Viking ships and art and stuff.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader would apologize for going so long without posting. But then he thought that this is his own damned blog and he don’t owe you nuthin’…

So there…

Sorta…

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader had an action packed weekend from Friday through Sunday. On Friday - Saturday your Maximum Leader went out with some friends so celebrate a “bachelor party” of a very good friend who is getting married at the end of the month. The party consisted of going out for a wonderful dinner at Chima in Tyson’s Corner. (Your Maximum Leader nearly ate enough meat to get the “meat sweats.” Then we retired to a private suite at the Ritz where we consumed fine liquors and played poker through the wee hours of the morning. Lest you think there was anything more going on allow your Maximum Leader to go on the record and say that there is a distinct difference between a bachelor party where the attendees (and honoree) are in their 20s and a bachelor party where the attendees (and honoree) are in their 40s. We had the more civilized type… The 40-something one…

Then on Saturday your Maximum Leader spent some quality time with the Wee Villain and the Wee Villain’s friend, Thomas, who came by the Villainschloss to play.

On Sunday your Maximum Leader and his family went to Falls Church, VA to stand as Godparents to your Maximum Leader’s lovely little niece. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t mean to sound like he is complaining… But… The Mass at your Maximum Leader’s sister’s church was a bit long. This is not to say that your Maximum Leader objects to the long-form of the Mass; he does not. What he does have a little problem with however is a long rambling homilies that don’t have any apparent point other than to relate some disjointed experiences in the priest’s life to various readings of the day. Sadly, your Maximum Leader didn’t get anything out of the homily, except that the priest has tried to minister to lots of stray souls who didn’t seem to get the message. After the Mass, there was a rather long delay before another service for the baptism of the three young girls. That was a little long too, but it seemed to go much faster (as he was participating). Your Maximum Leader marveled at how well behaved the Wee Villain was as he is not used to sitting quietly (in any environment not just church) for nearly 2 and a half hours.

So… That is what your Maximum Leader did over the weekend…

In other news…

Some Swedes have discovered a whole bunch of new shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea while surveying the bottom along the path of a gas pipeline. Some of the wrecks are over 1000 years old according to the piece. You know what that means… That means they are Viking ships… Could there be some type of “Mary Rose“-esque Viking ship waiting to be brought up from the bottom? Perhaps a great example of the style (like the Gokstad ship) is ready to be salvaged and displayed… That would be cool… Perhaps they will find the ship of Urferd Forkbeard.

In news of the art world… Through use of ultraviolet rays art restorers have found the details of Giotto’s work in the Peruzzi Chapel in Santa Croce in Florence. Your Maximum Leader wants to go to Florence almost as much as he does Venice. (In fact, in decending order the cities he wants to visit in Italy are: Venice, Florence, Rome, Ravenna, Pompeii, and Naples.) Our friend Mark, who blogs over at WitNit, actually was kind enough to take some photos of the tomb (& monuments) of Machiavelli in Santa Croce while he was on vacation in Florence a few years back. (NB to Mark: You still rock! Thanks for those photos again.)

Apparently the restorers in the Peruzzi Chapel have done their ultraviolet scans and are leaving the paintings as they are for future restorations. Here is the salient part of the piece:

Even though they are often referred to as frescoes, the Peruzzi scenes were actually painted “a secco,” or on dry plaster, unlike his famous frescos in the Bardi Chapel, which is also in Santa Croce, or his works in St Francis in Assisi.

He painted the Peruzzi Chapel toward the end of his life and some experts believe he was striving for a different effect than he achieved with the fresco technique, in which the painting is done while the plaster is still wet.

“It allowed him to obtain something more rich in terms of colors, of decorations,” Frosinini said. “But over time, dry painting is very fragile,” she said.

Even after the 1958 restoration removed the “non-Giotto” parts added by 19th century “restorers,” the paintings were left faint and anemic, like a patient who had never fully healed.

But they come to life under ultra-violet light.

In the scene where God is accepting John the Evangelist into heaven, the wrinkles in John’s forehead, the threads of his beard, the whites of his eyes and God’s welcoming gaze appear like fleeting but powerful visions.

Unfortunately, they will remain fleeting forever.

The lush details are only visible when they are bathed in ultra-violet light and subjecting them to such constant bombardment would be not only impractical but harmful.

Your Maximum Leader hopes that the ultraviolet images can somehow be distributed digitally so that those of us who are interested in seeing the full scope of Giotto’s work are able to do so.

Carry on.

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