Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hey Kids, Look! Drawings!


Believe it or not, a post with actual drawings.

Well, sorta.

I did this about a month or so ago- just trying to sketch something, not necessarily with any goal in mind. I think the Punisher came about after Sean and I were talking about the then-upcoming Punisher movie (never seen, and planning on keeping it that way). I was just trying to come up with something fun and cartoony- which mostly worked here, I think. I mean, seriously, does that look like a realistic gun?

The other was just the usual drawing of a face- nothing planned or thought out, just trying to make it look not-horrible. It's an 'eh' face, though I do like the nose.

But there you go, actual pencilled work. Crazy, right?

Alright. Next post, sometime this week, God help me, will be the Year in Review. Yeah, it'll probably not be as feel-good as last year's.

Music: "When the World is Running Down" - The Police

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peace

Wherever you may be, and with whomever you are spending it, let this be a time of peace and joy for you and all those you love.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Self Portrait(s), Hand(s)


This is the start of an idea I'd had a while ago. Apologies for the lack of a truly finished product, but I think it works interestingly as is. Note that the paper is blank.

Apologies as well for the lack of any real update. Life has been, as they say, interesting. Up, down, most points in between, it only proves the says "Changes aren't permanent, but change is". Also, "Expect the unexpected". Hopefully I will have something at least marginally artistically-inclined to post next time, or else I'll subject you to the oft-threatened written post. Perhaps about music. Or perhaps set to music.

Anyway, to the Land of Nod with me.

Music: "When The Day Met The Night" - Panic! At The Disco

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Blue Barchetta


I commit my weekly crime, with nary an alloy air-car in sight...

And yes, this is exactly where it stopped, first time.

Music: Duh...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

So, I can either write about how I felt through most of Thanksgiving, or I can post pictures of some of the fun had over the long weekend with my family.

Right, pictures it is.


Friday, the whole pack of us (excepting my sister, who had to work!) went to Phipps Conservatory in Oakland. We'd mostly all been there before, though the trips range from 15 years ago to "it's not polite to ask" years ago. I'm no plant lover (just look at my botany grades from college for proof), but there's something very... satisfying about looking at the wondrous variety to them, from shape to color to smell (Chocolate! They have a plant that smells like chocolate!), even texture. The Conservatory is overwhelming to the senses, and in a good way. It's so- alive. Which is an obvious, yet appropriate, word choice. The highlight would be the fact that we took my mom with us. I haven't been out with mom to a "fun" place (like an amusement park, or whatnot) in probably 20 years, and it was great. It was so cool to see her out and taking in all the sensations of the place. She couldn't get around very well, but my niece Emily was more than happy to steer her around in a wheelchair. I think we were all tired by the end of the day, but it was a good kind of tired.


They have a wonderful Thailand display there, with all kinds of plants and flowers. They also have a pond-type arrangement with clear sides... and if you look close, it looks like someone's about to grab the fish. That jerk.


Saturday was a trip to the Carnegie Museums with my brother Mark and his son Jon. I'd been there earlier this year (also known as the 'Apocalypse Vacation'), but Mark and Jon hadn't been in some time. Enough had changed that it was worth the time to visit and snap some pics, including this one of one of the two T. rexes (rexii?) from the Museum's new 'T. REX VS. T. REX' display. Let me tell you, if you've not been since the renovations, it's highly worth the visit. Taking pages from amusement park playbooks, the information and education is well-disguised as fun. Sadly, though, as you walk through the rest of the museum, it's easy to see that not all branches of science and learning are equally appreciated. It is nice to see, however, that there were still plenty of people stopping to look at the rest of the museum, though maybe not with as much enthusiasm.

Worst thing overheard? "I don't get it- this is a HISTORY museum- why do they have modern animals? They aren't history!" *sigh*

We also hit the art museum pretty hard, but don't have any pictures of that. Sadly, most all of the 'modern' art is copyrighted, and thus can't be photographed. Because, after all, art is a commodity. *sigh, again*

Those complaints aside, it was a weekend of high culture for the Darrall clan, and another great chance to spend time hanging out. To cap it off, Mark, Jon and I went to Sean's place to watch Sukiyaki Western Django- I loved it, but I'm not sure that's a universal opinion...

Later.

Music: "Angels" - Robbie Williams

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful

I'm thankful for time.

Time, to spend with loved ones.

Time, to reflect on all I've learned, all I've lived.

Time, to remember those not here with us now.

Time, to recall the past.

Time, to move beyond.

Time, to ease my wounds.

Time, to bring a new tomorrow.



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One Little Victory

When it comes down to it, I think the little things are what make the strongest impact in our lives. To be sure, there are momentous, life-changing events, those ones that are marked down either on a calendar or in our hearts, those ones we always seem to associate with a date: beginnings, milestones, endings. These events most people recall most readily when discussing a particularly great or terrible time in their lives. For me, this year has been the kind of year punctuated by these dates, events marked in my mind and in my heart, and no doubt, in the years to come, I'll look at a calendar and begin a countdown to the anniversaries of those dates held so close to me, and the days will seem a bit more grey, life a bit more listless, time a bit more wearying. Those times will wear at me. Those times will be reminders (as if my life isn't a constant reminder) of all I've lost, of all we've lost, this past year, these past years. These events are like anchors in a soul, if not dragging one down, then certainly slowing him down, making it so terribly hard to move, to move on.

And then there are those events that will never appear on a calendar, never marked by milestones, nor celebrations, not noted by the date nor by some other sign so obvious. Instead, those events will be remembered and revered at the most inconspicuous times, triggered by the most minor of reminders, bringing out a feeling of light and life and love that just overwhelms that grey, listless and weary dreary existence. It reminds you that you are alive, and life, no matter how bad it can sometimes seem, is ALWAYS worth living. Where there is life, there is always hope. These little things, these ones that ultimately mean so much, can happen every day. It doesn't have to be much: it can be something as simple as having an unexpectedly deep conversation with your mom, spending a few minutes laughing with kids, of any age, or spending a weekend with your friends, just... watching TV, or going shopping, or going to a bake sale. Whatever! These little things will be those things you look back on, days or months or years later, and say to yourself "THAT'S when life got better for me."

I've spent this past year surrounded by death. What should've been a mental and emotional rebirth of sorts for me has instead been hammerblow after hammerblow to me, to my family, and to some of my oldest and dearest friends. I'd been so slowed down, so worn down, by all this death and loss, I hadn't even realized just what kind of toll it had taken on me. All those events marked on those calendars from now on, all those dates I'll dread to see coming up...

But now, finally, I've also seen all those events that get no marks on calendars, those little victories that take so much of the sting out of that loss and bring sweetness and joy back to life. I've finally seen and realized how important those are to me- just as important as all those losses I'm reminded of, I'll be looking back at those little victories and remind myself of all I have, and all I've gained.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome Home, Jagoff


Back, for now.

Here's Pittsburgh, from one of the bridges, in the middle of my first sustained snowfall here since moving back. On one hand, I'm very happy, as I miss proper winters. On the other hand, since I spend most of my time working outside, this is gonna suck. Oh well, that's what health insurance and whisk(e)y is for.

I don't know how often I'll get anything posted up for the forseeable future. Certainly not much by way of actual drawing. I have been picking up the pencil again, but I've been taking it slowly- so as not to scare off my already far too fickle muse. Sad to say, but I'm just not often in the mood to draw recently. I'm hoping that'll all change, but we'll see. I still have plenty I'd like to draw, and much to write about (new music, for one, movies for another, still plenty of books to go around), but until I can get back into the groove, I just can't come around to firing up that creative spark. Or when I do, I'm rarely in a position to act on it. Finding that spark is a lot like being a 15-year-old boy; I never know when I'll get the urge, or how long it will last. As it were.

Anyway, that's what I've got for now. Thanks for sticking with me, I'll try to make the visits worthwhile, as best I can.

Music: "Monster Ballads" - Josh Ritter

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lost

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF

For Roger Hutchinson, my third father.


DEATH, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.
From Rest and Sleep, which but thy picture be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go--
Rest of their bones and souls' delivery!
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die!

John Donne

For Catherine Elder, mother of Dawn, one of my oldest friends.

Be at peace.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Keep watching the skies!"


Nikki, Captain Hendry, and The Thing From Another World!

This is it- this is my favorite movie. Ever.

I know, it's hardly the first movie you'd think of when it comes to me and movies. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, those are the movies that leap to mind. And don't get me wrong, they're great movies, and I consider them some of my favorites...

But they're not The Thing From Another World. I discovered this gem back in grade school. Our school library used to have a pretty impressive selection of books about movies, especially classic sci-fi and horror (I'm guessing, since this was the early 80's, they figured the classic monsters were a safe alternative from the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees... if only they knew!). There were a series of books I really loved, about all the classic monsters, written by a man named Ian Thorne (yes, I remember that, 27 years later). They would tell the story of the main movie, then go on to describe other movies with similar themes. Books like this are the direct reason why I love the Universal Monsters. And, naturally, The Thing From Another World.

There was just something about the description that hooked me: a group of scientists and soldiers, trapped at the top of the world, must fight to survive against an alien terror. How cool is that? The photos I saw looked great, as well: fire, axes, electricity, all were used against The Thing. The Thing itself looked like another classic Universal Monster (even though it was released by RKO Pictures): nasty-looking, with wicked clawed hands and that super-developed brain, he looked like he could outthink you as well as tear you apart. It just SOUNDED awesome.

Sadly, I had to wait another 5 years before I'd ever see The Thing in motion. By that time, we had cable, and TBS was showing all kinds of movies. Most of their programming consisted of classic movies, black and white features you nowadays only catch on AMC or Turner Classic. But, lo and behold, what should I come across one Sunday, but The Thing From Another World. What would it be like? Would it be as great as I imagined? Would it look silly, these moving pictures showing how poor special effects were back then, the dialogue show how painfully poorly scripted most horror movies were back then? What if it sucked?

It most definitely did NOT suck. I was amazed, from the start. The dialogue was rapid-fire, actors speaking over each other, dishing out lines like they were old friends, the jokes were fast and funny, delivered like they were in an Oscar-worthy movie, not a 'B' movie. The story itself was just as I'd imagined- filled with tension, wit, and decent scares for the day. The actors were fantastic- they looked like they were having a great time with the filming, and that shone through in the performances. The Thing itself was great- like the best monsters, he shows up without warning, strikes fast, and leaves them scared for their lives. Even the music was freaky- in a good way. I also learned that Thermite is the cause, and solution, of all men's problems. By God, this was a good movie.

Thankfully, TBS played their movies more than once a day, so for the next showing, I had the VCR ready to go. And oh yes, it was taped. Over the following years, I would put the tape in, and let it play. When it finished, I rewound it, and played it again. And again. And again. I'd fall asleep to it, and wake up to it. Those were good times.

As the years passed, I would go on to learn more about the movie, and the people behind it. I learned that it was based on a short story, "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, and immediately tracked it down (reprinted in a great paperback, Between Time and Terror, a wonderful compilation of sci-fi stories with a distinct horror aspect to them; one of the best anthologies I've read). It was like night and day, the differences between the two stories, but I didn't care; I ended up loving both. I learned that John Carpenter's 1982 movie was a remake, and fell in love with that one, as well- though it was nothing like the original. But I loved them both, as well. As my understanding and appreciation of film grew, I learned why it was so good- the man behind it, Howard Hawks, was one of the great filmmakers of his day, responsible for some of the best movies of the 30's through the 60's. I began to also appreciate the story itself- like all good sci-fi, it was a reflection of its time, filtered through a glass darkly. A great allegory for the Cold War, there's still insight to be gained from the movie. And the dialogue- oh, the dialogue is still a joy to hear. I still pick up new things, after all this time. Not to mention, as I got older, I could better appreciate the dynamic of the relationship between Nikki and Captain Hendry. She was definitely NOT a stereotypical damsel in distress. The stunts were just crazy, I could see- they set a stuntman on fire, in a closed room, with the actors present- then thrown on Kerosene! Now THAT'S bad-ass! So much goodness. About 5 years ago, when the movie finally came out on DVD, I figured that was it; it didn't get any better than that.

I was wrong.

Frederick County, Maryland, has a nice little theater- year 'round, they have musical programs, dance troupes, plays, and movies pass through. Every Fall, they show some classic horror movies. Dracula, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, all have played there. Well, about 3 years ago, when I was living there-

You know where this is going, right?

-they were showing The Thing From Another World.

So, I sent out an email to all my friends (more like a flyer- I take this thing seriously), letting them know of this momentous occasion. Two of them rose to the challenge: Dave and Thad. I reserved my tickets, and eagerly awaited the day. I would finally see it as it was meant to be seen: ON THE BIG SCREEN.

At last, the day was upon me. Dave and Thad showed up at my apartment, and we made our way to downtown Frederick. I picked up our tickets-holy crap! It says The Thing on the tickets!!!- we picked up some popcorn, and went in to the auditorium. The lights went down, I got goosebumps (seriously, I did) and I spent the next 87 minutes on the edge of my seat. We all went out after for some mediocre food and good beer, talked about the movie (the guys pointed out, when the military barricaded a door, The Thing outsmarted them- because the door pulled open. All these years, and I never noticed.), talked about life in general, and we all left the restaurant, and that's how one of the happiest days of my life went. All because of a 1950's sci-fi movie.

So there you go, the story of my favorite movie of all time. Others will come along, better movies, smarter movies, funnier movies... but The Thing From Another World will always be my favorite.

-oh, one last thing. earlier this year, when I was up visiting with my folks, Dad and I were sitting around talking about old movies we liked. It was late, I think I'd just gotten in from Maryland, and he had on TCM- I'm pretty sure it was Creature From the Black Lagoon, but I could be wrong. Anyway, we were talking classics, and I mentioned The Thing, and told him how it was my favorite movie ever.

"Did you know, I saw that in Korea?" he said. "That was a great movie."

25 years after I first discovered what would become my favorite movie, I learn my Dad loved it too. That pleased me immensely then, and it makes me even happier now.

---

Thanks for reading. And Happy Halloween!

---

Okay, one last thing- this makes my 150th official blog post! I honestly can't believe I made it this long. Thank you to everyone who's been stopping by to visit and read, and extra thanks to those of you who leave comments or email me with your thoughts- getting that feedback really makes my day, and I appreciate it all. Fingers crossed, next stop, 200!

Music: "The Thing From Another World- Main Title" - Dimitri Tiomkin

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"I know I'm human..."


R.J. MacReady, from The Thing.

The Thing is both a remake and an adaptation that, while veering far from the original movie, adheres much more closely to the original source material (but still veers readily from that, as well). Tense, claustrophobic, terrifying, and flat out disgusting, The Thing is one of the most effective horror movies of all time. A critical and financial bomb at the box office, it has since gone on to become one of the most well-regarded genre works of the '80's, and holds up amazingly well still. Its themes of distrust and alienation (no pun) are perhaps more relevant than ever. After all, when your very neighbor could be The Thing, who do you trust?

Based on "Who Goes There?", a short story by legendary editor/writer John W. Campbell, the movie takes place at a remote scientific outpost in Antarctica. A bizarre attack on the outpost leads the men to the slow realization that they are not alone. Among them is a terror unlike any they've encountered... and it can look like anyone. The Thing is just a truly scary movie, in the best sense of the word. Don't watch it with the lights out.

I couldn't even tell you when I was first introduced to this movie. Probably back in the mid to late 80's, when it was playing on Saturdays on WPGH. Of course, since it was broadcast television, I was spared the full impact of the movie (friggin' gross!) until sometime later, most likely HBO. The science fiction aspect of it was certainly a draw, as well as it being a horror movie. I know it scared me every time I watched it. It was a Kurt Russell/John Carpenter movie, so it had that going for it as well (see Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China for further proof of greatness). I just loved how, when so many movies were about flash and action and simple, happy resolutions, this movie took the road less traveled. This is one of my favorite movies, and I can't recommend it enough. For more on this movie, please check out Outpost 31.

Tomorrow: The Other Thing.

Music: "A Warm Place" - Nine Inch Nails

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In the Blood


Dracula, of a sort.

This was really just done as a very sketchy sketch. Basically, I was just trying for the arced lines rather than anything particularly accurate or intentional. It turned out alright for what it was meant to be, and I like the solid colors of it. This is probably my... third?... Dracula picture on here, and it's probably only appropriate that each one is radically different from the last, as the character of Dracula has been interpreted and reinterpreted in a nearly endless variety of fashions.

Dracula is probably not quite so readily recognizable as Frankenstein's Monster (thanks to the makeup, Frankie is pretty much one of a kind; unless you look just like Bela Lugosi (or Joe Flaherty), it'll take a second or two for someone to realize the evening suit makes you a vampire). However, Dracula as a literary character is second to none when it comes to a life beyond his origins, and world-wide recognition. I personally own more than 20 books featuring just the character of Dracula, each of them portraying some different version of him, sometimes incredibly different, sometimes very familiar. One of my favorite books ever, Anno Dracula, features a Dracula based directly on Stoker's novel, but also manages to create an entirely new mythos around the vampire. Tremendous reading for anyone, in my not so humble opinion.

Of course, the many facets of the literary Dracula are equaled or exceeded by those shown in the movies. Each actor who steps into the role brings something different to the character. And naturally, neither of these paths take into account the many, many different types and stories of vampires in general to appear in both media. The character's continued success probably stems from any number of reasons: the "dark romance", the supernatural, the underlying themes of the character (which seem to find new relevance through every age), even just the idea that living forever is pretty cool. There are as many different reasons for loving Dracula as there are interpretations of him. From a pop cultural point of view, Dracula will never die.

So that's the big three, insofar as the classic Universal Monsters go. Certainly, three of my favorites. Next up, a couple of pictures of two of my personal favorite movies... One is a remake of the other, both based on a single short story, both completely different in tone and character, and both tremendous movies.

Music: "Killing Moon" - Echo and the Bunnymen

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Prometheus Unchained


Frankenstein's Monster.

This one was REALLY sketchy, as you can tell. Again, from the 'loosey-goosey' sessions. I can draw pretty cartoony faces and heads, without a ton of problems, but when it comes to the bodies, I almost always end up drawing in the super-hero fashion- exaggerated, but realistically exaggerated. So this was an attempt to somewhat merge those two habits of mine; ultimately, I'd like to find a sketchy, cartoony, kinda realistic-looking style. I'm actually pretty pleased with how this came out- there's way too many lines in it for any kind of 'serious' drawing, but I liked where it went with stretching out the body's dimensions somewhat. I think it helps contribute to the distortions and imperfections of the Creature. I like the roughness of it, as well- since my natural style, such as it is, really tends towards lots of short, sharp lines (or 'scribbling', as it's also known).

Frankenstein (technically Frankenstein's Monster) is arguably the most recognized Monster in the world. Books have been written solely about his cultural impact on the global villagers. He's seen everywhere, from movies to cereal to insurance to god-only-knows-what. Everyone knows him. I find it funny that so many people feel like they know his story, yet so few people have read the novel, or even watched the movie (worlds apart, but both fantastic in their own ways). But, such is the power of pop culture that his story is so well known, folks feel like they've already seen it or read it. Too bad they mostly remember the Strickfadden generators and the shambling, arms-outstretched walk, rather than the cautionary tale it really was. Especially as it's becoming more and more relevant, almost 200 years after it was written.

Not saying you should go out and read it (definitely not for everyone, but still an easier read than Dracula for most), but it doesn't hurt to know the deeper themes behind the story- and those themes, even though seen through a Hollywood filter, shine through in the movies. (If you're only going to watch one, watch Bride of Frankenstein- it's the better of the original two).

Not sure what's coming up next- maybe something I'm working on now, or maybe something completely different.

See you Wednesday.

Music: "Frankenstein" - Edgar Winter

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When The Wolfsbane Blooms...


... And the Moon is Full and Bright.

It's that time of year again, Halloween is nearly upon us. So I'll be giving over some posts to the theme again this year, though nothing like last year. Sorry, things just aren't what they used to be. Maybe I'll get wordier to compensate. Sorry, things haven't changed THAT much.

Today's picture, like a couple to follow, actually precede the idea for the Halloween postings this year. This, like the other recent postings, began as a drawing exercise, something to loosen up those drawing muscles. This one, however, I did in pen. Pen is an interesting drawing tool for an unrepentant sketcher like myself. There's no erasing, and at least with these pens, virtually no line variation. So it forces me to be much more... choosy about what I'm drawing, in terms of line choice. But since I wanted to be loose with the drawing, it ends up being a fine balance. Or, I sketch the hell out of the lines and hope something recognizable comes out of the whole mess. I actually did this while on the phone with a friend, which may explain why it turned out relatively well- by not concentrating on the drawing, I didn't overthink it.

As you can probably/hopefully see, this is the wolfman. No particular version in mind here, though it's not hard to see Chaney's influence (the buckle is also a direct homage to the original Wolf Man movie). I was thinking of a more traditional wolfman, rather than An American Werewolf in London style, or even the greyhound-like Lupin from the third Harry Potter movie (to which my friends rejoice...). Marvel Comic's "The Beast" must have interjected himself into the drawing at some point, hence the much bulkier figure. And, as I can't directly recall what Victorian-era clothing (referencing the upcoming Wolf Man remake), I just made something up. Like usual. Then, to mess with the whole thing, I inverted the coloring. Not sure why, as it's not a true inversion, but it lends a certain look to it that I like. So that's that.

The Wolf Man is one of my earliest 'favorite' monster movies. It was also my sister's favorite (and I think still is), and is well-known amongst the general public. The look of the Wolf Man himself, along with those of Frankenstein's Monster and Dracula, is completely iconic. Unlike those two movies, however, The Wolf Man had no literary background, and so is one of the first "original" movie monsters to stand the test of time. The story is a mish-mash of different legends and myths from around the world. The movie itself is a mish-mash, much like the creation of the movie's mythology: it's an interesting, if not always agreeable, juxtaposition of (then) modern-day America with Old-World Europe, modern sensibilities with long-standing tradition, even science and superstition. One of the visual cues that let's you know you're watching a Universal Monsters movie is that the town it takes place in has modern conveniences, not to mention cars, but is populated with villagers right out of the 18th century. Rather than pin themselves down to one era, Universal went for a 'timeless' country, and ended up with a crazy-looking retro-modern-historic town.

The Wolf Man is a great movie of its time, in my opinion. As a straight-up scarefest, obviously it doesn't hold up against today's storytelling. But in its day, it was something to see. Its oblique references to "the beast in us all", particularly men when around women, is certainly a timeless theme worth revisiting. Plus, it gave the world one of the best quotes from a movie:

Even a man who is pure in Heart
And says his prayers by night
May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms
And the moon is full and bright.


Interestingly, The Wolf Man is the only of the "big three" monsters to not feature a direct sequel. Dracula had a sequel called Dracula's Daughter, and Frankenstein begat a number of sequels. The next time The Wolf Man appeared on screen was in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, but that's more of a mash-up than direct sequel (though there's a thin ongoing story with poor Larry Talbot; much like David Banner from The Hulk TV series, he wandered around looking for a cure to his problem). As a co-star of the monster movies, Wolf Man appeared a number of times in various "House Of" movies... and met Abbott and Costello.

Here Endeth the Lesson.

Music: "Woke Up This Morning" - Alabama Three

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not Quite Fork Art


Just a quick update- it's late, and I'm tired.

A picture of some doodling while waiting for lunch to arrive on our way back from Chincoteague. Not my typical doodle, but nice enough for all that.

Music: "Happy Birthday" - The Beatles

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Walking on the Moon


Or at least, walking on the beach.

Here's but one of many pictures I took on this past weekend's annual trip to Chincoteague. Taken with my phone, no less. When I bought it, the first thing I asked the clerk was "which phones have the best camera?" This one is surprisingly good, with an actual physical zoom and focus.

I was walking on the beach, since that's something to do on the beach that doesn't involve lying in the sand. I thought it would be cool to take some pictures, and thought of my footprints in the sand. Of course, it made me think of that poem/greeting card saying about how God will carry you, which is why you only see one set of prints. Made me laugh, so I took the picture.

Well, as I was looking at the picture tonight, I saw there was a second set of prints.

And they were walking away from me...

-sigh-

Anyway, that's about it this time around. I have some sketches that need scanning and cleaning up, not to mention all the other pictures that need work on. I just connected my computer to my TV, so everything looks MUCH BIGGER now- so hopefully less squinting as I work on the pictures one pixel at a time. But we'll see.

Cheers for now!

Music: "Be" - Neil Diamond

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Crimebuster


I'm back.

So, here's the second part of my attempt to 'loosen up' my drawing. At this point, Sean had seen what I was doing/not doing, and told me to really loosen the drawing- to not try to hit the image right away, but to just let the pencil draw what it will, and find the shape in it- like a cloud(Sounds very Zen, I know). This time, I actually took to heart what he'd said, and so I think the results came out much better. After trying for more of the same with the first cloak, I really just let myself start drawing with the second... and ended up drawing a cross between Nite Owl and, in my opinion, myself. First, Nite Owl is a character from The Most Influential Graphic Novel of All Time, aka Watchmen, and second, it's a pudgy guy with glasses. Combine the two, and that's what you get. I'm really pleased with how he turned out, especially since I didn't know it was him until I was partway through. Somehow, I think I managed to capture a fair bit of emotion in him, through his pose and posture. Anyway, it was cool. Finished with a quick sketch of some superwoman-type and a REALLY vague sketch of a face from a DVD case. There's definitely more to come from this loosy-goosy style, to be sure.

The weekend was excellent, as always. Delightful company, wonderful weather (hey! No hurricanes!), fantastic food, unexpected and awesome conversations, and kids- who can ask for more? I also got to draw, if only a little bit. Which is fine, as I wasn't in the mood for much drawing. Also got to take plenty of pictures with the new phone, some of which I'll post here soon. There's probably some commentary to be had on the weekend in general, but we'll see what happens. I will say, that I was very fortunate to be able to get caught up with some good friends who I haven't seen since leaving- it did my heart good to see them, and made the mad dash to get down to MD by Wednesday night more than worth it. If only I could drive down there every other Thursday... Anyway, it was great to be there, and I can't wait to visit again.

Okay, so there was a little commentary on the weekend. Sorry.

More to come!

Music: "Tonight and the Rest of My Life" - Nina Gordon

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Holding Pattern

Sorry, no post today, I've been busy busy busy gathering all my things together for the annual Chincoteague Trip- our Tenth Anniversary! I'll be back... Wednesday with a report. Along with actual art. No, really.
Have a good weekend- I know I will!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cloaking Devices


I try too hard.

No, seriously. Not with most things in my life, but with drawing, I tend to try too hard to get something perfect the first time. And when it is inevitably not perfect, I get frustrated to no end. Part of the problem is that I tend to like art styles not natural to me (cartoony, clean lines, etc.). Part of the problem is I just don't spend enough time on fundamentals of drawing, like anatomy and composition. And part of it is I don't take the time to loosen up, letting the picture find its way out, as it were.

Luckily, I've got friends.

Sean and I were sitting around a couple weeks ago. He was drawing some insanely accurate and realistic picture of a real person, and I was... not. I was just staring at the paper, waiting for inspiration to strike. No doing. Sean saw my impression of 'polar bear in a snow storm', and offered to give me an idea of something to draw.

"Cloaks."

Um, okay. Reading comic books, it's easy to imagine the uses and poses for cloaks (or capes, as we in the know call them). I did try for a little variety, with not just the super pose, but also some other types and/or styles. It came out alright, but something still wasn't working. I was trying too hard. Sean and I had been discussing how he needed to loosen up his style, to get more comfortable with sketching- letting the picture find its way out, so to speak (which is crazy, if you've ever seen Sean draw- his so-called 'sketches' would be hours of work for me). So, we talked a little more, and I went back at it.

This isn't that one.

Still, it was the first I'd drawn in a while, and I like the shapes of the comic-book guy (as opposed to the shape of the Comic Book Guy, which is mostly pear-shaped), and the wizard-type. Meh. first time in a while I'd actually just sketched in general. I'll post later results... well, later.

This weekend, with luck, will produce some more sketchery. I'm headed home tomorrow, and plan on drawing with the Brothers Weaver while watching some scary movies. Good times, folks.

That is all.

Music: "Nights in White Satin" - The Moody Blues

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Praying for Time


Spotted while out in the Yard at work.

Although I often feel like I'm moving from one task to the next with my head down, I'm glad to know I still stop to look around me every once in a while. I never know what I'll see. This was amongst our racks of our barstock inventory. He was very patient with me.

Sorry nothing's getting posted with any regularity or clarity. Especially as to the lack of anything 'artsy' on here. It's not for lack of ideas, or even lack of work (though that's been suffering, I have some stuff I'd like to get posted by 2010). However, life has just been beating me severely about the head and shoulders. Nothing horrific, mind you- just life. Hopefully I'll be able to get some semblance of control to it, and will be able to get to work on some (hopefully) cool artwork. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. See you soon.

Music: "Hallelujah" - either Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckley; they're both amazing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And you thought YOUR job was scary...


Yes, I actually took this picture at work.

No, those aren't my pants.

Might not be a post until next week- big-time fun this weekend means much running around this week. Hopefully something fun to post when next I post again!

Music: "Dirty Deeds" - AC/DC

Thursday, September 18, 2008

... In Darkest Night


In Hopeless Day In Endless Night
No Victim Shall Be Lost From Sight
Let Those Who Fear Death's Dark Blight
Embrace My Power, Gray Lantern's Light


In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a comic book geek. I make no apologies for it- I love my comic books, they've been a great source of joy for me, they've taught me a lot (introduced me to both art and science, so how bad can that be?), and, as the rest of the world flocks to see comic-book movies, I can be one of those guys who sits there and says "told ya so". I've even gotten a job based on my love and knowledge of comics. Okay, it was with a comic book store, but so what?

Back in 1997, I was finishing my 5-year 4-year plan, and earning a B.S. in Biology. Of course, being the genius that I am, I never found a job in the field. However, rather than moving on and away from State College then, I decided to stick around (I had a number of good reasons for doing so). So I was staying, but I'd need some more scratch to make ends meet. Strangely enough, about that time, I was offered a job at the Comic Swap, State College's Premier Comic Book Store since 1976. Well, who was I to say no to that? I even offered to work for comics, but Kris, being a smart guy, offered me money instead.

While there, I met a great assortment of folks; people of all walks of life, of all stripes, comic fans all. We talked about all sorts of things, politics to the environment, music to movies, and above all, comic books. Of course, no one talked about it as much as the guys who worked there. I worked with some great guys; from Kris, my boss, to Randy, who came up with the funniest sayings ever ('it blew a hole in him the size of a lobster!" being but one of them), to Thad, who's now one of my oldest friends and fellow Hellboy devotee.

As I've mentioned in the past, one of the things I like best about comics is worldbuilding. Well, that's not just me- that's most comic fans. We love imagining "what if" in the existing comic book universes. If only we could make our versions...

Well, one day, that's just what Thad, Randy, and I did. We came up with an entire alternate take on the DC universe (home to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, for you uninitiated out there). We had some pretty smart ideas, I thought- interesting takes on the world of the DCU, things like using real-time for the characters, rather than that static comic-book time (don't bother trying to make sense of that; you had to be there).

And then, we had some... more interesting ideas.

Green Lantern is one of the more popular DC heroes- he's essentially a space cop with a ring that makes anything he can imagine real, as long as he has the willpower to do it. Every 24 hours, the Lantern rechares his ring with a Power Battery (shaped like a lantern) and recites his oath. And he's part of a galactic police force, populated by bunches of aliens. We wanted to revisit that concept, and so came up with some different ideas for them. Thad came up with this one (which I'm further elaborating on here), a horror-styled Green Lantern, which was a far cry from the other characters we'd seen. This guy was a Green Lantern, but also a doctor. While on a mission, he was attacked, mostly annihilated, and left for dead. They ripped out his heart, for Oa's sake. But, as I said, the rings are powered by will. And this guy is one willful SOB. So, with his last firing synapses, he actually wills a new heart into existence. Of course, that's only a stop-gap measure, so he takes his power battery and embeds it into his chest. But he's messed up pretty badly, so he uses his ring to will himself new body parts, most visibly an eye. (I know, messed up, isn't it great?) The hook being, he's insanely powerful, but just surviving requires so much of his willpower, he's at best an average Lantern. Plus, his 'death' and subsequent resurrection have changed his perspective on what it means to serve and protect. He's no longer a Green Lantern, punishing the bad guys. Being a doctor, I thought it would be interesting to take his dedication to life to a more extreme conclusion. He stands between the living and the dead; death is his enemy.

God, it's good to be a geek.
---
Slight weapons malfunction, so I'll be back with more info about the above later.

Cheers!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


cloud mirrors my mindscape
shape, reshape, cirrus to stormcloud
flows like my feelings



See you soon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Magic Hour


Nope, not what I planned on putting up here, but when Nature presents such a scene, who am I to refuse?

This was taken last Friday, when the family and I went out to celebrate my niece Emily's 16th birthday- woohoo! A good time was had by all, even though her silly uncle destroyed her musical birthday candle contraption. Seriously, the thing was all clever, playing music and sparkling and burning, but the damn thing would not shut up... at first...

Today was my Mom's 72nd birthday, and though there was no big party, I left work a little early and took her and the ubiquitous Emily to dinner at 'The Park', a 50's-style Eat 'n' Park. Good stuff, and nice to see them, as I won't be able to for the next two weeks or so (nothing bad, just lots of stuff going on). For 72, Mom's doing really well- though, as she tells me, "it's hell getting old". (That's also the first time I ever heard my mom swear!) Of course, she's also the one who tells me she's a "tough old bird", so I think she's doing just fine.

No promises as to when the art-type thing will get posted, but hopefully soon. There's some technical issues I need to work out, and some general tinkering. But we'll see.

Music: "Happy Birthday" - The Beatles (though neither Emily nor my Mom like them)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2k1cen digital boy


Sunset


Nope, no drawing today. The long weekend made for a short week... so to speak. It was a fun and eventful weekend, with plenty of twists and turns. Mainly, I was able to spend plenty of time with my family AND my other family, the Weavers. Best of all, on Monday both families got together for some good food, fun games, and great company, courtesy of Clan Weaver. My nephew Kevin dropped by Saturday night (from 6 hours away) to spend a little time with the family and to pick up some equipment: He's studying to become a diesel mechanic, just like his grandfather. Needless to say, we're all very pleased and proud of him. No doubt Dad is smiling down on him... Also, I was able to help out my niece Emily with some drawing tips. Drawing runs in the family! It's only a matter of time before she's set up on DeviantArt!

Oh yeah- I got myself an HDTV.

And a PS3.

It's good to be gainfully employed ;)

One of the things I'm really looking forward to is hooking up the computer to the TV, so I can finally work in a scale large enough so I don't have to keep zooming in and out to look at the picture in Photoshop. Well, that's the plan, at least.

Anyway, that's my weekend. And, that's why there's no drawings to post here today. That doesn't mean there are no drawings coming, though. Thanks to some drawing time during the weekend, I hope to have something posted mmmaybe this Friday. We'll see.
Here's a hint:

"In Blackest Night".

I know- what a rubbish hint ;)

Music: "Analog Kid" - Rush

Thursday, August 28, 2008

True Companion


I blame Dave.

Well, that's not entirely fair. I had seen about 10 minutes of "Doctor Who" (the current series, starting in 2005) at some distant point in the past, but couldn't make heads or tails of it. Weird British Sci-Fi, it just didn't seem for me. Not to mention how convoluted the backstory must've been. So, I changed the channel.

Cut to the then-present, when Then-Roommate Dave was describing to me the wonders and joys of watching "Doctor Who". He told me how much fun the show was, going back to his watching the original series on one of the local (or nearly-local) PBS channels when he was just a kid. He described for me some of the backstory- The Doctor (real name unknown) was a member of an alien race called the Time Lords, from the planet Gallifrey. You knew they were alien because they had two hearts (easy on the special effects budget), and if they were near death, they could 'regenerate' into a new body (easy on the acting budget). The Doctor traveled through time and space, righting wrongs and getting into mischief, often with a traveling companion (most often a young human woman, I think). Dave described some of the aliens they encountered, such as the Daleks (rolling tanks who wanted to destroy everything) and the Cybermen (walking tanks who wanted to destroy everything). Sounded kinda fun, certainly appealing to a geek like me, who thrives on complex (some say convoluted) backstory. Of course, Dave also described the "special" effects and the scenery... how many times could they use the same corridor? And was this filmed in an airport? I thought about it a bit more and decided, mmmmnot so much. Glad he liked it, but I had no interest in watching something THAT convoluted based on something that old.

A little bit in the future from that point, I found myself home in front of the telly (how very British, no?) and happened to see that the Doctor was on. Being magnificently bored, I flipped to the channel, Dave's enthusiastic praise in the back of my mind. I'd see just how bad it was to get into. The episode was called "School Reunion", and the first thing I noticed was the production values. As in, they had them. It looked as good as any show I'd ever seen, and better than most. The effects were about as good as you'd hope for on TV. One point the Doctor. Next I saw it guest-starred Anthony Stewart Head, an actor from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", an old favorite of mine. Point Two. Almost reluctantly, the remote slipped from my fingers.

But wait, what's this? The big guest star is some woman who was on the ORIGINAL show, 20 some odd years ago. Jeez, how the hell will I follow that? That's going to annoy me... But you know, it's kinda fun to watch. The Doctor is friggin' insane, but crazy cool. I quickly realized one of the most unique things about him: there's tons of action, but he almost never resorts to violence. His "weapon" is a sonic screwdriver- a fancy ex machina to get him into and out of all kinds of trouble (unless it's deadlock sealed!). There's still action and violence in the series, but I always felt like, if you did see violence, you and the Doctor both knew it was because he'd failed otherwise. His "companion", Rose, is something- she's pretty, but in a 'real' way, not so much made up to look unrealistically beautiful like American TV stars, but just 'there' on screen (in the future, I'll revise my opinion upwards). And the banter between the Doctor and Rose is pretty funny. The verbal jousts between Rose and Sarah Jane, the guest star/previous companion, are just plain funny. The show's a touch predictable, but everyone is just having so much fun with it, I can't help but get wrapped up in it. Ideas come fast and furious, but I realize as I'm watching it, it gives out enough information to let you know what's gone before, without beating you over the head. And the actors give such turns to their characters, it's so easy to grasp the emotions of the backstory I don't know. So much so that by the end of the episode, when the Doctor says Goodbye to Sarah Jane, I'm finding myself incredibly moved by the whole story, and I want to know more.

Not too long after that, I've started reading up on the show, questioning Dave as much as I can (he patiently explains (and re-explains) some of the finer points), and hitting the internet for Who-related goodies. Of course this is where I discover that Doctor Who is about the biggest thing in the UK. EVERYONE knows the Doctor. So, Dave and I watch each episode zealously, talking about the show afterwards, picking out highlights, wondering what's coming up next. All the while, we talk about one of the best things about the series: the relationship between the Doctor and Rose. It's certainly not the typical romantic tension: think of 'Moonlighting', turn it sideways, dial it to shake and bake, and enjoy. What was so different about this dynamic, I would learn, is that in the past, they never really had any kind of romantic tension between the Doctor and a companion. It was usually buddies, or teacher/student, or something tame like that. Rose and the Doctor were different. But, they play it so close to the vest, and so subtly, if you were to only watch one episode, you'd never realize the whole show is a love story. I couldn't wait to see what would happen- would Rose tell the Doctor how she felt? Would the Doctor ever say those three words? For God's sake, would they ever kiss?

And then Rose left.

That sucked. The next two years were spent with new companions, one of whom pined for the doctor, the other behaved by turns as the doctor's big sister or little sister. The shows were still very good (some of my favorite episodes were from these seasons), but they just weren't the same. There was no Rose.

And then Rose came back.

I won't spoil what happens, in case you missed the show in the past, or hope to catch it again in the future. All I'll say is "And Lo, There Shall Be an Ending!".

"Doctor Who" went from a "yuck get away" to a "must watch" series for me, entirely on the strength of the stories and the actors. It's a great show that I really can't get enough of. I think it has so many good things going for it, and it could appeal to so many people, it's one of those shows that everyone could enjoy, if given the chance. I'm really glad I turned on Sci Fi that day, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for "Doctor Who".

But mostly, I blame Dave.

---

The art originally started out as a head sketch of Rose. Then, at a drawing session, I ended up drawing the above picture of the Doctor. I was going to just post that, when the idea hit me to make a picture not unlike what's above. So, I set about drawing another picture of Rose... only to flub the face badly. I was going to just go with what I'd drawn (I was not feeling particularly artsy at the time), when I realized I had already drawn a decent picture of Rose. So, via the miracle of Photoshop, I did a head transplant. Thanks to some cutting, pasting, and resizing, I put them both together. The Tardis (the Doctor's means of transportation, also known as a police box) was rendered completely in PS, probably in the most roundabout fashion as possible. Then the whole thing was colored and tweaked. It was a lot of fun to put this together, though a fair bit of work. This is one of the few postings I've done that I've spent more than one night working on ('AND IT SHOWS!' I heard you in the back, very funny). I'm pretty pleased with it, though as always I wish I could do a better job with likenesses. And poses. And everything else ;)

Whew.

Okay, that's it for now. I'll hopefully have something again next Wednesday.

Brilliant!

Music: "Time After Time" - Eva Cassidy

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pay No Attention to the Ghost Behind the Curtain


The above is my blog... after a fashion. It's courtesy of a website called Wordle. Wordle trolls through your website (or any site, or any collection of words)and randomly generates a work of 'art' like the above. But not really random, as it consistently focused on certain words each time. But it has a number of settings to customize, so it makes for a fun few minutes of diversion.

And no, this wasn't my supposed post. See, I was working on my post when... my dog ate it, yeah that's the ticket... Actually, life once again intervened, and though I love my art, I love my friends more. (awww... yeah, shut up.) So, it'll get delayed until Friday (I HOPE). But, to tide you over, here's a small preview of what's coming up:

I know, try to contain your excitement. I figure this'll be recognizable to exactly two of you, one of whom was there at the drawing's creation...


In the meantime, take a few minutes to peruse some of the other sites/blogs shown to the right, particularly Joe's and Mark's. Who knows, if you're careful, you just might learn something...

And lastly-

It just looks so much better in black; you'd think these things would occur to me sooner... sigh...

Music: "I Love You Period" - Dan Baird


This has been a Syrinx Design/Works Diversionary Tactic

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From the Mouth of Madness


The Joker never scared me. To be honest, my first exposure to the character, as with most kids my age, was Caesar Romero's in the reruns of the old '60's TV show. Unless you're already scared of clowns, he's really not very scary. Except for the fact that they just painted over his mustache. That was scary.

Then 1989 rolls around, and we get to watch Jack Nicholson take on the role. Great idea, right? Well, at the time it seemed great- the guy's already nutty as a bag of nuts... except he acts like, well, Jack Nicholson. Scary in his own right, sure, but not as the Joker.

2008. Heath Ledger scares the life out of me. THIS is what the Joker was meant to be. As I'd read in a review for The Dark Knight, they compared his take on the character to both Jaws, in that he's a force of nature, with no rhyme nor reason to his actions (that we can see, at least), and to Loki, the Norse God of Chaos (or evil, or Deception, but let's go with Chaos for now). I thought the character was brilliant, and Ledger's delivery was truly inspired. Not explaining the Joker's origin and motivation was one of the best ideas ever. It's not always what you put into the story that makes it. Anyway, great stuff.

The picture was done as a palate cleanser, after I'd spent a couple of hours busting my pencils on another drawing. As usual, I'm more pleased with this drawing than the one that preceded it. I'd originally been told to go at it and just color it crazy, and such had been my intention, but time makes a fool of us all, and so you get just the color... and the monochrome one below. Enough time to tinker, at least...

Speaking of jokes, and being made the fool, this wasn't meant to be the post I entered for today. It would've been Friday's post, but thanks to my leaving ALL of my drawing tools at my Mom's house, I was unable to finish the drawing I'd originally planned on putting up today. So, if you read the hint and this wasn't what you expected to see, sorry. But, it still kinda worked. As it was a 'joke' I posted last week... get it?

Okay, I'm rambling...

Um, maybe post Friday? No promises, though.

Go.

Music: "I Think I'm Going Slightly Mad" - Queen

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Mislaid Plans of Mice and Men

I was going to post something today, really.

Honestly, the plan was to come home and get to work in Photoshop, putting together a couple pictures and then coloring them, then posting the whole mess.

But, I opted instead to head up north a ways to search for furniture and visit with Joe. I had a few things on my mind (very few- it can't hold much) and felt like talking, so it was time well spent. Then, once home, I decided to instead do the social, human thing, and talk with some other folks via the phone. And I needed to eat, of course.

So, here I am, with nothing to show for the post. I was going to post another picture from one of the concerts, but that didn't work out (too blurry).

Well, then.

Any ideas what you'd like to see on here? I'm hurting a bit for direction and motivation (nothing new there) so any ideas you'd like to see, they'd be appreciated. No promises, mind, but if nothing else you might give me a good chuckle. And the world needs more good chuckles.

Come on back Wednesday if you like, and hopefully I'll have something to present. I'll even give you a clue:

Knock Knock

Who's there?

Music: "Lost!" - Coldplay

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Sound of Music

A) One of the biggest and most instrumental bands of the late 20th century

B) A well-known and well-loved band known to the east coast for number of years

C) A little-known band from Germany only just now getting airplay in the U.S.

If I asked you, "which of these bands drew the loudest crowd?", chances are you're wrong, unless you picked 'C'. I know, I can't believe it either... Over the past two weeks, I've been to three concerts.

First up, The Police- a concert I never thought would come to happen, let alone one I'd attend. It was essentially a greatest hits show, performed with zeal and skill by three men who, as a band, contributed immensely to the landscape of pop, rock, and alternative music. They sounded fantastic, like the intervening years had just served to help refine their talents. There were about 13,000 fans there, screaming and cheering and clapping for, literally, the show of a lifetime. Good stuff.


Second, this past Saturday, I finally had the chance to watch hometown heroes The Clarks perform live, after what felt like decades of hearing their homegrown rock on local stations like DVE (I remember being amazed when I found out the rest of the country didn't know who The Clarks were- losers). They played like they still had something to prove, though the (what seemed like) several thousands of fans were more than supportive of the band. They played plenty of well-known favorites, as well as a lot of brand new music (all of which sounded great). The crowd left satisfied, a show well-done.


Third, yesterday, I took my fifteen-year-old niece Emily to see a group she'd been telling me about for a while now, Tokio Hotel. They're from Germany (which I guess explains the spelling?), and seem to be representative of the new wave (as opposed to New Wave) of alt rockers, with a heavy dose of Emo (as opposed to Elmo) and light nu-metal. I've been listening to their stuff ever since Em let me have their CD to sample. I figure hey, she could be on to something. I like the music well enough- like I said, they're alt rockers, they hit the right notes (figuratively and literally) and I can see how younger folks could really get into their music. I mean, they're not Pearl Jam, but they're not bad. So, when the opportunity presented itself for Emily to go to the concert, and her mom couldn't take her, I did the good uncle thing and offer to take her. To Cleveland. No big deal- it's funny how, after all these years of driving in Maryland, where to do anything fun, you always had to drive an hour (not to mention just go to work), a 2.5 hour drive to Cleveland from Pittsburgh didn't seem like much. I had no idea what to expect once we got there (other than hey, it's Cleveland)- I didn't know what kind of crowd it would draw- would they be a bunch of dark goth teens, standing around with their greasy black hair covering their faces? Would it be a bunch of college age kids, standing around with their too-trendy clothes and mall-bought rebellion, looking for trouble?

We got there, and it was worse than I imagined, much worse... It was 500 15-year-old girls... and their parents. Holy shit, I was one of the adults.

Then it got worse.

We went inside of the House of Blues, and I was stuck inside a (very freaking small) room full of screaming teenage girls, all of them chanting "WE WANT TOKIO HOTEL! WE WANT TOKIO HOTEL!" I wondered if this was some kind of karmic payback for earlier transgressions. I looked around at the other adults there, and they all must've seen the panicky, deer-in-headlights look on my face, because they only smiled sadly and shook their heads, as though acknowledging what was about to happen to me. The band came out. The girls screamed. My ears bled. I mean, seriously? You know those stereotypes of the spoiled little girl who squeals when she gets a freakin' pony or whatever? Take that sound, multiply it by a billion, stick it into a tiny (what's the maximum capacity in this place? 12?) room, and you about approach what it sounded like. So this, THIS is truly what it means to be responsible for a child. The pain...

But, it was a pretty good show, surprisingly. What I could hear of the band, over the girls, was pretty tight- they were obviously more than capable of playing live, and playing well. The girls all sang along, to every song, and all seemed to know what appropriate moves to make for each song (as did some of the moms). It was kinda fun to stand back (I was at the edge of the mob) and watch them. For them, this was the biggest thing in the world. So, it was fun. Emily had an excellent time, So it was all well worth it. She got to meet and talk with a bunch of like-minded girls (not always an easy thing) and I got to talk with some fellow "suffering" parental units- though when I saw the one girl throw her arms around her mom and tell her she was the greatest mom EVER for having driven 14 hours to the show, I could tell the mom thought it was a trip well worth taking. And really, it wasn't bad. I even offered to take her to the next concert. Which probably is just what she, and her mother, wanted to hear.

So, those are my recent musical adventures. Next, I think it's time to find some live music in a bar somewhere. There's nothing like hearing a small band perform for a crowd of about 50 in a smoky, smelly dive somewhere, while you're drinking and talking with friends. That, folks, is what makes music great.

(As you've noticed, these are also my first video posts. Hope they work...)

Next time around (hey, maybe even this Friday!) an actual art post. Maybe.

Music: "Message in a Bottle" - The Police; "Lock and Key" - The Clarks; and "Rescue Me" - Tokio Hotel

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prompt, One

The rider approached his mount, pale in the first rays of dawn. He slung the bag of bolts around the beast’s neck, resting it so his hand was only an instant’s reach away from his deadly cargo. He mounted the steed and drew a deep breath, tasting the morning mist, sweet with the promise of a good day’s battle. Turning the beast, he rocketed down the lane.

Rider and steed cut through the mist like a finely-honed knife through flesh. He spotted his first target, drew, and launched his missile in one fluid motion, the target destroyed before realization struck. Any sound the target made was swallowed by the fog. The rider never even looked around, his eyes not on the last victim, but the next target. He raced between his enemies, dealing death in a blur of motion, his aim unerring, his weapons devastating. They collapsed all around him, helpless to stop his onslaught. The rider laughed aloud, his blood warming to the carnage.

He turned a corner, and as the mist began to lift, he saw his targets appearing before him, lining the streets as though awaiting the kiss of his weapons. Tall guardsmen, stout clergymen, clusters of merchants, all fell before him, equals in death by his hands. He raced along, and death followed in his wake.

A rumbling growl drew the rider’s attention from his task. He turned and caught a glimpse of the source. A hellhound! One of his enemies must have let it loose for a dawn patrol. The rider drove his mount harder, hoping to evade the hellbeast. No good! The monster was closing on him, nipping at his mount’s well-shod heels. The rider sighed, not panicking, but knowing what must be done. He reached into his quiver and drew a bolt.

He could feel the beast’s breath at his feet…

The rider swung down with flat of the bolt, striking across the hellhound’s snout and in one smooth movement threw the bolt directly into the heart of the hellhound’s domain. The beast immediately lost interest in the rider and tore off after the bolt, in a futile attempt to stop the inevitable. The rider heard the bolt strike home as he forced his steed faster. A wicked grin grossed his face, as he knew the death would be blamed on the hellhound.

Looking down into the quiver, the rider saw only a few bolts remaining. With this realization, he suddenly felt tired. It was almost time to end his day’s run. It was a good run, with many foes struck down, and a hellbeast easily thwarted. He threw his remaining bolts, striking their targets with the casual arrogance only a true master could display. Finally he was down to one last bolt. And just in time. He approached his enemy’s stronghold warily, eyes roaming the defenses, ready to move instantly if he felt their weapons being brought to bear against him. Nothing. He sneered, slowing his mount, taking the time to savor this final throw. They would never see it strike. He hefted the bolt, drew back, and let fly.

And missed.

Astonished, the rider nearly fell off his mount. The bolt brushed by the intended target and shattered against the main gate, fragments blasting everywhere. And suddenly, the gate was thrown open and the lord of the fortress stormed out, still in his bedclothes. His clawed hand swept down and gathered the fragments of the missile, as though to throw them back at the rider. The rider tensed, knowing his very survival would depend on what happened in the next instant.

“Hey kid! Watch where you throw the damn newspaper! You almost smashed my flowerpot!”

“Sorry mister!” the rider shouted as he pedaled away. Not sorry at all. Tomorrow, he wouldn’t miss…
---

So yeah, I decided to try something a little different this time around. I had a picture or two almost worth posting, but I'd been kicking around the idea of putting up some writing, rather than just more pictures. My niece told me about this great concept for assisting in writing: Prompts. Essentially, they're nothing more than a word, or set of words, or sentences meant to spark your mind into a creative writing exercise. A prompt, if you will. I was doing a little bit of research, trying to find something that would give me a good start towards a fun story (Emily set the bar very high with the story she'd made from the prompts she was given). I'd been through about 10 or 15 sites, covering a range of words/sentences/topics, and I'd found a great line of poetry that was to be used to generate the story. I was working on that (it'll come along shortly, I hope) when my subconscious stepped forward with another item I'd seen early on: "Rider". While I was thinking on the poem, I ended up coming up with a completely different idea for the word "Rider". And as usual with my ideas, whichever one gets further along wins. This one was pretty much done by the time I started typing. If I wanted, I could tell you about the recurring ideas I've had in my writing, going back to grade school, of "the fantastic in the mundane", something along the lines of making the everyday extraordinary, or the juxtaposition of the two, but I won't. You probably already get the idea.

Anyway, hope you liked the story. With luck, this will be a semi-recurring feature of the blog.
Speaking of blogs, please check out, OddVoodoo,my friend Joe's blog. We've talked about putting up blogs for ages now, and he's FINALLY done it. Joe's work with Photoshop makes my scribblings look like the work of a monkey with a crayon, but without thumbs. Try it, you'll like it!

Also, Ivy was jealous of Scout, and so demanded equal time:


That's it. No more cat posts for a while. Honest.

Music: "Cemeteries of London" - Coldplay

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bat from the Black Lagoon

For whatever reason, the only two things I could seem to even attempt to sketch last weekend were Batman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. No idea why... well, that's not true. I'd seen The Dark Knight the week prior, and I was reading a book that involved amphibious bipeds in the Amazon (even less good a book than it sounds (and yes, that's indeed saying something)). So I sat and sketched a bit, but little came of it. Only one of the pictures made it beyond non-photo blue, and this ain't it. (aside- my spell checker does not recognize "ain't" as a misspelling... sigh...) This pic really didn't go where I envisioned it, So I set it aside until I came back with a better idea of what I wanted to do. However, I did kind of like it, and so it got scanned in.

Cut to Thursday. I let my mind wander sometimes when I'm at work (less than you'd think, really) while I'm doing tasks that don't require a ton of focus on my part. Kind of like running a program minimized in the background. I like to take pictures I've scanned in and run through them with various ideas of how to do something interesting, or at least different, with them in Photoshop. I ran through this one, and came up with something marginally like what you see before you (I have an idea for one of the Batman pictures as well from this method). It was a fun and short exercise, basically duplicating the pencils, changing the colors, then "painting" underneath the pencils. With a quick and crappy background thrown in. The original picture is somewhat larger than this; I realized by cropping it, I could make it a little more interesting looking. You'd think for all the movies I've watched in my day, I'd've realized the effect of framing a visual...

Anyway, there you go. I still have to finish the other Creature picture (pencils before PS) as well as the Batmans (Batmen?). Two posts in one week! Crazy!

Have a good weekend, suckers!

Music: "I've Got to Break Free" - Queen

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Possession


"She's got the most beautiful eyes... and her smile, it really lights up the room.
"She's just amazing- I've never known another woman like her.
"She understands me like no one else- she knows the real me, and I know the real her.
"We'll be perfect together...
"She'll see."

At some point in their lives, most folks have been smitten with someone who they are convinced doesn't even know they exist. Whether it's a coworker, classmate, or casual acquaintance, they come the focus for a harmless infatuation- usually lasting as long as it takes for the smitten to realize hey, they're just people, like everyone else.

But what if they really didn't know you existed? What if they'd never met you before, never seen you before, never heard of you before? And what if it wasn't a harmless infatuation- what if the object of your affection becomes the focus of your existence, the objective of your existence, to the exclusion of all else, often including morality, rationality, and reality? What have you become?

Welcome to the world of the stalker.

Everyone's familiar with the concept of the stalker; like described above, these folks become obsessed with another person, be it celebrity or next-door neighbor, and begin creating elaborate fantasies out of nothing. The idea of the stalker has been addressed by musicians for decades. Some of the most popular songs of the past few decades have been about these people:
"Every Breath You Take"- The Police
"Possession"- Sarah MacLachlan
"Creep"- Radiohead

The latest addition to this sub-genre of songs is one of my current favorite songs out there, "I Will Possess Your Heart" by Death Cab for Cutie. Like many of these songs, the sheer malevolence of the content of the song is often masked by the tone of the lyrics; it's only after repeated listenings that you discover just how dark the lyrics actually are (look at all the folks who used to dedicate "Every Breath" to their loved ones- either they're a bunch of stalkers, or they didn't catch all the dialogue). "I Will Possess", unlike some of the other songs, lets you know from the beginning, somewhat unconsciously, that it's not a light song about puppy love- it has one of the most menacing basslines I've heard in a song. It's not particularly violent or loud, but there's something about the steady way it's played that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

In addition to the fantastic bass, the lyrics themselves are sung in a stumbling counterpoint to the rhythm and melody of the music, further drawing the listener into that stalker's headspace. The singer's light voice catches you off guard, particularly after the long musical introduction. You're humming along to the tune until you realize exactly what the song's about.

The video is the final ingredient to the mix, and one of the most subtle. It's essentially a 10-minute travelogue of a young woman's trip to various places around the world. The beauty of it is that you're just watching her go about her trip, but you're always watching her from a distance, and almost always from behind her. When you make the connection between the lyrics and the video, the video goes from a nicely shot long-form video to one of the scariest music videos ever.

Oh, the picture. Well, I was watching the video/listening to the song, and the image just occurred to me. I suppose it could take place just after the video ends or something along those lines. Not the most pleasant of pictures, I know, but the song really struck me, visually, and this is what I came up with. Originally just a sketch of the woman, I brought it into photoshop and created everything else.

I'm hoping this musical exercise will recur here more often; quite some time ago I'd asked folks for songs and/or lyrics that really struck a particular chord with them, or had some really nice imagery. I've not forgotten those, and coupled with my own ideas (music is GREAT for getting visual imagery), I'm hoping to visit that area again.

I'll possibly be back Friday; definitely be back next Wednesday.

Oh, I saw The Police in concert last night. Yes, it was great.

Music: "Wrapped Around Your Finger" - The Police

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Angelic?


It's only a matter of time before I'm posting to LOLCAT.com. God help me. But seriously, isn't she cute? This is shortly before she pounced on me while I was trying to sleep. Then, seeing I was awake, came up to my face to be petted. Angelic, indeed.

Yeah, I know, it's not "art". I have a few things in mind, honestly- I just need the time to get to work on them.

Really.

In other news- the new Coldplay CD is amazing. It's a very different sound from the last couple they've put out, though they're all distinctly Coldplay. Most of this one seems to be a meditation on death, but it's surprisingly cheerful. Also, my living room now looks mostly livable, and it took me a month to finish the last book I picked up. It was only 400 pages. That's depressing. And there's a fly in my office the size of a small bird, to judge the sound. It must be destroyed.

That's it.

Music: "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" - The Police

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fairy Stories


You know, this post was supposed to be me telling you how I just can't seem to focus on being creative, certainly not draw and post pictures to the blog, and how I'd probably need to take some time away from this to get my head back together (as together as it ever gets, really). But...

I almost forgot I was going to post for Wednesday. I remembered, then realized I didn't have anything done enough to properly post. Do I go with another cameraphone picture? I like them, but it's almost like cheating. It's not like I did anything creative other than hold up my phone (I'm not disputing the artistic and aesthetic value of photography; I'm just saying that's not where my creativity runs). But, I had a couple of in-process pictures lying around in the computer, so to speak, so I thought I'd give one a try. Well, the first one sucked hard- there's a particular technique with Photoshop I can't seem to get the hang of (sorry Joey- I'll be asking for tutoring again) and so I decided to bail and write the "I'm sorry I'm not creative anymore" post. Then, as I booted up the site, I remembered a random thought I'd had about something to try with a different picture. It wasn't much of a thought, as thoughts go, but it was something to try, and I really didn't have anything to lose.

It was tough at first, as I haven't really touched PS since before the move, and sadly, it's like many other skills- left unexercised, it withers rapidly. However, as the time rolled by, they seemed to come back- rusty, to be sure, but back. I think another five or ten pictures should get me back in the swing of things. Anyway, that's the story of the blogpost that almost wasn't.

Other than the picture itself. This was inspired by a friend of mine. She had been telling me about a series of letters she'd written her friend's little girl, on behalf of the Tooth Fairy. When she told me this, I had been having a terrible time trying to find anything to draw (which happens A LOT) and I was lamenting my situation to her. So, seeing the signs, reading the stars, thinking logically, whatever you call it, she suggested I draw a picture of the Tooth Fairy, which might pair well with her letters. So, me being me, I took it and ran with it, down some obviously different directions. I'm quite pleased with it (the wings were a bitch, just between you and me), though this is proof to me that you really never finish a picture, you just walk away. I could've nit-picked this till doomsday. Also, I haven't told her yet about it... Hope you like it!

That's it for now, methinks. It's going to be a long time before I'm back to three posts a week, though, so right now, let's just settle on Wednesdays, shall we? I'll go back and tackle that other picture soon, and hopefully post it next week.

Music: "Black Velvet Band" - Traditional Irish