Friday, December 17, 2010

Year In Review

So, with the end of the year closing in I found myself doodling a self portrait/commentary on how the year was, and then found myself totally and utterly depressed. Of course the two aren't related but... oh god, so sad. Anyway, still messing around with a new method of digital coloring, haven't got all the kinks out yet, but it'll come.

Next week I'm just gonna do Santa themed images, that should be less of an utter bummer. Actually that sounds like a challenge to draw a melancholic Santa, which is something I must now do.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And Yet I Am Not Tan

Chicago is (supposedly) besieged by blizzard, I lounge relaxed by a pool in Malibu. Actually I've spent most of my time here indoors or watching/playing with my awesome cousins Truman and Ivy. As a result I am paler now than I was when I arrived. Marker drawings below were done for/in conjunction with cousinal units.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To Lazy to Buy a Card, I Drew One

Arghh! Ok, well it's been a while since my last post, but I'm getting back up on the internet horse to continue my ride. My ride to metaphor town. Fuck, that kind of got away from me. Anyway, here's a doodle I kicked around today: baby Jesus as awesome space surfer, who is for legal reasons unaffiliated with "the Silver Surfer", Jack Kirby or his estate, Marvel Comics, or the act of surfing.

There's a version with text already in and a blank one, so you can make your own.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Boredom Update

Boredom induced sea-monster post, maybe I'll clean it up and color it at some point...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Boredom Update

So, no new comic post today (or yesterday, or the day before, blah blah blah), I'm trying to figure out how to scan/digitally clean them in a way that looks uh, not crappy.

In other news, my second Chicagoist post went up today, which is good, you can read it here. I'm not "on staff" yet, so I don't have access to the blog posting client, it's a little frustrating (and led to a few minor hiccups in the piece) but whatever. I'm -like- way too cool to care either way, so it'sall good.

Hmmm, what else? Oh yeah, you should read this: Paul Klein's write-up of the Ray Yoshida show opening tonight at SAIC's Sullivan Galleries. It's much more in depth, thoughtful, and better written than my little blurb about it (but then again, it should be), and it really drives home the point that if you live in Chicago and consider yourself an arts person, this is a show you have to see.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MODOK Mondays! ...Fuck. Fucking Illiteration.

In lieu of a comic page tonight we're gonna do a sketch/experiment in GIMP. It's MODOK (Marvel comics rights blah blah), which stands for -get this- Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.

Silver Age man, a simpler time, a better time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Movie Night Monday


The SOFA show piece is now up at Chicagoist! Read it here.

Also, page two of short Borges comic is done, I'm thinking the weekends are breaktime for this project, so it'll only update during the week.

I'm also wondering if I should be planning the next pages in advance. Don't think so.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things Are Looking Up For Ol' Liz Lemon

Is it wierd that my nickname for myself is Liz Lemon?

Things actually have gone well today, I'm maybe writing for Chicagoist now (upcoming week is tryouts or probationary period or whatever), which is great.
Also going to SOFA/Inuit/Outsider Art Show at Navy Pier tomorrow, which should be fun in a Hunter S. Thompson gonzo kinda way: I'm attending with a huge amout of mescaline and crack cocaine, looking to give my first submitted piece a sort of subjective, public-disturbancy oomph.
Really should be fun.

Also, have decided to start drawing/posting one page a day of a comic I've wanted to do for a long time. Won't be very tightly plotted, but that's not the point. Anyway, first page today.

My apologies to Borges (you can read his short story 'Ragnarok' here).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Golub from the Block

It's strange, but artists seem to take one of two tacks when closing out their working lives. Some take solace in the spiritual, in religiosity or tribal or ethnic histories, their place in their intellectual lineage. A good example is William Blake, great anarchist poet and free thinker, who spent his final years in a sort of religious ecstasy, producing illustrations of biblical stories and Dante's inferno.

And then then there are artists who spend the last decade or so wallowing in decay and exploring their own frailty. It would be a mistake to attribute work like this to depression, it's simply a continuation of the focus and concentration with which they questioned all aspects of life beforehand. This is the fun category probably for the same reason that everyone reads the first third of The Divine Comedy and never the rest of it: suffering and unpleasantness is relate-able and universal. All happy families resemble each other-- and all that.

Artists who spend their careers casting light into unpleasant topics should owe no less to the end of their own lives. It's with this attitude that it's best to walk into the Leon Golub exhibit Leon Golub, Live & Die Like a Lion? currently at Northwestern's Block Museum, as it illuminates both the strengths and weaknesses of the work.

Gone are the large scale oil on linen canvases. The show contains one tremendously unfinished outline of a large scale work, and a few mid sized printing experiments, mostly from much earlier in Golub's career. There are themes and characters in the drawings drawn from the rest of his work, but most of the similarity ends there. The show is nearly exclusively drawings from the last five years of Golub's life, a period of prolific (if scaled) production. Most of the drawings measure about 8 by 10 inches on vellum, usually executed with oilstick and ink, with a gesture and application more spontaneous than the slow, intentional painting and scraping of his canvas works.

Also differentiating them from his other work is how solitary they are. Most of the large scale works Golub is known for are narratives of at least two characters, often a victim and (at least one) aggressor. Golub seems to have retreated from his mid career viciousness, searching for humor and ugliness in individuals, animals, and intimate acts, rather than in politically or socially motivated violence (his usual oeuvre). Satyrs fucking (it really can't be called making love) replace South American goon squads, nudes and portraits of snarling dogs take the place of apartheid regimes. It's surprising how much humor is present: goofs on Matisse and Ingres, lions, dogs, and skeletons rendered with as much (and often more) affection than his people, scrawled grafitti. Probably the best pieces in the show are the ones of couples screwing, which can't seem to make up their mind between being funny or kind of horrible, and in-between is exactly what they should be.

There are problems with the show too, some of it size. In the time period the show covers Golub produced some 400 drawings, the Block displays 42. Also (and more importantly) Golub's artistic life was a series of reactions to social events and causes, but this work feels bound inside the artist's head, and though clever and fun, subsequently feels divorced from the world he spent most of his career focused on. Without the social and moral conflicts of his large-scale paintings the work feels...well, small. The closest the show comes to real violence is still miles apart from the feeling of his earlier work. The dichotomy between spiritual and physical here certainly leans to the physical, but not with any oomph. Golub doesn't declare his belief in the beyond or the powers of harmony, far from it, but there's nothing in the show that attacks the possibility, like you see at the end of Picasso's life. There's a certain pull to the punches here that you don't see in Golub's earlier career. If at the end of his life Morandi had switched to portraiture, the result might be equally revealing, and equally frustrating.

The show is -at the very least- perfectly interesting, as are most Block Museum ventures, but it's certainly not an introduction to his work for the uninitiated. If you have familiarity with his work, or can rope someone who does into giving you a tour in the month or so the show has left, it's a must-see. Golub is an unapreciated artist, but his work is certainly going to speak to us for some time to come.

Leon Golub, Live & Die Like a Lion? runs until December 12th. You can visit the Block Museum's site here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Greatest Movie Never Made

Ok, no new sketches today. I did start working on my Doctor Doom mask though, so posting a finished version of that before Halloween, or changing my costume to "Guy Dressed as Half-Assed Doctor Doom or Possibly White MF Doom".

But this... I, I need to share this, the world must know. It's... it's beautiful.

A script treatment for a sequel to John Carpenter's The Thing, featuring -among other things- MacReady teaming up with a seven foot tall alien bounty hunter named Gotha. They fight crime together. I am not joking.

"Near the dome, two figures stagger their way toward the front gate. Mac and Gotha, a seemingly drunken pair, approach the guardhouse to give themselves in. With the guards in a state of comfort with their appearance, Mac and Gotha let lose on the guards and take them out quickly."

Read it here. Read it, the world must know.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Episodes Are Best Episodes

Who remembers back when The Simpsons Halloween episode was like, the coolest thing? Back when all shows obeyed a narrative structure, and characters had to actually stay in character? I have a pet theory that classically TV shows had Christmas episodes and Halloween episodes and those were the two opportunities for the writers to go nuts: introduce mystical stuff, kill characters, have Santa Claus, Christmas miracles, It's a Wonderful Life parody episodes, etc. And then it would all go back to normal the next week.

And that's true from The Honeymooners to The Flintstones, Facts of Life, Saved by the Bell, Friends, etc.

And then come Family Guy (which I hate) and South Park (which I love), and the whole game changes. These shows both abandon the artifice of maintaining steady character traits, because it's more fun to see their points of view and intelligence switch episode to episode, and embrace cartoony logic as the rule for their shows' universes, because it expands the parameters of what the shows can tackle. But now every episode turns into a free-for-all. It's telling that The Simpsons get to kill or disfigure a character once a year, and South Park gets to once an episode.

And of course this so popular that it echoes back to other shows, on The Simpsons Homer gets to be a savant when it's comedically convenient, 30 Rock gets to treat humans like cartoons (again, love the show), and Community umm...exists.

Not that this is all bad, in fact it's kind of awesome. We've mastered straight narrative and now demand self-aware programing. But still, makes me remember how cool and new it was to see Bart play a raven to James Earl Jone's narration.

Oh, and the drawing isn't strictly for Halloween. I'm actually attending a Werewolf Bar-Mitzvah tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

May Mads Be With You

So my buddy Andrew Hegele is over at, keeping it real and getting tricked into giving positive blurbs to Resident Evil movies. And Thursday he's interviewing director Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Bronson, the Pusher movies) and the cast of the movie Drive (slated for release in 2011). Which is a pretty big deal because the guy really is a tremendous director and this is his first American film, he's moving up fast and seems to be retaining integrity too.
Also, Christina Hendricks might be in the room, and she's, like... the perfect human.

So I've sketched a (not great) Mads Mikkelsen to wish him good luck.

May Mads protect you my friend.

UPDATE: Again, need to enlarge it to really see it. Damn, need to start working smaller.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keith Richards Sketch

Wow, really terrible interview on NPR: Terry Gross and Keith Richards.

I'd watch that buddy cop movie.

As long as Terry Gross is the one who's a loose cannon and out on the edge.

UPDATE: Hmmm... it seems that my Keith sketch is too detailed for thumbnail mode. It's all fuzzy. Oh well..
I suggest you click through and enlarge it, gives a much better picture.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Halloween! It's Like Christmas for Morbid People!

Oh goody, I just can't wait!

So no Dr. Doom mask right now, fiduciary responsibilities to the Sam of tomorrow (who might want a sandwich) preclude me from spending that paper mâché money. So in place is a little doodle: Slutty Zombie. I think we're now running out of professions and objects to 'slutify' for Halloween, so I think the discerning Halloween costume buyer is going to start seeing a lot of companies branching to the non-traditional (Zombies, Deceptacons, etc.).

Can't wait to see 'Slutty Abstract Concepts of Beauty and Truth'.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This Has Been a Lackluster Week Creatively

Blerggggg. Damnit. It's been a crazy week (and a half). So, no new content produced in that time, nor thoughts of note. Nor any human interaction really.


The AV Club has a write up of one of the greatest action comedies of all time: Kung Fu Hustle. Read it.

Tomorrow or Sunday I'm going to show you how to build a Dr. Doom mask for Holloween using only unicorn tears and household spices.

Also papier mâché.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Zack Snyder: Not Done Fucking Up Comics

Zack Snyder, the visionary director who ruined Watchmen and made 2,500 year old history into good ol' American patriotism with 300 is now helming the newest Superman movie, set to come out holidays 2012! Hooray!

I'm 100% behind this, and in fact thought I could help Zack out with some possible tag lines for the movie, see below (It helps to imagine them read in as gruff a baritone as possible).

Faster than a speeding bullet. Then really slow. Then fast again.

Because there weren't tits in the Bryan Singer version.

Ever wonder what Lex Luthor's kidneys would look like? This shit's gonna be violent.

Red and Blue. Coming 2012: Sepia and Black.

The Man of Steel. Not in a gay way. Ok, it's gay.

Truth, Justice, and the American Way, as interpreted by a violent, hyperactive 15 year old.

Zack Snyder's Superman: People are actually going to pay to see this.

Holidays 2012: It could be worse, at least Frank Miller's not doing it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Luc Tuymans's: A Funny Sound To Make

The MCA currently showing a body of Luc Tuyman's work entitled: Luc Tuymans. So, uh, pretty basic title there.
You can read Ben Stoler's excellent Chicagoist review here, but first you should read this, because Chicagoist already has plenty of readers.

The first thing is that this show is striking. Just... wow. I would hesitate to say that a lot of exhibitions I've seen at MCA are... less than stellar in their focus, but... well, there it is. This, however, is smashingly assembled, quietly powerful with almost no fat or filler (incidentally, the show was co-organized by the San Fransisco Museum for Modern Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts). It's amazing how commanding the work is, considering how muted. My first reaction was that I was reading Moby Dick in size 2 type. If you've ever wondered what the missing link is between the dynamism of Gerhard Richter and the blank-faced bankruptness of Alex Katz and Elizabeth Peyton, here you are.

The show is a perfect, compact introduction to both his body of work and his method. After gallery after gallery of subtle, riveting work we're granted a look into his material inspirations: photographs, magazines, film and film stills, postcards, recognizable personalities and iconography. Too often ephemera like this feels like a put-on, an invitation to get a little closer to the "cool artist" persona; "Oh neat, polaroids of beautiful people in studios". Here it offers an amazing insight into the exact way Tuymans absorbs media. There's little collage, little corection or sketches, just images you can see distorted in his corpus. The recontextualizing he does in the previous rooms is mapped here out for the viewer, and the work we've just studied comes to life again behind us, creeping with renewed menace.

It would be wrong of course to discuss the show without making a note of the actual paint. It's infrequent that the MCA has work as "traditional" as this, gallery after gallery of oil on canvas, actually though the painting itself is a pretty radical departure from oil tradition. Thin, matte, and dry, with little reworking or correction, the paint here is about as far from the effects oil conventionally strives for as one can imagine. A debt to Richter (and, I think, to Balthus) aside, it's difficult to think of a precursor to the style and confidence of these paintings. The virtuosity of the painting is only excelled by how bare bones it is.

One of the most interesting pieces featured is, suprisingly, a short loop of film by Tuymans, mostly just half hidden faces, which reveals how specific and all encompassing his vision is. That he's managed to transform film into the tonal aesthetic of his paintings is a small miracle, it looks like a silver nitrate print or photoetching in motion, and illustrates how practiced is the ambiguity of the rest of his work.

Of course, inseparable from his working method is the content of his paintings. Holocaust imagery, toppled African states, privilege, scattered religious imagery, these could be the concerns of any European artist coming to grips with any European country's role in the 20th century. But in Tuyman's hands there's little judgement, little condemnation, simply bloodless reflection. I don't mean this disparagingly, he doesn't condone the colonialism, racism, and violence he's reflecting on, simply that the tone of the work is so sparing as to almost leave judgement up to the viewer. A crop here, a face in shadow there, his denunciations are, like the paintings themselves, faint but effective. Among the most shocking is a small painting of Himmler, a dark silhouette against a wall and without a face. Here Tuymans needs to do no more than set the possibility of a mood; the viewer's knowledge of one of the last century's great monsters provides the unease.

The exhibition runs through January 9th of next year.

MCA's exhibition page here.

Tuymans has a weird site, better off using Saatchi's page/bio if you're interested.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jack Levine

Certain artists will never have a widespread public appeal. Their work is too specific, focused, obscure, referential, or just too fucking ugly to ever expose them to a wider audience. Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons produce objects and art that speak to us about celebrity, excess, exposure, and wealth, and are famous, excessively exposed, and impossibly wealthy for it. They go beyond the manufacture of art about pop culture, they live it. Even Koons's interview persona, all creepy and dead-eyed is, I maintain, an intentional homage to Paris Hilton.

There are some artists though who simply due to management, or luck, or the nature of their work can never expect their reputations known outside of art circles. Lawrence Weiner will never be Bruce Nauman (mostly because of the name), Stanley Spencer will never be Lucien Freud, etc. Jack Levine is one of these artists. He is, at 95 years old, destined to be remembered as a painter's painter.

One of the mid-century American Social Realists, Levine has spent a career lampooning power and money (the people who have them, not, like...the concepts) in pretty brutal terms. The strange thing about his obscurity, versus someone like Koons, is that Levine's message seems so appropriate to today's audience. Koons creates work that we interact with the same way we interact with MTV Cribs or the Jersey Shore; it's designed to be envied, derided, laughed at, to offend or excite, but to do it out of reach. This is work made by, purchased, and displayed by the implausibly wealthy, as we sit on couches and critique, imagining we have a role in the process. Levine, meanwhile, deals in an explicitly middle class outlook, less glitzy, more clever, angry, and translatable than a lot of the gentle intellectual abstraction you can see today.

Jack Levine was born January 3rd 1915 in Boston, to a tight-knit lower middle class Jewish family in the South End. From a young age he displayed an affinity for drawing and, at fifteen, he and Hyman Bloom began an apprenticeship of sorts with Harold K. Zimmerman, who was then teaching at the West End Settlement House. In the early 1930's the two fell under the sway of Denman Ross, who was then the force behind Harvard University's art department. Both later credited Zimmerman's instruction in drawing and Ross's very particular color theories (full Google book here), although Levine said neither ever adopted them fully.

Denman Ross left, and Hyman Bloom, right

A stipend from Ross had allowed Levine to concentrate on his studies. After Ross suspended it Levine found himself without a job or income at the height of the Great Depression. After working for the Works Progress Association on and off for four years he was found ineligible for further work there and enlisted in the army in 1942. His poor childhood, years of unemployment and underemployment, and his time in the stifling atmosphere of the army all marked in him a dislike of economic and authoritarian hypocrisy. After his discharge in 1945 he embarked on four decades of artistic production and biting social commentary.

Welcome Home
(above), which he painted after leaving the army, caused a furor when it was shipped to Moscow a few years later as part of a traveling exhibition.
Eisenhower, when asked by a reporter about it answered "[It] looks like a lampoon more than art, as far as I’m concerned."

Seen in the context of the artists/editorialists who proceeded him it becomes clear that Levine's hand is tied to his content. There's certainly a shared aesthetic to the body of work on the line between Social Realism and Expressionism. You see a shared subjective eye in Goya, Daumier, Lautrec, Philip Evergood, George Bellows, Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, Ben Shahn, Ivan Albright, and others. The energies that other movements have invested in harmony, balance, or color these artists have turned towards describing dissonance, violence, hate, and fear. Using a visual medium -rather than a spoken or written one- to describe something or someone you hate is a visceral experience, and these artists have taken full advantage of it. Levine's paintings sometimes seem as if even the paint abhors describing its subjects. Strangely, he rejected the Wiemar Expressionism which his work is often compared with. For him the distortions were too much; he felt the Germans sacrificed a level of objectivity he seemed to regard his own work with.

Above:Ivan Albright, left, and Leon Golub, right. Below: Levine.

Of course, to describe Levine's work as being as fatalistic as Albright's would be a mistake. Levine, like Hyman Bloom, had a weakness for retelling Biblical stories. Especially after his father's death (in '39) there is a streak of reverence in his work. Jewish patriarchs, bible stories, virginal characters are all safe from Levine's tendencies as a satirist. Even the bodies in these works are different, blocky and clumsy, like children's drawings. The jowliness, the puffy fat contrasted with spindly thin features, the empty, drawn smiles of his other work disappears in these, replaced with a broadness, a sort of Semitic rough-hewn beauty. In his patriarchs we see confident, reserved men of learning, in his biblical figures we see farmers. But although well painted, and a shock to what devotional art can look like, these works are missing the edge that sets his "observed" pieces apart (although he can come close, see below). It's the decadent urban, not the reserved pastoral that Levine is rightly (relatively) famous for.

In all Levine is one of the talented American draftsmen of the last century. The movement towards abstraction paused just long enough (after the start of the Great Depression and up until the early 1950's) to allow him and other socially conscious painters like him to flourish. However, the rapid change in American art during the later half of the twentieth century was not amenable to figuration, and not to Levine. Like many other artists and many traditional techniques he was lost in the shuffle.

However, with the (comparative) re acceptance of figuration, the greatest economic recession in a century and the wealth disparity in the country growing further and further it seems to me that Levine is due for a comeback. Looking at his work now it occurs to me how little has changed in terms of wealth distribution in the country since it was painted. I'm no fan of populism (mostly because it's so often misdirected, I mean, come on guys, Jews are not at fault for this stuff) but these days anger at the richest 1% of Americans strikes me as healthy. Levine's work (at least one example) can be found in museums in most American cities, and because so many of us are unemployed now there's plenty of time to look at them. We don't have a new WPA yet, but it's never too early to start get organized and get outraged.

all images are Levine's unless otherwise noted

Monday, September 27, 2010

GIMP Trouble

Ok, spent all day wrestling with GIMP (the linux-based photoshop equivalent, not the guy locked in my basement) before acknowledging that the problem is that my computer is so old it runs my graphics front end through an abacus. So, no scans of Jack Levine stuff, that comes tomorrow.

This is amazing though: the University of Nottingham has set up a really cool site called Sixty Symbols to help stoopid people to understand physics, which is like the thinking man's chemistry.
The videos aren't really lessons, they're more super-casual introductions the physical concepts through the pertinent notations.

Also, after you watch them you want people to think you're smart so you say things like 'pertinent' and 'notations'.

Here's the link to their site and one of the videos, which investigates the witchcraft powered Jabulani ball.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Google Birthday/Immortality Cake

Wayne Thiebaud wishes Google a happy birthday today! They're 12 and one of the largest online forces in the world! He's 89! And alive!

Being alive at that age should be celebrated even if you're not one of the greatest of the Bay Area artists. That is a ridiculous number for a painter to live to. Galapagos Tortoises maybe, but they don't work around turpentine, now do they?

Google should be running a special 'Holy Shit Wayne Thiebaud isn't Dead' graphic, starting now and running until Thiebaud dies at the ripe old age of a bazillion.

Ok, I should just admit that all I want to do is look at Thiebaud's paintings.

In other news: the painter Jack Levine is 95 and still kicking.

More on that tomorrow, he's a cool guy and not enough people know him. Should write that shit up straightaway, but verytired.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Swimming To Hogwarts: A Magical Suicide Note

Sometimes in a game of Quidditch it comes time to catch the snitch, time to end the game, even if your team is more than 150 points behind. To my friends and family, I'm so sorry. Merlin's beard I'm sorry.
It's not one thing that has brought me to this decision. It's a lot of things really. The growing darkness in the wizarding world, losing all my gold in that dragon's-blood ponzi scheme, being sorted into Hufflepuff; these are all a part of what has driven me here.
As a side-note, the teachers should really be doing something about the suicide rate among Hufflepuffs, as it has now reached nearly 62% in my year alone. These are very sad children. What do you expect? I mean, Gryffindors are all perfect, they're all brave and good, like, seriously all of them. How is that possible? You would think at least a few must be jerks or secret perverts or something, but nooo, they're all leaders and all caring and all down to earth, it makes me sick.
And Slytherin? Why do we even have those kids here? My best friend's parents were tortured to death by Death Eaters and now he has to have chemistry class with their kids? That's fucked-up. But at least they get to do something, to be involved in some way, you know? And Ravenclaw, at least they're intelligent. They have an attribute. You know what the Sorting Hat said to me my freshman year? He said, "Fuck it. Hufflepuff'll do." That's all. That's all he said.
Look, I'm not trying to blame the school for all my problems, I don't want my parents suing over me when I'm gone or anything. It's just, life here, it's..ugh. It's terrible.
Like, for instance, every year something happens that makes Harry Potter look evil or like a jerk or something, and like everybody in the school I hate him, and towards the end of every year it turns out he was just trying to help his friends or protect the school or something. It makes me feel like such a dick. And I do it every year! What the hell is wrong with me?
And you know what? Screw Harry Potter. No-one should fix all of the school's problems, but every year without fail he does something heroic. I...I just, ugh, here I am feeling so sorry for myself, I just want to do something. I want to be friends with the cool kids. I hate the Hufflepuff kids I hang around with, stupid mouth-breathers and semi-illiterates. We all talk about brooms and Quidditch and who we would do. That's it. I'm so sick of it.
And nobody ever talks about this stuff, it's like no-one has a life outside of their classes and whatever is in the Daily Prophet that morning, especially if it pertains to some story that's relevant to the school that year.
Is life after school going to keep being like this? Are women in ten years going to be laughing at me when I mention my Alma Mater is Hufflepuff?
Because they're laughing now.
Merlin's beard, even Hermoine Granger dates, and she's bossy, controlling and has a crazy superiority complex. Why can't I find anyone?
And I...I've started to have....weird feelings for some of the house Elves. I've been around at night when they clean the common rooms, and I've made excuses to get...close to them. None of them have objected or told me to back off or anything, but I mean, they never really object to anything.
They're really slaves when you think about it.
Oh God, I'm sick.
I'm thinking about fucking slaves.

I can't go on. Every day I think about disapparating and just never apparating again. I don't want anyone to be sad about my going, and I'm trying to not come back as a ghost. I can't imagine facing any of you now that you've read this.
Oh God I hope I don't come back as a ghost.
Goodbye. I'm going now. I'm heading down to the lake with some stones in my robes.

With my luck some asshole probably slipped gillyweed in my cereal this morning.

-Roger Saddensworth

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Must....Post....Peers All...Accomplishing...Something In...Life

Ok, well... gonna have to get some stuff up tonight. It's been about a week since the last post, which honestly feels much longer than it is. I'm just always worried after an absence like that that I won't make the jump back to steady posting.
I've been working, a portrait of the president for a theater in Chicago, a comic idea I'm fleshing out, a little short story I'm illustrating, etc. And house painting.
Guess which of the above pays.

While roughing out a story this sort of slipped in, god I love prismas

So the plan is to have some pages at the end of the week, and some writing tomorrow or the next day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

For Your Consideration

So I recently rediscovered the National Lampoon Radio Hour. If you are a fan of hilarity this is fairly essential listening, up there with Beyond the Fringe and Woody Allen's lone album as a standup comic: Standup Comic.

National Lampoon Radio Hour is every funny person working from the early 70's through the mid 80's, all before they were famous and/or dead. Belushi, Radner, Chevy Chase (back then Chevy Chase, not current Chevy Chase), two Murrays, Harold Ramis, Harry Shearer, Richard Belzer, and Michael O'Donoghue, among others. I remember listening to the program as a youngling (from CDs, I'm not old enough to have heard broadcast) and recognizing all of these guys from SNL and other projects. What I didn't realize though is that the cast also included Christopher Guest, who in addition to doing voices also did all of the spot on musical parody interludes. It's easy not to recognize him, and a few people I've talked to didn't. The impressions are so good you assume that it's actually James Taylor, Dylan, or a quartet of whalers from the Shetland Isles.

After working with this group he moved on to theater and assorted projects for a while before moving to SNL for a year during the '84-'85 season, where he did some crazy weird work with Harry Shearer, Billy Crystal, and Martin Short. It says a lot that their sketches are the only good work done during six years of Lorne Michaels's absence.Probably the best of these is Men's Synchronized Swimming, which has all of them.

Apparently the sport is now on the docket for the London 2012 Games

After that it was a few more years of slogging through crap (Princess Bride is also in there, so not too bad), until 1996 and Waiting for Guffman, after which he made the 'mockumentary' format redundant for everyone else.

A lot of people talk about how the films he's made since have affected the ever more popular look-at-me-I'm-just-talking-into-a-camera-we-don't-need-to-hire-a-cinematographer-style movies and television, which I think is a little ridiculous. What's still the most striking when you watch any of Guest's movies isn't the format, it's how much his repertory players -himself especially- disappear into the people they're playing. The Office, Cloverfield, etc. all play out with a wink and a nod to the camera, in the case of the American Office this is done literally, not to mention infuriatingly. Guest's movies could be mistaken for reality TV; which is to say that the people in them are so involved with living their ridiculous lives they don't have time to acknowledge the camera outside of talking head interviews.

This is sort of what he's been doing for forty years, it's the same reason I never recognized his voice on Nat. Lampoon as a kid. He's so dedicated to he character he's playing that there's never really a Christopher Guest on the screen to latch onto.

Also, yes, I have been watching all of his movies and mainlining acid recently, why do you ask?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fuck Dune

Last night I watched Dune. The 1984 David Lynch one. Actually, watched might not be the right term, this is more a movie that inflicts itself on you.

It's unbelievable what a trainwreck it is. Nathan Rabin has a great writup over at The AV Club which is the perfect analysis of this film's fuck-ups. I did, however, want to add one thought. This movie clearly got away from everyone involved. Lynch isn't always the best straight-narrative film-maker (I can't really picture what about Eraserhead or The Elephant Man would convince people he should make this movie) but he's got a great flair for atmosphere and visuals; which makes the movie's lack of both especially depressing. There are a few striking images, the 80's washed-out look of Fremen standing semi-circle in the desert or the cutaways to Paul's unborn sister in the womb come to mind, but not too much more. Also, this is the only movie I've ever seen with clumsily handled exposition in literally every line. But my bigger complaint is actually about the actors.
This movie has an all-star cast, and by that I don't mean Shia LaBeuof, Megan Fox, Guy-from-James-Caan-Vegas-show, and both John Turturro and Jon Voight needing boat-payment-money, I mean a real all-star cast. It's jam-packed full of awesome character actors who are all the best parts of other movies. The problem is none of them seem to realize what the movie they're in is going to look like. For some this is a fun scream-fest chance to get really nuts: Sian Phillips, Brad Dourif, Sting, Kenneth McMillan, and Jack Nance fall into this category. Others, Jurgen Prochnow, Kyle MacLachlan, Jose Ferrer and Francesca Annis spend the entire movie looking over-serious and whispering very quietly. It's as if Lynch treated the actors like they were all making different movies, and for these five it was some kind of silent pictures-era Lifetime movie. Others are just totally lost looking or their talent is wasted. It's kind of surprising it's not a film written, directed, produced by, and entirely starring Alan Smithee's.

Fuck Dune.

I'm gonna give the 2000 TV movie a try next week.

Still....Fuck Dune.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

That Is How White People Talk!

Great. Just wonderful. Horrible, horrible new online aggregation may suggest that we're all just basically stereotypes conforming to standup routines. Shit. Read the full post on Gizmodo here.

I just hope this leads towards the invention of some cutting edge new ethnic profiles...

Not Now Murray

Wow, not posting things really sneaks up on you. So, at the moment, considering a few things. The Neo-Futurists are adding our current president to their totally comprehensive wall of presidents, and holding a competition to select the winner. So.... think I'm entering that. Also, may be at Chicago Renegade Craft Fair the 11th and 12th, despite not having any crafts to sell. I think large scale paintings probably stand out. Well maybe, maybe not.

Also, that's supposed to be Bill Murray, in all his forms, National Lampoon through current. I seem to be seeing him in everything I watch for some reason.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Watching Ghostbusters marathon. Which means I'm not making art. Instead I'm being struck by how little chemistry Murray and Ripley have in this movie. How many young men of my generation have had their capacity for dating damaged by imagining women are charmed by acting like Venkman?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Clever Title. And Post-Its

Well, it's another post for which I have nothing. I have nothing to put here. There is not any content which occurs to mind which would comfortably occupy this space. Well, as I've managed three sentences out of the complete absence of thought, and one commenting on those three, it seems I've finally become a real blogger.

This week I've been trying to think of projects (none have occurred to me), and I'm feeling terrifically unimaginative. So I'm just gonna post some celebrities I've doodled on post-its.

One of these is Anne Hathaway and one is Cee Lo Green. See if you can guess correctly!

Oh, and apply to this, Mcsweeny's needs some crowd-sourced (read cheaper than freelance) writing done, and they aren't checking felony records as an entry prerequisite. So get to it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today, as the first in blog thingy's new series Awesome Sequels to Boring Old Person Movies, we'll feature the sequel to Martin Scorsese's epic 1995 crime drama "Casino", 1997's "Casino 2: Return to Lake Whanatakapee"! Everyone on the team is really excited about this new feature.

From IMDB:

Nick Santoro (Joe Pesci) and Ace Rothstein (played this time by Joey Travolta) are back! This time the two friends team up again after returning to their old summercamp as counselors, only to find that Camp Bumberpants is in trouble! The real-estate developer father (Eric Roberts) of one of the blue bloods from the rich kids camp across the lake wants to turn Bumberpants into a mall parking lot! The gang has to team up with nerds, dweebs, and the other 'uncool kids' and win the End of Summer Inter-Camp Olympics in order to save Bumberpants and make Lake Whanatakapee safe for all the outsider kids! Will they make it in time? And will they learn the secret of the old hermit in the woods (Eric Estrada) (who just might be Booger from the original Casino all grown up)?

Sorry about the image, it's the biggest version of the poster I could find online.

Wow, Hot and Telling at the Same Time

Check out Wonkette's awesome Glenn Beck Rally/Self-Hating-Gay-Man-Convention expose here.

Holy shit, this makes me want to have hot shame-filled hypocritical sexing, right now.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Playtime at Rotofugi

Whew. Tonight I was at a party for the opening not only of Chicago gallery/toy store/awesomeness repository Rotofugi's new location, but also the current show there: Playboy Redux. The show, which is in honor of Playboy's 50th anniversary, was orchestrated by Playboy Enterprises and the Warhol Museum, where it showed before coming to Chicago.

From Rotofugi's site:

Known at that time for her satin bunny suit, cotton tail and rabbit ears, the Playboy Bunny served cocktails and glamour in equal doses. Many luminaries once worked as Bunnies, including Deborah Harry, Gloria Steinem and Lauren Hutton. For Playboy Redux: Contemporary Artists Interpret the Iconic Playboy Bunny, artists were asked to create a new look for the Bunny, a veritable makeover to create the Bunny of the future.

So, first things first. Rotofugi's new location is amazing. It looks like social deviant art monkeys took over a nice Apple store and had their way with it. The size alone, compared to the cramped one-bedroom apartment style store they previously occupied on Chicago and Damen, blows you away. Add to that the fact that their gallery space is now integrated into the store environment and it makes for a perfect statement on the fusion of old-fashioned fine art, like painting and photography, and fashioned fine art, like graphic work, illustration, and DIY designable maquettes.

Now then, the show. It's pretty apparent that Playboy Enterprises had a hand in it, as this is not a collection of work you'd expect to see in an independent exhibition. The art doesn't really ask anything about the mid-century Playboy mentality, it's just fond reminiscing in the service of the Playboy look. This is the problem with a corporation/brand having a say in the curation of an art show about that brand's iconography and legacy, especially if those happen to be a controversial as Playboy's. I don't mean that the Playboy of today is controversial, it isn't. But the Playboy of the Playboy Clubs era--the period that inspired the show--that inheritance is probably still fair game for debate.

The press release quoted above notes that the list of bunny graduates include Gloria Steinem, which seems like somebody's little in-joke more than anything else. Steinem worked as a bunny in the New York club in 1963 as research for her article "I was a Playboy Bunny"... you can guess what she had to say about the experience. The Playboy Clubs were at best harmless and offensive, and more often misogynistic, patriarchal, and declassé. Obviously it's easy to forget about this, the casual disregard for women the clubs evidenced has been hopefully drowned by progress and is hard to recall, and artistically the colorful, retro, swingin' vibe that we associate with the time period helps to assuage what it's values really were. That's the real issue i take with the show's content, it's harmless fun jaunty work (most of it anyway), more pastiche of the period's aesthetics than content or commentary. It's a show that watches Mad Men and then says to you, "Wow, everybody back then really knew how to dress!"

There are exceptions. Some of the artists have taken the Playboy label and twisted it in unexpected ways, some of which reflect on Playboy and some on their own work. Rod Filbrandt's small goauche and ink drawing is so mindlessly energetic and positive that I can't help but think he's in on the joke. Isabel Samaras and Ain Cocke also deliver great pieces, neither of which ape the mid century Jetsons look, opting for the sort of paintings you could imagine Playboy purchasing for the offices, self aware cheesecake that looks more period but is also more self aware than most of the other works. Cocke's especially is an awesome gag that's made better by thinking only you and the painting are in on it. Brendan Fernandes's piece "Bunny Dearest" is probably the loneliest art in the exhibition. While everyone else indulges in pastel color and swirling pattern Fernandes's piece is all stark sparse black lines that are an incredibly refreshing break.

Tim Biskup has what is easily the most confrontational work in the show. While everyone else has chosen coquettish/sexy or graphic/grotesque, Biskup's is the only bunny that looks contemporary, self assured, and straight up pissed. This painting would be fine with leaving the club, locking the doors from the outside, and burning it down. Also, nestled in the back corner of the gallery is a Travis Lampe painting "Bump Mate" that quite simply represents what I think this show could have and should have been: titillating fun, and also gross and unsexy.

Lampe (left) and Biskup's (right) work

All in all it's worth seeing, if only for those few works and to remind yourself that art has a purpose. Allowing an opportunity to examine the meaning of a symbol like the Playboy Bunny to escape unscathed is a tremendous failing, and the show lacks a depth because of it. Still, Hef will have to kick it one of these days, smothered under a blanket of nubile (but disgusted) young flesh, and think of the show we'll have to look forward to then.

You can see all the work in the show here, but just nut up and see it in person.

The show runs through September 12th. Rotofugi is located at 2780 N Lincoln Avenue.