Thursday, April 27, 2006

I haven't mentioned this website yet which is just plain wrong. I found Cockeyed about a month or so ago, and it's easily one of the best websites I've ever seen. Page after page of goofy science experiments, bizarre construction projects and the famous 'how much is inside?' demonstrations, the stories of which are told by the inimitable (and sharp-witted) Rob Cockerham (a modern-day Richard Feynman). There's over 500 megabytes of extremely entertaining content on the site but amazing I've already read through ALL of it. It's that good. And frankly I stole the whole format for the t-shirt page from it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yesterday I paid $3.11/gallon for gas. I was pissed. There's a lot of talk about using more ethanol as an additive in order to reduce our demand on foreign oil, but I have my doubts about ethanol production's efficiency. I might have to write about that another day.

What I don't understand is why we have so many SUVs. If it's really that big a deal, so big that our government is considering offering billions of dollars in subsidies to ethanol producers so as to produce more fuel, why don't we just minimize the amount of fuel we're currently using? Is the pitiful average mpg of SUVs even remotely defensible?

I did some searching around and found claims that by raising the mpg standard of SUVs to the same level as cars the US would save 1 million barrels of oil per day (we use approximately 20.8 million per day). That would be a significant reduction. I'm never satisfied with general claims, however, so I wanted to do the calculations myself.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find good car-related data on the web. I'm used to finding what I want in a few minutes, but I searched around for about a half hour before finding what I needed, and I still didn't get everything. Here's what I found:

There are 16 million SUVs in America
The average SUV gets 17.8 miles per gallon
There are approximately 19.5 gallons of auto fuel in a barrel of oil

Assuming each SUV drives 12,000 miles in a year, these numbers calculate out to 553.15 million barrels of oil per year for SUV use, or 1.52 million barrels/day. That means to acheive the 1 million barrels per day reduction mentioned above SUV efficiency would have to increase by 66%. The resulting SUV would therefore have to get 52 mpg! That's impossible. According to my calculations (I've always wanted to say that), holding SUVs to the same requirements as cars (27.5 mpg) would result in saving 530,000 barrels of oil per day. That's no small amount, but it's half what many websites (including Senator Feinstein's) claim.

Believe me, I'm not trying to defend SUVs. Increasing their mpg requirements would reduce our dependence on foreign oil (security bonus) and reduce our gas prices (economic bonus). The only downsides would be losses for the automotive industry (who make a killing on SUVs) and a loss of self-esteem for the millions of Americans who need to feel powerful by piloting a large metal object.

I still want to get to the bottom of this number discrepancy. My data was taken from a variety of websites and I'm sure some of the numbers are from different years. If anyone knows of a good site where I can find all the data I need to make more accurate calculations please let me know.

In music news, things are chugging along. The t-shirts are selling fairly well and I've been writing a lot. Not sure yet how many songs will be on the new CD but I'm trying to make it a full-length; it's about time for one of those. You know what, it will be an LP, I'll decide that right now. 12 songs. I promise.

I've also been working on a few more Inquisitions. And yes, the Bishop Allen one is almost done.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Instead of doing nothing I'm going to post the first Inquisition interview. I know I promised that it'd be with Bishop Allen, but they're really busy at the moment and haven't finished the second part of the interview. And since I happen to have a finished interview all ready and waiting to go... well here it is.

An Interview with American Painter Wes Berg over an Afternoon Snack Consisting of Pizza Rolls and Ping Pong:

Hello Wes.


First of all, why do you paint?

I don't really paint as much as I draw, and really I don't necessarily split the two in my thinking. However, if asked why do I make visual art? then I can answer better. I feel that visual art is a completely different language than anything written or spoken, much like music is a different language.

I feel as though I can communicate ideas through visual art that are perhaps too ambiguous or complicated to present through other means. Also, I am a firm believer that through the body/mind connection, a visual artist can connect with something deep within himself/herself. I believe in the expression of a mark and the physical act of making something. Personally, I get a hell of a charge out of creating a new image that may somehow connect with my feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

What do you mean when you say 'I believe in the expression of a mark'? And what kinds of ideas do you try to convey? Are you trying to simply express your emotions on canvas (in a therapeutic way), or are you trying to tell personal stories?

"The expression of the mark" --by this I mean that the act of physically marking a surface with some sort of media is an extension of the artist's mind. There are conscious and subconscious thoughts and movements of the marking tool which I feel combine to create style and image. The ideas I try to convey deal with external and internal struggles. My current work deals with the thought that everything in our world (that which surrounds us) and everything in our mental world is touched, manipulated, and somehow controlled by us. Everywhere in the world essentially has been touched if not raped by human presence. In much the same way our minds are constantly manipulated and touched by outside forces. My recent imagery creates a world comprised of hand and finger elements. Architectural elements and characters are all shown as fingers or some mutation to reference the omnipresent "touch" I've referred to.

What keeps you motivated?

I stay motivated by doing. I get more excitement and energy from the process than the product. In fact, I tend to not care so much about the product once I've created it. I also really enjoy bringing imagery to an audience. I recently did a 2 person installation that transformed an entire gallery into a dark world of vicious and hilarious creatures. Viewers were taken to this world of inner-demons. The response was overwhelmingly positive. So satisfying an "art" audience is rewarding. But as I said, ultimately, I get the most satisfaction out of the making of the art--in the moment and existing in the moment.

Do you have a routine when you paint? If so, what is it?

I don't have a routine when I paint. I don't believe in working everyday regardless, like some writers will say... write everyday no matter what. So I tend to work in feverish spurts.

What goes through your mind when you're not working? As you said, you don't necessarily paint everyday, so does that ever worry you? Do you ever stress about not working?

When I'm not working, I'm carefully examining things around me. It could beconsidered simply as people watching but I tend to take it a step further... like I'll imagine their lives or make up scenarios in my mind about who they are. And recently I've imagined what people look like when they're having sex... and I have to say, once you start doing that it's hard to stop. A lot of my work in the past and even now has dealt with sex. I also enjoy looking for moments of humor. Humor, however dark, definitelyhas its place in my art. It may be snide or ironic or subtle but I definitely want it there. I don't stress about not working. I can always be processing ideas and formulating thoughts. Making art for me is as much mental as it is the physical act of doing. So, I'm still somehow making art when I'm not actually making it... if that makes sense.

Actually, that makes perfect sense.

Do you have a general plan for your work? Like, do you plan on working on a certain subject matter, or do you succumb to the process and let the art create itself, in a sense? Do you ever consciously emphasize your personal style?

I don't have a set plan for my work and style is something I've noticed over the years... as my work has shifted I can still look at old work and say "I definitely did that" The way I use line is my sort of style you could say. I once read "let your style be your surprise" which is the appropriate way to think. I don't think you can just say "I'm going to paint this way". I know an artist who really wants to paint abstractly...but he has been trained as a cartoonist and his talent and excitement really is there and not in abstraction. And you can tell when you look at his abstractions... they are completely forced. The best visual art is honest art; when the artist admits to himself who he is and somehow connects with that and uses his life and experiences as a conduit to express ideas on a worldly scale.

In what areas do you think you need improvement? I'm not just talking about your technical drawing/painting skills, I'm talking about your whole approach.

As far as improvements I need to make... I need to just keep reading, painting, draw draw draw, keep eating, try to sleep, and keep having sex. My imagery, work, monetary support, inspiration, and drive will undulate and shift my whole life. And that's what excites me more than anything because I'll always make art and that art will invariably change into things I can't even predict.

Thanks for your time Wes, your Mountain Dew shipment is on it's way.


I'll have this up on the Inquisition page soon - complete with pictures and such.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Kevin over at mp3hugger just gave me the one of the best damn reviews I've ever received. His blog is really great - lots of regular updates, good writing. I'll forgive the Bright Eyes comparison.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

I just realized that I forgot to put prices on the t-shirt page: They're $9.99 for US and Canada orders and $12.99 for everyone else. Shipping is included. I also noticed that there are a few formatting issues - I'll fix those tonight.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

As promised, the t-shirts are up for sale. And for your diligent patience I offer you a new demo: What the Hell (demo). Both are brought to you by Spaten Optimator.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Tomorrow night, 4/4/06, I will have t-shirts ready for sale on this site. Sorry to those who've been waiting, hopefully the righteous coolness of the shirts will make it all worthwhile.