Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saints and Stars

Well, I thought I'd try something different with a new contest, given all the newness rampant this time of "year." This contest will require little effort, not a great deal of artistic skill really, no drawing or anything other than contemplation and maybe a little research.

So, since I'm in Los Angeles, and Hollywood is just a 20 minute or so drive away from where I'm at right now, I thought the new contest would involve Saints and Stars. Thus your task, should you choose to accept it, is simple: come up with a star whose voice or something about them you think would match any of the Super Saints or Infidels.

(We'll leave the Balloteers out, because I don't like them enough, given their subject matter.)

If you want to get creative and use the Left Wing Liberators, then you should come up with 40s and 50s stars to voice them, they need not be alive. But, for the Saints and Infidels, they should be living stars. Don't know the Saints or Infidels well enough to make a match? Well, go here and find out:

There are no real rules, and you can post as many stars with characters as you like. Each separate star/character combo you post will enter you in a random drawing I will conduct. The prize will be something cool, and if you're unsure what that might be like, just ask the Halloween 2007 contest winners.

I'll start off with one of my own, the very leader of the League of Super Saints...

Saint Catherine of Siena...Emma Thompson

Ok, easy enough, right? Post 'em in the comments section, and the deadline will be the end of January. Plenty of time for you to think of a few suggestions.

FINE TUNING EDITS: Ok, if you read the suggestions and someone already posted a character you wanted to use, don't worry, post your ideas. Even if they are/were the same. I'm just interested in seeing how people perceive a character and which voices they think would go with them, so for example, if you had an idea for St. Catherine of Siena go ahead and post that idea.

You can post once or many times, too, with a long list or just one at a time over numerous comments.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Flea

Not saying what it's for, I'll show it eventually, but I spent a large part of today designing a "cartoonish" yet still gross, but kind of cute, but not, flea.

Usually I'd sketch first, then use Trace to make it a vector in CorelDraw, but for some reason this time I just executed the whole thing on the computer. He/She/It, and where I put He/She/It, reminds me of John Donne.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Gatchaman and Battle of the Planets

I have been on a nostalgia trip for the past few days. Blame it, partially on YouTube, but largely on my incessant memory.

When I was a kid I used to love watching the old Looney Tunes cartoons that came on at around 2:30 or 3:30. Maybe 4:30. I can't remember if they were after school, or if I wasn't in school yet. In any event, one day they replaced Porky and gang (well, Bugs and gang, but Porky Pig was my favorite back then) with something I had never heard of. Starblazers. Where, I thought, are my regular cartoons?

But, I got hooked on Starblazers. It was Japanese Animation, early anime, taken and "softened" for American kids, and obviously dubbed in English. The dubbing and editing allowed the "softened" tone. Still, it was really interesting, Space Opera type stuff.

That opening sort of sums up the subject of the show. Earth was doomed if the crew of the Argo didn't finish its mission in a year, to stop the Gamilon Empire, which had been bombarding Earth with radioactive meteors, which had decimated the surface of Earth and forced humans to live underground. Pretty heavy stuff for a kid. Never mind that they sanitized some aspects...revenge, etc.,...and that the Argo was originally named Yamato, after the WWII Japanese warship.

Here's the opening and another brief summation of the show, the original Space Battleship Yamato subtitled, and an introduction to Leader Desslok (or Desler here, it's confusing). He's a complicated character. By U.S. "W" standards he should be pure evil, dark as night. But he seems to have an odd honor code, and a refreshing lack of appreciation for vulgarity. What? On a world where everything is black and white?

The Argo had a Wave Motion Cannon, which, if it could get in range, would decimate most things in its path. This video on YouTube demonstrates:

"...we used too much power...such power is a great responsibility."

I have no way of knowing if those sentiments were changed or not. Certainly interesting to think about in light of the Atom bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and still definitely part of any US policy discussion currently. I often think it goes like this...we drop the bombs on Japan, they develop Godzilla, anime and some really amazing toys. But a lot of this stuff, if not most, I think directly deals with the psychology of what happened. For a more "adult" account of this idea, watch Akira Kurasawa's Dreams.

So I'm digressing from childhood, though perhaps not, since I remember as a child, for some period of time, thinking every low flying plane was the end of the world. I am, after all, the generation of The Day After and, more horrifying though thank God, seriously, I never watched the whole thing as a kid, Threads.

Anyhow...Wave Motion Gun...very powerful. Leader Desslok was the blue skinned megalomaniac (seemingly) in charge of the forces trying to obliterate Earth. He was terribly dramatic, partly, I'm sure, his voiceover, but also his personality. But apparently (and I don't remember this) there was a legitimate reason the Gamilon Empire did what it did.

After the Gamilon business, there was a Comet Empire for the Earth and the Argo to battle. Seems like the trouble never ended. Also the show had a Star Queen/Princess type, Trelena, who was mysterious and mystical. I don't remember all this stuff, but I'm sure it would be acceptable to use Wikipedia to find out. Fans of comics, anime, etc., are usually more diligent about making sure information is correct there than those who patrol the "real world" stuff.

Another show I loved got the same treatment, or actually, a little worse treatment. Battle of the Planets was originally Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, another bit of anime scaled down and toned down for American kiddos. Basically the American producers made cuts and added new animation with a dorky R2-D2 rip off, to assure viewers that, despite huge blasts, lots of razor sharp objects and guns, and even cities decimated, NO ONE was harmed.

To further confuse things, in the 90s (I think) the program was re-re-done, as G-Force, and 7-Zark-7 was removed. While the tone of the original Gatchaman was apparently restored, the dumb names, bad dubbing, and droning music really weren't appealing (at least to me). It was only a few years ago that I even found out all this remake stuff had been done, and I bought a couple of Rhino releases with the original Gatchaman and the Battle of the Planets, so I could compare. (Also had G-Force, but I never bothered to watch that). Here's the original Gatchaman opening, with a really catchy theme song!

From the couple of episodes I watched, basically the changes were lots of deaths; mass destruction; the fact that this stuff was all happening on a very Earth-like place; the kid was a kid and not a speech impaired robot; the bad guys really didn't care about anyone's life, not even little kids; and assorted other such things. Also apparently the original series had episodes dealing with some dark aspects of Condor Joe and the fact that Zoltar was transgender, or switched gender. I do remember a hint of that in the American version, because he (or she) was unmasked and looked very feminine, at least as far as the long blond hair revealed, I don't think we ever saw his or her face.

What this is all about, if I have a point other than having fun with my memory, is, aren't we all glad we were protected from complex themes and violence like that as kids? Nothing bad ever happens in the world, so why reflect that in your art or entertainment? I just find it slightly amusing or maybe a little scary. It reminds me of my art, always trying to find that innocent peace of childhood and realizing it didn't exactly exist like that.

Meanwhile...I ordered a large number of the Gatchaman original series with subtitles and redubs, to watch and research. Eventually I hope to have the whole was a big part of my childhood, because if we weren't doing Logan's Run or Star Wars, we were playing Battle of the Planets. Transmute!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Memory Stick Purge

I have about 6 months of photos on my memory stick right now, so, I thought I'd go through and post some of the random images while I decide which ones I'm keeping and which I don't need. Appropriately enough, given my last post, they start from the most recent and travel backwards.

Here is the computer desk I finally bought from IKEA, after stalking them for a couple of weeks. That's how I tend to make purchases, and while this wasn't a high end purchase (in fact, for the most part, I love IKEA for that reason) it still takes up room. I was sold on the fact that the white space was magnetic and is a dry erase board. So I have Saint stuff, in various planning stages, posted there.

Here's the first birthday gift I've given someone in Los Angeles. Pretty neat little package, huh? (not talking about Saint Sebastian!). It was well received...more on those developments later. ;) I printed the paper by using my Saint and Sinner symbols, from their monitor board and seen on their info cards on my website.

Here's Benny snoozing on my bed one afternoon. He's such a cute little dog, he really sometimes reminds me of Shaz, our first "dog" but really first adopted four legged furry family member. He particularly reminds me of her when he looks at me and remains immobile if I ask him to move. He loves the warmth and tracks the sunlight across the bed all the day. If I open the garage door, he gets very excited and basks in that sun as much as he can. But then again, so do I.
I took this picture as proof that iTunes offered this Cher song as a ringtone (hmm...there's a theme with Cher and songs going here), even though it disappeared when I bought it. Rather silly of me--I could have printed the screen I guess, but I was just mad because of the whole ringtones debacle. This image doesn't even prove my point, but it does go to my mental state, your honor.

Finally, this wasn't a photo, but I had put the file on the memory stick for some reason. It's a Joker card I made with Jack, which is a pun on his origin, since he was to be a totally insane character like the Joker, but, putting a homicidal madman in Infidels Inc. was antithetical to the overall arc, since no one member was or would be a "big time" villain. His name was always Jack though, and if he ended up more Virginia Woolf than Red Hood, it was a far better thing I had done. Haha.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Standard New Year's Post

If there's anyone out there reading (at all?) who happens to remember the blue bird's blog of old, you would also (possibly) recall that I'm not a huge fan of marking linear time the way we do. This year I'm celebrating the fact that the damn holidays are over rather that the fact that they exist. Not in a bah humbug way, I guess, I haven't been cranky or demanding. I've just been mellow and keen to see the crowds dissipate, as if somehow all the people in Los Angeles who are not supposed to be here, and some may think that includes me!, are somehow getting in the way of my forward momentum. Maybe I'm getting in the way of my forward momentum. I've definitely done that before.

Anyhow, you might imagine New Year's Eve/Day is one of the more annoying times for me, given the previous paragraph, and since I don't drink alcohol. I used to love New Year's Eve as a kid--we got to stay up late, there was still no school for a week or so, and my sister and I spent large amounts of time creating elaborate honey graham/cream cheese type delicacies, and cutting confetti, and arranging the dolls and stuffed animals for their optimal New Year's Eve enjoyment.

But as I grew older, and frankly the more Postmodern I've become thanks to literature and what not, I don't care for the linear marking of time. I'm not fond of the notion that, somehow, everything I do today bodes ill or well for the coming year, when in fact, the problems with any coming day, or any past day, are really in the windmills of my mind, which haven't been turning that quickly of late (that's a confession). They're not rusty or cobwebby, they're a bit apathetic. I guess I keep waiting for Don Quixote to rescue me, instead of rescuing myself, even though I don't need rescue.

Yikes. Sometimes you start writing something and it goes to new places. That just happened, me and Mr. Confessional.

The past two months are my focus of reflection. Some very good things have happened, some things I don't want to jinx just yet. But in other respects, I haven't made things happen. There's the making. It has nothing to do with external forces, I am alone responsible for my ennui in certain areas.

If there is a resolution this year, which I also hate, because perhaps I am cranky right now, and am always writing and re-writing and questioning and revising my goals almost weekly anyhow, but if there is a resolution, it's to move forward boldly. Sometimes I'm still fighting making this Western Expansion my new life, and I know I have to get to a place where I recognize myself in the mirror here and can get things moving in the direction I know they can go, successfully.

So, there. If you must know, today I slept late, worked out on muscle beach, dipped my toes in the freezing Pacific for the New Year, wandered on the beach, went on the Venice Pier, then walked around Venice thinking. If it foreshadows anything in the "coming year," it foreshadows (and aftshadows) my contemplation, and that's always going on, so that the time in my head is more of a spiral. If you looked at it from the top, you'd think it was a circle, but I'm convinced it's a spiral moving...up.