Thursday, October 31, 2013

More Polyjuice Potion, please

"Wizards don't all look alike."

-- Patricia Briggs, Dragon Bones

Self portrait 10-31-13


"We should have taken the Polyjuice Potion."


"No. This is where I was born. 
I won't return as someone else."

-- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

So, I got my hair cut.

And when I got home, before I put any gel or paste or wax or pomade in it, it was just sort of straight and fluffy.

I looked like a schoolboy.

So I slipped on my Harry Potter glasses and, well, sometimes you just have to go with the obvious.

Lucky for me, I own an actual Gryffindor tie (doesn't everyone? I also have a Gryffindor scarf and hat set. Don't judge me.)

I borrowed my husband's v-neck and the robe from his medical school graduation (God, if they only knew what it was being used for).

I made a magic wand out of a paintbrush, drew on a little lightning bolt scar and ...


In case you don't know much about Harry Potter, Polyjuice Potion is a very complicated potion that allows the drinker to temporarily assume the form of someone else. Its taste varies depending on the person being turned into.  It has stuff like lacewing flies (stewed for 21 days), and leeches and knotgrass and bicorn horn and shredded Boomslang skin and fluxweed (only if picked at the full moon), as well as a bit of the person one wants to turn into (usually some of their hair).

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Time for A Face A Day recipe bonus!

If you need a quick idea for a Halloween party tonight, I found a recipe for Polyjuice Potion Jell-O shots (don't panic, it calls for pineapple vodka and sherbet, not leeches and hair) right here: Polyjuice Potion jell-o shots

Thanks to everyone (who am I kidding, thanks to anyone) who tuned in for all 31 days (or even one day) of "October-faced," my disguise-themed challenge-within-a-challenge.

Happy Deathly Hallows-ween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Psycho Killer, Qu'est Que C'est

"Everyone gets killed in the shower.
Don't you go to the movies?"

-- Derek B. Miller, Norwegian by Night

Self portrait 10-30-13

"Mary started to scream,
and then the curtains parted further and a hand appeared, holding a butcher's knife.
It was the knife that, a moment later, cut off her scream.
And her head."

-- Robert Bloch, Psycho

The original ... Janet Leigh in Psycho

"The room was plainly but adequately furnished;
she noted the shower stall in the bathroom beyond.
Actually, she would have preferred a tub, but this would do."

-- Robert Bloch, Psycho

"According to Janet Leigh herself, that's her in the shower the entire time --
a stunt double was never used for the scene.
However, in Robert Graysmith's book, The Girl in Hitchcock's Shower,
it is said that Marli Renfro was Leigh's body double for some of the shots.
Either way, after making this movie, 
Leigh had trouble taking showers for the rest of her life."

-- Bryan Enk, 
"10 Facts About the Shower Scene of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho"

Me disguised as Janet Leigh in the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Apple-y ever after

"You'd be surprised what poison is often hidden 
in the most beautiful camouflage."

-- Evelyn Klebert, Ghost Soldier

Barbie disguised as a crone with a poison apple 10-29-13

"I'm going to put death in all their food and watch them die."

-- Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle

"The more hidden the venom, the more dangerous it is."

-- Marguerite de Valois

"Yes, but wait till you taste one, Dearie. 
Like to try one, hmmm? 
Go on. Go on, have a bite."

-- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Remember the shrunken apple head face from a few days ago? 

*click here in case you forgot, or missed it

Well, I've been letting it shrink some more, and today re-purposed it -- I popped on a little tuft of white hair, and turned one of my Barbies into a fairy-tale crone complete with a poison apple.

As you may already know, my Barbies all came to me from the thrift store, naked as newborns. So I make all of their clothes myself. In today's case, I made a babushka, woolen cloak, and a little burlap dress.

I also made the poison apple, from polymer clay. (The stuff is supposed to be non-toxic, but I wouldn't want to eat it.) 

So today's face is kind of "apples two ways." Like at a restaurant, where you'd get maybe a baked apple filled with apple chutney. Or perhaps apple-stuffed pork chops with a lovely applesauce gastrique. 

Except here you get a shrunken apple head and a poison clay apple. 

Because here at A Face A Day, we like you to get your money's worth.

It may not be as tantalizing as a pork chop, but still.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Out of my gourd

"When you get older there's this feeling 
that you have to start carving up your face and body."

-- Alanis Morissette

Self portrait on a pumpkin  10-28-13

"Only the knife knows what goes on
in the heart of a pumpkin."

--Simone Schwarz-Bart

Self portrait on a pumpkin 10-28-13

"He'd felt like a jack-o-lantern 
for the past few days, 
as if his guts had been yanked out 
with a fork and dumped in a heap 
while a grinning smile 
stayed plastered on his face."

--Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

You don't believe the story of the Great Pumpkin?
I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them.
I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.

Welcome to the 20th Century!

-- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

My son Leo and I carved our Halloween pumpkins yesterday.

Instead of the old school three triangles and a gap-toothed grin Jack-o-lantern, we tried to get a little more creative.

I, of course, carved a self portrait into my pumpkin. It took me a couple of tries to get it right (not as easy as it looks). But I like the end result. It may not be a "Great Pumpkin," but it's a pretty good one.

Leo carved a football player into his pumpkin, with a block "H" (for his football team, the Huron Tigers) and a number 2 -- his jersey number -- on the other side. I think he did a really good job for a first effort. 

Here's Leo's pumpkin:

Leo's pumpkin 10-28-13
It was a good day.

It was a lazy kind of Sunday, we were listening to the Cowboys/Lions game on TV.

Leo was a gentleman and scooped the guts out of my pumpkin for me because I think it's really gross, and I cut the top off his pumpkin, because he was afraid he'd cut himself. (But he did do all the rest of his own carving, for the record).

I showed Leo how to lay on a stencil and score out his design so it would carve easily. (And I showed him a little trick with flour that made the design easier to see).

I was able to teach my kid a couple things, and he was in the mood to learn. Bonus!

And Leo helped clean up the mess. Extra bonus!

We roasted some pumpkin seeds with olive oil, salt, oregano, basil and garlic. They were delicious. We ate them while we watched Matthew Stafford and the Lions in an impressive last-second victory over Dallas.

While the pumpkins turned out pretty cool, I have to say the best part of carving the pumpkins was doing it together. We weren't in a hurry. We didn't have anything else we had to do, or anyplace else we had to be, which is a rare thing (especially for Leo).

And when you have the freedom to do whatever you want, with whoever you choose, when somebody you love chooses you over all their other options,  it feels pretty darn gourd ... er, good. 

You know what I mean.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shadow puppet

"Maybe the only thing each of us can see is our own shadow.
Carl Jung called it his shadow work. He said we never see others.
Instead we see only aspects of ourselves that fall over them.
Shadows. Projections. Our associations."

-- Chuck Palahniuk

Self portrait 10-27-13

"What men call the shadow of the body is not the shadow of the body,
but the body of the soul."

-- Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates

"How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow?
I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole."

-- C.G. Jung

This is a self portrait of me, as well as a portrait of my own shadow.

So if they're both me, then who's pulling the strings?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thin disguise

"I'm not anyone. I'm just myself; 
whatever I am, I am something."

-- Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

Self portrait 10-26-13

"It's a thin disguise,
Living our lives behind a thin disguise.
One of these days if I got the time,
I'll show you what I'm like on the inside."

-- Lou Reed, "Thin Disguise"

I think my favorite trick or treaters are the ones who don't go all out on an elaborate, detailed, store bought, comercially-recognizable, Disney-fied, movie tie-in costume that their parents probably did all the work on.

I have a soft spot for the kid who has a big, wonderful imagination and a weird little homemade disguise.

It might not even be a costume really. It could be just a prop, or an object -- some minute bit of outer reality to suggest what's going on inside this kid's huge, wild, creative inner world. Maybe we can't see it, but this kid is immersed -- drenched -- in other-ness. He is swimming in a magical sea the likes of which few of us will ever be lucky enough to experience, because we don't allow ourselves to travel there. We're too grown up, or too classy, or too educated, or too stable, or too mature, or too whatever, to be brave enough to dive face-first into the weird place.

That kid probably doesn't just limit his elaborate imagining and pretending to Halloween, either. I'm willing to bet there is something magical going on inside that kid 365 days a year.

That's another reason why I love that kid.

When I was in fifth grade we had a costume parade for Halloween at school. My costume was a mask that I made by molding tin foil to my face. I trimmed the edges and cut out the eyes, then colored it aqua blue with a magic marker.  It looked cool. Funky. Different. Spacey. Weird.

It was my whole costume, and nobody else had one like it.

A million kids asked the stupid question "What are you supposed to be?"

They had this need to define what I was. To label it. To put it in a category they could understand. 

"That's it? That's your costume?"

"I don't get it."

I didn't care.

I didn't bother to explain. 

They weren't worth the effort.

I just hid behind my aqua blue metallic mask and paraded around the school parking lot with the rest of the sheep.

This Halloween, if a weird little kid in a so-so, homemade costume shows up at your door, don't ask "What are you supposed to be?" Even if the disguise is thin and you know right away who it is, or you simply don't "get it," ask something like "Who are you?" or "What's your name?" Don't let on that you can't tell. And be amazed, no matter what he tells you.

And give him an extra handful of candy.

And a special note to parents:

If it's your own kid who wants to head out the door in a weird, obtuse costume, by all means, let it be. Resist the urge to "help" unless you are specifically asked to. Don't go all controlling and supervisory and try to make it into something more "normal." 

Kids have the rest of their goddamn lives to be normal.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Don't lose your head

"How does one kill fear, I wonder?
How do you shoot a specter through the heart,
slash off its spectral head, 
take it by its spectral throat?"

-- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Barbie disguised as the Headless Horseman
with polymer clay Jack 'o Lantern head and a bronze horse 10-25-13

"No, you must believe me. 
It was a horseman, a dead one. 

-- Sleepy Hollow

"I just sort of lost my head for a little while."

-- John Mayer

"I like a woman with a head on her shoulders.
I hate necks."

-- Steve Martin, A Wild and Crazy Guy

I have played with Barbies more during this 365 days project than I ever did as a child.
And here's why.
At least, here's why I think why.

I have 3 sisters. And with 3 sisters you don't play Barbies alone.
If you have sisters, then when you play Barbies, you play Barbies with at least one other person.
And when you play Barbies with others, especially strong-personalitied, opinionated, bossy others, they often try to dictate what and how your Barbie does what it does.

Because they also have a Barbie. And the Barbies must interact. The Barbies can't just live independent, parallel lives that never intersect. That's the whole point of playing Barbies. You've got to make them interact. They have to come out of the Barbie beach house and socialize.

For instance, your sister's Barbie needs to borrow a pair of rubbery pink pumps because she only has yellow ones. So she hops her Barbie over to you and trades shoes, and you get the pink ones, one of which is chewed. 

Or your sister's Barbie wants her Barbie to go cruising in the pink Corvette and wants your Barbie to ride along. But your sister's Barbie gets to drive, because it's her Corvette, which means your sister gets to push the car while you just sit and watch.

Or your sister says your Barbie can't wear the sparkly dress because her Barbie is wearing a sparkly dress, and they can't both wear sparkly dresses, because that's copying and her Barbie had her sparkly dress on first.

So you dress your Barbie in a pair of Ken's bell bottoms and maybe a nice sport coat and a pair of loafers, and calmly watch your sister lose every last bit of her ever-loving shit.

If you've followed the blog very long, you might know that back in March I bought a bag of 7 Barbies for $2.99 at the thrift store. They were all buck naked, but otherwise in really good shape. Among other things I've put mustaches on them, stuffed all their heads into a Chinese takeout container, turned one into a zombie, painted a Day of the Dead face on another, and covered one with blood a la "Carrie."  

Good, good times.

Today, I popped the head off one and replaced it with a Jack 'o Lantern that I sculpted from clay. I even painted blood on her neck stump (with permanent marker) and hot-glued a sword in her hand (I glued it because the bitch can't grasp. My G.I. Joes can grasp. Ever hear of a little thing called the "Kung Fu grip"?)

Trust me, if I did any one of those things to any one of my sisters' Barbies, they would have raised holy Hell and screamed something at me like "I'm telling!"

But I don't have to worry about that anymore. Because now I have my very own Barbies. And I can do what I want because there is nobody here to tell me I can't. And that's why.

I'd say I've definitely gotten my money's worth.

A personal note:

The summer I turned ten years old, my parents took me and my sisters to Mackinaw Island. The trip was my "big gift" (note to parents: if everybody else goes on the trip, too, the birthday child knows they're getting juked, 'cuz everybody else got the same gift as them and it isn't their birthday.) Anyway, the horse in today's portrait was in a gift shop. It was one of a pair of $20 bronze bookends. I only had $10 -- birthday money from my grandparents, who always gave us our age in dollars. Somehow my dad convinced the shop owner to break up the pair and sell me a single stallion for $10.

I loved this horse more than I loved the trip, because nobody else got a horse. Just me, the birthday girl. Even if I did have to buy it myself.

I also remember something about fudge and a rubber tomahawk, but the details are sketchy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tough shit

"My mom used to say that I became 
a fighter and a scrapper and a tough guy 
to protect who I am at my core."

-- Vin Diesel

Self portrait 10-24-13

"If they didn't call you a tough guy, then what else would they call you?
Something worse than that?
I'm playing parts, and if they call you that, it's because I played the part right."

-- Ray Winstone

Self portrait (2) 10-24-13

"When major badasses greet each other in movies they don't say anything they just nod. 
The nod means 'I am a badass and I recognize that you too are a badass' 
but they don't say anything ... because it would mess up their vibe to explain."

-- Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

Self portrait (3) 10-24-13

"They don't know you're
secretly a badass?"

-- Rachel Caine, Fall of Night

Badass neck tattoo!

Two summers ago I learned how to ride a motorcycle. And then I bought one. Riding my motorcycle lets my inner tough guy out to play, it frees my inner badass like nothing else. 

So for today's self portrait "disguise," I let my inner tough guy show on my outside.

I wore a ponytail wig (even though you can't really see it), bummed some sunglasses  from my son,  trotted out my costume facial hair and got a sweet dagger neck tattoo for 50 cents out of the Drug Mart gumball machine.

Just for the record, the leather motorcycle jacket is mine. It's the one I actually wear it on my actual motorcycle. It is covered in bugs to prove it.

One of the coolest things about riding a motorcycle is when other motorcyclists give me a discreet little wave when we pass each other on the road. It's like a secret handshake, just a little drop of the clutch hand, often with a peace sign, that communicates, biker to biker, badass to badass, "I ride, you ride, ride on." 

I love that shit.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nothing lasts forever

"Nothing in the world is permanent,
and we're foolish when we ask anything to last,
but surely we're still more foolish
not to take delight in it while we have it."

-- W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge

Self portrait 10-23-13

"I'm not scared for myself for dying.
Because I believe all these places are temporary.
This is just one shell."

-- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

"Graffiti's always been a temporary art form.
You make your mark and then they scrub it off."

-- Banksy

"... and here's a secret for you --
everything beautiful is sad ...
gilded with impermanence ..."

-- John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

Most of the time, when I do a self portrait that involves a lot of makeup or face paint, it takes longer to put the face on than it does to take the picture.

It's not unusual for me to spend an hour or more getting ready for a 10 or 15 minute photo shoot. As soon as I'm satisfied with what I have in the camera, I go slather my face with cold cream and scrub the whole thing off. (For the record, I go through a lot of cold cream.)

I get a particular thrill knowing that the ho-hum rest of the world is out there doing it's mundane thing while I am hidden away in my private happy place, elaborately (if temporarily) disguised as the Bride of Frankenstein, or Medusa, or a zombie, or a pirate, or, for today's face, a Day of the Dead skull.

Most of the time, nobody else ever sees me in the actual makeup. I put it on, I get the shot, I wash it off. Nobody's the wiser. Until the next day when I post the image or images here on the blog. But by the time you see it here, for me the moment is over and I'm onto the next face.

I love the mystery of having a kind of secret double life.  Though I guess it's more than a double life, actually, because the math can multiply by however many faces I can come up with.

When I go out, I'm just me. But when I'm working on a portrait, I can be anybody I want to be, for a little while anyway.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bite me!

"We have to convince the little housewife out there 
that the tomato that ate the family pet is not dangerous."

-- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

Killer tomato 10-22-13

"Last year, more people were killed by automobile accidents, 
heart attacks, lung cancer, and natural causes combined 
than by any one tomato."

-- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

"Give the victim sympathy and the biter a clear message 
this is an unproductive way of getting attention."

-- "Put a stop to biting ...",

"A tomato may be a fruit, but it is a singular fruit.
A savory fruit.
A fruit that has ambitions far beyond
the ambitions of other fruits."

--E. Lockhart,
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

This face tickles me so much I can't even stand it.


I can't even stand it.

Monday, October 21, 2013


"The rock star is dying. And it's a small tragedy. 
Rock stars have blogs now. 
I have no use for that kind of rock star."

-- Nick Cave

Self portrait 10-21-13

 Fun with stick-on facial hair!

Channeling my inner Nikki Sixx.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Do the ripe thing

"One day, there's a hand that goes over the face and changes it.
You look like an apple that isn't young anymore."

-- Greta Garbo

Shrunken apple face 10-20-13

"It's a good thing that beauty is only skin deep,
or I'd be rotten to the core."

-- Phyllis Diller

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace 
as I have seen in one autumnal face."

-- John Donne

"Delicious Autumn!"

-- George Eliot

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then what about a face a day?
And what happens if the face is also an apple?
Or, what if it's an apple disguised as a face?
Wouldn't that be a "fapple"?
OK, now I have a headache.
I think I need a doctor.

I carved this little face in an apple from one of my backyard apple trees.
I let it dry out for a few days until he got good and wrinkly and shrunken.
It's not technically a "shrunken head" though because those are made with actual severed human heads. And while I do sacrifice for my art, it's not that kind of sacrifice. 
I'm no head hunter.

Which means ...

Ding, ding, ding!
It's time for A Face A Day fun fact!

Did you know the term "head hunter" refers to the practice of killing people to harvest their heads for trophies and rituals, and also in order to meet the demands of Western collectors as well as tourists who wanted shrunken heads as souvenirs?

Um. Gross.

Wouldn't a cute snow globe be just as nice?
How about a fun t-shirt or a coffee mug?
Couldn't you just take a few snap shots?

I mean, who says "Honey, remind me to stop by the souvenir shop after snorkeling. I want to pick up some postcards and a severed human head. I told the kids we'd bring them something."

Who looks at a dried up, shrunken, severed human head and says, wistfully, "Remember that awesome trip to Peru? We should go back."

What souvenir shop owner checks inventory and says, "Ralph, make sure to order some more shot glasses and thimbles on Monday. Oh, and we're running low on severed human heads. Can you get on that please?"

Will they allow a shrunken head in your carry-on, or do they make you check it with your other luggage?

Hey, whatever keeps food on the table.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nice wig, Janis. What's it made of?

"Medusa is your mom?" he asked.
 "Dude, that sucks for you."

-- Rick Riordan, The Mark of Athena

Self portrait 10-19-13

"Naturally curly hair is a curse, and don't ever let anyone tell you different."

-- Mary Ann Shaffer, 
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

"She's fabulous, but she's evil."

-- Mean Girls

"Versace, Versace, Medusa head on me like I'm 'Luminati."

-- Drake, "Versace"

In my dual-purpose quest to come up with an October full of "disguise" faces, and come up with a good Halloween costume, I made myself this neat Medusa wig out of rubber snakes from the toy store!

Mad props to the nice clerk at my local Toys R Us, who helped me dig out all of the snakes they had in the way back on the bottom shelf of the store's "dollar deals" section.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tabula rasa

"Man is a creature who walks in two worlds 
and traces upon the walls of his cave
the wonders and the nightmare experiences
of his spiritual pilgrimage."

-- Morris West

Discovery of the very first "A Face A Day" blog 10-18-13

"I've always thought that one of the most intriguing moments in human history 
was the birth of artistic imagination."

-- Kathryn Lasky

"One of the strangest things is the act of creation.
You are faced with a blank slate -- a page, a canvas,
a block of stone or wood, a silent musical instrument.
You then look inside yourself.
You pull and tug and squeeze and fish around
for slippery raw shapeless things that swim like fish made of cloud vapor
and fill you with living clamor.
You latch onto something.
And you bring it forth out of your head like Zeus giving birth to Athena.
And as it comes out, it takes shape and tangible form.
It drips on the canvas, and slides through your pen,
it springs forth and resonates into the musical strings,
and slips along the edge of the sculptor's tool onto the surface of the wood or marble.
You have given it cohesion.
You have brought forth something ordered and beautiful out of nothing.
You have glimpsed the divine."

-- Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Female Figure (or Sibyl with Tabula Rasa), 1648
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez 

Okay, so I may be stretching the "disguise" theme a little bit. But it's my blog, so bear with me.

Today's "disguised" face is a blank slate disguised as a cave wall decorated with my silly attempt at a prehistoric cave drawing. My son Leo found this flat, smooth piece of slate when he was out squirrel hunting last week, and gave it to me as a gift. He said he figured I could come up with something creative to do with it.

Smart kid.

Even though today's nod to the primitive origins of artistic expression is light-hearted and simplistic, it is a subject I take very seriously, because I encounter it daily. Here's the scenario: 

I need a face for the blog, but ideas have dried up. My mind is a blank. My creative tank feels empty. I wonder, will this be the day I don't come up with something?

Then something burbles deep down inside. I see it. I watch it. I observe it as it wiggles, as it swims, as it crawls to the edge of the primordial pond and drags itself onto the shore with its little tail and flippers. It sprouts legs. It stands upright. It walks. I let it go where it wants to go, do what it wants to do. Out of my "nothing," the once-blank slate is filled.

I am neither an anthropologist nor an art historian, but the way I see it, despite our evolutionary advances over primitive people from the dawn of humanity, we have a lot in common with our ancient ancestors when it comes to art. Because the way I see it, artistic expression is not an intellectual thing. It's a visceral thing. It's a gut-level thing that rises up out of our own inner primordial ooze. 

Our minds may be superior to our prehistoric ancestors', but our guts are the same. Our hearts are the same.

In my experience, intellectualizing the creative process -- thinking about it too much -- kills it. I've found that I have a much higher success rate if I just let it evolve and stay out of its way.

I love the quote at the top of today's post, from Australian writer Morris West. It reminds me why I do what I do, why I make the pictures that I make. It's the same reason cave dwellers drew on their walls. It's why they picked up a rock or a burned stick and scraped and rubbed and drew images (sometimes crude, sometimes extremely sophisticated) for others to see.  

It's why I pick up my camera.

It's my way of saying "I was here, and this is who I was while I walked the Earth."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

You know the drill

"I wondered if full-blooded vampires had something like blue balls for their fangs
if they didn't get to feed when they were expecting to.
Like some kind of pseudo-sexual gingivitis."

--Sierra Dean, Grave Secret

Self portrait 10-17-13

"Every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than a diamond."

-- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Self portrait (2) 10-17-13

"Gingivitis erupts through the gums of plenty of biters."

-- Dope D.O.D, "What Happened?"

"Trips to the dentist --
I like to postpone that kind of thing."

-- Johnny Depp

This is me disguised as a vampire with excellent oral hygiene. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sticker shock

"So there you have it: Nature is a rotten mess.
But that's only the beginning.
If you take your eyes off it for one second,
it will kill you."

-- Lee Goldberg, Mr. Monk in Trouble

Self portrait 10-16-13

"The Ant"

The ant has made her self illustrious
By constant industry industrious.
So what? Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?

-- Ogden Nash

There is a proverb that says "An elephant may be big, but it falls on its face more than an ant."

That may be so, but these ants fell on my face.

Not really.

They didn't fall from anywhere. I put them there. They're just stickers, silly.

Ding ding ding!

Bonus "October-faced" fun fact:  Myrmecophobia is the inexplicable fear of ants.

So today's face is me, disguised as a myrmecophobiac.

Add this cool new word to your vocabulary today by using it ten times in a sentence. People will think you're really smart.

Or a jackass.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Keep calm and Carrie on

Mr. Morton: "We're all sorry about this incident, Cassie."

Carrie: [voice breaking, shouts] "It's Carrie!"

-- Stephen King, Carrie

Barbie as "Carrie" 10-15-13

"I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine
and rage the likes of which you would not believe.
If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

-- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Sissy Spacek as "Carrie" (1976)

"Everybody is a book of blood; 
wherever we're opened, we're red."

-- Clive Barker, Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3

Halloween is a fertile time for horror flicks and haunted houses. So in the spirit of all things horrifying, I doused one of my Barbies in a bucket of pig's blood (okay, it's just Karo syrup and red food coloring) and re-created the iconic prom scene from the 1976 movie Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, the shy, outcast weird girl who gets bullied, and then gets telekinetic revenge.

I've been thinking about this portrait for a while, and "October-faced" seemed like the right time to rock it.

The first really scary movie I ever saw was Stephen King's The Shining. It was 1980 and was a 12-year-old 7th grader. I went with my mom and my friend Linda, who was staying at my house for a sleepover. My mom took the R rating seriously and called Linda's very traditional old-world Italian parents to get permission for her to see the movie.

They said yes.

The theater was packed when we got there. But we got our two child and one adult tickets. Finding a seat was more difficult. We ended up in the second row from the front, far left, on the aisle. For the next two hours I got the shit scared out of me.

The corpse in the bathtub.

Those twins.

Jack Nicholson's face.

I loved all of it.

I also have a really vivid memory of watching Friday the 13th, again with my mom, this time on the couch at home, both of us cowering under a blanket waiting for Jason to pop up out of the pond and into the rowboat.

So scary.

But so fun.

There is something immensely satisfying about the clash of feeling simultaneously afraid and completely safe.

Horror is a love it or hate it kind of genre. I don't consume as much of it as I used to (mostly because I don't want it to disturb my precious sleep), but every once in a while I indulge. I prefer suspense to gore, psychological thrillers to slasher films. My son Sam and I watched The Ring parts 1 and 2 last summer. It was an oddly satisfying bonding thing, kind of like I had with my own mom back in the day.

I love this statement by author Warren Ellis about the place of scary movies and books in our psychology:

"Fiction is how we both study and de-fang our monsters. 
To lock violent fiction away, or to close our eyes to it, 
is to give our monsters and our fears undeserved power 
and richer hunting grounds.
It’s entirely possible that we need 
a little blood in our eyes to see some things more clearly."

-- Warren Ellis, 
"Blood in Your Eye: Why We Need Violent Stories"

(Click here if you want to read Warren Ellis's complete essay.)

In case you don't already know, Carrie has been re-made with Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role.
It opens this Friday.
It's a perfect opportunity to grab a couple of 12-year-olds and go de-fang some monsters.

Monday, October 14, 2013


"One need not be a chamber to be haunted."

-- Emily Dickinson,
"Part Four: Time and Eternity"

Self portrait 10-14-13

"Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most."

-- Emily Dickinson,
"Part Four: Time and Eternity"

"I am empty of everything.
I am empty of everything but the thin, 
frail ghosts in my room."

-- Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight

I made this paper mache skull mask as part of my 2012 "No Day Without Art" 365 days project.
Making this mask (and two other companion masks) was definitely one of my favorite projects from that year. Amazingly, I've never used any of them in a self portrait, until now.

Taking this guy out of his box made me want to make more masks.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


"The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. 
As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; 
they cease to be mind."

-- Friedrich Nietzsche

Self portrait 10-13-13

"Self-love for ever creeps out, like a snake, 
to sting anything which happens to stumble upon it."

-- George Gordon Noel Byron

"Kill the snake of doubt in your soul, 
crush the worms of fear in your heart 
and mountains will move out of your way."

-- Kate Seredy

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite 
and furthermore always carry a small snake."

-- W.C. Fields

This is me disguised as someone charming.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wolf! Where?

"Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness."

-- Allen Ginsberg

Self portrait 10-12-13

David:    "I'm a werewolf.
  Alex:      "Are you alright?
                                                 David:    "I don't know, I'll let you know the next full moon."

-- An American Werewolf in London

"I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's,
And his hair was perfect."

-- Warren Zevon, "Werewolves of London"

Friday, October 11, 2013


"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."

-- Leonardo da Vinci

These are my fingers.

Finger faces 10-11-13

These are my fingers in disguise.

Finger faces in disguise 10-11-13

"In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I'd like to see a flag made not out of stars and stripes, 
but rather fingers and knuckles, 
so that it could really wave in the wind."

-- Jarod Kintz, 
The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They're Over

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Blue period

"Maybe  Cubism started this way. Memory re-arranging a face."

-- Mary Rakow, The Memory Room: A Novel

Self portrait 10-10-13

"Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter."

-- Pablo Picasso

"You want a Picasso? We got Picasso, big Picasso. 
Nobody can make heads or tails of it. 
It's a lion? No, a seahorse. Looks to me like a radiator with wings. 
Who gives a damn, people, a Picasso's a Picasso."

-- Peter Orner, Love and Shame and Love

This Picasso-inspired face is the end result of a combination of things.

First it was body painting. 
I covered my face, neck, ears, shoulders and hair with blue, lavender, white, gray and black paint. 

Then it was photography.
I took pictures of myself in the body paint against a sketchy background drawn in black Sharpie marker. I also took pictures of a chair.

Then it was collage.
I printed and then cut up several of the self-portraits, as well as a picture of the chair, arranged and re-arranged them, then glued them down.

Then it was drawing.
With colored pencil and marker, I sketched and outlined some parts of the glued-together collage.

Then it was photography again.
I shot a picture of the picture, and that's the face that became the end result.

La Vie, Picasso
I totally used Picasso as my jumping off point. Two of his works, in particular, inspired this face. One is called La Vie. It lives at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I visit every time I go to the museum. It's pretty much one of my favorite paintings of all time.

Untitled, Picasso

The other is this untitled Cubist portrait of a woman on a chair.
I didn't try to copy these paintings exactly.

They were just a starting place for my own personal riff on a self-portrait. But that doesn't mean I didn't copy. I fully confess to copying Picasso. But I feel like I sort of had permission to do so. I mean, he was the one who said:

"Good artists copy, great artists steal."

-- Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Beautiful monster

"She's a monster, beautiful monster
Beautiful monster but I don't mind
And I need her, said I need her
Beautiful monster but I don't mind."

-- Ne-Yo, "Beautiful Monster"

Self portrait 10-9-13

"Sometimes I think there's a beast that lives inside me,
in the cavern that's where my heart should be,
and every now and then it fills every last inch of my skin ..."

-- Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care

Self portrait (2) 10-9-13

"We all have a Monster within;
the difference is in degree, not in kind."

-- Douglas Preston, The Monster of Florence

Self portrait (3) 10-9-13

The Monster:   You, make man ... like me?
Dr. Pretorius:      No. Woman ... friend for you.
The Monster:   Woman ... Friend ... Wife ...

-- The Bride of Frankenstein

My month-long "October-Faced" challenge-within-a-challenge has a dual purpose.

One is to celebrate the month of October by making it a special faces in disguise-themed project.

The other is to figure out what I'm going to be for Halloween.

I almost always dress up and stand at the end of our driveway to pass out candy to the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Usually my boys dress up with me. Sam has been Michael Jackson in various iterations for several years. Leo has been wearing the same Cookie Monster costume since he was a little kid, which is hilarious now because he is over 6 feet tall and the thing fits him like a tiny, fuzzy, blue plush shrug with a Cookie Monster head on top. He wore it to Chipotle last year and got a free burrito.

I've been a bull rider, Elastigirl, Maid Marion (with my husband as a super-cute Robin Hood), a witch. The year I was a witch, my friend Maria brought her little grandsons by. The littlest one, who couldn't quite get his Ws in the right places, was scared of me and clung to Maria saying "I don't wike dat cwazy bitch." Of course, Maria encouraged his fledgling, accidental profanity. 

Maria: "Who is that, Ryan?" 

Ryan: "A bitch." 



This Bride of Frankenstein costume (well, makeup and wig so far) might be a front-runner. I still have a couple more ideas I want to explore. But this one is definitely in contention. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm all ears

"Who you are  speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self portrait 10-8-13

"A beautiful thing never gives so much pain 
as does failing to hear and see it."

-- Michelangelo

Self portrait (2) 10-8-13

"Hear the other side."

-- Saint Augustine

 "It takes only one bad amp to turn your ears to oatmeal. 
That's how old hippies became Yanni fans." 

-- Rob Sheffield

This is me, disguised as a good listener.