Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hell's back door is at the end of a long shit maze.

Therapy. Some of us need it, some think they need it, and some people provide it and shouldn't. My wife Tana agrees. A lot of people thrive on keeping their demons in their back pocket. Artists are good at that. Especially that classically damaged fine artist. Like a lactose intolerance. You crave it, you eat it, crazy bloating and then wham...severe diarrhea. But it's the way the artist channels that creative mental diarreah onto the canvas that makes it unique. Still with me? They need this disasterous process. It makes for good art. They set up the paints and easel, then the bloating, which is the "torture thyself with liquor and drugs phase"...then the release. Brushes fly and paint splatters and who cares what is left on the canvas. It's out of the brain and into the frame. And though this example is so "stereotypical artist cliché" it's true somehow on a smaller scale for a lot of us. Just putting something creative down on paper can take a fair amount of courage. "It must be good, better than last time, something different...significant ART!" And when it's your paycheck, it's even harder.

I must admit, cheese is wicked good, but chances are good that it was squeezed from an overly hormoned sad cow's nipple by some factory farm robot. So everything in moderation right? Nah! If that saying were true, we'd be well-rounded nobodys without any particular skill. Cheese, yes maybe we could all cut back on that (and that's a whole different post), but some things are best in excess.

I think what most people need most in this crazy world is simple meditation. Fuck everything that happened in the past and what may happen in the future for just a window of time everyday. For 10 minutes, or even 5, don't do shit. Just veg out. And do it preferably sitting up. It needs to be a fully conscious, continuous brain fart and not be affiliated with sleeping in any way. I'm sure early man just instinctually stared at his balls from time to time and didn't think two thoughts about it. And it's the people today that can do this, meditation that is, that are better off.

In the end of 2007 after a long awaited holiday vacation, I was bitch smacked physically and mentally by some...thing. After no doctor could tell me what it was i was experiencing, I thought maybe it was anxiety, and when I mentioned that, the doctors were quite quick to steer that convenient direction. Where did it come from? Years of not sleeping enough? The way my Father put it, "I think you got your Mom's worry, and my perfectionism." He's right and that's made for a really mean combo I guess. Funny enough it was my father who brought this to light and not my psychologist who really didn't help me at all.

Somehow between college and now, I got the idea that I shall never be bored and every moment of my life I must be doing something productive. So add that on to the already existing "everything I do must be done to the best of my ability". OK, fine, then I mixed in that everything I do during every moment of the day regardless of what it is, must be done perfectly AND up to the standards of someone who's a professional in the field. And when I couldn't, and I often didn't, even if it was fixing plumbing under the sink, drawing BART passengers as zombies (not a far stretch in the AM), or wiping my ass, (and there are professionals at wiping asses you know), I mentally beat myself up. Always took criticism way too hard. Wondered why so many people were flopping around watching sports when they could be creative and productive. Judging. Yuck. Eventually I would catch myself zoning out on nothing and my jaw getting tighter and tighter. I was staying up late every night working on some fucking project. Started spinning my wheels when there was nowhere to go. Then an eye twitch that didn't go away, some blurry vision...then straight to hell in one day.

I'll skip the metaphors and tell you I really thought I was dying for awhile there. When the shaking and mental tension didn't go away, I hit the doc up for meds. I didn't have the time to curl up in a ball and screw my eyes around shaking like a hypothermic chihuahua. And that's how I spent my vacation really. My doc started me on some shit that was meant for schizophrenics. Zyprexa. Oh and supposedly you could die from taking this crap, slide into a nice coma, or if you're lucky you'd just put on like 50 pounds a month. No joke. This "med" was recently in Rolling Stone magazine as the one pill you should stay far way from unless you really really wanted diabetes and a drooling disorder. Well, luckily the severe nausea and intense workouts fought off most of the bulge and after 7 months of restlessness and falling asleep while freaking out, I called it quits and pleaded for a change. I skipped over to a different concoction of Klonopin and Buspar. The buspar made me feel like somebody stopped time, spun me around in my chair, tossed some shitty speed down my throat and then restarted time all in about 10 seconds after taking it. And the Klonopin made me feel like I just drank tequila for breakfast. But if you can believe it, my brain was coming back online for the first time in months. So I cut out the buspar and stuck to the Klonopin which is pretty much Hulked out valium.

Some days I thought suicide, some days I thought I'd check myself into a mental ward. And the stress this has brought on my loved ones has been the hardest pill to swallow. My wife and daughter, hanging in's been rough on them too. Thanks guys. I love you!

Today, I'm on generic Zoloft and off the klonopin. I'm doing a LOT better. Heading out hell's rear exit and I'm learning to not look back. But hell always has tricks up it's sleeves. I'm still dealing with mental and physical bullshit, but it's nothing like what it used to be. More like pigmy horseshit, which is smaller and stinks less.

Some are afraid to speak up about certain health situations because they feel it may make them seem weak. Meds and whatnot. Well, over the last year and a half, nearly everyone I've talked to about this who are going through something similar, they are some of the strongest, most creative and intelligent people I've met. And most times it's their crazy monkey brain in a time of physical fatigue that starts them down the dark path of anxiety, or depression or bipolar or OCD or some kind of mental stress. I'm stronger and wiser for going through this. Who knows what happened to me for sure. I don't, and the friggin docs don't obviously. But I'm not spending time wondering anymore. If I didn't have anxiety before I've definitely been through my fair share in the last couple years. If we could run cars on anxiety instead of fuel, LA's smog would clear up in a week. It's a vicious cycle that snowballs itself more and more. Anxiety makes for more anxiety. The best way to deal with it is to accept it and not fear it. Seems impossible when you're in it, but sometimes it's the answers that are most paradoxical that work best. So where does this leave us? Don't worry about it knucklehead! Just twist that self-loathing into self-deprecation and generously palette knife that diarrhea on the canvas without thinking too much and sell it to someone who wants to adopt that psychological bowel movement because it matches their couch....metaphorically speaking.

I wish you and your families all good health. And feel free to call me if you need to talk about something related.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New York!

Well it seems that I'm heading to New York to visit my good buddy Shay at the end of July. An early birthday gift from my wife Tana. "Happy Birthday love. Now get out of here!" I've never been to New York or anywhere out that direction so I'm pretty excited.

Here's my list of things I need to see and do as a tourist:

• Channel my grandfather through Oda Mae Brown

• Get a pizza delivered by Spiderman

• Watch the Ghostbusters drive the Statue of Liberty around covered in positively-charged mood slime.

• See King Kong's chalk outline next to the empire state building

• Get kicked out by the Soup Nazi

• Search for robot parts in Johnny 5's salvage yard.

• Get a drink in John Maclane's dive bar "The Yipee Ki Yay"...make fists with my toes.

• Play a game of hoops at the X-mansion. I didn't know they had basketball courts.

• Go through the portal to John Malcovich's brain in the 7½ floor of the Mertin Flemmer building

I'm not holding my breathe but I'll keep my eyes peeled for ninja turtles, muppets or gremlins while I'm there. Did Mick Dundee end up in New York or Australia in the end?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fashion tips from a character artist.

Okay, so people that know me are aware that I'm not the most stylish guy. Metro-sexual? I don't remember the last time I had a proper shave let alone my nails buffed. There are rules though for the common guy. My rules, yes.

1) Don't "double denim". Otherwise known as the Canadian Tuxedo. That's a denim shirt and jeans. Same goes for a denim jacket. And just in case you found denim socks, you should know better. Doesn't matter if it all matches or not.

2) Avoid pleated pants...unless you're Harvey Keitel. They make skinny people look like corporate MC Hammer fans, and on large people, even if they're loose, it look like you're suffocating your intestines. It's just a no.

3) Don't wear clothes (especially leather) that are the same color as you! It'll look like someone popped you out of a play-doh mold. It's just freaky. It's bad enough wearing clothes that are the same value in contrast as your skin, but the color, ew. Same goes for hair. Don't dye your hair the same color as your skin. It's just nasty. In fact...

4) unless you're super alternative, don't die your hair. Grey is cool and natural. And if you're the kind of guy that could actually benefit from this, you're probably not skilled enough to match your own hair color. And coming from an artist, it's always easy to spot a color that naturally would never happen with your skin tone let alone nature. And if you get caught, you're in the shitty spot where the men start sniffing out your insecurity. Own that grey.

5) Elastic. If it aint in your underwear, try and avoid it especially in pants. And if you see jeans with elastic around the waist (fine for young kids) and even worse the cuffs (not fine for anyone), cut them up and burn them. They need to not exist.

6) Above the knee shorts and or strappy sandals on men. I can't stand the boring dad guy who thinks he can pull off strappy revealing leather footwear. If you're not some bad ass Italian dude, it's going to look nasty with white feet and the toes peeking out. It's flip-flops or shoes buster. Tevas don't count as flip-flops. They count as ugly unless your hiking through a bog. And the shorts, please go longer. Unless you're in great physical shape, we don't need to see the hairy thighs.

7) Baldness. If you're losing it, go really short or shave it. There's a lot of distance between Gallagher and the Hulkster. Gallagher always looked awful and nobody would tell Mr. Hogan least not to his face. Plus he had a bandana on most of the time right? Most of the time baldness with long sides and back (the skullet) is downright offensive to the eyes. This one should be in the men's guide to living.

8) On the hair topic...if you've got a regular ol' plain joe combed to the side hair cut, or even parted in the middle, don't do facial hair. It looks like you're confused. "Well, I want to look professional, but I want to experiment with maybe one of those soul patches." Hair combed back, totally bald, buzzed, spiky, intentionally messy, long and in a pony tail (dangerous)... that all works usually. So switch up the top if you want to mess with the bottom.

9) Clothes bearing the brand name in big print on the garment. Everyone's seen the sweatshirt with "Old Navy" or "Gap" or "Fubu" or whatever on it usually in ultra obvious big print. Are you sponsored? Then don't buy it. The retailer should be paying you to be a walking fucking billboard.

10) Last on this list is jewelry. Don't mix gold and silver. Be careful with bracelets unless you're a hippie. Necklaces and rings are fine usually but don't overdo it. We hopefully learned some lessons in the 70's and 80's.

A lot of these rules can be eased up on if you're ethnic. There's something about Caucasian men not being able to pull off bad style. I'm cool with a shirtless fat black dude, Mexican or Hawaiian. But a pink sweaty white guy belly? Because that pigment isn't present, there's a certain level of translucency that just seems gross. Think about body builders and the crazy amount of effort they put towards tanning themselves before one of those flexing events. Even a rock hard He-Man body looks weird all pasty. Mustaches, bald spots, even dudes that wear shorts all year long. It's less offensive on the darker skin.

Use em, lose em, break em. Those are my ten rules for normal guys (are there any normal guys?). All I know is the under-appreciated character artist who creates people or "beings" in all shapes and sizes usually or at some point must dress them. So most of us spend a lot of time observing what clothing works and what doesn't work for people of different body types. Beware of the overly styled "artist" with perfect hair and top brand name clothes. They probably suck at art, unless their art is clothes. Then they're probably rare and legit. The normal artist throws on pants and a shirt and then gets on with the day being creative. Are they aware of fashion? Of course. Is it pointless? No but It's definitely worth a laugh at times. The pointy toed 80's heels that came back in a few years ago? "it extends the leg." is what I heard when I asked a fellow female co-worker why. It extends your foot you pumpkin head. So we have a whole bunch of girls with big looking feet. Yay. If they only made over-sized gloves and adam's apples popular, trannys would totally be in the game. But it blew over of course and in it's place we all had to endure the "belt that holds nothing up" phase which is still kind of trying to crawl out of the sarlacc pit, but come on now...pointless. Die already. What's it doing there in the middle of a shirt? It's like a hiked up fancy fanny pack without the pack. What next? Crimped hair and shoulder pads? Come on Kirsty Alleys. Rock those pads. It extends uh the shoulders.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I phooey

Iphone, Iphone Iphone. Marsha Marsha Marsha. Everyone's got one. Don't you? Well I don't. I nearly jumped on the technology train when I saw a new application called Brushes that turns the iphone into a sketchbook with different brushes, colors and works sort of like photoshop. And then another program that works like a low-fi 4-track recorder. Notice how I'm not writing "app". That's because I can't stand that abbreviation when spoken. One of the fathers at my daughter's school sent me over the edge on kid's camp night at an impromptu "multi-dad beer escape" to Triple Rock brewery. An A-1 dweeb pulling out his iphone like a shiny little sports car when one of the dads needed to call his wife. After the call the father lingered, scrolling and showing a slight interest in the device. Dweeb dad says wagging his tail, all bonered out, "Hey man, what cha doin'? Downloadin' some apps?" Argh. I think you had to be there.

It's not that I'm opposed to the iphone. It's a wonderful accomplishment. It's that everywhere I go, everyone is totally tuned out to the world around them. We have friends that come over for dinner and we're at the dinner table and the dude's fiddling with his iphone...oblivious. Put that damn thing down. I'm not jealous. Anyone can go and buy one. And I would and could have a legit reason for owning the thing: writing, drawing, recording music, animating. It could help with all that. But fuck least for now. The service plan is ridiculous, and I'm quite content and more so every day with my spiral bound sketchbook. Pen on paper will always win for me. And what of all those hours lost goofing off with lame little technological diversions and peering into small flickering screens? The last thing I need after 8 hours of staring at a large flickering screen in the office everyday. In ten years my sketchbooks will still be on the shelf filled, one of a kind, and that iphone will be in landfill with nothing to show for most instances. And the average person will most likely go through more than one. It's true, we will look back on the computers of today and laugh at their awkwardness and the things they are incapable of doing. That is if one ever takes a break from their "I-whatever" to realize that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Caffeine. A blessing and a curse.

Started coloring it, then said screw it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Decorating the office

So I was lucky enough to be on the "beautification team" at work these last few months. I've retouched and colored some character art to hang around the office. Take a look!