Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Last night I had dinner at Steve's and the conversation turned to beautiful women we'd seen at restaurants. It happened that two seasoned girl watchers were in attendance, and they generously agreed to share their knowledge with the table.

What follows is an explanation of the code they use to discreetly communicate with each other when a beautiful woman enters the room. Sorry the doodles are hard to read: they were done with a fine point Bic pen.  Maybe enlarging them will help.

BTW: Sorry the drawings got so sloppy. I rushed them so I could get some sleep. 

Also BTW: Many thanks to the men who shared their secret code with us. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


I'm sorry!!!!!!!!!! I should have a new post up now, and I'm too tired to type. I'll post tomorrow (Monday) around lunch time.

Friday, February 24, 2012


 By the time you read this it's probably too late.  You may as well shoot yourself because you already missed your chance to buy the most important comic art book of the decade: "Wally Wood's EC Stories: Artist's Edition." 

The artwork above isn't in the book, I just led with that because it's the best sample I could find of an original Wood page. That's what the book is: full size scans of Wood's original EC stories; the sci-fi stories, not the parodies he did for Mad. I swiped this scan from Pappy's excellent comics site: "Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine."

Here's (above) the book cover. Geez, nobody did outer space like Wood! I found out about it from Viagri artist Milt Gray who jumped on it as soon as he discovered it. It arrived in the book stores on Wednesday and sold out immediately. Rumor has it that no further editions will be forthcoming. We may never see its like again. 

Here (above) it is. It's huge. The pages are the same size as the original artwork, and they're all in color.  What it is, is scans of the original art as it exists today. There was no attempt (Thank God!) to clean it up. The zip tone and chemical toner has turned brown, but that won't bother fans a bit. I'm told that you can see all the error corrections and scratch-offs. 

The price is $150.00, which is dirt cheap considering the quality of reproduction. It's already selling for more on e-bay.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


This post was inspired by the pictures in a miscellaneous file that I keep adding to. Just for the heck of it, I think I'll free associate on some of them and see if anything useful comes of it. Don't expect anything practical. Free associating means you jot down the first thing that comes to your mind, practical or no.

Okay, the two pictures above for example.....I like low, slanted, beam roofs. I'll bet everybody does. So why don't we see more of them?

This (above) would be an almost ideal work place for somebody like me. I'm impulsive so I could use lots of table space with different projects going on at different locations around the room.  It would be nice to have my books handy, too. I'd probably arrange for awnings to regulate the sunlight.

I like to see touches of bas relief sculpture (above) on homes and offices.  Modern materials and casting techniques make this cheaper and easier to do than it's ever been.

Here (above) stairs are shunned in favor of a steep, carpeted, curving ramp. That's kinda neat. Maybe ramps and stairs should be side by side.

What the heck is going on in the background of this picture (above)? It looks like a conference table is sitting on a pile of dirt. Whatever it is, it makes me wonder if it a large living room might contain a section of small, carpeted hills and valleys.

I continue to believe in using the Disneyland Express (above) as a model for real urban transportation.

Maybe moderately tall buildings (above) should be designed to be scalable by the public on one side. 

I've always liked the idea of letting kids (above) drive kid-size cars. I can think of a bunch of reasons why that wouldn't work, but we're free associating, remember? What if there were special roads just for kid cars? What if the only kids who could drive on them were mechanically-inclined kids who built or maintained their own funky cars? That's one way to nudge kids into engineering careers.

We need to figure out how to reward kids for being smart or handy with their hands. We need to make the idea of being skilled look like fun.

 Should we train animals to drive cars? No, that's silly.

We should ask the skilled engineers what they think should be done to encourage kids to go into technical careers. We should take what they say seriously.

I wish private philanthropy would pay more attention to rewarding talented kids. Why not make a sail boat and crew available for the members of kid science, engineering and agricultural clubs? It doesn't have to be as big and impressive as the ship in the photo above. Bill Gates, are you reading this?

Believe it or not, an awful lot of homes sit on ground that used to be a pond or a small lake. A 24-hour a day pump under each building keeps the land so dry that lots of people who live in the area don't realize how potentially wet the place is. Maybe we should allow some of those ponds to reassert themselves. If the soil has a lot of clay to retain the water, and the water could be kept moving (to keep mosquitoes out) we might get a first class pond. Maybe we could stock it with fish.

Aaaargh! Everything here is probably impractical. Well, like I said, we're free associating.

Monday, February 20, 2012


That's (above) part of the opening title of the original 1944 version. Behind the letters the shadow of a mysterious crippled man walks slowly, inexorably toward the camera. We never see his face. Who is he? Why is he crippled?  The music whips us into a frenzy of excitement. Just who is this man?

After the titles we fade to the city at night and a car careens recklessly through the streets. Other cars screech to a halt to avoid hitting it.

The car pulls up to the entrance of an office building. A mysterious figure with his back to camera...a new figure, not the man with crutches...gets out and lumbers up to the locked door. It's noir...everything is in shadow.

The stranger's knocking summons the night watchman, who recognizes him and takes him up to his floor in an elevator. The watchman tries to make idle small talk but the stranger, still with his back to camera, deflects it.

Okay, let's see how the 1973 remake (above) handles the same opening. This time there's no careening car, no shots of the city at night. An unidentified man makes his way to the door of an office building at night. I hesitate to call him a mystery man because we see his face the whole time.

So, where are the shadows? Granted, it's a TV movie and they probably had to shoot the cheapest way, but noir IS cheap to shoot. Some scenes in the original noirs were shot with a single light source. I guess the producer just didn't care enough.

Generic titles appear over the man as he walks into the lobby. Without shadows the lobby's architecture is revealed. It's that bright, optimistic style that was so popular in that period...something totally at odds with the dramatic nature of the story.

The watchman (above) doesn't walk over to the door. He just sits there and watches the stranger sign in. People in this film do a lot of sitting.

Back to the old black and white film: the stranger gets off the elevator and looks down into a sort of courtyard that contains empty desks where clerks work during the day. Your first impression is that he's looking down into hell.

 Now we see the stranger's face for the first time. It's on a long upshot. He hobbles along the upper floor like a rat skulking in the rafters.

We watch as he painstakingly lets himself into his barely-lit office, and with great effort  sits down. From the way he moves it's evident that he's been shot. The downshot tells us that this is a man who has the attention of the gods. They're watching him, waiting to see what happens.

 He turns on his dictaphone and begins to dictate his confession. We learn that he's an insurance salesman who helped a woman kill her husband for the insurance money. Now he's been shot and has only a short time to live.

Notice the dim light. With only minutes to live, he himself is an insubtantial shadow at the threshold of the nether world. We're watching a soul painfully pass out of this life into the great unknown.

Back to the seventies version: we fade out from the stranger standing in front of an elevator in the lobby, to him walking around his desk and painfully sitting down. The lighting is typical TV lighting. No nether world, just brown light, if there is such a thing.

Aaaaargh! That's all I have time for. Which version do you prefer?

Sunday, February 19, 2012


When I buy valentines I usually go for the funny, well-drawn ones, and if they disappoint then I change course and choose the most elaborate, sentimental, over-the-top card that I can find. That's because Valentines Day is devoted to love which, let's face it, is an extreme emotion. If it were Friendship Day I'd skip the card and buy my friend a beer, but it's not...it's freaking drastic Valentines Day.

The problem with elaborate cards is that they're pricey. Up til recently the Germans made the best ones. They were die-cut and embossed, and must have been a pain in the neck to make.

Some of them (above) were even hand-painted.

Valentine cards got ridiculously ornate. A lot of them looked like lace. They were die-cut on a type of high-quality cardboard that only greeting card people know about. I can only imagine what the factory that made them looked like. They must have had a huge reject pile of cards that got torn in the machine, and a workforce with many fingers missing.

For buyers who couldn't afford the lacey die cuts, there were nice, straight forward cards like the one above.

Those are fine, but I prefer...what should I call them... fantasy cards. Those are cards that attempt to abstract the notion of love, and portray it with symbols. Like the card on the left, above. A cupid stands on a balcony made of astroturf wedged into circular vines of pure love energy. Under the cupid a turkey-sized dove lands on a home-made twig fence nested in clover and grass and a peasant girl holds up a potted plant, which I'm guessing is a fertility symbol.     

The more fanciful, the better, I reason. Here's (above) a big fold-out card showing a little boy cavorting around what appears to be a temple or a gazebo containing a giant heart. The flowers around him are immense and he requires an umbrella because...because what? Maybe to fend off giant bees or raindrops, it's hard to tell. A big, blood red rock blocks his way, but why put a rock there? Is he crossing a stream?

If a little girl were chasing the boy, maybe to kiss him, then the picture would tell a story and make more sense, but I think I like the card better the way it is. It's a dream-like impression of love. It shouldn't have to make sense.

Here (above) a little boy pulls up to his girlfriend's house in a flower filled wagon pulled by giant doves. She's invited to join him on a trip that would lose its appeal if it were spelled out. The best romantic artwork and poetry is always a bit vague.

Here (above) a cupid pulls up in a 1920s motor car filled with flowers. The house he stops at is also packed with flowers and garlands and the inhabitants run out to see the beautiful car.  

This carriage (above) doesn't carry you to a gazebo, it contains a gazebo of its own.

Maybe these (above) are unrelated valentines that were brought together for the sake of the photograph, but I like to think they were all meant to be part of the same diorama. Another guy has given your girl a valentine showing a nice car festooned with flowers and cupids. How do you beat that? Why, with a locomotive of course! In fact, how about two locomotives?  The cupid chauffeur drives the dual Super Chiefs up to her door to pick her up. If that doesn't impress her, nothing will!

Here (above), I believe, the car and the house are part of the same card. It doesn't have the impact of dual locomotives, but the house makes up for it. This is a fitting destination for a lovemobile ride: a mansion full of servants and friends who are delighted to see you, and  who will whisk you and your lover away to flower-filled rooms. 

Ornate mass-market valentines effectively came to an end in the 1960s. I guess they just weren't perceived as cool. Too bad, because a new and interesting style of card was just beginning to surface: the architectural card where each card is a separate love building in a whole love town.