Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Is this a good time to buy a new car? I wonder. It looks like a new generation of fuel efficient and cheap cars is only 3 or 4 years around the corner. Maybe they're worth waiting for. 

European "Smart Cars", which get 40 miles to the gallon, are being sold here now. That's an electric model above. Sorry, no specs. 

Consumer Reports tested The Smart Car last year and panned it. They said it was noisy, hard to handle, infuriatingly slow to accelerate,  and expensive. They said it didn't live up to the hype.

The car is made by Mercedes-Benz, and sells for a premium price relative to its size.  Consumer Reports says it appears to be both well-made and shoddy, depending on which element has your attention.

The car is so small that you can park it like this (above) and not stick out in traffic too much.

How do you like these vertical European Smart Car dealerships? Just when I had these cars on my mind someone on the radio said that the most fuel efficient line of cars on the American road is made by General Motors. Is that true?

Here's the Tata Nano which will sell in India for $1500 or $2500, depending on which article you read. Tata is thinking about selling the car in South America and Africa for $4,000, and maybe Europe for $5,000. That won't be any time soon. Right now the company can't keep up with demand in India. They have to have a lottery to determine who'll be allowed to buy them.

The Nano (above) has an upper limit of 65 mph.

India's other cheap car (above), still more pricey than the Nano, is the Maruti 800. Newer versions have more and more luxury features, so maybe they intend to leave the lowest price field to the Nano. The Chinese QQ3Y Chery is supposed to be cheap but I couldn't find out anything about it. 

Wait til you see, other cars will come along to compete with the cars I just described. There seems to be no limit to how small a car can be made.

Maybe we'll see single driver 3-wheeled cars. Three wheels qualifies the car as a motorcycle in California, and that means they can be made cheaper and have to meet fewer standards than 4 wheeled cars. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009


At Last! A pencil test program that's cheap and easy to use, and has most of the features that animators look for. At least I think it does...I only just found out about it, and haven't actually tried it. 

I've been waiting for something like this for years! The Windows version shown above is the latest one, 6.0. Mac users will have to settle for 5.0 but I understand an upgrade is in the works. Anyway, if you're not already familiar with this program, go to the Digicel Flipbook site and check it out. Be sure to watch the video that's shown above. 

They also sell animation lessons. They're pricey but when you think about what a semester in art school costs, these prices seem like a downright bargain. 

The site links to animator Jason Ryan's site and he put up a free sample of his animation tutorials using this program. It was pretty impressive.


Lite is the basic pencil test program. There are no levels, so you can't put bodies on one level and legs on the other, but the price is right and it's enough to learn the basics on your own at home. I'm assuming that the Lite version still has the exposure sheet on the side bar. 

For artists who want to animate on paper and scan everything in, the autoscan plug-in (above) sounds like a Godsend. If you had a scanner of the right size with an automatic paper feed, you wouldn't have to worry about registering the peg holes, the program would do it for you. 

I thought I'd mention another inexpensive animation program (above): it's called the "Paperless Animation Program (PAP)." There's also an anime animation program, but I know even less about that then the ones I've already mentioned.

Animation programs usually require a Wacom tablet, which if bought new costs $70 or $80 for the small size. Someone told me there's no sense in getting a larger more expensive one if you intend to work on punched paper and scan the drawings in. 

The Bamboo Fun model includes a mouse, but is that really necessary? Does their mouse do something the mouse that's already on your computer can't do? The Cintique allows you to draw directly on the tablet and the picture appears under the pen, just like it does with paper, but that'll set you back $1,000. It depends how you're fixed for dough.

Thanks to Mark Kausler and Michelle Klein-Haas for some of the info here!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Surely one of the most influential of all American artists was Russian emigre Alexey Brodovitch, the art director of Harper's Bazaar magazine from 1934 to 1958. It's hard to exagerrate what he did during those years. He transformed an ordinary womens magazine into an avante-garde art magazine that managed to sell clothes at the same time it was transforming the country's way of seeing the world.

Actually Harper's is still out there on the stands, but as you can see (above) it's a pale shadow of what it once was. 

I'm amazed that Brodovitch managed to sell so many middle-class women on something as weird as surrealism. 

I'd be amazed if the art magazines of the day offered the same value for the artsy dollar as Harper's and its imitators (above). 

Some of the best photographers of the day worked for Brodovitsch: Brassai, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, just to name a few. 

You could have framed the covers. 

In case you don't recognize the name Richard Avedon, that's his work above. The leaping girl holding the umbrella at the end off this piece was Avedon's too. Harper's was full of pictures like these and only cost 45 cents in 1947.

Can you believe this (above) was on the cover of a mainstream magazine? Women were reading this stuff when their husbands were reading "Field & Stream."

High fashion magazines were criticized for their use of cold, souless models. No doubt that harmed the women who were dumb enough to try to imitate that cold model lifestyle in real life, but what about all the other women? For them these magazines increased their awareness of art, of all things graphic, of style and sophistication.

A number of old covers like the one above and the Vogue cover higher up, contained... I don't know what else to call it...an element of evil.  The women on the covers look like they're staring out at the reader from a room in Hell. It's weird. I can't figure out what that means.

I wonder if Brodovitch and Harper's were unwitting catalysts of the feminist movement. Women who read these magazines over a period of years must have developed a more artsy attitude about life than their husbands, and that was bound to cause a disconnect somewhere down the line. Even today you see more women in art museums than men.  

Mens magazines like Playboy tried to catch up by wedding naked pictures to essays and sophisticated stories, but that effort, admirable and flamboyant as it was, wasn't exactly comparable to what Harper's achieved. Harper's was actually in the forefront of the art world. For about fifteen years Harper's readers actually got to participate in a real, high-quality, cutting-edge art movement. It must have been exciting! It may have changed a generation of women. 

Playboy was actually the true successor to Harper's, and it succeeded in its turn in influencing a whole generation of men. I don't know of any magazine that does that now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Here's a picture by Hans Namuth called "Armed Farmer." Where does this picture come from? The Spanish Civil War? Argentina? Why is the farmer armed? He doesn't look like he's worried about anything.

Here's one by Fracois Kollar called, "Railway Worker." The guy's head reminds me of a parrot's for some reason, but that doesn't detract from the drama. Click to enlarge. 

Guys with weak chins like myself are full of envy for men with heroic chins like this one (above). If I had a chin like that I'd wear a black body suit and ski mask with just one big hole for the chin and none for anything else. It's by Edward Weston. 

A streamlined head (above) that looks like the owner is facing the wind all the time, even if he isn't. It's another Weston.

Yet another Weston (above). This man just has to be a mad scientist. I can imagine this guy delivering Lugosi's lines from the "Ed Wood" movie, the lines where he threatens humanity with a race of atomic supermen who "...vill conquer da VERLD!"

Last but not least (above), Edward Sherriff Curtis's "Ankara Man." Click to enlarge. Once again we see an Indian portrait where the nose isn't long like the cartoon caricatures. Geronimo had a long nose and, since his portrait was the most reproduced, all Indians were believed to have long noses. I don't think most of them did.

This man is strikingly handsome.  The picture is from 1905, I think.

That's all the pictures I have. While I'm here I thought I'd say a word about "Love Nerds," which I just removed. I asked a few people about it, and they said they didn't post their pictures there because they were too fat, and didn't want anyone to see them that way. Son of a Gun! It seems that this site attracts a lot of fat people who want to pass themselves off as thin...like me! Geez, I should put up Jenny Craig ads and make a couple of bucks!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Hotel Porter (V.O.): "Ladies, ladies! I have an announcement!"

Porter (cont): "The hotel regrets that there will be a delay due to overbooking. I'm afraid that it'll be necessary for members of the two clubs here to share rooms with each other."

Porter (V.O.) (cont): "That means the professional sniffers of "The Nasal Sensitivity Club of America" will have to share rooms with..."

"...'The Black Widows,' also known as 'The American Society of Husband Dispatchers.' "

Porter: "Ladies, we deeply regret the inconvenience! Just wait in the lobby on the first floor, and we'll assign rooms just as fast as we can!"

Meanwhile, up on the top floor...

Mildred: "Beulah, that food we had for lunch is giving me gas. What'll I do?"

Beulah: "Just let her rip! We're on the top floor, so nobody'll know, and I'm going to take a nap, so it won't bother me!"

Mildred: "Well, um...OK...I guess it's alright if it won't bother anybody. Here goes....BRAAAAAAAAAAAAPPP!!!!!

[Down on the first floor] Violet: "Yikes! Ladies, did you smell that!?"

Daisy: "Oh, Man! I certainly did! It's disgusting! It's of human origin, the usual sulphur and rotten egg smell with a hint of dead skunk and maybe a tad...yes, a tad of peppermint."

Magnolia: "W-What? I don't smell anything."

Gladiola: "Oh it's there all right! I smell it too! Definitely peppermints in there...Altoids, I think!"

Marigold: Maybe we should take care of the offender...permanently, I mean. Let The Black Widows handle this.

[On the top floor again] Beulah: "Mildred, I can't get to sleep! I ate the same food you did! Watch out, here it comes....BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPP!!!!!!!!!!

[On the first floor] Tulip: "Oh my Gosh! There it goes again!"

Lavinia: "Don't worry Ladies, I mixed cyanide in some coffee that was sitting here. We'll just find out who let wind and offer the person a friendly cup. End of problem!"

Iris: "You mixed it in my coffee, you twit, and I drank it!"

Petunia: "Well, that's one less sniffer to worry about!"

Iris: " 'One less sniffer!?' I'll show you!' "

Buttercup: "No, I'll show YOU!!!!"

Gladiola: "No, we'll show YOU!!!!"

All the club women get into a frantic shouting match and handbag fight. The hotel lobby is a scene of horrific devastation.

Unwary Hotel Guest: "Um...er, sorry to interrupt, Ladies. I'm lost. Do you know where the 'Centipede Strokers of America' are meeting?"