Beauty Fades. Dumb is Forever.

The title of this post is a classic Judge Judy quote which, is really only half true. Dumb doesn't have to be forever. All over YouTube a debate is raging about Miss South Carolina's incoherent answer to a question at this years Miss Teen USA pageant. She was asked to give her opinion on why it is that recent polls show that one fifth of Americans can't find the USA on a map?

She started out by saying that many US Americans (as opposed to non US Americans?) don't have maps... and it all went down hill from there with a monologue that, at best, could be described as words that might have been a useful answer if they were arranged into their proper order. Watch the video below for the full story and Miss South Carolina's attempt to redeem herself two days later on the Today Show.


Now, I can accept that she was probably very nervous and we've all been in a situation where we can hear ourselves talking but have no idea if we're still making sense. Her answer on the Today Show is certainly an improvement and may well have got her first place instead of third runner up (what did fourth and fifth place getters say to be beaten by her answer?).

Perhaps I should stop rambling like Miss South Carolina and get to my point. What this represents is a poster child for better education of young people. It's all very well to think looks will get you a long way but looks and brains will get you even further. In today's society people seem genuinely surprised when good looking people have brains too. Something that should be a given not a surprise.

Many young people seem to think that school is a waste of time because they are almost forced to learn about things that don't interest them. These young people have missed the point of school.

School is not just about learning stuff. It is also about learning how to learn. Learning how to teach yourself stuff that you have little to no interest in whatsoever. In life you will need to teach yourself all manner of things that you have no interest in but are necessary to live in todays society.

Nobody likes reading contracts (well most people don't anyway) yet in life you'll need to read and understand all manner of contracts. Tax laws and Tax Returns - mind numbingly boring but you'll need to know. Employer/Employee agreements... Superannuation, life insurance the list goes on. Are you smart enough to teach yourself these things or will you forever be looking for someone to explain it to you... like you were a four year old?

Looks maybe valued highly in the modern world but education is still much more valuable. For every good looking, brainless celebrity out there, there is a very smart agent earning a killing off their clients stupidity.

No matter how old you are you should never stop learning. Beauty may fade but dumb doesn't have to be forever.

Helium Features: Reflections on the Starving Artist.

Someone at Helium must like me because today they featured another of my articles, Reflections on the Starving Artist on their home page.

The article, which is currently rated number 1 out of 17 articles, looks at the challenges faced by emerging artists in relation to income and why the phrase 'starving artist' is still very relevant in todays society both literally and as a metaphor. There are many barriers to a successful career in the Arts and it is these barriers that can have a detrimental effect on both the artist and their ability to earn a living.

This is the second time Helium has featured my work on their home page and twice in one month no less! Previously An introduction to Video Blogging earned its day in the sun and even featured higher up on the page.

Now if I could only get featured on YouTube's home page I'd be really happy.

'Staffy' knocking at our door.

I've written before about how stray dogs seem to gravitate towards me when they're lost even though I do nothing to encourage it. Well perhaps some of my magical abilities have rubbed off onto my partner because on the weekend the most adorable, female, Staffordshire terrier came knocking at our door.

The dog could see in through our screen door so could clearly see my partner (who likes to use the online name of 'Enigma' so from now on I'll refer to her by name). Perhaps it was the 'I want a dog' vibes that she's been sending out of late? Unfortunately the two cats (Casper and Gizzy) and I outvote her so there's no chance of us getting a dog at the moment.

Anyway back to 'Staffy' (because I can't keep calling her 'the dog'). Staffy was pretty stressed about her situation but must have decided that our house looked pretty good because she really wanted to come inside and see if anyone she knew was home. Casper isn't a very sociable cat when it comes to dogs (think attack cat) so we couldn't let Staffy inside. Enigma rounded up Gizzy from my studio and brought her inside whilst I led Staffy into our back garden where she would be safe whilst we waited for the council dog catcher to come and collect her.

Staffy, as I said, was adorable. Very well trained and more than willing to follow basic commands like 'come here', 'sit' and 'stay' from anyone. After she'd explored the back garden to see if anyone she knew was there I let her come into my studio. My couch never stood a chance. Without hesitation she jumped up onto it and made herself comfortable. Stretching all the way out, back legs fully extended behind her. If you sat down next to her she would move closer to you.

I'm sure I could've kept her off the couch but both cats sleep on it and Staffy was pretty stressed. We had a while to wait for the dog catcher to come over from another call out. Staffy seemed to relax a bit once settled on the couch, after a feed and some water. She sat quietly and got some shut eye while Enigma and I ate lunch at the table I have in my studio.

Our council's dog catcher is a pretty nice bloke. I got to know him relatively well from my time as an elected member of council. When he arrived he assured us that someone would probably call for such a well looked after and friendly dog. Enigma told him the dog had a tattoo that indicated it was micro chipped - so there is every chance Staffy found her way home.

I do kind of wonder how confusing it all must have been for Staffy. Clearly she was upset because she whimpered and whined about her predicament quite a bit before she settled down. However she was quite happy to go with the dog catcher, who was able to put a lead around her neck with no objection from Staffy whatsoever. Perhaps she was glad that she was on the move again, going somewhere else to see if she could find someone she knew.

The Dr. Art Show features TET.

Sometimes you just have to be careful what video channels you comment on otherwise you could end up being featured in the videos. That's what happened with me after I commented on Dr Art's Channel.

I was kind of hoping he'd do more hard hitting critique rather than this some what PC review but still, it's nice to be featured.

The Trouble with Superman.

I'm probably one of the last Superman fans to see the latest movie Superman Returns. I missed it in the theatres and it's taken this long for me to see it on DVD. This isn't meant to be a review but my overall impression was that the movie got almost everything right.

Brandon Routh is perfectly cast. There's enough of Reeve in Brandon's performance to say this is the Superman we remember from the previous films. There has to be because this movie is a sequel not a re-imagining of the franchise like Batman Returns is.

Kate Bosworth has been criticised for being miscast as Lois Lane. Personally I always thought Margot Kidder was not only miscast but the weakest link in all the previous films. Whilst Kate may not be the ideal Lois, in my view she's an improvement on Margot for playing the whiny, pseudo independent female lead.

Kevin Spacey is the reason I wanted to see the film. More than anything else. His performance in the movie Se7en as the twisted, moralistic, killer was so convincing that you just know Kevin would add a whole new level of evil to Lex Luthor. Much more of a nemesis for Superman than Gene Hackman's version of the character - and I liked Gene's version. Even though Kevin's appearance in Se7en was brief you have to believe that his character is capable of all the shocking murders once you meet him. Kevin didn't disappoint in Se7en and he didn't disappoint as Lex.

The script was the real let down. It was fantastic in the detail and understanding of each character but it did what all the Superman Movies before it have done. It went beyond the suspension of disbelief in resolving the story. That is the trouble with Superman.

Superman is the greatest of all superheroes. When you watch a Superman movie you expect to see things that you know are clearly impossible for any normal human being but this is Superman so you happily suspend your disbelief. In doing so you make the Superman legend seem plausible. You make Superman seem like someone who could exist.

What destroys that suspension for me is that, whilst Superman is... well... super, everything else around him is subject to the same laws of physics that we all understand. For example, in Superman III (I think) Superman freezes an entire lake, picks it up by one edge and flies it over a chemical plant (I think) fire. There is no way, even Superman could have picked up the frozen lake the way he does.

The ice wouldn't be able to support its self and would break off in his hands. To be even half way believable he would've had to have got underneath it like Superman gets underneath the Krypton island in Superman Returns.

Superman movies are filled with inconsistencies like this.

Another example is in Superman Returns when Superman puts down the shuttle plane he's just rescued, holding it at all times from the nose. Again it would break off in his hands and come down with a bigger and very jarring crash. Note later in the film when he rescues Kitty in her runaway car. Superman puts the car down, supporting it from the middle and then maintains support whilst he puts the front down and then moves to the back of the car. Much more believable.

Granted the aeroplane is a much bigger proposition but there is a fine line between what we believe Superman can do and keeping it within our suspension of disbelief.

For example, some reviewers think that Superman's use of heat vision in Superman Returns to melt falling glass before it hits bystanders on the street is really cool. Sure it is but really, what a useless thing to do. As if all the glass would fall out of the windows at exactly the same time, making it possible for Superman to melt it all in momentary fly by.

Not only that but he only does one street. What about the other side of the buildings on that street? What about the buildings on neighboring streets? Well you can't save everybody but you do what you can, right? It's only a small moment of questioning but it takes you out of the movie.

Back to Superman Returns and the big, giant gaping plot hole inconsistency that has nothing to do with any real physics but is entirely accepted as fact in the Superman legend. Kyptonite is lethal to Superman. It is so lethal that just a small rock of it will render Superman unable to even stand (as per the previous movies and I've even seen him collapse in the TV series Smallville).

This movie wants us to believe that within the proximity of an island of kryptonite (that's an ISLAND not a small rock) Superman can:
  • Save Lois, Richard and their son (well Superman's son apparently) from a submerged boat that he single handly lifts from out of the water.

  • Lift a Sea Plane so it can take off.

  • Lift an ISLAND (did I mention it was an ISLAND) of Kryptonite and fly it into space whilst having a shard of Kryptonite still embeded in his side.
Those three points alone blew it for me. All through the scenes with the ISLAND OF KRYPTONITE (it's an ISLAND for god sake - Luthor encased the crystal in Kyptonite because he wanted to make an ISLAND of Kryptonite so Superman would be rendered powerless) my head was screaming IT'S AND ISLAND OF KRYPTONITE!!!

The trouble with Superman is there is a fine line between what we believe Superman can do and keeping it within our suspension of disbelief. It is for this reason that I've never been able to fully embrace Superman as the pinnacle of what a superhero is.

Batman has always been my favorite because Batman has boundaries. Limits to what he can do that we all understand because Batman is human. Even the latest Spiderman movies never go beyond what you believe the character is capable of even though we don't really understand the physics of Spider powers.

Some day I hope they'll get someone who knows the Superman legend like Christopher Nolan knows the Batman legend. Someone who can keep Superman believable for the entire length of the film. Someone who can make Superman... well... Super.

Giant Lego Man Found in Sea.

"...and so sayeth, there will be one who shall come from the sea and he will taketh the land and call it... Lego Land?"

A curious occurrence indeed, with this giant Lego man being washed ashore in the Netherlands. No one seems to know exactly where it came from with some speculating that it might be a Trojan horse... (or is that Trojan Lego man) filled with tiny Lego men come to attack.

Wherever it came from it has to go down as one the strangest things ever to have washed up on a beach. For more details read the complete blog post about the giant Lego man in Spiegel Online.

Art in your couch.

It's a misconception that all art must be created.

There is an art style known a found objects where the artist simply 'finds' an object and presents it as art. French artist Marcel Duchamp started the concept with 'readymades' where he famously 'found' a mens urinal, signed someone else's name on it and called it art.

This opened the way for many artists to follow with all manor of objects from bricks to almost any item you can name being presented as art.

You too can join in this progressive style simply by looking down the back of your couch or underneath your teenagers bed. Who knows what artworks might be awaiting your discovery?

Fame and fortune is surely not far away.

Is being me good enough?

I wish I could articulate all the thoughts that have been running through my head.

I made the mistake of asking for constructive feedback on one of my videos and got well meaning comments like:

"You need to talk a bit quicker"

"You need to smile a bit more"

"You need to be more expressive"

"Maybe you shouldn't talk, let the art take centre stage"

"Maybe you should talk more like you were just talking to a friend"

I've taken this feedback on board and have been trying to change to be more like whatever it is that people feel I need to be more like. Maybe I should just hire an actor to be me since perhaps the real thing isn't up to scratch? Someone who knows how to talk expressively, well paced and can throw in the occasional smile.

Much of the time, it seems to me, that the majority miss the point of online video and why it isn't and never should be mistaken for television. Television is polished and filled with people who train to be the best at what they do.

Online video, whilst accessible to professionals, is the medium of people just being themselves. Presenting whatever it is that they want to express because they want to share something of themselves with others.

I've become discouraged of late because, try as I might, I can't talk a bit quicker, I'm not usually very expressive and I don't smile a heck of a lot. What you see on camera is exactly how I am when I talk to a friend. I'm not trying to be a television presenter. This is me. This is who I am.

The point of my videos is to let you get to know me, the face behind the art. I don't want the art to take centre stage because the art doesn't tell you anything about me as a person. The art only lets you make assumptions about who I might be not who I actually am.

Trying to change myself for my videos has made the process of making them less and less fun. To the point where I often don't record anything because I just can't be bothered with take after take of trying not to stumble on lines that are supposed to be spontaneous. It's a frustrating process where just saying "Hi, I'm The Extraordinary Tourist" becomes a chore because I continuously stumble the very next line trying to talk quicker and more fluently.

If I do let myself talk naturally I then have to spend hours editing out all the pauses whilst I stop to gather my next thought. Even though I talk to the camera the same as I would talk to a friend it's not quite the same. The camera doesn't speak back. You can't think about what you're going to say next whilst the camera speaks. Pauses become much more noticeable. I don't have to edit the pauses out but it emphasizes the slow pace that I naturally speak at.

I'm sure that, after reading this far, you may be thinking I should just be myself. The problem with that is, being myself just doesn't seem to be good enough.

Flat Light - I wish I'd thought of that!

Flat Light (pictured right), an artwork/design by Finn Magee, is one of those, oh so simple design ideas that you look at and think why didn't I think of that?

Essentially it's a picture of a desk lamp that is wired up so it lights up as if it was a real desk lamp. The designer also has a version of this concept featuring a digital clock with the possibility that both versions may become available as a consumer item. Currently Flat Light is in development with U.S. company Artemide.

I can't tell you much more about this but if you head over to my source We Make Money Not Art there is an interview with the designer and you can see the digital clock version.

Helium Features "An Introduction to Video Blogging" on Home Page.

It's an exciting day today as Helium has just featured my article An Introduction to Video Blogging on their home Page.

Whilst the article will only remain on the home page for a day, you have to remember that this is a site with millions of visitors and every click on my article is worth money. Home Page featured is the pinnacle of Helium writing on a par with being accepted by a partnered print publisher or being the winner of one of Helium's regular contests.

Related Posts with Thumbnails