Archive for May, 2010

Hockey! I Know Nothing, Nothing At All.

Thirty-five years of some degree of obsession with ice hockey, and I have reached a conclusion that I know nothing of the game, and I am beginning to suspect that nobody else does either.

Montreal’s last-place entrance into the Eastern Conference playoffs was followed by their eliminating the league’s first-place Washington Capitals, and then doing the same to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Improbable? Inexplicable?

Then the hometown team, the Philadelphia Flyers caps a season of under-achieving by sneaking into the playoffs, defeating their old nemesis, the New Jersey Devils in the first series, and then… they come back to win another series, this one against the Boston Bruins in a Game Seven, after being three games down in the series and three goals down in the first period of the seventh game. It’s fun. It’s exciting, but it is also confounding. These things do not seem to happen in most other major league sports, or at least not as frequently as they do in hockey.

Now to add mystification to my confusion, the Eastern Conference Finals between the Flyers and Montreal open with the supposedly spent Flyers, playing on one day’s rest, zapping the supposedly rested and ascendant Canadians six-to-zero, and then three-to-zero in the second game. And then, they get to walloped five to one in the third game. And then… Fortunately, I’ve never been tempted to bet on an NHL game. At this writing the Flyers won Game Four beating the Habs three-zip, to take a series lead of three games to one.

This afternoon, the Blackhawks won the Western Conference Series and now await a Cup round against either the Flyers, or will it be the Canadians? I would not venture a dime on any predictions.

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An Imperfect Perfection

Five years ago, I attended the Metropolitan’s “Vincent Van Gogh, The Drawings.” The continuing pleasure I’ve gotten from the show’s soft cover catalogue has vastly out-weighed the money spent.

On my most recent go-through of the almost four-hundred-page volume (116 plates and 268 figures) I find myself stopped, as I was at the show itself, at Plate 32, “Standing Female Nude Seen from the Side.” There is something obviously wrong with the drawing. The most casual glance will fall immediately upon the oversized left foot and the protruding anatomically incorrect right leg. The distended abdomen and its connection to the angled buttocks just might be a physical impossibility.

The catalogue’s curator, Sjaar van Heugyen writes that the drawing, “…makes no concessions to the expectations of the academy,” and that “realistic expression prevails over anatomical correctness.” It could be that it is that same dominance of “realistic expression,” and even what the same curator describes as “the somewhat ‘unfortunate’ right leg,” that are integral in separating this remarkable and stunning little work from so many lesser, but academically and anatomically correct drawings.

Having spent more time than I wish to admit, relative to the results achieved, in sketching, drawing and rendering, I would offer that this simple graphite study, despite its flaws, is one of the most arresting and beautifully executed drawings I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t seem that there is a single change or correction that could in any way improve this work as it stands.