Thursday, December 29, 2011

short story: And They Will Try To Make Us Forget Ourselves

Somewhere, a barred, upwardly and keenly arched window of moderate size hangs in a stone alcove protruding over a lakeside view. And in that somewhere, two people walk-- as yet unknown to them-- in an oblique approach vector.
A 25 year old Caucasian and an 8 year old American Indian discover this during a strolling adventure one summer morning. Cassandra O’Brien, and her younger companion, La’Roba.
Woman and girl.
(Did you assume these characters are male?)
Cassie has been alone for a long time. Despite her dear friends and family she adores.
Not exactly alone. Of course, there are the doors. She dreams.
To be alone, or to feel alone— and be ok with it-- is to form and formulate solitude, to cultivate and curate solitariness.
As the difference between someone who has seen the sun and one who has not—or even one who can see and one who can not; there is an itinerant and inconsolable language barrier, an irascible incompatibility. Or maybe vice versa. Which, alas, has a way of intermittent isolation.
She dreams; not to be alone, but not to be alone.
When someone you know appears in your dream tableau, the character is actually an extension or piece of them. Whether deriving from them, your interpretation of them, or some variable combination… doesn’t matter. And like a ghost or spirit apparition, these personages are a kind of lingering residue or energetic impression of the living person.
Approaching that enigmatic window in the spirit of exploration, the two travelers look in and see several people of varying ages and races in a small storage room. These erstwhile souls have been trapped, they say; discarded by those whose dominion is a palatial hotel visible in the near distance behind that window.
The shining beacon beckons Cassie and La’Roba, hither.
Entering the main lobby, vast walls echo and reverberate in a thick, post-apocalyptic silence, born in the absence of people. Persisting their expedition further inward, Cassie is drenched, in a feeling more than a seeing, with a surreal incandescence… like heat waves flowing from hot ground. There is a distinct sensation of being in an alternate dimension— as if she and La’Roba had crossed into The Twilight Zone. Regardless of the profuse and profound oddity permeating this place, this felt more real and meaningful to Cassie than the waking world somewhere beyond those doors.
The little Indian girl stares in wide eyed wonder and excitement, a hint of a grin on her mouth, reflecting Cassie’s own eager expression.
Throughout the grand palace of a hotel, the décor emanates and emulates a sublimely majestic elegance. Composed in immaculate Victorian style architecture, blended with art-deco/ nouveau features. Along the way, they paused in their wandering to admire and appreciate the intricate detail in the craftsmanship and artistry of the ambiance — which, sadly, too often went passed by unremarked by passers by… as if nothing but background noise.
Golden hued walls, mustard yellow curtains and carpets sprinkled with florid royal red aurum patterns, finely carved wooden doors of white so bright they seemed luminescent, and intricately designed beige and mahogany tinted furniture— all adorned with cream garnishment and deep burgundy trimming.
Out of the magnificent bay windows displayed along the hotel front, could be seen a marvelous ovoid paved courtyard of earth tone colored cobble-stone, lined with exquisite foliage, circumnavigating a spectacular fountain. Everywhere inside, magnificent crystalline chandeliers brilliantly cascaded from the ceiling, like water from the pristine fountain out front, casually hovering; and ornate light fixtures sprung— no, sprouted-- from the walls to decorate them, like the flowers growing in that garden… lighting their path.
Bemused and befuddled, Cassie, the hallway reminded her of traversing a circus midway, and was struck by a smidge of nostalgia for her childhood.
Along the corridor into a grand and pristine ballroom, full of emptiness and desolate quiet, the travelers wander in an aimless urgency. Here, the upper half of the walls, above the fine wood paneling, feature alternating and equidistant red and white vertical stripes, with a row of white stars suspended horizontally in the red stripes— not unlike a circus or carnival tent. Crystal plates and drinking glasses are already arrayed on amber and maroon-laced table cloth; as if in preparation for anticipated visitors. Except for the cleanliness and presence of chairs positioned around tables with place settings, there was no indication that any one was home.
Or that anyone had been present in a long time. There was nothing in this grand hotel to validate any precious or precarious understanding of normalcy.
Startled, La’Roba and Cassie gaze in stunned astonishment to witness a group of people coming into the room and gathering around tables to find a seat, quite suddenly and without any warning or apparent prompting.
Even more peculiar than the mysterious arrival of the denizens is what they were wearing.
Which was nothing. These people were completely naked and clothing free.
Cassie had the vague notion, she may have over-dressed for this bizarre occasion.
No, wait, one person did have clothes on— an elderly woman in divine and fanciful attire.
An elegant white ball gown with reserved but glorious frill and plumage and gold piping; similar to the proliferate architecture, also seemingly of the Victorian era.
As the host approached, Cassie noticed the lady looks like her mother, who looks like an older Gwyneth Paltrow. In some peripheral compartment of her mind, Cassie is vaguely aware of faint calliope music twinkling above them, drifting in the space between… lightly drifting, swaying, where silence begins and ends. Simultaneously ubiquitous and obsequious.
La’Roba warily nudges closer to stand beside and slightly behind Cassie as the matron approached Cassie to greet them, and explain this oblique affair. She, the host, glided and gilded with regal grace and poise, beaming as serenely as a monarch.
All guests and attendees to the banquet were expected to expose themselves, body and soul—which included literally being nude. None of them seemed to think this nakedness objectionable.
But, being of the shy and self-conscious sort, Cassie hesitated, dubious… nervous. The host— Cassie’s mother-- was quite, though politely, insistent on the strange criteria. Her tone and demeanor indicated an innocent bafflement-- as if not understanding why this would be a problem. Although their gracious and graceful host paradoxically continued to keep her clothes on, clearly without any awareness of the obvious contradiction. To so brazenly and casually have her mother asking her to strip naked was weird for Cassie.
Inquiring as to what happens to those who decline or resist removing their clothes, the elder host informs her, in uncertain terms, that refusing to comply with the strict dress code would be considered extremely rude and untolerated.
If anyone insisted on being obstinate on this matter, they would not only be denied participation, but also be forcibly sent away… discarded, denied. Invitation rescinded.
When encountering an idea which challenges or contradicts what we believe or want to be so, a neurotransmitter triggers a defensive mindset that makes us resistant and repressive to ideas contrary to what we think we know. In such a discordant mental state, we become less receptive, less tolerant, less open minded about different and unusual and unexpected and undesirable things. By psychologically labeling the self as internal and the environment as external, we constrain our own neurochemical processes and experience a deluded and false disconnection. And the self-amplifying cycle of acceptance and acknowledgment, sustained by the daily choices in our interactions, is the chain-reaction that will ultimately eradicate feelings/ impressions of alienation and separation.
There is no such thing as a free choice while being emotionally attached to a belief system.
If we may achieve enough self-aware to realize this, we can truly work together to figure out what will benefit us most— individually and collaboratively; determine and understand what we really want (from ourselves, from others and from life).
The question is not whether our beliefs are exactly right or wrong, true or false, but— more importantly-- whether or not being emotionally attached to (or bound by) them is more or less likely going to benefit us, and to what extent. It occurs to Cassie how much we use clothing to confine us; fostering gender bias and conformity. We hide so much behind our clothes. We look outside ourselves to find what to think of ourselves.
Women may wear a man’s clothes in this day and age, generally without proclaiming delinquency, impudence or vulgarity, but men… for some inarticulate and unspecified non-reason— it is not socially acceptable or decent in mainstream venues for men to wear women’s clothes. This may give the impression or illusion that women are more at liberty in their options and choices.
But the secret, unspoken truth is that men have implicitly granted women permission to wear men’s clothing… either to make women seem more like men, or to appeal to male preferences. Females are allowed such discretion and latitude so that men might have pretty things to look at, and to lust after, to adorn and reward themselves with. In American society, it is regarded as ok for a girl to be a tomboy, but not for a boy to be girl-like (a tomgirl?).
When a man must dress up— professionally or for some special occasion-- they are expected and constricted to wear a suit… dull and austere. With that, a man is made just a suit… you're a zombie, there's no self-expression. There's no individuality or diversity within that. So it's either the men blend in and become a common suit, or revert to the more diversified fashion of your teens or 20s (a time before you are expected to be and dress like an adult). Women, however, not only have a vast and versatile variety of styles and colors to choose from, they also get to wears men’s clothes!
If she thought about it, Cassie would rage at the constantly imposed helplessness and secondariness and otherness of simply being female in this ridiculous world of hyper-masculinity. Relegated as a component/ opponent or adjunct or accessory to The Male. The fantasy trope of Monster & maiden is representative of this mode: the male is depicted as deformed, damaged, inhuman; while the female is portrayed as beautiful, normal, fully human.
And although this could be interpreted as a feminist perspective, Cassie might say— idealizing the female superior over the male, it is, at its inception, typically implemented as male driven fantasy. Or farce? Because inside this fantasy projection, the female is still traditionally constructed as submissive, subordinate, and secondary to male characters.
And who is the magician’s lovely assistant meant to distract and appeal to, if not the (heterosexual) men in the audience? And when a female led film fails at the box office, do we conclude that the writing or directing was poor? Well, professing that female led movies are innately bad would clearly be idiotic.
Our society values women for their beauty, and men for their utility. Our fictions have ostracized and estranged the female against and apart from the male. Indeed, Nietzsche’s renown negative opinion of women (with the exception of Lou Andreas Salomé) isn’t from a dislike of women, per se, but in women as they were historically composed in our patriarchal world… as a male dominated society has made them.
But sexism and gender bias are equally limiting for males as to females.
Culture is a kind of public schooling; a prison for your mind, and it's a travesty-- Cassie would also insist-- that we routinely and cavalierly do this conditioning to our children.
John D. Rockefeller is famous for having said, "I don't want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers." --people who follow directions, who are able to stay in one place for about eight hours a day, and who fear authority, and are willing to endure mundane monotony or sell their dreams & souls for a price.
The idea that we test kids, and link teacher’s salaries to how kids are performing on tests is ludicrous; that kind of mechanized thinking has nothing to do with higher order or higher thinking. We're training them, not teaching them. With great sorrow, Cassie realizes how much her mind has been tainted by exposure to that detrimental environment. She is torn between regret and acceptance: all of her experiences have been opportunities for learning, have made her who she is.
And she likes who she is. Mostly. Cassie sees and knows and believes what she is able to see, know and believe because she was exposed to such things. These are the experiences that made her someone who could be a friend and mentor to La’Roba. So it can’t be all bad. She preferred to see the good in things, more than focus on the bad. To find the good inside or formed out of the bad.
And now, after too much contamination by a sexually repressive male dominated and consumer-based society, being naked with an audience would be awkward enough to Cassie; but she had not shaved her legs or under her arms or pubic area in over two weeks, and felt a momentary twinge of obligatory embarrassment… before shrugging away to foolish imposition. Surely, such things mattered more to us than others. To have these men among the guests— naked men, and strangers— looking upon her nude form, was not exactly an appetizing proposition for Cassie O’Brien. As if, she admits, a woman could not conceivably be sexually appealing & appeasing to a woman; or a man considered so appealing to another man.
Of course, there is no shame in running away, no dishonor in escape. Is it not reasonable to want escape one’s torment or imprisonment or unhappiness?
However, Cassie, being also the curious and adventurous sort, reluctantly— with encouragement from La’Roba-- relented to play along; both dropping their respective t-shirts and blue jeans and underwear on the floor where they stood. Except for her eye glasses, all 5 foot 3 inches of Cassie stood there stark naked. She wanted to provide a good example for her young friend; be brave and bold and unashamed… or maybe she wanted to live up to the high esteem La’roba had for her.
And every one could see that, like the hotel, Cassie’s carpet matched the drapes of her pixie cut brunette hair. Now fully nude, La’Roba and Cassie hold hands in commiserate comforting; La’Roba guiding Cassie (with the easy nonchalance of a child) to a pair of empty seats, as food and drink are served by similarly naked servants. No one else seemed to care that they were naked, beyond a passing and grateful acknowledgement of compliance. So… defiantly, stoically, boldly… Cassie O’Brien sat there in the nude, alongside her friend.
Remember what it felt like to be a child in full optimism and appreciation for this world and our potential as a human race?
As Nietzsche said: All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power… not truth.
And: Rejoicing in our joy, not suffering over our suffering, is what makes someone a friend. She knew La'Roba is definitely her friend.
Identity is fluid, flexible. Momentary expressions of an ever-changing unity with no center.
We, each of us, are in a constant state of, not only transition between what is and what will or might be… but duality, between how we see ourselves and how others see us.
We all have identities written in our name by others. We become transcriptions, transcribed; denoted in the thought or spirit of what others think of us, what another person thinks we are, or were, or should be. What we seem in the eyes and estimation of others is much like Gospels of Jesus— words credited to him according to others who are not Jesus, and may think they know Jesus. He did not necessarily say those words he is said to have said, exactly as documented… but would/ could have. Like “Beam me up, Scotty”, from Star Trek. The phrase is often attributed to Kirk; although it sounds like something he would have said, he never actually said those exact words on screen during the series.
In the search for ourselves, we are often like a search request submitted to prohibited database records. Query protocols get redirected to alternate archive source. We engage an attempt to access information that is so restricted, so elusive that it is not even officially (or consciously) catalogued within those data banks. Containment protocol initiates immediate isolation of related files, prompting a diversion to false, manufactured content... files in question that aren’t even stored in the computer— a security measure to prevent access or discovery. Several layers of calculated distraction & disinformation of multi-compartmentalization stand in the way. And there is just enough valid info in the fake file to pass as real; the data within that file is all true— after a fashion. Offering a semblance of truth.
Partial truths and truth hiding and mixed among lies. Partial, in the sense of being incomplete or imprecise, as well as being biased, preferred… maybe even wishful (or willful?) thinking.
When we are self-aware, we can alter misplaced emotions, because we control the thoughts that cause them. Random reactions and lack of self-awareness incites frustration and self-doubt.
Allowing self-awareness without attachment to the imagined self-- the idealized or delusional self-- enables dramatic increases in mental clarity, peace of mind, social conscience, and what is often described as ‘being in the moment’. Who we are is both a matter of choice and of no choice, to varying degrees; conscious and unconscious. The more of ourselves we can consciously choose, the less of ourselves is left to random chance.
There is no specific center of consciousness, Cassie has learned; the appearance of a unity is illusory, deceptive— separate areas of brain interactive/ simultaneous. Convergence of neural interaction expresses itself as consciousness. The type of thinking we do most often conditions our brain for that kind of thinking process and mentality.
Inexplicably, Cassie and La’Roba are abruptly led by the host— much to their surprise-- into another ball room, just as splendid and resplendently constructed as the room they left.
Briefly, Cassie is irritated by a sting of annoyance— she hates being disrupted… especially unnecessarily or foolishly. La’Roba, in her innocence, is gleefully entranced and taking the festively peculiar promenade in stride.
Barely a moment after she and her were seated at the table, they are cordially escorted to another ball room to begin the same proceedings and protocol again. That eerie— yet strangely soothing-- calliope music flittered around them as butterflies, a subtle and supple companion on this queer journey. Except her and she were already still naked, with a new group of just-as-naked people— female and male, of varied age and race-- were ushered in from the opposite side of the room. And like before, none of them appeared disturbed or discomfited by the mutual absence of clothing.
And like before, as soon as they are seated… about to receive their complementary meal, Cassie and La’Roba are spontaneously whisked away into yet another identically fantastic ball room. With another different set of naked attendees.
But this time, before Cassie and La’Roba can begin deciding on which table to choose, their genteel host kindly directs them to stand along the wall next to the entrance--- gesturing for them to wait here, merely watching the others in a somnambulic ballet of musical chairs.
As the others settle down into their meals laid bare, Cassie and La’Roba are then settled down to the end of an arched stone masoned corridor, and through a dimly lit and arched wooden doorway that resembles what might be found in an old castle. Descending a flight of spiraled stone-step stairs, the three of them arrive in a stone-walled walk-in storage closet. There are people already here. And they are all fully clothed.
And forlornly gathered at a barred half-circle window in the finely chiseled masonry, staring through onto a still and quiet lake shore. Which indifferently glimmered and glistened… like a red wheel barrow, glazed with rain water, beside white chickens.

Do you see what I see? is like an Outer Limits episode at its best:

Also, a few decent episodes have come out of the Twilight Zone-ish Blackbox TV project:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

And then what did you see...?

Writing is too often and easily overlooked as a legitimate art form. Indie writer and blogger Teresa Jusino pleasantly demonstrates the sublime artistry of writing… with her intelligently amusing postage about feminism , as well as social justice and geek related issues.
A fantastically eccentric sci-fi music video by my favorite band— Eisley:

The I-Power crew produced this fascinating documentary about the social psychology of self identity and consciousness: God is in The Neurons

Writing is too often and easily overlooked as a legitimate art form. Indie writer and blogger Teresa Jusino pleasantly demonstrates the sublime artistry of writing… with her intelligently amusing postage about feminism , as well as social justice and geek related issues.

Kimberly Hart custom designs nifty mecha-birds

Failure of Success

From the typically keen insight offered by indie author Stina Leicht comes this bon mot:
a writer’s job is to write to the best of their ability. All else is extra.
In our demented, consumer-based, profiteering, corporatized culture, success and failure are defined and determined by fame and fortune.
If your endeavor or skills or knowledge or mere social status produces substantial financial gains or makes you famous (or especially both)… then you are classified as successful.
Otherwise, you are considered a failure.
Twaddle and shite, I say.
The erroneous perversity of this deranged contrivance should be obvious.
Should be.
The truth obscured by that lie is that success is nothing more or less than achieving what you intended; or, in the unintended circumstances, manifesting a desired or satisfying result—or at least an edifying creative/ learning experience.
If your artistic creation does not acquire fortune or fame, or even public or critical attention—in our out of the media, but it essentially comprises and expresses what you wanted it to, in the way that is acceptable and pleasing to you… then what you’ve done is not failure—it is success.
Writers write to write. If you treat writing like a business, putting sales, promotion and marketing concerns above integrity of the material and your unique voice… then you are a not a writer.
In that case, writing is merely a means and method to make money for you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

You might wanna see this

Nifty drawing style of freelance illustrator/ character designer Coran “Kizer” Stone … who has done work for WB animation.
Feminist pop-culture media critic Anita Sarkeesian offers intelligent media literacy regarding feminist issues our entertainment: Feminist Frequency AND

Intriguingly eccentric sci-fi-ish jewelry crafted by freelance artist Richard Sewell
Science! Pendulum Waves flow into art:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Katie Holmes as Wonder Woman

Admittedly, an unconventional and inspired choice.
As these photos illustrate, she has the appropriate appearance and poise to pass as this character. But you need more than the look to pull this off.
Fortunately, Katie’s recent performances in Thank You For Smoking, The Kennedys How I Met Your Mother and Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark indicates she has become capable of the gravitas and elegance necessary in portraying Wonder Woman. Her acting began to significantly improve with Batman Begins. Until then, she always seemed to be doing Joey Potter from Dawson’s Creek.
Of course, she would need training to build/tone muscle, as well as martial arts.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

If I were to reboot Star Trek…

For TOS:Considering the degree of gender inequality against the feminine still prevalent in our culture, male and female cast members should be inverted-- so the ensemble is female dominated. Kirk, Spock and McCoy would all be women, and Uhura would be the only man.
To be further socially relevant, the characters of Chekov and Uhura should have a contemporary equivalent: Instead of Russian, Chekov would be Arabic—and accordingly renamed (America’s so-called national enemy); Uhura would be Hispanic – and renamed (America’s racially disenfranchised).
Female Scotty would still be Scottish and female Sulu would still be Oriental Asian.
Female Spock would be someone with exotic appearance, and female McCoy would be older than other human command crew. Someone in the crew needs to be homosexual.
To depict the current status of equality black people have attained in our society, female Kirk would be Black; might be paradoxically small in bodily stature, but big and Shatner-esque in personality.
To accommodate new names for the Chekov and Uhura characters, everyone could be re-named, but keep the same character traits as originals.
AND every nationality played by an actor of that nationality; i.e.- Scottish woman playing Scotty.
For TNG:Again, gender reversal; i.e.- female Picard/ male Dr. Crusher/ female Wesley.
Riker would be the female version of a ladies man, commenting on the sexual double standard.
Nationalities are completely open for all human characters, except Caucasian would be in the minority.
Also, HUMANS must be minority. This, of course, would necessitate re-naming all characters, while maintaining original character traits. Instead of being blind, female Geordi should be a “little person”.
Male Troi would still be alien-human hybrid, but not necessarily Betazoid. Female Worf may be represented by different alien.
Data would be a robot instead of android, and less human looking.
At least one minor crew member needs to be homosexual. This and an Andorian character would well facilitate commentary on sexuality and gender identity. Given the generally mainstream status homosexuality has attained, hermaphrodite should be the new gay-- someone in the command crew.
AND every nationality would be played by an actor of that nationality. i.e.- a Frenchman played by a French actress.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


For fun, I set the challenge of developing a unique dice based narrative mechanism entitled Dreamwalker, curious if I could. Epic WIN has been achieved. As far as I know, this is the only such mechanism of its kind.
The story/ game play centers on the main character in my Arcanum fiction: Cassie O’Brien— a dreamwalker. Essentially, this is a device in which several distinct stories can be told by rolling custom dice according to a sequence of rules.
If anyone wants to fund the production, promotion and proliferation of this invention, send me an email. Then I’ll show you the rules.

Still more to see and do

Short film-

FUTURE PROOF from The DMCI on Vimeo.

short film=

Rêverie | a short film from Jaro Minne on Vimeo.

Chi of Shaolin: The Tale of the Dragon demo

Arian Noveir has an amazing collection of superhero paint splatter art

Saturday, November 5, 2011

And That's Not All

Epic Artemis Eternal film project releases first official concept art ! Conceived by film maker Jessica Mae Stover; she and four Wingmen (including myself) commissioned the remarkable fantasy/ science fiction artist Christopher Shy…

Legion of Extraordinary Dancers web series (many of these episodes are astounding)… brilliantly transforming movement into music to develop narrative innovation=
CONTINUUM (sci-fi web-series)=
Illustrator Mike Maihack draws charming superhero sketches on his blog

In response to Cory Doctorow: It’s Time to Stop Talking About Copyright

From the November 2011 issue of Locus Magazine
When someone attains the reputation and level of notoriety in fandom that Cory Doctorow has, they tend to inspire an assumption of credibility when they speak. Assuming that when such a person speaks, it is on a subject they are knowledgeable about. Such an assumption is innately dangerous, in that it could belay a critical evaluation of what they are saying. It baffles and annoys me when I see artists promoting audience or market convenience over and at the expense of artist compensation, ownership rights and the value of creation/creativity.
Here, I’m challenging a few statements (and their implications) Doctorow made in that article.
*And as we make the transition from a world where everything we do includes an online component to a world where everything we do requires an online component, it’s becoming the case that there’s no such thing as ‘‘Internet policy’’ – there’s just policy.
I resist and resent the general a priori assumption that “we must inevitably or necessarily live in a world where everything we do requires an online component” is a foregone conclusion. I oppose the common insistence of culturally or economically forcing/ expecting everyone to be online and live their lives through digital devices. Contrary to common assumption: not everyone lives, or wants to live, that way. Also, I propose that asserting no distinction between online and off-line life—inextricably linking digital and analog-- is detrimental folly and ignorance. The Internet is no more the real world than a book or screw driver.
*when we ‘‘solve’’ copyright problems at the expense of the Internet, we solve them at the expense of 21st-century society as a whole
Or maybe, when we “solve” Internet problems at the expense of copyright, we solve them at the expense of artistic creativity AND 21st-century society as a whole. I’m not against so-called piracy, because essentially there is no such thing—there is data sharing. I AM, however, mightily against not supporting artists and creators. What I oppose is an attitude that condones disregard and disrespect for the rights of artists to be properly compensated for their efforts. If you like what an artist makes, then you should have the decency to (want to) thank them by paying them. A point which often seems to get lost in the debate and defense of copyright against piracy. This is the same attitude that makes way too many employers think it is fair and reasonable to pay writers nearly nothing—and in many cases exactly nothing—for writing. There is much more to writing than putting words on a page, or merely the page itself.
*For so long as we go on focusing this debate on artists, creativity, and audiences – instead of free speech, privacy, and fairness – we’ll keep making the future of society as a whole subservient to the present-day business woes of one industry.
The concerns of free speech, privacy, and fairness AND concerns of artists, creativity, and audiences are not mutually exclusive, and are actually intricately connected. In a commercialized and Internet structured society which commonly mistakes or equates the worth of art and creativity with (devaluing) dollar value, we really shouldn’t be increasing or fostering ways to undermine and diminish artistic initiative in a commercial framework. By assuming artistic creativity should be given away, should cost nothing—that artists do not deserve to be compensated—says that you don’t really value artists or their art.
Instead, we need to be encouraging the mentality that art is more than its format. Audiences/ consumers are being conditioned to think they are just paying for a digital file— but they are paying for the content of a creation and artist labor.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Matrix: Redacted

Over a decade later, The Matrix continues to hold up as a sensational and remarkable quality film. But The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions are commonly known as the two widely derided sequels to that 1999 science fiction classic.
The Matrix was an immediate and immense pop-culture phenomenon for many reasons. To say that it had the potential to rival Star Trek and Star Wars and Batman as a narrative media platform AND a significant cultural artifact would not be exaggeration.
And then the sequels came.
Reloaded and Revolutions ruined everything, virtually undermining and tempting us to forget all the first movie accomplished-- and could have yet accomplished.
Not because they were bad movies. As movies, they are fantastic. But as sequels to The Matrix, they were lacking.
Revolutions only compounded and exacerbated the folly began in Reloaded. While The Matrix was instantly adored and celebrated, its siblings were instantly reviled and ridiculed.
The problem, essentially, is that Reloaded and Revolutions are a poor follow up or follow through of The Matrix— resulting in a convoluted and disjointed medley.
Whereas The Matrix was cinematically revolutionary and narratively innovative, the sequels descended into the mundane and muddled.
Reloaded and Revolutions amounted to feeble caricature and cliché of its progenitor, a mere shadow of its predecessor. The Matrix ushered us out of Plato’s cave and into the sun; the sequels, sent us back into the Cave to grasp at shadows on the wall.
Part one boldly pushed the boundaries—sublimely and marvelously elevating the story. Parts two and three, however, meagerly danced and stumbled like a drunken monkey around those boundaries.
But more than that, even WORSE than that, Reloaded and Revolutions did not seem to function as logical extensions or continuations of the narrative established in The Matrix. The sequels defied (and defiled?) our expectations—and not in the good way.
Rather than augment and clarify the confabulation of ideas and elements presented in The Matrix, Reloaded and Revolutions instead distorted and bungled. The Original movie rewarded and acknowledged audience intelligence, but the two sequels seemed to insult and mock that intelligence. Diminishing, by association, the profundity and magnificence of the first film in the series.
Ultimately, in hind sight, given the cheesy & hokey disaster the sequels turned out to be, The Matrix would have been better off— and better served—without sequels.
Certainly, without the contrived and inconsistent sequels we were given.
Granted, Reloaded and Revolutions are not quite as bad as their reputation implies, but they are bad relative to The Matrix.
The authenticity permeating The Matrix is lost in the artificial razzle-dazzle of the sequels. The proliferation of special effects extravaganzas are meant to dazzle and disorient us to a point where we overlook the plot holes and superficiality.
In the attempt to top what they did in The Matrix, the Wachowskis went extremely way over the top-- whether it actually made sense or not.
Perhaps part of the problem, perversely, is that the producers tried to transform The Matrix from a sublime narrative into a multi-media marketing platform.
This world building exercise was not thought through well enough to sustain itself. Maybe the Wachowskis even suffered from George Lucas syndrome—they had gotten so big after the success of The Matrix that no one dared to tell them NO about anything, letting them do whatever they wanted regardless of if it was a good idea.
The producers were clearly more concerned about looking and sounding cool than with telling an interesting or credible story. Essentially, one gigantic missed opportunity as a socially relevant media and culture commentary.
A foundation that began strong and solid in The Matrix increasingly became flimsy and dysfunctional throughout the sequels.
But we should not let all that nonsense ruin our appreciation of the first film—which is still awesome independent of and despite the second and third films.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Of the things I've seen

Fantabulous and fascinating BATMAN fan film:

BATMAN DELIVRANCE from Atomic Production on Vimeo.

SYNDROMES – interesting sci-fi short film

SYNDROMES - a short film by Kristoffer Borgli & The Golden Filter from The Golden Filter on Vimeo.

NINJA= stop motion short film about an old fashioned ninja duel

Ninja from Olivier Trudeau on Vimeo.

PAGE 23= surreal sci-fi short film

Page 23 (English subtitles) from Jeroen Houben on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I saw what you did there!

Excellent Batman fan film: Seeds of Arkham... Sequel to City of Scars

SEEDS OF ARKHAM by Batinthesun
BATMAN The Last Laugh- suberbly crafted fan film

VOLTRON- Live action short fan film

Illustrator/ author Aaron Diaz epic wins at DC Comics new universe reboot (while actual DC Comics epic fails)--- visually and conceptually

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Did You See That?

Vertical; short film fake trailer by by Sebastian Lopez

vertical from sebastian lopez on Vimeo.

Makenzie Dustman is an astounding, dynamic dancer— a style full of vigor and vision.

Sample more here
Reality shows like So You Think You Can Dance are lame, inconsequential fluff; but occasionally, you get gems like Lauren Froderman, who I admit is also not without some skill-- innovatively combining dance with gymnastics.
Sample more here

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wonderful things to see and do

Short film: Alien Repair Guy; written/ directed by HELMET=

Or go here:

Amazing photo shoots with Star Wars toys, by Vesa Lehtimäki=

Greg Dunn turns microscopic biology into art=

prequel to Dark Resurrection, a stunningly produced Italian Star Wars-based fan film=

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Open Letter To DC Comics:

How you made me stop reading (and buying) your titles after 20 years of fealty:
1. gross negligence and incompetence of Dan Diddio corrupting the quality and credibility of the DC legacy

2. disgusting misogyny and shamelessly shameful over-sexualized objectification of women… offensive to females AND good taste.

3. egregious age-ism: characters age 35 and older have been either regressed to 20 something or discarded in the reboot

4. oh, yeah— that ridiculous reboot—I mean relaunch … which was totally unnecessary for the sake of revitalizing the characters, since that could easily have been done without regression

5. squandered opportunity for innovation and revolutionizing their characters and the way superhero comics are done, as well as how the comics industry operates

6. failure to appeal (and make amends) to more female readers. You say the relaunch is intended to interest new readers, but you still cater the same 18-35 male demographic you already had. Your core titles should be accessible to ALL readers.

7. stale, formulaic and lamely constructed stories; mundane storytelling methods-- issue #1 of some titles were so dull and badly written that I actually threw them away

8. criminal disregard for character and story integrity-- with one issue, Justice League International goes from awesome to awful— like DC suddenly forgot how to write good stories

9. Flashpoint and Darkest Night and Alt-reality reimagining of Wonder Woman and War of the Supermen

10. Succeeding in making me not care about Batman— my favorite superhero. The bulk of my comic selection was Batman family titles.

11. Reboot has proven to be a cheap stunt-- a gimmick of no substance, relevance or merit

12. Letters pages have become nothing more than self promotion and congratulatory narcissism, whereas they used to facilitate discussion and exploration.

13. Quality of stories have not provided sufficient “return on investment”

and BONUS: as Jessica Stover reminded me: DC Comics is owned by Time Warner and AOL certainly has been a part of promoting for profit on a large scale what the writer detests.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm Bruce Willis

I'm Bruce Willis from wreckandsalvage on Vimeo.

Not perfect, but I love the concept and excecution-- though I'd prefer it focus less on Die Hard, and include footage from more of his other movies.
We need more of these.

Story of mine

Multiples Of One
2014; November 8:
I’m searching for someone. A missing part of myself.
Wandering through a mall, I stop at a presentation demo showcasing make up artists transforming people into human-animal hybrids with paint and prosthetics so detailed that they look like genuine genetically engineered, gene-spliced creatures. Displayed out front in barbershop chairs backed by a mirrored wall are finished samples; I look behind the scenes, see the magic happening— so I know it is not actually genetic manipulation.
Borrowing a pogo-stick sort of hopper thing from an adjacent kiosk, I bounce away to check at a toy store, which I discover is now almost empty from a going out of business sale. A part of me is there, but it is not who I thought I’m looking for. I leave with a toy Voltron (lions, of course). I bounce back to return the hopper, seeing the presentation crew prepping more volunteers off to the side. I continue my quest elsewhere on foot, but now I’m a hamster. I locate who I’m looking for, and find my soul mate: the yang to my yin. Although he looks and feels like Gevrall, somehow I Know this is really an artificially flavored simulacrum.
When we meet, he begins alternating between human and hamster form, and then so do I. He insists we can’t be together until we find a way to be fully human again.
So we reluctantly part ways, and seek a means to break our curse. We run into each other again, and this time he is morphing from human to hamster to ferret, while I am morphing back and forth into a hedgehog. Our anguish is palpable— a horrid, living thing. Stealing a few too brief but glorious moments in each others’ presence, we fret over our dilemma like Romeo and Juliet. We wonder if we could make our relationship work as we are, but decide to separate to continue our quest.
We meet one more time in some anonymous glass trinket shop, and regrettably still no resolution has been found. Shamed by his malady, but not giving up hope, he ventures away from the mall indefinitely. Away from me.
A dreamscape shift, and I’m outside.
I resent the unnecessary complication of simplicity, and its resultant inefficiency.
The adult world is so cluttered with over complication. I miss childhood. I miss who I used to be, when I was a kid. Who I could be because I was a child.
Maybe it’s because I’m nearly age 40, but I’ve been thinking about her a lot recently. What I’ve gained; what I’ve lost by “growing up”.
Fortunately, I’m still on speaking terms with my younger self:
I love the way you are. It's who I am— so I don't have to try hard.
I remember all those crazy things you said. You left them running through my head.
And the truth is that I really miss all those crazy things we did. Didn't think about it… just went with it. You're always there, you're everywhere. And, right now, I wish you were here.
(this is my dream journal, so I’m not legally obligated to give credit to Avril Lavigne)
And she was here— which is to say, there _I_ was… me as I am now, watching myself as I was way back then-- a child, maybe 6 years old-- squatting by and staring into a water puddle on the sidewalk, the remnant of a hardy summer rain. Back then, she wore her hair long enough for pony tails, which was often her preferred style. Feels like morning, and locale is reminiscent of a small town suburb, like the ones I grew up in, when I took breaks from circus life. For some reason, older me is out walking a toy Voltron on a leash when I… “find” myself. Voltron might represent a kind of matryoshka doll or Kurlan naiskos; and also a totem of my being a Leo.
Me now, I am a reflection of my former self-- as if seen through a dirty mirror with my pixie hair cut, literally & metaphorically standing in the girl’s shadow behind her, looking over her shoulder as I listen to what she has to tell me.
Now, I’m talking to myself. Again.
“What we like,” young me continued, while casually moving the tip of a small stick fallen from a tree through the puddle in a figure 8 motion “—what we ARE like—is always changing. We don’t live in the moment. We are not who we are. We are suggestible, allowing ourselves to be influenced. We act as—and ON— what we were and what others are… and what others say we are.” Me and mini-Voltron stood silently, but attentive beside her.
Younger me paused, staring a moment longer at the puddle, before standing up to look at me.
She still held on to that stick.
“We like those who understand us, who know us--” she told me, “even when we forget ourselves.”
She paused again… seemingly finished.
“This is why,” young me sagely revealed, “old people, like you, are the future.”
I looked at her askance. Old? Me?
“I’m 37,” said I, with a smirk, amused by my cunning Monty Python reference, “I’m not old.”
Even though I am actually 39. Is that right? I don’t keep track of my age anymore. I suck at math, but I remember I was born in ’75--- so you do the math.
I don’t lie about my age— defying yet another womanly cliché, I was only making a joke.
To which younger me simply shrugged without looking up at me, her gaze directed somewhere down the street; nonchalant, as if to say “whatever” or “you know what I mean”.
I knew what she meant. Her pronouncement may seem contradictory to conventional wisdom, which says children are the future.
But “old” people like me remember a world before the Internets.
And then I am being summoned. I can sense a transition bridge forming, my dreaming merges into someone else’s.
But before I go, early me looks me in the eyes, holds up one finger and says, “First” with a tone and mannerism that indicates a word association, so I say, “Love”. A second finger sequentially joins the first, and she says “Second”, to which I reply “Chance”.
As I anticipated, she adds a third finger, saying, “Third”-- I kindly reciprocate with “Act”.
Bits and pieces of that some other mind comingle and blend into mine, as the me of yesterday fades away, momentarily co-creating a dreamscape, as each dream overlaps until I fully cross over.
I don’t always dream walk, but when I do, I prefer going into the most interesting people in the world.
Pulled into the dreaming of an excellent and favorite actress of mine playing the main character in one of my favorite shows ever--- Fifth Wall. The well known semi-spin off of the Star Quest TV series, currently in its third season. The show is about a contemporary TV cast and crew producing a sci-fi series called Matryoshka, with the same 1970s sci-fi aesthetic used in the original Star Quest series. The series comments on and reveals the creative, political and business aspects behind the scenes of making a TV series. Plus, a few episodes are actually full episodes from the sci-fi spin off they are making.
She played a Doctor Who type role in a drama cleverly and brilliantly combining the cerebral elements of Andromeda with those of House and Studio 60.
I say played, past tense, because... this 30-ish year old Indian woman took her character so seriously that she gradually began thinking she IS the character--- experiencing a fascinating psychotic break… a personality/ identity schism.
Her actual identity increasingly became suppressed and overwritten by her fictional persona.
In an interesting and innovative creative decision, the show runners began integrating this development into her character— before she had to be written out of the series recently for obvious reasons. Heather Bishop is lobbying on Professor Nelson’s behalf to get her sent to The Prometheus Institute for observation and treatment.
Since I am not restricted by doctor-patient confidentiality, this is the story of what I saw in her head…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Short story I wrote: BONUS!

Into the Land of Ghostly Schemata
In the year 2008, Cassie O’Brien sat with her best friends Akasha and Efram in their shared living room, watching TV—something on the Sci-Fi Channel.
During a commercial break, a promo came on for a pseudo-documentary about lost historical artifacts and relics, like the Holy Grail.
Saying what Cassie was thinking, Efram commented, “Why do they always assume these things haven’t been found?”
“What do you mean?” Akasha asked him.
“How do they know,” Efram elaborated for her, “someone doesn’t have these artifacts hidden somewhere?”
“Right,” Cassie added, somewhat disingenuously, “Like Indiana Jones—The Ark is not lost, it’s just kept secret in a warehouse.”
“Good point,” Akasha noted, “Just because ‘The World’ (she says with air quotes) doesn’t know I have, say, a lava lamp… doesn’t mean it’s missing.”
18 months ago, an undisclosed location deep underground… Conciliator Onobanjo spoke to Cassie of the foolishness in trying to summon a demon or elder god—either they are not real and therefore a waste of time… or they are real and would almost certainly wreak havoc. It’s not that the world is full of darkness, the aged man sagely kibitzed… with Cassie appreciatively acknowledging and conceding the revelation... it is just that we have closed our eyes.
He only mentioned this to her as obtuse metaphor; analogy for their current dilemma.
When the Conciliator had requested her immediate presence, without explanation, Cassie—out of reverence-- arrived without preamble or question.
Inadvertently, she tended to look more approachable than she actually was, so people tended to get an impression that they could—or should-- impose or encroach on her. For good or bad, Cassie had an innate kindliness and sanctity that inclined people to trust her, to like her. But in truth, she was too earnest, too honest; not meant to cope with things as they are. She often felt as if she wasn’t the person people were talking to—or thought they were talking to. People tended to assume things about others—for example, they frequently expected or attributed a particular degree of “Irishness” to her because of her culturally loaded surname, and were unduly disappointed because she did not speak Gaelic or even with an accent. Nor was she Protestant or Catholic. She wore her Irish quietly, on the inside—which, she admitted, may seem like a contradiction.
Perhaps we expect too much from names, give them too much power… too much credence.
The danger in names is that they are too regionally or propensionally subjective… too variable and maleable.
Onobanjo described the delicately troubled situation as the two of them strolled urgently down a corridor toward the primary entrance to The Arcanum Reliquary. Most of those allegedly lost or missing historical artifacts you hear about (and many more you don’t) are neither missing nor lost… they are kept here. As a logical extension of Arcanum’s self appointed task of observing and preserving the truth of human history and knowledge. American-centric legitimazation is routinely imposed on other cultural histories. An egregious historical gentrification was being conducted through deliberate mistranslation and mistranscription for the convenience of various parties “in power”; so Arcanum existed to correct the “official” public record.
Plus, safeguarding the so-called lost artifacts was a protection against the inevitable ramifications if an item like the Holy Grail were loosed in a society lacking the wisdom to comprehend.
Nevermind that the Grail is really symbolic of the Messianic bloodline and philosophy of Jesus Christ; not the commonly presumed chalice icon.
Since the early 1900s, Arcanum facilities utilized a cybernetic-crystaline tesseract technology, delivered from the future by The Traveler. For security and simplicity purposes, Onobanjo is one of only three “key” people in the whole world at any one time with unfettered access to the warehouse.
Not counting The Traveler. Or The Wandering Jew—which goes without saying, since he founded Arcanum. But she the Traveler and he the Wanderer were both currently incommunicado.
So, technically, that actually makes five authorized personnel. Decades later, Cassie would become one such person.
No one entered unless ushered by any of these individuals; after which, visitors are granted the trust of free reign.
The Reliquary itself is governed by a rudimentary autonomous artificial intelligence— essentially a living brain—with a kind of mind of its own. And it, for reasons yet to be determined, had ceased to acknowledge access for any of them. This has never happened before, and should not have ever been possible. If they were dealing with any conventional or mainstream computer system, Cassie would recite her mantra that “computers are stupid”; but this computer -- being no ordinary marketplace computer—was explicitly designed to not be stupid.
As a pre-eminent dreamwalker (and, fortunately, Arcanum member in good standing), Cassie was to attempt exploratory immersion into the machine’s demi-subconscious… and resolve this mystery of the absent mind.

Making Books Better by Making Better Books

I am a big fan of self publishing books, but not necessarily a big fan of self-published books. Admittedly, and regretfully, most self-published books are crap. But, so are most mainstream Gatekeeper published books.
If you don’t treat your book like a real book, why should anyone else?
How can we expect our books to be taken seriously as real and legitimate books if we just slop them together and toss them out onto the public willy nilly? How can we expect to be taken seriously as real and legitimate authors if we don’t take our book seriously? If we don’t bother to edit and refine before releasing? Too many people are self publishing books on a whim--for their own amusement or ego… just because they can.
A true vanity publishing-- nothing more than a disposable trinket.
Like most web series creators, most indie publishers neglect and lack self editing. Beginning at the “is this really a good idea and should I do this?” stage.
Also, don’t rush into printing. I learned this after the fact. In my over-enthusiastic excitement at discovering I could write fiction-- as well as having compiled my first sci-fi short story book, I rushed production of that anthology. I could go back and “fix” these errors, but I choose to leave them in, as a mark of my development as a publisher/ author.
Too many self-publishers fail to respect and understand the importance of editing. Why would you want to contribute more to the already over-abundance of crappy books? Why would you want to be responsible for that and hurting the struggling credibility of self-publishing?
Too much of self-publishing is merely doing what’s been done. What’s expected. What’s contemporary.
But the advantage of Do It Yourself publishing is that you are beholden to no one.
You don’t have to follow the usual rules and standards of Gatekeeper publishing. That’s the point and value of self-publishing.
So why not experiment?
Play around with storytelling and style and technique and structure and format. Do something different, unique and unconventional, instead of copying the way Big Publishing does things.
Don’t rehash and repeat the same kinds of stories, with the same kinds of methodology that Big Publishing endorses and produces.
Don’t help proliferate homogenizing American Cultural Imperialism by perpetuating U.S.-centric tropes. Indeed, eschew tropes and clichés of any kind where ever possible—except when done for effect or affectation.
Our goal as self-publishers should be to be better than all that. We should seek to elevate the story.
Find those things that no major publisher will approve or accept-- but you have passion for, and put it out there.
The future of self-publishing isn’t merely in storytelling. It’s in the structure and design.
Do not be constrained by the way “everyone else” is creating stories, or by what the market says you should do.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Something Good To Show You

Also watch here

Portal fan film: No Escape

Another Portal fan film: Outside Aperture

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Historical Markers

In most cases, the decade a film or TV show was made can be discerned by their production aesthetic (with marginal overlap on fore and aft adjacent decades)—at least regarding American cinema.
TV shows and movies created in the 1990s have a different look, tone and content approach than those created in the ‘80s, and those created in the ‘70s do not look and feel the same as those from the ‘60s and ‘50s, etc.
Cinematic styles of bygone eras intrinsically and invariably reflect, and are the result of, a gestalt in/ during the time they are created.
It seems the kind of people who could produce a cinematic style are limited to and defined by the era in which the films or TV shows are made. Creator and created exist in a symbiotic temporal bubble.
Consider: could a movie like Dark Crystal ever be made today? Or even The Matrix?
Or a TV series like The Original Star Trek? Or Space 1999?
Practical special effects, as they are called-- like model work and animatronic puppetry and studio sets and matte paintings (which imbued older, pre-CGI cinema with a distinct character and authenticity)-- have regrettably been replaced (as superior ) by synthetic artificiality of computer generated imagery. Practical effects instill a sense and appearance of realism and substance that computer manufactured features innately lack (at least so far).
Rather than improving on or advancing visual production techniques, more often than not, CGI is actually more deficient and inferior in creating authentic attributes.
A puppet Yoda looks like a real and living creature, while a Yoda rendered by computer is clearly fake.

On a related (but separate) note, history seems routinely and too casually defined by an American standard since the 1700s.
When we talk of the 1930s, the ‘60s, the ‘80s and such, it is with reference to American culture.
As if no other country had their own ‘30s and ‘60s and ‘80s.

Suspicion of Disbelief

Frequently, I’ll be reading a book, watching TV or a movie, and see ways the story could be improved and elevated. Usually good stories, except for a few flaws.
I notice narrative or logical mistakes that could easily be prevented if only the creators had bothered to consult me. These discrepancies dislodge or throw me out of the story. I am compelled to re-imagine or rewrite scenes and dialogue in my head, making the appropriate corrections. Making the story right.
Maybe that sounds arrogant & presumptuous. Or maybe, instead, it actually sounds like I Know things about storytelling.
I get annoyed because I was not consulted; and because of their neglect, the story suffers needlessly.
And by extension, the audience suffers.
Dude, I’m right here! My fee is not unreasonable.
There are also many times during a story when I find moments of authenticity fail; things that strain or defy credibility or lack a sense of realism or believability. And in those moments, I say “I don’t believe you.”
I also often say this during most contemporary commercials, which are clearly out of touch with majority reality in America. For example, T-Mobile obnoxiously presents a skewed view in the implication of the exaggerated importance and commonality of 4G… with their iPhones and iPads and Tablets.
An assumption is projected and proliferated that the common standard is that the majority actually does live online and through their digital devices, when the truth is that a relatively small portion of the population lives this way. Most people do not.
And egregious car commercials, who blithely talk about so called deals like several thousand dollars is nothing… as if most people can afford a new car, when the reality is few of us have enough money for even a used one. A new car for only $20,000? Really? Is that all?
These kinds of commercials are trying to impose or synthesize a false reality onto us, by acting as if the lifestyle they depict is much more common than it really is. They try to convince us of-- and into—an illusory lifestyle, as if saying it is real makes it so.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Even among writers— maybe especially among writers, a lot of erroneous advice and assumptions are perpetuated about the “correct” way to write… as if there were such a thing as One True Way to write stories properly. I’m not referring to the grammar and logic and authenticity which comprise a well constructed story.
A perniciously utilitarian, economical attitude inundates and diminishes our contemporary story telling mentality— something can’t (or should not) exist unless it’s good for something… unless it “moves” or advances the narrative along. If it is in the story, it ought to be clearly contributing something. Directly filling some definitive, comprehendible role or purpose, or else it should be omitted.
But real life doesn’t work that way, so why should we expect stories to?
Expecting something to be obviously and economically useful is a very Western (and unhealthy) assumption.
Playing on and into our current social environment, this exacerbates and reinforces short attention spans and dumbing down media, as both symbiotic/ simultaneous effect and cause of each other. Most people are under the misguided impression that we should be able to summarize a narrative into a simplified “elevator pitch” or bullet points. And if you can’t, then either you don’t know well enough what the story is, or there is something innately wrong with the story’s conception.
Common, conventional writing advice advocates keeping things as short and simple as possible, with no room for extraneous or ancillary details. This “always be useful” approach does not enable us to be fanciful or artistic or experimental with text and format. Arbitrarily and unnecessarily restricting what one can and can not do (what one is and is not supposed to do) with a story, preventing exploratory and random world building or character development. Contriving a simple narrative and coercing a concise and coherent ending— which further engenders a general expectation of simple accounts for experiences, and over-simplified single-factor explanations.
The narrative— we are typically led to believe-- is supposed to be a direct and certain line between specific, even linear, plot points.
It must have a definite plot, an arc, a theme, a message, a point. There should be no superfluous characters who are non-essential or non-referential to the plot. Characters are not allowed to be doing nothing. Indicative of distinctly Western tendencies, the characters (and narrative itself) must always be active, in motion, going… and going… and...
Because the text is not allowed to wander or meander off course, diverge and deviate and digress into tangents, it requires or encourages deliberately simplistic characters and stories with a get-to-the-point, paint-by-numbers structure; as well as fostering formulaic design and cliché.
With my fiction, I attempt to counter the insipid status quo of such assumptions.

This is your brain on sleep deprivation


Next Big Thing?

After Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies, what is the next Big Thing trend in stories?
Ghost? Sasquatch? Genetic Mutant? Cyborg?
No. Circus and Carnival.
We can already see this theme appearing in the last few years.
Seen recently in Batman and Robin comics. Soon to be in Nightwing comics. An aspect in The Cape TV series. A short film called The Butterfly Circus. Featured in Hillywood’s Dark Knight parody. A Torchwood episode. Olga Kay’s Circus.
Sensing this, I even integrated this intriguingly fantastical aesthetic into my Cassie O’Brien back story.
These are just a few samples.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What They Appear To Be

A mask is commonly associated with disguise, concealment, theatricality and decoration. But in the Batman mythos, the mask motif is typically used as an expression or component of actual identity. Batman’s cape and cowl gradually exceed mere costuming to become Wayne’s real persona, with Bruce Wayne becoming the mask.
His rogues gallery features many people who wear a mask not as an alternative identity or pseudonym, but as an aspect of their true self.
The mask defines them...
The Joker
Harley Quinn
Black Mask
False Face
The Red Hood
Penguin is so called because of his physical appearance and clothing.
Even the Ventriloquist, as Scarface is engaged as a mask for Wesker.
And Killer Croc’s deformity is a form of mask.
The bandages worn by Hush are indicative of not only his medical background, but also his hidden nature, and eventual reconstructive surgery transformation into Bruce Wayne’s image.
The Mad Hatter adopts the clothes and personality of the Wonderland character.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Coulrophobia-- fear of clowns

A clown has the ability to see things through the playful, innocent eyes of a child. They intend to bring happiness where there is sadness, amusement where there is boredom. Their makeup & costume are the visual indication to those around that this is no ordinary person. Someone whose attention and attitude will make you feel like you are the most special person in the room. In doing so, they give of their heart so that yours can feel better...
Ironically, most children and adults are actually frightened or disturbed by the clown visage, considering it creepy; but only relatively recently… as early as the 1800s, and is a particularly American neurosis.
Their innate extreme garishness and a discordance in appearance and behavior (often even between these two aspects) may cause tremendous psychological disorientation, and thus a subconscious distrust, unease and aversion.
Being unsettled by something as unusual and unnatural-seeming as a clown—who only seems to resemble something human… pretending to be human, but is clearly inhuman. Clowns are "unknown in identity", "unorthodox in appearance, bluntly aggressive and synthetic in behavior, and uncharacteristically-- even falsely-- cheerful in demeanor. Clowns are a caricature of a real person; a doll come to life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bushido Cassie


Monday, July 18, 2011

Gluttony Of Words

An expurgated version of a blog post by Damien G. Walter; partially explains why I stopped writing.
Oh please GOD no STOP writing! (so much)

There’s a terrible meme emerging from the internet writing community. It arises from good intentions and common sense, and it is utterly wrong.
You can see this meme at work in the debate around publishing a book a year. You can see it in the 50,000 word a month culture of NaNoWriMo. And you can see it in the commonly held wisdom that if, as a writer, you can just get your name out there in front of readers enough, you will eventually achieve fame and fortune.
You won’t.
(Also, you can see it in the perpetuated foolish notion that a writer should write every day, regardless.)
Many writers seem determined to become their own worst source of signal interference on the channel between their work and those people who might be interested in their work.
Part of the problem here seems to be the belief that writers are part of the entertainment industry. Writers are as much part of entertainment industry as doctors are part of the pharmaceutical industry. The latter’s job is to make product from which they make money. The former’s job is to heal people.
But writers are not factory workers.
The rules of the protestant work ethic don’t apply to writing.
We’ve all grown up in a world where marketing was a thing done to the masses. This approach has never worked for writers. It doesn’t work so well for Mars and Coca-Cola any more.
Writers who try and flood the market with a book a year, or four books a year, or a short story a month, or a short story a day, or whatever, are attempting to apply the dynamics of mass marketing to a niche audience. It’s absurd and counter-productive.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Zen Cassie


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cassie O; in the Spirit


Monday, July 11, 2011

Worth Mentioning...

Prelude to a Change of Mind: The First Book in the Hidden Lands of Nod; by Robert Stikmanz (and if you like this one, read Sleeper Awakes next)



MEG Dance

Gray Matters web series

Gray Matters Episode 101: "A Gray in the Life" from Alexis Fedor on Vimeo.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Suitable For Public Consumption

Popularity and public acceptance have never been, nor will they ever be, a valid or legitimate determinant or signifier of quality.
But that detrimental misconception permeates our society.
As Sturgeon’s Law eruditely states: 90% of anything is crap. Hollywood and Big Publishing produces just as much crap as independent channels. And yet, the common, conventional assumption says that whatever is produced by the taste maker/ Gatekeeper machine of Hollywood and Big Publishing and Big Music is somehow innately more credible, more worthy of acceptance than indie productions. Actually, being made or sponsored by Hollywood or Big Publishing is no guarantee that the material is actually any good or deserving of attention and adulation.
I could make an impolite (but true) joke about the Twilight book/ movie series here… but I won’t.
In our society, the value and significance of art is misguidedly gauged and defined according to a criteria of commercial success rather than merit.
With such a mentality, a thing is good not because it is genuinely good by any standard, but merely because it sells and is “profitable”.
My books may (or may not?) be within the remaining 10%, but they will never achieve mainstream recognition, respect and appreciation as long as our society operates under that delusion. Self-published, non-agented books like mine will never be nominated for literary awards, because it would never even be considered. Never be on the best seller list.
But given what qualifies for best seller, I’d be insulted and dismayed if any of my books appeared on that list.
Any award framework that only includes material from conventional or official channels is by nature invalid and illegitimate.
Fellow media commentator Del Marbrook insightfully considers the issue in a recent blog post .

Although that entire post is worth reading, here are some of the more salient points offered:
It’s fair to ask, I think, whether our conventional media are providing us with the very best we’re creating amongst us or with a highly redacted limited edition that caters to a plethora of special interests. It’s fair to ask whether our media are corporate propagandists intent on limiting our vision and the means needed to realize any vision.
They reflect a regressive win-lose society that regards its every venture as a race to commercial success as if that were the only kind of success worth considering. Such a society, ensnared as it is in its commercial obsessions, cannot live up to its own highest ideals.
…it’s always possible that works of considerable merit will fall between the cracks, sometimes finding no publisher, sometimes finding shoestring publishers, and more often falling to critical neglect. That said, it’s also true that works of great merit published by important presses are often neglected or damned with faint praise. Given these issues, the very nature of egalitarianism comes into question. For example, is it egalitarian to say a work of art succeeds because it’s popular and sells well? Or is it egalitarian to say none of that matters, what matters is that it has a chance to breathe and be heard and seen.
We’ve had the gumption but we’ve never had the wherewithal to take on the assumptions of our taste-makers. Now we do.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tell Me About Yourself

I am not fond of that interrogative statement. How could you ever answer it succinctly, yet sufficiently? This is a big reason why I hate job interviews.
"What is your book about?" is a derivative of that inquery.
I suck at promoting.
I especially suck at SELF promotion.
Seems wrong to me; rude and arrogant and indecent and crass.
The reason for that can be summarized thusly: I really do not like talking about myself.
Actually, as a slightly autistic introvert, I generally don’t much like talking.
Could be that is why I write so much, instead.
And talking about things I’ve done just feels like bragging, or “look at me” nonsense.
Which is totally not me, and, therefore, makes me very uncomfortable.
Even if I don’t mean to brag, and even if it doesn’t sound like bragging to whoever I’m talking to—it FEELS too much like bragging.
Even if the self-promotion is merely statement of fact.
So I don’t promote my own writing, my books.
I’d rather let my work speak for itself, or let someone speak on my behalf, instead of trying to talk my way through an explanation or description of my writing. The words, the process, the style, the inspiration and meaning of it all… don’t ask me about that stuff.
I suck at self promotion so much, that I believe I am quite likely to do the opposite of promotion in the process… indeed, talk myself out of a “sale”. Maybe it seems ironic, or paradoxical, but my literature stands a better chance, I think, if I don’t do the talking.
Also, I am not a fan of spoilers. I don’t want to ruin the story for you—either by clumsily trying to summarize, or by revealing anything. It is better if you go in fresh, open minded, untainted by any preconceived notions or expectations for what the book is “supposed to be”.
So I'd rather my books be judged on the merits of their awesomeness, not my feeble social skills. I prefer you to find out for yourself… by reading the book.
When was the last time you went into a story not knowing anything about it? Could this be your first?
If you really want to know about my books or writing style, I recommend and ask, please… read them.
And then we have something to talk about.
I will, however, say only this much about my short stories:
Most of them revolve around, or happen in the universe of, a geeky and slightly autistic lady named Cassie O’Brien. She is a dreamwalker, Artemis Eternal Wingman, student of The Prometheus Institute for exceptional minds, and agent in a secret society called Arcanum (which observes and records the accumulated knowledge and true history of humanity).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One Door Closes: these are the last words

I’m calling a posteriori my last book. Not just my last short story anthology or chap book, but also philosophical and media commentary and poetry.
The final book of any kind with material principally written by me.
Each of my writing projects has been an attempt at innovation; an exploration and experimentation in the form and structure of storytelling—narrative and expository. Not merely what I have never done before, but also what I’ve never seen anyone else do. Such as the summary compilations of interview content from Henriksen, Cook and Stover (which turned out rather brilliantly).
I’ve been writing for almost 20 years; non-fiction and fiction.
I’ve reached a point where it seems like a good time to stop writing. Move on to other creative endeavors, as yet to be determined or discovered. I’ve already dabbled in photography. I am now awaiting inspiration for whatever is next.
I still enjoy writing, and I haven’t gotten bored or disillusioned with the craft… but I hope to be inspired to experiment with new artistic ventures and venues.
However, I’d be willing and eager to contribute to someone else’s collection of short stories or articles, if I was invited to participate in the right project (at the right time).
Publishing and consulting on writing projects for someone who isn’t me is something I’d love to be involved in; like I did with But The Owl Knows: help bring out stories from other indie authors.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jessica Mae Stover: What the hell happened to art?

Through recombined excerpts from various interviews/videos, JSto explains the ethos of Artemis Eternal:
I love movies so much. If we could make a film that was pure, for once. Finding a new way to produce, distribute and exhibit film.
When you’re breaking new ground, you can’t just be like, “Oh, it’s like this other thing”… no one’s ever done it.
What makes me sort of a different presence here is: Man, what the hell happened to art?!
So much press was like, “why don’t we know about this project?”.
Artemis Eternal: The film, to me, is a story that is about the limitations that society puts on the individual, what’s your breaking point and how do you react to that.
Which is kinda meta, given what we’re doing with the project... which is very indie.
I sort of see it as a renaissance, we’re hoping for in filmmaking.
It’s a way of life, it’s a philosophy.
Maybe it’s counter to your philosophy—as it is to mine-- to want to sell people things they don’t need, that will end up in land fills.
Maybe you would actually like to make money off of creating art—which is your job. Maybe you don’t want to be in the advertising business.
When you’re an artist, you don’t want to deal with business.
The business nuances are incredibly difficult.
You need to understand a defunct system to make it work, and that took me a lot of research. If you’re not willing to do that, I say you’re not ready.
The overall project is a cross platform film project. The way we’re funding the film: instead of going to studios-- who don’t make original films anymore, specifically not original sci-fi/fantasy—you just don’t see that very often, if at all-- we went straight to the audience. It is the first ever community funded film.
More people doing less, contributing small amounts of money.
What we’re really talking about is a lifestyle: look at what you do have over what you don’t.
We went straight to our audience—who we dub Wingmen, we call the contributors WINGMEN. Inviting new people to join the community, then we’ll cut it off and push into production. We have this great community of people, and we’re making kick-ass art. We’re essentially creating new content with them.
It really is a community project, and people really are pulling their weight, ‘cause I’m one person. They’re always helping us kind of spread the word, and share the story, and connect with press.
It’s great when the audience has your back, it feels like you can do anything. I have a very romantic point of view. Beyond building the world of the film, I have to build, like, the infrastructure around how we’re making it.
The great thing about good sci-fi/ fantasy is that is it’s philosophy, and it’s basically a metaphor for what really happening. It’s a good way to question.
I just try to create good stories and hope they resonate.

There are a lot of people who would be into what we’re doing, but how do you reach them without a marketing budget?
When you’re working at a professional level, but you don’t have a budget… you’re screwed.
You can make the most brilliant thing in the world. And that “if you build it, they will come” thing isn’t true. That’s because you need a marketing budget. Everything is propaganda.
There is so much noise, it actually costs more to cut through the muddy waters and get your message out there.
Short films, there’s not really a market for them; you don’t really make money off of it.
So it’s like social philanthropy.
I kind of started where everyone is trying to get. Like, this doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to work this way. You can’t make films this way.
I wanted to start a project that didn’t have any studio or advertising involvement, and to see if, like, it was really possible to create something that was kick-ass and beautiful, that could be prestigious, and also be commercial.
Hollywood doesn’t make movies anymore, they make licensing platforms.
Once I found out how that system works, the studio system, I was like, “ok, do I want to work like that or no?”—NO. OK, what do I do now?
And I think it’s possible, but I basically feel like there’s a huge status quo going on, and it’s not going to be changing. I guess my hope would be, as we’re talking about a lot of these topics, to kind of be thinking outside of the box a little more, and not just accept the fact that that we have to be talking about studios and advertising.
Storytelling fills a basic human need.
More people go to the movies than go to church. You’re consuming story, consuming media… it should mean something.
And if it’s something as sacred and important to us as that, then why is it ok to watch ten commercials before a movie when you’ve paid for a ticket?
Why does it have to come from the studios? And why does it have to involve advertising?
I really don’t see why people aren’t focusing more on that [movie-going, cinema] experience.
Improving things you’ll never be able to duplicate, like theater experience.
As professionals, and as audience members, start really thinking about what storytelling and content means, what it means to us socially.
I just think there is a larger philosophy at play here, and I would urge you all not to take all the studio and advertising stuff at surface level.
As an artist, when I go to a site like Massify, when you do that, you’re setting yourself up as another Gatekeeper. Which is not what I wanted to do at all.
I, personally, would not want to be working through a gatekeeper, and I wouldn’t want to be a gatekeeper. I want to be working directly with my fans. I want to do things my way, and I don’t want to be limited.
I want to, with it, create a way that is different, that will allow other people to get their stuff made, if they’re working at a quality level. Giving film makers who have earned it to control the project more, and to get things done.
It’s not going to change the way a major studio makes films, but it will provide another avenue.
A non-zero sum philosophy of film making—which is completely opposite of how anything is done in the film industry. Someone wins, someone loses—usually it’s us (the audience) ‘cause we’re still paying for them (bad movies).
I wanted to create a business model that—and a case study that not only would yield an awesome movie that people would love, and something high minded, and to also confront things like media consolidation, when you have six companies controlling everything you’re seeing. To the artist, what’s important is they do not get tied up in the system. There needs to be an opportunity to not do that.
Let’s get organized and get it done.
All we have to do is hit our fundraising mark, crew up, and we shoot…
You wanna come?
No Wimps.