Big fan of Kevin Smith. His tenacity, his commitment to his friends and fans and his willingness to follow his art no matter what anyone else thinks.
I love most of his movies (Dogma being my favorite and I did like Jersey Girl no matter what everyone else thinks of it.) his comic book work (the Daredevil run was great) and I am a big fan of his podcasts (#1 in my book is his original with his good friend Scott Mosier, Smodcast.)
Okay the #Oscars So White is a big deal to a lot of people. Claiming it is a symptom of a larger problem, maybe it is but I think the overall question is why do the Oscars really matter at all. It is a bunch of industry insiders, an business that is oversexualized and hung up on the outward trappings of wealth and power.
Movies can be magical, movies can elevate you to heights you never knew existed. Films can introduce you to new people, places and ideas that you never cared about and invite you care. The silver screen can act as transportation to magical and incredible places or sometimes just let you take a few steps in another person’s shoes.
The big screen has the ability to change you both in good and bad ways. Horror flicks can make you insensitive to others pain and suffering. Watching westerns sometimes creates an idealistic and/or naive view of American history. Romantic comedies fabricate an unrealistic view of relationships and sex. Too many science fiction movies can make you unattractive to the opposite sex . (Kidding of course, it usually comes from a combination of poor hygiene, lack of confidence and the inability to have intelligent conversations without making an obscure pop culture reference which the opposite sex doesn’t get.)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes on a yearly basis performances by actors, the direction given to those actors, the technical and artistic aspects expended to realize those performances into a coherent product and the writers who dreamed up the entire story. But the Academy Awards do not truly recognize what a movie means to a person.
One of my favorite movies The Karate Kid, was not anywhere near a nomination for an Academy Award the year it came out. (Terms of Endearment won in 1984, with the other films nominated being The Big Chill, The Dresser, The Right Stuff and Tender Mercies.) The Karate Kid story touches me on so many levels mainly because where I was in my life I was clueless about life and girls (basically the same thing to a teenage boy), I had studied karate at the time so I could see myself in the movie, and everyone at that age feels like they don’t fit in.
Now the training stuff in that movie was outright crap, you do not learn to block a kick or punch by waxing a car or painting a fence. Those chores may increase your muscular strength and endurance but they do not teach you to place you hand in the right place at the right time to stop a blow from landing. But the heart of good martial arts is there; only use martial arts for defense, balance, focus, concentration and learning to walk before you fly. The Karate Kid taught me that you can learn something from anyone, whether it is a skill, history or what is important in life. That friendship has nothing to do with age, background or race but about who stood by your side when you are going thru crap. That skill and knowledge have nothing to do with the clothes (or belt) you are wearing. Later on in life I have looked at the same movie and realized that everyone has a backstory: Mr. Miyagi with the loss of a wife, Aliee not wanting to live up to her parents expectations at their country club, even Johnny trying to change is life by turning down a joint when you first see him then rolling one in the bathroom later on. Any movie that lasts with you for thirty some years is truly a masterpiece, even if it only means that much to one person.
Another filmmaker that will probably never get an Academy Award is Kevin Smith, his movies are full of juvenile jokes, childish sight gags and way too much trivia, but at the heart of his movies is a celebration of friendship, love and life.
The black and white film Clerks may be about working a minimum wage job but it is also about finding and knowing what is important in life and that there are lot of beautiful girls in the world but not all of them will bring you lasagna. Dogma may have a crap monster, a sanctified golf club, and the late great Alan Rickman, sans genitilia, but it is also about believing in yourself and raising questioning about faith, god and religion in irreverent but smart fashion.
My favorite filmmaker will probably not be recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. I love Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Chasing Army, Red State and even Jersey Girl. I enjoy his movies, I have laughed and seen things a little bit differently, and in seeing things differently I have changed as a person. Isn’t that what the movies, and art in general, are truly about? Art is about the important things in life, not how many awards you do on do not win. We need more art in this world, art that brings us closer together, art that helps us rage against injustices, art that keeps our sense of wonder alive and movies that display love in all its different shapes and forms.
Let me first say, I am not an art aficionado. I am not even sure I could pick out an Impressionist artist from a Post Modernist . I am sure I could not tell a Renoir from a Ruben but I do know what a Rodin is. I would not know this except for a course in college I had to take, I don’t even remember the title something like “Art Appreciation” or “Art for Knuckleheads”. It was not something I was excited about (bored to tears would be a better term), but it was a requirement for graduation, you know like breathing is a requirement for life. What art appreciation had to do with a degree in Criminology I have no idea, it’s not like I, a country boy from Western PA was going to go to work for Interpol or some other made up police agency that investigated thefts from the Louvre.
At one point in the course each person had to write a paper about an artist. How I picked Rodin, I have no idea, it might even have been assigned by the teacher. As I started to do research I became engrossed. No so much by the sculptures themselves, that came a little later. I started to get into the stories of Augustus Rodin and how he worked with the models, the time he spent with each of them, their movements around his studio and his personal life which could be used for a soap opera. I was fascinated by the story behind “The Man with the Broken Nose”, how he used a local workman “Bibi”
as his model; or the girl modelling for “Eve” had to stop because of an unexpected pregnancy.
Less than a week ago, on the first Sunday of June, I was able to get to the Rodin Museum here in Philadelphia. I went by myself, which in hindsight was a good thing. The building is only one story with floor space probably equal to six good sized high school classrooms. The space is not crowded in the least with many of the larger pieces being placed so you can circle around them entirely.
The interior of the museum is elegant with marble floors in the main room and gorgeous hardwood floors in a smaller room which I could not find a name for so I just named it The Study because it has two large tables with padded chairs, suitable for sitting and writing. I was fortunate during my first visit because the wonderfully bright sunshine was coming thru the huge windows both illuminating the pieces within and enabling viewing of the larger pieces outside.
I decided to just absorb the place at first, so I put in my headphones, logged into the free Wi-Fi and turned on Pandora to Instrumental Folk Music and looked at every piece in the building. I feasted on Augustus Rodin’s art, then after a short ice tea and cheese popcorn break (purchased from Wawa just up the street, and consumed outside under the trees).
I began to use the free Rodin App, which has most of the pieces in an easy to follow menu, with a short audio piece accompanied with a variety of corresponding pictures.
After exhausting about half of the material in the app I latched onto a tour that had just begun and followed it thru all four major rooms inside then out into the gardens to learn about the grounds, including the Gates of Hell
and my favorite large piece the Burghers of Calais. The staff member giving the tour was excellent bringing along pictures of the artist at work on the pieces, and showing comparison photos of Michelangelo’s work and how it influenced Rodin’s.
Reading the reviews on Yelp and other promotional pieces on the Rodin Museum the term small and intimate were used quite frequently. One reviewer on Yelp talked about seeing it all in about a half hour. So I guess the three hours I spent there might be considered obsessive by some, and I might have crossed over from admirer to fan (fan being short for fanatic).
To be totally fair, the place was not perfect, there were numerous cobwebs on the Burghers of Calais (located on the eastern side of the building), which was a little distracting. The second minor deficiency was the Rodin App, while free needs to be updated because some of the pieces have been changed around since the app was completed. Granted these are minor complaints that did not detract too much from an amazingly enjoyable day.
Asking if I will go again would just be silly, of course I will go again, what will be hard is going to other museums here in Philadelphia and enjoying them just as much as the one dedicated strictly to François-Auguste-René Rodin.
“The silver rocket ship moved thru the inky blackness of deep space with a speed that was frightening to behold. ”
“Drivel, pure drivel.” The chef read across the screen over his crewmen’s head.
“Hey that is private.”
“Tsk, tsk young Bobby Joe, no one would will ever confuse you for Faulkner, you may share a common birthplace but your lack of education and deplorable dull wittedness marks you as never rising above the station you are in now.”
The young man muttered under his breath, turned off the computer screen and stomped away.
The chef laughed out loud and turned and found himself face to face with the Captain. “I am sorry Captain Lockstone I did not hear you enter, is there something I can get for you.”
“You really shouldn’t pick on Bobby Joe like that he is a good kid.”
“Nonsense Captain, Bobby Joe will soon forget the teasing, he will go to his cabin and put on some of that god awful county music about trains and beer and my insult will dissipate like the morning mist.”
Captain Lockstone just shook his head at the chef, and he was a full chef hired by the space agency from the Cordon Bleu for this long range exploration of deep space. He was a pain in the butt, if he had not also been a certified linguist he never would have made it onto the ship. Captain Lockstone had been warned before they left the solar system the Chef who could cause personality difficulties, so far the space psychologist had been right on the money. “Captain’s prerogative, just came down to see if there was any of that Jamaican Blue still left.”
“I am sorry Captain, that particular batch of beans has been exhausted, at least until we hit the resupply ship on the way back.”
“Oh well, I drink too much coffee as it is.”
The chef spoke up. “Any transmissions from the fourth planet yet.”
“No, nothing. We just launched a probe that will start sending back imagery soon.”
“Well I hope this planet is as interesting as the Persledes, they were a fascinating and noble race.”
“Yes, a nice first contact was made and firm foundation of diplomacy was laid,” The Captian said just looking around the kitchen. ” well good night Cooky, see you in the morning.”
The chef just growled softly, people called him Cooky just to annoy him, now the Captain was doing it.
The captain turned and grinned, he probably should not have used the nickname but he could not help himself, the comment about the Persledes irked him. They were by far the most boring and dull alien race he had ever met, his diplomatic patience was worn thin by their constant calls for admiration of art and beauty in every single phase of the meeting had tested his patience. The captain enjoyed art as much as the next guy, unless of course the next guy was the Chef, who took a deep, perhaps even a perverse pleasure in pointing out his own pedigree in art appreciation to whomever would listen. Due to his linguistic skills he had sat at the table with the Persledes and appreciated the hell out of the art they presented, his second officer had calculated that the Chef had extended the formal diplomatic meetings by at least fifty percent longer than they needed to be with his constant references and comparisons to Earth’s art and history. The Captain had been tempted to leave him behind on Persleds Prime, but he needed a chef and command looked down on marooning crew members on distant planets no matter how arrogant and obnoxious they were.
“Those towers are magnificent greater than the ones at Notre Dame.”
“I have only seen the field, I guess the towers are somewhere else on campus.”
The Chef looked down his long nose at Bobby Joe. “I was referring to the cathedral Bobby Joe.” When he got a blank look he added. “In Paris.” When there was not an automatic recognition he continued. “Paris, France.”
They had been looking at the view screen in the dining room were some of the first images broadcast from the flyover were viewed by the entire crew while eating. It was just then that the Captain Lockstone walked in.
“Oh Captain any oral transmissions from the planet yet?” The Chef asked.
The Captain continued his walk to the large coffee urn. “No Cooky not yet.” The Captain filled his mug and walked over to the table where Bobby Joe was seated and stood next to the Chef. “Beautiful, from our best measurements they are over a hundred meters tall, made out of some sort of glass or crystal.”
“They must be a truly enlightened people to be able to build such towers look at those flying buttress.”
Bobby Joe snickered. “Buttress.”
The Captain laughed silently as he walked out of the room.
The working group had spent hours with the tapes and translations that were picked up from the planet and the Chef was there as well. He had not added much to the discussion, not being the most gifted linguist on the trip. It was after the Chef had gone back to his kitchen that a breakthrough occurred, and as the Automatic Translation Device gathered more knowledge from the short transmissions coming from the planet, and the device achieved a higher and higher percentage of fluency. It was when the Artificial Intelligence in the device claimed a ninety-five percent fluency that the diplomats on board decided to make first contact.
The Chef and Bobby Joe were sitting in the empty dining room watching the first face to face meeting between the Captain and his team with the newly programed ATD.
“I anticipate another great exchange of culture, philosophy and copious discoveries of their finer arts. ” The Chef said in a lofty tone. “Did you see them so tall and regal looking, such serious expressions on their faces.”
Bobby Joe just rolled his eyes. Then he noticed the clothing the aliens were wearing, one strap on each of their clothing seemed to be dangling, it made him think of something back home but then his thoughts were interrupted.
“Those cut glass basilica are all over the planet, this valley they are meeting in has one that is a particularly amazing example, they must be monuments to learning and knowledge. ”
“Shhh, they are about to start.”
“I am Captain James Lockstone and in the name of the people of Earth I greet you in peace and friendship.”
There was a pause and the translation was made with the ATD. Then the first alien said a couple of words, and another pause as the ATD went to work.
“Well Howdy, it is great you folks showed up as we was about to have a pork roast and the beer is cold, so you are welcome to stay a while.”
The Chef’s mouth just fell open.
Captain Lockstone quickly turned towards his diplomatic and linguistic staff, who were all furiously checking on the ATDs. Bobby Joe watched the looks cross the faces after a few seconds and furious whispering between the Captain and the head diplomat. The Captain continued after a few minutes.
“Well that would be very nice, thank you for the invitation.”
The alien replied quickly after the translation. “Twernt nothing pardner, what’s ours is yours, heck with you folks here maybe we can put another room on the building.”
Captain Lockstone replied. “The building? Another room? I am sorry I don’t understand.”
The ATD was getting quicker with each exchange and the alien pointed to the large crystal structure on the hill nearby. “Sure, when we get enough empties we add on to the place, it is almost as much fun building those things as it is emptying the building materials.”
“The building materials I don’t understand?”
The alien paused and titled his head in almost a human like manner. “Yeah those things are made with empties.”
Bobby Joe started laughing before anyone else.
“Yeah empty beer bottles.”
My first original short story in a while, I have been so busy working on the second story in the Outfitters Narrative, Q Runner, that I just was not inclined to write anything else. Then when I did get off track from Q Runner I seemed to find myself drawn to my World War I project. But enough about me, so what did you think of this little diversion, written by me. 🙂