Friday, September 05, 2008

Middle-of-the-Night Randomness and Naughty Sock Monkeys

Once again, I cannot sleep. Insomnia is a plague for me. On the nights that I go to sleep and stay asleep, I feel so blessed. This night, I went to bed at 10:55 pm, turned off the lights at 11:18 pm, awakened at 12:55 am (due to various acrobatics involving my husband and our very large cat Jack). After an obligatory potty stop and drink of water, I slipped back into bed and tried every go-to-sleep trick I know. At 2:01 am I gave up and got up. When this happens, I usually get back to bed about 5 or 6 am. This particular morning, I have to be ready to leave the house at 6:45 am. Not a very promising start to my day.

There is this wonderful moment at bedtime when one reclines against her pillow and drifts away into the void. Or, there is this terrible moment when one is teetering on the edge of the void and suddenly her brain kicks in and says, "Whoa, look at that, you're about to fall asleep. Way cool. I don't wanna. Let's play."

My Let's Play brain is inventive and creative. Some of my best work originated in the middle of the night. So I got this idea that if I actualized my creativity during waking hours, I would be able to sleep at night. The entire plan for creating my recent "Naughty Monkeys Peep Show" altered book came in the dark of night. I got up and wrote out a 13-point plan of action that translated into some remarkable art.

Let's talk art. I love to construct things. Always have. I am an architect in my soul and could have been an architect in real life if I had been born a little later than 1950. Math and science were verboten for us females. I found myself steered firmly into feminine jobs, graduating from Webster College with a degree in English lit and a teaching certificate for grades 1 - 12 in Missouri. Fortunately, I stumbled on to an exciting graduate program at Washington University in St. Louis called Technology and Human Affairs. This now-defunct program (it lives on as Engineering and Public Policy, but I wouldn't be able to get into it anymore with my liberal arts degree and paltry science and math background) excited me tremendously and gave me the tools that resulted, after two intermediate jobs, in my career in telecommunications.

While at Wash U. I discovered architecture. More to the point, I discovered a fabulous book titled "The Universal Traveler" by Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall among the School of Architecture textbooks. "TUT" is subtitled: "a soft-systems guide to creativity, problem-solving, and the process of reaching goals." I bought it then, lost it along the way, and got a new volume from Michael for Christmas last year. Thank you, Michael!!

Anyway, that got my attention, but I was too far gone down my educational path (in graduate school and already making up for missing bits of undergraduate education, like taking graduate Economics - two semesters of undergraduate economics in a single semester) to pick up the requirements I would need for architecture. But I bought books on home design and building your own home and anything else that caught my eye about how buildings are constructed and how they turn out. I have a tidy little collection and would happily show them off or recommend them if anyone is interested.

That's the long way around to my point - sorry! I love to construct things. I can figure out what's wrong with stuff by looking at it and reverse engineering it. Sometimes Michael gets frustrated when he has struggled with a repair, let's say, and then I come along, study it for five or ten minutes, and then say something like, "Oh, see this widget over here? I think if you moved it over there, the whatsit will go back in its track and work again." And it does.

So, WIVLA announced its annual print show at the Museum of Printing History in Houston. Theme? Unabridged Edition. What the hell does that mean? I really struggled with the theme because it just didn't translate into artwork for me. When I asked others about it, the general response was that the theme didn't matter for this show (it is a great WIVLA tradition that even beginners are usually welcomed into) and I should just do whatever I wanted. Something printed, of course, and preferably something embellished or altered after printing.

Still, I struggled for meaning. Unabridged Edition. GGGAAHH!!!!

Until on insomniac night when it all came to me and I developed my construction blueprint for my Naughty Monkeys. I would alter a book - the edition - making it into an old-fashioned peep show and I would put a titillating photograph inside - the unabridged part. Ah, but it is for the MPH and sometimes they have children tour, and there have been issues about "fleshy" photos in the past. Besides, who would I take a titillating picture of? I couldn't see my friends or family signing up to be featured in a peep show.

But I have a lovely sock monkey couple, beautifully dressed, thus beautifully available for UNdress, and, as far as I can tell, sock monkey sex doesn't count as pornography!! I did do research on the subject. There are an amazing number of sock monkey websites (who knew??) but any naked sock monkeys I saw (and I saw a lot of them) were innocents.

Oh, I should mention YouTube. There is sock monkey porn on YouTube, but it is of the most puerile and unimaginative sort. Themactically, they involved drunk (or silly) teen-agers, sock monkeys, and sock monkey tails waved around between sock monkey's legs. Nothing like my high-class peep show.

I also researched peep shows, discovering that the shows from the olden days, like the 1904 World's Fair, were much more elegant and well-appointed than modern peep shows. Many photographs of peep show booths and peep show pictures are available for the canny researcher. Apparently stereoptic shows (where you get a 3-D effect) were popular when live women were unavailable.

I devised a construction plan for cutting a door into the front cover of my book, removing the center of about half the pages to create the space for my "show," "papering" the front and back cover with torn tissue pieces (small and a pain to work with, but I didn't know that until too late), hinging the door and putting a doorknob on it ... well, a 13-point plan to create my peep show. I also had to stage and photograph the actual sock monkey pornography.

I felt pretty creepy making them do "stuff," but they didn't object and it was for art's sake. Although there is a fine point to be made about whether sock monkeys can technically be pornographic since they are toys and they don't have the requisite parts for anything sexual. Well, that's a discussion for another day.

Some insomniac nights have better outcomes than others. Tonight I am writing this blog, so you will have to judge how good the outcome was.

I did create the "Naughty Monkey Peep Show" complete with an attached collection box for quarters. (Based on my research, 25 cents a peep is about right for the olden days). My dremel came in very handy for several parts of this art project. I love my dremel. The first attempt failed because I had problems drilling some holes that I later decided were unnecessary. But book two turned out beautifully.

Sad to say, the curator of the MPH, Amanda Stevenson, rejected the piece for the WIVLA show. Although, she told me in an email that she liked it, she also said it didn't fit in the show because it was "architectural and interactive." Being bumped from the show just about broke my heart, but I LOVED the architectural and interactive part. Yes, I am an architect, if only of my own small constructions. But I love them and they work, and people can do things with them - interact by opening the door and peeping at the sock monkeys inflagrante delicato.

I'd like to show you pictures, but that would involved going to another computer and turning it on, and , hey, its 4:11 am and I don't feel like it. But I will put photographs up soon. I have also decided to make some more naughty monkey shows, so stay tuned. At the moment, I don't have the right books to desecrate. I need hardbacks around 6x9 or 6x10 and at least an inch thick. They will not be returned and they will be cut up, so the books have to be junk. I used an old alumni directory for the original peep show. If you have books and live in the area (or want to mail them to me) let me know and something can be arranged!!

Now I am going to spell check, publish, and go back to bed, "to sleep, perchance to dream ...." as the Bard famously said. Or in my case, perchance to sleep!!

Look for future posts on such troubling topics as the raging pit bull in lipstick (her words, not mine) who happens to be running for Vice President on the Republican ticket.

Ciao.

1 comment:

Ann Bell said...

Wow, Lane! Thanks for the reference to TUT. I crave books on creativity. I wasn't aware of this one.

I have some books for your projects. I will bring them in my car to WIVLA next time.

Ann