Friday, August 31, 2007


i stopped at Wendy's tonight on my way home from work. i had a craving for soft serve vanilla ice cream all day. now, mind you, i'm not much of a fast food connoisseur. in fact, i've been actively avoiding it for years now. after reading Fast Food Nation, seeing Supersize Me, and hearing all the fun facts from my vegetarian friends, i've become pretty disgusted by the whole scene. maybe my lack of frequent visits attributes to why so many things seemed odd to me.

first of all, the line for the drive through was a least 20 cars long. the beginning of the line almost met the end, circling the entire building. seeing hardly anyone inside, i parked and went in. the line was only about 5 or 6 people deep.

i looked over the menu as i waited for my turn. curiously, it was ridiculously simplified. the sign on the wall was broken into 6 sections. 5 displayed pictures of the combo meals and frosty desserts. 1 was the value menu. it was practically text free.

also, there's almost no individual items listed. the sandwiches in the meals aren't priced without the accompanying fries and soda.

frostys have diversified. you can get the standard chocolate or vanilla variety, a frosty float (half frosty, half root beer) or a twisted frosty (frosty mixed with a little crushed candy). what is weird is the pricing. a frosty is 99 cents for 12 oz., $1.49 for 16 oz., and $1.99 for 20 oz.. the twisted frosty is $2.89. that means that when you subtract the 99 cents worth of ice cream, you're paying almost $2 for about a tablespoon of crumbled oreos. the frosty float is $2.49 for 16 oz. (8 oz. of frosty, 8 oz. of root beer). subtract the 66 cents worth of ice cream and the 61 cents for the soda, and you realize you're paying as much for the cup as you are for the beverage. still, the two people in front of me got floats. the guy in front of them bought a twisted frosty.

i ordered and still had to wait about 5 minutes. i tried to figure out why but could come to no conclusion. the girl who took my order just stood there.

while patiently tapping my foot, i took notice of an "employees of the month" plaque. nothing fancy. just your run of the mill piece of wood with little brass plates for engraved names. it was proudly hung on the front wall. every brass plate was blank.

so what have i learned?
  • people would rather waste a half an hour on a friday evening than walk 20 feet.
  • fries and a soda automatically comes with anything you order
  • Wendy's views its customers as illiterate and devoid of basic math skills
  • cashiers do not perform functions that require more than the use of an index fingertip
  • no Wendy's employees have ever done a good job
i guess i just have a hard time understanding why these places are so successful. everyone is aware of how horribly unhealthy the food is. its not even that fresh or that tasty. its barely even biodegradable. i used to think the hook was the low cost, but most of the combo meals were over $5. the corporations apparently view their patrons as complete idiots. is it simply a matter of effective saturation advertising and "convenience"? i just don't get it.

am i the only person who thinks this is all bazaar?

Monday, August 27, 2007


this is a clip from the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant. Miss South Carolina was asked why 20% of people in the United States could not point out the United States on a map. this is her response. enjoy basking in the intellect of our youth.

here's a transcript (because its even funnier to read it):
THE HONORABLE JUDGE TEEGARDEN: "Recent polls have shown 1/5 of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?

MISS SOUTH CAROLINA: "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, some, uh, people out there in our nation don't have maps, and that I believe, that our, I, uh, education like such as South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere, like such as, and. I believe that they should, our education over here! in the U.S. should help the U.S., or, er, should help South Africa. It should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

A.C. SLATER: "Thank you very much. Miss South Carolina."

UPDATE: i just found out that Miss South Carolina actually finished in 4th place (3rd runner-up).

Sunday, August 26, 2007


realism, in regards to the fine arts style of painting, is defined as "the depiction of subjects as they appear in life, without embellishment or interpretation." its simply the recreation of an image by the hand as seen by the eye. like photography, but with a pencil or paintbrush instead of a lens and film.

back in the day, before cameras were commonplace, realist painters got most of the work. as art has historically been a luxury commodity for the wealthy, paintings allowed those who could afford it the opportunity to have their image imprinted in history. at the time, it was the most accessible option for visually capturing a moment for posterity.

i've had a little beef with realism since i came into my own as an artist. the casual art appreciators tend to flock towards realism. in my experience, the more realistic a painting, the more these people feel its beyond their own capacity, and thus, the more they are impressed with the artist's mastery of his tools. they're more impacted by the skill it required to produce the piece than by the piece itself or its competence in expressing something less tangible. the actual painting comes secondary, or not at all, as its the ability that is revered. its an admiration for the "how" and not the "what". a respect for the production that overshadows the produced.

the technical skill needed to reproduce something accurately has its value. i think its quite important for every artist to learn perspective and proportion and color mixing. its imperative for building foundations. learning how to see things as they are lets you see how you can change them as well, fitting them to your ideas. a professor told me something that i'll never forget:

"You have to learn all the rules so that you can learn how to break them."

while i think some are more inclined to excelling at it than others, i think that just about anyone can learn realism. that said, i think a truly gifted artist has something more than what can be taught. its an ability to express something through art. for art to have an effect on the viewer, a deep and profound meaning, it needs to go beyond mere photo-realistic representation. that's what makes fine art original. i look at it like this: if you sit a model in a chair and ask 10 realists to paint her, you'll get 10 paintings that all look virtually the same, more or less. if you were to have 10 non-realists paint her, you'll get 10 unique painting. one may convey the loneliness of the woman. one may convey the artists own issues with sexuality. one may convey the harmony and juxtaposition of color and form. while all 10 paintings are of the same subject matter, they would all express something more, something additional, something personal or emotional or symbolic. the subject for the realists is a woman sitting in a chair. for the non-realist, that's only part of it. maybe even nothing more than an inspiration.

i think a lot of folks get hung up on the "i could've done that" idea. Pollack or Mondrian come to mind. they see abstraction as something within their own grasp. the fact is, in many cases, there's a lot of stones that need to be stepped on before an artist can really express one's self in the manner he or she envisions. look at some of Picasso's early work and his drawings. he's got the realistic chops, and yet he veered so far off that path. he consciously chose to do so.

its a style with huge limitations. its easy and straight forward. its a style of face value, and personally, i need more from my artwork. both in what i admire and honor, and in what i create.

in the end, this is all just a statement of opinion. art is something different to everyone. any appreciation at all gets a thumbs up from me. i'm not bitter or angry and i don't mean to offend anyone or play myself off as some pretentious art snob. honestly, to each their own. i do actually respect realist paintings. i just think that there's a lot more that can be gained from art beyond the arrangement of a composition and the ability required to execute it. i just think some people close that window without ever looking through it.

Friday, August 24, 2007


here's an excerpt of an interesting article i read yesterday. its amazing what this research could potentially produce, and by the sounds of it, within the very near future. i was aware of the miller-urey experiments and some other biochemical research on amino acids and their part in the foundations of early organic molecules, but this is gargantuan leaps and bounds ahead of that. the greatest unknown still on this planet is on the verge of discovery.

Artificial Life Likely in 3 to 10 Years
Aug 19 11:52 PM US/Eastern
"Around the world, a handful of scientists are trying to create life from scratch and they're getting closer. Experts expect an announcement within three to 10 years from someone in the now little-known field of "wet artificial life." "It's going to be a big deal and everybody's going to know about it," said Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, one of those in the race. "We're talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways—in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict."
That first cell of synthetic life—made from the basic chemicals in DNA—may not seem like much to non-scientists. For one thing, you'll have to look in a microscope to see it. "Creating protocells has the potential to shed new light on our place in the universe," Bedau said. "This will remove one of the few fundamental mysteries about creation in the universe and our role."
And several scientists believe man-made life forms will one day offer the potential for solving a variety of problems, from fighting diseases to locking up greenhouse gases to eating toxic waste..."

quite frankly, i'm pretty shocked to only be hearing about this now. i would have thought this would've been huge news. even more surprising is that i've learned about it from an unbiased article interviewing some of the leading scientific researchers and not from any one of the major religions who have got to be sweating it out about all of this. i'd have thought that they'd have tried to make a preemptive strike against these advances like they did with stem cell research or with cloning.

...just something to ponder...

Thursday, August 23, 2007


something i always try to do when i'm outside of the country is ask people about their opinion of america and its inhabitants. it's interesting to me to see how we're viewed from the outside. it also shines a light on how skewed our perception of ourselves really is.

we are often seen as bullies. as greedy consumerers. as cocky elitists.


we ARE the greatest country in the world...right?

USA Ranking on Adult Literacy: #9
USA Ranking on Healthcare Quality: #37
USA Ranking of Student Reading Ability: #12
USA Ranking of Student Problem Solving Ability: #26
USA Ranking on Student Mathematics Ability: # 24
USA Ranking of Student Science Ability: #19
USA Ranking on Women's Rights Scale: #17
USA Position on Gay Rights Progress: # 6
USA Ranking on Life Expectancy: #29
USA Ranking on Journalistic Freedom: #32
USA Ranking on Quality of Life: #13
USA Ranking on Environmental Sustainability: #45
USA Ranking on Overall Currency Strength: #3
USA Ranking on Infant Mortality Rate: #32

so if we're not the best at anything, why does everyone think we are?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


when i was growing up, i was one of the few regular coffee drinkers i knew. my habit began in high school. i was mainly in it for the caffeine. i had alway been a night person. the quiet solitude gave me plenty of uninterrupted time to draw and write and paint, but left me sluggish for school in the morning. i'd make a stop at dunkin donuts (it was 'mister donut' then) almost every day.

when i was growing up, kids were prevented from drinking coffee. adults had a handful of reasons ready if the need arose.

"kids have enough energy already".
"it'll make your teeth yellow."
"coffee makes your breath smell."
"it'll stunt your growth."

kids all drink coffee now. with the explosion of coffeehouses and the starbucks franchise, its become the thing to do. its trendy. its hip. they even sell CD's and have live music. they're always full of kids. the grumpy old lady cashiers are gone, too. even the employees are kids.

where are all the grown ups who gave me so much slack 10 years ago?
are we heading towards a future race of jittery, yellow toothed, foul breathed midgets?

i can only hope.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


for years now, i've noticed a change in the molded plastic bodies that flaunt the fashions in store front windows. at some point, someone, somewhere, decided mannequins needed more anatomical accuracy. enter the hardened nipples.

clothing retailers want you to know that no matter what you wear, you're going to be chilly. halter top. baby tee. mohair sweater. any way you look at it, you're nipples are going to be freezing. there's no way around it. hiding this fact with nipple less mannequins is unfair to the me, its unfair to you, and honestly, its unfair to our nation's children.

they must have also realized that people, especially slender, well proportioned women with extremely even complexions, are perpetually sexually aroused. "...but how will my nipples look in this shirt?" is a question that need never be awkwardly asked again.

these mannequins also alter the tops for comfort. nothing is worse than buying a new shirt that fits perfectly with soft nipples, only to tighten unbearably once the temperature drops. fortunately, that embarrassing predicament is a thing of the past. fashions have all been pre-stretched in the whole areola region. this provides both added nipple support and a comfy, worn in feel. like an old pair of shoes with that horrible "breaking in" period.

now if only male mannequins were more anatomically correct, i could cut the time i spend purchasing pants in half.

Friday, August 17, 2007


get ready!

a milestone in U.S. history is about to happen!

as of today, president Bush has taken 426 vacation days. about 14.2 months. an average of 9.5 weeks a year. just shy of a quarter of his presidency.

Reagan holds the record, for now, with 436 days (Jimmy Carter has the least with 79). with 17 months still remaining in Bush's term and being as he is currently on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, he's poised to take home the "most absent president" trophy very soon. in fact, he's probably going to crush the record when all has been told, stomping it into the ground under his spurred cowboy boots somewhere in Texas.

some said it couldn't be done. most think it shouldn't be done. no president could possibly take more time off then Reagan, right? after all, Ronny was our oldest president. he's got that record, too. plus, let's not forget he was shot within months of taking office.

George will prove them wrong. he surpassed Clinton more than 270 vacation days ago, and he's not about to let an attempted assassination survivor 25 years his senior hold the title if he can help it. it doesn't look like Bush will let anything stand in his way. not economic crisis. not executive decision making. not disaster relief. not even wars he waged. he's got his eye on the prize now.

its the final countdown.

Monday, August 13, 2007


a couple months ago, i helped out with a Vitamin Water advertisement. its shot as a mock movie trailer. Donovan Mcnabb stars in it as a football player. While working out one day, some strange old man appears and trains him to face off against ghosts of football heroes from yesteryear to secure his place in history. i played one of the ghosts.

surprisingly, my transformation from a healthy young man into an undead athletic superstar required only a retro uniform and make-up. a few layers of gauze, latex rubber and make-up covered my entire face and neck. after we were each properly zombie-fied, we climbed into our shoulder pads, leather padded pants, leather helmets, knee high wool socks and long sleeve wool jerseys. by that time, the temperature had risen to 96 degrees. for about 3 hours, i was in all wool and leather with a quarter inch of rubber on my face and neck in the midst of a heatwave. jealous?

it was during this time that i had the most interaction with Donovan. he seemed like a pretty cool guy and fortunately, he also seemed to have a good sense of humor. for instance, i introduced myself with something like, "hi. i'm Tyler, the pinnacle of athletic skill which you'll have to better if you want to be a great football player." he picked up on my sarcasm pretty quickly, laughing at me, not with me.

the website launched today!
grab a vitamin water and take a gander.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


"the foreboding calm"

the blaring sound of silenced birds

perched still atop the swaying limbs
of trees that rock in violent wind
and moan like sunday hymns

the clouds have swept across the sky
and stamped light short of its goal
the summer heat has turned a chill
which stutters through my soul

people's words come out as whispers
as static passers pass on by
from underneath a poplar tree
where all the view is sky

wind comes in from all directions
brushing grass across my feet
the storm that hails from everywhere
can offer no retreat

Friday, August 3, 2007


some lovely animated shorts by
Bill Plympton




Mr. Plympton has been one of my favorite animators since i first saw his "plymptoons" on Liquid Television, a showcase for new animators that aired late, late, late night on MTV. remarkably, he single handedly draws every cell by hand himself (one of the first animators to tackle such a feat). two of his shorts fetched him oscar nominations (1987's "Your Face" was one of them). i met him years ago while i was in art school. he came and spoke candidly about his life and work as an animator. he's a really nice guy with an imagination i envy.

here is his website if you want to know more:
The Official Bill Plympton Website

Thursday, August 2, 2007


today was a hot day.

i left the cozy, air conditioned, biosphere of my workplace for lunch and emerged into the sunshine like walking into a wet blanket. i popped the lock on my car door and flopped onto the scorching hot leather seat. i shut the door and labored to take in a few breaths of the heat inside, magnified by the convex windows and sealed in the closed quarters. it was so hot, my brain stalled. it just stopped from temperature shock.

i felt like just lying down. there was an instant temptation to surrender and just drift off into a deep sleep, sucked dry off all the energy i had. then i thought that passing out might not be the best course of action (or inaction). a squad of ambulances would likely arrive not long after someone noticed me. they'd sit me up, check my vital signs, wipe the sweat from my brow, and place a thermometer in my mouth. the moment the glass tip would touch my tongue, my core temperature would superheat the mercury inside, shattering the glass tube. fragments would shoot into the face of the medic, knocking him back into the open doors of the ambulance. his flailing arms would collide with their portable x-ray machine and defibrillator paddles, coincidentally switching the paddles to "on" mode when it jarred against the asphalt. milliseconds later, i'd hear a series of beeps, the cue for the defibrillator paddles reaching their full charge. the electric current would burst forth, jumping several inches to the x-ray machine, activating wild radiation emissions. half of the thermometer would still hang from my mouth. my heat would continue to agitate the remaining mercury, sending the atoms into a frenzy. the collision of the electrons would happen at such a high speed that the liquid metal would reverse its charge on an atomic level, converting the metal from matter to antimatter. eventually, i'd be too weak to continue holding the fractured thermometer in my mouth, and it would roll out and shatter on the parking lot. the antimatter would reach annihilation the moment it made contact with matter of the earth, then boom - nuclear explosion with radioactive fall out.

maybe catching some zzz's wouldn't be the best of ideas.

i reconsidered. instead of taking a nap in the front seat, i just rolled down the windows and went to buy an Icee. when weighing the options, the scales tipped towards frozen refreshment. i don't want a massive dirty bomb detonation on my conscience. my parents wouldn't be too happy with me.

long story short,
summer sucks.