Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tag Clouds, I like the idea of Tag Clouds

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Life and Art and Virginia Woolf

I used to feel kind of sorry for Virginia Woolf because she said, "But then I don't really like life, unless it's candied over with art."

But I think I just realized that I feel exactly the same way.

Take My End of the Year Quiz

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Feeling all argy bargy. Trying out new things like this quiz form I just discovered while trying to find out what is going wrong with my G4 laptop. I've been getting these scary horizontal and vertical lines in multicolours on my display. Someone on the web with a similar experience described the pattern as an IKEA duvet cover. Very apt. This is not what you want on your laptop screen, believe me. This problem erupted a week ago and has been filling me with dread ever since. There's been alot of agonized surfing and relentlessly scouring help forums since that time.

You never know WHAT you are going to find when you are on the web. Like just coming across this forms web tool from Pretty cool.

After a few months away, I've been back to teaching myself how to design pages for the web. When all part of me really want to do is putter around in a greenhouse.

Maybe that's not true. I obviously want to learn all this stuff if I am reading books about html and code, and staying up late and using all this time of my life trying to get Ye Old Head around it.

But I despair somewhat. Why did my chosen field get so technically complicated? When I started it was all about waxing machines and gouache and magic markers. Really tangible stuff that was sticky and smelled like something. Part of that was great, but part of it was tedious too. Drawing out grids by hand with rapido graphs that clogged. Hated all that. I do love computers and what they do. I LOVE command z. And instantanteously seeing what a certain font looks like in my chosen text. But there is so much to learn now, and it is getting faster and faster all the time. I long for a 6 month moratorium on software upgrades. Just to catch up.

Maybe more ginkgo is needed? Wondering if my splishy-splasshy slapdash methods are really the right sort to properly execute anything on the web? Yet I seem to want to learn this. As it is the means to a very fun end.

I think.

Ask me next year. I'll have a new quiz by that time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How Much Did I Love Thee, Andy Warhol?

The only way to describe the feeling I have right now is: tarnished. I've just read another book about Warhol and his gang in the 60s, Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties. And it's left me feeling a bit depressed.

Why? Because it exposed the tragic, dangerous and nasty truths about those Factory years in the 60s. Starkly. It's a catalogue of every player in every aspect of Warhol's artistic output from 1960 to the end of the decade: from film, visual art to theatrical and rock and roll collaborations. The collective wallop of the stories left me feeling saddened and deadened.

All those desperately drugged people, all that waste and excess are detailed down to the minutae. It's mostly a strict retelling of facts and quotes: This thing happened, then this thing happened. This person said this. One one hand fascination, yet often horrifying and saddening. The sheer volume of drugs ingested daily by everyone, including Andy himself was detailed. Amphetamines mostly: Huge quantities. Daily. Constantly. Andy took speed, but a little less of it, all prescription.

As a callow 18 year old aspiring artist, I once said: "The only thing sacred are the early works of Andy Warhol." Elegant, and punchy. Mad colours. Sexy. Also this: Often funny. (See "Tunafish Disaster". Just the word tunafish is funny. That he picked that article out to use in his art. Well, you had to love the guy.)

I adored his Marilyns, his Liz, his Elvis. Seeing a Flower painting in the 70s was a religious experience, the same kind of feeling I had seeing on Guernica at the Museum of Modern Art. Yes, I was a serious Fangirl.

I'd almost forgotten about my Warhol worship. I'm kind of an art dropout. Art and Preoccupation with Art has been on the back burner for me for a good (bad?) long time. The back burner element is broken, needs replacing. Many reasons for that, which I won't go into now. So it was very exciting to revisit Warhol, the art, the time period, the friends and collaborators. I stumbled upon Factory Girl. It had been panned (20% on RottenTomatoes) but I was curious to see it because it was Warhol. How could I not?

While the film is no masterpiece, it was a thrill to watch, particularly the beginning. The combination of the music, the fashions, the people, the art, and (virtual) Andy himself gave me a buzz. Warhol was personified amazingly well by Guy Pearce, the best on-screen creation of the man I'd ever seen. Not that there are many real documented versions of Andy to compare it to.

The focus of the film is meant to be Edie Sedgwick, who has been resurrected as a modern day figure of fascination - the idea of her has captivated a whole new generation, if youtube tributes are anything to go by. Sienna Miller did a wonderful job of portraying her, the beauty and vulnerability, her distinctive scratchily-soft speaking voice. The flavour of the times, with the exception of a couple of questionable casting choices (Jimmy Fallon as Chuck Wein was clunky- However, unlike most, I actually didn't mind Hayden Christensen as Bob Dylan) was well captured.

Hearing certain songs from the mid-sixties juxtaposed with certain visual cues gets my blood going. I was too young to really be "in" the sixties in the sense of acting or participating - but I was old enough to be sponging it up through my ears and eyes and through the air. It was a time of great energy, great fun, great possibility, great hope. My character came into being during that age.

Seeing Factory Girl was a poignant reminder of all that. The stuff that I was missing in my life. Creativity. Enthusiasm. In addition, there was a new piece of the puzzle to explore. I hadn't known anything at all about the Bob Dylan/Edie Sedgwick connection, so I was compelled to revisit the time period.

I got the book out of the library. I had high hopes of drinking it all in, being voyeuristically immersed in that era again, but instead of getting inspired, the more I read, the more down I got. I stopped reading for awhile because clouds of dull lurking depression were forming around me; but I had finish it to find out what happened. It was the book version of not being able to look away from a car crash. (Am I not the essence of a perfect Warhol fan?)

This isn't the first time I've experienced Andy angst. I read the Diaries when they came out in the 80s. Compulsively. With each entry, his sheen was peeled off. The Diaries gave me a new understanding of the man, as a fallible, worried human, which helped soften any disillusionment. The fact that underneath his cool exterior lived a creature full of -- if not self loathing, at least major self doubt. The fact that he mostly felt like a "nobody", (his word) no matter what success and adulation he acquired. He definiely fits the pattern for creative types. Self doubt is usually us. So this warmed me to him.

The thing that turned me off was his new business model for art in the 80s. Art had become "Just business" and making money. "Friends" were kept for what they could do for him financially. It was so calculated.
That seemed a loss. Admittedly, he could have been making his "just business" pronouncements for effect: to cover up his ongoing lack of inspiration. For years, he just did the portraits, and coasted. But, that's speculation. On the face of it, it was his abandoning of pure art that saddened me. I became less of a fan because of it.

My love affair with Andy fell away in dribs and drabs. He was part of my past. But then a portrayal of Warhol would pop up in a movie, Basquiat, for example, and it was always exciting to be reminded of him. David Bowie's portrayal was full of fun, and a self deprecation. But the film ultimately made Andy out to be a creep, a bloodsucker, user - fitting of his nickname, "Drella". (Dracula and Cinderella) But the beauty, intelligence and humour of his early artwork were always there. No amount of personal creepiness could take that away.

Reading Factory Made I discover that Warhol switched to serious paintings mostly on the advice of Henry Geldzahler. Prior to that, he had been making art, getting "known", but hardly ever selling anything. Then, when he finally got his first show at the Castelli gallery, when he "made it" into this prestigious space, Geldzahler told him "Lighten up, you need to do something lighter", and that led to his Flower series. They sold like crazy. Is it true? Maybe it's just Geldzahler saying it, and Andy would have made these creative decisions on his own, but I found it dispiriting to read. It appeared to be a confirmation of the Art as Business Andy.

On the plus side, Andy was a sponge. He knew what advice to take and what to ignore. And on the minus side, Andy was a sponge. He knew what advice to take and what to ignore. He made business descisions. In his professional and personal life he absented himself. He abdicated. People suffered.


Friday, July 20, 2007

If David Chase re-made these classic film endings

So it's been weeks now and I'm still bummed about the ending to the Sopranos. My favourite show. Really the only TV show I've been invested in for decades. And instead of seeing the final episode and wanting to watch it all over again from the beginning, like I thought I would, I just want to forget the whole thing. Like a bad date.

How long has it been since the ending? Don't even remember. I'm supposed to be getting over it by now. Appreciating the genius of David Chase. How perfect it all was. But I don't. I think it will be a long time before I can think of watching any old episodes again. I'm that put off. It is almost irrational. Why such an aversion? Why can't I see it as an artistic choice? A valid one? Well I can't. It just seems like some crazy person went in and finished off my beloved show in some insane and random manner.

It just didn't seem to to be the David Chase I knew. The one who gave us that fantastic season opening with the Peter Gunn theme mixed with Every Breath You Take. The one who devised the most compelling marital fight I've ever seen on TV in Season 4. The one who showed us Tony Soprano in the early days, drunk and elated that "he didn't hurt anyone". The one that showed psychiatry and therapy as potentially life changing. The one that treated dreamlife and the inner life as carefully as real life. The one who made Tony Soprano a human - who made you see some human core underneath the vile killer/gangster.

I suppose the thing that made me feel the worst about the finale was that there was not one iota, not one scrap of a possibility of redemption. The redemption that he teased us with over all those seasons. He toyed with the spiritual theme, the higher planes human beings could get to, could at least reach for. Then, nothing. All of that dropped. Melfi—his spiritual touchstone—dumped him in a most irrational and un-professional manner, and that was the end of that story.

Tony and his family were just bad people with no hope. No possibility of change. No insights. No regrets. No future.

I read somewhere on some other blog that Chase was disillusioned with the way people were drawn to the Tony Soprano character, and he wanted to prove to everyone how much of a scumbag he really was: how misplaced our connection was. But he wanted to have it both ways. I had hoped for something, a small bit of transcendence. A clue. Nothing major. Something. Anything. Some little aside that suggested some hope. Something to come. But instead we got onion rings, Journey (ack) and blackness.

A big nothing. I thought he was going to rail against the Livias of the world. Instead he got in bed with them.

Just as an exercise a couple days after the finale I amused myself with this list of endings, as David Chase might re-do them. Of course there are a million of them on YouTube now. But for what it's worth, here's my list:

Gone with the wind:
Scarlett: Rhett, where will I go? What will I do?
Rhett: Frankly, my —

Some Like it Hot:
Joe: (taking off his wig) I’m a man!
Mr. ____: No—

Sunset Boulevard
Gloria Swanson: There's nothing else - just us - and the cameras - and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m—

Rick: Louis, This could—

King Kong:
Oh, no! It wasn't the airplanes. It was —

The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy: and you're all here! And I'm not gonna leave here ever, ever again because I love you all! - And oh, Auntie Em, there’s no—

And thats—

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Look at all the pretty books! It's Shelfari! It's a Virtual Bookshelf.

Just joined this site today. Someone named Andrea K invited me. I hope that is who I think it is.

Anyway it appears to be a Virtual Bookshelf. It's a fun way to list all the books I've been reading. I have areas of my life where I like to be organized and linear; and lists of "books read" is something that appeals to me for some reason. I've been keeping lists of amazon bookmarks for my own reference but this is much more appealing.

I'm wondering if I can convince members of my book club to join. Alas the members of my book club are mostly internet averse. I've been gently badgering them to sign on to Facebook for a while now with no success.

Anyway, Shelfari! Hmm. Sort of sounds like an old John Wayne movie. I do like to see all the pretty book covers all lined up against each other.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Everything's the same, except for the cats

Strange. More than a year has gone by an I still have the same things happening. Annoyances re: amounts of money in the bank virtually the same.

Cat willow, the foot attacker, is still neurotic but perhaps slightly less so.

I have one more to add to the cat population in my house. Fisher moved in a year ago. Got him from Yes, I found my new pet on the internet. He is fluffy and chock full of static electricity. I remember in science class in high school we were given these little fur patches that we would rub on various objects to demonstrate static electricity in action. The little patches were made of cat fur. I keep wondering if there is some kind of Bounce for living cats, so I can touch my cat without every bit of his fur standing on end before it all attaches itself to my clothes.

My sister has cat-attracting legs. Only activated by wearing black pants. It is one of the scourges of her existence. I myself long for slavish adoration from my pets, but it never comes. My cats are aloof, standoffish, complete snobs really.