the dream of what the fuck am i doing at PAX.

I dreamed I was hanging out with the Penny Arcade guys at some kind of giant convention. It was beyond super awkward. Way beyond. Also I kept on losing and finding polyhedral dice. Ultimately I ended up next to a tiny submarine sinking into a watery pit in the middle of some sand, which was just barely covering a whole bunch of dice. I am not sure I ever got my dice back but I sure ended up with a purse full of dice.

In reality, ECCC starts today and i am delighted to not be working it,

cryptic pattern, for sale

I posted this a week or two ago and had a few people say they wanted it on fabric. Well, your wish has been granted – it’s for sale on Spoonflower now. If you make anything with it I’d love to see a photo of the results!

The Running of the Blades

Tonight I watched the “Final Cut” of Blade Runner. Last time I saw it was probably on a VHS tape; I’m not sure I ever saw it theatrically. Here are some assorted thoughts I started to type up into Mastodon and decided to move here instead.

Blade Runner depicts a used-up future in which every corner is full of junk, and white people are just another shade in the crowd. But their stories are the only ones that matter to us, it seems.

Every scene is full of smoke and dust. Polluted air, or legalized pot?

Visual theme: Eyes. So many close-ups of eyes on screens. Luminous owl eyes. And of course the scene where Batty pops Tyrell’s head and gouges Tyrell’s eyes out. I turned away during that one. Even when I was a teen boy I didn’t revel in gore like that, much less as a fortysomething lady.

Also holy crap the scene where Deckard comes on to Rachel is super rapey. Trap her against the wall, ignore her saying no, TELL her to say “kiss me”? This is not consent, no matter how much Vangelis wailing away on the synthosax tries to persuade us otherwise.

It is a movie full of Signifying Images that does not care to do more than vaguely hint at what these Significators may Signify. Blah blah unicorn blah blah replicant blah blah Deckard, okay sure, I can see that, mostly coming out of Gaff’s little match-man and his comments at the end. (Apparently Ridley Scott directed it with Replicant Deckard in mind, and apparently the sequel completely goes with Human Deckard.)

I feel like there is something going on with the Off-World Colonies Ad blimp. We see it several times over the course of the movie, with the Off-World Colonies ad slowly being replaced by an Asian lady saying something my English-only ears can’t even begin to comprehend. The last time we see it, it’s flashing its lights into the Bradbury Building as Deckard enters, on his way up to kill Pris: No new life awaits anyone in this movie any more.

It has very compelling set design. Which is helped by the fact that it’s a noir, and every scene is either in the rain at night, or dramatically lit by low-angle sunlight. This hides a lot of the edges of the world in shadow. And hides mistakes. I should remember that, it feels like a useful trick.

The “Final Cut” didn’t include the voice-overs of the original theatrical release. I didn’t miss them. I don’t think I’m going to pop in disc 2, which has two theatrical cuts (US and Europe) as well as the “Director’s Cut”. One version is enough. Especially when Wikipedia informs me the “Final” version is the only one lacking studio interference with the film Scott was trying to make…

the dream of the advertising larp

I dreamed I was taking part in some sort of LARP about murders in an advertising agency. It was high up atop a bridge, and was a lot of work to bicycle up to.

One of my co-workers from the Spumco/Nebulous days was there and dressing in borderline drag. Pringle looked astoundingly good in that green plaid lady’s coat. I’m not that surprised to have seen him; before falling asleep I distinctly recall pondering some old dreams about returning to the animation industry, where Gabe showed up.

I looked at a list of things that needed to be drawn to fill out the pretend agency’s gallery of previous work, and declined to spend time on any of them.

thoughts on transmitting one’s values to one’s kids

It is five in the morning and I am lying in bed thinking about cultural continuity. Specifically, I am thinking about the ways my parents communicated their culture and values to me without a single word: the books and magazines lying around the house. After I learnt to read, I started reading pretty much anything I could get my hands on – first the little shelf full of kid’s books they kept in the living room, but pretty soon there were visits to the library every week, and me picking up whatever was lying around. That stack of audio magazines my dad subscribed to? My mom’s subscription to New Yorker? Stuff off the lower reaches of their shelves in the back room? Anything I could reach was fair game. Sure, there was stuff that was specifically My Reading Material that they had no interest in, but and I sure wasn’t reading everything they did, but there was a lot of overlap. And a certain amount of my parents shaping me by what they chose to subscribe to for me, as well.

I consider my current reading habits: lots of stuff on the screen. If I had a kid, how much of my tastes would be transmitted to them? They wouldn’t have any magazines to read. Most of my books are in the Kindle app, except for the comics. They’d probably end up getting lost in the horrors of Deep Youtube, populated by people hollering racial slurs over video games, idiots narrating their lives, and corporate-owned characters getting kidnapped by evil dentists who bury them up to their necks in sand, or whatever the hell else The Algorithm has decided is Popular now.

It’s the same with music: no stack of records or tapes or CDs for a kid to browse and maybe fall in love with a few things. Especially not if I was one of the zillions of people who have apparently quit buying any music at all and stream it instead. No treasured DVDs of movies or games. Just… data.

I suppose there are Family Plans, ways to share a collection of licenses to media in the cloud with your spouse and kids. But those are never the first thing on anyone’s list of features to implement; things are solitary and siloed as a matter of course. And I’m not sure that’s really a good thing at all.

Raising a kid now must be pretty complicated and scary, given that there are literal Nazis out there hoping to recruit any lonely, bored people they can…

(and on the flip side I guess there’s all those queers out there happy to help validate a kid’s explorations and drag them down into that world, where gender is a construct and all those other horrible things? Kids get into weird shit, it’s part of growing up. I’m just wondering how much less of a grounding they have in their parents’ values now due to Ambient Media Lying Around The House.)

Thirty Thousand Pounds Of Memories

Holy crap that opened up an old wound.

Today I found myself humming bits from two Harry Chapin songs, both off of “Verities and Balderdash” – one of the tapes I inherited when my father died. I used to listen to it on and off when I was younger, and took it to California along with the rest of my tapes and CDs. And like almost everything else I owned then, it was in a shipping container in one of the parts of New Orleans that got inundated when I gave up the animation dream and moved back there.

It was never a favorite. But it was one of my few lingering connections to my father.

So when I found myself humming half remembered fragments of “Cat’s Cradle” and “30,000 Pounds Of Bananas” today, I pulled them up online and played them. And holy crap I was not ready for the upwelling of old loss and sadness that released. It didn’t help that “Cat’s Cradle” is the first song on that album, and it’s all about ruing the disconnection between a hard-working father who never quite has time for his son, until the son grows up to be just as hard-working and just as lacking in time for Dad.

And of course, for me, there’s no option of having time for Russell any more. There hasn’t been for about thirty-five years, now.

I’ve mostly dealt with it, over the years. Don’t think about him much any more.  Don’t have much cause to.

Mortality sucks.

Twisted Romance #3!

 

So today I came home to a box full of this on my doorstep. It’ll be in stores on the 21st. It looks pretty fabulous.

i are a real comixr now, thousands of copies of a thing I drew have been made and I did not have to lift a finger for that to happen once I was done drawing it. Woo!

Liquid Sky

So last night Nick and I went over to Scarecrow Video. We browsed around and got three things that sounded interesting. As I was standing there paying the rental fee, something popped up in the back of my mind: I’ve never seen Liquid Sky. I bet Scarecrow has it. I mentioned this on the way back home; we pulled up the trailer for it, shrugged, and went right back out to grab it. (Scarecrow is literally a block away; this is not much of a journey.)

I decided to let the random factors decide which one we were going to watch. So I handed all four discs to Nick and told him to shuffle them, while I invoked Eris’ aid in choosing one, and rolled a d4.

We ended up watching Liquid Sky. Which… damn that film is a hell of an artifact. Slow, full of borderline-unlistenable music, with a main character who is completely, scarily flat. It’s like she has absolutely nothing left inside her, burnt out by her life of clubbing, drugs, and… having every man in her life refuse to listen when she says she doesn’t want to have sex with them. Luckily(?) for her there is a tiny flying saucer on the roof of her apartment, which feeds on the chemicals released in people’s brains when they orgasm, and kills them.

Her name? Margaret. Which is.. my chosen name. I was very, very glad I was sober when she got date-raped by a character who has my birth name. Because that sure was complicated to watch even without that extra coincidence.

Anyway. It’s a freaky little piece of the eighties, from before “punk” and “new wave” had really split into two very different subcultures. Kind of fascinating to watch and imagine how alien it must have seemed to most people; all these aggressively androgynous people running around having Very Bad Sex and playing extremely difficult electronic music. I seem to remember it getting some play as a midnight movie, aiming for the same crowd that regularly did the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I can certainly see some commonalities – RHPS was very much a fifties-themed package of Queerness that spread across the country, and this is a very eighties one. It never took hold as A Thing the way RHPS did. Probably the fact that the main character has like five very uncomfortable sex scenes in it didn’t help.

Resolute

So the other day I was reading a book about astral projection when the back of my brain said “draw your dragon self in cool fantasy armor”. I was also very stoned at the time. I then worked on this on and off over the next few days.

Did you know that drawing cool fantasy armor is kind of a pain in the ass?

Technically, I’m happy with this one. There’s a lot of use of gradients in ways that come together quickly, that make it look a lot like a painstakingly masked out piece of airbrush art. Which ALWAYS makes ten year old me ecstatic to be able to knock out.

Elements That Cannot Be Used In A Brush

So there you are, working away in Illustrator, making something that you want it to repeat a whole bunch of times for you. You drag it to the Brushes panel and you get something like this.

Perhaps your first instinct is to start searching for what elements can’t be used in a brush, and then object>expand all of those parts into things that can be used in a brush. But, you know, that starts to feel like work or something, and if you’re at all familiar with the way I use Illustrator I’m all about skipping those parts.

So instead of doing all that work, how about making Illustrator do it for us? Ever since 17.0/CC, Illustrator lets us put bitmaps in brushes. And there’s nothing saying we can’t generate those bitmaps directly in AI.

So: select all the stuff you want to turn into a brush, then do object>group, then do effect>rasterize. And now you can drag this into the Brush palette.

Looking at it up close you can see a tiny bit of pixelization going on. If that bugs you, then select your original group and visit the Appearance palette to change the settings on that rasterize effect, then alt-drag it on top of the brush in the Brush palette.

You will want to save a copy of your original art somewhere in your drawing. I usually put it on a layer named something like “construction” that I keep hidden most of the time. If you try to access the original art by dragging the brush thumbnail onto the canvas, you’ll just get an uneditable image.