Friday, January 25, 2008

*cough *hack *cough

All kinds of fun things are happening here.

But I am also suffering through my yearly bout of bronchitis that shows up every winter like clockwork. Phlegmy, lung-burning clockwork. We were supposed to see There Will Be Blood tonight, but I'm staying in and enjoying a personal screening of There Will Be Blood In The Mucous You Spew From Your Lungs.

I hate winter.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ha! Winter! You're so hilarious with your arctic temperatures and home-invading chill! Thanks for reminding me that if I were to stay outside for too long, I'd die! I've been forced to swallow my pride and hook up the space-heater, pointed directly at my desk.

In other news...

Oh, The Witcher. It's Polish. It's certainly R-rated. It has some of the worst cut-scenes and voice acting I've witnessed in the past year or so. It's also kinda janky from time to time.

Oh, but I love it so much. It certainly has atmosphere. And crazy Dryad make outs. And the plague.

I don't have a lot of recent artwork that I can post, but I have been quite busy (especially for January, for which I am quite thankful). I will say that I have some new personal projects slowly making their way into reality. Here's some concept art for a project that is a long way off, but about which I am nonetheless excited.

Lastly, Olde Jersey has been a bit late recently because I've been busy with all kinds of other things, most notably...

THE 2008 Crash Club Animation Reel!
Click it. You know that you want to do so.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Megalomania lite.

Busy, busy, busy goes the January. To unwind I've been indulging in some decidedly PC-centric gaming.

Civilization is one of the greatest games ever made. It's one of the few games that I could honestly play for 8 hours straight. I'm currently playing the fourth installment and it's come a long way since Alan Dumont and I cracked open Civ 1 back in 1993 or so. I generally play as a Kaiser whose name I forget as the Germans under his command are expansive and industrious. Wow, I'm making this sound dull. But let me tell you about the time I ended a long charade of a peace treaty... with nukes.

I'm also playing the forth installment of the hardy perennial of milquetoast geekdom, the least off-putting example of extreme obsessive-compulsive stat-watching, that cross between the creating of elaborate train sets and a God complex - SimCity. If you have never played SimCity, then you and I come from different worlds indeed. Cleo also loves it and we installed it on her laptop today. SimCity 4 has some great and robust terraforming stuff in it and I'm really looking forward to digging further into it.

So yes. This whole post was just a love letter to society-building games. You think that's bad? You just wait until I dig into Dwarf Fortress, the ascii-based dwarf colony simulation.

Tremble in fear.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Seriously. How did this happen?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ace of Cakes is a great show.

Hey! Cleo is making crockpot meatloaf! Yeah! It smells awesome!

Feast upon this recent work of mine!

Check this band out on Bankshot! Records. They're from England. How exotic!
Also, the album title is some of my favorite hand-made text I've done.

Yay! Haven't done skulls in a while. This one is haunting the Monongahela river!

And just for fun.

Looking back at my work from the past year, I'm happy to observe a definite progression and maturation in style and ability. As an artist that's one of the most satisfying things to see. I've really been trying to cultivate a few signature styles and rely much less on the tools available digitally.

A lot of design and animation needs to happen tonight and I'm very late on this week's Olde Jersey so I need to get that done and out. I also have a sinus infection. But hey, there's meatloaf!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Youth & Beauty Brigade

1. Today I had a phone conversation with a certain government agency. It went well, I do think. But I must say that I haven't felt like that since I was in the principals office in grade school. Nothing makes you feel incredibly small like speaking to someone who has the power to destroy your idea of life.

2. Winter - I've had enough of you already. Please contract something incurable and die early.

3. Alright, hipsters of the world, you win - The Decemberists are really, really good. I'd say every third song or so is worth many listens. I'll get a very good mix cd from them. It's been a long time since I've been able to say a band's songs have moved me... it doesn't happen very often. For some reasons certain songs of theirs trigger some sort of bittersweet emotional response in me. I can't really say why other than performance and material, but it works. I watched some live videos of them and just got irritated at the young girls screaming at the stage so I've decided to secretly be in the love with the band and avoid their fans, who turned me off to them in the first place. Nothing can ruin something that you love more than finding that people that share your love for it are the stuff of early insanity.

As a side note, in trying to find a picture of this band for this post, I've realized that their band pictures alone pretty much peg them as a band I'd love. Observe:

So... uh... yeah.

4. Bethany went to be very early tonight, giving me a lot of solitary time. This has given me a chance to really concur anew with the idea that I wouldn't very much like to make a go of it without her.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Best thing I've seen all week.

Everything about this is awesome.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 retrospective - All the movies

I saw far fewer movies in the theater this year due to budget and lack of interest in what was out there. But bust this, regardless. Reviews are on a * to ***** scale.

Children of Men *****- We'll get this out of the way right away, as it was the first movie I saw this year and also the best in my opinion. I think some of it really depends on how well you connect with the themes, but it's difficult to argue the power and artistry on display here. I connected with its views on power, violence, freedom and life. It also added more fuel to my theory that Clive Owen wins everything.

Pan's Labyrinth *****- Oh wow, I saw this the week after Children of Men. You just KNOW the year is going downhill from here. This movie is so good, so well made, so well acted, so completely unlike anything we'd see here that I still can't believe I saw it a theater 8 blocks from my house. See this movie now.

Smokin' Aces **- Wow, this movie was dumb... but that doesn't mean it wasn't fun. In fact, the first 60% of the movie was the kind of derivative, self-consciously colorful and pulpy stuff that can make for some really great eating-pizza-and-hanging-out cinema. Too bad it ended with such a whimper.

Ghost Rider *- This was HANDS DOWN the best time I've had in a movie theater all year. Kev, Curt Rigelnegg and I were to see Babel that night. We had endured rather stressful weeks, though, and didn't want to see anything that we'd have to consider or really digest. So we opted to see Ghost Rider as we were all familiar with the character from when we were about 10. We laughed and laughed and laughed. When we left, we felt better about life and each other. This movie sucks!

300 ***- This is possibly the most homoerotic movie I have ever seen. The plot was stupid, the acting was over-the-top, and it all kinda worked together to make a pretty okay movie. The people who got any level of inspiration out of this are probably the same people who were finding philosophical epiphanies in the Matrix trilogy, but as a straight up action flick with that wacky green-screen-digital-painting style you could do a lot worse than 300. Note: the end credits are better than the movie. Just take a look.

28 Weeks Later ****- The prequel, 28 Days Later, is not only my favorite horror film of the past decade and a half, but also one of my favorite movies ever. So this had a lot to live up to and to be fair, I went in expecting to it suck. There are definitely some plot problems (why can that one notable zombie think enough to track children silently over a waste warzone?) and one really stupid sequence near the end (helicopter zombie-mower, I'm looking at you). But it's still really, really good. It's about 70% as good as its predecessor and that still makes it somewhere around 67.5% better than most other modern horror flicks. Where the themes of the first film are isolation, family and the base violence and unreliability of individuals, this movie takes those themes and blows them up to a societal level. How successful it is in hitting those is really in the eye of the beholder, but they connected with both my wife and I.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End *- As a matter of disclosure, I had no desire to see this movie. I went as part of a group as a social outing. This movie was awful!

Knocked Up ***- I LOVED the 40-Year-Old Virgin. It was one of the cleverest, funniest and most moral movies I've seen in years. And I mean moral in a good way. Knocked Up was similar in a lot of ways, but way more subdued. I loved it at the time, but I forgot I saw it really until I made this list. It's highly recommended, though.

Grindhouse ***- Ha! Remember what I said about Smokin' Aces? Well, Planet Terror is that if the suck never started. Planet Terror is awesome. Death Proof, if you chopped off about 20 minutes or rather pointless dialogue, was great as well. My wife LOVED these, and I loved them too. Hooray for Grindhouse.

Transformers *- I went because I loved Transformers as a child. I don't really know how I expected it to be good, but I guess that's my own fault. You can really go one of two ways with a concept like this - you can go the Batman Begins route and make it dark and realistic, as if it were happening to real people, or you can go WAY stylized like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and strip any believability away. Too bad this movie did neither. The roughly 10 minutes of robot-on-robot violence was awesome, but the rest of it was fork-in-eye terrible. Seriously. Shame on all of us who went to see it, and shame on Michael Bay for making this. When a movie causes normally silent-as-a-mouse-in-a-movie-theater me to actually shout "Oh, come ON!" at a movie, followed by an unprompted and profane outburst from my wife, you know it's bad. In fact, let me count things that are horrible about this movie:
- Optimus Prime says "Oops, my bad."
- There's an extended and out of place masturbation joke.
- The slow scenes are filmed with steady, slow shots while the minute the action hits it's like a bee is chasing the camera guy. THIS CAN BE EFFECTIVE if done well. It was not done well here.
- She's a HACKER? Right. You know what? I'm not even going to go on. If anyone wants to argue this, feel free to bring the movie over and we'll go through it. Also bring pizza.

The Simpsons Movie ***- If this had been the last Simpsons episode, it would have been perfect. As it was, it was okay I guess.

Stardust ****- Okay, so NOBODY saw this movie and that's a shame. It has its definite flaws but it's also the most creative fantasy movie I've seen in years and years. Great cast, genuinely funny writing, and loads of inventiveness. Why haven't I gotten this dvd yet?

Michael Clayton ****- Oh, this was a really really really great movie. Amazing cast, amazing writing, etc. It was the first movie in a long time after which I could remember thinking "I could've watched another 40 minutes of that".

30 Days of Night **- My review: 30 Days of Meh?

American Gangster ***- I honestly don't know what to say about this movie. It was good I suppose. It was well made and well acted. Why I should be sympathetic to Denzel Washington's character I don't know. Since he was really the charismatic heart of the movie I never really hooked into it... I'm a little tired of seeing gangster-ish movies, especially ones that take place in the 70's, so perhaps that fed into it.

No Country for Old Men *****- So this is one downright unpleasant movie. But it's also probably a masterpiece. It certainly stays with you and it has one the most downright evil villains you'll ever see in a movie. Honestly, that guy just gives me the willies, so to speak. This is a movie with no fat, where it's like every single line and shot was there because it had to be. It's very minimalist, like a really short novella. I haven't read the book, maybe it IS a really short novella. But I digress. If you can handle the bleakness, it's a must-see.

Beowulf ***- Oh WHY wasn't this better? I love the source material and they've gone and screwed it up! WHY? Still, it was an astonishing technical feat and I only got bored a few times. By WHY? I give it 3 adolescent-male-shames out of 5.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ****- Total surprise of the year! I'm a big fan of the musical and they actually made a really great movie out of it! I don't know what else to say about it other than I'm glad they made it R-rated. Go see it, but be warned that it is a musical, and extremely Tim-Burton-esque Tim Burton movie, and extremely bloody.

Movies that opened in limited release that I'm dying to see-

There Will Be Blood - Everything about this movie screams that I will love it. I can't wait.

Persepolis - My wife introduced me to the graphic novel back in early '06 and I loved it. The movie looks to be just about as good.

Champayno - the non-alcoholic, utterly dreadful champagne!

My desk, January 1, 2008.

Welly-well-well, it appears as though we have survived until 2008. Congrats, world, despite your best efforts you have not blown yourself to molecular dust as of yet. Better luck next year!

What a year 2007 ended up being... this time last year I was very new to freelancing, I was very new to Pittsburgh, I had not yet created a reel, etc. But you can read all about that in the previous posts. I'm here to fill you in on the last few weeks... or at least the highlights.

My favorite part of Christmas is always the time spent traveling around Pennsylvania and New Jersey with my wife, Cleo. Here she is presenting a frozen, snow-covered pond near her house in the heart of Amish country.

Here our intrepid explorer discovers a well-kept trail in a state park. Note the unimpressed look.

My wonderful parents gifted me with some wonderful things, notably some limited-edition designer toys like this handsome figure by Glen Barr. I just need to find a place to put him now.

I also picked up two Hellboy trades, and they are very very good. I can't seem to say enough about Mike Mignolas artwork and writing. If you're unfamiliar, do yourself a favor and flip through the first book. You'll be hooked, I swear.
Two days after Christmas my wife and I, along with my sister and her fiance, journeyed up to Cambridge, Mass to see the reunion of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I can't quite describe what and exactly how much this band means to me, so I won't try. Suffice to say it was incredible and highly meaningful to Cleo and I. I'm waiting for some decent video of this to show up online and when it does I'll be sure to post it.

Last night was The End new years eve holiday party, where we celebrated most major holidays in the span of 4 hours.

Here I am with Sub-Dylon.

Neal is a Christmas angel to be sure.

Cleo with our adopted daughter Kerri.

Derek, Bobby, Marcus, Emily and Dylan compete in an All Hallows costume contest.

Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter dinner underway.

Travisty has a valiant go at the undaunted pinata.

Cleo with our dear favorite IUP student, Caitlyn.

An impromptu Christmas Pageant, poorly-written and awkward.

Derek and Sherri brandishing a poster received in the gift exchange.

Justun and Travisty chase 2007 away. It shall trouble us no more!

Melisa, dressed appropriately, doles out the libations.

Ha! The stroke of midnight!

Rooke Brothers accost me!

A lot of things are happening right now. Olde Jersey is marching on, I'm cutting a new reel as we speak, and other fun little things are beginning to poke their heads up. My wish for this year is less bad and more good. I suppose that's the same wish that everyone has, but originality be damned says the artist.