I saw the call for submissions by the 1313 Gallery here in Toronto and knew that if I wanted to submit something, I’d have to challenge myself. There are few subjects that carry as much baggage as Sex. Obviously, that was point of the call, to gather from many different artists their views on all things related to the S word.
So, what did I have to say?
What could I say?
What hasn’t been said already, or what approach to the familiar ideas could I take?
Well, I had no shortage of thoughts and that was the problem. I mulled the call over for a few weeks as I dealt with more immediate deadlines for other projects. I’d let the thoughts and feelings float around, knowing some would fall away and some would remain. That’s what I expected to happen, anyway. It didn’t quite work that way. I’d come back and, rather appropriately given the topic, the ideas had multiplied. One set of thoughts led to others, just as strong. Imagery and attitudes and historical contexts were all making themselves heard. I started to apply my own specific thoughts and feelings, hoping to push through this crowd and organize it a bit.
I needed a few boundaries, so the best way to start was deciding what I didn’t want to say.
To start with, I didn’t want to be literal, since we all know what sex is. It’s easy to just create an image of something beautiful and/or explicit and say, “Yeah, here, this is sex. This is erotic.”
I also didn’t want this to be autobiographical. I’m not shy, but we’re all different. I wanted to say something, but it didn’t have to be about me. That would be too narrow and too predictable.
Okay, that narrowed the field a bit, but I was still looking at pages of sketches with no cohesive idea or set of ideas. What did I want to say?
Christmas came and went, New Year’s was approaching and I was actually starting to get a pissed off at myself over this. I joked with myself that it was performance anxiety. I sat on the bed, perhaps hoping to trigger some subconscious inspiration, and sketched some more, determined to solve this puzzle. I had images I wanted to use and a few clever ideas I thought might be handy from earlier sketches, but I couldn’t find the through-line, the “theme,” something to hold it all together. I discarded pages and moved onto the next. After a while, around 2 AM, I was reduced to just moving the pencil around, creating non-specific shapes and line. I’d thought about layers earlier, like posters on a wall, some torn, covering up what was underneath, the brick and mortar of the wall. I thought about walls, barriers we put up and knock down. I was getting away from the central theme of the call: Sex. I looked up the gallery website and re-read the description. What were they asking for? Definitions. Individual. Cultural. That sort of thing.
I was back to square one. There are too many such definitions. Maybe I should forget it, stick with creating works less loaded with with seemed like the sum total of human history?
Posters on the wall seemed too bleak, too defensive. Sex is fun! Yeah, there’s mental and emotional baggage, but the act itself is thoroughly enjoyable. Still, I liked the idea of layering images. Maybe they told a story? I did not want it to be my story, though obviously I’d have to draw from my own impressions and ideas. I scribbled and sketched and doodled of scattered pages and pictures. Still, not enough cohesion. It was lazy, too simple.
What if the images were collected, like a scrapbook?
I started thinking about how we collect memories, like in photo albums. I thought about my sketchbooks, filled with artistic ideas and experiments, some realized, some not. Some drawings were just practice.
Amidst these thoughts, an obscure memory floated to the surface, of the Dean of my old faculty at university talking about a theatre director he once knew. This director would apparently draw out his ideas all through his scripts. The Dean said the scripts themselves became miniature works of art.
I thought about scripts. I was sitting in bed, thinking about what people do in bed. No, actually, that’s not right. I was thinking about how, not in the mechanical sense, but about what goes through your mind. We all have reservations, hang-ups, expectations, all those things I was that were overwhelming my creative process before.
Did I just I call what do a “creative process”?
I did. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound pretentious.
So, now I’m thinking about how we bring all this stuff with us to bed. There’s what we want, what we’ve done before, the good, the bad, everything. We’re following that script, because what else is there? Instinct, maybe, but that tends to only get you as far as fumbling around in the dark. What we see movies, what we’re told, what we remember from Sex Ed., all of that we draw on in the moment.
We follow a script we make into miniature works of art. Sometimes we write new scenes. Sometimes we tear out old ones that no longer work onstage, taking the best bits and tossing the rest.
At 3 AM I had a coherent idea. The rest was refining, picking and choosing what worked and what didn’t. I’m not going to explain every image. I will say, this not my script you see. It’s not autobiographical. There are reasons for everything in the piece, however.
Now that it’s done and I stuff the loose papers of sketches into my sketchbook, it’s not lost on my the passing resemblance between the overflowing script I painted and the real-life sketchbook itself.
You’d think I’d planned it that way.
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I saw the call for submissions by the 1313 Gallery here in Toronto and knew that if I wanted to submit something, I’d have to challenge myself. There are few subjects that carry as much baggage as Sex. Obviously, that was point of the call, to gather from many different artists their views on all things related to the S word.
STAR WARS CHRONOLOGY (9th EDITION)
Star Wars: Episode I “The Phantom Menace”
Star Wars: Episode II “Attack Of The Clones”
Clone Wars Volume 1: Episodes 1 to 20
Clone Wars Volume 2: Episode 21
*** ROOKIES TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 1 “Clone Cadets”
WCS1#5 “Mouse Hunt”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 5 “Rookies”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 2 “ARC Troopers”
*** ZILLO BEAST TWO-PARTER
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 18 “The Zillo Beast”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 19 “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back”
*** CHRISTOPHSIS + MOVIE
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 16 “Cat And Mouse”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 16 “The Hidden Enemy”
Star Wars: The Clones Wars
***THE FALL OF RYLOTH TETRALOGY
WCS1#6 “The Fall Of Falleen”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 6 “Downfall Of A Droid”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 3 “Supply Lines”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 1 “Ambush”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 7 “Duel Of The Droids”
*** MALEVOLENCE TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 2 “Rising Malevolence”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 3 “Shadow Of Malevolence”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 4 “Destroy Malevolence”
*** NUTE GUNRAY TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 8 “Bombad Jedi”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 9 “Cloak Of Darkness”
WCS1#10 “The Dreams Of General Grevious”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 10 “The Liar Of Grevious
*** HONDO TWO-PARTER
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 11 “Dooku Captured”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 12 “The Gungan General”
*** AALYA SECURA TWO-PARTER
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 13 “Jedi Crash”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 14 “Defenders Of The Peace”
WCS1#15 “Cold Snap”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 15 “Trespass”
*** VIRUS TWO-PARTER
WCS1#17 “The Valley”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 17 “Blue Shadow Virus”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 18 “Mystery Of A Thousand Moons”
***THE BATTLE OF RYLOTH
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 19 “Storm Over Ryloth”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 20 “Innocents Of Ryloth”
WCS1#20 “The Ballad Of Cham Syndulla”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 21 “Liberty Of Ryloth”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 17 “Bounty Hunters”
*** CAD BANE TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 1 “The Holocron Heist”
WC “Act On Instinct” Parts 1 to 3
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 2 “Cargo Of Doom”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 3 “Children Of The Force”
WC “Act On Instinct” Part 4
*** GEONOSIS TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 4 “Senate Spy”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 5 “Landing At Point Rain”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 6 “Weapons Factory”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 7 “Legacy Of Terror”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 8 “Brian Invaders”
*** GRIEVOUS ARC
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 9 “Grievous Intrigue”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 10 “The Deserter”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 11 “Lightsaber Lost”
WC “Act On Instinct” Parts 5 to 15
WC “The Valsedian Operation” Parts 1 to 15
*** DUCHESS SATINE TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 12 “The Mandalore Plot”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 13 “Voyage Of Temptation”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 14 “Duchess Of Mandalore”
*** BOBA FETT TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 20 “Death Trap”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 21 “R2 Come Home”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 22 “Lethal Trackdown”
*** AHSOKA TANO ARC
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 4 “Sphere Of Influence”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 5 “Corruption”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 6 “The Academy”
***ZIRO THE HUTT TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 7 “Assassin”
WCS1#21 “Invitation Only”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 8 “Evil Plans”
The Clone Wars Season 1: Episode 22 “Hostage Crisis”
WC “Hunting The Hunters I”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 9 “The Hunt For Ziro”
WC “Hunting The Hunters III”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 10 “Heroes On Both Sides”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 11 “Pursuit Of Peace”
WC “Hunting The Hunters II”
The Clone Wars Season 2: Episode 15 “Senate Murders”
***THE NIGHTSISTERS TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 12 “Nightsisters”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 13 “Monster”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 14 “Witches Of The Mist”
*** MORTIS TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 15 “Overlords”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 16 “Altar Of Mortis”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 17 “Ghosts Of Mortis”
*** CITADEL TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 18 “Citadel”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 19 “Counter Attack”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 20 “Citadel Rescue”
*** AHSOKA KIDNAPPED TWO-PARTER
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 21 “Padawan Lost”
The Clone Wars Season 3: Episode 22 “Wookiee Hunt”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 4 “Shadow Warrior”
***MON CALA TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 1 “Water War”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 2 “Gungan Attack”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 3 “Prisoners”
*** DROIDS TWO-PARTER
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 5 “Mercy Mission”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 6 “Nomad Droids”
*** UMBARA TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 7 “Darkness On Umbara”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 8 “The General”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 9 “Plan Of Dissent”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 10 “Carnage Of Krell”
*** SLAVES OF THE REPUBLIC TRILOGY
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 11 “Kidnapped”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 12 “Slaves Of The Republic”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 13 “Escape From Kadavo”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 14 “A Friend In Need”
*** PRISON BREAK TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 15 “Deception”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 16 “Friends And Enemies”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 17 “The Box”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 18 “Crisis On Naboo”
*** ASAJJ VENTRESS TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 19 “Massacre”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 20 “Bounty”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 21 “Brothers”
The Clone Wars Season 4: Episode 22 “Revenge”
*** ONDERON TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 2 “A War On Two Fronts”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 3 “Front Runners”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 4 “The Soft War”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 5 “Tipping Points”
*** YOUNG JEDI TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 6 “The Gathering”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 7 “A Test Of Strength”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 8 “Bound For Rescue”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 9 “A Necessary Bond”
*** DROID MISSION TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 10 “Secret Weapon”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 11 “A Sunny Day In The Void”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 12 “Missing In Action”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 13 “Point Of No Return”
*** THE CRIME LORDS TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 01 “Revival”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 14 “Eminence”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 15 “Shades Of Reason”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 16 “The Lawless”
*** THE FUGITIVE TETRALOGY
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 17 “Sabotage”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 18 “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 19 “To Catch A Jedi”
The Clone Wars Season 5: Episode 20 “The Wrong Jedi”
*** UNKNOWN EPISODES
The Clone Wars Season 6: “Plo Koon’s Discovery (Scene)”
The Clone Wars Season 6: “A Moment Of Confusion (Scene)”
*** RUSH CLOVIS TRILOGY (Unreleased)
The Clone Wars Season 6: “An Old Friend”
The Clone Wars Season 6: “Crisis Of The Heart”
The Clone Wars Season 6: “The Rise Of Clovis”
Clone Wars Volume 2: Episodes 22 to 25
Star Wars: Episode III “Revenge Of The Sith”
*** The Trigon Tetralogy
Droids: Episode 1“The White Witch”
Droids: Episode 2 “Escape Into Terror”
Droids: Episode 3 “The Trigon Unleashed”
Droids: Episode 4 “A Race To The Finish”
*** The Mon Julpa Pentalogy
Droids: Episode 5 “The Lost Prince”
Droids: Episode 6 “The New King”
Droids: Episode 7 “The Pirates Of Tarnoonga”
Droids: Episode 8 “The Revenge Of Kybo Ren”
Droids: Episode 9 “Coby And The Starhunters”
*** The Mungo Beobab Pentalogy
Droids: “The Great Heep”
Droids: Episode 10 “Tail Of The Roon Comets”
Droids: Episode 11 “The Roon Games”
Droids: Episode 12 “Across The Roon”
Droids: Episode 13 “The Frozen Citedal”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 1 “The Cries Of The Trees”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 2 “The Haunted Village”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 3 “Rampage Of The Phlogs”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 4 “To Save Deej”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 5 “The Travelling Jinda”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 6 “The Tree Of Light”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 7 “The Curse Of The Jindas”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 8 “The Land Of The Gupins”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 9 “Sunstar vs Shadowstone”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 10 “Wicket’s Wagon”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 11 “The Three Lesson:
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 12 “Blue Harvest”
Ewoks Season 1: Episode 13 “Asha”
Star Wars: The Ewok Adventure (AKA Caravan Of Courage)
Star Wars: The Battle For Endor
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 1 “The Crystal Cloak”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 2 “The Wish Plant”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 3 “Home Is Where The Shrieks Are”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 4 “Princess Latara”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 5 “The Raich”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 6 “The Totem Master”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 7 “A Gift For Shodu”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 8 “Night Of The Stranger”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 9 “Gone With The Mimphs”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 10 “The First Apprentice”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 11 “Hard Sell”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 12 “A Warrior And A Lurdo”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 13 “The Season Scepter”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 14 “Prow Beaten”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 15 “Baga’s Rival”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 16 “Horville’s Hut Of Horrors”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 17 “The Tragic Flute”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 18 “Just My Luck”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 19 “Bringing Up Norky”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 20 “Battle For The Sunstar”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 21 “Party Ewok”
Ewoks Season 2: Episode 22 “Malani The Warrior”
Star Wars: Episode IV “A New Hope”
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Star Wars: Episode V “The Empire Strikes Back”
Star Wars: Episode VI “Return Of The Jedi”
Movies & TV Shows = Series Name: Episode # “Episode Title” (as applicable)
Web Comics = WC + Season # + Issue # + “Issue Title” (as applicable)
My new ebook, The Dark Witch Of Oz, is now available at Amazon’s Kindle Store worldwide.
See below for the links to the different Amazon territories.
It is a screenplay without a film (yet) and I’d like to tell you why…
I wrote this script a few years ago after reading the original book by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Most people have seen the 1939 MGM movie with Judy Garland. It’s a masterpiece and if you haven’t seen it or shown your children, here’s me telling you to do so.
So spectacular is the movie that more than 70 years later it has become entrenched in popular culture. It’s a timeless story and has hardly aged. An Andrew Lloyd Webber stage production based on the movie was launched in Toronto recently and the casting process for that live show was itself made into a TV series, titled Over The Rainbow. The novel Wicked, by Gregory Maquire, was a huge success and spawned a popular stage musical of its own. in 2013, Disney released a prequel to the 1939 film, Oz The Great And Powerful.
The affect of that film enormous and far reaching, there is no doubt about it. It deserves the accolades and attention.
For many readers, though, there is one weakness (if that’s the right word) in all of the attention the 1939 film gets: It’s so very different from the original book!
The basic story is the same. A twister carries Dorothy and Toto to Oz, her house crushes the Witch of the East, she meets a good witch and travels to Emerald City to meet the Wizard, she makes friends with the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and the Lion and they defeat the Witch of the West, and the story ends with Dorothy and Toto returning home. However, the differences in how these events play out, the addition of other characters and perils make the differences between the 1900 book and the 1939 film rather enormous. A big difference is that the film version plays the entire story off as a dream. Baum’s book has the events actually happen. The entire series of Oz books Baum wrote is based on the premise that Oz is an actual magical place on earth. Getting there is difficult, of course, but the subsequent adventures of Dorothy and other visitors do have them finding ways of getting back.
When I read the original novel, I was surprised by just how different it was from the movie. Those differences made me think, “I want to see this movie!” At the same time, a colleague had suggested a site called InkTip, where he’d sold a script of his to a major studio. So with those two thoughts in mind, I decided to see where my re-imagining of the original tale would take me. It was a challenge, in some ways, because there are a lot things the 1939 film introduced into Oz pop culture mythos that MGM actually owns. The Baum books are public domain, but the film is not. The film introduced the ruby slippers, for example, which are simply silver shoes in the books. The reason was to show off the rich Technicolor process. Obviously, I had to avoid elements exclusive to the films, but I was free to introduce my own elements and spins on familiar things in the book, in the same tradition as other writers of new and different Oz stories have done.
After Baum died, stories from Oz did not. Ruth Plumly Thompson continued the series and her book are recognized as canon by the International Wizard Of Oz Club, along with various other writers. And, of course, there are the many re-imaginings and non-canon works (like Wicked) that tell different tales of Oz in their own, separate realities. So, my venture into a different Land of Oz was far from unprecedented. As I wrote the screenplay, it became it’s own story, loosely following the structure of the novel, but taking on a life of its own. When it was finished, I listed it on InkTip and hoped it would be picked up by a major studio who would pay me millions for the rights.
That didn’t happen. I wasn’t too disappointed, though, because I knew it was a long shot, but I had nothing really to lose in the attempt. After a time, I became aware of the Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing feature and used it to publish a non-fiction reference book call The Queen Chronology (which you can learn more about here and here) and as I was preparing that book’s launch, I was thinking about what to do with the Oz script. Could I publish it as a script ebook? The screenplay format is rather dry, even with what I feel is a good amount of description throughout my piece, so I started thinking of how I could add some flavour and colour it. I’d just completed a wonderful collaborative effort between my alma mater, Ryerson, and my artwork before turning my attention to the Chronology and getting it published, so illustrating the screenplay began to fascinate me as a way to go. Certainly, existing movies are known to release illustrated versions of their screenplays, complete with concept art, storyboards and production photos. Could it work to create these elements as if the screenplay was a film? I had no production photos, but the artwork was well within my means. I’d written and drawn a comic book series years ago and had done storyboards as part of a script for my thesis in university, so narrative artwork was something I was quite familiar with!
It was settled then, I’d illustrate the screenplay and try to bring the story to life, and in doing so, present the entire work as both a piece of art in itself and an exhibit or art collection based on the screenplay. Because there is no film (yet), it is a story told in a different, uncommon way, but equally legitimate way.
So, if your dare, return to an Oz that is familiar, yet very different.
You can find the book here:
Here’s a link to a story that’s making the rounds online, that of filmmaker Greg Karber taking issue with Abercrombie & Fitch’s branding of their clothes. Give it a look:
Okay, I can hear a lot of you cheering out there along the lines of “Way to go, Karber! Way to show this jerkass company what’s what by taking matters into your own hands and helping the homeless at the same time! You’re a hero!” I know similar things are being said because I read a lot of such sentiments on my Facebook news feed.
And here’s where I step up and say “I disagree. A lot.”
This whole “rebranding” thing bothers me.
First, let me say that I think Abercrombie & Fitch are being douchebags in how they market their clothes and what they do with their overstock. Here’s the thing, though…It’s their choice. I don’t agree with the choice they made, but I respect that it was their choice to make. It’s free country and they are a business. If you don’t like their brand or marketing, the solution is to not buy their product. That’s your choice and it needs to be respected just as much as the A&F’s right to make their choice.
What Greg Karber has done has taken it solely upon himself to try to make A&F’s choice for them. And that is wrong. It is fundamentally arrogant.
“But he’s doing it for a good cause,” I hear you say, “He’s helping the homeless and trying to make the world a better place, which A&F should be doing.”
On that last part, I’ll say, “What gives him the right to tell anyone else, individual or large company, what to do and how to do it? His moral superiority?” If you agree that he’s in the right by acting as he does, I’m guessing it’s because you agree with his position. The problem is: what happens when he or someone just as motivated starts applying their moral barometer to your life in a way you don’t share ideologically? We’re back to choice and each person’s right to make their choice as they see fit. No one should take that away from you or anyone else.
As for the “doing it for a good cause” motive…? No, that’s not why he’s doing it. He’s doing it out of spite, or as the article above puts it, he’s doing it for revenge. Does it matter why, so long as he’s helping people? His cause is to re-brand A&F to align with his own sensibilities and to say A&F are jerks for how they behave. The “help” the homeless get with receiving free clothes is incidental to his cause. And what happens after he feels he’s made his point? Will his “help” continue?
Now, to address an even deeper problem I have with this re-branding notion. Karber is a filmmaker, so to partially answer my own earlier question of “”What gives him the right to tell anyone else, individual or large company, what to do and how to do it?”, he is an artist. As an artist myself, I respect using one’s medium to convey messages and ideas, to try to bring about change (hopefully positive) in our world. What I don’t respect in Karber’s case is, in addition to the aforementioned issues I take with this campaign, is his exploitation of the homeless to make his point. He points the camera at the homeless and hands them free clothes. Again, his motive is to show up A&F, so he needs the less-fortunate in order to make to his point. The people he gives clothes to aren’t in a position to turn it down and say, “No, we will not be exploited!” Of course they’re going to take what’s given and be thankful. That doesn’t make them any less taken advantage of, put in a position of gain solely because an artist needs to use them to make his point.
So, yeah, this whole thing bothers me. A lot.
Because neither side deserves any more free advertising, I’m not putting an image up that relates to either A&F or Karber. Instead, here’s a picture of a puppy. You’re welcome!
I hope you’ll forgive this bit of self-indulgent, shameless promotion, but the book I co-authored launches today on Amazon!
If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to this last little while, this was a big part of it, getting this book done and ready to be loosed on the world!
Here is the official press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Across The Board Books™ proudly announces the release of the NEW ebook…
THE QUEEN CHRONOLOGY:
THE RECORDING & RELEASE HISTORY OF THE BAND
Available now on Amazon worldwide:
Toronto, Canada – April 30th, 2013 – The Queen Chronology is a comprehensive account of the studio recording and release history of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor, who joined forces in 1971 as the classic line-up of the rock band Queen.
For nearly 40 years, Queen has both topped the charts and embedded itself in the musical landscape worldwide, with such hits as “We Will Rock You,” We Are The Champions,” “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Their rock musical, We Will Rock You, and their Queen Extravaganza official tribute production both continue to carry on the band’s legacy to audiences long after the tragic passing of singer Freddie Mercury.
Years of extensive research have gone into the creation of the Chronology, which covers the very beginnings of band members’ careers, their earliest songwriting efforts and recording sessions, through the recording and releasing of Queen’s 15 original studio albums with their classic line-up, to the present-day solo careers of Brian May and Roger Taylor. All of this information is presented date by date in chronological order, with detailed descriptions of each song version, including those both released and known to be unreleased. Every Queen and solo album, single, non-album track, edit, remix and extended version is examined, as are known demos or outtakes, pre-Queen recordings and guest appearances. It’s all here in one place: The Queen Chronology!
The first edition of The Queen Chronology is exclusively digital, available on Amazon for the Kindle e-book reader. Check the Amazon site in your territory!
Patrick Lemieux is a Canadian artist and writer. His articles for Queen’s Official Website (www.queenonline.com) include The Lost History Of A Queen Track, A Chronicle Of Magic, The Journey Back To The Light, A Mystery In The Wreckage and co-authored with Adam Unger The Elektra Edits. He also painted the cover art for The Queen Chronology.
Adam Unger is the owner and webmaster of QueenVault.com and has contributed articles to Queen’s Official Website, including B-Sides and The Elektra Edits (co-authored with Patrick Lemieux).
I sent that out to various outlets.
As noted, I painted the cover. I wanted to create an image that was both expressive and somewhat expressionistic, rather than be literal portraits. There was a lot I wanted to convey in the painting, like the energy and excitement of the band, their stage presence and also the dream-like quality of of the past. It’s been nearly 22 years since Freddie Mercury died and though the legacy lives on, their past becomes somewhat how fans feel about it, the nostalgia and longing for “the good old days.” It was that vivid, slightly unfocused imagery I have when I listen to a Queen song. A mixture of my own emotions and what I know of the band.
Here’s the print version of the piece, presented for your consideration:
“I cannot begin to describe how much this loss will affect the not only the film business, but critical thinking of and in our world.
It’s not about whether you agreed with him, but that he could entertain you by arguing his point so well.
I wish I could have met him, though we did exchange some emails.
Requiescat In Pace, Mr. Ebert. I hope you’re watching the perfect film up there.”
I posted this on Facebook, attached to a link to a news story about the death of Mr. Roger Ebert.
I’m still reeling.
The emotions I’m feeling are many. I know I said I would not get personal on this blog and I intend to keep to that promise for the most part. Forgive me in advance if what follows is scattered and unfocused in some places. I’m letting the thoughts and feelings well up and am looking at each the way I might look at a piece of art for the first time, simply letting it be what it is without judgement and very little analysis.
Roger Ebert was a film critic by job description, but in reality he was a critic of life and the world in which we all live. It just so happened that both life and the world were reflected in film and that was how he best loved to look at it. It just didn’t stop him from looking at the world straight on, either. In the age of social media, he was a titan of the Twitter-sphere, sharing links not just about movies and his reviews, but of interesting articles, comments on religion and politics, and sometimes just funny stories. The under-riding presence of a critique (his or someone else’s) was always there. One way or another they made you think or see the world a little differently.
I’m going to miss that.
In the days after September 11th, 2001, that terrifying, terrible day, there was a lot of emotion in the world. The August before, I’d gone to see the film “Final Fantasy” in the theatre and one of the trailers was for Sam Raimi’s first “Spider-Man” film. It ended with bank robbers in a helicopter being caught in a giant spider web. The web was spun between the two World Trade Centres in New York City. It was a powerful image, made too powerful a month later when maniacs destroyed them (along with destroying countless lives). The ad was pulled from theatres and even now is unavailable on the DVD. The knee-jerk reaction of the time was to remove the iconic Twin Towers from current TV shows and films about to be released. The argument was that it was being done out of respect. “The Sopranos” cut their shot of the Towers in Tony’s rear view mirror that season and from all to follow. There was serious talk of older movies being edited to take them out, apparently because some believed it was too painful or disrespectful to show them anymore. It bothered me, but I couldn’t quite articulate why I thought such action was wrong. I wrote to Mr. Ebert and said I couldn’t understand this reaction, really. He wrote back, agreeing, and said, “When someone dies, you don’t destroy all their photos.”
I later submitted an entry to his Little Glossary Of Movie Terms:
Backlit Horizon Phenomenon
The ever-present white light whose source is always just beyond the horizon line where no practical light source would be. This phenomenon allows dramatic entrances to secluded locales, e.g., the appearance of the Ring Wraiths on the road in “The Fellowship of the Ring” and the appearance of the Nigerian soldiers in the jungle in “Tears of the Sun.”PATRICK LEMIEUX, TORONTO
I’m still really proud to have made it into his collection, even in a small way.
It bothers me that in his battle against cancer in his last years he lost his ability to speak. It didn’t stop him working and writing, but I felt bad for him, nonetheless. I can’t imagine what life must have been like. He never publicly complained or sought sympathy for what he was going through. I admire that.
I didn’t always agree with Ebert and sometimes I think he missed the point in a film he would slam, but every argument for his position was made clearly and understandably, so I could meet him halfway. It helped me learn the value of critical thinking and critical writing, to argue not with the goal of antagonizing, but with an eye on enlightening the opposing view as to where I’m coming from on a topic.
It’s sad that he won’t see the new Star Wars movies.
The current young generation will never quite understand just how much power the duo of Siskel & Ebert had back in the day. Getting “Two Thumbs Up” would make your box office and practically guarantee a hit film. And “Thumbs Down,” well, you knew you had a stinker on your hands. After Gene Siskel died, that magic combination was lost and Roger Ebert, still a great critic, continued to review and write and enlighten. He’d talk about his friend and colleague Siskel and we learned that even though the arguments on their show were genuine, the two never lost respect of friendship. I recall Ebert saying in an interview that he and Gene had a shorthand about movies, simple words and phrases they developed over the years, that could communicate so much so quickly and that Ebert really missed that.
I also recall Ebert saying several times that he had no fear of death. Why should he, he’d ask? He came from nothing and would go back to nothing. What was to fear? I admire that, too.
Lastly, I hope the world learned some things from him. I hope his legacy dissuades some bad movies from being made. I hope the world learned that “critic” is not a bad word. We needed Ebert’s intelligent analysis of the our world and we all need to pick up where he left off.
I plan to do my part.
My last blog post was in December, more than three months ago.
It’s been busy, to say the least. A massive collaboration from January to now (March) resulted in a LOT of painting of new pieces and several large exhibits of my work. Most waking hours in these months were devoted to the project, to the point of being able to focus on little else, including this blog.
It’s not that I didn’t have anything new to say. I did. Nor was it a lack of interest, since I kept thinking I should get back to posting on here. The problem was that I wan my post to be engaging, with pictures and captions and links. Writing the blog is one thing. Adding the little details I think make it worthwhile sort of multiplies the time it takes to put an entry.
Writing a blog post can take a few hours or a few days, neither I which I could really spare in the last few months.
Then there’s the extra stuff:
What images do I want to use to illustrate what I’m talking about?
Find the images, upload them, set display parameters, add captions, all one at a time. Believe it or not, that’s a couple hours of work right there. Even it the article took a few hours itself to write, with the images, that a good chunk of a day gone, minimum.
Any links, like to YouTube or other articles?
Adding hyperlinks is tedious and slow a process, taking a chunk of time to do each. There’s at least a few more hours gone.
The possible scenario has this occupy an entire day. Given the bulk of my schedule, even that was asking too much. I was missing family and friends because of the work needed to do the art project, and they were all supportive, but to stop for a day to post on here would have been criminal and a tad selfish. It was best to simply not do anything with the blog until I had a bit more time.
I’m writing this post because this run of paintings and exhibits has finished (there will be more to come!) and I feel I have time to stop and catch up. I’m not planning to illustrate this post, either. It’s the most technically simple post I can produce: just me writing stuff. Notice the utter lack of bells and whistles? Yeah. I much prefer having images attached!
The work I put in to the art and their exhibition was incredibly rewarding on so many levels. I hope to write about it all soon in some detail. The reward of all my effort, too, was a week of solitude with family and friends at a cottage with no internet. Had there been any, I might have posted earlier. Upon my return to civilization, I was back at it, waste deep in work and without much time to spare. Again, it was all worth it, but the blog was set aside in order to make room in my tightly crammed schedule.
To give you a better idea of what some of my days were like, it was getting up in the morning and after a quick breakfast, start sketching out a painting on the canvas, in pencil. Then start painting. And not stopping for more than the shortest breaks of 10 or 15 minutes, enough time for acrylic paint to dry, rest a moment (since it’s very focussed work, which I’ll talk about in a sec) and then get back at it. I had music playing and would get into a groove as I worked and hours would fly by. The paintings took shape and most of the time I was happy with the progress. Sometimes I was not, but the luxury of simply stopping was not available. I had imposed a quota of sorts, a number of paintings I felt I needed to complete for each exhibit. There was no slacking off. If part of the painting, like face or a building or whatever, wasn’t coming together and looked like crap, I kept at it until it got to where I needed it to be.
I mentioned focus and this is where it could be either the best thing in the world or my worst enemy. The mind is working on several levels while painting. Part of the mind is thinking about the paint, the brush strokes (every. single. one), the overall composition and all the elements of design, while the other part is locked into the music, because for me, the music sets the internal pace the other part needs to work efficiently. When both parts are locked and working together, it’s sublime. For me, this is the zone. I don’t always need music for it. When I write, I prefer quiet. I can paint to silence, too, I don’t *need* the music, per se.
The problem with focus is: when the image I’m painting isn’t coming together and I keep at it, it becomes fuelled by frustration rather than internal rhythms (those parts of the mind that also like having the music around). It becomes mental wrestling match as my mind works even hard to figure out what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do right. I try to simplify it. I go back to the basics, what I was taught by my trusted high school art teacher.
Paint what you see.
A curve here. A shadow there. The shapes. The textures.
I take a break (10 minutes) and come back with a fresher eye. I go at it again. If the part of the painting I’m wrestling with starts to come together as I need it to, great. There is much relief. If not, I try to put the frustration aside and repeat the process until I get it.
As I’m painting, I take two longer breaks for lunch and dinner. I watch something online as I eat or surf the internet. I don’t think about the painting. I give myself 30 minutes, maybe 45, then I’m back at it.
One of two things happens by this point:
1) I see the end in sight. Only a few areas left in the piece to paint and it’s done!
2) I realize there is a lot left to do. It’s not a discouraging thought. It requires a bit of planning. How much more can I accomplish in the next section, I ask myself?
If I see the end of the piece is close, I go for it. If not, I pace myself till I feel that’s enough for the day and hope I get the rest done tomorrow.
All of that is a day of me painting. Many of the pieces I did for the recent project were done in a day or a day and a half. This seems to boggle people’s minds. I’m not bragging. It’s hard. I can’t do it for an extended period of time, churning out art daily. I tried to push myself to get 8 new pieces painted in 10 days straight and, with this being near the end of the creative process on this project, I think I hit my limit. I ended up with 6 in 10 days straight. If I wasn’t painting to the clock and calendar, who knows what I might have achieved (maybe more, maybe less). I had a very real deadline in those last days of actual painting, that of leaving for the cottage to be with my family and friends. I didn’t want to bring my artwork up there because aside from the logistical headache of trying to bring all the supplies up, I knew deep down that I probably wouldn’t get anything done up there and to attempt to would ruin the time with my loved ones. So it had to be done before I left. I was painting right up to the late evening of the night before I left and when I declared the piece done, the pressure withdrawing was sweeter as feeling as ever. It’s always great to set away from the painting when it’s done, to savour the accomplishment of creating a thing. That evening, you’d think it would be amplified by the sheer total number I’d completed, but no. It was sweet, but not any more sweet. The physical relief was greater, given how hard and how long I’d been at it.
So, yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing!
What’s to come?
Well, my next project is finishing a book I’ve been putting together for a long, long time, with a friend/co-author.
More on that later.
WordPress informs me that I registered exactly 1 year ago today. Did I post that day? I could look, but I’m lazy. Hopefully, WordPress will continue to remind me in future years, saving me having to remember.
This calls for a drink!
Thanks to everyone for reading.
I may have a new post up by the end of the year. Or not. It’s Christmas time, so I’m sort of on a break, doing Christmas-y things.
If I don’t post between now and January, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
You may not have known that about me.
I mention this because in Canada, by the end of October, we’ve scratched both Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en off our lists and the next major holiday for many is Christmas. Of course, many others don’t celebrate Christmas as such, not being of a Christian faith. It can get into sticky political correctness territory here, so all I’ll say is this: come December, do what makes you happy! I’m doing the Christmas thing!
I love the lights, the tacky, bright decorations, Santa Claus at the mall and I love a lot of the music I hear in stores. Some songs I really don’t like, but they get played anyway. Over the years, though, I’ve built up a mental list of Christmas and related songs I almost never hear during the holidays unless I play them myself. These are what I call The Lost Christmas Songs.
In no particular order…
A non-album track from 1984. The guys who gave us Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites The Dust, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions made one shot at an exclusively Christmas single and it was actually a hit (#21 in the UK) that year. It has all the Queen trademarks of lush harmonies and production and has aged reasonably well considering it comes from the ’80s.
Funny Christmas songs are as much a part of the holidays as the straightforward classics, but many are just parodies of existing songs, changing the words. Not this 1987 track, from comedic rockers Bad News. It’s its own song and a very good one too (though it borrows its intro from the Troika written for “Lieutenant Kije”). It pokes fun at the many (many!) artists who record Christmas albums just to cash in on the season, rather than those artists having a legitimate artistic expression about this time of year. And it’s a catchy tune!
“Silent Night” is hardly a lost Christmas song, for sure, but this performance, the B-side of his 1992 “Tattoo” CD single, is a beautiful instrumental version. Sit by the window and watch it snow while listening to it and you’re imagination will be transported somewhere magical.
A rock and roll suite of selections from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and it’s just as much fun as you’d imagine. This 1962 single was later covered live by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who released it as a single, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra did a version on their album Night Castle.
From the collection Merry Axe-mas, this track sees the guitarist from the prog-rock band Rush performing a gentle acoustic rendition that will warm your heart.
This is a tough one and I almost didn’t include it out of deference to my US readers. The horror of 9/11 has made the term “ground zero” almost exclusively linked to New York City and the World Trade Center twin towers. What “ground zero” actually always refers to is the point of impact of an explosion on the ground. In 1986, when the song was written and released, it referred to a nuclear explosion. The song humorously describes the holiday aftermath. Not a parody, as Al is famous for, but an original song that sounds like an early-’60s Wall-Of-Sound number. The world lost much on 9/11, but it’s time to take this song back!
Written by Queen’s guitarist at the same time as “Thank God It’s Christmas.” Queen chose the one track to record, so Brian brought the other to Anita as he was producing her first solo album. A sweet little track, maybe a bit sacchrine for some, but it comes by it honestly.
I mentioned this piece earlier and I can guarantee you’ve heard part of it. It’s been co-opted for the backing of numerous Christmas songs, like “I Believe In Father Christmas” by Greg Lake and Helen Love’s “Happiest Time Of The Year.” Well, here’s your chance to get to know the original and if you’re like me, once Prokofiev’s original sleigh ride music grabs you, you won’t care for the pieces that stand on its shoulders.
The closing number from their film The Meaning Of Life. Python humour is an acquired taste, but this calypso-themed celebration of everything great in Heaven (where it’s Christmas all the time!) is no less silly than what you hear on the radio all December long.
Not specifically a Christmas track, but it certainly fits the season. A single in 1995 from their album Made In Heaven, it was a #6 hit in the UK and is a gentle reflection on winter.
This single, from the album Christmas In The Stars, reach #69 on the Billboard charts in 1980. I freely admit, it’s utter cheese, but so what?! I’ll take it over lame-as-all-fuck “Christmas Shoes” any day. With Disney buying Lucasfilm, don’t be surprised if this album gets re-issued. And no, this album has no connection to the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978.
A Gaelic rendition of “Silent Night” that loses none of its power in the translation and arguably gains a good deal more elegance sung by Enya. Those put off by the religious tone of the English-language version can enjoy this recording for the music, melody and vocals without the words getting in their way. This version appears on her 1994 single and her 2006 Sounds Of The Season EP.
This is a very old Christmas piece with a long and varied history dating back to the Middle Ages. Oldfield’s instrumental hit (#4 in the UK) version is based on Pearsall’s adaptation. It’s a jaunty, lighthearted folk arrangement that will put a spring in your step. More recently, Mike played part of this at the Opening Ceremony to the 2012 Olympics, so we may hear it get a resurgence in popularity in North America.
If you can’t bring yourself to play “Christmas At Ground Zero,” at least there’s this track to fall back on. Another original composition, a rocker this time, comes from his album Bad Hair Day. Santa loses it and goes on a killing spree at the workshop. Play it loud!
The Ladies recorded a full Christmas album (Barenaked For The Holidays) and re-recorded this song for it. “Elf’s Lament,” the radio favourite from the album, overshadows this track, which is also an original composition and dates back years earlier. The first recording appears on the 1995 collection Cool Christmas, has more energy to it. (The video linked isn’t the 1995 recording, but a live version, because the 1995 is no where to be found. It retains the punchiness of the original, though.)
Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker gets most of the love when it comes to seasonal classical music when it’s not sharing it with Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy,” which is a shame because there are other great pieces dedicated to winter. If you find yourself growing weary of the modern pop Christmas standards and want something different, Joseph Suk’s Opus 9 “A Tale For A Winter’s Evening” (also known as “A Winter’s Tale” on some recordings, such as the excellent Naxos label release) is a great place to start.
Not heard nearly as often in commercials, TV shows and movies, Vivaldi’s Winter should sound unsullied in the imagination. You’ll recognize Vivaldi’s string sound as it relates to the more well-known “Spring” and “Summer,” but it will take you somewhere bright and new if you’re not as familiar with this piece (and I’m betting you’re not, unless you’re into classical music).
Bax himself described Winter Legends as “a northern nature piece full of sea and pine forests and dark legends.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. Winter Legends is sort of a power ballad of classical music, intense and full of energy long before the Trans-Siberian Orchestra rocked Christmas. It may be a bit dark for some, but it’ll balance out the sweet cheeriness of holiday music when it gets to be too much unbridled joy for one person.
19) Father Christmas – The Kinks
(Reader Suggestion) A tongue-in-cheek track about what kids really want for Christmas: money! Edgier than most humorous holiday songs, but that’s what The Kinks do best. This 1977 punk-rock single was later included on re-issues of their album Misfits. Thanks for the suggestion, Brian Pat!
I’ve heard people lament that every Christmas it’s the same old thing. The same songs are re-recorded over and over, they say, and they’re mostly right. It’s hard to write either a brand new Christmas song or even an original take on an existing song. My list above has some of both. There’s no reason I can fathom that in the sea of versions of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)*,” songs like “Thank God It’s Christmas” get overlooked by radio programmers looking for something else to liven things up. Maybe all the songs listed aren’t quite fit for the mainstream airwaves, but load these onto your MP3 player and fire them up at the next Christmas party. The other people in the room probably haven’t heard most of these.
If you have Lost Christmas favourites, let me know and I’ll add them to the list**.
* Darlene Love’s original recording of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” kicks so much ass no one ever need bother trying to top it. That means you, Bono!
**Unless I know the song and hate it, then it’s not making the list.
I’m a member of the Artists’ Network here in Toronto and we’re having an fundraising auction for the organization.
Here’s what the Artists’ Network does:
“We’re dedicated to supporting visual artists in their professional business practice. We promote professional development and entrepreneurship of artists by organizing seminars, providing exhibitions and networking opportunities.” Artists’ Network
Here’s the link to The Little Art Show auction.
There is a variety of great works by professional artists and it’s all very affordable. It features paintings, photography and sculpture in many different styles and genres.
My Artist’s Statement:
After more than 20 years, it’s still a word that fires my imagination. The audience sees the stories performed onstage, but rarely sees the stories which play out behind the curtains, above the stage, or in the dark recesses of the space, where the memories of shows past remain, in names scrawled on old pieces of scenery, the tags of costumes and in tattered scripts left in the control booth. It’s a Twilight Zone of sorts back there, a place caught between places, between where the audience dreams and the troupers play. It is fuelled by vivid imagination, but driven by unrelenting reality. It’s hard work creating the fantastical. There’s never enough time, hardly enough money and more often than not, low-tech solutions will win the day.
Take a wander, now, past the sign that says, “No Audience Beyond This Point.” See what the theatre folk see. Glimpse what the theatre itself remembers. And I like to believe that it does remember the actors, dancers and crew who worked there and the shows they mounted. Is the theatre haunted? Maybe. Is Shakespeare’s Scottish Play really cursed? Well, there was this one time when…
If you live in the Toronto area, you can see all the pieces in the auction’s exhibit live, in person, at The Hangman Gallery, 756 Queen St. E., Toronto, Ontario.
The auction ends Saturday, November 17th, 2012 at 9 PM.