Art: the art of backdating

So yesterday…wait. I MEAN TODAY OF COURSE. Today is September 30th. Yes.

So my domain name expired. Again. It seems to do that every year. Very annoying. So yeah, yesterday (TODAY) I didn’t have the $20 to renew it (I pay extra to keep my whois data private) but today (I MEAN TOMORROW) like three checks arrived and it’s like I’m rich.

I mean it will be.

ANYWAY. September is over, long live September. I am never blogging on a theme again.

Art: failure to create

I was supposed to make art today. I had a photo shoot scheduled for a pattern I’m hoping to sell. The deadline is Friday and something I needed arrived yesterday. Tomorrow we planned to go to the county fair. It was today or nothing. Talk about waiting until the last minute!

SPOILER: the shoot did not happen.

The kids and I made it three blocks before I pulled into a gas station because something was wrong with the car. I thought the tire was low on air AGAIN, and it was. In fact, it was flat. Not fill it up with air flat, but D.E.A.D. flat. Oh fucking hell. So I got out the jack and the lug wrench. In college I taught a few other girls how to change their own tires, as part of some feminism 101 thingy. So even though it’s been like 12 years since I’ve changed one, I felt pretty certain I could manage it.

I could not even figure out how the fucking wrench worked, let alone get the lug nuts to budge. So I had to pull around into the service station next door and pay them $10 I did not have to put on the spare for me. Even though I know logically that it’s the fault of those fucking pneumatic wrenches (or whatever they use), it was embarrassing!

That got me home, where I called Will and we had a quick consultation about money, the end result of which was that I researched where to get tires and called them. I was told to drive over so we did. Thankfully it was only $100 to replace both front tires. Sam had a ball watching the guys work, and Grace charmed everyone.

Then we drove to the store and bought a tremendous amount of beer.

And tomorrow I will do the photo shoot, and we will go to the fair this weekend instead.

Art: Harlan Ellison

An author I greatly admire has announced that he is dying. (Give that a click, it’s a terrific read.)

Another writer has written a beautiful and personal tribute to Ellison (give that one a click, too), and is asking his fellow fans to consider donating to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in honor of his life.

If you have to wonder whether Ellison is an artist, you have not read Strange Wine.

Art: Serials

Before I get to today’s topic, won’t you take a moment to read my most recent Prudent Pantry columns? Last week I gave out the recipe for the Best Cookies Everâ„¢ and this week I have 8 Ways To Eat Your Veggies, a response to a New York Times article on Americans’ relationship with vegetables (in short: we don’t eat them). Please read both! I really love writing them.


On Saturday at the Republic Pictures Anniversary Event, we saw two episodes of the Zorro serial. It was tremendous fun and also really terrible. It was unquestionably art (remember, art can be bad) while at the same time not art at all.

As far as I can tell, having seen and listened to a variety of serials from Commando Cody (watch the series here) to The Adventures of Sam Spade (listen to the radio show here*) to Flash Gordon (listen here), the idea was to crank the episodes out quickly and cheaply, with very little regard to pesky things like story. In that way, they are most assuredly not art.

*Will and I borrowed the Sam Spade series on cassette from the library eleven years ago. He used to call me Effie. I think he stopped after we rented The Thin Man and he started calling me Nora.

But I think you can make art by mistake. (And really, it may be that the intention was art, but the execution says otherwise.) There is something in the ridiculous formula–hero and girl in peril, huge climax they can’t possibly escape from, next episode starts with them far away from the peril and no explanation of their escape, rinse and repeat–and the silly special effects that makes the adventure serials of the past rather darling today. They would certainly be almost impossible to recreate.

George Lucas has tried twice, with Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and I think he came pretty close to succeeding with Indiana Jones. Of course the movies are not serialized, but the atmosphere is similar, especially in Temple of Doom. The over-the-top villains, pretty girls, high stakes, and fantastical McGuffins certainly fit the formula.

With the vast array of web series right now, I’m hopeful that someone is making an adventure series in the style of the old serials right now and I just haven’t found it yet.

Art: destruction

Here’s a secret. The art of causing absolute destruction is to follow on the heels of someone who is creating, and undo their work as it happens. For instance, if you are nine months old and like taking things apart, you might enjoy following Mama around while she picks up toys and throwing them far and wide as she does so.

Art: Republic Pictures

Today we went to the Republic Pictures 75th Anniversary Event, which was pretty cool.

Well, actually. It was not cool at all. It was about 100 degrees. We lasted just two hours, and that’s with about 45 minutes in the air conditioned screening room (watching Zorro serials).

I think the event would have been a gazillion times more enjoyable for Sam if the trick horses hadn’t been too overheated to perform. Between the heat and a touch of boredom, he was ready to go pretty quickly. If only there had been more set up indoors instead of in the direct sun! But they couldn’t have known it would be this hot when they were planning.

Anyway. The event made me think about the studio it honored, which made a lot of westerns.

The oaters are (in my humble opinion) a large part of the reason people think they hate westerns. They were formulaic and compared to modern (like, 1960s forward) movies they look pretty bad. But I do love them! They were art not only in and of themselves (which I understand is arguable) but most of all because of what came after. Westerns were the template for movies in general! Three cheers for the western!

I will probably write a bit more about this for 200 Westerns. (That poor website is so neglected. I wish we knew just what to do with it. I love the concept so much! But a girl can only focus on so many projects at one time.)

I also have some things to say about serials. Tomorrow, perhaps!

Art: perfection

You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes.

You aren’t the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today.

You aren’t the only one who isn’t making enough money to support your lifestyle.

You aren’t the only one who has questions and doubts about your religion.

You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.

Go read. It’s, well, perfect.

Art: artistic dreams

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do. Not a big picture, what I want to do with my life kind of thing–more a mental listing of projects I’d like to work on. A creative Life List.

I keep coming back to one particular idea that is whispering to me, telling me to work on it. It’s a big one. Huge, maybe. It will require collaborators. Proposals. A publisher. So much work.

Is it time to try? How do you (yes, you) know which dreams to pursue, and when?

Art: the art of the novel

I’ve just finished reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a lovely novel set at the turn of the last century that feels as though it might have been written at that time. The style reminded me of the Anne books. The story is slow and meandering and while there is most assuredly a plot it doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get through it. Also it is told in past tense, which feels very old-fashioned to me. Maybe because it is the PAST tense. Har.

I picked up the novel in the first place (at the library) because I’d seen its cover online (mentioned, I think, by Victoria Schwab) and fell in love with its beautiful paper-cut silhouette. I had no idea what it was about, but the story of a young girl, the only girl of seven children, destined to a life as a housewife, who discovers science and yearns for another life–that story, that girl caught my attention and held it.

Jacqueline Kelly doesn’t appear to have any other published work, but I’ll be keeping an eye out. (On Googling her I discovered that she has an event in Los Angeles this Saturday. I will be at the Republic Pictures 75th Anniversary all day and will miss it. What bad luck!)