Thursday, June 30, 2005

In my dream Tuesday night, I was driving just west of Parkway Plaza at night, around the Trolley station. I there encountered Herbie (the "lovebug"). I got out of my car just moments before it and Herbie engaged in a terrifying melee.

The sounds of pounding and screeching metal filled the black atmosphere of the empty night. It was fortunate the Trolley station lot would be so deserted at that hour else scores of passers-by could not help but be pulverised by the grappling vehicles. Before long, orange flames were slashing at the sky as the once car-shaped fighters were now reduced to writhing, desperate strips of gnarled black metal.

But Herbie died and I felt a moment's pride in my own car before it, too, succumbed to fatal injuries.

Anyway, I did a "Lara Croft" version of Nar'eth for the latest pin-up.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sunday, for no reason at all, I did two pages of Boschen and Nesuko. I don't usually do that unless I'm behind, but I was feeling oddly fired up or something.

Saturday, I'd been thinking maybe I'd fallen out of love with rock music. I was driving along, listening to Charlie Parker, and I started thinking about the keen little depth charges rock used to drop in my mental waters that of late only jazz and Tchaikovsky seem able to do. But Sunday's good Boschen and Nesuko day also ended up being a good rock day. Which was maybe what egged me on to keep drawing, anyway.

I started off with The Dresden Dolls, then Elvis Costello's Blood and Chocolate, Rasputina's Frustration Plantation, David Bowie's Hunky Dory, and finished the rock album section with Morrissey's Vauxhall and I before switching to movie soundtracks (Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo soundtrack and John Williams' Revenge of the Sith). You know, you'd think two pages would require more albums. But maybe the shortness of the list has to do with both pages using the same colour palette. Although I did most of the colouring without music . . . hmm . . .

Aren't I exciting?

Scientology's been a hot topic for derision lately and, sure, it deserves it. I considered myself somewhat ignorant about the particulars of the cult, so I read around a bit on it last week.

I heartily recommend reading William S. Burroughs' thoughts on the subject. If you haven't already.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It's hard to put away groceries when Lucky the Cat is sitting there with an expression on his face like, "Hey, man, what're you doin'? You still have some explaining to do!"

I don't know what I need to explain, what trespass I may've unwittingly made in the cat world. Oh well. He seems to realise I cannot know, for he now gazes, sober, at the trees behind the house.

And about Jimmy Cagney, I say his body was like a dog but his head like a cat's.

I watched The Public Enemy last night. There were a lot of simply good movies in the 1930s. Movies that were just nice stories without worrying about being mega-watt blockbleeders but adhering to a no-sloppy philosophy.

It's the movie that made Cagney a star and it's got the grapefruit in the face scene. And a surprisingly small role for Jean Harlow.

A good bunch of guys who happen to be bootleggers and occasionally robbers and vandals. Done well.

Monday, June 20, 2005

So there's this new Batman movie out and it's pretty good. Batman, for you Kevin Mahers out there, was originally a comic book character who's become extremely popular over the past sixty years and has seen many incarnations. In the media of moving pictures (and no, The Dark Knight Returns doesn't work as a flip book), Batman Begins is the best Batman in nearly every way.

There's a plain canniness about Christopher Nolan's direction and, for the most part, editing is excellently communicative. In fact, especially during the first half of the movie, it can be said that Nolan's direction sinks comfortably into the styrofoam cup holders of our perceptions, and we feel a direct feed with the world of Bruce Wayne.

It's a movie that sits you down and broaches the discussion, "So, just how would a fellow get to be Batman?" And it's an intelligent and stimulating discussion. Christian Bale is excellent at getting the emotions for each segment, and the emotional core of every step on the road to Batmanness is consequentially felt by us. It's two things--there's a more realistic setting and society than previous Batmans and Bale's keen inhabitation of the story. When his parents' killer is on trial, and Wayne goes through a series of very pivotal decisions, Bale brings across the conflict on the face while still being the college misfit Wayne is at this point.

Set design, especially the area of Gotham known as "The Narrows", is beautiful, sombre, and unabashedly Blade Runner-inspired. Which is real good.

By now, actually, I'm sure you've read all about the movie's general greatness. There were only a couple of complaints I had about the film . . . The fight scenes were mostly disappointingly muddled, filmed seemingly with long lenses zoomed in to where you can see only confusing arm and leg motions. Sometimes, that's appropriate, but other times, it's only frustrating. The screenplay had mainly decent dialogue, and the incredible supporting cast made it seem often brilliant. But, as Robyn pointed out, there's this cloying "rhyming" problem, where characters keep repeating certain lines all through the movie. I suppose it's effective for driving certain points home, but I gotta think there're better ways of doing it.

So that's said.

I took a quiz made by Christa Faust, the result of which, as you can see, I have good reason to be proud of;

You are Philip Marlowe

Which Harboiled Dick Are You?
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Friday, June 17, 2005

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. This one's for the ladies [who're attracted to men. May also apply to men who're attracted to men in participating locations].
What a long, wasted day. Like it was eaten by a whale.

My grandmother had artery surgery recently so she needs me to drive her places, and Thursday morning she decided it was absolutely necessary to go TV shopping at Best Buy. The bulk of the day was then spent listening to Salesman Raoul and a connoisseur passer-by explain the finer points of plasma versus LCD/projection. Over and over again.

Having to run errands for my grandmother on Tuesday made me a day behind, so I worked on Boschen and Nesuko until 6am, before having to get up early for the maids on Thursday.

Ugh. So Thursday night I made damn sure to get the penultimate page done, even though I have to get up early again to-day. I'll probably sleep most of the day after that and not start the final page until evening. Oh, wait, I have to go back to Best Buy to-morrow to sign something . . . I say, ugh. I'm sure it'll all work out somehow . . .

At least when I switched on the television this evening I had Jennifer Connelly to look at, in the trailer for her new mundane horror movie.

The best part of Requiem for a Dream was ogling her, am I right? Hehe.

Seriously, kids, say no to drugs.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It makes me happy that Star Wars is beating Cinderella Man in the box office. Now maybe Ronny Howard'll go on Oprah and cry into her bosom.
I've spent too much time playing Dr. Mario this evening. Over and over, I lose. The game sucks. Right? Right.

I've watched all the special features on the new DVD release of Raging Bull. I was amazed by how much of the dialogue between Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro was improvised. But not as amazed as I was by the real Jake LaMotta's enthusiastic cooperation not only with the making of the movie, but also with the documentaries. He really seems to like and respect the movie. Maybe I'm wrong, but to me that seems indicative of a great deal of maturation on his part. I mean, to enjoy this movie that lays bare his most vulnerable self as well as his most despicable--from portrayals of his violent paranoia and his grovelling self abuse in prison, it seems hardly the image the brutish champion fighter would want presented.

There was an eerie moment in the documentary that had shots of DeNiro in the movie delivering the On the Waterfront monologue inter-cut with shots of LaMotta performing the same monologue. LaMotta delivers it not like he's the character saying it but like he's a movie fan repeating lines that moved him deeply. As though he's saying, "You hear him? How he puts it? He coulda been a contender. He could've been somebody."

It made me think again about the relevance of that monologue in the movie. Obviously, unlike Brando's character, LaMotta in fact was a contender. More than that, a champion. I like to think that it means that to the truly passionate, the accomplishment of goals cannot ever truly be fulfilling.

Things must've really mellowed out after the events of the movie. LaMotta said he even went to the premiere with Vicky, his second wife played by Cathy Moriarty in the movie. He said that, when they came out of the movie, he asked Vicky if he was really that bad. She told him, "You were worse."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I actually drove my car yesterday. It started right up, even though I've not driven it since mid-December. I got an oil change and some gas and to-morrow I get the dratted brake lights fixed. Which shall be free, which is good, as the thirty dollars on oil and gas spent yesterday reminded me of one of the great things about not using a car. Which would be--not spending thirty dollars on intangible, practically frivolous things.

But, gods, it's too easy . . . The route I took to get gas and return was maybe a five minute drive. It would have taken me half the day to walk it. I love the feeling. No wonder I used to casually drive to North County for a cup of coffee, or to La Jolla for a cinnamon roll.

I guess it'll be nice to able to get to La Jolla again. The trolley goes downtown, where, obviously, there're plenty of things available. But Tower Records is in La Jolla, as well as one of the few Landmark cinemas in town.

I really oughta start working on the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter. I have several rather complex plans for it, but I've learned my lesson about trying to write these things before I've had enough coffee. I used to try to write them early in the day, but the past several chapters, I've made sure it was well after I've had at least three coffees.

Ugh, I don't wanna get up early to-morrow. Stupid car. I hope it grows legs with expensive shoes and spats and starts laughing furiously about land deals while puffing a big cigar. I hope it then falls over on its ragged mattress and realises that those gay nights are but a dream of yesterday, and to-day is the mouldy walls of plaster all round. Then maybe my car will have learned something and will come back to me with sense and a willingness to cooperate and run without gas.

Oh, I'm sorry, car, that was harsh of me. You're doing your best, you've taken me over very long, lethargic distances. Gods, crossing a thousand miles is only slightly more difficult than sleeping. It's unfortunate somehow.

Under one skirt.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The by now infamously stupid article from the Times has already been responded to more than adequately by at least four blog posts I've read (One by Robyn, one by Neil Gaiman, and two linked to in Gaiman's post). But I felt like adding my cents to a few things;

The question is: who gets to the money first? The answer, of course, is the comic-book geek. Why? Because the other three are figments of his imagination.

With his opening paragraph, Mr. Maher seems to borrow a bit from Chasing Amy. While it's true the Several People on a Road analogy isn't original to Chasing Amy, the context can't help but bring the movie to mind. Directed by the notorious comic book fan Kevin Smith, any pilfering of its play would be pathetic hypocrisy on Maher's part. But let's wait and see if Maher makes any other Smith allusions . . .

[Sin City] is so steeped in fetishistic adolescent imagery and casual misogyny that it overexposes the sinister appetites of its hardcore fanbase.

Are fetishism and adolescence sinister? It's true, teenagers can be annoying, but not necessarily wicked. And anyway, most of the main characters in Sin City aren't teenagers, nor do they say or do things that are normally confined to teenagers--shooting, killing, fighting, rescuing people, looking good. As for fetishism, what's wrong with really liking something specific?

Oh yeah, and casual misogyny. Maher doesn't back up this claim, so there's nothing to argue with. For the record, Sin City isn't misogynistic. What, I have to prove its innocence? You first, Maher.

(paedophilia and slut-killing are big in Sin City)

Yeah, among the villains. You'd almost think they were bad things.

and so relentless is the leering softcore depiction of prostitutes, dancers and slatternly lowlifes, that the movie unwittingly reveals the frank and masturbatory hatred of women that is fundamental to any understanding of the comic-book geek.

Never mind that these women are often shown doing intelligent and powerful things (Miho taking out a carload of bad guys, Gail running a small society of women who regularly best two societies of men). Unless I'm missing something, the women all seem to be cast in a very favourable light. The drama hinges on the audience wanting things to go well for them--Marv's quest to avenge Goldie needs us to feel sorry she died (or sympathise with him feeling sorry about it), Hartigan's quest to save Nancy needs us to feel she's worth it (which the story doesn't seem to feel it needs to try very hard to accomplish), and the Big Fat Kill is all about saving a whole bunch of women garbed in, as Maher might have it, the cloth of Satan. Masturbatory, maybe. Hateful, gods, ludicrously not. My suggestion to Maher is that he try masturbation. He might find it gives him a surprisingly positive view of imaginary women.

For most people (those who have a life and don’t actually care about the great intergalactic struggle between Marvel and DC comics) contact with comic books is generally a secondary experience. It is something filtered through the enthusiasm of publicly anointed geek figureheads, such as the director Kevin Smith . . .

We have another Smith allusion, folks. And remember, if you care about comics on more that a peripheral level, you should see a doctor.

What these men represent, with their giddy encyclopaedic knowledge of comic lore, their tired eyes, and soft, unthreatening, roly-poly demeanours, is the cosy comfortable face of a jaded industry that’s male-dominated and entirely hostile to women,

Yes, they who are entirely hostile to women are soft, unthreatening, and cosy comfortable. Oh, whatever shall women do? To compound it, the characters in Smith's movies often seem to really dig women. What cunning! What could he be plotting?!

action “heroines” with enormous breasts and great boots)

Okay, enormous breasts can look silly, but great boots? Honestly, what kicks ass better than a great boot?

Anyway, what's wrong with large breasts? If drawn properly, I think they can look pretty decent. Sure, they're not realistically useful for combat, but neither is spandex--and the guys wear plenty of that, too.

If the idea is that mass approval of large breasts lower the self-esteem of women with small breasts, I say this is a silly argument. Since Greeks have been making statues, people've been looking at beautiful, unattainable versions of humanity. Why? Because people like looking at pretty things, and it's even better if they're sexually attracted to them.

You can't make better, more mature people by dictating what physical attributes they ought to be attracted to. The realisation that a person with a great mind is a more fulfilling companion than one with a great body is not something that can be instilled with images of breasts. It's something a person works out on his or her own.

And similarly, a woman who doesn't feel she can get the man she wants without a perfect body needs to mature to the point where she realises a man with that resolute priority for his mate is not a better man for it.

In any case, let's not sacrifice our beautiful pictures for the sake of fools.

In the past, some half-hearted attempts were made to divest the industry of its porn connotations.

Yes, half-hearted non-porno series like Superman, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk. Notice how Maher avoids mentioning the more well-known heroes and heroines?

Sadly, today, despite some pretty lonely websites such as Friends of Lulu (“Bringing Comics to Women!”), the fundamental law of the comic-book universe states that the geeks are male, and the breasts are large.

Yes, it's a fundamental law, as long as you ignore all the exceptions. Or refer to them as "lonely."

Not convinced?

Not convinced, you adorable bobbin.

Listen to Knowles pontificating online about Sin City. A self-declared “friend” of the director (he nabbed a walk-on part in Rodriguez’s The Faculty), he warns his fellow fanboys that Sin City will “sate each and every perverted drooling doodle of a thought you’ve had”.

For we damned of the comic fandom hover miserably in our heathen hovels, pummelling our own feverish minds with condemnation of our perversion! Or maybe Knowles doesn't consider it a bad thing and that was meant tongue-in-cheek. Who knows? Who could interpret that fiendishly ambiguous statement of moral perspective?

He then describes the sexual experiences that he’d like to have with various Sin City babes, before summing up the movie, and the entire comic-book world view, by declaring that Sin City is ultimately about “everything that made Robert and Frank’s d***s hard . . . the culmination of dreaming the big dirty dreams about d***s and dames!” Nice. Let’s hope he spends his $100 bill in the right store.

Gee, why would someone use sexual arousal as a metaphor for joy? That's just weird. Sex is so icky.

Next, Maher makes cute lists of the characteristics females in comic books are known to sport.

Tiny waist, thunder thighs, muscular buttocks, watermelon breasts and non-existent costume.

Unlike the realistic features of comic book males.

Unlike male counterparts, female comic heroines are skilled in the mundane arts, such as gymnastics (DC’s Huntress), “online skills” (seriously! See DC’s desk-bound Oracle) and messing with the emotional centres of the brain (typical woman! See Marvel’s Malice).

Yes, for things like super-strength, one needs to seek out obscure heroines like, oh, say, Wonder-Woman. Meanwhile, men are never saddled with mundane acrobatics or computer skills (except for the little known "Batman" and a million others not worth mentioning).

Rarely privileged with central roles, comic babes are restricted to supporting parts on the villainous periphery — see Spider-Man villain White Rabbit or Batman’s voluptuous stalker, Harley Quinn.

Man, comic book geeks hate women so much, they hardly ever demonise them! What's up with that? You know, looking at the large absence of female villains in comics through history, you'd almost think these mythologies got started in the 1930s and 1940s!

“You’re right about me! I’m nothing but a selfish slut who threw away the only man she ever loved . . . I’m such a fool. Such a selfish stupid slut.” (Ava in
Sin City).

I'm sure there's no context issue here, and I'm sure the character Ava speaks for everyone and is being in no way self-deprecating. And if she were, self-deprecation is a trait we only give to people we despise and don't identify with in any way. We all know how perfect we are.

Career Prospects:
Not promising. Batwoman is killed, Batgirl is paralysed, Mirage is raped, while Black Canary is tortured, made infertile, and de-powered!

How come bad things never happen to the men? It's not like Superman ever died . . .

Friday, June 03, 2005

The new Boschen and Nesuko chapter's up. Boy, was it ever difficult. For several reasons. I got a lot happier with it, though, after I changed one, single line of dialogue. Funny how little things can go such a long way.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I noticed, the other day, that someone had made a shopping cart gallery over by the Michael's. In the empty lot, someone had lined up carts, one representative for every fleet in the vicinity. One from Michael's, one from Wal-Mart, one from Target, one from Ross, etcetera. There were about twelve of them, some of which must have come from stores a couple of miles distant. The lineup's been there for several days now.

I was at Michael's to get another pad of tracing paper. In case anyone doesn't know, I make the Boschen and Nesuko pages by drawing them in pencil on a sketch pad first, and then inking them on a piece of tracing paper I staple over the pencil drawing. I've been doing it this way since chapter four--before, I'd ink right on the sketch pad paper. I have a feeling I oughtn't use staples as it occasionally creates bubbles, but I don't have a better technique available at the moment.

I'm a little curious to see how this new chapter goes over. There's a good chance a lot of people are going to find it extremely disappointing. But, all's I can say is this is where the story seemed to be going, to me. It seems like what ought to come next. And I think I would be disappointed by anything else.

Here I am getting all defensive about something people haven't even read yet . . .

Could anyone tell I modelled King Olveib after Adolphe Menjou? I don't think I made his jaw quite big enough, but that's okay . . . It's King Olveib, not Adolphe Menjou, after all.

I'd better get to my tasks for to-day. Yesterday, Poppy Z. Brite was wantonly committing LJ sins, a blasphemous orgy of wickedness that culminated in her creating a quiz which I, like many, partook of. So now I know where to eat if I visit New Orleans;

You are Marisol. You are eclectic, innovative, and
a little dangerous, but not quite as crazy as
people tend to think -- you have strong
principles and a solid grounding in culinary
tradition. You do exactly what you believe in
and don't give a good goddamn what anybody
thinks. Some people resent you for that, but
you really have no choice in the matter; you're
incapable of compromise.

What Famous New Orleans Restaurant Are You?
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