IF: octopus

I'd like to be under the sea

In 1968, The Beatles began recording their ninth studio album, a self-titled release, more commonly known as “The White Album.” Tension was heavy and tempers were high during the sessions, as the four band members were experiencing creative growing pains. Feeling claustrophobic between a controlling Paul McCartney and a passive-aggressive John Lennon, usually easy-going drummer Ringo Starr quit the band, taking his family on a two-week vacation to Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea. Finally able to relax, Ringo took a boat excursion. The captain pointed out the behavior of octopuses to Ringo, noting that they gather stones from the sea bed to make gardens. Ringo was inspired.

When he returned to the studio, things had simmered down. (As a matter of fact, his drum kit was covered in flowers as a peace offering.) He got to work writing a song based on the boat captain’s story. With the help of guitarist George Harrison (as documented in the film Let It Be), that song evolved into “Octopus’s Garden.”

Ringo took lead vocals, with his band mates providing the music and backing vocals, including synthesizing their voices to mimic the sound of singing under water and George supplying bubbly noises by blowing a straw in a glass of milk. After a whopping thirty-two takes, they were satisfied and the song ended up on side one of “Abbey Road,” the last studio album recorded by The Beatles. It was Ringo’s second and final solo-credited song with the band.

inktober: week one

feed my frankenstein

An artist named Jake Parker started this challenge called “Inktober.” The challenge is to do 31 ink drawings – one per day – for the entire month of October. Or, if you’re not as ambitious (or lazy, like me) you can do one per week. I chose that route.

So, every week in October, I will post an ink drawing. Keeping with the time of year, my weekly theme will be “monsters.” My first is Frankenstein’s Monster, inspired by the biography of director James Whale, which I am currently reading. Whale directed the classic 1931 film Frankenstein with Boris Karloff.

I have three more ink drawings to do, in addition to my weekly entries for Illustration Friday. This should keep me busy.


from my sketchbook: brigitte helm

love kills
Nineteen-year old Brigitte Helm couldn’t have imagined what she signed on for. With lofty aspirations of starring on the big screen, the Berlin teen joined a cast of  thousands on director Fritz Lang’s vision of a dystopian future, Metropolis. She was subjected to Lang’s attempt at presenting gritty realism and, in 1927, without the aid of CGI, every special effect was an experiment. Lang had Brigitte, along with five hundred children, perform in cold water tank to achieve the illusion of a flooded city. He insisted on setting a large fire in another scene, causing the hem of Brigitte’s dress to ignite. Brigitte, who played a dual role as Maria and her robot double, the Maschinenmensch, was nearly suffocated inside the weight of her elaborate, but poorly functioning, metal costume. When filming on the early science-fiction epic was completed, she never worked with Lang again.

Brigitte made thirty films during a career that lasted only eight years. She retired from motion pictures in 1935, when she married for the second time. Brigitte, a native German, incurred the wrath of the Nazis, as her husband, Dr. Hugo von Kuenheim, was Jewish. However, after Brigitte was imprisoned for a series of traffic accidents, Adolf Hitler, a huge film fan, personally saw to it that all manslaughter charges against the actress were dropped. 

Brigitte and her husband moved to Switzerland in the mid-3os. She was offered the title role in The Bride of Frankenstein, but turned it down in favor of a life of anonymity.

Brigitte got her wish. She passed away in 1996, staying out of the spotlight for sixty-one years.