Friday, February 27, 2015

favorite song friday: michelle pfeiffer as the zeitgeist

Vance Joy in "Riptide" and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars in "Uptown Funk" are praising and celebrating the lovely actress Michelle Pfeiffer in each of their current hit songs.



I just wanna, I just wanna know
If you're gonna, if you're gonna stay
I just gotta, I just gotta know
I can't have it, I can't have it any other way
I swear she's destined for the screen
Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you've ever seen, oh


This hit, that ice cold
Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold
This one for them hood girls
Them good girls straight masterpieces
Stylin', whilen, livin' it up in the city
Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent
Got kiss myself, I'm so pretty

If you need a muse, Pfeiffer is definitely a good choice. And it's kind of cool that a 50+ year-old lady continues to inspire.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

throwback (snowy) thursday

The kid had fun making a snowman on our cousin Ann's deck ...


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

this winter's erosion ...

... can also be beautiful.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

sleeping beauty

Even the most mundane shopping expedition can be turned into a fairy tale ... with the right company.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

the decline of western civilization as we know it

Are these signs of the apocalypse? Maybe not, but things have popped up on my pop culture radar lately that made me wonder what the heck are people thinking these days ...


Item number one for consideration, Usher's new song, "I Don't Mind."

Shawty, I don’t mind
If you dance on a pole
That don’t make you a ho
Shawty, I don’t mind when you work until three
If you’re leaving with me
Go make that money, money, money
Your money, money, money
Cause I know how it is, go and handle your biz
And get that money, money, money
Your money, money, money
You can take off your clothes
Long as you coming home, girl, I don’t mind

Really, Usher? Thanks for the permission and your approval. The lyrics only get classier [not] as the song continues.

Also questionable is an ad running frequently for the television game show Family Feud, starring Steve Harvey, that went viral on the show earlier this month. When asked to provide a popular answer to the question: "What does a doctor pull out of a person?" a female contestant named Darci blurted out, "A gerbil!" How much fun for parents to try to avoid explaining why she might have said that.

Maybe I just need to turn off the TV and the radio for a while ...

Friday, February 20, 2015

favorite song friday: bills

I love the retro sound of this song, "bills," by LunchMoney Lewis.

Gamal "LunchMoney" Lewis, image from 2 Paragraphs


I got BILLS I gotta pay
So I'ma go work work work every day
I got mouths I gotta feed,
So I'ma make sure everybody eats
I got BILLS!!

All these BILLS left on my desk
They looking like a mouth
All your little kids go 'round like you hear their stomachs growl
This one full moon now, and my girl just keep on howl
Says she won't need me if I don't come home with 50 thousand
God damn, god damn, god damn
Oh man, oh man, oh man
God damn, oh man, god damn, oh man

I think a lot of people can relate to the sentiment while also enjoying the fun rhythm. It's just pure fun, and we can all use some more music like that. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Lewis in the future.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

throwback happy birthday thursday

Happy happy birthday my now ELEVEN year old girl! Time flies when you're having fun!

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At MoMA

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

more gorgeous skies

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

lovejoy is looking for love in series 3 ...

The the second season of Lovejoy, the last time we saw the irascible but ever-charming antiques dealer played by Ian McShane, he was swindling (for a good cause, naturally) crooked antiques dealer Harry Catapodis (Brian Blessed) in order to help out a Japanese businessman (Mako) and a lovely widow Victoria (Joanna Lumley) who had both been cheated by Harry.

Lovejoy Series 3, recently released on DVD by Acorn Media, picks up a year later, after Lovejoy has been taking a holiday in Spain, where he has enjoyed (and spent) all the proceeds from that last big deal. He returns home to take up right where he left off, and his friends and partners, Eric (Chris Jury), Tinker (Dudley Sutton), and Lady Jane Felsham (Phyllis Logan, who many will recognize as Downton Abbey's Mrs. Hughes), are mostly glad to see him, even if they put off a bit by his new warmer climes-inspired wardrobe of linen suits and bright tee shirts. It doesn't take long for Lovejoy to don his familiar jeans and leather jacket, and also to kick-start his flirtation with Victoria into a full-fledged romance. Lady Jane seems a bit put off by the whole thing — will she and Lovejoy ever declare their feelings that always seem to be simmering below the surface?

Lovejoy and Lady Jane (Ian McShane and Phyllis Logan)

You can read my complete review on Cinema Sentries ...

Monday, February 16, 2015

happy presidents' day

"Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present." — From History.com


I have to challenge that last sentence. I have never heard this holiday having anything to do with any other presidents than Washington or Lincoln, who both had February birthdays. I will completely agree with the desire for a longer weekend, although it doesn't seem to benefit all, as not every job in this country has a leave calendar as generous as federal workers.

Friday, February 13, 2015

favorite song friday: american punk

Continuing yesterday's CBGB punk theme, here are some favorite tunes that debuted in that club and that era.

Debbie Harry of Blondie





Thursday, February 12, 2015

throwback thursday: cbgb

If you never were quite sure what the initials on the awning of downtown rock mecca CBGB meant, the film CBGB answers that question.

CBGB = Country, Bluegrass and Blues, OMFUG = Other Music for Uplifting Gourmandizers


But as for the rest of it ... I love Alan Rickman, maybe even more than the next guy, but he can't do much with this dull attempt at trying to recreate the downtown New York punk scene of the '70s and '80s. Rickman stars as Hilly Kristal, the man behind the club, and, many believe, the punk movement itself, at least in the U.S.


Not very good caricatures of famed musicians like Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and many others are not helped by the dreadful wigs and costumes that nullify any attempt to conjure up some fun nostalgia. Harry Potter fans may be thrilled (or not-so-thrilled) to see Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) drop trou as the Dead Boys' Cheetah Chrome. From behind, but still.

For those who might want to get a taste of what the club really produced, the soundtrack at least features some quick blips of great, original music, including: "Life During Wartime" by the Talking Heads, "Roxanne" by The Police, "Blank Generation" by Richard Hell and the Voidoids, "Sunday Girl" by Blondie, "I Can't Stand It" by The Velvet Underground, and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges.

When I was in art school in the '80s we ended up at CBGBs on numerous occasions. The bathrooms were absolutely frightening and filthy, as is depicted in the film, but it was New York, and exciting, and it still felt like a landmark.



The club closed in 2006 and founder Hilly Kristal passed away the following year. Patti Smith played a moving tribute to Kristal and the club, which, happily, can be enjoyed. A much more fitting tribute than this mismatch of a film.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

panoramas

I don't usually use the panorama feature on my phone, but I couldn't resist these views.

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Larger view on flickr

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

room 237 — wheels within wheels

The documentary Room 237, dealing with possible hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film The Shining is sure to be fun for conspiracy theorists and film buffs — at least, at first. But as the 102-minute movie runs on, viewers may get more and more impatient as each theory is proposed, one more outlandish than the next.

Much is made of the pattern of the carpet in the Overlook Hotel

Kubrick's stylistic and chilly adaptation of Stephen King's novel centers around writer Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who agrees to take a job as the caretaker at the scenic but very isolated Overlook Hotel during the off-season. He moves there with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Danny can "shine" — he has psychic abilities, and can see ghosts and people and events from the past. As time passes Jack begins drinking again and gets more and more distant from his family and drawn closer and closer to the supernatural inhabitants of the hotel.

King couldn't even make it all the way through the documentary:

"Yeah. Well, let me put it this way – I watched about half of it and got sort of impatient with it and turned it off. ... These guys were reaching. I've never had much patience for academic bullshit. It's like Dylan says, 'You give people a lot of knives and forks, they've gotta cut something.' And that was what was going on in that movie."

There are quite a few different theories proposed, but the ones that seem to get the most airtime are:

  • The genocide of Native Americans (supported supposedly by the Western-themed decorations in the Overlook Hotel, and shots of cans of Calumet Baking Powder, which feature the head of a Native American.
  • That a travel poster may be referencing the myth of the Minotaur (although the skier in the poster doesn't even remotely resemble the half-man half-beast).
  • That the film is about the Holocaust (Jack is using a German typewriter).
  • That the film proves that the Apollo 11 moon landing was faked (Danny wears a sweater featuring the Apollo 11 rocket).

Can you spot the Calumet baking powder? But then what does the Sanka and Tang mean???

There is an interesting section towards the end of Room 237 that shows how similar some of the shots are in the film whether you run it forwards or backwards, with footage running the images together in both directions at the same time. That is the sort of thing that the biggest fans of Kubrick will love. Does it prove anything about The Shining? Not really, but it does point out how elegantly Kubrick framed his shots and mirrored his scenes.

Monday, February 09, 2015

tim's vermeer

Tim Jenison is a Renaissance man. An inventor, and engineer, he has a questing, questioning mind. Tim's Vermeer, a documentary film by Penn and Teller, follows Tim in his quest to understand how Vermeer made his paintings, and to prove his personal theory that he used optical devices to get his painterly effects. Teller directed the film and wrote it with Penn Jillette, who also produced and serves as the narrator.

"The Music Lesson, " Johannes Vermeer, 1662–1665, Oil on canvas, Royal Collection, St. James's Palace, London

Tim is not the first to write about or question Johannes Vermeer's techniques. Painter David Hockney famously wrote about it in his book Secret Knowledge, which started Tim on his quest. Teller takes Tim to England to meet the artist, and others as well, including architecture professor Philip Steadman, author of the book Vermeer's Camera, which suggests the camera obscura was behind Vermeer's precise brushwork.

It is fascinating to watch Tim try to rebuild a famous work of art from the inside out. He tries to recreate Vermeer's work by grinding authentic pigments, using real, not modern, electric, or artificial light, even building a room to recreate the "set" of Vermeer's "The Music Lesson." It is also gratifying to see him be awed by the painting in real life, after taking a trip to see it first-hand.

Tim at work in his studio
Art inspires, and Tim is inspired to return home and try to recreate the painting using all that he has learned. Tim is not trained as a painter, but he is eager to learn. During the process he starts to notice little details and anomalies which continue to reveal the skill of the original artist. Some of the same anomalies occur in his process, which leads him to believe he is on the right track with his technique.

When I was in art school, the first year in our Color and Design class we were tasked to recreate an Old master's famous painting. I chose Vermeer's "Woman with Pearl Necklace." It is probably the best class assignment I ever had. I learned so much, like Tim, trying to just recreate the color and light of that wonderful work of art. As Hockney states in Tim's Vermeer, a lot of the formulas for paintings of the past have been lost. It is a worthwhile endeavor to try to recapture them.

Woman with a Pearl Necklace, Johannes Vermeer, 1664, oil on canvas, Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Friday, February 06, 2015

favorite song friday: fourfiveseconds

"... All of my kindness
Is taken for weakness ..."

The first single to be released from Rihanna's upcoming LP has been released. It is a laid-back emotional track that features Rihanna duetting with Kanye West and backed by rock legend Paul McCartney on acoustic guitar.

The video for the song, directed by fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin is as stripped down as the music, and features the jeans-clad trio in striking black and white. Rihanna will debut "FourFiveSeconds" live on Sunday's 57th annual Grammy Awards, joined onstage by McCartney and West. Looking forward to hearing it performed live.



Thursday, February 05, 2015

our angel

Our dachshund Angel had an episode last week that made her feel sick and has affected her balance. She has been on the mend, but is still feeling and walking a little wonky. One of the most difficult nights, for her and for us, was when she had to stay at an animal hospital. Like any ER, everything seemed to take forever, and we were worried about our girl.

It was also a pricey experience, which was no fun, too, but there was one perk. One of the hospital's strategies for keeping us in the loop was to send us emails from Angel, complete with photos. They were sweet, and I have to say, these are some of the best photos of Angel I've ever seen.

From the overnight stay: "I just wanted to give a quick Hi and say Goodnight. I know how worried you are but I'm doing pretty good. I miss you already and hope to see you tomorrow. Love, Angel"



From the next morning: "... Everyone here is great and they are taking great care of me. This morning I went out for a walk and I was enjoying the cool weather basking in the sun. I can't wait to see you and miss you all very much. Love, Angel"

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

moulin rouge

I introduced the kid to Moulin Rouge and she loved it. She was already a big Ewan McGregor fan (chip off the old block, of course) and was also happy to see Nicole Kidman in a part more appealing than "the mean lady from Paddington." Almost 11 is such an interesting age.


Tuesday, February 03, 2015

tilda swinton and we need to talk about kevin

Tilda Swinton is a wonderful actress. In We Need to Talk About Kevin she is amazing. A harrowing film, as much a horror movie as an emotional study, it follows Swinton as Eva, as she tries to rebuild her life after a tragedy. Director Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar) uses flashbacks and tells the story out of order to increase the level of dread and anxiety as the audience gets closer to the truth of what happened.

Eva meets Franklin (John C. Reilly) and they seem to have a free-wheeling adventurous romance until the birth of their child, Kevin. Difficult from birth, Kevin behaves differently with each parent and Eva has trouble bonding with him. Is she a bad mother? Is there something wrong with him?




We see Eva in a luxurious but sterile home that she shares with Franklin and Kevin. Who are these people? The walls are practically blank and devoid of personality. What do they do all day? We also see her in a broken-down house and neighborhood, desperate to get a crummy job, but we are unclear of the timeframe.

Kevin is played by three wonderful actors: Rocky Duer as a toddler, Jasper Newell as a young boy, and Ezra Miller as a teenager. Who Kevin is and why he does the things he does is never clear, which may be the most terrifying aspect of the film. Especially as children like Kevin keep showing up on the local news stations every day.

Monday, February 02, 2015

february ... wait ... what ?

How did that happen?


Link to full-size image here.