Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Cheese (My Old Enemy)

So, I ate some cheese last week. This is a big deal.

I'll tell you why - ever since I can remember, I've abhorred the taste of cheese. I'd like to think I'm not a terribly picky eater, but this has always been a blind spot in my attempts to be open minded. When I was a small child I went starving at kids birthday parties. I'm the weirdo ordering veal in an Italian restaurant instead of pasta. I'm that jerknose who always wants to add an order of wings onto the bill when someone orders delivery because I literally can't bring myself to eat pizza. I don't know whether or not I choked on a piece of cheddar as a baby, or a slab of gruyere killed my sensei or something, but something must've caused me to develop this taste aversion. The mere smell of cheese turns my stomach, even in things like a really creamy ranch dressing. In first year university I'd thought someone had left a cheese pizza to rot in the front lobby of my dorm because the smell of cheese was so rank - turns out, it had just been vomit. This is how I experience cheese.

Thus, it was a big deal when I accidentally scarfed some cheddar last week and didn't immediately retch. Better yet, after the cheese-eating wasn't an unpleasant experience, the entirety of reality didn't cease to exist, meaning that my hatred of fermented milk may not actually be a universal constant that would cause the universe to implode if it ceased to be.

What happened was this. I went to a restaurant. I ordered a sandwich for lunch. I got through half of it, alternating my opinion bite-to-bite between "this is delicious!" and "what's that weird kinda gross taste?" However, I was unrelentingly starving and my scarfing kept going apace until I'd finished my meal.

Turns out my sandwich had some mostly inoffensive cheddar melted into it. Suddenly, I was filled with self-doubt. How could I like cheese? Or, since I'd alternated between feeling neutral-to-this-is-weird-and-kinda-gross during my sandwich experience, how could I even at the very least find it completely and utterly inoffensive? This is a defining part of my character. What next? If I can like cheese, what's next? I'll start wearing baseball caps with their brims unbroken? I'll start voting Conservative? I'll suddenly like clubbing? What about opium? Maybe I like that, huh? CHAOS. Up was down, left was right, dogs and cats living together - I was having a crisis.

After my worldview started crumbling, I went into denial. Some bites were gross, right? What if there just wasn't a lot of the infernal cow-paste on the sandwich, and that little bit of grossness was when the actual flavour of the cheesy anathema burst past the much better taste of roasted vegetables and chicken. Maybe the natural order still exists! Maybe there is a god!

But. Every time I go to the Pie Plate with Erin, she gets a pizza. And it looks actually good. I'm a huge fan of flatbread, and it really does look good. And if maybe I could like it, if I could get over this hatred that has burned inside my tastebuds since time immemorial... maybe. Maybe. I could do anything.

If by anything I mean maybe share a pizza sometime. I've yet to take that plunge and actively eat the stuff knowingly but it's a step in the... and I hate to say it... right direction. Hm. We shall see.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shameless Plugs: The Rocket Scientists present 'The Alright Stuff'

As the brief mention in my sidebar bio declares, when I'm not gracing your TV and movie theatre screens, I'm a proud member of a sketch comedy troupe called The Rocket Scientists. Check out some of our sketches on the Tubes! (I suggest Existential Heckler, which I wrote and am particularly proud of!)

The Rocket Scientists been doing shows on-and-off for a year and a half (we originally planned on doing a set of new material every month, but it's been more like once every two months) and have finally put together our very first 'best-of' revue, called 'The Alright Stuff' (NASA references! Ha!) It's going to be a raucous two-act set with an intermission and everything. Not only that, instead of falling back on our usual (and super awesome) venue The Comedy Bar we've booked the John Candy Box Theatre at the Second City Training Center (70 Peter Street, Toronto, Ontario). It's going to be weird but incredibly fun to be in a new space doing older material. I'm really looking forward to revisiting some of our 'classic' bits. If you spend a day or two writing a sketch, it feels like a waste to perform it only once - especially if you test it out and find that it works. Hence this show!

The Scientists were originally a three-man troupe made up of myself, Brandon Hackett, and Chris Small (The fourth gent rounding out our quartet is Kevin MacNeil, a former co-worker of Chris who used to do a lot of improv back home in Nova Scotia). I'd met Chris through a friend during university, and Brandon soon after when we both starred in a Ryerson University production of Neil Simon's Rumors that Chris directed for his senior thesis course. Apparently during that show I convinced Chris and Brandon I was funny, because when they decided to start up a sketch troupe they asked me to join sight-unseen.

The cast of Chris Small's 2009 production of Rumors - from left to right, Matt Bernard, Jessica Thorp, David Fisher, ME, and Brandon Hackett. It was from the ashes of this Upperclass New York City Farce that the Rocket Scientists were born!

Though I'd done several comedic roles on TV, I'd never specifically worked in more short-form comedy like sketch or stand-up before, unlike Chris and Brandon who were both seasoned comedians. I'm forever grateful to Chris and Brandon for asking me to be in their troupe when I essentially had no experience in the medium. The fools!

That being said, I'd like to think I've taken to it pretty quickly! It's been really rewarding to do these shows - especially the writing. Again, I'd never worked in sketch before and it's been an incredible learning experience to just jump right into writing for a medium completely different than what I was used to! And unlike a lot of the writing I do on my own time (novels and screenplays), sketch is short form so you get to see a 'result' from it a lot faster, which is very satisfying.

The Rocket Scientists contemplate what exactly killed this tiny, tiny man. From left to right, Kevin MacNeil, Christopher Small, Brandon Hackett, and me, Ephraim Ellis. (photo credit, Erin Gerofsky)

I've got an oddly sentimental attachment to the art of sketch comedy since my father used to work at the Second City in Toronto back in the 70s and 80s. He was a stage manager and comedy teacher at the Old Firehall, and eventually went on to be the special props builder for the seminal Canadian sketch series SCTV, which starred Second City alumni like John Candy and Andrea Martin. It's been really neat having my Dad come to our shows and give us scathing (and constructive) notes afterwards. I respect honesty amongst family (especially from those who have invaluable opinions on your art). It's been neat to dip my toe into something akin to the "family business."

After this best-of show, the Rocket Scientists hope to keep moving up in the comedy world! Brandon recently became a member of the Sketchersons and can be seen weekly at Comedy Bar for Sunday Night Live, and the Rocket Scientists themselves were just informed that we're going to get to take part in the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival! This troupe has provided me with a heckuva lot of artistic fulfillment (and laughs). If anyone reading this hasn't much to do this Saturday night, come on out to the John Candy Box Theatre (70 Peter St. in Toronto, Ontario) at 8pm and have a couple laughs with us!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fanboy Friday: Theorizin' 'Bout F'nales (Doctor Who S.7 Edition)

Every year it's the same tired story. The showrunner of the venerable and excellent telly program Doctor Who starts setting up a running arc throughout the season, hinting at a massive conspiracy that we believe will ultimately come into play in the season finale, culminating in the realization that Amy Pond's home town was actually the Eye of Harmony the whole time or the return of the Eighth Doctor or Adric or Nega-Rose. But of course, every year it's the same thing - all the theorizing comes to naught, and it ends up just being a regular season finale with a big space battle and the Big Bad being defeated by the Power of Love or whatever.

But that ain't gonna stop me from theorizing.

This week on Fanboy Friday I'm going to be talking quite a bit about the seventh season of Doctor Who, and, specifically, what I'd be doing with their upcoming season finale were I to be lucky enough to be wearing Stephen Moffat's big imposing Scottish TV writer shoes.

Despite my opening preamble, I'm actually a big fan of the Who finales. Doomsday was fantastic, the whole Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords three part finale was impeccable save the moment when the Doctor was saved by the whole world clapping it's hands and saying "I believe in Time Lords" (I paraphrase, but still). During Moffatt's current tenure as showrunner, the season finales have actually been kind of amazing. Season five's finale might've been about saving the whole of time and space from evaporating, but the action of the episode was contained and quite intimate. The whole thing took place entirely in a museum with just the four main characters running away from a petrified Dalek. Amazing!

This season, we've got two mysteries going already. The prophecy at the end of last season about how the Doctor will be forced to answer "The Question" (the question being "doctor who?") and this will have some kind of universal ramifications. The other mystery which wasn't really a mystery unless you're like me and read entertainment news, was that the actress playing the Doctor's new companion, Jenna-Louise Coleman, was in the first episode playing a differently named character, who is revealed to actually be a Dalek, and subsequently dies. How exactly is that actress going to go on and play the new series lead if she's killed in the season premiere?

I think I have a pretty ingenious solution to this. So! This season, each episode keeps drawing attention to the fact that the Doctor has been going on a tear deleting any record of himself from databases throughout the universe because his legendary reputation was doing more harm than good. Hence everyone asking him "Doctor who?" like, every episode this year. So. I presume this is setting up how that question will be important - the fact that people know or don't know who the Doctor is is important. And, at the end of the Dalek episode, Jenna Coleman's character uses her crazy hacker skillz to delete any record of the Doctor from the memory of the Dalek race before she dies. This is pretty big since it's established in that episode that "Doctor" is a synonym for "Predator" in their language - the Doctor's existence is tied to the Daleks' entire worldview. 

My theory here is that when Jenna Coleman joins the main cast, she'll be the same character as in that Dalek episode, but picked up by the Doctor before she crash-landed on the Dalek planet and became assimilated (because he thought she was so cool, and decides to use his freakin' time machine to save her from her grisly fate).

This, of course, will lead to the Daleks remembering who the Doctor is, because Jenna Coleman was never Dalekized and never deleted the Doctor from their database. The Daleks will, as per usual, come up with some kind of Season Finale level evil scheme that the Doctor will only be able to stop if his anonymity remains intact - leading to a fateful, terrible decision where he'll have to either consign Jenna Coleman back to her original, tragic fate or let the Daleks win.

I think this would be great, especially because the importance of the question "doctor who?" is only established by facts that came into play after we found out what the question was in season six (Jenna being Dalekized, the Doctor becoming anonymous, etc). It wouldn't rely on any arcane backstory from the classic series or back in the new series catalogue! That and it sets up a neat, timey-wimey but emotionally trying conflict for the Doctor to go through.

But, then, of course, Christmas happened. In the Christmas special, Jenna Coleman shows up again as a presumably different character in Victorian England who also dies but who has the same last words as her Dalekized counterpart. And then it's teased that she's playing yet another character who lives in the modern era. Which kinda blows my idea out of the water.

I really hope this multiple characters played by the same actress who are somehow linked isn't explained with some kind of mystic silly shared soul or essence thing, and that they aren't 'destined' to all meet the Doctor and die similar deaths or something. There's enough fate-based material to play with just by having a Time Machine as a weekly prop without bringing in actual Fate. I'm sure the Moff has something up his sleeve, but I, for the life of me, have no idea what it is.

But, again, theorizing has never actually helped when it comes to Doctor Who (or any other sci-fi series. I mean really, Starbuck's dad should've been a secret Cylon. Really.) Fingers crossed for an exciting second half of season seven!

Also, since if you got to the end of this post I assume you watch this series, when Amy and Rory got trapped in the late 30s, why couldn't the Doc just go get them in the TARDIS? I know there was all that "I can't go back to 1938 New York, too much time distorion" malarky, but, couldn't he have just gone back to 1938 Detroit, and got in a cab? Or go to 1941 New York? All I'm saying is that it really seemed more like a major inconvenience rather than a "we can never meet again" thing.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bi-Weekly Digital Drawing Slam: Han Solo

It's a couple days late but I stuck with it! Two weeks later and I've drawn something else. Lessons I've learned this time - don't start the day before an assignment is due, even if it's self-imposed. You'd think university would've taught me that.

 I, yet again, got partway through a sketch and realized that instead of trying to draw a fashionable Pulp Action Hero in a pea-coat with a revolver, perhaps I should just try to draw my reference photograph. My reference photo, in this case, was Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

I also got halfway through this and realized my first two drawing posts have been Star Wars related. Typical. Sigh.

This week I learned how to colour using the polygonal lasso tool! It's super convenient! I also learned courtesy of my sister, a PROFESSIONAL ILLUSTRATOR (in training), that a good way to cartoon the eyes of something is to not ink the whole way around the lid. Neat!

I've also included the penciling layer here, for your amusement. I love saving all the steps in a project like this because you get to see how the drawing develops! Good times.

Well, that was fun. See you in two weeks!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fanboy Friday: Amazing 'Ending'

If I’m gonna keep calling this Fanboy Friday I really oughta write it / post it earlier in the day. Hm. Hm. Lessons learned. Anyway!

Spider-Man has always been my favourite super-hero. Considering that, you'd think I'd be upset with the current developments in the Spider-Man comics. I'm not. Lemme tell you why.

For the uninitiated, in the last story arc of the long-running series The Amazing Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus was on death's door, dying of cancer, and used his mad-scientist skills to switch bodies with Peter Parker to both save himself and finally murder his arch-enemy in one foul swoop. This sounds like standard super-hero/sci-fi fare to me. You’d expect an eleventh hour solution to this story – Spidey gets his body back, maybe manages to save Doc Ock from cancer in the process, and is left to pick up the pieces Octo-Spidey made of his reputation.

But he doesn’t. The Amazing Spider-Man, which debuted in 1962, ends with issue #700 and the ‘death’ of Spider-Man, ignobly with his mind stuck in the cancer-riddled body of his greatest enemy. A new series picks up from that story and follows Octo-spidey’s attempts to be a super-hero. Why does Doc Ock suddenly want to take up the mantle of super-hero, you ask? Because the eleventh hour solution to the body-swap dilemma had Peter transfers all his memories, including the death of Uncle Ben and the “with great power comes great responsibility” malarkey into Octo-Spidey’s brain. Basically, Doc Ock is now trapped in Spider-Man’s body and has been artificially given a conscience. He decides to deal with this nagging, awful feeling in his brain (it's called morality, Otto) by becoming a superhero and not only that, trying to prove he can do it better than Pete did (hence the name of the new series, The Superior Spider-Man.)

I got this mug from my cousin for Christmas and I’m really happy about it. Despite this weird new storyline, I’m definitely still saying Go Spidey!

You’d think I’d be pissed off by this. My favourite super-person (since before I could read comics!) is dead and his life has been taken over by an imposter. I’ll tell you why this doesn’t bother me. Anyone remember the ‘Death of Superman’? That (actually pretty compelling) tale from the early nineties where Superman got punched to death by Frankenstein and almost single handedly caused the comics-collecting price bubble to burst by flooding the market with eighty different collector’s edition lenticular cover varients that Dads everywhere (including my own) all bought as an investment for their kid’s college tuition?

That sure lasted. Superman bounced back a year later (sporting a bitchin’ Fabio haircut) and all was right with the world. Same thing happened to Captain America a couple years ago after he was assassinated. No matter how many press releases you put out calling this “a game changer” and/or “the new status quo,” you’re not gonna convince me that death is gonna take on ol’ Webhead (especially with Andrew Garfield playing Peter Parker, not Otto Octavius on the big screen for the foreseeable future). People come back to life in comics all the time. Spidey will find his way back to the land of the living soon enough, and in the meantime, The Superior Spider-Man #1 has convinced me that its gonna be a really fun story-arc getting him back.

A lot of critics and fans have been saying that this new Spider-Man isn’t likeable – but really, that’s the point. He’s still Doc Ock. And I for one loved to hate Doc Ock. He’s my favourite Spider-Man villain, and seeing him flounder and desperately attempt to not cackle maniacally while trying to be heroic is hysterical.

Octo-Spidey (I’mma just keep calling him that) is great. Despite how often the comic tries to convince you that re-living Peter’s memories has somehow reformed him, I don’t buy it. Doc Ock isn’t a super-hero. Doc Ock wanting to help people doesn’t make sense and he’s consciously aware of it. His entire attitude towards super-heroing seems to be like he’s compelled against his better judgement to do it. I’m really enjoying the feeling that he’s only taking up this super-hero thing because he’s had the original Spider-Man’s conscience duct-taped onto his mind - he’s compelled by a part of someone else’s personality!

There’s a scene in Superior #1 where Ock runs away from a fight, basically going “screw this!” because he’s getting his ass handed to him (by Speed Demon no less), and he could care less about the robbery he’s trying to stop. But, sure enough, against his will he flings himself back into the line of fire to save a cop, asking himself in as many words “why on Earth did I do that?”

It’s great! I’m really hoping this is leading to an arc where Ock, the longer he lives his life as Spider-Man, slowly moves away from being a super-hero merely because he’s compelled to do so and more towards being a person who is truly reformed and does good of his own accord. I think it’d be a really interesting journey to take him on to have him very slowly and methodically realize the true meaning of “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Unfortunately, I’m unsure this is the direction they’re gonna go in. The twist at the end of issue #1 (SPOILERS) reveals that Peter Parker’s full personality is still kicking around Doc Ock’s subconsciousness, manifesting on the page as a kind of blue wavery Force ghost. While I’m happy to find out Pete’s still ‘alive’ (and, therefore, ostensibly gonna be back in the driver’s seat of Spider-Man’s body before too long) I really hope Peter’s phantasmal presence won’t rob Ock of any agency in his choices to do good. I think it’d be cool to have Ock slowly integrate his bequeathed conscience into his own personality as he learns what it means to be a hero – but if that conscience is literally another person in his head, staying his hand and preventing him from being a villain, it kinda robs him of any character development.

Another potential, very gross snag in where this series could go is the Mary Jane problem. Octo-Pete is, as of issue #1, is trying to ‘re-kindle’ his romance with Mary Jane. If by re-kindle I mean not tell Mary Jane he’s actually Peter’s greatest enemy trapped in Peter’s body. And then ogle her chest. Gross.

Since I’ve never thought of Doc Ock as being evil enough to be a rapist, (especially not now he’s supposedly the protagonist of this series) I'm going to be very, very upset if anything sexual happens between those characters before Ock comes clean because that’s what it'd be. Rape. And that’s incredibly gross. Especially if the writers take it lightly and act like it’s no big deal. I’m really hoping, if the look of horror on MJ’s face on the cover of issue #2 is any indication, that this’ll be dealt with in an appropriate manner very soon. What I’m hoping for is that MJ realizes something’s wrong with her boyfriend, forcing Ock to come clean and feel awful when he realizes what he was really doing and she inevitably lambasts him for attempted rape. Basically, they need to handle it like that episode of Buffy did when the Trio were horrified to realize that if they’re mind-controlling a woman to have sex with them its no longer consensual.

Long story short, Pete will be back in the driver’s seat soon enough, and until then, the Superior Spider-Man limited series (it’s gonna be a limited series. Trust me) is off to a good start, and, barring any gross sexual-political missteps (which, I’m sad to say is a distinct possibility) this is gonna be a really fun series. I’m still kinda disappointed that the “new Spider-Man” didn’t end up being a time-displaced Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099, as had been red-herringed on twitter, but, ah well. Can’t win ‘em all.

Also, the Living Brain is in Superior #1. That’s reason enough to pick it up.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's Gonna Take A Montage

Ever since I was on a sweet little TV show with the word 'Beach' in the title, regular exercise has been a part of my life. It's pretty key to the whole actor lifestyle, since your body is your instrument and your 'look' is of prime importance. I also came out of the womb with high cholesterol, so keeping the ol' ticker in shape is mandatory. That being said, I'm pretty lazy. I'm the kinda guy that needs motivation during a workout, because running on a treadmill just isn't enough fun on it's own. I mean, staring at a wall and being alone with my own tortured thoughts is great, but it's a lot more fun to pretend I'm in the middle of a mid-eighties action/adventure/sports movie training montage.

Hence the music I more often than not listen to while running and/or repeatedly lifting heavy things.

I don't exclusively listen to pop-rock soundtracks produced between the years 1979 and 1991 whilst jogging, but when I do it's a freakin' blast. So, I thought I'd share some of my favourite synth-and-chinups tracks with my readers today - specifically those that might not be immediately recognized. Everybody knows Eye of the Tiger and You're The Best Around, but not as many people know Thunder In Your Heart from the soundtrack to the classic 1986 BMX film Rad.

Well, I say classic. I've never actually seen Rad. I've technically only ever seen the end credits of Rad because the copy of The Princess Bride I watched over and over again as a kid was taped off Superchannel, and Rad happened to be the movie on right before. As I was a little kid I for some reason always thought there was just a weird short film of hip teens doing wheelies at the beginning of The Princess Bride. My childhood confusion aside, Thunder In Your Heart is a fantastic addition to the Training Montage genre from dreamy Australian pop sensation John Farnham, who also sang You're The Voice. That chestnut is also pretty epic for workin' out too - replete with soaring bagpipes. It's like the wind really is whipping through my blonde mullet with this tune on in my headphones.

 On a similar note, Night Ranger's The Secret of My Success (1987) from the Michael J. Fox movie of the same name is exceedingly rad. I'd never even heard of this movie until a couple years ago, and it's actually kind of amazing. It's a completely nonsensical screwball comedy about Michael J. Fox, a mail-room clerk with preternatural business acumen, who takes over an abandoned office at his workplace so he can secretly be a businessman, mostly JUST BECAUSE HE LOVES DOING BUSINESS SO MUCH. The fact that no one catches on to Mike's Clark Kent/Superman routine earlier is pretty unbelievable. Doesn't HR need Fake-MJ's nonexistent social security number? That being said, the movie is actually quite a touching portrayal of a guy who will go to any lengths to be able to do what he loves to do for a living (which, as an actor, is a theme I can appreciate).

The title song is equally nonsensical (the secret of your success can't be that you're living twenty-five hours a day, Night Ranger. That's temporally impossible) but is super catchy and has a lot of great peaks and valleys, tempo-wise which is great for running outdoors.

My next recommendation, Fire, Inc.'s Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young, comes from the movie Streets of Fire (1984), which decided to keep having itself named after a Springsteen song even when Bruce turned down their request to use his music in the film. Instead, they turned to one of my favourite songwriters, Jim Steinman. He's the guy who wrote of Holding Out For A Hero, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and both Bat Out Of Hell albums for my man Meat Loaf.

The movie itself is ridiculous. Set in an alternate reality that's half-idealized-1950s-half-post-apocalyptic-1980s, it's about bounty-hunter Michael Pare rescuing his girlfriend, rock-star Diane Lane, from a biker gang leader played by a very young Willem Dafoe in bondage gear (seriously! He's so little he doesn't even get name-checked in the trailer!). Also, Rick Moranis is there as Diane Lane's manager and is doing his level best to play a tough guy and it's hilarious.

The song is classic Steinman, Wagnerian, epic, full of sweeping piano and twelve minutes long. His lyrics have always been about reclaiming a kind of lost faux 50s tough-guy youth and this song is no different - and that kind of epic machismo is pretty great for a workout. It's awesome.

Honourable mentions (neither of which are from soundtracks but should be) go to Billy Joel's I Go To Extremes, Gino Vanelli's The Time of Day (which I think is about saying no to drugs? Maybe?) and anything by Kenny Loggins, Journey, or Survivor. Seriously, a good, simple definition for music I like to work out to could be 'songs Kenny Loggins and Journey wish they were getting residuals for.'

And really, seriously, check out this trailer for Streets Of Fire. It's bananas. I'm so happy someone was lacking enough in their faculties to let that movie get made. Did I mention Michael Pare and Willem Dafoe have a sledgehammer fight at the end of the movie?! A SLEDGEHAMMER FIGHT.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bi-Weekly Digital Drawing Slam: Self Portrait With Lightsaber

When I was a kid, I used to draw a lot. Mostly just drawings of Spider-Man over and over again. I don't know when exactly this fell by the wayside, but I figure it was sometime in middle-school when I discovered acting and film-making and I kinda decidedly shifted my artistic identity. 'I'm an actor and writer now!' I declared.

And so, I kinda stopped drawing. That being said, I kinda miss it. And, as a writer interested in visual mediums like film and, more applicably, comic books, I've always intended to get back into drawing for to finally write and create some form of graphic-novel / web-comic / penny-dreadful. If that's a real thing I'd like to maybe do one day, I'd better start practicing. Thus, this new feature!

It's up to you, dear readers, to light a fire under my ass merely by existing. There's gonna be a new sketch / drawring / thingy posted in this space every two weeks (I figure I'll start off slow).

This is a weird thing I drew a while back called "Self Portrait With Lightsaber." Originally I set out to do a concept drawing of the title character from an as-of-yet incomplete comic book I wrote about a modern day, Arthur Dent-ish guy who is bequeathed Space Excalibur by a Space Princess and goes off on Space Adventures. I got about halfway through the sketch and realized I hadn't drawn in years, and that perhaps it would be more educational for me to try to drawing just what was in front of me (in this case, a reference photograph of myself holding a stick). The stick became a lightsaber because, well, why not. Pew Pew.

I drew this (and will continue to draw for this feature) on the Wacom Tablet I got from my parents for Christmas last year. I really love drawing on it mainly because since it's all digital, you don't have to worry about mistakes - you've got perfect erasing power, and if you screw up the inking or colouring you don't have to start the pencil sketch part from scratch - it's all just layers and pixels in photoshop! It's kind of a travesty that I've hardly used my tablet over the past year - hence, this post and the baleful, guilt inducing gaze of my audience when I don't produce a drawring post.

Don't let me down, audience. See you all later in the week!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Manly Men's Fashion For Men (And Boys): Timepieces

Hey there, internet! I've returned from a glorious coffee-and-cookies-and-pork-roasts filled Christmas in Haliburton, Ontario with my family and Erin (check out her blog for some very fetching Christmas pics, by the by). I wasn't away from the internet, technically, but I was away from a computer with a comfortable keyboard and photoshop, so the blargh went on an accidental hiatus. I promise there will be more regularly updated useless tripe from me in this space from now on. 

I don't know if this is gonna be a regular feature, but I'm a proponent of personal style. Nowhere near as professionally as my lovely girlfriend, but a proponent none the less. I like to dress well and in a way that makes me feel good and have fun. So, I figure that's as good a topic to blog about occaisonally. Thus, today I'mma talk about one of my favourite things, fashion-wise... watches.

You don't need a watch anymore, much less a pocket-watch like I like wearing. You've got a phone. It's got a clock on it. It's in your pocket. It successfully serves the same purpose (and can make phone calls)! Despite this, I love wearing a pocket watch. It's an accent, a fashionable anachronism. I admit that and love them for it. Though my phone can and does often serve the same purpose as a pocket watch, I still wear one for the same reason I'd wear a tie. It's classy and it's fun. And, maybe if I check the time on my watch instead of my phone I'll be less inclined to refresh twitter every five minutes.

This silver-plated pocket watch was a gift I got from my mom for my 25th birthday. I love it to pieces - the hands are super ornate and despite the tiny slim font it's imminently readable. My parents are both silversmiths/jewellers (please check out their work at Paradigm Designs if you're so inclined) and they keep promising to monogram that little shield on the front of it. One day! The chain was hand-made by my mother as well, and was originally a necklace of my grandmother's. I love that little bit of sentimental history behind the chain, even if it could probably stand to be shortened a little as I usually wear this watch with jeans (it's got a sweet lobster-claw clasp on the other end I attach to my belt-loop).

Fun fact! That itty-bitty pocket just above the right-hand front pocket on most pairs of jeans is traditionally meant to hold a pocket watch. I get a big kick out of using it for it's 'real' purpose, even if it's out of a grossly misplaced sense of utilitarianism (especially since I've just established that pocket watches are mostly decidedly non-utilitarian jewellery pieces... shut up...).

This watch I only bust out for weddings and funerals and sometimes New Years parties. It was my paternal great-grandfather's and was gifted to me on my 21st birthday by my father (along with complete sets of Marvel Comics trading cards I collected when I was 5 that he'd been saving, for that birthday, for 16 years. My father is the Machiavelli of gift-giving). This watch is very, very small (about two-thirds the diameter of my silver watch), but I adore it. It keeps time very quite well! As I mostly keep it as a display piece on my desk under glass, I often forget to wind it. I really should, though - I really don't want this action to get atrophied.

And speaking of anachronism, I just picked up my first wristwatch. As much as I hate to say it this probably has something to do with the fact that with the continuing ubiquitousness of smartphones, even wristwatches have become mostly pointless and vestigial - I never would've wanted one to wear one when most people wore them. I recognize that this is obnoxiously contrarian and perhaps the most blatantly rank hipsterism, but, again, I'm having fun. Deal with it, society! 

I got this wristwatch for 10 bucks at a flea market in St. Catherines with Erin and was very disappointed to discover it didn't work when I replaced the batteries at home. Even if it's a crappy old Timex, I really loved how it had the look of a watch my granddad or Roger Moore (who was essentially a sexy granddad for most of his tenure as 007) would've worn. My wristwatch doesn't have a laser or grappling hook, but, again, I do have an iPhone and I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before those are standard features of Apple products. Until then, I'm satisfied that it tells the time and lets the world know that even though it's monofunctional, it looks cool, and that's good enough for me.