Category Archives: Visual Arts

What’s in a Word?

#!@‽¶≠!!

Words. We writers live by ’em. And sometimes (if you offend the wrong Muslim lunatic) die by them. But they are the essential part of how we do what we do. Words mean things. But not all words mean the same things to all people. And living in the Age of Political Correctness, not all wordsmiths are created equal, at least as far as permission to use certain words goes. Allow me to give you some examples… Continue reading What’s in a Word?

Blessed are the Makers…

ML-LH-350-VS-2

I think it was humorist and co-founder of the Algonquin Round Table, Robert Benchley (not to mention forbearer of author Peter “Jaws” Benchley) who quipped, “There are two kinds of people in this world…those who put people into two groups, and those who don’t.” I’m definitely in the first group. And for the purposes of this essay, the two groups into which I’m dividing people can be thought of as “Makers” versus “Customers.” To put it another way, when something needs fixing, or you can’t find exactly what you want, “makers” do it themselves, while “customers” hire it done. Nothing wrong with that. Depends on the task, I suppose. If it’s something I can do myself, I’ll do it. If it’s something I can’t (major surgery springs to mind) I’ll hire it done. But some people delegate a lot more than I. For instance, when I couldn’t find an iPhone 6 Plus belt holster to my liking, I made one. No big. Not hard to do. And I enjoy working with my hands. But I’ve gotten lots of questions about the case. It usually goes something like this: Continue reading Blessed are the Makers…

Underwood For President.

So I’ve finally run out of House of Cards (season 3) episodes. (Some shows I binge-watch. House of Cards, I savor like a fine wine.) And the ending was (as expected) another cliffhanger.

I’m going to be somewhat obtuse here, because I don’t want to spoil the show for those who are watching (or plan to) but haven’t gotten to the final episode of this season. However, I will tell you (which is no more or no less that you can get from the episode descriptions on Netflix) that the relationship between Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) is strained to the breaking point. What’s more interesting is why… Continue reading Underwood For President.

The nature of Heaven. And Hell.

You know that joke about what countries would be in charge of things if this were Heaven or if it were Hell? You know the one…where in Heaven, the British are the police, and in Hell, it’s the Germans? Well, I got to thinking about how that would apply to technology. And I came up with this: Continue reading The nature of Heaven. And Hell.

TV is dead. Long live TV!

tv-tombstone

I am a child of Television. No kidding…my first word? Not “mama” or “dada,” but “Popeye.” I was a disciple of Larry, Moe and Curly, and George Reeves taught me to believe a man could fly. I don’t think you could find a kid that was more plugged-in, tuned-in, and aware of television than I am. Which is why it somewhat pains me to report that TV, my lifelong companion, is dying, and near death. It was a good run. We had some great times. But I come not to praise TV, but to bury it – drive a stake through it’s 49 share heart. And to give you hope for the future.  Continue reading TV is dead. Long live TV!

R.I.P. Thomas Kincaid, 1957-2012

I just heard that Thomas Kincaid died suddenly today. It’s estimated that one in every twenty homes in America have one of his mass-produced masterpieces in it. Not ring a bell? Okay, how about this: Go to virtually any mall in America and look for the shop that sells paintings. Odds are the sign outside the door reads “Thomas Kincaid, Painter of Light.” Ahhhh. Now you get the connection. Now being an artist myself, you might think I’m all about mocking Kincaid. But I come not to bury him, but to praise him.  Continue reading R.I.P. Thomas Kincaid, 1957-2012

[BLEEP] This.

I was surfing around my Dad’s satellite service last night, and stumbled on a rebroadcast of Blazing Saddles on AMC. Several years ago, I made a list of what I thought were the ten funniest movies ever made (in no particular order). As I recall, the list went something like this, give or take:

  • Blazing Saddles (Brooks/Little/Wilder)
  • Young Frankenstein (Brooks/Wilder/Feldman)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Monty Python)
  • Arsenic & Old Lace (Cary Grant)
  • The Producers (Brooks/Mostel/Wilder)
  • Animal House (Landis/Belushi)
  • A Night at the Opera (Marx Brothers)
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Stoppard/Oldman/Roth)
  • Airplane! (Abrams/Zucker/Abrams)
  • Duck Soup (Marx Brothers)

When you watch a great movie, you’re watching a collaborative effort, but one that SOMEbody (usually the director) oversees and marks with his or her creative stamp. In comedies, more so that any other art form, timing is essential. Just one frame (a 24th of a second) can make a recognizable difference in the timing of a joke.

That brings me to the hatchet job AMC did on Blazing Saddles. Continue reading [BLEEP] This.

Date Night.

Art House Hell.
Art House Hell.

I’ve always suspected that men and women are actually from two different species. While every woman I’ve ever known speaks English (okay, there was this one girl in Japan that didn’t, but we didn’t date), “speaking” English and “communicating” with English are two vastly different things. Nowhere is this more apparent than when choosing and viewing a movie together.

Keep in mind, I’m not your stereotypical “guy.” I don’t limit myself to action movies, heavy metal, or beer. I appreciate movies with an emphasis on plot and character development, jazz, classical, and folk music, as well as wine and liquor. I’m no metrosexual (ever!), but I’m also not some knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that has no interest in culture.

Having said that, what I look for in a movie is to be entertained. Let me share with you a list of some of my favorite movies, in no particular order: Continue reading Date Night.

TyperActive.

I love typography. Always have. From a very early age, I’ve been fascinated with letterforms. When I was in elementary school, I used to rubber-band two pencils together to create a crude way to draw Blackletter (a.k.a. “Old English”) lettering on posters. While other kids decorated their textbook’s book covers with drawings of muscle cars, military tanks or alien spacecraft, I decorated mine with words in a variety of typefaces. Blackletter, calligraphy, Cooper Black, Bodoni, Futura – you name it, and I experimented with it. As I grew into a career as a freelance artist, I discovered that typefaces could provide a subtext (no pun intended) to ad copy and headlines. The face I chose to design something had the power to communicate meaning, context, and even tell people how to think about the words on the printed page, before they’d even read them.

Waaaaay cool. Continue reading TyperActive.

CSS Hell.

If, as Voltaire once opined, “God is a comedian, playing to an audience afraid to laugh,” then CSS (Cascading Style Sheets for you non-nerds in the audience) were written by Geeks as some kind of convoluted “you can’t get there from here” joke on the rest of us. I’m sure God finds it funny. I don’t. 

Back when the World (Wide Web) was young, all you needed to create websites was a copy of Notepad, a copy of Photoshop, and nerves of steel. Creating anything past the simlest of pages was a study in frustration. Editing or updating a page was worse. Torture. Client requests to “make all the body copy one point larger” could make the strongest web geek’s blood run cold. Make strong men cry. Turn weaker men to ashes. You get the picture. 

Then along came CSS. The promised land for web designers – style sheets, where you could divorce the data from the style elements. Create the pages once, then change one line of code in a style sheet and watch the changes ripple through the other pages, as if my magic. 

That was the promise. The reality is something else. Continue reading CSS Hell.