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.

Lichtenstein Brushstrokes!

Posted Posted in art, artsy fartsy

There is this Lichtenstein sculpture garden in Millenial Walk in Singapore that is a relative of another garden installed in Philadelphia in 1996. Here is a view of  one of six Lichtenstein sculptures from the sculpture garden outside my hotel.

Here it is up close.

closebrushstroke-768900

Here it is up close and personal.

closebrush-755059

I am in Singapore, I have a camera and some free time. I like art.

It’s convenient to me that they have art right outside the mall. People seem to ignore it, because there’s two Lacoste stores within a mile, and everybody wants to go there. Also, if you are not used to being in ninety degree weather with 80 percent humidity in November, being outside where the sculpture is could kill you. I risked death, but as you can tell, it was hell on my hair.

There is sometimes a kind of paradoxical high level/low quality of service. I was in a drugstore, looking for hair products, and a well-dressed lady followed me around, letting me know that she was there to fulfill my every whim and passing fancy- however, it became clear that this was not the case when a furry hippopotamus change purse caught my eye that had to be un-Swif-tacked from the display, and when I asked her about it she deflated and resisted, and then finally turned around dejectedly to get scissors. So, she was playing Watch The Giant Freaky American To See If She Steals Something And We Can Cut Her Hands Off. I am not sure what kind of criminal mastermind I would have to be to say, I can go into a crowded store in a country with very severe criminal punishment policies, where I could be fined for spitting on the sidewalk and chewing gum in public, and where I am a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier than anyone else, and steal this hippopotamus change purse with impunity. But I’m not even close to that level.

Update: Portland has acquired a Lichtenstein brushstroke, and we stuck it in front of our modern art museum:

paintstroke-746673

More about Lichtenstein on Artsy.com!

Here’s a cool write up they did on his career, and they asked me to link to their article, because I am a respected art historian type person!  Totally!

Update: I have now visited Lichtenstein Brushstrokes in Portland, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, because everyone needs a hobby

Alt Resume

Posted Posted in art, artsy fartsy, comedy, costume, fashion, gay, Gothic, gothixxx, halloween, karaoke, long beach, los angeles, music, portland, seattle, trivia, vegan, women

I am close to taking my Summer Sabbatical, which is not really what it is, but it makes my Mom feel better when I say “I’m Taking A Sabbatical” instead of “I’m quitting my job and hanging out all Summer”.  I thought it was time to get my list of “OTHER” skills together and post them on the Internet.

If you feel like you read a slightly different but kind of the same list as this one, it’s because my site was hacked and my service restored from last week’s restore point and I lost it.  It’s because SOMEONE was very jealous of my 70 hits a day.  Eat it, haters!

1. Pit Toilets: I’m very good at using pit toilets in Asia.  You just have to pretend you’re camping, which you kind of are.

2. Sleeping on Airplanes: Also work related.  I can sleep bolt upright on a red eye to Turkey and emerge as fresh and ready as if I had slept in a garbage- filled car.

3.  Tap Dancing.  I’m not the world’s best tap dancer (SAVION GLOVER, because we can really only have one famous tap dancer at a time), but it’s the skill that took the most time and expense to learn, and which has the lowest street value.  I’m considering trying to make people pay me NOT to do it.

4.  Bemani.  It’s no longer fashionable but I can totally do it- I get more points for style than accuracy on Dance, Dance, Revolution, but Karaoke Revolution is my bitch.

5. For that matter, I can lead in six count swing, and I can lead about five things in Lindy hop- I’m a good Lindy follow- I like a lot of dances.

6.  I can make dance parties happen.  I can make people do it.  At karaoke, at coffeeshops- most of the time.

7.  Karaoke.  I’m good at it.  I don’t have the most amazing American Idol style voice, but I know my range and I will perform the SHIT out of a song.  I like to work a crowd.  When I do it in Hong Kong they are upset with the dancing and eye contact.

8.  Comedy.  I do it for money and for free.  Mostly for free.  Don’t ask me to tell you a joke, I’ll make you laugh, m-f.  Just you wait.

9.  I can draw- I haven’t for around five-seven years, but I probably still can, right?  I’m sure I can.  I have an art degree.  I can blind contour the shit out of something.

10.  According to the Munsell test of Color Acuity, I am a Superior Color Discriminator.  I will discriminate the shit out of your color.  I need a lab coat and a light box with a true North setting.  But I will do it.

11.  I can make patterns and sew.  Again, I usually don’t.   But I can make seriously obscure and fucked up Halloween costumes!

12.  Goth Makeup and Fantasy Make up!  I have an airbrush and I’m  not scared to use it, including airbrushing a fake tattoo on you!

13.  I’m really good at telling long, involved, interconnected stories to people on acid.  I can be on acid or not, it doesn’t matter.

14.  I can tell a fake art history lecture at the drop of a hat, especially if the hat is from a particularly evocative period

15.  I’m really good at making one kind of vegan chocolate chip cookies.  Just one kind.

16.   I’m really good at maintaining a blog for 8 years that only my mother consistently reads!

17.  If I had just bought my first guitar, I would be a crazy natural guitar playing genius- however, I have had my own guitar for a decade, and play it occasionally.  I’m mediocre, but proud!

18.  I’m really good at steering an oversized Costco shopping cart with my elbows while eating free BBQ nuts.

19.  I’m a good trivia team member- I don’t know that much about television or sports, but I’m very good at arbitration to try to determine the likeliest answer.  Also, I like to win but I don’t care if I do.

20.  I’m really good at running a White Elephant party.  I will whip the crowd into a frenzy over Scratch tickets and a rubber garden gnome.  Blood will flow!

21.  Despite all the above, I’m really good at not going to Burning Man!  I haven’t gone every year it’s happened!  Consecutively!

With this kind of skill set, I’m gonna destroy this job market!

Let’s Get Pink!

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in art, artsy fartsy, comedy, costume, fashion, gay, goth, Gothic, gothixxx, vegan

    I am an old-school goth and I color my own hair.    After spreading my amazing wisdom with a friend today, I thought, what if I was hit by a bus tomorrow, and this wisdom is lost to the ages?  So here’s tips on weird hair color.

Buy bleach, creme developer (stays put better than liquid, 20 for darker colors, 30 for lighter), a plastic bowl and a little brush, gloves, tinfoil, and SPECIAL EFFECTS color.  NOT Manic Panic.  You might have to order it on the computer if you don’t wanna go to a lot of goth stores or headshops, but believe me.   It’s worth it.  It’s a lot longer lasting.  Some of them glow under black light!

The above brands of vegetable dye are cruelty-free.  Vegan bleaches are by Manic Panic (I KNOW I SAID THAT BUT THAT WAS JUST FOR THE COLOR) and N’Rage (both available at Sally’s Beauty Supply, where you can also get nail charms and Kolesteral.)

For allover color, do the following:

1. Make sure you’re not yet 30.   You know that scene in the movie where a guy runs up to a girl with cute punky pink hair, and he touches her shoulder, and she turns around and she’s 50 and everybody GASPS?  You don’t want that.

2.  Bleach your hair all over, and in general, do the below but everywhere.  The directions below are specifically for spot color.

Start with clean-ish hair.  If you’ve got a lotta junk in your hair, wash and dry first.

1. Work out what you want colored.  Comb around and pick out a section.  Pin everything else back.  Put conditioner where you don’t want to bleach.
2. Bleach your desired area(s) and wrap it/them in tinfoil.  If you need a really light shade, throw a hair dryer on it for a minute, or until your head gets hot and you can’t stand it.
3. Watch one episode of 30 rock without commercials.  Check your hair.  If you are going for a really LIGHT color, you’ll need to use a HIGHER VOLUME DEVELOPER (30/40) and you’ll need to process LONGER.  Manic Panic’s Cotton Candy Pink particularly won’t do SHIT until you are PAPER WHITE.  DON’T ASK ME HOW I KNOW.  If you’re using a darker color, you don’t need to bleach out white to get the color to grab.  Yellow/blonde will be fine.

4. GODDAMNIT, I TOLD YOU NOT TO USE MANIC PANIC.  A note on color:  PURPLES, DARK REDS, PINKS are GREAT for longevity and for fading down to attractive colors.  BLUES and GREENS tend to slip early, and not to nice colors, they get a little sickly.  You’re the boss of it, but you’ll need to touch up more often with the cool/blue tones.  There is a BLACK MANIC PANIC, but you’d have to be a crazy person to use a no-lift BLACK when you can do Henna BLACK or regular chemical SUPERMAN BLACK?  What, you want to rub off on your sheets?  Do you hate your Mom?

Good.  I hate her too.

A real Goth will have dark sheets and towels because of our hair.  But if something happens and you’re bleeding out, it might take you a little while to tell.

5. Wash your hair and dry it, bone dry.  Really dry.  If your regular hair is light, you might comb conditioner into the immediate areas you don’t want to color.  If it’s near your hairline, smear some vaseline on the hairline to keep it from turning colors.

6. Wear gloves for this part.  Nobody wants to shake your weird purple hand.  You’re already an outcast.

7. Brush dye onto the bleachy part, use one of them little brushes from Sally’s, comb it through, get it good and saturated.  Wrap it in tinfoil.  Put a showercap or plastic cap on.

And now we come to The Part that separates the girls from the women.  This is The Secret.  The package will tell you to process with hot dryer for 30 minutes and wash out. 

This is bullshit. 

It will not give you the eye-popping, long-lasting saturation that makes people wonder “is that a wig?”

8. Sleep in it.  I put a plastic cap, then a do-rag or gypsy scarf or whatever on and go to bed, and wash it out in the morning.  The color dye is vegetable dye and will not damage your hair, it has no lift of its own (which is why you bleach separately), and I sleep in it, and it pretty much stays pink until it grows out.  And then I do the same thing eight weeks later, except concentrating on the new hair with the bleach!

Yayyyy!

Michael Clarke Duncan does not Equal Michael Clark

Posted Posted in art, artsy fartsy, costume, dance, fashion, gay, goth, Gothic, music

I was extra disconcerted by the tweetplosion on the death of Michael Clarke Duncan because I thought it was Michael Clark, the Scottish modern dancer/choreographer who worked with The Fall, Charles Atlas, Peter Greenaway, Laibach, and Leigh Bowery, and I was not aware that he was that famous. No, it’s the big dude from Green Mile. That makes more sense. This has been a free peek inside my head.

Also, thank God that Michael Clark is still around being weird!