Saturday, April 20, 2013

93 - 95 The Best of 2012

Presenting 93,94,and 95 on my list of the top 100 movies...

2012 was a good year for film. Some quality flicks include; "The Master," "Flight," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Looper," "Brave," "Wreck-it-Ralph," and "Life of Pi." A few just narrowly missed making my list. "Zero Dark Thirty" didn't make my list because it was about 40 minutes worth of torture too much. "Django Unchained" was entertaining, and Tarantino will be well represented on my list, but it didn't make the cut because the whole revenge fantasy note has been played by Quentin too many times. His next film will likely have a bunch of native Americans mutilating pilgrims, or maybe he'll remake "Revenge of the Nerds" but this time there will be a slaughter. Three films from 2012 rose above the rest.

93. Silver Linings Playbook

I jumped on the David O. Russell train early when I saw "Spanking the Monkey." Who knew he would become one of those directors whose every movie gets a best picture nomination? He followed up "The Fighter" with this quirky picture about damaged people seeking redemption. Outstanding performances from DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, and America's new sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence, carry the film. It was the year's best, narrowly edging out...

94. Argo

Okay, so Affleck tweaked some historical elements to give the final scene some additional tension. I don't care about that. When I go see a historical drama, I don't expect to see history faithfully represented, I'm going to see a story. Argo delivered a fully drawn world. It had me on the edge of my seat at times, literally, my butt was on the edge of my seat. The characters were believable, the circumstances were intriguing, and the film was well done all around. So he fudged a little bit. It's entertainment. Good job, Ben.

95. Beasts of the Southern Wild

"Beasts" makes the cut due to its uniqueness. I can't think of another movie to compare it to. I like it when films render an interesting universe all its own. I don't know anything about life at the end of the world on the bayou, but now I have an image in my head and it looks a lot like the bathtub. I'm glad that Quvenshane Wallis didn't win best actress, because I don't know how much credit a six year old should get for climbing around in the mud in her underwear, but I'm glad that the film got some much deserved attention during award season. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking world.

Friday, April 19, 2013

96-100 My Wife's Favorite Films

The first installation in my list of "The Top 100 Movies I want to write about."

Okay, I'm married. That means that my wife owns me and she occupies a part of my brain. She is very attached to her top five favorite movies. She made this list when she was fourteen and she has stuck with it. Only two of these films would have made my top 100 (Fast Times. Stand By Me) but all five make the list now due to marital obligations...

96. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times may have been the first movie that showed me cinematic boobs. Spicoli will always be the first character I think of when I think of Sean Penn. A classic.

97. Stand By Me

This one made my list without the assistance of my wife, and it might have ranked higher than the late 90's on the list, but in the interest of keeping these together, here it is. A classic coming of age picture, and the film River Phoenix will most be remembered for. It has buddies, a quest, greasers, projectile vomiting, sick balls, etc. A great and massively entertaining film.

98. Beautiful Girls

My wife loves movies that feature a character returning to his/her home town. That is the premise for this picture and it is well executed. It has a great cast featuring jailbait Natalie Portman. Ice fishing.

99. Ordinary People

Best known for winning the 1980 Academy Award for Best Picture over Raging Bull, Ordinary People also collected Oscars for Robert Redford in his directorial debut and Best Supporting Actor for Timothy Hutton. Mary Tyler Moore and Judd Hirsch also got nominations. It is a well done film for sure, featuring tremendous performances. It is a DRAMA. It shows a family falling apart in the wake of one tragedy and the debilitating effect of depression. Lots of yelling and tears. My wife loves movies and shows that feature people in therapy. This one is her all time favorite.

100. The Lost Boys

I was never, nor will I ever be, a teenage girl. Therefor "The Lost Boys" was not initially on my list. I did enjoy it back in the day and even now. Was this the beginning of sexy vampires? It was at the peak for sexy sax players.

The Top 100 films I want to write about

I have been working on a compilation list of my favorite 100 movies for a while. Like most people, I love movies, and in this age of streaming, I watch several movies a week. And, like virtually everyone, I have an inflated opinion of my taste. Have you ever heard anyone brag about their terrible taste? Even people who love the Transformers franchise think they have great taste. To set the record straight, however, I do have great taste. It's just a given.

Originally I was going to call the list "My favorite 100 movies," but that was too limiting, and I'm certainly not going to claim to represent the "100 Best films." There wont be any Ingmar Bergman films or anything made before 1940 on my list. Of course these are great cinematic achievements, but I don't think I'll be sitting through a screening of "The Birth of a Nation" anytime soon. The movies on my list are the movies I love, and some that I am just compelled to write about. I will add links to this entry as the posts are made.... Here is the AFI's top 100 films, if you want a more scholarly list that a board voted on. Gigli did not make the cut

Friday, April 22, 2011

No Free Art

Recently I was given the "opportunity" to do some art on tables and benches at a new local restaurant, but I turned it down. Why would I turn down having my art permanently in a great restaurant? Money, or rather the lack of any of it at all. Yup, it turns out I'm a capitalist. I was considering hanging my art there instead but they said they would take a commission on sales. I had to turn that down on principle. It is a wonderful restaurant run by really cool people, but why would they expect art for free? They wouldn't ask someone to wait tables for free or supply eggs for free. Why is it enough to offer "exposure" to artists? I think taking such a job in exchange for "exposure" devalues the work of artists. They should make meals for me and a bunch of friends and I'll pay them in exposure. As for the commission... In my opinion the only place that has the right to get a commission from sales is a gallery. Artists are doing bars and restaurants a favor by hanging their art, and in exchange for that they should keep 100% of the revenue from sales. That's how it works. It is mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship like that of the hippo and the birds that clean their teeth (I'm not sure if this is a real thing). Taking a cut of sales is straight up exploitation. I understand a new restaurant owned by non-millionaires probably wants to squeeze out every dime they can, but not my dime and not my art. Sorry. But I hear that their grilled cheese is the bomb.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

iPhone Scanner

I was searching for a device that I could use to make hi-res scans of drawings, then dock to my iphone and send off. I was picturing a little hand held scanner with a little cord that I could plug into my phone. I didn't find that gadget but I did stumble upon this invention.

I didn't download the specs, follow the directions, and manufacture this design, because that just isn't my style. I decided to rig up my own. I found a little shipping box in my closet, pulled out a kitchen knife, a ruler, and some scotch tape. Voila, fifteen minutes later I had this.

It could use some improvements, but it's not bad for a prototype. I think the fact that it was made from the cardboard of one box is pretty cool. Here is the first important document to be "scanned."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nate Otto

Well, a lot has changed in the past two years since the svn post first sent you here; I got married, I changed careers, I grew badder and more awesome. Please check out Thanks. I like you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Face Tattoos

Face Tattoos are always a great idea. Nothing can enhance a person's likelihood to be remembered by strangers passing on the sidewalk more than a face tattoo.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Collect Art

I have always been secretly covetous of other people’s art, but my art collecting has been severely limited by my lack of funds and the fact that I’m not very good at owning stuff. Objects tend to be left trampled in my wake. Recently I had the opportunity to put my splendid, original art into a super bad-ass office, and it got me to thinking. If I had the same space to fill, how would I go about it? First I would put up more of my art. That goes without saying. My next step would be to go to the artists I have known. Three of my favorite peer artists are Gunner Fox, Keith Kostecki, and Travis Millard.

Gunner Fox

Keith Kostecki

Travis Millard

Next, I would pay homage (and a lot more money) to work from Chicago-based influences; Tony Fitzpatrick, Jim Lutes, Kerry James Marshall, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, and McArthur Binion.

Tony Fitzpatrick

Jim Lutes

Kerry James Marshall

Daniel Clowes

Chris Ware

McArthur Binion

When I was at Columbia College I was a fan, friend, and peer of someone I knew as Jamie Elizabeth. She and I were often in our studio spaces at the same time and she was da bomb, as a painter and as a lady. Apparently she has added Hudrlik to her name, or maybe it was always supposed to be there. I'm not sure why she lives in Iowa City either. It could be that she got married. At any rate, she was an amazing painter and by the looks of things she is even better now. Looks as though she also has a thriving etsy vintage biz going on. I might try to navigate those etsy waters more thoroughly soon (here is my feeble opening entry). Jamie can paint and she is cool. 'Nuff said.

Jamie Elizabeth

I’m running out of gas on this. I’ll come back to it later. Time to go buy a piano bench.

I'm back. Here are some more:
Chris Johanson San Francisco based self-taught cool stuff painter. I was just looking at his stuff on some blog and the comments people left were so idiotic. If you are impressed by realism alone, then you are a dumb dumb.

Howard Finster is the godfather of american folk, outsider art. His work is prevalent in the midwest. His sons make works in the similar style for a living. I was at a friend's the other day, and his Finster turned out to be a Roy Finster, a work done by one of his sons. I felt bad for noticing. A bubble was bursted. Speaking of "outsider art:" if you live in Chicago, you have to own a Wesley Willis.

Howard Finster

Wesley Willis

Martin Mull, yeah that Martin Mull, the actor from the eighties that was Colonel Mustard in Clue. He paints and I like what he makes.

Martin Mull

Okay, look.... This has gone on long enough. I'm not about to list every artist I like. What you should really do is visit all of the student studios from every local art school. Buy your favorite piece from each. Go to art fairs and bars and coffee shops and buy stuff that you like. IF you have good taste, use it. Don't wait for someone else to validate the work by making them established. You can establish the art. If you think only the best art is recognized then you have been fooled. By nature, some of the best artists are poor self-promoters, humble, and shy people. Appreciate them.

Oh.... Here's some more. If you are rich enough to get a private jet, you might also want to get a Robert Motherwell. He is the under-appreciated master from the American Abstract Expressionist uprising. You should also consider Philip Guston.



Margaret Kilgallen was amazing. She passed away at a really young age. She was married to the equally amazing Barry McGee.

Margaret Kilgallen

Barry McGee

Prints and posters... If you can't afford any of the stuff above, buy prints, meaning, etchings or serigraphs. You can get really cool prints for thirty bucks. Paintings and drawings trump screen-prints every time because they are originals, but prints will do in a pinch. Don't ever buy art posters. Monet and Van Gogh posters are for your grandma. Having an art poster in your house or office proves that you are lame. Buy art from artists, not poster shops. That is all.

Somehow I actually left out Basquiat. I give you permission to buy a Basquiat poster.

Jean Michel Basquiat

OMG! I just remembered, I'm awesome. My name is Nate Otto and I make art and you should collect my art. I plugged myself at the top of this, but this is a revision and I have a new site. This whole enterprise is ultimately a plug for myself.

Nate Otto

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Triangle Art

Someone with good taste told me they like the "Triangle Art." Not sure which one, but there are several options.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Autobiographical Albums List

This post is sure to be edited. Nuts.

My Favorite Albums. They are listed in order (roughly) of when they were my favorite albums, starting in kindergarten. By favorite album, I mean that for a period in time, that was the album that I was listening to over and over.

Keep in mind that memory is vague, so it’s possible that order wise, some of these are years off. I’m also sure that I left out some albums that I worshiped at the time but in retrospect … well they just weren’t there anymore when I went looking. I left some of the blights in there (Erasure, Jesus Jones, Live) because they were a part of growing up. The early years, especially, feature many omissions because I just flat out can’t remember. Some periods are represented more than others because there were times when finding and listening to new music was more important to me than at other times. Cloudying matters further, the advent of the iPod has changed the way I’ve experienced albums to near non-existence, but I also hear a lot more different music. It got confusing for this list, which I spent too much time on. I was a music snob at a very young age. I remember being the first kid to start hating on Michael Jackson in the second grade. I never really went though a classic rock stage. I always liked whatever was new, for better or worse. I also remember my dad letting me pick out the hymns for church (he was the pastor) when I was three.

Journey, Escape
Air Supply, The One That You Love
The Beatles, Revolver
Alan Hovhaness, Mysterious Mountain
Michael Jackson, Thriller
New Edition, New Edition
Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward
Prince, Around the World in a Day
The Beastie Boys, License to Ill
LL Cool J, Radio
U2, Joshua Tree
Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust
The Smiths, The Queen is Dead
Peter Gabriel, So
Talking Heads, Little Creatures

The The, Mind Bomb
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back
Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
New Order, Technique
Erasure, The innocents
De La Soul, Three Feet High and Rising
N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
Various Artists, Just Say Yes
They Might Be Giants
Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
The Pogues, Peace and Love
The Cure, Disintegration
The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
R. E. M. Green
Peter Gabriel, Passion
Jesus Jones, Doubt
Live, Mental Jewelry
Primal Scream, Screamadelica
Sonic Youth, Goo

Jane’s Addiction, Ritual De La Habitual
Nirvana, Nevermind
Smashing Pumpkins, Gish
Fugazi, 13 Songs
Ween, Pure Guava
Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted
The Flaming Lips, In a Priest Driven Ambulance
The Jesus Lizard, Liar
Slint, Spiderland
Sebadoh, III
Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
The Grifters, Crappin’ You Negative
Smog, Julius Ceasar
Polvo, Today’s Active Lifestyles
Rapeman, Two Nuns and a Pack Mule
Built to Spill, Perfect From Now On
Superchunk, Foolish
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
The Regrets, New Directions
Tortoise, Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Panel Donor, Lobedom and Global
Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

Sebadoh, Bakesale
June of ’44, Engine Takes to Water
Gastr Del Sol, Crookt, Crackt, or Fly
Palace Music, Lost Blues and Other Songs
Trans Am, Trans Am
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Extra Width
Steel Pole Bathtub, The Miracle of Sound in Motion
Beck , Odelay
Shellac, At Action Park
Calexico, Spoke
Red Red Meat, There’s a Star above the Manger Tonight
Brainiac, Hissing Prigs in Static Culture
Portishead, Dummy
Dr. Octagon, Dr. Octagencenologist
Bedhead, Transaction De Novo
Le Tigre, Le Tigre

Cat Power, What Would the Community Think
John Fahey, The Legend of Blind Joe Death
Modest Mouse, The Lonesome Crowded West
Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane over the Sea
The Raincoats, The Raincoats
Blond Redhead Misery is a Butterfly
Nick Drake, Pink Moon
Jurassic Five, Quality Control
DJ Shadow, Endtroducing
Gang Starr, Full Clip
Radiohead, Kid A
Godspeed You Black Emperor, Lift your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven
Fridge, Eph
Handsome Boy Modeling School, So… How’s your Girl
RJD2, Deadringer

Mogwai, Rock Action
Bran Van 3000, Glee
Johnny Cash, American IV
The Melvins, The Bootlicker
Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
Postal Service, Give Up
The Moldy Peaches, The Moldy Peaches
Leonard Cohen, The Songs of Leonard Cohen
Flaming Lips, Yoshimi battles the Pink Robots
Kanye West, College Dropout
Nina Simone, The Best of
Nas, Street’s Disciple
Daedelus, Exquisite Corpse
Animal Collective, Feels

Spoon, Gimme Fiction
Subtle, A New White
Arcade Fire, Funeral
Iron and Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days
P.O.S., Audition
Okkerville River, Black Sheep Boy
CocoRosie, Noah’s Ark
Hank Williams, The Ultimate Collection
This Will Destroy You, Young Mountain
Band of Horses, Everything All The Time
TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain
Smog, A River Ain't Too Much to Love
Beirut, Gulag Orkestrar

Cut Chemist, The Audience’s Listening
No Age, Nouns
M. Ward, Hold Time
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
The Books, The Lemon of Pink
Beach House, Teen Dream

Monday, July 26, 2010


I went to the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival yesterday. I think that 's what it was called. It was a loose little show that spanned from California to Kedzie, with various stages at random points along the way. Galleries and bars were open with art and maybe were officially associated with the festival or maybe not. One highlight was this little space along the way, that this guy got us to enter by touting how it was "dog friendly." We had dog, we entered. This dude was a bit off kilter in the way that I like. The space was all a sort of installation but he was too unpretentious to call it such. There was some pretty good collage art and some paintings on paper done with puffy paint that were cool, but then he had the space filled with random objects, such as a collection of Anne Rice books, Keds, a glass box filled with boxing cards from '91, and a little boy's superhero pajama top that, for some reason, Megan decided she had to own. We wound up giving the guy, "Pascal" he claimed his name was, a cigarette for it. There was a closet upstairs that he said he was renting out for 31 cents a minute, and a really stoned dude with fucked up teeth out front that we thought was associated with the show somehow but he was just a passerby that had latched on. All in all it was better than a visit to the MCA. I wish I had gotten the dude's info, because it would be fun to set him up with the Happy Dog people and see what he would do in that space.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ALF's dad

I watched part of an ALF episode on Hulu today and made the disturbing discovery that ALF's dad wore glasses that are remarkably similar to my new pair. Even as a child I thought that this guy was particularly sniveling and whiny. That, and the fact that ALF always wanted to eat the cat, were about the only things I remembered about the show. As I watched the show today I cringed every time this creep (Max Wright as Willie Tanner) spoke, and I have the same taste in eyewear 25 years later.

Monday, August 4, 2008

King Buzzo

I just walked by the Double Door and saw that the Melvins are playing tonight. I was reminiscing about the time I met King Buzzo backstage at Alpine Valley eight or so years ago when I was working for the caterer and The Melvins were playing the second stage at Ozfest. I talked with him then a shame that his band was playing the second stage when bands like Coal Chamber were playing the mainstage. I was very impressed by him. Thought he was really down to earth. Then two days later I walked by him on the street in Lawrence Kansas. Just as I was thinking this, I rounded the corner and there he was with his unmistakable gray sideshow bob hairdo. I said "King Buzzo" and he gave me a thumbs up. He was on the phone so I didn't want to bother him further, and it is almost impossible to want to chat up a celerity, however minor, without coming across as a total idiot, so instead I rushed up the stairs and blogged about it. Oh, our modern times!