Saturday, February 06, 2010

Daily Photo 2.6.10 (plus a trip to the museum)

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Spent the afternoon, the day before my 33rd birthday, at the Museum of Fine Arts. Call me boring or whatever, but visiting the museum is genuinely what I wanted to do for my birthday. Because I'm a cultured SOB (see below).

This giant bronze baby head sculpture is by Antonio Lopez Garcia. It's 6 or maybe 7 feet tall -- I'm standing quite a bit away from it. Then again, I'm just a little fellow, so everything looks big to me.

There's a second baby-head sculpture -- both flank the rear Fenway exit of the MFA, one gazing out at the Fens and the other with its eyes squeezed shut. They're hilarious and beautiful, so massive they surprised us, so striking they immediately became one of the best things we'd seen.

Also on exhibit was a collection of amazing Albrecht Dürer etchings, drypoints, and woodcuts. I've seen a few of them in books obviously, and Nik said the room was like flipping through her Art History textbook, but studying them in person was fascinating. I kept wanting to get closer and closer, eyeballs inches from the prints, to see the detail and the variation in line width -- but then I remembered the knucklehead who fell into the Picasso and backed off.

Speaking of which: It's my usual custom to get yelled at by security guards at every museum I visit, and this trip was no exception. I take pictures of everything I see, but I never do it if there are signs posted and I never, ever use a flash. My camera has a goddam "museum" setting that keeps the flash off and doesn't even make any shutter noise, for Chrissake. I had tried to photograph a contemporary art video installation, a series of video screens showing Italian people singing Madonna songs in sync, looped for 70-plus minutes. The thing itself is pretty mediocre and shallow (but not nearly as shallow as other lousy, obvious, single-idea video installations we've seen). What interested me, and what I tried to photograph, was the throng of people standing and watching it -- more people crowded against the wall to see this by far than anything else we'd seen, likely because of the pop appeal. And they had, unconsciously, lined up against about six subtly placed giant white canvases opposite the TV screens. I was thinking how this immediately gave the piece another level that impressed me, and snapped off a shot (badly framed but I didn't get to take another). Then an asshole security guard gave me the paparazzi treatment, even though I didn't flash, I was subtle about it, and there were no signs posted. I think it's the beard and hat. I look like a troublemaker.

The rest of the time we spent at the exhibit "The Secrets of Tomb 10A," a show of Egyptian artifacts taken from the tomb of governor Djehutynakht and his wife, Djehutynakht. That's how those two met -- they were probably the only two Djehutynakhts in class. For this exhibit, Nik traveled all the way to Egypt. It's photographic evidence.

It's pronounced "Juh-hooty-knocked," by the way.

Among the treasures of Hooty's tomb? This bundle of sticks. I'd hate to be the archaeologist who got stuck labeling the bundle of sticks while the other ones get to dust off the sarcophagi and transcribe hieroglyphics. They probably gave the grad student the sticks. Let's call this grad student "Lyle." As in, "Those sticks are a great find, Lyle. Be a good boy and go tag them while the adults are busy dating this 4,000-year-old mummy linen."

The tomb had been ransacked centuries ago, but raiders left some other treasures behind. Gov. Djehutynakht, for instance, loved his model boats. The guy was positively obsessed with them.

You couldn't move for fucking model boats in there. Think I'm kidding? The Hootster apparently had more than 50 goddam model boats in his tomb.

Besides being fond of dolls to the point of compulsion -- excuse me, action figures -- Djehutynakht was a peculiar guy in other ways. For instance, he included a list of things he did not want to do in the afterlife, chief among these being the consumption of feces. The man did not want to eat any shit. None -- as in zero turds. Don't even think about trying to be a wiseguy and slip him feces, because he specifically requested no feces on the menu. You have to wonder about an afterlife where all your needs are met and you live in royal splendor, but you could still potentially eat feces if you're not careful. As for his wife, Lady Djehutynakht, nothing is recorded in terms of requests for or against eating poo, so we can only speculate that she's probably OK with it. This is, of course, the earliest known example of a guy "not taking any shit," and also the origin of the phrase "Eat shit and die." Over the years, the order of operations has become mysteriously reversed.

This is the mummified head of Djehutynakht. But which Djehutynakht, husband or wife? Archaeologists have no idea. Any blush or lipstick would have rotted away long ago, and even if there were traces of facial hair on the cheeks, keep in mind these people lived before Nads strips. And all that's left of either Djehutynakht is just this one head, so it's not like scientists can x-ray the mummy to see if it's got a cock. Nik and I speculated that it looked more like a guy, although to be fair he does look kind of effeminate. Maybe he was a bit bi.

This is my gorgeous wife rolling her eyes at me on the T after several hours of poo-eating jokes.

Nik asked me where I wanted to eat dinner. I said I was fine anywhere, but I specifically requested not to eat any feces. None. We ended up at the perfect place: Minado in Natick. Minado is an all-you-can-eat sushi place, and considering the kind of venue it is, it has some of the tastiest raw fish I've had. Pictured is just the first round. When we left, I was so full I had labored breathing for about 40 minutes. It's one of my favorite places, and shit is rarely if ever on the menu (but you never know -- that's not a "vein" in the shrimp, bub).


MattG said...

If I had been drinking water, it would have made quite the mess on my desk after reading the poo-eating discussion. On a tastier note, which one of you convinced the other to try sushi first, or were you both fans going in? I am a big fan of the stuff, but "Try it, you'll like it," isn't cutting it with the wife.

Lybbe said...

The giant baby heads are amazing. The bundle of sticks intriguing - and the whole thing makes me want to book tickets to the King Tut exhibit in Toronto.

Dan said...

Matt: If I remember correctly, I think I was the one who ate sushi first and I took Nik to get some. She was all right with it -- before she got her various food allergies, she was very adventurous and had no qualms whatsoever about eating anything weird.

To get your wife into it, maybe take her to some place where you can get other more familiar Asian food and a couple of pieces of sushi as an appetizer. That way, if she doesn't like it, she won't leave hungry. And if it's only a couple of pieces of stuff like tuna or salmon, it might not seem so daunting. Good luck! :)

Dan said...

Lybbe: Those giant baby heads are really wonderful. Hard in the photos to convey exactly how huge they are, but trust me -- enormous and beautiful.

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