Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin and decided to do a bit of an experiment. You see, people have been recommending that I read the books, or at the very least watch the show on HBO for a while now. I normally like sci-fi and I find that I have to be in a certain mood for a Fantasy novel of any length, let alone an epic series where each book is 800+ pages. (I’ve never been one to balk at length, it’s just that it’s a commitment that is sometimes difficult to make before you know if you’ll even like it or not.) Anyway, I started the novels, then had a thought. I’ve read enough of the first book to get a handle on the plot, so I’ll watch the first episode of the HBO show and see how I like it. See if it’s true to the book (always a huge deal for me) and maybe it will help me solidify the characters in my mind. If I can put a face to a name, then I can tell Arya apart from Sansa more easily. Or so I thought.

Well, it turned out that I had read just enough so that the show didn’t have any spoilers for me. I read another hundred pages or so and watched episode two. Rinse, repeat. Great.

But then I got to thinking. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. A few weeks before, I watched the beginning of “Treasure Island” (1991 version) with my son because we were reading the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson yarn for bedtime and I thought it might interest him to see how what we had just read looked like in “real life.”

But now, for the rest of the book, Jim Hawkins will look like a young Christian Bale to my son. And Long John Silver can’t look like anything other than a crusty Charlton Heston. treasure-island7

And the same is true for me now. Danaerys  Stormborn will always appear in my minds eye as Emilia Clarke ( yes, there are worse fates.) Ned Stark is Sean Bean. Etc. That’s when I had a terrifying thought:

We are letting our imagination wither and die like an atrophied muscle.

Our kids watch cartoons about other fictional kids going out to their backyard and having adventures where they imagine that they are astronauts, cowboys, wizards… But my kids aren’t doing any of that! THEY ARE SITTING INSIDE, WATCHING A TV SHOW ABOUT KIDS WHO HAVE IMAGINATION! (I’m lookin’ at you Backyardigans!)

Caution___TV_is_not_a_friend

AHHHHHHH!

How do we fix this?

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All right, I’m not a spokesperson for Stihl, but they come close to my point. We need to get our kids (and ourselves) outside more often. We need to sit under a tree and dream. We need to create. No matter what you think your talent is or isn’t, you can create something.   If you’re good with your hands, make something. If you’re “too out of shape/ too fat/too clumsy/ etc.” that’s not stopping you from writing an amazing story or composing a beautiful song, making a stunning piece of jewelry or woodwork. The author of the books I’m reading now doesn’t have what most people would call an athletic build (see below), but he has created an amazingly detailed epic book series. No excuses. Go from a consumer of culture to a creator of it.

Everyone dies

Everyone dies

Terence McKenna had a thought along similar lines:

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”

― Terence McKenna

Turn off your smartphone, turn off the music, stop doing things just because they will make a #clevertwitterhashtag or Facebook post later that will def impress your “friends” or “followers.” Live Life. Rediscover your passion and be amazing at it.

CREATE!

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So I finally got to see Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” movie last night in all its 3D high frame rate glory. The verdict?

Terrible… with some shining good points.

But Dan, you say, I thought you loved JRR Tolkien and the Hobbit? Yes. Yes I do. Why do directors/screenwriters feel the need to mess with something that has been a well-loved classic for millions? WHY! If it has enjoyed success up to this point with the story that exists, why change it? And don’t tell me, “For the story/ narrative.” The narrative worked just fine, that’s why there are Tolkien fans world-wide. So if you’ll indulge my nerdy wrath, let me tell you the various reasons why I was disappointed in the film.

The whole backstory with Azog the goblin. Yes he existed, but he was dead long before the company of 14 left Bag-end. I kind of see that the writers needed a stronger antagonist for this cut-up part of the story, but come on. Here’s what really happened:

After Smaug took the Lonely Mountain. Thror gave his Ring of Power to his son Thrain, and left with a friend, Nar, to go to Moria. When he got there, the gate was open and his friend warned him not to go in, but he walked in like an heir returning. Nar waited outside for many days before the body of Thror was tossed out, headless. The head was also tossed out and on it was branded AZOG. Nar was told that Azog was the new master in Moria and to go back and tell the dwarves. Of course Thrain was furious and the dwarves spent three years amassing an army before they finally marched on Moria in 2799. That is the scene in the movie where Thorin and Thrain are battling the goblins. That scene is accurate in that it shows how Thorin got his nickname Oakenshield, but that’s about all. Nain is the dwarf who battles and is killed by Azog, and Dain (of the Iron Hills), son of Nain, revenges his father and kills Azog, beheading him. Not just cutting off his arm for him to fight another day. Dead. Storyline ends there. Bye bye Azog.

Years later, Thrain, Thorin’s father is captured on the outskirts of Mirkwood and is taken to Dol Guldur where he is tortured and the Ring of Power is taken from him and delivered to Sauron in 2845. Five years later, Gandalf enters Dol Guldur and receives the key to the Lonely Mountain from Thrain before he is killed.

Whew! History lesson over. OK. Next.

The beginning of the movie is fine. The dinner party at Bagend is great. Where it departs from Canon is with the Trolls. First of all, it was pouring rain, not a nice day. Second. The whole party voted that Bilbo should go check out the firelight, not go chasing after some lost ponies. Third, Bilbo is discovered but manages to get away when the trolls start fighting amongst themselves, then the dwarves start showing up one by one and get put into sacks so that they can’t warn the others. Thorin manages to get in a few licks with a burning branch, but he too is captured and Bilbo is punted up into a tall bush. Then Gandalf comes back and impersonates the Troll’s voices so that they end up arguing about how to cook the dwarves until daylight turns them to stone. All in all, the movie didn’t change too much, and the scene is not pivotal to the plot. But if it wasn’t so important, why change it at all? It was fine as originally written.

Then the movie goes on a lark with Radagast the Brown and tries setting up how Sauron is amassing power in Mirkwood, but that doesn’t really enter into the Hobbit at all. Gandalf just mentions that a “Necromancer” is gaining power in Mirkwood and Radagast the Brown shows up in the Hobbit for all of ONE SENTENCE, while they are on the way to Beorn’s house.

And the whole business about being chased by Wargs before “escaping” to Rivendell? Rubbish. They missed the whole fantastic scene in the book where the company enters Rivendell at twilight and the elves sing/make fun of them from the trees. Also, still on ponies and horses. They didn’t run away after their ordeal with the trolls.

Rivendell itself was spectacular as it always is, but the whole council with Galadriel and Saruman never happened.

The Stone giants scene was cool and I’m willing to forgive a little creative license there, but they still had the ponies with them, and Gandalf too, when they were captured in the cave. Bilbo remains with the group the whole time during their escape, which was a ridiculous affair of Disney theme ride/ Ewok village rope bridges in the movie, where in the book it is all dark low passages. When the goblins catch up with the group a second time, Dori, who was carrying Bilbo on his shoulders, is grabbed from behind and Bilbo is knocked out and overlooked. When he awakes, he fumbles over The Ring on the ground, he doesn’t watch it fall out of Gollum’s pocket.

The Riddles in the Dark scene is great, except that it’s not dark. When Bilbo finally escapes, he losses his brass buttons trying to squeeze out the final door to the outside, away from Gollum and the goblin guards.

The scene where the party goes from the frying pan and into the fire was well done except for the whole showdown between Thorin and AZOG, who as we found out, was already long dead.

When they are rescued by the Eagles, (who just look down and see the fire with their good eyesight and don’t have to be informed via butterfly mail) we miss out on the whole scene of the dwarves being taken up to their Eyrie that night and wondering if they are going to be eaten for the Eagle’s dinner. And then they are brought to the Carrock, and so we leave them there., gazing at the nonexistent view of the Lonely Mountain.

After all that, here’s what the movie did right: Visually stunning. The HFR was incredible, but hard to get used to. At first, it looks a bit like Spanish daytime soap operas. You know, that hard light where everything looks very realistic. After a while, you begin to appreciate the detail, but it takes time. Erebor was amazing and the golden hoard was a sight to behold. All the characters were wonderful, and Bilbo and Thorin were spot on, even though they participated in scenes that shouldn’t have existed. the Wargs were awesome, and the goblins were perfect. Just different enough from LOTR’s orcs to be just right. The Goblin King in particular was wonderful.

Overall, I think that Peter Jackson has a great vision for the world of Middle Earth, and he did better than most would. But why didn’t he just stick to the beloved story? Tolkien fans should watch it, but you have been warned to not expect it to be true to canon.

What do you think?

P.S. I think I’m so upset, because I grew up with Tolkien s’ works. It’s different than, say, The Walking Dead graphic novels versus the TV show. I read and enjoyed the comics first, and noted the differences when the show aired, but since it wasn’t ingrained in my childhood; since I didn’t spend hours drawing maps of Georgia, or making hand-drawn board games of The Walking Dead, I wasn’t as upset. Or take any modern series. Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. Yes, it bothered me when the movies departed from the novels, but it didn’t feel like a betrayal.

Here are some more of the tribal-style designs I’ve drawn over the years. I’ll add that you are free to use these as you will for personal use, but if you intend to make money off them, please give me my due. And if you actually get one of these tattooed on you, I want a picture!

 

 

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Hey blogosphere! So my New Years resolution was to get a job. Yeah, I know I just posted about how I do construction, but I needed a more consistent income. So… a few weeks ago I requested prayer at church for a job. The next day, my wife noticed a post from my favorite coffee shop that they were still hiring for one more full-time position. I immediately sent in my resume, and then went in the next day just to stock up on beans because I was getting perilously low. The owner just happened to be behind the bar and  told me he got my resume and said we would have an interview after the holidays. Last Friday we had our interview and I was hired on the spot to start Monday! YES!  I’ll be learning to be a Barista and also putting my construction skills to good use in renovating the cafe. I just finished my first day and am pumped to be a part of such a great and successful team of people.

As part of my training at the hands of a bona-fide national champion, I pulled my first shot of espresso today and made my very first latte (see below.) It was fun, learning the particulars of the process, from tamping the grounds, to pouring the art on top. Judging from my first day, I think I’ll like the coffee business just fine.

http://www.cafekubal.com/

For the last few months, I’ve been able to provide input on a new website for our shop. I took about half the pictures and wrote some of the content. Check it out!

 

This is my old Pirate Treasure Chest. I just love the weather beaten, rusty texture.

This is a really cool/crazy video I just found. Dancing Pigeons- Ritalin…by Blink.

I do not usually condone beer…or lobsters, but this makes me laugh every time I look at it.

Some of my ceramic art

Posted: April 22, 2010 in Art
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These are a few pieces I did in high school. Tiles, weird sculptures, masks, etc.

A few years ago, I needed to commute to work and lived right near a bus route. Instead of buying a bike, I just needed a fast way to get down to the corner. My 26 year old mind remembered back to my 16 year old days and thought, “Yeah, it’s time for another skateboard.” But which brand? Oh, so many graphics! Then I thought, “Hey I’m artistic, I’ll make my own.” So here is the fruit of my labors. I printed out some of my tribal designs I had previously drawn on sticky vinyl. Then used an Exacto knife to cut the designs out, paint them, and clear-coat the entire thing.

New paintings planned

Posted: April 13, 2010 in Art
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I’m finally getting around to decorating my office. I had this idea to paint one big graphic on the orange background, grunge/vector art style. But then I had an even better idea. Do that, but on many smaller canvases so that each painting adds to the whole work. Then I had the best idea and now plan to include awesome things in an epic battle with eachother throughout the painting. So far my list includes: sharks, ninjas, robots, zombies, pirates, dinosaurs, vikings, dragons, spaceships, and Scottish warriors. There may be more. Here is the color palate (orange is the wall color) and rough plan.

These are some other paintings I’ve done. Snow Monster. and Invaders on Mars.

I also do Tribal designs. Here. and here.

I recently wanted to buy myself some nice new ear plugs for the large holes in my ears. I planned on going to a piercing shop my friend owns and getting them from him. Even with a potential friends discount, I was expecting to pay $30.

But all of a sudden I was struck with an idea. Why not make your own? I have in fact made much of my own body jewelry in the past, and had many of the tools necessary for it. This time, I wanted some nice wood ones. Well, by making them myself, I made them much more personal and with special significance. You see, I had some chunks of wood that I picked up in Sherwood forest that I had been saving. Yeah, that Sherwood. These were pieces that I’d harvested from downed trees, not chopped out of any living one. The thing is, these trees were hundreds of years old. So I carefully planned out the cuts I was going to make, and using succesively finer grits of sandpaper, came away with some beautiful and rare jewelry that I will appreciate so much more than store bought ones. And they were free.

So next time you want to buy something, ask yourself: “Can I make this myself?” You will be glad you did.

Nephilim

a novel

By Dan Mumford

 

The screen flickered to life, showing blips and graphs. Six different sets of vital signs sprang into focus. Tom watched the soldiers they belonged to move about the small room through the feeds in their headset cams, preparing equipment and re-checking their gear. Sun shone in from a window onto a bare dirt floor. Little swirls of dust swished about the room as the team readied themselves for the upcoming operation. (more…)

I think this is on my list of movies to see in the theaters. I may even try to catch the 3D showing.

Since it’s so popular right now, I give you: More Space Pictures! (as taken by NASA’s Hubble space telescope)

The Horsehead nebula:

horsehead_tan_big

M42 (a different view of the Orion Nebula):

m42_christensen_big

The Rosette Nebula:

rosette_gendler_big

The Eta Carinae Nebula:

EtacarinaeSGL_gendler

The Veil Nebula, sometimes called witch’s broomstick:

veil_noao_big

M31 galaxy (messier object 31, better known as the Andromeda Galaxy):

m31_gendler_Nmosaic1