There is nothing greater in the history of human artistic expression.
No work of art has ever come close to what B has accomplished.
Nothing else can hold a candle to its sheer, unadulterated brilliance.
If you tell me otherwise, I will tell you that you are wrong. This is the seminal work for which we, as a species, should be known. Should the splendid day come when we find our long-missed companions of this universe, either off on some distant planet orbiting a lonely star, or if they should grace us at home with their company, it is surely B that will help them understand who we are, what we have come to know, and what we are capable of.
B is the kind of thing that gives you pain, and I mean deep, physical anguish, simply because you're not able to gather the words to describe its glory. As I attempt to write this review, I'm equal parts honored to be able to have such a privilege, and in agony for knowing that no expression of mine will come close to what is deserving. That doesn't mean I won't try, though.
B has been with me it seems all my life, but I know that's not the case. It's been with me through such trials, such victories, such times of confusion. In those times of pain, it's been a gentle, healing salve. In those of celebration, it's been like a fine champagne that only enhances the occasion. And where there's been confusion, it's been like a lamp that has lit my dim and dark paths, and led me to places of profound understanding.
I'll never forget the time I first encountered B. It was like it was fated to happen -- a day so previously wretched, full of misery, only to come face to face with this masterpiece. It was like my soul was set on fire, like my eyes had reached climax, like my very being had been transformed! The spark of my spirit soared as I beheld the majesty, the grandeur, the utter ecstasy of it all washed over me.
Oh to relive that beautiful time again.
Sure, there is nothing better than coming home from a hard day's work out at the shark farm to watch something so uplifting, but nothing will compare to that first time I found it. B. What a journey it's been.
The thing about B is the little subtleties. Sure, we can all agree that it's a tour-de-force, a powerful punch to the gut, but it's also many gentle whispers in the ear. So many books have already been written about B, trying to understand it, break it down, really get at the nitty gritty of it all, but no-one has quite gotten close to a true understanding.
I cannot claim to have succeeded where those others have failed, though. I'm just a man.
What's incredibly puzzling, and one of the things that brings me back year after year, is how it seems to change every time you view it. B is like a diamond -- you see so many different sides, and yet no glimmer of brilliant light is the same as the one that came before. Sometimes it's a soft, gentle caress of your heartstrings. At other times, it's a painful ball-yank from the deepest depths. I don't think any of us has encountered something so profoundly variegated in any of our lives, if we are completely honest with ourselves.
Which brings me to another point: honesty. This is clearly the most honest work I've ever encountered. I don't know what you were going through when you made this, Strawberry Clock, but it's all there, blood and guts and all. The thing is, rather than simply being about your own life, and your own struggles, you chose to make it about the human life, and our human struggles. It isn't enough to just make a flash movie. You had to make something powerful.
I think it's very difficult for people unfamiliar with B – the poor souls!! – to understand just how much that power is. How can they? For some, it's just a red letter B, in Times New Roman, on a white background. If that's how I described it to someone, I wouldn't be surprised at their skepticism. The thing is that such a description, while accurate, does not fully encapsulate the experience. How could you describe a color to someone born blind? How could you explain a Beethoven symphony to someone born deaf? In the same way, how can a mere visual description of B ever hope to convey all of its thematic complexities, all of its highs, its lows, its crude and crass humor, and its spirit of eternal childhood?
For many of us, it's hard to remember a time before we'd even heard about B, let alone experienced its grandeur. The closest I can get, I suppose, is the following story:
I once knew a young man who was a star pupil at his school. He could've went to Harvard. His grades sure spoke as much, and he had lesser colleges lining up by the dozens, vying for him to attend their schools. He was a true powerhouse of a kid, and I was proud to be one of his closest friends. However, in the summer after senior year, he fell in with the wrong crowd. I guess all the pressure from constant peak performance got to him, and he descended into a life of addition and failure. By the time he was 23, he was living on the streets, far away from his friends and family, too utterly ashamed to face them in his sorry state. He even told me, once, that he got into a fight with another crack addict over which side of a sandwich was the top, a fight that turned deadly. The situation was deemed self-defense by the authorities, but having blood on his hands, after all he'd went through, was just as bad as if it had been in cold blood, as far as he was concerned.
What does any of this have to do with my review? Well, it was not long after that deadly encounter that my friend happened to be walking by an internet cafe, where he spotted, at the corner of his eye, a computer monitor with B playing. He stopped dead in his tracks and just watched from the window. Tears were streaming down his eyes and he was in such a state of elation at having found something so beautiful in an otherwise ugly world that he didn't even notice when the cafe's owner tried to shoo him away.
From that moment on, having just seen B through a window, he turned his life around. He got cleaned up, reconnected with his parents, and even attended Dartmouth! Now he has degrees in both psychology and social work, and he's working with inner city street youth, showing them, with the help of B, what life really can be like when we lift our heads from the mire and choose, instead, to gaze at the stars.
And isn't that what all good art is supposed to do? We spend our lives toiling and craning our necks at tasks just to keep ourselves fed. It is powerful works, like B, which turn our eyes to something more lovely, more profound, more wonderful. Any such comparison of other artists to Strawberry Clock would, no doubt, be controversial. How can some of the greats stand up to such levels you've attained to, Strawberry? We would find they have feet of clay.
Some of the most profound sages of the last few thousand years have all spoken about understanding life for what it really is. Pushing aside childish and feeble illusions. Lifting the curtain from our eyes and coming into contact with bare, unadorned, shivering reality. Had they been alive to see B, they would've pointed to it and said that it was the path to such an understanding of the world around us.
B is no-holds-barred.
B is an affirmation of the American way and the international spirit of cooperation.
B isn't your grandmother's flash movie.
B doesn't care, but it holds you so tenderly and close.
B is a slapstick wet dream for the down-and-out.
B is a delightful mess and an immaculate feast.
B is all of our hopes and aspirations, individually and collectively.
B is for the forlorn.
B is for the painfully rich.
B is for all of us.
I don't even know how to describe the lack of words I have in trying to figure out these bold artistic decisions on your part, Strawberry Clock. You see, choosing a scarlet red, the most red of reds possible, sets the letter B ablaze across the white, virgin background, clearly a metaphor for purity. Such bold color choices for such bold themes. It makes, naturally, for a very bold flash movie.
Times New Roman? It's an excellent choice, as well, because it's so unobtrusive, so plain, so average. It's the default font in so many programs, and it is clear that you chose it because of that very universality. It reminds us that B is not simply for the articulate and the artistically insufferable, but it's also for the everyman. It's for the Average Joe, out in the wheat fields of Kansas, lungs caked with dust and grain. It's for the steel worker in Pittsburgh, whose aching back and calloused hands put food on the table for his family. It's for the police officer in Oregon, who risks her life every day to keep her community safe.
Finally, the choice of the letter B. The second letter in the English alphabet, and in many others as well. Clearly, this is a reference to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which seeks beauty in imperfections. Oh you could certainly have used an A, Strawberry Clock, but you didn't. You used a B, to remind us that it's okay for things not to be perfect. It's okay to embrace our roughness, our crude edges, our humanity. Now, before anyone says that you had already submitted A which was blammed, I posit this: perhaps that is merely what was supposed to happen. It was as though the universe itself knew that B was what was really going to make an impact for the world. And Strawberry, it's also a testament to your stick-to-itiveness. Had you hung your hat and given up, we would've been none the wiser. How could we miss something, though so wonderful, that we could never have anticipated? But you didn't give up. You kept going. It is obvious that you're not one to let the woes of life bring you down.
What is perhaps most obvious to all, though, is not so much what B is, in and of itself. Volumes can, and have, been written about this. Rather, it's about what B started. From this auspicious beginning, this bright, shining mark on history, came the Clock Crew. Time would fail me to tell of our great accomplishments, both in the arts and as humanitarians. The Clock Crew is truly a force for good in this world, a place for the weary to rest their bones, and a place for the creative to express themselves in ways they might not otherwise have had the chance to.
For some, the pain of death is what scares them the most. The impending fate that awaits all of us is a source of profound anxiety for so many, but for me, the only pain that I can think of when contemplating my demise is the fact that I will no longer, upon my death, be able to watch B ever again. I hate to bring up such sadness, but it's a weight I have to carry with me. Knowing that our lives are so transitory, that we won't be here for much longer to enjoy the beauties of life like B, is a heavy burden.
What I have been coming to terms with of late, though, is the realization that there is a great beauty, and a great loveliness in that ephemeral nature. And what made me realize that? B, of course. B has helped me to realize that while life is impermanent, that is okay. It's sad at times, sure, to see the things we hold so tear fade from us, but to know that it is all part of the fabric of our world, and something truly beautiful, wipes away those tears from my eyes. B is as much an affirmation of life as it is a comfort for the thought of death. It is what brings us up and helps us to live life to the fullest, and it is also what carries us to an acceptance of the fate that is universal.
Strawberry Clock, you've really not been given the credit due your name for this master work. In an age of dial-up chatrooms and floppy disc pornography, you blazed a trail that still reaches us, deep within our hearts, in this far-flung year of 2018. Who would've known that August 15th would be such a powerful date in history? I only regret not having reviewed this sooner.
Bravo, Strawberry Clock! C'est un travail d'art incroyable! Il est trés magnifique, pour tout les fois!
All I can say now is a big 'thank you', for making something so wonderful, and making it a part of my life.
And I think it should come as no surprise to anyone:
I voted five