What’s Good?

Posted Posted in acting, art, comedy, podcast, Uncategorized

Q: What’s Good?

Well, hey, to determine what’s good, we first have to define it, right?

Moral Good

Good can mean morally good: that is, what a society decides is moral. Right now, in this moment – on a Tuesday in March- it is good to sit inside by yourself, and bad to go outside in large groups.  Usually, the opposite is true. It’s good to help others and bad to hoard toilet paper.  

 We think that being a good person is to be of service to others, and to do what is moral, which we pretend is a constant and not something we made up.

500 years ago, it was good to follow church doctrine and bad to question it, as Martin Luther found out.  It was also good to give virgin brides away to strange monarchs, but which someone would probably ask about today. 

 1000 years ago, it was good to burn heretics at the stake, and it was good to be strong.  The whole world was amassing armies and conquering land. China invented paper printed money, which is what power is based on now.  

Looking Good

  A second meaning of good is the aesthetic meaning. This can either mean something that you personally enjoy, or something of superior quality.  The first meaning is subjective, and the second is a societal construct, but we confuse them with each other, and also with the moral meaning of good.  

  To say that something is aesthetically good is to say that based on my background, life experiences, and context, I value it.  My peers, who might have similar background and life experiences, may also value it, which makes me value it more.  

  In The Last Man On Earth and in the Good Place, characters value objects that nobody else appreciates. Phil’s hoard of art in his mansion, or Eleanor’s excitement over a bedpan made famous in a wrestling match: they now have to explain to the people around them what makes these things good, which means they’re not.

  The second meaning of aesthetically good is that something is well-made, as in: is the new Avengers movie any good?  Well, does it have a bunch of characters in shiny outfits and a scary CGI monster? Is Robert Downey Jr. snarky in it? Does Thor not understand something about Earth despite living here kind of a long time and we all laugh at him, even though he’s handsome?  Do the Avengers splinter off and fight and get mad at each other but then they come together and fight the CGI monster and they’re friends in the end? Is there a rock song in it that was expensive to get, but which is played a little too loudly during a very exciting scene? Well, then, that’s what we expect, and it’s good.  

 When you say an Avengers movie is bad- what were your expectations? Did you hope that a character would arrive at a universal truth about human suffering, and that the actor portraying that character would get an important award?  That’s not the yardstick we measure Avengers movies by.

 In performance, to be good is to conform to the current fashion- a hundred years ago, a good singer would sing in a high, reedy voice, and now we like a wide tone and someone who does a lot of vocal switches, which we used to call yodeling.  Good acting in Shakespeare’s time was planting your feet at shoulder width and yelling your lines as loudly as you could.  

  Sometimes we get confused about the two meanings of “good” in art. This is the thought that because you did not personally enjoy something, it’s not good- but in the surfer relativism of The Big Lebowski, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.   Your thoughts on a thing does not really affect its value. If people ever really understand that, Twitter will wither and die.

What’s Good In Fine Art?

 Most art needs context of some sort to be judged- Jackson Pollock paintings are considered good because they were the first really well-known abstract paintings, and because he died only a few years after his best work was made. The value of the paintings his widow was selling to MOMA shot up because, as she pointed out,  there wouldn’t be any more, and that sale created the market for modern art in America, and his peers got rich. If we showed the paintings to an alien or a Maori tribesman, they probably would not consider them good, because they don’t look like anything in particular, but sort of look like lots of things, and why are you putting colors on a fabric square anyway?

     The last episode of the Good Place finds every character trying to achieve their definition of good: Tahani believes that being able to do everything beautifully is good.  Chidi thinks understanding everything is good. Eleanor determines that being good is helping others. 
Jason achieves his definition of good the earliest, as he gets the perfect score in Madden playing as the Jaguars, but reaches yet another level of perfection years later, through achieving inner peace and oneness with nature.

What’s Good?

  I’m a middle-class white woman raised in the South with both religion and MTV, so things I think are good are:

The musty smell of clothing in vintage shops, and the smell of old bookshops.

The moment in a song where the drums lock into syncopation with the guitar, and it sounds like a little machine ticking along.

Black clothing and things that are shiny, because my visual aesthetic was made by 80’s postpunk music videos and has never developed after that.

Cookies n’ cream milkshakes.

Petting a dog who has just dried off from a bath and is very soft, and he’s still unhappy that he got the bath, but being petted afterwards makes it worth the bath, sort of.  

 They’re not universal, except maybe the dog one, but to me, they’re good.

Jackie Kashian’s Dork Forest!

Posted Posted in acting, art, Bowie, comedy, film, goth, music, podcast

jackie kashian david bowie virginia jones the dork forest labyrinth

I got to do an episode of the incredible Dork Forest Podcast with Jackie Kashian, whom I inundate with Labyrinth trivia. We also try to help her figure out the difference between David Bowie and Billy Idol.  Jackie is a legend and I love her, I love Labyrinth, and I love all of you.

Check it out: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-dork-forest/id210939624?mt=2&i=1000402149479

If Buffalo Bill Had A Personal Assistant

Posted Posted in acting, artsy fartsy, comedy, gay, Gothic

buffalo-bill has a personal assistant comedy

MONDAY: It picks up the silk kimonos from the cleaners.  It checks the ticket very, verrry carefully before it gets back into its Geo Metro, to make sure it has the right number of kimonos.  We do not want to punish It like last time.   It’s harder on Us than on It.

TUESDAY: It sorts tax receipts.  It puts mileage receipts in the blue envelope, it puts business purchases in the pink envelope, and it puts tattoo-and-piercing related expenses in a manila envelope.  IT DOES NOT SPEND ALL DAY FUCKING AROUND ON FACEBOOK!  Nobody wants to see a photo of what It ate for lunch, the food makes It look and smell disgusting.

WEDNESDAY:  It brings a fruit plate for Jenny’s baby shower.  It chooses a fruit plate with a lot of strawberry and pineapple and not as much melon or kiwi.

THURSDAY:  We apologize for saying that it smells disgusting.  It sometimes does not smell very bad.  We still need It to dust the house, and also to collect all loose teeth into a Mason jar.

FRIDAY: It gets paaaaid.  Yayyyy.  It can buy all the tacky blue mascara and Lee Press-on Nails it wants.  It cashes Its check right away, so that it does not appear outstanding on our bank balance.  It is on call all weekend, so It does not turn Its phone off!  Its phone is never off!

Life in HOLLYWOOD

Posted Posted in acting, comedy, los angeles

The Casting Call

The audition call asked for 50’s style plus-sized glamour queens who would be mean to their worshipful boyfriends. This is my jam. I frequently get calls for big booty ladies. Totally fine.  It’s how I worked with Chivo.  

The director (of the music video) is half of a popular absurdist Adult Swim comedy duo Tim and Eric, and I thought it would be pretty cool to work for him.

The Waiting Room

They asked actresses to audition in lingerie, which is again, fine.

I went to the waiting room and waited with five other bodacious ladies, most bigger than me, one smaller but very pinup looking in her overall look.

One girl goes in and comes out and reports to the group, uh, they want you to bend over and they film your butt. So we all kind of process that, and another girl leaves. I stay because I’m more curious than ever. I’ve seen Wareheim’s video for Pon the Floor and it’s very funny/surreal and it has a lot of butts in it.

One lady leaves halfway through her audition. She said, I couldn’t do that, man.  She walks out before I find out what she couldn’t do.  Is it the same thing that Meatloaf couldn’t do?

The next lady comes out and basically mocks the women who left, she said, I’ve had it way worse, this is fine.  It’s the petite pinup lady.

The Audition

So it’s my turn, I’m in a room with four dudes and they say, we want to show you the concept art so we don’t waste each other’s time, and they show me paintings by Namio Harukawa of large women sitting on dude’s faces, and they ask, hey, are you cool with this?  Sitting on a man’s face?  And I said, am I cool with making porn? And they said, no, it’s not porn. And I said, well, I’m ok with simulated sex, but what is simulated about this?

One guy says, well, there’ll be a dental dam in between you.

What?

I ask, if I have sex with a condom, isn’t that sex? I need to have pants between me and a stranger’s face.  Underpants, minimum.

This whole conversation is dumb anyway, because the reason I wanted to be in this video with Famous Ironic Misogynist is so I could put it in my reel, and I don’t think a clip of me riding face is going to get me the acting work I want.

I see the next day that they “extended casting” to get some more “adventurous ladies”, because they had a lot of fallout.  If anyone’s listening, I suggest you change the call to read “We need you to park your naked keister on a dude’s face.”  There’s plenty of porn actresses that would be delighted to do it, for their day rate!  Don’t cheap out, cheap-os!  Hollywood!

The Aftermath

Update: the video is out, it’s Dripping by Blonde Redhead, and it’s beautifully lit and shot- but super NSFW.  I don’t dislike kink or this kind of art, I just resent that I was being sold it like it was a non-union acting gig, and I realize I’m a little tired of the trope of misogyny/sexualizing/mocking of plus sized women that Wareheim seems to work exclusively in.  That joke isn’t funny anymore, as the sometimes plus-sized Morrissey sang.