Christmas posters.

My co-worker Mike got concert tickets for some of this friends this Christmas. Not wanting to give them just tickets, he asked if I would help him make posters for the events to give to them with the tickets. Although they weren't going to the same person, I thought it would be cool if they went together. He supplied the original images. Here are my ideas.


Movie clips.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension

Going My Way (6/10)
No thank you; I'll go this way.

Kramer vs. Kramer (8/10)
I'm going to spoil it for you right now: Kramer wins.

A Generation (6.5/10)
A young Roman Polanski in shorts: bizarre.

Close-Up (8/10)
This movie was meta before the internet was popular.

Downhill Racer (6/10)
Skip this freshman effort and head straight to The Candidate (same director, same leading actor, better film).

Mr. Arkadin (The Comprehensive Version) (5.5/10)
What happened Orson?

Never Let Me Go (7/10)
Beautiful, poignant, touching, unsurprising.

Android (5/10)
I'm going to spoil it for you right now: the android wins.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (4/10)
I can't believe I watched the whole thing.

Enter the Void (6/10)
I can think of at least two things right with that title.

Gran Torino (5/10)
You're kidding me, Clint Eastwood.

Terms of Endearment (5/10)
So…plot not required?

Fred Claus (4.5/10)
I'm going to spoil it for you right now: the audience loses.

Toy Story 3 (7/10)
Enjoyable, but I think they've tapped this one dry.

Moe at the Crystal Ballroom.

I was recently contacted by McMenamin's to make some concert posters. McMenamin's, if you don't know, is a Portland-based chain of brewpubs and theatres. Their first two assignments are for Moe and Galactic, a jam band a New Orleans funk outfit respectively. My first idea for this poster was a fish leaping out of the water, so I started looking around for reference images. One of the images I found was this sweet coloring book drawing of two dinosaurs, and thought fighting dinos might be a sweet poster. I contracted my friend Emily Randazzo to draw it, and she busted out this gem. I traced the line drawing and colored it in based on her recommendations. It's one of my favourite posters I've worked on.


Movie clips.


Bullitt (7.5/10)
Steve McQueen is pretty much the shit.

Welcome to the Dollhouse (7.5/10)
That poor girl.

The Devil's Hand (3/10)
I can think of at least two things wrong with this title.

Caché (7/10)
I appreciate films that are economical in their style, but this almost feels lazy.

Youth in Revolt (6.5/10)
What a surprisingly reprehensible main character.

Fanny & Alexander (6/10)
I don't have time for this.

Slumdog Millionaire (7/10)
Yay, he won! Now I can forget about this film.

The Honeymoon Killers
Not much of a honeymoon, and not much killing.

House (4/10)
What did I just watch?

Fat Girl (6.5/10)
Do French people philosophize in real life as much as they do in the movies?

Starry Saints.

Here's another poster for the Someday Lounge. This one I had to do same day, so I grabbed an illustration that I already had ready-to-go (drawn by the ever-amazing Makenna Lehrer) and played with textures and typography. It incorporates a couple things I'd been wanting to try and just went ahead and did them since I didn't have time to second guess anything. Personally, I think it came out really well, but I'll let you be the judge.

typeface used: Single Sleeve


My 100 Favorite Films. Entry #36: The Omen.

The Omen (1976)
written by David Seltzer
directed by Richard Donner
starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and David Warner
country: usa/uk
genre: horror

Visuals: 9
Writing: 7
Everyday watchability: 5
The number of the beast: 666

This is one of those movies that, like The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness, took me by surprise with how good it was. Horror films often get derided as being base and of low quality, but like any other genre, there are true standouts. The Omen comes before slasher fare like Halloween, and after more psychological fare like The Exorcist and firmly plants itself somewhere in between.

The Omen is a surprisingly straightforward. Richard Donner's camera (via Gilbert Taylor, who also shot Star Wars and Dr. Strangelove) uses some unique techniques, including a dioptic lens, slow motion and the most impressive rack focus I've ever seen. Still, the camera tricks are never trickery. They're just this side of calling attention to themselves but are clever enough to add visual interest.
The movie has an interesting pace, with the scares coming on suddenly in places where you don't expect. Most horror films through in cheap shocks and scares, but The Omen is more patient than that. In one scene, a priest begins his walk home, and a storm quickly begins raging around him. The storm builds to an eerie crescendo, when the priest is suddenly killed by a falling weather vane. And just like that, the storm clears.


Movie clips.

Vicious Lips
Highlander (5/10)
There can be only one, and he must barely be able to open his eyes and one of those eyes must be lazy and he must speak with a bizarre accent.

Frankenhooker (5.5/10)
If I had to recreate my dead fiancé's body about of other people, I'd use hookers too.

Blood Freak (1/10)
A man turns into a giant turkey-monster-thing because he smokes a little weed. But it turns out it was all a dream. Or was it? Yes, it was.

Ginger Snaps (4/10)
The sequel is about a dog that draws. The full title of that film: Ginger Snaps II: Snicker Doodles.

Highlander II (2.5/10)
A sequel with the same actors and characters but a completely different plot and backstory. This blew my mind.

Ultraviolet (1/10)
Not a lick of sense.

The Lonely Guy (7/10)
In the tradition of Steve Martin's other surreal comedies like The Jerk and The Man with Two Brains, this movie has a lot of laughs and a lot of WTFs.

Nine to Five (5/10)
Jane Fonda is adorable.

Grumpy Old Men (7/10)
I was really bummed when I thought that all these hilarious guys are gone.

10 (4.5/10)
What a boring film.

The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made (4/10)
A cheap compendium of bad movies. I've seen six or seven of them, and I've definitely seen worse.

Zombieland (7/10)
Jesse Eisenberg actually managed to not make me sick.

District 9 (7.5/10)
More of a straight-up action film than I expected.

Swamp Thing (3/10)
See it for the gratuitous use of wipe edits alone.

18-Year-Old Virgin (3/10)
Don't worry. It's a teen sex romp. You'll lose your virginity. And it'll be special.

Dead Calm (6.5/10)
The very definition of craftsmanlike filmmaking.

The Princess and the Frog (6.5/10)
Do we really need this many songs?

Vicious Lips (3/10)
Lots of 80s hair and 80s synthrock. That bought it 3/10.

Kiss My Face redesign.

I own a bottle of soap by a company called Kiss My Face. Every day I use this bottle to wash my hands. Almost every time I look at it, I think about how unexcited I am by the label's design. For a while, I've thought about redesigning the bottle (for my own amusement and as an exercise) and today I finally did it. Spurred by boredom, I tried out the ideas that have been floating in my head and out came this. I'll show you more as I continue to work on it.

The original bottle design.


The Simple Line: four pieces by Stéphane Dafflon.

I'm not totally sure what to say here, except that I like this, I like it very much. I'm still impressed my minimalism that works.


Lord's Own Choir at the Buffalo Gap.

There's this awesome band called The Lord's Own Choir full of a bunch of awesome people.  They do country covers of pop songs as well as a few original tunes. They were nice enough to ask me to do a concert poster for them. Originally I had some basic typography and a placeholder drawing of an accordion (see below). My friend Makenna sent me a drawing she did of an accordion and it changed how I looked at the poster. The type stayed the same, but I had fun with color and shape.

If you're in town, check them out at the Buffalo Gap. I didn't make this poster for nothin'.

typeface used: Strangelove Next

The Belle & Sebastian Afterparty.

I assume everyone has been constantly checking my blawg to see if I've added any new content. Well wait no longer loyal followers (and people looking for Japanese graffiti), because I finally have new stuff for you. This is a poster I made on short notice for the Belle & Sebastian afterparty. They wanted Belle & Sebastian to be really big, but other than that the ball was in my court. I messed around with typography (per usual) and came up with everything but the ownl, which was a late addition suggested by Tim John (and our synchronous thoughts on birds). I like the way he's peeking in from jaunty angles. He's not the star of the party; he just wants to know what's up.

typeface used: Neo Retro

Anatomical heart.

My friend Makenna gave me this beautiful drawing of a heart to use in any design I liked and not long later Tim John contacted me about a poster design where all four bands were of equal importance. The two seemed to fit hand-in-hand in my mind; I could make the bands into labels for the anatomical heart. After a lot of fiddling, I made this.

typeface used: Din

Lifeguard towers: four images by Amir Zaki.

These photos by photographer and video artist Amir Zaki. I have to be honest. I'm not a huge fan of his other stuff and I don't think they're presented properly on his webpage—they should be surrounded by solid black, white or grey in my humble opinion—but nevertheless these photos really speak to me. It has that lonely feeling which I apparently love, interesting shades of color and fantastic shapes all over.


Worst party ever.

I went to a housewarming party at my friend Mike's this weekend. He bought some party hats with dog paw prints on them (opting against SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer party hats as he wanted something "non-denominational"). He had the idea of taking a photo of each party attendee wearing a party hat and looking like they're having a terrible time, either crying, bored or depressed.

I took the best photo for each party-goer, adjusted the color and cropping and made this 13x19 poster.  I imagined being for some event that ended up being called the Worst Party Ever, which for some reason needed a commemorative poster.

To see all the photos we took, check out the Flickr set.


Top 200 Songs of the Decade: 10–1.

10. Justice - Genesis
Cross 2007
I'll confess; I first heard this song in a TV commercial for an SUV. Still, the song that instant recognition as being a Justice song, even though I'd only heard one Justice song before in my life (D.A.N.C.E.). This song sounds like a contained explosion; it's the sonic equivalent of dropping a bomb in a trash can…huge, dirty, but somehow improbably tight.

9. Cut Copy - Saturdays
Bright Like Neon Love 2004
This has everything I like about Cut Copy; it's overly happy, sweet and utterly dancable. It has all this without the overproduction of their later work. There's so much space between the sounds here. Don't get me wrong, I love songs that are awash with reverb, but sometimes a pop song needs that snappy sound.

8. Ratatat - Seventeen Years
Ratatat 2004

Some songs are as much about introduction as they are about quality. Whether or not Seventeen Years is Ratatat's best is irrelevant; it ushered in for me a completely new kind of music, one with perfect hooks and pure energy.

7. The Field - Everday
From Here We Go Sublime 2007
I had read about The Field a few times before I took the plunge. Most reviews noted A Paw in My Face and Over the Ice as the standout tracks, but I wonder if listeners didn't get taken in by the new sound of the first two tracks. For me, Everday is the standout, with its swirling beeps and glitchy beats pulsating constantly. These continue for seven minutes becoming a hypnotic brain-melter that you could still play on the dance floor. It's prog meets disco, the true intelligent dance music.

6. The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health
Silent Shout 2006
The song starts with bizarre pulsating sounds before it gloms together into some kind of bizarre bouncing melody. The Knife have a knack for making simply epic songs, songs that in just over four minutes manage to sound all-important and bombastic, and We Share Our Mother's Health is probably the most perfect example of this.

5. LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
Sound of Silver 2006
Starting a with a jaunty piano chord, which remains unchanged, for the songs seven and a half minutes, All My Friends builds slowly, with each new instrument fading in gradually. The lyrics don't come in until 1:22, James Murphy's plaintive vocals telling a story that almost everyone can understand, with themes of longing and loneliness shining clearly through. Despite that, this song gets me completely excited about life; there's an undercurrent of hope running through the song that sits right in-between the constant drum-beat, bouncing piano and synthesizer wails. Feel free to play this song at the dance party that follows my funeral.

4. Wilco - Jesus, Etc.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 2002
It takes a lot for a piece of art—be it a painting, a movie, a TV show, or a song—to make me sad. This song, however, makes the shortlist of items that bring tears to my eyes.

3. Klute - Feroxx
Junk Single 2005
I downloaded this song after really getting into Klute's album No One's Listening Anymore. I was casually listening while doing something else, thinking, "oh this is kind of nice," when at the 1:40 mark, the track takes off with a literal scream and I was beat into submission by the deep bass, tinkling synths and hyper drums.

2. Basement Jaxx - Where's Your Head At?
Rooty 2001

If you imagine the timeline of Basement Jaxx music, starting with Remedy and ending with Crazy Itch Radio (I haven't heard Scars yet), it closely resembles an explosion. Still excellent today, 1999's Red Alert and Rendez-Vu are fairly straightforward club tracks, albeit with more flair. The tracks on 2003's Kish Kash are barely held together, as if the Jaxx had to get out the sonic equivalent of hot glue to keep songs like Good Luck and Right Here's the Spot together. Crazy Itch Radio is seemingly named for its sound, Jaxx had an itch to throw everything on the radio into a pot and it, um, came out crazy.

Rooty from 2001 is the perfect balance between straight-ahead dance music and an explosion of music. Where's Your Head At? feels like it has 50 guest vocalists and Basement Jaxx can barely rein them all in. It's a contained explosion, and one that wouldn't work in the hands of less talented producers. Where's Your Head At? is balanced perfectly between "completely out of control" and "obsessive perfection."

1. The Knife - Heartbeats (single and live version)
Deep Cuts 2003 and Silent Shout: An Audio Visual Experience 2006

The first version of Heartbeats I ever heard was the Jose Gonzalez acoustic version featured in a Sony Bravia commercial. It was a lovely song, and the cover gave no hint of its source material. I did research and found The Knife's Heartbeats, and it instantly blew me away. I wasn't expecting anything like this; I wasn't even expecting this genre. After the initial shock, I was completely floored by the material. At once cold and distant, but emotionally affecting, it was exactly what I had been looking to make in music, something with obvious pop influence, but also human and emotional. The Knife would make a u-turn in sound on Silent Shout, but the main crux of Heartbeats is the heartbeat of Silent Shout, the union of the disaffected and affection.

Miniatures: four images by me.

I recently read about something called tilt-shift photography. Originally, this sort of photography allowed you to take pictures of buildings from the ground and have them appear straight-on. It was later reapplied as a way of making scenes of real-life look like miniatures. I read about a way to do this in post, and tried it out on a few of my photos with varying degrees of success. Here are the results. I will definitely be trying more.

Added bonus: check out this amazing video of Berlin made with tilt-shift.


My 100 Favorite Films. Entry #35: What's Up, Tiger Lily?

What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)
written by Woody Allen, Julie Bennett, Frank Buxton, Louise Lasser, Len Maxwell, Mickey Rose and Bryan Wilson
directed by Woody Allen (original film directed by Senkichi Taniguchi)
starring Tatsuya Mihashi, Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama
country: usa / japan
genre: comedy

Visuals: 5
Writing: 9
Everyday watchability: 8

If you don't know about What's Up, Tiger Lily, it's Woody Allen's first motion picture. Instead of shooting his own film, he took a Japanese spy flick and replaced all of the dialogue with his own plotline involving finding the recipe for the world's greatest egg salad sandwich. It's silly, inane and utterly hilarious. It's nice seeing Woody Allen without getting his neuroses jammed down your throat. It's him being ludicrous and witty and uninhibited by self-abasement.

Suki: Name three US presidents.
Phil: Roosevelt. McKinley. Lincoln?
Grand High Macha of Rashpur: These girls will do anything for you.
Phil: Anything?!
Macha: Get the recipe, ass…
Sheperd Wong: Approach me.
Sheperd Wong: I want to thank you…for clearing up my sinuses.
Interviewer: Woody, since the story is a bit difficult to follow, would you mind giving the audience and myself a brief rundown on what's gone on so far?
Woody Allen: No.

Movie clips.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (6.5/10)
Not totally sure what's going on here, much like any Peter Weir film.

Adventureland (7/10)
I wish Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart were Michael Cera and anyone else.

The Hit (7/10)
Nicely shot, superbly acted. Terence Stamp never fails to impress me.

Repo Man (7/10)
The punkest movie ever made?

The Cyclist (6.5/10)
Touching but tedious.

National Lampoon's Cattle Call (3/10)
The opposite of a class act.

Pineapple Express (7.5/10)
These guys are great together. And Kevin Corrigan and Craig Anderson do a hilarious job as hitmen.

Stepbrothers (6/10)
I think they pushed it beyond the breaking point here.

Year One (7/10)
I love this kind of anachronistic humor; it works for me.

Dreamscape (4/10)
Trying to kill the president in his dreams is at least kind of clever. Much of the rest of the movie isn't however.

Somewhere in Time (7.5/10)
Surprisingy touching. I love seeing Christopher Reeves in non-Superman roles because he's actually a very good, nuanced actor.

note: I watched these back in March and apparently forgot to write about them.

My camera collection. #4: Polaroid OneStep Flash.

Maker: Polaroid
Model: 600
Year: c. 1992
Film type: 600
Usability: camera works perfectly, but the film is a little cost prohibitive at $2 a frame
My cost: $4

I simply love the look of Polaroid. I described it today as being high-quality lo-fi. Some lo-fidelity films (110 and disk film come to mind) are just plain shitty, having poor color, poor grain and poor sharpness. Polaroid, on the other hand, had a beautiful quality to its lack of quality. The colors are richly saturated, interestingly imperfect and the frames are filled with what I can only describe as a "warm" grain.

This camera is your basic utilitarian Polaroid model. It's the Volvo of the Polaroid camera world: functional and boxy. This Volvo however has a racing stripe.

...sample images...

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