Thursday, May 24, 2012

MOBICON XV – Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Anime

Mobicon is a science fiction, fantasy, horror, and anime convention held in Mobile Alabama annually.  This year it was held May 18-20, 2012 at the Asbury Hotel off of Airport Blv.  Attendance was up this year and there were lots of costumers and the game room was full.  They had belly dancers, cosplay, authors (Christopher Rice for one), an art room, and discussion panels. The costume contest had a bumper crop of participants and attendees. 

I really liked the energy this year at Mobicon.  You can feel the crackle of that fannish excitement the moment you walk into a convention.  Some have it and other don’t.  When you see a high proportion of attendees participating by costuming, you know you have a concentration of fannish energy.  I only attended Saturday, this time around and apparently from the photographs, that costuming energy was there on Friday too.  Sundays of course, are a bit more mellow.

I made this video for the enjoyment of fans who attended and for those who could not make it this time.  This video was compiled from the contributions of three photographers who attended Mobicon: Megan Ariel Mobley, Michael W. Moses, and Jason Putnoky. 

My thanks go out to all the fans and hard working staff that made Mobicon possible.  I’m still sorry at the loss of Wayne Hergenroder, a great driving force with Mobicon and the loss of Debbora Wiles, psychic and author (not Deborah Wiles, the children’s book author).

Here is an old Mobicon XI video I did a few years back, for those of you who missed it.

Here is the Nerdy Girl Anthem video.  It has some photos from previous Mobicons as well as CoastCon and OmegaCon

There is also a Studio 10 interview for Mobicon XIV at this link: .

Attending Mobicon XV with The Mysterious Pussy the Cat

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kris Kuksi – Neo-Baroque Post-Postmodern Sculptor and Artist

The only evil you will see here is the historic evil of man and his creations.

Taking lessons from Pieter Bruegel the Elder and the overall Baroque and Rococco Eras, yet following his own path, Kris Kuksi’s new spin on “less is more” into “more is more” setting the Old World on it’s collective ear.  His iconic post-apocalypse look at modern times is set through the lens of the past using classical and western pop culture figures in a symbolist style that makes the monumental works of Gustave Moreau look austere.

I saw a few of his works several years back on the web and was highly impressed, but at the time the web just didn’t have a large selection of his art available.  The other day, while I was doing research on the kris (kreis), the wavy bladed daggers of Indonesia and Malaysia, his works began showing up in a Google images search because of name similarity.  Well, I found that there were a lot of Kris Kuksi images and the kris research got shelved while I enjoyed the decadent art sculpture of this genius.

I spent quite a while perusing his works and enjoying the infinite detail of the vignettes, so filled with baroque whimsy and grotesqueries lurking within his symbolist work.  His sculptures work on many levels – macro and micro.  Each scene correlates to another scene, which is a substratum of the overall thesis with absolutely no hint of hip irony that mars and so often passes as authentic critique.  The viewer is challenged to decide if humanity can change and learn from its mistakes or doomed forever to folly.

The utter richness of enunciation and depth of correlative symbolism in space and time references, leaves me speechless on the cunningness, artistry and the just plain artisanship of the works of this allegorical polyglot.  Interesting enough, I sense a hint of gentleness and naivete in all the grandeur, that keeps the works human.  Yes, this sounds rather gushy and it is.  I could get cliche too and say it is post postmodernism expressionism, but I'll leave that to the academics.

For me, I have an immediate visceral connection when I see his art.  You need not know western history, art history or have any kind of art background to enjoy his evocative works, but it helps.  I like to think of each figure or grouping like a haiku, grouped together in a book, like Matsuo Basho's works -- each poem standing alone, but forming a whole structure. 

I suggest to those interested to go to his website to see more images of his works and also consider his book, Divination and Delusion, ISBN:  978-0-9803231-3-9, which has 140 color pages of decadent enjoyment.  I had to work pretty hard to narrow down the images I wanted to use in this blog entry since space is limited. You really need to see more of his stuff.

For more images, a bio, and other information I recommend his website:

Another website that features many of his works:

  Ill on a journey; 
        My dreams wander
             Over a withered moor.

UPDATE:  24 May, 2012 -- I just found this YouTube video about Kris Kuksi.called Jushua Liner Gallery present Kris Kuksi's Imminent Utopia from 2008:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Brief History of Trench Coats

From Macintosh to Burberry:  adventures, private eyes, military officers, and the fashionable trench coat.

The trench coat, in its present configuration, has been around for a just over a century now and they continue to be both fashionable and functional.  A trench coat is a medium weight single or double-breasted belted coat that is knee length or slightly longer.  They can be made of gabardine or of closely woven cotton and even leather.  Trench coats can also have a removable liner to make them lighter for milder weather.  Generally they function as a lightweight greatcoat and have the added benefit of being rain proof as well as a windbreaker for brisker weather.  They usually come in a variety of colors, although lighter colors are predominating, such as cream or fawn.

 Trench coats evolved from a need for a much lighter weight greatcoat that was also weatherproof.  The military in particular embraced the concept, although early on it was a private purchase item.  The civilian coat was militarized into the form we know now with epaulets and equipment d rings just before the First World War.  In fact, the term trench coat was coined in the First World War by troops, as it wasn’t military nomenclature to describe the handy coat.  By this time many European powers and the U.S. adopted the trench coat I the form we know.

The beginning of trench coat saga begins with Aquascutum in the 1850s, claiming to have come up with the clothing item, although their coat wasn’t quite the trench coat we have come to know.  It wasn’t until the invention of gabardine a hundred years ago by Burberry, that the coats became the lightweight accessory we now know and love.  Previously, there were coats treated with rubber and other waterproofing along with having a tight weave fabric.  The new gabardine coats pretty much replaced the oilcloth dusters and rubberized raincoats of the 19th century.

Although the British military had made the trench coat an acceptable military item as early as 1901, it was still private purchase.  When World War One began, trench coats were in high demand.  Even America caught trench coat mania and stocks disappeared as fast as they could be made and shipped.  Arising out of the horrors of the trenches, the trench coat became an acceptable item for everyday civilian wear, even to this day.  Dealers in outdoor and adventure equipment such as Harrods and Abercrombie and Fitch (founded 1892) carried trench coats along with other adventure gear.


Wearing a trench coat meant that you might have military experience or was prepared for every eventuality from foul weather to foul deeds.  The pulp writers picked up on trench coat mania and ground out endless stories of trench coast clad private eyes and adventurers.   

Even Tintin, the HergĂ© comic book hero, often wears a trench coat.  Film also celebrated the trench coat and it’s no nonsense image, by having both heroes and villains wearing them along with snap-brim fedoras.  Trench coats could also mean menace and not only with P.I.s but spies as well.  An aura of mystery and danger surrounded the trench coat.  Consider that the popular cartoon character Carmen Sandiego sports a trench coat and matching fedora as a modern illustration of danger in a trench coat and intrigue.

For you H. P. Lovecraft fans, Burberry gabardine clothing was worn by polar explorers including Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica.  George Mallory wore a gabardine jacket on his attempt on Mount Everest in 1924.  I can only imagine that Miskatonic Antarctic Expedition would be using the same garb in their trek to the Mountains of Madness.  
Image and patch by Propnomicon

Updates:  see the post on fedora hats, 2 July 2012

See post about slouch hats, 28 April 2014,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dragon Sculpture BBQ Grill

Not for the faint of heart or the faint of pocketbook


Here is a bit of heavy metal for you backyard warriors.  It’s a steel sculpture BBQ grill by master metal fabricator and artist Ed McBride.  Rather than running on dragon’s breath, this creature belches flaming propane to cook his goods.  Hank Hill would be so proud.  His works are crafted from steel segments welded together and set on it’s own medieval dolly.  I don’t have any estimates on weight, but both size and mass preclude putting it in your car’s trunk.

So far, Ed McBride has made three of these ingenious devices, but they aren’t cheap.  The first was shown at the 33rd Annual Hunter’s Convention put on by Safari Club International in 2005.  The functional and original dragon cooker sold for $65,000.

The second dragon BBQ cooker is nine feet tall and was ten feet wide (wingspan).  Not content with one dragon, it had a second smaller dragon breathing fire between the feet of the big one.  The little fellow heats a dutch oven for beans and the like. The asking price for this behemoth is $90,000 but it does have stage presence (top picture).

The most recent dragon BBQ is a bit smaller and is only six feet tall and wide, which makes it perfect for your backyard cookout. It was completed in 2009 and the list price is $40,000 (left)

Welding metal monsters is not all McBride does.  He also paints, sculpts, and produces other works like his nature-inspired steel saw art artifacts.  Hopefully he will also make some H. P.Lovecraft inspired Cthulhu works as well.

Please take time out and visit his website.  As for me, I’m hoping to win the lottery and replace my ho hum grill with something more interesting.   Below is my humble portable grill, purchased last week at a discount house.  Behind, you’ll notice Jack, my pet velociraptor who is clearly ready to start a cookout.
Jacks Grill 3