26 March 2012

Echant with Christed Light

This Kickstarter project aims to launch a series of spiritually-instructive children's books featuring unicorns, talking birds, hay-varmints, and a barefoot white boy named Chadron. The first book, Rasazar an Enchanted Unicorn, "sets the stage for the next two books dealing with Christed Light, (Reiki), the calling of the Great Spirit and the dark side. In this book they will learn about such things as pink being the color of forgiveness and what unconditional love means and much more."

Chadron and Rasazar: BFFs.

"Christed Light" seems, on the basis of my cursory Internet research, to be a real thing--inasmuch as any New Age re-purposing of actual religious doctrines counts as a real thing. This video explains Christed light. I think.

Chadron gets lit.

But not all is Christed Light in our world, or the author's. She has faced major obstacles, including "the unforgiving illnesses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder," which make me less inclined to dismiss this project as the ramblings of a kook, groping toward comforting, mystical solutions to the realities of mental illness and America's lack of a first-world-style government healthcare system. The project appears to be exactly that, which is why we should not dismiss it.

The author notes that "the reader will receive Chakra Color Therapy as they read and view the pages." This, too, appears to be a real thing. Something tells me that this book would make a great slideshow, especially if combined with psilocybin mushrooms and a beanbag chair, provided I could forget about the schizophrenia.

23 March 2012

Epic Abuse: Short Films

From now on, anytime I hear anyone use the word epic to describe something that isn't (A) a narrative poem (B) hundreds of pages long and (C) written in a lofty style (D) about heroes in the historic past, I will cough the word bullshit. If the inspiration is upon me, I will cough something like I hate that people who don't understand the words coming out of their own mouths are the engine of linguistic change, turning useful, specific terms into vague buzzwords.

An epic pile of dishes.

Then Patroclus said, "Achilles, son of Peleus, 
who in future story will speak well of you, 
unless we put away these dishes, washed
by fallen Argives? Lend me your towel, 
and I who am fresh might drive these plates 
back into the cupboard."

Calling a big pile of dishes epic is silly, but it's excusable, because dishwashing doesn't presuppose any narrative or artistic ambition. Nobody begins soaking last night's meatloaf pan with an invocation to the muses.

"Of knives and the sponge I sing..."

However, the making of art, and the making of a Kickstarter page to ask strangers for money to finish or to promote that art, does presuppose narrative or artistic ambition. You might think that people with such ambitions might be careful not call their bro-comedy films epic, and that they wouldn't call their self-described "short" films epic, either.

You would be wrong.

21 March 2012

The Vivian Girls: A Play with Music.

Admit it: you have been waiting for a musical about Henry Darger, too. If you donate to this Kickstarter project, you might just get to see and hear one.

Henry Darger was born in Illinois in 1892 and died in 1973. An orphan, he worked as a janitor and lived as a recluse during his long life, attending Catholic mass every day. After his death, his landlord discovered in Darger's apartment a cache of hundreds of paintings, journals, and manuscript narratives, including The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, an illustrated prose narrative that ran over 15,000 pages.

By Darger standards, this is not even close to weird.

The video for the musical play's Kickstarter page runs too long (seven minutes), and the song lyrics muddy the creators' interviews, but let's not quibble. Henry Darger would have made a seven-hour Kickstarter video, starring only his mumbling self, featuring paintings of nude intersex children riding to war on butterfly space-dragons, set to music that he played on instruments made of tin he scrounged from garbage dumps. Then he would not have even uploaded it to the Internet, but instead left it for his landlord to find.

These artists are insiders, but let's not hold that against them.

This musical commemorates the work and life of a man who lived in a major city, in the most technologically advanced country on Earth (for its time), and who belonged to its dominant ethnic group (white), yet who had the ill fortune to lack the economic and cultural resources to channel his talents into normative routes like professional illustration, commercial writing, or high art. Help playwright Stacy Sims celebrate the work of this outsider.

19 March 2012

"Gods Word" or God sWord?

What is the evangelical Christian SCUBA enthusiast supposed to wear, secular SCUBA enthusiast t-shirts? Well, not anymore.

He hath loosed the fateful [bubbles] of His terrible swift [fonts]...

The examples of Breathe Life's designs that the video displays make me feel as if I ascended too rapidly and got the bends. According to the makers, "By wearing your Breathe Life Dive Wear shirt you will be fulfilling our mission by 'Spreading God’s Word, providing the Sword of the Spirit to carry out God’s plan.' We’re on a mission with a promise!" They don't tell us what the promise is, or what they plan to do with that sword.

I guess I'm not familiar with that translation.

In their video, they explain that they won't limit their designs to SCUBA diving, but will include "spear fishing, cave diving, snorkeling, and general water-related Scriptures for everyone." Jesus can be your spear-fishing buddy.

I will fear no eel-sharks.

Postscript: On second thought, I will fear eel-sharks. If there's one thing I learned from Leviathan (Cosmatos, 1989), it's that that eely thing is probably a Soviet "experiment that tampered with nature's most basic laws." (If there's two things I learned from Leviathan, the second is that a budget spent mostly on sets and lighting won't make your mash-up of Alien and John Carpenter's The Thing grow legs.)

And if there's one thing I learned from watching both Leviathan and Deepstar Six (Cunningham, also 1989), it's that each movie features one of the main actors from Robocop (Verhoven, 1987): in Leviathan, Peter Weller; in Deepstar Six, a scenery-chewing but still under-used Miguel Ferrer. Curiously, 1989's other deep-sea monster movie, The Abyss (Cameron), features no actors from Robocop. Where were you on that one, casting director Howard Feuer?

16 March 2012

...And in the basement bind them

I like that the author of Necromancer: Corruption demonstrates a knowledge of epic fantasy novels.

The other eight Nazgul want their rings back.

Many artists who use Kickstarter show a striking lack of interest in their chosen medium. It goes something like this:
I wrote a screenplay, but my coworkers said I should tun it into a sci-fi novel, so I did. My influences are Deep Space Nine, Farscrape, Battlestar Galactica and Firefly.

Here is my zombies comic book. I got the idea from riding the Mine Train ride at Six Flags in St. Louis at Halloween. If you love zombie movies then my comic is fo r you!!
Kevin "Necromansy" Cunningham (my nickname, not his) breaks with this sorry pattern. He declares, "I read through the Wheel of Time series, the Dark Elf Trilogy, and even classics like Lord of the Rings."

Even Lord of the Rings! I mean, R. A. Salvatore, sure, but Tolkein? He was probably dead before Necromancer was even born. That is dedication to the craft: reading books written by people who could not possibly autograph your copy.

14 March 2012

Zombie Wednesday: Zombie Brewing

I wanted to dislike this Kickstarter project. The text doesn't have a thing to do with zombies, so I thought, "Oh, somebody slapped the word 'zombie' on a thing to make people think it's edgy, cool, and 2005."

Try our new bacon steampunk cupcake.

After watching the video, I'm even less convinced that zombies are the best way to distinguish this brand. Why not name it for the neighborhood, or some distinguished person born there? Nevertheless, I want this backyard-brewery to succeed. They make dog treats out of some of their spent grain, and donate some of it to a horse farm!


A first: a zombie making scare-quotes.

Pledge money to Zombie Brewing, or the animate dead will frighten this dog.

"Ruh-roh!"

12 March 2012

Perduellis, "a sci-fi action thiller book"

Ah, the failed screenplay that becomes a novel, that old staple of Kickstarter projects.

Stupid movie studios. What do they know?

Imagine how different our world would be if movie studios had had the wisdom to buy the screenplays The Man in the High Castle, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Dahlgren, rather than leaving their authors to pad them out into ACE Doubles. (To be fair, we didn't really have the special effects to do justice to The Man in the High Castle until the last ten years or so, but still.)

At least D. A. Karr understands the barriers she faces: "Because this is sci-fi and fiction, it's more difficult to sell then non-fiction." (Aspiring SF writers, take note: disguising your gender by using the old initials-only trick doesn't work if you include a detailed bio.)

Sci-fi or fiction? ...or both?

Originality is key when turning failed screenplays into novels, for as Karr points out, "There is only so many ways you can write about a spaceship that doesn't resemble 'Star Trek.'" You, aspiring writer of failed-screenplay-novels, must find this ways.

I know what you're thinking: "What model is a novelist supposed to use, if not Star Trek? I guess there's Space: 1999, but I can't even get that on Netflix instant-view! What am I supposed to do, spend all my free time chasing down obscure DVDs?"

Nobody said being a novelist would be easy.

09 March 2012

Laughing My Way Through Alzheimer's

Sometimes, the catalog speaks for itself:
There is nothing funny about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. OR IS THERE?

That was a rhetorical question.

07 March 2012

Galactic Biology 101: Slowly but Surly

This Kickstarter project opens with an unusual call not merely for backing, but for dissemination:

"Note; Everyone you could possbly know will want to see the video I have supplied for this presentation. Please share the link with everyone you can think of."

Said video* runs 16 minutes and 33 seconds, so you might want to read the text instead, though that isn't concise either. Allow KK to summarize: a conspiracy has deceived us regarding the nature of the Moon. Specifically, "The gray areas that NASA felt comfortable in leading you to believe was gray sand is actually dense growth comparable to forest here on Earth."

"Straight people don't know / what you're about."

In a helpful move that many other Kickstarter-ers would do well to imitate, the creator's biographer offers a remarkable means of verifying the creator's identity:
There is a more or less famous rock band that he has been into most of his adult life. The bands website has a forum. He has been a member there for a very long time. Everyone there knows who he is. Many have even been to his house.
If you go there and register, post a thread and ask the question of who he is, if he can be trusted, and if his mission is real. Sure, you will get some people who say what a weirdo he is being how he is so fanatical with his work, but, you won’t hear any bad things. That is of course, because he is a guy with impeccable character.

The bands name is called............’ Butthole Surfers’.
Sell your stock in NASA, readers, because it's about to fall through the floor.

"[Seymour], what does 'regret' mean?"

*At 9:51, we hear a sound that mainstream astronomers dismiss as terrestrial in origin, but that digital enhancement reveals to be the product of an alien ecosystem.

05 March 2012

Steampunk Blaster Gun Prop

At the risk of biting into one of Regretsy's signature moves, can someone tell me what is "steampunk" about Steampunk Blaster Gun Prop?

Not pictured: steampunk

I see neither 19th-century firearm design (bolt action, lever action, box magazine), nor indications of steam power (coal hoppers, valve gears, eccentric rods). Instead, I see a perforated heat-shield and bell-shaped flash suppressor, which appear to be inspired by the Maschinengewehr 34 that Nazi Germany used to terrorize Europe during World War II. (During this period, histories tell us, steam power had stopped being cool, but was not yet "retro.") Also, I see an ergonomic grip and a reflex sight, hallmarks of handgun design only since the 1970s. Finally, I see no "punk," whatever that would mean in firearm-design terms. (A magazine held on by safety pins? Spiky day-glo iron sights?)

Could it be that an artist has used the word "steampunk" without thinking hard about what it means?

The goggles steam you, but the spats punk you.

And why call it a "prop"? Was there a danger I might think it was a real Steampunk Blaster Gun? Or is it a prop within the fiction of the artist's cosplay?

That is, does his real-life steampunk circle don spats and tank tops and knee pads, get into character, and then engage in meta-cosplay about a future driven by electricity and atomic power? Does Phineas T. Cogbottom, Leftenant in Her Majesty's Aërial Dragoons, spend his R&R pretending to be Frank "Rocket" Franklin, 1937 Heisman Trophy winner and leader of the band of Earthlings standing between our planet and the evil Conqueror Liu's fleet of atom-powered Jet Auk-Men? Does Cogbottom dream of a future of vacuum tubes and ergonomic handles?

<Sydow> Pathetic Earthlings. Hurling your [cosplayers] out into the void... </Sydow>

02 March 2012

Poetic Shadows: Whispers from the Darkness

I confess: The the photo in this Kickstarter project got my attention.


"...I've got flowers and lots of hours / to spend with you..."

Blurry though she is, I can't say no to Tura Satana eyes, black-metal jewelry, or corpse-white décolletage. In this instance, the photo's constellation of features even led me to read, with sympathy, this pitch from the poet:
Best way to describe my reasoning is I have a huge love for poetry. Poetry has always been a dream of mine to have my own thoughts and feelings put into a book... for all to enjoy. There are many emotions and dark feelings that i have put into my poems, and I would like the world to realize that poetry is a way of letting your feelings and emotions out, I want to give the world the gift of poetry.
A sample of that poetry, from "Eyes Ablazed":
Into your soul I will gaze
through endless tears and eyes ablaze

to feel you tremble beneath my finger tips
and taste your blood upon my lips.
Oof. Well, maybe there's hope, I thought. Half a dozen literature classes at the community college, Paul Fussell's Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, and a poetry workshop or two might channel her "feelings" into something other people want to read.

However, as I scrolled down the page, I was in for another disappointment.

"Sheena was a man."
Like Tom Jones said, I can't get no satisfaction.

01 March 2012

The End: Actually the Pilot

It's sad that all it takes to distinguish a zombie-apocalypse indie-film Kickstarter project is simply to have a woman do the talking. Goateed white boys so saturate the field that simply having a representative who is not a goateed white boy counts as innovation.

You can, Rosie. That doesn't mean you should.

While a female mouthpiece might count as innovation, a first-person video log of a zombie apocalypse does not. There's this obscure indie director named George Romero who has already done that. (Aspiring filmmakers, please write that down. With some luck, you might be able to find one of his videos at your local video store or flea market.)

I hope that if there is a real zombie apocalypse, the animate dead start by eating any white boys they see holding video cameras.