Thursday, October 24, 2013

Becoming a Minion

I realize today that I almost don't care what season it is, I just like the transformations. Summer, I am sure, really is my favorite season, but I enjoy so much this transformation into autumn and winter (they're kind of the same thing, here in Los Angeles). Maybe this past summer truly was too hot; certainly in Italy during Europe's heatwave it was unbearably hot (a co-worker of mine even complained that London was too hot this summer, so you know that heatwave was intense!). The heat in Italy would suck all the energy out of my body to the point where I could hardly even move by mid or late afternoon. To me the best example of that was what I am going to describe.

I was in the Vatican Museums, and that means that I was actually in the Vatican itself, and naturally one of the things I wanted to see in the Vatican was St. Peter's Square and the Basilica (those are like the main things to see there). I was even wearing long pants (in all that heat), because the Vatican will not allow you inside the Basilica wearing shorts. So I was certainly prepared, and suffering in that preparation for a visit to the Basilica.

I was in the Vatican Museums, because I was following the very accurate advice that if you want to get inside the museums without having to stand in a line outside for three hours in Saudi Arabian heat without one postage stamp of shade, you need to reserve your ticket in advance. So I figured I would see the Vatican Museums first, and then go the Saint Peter's afterwards.

"They say" that to follow the full Vatican Museums route is to end up walking five miles. They also have an abbreviated route that one can choose to follow, instead, that takes visitors to all the highlights. But I figured that since I was there, for heaven's sake, I would take the full route. And yes, I am glad I did. I think in what appears to be typical fashion for me, I end up enjoying something peculiar and off the beaten track, while the normal "highlights" can bore me.

I believe that there are some women at work who now subtly hate me, or at least have serious doubts about my standing as a human being, because I told them that seeing the Michelangelo statue of "David" in Florence was a "meh" experience for me. Well, that surprised me, too! After all, I had put Florence on my itinerary just to go see the statue of David. So I certainly expected to be bowled over by it. But honestly, I saw it at the end of the hall (surrounded by several thousand visitors) and I really just kind of shrugged my shoulders. I'm not sure why, but I think it is because I have already seen a picture of that statue ten thousand times, not to mention hundreds of reproductions everywhere. Really, seeing it in person was no big deal. It really felt no different than if I had seen a copy of it at the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas (maybe I have seen that there, I don't remember). But yeah, there it was, pretty huge, and pretty solid marble, but it was still kind of a "so what". Okay, so I'm a Philistine (or some other kind of awful person).

There were some observations that I had upon looking at the statue of David, though, which I will share here.

People say that the statue is distorted, that David has a bigger head than he should have for the size of his body, and bigger hands, because Michelangelo was making a "statement", such as "the power of human intellect had now overtaken a simple faith in God," or something about "mankind's ability to remake the world" or whatever. And, yes, if you look at s straight-on photograph of the statue, you would think that the head was too large, and so on. But standing on the ground looking twenty feet up (or however tall that statue is) at his head, all the sizes are perfect. So I don't think Michelangelo had David's head "too big" to make a statement about human intellect, I think Michelangelo was an artist who understood visual perspective and ingeniously altered the more distant body part dimensions so that they looked perfect from where the viewer was standing.

This, by the way, was also helpful for the size of David's penis, that has long been considered shockingly small by people merely looking at a photo of the statue in an encyclopedia. But in person, that penis is closer to the eye than David's head (which had to be enlarged so that it would appear to be the right size when you see it from down below) and it is not a proportionally-too-small-penis at all, but one rather respectable for David, the Giant-killer.

Also, as long we are looking at that area (and who there isn't), I can't say that I am a huge fan of foreskins--sorry to all those people crying about how they were maimed when they were helpless little babies (although I thoroughly disagree with the concept of performing a circumcision without anesthetic, that's truly abusive) and now seek out surgery to make them "intact" again (isn't there something a whole lot more significant in life to worry about at this point than something like that?), so to my (Philistine) eye, a penis with a foreskin looks like the penis of an animal.

But Michelangelo, that artist! He made David's foreskin look like something truly lovely, like it was soft and sensitive and as pliable as a lily's petal, all wrinkled and kind of shy while at the same time manly and eager to please, how on earth did he do that by carving such delicateness out of marble! Now that amazed me, I will admit, and was actually well-worth seeing from an "art and skill appreciating" perspective. So I think if Michelangelo was making a statement about mankind with that statue, he was making it with that foreskin.

Or, even better than the foreskin, David's balls! Now, despite Michelangelo's skill with David's foreskin, I who was circumcised do not feel cheated, but I do feel cheated that I don't have those David balls. Those were like horse balls, or shotput balls; you could go bowling with those balls. They were as large as goose eggs and seemed to made of iron or steel. They seemed to be slung like pendulums swinging; I would almost go so far as to say that the slingshot-slung projectiles that killed Goliath were David's balls and all David had to do was stand there naked brandishing them and Goliath was a goner. That's how God helped David kill...he just gave him the best set of balls a man had ever had so that the lesser man simply gave up and said, "Okay, I give up, you, and all the people who come after you, win."

Okay, so maybe it looks like I got more out of seeing the statue of David than I was willing to admit, but my reaction wasn't like those two women at work, one of whom said the minute she saw David, she burst into tears, and the other one said that she thought the statue of David was the single most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her entire life and she just couldn't take her eyes off of him. Yeah, yeah, well, okay, it is a statue, don't go all Pygmalion on us or something. And I didn't think that a discussion on foreskin and balls would redeem myself in their eyes, so I just go on and let them hate me.

There were lots of other things in that museum in Florence that entranced me more, and I can say the same thing about the Vatican Museums, as well, where I really didn't have the patience to fully appreciate the Sistine Chapel ceiling (that Michelangelo actually hated painting), the seeing of which is the great climax of five miles of walking throughout museum corridors. And that was the hottest room of all, stuffy and suffocating, and kind of creepy in atmosphere. Filled with people craning their necks looking up at all the paintings (far too many of them, people or paintings), and benches filled with people studying all the details, all in perfect hushed silence, the only noise coming from the several guards that were constantly saying "shhhhhhhh!" If I lived in Rome, I would probably devote some more time to the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but somehow in that heat and with my legs tired and by then in agony, it just seemed silly to pretend. I can appreciate the historical value of it, and it was cool to see the actual things that Michelangelo painted or sculpted, and I am sure that there would be legions of things in all those paintings to understand and appreciate, but I just wanted to go back to a cool place and lie down.

When you leave the Vatican Museums, you actually come outside of the wall of the Vatican onto a street in Rome again, and so for me to go to see Saint Peters was a pretty long walk all the way around that wall to the main entrance into the plaza. At that point, that distance seemed immense, and looking at my map, I saw that the walking distance to the entrance to Saint Peter's Square was the same distance as the walk to the subway stop, and I figured I couldn't do both of them, so naturally I chose the walk to the subway and back to my hotel.

So that's my point about how hot it was in Italy...the heat sucks so much energy out of you that while I was actually there at the Vatican, I simply did not have the energy to walk the distance to the entrance to Saint Peter's Square. So I just have to save that for some other time. Probably not for a summer, though.

So, I have been enjoying the simple pleasure of cold air blowing on me, mostly from the sudden change in season, but also when I open a window, or even, like last Monday, feeling the cool air blowing on me while doing leg presses with my personal trainer, the breeze coming from the ceiling fan in his gym.

It's suddenly gotten darker, too, so that I notice it, anyway; it's dark when I get home from work and I find that I am liking that. It makes my apartment feel secure and cozy, which is how it feels when it becomes Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Halloween is first. At work, the Headmaster and the COFO decide a "costume theme" for the administrative team, the idea of which I partially dislike and partially like. What I dislike about that is that you can't pick the exact costume you might want to wear. But what I like about it is that the entire realm of costume possibilities is narrowed-down for you, so it is easier to choose a costume that fits within that theme. This year, their choice is characters from the movie "Despicable Me", which I never saw but I understand is very cute and all the kids love it. So I guess it's a good choice for a costume theme, except there's not a lot of choices within that theme, which helps if otherwise you had no idea at all. The Headmaster, of course, chose to be Gru, the main character who starts out bad but becomes good. (He jokes that he thinks his job there at the school has made him go in the other direction.) The COFO has chosen to be Dr. Nefario, and their idea is that basically everybody else becomes a Minion. Are they trying to tell us something by that choice in Halloween costume theme? Are we to be reminded that we really are just their minions? Look at the synonyms for the word minion: underling, henchman, flunky, lackey, hanger-on, follower, servant, hireling, vassal, stooge, toady, sycophant, servant, yes-man, suck-up, and boot-licker. Well, as employees, I guess that's all we really are. (I don't think anyone else is thinking of what that word actually means. They seem to think it simply refers to funny little cartoon characters, as if we were to play the part of flying monkeys or something.)

I think, though (upon my reading up on Minions), that we, as employees, actually are pretty much like these characters in a good way. Our working world is quite different from the corporate world; we do have tons of work and we get it done, but in a very fun-loving and full-of-freedom way, so maybe these alter egos really are perfect expressions of us.

To become a Minion can be pretty straight-forward, I think, and at this point I now have almost all of the elements. I bought one of those full head and body-suits in yellow, and bought at a thrift shop some blue overalls. My hiking boots will make some good work shoes, and I have some black gloves. One can download from the Internet Minion eyes to cut out and incorporate into goggles. The trouble for me is that I can't see very well without my glasses, and with the yellow hood over my head, it is even harder to see. I realized today that maybe I could find some safety goggles that would fit over my regular eyeglasses that I could glue the Minion eyeballs in (they have places in the printed eyeballs where you poke holes so that you can see through the eyes).

Studying pictures of the characters, I see that they have a "Gru" company logo emblazoned on the bib of their overalls, and, of course, they all have mouths (with lips, teeth, and a tongue). But my real mouth will be covered by the yellow face hood, so I realized that I will have to make a mouth to put on the outside of the hood, and also outside of the hood is where I will wear my glasses and the goggles. I haven't figured out the hair yet, but I imagine something like nylon bristles cut from a little broom or something.

After work today, I went to a fabric shop to buy some felt squares--black, red, white, and yellow, for cutting out the logo and for cutting out the mouth, the tongue, and the teeth and some needles and thread to sew the pieces together and onto the hood and overalls. There at the fabric shop, I felt like I was "a woman", buying those things.

But directly next door was the Harbor Freight Tool store, so I went in there, now being "a man", to buy safety goggles for making the eyes. It's all for Halloween, but still it was fun seeing that tool store; lots of cool stuff in there. And yes, I liked the fabric shop, too. I can sew. I've made my own clothes sometimes. And I can make things like this:

So I guess it all evens out. Call me a "multi-task-ual".

When I came out of the tool store, the air had gotten chillier (cozier) and there were small leaves and seeds all over my car from the tree I was parked under--it's fall! In my car, I scrolled through the menu on my iPod and happened to land on some Christmas songs. So I listened to Christmas music on the way home, singing along with some of them. A month too early, maybe, but so what.


Andrew said...

Interesting observations about the Statue of David. I never picked up on the size of or his orbs from any photo I have seen. I felt quite disappointed when I saw Van Gough's Flowers. It was so small. And also Mona Lisa.

Pitbullshark said...

Andrew, it sometimes seems better if a work of art isn't so hyped up. I was disappointed in Van Gogh's "Irises" (it's a pretty painting, yes, but…) especially understanding how much was being paid for it. A man named Alan Bond bought it for $53.9 million, but then couldn't afford to pay for it (I wouldn't be surprised!) so the Getty Museum then bought it for an undisclosed price (that's were I saw it). Another Van Gogh painting, "Portrait of Dr. Gachet", sold for $82.5 million. Who knows what somebody would want to pay for the Mona Lisa if the Louvre would ever sell it, which probably would be never. It is funny when these paintings are small!

Anonymous said...

p/b, Regarding the seasons we just had a wonderful four part series here on the BBC called 'The Great British Year' which each week looked at a different season. And being that I can never make my mind up which season is my favourite, I thought I would wait until this evening's final installment to help me make up my mind. And without a doubt it must be Autumn after watching tonights autumnal (Fall like) episode.

This Saturday just gone we changed our clocks back and now its the Winter lockdown. And to be honest I cant wait for Spring. For many people here I'm sure that the only attraction of winter is the temporary distraction of Christmas and the possibility of snow. But thats all.
And of course Summer is great, with something going on every week ie Parades, Festivals, Street parties, concerts, naked bike rides, Gay Pride and suddenly seeing the garden again.
No wonder I find myself counting the days. But yes Spring is probably the most exciting Season with so much to come.
Strange how I also thought that the statue of David had rather big hands when you look head on. I didn't realize that Michaelangelo was adjusting the size to suit the angle of viewing.
But I think that all of our top statues here in London all have small manhoods. We're told that this was purposely done so as not to distract us from looking at the main structure of the statue. And to think that many of them were put up and placed around our capital during the prudish Victorian period.
I find the Mona Lisa quite fascinating. I once did a sketch of it that I'm quite pleased with. I still have it.


Pitbullshark said...

Dee, one might think that no one would like winter the best, but I have known some skiers whose favorite season, naturally, was winter. A friend of mine very much liked a British folksinger named Maddy Prior and he made me a cassette tape (oh lord, I wonder where that has gone to, I realize I haven't seen in years) of one of her albums, called "Year", in which she sings in a medieval style about all the different seasons of a British year. Her "Winter" was by far the best, so haunting and beautiful that I used to listen to it daily (regardless of the season) just to put me into a particular mood. So while I guess she is describing a time that is very bleak, it also is a time for going quietly deep into oneself and there is always something deliciously beautiful about doing that.

I never know when we are supposed to change the clocks until somebody at work mentions it. I suppose that comes from never watching the propaganda of main stream news, so I miss out on some of those minuscule details, which I obtain via other means. However, many of the time-keeping devices I have change the time automatically (computers, iPhone, etc.), so I find myself following the correct time without even knowing that the change had occurred.

I don't know FACTUALLY that Michelangelo altered the body dimensions to conform with the rules of perspective, that's just what my eyes and brain told me from seeing the statue in person. Now, if I read something that he wrote that counteracts that, then I would believe HIM, but only then, not what some scholar wanted to interpret FOR me. I can do my own observing, interpreting, and understanding, which is what art is for in the first place.

There seems to be a lot of explanations around regarding statues with "small manhoods", and yet, after seeing about 10,000 sculptures when I was in Italy this summer, one thing I took away from it was that these sculptures were geniuses at portraying exactly how people really looked (unless it was obvious that they were trying not to for some other effect or meaning). And it's not that they were the least bit shy about portraying genitals. So I can only assume that it is our idea that is wrong, not what is shown on the statues. After all, how many of us have spent hours, months, actually, studying every curve and fold of other people's genitals (even those of our own lovers)? All we have to go on, basically, from what we see, is porn, or remembering only some horse-hanging stud we happened to glance at in a locker room and forgot everybody else, or our fathers who were grown men while we were just little boys, or our own imaginings, and wishful thinking. I think what is presented to us "in media" are the outliers.

Pitbullshark said...

Uh oh, Dee, I have to make a correction. I checked out the Maddy Prior album and saw that (to me) the most beautiful song on the album and that I listened to daily (more than 15 years ago!) wasn't about winter, but about the shift from summer to autumn, the song "Marigold/Harvest Home"! Interestingly, while it is describing a British autumn, to me it covers the feeling from about October through to the beginning of January. (After the start of January, it is just the long, dull slide toward spring.) I guess in actuality I don't really like winter at all, except when I am living in a place that has snow. Snow is a pain, but also the only good thing in winter other than Christmas.