Category: ARTS

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The Republican Party as Flying Saucer Cult

Watching the Republicans flail around in psychotic convulsions at the CPAC finally seemed to have convinced some Americans of what I have observed for most of my life, namely that the GOP is the party of the criminally insane.  The recent bile-spewings of Rush Limbaugh and Alan Keyes, are nothing new.  It is rather sick to watch, though, as if we are viewing the inside workings of a really lunatic fringe cult, played out live on national t.v. There are more than a few sociological parallels to the cult that figures in the book I just finished, _Imaginary Friends_ (1967), by Alison Lurie.

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Honkfest 2012, the opening parlay

Honk 2011 (c) Benjamin Greenberg Not everyone enjoys the brassy-assed freak-out of Honkfest, but if you ask me, a pack of nutty anarchists marching around the streets jamming on trumpets, d

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LTIMA, the lost novel cover art

Some more fun with the tablet, this time mashing up a few random images from the files and layering on a sketch scanned from my daily margin notes.   This is my imaginary lost Russian Science Fi

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Tablet sketching

Some more goofing around with the Bamboo tablet, this time with the application, Seashore, which seems to have slightly better brush handling than Gimp…

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The Dark Knight: apologia for Dictatorship or Insanity, take your pick

Repost of Dark Knight Review (originally published July 2008) If you haven’t yet seen the film, Dark Knight, please do that first before reading this post, because you will definitely spoil the “tension” of the plot, assuming there is any. For some reason this film is a runaway hit, with critics pissing all over themselves to outpraise each other. From my perspective, despite some excellent cinematography and a stellar performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker, it is really just another Batman movie, but with a troubling dichotomy at its core that is getting scant attention. There are clearly two very conflicted subtexts in the film, one centered on Batman and the other on the Joker. Batman’s supposed internal conflict we are all familiar with — having to take the law into his own hands in order to fight evil — dating back to his first appearance in Detective Comics #37; on the other hand, unlike the ridiculous slapstick Joker that Burton and Nicholson gave us, Ledger pushes his exploration of the Joker’s mercurial psychology into whole new realms of uncharted territory.

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Etheria Film Festival

Picked up this fun flyer at Readercon 23 & rather liked the artwork, by Linsday Beach, more than the art on the festival website.   In any case, this looks like a lot of fun!

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Summer Sketching

Finally got around to setting up the digital tablet with Gimp on Snow Leapord.   Trying it out with this test sketch.   The fun part is that I could just scan a small 3cm doodle, than add s

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Are you a werewolf, or not? Who can say...

   Having just finished a riveting gothic fantasy novel about werewolves by Tanith Lee, it occurs to me that moral ambiguity is the core theme of the books I have been reading lately.  In _Lycanthia_, Lee portrays the vagueries of a consumptive city-dweller, a self-involved pianist, who comes into a large country manor in the “old country” by way of an inheritance.   His reluctant arrival to take possession of the family manor house, and his petulant mood swings in dealing with the superstitious locals, provide the perfect backdrop for his eventual crisis. The appearance of large wolf-like dogs, and warnings about a nefarious family, the de Lagenay’s, hiding in the forest, draw the unwitting anti-hero, perhaps fittingly named Christian, into a web of conflicts that quickly begins to resonate with emotional depth.  The ambiguity of all the surface facts -   are the de Lagenays really werewolves?  are the superstitious villagers good or evil?  is the doctor saving his life or condemning him to fate worse than death? is the upright piano an instrument of beauty or torture?  — serve to heighten the tension as Christian becomes ever-more-tightly entwined with the de Lagenays, whom he variously insults, assaults, loves, worships, honors and betrays.

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Der Twist Beginnt

Apologies for being absent in recent weeks / months. It was a crazy stressful time at work, involving various business trips to faraway places. It’s time for some stress-reduction! And some whimsy! Y

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Soviet Pop Dirvishes: Ensemble Birch

On BoingBoing there is a link to this “hypnotic folk dance,” which only one commentator identified correctly as Nadia Nadezhdin’s ensemble Birch founded in 1948.  (Thanks, Terry di Paolo!)  However, it is worth pointing out that the name of this particular piece, Прялица, means “spinning jenny,”  as in spinning of thread for weaving cloth.  This should be obvious from the motions of the performers as they sit and twist the braids of the thread, and is reinforced by the threads strung over the stage, and the camera angles taken through the skein of strings.   If you watch closely, you will also note that the patterns of the rotating group (when viewed from above) actually resembles different aspects of the spinning wheel, a technology that was much closer to the ordinary Soviet citizen of the 50s (when this dance was most likely performed). Other internal evidence to date this piece can be seen in the fascinating crowd scenes at the end of the performance.   The giant klieg lights have fine molded vents and precision external gears.  It’s rather difficult to guess at a date of manufacture, but they clearly look like post WWII, pre 1970s objects.  But the image of these technical workers at the controls of great lights is a wonderful tribute to the socialist realism of the original futurists, a pure homage to Rodchenko, if you ask me!