Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Willard Wigan's Wondrous Wee Works


Having discussed matters citius, altius and fortius in respect of the London Olympics, let’s reverse it and look at something microious (I made up that word)... 

Willard Wigan creates sculptures so small that they have to be viewed with a microscope and fit in the eye of a needle.  Some were posted at:

In honour of the Olympics, Wigan has made his smallest sculpture yet, so small that it is the size of a human blood cell.  The work, which took months to create, is of British Olympic diver Tom Daley on an eyelash.  Wigan created it using a microscope and painted it with the hair from the leg of a fruit fly:

The Wigan sculture of Tom Daley

Tom Daley

According to Wigan, 54:

The idea came to me one day when I had an irritating eyelash in the corner of my eye and was trying to get it out but couldn't. I finally caught it and it was one of those very fine ones right in the corner.  I took it out, put it under the microscope and the first thing I noticed was that it looked like a diving board.  There is a lot of excitement about the Olympics coming up so I decided to make the smallest sculpture I've ever done for one of the biggest occasions we've ever had - and then to make it even smaller I cut it in half. 

I have to work between my heartbeat - this is smaller than a blood cell. It was painstaking but because of my past experience I have learned special techniques like that. It's a very special piece. Most people will find it hard to understand. It's so small I'm even asking myself questions. 

When I finished the sculpture I tried to put it onto the eyelash. But the first Tom I did literally sprang off the eyelash.  Each of the Olympic rings had to be symmetrical while the whole sculpture can fit on a full stop - including Tom and the rings.  My inspiration was Tom as I think he is going to win a gold medal, I'm a big supporter of his. I seriously believe he can take a medal and I'm sure he will.  

The sculpture is made from 24-carat gold because at the end of the day we're going for gold. The '2012' measures about 4-5 microns, while Tom measures less than 20 microns.  It's called ‘In the blink of an eye’' and I'll be putting it on show for the public to see because seeing is believing.   My favourite sport is boxing and I'm hoping when people see this it will knock them out.  I'm hoping it will help raise some money for charity Help For Heroes each time it is exhibited.

(Diver Daley unfortunately didn’t feature in the medals in the men’s synchronised diving, coming fourth).

Another Wigan micro sculpture, this time of runner Usain Bolt:

Flame Wars

The above poster is a creation of graphic designer Joe Newton, who apparently wanted to use a modern message as a contrast to the old time typeface so as to set up an internal tension.  Whatever the design qualities, the message itself is a good one.  I have read that there are over 200 million tweets per day sent. 

My reason in displaying it is that I came across it just after reading an item in the Mail Online, the online version of London’s Daily Mail, that not only perfectly illustrated the message but haqd someone using the same message as part of an online argument..  

Maria Fowler, 26, an English glamour model and Page 3 girl, had tweeted during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics "Ahhh wish I was there so bad. Muhammad Ali. No disrespect though but why can't he stand now?"

For those not aware, Muhammad Ali, 70, is an American former professional boxer, three times world heavyweight champion (crowned Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated in 1999 and Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC), who now suffers from Parkinson’s syndrome.

Muhammad Ali at the London Olympics

Fowler’s innocent enquiry brought a hostile response from British internet entrepreneur Jamal Edwards: 
He said: “You are so DUMB!  If I don't know a question I would go on the net first to find out especially what I'm talking about. Not go to Twitter & ask.”

Although Fowler responded “I did google and couldn't know why. Parkinson's is so sad. I lost my grandad to Parkinson's. Ali is a legend x”,  the discussion degenerated from there, with some nasty comments made.

Maria Fowler

Jamal Edwards

Flaming; Flame War:
An online argument that becomes nasty or derisive, where insulting a party to the discussion takes precedence over the objective merits of one side or another.- Urban Dictionary

The forms, manners and actions established by the internet community as acceptable or required behaviour in social interactions.  -  Urban Dictionary

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Quote: Tallulah Bankhead


Caution: risqué language 

“The less I behave like Whistler's mother the night before, the more I look like her the morning after.” 

-           Tallulah Bankhead, after a party given by Dorothy Parker

Whister’s Mother

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (1902 –1968) (she was named after her paternal grandmother, who, in turn, was named after the town of Tallulah Falls in Georgia) was an American stage and screen actress known for her deep voice, flamboyant personality, romances with men and women, and for her support of liberal causes, all the more notable for her coming from Alabama at a time of Southern conservatism.
Some Tallulah Bankhead anecdotes follow.

Whilst doing her business in a rest room, she noticed that the toilet paper had run out. She slipped a $10 bill under the next stall and bellowed, "Do you have change, darling?"

On the set of The Loretta Young Show, where prudish Young (pictured above) had decreed that any person who cursed had to pay a 25 cent fine,  Tallulah put a $20 note into the money jar and said, "Fuck you, Loretta, you big cunt!"

In an interview with Dick Cavett, which appeared in a 1993 television documentary “The Unknown Marx Brothers, Cavett told of Bankhead meeting Chico Marx at a party.  This was before she had become famous, and when she was still prominent for being the daughter of William B Bankhead, Alabama politician, member of the  US House of Representatives and Speaker of the House. 

Marx had been cautioned to not display any of his typically crude comments and behaviour.  The two met over the punch bowl and exchanged greetings:

Chico:  “Miss Bankhead.”

Tallulah:  “Mr Marx.”

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Chico:  “You know, I really want to fuck you.”

Tallulah:  “And so you shall, you old fashioned boy.”

An early photo of the Marx Brothers, left to right:  Harpo (Adolph), Gummo (Milton), Chico (Leonard) and Groucho (Julius)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A late Funny Friday item


It has been brought to my attention that I overlooked a Corn Corner item in the last Funny Friday when I posted some Olympic humour.   My apologies.

Corn Corner:

I managed to get tickets to the Olympic women’s beach volleyball final. 
Unfortunately it is Iran versus Saudi Arabia.

Pulitzer Prize for Photograp[hy 1948

Continuing the list of the winners of
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Photography, from inception in 1942; and
  • the World Press Photograph of the Year, from inception in 1955.


Pulitzer Prize for Photography 

Frank Cushing of the Boston Traveler 

Boy Gunman and Hostage 


While waiting at a restaurant to take some photographs, on assignment for the Boston Traveler, Frank Cushing heard a police radio that a man was engaging in a gun duel with police and had a boy hostage.  It turned out that the man was himself a teenage boy. 

Two police officers had stopped the 15-year-old boy, Ed Bancroft, to question him about a robbery that had taken place. Bancroft pulled out a gun and shot one of the officers. He then took 15-year-old Bill Ronan hostage and ran into a nearby alley.  

Frank abandoned his assignment and went to investigate the scene.  He calculated which house would give him the best vantage point and knocked on a door.  The owner let him in and Frank made his way to the rear porch and took the photo that won him the Pulitzer. 

Ed Bancroft was eventually knocked unconscious by an officer who had snuck up behind the fence.

Cushing, born in 1915, had left school at the age of 16 to become a messenger for the Boston Traveler.  From there he worked his way up to news photographer, remaining with the Boston Traveler until 1968, his period with that newspaper interrupted only by war service during WW2 as an aerial photographer.  He died in 1975.

Past Bytes - Olympic items:

For those Byters interested in having a look at some past Olympics Bytes, click on the following links:

Olympic Facts and Trivia:
The London Olympics Mascots:
Origin: Citius, Altius, Fortius:
The Arm of Honour:

The Cost of Hosting


From Wikipedia at:

The cost of the Olympic Games (Summer and Winter) have been studied by Oxford scholars Bent Flyvbjerg and Allison Stewart (Flyvbjerg, Bent and Allison Stewart, 2012, "Olympic Proportions: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Olympics 1960–2012," Working Paper, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford).    

They found that over the past 50 years the most costly Games have been:

·         London 2012 (USD14.8 billion);

·         Barcelona 1992 (USD11.4 billion); and

·         Montreal 1976 (USD6 billion).

Beijing 2008 may have been more costly or not; the Chinese authorities have not released the data that would allow verification of either position.  

Cost here includes only sports-related costs and thus does not include other public costs, such as road, rail, or airport infrastructure, or private costs, such as hotel upgrades or other business investments incurred in preparation of the Games, which are typically substantial but which vary drastically from city to city and are difficult to compare consistently. 

Flyvbjerg and Stewart further found that cost overrun is a persistent problem for the Olympic Games:

§  The Games overrun with 100% consistency. No other type of megaproject is this predictable regarding cost overrun. Other megaprojects – in construction, infrastructure, dams, ICT – are typically on budget from time to time, but not the Olympics.

§  With an average cost overrun in real terms of 179% – and 324% in nominal terms – overruns in the Games have historically been significantly larger than for other types of megaprojects.

§  The largest cost overruns have been incurred by:

o   Montreal 1976 (796%);

o   Barcelona 1992 (417%); and Lake Placid 1980 (321%),

all in real terms.

§  The data show that for a city and nation to decide to host the Olympic Games is to take on one of the most financially risky type of megaproject that exists, something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril. For example, cost overrun and debt from Athens 2004 substantially worsened Greece's financial and economic crises 2008–12. Montreal took 30 years to pay off the debt from the 1976 Games.  

Finally, Flyvbjerg and Stewart found that over the past decade, cost overrun for the Games has come down to more common levels for megaprojects. For the period 2000–2010 average cost overrun was 47%, whereas before that average overrun was 258%. However, London 2012 has reversed this trend with a cost overrun that, at 101% in real terms, is back in the three-digit territory. Going forward, the challenge for planners and managers of the Games will be to get cost overrun and costs back under control, and to reduce them further, conclude Flyvbjerg and Stewart.

From Business Strategy Review, Stuart Crainer: “Seven hurdles facing Olympic host cities”

The past three summer Olympics have left their host cities with major financial problems and unfulfilled dreams. The following is by no means a thorough review, but a few details will symbolise the sad risk/reward history of recent Olympic events when viewed through a pair of business and management glasses: 

  • Sydney 2000 According to news reports, it cost New South Wales (whose capital is Sydney) some £720 million to stage the Olympics. Sydney’s Olympic Park became a white elephant; in fact, plans to develop the site for residential and commercial use did not even emerge until 2005. The Olympic legacy appeared an afterthought rather than part of an overall Olympic strategy. It was hoped that the Olympics would generate new and higher levels of tourism in Sydney and beyond, but this didn’t happen. 

  • Athens 2004 While everyone knows that Greece today is facing huge economic problems, the financial picture wasn’t much better for those organising the Olympics more than seven years ago. According to reports, the event cost nearly $11 billion — twice what was planned. And the cost of all those infrastructure projects that required round-the-clock labour going right up to the start of the games isn’t included in that number. It is estimated that more than half of Athens’ Olympic sites are hardly used or empty.  It turned out that Athenians had little real desire to conquer kayaking, baseball or table tennis.  The facilities for these sports are among those decaying and forgotten. 

  • Beijing 2008 Originally, ‘The Bird’s Nest’ Stadium created a worldwide enthusiastic stir; but a year later, the only use for it was to hold a commemorative opera.  There are plans to make it into a shopping centre as its size is too big for just about anything else.  China’s great capitalist coming-out party was accompanied with a hefty price tag.  Architectural eye candy comes with a premium price.  The Beijing Games cost an estimated $43 billion — thought to be three times more than any other Olympics.

Coming attractions . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Funny Friday


Some Olympic humour . . .

David Cameron starts delivering his speech for the London 2012 Olympic Games. He begins his remarks with "Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh." 

Immediately his speech writer rushes over to the lectern and whispers in his ear: "Prime Minister, those are the Olympic rings. Your speech is underneath."

It's 2012 and it's the Olympics in London . . .

A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman want to get in, but they haven't got tickets.

The Scotsman picks up a manhole-cover, tucks it under his arm and walks to the gate.

"McTavish, Scotland ," he says, "Discus," and in he walks.

The Englishman picks up a length of pipe and slings it over his shoulder.

"Waddington-Smythe, England ," he says, "Pole vault," and in he walks.

The Irishman looks around, picks up a roll of barbed wire and tucks it under his arm.

"O'Malley, Ireland " he says, "Fencing."

The government have advised people to watch out that they're not being sold fake 2012 Olympic tickets.

I think I'll be alright though. My tickets for the men's wheelchair triple jump seem genuine enough.

And one that has been posted before, but a goodie:

A guy goes to the Olympics and sees a man carrying a long pole. 

He asks “Are you a pole vaulter?” 

The man replies “No, I'm German, but how did you know my name is Walter?”

Banksy Knock Offs - Part 2:

Continuing the Daily Mail article on photographer Nick Stern's recreations, using real people and real objects, of some of the works of anonymous street artist Banksy, at:

 Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: Stern, a British born photographer, says he loves Banksy's 'cheek and humour'

 Spot the difference: Banksy's work shows a young girl frisk a soldier as a machine gun appears propped against the wall

‘It still has that (Quentin) Tarantino feel to it. Very dark,’ he said.

Stern, 47, who emigrated to LA five years ago from Hertfordshire, says he has always admired Banksy. ‘I love his cheek and humour,’ he said.

'Much of art is a recreation or interpretation of real life, but this is the other way round - I wanted real life to recreate art,’ he said of the concept.

Stern casts friends who look similar to Banksy’s characters to take part in the shoots.
This time round, he even managed to convince a Navy SEAL to pose as a soldier in the replication of the peace sign image.

 Painstaking: Stern spends weeks sourcing outfits and props for the shoot, he managed to find this working vintage sewing machine on Craigslist

 Social commentary: Banksy's piece shows a young barefooted boy working on a sewing machine

Laborious: Stern, 47, spent weeks scouring the internet for the costumes and props for his recreations

 Admiration: Stern says he has always liked the work of Banksy, a fellow Brit

Following the positive feedback from the series, Stern is hoping to release a book of the work in the fall.

But first Banksy needs to be onboard for his images to be reproduced, explained Stern. 

Stern has reached out to Banksy, who has not yet commented on what he thinks of the recreations.  

The name of the exhibition came from a piece of graffiti by Common Cents on Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue.  

The image shows a woman holding a spray can with ‘You are a miracle’ written alongside. A prankster changed it to read, ‘You are not Banksy.’

 Famous: Stern is hoping to bring out a book this fall featuring his You Are Not Banksy photographs

 Famous: One of Bansky's most renowned works shows a policeman knelt down looking up furtively as if he is about to snort drugs

Art within art within art: Seen left is Stern's version of Banksy's version of Keith Haring's barking dog

 What...you looking at? This young model, left, has managed to get the exact right quizzical expression