Sunday, June 20, 2021

Father's Day, and Horatio H. Hamster Esq.

                                     

     When I awoke this morning, I remembered that this is Father's Day, the day we pay

honor to dear old dad, by loading him down with all of the paternal wares that the 

retailers can convince us are essential to the good life for pop.  So, since I did make

an effort to say something about Mother's Day, in the blog this year, I decided to give 

some equal space to the male parents of the country.  I was just beginning to compose

my thoughts, when my little friend, thespian and sometime model, Horatio,  popped in 

to say hello.

         " Bonjour, Monsieur McNerney, my great artiste friend. How are you today?",

he said, with typical, dramatic flourish.

     So I wished him a good day in return, as I wondered whether his costume might

provide some insight into the ever changing definition of the middle "H" in his name.  

As it turned out, I was not mistaken in that assumption.  I asked him what his plans

were for the day, and he said that he had been asked to prepare the Father's Day

banquet for some of his friends at The Quadruped Playhouse, because of his well

known, family heritage in the field of houte cuisine.  I said that I was not familiar with

that part of his family history, so he told me that one of his ancestors had spent a 

number of years in L'Ecole du Cordon Bleu, in Paris, under the tutelage of his mentor,

the founder of the school, the famous chef, Henri-Paul Pellaprat.   It seemed that Horatio's

ancestor wasn't exactly under the chef's tutelage so much as he was under the 

chef's stove, which Horatio said had been an exclusive position for him to be, 

in order to take all of his voluminous notes on how to prepare the chef''s famous 

recipes.  I agreed that the exclusive position must have been a great advantage, for 

gathering the great knowledge of cooking which had been passed down to Horatio. 

and I asked if his middle name might reflect that long, family tradition.  And indeed,

he said the name Henri, was a frequently adopted one for family members, as a tribute

to their culinary, talented ancestor.

     He said that he wouldn't have much time to pose, because he had several pots

cooking on his stove, and he didn't trust his helpers to keep the pots stirred.  However, 

he paused briefly, and as I was doing a quick sketch, he asked what I was planning

for my dinner.  I replied that it was unlikely to be anything like a recipe from the Cordon

Bleu school of French cuisine, but that I preferred something simple, because I had

nothing in particular to celebrate.  Then, with another exchange of "Bonjour !", I sent 

him off to stir his pots, because I didn't want him to burn such a four-star meal.

      Horatio's visit had been a little, bright spot in what would have been an ordinary

day for me.  My own father has been gone for more years than a majority of today's

young grandfathers have been alive, and I was not fortunate enough to have children of 

my own, so I had no reason to pay much attention to all of the celebrations going on 

around the globe.  Evidently there are well over one hundred countries which have 

holidays to pay tribute to the long-suffering dads of the world.  The first such recognized 

holiday in this country was begun in 1910, by the daughter of a civil war vet, who thought 

we we were not doing enough to honor our fathers.  The special days for fathers in other

some countries began later, such as that of France, which was initiated after the second 

world war, by an advertising campaign from a manufacturer of cigarette lighters, saying

that every father in the country deserved the special pleasure of owning one of the new 

lighters.  The celebrations in other countries, go back much further in time, such as the 

so-called Man's Day, in Germany, where there is an old tradition for men to have a day

 to drink their troubles away, by taking treks while pulling wagons filled with bottles

of potent potables.  Presumably, all of the bottles will have been finished off by the time 

the men stagger back home, but at least the wagons weigh less coming back than when

they left, and none of the men are expected to make it to work on the following day.

     I would like to suggest, for those who really want to make Father's Day or any day

more special for a truly wonderful dad, don't worry so much about expensive gifts; just 

tell him that you love him.  We live in a repressive society which is often uncomfortable 

with showing expressions of love between fathers and sons, but that needs to change.

Even if your father gets all embarrassed and flustered when you say it, tell him you love

him, and say it every time you have the chance.  The day will come when you will never 

have that opportunity again. 

                                                  Eugene P. McNerney

 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

About War And Illusions Of Peace, and - The Exultant Spartan ( Warrior No.7 )

                                             

                                                        The Exultant Spartan, ( Warrior No. 7) 

                                                        An original acrylic painting - 16" X 20" , unframed 

                              

  

     Tomorrow is Memorial Day, ( formerly known as Decoration Day ), when all across

 our nation, patriotic Americans will use flowers and flags to decorate the graves of our 

fallen men and women of the armed forces.  Others will simply treat the holiday as an

opportunity to have a barbecue picnic, and begin the summer's festivities.  It would be

nice to think that many of us will also pause to consider why it should be, that the 

mourners of the fallen, will always have more, new graves to decorate, with the passing 

of every year, and the passing of every decade, just as they have done through every 

century, and every millennia gone by.  

      Historians through the ages, for more than twenty-five hundred years, have 

documented the pivotal wars and battles which shaped our world, carefully detailing 

the battle plans and listing the names of the commanders and the prominent soldiers 

who led the battles.  From the epic wars between the ancient Greeks and the Persian 

Empire, and the territorial wars between the Greek city-states. to the Roman conquests 

and their civil war, to the wars for Empire, fought between European monarchies, to the 

world ravaging wars of the past couple of centuries: the historians have recorded their

names and all the death and destruction that they wrought upon each other, for us to

see and ponder today.   Sadly, the only lengthy period without major warfare during 

those centuries, was the Pax Romana, which was imposed on the entire Roman 

Empire, by the iron fists of the armies.

     So, what are the defects of the human character which makes us so easily drawn 

into making war on our fellow man?  We don't have the excuse of the Sacred Band 

of the Spartans, who were taken from their families by age seven, to be trained as 

warriors, under harsh and often brutal living conditions.  For the Spartans, pillaging 

and burning an enemy's city, was all in a day's work.  The fault therefore is in ourselves, 

which is revealed in our general lack of reasoning power, in the choices that we make.

We are too easily taken in by political frauds, who are quick to exploit our xenophobia 

and our, racial and ethnic hatreds, in order to gain political power, to use for their own 

benefit, rather than as a way to offer honest, public service to the people.  It becomes 

much too easy for us to blame all of our problems on people that we see as being 

different from ourselves, but at the same time, it doesn't seem easy for us to recognize 

the lies and deceptions of  the warmongering demagogues.  We tend to simply revert  

to being tribal, mindless soldiers, rather than the kind of intelligent patriots who fight 

to attain truth and justice for all.

     Now, all around the world, we have these days of remembrance, to pay tribute 

to those patriots who too often have had to defend their nations from the armies of 

the kind of brutal tyrants and dictators that we read about in our history books, 

and the same kind of dictators who still manage to gain power over much of the 

world today.  So, on our Memorial Day, as we decorate the graves of our fallen 

heroes, the knowledge of human history makes us realize that a lasting peace can 

never be achieved until we change, and become a more intelligent and thoughtful 

human species.  Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon.

    There is an old song by Pete Seeger and Tom Petty, called,"Where have all 

the flowers gone?", which caries on with that sad theme.  The song's lyrics tell 

us that the flowers have all gone to the graveyards of all of the young men who 

went to war and died before their time.  Then the song asks that age-old,

unanswerable question,"When will they ever learn?", and it gets no answer.

So I will repeat the question.  When will we ever learn? 

                                                            Eugene P. McNerney


P.S.  The photo of the painting is very poor. I will try to get a more accurate image.


Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Gift Your Mother Really Wants, and, A Mother's Lulla-by

   

                                        A Mother's Lulla-by.  an original acrylic painting, on canvas

                                          16 X 20, unframed

                                                                   ( click on image to enlarge )


     Before we had the modern, commercialized version of Mother's Day, there were 

formalized celebrations of the mother figure, which stretch back for thousands of years.  

One example, from Roman times, was the celebrations of Cybele.  The early Christian 

Church, probably appropriated her and changed her to Mary, as a way to help gain 

converts, just as they had done, in setting the date of Jesus' birth to coincide with the 

winter solstice, as a way to help convert people away from their pagan, winter-sun 

ceremonies.

     Today's celebrations of mother are not formalized or ritualized, but this day does offer

an opportunity for a meaningful confirmation of the greatest bond of unconditional love 

which any of us ever experience.  For those of you who are fortunate enough to have 

a wonderful mother, who devoted her life, her energy, and all of her resources, to 

nurturing and educating her children, this is a good opportunity to truly show your 

genuine gratitude for the life she gave to you.  

      Your mother doesn't really want an obligatory, phone call, or a greeting card, 

or flowers, or candy, or a trinket of jewelry, although she will, no doubt, thank you 

warmly, for any expression of your love which you offer to her.  What your mother 

wants is time with you; time to see you, to hug you and feel your touch, time to hear 

more about everything that is going on in your life.  Give her the time to be proud 

and thankful for the mutual achievement that is your life  The true gift for her is 

the gift of yourself, and especially so if she is alone now.

     So tomorrow, or on any day when you are long, long overdue for a visit with the

mother who brought you into this world, give her what she really wants.

     But if you have made other plans for the day, don't decide to visit her, merely to

make it a pit-stop, for a quick hello to mom, and then say that you're sorry you can't 

stay, because you're so terribly busy right now.  If you do that, you can be sure that, 

as soon as you leave, and the door slowly closes behind you, on those silent rooms, 

there will be some lonely tears when you are gone.

                                                                     Eugene P. McNerney


      P. S. - That photo of the painting looks a bit out of focus.  I had intended to get 

a different shot of it, but I used this one here, because it fits in with this post.  I'll try

 to get a new photo of it soon.


 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

April Fool's Day, and - January 6th (Carnival No. 5 )

                                                  January 6th,  an original acrylic painting

                                                  22 X 30" ,  unframed

                                                                 ( click on image to enlarge )                                                         


     The first day of April, is the traditional day for playing practical jokes on one's friends 

and family members, and then having a good laugh when you reveal that it was all a lie,

and end up by calling the victim of the joke an "April fool"!  Such pranks are often crude 

and insensitive, when they are played out on a personal level, but when big lies are 

created on a national level, the results can be fatally disastrous.  Donald Trump told his 

foolish and ignorant followers, that he won the presidential election, and that his win was 

being stolen from him.   He sent them off to invade the congress and kidnap, or perhaps

kill, to prevent his removal from office.  The resulting insurrection endangered the lives 

of our congress members, desecrated our capitol building, and seriously injured over 

one hundred and forty law-enforcement officers, including one who died.

     Perhaps the saddest part of Trump's on-going, giant hoax, is that so many of his 

poor fools remain so stubbornly ignorant of truth and facts.  They continue to get all 

of their information from only those sources which agree with their own prejudices 

and fears, rather than seek out the truth.  They give the impression that their reading

level never rose above the comics books stage.

     I have used a composite costume of one such fool, as a subject for the fifth 

painting from the Carnival series, called January 6th.  It seems appropriate as another 

example of the thoughtless and often fatal behavior of our continuing, human carnival.

    I suppose some critics will label this painting as political art, and I suppose that is 

true, to some degree, but a large part of art has always been political, throughout the

history.  Artists have always been thrust into the events and controversies of their 

times, on both sides, willingly or not, and we all see things from different frames of 

reference.  We must react to what is happening around us, and how could that not 

affect our work?

    I am reminded of one such example of two different artist's points of view, about

the important political events of their time.  It was the famous French artist, Jacques 

Louis David, who painted the grand, Coronation Of Napoleon, in 1806, glorifying the

self-proclaimed Emperor in sumptuous detail.  A year later, Napoleon brutally invaded 

Spain, which eventually led to Francisco Goya's creation of the unforgettable painting

called The Third Of May 1808, showing the French soldiers slaughtering Spanish 

civilians.  They were two artists who aligned themselves with the prevailing powers of 

their countries, in order to gain income and find enduring, artistic influence, but only one 

gave us the truth of the brutal realities of war. 

     I never have been aligned with anyone in a position of power, political or otherwise,

but what you see in my work will always be the truth, as I see the truth.  April Fool's

are not my style.     

                                        Eugene P. McNerney

    

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Wee Bit Of A Visit From Horatio

 

 

     

     They say that on Saint Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish for a day.  So I shouldn't have 

been surprised when my little thespian friend, and sometime model, Horatio, stopped by

to say "Top o' the mornin' to ye, Patrick!".  He was clearly aware of the permanence of 

my middle name, whereas the middle initial H, in his name, always seems to stand for a

different name, every time he comes by.  On this visit, he suggested that I must attach a

special significance to the fact that my name is so identifiable with the holiday, but that is

contrary to my own feelings.

     I was born at a time when it was most common for for newborns to be named after

their parents or their parent's siblings.  When I came along, my father's name had already 

been attached to his firstborn son, so I was given the full name of one of my uncles, saints

and all.  In the era when my parents were born, babies were named after as many saints

as possible, presumably in the hope that some of that saintliness would rub off, in the 

good behavior of the growing children.  I told Horatio, that I couldn't say that having a 

couple of saints in my name had ever elevated my life, to a higher degree of influence 

for a better world.  But on Saint Patrick's Day, perhaps I'm entitled to have an extra 

pint or two of Guinness.

     I complimented Horatio on his shamrock hat and his authentic, clay pipe, and I

inquired if he was planning on appearing in an Irish role soon.  (Knowing his sensitivity

to the question of his height, I didn't ask if he was planning to play one of "the little

people".)  He said that there had been some discussion, at the quadruped playhouse,

of reviving one of G.B. Shaw's classics, but he didn't say what part he would be 

playing.  

     As I was doing a quick sketch of him, Horatio said that he wouldn't be staying

long, because he wanted to hurry off to visit more friends, and offer them all a bit of

Saint Paddy's Day cheer.  So, I didn't detain him very long.  We are all in need of 

some good holiday cheer, in these days of isolation and mourning.  I wished him a

fond farewell, and watched him hurry off to make his rounds of spreading cheerful,

Saint Patrick's Day greetings.

     If this year had been a normal one, this would have been the day to traditionally

gather 'round the fire, and raise our glasses, in familiar toasts to the good health of

our families, friends and loved ones.  "May the road always rise to meet you, and 

may the wind be always at your back !", is one of the more frequently offered toasts,

to express the hope that our life's journey will not be overly difficult.  And then the

familiar toast about coming to the end of our journey, "May you be in heaven, a half 

hour before the devil knows you're dead!", expressing the hope of forgiveness and

clemency, for whatever minor offenses may have put a bit of a blotch on our records, 

here on earth.

     Such warm and friendly gatherings are not happening for many of us this year,

so I would like to offer a toast to those of you who occasionally stop by my place,

here at Paintings Day By Day, to see my art, from time to time.  You will always be

welcome here, to come in from the cold and sit by my blog's hearth, to warm yourself

for a while.  I'll be putting an extra potato in the pot for you, while I try to finish another

painting or two...... before my paints run dry. 

                                                        Eugene P. McNerney

       

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Grand Old Party is for sale, to the lowest bidder.

 


           As we look back over the events of the past year or so, it all seems so 

unbelievable, that if it were a work of fiction, no one would have published such a crazy

story.  Even now, as I try to gain some kind of perspective on the incredible proceedings,

 it is difficult to understand how a once morally courageous political party, could become 

so cowardly, and so totally under the control of the very worst elements of American 

society.  

        But then we remember the three-year long, build-up to 2020, as Donald Trump built 

his coalition of racists, xenophobes, and willfully ignorant fools, that William Allen White 

called the "great, seething, moronic underworld'! Trump fostered and nurtured them into 

a misguided but powerful, voting block, which would be loyal to Trump alone.  

He then began using that power of voter-control, to make sure that all of the Republican 

members of congress, would let him do what ever he wanted to do, even if it was 

treasonous, without suffering any consequences for his actions. 

     Then Trump tried to withhold military aid from one of our allies, as a way to extort

a promise from them, to create false information about his political opponent, in 

exchange for the bribe of the needed aid.  That despicably treasonous act, justifiably

led to Trump's first impeachment.  But despite an abundance of proof of his crime, 

the senate Republicans refused to see the proof, or hear witnesses, or say that Trump 

was guilty.  They preferred to play blind, deaf and dumb, and let him continue his criminal 

behavior, rather than risk his political wrath.   And giving that false verdict was just one 

of their betrayals of their oaths of office, which they committed, in order to hold on 

to their prestigious, government positions.  

     Following that criminal triumph, came the news of the coming pandemic, which 

Trump downplayed as a simple flu, which would soon disappear without any great

consequences for the American public, even though he had been informed of how

disastrously lethal the plague was likely to become.  Even worse, as the pandemic 

raged, he failed to properly prepare the country to fight the plague, while openly 

discouraging the proper use of safety mandates, such as masks to stop the spread

of the virus.  And as a result, we have now lost over half a million victims to the plague, 

more than all of the soldiers we lost in the first and second world wars and Vietnam 

combined.

     Then as the 2020 election drew closer, and it became clear that Trump was likely

to lose, he began to plot a way to hold on to power, which only a narcissistic, fascist

mind could dream up.  Over a period of months, before the election, he began telling

his followers that the election was going to be rigged and that millions of votes would

be stolen.  With his militias thus prepared, following his loss, he rallied the mindless 

fanatics, and called them to Washington, to assemble for a fight, on the day when the 

congress officially counts the votes of the Electoral College.  When the mob gathered,

 he sent them to the Capitol, to violently try to prevent the congress from doing its duty.  

 He told them that he would go too, but he sneaked off to the White House to watch 

the violence unfold on television.  As the terrorists raged, severely injuring over one 

hundred and forty officers, and threatening the lives of the vice president, the speaker 

of the house and all the members of congress, he did nothing to stop the lethal rampage!

     What was he thinking? Was he hoping that Mike Pence or Nancy Pelosi might be

killed or so severely injured that he could declare martial law, and nullify the election?

Whatever he had in mind, it didn't work.  So, when it was all over, but the clean-up,

he finally spoke to his murderous mob, saying "We love you. You're very special!" 

     The inevitable result for such an incitement to insurrection, was Trump's second 

impeachment, and the conclusion was just as inevitable.  Even though a large majority 

of the congress find Trump detestable,and would have found him guilty if given the 

option of a secret ballot, all but a few of the Republican senators voted to give him 

another acquittal.  In true Trump fashion, they chose to do what was best for 

themselves, rather than what was best for the country.  

     The party which once stood for the ultimate in patriotism, courage and 

self-sacrifice, now only stands for irresponsibility, cowardice and greed.  

They now prefer the policy of  "see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing!" 

     John McCain must be turning over in his grave.


       

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Unendinng Carnival, and - Janus

 

                                                              Janus, an original acrylic painting

                                                               24" X  36", on stretched canvas - unframed

                                                                    ( click on image to enlarge )


     Janus was the Roman god of new beginnings, the two-faced god from whom nothing

could be concealed, and the god from which we derive the name for the first month of the year.  

The sculpture below is one example of the ways the artists in ancient Rome depicted him.

 


      In December, following the presidential election, as I was breathing a sigh of relief, 

I began thinking of doing a posting about the two-faced god, for this month's entry.

The idea of having that kind of duality, of the ability to honestly, look back and chronicle 

the past, while peering into the future at the same time, seemed like the kind of valuable

self-improvement resolution America should have for the new year of 2021.  We had

fresh hope in the air, a new start, with an administration based on science and truth,

 instead of a president who had politicized the plague, and installed a fascist regime in the 

White House.  The mad carnival seemed to be about to come to it's end.

     And then, on January sixth, the fresh hope was met with reality.  Trump, the loosing 

and angry, narcissistic sociopath, rallied his moronic militias and white-supremacists, 

and sent his goon squads to invade our nation's capitol and attack the members of 

congress, to try and overthrow the election and make him a dictator. 

    So, once again we are faced with the flaws which seem to be inherent in a fairly 

large percentage of the human species.  Many of us tend to be egocentric and mindless

dolts, who will act on any stray impulse, without giving a thought as to whether it is 

wise or a good idea.  Many still continue to gather and party, during this pandemic,

while defiantly going unmasked, because they say it's their constitutional  right to 

be as stupid and inconsiderate of other people as they want to be.  The human 

carnival continues, as it has for several thousand years, and as it always will, until 

we learn to change.  

     If we can only use the duel vision of Janus, we have our hindsight, to learn 

from our history, and our foresight, to plan for a better world, in the future.  

A good start would be a higher education policy, which would help every citizen

rise to the limits of his or her, full potential. 

                                                              E. P. McNerney