Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lazy Day

Well, when I mentioned that I was tempted to make this a lazy day, the missus very strongly suggested that I follow through on the impulse.

So no art today -- but I will give you my two favorite puns. Not in the world; out of the ones with which I came up. (Grammer is a harsh mistress.) For a long time in my early years I was a compulsive punster. This came to a stop in high school when a recitation of a Feghoot ending in, "A gritty pearl is Micheal, LL.D," got me stuffed into the trunk of an abandoned car. (I am not joking. We were Californians but we sure as shit were not mellow.)

I've come to regard puns as signifiers of a particular type of pathology. Talk to your schizo friends or read The Face That Must Die by Ramsey Campbell if you want to know what I mean.

I've also come to feel that puns are like farts. Your own aren't as bad as other people's. Still, from time to time a little amusement value is achieved.

Back in the seventies, my mom climbed into our flame-painted van and said, "I'll be back shortly."
I said, "So you'll just be gone for a couple of midgets?"

Back in the nineties my buddy Paul was fond of a local band called The Naked Barbies. When their lead singer and eminence grise split, they changed their name to The Vagabond Lovers. When Paul told me about that, I said, "That's not right. They should call themselves The Hobosexuals."

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Stupid Yet Oddly Pleasing Morning

Man, I miss weight training. Stupid back. I hope they perfect disc replacement surgery while I've still got some juice left in me...

It's been an odd morning...

Part The First:
Idiot Savant, Emphasis On The Idiot

So last week I head out the door to register for the lab for my printmaking class. (I have to do this because the school's current registration system has already fucked me up a couple of times -- it's a disaster.) I get two blocks and feel uneasy; I look in the catalog and double-check what time it starts.

It starts at two, not at one. So I go home and read for half an hour.

When I show up, there's a class in the room the lab is supposed to be in. I look at the catalog again; I should have been there at nine in the morning.

This is not typical of me. When it comes to this kind of stuff I'm usually pretty sharp. This is a concern. And when I find out from my counselor that it might be too late to register for the course.

So I head in today. And the lab is closed. I check the time in the catalog again.

It starts at six tonight.


Part The Second:
Black and white
shall unite
when everyone
digs Dolemite.

Mildly Irate Urban Youth: Fuck's up with that Dolemite shirt?
The Oaf: Man, I'm from Richmond. I grew up in Dolemite.

We both grin, dap, and then chat for a few moments.

Racial issues suck but with mutual good will we can get a little fun out of them every once in a while.

Part The Third:
Like Segovia, Only Twangy

In a rare gesture of solidarity I gave a busker a buck.

Busker: Thanks, man.
The Oaf: Hey, it's nice to hear someone playing in public who isn't just practicing their scales.
Busker: Cracks up. Hey, I'll be doing that later.

He was playing classical stuff, something baroque yet unfamiliar. Telemann? Purcell?

He was playing it on a banjo.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let's Hate!

Say it again! With feeling this time!

It is four-forty four and I've been up since one. The melatonin didn't work -- my head was too crowded to allow me to sleep. I've got a bitch of a day ahead of me. Had an ugly fight with the missus yesterday and while my points were right I was still wrong. I've been displaying dick behavior and I'm sick of me.

But you know what? It's time to put the pedal to the metal. Fuck it; I am a dick. The words 'fuck you and everything you stand for' are perpetually cradled on my lips. My feelings about humanity? If it swarms, exterminate. Telling me not to hate is like telling any given musical performer not to dress like a dildo. It's not the only thing they have going for them but where would they be without it?

Stand back, everyone! It's hating time!

I hate stupidity. I've known stupid people that I've been fond of but I've known hermit crabs and guppies I've been fond of in pretty much the same way. Fucking a stupid person is the lowest imaginable form of bestiality and should be punished by death.

I hate people who don't walk right. I know I've bitched about drivers and cyclists before -- well, I hate pedestrians too. I hate groups of people who block the entire sidewalk and don't even flinch as they force you into the gutter. I hate people who walk on the left side of the sidewalk. I hate people who walk against the light. I hate people who walk slowly. I hate people who are in my way!

I hate a lot of Obama's staffing decisions. I know he's doing this for reasons I am not privy to; still, the difference between intelligently working the political game so as to maximize personal effectiveness and whoring yourself out to the shits who put the country in the crapper is a thin one at times.

I hate seafood for the same reason I hate bebop -- my inability to take pleasure in it makes me feel defective.

That goes double for dancing and flirting.

I hate stars and celebrities and heroes. If your face has been in People or Us, why not die in horrible twisting agony? If you need help, just ask.

I hate our dog Roxxie. Her bark hurts and is incessant and my failure to love her the way she loves me fills me with guilt. Also, she's been known to shit in the bed.

I hate guys named Mark. What is it with them? Is it just me or is every goddamned Mark on the planet a trembling puckered asshole in bad need of a wipe? (I did know a Marc who was cool, though.)

I hate people who park across two spaces. What was that phrase I used earlier? Fuck you and everything you stand for -- that was it.

I hate rudeness and discourtesy of any kind. If it were punished by instant death -- maybe a forklift could be involved, maybe some cinder blocks -- the world would be a better place.

Speaking of instant death, I don't know what I hate more; the death penalty or the fact that I'm not allowed to execute at will.

I hate people I don't know. I keep trying to explain this to the missus -- warfare is the only acceptable form of communication with those who are not of the tribe. Any other interaction diminishes one's soul.

That 'we're fighting for your freedom of speech so shut up' line you get from the occasional military dude? I hate it.

I hate parents who feel that they are oh! special bunnies just because they've decided that the perfect pet is a poorly-trained bald chimp, and that this decision entitles them to control the behavior of others. Kids are frequently swell -- but we don't fucking need any more of them, do we? And it's not like we're taking proper care of the ones we've got.

Mothers who love babies so much that they have one after another of the goddamn things get an extra helping of hate with a side order of disgust.

And now that I remember that injudicious fucking is where crowds come from I hate parents even more. Tell you what -- when the world population drops under ten million we can renegotiate.

Of course this particular flavor of hate spills over onto purebred cats and dogs. The part where I said we've already got enough humans? Dogs and cats fit into that as well. When the shelters are empty and you just can't find a dog anywhere then I gues you can start breeding again. Until then, cut it out.

I hate religion. It's got the worst possible combination of characteristics -- it's booooooring and yet it induces people to kill. (And I fucking well regard Marxism as a religion so don't hand me any killer atheist bullshit -- Marxists buy into all kinds of Easter Bunny stuff like the withering away of the state. When you believe in magic, religion is the box in which you are placed. You dipshit.) Worst of all, I hate the smugly religious, the bumper sticker religious -- God said it, I believe it, That settles it. In case of Rapture this car will have no driver. (What a beautiful expression of the teachings of Christ.) Fucking drag those idiots out of their cars and put a fucking bullet in their fucking brains and let them enjoy the afterlife they so look forward to.

Even worse, I hate the fear and unhappiness religion generates in those I love. Ever see someone in tears because they think you've going to hell? There's no graceful way to handle that one.

I hate the smell of cooking liver. Of canned fish. Of cologne.

I hate cute girls. I hate all guys.

I really, really, really hate the kind of guys that cute girls like. The fact that I'm not allowed to change the shape of their faces in order to benefit my own standing is a constant source of bewilderment.

I hate sex. I hate living in this constant stew of frustrated desire. I hate the fact that the lure of breeding is such a motivating factor in my psychology -- that if I didn't feel the need to impress the ladies, particularly the missus, I could comfortably drink myself to death instead of trying in vain to be a halfway-decent human being.

Plus, as I said before, crowds are essentially a venereal disease.

Interestingly, I hate Paris Hilton even though she isn't a cute girl. Hey, if I don't break it up every once in a while I get bored. And it's not so much Paris Hilton I hate as much as the fact that I know who she is.

Any movie with Whoopie Goldberg in it. Robin Williams, too, unless he plays a psycho killer.

Of course I hate every person in congress and on the boards of directors of all major corporations. Let them grow like onions, with their heads in the ground. I mean, have you ever heard these people talk? Jesus!

I hate current standards of feminine beauty -- sinews and silicon do nothing for me. Movies would be a hell of a lot more entertaining if the person who told Christina Ricci to lose weight had been smothered by a housecat in his or her crib.

I hate Tom Bombadil.

I hate comic book continuity -- why can't you just pick up a fucking copy of the X-Men and read an X-Men story? Why do you need fucking maps that show you which order to read the thirty fucking comics that contain this month's episode of the latest over-arcing big event storyline? I gave up on mainstream comics for more than a decade after running across the Merry Marvel Mutant Massacre Map and realizing that I was reading snuff porn for twelve-year olds.

If you understood that, I would like to ask you not to read fucking comics while standing in front of the fucking shelves, thusly blocking the way of paying fucking customers like myself. I hate that.

On the other hand, don't fucking move me out of your way while I'm shopping. I'm gonna be moving on my own in a matter of seconds so fucking wait your fucking turn.

I hate crap that hangs down. Ceiling lamps, trees over sidewalks, that sharp metal edge at the top of the back door of the bus -- the world is not entirely populated by Smurfs and I am fucking sick of head wounds.

I hate not having enough curse words. English can be so limiting.

I hate bad prose, neighbor music, eating out and getting food I could have cooked better myself, the tiny hair that's been trapped in the corner of my mouth for the last month or so, art cars, piercings and tattoos, the words 'nigger' and 'cunt' (which latter, interestingly enough, comes from an attempt to describe people who drive Volvos), modifiers, people who oppose eating horses (when a species is simutaneously unpleasant, loved by girls, and tasty it belongs on my plate), unsustainable agricultural practices, the Fanta Girls, the very idea of clubbing, shag carpet, I said stupid already but it never hurts to be absolutely clear, most of my personality traits including hatefulness, not having access to an accurate skeletal diagram of Deinochierus, the kind of towns that you drive through and sense that there's nothing good to read anywhere, people who walk right at you and expect you to move, barking dogs at night, fucking cats likewise, the limits of human perception, unrequested hallucinations -- especially the one where I smell dogshit two to four hours before I have a dramatic episode, my growing caution in the use of butter and bacon fat, any attempt to control my behavior, not being able to conveniently fix the lives of those I love, having to be the one to do all the fucking mercy killing of animals, the passing of the Skeleteens sodas, being a creepy gross old guy, and being disappointed by the beloved canned meats of my childhood. (There is a word for this emotion in German.)

Mostly, though, I hate insomnia.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Win The Bet!

Oaf is preparing a strata; is holding salami and knife, standing over a cutting board, surrounded by ingredients, many of them heaped in a baking dish.

The Missus, after a brief passage of raptorial staring: Are you putting salami in that?

The Oaf: Why did you phrase that as a question?

... and so on.

Last Night Was Good For My Ego -- Excuse Me, I Meant 'Self-Esteem'

I can't believe I'm drawing. It's been too long... So the first step is to get a feeling for the proportions of the animal.

There we go, that's not so bad.

Now figure out the rough poses which will be refined in the next step -- doing a skeletal drawing. Ah, the old trace & fake...

Last night I had my Art Marketing class and it was my turn to introduce myself and my work. The format was for me to do present (in the ethological sense, I suppose) and then be critiqued based on my work and my ability to speak on it.

Well, at the end the class was into my shit and the teacher more-or-less said, "See? You ask him a question, he's got a well-thought-out articulate answer. That's what you should be aiming for by the end of the semester." I was on point.

It's a funny thing. For all my anti-social tendencies I'm quite comfortable in front of an audience. And as you may have noticed I can talk about my work for as long as anyone's willing to listen...

Anyway, after class I ran across a former teacher and told him about Swill, tried to talk him into submitting some fiction. We'll see -- but he seemed favorably impressed. And while we were talking another former teacher came by. She's one of the people reading my novel and as she passed she called out across the lobby about how much she was enjoying it.

Got to say, this all made me feel a hell of a lot better. Anxiety eased; I felt as though I'm good at what I do and I'm taking the right steps and so on and so forth. I'm starting to find a place in the world where I can feel strong.

This should trigger the old self-destructive tendencies. Five bucks says I fuck myself over by Sunday.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Crit List 5: Eat Me

Don't pull? Right. Try and stop me.


This totally justifies getting this one in hard cover. Impress your friends! Hours of amusement!

I love food writing. Not that much of a cookbook reader, unless the cookbook is somehow revelatory. But there's been this cookbook that's gnawing at me. I've had a peripheral awareness of Kenny Shopsin for a while now. I've read and reread Calvin Trillin's food books since... was it high school? I can't even remember...

Anyway, Shopsin is a lurking figure in a couple of Trillin's essays. When I ran across the documentary I Like Killing Flies I realized that Shopsin was that guy. So when I heard the inventor of the macaroni and cheese pancake had a cookbook out I wanted it. You know how it is -- it ain't the heat, it's the cupidity.

So when I ordered this semesters textbooks something snapped and I threw this into the mix. Shouldn't have spent the money...

... but I'm so glad I did. I love this book. Big chunks of it consist of Shopsin's thoughts and reminiscences so it isn't just a cookbook, it's a read. I suspect his co-author, Carolyn Carreno (apologies for the missing tilda -- it goes over the n) has something to do with the pleasing quality of the writing.

And here's the thing that makes it worth mentioning on this site. Among other things he talks about dealing with crazy, and he talks about how that relates to creativity. And his words ring true to me --

Cooking, for me, is a creative process, and I believe that people who are creative are creative for one of two reasons. Either they are going for truth and beauty, or they create as a way to dilute some of the venom produced by their subconscious minds.

He then follows this up with an explanation for my ability to do art indefinitely while being unable to write for more than four or five consecutive hours. It was an eye-opener and it wasn't the only one in the book. It was like he was in my head, man. In I Like Killing Flies Shopsin is referred to as a half-baked or crackpot philosopher. Well, I guess that's the grade of philosopher I find most useful.

Another swell aspect of this book was its design. I love the book as an object, as a form of both graphic and sculptural art. This one is rewarding on both those fronts. Nice details include things like the 'Don't Pull' tab on the cover, the use of a sleeve over the back cover so as to avoid printing the book with a bar code (the son of a bitch who made that particular graphic atrocity mandatory is going to die slowly at my hands) and to make blurbs, quotes, prices, etc. independent of the volume itself, and the pleasant, open, readable interior design.

When I got to the part where Shopsin's bragging on his offspring he mentioned that one of them was a graphic designer I looked at the indicia and sure enough, it was the work of Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford.

This is one of those books that gives you the pleasure of being in the company of a congenial mind. I know I'm going to be reading it again.

Monday, February 2, 2009

From The Valley Of Lost Projects: Princess Lucinda And The Missing Moon

I ran across these when I was looking for paintbrushes yesterday afternoon. (I swear I had a fistful of decent brushes but they're nowhere to be found. Wound up using a child's watercolor brush, then went to the art store.) I'd forgotten all about this one...

I've posted this image here before. It's the only finished piece I did for this project -- if any of the sketches below had been rendered, they would have been done either as pen-and-ink pieces or in this style.

Four or five years ago I suffered a fit of affection for my princessophiliac nieces and granddaughter and decided I was going to write them a fairy tale.

Unfortunately my tendency toward grisly imagery, convoluted prose, and class warfare (when I think of knights and princesses I picture myself in a stable with a pitchfork) wound up making the creative process a lot more difficult than I'd thought -- and I when I realized that my target audience would find this work intolerable I gave up on it.

I was also just starting to take my writing seriously and my kung fu was weak. The paragraphing in particular made this story a lot more difficult to read than it should have been.

Still, clumsy and amateurish as it it, when I was preparing it for posting I felt a little interest stirring. Maybe it was the Oz-noir abortion I was messing with a little while ago but now there's a temptation to go back and mess with it... I guess at some point I'm going to have to write a fantasy influenced by both fairy tales and my tendency toward the hardcore. "Once upon a motherfuckin' time..."

The start of the story is posted in the comments section if you're interested.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Progress Report

So here's my first assignment for my contemporary color class. First time I've used acrylics in about twenty years. Fun, yeah. But I'm awful at them...

The assignment was to go from white to black with the intermediate steps being tints or shades of particular colors of paint, forming something resembling a gray scale. I worked from left to right and the further right you go the better they are, which is something. I guess.

It's fascinating to see what a lousy job my scanner does on the colors, though. I wonder if the current models are any better?

Seems like it's been a while since I posted on my progress in my art and writing. Let's do a little catch-up, shall we?

The novel. Well, the wait to hear back from my readers has been driving me fuckin' nuts. (Short trip but scenic, as the man said.) I was walking around complaining about it -- "They just aren't gonna read it. I'm gonna wait and wait and they'll feel guiltier and guiltier and this sucks. I should just start revising."

Well, last week two of the three readers let me know that they were well into the manuscript and so far they like it. It does, in fact, read like a novel. The word 'excellent' has been used to modify the word 'writing.' So I'm starting to relax a little.

Rob-the-Swill-Editor and my old writing pal Allison Landa, two of the founding members of the Monday night writing group, have decided to start a new group and I'll be sitting in at least for the start -- depending on class schedules and music and so on I may drop out later but I'll be in at least for the start of it. It'll be on Thursday nights for now.

The new group might be enough to break my will and make me start premature revision on the novel...

I'm back in school as well. My intention was to sign up for digital photography and art marketing courses; unfortunately, I screwed up and had them both scheduled for the same day, which my back would not support.

So I'm taking art marketing, contemporary color, and digital printmaking, all with the same teacher -- Matthew Silverberg. I cut a deal with him on digital printmaking. I'm taking it as a pass/fail class and I'm going to be really flakey about my attendance, both for time reasons and in order to spare my back.

Art marketing is really exciting. It's going to be interesting to see how I can deal with the, uh, eclectic nature of my ouvre. I'll probably have to figure out two or three different identities to market -- the neo-surrealist, the paleo-artist, and the botanical illustrator. And of course I'll probably be spinning out in other directions as well, but I'll just have to take things two or three at a time.

We've got all but about ten pages of the next Swill filled up and it's looking like another strong issue.

And then there's this, which is gonna have me doing more paleo art.

Man. Between that, my marketing class, and the upcoming art show I need to write two or three different biographies. Time to start thinking up some good lies.

Oh, and there'll be something a little lighter than the midwinter pissing and moaning I've been doing tomorrow -- while searching for and failing to find brushes and a gray scale I ran across a stack of sketches. Get ready for another trip to the Valley of Forgotten Projects. This time it's kid friendly, believe it or not.