New Blog Challenge! :: Images

More details to come, but for now I’ll just leave this here…
(Don’t you love a good mystery???)

Max Ernst "The Kiss" (1927)

 [ Image source & painting info on Guggeheim.org ]
I suggest you read up, especially if you’re into “exuberant lasciviousness”…

This was one of my favorite paintings at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection* in Venice. It’s just so striking and strange. Haunting but also happy. Feels a little incomplete. And that BLUE! Couldn’t you just swim in it?

Take it away, blog challengers!

Everyone else: you’re certainly invited to be inspired, too. What do you think?

*I’ve waxed gaga over this place a handful of times before. (At least once during ABC Challenge.) Let’s all go to there…

Sweet Caroline (Kennedy)

I don’t often make this type of blanket statement, because even BFFs disagree every once in a while, but I am fairly confident that a requirement for truly getting along with me is enjoying—at least a little bit—watching The Kennedy Center Honors.

This annual televised celebration of the arts was on last night, and I meant what I said when I tweeted about “Artsy-kid Super Bowl.” It’s one of those TV events I look forward to every holiday season, nestled snugly between Christmas and New Year’s, one last confetti-bomb of inspiration before we call it quits for the year and set creative goals for the new one.

This year (honoring Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, and, new to me, Sonny Rollins and Barbara Cook) was maybe the best yet (although last year’s Oprah / Paul McCartney one-two punch was pretty unbelievable). I love, but love the Kennedy Center Honors. When else do you get to see the President and First Lady all tuxed-up and rocking out to a lineup of tributes featuring Elmo, Stephen Colbert, James Taylor, and Anne Hathaway in all her plucky, song-belting glory?

Star-studded tributes, be in my LIFE!

The KCH has just absolutely so much that I love in one 2-hour block of television:

  • Awards-show atmosphere
  • Fancy dress
  • The President & First Lady valuing the arts (and lookin’ good)
  • Lifetime achievement montages (it’s an entire show of moving bio footage & tribute performances. it’s the best.)
  • Dance numbers
  • Surprise celebrity appearances
  • Dreams earned and honored
  • A general sense of overcoming-your-foibles-to-create-something-meaningful
  • The pure celebration of artistic greatness. No cynicism or irony or snark. Just joy.

The pure joy of a long life well-lived. Creativity and art and music and performance and literature. These are things that people do. We’ve invented a lot of shit, collectively: Nuclear weapons. Acid wash jeans. Nicholas Sparks novels… But we also come up with greatness, sometimes. And when we do, it’s really really great.

One of my favorite, favorite things is being completely surprise-inspired by an artist of another field. Totally happened tonight with the music people:

‎”If you can get to the point where you are ready to use every joy, every death, every lover who left you…if you’re willing to explore that within the song…you cannot be wrong.”  —Barbara Cook

“The very place where safety lies for us is the place that seems most dangerous: that is having the courage to let people into what life has really done to us.”  —Barbara Cook

“Every day I make an effort to go toward what I don’t understand.”
—Yo-Yo Ma

“Mister Yo-Yo Ma taught Elmo that music is like a playground.”  —Elmo

Yo-Yo(ba)ma -- (does that work?)

So let’s go back to the no-snark idea. This thing is #hashtag-proof, or at least it should be… (I was tweeting favorite #KennedyCenterHonors moments myself last night, alongside fellow nerds…)

Googling around for quotes and info just now, I found that the AV Club review gave the show a “C-”, criticizing the over-the-topness of it all. My point exactly, blogosphere. The writer’s tone is this snide “well, as if people ever really feel honored or excited or moved…” over-analyzation that leaves me feeling sad. For him. (Poor Phil Nugent, have you ever enjoyed something, purely, without pausing to mock it with your clever observations, in your life? Have you ever experienced anything beautiful or true without lifting your leg on it immediately afterwards? I bet you don’t think that beautiful or true things exist. Poor, poor Phil Nugent…)

My generation is afraid to celebrate anything unironically. We have got to just stop that. Stop it, now. Somebody has to keep believing in the arts so that in decades to come, we’ll still have musicals and jazz and well-acted movies with scripts that rise above Stephenie Meyer adaptations written to fill seats with tweens.

We can do it, guys. We can give a shit about something for a change. C’mon! It’s a new year!! Let’s do it! (Does splits like Anne Hathaway. Unironically.)

You have to finish the hat.

Stephen Sondheim was on Colbert Report again tonight. Both those interviews have been absolute treats. Double the Stephen, double the fun. It doesn’t happen often, but I love when you can see Colbert almost crack character, and you know he is genuinely in awe of whomever he is interviewing.

Tonight Stephen C. told Stephen S. that when he first explained to his mom why he wanted to be a performer, he showed her the lyrics to “Finishing the Hat.” I’ve never seen Sunday in the Park with George (have seen the painting that inspired it twice. The first time was in 2005, above. Pre-digital style.), so I had to look up the lyrics to see what he meant.

And now I see what he means.

While Colbert the character complained about the complexity of Sondheim’s lyrics, Colbert the person seemed grateful that someone had put his feelings in words:
Art is never finished…Artists want to feel understood…People who love artists have to understand unfinished feelings…

(Sondheim said it better):

Let her look for me to tell me why she left me
As I always knew she would.
I had thought she understood.
They have never understood,
And no reason that they should.
But if anybody could…
Finishing the hat,
How you have to finish the hat.
How you watch the rest of the world
From a window
While you finish the hat.

Mapping out a sky.
What you feel like, planning a sky.
What you feel when voices that come
Through the window
Go
Until they distance and die,
Until there’s nothing but sky
And how you’re always turning back too late
From the grass or the stick
Or the dog or the light,
How the kind of woman willing to wait’s
Not the kind that you want to find waiting
To return you to the night,
Dizzy from the height,
Coming from the hat,
Studying the hat,
Entering the world of the hat,
Reaching through the world of the hat
Like a window,
Back to this one from that.

Studying a face,
Stepping back to look at a face
Leaves a little space in the way like a window,
But to see
It’s the only way to see.

And when the woman that you wanted goes,
You can say to yourself, “Well, I give what I give.”
But the woman who won’t wait for you knows
That, however you live,
There’s a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat…
Starting on a hat..
Finishing a hat…
Look, I made a hat…
Where there never was a hat.

(See what I mean?)