Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Animated Gif

Now that I know how, why not? Sit up close and warm yourself up with this one.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Animated Gifs with Adobe ImageReady

I made these simple but cool animated .gifs of the making of two of my recent paintings with Adobe ImageReady 7.0! Don't stare too long, or you will go insane!!



Now wouldn't these make nice profile pics for Phil and John's Myspace pages. It's too bad the fascists at Facebook clamp down on our freedom of expression by flattening animated .gifs. Below is a video that shows you how to make your own. I'm sure there are a lot of ways and cool apps you can use to make animated .gifs, but I already had ImageReady on my computer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Ambiguous Report About the End of My Painting

"An Ambiguous Painting About the End of the World", 2010

24" x 20", oil on wood

Finally finished it! I could work on some pieces forever, and even though there is a lot that bugs me about this painting, I'm sick of working on it. This was to be my homage to Giorgio de Chirico, but I don't think I'm going to be painting any more arches any time soon. I also went with De Chirico's color palette for the most part: ochre ground and blue-green sky. These are colors I wouldn't have naturally used. I don't know if it's what I took from De Chirico that bothers me about this piece, or if it's just that nagging regret I often have just after finishing a painting. Oh well, it was an experiment.

The other experiment here was posting a photo after each painting session to show my progress. This is another experiment I don't care to repeat any time soon. I referred to this piece as "New Painting" for each of these updates, as I had no working title. Absolutely nothing came to mind until one night when I was browsing the web for "end of the world films". You see from the outset I had the vague idea that this painting was about the end of the world. Anyway, while browsing the web I came across a Slovakian film called "An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World". It didn't matter to me at that moment whether I would ever see the film or if it was any good. I knew I had a name for my painting!

"An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World" is certainly a provocative name for a movie. I decided I had to see it after all, but even though the film was released only 13 years ago, it seemed it was already completely out of print. Thank god for filesharing sites! I found and downloaded the .rar files below and with the help of Winrar put the film together.

The movie begins with a double death slash suicide. A heroic-looking man carries a dead woman in his arms through the snow to the edge of a cliff, shoots himself and they both fall into the void. We are then transported back in time to the events that proceeded this tragedy. We begin two decades earlier at a joyful folk wedding in a quaint village high in the mountains. Everyone is enjoying themselves and then some wolves are spotted. The men take off after them, guns blazing, in a show of drunken bravado, but while they are gone, chasing after only two wolves, the rest of the pack descends upon the remaining villagers, mostly women and children. This scene is very well done. It has a surreal horror movie quality. The wolves just keep coming, bursting through padlocked doors and shattering windows. The clip below has no subtitles, but you don't really need them.

The bride who loses her bridegroom to the wolves gives birth later that same evening, and she promises her daughter to the 10 year old boy who saved her life. The bride Verona and the boy Goran are the two tragic lovers who die at the beginning of the film. I'm not going to go over the whole film here, but I'll hit the highlights. There is basically just disruption after tragic disruption in life of the little village. There is a traveling circus who get tricked into staying in the village and they soon corrupt the villagers. They give up honest farming, start growing poppy and hemp and turn into smugglers. Earthquakes rock the villages and houses sick into the ground. Some of the sheep smuggled in from across the border (Poland?) are later found to carry a disease that kills off most of the children. A military unit flies in some doctors to help the sick, but they can save no one. Instead they seem more interested in the "hemp" being dried to make marijuana and begin making arrests and threats. In one of my favorite lines from the movie, one of the military "medics" tells the mayor of the little village, "This is a free country now, and you are under surveillance". Later the military attack the fields, burning the illegal crops and as a consequence what's left of the sad little village.

Amidst all this there is a surreal cast of characters that includes a horny dwarf, a giantess, a chimpanzee named "Madonna" and a village idiot who turns into a prophet after reading Nostradamus. He quotes Nostradamus throughout the later part of the film and many of the tragedies that befall the village are supposedly taken from the seer's prognostications. Caught up in the middle of all this is the sad love story of Goran and Verona, who die at the beginning and end of the film. This an epic movie that never gets boring even at 140 minutes. The scenery alone is spectacular. There's a lot of symbolism throughout and I guess we are to see this tiny Slovakian village "at the end of the world" as a microcosm of the whole world. A tag-line for the movie says its "A film about the world not being round and love always being sinful, or about the wolves inside us".

It's too bad that this great film by Juraj Jakubisko is out of print or at least not available here. But at least I got to watch a decent .avi. I downloaded the english subtitles from, but I at first I didn't know how the .srt file could be added to the .avi so I could watch it in english. Media Player Classic, which is a free video player has the ability to load subtitles or .srt files. And if you want to burn these .avis to a dvd to watch on your television DVDFlick is great free dvd authoring app. It's especially great for foreign films, because allows you to load your own subtitles. You can even chose the typeface, color and position of them on the screen. As far as I can tell, DVDFlick does everything any other DVD authoring software can do and more. It even gives you the option to play Tetris while your files are being encoded. The only downside to DVDFlick as far as I can see is that is doesn't make fancy menus. Your menu screens won't have moving pictures or fancy options, not that you need any of that shit.

By the way if you've downloaded "An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World" and the english subs available online, you know that the subs for "Nejasna Sprava O Konci Sveta CD2" or the second disc are way wrong. It was so frustrating that there were no other english subs available for what the download calls CD2 of the movie that I wrote a new .srt file for the second half of the film with the help of my wife, who's Czech. I uploaded the corrected .srt for the second half of the film today. You can download it here.

I should also mention that the director of "An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World", Juraj Jakubisko recently directed a film called "Bathory", about the life of Elizabeth Bathory, that looks like it could be interesting. You know who she was, right? The Blood Witch of Cachtice, the Countess Dracula, the most murderous woman in history! Well I've written enough with this post, so I'm gonna let "Hot Fact Babe" Damianne fill you in on all the gory details...

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Painting- Day 18

I'm still not ready to declare this painting finished. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Painting- Day 17

It isn't like watching paint dry, it is. Hopefully it will be finished in a couple days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Painting- Day 15

I basically just need to finish the necklace and earring and sharpen everything up. Hopefully I'll be finished in two or three more sessions.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Painting- Day 13

Still trudging along. The closer I get to the "end" the more I realize how much still needs to be fixed. This posting after every painting session was an experiment that I don't think I'm gonna put myself through again. As you can see there is no magic to this. Its just drudgery to keep at it most of the time.

Anyway, last post I gave a little review or summary of my favorite post-apocalyptic film of all time, "A Boy & His Dog". With this post I thought I'd review my second favorite post-apocalyptic movie, "The Quiet Earth". It's from 1985 and was made in New Zealand. The movie opens with Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) waking up to a city that seems completely deserted and very quiet. Not only does it seem that all the people have disappeared, but we hear no birds and see nothing moving about except for our hero Zac. In the distance there is a fire. Investigating, Zac finds a huge airliner has crashed, but there are no bodies. It seems every other sentient being has simply vanished without a trace.

Zac then heads to his workplace, where we find he's a scientist who has been working on a top secret project. "Project Flashlight", as it is called, has nothing to do with Parliament Funkadelic, but was an experiment to create a global energy grid. Zac speaks into his pocket recorder, "Zac Hobson, July 5th. One: there has been a malfunction in Project Flashlight with devastating results. Two: it seems I am the only person left on Earth." He then goes to a nearby radio station and records a message to play in a loop with his name, address and phone number, asking anyone who hears it to contact him.

The first thirty minutes of this film are the best. There must be something primal about this last man on earth idea. Zac soon "moves up in the world" and takes over a recently vacated mansion. He enjoys the good life for awhile, but soon puts on women's underclothes, goes mad and declares himself president. See the clip below. I never understood where he got all those life size cardboard effigies of famous people from history.

Soon after this, Zac finally meets a another human being. Its a pretty redhead named Joanne. Just when they start hitting it off, and you think that this film might take a romantic turn, there is another twist. A tall Maori named Api enters the picture, creating tension with a sort of love triangle, but it's obvious from the beginning that Joanne prefers Api. Zac soon confesses to them that he may have been partly responsible for the "Effect" that left them all alone, and this only alienates him more from the two "newcomers". We find out that Zac felt so guilty about working on such potentially devastating project as "Project Flashlight", that he tried to commit suicide the evening before the "Effect" happened.

It seems all three of the survivors "died" the moment the "Effect" took place, and that may be why they "survived", if they aren't already dead, and if this isn't all a dream. It gets more ambiguous the more we learn. Finally Zac is convinced that the "Effect" will soon happen again, and that the only way to stop it is to destroy the huge satellite dish at his former workplace. I won't give away the ending, partly because I'm not really sure I understand what happened, but the skyline just before the closing credits was sure interesting.

Now this has to be one of the best "last man on earth" movies there is and maybe one the best films from New Zealand. You know what the best New Zealand film is, don't you? We're you gonna say the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which is partly an American film? No, that's not it. The film I'm thinking of is a horror movie only the folks in New Zealand could think of...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Painting- Day 12

Well this thing is really starting to drag again. Today I added the stars and crescent moon in a kind of "A Starry Night" way, the arcade shadows yet again, and the military helicopter, which will be the only "life" here so far. What I really need at this point is a few good long painting sessions to push this to completion. I'm not feeling that inspired lately. Maybe I need to watch few good post-apocalyptic movies to get me in the mood.

I mentioned in a couple earlier posts that I was going for a post-apocalyptic feel with this piece. And what is my favorite post-apocalyptic film of all time? Its the 1975 low-budget movie, "A Boy & His Dog". It stars a very young Don Johnson as Vic, a scrappy post-nuclear survivor, who together with his faithful companion Blood, a telepathic dog, scavenges for food and women in the wasteland of Phoenix, Arizona in 2024. Vic is always horny, and Blood is always hungry. The arrangement is that Vic hustles up dinner, and Blood sniffs out the babes. The movie never explains why Blood is telepathic, but for some reason you never really worry about it. You do find out that only Blood and Vic can communicate this way. Vic tells one nosy person in the film that the reason only he can "hear" his dog is because the two of them "think alike". Whatever the reason, I think that the dim-witted Vic's relationship with the highly intelligent canine saves this sometimes overly slow, low-budget movie. Witness the scene below for an example.

Blood and Vic subsist in the bleak desert for the better part of the film, robbing and raping the other desperate survivors, but soon Vic meets Quilla June. She is "the cheese" sent out by some folks who have been watching Vic and want to entrap him. The randy Vic falls for the bait, and soon he is following the girl underground. Blood is suspicious, and after warning Vic, refuses to go. This is where the movie really gets weird. Some of the post-nuclear survivors still stubbornly keep small town American values alive underground. Everyone paints their faces like happy mimes, and they live for parades and picnics. The "grass" is green even though there is no sunlight in subterranean "Topeka", and the citizens' stifled lives are strictly regulated by "The Committee".

"The Committee", headed by actor Jason Robards, decides they need some new sperm for their now hopelessly shallow gene pool, and that the virile Vic will supply it. But unfortunately not in the way he would like, for he is soon hooked up to a machine and milked. Finally Quilla, "the cheese" that lured him into the trap, rebels against "The Committee" and helps Vic escape. She wants him to help her take control underground, but he would rather go back above. He's gotta see Blood again. He's "gotta get back in the dirt" so he can "feel clean". I won't give away the touching and disturbing ending, but ultimately this is, as director L. Q. Jones says, "just a story about a boy and his dog".

This movie obviously influenced the Mad Max series, and I think the idea of a dog for end of the world companionship was set with this film as well. Mad Max had an Australian Cattle Dog and Will Smith drove around post-apocalyptic New York with a German Shepherd in "I Am Legend". If the mongrel in "A Boy and His Dog" looks familiar, its because he played the family pet "Tiger" in "The Brady Bunch".

The director of "A Boy and His Dog", L. Q. Jones, never directed another film, but his adaption of Harlan Ellison's novella, was purported to be the author's favorite movie version of any of his stories. L. Q. Jones is known for his acting career, which included many westerns. Most recently he starred in "A Prairie Home Companion". He was also in Scorsese's 1995 film "Casino". Here he is giving giving Robert De Niro's character Sam Rothstein the business for firing his brother in-law.