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December 8, 2011


November 27, 2011


November 16, 2011


November 11, 2011


November 10, 2011

“It looks like a Buffalo Bill type situation…”

I’m watching The Silence of the Lambs, which is one of two films I’ve been compelled to ‘binge-view’ (as in ‘I just watched this film, and now I’m going to watch it again in its entirety”). In the past I thought I just really liked the film. I’m a bit older now, and find myself trying to pick through those movies and other entertainment experiences that have thoroughly stuck with me – all because I’m currently trying to write something entertaining and ‘brain sticky’, to coin a term.

SO WHY SILENCE OF THE LAMBS?

The film was released when I was 10, and I clearly remember reading a Newsweek article detailing the fact that this hypnotic, extraordinarily violent film had both 1) grossed out most of the viewing public, and 2) thoroughly cleaned up at the Oscars. Neat, I thought. But what I really remember about the article is a very small photo of Anthony Hopkins looking right at the camera with blood all over his face. Wearing a plain (albeit blood splattered) white t-shirt, his arm is held high, ready to strike the viewer with a club.

I had grown up hearing Tony Hopkins name because my parents had visited New York City in the 70’s and had seen Hopkins perform in the Broadway play Equus. In that play, which I understand involves horses, Mr. Hopkins is a psychiatrist. The Newsweek article didn’t mention Equus. BUT here he was again 15 or so years later playing another psychiatrist. AND while the film was obstinately about violent crime and police work, what the character of Hannibal Lector was after was really just… psychology. He spent the better half of the film cajoling Clarice Starling into divulging her deepest, most painful memory because seeing people from that particular perspective was what attracted him to psychology in the first place. He wants to see people for who they are. And if he can’t have that, he’ll eat your face.

Maybe because of all the face-eating involved, I had to work at convincing my folks to allow me to read The Silence of the Lambs novel when I was 14. It would be another year after that before I was allowed to rent the VHS tape (that would have been 1995, four years after it was released). That was the first time I watched it marathon-style, and the trend continues today. And the more I see it, the more I’m utterly horrified by it’s Venus-fly trap ability to use social mores to bring you, unblinking and uncertain, into the physical space typically occupied by the protagonist. That is to say, we are Clarice Starling. All because the characters stare direclty into the camera, which is calming in some scenes, and incredibly unsettling in others. So for now I think that’s why I really like the film; the eye contact. Also the music’s okay.


November 8, 2011


October 28, 2011


October 24, 2011


October 22, 2011


October 19, 2011

Daily Sketch – October 19th, 2011

Ink pen – please excuse the paper lines ~ 30 minutes


October 16, 2011

100th post! Given the time, I’m going to begin adding color and background elements to these. graphite ~ 75 minutes


October 12, 2011


October 3, 2011


October 2, 2011

I started my favorite month off right with a marathon of The Simpson’s always excellent Treehouse of Terror. Thoroughly inspired, I drew this lady with monster hands. ~ 70 minutes


September 29, 2011

Daily Sketch – September 29th, 2011


Death Wish 3: the best urban documentary ever

This movie is awesome.

How do you face danger?  Do you grab a 40 year old, tripod-mounted German machine gun, sans tripod?  Does the U.S. Postal Service ship you high-tech firearms and incredibly destructive military-grade ordinance? Would you befriend-with-benefits your publicly appointed attorney, only to stoically walk away from the burning wreckage that entombs her twisted remains? If that’s just how you roll then maybe Chuck Bronson will greet you with a beer and a smile when you stroll into the pearly gates.  Epic.


September 27, 2011

Gut-Check: FICTION WRITING

I like to write, but rarely finish anything. Recognizing that it’s difficult to get people to read an unfinished, poorly spelled heap of random thoughts, I’m developing some storytelling rules I need to start living by.

RULE 1: HAVE A PLAN

Currently I’m in a protracted period of research and planning for a story idea. Basically it’s Blade Runner but underground. In the past I’ve 1) had an idea I’m incredibly excited about, 2) jumped into writing with enthusiasm and much unfocused intensity, and 3) eventually stopped as the realization dawns that I have no real idea where the narrative is going. Having gone through this cycle a half a dozen times now I’ve decided to switch it up and actually plan out characters, locations, and a story ark prior to beginning writing. So rule one is; have a plan. Or just really, really hope your handful of good ideas will organically grow into a powerful narrative during the writing process. So for me, that means; have a plan.


RULE 2: IDENTIFY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IDEAS AND STORY
So, it’s cool right? I’ll just plan out the story in a simple outline and it will be the sturdy skeleton that all the dialogue and descriptions will hang on.  Because logically, writing a 10 to 20 page outline  has to be easier then penning an entire screenplay or book, right?  If this were math then yes. Yes it would be. But having begun that process over 6 months ago I’ve realized why my previous attempts had all ended with my staring at a monitor, feeling entirely confused. It is because I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing; as it turns out, creating a logical and entertaining narrative is damned difficult, and the length is kinda negligible. So rule two is; identify the difference between ideas and story.

RULE 3: SHUT UP AND DO IT RIGHT

At first glance, rule 2 is much easier then rule 1, because it doesn’t require that I actually create anything. Awesome. So I’ve been reading books on how to develop narrative, books on how the narratives I love were developed, listening to podcasts on how creative type’s plan and execute their work, and reading some sweet wikipedia re-caps of my favorite movies and books. This has been fun, and awfully informative. Time flies though, and looking back over the last couple of months I think I’ve written a total of 2 pages of outline. And about 75% of that was last weekend. So while I’m thrilled that I’m actually figuring out some of the story, I’m wondering if I could have spent that last few months just writing instead. What unexpected gems would I have unleashed if I had been creating instead of researching? Why am I bothering to pursue the academic when I could be gifting the world with my raw, uneducated art? And that brings us to rule 3: shut up and do it right. Art isn’t alchemy, and there’s a balance to strike between my enjoying the thrill of creation, and delivering something palatable to an audience. Simply put, I want to write because I have stories that I want to see read by other people. BUT to get to that point I have a great deal of learning and thinking to do. So while the writing is the really fun part of the process, for me that process needs to first include some research, planning, and the willingness to develop an actual narrative – not just a series of awesome events.

The thought behind all of this is that if you take the time up front to craft a narrative that works in a very short format, it’s likely going to work as something much much bigger. And if I’m honest, big is where I would like to be headed. I do a great deal of downplaying my own abilities, but I recognize that I have the wherewithal to learn, the willingness to change when something isn’t working, and the desire to see good narrative set to print. My stories need to be told, and I need to take that as seriously as anything else I choose to create.


September 20, 2011

Realism-be-damned – I like the swiss cheese wrinkles on this gentleman’s shirt. I also like how the sideburns turned out – I sport a pair of my own, but they’re not nearly as dark and impressive.


September 19, 2011

Daily Sketch – September 19th, 2011

 


September 15, 2011

Daily Sketch – September 15th, 2011