GJ Willis' Art Notes
The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.
I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.
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Saturday, December 31, 2005
I spent New Years Eve as I usually do, alone making a gingerbread house. The small ginger bread house I made will slowly be consumed over the next few days. Anyway, while adding candy decorations to the house I was shocked when Dick Clarks New Years Rockin Eve came on with Dick Clark doing the countdown to 2006. I was not sure if I should laugh or feel sorry for him. He sounded like he had cerebral palsy or something. I know that his odd manner of speaking was due to his recent stroke. However, seeing him on TV made me feel very, very, uncomfortable. I feel he should have waited until his speaking voice was more up to par.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Here's another cute holiday scene I found around town. This one is from someones front lawn. It is a picture of two polar bears. One is cartoon like, the other one is slightly more realistic looking.
I finally voted in DCRTV’s Best/Worst 2005. I was thoroughly surprised when I went to the website to find that website owner Dave Hughes quoted me on the front page!! He used my quote of, “WTMD is the best radio station in the area. This station has introduced me to so many new artists. I am forever in there debt.” Ok, he did not use the entire quote. It was a partial quote . Anyway, it looks like I will have to finally pony up a financial contribution to the website.
But never the less here is my Best/Worst in Baltimore Radio/Media 2005.....
Monday, December 26, 2005
This was a nicely decorated house that I took a picture of. In fact I took quiet a few photos of similiarly themed houses. I will be putting them up throughout the week.
Christmas was great this year. This has to have been one of the best Christmas I have had since my mother was alive. I spent the holiday with my nieces, nephew, grandniece, and father. We even exchanged presents without incident.
Later one of my nieces surmised that the reason that this Christmas was happier than usual was that her mother, my sister was away, and so was my brother. As I have written on many occasions, my brother and sister both have addiction problems. My sister is addicted to drugs. My brother is an alcoholic and occasional drug user.
Overall, I have to say Christmas was nicer without them around begging for money for drugs and/or booze. It was like a real old fashioned care free Christmas day. There was absolutely no fights or threats to call the cops to ruin the holiday vibe. It truly was a Very Merry Christmas!
The above is a photo of my father looking at a present that his great granddaughter just opened.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
My niece and I went out shopping to Security Mall on Friday. We had never seen scene like this before. This picture was taken at about 6:30pm. Apparently, the store was semi closed because they ran out of product and were waiting for a new shipment to arrive. One woman said she had been waiting since 3:30pm for the new shipment to come in. The store by the way was having a 70% off sale. I believe the name of the store was New York and Company.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I spent Christmas Eve at the Owings Mill Mall sequestered in their movie theater. The movie I saw was Capote. Philip Seymour Hoffman rocked! I loved how Hoffman handled the shades of grey in Capotes personality. I felt that Catherine Keener was under whelming in the role of writer Harper Lee. I do not feel that this was any fault of Keeners. Its just that Harper Lee was not known to have a fire cracker of a personality. In real life she was kind of dowdy and retiring. Overall, the movie was good.
For me personally, it seems as though every Christmas eve I find myself in a movie theater fresh from shopping with various newly bought bags of gifts around me. I do not want to stop this personal Christmas Eve tradition I have started. In past years I have seen Lord of The Rings and the Harry Potter movies in this fashion. I dont know. To me nothing says its Christmas Eve, quite like being in a movie theater carrying a dozen packages while trying to balance a soda and a box of popcorn.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
The above is a wintery photograph that I took one day on the way home from work.
I wanted to see Capote at The Charles today. I was there in time for the 7:45pm show. However, when I got in the theatre I noticed that the only show they had up on the schedule was the 10pm show. I can not believe that the newspaper made an error in listing the time that the movie started. Also I found it odd that the theatre would only run Capote at 10pm at night. On second thought I think I should have gone up to the box office and asked questions.....
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I hope that this image of a cute baby in egg nog helps to brighten your holiday season.
You know, I feel its nice and all that the church I go to has a Winter Solstice service. Since I do after all, celebrate Winter Solstice/Yule. However, I swear tonights Winter Solstice service was a direct copy of last years service. I even saw one of the dancers from last years service back again to participate in the same exact dance! It was as though I was trapped in some sort of a weird time warp.
Just to be absolutely sure I am going to hold on to this years program to see if next years program is a direct point by point copy. Then again it is called a Winter Solstice ritual so I suppose that de ja vu comes along with the territory.
One thing I can say is that two things changed personally for me in comparison to last years service. One, I finally got the chance to try non alcoholic wassail. Last year they ran out of it before I could give it a try. Having finally tried the legendary drink of Christmas I can now say that I was not missing much. Wassail tastes suspiciously like apple cider! Also different from last year I did not loose the sprig of holly that I had pinned to my coat. Instead I pinned it to my sweater. In fact I still have it!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Since I am off work a majority of this week it has left me time to reflect. I suppose I should be great full that my fathers only complaint about me is that I take a lot of photographs without people in it. So to remedy that I took a photograph or two of myself complete with costume changes. I am not sure if I will put the above photograph permanently on this blog to replace the digital picture that I did or keep the digital picture up.
I have to say that I am pretty darn proud of that hat I made! I completed it in one day!!! Normally, it would take me several weeks to finish something like that. I have to admit that the instructions that came with the kit were pretty vague. I had to view an online video to understand how to knit with the Knifty Knitter. After everything was figured out I was ready to go.
Next I will see if I can figure out how to knit a pair of mittens. The only instructions that came with the kit were for a hat. I suppose I am the only grown up woman in the world that has a preference for mittens over gloves!! :)
Monday, December 19, 2005
This is an example of the type of photographs I usually take with my digital camera.
This week is the start of my holiday vacation week. I started it off at the doctors office. While there I learned good news. My tumors have not enlarged since my doctor last saw me. With this good news I then hopped on a bus to visit my father. I have not seen him in a while due to all the over time I have been doing at work.
While there I learned that my sister is finally in a drug treatment center. It appears that she does not want to leave it. I also finally got the phone number of one of my nieces. So at last I have a life line to the rest of the family! It also appears that one of my nieces is about to have a baby. So now I will have two grand nieces or one grand niece and a grand nephew. I think she is due to deliver sometime this month.
Aha! There you go Pops!! I finally found a picture that has someone it! However, I have no idea who he is or how he managed to get in the picture. By the way this was taken on an early morning light rail train.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
This morning I went to church. The title of the service was, Our Favorite Things. As expected the choir did sing the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic song from the musical, The Sound of Music. The song, My Favorite Things, is one of my all time favourite Christmas songs. I do not not know how it is that the song has been associated with Christmas. The lyrics in the song make no mention of a holiday.
Anyway, I have three versions of it on my iPod. Since it is the holiday season I recently loaded up my iPod with a lot of Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah music. Ok, I admit on the Hanukkah side I just have Adam Sandler and music two songs (Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel and Lonely Jew on Christmas) off the South Park Mr. Hankeys Christmas Classics cd. The three versions of My Favorite Things that I have on my iPod are Julie Andrews, Barbara Streisand, and Diana Ross. My favourite version out of all of them is the swing jazz sound that Diana Ross gives it on The Motown Christmas album from the late sixties.
THE OSCAR BUZZ MOVIE OF THE WEEK
The movie I saw this evening was Syriana. I wanted to see it not only because of its Oscar buzz but because I have heard a lot of good things about it on NPR. Also I hear that George Clooney is good in it. I understand that he might be a contender for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. A couple of weeks ago I saw Clooney in Good Night, and Good Luck. I have to say that his performance in this movie was much stronger than in Good Bye and Good Luck. Clooney rocks in this movie!! I will be shocked if he garners no acting nomination for this movie.
Overall, the movie was pretty good. Not the best darn movie I ever did see. But overall it was pretty good. Matt Damon was ok in the movie as an economist. I also liked that guy who used to be on Star Trek, Alexander Siddig. He played a prince in the movie. I kept looking at him throughout the film thinking, What the heck is Bashir doing in this movie? Apparently, he was doing a pretty darn good job!
The story of Syriana focuses on the CIA, telling the story of how the spy group lost funding and failed to keep an adequate eye on the Middle East after the Cold War. Specifiacally, agent Robert Baer , upon whose memoir this film is based, is the central figure played by Clooney.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
This week because I was away from the world doing jury duty I thought it would be interesting to comment on a few big events that occurred this week...
I completely missed the majority of the last week of the Howard Stern Show on terrestrial radio. The only day I heard the show in its entirety was on Friday. I suppose it was nice that I had the opportunity to hear the Friday show because it was the very last broadcast of the Howard Stern Show. It was a very nice sendoff, to the last of a dying breed. I swear you could have played a drinking game with the amount of times Stern said, the last of a dying breed during his sendoff speech.
STANLEY TOOKIE WILLIAMS
STEVE, MILES, AND TED
On an up note I was giddy out of mind when I checked my email today and noticed that I got a letter from Miles Montgomery formerly of the old Baltimore Out to Lunch Show currently Seattle radios Mens Room Show. Miles wrote to say that they (Steve ‘The Thrill’ Hill, Ted, and Miles) read my blog for the first time in Seattle on air. Never in a million years would I have expected to hear anything from them. I wonder what entry they read.......
I know not everyone reading this is from Baltimore, so here’s a brief explanation... The Out To Lunch Show was a very popular comedy talk radio show in Baltimore ala the Don and Mike Show. The comedy talk show featured two divorced guys, one black, the other white, and their hapless, dyslexic, chubby sidekick, Ted. Despite leaving Baltimore a year ago they still have a rabid fan base. Their fan run message board is still up and running despite the show it spawned from being no longer in existence.
Anyway, from what I read on DCRTV their former Seattle station KQBZ underwent a format change from talk to country. So now, Steve, Miles, and Ted are doing their Mens Room Show in afternoon drive on Rocker KISW. I imagine they must be doing bits in between Soundgarden and Metallica. Oh, the hell they must be in! I can only pray for the day that they are returned in syndicated form with a full strength comedy talk show or maybe switch over and do their thing on satellite.
P.S. - Sorry, I could not find a photo on the web of Steve, Miles, and Ted together. I could find plenty of Steve alone but none of them all together. So I decided it would be best to just show a picture of a mens room door.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Today, I went in to work hoping that it would help to clear up my mind a little. It did not help much. I still feel bad about the decision I made. I found it very difficult to sleep last night. I also have to admit that I found it difficult to sleep this entire week. Whenever I close my eyes I sometimes see the bloody face of the victim peering back at me from the photographs the prosecutor gave us to look at.
The shooting victim was shot in the head on September 10, 2002 while holding a bottle of gin in his right hand. The shooting appears to have been done allegedly in retaliation for the victim threatening to kill the defendants mother. It should be noted that it was proven that the victim was drunk out of mind at the time of the shooting.
HOLY SHIT!!! I don’t normally curse a lot in real life or blog life but, HOLY SHIT!!!! I just got finished Googling the name of the defendant and after what I pulled up I am not going to mention his name because I want to live! It had never occured to me to Google his name during the trial because I wanted to render a fair and impartial verdict. Maybe all the other jurors that were fast with their Not Guilty verdicts had Googled his name during the trial? There was even one juror who managed to find a way to get out of the trial. The very next day of the trial he did not show up. The reason he gave was that his wife was sick. Maybe he Googled the defendants name and said, “I’m out of here Jack!! See ya! Do not want to be ya!”
Jimminy Crickets!!! One thing I can say is I suspect that the defendant will get off many more times for murder charges, attempted murder, and felony narcotics charges by packing the courtroom audience with his scary, scary, scary, associates. Like I wrote yesterday those were some scary assed mother fuckers sitting in the courtroom audience. As I wrote before I do not normally curse but the only way I can describe those people is as scary assed mother fuckers. If you saw them you would say, “Those are some scary assed mother fuckers!”
Right now I feel angry and upset that his previous arrests for attempted murder never came up during the trial. I kept telling the other jurors that I felt uncomfortable with the defendant because we knew nothing about him. He was like a mystery man that appeared out of thin air. This bothered me greatly. Apparently, everyone has a past, except the defendant. The only thing we knew about him was that he had a police mug shot because it was entered as part of evidence. What he was previously arrested for on two separate dates we never knew. It should be noted that the witnesses during there initial police statements ID’d him from the police mug shots. When they were on the stand there testimony switched to we don’t know nothing about nothing.
Also the one thing that jumped out at me during the trial was that he had NO alibi!!! Absolutely, no one that testified gave him an alibi to NOT place him at the scene of the crime. Apparently, my Spidey scenes were right on target with my initial feelings about him and the case. However, as I’ve written before, I want to live so I have nothing further to write publicly about this case. One thing I can say is that the Baltimore Crime blog is a very interesting read. So right now I do not feel bad about what I did but lucky that I am alive to write this entry in my blog.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Today, was my fourth and final day of jury duty. I had to be in the courthouse by 8:45am. The case wrapped up after the last testimony of the day at 10:15am. The final verdict for me was reached at 3:45pm. Everyone else had reached there unanimous decisions after we went upstairs to deliberate. So thus, I was the last hold out for reaching a verdict because I wanted to be careful to the absolute letter of the law.
It seemed to me that the other jurors had reached there verdicts a little too quickly. It hadn’t occurred to me until at about 3:45pm why they were so fast to reach the verdicts they had in light of all the facts that were presented in the case. In retrospect I could not believe that I was so slow too catch on!!!
My heart is heavy with the horrible yet very necessary decision that I made not out of justice, but fear for my life. The trial I was involved in was a murder trial. Since the trial is over and decided with I can freely write about. I will write a more detailed breakdown about the trial tomorrow or over the weekend.
However, right now my nerves are jangled with the thought that I let a potential murderer go free! I did it because I was afraid of what his associates who faithfully came to the trial for four days in a row with scowls and threatening looks on their faces would do to me, the other jurors, and a very frightened witness if there was a unanimous guilty verdict. That one aforementioned frightened witness freely admitted that after she told the police that the defendant was responsible for the murder she was told that they were trying to kill her. She was the most scared frightened creature you ever did see. Every time a door would open or there would be a loud noise of any kind she would jump. It was obvious to me that they had gotten to her. Her testimony on the witness stand was that she didn’t know nothing about nothing and that what she told the police was a lie. In fact almost all the other witnesses for the prosecution whose original police statements was that the defendant was the culprit also magically switched over to that they knew nothing about nothing. It was obvious to me that they were intimidated and scared for there lives. Heck, if you saw the associates of the defendant you would be scared too! I do not know why it took me so long to catch on to what the others jurors were thinking. Me? I was thinking about following the letter of the law and they were thinking about wanting to live to see Hanukkah or Christmas.
Also I have to admit right now that my nerves are also feeling a bit jangled because I had to walk part the way home in an ice storm. I hate walking on ice. Whenever it is on the ground I tend to take tiny baby steps and clutch on to buildings. I am constantly amazed by people who walk on ice as if it is nothing at all. Me? I am praying every five seconds of the way to God and Goddess. So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, I hate ice and I hate the decision that I made in court today. More news tomorrow .......
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Today, I had jury duty again. I had to be there at 10:30am. One of the jurors did not show up so an alternate had to take his place.
Since they give us an allowance of $15 for doing jury duty I ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant. If I were at work I would normally bring in a lunch. Another reason I decided on eating in a Chinese restaurant instead of a fast food place was that we were dismissed for lunch a little after 12:00pm and had to be back at 2:00pm. So I had two hours to kill. Thus, I had plenty of time to wait for the food to be cooked and served and bask in the ambiance of a real live restaurant.
Afterwards, I went to a drugstore where I bought Spree candy canes for my coworkers. I think I might buy them small boxes of chocolate like I did last year. No one to the best of my knowledge complained about the Whitmans samplers last year. So I suppose that they would not mind receiving them again.
The only dilema I have with this is whether or not I should include the temps. If I include the temps then I would be buying in total about 20 mini boxes of Whitman’s Samplers. I suppose this isn’t so bad because I saw a store where the boxes are just .79 cents instead of .99 cents.
Oh, well that’s all I got until tomorrow! :)
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Today, is my second day of jury duty. The case seems very exciting. I can not give details about the case until it is over.
One thing I can say is that I did not get a chance to eat lunch because we had to be in the courthouse at 1:30pm. However, I bought a fancy dinner with the $15 daily stipend that they pay jurors.
I hope that I will still have a job when the case over. I feel nervous whenever I miss work. I should also say right here that I’m off three days next week. I put in for the three days earlier this year in January. So I had no preconceived idea at the time that I would end up getting jury duty and selected to serve on a case a week before my vacation.
Luckily, where I work December tends to be a slow month. Then again for all I know work might have picked up in my absence.
Every night after I get home I have made it a point to call my supervisor to let her know whether I will be in the next day. I hope that I am not annoying her or that she is drawing up paperwork to hire someone to replace me permanently because I’m out doing jury duty and have three days off next week.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Today, I had jury duty. I thought that it would be like all the other days that I have had jury. Usually, I end up sitting around the courthouse all day doing a whole lot of nothing. The last time I had jury duty I took my sketch book with me. This time I did the same. However, much to my chagrin I got picked to be a juror on an actual case! Thus there are few sketches in my sketchbook. However, I will put up the sketches I made after the case is decided. I can not write about the case until it is over.
One of the perks of being a juror is getting paid $15 a day. During lunch time I went down to the Gallery at Harbor Place to spend some of that cash at a fast food Chinese restaurant. When I got there I was overwhelmed by the sight of men and women wearing blue uniforms. They were everywhere.
It turns out that there was some kind of an Airforce convention or reunion going on. I had never seen the food court at the Gallery that crowded before. When I took my seat I was quickly joined by Airforce officers. All I can recall by their voices and there position at the table was that they were three men. I never looked up at them. I was nervous and wanted to eat and get the hell out of there. I had to be back at the courthouse at 1:45pm. All I can recall is muttering a greeting after they said hello. It was all so extremely awkward. I hope that the convention will be over by tomorrow.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
This Sunday I went to church. The title of todays service was Shalom. I went today because I figured that with a title like Shalom we would be singing a couple of traditional Jewish folk songs. I am not Jewish but I have always had an interest in other cultures and religions. Also today the man with the nervously shaking legs sat by me again. Again I do not know if he is just a nervous person or am I making him nervous? I wonder if it would be polite to just ask him?
Anyway, after the service I went over to Walmart to buy a giftcard for Tyra. Tyra is the person at work that I am the Secret Santa for. It will be much easier to buy a present for her as opposed to the co-worker I had last year who just wrote that she wanted a candle. This of course made me stumped last year as to the type or brand of candle to buy, scented or unscented, etc. All Tyra wrote was that she wanted a giftcard from Walmart. She made things nice and easy and not so mysterious
Also in the movie was Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. I was actually surprised that Witherspoon could handle a serious role. It seems that the majority of roles she plays are in romantic comedies. I would not be surprised if she gets nominated for Best Actress.
One thing I have to admit is that I felt a little afraid to see this movie. I was afraid that it would be packed with redneck types and that a fight would ensue.
Overall, I highly recommend that you see this movie.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I just found out this evening that Richard Pryor died. He was one of my favourite comedians.
When I was kid during the weekends there was this DC college radio station that used to play comedy albums late at night. Me and my older brother Carlos, would stay up and listen to the station. At the time he had insomnia. I do not recall what my excuse was. Anyway, the station would play things like Bob and Ray and the Fireside theatre. I do not recall if the Richard Pryor records they played were edited or not. Most likely, they were not.
Well, thats my Richard Pryor memories. Oh, I also liked his movies too!! I liked him in Stir Crazy and all those Bill Cosby movies.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I have not written a lot in this blog lately because I have been doing a lot of overtime at work. I also have not been able to make it out to a lot of the meetings for the Baltimore Citizens Against State Executions. So naturally, I was taken aback when I learned that Wesley Baker was executed last night. It makes me wonder if I were a little more involved in something that I believe in, the abolition of the state sanctioned homicide aka the death penalty, maybe Welsey Baker would still be alive.....
No, I am not a lawyer, politician or anything like that. I am just a regular everyday citizen who wants to end a barbaric form of so called justice. Some say that the death penalty is there to act as a deterrent against violent crimes. To the best of my knowledge the presence of the death penalty has in no way helped to decrease the murder rate. No murderer or potential murderer has ever said, 'Gee, I do not think I will shoot this person because I will get the death penalty.' Why because, murder occurs during an irrational state of mind. Lets face it the vast majority of violent crimes occur during fits of rage or desperation. These are not states of mind that could be in any way characterized as rational.
Rest in peace Wesley Eugene Baker. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family as well as the family of Jane Frances Tyson.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Today, I went to church. Today, is also in a sense my first anniversary of attending First Church. The first service I attended was for Winterfest and today was Winterfest. The theme of the service was called, Ice Is Nice.
During the service the man who was sitting next to me kept nervously shaking his legs. It made me wonder why he was so nervous? Was I making him nervous? Or was he a naturally nervous person? I do recall previously seeing him during a tour of the church last summer. He was standing behind me and the woman who was conducting the tour thought that the two of us were together.
This is a picture of a bear bought at my church's Winterfest. The bear was bought for only $7 from a little old lady. In my estimation she under priced the bear. Oh, well....
The movie was filled with plenty of action and adventure. With this movie and the prior, Prisoner of Azkabam, I am forever thankful that Chris Columbus will no longer be directing the Harry Potter movies. The movies seem to sparkle more without Columbus at the helm.
I for one can not wait to see how they go about editing down the other 800 or so page books in the series. I know its sad to admit but I still have yet to finish reading, Order of the Phoenix. Overall, I highly recommend the movie.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
After I came back from the laundromat the most scariest thing happened to me. I accidently locked my bathroom door shut with no one inside to open the door. You see I have the type of bathroom door that has one of those knobs where you can click it shut on the knob.
I began to have scary visions of never being able to use my bathroom again. I imagined a life of using gas station rest rooms and frequent clandestine visits to use YMCA showers. My hands were shaking were shaking like a leaf as I tried frantically to figure out a way to open the door. I could not live my life finding places to use the bathroom.
Then I thought back to an incident in my childhood when I accidently locked a bedroom door from the inside out. The bedroom door in that particular situation also had a knob that you could click open or shut on the knob. The solution was crystal clear. All I had to do was loosen the screw on the door with a butter knife like I did as a kid. Surprisingly this worked out well. The only reason I am including this entry is in case I accidently lock my bathroom door again and can not figure out how to reopen it.