Friday, January 16, 2009

Farewell Andrew Wyeth

The great American painter Andrew Wyeth died peacefully in his sleep today, abed in his beloved Pennsylvania. His works have been a profound source of encouragement and joy for most of my mature existence and I mourn his passing as I would a dear friend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Spidey Can Teach Obama

Yesterday a special issue of Spider Man's comic hit the stands in which he meets President-Elect Barack Obama (no, I did not buy it). Other than being a tawdry method of generating sales, as the fan website newsarama points out, there is a valuable lesson Spidey can impart to the incoming President:

The Press Isn't Your Friend!

As our friendly neighborhood wall crawler has learned time and again, getting your name in the headlines is not always grand. While Obama is unlikely to be called a "masked menace to society" any time too soon, as Spidey is daily in the editorial pages of the Daily Bugle (the comic book version of The New York Post), he will surely be the subject of many pundits ugly or uglier than J Jonah Jameson.

Note to Obama: Spidey usually responds by webbing Jameson's pants to a chair

96 Films To See Before Dying

The ever-intrepid Rollerkaty introduced me to a book that is sure to dominate the rest of her natural existence: 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Katy and her husband never have to worry about what to watch again, it's all right there in the book.

Pondering the huge commitment of watching more than one thousand "must-see" movies, I've found myself breaking out in cold shakes and developing strange skin afflictions -the pressure is too much! Don't get me wrong: an avid filmgoer since an early age, I have no doubt that I've seen at least a thousand movies. Putting it into such a formal list, however, makes the wieght of such viewing all too palpable and is for one so sensitive as myself an intolerable burden.

What to do? I've a notion...

What if the number were less? What if one were asked to watch two movies a week for one year in order to achieve cinema legitimacy? -the suggestion that movies exist we must see before death implies that not having seen them makes us somehow less. Wouldn't a lower number be more realistic?

While I do not necessarily adhere to the idea that you have to see certain movies in order to have "lived", there is nevertheless something wonderful in experiencing the arts that brings greater dimension to life. Stay tuned as I progress in narrowing the "96 Films To See Before Dying".

I'm open to suggestions. Please feel free to share a film or three that you consider essential.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Two Great Tastes...

The Shaw for Delicious Gluttony Must Be Stopped But Can't goes to: Haagen Dazs' Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream.

It gets inside. The other day I was reading that there's a parasite, toxoplasma gondii, that creates in its host an attraction to the smell of cat urine. I've got one of those, but for the smell of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Cal-Raven's Ladder

The Shaw for Most Anticipated Sequel in Books is...

-the third in Jeffrey Overstreet's Thread Series: Cal-Raven's Ladder. Auralia's Colors (image above) is the first, Cyndere's Midnight the second in Overstreet's four-part fantasy series. With each book, the storytelling gets better and the characters more engaging, and from what I've seen of the third book so far the author is continuing to take us onward and upward.

Check out this series to see why I am eagerly anticipating Cal-Raven's Ladder.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A World of Music and Ideas

This year's Shaw for Consistent Excellence in Radio Diversity goes to...

I am a recent convert to KBCS 91.3, having stumbled across them after my cassette player gave up the ghost. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, they have the most diverse/eclectic radio programming I've seen in a single station, mixing social consciousness with funk, jazz, soul, electronica, medieval, latin, zydeco, R&B, Indian ragga... the list goes on and on. They stream online and maintain an excellent archive of past shows: definitely worth checking out.

Spoiler Alert

I can always count on Wooster Collective for good material, and they have earned the Shaw this year for Best Spoiler Art for Family Film, with this graffiti:

(watch out, it's a spoiler)

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Shaw Award

Are you like me, fed up with all these award shows that operate on the same template? How many different ways do we want to be told what the best album/film/book of the year was? Oscar has one opinion, the Golden Globes another: different ceremonies, same award categories. Zzzz...

I'm looking for a more personal approach. We live in an age of You/Space/Book, where the things we love as individuals have a public platform. Rather than continue operating off the old model, I wish to suggest a new standard: The Shaw Award.

The Shaw Award is a cascade of highly-peculiar categories that directly respond to specific things that made a year great. Watch this space for the month of January to see just what I mean. In the spirit of the Oscars, these will be referred heretofore as "The Shaws".

The Shaw for the I'm Not Heath Ledger Performance of the Year award goes to:

The Joker!
(Not to be confused with Heath Ledger's other masterpiece, A Knight's Tale)

Seriously, watch The Dark Knight and see if Heath Ledger doesn't completely vanish inside his performance. It's one of the most incredible transformations of an actor I've ever seen.