After watching a recent episode of Wisecrack(1) about the zombie apocalypse and talking with a friend about virtual reality I got to thinking about the abstract of a realistic mass social survival situation. This Thursday Night at the Cinema, I invite you to consider this question and whilst watching: What makes life beautiful, the ability to survive against abject realistic conditions or the ability to create complex things granted digital abstract resources?
I will leave this, admittedly abrupt, piece on another question (which I may also revisit in a future post when I have more time and when I’m not moving countries): What makes the colour of the flower beautiful, is it the colour itself or our ability to perceive the colour of the flower that makes it beautiful?
Working to have a comic ready this week, next week is still looking shifty with regard to regular posting with flying and the holiday but the week after is looking more solid now that I have my living situation worked out. I am rewriting my resume and composing a portfolio and will be looking for work. If you like my writing or think I’d like writing for a publication you like, please feel free to contact me.
I love wisecrack. No judgment. Admittedly I don’t watch all their content but their “The Philosophy of [insert pop media]” and “The Hidden Meaning behind [insert pop media]” video essays are consistently on point.
Quick announcements: first of all soz for the late posting, see point three, second I went skydiving Wednesday (SPOILER ALERT I survived) and third, related to the first, the posting steam might get a bit tenuous over the next few weeks because next Sunday 2nd July I fly back to the states. This week and next, I’m trying to sort out my summer and see people before we go to the four winds. Then the next day I’m back it’s 4th July besides which, that first week might be a bit of an adjustment period all whilst seeing friends and family. All this whilst sorting out my living and working situations. I will post about skydiving with pictures (got a super sweet black t-shirt AND a sticker to boot) at some point. Feel free to follow my Instagram or Twitter for (some) extra content: Instagram: fin.louie
And if you really like us, give us a like at our facebook page: Offbeat On-point I will keep updates coming. I’m getting some new equipment when I get back to the states including a new laptop. I’m hoping to start a monthly podcast by September and a fin and louie animated cartoon by December all depending on how long it takes for the dust to settle. //END ANNOUNCEMENTS
I watch a lot of cartoons. I like adult cartoons like Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman and I like youtube channels like Psych2Go and Grickle (if you haven’t seen any grickle stuff, you are in for a seriously strange treat). However the majority of cartoons I watch, I’ve noticed, are less comedies and more educational which is a trend that I am personally very pleased with. Tonight I’m sharing with you one of those educational cartoon channels:
The Mythology of America 7m23s “The USA is pretty unique in its youth. It lacks the deep mythological background many other countries have developed, but that doesn’t mean the early Americans didn’t tell stories. In fact, their fiction is some of the most self-aware we’ve ever seen. So let’s talk about the “mythology” of America and what it means to the country today.” (source: description)
5 Heroes of American Legend 10m12s “Some of our favorite American folk heroes, a few of them lesser-known, a few of them on adverts across the country, and all of them reflective in some way of the unique zeitgeist of a newly-developed country.” (source: description)
“A Good Laugh” — Original Short Story 21m01s “In this story we create our own modern American folk hero! But heroes aren’t always everything they promise, and ideas can always be killed…” (source: description)
First thing I noticed when writing this piece was that Tale Foundry uses “Roboto” font which is a nice touch.
The Mythology of America: I like the idea of presenting a subject “American Mythology”, which this video does, then sharing some examples (the next video), then submitting an original story with in the genre of the subject presented (the final video). I like the animation style, reminds me of Hellenistic pottery and terracotta
. I like that this video challenges “The Frontier Thesis” about American Mythology and how it’s not reflective of modern american cultural psychology and speculates that hacktivist groups like Anonymous have become modern day folk legends. What’s also interesting is that they postulate about conspiracy theories being folk legend and that social media allows us to create an
online persona of who we want, as in we can become the folk hero we want to be. I’m personally not convinced that conspiracy theories count towards folklore (I will come back to this in my closing thoughts) but examining the role social media plays in crafting the modern folk legend is a theme that we will revisit in the third video.
5 Folk Heroes of American Legend: I like that this video presents a spectrum of folk legends. The are presented in the following order: #5 Johnny Appleseed, #4 Pecos Bill, #3 Paul Bunyan, #2 High John the Conqueror, and #1 John Henry. The way I read the legends between the video and my own research is like this: Johnny Appleseed – A scrappy young man who exploited a frontier law to claim a bunch of land and sell it back for extra money, that law having to do with planting 50 apple trees on a plot of land. After making his money he retires and becomes increasingly religious and in a need of catharsis to atone for how he made his riches he became a sort of traveling priest who gave sermons and planted trees,
went vegetarian, and became a vocal animal rights activist. The last few years of his life are what he’s remembered for which can be interpreted as spin especially if the apple orchards he was planting, which grew bitter cider apples used for brewing hard cider by the way, were being used to produce and sell hard cider. In the case of marketing it makes perfect sense to “clean up ol’ Johnny Appleseed’s reputation by ignoring his early life and emphasizing the later life stuff”. Otherwise maybe it was a family and community which wanted to remember his later more charitable years. Pecos Bill – A character invented by a soldier of fortune turned writer Tex O’Reilly in 1917. The inspiration for Pecos Bill, understanding O’Reilly’s background, is quite clear being “the ultimate cowboy who chased all the Mexican bandits out of Texas and then went to Mexico to go find more” (and chase them where?!). Tex O’Reilly fought in many wars himself including the Spanish–American War, the Philippine–American War, the Boxer Rebellion, he fought with Pancho Villa in Mexico, and served as an international policeman in Shanghai which gives insight into where O’Reilly’s “ultimate frontier justice warrior” came from but the authenticity of Pecos Bill being a “folk legend” is called into question by Tale Foundry. For my own reasons which I will expand on in the closing thoughts, I agree that Pecos Bill is not strictly a Folk Legend. Paul Bunyan – This is a logging hero that lumberjacks created via the oral tradition. Paul Bunyan has become a cultural icon devoid of his previous identity traits sans his extremely large stature and equally large appetite frequently being showcased as a icon for pancake houses. This hollow legacy is sad as Tale Foundry notes but it seems fitting in that Paul Bunyan seems to be a legend created as someone who is just big to be powerful rather than having a true purpose which I argue doesn’t entirely qualify Bunyan as a Folk Legend.
High John the Conqueror – The idea of this story is a Prince from Africa was enslaved and brought to America where he would eventually outsmart his masters and escape helping other slaves along the way. He eventually fell in love with the Devil’s daughter and they went back to Africa.
John Henry – A railroad/terraforming hero who was said to be the best and fastest railway tunnel digger around until steam engine technology came around. However in a battle against obsolescence he challenged a steam engine to a race to bore a tunnel through a mountain. John Henry won but immediately died and with him died the age of unassisted labor.
“A Good Laugh” original story by Ben this story seems to pose itself in the tradition of the American Folk Legend by presenting to us a narrator, Brandon, who is a journalist investigating a mysterious “legendary” viral media figure, “The Harlequin”. Brandon’s role as detective in this noir style story reflects a curious generation, us millennials; Brandon’s “straight man”, all work and very serious about it, persona is silhouetted against the eccentric and, literally, colourful Harlequin who represents anonymous viral media commentators who manifest in pranks and modern pieces of social art, from replacing the ammo in a gun with jelly beans to making signs reading “Quack Lives Matter”. She represents the troll, the edgelord, the chaotic counterpart to the Social Justice Warrior. As the story progresses and comes to a climax, the narrator is changed by involuntarily participating and then witnessing the effects of The Harlequin’s newest gag and realising the absurdity of people who take life so very seriously whilst at the same time realising he himself is one of those who takes life very seriously. The Harlequin betrays her humanity for a brief moment towards the end in a way of exposing “the lady behind the mask”, however given that the masque is tattooed on separation of the persona and the person seems near impossible, she reveals to the narrator that she is human just like him and permits Brandon to write the story about The Harlequin. The implications of the Harlequin mask being permanently tattooed to her face as a representation of character does have disturbing implications with the ending when she mentions that the publishing of the story will martyr her character but she’s okay with that because everyone will move on anyway. Both the ideas of the masque and the jester/entertainer providing the self-reflective role for society reminds me of the Blank on Blank interview with Robin Williams which I wrote about last week and could be a possible inspiration for the character.
From watching these videos and conducting a bit of extra research, I’ve come to a conclusion about what constitutes an American Folk Hero and how that differs from an American Legend. I believe a folktale requires the following three characteristics:
Authenticity – story is a reflection of the storyteller(s) but also a reflection of their cross section of society
Moral – has a message that manifests as a collective cultural concern
Empathy – no matter how big the characters get, they have to be human and accessable
Taking these 3 criteria and checking them against the 5 American Folk Legends presented in video two, I created the “Mythology Spectrum”
I would argue that High John and John Henry are the only two “true folk heroes” on this list because both are from authentic sources (slaves from Africa creating an African slave-escapee Hero; Railroad workers creating a Machine like Man who represents the collective anxieties of obsolescence in the face of developing steam technology), both have morals (High John was a criticism of slavery and American Society; John Henry does win the race against the Machine but dies afterwards representing a possible acceptance of the inevitability of change and the repercussions of said change), and both have empathetic characters (High John was a mere man and fellow slave; John Henry was a man who despite his incredible endurance and strength is still capable of dying).
Whilst the other 3 stories fail one or more of these categories: Johnny Appleseed is Empathic in that it was based on a real man and it’s somewhat moral with Johnny’s animal rights activism but it’s more of a cover up story (lacks authenticity) of his younger life. Pecos Bill was written by a guy who was a soldier rather than an actual ranch hand cowboy which comprises authenticity, the moral is lacking if at all present and likely left out in favour sheer of entertainment value, and just like Superman from the early comics he’s not an emphatic character: he’s an overpowered super-being who is incapable of defeat. Then Paul Bunyan is similar to Pecos Bill in that it seems to lack a moral and empathy because the desire seems to be more for a character which can make a good (deus ex) machina for fun stories but Paul Bunyan’s origin is authentic though, stemming from lumberjack culture. I believe that “A Good Laugh” qualifies as a folk tale and the two characters both represent the duality of the modern day folk hero. Both Brandon and The Harlequin come from a place of authenticity in that both are artistic commentators, one a comedic activist whilst the other a journalistic writer, which I can guess is something that the author can relate to being a writer himself. Both Brandon and The Harlequin represent a moral in that Brandon plays the skeptic and serious about it character who interrogates which he doesn’t understand, The Harlequin, to find out that The Harlequin views her role in society to play the troll or the edgelord but not for no reason but to shake people up with comedy as a reminder not to take everything so seriously. These two characters compliment each other in that society needs both: the outside commentator who can be martyred and the inside shaper who can interpret and analyse the flood of information that comes at us via the internet and it’s prosthetics appendages (phones, computers, tablets, all the screens). Finally both characters are empathetic. From the beginning we can relate with Brandon because he, like the audience, doesn’t really know much about his mysterious interview subject and so we learn along with him about this figure.
Then towards the end when The Harlequin reveals her humanity and reminds us that it’s good to laugh sometimes but there are also times to take things seriously and that too much of either results in a system which cannot be sustained. Then on another layer they’re both relatable because we get a sense from both that regardless of their respective ages (he comments on her youth, he doesn’t mention his age but from his conservative attitude it would not be a huge stretch to believe he represents an older and slightly out of touch character) they’re both trying to forge an identity and make a difference in an age of unprecedented potential for visibility just like so many of us millenials trying to make sense of the world in any little way we can.
Happy Tuesday and welcome to my first proper Tuesday article! Sorry for the time between posts but I’ve been in something of a stupor following the end of a successful semester. Last time was just an introduction, this time let’s get into the nitty gritty: my first book review. For this I’ve decided to start with omnibus #1 of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files graphic novel.
So really this review will cover two short stories and two novels worth of illustrated Dresdenverse. And here lies one of my initial concerns: the layout of the omnibus. It begins and ends with an illustrated short story, with the first two novels of the series sandwiched in between. It goes like this: “Welcome to the Jungle,” Storm Front, Fool Moon, “Restoration of Faith.” But confusingly, both short stories occur before the novel in the DF timeline. In fact, the very last part of the omnibus occurs earliest, sequentially. I suppose this is because this is the order each of these was released as graphic novels, but I still found it jarring when I was finishing Fool Moon and ended up rolling right into “Restoration,” jumping back in time about 4-5 years in DF time.
Now, let’s talk about the art. It’s a real graphic novel and the quality of the artwork is up to that standard. Meaning it’s good, even great, but it’s not a masterpiece of the artistic spirit: and it’s not trying to be. The characters look more or less as I imagined them. Scenes of violence and nudity are done justice without being gratuitous. However, these early works show signs of the artists getting comfortable with the medium. So, while there are beautiful pages like this:
There are also derpy looking panels like this:
It’s a give and take, for sure, but the overall effect works well.
Storm Front and Fool Moon are the first two novels in one of my favorite series. They are also Jim Butcher’s first published novels, and he was just starting to find himself as a writer. The stories include elements of noir and detective fiction that are largely tossed to the wayside in the more recent entries of the series. He does it well, but it’s flawed in a way that’s hard to put a finger on. Butcher’s storytelling, worldbuilding, and ability to develop characters really starts to shine around book four, so I am looking forward to seeing that in graphic novel form at some future point.
A mostly minor gripe I have with these graphic novels is in the typography. There are typos. Not a lot, but more than enough to be noticeable, and given that the graphic novels have far fewer words than the source material, it’s a bit disappointing. Several times I was jarred out of the story by an irritating typo that forced me to decipher what was being said. The most notable of these is an omitted word at the end of the first novel. To fans of the series, the last couple lines of book one are iconic. “My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk.” In the graphic novel, the word “by” is omitted. It just says, “Conjure it at your own risk.” This changes the meaning of the statement somewhat, and, to me, is an annoying deviation from the source material.
Overall though, I enjoyed these graphic novels. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that I read all of them in the space of an evening. The graphic novel format gives you an alternative way to get in on the ground floor of this amazing series. Whether you’re a fan of the series or just a fan of the Fantasy genre and looking for something new and fun to read, I would heartily recommend these.
Citation: Butcher, Jim, and Mark Powers. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files Omnibus, Volume 1: Welcome to the Jungle; Storm Front; Fool Moon; Restoration of Faith. Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment, 2015. Print.
Just a short quick announcement: I’m going skydiving for the first time with my friend (15,000ft…just now starting to freak out a bit) tomorrow and from what I understand it can be an entire day event depending on weather.
That being said, I’m rescheduling what I planned to post this Wednesday next Wednesday and I will post this Thursday Night at the Cinema as regularly scheduled.
Wish me and my friend luck! And we will see you here Thursday!
I like to have one full page for my week, kind of a “week at a glance” idea. I am a fan of formatting so I like to underline and use colons and check boxes but the important parts are:
Part 1: Weekly Goals
-the written date at top
-my reading goal for that week
-the number of journal entries I’d like to do that week (~1600wc total), ergo 3 check boxes
-each blog day gets a a line and I like to keep a week ahead so I have two columns
-BOM or Band of Misprints is the novel I’m currently working, I aim for ~1600 words a week minimum or 3 pages in my notebook
Part 2: Daily Goals
-here I have a row for each day of the week where I fill in the stuff I want to get done each day of the week, usually kinda fill it in as I go. Like I write “post” on m, w, t, f, at the beginning of the week and fill out “M:” and “T:” rows Sunday or Monday then go from there through the week
Part 3: Monthly Goals
-this is a small space where I like to keep vague goals that I want to get done that month or a place for things I only do once or twice a month, sort of a catch-all
Part 4: The 4 Priority Squares THIS IS IMPORTANT my creative writing teacher introduced me to this system. It went something like this, “What you don’t know ‘The 4 Priority Squares’?!”, in the midst of a class discussion about a procrastination pandemic. “Okay forget creative writing, THIS will be the most important thing I teach you this year, that’s not to say creative writing isn’t important…” The way this thing is constructed is basically how it works:
-each square is numbered 1 – 4 from upper left to bottom right
-square 1 is titled “important/urgent”
-square 2 is titled “not important/urgent”
-square 3 is titled “important/not urgent”
-square 4 is titled “CBARN”(2)
The idea here is that things in the square 1 are highest priority, like “people are going to break your legs” important and square 4’s title “Can’t Be Asked Right Now” implies the lowest priority. Where the real brilliance of the system comes from square 2 “not important/urgent” and square 3 “important/not urgent.
A clear distinction between square 2 and 3 is hard to make for me to make consistently, as in when making a list I can usually, with some thought, distinguish “2 level” tasks from “3 level” tasks but I have trouble applying firmer rules like squares 1 and 4 lend themselves to. To me, I believe this is the beauty of spectral versus binary thought. Granted it’s easy to sort out the blue from red crayons, but it’s a bit harder to separate shades of purple being “very clearly” more red or blue. This spectrum of choice challenges me to consider urgency versus importance in the task being considered.
By the end of an average week my page will look like this
I hope this helps with cultivating your daily writing habit or inspires some other methods or formats. If you have a format you use or a method you like and want to share, send me a guest article piece and I’ll post it on here.
1975 minimum wage was $2.10 an hour which is the 2017 equivalent of $9.77 whilst 2017 minimum wages are a pathetic $7.25 or for those of you who were working in 1975, today’s $7.25 is the same as $1.56 in 1975.
Okay so when he originally introduced it, it was all very logical and pleasing but after using this system for a while now, I’ve decided to rename the boring “not important/not urgent” to what it really is “Can’t Be Asked Right Now”
A few weeks ago I did a write up for a cartoonist I found on instagram, Talon’s Treehouse, and I got in touch with Talon and told him how funny I thought his stuff was and we got to talking and which lead to me asking if he wouldn’t mind doing an official interview with me for OBOP and not only did he agree, but he proposed a totally tublar idea: he was gonna animate reading off and answering the questions I sent him. No commitment but we might be ready next Thursday. Here’s the teaser trailer:
This idea was really cool and reminded me of another channel on youtube called “blank on blank”. Their youtube description reads,
I really like the last sentence “The future of journalism is remixing the past.” I think that’s really inspiring, in the way that there were always be an audience for good content even if it is old or lost or once rejected. Then remixing re-introduces cultural icons to a young generation and probably reaching new audiences by turning interviews into animations unique to each personality. Blank on blank is a PBS Digital Center productions and celebrated their 6th year on youtube and have almost 100 videos of stars from all over the spectrum with playlists organizing their videos into writers, actors, musicians, plus a bunch of other categories.
I found this album after listening to the Johnny Hobo album on youtube which is a shameless segue into something I’ve been thinking about which is the ways I get music and why. I’ve noticed that I oscillate between youtube, spotify, and soundcloud in this orborostic journey to the “ideal music app”.
However I have come to appreciate the difference in features and have made this chart for your enjoyment:
I couldn’t pass when this album immediately passes the “Trio Test”: 1. great band name Andrew Jackson Jihad (AAJ – it’s a bonus they have a cool initialism(1)) 2. eye catching album art (ALBUM ART PICTURE) 3. intriguing album title “People Who can Eat Other People Are the Luckiest People in the World”
I love this song for the lyrics, the horns give it a nice ska sound. I like the “rustic” choice of including before and after song moments like at the beginning and end of this song. I like the “realist-optimist” philosophy (link to “Rejoice” lyrics)
The first thing to strike me about this song other than the conflicting angry-lyrics to upbeat-banjo is how it ends just so abruptly when listened to alone. This song is a good example of anti-folk where the narrator of the song criticises the main culture and follow stylish trends and makes the jab at art “If this is how you folks make art it’s fucking depressing” (link to “Brave as a Noun” lyrics) but then goes on to say how cowardly and hermit he is and how he is “too cowardly to take a stand I want to keep my nose clean”. I like the general sense of humour in the lyrics and structure of the song.
Like banjo, “and we totally ripped off a man named Woody Guthrie”, reference to this song “Do Re Mi” by Guthrie (link to “Do Re Mi” lyrics) literally lifting the second/fourth stanza for their 4th stanza , mention impressive length (lines: 32), I like the story arc with the last lines “And I give thanks to all of you for listening//To the Story of how We learned to survive” (link to “Survival Song” lyrics)
Really like the acid guitar at the beginning, right about 2m it almost could be split into 2 songs (given their avg song length [2m30s] it would make sense) which works clever with the references to bipolar with the song going from depressive mellow to manic aggressive (link to “People II the Reckoning” lyrics)
I really like the whistling sound, it sounds like a “UFO” kind of sound, gives me a nice image of a desert sunset,
Taken as a whole I generally enjoy the album. It’s an aural amalgamation of noises that I like individually and in other genres (bass in psychobilly, acoustic/banjo in blues/folk, acid guitar in…well fuck it what genre hasn’t used acid guitar?) and it works despite itself quite to my pleasure. This musical patchwork style fits with their band name and eccentrically long album title, and even some of the songs using “swatches” of lyrics from other songs. The lyrics for each song are creative and ambitious in a modest way. None of the songs’ length is padded with unnecessary lyrical repetition which results in tight short songs at an average length of 2m30s. All together with the quick succession of upbeat songs and the generally fun lyrics the album is easily listened to on repeat a few times.
I’m sure there are more Easter eggs in the lyrics I’m missing, especially considering I haven’t seen the play Funny Girl or read the book Hocus Pocus yet.
This is not an example of an acronym: “a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of word sand pronounced as a separate word, as Wac from Women’s Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.” (Source: Dictionary.com definition 1) Rather an initialism: “a set of initials representing a name, organization,or the like, with each letter pronounced separately,as FBI for Federal Bureau of Investigation.” (Source: Dictionary.com definition 1) I realise that the second definition of both includes the other but in a commitment to clearer communication, I like to make the effort to use the acronym/initialism differentiation.
Anti-folk: “(sometimes antifolk or unfolk) is a music genre that seeks to subvert the earnestness of politically charged 1960s folk music. The defining characteristics of anti-folk are difficult to identify, as they vary from one artist to the next. The music tends to sound raw or experimental. It generally mocks perceived seriousness and pretension in the established mainstream music scene.” (Source: “Anti-Folk” Wiki) Basically, if I’m reading this right, it’s saying “Anti-folk bands take the piss out of the politiko-folk?” This seems to fit AJJ.
I decided to pick this book up in a reading project I’m starting where I plan to fill out my knowledge by reading books considered an “American Classics”(1) (with a focus on the 20th century lit) and the follow the reading list provided from Crash Course Lit(2).
Overall Dust Tracks on a Road, from here out referred to as Dust Tracks, left me withmixed feelings. That being said and without giving spoilers, I can say I recommend the book based on its historical and literary significance but unless you’re seeking it out for it’s historical or literary significance, I wouldn’t give it high priority.
This burgeoning list has begun with this list, thanks to wikipedia: Books referred to as a “Great American Novel”
At one time, the following works have been considered to be a Great American Novel: