This was a nice moment. Niece Devin came over today for a couple of hours while her parents had things to do. Near the end of her visit, we sat together at my drafting table discussing what to do next. I started to doodle a monster. She just jumped in and started to color it. We didn't talk about what we were drawing. We talked about other stuff. The drawing just happened, she added feet while I added the horns and so on. As I drew the curly tail of the thin monster, Devin leaned her head on my shoulder and placed her little hand on my forearm watching. In that brief second all was right in the world. She then added the curly stick arms. Soon, we both just put the crayons down at the same time, without a word, the work was finished.
"Can I open those Star Wars toys"? she then asked.
So ended the nice moment as I tried explaining to Devin what "mint" condition means.
Yes, he is BUDDY the dog I wrote about once on this blog. We have officially adopted him as being foster parents proved more difficult and a story to tell one day. After a long list of possible names with much debate he is now - GROVER.
He still loves to chew up anything in sight but never any of his "chew" toys and yes, Chewie was a possible name. The damage list so far ...
- a vintage 1980 Empire Strikes Back "Taun Taun" action figure.
- the battery charger for my cell phone.
- a brand new plastic water/food bowl.
- a stack of plastic cups.
- 2 gardening gloves.
- 4 paint roller pads he found in the garage.
- one of the Fiancee's sneakers.
- a candle.
Not too bad knowing young dogs love to chew stuff. I did not expect him to be a landscaper though. Sure, maybe a hole or two in the backyard... but this?
I forgive him. I understand the need to re decorate when you move into a new place, especially finding yourself a favorite corner...
Welcome to your new home GROVER and don't chew on those smaller things that go "meow" that may cross your path in the living room.
From what I read and hear now it's SOLD OUT and I don't want to make the long drive just in hope of getting a ticket. Oh well, next year.
It's great to see how comics and the like have become mainstream... a respected actor like Ed Norton is going to be Bruce Banner in the next HULK film, not to mention Michael Caine is now Batman's Alfred. IRON MAN and SPEED RACER (yea, not a comic, but a close cousin) are two big movies in the future people are buzzing about. Greats like Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman are names the non comic fan know. I once dreamed this stuff to be taken serious as a kid.
In 7th grade our teacher asked each of us what 3 things or possessions would we try to save in a fire. I said...
"My comic books and..."
but before I could list the other two, the whole class started laughing at me. It hurt but I never changed. I remember in High School being caught by the "cool" kids as I left the HERO'S WORLD comic book shop at the White Plains Galleria. Yea, I got made fun of. College was great being an art school, comics were seen more of an art form ( but there were some elitists who saw it as lower class work).
It's sad to me it took Hollywood embracing comics so they could evolve as accepted literature with a whole aisle to themselves at Barnes & Noble. Yet, it's nice to think that kid's now a days don't have to hide their love of them like I did.
Long before they were the big "must see" movies by everyone...below is the best Hollywood could offer a comic book fan when I was a kid and was "must see" TV...
Among others, I imagined what the Fiancee, my Brother and Niece would look like in Springfield...
How great is that? Man, I had a crush on her in "Raiders" and she really was the best foil/love interest Indy had in all 3 films. I'm getting too wound up and excited for a movie still 10 months away! I screen grabbed the above picture from www.indianajones.com
I found out the glow could be seen from space...
Tonight I'm going to try reading by the light of my shins.
What he sent me below does not surprise me at all. Rene wrote...
"To your point (on ghosting):http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article2116195.ece
In one episode Grylls, was shown apparently building a Polynesian-style raft using only materials around him, including bamboo, hibiscus twine and palm leaves for a sail.
But according to Mark Weinert, an Oregon-based survival consultant brought in for the job, it was he who led the team that built the raft. It was then dismantled so that Grylls could be shown building it on camera."
One fun piece I designed and made was an OM symbol for a homeowner's decor.
Watch the video clip on how to make it from the show, it's on this page about the episode, click here... Faux Stone Tablet.
Harry Potter... you really are magical!
She's not moving from that spot until the last page.
The final page is read and a much needed trip to the bathroom is taken. The TV has not been left off for this long in ...well...I can't remember.
Voldermort has left the building.
Who was this stuffed animal head (the one to the left) and how was it mentioned in the 1987 RISD class yearbook?
What's the story on these three looking like extras from an Oliver Stone film?
Why did I need to blur the fingers in this photo?
What kind of summer job makes two good friends come to blows?
Who are these two?
Why are these guys in a desert 2000 miles from Rhode Island?
The answers to these questions and more will be told in the coming weeks.
But then, I saw the comments some have left. I appreciate that people read this blog and took time to comment. So instead of erasing and pretending I didn't write it, I'm just going to add a few thoughts.
I like working in TV. I'm happy my talents are appreciated and used. To be a "ghost" for others means they trust me to help them look good. That's a big responsibility. There are many "ghosts" in TV. The producers who often write the words that come out of people's mouths, the directors, camera folk, etc, etc. I accept that the job of being a "ghost" is allowing someone else to put their name on it. Doing this does pay the rent and I'm lucky to have the job.
TV hosts have too much going on day to day when filming. I and others are there because we have to be. The best TV hosts I have created things for are the ones when working with on a project get frustrated when they are pulled away to do "hosting" duties, like a kid being called inside for dinner during playtime.
The best can design and create what I do for them if they had the time. I learn from them as much as I create for them. We often work together in creating their projects. I'm helping them the way I've had some amazing talented people help me in creating a set or other stuff.
I've known hosts who refuse help and work late nights on their projects so they can be honest presenting it on camera. They feel guilty when I or another art dept. person steps in at the zero hour just to finish a small detail. Behind the scenes these rare TV hosts make it a real team effort. You share in the success and sometimes failure. I would build an ARK for these people, let them sign it and pretend to God they did it.
I'm sad to say, there are a few rotten apples. Because decorating TV has become so big a market, there are many people out there just using it as a stepping stone to fame and fortune. They have no real artistic talent or proven track record in the design field. They just have a good face
and personality on camera.
Some are frustrated actors seeing decorating TV as exposure and another credit to their IMDB page. Some are hoping to build an empire like Martha Stewart. They hire or use people like me to create a phony facade. A friend once said it best...
"We just created a page in their bogus portfolio".
I'm just frustrated with those "phonies" and the person I ran into yesterday was one of them.
Hours of my life have been spent walking an "actor" through the steps of what I created so they can regurgitate it on camera as their own creation and look good. Worse is, hours of my life spent walking experienced and real designers through the steps of what I created so they can regurgitate it on camera as their own and look good.
I was once afraid of telling tales on this blog about the phonies I have helped make successful. Today, I ran into one of those at a gas station...
I said "Hello".
They did not remember me and looked blank faced. I reminded them who I was and they said...
"Oh yea, call my office. I'm sure they will help you."
What the Hell? I just said "Hi" and have to degrade myself reminding them who I am? Why should I call their office? Do I call there for them to remember me working for them? What an arrogant ***hole! My head nearly exploded. I didn't need a hug or a "Oh my God, where have you been?" moment. I just expected to be familiar.
I designed and created numerous projects for them. The gloves are off...time to tell stories on all the "phonies" I helped!
Like many previous sets I did in the mid 90's, I went with foam core painted scenery (I was foam core addicted then). The SCI FI channel set budgets were extremely low. I mean really, really low. I was offered a non negotiable amount of money to create that included my own fee. The bigger my vision the less I got paid. As cheap as it looked, it could of been a lot worse had I actually wanted to pay a bill that week. As a matter of fact, the Christmas light night sky background walls and rooftop edge were parts from another set I designed for the same production company.
The producers were great though, not demanding much or micro managing the design knowing the budget so tight. There are other production companies I've worked for that locked me into the same deal and milked it till I made zero profit. Oh, I've got stories of to tell one day.
I wanted the set to look like a panel from a comic book... graphic, hand drawn, using bright and saturated colors. The wonky feeling was intentional. The clouds were spray painted on. The bat signal was a back lit, tracing paper skinned hole in the wall with a foam core emblem glued on. I made each building randomly, loosely thinking about size and scale to each other. It's hard to see in these pictures but it was lit in washes of color like the film was and helped the comic feel.
Even though, like all my old set design, I would love to go back in time for another crack at it, I think the set looked good. We had smoke drifting from chimney pipes, creating a nice atmosphere. The bright colors really transitioned well to clips from the movie. Host Mike Jerrick and his tongue in cheek humor held sell the cartoon feel. Looking back, my only want... I should of made the cityscape in better perspective.
Back in those days, money and time was always against me. I'd dive head first into creating the set as I designed it. It was a really great learning experience and trial and error period. Sad thing is, I've learned...even with a bigger budget and more time, nothing changes.
In 1995 Dick Crew Productions produced an episode about him for the SCI FI Channel "Masters of Fantasy" TV series which showcased icons in the genre. It was going to be hosted by director John Landis on a set I was asked to design. I was thrilled.
It had to have elements from all of George Pal's body of work, as a fan my head spun with ideas, but they also wanted to it to be installed and ready to shoot on in 5 days.
With time against me, I drew a quick set sketch that would be a large collage of well known and iconic images from Pal's films.
I imagined I would take old photos, get enlarged, printed, pasted on foamcore, cut out and artistically arrange on set. One day was spent researching the photos to use and making numerous calls to print shops. No one could make happen within the deadline I had at the scale I wanted. Day two was spent at Kinko's experimenting with enlarging images via the self serve copy machine and splicing together, it was too complex a task in the time allowed. Let alone the pasting on stiffer board and coloring.
Then it hit me, maybe the set could feel like an old illustrated 50's poster...thinking I could paint the images faster in the rough, quick style. I called the producers and they liked the idea. This is when I really screwed myself. I bought large foam core sheets, paint, fresh x-acto blades and a giant can of coffee to brew. 48 hours later with no sleep, it was done...
On the install day, the popular MTV show at the time "Singled Out" was filming on another stage. The audience line was in the hall outside our studio door. Everyone in the wannabe hipster crowd waiting to see Jenny McCarthy (when they came into eye line of our stage) had some "arm chair" art direction comment...it was a long day.
Set pieces were still wet as the film/lighting crew arrived and began setting up. The backdrop was hung in some haste but we pulled it tight looking good for the camera frame and ignored the corners beyond it. John Landis arrived on set and quickly pointed out the wrinkles in the corners. I was not going to argue. I jumped up to fix only because I could then add "worked for John Landis" on my resume.
Now, before the next part of the story, I must explain that for some reason almost every production I work on there is another person named Dave on it. People with like names are distinguished on set by their the name followed by the job, like "Dave Director" but I'm always just "Dave Lowe". Even in High School when others are called by last names in Gym, I was always...Dave Lowe.
At the end of the day John Landis liked the dragon I painted from Pal's "Wonderful World of the Brother's Grimm". He told the director he was taking it home. The director told him to ask "Dave Lowe", as I made it. I'll never forget seeing John Landis spinning around asking...
"Dave Lowe? Paging Dave Lowe! Dave Lowe? Who's Dave Lowe?"
I said "me" and he asked if he could have the dragon. I was beyond complimented and stunned. I stood silent for a second or two. Here was the director of Animal House and Blues Brothers asking if he could have something I made.
He noted my pause but took it as reluctant to give the dragon away. He said he knew I made it and worth more than just giving it away. He offered a picture of me and him in exchange for the dragon.
In the end the show aired without my set or John Landis hosting. I don't know why. I 'm happy though. Now that I've got years of set design experience under my belt, I cringe looking at the pictures. The set looked no better than a cheap knockoff of the lowest budget grammar school play in history. I'll give myself credit for the effort. I tried.
I did more craft making and styling for another round of Disney's Family Fun "how to" web videos last week. This time they were all Halloween themed (holidays come early in TV production) and included...
A skeleton made from 5 gallon milk jugs.
Small spooky trees made from twisted brown paper bags and little ghosts made from simple flour/water/salt dough.
A monster hand party favor, a popcorn filled plastic glove with candy corn fingernails.
Monster head decorations made by painting old 5 gallon water jugs with a deli container neck (base) and optional cardboard nose.
The final one (to the lower right of the picture) was a ghost chair cover. It's a simple white pillow case with glued on black felt details.
Along with some fun food projects, they all come together for a cute party. The videos will be online sometime in September. Visit www.familyfun.com.
Did you ever wonder what it would be like if Clifford the big red dog was on the planet Hoth and met a Taun Taun?
It would be total carnage.
While Buddy's here, I must never leave my office door open...
I hope the two other innocent bystanders forgive me one day. Ted, the shirt is cool....but what's up with the pants?
The real reason is... all the doctors say it's good for me to have a healthy routine.
It struck me, these stories should be fun for me to do and not feel like homework! Better to not post at all, than post with no heart!
Once home, I checked my e-mail. My friend Rene sent me a link to a short "behind the scenes" video from the new Indiana Jones movie in production. Click this to see...Indy getting geared up! Watching it 5 times over, it got me energized with an 80's nostalgic 2nd wind.
Tucked in between the pages of one of my old RISD period sketchbooks is this old promotional postcard.
The back (and the fun retro side)...
I often comment to my friend Megan Jeffrey about how much old stuff she has saved from those years and posts about in her "flashback Fridays". I had so many real and significant scrapbook items I never saved over the years...
and this is one thing I did save?
It has to be the final nail in my geeky dork boy coffin! My socially accepted geeky dork boy facade is Star Wars. My private one is Raiders of the lost Ark.
Looking back at my RISD years, Indiana Jones was always there...
A giant sized "Raiders" poster hung in my dorm room for a couple of years. I miss it...especially being a classic illustration by the late, great Richard Amsel. I have no idea where it is now. It's probably still rolled up in the basement storage at Congdon House. Left behind with much of my other stuff I forgot to take home to LA after graduating.
I had a really great "Indy " looking leather jacket that was worn almost everyday (even the rare warm ones). Combine it with the khaki safari shirt I had...well, I looked like a chubby fan at a convention like in this photo circa 1985 with Paul while helping Steve Gentile on one of his student films...
I had a fedora I got as a Christmas present from my Aunt Joan and Uncle Joe. I brought it to college and wore for fun often. Here I am with my brother Ted, Steve Miller and roommate Mark Nayden. Oh Man! Someone stashed booze under our freshman dorm beds again! Oh well, let's get rid of the evidence...
My buddy, Pete Whitehead, would put on the fedora every time he would hang out. Soon, it ended up in his room. Pete had one eccentric habit then... he liked to wear a goofy hats while working at his drawing board. The fedora became one of his favorites and it did look great on him. It became his. Sometimes he wore it on top of the gorilla mask he also often wore.