Thursday, July 31, 2008

Master of Jobs!

Okay, so the title may be a slight exaggeration, but I been applying for a lot of jobs lately that all sound pretty cool. There's a sense of euphoria I've been getting every time I send in an application because I know I'm well qualified for these positions. Being able to afford to pay rent and buy groceries are exciting prospects as well.

Come to think of it, did you know that my initials form an anagram of the word JOB? That's right. Evil beware, because BOJ is on the JOB! Gainful employment is nigh!

Onto another topic, I pose the question: "Is simulated evil still evil?" This question came up when we were recently discussing the fact that Games Workshop recently released a new Chaos Demons army for its popular Warhammer 40k tabletop game. Demons are nothing new to Warhammer, but this is the most they've ever been pushed to the forefront in the game. Is it troubling that teenagers can construct armies of demonic forces aligned to the evil chaos gods? These are some of the most amazingly-detailed miniatures that GW has produced to date, but is there a subtext we should be concerned about?

It is important to stress the fact that there aren't really any good guys in the Warhammer 40k storyline. It's a game that is a hodgepodge of every "bad dude" in space, including mutants, witches, alien bugs, killer robots, pirate raiders, inquisitors, space marines, monsters, rebels, and yes, demons. All of this is set in a gothic future where the prospects for survival are grim, and each of the aforementioned armies has its own agenda.

Personally, I think it's an epic marketing ploy by GW to get people to buy as many of their products as possible. The biggest danger may be to your checking account.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Scuttle Me Timbers

My friends and I have been playing a lot of Axis&Allies Naval Battles lately. Board games are fun, especially when they involve battleships and rolling dice.

My resume should actually look something like this:

-Taught six quarters of college art classes at OSU - 2004-06

-Worked as a special event assistant at an art center - 2007-08

-Commanded the battleship Yamashiro during the Battle for Leyte Gulf - 1944

-Adept at assessing tactical situations in the heat of battle

-Works well with children

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Umbilicus, part 2

After some more brainstorming, I came up with a quick roughdraft for the gameboard. Nothing is concrete at this point, but I like the idea of a hex-based grid. It's been used by a lot of different systems successfully, and has an aesthetic appeal that I find to my liking.

Truthfully, I need some help. I don't have any experience writing rules for games. I may ask around and see if anyone I know has a knack and/or interest for this sort of thing.

At present the score is Sea Monsters: 1, Deep-Sea Miners: 0

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


My friend Jeff and I discussed the idea of developing our own original game system tonight. A hodgepodge of different ideas were thrown around, and we talked a bit about the sorts of things we'd like to see. I threw out the idea of miners working in a hostile environment to claim resources. I like the idea, especially if the miner was attached to an umbilical hose that kept them alive. Enter the threat of the Leviathan, a deep-sea creature that roams the ocean floor looking for things to chomp. Players would have to be crafty to protect their hapless miners from this and a variety of other obstacles. Sound like a fun board game?

The pros: Jeff has taught himself the basics of mold-making and casting metal figures. He's an AutoCAD wizard and engineer. I'm an artist. We're both prolific model-builders and we both love games. With our pooled abilities I am led to believe that there's an outside chance we could market our own tabletop games. We would be doing what we love-- unfettered creativity, and beyond!

Despite the pros, there is a looming mountain of cons casting a shadow over this plan. For one, we would need a pile of money for start-up costs. Secondly, as entrepreneurs in a risky venture, we would be shunned by society as weirdos until real returns on our investments were made. I'm not sure how we'd get our foot in the door with this one either, nor where said door is actually located. I guess we don't have much to lose at this point. Starting at the bottom is easy when the only way to go is up.

Monday, July 14, 2008


marcus rothcowitzFor the past few days I've been reading up on Mark Rothko, the painter. I'm not really interested in giving a rundown of his biography which is already to be found in great detail in other corners of the internet; I am more interested in asking the question as to why art critiques consistently describe his later paintings as "achieving an expression of transcendent spirituality."

Spirituality? As in non-corporal? I checked the dictionary to be sure. Webster's describes spiritual as "Of or pertaining to the moral feelings or states of the soul, as distinguished from the external actions; reaching and affecting the spirits."

So what's the big deal if someone paints spiritually transcendent paintings? In truth, I'm trying to figure out if art critics are throwing this phrase around as a two-cent word, or are they actually attempting to say that Rothko's paintings have made them aware of an invisible human soul divorced from all physical matter?

Granted, Rothko concedes that his later paintings were meant to bypass our vocabulary of recognizable symbols, but I believe this was an attempt to create a visual counterpart to that of music. Music bypasses visual contexts and reaches the brain through entirely different avenues. Why can't a painting attempt to find alternative routes as well?

Friday, July 11, 2008

No Man is an Eyeland

eyelandEsther had to watch the movie "Red Dawn" for her Cold War class, so we set aside the evening for some serious movie-watching. Some friends also came over, and we ended up throwing an impromptu Communist party to mark the occasion.

It was a night that would have made Lenin proud. Our neighbor, Ken, managed to scare up some Eastern Bloc beer that wasn't half-bad. I did my part by constructing a small ready-made sculpture out of a tack hammer and sickle that would have given Marcel Duchamp reason to pause. And then there were the grilled cheese sandwiches-- lots of grilled cheese sandwiches. As a matter of fact, I was still eating them after all our friends went home. The People are thankful for Comrade Brandi and her amazing quadruple-buttered technique. But I digress. The real star of the evening was the movie...

The movie was horrible. We probably wouldn't have been able to sit through it if not for the company. I alternated between shushing people and talking loudly throughout, earning myself a special gold medal for hypocrisy, but we had some good laughs all the same. And here's the primary reason to watch: Red Dawn is all about the hats. If you ever sit down to watch this movie, get a pen and notebook and start jotting down descriptions of all the headgear that pops up. By the end you'll have a specimen catalog to rival any serious ornithologist.

I was thinking about going on at length about how important it is for a person to have good relationships with friends and family, but the grilled cheese and beer have left me bloated and fickle. I'd be easy pickings in a life-or-death situation, like say, Communists parachuting into my backyard with ill intentions.

My vote for the next ridiculous Cold War-inspired movie from the 80's that we need to watch is definitely Rocky IV.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Clever Invention

googcatfinderOur cat, Cocoa, is a headstrong little empress who is the self-styled ruler of our household. She's also a notorious coward. Combine these two traits, and you have an animal that likes to go outside, but grossly overreacts to such mundane characters as the mail carrier or a squirrel. This may be the sole reason we never got cable. We sit on the porch and watch the cat for entertainment. She explores the yard at length until something freaks her out. Her instincts for flight take over, and a manic episode plays out where she runs to the front door and begs for her life (For surely today is the day that the mailman will destroy her).

Recently, Cocoa has taken to spending nights outside. This is fine since I have developed an ingenious system for finding and retrieving her every morning. In collaboration with Google Maps and Skynet, I have produced the Cat Finder application. This technology allows a person to track and locate any feline in the solar system. Since the assets were already in place, I only had to coerce the sponsors that it was a worthy investment. Google asked that we call it the "Google" Cat Finder for consumer-user-brand-awarenessiosity. Skynet was aboard for this project on the sole condition that an "air-strike" option be included in the interface, with future updates to give users the option to  teleport cat cyborgs into the past to eliminate John Connor.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sick Day

selfI managed to contract a stomach bug from my dear wife this morning. I'm trying to figure out whether sitting with a blank expression and vacant thoughts is one of the symptoms, or if it's something I've developed on my own. I'm half-expecting some horrible consequence from my inaction. There is a high probability that Future Orion will barge out of a temporal portal to scold me and put me to work. For all I know, he already came today.

On the subject of time-traveling, I could also easily believe that some Orion from the Past will jump out of the hall closet and recoil in horror at what he will become. I paint the scene as he sees it: A dim room, with sunlight filtering through slats in the blinds, filled with clutter. The floor is covered with tarps and monstrous creations lay unmoving and half-finished on work tables. Two chairs in the corner: One holds a ball of sleeping fur. The other is filled with a long, skeletal figure tapping away on a keyboard. His eyes stare vacantly into a PC monitor. He's writing a blog. Oh God, no.

"Go back to your own time, lad. Stop this from happening. There is still a chance," I say as he backs away, hands covering his face in horror. He returns to the past and redoubles his efforts. Good boy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Career in the Arts

drainedEver since I was a wee lad, barely old enough to hold a pencil, I have never stopped making artwork. It's what I was made to do, otherwise I would have given up long ago and pursued a career in boxing or some other respectable life dream.

Intent on seeing this art thing through, I went to college for six years, collected a B.F.A. in Art (Painting) in 2004 and my M.F.A. (Painting & Drawing) in 2006. Give me a paintbrush, charcoal stick, glue gun, or video camera and I could make you something nice.

So where am I now? Mostly unemployed, scrambling to make ends meet. I calculated today that it would take me selling a new painting or sculpture every month for $5,000 to break even with the costs of living. How, you ask? Galleries that provide shows for artists typically take a cut of anywhere between 50%-60% of each sale made. That would leave me with $2,500 to $2,000 per piece sold, not even factoring in the taxes taken out. My family's total monthly expenditure is in the ballpark of $2,200 a month. That's still cutting it close.

Even if it was possible to sustain such a remarkable turnaround rate as $5k worth of art a month, where does one find a market? I'd need to look in several cities. When a gallery and artist form an alliance, you can expect to see exhibitions by that artist once a year at most. Any gallery worth their salt would also prohibit the artist from showing in any other gallery within 50-100 miles of their location to prevent others from capitalizing on their investment. Fair enough, business is business.

Next, we look at the cost of exhibiting in other cities. Shipping artwork is expensive, and increases the likelihood that a piece will be damaged en route to a location. I imagine this is where it pays to have dear, true friends working in these gallery positions. I wouldn't have the time to drive the work cross-country since I'll be busy meeting studio deadlines and mailing out slides to new cities.

A person capable of showing and selling their work to such a degree has the potential to build a market for him or herself. With notoriety, one can expect natural cost increases to reflect demand. Here is where artwork prices are buoyed to ridiculous heights, and the wistful dream of hobnobbing within the high, dark bastions of New York City's art elite is realized. And who wouldn't like to be bourgeois? Most likely, this brief flare of popularity and its subsequent passing would be far too damaging to a human being. The rise and fall of an ego is a great and terrible thing. It may be better to live in obscurity than be contorted by such forces.

Another option available is to simply make the artwork and let everything else follow. If you could look into the future and tell me I'll never sell another painting, would I stop making artwork? I don't think so. Making stuff makes me happy. It sucks that I can't make a real living off of my work, but there are worse things out there.

Thanks for reading.