structure of the mountain landscape.
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At The Vanishing Point

In her painting, which she doesn't title, she explores the effect of layering and removing excess.  Her work was fascinating and moving.
I loved the paintings - even though she whips them out to understand the negative images.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just Sayin'


Oh - It's been broughten!

Last night (on our anniversary) Eddie and I went to see Bring It On - The Musical!
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I don't know if there was an exclamation point in the actual title, but there should have been if there wasn't.
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It was a little different from the movie, but it was full of jumps kicks and overwrought songs.  Kids, it was just what the doctor ordered.
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AND with Neil Haskell from SYTYCD Season 3 - and all stars season.  His part wasn't huge, and he played dumb.  But, they did bring him in shirtless and he still proves that dancers have almost no body fat.
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Tuman High (with the girl in front before she is redistricted)

Jackson High (with the two alpha-gals including the blond
post redistricting)

The blond (Taylor Louderman) and SYTYCD's Neil Haskell

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ed's Fish

After fishing in the Keys north of Tampa (outside of Homasasa Springs) for the day, Eddie caught a big trout.  Actually he caught a couple.  I caught 2, both smaller than 15 inches and had to be thrown back. 
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Rick is standing behind him and he was our captain.  There were about 14 people in 4 boats.  After this picture Rick and the 3 other captains made us an amazing lunch on an island the club owns and we ate this exact fish with hushpuppies and baked beans.  It rocked!  (Not the fishing, per say, but the lunch.  Trout was yum-ME.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Well, it was fun while it lasted

I would love to say maybe Oregon State is better than we thought.  But UCLA probably isn't as good as I hoped.
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Oh well.  We are better than last year.
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Our Latest National Monument: Chimney Rock

Sometimes naked politics is bi-partisan - AND a good thing.
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President Obama has just created the latest National Monument, Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado.  The bill was put forward by many in the Colorado delegation (including the local Representative - a Republican, Scott Tipton and the Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet), but like everything else in Congress it was stuck in the La Brea Tar Pits that is swallowing our government.
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So, the Republican Congressman (Scott Tipton) from the district who wants to get re-elected spoke with the Democratic President who wants to get re-elected.  And, the administration can designate National Monuments if the site had been a National Historic Area (via the 1906 Antiquities Act).  Chimney Rock has been a National Historic Site for years due to it's historical importance to the Pueblo Indians.
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So we now have 103 National Monuments.  Full Story


I have to admit, growing up visiting National Parks and Monuments all California - I LOVE the desert / high desert landscape.  There is a majesty to the wilderness that calls to me.  (Granted, calls me to hike, then spend the night in a hotel - but calls none the less.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Over ReReaction


There has been a lot of talk about the Muslim reaction to the rather inane YouTube clip.  As I am sure everyone knows, the clip was posted as well as translated – and it lead to riots.  In the case of Libya, it seems the riots were the cover for a pre-planned terrorist attack.
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Across the spectrum, both left and right, there has been condemnation of both the attacks – as well as the administration’s response to the film and the attacks.  From the right, there has been acknowledgement that Obama and the State Department said it was free speech, but decry the message.  The right sees this as weakness the daily beast,  fox news, etc.  Many on the left think a similar thing -  in that the full throated defense of free speech is tempered by the “it is wrong to denigrate any religion”, and they see that as “caving in” to the Muslims.  They further see attempts to pull it from YouTube as a sign of weakness.
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I understand the comments, but I disagree – here is why.  The movie in question is designed with no other reason than to inflame Muslims.  If you watch the entire (almost unwatchable) 13 minutes, you will see there is no other reason for the movie to exist.  The movies that some people think “insult” Christians are not designed ONLY to denigrate Christianity.  Passion of the Christ infuriated some people because of implications that Jesus had sex.  Corpus Christi offends people because it portrays Jesus as gay.  But both portrayals – and countless others – are designed to relook at the message of Christ in a new way.  And in most cases, the moral is that the message of Christ outweighs how it comes to people.  And some very offensive images in art are designed as expressions of the church as an institution, not of the message of Christ.
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This movie, however, is designed ONLY to insult Mohammed.   If you look at it, there is no other purpose.  This movie is designed to inflame Muslims – which it does.  The movie is designed to inflame, and in doing so the reaction was totally predictable.  The regret of intelligent people isn’t that the movie accidently incites Mohammed – it is that it is DESIGNED to insult.
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Image a movie that portrays Jesus Christ as someone that sexually preys on multiple 13 year old girls, says he has multiple gay relationships as both active and passive (as described in this movie), has sex with donkeys and achieves near orgasm after killing people and covered in blood.  AND it is horribly acted and badly dubbed.  To apologize for this movie is NOT to apologize for free speech, but to apologize for offensive speech in the service of hate.  It is comparable, except with much worse acting, to the also offensive Protocols of Zion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why is Paul Ryan Sad....

There is a group of sad pictures of Paul Ryan....  It is sad...
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Remember when it was hard being John McCain with Sarah Palin as your running mate.  Well, it is hard being Paul Ryan with Willard Mittens Romney on top of the ticket.

Republicans - Screwing Veterans


There is always time to screw the little guy!
WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans blocked legislation Wednesday that would have established a $1 billion jobs program putting veterans back to work tending to the country's federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments.
Republicans said the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress agreed to last year. Democrats fell two votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to waive the objection, forcing the legislation back to committee.
Supporters loosely modeled their proposal after the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps used during the Great Depression to put people to work planting trees, building parks and constructing dams. They said the latest monthly jobs report, showing a nearly 11 percent unemployment rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, merited action from Congress.
"(With) a need so great as unemployed veterans, this is not the time to draw a technical line on the budget," said Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the bill's lead sponsor, who faces a competitive re-election battle.
Republicans said the effort to help veterans was noble, but the bill was flawed nevertheless.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the federal government already has six job-training programs for veterans and there is no way to know how well they are working. He argued that making progress on the country's debt was the best way to help veterans in the long-term.  SM Note: Sen Coburn's argument makes little sense when you remember this was to help move them into Law enforcement, fire departments and tending federal land.  It was not a "job training program".

So NOT all in good fun

Well, if you are on planet Mars - on not in the USA, you might not be aware of the "chair-as-President Obama" idea.  Clint Eastwood while giving a speech at the Republican National Convention put a chair on stage and spoke to it as an invisible President Obama.
Clint and the Original Chair
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Well now Crazy Anti-Obama Republicans are lynching chairs to show how much hate and anger they have towards President Obama.  Not all Republicans and not everyone who wants Obama to lose.  But enough pure hate to scare me a little.  Stories are here (Texas) and here (Virginia).
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How twisted is someone to do this?  Per wikipedia about 3,500 black men were lynched in the south between 1882 and 1968.  It was common enough for songs and pictures.  And these people think it is political speech?  They are screwed up.
Chair in Texas

"Nobama" chair in Virginia

Lynched and dead.
People are some sick freaks.

A Good Boy

So we were in the elevator today, and there was a little boy (maybe 4) who was a little trepidatious  around Trevor.  Not scared, exactly, but not full on comfortable either.  Well, we had just been to the pet store and the owner gives us 2 treats.  I usually give 1 to him right then, and save the other for home.
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I decided to give the boy the treat and I told him to have Trevor sit.  He takes it, and kind of tentatively says, "sit". And I say, no - you have to make him think you're in charge.
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So he straightened himself up and said, "Sit" in a confident voice and Trevor sat and then took the treat the boy handed him.
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Now this works great because Trevor is dainty and doesn't just wolf down a treat, he takes it cautiously to make sure he likes it.
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The boy was excited and as he and his dad left the elevator I hear him say, "Did you see?  That was the first time I ever did that and the dog sat!" 

LA Trip to LACMA

So, while Eddie and I were having our physicals, we went by LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), to see the rock.  It is ... interesting.  Unimpressive, then impressive, then whimsical.
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Odd.
Eddie and the boulder ("Levitated Mass")
Ed levitating.
We also so a Ken Price sculpture exhibit.  These pieces are from his recent work, which was very organic and colorful.  They are fired and painted clay.
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Again, we liked them (and I didn't know I wasn't suppose to take pictures - that sign was so small).
Kind of wild, huh?

This is called "Venus" - although it looks a little more
Martian War-of-the-Worlds to me
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Non-Payers of Federal Income Tax

For all Mitt's "47% of people don't pay federal income taxes - and they will never vote for me" that will vote for Obama, the truth is very different.  Since many of these are retired people or military - you see many of these households in the South.  The South, FYI, is not an area that traditionally would vote for a Black Democrat for president.
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Here is the map of "most % of Tax Filers with no Income Tax Liability"  or, as Mitt would put it, Moochers.  Red is more moochers, Blue is less moochers. (Reference)
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And Bingo was his Name-o...

Is Mitt one of the 47% that doesn't pay federal income taxes?

He hides money in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and Luxembourg.  Are there years he didn't pay federal income taxes?
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Because we know he feels "victimized" by the press.  And we know he gets government hand-outs ($77,000 tax break on a horse anyone?).  By his own logic, will he be voting for Obama?
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Is logic even a word that you can use when discussing Mittens.
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Ah questions questions questions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Some of the 47%


Mittens stands by his comments that "the 47% of people that vote for Obama are dependent on the government and don't pay federal income taxes.."
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Here are some of the "moochers"...
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Elderly who are on Social Security - they don't pay Federal Income Taxes

US Marines protecting Americans - these in Afghanistan
They don't pay federal income taxes

Rich People who can hide their income....

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Eddie and new Friends

Eddie and the 2 pups of friends.  These two are named Dublin and Groovius.  Don't show Trevor the picture.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lesula: Brand New Monkey Species "Discovered"

So they "discovered" a brand new monkey species.  I suppose "discovered" is an odd word since it is in the Congo, and the locals knew about them.
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In fact, one that they investigated was in a classroom in the Congo - but it was undocumented hence "newly discovered".
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It's yellow fur makes it always look out of focus to me.
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Lesula drawn

The newly discovered Lesula

Initially scientist if the adult male "Owl Face" and the Lesula on the right were the same species