3.25.2016

art/architecture


Perhaps my most comforting memory is around a time just out of high school, sitting on the living room floor in the house I grew up in, front door open and an early summer breeze coming in, watching Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure. Some friends were heavy into the anime scene, and while expressing interest, I was handed this as a way into the medium. It worked. I was hooked.

Edward Hopper's "Rooms by the Sea" reminds me of that afternoon. I like that.

I forget how comforting art can be. I'm not particularly interested in its history or theory, but this I enjoy. Times of stress bring on a penchant for viewing. But it's hard to remember what has struck that cord, through the years. The first art I witnessed in its proper setting was likely the Birds in Art exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. It was the big event at the local museum, so a number of school trips exposed me to the wonders. There was probably something in there, at some point, that really stayed with me. No more, though, but that's not to devalue its importance.

So it's tough to recall favorites of art. We're exposed to it everywhere, at all times, and I don't remember all that has affected me, my thoughts, my views. But I do remember some:

Celes Chere (Yoshitaka Amano)
Day of the Perpetual Night (Yang Yongliang)
Gas (Edward Hopper)
The Girl Chewing Gum (John Smith)
Photography of Jeff Brouws
Pepsi can (2009-2014)
Perseus w/ the Head of Medusa (Benvenuto Cellini)
Serial Experiments Lain illustrations (Yoshitoshi aBe)
The Suicide of Saul (Pieter Bruegel the Elder)
Whose Utopia (Cao Fei)

It's tough to choose a single image from Jeff Brouws and Yoshitoshi aBe, so I will not. I am also a fan of Edward Burtynsky & Alec Soth when it comes to photography, but Brouws is something else. All of Amano's art for Final Fantasy VI is incredible across the board, but in this case, I can narrow it to one. Bruegel is the most recent addition, with attention turning that way due to The Mill & the Cross. And Edward Hopper is Edward Hopper.

Many works of Cao Fei could fit here - iMirror & COSplayers - but Whose Utopia was the first witnessed, at the Walker Art Center, and the first video art I enjoyed. John Smith came later. I was fortunate enough to witness two others on a trip to italy - Cellini & Yongliang. And last, there is the Pepsi can. The most perfect work of art.

There is also the lair of favorite architecture, kept separate but essentially the same boat:

Harold Washington Library Center (Chicago, IL)
Palace of Fine Arts (San Francisco, CA)
Umeda Sky Building (Osaka, Japan)
Uptown Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)
Valley of the Mills (Sorrento, Italy)

Sorrento makes the list because I can't decide between Italy's numerous duomos.

Regardless, they are all beautiful.

3.14.2016

bad taste

Rear Window is my favorite film, and has been so since the late 1990s. It's a respectable choice. Some past choices for that spot, however, were not always so.

I don't recall much of my movie preferences throughout the 80s - I was most hooked on Princess Bride, Disney's Robin Hood, and The Secret of NIMH, and also recall Land Before Time, Big Trouble in Little China, E.T., the Star Wars trilogy, Flight of the Navigator, Invaders From Mars, Masters of the Universe, SpaceCamp, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, The Burbs, and the Lethal Weapon & Alien movies - but the rest is quite hazy.

Taste eventually segued into the 90s action scene with the likes of Terminator 2 and Total Recall, but it's here where preferences get wonky.

Five very bad films that were once my favorites:

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (6.14.91)
My favorite film for a solid two years. I was such a fan that one night, after I had been put to bed, I crept to the top of the stairs to listen to the entire movie as my parents watched in the living room. All 143 minutes. Looking back, my love likely stemmed from the Disney version, along with maybe the Nintendo video game. And yes, also that Bryan Adams song. It broke my heart a bit, returning to it a few years ago and realizing my memories betrayed me.




Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 (3.17.93)
I understand why I loved the original TMNT -my childhood obsession with being knocked unconscious. I even pretended this on the playground where I'd just not move for minutes at a time, because I guess I wanted people to take care of me like Leonardo did for Raphael. This is also why I loved the book My Teacher Glows in the Dark.

Anyway. I have no idea why I enjoyed this third entry (maybe the toys?), but it certainly wouldn't last long on top.


Super Mario Brothers: The Movie (5.28.93)
I have a vivid memory of getting into my dad's car with my fellow video game-loving friend after seeing this film and declaring it the best movie I'd ever seen.

I was wrong.

Jurassic Park was released two weeks later and set me straight.



Batman Forever (6.9.95)
This was at the height of my Jim Carrey obsession, so I sort of understand how this one happened. I recall telling someone that I preferred Val Kilmer to Michael Keaton as Batman because Keaton wasn't funny and never smiled. I was clearly an idiot, but least the movie propelled me into comic fandom.

It wasn't long, however, when I seriously started getting invested in films by following the James Bond and Alfred Hitchcock filmographies. Despite occasional hiccups like 1997's 5th Element and 1998's Dark City, it was around here when Rear Window ascended to the top.

American Beauty (9.17.99)
1999 was an absolutely spectacular year in film - just look at the list! - but with this, Blair Witch Project, and Rushmore, it also saw the mainstream-ization of independent cinema. I became particularly enamored by this embarrassingly juvenile piece of work, as I had minimal previous exposure to suburbia satire.

3.05.2016

mythbusters


The Living Planet. Cosmos. Sesame Street. Reading Rainbow. The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

And Mythbusters.

These types of shows are what I really believe television was made for, and also what it's best at. While sitcoms and hour-long dramatic fiction have accumulated more popularity throughout the decades, TV sets are at their most essential and important when showcasing images from around the world, providing education, and delving into the mysteries of our world and beyond.

Mythbusters is my favorite of the bunch, and probably my favorite show of all. It has broken my heart, being a kid from the 80s, how much science fell out of favor throughout the following decades. But now, thanks to the hard work of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (alongside the likes of Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson), science is 'cool' again. Perhaps it will stay that way.

Mythbusters' start was somewhat rocky, with folklorist Heather Joseph-Witnam adding nothing to the proceedings, but soon after, a second build team was introduced (Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, and Scottie Chapman, later replaced with Grant Imahara). The show then found its groove, with its best times delving deep into creation thought processes, Adam and Jamie arguing over what to do, and continually shattering expectations on what results might be. While later seasons occasionally dipped too far into audience placation (e.g. zombie myths), they still managed to pull out some fascinating tests (e.g. the final season's train tanker car implosion).

The first episode I ever watched was 2006's "Crimes & Myth-demeanors 1" where Adam and Jamie tested Hollywood heist scenes, leading to the precious moment of Tory, Grant, and Kari cracking up as Jamie loudly proceeded up an air shaft with supermagnets. I was hooked instantly, spent much of my bored late-20s hunting down every single episode, and changed the way I viewed the world. It's been an inspiration.

"We'll be better off because of you." -Barack Obama

Anyway. A tremendously hard-to-narrow-down list of favorite myths:

"Boom-Lift Catapult:" Is it possible to make a catapult with a boom-lift cherry picker?  (11.10.04)
"Crimes & Myth-demeanors 1" (07.12.06)
"Holiday Special:" Can a falling frozen turkey break a person's foot or kill a pet? (12.06.06)
"Pirate Special:" Does an eyepatch help someone see in the dark? (01.17.07)
"Red Rag to a Bull:" Do bulls in a china shop really cause complete destruction? (08.22.07)
"NASA Moon Landing" (08.27.08)
"Viral Hour:" Creamer cannon test (09.03.08)
"Phone Book Friction:" Are two interlaced phone books impossible to pull apart? (09.10.08)
"Myth Evolution:" Can a rocket-powered snow plow split a car in two? (11.18.09)
"Storm Chasing Myths:" Is it possible to build a personal tornado protection device? (10.13.10)

Plus that time Adam burned off his eyebrow & anytime the cast got drunk.

R.I.P.