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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ozark Empire Fair Art Show Highlights

Goat boy doll

Dino-baby with quilts
Snow Battle featuring William's signature
Clowns of Great Influence
Sea Dragon with Victims and Moon
Most Violent of Show
Sorta Scary

 First of the "Professional Artist" category (see tag)

 Because she had the pizazz, the sheer audacity, to spill out over the mat

You can't go wrong with a Pug Portrait


Doubly sweet once you learn that it's "REBA"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why it’s OK to like stupid crap like Transformers 3

One thing that is often forgotten—especially by critics, English majors, etc—is that movies, like comic books, are actually visual forms before they are narrative forms (you can have wordless comics/movies, but not imageless ones). Unfortunately, most people judge movies and comics by the same limited criteria used for novels and short stories, ignoring the visual element, or even condemning it in a strange mutation of some lingering strain of cultural Puritanism: it's just pretty, it's eye candy, etc. These people deprive themselves of sensory nutrients that are pleasures as pure as any clever plot twist or great character development: a brilliant panel or page by Moebius or Jack Kirby, Quitely or Koike—hell, even Ernie Bushmiller. I suspect they're also unlikely to fully grok a gorgeous film shot by Tarkovsky or Kurosawa, although they will give it props because it has widely recognized intellectual cache.

In the name of this death-grip on traditional narrative, people walk out of movies like Tree of Life and The Fountain, or shift into that clownery that germinated in my generation’s high-school intellectual gutter: “You gotta be stoned to watch (or listen to) Pink Floyd: The Wall, man.” In other words, if you can’t box it up neatly in clear intellectual terms, it must be down the rabbit hole, in Stoner World.  (Even though there’s nothing particularly difficult about deciphering the symbolism in The Wall—it's seminal, but not subtle.)

They forget that some things can't be conveyed in words. Yes, there are narratives implied in montage, and yeah, Transformers movies are dumbass attempts at regular narrative, but there's also pure joy in the brand of visual adventure that can't be had anywhere but a good, rollicking dorkfaced Hollywood blockbuster. The same goes for martial arts movies or amusement park rides. Thrills that tilt the senses and push us to project ourselves into new perspectives, unheard-of velocities, near-miracles of plummeting, skidding, rushing, sight-and-sound gluttony. Sure, it’s spoon-feeding for the imagination, and sure, it may overlap uncomfortably with the definition of pornography, but what are we, sensory ascetics?

Is this a jab at movies that tell substantial, literary stories about complex human characters? No way. Do I like all balls-to-the-wall special effects movies? Not even close—I don't bother with most of them. The John Cusack movie 2012 was hamhandedly weak, and The Golden Compass, which I wanted to like, was a CGI-varnished rough draft with no visual heft. Do I like all comics? Only a relative few, usually requiring both writing and art to be original and interesting. Does everything need intellectual content? Nope—not Nancy comic strips, not the landscape of Yellowstone, not Michael Bay. Sometimes I just get tired of all the pompous internet chatter complaining about how idiotic Transformers movies make America stupid—as if these people don’t wax poetic about food, dance, sex, or any number of other topics which are as intellectually indefensible as they are goldmines of sensory glee. Most armchair film critics also tend to spend way too much time evaluating actors acting, even though their commentary on cinematography was likely limited to one word, such as “beautiful,” or “sweeping.” It’s possible that they’re trying not to spoil the surprises in store for your eyes. It’s more likely that they’re drawn to movies by their cult-of-personality celebrity worship/jealousy. It’s just funny that criticism for a visual medium is so visually impoverished.

I just watched a documentary on PBS called Sweetgrass, which had no narration and no real thrust other than to follow cowboys as they herded sheep across Montana. There's actually nothing to it but landscape and lifestyle, plus some details of animal husbandry most folks will find harsh, but it's a brilliant pictorial account, and contains barely five ideas. But as a world, you can lose yourself in it.

That's my best defense of Transformers 3—I liked it so much, I may go see it again in 3D.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Potato Triumphant

Hope this makes you feel better.

Then again, if potatoes were this active, we might feel really bad eating them.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rogue Boweling

Shit-and-runners prefer Angel Soft tissue

 Why the persistence of human scat in my work zone? Twice in two weeks, in the exact same spot. This time I'm not cleaning it up. Maybe at least they'll step in it during the next dump. Take that, Mr. Rogue Boweling.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Robotech Theme, Galvanize Me

It was approximately junior high, and it may have been the days of my mom’s second mental health catastrophe. My dad took long out-of-state trips to work cattle for big ranches. I had to wake up at 6:00 am to feed cattle and horses before school. It’s hard to remember much from those days, but I do remember that I usually watched the beginning of David Letterman (NBC) each night, and we didn’t own a VCR yet, so I was pretty wasted when 6 am rolled around.

The way I recall this, it was wintertime and still quite dark. After a while, I’d developed the anticipatory alarm kung-fu of waking up at 5:59 so I could shut off the buzzer the moment it rang. Still, I was pretty zonked and not remotely excited about going out in the cold to feed animals I didn’t really like. If there was one thing I’d learned, it was that cattle seemed to time their digestion to intersect with feeding time, so that the sight of me approaching with feed cranked a herd’s bowels into shitting unison. It was like, “Hey, here it comes, make room for more.”

I didn’t drink coffee, so I would turn on my little TV, as it was time for Robotech, one of the first anime shows to cross into America. As far as I could tell, it was three different shows, set in three different eras, sort of like if they ran original Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine all under one title. The first series, which I liked, focused on a soap opera romance with an Earth invasion backdrop; the second, which I didn’t care for, revolved around someone named Dana and giant aliens called Zentraedi; the third was my favorite—it was about  a few resistance fighters coming back from a Mars colony to reclaim Earth from evil aliens called The Invid, which looked like giant armored crabs, sort of. The only thing you really need to know, though, is that Robotech had over-the-top theme music that gave me a little boost into will-to-live territory. Once the TV was on, I could soak up the energetic, martial tune, then get dressed. I can still visualize the fighter jet rotating at the opening of the show, the flashing anime graphics and glassy sound effects. After a minute or so, it helped me shake off my grogginess and get my ass out to do chores.

A couple of years later I had the music on vinyl, which absolutely cements my Robotech theme wake-ups as the pinnacle of my nerdhood, not to mention cementing junior high as the absolute peak of human misery. If ever there was a time that justified escapism, that was it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When Fireworks Were King

Once upon a time, fireworks were the top thing in my life. From about second grade through fourth or fifth, I continuously smuggled a little mail-order fireworks catalog in my bookbag. I studied it every chance I got—on the bus, in class, at home. I wore the thing out. I knew all the names and prices. If I was lucky I would have about 20 bucks to spend by the time June rolled around, and I think I even sent cash in the mail once or twice, but my fireworks came.

Bottle Rockets (this was clearly how I learned how many are in a "gross." Ground Flower. Garden in Spring. Tanks. Bang Snaps. Starball Contribution. Why the hell was it called "contribution"? I wasn't really into fountains, but king of all the fireworks—the ones I could afford—was Friendship Pagoda. I always bought one, as the finale. It was the best.
Sometimes it didn't pop all the way up, so you might have to help it. You might burn your little fingers stretching it out, but when you were done—goddamn, it's a cool little building!

You just had to hope this didn't happen: