Goodbye, John Hurt

John Hurt died today. He was 77 years old. He starred in the 5oth anniversary episode of Doctor Who. He was fantastic. He also appeared in several movies including The Elephant Man, Harry Potter, and Alien.

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Recent drawing

Here’s a colored pencil drawing of the Doctor (the Peter Capaldi version) fighting with an alien monster.

(I’m not trying to sell it. Just displaying it. I’m still unsure about the idea of selling fan art.)

John Hurt

John Hurt

I never really intended for this blog to be a drawing-in-every-post type of thing, but it kind of evolved into that — at least for the time being. I want to get back to writing humorous essays about life and other observational stuff. I love writing that kind of thing.

Anyway, here’s another drawing from the Moleskine sketchbook. I did this one early in the morning/late last night. (Which is why my brain is a little bit foggy right now. I hope this post makes sense.) This is a picture of John Hurt, who played the Forgotten Doctor in the new 50th anniversary episode of “Doctor Who.” I was eager to draw his face because there’s so much fun to be had with it. There’s so much character in it. I like the little droopy eyes and the crazy hair and the mustache/goatee that looks like Spanish moss. I had a blast drawing it.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.

(You can click here to download my new novel, Citizens of Purgatory.)

Thanks for the lousy Christmas present, Matt Smith

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If you’re not a fan of Doctor Who, this post probably won’t mean anything to you at all. I won’t hold it against you one bit if you don’t read it.

I just learned that Matt Smith will leave the show in this year’s Christmas episode. My heart sank as I read the news earlier today. I didn’t really like him when he started playing The Doctor in 2010. I thought he was a very talented actor, but I didn’t feel like I was watching Doctor Who. I felt like I had accidentally stumbled across a wacky sitcom designed to pay homage to Doctor Who. Somehow, the tone was just wrong. It was too silly, too slapstick. Even the Tardis interior looked like a fun house. Rory, Amy, and River Song were wonderful characters, but I didn’t feel like they belonged in the same universe as Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, and Martha Jones. (This is just my opinion and it doesn’t really mean much. I know I’m just one of ten thousand people on the internet, rambling and over-analyzing this silly old TV show.)

But I finally accepted Matt Smith as The Doctor after watching The Snowmen this past Christmas. I loved the scene when Clara boldly followed him into the Tardis … and then he turned back very slowly and grinned at her as she looked around, speechless and awestruck. At that moment, something clicked. Matt Smith really did come across as an ancient, mysterious, brilliant, lonely Time Lord. I also loved Hide and Journey to the Centre of the Tardis. I could write 50,000 words about Hide, but I’ll be kind and spare you. (By the way, I’m not saying I hated all the previous episodes. The Doctor’s Wife, written by Neil Gaiman, was a classic. And the cinematography in that episode was some of the most dazzling stuff I’ve ever seen.)

As I was saying, Matt Smith is leaving and I’m disappointed. I ride this same, miserable roller coaster every time the character regenerates. It’s just part of being a Doctor Who fan, I guess. A new actor steps in … and it takes a year or two for me to get comfortable with him playing the role … and then I really begin to like him … and then he steps out … and the whole aggravating process begins all over again.

I still remember the first time I ever saw The Doctor regenerate. I was about ten years old, sitting on the carpet in front of the TV with my face too close to the screen, watching the show on Channel 8, the PBS station in Georgia. The episode was called The Caves of Androzani. At the end, Peter Davison collapsed onto the floor of the Tardis … and wild, psychedelic designs swarmed around his face. Then he transformed into Colin Baker — a posh, dignified man with curly hair. He abruptly sat up and started talking about change.

The next morning, in Sunday School, I asked my friend Joel if he had seen it. Joel nodded emphatically and said, “Yeah! He regenerated!” Joel was much more knowledgeable about Doctor Who than I was. He often explained these concepts to me, telling me all about Daleks and Cybermen and so forth.

Anyway, it’s about to happen again soon. The fiftieth anniversary episode will air on November 23 and then, unfortunately, Matt Smith will appear as The Doctor for the last time on Christmas.

What a lousy present.

 

Click here to download a copy of my novel, Under the Electric Sun.

Yard sale treasures

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Here are some more pictures I’ve drawn in my new Moleskine sketchbook. The top one is Matt Smith, the star of Doctor Who. I told my friend Jill I wasn’t going to post it, but I changed my mind. The other picture is my blogger friend Sophie Bowns. I put a lot more time and energy into the Sophie picture. The Matt Smith picture was just a spasm of silliness.

This afternoon, as I was walking out of the bank, I noticed there was a yard sale going on at my church — which is a stone’s throw away from the bank. (If you really want to get technical, it wasn’t a yard sale. It was actually a parking lot sale. But never mind that.) I shuffled over to the church parking lot, where my pastor and his wife had arranged clothes, coffee mugs, DVDs, and several other knickknacks on tables under a canopy. The first thing I saw was a purple coffee mug, situated at the very front of the pile, with the words “Ich liebe dich” printed on it. (That means “I love you” in German.) There was also a picture of a German cartoon character called Diddle Mouse on the mug. I thought this was amazing because I bought a Diddle Mouse doll when I was in Germany fifteen years ago. (For my little sister, not for myself. I want to clarify that.) I was just wondering the other day if Diddle Mouse was still around. And there he was, on a table in the church parking lot, a LONG way from home. So I snatched up the coffee mug.

I also bought a movie called Murder on Flight 502, starring Farrah Fawcett and Sonny Bono. It looked exactly like the kind of thing nobody in their right mind would ever want to watch, so I’m sure I’ll love it. Judging by the picture on the front of the DVD case, it looks very melodramatic … and very 70s. I might write a review of it later.

Late night sketching

My headache went away, so I grabbed a piece of paper and started drawing again. This is a sketch of Myla Laurel. She’s an amazing photographer/blogger who lives in Dubai. This is only a work in progress. I’m going to wait and see what my friend Emma says before I really, truly, officially declare the picture “finished.”

I’m thinking about adding the silhouette of a palm tree in the background, on the right side of the composition, since Myla lives in an exotic part of the world. Not sure yet. I also want to draw my friends Ananya and G.E. Gallas, but I probably need to take a break from all this and sit still for a little while. I need to recharge. I love to draw, but there’s something extremely unhealthy (and draining) about finishing one picture and then staying up all night doing another. I’ve watched the same “Doctor Who” episode about four times tonight. It’s the one I mentioned earlier, with the Russian submarine and the ice warrior. It’s a good one, but it’s getting old.

It’s time to get some sleep now.

(PS – my novel, Under the Electric Sun, is available on Kindle. You can click here to download it.)

A work in progress — Elena Levon portrait attempt

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I’ve spent most of the evening working on this portrait, but I think I’ll probably just scrap it and start over again. In a way I like it, but in a way I loathe it. This is supposed to be a picture of Elena Levon, a Russian model I discovered here on WordPress. (She was kind enough to click “like” on one of my older posts. When I went to her page and saw her, I immediately wanted to draw her.)

Oh well. I need to turn my brain off and relax for the rest of the night. There’s a voice in my head, a cruel voice that never shuts up, telling me I have to be productive in one way or another ALL the time. Even today, on the third day of my three-day Easter weekend, I’ve stressed myself out with this portrait. I need to let myself rest.

So I’m going to retire to the couch now and watch “The Bells of Saint John” again. (That’s the latest episode of Doctor Who.) Here’s a question to Doctor Who fans: did they change the Tardis set since the Christmas episode? In “The Snowmen,” it seems like there was a stairway in front of the door, leading down to the console. And now it’s not there. Or maybe it’s all in my head…

One of the best scenes in “Doctor Who”

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I’m going to share a clip from my favorite TV show with you. Before I do, I need to give you some background. “Doctor Who” is a British science fiction series that began in 1963 and ended in 1989. It was known for its low budget and cheesy special effects. I fell in love with the show when I was very young and watched re-runs of it every Saturday night on Georgia Public Television throughout my childhood. I’ve never outgrown it. In 2005, the program came back with a bigger budget and high-quality special effects. I’m not ashamed to tell people I’m a fan anymore.

The program is about a mysterious old alien, known only as The Doctor, who travels through time and space in a ship that’s much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. (It looks a little bit like a phone booth on the outside — but “Doctor Who” was around long before “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”) Everywhere he goes, The Doctor saves planets and rights wrongs. He always has one or two traveling companions with him, and they’re usually from Earth.

Over the years, several actors have played the character. The second one, Patrick Troughton, is one of my favorites. This is a scene from an episode called “The Tomb of the Cybermen,” made in 1967. The Doctor is having a tender conversation with Victoria, played by Deborah Watling, who just began traveling with him in the previous episode. Victoria is dealing with the loss of her father.

People can snicker at the cardboard sets and the cheap special effects as much as they want, but the writing and the acting are beautiful here…