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Jennifer Grassman

Recording Artist + Author + Mommy

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February 2014

BREAKING: Mysterious Code Discovered in Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa Painting

The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci

Scholarly art researchers at The Louvre museum in Paris have come upon a startling discovery. While studying Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work, the Mona Lisa, they noticed what appears to be a complex code or diagram. In the texture of the painting’s surface are recurring imprints that could not have been created using a paintbrush, knife, or other art tool known to be utilized by artists during the early 1500’s. In fact, researchers are stumped as to what could have possibly made the marks.

“The imprints seem to form an intricate pattern, or code, across the face of the entire work,” stated Dr. Richard Fuller, who is heading up research on a wide variety of historic paintings at The Louvre. “The overarching pattern created by these mysterious imprints is in fact so complex that it is simply not possible that any one individual on their own could have come up with its design. It’s so intricate that it’s the sort of thing that could only have happened by accident or chance.”

Dr. Fuller’s findings have sparked outrage in the art community, particularly among conservative art traditionalists who claim that Dr. Fuller is attempting to alter history and infringe upon the intellectual property rights of an art master who isn’t around to refute the researcher’s claims.

“It’s just ludicrous,” said Ashley Hokanson, Director of the National Association for the Preservation of Art History (NAPAH). “These supposed scholars have been researching the Mona Lisa for a couple of years, and in that time, they consider themselves qualified to call into question a genius’s lifetime of achievement?”

Nevertheless, Dr. Fuller’s team is adamant that their research is solid and their findings conclusive. The Louvre museum’s board of directors refused reporter’s questions, declining to comment on the growing conflict.

“We have concluded, based on this new evidence,” said Dr. Fuller, “that Leonardo da Vinci never existed. I know it sounds crazy, but there’s simply no way any one artist, scientist, philosopher, or mathematician could have conceived of such a design, let alone created it in a way that – based on our thorough study and tests – is inexplicable. Da Vinci must, therefor, be a mere figment of legend, like King Arthur or Adam and Eve. Possibly, an artist once lived by that name, but his abilities have been embellished over time. The Mona Lisa is very likely the result of a bunch of oil paints combining on a canvas, probably after someone knocked over a painter’s palette or upset a tub of paint bottles. The piece, no doubt, is amazing, but let’s be serious: There’s simply no singular intelligence that could have conceived of – let alone created – something like that!”

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Before you label Dr. Fuller a nut-job, and this article a complete hoax, consider this: Many people have claimed that evolution – an intricate pattern or process found in nature – is proof that God doesn’t exist. If God is the artist, and the universe is his masterpiece, shouldn’t the discovery of an intricate pattern such as evolution logically prove to us that God does, in fact, exist? Just as Leonardo da Vinci’s incredible collection of creative achievements proves he indeed existed, so does the world around us prove that there is an intelligence out there far greater and more creative than our own.

7 Things to Never EVER Say to a Pregnant Woman

Seven things to never, EVER say to a pregnant woman:

“Sleep now! You won’t be able to once the baby is here!”

OK, you try sleeping with a watermelon sized tummy, an aching body, and a baby kicking you in the bladder, ribs, and lungs every night between midnight and 5AM. It doesn’t happen! In fact, it’s much easier to sleep after the baby is born, because you can nurse them and nap on their schedule. That third trimester is insomnia hell.

“Are you sure you’re not having twins?”

With modern ultrasounds and technology, doctors can say with absolutely certainty how many babies are in there. Suggesting that my doctor is inept and/or that I look larger than I should is neither comforting nor flattering.

“The baby will come when they’re good and ready.”

This is just dumb. The baby has no idea what the heck is going on. Have you ever seen a just-born newborn? They blink and squint and look extremely disgruntled, because they had no idea there was such a big, bright, loud, cold world outside, let alone that they were suddenly going to be ejected into it all tiny and naked and wet. Being born is no picnic y’all, and that baby is NOT calling the shots.

“TMI!”

When I confide about how much my hips hurt or how frustrating it is that coffee smells like hotdogs, you need to sympathize. Likewise, when I post photos of my pregnant figure on Facebook, don’t poke fun or chastise me like some Victorian prude who thinks pregnant women should be hidden away. People like you are what the block function is for!

“Let me tell you my pregnancy / delivery horror story …”

This is something very stupid and mean that other moms like to say to first timers. Now moms, I know what you went through was traumatic, and makes shockingly sensational conversation fodder, but when a woman – especially one who has never been pregnant before – is trying to mentally and emotionally prepare herself for having her hips dislocated and her body rent asunder, she just doesn’t need to hear about all the things that could go terribly wrong.

“Don’t eat [fill in the blank]”

Seriously? My doctor gave me a list – a LIST – of all the things I’m not supposed to eat or drink. Mostly it’s my favorites, like sushi, wine, and fancy cheese. Anyone who even tries to add whole milk, tomatoes, deli meat, rice, salt, gluten, soda, or soy to that list, is going to DIE. I have enough to worry about without you warning me that Subway will kill my baby, or that bean sprouts could have cat poop on them.

“You’re going to be a Mommy!” (future tense)

I AM a Mommy. I may not change diapers, rock them to sleep, or wake up to feed them at 3AM yet, but I take extra good care of my body (their incubator), wake up 10 times a night to pee, waddle awkwardly when I walk, crave things I’m not supposed to eat, ache almost constantly, and am moodier than a hungry bear. You better bet that when Mother’s Day rolls around, I expect my flowers and card just like all the other Mommies. Don’t test me.

Super Bowl Halftime & National Anthem: Bruno Mars Lip-Syncing? Renée Fleming Pitchy?

Bruno Mars, Houston, 2010

After meandering on Facebook this morning I came across a surprising number of people accusing Bruno Mars of lip-syncing during the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and Renée Fleming of being “pitchy” as she sung The Star Spangled Banner. My favorite comment was from someone who said, “I’ll always prefer the traditional R&B version of the National Anthem.”

Bruno Mars Lip-Synching Allegations:

As a vocalist myself – and after watching Bruno Mars’ performance a few times on YouTube – if Mars is lip-syncing, that’s the best darn lip-syncing performance anyone has ever done! In fact, I sincerely doubt it could possibly be lip syncing. Some singers really are just THAT good without having to pull studio tricks on the audience.

Don’t get me wrong, the band may have used some backing tracks to add orchestral oomph or whatnot, but who doesn’t these days? An artist of Mars’ versatility (playing drums, piano, singing, dancing, etc.) demands respect from everyone, even those who aren’t fans of his genre.

I’d also like to point out that lip-syncing – while it may seem like cheating to some – may be a necessity in a giant acoustically inept venue where you’re expected to dance around like a maniac.

I remember a few years back I was asked to sing The National Anthem at Lone Star Stadium in Conroe for a political event. As I began singing – to my utter horror – I realized the crowd was singing with me and they were singing lyrics about three whole seconds behind me. They were hearing a delayed version of me, and I was hearing a delayed version of them. In addition, I could hear my own voice echoing back to me about 5 seconds late. It was incredibly confusing! Looking back, a lip-syncing track – at least one only I could hear through an ear piece and sing along with – would have been AWESOME! But alas, we didn’t have that kind of tech.

Renee Fleming, 2009

For Renée Fleming & Opera Naysayers:

As for Renée Fleming’s so-called “pitchy” opera performance of The National Anthem, here’s what I saw some folks saying:

I hope they never book another opera singer for the Super Bowl.”

I prefer the traditional R&B style for the song.”

Firstly, let’s have a little history lesson.

The Star Spangled Banner was written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, who witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy in Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. R&B is a musical genre that originated in the 1940’s. So, unless Mr. Key time-traveled hundreds of years into the future and wrote The National Anthem with artists like Whitney Houston or Beyoncé in mind, R&B and contemporary pop are definitely not the “traditional” ways to sing the song. Actually, some kind of casual folk vocal styling is more likely what the poet envisioned. After all, the melody was taken from a popular British drinking song composed by John Stafford Smith for the entertainment of a men’s social club. Yep. It’s a drinking song.

Secondly, Renée Fleming’s performance was definitely not “pitchy.” I think the word said dissenter may have been searching for was, “vibrato,” but I can’t be certain.

Again, let’s look at history. Opera originated in Italy in the late 1500’s. No doubt the techniques that were combined to develop opera were around even before then. Upon the foundation of opera, all modern singers (and yes, even rappers) depend. Whether they’re incorporating operatic breathing techniques, tricks to hit high notes with soaring accuracy, posture stances to improve projection and breathing, or intonation techniques to maximize power and beauty, they’re referencing and utilizing aspects of the extraordinary science that is the art of opera. The reason that the greatest rappers can squeeze all those rhythmic words into a single breath is because they’re breathing (albeit possibly unintentionally) like Andrea Bocelli.

In a Nut Shell:

Saying you hate opera but love R&B, pop, rock – or really just about any vocally-driven genre – is kind of like saying you love CiCi’s pizza but hate Italian food.

Yes, it’s possible, but it’s also ironic.

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