Saturday, December 22, 2018

Hermit Time (Extended Version) - "The Java Jive" (Ink Spots, 1940)



With the Christmas holiday landing on Monday and Tuesday, I have a four day weekend away from The Job.  Three of those four days I can spend as a hermit, working in the studio.

What's your favorite coffee related song?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Hermit Rants Once More


I could say that I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy. I have spent time in the studio, yes. I've also been wasting a lot of my time doing nothing productive, like spending way too much time on Facebook and Twitter.  I am endeavoring to change that in the next few weeks.

Oh, I know, of course the year is coming to an end and everyone will make these resolutions they'll most likely not keep.  I am not doing this as a New Year's Resolution, it's just timed that way.


I need to participate in more activities that are enriching.  Facebook and Twitter are not enriching, not in the least.  I log on, I see people share other people's posts (that are originally posted by someone else), or their dinner, or their alcohol they have chosen for the evening. or their pets.  I'm guilty of that, too.  They say admitting you have a problem....well, you know.


I have been thinking about doing this for some time, long before the New Year's Resolution talk started.  I have been reading more.  I'm on a Raymond Chandler kick, currently reading The High Window. I have a stack of books ready to read.  Yes, actually books.  I am weaning myself off of the Kindle.  More about that at a later date.


I also signed up for a year of Skillshare.  It's a website full of online classes.  My focus, of course, is art and art related business (freelancing, bookkeeping for artists, etc.) There's so much more. Cooking, writing, photography, computers, and much more.  I recommend it.  It's $99 a year for the premium level. That's $8.25 per month for unlimited classes.  Oh, and full disclosure:  If you follow the link and decide to sign up for 2 months of premium, I get extra time tacked on to my membership. 


So I guess this is less of a rant and more just a check-in.  I have been busy but my goal is to be busy with the things that matter.  I'm not leaving Facebook or Twitter any time soon, but other than an occasional post or something I automatically share (like my Etsy shop) I'm not sure I'm going to be as much of a presence on social media.  It's just become too cluttered and it's time for a change


I know, famous last words.


And in parting:




  • Have a good holiday however you choose to celebrate. 
  • Don't ignore magic when it occurs
  • Tell someone you love that you love them.  
  • Be kind to yourself and others. 
  • Engage in the things that matter, reject the psychic and emotional noise  that comes from every day life.  
  • Be a hermit at least once a week. 



Sunday, November 18, 2018

Balanescu Quartet - Democracy



From the 1994 Mute Records release "Luminitza."  The song, written by Alexander Balanescu, refers to the struggle to form a democracy after the 1989 fall of Nicolae Ceasescu in Romania.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hermit Music


While not officially Winter, it is cold outside.  This morning there is about a half inch of snow on the ground.  Hermit time is never that difficult, but when it's colder, it's even easier.  I plan on spending most of the day in the studio.  I have all the requirements needed to stay indoors:  food, coffee, movies, music, and posdcasts.  I have plenty of ideas for new artwork, so much I should probably make a list.  There is always a list in my head but the items are always changing, being forgotten, being displaced by new items, disappearing after a good night's sleep.

The other list in my head that keeps floating to the surface is The Hermit Time Manifesto, an ongoing work in progress.  

Last night I had a dream that I was trying to explain the Philip Glass opera Akhnaten.  I was very passionate in trying to get them to listen, even if they were (apparently) unfamiliar with Glass's work.  I am generally unfamiliar with most opera and perhaps that can change, but Akhnaten is one of my favorite pieces to listen to when it is Hermit Time.  If you are a fan of Philip Glass and have not listened to it, by all means, please do.  I recommend either headphones or, if you want to intrigue your neighbors, higher volume.  Of course, if you are trying to get mind work (reading, art, et cetera) perhaps a lower volume is suitable.

That being said, you can guess what I will be listening to this morning.

I have a collection, so to speak, of music that I designate "morning music."  The criteria, although not hard and fast, is that the music must be instrumental, not too quiet, not too rousing.  Some examples are

  • The later works of Philip Glass (especially those performed by Kronos Quartet)
  • Balanescu Quartet (any and all)
  • Erik Satie, Gymnopedie
  • Zoe Keating 
  • Gavin Bryars

Do you have any recommendations for morning music?  Leave them in the comments.

Well, on to my second cup of coffee.  I'm almost ready to get to work on art.  I suppose I should also get proper clothing on.  

I hope that you can, if you are seeking, find your own hermit time.



Friday, November 2, 2018

Bill Hicks - It's Just a Ride



I have to trot this one out once in a while if only to remind myself of Bill Hicks' message.  It comes from a man who we lost all to soon and I have to say there needs to be more Bill Hicks in this world and a lot less scaremongers and bedwetters.

You've never heard of Bill Hicks?  There is more on YouTube and on Amazon Prime.  Check him out.  Maybe he will help you open your eyes a little.  He definitely had a way of looking at things.

Monday, October 29, 2018

It's Down There Somewhere, Let Me Look Again...



Work toward your 
Buddha Nature
to be as laundry nature
or as oxygen nature
or dirty dishes nature

Always Present
Always Present
Always Present

--mbhill


Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Concept of Hermit Time




I rarely sleep in on the weekends.  On days I have to work, I struggle to get out of bed.  Saturday and Sunday morning, however, I am usually ready to start the day at 7:30 in the morning.  Just add coffee...

So yes, it's early and I'm awake and ready to start work in the studio.  I'm listening to The Decemberists for my morning music.  I have coffee to drink, music to get lost in, movies to watch, and no desire to go outside and interact.  All the ingredients necessary for "hermit time."

And what is hermit time, you ask?  It's recharging the psyche, resting the body, enjoying the quiet.  It's being able to listen to the noise (or otherwise) of your own choosing.  It's even something so simple and mundane as having your coffee in a glass or ceramic cup.  It's all of these things and more.  And to me, it's as necessary as the air I breathe or the food I need.

Some might call it self-care but I hesitate to do so.  That phrase is overused and is now co-opted as an excuse to blow off prior commitments.  "Oh I'm sorry I ruined our plans to have dinner, I needed self-care"  The idea of hermit time is, instead of breaking engagements, not making the plans in the first place.  For example, "I'm sorry I can't make it on that day, can we do it some other day?"  See the difference.  Hermit time hurts no one and can be beneficial for all involved.



In the coming months, I will write more about hermit time.  I hope that some day it will result in a more cohesive manifesto.  I have been asked by several people to explain what hermit time is and, well, I think it is a good focus of this blog.  Because another aspect of hermit time is, by all means, coffee before pants!  

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I Just Can't Keep Up!

I tried.  I really did.  I tried to do a daily post leading up to Halloween with movies and other things.  I quickly ran out of ideas.  Full movies are not that easy to find on the public domain.  Several of the ones I looked for on YouTube ended up being from someone with a video camera pointed at their TV.  No no no...

So, anyway, thanks for playing along the last week.  I will be posting soon.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Halloween - Curse of the Demon (aka Night of the Demon) 1957



I had to wait until I was well into adulthood before I was able to finally watch this movie.  I have a list in my head, there since childhood, of movies I hope to some day see.  Most of the horror films on this list are based of stills and articles published in, you guessed it, Famous Monsters of Filmland (see previous post).  Some of them were broadcast on television, edited of course.

This one, Jacques Tournier's Curse of the Demon, never made it onto any of the TV stations I had access to.  I had to wait until it finally came out on DVD.

It was well worth the wait.

The back story is that the demon wasn't supposed to be seen at all.  The demon figure, inspired by the engravings of William Blake, was added in post-production.  Not even the director knew about it.  I've tried watching the film and imagining the demon is only hinted at.  I just can't do it.  

I'll let you be the judge.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Halloween - Hammer Studios



When asked what my favorite horror films are, it's usually a film made by England's Hammer Studios. They introduced the world to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, for one. Their Dracula (played by Christopher Lee) was much scarier and more fierce that Lugosi's. The Frankenstein movies focused on Frankenstein (in Hammer films he was a Baron) and in each film he had a different creature. Hammer films were also the first where the vampires had fangs, the blood was bright red, and well, the monsters were scarier!

I wasn't sure if I wanted to post one of Hammer's many films or a documentary. It was easier to post a documentary, although I apologize for the inferior quality of the video. If you've never seen a horror film from Hammer Studios, I would recommend the two that started it all: The Curse of Frankenstein and The Horror of Dracula. The subsequent plot lines of the many sequels grew weaker with each film. By the end of each franchise, the writers were phoning it in, and the actors seemed, well, tired of the same old thing.

 Here are my top ten Hammer Films, in no particular order:
  1. Horror of Dracula
  2. Curse of Frankenstein
  3. Curse of the Werewolf
  4. The Mummy
  5. The Kiss of the Vampire
  6. The Plague of the Zombies
  7. Dracula, Prince of Darkness
  8. Revenge of Frankenstein
  9. The Brides of Dracula
  10. The Phantom of the Opera
Most, if not all, are available on DVD and/or BluRay.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Halloween - Famous Monsters of Filmland



This may sound like an exaggeration, but I really don't know where I would be today if it weren't for Forrest J Ackerman.  He taught me almost everything I wanted to know about horror films.  He was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Every other month I would have to check the magazine rack at the drug store to see if the new issue was on the magazine rack.  When I first started collecting them, I was 7 or 8 years old, they cost 50 cents.  The covers were in breathtaking color, usually painted by artist Basil Gogos.  The inside was black and white, printed on newsprint.  There were pictures and articles about the horror movies of the past, news of upcoming movies, and then there were the ads from Captain Company.  Captain Company sold horror and sci-fi memorabilia, toys, masks, and I wanted it all.

 



By the time I reached junior high, I had at least three stacks of past issues.  Then it was almost as if the writers and "Uncle Forry" had started to run out of things to write about.  Horror movies had experienced a drop in popularity, movie audiences were more interested in Star Wars and Fantasy movies.  The original publisher, Warren Publications, folded in 1983.  I had stopped buying Famous Monsters long before that.

There were many imitators in the game.  None of them held up because none of them had Forrest J Ackerman.  He was the original "fan boy," a collector of hundreds of pieces of memorabilia.  At one time he was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most horror and sci-fi memorabilia under one roof.  He referred to his house as the Ackermansion.  He was friends with Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Vincent Price, just to name a few.  He loved horror films and loved talking about them.

I never met him although I did get to correspond with him online.  In the mid 1990s he had a website and I decided I wanted to write him.  I told him that he was a big influence on my life, a childhood hero.  By that time, he was in his 80's, but apparently still going strong.

I didn't really expect a reply, but reply he did.  He said he loved my e-mail, thanked me for writing.  He said that if I were ever in the Los Angeles area that I should stop by and he would give me a tour of the Ackermansion.

It would have been wonderful.  I wish I would have been able to go.

If you would like to read more about Forrest J Ackerman, you can click here.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Halloween - The Cry of the Banshee (1970)



Cry of the Banshee (1970) directed by Gordon Hessler and starring Vincent Price, Essy Persson, and Patrick Mower.  Vincent Price plays Lord Edward Whitman who shows a sadistic in torturing and killing those accused of witchcraft.  He then makes the mistake of crossing Oona a matronly witch who refers to her followers as her "children."  Lord Whitman shoots and kills several of Oona's children on can be only described as a hunt.  Yes.  A witch hunt.

Of course, Oona vows revenge and summons an "avenger" in the shape of a Sidhe.  


You'll have to watch the movie to get the rest of the story.  And be sure to check out the wonderful opening credits.  Does the style of animation look familiar?  It should, it was done by none other than (pre-Monty Python) Terry Gilliam!


I see the trend in my favorite horror movies now.  Most of them were ones I watched when I was very young, either made-for-TV or at the drive-in theater.  There were at least five drive-ins in the area where I grew up.  I am pretty sure the last one standing was The Egyptian in Herrin.  It was still there as late as 1989, but it too finally met the wrecking ball.


I probably saw this in 71 or 72.  It took that long for the movies to make to the drive-in circuit then.  It is a film with very low lighting so I could barely make out what the Sidhe looked like.  I had to wait quite some time, fifteen years or so, before I could watch the movie again.  On VHS, of course.


This is not one of Vincent Price's better films.  It's not his worst, either, but director Gordon Hessler was not a great director.  Price hams it up more than usual.  This could have been so much better of a film in the hands of Roger Corman.  Nevertheless, it gave me at least a few nights worth of nightmares.  At 9 years old, that's the criteria.


Video courtesy of DailyMotion


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Halloween - Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)


Okay, I want to admit on thing at the start: this is a terrible movie.  The acting is awful, the production values are almost non-existent, and the direction...well...the less said, the better.

Still...having said all that, it's an incredibly fun movie and not entirely unwatchable.  It's one of my all time favorite "bad" movies. Directed by Al Adamson (Brain of Blood, Satan's Sadists), it was the final film of both Lon Chaney Jr and J. Carroll Naish.  It also has a cameo by Forrest J Ackerman, the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, the magazine of my youth.

I first saw this movie when I was 9 or 10, I somehow convinced my parents that we should go to the drive-in to see it.  It was at the Riviera Drive-In in Herrin, Illinois, the first of a double feature with "Horror of the Blood Monsters" another Al Adamson debacle.  My parents were patient and watched the whole thing, my Dad offering occasional commentary (Oh my god, this is terrible.  That guy is a terrible actor.  Etc) but I was riveted to the screen.  I'm not sure at that young of an age that I recognized how terrible this movie really was.

That hasn't prevented me from watching it over and over.  There are bad movies that are hard to watch because they're just...well..stupid.  I have yet to sit through Manos, Hand of Fate.  Not even the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version.  Then there are bad movies that are nevertheless fun to watch.  Al Adamson may not have had much directorial talent, but somehow you could tell that he put his heart into this movie.  Relatively speaking, it's one of his better movies.

Oh and Horror of the Blood Monsters?  My Dad started the car and left about 20 minutes into it.  I recently forced myself to sit through it and all I could think was 85 minutes that I will never get back.

If you would like to read more about the life (and grisly death) of Al Adamson, click here

Halloween - Crowhaven Farm (1970-TV)





This morning I realized that I had already forgotten to post a Halloween movie last night.

Here's another made-for-TV movie that deserves notice.  It was scary, especially for 7 year old me.  In the 70s there was a definite trend toward occult and supernatural thrillers.  Movies about witchcraft, devil worship, and the like were most likely inspired by the popularity of Roman Polanksi's "Rosemary's Baby."

Crowhaven Farm is a tight little movie.  The writing was pretty remarkable, the cast was phenomenal.  I could say it was great "for a made for TV movie" but that would sell it short.

See for yourself...




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Halloween - The Night Stalker (1972)





It's a little over two weeks before Halloween and it's my favorite time of the year!  For the next 15 days I will post movies that I loved as a kid (and still do).  The first movie is none other than The Night Stalker, starring Darren McGavin as intrepid newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak.

This movie has a special place in my heart.  ABC-TV promoted it all summer in 1972 for their upcoming fall season "Movie of the Week."  I was 9 years old and was even at that early age a huge fan of horror movies.  I waited, somewhat impatiently, all summer for the movie to finally be broadcast.  Finally the day arrived.

Bear in mind, this was 1972.  There were no VCRs, no cable.  If you missed a movie the first time, you were just going to have to wait until the following summer when they re-broadcast it on re-runs.

So like I said, the day arrived. My parents, my brother Marvin, and I finished dinner.  It was still 2 hours before the movie.  I could barely contain myself.

Then, my brother went to turn on the TV.  And nothing happened, except a loud pop.  I didn't know what a heart attack was but I was pretty sure I was about to have one.

I was beside myself with disappointment, near tears.  It wasn't fair.  I had waited ALL SUMMER...

My mom to the rescue.  She called the neighbor across the street, the Taylors, and asked if their daughters Sheree and Tracy would be watching The Night Stalker.  Yes!  And she asked if Marvin and I could come over and watch it with them since our TV went out.

Of course, they said.  I would not be robbed of seeing this most awesome movie.  

I have not outgrown watching The Night Stalker.  It is a great made-for-TV movies.  They used to make good made-for-TV movies.  Long before people settled for cookie cutter comedies and "reality TV."  Before HBO, before cable, long before Netflix.

I would suggest you try to evoke the wonder and awe of a 9 year old if you've never seen this movie before.  Then again, it's not really necessary.  It's an awesome movie.  One thing, though.  Please draw the curtain and turn out the lights!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Shut Out The Light





When most people think of Bruce Springsteen they think of the songs Born to Run or, I don't know, Dancing in the Dark.  Every Springsteen fan has their favorite song, their favorite album. When someone mentions Bruce Springsteen to me, this is the song that comes to mind.  It wasn't released on an album, only as a B-Side to the overplayed "Born in the U.S.A" from 1984.  It's basic story is of a man that has come home from the war in Vietnam.  Everyone around him welcomes him home as if he's merely been away.  But the chorus tells of what he is going through that no one else can see.


"Oh Mama mama mama come quick
I've got the shakes and I'm gonna be sick
Throw your arms around me in the cold dark night
Hey now mama don't shut out the light..."

The song, to this day, gives me goosebumps.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Let's Begin Again, Begin the Begin...


It's finally Autumn in Wisconsin and it's my favorite season.  I slog through the Summer, complaining about the heat.  I seek shelter in the comfort of air-conditioning.  I think it's ironic that I am also an art fair artist all through the summer.

Autumn is my season.  My creativity increases considerably.  I spend more time in my studio making art.  I also write more, which is one of the reasons I started this blog.


The focus of this blog is art, literature, music, and film.  Personal musings, perhaps.  And food, yes, there will be the occasional food post. I will try to not get too carried away with my political views.  I have a separate Twitter account for that.  However I make no excuses for being political and recognize that sometimes it just so happens that the aforementioned subjects can be prone to be political.


My intentions are to share the things I have a passion for (art, literature, et al) with others.  I plan to post book and movie reviews, local events which I may or may not be involved with, and other writings about other subjects.


Another reason I wanted to start (another) blog is that I have a desire to move away from directly posting on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  It just seems like a lot of energy spent that I could instead focus on my art and my writing.  I will most likely share this and future blog posts on these social websites but that involves writing one post and then clicking a button or two afterward.  Therefore, less energy expended.


So, welcome to the inaugural post.  If you at all are interested, please subscribe to be notified of new posts.  I am going to try to be regular with posts.  We'll see how that works out.