I've started a new project, inspired by the Family Circus re-writes, where I'm gradually re-writing one day of the 'Seattle Times' comics page. Check it out! I hope this counts as 'fair-use' and I don't get sued.

Follow this link to see it.



Is it just me or is British journalism (other than the BBC) kind of trashy and tabloidy? It seems like whenever Google News leads me to a non-bbc british news site it has an unusually, sensationalist, low brow feeling about it.

Romancing the past

I think most people tend to have a romantic view of the past, I know I do. I like to imagine having to go to the market each day. I like thinking about no one having cars so everything would be closer together, there would be more quite and more people walking around.
I think no category of people romanticizes the past more than conservatives. That is almost the definition of being conservative. In wanting to conserve the past and follow traditions it is implied that the best is better than today.
I've written several times about how strongly I disagree with the notion that we are less moral or ethical today than we were in the past (slavery, racism and sexism alone make me feel this way), but I think another area where conservatives tend to romanticize the past is in terms of freedom. There seems to be a sense that we are less free than we have ever been. I myself once held this view. It seemed that in the past people were much more free to do as they pleased without government interference. However, the more I learn about history, even recent history, I've come to feel the opposite.
I've recently begun making a list of crazy things from the past that I encounter. So far the list is short, but here it is:

~In the United States, during the First World War a person could be imprisoned for expressing disapproval of the war.

~While not officially sanctioned by the Government, tacit approval was given by not interfering or punishing those responsible: During the WWI, some people were dragged by horses down streets for not supporting the war, or being an Anarchist or Socialist.

~ During the early 1900's those who refused vaccines had police break down their doors and physically restrain them while vaccines were administered.

~During the Second World War, the tax rate for the highest income bracket was 90%.

(Plus all the things most educated folks are familiar with, like eugenics and women not being allowed to initiate a divorce etc.)

As crazy as some of these things may be, they aren't even from the ancient past, but the past 100 yrs, here in the USA.
Despite how short my list is, I think it illustrates a lot about that time period. If only one of these things happened today it would create outrage across the country. The fact that these things happened and were apparently not a big deal indicates that these type of events weren't uncommon in that era.

It seems that a lot of people, especially Americans tend to view all of the past as being just like the 'Wild West', with few laws and people. But in reality, most everyone has lived in close proximity to others and been restricted by laws and punishments since human beings first evolved. Humans are incredibly dependent on each other for survival and certain anti-social behavior has always been detrimental to the group's survival, requiring means to limit individual freedoms for the common good.

P.s. If anyone has anything else to add to my list, I'd be happy to hear it.


Grad School P.S.

One other thing about grad school.
I've had to exchange a few emails with the school and even received a phone call today informing me of a reception being held for incoming students and every single exchange I've had with anyone from the school since receiving my acceptance letter begins with "Congratulations!", which is pretty funny to me. But it also feels really nice. Because I realize that as excited as I am about it and as supportive and excited for me that other people are, they have their own lives to live so their enthusiasm can only go so far. Even Marissa has grown a bit weary of my constant talk of new reasons I've thought of for why I'm excited to have been accepted at Saic. But the one group of people who keeps the enthusiasm alive is the school itself, with their constant congratulations they make me feel as if I've won an Oscar. So Saic, if you ever come across this somehow, I want you to know that your constant congrats are both humorous and well received.

Blogging and puppies.

I'm happy to be blogging again. It feels good to have this outlet.
I don't have anything in particular to say right now except that I think the primary reason I haven't written in here is because of having a puppy. People who know me mostly online may not realize that I'm fairly slow at many things. Not slow as in retarded, but I tend to take a long time doing tasks. It usually takes me at least an hour and sometimes two to do the dishes.
How this relates to my blogging and my puppy is that because of my slowness I tend to require a lot of sustained concentration to write. Owning a puppy makes it near impossible to have long periods of sustained concentration, except when she takes naps and during those times I usually have other things I need to take care of.
As she (Margaret the puppy) get's older she is far more independent and has lower energy levels, allowing me the quiet and calm needed for me to think and write.
This is one reason I chose to pursue a career in art making rather than writing. Although the first couple months having a puppy I made no art at all, once she got to the point where she didn't try to attack and eat anything she saw, I was able to start painting again. While her distractions can make it more difficult to paint, they don't make it impossible like with writing. Since I need fairly particular conditions that can't always be met to write, I feel that it might be bad news if my livelihood depended on writing.

Overall having a puppy has been nice. I walk her about 4 miles a day, which has been great for me in terms of getting exercise and having something physically difficult I have to do each day. I've been listening to podcasts and books on tape while we walk and I often meet other dog owners who tend to be friendly but are occasionally very mean (one particularly mean guy actually grabbed Margaret by her harness, lifted her about 5 feet into the air and threw her onto the ground! This was at a dog park, not while walking. Marget was scaring his dog by chasing it (which is how dogs play) but she never even touched his dog. I still feel mad when I think about him)


Welcome back blogger and Graduate School.

As you already know I haven't written in here for a while. I'm not going to apologize about it. It always seems kind of funny when people don't write in their blogs for a while and make a big apology, as if everyone is so eager to read their words or that regularly writing in one's blog is something we are ethically obliged to do, making an apology is necessary.

I've had countless(not literally. I'm sure it could easily be counted. Probably under 100) ideas I've wanted to write about and have them written on various scraps of paper or notebooks, but for whatever reason I haven't had the motivation to write.
Also, since I hadn't written in a while, a part of me felt I should come back with something big, instead of just saying something like 'wouldn't it be funny if Steven Spielberg or James Cameron directed a re-make of Napoleon Dynamite next year?'

I do have big news, though I'm sure most people who read this blog are familiar with it. As you likely know, I've been in the process of applying to Grad Schools since late last year.
It has been a nerve racking experience. For reasons I later regretted, I only applied at top 10 schools. After i sent out my applications I became very nervous I wouldn't get accepted anywhere. I wasn't sure what I would do if that happened. I likely would have seriously considered giving up art as a career, taking the Gre and applying to grad schools for philosophy or writing and eventually getting my Phd after the 25 years or so it would probably take me.
It would be at least another year before I could even apply and in that mean time I don't know what I would do.

While it is common for our lives to hinge on one moment or event, it is rare that we can see this ahead of time. Usually it is in retrospect that we see our lives would be significantly different if only one thing were changed. But in this situation, I could see ahead of me the possibility that my life was going to go one way or the other. And one of the ways seemed very discouraging and boring.

It was while in the depths of my anxiety over not getting accepted anywhere that I received a letter informing me I had been selected for an interview at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Saic) through the painting program. I was VERY excited about this. Out of 500 applicants only 80 are interviewed. A few days later I bought a plane ticket to Chicago and later that very day I was surprised to received a second from Saic informing me I had been accepted into the Ceramics program. I had previously been interested in the school, but very disinterested about the idea of living in Chicago, but I went to my interview, it went great and I loved the school and liked Chicago. (That was in february. A few days ago I officially accepted my acceptance) Ceramics is fairly technical and I don't know a lot about glazes and kilns etc, but I would love to master it. Plus, I would really like to teach ceramics at a University, while the idea of teaching painting or drawing doesn't appeal to me as much.(not from any philosophical disagreement, I just enjoy the technical process of ceramics much more than that of painting or drawing) Plus, ceramics has changed a lot over the past decade in ways I love. It has become very experimental in terms of media used and not limited to clay and glazes, which is similar to how I currently work.

I am very very excited about this. If you aren't familiar with the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, it is ranked #3 by UsNews and World Report for Fine Art Mfa programs and was voted the most influential art school in the country by a survey of art critics. (since much of the value in art is how others perceive it, it seems the Usnews, which are based on peer rankings, carry more weight for art schools than other types)

Since art is so subjective I'm constantly unsure about the quality of my work. I know that I like it and I know I tend to get positive feedback, but I'm sure there are many terrible artists who have supportive friends that feel the same.

It feels nice to finally not be an underachiever in the school/work aspect of life. It isn't as if this was something that had bothered me before and I don't know if I'm any happier because of it and I was surprised myself how nice it felt, but it does feel good. It feels good to realize that the rest of my life (in that regard) will be a bit easier than it might have otherwise. I'm sure it will still be difficult, there are so many artists out there it can be hard to make a name for oneself, but having this sort of stamp of approval will hopefully open doors for me and make finding jobs and getting shows a less of an uphill battle.

Also, since I make art that isn't too realistic or appears to not be difficult, despite my spending enormous amounts of time on it, I feel that some people who aren't as familiar with art may have seen me as somewhat deluded in thinking I could be a professional artist and that having been accepted into such a good school helps them see that even if they don't appreciate my work, I'm not just making crap that everyone but me thinks is crap.

I'm still very conflicted about art making and my notebooks are filled with lists of the pros and cons of being an artist and my con list is always much longer, but I'm now feel fully committed to seeking a career as an artist and art professor and am very excited. I've been more interested in the lives of artists than I have ever been before.