Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Artistic Taste as a Grown Geek

Fact: I am a Geek. 

Now, I’m not talking about a post-Geek Chic or ‘“Big Bang Theory” making geeks cool and acceptable’ type of geek. I’m talking about a dyed-in-the-wool, bought Star Wars action figures past the age of eighteen, worked in a comic shop for three years, read “Watchmen” long before it was a movie kind of geek. I’m not exaggerating here either. To this day I can tell you that the first two comic books I ever owned were Uncanny X-Men #326 and X-Men #45, back in 1995. They set in motion a geek love affair that would pretty much take center stage in my life for years to come. At one point I was reading around 150 different comic book titles a month, and yes……there are that many. However, as I got older and adulthood advanced (along with dreaded responsibilities), the geek in me was hidden further and further away.

I’m in my late twenties now, and I’m married, but the geek in me is still there. Admittedly, I’m still drawn to super heroes and all things Star Wars (maybe not I-III so much) and sometimes I still get the itch to hang up a Batman or Star Wars poster on the wall. I just can’t do so and still take myself seriously at this point in my life. I prefer the art on my walls to be a bit classier, and frame suitable.

Somehow, one English artist, illustrator, and animator has managed to find (for me at least) a happy medium. Liam Brazier has created a handful of pieces featuring some very recognizable super heroes and Star Wars characters, but done in such a way that not only do they not scream ‘geek’, but at first glance may not even be recognized for what they are to those familiar with the characters. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised is some not in the loop never even pick out the character images at all.

Liams geometric abstract (mosaic maybe?) take on icon characters such as Batman, Superman, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, a Storm Trooper and others manages to almost hide them within the picture as a whole. The effect sort of creates a puzzle for the eye.

Liams pieces more than meet my standards for class and frame worthiness while still allowing my geek side to play a role in what hangs on my walls, and his 18” x 24” prints are more than reasonably priced. Personally, I intend to add the ‘Dark Lord’, ‘Bounty Hunter’, and ‘Trooper’ pieces to my collection as a sort of ‘Empire’ triptych, as well as ‘Cave Man’ as a standalone piece. The rest of Liam Braziers prints can be viewed and purchased at

P.S.: Forgive me if any of my art terminology is off. I am not an art expert, and most of what I do know (or think I know) about art is self taught. Please feel free to correct me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Swiss Simplicity

I firmly believe every man should carry a pocket knife on him (where allowed by law), and for a good number of years, I owned a Victorinox Pioneer ALOX Swiss Army Knife. I kept it on a carabiner attached to my key-chain, so it went everywhere I did. It featured a stainless steel 3” blade, two can openers with two flat-head screwdrivers, and a reamer.

I loved that knife, but at some point I lost it (likely during a move). It wasn’t until after I noticed it was missing that I became aware of my almost nostalgic attachment to it. I can still recall the weight of it hanging from my belt loop and exactly how it felt in my hand. One edge of the textured aluminum scales was worn smooth from where it would rub against anything and everything I sat on, and the tip of the blade was actually chipped from where an ex-girlfriend had used it to scratch her name on the guard rail of a bridge (not my idea).

That same nostalgia is what recently prompted me to want to replace it but, in the time since I bought the original, my life and needs have changed a bit and upon reflection I realized I didn’t have any need for any of the tools besides the blade itself. In the years that I owned the Pioneer, I may have used the screwdriver and can opener one time each, if that. Personally, I never used the reamer for anything other than cleaning under my nails (at the time I didn't even know what a reamer was for), though I believe it may have been used by a buddy of mine to slash someone’s tires at one point (again, not my idea). I also no longer have a need to carry keys, so I didn’t care if the replacement was lacking the key ring attachment. 

The call to find a replacement was too great to ignore, and after a bit of shopping I quickly discovered that Victorinox makes a single bladed version of the Pioneer.

Beautiful in its simplicity, it’s the same length as the original Pioneer. It is a bit thinner due to the absence of the extra tools, and it fits perfectly in the coin pocket of a pair of jeans. 

I think it also gains a more mature feel and a classier look than the original without the tools. Hopefully I’ll manage to have it longer than the original, as I would love to be able to pass it down to a son at some point. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Consideration on Camouflage

Camo has been making the move out of the woods and military operations as of late. No longer the sign of redneck hunters or militia wannabes, its been popping up in alot of normal wardrobes and lines, with the frequent combination of camo pants and a blazer. Over the past year or so both Gitman Brothers and Hamilton Shirt Co. have (or will) release a camo dress shirt, and both Epaulet and Mark McNairy have released camo pants, with the latter of the two also releasing a camo accented wingtip. Personally, I feel the addition of camo into ones closet works best with pants.

I’ve been going back and forth over these double sided digital camo Rivet Chinos from Epaulet for some time now. Woodland camo on the outside, and desert camo on the inside, Epaulet describes the fit as being, 'a classic slim-straight fit that's not "skinny" [with] a medium-low rise and a small leg opening.' They have a button fly, which I always prefer over a zipper, and other nice details include a tapped rear seam, hickory-stripe cotton twill pockets, and a hidden coin pocket. Also take note of the herringbone twill running the full length of each leg, giving the outside seam a nice clean finish. On one hand, I already have a number of great pairings in mind, and I think they could add a nice touch of the unexpected to my “work-wear” heavy (and proud of it) wardrobe. On the other hand, as a civilian living on an American military base I tend to shy away from camo of any sorts to avoid any posturing. Either way, by the time I get around to making up my mind and figuring out my sizing, they probably won’t be available anymore.

Not to talk apples and oranges in the form of cargos and chinos here, and I’m not sure whether these were out before the various Mark McNairy camo pants (nor can I argue or compare the quality of two), but at $80-100 less these are a much more budget-friendly alternative than the McNairys.

I think the double sided camo of the Epaulet Chinos is an interesting detail over the McNairy offerings that will look great with a small cuff or roll, and I’m not quite ready to adopt the resurgence of side-pocket cargo pants yet, slimmer fit or not, so personally these definitely win out over the McNairy options when it comes to adding any camo to my wardrobe.

Made in the good ol' U.S.A. by the way.