Conan O'Brien is a leader of the redheads. I look up to him as our leader at least. Let's look at history and see who has done greater. Esau: Totally lost his birthright to Jacob. Nice one ginger. King David: Totally lost his seat in heaven. Hmm, I didn't mean this to be a religious post. Moving on! Molly Ringwald: Whatever happened to her? She had a good thing going. She is lost now though. Carrot Top: Completely destroyed the rep that we were building. Props? Seriously? You can't build a career only on that. I think he still performs in Vegas—the place where washed up entertainers go to die now. Luckily Conan came along.
I've been watching Conan for years. I remember when my mom and dad let me stay up one night. I was so excited! I remember seeing Conan's show start. It started by some random guy going into makeup and coming out looking like Conan. For the longest time I thought that that was actually how Conan got ready for the show. That he was some random brunette, but was transformed into this hilarious redhead.
Through the years I came to admire Conan not just for his comedy style, but for the attention he gave everyone. He seemed like he genuinely cared about what people said—even the really weird guests.
I don't think I need to go over the whole Conan vs. Leno debacle. If you want to read about it look here. I thought I would just illustrate my feelings in the picture below:
"All I ask of you is one thing: please don't be cynical.
I hate cynicism—it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere.
Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get.
But if you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen."
I found it easy to be friends with everyone in elementary school. Nothing seemed to make me hate someone—unless they had cooties. Cooties are disgusting. I'm glad I got my vaccinations for it at a young age. In retrospect I feel kinda bad for those kids with cooties. Stuck in bubbles while we lived the life in the outside world. So minus the cooties kids, everyone was my friend. I felt comfortable at doing whatever I pleased, and not feeling judged for it. Then came middle school. It's an awkward time. Not only does your body go through "changes," but your social situations begin to change as well. People start defining who you are by the clothes you wear, music you listen to, looks, people you hang around with, etc. It's a pretty tough adjustment.
I don't think I would have considered myself one of the "cool kids." I had hand me downs from my older brothers which consisted of baggy jnco pants and oversized neckhole mossimo shirts. I tried to listen to rap music, but wasn't really grasping it since I'm probably the whitest person I know. Even Eminem couldn't reach me. I enjoyed comics and studying. I also had a wicked X-men action figure collection going on. These were not considered "cool."
I always enjoyed when teachers would say "Just be yourself." I'm pretty sure these people didn't go to middle school. Being yourself seemed really odd and weird. It really bothered me that I was always going to be judged for appearances. I decided to try to fight this concept in high school. I changed my appearance drastically. I started buying band shirts and dickie work pants. I grew my hair out and wore tons of wristbands. I'm talking spikes and chains type wristbands. I wanted people to get to know me by who I was and what I did, not by my appearance.
I think that I wanted to kinda be the bad boy that I heard so much about in movies and in books. Someone that looked scary, but was in actuality someone that—when you got to know—was a really nice guy. In Rebel Without a Cause James Dean's character is painted as a troublemaker, but in actuality is a good person with a rough family situation. His parents are constantly fighting with his father always advocating for him, but always losing. We learn that he is a good person that cares about certain people surrounding him, but feeling need to protect himself from people around him. He is an antihero, or a hero that lacks the normal attributes that we would assume a hero to have.
Clint Eastwood is antihero. A majority of his characters are rough, gritty, and dark. He was just someone that you didn't want to mess with. He stood by his principals and you didn't want to cross him. In the end though, you always discovered he had deep reasoning for the actions that he made. He always helped people in the end. Another antihero—you can disagree if you want—is Don Vito Corleone, or The Godfather. He is a man that has great sentiments towards his family, and wants the best for them. After the mafia kills his family in Sicily he travels to America and starts a new life. He tries to have an honest life, but the local crime family edges him out of his job. Determined to make ends meet and provide for his family he starts a life of crime and eventually becomes the local mafia leader. He becomes what he hated.
I thought that people should get to know me. I thought that the clothes and spikey accessories would scare off people except the ones that didn't judge by how people looked. These were the people I was interested in getting to know. Eventually I found that this was not realistic thinking. I dated a girl who was a lot of fun, and great to talk to. She was a little wild, and I felt that I could be myself around her. One day I decided to go hang out with her without all of the accessories and without crazy clothes. Our relationship was over that day. I think that people will tend to judge us by how we look. That has a large affect on who we are. I find myself judging others by there looks and actions as well, and realizing almost every time that my judgements have been wrong.
When I was a little kid my parents and brothers were entertained by asking me "Who are you?" I'd squint my eyes, and with a stern look I'd say "I'm Batman." I ran around with my Batman pajamas fighting crime. The pajamas even came with a cape that had velcro so that you could tear it on and off. I would run around jumping in the air while the cape flied around in back of me—but when I fought bad guys—I was all business. I'd rip off the cape and kick some bad guy butt.
Back then they would play reruns of Adam West's Batman on T.V. I would sit there and be entertained by all of it's corny punch lines and crazy plot twists. I even own the movie. Watching it now is as hilarious as ever. In one scene, Batman runs around with a bomb that is about to detonate, but can't throw it over the side of the dock because there are little ducks there. Just about when it blows up Batman runs off screen with it. There is an explosion and we are to believe that our caped crusader has blown up. He returns seconds later unscathed to tell Robin—and the audience—what happened. The show always had something like that. Something incredible would always happen off screen leaving you wanting to know what happened. Below is a drawing I did of Adam West as Batman.
As much fun as the old show was, I think it was the cartoon that really got me into Batman. Remember when you were excited to come home from school to watch cartoons? Batman was the most exciting part of my day. School would teach you math and science—things you would never need to know in real life—whereas Batman taught you to have a moral backbone. To fight for good and justice. The intro didn't even say Batman during it. It didn't have to. Who doesn't know who Batman is?
In the DC universe(Detective Comics), there has always been two heroes that have reigned supreme. Those two are Batman and Superman. I feel that you can like both, but when it comes down to it, the choice is easy: Batman. He is more relatable. Sure he's rich and has a batcave under his house, but he is a normal guy. He wasn't born with super powers. He had to train and master his skills. He's a millionaire playboy by day, dark caped avenger by night. Who would think being a nerdy reporter is cooler than that? Batman has that dark edge, and Superman is a boy scout. If you doubt how cool Batman is compared to Superman; read The Dark Knight Returns and it's sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
I'm assuming at this point, you're thinking I'm a nerd. I admit that that is slightly true, but what person hasn't been fascinated by the mythology of these heroes. Perhaps you didn't get into the show or comics, but what about the movies. The old Tim Burton ones are still amazing. I remember being in a class where a teacher was talking about Batman(one of the only times I paid attention) and heard his view on the actors that played Batman. He said,"Michael Keaton was an actor in comedies. When I saw that he was playing Batman, I thought they were making a big mistake. When I saw the movie I knew that that guy was Batman. At first I didn't think Val Kilmer was a great choice, but that guy was Batman too. George Clooney was not Batman, but Christian Bale is Batman. They just keep getting better and better." I agree with his statements. The new Batman films have definitely become some of the best movies of our time as well. July 2012 can't come soon enough.
I leave you with a couple more drawings I have done below.
The Joker: Best Villain Ever!
I drew the above piece, but it was originally done by Alex Ross.
To see the original go here: http://www.harley-quinn.com/joker/joker01.jpg
His website is http://www.alexrossart.com/index.asp. Check him out!
I think that one of the most catchy songs of my childhood was the theme for Reading Rainbow. I loved watching as Geordi La Forge from Star Trek would teach me about the importance of reading. He always ended the show with a segment called Book reviews where he said, "But you don't have to take my word for it," then kids would recommend books for me to read.
I loved searching out books to read. I spent tons of time occupying myself with different literary works. Roald Dahl books, The Giver, The Outsiders, Tuck Everlasting, Catcher in the Rye(that book was probably a little more adult for me at the time, but it became a quick favorite), Bridge to Terabithia, Rumble Fish, etc. Reading days were the best at school. Just being able to lay on the ground and read.
I wanted to illustrate some authors with some of my favorite quotes from them.
This one is about Edgar Allen Poe. His macabre writings entertained me during my teenage years. I thought that I was so cool drawing skulls while reading The Masque of the Red Death, then going to Hot Topic at the mall. The only thing that I've taken from that part of life is this: Skulls are still cool to draw. The quote underneath reads "There is an eloquence in true enthusiasm." Have you ever met a person that was genuinely excited about something? So much so that you too became excited. There is something special about that. I've always aspired to have that sort of passion. The drawing above is of Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain. The greatest humorist of the nineteenth century. His life has always interested me. He worked mostly on steamboats for the early part of his life and didn't publish anything until his later twenties. The quote used says "To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence." Think about it.
I would recommend books by these authors as well as the ones mentioned earlier in the post. Some other good books are: Anything by Jonathan Safran Foer, Chuck Klosterman, George Orwell, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Fahrenheit 451,etc. That doesn't even include all of the amazing graphic novels out there! If you're interested in those check out Watchmen, Goodbye Chunky Rice, Blankets, V for Vendetta, The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Batman: Year One, etc. Reading isn't for just nerds anymore. If you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them.
P.S. I was thinking about ending the blog post with "But you don't have to take my word for it," but that sounded lame. The more I think about it, the cooler it sounds though. Dang it! I still love that show.
I was one of the youngest kids in my school class. I have a summer birthday, so I made the deadline in time. I remember age meaning a lot to me in high school. Everyone was getting older—they were able to do more things, take on more responsibilities—and I felt just out of reach. Everyone was dating, driving, staying out later, before I was. Turning eighteen seemed to feel like a pretty big milestone. I was no longer a minor. There seemed to be so many restrictions taken away. One of my new responsibilities didn't really hit me at first. Registering to vote. It just didn't seem that big of a deal to me. Politics seemed like the world for the grown ups, and I still had a lot of growing up to do. I do remember the day that I registered though.
It was a bright sunny day at my college. I had just met up with a girl in between classes when I noticed that something was going on outside in the courtyard area. They were giving away free hot dogs if we registered to vote. (What could be more American than a hot dog?) I took five minutes and quickly filled out my sheet. I remember coming to the box that asked my political party. I thought about it for a second and checked Republican. My parents, grandparents, are Republicans, so I thought I was too.
I now consider myself to be unaffiliated. Not that I don't respect the beliefs of the Republican party, but I just didn't feel like I wanted to label myself with either party. To me, it seemed that there were just the two parties there to make it easier for voters. I found it weird that they grabbed certain issues and split them right down the middle. I feel like they are there just so people can have something to argue about. I print shirts, so I thought I would make a shirt design that illustrates how I feel about the system.
Conservative Democrat Nation. or Con.Dem.Nation for short. I feel like the war between parties really hinders the progress of this nation. Like Rodney King once said, "Can't we all just get along?"
P.S. I went to Baskin Robbins with my brother before the 2008 elections and they had Republican and Democrat ice cream. We said that we would decide who to vote for depending on which ice cream was better. The Republican/McCain ice cream tasted all old and nutty, but the Democrat/Obama ice cream was chocolaty and smooth with peanut butter pieces. I'm pretty sure Baskin Robbins did that on purpose. The ice cream business is so very biased.
P.P.S. That Rodney King quote is a misquote. He actually said,"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"
P.P.P.S Don't assume by my ice cream story that I voted for Obama. Assumptions are wrong. They only get you into trouble.
You might be asking yourself,"Another post about music?" Dang straight! Why not? I love art, and I love music, so why not show my appreciation of music through my art? Right? I knew you would agree with me. Let's get to it!
Jimi Hendrix: Guitar God. Look up videos of him on youtube. He is incredible. He is one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He is one of many musicians who died of a drug overdose. He took several sleeping pills the night of his death, when only half a tablet is recommended. He died choking on his own vomit. It's sad how many great musicians went out this way. It also raises the question: Would these musicians have been as creative or innovative without the influence of drugs and alcohol? Kurt Cobain: Grunge God. Whenever someone mentions the Generation X movement, I always think of Kurt Cobain for some reason. He seemed to typify what that movement was all about. Having long hair, scraggly clothes, and having the appearance of not caring about anything. It's interesting how some bands become famous and are misinterpreted by the media. I sometimes wonder about how some bands feel about becoming famous. I'm sure a lot of people would love to be famous, but at what price? Cobain overdosed on drugs, but recovered at a hospital. He then went home to Seattle where he shot himself. Harry Nilsson: Legendary Songwriter. Nilsson is amazing! I remember when my parents starting buying CDs. Nilsson was one of the first ones they got. I use to play the song Coconut over and over again as a kid. He wrote(and performs) the song One which you probably know better from Three Dog Night, as well as the song Without You, which some no name pop star does. You can google whoever that may be. Interesting fact: He owned a place in London where two musicians died: (1) Mama Cass of The Mamas and the Poppas and (2) Keith Moon from The Who. He was also a favorite of The Beatles, and became great friends with John Lennon. He died of heart failure in 1993. I recommend that his music be played anywhere and everywhere! Elvis Presley: The King of Rock and Roll. I have always enjoyed his music, but never really got into it until later in my life. Whenever I thought of Elvis, I thought of girls swooning over him. There would always be crowds of women crying over him. This type of publicity really didn't go over too well with me as a young kid. Why should I like something girls like? I also had heard that he didn't write his own songs. This is completely true, and kinda bothers me. Presley also was a slave to drugs, abusing them in his later years. He finally succumbed to them in 1977. Elliot Smith: King of Misery. If you have ever heard his music before, you kinda get goosebumps. There are several artist that have tried to have emotional angst within their music, but I don't think anyone had ever bore themselves quite like he did. I remember listening to the album XO a lot. He had an incredible way of expressing himself. He knew how to word things. Even some interview he gave were poetic. His music is beautiful, yet depressing. I remember when I first saw the movie The Royal Tenenbaums. There is a scene where Luke Wilson's character attempts suicide. Smith's song Needle in the Hay plays throughout the scene. It is my favorite scene of any movie. Don't judge me! Smith attempted suicide a few times before finally killing himself in 2003. Cat Stevens: Man of Peace. The only artist in this post that isn't dead(sorry guys, I really didn't intend to post a lot about death this time). His music is incredible, and deserves your attention. I share a birthday with him, so when that arrives I usually ask people to give me presents in his stead. He is also the only artist that I have a songbook to. There was a time in my life where I actually stopped listening to a lot of music, and just listened to Cat Stevens. He converted to Islam in 1977 and gave up music for a time to focus on educational and philanthropic causes. His islamic name is Yusuf Islam. Check him out.
I hope that this post wasn't too long, and that you can learn to appreciate these artists. Sweet!
I know that calling The Beatles the best band ever is a pretty bold statement, but could you tell me of another band that has made a bigger impact than them? The Beatles changed the face of rock 'n roll. They gave rock 'n roll a makeover. They took it over and made it theirs. Do you remember the first Beatles song you ever heard? Do you remember how that felt? Let me tell you my experience.
My parents have some interesting taste in music. I told you in my last post how we would listen to Michael Jackson on road trips. I remember listening to Michael or Footloose. My parents didn't have any Beatles though—which is very odd because they both like The Beatles a lot—so I never heard them at our house.
For Easter one year I got a Beach Boys tape, and listened to it for hours. I loved it. They were so fun to listen to. I was growing up though, and my musical tastes were expanding. Around this time my older brother gave me two cds that he didn't want anymore. Tori Amos and Abby Road by The Beatles. I don't recall ever listening to the Tori Amos cd. Mostly because I didn't really care for girl singers(see previous post) and also because it was Tori Amos. So I shelved that and gave Abby Road a listen. It was unlike anything I had ever listened to. Mind you that I was listening to some pretty crappy bands at the time, so The Beatles easily broke through to a whole new level.
A girl I met once explained to me that no one could like both The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and that I had been the only exception to the rule. I thought that that was the most ridiculous idea. If you are a Beach Boys fan, I highly recommend that you check out The Beatles, and vice versa. Both are incredible and talented beyond measure.
Here are some drawings I did of The Beatles:
George is my favorite by far. He is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. The songs that he wrote while in The Beatles are some of my favorites. He was also in the band The Traveling Wilburys in the eighties. I recommend them. Not only is George Harrison in it—as if that wasn't motivation enough—but other members include Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynn. Absolutely amazing! John Lennon was extremely brilliant and talented musically. He had some pretty strange beliefs though. Two words: Yoko Ono. Really? Paul McCartney, the pretty boy of The Beatles. I preferred to draw him with a beard. He was the first of The Beatles to grow one because he received on injury on his face from a motorcycle accident. All the other Beatles grew a beard after he did. What a trendsetter.
Where is Ringo? Good question. He sucks. I don't remember him as a musician. He will always be the conductor on Shining Time Station to me.
I was born in the eighties. Everyone owned a copy of Michael Jackson's Thriller. My parents had a copy of the cassette tape in our truck. We would go on family vacations listening to Michael when we drove. We have videotape of me dancing around the room saying that I was "bad." When we went to Disneyland when I was little, my favorite part was going to see Michael in the 3D feature Captain EO. I remember seeing the video "Bad" and thinking to myself how I needed to get a piano shirt like he had(don't worry, I made myself one).
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was a pretty big Michael Jackson fan back in the day. I thought he was so cool. I wanted to know how to moonwalk. I wanted to do what Michael was doing at that time. Jackson's personal life aside, I think he was an amazing performer. From when he was in the Jackson Five:
Until the time of his death. These drawings are just a couple of the ones I've made.
Gypsy punk anyone? For those of you who watch independant films, you may recognize Eugene Hutz from Everything is Illuminated or even that movie that Madonna directed, what was it called, Filth and Wisdom? For the rest of you, he's the lead singer of Gogol Bordello.
Gogol Bordello is a band from New York with a multi-ethnic background. Eugene himself comes from Ukraine. He and his family left Ukraine after hearing of the Chernobyl meltdown, which is the worst nuclear disaster in history. He spent several years in Eastern Europe in refugee camps. Through that he gained quite an incredible background in music. Check them out. You won't regret it.
I use to be a little biased about girl singers. I don't blame people that have felt that way. The people in the limelight have been Britney Spears, Cher, Spice Girls, Pussycat Dolls, etc. I just didn't relate to what they were saying. So I falsely stereotyped all female vocalists and never gave them a chance. I'm glad that I have changed my tastes and allowed myself to be exposed to some incredible singers: Jenny Lewis, Blondie's Debbie Harry, Neely Jenkins and Jamie Pressnall from Tilly and the Wall, Regina Spektor, Karen O, Zoey Deschanel, etc. There are so many more. Check them out. Widen your tastes, you never know what will happen. This is a picture of St. Vincent that I drew. She is incredible.
Henry David Thoreau wrote about owls in his book Walden, "I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and underdeveloped nature which men have not recognized. They represent the stark twilight and unsatisfied thoughts which all [men] have." Translation: Owls are freaking awesome!
As you can already tell, I love music. That was kinda one of the purposes of the last post. I know what you are thinking. You're thinking that that last post was about Bob Dylan, and also how much you would like to go eat a fortune cookie right now(side note: Those cookie fortunes always suck, right? Especially Panda Express fortune cookies. "You are an attractive person" Don't tell me something I already know fortune cookie! That wasn't even a fortune. I'd prefer to hear what date I will die.). Well you are wrong. It was about music too. I mean, it did mention music a little right? So there. I won.
I spend quite a bit of time listening to music, and then drawing those people. You'll be sure to see some more pieces of musicians in the future. Today I wanted to feature a piece on Andrew Bird:
He is an incredible musician. "Oh No" is also a really good song. Check it out. You have access to the internet so you have access to that song. I'll wait.....use youtube or whatever. Grooveshark works too. Did you hear it yet? Well hurry up!!!
INCREDIBLE!!! I KNOW!! That's why I recommended it to you. So you are probably wondering about the title of the post. Or at least now you are because I mentioned it. So here is my explanation: Andrew Bird was trained in the Suzuki method from the age of four. Suzuki method is an educational philosophy which helps people build character through a nurturing environment. This is usually done through music. Andrew Bird started playing the violin at the age of four. I think my parents should have started me out younger when they tried to get me to play piano. I started at 8 and avoided it as much as possible. My parents gave me the choice to give up when I was 12. I responded by playing nintendo. A skill I figured would be useful in the future. Who am I kidding?! It was so worth it!!
Dear Reader: Have you ever listened to Bob Dylan? Of course you must have heard of him. If you haven't listened to his music yet, then I implore you to give it a listen. Bob Dylan is one of the greatest musicians and lyricists of all time. Below is a little artistic tribute to him.