Drool on the Frog

Monday, July 31, 2006

Altered Books

Sue and I still didn't have a plan for our project this weekend. She brought over a couple of Somerset Studio magazines and we just flipped through those until something hit us.

Page from my altered book.Sue was captured by an article these personal journals that a lady taught. That segued into an altered book discussion. On one of my trips to Erin's house, we worked on altered books. I pulled the one out that I had started and showed it to Sue. I told her we could get some really great books at Goodwill for 50 cents or a dollar to use for altered books. Sometimes you could find big old dictionaries, encyclopedias or annuals. This was the idea we chased.

Chemin FaisantThe Family Treasury of Children's Stories, Book 1
When you have the idea of altered books in mind while at Goodwill, it's very hard to not buy everything they have! There are so many possibilities. I already had several (and one I hadn't even finished) so I limited myself to two: a 4.5" x 6.75" French reading comprehension book and an 1956 childern's story book. I put back an old Baptist Hymnal which I regret.

Un Perroquet Bien ÉlevéThe French book, Chemin Faisant, is a series of stories followed by exercises quizing you on what you read. Each chapter was graced by at least on of these fabulous 1966 retro line drawings by Gustave M. Nebel.

The Elves and the ShoemakerThe Family Treasury of Children's Stories is book one of a 3 volume set. It also has great illustrations by Donald Sibley. It includes rhymes, riddles, songs and games.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

We worked a lot with Lumiere paints, gel matte medium and old dress patterns. We tore, glued and painted. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of our work because My Geek had my camera.

I always enjoy working in a free form situation like this with other people because you learn so much. You get a new view point or see someone use a tool or technique in a new way. Sue's approach is so different from mine and that's perfect. I learn a lot in watching her work.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: Bubba Ho-tep * * * *

Bubba Ho-tep
Bubba Ho-tep
2002, Don Coscarelli
Drama, Horror
* * * *

Elvis: Ask not what your rest home can do for you. Ask what you can do for your rest home.
JFK: Hey, you're copying my best lines!
Elvis: Then let me paraphrase one of my own. Let's take care of business.
JFK: Just what are you getting at, Elvis?
Elvis: I think you know what I'm gettin' at Mr. President. We're gonna kill us a mummy.

Elvis & JFK team up This is one of My Geek's finds. It leans toward the T-audience (testosterone) but I thought it was a really great and funny film. It may be a risky pick for you ladies but, if you’re feeling adventurous, wild and crazy, I highly recommend this. I also recommend watching it with your guy friends.

One of the reasons I may not have been familiar with Coscarelli's work is that he is a horror/thriller filmmaker and that's just not my genre. His Phantasm series has a strong cult following.

The basic plotline of this movie I'll take directly from IMDB:

Elvis and JFK, both alive and in nursing homes, fight for the souls of their fellow residents as they battle an ancient Egyptian Mummy.

As you can see the possibilities are endless.

Set in the present, the film is narrated and taken from the viewpoint of Elvis (Bruce Campbell), who is now elderly and in Shady Rest nursing home in Mud Creek, Texas. Yes, Elvis is alive. I won't explain how because that’s part of the fun.

Elvin in a rest home Elvis is dejected and depressed. For the first part of the film he never leaves his bed. Why should he? No one believes he's Elvis, they treat him like a child, he has no hope of ever seeing his daughter again and he has what he believes is a cancerous growth on his "pecker" (a symbol of his emasculated, deteriorating life).

Elvis: My God, man. How long have I been here? Am I really awake, or am I just dreamin' I'm awake? How could my plans have gone so wrong?

A hearse in front of the rest home One night, an elderly resident is attacked by a giant, murderous beetle, which she easily mistakes for a Texas cockroach. From his room, Elvis thinks he witnesses the woman being dragged away… or is he just dreaming? The next day, we see a hearse taking away her body and begin to wonder if there's something malevolent going on at Shady Rest.

A hearse in front of the rest homeOn the night when Elvis battles the beetle himself, he teams up with Jack (Ossie Davis) who claims he too was attacked but by something entirely different. Jack, who insists that he is JFK even though he's black, does some research and concludes that the rest home is a snack bar for an ancient mummy soulsucker. For the first time in years, Elvis has a purpose, a reason to live. He and Jack set out to save the residents of Shady Rest from the mummy.

I don't know if the rest home was suppose to be creepy or not but it was. I think all the things that bother us about rest homes were incorporated so I had the willies even before the mummy showed up. The film is not terrifying and gory but wonderfully creepy.

One of the great things about this movie is its quality. The mood of the film is expertly achieved. Everything from filming, lighting, editing, costumes, makeup and sets are fantastic. Don't expect this to look like a B-movie. It isn’t.

Again, this is a T movie. There's some bad language and crude discussions of body functions. This typically turns me off but it's not what you would find in a teen movie where they are doing it just to see how gross they can be. The dialogue is the kind you would expect to hear from a grumpy old senior man in a rest home where inhibitions no longer exist. It makes sense. It's not crudeness for sake of being crude.

When checking on the facts about this movie, I discovered that there is going to be a Bubba Nosferatu again with Bruce Campbell and Paul Giamatti (Lady in the Water, Cinderella Man) as Colonel Parker! Once more, here is the IMDB description:

This prequel to Bubba Ho-tep finds Elvis shooting a film in Louisiana when he runs afoul of a coven of she-vampires.

I’m sorry, but that's funny. I think Coscarelli has a new cult follower.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lady in the Water * * *

Lady in the WaterYou may be wondering where our art project update is for this week. If you're not, what are you doing here? Movie reviews don't show up until Friday! But you're in luck. Since Sue and I couldn't think of a project to do last Saturday, we went to the movies instead.

So we were off: Sue, My Geek, our friend Valet Boy and me. I was very excited to see M. Night Shyamalan's latest, Lady in the Water.

Shyamalan is best known as the creator of the blockbuster The Sixth Sense. When the release of Unbreakable was announced, I couldn't wait to see it. It blew me away! I'll never forget over hearing two women talking about it one day.

"Have you seen that new movie by that guy who did Sixth Sense"

"Yes! It's awful. Don't see it. It's nothing like The Sixth Sense."

You know, Shyamalan couldn't win with lady. If he had done something just like The Sixth Sense she would have said he only had one story in him, why didn't he do something different.

If you watch Shyamalan's movies and think they are about big twists at the end or simply about seeing ghosts or an alien invasion, you're really missing the beauty and depth of his story telling. For instance, Signs is about faith: why you have it, what you have it in, how you lose it, and if you can get it back. Using the topic of aliens is, for the majority of people ;), an unknown and neutral subject. So when Shyamalan starts exploring faith, we're all on new ground.

All of us very much enjoyed Lady in the Water. It wasn't better than his previous films but don't let the bad reviews keep you from seeing it ("rampant foolishness", "pretentious", "boring, embarrassingly stupid, humiliatingly transparent, notably un-thrilling"). All these people seem to think this movie is about a fairy tale. But fairy tales have a message and this one is about purpose. Finding your purpose and being brave enough to fulfill it. Is this a great fantasy film? No, because that's not the category it's in.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: About A Boy * * * *

About A Boy
About A Boy
2002, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Drama, Comedy
* * * *

Christine: You will end up childless and alone.
Will: Well, fingers crossed, yeah.
Christine: Oh, no... it's just I thought you had hidden depths.
Will: No, no, you've always had that wrong about me. I really am this shallow.

In my review of High Fidelity I mentioned About A Boy since the same author, Nick Hornby, wrote it. While I'm in the Nick Hornby/romantic comedy mood, I decided to go ahead and write on About A Boy also.

About A BoyWill (Hugh Grant) is a rich, handsome, immature thirty-something whose only occupation is watching television, buying things and getting laid. He wants no relationships with anyone, including himself because "Once you open your door to one person anyone can come in." This is all threatened when, in desperation, a lonely boy picks Will as his male role model and friend.

About A BoyThe next female demographic that Will decides to exploit is single moms. On one of Will's single mom dates, she brings along her baby and 12-year old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the son of a single mom friend. He's a strange boy of unusual self-confidence and maturity. When dropping Marcus off at his flat they discover a terrible accident that causes Marcus to emotionally attach himself to the unattachable, unwilling Will.

About A BoyAs in High Fidelity, we watch the budding of a cad into a promising adult human. The bonus in About A Boy is watching Marcus brave the world of bullies, an unstable mother and first love more bravely than the adults around him. This film has as much wit as High Fidelity with added warmth. I enjoy watching Hugh Grant play a jerk much more than the million-dollar-smile, aw-shucks guy in Notting Hill or Sense and Sensibility. The juxtaposition of his tousled good looks to his smarmy pursuit of women is interesting and wickedly fun.

About A BoyThere are great performances all around including Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) as the single mom of a very angry boy and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) as Marcus' mother. A safe date movie. Passionate kisses, innuendo, lots of humor, and a guys perspective keeps this from being a unbearable Drew Barrymore-esque chic flic.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Iris Folding

sue making her square iris fold cardThis week Sue and I decided to do iris folding. A great stamp artist, Carolyn Hurst, taught me iris fold a few years ago.

I love this technique because the possiblities are endless and the results are so impressive.

sue's card
My mother taught iris fold back in Tennessee. Some of her students used ribbon and fabric instead of paper. Almost anything that's flat with a texture and/or pattern can be used in iris fold.

sue's card
They have immediate appeal because they're so beautiful and interesting. There are an infinite number of color and pattern combinations you can select and they will all look great.

rhonda's card
Instead of giving the exact instructions here on how to do iris fold, I'll simply direct you to a web site that has that info along with several patterns. There is a lot of info on-line as well as products you can buy. If you can't find what you need or have questions, just let me know.

rhonda's card
What I will give you here are my dimensions. I noticed in all the instructions I found each had different measurements.

  1. 1. RED card - 5 ½" x 11" folded to 5 ½" x 5 ½"
  2. 2. WHITE mat - 5" x 5"
  3. 3. BLACK frame - 4½" x 4½", width ¾" (hole is 3" x 3")
  4. 4. PAPER STRIPS - cut from 12" x 12" craft paper in 1" strips; fold over lengthwise about ¼"; one set will make 12 cards.

sue's card
I didn't set up the best lighting enviornment when taking these pictures. You can't tell how vibrant and beautiful the colors are. When Sue and I are working on Saturdays, we're enjoying ourselves so much I forget to take pictures until right before we're finished. Then I'm rushed.

rhonda's card
These cards aren't completely finished. I will stamp the background card with a geometric pattern in silver, gold or versmark ink. In the center square I will put textured paper or another geometric stamp. I will also stamp an object (coffee cup, flower, etc.), cut out and stick in the bottom right corner with dimensional tape.



Sue and I need ideas for our next Saturday project. We haven't come up with one yet for next Saturday. It needs to be something that we shop for and do in one day. If you have an idea and/or links to instructions, let us know.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: The Final Cut * *

The Final Cut
2004, Omar Naim
* *

Alan: There will be nothing I won't know soon.


The Final Cut is set in a future time when people can have a Zoe chip implanted in their brain to record everything they see – basically recording their life. The recording is strictly for private use. When the person dies the recording is edited by a technician called a cutter who creates a rememory of the person’s life for the surviving family.

Even though it’s a personal choice to have the chip implanted, there are those who don’t want to be recorded by someone who does. A more radical opposition group, rumored to be lead by an ex-cutter named Fletcher (James Caviezel), morally objects to the ability to record at all and protests at funerals when rememories are played. This group can often be recognized because of their elaborate neck, face and head tattoos. They use electrosynthetic ink that creates a magnetic field, interrupting the recording device.

Robin Williams plays Alan Hakman, a cutter who works for the Eye Tech Corporation. He is the best in his field. He executes his duties with excellent beauty. His own life is lived like a priest. He has no relationships. His life is his work. He doesn’t even go to an office; his cutting machine is in his home. He is stoic, accused of being "a man of marble". Choosing not to live his own life, he privately lives those of the recordings he watches.

Hakman and Fletcher knew each other from when Fletcher was a cutter. Fletcher’s disgust for the profession is the only thing that gets a rise out of Hakman. They are like the leaders of good and evil, but which is which? Each views himself as a respecter of life.

Fletcher is determined to bring an end to companies like Eye. He sees his opportunity when one of the lawyers for Eye, Charles Bannister, dies and Hakman is in charge of creating his rememory. Fletcher is convinced that there are skeletons in Bannister’s closet that will aid the opposition in bringing down Eye and all companies like them. He tries to convince Hakman to give him the recording. When Hakman refuses, Fletcher is willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

The Final Cut is very well cast. Robin Williams is a brilliant comedian, but as far as his films are concerned, his dramas (Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Insomnia, One Hour Photo, House of D) are far better than his comedies. Mira Sorvino has proven herself in the full range of genres (Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, The Replacement Killers) and James Caviezel has an intense commitment to his roles (The Passion of the Christ, Frequency).

I think this film has a great premise but the suspense of the story is flawed. It is a ridiculous idea that exposing Bannister’s disturbed personal life would ruin the rememory industry. Has the exposure of any executives’ porn or prostitute patronizing, drug addiction, or fetish for young boys has utterly ruined their own company, much less their entire industry? Whether or not Fletcher got his hands on this evidence was essential to the opponents’ initiative and that just seemed silly.

The film does most things well but not great. There are several great ideas presented but they’re not explored deeply enough to make an impact on the audience. The film is enjoyable but not memorable.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Butterfly Booklaces

Rhonda's booklaceMy friend Sue saw the Butterfly Booklaces by Brooke Hunter-Lombardi in the May/June issue of Somerset Studio and wanted us to make some as our Saturday project.

Basically booklaces are little books the size and shape of butterfiles on a long ribbon worn as a necklace.

The instructions in the article were pretty basic so there were some things we had to work out along the way. I took a trial run and made a little square book first using some quilt wrapping paper. I would send this one to my grandmother as a birthday greeting.

I used embroidery floss for binding the book and some beautiful varigated ribbon for the necklace. The pages are a text weight cream with a lilac dotted swiss for endpapers.

cover, endpaper and pages folded together
I cut a 4" x 3" piece of the quilt wrapping paper for the cover. Since the wrapping paper was so thin, I mounted it on some card stock. I then cut out one 4" x 3" end paper from the lilac dotted swiss and (6) 4" x 3" pages out of the cream text weight. I folded all the pages and cover to make a 2" x 3" book.

drill the binding holes
With the cover and pages assembled tightly, I clipped along the open edge with binder clips. Using a Japanese screw punch, I punched 4 small holes 1/4" from the spine. The instructions recommending binding the book using Japanese stab binding with waxed linen. I used the embroidery floss instead.

a little book necklace
The instructions indicated that you could thread the ribbon down through the threads of the binding. I didn't see how this was possible and, if it was, it would weaken the binding. Instead, I laid the ribbon along the spine and sewed around it when I did the stab binding. It was difficult to hold it in place but, once I got the first stitch in, it was easier.

Rhonda's butterfly booklace
When Sue and I got together, we each made a couple of books. Using the stamp I carved a couple of weeks ago, I stamped the inside covers of my book. The outside of my butterfly book (see picture above) is covered with Japanese lace paper. I hoped this would give it an organic look. Sue had an old beaded belt that I took a couple of strands from to make a tail.

Sue's square butterfly book

It looks like it's in motion
Sue creates a lot like my friend Erin. She lets the materials talk to her and just creates. Before starting, I completely plan out my project from beginning to end. When you compare our two butterfly books you can see the difference. Hers looks like a butterfly, like it's flying. Mine looks like a book. Organic vs. planned. I hope one day to be able to work more organically.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Top 5 (T5) Movie Lists

You may have noticed that in addtion to posting a weekly movie review I also, in the right margin, post a new Top 5 (T5) movie list. Each T5 is by genre (Action, Comedy, Drama, etc.) and is either my T5 or My Geek's. The 5 are not in any particular order. It's hard enough coming up with just 5 much less ranking them.

Eventually I will post my AllTime T5. This list is in progress and very difficult to come up with. You may be shocked to see what ends up in that list (e.g. you probably won't see Casablanca or Citizen Kane). My criteria for film is not the same as a critic's. My T5s are based on consumer parameters. I don't watch movies for a living; I watch them because I love movies. These are movies I like.

Any movie that appears on my AllTime T5 will not appear on any of the individual genre lists. Star Wars (I won't tell you which one yet) will appear in my AllTime list but not in the sci-fi list. It is definitely one of the best Sci-Fi films of all time but I think it is more than that. That's why it gets on the AllTime list. Terminator 2 is an T5 sci-fi film but not an AllTime film.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: High Fidelity * * * * ½

High Fidelity
2000, Stephen Frears
* * * * ½

Rob: Jon Dillinger was killed behind that theater in a hale of FBI gunfire. And do you know who tipped them off? His fucking girlfriend. All he wanted to do was go to the movies.
Barry: I wanna date a musician.
Rob Gordon: I wanna live with a musician. She'd write songs at home and ask me what I thought of them, and maybe even include one of our little private jokes in the liner notes.
Barry: Maybe a little picture of me in the liner notes.
Dick: Just in the background somewhere.

I am a huge John Cusack fan. You may remember him from as far back as Sixteen Candles, A Sure Thing, or the more famous teen love comedy, Say Anything. He’s had a steady, successful career ever since. He slips most seamlessly into romantic comedies but you’ll find him easily tackling drama, action and suspense.

High Fidelity is about grown up relationships. Relationships with friends, lovers and self. Being grown up means commitment, taking risks and trusting. Rob Gordon (Cusack) is not grown up.

At the beginning of High Fidelity Rob’s long time girlfriend, Laura (Ibem Hjejle), is moving out. It’s obvious that Laura loves Rob but is frustrated with his failure to launch. This break-up sends Rob into a tailspin as he tries to reconcile Laura’s reasons for leaving and his truly deep love for her. To make sense of it all, Rob takes a self-absorbed trip down memory lane revisiting past relationships.

Rob Gordon is the quintessential Cusack role. Rob is self righteous and self deprecating at the same time. He has exceptional knowledge and appreciation for music but he does nothing with it except to own an out of the way record store. Each of his romantic relationships ends quickly because the thrill is gone and his emotional commitment is mediocre. And he’s managed to find friends that share in his musical elitism but is terrified by their willingness to take a risk.

High Fidelity is funny and witty and is Cusack at some of his best. He even was one of the writers for the screenplay. It’s based on a novel written by Nick Hornby who also wrote About a Boy which was also made into a movie starring Hugh Grant. It too is funny and witty and one of Hugh Grants best films.

NOTE: Be sure to watch the deleted scenes on the DVD. These typically are benign and boring but there is one scene where a lady wants to sell her husband’s record collection that is brilliant.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Carving Rubber 2

Here are some cards and tags I've made where I carved all the rubber.

Egypt Anniversary cardEgypt tag 1.5 x 2.875

3 stamps carved for the Egypt card

Egypt Anniversary

I wanted to make a unique anniversary card for my sister and brother-in-law. They went to Eqypt for their honeymoon so I decided to use that as a theme.

I'm obsessive about authenticity so I did a lot of research for the couple I would use on the cover of the card. They are Akhenaten & Nefertiti.

I also carved the lily in the center. I stamped with embossing ink and then embossed with turquioise and copper. I used various art papers to make the card including papyrus. It's embellished with a turqoise disk and amber beads.

I needed Valentine's cards and a card for a nephews wedding so I made the following two cards. These are the first stamps I ever carved. Very sweet, very simple.

Two Become One

Two Become One

There are five different stamps used: the background block, large chiseled heart, medium solid heart, small solid heart and medium outlined heart.

I stamped using red and black Brilliance pigment ink and Versamark beige ink on ivory stock. It is mounted on a ribbed metallic paper attachd with brads strung with embroidary floss.

The text was printed on the computer. I find text EXTREMELY hard to carve.

AnniversaryHeart tag 1.5 x 2.875

Stamps used in heart cards

There are six different stamps used on this card. All the ones above plus the little block with a heart carved out of it (used in the bottom right corner). I simply stamped it nine different times alternating red and black ink.

Leaf tag 1.5 x 2.875Stamps used in the leaf tag

Leaf Gift Tag

To go with some of my cards I made matching gift tags. I had some beautiful cards in fall colors so I needed a leaf stamp. For the leaf gift tag I also carved a background stamp. The same stamp could be used as grass, a splash or animal stripes.

I stamped the background stamp multiple times on ivory stock with embossing ink and then rubbed with PearlEx powders. I stamped the leaf on ivory stock with embossing ink and embossed gold and then cut out with detail scissors and mounted with dimentional tape.