Sunday, September 2, 2018
Thursday, August 30, 2018
With the recent enthusiasm for Crazy Rich Asians I’ve been reminded of the common trope of a penniless individual —generally one of wit, panache, and uncompromising character— elevated into an exclusive scene of old world privileges through a genuine, earnest bond with a connection of significant influence and power, often a prominent heir or otherwise important position within a deep-rooted, dynastic circle. It is no surprise to audiences that the benevolent “fairy godmother” mentor (or insider who is also somehow sensitive to being an “other” on the periphery) is generally a sympathetic, effete male with savvy, snide, funny insight equal in alacrity to the waggishly volleyed comments of our principal lead. Aladdin’s buoyant genie helped disguise a charismatic pauper in one of the instances when a supernatural being intervenes to raise-up an underprivileged but deserving striver. More often, it is a woman’s fashion-forward, seasoned bestie who steps into the role. Big Little Lies sees an established queen bee (Madeline) embrace and sponsor Jane, a mysterious and well out-of-her-element young mother, but that story is focused less on prepping a penniless ingenue and more about surviving the blistering criticism of Malibu’s elite female power —er, rather yoga— leagues. And it is generally a task taken-on as a demonstration of concerned altruism -- a well-intended (if not always entirely unselfish) community service project. Only in Great Expectations can I recall a narrative that points to a supposed benefactor (Miss Havisham) intentionally using money and manners to warp the ways of her malleable protégée (Estella). We have other stories of dynamic-but-poor small town nobodies sneaking into high society via questionable backdoor opportunities (pretend scion Jay Gatsby, a disguised Aladdin in princely robes, tabloid reporter Mike Connor faking diplomatic connections to gain access to an exclusive wedding in The Philadelphia Story, alpha salesman Don Draper having forged his identity via stolen dog tags and thus changing the trajectory of his post-war career, Jack Dawson’s shady card game win of ocean liner passage on doomed Titanic, Tom Ripley feigning Princeton links to buddy-up to --and eventually commandeer the life of-- perpetually-vacationing playboy Dickie Greenleaf), but while these examples are men, in just as many transformation narratives it is an out-of-her-element female who is elevated and later taken under the wing of a sympathetic, somewhat tangential family member or "seen-it-all/done-it-all" seasoned insider. In C.R.A. and Twilight there are ethereal Astrid and Alice who behave almost as big sisters to leading ladies Rachel and Bella, respectively. As for male bonds, in the Dick Whitman/Don Draper saga of Mad Men we have the ultimate posh oyster-guzzling insider and reformed frat boy in Roger Sterling, and Great Expectations sees the orphaned Pip tutored in “gentlemanly ways” by good-natured Herbert Pocket. (Of course, C.R.A. is somewhat unique in that has not one, but two “helpers” in Peik Lin and Kerry Chu, proving that sometimes it "takes a village" to adequately coach and outfit an outsider. What's more, Walt Disney’s take on Cinderella had both the enchanted godmother AND a collective of mice with surprisingly dexterous sewing savvy; The Hunger Games gave us tag-team style gurus Effie and Cinna in addition to strategy coach Haymitch; famously, My Fair Lady, borne of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, included bickering Prof. Henry Higgins and Col. Hugh Pickering.) Somewhat more on the sidelines, Jordan Baker serves as guide and benefactor for The Great Gadsby's narrator Nick, aiding him (and by proxy the reader) to navigate the Who’s Who of Prohibition-era East Egg. I’m honestly not familiar with TV’s Gossip Girl, Revenge, or The Arrangement beyond passing episode summaries and references, but it’s easy to assume they similarly feature insider-outsider allegiances, accomplices, social climbers, and haughty poseurs. Generally, these sympathetic “reformed-snob guardian angels” have their own motives borne of, perhaps, seething resentment (or in some instances merely guilt or boredom, which is certainly true in the initial plans of snobbish Higgins and Pickering). To this point I submit scene-stealers Molly Brown of Titanic, Nigel of The Devil Wears Prada, or Pretty Woman's Barney (the always memorable character actor Hector Elizondo). As in Aladdin, the metamorphosis of an indelicate, unselfconscious urchin-type and “diamond in the rough” occurs in iterations of Anastasia, Sabrina, Jane Austen’s Emma (reinterpreted for the mid-‘90s by writer-director Amy Heckerling as Clueless), and by the hand of "princess" Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club -- each easily saluted as cultural touchstones and modern fairytales in their own right. From here you could easily extend the makeover cliché into basic cable standards Miss Congeniality, Mean Girls, The Princess Diaries, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc --each of which challenge the integrity of their lead by asking her to juggle a soul-felt, messy dorkdom (mounted upon edgy and offbeat pursuits, friends, or interests, if not emphasized by general clumsiness) with greater visibility in a higher ranking or status once her more feminine, less abrasive side is teased-out. This of course is to her requisite surprise and reluctant approval, although it almost always intimidates previously relied-upon allies who aren’t as fortunate to be whisked into First Class, instead remaining behind in Economy. In a testament to the integrity of our revamped protagonist, she always ultimately extends her newly-manicured hand past any dividing curtain to acknowledge and relieve the mounting hostility directed towards her ascension. It is generally difficult, if not impossible, to belong to and enjoy the best of two conflicting worlds, but of course that doesn’t stop our plucky lead from trying. As The Little Mermaid learned in the definitive "butterfly" parable, once you've traded your tail for legs, there's no returning to the sea as a fish. - LS
Monday, August 27, 2018
"I don't hate myself. The world hates me. They act like I'm a stain ... Worst of all, they tell me I have a pretty face and they lecture me on how to fix my body."
|Joy Nash gets clinically assessed on AMC's Dietland|
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
It surely beats rubber cement when assembling collage art! (My latest below)
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Below, my attempts to bring color to the squalor of scattered roadside debris, the remaining evidence of a car crash (or several). Upon encountering the twinkling hard plastic shards I eagerly harvested the broken remnants of smashed taillights and bumper as one might with precious sea glass along the local shoreline. In my case, a beach was replaced with an abandoned property -- highway adjacent -- and the sand involved was the grit and salt distributed by Maine's road crews after an unrelenting winter.
|"Rear-end Collision" - 18" x 24" (March 2018)|
|"Speleothems, Regmaglypts, Oolitic Black Hermatite, Micaceous Iron Oxide (and Other Formations) Beneath the Drooling Ooze in the Secret Cave of Crystals" - 3' x 4' (March/April 2018)|
|"Encrusted, Clustered, Clotted & Mottled Colors of Weeping, Seeping Sequin Splendor" - 18" x 24" (July 2018)|
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|"Meh, Whatever" - 14" x 18" (March 2018 -- no embellishments, but rather a five-minute, unpremeditated "accident" in and of itself, having initially served as a test palette)|
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
- A TRIBUTE TO NATIONAL CEREAL DAY -
ABOVE: a vintage Sesame Street riff of Madonna's 1984 hit "Material Girl"
BELOW: frenzied collage art by me, using 1940s baking advertisements, my own prints of Lucky Charms cereal and a 30-year-old "My Little Pony" softcover picture book, glazed with Mod Podge
"My Little Scone-ies (and other magically delicious breakfast delights)"
12 in. x 19 in. paper assemblage art on painted canvas with poetry on back & rainbow wash tape along sides, assembled during Eating Awareness Week (February 26-March 4, 2018) and dedicated to Walden Behavioral Care
---Cereal box as morning trough
into which plump knuckles sink
Foraging the marshmallow stuff
that stains a bowl's white milk pink
Confections fill our bellies bloated
rainbow grins are sugarcoated
A General Mills & Hasbrow ploy
is couple hunger with a toy