Aug 31 2011

#123 “Ignis Lupis”


From “Iginis Lupis” in Monterrey, Mexico

Proud. Stern. Fair.

Ignis Lupis: The Wolf of Fire.

The beauty of this breathtaking illustration is not lost on me, but what intrigues me even more is the choice of pen name of the artist. I obviously love the fact that the name reflects the passion and spirit of wolf, but what about the fact that the phrase is in Latin? What connections can be made here?

There are some, in their naivete, who might claim that since Latin is a dead language, it is an inappropriate language to serve as a moniker for a wolf-related artist who is supposed to represent the vitality and virility of the lobo. I, however, would beg to differ. Latin is not dead, but very much alive. It flows through ancient texts and works of art like a beautifully artistic river of history. It is aesthetically pleasing both in its sound and in its lines on the page. It is regal. It is stately. It embodies everything the wolf stands for in a lexical form.

“Ignis Lupis.” The name rolls off the tongue like honey and tastes just as sweet in your mouth. Say it with me. Say it aloud: “Ignis Lupis,” The Wolf of Fire.

 


Aug 30 2011

#122 “Mystique”

From Maj in Maribor, Slovenia

Mystique (n): a fascinating mystery of aura, awe, and power surrounding someone or something

When it first met my eyes, the romantic allure of this illustration struck me as being so intoxicating, so overwhelming, that for many hours I was held powerless in its artful grip and could not even begin to question its meaning or interpret its message. I merely basked in the glow of its grandeur and was content.

Now, many days later, I have adjusted more readily to the comeliness of this incredibly unique masterpiece, but I still find myself unskilled in any interpretation of it. This work defies description and yet incorporates so many elements into its presentation that it encompasses a world associations.

The enigmatic lights that create a chilling silhouette of this tremendous wolf create both the mystery as well as the appeal of this extra-sensory masterpiece. Are these lights the headlights of a vehicle plowing through the thickness of night, preparing to mow down this werewolf-like creature on a windy mountain road? Are they the lights of hunters, seeking out their prey in the dense forests of an Appalachian Mountain hollow? Are they perhaps dim specters of the wolf aura itself that surrounds this beautiful creature as it maneuvers its way skillfully through the dead, still darkness of night?

No matter what the source of these lights might be, they share only a brief glimpse of this magnificent creature; but nonetheless, this is all that is needed to chill the blood, to induce a quickened heart rate and fix the eyes unwaveringly on this lupine wonder. So many questions may be raised about exactly what is taking place here, but one aspect of this illustration rings true: it’s beauty. Fierce or fanciful, tame or terrifying, otherworldly or ordinary, this wolf howls with a poignant magnificence that cannot be denied.

Just one glance at this picture makes me want to brave the midnight forests in search of the lordly king of the natural world. He may greet me with a mystical embrace… or he may rip my throat out with one swift gnashing of his razor-sharp teeth, but this illustration inspires me to try…. regardless of the outcome.


Aug 29 2011

#121 “When the going gets weird…”

 

 From Hikage in Quebec City, Canada

What do you get when you cross an acid trip with a breakfast cereal commercial and then sprinkle it with Saturday morning cartoon shows and a dash of depraved and twisted humor on top?

What do you get when you combine two parts MGMT music video with one part “Space Ghost”/”Adult Swim” and multiple by a clown’s wildest dream and the inner workings of Chuck Palahniuk’s childhood imagination?

The answer to both of these questions is the illustration that you see before you today. As the famous pioneer of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” And in my humble opinion, this illustration displays weirdness at its most professional. The picture seems to represent a refreshing sense of nostalgia that is weird and twisted, but it is also beautifully and artfully rendered. It is a perfection combination of warped childhood wonder, tame kinkiness, and true artistic talent.

In the end the viewer walks away from this illustration with a healthy confusion of disquietude and pleasure that is not easy to come by. For although the picture seems innocent enough on the surface, underneath the viewer is left with an almost twisted feeling that innocence has somehow been distorted here. The viewer may find himself asking whether the playful attitude/tone of the illustration genuine. But then again, maybe this attitude towards the illustration suggests more about me as a viewer than it does about the illustration.

Either way, I simply can’t stop staring at this colorful illustration which has caused a rainbow of thought to fill this clouded brain.

Also, just in case you’re interested, you can check out the Nyan Cat video below. I had actually never heard of this particular meme until the artist informed me about the reference in the illustration. On and slightly unrelated note, I can’t figure out whether I am embarrassed by my ignorance of the Nyan Cat or not. Either way, here it is. Enjoy!


Aug 28 2011

#120 “Joy”

 

From Sandra in East London

In my life I have been blessed to be able to visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida several times. It might sound slightly silly for a grown man to admit to this, but I absolutely love Disney World; in many ways I believe that it truly is “the happiest place on earth.” By far my favorite ride in all of the 4 parks that make up Disney World is called Soarin’. The unusual premise of the ride is that you are somehow strapped into a sort of open air flying machine somewhat similar to a mechanized hang glider of sorts. But this isn’t your average roller coaster. In fact, the ride isn’t a roller coaster at all. In reality it’s more like being suspended in front of a giant IMAX screen while various flying sequences and scenic images speed by.

What makes the ride so interesting, though, is how sensory appealing the whole experience is. You not only experience the sensation of flying because of the various tilt angles of the machinery; you can actually feel the wind on your face. You can smell the scents of oranges as they rise up from below you in the Florida orchards. The sounds that greet your ears are true and real and feel like they are coming at you from just the right angle and at just the right time. Everything is perfect. You really feel like your flying.

Ok. Moving on. This is where things might get a little weird. You see, whenever I ride Soarin’, I don’t just like it, I love it. Whenever I ride this ride, I don’t just experience happiness; I experience joy. And in my opinion, happiness and joy are two totally different things. We often think of joy as just a kind of happiness that is a little bit more intense than your average good mood, but I think the definition of joy runs deeper than this. Joy is the emotion that makes you cry for spontaneously at moments when your heart is overflowing with rapture. It’s a feeling that just feels like too much, like you’ve touched something very special, but you’re not actually sure what it is. Like you are nostalgic for something that you can’t quite put your finger on. Like an otherworldly memory of complete happiness is just outside your grasp. Like you have experienced something so beautiful that it has caused you physical pain. Your heart literally aches because of the exquisiteness of what you have encountered. The feeling is often bittersweet, tinged with the slightest bit of heartache, but the happiness of joy is so far beyond any other type of happiness, that even the pain that comes with it puts mere “happiness” to shame.

What does any of this have to do with the illustrations by Sandra that are on display today? Well, simply put, they give me joy. For reasons I can’t explain they carry me back to the warmest childhood memories and call to me with their layers of texture and their elements of magical realism and grounded fantasy. They stir my soul and cause my heart to pang with the deepest feelings of longing and solidify a belief that true beauty is not dead.

Thanks, Sandra. Joy is a rare commodity in this world, but you have given me this gift, and for that I am grateful.

For more great artwork by Sandra, check out her blog, her website, and her twitter account.


Aug 27 2011

#119 “What is a wolf?”

From Nick in New Orleans, Louisianna

I know what you’re thinking. It’s the same thing I was thinking when I downloaded this attachment that Nick to sent me all the way from Lousianna. This isn’t really a wolf. But, in a strange sort of way, this is the very thing which serves to make this illustration so humorous. Combined with the absurd censorship bars and overall randomness of the picture, the very fact that this illustration obviously pictures a cow but labels the animal as a wolf is the unexpected quirk that transports this picture from the land of error safely into the realm of humor. And really, I think we can all agree that it is quite funny. Weird…. but funny.

But this illustration also brings up a valid question: What is a wolf really? Is the definition of the word limited only to the description of those animals belonging to the family Canidae? Is a wolf simply a creature made up of blood and muscle? Of fur, bones and teeth? Or does the concept of a wolf transcend these definitions?

I believe it does.

The wolf is not simply a creature; it is an idea, an attitude, a belief. Wolf is a worldview. Simultaneously savage and sentimental, calm and courageous, ruthless and real, the wolf is all things to all people. We may be trapped in these human bodies. We may be limited by time and age. We may be fallible creatures, but we can (in short bursts) claim the spirit of the wolf as our own. We can live in the frame of mind of this wild and wonderful animal. We can learn from it and allow it to guide us.

And in this way we become wolves as well.


Aug 26 2011

#118 “Poker Face”

From D.S. in Chattanooga, Tennessee

When I first began to examine these illustrations, my eye was instantly drawn to the picture in the upper right hand corner that displays the four symbols which mark the suits of a deck of playing cards (spades, diamonds, clubs and hearts). I found this to an interesting addition to the illustration, but I did not immediately associate any importance with it or see how it was related to the other illustrations by D.S. Over time, however, the interlocking theme of all of these illustrations became clear to me.

It’s not just the one illustration that displays this “card playing” concept; this idea runs through all of the illustrations. While the illustration in the upper right may be the only one with any overt reference to card games, all of the other illustrations present concepts that are highly applicable as well. Follow along with me as I briefly examine them individually.

Upper Left: The drooling wolf perched carnivorously over the dead rabbit is clearly a metaphorical reference to the predator/prey aspect of card games, especially poker. The competition in most poker games is extremely fierce, and the natural order of dominance and survival of the fittest is clearly emphasized. Also, as a minor side note, the act of continuing to play out a hand after the winner has already been determined is called “rabbit chasing.”

Upper Right: The inclusion of the traditional card suits is clear enough, but I also encourage you to notice the hectic nature of the illustration. Can you see how all of the elements appear to be thrown together in a whirlwind of confusion? This obviously reflects the unpredictable nature of the game and the fact that although we can play the odds, the cards will ultimately do as they please. We are at their mercy as they blow us back and forth on the winds of fortune.

Lower Left: This illustration is small, but it speaks volumes about the necessity of a solid poker face. You literally have to be speaking out of both sides of your mouth. You must become two people in one.

Lower Right: I believe the suave style of dress presented in this picture is representative of the fact that poker has long been considered a gentlemen’s game, but the head which appears to be on fire pays homage to the fact that even game of skill and class is also emotional and  dramatic. The game is elegant but dangerous, stylish yet treacherous.

So, in conclusion, deal ‘em out and let the chips fall where they may!


Aug 25 2011

#117 “Wolf Call”


From Cody in Jacksonville, Florda

Illustrations of wolves howling at the moon are nothing new to me, but I have to admit that this picture did take me back a little bit, and ultimately I am still scratching my head. It wasn’t necessarily the play on the words “wolf call” (printed next to the original picture) which caused my brow to furrow with curiosity; it was more about the formatting of the illustration, itself. As you can see from the picture above, the canvas used for this piece of artwork is actually a piece of styrofoam shaped vaguely like a telephone. And to top it off, when the illustration found its way to the WBS post office box, it was in the form of a photocopy of piece of this styrofoam artwork. Since the styrofoam does not necessarily appear too large or cumbersome to fit into a standard sized envelope, I can only imagine that the illustrator wanted to keep this fine piece of artwork for himself (which is perfectly fine).

And finally, another enigma that plagues me is related to the “Verizon” label written at the bottom of the telephone. From what I can tell, the word has been changed to something that looks similar to “Lizrizon,” but I can’t tell for sure. Who is Liz? What is her relation to Cody? Are these two individuals involved in an illicit office romance at a Verizon store local in the the greater Jacksonville, Florida area? I’m not sure, but I would certainly like to know.

So, Cody, if you’re out there, pick up your wolf phone and give me a call. I’m “in the network.”


Aug 24 2011

#116 “Costume Shack”

From Allie in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Not far from where I live in Chattanooga, there is a costume shop called “Beauty and the Beast.” On the whole I am totally enamored with this little ‘mom and pop’ business, and I often wish that I could think of an excuse to simply stop in and peruse the merchandise besides that one time a year when I make my annual visit a few weeks before Halloween. There’s just something magical about wandering through those aisles piled high with pure imagination. The questions and possibilities flow so freely there. What do I want to become today? A pirate or a pimp? A werewolf or a cyborg? Perhaps a wizard might be nice. Or what about Roman soldier?

With the right amount of imagination and a few additions to our outward appearance, we may transform ourselves into totally new beings. Although we may not have the opportunity to assume these identities in “real life,” the temporary donning of a costume has a powerful effect on our minds, often producing a cathartic experience, a cleansing or purging of the emotions through a temporary changing of identity that is often as simple as putting on a mask. God, I do love to pretend.

As is the case with many pictures that I receive, the illustration above plays on this theme of a wolf dressing up in sheep’s clothing, but what I love about this particular picture is the notion that this act, while being one that is typically associated with slyness and a devious nature, is one that might also be associated with fun… with imagination… with the joy of simply putting on that costume and becoming something new, if only temporarily.

Today, I encourage you: don a costume, wear a mask. Be someone new and unique and creative and interesting and painfully alive. Go shopping and use a faux British accent. Where a suit and tie and carry a briefcase even if you are going nowhere that requires it. Dress like a bum and sit on a street corner downtown. Throw on some khakis and a red polo shirt and go to Target; if someone asks for your help, give them your best assistance. Wrap the top of your head in a bandage and speak with a stutter or a slow drawl.

Try it out. Put on that costume. I promise you won’t regret it.


Aug 23 2011

#115 “I’m gonna to eat your toes while you’re sleeping!”

From a stranger in Nashville, Tennessee

in the back of everyone’s mind is a deap-seated association with something that unfailingly serves as an impetus for instant fear. Upon examination, the sparks that ignite our individually fearful fires are as varied as the people that make up our world. Everyone’s secret fear is different. For some the catalyst for terror may simply be darkness and the vulnerability it brings, for others it might be the thought or sight of blood and gore. Still others are scared by notions of demon sorcery and witchcraft. Some fear ghosts and spirits while others are terrified by thoughts of monsters and mutants or human fiends such as demented madmen and axe murderers.

For some of us, our greatest fears are more rooted in “reality.” We are afraid of snakes or spiders, things that creep on the ground or live under slimy stones or dry sandy caves. Still, for many of us, our greatest fear lies in the dread of losing a loved one or being alone. Regardless of what it is or where it comes from, we all live with fear.

Personally, I have always been frightened by the molestation or twisting of innocence. The thought of taking something pure and innocent and perverting it into something demonic or evil has always brought a chill to my bones and caused the hair of my neck and arms to stand at attention. Examples of what I’m talking about? Well… the clearest examples that I can think of include movies which feature demented or demonic children. Some of these might include The Shining, Pet Cemetery, Poltergeist, and The Omen. To a lesser degree, things such as clowns and examples such as the movie Child’s Play might fall into this category. As I said, there’s just something about that notion of perverted innocence that sets me on edge. I suppose it might have something to do with a deep-seated black and white worldview that I adopted as a child. Good things were good, and bad things were bad, and anything that blurred these lines or challenged this paradigm was frightening.

Anyway, I believe all this is closely related to why merely glancing at this picture causes my blood pressure to rise, my face to grow wan and pale, and my palms to sweat. The picture in and of itself is innocent enough. It is cartoonish and amusing, but there’s also a crazed look in those offset mismatched eyes. Why can’t I see the rest of the face? What is it that lies just below the frame? A mouth snarling with jagged rows of teeth, dripping blood and human entrails?

And then, to top it off, there’s that creepy and twisted message. Eat my toes? Why?! Why don’t you just devour me whole while I sleep? I can’t handle it! My mind is unwittingly drawn to the image of waking in the middle of the night to discover that something is wrong, something is…. missing. As I peer down towards the end of the bed, the first thing that I notice is a clump of bloody sheets. Then a horrible sight greets my eyes: there they are, the bloody stumps of my feet. All my toes have been removed. Then as my body descends into shock and I begin to lose consciousness, my eye fall upon the crowning pinnacle of terror: just barely poking its head above the surface of the mattress is the face of this demonically twisted yet comically wolf-like creature. The only sounds are the smacking of this jaws and the crunching of the bones of my toes between his teeth.

Someone, please…. make it go away.


Aug 22 2011

Special “Contest” for Facebook Fans Only!

Wolves by Strangers is offering another “contest” of sorts. I have recently acquired 20 temporary wolf tattoos that I am giving away to the first 20 contributors who submit a picture and supply a valid return address. The only stipulation is that you must be a fan of the Wolves by Strangers facebook page. If you’re not a fan of the page, there’s no better time than now!

An image of the tattoo is pictured above. Each tattoo measures approximately 3″ x 3″.

FAQ:

Q: What if I just sent a picture in yesterday? Can I get a tattoo?
A: The contest is for pictures postmarked August 22 or later, but if you just submitted a picture, there’s no rule against submitting another one. Get that baby in the mail tomorrow!

Q: What if I live far away and am afraid that other pictures will beat mine to the punch?
A: If you’re afraid that snail mail might be too slow, just email the pic.

Q: What if I’m not a current facebook fan?
A: Just become a fan today and then submit your picture.


Aug 22 2011

#114 “Funny Wolf”

From Melydia in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Our cultural associations with wolves as being fierce and savage (or at least serious) creatures is so strongly rooted into our collective consciousness that it often becomes difficult to picture them in any other way. However, by treating the lupine as an animal that can only be one dimensional in interpretation, we diminish its value and strip it of other qualities that serve to make the wolf a creature that is all things to all people.

So, in an effort examine a different side of the wonderful wolf and in honor of the funny funny wolf that is on display today, here is some good clean wolf humor to make you chuckle. Enjoy!

Q: Why did the wolf cross the road?
A: He was chasing the chicken

Q: What did one hungry wolf say to the other?
A: Let’s go catch some fast food.

Q: What do you call a lost wolf?
A: A Where-Wolf

Q: How Do wolves eat their food?
A: The wolf it down

Q: What do you call a lumberjack wolf?
A: A “Timber” Wolf

Q: Where does a wolf sit in a movie theater?
A: Anywhere it wants!

 


Aug 21 2011

#113 “Identity Crisis”

From Charlie in San Francisco, California

Labels. We often say that we hate them, but in some ways we all strive for them. Let’s be honest: In reality, everyone is searching for an identity. Sometimes the identities that we seek out are truly unique and individualistic. At other times, our desire is to belong to a clique or group that will allow us to be a part of a collective identity and secure a position of belonging.

Overall, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a desire to be known as a certain “type” of person. It provides security and safety and makes us feel like we have a definitive of knowledge of our own selves, and most of the time there’s nothing wrong with this. Introspection is something we value, and creating labels for ourselves allows us to feel like we have achieved this even if we have not.

As for myself, I have sought out a variety of labels and identities over the years. In high school I was at first a nerd. Then I turned granola. After this, I dabbled in the stoner or hippie identity with a little bit of southern redneck thrown in for good measure. During all of this, I played the class clown and the sarcastic deadpan comedian with a hard exterior but a heart of gold.

As you can tell, of course, the pictures that are on display today explore a couple of modern labels that have only recently entered into our cultural lexicon. Now, I am not sure if you despise those that seem to adhere to the characteristics of these illustrations or if you are the person who fully exemplifies them. Either way, I think we can all agree that these illustrations are humorously exaggerated but also entertaining in their accuracy.

Over the past several months, I have engaged in a fair amount of communication back and forth with Charlie. I don’t really know exactly who she is because I have never met her in person. So… I couldn’t tell you if she is a hipster, hippie, scenester, nerd, goth, mean girl, yuppie, stoner, wasp, queen bee, wallflower, punk, emo kid, mod, or bla bla bla. But… I can tell you that she is another wonderful contributor to the Wolves by Strangers project and for that I have the deepest respect and admiration for her, and of course, as you can see, she is a very talented and unique artist. Also, I just have to say that I was so impressed when she asked me to send her some WBS flyers to hang up in San Francisco. How cool is that? If you want some flyers to hang up in your town, just let me know, and I would be more than happy to send some your way.

Finally, just as a final note, here is a hilarious website that details 37 different personality types. Check it out and see which label fits you best.


Aug 20 2011

#112 “Dire Wolf”

From a stranger in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Dire Wolf was a species of lobo that was native to both North and South America for many long ages before its extinction several thousand years ago. It was closely related to what we call today the Gray Wolf, but the Dire Wolf was larger and sturdier in frame despite its smaller brain and legs. All in all, the cause of the extinction of the Dire Wolf remains a bit of a mystery, but it doesn’t take much digging to see that this animal which no living human has ever seen still holds a firm grip on our collective consciousness. Pop culture references to the animal in our world abound, perhaps most notable of which is the famed song “Dire Wolf” by The Grateful Dead.

When I look at this particular illustration, a small voice whispers in my ear that this animal must be a representation of that legendary creature. There is an otherworldly knowledge that speaks through the eyes and says, “I am from another time and place- from another world and yet I walked with the same earth beneath my feet as you.” Perhaps its the sheer size of this behemoth wolf that suggests Dire Wolf status, or maybe it’s the simple fact that this wolf seems to be “disappearing” before our very eyes, becoming extinct if you will, and all that is left of this amazing creature is a fading outline of a lupine silhouette. But whatever the reason behind it, the idea that this creature before me truly is a Dire Wolf is a notion that chills me to the bone.

Fare thee well, Dire Wolf. You may not be with us any longer as a physical presence, but your spirit still exists, swirling around us in a cosmic soup of ever changing lupine energy. We’ll never forget you…


Aug 19 2011

#111 “Teen Wolf”

From a stranger in Chattanooga, TN

You just can’t top an outlandish 1980s teen comedy flick. And there’s no better example than the perennial “Teen Wolf.” Overall, I think this illustration serves as a great accompaniment to the film. As you can see, this drawing appears to be inspired by the movie masterpiece, but it is not necessarily “about” the film. We can see the inspiration in the flashiness of the color which simply screams 1980s and the wildness of the strokes with which this drawing is composed. Nothing says 80s indulgence and excess like pop art with unusual and random angles that reach out towards you like lightning bolts.

Just in case you haven’t laid eyes on this piece of cinema gold in a while. You can check out the original trailer below.


Aug 18 2011

#110 “The wolf that should be working”

From Grace in Chattanooga, TN

You may or may not be surprised to hear that a great number of illustrations that find their way to Wolves by Strangers are printed on Post-It Notes. Why the seemingly unusual choice of canvas? Well, simply put, I believe this reflects that many contributors to this project are participating during regular work hours, when Post-It Notes are perhaps the most accessible and convenient canvas.

This wolf in particular supports this theory, for on the back side of the illustration is a note which reads, “The wolf that should be working.” Now, I am not here to take a position on productivity in the work place. Overall, I try to take a balanced perspective, supporting the view that diversions and occasional breaks are necessary for productivity but also that work is a time for just that: work. In the end, I’ll take any wolves I can, whether they were drawn on “company time” or not, and in the end, I must say that I am pleased that so many individuals have chosen participation in Wolves by Strangers as a way to escape the monotony of the work day.

Incidentally, I was inspired by this picture to do a little research on workplace productivity. In doing so, it wasn’t long before I found the picture below on a website called The Campus Socialite. Enjoy!



Aug 17 2011

#109 “Date Wolf”

From a Genevieve in Little Rock, Arkansas

“The Office.”

I have found that this television show is often a point of contention or a dividing factor between friends and associates. In my experience, it seems that most people either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it, and I will not shy away from this admission. I know that with this revelation I run the risk of isolating some members of my faithful WBS audience, but ladies and gentlemen, I cannot deny who I am or what I love.

What is it that draws me to this particular television series? To be honest, I’m not exactly sure. I don’t find the show’s premise to be necessarily believable. Nor do I find the characters to be completely based in reality; certainly the character of Dwight is unbelievable in his quirkiness, and Jim’s innocent Everyman identity is something rarely found in the real world.

So what is it? What has created this undying affinity for this 30 minute diversion from reality? I believe I have narrowed the reasons down to three:

1. “The Office” was one of the first American situational comedies to neglect the use of the laugh track. As a result, the audience is not insulted by producers who attempt to decide what is funny for the viewer. I like to decide what is funny for myself, thank you very much. I’m a pretty smart guy. I can make decisions about what is humorous and what is not on my own, and “The Office” allows me to do this.

2. Even though the personalities of the characters might be extreme and therefore unrealistic, the dynamics of the relationships between the characters is surprisingly believable which anchors the show in a comfortable area of limbo in terms of the necessary suspension of reality. Also, while many of the specific scenarios of the television show are quite outlandish at times, the show does create a balance of believability in terms of workplace realities that most people deal with on a daily basis, and many of the problems, tasks, and situations that are faced by the more secondary characters are very relatable and humorous in that relatability.

3. The show offers humor without a high risk of being offended and without pushing the envelope too far. This simply reflects good writing. While I understand the appeal of television shows that offer entertainment through shock value, I believe that it takes a higher level of intellect and more effort to create humor that is entertaining without insulting members of the viewing audience or taking crack shots at celebrities or institutions such as religion, etc. Simply put, the show doesn’t need to take cheap shots to be funny.

If you have read this entry up to this point and are totally confused as to why I have been talking about “The Office” this entire time, simply examine the picture above and then watch the clip below.


Aug 16 2011

#108 “Name Game”

From Grace in Anchorage, Alaska

The idea of names has always been intriguing to me. I understand why objects have names, of course; everything needs a label with which it may be identified. More specifically, I have always taken an active interest in the meaning of names and whether or not objects or people truly reflect the meaning (or even the feeling) of the name that they possess.

One of my favorite mental pastimes to engage in whenever I read a new book or watch a piece of cinema is to examine the implications of characters’ names. Over the years, a couple of my favorite “tricky” names include Truman from the movie “The Truman Show” (he certainly is the only “true man”) and Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” (Willy definitely is about as “low” of a man as you can get).

Whether we will admit to it or not, we all come to preemptive conclusions about people before we even meet them, and we often do this based solely on the person’s name. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself these questions: As a man, would you rather go on a blind date with Gretchin or Candy? As a woman, would you rather go on a blind date with Milhouse or Jacob?

All of this leads me to the wonderful piece of artwork that is on display today. My first thought when I looked at this illustration was how physically and temperamentally different all of these wolves seemed. I began to speculate which wolves were friendly and which were mean, which were reclusive and which were social, which were refined and which were crude, and so on and so forth. You can see how this logically led me to create names for each one of them, and that is exactly what I did. These names are listed below. But the real question is, can you guess which name I assigned to which wolf?

Take your best shot. Here are the names:

Lo Lo

Butch

Marvin

Arthur

Octavious

Melvin

Canaan

Oh yes, I almost forgot! No discussion of names would be complete without a brief mentioning of the name of this wonderful contributor. Grace, your name certainly serves you well, and I thank you tremendously for your “gracious” contribution to WBS.


Aug 15 2011

#107 “Sloth”

From E.B. in Little Rock, Arkansas

I can easily remember that as a child a movie called “The Goonies” represented everything about the world that I hoped (and believed) to be true.

In the film a group of prepubescent protagonists are faced with a crisis: the home of a young Goonie has being foreclosed. I remember the outrage and disgust I felt as I tried to understand how some unknown entity could have the right to barge in and forcibly take someone’s home. At the same time, though, I longed for an obstacle to overcome in my own life. I desperately searched for a trial to test the mettle of my infantile courage. In short, I wanted a threshold to cross into manhood, just like the Goonies.

As the film unfolds, several members of the Goonie clan are swept into an underground adventure after inadvertently discovering a treasure map and angering a group of wanted criminals. A chase ensues and the race against the clock is under way, and children must find the treasure of the notorious pirate One-Eyed Willie if they are going to save their home; but of course they must do so without being caught and killed by the notorious outlaws.

Overall the plot of the movie is totally outrageous and completely unbelievable, but this is entirely why I had such an affinity for it. I longed for adventure and danger as every young boy does to this day. I prayed that a journey of Indiana Jones proportions would fall into my lap just as it had for the children of “The Goonies.” The booby traps, the dangerous obstacles, the idea of being a part of a tight-nit group that was forced to pull together to prevail over evil, the feeling that you truly belonged to something greater than yourself- It was what I wanted, nay, what I needed in life.

In the end, the adventure never really came, but life has become an adventure all by itself. And if nothing else, this project has been an adventure- a journey of unpredictable twists and turns that has filled the last several months of my life with triumph and heartbreak.

I may never have had the opportunity to run through underground tunnels as booby traps snapped around me and dangerous bandits fired pistols over my head, but I did take something way from the film which was much more meaningful. For as any connoisseur of great film will know, “The Goonies” is not just an adventure tale. It is a story of acceptance and serves as a humbling reminder to accept the differences that we all possess.

Case in point, of course, is the beloved character of Sloth. Oh, Sloth, how you warmed my soul. You taught me these lessons that I will never forget. You taught me that Goonies never say day.

Sloth, I love you.

And with that, my friends, I will leave you with one of the greatest quotes of the 1980s.

“Hey, you guys!”


Aug 14 2011

#106 “Indescribable”

From Jessie (?) in Chattanooga, TN

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, I am sure you are familiar with the fact that I enjoy analyzing and responding to each individual submission that comes my way. I have, however, discovered that sometimes there simply are no words.

With that being said, I can muster only one simple response for Jessie, the demented genius behind this mind-bending masterpiece: thank you. Consider my mind successfully blown. Perhaps someday I’ll have the intellect and creativity to wrap my feeble brain around your otherworldly illustration, but for today, I will leave the analysis of your work in more capable hands. Please don’t take this as neglect; it is just the opposite. I respect your work to much to degrade with an inferior interpretation.

Carry on my creative friend. Carry on.

 


Aug 13 2011

#105 “Lucifer”

From Moonleopard

Ladies and gentlemen, another masterpiece greets our eyes today, but as is often the case with great art, there is an underlying mystery about this picture which constantly nags at me. My mind is plagued with possibilities. Let me present this conundrum before you, my dear friends, and perhaps you may be able to crack this slippery case of Moonleopard and the mysterious Lucifer.

Here’s the conflict: This picture comes to us courtesy of a contributor who calls himself/herself “Moonleopard.” This is an intriguing moniker to say the least, and I am quit taken with it; but what I find truly interesting is the fact that the email in which this picture was included presented the name “Lucifer” in the address. So is this illustration by Moonleopard or by this Lucifer character? Or are Lucifer and Moonleopard one and the same?

But the plot thickens: In the body of the email, Moonleopard claimed that this is an illustration of a close friend who just happens to be a werewolf. Hmmmm… Let’s think about this for a minute. If my knowledge of werewolves serves me well, I have come to know and believe that a person who actually is a werewolf may or may not be aware of his/her specific malady, meaning that someone could (theoretically) be a werewolf and not even know it.

Is it possible that Moonleopard could be a werewolf and the name of Lucifer is refers to that alternate identity in lupine form? Or perhaps Moonleopard is the true werewolf? Or…. maybe we are dealing with a werewolf/wereleopard hybrid? Also, what is the significance of the name “Lucifer”? In case you did not know, Lucifer is one of only three angels actually named in the Bible. The other two are Michael and Gabriel. But of course we know that Lucifer’s story is far different from that of his comrades, for he was cast out of Heaven because of his excessive pride. Is there a connection here? Is this an illustration of a deceased werewolf who has been transformed into a heavenly being?

I simply do not know…

And finally… Could it simply be the case that famed Megadeth frontman is a werewolf? I see the resemblance. Do you?