Worth Every Penny

Okay, then:

A photo of an Irish potato taken by a world-famous visual artist has sold for more than $1 million.

The photo of the potato against a black background was taken byKevin Abosch, a visual artist who has photographed Malala Yousafza,Yoko Ono and others.

While Abosch usually gets half a million dollars for his portraits, the photograph of the potato stood out to a European businessman who purchased it after seeing it at the artist’s Paris home.

Let's be kind and say that it's a good photo; it's a really, really good photo of an unwashed potato. Having said that, I have tons of photos I'd sell for much, much less. Indie bands? Need album covers? I got 'em coming out of my ears.


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John Krasinki's Bomb

It's nice how they're calling 13 Hours a Michael Bay film. It's actually a John Krasinski film directed by Bay, and it's a bomb:

Making a movie about Benghazi is a difficult task. There’s a phenomenally interesting story to be told about the deadly 2012 assault on the diplomatic outpost that captures the drama of the attack itself alongside the complicated politics of post-revolution Libya, the idealistic motivations of the diplomatic personnel who got caught up in the tragedy, and the clandestine machinations of American intelligence services on the ground. Telling that story would be a monumental challenge, requiring a filmmaker with a gift for subtlety, a talent for weaving complex stories together, and a sophisticated understanding of the raw politics that still envelop Benghazi like so much concertina wire.

But we didn’t get any of that. Instead, we get Bayhem.

Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is a bad movie. And I’m not just talking about the filmmaking, which is bad in the way that most Michael Bay movies are bad – it’s loaded up with frenetic camera work, neck-snapping edits that make it impossible to follow the action, and gratuitous war porn. If you were unfortunate enough to have seen “Pearl Harbor,” Bay’s other steaming pile of reductive patriotism, you may remember this shot, in which the camera trails a Japanese bomb as it spins toward an American warship. “13 Hours” features that exact same shot, only this time the camera follows a Libyan militiaman’s mortar shell on its way to murdering an American security agent.

The moral lesson here is--what? Don't make a film without a movie star in it? That you can't attack the Clintons and get away with it? Krasinski can't open a film? Or that Michael Bay has not held on to any of the box office magic he used to have (remember when these were films that came out in the summer--and now we get one after Christmas)? This should have been an early summer release. They should have dropped it on Memorial Day or the 4th of July weekend.

I think you have to divorce the art from the politics in order to succeed. A film like this could have been as successful, if not more successful, than American Sniper. Very similar milieu, very similar kind of a subject. The only thing missing was a performance that would have rivaled Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. Oh, and the fact that Clint Eastwood wisely eliminated Chris Kyle's outspoken wingnut politics from the finished product and focused on his PTSD and his relationship with his wife, which was done in such a way as to make her a central focus of his life without relegating her to a supporting and nurturing role.

If Bay had found two actors who could have pulled off something remotely similar, we'd be talking about something else right now.


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Alan Rickman 1946-2016

No, dammit, no.

Alan Rickman, one of the best-loved and most recognizable British actors of his generation, died Thursday after a battle with cancer, his family announced. Rickman, who was 69 years old, first attracted widespread attention in 1985 playing the Vicomte de Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s stageplay of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Rickman went on to play many memorable roles, such as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies and Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Rickman developed a specialty for playing pantomime villains; in addition to the terror ringleader Gruber, he also found acclaim as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and as Rasputin in a 1995 HBO production. He is survived by his wife, Rima Horton, whom he met in 1965 and married in 2012.

Alan Rickman was a criminally underrated and under-awarded actor. Why he didn't have at least Oscars on his mantle is a question for the ages. He was better--by a wide fucking margin--than virtually anyone who dared to act with him.

Goddamn it.

You're Not Buying Anything

And not just because David Bowie died. No, the Humanities are in decline because people have stopped engaging with the culture beyond a technical interface. Books, films, music--the blockbusters remain but the artists scratching out there on the edges are further and further away from making a living in the arts.

Out of all of these things, there's only one thing I haven't purchased in the last year, and that would be a lottery ticket. I don't know why people fall for a regressive tax. And what would you do with all of that money? It would ruin your life in a matter of months, which has been proven time and again.


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Story Prompt

They drained a canal in Paris and this is one of the things they found.

A boombox, in the water, ruined for now but could it be restored? Could someone with a pair of fifty pound bags of rice dry out the components, flush out the mud, and wipe away the neglect? Could this thing be saved?

It wouldn't be practical (that's a lot of rice to use on an electronic device. That much rice could feed a lot of hungry people. But so could break dancing.

Break dancers feed the soul. They take the performance aspect of the Humanities into the streets and they move around, they take the music that works for their routine and they create something new. A breakdance team with the ability to draw people in can perform on the street for a few hours and make some cash. People can't help but throw money at breakdancers nowadays because it's so rare to see artistry like that. Instead of dressing up like a superhero, a select few of the elite breakdancers can turn everything you know on its ear and make a sheet of cardboard look like a glass floor.

Was there a rivalry that put this boombox at the bottom of the canal? Which faction and which group went to war and accomplished this battle task? Above all else, the boombox goes in the water or we don't win, they said. War is over if boombox goes in the drink, and you have to want it to make it happen. That's cold. Throwing someone's boombox in a canal is like cutting off an arm by accident.

I can imagine a jealous lover throwing the boombox in the canal. Love me, or lose me forever. If you're going to choose the boombox over me, guess what? It's already on the bottom of the canal.

Was there regret for throwing this thing into the water? There's little chance for regret after a prank like this. Waste of a good boombox, man. Waste of a good boombox.

Of course, they're going to pop this thing open and it'll have an Electric Light Orchestra cassette in it. Goddamn, I'd have thrown that thing into the water. Maybe I did when I was in Paris years ago and forgot. I hope they don't find my fingerprints. This is exactly the sort of crime that can be pinned to me because I've never been saintly about such things.

Blue Alps

This was taken in the Tyrol region. I needed some wallpaper that was bluish and alpine looking.

Linderhof in Winter

What happens when you go see someone's old palace and their magical fountain is covered with a bunny hutch? You take pictures and hope the food is good somewhere.

Abandoned Castle

A pair of black and white shots from the early 2010s, taken at yet another abandoned castle in Germany.