Steampunk Orrery #1


Holiday prep. Work. Family. Friends. Storefront. Art. Steampunk.

These are the things which have been keeping me uber-busified o’er the last couple weeks. The pace holds no promise of letting up anytime soon.

In addition to our monthly stint in Atlanta & keeping stock for the massive bi-annual sale at www.grandviewmercantile.com, my partner and I will also be taking part in a six-artist exhibition in January. That’s.a.lot.of.stuff.

The Mansfield Art Center www.mansfieldartcenter.org asked Lucah to participate in a reclaimed objects show. In our business, we always incorporate vintage and antique items. But this venue allows us to push things further. Since it is mainly an art exhibit [with the potential for selling] we can focus on artistry over marketability. This is a welcome break from the question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of every project: What do I need to do to this piece in order to make it sell–quickly?

With that question eradicated from the equation, a new batch of them takes its place: How effin amazing can I make this piece? How far can I push it? What have I been aching to create but haven’t allowed myself to? What phenomenal piece of art can I dream up and execute?

In the theme-planning stage, Micah and I decided on a steampunk vibe. We further decided to make sure we incorporated gadgetry, moving parts, and taxidermy. Alright! Now we’re talking. Freedom to make some whacked up, ass-kickin’ art.

One of the first ideas to begin churning  in my mind was an orrery. Being a science geek and an artist, an astronomical model meshes both of these facets of Lucas. I’ve always wanted to create an orrery, but simply have never set out to do it. This exhibition booted me in the ass to finally make it happen. And since it is “art”, it doesn’t even have to represent a real solar system. It can totally exist as a fantastical place which spins and orbits only in my imagination.

Working with 100% recycled/reclaimed/antique/vintage materials, this is what I came up with:

 

Orrery #1

Orrery #1

 

Orerry (16)

Orerry (19)

Orerry (23)

Orerry (24)

Orerry (30)

 

Some of the components which make up this piece: antique globe stand, antique hand drill, cash register components, vintage croquet balls, iron, aluminum, steel, copper.
Cranking the hand drill rotates the steel sphere & aluminum ring. The large gear from which the other planets are suspended can be manually rotated. The mounting armatures can be swiveled or extended.

I titled this piece “Orrery #1” because I know that it is the first of many I will create. Now that the seal is broken, this thing is on.

Over the next couple days, I will post images of other projects we are working on for the exhibition. Specifically, a pair of “Prohibition Radios” complete with secret compartments, and a series of in-process images of the transformation of a mangy, balding, taxidermied bear into a battle-ready, copper-armored warrior.

And, oh yeah, happy holidays and shit.

 

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100 lbs of Tacos


Choose the Tacos

Choose the Tacos

You know that old joke-riddle:
Which weighs more, a hundred pounds of feathers or a hundred pounds of hammers?

The first time we heard it, our minds instinctively ran to the common-sense place where quickthink logic superseded actual logic. Hammers are way heavier than feathers. So, hammers weigh more.

But then we realized: No, dumbass, 100 lbs is 100 lbs.
The hammers and the feathers weigh the same.

Tricky.

Let’s extrapolate that a bit. I wonder how often that common-sense, quickthink logic overrules the better, more accurate kind in everyday life. I’m guessing a lot.

How many decisions do I make throughout a day where I come up with a quick, logical answer and run with it? What if I had slowed down and weighed that decision to make sure it was the best one–the correct one–instead of merely the quickest one to pounce on me and dig its claws in?

Hammer answers come quickly enough.
And a lot of the time, they are wrong.

[Now, I could very easily branch off here, take the idea of ALL THE CHOICES and go into thoughts on multiverses, many-world theory, and the like. But I won’t. I’ll focus. I just wanted you to know that I weighed that decision and chose not to take that path.]

So, decisions/answers/choices. The first one to pop in my head is not always the best one. I’m guessing the same is true for you.

George punches you in the nose.
Stunned, you blink through the surprise, tears, pain, and anger to confront the asshole.
He says, “Your move. What you gonna do next?”

Visceral responses flash in your mind: uppercut, leg sweep, groin kick, fist to the throat, chainsaw.
Then [maybe] your pulse slows and you try to remember why George punched you in the face in the first place.
Maybe you shouldn’t respond with hammers, but with feathers.

Or maybe both those answers are wrong.

I still hear folks being all butthurt about writers writing blogs about writing.
Cater to your future readers and fans. Build a fanbase of non-writers.

That shit is whack. I make this choice: to write what I want to write about. And, right now, I love writing.
So, I choose to write about whatever pops in my head. And often, like today, those thoughts drop breadcrumbs towards the topic of writing.

Like this: I make my characters not choose the answer of “hammers”.

1) It is wrong
2) It is boring

When drafting a scene, obvious choices appear for the characters. I could easily enough have them follow that path down the predictable. But it is so much more fun to have them go another route. I ask: What if they chose feathers instead? Or what if they got the answer correct and said “neither”? Or what if they said, “Eff the feathers and the hammers. My answer is tacos.”

This kind of character decision-making makes for a much better story. More excitement. More punch. More tension.
Nobody wants a snotty MC who always gets it right–who always makes the safe, correct choice. We also don’t want them to make the wrong choice if it is glaringly obvious that they most likely will.

In other words, take the time to weigh the choices at decisive moments in your narrative. Sometimes, you might need to go the feather route, sometimes the hammer and chainsaw way, sometimes send your characters down the path of 100 lbs of tacos.

And don’t stress, the revision stage is where you can explore the multiverse idea of the path not taken.

[Ha! I slipped the topic back in again. Because I chose to.]

CHOOSE ALL THE TACOS.

Birthday Presents Wrapped in Christmas Paper Suck


Tubesocks are not a very good Christmas present

Tubesocks are not a very good Christmas present

After the maelstrom that was NaNoWriMo, I believe it’s time for a personal post. Those can be tricky. [Apparently?] I see so many people who wear a kind of online ambiguity mask or something. You know, they Tweet about ‘the man’ or ‘the kid’ or create aliases for their family members. I read blogs where the home location is left intentionally vague—like the author is in the Witness Protection Program or something.

I assume this is for protection? Or privacy? Sure, there are stalkers and psychos hunting folks down, but come on. I have four words: too many Lifetime movies.

So, what shall I rant on / divulge today? Well, the holidays are here. That’s a pretty boring, overdone topic. Although, I could post a how-to video on creating your own 7′ store display Christmas tree using scrap wood, a nailgun & diluted acrylic paint. Eh, maybe just a picture:

Total cost to construct: 25 cents. Ornaments are antique items for sale.

Total cost to construct: 25 cents. Ornaments are antique items for sale.

Okay, here’s a conversation topic that is often broached around this time of year. My birthday is on December 25th. It’s pretty much a non-event nowadays, but as a kid, it totally sucked. Here’s why, as filtered through the mind of a little, bratty Lucas. [Who, at that time, was known as Benjie.]

1. Birthday presents wrapped in Santa paper are  stupid. Return of the Jedi would be way cooler. Who wants a birthday present (unless it’s an awesome Transformer!) wrapped in the repeating image of some fat, bearded guy?

2. Pecan pies—with candles inserted—are poser birthday cakes. They’re not cake. They’re pie. My brother got his own, personalized cake in June. At the park. Not in Aunt Joyce’s old-lady-smelling sitting room.

3. Everybody gets presents. And a most of them are waaay better than the hokey birthday junk I got. Probably because you spent all your money buying fancy Christmas presents.  We all get to open stuff. On this special day. My birthday. :: pout ::

4. Dual-purpose presents suck pinecones. “Now, Benjie, this is for both your birthday and Christmas.” Also, “3 pairs of the socks are for Christmas, and the other three are for your birthday.” Thanks, grandmama. I love striped tubesocks.  :: big, fake hug ::

Yeah, I want to pop bratty Benjie in his mouth too. Of course, he was raised right [as the saying goes down in Pine Level, NC.] For the record, little Benjie never got mad at baby Jesus or anything; it wasn’t his fault. And sharing a birthday with, like, the Savior of the world was kind of special in its own way. [No, no. We won’t go into the actual pagan origins of the celebration date right now…]

As we get older, holidays become more about checklists and schedules and trying to please everyone. Overspending, stress, a strings of lights which stops working AFTER all the ornaments are on the tree, etc, etc. We get busy about juggling how to make it to all the different family members’ homes for the celebrations. Divorced parents make this harder. In-laws make it harder still. Divorced in-laws? That’s stab-me-with-a-reindeer-antler hard. [Because, you know, they’re not even pointy…]

While the bratty, selfish part of Benjie has [mostly] grown up, there is a facet of his personality that still lives all childlike and innocent inside me. Benjie was sentimental, nostalgic, willing to forget about the Christmas-Birthday heartbreaks and find the magical moments in the holiday.

I know, I know. Christmas Magic. So trite. Melodramatic. Pretty damn Lifetime movie in and of itself.

But it’s truly a characteristic of mine. I could try to wax poetic and express it in soft-lit, quiet snowfall terms. Instead, I’d like to reference a movie. You’ve all seen it. Probably quintillions of times. Most people love it, but I do know a few [idiots] who detest it.

A Christmas Story.

With Ralphie’s obsession for a Red Ryder, the evil Scut Farkus and his toadie: Grover Dill, flagpole licking, deranged Easter Bunny pajamas, the glow of electric sex gleaming in the window, and Randy laying there like a slug. How can anyone hate that flick?

It’s un-American. And downright blasphemous.

Beyond all the amplified, nostalgic imagery, there is a scene that speaks to the good, wholesome kernel of little Benjie inside me. It’s towards the end when Mom & Dad are chilling by the tree with their Christmas wine. It’s quiet. The snow is falling. The tree is glowing. All is well.

I look for those moments each Christmas. Those gentle moments make little Benjie—and adult Lucas—all squishy inside. During those times, there is no selfishness over pecan pies or tubesocks. There is just that serenity that nestles in if I allow it.

And I always let it in.

Well, I went to the Christmas Magic place in this post. That was unexpected, but I’m alright with it. But what would a good post be without a nice punch at the end?

How about a clip from the Chop Suey Palace Co?

Fa ra ra ra ra

Happy holidays. And may none of your presents be wrapped in birthday paper.