Fundraiser Progress

My fundraiser to make up for dental expenses has been a wild ride, now up to 72% of my goal.  Scroll down to see the all the posts I have written to order here, whose titles start with word counts.  These types of creations can be yours, for the low price of 10 words to the dollar.  Plz donate thx.

I had to pay close to $700 unexpectedly which is gonna make all the bills that come due before I next get paid extra painful, if not impossible.  So I’m hastily raising as much as I can within two weeks.  If I go over target, I’ll put any excess toward paying down some of the thousands in credit card debt I racked up from the same dental shituation.  Donate and I will write you a blog post on your topic of choice, containing ten words for every dollar you donate.  If you chip in a few bucks you can get a haiku, right?

500 Words on the Topic of Hellraisin’

My donors are so shy and unimposing.  I have a guess who one of them is, and if I’m right, he might like a word about cenobites…  Jeezis Shit, I just went searching for the origin of the quote “Sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me” and the entire internet thinks Rihanna came up with it.  I heard that shit in junior high and I’m forty-seven years old, so … time travel?  I was thinking, maybe Andrew Dice Clay, but that didn’t come back with anything.  Why can I imagine it in Woody Allen’s voice?  Somebody help me.

Anyway, sexy menace.  Tearing your soul apart as a euphemism for the ecstasy of orgasm.  Chains and blades and hooks with a life of their own.  The black-eyed priests and nuns and less specifically gendered clergy of Hell, in sexy leather clothes, ready to give you the business.  You know you want it.

Something about the cenobites from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (original story Hellbound Heart) is just sooo iconic.  They are gods among monsters.  I’d love to come up with something that hits the same way, but is it possible?  Is that kind of idea just lightning in a bottle?  Were they a Platonic Ideal just waiting in the realm of Forms, and Barker just happened to be the first guy to pluck them from that airy plane?

There’s the seeker.  Frank “Come to Daddy” Cotton and his ilk.  Somebody chasing a high that can only be found in transgression, and there’s never enough.  Then there’s the box.  Beautiful, elegant, small, activated by touch, by curiosity.  The cracks in the world, admitting the power of Leviathan.

Then there’s the Apostles of Pain.  The cenobites.  Love those guys.  I’m not into S&M, not really, but the look of it all?  Very cool.  I like cool things.  I like the aesthetics.  Total poser, I know.  I remember being in The Metro on Seattle’s Broadway buying leather accoutrement, and the clerk asked, “Stocking up for a good time?”  I felt so uncool.  Whaddyagonnado?

I guess I could seek the box, do that fiddly hand jive, unlock the lament configuration, and get my cool on.  Or my flesh off, whichever happens first.  I’ll be like the doctor in Hellraiser II, “To think, I hesitated!”

I came up with the core of a formula for trying to arrive at the power of Icon in monster design.  Come up with Sinister Themes of the monster, Visual Motifs, Colors, Shapes, Textures, Powers, and Places associated with them.  You can see some mention of it here.  I still haven’t successfully used it to come up with anything interesting.  Just never got around to it.  Maybe on another one of these posts.

For now, this post will just be a note of admiration for the creation of a master.  Maybe when I’ve sold my screenplay for Gun Lemurs and made a bank full of money, I can buy the time to pursue my own immolation.  To earn that charisma.  Wish me luck?

1000 Words on the Role of Satan in US Religion

A donation with a topic, fantastic!  What is the role of Satan in current American religions?

What I want is a metaphor.  A role as a personified archetype.  To contemporary US christianity, is Satan a brother?  A gadfly?  A nemesis?  A lover?  Maybe we can arrive at this through observation.

To start with, few actually believe in Satan.  The first poll I could find says the number is closer to 60% than to 50% but I don’t fuckin’ believe it.  That’s belief from the mouth, from the top of the head in survey mode.  What’s in your heart?  Is there really a supernatural nemesis to your god’s designs, tempting people with forbidden pleasures?  Aside from me, I mean.

There’s an analog for that in something my bf told me about.  Somewhere on internet, republicans were grousing about the stolen election and a troll appeared to say, “Hahaha, I was a voting booth volunteer and I threw out millions of republican votes, teehee.”  They tutted at him like, “Oh you darn rascal,” but didn’t seem nearly as mad as they should be.  This is their boogeyman; this is what they believe happened.  Or do they?

Likewise rizzless stooge Candace Owens tut-tuts about the devilish queer menace of the Sam Smith-Kim Petras joke jam “Unholy,” but something in her performance is so lackluster.  Oh you kids, playin’ at satanisms.  You won’t think it’s so fun when the devil comes to collect his due, which is totally gonna happen…

I just don’t believe them.  I’m sure some smaller percentage of USians are for real about fearing The Adversary, but they’re too busy abusing children and stockpiling weapons to participate in polls.  Gods-peed, christian soldiers.  Anyway,

The Church of Satan have formalized this relationship.  You perform your belief in Satan and we’ll perform the part you have written for us.  It’s a shame the high-ups are just nazi fucks who tricked rebellious progressive types into paying for their vacations and incompetent pet lawyers, because they give lip service to promoting all the good things that US xtians despise.  But who cares even if they were actually cool?  They’re lesser court jesters with no impact on the larger society.  I just mention them here as a cultural phenomenon that shows how shallow the belief in Satan really is.

So what role does Satan play in modern US religion?  A less important boogeyman to keep children in bed.  A scarecrow that is absolutely covered in crow shit.  Nobody of consequence.  That cousin who you talk shit about but still invite to the party, maybe hoping they’ll do something scandalous for gossip fuel, but it just never happens.

I kid, I kid.  Hail me.

No, seriously, I’d like to personally freak every human being in the Unholy video except for the dirty dirty boy the song is about.  Hit me up Sammy.  But the end result is inarguably less cool than Lil’ Nas X’s performative unholiness.

On the other hand, Sam Smith and Kim Petras aren’t American Satans and Lil’ Nas X is, so…  I am reminded now, thinking about African Americans, of the expression, “Not today, Satan.”  It’s a way to dismiss the temptation to act the fool, I think usually through violence.  Satan can be in the person tempting you to “go upside their head,” or maybe just be the part of one’s self that feels temptation.

This is one key difference between Satan in US christianity and Satan in, say, US judaism.  In judaism it seems like HaSatan is a figure from the past, or a metaphor, or just generally unimportant.  In christianity (as practiced more than in the book itself), he’s an omnipresent mirror image of god.  Similar powers, only differing in that Satan is destined to lose at the end of time.  At least for some people, Jesus is there when you wanna be a good boy; Satan is there when you are drunk or jackin’ it or whatever.

I guess the belief in both is pretty situational.  A christian is more likely to feel like Satan is real if they were exposed to bad situations.  I’m culturally christian, much as I reject that entire deal, and it colors my perception of evil when I encounter it.  I’d like to reverse that in my head.  Why should an anti-christ see devils as evil?  Brainwashing, man.  Like when I sip my pop during the “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” shit before movies.  (For more on my feelings about deviltry, see this article.)

There are some who believe we’re in a new era of “Satanic Panic.”  Looking over the article on the ’80s version, I don’t buy that.  QAnon definitely takes a lot of cues from that era, but it doesn’t get serious play on mainstream TV.  Fox might like to fondle the Q balls, but they couldn’t bring themselves to work the shaft.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are no cases recently where conspiracy theorists have managed to prosecute people for trafficking christian babies out of pizza parlors, without getting laughed out of the courtroom.  Nothing on the order of the McMartin preschool trial.

But maybe we can get there.  The republican parts of the USA are drowning in wild garbage ideas, with no light to be seen.  So getting back to my original aim, taking all these things into account, what role does Satan play?  The wall non-fundies will have their back against when fevered right wingers start shooting again?  Windmill giants to their Don Quixotes?

My personification of Satan must be a cipher, a passive figure onto which ideas are projected.  A scapegoat?  A ghost.  A person who exists more as an idea than an entity.  Let’s say religious America is an abandoned child, who wonders about her parents, builds theories about them.  Daddy God must be good, Mommy Satan must be the wicked harridan who left you in that garbage can behind the church.  One day Daddy will find you and set things right.  One day you will find Mommy and make her suffer.

Satan is whoever you want her to be, America.

100 Words on Metamorphosis

Got a donation with a suggested topic I don’t quite understand.  I wonder if it’s a sex thing.  Phrased, “A butterfly/artist go-lightly. ;-),” it contains evocative words.  I got evoked.  Let me answer it as impressionistically as it hits me…

A butterfly, an artist, go lightly between lives, between colors, between forms. Yea tho any given moment be as solid as a chrysalis, what lies within is the fluid that bridges one unknowable state and the next.

Know me now?  Think again.  Know me in another minute?  Keep guessing.  My love and my passion are colors of light that oscillate through bandwidths beyond your limitations.  Transmutation, alchemy, coagulation, dissolution, thesis and synthesis, these words are pathetic feints at the meaning that underlies my life.  Take my heart if you dare.

This has been a metaphor for butt stuff.  Thank you.

200 More Words on the Topic of GMing

Baseball dude Ken Griffey Jr. once did a rap with Seattle rapper Kid Sensation which referred to piece-of-shit Damon Wayans classic In Living Color character Homey D. Clown’s catch phrase “Homey don’t play that.”  I’ll always remember this, tho it sux tremendous: “Girls with attitude, yo, don’t even say that. Forget about it homey, cuz Griffey doesn’t play that.”

Speaking of girls and play, my BF had a funny anecdote from the Who’s-Gonna-GM Wars.  Went to play D&D with some relative strangers and one of them had a new GF who didn’t really understand the game, and ended up GMing.  First interaction:

Baby GM: “There’s a door in the hall.”
PC: “I open it.”
Baby GM: “OK.”
PC: “What’s in there?”
Baby GM: “How should I know?”

I heard about a better GFGM who rolled a random encounter with a giant gar in a hallway, and not knowing a gar is a fish until after the beast made its appearance, conceded that it must already be dead.  Free XP.

Do GFs always suck at GMing?  Of course not.  Just how things shook out for us.  Ladies who have GM’d for bro-ish PC groups, how did it go for you?

200 Words on the Topic of Game Masterin’

Got another donation with no suggested topic, here’s the words for dollas, tho my micro-thesis derails at the end:

Who’s gonna Game Master this time?  What do you do when everybody wants to play but nobody wants to GM?  This is why DMPCs exist, Dungeon Master Player Characters, from the D&D-centric term for a Game Master.  It’s the compromise – I’ll DM if I can also play.

I do this, though it is a challenge.  Worse GMs will make their guy the center of the universe and get the kids mad.  Not my problem.  My characters become small, barely present support characters, because I’m too busy populating the world with everybody else that needs to be there.  Still, nice to have a little dolly to dress up in +2 Armor of Gingham at the end of the day.

I wanna share this RPG sesh I did on a forum, about vampire dudes who used to be druggies in life, relapsing into villainy.  I was DMPCing the character Darren, who is kind of a Sid Vicious/Kurt Cobain intersection.  The formatting breaks if you don’t read it at a certain zoom distance, and there are a lot of references to the game setting and events that won’t make sense, but there are parts that still make me deathLOL years later…

500 Words on the Topic of My Pants

Thanks Siggy for this donation.  Topic: a personal story, in my usual way.

MY PANTS

Faded or torn-up blue jeans occasionally rear their ugly head in fashion, and I have worn them far more times in the past than they have been fashionable.  When the holes were big enough and the weather cold enough, I’d wear those off-white thermal underwear underneath ’em.  You know, long johns.  Don’t google those unless you wanna see lots of manly packages and possibly some erections as well; they’ve become a fetish thing.  But yeah, this was the uniform for the lower half of my bod, at one point in time.

But they ain’t cool in my book if they didn’t get faded through actual wear.  Start with some medium blue jeans, wear them til they fall to pieces, shaggy strings all over like a Komondor.  And when should you wear scrubbly clothes?  When doing scrubbly activities.  During the latter part of my time in college I was living with my dad while he tried to make a living as a painter.  When he was desperate and needed some unpaid labor to squeak through a job he’d under-bid, he had me.  That foolish mess paid our rent, my freelance arting did not.

There’s a block of businesses in Seattle that my dad got hired to paint. Some of the lessees chose the color for their little slice of the building, but the rest of the behemoth was up to the property owner.  At first she picked out a color on the rose side of beige, but when the building was almost completed, she said hey, wait, that’s titty pink.  What was I thinking?  So she had my dad start over again with something in the ballpark of gingerbread house.

So I’m helping my dad paint a big-ass building when it isn’t raining.  For slave labor it wasn’t bad, or maybe I got rose glasses on.  My dad was much stronger than I am at the time, not to mention having the relevant job skills, so he did most of the hard stuff and I just moved hoses and tarps around, did a little brushwork.  The weather was mild and you could hear kids rolling skateboards around all day.  A local pizza place made good, passably cheap stuff at that time.

But where the jeans were the most blown out, at the knees, I got some brown paint there.  You see brown specks or splashes on a garment outside of a context where there is definitely paint happening, the most generous interpretation is that they are mud stains.  You can figure what some people thought.

I don’t know what I was smoking at the time, but I gave the perceptions of others zero thought, and wore my stained jean/long john combo everywhere I went.  One time up on Capitol Hill this rough-hewn unhoused dude looked at me like I was the worst kind of poser.  I think he audibly huffed, might have cursed?  I didn’t wear them for long after that.  Even without specifically phrased feedback, I got the memo.

1000 Words on the Topic of Teeth

Got a donation for $100 with nothing I could interpret as a topic, but I wanna earn my $700, so here’s 1000 words on… The Tooth.  The Tooth!

The German word for toothbrush is Zahnbürste, which literally translates into toothbrush. But to me “bürste” sounds like an explosion, so my mind, which cannot “speak” German after years of trying to fuck with that in duolingo, translates the word halfway and gets to “tooth burst.”

Teeth might as well burst.  So fragile.  At least, if you don’t do right by them.  I can’t handle the tooth.  I grew up in a dysfunctional family, and my parents never made hygiene part of my routine.  When your kids say “I don’t wanna,” the answer should probably not be, “Fine.  Rot in your filth while I read romance novels or smoke drugs.”  We didn’t get a lot of sugar because the parents didn’t let us choose what we were eating much, so my teeth held out pretty well in the face of never getting brushed.  At first.

Flash forward to an even more dysfunctional situation as mom is out cheating, using lunch money to get out of having to prepare food.  (Don’t even ask why dad wasn’t preparing food lol.)  So we got to choose what we were eating, and the sugar began.  Pop, candy, still with terrible hygiene, equals dental wreckage.

Years later, my dad tried to make up for letting that situation happen, by working out a deal with a dentist.  He painted the guy’s house for a break on services rendered, and that guy spackled my mouth with fillings, yarded the unsalvageable stuff out of the back of my jaw.  Clean slate!  I was ready to start a brand new future of sorta having teeth again.  There was a word of warning.  “Some of these fillings really shoulda been crowns.  This work will only hold up for so long…”

It did hold up a real long time.  That dentist was a real craftsman.  But time’s arrow goes one direction, and passed through my mouth along the way.  It’s like in a cartoon where Tom the cat’s teeth all crack to pieces and fall out of his mouth for yuks, but slow motion.  I’ve had dreams about my teeth falling out before.  An interesting thing about those dreams is the strong sense of taste and touch.  I can feel the texture of my teeth with my tongue, feel the liquid sensation of blood and drool going down my throat or coming out of my mouth.  I can taste the saltwater and iron of the blood in my mouth, very richly.  I’m not even panicking about it, usually just like, “at least now I can get dentures and be done with the whole fucking deal.”

But I’m not there yet.  It’s just more piecemeal work.  Drill drill fill fill.  Bzzzzz.  My teeth are not ready for prime time; they do not look good.  Kinda passable at a distance.  As I began to make more video, I’ve been wondering if I should get veneers, make the front look nice. But applying them requires shaving some enamel, and I can’t afford to lose any of the structure I have left.

People always use “root canal” as a symbol for the ultimate experience in grueling pain. This is far from accurate.  You get anesthetic so it doesn’t hurt while you’re getting it, then they literally kill the nerves that are the source of dental pain, so it doesn’t hurt coming out of it.  Give me a mouth full of root canals.  I fucking love ’em.  Why in hell do we need nerves in our teeth?  They’re bullshit, yard ’em out.

I always iron-man dental sessions.  Transit is a snip for me because I can’t drive (too gay), so the more work can be done in fewer sessions the better.  I was at the dentist for hours on the day I started this fundraiser, which is why my judgement was too impaired to just set up a fucking payment plan until they’d already run my card.

Oops, now it’s time to do some verbal soft shoe for the people.  But you deserve it.  FtB still has a commentariat, a following, and while a fraction of what it possessed in the halcyon days, it’s something.  And it’s you, so thanks for reading!  I’ll keep writing ten words per dollar you donate.

Here’s a wacky tooth-related piece of trivia about my life:  If I had gotten my teeth fixed sooner, I might have ended up in a long-term relationship with a young lady, which might have saved her from alcoholism.

I recognized a sexual flexibility in myself and it seemed like it was just easier for gay guys, so I vowed that if I didn’t get a regular girlfriend again by the time I was thirty, I’d go gay.  Shortly before I turned thirty, I hadn’t gotten my teeth fixed yet, so I was too self-conscious to kiss people.  I had a date with this nice girl, at her house, watchin’ movies for hours.

Was it a date?  We hadn’t used those words.  But if a lady gets you in her room, hanging out on her bed for hours, probably she would like you to kiss her at some point.  Not a given, but a distinct probability.  If I had kissed her, we might’ve started dating.  I didn’t, we didn’t, and a little while later I had my dental work done.

I called her up and was like, hey, wanna go out some time?  She said, “I’m with a guy now.”  We chat for a bit and it comes out that their idea of a good time is getting drunk.  She wasn’t into that before she got with this guy.  So if she’d gotten with me instead, less alcoholism in the world?  Maybe.

About then the clock had run out and it was time for me to be gay.  Been happy with the same guy ever since.  The end.

1000 Words on the Topic of Something That Amuses Me

I’m going to write 1000 words now on something that amuses me.  I came up with the name for this fundraiser while I was in the dentist chair, and told my dentist about it.  She was amused, said, “Well, it’s all about getting attention.”  That it is, but it can also be about yuks.

Inspired by this financial predicament and my funny little idea, I scribbled the banner image in a notebook, right there in the car.  Here’s the drawing, snapped with my cellphone camera later that night:

I snagged the banner from my last fundraiser to get an idea of the proportions I needed to squeak it into, using that as the foundation in photopea.  It was tricky.  First order of business, I had to scale the self-portrait to fit the right end of the banner well, not get cut off too awkwardly.

Next I stretched a copy of the title to fit the space left to it, leaving room above and below for the words I meant to add later with a text tool.  This did not fill the space with my hatchy background texture right, so I used a combo of distorted duplicate layers and the clone tool to fill the area around the words.

You may have noticed the title is blurred subtly toward the left side of the image.  If this was not meant to look like a sketchy pile of shit, I would have taken a new photo of the image to get past that.  However, sketchy style, stuff can look rough.  I copied a layer and did unsharp mask until it looked more legible, which blew out the other end of the pic.  Then I used a quickie layer mask to make only the part I wanted look crisped.

At this point, my boyfriend would be preserving every layer, but I get refrigerator blindness when I see a bazillion layers, so I merged that shit.

Next comes text.  I like something in the ballpark of horror novel cover fonts, circa the early 80s.  So Benguiat -esque.  Photopea’s collection of I-presume-legally-public-domain fonts does not include Benguiat, and this one was kinda sorta close enough.  I did it bold, but it didn’t look bold enough, so I added a one pixel stroke in the same color as the font.  I used outer glow instead of drop shadow, changing it to a dark color and blending style, to make the white font pop from the predominantly white page.

Remember the floating star from the original photo?  I was thinking ahead when I drew that.  I knew I wanted to make it white and splash it around the finished image.  One of my “Great American Satan” bits of iconography is the five point star of the american flag, inverted to resemble the goat pentagram of satanism.  I made a layer of pure white and copy-pasted the star into a layer mask on it.  I adjusted the levels to remove most of the background, then brushed out the rest in a few seconds.  I applied the layer mask, and voilà, little star.

Then I carefully scaled it and put it into parts of the image where it wouldn’t interfere with the composition.  A little dark glow to make them pop, and I really liked the end result.  The scratchy pen strokes have almost a 3d quality to them.

Oh, and one last thing.  The color of the image at this point was a slightly pukey pink-grey-brown.  I made a red white and blue gradient layer, then scrolled through blend styles until I found one I liked, then reduced the opacity a little, to get the subtle americana look of my beauteous masterpiece.

This image amused me a lot.  The idea for the name amused me, and the image turned out great, at least to my eyes.  The drawing aspect isn’t brilliant.  My skills are a bit degraded from lack of use.  No, not because I’ve been doing AI.  Just because I don’t have an ideal space for drawing, and my vision is getting worse, and I’ve been busy with lots of other things – particularly writing.  But the drawing didn’t have to be great.  It’s a scratchy mess in a scratchy mess.

That’s a bit shy of a thousand words, so maybe a bit more about how I’ve done as an artist, throughout my life.  I used to be among the best few artists in my high school of about 2000 students, which gave me a big head.  I came to art school, and I was only in the top 20%, which was a bit humbling.  Then, as part of that education and practice, I started paying closer attention to the artwork I like, and comparing myself to the greats.

That was very humbling.  Enough to make me decide, hey, I don’t even wanna bother competing with that.  There’s this philosophy espoused by the H. Jon Benjamin character Coach McGuirk, on the old cartoon Home Movies, goes something like, “Why bother to do anything if you’re not immediately good at it?  Playing guitar is hard.  Martial arts are hard.”  I was only willing to do what it takes to be skilled at art as long as it wasn’t difficult.  When it came to the big leagues, I was like, eh, minor league is good enough for me.

Maybe this is projection, but I think everybody does this, and the greats of art just had more talent to start with than I did.  For them, it was easy, the same way I had enough talent to coast past a few thousand other kids, once upon a time.  Years of practice helps.  I have no doubt that many of my fellow high schoolies could have spent a decade of discipline getting better than me if they had the time and inclination.  But the discipline to get good at something through effort is a much rarer quality than raw talent itself.

But in the words of ZZ Top, I might be mistaken.

500 Words on the Topic of Gratitude

One of my donors mentioned their gratitude for my writing, so here’s a little on that:

It’s nice to be acknowledged, that this blog isn’t just a repository for my random thoughts, a standard issue howl into the void of my own eventual demise, whatever.  OK, it’s also that, but it’s also that thing they’re calling “content.”  It’s a service I usually provide for free.  Or is my pay in the moments when somebody shows appreciation in some small way?

So this is my little way of saying I’m grateful for your contributions to the odd fundraiser, but also for whatever participation you show here, such as comments.  I may not agree with everything you say, may not always have time to respond, but I am glad I engaged somebody.  I may have mentioned this before, but your comments are often more thoughtful than my posts, and add value to them.  Also, even when you don’t comment?  If you read you become part of that blip on the traffic statistics, and that’s nice too.

Here I am, Great American Satan, content creator.  Blogginator.  Artist.  High-falutin’ intrallectural.  I falute highly of my own intrallect, for the benefit of ye all.  Oh yeah, and someday, I just might make good on my threats to self-publish a novel.  You’ve been warned.

Actually, I did post a novel here once, and somebody actually read it!  Grateful for that.  It wasn’t short either.  That shit was like 140,000 words.  I cannot believe she read that.  By the way, that was an FtBlogger by the handle of Voyager.  Muchas gracias.  I wonder if WMDKitty ever finished it?

Either way, thanks for showing up.  At my day job, I am routinely confronted with the gulf between human social need in the world and the emotional generosity to fulfill it.  This cuts close to home in other ways.  Sometimes the content of this blog can get kinda dark, and for their own sakes, I don’t share it with the sad people in my own life.  But that means I’m not sharing it with anybody but you.

And even when I’m not writing about something grim, people from my own life tend to not be very interested in what I write on here.  I’m not sure why that is.  Somebody close to me has complained that it’s hard to get anybody they know to read what they write, and I connected these with something I’d heard about Brad Pitt.  Rather, Brad Pitt’s friends and family.

I’ve read that while he’s some kind of Special Fancy Adonis to the masses, to his friends and family, he is unremarkable.  He’s just that guy they know.  Essentially, Art, Ideas, Important Things are the stuff that strangers do, people outside of our own lives.  If somebody you know is doing some kind of creative work, well, it must not be that special or interesting, because you know them.  Make sense?

Which brings me at last to this:  Thanks for not knowing me!