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April 13, 2003

Hey, looka there
Posted by Teresa at 12:29 AM *

Troops Discover Lush Saddam Hideaway, the AP story says; and it does sound like the guys who found the place were suitably, er, awestruck:

The doors of the town house opened to reveal a playboy’s fantasy straight from the 1960s: mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, airbrushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and a mustached hero battling a crocodile. … “This must have been Saddam’s love shack,” said Sgt. Spencer Willardson of Logan, Utah.
They’ve heard all about those things in Logan, Utah.
Capt. Chris Carter, commander of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, said the home appears to be one of Saddam’s safe houses. Officials concluded that the house was used by Parisoula Lampsos, who publicly claimed to be Saddam’s mistress. She escaped to Lebanon in 2002.
The house was done in high 60s style, with beanbag furniture and lots of fake plants. According to the story, the decor had everyone doing Austin Powers imitations.
Upstairs was a television room with bright blue, pink and yellow throw pillows. The bathroom included a whirlpool bath. The kingsize bed was fitted into an alcove with mirrors on two sides and a fantasy painting on the third. …

One of the airbrushed paintings depicted a topless blonde woman, with a green demon behind her, pointing a finger at a mythic hero. From the tip of her finger came a giant serpent, which had wrapped itself around the warrior.

Another showed a buxom woman chained to a barren desert mountain ledge, with a huge dragon diving down to kill her with sharpened talons.
Next to the news story was a little thumbnail photo of a couple of Army captains lolling about in Saddam’s love nest. On the wall above their heads I could see a painting. I squinted at it a moment, then clicked through to get an enlarged view. Could that be…?

Ghu, Foo, and Roscoe, it was! I thought I recognized it! Unless some artist has done an ultra-shameless copy, that’s a Rowena Morrill painting.

I have some personal history with that piece of art. I once helped hang it, so to speak, on the wall at a convention art show. How odd to think of it winding up over the bed of Saddam Hussein and his mistress.

Addendum: Turns out the other painting they describe is also a Rowena. (Thank you, Kevin Andrew Murphy and James D. Macdonald.) But the one in the news photo looks to me like a knock-off—among other things, it’s missing Rowena’s signature—so perhaps the painting of the young lady with the wyvern is a copy as well.

Comments on Hey, looka there:
#1 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 02:25 AM:

Whoever knew that world leaders were a market for fantasy art?

#2 ::: Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 02:46 AM:

I find it strange that the depicted woman is arching toward the dragon, rather than folding her shoulders and inching away. But then I don't know from Art.

#3 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 03:25 AM:

Teresa,

I was going to point out this article to you, but I came here and you beat me to it.

However, the version I read on the SF chronicle site shows the other picture, which also looks like a Rowena. Certainly cover art.

Recognize this?

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object.cgi?object=/chronicle/pictures/2003/04/13/mn_loveshack.jpg&paper=news&file=international1439EDT0597.DTL&directory=/news/archive/2003/04/12&type=news

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 07:21 AM:

Does someone know where the Morrill original is right now?

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 07:23 AM:

And yeah, the other piece is a Rowena: http://www.grex.com/rowena/

#6 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 08:16 AM:

God, he bought Rowena paintings. OK, now I understand: we did have to make war on him. Weapons of Aesthetic Destruction.

Did that get hung in the closet, or just facing the wall?

#7 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 11:08 AM:

Having SH's agents in various convention artshows would explain, well, lots.

#8 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 12:02 PM:

Think of all the trouble that a successful Baghdad WorldCon bid might have averted....

#9 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 12:07 PM:

I'd be even more disturbed if Saddam were collecting, say, furry spoodge art, but I suspect these are the originals.

I'm also thinking this may be a lead on the theft of Don Maitz and Janny Wurtz's art from the World Fantasy Fed Ex truck a few years ago.

#10 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 12:18 PM:

The "other painting" is most assuredly a knock-off. As well as the missing signature, there is the question of different color values (which is not conclusive, given the vagaries of photography and electronic reproduction thereof) and most particulary the detailing of the struggling hero's flowing locks of hair. (The brickwork in the floor is different, also.)

So here we have it — justification of the war, which had hitherto been lacking. Saddam Hussein was encouraging copyright violations!!!1!

#11 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 12:50 PM:

Being that Logan, Utah, was my place of residence while living in the US, let me assure you that beneath the vanilla veneer of a Mormon stakehouse on every other corner, there was plenty o stuff going on. The love shop on Main (just a block up from the Tabernacle) did excellent business, and the personals were chock full of ads from married Mormons looking for something extra on the side. It also seemed like sexual exploitation of minors was on the high side, but that may have been the news coverage.

D

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 02:52 PM:

I think Alan is right; the second "painting," at any rate, is obviously a somewhat clumsy copy, not even a reproduction of Rowena's original.

Derryl Murphy may not be aware of Teresa's own ethnic background.

#13 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 04:24 PM:

A technical aside of possible import: When I clicked on the Rowena Morrill painting link I got a security pop-up offering to download Xupiter to my system. This would be BAD. Xupiter is a highly unpleasant piece of spyware that can trash the internet connectivity of whatever browser was running at the time of download. There's a fix, but you have to have the ability to download it to get it on your system -- bad news if you happen to only have access to one machine and one browser. (Not, I realize, as likely with Teresa's readers as some segments.) Before clicking that link, it would probably be a really good idea to go to www.lavasoftusa.com and download a free basic copy of their program, Ad-Aware, which does security checks for spyware.

Hal's e-mailed this to Teresa already, but it seems worthwhile to mention here as well.

Cheers,

Ulrika

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 05:35 PM:

Hal, Ulrika, thanks for the info. I had no idea; I have a Mac, and the pop-up's never popped up on my browser. Let me see if linking straight to the picture will get rid of it.

Jim Macdonald said that when he clicked on the link, the site tried to download some kind of .exe file to his hard disk, and gave him a popup advertising a poetry contest ("win $10,000!") and an internet casino.

Now that's tacky.

#15 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 06:06 PM:

Jim Macdonald said that when he clicked on the link, the site tried to download some kind of .exe file to his hard disk, and gave him a popup advertising a poetry contest ("win $10,000!") and an internet casino.

The difference between the two being?

Ulrika: TNH, as a now confirmed Unix User, doesn't need to worry about Windows Spyware anymore. She may have to worry about OS X spyware down the road, but, so far, not.

I didn't notice it either -- FreeBSD confuses it even more than Mac OS X.

The proliferation of spyware is Yet Another Reason that browsing the Internet with IE and Windows is a bad idea.

#16 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 06:48 PM:

Erik-

Thanks for the commercial. My point being that Teresa might care about what happens to her (admittedly Cro-Magnon) readers who haven't, for whatever reason, yet seen the light about Unix/Linux/The Holy Writ of Ghod. And, indeed, it seems she does. Playing your little games of gotcha over an attempt to be helpful doesn't make me more interested in switching OSes. But if you want to become the rich brown of Unix, keep it up.

--Ulrika

#17 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 07:43 PM:

Ulrika, I don't think you're giving Erik enough credit for being good-humored or playful in his remarks.

People who "play little games of gotcha" aren't generally notably forthcoming and generous with their technical expertise. Like 5,271,009 other fannish IT sorts, Erik can be gruff and dogmatic when he's right. He's also chronically as helpful as the day is long. Pray consider that you may be taking, to some degree, an unduly negative view.

#18 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 08:09 PM:

Well, I *was* being playful, but now, I'm just pissed. I'm fucking tired of windows lossage on the net. I see the crap every goddamn day. Hell, I, among others, have put of a webpage showing the daily crap I catch from Windows machines. Yesterday was a light day -- only four machines tried to compromise my webserver.

Meanwhile, I send off a direct link to the jpeg to TNH, so that the Windows Users of the world won't have Yet Another Webpage trying to attack them for daring to view the page. And this is the thanks I get? I'm not allowed to even have one Snarky Moment? And it's Ulrika O'Brien telling me I can't have a snarky moment?

Sheesh. Remind me to be less helpful next time.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 08:14 PM:

Erik, I hear your tone when you're talking about computers as "Hello, I know what I'm talking about, and I'm right." Since you do and you are, it doesn't bother me.

#20 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2003, 11:59 PM:

Bill Shunn had pointed me to Teresa's piece, but having a head cold and caring for a 6-year-old with a big fever and propensity to rise early, it had slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder. It's good stuff.

D

#21 ::: Hal O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 01:28 AM:

Erik, perhaps it's just my befuddled memory, but I seem to recall someone well known in both computer security and fannish circles saying, "Security is a process, not a product."

To imply that one's choice of OS by itself means that one will never experience certain problems seems, um... very product-oriented, to say the least. To my mind, one's choice of OS only determines one's range of security problems -- they're all, at the end of the day, equally porous in that sooner or later they all fail.

#22 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 01:41 AM:

Erik-

Have as many snarky moments as you like. My point was, and I speak from experience here, that there are some forms of advocacy that not only don't advance your position, they actively damage it. Being right is irrelevant to bad spin. Yet another Unix superiority dance on my head for the crime of pointing out a potential problem for Teresa's readers qualifies in my mind as "bad spin".

And sending TNH the direct link was a fine and useful thing to do. I guess I must have missed the place where that was explicitly stated so that I could admire you for it. Or the place where you admired me for passing on the information that there was a problem in the first place.

#23 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 01:43 AM:

Secuirty is, in fact, a process, not a product. I know this by long experience, which is why I still read my logs often, rather than expecting log summaries to tell me something's wrong. But when the first step of your process is "Install an O/S infamous for the inability to segregate user data from system data", then you have already lost. If your process starts with that, you're never, ever, going to be secure. When connecting to the wrong webpage results in a root comprimise, I don't care how fucking comprehensive your process is. You can hang all the deadbolts, and chains, and magnetic locks you want on your doors -- if the door frame is made from weak wood, the bad guy will merely kick the door, and get in. When the fix for this is "Please, at some point, download the stronger frame", then you'll get burned by everyone who hasn't done so -- like all the IIS worms that are hitting my network -- ALL OF WHICH HAVE BEEN PATCHED FOR OVER A FUCKING YEAR!

Note that same security professional/fan is advocating that software come under liability laws, so that maybe, just maybe, people will stop using such easily compromised systems, at the cost of court-imposed settlements and increased insurance costs.

And note that this very same security professiona/fan is on record considering switching to an OS that isn't as plauged with worms, trojans and the like.

So, you were saying?

#24 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 02:05 AM:

Patrick-

I think your basic point is that Erik Olson is a good and generous guy, and I'd agree, wholeheartedly. I think he's swell, and I admire him. However the claim that "People who 'play little games of gotcha' aren't generally notably forthcoming and generous with their technical expertise," strikes me as just plain silly on the face of it. I can think of a number of people of our mutual acquaintance who both are enormously forthcoming with help and expertise, and who also play little games of gotcha. Not usually simultaneously -- though we have a mutual friend who has raised doing both at once to a sort of signature art form. I think you're right that the generosity generally trumps the games of gotcha in weighing the balance of merits, though.

Ulrika

#25 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 04:14 AM:

I find it strange that the depicted woman is arching toward the dragon, rather than folding her shoulders and inching away. But then I don't know from Art.

The arched back makes her look sexually aroused. I rather suspect that's the idea.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 07:34 AM:

David, I think you're on to something there.

#27 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 12:07 PM:

Erik: Why would FreeBSD confuse the spyware server more than OS X? I thought that OS X was a BSD clone in fancy dress.

#28 ::: Martial ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 01:43 PM:

The Rowena with the woman arching toward the dragon was the cover of an unlamented Andrew Offut novel, King Dragon. I recall something about lost explorers needing to travel through murky and reptile infested swamps, but I haven't owned the book for several years and wouldn't have reread it even if I had. Not that anyone was desperate for that piece of info.

#29 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 02:05 PM:

The image of the Saddamite secret agents prowling art shows for sci-fi porn is almost weird enough to be true.

And, yeah, sex sells. Mostly to people who don't know the slightly squelchy reality, I reckon. Though the dragon pic would be better if the skimpy lycra bikini were replaced by something a little less 20th Century.

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 03:01 PM:

The Rowena with the woman arching toward the dragon was the cover of an unlamented Andrew Offut novel, King Dragon.

Glrmmmphhh!!

The image of the Saddamite secret agents prowling art shows for sci-fi porn is almost weird enough to be true.

"Saddamite," love it...during GW I, I referred to "the Saddamization of Kuwait," to the great amusement of an Iranian co-worker.

#31 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 04:28 PM:

What I suspect is more the case is that Iraq, having a rather long tradition in the arts and lots of portrait painters, had a copy of "The Art of Rowena" make it's way into the studios, where one of the art students copied a piece or two rather than do yet-another-portrait-of-Saddam.

I'm thinking that the portrait painters of Badhdad are alternately overjoyed and horrified. On the plus side, no more pictures of Saddam. Ever. On the minus? With no decadent nobles or dictators left around, not much call for portraiture.

Hmm... You know, come to think of it, Baghdad in the coming months might be fertile seas for publishers to troll for cover artists.

#32 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 05:14 PM:

Interesting thoughts, Kevin.

Another possibility:

The sinister criminal syndicates that run Craft Faires may start smuggling in Iraqi political portraitists to staff their caricature painting booths.

#33 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 10:56 PM:

Erik: Why would FreeBSD confuse the spyware server more than OS X? I thought that OS X was a BSD clone in fancy dress.

It is -- well, it's NextStep in fancy dress, but NextStep was BSD 4.4 in fancy dress, so I guess that means OS X is BSD 4.4 in drag.

But OS X ships with Internet Explorer as the default browser, and the spyware likes IE. (It fails, of course, since IE Mac doesn't do Active X like IE Win does.) FreeBSD ships with, well, no default browser -- you have to select one, depending on whether you install X or not, and what window manager you use, if you do install X. I use Mozilla, Links, and Lynx, depending, using KDE 3.1 as the Window Manager/Toolkit. It's not bad -- it's not Mac, but it's not bad. It's no worse than Windows, and being able to redefine keystroke shortcuts is nice.

I still need to swap CTRL and CAPSLOCK -- the only problem with the Model M keyboard is that CTRL is in the wrong place.

#34 ::: Neil Gaiman ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 11:12 PM:

On some deep level, possibly gut, possibly even cellular, I've always been certain that the Great Whore of Babylon would have Boris Vallejo paintings on her walls.

That these were Rowena paintings makes me suspect that this was only the residence of a lesser whore of Babylon.

#35 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 02:17 AM:

Putting an end to the madness....

The direct link to the dragon image may bypass the spyware but gets a Russian terms of service violation message (no direct linking to images allowed). For the eddification of Electrolite readers, I've mirrored on my site. No spyware or popups, I promise.

#36 ::: David Frazer ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 06:15 AM:

The Guardian scrutinises the "iconography of psychotic porn" in Saddam's palaces:

They are from the universal cultural gutter - pure dreck. They look spraypainted, in a rampant hyperbolic style where all men are muscular, all women have giant breasts and missiles are metal cocks. These are art for the barely literate, or the barely sentient, dredged from some red-lit back alley of the brain.

#37 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 06:55 AM:

And, remember, the Guardian is talking about Rowena Morrill.

Can't we all admit that Jones is right? Most of "fantasy art" is pure dreck?

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 07:33 AM:

Jon - Sturgeon's Law applies.

Unfortunately, it also seems to apply to the American people - at least those who answer polls. (I suppose we should be glad that Dubya's approval rating isn't 90%, eh?)

#40 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 12:06 PM:

Locus online has more links: http://www.locusmag.com/2003/News/News04Log3.html

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 02:41 PM:

I have to say that I've not noticed any of the horrors about the Rowena site, such as spyware, but I am using a combination of Opera and Zone Alarm on Windows.

Not Internet Explorer

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 03:02 PM:

It's hard to tell from the pictures on-net, but I'm fairly confident that the picture with the struggling hero in the foreground is a fake. The AP photo is good enough to show differences in several details, such as the hero's hair and the cone of light shining on the demon, which are constant through the brightness/contract changes which match the colours to those on the Rowena website.

The dragon picture just isn't shown clearly enough to be sure.

#44 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 03:20 PM:

Nicely turned, Neil; lesser whore, lesser beast, suburb of Babylon. AYKB, St. Michael the Archangel prefers Frazetta knock-offs.

Thank you, Alan. When I tested that Russian link, all it did was load a little slowly. I've replaced it with your mirrored version, which makes it the fourth URL I've used for that link.

David Frazer, I'm sorry, but that Jonathan Jones column in the Guardian sets my back up. It's not just because I suspect that Our Beloved Genre is part of that "universal cultural gutter of pure dreck ... art for the barely literate, or the barely sentient, dredged from some red-lit back alley of the brain" he's going on about. Equating missiles with penises is hardly a new observation; and besides, missiles shaped like other body parts would have undesirable flight characteristics.

But my real problem with him is that I don't get the sense that he's actually looking at the paintings. I tracked down a photo of the missiles painting from Saddam's palace. It's a fairly standard image--for all I know, it's copied from some other painting in which the rockets bore different insignia--and what it's about is power, not sex.

I'll grant that the young lady in Rowena's painting -- the one who's about to have an encounter with a scary-looking genre-fantasy wyvern -- is straight out of the softcore porn universe, from her well-pedicured bare feet and jello-mold breasts to her oddly rapturous expression. (Young ladies in softcore porn always look unaccountably rapturous.) It's a disturbing combination, and remains one no matter how hard I try to convince myself that the young lady and the wyvern are going to have a lovely time and be the best of friends thereafter. I wouldn't hang it on my bedroom wall. But if Jones thinks that painting qualifies as "iconography of psychotic porn", he hasn't seen enough of the real thing.

And what am I to make of him saying the pictures "look spraypainted"? They don't. People may like or dislike Rowena's content, but I've never heard anyone fault her technique. She paints detailed, fully modeled forms with the smoothest surfaces this side of Bouguereau. So I can't think what he means by spraypainting, unless perhaps it's that the paintings have that dead-smooth airbrushed look, as opposed to painterly, visible brushstrokes on canvas. That is: it looks like commercial art.

#45 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 03:46 PM:

This is my favorite bit of the NY Daily News article:

Rowena said she still can't believe something in her artwork might have touched a chord in someone as evil as Saddam.

"That would be a horrifying thought," she said. "He in his twisted mind must have read something into it."

I'm sure that Rowena is a perfectly nice person, but does she paint with blinders on, or something?

#46 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 04:38 PM:

People have their hobby-horses, and if the Temperance League were still in fashion, there'd be some people pointing to Saddam's notably well stocked liquor cabinet as proof of his depravity.

There was also shag carpet, beanbag chairs, overly nice china and coffee tables in that place, in addition to the cheesy fantasy art. Who here hasn't stepped into that living room at one time in their lives? Heck, who here doesn't have that living room, or at least elements of it, in their house?

I think the trouble people are having is that to look at the love shack, you don't expect to see Saddam and his mistress living there so much as you expect to see a bunch of geeks around the table playing D&D and eating Cheetos.

The face of evil is not supposed to look like the basement rec room.

#47 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 05:34 PM:

Lydy, artists are like writers. They make their art the best they can, according to their own gifts and vision.

Kevin, that is a fine comprehensive illuminating thought, and I thank you for posting it.

I can't see geeks there playing boardgames and eating Cheetos. I think I could manage it if only the dishes weren't the Kuwaiti royal family's best china service, undoubtedly appropriated during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. It's not that I think gamers have some inherent moral perfection. It's just that there's something about being the sort of person who would pinch the Kuwaitis' best china, and being the sort of person who'd invite their friends over for a night's gaming, that my imagination can't shoehorn into the same personality. I'm genuinely surprised to find this is so, and can't explain it.

Otherwise, yes. All perfectly imaginable. If it were a hotel suite, you could throw a swell room party.

#48 ::: David Frazer ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 05:35 PM:

Teresa, I thought about adding a note that lovers of fantasy art might be offended by the article, but I decided that it would be presumptuous. Anyway, the article seems to be based on the assumption that the paintings were created for Saddam and reflect his worldview, rather than simply being copies of cover art from fantasy novels. As you say, Jonathan Jones can't been exposed to much in the way of psychotic porn.

(I'll look to see if there are any letters responding to the article. There must be Guardian readers out there who know a wyvern when they see one...)

#49 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 06:22 PM:

Well, when I see a voluptuous maiden arching her back and otherwise showing signs of arousal while looking at a dragon, I involuntarily hear those Wagnerian strains:

"Scwoo the dwagon, scwoo the dwagon..."

#50 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 07:02 PM:

Teresa,

I can easily imagine the china because, well, while I haven't used the Kuwaiti royal family's china for my D&D games, we have on occasion used my grandmother's equally nice gilded demitasse cups which have various noble crests on them or old German crystal because everything else was in the dishwasher.

The depravity also doesn't need to be firsthand. Saddam, after all, still has a teenage son, and the love shack would have been a good place for him to hang out. "Oh, yeah, that's my dad's stuff.... Pass the Cheetos."

#51 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 08:16 PM:

Kudos to the Daily News for that wonderful coinage: "Shag-dad"!

I'm still convinced that the Marines made a wrong turn somewhere, and in reality, we've occupied Las Vegas.

#52 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 09:27 PM:

Teresa said: But if Jones thinks that painting qualifies as "iconography of psychotic porn", he hasn't seen enough of the real thing.

Um. Um. Okay, where does one find psychotic porn as opposed to the regular stuff. Inquiring minds want to know. *Dang I wish you were gonna be a Minicon, this'd make a fascinating bar discussion.)
MKK

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 10:44 PM:

I thought "Shag-dad" was high tabloid art.

Mary Kay, you wouldn't like it, and it sticks to your brain.

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2003, 10:14 AM:

Teresa wrote: It's not that I think gamers have some inherent moral perfection.

Um, you mean that's not the point, right? You're not, I assume, denying the inherent moral perfection of gamers?

Nahhhh. :-)

--Christopher, who ran a GURPS campaign (Geopolitical Celtic Fantasy) for nearly 20 years, and is thinking of starting up a Vampires campaign.

#55 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2003, 12:52 PM:

Bill, the resemblance to Las Vegas is no accident. That's what power and wealth expressed as luxury in the contemporary manner looks like.

The interesting thing about Las Vegas is that this is where ordinary people people encounter such luxury. One of the key products that a Las Vegas casino resort sells is the experience of being wealthy. The slot machines and gaming tables aren't the draw; the draw is the valet parking, the ingratiating casino host, the king-sized bed, the high-end dining, complimentary tickets to shows, and so forth.

Las Vegas is about feeling like a big shot. Is it any wonder that real-life big shots have a lot of Las Vegas in their lives?

#56 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2003, 04:39 PM:

Before this began, I said invading Baghdad was the equivalent, for the neighborhood, of invading Vegas. Once Baghdad gets fixed up, it will be even more like Vegas.

Saddam's palaces? Too expensive to tear down. Too valuable to not fix up. Too ostentatious to have many public functions left aside from museums and universities. High class hotels, however? Give it a bit of time and Baghdad is going to look like Vegas crossed with Disneyland. Which may not be an altogether bad thing, given all the rich Saudis and Kuwaitis who might want to take the kids for a budget holiday to Baghdad.

Of course not being able to visit the Iraqi National Museum is going to suck.

#57 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2003, 05:33 PM:

Fret not, Kevin.

Disney Imagineers have won a no-bid contract for a new, improved, Iraqi National Museum that presents visitors with a Family-Friendly version of ancient history.

Dusty, fragile clay tablets will be replaced with rubber look-alikes with friendly anthropomorphic faces that come to life when a visitor approaches. The language* it speaks is determined by a badge worn by each visitor.


* Initially, Arabic, English, Spanish, Japanese and Freedom: An African dialect of the Language Formally Called French.

#58 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2003, 06:10 PM:

Oh, that's good. I'm looking forward to that.

I'm looking forward even more to the "Saddam's Haunted Palace" ride, and the new equivalent for "The Pirates of the Caribean" called "The Sacking of Baghdad."

From what I understand, it'll be based on the 13th century events where Genghis Khan looted the city and burned the library till the Tigris ran black with the ink of books. Unfortunately, period documents about these events have burned with the most recent incarnation of the Iraqi National Library, but words from current events will be used to best approximate the dialogue of the period.

Children are sure to be delighted at the diorama of Genghis Khan surveying the golden horde, seeing their latest booty and exclaiming, "My goodness, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?"

#59 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2003, 01:38 AM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote,

" Saddam's palaces? Too expensive to tear down. Too valuable to not fix up. Too ostentatious to have many public functions left aside from museums and universities. High class hotels, however? Give it a bit of time and Baghdad is going to look like Vegas crossed with Disneyland. Which may not be an altogether bad thing, given all the rich Saudis and Kuwaitis who might want to take the kids for a budget holiday to Baghdad."

Just remember where the framework setting of _The Thousand Nights and One Night" was! Actually -composed- in Fustat (Old Cairo), the wily storytellers and redactors set the epic -elsewhere-, as in Exotic Licentious Baghdad (as opposed to mundane local licentious Fustat).

So, Disneyfication of Baghdad, would merely be nth generation "reworked wine in reworked bottle." Hmmm, I wonder if anybody ever put up "Ali Baba slept here!" signs or ads in Baghdad?!


And then there's my twisted thought for the day.... the thought chain involved goes something like,

"Rowena would like her painting back. But, at least one of them looks like a forgery, not an original. She sold originals to someone in Japan, and in Saddam's love nest, appear paintings which closely resemble Rowena originals -- but at least one of them looks like it's an off-color copy having a bad hair day.

The next piece of thought chain goes, "Perhaps the purchaser kept the originals and had copies painted and sold those to Saddam?" And at that juncture, in kicked, "But, but, but, the purchaser was in Japan, and most of the Japan art exported doesn't look that Rowena work, and Saddam's Love Nest artworks don't -look- like Manga or anime!" And that of course cause me to momentarily flash on manga/anime ripoffs of the two Rowena paintings.... eeek!

#60 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2003, 12:31 PM:

>I involuntarily hear those Wagnerian strains:
>"Scwoo the dwagon, scwoo the dwagon..."

I think of Cynthia McQuillin's "Gilda and the Dragon":

Sir Loren undertook a quest,
The maiden Gilda seeking
He found her in a dragon's bed,
From 'neath the covers peeking. ...

"Why smilest thou, Lord Dragon, Sir?"
Asked our hero in armor laden,
"Why, you'd smile too," the Worm replied,
"If you'd just eaten a maiden."

#61 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2003, 02:06 AM:

"The face of evil is not supposed to look like the basement rec room."

Hannah Arendt had no idea...

By the way, the BBC has a small gallery with highlights of the collection. Some non-Rowena pix, it looks like.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/photo_gallery/2956349.stm

#62 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2003, 07:17 PM:

John O'Farrell writes on The Thieves of Baghdad...

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