Happy Easter Y'all! Whether you're a pagan friend of mine (or rebellious youth) who enjoys revelling in (or strongly referencing) the inherent fertility of Easter's symbolic trappings, or a hearty Christian who enjoys celebrating the return of Jesus as he let his followers know that he had truly elevated himself in the spiritual sense and that his suffering on their behalf had been for a very good cause. Either way all are welcome as over the past I have had friends from all extremes and, being something of a chameleon due to my tiny, tiny childhood size combined with moving around a lot, I've learned to accept a lot of folks for who they are and not try to change them in any way.
Anyhoo...now that I actually have access to a computer and in the near future will be able to purchase one of my very own, I thought I might revisit some old habits such as creating an Easter "fun page" filled with all sorts of (hopefully) comic merriment as I have done in the past. But as I perused through Google pictures looking for an appropriately retro Easter header...oh, which would have looked thusly:
Not too shabby...a tad on the small side but as always I make an attempt to merge my love for old-fashioned pin-ups with whatever is the calendar theme of the day. Anyways whilst I was thumbing through the "retro Easter" pics that it culled up from the vastnessness of the Internet, I began noticing a decent amount of alarming and slightly disturbing pictures associated with the holiday; some intentional and some...not so much. Being still something of an ADD lad I decided to ditch my party blog and just lazily post some of the pics that caught my eye for your edification, amusement, or perhaps much to your regret for clicking on my abode. Enjoy?
I think the expression on the child says it all as, so stricken with apprehension it cannot even summon up the emotion of tears and terrors, stunned...it quietly ponders whether or not the giant expressionless bunny is about to consume it.
"I swear by my hands some child will die by chocolate this very day"
OK let's face facts. You and I both have seen enough horror films to realize that either the kid is about to look for her last egg, or she is about to serve as a catalyst for some upspeakable horror beyond horror that's about to rip you apart in such a manner that all the police involved in investigating your murder will have nightmares to their dying days. Either way...you know it's not going to end good.
If there's one picture on this blog that's going to stay with you and haunt you for days upon end until you slowly erase that memory with some very hard liquor, it's this one.
One of the hardest kinds of retro pictures to find is live model Easter pin-up girls as, other than great pin-up painters like Vargas and Elvgren, it's amusing to think before Playboy, folks back then couldn't quite summon up the sexy when it came to bunny costumes. Hallowe'en...no problem. Christmas...sure, you want to open a present little boy? But girls in bunny costumes? Not a chance. This picture is made all the more frightening as she seems to be presenting the egg in a manner which indicates that it is the result of an unholy union you and her have both been a part of. There is no escape!
OK I'll admit that this one isn't disturbing nor particularly funny. I just find it amusing because back in them thar pre-Hindenburg days pretty much everyone thought that traveling by Dirigibles was the wave of the future. But soon the tiny chicks will be leaping to their unknown fate surrounded by fiery carnage as their hopes of bringing us a happy Easter celebration is dashed along with the hopes of humanity. Oh the...oh wait, I just did that joke. Ah well...
And you thought when you died that at least your soul was free to rejoice in the afterlife. Think again. The Collectors have come.
Is it just me or do you also wonder if, when you pull this colorful napkin out of its holder, that you expect to receive a generous portion of the poor bunny's guttyworks as well? Anyone? Well...I suppose I am something of a morbid lad.
Just remember...if you make any noise, any noise AT ALL, no matter how small and they open their eyes...you're dead. Tread lightly my friend.
Did I mention how difficult it was in the pre-Playboy days to make women in bunny outfits look sexy? Lord knows it wasn't as if there weren't some really hot women back in those days as, personally speaking, I'm quite fond of girls from the '20s and '30s. But again...the technology just wasn't there apparently. Oh sad unsexy sexy bunny girls with their very hot had heads. So sad.
So that wraps up my minor attempt at amusing/terrorizing/boring your Easter day. I hope you all have a happy one whether you're church goin' or family gettin' together folks or even if you're just doing the same thing you did yesterday. For my part I unexpectedly have the day off and so I am resting my weary bones from the worst job I've ever had that's so physically exhausting that is may just kill me. But hey...it's a job even if it's just temp work and it puts a little money in my pocket which is more than I had a month ago. Have a good one everyone!
Louise Brooks (November 14, 1906 August 8, 1985)
I was dutifully reminded by Miss Lisa Dabbs on my Facebook the other day that 27 years ago on this August 8th the great Louise Brooks was found dead of a heart broken down slowly by time. Normally I do something on her birthday -- such as last November when I impulsively watched all her films that I possessed -- but usually I don't think much about the day that people disappear from this world as it just seems a wee bit too sad. But the kernel had been planted and so I set about tracking down one of the only two films of hers that still exist that I hadn't seen and as luck would have it I managed a viewing of Prix de Beaute from 1930.
For reasons obvious to those with a smattering of knowledge of her films Prix de Beaute is a far better choice to my other unseen film the little trifle known as Overland Stage Raiders from 1938 which humorously has recently been released on Blu Ray of all things. Oh yes by all means...attend to minor quibbles because they starred a very young John Wayne and not pieces of art starring Miss Brooks that are forced to float around via crappy burned copies from film fans. Are you proud of yourselves now? Are You? Dumb ass punks...not that I wouldn't mind giving it a spin of course and for the record Miss Brooks despite her penchance at times for snootiness, found John Wayne to be a primal force of man hunky goodness. But then again though she considered herself very well educated and cultured, she did tend to highly prize people she felt were simple but honest in their intentions -- which lend itself to her high admiration for the emotionally fragile but blissfully pure Clara Bow.
Prix de Beaute was based on an idea by Rene Clair & G.W. Pabst and directed by Augusto Genina who does an outstanding job of not only constructing a solid film that belies its age with its subtle and restrained approach to acting, but he really knows how to shoot Louise Brooks in a manner in which only Pabst seem to be able. A large part of this is no doubt due to the presence of one of the best cinematographers ever to grace this planet namely Rudolph Maté a frequent collaborator with G.W. Pabst. Both these men really know how to allow Louise Brooks to alternatively light up the film with her lively, exuberant, personality just as effectively as they let her convey a contrasting tone of sorrow and disappointment through body posture and through something as simple as the sinking and dropping of the eyes allowing her character to convey much information which had heretofore been hidden. No small feat considering that apparently Miss Brooks somewhat overdid herself with the alcohol consumption on this particular film...but then this was a lifelong issue with her carried over from her rough early teen years.
Horrifically dubbed at the last second in order to be the first French talkie, the film's imagery is richly symbolic, stark, raw and primal and works infinitely better as a silent film and I found I enjoyed it a lot more if I simply turned off the sound and, as it's naturally dubbed in French, just let the subtitles act as a superior substitute for traditional intertitles used in the silent medium. The story is simple but effective in which Louise Brooks stars as bored typist Lucienne Garnier whose longs for a different life but her boyfriend André (Georges Charlia) is fine with a simple dutiful girlfriend. She impulsively enters a beauty contest and before she can reconsider her decision she quite naturally wins the local contest and goes on to easily win the ensuing larger beauty contest bringing with it many admirers and fame with various levels of desire and lust. But this sits very poorly with her boyfriend who greatly disapproves of the very idea of beauty contests and out of love she reconsiders but this decision ends up making her ultimately miserable. Eventually she is pulled back into the world of glamour...but her boyfriend is not quite willing to let her go leading up to a positively stunningly realized denouement.
Really an impressive film that, though it does have its faults, they seem minor in the face of its inherent beauty and overall superb execution -- especially that damn ending which is just incredible. Though simply plot, I think it's too easy to ignore the way in which the film deftly handles the ability to make nobody really the bad guy here and explore the inherent falsehood behind many dreams and wishes. Both Lucienne and Andre are mild egotists that want their dreams achieved but with not quite enough consideration towards how this will affect their partner. Obviously Andre has the much bigger problem with the nature of their relationship, but still it's important to note how false and possibly destructive Lucienne's naive lean towards fame bring with it.
Despite the bang-up ending that many who writer about the film tend to focus on for reasons that are obvious and fully understandable. Despite that bit of brilliance what struck me initially was early in the film when the young couple is having a novelty picture taken and without any explanation Louise Brooks eyes just drift away and sink as her face very slowly seems to collapse under the weight of her apparent unspoken unhappiness with the status of her life. It's just tiny moments like that which made me think highly of this film and it's easily one her best after those pesky works of art by Pabst quite naturally. Not that Wellman's Beggars of Life is anything to sneeze at mind you but Louise just doesn't quite get enough to do in that film due to the very large presence of Wallace Beery. Wellman's film definitely has a far better story and some brilliant moments, but visually Prix de Beaute is far more compelling that allows Louise Brooks to fully express herself.
So happy right now to have watched the bloody film because I'm still typing and typing though I feel physically horrible but I just don't give a damn.
Do you remember Andrea Bocelli? If you don't you're probably fairly young because if you shopped music stores in the mid to late '90s it would've been pretty hard to ignore his presence. He's an Italian tenor that rode the tenor craze that began with the Three Tenors (Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti) during the renaissance of classical music interest that surged due to the popularity of the compact disc format. Although he did have his champions and adoring fans, Bocelli was never fully accepted as a quality tenor in the world of opera and mainly excelled at singing traditional Italian songs in an operatic manner. But despite the nagging of the critical world, Bocelli was insanely popular and eventually sold over 70 million albums and broke world records in terms of sales and popularity. What made him so popular that he regularly outsold his more respected competition?
One of his big selling points was that Bocelli was born with very poor eyesight and due to an injury suffered when he was 12 he became totally blind. But Bocelli was exceedingly intelligent, very musical gifted and despite this setback he marshaled on to compete in singing competitions and began winning them one after another eventually garnering him quite a bit of attention. Although bringing up the fact that he was blind as a selling point might seem a tad crass, trust me it was and it would be foolish for anybody to think that it didn't add to the narrative of his popularity...because brother it did. You know how I know...besides all the advertising pointing this fact out of course. It's because during his rise in popularity I either worked at, helped to run, or flat out ran a music store or department -- and not some little side effort mind you, but a department that did 40% of the business of a $7 million a year store. Anyhoo...pretty much every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, a little old lady would come in asking for one of Bocelli's albums and each and every time those little old ladies would end the conversation with the same statements. "Isn't he great? He's blind you know!" which though impressive and something which definitely added an extra hurdle to Bocelli's climb to success, it's not something you would think was that impossible to imagine for a human to achieve.
Then my mind would drift to somebody in the classical world that climbed to success around the same time whose struggle truly did impress me. The person who this blog is really about after that exceedingly long preamble. A Scottish percussionist by the name of Dame Evelyn Glennie.
Here is a common entry for the biography of Miss Evelyn Glennie that you can find at many a music site:
"Evelyn is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. As one of the most eclectic and innovative musicians on the scene today she is constantly redefining the goals and expectations of percussion. By combining superb technique, a profound appreciation of the visual and her astonishing musicality, Evelyn creates performances of such vitality that they almost constitute a new type of performance.
Evelyn gives more than 100 performances a year worldwide, performing with the greatest conductors, orchestras, and artists. For the first ten years of her career virtually every performance she gave was in some way a first - the first time an orchestra had performed with a percussion soloist, the first solo percussion performance at a venue or festival or the world premiere of a new piece. Her diversity of collaborations have included performances with artists such as Nana Vasconcelos, Kodo, Bela Fleck, Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, Emmanuel Ax, Sting, Kings Singers, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Fred Frith.
Evelyn has commissioned one hundred and fifty new works for solo percussion from many of the world's most eminent composers and also composes and records music for film and television. Her first high quality drama produced a score so original she was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards (BAFTA's); the UK equivalent of the Oscars.
Evelyn's recording career has been as illustrious as her performing and composing career. Evelyn's first CD, a recording of Bartok's Sonata for two Pianos and Percussion, won her a Grammy in 1988. A further two Grammy nominations followed, one of which she won in 2002 for a collaboration with Bela Fleck for Sony cl@ssical. Evelyn's twelfth solo CD, Shadow Behind the Iron Sun (BMG Records), was based on a radical concept and has once again questioned people's expectations. Despite working a relentless schedule Evelyn is in constant demand to release new recordings, twenty five so far.
Outside of actual performance the Evelyn Glennie brand is constantly exploring other areas of creativity. From writing a best selling autobiography, Good Vibrations, to collaborating with the renowned film director Thomas Riedelsheimer on a film called Touch the Sound, to presenting two series of her own television programmes (Soundbites) for the BBC, to regularly appearing on television across the world, which include The David Letterman Show (USA), Sesame Street (USA), The South Bank Show (UK), presenting and performing on Songs of Praise (UK), Commonwealth Games Festival Concert, This is Your Life (UK), 60 minutes (USA), PBS Profile (USA) and many more.
Evelyn's activities also include lobbying the Government on political issues, her consortium with Sir James Gallway, Julian Lloyd Webber and the late Michael Kamen successfully led to the government providing 332 million pounds towards music eduction. Other aspects include Evelyn Glennie Images which supplies photographs from a vast image library of Evelyn, Evelyn Glennie Jewellery, which is a range of Jewellery designed in conjunction with Ortak and based on her influences as a solo percussionist and Evelyn Glennie Merchandise. Evelyn is also an international motivational speaker to many diverse corporate companies and events. Evelyn also performs with Orchestras on the Great Highland Bagpipes.
After 20 years in the music business she has begun teaching privately, which allows her to explore the art of teaching and to explore the world of sound therapy as a means of communication.
In 1993 Evelyn was awarded the OBE (Officer of the British Empire). This was extended in 2007 to 'Dame Commander' for her services to music and to date has received over 80 international awards. She is brimming with ideas to improve the experience for the audience and continues to redefine the very format of live performance itself."
So if you bothered to read that I suppose you're probably reasonably impressed. But you might be wondering just why is it then that, other than perhaps a personal preference for percussion over operatic singing, just why is it I'm so much more impressed with Miss Glennie's achievements over Bocelli's? What that biography doesn't mention is the fact that similar to Bocelli Evelyn was born with a problem. You see her hearing wasn't so good and it diminished year by year so that by the same age that Bocelli went completely blind, at age 12 Evelyn became profoundly deaf. You read that right. One of the best and most highly respected percussionists in the world is deaf.
Despite her ever diminishing hearing Evelyn slowly began to notice that every tiny vibration that her percussive instruments made resonated and vibrated in different parts of her body depending upon the various pitches of the waves. Noting all these differences she became so attuned to all their differing wavelengths that she could tell the exact pitch of every note of music by how and where it resonated in her body to the point that even if she doesn't look at the drums she is striking she can feel exactly what she's playing to such an amazing degree of accuracy that along with her amazing playing level skill she has become...well all those things you read about above.
Unfortunately Miss Glennie often delves into somewhat formless sound projects that I'm not a keen fan of and so over the years I've sort of drifted away from her world. Recently on HuluPlus I ran across a little quasi-documentary called Touch the Sound which follows her wandering around the world playing with folks and unfortunately (for me anyways) a little too much of that aforementioned sound noodling. But one aspect of it was highly interesting to me as it documented a brief session in which Glennie was teaching a young deaf girl how their deafness can make them better percussionists than people with full hearing. It's really quite amazing to watch her face light up as she realizes that music is not really all that gone from her world of dominating silence.
So yeah...Bocelli was pretty neat and gosh was he ever popular. But you know who really impresses me...?
Once upon a time there was a girl who had 7 invisible horses. People thought she was crazy and that she in fact had 7 imaginary horses, but this was not the case. When autumn came the girl spent a whole day washing all her clothes. She hung them on a string in her garden to let the gentle autumn sun dry them. Out of nowhere, a terrible storm came and its fierceful winds grabbed a hold of all her clothes and all seven horses (authors note: since they are invisible they obviously didn't weigh much). The girl was devastated and spent all autumn looking for each horse spread around the country, wrapped in her clothes.
All photographs and text courtesy Ulrika Kestere: Ulrikakestere.com/
And don't forget to stop by her daily blog: Ulicam.blogspot.com
Oh gosh it has been a while eh? Well truth be told things have been exceedingly awful as of late but yea verily finally the fates stopped kicking me as I lay on the ground for months and month and I've been allowed to stand once again...but for how long? Anyhoo...I have some things somewhat planned in my head for some film oriented blogs concerning getting all learned up on various sub-genres that I've been wallowing in as of late, although knowing me who knows if they will come to fruition? But for now lets start things off once again in a slightly lazy fashion by posting a bunch of pictures in which I can't really comment on in any sort of reasonable manner...such a lazy bum I am but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.
This is Korean artist Yong-Ho Ji and the hulking bit of rubber standing alongside him is his current stock and trade -- sculptures constructed out of old used tires. These sculptures range from small busts to life-sized horses and bulls as well as a few other fanciful creatures. Yong-Ho Ji grew up in an environment in which there was a great deal of heated debate over the morality of genetic engineering. This combined with his great admiration for the works of Charles Darwin fed his imagination for how life forms might continue to evolve and mutate. Thus was born the artist's current obsession namely mutations and creating sculptures out of cast off rubber discarded by humanity. He wasn't too happy working with other material but with rubber he feels he can more accurately create musculature, skin and hair both of a normal animal from our known world as well as ones that have been further mutated in his imagination.
Hope you enjoyed more of my wanderings through the sometime strange paths art leads us down.