Point of Exquisite Suspension

Thoughts & life experiences of a Chicago area graphic artist

20 October 2017

My Cuban Missile Crisis Story


My brother Harlan, sister Alicia and I (on the toy plastic horse) in Florida in 1962.

When I was one year old, my mom, dad, and 4 other siblings moved from Peoria, Illinois to Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was 1961.

My mom was a school teacher and my dad was a factory worker. We were only there for a year or two (which is another story). But besides family photos, I have what I think could be one vague memory from that time. As an adult,  I asked my mom about it.

"Did you ever have a birthday party for me when were were there?", I said. I'm not sure if I detected a very slight tone of parental defensiveness in her voice, "I'm sure we did. We'd celebrate birthdays for all of you kids."

"It's just that...." I try to explain, "....I have a memory that I can't really figure out. I must have been young because I remember...I think...I was in a high chair and ...." I strain to verbalize the quavering imagery of the memory, "...and I'm fairly sure I'm at my own birthday party." I don't go into too much detail on the phone but I see, in my minds eye, there being a cake, the smiling face of my only sister, other happy people... and a brightness to the light coming in the window...and a green, lush quality to the outdoors that I can see through the back door leading out of the kitchen. "I think you gave me a toy truck as a present."

"We probably did. That sounds like something we would do." Mom said. I was disappointed that she could not remember it as well.

Later, I did some research into the timeline of world events happening at the time we stayed in Florida. I realized it was probably too much for me to expect my Mom would remember my birthday which falls on October 24th.

During October was when the most intense aspects of the deadly stand-off between United States and the Soviet Union over Soviet Missiles in neighboring Cuba took place. The so-named Cuban Missile Crises was surely the most dangerous pinnacle of tension between two world powers as ever seen in the history of our planet.

In other recollections, my mom told me that at her school, children were told to bring dry food goods in case they had to shelter there during a missile attack.

We were on the brink of nuclear war which most experts feel would have surely meant annihilation for the human race or, at least, life as we know it. At the very least it would have blasted us back into the Stone Age.

In, fact two days after my birthday that year, on October 26, the U.S. Stategic Air Command nuclear bombers were placed on the almost unthinkable level of a defense readiness condition: DEFCON 2. That is one level of intensity before all-out war (DEFCON 1). It has never been at that level before or since that time of geopolitical crisis. For comparison, during the attacks of 911, the U.S. war readiness was at DEFCON 3.

 But the world survived this contest of nerves. One year and a month after that, on November 23rd, the President that my dad helped to elect and who stared down the Soviets during the missile crisis, John F. Kennedy, would be assassinated. But I and my family survived to celebrate my 3rd birthday in in Energy, Illinois that year (no record of the party but it’s something we would have done).

17 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 review. Non-spoiler

 
"Off-set Effect" Art of Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 © O. Douglas Jennings

As a long-time fan of the original Blade Runner, I was eager to see the sequel starring Ryan Gosling who I enjoyed most in the movie Drive. First off, I recommend the movie —particularly for avid Sci-Fi enthusiasts and if you’ve seen the original movie. But I can’t say that it was a completely satisfying film on all levels.

What I loved:

Ryan Gosling.
This guy proved yet again that he can play the kind of loner hero in a role that in previous generations would be given to Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson or, even, Harrison Ford. Is it cliche to say “the camera loves him”? I know that on the big screen, Gosling commands my attention and draws me in with the persona and understated expressions he brings to these flawed hero roles.

Music.
It expertly yet non-slavishly evoked the musical feel of the fist Bladerunner in a way that built upon the original’s solid foundation while bringing in a fresh, updated quality.

Cast.
My least favorite member of the cast was Jared Leto as Wallace. But it could be due to the story that I felt didn’t resolve his character’s role well enough in the plot. But everyone else, I felt, were cast well and gave strong performances. I qualify that with the contrary feeling that Harrison Ford was somewhat under-used. But he had to be there and it was great to see him and Gosling interact.

Twists.
Wow!!! There were a lot of twists, which, as promised, I won’t spoil here. So hang on to your seats and pay attention! Although I predicted some plot lines before they happened, there were enough that kept me guessing that it was a fun ride for a good while.

Themes.
I’m somewhat of a philosophical movie watcher. I love big themes, cultural touch stones and allusions to literature in movies. There were Biblical references (replicants as a type of angels for example), fairy-tale allusions and comments on the human condition that I felt had resonance for me. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you I enjoyed the carry-over of the role of memories in a person’s development and sense of self.

What I didn’t like: 

Loose plot threads:
There were some plot lines that were brought up that I did not feel were resolved well. This is not a deal breaker. More like a little “fly in the ointment”. But not a big fly.

The Last Third of the Movie:
I felt like I could not enjoy the movie as much after two thirds of the movie had passed. Some final twists that sorta lost me. And I must admit that the way Decker (Harrison Ford's character) was used used in the plot was somewhat anti-climactic.

FINAL THOUGHTS -- In spite of my peeves about certain parts of the film, I find that it stayed with me and made me think about the questions and philosophical issues that it raised. And since I saw the film, I've also viewed the three short films set in years leading up to the events in the theatrical release. I will most likely buy the DVD or Digital version of the movie when it is available. I have the Directors Cut of Blade Runner so having Blade Runner 2049 will complete the set.

One more thing. I saw the movie on a Monday early evening. The new, well appointed Cinemark Theater XD was a terrific sight and sound facility. Yet I was completely alone in it. Not one other person was in this large-screen, 100+ seat room with plush recliner seating. So.... was my feeling of isolation I got from the movie with it's barren cityscapes and climate-change desolate landscapes a result of deliberately crafted story or was it because I was in a desolate room? Would the feeling of isolation and alienation that I felt from Blade Runner 2049 been less if the theater space was full?

BONUS: Here are videos I enjoyed that discussed Blade Runner 2049 (SPOILERS):


 


11 October 2017

#Inktober2017 Days 10 and 11 #Inktober

#Inktober2017 Day 10 "Gigantic" #Inktober © O. Douglas Jennings
I created this art using a Sharpie Pen on a Post-it Note. I erroneously wrote "Gargantuan" as the prompt. That is a bit of a brain lapse on my part. It is actually "Gigantic".

I've always enjoyed the concept of the "Gentle Giant". That idea inspired me for this art.

#Inktober2017 Day 11 "Run" #Inktober © O. Douglas Jennings
The evening prior to my drawing this entry for #Inktober, I watched the season premier of The Flash. So this morning I was eager to dovetail my enthusiasm for the new speedster's episode with today's prompt. As has been my procedure for all my Inktober art, I did not begin the drawing with a pencil sketch but used ink first to last. I think I might have made a more dynamic and anatomically accurate drawing if I had made a pencil sketch first, but in any case it was a good exercise.

09 October 2017

#Inktober2017 Days 7 through 9 #Inktober

  
#Inktober2017 Day7 "Shy" #Inktober
All of the three Inktober Entries described in this post were done with the Sharpie Pen unless otherwise noted.

Day 7, "Shy", was fun for me. I had thought about using a little alien/extraterrestrial dude hiding behind some notepad or other object.

Then, due to the recent arrival of the Autumn Season, I went with a pixie kind of character holding a fallen leaf. If you've ever read the books of UFO expert Jacques Vallee, you'll know if a connection between E.T.s and Pixies.

#Inktober2017 Day8 "Crooked" #Inktober
Day 8, for the prompt "Crooked" is actually little more than a doodle. I imagined I was drawing the house of the "Crooked Man" from the nursery rhyme. And because Halloween is soon to arrive, I added the full Moon and bats.

#Inktober2017 Day9 "Screech" #Inktober
A almost attempted to make a drawing of the "Saved By The Bell" TV character, Screech for Day 9. But as I did an image search, I also saw hands on a chalk board. Then the idea of making a monster's hand turned into the idea of a take off of the Rat Fink hot rod monsters. As it developed, my art but up against the edge of the page. I would have liked to do more with the back wheel creating a stream of smoke as it screeched into view. I used a Sharpie Fine Point Marker to color in the blackest part of the hair.

06 October 2017

#Inktober2017 Day 5 "Long" and Day 6 "Sword" #Inktober

#Inktober2017 Day 5 "Long" © O. Douglas Jennings

There was a lot of my time devoted to thinking about how to convey the concept of "Long" for this drawing. I had thought about drawing an elongated character like a Malacandrian from C.S. Lewis' Sci-Fi novel Out of the Silent Planet. And I thought about drawing a long pencil that wound it's way throughout the space of the paper. Then I remembered drawings of sea monsters in old maps. I thought about drawing The Midgard Serpent around the World Tree.

But then I decided to make the design to be more contained. M. C. Escher was also an inspiration.


#Inktober2017 Day 6 "Sword"  © O. Douglas Jennings
For the Day 6 "Sword" prompt, I didn't think about it much. I began with a sword, of course and then added imbellishments of the thorns, blood and jewels. Since I love drawing faces, I did the outline of the head, added the eyes and then let my imagination wander to the days of Vikings and Celts to finish the face.

I did not do preliminary pencil drawings on either of the designs.

04 October 2017

#Intober2017 Days 3 and 4 #Inktober

#Intober2017 Day3 "Poison" #Inktober © O. Douglas Jennings

I am pleased with my #Inktober2017 Day 3 drawing.The Sharpie Pen (not permanent marker Fine Point) was my utensil of choice.

An additional challenge that has been part of my participation in this year's Inktober is that I will not draw in pencil first but will use ink first and last for my drawing. This requires very deliberate, nearly Zen-like carefulness and pre-visualization.

Somewhere I read that Jack Kirby, comic art master, was able to forego the pencil art and draw directly with ink to create his dynamic works of artistic genius. I doubt if I could do that for an entire comic. But each of my Inktober drawings will be a practice in ink-only drawing.

For my Day 4 art, I wish I would not have used the Paper Mate Flair pen. It is a small drawing (2.5"x2.25") that I made during a company meeting.

Perhaps it's not a very original for the "Underwater" prompt. I imagine there will be lots of drawings of mermaids for today's entries. But I looked forward to the challenge of conveying the buoyancy of an underwater scene. Easily, this could be a "pre-production" concept drawing for a larger, more-detailed art piece. We'll see.
© O. Douglas Jennings

02 October 2017

#Inktober2017 Days 1 and 2 #Inktober

Prompt: Swift
Prompt: Divided
I feel I'm a bit rusty on inking so I am happy for the challenge to daily practice my skills. 

So many artists have been posting amazing work. I hope to get better by the end of the 31 days.

NOTE: Click each image to view larger.
UPDATE: For some reason, Day 2 image above will not enlarge upon click.
So I've added it again at a larger size.

 

EXTRA:

I'm learning a lot about my favorite style of inking. For a few years, I used a ball-point pen to create art and make sketches in my sketch books. Ball point pens have a surprisingly wide variety of lines and effects.

But more recently, I've been using felt pens such as sharpies of different kinds and Micron pens for details.

My first two entries in the Inktober2017 challenge were made with a Sharpie Pen (not the permanent fine point) for Day 1 and then a Tombow brush pen for Day 2 with additional finer crosshatching with the Sharpie pen.

I'm not happy with the Tombow brand of brush pen so I will need to try one of their competing brands, I guess.