The Oscars

You know, I haven’t cared about the Oscars for more years than I care to remember. Like pretty much all award programs, they are more politics and positioning than actual rewards for achievement.

The only slight surprise was that Martin Scorsese didn’t win, but then, that has a certain amount of post-predictability to it, too. “Oh, they’re all expecting that we’ll give it to him this year. Well, let’s just prove what mavericks we are, and dash their expectations! We’re so fresh and original–let’s give ourselves an award!”

Now that I think about it, I’m getting really, really bored with movies in general. They’ve become so much a product, and so interchangable with one another, that the choice to just not watch–and not care–is already half-way made. You’ve got your powerful, emotional drama, your wacky, high-concept comedy, your explosive special effects extravaganza. Year after year, they shuffle the cliches and the casting and dump the results in the multiplex.

The choice of what to watch these days is like the choice between fast food places. There are slight differences, but ultimately you’re getting something mass-produced by bored hirelings.

Bah, I say. Bah.

Paint Blog III: Reflections in a green pepper

Well, the day of dread has arrived, as I began to add white to the largely green and yellow areas. The first attempt was pretty bad, and sad to relate, I didn’t photograph it. The photo below shows what it looked like when that first white attempt was improved a bit.

Pat the bunny.

Only it wasn’t improved too much. Can you see the bunny? I could. I had to…eliminate the bunny. The bunny had to go.

Too many bunnies, not enough mittens.

Not much of a bunny. Then, we decided to add some shadows. We did this by mixing raw umber with whatevertheheck green we’d been using all along.

The coming of the Shadows.

And then some more shadows. More shadows and more. The area in the mid-lower left looks like some struggling trapped thing. Struggling trapped things are pretty cool items to have in a painting, especially if it’s one of my paintings. In fact, that’s about the only role available in my work.

As on a darkling plain.

This is a somewhat darker image, perhaps a bit closer to the actual canvas appearance.

A Shot in the Dark.

Though maybe not. It’s probably somewhere between the two extremes. I can’t remember any more. I just can’t remember.

Paint Blog II: Crest of February

Question: What’s wrong with this picture?


If you say, “Well, you painted it, for one thing,” you can go to the head of the class, but you’re probably not going to get any supper young man.

If, on the other hand you say, “There aren’t any black outlines in the real world,” that’s much more what I had in mind.

How do we fix this? Like so:

Personal cheese holster.

Notice the difference? If you say, “Sure–you ruined it,” you’re bucking to get no dessert either young man.

The rest of you might be saying to yourself, “That still looks like there’s a black line there,” to which I say, “Ha ha, you’re talking to yourself.” Then, I point out that it’s actually just the shadow from a paint ridge. Here’s another picture, taken from a different angle, to show that I speak the truth.


I added some boards and poles or something to the lower part of the painting. It really looks like someone needs to clean up in there. Here’s a painting of how it kind of looks. This is way overexposed to show the detail. Also, there’s reflection from the top of the canvas, because I didn’t notice it while taking the picture.

Tomorrow's recipe: Chicken.

Here’s a photo showing more like what it looks like in real life. Notice how you can’t really see anything. That’s the tricky part. Also: the same reflection in the upper part. That’s right! I didn’t notice it a second time. I’m on my way to that swell prize.

Trying to learn PHP is tough.

The Book Nearest You

An exercise via Paul Denton, who in turn got it from a whole chain of sources, which finally slammed into a dead end.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

My result:

“Parkinson’s disease has some interesting links with depression–not only do many of my Parkinson’s patients have depression, but nearly all of them look depressed, because of their mask-like faces and slow movements.”

from The Midnight Disease, by Alice W. Flaherty, 2004.

Pass it on….

When there’s Remake Fever in the Blood…

Yesterday, James Lileks posted some pictures from an old film noir, showing portraits of an actor who went on to famous, near iconic status for a character he later played on TV.

I knew who he was right away, but it struck me also how much the pictures looked like Gary Sinise, who is still very much with us.

Remake Fever currently has Hollywood in its icy grip, so it’s possible someone may be thinking of remaking that television series, with the original characters played by different actors.

Gary Sinise would seem perfect for the role of Chief Medical Officer.

Can I have money for thinking of this?

Quiet Place

Here’s a quick (unfinished) painting that I knocked out in a couple of sessions because both PaintBlog II and III are boring me.

Some quiet cold place.  Click to open in a new window.

There’s nothing much here as you can see. But it’s kind of nice in its own dark way.

The Sign of the Four

Melancholy Girl points out in a comment to my long tale of Silicates that she prefers the “Classic” movie monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the like. And who doesn’t? There’s a reason those guys are classics, why the books have never gone out of print, and why, every few years, someone mounts a new film version of their stories.

It’s because they’re Classics, with a capital C.

At any rate, or rather because of, I’ve been trying to collate movie monsters into four types. Why four? Because four is the number best used for grouping things. You have four seasons, four compass directions, four elements (earth, air, fire and water) and their attendant humours, four cells in a basic Mendell heredity table…in popular culture, you had four Beatles, four kids from South Park, the Fantastic Four, four quarters in a sporting event, four quarters in a dollar, four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and so on. I’m telling you, if you want any theory of yours to be taken seriously, you have to have four divisions.

Check this out, while you’re up. You could almost make a drinking game out of it. I’m not responsible if you do, though.

So anyway, monsters. Here are the four divisions I’m thinking of, based in part on “the ideal Platonic human form,” kind of like the Autons before they revealed their true selves.

1. Utterly unlike. Here we’d put the Silicates, Hill House from Robert Wise’s film, and I think the Alien from Alien. These are beings utterly unlike us, with whom we have nothing in common, who have motivations unknown to us, with whom we cannot reason. I’d also put George Pal’s Martians in here, though probably not H.G. Wells’.

2. Like, yet unlike. These would be the victims of Jack Finney’s Body Snatchers, or those possessed by demons. They look like us, and they are subject to the same physical and physiological laws as we, but their “reasoning centers” are non-human invaders who have motivations unlike those of human beings…though not entirely unlike. Their logic and reasoning can be understood, as they chose our bodies for this very reason–they are comfortable with our physiognamy and feel we are the method though which they will achieve their ends. Thus, we can stop them because we can understand what they’re after and can act accordingly against them. It is possible to reason with them–we can make ourselves understood, at least–but it is likely that reason won’t help. Since they went to the trouble of possessing us, it’s unlikely that a simple “Stop that!” will have much effect on them. Admittedly, this has never been tried.

3. Like, but degraded. Zombies, people who were once human but now are unthinking automatons. Other than the animating spark, there is nothing alien or foreign in them. While we share physiognamy and have the same vulnerabilities, we cannot reason with them. I already talked about them rather at length; I’d rather not go through that again.

4. Variations. This is a kind of catch-all category, and here is where I would put the Classic monsters. Each of them is like the ideal human being, but flawed in some fundamental way that can give us regular people the advantage in a contest with them. Dracula’s difficult to kill, but he can’t stay out afte dark, is repelled by crosses, etc. Frankenstein’s stronger than we are, but his appearance denies him the friendship he desires. The wolfman is cursed to kill those closest to him. The creature from the Black Lagoon is an object of curiousity (if not hostility) to humans. Robby the Robot, from Forbidden Planet, might be seen as superior to man in many ways, but he is forbidden to act against them except defensively. Even Superman, far superior to mankind, is held in thrall to his higher moral code. Also, he’s got some strange vulnerabilities (kryptonite, which doesn’t harm humans at all).

I’m probably going to work categories two and four into longer essays, just because I can and there’s nobody to stop me. Blogging: one easy step on the path to being a supervillain! Nya ha ha ha ha. All I need now are some purple tights, and some henchmen.

PaintBlog III: More Details

Well, it has been a while, hasn’t it? Don’t get any ideas, though, I’m not rolling these things out very quickly. In fact, I hadn’t painted in days before I got insipid and did some detailing work. And that’s all you’re getting, too, just detailing work.

Paint Blog 3 - Some new wrinkles.  Click to open in a new window.

Things go slowly sometimes. That’s because they’re not going faster than they are. If they were going any faster, why, they might explode or something, and we wouldn’t want that. Much.

Perfumed Garden 0f Delights

I hooked up the laserdisk player for the first time in months, and watched Sinbad of the Seven Seas.

There are bad movies that are just bad, like [one of your favorites], [another of your favorites], and Battlefield Earth. But there are other bad movies that transcend badness, and become a kind of art, with nuance and details and themes that their makers never imagined, let alone intended. Plan Nine from Outer Space is the best known of these, but ask any bad movie fan and he (or she) could probably reel off another half-dozen names without even breaking a thought. The Beast of Yucca Flats. The Atomic Brain. Manos: The Hands of Fate. See how easy it is?

Sinbad deserves its place in that august gathering. Unlike Manos or Atomic Brain, it’s not painful at all to watch; it’s actually a lot of fun. I could detail its many wonders, but I should really do a full review someday, so I’ll just mention one: John Steiner, who plays the evil wizard Jaffar, gives a performance that is so utterly and totally over the top, that it scales new heights of over-the-topness, where it stands, silent upon a peak in Darien. William Shatner at his most bombastic is but a candle ‘gainst the sun.

If you get a chance, give it a look. I actually own this one on laserdisk (ask your grandparents).