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Victorian Surrealism


The artworks of the American artist Jeffrey Harp who transforms the Victorian era in a strange and surreal world…














Friday the 13th




According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th.

He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that one Friday 13th of November he died.

Several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.

One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

• In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

• Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.

• One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.

• Records of the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common. The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and in John J. Robinson’s 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry. On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France, an action apparently motivated financially and undertaken by the efficient royal bureaucracy to increase the prestige of the crown. Philip IV was the force behind this ruthless move, but it has also tarnished the historical reputation of Clement V. From the very day of Clement V’s coronation, the king falsely charged the Templars with heresy, immorality and abuses, and the scruples of the Pope were compromised by a growing sense that the burgeoning French State might not wait for the Church, but would proceed independently. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention.

Phobia names and etymology

The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”) attached to phobía (φοβία, from phóbos, φόβος, meaning “fear”). The latter word was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.


Tuesday the 13th

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck.
The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) to be an unlucky day. Tuesday is considered to be dominated by the influence of Ares (Mars), the god of war. A connection can be seen in the etymology of the name in some European languages (Mardi in French or martes in Spanish). The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans happened on Tuesday, May 29, 1453, fact that strengthens the superstition about Tuesday. In addition, in Greek the name of the day is Triti (Τρίτη) meaning literally the third (day of the week), adding weight to the superstition, since bad luck is said to “come in threes”.

Friday the 17th

In Italian popular culture, Friday the 17th (and not the 13th) is considered a day of bad luck. In fact, in Italy, 13 is generally considered a lucky number. However, due to Anglo-Saxon influence, young people consider Friday the 13th to be unlucky as well.
The 2000 parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth was released in Italy with the title Shriek – Hai impegni per venerdì 17? (“Shriek – Do You Have Something to Do on Friday the 17th?”).


Social impact

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. “It’s been estimated that [US]$800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day”. Despite this, representatives for both Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines say that their airlines do not suffer from any noticeable drop in travel on those Fridays.

Rate of accidents

The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500.”





Freud’s Photographer



Over the course of several days in May 1938, Edmund Engelman, a young, talented and resourceful Viennese photographer, immortalised the home and offices of Sigmund Freud in a series of pictures that represent the fullest visual documentation of the setting in which Freud lived and worked throughout almost his entire career. He also photographed Freud, his daughter and his wife. These photographs are best known through a book that also contains a memoir of Engelman (Engelman, 1976). The photographs have been recognised primarily for their documentary value and not appreciated for their artistic merit. Through a series of interviews with Engelman and members of his family, biographical data about the artist and information about the photographs has been gathered that heretofore has not been published. This historical note elaborates on Engelman’s life before and after taking the photographs, and places the photographs in the context of the life of the photographer.









Today in the Freud Museum in London.



Four-midable Spain



Spain were crowned European champions once again in emphatic fashion on an historic night in Kiev.

A Richly-deserved 4-0 triumph over Italy saw Vincent Del Bosque’s master craftsmen become the first country to win three major tournaments in a row and assume the mantle as the greatest international team of all time.

The Spaniard’s trademark possession game, which had been exclusively lauded in their Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup victories, had been derided as boring by some observers and fans this summer.

However, Spain answered their detractors in the perfect style with beautiful defences from Captain Iker Casillas and superbly worked goals from Davis Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mats to romp to victory.




Viva España!



The New Thames Cable Car – In Pictures



The Emirates Air Line, the UK’s first urban cable car, links the North Greenwich Peninsula with Royal Docks. In one of the more controversial sponsorship deals in Transport for London’s history, the eponymous airline got its name on the Tube map, and on the cable car’s two terminals.

At a height of 90m, the views across the Docklands and Canary Wharf and toward the Olympic Park are impressive, if not spectacular. The price – adult fares are £3.20 for Oyster users, £4.30 cash.














T-Rex Trying…



I love artist Hugh Murphy’s highly amusing Tumblr, T-Rex Trying, in which the most infamous of dinosaurs is depicted attempting to do every day things such as stowing his hand luggage into the overhead locker, trying to make a move while watching a movie and trying to be a matador. It’s simple, silly and sweet, all at the same time.





















Incredible 3D Sketchbook Illustrations



Nagai Hideyuki is a 21 year old artist from Japan, he creates drawings that seem to leap out of the sketchbook before your very eyes. It’s amazing to see what can be done with just a pencil and paper and the right angle for capturing a photo. The way he uses lighting, shading, and anamorphosis to create these 3D images is reminiscent of MC Escher but even more mind-blowing.
















Colorful Exploding Water Balloons



London-based photographer Edward Horsford has mastered the technique of timing in these photographs that feature split-second water balloon explosions. He is well known for this exciting series, and he says, “I started these as a way to challenge myself technically and creatively.” Wow, he has had great success with his self-initiated challenge!

Horsford’s goal in photography is to capture high speed moments that are rarely seen. Focusing on a solid background, his own hand, and a colorful water balloon, he perfectly times the moments when each rubber balloon breaks and a spray of water floats in the air before quickly flooding to the ground.

Horsford built his own trigger, customized to function and adapt to exactly the right speeds. He sets up in the dark and uses a flashlight to focus on the main point of his image. He then experiments with composition, strobe lighting, angles, and color combinations to keep his photographs visually interesting. The process is so complex and exact, that each photograph is more unique than the next!










World’s Smiles



Yoko Ono is using Twitter and Instagram to make a Film of World’s Smiles.

In 1967, Yoko Ono publicly shared that her ultimate goal in filmmaking is to create a film which includes “a smiling face snap of every single human being in the world.” Forty-five years later, she can now easily turn her visionary project into reality through #smilesfilm, a worldwide mass participation photography project that uses social networking and media platforms Twitter and Instagram.

Ono’s ambitious project calls on people around the world to participate in her project by uploading images of themselves smiling and including the hashtag #smilesfilm, which then collages all entries in the official project website.

“People from cities and countries around the world can freely upload their smiles by mobile phone and computer to the world and its people. Each time we add our smiles to #smilesfilm, we are creating our future, together. Give us your smile! I love you!”
Yoko Ono

Smile!!! 🙂



Guinness Draught vs Original – So What’s The Difference?



Two beers; one name. There can be little difference, surely? Well you’ve clearly never tasted GUINNESS Draught and GUINNESS Original side by side says top beer blogger Jeff Evans

There’s a mere 0.1% variation in strength, but the way in which they are presented makes a whole world of difference to the appearance and, more importantly, the taste.

Draught in a can

GUINNESS Draught was introduced in 1988, a canned equivalent of the Draught GUINNESS in pubs that first saw the light 30 years earlier.

Back in the 1950s, cask-conditioned stout was being phased out in Ireland, but the new-fangled keg beer dispense systems, using pressurised carbon dioxide to store and serve the beer, were not popular with drinkers who preferred the softer carbonation of the original cask beer.

Hence GUINNESS set to work on devising a revolutionary new dispense system, using a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases. The result was a stout that had a smooth, creamy texture and was a delight to observe as it filled the glass with a milky swirl.

Bottled GUINNESS Original, or GUINNESS Extra Stout as it was known at the time, continued to be popular in its own way, devotees preferring the lively presence of carbon dioxide bubbles in the beer, which delivered a complex, more challenging stout than that presented in draught form.

Appreciation of GUINNESS Draught begins with the eye. Pouring a glass is pure theatre, watching the eddying surge as the creamy top slowly subsides, the darkness rises from beneath and the beige-and-honey no man’s land in the middle gradually diminishes.

Chocolate and mellow coffee fill the aroma before malty sweetness with hints of caramel washes softly over the tongue. It’s a frothy caffè latte in beer form, underpinned by a bite of tart roasted grain that pushes through even more in the quickly drying, increasingly bitter finish.

The Original version

GUINNESS Original, on the other hand, is a more assertive character. Instead of a smooth, dense, laid-back mousse of foam on the top, the head is rocky and jagged, comprised of tiny bubbles that prickle and pop in the mouth.

The raised carbonation level ensures that there’s a sharpness to the taste that accentuates the bitter roasted grain flavours. Sweet, milky coffee, caramel and chocolate once again all feature but the almost burnt malt flavour seems stronger, leaving a refreshingly tart, roasted bitterness in the chocolatey finish. You can find both beers in most leading supermarkets.

My first memories of GUINNESS are the remarkable television commercials of the 1960s and 70s. GUINNESS was a drink that held me in thrall. I particularly remember the clever campaign that ran during the long, hot British summer of 1976.

‘Ice cold GUINNESS’ was the theme, emphasising the point that such a complex dark beer would maintain much of its flavour even when chilled right down and offer a far more satisfying drink than the insipid lagers of the day.

It’s a theory I follow even to this day. Dark beers are most certainly not just for winter.