Really? only one third of Americans know this?

Shame on America, you got the President you wanted, but you know nothing about him at all. How can only a third of America know that Obama is a Christian? Did they not go through the Jeremiah Wright incident, or were they just mesmerized by that spectacle on Tv? Quite frankly, America doesn’t deserve Obama, in 10 years we’ll look back and be thankful for all of the things he did for this country, but he won’t get any credit while he’s sitting in the White House.

Believe me, I wish he were more progressive, and some of his NSA decisions have been almost as bad as Bush’s. But he’s almost exactly who he said he was when he was campaigning.

Frank Frazetta Died

Frank Frazetta died two days ago,  I’ve been going through some of my old sketch books from my art school days, and I remember how amazing an artist he was, and what a huge influence he was on me, growing up.

I think all “superhero” artists knew Frazetta’s work, probably his cover illustrations for pulp science fiction and fantasy works. I think I even bought a Conan softback JUST for the cover when I was younger. I had (and probably still have, in my basement somewhere, his poster for the animated movie “Fire and Ice” by Ralph Bakshi.

I wonder how many fans knew his early work was not just for the pulps or magazine covers, but he also did Romance, Cowboy, Science Fiction and even Funny Animal comics (he went under the name “Fritz” in those). I always think that he was a master in the true sense of the word, classically trained, but took off with the training with kick-ass talent and attitude.

I’ll try to find examples, but his pen-work was some of the best in the industry, he could do brush-work like a Japanese master, and emote gesture and attitude with a few simple lines. He executed the most amazingly detailed illustrations keeping the same gestural freshness as a one line brush stroke as well. (This post seriously needs examples, I’ve got to re-visit this with some of his work)

Frazetta lost NONE of that power or sex appeal when he worked up to a finished drawing or full oil painting, unlike the second-rate hack “BORIS” (Boris  Vallejo – that stinker could paint, but he didn’t have the confidence to be able to do it from his head and relied WAY too much on photographic reference.)

We’ve lost one of the giants in the industry, there will be pretenders to the throne, but NEVER anyone who will be as great as Frank Frazetta in the genre.

Here’s a link to the NY Times’ article on his passing:

It isn’t about literacy, stupid.

My post yesterday about literacy tests for voter registration reminded me of how the republicans managed to convince  people a great organization like ACORN was a corrupt, pro-big-government, money-grubbing, fraudulent, anti-American, pinko, socialist, hippy-funded, anti-white, Muslim group out to buy the American election with persistent focus on a group of ground-level knuckle-heads and ignoring the record they had trying to get legitimate voters to the polls.

There will always be those who don’t say what they actually mean, (“I just don’t want black people to vote” would be honest at least) like a lot of these so-called mainstream pundits who latched onto every ACORN story as if it were the devil himself. Give Glenn Beck the Big Cojones Award for not hiding his race-baiting very well, he’s somehow managed to make racism in style again with mainstream America, how can normal people actually think he’s not talking about race when he attacks ACORN? When did Voter Registration equate to ELECTION TAMPERING? (hmmm, let me see, after the Emancipation Proclamation, when all of a sudden white people North AND South weren’t so concerned about equal democracy for all, afterall.)

In case you’re wondering, some of my best friends are white, I’m really not that angry at white people, really! : )

Tea Party, Shmee Party, Let’s Call a Spade a Spade

I don’t read/get to watch enough Rachel Maddow.  Here’s an interesting bit from Mediaite:  Enraged, Maddow Explains ‘Racist History’ Tea Party Is Embracing. I’m sure a lot of people would think it’s perfectly reasonable to make sure the electorate is “smart enough” to make informed decisions, but the history of voter registration and arcane registration requirements in the country have a funny way of excluding certain types of people. (And let’s put it this way, they weren’t illiterate or homeless, they were often just hard-working people of a certain color and socio-economic background.)

The article had a great link to a short primer on the history of US Voter “Literacy” tests in the South.

Qi People 3

Here’s another batch of the sketches I had from Qi, been procrastinating over this for too long.


This was Mark (above), and also below. They’re quite different because I always thought Mark had a really interesting head and face shape and I wanted to make that as geometric as possible and take it as far out of realism as possible. The drawing above is more “heroic” and the one below is more “goofy”.


Below is Dan (?). He was Amy’s direct supervisor in Altum and came to a few meetings with us and Biologic


Below are pix of Ruby, or at least Ruby’s hair in one case. The hair stayed in one place long enough to draw it, that one time and I should have tried to make it more finished even if it was just a sketch. P.S. Ruby – sorry! I know you don’t like the picture below, but I don’t think it’s that bad or unflattering.



Ah, the joys of long meetings…

Qi People 2

Here’s another series of sketches I did at CommonHealth’s Qi Interactive division. Most of these were done during Monday all-hands PM-priority meetings with the lead developers or Art Directors, QA also had representatives at those meetings.

Below is a sketch of Shusheel, one of the QA engineers, asleep at a priority meeting. His direct supervisor Sam always got a kick out of this sketch, it always made his day:


It’s not always easy to draw some people, Stacey below should have been really easy, but I could never get her right, I think this was the closest I ever got:


Below is the first of a few sketches I did of Esther, another PM:


…and this the last sketch I did of her, I think that’s my best of her, a good likeness:


Qi People: 1

I’ve been working contract for about 2 months now for a pharma agency in New Jersey, CommonHealth. It feels a like I’ve been here for a lot longer. There are LOTS of meetings, and if they’re large enough, perfect opportunities to sketch your colleagues. Here are a few:

Chris Cullmann

Chris Cullman, profile

Nelson Figueroa

Let the Right One In

A note from the reviewer: OK, I really liked this movie, enough to want to write about it. It’s only after I began writing it in fits and starts that I realized what a difficult thing a review is to do! So my hats off to all those people that write for a living, it’s a tough job! I started this review a while ago, and so many weeks have passed since I saw the movie now, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to finish it properly, my memory for arcane movie trivia is slowly slipping away. Oh well, first time for everything…

Let The Right One In” was a great movie we saw the other day. There’s enough on the internet about it now: essentially the protagonist Oskar is a lonely Swedish boy in the 1980s who is befriended by a mysterious neighbor, a light-fearing 12 year old girl, Eli,  who moves in next door. I knew nothing about this movie before we watched it, Sophia heard good reviews about it and put it on our Netflix queue.

Spoiler alert: if you have heard nothing about this movie, except maybe the title, I’d suggest you don’t read on – I loved the way this movie opened up for me, even though it was clear what Eli was some sort of monster very early on.

This is foreign language (Swedish) movie, so if you can’t watch a movie with subtitles, this movie isn’t for you. For some this may be a bit slow paced, and it is a little at the beginning, there is no American style gore-fest to titillate, in fact the first “kill” of the movie is absolutely creepy in that it’s so methodical and slow paced, and done with a total lack of emotion or empathy for the victim, (although the victim does seem to not suffer a painful death.) Eli’s human companion, an older man who appears to be her father or uncle is shown earlier very matter of factly packing what appear to be mechanical or supplies, but which is actually his murdering and blood-letting kit.

In this early scene, the companion is interrupted by a couple and their dog, and so fails to bring home sustenance for his charge. He is chastised by an angry Eli who shouts “Must I do everything myself!” I’m not sure if the director means for us to not know that this is Eli shouting, he only shows the back of her head in many of these early scenes, and there really aren’t that many scenes where we see her being angry at anyone. Ferocious and insatiable, yes, angry, no. It seems to me, the reason we never see her face in that emotion, is because we’re meant to sympathize with her when she befriends Oskar, the other protagonist of the movie, a young 10 year old boy that is just as lonely and out of place in the world as she is.

The movie plays on the idea of the weak and powerful, on isolation and violence, on hidden emotions and battle scars that are not visible.

This was not an action-heavy American production, but was pretty gruesome and violent, non-the-less. There are moments of pure thrill and horror when Eli’s companion is interrupted in an attempt to capture a school boy and drain his blood, and must use acid to disfigure himself so that they cannot identify him as Eli’s companion.

It’s a little ambiguous whether this act is done out of love or fear of Eli. She finds out from the news that he is captured and held at a nearby hospital, and goes to look for him. This slight, pale, and bare-footed girl comes in from the cold Swedish night and asks the nurse at the reception desk where her “father” is being kept; and leaves once she has the information. There is a moment of anticipated horror when the nurse runs out to find the little girl, and I expected another grisly murder. Instead, the nurse stands outside, scanning the night for Eli, with the hospital behind her, and we see a scuttling figure climbing quickly up the side of the several-storey high building; Eli is going to pay “her father” a visit.

When at last they see each other, the old man offers himself up as a last meal to her, because he knows he is doomed, and this will sustain her. The moment is quite frightening, unlike the old Hollywood movies where the handsome vampire seduces the voluptuous, young maiden; in this scene, it is an acid-deformed old man willingly offering himself up to what amounts to little more than a ravenous animal in the form of Eli. (And there is no pretense in this movie that drinking blood is a clean affair which is neatly accomplished by two snake-like fangs – in this version, Eli does have to quite viciously rip open her victims’ flesh so that the blood vessels will pour out their life-giving fluid.

to be continued…

the reviewer comes back to finish the review…

So I’ll just end by saying there are some really great scenes in this movie, and for me, I always thought that Oskar would be Eli’s next human companion. It was so obvious once her older companion died that he was the most obvious sympathetic choice. I don’t think Eli set out to make Oskar her companion, at the beginning of the movie she said she couldn’t be friends with him. Although, in order to survive, perhaps that’s been her M.O. all along, befriend a sexually immature youngster who is weak, but will do her bidding… I guess we’ll never know unless they do a prequel (Please please please DON’T make a prequel). Let the audience fill in the gaps. There’s a lovely sense of ambiguity that independent or European films have, that American blockbusters are always afraid to touch, you’re really asked to take sides or form an opinion on your own about what it all means… (and then the studios go and make “Doubt” and make that argument toothless)

Of course sometimes this ambiguity can also lead to what Sophia and I call “¿por qué es por qué?” movies – you know – one of those Arty Farty Avante Garde movies that don’t say ANYTHING for 2 hours but you try to hold out for something at the end where there’s a great payoff, but there rarely is.

Overall, the movie is just lovely, the characters are so mellow and “Swedish” even the school bullies. Make no mistake though, this is a horror movie, it has flashes of pure horror, surprise, disgust, sympathy, teen angst, humor and innocence, the only equivalent that comes to mind in recent years is the Canadian Werewolf take-off “Ginger Snaps

Spoiler: The pool scene at the end of the movie — sure to be a CLASSIC.

… and out… and back in… Ah, the joys of freelancing!

So the gig I had with Rapp Collins (The Collaboratory) didn’t last the expected 2-3 months.

I shan’t say what happened, that wouldn’t be too professional; but I can say with all honesty that it was just a matter of bad luck for me. My “boss” Lindsay was super about it, the short duration of my stint was something beyond her control as well. In the short time I was there, I met some really great, smart people, and I just wish circumstances were different it was a terrific project, and *I* would have learnt a lot there. It was a  business decision which had to be made, so even though I was upset for myself, I totally understood why there really was no choice for the company.

I really should have updated this blog when I ended that contract, but I was back to the job boards and combing through my recruiter contacts immediately to find the next opportunity. I heard from one of my recruiters that there was not that much Project Management work out there – and what there was was mostly contract work.

Here’s the general idea about what’s happening in our market, and why it’s so hard for a freelancer to feel comforted and confident about finding good (or sometimes, *any*) work:

  • Advertisers are still skittish about putting money into marketing dollars with consumer confidence so low
  • Agencies are also in cost cutting mode, so they work with minimal staffing
  • If an Agency makes a bid on an RFP, they need to show the Advertisers they can do the same job for less than their competitors
  • The Agency bid is budgeted with the appropriate resources at “market” prices
  • Sales has to figure out where the budget can be trimmed, while Production needs resources from the market
  • Freelancers/contractors are called in to interview for the *possible* positions needed to be filled
  • Agencies get “pick of the litter” for exceptionally talented professionals right now, there are so many of us competing for the same jobs
  • Of the qualified candidates, we’re asked how low we can go with our rate, and they really push LOW
  • The Agency bid is recalculated with the new figures and sent to the Prospective Client
  • The Advertiser can go one of several ways:
  1. Decide to delay the project altogether
  2. Decide to cancel the marketing initiative altogether
  3. Decide to change the RFP if all the bids are too high
  4. Decide to go with another vendor
  5. Decide to go with the Agency the Freelancer interviewed for
  • So *at last* after weeks or months since the original interview with the agency, the Freelancers on the short list are asked if they are free to begin work…

So, I’ve been asked to come in to start a project with a pharma ad agency in Parsippany. I interviewed with them a couple of months ago and thought that was a dead lead. Funny how that happens. Ah the joys of freelancing!

Hope everyone is able to find work, or keep the job they already have. These are really tough times.

Rant over and out.