The universe really wants me to be in the mood for Christmas. I mean, it's snowing in Seattle in NOVEMBER, and it reminded me of how much I kind of miss the way snow dampens sound and simultaneously mutes colors and reflects light. I miss real winter.

So, as a pre-Thanksgiving Christmas treat, the Cambridge Choir performing "Gabriel's Message."

(Or, if you prefer Sting's version)


Do you like the 70s and like to remember what you learned from college?

Then I have an awesome 4 part series from John Berger, who wikipedia tells me is "an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a college text."

No kidding. Anyway Ways of Seeing is actually a very interesting way to look at the purposes of visual art, how people perceive that art, and how the oil painting tradition of Western Europe has influenced how art is used today.

What I liked most about this series is how much Berger concentrates on personal reactions to art and keeping honest about what the messages these pieces of art are portraying. In the first couple episodes, he takes time to discuss art with first, a group of children and how they perceive a painting, and second, how a group of women feel about how women are portrayed in nude portraits. I think it helps his argument immensely by taking it outside of the blue-background studio where his talking head bits are recorded. The series also does a good job of letting a viewer make conclusions for themselves, quietly juxtaposing pictures, but then also emphasizing that this was on purpose to send a message. How meta!

Anyway, take 2 hours and watch the whole series. Part 1 of each episode and a description below:

Episode 1: An interesting view on how reproducing great works of art has decreased it's worth in terms of it's original intent/setting, but also how that has increased the value of works of art so much that it has become its own religion. He also touches on how cinematic elements changes art for a television screen.

Episode 2: How the female nude is different from just nakedness, how that is linked to female identity, and how the principles of female nudes in oil paintings are still seen today.

Episode 3: Berger discusses the messages from the oil portrait tradition (basically, "I'm rich"), and how paintings opened the doors for consumerism.

Episode 4: Focuses on modern advertisements and what they cause a consumer to do (imagine a potential future), and how that compares to oil paintings of the past. It also touches on how absurd it's become.


PBS is lovely

Because it reminded me how adorable Rupert Graves is (you're still looking good, you silver fox). He plays the boss to the crazy and caustic Sherlock Holmes on House Sherlock. No really, it's basically House with British accents. Mix in some Martin Freeman as Doc Watson and of course I'm watching this.