15 May 2007

Robot Heads

Alright, so this is how this is gonna go: I'll take a couple months off, thinking about writing this 'n' that, getting ideas for different directions in which to take the blogging endeavor, forgetting most of the details about anything creative I've done, and then I'll make a half-assed effort to document it all one night when I have a few hours home alone. Agreed? So, it's end of June. At least I won't have gone an entire calendar month without posting. I wrote the following sometime mid-May (apparently the 15th -- I didn't realize it would get published with the original draft date up top -- now I have to add another post before June is through!), already moaning about how unlikely I am to stay on top of this blog. However, I didn't have photos to post, so I let it go fallow. But nevermind -- enjoy some old news!:

Okay, right off the bat (right off the blat?) I can see the two main problems this blog will present. First, of course, is the challenge to do something creative every week (or so); second, and perhaps more formidable, is the challenge to document it and report it here... but enough whining. Get bizzow!

The past week's been a hectic one. We had the last three nights of The Good Doctor's run, with the wrap party Saturday night, then a Total Annihilation gig on Sunday afternoon at 12 Galaxies, for the Mission Creek Music Fest. TA has another gig coming up this Saturday morning at the MakerFaire, at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. I think we got that gig through Jesse's connections with the BoingBoing crowd, who overlap with the Make magazine crowd, who are behind the fair. All of which leads me to the past week's creative project: cardboard robot helmets for us to wear at the MakerFaire show.

I followed a BoingBoing link to a Scopitone by Les 5 Gentlemen, "Cara-Lin". It warranted a link, I guess, due to what was described as the "Stendhal syndrome-like" dancing of the nightclub crowd in the video. The song wasn't all that interesting, but it did rock (actually, watching it again now, it's got some pretty interesting playing on it), and the atmosphere of the club reminded me of the video for The New Pornographers' "The Laws Have Changed", a fave of mine (which, watching again now to research the link, is a fucking blast). Also, the whole Scopitone phenomenon was kinda intriguing. Apparently these things were like video jukeboxes back in the '60s. So, I flipped through a few of the videos on the site's archive, looking for other scorchers and came across The Tornados' "Robot". Now, here again, the song ain't all that, but the video is absolutely goofy. The guys in the band are milling about in the woods, with robot helmets on, playing their instruments and making out with some girls. Then they take the helmets off, presumably to make out more efficiently -- it turns out they're just regular guys! -- and shortly thereafter, the cops come wandering by and chase them all off with some canine back-up. So, anyway, the robot head thing was intriguing, what with TA's robotic MySpace tag line from Mr. Demon's "Rock and Roll on a Friday" lyrics, and the robotic headline from TA's own BoingBoing link last year. I showed the boys the Scopitone, got them into the idea, and tried to convince Eddy to start making some helmets. He, however, insisted he didn't know how, so I stepped in to fashion them myself. Here's some pictures. I gave Eddy the first two I made, for Pete and himself, and unfortunately forgot to photograph them in their raw un-foiled state. Then, of course I forgot to photograph any of them in their earliest stages. Here's some preliminary sketches...

...And that's as far as that post got. I didn't have the preliminary sketches photographed yet, so nothing happened 'til today. Now, I've got photos of the MakerFaire gig, and plenty more to talk about, but it's getting late. I'll post this and address the rest later, so I can jam up my post count!


03 May 2007

Good Doctor

The play we've been working on at ACSF since the beginning of the year opens tonight. We had a dress rehearsal run through last night, open to the public. Most of the audience were friends of mine who came as part of Kevin's 26th birthday celebration. I was happy to have them there. What I didn't expect was that they'd be a very quiet crowd. They insisted they enjoyed the show, were very impressed, etc., but I think they were too intimidated by the unusual surroundings (small theater, amateur acting?) to express their reactions audibly. They were excessively polite, to the point that the cast was bewildered by their silence. We all figure the people who pay full price for the main show will probably be a little more savvy about audience response.

Anyway, I'm thrilled to be at a point where this whole process is almost through. It's a bit of a rush for me to have started this blog thing while the play is going on, because I literally have no spare time for this nonsense. But just to keep some creative endeavors in evidence, here's a snapshot, above left, of the flyer I laid out for the show. With minor changes, we arranged it in a two sided 4x6 postcard and printed up a few to pass out. I'm a little curious about copyright concerning this. I didn't draw the image of the woman and the bear. It's from a poster for a magazine (I think) called Berliner Secession, from April 1907. The artist is anonymous, and the magazine, I would guess, is defunct (I haven't researched), but I found the image in a book of graphic design from that era. So, by copying the image from that book, am I violating their publisher's copyright? Also, the woman was originally holding a palate with paintbrushes. I erased that, and did a Google image search for "theater masks", which yielded a black and white jpeg of masks similar to those you see her holding here. I cleaned them up a little, altered some details, much like I did for the lady and the bear; but beyond that, they're just ripped off the web and pasted. Oh, and then I went back looking for the source, but a new Google image search didn't turn up these particular masks.

I'm not making any money on this (the flyer, or the play), and it was a useful learning tool for Photoshop, which I'm only recently becoming familiar with.

Oh, and I picked the image because -- besides looking good -- it featured a woman and a bear. Shelley inserted a scene into the play, that in itself is a smaller one-act play, by Chekhov himself, called, alternatively, The Bear, or The Boor (which brings up it's own copyright issues -- she paid for the rights to perform The Good Doctor, but we've cut a number of scenes and added this one, without expressed written consent. What's it matter?). Shelley liked the idea of using the bear for the flyer. Unfortunately, in the program, and in the lines of the scene, for this production, the character is referred to only as the Boor. So, there's really no connection. Incidentally, what's a boor? How is it different from a bore, or a boar, as those are used to describe certain people? Is there any connection to the Boers? Were they boorish, or boarish, or boring?

01 May 2007


I just wanted to add that somewhere recently, I think probably in an interview with some young actor (if I can figure out where, and it's online, I'll post a link), I heard someone enthusing about just wanting to work with people who love what they're doing, who are passionate about what they're doing. I felt pretty indicted by it, 'cuz, well, not only would I enjoy loving what I'm doing, but how much joy am I detracting from everyone's work experience around me? The guys who work with me at the shop, the cast in this play, the boys in the band, and not least, the woman I'm planning to marry -- finding joy in what I'm up to is a social responsibility!