Archive for July, 2012


We used to have a regular customer at the gas station who was an artist. He moved to the other side of town and we didn’t see him for a while. Then today (or yesterday, it’s after 3:00 AM as I’m writing this) he came in and said that he had a bunch of supplies and wanted to see if I was interested. I told him I was broke, and then he said he meant he was giving them to me. Evidently his mom took some art classes and then stopped, and now he has all this stuff. So he brought it by and my coworker and I divided it up. I snagged a canvas, a huge drawing board, a watercolor pad, a ton of pencils, an eraser, and some Sharpies. Not bad for free.

Hopefully my car will be finished tomorrow (today?). I called off at work, and I’ll take the bus to go get my car. Hopefully it will be ready fairly early in the day so I can try to get some stuff accomplished. In the next two days I need to get my pills from Target, bring some stuff back to the library, do some grocery shopping, pick up my stuff from the frame shop, and do my laundry. Add to that working on next month’s newsletter for the art supply store, finishing up a commissioned piece, and finishing up a few more pieces for my show. I can’t really imagine doing all of that on Tuesday, so having my car at a decent time on Monday will be a huge help.

My roommate picked me up from work tonight and mentioned that she was going with a friend to see The Hunger Games and invited me to tag along. As someone who hasn’t read the books, I’m really not sure what to make of the movie. I’m still processing stuff, and I’m way too tired to write a full review, but a few random thoughts…

  • The movie gives almost no back story, and as a result a lot of things don’t make sense. I understand it’s based on a book, and it’s part of a trilogy, but I shouldn’t have to read the books and stick around for the second and third movie for things to come together. If the movie can’t stand on its own then we have some problems here.
  • There was almost no character development, and the non-essential characters were reduced to sketches and clichés. I understand this is mostly the result of cramming a novel into the time frame of a movie, but that reverts back to my first point.
  • While I think it succeeds as an action/fantasy story, it mostly fails as a dystopian scenario. There’s no consistency regarding how much disbelief one has to suspend for the story to work. Some things are very believable, whereas others are not at all. For a dystopian future world to be convincing, minute details need to work. The story as a whole works, but there were too many things that didn’t, which made it hard to go along with.
  • I totally don’t understand the style of dress and homes in District 12. I understand these people are poor, but they don’t dress poor. They dress like they’re from another era. It would make more sense to show them in simplistic versions of the dress of the day. Instead we have this world of gaudy costumes, and this pocket of poor people who dress like mountain folk circa the 1920’s. It’s as if the filmmakers were trying too hard to show that they filmed this in rural Appalachia, or to show that these people were poor, or whatever. But it ended up coming out of nowhere and seeming like a different universe. Without a detailed back story this makes no sense and comes off more as a not-so-sly nod to viewers in the mountains – “hey these are your people!”
  • There’s also no back story regarding the names. Why do some people have very odd names, while others are more normal? Again it’s all about consistency, and this story has very little, at least when it comes to finer details.
  • Possibly my biggest complaint – the camera work was HORRIBLE. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen worse work in a major motion picture. I get it when they’re in the woods, running and chasing and fighting. They want you to feel like you’re right there in the action. That doesn’t mean it’s effective, but I do get what they were going after. But in a scene that is a simple interior shot? Why do we need a shaky cam for that? And what’s with all of the out-of-focus scenes? It’s almost as if they were purposefully trying to hurt your eyes. This made it a very hard movie to watch without feeling seasick. With a huge budget and capable people behind the camera, I just can’t believe this was allowed to happen.
  • As for what I did like – the action. The sequences are very well done on all counts (except maybe the magical dogs – WTF is that all about???) and you end up genuinely caring about the main characters. I also really loved that the country is named Panem – Latin for bread.

So yeah, that’s basically what I felt. It was an enjoyable movie, but not one that was easy to watch, follow, understand, or accept. Based on conversations with my roommate and her friend and other fans of the books, I honestly don’t think a lot of these issues are addressed in the books. From what I’ve heard, they go into more detail, but not necessarily the details that would make things click for me. As a fan of dystopian literature, this seems like a paint-by-number attempt. I got the impression that the author and/or the filmmakers cobbled together a lot of elements of various dystopian novels, added in a tough female lead and a love triangle, and hinted at a bunch of other directions without actually going there. As entertainment it works, but when measured against other works in this same broad genre it just doesn’t hold up.

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I have this weekend off because the art supply store I work at closes during the Bele Chere street festival. Lately it’s been getting ridiculously hard to make my car stop, so I figured this would be the perfect time to get my brakes worked on. The other day I attempted to drive to work, only to find myself unable to stop, so I turned around, went home, and bummed a ride from my roommate. To be safe (and because my insurance company will reimburse me) I decided to have my car towed to the shop.

While they were looking at it I walked down the street to Kinkos and printed up some copies of a flyer I made for my show (which I’ll post later). When I got back to the shop they told me the master cylinder was shot. Since my car is twenty years old, no one keeps the part in stock, and they had to order it. It won’t be here until Monday. I’ll probably call out on Sunday because I don’t feel like bumming a ride, and I’m not too crazy about the guy I’ll be working with that day. Then I’ll take the bus on Monday, and on Tuesday take the bus to the shop and get my car.

There’s a chance that in addition to the master cylinder, the wheel cylinders in the rear are shot, but he can’t tell until he replaces the master. If the other cylinders are bad too that more than doubles the price, so I’m hoping not. I’m assuming since it’s not a big job (although it’s pretty expensive) that they can have it ready by the time they open on Tuesday. If not that’s going to be a particularly difficult day for me. I need to do laundry, bring some stuff back to the library, and pick up my stuff from The Frugal Framer. I seriously doubt I can bum rides for all of that.

I did manage to convince my roommate to take me to Wal-Mart, which pretty much undermines everything she stands for. She sat in her car rather than come in, and between about two week’s worth of food, framing/hanging supplies, some hygiene stuff like soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent (which always run out simultaneously, go figure) I raced up quite the bill. Between grocery shopping, my car, the stuff I got framed, rent, and bills my bank account has gone from over $800 to about $50 in the space of about a week. Fun times.

But yeah, so here’s the flyer I made. And I totally had to consult Google to figure out whether it was flyer or flier. True story.

 

 

Moonrise Kingdom reviewed

As promised, here are some of my thoughts on Moonrise Kingdom…..

Let my start by saying that I am a fan of all things Wes Anderson. I understand the criticisms that he gets, and in some instances they actually do have merit. And while I’ve enjoyed his last few movies, they’ve left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. I’ve been eagerly anticipating Moonrise Kingdom since the day they announced filming was completed. But I was a little worried that I would be disappointed. I’m happy to say the exact opposite was the case. While I’m still processing things, and repeated viewings will ultimately confirm or deny this, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that this might just be Anderson’s crowning achievement. Almost everything in  the movie worked, and when it worked, it really worked. It felt like the most complete, most rewarding, most viewable movie he’s done since The Royal Tenenbaums.

The story is pretty simple. It’s 1965 on a remote island off the coast of Maine. An awkward, nerdy “Khaki scout” forms a friendship with a “troubled” young girl. The two plan to run away together and retrace the historic trail along the coast of their island. When they’re found to be missing, all hell breaks loose in this sleepy little community. The two are separated, and child services gets involved, before they are eventually reunited during the storm of the century. It’s your clichéd story of forbidden teenage love amongst misunderstood outsiders who, because of their isolation, have somehow been sheltered from the changing world around them. In essence, it’s all of the things that Wes Anderson critics hate about his movies. While this movie might not sway the harshest of the critics, it’s just way too likable to not win over at least a few.

The strength of the movie is without a doubt its two young leads. Sam’s awkwardness is extremely endearing – you spend the entire movie rooting for him to get the girl who is way out of his league. Suzy has a certain slyness to her – she might be the 1960’s equivalent of the misunderstood emo kid, but she’s brimming with wit and intelligence and a certain maturity beyond her years. The chemistry between the two seems genuine, and they make a perfectly adorable couple. They often speak like adults, but they have all of the whimsical qualities that come standard with the twelve-year-old worldview.

As for the rest of the cast, they all turn in fine performances, especially Edward Norton as the scout master, Bill Murray as Suzy’s helpless father, and Jason Schwartzman as cousin Ben. The refreshing this was that, even with so many big names on board, it never felt like they were competing for the spotlight (which, if we’re being totally honest, has been a problem in a few Wes Anderson movies). In fact, they seemed content to play their supporting roles like cameos and let the two kids be the focus of the movie – which is exactly why this movie succeeds. Every scene, every line, it all plays to the strengths of the movie. It’s cute, but never for the sake of being cute. The soundtrack never jumps in your face and shouts its hipster cred. The quirky cinematography never distracts from the action that is going on all around us. The bottom line remains the desire to tell a good story (with more laugh-out-loud moments than most Anderson movies) and to make the viewer connect with the main characters and relate to their longings. On these accounts, Moonrise Kingdom is an absolute triumph.

The only major drawback to the movie is the narrator, who only appears a few times, thankfully. His scenes do help to fast forward things a little and help us to understand the context that this story is taking place within, but for the most part they are completely pointless. It breaks up the natural flow of the movie, and by constantly breaking the fourth wall, makes this movie seem like it’s trying to be a bit more clever than it actually is. The narrator scenes are very tongue-in-cheek and  do provide some laughs, but at the expense of the whole. Getting rid of them altogether wouldn’t hurt the film one bit – even if we didn’t know the name of the storm and when it was going to hit, we could still easily understand the impact it had. Perhaps expanding them might work – rather than a gimmicky aside, they could be used as the primary storytelling device. But that would completely change the character of this movie, and there’s really no way to know if it would be a change for the better or not. But as it stands, these few scenes break things up enough to keep this movie from being perfect, but they don’t harm it so much that you can’t easily ignore them and focus on the good.

Basically what we have is a very good, sometimes amazing movie that proves to be so likable that even people who don’t like Anderson’s style will have to admit he’s really accomplished something here.  If you’re already a fan, you’ll flat-out love this movie. If you’re on the fence, it just might win you over. And if you’re sick of Wes Anderson and his methods, you should probably check out this movie before you write the final chapter.

 

How about a quick little summary of my past two days?

Last night I went out with Lauren. We met at Carmel’s and had martinis, then headed to the Battery Park Book Exchange and had some wine. She was charming, often very funny, and obviously rather intelligent. She has probably forgotten more about wine and literature than I will ever know. She gave me a list of books to look for, most of which I’ve never heard of, but that sound like something I would enjoy. Evidently she drinks a lot, and she seems like she’d be absolutely hilarious once she got enough alcohol in her. There were a few of the awkward silences one might expect, but for the most part things went well. We both had a good time and agreed to get together again soon. I wasn’t knocked off my feet or anything, but I like her, and hopefully the next time we go out things will go just as well.

Today I went around checking out some frame shops. The Frugal Framer gave me the best price, so I left four pieces with them, and they should be ready in a week. If I have enough money and enough time I have a few more pieces I might get framed, but this framing bill has pretty much dashed my vacation hopes. Oh well.

After the frame shop I did some grocery shopping and then laundry. My roommate’s car is in the shop so I let her tag along to the laundromat with me. When we got back I threw together a quick dinner and got ready to go out yet again.

Tonight I went out with Stacie. We met up at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where she had an iced coffee and we chatted a bit before heading to the theater. Moonrise Kingdom was absolutely fabulous, but more on that later. After the movie we roamed around downtown looking for something to do. A friend had told her the Yacht Club was a terrible place, so she wanted to check it out. Turns out it’s a private club, and neither of us wanted to buy a membership. Everywhere else we went seemed to be having live music, and we both decided we’d rather go somewhere quiet so we could talk. We ended up just kinda walking around in circles until we landed at Wasabi right before closing. The sushi was pretty good and very reasonably priced, but I probably ate more than I should have, considering I wasn’t really hungry. We walked around a little bit and ran into my roommate and a friend of hers. Evidently her friend came and picked her up and they went out for coffee and were just sitting on a bench chatting. We talked to them for a little while and then decided to call it a night. Initially I wasn’t sure if this was a date per se, and maybe that lack of pressure allowed me to have a good time, who knows. But one way or another, I was really impressed with Stacie. She’s also very intelligent, with a good sense of humor, and an adorable Kentucky accent. She’s also pretty much gorgeous. She seemed to have had a good time as well, and we also decided to get together again soon.

The great thing about being single is that you can go out with several different girls and focus on having a good time. Eventually I’ll have to narrow my scope a bit, perhaps settle down. But at this point in time I don’t really know what I want. It’s good to know that I do in fact have some options, and I don’t have to sit at home alone every night. Believe it or not, I can go out with beautiful, intelligent women. So I guess I can’t really complain, can I? As Barney Stinson might say, I’m awesome. True story.

 

So it looks like this is how things are going down…

Tomorrow night I will be getting drinks with Lauren. She’s the one from the dating site who likes philosophy. Based on personal experience, alcohol plus philosophy yields very interesting results.

Tuesday night I will be going to see Moonrise Kingdom with Stacie. She’s the one who replied to my Craigslist ad looking for a roommate. She’s finally back in town and has recovered from her little vacation and epic Greyhound ride and is ready to get together.

I’ll be working Wednesday and Thursday, and then I’ll have Friday and Saturday off because the art supply store shuts down for Bele Chere due to lack of business. Last year on this weekend I drove the whole length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I was thinking about possible escapes for this year. Originally I had planned on going to Atlanta for the night and head back sometime the following day. A club there has a great double bill scheduled – Helmet and The Toadies – and there’s a Moroccan restaurant that supposed to be really good. But now with my show being moved up and a large framing bill looming in the not-so-distant future, I’m rethinking this whole “spend lots of money” idea. I haven’t made up my mind yet if I’ll still go, hopefully I’ll have figured something out soon.

And that’s pretty much my week as it stands right now. And just because I like you guys so much, have a picture. I bought a few sheets of translucent vellum from work and decided to play around. Somehow I wound up with a jellyfish. So yeah.

 

 

Something came up at The One Stop and they had to do a little calendar shuffling. As a result, my art exhibition got bumped up almost an entire month.

The new date of my show (now titled Friends and Allies for the Struggle, after a Manet quote) is Saturday, August 18, from 5:00-7:00 pm. The exhibit will remain on display until October 6.

I created an event on Facebook that has a brief little statement and more specifics. Go here to “join” the event. Or to decline it, see if I care.

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The new schedule gives me a somewhat longer block of time than before, and longer than any of the other people on the calendar, so I really can’t complain. I’m having to rush the framing a bit, and money is going to be a little tighter than I planned on for this month, but I should be able to have everything ready in time no problem.

When I get all the framing taken care of I’ll start on making some prints to sell on the cheap. And sometime soon I’ll try to come up with a poster design and some promotional materials to hand out and post all over town. I have a little bio questionnaire that Johanna from The One Stop sent me, I really need to stop procrastinating and fill it out. And as if I didn’t have enough already, I’m determined to finish my commission sometime in the coming week and start on a new series I’ve been daydreaming about. Full plates – I has them.

 

Another pic…

So here’s a piece I’ve been working on, off and on, for about two months…

 

 

 

I call it After Geography. Knowledgable readers might recognize that as the title Ringo told a reporter who asked what the next Beatles album would be called. The album of course was called Revolver, but Ringo’s joke title was a nice little dig at The Rolling Stones, who had just released Aftermath. The title really has nothing to do with this piece, I just thought it fit, for some reason.

So the piece itself has an interesting story to it. The canvas was a damaged one we got at the store. A part of the stretcher frame was deformed, and it left a weird little indentation on the canvas. One day I had the brilliant idea to cut around that indentation and make the wood in the stretcher part of the piece. Then I thought about putting something behind it, giving a multi-level effect. My coworker commented that the canvas would just sag down, so I decided to do something to make it keeps its shape. I ended up sewing the backing paper to the canvas using some waxed linen thread.

The painting itself revisits a lot of familiar themes in my artwork: bombs, landscapes, flames that look like a tattoo, and mixing India ink with other media. I used wood stain on the wood to give it a nicer color. The background was done with a paint roller, mixing mostly Payne’s grey with white and black to give a loose and cloudy feel. The trees are done in India ink and the bombs are newspaper with shadows done in pen. There’s a very subtle orange blob of colored pencil that doesn’t show up well in the photo. My intent was to make it look like a brain, but it kinda looks more like a cloud of some sort. The backing paper sat waiting until my family came to visit and brought a staple gun like I asked. The paper itself is a weird decorative paper we got from our sister store in Chapel Hill that closed down, and the flames are done in colored pencil. And then of course there’s the waxed linen connecting the backing paper to the canvas.

Talk about mixed media, eh?

But yeah, that’s about it for now. I just got some vellum and a new bottle of ink that I’ll play with tomorrow, and eventually I hope to do some big pieces with my roll of watercolor paper, as soon as I can get ahold of some gummed paper tape to stretch it with. The end.

 

Two For Tuesday

Here in the Eastern time zone it’s been Tuesday for about four hours. Which means I’ve stayed up entirely too late. But since I might be going out tomorrow and I won’t have much time for updating, here’s a nice little bonus post.

This is a painting I recently put the finishing touches on. I call it The Rise Of The Cargo Cults (Supernova II). The supernova series is going out of order just for the sake of being random, and this one has some nice touches like glow-in-the-dark paint. Fun times.

 

 

For the record, this is done in acrylic, gold leaf, graphite, and the aforementioned glow-in-the-dark paint. The dimensions are 18″ x 24″. The end.

 

This morning I got a text message and found myself in a situation that is more familiar to me than it should be. Surely my readers will remember the much-hyped Ms. Rainbow Toenails from a few weeks ago. The last time I got a text message from her was maybe the sixth, and since then I haven’t texted her. Then out of nowhere today I get a text from her fiance (whom she conveniently referred to as her boyfriend until the day she left town and presumably had a long car ride to think about things and feel guilty) saying something to the effect of “you better never text my fiance again you fuckin hear me!” I thought about replying, but instead just laughed it off.

This has happened before, several times in fact. I meet a girl and get somewhat involved with her, only to find out she has a boyfriend/fiance/husband/girlfriend/whatever. Then the significant other will flip out and threaten me. I find it kinda funny actually, because these winning specimens of the male species never once think to put any of the blame on their girls. It’s always my fault. Had I have replied to him, I would have told him how rather than get mad at someone he’s never met, perhaps he should have a talk with her about flirting with guys in the pool and giving them her number. She was the one who started playfully kicking me, and who didn’t resist my advances at all. She was the one who said she wanted to keep in touch and gave me her number. She was the one who started every text conversation we had, save for the last one when I asked her if she still wanted to talk or not. But homo smalldickus never thinks to accuse the girl, he always has to go after the guy so as to make his presence felt and feel like a tough guy.

I don’t like interfering and breaking up couples. It’s not something I go out of my way to do, and in the event it happens I feel pretty bad. But evidently these relationships aren’t so great and these guys aren’t so amazing if their girls are out flirting, giving out their number, and participating in various stages of physical and/or sexual activity. Why get mad at the guy when the problem might just be right in front of your nose? Fix your own issues, then feel free to get mad at me. Or don’t fix them, and get pissed off at the next guy she gives her number to, because it will most certainly happen again. And won’t you feel like such a big tough man then? Ha!

 

I just attempted to make some Facebook cards at Moo, but ultimately got nowhere. They’re running a promotion where the only thing you pay for is shipping, so I figured why not. They base your cards on your Facebook cover photos. But for some reason when you have your cover photos set to Facebook’s default of 851 x 315 pixels, it says it’s too big. They say to adjust the size, but it won’t let you shrink them any smaller. They say if you can’t adjust the size you might need to re-upload them, but they don’t give you that option on their site, so I’m assuming they mean on Facebook itself. But Facebook won’t let you just upload to your “cover photos” album, you have to change your cover photo to upload a new one. I have six cover photos, so basically the people who liked my page would see me changing my cover photo six times. Seems to me the whole process is kinda annoying. I sent an email to the Moo help desk asking if I can just skip the resizing and allow my images to bleed over. It’s just going to crop them anyway, and I won’t be losing anything significant, so why not? But I’m learning, when Facebook and/or business card websites are involved, nothing is easy.

In unrelated news…

My next door neighbor produces beats and backing tracks for rappers and pop/r&b singers who don’t play any instruments and don’t want to hire a backing band. Yesterday we were talking about collaborating on some stuff. He has a lot of beats that he wants guitar and other instruments over. He said he’d come by tonight, but never did. I’m sure eventually we’ll work on something. I’m always up for a jam, and he makes decent money doing what he’s doing, and I’m always up for making more money.

At some point in the next week I could have one, possibly two dates. I’ve been talking to Olivia about getting dinner sometime, but every time we set a day something comes up. Hopefully Monday, but who knows. I was also talking to a girl named Stacie last night. We met back when I was looking for a roommate. She wasn’t going to be moving until after I had hoped to find someone, so I crossed her off my list, but we decided we have enough in common to be friends. She doesn’t know anyone here yet, and we have similar tastes in music and movies. And she’s also ridiculously hot. Last night I asked her if she would like to go see Moonrise Kingdom with me, seeing as how most people I’ve asked haven’t been too interested. She said most definitely, but she’s going out of town until probably Thursday or Friday. So hopefully whenever she gets back we’ll decide on a time and go see it. Maybe tomorrow at the gas station I’ll see the cute waitress girl (who, incidentally wasn’t the person who texted me the other night) and get up the nerve to ask her out, and then I could potentially have a hat trick of a week. Who knows.

What I really need to do is stop being lazy. I need to call Nationwide and make a claim for my towing so I can get reimbursed. I need to work on some art. I need to clean my room. But right now I mostly just need to get to bed at a decent hour. Here goes nothing…..