Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stocking the Pride Songbook

Sitting in a microbrewery in Old San Juan last night (long story, I'll get to it), and after the band finished their set, a group of drunken patrons gathered around the piano and began to sing familiar songs while their friend - a pretty facile player - accompanied them.

They started out with a Spanish-language version of Hey Jude.  Yesenia turned to me and said (slightly drunkenly), "Baby, you should show them how it's done!"  Which was pretty much what I'd already been thinking, but then it occurred to me that the pack of piano songs I carry around in my head really aren't ideal for public singalongs.  Sure, I can play through all of Shine On, You Crazy Diamond by heart if you have twenty minutes to kill, but, let's face it - ARP solos and blues guitar riffing lose something in translation to solo piano.

Also, the guy currently playing was better than me, so if I were to sit down and play, I'd better bring the material to mask my shortcomings.  More artists have built their success on such a dodge, so I'd be in good company.

The piano songs I do carry around with me aren't much more worthy as crowd pleasers.  The minute I lay down the first 16 bars of Miami 2017 is pretty much the point at which I expect the room to be empty.

So the solution would seem to be either a) commit to memory songs that people actually want to hear, or b) put my ego away and dismiss such thoughts as the silly things they are.  Obviously, I'm too emotionally stunted for 'b,' so it falls to me to select a few songs and then learn how to play them.

I reached that conclusion sitting at the bar, nursing our sampler round, but I just couldn't think of what songs those would be, and no-one else could, either.  Yesenia's friend Anthony, staying on the Billy Joel tip, suggested You May Be Right, but I pointed out that he may be crazy, since the song is mostly a guitar driven new wave pastiche, right from the opening riff.

So let's consider this Rambler a call for song suggestions. And it may be your own sanity you save, since chances are good you'll be at a public place with me, a piano and some alcohol at some point in the future, so you'd better pick wisely.  Consider this the jukebox of the misty future, and put your virtual quarters in now.  Songs should be well known, catchy, with piano prominently featured (or an adaptable guitar arrangement), and it wouldn't hurt if there were a nice little tinkly bit so I can show off my mad skills.  Or lack thereof.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Return to Form

Here's a director I'd pretty much given up on - Terry Gilliam.  I admittedly haven't seen Tideland, but he's worked so sporadically in the last twenty years, and the only film I had seen - The Brothers Grimm - was a disappointing misfire, muddled and small, like an episode of Shelly Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre that never quite ended.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, while certainly not quite possessing the otherworldly feel of his near-perfect 80's trilogy of Time Bandits, Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, does manage to get at something of what made Gilliam great in the first place.  That feeling of slipping, multilayered reality; the curious moral choices; the buffeting by larger forces; all done so well, here.  I'm still on the fence as to whether or not he's adapted to CGI well - seeing as how his in-camera aesthetic was what made his original films so unique - but the worlds envisioned are so wonderful that I may have to just give in.  Plus, they did some extensive model-work for some very brief shots, which was probably a far more expensive way to go about it, so, call me mollified.

The script is nicely oblique, leaving out chunks of exposition in favor of dream-like logic.  It's probably going to alienate some, but I like a film that just jumps ahead and hopes that you're adept enough to fill in the blanks.

Plus, the cast: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Jude Law & Colin Farrell all deliver the goods, and Lily Cole was surprisingly good.

Let's call that an 8 out of 10, all right?  Maybe I'm just feeling generous since it exceeded my diminished expectations, and it was preceded on our DVD player by It's Complicated, but I did like it quite a bit.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Seven Minutes in Rockland

I have to get rolling by 11 am or so - seven minutes from now - to get ready for a dental appointment at 12: 30.  A normal human being wouldn't need ninety minutes to get to an appointment only fifteen minutes away, but I'm very slow at these things and I've been conditioning myself to add more lead time to appointments, lest I now always be 5-10 minutes late.  Which is the norm.

First nice day since the weekend, so today became a towel-washing day.  You might think I waited because our dryer is broken.  You'd be mostly wrong - we've predominantly used the clothesline during the summer for most of our married life, and I normally wait for a nice day to do laundry anyway.  No doubt, the string of non-drying weather might have made me reconsider if the dryer were an option, but, frankly, those clothesline towels dry fast and are the absolute in water-absorption when used.

The big thing that I need to do to get the backyard fully functional is to strip back all of the branches overhanging the yard.  I went up last summer with one of those extended cutters and was able to get most of the lower branches - particularly the ones over the roof.  But the device is a huge pain in the ass and not remotely designed for use one-handed on a ladder while leaning back to the right at a weird angle.  So a couple of the main culprits hung tantalizingly out of reach, and now they're too thick to get at with anything other than a saw.

Trees along the rear property line grow fast.  I've heard it's because there's an underground stream running there, but whatever the case, saplings left alone for even a season are already full-on trees and difficult to deal with.  Things that had been mere twigs last year now were over twenty feet tall, casting major shade. I spent a couple of hours over the last couple of weeks axing down all of the smaller trees, and they now rest in my driveway, awaiting sectioning and a trip to the landfill.

I had planned to chainsaw them up, and even reserved a rental, but thought better of it.  A chainsaw is not something you use for the first time without any instruction or supervision.  So even thought it's going to take me about ten times as long, I'm going to get rid of them the old-fashioned way: glaring at them and wishing them into the cornfield.

Nope.  Guess it's the handsaw and sore elbows.  Tomorrow.

For the record, the above took about 20 minutes.  Off to the shower, now.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The First Day of the Rest of the Week

We've reached another point where everything that had previously occupied my time has come to a close.  This is good, and bad (maybe), but mostly good.  It seems like the arc of change that began with Kiko's death back in December has drawn to a close, with all former players off the stage and a new troupe off in the wings rehearsing their lines.

I'm reflective about this.  I can't pretend to be feeling no sadness and a shade of worry, but the future looks far brighter at this point than I'd hoped and it's not the brightness of blind faith.  It's the shine of something genuinely better.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Epistolary Appendix 1995 (Repost)

Note: This was originally posted on 5/11/08, and reappears here unedited.  Not because I thought the original post was so great, but because the original post became spam central in the comments section, and a small handful of them simply couldn't be deleted.  Presumably, they were the reason why the post still receives spam comments on a weekly basis a good two years after the original posting.  Those of you who have already read this, apologies for the reposting, but it was the only thing I could think of to do, in the end.
I've also included the original comments section (minus the spam), although now as part of the post.
As part of the gradual archival of the various music projects I've been involved with over the years, I want to include memories and opinions of those who shared that particular part of the journey with me. It's even more interesting to me if these run counter to my own. And the real gold will be if people just come out and call me an idiot or an asshole - heck, a guy can dream!

As if to illustrate this, Ansley Lancourt posted responses to Friday's listening entry, which spurred a much deeper and fuller reflection from me over the weekend. A little context - Ansley and his brother Bran were (as mentioned on Friday and occasionally at other points during this past year's Ramblers) a guiding force for me in the development of both musical and songwriting ability. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that it was their influence at an impressionable age that steered me into music in the first place. I know that I'm something of a closed system, and am mostly autodidactic in my approach to learning a skill, but at the core of most of my musical knowledge is a Lancourt seed.

During the period discussed, their band (Johnny Bravo) were signed first to Madonna's Maverick records, and then switching over to Arista records with their producer/benefactor Ric Ocaseck. The record was called Then Again, Maybe I Won't, and perhaps Ansley will be so kind to write a full history of Johnny Bravo at his site so I don't have to - especially wise, since there was very little of it (the tour with Kiss and opening for Soul Asylum and the Conan appearance and radio promotion and all) that I was direct witness to.

Anyhow, here's what Ansley wrote in response to the entry, for those who don't want to wade into Friday's comments section:

"I remember the discussions about how any song that uses a major 7th chord heavily in it could never be a hit.. ha..


but, at the time it was true..

but in the end our argument proved to be extremely myopic..."

Note to other readers: since my response was originally intended as a brief post in the comments section, it's addressed to Ansley. But then it ballooned to encompass a much broader topic, so I think it's good for a general audience

I don't think your argument was myopic at all. You were focused on having a career in music here and now - or, rather, there and then, ‘then’ being the mid-90's. Not only was your argument based on cold, hard reason (even if it was usually delivered in the patented Lancourt mix of overwhelming exasperation and enthusiasm), it had a strong element of long-term strategy at its core. You weren’t intending to ‘sell-out’ – a term that many view as pejorative but is to me merely a statement of intent – on a permanent basis. You proposed that by getting your foot in the door with a successful record that the record company, media outlets and audiences would be open to a more personal (read: ‘artistic’) vision the second time around. That seemed, and seems, pretty sensible to me.

A lot of the arguments and theories that you disseminated through the ranks - not just to me, but Tammy and Erik and anyone else that you had late-night conversations with - were simply based on the premise that people who weren't at least attempting to find a way to get radio play in the music climate at the time were doing so at the peril of their own continuing poverty and obscurity.

Thing is, I agreed with both sides of the argument. I think that you were right that a music career is a career, so what was the point of making music that no audience would hear, simply because the guardians of the limited media avenues available in those days would generally only play what was safe and popular? But the counter-argument was that music that by design is meant to appeal to popular trends is generally too generic for its own good, and even a popular hit could disappear into obscurity – whereas music made according to a unique and distinct voice could (with a lot of luck, true) make itself heard above the crowd and have greater staying power.

Erik wrapped up all of his counter-arguments against the strategic pursuit of commerciality in music with the hilariously dismissive quip, “Quest! For the Single!” - intoned in the narrative voice-of-doom from many a 1950’s B-movie. Which, now that I bring it up, is a great name for a band…

Of course, Erik indulged his unconventionality to a perverse degree, often dismissing brilliant, heartfelt pop songs that he wrote in favor of meandering studio constructions with deliberately obscure lyrics that lacked any emotional jumping-on point for the listener. I could never be sure if he did this in a canny way to attract a small but loyal following, or if it was just for the sake of it.

And for me, it was easy to sit and listen, in my usual capacity as a bystander. While mostly everyone else in the circle (that I was only tangentially a part of) was determined to become a rock star – the mind-set that’s probably necessary to keep the energy up in the first stage of building a music career – I would have to admit to eternal dilettante status.

I very much like the formal play involved in music, and I like the dedication involved in developing a craft, and I enjoy brainstorming theories about what it all means and all that (as this conversation shows). But you can tell just by the language I use to discuss it that these are the equivalent of parlor room diversions for me – or, rather, basement playing, which was the 1995 equivalent of the parlor game for musicians. I never wanted to be a rock star. I could never even be sure that I wanted to leave that basement in the first place, and the succeeding years have borne that out.

Of course, history is the judge of everything. If I define ‘history’ as ‘my opinion now,’ Tammy’s work - which I’d argue hewed most closely to your music philosophy - is catchy but instantly disposable. Your own Then Again, Maybe I Won’t drummed out all of the subtleties (yes, like major seventh chords!) in your music and lyrics, which – as it turns out – was probably an underestimation of the sophistication of the listening audience. My recordings were – as shown on Friday - laughably amateurish, with me lacking the skills necessary to polish any of the few good ideas into anything anyone would want to hear, but also failing to recognize that, much like giving Hitler a shave and a Toni Wave, rectifying my lack of studio polish would do nothing to correct my core issues.* Lizard Music’sDear Champ… is so singularly a product of Erik’s internal vision that I suspect the only way to enjoy it fully is to be Erik – and I say that as both a fan of the man and a then member of his band.

What do I think has held up?

Lobster T, Lizard Music’s first EP, home recorded and engineered and showing an almost perfect balance between Erik’s pop-surrealist tendencies and chief foil Mike Jorgensen’s streamlined studio work and genetically inbred college jingle-jangle/drone… not to dismiss the presence of Chris and Craig – early Lizard Music was a fucking great band. Aggravating to me that it’s been relegated to a footnote in all of their musical careers. Lizard Music isn’t even on Mike’s Wikipedia page!

- The untold hours of recordings you did at Kevin’s immediately before and after Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, with endless great, great songs of charm and character and melody and you name it. The Lancourts that recorded something as winning as “The Christmas Monster” while balancing it with powerful emotional songs like “Don’t Say it’s not the End of the World” were the band I’ve always been the biggest fan of. It was probably the only time in your entire involvement with music that you weren’t engaged in the Quest! For the Single!, and I bet you look back at it as well as the best music you’ve ever made – and probably as the happiest you ever were during your twenty years in the game.

At the time, your focus on what would make you and your music a commercial success was exactly correct to achieve that goal. At no point should you second-guess yourself on that. You got quite far on that scale, and should be proud of what you did accomplish.

I guess what I’m saying is that pursuit of something that will supposedly make you happy is only sensible until you’ve become too unhappy in the process of pursuing it. At which point you have to separate the thing you love – making music – from the thing that made you unhappy – selling music.

Curiously, in the long-term derby between you and Erik, it ultimately was Erik who ‘sold-out’ (again, not a pejorative), by following the career path of sideman (currently with Cat Power, for those not familiar with the dramatis personae). But I have a hard time picturing you giving up the right to use whatever musical project that you’re currently involved in as a laboratory to experiment with your current theory on what will grab the attention of an audience.

You’re not cut out to be a sideman, and you should wear that with pride – because true art is following your own vision, regardless of if that vision is to find a way to make platinum-selling records.


*Not to say I have no ego regarding my music – I definitely submit my lyrics as the best among the extended circle. Let’s argue that one for a while!

bran said...
I totally don't want to take credit for anyone getting involved with music on any level!!...

Still, I always enjoyed everything you ever did - with a few exceptions.. It's funny, I was listening to Terrapin Station the other day, and ironically for someone who's always disliked the Grateful Dead, one of your songs, I think it's called 'We want too much?' sounds very similar to a section of the main Terrapin theme.. When I heard this, I thought a couple of things 

A) It could be Craig's influence as he drummed on it, and was a Dead lover and B) No matter what we liked or disliked, we still LISTENED to everything.. and WHY did we listen to everything? Because we were constantly showing eachother shit, and learning from eachother... When I thought about that, it made me realize that that was by far the best part of my whole musical life.. being able to share all those hours, and ideas, and enthusiasm, with others, and mostly with YOU and of course ans.. At this point, with the recording industry in ruins, I like to think we broke even...

bran said...
I was always a Dave fan!

Curiously, We Want Too Much came to mind pretty much unbidden the other day, as I was driving across the TZ. 

I'm not sure if it was Craig's influence, but that's a not bad theory for why and how the feel ended up as it did. The riff as written didn't exactly swing, but Craig was able to find a cool New Orleans shuffle feel that made it work. Or maybe he was just 'doing' Bonzo from Fool in the Rain.

So, yeah, the Dead feel was probably him, since I've never been a Dead fan and have only listened to Terrapin a handful of times (although it is an enjoyable listen). 

For my influence, I'd guess Genesis. In fact, even though I was more into the Gabriel era stuff, I can see a direct line from Keep it Dark to We Want Too Much - both in 3/4-6/4 and based around a repeated figure. Which makes the final recording an interesting blend of influences.

I'd have to say, of anyone over the years, you have been the most likely to specifically point out something that I did that you liked - and even more impressively, do so by name and cite a specific reason, sometimes months - or, in this case, years - after the original work had been sealed in the time capsule.

In this life, where people rarely even offer a shrug when you force stuff right in their face, it's a good feeling to know that someone actually listened! Thanks.
I meant to say '3/2-6/4 time.' That's what made it somewhat unique.


bran said...
Like I said, I was always a fan of your stuff..

Interesting side note about 'We want too much'.. It has a rare guitar solo by me on it.. Unfortunately, it probably could have been pulled off better by someone else - still it was fun to do!
Yes - that's actually the part I was specifically reflecting on the other night. I was saving that for mention when We Want Too Much is up for the Weekend Listening. Let a girl keep some of her secrets...


Ansley said...
I wouldnt argue against you being the best lyricist on the whole.. I wrote some good ones when I wasnt trying.. but after a while I just didnt have anything to say and tried to keep it simple to the nth degree.. 

You actually write lyrics about things you feel so in that sense you are probably the best of the bunch... 

Like Bran said, I've always been a Dave fan.. 

post more songs from your first two albums!

I cant add anything to your post, you pretty much said it all perfectly..

The drawback to the 'give a shit' method of writing lyrics is that it becomes incredibly difficult to write about anything when you've got nothing to cheer/complain about. An emotional no-fly zone is a hard place to write about, Watching The Wheels Go 'Round aside.

I think I've finally managed to get through that barrier on the current in-progress album (with the band with no name that goes by the provisional sobriquets "DeSk" or "P.C.M.A.") - and the 'discipline' of maintaining the Rambler has been useful in that. But even now, my best lyrics are the ones that resulted from me dredging something unpleasant up and poking at it to listen to it rhyme.


Ansley said...
Yesh, thats been exactly my problem lyric-wise for the last 11 years... and also am hypercritical of my lyrics to the point where Im frozen.. I find every word I come up with completely cliched and hackneyed.. 

" becomes incredibly difficult to write about anything when you've got nothing to cheer/complain about. An emotional no-fly zone is a hard place to write about"

Speaking of clichés, a good sign that you're on the right (write?) track is if you find yourself crying because of something you wrote. Smiling and nodding comes in a close second.


Ansley said...
I don't think I've EVER had that experience..

Oh, I'll give you something to cry about...

...well, not really...


Friday, May 14, 2010

I Know How to Pick 'em

There's yet again another sci-fi series that I've followed regularly that never found an audience, lingered around in the ratings sub-basement, and then got cancelled. Somehow, I never get on board the big, culturally defining shows - I skipped Lost, although I guess I'll catch up with it on DVD at some point.  I only started with BSG in the last season, and when I did see it, I thought it was okay, but nothing new.

I've always wondered if it's because I'm what you'd consider a science-fiction fan, and the shows that break out of the box do so by connecting with what other übergeeks derisively call 'civilians.'  I tend to get hooked on the narrower, more obscure shows - The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or Dollhouse, to name recent examples.  Neither delivered on what Fox wanted, and both got the axe after two short seasons.  To Fox's credit, they did at least allow Dollhouse to complete its storyline, albeit in somewhat rushed fashion.  And I only liked Dollhouse about a third as much as I liked Connor, which surprised me because I never much liked the Terminator films but I found the tweak on the premise that made the backbone of the story very grabbing, and the cast was hugely compelling in an oddly non-charismatic way.

I guess it all traces back to the fact that out of all of the iterations of Star Trek, my favorite is the black sheep - Deep Space Nine.  A show that couldn't even win for losing, as all of the other übereeks by that time had already decided that Trek was now passé, and hold that DS9 was just a pale shadow of Babylon 5.  I've really tried with B5, and I'll be honest - it's fucking unwatchable in the first season, and I could never get past that.

When you make a habit of getting attached to doomed shows, you should also know when to let go, but, I dunno.  I really do like FlashForward a lot - it has major lack of charisma among some of its leads (particularly the unbelievably wooden Sonya Walger, who seems to be unable to invest emotion in anything), and it's got a serious problem with its reliance on expository dialogue, but it was good most of the time and occasionally great, and I'm sorry to see it go.  Good thing they're bringing back V and Fringe, though, because Lord knows, there can never be enough serial sci-fi on television that I don't like.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Glazing, Part II

Can I just say, in advance, that I think the last week has proven to be one of the most momentous of my life?  I suspect that's not going to stop, just yet, but I thought I'd pause from the pile of pre-press work I'm on for a brain break and update on the painting.

Chronologically: finished up painting around 3 AM Monday night (Tuesday morning?), and actually managed to get in bed for a four hour sleep/nap.  The last bits to paint ranged from easy (nailed a teeny tiny sliver of wood to the bottom to correct a bad angle, blend with the rest of the painting as well as possible) to difficult (try to make the nose happen), to the complete unknown (insert mathematical symbols on the wall as a pattern, find somewhere to put a dog in the painting).

Rose around 8 AM to sort out attaching the painting to the frame - another unknown to be solved.  I figured the best bet was to wood glue it in and then very carefully drill through the left and right side of the frame into the side of the panel, and insert a nail just for support.  There was a slight hiccup with that, as the first nail only went in about halfway and then jammed, bent very slightly and refused to come out.  Have I mentioned that the frame was oak?  Because the frame was oak, and anyone who has ever worked with oak is nodding right now and saying, 'of course it got stuck.'

Drove out to get better nails while dad came over.  From there it was just a matter of a quick shot of the final in the frame under the best conditions I could muster:

and then a quick trip to show my mother, as promised, then off to work while Dad overnighted to Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The painting got there in time, and (although I haven't heard), I imagine it was included in the memorial service.  I plan to drive down to varnish it sometime in the Fall.

Artistic: I emailed a JPEG to Kate, who commented:

"I think the most impressive thing is that there is a lot of life and character to the piece as a whole. I really sense her personality coming through. Did you photographic it with a flash? It looks like there is a lot of reflection in the photo (I assume there weren't white dots on the painting..) I see a lot going on with the skin tone, especially with warm and cool. It looks like you could push light and dark as well as warm and cool on your next attempt that would create even better results..."

My reply/apologia to her ballooned to the point that I realized that I was writing this final blog entry by proxy, so I present it to you unedited:

"Actually took it outside as soon as it was framed (on its way to being overnighted to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for a memorial service) and propped it up against my car in the sun. Which makes for an interesting image in itself  - 'this painting sponsored by Subaru.'

I did want to bring out lights and darks more on the face, but the earlier drafts looked too heavy, and I decided that having her too much in shadow would be kind of morbid. Unlike the watercolor portrait, this one had the extra added challenge on capturing her likeness. No single photograph sent felt right, so the final ended up being a composite - tracing or gridding wasn't an option. I spent more time moving the nose around - it's amazing how much difference just a tiny amount of paint can make. Particularly dispiriting was the neanderthal phase, where her brow ridge became lumpy and highly prominent.

I was kind of gun-shy with this one, given both the context and thinking about issues with my previous oil painting, the portrait of Yesenia from 2007 - that one just looks much too cartoony for me, and I recognize that the noir chiaroscuro effects that I've developed over the years in pen and ink don't translate at all to paint.

Really, it's all about trying to sublimate my style as much as possible.

I've wanted to work in a naturalistic mode for some time. I can do do somewhat easily in watercolors, which (despite their unforgiving nature) are made for achieving subtle effects through layering. I'm still fighting that in oils, erring on the side of too 'illustratory' or, conversely, far too minimal. But if I haven't said it enough, glazes on panel seems to be a way through.

There are still a whole host of technical issues to work out with the process - it becomes gummy and thick and impossible to work with sudden quickness; blue pigments don't cover well and instead bead up in the medium; it collects dust like a goddamn air purifier; and it remains viscous for days on end, meaning that an early underpainting melted grotesquely for days. I eventually took to leaning the desktop easel back to about 30º and putting a barbel weight at the base to prevent it from tipping while working, and then lying it flat on the floor between sessions. Where it, of course, attracted even more dust.

I'm probably going to try a little en plein air with this during the summer - a good exercise to focus on color and temperature without having to worry about whether or not I've done honor to the spirit of a dead woman in a portrait made for her husband."


I'd rate the painting an 85% success.  It looks much better in person, as the photographs lose the really beautiful, subtle effects of the glazing.  I don't think it's quite as successful as the original sketch:

but I was up against a lifetime of difficulty in oils, and, even though I didn't quite break through the wall with the medium, I think I was able to push it back a bit.

I realize that the entries on this have probably read as terribly dry and wonky - there can't possibly be anyone who wants to read about this to the extent that I've felt the need to write about it - so thanks for reading, if you have, and I promise the next few Ramblers will be light and airy.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Forcing It (Glazing Pt. Ib)

Tonight's the big night - finishing up the big portrait. It's been nearly there for some time, now, but the Devil, the Angels and any other number of morally charged metaphysical concepts is in the details.  The subject keeps coming in and out of focus - a little bit of pigment there and the cheekbone sinks, the smile goes from beatific to snarky, the soul in the eyes starts to haze.  I knew this would be the case, as it's always the case, but I needed to go back in there and fix the nose, and I kept doing everything in my power to avoid it, but tonight, as noted... the night.

At any rate, it's going about as well as I could hope, so I'll be able to move off the face in a couple of hours and get onto the final touch, being a wallpaper pattern made up of mathematical symbols chosen for their thematic weight and graphic interest.  That may be a little tricky, since I left the perspective somewhat vague, and the wallpaper patter will have to lock it down.

The other side, a traditional view out the window, had the benefit of basically falling onto a single receding plane without a really strict grid.  It fell together nice and quick, and it's the first part of the painting where I started carving in the detail.  Of course, the building that focuses the windowscape is far enough away that it should begin to get less distinct through atmospheric perspective, but one benefit of having chosen the Northern Renaissance as a style guide for this is that atmospheric perspective was a Southern invention, so leaving it out gives the work more of the feel I'm going for.

Although a final shot of the work will likely have to wait until the Fall - when I take a trip down to Kentucky to apply the varnish - here's a detail from the landscape, courtesy Karl, who was kind enough to shoot the piece at the 85% point.  The Schloss Marienberg, Wurzberg:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Gold Medalist in the Waiting Game(s)

Writing this one from a darkened alcove on the eighth floor of Englewood Hospital - on a sad little Dell on a beaten up desk next to a matching bookcase that's only about 30% full. 

The bulk of the day was spent down in the surgical waiting area on the second floor, next to an Hispanic businessman with two cell phones, both with loud ringers, neither of which he would answer, nor would he look to see who was calling, nor would he turn off the ringers (one sounded like the theme from a 1980's racing game), nor would he look away from the loud program he was watching on his laptop.  Really, the guy was made of sounds, all of them loud and in competition.  Strange behavior, which I'll guess is the norm in a waiting room.

I cut loose from the waiting area when my mother got out of surgery, but since they wouldn't let me in to Recovery, I went downstairs and had a business meeting in the cafeteria, easily the oddest place I've ever had a business meeting in my life.

Meeting over, and still unable to get into Recovery - this hospital plays a bit like an Infocom game written by Douglas Adams - I headed upstairs to her assigned room.  The room has another occupant, however, who looked like she'd be a little discomfited by a strange man sitting in the corner, so I'm here, blogging to you instead, while I wait.  Full circle.

The news seems to be good - my mother had two surgeries, and both surgeons came out after their 'turns' (what else would you call it?) and made very positive-sounding noises.

Looking down the hall, now, it seems like a nurse is doing clean-up in the half of 8440 that will belong to my mother for at least the next 24 hours, so I'll shortly be moving on to a new event in the waiting game - trying to keep myself occupied while my mother drifts in and out of the type of pixelated consciousness that four solid hours under anaesthesia produces.