Glutton for PWNishment

The Magical Christmas Cat…Not What You’d Think
December 2, 2009, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Pet Friends | Tags: , , , , , , ,

christmas cat, originally uploaded by spraynardkreuger.
So, a little while ago I was perusing my local book purveyor. Some of my friends and I enjoy looking through romance novels to read the rather saucy passages. We came across a book we thought was obviously out of place on those particular shelves.

The collection of stories “The Magical Christmas Cat,” turned out to be a romance novel of sorts after all. Written by Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh and the incomparable Linda Winstead Jones, this collection contains stories that all focus on the universal topic of women’s cats turning into hot men during Christmastime and whisking them off their feet.

The promotional materials allude to the stories being about “a distinctly alluring feline touch.” I don’t know, all of this seems a little close to the Furry family for me. I don’t know if the lonely women reading these stories do any yiffing but I hope that their sheer desperation wouldn’t lead them to do more lewd things to their “distinct felines.”

Can you imagine the readership for this? Are we talking mid-40s, tweed-wearing, just plain sad or bizarrely sexually aroused or what? Interesting subject matter. Apparently it is pervasive enough of a topic to be carried in a mainstream bookstore like Borders or Barnes and Noble. I’m wondering if any of the women who read this are featured in this doc:

Movie Trailers, What?
December 1, 2009, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Famous People We Wish We Were | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Depending on one’s preference, the twenty minutes preceding the feature presentation are either the best or worst part of the cinema experience. Much like proto-butter topping on popcorn, movie trailers could be the most entertaining, tantalizing part of one’s day or the worst. They tease and beckon with a curling finger and a wink; they showcase the best 3-5 minutes of a plot, brand the film with music blasted by Dolby digital and they connect to a target audience.

The narrow branding of trailers  seems to be yet another indication of film eroding from its traditional role as a collective medium of entertainment to a personal, individualized experience. In the ‘60s, everyone loved the Beatles, wore paisley and saw “The Graduate.” In 2009, everyone has his niche band, niche clothing store and a movie can be marketed to any of these vastly divergent tastes.

The trailer for the 2007 movie “Lucky You”, starring Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana, is a prime example for the warping that niche marketing often creates. Depending on which one an audience was given, the movie either was a Las Vegas riot,  a contemplative jaunt, suspenseful gambling epic or a romantic comedy depending on choices of editing, lead in music, lighting, dialogue, and introduction of characters. One line of dialogue was even comically used in two completely different contexts. At one point Drew Barrymore’s character says, “when you mentioned your father, your eyes got all quiet.” Yet, in one trailer the line seems romantic, cuddly and something that unites her romantically with the male lead. In the other, it is a foreboding, melancholic line that leads one to believe that the male protagonist is ruminating about a strained relationship with his father.

Meaning is muddled by the ever-increasing scope of film advertising. Viral videos, web campaigns, Twitter accounts and niche marketing can make a movie into anything its audience needs. These newfangled, easily modified trailers make movies as artificial as their concession stand counterparts. Now, not only is the melted butter on the popcorn fake, so are the coming attractions.

Ernest Hemingway: The Most Marketable, Tourism-Ready, Drunk Writer
November 29, 2009, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ernie and Cat, originally uploaded by spraynardkreuger.
Does it seem odd that Ernest Hemingway, early twentieth century literary powerhouse and alcohol enthusiast, is every Dad’s favorite guy? Something about Ernie’s rugged, outdoorsy persona makes big game fishermen and Cabela’s shoppers weak at the knees. “Pappa” is also a boon for tourism bureaus. The Florida Keys, Northern Michigan, everyone wants a piece of Ernest’s grizzled essence. Makes me wonder how many daddly guys who go to Sloppy Joe’s and buy a t-shirt have even read “Hills Like White Elephants,” or any book for that matter.
Lucky vacationers can even take tours to see where Hemingway lived, loved and boozed. Take the Key West Ernest Hemingway tour, for example. The kiddies will love the three legged cats and older teens will love anecdotes about drunken nights and womanizing. It’s interesting to me that Ernest Hemingway is such a bankable commodity. Not many modern writers have riled up enough popularity to remain a cultural meme decades after their deaths. Lucky Ernie even gets to be the centerpiece for many marketing and merchandise schemes.
Why not give your favorite relative a t-shirt, coffee mug or any other number of gifts featuring our dead pal from the annals of Lost Generation literature. Forget the books, who needs those.

Bad Art Has A LOT in Common With Screensavers
November 22, 2009, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Bad Desktop Wallpaper, originally uploaded by spraynardkreuger.

Carlos Jimenez didn’t get the message that art wasn’t his forte. Maybe he’s ambitious. His storefront on North Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood would lead you to think so. Obviously, his aim is high, either way. After all, he uses the “old master’s technique,” as his website asserts.

Still, his grotesquely colorful, abstract paintings have more in common with Microsoft Windows desktop backgrounds and bad ‘80s prog rock album covers than Goya or Rembrandt. That is, unless you are referring to the packaging for the Latin food brand or the toothpaste.

Just about everything about Jimenez’s work is grandiose, over-the-top and otherworldly. His paintings are about themes as universal as the “beautiful representation of earthy essences.” They are bestowed with evocative, visionary titles like Jazz Flowers, Red Genesis, The Voyage and Phoenix. It’s easy to see where Jimenez is taking us – probably somewhere magical in outer space, possibly on a sparkly starship.

Phoenix in particular showcases Jimenez’s predilection toward “dimensions and parallel universes.” The painting might be alternately titled Floating, Crimson Pinball Watches a Sunset on a Vacation in Scottsdale, Arizona in a more honest universe. In the foreground, a luminescent, reflective marble alights what looks like a hazy, orange mountain range. Clearly, perspective is a problem here. Is the pinball rising to meet the rays of the sun? Is it actually emanating these rays?

Attraction, or Bath Beads’ March to the Apocalypse, is another study in the versatility of hovering, red globes. Dozens of glimmering spheres ascend to the upper extreme of the canvas toward a mysterious, golden glowing light. It could be a sea of cough drops. It could be a horde of bouncy balls careening down to a certain death. Mostly, this cartoonish depiction just makes for trite viewing.

Red Horizon is a clear choice to complete Jimenez’s “abstract red shapes moving around and doing things” series. A flowing plateau of cherry and strawberry Twizzlers cascade into a spackled marigold plane and give the painting a strange sense of dynamic motion.

Obviously, there is a demand for multi-tonal, ethereal mentalscapes such as these. How else would Jimenez maintain such an impressive spread? Hospitals, institutional office spaces and spacey, new age art patrons have empty walls with space to fill. There are those among us that need a scenic image of what an Enya, Yanni or Enigma song might look like.

If anything, Jimenez’s treatment of light in his colorful homages to geometry is, after all, visually interesting. He creates a glowing warmth around the cascading spheres, rods and rectangles that punctuate his not-of-this-landscapes. Sunburst Nebula, while dubiously titled, creates the deep, hot appearance of a shining sun or moon or star.

The Jazz Flowers series also contains accessible works, highlighted by fields of dotted floral scenery. Swirling clouds in a blue sky hover above the grass, buds and blossoms. While the image of shards of flora may not be the kind of art that shapes political or cultural discourse, it certainly is pretty.

But the nagging sense of cheesiness and contrived outer space imagery of Jimenez’s works make them look more like posters or sci-fi book sleeves than paintings. Or maybe the cover of a silly calendar. He may be aiming for the celestial with his many nebulas, stars, floating orbs, planets and explosive fields of color but his paintings are not out of this world.

If Carlos Jimenez is taking us far away in his red spaceship to an orange planet with foggy hills and floating balls, he better bring enough jet fuel to take us back to earth. You can only stand so much time inside an Asia album cover in a field of golden marbles before turning into L. Rob Hubbard or a glimmering space alien. Jimenez might not be a capable painter but he may find success in a variety of other vocations: pulp novelist, greeting card designer, ball collector. The possibilities, like the universe, are endless.

DISCLAIMER: The photo above is not Carlos Jimenez’s work. But you can compare and contrast with his real paintings at your leisure, since it IS a Microsoft wallpaper image.

Remember Lisa Frank?
November 15, 2009, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Pet Friends | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Lisa Frank Cat, originally uploaded by spraynardkreuger.

Remember all of those charming little folders and gorgeous stickers from our childhood? Lisa Frank is definitely emblematic of the youth of a certain set of young women who grew up in the 1990s.  I miss those days when all you needed to be cool was a shiny, iridescent folder and a love of unicorns. Social mobility was marked by nothing more than school supply choice in those days. Ahh, even the commercials were better:

Now, Why Would You Do That?
November 8, 2009, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Dumb Criminals | Tags: , , , , ,

We’re all guilty of breaking the law. Zoning ordinances, imbibing of questionable substances, traffic violations. It’s pretty commonplace. But there are those that take crime to a whole new level. The most moronic of less-than law abiding citizens. The stupid criminal. Obviously, they can fall into a few different classes:

Conspicuous Much?: Hey, guy. You’re breaking the law. In broad daylight. On a well-traveled street. In plain sight of a cop car. While wearing a rainbow unitard. And you’re shouting obscenities.

Ruuuuude: Yup, it looks like that cop is writing you a parking ticket/pulling you over/handcuffing you and throwing you forcefully into the cruiser. I don’t think you’re going to do much for your case by ripping off your wife-beater in drunken anger while shouting, “I’m innocent!”

Just…What?: Maybe you could’ve gotten away with what you were doing. Completely fine. But guess what. For example, you were drunk then called the cops on yourself like this Rhode’s scholar:

But that lovely gem has nothing on the alpha and omega of silly criminals who embodies all the best markers of idiocy. You have to give it to him for his tenacity though:

Nice Jewish Guys Calendar
October 19, 2009, 10:59 am
Filed under: Religious Man Candy | Tags: , , , ,

Sooooo, I was at a friend’s dinner party yesterday and she had the 2009 “Nice Jewish Guys” calendar hanging on her wall. Well, firstly, I noticed a somewhat nerdy fellow decorating her bathroom door. “What is that?” I asked. Turns out that Nice Jewish Guys is a legit calendar manufacturer. Interesting.

At first I suspected JDate to somehow be involved. But this was not the case. I suppose it’s some sort of independent enterprise catering to women seeking a hunky Jewish heartthrob. Sort of like TeenBop or something, but absent of the centerfolds and splashy, crowded page layouts.

Like I said, Mr. October, not so great. But as we paged through, studs like old Mr. July and Mr. November proved the calendar’s mettle. Interesting concept, not really sure how it pans out but unique, nonetheless.