Saturday, June 9, 2012

The unsellable-sold

Hiya Hiya Hiya.
I just wanted to take a moment of your time to mention a new sale I made (happy dance!).

“Have I Got a Deal for You” will be appearing in ALIENS AMONG US by Metahuman Press's Pulp Empire imprint. The antho is made up of storied featuring interactions between regular people and those of extra terrestrial origin. Mine just happens to feature a giant space vagina. If you need more, I don’t know what to tell you.

More details will come as I find them. Meanwhile, look at the happydancing man. LOOK AT HIM!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Random old thought

The following is a draft of a post that has been sitting on here for some unknown period of time. With no sense of propriety or reason, I present it to you:

I've come across a bizarre and moderately disturbing thing whilst reading Koji Suzuki's Ring. Yep, I'm that far behind in my reading. Next up, I've been hearing some good things about this King fella.

Putting aside the random aside, there is a moment where it is revealed that the best and only friend of our intrepid, cursed reported (Asakawa) is a rapist. Somehow, this rather important detail is dropped without the slightest look back. Maybe this will be some over the top, ham handed excuse to kill him off without remorse, but DAMN! The offhand and dismissive way of dealing with this is more than a bit unsettling.

I'm a fairly reasonable guy, but I'm pretty sure I would at least call the police about this. More likely, I'd stab him in the face. Repeatedly. There would be a momentary consideration of the ramifications of forcibly sodomizing him with a candle rolled in broken glass. And I wouldn't feel unreasonable in doing so.

Knowing that I am not the only person taking this brave stance against rape, I have to question this kind of choice.

A question of intent.

Around the beginning of the year, I was directed to the Industrial Anti-Oppression blog due to an article about the oppressive nature Aesthetic Perfection’s “Inhuman” video. I’m not really interested in the argument presented (I got sick of hearing overprivileged white youths bemoaning the plight of African Americans a good decade and a half ago), but it does bring up an issue that interests me quite heavily.

How concerned should an artist be about the impact of overlaying cultural images?

Let’s back up a moment and look at the video, specifically the offending pigmentation. I get completely what Lil’ Danny Graves is aiming for here: a stark contrast with no room for blurring between. Black and white make for an easy use since most people don’t know that red and green could work just as well and they have the advantage of wide-spread cultural connotations of good and evil. Goth and industrial music very much likes to play around with these extremes, especially since it allows a simplistic deconstruction of good and bad while allying themselves with the “darkness” and outrĂ© culture, and Graves appears to be playing around with that cultural archetype.

Strigiform, the author of this article, sees a white person painted black and draws a mental connection to the US history of minstrel shows, wherein people of African heritage (played by white men in “blackface”) would be mocked and ridiculed as clowns or demonized as violent savages. Adding to this, the image of a submissive white woman being overpowered also ties into the publicized idea that black men are all out to rape white women. She sees Daniel using this cultural imagery to attack both African-American men and femininity.

I think it’s pretty clear that Graves did not intend this work as a racist or misogynist attack, but I also think he made a bit of a mistake in not accounting for this overlap of archetypes between the Goth/Industrial culture and US culture. Any piece of art gets its meaning from inside the mind of the person experiencing it and that interaction is necessarily informed by both the culture and experiences of the individual. If the artist wants a specific effect to occur, it is on them to be sure to take any other possible connotations into account.

The worthlessness of authorial intent aside, I’m curious if anyone reading this thinks that Graves should have taken this cultural image into account when making the video (he is from the States, after all), Strigiform should stop being so easily offended when she knows the cultural connotation of the black/white dichotomy in the Goth/Industrial culture (she self identifies as a rivethead, after all) or that both of them should understand that they are dealing with completely different pieces of art?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Temporaly speaking

So, I again find myself in a quandary.

I'm writing a ghost story for a PostMortem anthology set during the industrial revolution. Here's the issue: I want the time period to be clear, but I am using third person limited (main character POV). There is no reason whatsoever for her to be thinking about what time period she lives in and I don't want to be so blatant that I am basically calling the reader stupid. I was thinking about just placing a date and place stamp at the beginning, but it seems a bit lame to me, especially since there will not be a bunch of temporal jumping.

Other complications:
-The anthology somewhat calls for steampunk ghost stories, which would make the time period a given, but it doesn't limit submissions solely to that. All it takes is one other writer dealing with a haunted spaceship to completely screw me there.

-One of the eighth grade students in my school's writing group picked up on the time period right away, even if she didn't know what to call the industrial revolution (history classes are just now getting up to the civil war at this point). This should mean that I have been clear enough.

-The above mentioned student is, in all likelihood, much smarter than most people out there. Certainly more than me.

Any suggestions?

Monday, April 2, 2012

In Memorium

On the morning of Sunday, April 1, 2012, Asterisk past from us into whatever hopeful dreams in which we wish to spend our eternities

He was our first fertie, the last of the OG crew that once ran rampant through our halls. He's the one who would terrify friends with his easy use of sharp teeth. The one who once, after I finished explaining that he always gently removed the treats from my hand, mistook a bit of finger for the food at close range. He tried to run under the couch with my fat digit firmly in his grip. When first introduced to Didymus, our fearless little snaggletooth runt, he tried to drag him behind the bookshelf with all of his other stolen possessions. He seemed to get a great amount of joy from making my wife squeal as he chased her around the room and I'm pretty sure that I caught him devising new ways to cause mischief several times. He helped Critter, bitter old man that he was, during his own sickness, with comfort and play as needed. In his last months, when he wanted to be held, he would tell me with a sharp nip on my feet.

He was my big man. A tough bastard that weathered his last days with a strength I can only hope to show when my own time comes. Unable to walk, he crawled. Cleaning himself when he could no longer eat because appearance was apparently quite important to him. He still dictated where he would rest and how, even though we had to carry him much of the time.

I felt his last breath, and with it all that he was, leave him. While our house is not void, it is a little more empty. A little less full of joy and gibbering goofiness. That little bit makes all the difference now, and I'll miss him dearly.

Goodbye, dear friend and carpet shark extraordinaire.

addendum: if you have a moment, please stop by Piper Morgan's blog for an explanation, in better words than I can possibly conceive, of why I love these little toothy fuckers so much.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Cracker Day

It must be happy cracker day, because I am one happy fuckin cracker.

I just found out that David Tiso has added two of my favorite musicians to Ephel Duath: Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Death, Iced Earth, Control Denied, etc.-otherwise known as the best mother fucking metal bassist in the damn world) and Karyn Crisis (crisis and solo work-aka the lungs of the Navarone). I haven’t heard anything from Ephel Duath and tend to shy away from prog, but I can’t resist those two. Initially, there will be an ep and I’ll let you know when I have it in my grubby little hands.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

How Much is Too Much?

So, I’m working on a story for an upcoming anthology that specifies a Lovecraftian bias. Of course, in these circumstances, the goal is to tie into the existing mythology while maintaining my own voice and ideas, so long as they respect the rules and established mood of that mythology. However, that’s a heck of a balancing act, especially since I‘m using a specific story as a general basis.

I want to have cues in there that fans can pick up on without spending too much time winking directly at them and I definitely don’t want to be a thieving little bastard. I guess that’s what I’m struggling with. No matter what I do, it is still stealing in some sense. The original idea came from someone else’s head, after all. But I’m manipulating it into something new, I hope. Something that has been processed through my own experiences and worldview and manipulated into a new beast instead of a boring retread.

How the hell does anyone do that?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Cynic looks at The New Sincerity

Yesterday, I was catching up on last year’s South Park and a couple of the episodes caught me right in the gullet. Maybe I need to back up a little bit though.

Even though the Manifesto for the New Sincerity surfaced in 2006, the term itself was in use back in the mid-1980’s, even showing up in Russian literary criticism, and the basic idea is nothing new whatsoever. To put it simply, it is honestly admitting to thinking and feeling whatever it is that you are thinking and feeling. No sarcasm masked under the misused name of irony, no fronting, no bullshit. You don’t get to say that you are too cool to get giddy over the ‘splosions in the new Transformers movie or that you’re too tough to cry when your cat dies.

Own up to it, live it and be whatever the hell you are. Period.

This is where I come in, as a member of a generation that spent pretty much all of our time trying to pretend that we were too cool for every mother fucking thing on the goddamn planet. I hate, hate, HATE hipsters, but they are the only possible outcome of what we were aiming for. We were supposed to be too jaded to find anything exciting, too worldly to be surprised or offended, too empty to feel at all. And we were so proud of this that we all actively endeavored to reach that state. Worse, after years upon years of playing at it, we kinda became what we wanted to be.

And it sucks.

The aforementioned South Park episodes focus on Stan, a year older, muddling through a world where everything turns to shit before his eyes (in a way, it reminded me of Raistlin Majere’s predicament). That’s basically what it is like, and we don’t quite know how to turn it off, even in other people. That’s how we get debates about the relative seriousness of bands like The Darkness or Foxy Shazam or Tycho Brahe's assumption that there is no distinction at all between the New Sincerity and "the old irony". They can’t just be awesome because awesomeness just feels fricking awesome. It’s impossible. I’m not allowed to go all out like that without fear of other people thinking I’m some lame douche, so neither are they. They must be trying to sarcastically poke fun at something, instead of doing whatever they want, without fear of reprisal.

We’re living in the middle of an amazing time for ourselves and the world. There is shit happening that should be blowing us all away, making us laugh, cry and riot in the streets. As much as I generally don’t agree with either the Occupy or Tea Party movements, I heartily wish I could care about anything as much as those people seem to. And here I am, standing on the wrong side of the net around the ball pit, unable to come in and play. I really want to all-out enjoy/rage against it all, but I’m stuck thinking that doing so is somehow wrong.

As previously stated, it sucks, but I don't know what to do about it and I can't afford Jameson's.