LOST Withdrawl, Philosophy, and the Thing About the Giant Four-Toed Foot

July 11, 2008

Ahhhhhhh. How long must I wait for the next season of LOST. I can’t take it! I have been able to get my fix vicariously through a co-worker who has started renting the LOST DVD’s and stops by often to give us updates on what’s going on. She’s nearing the end of the 3rd season already, how we all wish we could watch ’em again — for the first time.

What do they say about naivite? Ignorance in bliss, but any creature that knows it is ignorant would never choose to stay ignorant. I.E., a pig is only happy because it doesn’t know what it is missing. Wow. I probably just destroyed decades of philosophy, so I’l go look it up … ah … here we go:

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party of the comparision knows both sides.” -John Stuart Mill

Anyway … I digress. Knowing what I know about LOST, I would kill to be able to watch it over again.

LOST “Live Together, Die Alone” Season 2 Conclusion

Which brings me to the foot thing. That four-toed foot at the end of Season 2 — weird right? A few things we already know about the foot (via the LOST rumor factory

  1. It was previously supposed to have six toes (either because ABC thought 6 was “weird”, or that it was hard to tell the foot has six toes as opposed to five).
  2. “The statue may be in reference to a story “Headlong Hall” by Thomas Love Peacock, chapter 4 notes: ‘Here you see is the pedestal of a statue, with only half a leg and four toes remaining: there were many here once. When I was a boy, I used to sit every day on the shoulders of Hercules: what became of him I have never been able to ascertain.’ (Lostpedia)
  3. (I can’t find the citation to this one anymore), but in discussions with writer/producers there was a hint that the foot is allegedly a visual pun that references a physics or philosophy author by the name of “Foot”, or “Foote”

Anyway.  I was going through my old photography books and came across this:

It’s a photo entitled “Near The Hermitage” by Boris Ignatovich a communist-era Russian artist known as an “extreme realist”.  The photo itself is of one of the giant statues in New Hermitage, St. Petersburg.  One of four massive Atlas statues that hold up the Museum roof.  Now ya know.

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Plushie DIY

June 26, 2008

Sounds gross right?  Sounds like one of those things they do an MTV Doc on … “True Life:  I’m a Plushie”. Don’t worry, it’s not. 

I’m talking bout plushie art here.  Sort of where the neo Arts & Crafts movement (ah-la Renegade) and collectible toy enthusiasts (ah-la Rotofugi) merge.  There’s also a sprinkling of Cute Overload in there too.

Anyway, I’d highly recommend checking out the DIY Plush Custom Exhibit and Launch Party at the Rotofugi Gallery this Friday, June 27th.   Local and national artists will display their decorated (and most-likely adorable) plush toy creations.  Think of it like that ridiculous “Chicago Cows” thing a couple years back but smaller, cuter, and more tasteful.


MS Paint: All That’s Good and Right in the World

June 19, 2008

I have a mild obsession and strong affinity for Microsoft’s barebones “Paint” application.  Found on all Windows OS computers, but oft neglected, the program forces you to take advantage of the advantages it has (streching pixels obsenely wide), and improvise with the features is lacks (layers, masking, photo-editing, history brush, almost everything else).

Here are some of my favorite MS efforts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photobucket
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Slams Sans Snaps: Young Chicago Author’s “Louder Than A Bomb”

March 9, 2007

Originally posted on the NBC 5 Streeteam here: http://nbc5streetteam.wordpress.com/2007/03/09/slams-sans-snaps-young-chicago-authors-louder-than-a-bomb/

I’ve never actually asked a performer directly if snapping at poetry is world’s longest-running false cliché — it very well might be. I hope so… I’ve never ever learned how to snap. Thankfully, my inability to perform simple motor skills did not ruin the weekend.

The non-profit Young Chicago Authors organization held their annual Louder Than a Bomb Chicago Teen Poetry Slam, and the crowd was all screams, claps, laughter, cheers and occationally, when a crap judge (like me) gave a low score, chants of “LISTEN TO THE POEM!!!”.

“Listen To The Poem”, I quickly learned, is a sort of a LTaB mantra the kids relish to holler out at lowly judges. Hey… it’s better than flat-out booing. And, as the slam MC’s would continually remind us, it’s not about the points… it’s about the poems. Regardless of what was written on my little dry-erase board, the poems were inspiring.

A few years ago my pal dragged me to Louder Than A Bomb finals (at The Metro that year), and the raw talent and collective energy of the show was infectious. So, when the slam came back ‘round this year, it took slightly less dragging to get me to help out. Eventually (and God knows why) I wound up in the front with a little clipboard, one of five judges ready to rate a “bout” — praying I’d be able to recognize a good poem if and when I heard it.

The opposite occurred. I was so blown away by these kids and their fearless self-expression, exuberance, rhythm and rhyme scheme. I was like, the entire bouts’ proud mother — clapping too long and too loud for everybody who had the guts to take the Columbia stage.

With the semi’s completed earlier this week at The Hothouse, all that’s left is the Cream of the Crop: Teams from all around greater Chicago verbally jousting it out at the Illinois Institute of Technology campus (3201 S. State) tomorrow (Sat 3/10) at 8pm. I HIGHLY recommend checking out the bouts… if only for the sheer energy and lack of snapping.

In the meantime, check out Chicago Public Radio for soundbites from last year’s winners


The Day Downers Grove Was Awesome.

November 9, 2006

In what some would consider to be an unfortunate event in itself, I rolled out of bed at 6:30am on a Saturday to head to the western suburbs and catch a children’s book celebration. Ouch.

Why would someone do this? Well, the book was the 13th and final installment of A Series of Unfortunate Events by reclusive author Lemony Snickett, along with the musical accompaniment of The Gothic Archies.


ROCK AND ROLL!!!!

But enough with the pseudonyms. Snickett (who’s never been seen) is the penname of the mordantly funny and slightly effeminate Daniel Handler. The Gothic Archies is the most recent nom-de-plum of Stephin Merritt. The prolific singer/ songwriter/ producer/ collaborator that has made fantastic albums under the names Future Bible Heroes, The 6ths, and most recognizably the Magnetic Fields.

I had no knowledge of the Unfortunate Events series (except for the some semblance of a Jim Carrey film) until Anderson’s Bookshop hooked me up with a copy of the book. Despite being utterly clueless, the opportunity to see (and ideally meet) the seldom-touring Merritt was too much of an opportunity to pass up.

It was obvious, as we waited in a line that curved around the block, that Merritt was an obscure footnote in this J.K.Rowling-esque obsession. The cue was mostly made up, as I assumed, of youth — all clutching their new Snickett book. Well… youth, their parents, a smattering of hipsters and Carol Marin. Some of the kids were dressed as characters from the novel… mostly Violet: the eldest of the polite, book-loving orphan protagonist Baudelaire children.

At 9:30 the doors opened and people started heading into The Tivoli Theatre — a gorgeous restored movie house. Merritt and Handler simultaneously took the stage, but it was definitely Handler’s show. He strode to centerstage and gleefully introduced Mr. Lemony Snickett with a sweeping gesture and a swell of applause. As the clapping subsided and no one emerged from the curtains the elders in the crowd who were “in” on the joke let out a little snicker. The kids were less jovial about the ordeal and disappointed that the Tivoli marquee, “Welcome Lemony Snickett”, was an out-and-out lie.

Handler then suggested the crowd should do the “Peter Pan thing” and applaud SO loud that Snicket should magically appear. The kids put in an honest second-effort but would quickly learn that Handler takes delight in disappointing children for the sake of entertainment –- a hobby shared by the author’s delightfully evil antagonist, Count Olaf.

“HONESTLY! Why would he [Snickett] lie to children!!!?,” Handler mused loudly, grabbing one of his books from the hands of an aisle-seated youth. “…Aside from the fact that it’s easy. And fun.” The kids, at some point, were also in on the joke and took delight in Handler’s antics and boisterous delivery — even when the content of his quips were well over their heads.


Really bad photo of Merritt (right) and Snickett’s untouched drumkit (left).

Amidst this highly-animated meanness, Merritt plucked the ukelee to the tune of his new Gothic Archies songs (an album which dedicates a song to each of Snickett’s thirteen books.) Between Handler’s silliness, the author would pick up his accordion to join Merritt in their songs. Merritt, who played the straightman to all of Handler’s hi-jinks, played very little and sang even less.

The Gothic Archies album, The Tragic Treasury: Songs from A Series of Unfortunate Events was TECHNICALLY co-written by Merritt and Snickett. But truth be told, Handler plays the accordion pretty well. In fact, Handler played keyboard and accordion on Merritt’s biggest success to date — The Magnetic Fields’ massive pop genre-hopper 69 Love Songs.

Live, the diminutive Merritt’s voice is striking, a most unnatural baritone that resonated throughout the cinema. His foreboding (and sometimes nearly comical) delivery fits perfectly in Snickett’s playfully gloomy world. Sometimes buried in studio wizzardy or lo-fi recordings, Merritt’s vocals in-person were powerful — most remarkably on their song “This Abyss”.

Merritt exited mid-show in a staged fit of embarrassment, as Handler complained aloud about the musician’s “incessant one-chord strumming”. The author then dragged two volunteers out of the crowd to use percussive instruments. Handler thrust a noise-maker at the older volunteer saying, “Here. Hold this. And when I give the signal, throttle it like a baby.”

At this point, with Merritt definitely not coming back, my entourage began to sneak back to the lobby in the hopes of talking to the reclusive artist. Not that I had anything logical to say to him. After blinking at eachother for a second, Merritt dead-panned “It’s too early.” It was. It wasn’t even noon in rainy Downers Grove. And when I realized how burned-out I was, I imagined Stephin, with the tour not half over, traveling and playing second fiddle (read: ukelee) every morning at 10, he must be flat-out exhausted. In the spirit of the celebration, Merritt told me to frown for a picture. He then signed my pal’s CD, writing “Beware of Brian. Brian is a spy.” He’s on to me.


Stephin It’s-Too-Early Merritt: “Frown. Frown. Frown. Frown.”

Elsewhere in the Tivoli, famed author & graphic novelist Neil Gaiman was shaking hands and signing autographs too. An unexpected but exciting addition to the days events. I personally didn’t know who Gaiman was, but the level of “freaked-outedness” that my friend displayed told me that the guy was kind of a big deal.

That said, the trip out to Da Burbs was well worth it. Though Merritt’s stage time was minimal, Handler was able to keep the attention of people with a near-zero attention span – that being me, my friends, and a crowd of 10 year olds.


Scaring Small Children