Archive for June 2006
Two Saturdays ago I test drove some vehicles at a nearby dealership. I tried the Toyota CRV, the Toyota RAV4, and the Honda Element. They all are fun to drive, and all fit my need of having a lot of space so I can move all my stuff to Nevada, but I think the CRV is kind of ugly, so I’m crossing that one off my list. I don’t think I can afford payments on a new car, since I can only afford to put down about $500 up front, so I have found two used cars that I like:
This RAV4 Has about 55K miles on it, is a 2001, and is an automatic. It’s priced at $15,681. I’m gonna go look at it this weekend, and, if I like it, I’m going to see if they’ll knock the price down to $14,800. I have the vin# and I’m going to look it up on Kelly Blue Book to see if anything fishy has happened with it since it’s been owned.
I think the RAV4 is SO cute, and it gets about 28MPG highway, which isn’t too bad! That’s what my Pontiac Sunfire got. The RAV4 is what I’ve always wanted; they always turn my head when I see them on the street. Not to mention, they’re super fun to drive! There’s more room than my Sunfire, so I think I should be able to fit everything in. And what I can’t fit, I’ll just ship.
Here’s the Element. It’s a 2003, with 78K miles on it, but is priced a little under $14,000. It gets the same MPG as the RAV4. I believe this is an automatic too. The Element isn’t as fun to drive as the RAV4, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up 10 fold in handling and supberb design. The Elements have amazing turning radius’ and can fit into tiny spaces. I tested parking it, and it was a breeze. Also, Honda’s design team has done a spectacular job making every square inch of the car have a specific function.
For instance, the plate that covers the spare tire folds out into a picnic table. If you fold the back and front seats down, it forms a bed. The car is designed so you could practically clean it out with a garden hose. It’s got spaces for everything, and the back seats fold up against the sides of the car so that the space in the back is maximized. The back of the Element is HUGE. It reminds me of an ice cream truck. Also, the salesman mentioned to me that it’s kind of like driving a mix between a Mini Cooper and a Hummer, which made me laugh, because he’s right, as improbable as that sounds.
The price is good on this one, but the downside is the mileage. Almost 80K. However, the reason I’m considering it is because of Honda’s amazing reputaton for vehicle longevity. (Toyota too, in fact, these are the only two car companies I have even considered).
I am hoping to buy the car maybe this weekend. The dealership said they would store it for me until I leave, which is awesome. I think also, that all I would have to put down is the down payment, and then I wouldn’t have to start making actual car payments until I picked it up at the end of August.
I was a bit intimidated by the huge dealership from which I’m buying this car, they have like 28 stores throughout New England. There’s plenty of competition, so I don’t feel like I’m supporting a monopoly, but I am still a little worried about getting scammed.
I’m trusting my gut reaction and women’s intuition to guide me through this uncertain territory. Oh, and the wonderful help of both my father and this awesome article I found on the internet. I’m also dragging along Ariana to the dealership, so I can take advantage of the supreme haggling skills she’s acquired throughout her travels in Africa.
Now I have to start thinking about insurance. Apparently, both Massachusetts and Nevada are famous for high insurance rates, so looks like I’m going to have to pay a lot whether I buy my policy from MA or NE.
This is a big decision for me and just a little bit scary, because I really want to make the right choice. I don’t think I can go wrong with either Honda or Toyota when it comes to quality, but I’m still a little concerned about getting a lemon. Perhaps I should take it to a mechanic? I need to research how much they cost to do a check up on the car.
Current listening to: Magnet
Last weekend, I swam in poison ivy. Literally. (I don’t recommend it!) Last Sunday, after some hot time over a BBQ grill, some friends and I walked down to the awesome fresh-water reservoir near my apartment to hopefully find some repose from the summer heat.
Upon arriving at the reservoir, and sampling the water with our toes, we realized that the water temperature was way too perfect to waste it on our feet. So the four of us, Ariana, Justin, Stuart and I jumped in, fully clothed. It was a blast! The water was perfect, the later afternoon sun was shining, the whole experience was, in a word, delectable. A perfect summer treat. There was one problem: I didn’t see the poison ivy. We none of us did.
Two days later, however, it made its debut on my forehead. I haven’t had a poison ivy attack in about 7 or 8 years. At first, I thought it was a heat rash. I had no qualms about scratching the hell out of it. Until I noticed that I also had the rash on my stomach.
Three days later, it’s spread over the right side of my face, my entire midsection: stomach, lower back, breasts, butt…and creeping dangerously close towards regions I’d rather not mention.
I took Thursday and Friday off from work. This weekend was of the hellish variety–I was miserable, and antisocial. I woke up during weird hours of the day/night, itching all over. I tried a variety of drugs, alcohol, and homeopathic remedies I found online…and they all kind of fell short of what I was deperately hoping for, a complete and instant cure.
However, I did find a few things that helped: did you know spray starch stops the itching? (for a while). If you take a hot bath with 1/2 cup baking soda, the rash starts to dry up. I also hear oatmeal’s good. And if you eat honey on a regular basis, you’ll have less of a chance of getting the rash.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I tried calamine lotion too. It didn’t seem to do a damn thing. Thank God I finally found out the beauty that is Gold Bond Medicated Creme, I wouldn’t have my sanity had it not been for this little gem.It neutralizes the itching with a cool, menthol-y goodness.
I recommend that if you ever contract poison ivy, clear your calendar, take about 5 days for yourself, run out and get a box of baking soda, some Gold Bond Medicated Creme, rent about 50 movies and a grab a six-pack, because you’re in for one hell of an awful ride.
Well, thank goodness, my face has stopped weeping, oozing, seeping…whatever you want to call it. I *think* my midsection is on the way to recovery.
Now if I can Just. Stop. Scccccccratching.
Currently listening to…well…nothing. But guess what! Jason Lytle is doing another mini tour and will be appearing in Boston, yes, BOSTON next month. And he’s playing at the Paradise. I couldn’t be happier.
Tonight will surely be a special treat! I’m going to go see country-rock band My Morning Jacket play with the Boston Pops. This is totally fantastic, because I’ve wanted to see both MMJ & the Pops, so this is ‘killing two birds with one stone’.
MMJ was touring with Pearl Jam and came through Boston earlier this summer. I really wanted to see MMJ, but didn’t want to pay the high ticket price associated with a huge Pearl Jam concert, a band of whom I am not an especially big fan.
I also wanted to see either the Symphony or the Pops play before I left Boston, because they’re both so world-reknowned. When I heard that Keith Lockart, the young, cool Pops conductor had invited them to play as part of the summer’s “Pops on the Edge” series, was intrigued and really psyched.
Not only do I get to see both of them in one night, but what kind of magic will come from a full orchestra + a southern rock band? I’m not sure how it’s going to sound, but I’m sure it will be amazing. I sprung a little extra money to get a great seat, too. I’m on the first balcony, center. I’ll have a perfect view, no doubt. More tomorrow.
Currently listening to: At Dawn by My Morning Jacket
I found this picture on Getty today and I think it’s inspiring.
The crop, the silhouette, the Gaussian blur, the lighting…all spectacular. It also has a very subtle horizon line in the background which gives it depth. Just incredible.
It kind of reminds me of some of the older, richer Disney scenes, like from Bambi or The Jungle Book. It looks totally unreal. Like this could have been drawn in Illustrator using only black and a perfect orange-yellow linear gradient. Hmm…. Maybe *I* could draw it!
Also reminds me of Tord Boontje, the amazing Dutch designer.
Currently listening to: “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac
No, not the Big Dig, the Weekly Dig.
The Weekly Dig is the best free paper in Boston for humor, news and nightlife. About a year or so ago, the Weekly Dig underwent a design transformation that openend my eyes to its wonder. It used to be kind of a small, ugly, text-dense newspaper that I never could get into all that much. I used to default to the Boston Phoenix or The Improper Bostonian for my free local news.
Then, in early 2005, they must have hired a new art director who changed the entire format, look and feel of their newspaper. I can’t say whether their content has been revamped as well, because I didn’t really read it prior to their new design. However, the new look of the paper has got me addicted to reading it. The whole design of the paper is so easy to understand. It’s friendlier to the eye and showcases the articles in a way that makes them shimmer. Always one to turn my eye towards something shiny, I have began to read the Weekly Dig avidly.
The best part about their redesign was their decision to start featuring full-color covers that showcase the work of local artists. Since I’ve been totally impressed with the design and content of the paper, I would consider it the highest of honors to have my art printed on the cover. I’m not sure if my work is good enough, but I’m gonna give it a try.
I have a great concept for the cover; it’s a little inside joke for us Bostonians. On the super-busy corner of Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue, there is an overpass to the highway. If you stand near the intersection of these two streets, you can look about 20 feet below to where the traffic whizzes by.
Supporting this overpass are several metal girders and beams which help hold up Mass Ave where it passes over the highway. There is a huge huge fence around the overpass, so that drunken Bostonians don’t fall into the rush-hour traffic yeilding a rather messy death.
Anyway, someone, at least three years ago, somehow managed to throw a horse head over the fence and it landed on a girder.
Here is a photo of it, and you can see the huge fence that it made it over, somehow
Not a real horse head, but the top of one of those little pony-heads-on-a-stick that kids ride around on. It has been there, reportedly, since 2003. It’s pretty awesome that it’s survived like three winters now. Through all the snow, wind and rain, it’s managed to stay put on this flat, narrow beam.
Seeing it used to creep me out a little, but now I’m happy to see it as I pass by. Anyway, a surprising number of people that I’ve asked have seen it, and wonder what it’s all about too. I think it’s time to idolize it and make it one of Boston’s little locals’ attractions. Anyway, I just wanted to pay a little hommage to it, because it’s mysterious. I wonder if anyone knows the story behind this little pony?
I went down last Friday and took some photos of it, and then I began sketching it over the weekend. I don’t know if the Dig will like my illustration or not, but here’s hoping. I hope to have it done in a couple of weeks.
I’m going to post my process here, similar to my Bob Portrait post, so that you can follow along as I work on it.
Here is an initial sketch I did while standing at the intersection. This drawing represents the realistic view of the horse head, and some of the details around it. Although I kind of like all of the diagonal lines, I think that trying to include too much of the scenery detracts from my main subject, the horse head.
I decided I wanted to do a more graphic composition that highlighted the two main factors of the image, the head and the traffic below. So I re-thought the design of the page and came up with this:
This is my first rough sketch of the revised composition, where I work out some ideas on a perspective and scale. Here, its almost like you’re looking right down on top of the horse from above, instead of the photorealistic view, which is foreshortened and at a distance. It’s a little more intimate, while (I hope) still getting across the same point.
Here are some little sketches I did of cars. I wanted to keep the cars fun and simple, since they are supposed to be kind of far away. I didn’t want to get too much detail in them, so they will be kinda cartoony.
I start the final drawing. I didn’t include the horse head here; I’m going to draw it separately so that I can draw it really large to capture as much detail as possible. Then I’ll scan it, and shrink it down to fit on this image.
The cars were really labor intensive. I kept erasing and re-drawing them. I don’t have much experience drawing cars, so I needed to make sure I got the perspective, angles and proportions correct. Or at least relative to the other cars in the drawing.
That’s all for now. Ariana and I are having a party today so I need to start preparing for that. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this up in the next week.
Ack. I took a break from this for a while due to the poison ivy.
I’ve started experimenting with color. I want the cars to sort of reced into the backkground. And I think that the gray of the beams may be too dark. I’m gonna let it sit for a while and come back to judge the color.
Well, I let it sit for a couple more weeks. Truth is, I was terrified of drawing the horse head for fear I would mess it up. I finally forced myself to sit down and draw it last night. The most terrifying part was the mane. However, it turned out a lot better than I thought it would, I’m pleased. It was labor intensive, but worth it in the end.
Here I’ve placed it on the background. I decided to get rid of the shading I did at the end of June, because the main purpose of making it blue was to make it recede, but with all the different variations of blue, it stood out too much. I don’t want it to compete with the foreground, which is way more important.
Here I’ve added some color. I used the curves to get the background to be a nice cyan, and then I used a *slightly* darker cyan to fill in the cars, so there is a tiny little bit of subtle tone difference. Then I started filling in the mane with magenta. Of course, this is a bit more free than the real color, I’m just putting it in as it pleases me.
Decided that the composition would be stronger if I cropped it a little bit. I hope it hasn’t lost it’s context now, and as a result, the joke. Finished the color, tweaked the saturation and levels a bit to make it pop more. Still don’t know if I’m 100% happy with the color, but I’ve been working on this so long today that I’m going to give it a bit of rest and come back to finish it tomorrow.
Currently listening to The Sounds of the Sounds of Science by Yo La Tengo
Today at work, I received a small package from Sheffield, England. One of the people on TalkScape took a bunch of pictures with a one-time use camera and sent it to me to develop. I’ve never met this person and barely know him from TalkScape but he seems funny and he likes Grandaddy, so that’s all I need to know.
As of yet, neither of us know how the pictures will turn out, but I intend to post some of them here when I get them back. I think I’m going to return the favor and send him some pictures from Boston. Or perhaps I’ll send it on to someone else, and we can have a chain of sorts.
Alright, that’s it for me. I’m still at work, but I’m going to leave soon.