Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dog Movie/Nicholas Sparks Folly...


I just got done crying my eyes out at the end of “Hachi: a dog’s story” 

Sorry—SPOILER attached if you are really into emotional masochism and want to watch this yourSELF…

I got sucked into watching this thing because 

a) one of my most recent jobs involves an Akita named Hachi and I was DOING RESEARCH even though I tend to hate Richard Gere in just about EVERYTHING, and then 

b) they sprung this EXTREMELY CUTE SHIBA INU PUPPY on me (trying to sell him as an Akita although they fixed their error later) and I thought, “Well, it’s only two hours out of my life…”

So an hour later, Richard Gere had died of a tragic heart attack after bonding with the puppy and having taken the train to work every day and then being met by the (now grown) dog every night. 

Then there was ANOTHER hour of the dog running away from his home in inconsolable grief and LIVING UNDER A BOXCAR.  AND EVERY AFTERNOON HE WOULD GO TO THE TRAIN STATION AND WAIT FOR RICHARD GERE TO SHOW UP.

FOR TEN YEARS.

Of course, at the end, the old dog is hanging out watching the train station door and RICHARD GERE DOES SHOW UP.  But it is just a sappy way of expressing that the dog died…there is no weird “Lost” finale vibe, which I found disappointing, although I could name a lot of people who would NOT.

Even with the sap factor, I’m sitting there crying like a baby, cursing dog movies and my folly in even WATCHING one. 

And Smokey, who is on my lap and is getting all wet from the tears, is glaring up at me and here’s what she’s thinking:

“You IDIOT.  IT IS ONLY A STUPID DOG.  You would think he WOULD HAVE FIGURED OUT THAT RICHARD GERE WAS NOT COMING BACK AFTER A YEAR OR TWO.”

But darned dog movies are ALWAYS the same.  I can’t pretend I don’t know what I’m getting into.  I mean:

  • Old Yeller
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain (not a movie YET, but I accidentally finished that book while changing planes and was CRYING all the way down the aisle of the second plane, while people were glaring at my husband, who had OBVIOUSLY MADE ME CRY…)
  • Marley & Me (didn’t even see it, but I JUST KNOW)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows.
  • Nights in Rodanthe  (Oops, sorry, no dogs in that one, but it is THE SAME FORMULA).


I don’t mind an occasional dip into the beautiful sadness of love and loss.  But I definitely HATE it when it has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and I see it coming from ten miles away and I STILL cry.  And dog movies are kinda notorious for that…

It’s also why I HATE NICHOLAS SPARKS MOVIES.  They are SO predictable that there is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED FOR ME TO SEE THEM.

There will be some vaguely loser-ish person who, against the odds, hooks up an improbably awesome person (who may also seem loser-ish at the beginning).  Of course, both losers are Hollywood losers, you understand—each is still a relatively attractive person with atypically firm muscle tone.  Maybe he has some mild “bad boy” characteristics (nothing quite as serious as being a meth-head or a serial murderer) or he’s screwed up in the head from guilt over a Surgery Gone Wrong or she has a wacky fundamentalist father who won’t let her wear makeup or a philandering ex-husband she can’t quite dump, et cetera.

And then, after you sit through all the sexual pseudo-tension and the couple decides to get together and live happily ever after, somebody is going to BITE THE DUST. Or LOSE THEIR MEMORY.

Here’s how predictable they are:

My friend Natasha was channel-surfing one night and “A Walk to Remember” came on. And she, who’d seen it WAAAAAY TOO MANY TIMES before and (in my opinion) had gone into some Stockholm Syndrome type of agreement with the oppressor, insisted, “You have got to watch this!”

It was just at the scene where the “bad boy” watches Mandy Moore (daughter of uptight minister who won’t let her wear makeup) sing something and you can see he’s FALLING IN LUUURVVV.  They zoom in on his face, his eyes widen, and the violins swell in the soundtrack. 

I had never seen this movie or heard anything about it, but the bad boy’s acting in that scene is ALMOST as good as that of the marionettes in “Team America.” 

ALMOST…

And I’m like, “Is THIS a NICHOLAS SPARKS movie???” 

(Because I had just gotten tricked into watching “Nights in Rodanthe” where Richard Gere was Diane Lane’s Awesome One True Love that Helped her Move On from her Philandering Husband and, right before they got together FOR GOOD, there was this TOTALLY RANDOM MUDSLIDE IN ECUADOR THAT KILLED RICHARD GERE OFFSCREEN.  And I was STILL feeling the pain of all those clich├ęs and losing those two hours of my life.)

And Nati stops the action and says, “Yeah, I think so…”

And I’m all, “Don’t go ANY FARTHER.  And let me guess…he FALLS in LOVE with her, he totally REFORMS, and then SHE DIES OF CANCER.”

No answer.  Nati just stared at me…

“Okay, okay,” I said.  “A CAR ACCIDENT.  She dies in a CAR ACCIDENT.”

Nati burst out laughing and said, “CANCER.  It’s CANCER!!!”

It’s always gonna be SOMETHING bad in Sparksworld.  So why waste the time?  There’s such a thing as tragic catharsis.  Shakespeare knew how to do it.  Nicholas Sparks, not so much.  Maybe it’s 60-40 on dog movies…

I never thought I’d say this, but thank God for “Beverly Hills Chihuahua!”

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Me and reading (a short post)

I LOVE TO READ.  And usually I don't check out Shelf Awareness, which is a daily update on publishing news.

And I tend to think that "rap music" is mostly an oxymoron.

But today I opened it up and found this awesome and amazingly creative rap video.  Or maybe it's hip-hop.  I'm not sure of the current terms.

But it kind of describes me...

Warning:  this is a bit lengthy, but if you're somewhat literary, you'll love it.  Or maybe if you're a Jay-Z/Kanye fan, you'll love it.  Annabelle Quezada is a genius!

Click here for the link to YouTube video:

B*tches in Bookshops

There is so much in here that's great--including the Anais Nin in the subway.  But my favorite's this line:

Nerdy boy, he’s so slow 
Tuesday we started Foucault
He’s still stuck on the intro? He’s a no go.
It’s sad I had to kick him out my house though –
He Mispronounced an author - MARCEL PROUST 



I'm just remembering years and years ago, when I was an education researcher.  All of us had a ton of letters after our names, some of them P, H, and D. And we were interviewing a potential new employee who also had those letters after her name.  And, during her initial presentation, she talked with great confidence about "that great French writer, Marcel Prowst..." (pronounced the SAME way as the hapless nerdy boy described in the song)


Which kind of goes to show you that a ton of letters behind your name does not mean you are necessarily well-educated or literate.  Mine really mean that I forgot to stop going to school!


Anyhow, I don't remember much more than that, but I'm pretty sure we didn't hire her.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

...changes of pace...

Okay...
Sorry I have not posted for TWO WHOLE MONTHS...

Last posting was the dog show in Palm Springs, which was AMAZING.

Since then, I manned my booth at the big Denver dog show.  Which was even MORE AMAZING.

After looking at the artists in Palm Springs, I thought, "Hmmmm....well, maybe the dog show crowd is too CONSERVATIVE for my art."

After all, I like to use PINK.  And other colors THAT ARE NOT BROWN.

And I could really give a flying whatever about whether the dog's conformation is correct.  I'll get it right in the painting, sure, but what's really important to me is capturing that dog's soul.

And the art I saw at the California dog show was MUCCCCH more conservative than mine.  Beautifully done, sure, but...personally, YAWN...

So I went to the Denver show in February with my new little vendor tent, with its DALMATION SPOTS and giant paintings of pink French Bulldogs and wondered if I would be drummed out of the show because my stuff was too wild for those potentially stodgy dog people to handle.

And...NOT SO!

It was totally awesome--tons of people saw my art, and EVEN BETTER, tons of people BOUGHT my art!   And people seemed TO GET what I'm trying to do--in terms of communicating the animal's soul!  And, even better, if they didn't LIKE my art, THEY DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING!

So I am making sure that the dog show people know that yes, yes, yes I want to come back and am not above resorting to bribery to do that!

Which means I am REALLY busy now!  Hooray!  I'm even painting horses!  What the hay (ha ha ha).

Okay, now that you're wishing I'd taken a permanent hiatus from this blog, let me get to the point...

One of my new clients wants me to paint her lovely (but deceased) Lhasa Apso.  She came into my booth and really seemed to like my art (which at this point is all NEW acrylics--not the old watercolors/kid art style I have been doing for years).  But when she went home, she looked at the paintings in her house--all watercolors and oils and thought, well, maybe my style is too crisp.

She even sent me photos of the art in her home and wanted to know if I'd ever worked in any other media besides acrylics.

And since I spent years and years painting watercolors, I said absolutely and I sent her a few images of pieces I'd done (including the one above, which I call "Mazatlan Floral" since I took the photo at the lighthouse in Mazatlan and there are flowers perched on AN OILCAN.  Which kind of epitomizes Mexico and its approach to environmentalism, if you ask me.)

So she went for it.

And NOW I AM FREAKING OUT.

I just tried a rough sketch using my old watercolors (which I practically needed a blowtorch and a pair of industrial bolt cutters just to OPEN) and I have to face it.

I TOTALLY SUCK AT WATERCOLORS RIGHT NOW.

Which would really throw me into the depths of despair IF I DIDN'T HAVE A BUNCH OF OTHER WORK TO DO AND I DON'T HAVE THE TIME FOR A CRISIS.

Plus...at ONE POINT, I DIDN'T SUCK.  And I can even REMEMBER not sucking at watercolors.  It wasn't all that long ago.

Clearly this is going to be a bit of a re-learning curve!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First time at a dog show...

Yep.  That's right.  This IS my blog, although you could be excused for thinking it had somehow morphed or mutated into something else, given the fact that IT HAS BEEN AN ENTIRE MONTH SINCE I LAST WROTE...

But what can I say?  The holidays, tons of portraits to paint, and lots of travel to do.  The blog just kind of fell away to the very backmost burner.

Anyhow, yes, the photo is of a POODLE, getting its hair sprayed.  And teased.  And back-combed.

It looks about as happy about the process as I would be.  Which is why my hair is so low-maintenance and gray and non-glamorous.  But the poodle is MUCH MORE TOLERANT of the process.  (And I used to think I would LIKE to show collies, back when I was a naive twelve-year-old who had read way too many in the "Lad, a Dog" series and didn't realize that the hairspray used on ONE single show collie could open up a hole in the ozone the size of Kansas.  And that I would spend ALL my spare time brushing the dog).

So, in case you're wondering, I spent last weekend in Palm Springs, at the big AKC dog show there.  It was IMMENSE.  There were over 3,500 dogs entered.

That is almost TWICE THE POPULATION OF MY HOME TOWN.  
PEOPLE POPULATION, NOT DOGS.

Given that many dogs, I was totally amazed at the lack of dogfights and UTTER lack of POO around. Then again, the show was held at a polo club encompassing many, many acres of land and employing many many people whose primary job was shovelling up unsightly piles of poo from animals much larger than dogs.

You see, it was my FIRST dog show.  And (you have the news first here) I figured that I'd better figure out what I'm in for, SINCE I HAVE BEEN TAPPED TO BE A VENDOR FOR THE BIG FEBRUARY DOG SHOW IN DENVER IN FEBRUARY.

I found out SO MANY THINGS...

I found out that there were WHOLE beauty salon stations--JUST FOR WESTIES...


This totally FREAKS ME OUT, because I have cats and can't imagine them putting up with any type of beauty treatment whatsoever.  They are, after all, PERFECT JUST AS THEY ARE.

I found out that, while dog handlers wear nice-looking suits all the time, the key aspect of those suits is that they have POCKETS.  So the handlers can keep their squeaky toys and brushes and combs and nice chewy chicken treats handily out of sight.

I found out the ONE piece of key equipment if you show a jowly dog like this champion Great Dane, or a Newfoundland, or a Mastiff...

...is a TOWEL.  To wipe all the spit off their jowls and chest and everywhere else, of course.  Including YOU.  Those dogs slobber like Pavlov's in the next room ringing his bell constantly.

I found out most dog show people talk to their dogs just like I talk to my cats:

"It's okay, honey, you did GREAT!  Who's mommy's little snookums? Who IS?  Who wants a treatie now?"

I think I've heard stories about overbearing, neurotic, evil people who push their dogs unreasonably in competition.  I THINK...but maybe I'm thinking of the Christopher Guest movie "Best in Show."

Or maybe I'm confusing dog shows with child beauty pageants.  Or cheerleader moms.  Or...Lemony Snicket, I don't know.  I can be kind of loose in my associations, that way.

All I can say is, if you get a chance, check out a dog show in your area!  Do it even if you are a CAT PERSON, because it's just an amazing experience!