Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Giorgio de Chirico Artist Biography

(Note: This is a piece I wrote for a freelance client that didn't end up getting used.) 

Born July 10, 1888 in Volos, Greece - Died November 20, 1978 in Rome, Italy


Giorgio de Chirico is an Italian painter whose metaphysical painting style was greatly influential to the Surrealism movement. His pre-World War I work differs greatly in style and philosophy from his post-World War I work. Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, and other Surrealist painters cited de Chirico as influential on their work.

Public domain image by Carl Van Vechten, 1936

Artistic Activity


Giorgio de Chirico was born in Greece to two Italian parents. He first studied art in Florence, then moved to Germany. In Munich, he studied under the German artist Max Klinger and read the works of German philosophers.

Prior to the First World War, de Chirico is credited with creating the Scuola metafisica movement along with Carlo Carrà. These “metaphysical” paintings are characterized by images of cluttered, darkened interiors and mannequin-like human figures as well as a “haunted” or introspective mood.

In 1919, de Chirico published an article promoting a return to craftsmanship, or traditional painting methods. After its publication, his works exhibited a neoclassical style, influenced by Raphael and other past masters.

During the 1920s, Surrealist painter André Breton discovered de Chirico’s work. While critical of de Chirico’s traditionalist work, the Surrealist movement found de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings highly influential. De Chirico was highly critical of modern art.

After 1939, de Chirico painted in a neo-Baroque style. He remained a prolific painter until his death at age 90.

Giorgio de Chirico’s Most Important Works


• “The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon” (1910) is the first painting in de Chirico’s metaphysical painting series.
• “The Child’s Brain” (1914) is the painting that won de Chirico the attention of André Breton.
• “The Disquieting Muses” (1916) is exemplary of a recurring theme in de Chirico’s work (the Muses of Classical mythology) and inspired a Sylvia Plath poem of the same name.
• “Self Portrait” (1924) exemplifies de Chirico’s work of the 1920s, with its return to traditionalist techniques and Renaissance inspiration.

Related Artists


Georgios Roilos
Georgios Jakobides
Max Klinger
Carlo Carrà
André Breton
Salvador Dalí

Terms Associated with Artist


Neo-Baroque
Neoclassical
Scuola metafisica
Surrealism

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Favorite Songs From the 'Ready Player One' Book Soundtrack

You can find the playlist on Spotify. 


I've finished listening to the audio book of Ready Player One, but I haven't gotten Ernest Cline's follow-up novel, Armada, out of the library yet. So, to tide me over, I've been listening to the Spotify playlist of all the songs mentioned in the book.

These are my personal favorites. As you may recall from this post, I was born in 1977 (as were Orlando Bloom, Ludacris, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and other ridiculously hot hotties). I grew up in the 1980s and will always have a special place in my heart for '80s music.

Among my favorites has always been Duran Duran. My all-time favorite DD song that I never seem to get tired of is "Hungry Like the Wolf." I even used it in the book trailer for "Oliver's Good Night Kiss."

Two Duran Duran songs show up in RP1. Both have incredibly weird videos. Here is one of them, "Wild Boys."


I own many Duran Duran albums on CD. One song that I like without knowing much of anything about the group that produced it is "Blue Monday" by New Order. I know they were British; that's about it.



"Blue Monday" is one I don't actually remember from the '80s, but discovered during the '90s. Pat Benatar, on the other hand, I have always been well aware of. The book Dead Is a Battlefield kept reminding me of her. Her song mentioned in RP1 is "Invincible."


Lastly from the Spotify list, I enjoy the Cline mention "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour. I know it reminds a lot of people of a scene in the John Hughes movie Say Anything, but honestly, I've never been very interested in John Hughes. It's just a beautiful song.


The playlist has other artists I like, but not my preferred songs from them. I like Cyndi Lauper, but not necessarily for "Time After Time." I'll listen to some Blondie songs if they're on the radio, but I don't know "Atomic." When I was a kid I thought Billy Idol was pretty cool, but I wouldn't necessarily enjoy listening to "Rebel Yell" now. The fictional James Halliday's playlist is a bit testosterone-heavy for my rather feminine tastes. 

If I were to make a playlist inspired by RP1, I would add "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco. The song isn't mentioned by name in the book, but Falco is. Parzival's asteroid home base in the Oasis is named after him.


Parzival/Wade, having studied The Simpsons, would be aware of the "Dr. Zaius"/Planet of the Apes parody of the song.


"Amadeus" is mostly in German -- Falco was Austrian -- but I don't care and never have cared. I have loved this song since it was a brand-new hit in 1986 when I was nine. And that was probably before my music teacher made us watch the Milos Forman movie that inspired it, Amadeus, in school.

I guess I've always been a sucker for 18th-century period costume, even before I discovered Jane Austen. (Which was 1996 when I saw Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma.)

What are your favorite tracks from the book soundtrack?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

'Ready Player One' as Read by Wil Wheaton - SPOILERS

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My cousin's husband told me several years ago that I should listen to the audio book version of this, read by Wil Wheaton.


I finally got to it since the movie is coming out and, well, because I was walking down the audio book aisle at my local public library and my gaze happened to fall upon it. I'm glad I took the time to listen to Wil Wheaton's performance, which has the perfect amount of deadpan snark, like a Charles Dickens novel.

Having grown up in the '80s, I'm familiar with many of the pop culture references, although not all of them. I never played Dungeons and Dragons, for example - much of my knowledge of D+D comes secondhand through Futurama. But like any American person who didn't live in a cave in the '80s, I watched Devo videos on MTV, played Pac-Man (at the arcade and on my dad's Atari console, which I can still recall him bringing home from Target), and ate my fair share of Cap'n Crunch cereal.

(I'm not sure I ever ate the Pac-Man cereal, but I know I ate many of those Pac-Man ghost ice pops with the gumball eyes that the ice cream truck used to peddle AND many a can of Pac-Man chicken-flavored pasta. That has to count for something.)

The point being, I connected with many of the pop culture references, but I did not feel that they got in the way of the storytelling. Wade/Parizal was a character I cared about. I wanted him to succeed and achieve his goal. I wanted his feelings for Art3mis to be returned.

XXX SPOILER AHEAD XXX

I wanted Daito to be alive, but alas, we can't have everything we want.

Despite a few tears shed, I genuinely enjoyed listening to the audio book performance of this novel.



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Thursday, August 31, 2017

'I Almost Forgot About You' by Terry McMillan

I Almost Forgot About YouI Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the Publisher's Website: The #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale is back with the inspiring story of a woman who shakes things up in her life to find greater meaning

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life–great friends, family, and successful career–aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, including quitting her job as an optometrist and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Georgia’s bravery reminds us that it’s never too late to become the person you want to be, and that taking chances, with your life and your heart, are always worthwhile.

Big-hearted, genuine, and universal, I Almost Forgot About You shows what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to life, love, and the possibility of a new direction. It’s everything you’ve always loved about Terry McMillan.

— Library Journal – Best Books of the Year, African American Fiction


My Review: This is the first book I've ever read by Terry McMillan and now that I know how spectacularly talented she is, I'm a little sad about that. She's a writer with the magical gift of making me believe that she's writing about people, not characters. This isn't a straightforward romance novel but it is written in a really clever way that makes it more realistic but just as much fun. Of all the characters, I felt that Wanda was the most like me, but it was impossible not to love the protagonist, Georgia. And when Georgia fell in love, I fell in love with her beau, too.

McMillan's main characters are African-American women, but if you're not African-American and/or not female, please don't let that stop you from reading this wonderful writer. Honestly, she could be writing about fictional Japanese businessmen and she'd make them seem real and fascinating.

I received a copy of this book from BloggingForBooks.com in exchange for this review.


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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

'A Discovery of Witches' Is Coming to TV (and Other Reasons I'm Happy Today)

One of my favorite books in the history of time, A Discovery of Witches, is becoming a TV series, as reported by Entertainment Weekly


Matthew Goode, who appeared in The Imitation Game* with Benedict Cumberbatch, will play my fictional boyfriend, vampire-scientist Matthew Clairmont. 

Badass witch heroine and mother of dragon (technically, firedrake) Diana Bishop is to be played by Teresa Palmer, the Australian actress I thought was very good in Warm Bodies

Quite nice. Another favorite getting a TV adaptation is Robert Galbraith's (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling's) The Cuckoo's Calling


It looks like Cormoran Strike - another of my fictional boyfriends, although I truly want him and Robin to get together - got a bit of an adaptational attractiveness upgrade, but no matter. Holliday Grainger looks like she'll be an absolutely perfect Robin Ellacot. 

Elarica Johnson, who made a brief but notable appearance in the film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is playing Lula Landry. I still like to imagine that Lula is dating Fred Weasley in the afterlife. 

Grainger is also set to play the lover of Anna Paquin's character in Tell It to the Bees, a novel written by Fiona Shaw. Shaw did a stint on True Blood with Paquin, playing the lead witch of a coven, but is perhaps more famous for playing Harry Potter's witchcraft-phobic Aunt Petunia. 

"Telling the bees" is an ancient folkloric custom. 

Also adapted for TV was Charlaine Harris's Midnight, Texas series. I'm missing it because I don't have cable, but my parents are watching it. Maybe some day they'll put it on Netflix. 


*Which I never finished watching because sad LGBT+ history makes me sad. 

Recently Watched: Much Ado About Nothing at Notre Dame on Sunday, then my second viewing of Twelfth Night, with my niece this time, also at Notre Dame but on Monday. 

Currently Listening To: Wil Wheaton reading the audio book of Ready Player One.
 
Currently Reading

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood #BookReview

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an amazing book, hard to read but hard to put down. The narrator, Offred (her real name may be June, as semi-confirmed by the author), could be almost any woman in American society, and with the flaming crap show of a presidency we have going on right now and the unholy alliance between the ultra-corporatist Republicans and the gullible, ultra-religious conservative Republicans, the United States turning into Gilead seems more realistic than at any other time in my life.

Edgar Allan Poe's Raven was correct: Nevermore will there be a balm in Gilead. The Christian theocracy is murderous and reduces women to their bodies in a horrifying but realistic way. In the introduction, Atwood explains that everything that happens in the book has been done by a human society in the past - they've just never been synthesized like this.

Although Offred is the most relatable and likeable of protagonists, trapped in a situation in which she is only minimally complicit, and that by necessity, the best part of the book may be the "historical notes" at the end. In the coda, a team of academics who seem to be mainly Canadian First Nations folks in Nunavit are looking back on Gileadean society and analyzing how this division of Caucasian/Western civilization went so badly. (Hint: religious fundamentalism, racism, abuse of power, environmental abuse. Sound like anyone we know?)

I am a white people (as is the author), but I still like the idea that in the future, South Asians and First Nations people will have put white people in our place and will be studying us like we're extinct in the way that white Americans condescendingly refer to indigenous Americans in the present. Turnabout is fair play, as they say.

What happens to Offred is left deliberately ambiguous, but I'm an optimist and I would like to think that she made it to England and successfully gave birth to a healthy child, thanks to Nick helping her get to the Underground Femaleroad. I'd like to think that Nick and Luke are alive, too.

But I think Moira may actually be my favorite character. I haven't watched the TV show yet but I hope Moira is the character Ms. Samira Wiley (formerly of Orange is the New Black) is portraying. (But for some reason I keep picturing her looking like Ilana Glazer.) I respect Moira's defiance and refusal to accept her non-personhood.

Keep reading. Keep resisting. Keep playing Scrabble and knowing the meaning of obscure and difficult words. Knowledge is power. If you understood the messages of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World, read this book and remember it.

I borrowed this book from a family member and was not obligated in any way to review it.



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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nonfiction: 'Waiting for the Punch' by Marc Maron

Waiting for the Punch: Words to Live by from the WTF PodcastWaiting for the Punch: Words to Live by from the WTF Podcast by Marc Maron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d never heard Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, but I read parts of this book because I was interested in a lot of the people he interviewed on his show about universal topics like relationships, mental health, and sexuality.

I skipped some of the interview subjects whose names I didn’t know or whom I didn’t think were quite as interesting, but the ones I read had a lot of good, insightful things to say. Some of the interviewees whose wisdom I gleaned from this book included:

Ali Wong
Anna Kendrick
Barack Obama
Carl Reiner
Carrie Brownstein
Chelsea Peretti
Dan Savage
Dave Foley
Elizabeth Banks
Judy Greer
Kevin Hart
Leslie Jones
Margaret Cho
Mel Brooks
Melissa Etheridge
Michael Keaton (talking about Tim Burton, Batman, and Beetlejuice)
Natasha Lyonne
Penn Jillette
Robin Williams
RuPaul Charles
Sarah Silverman
Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Patrick Stewart
Wanda Sykes

Some of these folks are real gems of human beings. They have a lot of worthwhile things to say. Some of these things are very funny, some are poignant, some are both. All of these people are smart people capable of articulating a coherent thought, which is shockingly refreshing in this era of idiocracy.

P.S. Congratulations, Chelsea Peretti, on the healthy birth of your son Beaumont Peele.

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