RIP to Harry P fans, but…

…I’m different, as the meme goes.  You know we’re two minutes to tumblr bios that read “Terflepuff” “Terffyndor” and such, right?  I’ve never been so glad to avoid all fandom shit like the plague.  (This post may seem frivolous given our political moment, but bear with me.)  I feel the worst for people who let that stuff replace xtianity in their liberal hearts.

Cultural Potterians.  People who related every incident of moral importance in the news to ostensible lessons or wisdom found within the holy texts.  People who invested twenty years of their young lives framing everything they encountered in terms of baby wizards and their foes.

Good luck replacing your religion guys.  I really do mean that.  If you went that far in the first place, you’re the kind of person who really does feel most comfortable having a bedrock fiction to believe in.  Maybe look into Unitarian Universalism or one of the progressive xtian denominations out there.

The original version of this post over on my tumblr account ended with saying that nihilism is the alternative for those brave enough to free themselves from the need for comforting narratives.  This being an atheism-themed blog network, I feel the need to retool that, but to say atheism is an alternative rings false, when all the mainstream atheist orgs are represented by intellectually shallow creeps that avoid the darker aspects of facing reality by replacing it with evopsych justifications for culturally xtian biases and comforts.

Anyway, on the FtB, I like to think we know better than to hold up heroes of any kind.  It’s safer than having stars which can fall, when you get used to it.

EDIT TO ADD:  Given FtB’s recent output, maybe the alternative to comfortable fictions is collecting or creating knives.  Blacksmithing is unavailable to those of us living in apartments, but maybe we could make shivs and brickbats.  Yeah…

Interview With The Artist

My colleague Mr. Beast wrote a really positive article on his writing blog, When No One Cares About Your Writing.  It’s about finding the motivation to continue writing when discouraged – or indeed making any kind of art.  The article is useful because it shows that a person without self-esteem or hope can still find motivation.  Worth a read

 

 

Great American Satan:  And worth a discussion.  Welcome back to my blog, Beast.  Long time no see.  How’s the celebrity life been treating you?

drawing of the Beast from Seattle, a blue devil

 

 

The Beast from Seattle:  Pretty wild, but I’m hanging in there.

GAS:  Nice, nice.  Save some cocaines for me.  Oh, before we get into this, I understand you wanted to say a little about your writing blog and the motivation behind it.

BfS:  I’d always planned to do something like this, but never got around to it until recently.  With the quarantine, I thought people might appreciate some encouragement and advice about writing.  Also saves me a bit of time so I don’t have to re-explain my suggestions when I talk to people.  Just beforehand I’d been going through some writing e-courses I got in a bundle and was incredibly disappointed with the content.  None of it was about actual writing, just marketing and getting published.

GAS:  I recall you complaining about that at length.  Writing that positions itself as being about how to write, in practice being about nothing but commerce.  Capitalisms, babey.

BfS:  Guess that’s what sells the classes.  My hope was to make posts that are actually helpful and to the point.

GAS:  Fangtastic.  Meanwhile, let’s talk about your newest joint.  The article proceeds from the assumption that no one cares about us – the readers.  That’s brilliant I think because for a lot of people positivity is just not believable.

A lot of “encouraging” articles and media proceed from the idea that the only possible motive is hope, and try to instill it.  I remember assemblies about self esteem and bullying from back when I was in high school that just felt like bullshit.  Not believable, therefore not useful.

BfS:  Also, I don’t know people’s lives; there are plenty of people out there who might literally have no one who cares about their writing.  Nothing more dejecting than looking up advice for a real problem that insists it’s not real.

GAS:  Exactly!  False positivity is a real problem.  I think Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-sided has something to do with that.  Never got around to reading it.  But the point – of fucking course a lot of us have no one who cares about us.  Literally not a soul.  A lot of us are not attractive or interesting or smart or cool.  Where’s something the abject of the world can believe in?

BfS:  Well, it sounds corny to say ‘believe in yourself,’ but even if you have abysmal self esteem, you could maybe still figure out how to entertain yourself & take care of yourself as much as you’re able to.

GAS:  Do you mind if I spoil your article?  Take its main points and discuss each.

BfS:  Heck, why not.

GAS:  The article goes through reasons to create in the face of universal disinterest.  Point One: A sense of accomplishment.  This is a bit of an old canard, but in the context of this article it is freshened up.  Most people think “sense of accomplishment” and they assume some kind of reward will come with that.  What if the accomplishment is all you have to show for yourself?

BfS:  I compared it to making an elaborate recreation of architecture in Minecraft or making a difficult risotto.  Why do that at all? Because there can be personal satisfaction in doing a feat of skill, or just doing something productive when you weren’t being forced to.  Even if the only bragging rights you get are with yourself, it can still feel good.

GAS:  Still, for some people pride is unachievable.  This point is a little weaker on that count, I feel.  Am I wrong?

BfS:  Well, there’s still sort of a bar to clear in getting anything done at all.  I don’t know if I have the chops to encourage someone who can barely take a shower to also get their writing done.  Still, it’s an activity you can do on your own, without much physical requirements or help from other people.

GAS:  Not to shoot it down.  I’m sure it would work for a lot of people.  But I do believe you wrote your points in order of ascending strength.  Point two: Make your art to build your skill.  Not a bad one.  If you’re going to do something, getting better at it is surely worthwhile.  Again, what if someone finds it hard to be proud of a skill?  Well, it still has use.  But then, what if they are – for whatever reason – incapable of getting better?  You’ve seen artists who stagnate for decades, yes?

BfS:  I included that reason because a lot of people still haven’t absorbed the ‘all first drafts are shit’ mantra, and get very dejected by not having beautiful prose straight out of the gate.  I think just about everyone will get better with practice unless they’re being hindered by ‘if it’s not perfect why bother,’ and not working on polishing rough drafts.

Sometime I might write about the fallacy of the notion of talent, especially in regards to writing.  A lot of people give up on writing because they feel like they’re not talented, and it must be much easier for more practiced writers.  I suppose if someone is incapable of feeling like they’re improving, or incapable of feeling good about improving, they’d have to move on to my next point.  😛

GAS:  I do feel like your last point was the strongest – the one that stands up the best, can be used as encouragement for a creator with zero self esteem for real.  The point is that you can create art that is perfect for yourself, and thus entertain yourself in the future.

Now you and I have both done this – read our own writing, with some distance of time, and been greatly amused by it.  But I was thinking of another example just now.  What about the artist whose crude work is miles from getting to where they’ll actually like it?

To that guy I say this: Your fave artists can make better art than you, maybe they always will, but they’ll never be able to draw your favorite fetish perfectly.  You can create the clown-paint alpaca with a bouquet of horse cocks in place of its head that you want to see in the world.

BfS:  Haha, I suppose that’s one way to put it!  Besides just hyper-specific content, your own writing can have your preferred amount of tension, your sense of humor.  The trickiest part to realizing this goal of entertaining yourself, is breaking free from the desire to write to please others, and to write the ‘correct’ way.  As long as you know what you were trying to say, it doesn’t matter if it’s chock-full of typos and grammar mistakes.

GAS:  This last point I was interested in seeing expanded.  What happens when we aim only to entertain ourselves?  Even a professional writer with an audience of millions might have secret writing – something only for them.  I’m probably still thinking about fetishes here, but bear with me.

BfS:  Heh, surely.

GAS:  I was thinking of that seriously.  If you change the goal of art to a wholly private and self-motivated endeavor – and I admit this is very off topic – how does that change the rules?  Henry Darger of course comes immediately to mind.

BfS:  I don’t think it needs to change the rules that much.  (Almost) no one is so aberrant that there isn’t someone out there who would enjoy their weird stuff.  I know I’d sure like to read Darger’s books if they put it out there.  I think the biggest change is that one could take a lot of shortcuts because they would understand what they meant more easily than an outsider would.

GAS:  Outsider is the word.  What shortcuts would you take, understanding your own internal meaning?  I think the reason shorthand had to be formalized for secretarial work is that any given shorthand we create on the fly could be forgotten by us at a future time.

BfS:  Oh certainly.  Anyone who’s done programming/scripting knows how quickly inadequate comments can leave you scratching your head as to what the hell you were thinking.  I think for myself, I’d still probably hew to typical fiction standards, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  I might still be willing to drop plotlines when I grew bored of them and pick them up wherever seemed interesting.  I believe Darger did some ‘reboots’ of his plotlines, and big digressions about anthropomorphized tornados.  Gotta admit though, I would still be interested to read that.

GAS:  Darger, for people who don’t know, was a private guy with a menial job who was discovered posthumously to have written a truly massive and very peculiar illustrated novel. Sadly the people who gained conservatorship of it have never released the bulk of the text, so we don’t get to see just what he did – with the freedom of feeling like nobody else was ever going to read it.

BfS:  It’s a shame that his work was discovered by the art world instead of a publisher.

GAS:  Yep.  People like Matthew Barney that wanna gatekeep art to those with deep pockets.  Whatever to them.  We can all be our own Henry Dargers and make fucked up art for ourselves.  Last question – any chance you’d let us know what your own “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion” would look like?

BfS:  Haha, that’s a bit private, isn’t it?  Well, to whatever degree I haven’t shared unfinished writing, we could consider it all my Realms of the Unreal until I do.

GAS:  And if you even dropped a hint on us here, that would instantly steal it away from that special place.  Well thanks for visiting the show.

BfS:  No problem, thanks for having me.

GAS:  Alright folks, when we get back from commercial, enjoy The Barenaked Ladies!

Ghost Pangolin Breath

I’m sure there’s a billion people in china that don’t go in for medical woo that involves slurping down nature’s rare wonders. I just wanted to say to the other ones, this is not the recommended use for chopsticks motherfuckers.

To be honest I find the idea covid entered humans via pangolin consumption a little suspect, if only because it seems tailor-made to appeal to aggrieved environmentalists like myself. It is an evocative idea, isn’t it?

Under the Sign of the Rabbit

I got this job about a year ago.  Used to see rabbits about every day there.  Less so in the winter, but I still see them sometimes.  On the way to catch the bus in the dark, the streetlights silhouette a tree stump making it look like a rabbit.  Above is the moon.  Across the ocean there’s some people who say there’s a rabbit in that celestial body.  Stopped to get a new litterbox for my cat.  The place in the store that normally has cats to adopt only had rabbits.  My favorite movie of 2019 had prominent rabbits.  This wasn’t that movie, but it’s a pretty good depiction of the mood in life.

Instead of Star Wars, Watch This

Spoiler Warning: for a forty year old Z-grade italian movie

Starcrash! You can see it on Youtube probably illegally, or on Amazon. Like Message From Space, it’s a scifi space adventure with fantasy elements that came out the same year as Star Wars. In the case of Starcrash, it was blatantly a dashed off attempt to cash in on the success of the more expensive film. It even includes a knockoff jedi character with absolutely zero explanation for how or why has “powers” such as messing with electricity, resisting lasers, and seeing the future. His lightsaber doesn’t show up until the end of the second act and again has no explanation.

But is it better or worse to not have jedi explained? The deeper we get into Star Wars lore, the more shit like midichlorians we get. The more powers are shown that people find goofy, overpowered, or annoying. You get force ghosts that can do so much they might as well still be alive, which makes death a lot less dramatic.

Starcrash is bad and Italian. I don’t know if the director Luigi Cozzi was fascist, but the way the show was run did inspire communist crew to steal the final print and hold it for ransom. The biggest star in it was Christopher Plummer doing a performance so bad that it’s very well known he was just in it for a free trip to Rome. He seems stoned in a very particular way, which makes me wonder if he was on the same shit as Bill Shatner back in the ’60s.

There’s mention of scanning a planet with “computer waves” within the first few minutes of the film. The hero is Caroline Munro dressed like Vampirella. The robot is a cowboy. There’s a green guy whose face paint keeps rubbing off. There’s a sub-harryhausen giant fembot controlled by the laser brains of a space-amazon. There’s italian space-cannibals flying through the air. There’s a David Hasselhoff space-prince. There’s just a space-lot to space-recommend this.

Oh, and spoiler: There’s a happy ending.

Cyberpunk Creativity

We live in a cyberpunk dystopia. Some people might quibble because there aren’t enough lazertacular synth pop jams and airbrush art, but they just haven’t looked at the right spots on Bandcamp and Soundcloud and such. It is the time for cyberpunk. Cyberpunk comes out of rebellion against oppression – corporate fascist oppression trying to turn us all into burnt out zombie consumers, laboring on treadmills until our bones grind to a halt, heads plugged into virtual reality to avoid the sad sight of the lives they have left to us.

Disney has always been at the vanguard of oppression in the creative sphere, and have finally cemented their monopoly status. Epcot Center is The Death Star for vital and socially relevant art. Pew pew. Kablooey. Nobody will be able to compete at their level. But what about making art below that level? What about tha streetz?

There was a time when Star Wars and comic book movies and such could be at least kinda liberal. The first Star Wars in particular was very much antifascist, even while it cribbed some imagery from Triumph des Willens. Now that the noose has tightened, we’ll see more playing it safe, more bland bullshit riding the creepy side of the political center – and never doing anything to offend the censors in Beijing while they’re at it.

What interests me is the potential for independent art to take the inspiration of those stories and use it to create something else. Nobody’s really tried to capitalize on the success of Star Wars with an equivalent spirit of fun and adventure since the various B movies around the first one. Shit like Ice Pirates and Starcrash. Nowadays all it would take to make a good funtimes antifa scifi adventure is for some theater kids from the fine art school to join forces with computer graphics fuckos from the commercial art school. Get on it, people.

Superhero stuff would be even easier because you could set it on modern-day earth and not have to create all your sets in CG. Chronicle had a budget of $12 million (peanuts to the studios these days), which was probably pretty heavily invested in the actors and Hollyweird apparatus. Not much of that budget made it to the screen – something like it could have been made for a lot less.

That’s just talking about the genres we’ve come to expect from the big boys. Horror and arthouse and all kinds of movies can get made if people get the gumption. Maybe all it will take is for Monopoly Mouse to keep disappointing our asses just a little longer. They’ve already inspired a massive wave of piracy. Classic cyberpunk. Now let’s see if they inspire some real art too.

¿Inktubres Conmigo?

Inktober with me? Last year when I did Inktober the results were really weird. But it’s a case of garbage in garbage out. I wanted to do the official Inktober prompts because I wanted to be official. But they were lazy and uninteresting, so at the same time I did the mythology prompts. My boyfriend said I should do legitimately Halloweenish content, and helped me generate a much better list of prompts for this year.

So, anybody interested? You do a drawing a day. Traditionally that was ink, but I really don’t care. You can do cosplay photography if you like. Each day of October there’s an iconic horror movie monster to draw. And below that list, a cloud of art styles you can use to spice up the image. One plus one. Will you draw Jason Voorhees in a rococo style? Dracula as a dog playing poker?

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THE INSTRUCTIONS:

Take the iconic horror movie character and render them in an art style you choose from the Style Cloud!  When an iconic monster has a group (such as Lost Boys), you can choose your fave.  When there are multiple movie depictions, you can choose your fave.

  • 01  Jason VoorheesFriday the 13th
  • 02  NosferatuNosferatu
  • 03  Carrie WhiteCarrie
  • 04  BeetlejuiceBeetlejuice – Beetlejuice
  • 05  JigsawSaw
  • 06  ChuckyChild’s Play
  • 07  GodzillaGodzilla
  • 08  The ChildrenVillage of the Damned
  • 09  PennywiseIt
  • 10  The TetheredUs
  • 11  Freddy KruegerNightmare on Elm Street
  • 12  ErikThe Phantom of the Opera
  • 13  CandymanCandyman – Candyman – Candyman – Candyman
  • 14  The Saeki FamilyJu-on
  • 15  Michael MyersHalloween
  • 16  The WolfmanThe Wolfman
  • 17  The XenomorphAlien
  • 18  PinheadHellraiser
  • 19  The NunThe Conjuring 2
  • 20  GhostfaceScream
  • 21  The Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • 22  Audrey IILittle Shop of Horrors
  • 23  The Lost BoysThe Lost Boys
  • 24  Gorilla Wolf MofosAttack the Block
  • 25  LeatherfaceTexas Chainsaw Massacre
  • 26  The MummyThe Mummy
  • 27  Regan MacNeilThe Exorcist
  • 28  Hannibal LecterSilence of the Lambs
  • 29  Bride of FrankensteinBride of Frankenstein
  • 30  Frankenstein’s MonsterFrankenstein
  • 31  DraculaDracula

    the Style Cloud

When a certain artist is named, they are just a stand-in for their style or spirit.  You can make take Kazuo Umezzu for Junji Ito, Lucian Freud for Egon Schiele.  Some categories are inclusive enough, you could range Hannah Barbera from Scooby Doo to the Flintstones.  Or choose a style not on the list.

Ghanaian Poster Art    Urban Art    Rap CD Art    Outsider Art    Looney Tunes    Rococo    Roman Dirge    Robert Crumb    Hernandez Brothers    Daniel Clowes    Saul Bass    Gibson Girl    Winsor McCay    Popeye    Stoner Art    Hanna Barbera    Caricaturist    Tumblrized    Furry Art    Disney Art    Mascot    Pee-Chee    Harry Clarke    Dictionnaire Infernal    John Tenniel    Struwwelpeter    Klasky Csupo    Max Fleischer    Spongebob Squarepants    Tim Burton    Batman: The Animated Series    Cartoon Network    Stevens Universe     Rage Comics    Egon Schiele    Surrealism    Chuck Tingle Cover    Romance Novel Cover    Jack Kirby    Rob Liefeld    Garfield    Strip Comics    The Far Side    Sailor Moon    Pokemon    Alfonse Mucha    Yoshitaka Amano    Cave Art    GrecoRoman Statuary    Faerie Art    Pop Art    Kitsch    Cubism    Mannerism    Impressionism    German Expressionism    Americana    Hieroglyphics    Ukiyo-e    Hindu Art    Mesoamerican Art     Paracas Art     Bayeux Tapestry    Illuminated    Saint Art    High Renaissance    Noir Comics     Dr. Seuss    Little Golden Book    Patrick Nagel    Lisa Frank    Airbrushed Van    Goosebumps Cover    Jack Chick    Audrey Kawasaki    Junko Mizuno    Junji Ito    Keith Haring    Louis Wain    James Audubon    Mad Magazine    Rumiko Takahashi    Nintendo    Castlevania    Joshua Timbrook    Jhonen Vasquez

If you want to participate, link to your art below!

Spoilery Thoughts on Next Black Panther

This contains spoilers for Avengers: Whatever Whatever and Spider Man: Far From Shabby.

So I found out while watching the new Spiderman movie on my b’day yesterday that the people who had been snapped out of existence by T. Hanos were de-snapped 5 years later having not aged a day. For the purposes of spidermanning, it meant some kids were younger than their little siblings, which is kinda funny. But I started to think about the ramifications for other parts of that world.

Wakanda lost a king and got a replacement that was immediately rocked by some turmoil. Then that king got snapped, along with half of Wakanda, after battling and losing against an alien Grimace. I can’t imagine the average Wakandan thinks highly of T’Challa given those events, and do think they’d be quick to blame it on T’challa opening the borders.

I know some of the Black Panther comics involved dealing with movements for Wakandan democracy, but haven’t read them and don’t know how they went. But it’s a really safe bet the next Black Panther movie is going to include some amount of that.

T’Challa is going to come back to a kingdom in some level of turmoil. Maybe his mom will be acting as a regent, maybe his sister be queening. Maybe they will have capitulated to some form of democracy or republic. And you know there will be an agitator who is xenophobic, maybe racist, pushing to become a strongman “reformer” …

What I’m saying is I’d like to see if they make a bad guy of an African Trump. I don’t know how I’d feel about that kind of character being held up as symbolic of democracy itself, opposed only by an ostensibly righteous monarchy. That’s a mess. But it might be funny to see that orange scrote lampooned in the film. What do you think?

Ophelia, Call the Police

I guess I’ll be the first person to reference this prominently on the internet. It is really hard to find anything about the movie “Us” on the web still. I hope that doesn’t mean people are sleeping on it. One of my few quibbles about its execution is that I wanted more, and that would only be possible with a bigger budget. It’ll be harder for Peele to get the kinda budget he deserves if this one doesn’t crush at the box office like it ought to.

Anyhow. Ophelia, call the police!


Watching “Us” Tonight

I’m watching “Us” tonight. And I won’t stop making nagging posts about it until everyone comments here that they’ve bought tickets or made plans.

EDIT – I saw it. My work week’s starting now-ish so I don’t know if I’ll get a full review in. It was a good time.