My graphics business

















In one of the stranger twists of my career, I suddenly find myself in the graphics business.

It started out with me doing funny, cool little birthday greetings and things for friends on Facebook, and then expanded to me making funny, cool little things for the They Might Be Giants tumblr. I did that for a year or two, just to relax while writing things, mind you, and then, oddly enough, a handful of people started asking me to do posters and graphics for them, but, like, for money. And then people started asking me for prints of the funny, cool little things I did. And then just the other day John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants just went ahead and called me up and asked me if I wanted to do their tour posters. But, like, sixty of them, including one for each venue and several general-interest posters. Which, well, I said yes, I would like to do that.

Long story short, I do these weird little Photoshop art print mashup things, you can see them at my store, see if there’s anything you like!

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Nota bene!















Longtime WADPAW reader and commenter Marie Brennan has a new book out, A Natural History of Dragons, a Memoir by Lady Trent and you should buy it because it’s awesome.

Live-action Toy Story

This is simply astonishing.

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Put on a happy face, again

















I’ve written in the past about the phenomenon of studios cheering up the posters for movies when they’re released on DVD.  (Here and here.)

A few weeks ago I saw an electronic billboard here in LA for Flight, Bob Zemeckis’s tense drama about alcoholism, but the original poster image had been altered.  Star Denzel Washington was no longer standing in the rain on a stormy day, he was now standing in much less rain in front of a blinding blue sky and the quote “FLIGHT SOARS!” blared over his head.  I thought, well, for the sake of the quote they want to make the movie look like an inspirational drama, which it is, in a way, so I guess that’s okay.

Now I see that that billboard image was merely a dry run for the DVD cover, and that Flight, the studio had decided, needed some cheering up for the home video market.  Pilot Denzel is no longer facing his demons in a storm, now he’s peeking at God as the rain comes to a stop.  I’m sure this image is a mock-up, but I like how someone has placed the quote “POWERFUL,” without attribution, below Denzel’s face.  I’m sure if Denzel wins the Oscar his expression will be changed to “beaming triumph” and the font will be changed to Trajan.

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“Urbaniak’s Last Cast”













The actor James Urbaniak, who readers of this blog will know as the voice of Dr. Venture, or as the polygraph guy on Homeland, has been one of my closest friends since I met him on this very date (well, yesterday on this very date) in 1989 at a shoebox theater in lower Manhattan during a blizzard.  True story.

Lately, he’s been doing these podcasts, Getting On with James Urbaniak.  He emailed me and asked me to contribute a piece, and of course I was happy to do so, and you can hear it here.  It turned out pretty awesome.

The assignment was very specific: not a monologue or a rant or a routine, but a monodrama: that is, a drama, with a plot, and conflict, and events occurring, premise, development, crisis, denouement, all that, starring one actor, James, playing a character named “James Urbaniak.”  I’m a huge Samuel Beckett fan from way back, and the only thing that popped into my head as a suitable monodrama was an adaptation of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, where an elderly man, a failed writer, reviews tapes he made of himself when he was younger and wonders about what happened to himself.

So that’s what I did, except I made the elderly writer James.  His performance is more than I could have hoped for.

All the events James talks about in the podcast are true stories.  James really did audition for the part of Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, he really did do a hit show off-Broadway where he really was too busy to meet Paul Newman, he really did walk the red carpet at Cannes, he really so forth.  The only one of the stories that isn’t true at all is the first one, where he auditions for the part of Eugene in The Miracle Worker in high school but loses the part to the school quarterback.  That didn’t happen to him, that happened to me, exactly as set down.

He didn’t really do an impression of Mackensie Crook at his audition for the role of Dwight Schrute.  Rainn Wilson, to my knowledge, does not have a three-story mansion in Santa Barbara, and James does not live in a crappy bungalow in Eagle Rock.

The cassette recorder referred to in the text was one my family owned in the late 1960s, one very much like these:











Finally, a “frustum” is a truncated pyramid.

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Memory Lane, part 2

Yesterday I posted a bunch of flyers I made for my monologue shows back in the late 80s – early 90s.  Today I’m posting a bunch of flyers I made for various play productions during the same time.  Don’t forget to click to enlarge.hits counter

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Musical note

The "best of decade" lists are out. I note that I own four of the titles on The Onion’s list, and eighteen of the titles on Rolling Stone’s list.

Make of that what you will.hits counter

Nota bene

I now tweet every now and then. I can’t guarantee I’ll tweet anything interesting, but I do tweet.

Time Out London loves me! Oh, wait.

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Bala and Z?  Or — Marx and Engels??

A well-meaning friend of mine saw today that Antz, a movie I co-wrote a long, long time ago, was recently named the 27th-best animated movie of all time by Time Out London! Yippee! That means I beat The Secret of NIMH! Take that, Porco Rosso! Better luck next time, Persepolis!

Let’s see what this prestigious arbiter of cultural taste has to say about this 27th-best animated movie of all time, a movie into which I, yay verily, poured into which my heart and soul! Hmm…

"…a drab and hamfisted Marxist allegory rammed down your throat…‘Antz’ may boast a great array of vocal talent, but it spends too much time pitching gags over the kiddies’ heads and flogging its adult credentials to ever get down to basics and actually entertain. Cartoons, of course, aren’t just for children, but ‘Antz’, in falling back on kid-friendlyby-the-numbers cartoon plotting, plunges between the stools of satire and slapstick." ALD

Ah. So, it’s not very good at all then. "Dreary Whining" is ALD’s final decree. Geez, I never felt sorry for The Secret of NIMH before, but to think that it’s somehow worse than "dreary whining," that must be quite a sad movie indeed.

"ALD"’s point, of course, is that Antz sucks in comparison to A Bug’s Life, which, well, if that’s his or her opinion, I’ve read harsher. If one hates Antz, why put it on the list at all? Or, if you feel a special need to vent spleen upon a movie that blows it, run a special side-column about animated movies you hate.

But the reason I bring your attention to this folly is the idea that Jeffrey Katzenberg, the producer of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, a man who was once described as "Satan" by a friend of mine because of his extreme capitalistic views, would make the first CGI-animated movie from Dreamworks a "hamfisted Marxist allegory." Mr. Katzenberg, let me assure the reader, can be described in many terms, but "Marxist" is not one of them. Not once in any of our story meetings was Mr. Katzenberg ever moved to utter the following: "No, no, no, no, no! Don’t you get it?! It’s a Marxist Allegory, and we’ve got to ram it down the audience’s throat!!  After all, we’re a major Hollywood studio!!"


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For a new project, I’m interested in my readers’ most common dreams.

For instance, for a long time, years, I had only one dream. It was a variation on the actor’s nightmare: I was always booked for some kind of performance in some faraway city, and I was always showing up the day of the show and finding out that my housing was bizarrely inadequate (one dream had me staying in a rotting trailer in the middle of a woods), my transportation confusing and dangerous (subway trains without platforms, jet planes that must take off or leave in the middle of city centers), and the venue always in a state of turmoil. And, of course, I was always showing up without a clear idea of what the show was and what my part was in it.

The other dream I’ve had for at least the past twenty years is that I’m showing up at a college campus on finals day and realizing that I’m due to take an exam and haven’t been to any of the classes that semester. In fact, I haven’t even been on the campus before.

I used to have the dream where I showed up at work naked. The strange thing about that one was that no one else ever noticed that I was there, much less that I was naked.

And, in times of great stress, I’d have flight dreams every night. I would have them so often that they became routine, I would know when one was starting and know exactly what to do. I had them so often that my flight-dream life became an easy, comfortable place, and flying became no big deal — I could just as easily fly down the hallway to get to class as soar over my neighborhood in the moonlight.

I’ve had some version of every kind of dream reported in the Wikipedia "Common Themes" paragraph, with the exception of the one with the dreamer’s teeth rotting and falling out.  That one strikes me as bizarre.

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