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Fri, May. 8th, 2009, 05:03 pm
Time Sink and Etcetera

As I'm sitting here eavesdropping and sipping my sugar water (is it really eavesdropping if someone runs their mouth almost non-stop at an elevated volume for an hour and a half?), it occurs to me that being a teacher must be about the worst job in the world. It's one thing to have to deal with disinterested or otherwise distracted students, but to have to deal with their parents too? I guess I've become a lot less tolerant recently of people who want to tell you about every problem in the world, but don't have any solutions (or aren't willing to work to fix them). Instead of nitpicking over punctuation examples in an English workbook, maybe find a better book and then try to find funding to pay for the replacements. Be proactive! If something is worth enough of your attention to complain about, then it's worth enough of your time to fix. If it's not worth your time to fix, then please stop eating everyone's time with your whining. If you can identify a problem, and deliver a solution to those that are in charge of such things, you will magically become a Person Who Gets Things Done. And that's a good kind of person to be. *****

Mon, Feb. 9th, 2009, 10:05 pm
Catching Up

First things first, I've got an art blog called Ink Is My Perfume. Unfortunately, it's my art that I'm focusing on, but if you want to keep up with the work I'm doing, I think that's where I'll be talking about it. There are some ink drawings right now, some prints (with more of both coming), and I might start doing features on other artists that I like. So feel free to check that out.

I've spent a lot of the last month or so catching up on reading. Winter is often a period of hibernation for me, intellectually speaking. There are a lot of reasons for that, but my brain turns into a candy-coated peanut butter M&M, into which nothing may enter. Instead of wanting to curl up next to a fire with a good book, I just want to curl up. Books have been piling up, movies go unseen, games go unplayed. Comic books are the true benchmark - I realized I needed to spent some time catching up when I saw that I had six unread issues of Ghost Rider sitting. And that was hardly the only series I was drastically behind on (I think I've also got five unread issues of Jack Staff right now too, as well as two 100 Bullets TPBs).

So what have I read recently? In terms of actual books, I knocked off both Bruce Campbell's Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way and Bill Maher's New Rules. Maher's book was pretty worthless, being just a reprinting of his rants from his TV show. Why do comedians always do that? Campbell's book was really, really funny. I found myself laughing out loud several times, which rarely happens with prose. I've also polished off a handful of TPBs. Here's the quick versions: The Vinyl Underground vol. 1 was an inferior version of The Invisibles, but still okay. I'm split on whether I'll pick up the 2nd volume. Young Liars was classic David Lapham, but it nailed the shittiness of how 20-somethings treat one another so well that it brought up unpleasant memories, and I felt yucky for the rest of the day. Scott Pilgrim vol. 5 was also well-done, but it's kind of a downer book, and I didn't enjoy it as much as the previous four volumes. It was still good, and I'm still on board. Lastly, I read The Burma Chronicles, and it was just as good as Guy Delisle's other two travel-inspired books, which is to say totally awesome. I still marvel at his cartooning style, and how he's able to be so descriptive with such a simple style.

In the floppies department, I finished reading Rick Veitch's second Army@Love mini-series (issues 4-6). What an insane book. I'm not going to say much else than that. I was blown away by the left turn the series took, and I mean that as the highest compliment. The other one that I immediately remember reading is Mike Allred's Madman Atomic Comics, issues 11-13. He's always been one of my favorite artists, and this series is damned near unbelievably good. I don't even know what else to say about the series. Allred's artwork continues to evolve, and the comic is usually worth the cover price just to ogle the art. I'm going to have to sit down with the entire thing soon and re-read it, because it's been so easy to just go along and get sucked into the visuals.

Well, that's all for now. Catch you later, and don't forget to check out my art blog!


Mon, Jan. 5th, 2009, 12:48 am
Clay's Top Ten Albums of 2008

Since I mentioned buying the GnR album last week, I figured I'd put together my top albums of the last year. Truth be told, there weren't that many albums that I was super-excited about, and a lot of the ones that had considerable hype behind them disappointed (like the Vampire Weekend album, for instance). There were a lot of albums that I got that were not the best effort by bands that I really like (a seemingly endless list, but headed by uneven albums by Lyrics Born, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Everlast, and Less Than Jake). When it came down to figuring out what I had really liked this year, I had to strain to find ten. I stand by all ten albums, but #11 and beyond either didn't make much of an impression on me, or are far too uneven to recommend as a cohesive unit. Having said that, let's get it on!

10. Metallica - "Death Magnetic" There were a lot of what you might call "veteran acts" releasing new albums this year, and this one is the break point for me. This is a good, loud, fast album. It holds together well. The high points of DM are blistering. But if you're not into Metallica and never have been, there's nothing here that will convince you to change your mind. At least a couple of the songs have joined my permanent workout music collection, and that's worth something.

9. Nikka Costa - "Pebble to a Pearl" A lot of female singers have headed back to the 60's soul sound, and this is the one that I like best of all. This one's a matter of personal choice, but it's a good album in this vein, and unlike others, is not solely for the broken-hearted.

8. The Mighty Underdogs - "Droppin' Science Fiction" This is a backpacker supergroup, I guess you'd say. Comprised of Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Lateef, and Headnodic (Crown City Rockers), The Mighty Underdogs have put together a fun album. I didn't think this album was as good as any of the Blackalicious albums, but this is the 2008 rap album that I listened to most this year, so it earned it's spot.

7. Flight of the Conchords - "Flight of the Conchords" If you don't laugh like a fool at "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)", I'm not sure that we're going to be able to hold a conversation of any importance. When I first saw Flight of the Conchords, I thought to myself, "Hey, that's the guy from the Outback Steakhouse ads." And then, "Why is someone ripping off Tenacious D." But I was wrong. Not about the Outback Steakhouse thing, that was totally him. But it's not a Tenacious D rip-off. It's funny, a duo, and acoustic, but the personalities aren't even in the same ballpark. My only gripe with this album is that it didn't have "Doggy Bounce" on it, but I'll be here waiting for the next album, cash in hand.

6. R.E.M. - "Accelerate" R.E.M.'s always been kind of hit and miss for me. It's not that I don't like them, but to my ear, "Monster" is easily my favorite album they've done, and that puts me at odds with most of their fans. "Accelerate" feels confident and laid back, but rocks kind of harder than I was expecting. Call me crazy, but I like garage band R.E.M. way better than mandolin R.E.M., and this fits the bill.

5. The Gaslight Anthem - "The '59 Sound" It's kind of nice to see the Springsteen influence starting to really pop up (between this album and The Hold Steady, it's being held down quite nicely), and this is a really good album. I want to take a road trip every time I hear this album. You should probably check this out.
4. OST - "The Darjeeling Limited" At this point, Wes Anderson's soundtracks are all the same - old Stones and Kinks, and a few songs with what you might call "local flavor." That doesn't mean that they aren't the greatest mixtapes on Earth. The three Kinks songs here in particular are just amazing, the Stones' "Play With Fire" comes off 10 times more menacing and simultaneously fragile in a different context, and even the Indian music is great. The movie is the definition of melacholy, and while that thread runs through the soundtrack too, there's also a undercurrent of hope that balances things out nicely.
3. The Raconteurs - "Consolers of the Lonely" For my money, "Salute Your Solution" was the single of the year. Nearly a year later, every time I hear it I want to pogo around like a madman. Every single time. If I'm driving, I have to ease up on the gas because I'm sure to find myself going 30 over in a school zone if I don't take it easy. I think Jack White either made a pact with the devil, or kicked the devil in the ass and took over hell for himself, because he makes what he does look so damned easy.
2. The Night Marchers - "See You In Magic" A couple of years ago, Rocket From the Crypt frontman John Reis broke up all of his many bands, and kind off disappeared (musically speaking - his label didn't go under, but once you're used to getting a handful of albums a year from a guy, a year off makes you worry a bit). The Night Marchers' debut is the result of his newly focused attention, and it's at least as good as anything he's done. Loud, surly garage rock, augmented by 50's and 60's rock and soul, and there you go. If you're familiar with any of Reis' previous work, this won't sound drastically different, it'll just sound really freakin' good.

1. Slim Cessna's Auto Club - "Cipher" After a couple of years of somewhat gentle suggestions from my friends to check out Slim Cessna, I finally gave in last year and guess what? They were right. Slim Cessna's Auto Club is one of the most difficult bands to explain how they sound or what they do (I finally figured out to compare them to the Violent Femmes' "Country Death Song," but that still doesn't quite nail it), but it's absolutely riveting and exhilirating. There's elements of a big top revival, of a jug band, of old country music. There's a little bit of gender-bending, but above all, there's great songwriting, and a willingness to confuse and probably even offend listeners. I have no idea how sincere frontmen Slim and Munly are in their religious beliefs (there's a lot of talk about God on any of their albums, and it ranges from praise to demanding that Jesus atone for his sins, namely lying about coming back), and I don't really want to know. They never break character, if in fact that's what they're doing, and that sincerity (and my questions about their sincerity) all give their music a depth that keeps me coming back for more. This is by a mile the one album that I listened to most frequently this year, and it's held up beautifully.

So there you are! I have three albums that I'd like to mention as honorable mentions of sorts. I did get the new Supersuckers album ("Get It Together") that came out in November, but I haven't sat down yet and given it my full attention yet. The (International) Noise Conspiracy released an album in late November, "The Cross of My Calling," and on first listen I really love it. I haven't had the chance to "live with it" though, and I didn't feel comfortable dislodging any of the other ten albums from the list. Lastly, the Obits released a 7" that was flat-out awesome, but a 7" does not an album make. Their debut album comes out this year, and if it's nearly as good as the 7", it'll make my 2009 list without question.

Catch you next time!


Sun, Dec. 28th, 2008, 12:00 am
I bought an actual CD today!

The last week and a half has been a complete nightmare, weather-wise.  Thankfully I have a truck, and even though it was all slow-going and sliding all over the place, at least I could get out of my house when I needed to.  And now that Christmas has passed, I needed to get a little shopping done.  Specifically, I need a calendar.  However, all the bookstore had left was dog/cat ones, and a "Dirty Dancing" calendar.  Lame!

I also bought a CD today, Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy."  There was a time when that wouldn't be noteworthy, but after I got it, I realized that it's been ages since I bought a CD, and that I hardly ever buy CDs anymore.  I used to buy a ton of CDs.  Thinking back, the last CD I bought was the newest Metallica one, and before that it may have been the soundtrack to "The Darjeeling Limited."  The only other one I can think of that I may have bought this year was the second Raconteurs album, which pushes my 2008 total to four CDs.  Don't get me wrong, I still buy a ridiculous amount of music, but it's usually MP3s (I'm a big user of eMusic, and I cherry-pick major-label stuff from Amazon).  Not having to find somewhere to store another dozen or more albums every month is the biggest reason that I rarely buy physical CDs anymore.  I'm sure I'm not the only person who's made the shift, but it hadn't dawned on me how pronounced that shift has been in my music-purchasing habits.  And it's also clear that I need to start saving nickels and dimes so I can get a new Zune or iPod (120 GBs sounds completely awesome!).

And no, I haven't listened to the new GNR yet, but I'm in favor of anything that gets me a free Dr. Pepper.  I do like the single that's been on the radio, and I'm sure I'll listen to the album tomorrow on my way to catching "The Spirit."  I caught "Role Models" a couple of days ago, and I liked it.  I'm in favor of all the people who were in it, so it's not much of a surprise that I would like it.  If you like the people who are in it, I'd definitely say that you wouldn't be disappointed.

Alright, I've been working on the 2nd season of "Psych," and now's as good of a time as any to continue with Shawn and Gus...


Tue, Dec. 16th, 2008, 12:04 am
What does my taste in art say about me?

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Simple, Progressive, and Sensual

10 Ukiyo-e, 5 Islamic, -6 Impressionist, -6 Cubist, -16 Abstract and 0 Renaissance!

Ukiyo-e (浮世絵, Ukiyo-e), "pictures of the floating world", is a genre of Japaneseand paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries. it mostly featured landscapes, historic tales, theatre, and pleasure. Ukiyo is a rather impetuous urban culture that has bloomed in popularity. Although the Japanese were more strict and had many prohibitions it did not affect the rising merchant class and therefore became a floating art form that did not bind itself to the normal ideals of society.

People that chose Ukiyo-e art tend to be more simplistic yet elegant. They don't care much about new style but are comfortable in creating their own. They like the idea of living for the moment and enjoy giving and receiving pleasure. They may be more agreeable than other people and do not like to argue. They do not mind following traditions but are not afraid to move forward to experience other ideas in life. They tend to enjoy nature and the outdoors. They do not mind being more adventurous in their sexual experiences. They enjoy being popular and like being noticed. They have their own unique style of dress and of presenting themselves. They may also tend to be more business oriented or at the very least interested in money making adventures. They might make good entrepreneurs. They are progressive and adaptable.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test
at HelloQuizzy


I realized a couple of weeks ago that I hadn't finished reading an actual book in a few months.  Sure, I read magazines like crazy, and I've read a metric ton of graphic novels and art books, but an actual book?  Been a while.  I think it was at the beginning of summer, when I read Lewis Black's two books, which isn't exactly challenging material.  For an English major, that's an ultimate shame.  So I've vowed to do better, and I quickly plowed through Jerry Stahl's "I, Fatty."  It's a fictional autobiography (although apparently exhaustingly researched - there's a lengthy list of source material in the back) of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, one of the silent film era's biggest stars.  He was also one of the era's most infamous men, having been falsely accused of the rape of a woman which lead to her death.  Honestly, I got the book more because I have read Stahl's other books and loved them.  I didn't know much about Arbuckle other than that Chris Farley wanted to play Arbuckle in a movie around the time that Farley died.  In any case, this was a great book, and a little out of character for Stahl.  The other books that I've read are somewhere in between James Ellroy and Chuck Palahniuk, which is to say completely debauched and thoroughly offensive.  In this one, the debauchery remains, but there's a kind of sweetness and naivety to Arbuckle's voice that I didn't at all expect.  Even if, like me, you don't know much about Arbuckle, like me, you might find it to be an engaging and quick read. 


Tue, Dec. 9th, 2008, 12:10 am
Bradley Says...

Eye candy:


It's called "Bradley," and what cracks me up is that the scan is freakin' huge, but the actual print is only 2" x 3". It's kind of weird to see it so large - artwork is generally reduced in size (for convenience, but also because it "tightens up" the work a bit) whenever it's reproduced. Anyhow, this is a dinky little plate I knocked out in a day or so while struggling with the giant woodcut. When I have a long, involved project that can take a month or more to complete (much more, in this instance), it's easy to forget what actually completing something (and accomplishing a goal, no matter how meager) feels like. That's when I like to work on tiny pieces - just to have an idea and get it done so that I don't feel like my entire life is being consumed by a single project. So that's how Bradley came to be. I have a few extras, and I'm looking forward to hand-coloring a few of these. I mean, what's the point of drawing a peacock without color?

Well, another quarter of printmaking is in the books. I've got about another month until things kick off again, so I might work on some small woodcuts (I can do those at home, unlike etchings), but I've got some comics stuff I want to get done. I didn't do any comics conventions in '08, but I've got my eye on Emerald City in '09, and that leaves plenty of time to bang out something entirely new. Unlike previous quarters, I don't feel burned out at all (probably because I'm finally healthy - I got my ass kicked by a month-long cold, and compared to that I'm feeling like a million bucks), and I'm actually kind of raring to go. This week is idea week, and that leaves three to get as much stuff done as humanly possible. Sounds pretty good to me!

Alrighty, I'm out of here. This Red Fang EP I'm listening to is pretty damned rad, btw. You may want to check it out!


Mon, Dec. 1st, 2008, 03:47 pm
Winter Blues

Things have been simultaneously hectic and completely unproductive lately. Class time has been spotty, what with all the November holidays, so I haven't had much time to work on anything new. I did finish a dinky little peacock print, and I'll scan that later this week (I've got to flatten the prints and turn 'em in with my portfolio on Thursday, and then they and "Jeff" will be hitting Etsy shortly), but something that's 2" x 3" seems hardly to count. I'm going to spend all day tomorrow trying to print the monster woodcut, which will be physically taxing and probably insanely frustrating. One fun thing about printmaking: larger works usually require a full sheet of paper for each print, and at roughly $5/ea, that adds up pretty quickly. I'm likely going to have to drop at least $50 on paper tomorrow before I can print.

Anyhow, there's been a lot of running around and not a lot of getting things done. I'm trying vainly to keep my head above water, but it's a real struggle this time of year. I'm doing what I know to do: go to the gym as regularly as I can, drink coffee and be around people as much as I can, set my alarm so I don't sleep for 10 or 11 hours a night, be aware when I'm being needlessly negative or mean. But it's the difference between acting naturally and having to think in order to do things - an added step repeated that leaves me exhausted by the end of the day. And I'm still not getting any drawing done. I guess that'll have to wait a little while longer.

I promise, I'll have some art up soon. I just needed to get this off my chest, hopefully I'll be in a better mood soon...


Sat, Nov. 22nd, 2008, 02:38 pm
Media Roundup

I finally finished my giant woodcut yesterday, which means that I didn't have to spend my Saturday in the studio trying to maintain focus on drudgery. I've spent the last week lowering the areas that are supposed to print white, which is dull dull dull. But it's done, and I figured I'd take the opportunity to grab some coffee and try to jump-start my brain. Between familial visits, a wicked cold, and the giant woodcut from hell, I've been largely drawing only for production (and my to-read stack of comics has been growing for the last month). It's usually not a good sign when I'm not sketching and doodling - that's where the ideas for whatever's next come from.

Well, I didn't get any doodling done, but I did do a little reading. I put another dent in my American Flagg HC (it's so damned good. Dense, complex, brilliantly executed, I could read stuff like this for the next decade straight and not get sick of it), and I read Madman #11 (I've been a sucker for Mike Allred's work since I first saw it. His art keeps growing and growing) and the first Whilce Portacio issue of Spawn. It wasn't that great, but I'll admit the book isn't for me. I haven't been 14 for quite a while now. Oh well. I plan to read at least a couple more TPBs this weekend (I've got the first Northlanders and the ninth 100 Bullets books in mind), and I'll probably go check out a movie as well.

Speaking of which, I finally caught "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" this week. It was good, maybe really good. I laughed, my sweetie cried a little, it warmed my heart. I'd see it again, but I need to check out "Role Models" first. I also caught the latest Bond film, "Quantum of Solace," last weekend. It was good, but not nearly as good as "Casino Royale." Maybe it'll come across better if I watched the two back to back, which I'll probably do at some point.

I've also been plowing my way through "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" season 3 and the first season of "The X-Files." Two thumbs up on both.

Alright, I'm out of here. I need to get some food before the Blazers lay another ass-beating on whomever gets in their way...


Fri, Nov. 21st, 2008, 12:51 am
Allow me to introduce Jeff

A new print I editioned this week, it's called Jeff. Enjoy:


It's been a lame week. I'm finally not sick, but I can't ditch the cough that's lingering. I've also been trying to finish a pretty big woodcut print (it's 18" x 24"), but in the process of cleaning up the image, I keep dinging little wedges out of the linework. Aside from that, I'll be lucky if I can finish cleaning it up by the end of tomorrow. I've been working on this print for about a month solid now, and I'm really sick of looking at it. People seem to like it, but I've lost all obvectivity on it, and I just want it done and out of my sight. And I completely overslept yesterday, then got stuck in traffic, and instead of getting to class to work a couple of hours early and getting a lot of work done, I had to run through McDonald's and got to class a minute late.

Yet again, I'm feeling incredibly grumpy. Dammit.


Sun, Nov. 9th, 2008, 04:15 pm
I Has Teh Sickies

There's one thing I've learned over the years - don't make decisions when you're sick. Maybe I'm the only one, but when I get sick the warts on everything appear and I hate pretty much everything. Seeing as how I've been sick for the last week and a half, I'm trying to remind myself that I currently have a bad attitude towards everything in life, and that things aren't nearly as bad as I feel they are.

It's been a very hectic last week. The show over at PSU's Littman Gallery opened, and both the turnout and the overall quality of work was great. That was a relief. It was also great to see people that I haven't seen in way too long. One of the great things about my adventures in printmaking is that I generally really like all the people I've worked along with. I've had plenty of jobs where that wasn't the case at all, and I'm pretty thankful to have had the opportunity to work in such a friendly, supportive environment.

I decided not to check out the Portland Comic Book Show today. While there were some people that I definitely wanted to say hi to and chat with, I still feel like teh poop, and I'm feeling a little anti-social. And I'm feeling pretty grumbly about comics in general right now. This is one of the things that I'm trying to remind myself isn't nearly as bad as I think it is right now. I could rant and rave forever, but I'll just regret it when I'm healthy and not hating life (and my sinuses, specifically). Instead, I'm taking it easy in Battle Ground, waiting for the snot to clear. My stack of books to read is growing overwhelmingly, and I figure that I don't need to add to the stack right now, even if bargains abound.

I do hate Christmas music even when I'm healthy. Most especially when I'm healthy. So you can imagine what I think of it right now. If I had the energy, I'd go shopping just so I could break all the holiday music CDs I could find. It's still November, for crying out loud. I don't want to deal with Jose Feliciano until I'm done with my turkey, please.

Well, I don't think there's much else to talk about. I'm hungry, and I intend to do something about that.


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