Art Sake

One might assume that because I was an art major I would be artistically inclined in all things creative. One would be wrong. Assuming I have some sort of global artistic gift is like assuming someone that’s good at math is qualified to do your taxes or that any random programmer is equipped to fix your computer (which I also can’t do, so don’t ask).   I can’t design your web site or re-envision your living room layout. I couldn’t design my way out of a paper bag, if that was even a thing. I’m no more qualified to paint your bedroom then Van Diesel is to cut your hair. My skills with a paint brush are about on par with a sugar fueled toddler trying to stay inside the lines of a college anatomy coloring book.   Nicole, for instance, is far better with a paint brush when it comes to clean accurate coverage. I can tape the crap out of the room to make sure any surface not intended for paint is properly protected but I’m simply not a fan of free-balling it.   Nobody wants a clever abstract stroke or high-minded artistic interpretation when it comes to painting the kids’ room purple. The demands are much simpler here; “if you make me do a second coat I’m going staple your tongue to your forehead and paint it all purple” Nicole suggests without looking up from her razor sharp brush strokes. “I think I should go check on dinner again” I respond quickly, backing away from the paint tray.

Even my fraternity made the fatal flaw of thinking that the resident artist would excel at the Pictionary event during the Greek Olympics (college Greeks, unrelated to Socrates or super thick yogurt). Makes sense, right?!   While I am quite the playah when it comes to a game of Pictionary my true skill lie in my ability to decipher the wild chicken scratch of my teammates. When it comes to the drawing portion of the program, we call to the forefront two of my biggest issues,… inability to deal with tight deadlines and fear of performing in front of groups. Combine these two features (they’re not bugs, they’re features) and my potentially artful drawings devolve into the very same chicken scratch that the rest of the participants are producing but my teammates lack my interpretation skills and are unable to make heads or tails of my speedy creation. Which is precisely what happened when asked to draw “Big Girls Don’t Cry” for the first round of the completion. After a long minute of flailing and scribbling the buzzer sounded and the team filed out of the room politely pretending they could now use the extra time practicing for the upcoming volleyball event later that evening.

Like the pathetic peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that got turned into a newt,… “I got better”. As with all things, skills develop with practice and in turn bring competence and confidence. I don’t doubt my potential to be a 5-star house painter, it just wasn’t one of the practical skills I received during my under graduate work. House painting is not like drawing which is not like sculpting which is not like design work. Design, for example, is a vocabulary that one evolves over time,… currently my design fluency would be the equivalent of “See Jane run. Run Jane, run.” I would know enough to mirror the action in the second sentence but lack the experience to inject any more depth or personality into Jane or the world she inhabits; In design terms this equates to simple rules like keep things balanced, keep things consistent, never wear white after labor day,… that’s about the extent of my design knowledge.

So sure, feel free to invite me to your next DYI party, I may not earn that 5-star Yelp review but I’ll be sure to bring enough rum and coke to ensure everyone is either painting on an equal level or is unable to clearly recall who painted over the trim, the window, half of the ceiling and the miniature poodle asleep in the corner. It may not be the look you were going for but at least it’s fun to say “purple poodle” ten times fast.

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Mud Tougher

I have another million dollar idea; Have people pay me to be tortured. No, no, really, this is going to work. I’ll electrocute them, submerge them in ice and push them off high-rise platforms. And they’re going to love it. The best part is I’ll convince them it’s actually good for them. I’ll make them run from one evil obstacle to the next so they feel like they’re exercising but I’ll keep them close enough together so there’s really no cardio benefit. I’ll make it a competition so people will strive to be the most beaten up. They will glory in the pain. Blood and bruises will be the badge of honor here so I won’t have to waste money on fancy trophies. We can even mix it up, sometimes I’ll keep it simple and just pelt them with colorful dyes, make colorful toxic clouds for them to run through, and make it feel like a party as I deafen them with an upbeat dance mix. Maybe I’ll put a fictional spin on it and make them feel like the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse or gladiators sentenced to death in a fiery arena. I’ll find some people that enjoy role-playing to dress up as zombies or Spartan’s and have them beat the snot out of people that generally mock role-playing. How sweet is that?! And again, they’re going to pay me for the privilege.

People seem to have lost interest in something as mundane as running; since the dawn of man we have run quite naturally towards prey and away from predators. Who wants to spend money on that? But throw in some back-breaking labor and a mud puddle or two and you got yourself a money-maker. All I need now is an iron clad liability release form and some legal small print about consulting a doctor before arriving for your time of torment. Actually compared to an Iron Man, no one will blink an eye at the abuse I’m signing people up for. This might just be a short-lived fad that I can cash in on quickly before people realize what they’re actually paying for. I can’t imagine anyone signing up to do something like this more than once. Nobody is that stupid.

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Spiral Paradox (part 1)

I stood in stunned silence staring at the broken box; the delicate pieces of machine work still skittering away from the fragmented shell. I froze in that eternal moment waiting for the fallout of what I’d done. I wondered what effect it would have on me or my surroundings. What effect had it held upon the universe that might now suddenly unravel? When it became clear that the few hissing sparks were the extent of the current fallout I expanded my worry beyond myself and wondered if Whitney had heard it from his position outside.

“What the fuck was that?!” Whitney hissed from the hallway, lowering his weapon as he peaked inside. “Please tell me that was not the Marque Device we were sent for.”

“Could have been” I shrugged sheepishly scratching at the back of my hood. “There’s a lot of crap in here, and I honestly don’t know what half of this shit is.” I waved my pistol at the assorted shelves and work-tables littered with gadgets, gears and machinery of every sort.

I knelt over the remains of what had just moments before been a silver box inlaid with golden symbols and spiral patterns. “I was just taking it all in after I cleared the room, but this thing was surrounded by some sort of field.” I prodded it with the barrel of the gun to confirm the field was no longer active. “It was sitting right over there on the table, and as I reach out it just flies off its stand and shatters like it was dipped in dry ice.”

Whitney moved to the indicated stand to get a closer look. He slings his pistol under his arm and kneels down to eye-level with the small digital readout on the base of the stand. “My Verian is bit rusty but looks like ‘time,.. no, waiting for,… er, awaiting a command or input’.”

“Well just back off, we’re not inputting anything. Question is how do we proceed? The mission files were vague on visuals and unfortunately that is not the only object here that could fit the bill. We can’t take it all will us and Granger will know something is up when he comes back and finds this mess.”

“I say we take some footage for the Geek Squad, and let them sort it out. If that was the Marquee Device maybe we can just ca-” Whitney jumped suddenly as the mechanical base let out a high pitch tone. Our guns were out in a heartbeat seeking any new threat. After a quick scan Whitney slowly eased back to visual range of the digital readout. “’Request in-bound,….’, ‘Agree,… er, confirm,… gate?’,… I’m not sure what this symbol is, but I think it’s asking for a response. Oh,… oh crap,… it repeated the question,… and now there’s some type of countdown going,… but these aren’t the Verian numbers I learned.”

“Let’s clear out, take what you can, I’ll transmit visuals for tech.” Another high pitch tone sounded this one softer than the one before. “That’s not good”. Another tone, again softer. “OUT! To the extraction point, now!” Whitey strapped up his bag which still appeared to be mostly empty, slung it over a shoulder and moved to the entrance pistol leading the way.

One last tone barely audible followed by a soft voice overlaid with a second voice translated to Tellurian. “Gate paradox. Spiral redirected”.

I exchanged looks with Whitney. “Mother is not going to be happy about this!”

 

<to be continued…>

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Mean Cuisine

I would like to propose a new show for the Food Network; “Kitchen Swap – Iron Chef Edition” where top professional chefs and their picturesque TV kitchens trade places with random normal folks and their overused overpopulated suburban kitchens; Watch as Bobby Flay spends 25 minutes trying to find which drawer someone has hidden the good spatula in. Watch as he struggles to navigate the kitchen tripping over dogs and dodging Nerf bullets. Meanwhile watch as I casually prepare a full weekend brunch sipping a cocktail in the fully stocked kitchen with not a single interruption or distraction to be had. Ok perhaps more of a personal fantasy then a show pitch but it might help me to appreciate cooking again.

It had actually crossed my mind (albeit a quick sprint across the mostly vacant frontal cortex) to make this a cooking blog instead of a,… whatever this is. I could have been the next Pioneer Woman, minus the ranch, cattle and womanhood. I could have posted pretty pictures of culinary creations if I were actually capable of taking pictures half as good as the Pioneer Woman and if said creations weren’t just modified versions of stuff the Pioneer Woman has already posted.   “Ranch House Chili” lacks a certain credibility when coming from a computer programmer living in the suburbs. In all honestly I actually love to cook and have made a few recipes my own over the years or at least have waited out the fame of the original chefs enough to make my claims uncontested. The real problem comes in the form of 6 painfully picky eaters. I mean to the extent that 90% of their diet can be defined as ‘carbs and cheese’ with the remaining 10% being pure sugar. I can spend 3 hours preparing a delicious Coq au Vin only to have the kids push it aside in disgust and ask for seconds of the butter noodles I made as the side,… and then proceed to inform me, butter dripping from their chins, that the noodles would go great with frozen chicken nuggets, which in turn gets a boisterous roar of approval from the others, the very same boisterous roar of approval that my deluded mind somehow thought I’d hear for making the savory homemade chicken with a sauce reduction. “They’re both chicken for god’s sake!! Quit your bitchin and eat!” screams my inside voice, while my outside voice says with just a dash of bitterness “Fine! Eat your butter noodles, but don’t expect the Ranch House Chili tomorrow!” To which they respond with another boisterous roar of approval.

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