Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just the briefest collection of thoughts about the pick and roll ...

Which would be a great name for a rap duo.

Spoiler Alert:  If you're a Knicks fan you're not going to like this.

The pick and roll:  One guy is dribbling the ball and his teammate sets a screen.  At which point, all sorts of scenarios ensue, depending on how the defense reacts:  For starters, the guy with the ball can just drive to the basket.  Or the guy setting the pick can, once he's done that, roll to the basket and receive a pass from the first guy.  That's why it's called the pick and roll.  Or, instead of rolling, he can also step back, receive the ball and shoot it.  Likewise the original ball handler can take the jumper as well.  Plus some other stuff, possibly involving a third teammate, that we don't have time to go into here.

It's like the blues -- simple and complicated at the same time.

As is so often the case in life, the trick in multi-variable situations is to try to eliminate one of the variables and let the chips fall where they may when the other thing happens.  As in:  "If that guy wants to take 18 foot jump shots, we'll give them to him all day long.  But we'll be damned if we're going to let him roll unimpeded to the basket."

All of which leads me to the unpleasant statistic of the day:  The Knicks, in their majesty, managed to rank dead last in points allowed per possession on plays finished by both the guy with the ball and the guy setting the screen.  The moral being that it's okay (although not great, obviously) to be last in the NBA in one of those variables, but if you are then you should definitely be doing the tighten-up on the other one.  Being last at both simply means your defense is a shambles.  Incapable of defending one of the most common plays in basketball.  Which is ironic, given that Mike Woodson was supposed to be a defensive coach.

Anyway, the question, now that Woodson is gone and a new coach is on the way, is do we want to be like these guys ...

 Or do we want to be like these guys ...

For those of you not completely in the loop, they are the 73 Knicks (with Phil Jackson in the upper left) and (I think) the 91 Bulls (with Phil Jackson at top, center).

If we want to be like the Knicks then it's time to let Carmelo Anthony go and just start building from the ground up.  If we want to be like the Bulls we have to find an adequate Scottie Pippin analog.  Which, given the givens, is virtually impossible.  It also presupposes that Carmelo is the Jordan analog, which is its own leap of faith.

Offensive wizardry aside (and the guy is really something with the ball -- way better than I thought he would be), I still find Anthony to be the least impressive super-star in basketball.

I vote 73 Knicks.

Brief personal aside:  I'm sad to see Woodson go, even though it's time.  He comported himself well and I feel bad that he's getting the short end of the stick.  It should also be said, given the personnel, that Winston Churchill himself (a defensive wizard in his own right) probably couldn't turn the current Knick roster into a decent defensive team.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Just When You Thought Game of Thrones Couldn't Get Any Better ...

... I stumble across this:
Meanwhile, as we have previously reported, two British porn stars, Jessica Jenson and Samantha Bentley have both been signed up for the new series of Game Of Thrones, playing hookers, on which Jenson commented to The Sun newspaper in a recent interview: 
“Game of Thrones was nothing like I’m used to but I got on with the job. It was a great honor. I’d love a career in mainstream acting. 
“I have a small role in an episode – I can’t give much away. It was exciting rubbing shoulders with the cast. Everyone was really nice.”

Dude -- The only thing better than this would have been of Lady Sybil hadn't died in childbirth.

Ever your obedient servant, I googled their images, thinking to post a couple of safe-for-work pix.  But I was underwhelmed, visually, so I stepped away.

I don't mean to judge people based on their looks but a) I'm a portrait painter, and b) they're porn stars.  What are we supposed to judge them on?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Go Big or Go Home

This from my boy Henri Matisse ...

Wow.  Painted by an 80-year old man who couldn't get out of bed.  "Painted" might be the wrong word, and "couldn't get out of bed" is a bit of an exaggeration, but still.

If I had to pick a set of museum galleries I visit more than any other, it would be the Asian rooms at the Met.  You look at some of that stuff, screens and scrolls and hand rolls, many of them hundreds and hundreds of years old, and marvel at how sharply modern they appear.  Likewise my boy Matisse.  Look at that thing.

On a related note, there used to be a Tex-Mex/Asian fusion restaurant on 8th Avenue in Chelsea that made a moo shu handroll with hoisin that, even if I can't think of the name of the place, I still remember quite vividly.  They made a caesar salad with cornbread croutons that was also quite something.

The good news?  After it finishes a run at the Tate Modern, the biggest Matisse cutout show in history is headed to New York.  Nice story here.  Mark your calendars for mid-October.

This from Joan Mitchell, just so you're paying attention ...

That girl could really paint.

Me?  I'm feeling anger at MoMA.  In fact, I've let my membership lapse, mostly in response to the excresance (my word) they've proposed as their massive new expansion/redesign.  Horrible on any number of levels, its greatest sin, it seems to me, is that we so rarely get a chance to reinvent ourselves (in this case, I'm referring to the opportunity to turn the single worst bit of recent museum design, that being the current MoMA, into something good at last; but we could be talking about Henri Matisse, hamstrung by his declining physical condition, saying to himself that he had to either go big or go home, home in this case meaning creative death, and proceeding to think up a whole new medium), that the shameful banality of what they came up with seems all the more disappointing.

Dude, really?  Is there anything you'd like to say to the assembled group?
That I'm sorry about that last sentence?
Thank you.  
Eleven commas seems like a lot for anybody.
Here you're treating the phrase 'eleven commas' as a collective singular?
I guess.
Don't forget the semicolon.
Guilty as charged.
Apology accepted.

Anyway, I may renew just so I can go see the Matisse show more than once without having to cough up the 25 bucks twice.  Or a third time.

Back to the Met for a moment:  This never fails to slay me ...

Painted in 1825 by a guy named Suzuki Kiitsu.  Which is not old at all, compared to some of the stuff.  But if I could steal just one thing from a museum, and had a room big enough to put it up, this might be it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Flash Boys, by Michael Lewis

Enjoyed it quite a bit.  Thought it flagged a bit in the middle but then picked up steam and chugged nicely to the finish.  Not to be confused with The Great Gatsby, but really, what is?

All that aside, the following section, excerpted from Kindle page 210, annoys me ...
There was a reason for even the oddest events.  For instance, one day, investors woke up to discover that they'd bought shares in some company for $30.0001.  Why?  How was it possible to pay ten-thousandths of a penny for anything?
Forgive me, but I believe that should be ten-thousandths of a dollar, not a penny?  Crikeys, if Michael Lewis can't do the math, imagine the shit Jim Cramer is coming up with.

And why do I have to be in charge of everybody's typos?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hold Tight Gently

I would urge you to buy this book ...

You can do it here, among other places.

I knew the top guy -- Michael Callen -- a little bit in the Eighties.  Anybody who worked in the ad/pr agency world during that sad period of time saw the AIDS epidemic cut through the gay community of New York like ... well, it wasn't like anything I've ever seen.  I'd use the word plague, but there's a pejorative context to plague that bugs me in this particular situation.  No matter what word you use, effective treatment for AIDS didn't really emerge til the early 90s and before that it was just carnage.

You should read Michael's wikipedia page.  Quite a special man.

I worked at a public relations agency that hit its peak around 1985.  We had about 18 employees, half men, half women.  One day I looked up from my desk ... early 1990-something ... and realized every male employee from that era other than the agency owner and me had died.

Obviously it was more complicated than that, but still ...

Plus, what a great title.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Yo Yo Ma on Cello

Everybody's seen this about a hundred times, but it never fails to give me just a little shot in the side of the head.  Also, kudos to Ann Hathaway's publicist for getting a photo of her inserted at the 1:45 mark.

It's also fun to shout out who the painter is as the images shoot by.  I got 63.  You?

But none of that is the point.  The point is that I was listening to Yo Yo Ma playing solo cello suites at a really high volume the other day, and let me tell you, it's like dropping acid without the negative side effects.  The one playing under the video is Bach's Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007.  Lest you be too impressed, I don't know what any of that means -- I cut and pasted it from the intro section.  Nonetheless, just try typing that into the Spotify search box.

There's something about my speakers that render the cello, particularly the single low notes that sometimes jump out at you, in the most exquisite manner possible.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I was showing somebody my John McCain painting the other night ...

Which was great.  She was highly appreciative. Although you should have seen her face when I told her the only beer I had was Pabst.

"Blue Ribbon!" I cried no avail.  But that's another story.  This is the Senator ...

Fast forward to a moment ago when, somehow, I wandered across a U-Tube clip of Keith Olbermann talking about David Letterman's recent retirement announcement.  Which, you're thinking, has nothing to do with John McCain.

Which is the kind of wrong thinking that drives people like you, dear reader, like lemmings to The Year of Magical Painting.  Even after I stopped writing it you people kept coming.  So I had to start it back up again.  Which, let me promise you, pisses me off.

I think we're getting a little off message, don't you?
Possibly.  But what's the point of any of this shit anyway?
Fair question.  But tell me again about Keith Olbermann.
You're fucking with me, aren't you?
How so?
With the clear reference to George asking Lenny to tell him about the rabbits one last time.
I don't know how to answer that.
No surprise, Persephone.  What's Xerxes up to?
He's gone, man.  Forget about him.  Tell me about Olbermann.
Okay, but only because I wanted to talk about it in the first place.
Perfectly reasonable.
Thank you.
No, thank you.

So.  It should be noted up front that Olbermann is, most of the time, a pantload.  Some might call him a pantload's pantload -- the gist of the concept being that only a genuine pantload can recognize the true genius in Olbermann's pantloading, if that's even a verb.

But the opposite side of the coin is that when he's on his game he can be a wonderful television presence.  Top end talking head.  That's why, presumably, he keeps his job, or gets new jobs after he loses his old ones, despite his generally annoying nature.

Thus this -- Olbermann at what one might call the top of his game on Letterman's retirement ...

Which leads, inexorably, to this -- which is a hoot ...

Somewhere, post-Lehman, somebody wrote on one of my paintings "Sarah Palin was, like Lehman, the first big mistake."

Rivendell, and Such ...

I'm feeling like it's somewhere near the end of The Lord of the Rings.  The Shire is safe, as are all the little folk of the world.  Rivendell endures.  A great evil has been smote.  Rent asunder.  Vanquished, as much as evil truly can be vanquished.  And an age of peace and decency and goodness has descended onto the Middle Earth.

I feel this way, of course, because the Huskies of the University of Connecticut managed to kick the asses of John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats up one side of the court and down the other on their way to a fourth National Championship.  Proof, I suppose, of a benevolent larger power.

There was an old notion about the Americans in Vietnam.  They came, they blew up a bunch of shit, and then they left.  And the jungle closed behind them as if they'd never been there.  Ditto the French.  Ditto the Chinese.  Etcetera.  With most of Kentucky's freshmen just passing through the obligatory year in college on their way to the NBA, years from now it will have been as if that whole Kentucky team never happened.

Two words in closing:  Shabazz Napier.

Great name.  Sometimes you watch a basketball game and you just have the sense that one guy is operating on a level one notch above the others.  This was the case with Mr. Napier last night.  Particularly in traffic.  God bless the man -- it was a joy to watch.  Even though he's only six feet tall it will be interesting to see how he does in the pros.

There's a great line in A Midsummer's Sex Comedy where the designated hottie -- played by Julie Hagerty, maybe, back when she was hot in a thinking man's sort of way -- beats the college professor at chess.  "You," he says in defeat, "have a keen grasp of spacial dynamics."

Ditto my man Shabazz.