virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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Caffeinated Comics and Quirky Cars

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee (with Jerry Seinfeld)

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee (with Jerry Seinfeld)

[Note: If you're a linguistic puritan, please excuse the liberty I took in my title for this post. Caffeinated Comics is actually a misnomer given that Jerry Seinfeld's latest project involves more than just standup comedians, but it conjures up a droll image that I couldn't resist. Sorry.]

Are you ready for season three of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee? I am. And despite

I’ve never been much of a television guy, but as a bartender in graduate school I developed an appetite for Jerry Seinfeld, pretty much the only personality in the perennially-on glow box over my head that cut through the bar buzz. He’s funny. He’s smart. He’s articulate. And he’s a great storyteller.

Jerry Seinfeld Doodle

Jerry Seinfeld Doodle

If you haven’t caught up with him lately, you’re due for a welcome surprise. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is a web-based project described by its creators as follows:

Jerry Seinfeld is joined by friends for a drive in a classic car and having coffee, sharing stories all along the way. (Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee)

Caffeinated comics and [mostly] caffeinated cars. It’s goofy, laid back and revealing. Entertaining but un-airbrushed. It’s candid. It’s unrehearsed (so far as I can tell), and it offers up an endearing angle on what makes some of the funny businesses’ stars tick. On the Facebook page Seinfeld offered this explanation to the question “Why are you doing this?”

Well, I’ve been doing it my whole life. But talk shows and interviews can’t let you see this other side of the comedy world. To me, one of the best parts. I just thought it might be a fun thing for fans. (FAQ: Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee)

Tune in for the new season which launches on January 2, 2014.

Essaying Wanderlust

Essaying Wanderlust: "Let each man exercise the art he knows." ~ Aristophanes

Essaying wanderlust…

[It's almost time for the] launch of Wanderlust, the first in a series of short format memoirs. I’ve been writing and revising these chronicles for four years during which time they’ve evolved from a single-but-sprawling Year in Provence style narrative into a more intimate collection of extended essays exploring the notion (and artifacts) of “home”.

Essaying vs. Wandering

At first glance wanderlust and essay seem to be odd bedfellows. One is carefree, omnivorous and easily distracted; the other is systematic, focused and (ideally) conclusive. One is a potentially undisciplined adventure outward propelled by curiosity. The other is a disciplined journey inward propelled by opinion, judgment and evidence.

Or so we’re lead to believe by parents and teachers.

To be sure, wanderlust and essays can be penned into polar continents, but they needn’t be. In fact, perhaps they’re not so dissimilar at all. A little etymology opens the possibility.

Middle French essai, ultimately from Late Latin exagium act of weighing (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Think of weighing in terms of exploring, considering, comparing,… Think of weighing an idea. Discovering possibilities. Brainstorming. Assessing. Think of endeavoring to understand something better.

essay \ˈe-ˌsā; also e-ˈsā\
verb: to try to do, perform, or deal with (something)
noun: a short piece of writing that tells a person’s thoughts or opinions about a subject
First Known Use: 14th century
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

An essay in the broadest, most ample sense is an attempt. An experiment. A foray into a subject endeavoring to explore and – hopefully – better understand the subject. An essay is a composition that tries to weigh something.

Redacting Rosslyn Redux

Rosslyn Redux was born out of renovation. It was an attempt to understand why converting a dilapidated house into a livable home mushroomed into a multi-year journey. It was an attempt to do something with the stories and artifacts and history that were discovered in the process. It was an attempt to honor the heritage of a place and the people who made it valuable. It was an attempt to “heal”, to expiate the excess, and to celebrate success once the dust settled. It was an attempt to understand the series of events that kidnapped much of our lives for several years. It was an attempt to move on.

I envisioned a tidy A Year in Provence or a sprawling Under the Tuscan Sun. What I didn’t envision was that the process of telling the story would turn out to be as challenging, confusing, and (ultimately) as rewarding as renovating Rosslyn had been in the first place. I also didn’t envision the story evolving from novel-esque chronicle into an experimental series of narratively structured essays that explore the following themes:

  • Wanderlust to Houselust Why does a diehard vangabond settle down?
  • Archeology of Home Digging into the weird and wacky artifacts of “home”.
  • Rehab Ad Infinitum Renovating. Never. Ends. Learned the hard way!
  • DIY: Design, Build, Share Parallels remodeling a house with writing a book…

The four mini-memoirs chronicle my adventure from wanderlust to writing a book. Or four! But they do so in an unconventional way. With more than a few broken rules along the way. Each is a tangle of interwoven stories comprising a thematically focused “essay” with a decidedly scrapbook feel. And in a strange way, the process of revising and preparing the manuscripts for the public marks a return to the wanderlust that I thought I’d abandoned when I plunged into home ownership in the summer of 2006.

A Return to Wanderlust

Wanderlust is opportunity. It is the yearning simply to go, to leave without an anticipated return date, or determined destination… It is an overwhelming need to escape, traverse, and rove… Wanderlust is raw desire… ~ Rachel Narozniak (Examiner)

If the first book is a prequel to the renovation story, the fourth book is a sequel. W2H explores the back story for why I abandoned the mortgage-free lifestyle of a footloose global nomad. The next two books plunge into the all-consuming  3-4 years of saving an historic home, a marriage, our sanity, etc. AofH focuses on all of the bizarre baggage that we load on top of a home, and RAI focuses on the endless process, and the ever retreating finish line. But DIY is about stepping away from the project and transforming it into a story. It focuses on the “do it yourself” approach we took to revitalizing Rosslyn and the “do it yourself” approach I’m taking with developing and sharing the story. It is a plunge into the rapidly transforming world of publishing in the 21st century in the same way that buying Rosslyn and swapping Manhattan for the Adirondacks was an adventure into uncharted but fascinating (and SUPER risky) waters.

It is the story of how the vision for the Rosslyn Redux memoir became four separate story/essay/scrapbooks. It is the story pulling up the anchor and heading off on a new adventure!

No Cure for Curiosity

No Cure for Curiosity: Banish boredom with curiosity!

No Cure for Curiosity: Banish boredom with curiosity!

“The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.”
~ Dorothy Parker

I’m not a Dorothy Parker buff, but I became intrigued with her when my brother-in-law purchased a sprawling house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that she had owned with Alan Campbell in the late 1930s and 1940s. Listen to Helen Beer (daugher of Dorothy Parker’s Bucks County caretakers in the 1930s) recollecting Dorothy Parker swimming in the buff.

Dorothy Parker skinny dipping? Hmmm… Curiosity trumps boredom every time. And – albeit a somewhat insidious elixir – there’s absolutely no cure for curiosity.

A good thing too!

A Certain Lady, by Dorothy Parker

Here’s a poem by Dorothy Parker that reminds the reader that there’s no cure for curiosity. Except, perhaps, the absence of curiosity altogether.

A Certain Lady, by Dorothy Parker

Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head,
And drink your rushing words with eager lips,
And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red,
And trace your brows with tutored finger-tips.
When you rehearse your list of loves to me,
Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed.
And you laugh back, nor can you ever see
The thousand little deaths my heart has died.
And you believe, so well I know my part,
That I am gay as morning, light as snow,
And all the straining things within my heart
You’ll never know.

Oh, I can laugh and listen, when we meet,
And you bring tales of fresh adventurings, —
Of ladies delicately indiscreet,
Of lingering hands, and gently whispered things.
And you are pleased with me, and strive anew
To sing me sagas of your late delights.
Thus do you want me — marveling, gay, and true,
Nor do you see my staring eyes of nights.
And when, in search of novelty, you stray,
Oh, I can kiss you blithely as you go ….
And what goes on, my love, while you’re away,
You’ll never know.

The Bobcat Blues

Feeling blue one morning, naturalist Ed Kanze heads into the woods and finds his thoughts full of bobcats. Listen here to what the cats had to teach him… Theme music written and composed by Josh Clement. (Mountain Lake PBS)

Kanze’s “Bobcat Blues” is a clever essay on how he and the bobcat are similar (as well as how they differ). It opens with a parallel that will appeal to freelance writers.

Bobcats and I have much in common. They are freelance creatures, solitary for the most part. They spend most of their lives out on limbs just as freelance writers do, hoping to sink their teeth into prospects that more often than not fail to materialize. ~ Ed Kanze (Mountain Lake PBS)

Kanze’s poignant closing thought and my friend Josh Clement‘s (@josh_clement) stealthy blues transformed this melancholic reflection into a poignant, infectious and semi-philosophical soundtrack for my days’ work. Hope you enjoy the “Bobcat Blues”!

 

Befriend Failure

Stephen McCranie is a cartoonist.

Befriend Failure (Credit: doodlealley.com)

Befriend Failure (Credit: doodlealley.com)

My goal is to make good ideas easy to access, understand, and share. To this end, I create comics with heartfelt stories that are appropriate for all ages. I also try to facilitate the spread of useful ideas by drawing short comic essays about concepts and principles that have been beneficial to me. ~ Stephen McCranie

Delve into this always scary but always critical tenet for living a creative life:

The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.

This, McCranie believes, is the main difference between the beginner and the master.

It rings true for me, especially as I edge toward the exhilarating but risky launch of Wanderlust, the first in a series of short format memoirs. I’ve been writing and revising these chronicles for four years during which time they’ve evolved from a single-but-sprawling Year in Provence style narrative to a more intimate collection of extended essays exploring the notion (and artifacts) of “home”. Within months Wanderlust will tumble out of the nest and into the imaginations of readers. If I’m lucky.

It’s a scary/thrilling time. A time for confidence. And humility. A time to take a chance. To silence the critic within and risk failure. Come what may.

For the writer at least, and perhaps also for the reader, it is better to have tried and failed to achieve perfection than never to have tried at all. ~ Aldous Huxley (Preface – Collected Essays)

Befriend Failure (Credit: doodlealley.com)

Befriend Failure (Credit: doodlealley.com)

This cartoon was sent to me recently by a close friend. The cartooning – the “doodling” – would appeal to me, not the message, not the befriend failure theme. This is what my friend said. And perhaps she meant it. Probably she meant it.

And I loved the cartooning. I’ve poured over many of McCranie’s clever, creative reflections on universal, often philosophical truths. But I’ve returned to this one cartoon, “Be Friends with Failure“, again and again. Shoot for success, but befriend failure.

Befriend failure? What sort of asinine advice is that?!?! How about gun for success, shoot for the moon, kick some @$$?

Yes, yes, yes. But befriend failure!

Hasta la vista, critic!

One X-Ray and Two Tooth Stories

X-Ray of my Chompers on February 9, 2011.

X-Ray of my Chompers on February 9, 2011.

Sorry about the creep x-ray. And about the even creepier tooth stories I’m about to tell. If you freak out about going to the dentist, this post is not for you.

Try “Drunk Doodles” or “Schopenhauer’s Flâneur” instead…

I never really considered the relationship between teeth and stories until today. When my dentist took my annual mouth x-rays a couple of years ago, I asked him to email this image of my mouth. I no longer remember what possessed me, probably just curious if he would oblige, but today I came across the goofy grin. Two stories were immediately visible in the black and white x-ray.

Look at my two top front teeth. The x-ray suggests that I’m chewing bubblegum. Or preparing to shoot a spitball? The truth is that those two front top teeth were damaged long ago while riding a bicycle. My smile today comes to you courtesy of a long parade of capable dentists who repair my reconstructed front teeth every few years.

Wheelie Teeth

It was a summer day, and I was visiting a friend whose mother gave us permission to ride our bikes down to Rosemary Remington’s for ice cream.

My mother didn’t allow us to ride bikes on the road, so it was a particular thrill to peddle down the pavement. Freedom! There’s something about riding a bicycle on a peeve corrode as a child that is truly intoxicating. Add to that an ice cream cone and probably a chocolate bar. Cycling in the land of enchantment!

While popping a wheelie on the way back to my friends house I overpulled and smashed the handlebars into my teeth. I reached into my mouth and collected the fragments. I looked down into my wet hand, small pieces of broken tooth. I ran my finger over my two top front teeth.  I had broken a perfect upside down V into my still new “adult teeth”. Only my mother’s heart broke into more pieces than my own. Oh, to relive that single moment!

Wisdom Teeth

Tooth Stories: From x-rays to wisdom teeth and beyond...

Tooth Stories

Absent in this image are my wisdom teeth, all four. And while that gaping maw looks laid back enough about it now, I was anything but calm at the time.

For some reason, my wisdom teeth were not removed until I was part way through college. By the time our dentist decided I needed to have them removed, they were severely impacted. Apparently this is common enough, though less common is a roughly 20-year-old male who is scared to death of needles. I had known they were going to knock me out in order to extract the teeth, and I had been agonizing over the inevitable injection for days before arriving at the orthodontist’s office. Well, turns out the ortho had a solution for that too. I was strapped to the operating table and after wrenching and flinching each time he attempted to insert the IV, he placed a mask over my mouth and turned on the gas. Once I was mellowed out he slipped the needle into me without my knowledge or reaction. I remember him talking to me.

“So you go to Georgetown?”

“Um-hmm,” I mumbled through the mask.

“That’s where I studied orthodontia.”

“Really? I didn’t know there was a dental program,” I tried to say, feeling calm and far, far away. “When did you graduate?”

“We had to break the top teeth to get them out, but I have the bottom ones if you’d like to keep them”

What? What?!?!  That’s my one experience with anesthesia. Sort of like a sloppy film edit. Same characters. Same setting. But a half hour of footage was extracted in the blink of an eye.

The rest of the story involves codeine and a slooow recovery, but it’s less interesting than the half hour of my life that was edited out with my wisdom teeth.

Tooth Stories and X-Ray Storytelling

Did you ever pretend that you had x-ray vision as a child? Or maybe as an adult? I remember advertisements for x-ray vision glasses that could be ordered from comic books or bubble gum wrappers. Never tested that one out.

But imagine if we could use x-ray storytelling to spy under people’s prettied up veneers! Maybe we can. I try all the time. A stranger in line at supermarket flips her hair while closing her eyes for a moment longer than a blink. And suddenly my x-ray storytelling is conjuring up a narrative. Probably not an accurate narrative, but an intriguing and startling narrative. Maybe that’s the same way those comic book x-ray vision glasses worked too…

If I turned my x-ray storytelling on you, what tooth stories would I discover?

Re-Cycling: Le Flaneur by Hermes

Le Flâneur Town Bike By Hermès

Posh wheels for well-heeled velo-flaneurs!

Aloof. Alone. Leisurely. Urban. Introducing Le Flaneur by Hermes…

Really? Really!

Just when you thought flanerie (or at least the flaneur) was sacred. Or too niche to warrant much attention from the mass market. You were wrong.

Sorry. It’s time for recycling cycling!

Gastronomy of the Eye

Leave it to Hermès – purveyors of luxe French apparel, accessories and perfumery – to recycle the mystique of flanerie. As a bike. With a price tag north of $10k. You read that right. That’s a bit spendy for this flaneur, but if you’re in the market for a pedal powered Rolls Royce Phantom (or its carbon fiber equivalent), then you’re in luck.

Le Flaneur by Hermes

You want to knock around town in style but still burn a few calories? You might give Les Vélos d’Hermès a spin. Specifically, Le Flâneur, a town bike named for that wonderful French concept of a kind of loosely directed, multicurious wandering about Balzac defined it as “the gastronomy of the eye”. Le Flâneur combines an understated luxury–bull calf leather grips and saddle that will age to a fine patina–with technical touches like a lightweight carbon-fiber frame and hydraulic disc brakes. One doesn’t always need to suffer for beauty. (Forbes)

I’m certain that’s the first time I’ve read a bicycle review in Forbes.

Le Flâneur Sportif d’Hermès

Now if that elegant crème anglaise steed is too effete for your tastes, you can rest easy. Le Flaneur is also available in a sleeker model appropriately camouflaged for nocturnal flaneurs.

Le Flaneur by Hermes is available in a sporty version too...

Le Flaneur by Hermes is available in a sporty version too…

Famous for its silk scarves and ties, Hermès… [is diversifying with a] duo of handsome carbon fiber bicycles… Le Flâneur d’Hermès and Le Flâneur sportif d’Hermès. Each will feature a shock-absorbing frame, belt-driven transmission and hydraulic disc brakes, as well as a choice of eight or 11 gears integrated into the rear wheel hub. (FreshnessMag.com)

What luck!

Is Le Flaneur by Hermes Art or Bike?

While an inveterate and unabashed flaneur, I’m not sure what to make of these posh toys/tools. It would be criminal to pretend that Le Flâneur sportif is not a beautiful bike. It is. Minimalist, elegant and proud. I’d seriously consider hanging one on my wall.

Francois Dore, managing director of Hermes’ Horizons department, stated,”We set out to make a real bike, not a decorative object. It had to be simple, efficient, easy to use, pleasant and elegant”, according to WWD. (The Style of the Case)

Right. It’s not wall art. It’s a real bike, a tool for flaneurs on urban safaris. Besides, is a $10,000 honestly any more more ostentatious than a turtle on a leash? No. But then again, I’m not a turtle strolling flaneur…

I Want to Live: Praise for 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

Almost 24 hours after watching 12 Years a Slave (movie) I still can’t shake it. The story and characters won’t let go. They’re both still gripping me in technicolor evil. And grace.

If you haven’t seen this Director Steve McQueen’s unflinchingly candid glimpse into the enslavement of free black man Solomon Northup, you need to.

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE is based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life. (Fox Searchlight: 12 Years a Slave)

The film is gripping and visceral. And fair warning, it’s also totally unfiltered and unforgiving. McQueen captures slavery in its least sympathetic and most complex iteration I can recall, plunging into it’s insidious, malignant effect, dehumanizing slave, master end every one in between. 12 Years a Slave is a genuinely immersive experience absent special effects or melodrama. McQueen deploys somewhat unconventional storytelling techniques such as an excruciatingly drawn out scene with Northup hanging from a noose, barely clinging to life, while life returns to normal around him. The juxtaposition of a slow-motion murder amidst quotidian chores and playing children is devastating.

While virtually every actor in 12 Years a Slave delivers a superb performance, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup is riveting. He manages to exude grace in the face of devastating events, transforming a demanding, almost impossibly complex character into one of the most powerful and believable film roles I’ve witnessed in years. Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fosbender and Brad Pitt also deliver exceptional performances, but I’ll do them and the film injustice if I continue. Just see it for yourself. Here’s a trailer to motivate you.

Find 12 Years a Slave

Pinterest Hacked: Semi-Nude Fat Loss Pics Posted

English: Red Pinterest logo

Pinterest Hacked: Semi-Nude Fat Loss Pics Posted (Credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been trimming the girth for a year or two, but this is too much! Semi-nude fat loss pics have swallowed up virtualDavis on Pinterest. Over night. Not cool. Fortunately a friend apprised me of the violation, and after purge, purge, purging the semi-nude fat loss pics (read, affiliate advertisements by an unscrupulous hacker) I’ve dug around to discover I’m not alone.

One board “Weight Loss: Loose Weight Fast” had 76 pins! (And, clever spammer, I think you meant, “Lose Weight Fast”, nest pas?)

And another…

Pinterest Hacking Pandemic?

Pinterest Hacked

Pinterest Hacked

Hope not, but a good wake up call to pincers and Pinterest that they are vulnerable and need to be proactive. Here’s their official advise for dealing with boards or pins on your account that you didn’t create:

It’s possible someone got into your account. You should reset your password to secure your account:

  1. Click the profile menu then click Settings
  2. Click Change your password…
  3. Type in your old password
  4. Choose a new password – make sure it’s complex!

After you’ve reset your password, you can delete any pins or boards that were added to your account. Unfortunately, we can’t restore deleted boards or pins. If you have trouble resetting, try from http://pinterest.com/password/reset/ (Pinterest Help Center)

Pinterest Lessons Learned

At least some fat loss affiliate programs cater to (or tolerate) unscrupulous spammers. The kind who target creepers obsessed with semi-nude women. Fat semi-nude women.

Pinterest needs to develop an easier, quicker, smarter interface for deleting multiple images at once. This should not be hard. Git’er done. Please.

Mean people suck. And they make us calloused, which also sucks.

Semi-Nude Laugh Therapy

I’d be remising in closing this grumbly post without returning to my all time favorite analgesic. Humor. So let’s wrap with an example of the lighthearted souls who don’t take these sorts of “crises” too seriously.

 

Mike Lowery: Master Doodler and Illustrator

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling… and doodled! (Credit: argyleacademy.com)

Mike Lowery (argyleacademy.com) is a master doodler illustrator. I must learn to be careful about calling illustrations doodles and illustrators doodlers. I get it. They’re different. And many artists who illustrate or draw consider the terms doodling or doodler to be pejorative.

I don’t consider doodling or doodler to be pejorative. In fact, I consider doodler a complement of the highest order, for to doodle is to break free. To be playful. To be curious. To explore. To express. Not all illustrators and artists doodle. But those who do doodle inspire the blazes out of me!

Mike Lower, Doodler

I would like to propose – with apologies offered in advance – that Mike Lowery is an especially inspiring master doodler.

And it turns out I’m not the only one who associates Mike Lowery’s capricious illustrations with doodles. For example, Jenipher Lyn (blogger, doodler and all around creative whiz) captured him in this aptly title post, “Mummies, DRY Humor and silly doodles, oh my!” And The oxford American made the doodle connection in an interview a little over a year ago.

THE OA: Did you ever consciously decide to be a cartoonist? Or were you always doodling and drawing all your life, and then one day someone paid you for your art?
ML: I’ve always worked towards the goal of doing illustration or comics or fine art…anything art related for work. There wasn’t any question that I would shoot for anything else. (Oxford American)

And sometimes even Mike Lowery makes the doodle connection:

Who Really is Mike Lowery?

So you’ve humored me long enough, endured my “Mike Lowery is a master doodler!” schpiel and now you’d like the unbiased bottom line. Right. Better pass the baton…

Mike Lowery is an artist living in Atlanta, Georgia… Mike’s work has been seen on everything from greetings cards to children’s books to gallery walls all over the world, and he is a Professor of Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta. (Mike Lowery)

Mike Lowery is an artist, an illustrator, and a professor. But he’s also a doodler. Period. And a damned good doodler! I dare say, a guru.

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling (mikelowerystudio.tumblr.com)

It’s difficult to explain the near-cultlike following Lowery has achieved if you’ve never seen him perform — and I do mean perform. Even though he prefaces every presentation as being a simple matter of sharing some drawings from his diary, there is no question that the self-concious, deapan commentary he weaves through his slideshows constitute a high form of performance art. You’re never sure if Lowery’s actually that charming or completely aware of his own brilliance and putting on that aw-shucks demeanor entirely for his act — either way, it’s tough not to be taken in. Somewhere between the Still Life series, a collection of cartoons about an apple and a pear who are in a relationship, but live with a third-wheel banana, and the introspective robot who worries about whether his wife is right and they’re ready to have kids, a devotion to Lowery is born. (DCist)

Ah-ha, Mike Lowery is even a performer… See why I like this guy?

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