Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos


Just kidding.

EDIT: O.K., that was going to be it -- I just needed a set of three names because I didn't know what to title this post -- but come to think, those faces are PERFECT for representing the absurd vagaries of Fate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Paper Cranes

Couple days ago I had these 32 after two days' effort.

Today, I made 40 more.

So of course, I had to put them together, just to see how they looked^

I think I need to make more of those bright yellow ones.

Today's Cloud Photo

I don't know about you, but my favorite clouds are the weird and scary ones (that could be the reason cloud monsters are attracted to me -- maybe they can sense fear). This one kind of fits the bill. It reminded me of those cute/creepy cartoon characters with the big black skull-like eyes.

Or maybe it's a pig nose.


Another Random Photograph

Reminds me of a number of things:

#1. A human being being struck by lightning (haha, "being being" ^^)
#2. Isadora Duncan dancing
#3. A ghost
#4. A squid
#5. The ghost of a squid

That last one would make a funny pairing with my favorite William Blake piece, 'The Ghost of a Flea':

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today's Thrift Shop Purchase

Looks like this blog has taken a somewhat ghoulish turn tonight -- talking about dumping bodies is segueing into a celebration of my cephalophilia (that should really be 'calvarophilia' I think, but that wouldn't alliterate). Today I found the perfect little whatsis to... do whatever with. What makes it perfect? It goes really well with my existing decor, samples of which are shown below.

Skull VJ for my movie collection

Crystal Skull #1: Lord of Dagger and Cups (Oo, So Magick!)

Crystal Skull #2: The Impartial Keeper of Time (skull and hourglass, eh)

The Skull from the Mountain of Magic (also known as Six Flags Magic Mountain)

The Tireless Eternal Zombie Guardian of my cereals

The Conquistador in the smart Morion (a piggybank my mom got for me in Tijuana)

And finally, my Dread Skull Ring of Power!

Great (Murderous) Minds Think Alike

I came across this today and it reminded me of an occasion from years ago.

I was driving somewhere with my buddy Stephen in the passenger seat. I don't remember where we were going, but we were on a highway, passing through an area that was obviously sparsely populated, perhaps in one of those unincorporated inter-city areas.

Eyeing a particularly overgrown area just off the right shoulder, I commented "This would be a great place to bury a body". Stephen then turned to me with surprise and amusement on his face, and said "That's what I was thinking!"

Friends for life.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Radishes Are Sexy


Is this spoiling your appetite for the juicy, crunchy root vegetable? Don't blame me -- Miyazaki opened that door with the elephantine Radish Spirit in Spirited Away^.

More Old Art


This was a special favorite of mine. Not the least because it embodied a whole range of my particular interests in a very clear way: fossils; mysterious mechanisms; multilevel 3D illusion; dreamy nostalgia invaded by dissonant 'real' objects; all flavored with a bit of wistful melancholy and packaged in a decorative cathedral-style shell. While preparing this image for upload, I realized that I was doing steampunk long before I ever heard the term^.

'The Flying Fish' was shown in an exhibition at a community art center. An older couple loved the piece and wished to acquire it. However, they offered a price which I considered inadequate remuneration for the labor I put into it. I made a counteroffer, suggesting a price which I considered a reasonable compromise between their offer and my pride.

They were adamant about the price they were willing to pay. If it weren't for my pathetic financial situation at the time, I would have refused...

A sad memory thereby became associated with a favorite piece.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No. '500'


As a painting major I never really took my sculpture classes very seriously. And even if I had worked harder in sculpture, at the time at USC and UCLA the in thing was all concept- and material-driven sculpture, and I don't know if I would have learned much in the figurative tradition.

So when I decided on a whim one day that I wanted to try making a face out of FIMO® (a German-brand polymer clay), I knew I would have to learn by doing. And it was not easy -- the first one took me three days to make(!).

A little background info seems appropriate here. At that time I was living in a shopfront on La Brea Avenue in Inglewood, between a Calypso musician and a drug dealer. I'm not kidding about the drug dealer -- Walter was his name, and he got himself in trouble one time because allegedly he'd pointed a gun at his wife and cops were called -- eight squad cars' worth of 'em, shotguns at the ready. He was nice to me though -- he gave me a bootleg copy of 'Boyz 'n the Hood'. He moved out after somebody took a shot at him in the alley; a couple of times after that I had surprise visits from his former clients looking to connect.

I well remember the night I finally finished First Face (actually a whole head; unfortunately now broken); that night about 1:00 AM there was a commotion just up the block. Someone had smashed the display window of one of the shops there and made off with some stuff. A squad car came and two cops went about checking out the scene; I offered them coffee in papercups but they politely declined.

But anyway, the point is that even though it took so much work to make that one little face, I did enjoy the process sufficiently that I was encouraged to do more. The second one 'only' took one day, so I knew I was on the way^. With each new one I got better at it and before long I had ten little faces staring back at me. Here is a pair from that first group of ten:

By then I was confident enough to set myself a real goal; I'd never thought of myself as a person with a lot of patience or willpower, so this was an excellent chance to truly challenge myself and prove that I had what it takes.

Well, as it turned out, my first goal of fifty faces was laughably easy to achieve -- I guess enjoying your work really makes a big difference -- so of course I had to re-set the goalposts, this time to one hundred. Here's a pair from that second set of fifty.

And after that number was reached, I set myself a really serious new challenge -- five hundred little faces of polymer clay.

That was a truly ambitious project, and it did take a lot of determination and time; periodically I would tire of the labor, stop for a time and wait until the energy returned. Sometimes the breaks lasted a long time and I was afraid I would just sputter out, but I somehow managed to start again each time. I guess I just didn't want to disappoint myself.

Later I moved out of the storefront studio and into a duplex, and I had the faces laid out on the living room floor. Once a repairman came in and started to stomp his booted way right through them before my scream stopped him; how a man can fail to notice hundreds of little faces staring up from the floor, I'll never know.

Anyway, finally the time came to make number five hundred, and I wanted to mark the occasion with a grand gesture. I had a bunch of rhinestones from when I worked for a company that made costume jewelry, so I decided it would be a sparkly jewel face. The photo at the top shows the result.

And of course, a recount revealed I had seriously miscounted; 500 had actually been passed some time before.

EDIT: Senior moment alert -- I forgot I uploaded No. 500 back in September! Oh well, this is a fuller account.

And I guess this means some day I'll have to write about the second 500.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Synchronistic Event No. 15 -- Spooky!


Today I made 35 mini paper cranes (during breaks and lulls in the work routine -- mostly)! At first I used any scraps of colored paper I found lying around. Later, my co-worker Erica gave me a packet of origami paper, asking just one crane in return, which I was glad to give her. Which was very nice and generous of her.

Here's a photo of the ones I made today (with the exception described below):

To think yesterday I was happy and proud to have made 14 more in four months^-- I hope before too long I'll feel about today's photo the way I feel today about yesterday's photo^.

Finally the workday came to an end and I went out by the front door, which was somewhat unusual, since my parking spot is close to the back door. Anyway, I spotted Erica talking with Yesenia, another friend and colleague. I started to walk past them, then went back to show them my bagful of colorful paper birds.

They were both suitably impressed and admiring, then Erica playfully said to Yesenia, "You can have one, too". O.K., I confess I was caught off-guard and a bit annoyed at first. By this time I had decided that I really was going to shoot for a thousand cranes, and I didn't want to give up a part of what was already an ongoing project; but then I felt what I can only describe as a Buddhist impulse -- I recognized that this was an opportunity to give away something I liked and wanted (as opposed to something cast-off or unwanted); so I reach into the plastic bag, grab a crane at random and hand it to Yesenia... and she exclaims -- "It's got my name on it!"

Well, both Erica and I craned (yes, it is) our necks to check it out, and sure enough, prominently visible on one wing was the name 'Yesenia'.

What are the odds? #1. I took the long way out today, instead of the usual, direct route; #2. I started to walk past the girls, then turned back to show them the origami cranes; #3. Erica impulsively decided I should give one to Yesenia; #4. at first I was not willing to give one up, but then changed my mind; #5. I grabbed a random bird out of a confused mass of nearly three dozen, the one that had Yesenia's name printed on it.

What makes it even more remarkable to my mind is the fact that Yesenia's crane was one of a pair made from opposite corners of a poster; they were mirror-twins of each other (the other twin appears at bottom center of the group photo at the top), so one might well say that from the very beginning this one crane was an extra copy, one I didn't really 'need' and could afford to give away. It's as if it were destined to go to Yesenia. How 'bout that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sam's Paper Cranes (So Far)

Back on February 21 I put up a photo of my eleven paper cranes. After nearly four months, here is an update.

It's a growing family.

Wonder if it'll take me another 10 years to make a thousand of THESE..?^

Today's Random Photograph

Seen by the side of the freeway, on the evening drive home.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More Favorites

Hmm, they're reminding me of myself, except for the not looking like me part.

These masks are all my 'children'; I sort of feel like a parent playing favorites when I highlight some of them like this, and not others. Good God, I'm actually feeling guilty! But I guess that means I'm really emotionally invested in them.

As who wouldn't be, after spending 10 years of their life, off and on, making over a thousand of anything.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sam Shoots Himself 2.5 Times


I was reading some online news today; I forget what I was reading at the time, but I came across a link to a website called 'Asian Poses'. And of course, it's about... poses Asian people -- mostly female Asian people -- assume when having their photos taken. Cute poses, cuter poses, and REALLY cute poses.

I'm not nicking any pictures from the website, but here's a sample of my own. In the photo below, which I took in Kyoto, Japan in the fall of 2007, the girl on the left is doing the most basic cute pose -- the 'Peace Sign'. Certainly, wishing for world peace is a laudable thing; what makes it a 'cute' activity, I don't know -- but there you are. I also remember taking a photo of a whole bunch of schoolgirls doing the same, but I couldn't find it. I assume I'll come across it at some time in the future when I least expect or need it. Not that a guy ever needs to actually 'need' a photo of a bunch of schoolgirls in uniform doing something cute for him.

Anyway, it inspired me to take these 'selca' (contraction of 'self-camera':  self-shot photos) shots. Because today was 'Dress Like A Mafioso Day' at work. And for once I wasn't posing in the bathroom mirror.

When I checked them out later at home, something odd caught my attention. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, I don't know, but in the second photo it looks like the camera was shaken, or it fired twice, or anyway something happened, and as a result the objects in the background are blurred, or imaged twice. Just the background, though; not the main subject -- when the two photos are compared, it's fairly striking that the faces are equally in focus, yet the backgrounds differ sharply.

If the disturbance was caused by the camera swinging in an arc, but in situ -- without moving out of place -- naturally the parallactic displacement would be the most noticeable in the objects that are the farthest from the camera; the cuff of the sleeve would be more or less in focus, and as you moved down the arm you should see increasing separation. On the other hand, if the camera as a whole moved but maintained its angle, the entire photograph would be affected, with all details blurred equally. If the camera both moved out of place and swung around, the effect would be a combination of the two. In any case, my face should be blurred, either by the same amount as the objects on the desk, or less than they, but more than the forearm -- but no such effect is apparent (what looks like doubling of some locks of hair are actually shadows caused by the flash). I looked at fine features like the outlines of the eyes and the nose at high magnification, but they are just as sharp (in so far as is possible with my little point-and-shoot camera) as the stripes on the sleeve.

So what could account for this schizophrenic image? It's as if two separate photos were combined to make this one. A clean shot of the face, superimposed over a blurry one of the background.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Today's Hummingbird Photos

I really enjoy watching hummingbirds in flight. They hover in place, then suddenly dart away, only to stop in midair and hover again -- no other birds can do this. These tiny birds enjoy the extra freedom of insect flight. And maybe I'm anthropomorphizing, but they really seem to enjoy all that flitting about. Young antelope may 'pronk' in place -- suddenly springing high in the air with all four feet -- for the same reason; in spontaneous expression of playful exuberance. I know I feel like this sometimes, too -- when I'm feeling especially lively and light on my feet while out on one of my walks (for some reason especially in cool damp weather -- maybe it's the ions in the air or something), I've wanted to jump and shout and prance, but of course I never give in to the impulse -- I'm already known as somewhat of an odd egg around the office. On the other hand, around my downtown neighborhood with its 'Blade Runner' mix of characters I probably won't stand out so much.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Species?

I can't really point out what it is -- I guess it's just a feeling. It just seems to me there's something a little different about these daimones.

Maybe it's something about their attitude? They do seem more pensive -- more self-absorbed perhaps, and less shy than the others. Also they seem less caring about who sees them. Perhaps that's also what gives them their air of withdrawal and monumentality.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Intense Iridescence

Usually these sunbows are not so vivid, but this one had an unusually intense segment. Plus the larger view made for a nice dramatic image overall.