I hope everyone has a lovely and safe New Year’s Eve. I’m going out to dinner with a bunch of friends and then we are going to ring in the new year at the Big Apple Circus, which should be fun and cool. I’ll have pictures. In the meantime, here’s a drawing I made that is going on plates. They are two forest creatures confined in a square. I love them.
Archive for December, 2007
1. I was watching “Modern Marvels: Distilleries” and I learned all about absinthe. It doesn’t cause insanity or hallucinations like everyone says; That rumor was spread around by the French wine people because people were drinking absinthe instead of french wine and the wineys were… well, whiney. Absinthe is basically gin in the sense that it is neutral grain alcohol with herbs in it. Gin has juniper berries and then a collection of botanicals such as lemon and bitter orange peel, anise, angelica root and seed, orris root, licorice root, cinnamon, coriander, and cassia bark. Absinthe contains green anise, fennel and wormwood. Now, the interesting thing is that while you could probably make gin at home, you should not make absinthe because if you mess up the wormwood extract, you get too much of a substance called thujone which can cause renal failure and which in large quantities is a convulsive neurotoxin. So, no making “bathtub absinthe”.
2. I saw the Sweeney Todd movie on opening night, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I’ll tell you, I was scared because I am a big fan of the original 1982 DVD and I just didn’t see Johnny Depp in that role and I thought it would suck and be lame and all hollywood-ified. Happily, I was wrong. Tim Burton really captured the ickiness of the Industrial Age with the smoke and the coal and the overpowering greyness. Even though Johnny Depp totally looked like Edward Scissorhands, he pulled it off quite well. And they cut out several songs, one of which I hate so much I want to rip my eyes out and shove them in my ears when I hear it,* so that’s a plus. Only two things bothered me. One was the blood. Oh my goodness, was there blood. Frickin’ torrents of the stuff. The opening credits alone almost made me hurl (BLOOD! RUNNING IN GUTTERS TOWARDS YOU! BUBBLING AND FROTHING! ENJOY YOUR POPCORN!). Then there was the slitting of the throats (BLOOD! BEING ASPIRATED! SHOOTING OUT OF CAROTID ARTERIES! SPLURT SPLURT! GETTING IN YOUR PEPSI!) and the bodies dropping down the chute, did they have to SLAM into the ground like that, with the bone-snappy noise? Did we really need that? No, we didn’t. The other thing was the ending. The ending of the original musical is so creepy, with the Toby reciting poetry and grinding meat and generally going batpoop insane. In the movie, Toby says nothing, slits Sweeney’s throat, Sweeney bleeds out all over the floor (BLOOD! LIKE A WATERFALL! A WATERFALL OF CAMPBELL’S TOMATO SOUP! IN YOUR NACHOS!), aaaaaaaand… the credits roll. Wha-huh? You left out the creepiest part? Why did you do that, Tim Burton? It’s a no-brainer – little kids reciting poetry while slitting throats is CREEPY as HELL. And then grinding meat with the corpses all around – ULTRA-CREEPY. And you chose to leave that out? I am not happy about that, Tim, not happy at all. But it was good otherwise and I recommend you see it in the theaters because I don’t think it will have the same impact on your TV.
* “Kiss Me”. God, that’s a grating song. Actually, anything sung by Anthony and Joanna is grating to me. I find most heinous the romances where the couple just met two seconds ago, but they know they’re going to be together forever and then they sing about deep meaningful instantaneous love for ten minutes. Les Miserables is another one. Hello, France is at war, Marius and Cosette. Nobody cares about how you just met. Go to a cafe for a few hours, chat for a while, see if you have interests in common before you start professing lifelong commitment. People like you is why people like me have to drink vodka for breakfast.
Addendum: Ah, YouTube, you never fail me.
Here’s the opening sequence. Enjoy your popcorn.
I like working with negative space, so here it is:
Curly bones. I thought that would be an interesting take on bones. Very Dia de los Muertos. I will find a use for him and his curly bones. Perhaps I will get a request to do something for Halloween or a really macabre bar mitzvah invitation and I will be ready to go with my skeleton man.
There’s a movie out, Alvin and the Chipmunks. No, really. They made a movie. Jason Lee’s in it. Here, look.
The only problem I’m having is that the chipmunks use those high-pitched voices. Now, I’ve watched a little-known film called Joe’s Apartment maybe twenty times and I know all the songs from it by heart. It’s a movie about a guy who moves to New York and his apartment is inhabited by singing, dancing cockroaches. It’s a great film. However, these thespian roaches have the same high-pitched voices as the chipmunks, so I cannot see a preview for this stupid Chipmunk film without thinking of this:
And if you enjoyed that and don’t have a problem seeing the nastiest bathroom in the world, there’s also this:
I’ll get to the thing I saw on the street momentarily. I saw a play yesterday and it was terrific. I would highly recommend it to people who like straight plays, no music. It’s called “August: Osage County”. Go see it if you have the chance. When I found out it was three hours and twenty minutes long, I got all kinds of concerned, but it didn’t feel long at all. There’s one character, the family patriarch named Beverly Weston, who opens the show with a long story that really clarifies his character and helps us understand his wife’s character as well. The way this particular actor chose to speak was great. He would bark his sentences and yell certain words for emphasis. All of his sentences ended with exclamation points. “I noticed we were LOW on EGGS! So I went to the FOOD MART and picked some UP! Now we can make TOAST to go with the EGGS! Prob’ly shoulda picked up some MILK, but I FORGOT!” etc. For some reason, I just got a kick out of listening to him talk. By the way, this has almost nothing to do with the play, so I’m not ruining it for you, you can still see it and it will still be terrific. Also, the set is neato too. It’s a whole house onstage, the whole thing. You can see a picture of it on their website (so technically I’m still not ruining the play).
Okay, so I was walking to the theater and I passed a record company that had pictures of recent CD covers on the outside of their building. Here is the picture that caused me to laugh:
Let me explain. When I was a child, I read a great deal of Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl wrote a book called The BFG (The Big Friendly Giant) which is a phenomenal children’s book. There’s a big friendly giant in it, but there are also big yucky unwashed hairy giants who eat children out of their beds at night. Some of the names of the bad nasty giants are Childchewer, Gizzardgulper, Maidmasher, Meatdripper aaaaaaaand Bonecruncher. See the name of the artist on the CD in the middle there? When I saw that, all I could picture is the illustrations in my copy of The BFG from my childhood. I thought the album cover would look much better like this:
Quentin Blake’s illustrations really capture a sense of unwashed blechiness, don’t they? So, quick recap: If you’re in the New York area, see August: Osage County. And if you like to read, buy The BFG and read it.
Along with the acorn and the octopus, I also drew a bat that will be a pendant and a brooch.
He’s a cutie, flying away with his flying parts. I think he will do well in the store. For people who like bats, he’s a bat, no problem there. And for people who think bats are creepy, he’s a non-threatening bat. A bat for all seasons.
Also, I was walking to Grand Central the other night, and I walked through Rockefeller Center. I know the tree and the ice-skating rink is hokey and for tourists, but it’s still really pretty. Enjoy these pics of the giant Norwegian spruce and the flags and the lights and the mist.
I designed some curvy organic shapes for a booklet I was working on, but the client changed the concept, so the curvy shapes were canned. I like them though, so I will try to use them someday on another project.
But I also drew some stamps for myself and I think they’re really sweet and kind of fun. One is an acorn:
And the other is an octopus:
A smoochy little octopus swimming earnestly through the big scary ocean. Go, little octopus, go.
Remember in an earlier post when I spoke about my feelings on being called an artist, how I didn’t like it? And then I tried to explain why I didn’t like the term, and I sucked at explaining it? Remember that? Well, I was looking through a book the other day (great book if you like posters, “Goines Posters”, about the graphic artist David Lance Goines) and Mr. Goines makes a great statement to why he doesn’t want to be called a fine artist.
There is no indication of actual talent and skill when a person calls himself a “fine artist.” I, for example, shun the word like the plague. I call myself a “printer”, a “graphic designer”, or a “graphic artist.” If you call yourself an artist, who’s to say if you are one or not? It’s a word nearly without meaning. If I call myself a plumber, or an electrician, or a printer, it can be determined with absolute certainty in about two minutes whether I am what I say or not. These are actual skills that take years to acquire, and there is no trickery or “eye of the beholder” stuff about it. That I am a journeyman printer is not a matter of opinion, nor is it subject to fashion or whim. The same is true of my status as a graphic artist. A commercial artist is a class of skilled laborer. Generally speaking, the commercial artist has a whole lot of other people’s money, hopes, dreams and aspirations riding on his efforts, and can under no circumstances produce any “art for art’s sake” or he will quickly find himself out on the street, where he can produce all the fine art he wants.
So, yeah, what he said.
See? See? I’m still making jewelry. There it is. Gaze at it.
I will tell you, though, if the directions on the polymer clay say, “Hey, don’t spray this stuff with spray paint or Crystal Clear or nail polish because it will stay sticky forever,” LISTEN. Otherwise you have to spend four hours gently scraping each and every piece to remove the sticky undried substance and you’ll have to throw away half your pieces anyway. Not fun. But I bounced back (I’m a bouncer!) and made a festive array of new pieces using a different sealing technique which works and hooray, now I have that nice big pile of jewelry done. Going up in the store shortly.
So, pertaining to my apartment-buying, I went to Ikea last weekend for the first time. WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME OF THIS EXQUISITE PLACE? I actively don’t like shopping, but I was happy there and shopped with a smile on my face. I bought a whole dinner set and some succulents and cactii and glasses, oh, so terrific. They have toys and one of their toys is a stuffed pillbug. How marvelous (or marve-louse, if you’d prefer. Har har! Bug humor! Never gets old.)
Now, until I saw this picture I didn’t know its mouth unzips and you can store things in him. This pillbug just gets better the more you know about him. Also, you can get a fountain drink for a dollar. A dollar! And the fountain drink cup is a decent size! You can’t get anything, anywhere for a dollar. I just pottered around looking at light fixtures drinking lingonberry juice for five hours. I highly recommend the experience.