Thursday, November 12, 2009


I thought I'd put up a couple of the wigs and hands (above) that I scored at Halloween time. This rubber giant's hand is a thing of beauty. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Expect a story about a giant soon. I've gotta give this baby a test run!

And here's (above) the new Moe wig! What do you think?

It's (above) really versatile. Tilt it forward a bit and you get the emo look.

No, wait a minute. Emos (above) comb their hair over to one side! Here I'm a bright and happy side-combed emo.

Here (above) I'm a sad, dimwitted one.

Roll the wig back a bit, and you get Spock from Star Trek!

SPOCK: "Klingons on the starboard bow, Captain!"

Roll the wig forward and I'm Bones, the Enterprise's tempramental doctor:

BONES: "I'm a DOCTOR Jim, and I'm not going to have my sickbay turned into an amusement park!"

Spock again (above):

SPOCK: "It's LIFE Jim, but not as we know it!"

Let me turn on the color (above), so you can see what my new Esmeralda puppet looks like in blue.

I know what you're thinking: "Where's her arms?"

Here's one (above)!

And here's another (above). She appears to be shocked at something.

Boy, I love Halloween!

Monday, November 09, 2009


I think Playboy already did a "Girls of McDonald's" spread. Bah! Let them have McDonald's! Everybody knows the real babes hang out at Carl's Junior!

I grant you, McDonald's (above) has the best fries.

But Carl's gets the best people (above). More artsy types hang out at Carl's than any other fast food chain, at least in my area.

Here's (above) one of Carl's artsy customers relaxing at home. Orange dress, orange throw pillows, and orange walls...that takes a certain boldness...

...a boldness no doubt inspired by the orange food at Carl's.

I admit that all those burgers can put on the pounds (above) if you're not careful.

Interestingly, some people manage to stay slim no matter how much they eat. I used to be one of them.

Here's (above) another slim customer. Holy Mackerel! This girl is perfectly dressed for the Royal Order of the Muskrat Ladies Auxiliary. Theory Corner women, take note!

Carl's does seem to get a lot of worldly women (above). The young innocents seem to prefer Denny's.

The restaurant also gets a certain number of people who are utensil-challenged.

Some women bring their evil boyfriends (above).

Some women (above) bring their cell phones, which is much worse. I've learned from eavesdropping on loud cell phone calls that lots of Carl's women complain to other women about their controlling mothers.

P.S. Thanks to John for the nifty title!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Character arcs are overused today, and I blame that excess on all the how-to-write books that are on the shelves nowadays. Most of the books take a simple, boring premise and shamelessly try to pump it up by character arcs.

I don't know how the people who write these books sleep at night. They've ruined a whole generation of writers by convincing them that story is less important than character embellishments. They obscure the simple fact that writing is about story. The story can and should have character conflict (like "The Odd Couple") can even be about character arcs (like "Twelve Angry Men")...but there's gotta be a story, and it's gotta be a really good one. You have to watch out because obsessing over character arcs can distract you from the fact that your basic story sucks.

Well, I've said all that in previous posts. What I want to talk about here is how misapplied character arcs can subvert a story that already works. "Little Red Riding Hood," for example. The original story...which has no character arcs at wonderful. It's evocative and magical, and manages to dig deep into the human psyche. Not only that, it's told with great economy. Would that story be improved by adding character arcs? Let's outline a rewrite and see....

Since we're rewriting for character arcs, it'll be necessary to firm up Riding Hood's personality at the outset, so the reader'll be able to understand how she evolves during the course of the story. For that, we'll need a sequence to establish her carelessness, and show how this worries her parents. Maybe we add a few farm animals and see how vexed they are when Riding Hood neglects to feed them.

Of course we want people to like Riding Hood in spite of her flaw so we'll need some incident to set that up, too. We can forget the economy that characterized the original...our story will take a while to get off the ground.

When her mother finally gets around to sending her to Grandma's house and orders her to not to talk to strangers, we'll need to see Riding Hood's disdain for what she thinks is her mother's paranoia. Remember that we want the reader to like Riding Hood, so that disdain will have to be carefully expressed. We'll see the worried look on the mother's face as Riding hood disappears into the forest. To tie up the father's role, maybe he joins the mother and puts a comforting arm around her shoulders.

Since the arc is so important we'll need Riding hood to mutter to herself in a disgruntled fashion while walking through the forest. Maybe we should give her a pet dog so she'll have someone to voice her thoughts to. Of course we'll need to establish their relationship. We'll also need some time to establish the dog's personality, and what it thinks of what Red is saying. And...oh, yes...we may need to get rid of the dog later so we should also take time to establish that it likes to chase squirrels, and is prone to get lost in the forest.

Aaaargh! All these arc helpers are going to need time to play out. That's okay, we can buy time by eliminating details that added texture to the original story, like the "What big eyes you have" litany at the end. Character arcs are voracious eaters of time. You end up cutting the guts out of a good story just to shoehorn all the arcs and extra characters in.

Well, that's all I have space for here. You can tell from what's here already that the arcs drastically slowed down the story, gave too much attention to minor characters, trivialized atmospheric elements, and drained the story of the deep psychological/archetypal resonances of the original.

I love the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Her walk to Grandma's house is the most famous walk in Western fiction. What a pity that it can be rendered so banal by modern storytelling technique.

Good writers know they're home free when what they've written is so primal that it lends itself to satire, as in the Tex Avery remake of Little Red Riding Hood shown above. Think about the woman on the ice flow in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," or the orphan who asks for more gruel in "Oliver Twist." These are tragic figures but you can't deny that they inspire humor. Can you say the same about the arc rewrite we just did?

Would the rewritten, formula version inspire countless puppet shows, as the Brothers Grimm version did?

Could you get a Betty Boop cartoon out of it?

Would it inspire funny drawings like the one (above)?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Here's more from Retroatelier, my favorite portrait photography studio (link on the sidebar). They publicize their work using pictures of models in retro settings, then offer to do similar types of photos for paying customers. They're so well-known in the Ukraine that they occasionally pack up their props and do road tours.

Believe it or not, this (above) is a recent picture.

I could see a woman getting a nude portrait if it was done as well as this (above).

Men (above) photograph particularly well when they act in front of the camera.

Hollywood-style glamour photography!

A Marlena Dietrich pose above).

This (above) could have been taken by Man Ray.

A Symbolist picture (above)! I can't believe the length these guys will go to to get an effect.

This (above) is their most versatile model. She does sci-fi, Art Nouveau, gritty 30s realism, and 50s pin-up, all with equal conviction.

So far as I can tell, a good portrait (like the one above) requires at least two sittings. The first time a lot of experiments are made. It's important to do a lot of quick and dirty pictures to find out what the camera will accept from the subject.

Here the camera has decided to accept "mean." The subject might have been the nicest person in the world, but the camera decided she was mean, and that's how the picture was taken.

Very nice (above)!

What a great idea! This (above) is portrait photography disguised as journalism. The newspaper print is fake.

A portrait (above) that suggests good times had in France in the 1930s.

Above, an imaginative way to take the portrait of a man (above) who flatters himself as being analytical.

Man, these guys are great!