Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I’m dead. You’re a grandmother, Mama! Wally’s dead, too. His appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it - don’t you remember? But, just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s really look at one another! … I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look.
Good-bye, Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners… Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking… and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?” —Our Town, 1938.
If you’re like me, you’ve gotten really tired of the same old facial expressions over and over again. It’s 2013, and I find it hard to believe that we still rely on the same social cues that people employed 50,000 years ago. Take the smile, for instance — I understand that it’s pretty much involuntary, but with a little work, we can change some details about smiles to really kick them into high gear for the 21st century.
First let’s look at the old 2012 smile.
Nothing special here. Soft eyes, broad grin. Certainly it has a lot going for it — it’s no wonder it’s been used for this long. But it’s become a cliche. It’s not a challenging smile. It’s not a smile that pushes any boundaries. Frankly, we only have one life, and one face to smile with. We’re missing a huge opportunity on a daily basis to do something special with it.
The 2012 smile doesn’t create much engagement, and I think that’s because it’s so commonplace — it’s very mild, unassuming. This is a smile that’s stared back at you from a million family photos. Notice the lack of tension in the lip: tension isn’t needed for a natural smile, but the musculature of the mouth is so precise and so complex. Why waste it like this?
Here’s my solution.
Look at the sudden brightness, the clarity in the eye. There’s an exactingness to it that really captures the viewer. It’s not about changing the opening of the eyelids, either — flexing the small muscles in the orbit completely redefine the appearance.
There’s a lot more going on in the lip area. That plain, soft smirk needed a major overhaul. Here you can now see a hint of tooth — not necessarily aggression but presence. This also changes the lip action from comfortable complacence to laser focus. We’re moving well out of the revisiting of 1970s fashion and its soft organic curves, and are now into the modern hard lines of the 1980s. This should be reflected on the face and mouth.
The result is a sharper, bolder smile for 2013. It takes a little work (even I forget to do it sometimes!), but the extra attention is well worth it.
Over at Broodhollow on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ve been entries from a dream journal I’ve kept for about ten years. They are actual dreams I’ve had, and have not been cleaned up to fit an after-the-fact narrative. I was very pleased with this one when I had it!
The dream begins at what seems like the end of a movie. A college dean wearing a gray suit races around the panicked campus of his university while total pandemonium rages around him. Crowds flee and scream in mass confusion, the ground shakes, brickwork shifts and falls loose from lecture hall facades.
Ornate metal trees made of bronze and silver, the size of oaks, suddenly grow out of the ground in a matter of seconds. Buildings become formless, like amoeba. The dean makes his way to a podium with a microphone to try and calm the crowd. It looks as if a graduation has been interrupted by this hysteria.
Before he can say much, two huge black leather shoes many times bigger than him unearth themselves beneath him — soles up — and the dean is thrown to the ground. The shoes weren’t just shoes, but feet in shoes, clad in dress socks. As ankles and calves rise from the dirt, like a man flung feet-first from reverse quicksand, the hems of a gray pair of pants appear. They are duplicates of his pants, his shoes, his legs.
They disappear just as quickly. The shaken dean scrambles to his feet and again approaches the microphone to shout:
“The university is alive. It’s tired of being a place of learning. It wants to learn.”
This was an art and design college that somehow had developed an intelligence, and the power to manipulate reality, and the desire to experiment with it. In this way it can draw, and sculpt, and create. It does not mean to do harm, but it isn’t human and doesn’t share our morals, our ethics, our worldview. It can’t.
The dean shouts into the microphone again. “It only wants to make art!”
The chancellor of the school, a hunched, frail old man, hobbles up to the stage to take the microphone. But before he can, a translucent block of some kind encases him completely. For an instant he can’t move or breathe — then the block subtly reconfigures itself internally with him inside, completely scrambling and destroying the old man’s body.
In a single liquid stroke, what was once the old man now took the form of a very featureless, mannequin-like seated nude. The university did not simply strip the old man and place him in a seated position. It liquified him, and used the components to make a three-dimensional extrapolation of a painting. The “linework” that made up this three-dimensional “drawing” was actually composed of thin lines of blood, latticed into place within that clear plastic cube. As the ground shook, the blood shifted gently inside that framework of lines.
what’s going on guys?
if your feelings about a fictional character upset you so much that they are affecting your real life and your relationships with actual people, the problem is you. sorry.