Friday, July 29, 2005


Continuing where I left off...
So, what is it that's so hard about writing the opposite gender? On the surface, not much. Women are the moral and intellectual equals of men. They are also human beings, and all human beings have feelings and issues in common. So far, so good.
I guess the first stumbling block is that while I know that I don't harbor any (or many) sexist attitudes, my audience doesn't know that. At least, the audience who doesn't know me, which is pretty much all of them. So when I create a character, there's almost certainly someone out there who's going to scream "stereotype!!!" or some such... You may ask, why do I care? I'm a writer, and having the skin of a rhino is part of the job requirement. It's just something about the label... call me all sorts of names and they bounce off my invincible shield, but label me a sexist (or a racist) and it HURTS. Even if the critic is wrong-headed in doing so... This has happened a couple of times to me already. It will happen again, since women tend to be very sensitive to this sort of thing (and well they should be. It's 2005 and women still aren't officially, socially, governmentally, religiously, etc. on par with the guys... what the hell gives?!) But I digress...
The second problem is my lack of objectivity. I like women. I like women a lot. So when I write them, there is a tendency to idealize the characters too much.
The third problem is that I'm not a woman, and as such I can only make educated guesses about certain aspects of experiencing womanhood. I am similarly handicapped when writing minorities, being a white dude and all... I will say I am a little better off than most of my fellow majority, having experienced real, live racism. While in Japan, I got to be the minority! What fun, being constantly stopped by the fuzz and asked if my bike / car / computer bag was stolen, having folks gawk and stare at me, having folks cross to the other side of the street to avoid me, going to a blood drive and being told they wouldn't take my blood because I was caucasian, etc. etc. etc. What an eye-opener! A nice, solid reality brickbat to the skull. Wakey wakey! That was, quite seriously, probably the most valuable experience of my life, bar none... Talk about connecting to your fellow human in a way you never could before... now when friends tell me of similar experiences, I can do a little more than just nod in uncomfortable sympathy... I can generate a little righteous outrage of my own.
So, being in this kind of unfamiliar position, I got to learn a little bit about discrimination first hand, and learn that aspect... but as far as being able to really, really understand the biological differences... well, that's pretty much impossible, at least with current technology (I don't see a VR sim for PMS or pregnancy becoming available anytime soon- probably not high on the designer's drawing board). So... I'll never be able to fill in the gaps with 100% conviction.
Thank goodness, though, I have a lot of female friends that I can ask questions to who will not laugh at me no matter how pathetic and ignorant I may sound... so I soldier on.
More to come...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Anima Enema

As the title suggests, this contains my thoughts on trying to write... women.
Hmm, women.
The old joke is,of course, that man and wo-man (or womyn or womyyn or wzbrkrgz or however you'd like to spell it) are different species, perhaps not originating from the same planet.
This, of course, is not true. I think. It is perfectly normal for me to be awakened at 3 am by my lovely wife, who is attempting to suck out my eyeballs with the suction-cup tip of her prehensile tongue while ramming her ovipositor into my belly button... er, no, that was a dream I had.
The fact is, in my writing over the years, I have noticed that a great percentage of the main characters are of the female persuasion. Why is this? Does it matter?
I've written two novels in my lifetime, the second of which may be worth a darn upon editing. In the first, a woman (actually an adolescent girl) is the main character, and in the second, two women (plus a dysfunctional man and a rabbit) are the main characters. I've written women for comics, women for scripts, and the main character in the great upcoming not-yet-titled-because-the-overarching-theme-has-yet-to-be-determined-and-it's-driving-
us-batty Detroit project is a woman, too. It seems that 70% of my main characters are women, most of whom have really f**ked-up pasts. Why is this? Does it matter?
The women I write about are usually younger than me. They are never normal people, being either deeply socially maladjusted or just plain haunted by circumstance ( then again, if they didn't have problems, would they be interesting characters?) Why is this? Does it matter?
I've always been fascinated with women... and no, not just in a physical sense. What I mean is that I like the way women approach their inner lives. I like the way they approach problems. Generally speaking, of course. Though I hate to stereotype, I do think it's true that women are less confrontational, less competetive, more cooperative, more clever in their approach to things. I've always felt I have a "feminine" way of looking at things. (Now I have to grunt and watch a football game to recover my flagging masculinity. Snort. Go Lions!)
So, maybe this is my way of getting in touch with my anima. The relationship is not always pretty, though- I am a logical creature by nature, and overreliance on emotion drives me bonkers. Still, at least I'm attempting to deal with it. Many guys I know refuse to admit such a thing exists and feel they have to do stuff (like grunt and watch football games) to recover their masculinity. Oh, wait...
More on this, along with, perhaps, some actual concrete examples, coming up...

Friday, July 22, 2005

A veritable cornucopia of images today

Howdy good infobahn surfers. I'm a little later in posting than I planned but that's ok, been quite busy working on EBEJEEBIES material for something pending in the future. Well, as Jeff said I had the photos from our last shoot (didn't post any of the 35mm photos yet though, some of those soon too) and I have indeed posted quite a few below. The shoot was fun, a little different this time in choice of locations. I also fired up my old, but very nice, Sharp HI-8 Viewcam, which has a nifty 16:9 widescreen feature. I haven't used it in some time because the silly battery was pretty much dead and for outdoor shoots you pretty much need a working battery... so I finally bought a new one . It was very nice to add it to the arsenal of equipment. All this craziness for an animated show, all these photos yet no art... no wait, yes some art IS to be seen tonight. With that I wanted to post some more illustrations for the show as this isn't really supposed to be a photo blog about Detroit... not that it's been a bad thing. There are 2 in-process and unfinished and the final image art for a Vox Kali piece. There will be plenty more to come but it might be a little while as EBEJEEBIES is full speed at the moment and will eat up plenty of time.

Image art shot, in-process, of the spiraling pathway that exits Joe Louis Arena's parking structure. This entire bit o architecture is a bloody retro 60 Logan's Run freakout, very cool. I also loved the orange wash of lighting the real location has. It pretty much looks just like the artwork here. This artwork is actually based on a lightboxed Mavica photo I took. Lightboxing saves time and allows accurate renditions of real world location but don't let that fool you, it's a HELL of a lot of work to draw and paint anyway, still very much a creative process. There will be a lot more graff, dirt, and posters added to this shot. The posters are fun but tedious. I have to go in, by hand, and paint in all the rips (white edges where the paper would be coming off due to the tears) on the tears and it's pretty time consuming but is indeed an enjoyable challenge.
Posted by Picasa

An image art piece in-process, of the Comerica Tower. Hella lot of billboards there and bloomin windows. This is the first experiment in using our photos directly to lightbox some of the more time-consuming shots of the city. It came to me that, although I can render this stuff by hand, without question, why waste time inefficiently when I can utilize our own photos and compositions to render some parts of the city quickly and accurately (all character illustrations I do by hand though. I'm only utilizing this process with architecture). With this in mind I thought I'd try doing some blow ups of some of the photos and lightboxing the images for the base illustrations. In essence I'm treating these images as filmmakers treat a matt painting in a live action film. The base elements of the image, Comerica Tower, are the real location but then I have to add everything fictional that isn't there, all the 2042 stuff. There will be 3 floating police cars in the final image as well, cell shaded. So as much as this is a time saver it's still tedious and a lot of work either way. It's an enjoyable approach though and in the end this is about selling ideas not technique or process. Posted by Picasa

The final image art piece of Vox Kali standing, in defensive posture, on some fictional roof in 2042 Detroit. This piece was all about the atmosphere and evoking that sense of neo-noir neon soaked nights. I had a lot of fun with this one and it sets the look of future night images of the city. The very "directed" color of this image along with the real sodium vapor amber color of Detroit will give this project's art direction a look I just don't really see happening in anime. It's a very real and stylized look. The background here is all imagination. Vox is, of course, based on Gina and I'm happy to post the final piece. There's a posting of this art in an early stage here. Posted by Picasa

Mavica shot. The Guardian soaking up the afternoon sun. No matter how many times I see it I'm impressed, quite a piece of architectural genius. Posted by Picasa

Mavica shot. It was a very clear day with the sun reflecting on the building sides if you looked up at the right angle. Even with the iffy Mavica it allowed for some nice shots. Posted by Picasa

Mavica shot. A very cool umbilical walkway joining these two building in the city. Stuff like this always makes for cool images whether in the real world setting or in a futuristic setting with lots of fictional flourishes. Posted by Picasa

Mavica shot. Another interesting installation. Clearly from the shot the buildings are caked with oil and grease and you could smell it in the air quite distinctly. Posted by Picasa

Mavica shot. Blade Runner 2 the Quickening 2020 Detroit... or something. More Rouge/Zug industry. Mmmm, that oil and sulfur I smell... yeah. Living near these things must be a joy. Posted by Picasa

Mavica shot. I don't remember exactly where this was during the trip, I just remember thinking it was a very cool looking drawbridge tower. I know I saw another like it at a different location, least I thought I did. Posted by Picasa

Now this is very Dark Satanic Mill, as the file is named with a very Blade Runner kinda pastiche. Another Mavica shot of one of many industrial facilities peppered all throughout the River Rouge/Zug Island area. Posted by Picasa

A Mavica shot, by Gina, of me shooting the fuel tank with the Sharp camcorder. Nicely done, it's almost the same composition there. Posted by Picasa

Camcorder Screen grab of the rusted fuel tank. The place was like a wasteland out there... It was after the apocalypse... no one expected the Robot Holocaust!!! Posted by Picasa

Camcorder screen grab of the front of the fuel depot in River Rouge. This was taken before the semi arrived and alerted us it actually was active. It sure didn't look it though. Posted by Picasa

Camcorder screen grab of a bigass hole in the ceiling of the abandoned USPS depot we investigated near the Train Station. Posted by Picasa

Camcorder screen grab of what Jeff said reminded him of the PC game Myst. This railing was in front of the fuel tank in the image below. When we arrived at this location it caught our eye and had to explore it. Frankly we thought the depot was abandoned but when we came back from over the hill where the fuel tank was we were greeted by a semi truck fueling up right there. Good thing Jeff moved his van O_o The gold in the shot is actually from a Colkin sepia filter on the camcorder. Posted by Picasa

Camcorder screen grab of a rusted fuel tank in the River Rouge territory of South Detroit. Quite a lot of texture on the surface of this thing. Posted by Picasa

Camcorder screen grab of the vacant Train Station, one of Detroit's deteriorating architectural treasures. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Industrial Wastelands

Tuesday (the 19th), we had another photo trip... this one starting at the old USPS depot near 1-96 and 1-75 (across from the train station), and continuing into South Detroit, River Rouge, and Ecorse... the industrial wasteland of the motor city.
First, I must clarify that I mean no disrespect in using the term "industrial wasteland"... it is a necessary evil of modern society, without which we wouldn't have the cool stuff we have. I also have a lot of respect for the workers in those factories, plants, and driving those trucks, who are a hard-working and integral part of the community. Rather, industrial wasteland is nothing more than an apt description. Some part of the trip could have taken place on Mars.
Mike's got the photos, and he will post them soon, so I'll just say that the crew this time consisted of beauty (Gina) and two beasts (Mike and me). The photos will speak for themselves. I've got to go cook dinner now. More to come soon...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Building Detroit

I second Mike's point on the 7/13 post... nice job, Detroit. It was amazing to walk from Comerica Park down to Jefferson Avenue on the riverfront via Woodward at 11:30 pm and actually see people out walking! I mean, people! Real people! On the streets and everything! Of course, there were still too many abandoned storefronts... and cops on every corner... but hell, it's a start!
Imagine if you could get a ballgame crowd like the one at the All StarGame every single day of the season. Imagine if folks moved back downtown to affordable apartments instead of $150,000 condo projects (which are nice, but missing the point- you need average families to live there). Why, it would look like Chicago, or Toronto, or any other properly functioning metropolis...
You can do it, Detroit. One step at a time. Just remember: families are your future... not one-time gala events (fun though they are) or having a winning baseball team (great as that is). When middle-income folks can come back... and find shopping... and places to go... and decent schools... and functioning public transportation... THEN, folks, Detroit will truly be reborn!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

City of Detroit, you can take a well deserved bow

Howdy folks. This weekend was a pretty big and special weekend for Detroit, as many know the All Star game was last night and the weekend's events leading up to it through the subsequent game were hugely successful for the city. Detroit, as we have discussed on the blog, is a city with a great deal of troubles but it's a city that's fighting, making an effort to improve and overcome it's problems. Having the All Star game and the Super Bowl are both important events that the city needs. An event like the All Star game carries a good deal of hype and if it fails to live up to that hype it would be perceived as a failure and this can obviously damage the image of a city struggling to break out of bad press. Well, Detroit pulled the event off in style and succeeded to show the nation it can be a vibrant city, it does have a lot to offer. All the press I've seen so far has been incredibly positive and that's encouraging to see.

Monday night, July 11th, Jeff, Gina, and I had our second photo scout of Detroit in the evening, I posted a few photos below, the city was alive, and utter contrast to the eerie ghost town sensation of the July 4th shoot. Unfortunately a good deal of the photos I took were just too hampered by the poor resolution and quality of the Mavica. I've had that camera for some time now and rarely used it for anything serious, it was always just something for fun quick little shots of little import. Now it's pretty much back-up coverage against Jeff's 35mm photos (I'll post some of those when they're developed) so I find myself actually using it for this project quite heavily and it's clearly not up to the task. Still, I did get some decent images and everyone just had a lot of fun that night, how couldn't we with that much excitement in the air. Indeed it was Detroit's time to shine this weekend.

We began this futuristic Detroit TV show project with the intent of showing a more positive take on Detroit in a creative work of fiction. Seems the city has been in transition during our developing this project, a transition we've seen unfolding before our eyes as we explore and shoot images of a city in change. To say this has been fascinating to witness is an understatement. I can't help but wonder if our timing has been, frankly, perfect to propose such a project. The success of an animated show set in Detroit would only help bring more attention on our interesting little city. This is an angle I can't help but see. Well it was a great weekend and a poductive night on Monday. Lot's of work to do, lots of work. Stay tuned more to come.

A sea of fans packed to capacity at Comerica for the pre All Star game Home Run Derby. No doubt Detroit had a rockin' weekend. You could tell everyone was just having a lot of fun. Although we didn't attend the game ourselves there's no question we had fun just being a part of all that excitement. It was a great night. Posted by Picasa

A shot I took of the sizable cluster of news trucks and vans with their crazy satellite dishes pointing all over the place. Posted by Picasa

A shot of Comerica Park, PACKED, during the Home Run Derby. Jeff, without question, has been to the park quite a few times. he commented he's never seen it sold out like this. Again nice to see the event was a huge success. Posted by Picasa

Sadly a lot of my digital shots came out pretty muddy (time for a new camera soon) but here's one of the nicer ones. A shot of Gina as we waited for the endlessly circling tiny train, the People Mover. Posted by Picasa

The night before the All Star Game, the night of the Home Run Derby, the city was alive, teeming with activity. It was nice to see it vibrant with people just having a good time. As you can see, there were police on patrol, they were everywhere. It was cool to see the mounted police roaming about with thier trusty steeds. All we know is Gina wanted to pet them, who can blame her? Posted by Picasa

Here we have a shot of the Renaissance Center with a massive baseball add stuck over the windows facing Comerican park. All the activity to renew interest in Detroit is all too aparent with all the giant adds going up all over the place on building facades.
 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 07, 2005

My heart goes out to Londoners right now, a terrible day.

This is not the way anyone wants to start the day, as many know this morning, if they have their radios or TVs on, London has just been attacked with multiple bombings in its busy subway and transportation network. The London underground subway system and some of London's double decker buses have been hit with a coordinated attack using explosive devices of some kind. Of course the belief is terrorism and though it's too early to know for sure this is probably what the outcome will be. The awful reality of the instability of our times continues to creep itself into our consciousness in violent disturbing shocks such this and I pray somehow it can all just end. The sad reality is it likely won't anytime soon.

911's horrible surreal unfolding, which I will never be able to erase from my mind, as I watched it live just as Jeff did, has scarred the human syche and it doesn't help that the current administration keeps beating us over the head with it every chance they get. That event lodged in our minds only to further the escalation with things such as this creeping up on us. It's sadly ironic to be touching upon this 2 days after our trip to Detroit which resulted in Jeff's editorial post on Homeland security issues, here we are in the middle of another event that could potentially lead to more fear and possibly more escalation from all sides. I hope not but look at what has already happened and where we are now.

I move through each day with a positive outlook on many things but I dread mornings like this where I turn on the news and something awful is unfolding. I dread this kind of thing escalating further but ultimately it seems to be a phantom boogyman that simply will always be there until humanity completely evolves itself past this tribal warlike nature. Asymmetrical warfare is the new modern battlefield, our enemies are not nations, have no borders, and can move about freely with anonymity. They attack without warning on their own time schedule with precise simplicity. They go after soft targets, the people, the economic infrastructures, they know where to hurt us most. It's like fighting shadows.

Sure we have high technology to aid us in a fair fight but these guys have zero interest in fighting fair, they know they'd lose. We may have an extremely well trained military but what we lack is the enemy's fanatical devotion to religious extremism and a complete lack of any concern for personal wellbeing, that is the suicidal impulse. You don't deal with this kind of enemy with a sledgehammer, you need to be clever about preventing their spreading, stopping their organizations ranks from growing. This is an enemy I sadly feel the west simply doesn't fully understand and because of this we don't have the best approach to dealing with them. These people have little hope and such psychological states lead to out-of-the-box thinking, can ultimately justify suicide bombings and the murder of innocent people in their mindset's methodology. Of course that's quite insane but this is how they can come to such an extreme conclusion. Poverty, hopelessness, and a sense of the west encroaching upon their traditions can have that effect on a people. I'm certainly not justifying their actions but we need to understand why they do and stop the impulse for these people to even enter such a dark place.

Much of these realities and concerns are what motivates my drive to create stories dealing with the extremes of human drama and experience, my need to cathardicly address it. All one can do is live without fear and move forward. Yes we're in a VERY dangerous world right now but as Jeff pointed out we should NEVER give up our freedoms in exchange for the illusion of securities that can't be fully realized as promised by politicians capitalizing on understandable fears of a worried populace looking for someone to keep a metaphorical nightlight on to scare the boogymen away. Vigilance and thoroughness are no question desperately needed in order to prevent these terrible people from succeeding with these kind of attacks but our freedom should not vanish in the face of this. I don't trivialize the danger that these extremists pose but I certainly don't embrace a creeping police state, here, England, or anywhere in the world in order to "prevent" these attacks. This isn't the solution, we need to understand why this is happening and stop fanning the flames the are already spreading wildy. I continue to hope for a future where this isn't a looming specter over hanging over us all. Again my heart goes out to the victims and their families in London today. Not a good morning.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Image art for the 2042 Detroit project

As promised, here's a peek at some art for this continuing project set in a future Detroit. Planned as a 26 episode animated TV series pitch this show will be the first part of an overall arc of connected stories about humanity throughout crucial points of history to come. This show s set in the same universe as Theos Ke Polemos only it takes place some thousands of years prior and unfolds in the early stages of a pivotal event that shapes the future that will become Theos Ke Polemos. It's about the human element, the ground level view of these major events from the perspective of everyday people and some extraordinary people as they navigate the fantastic times they are living in. There will be a great deal of art to come from this and Theos in the future as we toil away developing it all. For now here's a peek. Expect some news on developments with EBEJEEBIES very soon as well. Till next time folks.

An image art piece in the early color flats stage. The character Vox Kali, based on the fab and fine Gina Stevens. She's readying and industrial can of escrima whupass. Posted by Picasa

Here's an image art piece of The Savage Savage, a character who was a looney hitman Tim created some years back. Now its an unhinged looney synthetic hitman actually based on Tim. Here he's sportin' a bigass Colt Python 357 magnum, old school. Posted by Picasa