Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Dim Shadows

I just saw the trailer for the new Dark Shadows movie. I don't think I will be in any great hurry to go see it. Please keep in mind that I remember watching the original series when I was about 10 years old or so. Now, I know that to most people, Johnny Depp can do no wrong, but he is definitely not a replacement for Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins.

It may just be the missing black and white filming format, or that the censorship rules of the 60's left most everything to the imagination, making actors actually have to act. It might even just be that I detest it when people mess with a good thing. Remakes of old movie classics usually fall well short of the impact of the original. To a kid, the original Dark Shadows show was scary, not weird. Depp looks more like a strung out Willy Wonka than a 200 year old vampire.

I can see that the movie might do well though. Most of it's audience have never seen the original show, so they aren't subject to the curse that being able to compare two different versions of a show can be. I am sure it will make someone a buck, or two, but for now, I think I'll pass.

Writing About Writing

Writing, otherwise known as sitting completely motionless in front of your monitor with a puzzled look on your face for hours at a time. I used to notice the graphics on a website more than I tend to actually notice what it says. I was more interested in the artwork. I was curious as to how they made all those intricate designs and fancy fonts. Yeah, I know it's weird that I stared at the font, but still didn't really register what it was saying.

Now, things have changed a bit. As I keep working at trying to create an online presence (sounds like a nerdy ghost). I am finally beginning to become aware of just how important the words are on the web. I think I am slowly winning the war against my eye candy addiction. I guess it's time to learn how to write!

I am not sure exactly how many "You can be a writer too!" manuals I have downloaded, but it's a lot. I am definitely a collector. Which is funny, because the first thing that all of those guru type e-books say is "Stop buying this shit and just start writing!". I am trying to gain at least a little control over this downloading e-book manuals issue, but I may need a piratebay intervention.

Writing can be hard because amateur writers seem to be divided into two groups, those that think they are great writers just waiting to be discovered, and those that think they suck at it. It's a lot like karaoke. I fall into the latter category. Every once in while can come up with something that works, but usually once I take a look at something I've written, a day later, I make a face and throw it away.

Does this happen to famous writers? Do they sometimes re-read a piece they did and say "WTF was I thinking!?", and hit the delete button? It would be comforting to know that they did, at least once in a while.

I think that I think about it too much. Do you remember in the movie "The Last Samurai", the scene where Cruise is sword fighting with the warrior, and getting his ass kicked? he was just about to give up, and that kid leans over and tells him "too many minds". I think it's a bit like that sometimes. When I am focused, it seems to just flow out. I don't have a set plan mind you, but I am focused on the topic I want to write about. If not, or if I have been given an assignment to write something, it's like pulling teeth.

I found a way to take my mind off thinking about what I am supposed to be thinking about so much. It's a goofy program called Write or Die. It's almost a game. You set a time limit, and your words goal, and start writing. But, if you should fall short of your goal, or stop for too long, the nasty thing will punish you. First, it will first start playing irritating music to get you back on track, and then finally it will start eating your words. You can't stop, or you pay the price.

This thing comes in a PC version, and an iPone app. It's only $10 for the full version, but I believe there is a free or online version too. Write or Die has been out for several years, so per the norm, I am sure everyone already knows about it. On the odd chance that you hadn't heard of it, give it a shot. It's a fun way to keep from procrastinating so much.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Karin Taylor - Beyond the Stick Figure

In the several years that I have been playing at becoming a t-shirt artist, it has been my good fortune to meet a lot of interesting people. Artists come in all shapes and sizes, and a plethora of personalities. They range from the snobby purists that are so sure they are much more talented than you will ever be (but don't sell near as much as you do), to the peeps that don't take anything seriously, and are just there to have a good time with it all (definitely a much more fun crowd).

Then, there are a very special few people like Karin Taylor. I am not sure that I have ever met anyone that manages to have such a positive effect on people as this woman. At first, it can be a bit unsettling when you meet her, because you are quite sure that nobody could possibly be this nice. But, after just a few seconds you realize that you surely must have been  mistaken, and that the two of you have obviously been the best of friends your entire lives. Her smile just kind of rubs off on you in a sort of Celestine like moment way.

Karin's book Beyond the Stick Figure is exactly what I would expect from her. Just as she does with everyone she meets, she takes you by the hand, gives you one of her impish Aussie smiles, and takes you on a journey that turns out to be exactly what you needed. This work isn't a coffee table photography book, a self help inspirational manual, or an art tutorial. It's all of those, and a wee bit more.

As Miss Taylor tells you the story of her art, she also offers some rather profound insights on how one can deal with the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything, or at least, how she does it. And, seeing how well it has worked for her so far, I for one am inclined to take her word for it.

What did I come away from Beyond the Stick Figure with? Well, I think the most important thing, and certainly the most comforting thing to me that I learned from her book is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with drawing stick figures. How can I be so sure of that? Because Karin Taylor took me by the hand, smiled, and told me so.