Friday, December 15, 2006


Very simply, I have been working on a few freelance projects here and there--this on top of my "job" job. It's a never ending process and I am starting to get frustrated about projects that I WANT to be working on and those that are putting food on the table. That's another gripe for another post for another day...

Today I want to talk about the joys of daytime television. As a part time stay-at-home-dad, I sometimes have the television on while doing household chores or while playing with Leo. Usually it's something innocuous like "Frasier" or "The Golden Girls" and, yes, I have gotten addicted to "Days of Our Lives." I'm not proud of it. Long gone, though, are the days when Leo was an itty bitty infant and I could watch "Saving Private Ryan" while giving him a bottle... Now he actually watches TV when I have it on so I have tried to drastically limit the time that the TV is on during the day.

When I do have it on--and if Leo is awake and in the room, I will have it on PBS. Well, the other day this show called "It's a Big Big World" came on. It's kind of a "Henson-esque" show with puppets--animals that all live in a big rainforest tree. Chief among the "World Tree's" denizens is Snook. Snook is a Sloth and he spends much of his time hanging upside down sleeping--that is when he isn't consumed with the goings on in the tree. I actually started watching this show about a month ago, but now I am actually paying attention to it and there are some details that I have become aware of--mainly concerning the main character Snook. First of all, Snook talks like a lot of people I knew in college--people who also spent a lot of time sleeping upside down if you know what I mean. He talks in this sort of Dead-head, surfer drawl like, well, someone who spends a lot of time baked out of their mind. He's real easy-going--a little TOO easy going sometimes, very "Heey there duuude... What's going oooooon?" He is also very chubby--like he's been hitting the Lucky Charms and Mac and Cheese a little too hard, and when he walks it's in this kind of stoner half-step. Ive seen it all too often--like at the local Taco Bell at one in the morning. His hair is unkempt and shaggy and his eyes, well, you can't even make out the white parts. There's just a hint of red around them. There was also one epsiode where he was "drinking" from a long bamboo "cup" with a straw in it. The first thing I thought was, "That big ol' puppet's got a bong." Then I remembered this was a kid's show. That's when the big hairy bastard took a long pull off that straw and there came a bubbling sound out of that bamboo that sounded a little too familiar if you know what I mean (and I think you do).
Besides Snook, the whole show has a sort of "Phish-Widespread-Panic-Are-you-kind?" feel too it. There's lots of pull away shots of the tree that are a little trippy and the supporting characters are all a little out of their minds too. I mean, looking back at some of the stuff I watched as a kid, including Seaseme Street, I HAVE to think that weed was just everywhere back then. I don't know... This show though... I know there are some folks off camera laughing together at what they think is their clever inside joke. As the end credits roll, Snook sings the ending song which sounds a little like something we sang in the stairwells in college--bombed within an inch of unconciousness. At one point in the song, he invites the kids to "Give me five." It's like he sees through the screen!!

I do like the show though...

Monday, December 04, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This past holiday, we were in Clemson visiting my family and my mom thought it would be fun (which it was) to watch my old high school graduation. She also was kind enough to put it on DVD for me--which is an added bonus since Leo will be able to watch and laugh for many years to come!

Seriously, this video was a real trip dow the ragged old path that some like to call memory lane. As I look at this picture I can think of how badly I would like to be standing next to this child as he prepares to be vomited out into the world. I would tell him which women he should steer clear of in the future. I would also tell him that tequila should never be "swigged" right from the bottle. I might mention also that it would be a good idea to lose the mullet RIGHT AWAY as opposed to keeping it for another year.

Ours was the last graduation ceremony to be held outside in the football stadium--due in no small part to what can only be described as horrobly inapropriate behavior on the part of the hundred and fifty or so graduates present that hot June evening. Stink bombs were set off. Beach balls were blown up and batted around. And, in what was the greatest stunt of all, a huge blow up doll in the shape of a male stripper was also smuggled in, blown up, and tossed back and forth during the valedictorian's speech. The many administrators, teachers, coaches and sheriff's deputies in attendence seemed either unable or unwilling to intervene--even when the huge doll was vaulted over the front row of graduates and landed right in front of the speakers podium, its large plastic ass sticking straight up in the air. Oh wel...

While the good times were certainly rolling onscreen, I couldn't help but be saddened to see the faces of some friends and classmates who have since either died or been beset by a tragedy of one kind or another. Still, they were smiling on that day. The sun was shining bright and everyone was happy and hopeful about what lay ahead. People cheered and shouted encouragement when your name was called and it felt good to be in the moment--to be happy in the moment. Everyone was a friend--whether you liked them or not.

I still wish that I had done something about that fucking mullet! The sad thing is, I got my hair cut that very day!!!


Originally uploaded by stymie924.

This painting, one of the first large canvases I attempted, sold this week at Gathering Grounds. This canvas probably held the most sentimental value for me--mainly because I think that it reflects more of the "child" in my personality, the child that loves old airplanes. I knew that I ran the risk of losing this piece when I put it up for sale but I felt like I would be okay with it as long as it went to someone who could appreciate it. Well, someone DID buy it and not only did they bbuy this one, they bought another of the pieces that had a lot of sentimental value--and, as it turns out, he's a good bloke with a little girl about Leo's age! So, anyway, that makes it a little easier to part with.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Came across this little beauty on good ol' YouTube today. Figure I better enjoy the good stuff before they start cracking down on copyrighted material. Before long, all you'll be able to see is videos of people doing that stupid mentos-diet coke trick.

Anyway, Whitesnake--what a band. Sort of like a sleazier, whiter, Zepplin--but with THREE, count em, THREE keyboard players!! Also, they have that Tawny Katain (or whatever her name is) dry-humping two Rolls Royce's at ONCE!! I mean, that's just GOLD!!

Yes, I did listen to a little Whitesnake. My musical tastes in high school were a veritable potpurri of depressive angst and unbridled, car-humping sexuality. I remember this video in particular because supposedly, there is a part where one of Tawny's nipples peeks out ever so slightly. You know, back in the day (before the internet that is) we teenagers had to take our nipple-sightings where we could find them. Seriously though, my tape collection went from the truly somber (The Smiths, The Cure, New Order) to the "alternative" (REM, The Femmes, Camper Van Beethoven) to redneck, hair metal (Metallica, Ozzy, Whitesnake, Crue, Def Leppard) to classic metal (ACDC, Zepplin) to Southern Rock (Skynyrd) to Rush (I don't really know how to categorize them--geek rock?). I listened to it all--that is when I wasn't listening to U2--which I was most of the time. Sometimes I think that if they were to re-make The Big Chill with people from my generation (who the hell would want to see that?? Anyway...) the soundtrack would include this kind of stuff... God I feel OOOOOOOLLLLLLDDDD...

Anyhoo... Please take a minute to view this awesome blast from the past--and maybe you coould spot the nipple!!

Friday, November 10, 2006


My Paintings are actually hanging and they look great... They seem to compliment the surroundings and color palette of Gathering Ground's decor perfectly. We had a small but lively reception last Sunday with the little ones providing quite the floor show. My good mate Raj from Clemson and his handsome family showed up to share in the festivities as well. It was great... And, actually, I have had a few people express a little interest in buying a couple of pieces. We'll see what happens.

This has been sort of a strange experience for me actually--mainly because I don't paint on canvas usually. I am used to my work looking back at me from the computer screen. It's funny how I invest so much energy in trying to make digital images look like wet media--when I could just use the paints and canvas and all that mess and go for the real thing. Why don't I? Well, firstly because paints and materials can be expensive and messy and especially costly if you are prone to making mistakes as I am. Also, since most of what I do is for print and the web, it's WAAAAY easier to manipulate digital media and images as opposed to taking a large canvas, photographing it and then having to color correct it.

Still, I do enjoy painting on canvas when I can. It's hard work but well worth it! I hope y'all will toddle on down to the Kirkwood community to visit the kind folks at Gathering Grounds and check out the art as you sip a Latte...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
I know, I know... I have been long absent from the blogospehere. I have actually been working like a demon--full time job, part time stay-at-home dad. It's just crazy man.

Here's what's what. I am prepping an art show at a local coffee shop called Gathering Grounds. I have a ton of paintings in various stages of undress. I need to get them finished and looking spiffy and ready for hanging. This is my first show ever and I don't really know how to price my paintings or even really what to include. It's strange--but exciting too. I am not really expecting to make, like, a ton of money or anything. It's just so nice to have a place to show my work for w couple of months and if somebody likes it, GREAT!!

The paintings are really an interesting lot. They aren't really a series per se, but they do all seem to have a certain quality in common--that is, I guess they have a nostalgic feel. For some reason, I seem to have an affinity for things from the early twentieth century. I don't know why... Anyway, painting is something that I don't do enough, something that is amazingly comforting and solitary--yes, sometimes lonely. And I really do feel like there's a little piece of me in all of these pieces. They are have a certain sentimental value. I am going to have a hard time parting with some of them. Anyway, I am excited.

In other news, I am exploring a new way of creating illustrations. I'll post more on that I promise!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Which really isn't all that good for me I guess. I am turning 35 in a a week and I am feeling a little anxious about it all. I am having one of those "EVERYBODY HATES ME" days. I don't know what my problem is. I guess it could have somehting to do with how hard I've been working lately--OR that I have not been getting enough sleep these days because Leo is cutting teeth and making our lives difficult in the sleep dept.. Just feeling a little paranoid.

I am feeling the burn of my thirty-something years. I look back on things I've accomplished and things left un done or abandoned. I still believe that my most productive years lay ahead--but the trick is finding time to realize those ideas and dreams that I have whirling inside my noggin. I have this grand idea for a story that I keep pushing off to the WAAAAAY back burner--in the midst of all the other stories I have. It's a story I want to do for Leo, one that we can add onto together when he gets older. I won't give away any details but I will be posting some of the sketches soon...

I don't know... Maybe I should head off to bed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I am sitting here, just sitting--listening to the house settle, listening to my neighbor's party break up. Car doors are slamming and people are heading home, their radios thumping into the night as the rest of the 'hood seems to slip away under the full moon... Things are feeling strange, almost hyper-real--close to the bone. It's 11:30 and Mandy has gone to bed. Leo will no doubt be up soon for a midnight feeding.

I was hoping to get some work done. I have a deadline to meet and I am worried I may have overextended myself a little with work these days. So as I write this, I know I should be working. I just can't. There is so much stuff swirling around upstairs that I can't be bothered with something as silly as work. And yet I can't go to sleep. It's not that I am anxious, it's almost like I am just aware, calmly aware.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Oh sure, we spent some great quality time with my family in Clemson--which is always great. We all got to sit and visit and of course everyone got to have some great QT with Leo. Mandy and I went for a walk with my dad (who happens to have a PhD in Agronomy from Clemson) in the woods where we were introduced to the lethal pokeweed. So that part was great...

The shitty and really suck-ass part of it is that Steve Irwin died this morning in a freak encounter with a stingray. Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter" was a true freak of nature, a wild-eyed man-child who would hurl himslef at all manner of dangerous animals and then, as he is holding said animal in front of the camera, deliver a hurried monologue as to the animal's lethality and why it deserves our respect and protection. He was like some bastard cross between Marlon Perkins and my crazy uncle Bill who once grabbed a massive rattlesnake by the throat and killed it because he heard they "were supposed to be pretty good eating."

We used to watch Irwin every Saturday morning in bed... He attacked the world like some mutant three year old--full of wonder and excitement. I will miss him...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

WKRP - Thanksgiving Turkey Drop

Quite possibly the funniest episode of any television comedy ever. EVER!! This was always one of my favorite shows growing up and this episode... It still makes me laugh hysterically. This clip is from the last six minutes. Watch it until the end for the final line. Priceless...

Oh yeah, I am supposed to be working now. This is more fun.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This is another sketch from a screen capture of the film BLADE RUNNER. I actually prefer this sketch to the last one because I think I have a better handle on the lighting in this sketch. The face is also rendered better in this sketch than the last. It really goes to show you how lighting can really make the scene.

Another important lesson to learn from this process is how different skin tones look in different lighting conditions. There are so many subtle differences in shading and value that come together to make the face pop out.

I have to give some mad props to Ridley Scott. This movie... Every scene is like a work of art. It is breathtaking and it still holds up after all these years.

Anyway,... I hope to do a sketch a day. These are great workouts! Like power-lifting or windsprints for artists! Ha!

Friday, August 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
I created this sketch in photoshop today from a screen capture from THE PATRIOT. I am working on some illustrations for the portfolio that are much more dramatic and use different lighting techniques.

I am not particularly happy with the boy's face. I think it looks flat--primarily because there is no light shining directly on the face to provide differences in value--light and dark. It's all about learning though. Stay tuned! I'll be posting some cool stuff soon!

Monday, August 14, 2006


I found this little nugget of nostalgia on tonight and wanted to share it with all the faithful 'smear readers--few of you as there are.

This Band defined my high school life pretty much. I listened to War driving back and forth to school every morning. I watched the Under A Blood Red Sky concert on MTV when it came out. I made pitiful, "high schoolish" attempts at romance to Unforgettable Fire... I wore out the Joshua Tree LP until it skipped and fuzzed through my favorite songs.

I still find that my love of U2 holds up after all these years. Not the new music so much--mainly the EARLY stuff. Boy, October, War and of course Unforgettable Fire. I love Joshua Tree too, but that's the last album I fell in love with.

Anyway, if you're a fan of old music videos, they probably have them on YouTube. Check it out,,,

Monday, August 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This is a very quick Photoshop sketch depicting the baptism of Jesus by John. I am working on a few biblical themed illustrations here and there to market to Churches for use in worship multimedia presentations...

Obviously, this is a pretty rough, unpolished sketch... The reason I stuck with this image is because I had been noodling over the idea that John the Baptist was possibly black. I don't know why, but I started to really put it together in my head that this was possible. I know that, according to scripture John was related to Jesus and was, in fact from the same town of Nazareth. Still, suppose, his father Zacharias had married a Jew from Northern Africa... That could explain it... Maybe??

Who knows. I do think it's safe to assume that Jesus and his contemporaries didn't look like Def Lappard...

In any case, I abandoned this sketch because it really is lousy and I can do much better. I see promise in this piece, though, in that it is forcing me to look at my faith in a different way--through different eyes. I truly feel like it's important for me to challnge, through art, the commonly-accepted view of scripture as completely WASP-ish and Euro-centric. That is, I want to try and visualize scripture in a more appropriate historical context... We'll see what happens.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I just replaiced the hard drive in my Mac Powerbook... No small feat, considering the teeny tiny parts and screws. So far so good!!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
One thing I try to do as often as possible is to sketch. Sketching from life, from television, from my imagination...

A particularly fun thing I enjoy is taking favorite scenes from films and attempting to recreate them as quickly as possible in color using Photoshop. This keeps me sharp--sort of the drawing equivalent of doing windsprints. I also cannot rely just on draftsmanship, I have to be thinking in terms of color, mood, light...

This scene is from The Mission starring Robert DeNiro. I wasn't after a likeness, rather, I was trying to quickly capture the overall palette and feel of the scene as it appeared in the film.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
I came across this book today while doing some online research on Howard Pyle. Pyle was, and is, considered to be one of the greatest American Illustrators that ever lived. N.C. Wyeth was a protoge' of his, as were several other illustrators who lived and worked during the early twentieth century.

I love Pyle's work for its simplicity, its technique. I also admire his ability to place the viewer right in the middle of the action. It has to be said that nobody paints pirates like Pyle.

Tonight I was back at it, painting on canvases again. It's a different animal from digital art. You have to work--execise, almost. Some days it's easier than others...

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I AM BLESSED-with a beatiful, funny, quirky wife and a movie-start cute kid! I also have the best dog in the world. To have a job doing what I love.

I WANT-to be liked.

I WISH-I could take a year off and do nothing but sculpt. I were a better painter.

I HATE-That I am so sensitive--that I read too much into people's interactions with me. That I need to be liked. That I sometimes talk to much. Bill O'Reilly.

I MISS-South CArolina. Camp Cherokee. Playing soccer. Doing theatre.

I FEAR-Cancer. Losing my wife, my son.

I HEAR-The air-conditioner in my office. MVY radio online out of Martha's Vinyard.

I WONDER-If illustration is what I was meant to do... If I'll get any better as an artist. If Leo will be an artist or will he rebel against all things creative.

I REGRET-Not going to art school. Some past job interviews.

I AM NOT-Untalented. Skinny. A redneck. Black.

I DANCE-better than my wife.

I SING-in church every Sunday at 8:45.

I CRY-more than I am comfrotable even admitting...

I AM NOT ALWAYS-a good Christian. Happy. Sad.

I MAKE WITH MY HAND-art. Lots and lots of art.

I WRITE-like a child with a crippled hand.

I CONFUSE-Chipotle and cilantro...

I NEED-Friends close by. Something to draw. My family. My wife. My son. To be appreciated as an artist.

I SHOULD-be inside with Mandy. Get a new hard drive for my mac. Get my iPod fixed.

I START-illustrating a book on Monday.

I FINISH-very few ambitious projects I start on my own..

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
Yes, I know I have been way absent from the "blogospehere" but I have been consumed with work/fatherhood/general malaise. I have been grappling these past months with a wee bit of the old depression--otherwise known on the street as, "the pity party." I apologize to any and all faithful readers of the 'smear who have been missing me. I am back, for now...

Yes, I have been a-wallowing in the pit of semi-despair (more like semi-sadness--or whiny-ness) of late. However, art continues to be an area of comfort for me and I am happy to have some time to try something different--painting on canvas. This is something that I enjoy doing--though time doesn't always permit it.

This is an as yet unfinished large canvas in a series of canvases entitled "Men with Hats" since I somehow always end up painting men in the 1930's style with those fedora hats on. I don't know why, it's just something that I have always done. Subconsciously, I guess it's all about what I grew up with. My Grandfather was always wearing one of those hats (never indoors!!). In all the pictures I saw of him over the years, he had the same stern--yet placid expression on his face and a-top his head was always one of those hats. Later in life, it was a Tom Landry/Bear Bryant-style hat--the kind with the little feather in the side of the brim. Anyway, y'all let me know what you think...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
I did this sketch a while ago in my sketchbook. It started with a doodle of an eye and grew into this wierd robot/mech face. I just found the pencil sketch and dropped it in Painter and fixed it up a little...

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
Here is another image I did for self promotional purposes. It sort of illustrates how I feel at the moment with my work--somewhat detached and upside down with the world. Having a young child has changed my world view so much and I am really feeling like I want to crawl deeper and deeper into my creative self, that is, even as I play daddy. Also, I hate dealing with the reality of rejection. I sent a portfolio to Lucas Arts last month and just recieved a rejection via email. Email... What a way to get rejected. I am not even worth wasting paper and postage on. I get the form-written email that says "Thanks but no thanks..." Still, rejection is as much a part of what I do as drawing. I have to accept it and learn from it and move on. It is hard though... I tend to take it personally--probably because I invest so much of myself in my work. A couple of weeks ago, a friend who had previously said they wanted me to do some work for them decided to use someone else. I was actually shocked at how hurt I was. I mean, I know it wasn't personal or anything and I know it isn't like they hate my work. Still, my feelings were really hurt--I guess because it sort of hit me where I live. My ego is most tender and vulnerable when it comes to my work.

But, as I said, you move on... Now I am working on a bigger, more comprehensive portfolio which is going to KILL!!! And if it doesn't, I just gotta keep drawing--keep going.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
I was just going through some pictures to send to folks of Leo's baptism and I came across this picture of my mom with what appears to be, at least according to people who study this stuff, a ghost orb on her head. Apparently, spirits, ghosts, or entities will sometimes manifest themselves as an "orb" in photographs. Anyway, that's what I have read on some websites and seen on TV.

Now I am not sure really what to believe actually. Truthfully, it could be an errant speck of dust or some kind of moisture phenomenon. Who knows? I will say that this "orb" doesn't appear on any of the other pictures taken that day. It's also more than a little creepy that it seems to have settled right on my mom's head.

Our church is a hundred years old this year and is rumored to be haunted. This past fall, I volunteered to stay at the church overnight as we played host to some Katrina evacuees. One night as I was drifitng off to sleep, I did have a distinct feeling that someone was in the room with me and I bolted up awake. The feeling persisted for a little while and I had to leave the room. I walked around in the fellowship hall and got a soda. I read for a while and eventually drifted off to sleep... It did freak me out though.

I don't know, it's most likely a piece of fuzz that happened to float by. It is an old church as I said and prone to collect dust. It is fun to speculate though. I mean, I think about 99 percent of this stuff is bollox but you never know. As Hamlet says, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy..." Indeed...

Monday, April 17, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This is a caricature of Charles Darwin I just finished... Strange that I should finish this the day after Easter--when we Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior by hunting colored eggs and eating ham. Why is that by the way? Why do we Christians eat ham--essentially, pork, on the day of Easter?? Is it sort of a final "screw you" to the Jews?? I don't know.

We had a great Easter. I helped with the sunrise worship service which was held this year, as every year, at historic Oakland Cemetary. It was a gorgeous morning and we had a huge crowd. Afterwards, I went home to change into some nicer clothes and help Mandy get Leo dressed for church. He had this WONDERFUL little outfit. I can't believe it... His first Easter!

After church we went to our friend Linda's for an AMAZING meal! Yes, we did eat ham. Following lunch, we all came home and promptly passed out. It was just a great day!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This was an illustration I did a while back as part of a larger series. It was all supposed to be for a picture book called "THE BIG BOOK OF MOOD." I still may finish it one day. Right now, I simply have too many projects to finish and too little time to do them!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
Well folks, friends and family, I went and had the old colon examined yesterday... First things first, I am all clear and have a nice big healthy colon.

The day started off with me laying on the couch with Leo--unable to sleep. I was pretty nervous with the effects of the previous day's prep still rumbling down below. Leo an I lounged on the couch for a couple of hours in the early morning. I was debating whether I should take him to his momma for a little ealry morning feed while I jump in the shower and have another in a series of anxiety attacks... I opted for the shower.

At around 8:15 our preacher and good friend Susannah showed up to care for Leo. We ran through his routine, etc... while I continued to worry and fight the unbelievable urge to run to the bathroom. Why am I so worried? I wasn't worried the day before, or the day before that. I was pretty well settled that everything was going to be fine. Now? Who knows... Anything could happen. I run through all possibilities--one of them involved the doctor coming in after the procedure and showing me a strange piece of hardware. "We found this. I'm not really sure what it is. It coould be an alien probe of some kind. We're sending you to the Jet Propulsion Lab for further analysis. Don't bother getting dressed."

9:00 we arrive to check in and I look around the waiting room. I am the youngest person there by about 25 years. Everyone has the same look of dread and impending discomfort. Some people are clearly there under the duress of their spouse. One older man, as he is being escorted back is asked, "How are you feeling today?" he replies, "Don't know yet..."

At about 9:30 my patient beeper thing goes off (sort of like what they give you at Red Lobster) and I am taken back to where the magic happens. The admitting nurse is amazed at my vitality as I sprint around the corner. I explain that it's all an act, I just want to get this over with. She replies that she hears that a lot.

An IV is administered despite my freakishly small veins. They ask another series of embarrassing questions and then I am wheeled into the "chamber." When the doctor comes in, a gentle looking Chinese man, he remarks, "My god, you're just a baby! What are you DOING here?" I am asking myself the same question when the nurse asks me how much sedation I prefer. Are you kidding? I want TOTAL SENSORY DEPRIVATION!!! I am watching as she injects something into my IV. She has a knowing smirk on her face. While I am waiting to feel comfrtably numb, I look over and see the endoscope being "prepped" and I wonder, just how much of that long bastard are they going to stick up there? I am pondering the possibility of perferation when I am suddenly semi-alert in the recovery room. I guess it's all over! Mandy is there looking alternately embarrassed and as if she is sick from laughing. Apparently I shouted "Far out man! Far Fucking Out!" as I was coming out of the anesthesia. I then cut loose a barrage of roaring farts that would have blown the walls off an abrams tank--which prompted a feeble "Bravo" from one of the nurses in the recovery area. The Doctor eventually comes in and gives me the whole play by play which culminates in an "ALL CLEAR!" He says I shouldn't need to come back until I am 50. I couldn't be happier.

I spend the rest of the day in a relative daze--but somehow manage to put together a portfolio for a prospective client. Go figure. Anyway, here's to good colon health!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


All done and all clear... More detailed post to come after the effects of the anesthesia have worn off.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


In less than five days--well, let's just say next Tuesday, I'll be having a camera snaked up my you-know-what to see what, if, anything is up there... Of course, I am scared. I am scared, not of the actual procedure per se--although it doesn't sound like a day at the beach, but of the possibility that there might be something seriously wrong. My gut tells me (no pun intended--really) that there's nothing to worry about. Rationally, I know that I am a young man--reasonably healthy, if a bit overweight. I know that the chances of me being eat up with colon cancer are less than average--rationally I know all this. I haven't had any other complaints or symptoms. Still, you never know...

Still, I can't help but worry. I can see the doctor coming into the room, his brow furrowed with concern. He struggles with the words, "We found something, this area here (shows me the picture). I took a biopsy. We'll just have to wait and see." In the meantime, I am swallowing the giant lump in my throat. How will I break the news to my family? How can I support my wife and child with a tumor up my butt? I imagine the months of treatment to follow, the awesome journey of self-discovery--worthy of it's own movie of the week on Lifetime. I see myself swimming into the Atlantic ocean toward the end. I look to the sky and shout to the heavens, "I want to LIVE!!!" I think that may have been in another movie I saw a long time ago... Anyway...

I'll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Ward-O-Matic has a great post about what movie theatre owners are telling Hollywood... MAKE BETTER MOVIES! I thought I'd weigh in myself as a self-avowed movie geek.

First, there is a ton of speculation as to why people have been staying away from the movies this past year--Entertainment Weekly did a great little piece on it a few weeks back. Bad films, expensive concessions, cell phone madness, CRAZY ticket prices... These were all cited as reasons why the film industry and theatre owners have lost audiences. I tend to think it's a combination of all or some of these factors.

1. Let's look at quality. Do movies stink any worse now then they did last year? Ten years ago?? Twenty years ago? I'm not sure how to quantify that exactly--although I'll go out on a limb and say probably not. I will concede that I have been less excited about going to the movies lately--nothing much interesting me. From my own experience, I can tell you that the movies I have gotten excited about in the past five years were blockbusters, LORD OF THE RINGS and, yes, the STAR WARS films. Now the STAR WARS movies were good eye-candy but not what I would call "really good." But LOTR was and is something I will watch again and again--which brings me to a central point, repeat viewing. One way that theatre owners make a lot of money is by letting a blockbuster hang around for a long time while people see the movie again and again. Say Bob goes to see KING KONG on opening day. He loves it and that weekend he goes again with some friends and maybe those friends each see it again and so on and so on. Think of the concessions sold... That's just a theory I sort of thought about--nothing I know for sure. I have heard that that is one of the reasons TITANIC did so well was that people were just seeing it again and again and again. These days, one only need wait a few months before the director's cut is released on DVD and they can watch it at home--complete with the key grip's commentary. I don't know. I don't think movies are especially worse now than they were, say, five years ago. I just think that people are going to think twice about plunking down $30.00 for tickets and concessions for a movie that, I don't know, might be okay but do we really need to pay all that just to catch a glimpse of Angelina Jolie's bare nipple? I mean, I got cable... I'll see all the nipples I want at home!

2. Concessions. They are just outrageous. Next.

3. Cell phones. This is a particularly sore subject with me. I have seen people answer their phone in the middle of a movie and then threaten the life of the poor bastard who complains. Conversely, I have seen an entire theatre practically disembowel another poor bastard who forgot to turn his phone off. In this latter example, the guy just frantically fumbled with the phone as it screamed the theme from Shaft--all while his fellow moviegoers were cursing him with language that would make Mamet blush. Personally, I HATE it when somebody's phone goes off. It makes me crazy. I heard today on NPR that some theater owners are trying to get the FCC to let them scramble cell phone signals. Wha? That seems a little excessive. I think I would prefer a more direct ad campaign. Picture this, before the FEATURE PRESENTATION, Jack Black or some other popular actor, comes on screen and simply says, "If you don't turn off your cell phone now, YOU ARE A SELFISH DICK!!! Thank you and enjoy the show."

4. Couples. I recognize that this post is less about quality movies and more a rant about what annoys me at the movies... So what. I'm rolling. Now, couples. You know who you are. You are the ones who put up the arm rests at stadium theaters and snuggle and coo and smooch and feed each other popcorn and share your one big coke and basically make the rest of us want to, first, puke, and then, kill you. Let me say this. SHUT THE F**K UP. Sit in your seat and watch the screen and keep your hands in your lap.

5. Movie talkers. Again I say, SHUT THE F**K UP!! What makes people think that it's okay to speak AT ALL during a movie? What? Tell me? I'm serious. I've had people I love run their mouths the entire movie AFTER I have told them to shut it. I am not interested in your commentary. I like to be totally immersed in the complete movie experience and when you start in with your running color comentary it kills it for me. And for those of you I don't know, shut your suckhole during the movie. I'd like to insist that you shut it during the trailers--which I love--but I realize that's asking a lot.

6. Late arrivals. This is more of a nagging annoyance. I realize that not everyone needs to see the previews and not everyone really cares about where they sit. I like to get there early. People who know me, know this about me and love me anyway. It drives me nuts to go to the movies with people--I show up to pick them up and then they screw around until about fifteen mnutes before showtime and then say, "What are you so worked up about? We have PLENTY of time."

I don't know... I guess I just needed to get all that off my chest!

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Four movies I would (AND DO) watch over and over:
1. Star Wars (Original Trilogy)
2. The Big Lebowski
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
4. A Mighty Wind--really anything by this crew...

Four places I have lived:
1. Clemson, SC
2. Rock Hill, SC
3. Boston, MA
4. Atlanta, GA

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. Lost
2. The Office (Original BBC version)
3. Survivor
4. House

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. St, Thomas, USVI
2. Edisto Beach
3. St. George Isl., FL
4. Isle of Palms, SC

Four websites I visit daily:
1. Folioplanet
2. The Onion
4. (a friend's blog)

Four Favorite Foods:
1. Sushi from Aloha--a takeout place in ATL
2. Good pizza
3. Mandy's stepmom's mississippi mud cake...
4. Snow Crab Legs

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Fishing in the intracoastal waterway...
2. Fishing in the surf at Edisto.
3. Fishing in the Chatooga River
4. Really, fishing anywhere...

That's it for now... Thanks Sal. This was fun...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This is an image from a story I am working on... You gotta love little robots...

Monday, March 06, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This past Sunday, Leo was surrounded by both his church family and his REAL family as we all together celebrated his baptism. It was a great day--over 15 family and friends came to visit.

One note, the gown he is wearing the same one my grandfather wore to his baptism. It was very old and fragile...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
I had the old sketchbook out last night while I was watching television. First we watched Days of Our Lives (I know, it's a cheesy soap, but what can one do?)... This is a sketch of Victor from Days. He has sort of a square shaped head. Check out some of the other sketches by clicking on the pic...

Sketching is a great way for me to keep those all important drawing skills honed and sharp. Somehow, though, my I always seem to prefer sketches to the finished illustration. What does that say about me as an illustrator? Huh...

Monday, February 27, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This is this week's Illustration Friday topic... Thought I'd get a wee bit of a jump on this one...

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
Another image from this story book portfolio I am working on. I am attempting to drum up some work in children's publishing and I am hoping these images will help.

My wife, Mandy says that this is too scary--too dark for kids... I don't know, I always liked a little darkness in my stories as a kid. Somehow, the stories that scared me a little bit were always my favorites. "Where the Wild Things Are" and, when I was older, "James and the Giant Peach" were stories that had a real impact on me. I suppose that there is an argument to be made that there is so much in the world today that is frightening to children, why do we need to scare them with books? I would argue that a little scare is a good thing... It raises the stakes and pulls kids further in. Maybe, I just have too much of a dark side...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
This is an illustration I am working on for a story project... Really, this is an opportunity for me to build some portfolio pieces while I indulge my imagination a little bit.

I am working on several stories intended for children at the moment--all of them lean a little toward the dark side. I guess this is because the stories that really spoke to me as a child were darker stories, stories with an edge. I love the dark stories and pictures of Maurice Sendak... Not to mention Roald Dahl.

This has been a challenge for me since I am not really a writer--I mean I have DONE some writing... Nothing like this. I am also really trying to adjust my illustration style a bit for some of these stories. I want to keep the painterly look while simplifying the figures and scenes. I am trying to do more with color while I am more intentional about my line-work. Like I said it's a challenge.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


"It's not the years honey... It's the mileage."

My body is falling apart.

First, I am due to have a camera stuck up my bum on the 21st of March. That gives me a little over a month to totally freak out... I hear the prep work for a colonoscopy is a real blast too! Can't wait!

And now, based on my last urinalysis, I have some protein in my pee so now my doctor wants me to do a 24 hour collect to make sure my kidneys aren't doing something they aren't supposed to be doing. I had a kidney stone about three years ago... Maybe the fuckers are making more rocks for me to discover later!

I am not the physical specimen I would like to be that's for sure. I had some friends tell me about a month ago that, in spite of how heavy I was, I sure didn't look it. Sort of like, "Geez James. In spite of being a total fatass, you still look okay..." I snore now, which I never did before. I have to get into shape. I don't need to look like Brad Pitt--or even that Eric Bana guy, I just want to loose a little around the middle. I'd love to get back down to 185. That was a good weight for me. Really, I just want to be healthy. Sheesh...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Well, due to some recent dodgie-ness in the old tum tum, I had to make a visit to my friendly neighborhood doc this afternoon where I underwent a somewhat humiliating examination... It turns out I have to have a colonoscopy. That's right, some doctor is going to have to snake a camera up the old laundry shoot to see if there's anything up there that shouldn't be. Needless to say, I am somewhat terrified.

First, a thing about me and doctors. I have always been just a FREAK when it comes to visiting a doctor. I don't know why... I take that back, I DO know why. It's because I am a raging hypochondriac. It's somewhat better since I've gotten older, but I still turn into a giant toddler when it comes to going to the doctor. One thing, those little gowns they give you?? What purpose does this useless garment serve? It's pitifully inadequate to keep you warm and it hides NOTHING. Plus, they make you leave it open in the back so you look like an idiot. Try acting cool with one of those things on. Also, I am such a fat-arse that it probably wouldn't have even been able to tie closed--even if I had had someone there with me who wasn't totally repulsed or doubled over with laughter to tie it. I hate it...

So anyway, the doc says that the big "C" is pretty far down on her list but that it is, nonetheless, something they have to rule out. We'll see. I am, as ever, an eternal optimist. I just keep thinking about those movies where the main character gets cancer and dies and everyone is sad but ultimately able to get on with their lives. Think TERMS OF ENDEARMENT or BRIAN'S SONG or LOVE STORY, the list goes on. I don't know what is in store for me. I hope this will just be another "procedure" that ultimately leads nowhere scary. Still, I keep thinking worst-case scenario--which just sucks because we have a new baby. I don't want the first years of my son's life to be about him watching me wither and die--which is probably what sent me to the doctor in the first place. I don't know... Mandy is totally tired of hearing me whine and wax maudlin over this stuff. She has enough on her plate to have to deal with her idiot husband's hypochondriosis. So, in short, stay tuned. I'm sure I'll have a lot to write about in the near future!

Monday, February 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
Well, for those of you who don't know... Our son, Leo James Palmer was born two months early on December 12th of last year. He is doing great but I have been swimming in the joys of parenthood and have been unable to get much done--let alone post on the 'SMEAR.

I am back now... Ready to comment and pontificate and, yes, whine about life in the past two months. Currently, work-wise, things have been alternately wonderful and incredibly frustrating.

One of the GREAT things has been this site I helped illustrate and animate for Ant Farm Interactive. Take some time to check it out. It was a lot of fun and I am very proud of the result. I mainly did the illustrations and a tiny bit of animation so it was great to see what they were able to do with the stuff...

On to the frustrating end of things... I have been trying to find an art rep for the past month. It's been incredibly humbling and frustrating--mainly because I have been roundly rejected by about every rep I have contacted--well at least the ones who took the time to write me back. One rep wrote that my work was in no way appropriate for children... Oh well... Stay tuned!!