Watch Out Flintstones… Here Come The Croods!

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

"The Croods" New York PremiereI recently was lucky enough to watch an exclusive viewing of DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming movie The Croods, set to release tomorrow, March 22.  I had my reservations at first thinking would just be Ice Age all over again, except with people instead of animals as characters.  But with a cast list of Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage, Cloris Leachman, and more I thought there has to be something good about it to attract so many great names to the project.  Despite my hatred of the new trend to put everything, including this viewing, in 3-D, I ended up really enjoying the movie.  Don’t worry, I won’t give away anything that wasn’t in the previews.

the_croods_2013-wideNicolas Cage plays the voice of Grug, a caveman that has kept his family alive by teaching them to avoid anything new.  This lesson doesn’t sit too well with his daughter Eep, voiced by Emma Stone.  Eep loves being out in the world and feels trapped when the family is forced into the cave for days at a time.  When Ryan Reynolds’ character Guy shows up announcing the end of the world, it sparks a journey for a safer place where they can all survive.

While I know it can be trying on a parent’s patience to take kids to movie after movie that all rely on the same fart jokes to get your kids laughing, you don’t have to worry about that this time.  Most of The Croods’ body-related humor is more akin to animated slapstick.  But thankfully that isn’t the only thing that’s funny.  You can only watch a cartoon character get struck by lightning so many times before you get tired of it.  There’s a lot of humor in the comparisons between Guy and the Croods because he’s slightly further along on the scale of human evolution.  Families will be able to relate to this cave family as they learn and grow together.

thecroodssneakpeek-11413If you still aren’t sold on the movie from previews, cast, and the idea of family bonding, maybe the animation will be the last push you need to get on board for this movie.  The Croods themselves are drawn well so that you can believe them as cavemen without going too far and making them look deformed.  But the real artistry is in the sceneries and animals throughout the movie.  The animators do a wonderful job creating both desert and jungle landscapes for the characters to travel through.  But I have to tip my hat to the mind behind the different types of animals that the characters encounter.  The use of color and imagination to combine different species that will eventually evolve and split to be the animals we know today is probably my favorite part of the art in this movie.  If you haven’t already bought your ticket what are you waiting for? The Croods is a treat for the whole family.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

Join The Threadless Community!

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

threadless_blackIf you haven’t heard of or checked out Threadless.com, now is the time.  It’s more than just your typical internet store; it’s an online community and a thriving business all at the same time with the two parts interwoven into one brilliant website.  The online community creates, submits, and votes on art to be put on shirts and other products, and then the business end takes the most popular designs and prints it to be sold back to the community and the rest of the world.  It’s really a genius concept when you look at it Beautiful Thinkers.

636x460design_01Co-Founders Jacob DeHart and Jake Nickell started the company with just $1,000 and an idea back in 2000.  They held the first contest in November of that year asking designers on a site called Dreamless to submit designs and vote for which they thought was best.  The winners got two free shirts and a guarantee that all profits from the sale of the shirts would go towards the future contests.  The first batch of shirts went on sale for $12 each in January, 2001.  When the shirts sold out almost immediately, Nickell and DeHart started holding regular competitions.

636x460design_01-3The idea for Threadless grew steadily from there making over $100,000 worth of t-shirts in 2002.  After separating from Dreamless, Threadless began offering cash prizes to the artists that got voted to the top.  At first the prize was only $100 per design, which was fine with most artists.  They were much more excited to see their work being printed.  Now the prize money has grown to as much as $2,500 for the initial winning design and up to $500 for reprints of that design.  As an added bonus, Threadless makes sure to give credit where credit is due by printing the designer’s name on the tag of the shirt.

636x460design_01-5If you’re a freelance artist looking for new places to show your work or just an avid doodler, you could be the next big designer on this site.  There’s even a walk though on their site to make it as easy as possible for new designers to learn the submission process.  They pull anything from truly beautiful art work to just plain weird and funny designs.

If you’re not a designer, just a fan of original art and fun t-shirts, then you don’t have to be a member of the community to buy the designs you like.  While most of their t-shirts cost $20, savvy shoppers can usually take advantage of deals to find fun designs for cheaper prices.  For example, this week they are having a “Tons of $10 Tees” sale with over 400 different designs on discount. (All the pics featured here are available in this sale.)  You have to move fast when you’re shopping here though because once they run out of a size you’ll have to wait till the next printing before you get another chance to buy it.  I hope you enjoy this site as much as I have, I really think they have something for everyone.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

The Life and Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

basquiat_sig_335I’m looking at the life and art of Jean-Michel Basquiat today.  He was an artist that took the 80s by storm, but sadly died when he was only 27 years old.  Basquiat was born on December 22, 1970 in Brooklyn to Gerard, a Haitian-American father, and Matilde, a Puerto Rican mother.  His diverse background was a major inspiration in his art.  He started drawing at an early age on sheets of paper that his father brought home from work.

tumblr_lwujhtmnxL1qmi5x5o1_1280Basquiat received no formal art training, and in fact didn’t even finish high school.  He dropped out at age 17 with only one year left, and started doing graffiti along with his friend Al Diaz.  The two created the signing name SAMO© standing for Same Old Shit.  When the two went their separate ways, the last tag “SAMO© is dead” was spray-painted around lower Manhattan.  By 1978 Basquiat left home and was selling hand-painted postcards and t-shirts.

posterlux-basquiat_jean_michel-clio_team_1981_j_m_basquiat_acque_pericolose_acrylique_crayon_gras_et_spray_sur_toile_167_5x244_cm_princeton_university_art_museum_collection_the_schorr_familyIn 1980 his work was featured in a group show where it gained critical acclaim for the mix of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals.  From that point on Basquiat was on the rise.  His success came along side a wave of other young, experimental artist in the Neo-Expressionism art movement.  It wasn’t long before his paintings were selling for $25,000-$50,000.  Along with financial success he soon found himself collaborating with Andy Warhol, with whom he formed a close friendship.  Even though none of their collaborations gained the acclaim that their respective individual work received, the pair continued to work together on projects until Warhol’s death.

Jean-Michel BasquiatIt wasn’t long after Warhol passed that Basquiat died from an overdose.  Though he was very affected by his friend’s death it wasn’t the cause of his drug use.  It was well known that his friends worried about his drug use.  He tried to kick his addiction to heroine in 1988 by leaving New York for Hawaii.  A few months later he returned claiming he was sober.  Unfortunately he was tempted again when he came back, and on August 12, 1988 he suffered a fatal overdose.

When I first looked at his paintings I thought they were a hot mess.  But the longer I looked at each piece the more I grew to appreciate the words and symbols that are featured in the paintings.  His work still isn’t my favorite, but I can understand how the fresh style became popular so quickly.  His paintings are still sold for millions of dollars; the record price for one of his paintings was $16.3 million as of 2012.  Even if Jean-Michel Basquiat isn’t your flavor, looking at his art you’ll definitely see that he had his share of influence on the art world.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

 

Loving The New Album By Boy: Mutual Friends!!

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

BOY_MG_7468_by-Benedikt-SchnermannSo I’m sure that many of you already know that iTunes offers a weekly free song they call the “Single of the Week.”  It’s a great way to sample and discover new bands without paying for anything.  I try to remember to download every week’s free single; sometimes I love it, other times I hate it, as is always typical with free stuff.  But every once in a while the Single of the Week inspires me to check out the rest of the artist’s music.  That was the case with the single “Little Numbers” from the duo Boy.

It was actually a little hard to find any information on Boy as neither their Facebook nor website has a bio section.  Luckily the group’s record company Gronland Records and allmusic.com put up bio pages for them.  They were formed by Swiss singer Valeska Steiner and German musician Sonja Glass in 2007 in Hamburg, Germany.  Neither are boys though, so the group name is still a bit of a mystery.  After growing popularity in Europe for the past few years the group brought their debut album, Mutual Friends, to the US in February of this year.

boy-mutual-friendsThe album is available for digital download on iTunes and Amazon for $7.99, or for two dollars more you can order the physical CD off Amazon.  The iTunes digital version gives you one extra song, the acoustic version of “Little Numbers,” for the same price.  But the physical CD gives you both that song and the acoustic version of “Oh Boy.”  If you’re a digital person, iTunes is the way to go.  But if you really want that extra song enough to pay the two-dollar difference plus shipping (if you’re not an Amazon Prime member) then more power to you.

I went the iTunes route and can’t stop listening to “Waitress,” “Little Numbers,” “Drive Darling,” and “Boris.”  The rest of the album is good as well but these songs have earned places on my Weekly Faves playlist on my iPhone.  “Little Numbers” was the perfect Single of the Week to release.  It hooks listeners with its catchy lyrics and playful piano use; it drew me in and made me feel like I could relate to this group’s music.

BOYAccording to the record label bio, their songs are autobiographical.  “Drive Darling” is about Valeska leaving behind her friends and family in Switzerland.  I can definitely feel the sadness of leaving loved ones behind, but there is also a joy in the song for the road ahead.  “Waitress” captures the feeling of every writer, actor, musician, or creative person stuck in a dead-end job waiting for their break.

“Boris” has an almost hypnotic effect.  The song starts with the synchronized vocals from both group members while the lyrics portray an attempted seduction and the singer’s resistance to the seducer.  I think that Boy has created an enjoyable and interesting mix of emotions and stories in the songs of this album.  They are definitely worth checking out.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

shamrocksHappy St. Patrick’s Day! So in honor of this wonderful holiday and my own Irish roots I decided to look up the history of St. Patrick’s Day.  According to History.com it is the celebration St. Patrick who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.  March 17th marks the anniversary of the Saint’s death in the fifth century.  He is now known as the Patron Saint of Ireland and best remembered for using the shamrock’s three leaves to explain the holy trinity.

031813_weekendroundup_jp15.jpgIt might surprise you to know that Ireland didn’t always celebrate this holiday with the festivals and parades that it has today.  In fact there was a law mandating that all pubs would be closed on March 17th until it was repealed in the 1970s.  It wasn’t until 1995 that there was a national campaign by the Irish government to showcase Ireland and Irish culture with a multiple-day festival surrounding St. Patrick’s Day.  Now the St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin celebrates with parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother interesting fact is that the United States held the first parade in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  Irish soldiers serving in the English Military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762.  The celebration of this holiday continued to grow in the states from that time on.  By the late 1840s several of New York’s Irish Aid Societies united to form an official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Now there are hundreds of interesting ways of celebrating the holiday all over the United States.  My favorite form of celebration is the annual dyeing of the Chicago River green. This first started in 1962 when they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river, enough to make the river green for a week.  Now they only use 40 pounds of dye, enough to turn the river green for several hours.

Back when I was younger my mom came up with an awesome way to combine celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and a Dr. Seuss classic, so we had green eggs and ham as our St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.  I still haven’t had a St. Patrick’s Day that topped that one.  However you’re celebrating today I hope that you’re having an awesome St. Patrick’s Day.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

Through Violet Eyes! (I Need Contacts That Color)

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

267677I don’t usually go for crime fiction, we can get enough of that on practically every television station.  But Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth brings a science fiction twist to the genre.  The world Woodworth creates is almost exactly the same as ours with the exception of “Violets,” people born with violet eyes and the ability to channel the dead through their bodies.  But this gift isn’t doubted as “psychics” are in society today.  Instead, it is so widely accepted that these people are channeling the dead that they are assigned by the government to jobs that could utilize their unique talent.

through violet eyesNatalie Lindstrom, the protagonist of the novel, is a Violet and is placed in courts of law to summon the dead to bare witness as their murderers stand trial.  It’s a job she doesn’t particularly enjoy, but it seems that the violets don’t have a choice where they get assigned.  Pretty soon the violets become targets of a serial killer.  When the FBI steps in to try to stop the murders, Agent Dan Atwater is paired with Natalie so that she can summon the victims and help him find the killer.  Things get complicated when none of those Violet victims that Natalie channels can say what the killer looks like.  Dan and Natalie struggle to solve a case when all they know is that a faceless man is hunting down Violets.

I think the real reason to love this book isn’t the supernatural twist away from our reality, but for the writing itself.  Woodworth takes care to make sure that his characters are fully formed.  He gives them fears, desires, ambitions, and well-developed pasts to make them as realistic as possible.  This is especially important because it helps make this unreal world easier to step into.

stephenwoodworthIt’s clear that Woodworth thought about the Violets’ power extensively for this book, and also the rest of the books in the series: With Red Hands, In Golden Blood, and From Black Rooms.  Like many great powers the ability to summon the dead isn’t without its downsides.  There is the mental scar of seeing the death of every person that is summoned, and also creates a fear of elevators for Natalie.  There is also the problem of what to do when an unwelcome spirit comes knocking.  Woodworth answers this question and all of the others that I’m sure you’re already thinking up Beautiful Thinkers.  Next time you’re looking for a well written alternate universe, maybe give the Violet series a try.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

photo-1Keep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

 

Andy Warhol the King of Pop Art!

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

Andy-Warhol

Andy Warhol. I’m not even sure where to start with this man. Looking at his life I find him truly inspirational.  A successful artist, at the forefront of an artistic movement, and he was able to work in several different artistic mediums.  Warhol made a dramatic impact on the art world mixing commercial illustration with fine art.  He’s described as the figurehead of pop art, an art movement known for taking popular consumer culture and turning them into art.

Warhol’s first artistic influences came from his mother who taught him about drawing and painting when he was bedridden after contracting chorea.  He furthered his artistic education by going to the Carnegie Institute of Technology and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Pictoral Design.  He then moved to New York and became a very successful commercial artist doing illustrations and advertisements for Glamour magazine, Tiffany & Co., The New York Times, I. Miller Shoes, Columbia Records, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and other large companies.

CRI_159222He first started to gain recognition as a pop artist with his Campbell’s Soup Cans collection in 1962.  From there he went on to create images of other iconic products like Coca Cola as well as celebrity portraits including ones of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor.  Warhol’s success as a pop artist surpassed that of his success as a commercial artist and he grew to be a celebrity in his own right just as famous as those in his portraits.

In 1964 Warhol’s studio “The Factory” became the place to be to work with this artist.  He used this silver-painted space to mass produce his silkscreen paintings as well as dip into other artistic projects like film.  He made over 60 artistic films including ones called Sleep and Eat, which were hours of film devoted to a man sleeping and eating a mushroom respectively.  Another controversial film of his entitled Blow Job was a short of a man’s face as he reportedly received oral sex.  However the film never strays from the man’s face to show the actual sexual action.

warhol-eight-elvisesOne of the collaborating artists from “The Factory,” Valerie Solanas, made an assassination attempt on Warhol in 1968 when she shot him in the chest.  He survived the attempt on his life and recovered to continue his work for nearly two more decades.  At age 58, Andy Warhol died after what was thought to have been a successful gallbladder surgery.  He was taken back to his hometown of Pittsburgh to be buried by his two older brothers.  Even after his death his legacy lives on in The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Andy Warhol Museum.  In 2008 his Eight Elvises painting was sold for $100 million dollars making him one of the few artists to have a single painting sell for that amount of money.  This sale shows that Warhol is still as relevant today as he was during his life and probably for many years to come.

myimageKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

The Amazingly Talented Megan Hilty!

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

smash-star-megan-hilty-admits-her-marilyn-monroe-impression-is-not-very-goodShows like Glee and Smash are bringing “triple threats” back into the entertainment world.  Megan Hilty is the perfect example of this term.  Her role as Ivy Lynn on Smash showcases her fantastic acting, beautiful singing, and graceful dancing in every episode.  Before these shows this combined skill set was really only needed on the Broadway stage and in the few recent musicals-turned-films.  Not since the classic era of American musicals have we really seen a need for so many triple threats.

Megan_Glinda-aBefore landing her current role working alongside Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Katharine McPhee, Jack Davenport, and Christian Borle, she attended Carnegie Mellon University graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Theater.  Shortly after that she made her Broadway debut as G(a)linda in Wicked in 2005.  She also played the role of Doralee Rhodes in Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5: The Musical” in 2008.  Hilty went on to be featured as a guest star on several television shows including Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, Bones, and Family Guy.

Hilty has definitely found a wonderful role on Smash, but it’s obvious that she’s not going to settle for just playing Ivy Lynn for the rest of her life.  She is currently listed to play the role of the China Princess in the animated movie Dorothy of Oz set to release this year.  She’s also branching out of television with the release of her album It Happens All The Time this past Tuesday.  The album is available on iTunes but if you buy it from Target you get two extra songs, “Gravity” and “It Will Rain.”  Without these two extra songs the album is almost a 50/50 split of original songs and covers.

Megan Hilty-20120314-46The original songs are all beautifully emotional.  “No Cure,” the single she released prior to the full album release, is my favorite on the CD followed very closely by the album’s title song “It Happens All the Time.”  The music video for the song was put up on YouTube about a week ago, just before the CD.  It features Hilty alone in an apartment capturing a beautiful loneliness that resonates in the song’s lyrics, which appear in different shots as they are sung in the video.  Megan Hilty is quickly becoming one of my favorite rising stars, and if given a chance, I think you’ll grow to enjoy her just as much as I do.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

 

Calvin Klein Spring 2013 :/

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

S13_sliver_M_lkbk_204x485-30I just watched the Spring 2013 Provocations Campaign Film from Calvin Klein.  It’s an almost ten minute long video featuring Alexander Skarsgård and Suvi Koponen. The video features scenes involving fire in the literal sense that explodes out of nowhere and metaphorically coming from the interactions between the two stars.  But when I looked at the clothing they were wearing I didn’t see that fire.

S13_sliver_W_lkbk_204x485-5

The clothing wasn’t bad; it simply didn’t spark anything in me.  I felt like it had all been done before.  For example, the denim looked like it replicated The Outsiders (but honestly who hasn’t thought, “man I wish I looked like Ponyboy”).  The more elegant looks in the video stick to black and white, which is fine, but it doesn’t evoke the explosiveness that the video is trying to express.

S13_sliver_M_lkbk_204x485-36While perusing the collection I saw a couple looks that I might wear if I had the money to shop designers’ current lines.  But overall I was disappointed with Calvin Klein this campaign. The title Provocations feels like a let down in my eyes.  While I’m sure that it’s possible to be provocative while still holding on to elegance, they did not achieved that here.  The quote, “Our most prestigious and luxurious brand setting the tone of elegance and modern sophistication,” found on their website is more accurate to the brand’s 2013 Spring collection than the video.

S13_sliver_W_lkbk_204x485-19I could easily see people buying these clothes to fit in at a fancy dinner party or any similar occasion.  I’m not sure I can see anyone buying these pieces to stand out.  I don’t find myself envying those runway models or the people that will be able to afford to stay current because for me this spring collection just comes and goes for 2013.  Really the only thing this collection sparked in me is jealousy of Suvi Koponen for getting to be so close to her sexy 6′ 4½” Swedish costar.  But since that has nothing to do with fashion I think that it’s safe to say, fantasies aside, I’ll pass on the Calvin Klein Spring 2013 Provocations Campaign.

photo-11Keep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

Moment of Silence

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

Due to family tragedy I will not be posting something new today. Instead I ask that this post be treated as a moment of silence and you keep your loved ones in mind.

Stay Safe Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades