Thursday, June 30, 2011

Illustration for "Whitt"

Whitt and Oro in the ancient graveyard from the story "Whitt."  For those of you wondering what Ilkhan people look like, here you go.  Whitt and Oro are unusual, however, in that their colors differ from the norm.  I imagine most Ilkhan have brown/gray "deer-features" while Oro is golden and Whitt is white.  The scanner didn't do it justice and I took a few liberties from the story for the artwork - I described the scene as them in a thick-woods while the art displays an open clearing for the sake of featuring a beautiful moon. Also, in the story, I didn't imagine Whitt holding the Lambs' flag - I included it for visual drama.  Also, I'm pretty sure that I'm not a dead hero of some forgotten war.  (In fact, I had in mind that if I were to insert myself in any way as a cameo in any of these Static-Lands stories, it would be as the un-punctual lady-wizard that caused the static night and day cycle in the first place.  I did base her on my inability to be on time unless circumstances force me). 

Anyway, no one's commented on that story to indicate that it was ever read.  It would be nice to get some feedback on it. I did an illustration, anyway.  Nyah. 

Ink and acrylic paint on hot press watercolor paper. I was lucky to find some leftover paper stowed away from some art class I took years ago.  If you're looking to go out and get it, it tends to be expensive.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Watched Something Die Tonight...

... But also saved a life.  Well, depending on whether or not the poor living animal goes into shock...

Tonight, my lifemate Bob helped me at my farm job - stablehand job.  Instead of going directly home, he had a monster craving for Rita's (for those not on the east coast, Rita's is a water ice and custard place.  "Ice, Custard, Happiness" is their motto and they do deliver!)  It was almost closing time for that chain, so we headed to the one closest to us, opposite of home. 

The headlights of our car catch something, I suddenly exclaim "SHIT!" and Bob slams on the breaks. Two large, dark colored rumps are bobbing out in front of us - loose horses. I tried to acertain if they were any from the farm I work at.  (They weren't, they were just a pair from another owner in the area).  Bob yelps at me to call 911 on my cell phone while he tries to get the horses off the road.  I do, tell them that there are horses in the highway and where we were, they assure me they'll send people out there right away. 

Bob gets in the car to turn around and the horses are headed the same direction in front of us, we're watching them, hoping to do what we can to alert other drivers, but it is full-dark night and this stretch of road is home to some of the stupidest drivers in the state.... I hear a "THUMP!"  and Bob screams out something - "Hit!"

And in our headlights, on the side of the road, there is a twitching pile of hooves and guts.  I remember one whinny and going "Oh, God," then Bob saying that the other one was loose in the field on the opposite side of the roadway. 

I have a strong stomach - guts do not bother me.  If you look at my art on DA.... I've had to deal with stripping down roadkill to clean the bones.  I've seen the Bodyworld's exhibit with preserved human corpses stripped down, so, that doesn't bother me.  The horse's twitching did.  Suffering bothers me.   Later on, Bob assured me that what he saw (he saw the hit) tells him that the horse probably hadn't felt anything, that it was a solid hit and the whinny I heard was just a death-rattle, the twitches a reflex.  It stopped after about two minutes. 

In any case, even as I was disturbed by my view of blood and guts twitching and looking away in horror, I heard Bob say that the other horse was off in the field across the road and that we gotta keep it out of the road.  (More traffic was coming, even though Bob set our emergency lights an and was trying to stop it).

The driver of the van that hit the horse was fine, and trying to help the situation. Or calm himself with a smoke. Whatever. I had sprung into action.  No time to be horrified, I had a job to do.  There was a living horse in the field panicking and trying to get into the road and I had to stop it while Bob dealt with the driver, arriving cops, and with calling my boss for help. 

So, I risked getting hit by stupid drivers and being trampled to death by a large, panicked quadraped. 

I didn't help the animals' panic much.  I screamed at it at the top of my lungs.  "GO AWAY! STAY OUT OF THE ROAD!"  Waving my arms, dancing around like a crazy person, once ducking behind a telephone pole when it ran into the far side of the field, worried it was going to be charging back and if I couldn't stop it, I didn't want to die. When the horse did approach the roadway, I did my duty of dancing around, screaming and trying to back it away because, I thought "If I let this horse get hit and stood by to watch it, I'll never forgive myself." 

Bob said to try to calm it.  I reached out, touched its nose, talked softly, trying to get it to back away... watched the panic in its eyes and it twitch like it was going to come charging - I resorted to screaming and flailing again. Better to keep it out of the road than nothing.

When was able to, Bob came, put his arm around the horse's neck and partially calmed it.  I stayed to the roadside, pacing around in case it made a break.  Approached just as Bob's phone rang, took it. It was my boss, whom he'd called. I told her the situation and said "Yes, come, bring halters! We need a halter!"  Went back to pacing, told my side of the story to the cops....

My boss and the other area horse-people in her contact circle arrived to confirm that these animals didn't belong to them, to halter the horse and try to calm him down.  Poor thing was sweating buckets.  Panic and shock like this are very dangerous for horses. They are sensitive animals and almost anything can send them into conditions like colic.  We had to make sure he wasn't injured, as the van might have grazed him, too.

Bob and I stuck around for a while, even when the police said we didn't have to be there, just to try to settle things, to tell people our side of things (since we were the first responders).  I spoke of "needing whiskey."  Bob took me to Dunkin' Donuts for a large white hot chocolate, instead.  A joke was made about "When teetolers need a drink." 

Monday, June 13, 2011

On Spiritual Ambiguity II

Blogger is not letting me log in to comment for whatever asstastic reason it has.  I wanted to reply to my earlier post in response to some of the stuff said by Personal Failure.  I'll just say it here.  This may be deleted and re-posted to its proper position once Blogger stops being an ass to me.  What I had to say was important to my style of writing.

"I've not seen Naked Lunch or eXistenZ as yet, but I *do* like a lot of mind-screw anime. I'm a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and of Serial Experimetns Lain...Ghost in the Shell to a degree... My guy discovered a really cool one that dealt with the nature of souls and memories on a fansub download site - Kaiba - It's not liscensed in the West yet.  In fact, I’m such a geek - if you ever see me on here talking about the Internet as “The Wired,” I’m referencing Serial Experiments Lain.

That's probably one reason why I like ambiguity – all the anime I watch.  Another reason is that I don’t want to write just for one audience (well, I am already in that I’m writing fantasy, and that’s a specific fanbase), but as far as worldviews and values, I want to be accessible to a lot of people – (i.e. While some of my own views are going to leak into my work, I don’t want to offend my non-religious/not-into-spirituality friends).  Mostly, it’s just the way I think life is. It seems that no matter what “evidence” anyone has for something – whatever their experiences, not everyone is going to believe them. 

I had a dream that is a perfect illustration for this not long ago.  In my dream, I gained a sudden ability to talk to animals. I had dogs and birds going “Hey, yo!” to me. I could even talk to *meat* to a degree, which made it even weirder.  In the dream, I had the distinct impression that this sudden ability was proof of the existence of God. The problem was, when I tried to tell anyone in the dream, I was labeled as lying and/or crazy.  Then I realized that the “evidence was for me, personally, not for anyone else.” – When I woke up, I couldn’t talk to animals, but I felt like this dream echoed life, as in “The things I see as evidence for the things I believe in are evidence only for me.”

I’ve been cultivating the ambiguity thing for a while now.  In the last novel I wrote (yet, without an interested literary agent, *sigh*) there were four main characters. Two of them were human. The other two mains were their companions, animal-like spiritual guides. The two human characters came from a town where almost everyone had these kind of guardians – and only people who believed in them could see them.  “Non-believers” were unaware of them.  All the same, the guardians themselves enjoyed telling their charges that they might, indeed, be delusions, products of the humans’ imaginations. And – that’s pretty much what the entire novel was about. "         

Friday, June 10, 2011

On Spiritual Ambiguity and Zombies

Of possible interest to people who read my Static-Lands stories (all two, maybe three of you)?  

I have an idea for a story involving zombies.  A zombie uprising happens in a portion of the Static-Lands and an eccentric old artist finds a way to stop it.  This presents a small dilemma for me. 

One of the things I’ve been striving to do with these stories is to have a sense of spiritual ambiguity.  As I’ve been writing them, they really do seem to be about a lot of things – I’ve done exploring peace vs. pragmatism, individuality vs. conformity, and even spirituality vs. materialism.  I admit on that last point that I am rather hard on my materialists – they seem to be the “bad guys” in most respects, but that’s mainly because the nation of Vale also represents conformity. To be fair, they are not just materialists in the philosophical sense (belief in only a physical universe), but very deeply in the common usage of the term “materialism” (they’re obsessed with wealth, material success).  They also probably could be seen as “incomplete” materialists because they do hold to one major immaterial thing (they believe in a Goddess).   They do want to “stamp out superstition from the world” – but really only so they can replace it with their own.

Still, with the “differing beliefs” I am trying to craft in the peoples of this continent, I’ve been trying to be careful to not paint any of them as absolutely right or wrong when it comes to the spiritual and supernatural things.  There is a temptation to bend in one direction (because this series is fantasy and I just plain like and gravitate toward the fantastic), but I have been trying to keep a sense of “maybe yes, maybe no.”  Even the story I wrote where a young man enters an afterlife, he is told that it all might be in his head.   

I’m worried that once I write about zombies, that’ll throw a wrench right into that. My zombies are different, and I have a spiritual explanation for them within-world (having to do with Ilkhan afterlife beliefs – a belief that a dishonored spirit’s anger can bleed back into the world enough to re-animate their corpse in a basic way).  What I don’t have for them is a plausible materialist explanation for a zombie uprising event. 

I was thinking the whole affair could be explained via some kind of virus – something that can animate the remnants of a brainstem, but that sounds like something people would make up to cover up the mess. It also wouldn’t explain the skeletons and “ash zombies” I had in mind.  The technology of the Static-Lands is not advanced enough to allow for nano-technology.  I suppose I could have a “natural magic” explanation as a certain amount of magic is known to exist in the world and isn’t seen as “supernatural” as we might see it 

I was also thinking of hinting that it might have all been a hallucination on the part of the main character.  I wanted to bookend the story with scenes of the main character after the ordeal.  She is dying from an infection from a zombie bite (in this world, zombies don’t zombie-fy people when they bite a victim - they just give them deadly infections.  Think about it – being bitten by a creature bleeding from rotting gums).  I could always hint that it may be an animal bite and she might have fever-dreamed the whole thing, since the focus will be on the character.  I’d really like to hint that “this was real, this really happened,” but I want to leave enough from for “maybe not” to maintain a sense of spiritual ambiguity in the Static-Lands series as a whole. 

I really want to write a story with zombies but don’t want to screw up an important series theme.  What do you think I should do, if any of you are out there and talkative enough to leave a comment? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Facepalm of the Day

It's something I found funny, but at the same time, it really makes me worry for the state of imagination in the world, or at least in some people. 

Over on a forum disscussion, I was giving my opinion on something and I off-hand said (typed) "I usually just lurk here anymore, but today decided to come to the Comments box where angels fear to tread." 

Today I was checking the topic and I saw the response from someone saying "Yeah, as if ficticious entities have anything to fear." 

Is it just me or does the attempt at snark fail when it's nitpicking out a common cultural expression?  I'm sorry, guy, your attempt to make me feel stupid had the polar opposite effect, as in I don't want to come to your "side" or be like you if it means killing the poetry in my soul.  Some people are so literal these days, aren't they?  Too literal and not literary. I mean, the way I (and most people) use the phrase "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread" has nothing to do with the actual existance or non-existance of angels, it's about going somewhere or doing something that you know is foolish. 

As another expression goes, one that my guy is fond of using; "I knew the job was dangerous when I took it."  

What I didn't know was the extent of raging dumb I'd run into on it. It's always the ones that are certainn they're smart, too (otherwise they wouldn't attempt fail-snark).