April 17

[VISUAL ART] Mr. Splash starring Nicolas Cage and a bottle of ketchup

Nicolas Cage has been making increasingly erratic and poor movie choices for some time now. Back in the 90s, for the now defunct artlick.com project, myself and my friend Dave had this mad idea of creating marketing materials & collateral for a buddy road-trip movie, where Cage would star as himself opposite a bottle of ketchup. We wanted it to be just odd enough to seem almost a plausible choice Cage would make. We really got into it and the final mugshot movie poster Dave created up above is an absolute gem – a proper work of art that belongs on a wall – and I would dearly love to see this movie. Presenting Mr Splash…

 

The idea began I think over lunch one day when we spilled some ketchup on the table and Dave took a photo of it with our trusty digital camera. Somewhere between that moment and our mild obsession with quirkmeister Nicolas Cage as an actor, grew this idea, which was quite simply one of the most fun creative things we ever brought to life. It spawned such a world for us as we explored it, including a whole backstory and history, as well as a visual identity that we gave a lot of thought to.

We were very interested in getting the right look and feel for this sort of creative project, so it became important to us to test different variations of ideas and styles for the fake film we were constructing. We landed eventually on the teaser poster above, but we did toy with the slightly more cartoonish noir one below for a while, but eventually discarded it.

With the visuals starting to take shape, we spent ages (probably far too long) cooking up names for the cast and crew of the movie. I have very vivid recollections of being very precise and specific about this absurd list of contributors, but that level of detail ultimately helped us bring the creative world it lived in to life. There was a particualr moment of giddiness about deciding the score was written by someone called simply “Barkley”, which somehow was a nod to the legendary composer Vangelis. Which then led to us deciding that Vangelis was actually going to make his debut as an actor in the movie! (alongside a rather eclectic international cast, which you can see in the mugshot poster at the very top of this post)

 

As part of this extensive world building, we then decided to present the archival materials and content from the film on artlick.com as an exclusive peek into the library of self-proclaimed film historian and auteur  (and crushing bore) Raymind Runn, a personal friend of the film’s director. Below is the elaborate, self-indulgent, and deliberately poorly written introduction we used to present Mr. Splash on the website.

There are other fragments that I can unfortunately no longer find, including a memo from the movie producers outlining a series of changes they required in order to complete the financing of the movie to completion – with ludicrous requests like demanding that it be 17% more funny; adding a scene where someone eats sushi, because people love sushi; giving Nicolas Cage or the bottle of ketchup a catchphrase.

Like so many of the things we created for artlick, we really went deep into the details, and went super specific to our own sense of humour, in the hope that others would follow. And if they didnt, that was ok, because we had an absolute blast piecing it together. Which feels like a good rule of thumb in general for most creative endeavours. It will find an audience. Even if it doesn’t, enjoy it. You might end up with something as funny and simultaneously cool as this poster!

April 16

[INSPIRATION] Neil Gaiman on the art of editing

This quote has always resonated deeply with me. As with so many writers, I much prefer rewriting over the act of writing. That first draft of something can be such a tough thing to create, but I love coming back to it and starting to chop away and reshape it into something. Editing is such an artform and if you have trusted friends and fellow artists who you can bounce ideas off in that editing phase, then that is an absolute gift. When it comes to writing, listen carefully to what they say and feel about it. But always keep Neil Gaiman’s words in your mind. If you are hearing regular comments or feedback about a specific section, then clearly there is something going on there that is not connecting with the audience. But only you will have the perfect solution for the thing you are creating. At least that has been my experience.

As a sidenote, many of my friends had been recommending Neil Gaiman to me for ages, and last year I finally took the plunge and read Neverwhere in a few days. I loved his ease with rich details and sharply drawn characters in that quirky fantastical version of London. It was a world I was quickly able to immerse myself in. I found out afterwards it had been written originally as a TV series by Gaiman along with my childhood comedy hero Lenny Henry, so it seemed like the universe was bringing me into a world where many of my heroes congregated in the same corner. I love it when things like that happen.

April 15

[INSPIRATION] Take a leap of faith with your creativity

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I’ve been thinking about creative patterns and behaviours a lot recently.

So often we follow tried and trusted paths for our creative pursuits. It’s easier. It’s comfortable. It works.

But sometimes it’s worth taking a chance. A risk. Doing something a bit new. A bit unexpected. Something that might even be a bit scary.

And there is never a right time for that. Do it now. Begin it now.

April 12

[INSPIRATION] 7 internet phenomena and slices of musical lunacy you really should witness


The Internet is a curious and marvellous playground of ideas and oddities. Here are 7 of the strangest “musical” YouTube phenomena currently racking up the views right now. Warning, these will worm their way into that part of your brain that refuses to let go of things. I prescribe a lovely strong dose of Wilco to remedy any ill effects. But for now, click and enjoy…

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Interior Crocodile Alligator

Our resident Brownbread Mixtape sketch troupe The Brownbread Players performed a sketch entitled “An Actual Conversation on YouTube” which chronicled a series of real comments and volleys of abuse about this YouTube clip. The sketch got a great response and we even began communicating with some of the commenters mentioned in the clip. We asked them all to send us a clip that summed up YouTube for them and we were sent the remarkable Interior Crocodile Alligator. Our life has basically been complete ever since. So, thank you YouTube commenter “wHeNiPoOpSuMmItDiEs”. You sir, are destined to go to heaven in a Chevrolet Movie Theater…

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Double Rainbow Song

So, this hippy goes out to Yosemite and sees a double rainbow. He decides to film this Double Rainbow and as he does so, he passionately describes the intensity and overwhelming feelings that wash over him. Perhaps he is really in touch with the universe or just hitting the pipe. Either way, it makes for a really funny monologue as he gets more and more into it. 38 million people seemed to think it was amazing too, as the clicks racked up on YouTube. Then, some folks decided to take his ramblings and remix them into an electronic song and , hey presto, the Double Rainbow Song was born. Along similar lines, please take a moment to hear  the remarkable story of Kelly and Antoine Dodson, which was then transformed into a remixed song version that became a massive YouTube phenomenon (ca. 77 million views), culminating in Antoine Dodson himself singing the song on the televised BET Awards on American television.

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Chocolate Rain

117 million people have watched this dude, Tay Zonday, sing his original song “Chocolate Rain”. Yes, 117 MILLION! Nothing more than a dude singing a song in front of a mic, pausing to take a breath occasionally (which he describes in his textual running commentary), a few cutaways of a piano being played. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it. Utterly baffling but a true internet phenomenon. I hope he is loaded now and bathes in big tubs of chocolate rain every night.

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Friday – Rebecca Black

Unless you have been living under a digital rock for the past few years, you will have heard about the runaway success of this irritatingly catchy and preposterously bad song, Friday, as “performed” (auto-tuned) by 13 year old Rebecca Black. Perhaps more embarrassingly, the song was actually written by a pair of grown men, not the tuneless kid herself. Yet, in the space of approximately three weeks it picked up almost 70 million views on YouTube (now a whopping 120 million). So, clearly they are doing something right, or we are all doing something very wrong. It has also, in true internet fashion, spawned several parodies, reinterpretations and remixes; the best of which is undoubtedly this genius Bob Dylan version. Then, of course, Bob Dylan wrote every popular song ever recorded for the past 35 years. Every single one.

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Trololo Man

This dude, Edward Khil, wanders around with a permagrin singing “trololololololo”. The natural result is that millions of people click and share it. Don’t try to understand why. As Clooney said in O Brother Where Art Thou: “It’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart”.

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2001 A Space Odyssey : School orchestra performance

A student orchestra called Portsmouth Sinfonia comprised of non-musicians (no shit!) got together to perform Thus Spake Zarathustra, the atmospheric, portentous opening to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001. Their version is not quite as good as the original. In fact, it is better, but for more comedic reasons. At least the drummer got it right.

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Badger Badger Badger

Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger…. An absolutely bizarre (and ultimately irritating) video featuring a series of animated badgers doing a mini-workout followed by images of a snake and a toadstool. It really cannot be described or fully understood without seeing it. Over 8 million people were prepared to sit through it. It spawned the infinitely superior Christmas Badgers video which features a guest appearance by JC himself and some presents. Hallelujah!

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Dude singing Carmina Burana and smoking in the shower.

Basically this guy is a total legend.

April 11

[WRITING] The Sentence

I love words. It is the world I am most happy in. And poetry is my favourite written form.

Some years ago I was asked to perform some poetry at a spoken word night in Dublin and I decided to play with the very idea of writing itself, and the end result was this poem that toys with ideas of writing and language.

It was a poem I spent many hours crafting and rewriting. The end result is a poem I really love.

the sentence

I'm trapped inside this poem, sentenced to burn in here alone.
Which means that for the next 30 lines it’s my unwanted home.

High time then to plot my escape clause from this overheated verse shaped box,
starting by making a ladder from dangling participles and some missing socks;
glue it together with predicates deconstructed carefully in their prime,
then bind up each end with the finest scented romantic metred rhymes.
Then, step by step deconstruct it and hide it under my pillowy upper case,
then for a while bide my time, take a beat ... every sentence needs its space.

Then as the following few unfolding lines presently grow tense and taut,
the next phase of my escape plan begins out in the yard of discarded thoughts.
I assume a pseudonym and then flip the silent “P” around
like a spoonerism and use it to dig a tunnel down underground.
Then with one hand scatter colons carefully to cover up the hole,
with the other I dust pocketfuls of unusèd accents that I stole.

Then back inside the structure to set in motion this poet’s plans,
but first I kneel, dot my eyes and cross my tees with shaking hands.
So it begins like this, I divert attention by twisting palindromes inside out,
"Name no one man, Madam I'm adam"; I roar out loud and shout.
No you're not", says the onrushing guard, pushes me back up 'gainst the margin hard,
he grabs an @ symbol, calls for back up, the grammar police are now alarmed.

Seizing my moment, I carpet diem, pull the rug from under them all the way,
make haste, cast my ladder out, soon running across thoughts faster'n I can say
"See you later poem, I'm heading for the margin,
Where sweet letters bulge and new ideas barge in!
Scrambling letters in my wake now, dashing towards the hyphenated end-goal,
In I slide footers first through the peering freedom shaped escape hole.

Once free of the poem and outside those lines I'll assume the case to be,
that I’m in a position to begin a subjective textually liberated life that’s free.
And as memories of the sour sentence fade into a sweet footnoted tome,
I will rewrite all my cold first drafts, no longer trapped inside this poem.

[Kalle Ryan – 12 Jan 2010]

April 2

[VISUAL ART] Charcoal portrait by my father

Spotted this the other night as I was flicking through one of my dad’s final sketchbooks. To me this sketch is a haiku that folds a whole universe into it. This was the last time he drew me and it is a great snapshot of a fond moment. Drawn on a sweltering humid day in the apartment I was subletting in Brooklyn. The air conditioner was broken, so we cracked open some ice cold Red Stripe beers we picked up at the Jamaican corner store. He sketched with charcoals while I played Bob Dylan songs badly. His hand starting to tremor already, but his eye still keen, and the lines still quite certain. By the next summer when he came to visit me, he was unable to draw any more due to his illness and he filled his days going to the Met and the MoMA to marvel at the masters instead. Happy times.