Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Japanese Steakhouse in Hell

Japanese Steakhouse in Hell

Japanese Steakhouse in Hell (2004)

Sorry to have been scarce lately. Had comapany -- then had ongoing bouts of both flu and colds. Or maybe food poisoning. The symptoms started after a visit to a Japanese steakhouse. Watching a steady diet of Yakuza movies is apparently coming back to bite me.

Hope to get back to posting again soon -- just as soon as I can, well, stomach it...

Detail of: Japanese Steakhouse in Hell

Lower left corner detail of Japanese Steakhouse in Hell

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Vader on Vacation

Vader on Vacation

Vader on Vacation (2007)

This year Tonya will party down
at Helm's Deep. After car rentals, tummy
tucks at the Salem Witch Museum,
she plans for a better security

video. Carrying all that bionic gear
makes the whole Lord Vader thing look
silly. Our travel agent left bad maps
to the Death Star Bed and Breakfast

and all white plastic employees swap masks
for bermuda shorts and sandals. So I
showed my wife an ugly prequel. She left
me for a whiny emo kid with a raspy voice.

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Image light-sabered out of QuaSZ and mind-tricked to the max in Photoshop. Plus a found poem Yoda-levitated from Google phrase strings imperial-walked from pod races search strings of "vader on vacation."

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Turtle Sledding

Turtle Sledding

Turtle Sledding (2001)

Going into photoblog mode until the middle of next week.

Enjoy the images in a silent gallery until then.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Buff Rat

Buff Rat

Buff Rat (1999)

In the rare case an erection lasts for more than four hours, seek immediate medical attention.
--Television ad for Levitra

Uh-oh. Maybe a little too buff.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Guitar God

Guitar God

Guitar God (2006)

From BBC News:

Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitarist in rock history, according to a list of guitar greats produced by Rolling Stone magazine.

Hendrix set his guitars and the rock world alight with his versatile and vigorous performances before his death in 1970 aged 27.

He beat Duane Allman -- from the Allman Brothers -- to the number one spot on the Rolling Stone list.

But only two women were listed in the top 100 -- Joni Mitchell at 72 and Joan Jett at 87.

BB King, one of Hendrix's idols, was at number three while Eric Clapton was in fourth place.

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend -- himself ranked 50th -- wrote in the magazine that Hendrix "made the electric guitar beautiful."

One of Hendrix's shows was "so profoundly powerful" that he found himself holding hands with Clapton, Townshend wrote.

In case you're wondering, others in the top ten list were: Robert Johnson, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Chuck Berry, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Ry Cooder.

Once I heard Hendrix in the 60s, it was over for me, too. No more of that mellow peace and love folk stuff. I have preferred the scream and moan ever since. In fact, there's plenty of "guitar gods" I regularly enjoy -- but I could listen to JMascis of Dinosaur Jr. and Jim Thomas of The Mermen play for days on end.

DigitalDreamDoor did a similar list. Mascis came in at 199 (he wuz robbed!!). Thomas didn't even make the list. They both lost to Reb Beach of Winger (131). The injustice makes my ears bleed.

Detail of: Guitar God

Lower left corner detail of Guitar God

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Today's post seems like a good time again for another random music shuffle:

"Return of the Roughnecks" -- The Chameleons
"What Are Their Names" -- David Crosby
"Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp" (Live) -- Laura Nyro
"Doesn't Make It All Alright" -- Stiff Little Fingers
"Into the Blue Sparkle" -- Slacktone
"Anapse to Tsigaro" -- 3 Mustaphas 3
"Dr. Luther's Assistant" (Live) -- Elvis Costello and the Attractions
"Wild Turkey Surprise" -- Huevos Rancheros
"Spoilt Victorian Child" (Peel Session) -- The Fall
"Rabbit Fur Coat" -- Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Tarzan's Condo

Tarzan's Condo

Tarzan's Condo (2001)

Speaking of a broken fountain
renew your beach treehouse with trophy wives
and three more witches for Arsenio.
I gave him a cage and a mystery
to hook up. Swim to the halfway

point of advertised rhetoric. I knew you read
my white savior penthouse wrong. Grip
a crash pad sequel like savage fury
and retire your chic chimp sidekick befitting
a sports bar vacation. Hey Hey

We're the Cheetahs. Just yesterday
I had to stop Johnny Weissmuller from
forsaking a swing at my dad. So who
greased the vine? Maybe the same chump
now getting the shaft in the Tiki Room?

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A found poem macheted out of the darkest jungles of phrase strings swung around a Google search of "tarzan's condo."

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Friday, February 09, 2007

"O, be some other name!"

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

--William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I do like naming images. While it's true that viewers will stubbornly resist an artist's prompt and make their own meanings from images, I still enjoy suggesting places to start. Since many fractals are highly abstract, names can sometimes provide viewers with a kind of nudge to the forehead. Hopefully, this process is less obnoxious than those Head On commercials.

Names don't have to be overly prescriptive. Viewers will still see whatever they prefer. Or, of course, they can categorically resist and deep six any title you've labored for hours to concoct.

But names can be like those mannequin torsos found in style shops. They at least provide a working semblance to hang up some preliminary but pricy rags of meanings that viewers might eventually buy.

Names also hint at an image's "personality" -- possibly providing a snapshot of its heuristic psyche.

And that's where crucial artistic decisions come into play. These critical first impression snapshots often set the ground rules for an image's tone and mood. Without such delicate pre-viewing preparation, a viewer's response to your labor of love could be nothing more than a mumbled Huh?

Let's carefully consider a couple of new images fresh off the pixel press via a brief multiple choice examination. One of the following titles is the actual name I gave the image. The others are title wannabes and currently undergoing a severe existential crisis. Ready?

As David Letterman says: Please. No wagering.

The greatest purity is nothing or nothingness -- no thinking, no desiring, no imaging (Barry Long).

Who's my daddy?

What is the "correct" name for the image above? Is it:

(a) _____ Avoid the Fried Mushrooms
(b) _____ Ballooning
(c) _____ 1169995.8846 #7
(d) _____ Freak Out at Captain D's
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Snappier Title Here)

Makes a difference, huh? Yes, I suppose it depends on how much one wants to influence a viewer and what kind of feeling one hopes the image will project. The title candle sputters at both ends: sublime and ridiculous.

Since you're home on a Friday night instead of out carousing on a date, let's try another. You may open your test booklet now.

If all great minds thought alike, we'd be stuck in perpetual nothingness (Josh Holman).

What's my purpose?

What is the "proper" name for the image above? Survey says:

(a) _____ A Poor Choice of Plastic Surgeons
(b) _____ Someone Left the Play Dough Out in Rain and I Don't Think That I Can Take It Cuz It Took So Long to Bake It and I'll Never Have That Recipe Again OOOH NOOOOO
(c) _____ Bishop with Bad Thoughts
(d) _____ Fried Trannie
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Sappier Title Here)

Makes you feel sorry for Adam having to name those animals -- and without even Eve being around yet to help. I'm sure all the great masters went through dark nights of the thesaurus wrestling with their inner designators as they suffered for (naming) their art.

Consider this classic case. What should this iconic painting really be called? Take a shot:

Clem, tell me again that I look like Jennifer Aniston...

Are you ready for the country...?

(a) _____ The Nebraska Pitchfork Massacre
(b) _____ Proud Parents of an American Goth
(c) _____ Farmers Gone Wild!!!!!
(d) _____ Where's the Children of the Corn When You Need Them?
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Snarkier Title Here)

See? That just fine tunes the whole aesthetic ambiance. Seems to me that any old picture blah blah blahblahblah no matter how totally pedestrian and campy bloggity narf zort bloggity blogblogblog or how completely cartoonish yadda yoda yiddish yucky yaddayadda could be used to both illustrate if not elucidate blitherblither bluto biclighter blatherblatherblather my puzzling nomenclature crisis hypothesis zzzzzap zzzzzap zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Can I use your cell to phone home?

While. Foolish. Blogger. Rambles. On. Insipidly. Zoltar. Will. Just. Quickly. Borrow. This. Small. Item. From. Blogger's. Home.

...zzzzzzz zzzooorrrttt zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Go for it:

(a) _____ [Sung to the Quizno's Jingle] Ack Ack Ack Ack ... Good!
(b) _____ Still Life with Cranium
(c) _____ A Most Unexpected Aubade
(d) _____ Take Me to Your Viagra
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Zippier Title Here)

Well, that pretty much taps out my so-called thoughts and your endurance for one night. See you next time...unless...like... you know...you happen to actually... see my name under the post...before you start reading...or something...

[door slams]

[door opens]

Hi, Honey. I'm home. Man, what a tough night at the blog. I'm starv--

Uh, honey?

Sweetheart...?

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Key: Image 1: b; Image 2: c; Image 3: e; Image 4: Oh Who Cares.

Image 1 was made with Vchira. Image 2 was made with QuaSZ. Both were post-processed in various graphics programs.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Zen of Flake Food

The Zen of Flake Food

The Zen of Flake Food (2005)

He will not eat sinking
crumbs. Livebearer fry act
like ingredients too often.

A starter kit will elevate
dining experience to true
indulgence. Bulk product

or freeze dried both surf up
the sides of glass tanks. Abe
was just a fish like you

and bowed and chunked
while eaten formally with forks
that windmill. Buddhaism

boosts the amount of yang
should red grubs devour gardens.
Zen takes over and is all right.

Detail of: The Zen of Flake Food

Upper right corner detail of The Zen of Flake Food

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Image made in Fractal ViZion and post-processed in multiple graphics programs. Plus, a found poem netted from sinking wafers phrase strings hooked from a Google search of "the zen of flake food."

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Procession of the Robot King

Procession of the Robot King

Procession of the Robot King (2007)

Knuckle-dragging
main characters march in
electronic snow as bands blurt
sci-fi sounds. A giant

soul-grinding robot shifted
its big dumb face. I have dreamed of
what monks possess and what
wax figures lack. Velvet

cushions, desired positions,
artificial intelligence with whips,
pilgrims with ailing relatives,
and motor gods. No

slacking. Outrun twirlers.
Raw machine parts litter
the walls like circles of cogs
or dying Samurai. A figurine

of our metallic king will
sit in a rollicking armchair
and choose darkness. All knees
are scraped, horribly bent.

Detail of: Procession of the Robot King

Lower left corner detail of Procession of the Robot King

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A new image and a found poem welded together from scrap phrase strings stripped from a Google search of "procession of the robot king."

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Enemy Combatants

I have no right to an attorney...

Enemy Combatant 1 (2007)

"Put it all together, and last week's passage of the Military Commissions Act is ominous for those in the US. As Bruce Ackerman noted recently in The Los Angeles Times, the legislation 'authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any protections of the Bill of Rights.' The vague criteria for being labeled an enemy combatant (taking part in 'hostilities against the United States') don't help either. Would that include anti-war protestors? People who criticize Bush? Unclear."
--Heather Wokusch, "Now That You Could Be Labeled an Enemy Combatant," CommonDreams.org

I have no right to a speedy trial...

Enemy Combatant 2 (2007)

"KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST OF COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN: I want to start by asking you about a specific part of this act that lists one of the definitions of an unlawful enemy combatant as, quote, 'a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the president or the secretary of defense.'

Does that not basically mean that if Mr. Bush or Mr. Rumsfeld say so, anybody in this country, citizen or not, innocent or not, can end up being an unlawful enemy combatant?

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: It certainly does. In fact, later on, it says that if you even give material support to an organization that the president deems connected to one of these groups, you too can be an enemy combatant.

And the fact that he appoints this tribunal is meaningless. You know, standing behind him at the signing ceremony was his attorney general, who signed a memo that said that you could torture people, that you could do harm to them to the point of organ failure or death.

So if he appoints someone like that to be attorney general, you can imagine who he’s going be putting on this board.

OLBERMANN: Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?

TURLEY: It does. And it’s a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn’t rely on their good motivations.

Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is. What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.

It couldn’t be more significant. And the strange thing is, we’ve become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, Dancing with the Stars. I mean, it’s otherworldly."
--Excerpt of a transcript from Countdown with Keith Olbermann, 10-18-2006

I have no right to confront my accusers...

Enemy Combatant 3 (2007)

"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said that enemy combatants won't be released until the War on Terror is over -- and that the war won't be over until no terrorist organizations of potentially global reach are left in the world. 'We're going to cure the common cold before we extirpate political violence from the face of the globe,' says [Georgetown University law professor David] Cole. 'And in today's world, everyone has potentially global reach. So Rumsfeld is essentially claiming that the war on terrorism will last forever -- and that they have the authority to keep people forever, without any hearing, without any trial, even without any access to a lawyer.' "
--Miles Harvey, "The Bad Guy," Mother Jones

Habeas corpus doesn't apply to me...

Enemy Combatant 4 (2007)

"Even in the face of a federal court order insisting on an accused being allowed to meet with a lawyer in order to challenge his enemy combatant status, 'the government maintains that no court has the authority to review that classification.' 'To say that the Executive Branch on its own determination can pick somebody up and hold them indefinitely without any procedure or access to a court or counsel or the press is an absolutely staggering thought,' says Stephen Schulhofer, a law professor at New York University. Meanwhile, the Attorney General insists that misses the larger point. 'There are no civil liberties that are more important than the right to be uninjured and to be able to live in freedom,' Ashcroft recently told Time.

[...]

This arbitrariness of designating someone an enemy combatant simultaneously opens the door to illegal searches, indefinite incarcerations, cruel and unusual punishments, confessions by torture, and most any other reprehensible act you can think of that might arise from an evil and misguided regime. One striking example is the extension of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which created secret courts to review applications for domestic wiretaps and searches in the name of national security. This has now reached the level of the feds checking a suspect's library and Internet usage -- and simultaneously prohibiting a library employee from revealing to anyone [including local law enforcement agencies] that a patron is under suspicion."
--Dan Sewell Ward, Library of Halexandria

How long before I am disappeared...?

Enemy Combatant 5 (2007)

"It would be easy to dismiss the harm that has been done to our civil liberties in the past year. Most of us do not know anyone whose rights have been seriously curtailed. The 1,200 detainees rounded up after Sept. 11 and held in secret were mainly Muslim men with immigration problems. So were the people the government tried to deport in closed hearings. The two Americans who were labeled 'enemy combatants,' hustled off to military brigs and denied the right even to meet with a lawyer, are a Saudi-American man captured in Afghanistan and a onetime Chicago gang member.

There is also no denying that the need for effective law enforcement is greater than ever. The Constitution, Justice Arthur Goldberg once noted, is not a suicide pact.

And yet to curtail individual rights, as the Bush administration has done, is to draw exactly the wrong lessons from history. Every time the country has felt threatened and tightened the screws on civil liberties, it later wished it had not done so. In each case -- whether the barring of government criticism under the Sedition Act of 1798 and the Espionage Act of 1918, the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II or the McCarthyite witch hunts of the cold war -- profound regrets set in later.

When we are afraid, as we have all been this year, civil liberties can seem abstract. But they are at the core of what separates this country from nearly all others; they are what we are defending when we go to war. To slash away at liberty in order to defend it is not only illogical, it has proved to be a failure. Yet that is what has been happening.

[...]

As the Bush administration continues down its path, the American people need to make clear that they have learned from history and will not allow their rights to be rolled back. The world has changed since Sept. 11, but the values this country was founded on have not. Fear is no guide to the Constitution. We must fight the enemies of freedom abroad without yielding to those at home."
--Editorial, "The War on Civil Liberties, The New York Times (9-10-2002), seen on The Freedom of Information Center

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As I argued on an earlier blog post, I believe that fractals can be used as activist art. This post is prompted by today's "Virtual March Against Escalation" -- a national Internet protest designed to curb surging escalation of the Iraq War. I'm well aware that some of you will not agree with my point of view. And that's cool. Fortunately, the Constitution gives you the right to disagree with me and to say so -- unless, of course, you are declared an "enemy combatant."

Images 1 and 2 were made with Sterling-ware. Images 3, 4, and 5 were made with Vchira. All images were imported into various graphics programs and post-processed.

Please click on any image to see higher resolution.

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