Monday, January 15, 2018

Zen in the Art of Moving Targets

There were a couple of new movies from last week and one new book. I hadn't planned on watching Darkest Hour, but a last minute invitation wasn't going to be turned down. The movie was good, the fellow patrons were horrible and the popcorn was disgusting. Did I mention the movie was good? The movie was good but it just reiterates how a movie can be much better enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. The couple who came in five minutes after the movie started decided to sit right behind me. The woman kicked the back of my chair the entire time and her companion, throughout the whole movie, kept asking, what did they say? Of course she would respond in more than a whisper. People ruin EVERYTHING!  But the movie was good.
The other new, to me, movie was Moving Target.

For some reason I can't find a trailer for this movie, but there are about a zillion other movies with this same title. This was recommended by someone who I suspect now has a man-crush on Jason Bateman. I talked a bunch of my friends into watching the show Ozark and now some of them think Jason Bateman is the bees knees. Most of us have known this since the TV show Silver Spoons. He was also on Little House on the Prairie but I can't stand that show so we won't mention it anymore. Point is, Jason Bateman is great and I'm glad people are now realising that. This particular movie has all the workings of an 80s cliche. Tom Skerrit, Bernie Coulson, John Glover and Jack Wagner, in all his feathered hair glory, are in this action/cheese fest. It also has Chynna Phillips (Wilson Phillips Hold On Chynna Phillips) and Donna Mitchell who plays the creepiest mom.  Bateman's character, Toby Kellogg, is the keyboard player in a totally awesome band but he's being sent away to band camp for gifted musicians.  Phillips's character is his replacement until Toby comes back from camp. Toby doesn't want to go to camp and his family are a bunch of a-holes so he leaves camp and goes home only to find out that everybody's gone. They moved out and didn't leave him a new address or phone number to reach them.  To most kids his age this would have been a dream come true.  Hooray, the a-holes vanished!  Unfortunately for Toby he still wants to be part of the family so his search for them turns dangerous and deadly.  Even with the heavy 80s cliches this was a pretty decent movie. 
The book for this week, Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.  This was recommended by a painter who suggested that a painter simply needs to transpose painting for writing and the advice works the same.  This is a book of collected essays and poems written by Bradbury on the topic of writing and it's phenomenal. He writes about all of the trials and tribulations that everyone has gone through at some point in their life but, without being preachy and sounding like a motivational poster, he inspires.  He doesn't ever say, if you want to be a good writer you have to do A, B and C.  He simply tells his story and then tells how he used his experiences instead of being a "victim" to them.  If you're not a writer you'll want to be after reading this. If you can put yourself in his shoes and change writing to whatever your passion is you'll enjoy this book. If you're not looking for advice or inspiration it's still a good book.  

Monday, January 8, 2018

It's All New

Interior Sketch 5x7" ink on paper
Last week's weather allowed me to watch several new movies, but only get half way through a new book. It felt weird at first, like I was forcing myself to do something. It's probably what people who decide to diet and exercise every year feel like.  It's something you know you should do but are apprehensive because the old ways are comfortable and familiar.

The first movie I watched was Bad Channels.  I asked friends for suggestions and this was the first one I got. I think they know I'm a fan of the movies they used to play on USA's Up All Night and thought I'd enjoy it. I did, most of it. It was a fun surprise to see Martha Quinn in the movie.  If you were a child of the 80s you know Martha Quinn was one of the original MTV VJ's. In this movie she plays a news anchor and isn't horrible at it. The movie itself is fairly cheesy but it's fun. The most annoying part was the video breaks.  Blue Oyster Cult is responsible for the music in the movie and every time the aliens captured someone we got a music video to go along with it. It's your typical, cry wolf, story. The radio station's shock jock is doing one of his famous stunts but when aliens land and take over the studio nobody believes him because they think he's doing his own version of War of the Worlds or something. You won't walk away feeling any smarter after watching this but you might get a few laughs from it. 

Smash up: The Story of a Woman is quite the departure from the first movie. This was a particularly cold day so I just turned on the TV to see what was on and TCM was playing some gems.  I've never even heard of this movie before but I was hooked from the start. It's a story about two performers. At the start the woman is more prominent and the man is just getting his footing in the business. She helped him out and they fell in love, got married and had a baby. That's all great at first but then his career takes off and she becomes really insecure. In modern terms; he turns into a complete asshole and works non-stop with a two-bit hussy which only drives his poor wife to become an alcoholic. It's awful.  Susan Hayward plays the wife, Angie Conway, Lee Bowman plays Ken Conway, Marsha Hunt plays Martha Gray (the two-bit hussy) and Eddie Albert plays Steve Nelson. I rarely root for the damsel in distress but this time I was ready to punch some Martha Gray into black and blue for Angie. In the end Martha admits that she loves Ken and purposely tried to drive a wedge between Ken and Angie. She did devious and hurtful things to make it appear like they were together as a couple, knowing full well that her antics drove Angie to drink even more. What a horrible human being that Martha Gray. Don't be Martha Gray. 

Couldn't find a proper trailer for Fifth Avenue Girl so this clip will have to do.  Ginger Rogers, what a sassy pants, I LOVE HER!  This is a fun movie but dang what was wrong with people back in the day? This movie is from the late 30s and the previous was from the 40s and man if there aren't a lot of stories about people playing devious, vicious games with each other. This one is about a VERY wealthy man who isn't getting the attention at home that he feels he needs.  He meets this young girl in the park and cooks up a plan to pretend like she's having an affair with him. They go out on the town and go to all of the places to be seen so people will talk. He even moves her into his house where his wife and two, young adult, children live. It's funny because the viewer is in on the joke but could you imagine this playing out in real life? Horrible!  It is a fun movie and maybe next year I'll watch it again. You know, after I get done with this resolution to watch all new movies. 
This is the book I only got halfway through. Perhaps I couldn't finish it all last week after watching those two movies. Too many people doing too many bad things, it was kind of weighing on my optimism for a great new year.  If you enjoy history this should be up your alley, there's a lot of it. What I've found most interesting, so far, is how history changes. I've had discussions about this before, how do we know who's version of history is correct? Seriously, history depends on who writes it, or even sees it, hears it, retells it.  Even more recent history and unimportant history is questionable. My grandmother, who just turned 89, and her sister can recount a day in their lives, a day they shared together and it's completely opposite. Her sister will remember the great things that happened on that particular day and my grams will tell you all about the "horse shit" that happened.  They're talking about the same exact thing but they experienced it differently so how do you make something like that historically accurate? In this book it even describes how statues and buildings were destroyed so they could use the materials to build something new. So how do we really know what ancient Rome looked like? We don't. Aside from all of that the title is accurate, these people were horrible. How is that possible? One of these bad popes is probably the first person to say, do as I say not as I do, and expect everyone to not question that.  They certainly didn't come up with the golden rule. Hopefully I'll finish this book tonight so I can start reading a less depressing one for this week. 

The last thing I'll share is one of those annoying exercise challenges. I know, what a thing to do.  Since I workout every day already it's not like I'm jumping on a bandwagon, but hey if jumping on a bandwagon gets you healthy then go for it.  Anywho, I was looking up something on the internet and one of those annoying sidebars came up with a story about a girl who did 100 squats every day for two weeks. I was intrigued to read what she thought about it.  Spoiler alert, she said she saw no visible results from doing "air squats". (air squats just means that she wasn't holding any weights).  The next article was from a different girl who said she did a two minute plank every day for two weeks. She said she saw results so I thought I'd give it a try, after all who can't do a two minute plank? Right? HOLY CRAP! I set the timer on my phone and I started out. I thought it wouldn't be enough of a challenge so I decided to do a plank on my indo board. So I'm all ready to go, hit the start button and I think I'm kicking ass, it's too easy.  I had only gone 40 seconds when I realised I was being way too cocky. This was no joke.  I don't know if I'll look like He-Man after two weeks but I know my goal is to go all two minutes before I beg for it to be over. At the rate I'm going it might take me until next year to get to that point. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Resolution Post

Sparklers ink on Bristol 
This is the time of year when everyone pretends to reflect on all that happened over the last 364 days and profess how much they've learned from it. Honestly I couldn't tell you what happened last week on this day so I'm not going to pretend anything.  For me, I filled my year with friends, dogs, paint, lots of paint and lots of good experiences. I wouldn't mind a repeat performance for 2018 with 2017 being the dress rehearsal. A play and its actors will often get better with each performance and that's the way I'm looking at each new year from here on out.
So next year, tomorrow, I'm starting in on some new goals.  Recently a friend of mine and I were talking about movies that we've seen a gillion times.  If it's on TV we watch it, if we have the DVD we watch it. If it's on Netflix, hey why not? I hate to admit it but I do the same thing with books. Thinking on it I get the feeling that it has to do with being comfortable with the familiar. I would rather read Le Mis 5280 times before I took a chance on a bad book. Just yesterday the conversation came up about a book that was critically acclaimed and won all sorts of awards but it's actually a really horrible book. I'm afraid to waste my time and money on that. So the goal this year is to give a bad book a chance. This year I'm setting a goal to watch one new, to me, movie and read a new book every week. This sounds like it shouldn't be that hard to do but you don't understand that I'm getting old and set in my ways that I don't really enjoy taking chances on how I spend my free time. It's my time and I want to enjoy the things I do during that time.  But here's to hoping I find 52 good books and movies.
Work goals are a little different this year. In 2017 I had two solo shows and was in several group shows.  I'll be in another group show in February 2018, participate in plein air competitions and have been commissioned for a couple of large paintings. Right now I'm working on finishing illustrating a comic book written by Jade D'Adrenz, who's also a fabulous musician,  and I have a meeting next week to see about illustrating a children's book. It seems like 2018 may be filled with story telling and I'm actually looking forward to it.
So for 2018 you can expect books and movie reviews, more inktober, and all the other random things that go on inside the chaos. As for the rest of it, I'd just like to continue to keep a positive outlook on life and all of its quirks.
I wish you all a happy and healthy 2018.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Favourite Christmas Movies

There is always a lot of debate over certain movies and whether or not they're actually Christmas movies.  Die Hard much? Gremlins is one of my favourites to watch at Christmas time. The movie takes place at Christmas, it's based on Billy getting a mogwai for Christmas. How much more Christmas can you get? 

Ghostbusters really isn't a Christmas movie and there's no real Christmas theme throughout like in Gremlins, however I found myself watching it one year while making Christmas cookies and it stuck.  Now I watch it every year while making cookies. It's a fun movie and I'd rather watch a fun one than a depressing traditional movie. 

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.  This is one that not everyone knows about but if you find someone who's familiar you get to reminiscing.  
The Thin Man is another one that takes place during Christmas but isn't necessarily a Christmas movie. I still like to watch it during the holidays.

You might be shocked to see who stars in some of the other versions of this story (Keanu Reeves), but this one is my favourite.  Frankie and Annette are great together, but Ed Wynn makes anything worth watching. He played the perfect toy maker and Ray Bolger the perfect villain. 
There are a ton more. This time of year is great for sitting inside and watching movies so you could make any a new tradition. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Favourite Christmas Songs

Silver Bells has always been one of my go to Christmas songs. When I sat down to make this list it was the first and then I had to stop to think why. It's always been one of my favourites, but why? It's the lyrics.  They're describing everything that's enjoyable about Christmas.  It's all about how we should be during this festive time of year. 
"Strings of street lights, even stoplights
Blinkin' bright red and green
As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch
This is Santa's big day
And above all this bustle you hear
Silver bells…"

The Christmas Song is another favourite for the same reason. It describes what Christmas was like when I was a child. We did sneak to see if Santa Claus really came down the chimney. I knew it was all made up when I asked how the fat bastard could fit in the chimney and not burn his ass. I was given a load of malarkey about Santa having a key to the front door. 

It's quite possible your Christmas didn't sound like this but that's why I'm sharing these songs. This is fabulously 80s and this is what Christmas sounded like for me when I was a kid. It's kind of an oddball song if you try to translate it. It's a song about the fish anxiously awaiting the birth of Jesus. Considering the Catholic church makes us eat fish on Fridays you'd think the fish wouldn't be too excited about all of the religious goings on. 

Again, this one is a fav simply because the lyrics are so uplifting. Well, that and ANDY WILLIAMS. 
Sorry, you gotta watch this next clip to fully understand. 

This is the pièce de résistance.  Has anyone ever asked you the question, if there could only be one album in the world which would you choose? Surely I'd pick an Iron Maiden album but NOPE, this is it right here. I love love love love this. You don't even need the dancing rats, unless you want them. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Few of My Favourite Things

Ink drawing of one of my favourite restaurants. 
It always seems like this time of year everyone gets nostalgic or filled with anxiety. Nostalgic for the fun times, anxious for the stress over getting together for the holidays. Why do people stress out over spending time with family?  If your family is that bad then just stay home and watch the Christmas Story marathon. Or you could even watch the sequel. Can you believe there's a sequel!!? I had no idea until last year and I still wasn't really believing what I was seeing. Here's the link to the trailer for it if you don't believe me.
As Christmas is quickly approaching I'm feeling more nostalgic than anxious so I'll share some of my favourite gifts I've received over the years. There are a lot more but who has time for that....

  • Shel Silverstein's books.  Is it just me or is Shel Silverstein outdoing Tupac with the amount of stuff put out after he's passed away? 
  • Cashmere Scarf  I'll admit I probably own more scarves than should be allowed but I use them all, not at the same time, but they all get used.  
  • Tales From the Crypt Vol. 1-3 and Archies Archives Vol 1-13  and about a gillion other books that I'll gladly share the names of if you're really interested. 
  • Roller Skates roller skating was a big deal when I was a kid and I wanted my own pair so I could skate wherever and whenever. I moved onto a much cooler skateboard but I still fondly remember the roller skates.
  • Jumper Cables. This sounds pretty lame but I'm actually grateful to have them. I've only used them once since I got them as a gift and it wasn't because I needed them, someone else left their lights on and needed a jump. Thanks to the jumper cables I was able to help some stranger out. What I liked about the gift is that I would never go out and buy jumper cables for myself, I have AAA and Jeep roadside assistance, why would I go buy jumper cables? It was a good gift to get and they're still in my car in case of an emergency. 
Like the title says, those are just a few of my favourite things. I could have listed my least favourite things, that might have been more fun. There's still time, I might, but for now I'm sticking to favourites. Next up will be favourite Christmas songs and movies, followed by favourite cookies and food.

Monday, November 27, 2017

There's Right and There's Wrong

"There's right and there's wrong. You got to do one or the other. You do the one and you're living. You do the other and you may be walking around, but you're dead as a beaver hat".  The westerns may be cheesy, rotten soap operas for men but they don't lack for nuggets of wisdom.
About 13 years ago a woman I worked with gave me some houseplants. At the time I was so excited. What a grown up thing to have, houseplants.  It never occurred to me that I was so sentimenatl until one of them started dying on me. Honestly, I took a houseplant for granted. The sad thing was I was perfectly capable of going out and buying a new one, but the fact that it was a gift from this woman, I felt bad for letting it wilt and wither away. So I held onto it, dead leaves and all.
People would come to my house and comment on it. Some would joke and say stuff like; I don't think it will get any browner or maybe your plant is dead? I knew I should have thrown it out but I just held onto it and kept watering it. I finally talked myself into buying a new one.  I had fully planned on digging out the "dead" one and placing the new one in the old planter. I still couldn't bring myself to get rid of the crusty old plant. I continued to water both. Why? Still not sure, other than I wasn't ready to give up on this houseplant that had been a part of my life for so long. Seriously, it sounds crazy, I know. It's just a houseplant, right?  Obviously it's a lot more to me than just a houseplant as I never gave up hope that it would turn around. Weeks went by and the stems dried up more and more every day. I still kept watering, never losing faith that I'd get my plant back.
Last week I noticed this. There are three new, fresh leaves growing among the old dried up leaves. It's a start and a testament to never losing hope for something you want badly enough. I'm glad I didn't give up on this plant and I hope I have it at least another 13 years.