Archive for November, 2009

Books You Might Not Have Read Yet: An Expensive Education

Published November 20, 2009 by Molly

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Dollars to donuts this book got optioned the second it rolled off the presses. One need only list the ingredients to visualize the dollar signs popping up in movie exec eyes: a Harvard-educated preppy kid named Michael Teak performs spy business in Africa, investigates a rebel leader named Hatashil, and witnesses the bombing of an entire village under mysterious circumstances. Meanwhile, a Harvard professor who has won a Pulitzer Prize for a book heralding Hatashil as a renegade hero receives threats indicating that the freedom-fighter may be a terrorist. Plot threads intertwine. Kalashnikovs appear. Swahlili is spoken.

In other words, An Expensive Education is a book that combines suspense-novel hijinx with the interior world of a Holden Caulfield type (albeit a Holden who speaks Arabic and carries a handgun.) What’s not to love?

Tom DesLongchamp

Published November 20, 2009 by Graham

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Tom DesLonchamp is the filmmaker, RISD graduate, video game developer and swashbuckling daredevil who’s most recently responsible for an almost overwhelmingly endearing animated Jookabox music video. But that’s not all. DesLongchamp is a multi-disciplinary whiz kid. He’s generated a wide gamut of rapturously kinetic artwork, from the childhood cartoon pastiche of his short film Kid Show to a bizarre counter-documentary study of domesticated cats entitled About Dogs.

Browsing through his website is almost exhilarating, as you stumble onto unexpected creative endeavors like a visual Facebook diary and an informative animation about dental hygiene. Regardless of the medium or the subject, DesLongchamp seems to take an effervescent, fearless approach to life. While his devil may care attitude may have landed him in the hospital once or twice (due to tarping-related injuries), it’s also taken him to excitingly fresh creative ground. Check out our interview with Tom below.

How did you end up making the video for “You Cried Me”? What got you into Jookabox, and where did the concept for the video come from?

Last year I was introduced to Michael Kaufmann, who does A&R/Development for Asthmatic Kitty Records. He gave me Jookabox’s album Ropechain to listen to for game or music video ideas. I listened to the album a lot and became very familiar with its themes. I ended up creating a flash video game for the track “Girl Ain’t Preggers.” Almost a year later, Michael contacted me about doing something new for Jookabox’s new album, Dead Zone Boys. I listened to it and “You Cried Me” struck me with its energy. The song automatically conjured gestures of movement in my mind–not entirely specific to characters or images. The essence was something like a “let’s get the hell out of here” kind of feeling. I just held onto that emotion and started drawing ghosts. It was exciting to dive into a spooky theme, since it contrasted so much with my last animation, Kid Show.

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Keiji Haino

Published November 19, 2009 by Molly

Trying to describe artist/musician Keiji Haino is like trying to hear a dog whistle. It doesn’t work. Our equipment isn’t prepared to handle such a sensation. In lieu of description, check out the video above and the interview (conducted by Alan Cummings) here, plus the excerpt below.

Alan Cummings : I’d like to ask you a bit about your childhood first. What were you like as a child?

Keiji Haino : I was definitely different from everyone else. Looking back now it sort of seems to have been inevitable, but I was different from everyone else. My first memories are from around the time I went to kindergarten. It seems very symbolic now, but I remember that when all the other kids were playing in the sand pit, I’d be playing with building bricks. And when they were all playing with the building bricks, I’d be in the sand pit.

Oh So Pretty

Published November 19, 2009 by Molly

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We’re suckers for letterpress. There’s something about the old-tymey (15th century!) process that lends a sense of craftsmanship to what otherwise would be produced on shimmering machines in sterile conditions. You can feel the handwork involved, even in something as simple as a notebook or thank-you card.

Brooklyn-based outfit Letters Lubell prints their cards on an antique press, and the teeny imperfections that result lend to the charm of the paper goods. We especially like this card, which exists at the unexpected four-way intersection of Tetris, Navajo textiles, Space Invaders and Rorschach blots.

Dazed and Confused

Published November 18, 2009 by Dallas

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The December issue of Dazed and Confused is a Wild Things fashion bonanza. A mash up of all the WTWTA-related looks including an in-depth profile on the line for Opening Ceremony. If that weren’t enough they also catch up with the dynamic duo of Spike and Maurice, pictured below hard at work.
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It’s already on newsstands so grab a copy today.

The Seafarers

Published November 18, 2009 by Graham

The Seafarers is a fun little online series that Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock have been animating together. Elevating simple tales of the sea with deliciously rendered illustration an unexpected humor, The Seafarers is the type of irreverent, bizarre, and yet somehow tender entertainment that kids could use more of these days. I was alerted to the existence of this awesome cartoon by Michelle at Giant Robot, who notes: “Kelly & Ferris are busy new parents and still managing to find the time and energy to develop their work, be in the studio, and strengthen their ties with family, friends and colleagues.” Hey, let’s all be inspired by that example and make even more awesome stuff to share with the world! Yeah!

Dead of the Living Night

Published November 17, 2009 by Graham

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Let us conjure memories of watching bizarre horror films on VHS, the rapturous enticement of strolling down the “Horror” section of the video store, and the awe of preteen terror derived from demonic animatronic faces oozing with gore.

In Dead of the Living Night, a show curated by Jonathan Cammisa and Jonah Birns for Philadelphia’s always-rad Space 1026, we’re given a unique opportunity to revisit those dark Hollywood dreams of yore. What they’ve created is an interactive experience of amplified pre-DVD unease, like a Disneyland simulation of the all too recent past. Waxing nostalgic about a generation raised on the fabric of VHS, Cammisa and Birns explain that the project began with “a like-minded fascination-turned-obsession with childhood fantasies and fears; the inability to look away when you now you should, combined with the desire to stay up all night fantasizing about the greatest adventures and abilities only imaginable.”

Original VHS tapes line the walls in the dark, cramped hallway, a single bulb hanging overhead. In the adjoining room an interactive “magic beast” ride allows people the fantasy of flying on the back of a giant, movable creature. You are taken through the clouds into space and then the beyond. Outside, an old television set sits atop a stack of life-sized monster corpses, playing a video where high-speed editing and tongue-in-cheek cuts splice together gore and terror, assaulting you to the point of absurdity.

If you find yourself in the tri-state area before the show closes on November 27th, don’t miss out on Dead of the Living Night. And for extra credit points in VHS Nostalgia 101, check out Fantagraphics‘ beautifully designed ode to video box aesthetics: Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box.

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A Tribute to Sendak From the Archives

Published November 17, 2009 by Molly

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Images via finsbry

An interesting feature in the Guardian UK last year had Jonathan Jones placing Maurice Sendak in the context of classic illustration, pop art and the history of picture books. An excerpt:

The picture book as we know it today – a simple illustrated book for the young – originates in the 18th century and expresses the empirical philosophy of John Locke and other Enlightenment thinkers, who held that what we can see and demonstrate is more real than what we are told. Language is a set of signs that denote the things we see – and in the first alphabet primers and Mother Goose nursery rhyme books, with their woodcut illustrations, you find this common sense world view being translated into books that span the gap between pictures and words, babyhood and literacy.

Maurice Sendak’s art is a rich fabric of references; it is very consciously rooted in these early children’s books, and the tradition of Hogarth and Blake.

Wild Things on Etsy

Published November 16, 2009 by Graham

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Craft marketplace Etsy boasts a surplus of awesome handmade doodads dedicated to Where the Wild Things Are, and here are a couple of our favorites. User Roadkill’s immaculate silver pendants of Max and Carol are only one inch tall but the detailing is impressive. You can even see Carol’s shiny sharpened teeth and the tiny buttons on Max’s wolf-suit!

If you crave a more hands-on approach for your DIY Wild Things homage, check out CraftyisCool’s brilliant crotchet pattern for the same lovable pair of Maurice Sendak characters. Complete with removable crown and wolf suit hood! Adorable, but perhaps not for the novice knitter.

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The Believer Art Issue

Published November 16, 2009 by Molly

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Getting the new Believer each month supplies the exact excitement of ripping open a freshly-developed pack of film. It is always surprising and there are always good things (and new things) waiting inside.

The November/December issue (the magazine’s sixty-seventh) is the annual Art Issue, featuring interviews with Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Peter Blegvad and Andrea Zittel plus a conversation betwixt Jerry Moriarty and Chris Ware. Comics and an essay on “The Disappearance of Ford Beckman” round out the table of contents. Bonus: a giant fold-out poster by Moriarty comes free with every issue.

Though the magazine normally feels like a throwback luxury—that thick paper! those brilliant colors! that cartoony typeface!—is, in this case, more like a collectible than just another issue. Sure, parts are available online to whet your appetite, but this issue is best experienced in person.