Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Weekly God Inoculation

Stuart asked me a question the other night that I had sort of considered a fact of life. The more I thought about it though, the more it seemed like a pretty profound thing. Maybe its just me....

Church is something that I grew up with, and assumed that everyone else did too. It's one of those childish ignorances that inexperience yields, like my confusion as everyone on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego wanted to go to California. (why would anybody want to go here on vacation? Don't we all live there? Wouldn't you rather go somewhere exotic?)

Of course I learned a long long time ago that not everyone goes to church, but it's been a long time ingrained in my that everyone, least most everyone, grows up with religion in their life. I never thought of my family as being religious, but I went to church every Sunday for....well.... I assume it was at least a few years. Then it was every other week or so, then for many years it was Easter and Christmas (incidentally the worst times to go to church, because it was taken entirely too seriously). In fact, going to church on Easter and Christmas as a non-practicing family was something that I remember being a cultural norm well into my jr. high years. In high school people who "weren't religious" were really surprised, if they "were religious", shocked, to find that I had stopped attending church altogether. Ever. This despite the fact that I referred to myself as "Christian, I guess" and definitely thought of myself as spiritual (a phrase my mom still uses frequently when being religious seems inappropriate).

It's important for me to note that, although my parents are Christian and do not entirely share my ideologies, their beliefs and guidance are definitely a big part of why I think the way I do. I hold most of their beliefs about the world, save that one about God. But they never lied to me, never mislead me, and always helped find answers to any question.

Religion and theology are grand ideas, central to much of humanity and possibly older than any other cultural beliefs. They are fundamental to our understanding of the universe. At the same time, they are very, very much a matter of opinion. We have more direct evidence to support theories of physics that we have never experienced and are in direct contradiction with the ones we do.

I was never told that God existed. Or that Christianity was truthful. But it was heavily implied, and no attempt was made to directly dilute phrases like "thank you God who art in heaven" or "we give thanks to you our Lord, father of all". Those are big statements for an impressionable kid, and my church was full of them. I assume that most churches are, because mine was hardly evangelical. We read scripture and talked about being a better person. But you were really hard pressed to go more than a few sentences without hearing something from the set [God, Jesus, Lord, Savior, Praise, Worship, Almighty], all words which I now hear with definite distaste.

Actually, I'm sure my folks did tell me things like "no, we don't know if God exists" and "no religion is the right one". I think my mom always gave a little sigh before she said things like that, like they were opening a door she would've preferred to stay shut, but knew that it needed to be opened.

This is all a little melodramatic, so I mention how quickly I was disillusioned and began my journey to non belief. All this grandiose high and mighty crap comes from Sunday school. I loathed Sunday school. I think we're all pretty susceptible as children, and being told that in the past there used to be magic is a big thing. It's like Santa, or the Easter bunny, or anything that you're led to believe is true up to a certain age. The fact that you know they exist gives realism and hope to dozens of other beliefs that culture tends to rely on to define "childhood". Not that you reeeeeeeally believe Sata exists as he's explained to you, but for a time the fact that the impossible is possible gives explanation for so many unknowable things. Most are just revealed to be not true. Santa, bunny, card tricks, the democratic process. Some actually do endure up through adulthood. I wish I could forget all the times I've heard the word "magically" used to explain how skin care products work.

Sunday school for me was about real life stories. Now, I'm a little surprised that adults are fed lines about mystical forces and vague generalities about how to live, and the children are given specific, concrete examples that could hypothetically take place today, but involve miracles and earthly evidence of the devine. This seems a little bass ackward to me. I guess kids can't be expected to make the leap of faith! I think adults just think kids are stupid. At least Santa came when I was asleep. "God is with you all the time" was a pretty easy statement to disprove when I didn't understand it's poetic depth.

So, one day, when we were being told about Jesus healing the sick and transmogrifying matter, the skeptic that had been growing in me for years crept out and asked my hapless teacher "was Jesus a real person, or is he just a character?". I got a deer-in-the-headlights look from my teacher for a few minutes before it was followed by a very respectable, very ambiguous "some people believe he was, but we don't really know for sure." This prompted me thinking there was really no real reason why we were Christian and not Jewish, seeing as Jesus's existence was the only difference between the two in my mind. This, in turn, prompted my questioning of our being any religion at all, since we have no way of choosing.

I think my resistance to going to Sunday school was pretty solid from that point forward. It didn't take long to reject words like "worship" and "lord", but rejecting words like "God" and "heaven" was a much more scary process.

It just seems really strange to me. A belief structure, religion in general, is a pretty heavy thing to incorporate into your life. It's like a wierd scary movie where there's this invisible thing around you all the time. Except it's friendly. It's supposed to be so important that it becomes a major part of your life, an assumption, and for some a focal point.

So how come we were all dragged back to church? Why do we need weekly shots of God to maintain the faith? Along with broccoli and homework, God was one of those painful thigns that was good for you. If it was so wonderful and natural, why did everyone hate it so much? Nobody ever said broccoli and homework were great. Just necessary.

Coming to the conclusion that religion wasn't necessarily true, and that all I had to do was STOP BELIEVING, was a frightening freedom. Coming to the conclusion that it was essentially a millenium old scam to trick people into not killing themselves and others was an insulting jolt.

I do miss my church-inspired beliefs. I miss thinking that everything was goign to be ok, no matter what. I miss dreaming about Heaven. I miss thinking that there was always help out there. I miss thinking that whatever happens, I'll always get another chance and another life. But I'm glad I found my own answers. Church always left a bad taste in my mouth similar to when the answer to a question was "because".

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I've been envious of my friends who were musicians or drawers or painters for a long time. They were artists, and I wasn't. They could create and express on a level that I was not invited to.

On my Oxy application I talked about woodworking as my only creative outlet, but in reality, that wasn't true. It wasn't my window to expression. Isn't. Woodworking has always felt like a glorified craft to me. It's creative but not expressive. In fact, one of the reasons I liked it was exactly because it was less expressive. I had a really hard time knowing what to paint or sculpt in classes. I was mortified. Even with all my loud mouthery and opinionated pontificating I was unable to think of anything to express in my sculpture class at Oxy. All I wanted to do was build.

I've found that images are the most meaningful form of input for me. I can feel my gut reaction to images much better than I can to sounds or words. The only thing I like more than seeing is touching. But touch is shallow to me. It's one dimensional, hedonistic. Images are both pleasurable and meaningful. They can express and please simultaneously. That's what I think "artists" want to be part of.

I took a photo class in high school because I wanted to touch things. Thats what electives meant to me. Cooking, wood working, painting, journalism. Required education involved only intellectual stimuli. No sensory input. Specifically no touch. The less touch, the less I was interested. I always wanted to play with paints and instruments more than I wanted to create music or paintings. But I knew the romantic glory of art, and didn't want to dabble in the superficial elements of craft without achieving any of the philosophical depth of a medium.

So, I went for photography. It seemed easy. My dad did it all the time, I'd seen more pictures than I had paintings or songs or sculptures, and I didn't have to think too much about what I wanted to say. I could shoot what I thought was interesting, and wait to blow intellectual smoke up someone's butt later. (I've learned since that this is in fact what many artists do a good deal of the time, in all media. I even had art teachers telling me to do this without realizing it. "Everything you create is an expression of who you are, even if you don't know what that is.")

So, I borrowed my dad's camera, had a wonderful time touching it, the paper, the development equipment, and tried to take pictures of things I wanted to touch. I found the most pleasure taking pictures of things that were too big or too intangible to actually touch with my hands. The results were mediocre at best. Very forgettable, very thoughtless, very novice. I wasn't frustrated though, because I didn't have any plans to say anything with the lens. I at best hoped to create an image that was neat looking.

I got a very cheap film camera from a thrift store my second year at Oxy, and pretty much just played with it. My interest has grown steadily since, and I think with this class I'm taking I finally have a grasp of what the medium means to me.

Photography's strength, as with all art, is communication of things otherwise noncommunicable. Photographers depict the invisible that exists beneath the immediately visible. This can be two fold. They can show emotion, ideas, relationships. Actually show what a poem describes, similar to the way a painter might. And/or they can reveal things that are visible but are often overlooked; present that which the photographer thinks is important, but is not usually noticed. If you can do both, you're doing well.

The second has been my only interest up till now. Well, I shouldn't say that. It's been my primary interest, and the only thing I could do half way decent. My desire to "touch" comes from a fascination with texture and pattern, I think. Shooting objects and abstracts lets me touch those elusive invisible things, and lets my try to explain my desire to do so. If I can take a picture of peeling paint and make it seem engaging and elegant, then maybe you will understand and sympathize with my desire to absorb it into myself. Not to mention my frustration when I discovered that actually touching those things ruins them.

Thats one explanation. The other lurking truth is that taking objects absolved me from doing what's really scary in photography. Shooting people and time.

I'm still drawn to the images of William Eggeleston and Edward Steichen for the above reasons, and I've always been frustrated by the artistic and popular acclaim for Walker Evans, Dorothea Lang and Eugene Smith. Their art was always hailed as the greatest contribution to photography, the value of the medium and the true integrity of the artist's heart. And I never liked their work! They were of people, they were emotional and tragic, but ultimately unfulfilling. The objects were not textured and palpable. There were no patterns that I could drink or shapes that excited me. I think now I'm finally starting to get it. They are photographing the intangible and telling stories armed only with what actually exists. They are telling a story with an image that only exists for one instant.

I'm sure I understood this before, but I didn't really have a frame of reference. Well, now I do. Somewhat, anyway. Having been in this class I finally feel like I'm able to (albeit not very competently) see the intangible in the tangible. And I'm learning to draw it into the lens. The reason I think this sort of photography has been elusive up till this point is that it requires me to put myself in the scenarios that I want to depict. I have to engage with the subject and the environment the a way I don't when shooting objects that aren't going anywhere. I've always imagined photography and art production in general to be a very personal, relatively solitary process. Having to be social and outgoing toward strangers is sort of uncharted territory. Thankfully, it ads another element of pleasure to the whole process. It's scary, but when it works, it makes the whole process more personal.

There's a texture and a pattern to emotion and temporality that I want to show. I can't capture it yet, but I can finally see it in other artist's images. That's a start I think... For the time being I'll have to be satisfied with telling simple stories and capturing ideas in an image. I think that's worth my money.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Self Explanatory


me: ?
ye scurvy dog best be plannin to plunder some magical booty this eve


me: or ill run ye through!

Fred: The greatest of treasure troves this pirate be seeking!
Gold and riches, magical creatures, and powerful voodoo from the lands of the Far East!

me: we set sail for the shores of nerddom once our bellies are full of ill gotten goods from the dank stink of down town!
dude, i cant keep this up
this is hard

Fred: YARRRR!!!


Fred: Be ye still dinning with yer wench this eve, and by what hour of night's dark embrace think ye'll be ready to set sail on the high seas for adventure?

me: 8 prolly....yar
hold on lemme check....matee


me: avast! the sinister damsels of fate be meddlin with our affairs!
the tavern of which we seek be dead upon the hour we wish to plunder


me: we be needin to set sail sooner
a plan, methinks, be in order

Fred: Would a different day to set sail on our voyage be more advantageous, and perhaps the sea more favorable to our journey?

me: nar, we cannot wait


me: while our bellies be empty their growl will ony spur our gluttonous ravagings!
we need capture the booty then celebrate with grogg and mutton!


me: i need councel with my live-in-wench 'fore we raise anchor
but this plan be a good one, says i

Fred: YARRRR, agree does I. For been a long fortnight I've been lusting after the magics and adding to my treasure trove!

me: sweet

Youre Doing Everything Wrong, But It's OK!

I had my first day of my first class since college last night. It's a photography class called Photographing the Moment. It's being taught by a very experienced photojournalist, who's name escapes me, and who scares the crap out of me.

It looks to be an awesome class. It's an art class, not an art history class, or a DIY class. Because of that, I'm experiencing for the first time what everyone who has always loved to paint said they hated so much about formal art classes. Being told that youre doing what you love wrong. Or, possibly worse, that youre doing just fine, but not as good as someone who is doing it stylistically differently.

Our first lectures (3 hour class, multiple lectures) were about "the best"s and "never"s and "all those hacks at National Geographic"s. I'm going to make note that using absolute terms like "never" and "always" too much when it comes to artistic approaches makes you sound pompous and like an ass. All these comments were quickly followed by "but thats ok!" which was a little confusing.

That being said, this class is going to be amazing, and I do like the prof. He's is a pompous ass, but he's fully aware of it, and has no intention of having us take him too seriously. He clearly knows what he's talking about and is very accomodating. I do dread the peer crtique periods though... Welcome to art school! uh, class.

I'm going to have weekly assignments, the first of which im very nervous about. I want to do well and I'm very scared of my own confidence. I'm trying really hard to pretend I have no expectations, and having people look at my stuff and say "eeh, it's ok" is ok. Truth is though, I want to be good, and I want to do well. I fear that "do well" means "be praised" though.

So expect a camera in your face for the next month. It's a for class!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Hyperbolic Bitchfest

I'm pretty sure bitchfest is a compound word.

Forgive me if I say something thats overly harsh. I'm mad and I desire emotional ventilation.

I'm mad at creationists. Not Creationism, that I think is silly but harmless. No it's the people who encourage Creationist theories that I'm wishing ill upon at the moment.

I was listening to KPCC (cause I can't get KCRW. not that KPCC isn't great, but I miss the end of the alphabet) today and heard that United States'ian Creationists are trying to make nice nice with fundamental Iranian Islamic Creationists with whom they bitterly disagree with on all other points of contention except the general desire to not murder children and puppies.

This historic and wonderful joining of two opposing yet concerned humanitarian groups resulted in biologists being driven out of universities, students being confused by the stark contradictions within paragraphs of their text as Creationism vies with Natural Selection for intellectual space that incidentally can easily be shared, and science as a mode of thought and discovery being called into question by dissecting the word "theory", all in a part of the world with enough problems already.

There are a number of beliefs at the moment which I vehemently disagree with, and they come from all over the cultural spectrum. From sexual conscription to the fundamental principles of Jihad to anti-abortionism, I take issue with these ideas at, what I consider to be, a basic level of logical analysis.

However, I am hard pressed to find another widely held belief system which actively seeks to eradicate knowledge. Anti-abortionists have a valid point that I disagree with. Homophobes simply refuse to see reason, but don't seem to be on a mission to falsify anything. Creationists seem to be hellbent on making sure that not only are their views heard, but opposing views are systematically removed from places where they can be presented appropriately. They are removing factual information and replacing it with religious conjecture and literary hearsay. I feel like well-meaning and surely very nice Creationists are stunting the processes by which we approach human understanding and global maturity by insisting that neither science nor religion be treated with the respect they deserve.

I feel profoundly frustrated and angry because I feel like the hard truths of the world are difficult to accept and many things about life and reality don't fit the diznee colored view of our lives that makes them easy to deal with. But knowing the way things really are makes us better people. It's when we see a new truth in a hurricane of partial or non-truths that we find actual fact difficult to deal with. Spirituality is a truth in and of itself. Natural Selection, in all likelihood, functions slightly different from how we imagine it to. There are even some truths behind genital mutilation, Nazi genocide and Paris Hilton. And I'm not saying Creationists are worse than Nazis, or even Paris Hilton. But I think that blocking discussions from being had and whiting out information is worse than presenting even the most bigotedly and profoundly misinformed points of view.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Through Keyholes of Locked Doors

Gar! More about art? Aren't we done with this?
HA! Never!
Well, not yet anyway.

I had this thought, that my interest in electronic music and my interest in photography are very annalogous.

Comic books and dance music tend get an emotional response from me quicker than most things. Images with color and detail get me invested in stories and feelings better than most things. Beats and voices make me feel light and full and energetic.

But IDM and photography do something entirely unprecedented for me. They make me feel like I'm part of the world and the world is a gigantic jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces fitting into each other. There's nothing like feeling the interconnectivity of things unfold in front of you.

IDM : music :: photography : images

The sounds that are used in IDM are often very simple, very short, and very textural. Theyre pleasing in their own right but in a very simple, very one-dimmentional way. While they take effort to make, I'm always conscious that the effort is much less than what it takes to precisely plan an instrument.

Similarly, the images in photography are often very simple, commonplace objects. The objects must be represented so that they are interesting, but they're often just objects, or just people, or just a simple scene. The photographs that get me aren't vistas or landscapes, or lush images of models or colorful digital images. Theyre picturs of parked cars, of chairs from close up, of necks and arms and leaves. And theyre relatively easy to create. No skill in learning to paint, no time painstakingly manipulating tools for months. Just the click of a button.

The connection is that both these arts are not about creating sounds or creating images from scratch. Theyre about composition, about rearranging things that exist in such a way that it reveals something about those things that was previously unseen. It's the simultaneous joy of sensory stimulation and mental exploration.

Music has always been interesting because of its fluidity. Being time constrained, music has always felt like sort of a ride. A place to be and be swetp through and enjoy as much as you can while it goes by. Nothing gives me this more than Autechre. I feel completely wrapped up in a blanket of invisible colors listning to this music. But that does nothing for my thoughts. What gets my mind going is the continuous, subtle changes in every rhythm and pattern. It's like sifting through branches in a dense wood looking for a playmate just out of reach, trying to track her movement. The patterns sound like chaos until I start following one only to discover that all the others compliment it in their own ways. IDM is like watching the ellegance of a storm by following each disturbed leaf.

Photographs are a much less abstract joy for me, although their elusive aspect is what cements my affection for the medium. Seeing shapes, textures and colors is just fun, all by itself. Knowing that the things really exist is nice too. Makes me feel like im seeing more of the world than what's just in front of me. But I love photography beause it supports a perspective of mine that is often hard to justify: that everything is valuable and good in some way. Photographs bring to the forefront of my attention the patterns that exist all around me, the glory of color and shape. I begin to see things as both independent entities with no physical relationship to one another and as parts of a greater, distinct body. My eye traces patterns in photographs the same way my ear does in IDM, and just like in music half the fun is going back and forth between the individual elements and the larger concept.

IDM seems to make tangible thigns that aren't. Photographs add intangible fascets to things that i see and touch without giving a second thought. Together the two make it easy to love the world around me just for the sake of how deeply involving it can be.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Black Box

I realized last night at Nico's that my boss's daughter asked me a very interesting and very scary question that day.

After she asked me "Do you believe in evolution? How come?" (her Christian school is actively teaching her that evolution is make-believe) and got an answer about ten minutes longer than she'd actually wanted, it looks like she's decided that I'm a good source of answers to questions that other people seem to shrug at. That same day she asked me about digital media, and how her ipod works. I proceeded to explain what binary was, to the best of my knowledge, how hard drives work, how cds work, and got stumped when I tried to explain how information is stored within transistors in a circuit board. All this seemed very fun and boosted my ego, until I realized that she didn't know what "digital" was. Needing constant reassurance that I wasn't just making it up, she was amazed to find that her ipod, her digital camera, her computer, her phone, everything she uses works by interpreting 0s and 1s. I made me realize something.

Kids today have no idea how things work!

My boss's kid is fifteen. sSe's never played a record. She's never owned a vhs tape. She's never erased a cassette. She's never taken a picture with film. Never adjusted the tracking on a movie, never been told not to touch the shinney black part of a 3/4 floppy (never seen a actually floppy floppy disc for that matter). She doesn't know what a punch card is.

I think that, when growing up, we and our parents were forced to come into contact with the functional nature of the devices we use. We were told not to leave records in the sun. Not to let dust get on them. Told to be careful of the needle. If anybody ever erased a cassette tape, we were told that the bulking device was a magnet. We've gotten negatives back with our film. We've actually loaded our own film. We've seen our cds scratched, heard the skip, heard static on our tapes.

All of these experiences give us little insights into the workings of our technology. We know that, somehow, tapes are magnetic. We know, somehow, that light is recorded onto film, which is a negative, which is translated onto a print. Cd's skip when scratched. The needle is what makes the sound.

If you don't know what binary is at all, if you use apple products (which you can't open up to see what it's made of) and pocket sized digital cameras, if you're catching the end of the cd generation and think music comes as mp3s, if the tv comes over a cable line and not over the air waves, you really have no idea how things work! It actually worries me that the high tech tech that is becoming so useful and wonderful for those of us who know its background is an absolute barrier between consumerism and thoughtfulness. Never before have I had such a had time wrapping my mind around the things I use every day. Most of us have no hope of really understanding how a computer works. I know pretty much how a tape works, how a record player works, how a cd works, how a cathode ray tv works, but I have no idea (sorry Nico, still) how those 0s and 1s become the pictures that I'm so excited about. And for youths, the ideas can be so daunting that it takes real commitment on their behalf for the world to be something other than a series of expensive magic machines.

The answers are no longer just around the corner, shrouded by half answers and pretty-much understandings. They're almost completely obscured by mind bogglingly complicated micro engineering and advanced electronics.

Why does this make me worry enough to repeat myself so much? Because it worries me that kids will stop asking. It worries me that the answers will be too far away to reach for.

It worries me that our understanding of our world will be based on faith.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

More Than Meets the Eye

I'm making what I consider to be a pretty decent attempt at having more meaningful content in my pictures. That is to say, emphasizing more than just shape and composition, which is what I'm mostly interested in. This has pretty much involved shooting more people, something I'm pretty afraid to do. It's harder to shoot a picture when I'm worried about asking permission. Anyhow, here's some of the results that I think are pretty successful.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Poor Einstein

My coworker is sending me press releases that are suspiciously indicative of an invasion being planned for Iran. Things being said that are suspiciously similar to things that were said about Iraq.

This has led me to make the following statement: The atomic bomb is one of the most personally rewarding inventions we have ever made. It has done nothing but bring us good fortune.

Now, I know that sounds bad, but think about it. It's been our friend since it's horrible inception. When we used it it not only let us achieve our goal of not being at war, it solidified our sense of moral maturity in the world community, laid the groundwork for one of our most valuable trade resources (Japan), and gave us credability that nobody but a violent dictator could hope to gain.

Since then, it's given us an enemy (the Soviet Union) to hate and thusly establish our own sense of cultural unity that is really only now beginnign to really show signs of wear, provided us with a reason to build and build our military without any real reason, and given us a great excuse to invade other countries without provocation. All the while seeming completely sane to those not paying attention.

That's it.....

Monday, June 25, 2007

Positive Space

Well, Erin asked for more blogging, so if this one is crap, hassle her about it instead of me.

Last weekend (it was last weekend, right?) I and some compadres (you know who you are) went to the MOCA to see an exhibition of feminist art from the seventies and eighties. It was very cool. As with lots of modern art the specific message of a lot of the pieces wasn't quite clear, but I think I got the gist of it.

What really interested me was the fact that the images and subject matter were centering around certain topics, and tended to avoid others. I think this had a lot to do with the decades they were representing, but it was still really thought provoking to me.

There were lots of pieces on violence and objectification. Performance pieces on being treated as a thing, images of violence against women, and a healthy number of body image studies and self esteem examinations. There weren't actually very many on menstruation and motherhood, although I hear there were more on motherhood upstairs that I didn't see.

It made me think about what aspects of gender people think are important. In fact, the women at my work said the first things they thought they would depict if they were making an art piece were motherhood and menstruation. One even said that she thought depicting violence and body image was demeaning and portrayed women as weak. She said she'd pick aspects of femininity that showed strength, like motherhood. I think attitude is actually a very good compliment about effectiveness of the women's lib movement, by the way.

Of course, all this got me thinking that there haven't been many (any that I know of) exhibits dealing with men's issues. I started thinking about what I would want to depict if I was going to depict something. So, here's a short list of issues that I think are ripe for discussion surrounding men's liberation:

(my favorite topic) men's appreciation for their own childhood and emotional responses

a culture's view of men's lives as public resources/natural resources

the threat of injury and death being part of a man's expected gender role

strength vs. responsibility: two aspects of the male role that appear to be one and the same, but are in fact quite separate, even if they necessitate one another.

men's reaction to the feminist movement. This one is pretty scary because there's a lot of misogyny involved in it, but it's still an important issue to cover just the same.

I notice these are mostly negative, so how about I throw in the positive aspects of Stoicism for a little appreciation of the cold, unfeeling man.

There, that seems like a bite appropriately bigger than I can chew. It would be reeeeeeeeeally cool if someone wanted to go in on this with me and actually make some art on these topics. Though I suppose I'd have to set an example by actually doing it myself. I wonder what the likelihood is of that happening. My ideas so far are a little too elaborate. Maybe I can take some masculist photos. Just call me Robert Mapplethorpe!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ideals are All We Have Sometimes

It's my fault for not locking my car's door, but now I can't listen to music in the car, and I can't play Magic with my friends.

I don't want to be sad. More importantly I don't want to be bitter, or angry, or cold, or suspicious.

I frequently feel like being nice means being a pushover. I feel like not seeking retribution means I stab myself in the face. I question whether "nice" is just my word for "afraid". But it's important to me to maintain my ideals. It's hard to combat wrongdoing by doing right. I really believe that that's the only way to do it though. Nothing good will ever come of doing what you think is wrong.

So I feel sad. But I don't want to be angry and bitter. So here's an attempt at comfort.

My car wasn't stolen.

My bike is still there.

I wasn't hurt.

I have a job to go to.

My friends and family love me and are safe.

I am still me. I am not my objects, my objects are me.

I have a place to cry.

I can smile while I cry.

I have a home to go to.

I'm given an oportunity to be more responsible without having to lose something really important to me.

I have a fabulously supportive girlfriend. Who's very pretty.

There's some perspective for ya. People are shits sometimes, but there're more who aren't than those who are. So, to keep that ratio strong, I'm gonna try to do and think what I think is right. Even if others don't. So there!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Picture Substitutes for a Thousand Words

I love comic books. I haven't always.

For the longest time comic books were a way for me to see artwork depicting the Aliens and Predators that I couldn't get enough of when I was fourteen. Eventually comics forged a small fissure in my perception of the world when Spawn made me question the Christian mythology surrounding Heaven and Hell. Even after that, though, it took a long time for me to really get into comics and realize why they were the perfect medium for me. Actually, it took the dynamic panel layouts of Gunnm, the Oxy bookstore's willingness to special order the collected Maus duet for me, and a fabulous site which had an unfortunate format overhaul called Comics Worth Reading for me to see why superhero comics never did it for me, and to be reassured that in fact I need not be embarrassed by my attraction to stories narrated by images.

With the help of the college bookstore and the nearby Comic Odyssey, I quickly absorbed what i still think are pretty essential works necessary for not only the appreciation of comics as literature, but works necessary to transition someone who's interest in the medium was sparked by superheros and space monsters, who really wants to be included in the discussion about what a great medium comics are, but still can't quite stay awake for From Hell and Epileptic.

The Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta, Finder, Persepolis, Maus, Sin City, Ghost in the Shell, Watchmen, Sandman, Bone, Strangers in Paradise, Akira and Understanding Comics have all done their part to solidify my love of visual literature.

I take frequent breaks from comics, mostly because I can't explore the world of comics for free the way I can with music and photography, and partly because it's really hard to find comics that I really like and want to invest what little capitol escapes being used to maintain my poverty.

And so I am excited to report two new series which excited me enough to get me to write about my general enjoyment of comics.

Transmetropolitan is a cyberpunk series (do i have your attention now, Nico?) based on an ultra technological New York seen through the tremendously biased eyes of world famous journalist Spider Jerusalem. A good portion of the narration and panel to panel content is taken up with vulgar profanity, violence or body function humor as Spider professes his disgust for the unconsciously wasteful and destructively apathetic city that he admits (grudgingly) suits him perfectly. You can smell the city through the artwork, and the glimpses you get into Spider's mind makes you feel a little dirty. With and endorsement like that, I can't imagine it's possible for you to be more excited to read this. But, just for the sake of argument, I'll explain why I would want to buy the next book. The series' awareness of its own crude form absolves it from being judged too harshly, and lets the base humor and vulgar content serve as criticism of both the world it's portraying, and the appeal of such a world as a guilty pleasure to the reader. What results is a concentrated view of the disparity between technological advancement and moral evolution (a concept that's been done, I know). What makes it different though is that it's seen through the eyes of a maniac who is a self professed intellectual, and who indeed appears to be exactly that from time to time. It blurs the line between self and community, rational and instinctual, modern and primitive. It makes me view both internet and celebrity cultures differently.

The second series that I started this weekend has been recommended to me so frequently that I assumed that it was going to be pretty formulaic. Fortunately for the erosion of my pretenses, Y the Last Man ended up being a pretty thought provoking look at gender issues. It's premise is not altogether original: catastrophe leads to the destruction of a population (in this case, male mammal) leaving one lone unlikely protagonist (the only man miraculously spared, and his male monkey) to run from the resulting anarchy and help put things right. But pretty early on, it becomes clear that this series, like Transmetropolitan, is aware of it's potential to fall into the routines of it's predecessors, and is making a valiant attempt to make good use of it's time with an established format. It does a good job of skipping over predictable conflicts like "oh my god, a man! how can this be?" and "finally, we aren't victims of patriarchal oppression!". It does deal with these cliches, of course. They need to be dealt with, being as cliche as they are. (I'm sorry i can't find the 'e' with an accent over it. Stupid ASKII) But it does so in a way that lets you skip over what the reader and the writer can assume. The issue of women being liberated by the absence of men is discussed through vehicles like the immediate emergence of an intelligent Israeli leader who begins a struggle for worldwide military control, a group of violent radicals praising the eradication of men as a devine act world cleansing, and a reluctant Secretary of Agriculture who finds herself next in line for President of the United States.

The social commentary and plot progression are delightfully free of excessive exposition, and although the series moves with a tempo that could easily be seen as unrealistic, it feels like the writer is intentionally glancing over things that would really only be reiteration for the sake of realism. The result is an easy to digest, fast moving story laden with questions about gender identity and social power. My only real qualm is with the main character. He's a bit flat. He makes jokes entirely too much and seems to be actively unaware of the danger he is in and the gravity of his situation. That and the artwork. I like the art style and panel layout. They are very straightforward, which does indeed enhance the intention of the story to be taking place in a contemporary, real world. My complaint has to do with the portrayal of women. While dialogue is wonderfully ambiguous and does a good job of creating an unbiased atmosphere, the images are all of attractive, young women with sexual figures. Nobody looks over 45, and certainly nobody is physically unfit. For a series trying to portray gender issues in a thought provokingly realistic way, this seems a tremendous oversight. Still, I'm definitely following this series. If it doesn't degrade into sexual tension and crazy dyke hippies vs. sane penis-nostalgic ex-wives plus man/monkey, I'll still be interested.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's Hard to Dance and Type at the Same Time

There really is a good reason I've been so obnoxiously excited about my new portable storage thingy. I've got a lot of music that I need to listen to, not very many hours in the day to do so, and a lot of dead air space at work. I've been listening to internet radio, but I really need to get better acquainted with the music that I've hoarded.

There are a lot of albums and artists that, when I see the name, I recognize and know that I like, but for the life of me can't picture in my head what they sound like. I very much want to have a specific, emotional attachment to the music that I like.

So the space between my ears at work has been filled with the following:

a renewed appreciation for pop-punk thanks to NoFX,

the desire to turn off all the lights and lie on the floor with Scanner,

pride for my "hometown" care of Ozma,

wonder at how I managed to completely overlook Kit Clayton,

longing to live in Seattle where people actually know the name Bikini Kill,

awe at the production value and complexity of the God of War soundtracks (thanks to Mahea),

a continuing inability to wrap my mind around Radiohead, despite my enjoyment of them,

vowes to listen to Doctor Rockit more often,

and frustration as I listen to the Doves over and over and each time seem to be doing work and am unable to remember a single melody or lyric to account for that warm fuzzy feeling I had while listening. I guess that just means I need to listen to them more.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Belief in Everything

I'm going to try to make this quick. That probably won't happen.

Being atheist does not mean you have a bleak outlook on life.

It doesn't mean you don't believe in anything.

It does not mean you think you have a license to loot and rape and murder because there are no consequences.

It certainly doesn't mean you are apathetic and unemotional.

Here's what atheism means for me (not to me, because that would suggest that atheism was some sort of belief system; it actually defines what you don't believe in, which gets misinterpreted to mean that you don't believe in anything).

It means I believe in a world without a moderator. No guiding force, no eye in the sky who's hand you can shake, nobody to please. It doesn't mean I think there's no goal in the universe, no creator, no ultimate destination. Those could all be.

Many of my personal beliefs have nothing to do with God. No, I don't think there's a goal, or life after death, or a beginning, or an end. But all of those could be true whether God exists or not. I actually am perfectly happy having a god in the world. I just think it's more likely that there isn't. Evidence just seems to point that way. Granted I have no good explanation for "the beginning" except that there probably isn't one. Ironically, it seems like a physical universe with a cause for each effect can't have a beginning or end.

Anyway, the point is to vent my frustration with the assertion that I must be a bleak, unhappy and uninspired (not to mention immoral) person if I don't think there's anything after I die.

Quite the contrary. You see, I feel like I have gained a heightened appreciation for life now that I think that's all there is. After all, what better reason to enjoy things and do your best than the notion that you've only got one shot at it.

But that's not really why I think life is so great, even without God. The way I figure it, experience is not only a great privilage, it's also a responsibility. We can sit and gaze at the stars and think about them and be awed at our own powerlessness and think about what incredible forces are at work. But none of those forces can look back. No sun will ever marvel at the life on our tiny rock or be proud of what an incredible wonder it's own being is. We're the only ones who can be happy and frustrated and remember. I almost want to say "nothing is beautiful unless someone can see it." We should be respectful of the amazing accident our lives are by making the best use of them. Make art and be happy.

I can't think of a more tragic waste of consciousness than destroying it or causing others to lament it.

Thinking about life without God makes me giddy with excitement. I'm not embarrassed to be a monkey's descendant. I'm proud to live in a world where you start with a twig for digging out termites and end with Black Dice. Or for that matter, Boston!

I think the good is worth the bad, because the good is so glorious that the alternative of just...nothing...isn't worth sacrificing it to prevent the bad. For that matter, the bad is always at least partly good, and the good is never all bad.

So Rise up, rise up!

Dance and scream and love!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Mahea and I went out last night to take pictures of the fire. There were so many people there on the bridge you'd swear it was a fireworks display.

This is the first fire I've been emotionally affected by (though I figure I ought to be more upset). I think I usually assume that the people who's houses are endangered by fires knew the risks when they bought such expensive views. In addition, unless the fire is particularly nasty, they likely have the opportunity to evacuate and save a number of their posessions. In this case, however, it seems like the zoo and observatory and horse ranch (yes there's a horse ranch, didn't you know?) are really stuck with being unable to protect themselves in any significant manner.

I'm sure that shows my ignorance of both fire victims' abilities to adequately cope with fire loss and the zoo/observatory/ranch's understanding of the risks associated with their locations.

Even so, if the authorities do end up deciding that they in fact did catch whoever started this particular fire, I hope know what, I think I'll just keep my wishes on that topic to myself.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sweet Ninja Jesus, I Hope It's Dubbed

The download has already begun.
Who will watch this with me?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bottom of the Barrel

I oughta make more posts about my work. There's some funny stuff that goes on here. Problem is they're mostly in-jokes. This one, however, I think is shocking and funny enough to be universal.

It won't make it funnier, but I'll just mention that this child care provider is under investigation for fraud and is generally an ass.

La Wanda, one of the more notorious people that I have to deal with on a regular basis, was in the local newspaper defending her son who's been arrested for attempted murder and gangbanging. He was arrested in a courthouse when he went in to pay a traffic citation.

It's the quotes that get me. Note the plug for her child care business.
"'My son is a 3.5 GPA college student and a football player at Glendale Community College,' said his mother, who is the owner of Sanford & Kids Day Care on North Raymond Avenue. 'How does being a gang member go together with that?'"

The article also makes a point of mentioning the "gang-based hostilities" that took place during the hearing.

Something about this job gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I think that feeling is cynicism.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Behold the Generation Gap

Amie (my 40 year old supervisor): "'G-mail?' That sounds like some gangster rapper!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh Pavlov, You Crazy Russian...

I'm falling asleep for the fourth day in a row at work. This is troubling, because it's not due to a complete lack of things to do, or a sense of disdain for doing them. No, indeed I believe my trusty BA can help me figure this out.

I used to have a hard time staying awake when I drove from the valley to see Mahea in Eagle Rock. It happened once because I hadn't had any sleep, and then every time for weeks no matter how awake I felt when I got into the car.

I think at some point she was with me or I had some great music or something, cause after I managed to have one alert car ride, the drowsiness abandoned me. Drowsiness is irresponsible that way.

I think the blame for my work time tiredness may fall on classical conditioning. Either that or my job is boring...

Alternatively, I could have contracted mild narcolepcy after spending so much time with Stuart as my roommate.

And nobody suggest coffee cause that stuff just gets me high and then drops me like an all-too-easy date. That may be a terrible annalogy but I really can't come up with a better one. Not when I'm sleepy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

How I See the World

Touch is my favorite sense for some reason. Tactile sensation seems to be the most pleasurable to me. When I was younger I couldn't stand to see an object that I wasn't allowed to touch. Museums took a while for me to tolerate, especially visiting dinosaur bones. I remember a particular instance when my 2nd grade teacher asked for volunteers to deliver an attendance paper to the office. It was laminated. I nearly had a seizure tryign to get picked to do it. At one point I was and the relief of knowing what the plastic-covered tagboard felt like was really amazing. I no longer had any need to deliver the attendace sheet again.

Despite this, images are to me the greatest expression of worldly existence. An image displays for me more about what it means to enjoy life than anything else. This of course is coming from my growing interest in photography, but I also have always been really drawn to pictures.

I recently read Bone and found it to be one of the few comics that I've read who's structure is very similar to a typical novel. The length, depth, plot elements, character development, all very similar to how a novel is often structured. The use of pictures served to embed me in the world more fully and more quickly than textual descriptions usually do in a story. I feel like I remember more of it, and have a better sense of it, because it used images and not descriptions.

Images become a world unto themselves the more you stare at them. At first they are just a representation of something that exists. But when you separate them from the rest of the world, by staring at them, by framing them, by placing them in public somewhere, the image takes on its own separate life. Then, contained within whatever boundaries have been set for it, there is so much.

Although I love to touch, I can't touch everything. But I can see just about anything. Even the invisible leaves a visible trace of itself most of the time. Every sound, feeling and thought is inexorably linked to a sight.

When I look at an image I see movement, smell, memory, temporature, sound, and most of all, shape. Sometimes all of photography seems like cheating in art, like photographing people seems like cheating in photography. The things around us, when held and studied, are so incredibly well organized and structured and ballanced, whether it's a meadow or a city, that it seems like all one has to do to create a work of beauty is to depict things as they are.

A really good image is something I can touch, too. Some of my favorite photos are ones that make me feel like I can run my hands over the things in the picture just by staring at it.

Images help me transcent states of mind like only illegal, harmful substances can. Thats not true, music can too, but images moreso. Images take me back to places I've been and things I've felt, and more importantly, take me to places others have been that I never will.

My thing about written word is this: I cannot imagine anything that I've never seen before. Nothing you describe to me can possibly be truly unique in my own mind, because my concept of all those words you're using are limited to my personal experience. You can go ahead and make really detailed, flowery descriptions, but all that's going to do is rearange my already established experiences differently. Images, on the other hand, can be totally new to me. There are textures, compositions, colors and shapes that I have never seen before that can be shown to me.

Images contain everything that I love about the world: sensory pleasure (experience is the meaning of life, btw), descriptive information, aesthetics, emotional communication, perspective, all wraped up in something that can be easily absorbed in an instant on a computer screen or blown up to the size of a building.

Don't even get me started on icons...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On the Art of Fixing a Shadow

When you create a work of art, or anything that you would consider art, it is immediately copywrited. A legal fingerprint is left on everything that you make. The moment the shutter closes, you own that image. Once your ideas are drying ink, the order of those words is your possession, exclusive to your care and whim.

This is at once a glorious legal freedom and an ideological disaster.

Owning an idea.
To have images and sounds reduced to property. Embracing the right to hoard experience and expression like a miser.
Taking the most ethereal and self-exploratory of all human endeavors and binding it with capitalistic chains of ownership.

To commoditize and privatize art is to drain the value and dignity from philosophy.

And still I say "I want".
I want that tree.
I want those shadows.
The color, the texture. The dance of shapes and the choreography of natural chaos.

I want them! I say it in my head each time I'm about to shoot. The words come so effortlessly they must be true. I'm not sure what they mean, though.

It may be that I wish those wonderful things to be nobody else's.
I desire their splendor for myself, to be kept away from others unless I deem them worthy.

Unless they see what I see.

I will transform the chaos into what the colors and shapes have become in my mind's eye. They will no longer be part of the world, part of everyone. They will be mine, because nobody but me will ever see them in this way. My perspective is wholly unique and the expression, the representations of that uniqueness, belongs to me. It is my property.

Or it may be that that perspective is so fleeting, so untouchable, that I will never see it again. I want to hold onto it desperately because it reminds me why I live. It reminds me of every privilege. It is impossible and invisible and it is there.
Nobody will ever be able to provide me with it and I will never be able to rediscover it.

As I experience it, it is fading.
When i leave, it will be gone.
I don't want that to happen.
I want to retain it. I want to share it.
I want to remember that shape and feeling. I want to experience it again.

I want it.
If the silver nitrate is a wiling accomplice, maybe I will have it. Maybe I won't have to let it go.

I can take the shadows with me, and the feelings, the perspective, will be in my possession.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God cannot create a burrito so big even He cannot eat it.

I've been kicking this idea around in my head for a while now, and what better open space to shovel it onto than my tedious blog.

One of my bosses, the bigger of the two, is pretty religious. Very in fact. She gave all of her employees a copy of this book that means a lot to her. It's all about God's love and the value of being moral and virtuous. I'm immediately turned off, but it's important for me not to judge. That paradox established, I started reading, and discovered that this writer is very eloquent, very genuine and very pleasing. Yet, I still have one fundamental flaw with the writer's conception of God, and it's the same criticism i have of most conceptions of God. God "loves us", "pays attention to us", "listens to us", is "always there, we just have to find Him", and is always trying to get us to resist the "enemy" (Satan). Aside from the fact that I think an evil force in the world is silly and juvenile, I find the idea of a God who is on one hand completely benevolent and at the same time good and capable of "listening to us" to be unreasonable. Here's why:

If we assume that God is completely benevolent, then God must be omnipotent. If God were simply very powerful and good natured, God would be potentially fallible. If we have the faith that God is always 100% good all the time, God must not be capable of being governed by any force which could cloud Its judgment.

So, if God is omnipotent, there is nothing greater than God. God is the Alpha and the Omega. God cannot be influenced by anything. If God were vulnerable to being "made angry" or "being pleased", there is some force of the universe capable of acting on God. Something is influencing what God thinks and feels. If this were true, God is not all powerful. God's behavior or thoughts would be subject to forces beyond God's control.

For that matter, God can't "do" or "think" anything at all, since those too would limit God in some way. If God "did something" there would be something that God "did not do". Laws of physics would be in play allowing God to be a certain way and not another. An all-powerful being cannot exist in a world where any governing laws or categories exist outside of It, or those the forces which create and govern those laws and categories are more paramount that God.

So, God cannot love and not hate independently. God must simultaneously love and hate at all times. God must at all times be all things. In fact, there can be no physical separation of anything from God, else whatever separates the two is a force greater than God.

God cannot exist in a world, because in that world there would be existence without God and physical separation from God. God would not be omnipotent. If we concretize God in any way, we establish that God in fact has an boundary, an end. God would not be omnipotent.

It can't even really be "good" or"evil" and remain all-powerful, since both would have to be God. God certainly cannot be omnipotent if it has a polar opposite.

All this sounds like I'm making a go at proving God doesn't exist. Quite the contrary. I've found that I have no problem with a benevolent, omnipotent, all powerful being. It just doesn't run the world. It literally is the world, everything in it, and the entire universe. It is time and timelessness and has no beginning or end.

This is pretty close to there being no God though. For me, if there is a God or isn't, it makes no difference. The world is the same. We either say that there is a God and it's everything, or we say there isn't a God and the world remains entirely the same.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pretty On the Outside...

I finally got a chance to play Gears of War, and to see Lost Planet. It was an experience. These games look amazing. Not even like "oh wow the snow looks really great" or "wow, there isn't any pixelation at all!" or "gee that box sure falls like a box!". It's like "wow.....this looks real. Like, it looks like it's happening. I believe it!" Amazing tools for storytelling. And so far, from the little ive seen, I like Eternal Darkness better.

I really didn't think that Eternal Darkness would get under my skin the way it did, but it was just so well done! The atmosphere and the drama and the way the game flowed in and out of story, and the way it was continually exciting, for different reasons, the whole way through! A really well made game! What was the main problem I had with it, that would make me not say to a non gamer "hey, you should play this"? All the things that Gears of War impressed me with Eternal Darkness lacks. We made fun of the graphics and teased the poor animation and jeered the video-game-like suspention of disbelief that comes with having to give so many silly commands and having weapons conveniently placed in your path. It isn't real. Yet it was such a more well rounded experience than my limited one with GoW has been.

By the way, I've already stopped playing FF12. It's sad and I'm sure I'll pick it up again, but I really don't care right now. I'd rather be playing FF6 on my computer.

I don't know why I keep trying to justify my scruples when it comes to games. I think it's because critics and art culturs have already come to the concensus that big budgets don't make good films, or good music, or good art. While many people are on my side, that Halo simply isn't that great and SNES is the best system ever, it seems like it's very hard to convince people that big graphics and big budget don't make good game! The Final Fantasy series consistently gets high critical approval, and consistently sucks. First person shooters are praised for their microscopic changes and labeled as innovative when the DS is creating really original games that raise really interesting questions about format and even content, and are labeled as "niche". All the while, self-declared game enthusiasts complain that games are becoming homogenous and simplistic, yet still question the value of the medium as artistic. If we want games to be more sophisticated and expressive, we need to insist that it's possible! Support games that move in the direction you want them to move in. The novelty of pretty textures can only last as long as it takes for the technology to become standard. Good stories engaging gameplay last much longer. If games like Eternal Darkness had the technical research that Gears of War had, perhaps there would be something that would actually cross boundaries.

I feel like the horse I've been beating has actually decomposed and I'm just beating a dry patch dirt, but I will continue to beat said dirt until somewhere, sometime, some video game is given a place in a major entertainment news story, and someone writes Understanding Video Games.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

:( -> :)

There's a feeling that I used to get more when I was in college. It's a strange content feeling that comes from...I guess coming out of a depressed mindset. But thats not really it. It seems like it's partly a self-indulgent, introspective, wallowing in mild depressed thoughts and feelings. It comes on most pleasurably when listening to bitter-sweet music. It hit me just now, a strange masochistic reveling in sadness. It's one of the main draws of post-rock for me. Sometimes things seem most beautiful and worth your time when they're broken and pitiful. I feel justified when I feel sorry for myself.

Real sadness isn't fun though. Real sadness comes with a sense of hopelessness. Maybe what I'm feeling is sadness with hope. The euphoric surprise of things getting better, or things not as bad as they seem. It seems like I've not had time to sit and think in solitude enough to have this feeling. It's strange, you'd think that being preoccupied, being busy and being entertained would breed some sense of profound fulfillment.

Maybe it's just drama. Maybe contentedness is too mundane. Being sad and woeful makes me feel like there's some deeper substance in my boring little day to day, and surmounting the feeling lets me take a step back from the melancholy and label it as substance. If it happens quickly enough, in the span of say a few seconds of a song or the duration of a melody, I hardly feel the sting of loneliness at all and am able to focus on just the pleasure of my own false drama.

It reminds me of the sense of fulfillment that comes from watching a sad, dramatic film about hardships of people you never were and will never meet. If you're convinced that you "get it", then you might be able to leave feeling like a better person, having safely experienced something awful. Even if you were moved to tears, even if you feel like you really really felt the hardship, once you get in your car you're safe. If you don't feel guilty for all your privileges , you (I) might just feel like a more worldly, more valuable, better person with a more substantial world view. All this without actually having to sacrifice anything. I get both the luxury of experience and safety. Feels good, even if it's false.

I hope I don't feel bad soaking in my fleeting dreary now. I like that bitter-sweet feeling.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I hope you get beat up at your kid's elementary school

Don't make up your own pronunciation rules. It's a bad idea because of situations like this one in which you make yourself, your son, and anyone with your chromosomes look stupid.

Eddie (my coworker): "you have one child... Mykule (pronounces it Ma-coo-lee)"

Parent (idot): "Michael"

Eddie: "what?"

Idiot Parent: "My child's name is Michael."

Eddie: "...oh..."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

*humorous reference*

Last night I couldn't update anything on this blog or PKP. Shut up I can use acronyms if I want. Anything I changed, html or otherwise, showed up in the previews on the Blogger site, but when saved and republished, didn't show up on the web. This morning, the changes are there. I'm viewing it from my work computer. I don't know what the problem was, and I guess I'm not upset....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Saying It Here So I Don't Piss Off My Coworkers

Yesterday I gave my supervisor an earfull, so I'm going to vent here instead this morning.

I've been reading Warren Farrell's masculist work The Myth of Male Power and found a lot of what it said very true, while a bunch made me defensive on the behalf of feminism. But just last night i found TWO examples of exactly what he was talking about. One was the way men have very little power to escape their gender role. While women have in the last thirty years gained extensive ground to decide what sort of person they want to be, men are still herded into traditional male roles which are not only limiting, but often unhealthy. So last night, I saw two ads back to back, one for Gatorade, and one for some fast food restaurant. The Gatorade ad showed amer. football players being tough and sweaty and manly! The rhetoric was something like "prove yourself! show them what youre made of! give it everything you've got because in the end, it's all you are!" and the players on the tour bus are looking at their coach, who nods silent aproval of their achievement. HOORA! The fast food ad was for customizable salads. It showed women and families laughing together and the rhetoric was "be yourself and do things your way. you deserve it!" WTF!!! The message to men is that you need the approval of other men and products to be complete. You cannot be a good man unless you prove youreself a good man. Yet a woman, so says the food ad, should be true to herself. She has a personality independednt of products and other people, and has the right to express that nature. Now I'm going to be looking for ads that do the oposite for each gender.

The othe thing this book mentioned was that men have been taught to treat their oppression as a strength while most other oppressed groups have been taught to see the limitations of social pressures and resist them. This was illustrated for me in my comic Bone when the scrawny little protagonist insists that he do the "man's" work of chopping wood, while the woman (who happens to be much larger than him) do the "woman's" dishes. He can't even remove the axe from the chopping block and when she laughs he says "I'm doing chin-ups, go do the dishes!". He is of course embarrassed and she brushes it off. This scene is not new to me in any way, it happens in highschool dramas all the time and is well known to me in my own life. It illustrates that the male gender role is not appropriate for all men, just as the female role isnt apropraite for women, yet men volunteer the oportunity for it to be unduly thurst upon them. When they fail to live up to the role that any sensible person could see is not right for them, they are ashamed. Sometimes this shame is reinforced by teasing from peers, sometimes it's sympathized with (usually by women, although it really should be men who console men on this topic). Men fight for the right to be oppressed by their ancient gender role.

Now I'm really going to keep my eyes open for cultural support for this book. And I'm only 30 or so pages into it! Oh my poor, poor coworkers.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Am a Lemming

Well, here I am. Another blog. This time without any purpose. Just me and the internet.

I'm so lonely...

Time for lunch! I'm gonna make pizza, play Final Fantasy 12 and maybe kill a large chicken with a bunny girl in a G-string, and possibly read about Masculism! Don't bother wishing me luck 'cause by the time you've read it it's already happened!