Monday, December 31, 2018

Sophie Blackall - still a terrible artist

Surely Sophie Blackall being given a Caldecott Medal for illustration in 2016 demonstrates that it's who you know, not what you know and Sophie Blackall must have known the Caldecott judges. I find it hard to believe that anybody, unless they were bribed or blind, would give Sophie Blackall an award for illustration.

As I discussed at great length a few years ago, Sophie Blackall cannot draw perspective. At all. 

And  she still can't. Here is her drawing of the same lighthouse from two different perspectives:


Notice how in Blackall's understanding of perspective, if you view windows in a lighthouse from above, the windows shrink and the space between the windows grows.

Google Maps now has some amazing 3-D capabilities and here's how the 3-D New London Harbor Lighthouse looks at approximately the same angles. Notice how space does not expand between the windows and the door when you view the lighthouse from the top. 

Now when I looked at the two pages of the book that Blackall illustrated I didn't realize consciously that the space between the windows was not correctly adjusted by her in changing the perspective on the lighthouse - but I knew at first glance that something did not look right.

Clearly Blackall just can't be bothered to make an effort to look at examples of perspective and then do it right.

But why should Blackall bother to make an effort? She got the Caldecott despite being a terrible artist.

This is why awards for the arts are meaningless - there's no control for the tasteless cretins who may come to dominate awards committees.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The ugliness of French media

The stars of the first season (only one I will watch)
of Spiral - there is Gregory Fitoussi,
that rarest of French
male media stars - an attractive one.
I want to thank this English writer for pointing out something that is not pointed out often enough:
...for male French stars, being good looking is not a requirement. Better that you look like an aged, post coital rhino who has been rutting in a swamp all night, or if you have a nose like a deformed butternut squash. In L’Homme Du Train, Johnny Halliday is meant to be sexy, despite looking like a crocodile handbag with a wig on. Add Serge Gainsbourg, Gerard Depardieu and Jean Reno into the mix and you’ve got yourself a great big buffet of ugly quiche.
This is something I noticed early on in my voyage to learn French by watching French media.

This is one reason why it's so hard to watch French films and TV, even for the sake of learning French - the male actors are almost all ugly AF. This isn't just a French preference for ugly people - the women in French media are beautiful and young. Only the men are allowed to be - nay, expected to be - old and ugly

This use of old ugly men as film stars in France tells you everything you need to know about how much French culture is still completely dominated by men. Although if you need further convincing just read about how fucked up and sexist Cannes is.

And of course the beautiful young French women actors are expected to play scenes in which they are incredibly attracted to ugly old men.

The worst example of this I've seen so far is the first episode of a TV series called "A French Village." It's set during WWII and the first episode opens by explaining that Nazis are invading. Directly after, we see a scene of a middle-aged businessman played by unattractive (of course) Thierry Godard (also in Spiral AKA Engrenages - you cannot avoid him if you watch French media) have sex with his mistress who is played by Nade Dieu who is twelve years younger and looks twenty years younger and is much better-looking (of course) than Godard.

Did I mention that while middle-aged businessman is having adulterous sex there is a Nazi invasion happening?

There are occasional exceptions to the ugly old French male actor rule- the previously-mentioned series Spiral has, in the first season at least, one handsome regular - one - played by Gregory Fitoussi but his relationship with the tough female cop that promises to get serious by the end of the first season (they hold hands in the last episode) has completely disappeared without explanation by the beginning of the second season, at which point I stopped watching Spiral, since without a worthwhile relationship to root for the show is basically one woman - or girl - after another being raped, tortured and murdered.

And there is no big "will they or won't they get together" of unexpressed sexual tension between the cop and Fitoussi's character - the first moments of the first episode the cop mentions that she finds Fitoussi's character attractive and by the second episode (or third but it's very early on) they end up in bed together and go on to have a very casual, no-strings, emotionally muted relationship that fizzles out by the second season. Ugh.

I also tried to watch the French TV series "Maison Close" about 19th century prostitutes but the male ugliness was extreme even by French standards - absolutely intolerable - and by the time I could see the young intelligent woman with a fiancee was about to get trapped into life as a prostitute I was done - couldn't even make it through the entire first episode.

And then there is the series "Call My Agent" which is all ugly older men having sex with attractive younger women - at the office - except for the rich handsome new owner of the agency who ends up having sex with and impregnating the agency's only lesbian. Is it any wonder that sexual harassment at French companies is completely insane?

I've heard good things about the show "Marseille" but not good enough for me to watch anything with fat ugly old Putin-loving alcoholic slob Gerard Depardieu in it.

Why do the French have a reputation for romance? Based on the French media I've seen, there is no romance, just a bunch of casual, unemotional hookups between pretty young women and (mostly) ugly old men. Who the hell wants to watch that, except ugly old men who don't really like women?

(And I detested the Oscar-winning film The Artist - I didn't realize until after I wrote this blog post that it was French - but I'm not surprised.)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Oh oh oh, joyeuses fetes!

I signed up for the mailing list of the Trogneux Chocolate company in Amiens France because why not? The Trogneux are relatives of Brigitte Macron (née Trogneux) so I was curious.

Anyway, I received a message from them:
En cette période de fêtes, notre équipe (et le père Noël!) vous offrent 2 moulages "tête de père Noël" pour toute commande effectuée sur notre site internet du 10 au 16 décembre avec le code CHOCOHOHOH De nombreuses surprises gourmandes vous attendent également en boutique. 
vôtre, Jean Trogneux
I'm excited because I can mostly translate it without cheating:
'In this holiday time, our team (and Santa) offer you two moulages (I said mostly*) "head of Santa" for all who asked on our internet site December 10 - 16 with the code CHOCOHOHOH - Many gourmet surprises equally wait in the boutique."
yours, Jean Trogneux 
le tête de père Noël

Their Santa doesn't say "ho ho ho" he says "oh oh oh" which sounds to an anglophone like he just spilled the milk that came with his cookies. But the French never pronounce the H at the beginning of a word so might as well spell it like you say it, right? One of my French teachers from FIAF once sent me an email in which she laughed but instead of "ha ha" she said "ah ah" which sounds like the way Sesame Street's Count Von Count laughs.

There is a French version of the Count by the way. Here he is with his chave-souris. (Bats, but literally in French  "bald-mice")

(* I had to look up "moulage" which means "mold" as in they poured the chocolate into a mold that was in the shape of Santa's head - it sounds like a rather technical inside-baseball way to refer to a piece of chocolate when communicating to the public. But that's just anglophone me, I guess.)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Those crazy Cramps

My ex-boyfriend John the manic-depressive autodidact with the lightning wit (when he wasn't suicidally depressed) loved The Cramps and had all their albums. He went to see their show too, but I never went with him. I wish I did now, they were wild as you can see in this video. 

I was kind of a snob then and I thought they were excessively trashy - not appreciating, at the time, the fun of trashiness, but when you are a single mother working shit jobs and living in Pennsauken NJ you're always on the verge of being actual white trash, and so performative trash is not nearly so amusing. But now, from the perspective of New York City in the twenty-first century in middle age it looks like hella fun. 

Part of the problem was that I didn't like most of their songs, but there are three I really do like - "People Ain't No Good" which is currently in one of my iTunes playlists, "What's Inside a Girl" and "The Call of the Wighat." 

The great thing about Wighat was that the lyrics sounded like they were written by a psychobilly Dr. Seuss. I actually drew a Seussian series of illustrations of the lyrics which I have around here somewhere. It was pretty funny.

I can still hear momma calling "Junior get home. What's got into you, what's that on your dome?"
I wasn't their biggest fan but I was fond enough to note the death of Lux Interior on this blog almost 10 years ago. He died of an aortic dissection. RIP.

He lived a full life though. Here he is living it up performing in Belgium in 1986.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Wisdom from composer Frank Wilhoit

The entire discussion is here.

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:

There must be in-groups whom the law protectes but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

Wilhoit's Broadheath Music.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Pensées des gilets jaunes

Outline of Texas over a map of France
Being busy with projects and working for The Man has sure cut down on my blogging time.

I've been keeping an eye on the French protest movement "gilets jaunes" and it has revealed many surprising things about French society. 

The stories about the gilet jaunes always quote the people participating in the demonstrations claiming to be poor. Reminiscent of the way that it was accepted that Trump voters were economically insecure instead of racist, because all the stories about Trump supporters were basically a string of quotes from the supporters with very little context.

Of course it's easier to write a story by simply quoting one or more people than by providing context but I expect better of The New Yorker. The author of a recent New Yorker gilets jaunes story, Alexandra Schwartz doesn't bother to provide any context in her interview - she just types up her questions and the response of a gay author who grew up in a conservative French city.

And without context Louis makes things sound much worse than they might seem to a non-French person. For instance he says:
(his family) live(s) in a small village in the middle of nowhere, so for them it’s difficult to go (to the demonstrations)
But "the middle of nowhere" means something very different in France than in the US. For one thing, France is about the size of Texas - actually Texas is bigger. So that means that the farthest any place in France is from the middle of somewhere - Paris - at the Spanish border, is a mere 7 and a half hour drive - the time it takes to drive from New York City to Cleveland Ohio.

And the city that Louis grew up in, Hallencourt, is a two hour drive to Paris and a 43 minute drive to Amiens the larger city that Louis reportedly fled to when he grew up and which is also the city where Emmanuel Macron grew up. Amiens is a bustling city. It may not be Paris but it's certainly not nowhere - so in truth Louis' family lives a three-quarter of an hour drive from somewhere and two hours from Paris. That's his concept of "the middle of nowhere"???

Elsewhere he says: 
It’s the body of people who are living in precarity, people from the North of France, or from the South of France, who don’t have money, who come from the kinds of families that haven’t gotten an education in five generations—families like mine.
Is that possible they "haven't gotten an education in five generations"? But I have been told what a great education system the French have including by my most recent French teacher - she said that unlike in the US where schools vary a lot in quality because they are dependent on the local taxes, in French they are supposed to be all the same because they are administered by the central government.

Some context would have been helpful there - are the schools in the north of France worse for some reason? - but Schwartz can't be bothered. Louis managed to get a good enough education that he became a best-selling author so the education can't be all that bad.

And I've been waiting for this - Putin hates Macron and wanted far-right Marine Le Pen to become president - so of course Russia wasted no time in getting involved in the gilets jaunes movement:
In the weeks since the gilets jaunes movement took off, Ryan Fox, COO of New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company that tracks Russian-related influence operations on Twitter, has noticed a network of accounts that his organization believes is connected to Russia shift its focus to France. Since October 28, these 340 accounts have created and amplified content about the brutality of the French police, Macron’s inability to lead the nation, and anti-NATO or anti-migrant sentiments more than 20,000 times, according to New Knowledge. Among the claims: Macron’s treatment of the gilets jaunes is worse than Bashar al-Assad’s treatment of Syrian rebels.

Monday, December 03, 2018

The latest Podcast

I really like this image which was painted by Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf.