Sunday, November 27, 2011

Smartphones and Love Aren't the Same Thing. Sorry, they just aren't.

How does that saying go?  "It's that time of year"..?

  I feel that I can mention Christmas because it is AFTER Thanksgiving now.  I have the personal rule that I don't even think about the fat guy in the red suit until after the turkey leftovers have been consumed.  One nervous breakdown- I mean holiday- at a time.

  You may be getting the impression, gentle reader, that I am not exactly stoked about the biggest retail holiday of the year.  Well, yes and no.

Yeah, I'll get there at 12 am if they're handing out gold bars and will be cleaning my house for a month.  This chick just gives me the willies.  And you never really recover from a bad case of the willies.

Don't worry.  I'm not going to get on yet another soapbox and start spouting anti-consumerism Christmas rhetoric that we've all heard for the last 50 years.  None of you need to hear more of that.  What I'm going to do is just spell out some of my own personal observations without getting bogged down in the obvious.  I'm actually a big fan of what Linus said in "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!", but I will site some specific examples and reasons for how I see the holiday.

"You know Linus, maybe showing this cartoon for 50 years hasn't done any good.  I'm going to throw a park bench through the front of Best Buy and finally get that game system. You'd better not get in my way, you thumb-sucking egghead."

First of all, let's be perfectly clear about something.  This whole "Black Friday" and gift-buying obsession is particular to THIS country ONLY.  I have friends and family members in a dozen countries, and none of them even come close to the level of mania we have for buying stuff for Christmas.  For most countries, it is either simply a religious holiday, or just a time to get together with family and maybe exchange a few small gifts- that's it.  I get the impression they look at our Black Friday nonsense with the same shock and disgust as we look at soccer riots in Europe.  Hey, soccer (or "football") is a fun game, but no reason to cause a riot and kill people!  The same goes for getting 75 bucks off a lousy TV. 

Yeah!  Kinda like starting fires on Devil's Night in Detroit!  Woohoo!

Okay, tell me you DON'T know someone with this attitude about their phone.

So what makes our country different from other countries that celebrate Christmas?  There is the obvious factor of wealth, and the large middle class.  Many other countries don't even have a "middle class".  But a less obvious factor (and perhaps simply a result of other factors) is the set of priorities we have here. Fifty, sixty years ago, Christmas was a whole different holiday.  The gifts were mainly for children- as it should be!  I mean, come on.  A holiday that is largely built around an overweight elf that flies through the sky on a sleigh pulled by wild animals is CLEARLY meant for children and not adults!!  At what point did every adult feel entitled to toys also?  When did the gifts overshadow everything else?  When did we turn into spoiled little kids, and start teaching our children that adults are just as childish as they are? 

Speaking of gifts- I have compliled a list and descriptions of the 5 types of gifts given at Christmas.  Tell me if you agree or not.

The Five Types of Xmas Gifts-

1) Obligatory gifts. Probably the most common, they are given out of a sense of obligation. Usually random sale items.

2) Extravagant/shiny gifts. Generally given to try to impress someone or possibly to provide the illusion that the giver actually cares about the receiver.

3) Practical gifts. These are sometimes given with some amount of thought, but usually are just given because there is only a cursory knowledge of the receiver.

4) Mandatory gifts. Gifts given because the receiver actually told the giver what he or she wants.

5) The heartfelt gift. These are selected/created with heart, thought, or even personal sacrifice for the one recieving it. Probably the most rare of the 5 types of gifts, and most often given by small children to those they truly love.

If you really think about it, I think you will be able to see which gifts fall into which category this year.  Look, I'm not trying to badmouth Christmas.  I actually have nothing against it!  I guess my issue is with this selfish nonsense that has built up around it.  Christmas has just been used as an excuse to spend too much, eat too much, drink too much and not expect any consequences.  After a while, this makes the holiday mean less and less....

Apparently Batman and I BOTH have issues.  Therefore I am turning the basement into the Batcave, and I will now being using a Bat pencil and Bat sketchbook, along with drinking my Bat Redbull.

This is the PERFECT gift!!  Don't steal my idea, dammit!

As far as gift-giving-- well, I'm all for it! There is something very special about a gift you receive that you know came from the heart.  And spending a lot of time and effort on choosing/making a gift for someone else is very satisfying- especially when you know it will be appreciated.  It would be an awful feeling to give someone a heartfelt gift-- and then have it treated the same way as you would a paperweight.  Maybe people are afraid of that happening.  Maybe that's a  problem with the holiday now; everyone is afraid to deal with the possibilty of hurt and disappointment, so we cover it up with all this TV-inspired superficial nonsense.  Do we really need to give more money to Sanyo or Apple just so we can have shiny, borderline useless devices like all of our friends do?   Damn, people. We can't fill the hole in our souls with consumer electronics!!

I feel your pain, kid.  I feel your pain.

 I don't know.  I'm just an artist and a blogger.  No one says you have to listen to me, and I don't claim to have all the answers.  All I'm saying is- please put some thought and heart into your gifts this year.  Don't just check things off of a list, and don't just spend 30 seconds deciding what a person will receive.  Think twice before buying ANOTHER dvd or video game or phone, okay?  I'm not saying to steal the person's diary to explore their soul, or to hand-craft a grandfather clock.  Just...make a little effort.  Put a little of yourself into it.  Please.

Now this dude seems excited about his present.  Good for you, creepy cape-wearin' dude.

Well, I could go on and on, but I'd better put away the keyboard and get ready for my dayjob tomorrow.  I'm sure you've had enough of my ravings for one evening.  But, I would like to thank you all for reading this.  I haven't been blogging lately, and this season does inspire me to blog more.  Just gotta make time for it.  Oh, I'm going to have more stuff on Etsy this week, including one very cool item-- PILLOWS!  This one is embroidered and fancy-schmancy and...well, you'll just have to keep tuning into this Bat-channel and Facebook to find out.

Alright, I'm done here.  I'm turning off the lights now- don't knock on my door and ask for candy.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Olfactory Manifestations and Other Paranormal Occurrences

People say that the sense of smell is probably the most primal, the most likely to bring back old memories, of our five senses.

The inside of your nose is kinda gross.  I'm just sayin'.

Yes, there may be 6 senses, not just 5.  I have the power to see goats.  Yes, goats.   oooohhhh...spooky...
"Do you see those goats, mister?  They're scary."  "No, I don't see them, little boy.  But I sure do feel like shooting Hans Gruber at Nakatomi Plaza.  You wouldn't have a 9 millimeter, would you?"

I remember once finding my old orange plastic candy bucket (shaped like a jack-o-lantern, with the black plastic strap for a handle) from decades ago, and then getting a whiff of the inside of it.  Memories of Halloween when I was 9 years old came flooding back to me.  Getting sick from candy over a friend's house, the thrill of wandering around in the dark, wearing long underwear underneath my costume because it was SO cold outside, and just the thrill of dressing up and getting free candy.  I remembered that old excitement and nervousness that I had, in anticipation of doing something REALLY special.  I remembered all this because of a cheap plastic candy bucket that probably cost $1.95 at Kmart way back when.  And I wouldn't throw it away for the world.

I hope they never stop making these things...

 Nostalgia is a funny thing.  People say you shouldn't live in the past, but they also say you can't forget the past, either.  I think those people are right about both.  So much of our tastes, our fears, our likes, our dislikes, even the way we dress and behave hinge on childhood memories and experiences- even if some of them are memories we'd rather forget.  I mean, most of us remember getting the flu at a young age, and ending up vomiting up our last meal--which ends up being the one food we refuse to eat as adults.  A certain cartoon still holds a fascination for us for no other reason than we thought it was the coolest thing (or weirdest thing) ever when we were eight.  Or avoiding wearing a certain color because our mom ALWAYS dressed us in that color for school. 
Remember the Herculoids?  Man, they were weird.

I haven't actually thrown up from Dos Equis, but I kinda wish I did.

  In my case (and in many other people's lives too, I'd imagine) it affects my parenting, my recreation, and even my work.  By work, I mean my artwork. Childhood images from books, cartoons and movies are consciously or unconsciously put into almost everything I make.  I guess it's nearly unavoidable.  Childhood memories tend to be the strongest, right?  Which kinda makes me wonder- when does childhood really end?  I don't mean, "when do we physically grow up and become adults".  When do we stop thinking and feeling like children?  In my case, I still have some thoughts and feelings of a child.  Is this good, or healthy, or "normal"?  I have no idea.  I guess it depends on which thoughts and feelings, and how we handle them.  But I tend to believe that I need some of that aspect of childhood to do what I do.  Obviously, it has to get pushed aside a little when I'm at my day job, or driving, or doing taxes- but even then, it's in the background like a barely audible tv in a house, 3 rooms away.  Sometimes closer.

Growing up is for suckers.  I choose to be a monkey.

Okay, enough of this nostalgic clap-trap.  Are you getting ready for Halloween?  YOU'D BETTER BE!! There's lots to do! Spiders and skeletons and ghosts- oh, my!  We still haven't nailed down a theme yet!!  I will give myself 3 more days, then we have to commit to a theme.  I hope the kids don't suggest things like "Speed Racer" or "cheese" as themes.

This cheese scares the poop out of me!  Have you been to those places??

Hey, have you seen this?  I was selling them at River Days when I had my little show a couple weeks back.  FLASKS!  Spooky flasks!  All the cool kids are buying them, and I'm sure you don't want to be left out....
When you drink out of these, you receive spooky magical powers.  Like the power to conceal beverages.
My Etsy stuff is changing almost weekly, as usual.
 And I'm working on a new series of paintings, and they are VERY cool.  Well, the concept is cool- I haven't actually painted them yet.  But the sketches are just about done, and I can start Friday or so!  Woohoo!  Hope you like them!  Maybe I will FB my progress....

I am so tired. But, at least I had Indian food tonight.  Now I need some orange sherbet or maybe a fruit pie.  Perhaps I should combine the two....hmmm.  Where's my blender, confound it!?

Goodnight, kids.  I've got a blender to hunt down, and a 1920's artsy spooky movie to watch.  Now go.  Shooo!!  Get out of my blog.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see...

Is it weird that the pumpkins we are growing are turning orange already?

Is this bad?  I have no idea.

Every year for the past 4 years or so, we have planted pumpkins in our little planting bed by the house. 
As you can see, just this ONE PLANT takes up a lot of room!  The other plant is almost as big.
Carlos made the copper plant markers for the kids.  You can see the scale of these leaves!! Yow.

This year my husband bought 2 pumpkin plants, one for each kid.  We have some copper plant labels that he made, too- just in case there is any argument about whose pumpkin plant is whose.  But this year he bought the super giganto mega freakish-sized pumpkins from Meijers.  He figured it might be worth the extra couple of bucks to get the big ones.

 I don't know about you, but the FIRST thing I will think of when the giant pumpkins are full grown, is how to hollow them out and make a boats out of them.  Yeah.  Or maybe make a doghouse out of it.

 It's the first week of September and only one plant is producing pumpkins.  And the pumpkins are over a foot across already, and orange!  Will they start to rot now, or will they get bigger? Should I destroy the plant in case it's evil?  We have no idea what we're doing.  But apparently the fertilizer worked. Well, on one plant, anyway.

One of the pumpkins actually did call me "Seymour".  I don't mind telling you that I'm scared.
Yes, we are hoping the Great Pumpkin will visit our pumpkin patch this year.  I have to admit, we have a very sincere pumpkin patch, if I do say so myself.  Man, those things take up a bunch of room!!  The vines go everywhere!   These mutant giganto ones have even bigger vines than last year. We had kind of a Japanese theme going on, but the pumpkins are an interesting contrast to that. Hmmmmm....maybe this year we can do a Japanese theme for Halloween..?  Japan has TONS of mythology, ghost lore, demons, and bizarre legends to draw from.  This might be a possibility.

Insert caption for the guy on the upper left...

She's a little creepy!  Yeah, "The Grudge" and "The Ring" were damned scary...

 I hope the Great Pumpkin gives money.
  We were thinking maybe a traditional ORIGINAL Halloween theme- meaning 3,000 years ago in Ireland Halloween.  Carlos is already buying turnips to carve.  Pumpkins are from the Americas, and Europeans didn't use them as Jack-o-Lanterns until fairly recently.  For centuries, it was turnips that were carved into lanterns.  They switched to pumpkins as they became available because of their ease of carving and pleasing color and shape.  Sure beats the hell out of a turnip for sheer coolness, too.  We will probably end up eating the turnips with the can of haggis we've had in the cupboard for 2 years...

Read up on the legend of Stingey Jack tricking the Devil, but being doomed to wander the earth with his lantern...

 We were also thinking an Edwardian or Victorian theme- but that has been done to death.  Maybe Day of the Dead?  Classic Universal films motif?  Strictly ghosts?  Insane asylum?  I have no idea what to do.  We have to decide on something quickly because we only have a few weekends to do it!  Carlos has assembled some parts for animatronics, but he can't start working on them without a theme.  Any other suggestions? 
Maybe this is our new theme.  Purple dinosaur overlords.  Kinda like Barney, but less humiliating.

Well, hopefully inspiration will come to us this weekend.  Did I tell you we took the family to a Renaissance Faire last weekend?  We go about every other year up to Bristol.  The kids like to see all the stuff there like the crossbow games, falconry, sword fights, and the food!  The day was really nice (74 degrees) which was perfect for walking around all day.  Check out what Carlos got for no particular reason-
Yes, he got a goatskin.  Maybe he is going to make a really creepy "dream catcher"...
Well, he is always getting weird things.  He wanted to get a badger pelt also, but it was a little too pricey.  Kinda glad he didn't get the badger.  He'd probably make it into a sock puppet or something.
He also got this iron bell from Hobby Lobby today at half price.  He spray painted it black and is looking for a place to hang it.  His plan is to put it in the planting bed with the pumpkins, I think.

Hey, have you checked out the new stuff we have on Etsy lately (now THAT was a seamless segue.  Pretty smooth, huh)?  Got more t-shirts for sale, and a couple new items in the works.  Here's a link, if you have the time and inclination to check it out-

I also have an art show next weekend.  Plainfield (the town where we currently reside) has their River Days next week, and the art show will be at noon on Saturday the 10th.  Lots of artists will be there, and I will have my tent full of art goodies, and maybe a few give-aways for you folks.  Just look for the crows....

I am SO tired.  I gotta work on 2 more paintings, and the other items we are going to be selling on Etsy.  Time for some caffeine, I think. Aahh, old friend.....I think I'm gonna shotgun one of the big cans.

I've had enough of blogging for one night.  And I don't feel like doing the rest of my work either!  To quote a Meatloaf song, "You can't run away forever, but there's nothing wrong with getting a good head start".

Nothing to see here, folks.  Move along.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Do you smell that? It's the stench of Halloween and my blog.

So why do we hate movie re-makes so much?

Wasn't this the same poster for about 30 other movies, including Footloose?
I hope I never see a cloud like that above MY house.  Although he does look happy.

  I'm thinking about going to go see the new version of  "Frightnight" with friends this weekend.  I loved the orignal 80's film, but I am hoping this one has some merit.  I think I needed to kick off the unofficial beginning of fall (meaning that my kids are going to school, and it isn't 95 degrees anymore) with a spooky movie. Got to get in the Halloween spirit, right?.  But this is kind of a risk.  I mean, do I really want to see a remake of a movie I adored?  Will I be angry with this interpretation?  Maybe just disappointed?  Or will it hold its own?

I'm telling ya, teenage acne and dental work can be emotionally crippling.

Look out for the remakes.  The Crow, Robocop, Ghostbusters-- new versions are all in the works.  Frightening, huh?

  I think the reason many people despise remakes is not the remake itself- it's the idea (or lack of) behind it.  Just the concept of remaking movies somehow feels....well...uninspired and lazy.  Like it was easier to just re-write a great story with current actors, updated dialog, and hope the movie would fly just on popularity of the original.  It just feels like a creative cop-out.  No soul, if you know what I mean.  We tend to cling to movies as a part of our past, as a part of us that should not be touched or altered. And if someone messes with those precious memories- well, that feels like blasphemy.  Now, these are broad statements, and they may have a lot of truth to them in many cases.  However, really good movies (or any kind of art, really) CAN be made from an old classic.  Will it have the same feel?  Will it stir the same emotions or thoughts as the original? Almost certainly not- but sometimes it can be a true work of art, separate from the original.  That doesn't happen often, though.  A true work of art is hard enough to find.

Venus de Milo.  Old Classical work of art.

Faberge egg.  Turn of the century Russian work of art.

Hostess fruit pie.  Convenience pastry work of art.

  Okay, some of you may have noticed that I refered to the orignal movie "Frightnight" as a classic.  Yeah, yeah- go ahead and make fun of me.  But it is an almost a perfect piece of the mid-eighties interpretation of pop/teen/horror movies.  It was actually fairly well directed, too!  And come on- it has Roddy McDowell in a role that obviously was based on Peter Cushing!!  It was goofy, silly, but extremely watchable with fairly good acting and writing.  Like many things that I consider my favorites, I don't consider it a spectacular, thought-provoking artistic masterpiece--just a thoroughly enjoyable movie.  Get it?

If the cross doesn't frighten away the vamps, his snappy ensemble will.

  Well, I guess we will see how it turns out.  I think it's worth shelling out a few bucks to find out, I think.  And like I said earlier, I need a good scary movie to start off fall anyway.  I encourage you all to do the same.  Go look for Halloween decorations this weekend!  Michaels and Hobby Lobby have had their stuff out for over 2 weeks now! Menards is setting up their stuff, and I'm hoping Homegoods will be ready this weekend.  And let's not forget Big Lots!  I love their weird Halloween stuff.  Glaaaaahhhh... I'm almost drooling like Homer Simpson.

I'm gonna go watch some of the original Frightnight right now, and make some Halloween plans.  I also have to put together a couple new products I've been working on.  Mmmmmm....selling out........  8)  But this new item is COOL.  I test marketed it already, and it will work fine.  Wish I could tell you what it is- but you will just have to keep checking FB and Etsy!  They are updated more often than our website.

Nighty-night, kids.  Pick up your bottles and trash before you leave.


Monday, August 1, 2011

And here's where I should probably put down the bottle and go to bed.

Here's a handy quote that I googled. I'm not going to pretend I memorized this. I mean, come on.

Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire.

-Christian Nestell Bovee

I'm thinking about blind followers today.  And just about all of us are, to some degree.

Which way should we go?  Where's the guy with the big cane?

You heard me.  We don't mean to be followers (well, most of us don't).   It's not a conscious choice a lot of the time.  Those of us who are looking for something in our lives- whether it be honesty, truth, acceptance, or just a distraction- we tend to inject all of our ideals and hopes into that person or group that seems to be in line with our ideal.   Internally, we decide, "This person/group is EXACTLY what I want to be associated with.  I accept everything he/she/they says as truth because I've put all of my hope into them- and I cannot handle having my dreams turn into dirt because he/she/they are just another flawed human/group.  If I am wrong about them- that means I'm a fool, and I cannot accept that.  So I will cling to my fantasy for dear life, despite all facts and sense.  Plus, they seem very nice".  And that is how many cult leaders and other power-hungry self-serving liars stay in power!  The followers believe the illusion because they want to. It is very, very easy to manipulate people with well-rehearsed "kindness" and method acting empathy.

yeesh...people actually followed these guys...

I just want to make your lives better!  And I want to have more reserve cash than the US government!  Come on, people- it's a joke.  Relax.

   Pretty words and a putting on a good show only go so far, though... when the chips are down and hard decisions have to be made, their true colors show.  See how "kind" they are when there's nothing in it for them.  Watch the plastic smiles fade away.

Quick- which smile is real, and which one will cause nightmares and siezures?

insert facial expression for desired effect.

Wow, that was a bit of a downer, wasn't it? Ha!  Why not just talk about sick kittens and the end of the world?  Oh wait- wasn't the end of the world already supposed to have happened a couple months back?  Or is it in October now?  I hope it isn't before Halloween, because I'm buyin' a whole bunch of stuff this year.  Now, this may shock you-- you ready for this?-- Halloween is my favorite holiday.  Yes, I know it is a big surprise, but it's true.  I CANNOT WAIT.  This year will be HUGE.  My hub is planning on making some animatronic stuff for the front yard, we've already got plans for a cocooned man to be hung upside down in the front, and we HAVE to make a terrifying scarecrow this year.  I am open to any ideas you folks might have.  Go nuts!  Maybe I should put out some Halloween-themed paintings or products...that's just crazy enough to be economically feasible...

Smiling vegetables are scary...

....But not as scary as this Future McDonalds Death Clown

Okay, my soapbox is collapsing now, so I will get off of it.  I gotta have one of those Hostess fruit pies again.  Man, those are good!  I swear if someone propped up a huge cardboard box with a stick, and put a plate full of Hostess fruit pies under it-- well, I'd be trapped inside of the box in 2 minutes. 

I would kill all of you for just 5 of these.

I'm hungry.  I'm tired of typing.  I'm going away now- do NOT touch anything while I'm gone.