The Author as Artist

In case anyone’s interested…

I have been publishing artwork under the name Propraetor for many years now. While I am always the last to say I have any skill, I am continually told that I do and this gives me pride. I would like to take the opportunity to share a few pieces of note with you and if you are so inclined, please direct your attention to my website: propraetor.net.

In the meantime, here are some of my works for your enjoyment while we wait for things to come together for the next few posts…

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A Quick “Thank You”

Hello there, children! Just wanted to say that the House of Wormwood has been getting a lot of attention and support recently and I greatly appreciate it. I’m averaging about 50 hits a day (some days a lot more, some days a little less) and things will only keep getting better.

Everyone keep your eyes on either the blog’s Twitter or Facebook pages, or just subscribe. There are going to be some interesting reviews and interviews coming up. I know I have a backlog of promised articles and I will deliver.

In personal news, I am gearing up for a few art shows this year, but I am getting into aoposition now where I will be able to juggle my artistic and journalistic endeavours more easily. For news on that, I suggest heading over to my art site.

All the best, kids.

Updates and apologies AGAIN!

Hello again, children.

As some of you may have noticed, the House of Wormwood has been a little inactive for a few months. Between my computer dying at home, various pressures and an over-whelming drive to work on my art, I have had little capability to devote the appropriate time to my journalistic endeavours. However, that is about to change. The Derek Riggs interview will be complete by this evening and, once I get Derek’s approval on the piece, will be posted presently. Then I can get to work on the other interviews and articles I have been meaning to do.

Apologies for my absence. Time to rectify things.

An Absinthe Colouring Book? (Not Quite….)

I’ve been immersed in a profound melancholy of late. Between the emotional challenges of suddenly finding myself single, attendant strife and the fallout therefrom (which includes the woes of being without a working computer at home), it’s been rather hard to find the time and energy to focus on anything but my own artwork. That being said, there are a few things that invariably cheer me up: The Misfits, Naked City, film noir, absinthe (of course) and art (also, of course).

Relevant to the last one, I do take a certain delight in browsing art supplies. To that end, I strode into The Artstore of Waterloo the other day. Lynn, April and the other ladies and gent that work there are all quite friendly and knowledgeable, always taking the time to chat with me about sundry things related to art. On one such occasion when I was chin-wagging with Lynn (taken literally, that’s a humerous image, I must say), I happened upon this, sitting on a small, table-top easel:

Anyone recognize this painting? It also happens to be this one:

"L'Absinthe" by Edgar Degas

They even took the liberty of painting the absinthe the right colour. How very novel to find a classic piece of absinthe art gracing the front cover of a colouring book. However, I wonder what a full-on absinthe colouring book would be like.

I envision black and white images of Van Gogh’s self-portrait and various line drawings of joyous Parisian revelers raising their glasses and pouring water over sugar-bearing spoons. Scenes of Victorian-era patios adjacent cobblestone streets and gaslights, interspersed with portraits of Verlaine, Rimbaud and Hemingway. I could even see a gradual evolution in the drawings as the quality of absinthe diminished. Despondant, ghostly souls lurking in cafes, momento mori images involving skull-faced faeries and tortured addicts. Then a tableau of the insidious ban, with stone-faced temperance tyrants chastising the green faerie while wine makers hide in his shadow, snickering evilly.

I may just have to make the time to produce this myself, I think (insert jingling of a cash register here).

Ontario does it again!!!

So, the other week I was in an LCBO (again, for those out of province, the LCBO is the the provincially-regulated liquor store), meeting a good friend of mine, with whom I was going to visit, drink, share my woes and loot his library (long story and it’s not some clever metaphor for anything sexual, sorry ladies). While there, I had just enough time to investigate the current absinthe situation.

Last time I checked was a few months ago and the LCBO carried Pernod, Taboo, Sirene (which I ordered a bottle of but suddenly found myself too poor to afford) and a certain, unnameable swill. I checked the shelves, expecting only the swill and my cynicism was rewarded. Then I remembered that Taboo was available in the vintages section. No sign of it. My wormwood-sense was tingling.

I haunted the steps of an employee of this establishment for five minutes, being given sidelong glances while they served a woman who was apparently unable to understand that the four numbers on a bottle of wine are actually the date on which that wine was bottled. Once she was satisfied with his explanation, I attempted to inquire into the absinthe scenario, however he fled at my approach. After much pursuit, broken bottles, collateral damage in passers by and a grueling interrogation at the point of a shard from a bottle of crème de menthe, I got some answers.

Everything has been de-listed.

The only thing that is left that they stock is the vile swill. I eyed the bottle with indignation. Did you do this, I mentally asked it. Were you, somehow, behind this? Are you in league with the Ontario government to ruin the presence of absinthe here? Treacherous bastard!!!

I then asked about ordering in the last few remaining bottles of my beloved Taboo, however he refused as it is stocked in the Vintages section. Nothing else is available anywhere.

My friend arrived and we returned to his house, where I promptly drowned my sorrows in a bottle of East Dell’s Black Cab. When I finally got home, I drunkenly vowed to never buy from the LCBO again. How dare they blockade themselves against my favoured elixir!?! Then I remembered that they were the only game running for spirits. So much for that stand.

The situation almost smacks of the old Unholy Alliance that initiated the great absinthe ban back in the day. The nefarious scourge of the Temperance Movement and the French wine trade conspiring together to undermine the Green Fairy. The official story about Ontario’s absinthe anxiety is that the Ontario government has strict rules over thujone content, however I can’t help but speculate. Could it be that there is something at work in the Ontario government that seeks to prevent absinthe’s presence, especially seeing as how the swill doesn’t really count as absinthe? Could it be the conservative government at work? Or perhaps the makers of the swill have made an unholy alliance of their own to make sure they are the only product with that name, real or otherwise, on the Ontario market. Even the Americans have greater access to absinthe.

But, avast! There is an opalescent lining to this black cloud.

It may be a little known fact, but there is a source for absinthe in Ontario which is not dependent upon the LCBO. Here is what you do….

  1. Acquire a credit card if you don’t already have one. If credit is a problem for you, there are various places where you can buy pre-paid Visas, Master Cards and AmEx cards. It works somewhat like a gift card, except you don’t need to feel like a dork because you just bought yourself a gift card.
  2. Log onto Absinthes.com. These guys used to be called Rue Verte. Beyond doubt, they are one of (if not the absolute) best absinthe distributor I can find. They have an incredible selection of absinthes from across the world, with the swill nowhere in sight, and most importantly they guarantee shipment to Canada. Note, however: they do not list Taboo on their site, so for that specific brand, repeat all of this here, instead.
  3. Order whatever you want/can afford. When you browse the site in English, all prices are in $US. Make sure to give yourself room for shipping, however. Their prices per bottle are amazing, but the shipping, as everywhere, will sneak up on you like Ezio in the fog (I just totally geeked myself).
  4. Make sure you send it to an address you will be able to receive it at. They ship by DHL, so if you can talk to your boss about having it shipped to your place of work, that might be easiest.
  5. Wait patiently.

And that’s it.

In the meantime, if anyone makes a sojourn to Brantford to acquire the last remaining bottles of Taboo, I will gladly pay you substantially extra for a bottle or two.

More dishes coming VERY soon

Hello, all.

Once more, apologies for the delay in getting new writings to you. I have been both swamped with work, buried under domestic strife, afflicted by financial woes and beset by artistic obsession. I’ve been working like a dog with everything except my journalistic endeavours, but I am hoping to get caught up with all my blogging this week. Here’s what’s distilling for you as we speak:

  • Pantheon interview #1: Derek Riggs – as I mentioned before, I am embarking on a series of interviews entitled “The Pantheon”, which will entail interviews with the creators who influenced me the most in my artistically formative years. First up, the infamous illustrator who invented the most iconic face in heavy metal and whose art deeply influenced the mood of much of my earlier work.
  • Pantheon interview #2: Tim Vigil – the notorious comic rebel has agreed to answer some of my questions – for a small price (more on that later). Come with me as we stroll though the mind of the master of macabre erotica.
  • Pantheon interview #3: Tim Bradstreet – If you don’t know his illustrations for Vampire: the Masquerade, then you’ve probably seen his covers for the various comics, including The Punisher and Hellraiser. If you’ve still never heard of this guy, oh boy are you going to find out! This man is probably one of the greatest of my artistic heroes still alive and he’s going to be put to the inquisition. Keep your eyes open.

Before all of these, however, I have a small rant to deliver about this damned province I live in. Stay tuned later in the week for it.

Until next time….

Apologies

Good day, all.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here and I’m afraid it will continue to be another week or two before I do anything substantial. Things in the House have gotten a little chaotic and my journalistic endeavours have taken a back seat to other concerns. However, I’ve got some interesting things in store for you.

  • First off, I have received samples of Hapsburg traditional absinthe which I will be sampling and reviewing hopefully soon (maybe even tonight, if I can get the time).
  • Second, I have something personal to post in the “art” section – I am currently trying to get interviews set up for a series of articles I am calling “The Pantheon”, which will be a survey of some of the artists whose work has been most influential to my own. So far, I have one interview set up – the legendary comic artist and macabre erotica illustrator, Timothy B. Vigil. With any luck, I should be able to set up some further interviews in the near future. I’ll let you know as soon as they’re confirmed.

So, a few interesting things coming up. Stay tuned and I thank you all for your patience.

Hill’s – the Great Insult to Absinthe

Hill’s Absinth

Country of origin: Czech Republic
Distillery: No idea and it’s probably for the best.
LCBO price: $74.75
Neat colour: A bright blue, in spite of the fact that the photo below makes it look green. Kinda looks a little like mouthwash.
Neat aroma: Alcohol with a microscopic trace of anise, and nothing else. No hints of wormwood or anything. Closely resembles isopropyl.
Neat taste: See below.
Louched colour: There is no louche. It just turns pale and perfectly transparent, like water with a couple of drops of blue food colouring in it.
Louched aroma: Nothing but alcohol. No herbs or flavourings at all.
Louched taste: See below.

Vinnie disapproves

Even though I’ve never been there, I’ve always wanted to visit the Czech Republic. Every image I’ve seen has been beautiful. They produced Jan Svankmajer. The band Master’s Hammer came from there. So far, in my experience of Czech absinthes, I must say they don’t know anything about it (this is not just coming from a Canadian, mind you – absintheurs the world over agree with me).

Aleister Crowley traced the etymology of the word absinthe to the Greek word apsinthion which he translates as “not consumable”, and that is exactly what Hill’s is. It’s like drinking paint thinner when it’s neat and like drinking watered down paint thinner when it’s mixed. There is no louche, so it’s obviously lacking all the right herbs, thereby negating it’s claim as an “absinth” (probably the reason they spelled it that way, so they could get away with saying “well, we never called it ‘absinthe!'”).

In short, if you are a lover of absinthe, or if you are just starting out in your journey as an absintheur, I beg you to please not insult yourself by buying this. Ever. It is offensive to more experienced tongues and misleading as a first impression.

I purchased this bottle years ago and the only reason why I still have it is because I decided to keep the small portion in the bottom as a cautionary tale. The tale is simple: “Avoid this at all costs!!!” The bottle was all but completely drained by friends who just wanted the buzz. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that is NOT the only reason to drink absinthe!!!! Whenever I confront people about this vulgar obscenity, they usually retreat behind that excuse and I have to restrain myself to keep from slapping them.

I was hesitant to post this review, as I am actually loathe to give this abomination any press whatsoever, but let’s be fair, shall we? I need to have the odd negative review. Therefore, Vinnie disapproves. With violence.

Professor Lambert and his Homunculus

Currently, the Pernod distillery are running their annual “Creator of ART” contest, which I, in my excitement, opted to try and enter. Then, much to my superlative annoyance, I discovered that the contest is only open to residents of the United States. This I discovered after I completed my entry. The price I pay for not being on Facebook, I suppose.

Nevertheless, I was sufficiently pleased with the final piece. It also had the additional purpose of being a birthday present and “happy-100th-episode of Lambert’s Basement” to Mr. David Ingram, whom I had the privilege of having interviewed earlier, as readers may recall.

Even though this is only slightly steam-punk, I’ve been itching to make more steam-punk work within my Edgar Gruesome oeuvre. This one takes some personality cues from Dave and his co-host, Igor, while at the same time not being a direct portrait of them. I was aiming for a more Professor Moriarity/Victorian villain/Victor Frankenstein/the Master from Doctor Who kind of vibe. I think I got it enough.

So without further ado, here’s “Professor Lambert and his Honumculus Discuss the Wisdom of Duke Ellington”. Enjoy….

Happy Holidays

A quick post to wish the readers a happy and ecstatic holiday from Propraetor, Lady Gruesome, Vinnie and the kids. Let’s all ring in the new year with a glass of the great green!

Note: Propraetor’s birthday is December 30, so anyone who wants to send him absinthe, feel free to do so. 😉

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