2013.04 minutiae

  • Started up my car and the radio asked, "Are severe non-healing wounds affecting your quality of life?"  Nah, they're pretty much in keeping with the overall trend.

  • Passed a young girl walking down the street with what I presumed to be her grandmother, an elderly woman with short, frizzy white hair.  The grandmother was asking the young girl, in a kindly voice, "Has anyone ever told you about the Donner Party?"

  • It occurred to me that younglings probably go "?!?" when oldsters like me casually mention having once kept things on top of the TV.

  • Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring and several other paintings from the Netherlands' Mauritshuis are in San Francisco town at the moment and there are ads for the exhibit all over the city.  I saw one on the side of a bus that declared, "Finally, the perfect date to go Dutch!"  Arrggh.  Clearly that girl isn't the only one who belongs in The Hague.

  • Speaking of Girl With a Pearl Earring, I thought this was pretty amusing.

  • Speaking of San Francisco town, that was the site of what is quite possibly my greatest accomplishment: I parallel parked a 155-inch car in a 156-inch space.  (It helped that the bumper of the truck in front of me was above my bumper, giving me a little extra room to maneuver.)

  • So Carmine Infantino died this month.  I was never a big DC Comics guy, but I was certainly familiar with, and came to admire, Infantino's work.  Drawing super-speed in still pictures is kind of an odd thing to be the best ever at… but how many of us can claim to be the best ever at anything?

  • And of course this was also the month that we lost Roger Ebert.  Like most people, at first I knew him as half of Siskel & Ebert, though I didn't really watch their show all that often.  That changed in my early teens.  I still had to rely on my mother for a ride if I ever wanted to buy something, which generally meant being carted to one mall or another, but I was now old enough that I didn't have to trail after her like a duckling as she did the rest of her shopping.  I would go into B. Dalton or Waldenbooks, and often I found myself in the Entertainment aisle, reading review after review in Roger Ebert's Home Movie Companion.  At first I just read the reviews of movies I'd loved, then of other ones I'd seen, then of ones I'd never seen but was curious about… and eventually I ended up reading them all, because even in the reviews of movies I'd never heard of or had no interest in, Ebert usually had something interesting to say.

    Gene Siskel once boasted that while Ebert was a better writer than he was, he was a better reviewer than Ebert.  I've seen people saying the same thing online, usually backed by "Ebert trashed (such-and-such a movie now considered a classic)" or "Ebert liked (such-and-such a piece of forgettable fluff)" — suggesting that what constitutes "better reviewing" is not deeper insight into a film, or defter turns of phrase, but a good track record in predicting consensus judgments.  I find it ironic that Roger Ebert was known for the "thumbs up, thumbs down" gimmick of the TV show, which encouraged this sort of thinking, because his columns taught me that criticism could be more than merely evaluative.  That it was perfectly valid, and often led to better results, to explore what the work made you think about.  Because that's what art is for, isn't it?  Not to add to our databases of what's cool and what sucks, but to enrich our interior lives.

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