Monday, March 30, 2009

LeBron & Giselle


I didn't know, okay? I started drawing this because my wife had a stack of old Vogues sitting around and I thought, what a cool image. I saw it as sort of a Shiva/Shakti energy happening there. I knew there had been some kind of controversy around the cover, but I'm dense enough that I figured it was no big deal.

After I'd already done a bunch of work on the drawing I ran a Google search to see what all the fuss was about, and it turned up this. And this. Oh, dear.

So maybe I'm an ass for even putting this up, but I was really happy with the drawing and I'm loathe to let it die a lonesome death on my hard drive. I'm going to will myself to believe that the photographer had only the best intentions.

But who knows, if I get any hate mail on this I may take it down.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ron and Fez discuss St. Patrick's Day


The Ron & Fez Show, XM Radio, 3/18/09:

RON: "Isn't it sad we have to go so far to another St. Pat's Day? Which means at least a year until Fez suffers from alcohol-related Bell's palsy again. I'll tell you something else, too, Fezzy, when you drink, uh,--what am I trying to say?--it's hard not to smother you. It's hard not to."

FEZ: "Just to put me out of my misery, or the annoyance factor?"

RON: "It isn't so much to put you out of your misery, it's a Natasha Richardson thing of, does this make sense to go on anymore. We get e-mails here: 'It sounds like Fez does not enjoy life, why don't you do him a favor and end it for him?'"

FEZ: "Well that would be murder. That would be murder in the first degree, because I'm sure it would be premeditated, it would be planned out."

RON: "Yes, it is."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jim Cramer on the Daily Show


What a treat to see this guy get his ass handed to him by Jon Stewart the other night. In the world of cable infotainment, it's refreshing when you can witness a bit of honesty and genuineness. And that bit was the undisguised look of fear on Cramer's face as he sat there and kissed the ring. Apart from that I'm pretty sure it was total horseshit.

To Stewart's credit, he really held Cramer's feet to the fire with his questioning, forcing him to try very hard to appear candid and affable while answering a completely different set of questions than he was asked. You can see the carny man's mind working feverishly throughout the interview, wondering how long it can go on and knowing that he's only one bad step away from whatever purgatory awaits guys like Michael Richards and Dog the Bounty Hunter.

And Cramer did his time in the barrel, and then, I don't know, Stewart gave him a stamp on his snake-oil seller's license or something, and they shook hands. And then the audience left and they both cackled menacingly and toasted evil. True story!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

LOST: Sawyer

I've been meaning to draw some studies of Sawyer (Josh Holloway) for awhile. Okay, let's just get this out of the way right up front: I could go on about the structure of his face or whatever, but the fact is that Sawyer's fun to draw because he's a sexy motherfucker. I'm not afraid to say that. It's an impartial observation, It's not like I want to have his children or anything. Since Lost also boasts the likes of Kate, Juliet, and Charlotte, it's never given me occasion to question myself. I'm pretty sure anyway.



This is the second in my series of character studies from Lost. I'm lucky that the episode from a couple weeks ago ("La Fleur") was Sawyer-centric, because he's an ideal subject with which to argue my theory of the show: that the true battle of good and evil is waged one's own psyche. Sawyer was the first character that caused me to make note of his heaving, manly pectorals... uh, I mean his true self/ false self division.



Remember the last scene of the "Long Con" episode? We've witnessed him being a perfect heartless bastard both on the island and in the flashbacks, yet it's impossible not to read the conflict in him. He explains his behavior with "I'm not a good person; never did a good thing in my life" , which sounds a little too insistent. This is not self-analysis, it's something he's trying to convince himself of. He's behaving in the way he thinks he has to.



Sawyer's life was ruined by a bad man when he was a kid. In a kid's logic, the way to not be hurt again is to become the bad person. Even on the island where survival depends on cooperation, he compulsively acts out that role. And that's the kicker: Most of us spend our adult lives desperately clinging to defense mechanisms that have outlived their usefulness. Sawyer evolves, but it's a slow, earned evolution, requiring him to get his nose rubbed in his own shit a time or two.



"La Fleur" is basically a showcase for his character having blossomed into who he really is. The self-centered jackass has been replaced by someone who constantly thinks of the good of the group. As I frame-stepped through the episode doing sketches, I noticed that there's barely a shot where Holloway doesn't look like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. His sweaty, often-shirtless shoulders... sorry, forgot where I was. Having finally jettisoned the past he develops naturally into a leader and caretaker. His selfishness was never who he actually was, it was something to mask pain, like any other addiction.



The centerpiece of the episode is the encounter at the park bench. Sawyer enters into the conversation fully intending to lie his head off, and that's the only moment where the old smirking con man emerges:



But by the time he opens his mouth he's realized that there's no percentage in lying and he owns his actions without apology. The other party is duly impressed. I'm of the opinion that the Others' ideas of "good" and "bad" are based less on moral behavior than on having an integrated personality. Someone like Juliet may not be terribly happy and may be capable of evil acts, but she knows who she is. The castaways were mostly walking basket cases and therefore unworthy, but the Sawyer that is encountered at the park bench is someone who might be readily welcomed into the Others' fold.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who hates on the Watchmen?



I remember one day in the late 80's when I laid out the cash for those insanely expensive, leather-bound collector's editions of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, only to get them home to the thudding realization I was never likely to spend much quality time with either book. I'd so thoroughly reread, parsed, and deconstructed them both in my dog-eared newsstand editions that there was no thrill in curling up with the collected editions on a wet Sunday. I knew Watchmen backwards and forwards. (No, seriously, I read it backwards: there's a big section--the Rorschach-centric issue--that's constructed as one big mirror image.) I realized I was pretty much done reading it. As much as you may love a book, at some point you just know the fucking story well enough.



So I haven't looked at that book much in 20 years, and while I still remember it in great detail, I have enough emotional distance from it to say this: The Watchmen film is a towering achievement, a staggering piece of work, and I can't at all understand the reaction of people who see it as a big compromised pile of 'meh'. I didn't go in looking for a filmed edition of the book, I was looking--hoping--for a film that maintained the integrity of this well-loved story, and made it surprising and affecting all over again. But I really wasn't expecting to be so knocked out by the strange, terrible beauty of it. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, and if I had as much time on my hands for moviegoing as I once did, I would definitely go a couple more times. I would absolutely love to witness the Mars sequences again, or hear Billy Crudup's surprisingly vulnerable delivery of Dr. Manhattan's lines. Or Jackie Earle Haley, for the love of God, if ever there was a perfect convergence of actor and role.



I've read a lot of mixed-to-negative things about this film, and I really can't understand being so dismissive of it, particularly if you're a fan of the book. As comic adaptations go, it's a minor miracle. The odds of an adaptation of this book having been made that respects the source so much, that recreates the fictional universe so fanatically, that so refuses to dumb down the core ideas, that doesn't even break the spell by using bankable actors; that makes so many ballsy decisions and goes to so many dark, wonderful places, are roughly the same as... well, fuck it, Patton Oswalt says it better than I can here. "The fuel of the Nerd Mafia is disappointment and exclusion," Amen, brother.



I'm even willing to go along with the heightened-reality elements, like the ramped-up hand-to-hand violence. Yes, it doesn't make any sense that out-of-practice Dan Drieberg is throwing ganbangers left and right like so many used Kleenexes. But you know what? It also never made sense that Dan singlehandedly invented and built all that unique, futuristic technology--his mothballed hovercraft is still presumably well ahead of the Defense Department's R&D--in his basement, with his two hands. But we accept that he did, because he's a superhero and that's what superheroes do. Despite Laurie's protests that she and her compatriots are nothing more than idiots running around in ass-revealing spandex, we know there's something more to them. They're not just a pervy social club standing around the North Pole deciding the fate of the world, they are (as Roger Ebert suggests) a pantheon of fallen, fractured minor gods.



Then there's the opposite complaint, that the film never finds its own voice because it's too busy using the source book as a storyboard. Apart from that being a really hacky comment that everyone repeats because it sounds smart, it actually applies to Sin City, not to this film. As someone who tends to be somewhat tuned into the differences between a storyboard and a finished piece of film, I feel comfortably certain that the shots that match the panels are well in the minority. A filmed version of Dave Gibbons' panels would have resulted in a more static, perhaps Kubrickian, visual sense. Zach Snyder was not cribbing excessively from Gibbons. (He kept the Gibbons book open in front of him while he cribbed from Michael Bay, Stephen Norrington and the Wachowskis.) Snyder made this film its own rough beast, and I'm pleased to say I no longer have "300" reasons to hate him. He's one talented dude.



UPDATE: After some interesting discussions I've revised my assessment down a bit. Snyder demonstrates an unfortunate disregard for the human relationships that give the story its heart. Put it this way: If the Dan-Laurie romance or the relationship between Silk Spectres I & II was your favorite aspect of the book, then you likely found the movie a failure, and you're not a foot soldier in the Nerd Gestapo for thinking that. If you're more fascinated with the fringe characters (Manhattan's existentialism, Comedian's amorality, Rorschach's psychosis), then you're in agreement with the director, and the film is therefore a success.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meet Kevie Metal

I've had a little free time lately (hello economic pullback!), and I've been using it to spend quality time with those nearest to my heart; namely HTML, Flash and Dreamweaver.


It's been a couple years since I launched my site, and I'm finally somewhat satisfied with it. Apart from having built in better functionality and cleaned up the so-called "decorative" elements (template creators must all be guys who flunked out of design school), I'm pleased to have added a mascot for my business, the dashing fellow who now occupies the top banner of this page.

I tried for forever to come up with a character for myself, but none of my ideas ever made it off the drawing board, I think because I was trying too hard to make myself look 'cool'. (I know I can't pull off 'cool' in real life, but I guess I figured maybe I could as a fictional cartoon character.) This to me looks like a product of the same committee that stillbirthed "Poochie" on that Simpsons episode:





A little while ago I had an idea for this sort of steampunk metalworker guy, and it seemed a good fit. This is the guy who actually lives in my head and won't let me rest at 3am while there's a visual problem to be solved. I think I can live with him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Geithner


I'm not even 100% sure who this person is, I just thought he had a goofy face. I gather that he's one of the President's people who's trying to fix the economy, but I couldn't say for certain. I've given up looking at the news for some kind of hope. At this point I'm just looking at the local paper to try to determine what days they're running the evictions. If that peckerwood of a Marshall thinks he's getting me and mine out of this house, he's going to have to come in blasting.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

LOST: Locke

I'm so glad this show is back on the air. My wife and I have never watched an episode twice, and after season 5 is over it's going to be our great pleasure to spend the hiatus working our way through the whole series in anticipation of the last season.

These images of John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) are all drawn from the latest episode, "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham". (I won't be spoiling any plot points, btw.)



Everybody who watches "Lost" has their own theory on what it's all about, right? Well here's mine: I think that the idea of good guys and bad guys is a cover for a deeper theme. Locke in particular is someone who's always being pulled in two directions at once, trying to decide what side to take, who to listen to, what to believe. (It was Locke himself who cryptically introduced the good vs. evil theme with a pair of chess pieces in the pilot episode.)



As the series approaches its conclusion, the sides in the larger conflict are coming into sharper focus. But this episode contains some strong hints that no one is completely good, neither side worthy of trust. Perhaps the two sides in the war are offering Locke a false choice. Perhaps the real struggle is within himself.



One thing that struck me early on in the stories is the way that most of the castaways were people at war with their own nature, caught between what psychoanalysis calls the "true self" and the "false self". People who often say "no" to their better instincts because they're trapped in a neurotic idea of themselves. Locke's dichotomy, I would think, is that for all his babble about being a "man of faith", he's terribly lacking in faith in himself. He wants to be saved by taking on the external role of a leader, but that makes him vulnerable to being manipulated. When he can get his answers from inside and stop being pulled this way and that, then he will have made progress.




As I was cycling through the episode looking for scenes to draw, I was really struck by Terry O'Quinn's work in the following scene. I think it demonstrates what I'm saying nicely:



In this scene Locke is trying to convince Kate of something, but she ends up putting the spotlight on him, and he's not happy with what's on display there. The first shot is earlier in the exchange, where he's trying to project the image of the wise, serene leader that he'd like to be seen as. As the camera tracks in and she grills him about his own life, the mask crumbles and O'Quinn makes his wonderfully expressive face cycle through pain, regret, heartbreak and flashes of rage. He's still very much in the grip of his demons. Poor Locke, so desperate to escape into a larger persona, but the small scared man is always right below the surface.

I'll try to expand upon this theory in future posts, looking at different characters in the series.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Models

There's no rhyme or reason for todays post; my wife was using my computer and there was nothing to draw from but a fashion magazine we had lying around.






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FROM THE REFRIGERATOR DOOR: Another Edie & Daddy collaboration.