Friday, May 30, 2008

A Mona Lisa for our troubled times

Below is the oil painting of German actor/madman Klaus Kinski that I began last weekend. So far the likeness is there, but I want to exaggerate the planes of his face more and get his eyes to the point where his stare unnerves the viewer.

Right now it has just one layer of paint on the canvas, just figuring out my colors and values. I don't like to use "tube colors", rather I like to place mixed colors in layers of glazes next to each other so that the eye is tricked (which is really the root of what painting is - after all, you're trying to represent something dimensional on a flat surface). For example, people think a tux is black, but I'm doing it dark cobalt blue. The red background helps makes it appear black. The same with his skin - I won't use a flesh color, rather I'll use yellows and oranges, and rely on the intense red and blues to make it appear more 'fleshy' to the eye (flesh isn't really flesh color anyways - everyone's is obviously different). So basically what I have going here is a "triadic color scheme." That said, the red background might change to a grayish-green to make the yellows & oranges of his skin pop more. But maybe not.

OK, I'm starting to veer into Bob Ross territory - no need to give the plebian hordes too much of a peek behind the curtain. Stay tuned for further Kinski portrait updates, and watch Klaus grow more sinister and saturated with each passing week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This guy isn't really Chevy Chase, and you're not.

Here's a picture of a Chevy Chase impersonator taken at a recent convention of similar sad people who make their living pretending to be famous people at corporate gatherings, gas station openings, bar mitzvahs, what have you.

What I like about this guy is that he left nothing to chance communicating the whole "Chevy Chase thing," regardless of what era of Chase you are familiar with. Early on in the process he donned the Lakers jersey from "Fletch" and thought, "Hmmm- this is pretty solid, but older Chase fans might not get this." So he cleverly affixed a "President Ford" pin to his lapel, and presto! - those who chuckled at Chevy's antics on "Saturday Night Live" in the 70's were magically pacified. I can't pinpoint the exact year in which the real Chase stuck a pencil in his ear, but really - does a humorous move such as this ever grow stale? I think not.

Happy Birthday, Dracula!

Venerable British actor Christopher Lee turns 86 today. He's cool.

Things I did over the last 10 days insead of blogging

I started and halfway completed a large backyard landscaping project. Tore out some vile buck thorn trees, replaced them with arborvidaes, dug holes with a pickax, etc.

I drove to Nebraska with the wife and boy to visit relatives for a couple of days.

I skillfully ducked jury duty.

I read.

I worked on an oil painting of Klaus Kinski.

I worked on a King Kong model.

Things I didn't do? I didn't blog, check email much or think about advertising.

I tell ya, that last one was especially sweet.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Garden Yeti is here

I came home the other night to find a large box that looked like it might contain a small dishwasher or a dorm-room mini-fridge sitting on my front steps. A closer examination of said box revealed the following:

Outstanding - my Garden Yeti had arrived. I always liked this item and had blogged about it previously, but was hesitant to pony up the $100. But then I figured that I had to do my part to stimulate the economy, so what the hey. Anyway, this thing is big (over 28" high) and very cool. How big and how cool? Here are some pics.

The Garden Yeti is about as tall as a sitting, panting 75-lb dog.

The Garden Yeti is taller than a 4.2 month-old baby that is being stretched.

The Garden Yeti is very well made. Lots of detail, sturdy, etc.

The Garden Yeti stalks the bucolic, mid-century hamlet of Saint Anthony Village.

Is your yard lacking that certain panache'? Then be original and think of something else to put in your yard. But if you want to lazily copy me, you can order yours here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"It used to be a gentleman's business. Now it's a horse orgy!"

So sayeth an aging copywriter about the changing face of advertising circa 1961 in Chip Kidd's fine new novel "The Learners." A sequel to Kidd's first book "The Cheese Monkey's", this tale finds the protagonist 'Happy' graduated from college and pursuing a position at the small Connecticut advertising agency that a design teacher he admired once worked at.

If you didn't know, Mr. Kidd is a much-sought-after (and understandably so) designer of book covers. His wide-range of work is impressive in that he has no discernible style, other than the fact that his covers are always well thought out conceptually and extremely well-executed. He doesn't force his personality on the work, nor does he always use one style of font, or always use illustration, or a rigid grid approach, or what have you. He designs something appropriate for the project at hand, which needs to be different from the solution that came before. Seemingly simple, but a task many designers utterly fail at. I guess a "style" is fine, but at some point there must be an acceptance that you are in service of the project and not the other way around.

Anyway, as highly as I think of Kidd's design sensibilities, I was admittedly a tad suspicious when I heard he was coming out with a novel back in 2002. But as it turns out, "The Cheese Monkeys" was an entertaining book with a particular kind of energy and wit that I enjoyed. The fact I went to art school (with all the good and bad that such an endeavor entails) and that the book was about the same thing no doubt helped, but the book was still rich enough in detail and characterization that anyone would most likely find it entertaining.

So I was interested in this sequel, and found it to be pretty darned good. The book was by turns humorous, dark, slight and deep, and successfully tied together a lot of themes such as:

The struggle of giving a shit and having taste when plying one's trade.

How the thumb of authority can change one's behavior in unexpected ways.

What is the proper way to advertise shoes or potato chips?

The death of the illustrator and the ascendancy of photography.

The emerging roles of metaphor, wit and irony in the changing face of communication.

It's also very-well designed, and laid out in a way that helps subtly communicate the book's themes without being overwhelming. I should also mention that, generally speaking, it's pretty funny. It's good stuff. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another gem from The Onion AV Club comments

This one is from a talkback for the McSweeney's novel "Arkansas" by John Brandon (a solid debut novel, btw), which is about people who just sorta fall into drug-dealing. The comment was posted by "Teenager" in response to talkbackers debating the notion of people turning to crime out of boredom, and goes like this.

I am from a town without cool bars and a shitty music scene.

I wouldn't turn to crime, but I do think about it a lot.

I know other people do too. I know this because GTA4 is selling exceptionally well.

Well said, Teenager. You nailed the "no-holds-barred yet consequence-free" appeal of video games. Deep down, we all just want to whack a hooker in the head with a lead pipe. We're animals, or at least our avatars are.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dude is old

Republican Presidential candidate John McCain is old (he's also ornery, but that's not what this is about). Just how old is he? He'll be 72 this August, meaning that if elected (god forbid) he would be 2 years older than Ronald Reagan was when he took office in 1981. Wow. I'm not sure I'd trust a 72 year-old to do much besides say "hello" to me on the rare occasion I saunter into a Wall Mart, let alone run my country. But as always, I'm sure I'll be in the minority on this matter.

Anyway, back to making fun of how old this guy is. It seems as if someone has saved us the trouble of keeping track of all the things that John McCain is older than. How thoughtful. It's quite a list, and you can find it here:

Thanks to the always gentlemanly Will Dinski for the heads up.

Monday, May 12, 2008

High-end crap

For a first-class-experience all the way, I suggest you make a sandwich using Buddig Select deli meats, wash it down with a bottle of Budweiser Brew Master Private Reserve, then top it off with a bowl of Blue Bunny Premium ice cream. That's how rich people who demand the best that life has to offer do it. Face it: that regular Buddig meat and Blue Bunny ice cream are for serfs, peons and suckers.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Let's all repeat the infinitively recursive poem/rhyme

My name is Yon Yonson, I live in Wisconsin. I work in a lumber mill there. The people I meet when I walk down the street, they ask me my name and I say: My name is Yon Yonson, I live in Wisconsin. I work in a lumber mill there. The people I meet when I walk down the street, they ask me my name and I say: My name is Yon Yonson, I live in Wisconsin. I work in a lumber mill there. The people I meet when I walk down the street, they ask me my name and I say: My name is Yon Yonson, I live in Wisconsin. I work in a lumber mill there. The people I meet when I walk down the street, they ask me my name and I say: My name is Yon Yonson, I live in Wisconsin....

And so on, into infinity. Or madness. Whichever comes first.

I'm not sure why this popped into my head today, but it did. It was used by Kurt Vonnegut in "Slaughterhouse Five", although he didn't originally write it. It's origins are sketchy, although it may spring from Swedish immigrants arriving in the new world. Or it may just be one more retarded thing that springs from Wisconsin.

Thus endeth today's public service message.