American Horror Stories

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I finished reading The Monster Show by David Skal on a recent trip to Paris. Skal’s book presents an intriguing and well researched look into the cultural history of the horror genre in America. From the early 1900s to the late 1990s, Skal examines everyone from Tod Browning to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

This may strike you as an odd book choice, but for me, my fascination with horror film began with my mother recounting the terror of The Birds when I was 12. (Fun fact: 2 Halloweens ago, I channeled that same Tippi Hedren..) I have many vivid memories of Saturday nights after club soccer with Blue Bell chocolate ice cream and the latest movie suggestion. This highlight reel includes, but is certainly not limited to Wait Until Dark, What Lies Beneath, and Psycho. Fast forward 13 years and I’m super into American Horror Story, Guillermo del Toro, and now continuing to read books like The Monster Show as I grow the depth of my understanding. Horror films, as a genre, are not simply colored corn starch, advancing special effects, and shallow attempts at shock. People turn to horror as a coping mechanism to help them personify their conflicting feelings and fear of the unknown about the world’s current circumstances – or in short, the latest true American horror stories.

To wrap up (and further pique your interest), three super interesting things I learned from David Skal’s The Monster Show:

1. There is a movie called Cat People.
Actually, there are 2, and I had never heard of either. The particularly riveting 1942 tagline reads: “Lovely Woman… Giant Killer-Cat… The Same “Person”! It’s Super Sensational”, while the 1982 remake appears to more sharply focus on the obviously disastrous consequences of female sexual awakenings. Women enjoying sexual urges? Extremely dangerous stuff, you guys.

2. “Suddenly, in the sixties, the womb was the new graveyard”
This continued into the 1980s, but perhaps nowhere near as obviously as Rosemary’s Baby and The Brood. Skal cites “the sexual revolution, the Pill, thalidomide… unstable family structures… [and] the emerging abortion rights struggle” as a powerful cultural catalyst for horror’s new favorite playground. This blog post is SCREAMING at me to write itself… alas, another time, my friends.

3. Carrie was also a musical.
On Broadway. In the 80’s. Absolutely terrible. Where can I find this to watch!?

Bonus: After Paris, we traveled onto Madrid and, in what seemed like a strange, real life, full-circle moment, discovered this Erro painting at the Reina Sofia Museum. I spy quite a few Lon Chaney Jr’s down there…

Erro's Victors of Leningrad Supported by the Coulor-Blind Monster Matisse

Spring Eating

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One of my very best friends and her boyfriend invited us over for dinner tonight. Outside of this being a guaranteed good time (did I say friends? at this point, we’re family) the food is always incredible. Her boyfriend hails from Turkey and never fails to disappoint in the kitchen.

The menu: Kebobs. My task: A Side.

Feeling inspired by the recent spring weather and wanting to provide something unique to compliment the grilled meat and veggies, I thought to myself “Lemon. Lemon and mint.” What resulted was a delicious pesto incorporating several popular spring flavors, and surely something I will make again.

The Recipe:

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Cup of Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup of Almonds
1/4 Cup of Pistachios
Zest of 2 Lemons
1 Cup of Fresh Mint Leaves (I used Spearmint, bought the whole plant)
2 tsp of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (or if you like a kick, more, to taste)
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1 16 oz. Bag of Orzo (or any pasta, grilled veggies, etc.)
Shaved Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, or Grana Padano (or if you’re feeling adventurous, a blend)

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. While it rests, toss with another tablespoon of olive oil and some salt if desired.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, almonds, pistachios, lemon zest, fresh mint leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a food processor. Toss with the orzo and top with the shaved cheese.

You can serve this hot, or cold. I’m adding some fresh peas. YUM.

This is light, fresh, delicious, and easy.

Thanks Walt

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It’s been awhile, but we’re back in action. Sometimes, in life, you have to hit the hard reset button – and then, perhaps not so surprisingly, you move on with it.

Appropriately enough, our blog challenge topic choices both inspire creativity and our views on two very different types of media.

1. A Haiku on Fox News
2. What Disney has Taught Me

While I prepare to mull over the endless 5-7 syllabic lines of prose-commentary on the ever-riveting Fox News, I think I will first begin with the happiest place on earth.

What Disney has Taught Me

 

As a child of the 90’s, let me state frankly: what hasn’t Disney taught me? I learned to love, laugh, and cry (hell-ooooo Bambi) through Walt & Co.’s imaginative and colorful classics. From Snow White to Hercules, I was hooked hard and fast.

Nickelodeon? Cartoon Network? GARBAGE. As a child as young as 4, I stuck up my nose. There was just something about the voices, the dialogue, the line, and color quality that I recognized from an early age. If you’ve ever met a child with a brand preference so strong before age 5, please let me know.

I may be turning 26 this year, but my favorite movie is still Beauty and the Beast. While many associate Disney princess fables with undermining young girls’ abilities to succeed in the world, I have always harbored a slightly different sentiment. Belle could be the reason I loved to read as a child, and was never afraid of being the odd ball or refusing to settle into what I’m supposed to want to have. Ariel could account for my hard-headed, and sometimes fool-hearted stubbornness, and unending sense of adventure. Megara could be the reason I practically drip with sarcasm. Mulan certainly helped me realize that gender non-conformist tendencies are just part of who I am. I loved these characters, and these stories. I still do – but as an adult, my investment has grown tenfold as I continue to realize the genius of this massive corporate giant.

Climb the beanstalk with me for a moment – my affinity for all things Disney most likely led me to my current job aspirations and passion for branding. A brand is how you build your empire – your voice, your face, and your promise to your audience. Your brand is simultaneously all you have, and the most invaluable thing you will ever own. With great branding, you can be anything, and everything to endless facets of customers – but even more than that, you can be immortal.

Everything Disney has to sell is flawless. Whether a churro from Fantasyland, a DVD from the vault, or a spot in line to meet your favorite character for the first time as a 3 year old (and someday, with your own 3 year old), Disney never misses a beat.Their commercials are golden, their properties impeccable, whimsical, and perfect. I’m simply enchanted. I have been devoted since I could make choices. I will be devoted a lifetime – ah, the immeasurable power of a compelling brand. Does anyone, or anything else hold such power?

Walt Disney knew the power of imagination, but he also knew the power of GREAT business. With his extraordinary vision and unbridled passion for creative innovation, his empire is arguably the most sound in history. I love the house of mouse for all of its glory – both the carefully crafted and constructed facade and the painstakingly executed behind the scenes operations.

And speaking of… when are we leaving? It’s about time I got back.

 

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Loving Lichtenstein: The 2014 Blue Star Red Dot Gala

Graphic Design

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Deciding to be an Art History minor in college was certainly a defining moment at the time. Having accidentally “snuck” into an upper-level Abstract Expressionism class through a registration glitch (with 4 other senior level Art History MAJORS), my professor casually offered up that I should also be an art history major. You know, since I was holding my own and all. Since I was already a Studio Art and Communications double major, I settled for the minor. I’ve just always been such a slacker.

The things I’ve learned and the love it sparked will always provide an unmatched hunger to learn more. Through art and it’s creators I have seen the world. I have seen warshungeropulenceempires rise and fall, and revolution ignite change. I have a deeper and more personal understanding of cultural histories through art. Bringing this often unknown perspective to the table (or bar, or casual water cooler conversation) has proven extremely interesting. From the day I first understood Guernica, to the day I brought in a postcard print of L’origin du Monde back from Paris (for my boss.. might I add..), art and it’s vibrant, all-encompassing history has enriched me in ways I will forever be better for.

Now, when the incredibly rare opportunity presents itself to couple my love for art history with my love for great graphic design, I jump (and how high?)

I’ve had the honor and the great privilege of working with San Antonio’s Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum on their Blue Star Red Dot Gala materials – an annual event and art sale. The task this year was bringing pop art into the design of the materials. When one hears the words “pop art” perhaps you immediately think “Andy Warhol”. Luckily, I heard “pop art” and got to bring in Lichtenstein. Many will recognize the style, but fewer know about the man behind the sometimes comic-esque pieces.

Roy, alongside our good friend Andy, was an American Pop artist in the 1960s who’s mediums included not only paint, but also lithography and sculpture. His work uses heavy black outlines and primary colors typical of 1950s comic books. Instead of shading, he uses lines and dots to create imagery and control the “density and tone” for printing purposes. Lichtenstein’s pieces were widely influenced by commercial advertising and “ironically incorporated into his highly sophisticated references to art history”.

Using various Lichtenstein pieces (and Lichtenstein’s cheeky way of using his art as a medium for more sophisticated art history messaging) as inspiration, I enjoyed re-imagining and illustrating some concepts for a new purpose.