HW 3 / exam grades posted / Eiffel 65

Your next homework assignment is now posted, as are your Exam I grades.

I’d write a big ol’ extra email section like usual but I’m kind of wiped out from grading exams so maybe I’ll just find an excuse to send out an email tomorrow or Friday. For now here’s a picture of Michelangelo, the chillest ninja turtle, that looks like a still from the music video for “Get Free” by Major Lazer:



Not to say he’s the best ninja turtle; that’s definitely a healthy debate (don’t sleep on Raphael!). The only thing for sure is it’s not Donatello. Rocking that boring bō staff, always calm, rational, talking all that nerdy jive. C’mon, Donatello, show a little emotion once in a while! What’s going on in that big old brain of yours besides like equations and well-adjustedness?? 

Maybe I’m just biased because the real, human, Italian Donatello was the least great out of the four Renaissance artists for whom the turtles are named. I mean, I don’t like to hate, but look at that lineup. You’re talking about Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest polymaths of all time (Who could match him? Aristotle, maybe?), who threw down only a few paintings, one of which is the most famous in the world, and another two of which are among the very few works of art that pretty much every one recognizes (Okay, Vitruvian Man is obviously not a painting. Thanks for pointing that out, Mr Pedant.). He also drew some pretty funny-looking goofy guys and gals:



Next up is Raphael, who was such a great painter that three and a half centuries after his death a group of English artists (the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) banded together to define their whole aesthetic with respect to his art and influence. That’s true OG status right there. You know Raphael was just laughing at Dante Gabriel Rosseti and the rest of those homies like “Yo after I came through the art world nothing was the same! Y’all already know!” One of Raphael’s most powerful works is the Transfiguration, which features the most built Virgin Mary in all of Western art, plus an equally diesel blind boy:


That work hangs in the Pinacoteca at the Vatican Museums, but it was in France for a while during Napoleon’s reign. The great sculptor Antonio Canova helped negotiate its return in the Second Treaty of Paris. Canova has a great sculpture called Perseus with the Head of Medusa that is also in the Musei Vaticani, and a version of which is at the Met in New York:



But anyway, back to TMNT, or rather their artistic namesakes. The partyingest turtle, Michelangelo, was, ironically, named after the quite abstemious Signore Buonarroti. If I had to pick a greatest artist of all time, I would probably have to go with Michelangelo. Everything he did was just so magnificent. While the Mona Lisa is quite hysterically overfetishized, the amount of attention heaped upon Michelangelo’s David is, in my opinion, entirely justified. It is probably the most perfect work of art I have ever seen. The fact that it floored me so thoroughly is even more impressive considering how ubiquitous it is in our culture. When I was at the Galleria della Accademia, where David is, I was also captivated by some of Michelangelo’s unfinished Slave sculptures, including this one, Awakening Slave:


The work’s unfinished state is decidedly to its advantage, as the block from which the figure emerges becomes a physical manifestation of the forces, so much stronger than shackles, that bind him to his servitude. His struggle to free himself of his chains mirrors the artist’s struggle to free this form from within the block of marble; that ultimately neither is succesful amplifies the profundity and pathos of the piece.

So in the face of all that blinding genius from those three other homies, Donatello, who was of course pretty good (and by pretty good I mean incredibly good; keep in mind we’re still talking about someone who is world-famous more than half a millenium after his death), shines somewhat more dimly. But you have to remember that he predates those other three by at least 80 years (the age order is not reflected in the turtles, the eldest of whom is Leonardo (the youngest turtle is Michelangelo, of course, while the painter Raphael was born after Michelangelo, though the latter outlived him)). So we have to give him some credit for laying the groundwork artistically for what was to follow. His own David sculpture was apparently the first known freestanding nude sculpture to be struck in the Western world since ancient times (that’s a Wikipedia fact, so take it with a grain of pink Himalayan sea salt):



I mean, I guess it’s alright, but it’s awfully weak when you stack it up against Michelangelo’s beautiful perfect specimen of a man. Donatello gives David mad sass, which I do have to give him props for. Cocky little pretty-boy pose, check. Fly-as-hell hat with the stylish point out front, check. Flowing ladykiller tresses, check. But what’s up with that weak body? I get that David was the underdawg, so maybe Donnie was trying to play that up, but like has this dude ever even approximated a push-up? You think he could bench press just the bar or is he just working with like 15-lb dumbbells? It’s just a little sad — could he even fire that slingshot, realistically? And you know I have to mention that pancake butt. Just because the squat rack hasn’t been invented yet doesn’t mean you can’t do a few lunges, nahmean? I bet this was the picture Miley Cyrus gave to her trainer last summer when she was getting ready for that VMA performance. She was like “I need this butt, Shane — no hips, no cheek! That’s the look that will catapult me to superstardom!” And Shane (I assume her trainer is some dbag named Shane) is like “Okay Miley, we’re going to put you on a new regimen where you’re not allowed to use your legs three days a week so that they atrophy to nothing, and I’m going to have you do 7,000 crunches six days a week and then do a plank on Sunday”  “A plank for how long?” “Just during Sunday, like that’s your Sunday is just doing a plank all day.” “…” “You want to be a superstar, right?”

So thanks a lot, Donatello, for creating the fitspiration for Miley Cyrus and facilitating her worldwide takeover. For that you get the dorkiest ninja turtle named after you (I know, harsh burns from a dude who’s up at 3:20 a.m. writing a thousand-word email about artists and ninja turtles to the students in his linear algebra class).

Well, so my original plan was to post that picture of Michelangelo and this picture of unripened Valençay cheese:


and be done with it, but that clearly didn’t happen. Such is life. In any case, true Valençay is made from raw milk and only aged for a few weeks, so it’s illegal in the United States, but somehow cheesemongers get away with selling pasteurized versions and calling them Valençay! It’s travesties like this that could derail U.S.-E.U. trade negotiations in a real way. Well, the Valençay issue is fairly miniscule compared with the E.U.’s wanting to ban the use of words like parmesan, feta, and gorgonzola to describe cheeses that aren’t made in the original countries of origin of those cheeses. I personally feel a bit conflicted, but I’m mostly with the U.S. since most of the terms in question are very generic-sounding to me at this point. I know the difference between parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and I think most people who care do, too. I feel the exact opposite way about the labeling of a more niche cheese like Valençay, though, as a so-named product being sold at a quality cheese shop is much more likely to give a false impression of being a true representative of its name. Calling any pasteurized-milk cheese Valençay or Crottin strikes me as undoubtedly deceitful, whereas a feta from Wisconsin is perfectly unsurprising. A more imprecise question is for a cheese like neufchâtel, which in its original meaning is a mold-ripened French cheese that has been produced since the 6th century, but which in the U.S. now refers to a low-fat cream cheese. The latter meaning is fairly well established at this point, but certainly not to the degree as parmesan, feta, or gorgonzola.

If I start feeling angry about misleadingly named cheeses, I think of this neat idea:

“Sometimes when I feel like killing someone, I do a little trick to calm myself down. I’ll go over to the person’s house and ring the doorbell. When the person comes to the door, I’m gone, but you know what I’ve left on the porch? A jack-o-lantern with a knife stuck in the side of its head with a note that says “You.” After that I usually feel a lot better, and no harm done.


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