This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

S' Murvelus, S' Wanderfoll

Posted by: James Lileks under Photos, Praise, Technology Updated: March 6, 2013 - 12:29 PM

Why do people like dance crazes? It’s not the ridiculousness of the videos, the sense of participation in a global cultural phenomenon, or the devotion of the young to the latest and hippest. No, we can’t resist the Harlem Shake and the Gangnam-Style pony dance because of a long tradition of Shimmying that goes back nine centuries, and was described by Mae West as having “a naked aching, sensual agony about it.” Quick, apply some critical pressure to this series of loose movements, stat!


Dance fads may be understood as challenging, or representing, the angst of an age.

“Gangnam Style” could be considered a response to growing economic inequality in South Korea and on an international stage; “Harlem Shake” seems more a like release as it allows its participants to devolve into chaotic merriment together—offering a break from the demands of everyday rigors.

Baauer explains his song’s popularity more simply: ‘I think it caught on because it’s a goofy, fun song,” he told The Daily Beast.

He might be on to something, but what does he know? He just wrote the song.

 

BEAUTY The National Geographic Society has narrowed down the best photos of the year, and you’re invited to vote. Just about everything has .01%, except for this one, which a self-portrait of a woman’s morning routines. It has 17% of the vote, It's  beating this and this.

”WANDERFOLL PICTURE” says someone named Sharon in the comments. I think people are drawn to it and its wanderfollness because the artist has captured what it’s like to use the bathroom in the morning and that’s something we can all appreciate. As opposed to horse-wrangling or being the universe, which is like whatever and not wanderfoll at all.

How can you known how to spell “picture,” but not “wonderful?”

ART Another one of those “rare masterpieces by a genius discovered and sold for a buck fifty” stories. From a newspaper about art called the Art Newspaper:

Amid the multi-million-dollar record prices and packed salerooms of New York’s Old Master week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art quietly made the steal of the season in the Old Master drawings auction at Swann Galleries on 29 January.

Catalogued and illustrated as “French school, early 19th century”, the 24.5cm by 38.2cm sheet (est $500-$700) depicting The Death of Socrates in brush, black ink and grey wash was described as “lightly squared for transfer in pencil. After the painting by Jacques-Louis David in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.”

David’s painting, bought by the Met in 1931, is among the artist’s greatest masterpieces, and has received universal acclaim since its debut at the Salon of 1787. At first glance, the newly acquired drawing may appear to be a copy, but considerable changes in setting and in the positions and gestures of the figures indicate that it is, rather, a previously unrecorded preliminary compositional study for the painting.

 

The article points out a big difference between the two: Here Crito, the fellow Socrates charged with fowl-debit settlement, has a large open book on his lap, symbolizing something. Probably the Judgement of History or some such concept.

 

In the final version, David has applied his theatrical skills to give the moment more punch:

 

 

  

His hand is on Socrates’ leg, but it’s not grasping it tightly. It’s a way of confining Socrates to the physical plane, while the philosopher himself says “no, it’s upstairs that matters. So if you don’t mind I’ll be off.” (David was probably thinking of Plato’s gesture in Raphael’s “School of Athens,” which he probably saw on a trip to Rome. So it's an homage, not a theft.)

“Death of Socrates” doesn’t have the proto-fascism of “The Oath of the Horatii,” but it doesn’t have the same dramatic power, either. You can argue whether the fellow on the end of the bed blunts the drama with his disengagement, whether the corridor and stairs on the left doesn’t make sense - where is Socrates taking his last drink, exactly? A hallway? A cell? In the drawing, it’s obviously a cell:

 

 

 

  

But that closes up the image, and David wanted the impression of a spirit about to escape, or perhaps connect the philisopher's work to the world beyond the prison walls; perhaps the people going up the stairs represent the disciples who carried on the ideas. Or they're on a tour and wandered into the wrong room.

 

 

What I can’t figure out is this: why anyone thought it was a drawing of the original painting, instead of prelimiminary study. Wouldn’t a drawing have looked exactly like the original?

 

CELEBS   Wasn’t Elton John broke a few years ago because he spent hideous amounts of money on things like fresh flowers for every room in a huge house he wasn’t even living in? Nice to see he’s learned his lesson:


Sir Elton John asked for a separate hotel room for his glasses ahead of a gig in Brazil.

 The 'Rocket Man' hitmaker requested the additional quarters to house his spectacles at the Ouro Minas five-star hotel in Belo Horizonte ahead of his show on Saturday, and he asked organisers of the gig to ensure the temperature of the extra room was maintained at 16 degrees Celsius (60.8 Fahrenheit).

 A spokesperson for the show's production company told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: ''Elton John asked for an extra room in the hotel for some of his collection of glasses because he needs a temperature of 16C to preserve the accessories.''

Hah: “Rocket Man Hitmaker.” The best way to make an entertainer feel less than relevant is to refer to them by a work they did several decades ago.

 

WEB Sneaky little sponsored-content post at Buzzfeed, here. Not sneaky in the sense that they’re hiding something, but how they worked the sponsor into the bit. It really doesn't tell you much about the sponsor, though. If you had no idea what the show was about, nothing about the list of pictures - that's right, a list of pictures on Buzzfeed - would compel you to watch the show. Unlike, say, this.

 

If a scowling man in a fez falling down a bottomless void over a series of code numbers doesn't tell you that "Gravity Falls" is different from every other kid show on the air, well, nothing will. 

I know what it says, but I'm not telling.

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