Obama Inspires Artists to Bring the Brushes Out…Online

obama_painting

via NY Times

Mimi Torchia Boothby’s job as a technician puts her outside a wind tunnel every weekday at the Boeing plant south of Seattle, but in her free time two years ago she took up watercolors. Among her favorite subjects are cats, idyllic scenes of Italy — and, of course, Barack Obama, whose contemplative, sun-splashed portrait she completed a few weeks after his election as president.

She was so happy with it she started offering fine prints of it on the Web, her first proud professional act as an artist, and has since sold more than two dozen at $40 apiece. “Talk about viral,” Ms. Boothby, 57, said. “Most of the people who bought them were people I didn’t even know.”

Perhaps not since John F. Kennedy, whose dusty portraits can still be seen in kitchens and barbershops and alongside the antique beer cans at bars like Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta, has a presidency so fanned the flames of painterly ardor among hobbyist and professional artists.

Mr. Obama’s campaign was well known for inspiring art, including Shepard Fairey’s ubiquitous “Hope” poster, a version of which is now in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Months after the election, with the glow of the administration’s first 100 days dimming, it might have been expected that enthusiasm for Obama art would be dimming, too.

Yet the still-ample offerings of original paintings of the president and the first family on eBay and at places like the annual Affordable Art Fair in New York — along with a crop of presidential-art-obsessed Internet sites including obamaartreport.com, artofobama.com and, inevitably, badpaintingsofbarackobama.com — are indications that it might just be a growth industry.

The phenomenon has been a boon to the near-anonymous painting factories crowded together in the suburbs of Shenzhen, China, famous for cranking out copies of masterpieces, along with landscapes and semitasteful nudes. Another one, seemingly based in Germany, offers stately Obamas amid air-brushy likenesses of Tupac Shakur, Bruce Lee and Al Pacino (in his “Scarface” role), advertised as “real hand-embellished” paintings on canvas. Continue reading

First Look at Google Wave

via AP

SAN FRANCISCO — Google Inc. is hatching a new species of e-mail and instant messaging, but the Internet search leader first wants the hybrid service to evolve even more with the help of independent computer programmers.

The free tool, called “Google Wave,” runs in a Web browser and combines elements of e-mail, instant messaging, wikis and photo sharing in an effort to make online communication more dynamic. Google hopes Wave simplifies the way people collaborate on projects or exchange opinions about specific topics.

Google offered the first glimpse of its latest offering Thursday during the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s annual conference for software developers who build programs on top of its services. The rest of the Web-surfing public won’t be able to hop on Google Wave until later in the year. (Go to for a preview.) http://wave.google.com

By the time Wave rolls out for everyone, Google hopes independent programmers will have found new ways to use the service.

Among other things, Google is counting on outsiders to figure out how to weave Wave into the popular Internet communications service Twitter, social networks like Facebook and existing Web-based e-mail services, said Lars Rasmussen, a Google engineering manager. Continue reading

[video] Young Conversatives Record “Young Con Anthem”

via HuffPost

“The Young Cons” are apparently some conservatives from Dartmouth College who think a good way to spread their beliefs is through rapping, specifically with their “Young Con Anthem.”

Lest you think this is a parody, I direct you to their website, where they lay out their goals in a lengthy mission statement hailing “Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., and arguably Jesus [as] the flag-bearers of the true conservative movement.”

Brazen Paris jewel thief takes $8m haul

jewel_heist

via BBC

Jewellery worth more than 6m euros (£5m, $8m) has been stolen from an exclusive Paris store in broad daylight by a lone gunman, police sources say.

Dressed in a suit and fedora, the man entered Chopard on Place Vendome and reportedly made staff hand over 15 pieces of jewellery at gunpoint.

The mid-afternoon hold-up lasted two minutes, after which the robber, said to be in his 50s, calmly walked out.

Chopard jewellery is worn by stars at the Oscars and Cannes film festival.

Place Vendome is an elegant old square known for its luxury hotels, and is also home to numerous jewellery stores as well as the French justice ministry.

In December, armed robbers stole jewels worth at least 80m euros ($102m) from a store near the French capital’s famous Champs-Elysees avenue.

As many as four robbers, two disguised as women, raided the Harry Winston’s store and stole nearly all its valuables.

‘Like any other customer’

The Vendome robber struck just before 1500 (1300 GMT) on Saturday, at a time when, in good weather, the square is usually full of strollers.

The Cannes Golden Palm (image from 1998 festival)

The Cannes Golden Palm award is designed by Chopard

“According to the first set of information we received, it was a man in his 50s, dressed in a chic costume and wearing a Borsalino [fedora] hat,” Olivier Lebon, a police union representative, told Reuters news agency. Continue reading

Exclusive: Atlanta Braves Custom New Era Fitted

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