Archive for the ‘Admin’ Category

What’s a Mysterious Flame? (or, where I got the name)

I’ve been “running” this site (despite several long lapses in activity) for three-and-a-half years now, and I have never mentioned where I got the name for the site.

It comes from a book I read back in the fall of 2007 or so, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, by Umberto Eco. I was brainstorming all sorts of names for a “site for artists” and everything I thought of was taken or didn’t really work.

Then I remembered La Misteriosa Fiamma della Regina LoanaThe Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.

When I first encountered the book at Borders, the grunged Gotham Bold and Trade Gothic Bold No 20 type caught my eye, as did the vintage comic book and advertising art. Being cheap (and poor) I reserved a copy at the library. I was immediately drawn into the story as soon as I began reading it.

A 59-year old Milanese bookseller nicknamed Yambo has lost his memory after a stroke. He can’t even remember his own name, though he is able to write Giambattista with a flourish. But he can remember absolutely everything he’s read. In order to try to remember his life before his stroke, he goes to the house where he grew up in the 1940s, and uncovers a lot of documents from his childhood.

Memories come to him in little sparks, mysterious flames, but nothing truly emerges until a dramatic turn. It’s very dense and layered, but not so much that it is difficult to read. It’s a lot of fun, and the colorful illustrations of 1930s and 40s Italian and American comic books, advertisements, and sheet music sprinkled throughout make for a unique literary experience. The three parts are constructed in a unique way that I think establish this book as both a love letter to both highbrow and lowbrow literature as well as making it a piece of great literature in its own right.

About the redesign

I mentioned earlier that I had been thinking of redesigning the site and moving it from Drupal, which was overkill. Initially I imagined it would be something of a community with a forum and everything, but the forum never really got off the ground. I have to admit, I probably went about it the wrong way, since I didn’t “seed” it with interesting, specific topics. I didn’t really publicize it, either. So I decided to do without it.

Design-wise, the colors have remained the same, but the grid system has changed a bit. The grid was largely inspired by Khoi Vinh’s and based on the 960 Grid System, so it’s very modular. As a designer I’ve finally come to love the grid and gain a better understanding of it’s potential and how to use it. I’ve also come to a greater appreciation for Helvetica, which is used pretty much everywhere except for the body type.


Just so you know, the Feedburner feed is located at I actually had to resubscribe to it in Google Reader (it looks like I had been subscribed to the default RSS feed generated by Drupal) so you may have to adjust accordingly.

Hello again

So MF has had a new look for about 2 weeks now, and it’s finally got all it’s content back. (Hopefully I didn’t clog anyone’s RSS reader with a ton of “new” posts.) As I mentioned in my last post, I resuscitated the old posts from trusty old Google Reader, reformatted the text and images and tweaked a few grammatical points here and there, and viola! Mysterious Flame is back on the road. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten the comments back on the site. I’m honestly not sure how to do that since I’m not a power WordPress user (yet), but frankly, there weren’t that many to begin with, so I’m OK with it. If you want to go back and re-comment, by all means, do!

Hopefully I was able to retain the old Permalinks (I checked, but there are probably a few that I missed.) So if you see anything that looks out of place, a broken link, or something that’s missing, please let me know via the contact form.

Hello to newcomers

I want to welcome newcomers to feel free to poke around the site and explore. Have a look at the About page to see what this site is about, (“sharing ideas for maintaining creative momentum and finding ways to become ‘unstuck’”). Take a look at the Art & GTD Series, which is one of the main intellectual problems that got me to start the whole site to begin with. I’m also pretty proud of the posts I’ve done on Stuckness, Gumption, and Motivation.

Welcome back to old friends

Old friends, I hope you’ll enjoy the new site and find it more usable than it was before. I’m sure some things will be tweaked here and there, but I think this design will prove to be more versatile in the long run. For at least a year anyway. ;-)

Upcoming content

While it has indeed been a while since I’ve written anything new, I’ve got a few things in the pipeline, as well as some cool/useful tools I hope you’ll like.

Anyway, it’s good to be back, and I look forward to getting this ball rolling again. See you around!

Mysterious Flame is back (with a brand-new look!)

So you might’ve noticed: Mysterious Flame has been down for a while. I’m a man, I can admit it: it’s my fault.

See, it all happened when I tried to take advantage of a special Executive Shared Plan package at A2 Hosting to combine different web hosting accounts into the same account (this site and my fine art portfolio, and I failed to back up the SQL database(s) correctly.

And MF went kablooey.

But there’s an upside to this! I’ve had some ideas knocking around for redesigning/restructuring the site as well as moving it from Drupal to WordPress. (Drupal was overkill for what I wanted out of the site, and the forum idea never took off.) So this was an unexpected (read: unplanned) opportunity to take a stab at it and try to get my webdev skills sharpened.

So take a look around, and please be patient as I hammer out some kinks. I’m still working on recovering all the old content (thanks to trusty ol’ Google Reader, I was able to find pretty much all my old content, and revise it here and there.) So, kids, there are two lessons to be learned here. Lesson #1: Always backup properly, especially your databases. If you don’t know how, find out! Lesson #2: When things go wrong, there’s an opportunity to create something newer and potentially better.