Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Monet's Normandy and Pillow Pants

Today was a good day.

My wife and I decided to have a day of sophisticated leisure, so we headed on down to San Francisco to take in the new Monet in Normandy exhibit at the Legion of Honor. The reviews of the showing had been excellent, and being fans of Impressionism my wife and I decided to take in the splendid paintings.

First off, if you aren't doing some art history in your History courses, then you are doing a total disservice to your students. I had no comprehension about how neat that art history was until I started using Impressionism to enhance the Industrial Revolution. That was 6 years ago, and now when I teach World History, I do a whole week on Impressionist artwork and artists. The kids love it. About three years ago, while in Las Vegas, my wife and I took in a Monet exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel, which was on loan from the Boston Museum of Modern Art. Holy God, is it ever an experience looking at these works! The vision that Claude Monet had to create something so exquisite, so truly is moving. I highly recommend viewing some of his work if you have the chance.

This collection was from different collectors, but focused on Monet's work in Normandy. The 60 paintings varied with seascapes, haystacks, coastline geography, and of course, the water lilies at Giverny.

This is my favorite from the exhibition, and the picture does not do it justice. The painting is called
The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mist
. There is a calmness to the painting, but the image is not totally serene. I feel like the mist brings a tad bit of apprehension, tranquil apprehension, to the oncoming day. All in all, the painting moved me the most.

I highly recommend the exhibit, and it is a great place for a beginner to get a wonderful taste of Monet's work. If you do decide to go, I also recommend that you purchase the Teacher Membership. You get the usual do-dads (magazine, special viewings, 10% off the store), but you also get unlimited access to the Legion of Honor and the De Young Museum for a full year. Plus, you can take in a friend for free! Teacher Membership price? $45!!! Hell, my wife and I would have forked out $30 ($15 a piece) for Legion of Honor alone! Now we can come back for the next year and observe other great works!

We were going to go to the De Young today as well, but it was 2 p.m. after we left Monet, and didn't want to hit traffic going north on Highway 101 (one of the worst stretches in the Bay Area). We weren't quite ready to go home yet, and decided to complete the day with fine cinema to go with our fine art.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Jay and Silent Bob have returned!

Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Strikes Back) is one of my favorite directors. His humor is witty, crude, and he takes my generation and opens up our culture with a controlled and chaotic zealousness. Well, on Friday, Smith released Clerks 2 to the viewing public, and my wife and I were in line today to get our fix of the "Counter Culture". How does it rate? Well, if you don't like crude humor, don't go see it. It is truly a Kevin Smith style film. I would rank it better than Jay & Silent Bob, slightly behind the original Clerks, but not as good as Mallrats or Chasing Amy, the latter of which is one of the best films ever produced. Seriously. What that means is that there are scenes that are laugh-out-loud hilarious, and Kevin Smith has made a sequel that is damn good. Many of the regulars pop up in the movie in little cameo roles; Ben Affleck, Wanda Sykes, Scott Mosier, Jason Mewes, and of course, Kevin Smith himself. The dialogue is snappy, funny, and quite a bit more refined than his last couple of efforts.

However, the highlight of the show is newcomer Trevor Fehrman (far left), who plays a geek named Elias who is obsessed with Jesus, Transformers, and Lord of the Rings. A scene with Elias, well known "Clerk" Randall, and the evil "Pillow Pants" could be considered one of the funniest in Smith's film history. Yes, it is THAT funny! Oh, and Rosario Dawson is very easy on the eyes as well. But remember, non-Kevin Smith movie fans need to be aware; this film is definitely not for everyone!

Ahhhh, the feeling of a cultured and productive day............
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