Friday, June 26, 2009

Annie Are You Ok?

I once owned parachute pants.  I had a black jacket covered in zippers.  I did the Moonwalk-- whenever I had a chance.  (I had them more than you might think.)  When Michael Jackson was on the cover of Time magazine (1984?)--I harassed my mother until she went out and got it for me.  Then, I read the article about him over and over and over.  

When I got to college, I found out he'd done an album before Thriller.  Every few weeks or so, during my senior year, some friends of mine would clear out their living room of furniture, hang up a disco ball, and play Off The Wall over and over and over.  Disco Dance Party Nights, we called it.  When I started dating my wife, we used to paint together at my apartment; there were only two albums we ever listened to while we worked--There's A Riot Going On, and Off The Wall.  When I got married, I insisted that "Billie Jean" be one of the first songs our DJ played--not for the crowd, but for me.

What he had was joy.  Skill and musicality and moves--sure.  But it was more than that.  Michael Jackson made ME want to dance--a gangly, suburban white dude.  More than that: he made me think I could.

He probably went crazy in the end.  But on the way, he made some f***** incredible music.  

The world today is a little less funky.  

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bad Art

I'm thinking these days about what makes some art seem better than others.  In the process, I've come to think that most of the art to which we're exposed (or at least to which I'm exposed) is basically pretty good.   The Road may not have lived up to the hype, but it's not as if it was a self-published guide to selling tractor trailers.  If you actually want to understand good art, you need to think about bad art.  And bad art (not mediocre art) is often out of sight.  

Somehow this has lead me to the website for Boston's Museum of Bad Art.  I can't even begin to do justice to what's there; let's just say that it's worth your time.  Almost every single painting they have posted should be seen, but since I can only choose one, I've decided to go with...wait for it...."Sunday on the Pot With George."  (I know.  What a title!)  Someone on the site describes the painting as "the single most memorable artistic experience in his life--a bit like his recent bout with shingles."  Yes!
Ok, I'm sorry, but I have to show another one.  This one was painted on lace--four layers of lace, to be exact.    

The description is worth quoting in its entirety:
The texture of the lace lends a luster to the complexion. Careful placement of Christmas poinsettias adds an Easter Island element to this remarkable portrait of the sixteenth president's wife. A painting that could have changed the course of the Civil War.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iran, Twitter, Kutcher

What's going on in Iran seems somehow to be hugely important--not just the events, but the way they've been covered.  The cable stations have been mostly terrible; they don't have many reporters there, and they've got a lot more experience hosting fake round tables in which pseudo-pundits repeat canned talking points about who's up and down in Washington than they do reporting on nascent revolutions.  Meanwhile, the blogosphere has been all over the story.  Andrew Sullivan especially has been great (it's an event made for his strengths), and if you haven't been reading his site regularly, I urge you to do so.  It's gripping stuff.  

And to think: without Twitter, none of this would be possible.  Maybe Ashton Kutcher was right.  The mind reels.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Real American Wombat

G.I. JOE trailer in HD

Let’s be honest: This is probably going to be bad. Fine: it’s definitely going to be bad. Still, I’m going to see it. Because it has ninjas. Ninjas ninjas ninjas. Two of them, actually. You may reasonably ask why a high-tech, 21st century Special Ops military force would need a ninja. Aren’t throwing stars pretty useless in comparision to, I don’t know, anti-tank guns? That misses the point--badly. The point—as any ten-year old boy would happily tell you—is this: ninjas rule. They just do. And if one ninja is good, then obviously two ninjas are better. Way way better.

By the way: Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Those are their names. The ninjas.

Yep. It's gonna be goooood.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The 23rd Time MIGHT Be The Charm

Part of the enjoyment I'm getting from suddenly starting to care about the NBA is that I can now appreciate the full genius of columnist, Bill Simmons.  For those who don't follow sports, Simmons ("The Sports Guy") combines actual sports analysis with a fair amount of high-level ridicule.  At his best, he's very very funny.

The moment below is my favorite from his new mailbag (a regular feature in which he responds to reader questions).  The premise of THIS mailbag is that the people writing in aren't average readers, but sports celebrities.  (Obviously, the letters are all made up).  Here's his response to a question from Mike Brown--the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that lost in a blowout to Orlando after almost everyone on Earth predicted they'd make the NBA Finals.

Q: What should I have done differently?
-- Mike Brown 

[+] EnlargeMike Brown
Elsa/Getty Images"No, no, no -- just keep doing the same thing!"

SG: You mean, other than come up with offensive plays or a playbook? I will never understand two things. First, why you didn't mix things up at all : throw a zone at Orlando, try a zone press (which worked really well in the regular season), go super-small when Howard was on the bench and play LeBron at center; something, anything. You just let the Magic do their thing and made no real attempt to throw them off. Perplexing. And second, why did you insist on doubling Howard and leaving their shooters open? One of the reasons I picked you to kill Orlando in my now-infamous chat was because I thought you'd use 24 (and maybe even 30) fouls on Howard, single-team him, make him score 40 points a game to beat you and stay home on their shooters. You did the opposite. I will never in a million years figure out why. It was like watching someone hitting on various female celebrities at a Hollywood party by saying, "Hi, I'm a member of the paparazzi, I have no money, and I have VD" and going down in flames over and over again but feeling like the 23rd time would be the charm. Again, perplexing.