The Misantrope

It’s a bit late, but here’s The Misanthrope, the piece of mine that was featured in my kinda-sorta-recent gallery show, Shhh!, which was hosted by the Pasadena Public Library, Hastings Branch last September. My first physical collage piece in quite a while, and the first one created as my “serious” art. Looking forward to creating more works in this medium.

The Misanthrope

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Upcoming Show – Shhh!

This coming Sunday—September the 9th—through the end of the month, I am going to have a piece featured in the gallery show Shhh! hosted by the Pasadena Public Library. It’s going to be huge, interconnected, museum-style show featuring work by over thirty different artists and I’m really excited to be participating in it. The show opens Sunday the 9th and continues through the end of the month, so if you’re in the Los Angeles area you should check it out.

The original press release is below.

Woody copy-email

Woody O’ Toole  Untitled   44”x 16”x10

September 9-September 30, 2018
Opening September 9th, 1:30-4:30 PM
All of our political, social and cultural institutions are under pressure to change, to be replaced, or to disappear. Libraries are no exception. Budgets are being cut. Hi-tech corporations would like to privatize them. Hard cover books are slowly but surely being replaced with ebooks.
Librarians, once the secular high priests and priestesses who treated books as sacred, have been demoted and forced to throw books in their dumpsters.
For the month of September on display at the Pasadena Hastings Branch Library, the JJU collective has curated over 30 artists, some internationally known, who will explore the consequences of books as being obsolete, reduced to base material, no different than clay. What does it mean for our culture that what was once taboo is now commonplace? What does it mean if the library is the last public space not dominated by commercial exchange?
What does this mean for democracy if there is no longer an informed citizenry?
What does it mean for critical thinking? Will people cease to know their own history?
What does it mean for the creation and evaluation of new ideas and knowledge production?
As well, what does it mean for aesthetic evaluation uninfluenced by the biases solely of the commercial market place?
What will the library look like when there are no books? What will it be for? What taboos and sense of the sacred will replace it, if any?
Will the individual have anything to say about their own subject formation, the formation of their individuality or the formation of their own consciousness?
Andrew Huffstutler
Anthony Koerner
Ben Echeverria
Brian Dario
Christian Tedeschi
Caroline Zorthian
Derrick L Harlan
Dexter Hardwic
Dylan Huig
Erika Ostrander
Guthrie Devine
John Scott
Kevin Andrew Collins
Laura Wilde
Matthew Hormann
Mauro Martinez
Merrill Feitell
Michelle Garduño
Molly Tierney
Nilay Lawson
Nina R Salerno
Noėl Young
Pam Adams
Patrica Woodlin
Rael Callaci
Raina Janke
Ramiro Hernandez
Rebecca Fox
Renée Lotenero
Susannah Mills
Victoria Martin
Violetta Zein
Willis Stork
Windie Boehmer
Woody O’ Toole
Pasadena Hastings Branch Library


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Chronicles of Cecil B. DeMille

Recently an interesting item crossed my virtual desk that I thought might be of interest to those of you who’ve been following the deMille Saga. A friend who’d previously heard me talking—well, let’s be honest here—geeking out about the Lost City and my various expeditions to try and find it shot me an email about an upcoming (now downgoing) film premier that would be taking place at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The name of the film? The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille.


The venue was, of course, perfect for the film, being both an iconic part of Hollywood history and shaped like an ancient Egyptian temple, much like the Lost City itself. The film was an independent documentary about a group of interested amateurs (so, people rather like myself, I suppose) and their quest to locate the Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille, uncover the story behind it, mount an official archeological expedition to the site, and make a documentary about it (yay self-referential storytelling), a quest that spanned nearly three decades. A saga in of itself, probably—nay sir, definitely moreso than my own.

One of the things that immediately struck out to me is that their adventure carried a very similar underlying theme to my own, that is, that anything that could possibly stand in the way of their goal, no matter how oblique, somehow found a way to do so. Weather, bureaucracy, corporate regime changes, stuff I would never even think of, perfectly timed to completely throw a wrench in the gears your expedition. I still maintain that I do not believe in curses, but that’s pretty spooky, right?

Jokes aside, the film is both sweeping in scale and distinctly human in tone, juxtaposing the search for the Lost City with the behind-the-scenes story of the filming of The Ten Commandments (a history nearly as epic as the film itself).

The film also forced me to rethink exactly what it was I was looking for. Not a crumbling but nonetheless solid ruin which had been abandoned and subsequently swallowed up by the pseudo-desert, but a hollow façade that had been pushed over and deliberately buried to keep it from falling into the hands of a rival studio. If anything, my best shot of actually seeing the Lost City is the Oso Flaco Dunes Center, where the face of one of the sphinxes and several other artifacts uncovered by the expedition are on display, not at the actual site itself. Not that I’m going to stop trying to get there, of course. If the film taught me anything, it’s that perseverance pays off.

For those interested in seeing it (and you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t) the film will not be receiving a full theatrical release, but is available for streaming on Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

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New Years Resolutions

2016 is finally over (good riddance), and today is January 1st, the first day of a brand new year. In the spirit of the occasion, I thought I’d share with you some resolutions I’d made for things I hope to improve on in the year ahead.

  1. I will not attempt to beat traffic by tailgating emergency response vehicles.
  2. Driving ranges and shooting ranges are not functionally interchangeable.
  3. There are inherent limits to the freedom granted by the phrase “dress code optional”, and I would be wise to keep this in mind.
  4. I will not use the power of positive thinking for evil.
  5. My phone bill does not exist in a simultaneous superimposed state of “paid” and “overdue” until I open the envelope and observe its contents, quantum mechanics be damned.
  6. I will not try to patent any invention that’s more than a decade older than I am.
  7. I cannot get diplomatic immunity simply by being exceptionally polite.
  8. I will not sing along to the music in the elevator. Especially if I don’t know the words.
  9. I will not bury time capsules with contents specifically selected to mislead or confuse future archeologists, and I will definitely not bury them on someone else’s property.
  10. Drive-through operators at fast food restaurants are neither qualified nor inclined to absolve me of my sins.
  11. Saying “I told you so” is acceptable. Citing it as evidence of my astonishing and infallible powers of precognition is not.
  12. “Author unknown” does not mean that I am allowed to take credit for writing it.
  13. “Question everything” does not apply to statements such as “harmful if swallowed” or “danger: undetonated ordinance”.
  14. No one is interested in buying “fashionably” pre-ripped hazmat suits.
  15. While the pen may indeed be mightier than the sword, raising the subject with airport security is not appreciated.

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Doodle Dump: Robot authors

joulesverne hphovercraft isaacautomatmktwain

I was bored.

And for the record, typewriters are really hard to draw. Even the electrical ones. Even from the back.

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Bestiarium: Rompo

Name: Rompo
Mythos of Origin: African(?) and Hindu mythology
Type: Mammalian, Skeletal, Chimæra, Vermin, Scavenger
Habitat: unknown

Imagine if you will that instead of being the product of thousands of years of emergent storytelling, coming up with mythology was somebody’s job, presumably at some sort of firm. Now imagine that one of the people working at that firm—let’s call him “Jerry”, just for the sake of the scenario—woke up one morning with a hangover and it suddenly realized that he was supposed to have a big presentation today of the mythical creature he’d been working on. Jerry calls the office, and discovers to his horror that the creature department had a major server crash during the night and they’ve lost everything. Desperate, Jerry hastily throws something together and prays to whomever it is he prays to that nobody would notice.

Now, that scenario is, of course, ridiculous. But if that were to happen, the result would probably come out looking something like the rompo.

There’s very little information I’ve been able to track down on the creature, but I do know a few things. It has the front legs of a badger and the back legs of a bear, the head of a hare, the ears of a human, and the torso of a skeleton. That’s 4 different animals, and a skeleton.

It feeds on human corpses, so it falls squarely within the criteria for what’s traditionally classified as a “bad” creature, but then again, the phrasing (“corpses” rather than “people”) suggests that it doesn’t actually kill anyone for its meals, preferring to nosh on whatever dead people it finds just lying around. So… less something a king would send a brave knight in shining armor to slay, and more along the lines something an undertaker might call the Orkin man to set traps for. It isn’t so much a horrible monster as it is a vaguely creepy pest.

What really gets me is its voice, described as “crooning”. Now, I know that this word originally meant a sort of soft, melodious humming, and that that’s probably the sense in which it’s used here, but I can’t help but imagine the freaky little weasel monster wandering around a graveyard belting out Fly Me to the Moon or Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.

All in all, the rompo always struck me as a bit rushed, hence my little story about Jerry and his workplace dilemma, but nonetheless I consider it another one of my favorites. It feels lazy and forced, but with such earnest conviction that the resulting bathos lends it a certain charm. It may not be the sort of monster that you scream and cower in fear from, but it is absolutely the sort of monster that one might dress up in costume and attend a midnight screening of (if monsters worked like movies, which they don’t), and in my book that’s just as good.

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Terror of Cecil B. deMille

My latest voyage into the unknown wastes of the Guadalupe pseudo-desert got off to a bit of a rocky start. Even when you’ve gone out of your way to prepare for everything that can possibly go wrong, it seems there’s always the possibility of something going wrong that you hadn’t prepared for. Having previously discovered and subsequently named the (alleged) Curse of Cecil B. DeMille, I probably should’ve taken this a some sort of bad omen, but in the great horror movie of life, I’m that arrogant intellectual guy who balks at the suggestion that vampires might be real even as the blood is being messily drained from his neck by some impossibly old European creep in a costume-shop opera cape, so I didn’t.

One of the things I’ve noticed on my various excursions is that Santa Maria, the closest real (but still rather small) city to my destination, has a ton of motels. I imagine serving as a stopover for people from Southern California taking road trips up north, or vice versa, must be one of the major industries here, because nearly every major motel chain seems to have a branch in town, and there are entire streets worth of little local places. There are even a few real hotels. There’s a FedEx airstrip just outside of town, of course, but there’s only really three planes there at a time, tops, and FedEx planes don’t exactly carry passengers so I don’t think that alone really justifies the disproportionate amount of accommodation available for out of towners. There’s really an awful lot of places to rent a room for the night, is what I’m saying.

Why do I bring this up? Because every single one of them was sold out. I went to the Best Western, and they sent me to the Travel Lodge. I couldn’t find the Travel Lodge, so I went to the Holiday Inn, and they sent me away as well, assuring me that there were no rooms available anywhere in town. Supposedly there was a wedding, a softball match, and a soccer match. There must’ve also been some sort of biker meetup rolling through town, because traffic both in town and on the journey back home was repeatedly held up by enormous hordes of bikers zipping past along the dividing line.

As it turns out, my stubbornness paid off, relatively speaking anyway. Despite the assurances of the guy at the front desk of the Holiday Inn, I was able to nab what was apparently the last room in town: a smoking room in the Motel 6 right next to the freeway (though to be fair, around 75% of the town is right next to the freeway), which from the way the lady at the desk described it, had apparently been rejected by other prospective guests earlier that day. But it didn’t appear to be haunted, the air freshener they used to drown out the tobacco stench of the previous tenants was subtle enough to not totally overwhelm my sensitive olfactory cells, and it was far too late in the day to turn back around and start the 3-hour trek back home, so I took what I could get.

Upon settling into my room, I decided to give myself a quick refresher on the use of my borrowed Garmin GPS, only to discover that the batteries had died and had to locate and download a copy of the user manual just to figure out where the battery compartment was even located, no less how to open it. This was, however, easily resolved the next morning (a curse cast in the age of silent film really can’t be expected to account for the ease with which a 21st century man can obtain AA batteries) and the GPS proved fairly intuitive to use, so I gassed up the car and set out.

A cool wind was blowing off the lake when I arrived at Oso Flaco, and with the Garmin telling me exactly where the fabled lost city I sought was located—less than a miles hike away from the trail—I was feeling quite optimistic about my chances of finding it.

That didn’t last.

It seems that with all the time and effort I’ve spent on the intellectual challenge of finding deMille’s Lost City, I’d neglected to put any thought into the physical challenge of actually reaching it. As a born city-dweller who has always seen nature as something to be admired from afar, I have almost no experience with wilderness hiking. Because of this, I made the rookie mistake of assuming that hiking is just like walking in that a short hike automatically means an easy hike. This is not the case. Between the steeply angled dunes, the treacherously shifting sand, the thick-growing desert scrubs and my own moderately sub-par physical condition, it rapidly dawned on me that this hike was one I simply wasn’t adequately equipped to make, and I was forced once again to turn back.

On the road out of Santa Maria, a large convoy of assorted fire department vehicles passed me going the other way. Their sirens were off, so I didn’t think much of it. But as I approached the twisting mountain road that joined the two highways along my route, that now all-too-familiar acrophobia was suddenly joined by a dread of something much more terrible as I past a sign warning me in big red letters that today’s forest fire risk level was “EXTREME” and I remembered the news reports on the spate of record-shattering wilderness fires that had been plaguing Southern California most of this season, and the small amount of gasoline that had spilled on the outside of my car when I removed the slightly defective gas pump filling up this morning.

When I stopped in Santa Barbara for a rest, a snack, and a chapter of Machen’s The Great God Pan, my fears seemed to be confirmed as I found the entire town cloaked in a cloud of what appeared to be smoke, so thick that it turned the ocean to the west all but invisible and called to mind my brief experience with the Silent Hill franchise. I didn’t smell smoke, but then again, my own home town of Pasadena has allegedly had a smoke problem for the past week, and I never smelled that, so I wasn’t sure.

As I continued south, my journey was punctuated by alternating bouts of apprehension and reassurance as I mentally debated whether the cloud that still covering me was really smoke, or just whatever the hell weird-ass low-hanging cloud phenomenon I’d encountered during my last excursion. Much of the vegetation to my left appeared to have been recently burned, and I thought I felt the air heat up and my eyes start to burn a few times, but that might’ve just been my imagination. The cloud kept up all the way  past Ojai, and I told myself that it must be fog, because even the largest blaze wasn’t that big. Still, every time the traffic slowed to a crawl, I held my breath, nervous that it might be due to some sort of road closure caused by the fire.

It wasn’t. I never saw any fire, and none of the roads were closed. In fact, most of the times the traffic slowed, it was caused by the entire left lane having to move over to let all those bikers I mentioned earlier pass, or everyone rubbernecking at one of the minor accidents they’d left in their wake. Not that seeing a ten thousand maniacs on motor bikes zip past at the speed of sound, so close that they’d have hit me if one of them so much as sneezed wasn’t alarming in its own right. Still, by the time I reached Thousand Oaks and the cloud finally started to let up, I still hadn’t found out for sure whether it really was smoke or not.

As much as I hate to leave the story that has become the Cecil B. deMille Saga without a satisfying conclusion, I don’t think I’m going to be doing this again in the near future. I’m not exactly going up to Santa Maria just for the local color (you can get that anywhere), and my true destination is blocked by a hike that is, for me, currently impossible. I don’t see much point in traveling three hours, two days, and three tanks of gas just to stop within a mile of somewhere I can’t reach. For the time being, it seems best to demote visiting the Lost City from an active goal for the immediate future to the proverbial “one that got away”. Perhaps some day I’ll be ready to go back and try again, but I’m sad to say that it’s time for this particular chapter of the deMille Saga to come to an end.

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BrokenEye Media is now on Etsy

I’ve just finished setting up shop for the beginning of my trial run on Etsy. Currently my stock is limited to single copies of ten of my favorite works of mine, but if these do well, a larger stock is soon to follow.

The link to my shop can be found below:


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Redistribution of Output

I’ve just finished updating my copyright policy to allow all you guys to share my work to a handful of approved sites, and added the appropriate sharing buttons to all my posts. I’m still waiting on info on a handful of sites not currently included to see if I can add them as well.

And before you ask, no, I will not be adding sharing buttons for Facebook, Google+, or Tumblr. Ever. Unless, of course, they get their shit together at some point in the foreseeable future and rewrite their policies in a way that doesn’t completely disregard the intellectual property rights of content creators (and, for that matter, international intellectual property law), which doesn’t really seem likely given their history.

On an unrelated note, in the process of adding the sharing buttons to all my posts, some of them actually had their content deleted. I’m pretty sure I fixed all of them, but if you see a blank post, let me know and I’ll fix it. Thanks.

The True False Prophet has spoken!

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