Archive for December, 2012

tempest cover do-over

Let me level with you. Bob Dylan doesn’t have good album covers. The music inside is beyond excellent. Any dude who can follow up Bringing It All Back Home with Highway 61 with Blonde on Blonde, or Blood on the Tracks with Desire, or Time Out of Mind with Love and Theft with Modern Times, is a dude who I will follow no matter what. That doesn’t mean he has a visual sense. I’ve heard Bob is a painter. I don’t want to see his paintings. If he is in charge of picking his album covers, I do not agree with his visual sensibilities.

At best, Bob’s albums feature a photograph of him with Joan Baez. At worst, you’ve got a lot to choose from. Planet Waves features a drunk sumi ink freestyle. Slow Train Coming looks like a Catholic high school art assignment. Modern Times is a nice stock photo. I’m still trying to figure out what Together Through Life is supposed to be about. But the worst, and I mean the absolute worst, album cover in Bob Dylan’s recording career has got to be his latest. What makes this even more of a tragedy is the fact that Tempest is a fantastic album. It will make greatest-album lists for years to come, and every time it does, we’ll have to endure this awful mess. What is going on here?

There is no coherence, no through line. Did two graphic artists work on this simultaneously, never once coming into contact with the other? I count three different fonts. No color coordination. The CD case itself is a plastic monstrosity straight out of 1987. Did Columbia Records forget they’ve been re-releasing Bob’s older albums in nice cardboard packaging? There is absolutely no excuse for Columbia or Bob to allow this travesty to be released as is. This is the kind of graphic design usually reserved for forgotten albums found exclusively in record store clearance bins, not one of the best albums from one of the greatest musicians to roam the earth.

With this in mind, I took a little time to redesign the Tempest album cover. Here is my version:

The front cover image is a screen shot from the Duquesne Whistle music video. I was thinking about the Blood on the Tracks cover when I designed this – I wanted a simple, iconic image of Bob as he was when the album was made. The hat, the coat, and the city street. I really like Futura, so I used that font for both front and back covers. The back cover image of Bob is the same. I like that picture of Bob. The ghostly image of a girl was something else I wanted to keep, although I needed to find a different girl since I had to replace the text. I tried to keep the same mysterious vibe they were going for in the original. I used two shades of brown for front and back covers.

While this is not perfect, I wanted to show how easy it would have been to produce a package worthy of holding the songs Bob and his band spent so many hours recording. An album should be something you want to look at while the music plays. I believe the Tempest package was slapped together without any thought.

Bob, if you ever read this post, be mindful the next time you release an album. You deserve the best packaging for the music you produce.

50 shades of grumpy cat

I’m not one to let a good meme pass me by. The two pop culture phenomenons I’ve been enjoying lately are Grumpy Cat, the grumpiest-looking cat on the internet, and the audiobook version of 50 Shades of Grey. What better way to consummate (ahem) my love for both these things than to mash them up in a series of photos with text pasted on top?
Don’t worry, dear readers. I am not trying to pervert 50 Shades of Grey by imagining all the characters are cats.

friday robots

These robots look like cut-outs, although I know (because I made them myself) that they are not cut-outs.

Still, I’ll give a shout-out to Eric Carle. These robots are dedicated to you, Mr. Carle.

I love you, (Bat)man

My love for the Batman is deep and abiding. That is why, while rewatching the three Christopher Nolan Batmen, I came up with my own Batman storyline.

friday robots

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clearing the air

My parents certainly aren’t rich. It isn’t like they have $22 million. No, people with $22 million are rich. For sure. My parents don’t have $22 million, even if you add up all their stocks and real estate and horses.

Rich people have four homes, at least. My parents do not own four homes. The homes they do own are rather small, more like cottages or condos. One of them is a condo, in fact. Houses in the Swiss Alps cost a lot more than condos, I can tell you that. Rich people have houses in the Swiss Alps.

It isn’t like my dad buys my mom a pearl necklace every week. Rich husbands buy their wives pearl necklaces every single week. My dad could never in a million years do that. He only buys her a pearl necklace on special occasions, and when he gives it to her, she knows she won’t be getting another one of those for quite some time.

My trust fund isn’t even that substantial.

I just wanted to clear up any misunderstanding you may have had regarding the monetary value of my parents. They are not rich.

president obama speaks in newtown

“Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.”

otter quest

My latest post can be found on the Reed College blog, Voices From Reed.
It is an adventure concerning my search for the Reed otter.otter-look

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friday robopocalypse

friday robots 12-21-12 apocalypseAt the last minute, I wanted some robots that were a little bit apocalyptic. In case these are the last robots ever, it’s been great knowing you, dear readers.

Thanks so much for putting up with me through all these posts.

If the world isn’t ending, have a wonderful, mundane holiday weekend.

merry christmas…

…from the Wandering Jew, Alan Rickman, and Space Cat.

josh shalek at andy wedding


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