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Internal Combustion
16/03/2008
More noise

Fresh from The Brown (the dark paneled Thrdgll recording studio) comes this bit of sample-based surrealism.  It's not quite this lo-fi "in person" - I had to compress the file a bit for easier online digestion.

Dig: 846pm


Posted by thrdgll at 9:02 PM EDT
Updated: 18/03/2008 2:49 PM EDT
14/03/2008
Get Your Bacon Better
 

This won’t mean much to most of you, but I was overjoyed to find the legendary Blue Hammer tape among my piles of ancient cassettes this week.  This mid-80’s recording features young Troy England Evitt III (of Grampy’s Lump fame) improvising a commercial for a miracle cooking product, assisted by our pal, Bill Glave, on sound effects.  For some reason, we all preferred this tape played at a slower speed, the way it’d presented here.

 Blue Hammer is quoted quite often around my house, even though we rarely cook bacon.  Glave’s mighty “KOONG!” (the one that never fails to send Evitt into hysterics) is a sound effect Melissa and I still employ whenever one is threatening to bludgeon the other.

Click here to listen: Blue Hammer


Posted by thrdgll at 1:34 PM EDT
11/03/2008
Retooling

 

 

Okay, I was going to just replace the old Blankie drawing with this new one, but I thought I'd keep both to demonstrate my obsessive need to redraw everything 100 times.  I was never happy with the squating posture of the original (an attempt to illustrate the dazed staggering taking place in the dream - though it really just looks like I'm taking a dump), so I went back to my earlier sketches for this pose.  Plus the head, referenced from a digital photo I snapped of myself, displayed a little too much realism for a lifelong cartoonist like me to handle.  Worst of all, I had excluded Petey from the first draft, even though he appeared in the dream.  Oh, and I decided against the text.  Too comic book-y.

So, after many sleepless nights, I knew I had to tackle this one again.  Hell, I've worked on it this long, why not make my life's work this single piece of art?  I'll just keep redrawing until I've got several dozen versions of it, then I'll open a gallery stocked with nothing but blankie-cloaked self-portraits.  Worked for that Blue Dog guy.

If nothing else, this should give you some idea of why I'm not really cut out for a career in illustration.  Few art directors are willing to wait the 6 - 8 weeks for my 487th draft of the art to be complete.  (Well, that's a slight exaggeration, but I have been known to email a "finished" assignment, only to send a new and improved version the next day.  And yes, sometimes they run the first, crappier version.)


Posted by thrdgll at 5:24 PM EDT
Updated: 11/03/2008 5:52 PM EDT
02/03/2008
The Return of the Son of the Ghost of Bedbugs

 

I'm embarrassed to admit that I started working on this piece nearly two years ago.  I recently rediscovered the initial sketches I made for it and decided to finish it up.  It's a Bedbug, that is to say, it's a dream image.  Not as jam-packed with hilarity as some of my previous Bedbugs work perhaps, but it was a dream so vivid and alarming I wanted to get it somewhat permenantly documented.

That cloak I'm covered with is what Melissa and I refer to as "green blankie".  The original green blankie was a Holt family heirloom, which I nestled on the couch with for years until she convinced me it could no longer withstand the washing machine.  She was overjoyed, as you can imagine, when I found a perfectly identical green blankie during my Salvation Army tenure. (And yes, that's texture from the actual blanket in question collaged into the art.)

Anyway, in this dream, I'm covered in the blanket, wearing work gloves and hammering out the Zombies song noted above in the middle of the night at my parents' house.  At this point, I am overcome with a recurring dream condition I call the Brain Melt, which is a seizure of sheer insanity, a feeling that I'm perhaps dying or otherwise being torn between realities.  I used to get the Brain Melt during out-of-body/sleep paralysis episodes, where I would
"leave my body" in my sleep and wake up in immobilized terror (I had a good bit of LSD in my system in those days).

I just love all the Freudian imagery here.  Why the family piano?  Why that particular song?  Why is green blankie my shroud?  And what up with those gloves?

This frightening dreamtime insanity took place years ago, by the way.  I'm fine now, thanks for asking.

 


Posted by thrdgll at 11:10 PM EST
Updated: 04/03/2008 9:29 PM EST
29/02/2008
Highly recommended

Turns out the problem with Garfield was that damn cat:

http://garfieldminusgarfield.tumblr.com/


Posted by thrdgll at 5:18 PM EST
23/02/2008
Favorite Library Patrons:

 

 

 


Posted by thrdgll at 11:35 PM EST
Updated: 24/02/2008 7:29 PM EST
12/02/2008
I have two questions:

1: Do the folks at Welch's really expect people to lick a page from People magazine?

2: Is this behavior we want to encourage?

 


Posted by thrdgll at 7:00 PM EST
06/02/2008
More spandex!


 


Posted by thrdgll at 9:27 PM EST
01/02/2008
Something for your nightmares:


Believe it or not, this incredibly frightening object is a toy.  Parents actually purchased this instrument of terror and handed it willingly to children in the 1950's.  It's the Popeye Bubble Maker, and that disturbing device in Popeye's gaping maw that looks like a death ray apparently produced delightful bubbles.  To my eye, this beast looks better suited for a Ray Harryhaussen film, destroying the city while emitting mechanical shrieks.  The town is ablaze, pedestrians flee.  Finally, the heroine's scientist father has an epiphany.  "Salt water!  We must alert the Navy!"


Posted by thrdgll at 9:15 PM EST
Updated: 01/02/2008 9:37 PM EST
My favorite book cover:

This ain't that messy, unprincipled "street" basketball the young people get caught up in.  The Wood Man is here to teach you modern, practical basketball - the sort that will get you through emergency situations.


 


Posted by thrdgll at 9:04 PM EST
Updated: 01/02/2008 9:12 PM EST
24/01/2008
As it must to all men...

While the rest of you are sobbing in your lattes over the drug overdose of Heath Ledger, I'll save my tears for the late, great Suzanne Pleshette.  I would've rather seen Suzy play a gay cowboy or the Joker any day.

Belated thanks to all those who thought of me first when hearing of Evel Knievel's death not long ago.  I got a ton of "did you hear?" emails.  I considered posting a tribute article to Knievel I wrote for my college paper in the early 90's.  But, like everything else I did in art school, it turned out to be terrible when I looked at it again.  I've been scheming about a caricature book collection of seventies pop culture icons, so I'm sure I'll revisit Evel again.  As Red Buttons says in Viva Kneivel, "I'm a friend of Evel, too!"

Speaking of quotes, have a look at my new favorite site: http://quotation-marks.blogspot.com/

 


Posted by thrdgll at 11:38 AM EST
Updated: 24/01/2008 11:57 AM EST
20/01/2008
Audio Ashrant

Click below to hear my recounting of Little Richard's appearance on the late, lamented Byron Allen Show.  You'll pardon the background noise, I hope.  This comes from the Ashrant cassette series, recorded while I drive and usually mailed to Al Bigley (who likely fast-forwards through the bulk of the tape searching for comments about Batman).

Click: Ode to Byron

Apologies for any problems with the file.  The world of online audio still baffles me.


Posted by thrdgll at 11:33 PM EST
Updated: 21/01/2008 12:02 AM EST
19/01/2008

Faithful followers of Internal Combustion (greetings to both of you!) will notice that I've deleted a couple of previous entries and have placed them elsewhere on the ashleyholt.com site.  My intentions, ever so fragile little things, were to avoid producing a "blog" in the traditional sense and upload these darling, illustrated, autobiographical musings.  Such a task, as it turns out, would invalidate my vow of laziness, a promise I made to myself as a wee lad to entertain big ideas while remaining largely immobile.  In other words, drawin' them pitchers takes too long.

So, henceforth, any such autobiographix will appear in some other form, and this...(ugh) "blog" will house much duller, everyday musings.  You know, things I hate about fashion trends, links to Youtube videos of cats playing pianos, my thoughts on airport security...same crap you're reading everywhere else.

On the plus side, you'll see updates on my various artistic efforts, such as this sneak preview of my latest caricature:

You kids probably don't remember when telephones sat on tables instead of vibrating near your crotch, but they looked somewhat like this.  And that's just part of the exciting history lesson that awaits!  You're welcome!!

 

 


Posted by thrdgll at 9:42 PM EST
26/12/2007


 


Posted by thrdgll at 10:18 PM EST
02/09/2007
The Night Civilization Peaked

You've probably heard by now about the amazing CD released in 2005 featuring the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, a "lost" recording recently discovered in the Library or Congress.  It's astounding, not only in the performance, but in the glossy sound quality - crystal sonic clarity after decades lost in the vaults. 

The quartet was playing a benefit show at Carnegie Hall in 1957.  And what's especially jarring about the CD is a reproduction of the poster for that show found in the liner notes:

Look at that lineup!  Dizzy, Billie, Sonny, Chet and Zoot, Theo and Trane and Brother Ray all on the same ticket!  It makes my head spin to consider that an America once existed where this sort of cultural miracle took place.  Can there be any doubt that this poster serves to document the Night Civilization Peaked?  Even while the beats and boppers were soaking in this glorious happening, Elvis was luring away the next generation with his siren hips, inspiring the hucksters and tastemakers of the pop culture empire to focus all their attention on free-spending teenagers for the next 50 years.  As a result, the only music marketed to adult tastes these days are a handful of Streisand records and the Titanic soundtrack.

Long gone are the glory days of bop.  And with it went the mid-century dream of modernization.  Giddy Googie diners and Danish Modern interiors were soon replaced by Burger King and La-Z-Boys.  Jackson Pollock and Ben Shawn were replaced by Jeff Coons and Hanna-Barbera. Rod Serling was replaced by Erkle.  And it just gets worse.

So when November 29 rolls around this year, join this bitter old man in a toast to the Thanksgiving Jazz benefit of 1957.  And hope that, by some fluke of fate, we may see another Monk in our lifetime.

 


Posted by thrdgll at 10:14 PM EDT
Updated: 03/09/2007 5:19 PM EDT
03/06/2007
"The Confusion is Complete"

Above: A portrait of Stardust, whipped up for a tribute thread at the Comics Journal board (www.tcj.com).  The Super Wizard is being honored in eager anticipation of I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, the very first book ever devoted entirely to the mind-altering works of Fletcher Hanks, sometimes referred to as "the Ed Wood of comics".  Check out www.fletcherhanks.com and see why the impending release of this book has given me a reason to live.

 


Posted by thrdgll at 10:39 PM EDT
Updated: 03/06/2007 11:09 PM EDT
31/05/2007
Something to Buy!

I had to take a break from reliving my sordid youth to finish up a little project for Wide Awake Press.  It's The Infinite League Versus the Miscellaneous, a sketchbook portfolio of 15 new drawings, all featuring super heroic guys and gals locked in mortal combat with inanimate objects.  This miniature miracle will be unveiled at Heroes Con '07 in Charlotte, NC, June 15 - 17.  Stop by Indie Island to fetch this and many other fine publications from the bestest and most beautific comics publisher in the tri-county area: WAP!

 


Posted by thrdgll at 4:19 PM EDT
Updated: 31/05/2007 4:41 PM EDT
09/05/2007
Runneth Over With Cups

 

Long ago – they tell me it was 1973 – the 7-11 convenience store chain released a series of Slurpee cups with images of DC Comics super heroes printed on them: http://www.glassnews.com/images/dcchecklist.gif.  These were cheap, plastic cups in which the neon-colored concoction of syrup and crushed ice was dispensed.  Usually, the cups featured a never-ending parade of sports stars, which held no interest to an avid indoorsman like me, who spent most of his free time coloring or playing with bugs.  Having developed a growing interest in the cartoon likes of Superman and his cape-wearing ilk, I was very excited that this form of merchandising was taking a break from the Aarons and Clementes to serve up a few men in tights.  Draw your own Freudian conclusions.

 

The problem was that the cups were packed randomly.  You’d order a Slurpee and the tired 7-11 clerk would pull the next available cup from the dispenser without either of you knowing which character you’d get.  You’d have your fingers crossed for a Batman or a Green Lantern, only to be served up a Slurpee in a Wonder Girl cup.  I would’ve settled for an Hourman, Sgt. Rock or even Chameleon Boy (whoever he was), but which cup did I get over and over?  Perry White.

 

That’s right, no two-fisted action man for me.  I got Perry White, Clark Kent’s boss at the Daily Planet.  While the other characters were out combating giant monsters with their laser vision and shape-shifting and such, Perry was sitting at his desk, editing newspaper copy.  And I got cups sporting this dynamic pencil pusher time and time again in the Slurpee cup lotto, like some sick, cosmic joke.  Once, my father was sent to the 7-11 to fetch Slurpees for me and the neighbor kids and returned with three Perry Whites!  It was obvious that the 7-11, DC Comics, God and my father all hated me.

 

But today, I cherish the Perry White cup as a valuable life lesson.  In this world, there are no super heroes, no benevolent ultramen ready to swoop down from the sky to right injustices like these.  There is only a never-ending stream of Perry Whites, business-savvy number crunchers, grinding out daily product and obsessing over the bottom line.  Not unlike the stodgy, old 7-11 executives who toyed with my boyhood dreams with their cheap, plastic shell game and snickered at my misfortune.

 

So yes, I blame Slurpee cups for all my cynicism about the modern world.  But it could’ve been worse.  Imagine my opinion of the Powers That Be had I gotten a few Commissioner Gordons.

 

 


 


Posted by thrdgll at 11:17 AM EDT
22/04/2007
The Infinite Cosmos

It’s surprising to me now that I even found the idea of LSD appealing.  I’ve always been a self-control freak and I was already having major anxiety issues with pot by the time I was in high school.  I should’ve been able to predict that acid wasn’t the drug for me, but it took quite a number of pulse pounding, panic-riddled freak-outs to convince me I wanted to stay lucid.

 

The big mistake was dropping the acid at night, which everyone does in keeping with proper “party” hours.  You lose a whole night’s sleep in addition to putting yourself through a chemical drenched meltdown that takes all hours to clear up.  The end of my acid ritual in those days was always the same.  I’d cocoon myself on the couch with the tv on, trying to create a mundane environment to come down in, keeping myself glued to the tube and resisting the urge to run around in circles. 

 

Back then, the only non-cable channel still on 4:00 am Saturday morning broadcast a block of antique Westerns from the dawn of television.  They were obviously all cranked out by the same production company back in 1950, using the same actors, same bad guy hideout shack, same horses, probably all shot on the same day.  These cowboys became close friends.  I depended on their rugged predictability to ward off the night’s insanity.  Their theme songs all consisted of a single line, the title of the show sung by a heavily reverbed chorus of earnest studio singers.  “Buffalo Bill Jun-iorrrrrr!!”  There was also Annie Oakley, Champion the Wonder Horse and Range Rider.  The latter was my favorite, simply because the guy was actually addressed as “Range Rider” by any and everyone.  “Range Rider!  Range Rider!  There’s trouble at the crik!”

 

Watching television was impossible during the peak of an acid trip.  LSD strips away the illusion of tv and you see it for what it really is, strips of colored lines being regenerated over and over.  Forget about followed the plot of BJ and the Bear in that condition of true awareness.  That’s the wonderful and terrifying thing about the drug.  Those mental shortcuts the mind creates to maintain sanity, the assumptions, the prejudices, the blind faith, are wiped away.  You might recognize your shoes or your fingers or Cookie Monster, but your mind won’t settle for simply definitions.  WHY are your fingers?  WHAT is the MEANING of your shoes?  HOW does Cookie Monster’s puppet consciousness relate to the vast configuration of eternal oneness now evident in the infinite sound waves of the universe ?

 

LSD veterans would always tell you never to look in the mirror during a trip, so that’s one of the first things I did.  I could see my eye rhythmically dilating in and out, which actually made me feel more relaxed as it explained a lot about why the carpet was waving like the ocean and people kept turning into fish and lawnmowers and Popeye.  The pulse in my eye was the chemical pulse of my body was the cosmic pulse of everything.  Heavy, man. Heavy.

 

No, the best advice is never to look into the night sky in the throes of an acid trip.  Our rational minds, you see, have concocted this force field of self-preservation which allows us to generally ignore the vastness of the universe even as we’re staring right into it.  Under normal mental conditions, the night sky appears as a domed roof, a cloak of darkness with a few shimmering pinholes of twinkling light.  LSD makes you aware of the true three-dimensionality of the infinite universe and you stare into the night sky fully aware of its enormity, you mind suddenly able to soak up a reality far too huge for your tiny noggin to contain.  It can bring you closer to madness than any wavy sidewalk or purple aura on your girlfriend ever could.

 

One night, my friend Reed and I were hanging around the parking lot of a neighborhood pool, having nowhere proper, as usual, to indulge in our juvenile delinquency.  This had been a particularly grueling LSD trip and we hoped for some sort of seclusion to get our heads together.  Unfortunately, the trees began dancing exotically to NPR’s blues music and seemed ready to reach in through the windshield to whisk us away to their magical midnight ballroom, so we had to get out of the car.  That’s when we noticed what a clear view we had of the night sky.

 

We dug infinity, as Lord Buckley used to say, becoming aware of ourselves “traveling” through the cosmos.  But we realized that gravity had us magnetized to the Earth, the roundness of which was now completely obvious (a little LSD could’ve coaxed the Enlightenment along by several centuries), so we figured out that, as the vastness of space lured us into itself, we pulled the Earth along with us.  We were not on a stationary flatland with stars twinkling overhead, this whole planet was moving, hurtling through infinity like a raft on the rapids.  Our only choice was to grab hold of imaginary steering wheels and help direct the whole damn planet, lest it stray from its proper course and collide with another star.  Believe me, Captain Kirk never had a responsibility this intense.

 

We steered the Earth until we got dizzy and fell onto the asphalt.  As I recall, Reed figured out he had enough money for a room at the El Camino motel down the road and we holed up there, rearranging all the furniture and our personal accessories in artful symmetry ala Pink in The Wall.  I became convinced that I could overcome the acid madness if I just had a smaller space to exist in, a place small enough to comprehend.  So I took the lamp into the closet and closed myself up.  But it was no good, the infinite cosmos was still there, pouring through the paint on the wall, and I was forced to navigate through it.  I now knew what I now knew.

 

I couldn’t take it.  I left Reed there in the El Camino to steer the Earth on his own and drove home, eager to settle in with Annie Oakley and her friends, secure in that tiny world of black and white hats and predictable plots.  Champion the Wonder Horse rode over a flat plain, neatly sealed in a television set which sat firmly in its place.

 

Years later, I heard from some of the schizophrenics I know that one of the symptoms that drove them to seek treatment was their constant awareness that they’re inhabiting a planet that’s moving through space.  They were unable to separate the mundane from the cosmic realities of their day-to-day existence.  They dug infinity all the time.

 

I know what they’re talking about.  I’m still looking for that smaller space to comprehend.

 

Back then, I discovered a better way to get through an LSD trip, advice that I’ll now pass along to you eager youngsters: drop the acid in the morning and go to school.  Far from being paranoid, you’ll be happy to know that so many figures of authority are there to help if your head begins to sprout bat wings or your legs start melting.  Better still, you’ve got a structured environment, each classroom more exciting than the last, rather than aimless wandering in a strange neighborhood, trying to avoid your parents.  If you’re really lucky, as I was once, you’ll have a school assembly that day in the gym and cheerleaders will come out to create patterns of brightly colored school spirit for your amusement.

 

It’s like they always tell you, school can be fun if only you change your attitude.

 

 


Posted by thrdgll at 6:20 PM EDT
Updated: 25/04/2007 1:01 PM EDT

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