In Between The Warp And Weft, or, A Sublime Monstrosity

Sculpture by Lee Bontecou. My set for Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere will be heavily inspired by her artwork.

UPDATE: I’m ready to reveal the set model for the upcoming Sacred Fools production of Neverwhere! Click here to see the post revealing the set model.

This past week marked the start of my working in earnest on an upcoming project: the scenic design for the Sacred Fools Theater production of Robert Kauzlaric’s masterful adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, directed by Scott Leggett.

It could seem like a daunting project: there are a couple dozen locations in the play; the set has to represent both the overworld and the underworld. And I have taken inspiration from an artist, Lee Bontecou, whose steel-and-canvas sculptures defy logic and challenge complacency. I can only hope to come close to replicating her art on such a large scale, but I will do my best. My enthusiasm for both Lee and Neil’s creations far outweighs any concerns I have about the challenges ahead.

Lee Bontecou in her Pennsylvania studio, June 2003
Photo by Josh Titus, courtesy UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

After reading the script a few times, and also getting inspiration from Neil’s book and graphic novel, I set about sketching the set. I have included other inspiration, too: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s work on The City of Lost Children inspires so much of my creative work, and I can’t help but include their influence. Here’s the trailer for that film:

I listened to a lot of Sigur Ros and Radiohead while sketching (when the set is complete, if you put your ear up to it and listen very, very closely, you may hear the strains of “Treefingers”). My first pass is a sublime monstrosity, both organic and mechanical, both refined and grotesque. In other words, better than I could have hoped! Continue reading In Between The Warp And Weft, or, A Sublime Monstrosity

“Room For Color” Contest

Sometimes I look at this picture to remember how clean it used to be.

I’m pretty excited: my apartment, featured in a home tour on Apartment Therapy a couple of months ago, was accepted in the Room For Color contest on Apartment Therapy! Please take a moment to click this link and “favorite” my place, I would really appreciate it.

There’s been other exciting news coming out of the original Apartment Therapy shoot (featuring beautiful photography by the talented Shaela Cook), I’m firming up the details and I’ll post more as soon as I can.

Little Curtis, Part 3

Little Curtis, getting up to shenanigans

The loose, rattling knock sounded through the entire three-story farmhouse. For Pete’s sake, thought Betty drying her hands on the dishtowel as she came out of the kitchen to answer it, they’re going to knock that poor screen door right off its hinges! It wouldn’t take much though, she mused: repairing that old rickety screen door had been on Joe’s honey-do list for as long as she could remember. They would likely repair it in time for Little Curtis’ wedding at this rate.

She looked down the hallway at the front door, and tried to make out the figure through the yellowing lace of the window covering. The figure outside was tall and lanky, and bore the slightly stooped silhouette of a life hard-worked, of money hard-earned. She realized with a start that it was her neighbor, Jasper Proctor! She almost didn’t recognize him without the beard he used to sport. Why, he hadn’t come around in…Betty counted the years on her fingers, and when she realized she would need a third hand to properly count the years since old Jasper had trundled over from his cattle farm next door, she gave up. It must have been right after the mill fire that he had last come over. His driveway had been a makeshift fire line for the blaze that had swept the plain, and it still bore the soot deeply: she could always tell which of their long driveways a car was coming down, from the color of the dust it raised. Continue reading Little Curtis, Part 3

Holiday Party Invitation

The deeper I look, the stranger stuff I find. This one’s an old party invitation. No really, this was the only text I included to describe the holiday party I invited friends to. It resulted in some confused guests, tentative RSVPs, and an amazing party. It’s kind of clunky, with some awkward word choices, but I think it would make a fun children’s book…I also keep laughing at how the Mill Fire keeps popping up often in my writing. The stories must all take place in the same universe.


The squirrel padded along the verdant path of needles and leaves. His friend, Hoofy the Clumsy Deer, followed close behind, occasionally tripping on a log or rock protruding from the snow-patched ground.

The squirrel’s name was Carl. “Catch up, Hoofy!” he called over his shoulder. They were already late, and being late made him grouchy. A lot of things made him grouchy since he quit smoking.

“I’m going as fast as I…”, Hoofy’s sentence was cut short by a strangled gasp as he caught his antlers in a low-hanging branch and his gangly legs went flying out from under him. He thrashed for a few seconds, scattering snow everywhere, then went still in defeat, awkwardly suspended from the branch by his antlers. Swaying and bobbing slowly, he sighed. “Um…a little help here?”

Carl snorted through his nose. He considered leaving the young fawn there. Serve him right. Getting caught like that, being careless, when they were already late. Especially today, a few days before Christmas, and on the way to the party! He needed a drink. Continue reading Holiday Party Invitation

Escape Velocity

This is an old piece I just found, dusted off. I don’t know why I’m posting something so melancholy on a morning when I woke up almost giddy. But I like it. Clearly I had read some Douglas Coupland before writing it.

I woke up this morning thinking about you. It was raining hard, the kind of rain that collides with the ground more than falls onto it, the kind that snaps twigs off of the new trees they just planted in Grant Park. I stumbled into the bathroom, stared in the mirror for a second (mornings are when I most look like my father), stumbled back into the bedroom, slept some more. I heard somewhere that sleeping too much means that something’s wrong, that we have all of these built-in triggers in our bodies to alert us to what’s going on inside, but we’ve learned as a species to ignore them. If I forced myself to sleep less, would I get healthier? Could I stop thinking about that call, then?

The phone woke me up around noon, the ringtone pealing into the empty apartment, the screen animated with a cartoon of a dancing phone, furrowed, angry eyebrows on its indeterminately-ethnic face. I hate that face. That cartoon means it isn’t you calling. Continue reading Escape Velocity

This ends badly.