COLORFUL WISHES ON THE TREE BY THE GATE: #WRITEPHOTO Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Colorful Wishes #writephoto


Charlene was delighted with her tree. Everywhere else, when someone had a statement to make, it was always stupid toilet paper. All over the tree and then it would drizzle or rain and for weeks, the tree looked like it had some kind of hideous fungus on it.

She had done a much better job. Bright, colorful. It was a cheerful, happy tree and what started with anger, ended in art. She barely remembered why she started “fixing” the tree. She thought something had made her angry and she wanted to show the world, but before she was even a quarter of the way through it, the project had morphed into Art.

Brianna was going to be really surprised when she stepped out of the house that morning. Not a single sheet of toilet paper. Just bright colors swinging gaily from the little tree by the gate.

Charlene giggled all the way home. Surprise!

I WILL NOT BE A BALLERINA (OR A COWBOY) – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was a girl, my mother took me to the ballet. She didn’t take me to the typical “first ballet” for kids — Nutcracker Suite — which mommies take their little girls to see. Instead, she took me to the New York City Ballet Company, while Balanchine was still its choreographer.

It was magic. Extreme magic. I left the theater sure I’d found my future. All I needed were a few lessons, a pair of those cool ballet slippers and I could leap and twirl on my tiptoes, just like the stars at the ballet.

I had not accounted for the klutz factor. I was young and sure that wanting it badly enough would make it happen.

Sadly, I had no talent for dance. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I had a go at ballet, tap, jazz — even belly dancing. All had the same results, yet somehow,  I survived the disappointment.

I was simultaneously coping with the realization I was not going to become a cowboy, either.

For one thing, I wasn’t a boy. For a second thing, I was living in New York, didn’t own a horse, wasn’t likely to ever own a horse and pretending the fence rail was a horse was not going work out long-term.

For anyone who likes dance … even if you don’t … check out the  delicious parody of classical ballet from the original Disney “Fantasia.” No matter how many times I see it, it always makes me laugh. You have to love hippos in tutus.

WE NEED NATIONAL BROTHERHOOD WEEK

CONVERSANT AGAIN – NATIONAL BROTHERHOOD WEEK AND CELEBRATING WORLD WAR THREE – IN ADVANCE (WE WON ‘T HAVE TIME, LATER)


Way back in the dark ages, the third week in February (an otherwise dreary and neglected month) was designated National Brotherhood Week. As designated special weeks go, it was never a big hit with the general public. In the 1980s, it disappeared completely. Probably because it failed to sell greeting cards. Which is probably the point of such created events.

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The National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ) came up with the idea of National Brotherhood Week in 1934. Given the current political climate, maybe we can agree more brotherhood year round would be an improvement. Sadly, we no longer have even that one, measly week.

February is now Black History Month which seems to mean movie channels run films featuring non-white stars. Unless you watch PBS or the History Channel where you might see a documentary or two.

The man who took it seriously — even in the old days — as he took all politics seriously, was Tom Lehrer. He taught math at Hahvid (Harvard, if you aren’t from around here). He didn’t write a lot of songs since he, till his dying day (which hasn’t occurred yet as he’s alive and living in California), thought of himself as a math teacher who wrote silly songs. Not as an entertainer.

Despite this unfair self-assessment, I’ve always felt Tom got this particular holiday dead to rights. Ya’ think?

He got a lot of stuff right. Check him out on YouTube. He only wrote about 50 songs and most of them are posted in some video or other. Me? I’ve got the CDs. (Remember CDs?)

And because the news has been so … fraught … I thought I’d add a couple of  more shockingly relevant songs for this day in February, 2018.

My, how times have not really changed — except we really do have colored TV pretty much everywhere!

ART VERSUS LIFE? TRUTH? FICTION?

“For God’s Sake,” I shout at the giant naked bronze guy loping around my garden. “Put something on! You can’t go running around like that!”the thinker

It’s already too late. I can hear the sirens getting closer and I know those evil neighbors are getting me back for all the nights when my dogs barked and wouldn’t shut up. I glare at Bonnie. She grins.

“Quick, hurry,” I urge him. “Here, take this shirt. It should fit you.”

It doesn’t. The bronze guy is huge. The pants are hopelessly small for him, even though they are big enough for me and a couple of good friends. Finally, in near despair, I throw him a blanket. He harrumphs and plunks his butt down on the big rock by the garage.

“Just stay very still,” I tell him. “Pretend you’re a statue. Even better? Pretend you are thinking. I’ll deal with the cops.”

It turns out he is very good at thinking. He had many previous years of experience. He likes it so much, he is still there as I write. Sitting on the big rock.

Thinking.

EXPERIMENTAL STYLES

WordPress Photo Challenge: Experimental


This seemed like a good time to try doing a few things … differently. From inside my blue living room, a DaVinci sketch, and one slightly impressionist painting.

My blue living room – painted!
Impressionist painting
And then, Leonardo DaVinci dropped by …
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE DECORATING: WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My father hated change. My mother loved to redecorate. What could possibly go wrong?

There were lots of fights about decorating in my house growing up. Constantly. My mother won, but it could get surprisingly unpleasant before then – not to mention very loud. My father would shout that all decorating was too expensive and totally unnecessary, no matter how long it had been since the room had been fixed up. He was morally opposed to changing anything. Ever. Not a faded chair, a broken lamp, peeling wallpaper.

Nothing.

The NYC dining room set up for a party

My mother tried to mollify him in many ways. She tried to involve my father in the decision-making process. She tried to give him control over the decorating choices so as to make the change less jarring for him. Nothing worked.

Eventually my mother instituted the blitzkrieg form of decorating, which I call passive-aggressive decorating. Here’s how it worked.

We spent every summer in our house in Connecticut so the New York apartment was vacant for three months., which also meant that the Connecticut house was vacant for nine months.

My mother used her time well. She carefully made all her plans for redecorating a room in New York without telling my father. She chose the furniture, the wall color or paper, fabric for the upholstered pieces. She picked out every lamp, piece of art and chatchkah. Then, when my father was safely in Connecticut for the summer, she’d have the workmen swoop in. They would completely redo the room, top to bottom. One year, the walls in the study went from beige grasscloth to a bold fabric with a deep red background and large, bright-colored flowers.

Fabric that ended up on one wall, a sofa and two comfy chairs

My father would leave one room in June and come back to a completely different room in September. He would scream and yell about how he hated change. He would excoriate my mother about her ridiculous obsession with redecorating. He would get all of this out of his system in one big explosion – and then it was over. After that, he would become gradually used to the ‘new’ room. Then, ten or so years later, when it got changed again, he would rant and rave about the loss of the old ‘new’ room.

The process was reversed when it came to the house in Connecticut. When Dad said goodbye to the New England house in September, my mother had until June to do a complete make-over on one of the rooms in the house. The same scene would occur there when Dad discovered the bi-annual treachery.

After which, all would be calm. Until the next time.

The New York apartment had 11 rooms and the Connecticut house had 10. So this went on every year, twice a year, for thirty years! It’s a pretty dramatic way to get a new sofa or bedroom set. But Mom was persistent. She did what she had to do. Both homes were beautiful, warm, and inviting.

Even Dad thought so. After he stopped yelling.

MIGHTY PRETTY

THAT’S A MIGHTY PRETTY PIECE OF ART YOU HAVE HANGING THERE, FELLA


Let’s talk about art and why a “paint by number” kit you bought at a hobby shop is not art, even though it’s “mighty pretty.”

Many things are pretty. Wallpaper, printed by the ream is pretty. Remember all those paintings you could buy in the “art department” of department stores? You could get a blue one, a green one, or a red one. Each “hand-painted” picture was perfectly designed to match your furniture and could often be bought as part of your living room set.

Each picture was “hand painted” because someone’s hand was employed to paint it. Even then, no one said “an artist painted it” because the hand that painted it wasn’t an artist.

Now, with Artificial Intelligence, it won’t even be hand-painted. I’m sure it will be technically far superior to anything a human artist could achieve. Human art is imperfect — intentionally imperfect as often as not. There won’t be a stroke out-of-place and everyone will absolutely agree that it is “mighty pretty,” uh huh, yup, absolutely mighty pretty hanging on your wall there.

Things made by machine can be beautiful, but they aren’t art. Art is wrung from the soul of an artist. Even so, there is good art, better art, great art — and awful art. None of which has anything to do with the mechanical ability of the artist. Art — music, painting, sculpture and so much else — connects feelings, meaning, depth, breadth, vision. The big and the little, the achievements and the broken little pieces. It shows the value of life, the meaning of death, the reason we live, the sadness of loss. It isn’t only something mighty pretty to hang on a wall or pump through your speakers.

If A.I. can totally master the technique of Rembrandt and the “style” of Dali, it still won’t be art because it is without passion. No soul, no heart, no meaning, no depth. The style will not keep changing as the artist’s sensibilities change. It will never evolve into something unique, new, and refreshing because machines don’t evolve or grow.

For those of you who think “art” is a technique of brush strokes on canvas and that any “style” can be reproduced — even improved on — by a more “accurate” mechanical application … or you think if something  sounds like Chopin, it IS Chopin, you don’t understand anything. Not only do you not get it, you will never get it.

Since “fake art” is pretty much always “old or classic art,” consider buying originals from a living artist — the person who actually painted or wrote it. It will be the real deal.

The good news? An A.I. world will be perfect for you. You will be happy in your A.I. world with reproductions that look MIGHTY NICE on your walls. I bet all your furniture will match, too.