A Certain Lack of Focus

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays

I'll be offline for about a week so this is my last post for a while. mallsantaHave a happy holiday everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I generally don't care about hummingbirds one way or the other.hummingbirdIn fact for the most part hummingbirds kinda creep me out. Yeah yeah, Matt thinks I'm weird too. I wanted to draw from this hummingbird picture though, because I loved the delicacy and simplicity of the wings. They almost look like insect wings more than real, bird-feather wings.

Shakespeare Horror

coverI'm reading a literary satire at the moment called The Eyre Affair. I'll be writing a review whenever I get around to finishing the book, but for now I want to discuss something that's described starting on page 180.

The main character is meeting her ex-boyfriend for a night out at the theater. Here is the show they're planning to see: "No other play but Richard III had been performed here for over fifteen years, and the theater itself had no company to speak of, just backstage crew and a prompter. All the actors were pulled from an audience who had been to the play so many times they knew it back to front. Casting was usually done only half an hour before curtain-up."

rockySo basically it's Rocky Horror Picture show... for Shakespeare. How freaking cool is that? Why don't we have something like this? I wonder how hard it would really be to produce it. Of course in our society it would actually be quite difficult because it would require a full house worth of audience that's dedicated enough to Shakespeare to memorize it, well enough to banter about it and improv. Not real likely I guess. Still it's a nice idea.

The show in the book ends with the Battle of Bosworth, with the majority of the audience participating. "...fortunately this time no one had been seriously injured during Bosworth." A pink toy horse was supplied in response to Richard's anguished cry of "My kingdom for a horse!" Really a fantastic idea, even if it's a bit far-fetched in application.

*Images are stolen and linked. You know the routine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wing Study

Here's a study of a hawk's wing.hawkI'm looking for pictures of baby wings... spread wings that still have their pin feathers. Does anyone have any or know where I can find some? I just need them to draw from, I know I found some several years ago but I didn't save them, and can't seem to find any as good.


I despise malls. Great Northern Mall especially is a truly horrible place, with the shitty music from every store and kiosk competing with each other, the blinky lights and the jerky cell phone salesmen doing everything short of casting a net to attract your attention. That said, I have to admit that whoever came up with the idea of a mall directory was pretty brilliant. In a huge confusing headache inducing place like a mall, it's nice to know that every fifty feet or so there's a map to show you how to get to store you're looking for, or, if you've had all you can take, to the exit.mallmapExcept that some moron at Great Northern thought it'd be great to hang smaller maps for your convenience... on top of the large lit map. Yes, I realize that I can just take one of the little maps and walk away if mallmapI really want to see what's hidden behind the plastic map holder, but come on, there's two square feet of white space down just below where they hung the stupid things. Or, if you don't believe most Americans will exert themselves enough to bend that far (and I guess I'm with you on that) how about hanging it on the side?

It's not like I needed to see what was on the map beneath the map holder, but since I couldn't SEE it, I had no way of knowing that. I happened to be looking for an electronic store and didn't see electronics anywhere else on the map. As it turned out that's because Great Northern doesn't have any electronics stores inside the mall which is just brilliant. mallmapIn fact all that was under the map was men's clothing and children's clothing. Granted, it's a long tradition of stereotypes to assume that men aren't going to check the map anyway but I think it's also a long accepted stereotype, and probably a more accurate one, that most grown men want to spend as little time in the damn mall as possible, which, logically, means checking the map and getting the hell out of there. And what about the kid's stores? If I were any of the stores covered up by mini-maps I'd be pissed, but I find it hard to believe that the omniscient Disney Store puts up with it. I smell a lawsuit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


posterI realize this movie came out four years ago, but I just watched the movie Adaptation this weekend. My parents bought it for me when it came out on DVD; Mom said she thought it was weird so I'd probably like it. That was intriguing but for whatever reason I never got around to watching it.

Honestly I think the reason I never watched it is that the third line of the back summary describes one of the characters as "obsessive orchid hunter," and I think, how can this possibly be interesting? I think I probably stopped there. I didn't bother to re-read it before Matt and I watched it the other night, so I didn't really have any expectations.

It is about orchids, somewhat, which weirded me out since my friend Kim posted a picture of an orchid yesterday. Mostly, although the film revolves around orchids, it's not about orchids at all. skullSo we've all heard of meta-fiction but I haven't really considered its applications in film. The closest I've seen is when a character addresses the audience, interrupting the movie and reminding everyone that they're watching one. This is uncommon and generally clumsy in film though it appears more frequently on stage. The theory I'd guess is if Shakespeare did it, it must be ok.

Adaptation goes much further than simply addressing the audience however (and never in fact directly addresses the audience). The screenplay, by Charlie Kaufman, is about the character Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicolas Cage) writing a screenplay adaptation. The adaptation is of a book called The Orchid Thief, which is a real book, written by Susan Orlean both in the movie and in real life. It quotes passages from the book which I suspect are real passages. The movie plays with reality continually, with main characters who are all real people, Charlie Kaufman, Susan Orlean and John Laroche. It even includes a seminar by real speaker Robert McKee, played by Brian Cox. The exception is Kaufman's twin brother Donald who is fictional, but reality is further blurred by giving Donald credit for co-writing the screenplay, and actually dedicating the movie to his memory since he "dies" during filming.

orchidWhile most people call Kaufman's work surrealist, I'd also call this movie a beautiful example of meta-film. Cage, as Kaufman, is constantly struggling with writing the screenplay that we're watching. He decides to put in elements which we will, or have already witnessed, and ends the movie by telling us in a voice over that he'll end the movie with a voice over, ending as it ends.

There are some wonderful moments in the movie (warning: spoilers). Early in the movie a passage from the book talks about the fatal nature of orchid hunting, giving stories of orchid hunters who've died in their obsession. This sets us up beautifully for the deadly ending which would otherwise be overblown. Orlean (Streep), drugged out of her mind on orchid dust, says, flatly and with hilarious predictability, "We're going to have to kill him." Although the moment is obvious should seem overplayed, it's balanced by earlier comments by Kaufman about similar movie elements being predictable and overdone.

After watching this movie I'm not at all surprised that the same man wrote Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. I think one of the strongest points of the movie (of all the movies) is that although it uses meta-fiction devices and surrealist elements, the movie avoids being about its own devices. bedroomOrlean makes comments in her narrative about wanting nothing more than to want something, and this reflects Kaufman's struggle. Although he is not lacking desire, he's so terrified of acting on them that he's paralyzed inside his dark shell of a bedroom. This is a movie about isolation, about people who need to be released from their inhibitions to make any kind of human connection.

*Pictures are stolen and link to wherever I stole them from.

Tangled Roots

Back to my usual stuff.treeThose of you who know me have probably seen a thousand drawings of mine like this but I've never posted one so it's not a cop-out, right?

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Long Awaited Cuttlefish

Was it worth it?
cuttlefishI won't be posting anything else tonight because I got distracted drawing cuttlefish. Can you blame me? They're ugly-adorable, I think they must be the walruses of the cephalopod world. I promise I'll post something interesting tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why I hate Walmart

booksOne of the first space issues Matt and I ran into when we first moved in together was our over abundance of books. Together we had six tall particle board bookshelves, two wide pine bookshelves that we built together (Matt did most of it) and two small particle board bookshelves. It wasn't anywhere near enough.

We didn't really want to buy any more crappy particle board shelves, but we decided we'd better suck it up and get some cheap ones. Unfortunately our options were fairly limited. Target carries tall cheap bookshelves for thirty dollars, and we had three of those already. The older ones are a single piece, built as you might expect bookshelves to be built, but the newer ones, and the only kind you can find at Target now, are in two short pieces with pegs to hold the top half to the bottom. It looks horrible. I assume they do it to save on shipping costs, but it really just looks awful. Personally I don't like even the older ones because they're this horrid fake cherry color: the quality of fake wood has deteriorated rapidly, and it wasn't good to begin with. My shelves came from Meijer, apparently there aren't any of those nearby. shelfbreaksIkea has ok looking bookshelves that are probably better quality, but they're still particle board and they're way more expensive. We're not really willing to pay sixty-eighty dollars for particle board furniture.

Which leaves us with Walmart. At Walmart I discovered some bookshelves that were not quite such a sickening color; fake oak is not nearly so offensive as fake cherry for some reason. Like the Target shelves they are in two halves, but unlike Target they don't try (and fail) to hide it. Instead they make it look like they really are two pieces that have been stacked on top of each other, and in my opinion the look is much nicer. The shelves looked slightly wider too, which has to be a good thing, right? So we went with those, for the same price as the Target ones. I know Walmart is famous for forcing it's suppliers to cut corners, but I didn't realize how much difference in quality there could be between particle board.

Our other shelves have shown some wear, a little bowing of the shelves but that's sort of to be expected with particle board. They don't necessarily sit parallel to the ground, but they're more or less straight. I've underlined each shelf in green so you can get an idea where these shelves are bowing. shelvesKeep in mind, the shelf on the left I've had since college, so maybe five years? The other two are Matt's, he's had the one on the right for about two years, and the one in the middle, which seems to be having more bowing issues than the other two, for ages. So these shelves are doing pretty well all things considered.

walmartWe got the Walmart shelves a few months after we moved here. Say September, though that's probably generous. That means tops, they're three and a half months old. Here's the Walmart shelves, with their underlines in teal.

In that short period of time the shelves are visibly bent, and I think the second shelf up on the right is actually resting on the Ikea magazine holders. I don't deny that they're overloaded, but ALL of our bookshelves are overloaded because we still don't have enough space for them. And seriously, three and a half months? I'm impressed, I mean, how exactly do you fuck up particle board? Is it eighty percent glue? Matt and I have always been resistant to buying from Walmart for many reasons, but we caved when we realized we were going to have to settle with crap quality wherever we went. How could we realize that the quality of crap could span so wide?


My drawing of the day.octopusIt's supposed to be a blue ringed octopus, but since it's in black and white it's kinda hard to tell. I'm on kind of an ocean creature kick if you hadn't noticed.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rock Lobster?

No it's a METAL lobster, duh.
lobsterInspired by the baroque robots by Mattias Adolfsson. Not that turning a lobster into a robot is much of a stretch.

Snowed In

Since this is the first weekend of my break, and the first weekend that Matt was through with his SANS test, we had all sorts of social plans.

dimsumWe started out by having dim sum with Amy, William and Doug at Tommy's Sea Food Restaurant, our favorite place for dim sum, which was lots of fun, if not lots of healthy. Actually I'm not sure how healthy dim sum is, it's mostly steamed, but it just doesn't seem possible that it's good for you. It is tasty, and we haven't had it in a while, so it was worth a bit of a health cost.

After dim sum we went over to get some bubble tea at Superior Pho (which is where we went to have pho last week, excellent pho and the best bubble tea in town). Matt and I had planned to hang out at a coffee house in town before socializing with some friends in the evening, but at about this time the radio started giving dire warnings of the sky falling, and the sky itself started hinting that it might be ready to do so.

snowSo instead we went to borders to grab my car, where we'd left it before Amy's concert last night. We thought we'd beat the worst of the weather then come back up to Cleveland in a single car, but by the time we made it down, a normally 40 minute drive taking more than an hour, we both realized that with the weather getting worse we'd probably better plan on sticking inside for the day. * So instead of heading back to Cleveland we went to the grocery store to stock up for the weekend, guessing we'd probably be stuck for a while. We even picked up supplies for a nice breakfast tomorrow (Matt makes the best fried tomatoes ever). We're supposed to meet some friends for a game day tomorrow afternoon, and more friends at Barnes & Noble for coffee in the evening, but if the weather lives up to the radio's promises we may not make either.

Gee, what a shame, stuck all weekend inside, alone with my fiance. We made ourselves an elegant dinner of frozen ravioli (but good frozen ravioli) spinach salad and bread with olive oil and an herb mix we picked up from the Holden Arboretum's fall garden show. Later tonight we'll curl up and watch the special addition of Serenity, which we've been wanting to see for a while but haven't had time. After that I'll let you use your imaginations or not as you like.dinnerNeedless to say, as much as I was looking forward to a "fun" weekend I'm not really lamenting its loss. If we get out tomorrow great, either way I know we'll have a nice relaxing weekend, which we've needed for some time.

* All but the last picture came from flickr and link back to their poster.

Shark Attack

Well I meant to draw and Octopus today, but I got distracted and ended up reading about all sorts of different ocean animals instead. So... here's some sharks.
sharksThe one on top is a tiger shark, the one on the bottom is a great white (small print: not to scale). And just in case this drawing is too boring for you I threw one in with the background from yesterday.sharks

Friday, December 14, 2007

Say a Gway?

It's Friday night and I'm not in the mood for blogging, so instead I'll leave you with a picture of an elderly man, in a church, on a Segway.
segwayAnd he's got a jaunty hat too!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Today I wanted to draw something little and detailed, so I drew a Nautilus.
nautilusActually I don't think they are that small, but it was fun to draw. I apologize for the psychedelic background, I put it in there intending to calm it down some, but liked it in spite of myself.

Parking Peeves

badSometimes parking is difficult. Some people are lousy parallel parkers for example. It takes them twenty tries to get into a huge spot, and by the time they're done I can almost forgive them taking up two spots with their little Neon or Corolla. Other times parking is badly designed or plotted out, either making it difficult to maneuver or hard to tell where it's ok to park. For some reason, the parking spots in front of my building are only marked about a foot and a half back from the curb. I can't think why they decided to do this, I'm guessing someone thought it was less ugly, but it's pretty idiotic. For most of the year it's ok, although I've seen at least one car that regularly manages to "not notice" where the lines are and parks any which where. In the winter however, after the first lasting snow, parking becomes a several month long nightmare. The little yellow lines appear to be exactly as long as the lingering snow, and it's impossible to tell where to park.

But that's kind of excusable, what amazes me are the people who park badly intentionally. I'll never understand what it is that makes someone think it's ok to double park. I realize that not everyone is a wonderful parker, and sometimes, even if you're just brilliant at parking (and what a skill that would be to brag about) it's just not possible to pull in at a good angle. But have we heard of backing out and straightening out people? Seriously?badTo my mind it is simply impossible that the above driver failed to notice that he/she was parked that horribly. They just didn't care. Fortunately another car was able to squeeze into the half space next to it, but forcing someone to do that is incredibly inconsiderate. I think in this case this was just laziness but there are at least two types of intentional double parking. The first is vehicles which are simply huge, and unless they're absolutely perfectly parked (and sometimes not even then) they're going to spill over into at least one extra space. jerkAlthough I don't think much of gigantic cars, at least I can understand that in this case it's not necessarily willful thoughtlessness as it is a natural consequence. Of course if they'd get a car that didn't take up that much space, chances are they could get more than 6 miles/gallon too, so maybe there's more than one kind of indifference here.

The second kind of double parking is the jerks who really really really like their car, and think that, because their car is expensive/pretty/new they are somehow entitled to two spaces. I posted this picture a while ago, where we saw a silver car that believed this.

We saw this two weeks in a row, but the second week someone had decided to shimmy their way into the left hand half-space, and so Matt decided to park in the right hand half-space. Fantastic. Here's hoping the jackass learned something.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Not a Drawing

I'm feeling lazy today (I think that's gunna be a theme this week) so once again, instead of a drawing, I'm going to give you something a little different.
thingIf you can guess what it is without scrolling to the last picture, you get ten bonus points!
thingIf you didn't get that one, get the above for five bonus points...
thingAnd if you still can't get it on this one, you can lose all your bonus points. Kim (Nichelson) if you're reading this you aren't allowed to guess since you already know what it is. :)

No-Smoking Laws

smokingI've been in debates before, over how constitutional it is to ban smoking, whether we really want the government interfering in our lives over things like smoking, because who know where it could lead... I agree that the laws are a little questionable as far as whether smoking is something we SHOULD be banning. But I don't really care.

I hate smoky rooms. Maybe it goes back to the fact that I grew up in a bar, and had to deal with it all the time as a kid. They banned smoking in Eugene about ten years ago and it was beautiful. True, many of the bars complained that all their customers drove over to Springfield, where they could light up in peace, my mom even claimed a few bars went out of business because of it. I never bought it though, "look at Doc's Pad," she said. "Mom, that place sucked," I pointed out.

But I have to admit that for me, this was never about what was good for the state, or what was good for small business owners, it wasn't even about good health. I'm selfish, and banning smoking made my life far more comfortable. So when Ohio put it on the ballot, I didn't even struggle with any ethical implications, or even possibilities of Big Brother getting a better hold. I was just glad that I'd be able to go into a restaurant and sit down to a meal without choking to death. smokingFor you smokers out there who think I'm being selfish (which I've already admitted) and say, "Hey, you already had a nonsmoking section," I'd just like to make it very clear that those shitty plastic partitions never kept me from inhaling your poison.

Since I'd already moved south a ways when the law passed, I didn't get much chance to experience the difference. Tonight Matt and I met some friends at the Kennleworth in Lakewood, and my first impression on going in was: wow, no cloud of smog... how nice!

smokingI guess the bottom line here is that regardless of the law, not allowing smoking in a particular area is a sure fire way to increase the enjoyment of that space. If it's not a law, it's difficult for many businesses to make that decision, because they risk losing customers, but since it is the law, they don't have to worry about it, and suddenly their business, which through that fog of stink seemed automatically seedy and low-class, is a notch or two higher on the classy scale. Even my mom, smoker since the age of 16, admits that she enjoys spaces without smoking better than spaces filled with smoke (unless maybe that's something I dreamed, inspired by wishful thinking), the only thing she doesn't like is having to go out in the rain to have a cigarette. One reason why she'd never move to Ohio. Of course, if she'd just quit, it wouldn't matter either way.

*All photos from Flickr and linked to their home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Drawing of the Day

This is the first part of a drawing that I'll probably finish this week sometime.banishAt the moment it's just a loose sketch, using a 5h pencil (very hard lead). I'll probably use a softer pencil tomorrow and get a bit more detail in before I start inking it.

Winter Break

Now that the semester's over I've got a bit of free time. I say free, but most of it's already spent, like credit, with tasks I've been putting off until now.
deskThe most obvious one is cleaning. The condo has rarely been clean since I've lived here (though it truly has been once or twice) but it's not been clean at all since Matt moved in. This isn't to say that he's more of a slob than I am (he's not, trust me) it's just that the two of us now have so much stuff that we can't seem to figure out what to do with it all. Things were slowly getting better but over the last couple weeks my areas specifically, my studio desk, my side of the bed etc. have been piling up as I've not taken the time to put things away. Now that I have a bit more time I can get caught up on laundry and get my work space cleared once again.

scarfIt will be nice to have a clean living space, but this is less pressing than a few projects I need to complete. One is the Vindicator website. I've been meaning to get this started for a year and a half, and now I finally have the time and the lack of excuses to hopefully get it up and running. Once I'm done with that I've promised to make a website for Matt's sister Jen, who knits funky-cool to elegant purses, scarves and accessories. If I finish that and still have some time left over I'd like to start redoing my own website. I think the basic look is ok for now, nice and simple, but it desperately needs a logo of some kind and the gallery is badly in need of updating.

I'd also like to start cleaning up my computer desktops, and synchronize my laptop and desktop as much as possible. Matt just purchased a 500 GB hard drive and is making a larger server out of it. Once that's done I'll back up all the data on both computers and be better able to figure out what should be on which. I'll also be able to finally sit down and rip all ourserver music onto the server and my desktop so we can listen to anything whenever we want. Matt says he can hear the difference in quality between CD and mp3, I guess I can too, but I don't really mind. We'll be keeping the CDs anyway, but this way we'll have semi-permanent versions of all our music.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Over!

As of today, the semester is over for me. I'll start normal posting again tomorrow once I've had some sleep. Until then, here's a picture of Matt playing with his computers (Chyna's helping).mac

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Not a Drawing

I made this little creature while riding in the car. If you can't see it, obviously you have no imagination. It's made from the ripped up foam of a coffee cozy.personThen Matt and I went out for pho and I noticed that there was an angry rice ghost watching me from the table.
riceWhen I took its picture it got angrier (is that a word? actually he looks more scared than angry anyway) and started to disappear.
ricePut it all together now. Angry rice ghost bride thing. I like him (yes him).
creatureI think I need sleep.