Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shades of grey

charcoal animation from Alesh macak on Vimeo.

Kind of weird, yes. It would be pretty hard to tease a plot out of it. Of course most dreams are like that too.

The description on Vimeo says it was all done on one piece of paper. Sure used the hell out of that scrap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A midsummer oops

Sunglasses.  Unless you wear a really luxe pair I think you expect to lose or break them at some point.  So if I misplaced a pair of shades on the bus I'd probably just write it off.  Same thing with a hat, probably.  Hats are replaceable.

This morning, though, I left my backpack on a bus.  It wasn't until the bus was gone and I was grabbing coffee that I realized that.  The bag has an address book in it.  Also toothbrush and toothpaste, because a lot of days I do dental hygiene at work rathter than at home (not counting brushing my teeth at night.)  The real deciding factor was that my partials were in there.  They'd be an expensive pain in the ass to replace.  So I waited for the bus to come up the other way so I could grab my stuff again.

All of which is a bit embarrassing, but we're getting to the part of the year where I can blame the heat/humidity for breaking my concentration.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Random Ten in progress

Yes, I finally got down to Random Ten business.

Right now am working on another story.  It's at the point where it's all down, basically, but a sprawling mess.  So begins the work of hewing it down.  Which is fun, once you get into it.  Was sort of interrupted today, but expect to get back into it tomorrow.

1. Amy Winehouse - (There Is) No Greater Love
2. Arcade Fire - Supersymmetry
3. Brian Eno - Spirits Drifting
4. Fats Domino - The Fat Man
5. Dirty Projectors - The Bride
6. The Band - Tears of Rage
7. Fairport Convention - Fotheringay
8. The Velvet Underground - The Gift
9. R.E.M. - Can't Get There from Here
10. Diana Krall - You're My Thrill

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

La dame

Take a look at this for a moment.

This is a painting by Leonora Carrington, called La Dame Ovale ("the oval lady")

Carrington came from a somewhat upper crust English background, which she threw away when she ran away with Max Ernst. She's considered one of the surrealists. Over her long artistic career - started in the 1930s and continued until her dedath in the 2ooos - she went back and forth on that.

This painting could certainly be called surreal, being filled with inversions of the natural order. The chained dog has five human breasts. (An odd number, even!) Birds and bats nest underground. Many of the trees have bizarre shapes: fox heads, chess pieces.

What I noticed after looking at it for a few minutes was that nothing could quite be taken at face value. Most of the trees are, when you take the nature of painting into account, natural. So are most of the clouds. But you're forced to keep examining them because of their proximity to the other things. Meaning that art can show you not just new things, but train you in new ways to look.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The 4th

Which brings us to the impossible unity of the Ramones. They all had the same last name. They all wore the same outfit and haircut. All the songs started with “1 2 3 4.” The monolithic, unified roar. And, most importantly, all the songs seem to come from a musical universe that they were the sole inhabitants of. Although their eagle logo and leather-clad image invited dopey imitation in the way all of rock music’s orthodox rebellion does, the Ramones’ original iconography not only illustrated they were tough, but that they were one. For an earlier music generation, the Beatles’ idea of the band as a gang, jumping over hilltops together, was part of their initial appeal. The Ramones were a gang as a band. A few years before his passing, Dee Dee Ramone complained about when he was starting with the band being forced to get a “Ramone” haircut. Having that small part of their image dismantled that way broke down more of the image of the band for me than I anticipated.

It is preposterous to call the Ramones performance art, but is there a more intentional, self-contained creative performance? The Ramones weren’t a band “about something.” While there were other high-concept bands that rival their singularity of statement—like Kraftwerk, the Residents, or Devo—those bands revolved around technology and enigma. The Ramones were self-reflexive: a rock band that was about the idea of a rock band. They took comic book violence and the deadest tropes of Beach Boys lyrics and placed them alongside tales of New York hustling as if it all was one piece. Authenticity wasn’t an issue. Authenticity was a joke.

From John Flansburgh's post-Tommy in memoriam on The Ramones. They Might Be Giants, Flansburgh's own band, occupies a different niche than the boyz from Queens, but he seems to get them.

After only a couple of years, Tommy decided that having been in the Ramones was great, but that he didn't want to keep doing it. Understandable, given the personalities involved. Still, he'll be remembered with them.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Harsh realm

Oh before I go - which in this case is short for "go the whole weekend without blogging" - I did see another movie on Friday night.  This was Winter's Bone, directed by Debra Granik.  I don't hesitate to recommend it.

There's been a disconnect in American movies in terms of class for some time.  America has been wavering between recession and weak recovery for about six years.  Our social safety net has been getting shredded for over thirty.  That's led to a lot of people in desperate straits, and a lot more at least in the doldrums.

Movies and TV, in general, have wanted no part of this.  This goes for both large studio films and the more high profile indie projects.  Celebrated pictures like Ruby Sparks, Young Adult and Her may have their virtues, but they won't visit you where you live.  They limn a kind of depressed affluenza that may reflect the makers' lives, but doesn't really resonate outside that circle.

Winter's Bone's grubbiness is a relief in that context.  And it is grubby.  Characters look unwashed, and brace themselves against the Missouri winter by seemingly wearing all their clothes at once.  Jennifer Lawrence, who plays heroine Ree Dolly, might never have become a movie star if her subsequent Academy Award nomination hadn't given her an excuse to be seen in public with her nair done and a nice dress. 

Beyond that there's the subject of living in a tiny house and being threatened with losing that house over a bail bond that would, to some, be trivial.  It's a grim situation, but one many can identify with.  It also has the virtue of raising stakes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shady Friday Random Ten

Someone I work with told me today that my sunglasses reminded them of "Three Blind Mice", possibly the cartoon version.  This is based on a misconception, of course.  Blind mice don't wear dark glasses.  They just wander around the room, doing their best not to trip over anything, and unless you know them you have no idea what their problem is.

1. Neil Young - Welfare Mothers
2. Broadcast - Arc of a Journey
3. Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley - The Masquerade is Over
4. Paul Simon - Outrageous
5. Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch
6. St. Vincent - Regret
7. Neko Case - The Needle Has Landed
8. The Velvet Underground - The Gift
9. The Beastie Boys - The Brouhaha
10. Pink Martini - Je Ne t'Aime Plus