Archive for August, 2009

Attention, internet: I rule SO HARD

Posted in Comics with tags , , , on August 31, 2009 by bradellison

Last night, in a feverish haze of espresso and poorly dubbed kung fu movies, I completed the script for the break-out indy comics hit of 2010.  I speak, of course, of issue #1 of Thog-Dar: Caveman Detective.  At the dawn of the human race, a man is murdered by someone using the first bow ever made.  A mystified tribal chieftain and a baffled Lawkeeper (high priest of the Giant Ball of Fire In the Sky) have only one man they can turn to: Thog-Dar, a hard-boiled lone wolf who doesn’t play by the rules.  Thog-Dar, the inventor of crime scene investigation.  Thog-Dar, the first man in human history to grasp the concept of the alibi.  Thog-Dar, a man who walks fearlessly up to the first gangster in human history and punches him right in the face.  But even Thog-Dar may be in over his head, up against a killer who’s centuries ahead of his time when it comes to lethal weaponry.

And while I was doing that, I went ahead and touched up the other sure-fire hit of the next year, Black Flag.  Pirates!  Revenge!  Hidden treasure!  Necromancy!  Long conversations about the philosophy of anarchy!  17th-century profanity!  And will there be a sword fight on the deck of a burning ship, between two half-brothers whose hatred of each other can only be quenched by hot blood and cold steel?  You better believe it.

All that awesomeness, plus more, will be coming out of the Capstone Connection, the collective of Austin writers and artists who have banded together to rock faces off.  And the Connection is brought to you by Capstone Comics, the best comic book store in Austin.  Thanks to them, I’ve been able to see my visions of horrifically violent yet entirely justified revenge killings taking place in exciting historical venues brought to bold, bloody life on the page, and will soon be able to share that vision with the world.

Things I’ve been looking at lately

Posted in Comics, Religion, Stuff I think is cool with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by bradellison

I habitually leave a lot of browser tabs open non-stop, closing them only when I’m quite finished with that page.  This leads to a lot of build-up, an accumulation of Firefox clutter.  So I’m doing some cleaning, and along the way I figured I’d share some highlights with you, the possibly tens of readers who follow this blog.

Roger Ebert, the dominant film reviewer on the planet, discusses something deeply personal.  Alcoholics Anonymous gets criticized both by people who don’t like the notion of God, and those who don’t like like the notion of expanding God to include just about anything.  Ebert, who doesn’t believe in God but does believe in AA, offers an interesting perspective on this.  My main thought: I suspect the religion of the early Church may have had a lot more in common with what goes on among those desperate and hurting people in the church basement that with what we do in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings.

And now for something completely different:

What if Judith Martin were thoroughly goth?

It might look something like the Lady of the Manners, which is pretty awesome.

Mike Stimpson specializes in recreating iconic photographs in Lego form.

Shawn was nice enough to comment on my blog, so I guess I might as well get around to plugging his webcomic, Clockworks.  Steampunk!  Action!  Intrigue!  Magic!  Trenchcoats!  Goggles!  Punches to the face!  It’s good stuff.

Some more notable Christians of the 20th century

Posted in Religion with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by bradellison

Mister Rogers

I think probably there’s never been a better, purer human being on television than Fred Rogers.  He was a saint, a bodhisattva.  With every atom of his being, he was a conduit of unconditional love, flowing out in an endless torrent to everyone around him.

Read this.  I’m not messing around here, you click that link, and you read that essay, and see how hard it is to keep a tear from your eye.

Look at this.

What you see there, in that video, is one man overcoming the United States Senate through sheer force of virtue.  Kindness.  Gentleness.  Meekness. Humility.  These things emanated from Mr. Rogers in a palpable wave, and they gave him a power against which no strength, pride or cynicism could prevail.

I’m a surly misanthrope who drinks, smokes, curses, loves violent movies, and tends to regard the human race with a detached cynicism.  I’m not like Mr. Rogers.  I don’t think I have it in me to be, although certainly I could try harder than I do.  Maybe it’s best that I’m not.  But the world needs people who are like Mr. Rogers.

I just watched that video.  Tears are welling up in my eyes as I type this.  This man was a living embodiment of agape, the perfect love of the Christ.  How many lives, how many millions of lives, did he touch with that love?

T.S. Eliot


That’s right, we’ve got the greatest poet of the 20th century.  Suck on that, other religions.  It makes up for having Stephen Baldwin.  It almost makes up for having Kirk Cameron.

As a fan and co-religionist of Eliot, and of Tolkien and Lewis, I also find it kind of hilarious that those latter worthies hated Eliot’s poetry.

The church shall be open, even to our enemies.
We are not here to triumph by fighting , by stratagem, or by resistance,
Not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast
And have conquered. We have only to conquer
Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.

Johnny Cash

Look up the word “badass” in a dictionary.  If the definition is anything other than that picture, your dictionary is probably defective.  Johnny Cash was probably the greatest country musician ever.  His voice was made of raw pain, anger and power.  In his earlier years, he spent a considerable amount of time raising hell.  Then one day he crawled into a cave while out of his mind on drugs and looking for a good hole to die in.  What he found instead was God.  He crawled out, got clean, married June Carter, and went to his knees before the altar at Evangel Temple in Nashville.

He continued to be a total badass.  He wasn’t much like Mr. Rogers at all either.  Indeed, he spent his final years on Earth covering metal songs in a fashion guaranteed to break the heart of any human being listening.

If you can watch that music video without being moved, you’d probably fail the Voight-Kampf Test, because you’ve got a subhuman lack of empathy.  But while his version of “Hurt” is the one people remember, I maintain that the better epitaph for the man is “Further On Up the Road.”

Superman

So what if he’s fictional?  He’s Superman.

In fairness, Batman is almost certainly an atheist.

I have such sights to show you

Posted in Music, Stuff I think is cool with tags , , , , , , on August 18, 2009 by bradellison

Midnight.  31 December, 1999.  A piece of music began playing.

It is meant to continue playing, without repetition, for a thousand years.

It’s called Longplayer.

Apparently, it is possible to learn Jamaican patois through Dr. Seuss.  This book must have been read to me literally hundreds of time in my early years, so encountering it once more, in this context, is quite a trip.

The living statue.  A peculiar art form, but potentially a very impressive one.  In Russia, there are masters of the form.

This is magic.  There aren’t any other words adequate to describe what this is.  Magic.

Comedy.  Tragedy.  The all-too-real woes of fans and thespians, writ large in the form of the confessions of the Hitlers.  If you’re part of a fandom, or have spent any time around the theater, I think you’ll understand.

Question: is there anybody on the internet at this point that doesn’t have a crush on Felicia Day?

For years now, I’ve wanted to learn the name of the typeface used in Diablo, mostly because the O looks cool.  Turns out it’s Exocet.

Have I shown this to you already?  There is a monument, composed of massy slabs of granite, that stands upon a hill in Georgia.  Inscribed upon the stones, in eight languages, are instructions for those who will come after us, in the days after our world ends.

The monument was raised in 1980.  By whom, and to what end, remain a mystery.

The world is a strange place.  Let’s keep it that way.

Happy Birthday To Me

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2009 by bradellison

Twenty-five years.

At the quarter-century mark, I guess it’s as good a time as any to take stock of who I am.  So, introspection ahead.

I’m an overweight guy with a beard, a ponytail, a black leather trenchcoat, three fedoras, a comic book collection and a number of RPG rulebooks.  And I’m pretty happy with that, all things considered.

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
H has spoken through the Prophets.
I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

For a surly misanthrope, I’ve got a fair number of good friends.

I’ve been to a lot of places, and seen a lot of interesting things.  I’ve read a lot of books, listened to a lot of music, and seen a lot of films.  I plan on doing more of all the above in the future, as much as I can.

I am, by nature, a pretty lazy person.  I’ve been learning to make this work for me when possible.

I’ve written two comic books that will shortly be published, and more will follow.  I’m pretty proud of them.  By this time next year, an’ God will it, I intend to have at least the first draft of a novel at hand.  With a little luck, I also hope to have sold a short story of two.

I’m getting by right now, but I really should get a better job.

I’ve learned to identify the things that give me joy (horror movies, urban legends, weird history, swords, fine tobacco, Japanese poetry, heavy metal songs based on Robert E. Howard stories, Coen Brothers movies)., and the things that do not (furniture, 90% of Shounen manga, contemporary Christian music, noisy bars, wearing ties, 90% of all romantic comedies).

Once it’s possible to fit my entire library of books, comics, movies and music onto a single laptop-sized device that hooks up to some sort of VR headset, I’ll be pretty happy to move into a tube hotel.

Now that I think about it, I’ve been very single for a depressingly long time.  You know what, I think it’s time to get back on the proverbial horse and something about that.

I really don’t have much ambition, when you get right down to it, as far as material stuff goes.  The one thing I do want is some success as a writer.  I figure if I can do as well as, say, Jim Butcher, that’d be pretty awesome.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with my life to date, and look forward to the rest of it, however long that is.  World’s a pretty cool place, and I’ve been having a swell time in it.

These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks

Posted in Religion with tags on August 3, 2009 by bradellison

For reasons unbeknownst to me, but possibly having something to do with his hippie devil software, Nathan Hale’s blog does not acknowledge the validity of my WordPress account, so here I am writing my own post here instead of in the comments for his latest post.

It’s a grim state the Church Militant is in these days.  You’re off to a good start with this list.  But I think the fakeness, the irrelevance, the lack of true community, and the petty politics are all just symptoms of the larger underlying sickness.

And the Church, wit ye well, especially the American Evangelical establishment, is fundamentally sick.

There are many symptoms.  My own personal bugbears include rampant anti-intellectualism and the inevitably attendant intellectual dishonesty, an intense concern for the motes in the eyes of others with the usual disregard for the beams in our own, the utterly dismaying lack of Charity in the broadest sense, and the apparent disregard for what Jesus actually said and how He told us to live.

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

But fundamentally what it comes down to is that too many churches fail utterly to feed the soul.  Some of them simply lay a bare table, serving up empty homilies and platitudes.  Not meat.  Not even milk.  Just a stream of non-dairy creamer (which, as an informed consumer, you should know holds no sustenance whatsoever).  Some others, well, they’ve got some meat to them, maybe, but it’s meat dripping with vile poison.

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.

When a tree is whithering, look to the roots: is it being fed?  On what is it fed?

I’ve been in many, many churches, from Fort Worth to Tokyo.  I’ve seen the same things almost everywhere, in some degree or another. Pettiness, shallowness, materialism (so often couched in a properly Calvinistic frame),the busybody’s itch to reform other peoples’ habits, and a general lack of reflection, of questioning.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

All over, I’ve felt the same hunger of the soul and, at the very altar of the Most High, been left unfed.

Of course, the problems with the Church are just the first half of Nathan’s article.

The second half, I think, could come down to “well then, what do you propose to do about it?”

Some days, for instance days when I read about some blasphemous moron accusing the President of being the Antichrist (the subject of antichrists in general is an angry rant for another day) or vomiting up hate or watching their diabetic daughters die because they think prayer will work better than insulin, I get to thinking that maybe the sickness runs too deep and amputation is the only option.  I frequently find myself reluctant to use the term “Christian” to describe myself.  It’s got a taint to it, now, and “Follower of the Way” is a better term anyway.

But no.  I’ve got a rightful claim to the title “Christian,” and denying it would be cowardice.  So instead I’ve been working at upholding what I believe Christianity means.

For a while now, I’ve been doing this more or less alone.  Church isn’t the best place to find the Christ.  Probably it never was.  Jesus lived and died and rose again outside the walls.  And outside is where I’ve been for some time, looking and listening.

But I think the time is near, now, for me to go back to the sheepfold.  And if the Church falls short, it’s time to do something about it.

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.