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artist cafe web extraMy friends at WSKG sent me a  video yesterday of a new , very short feature that they call a Web Extra , which can be also used on television as a sort of filler in the interval between scheduled programs.   This particular one was taken from outtakes from the interview that took place for the segment featuring my work that appeared on their Artist Cafe program as well as on WNET’s MetroFocus in the Tri-State area.  The actual interview had many things and subjects that didn’t make the final cut into the finished segment.  This Web Extra features some of my thoughts on the Red Tree.

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breaking-bad-posterI am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!

–Walter White

*********************

This was the response from Walter White, the geeky high school chemistry teacher turned drug lord, to his wife Skyler’s fears that he would someday answer the door and be shot down by the thugs with which he was now associated.  It was a hallmark moment in the AMC series Breaking Bad,  which returns tonight to begin an eight episode wrap-up to Walter’s  saga.

And what a staggering saga it has been.

Creator Vince Gilligan and actor Bryan Cranston have treated us over the last several years with one of the most fascinating heroes in television or film.  I use the term hero very loosely here.  Cranston’s Walter White at once gives you every reason to root for yet despise him.  He is highly intelligent which gives him  the ability to find rationale for the most deplorable moral decisions, each of which seems to send him into a deeper descent into the bowels of some evil hell.

He has went from the cowering weakling to the one who knocks, gun in hand.

Yet, we still somehow root for him to pull out of it, to find that moral root of rightness that appeared to be with him at the beginning of this journey.  I think that’s the brilliance of this show, taking a person who we easily relate to and putting him into situations that are so far from what we would normally face that it leaves us wondering if we are any different, any better  than Walter.    In Walter, we see the same fears and weaknesses that most of us possess, things that could easily lead us into bad situations given the right (or wrong) circumstances.  Do we have that same capacity for rationalizing our own poor moral decisions rather than seeing the obvious wrongness in them and doing what we know is right?  This show brings it into doubt.

It’s been a ride that leaves me cringing and gasping with every twist that Vince Gilligan throws into it.  I have come to expect the completely unexpected with this show.  I am sad  see it wrapping up for the pure wonder of its storytelling but relieved to see it end for the questions it raises about us all.

On a lighter note, for those who haven’t partaken of this particular treat, here’s a video that gives a very abridged rundown on what has happened thus far in the form of a Middle School Musical.

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WSKG Artist Cafe- GC Myers Back in march, I wrote here  about a film crew, Tina Reinhard and Christy Lantz,  from WSKG-TV that had come to my studio to record a segment for a regional TV show  focusing on the arts, both regionally and nationally.  Today is the first airing of that short interview that is one of the segments for the show, Artist Cafe, that is shown locally on public television channel WSKG.   The program also features segments on the movie Life of Pi and  Hamlet from PBS‘ Shakespeare Uncovered.

Artist Cafe shows today at 5:30 PM and there is a re-broadcast on Thursday, June 16th, at 10 PM.  It will also be available in the future on their website as well as on their YouTube channel.  I will let you know when they are up online.

Many thanks to Tina, Christy and WSKG for giving me an opportunity to appear on their show.

Have a great day!

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GC Myers Studio March 2013Well, the folks from WSKG came to my studio  the other day and filmed my segment for their Artist Cafe program.  As I mentioned the other day, I was somewhat ambivalent about the whole thing, never feeling comfortable painting in front of people.  I generally concentrate on the surface and often completely block out much of the world around me.  If I am listening to music or have a movie on the TV, I often miss whole passages because I am so focused.  I can never really get to that point with people around.

But the people that came to film and interview me, Tina Reinhard and Christy Lantz, were very easy to work with and I did paint for them to film.  I did limit myself to one of the primary layers of brush marks  that make up the sky on a painting that I had started a day or two before but they were able to film me while I painted.  It’s work that requires just random strokes, most of which will never be seen but are integral to the way I work.

Overall, the interview went fairly well.  At least I think it did.  Both Tina and Christy seemed to think it went well, although based on their genial natures, I would be shocked if they told me it was awful.  The questions were basic and I stumbled several times even on the questions that I’ve been asked a hundred times before, with some answers less complete than I wished they might have been when I thought about it later.  It’s good that it’s not a live segment so that a lot of tape and editing can make me at least sound coherent.  It’s only a 5 or 6 minute segment so you never really know what clips are going to be chosen to be shown.  So even though there seemed to be a direction in which the interview was moving, I won’t know until I see the final product if it was the same one that I thought it might be.

Again, thanks to Tina and Christy for being so gracious while working with me.  Both are seasoned pros so they weren’t flustered by anything.  I am currently cat-sitting my brother-in-law’s round tiger cat, Lucky, in the studio.  I thought she might run and hide when they showed up but she was instantly attracted to both of them, swatting at cables and climbing in their gear bags.  Lucky for Lucky that they were both cat people.

During the shoot Lucky began running through the studio, between me and the camera which made me look and laugh as well  as provide loud thumping noises from her paws which were audible on the film.  I decided to confine her to a bedroom at the other end of the studio but while we filmed, her pleading meows came through loud and clear on the recording.  we took a short break and Lucky was sent to cat prison, Cheri coming to take her safely out of earshot.  Tina and Christy took it all in stride, thankfully.  You can see Lucky under the window in the photo above as well as the painting on the easel on the left that I worked on during the shoot.

Tina said that she thought it would be sometime in mid to late May.  I will let you know when the program will definitely air and when it will be available on their YouTube channel.  Maybe…

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WSKG Artist CafeI spent yesterday afternoon straightening up my studio a bit, something that I’ve been putting off for some time now.  It really needed tidying and I really did want to de-clutter the place just for the calming effect it normally has but it took the threat of  having a television camera coming in today to put me in action.  Our local PBS channel, WSKG, is showing up here this afternoon to shoot a segment for their Artist Cafe program.  It’s a weekly half hour program with three or four short stories featuring artists from a wide variety of fields.  Some stories are local and some feature folks of national prominence.

I am somewhat ambivalent about the whole thing, to be quite honest.  I am never too comfortable with anyone in my studio space, let alone a stranger with a video camera. Add to this the fact that  I am always wary of anything where I have no control over the final outcome, especially when it comes to my work, and I am made even more anxious.  I always like to set the narrative and while I may know what I will say today, I will not know how it will be presented.

But it will be good to get an idea of how my space looks to the outside world and I am to see how someone who is only slightly acquainted with my story and work will put together the segment.  So perhaps there is a positive spin to be put on this whole thing.  I have been impressed with the shows I have seen so far from this program that debuted late this past year.

Here’s a recent episode that features writer R.L. Stine, known for his Goosebumps  book series;   artist Allen Denny Smith, an Elmira artist whose recent forays into color abstractions has produced some really powerful work ; and  Lady Fiona Carnarvon , the real life resident  of the estate better known to the world as Downton Abbey– hey, it is PBS and that series has paid a lot of bills for them over the last few years!  I will let you know when my episode airs but for now enjoy.

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Breaking AbbeyTonight’s the much anticipated American debut of Downton Abbey‘s third season.  I know that I’m looking forward to get my fix of the drama following the family and serving staff of a huge British manor as it struggles, financially and socially,  through the changing times around World War I as the era of the great landed estates nears its end.

Speaking of needing a fix, a few weeks back, in response to his faux outrage over Michelle Obama getting a preview of the new episodes ahead of the general public,  Stephen Colbert presented a video featuring three of the main characters from the series in a parody.  They were supposedly reading lines from the upcoming season of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, the series dealing with the story of a  science-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin.  If you’re a fan of either series, or both like me, you may get a kick out of this uncensored mash up.  Maybe they can next do a Homeland/Mad Men version with Carrie and Saul carrying out the parts of Don Draper and Roger Sterling?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Uncensored – Breaking Abbey
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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It’s fitting that on this American holiday that we mark the passing of an actor who represented an idealized slice of Americana.  Andy Griffith, who died yesterday at the age of 86, was best known for his portrayal of Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show.  On the show he and his deputy, the immortally funny Barney Fife, prowled the mean streets of Mayberry, a gentle North Carolina that has come to symbolize  America’s rural past for many.  Andy administered an equally gentle brand of justice with folksy common sense  and patience.  Of course, no real town could live up to the idyllic nature of Mayberry where everyone got along and even Otis the town drunk was lovably comic but it didn’t matter.  It was a lovely comic fantasy that was easy to buy into.

I know that I did.  I can still watch the show and laugh out loud or be touched when Andy straightens out Opie with a folksy moral tale.  A pure slice of goodness.

The flipside of that goodness was exhibited in Griffith’s performance in the 1957 film from Elia Kazan, A Face in the Crowd.  It’s a dark satire that chronicles the rise of Griffith’s character Lonesome Rhodes from drifting drunkard to a national media star  with great influence over public opinion that he wields in a cynical fashion.  Lonesome Rhodes is a classic film character, a larger than life personality that is a little over the top  with a veneer of charm and charisma that hides a truly nasty inner core.  He’s a far cry from anyone ever seen in Mayberry.   A Face in the Crowd is a great, great film that still rings true today.  I periodically hear rumors of people wanting to remake it today and I always hope that they let it be as it is.  I don’t think you could have a better Lonesome Rhodes than Andy Griffith.

Have a great 4th of July.  Here’s a taste of Lonesome Rhodes:

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I have never seen the HBO series True Blood.  Maybe I’m reticent to get sucked into the current vortex of popularity created by the return of vampires and zombies in pop culture.  I don’t know, but I have never felt a strong desire to watch the show.  Maybe that will change.

One thing that might make me switch on True Blood is their use of music in the show.  Apparently, each episode is titled after a piece of music that is used in that show.  I came across one such piece of music created for an episode that really piqued my interest.  It’s a remake of the 1964 hit She’s Not There from the classic 60’s British Invasion band, The Zombies, performed by my favorite, Neko Case, and the provocative Nick Cave.  I immediately knew that this would not be your typical cover/remake.

Normally, I wouldn’t even want to hear a remake of a song like She’s Not There.  It has held up spectacularly well over the almost 50 years since it was released, as do several of The Zombies’ other songs.  Probably why they still perform and tour after a half decade.   But the idea of these two performers singing it expressly for a vampire series brought up some the possibility of something different than a straight cover.

And I was right.  It has a creepy Cajun bayou thump in its bass and with Nekos’s voice soaring over Cave’s growl, it makes a compelling cover.  Old yet new.  Like a vampire, I guess. 

So, here I am, despite my protests, endorsing a song made for vampires originally sung by zombies.  Here is the new cover with Neko and Nick (hey, that’s kind of catchy) and, if you’d like to compare, the original from The Zombies.

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It was 42 years ago today that the BBC first broadcast a sketch comedy show that ran for only 45 episodes over four season but has endured the many decades since, inspiring countless adolescents and adolescent-minded adults such as myself with a brand of humor that was smart and irreverent.  And silly and ridiculous.  I am, of course, talking about Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

While it had a relatively short lifespan on television, the Monty Python name survived through a series of films over the years that have gained cult status including Monty Python and the Holy Grail which became the Broadway hit, Spamalot.  I remember going in high school to first see the film at a downtown theatre that no longer exists.  It was playing on a double bill with a much cruder and pretty much forgotten film, The Groove Tube. I can’t recall much about The Groove Tube but for The Holy Grail I mainly remember laughing with joy, even through the final credits.  I’ve seen the film dozens of times over the years and always find myself giggling like a kid a each.

Many of the skits have become embedded in the consciousness of the population.   You still hear of high school kids today who revere the show and can and do recite many of the skits verbatim, much to the delight of many around them, I’m sure.  Did I say delight?  I meant chagrin.  Okay, the skits are funny– when Michael Palin or John Cleese or the other Pythons are doing them.  But I’m glad that their humor still makes the young giggle in the same way that I experience those many years ago.  Hopefully, when I’m many years older, I’ll be shaking my fists at kids to get the hell off  my lawn and to stop singing that damn Lumberjack song!

Here’s a taste of the Pythons.  It’s their classic SPAM  skit, with all the shrillness that Terry Jones can muster as the waitress.

 

 

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I’ve written here before about how we follow the Tour de France each year and normally that is the extent of our cycle racing for the year.  Cheri tries to keep up with the tours around the world but news reports are few and far between outside of the Tour de France and its extensive coverage.  Well, starting today there is a new race bringing many of the world’s top racers and their teams here to the USA for a gruelling trek through the Colorado Rockies.

Called the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, this event covers 7 days of racing over some of the highest mountain terrains.  All of the racing is at elevations over 6000 ft and several of the peaks they are scaling reach well over 12000 ft, more than 2000 ft above the the summits they faced in the Tour de France.  It will be an exciting race that should be a real test of endurance over extremely high altitudes. 

Tour champion Cadel Evans and runners-up Andy and Frank Schleck are among the elite cyclists that will hopefully make this into an even more anticipated event in the future.  It would be great to have a showcase here in the states that gets the type of coverage that allows casual viewers to see  the excitement  and drama of the racing combined with spectacular scenery that makes cycle racing a compelling sporting event.  Hopefully, the organizers of this race have set up a course that showcases these strengths.

The race begins today with a short time-trial held in Colorado Springs before heading to the high peaks.  It is being covered by NBC and shown on its Versus network, beginning at 4 PM EST.

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