Today I’m not talking about how long it took me to get to sleep or how sick yet lethargic I feel today. Really I’m not.
I picked up my first concert ticket for 2005 this week. Yowza. I’d probably already seen a half dozen shows by this point last year. All part of growing old and getting lazy. I’ve expressed before my apathy towards the live experience, and my many theories on the cause of it (although I don’t believe I mentioned winter hermitage), so I won’t get into it, but what, you may ask, has made me decide to emerge from my urban basement in two week’s time? What can tear my sickness contaminated fingers away from my keyboard and pull me out of my Paragon City superhero fantasyland?
Why, the chance to be handsome of course.
Now, I’ve been told that I’m a nice looking guy, and I’ve come to believe it, somewhat. But I don’t think I’ve got what it takes for the “handsome” compliments to come my way. That’s why I purchased a ticket for the introductory seminar put on by Handsome Boy Modeling School. The school’s founders, Chest Rockwell and Nathaniel Merriweather will let me know if I have what it takes to be a Handsome Boy graduate.
The ticked cost $27 which is a lot less than the $60 for the full enrolment fee, but if Misters Rockwell and Merriweather deem me worthy, I’m all for shelling out the extra dough to earn that moustache of honour.
For those that have no idea what I’m talking about, Handsome Boy Modeling School is the duo of uber-producers Dan “The Automator” and Prince Paul (Merriweather and Rockwell, respectively). When they put on the fancy suits, fake moustaches and smoking accessory (pipe or cigar) they become the golobal purveyors of handsome. They also make music. Huge sprawling diverse albums, the latest, “White People” features strange artist combinations including the Marz Volta, Del The Funkee Homosapien, Kid Koala, Franz Ferdinand, Cat Power, Jack Johnson, De La Soul, the RZA, John Oates (yes, of Hall and…) and many, many, many more.
It’s obvious that they’re not going to be able to drag these headlining calibre artists on tour with them, but they said to expect surprises. The Automator brought his troupe, Lovage, to Toronto about three years ago, and it was an amazing experience. Kid Koala, Mike Patton, Jennifer Charles of Elysian Fields, and the Automator graced a bachelor pad decorated stage, as they sang their ribald tunes of the lust and the sexy. Automator was garbed in a crush velvet smoking jacket, and Kid Koala in footie pyjamas. Patton wore his bath robe and a hair net, and Charles poured her shapely figure into a shiny silver catsuit. Automator serverd martinis to his crew during the performance, and whip cream was passed around the audience. A severly truncated version of Lady Chatterly’s Lover was projected on screen at the back of the stage. It was a hot, hot night in many respects. (Also of note, Metric opened for Lovage back before they disbanded and then rebanded, back when they were still eletropoppy and not all alt-rocky as they are today).
I’m expecting a completely different show from the Handsome Boy Modeling School crew. It should be more spectacle than concert, involving instead of passive arms crossed head nodding. No place for stiff pretentious sarcastic well -coiffed Buddy Holly glassesed corduroy jacketed ironic-anything hipster kids. They’re going to get you involved and you’re going to join it, or else your unhandsome ass is going to flunk out.
Buck 65 and K-OS are supporting the School on tour throughout the US, but since they’re both headliner’s here, I doubt we’ll be seeing them. The Rondo Brothers, whomever they are, should be giving lessons when Rockwell and Merriweather are on a recess smoke break.
My God, it’s full of stars
This year I’ve started keeping track of my multimedia consumption. I’ve been keeping a monthly entry on one of the sidebar blogs that simply lists all the books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, dvds I’ve rented/bought/borrowed, comics I’ve picked up, cds I’ve purchase etc. I also put the relevant consumption date beside it, and I’ve also implemented a star system as an ease of reference point. “How did I like this? Oh, three stars.”
I’ve been keeping these monthly lists in “draft” mode because, aside from curiousity, I’m not sure why anyone would follow it. It’s mainly for my reference anyway, and not intended to start a public debate. When I was updating it yesterday I accidentally switched its setting to publish, and I guess between when it happened and when I corrected it, a few people had read it, including my best bud Ryan.
Ryan prompted me on my star ranking system asking me to justify my logic behind it, as he maintains his own star ranking system for his Japanese and Mexican wrestling match reviews. He hardlined his ranking system, telling me what each of the five levels of star classification mean to him. I was going to say I hadn’t really thought about the ranking system to that extent, but that would be a lie.
I think Roger Ebert has talked at length about what his four star ranking system means in his Answer Man column. Some excerpts:
I have always awarded stars in a relative, not an absolute way, based to some degree on a movie’s success in doing what it wants to do, and what the audience expects from it. Of course, if you think stars are limited, you ought to try working with thumbs.
Stars are relative, not absolute, and analyzing them represents a waste of valuable time that could be profitably spent watching aquarium fish or memorizing the sayings of Dr. Johnson. I am compelled to award them because of market pressures. I, too, would rather see “The Life Aquatic” again than “The Stepford Wives,” but within the context of the two films, I think “The Life Aquatic” falls further short of what it was trying to do — even though what it does is better than anything in “The Stepford Wives.” I realize my logic is impenetrable. I recommend just reading the reviews and ignoring the stars.
That latter quote is almost verbatim my thoughts. Movies (and anything else) are hard to compare against one another. How does one compare The Beatles’ White Album to Amon Tobin’s Splinter Cell soundtrack. They’re not the same thing. Over at Thor’s Comic Column we’ve replaced stars with Viking heads, but same thing. An issue of Black Panther may be 4/5 vikings good, but is it as good as a 4/5 viking Joe Sacco’s The Fixer? They’re completely different.
The star system is easy access. “Is it good?” For some people something isn’t good unless it’s a 4/4 star product. For others a 3/5 star product is perfectly okay. It’s the lazy man’s accessibility to critique/review. Instead of actually reading about something, you poll a half doze critics (7 out of 10 critics gave this a 3 out of 4 rating … must be all right). In fact that’s what both RottenTomatoes.com and metacritic.com have based their websites off of, statistically aggrigating critical reviews (or reviewing films by math).
To paraphrase Ebert, there’s stuff that’s good, and there’s stuff you like and there’s often a wide difference between them. I really liked Tank Girl but I recognize that it’s not a good movie. Conversely I recognize that Schindler’s List is a great movie but I’d much rather watch Tank Girl than Schindler’s List. I’d give Tank Girl a 2.5/5 ranking whereas Schindler’s List would be a 4.5 or 5/5 ranking. So the ranking is scalable, and tastes are subjective.
Similar to Ebert, my numbers come from the success of what seemed to be the intentions versus what shows up in the end product, but I also will toss in how much I enjoyed something into that.
As you may notice though, most of the Ent.Etc. reviews aren’t ranked, I use a star system only as a crib sheet for myself.
None to 1 1/2 stars = bad, really nothing redeeming about it and you should not only never approach it again, but you should avoid further contact with anyone who did enjoy it
2 or 2 1/2 stars = some redeeming qualities but it’s a painful process getting to them, or you can see the qualities in it that you really want to like but chances are you just can’t bring yourself to liking them
3 or 3 1/2 stars = probably has some supremely geeky element to it that makes you love it despite all its faults… whether you’re a fan of the artist or if it just looks cool, the bad things you can ignore enough to like.
Or, it’s a decent try that doesn’t fully get pulled off as intended. Nothing overtly wrong but not great.
4 stars = means it’s really good, often accessible, solid work by whatever party is involved. It’s not life changing but it is mildly ground breaking/thought provoking. Likely full of charm and/or bright colour and/or pavlovian salivation response to things that tickle the inner geek (things that make you go COOOL)
4 1/2 stars = it’s really damn good, something that will stick in my consciousness for all time as one of my favourite things ever. Sometimes a 4 1/2 star item will be inexplainable, containing elements I enjoy so much I’m blind as to the reason why. These kinds of works often cloud my judgement and make me rabidly defend it even though I may agree with things its detractors say.
5 stars = very rare. Has to be something that’s perfectly executed, or so emotionally overwhelming, or something that is socially groundbreaking… I may not actually like a 5 star item, but a 5 star item will definitely be important and I will tell others that they must check it out for fear of losing their pancreas.
I’m always torn when I review things about whether to include a star system or not. I think pure review is better without the star system but I also love the convenience of the star ranking. Ebert is my idol when it comes to reviews (if only I had 1/8th of his critical skills and good humour) and he works for me both ways. I love reading a good Ebert review, but often I’ll see a 1 1/2 star review and say it’s not worth seeing and not worth reading the review (I trust his judgement that much). It’s a time saver.
So, no answers, just a lot of ’splanations.
Thanks for the topic Ry.