art is our weapon

Book cover illustration from Le indagini di Hercule Poirot (2016), an Italian childrens edition of Poirot’s cases
Artist: F. Visintin


(Full transcript)
Hello Heroes!
Who knows the Lord of the Rings? Yeah. Who knows the sword that cut the Ring…?
This is not that sword.

So, the first time anyone picks up an actual real steel sword, the look in their eyes, from small children to old ladies- there’s a certain magic about that moment.

These are the words of my friend Fran Terminiello. She’s a sword fighter in the UK. And like so many of us, she’s passionate about Historical European Martial Arts. Who knows that word? Yeah? A few of you?

Historical European Martial Arts are the martial arts of medieval Europe. Yes, they existed. They were very complicated, very beautiful, just as like the Asian martial arts are. And, unfortunately, they died out, which is why most of us don’t actually know about them these days. But for those of us who are completely crazy about swords, we have been recreating the arts from fighting manuals- books that were left from the people who actually studied in those ancient times.

And they were very good about leaving us lots of information. Not all the information that we needed, but just enough. So using our understanding of martial arts and working with the actual weapons, we’ve been able to recreate these arts. But when I was very young I didn’t know that they existed.

I was crazy about swords, from probably about this big. And I was introduced to swords the way most of us are, through the movies. I was a very small child and I saw Robin Hood, and Peter Pan, and all those squashbuckling kind of movies, which introduced me to heroism. And when I was four years old, my mum actually made me my first sword.

It wasn’t a beautiful steel sword- and I don’t think I would have known what to do with it anyway- it was a wooden sword, and it was small, and it was white, and my mum painted it, she put it out to dry…. and the next day, we came home to find that our home had been burnt to the ground.

I was four years old.

So I lived in Australia, and these things happen. Unfortunately fires- bushfires- are a really big part of that country, because it’s such a dry environment, and people really- you know, to live there, you’ve really got to be aware of your environment. And unfortunately, you know, when we came home and our home was burnt down it wasn’t that unusual.

There was a question that maybe it was bush rats. Now, I love rats, as you know, so I don’t hold it against them if it were.
My mum also loved animals, and the thing is… I didn’t live in a normal house. I lived on a campsite. My mum had actually bought a campsite from the YMCA, and so when I say that, ‘our home burnt down’, it was actually my mum’s apartment and the main barn, and my little cabin was fine. My little cabin with its four-year-old treasures.

But my mum unfortunately lost everything that day. And to anyone who’s experienced losing everything, it’s quite devastating. Especially the animals, so all of my mum’s animals were killed, except for her horse, and I was fine.

So they said it was possibly bush rats, but there was a question maybe, possibly, the electrical heater had been left on, and I might have left my dressing gown on it.

Now I can tell you this, if you have a small child in your life, don’t ever, ever, let them think something like that is their fault. My mum didn’t, but the question was there. So you can imagine growing up with that kind of question mark in your mind, it just- it can create so much guilt. So much responsibility for someone so young.

And my mum was a professional psychologist, which meant that I got really good at 'being fine’. You know? (laughs) I learnt how to get on with things and I also convinced myself that I was fine, for a really long time.

And I was anyway a really strange kid. I was one of those kids that… (whispers knowingly) they’re kind of weird. You don’t really know how to talk to them… (normal voice) …because they’re always doing something weird like… turning… the… rubbish pile into a dragon…. or something, you know, just one of those weird kids that’s always in their own little world.

And that, honestly, was how I dealt with my reality, was by creating fantasy worlds. I was extremely creative; I was very artistic, you know, I had stories that I was building all the time, and that was how I dealt with things. I was really escaping. And that’s such a good coping strategy for a while. And if you are a creative person, it’s a wonderful way to turn trauma into something that you can use to understand your world.

I have to turn my page, excuse me.
Do you also know the TV series, the Dollhouse? Does anyone know it? The director is Joss Whedon, who’s also known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Avengers…. That guy.

So he created this great TV series called, 'the Dollhouse’. And there’s this great quote from it that goes, “When you see someone running incredibly fast, you have to ask yourself, are they running from something, or are they running to something?” And the quote continues, “the answer is always both. Achievement is always balanced by fault, by a lack. You see someone that’s a high achiever, and they’re overcompensating.”

Now I don’t completely think that everyone who achieves is overcompensating- I just think it’s the majority of us.

So that quote really rings true for me, because I spent most of my life trying to run basically, from what had happened. Trying to pretend to be okay. But the thing that really cut through my fantasy- you know, the adventure and heroism of my fantasy worlds- was the sword. Because everyone can relate to a sword, right?

I mean, it’s at the centre of all our mythology, it’s this, epic kind of heroic symbol, and it’s something that’s attached to a very real martial arts form.
So when found out that actually European Martial Arts existed, I was still very much a fantasy-loving geek who was into 'Lord of the Rings’, and just wanted to be dressing up all the time, but I also wanted to learn everything I could about this beautiful weapon.

So I did.

And something interesting happened. Because the thing about martial arts, is it forces you to move. It forces you to be present, in your body. So even though the sword was my tool, I realised something really interesting- I was the sword. The sword was me.

And- I think that having a weapons-based martial art is a great way to get people to learn to fight because you can focus outside of your body, but eventually you have to be able to bring it back into yourself. You have to be able to read a situation, you have to be sensing the amount of force that’s in something.

What you don’t usually see in the movies is pressure. When swords bind like this, they’re pushing on each other. The amount of force- if I push too hard, it’s going to leave this one moving. So in movies, you see a lot of this. That kind of thing, right? Looks really familiar.

Rah! I’m going to smash you, I’m going to smash you, I’m going to smash you…!
Actually, you don’t want to do that in a real fight, because the moment you step away- dead. So you want to control the other person in a fight, you want to use the sword to move. You’re moving them, and you’re moving yourself as well.

And the thing about a sword fight, is that when you’re too close to use a sword, you’re going to use your body. You’re going to use the sword in unusual ways. It’s a weapon. You can use any side of it.

You can use the pommel, you can use the hilt. It’s this wonderful versatile thing, and there’s a reason it was so popular for thousands of years.

So learning all this really taught me how to be present. Which was something that a person growing up and surviving trauma has trouble learning. It’s like a disconnect that’s there to keep you safe. You know?

If you’ve lived through trauma, and you’re reliving that trauma every day, it can disable you. So you have to disconnect because that’s your survival.

But you also have to move on because the fear will eat you alive. And the thing that is very real for me is fear. I always am afraid. It’s like the Hulk, you know? (deep voice) “I’m always angry- that’s my secret. I’m Bruce Banner.”
(normal voice) I am always afraid. But you know, being always afraid means you have an opportunity to always be brave. Because if you’re not afraid of something, and you don’t have that fear in place, you never really know what it is you need to overcome.

I’ve learnt that fear is like a guide. If I’m afraid of doing something it means it’s very important. And I can avoid it… (laughs) I’m very good at avoiding things- but I have learnt that if I do that for too long it stunts me. I’m going to be unhappy. So I’ve learnt to embrace challenge.

Now- it doesn’t mean I’ve got it completely right, but I’ve started a conversation with my fear that I find very useful. So instead of thinking of fear as this thing that is like this overwhelming black darkness that’s going to eat you alive and it’s a demon around every corner, no- not at all.

See my fear is actually a very small child. Or at least, this is how I think of it. It’s more than one child, it’s a small me that’s been hurt throughout my life. All that pain, all that fear- it’s become a little person. So it’s like a group of little people who are really scared.

And if I try and ignore my fear … well, it’s like a kid, you know? They’re going to feel hurt, and they’re going to be more and more insistant on wanting to understand the thing that they’re afraid of, or trying to get your attention, like, “Oh no, don’t do that thing! I know it’s going to be bad, I know it’s going to be bad! I know it’s going to be bad!”

And it will get stronger, and stronger, and stronger the more you push it away. So you can’t do that. Or I can’t, anyway.
I’ve had to change my tactics. It’s like dealing with a hydra, you know, you push one away and another head just comes up.

So instead, I have to take the little kids, all those little fears, and I have to look at the thing that they’re afraid of. And I have to go, “Okay. I see that thing. I see what it is. I understand that there’s a risk there. How can we deal with this risk?”

So you have to actually look at the thing you’re afraid of and do it anyway. But you have to do it in a way that acknowledges that you’re afraid.

So since I changed that conversation with myself, the story around my fear, its really helped. Because it means that I can see myself as a hero overcoming things, but instead of making my fear the monster, I see the challenge as the monster. The challenge of the thing.

You know, if you ever go out into the mountains- think of Lord of the Rings, okay, trekking across Middle Earth… so many mountains, so many unknown places…. The fear is going to that place, because you don’t know what’s going to be there. You could get hurt. You could lose everything. And in Lord of the Rings they do have a great deal of loss. But they keep going, even though they’re afraid. And being able to frame your life as a story, having that narrative, it’s a powerful tool for courage.

I need to change my page again, excuse me.

So the thing is, if I’m afraid, and I can overcome it, I know you can too. You have to make a decision, every single day. You have to decide, am I going to follow the thing I love, which gives me strength, gives me confidence, or am I going to hide and let that thing, that thing that I can’t quite look at or deal with, am I going to let that rule my life?

And it’s a decision, guys. It’s a decision to be a hero. And I promise you, once you create a practice of being a hero, one day, you’ll wake up, and you will be that person.
Thank you.

We are a generation told not to try too hard. The world is going to crap so why break a sweat? We are reminded daily not to trust our gut or follow our hearts, your dreams are unattainable and unrealistic. Fear is the eternal enemy. If they can keep you scared, they can keep you controlled. We are here as a reminder that the world is not better off without you. These are dangerous days that we live in, and you, the artists are our best defense. Art is the weapon. Your imagination is the ammunition. Stay dirty and stay dangerous. Create and destroy as you see fit. Embrace your originality; the aftermath is secondary. You can and should do anything. Love what you do and who you truly are.
—  Frank Iero

[E3 Ambassador Blog] Evolving an Icon: Lara Croft 2.0

Author: Marco - Allgame: Tomb Raider, Italy

Lara Croft is one of the most famous and enduring characters of the video game industry. With her iconic beauty and her bright personality, the acclaimed archaeologist has been living in our computers and consoles for almost 20 years. As time passed, we witnessed a multifaceted evolution of Lara Croft’s character and model, not only from a narrative point of view, but also from a technical perspective.

Indeed, the technology behind her character dramatically changed, first from edges to curves, then from curves to fine details. With improved technology, even the smallest details can make a large difference, and technology has come to play a key role in the entire creative process. This is certainly the case with Rise of the Tomb Raider.

After the series was rebooted in 2011, Lara’s model was re-designed according to her new storyline. Even when maintaining the iconic traits of her classic model, Lara needed to have a younger and inexperienced look - her skills yet to be fully mastered and her story yet to begin.  

Starting from an enhanced game engine used in Crystal’s Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld trilogy, Lara was about to face untested waters. Just like the heroine she is, she has taken this new adventure and conquered it. The reboot was just the beginning. Lara realized she is a survivor and has accepted that the world is much more than what she can see. She lost her friends, and a part of herself as well. On the island, she said farewell to the naive academic student she used to be.

                                 Image created by Rayna Ryukuro

In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara is on the cusp of a new adventure. Carrying with her the scars which marked her physically and mentally, she sets out to understand the secrets of immortality. Her personality grows stronger, but her love for archaeology and esotericism is still unchanged.

Conveying the changes that Lara has undergone is a great challenge for the development team. Lara’s personality has evolved, and her physical appearance needs to reflect this. The character design team at Crystal Dynamics has set out with a singular goal: making Lara a believable and relatable character by showing her humanity and emotions through the use of sophisticated technology.

Thanks to Crystal Dynamics and Xbox, I had the chance to attend E3 2015 in Los Angeles. I also had the opportunity to meet many of the talented developers from Crystal Dynamics and Microsoft, and interview Brian Horton, Game Director on Rise of the Tomb Raider. I asked him some questions about the technology behind Lara Croft’s design, focusing on her evolution as a character throughout the story. You can find the interview in full below.

Keep reading

This is a message to all parents, or any other MCR hater out there who has said this. This makes me pretty mad for many reasons.

If you would listen with your ears and not your eyes you would realise that this is far from the truth. Whenever i’m feeling bad about myself I actually listen to MCR to make me feel better. If anything MCR saves people from this.

If you gave them a chance instead of straight out judging them from their tattoos, black clothing, and dyed hair, you’d hear inspirational lyrics. Here are just a few examples.

  • “I’m the kind of human wreckage that you love.”
  • “Ain’t nobody gonna get the best of me.”
  • “I won’t explain or say I’m sorry. I’m unashamed, I’m gonna show my scar, give a cheer.”
  • “I’m who I’ve got to be.”
  • “So go on, live your life.”
  • “Sing it from the heart.”
  • “Sing it like the kids that are mean to you.”
  • “Stand up fucking tall, don’t let them see your back.”
  • “Don’t believe what they say.”
  • “Raise your voice every single time they try and shut your mouth.”
  • “Sing it out for the ones that’ll hate your guts.”
  • “Take a look at me, ‘cause I cannot care at all.”
  • “The aftermath is secondary.”
  • “Well, I choose the life I’m taking, never mind the friends I’m making.”
  • “We don’t care about the message or the rules they make.”
  • “You’re not in this alone.”
  • “All the broken, listen here, because it’s who we are.”
  • “Someone out there loves you after all.”
  • “We are young and we don’t care.”
  • “You’re never all alone.”
  • “If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, you can find out firsthand what it’s like to be me.”
  • “Take my fucking hand and never be afraid again.”
  • “This ain’t a room full of suicides. We’re believers.”
  • “We are the kids from yesterday.“
  • “Do or die, you’ll never make me, because the world will never take my heart. Go and try; you’ll never break me.”
  • “Ain’t nobody gonna take my life.”
  • “On and on we carry through the fears, and disappointed faces of your peers.”
  • “We can live forever if you’ve got the time.”
  • “Hold on tight and don’t look back.”
  • “Keep running.”
  • “This hole you put me in wasn’t deep enough and I’m climbing out right now.”
  • “You’ll never take me alive, you’ll never get me alive. Do what it takes to survive and I’m still here.”
  • “And through it all, we’ll find some other way to carry on.”
  • “The future is bulletproof.”
  • “I’ve got a bulletproof heart.”
  • “We all carry on, when our brother in arms are gone.”
  • “I am not afraid to keep on living. I am not afraid to walk this world alone.”
  • “If we can’t find where we belong, we’ll have to make it on our own, face all the pain and take it on.”

And some quotes from the Gerard, Frank, Mikey, and Ray themselves.

"Hey, girls, you’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. You’re good enough, you are too good. Love your family with all your heart and listen to it. You are gorgeous. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, as long as you’re a good person, as long as you respect others. I know it’s been told hundreds of times before, but it’s true.”
-Gerard Way

“If for one minute you think you’re better than a sixteen year old girl in a Green Day t-shirt, you are sorely mistaken. Remember the first time you went to a show and saw your favorite band. You wore their shirt, and sang every word. You didn’t know anything about scene politics, haircuts, or what was cool. All you knew was that this music made you feel different from anyone you shared a locker with. Someone finally understood you. This is what music is about.”
-Gerard Way

“Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.”
-Gerard Way

“Be yourself, don’t take anyone’s crap, and never let them take you alive.”
-Gerard Way

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”
-Gerard Way

“Nothing is worth hurting yourself over. Nothing is worth taking your life over. Suicide is a serious thing. And if you know anyone who is suicidal, you need to get them help. No one should be in pain. Everyone should love themselves. Like I love you all.”
-Gerard Way

“Never forget how beautiful you are.”
-Gerard Way

“No matter how ugly the world gets or how stupid it shows me it is, I always have faith.”
-Gerard Way

“Oh how wrong we were to think immortality meant never dying.”
-Gerard Way

“There are really so many people trying to get control over you on a daily basis and steal your soul in some way, take a part of you…”
-Gerard Way

“In those perfect moments you find beauty you never knew existed. You find yourself and you friends all over again, you find something to fight for, something to love. Something to show the world.”
-Gerard Way

“I’ve gotta see the world. I’ve gotta make a difference.”
-Gerard Way

“It erases everything I hate about myself. Nothing can hurt me. I feel completely invincible. I feel like we’re capable of anything. There’s no stopping us.”
-Gerard Way

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
-Gerard Way

“Tears are words the heart can’t express.”
-Gerard Way

“I feel like there’s so many people out there who have the kids in the palm of their hand listening, but there are so few people saying something.”
-Gerard Way

“Even if you stop believing in us, we’ll never stop believing in you.”
-Gerard Way

“There was a moment in my life when I really wanted to kill myself. And there was one other moment when I was close to that. But even in my most jaded times, I had some hope.”
-Gerard Way

“You should never want to hurt yourself. You should love yourself. Sometimes you have to kind of die inside in order to rise from your own ashes and believe in yourself and love yourself to become a new person. We are all becoming what we want to become.”
-Gerard Way

“All your quirks, all your problems, even your depressions and failures, that’s what makes you, you.”
-Gerard Way

“You are better than that.”
-Gerard Way

“We’re just as screwed up as you.”
-Gerard Way

“All we ever wanna do is inspire somebody to be who they wanna be and to give them a little bit of hope.”
-Gerard Way

“Human nature at times is unfortunately very ugly and I learned the world can be a very ugly place. For as much beauty there is, there’s just as much brutality and violence and ugliness.”
-Gerard Way

“I learned to see beauty in everything and ugliness in everything. I developed a very honest perspective.”
-Gerard Way

“If you’re ever in a dark place, don’t resort to violence. Talk to someone; whether it be a therapist, teacher, parent, or just someone you can trust. We all have our dark places and it’s important that you get help.”
-Gerard Way

“Homophobia is gay.”
-Frank Iero

“If you don’t listen, you’re never gonna learn.”
-Frank Iero

“Just do what you do best.”
-Frank Iero

“I think that we’re here for a reason.”
-Frank Iero

“You’ll never be normal because nobody is normal.”
-Frank Iero

“We embody the power of fighting against adversity.”
-Frank Iero

“We don’t need any more sadness.”
-Frank Iero

“It could be anything, give a homeless guy a sandwich, help an old lady across the street, like anything to make this world a better place. If everybody just did one good thing for another person like a selfless good deed just think about how much a better place this would be.”
-Frank Iero

“We just have to have common decency and respect for our fellow man that’s really what it comes down to, to treat people the way you would want to be treated and to really take care of our world and our scene because if we don’t give a crap about it, nobody else will.”
-Frank Iero

“Knowing that the soapboxes that you stand on hopefully give good advice to kids, maybe that soapbox is paid for by a major corporation that’s maybe doing some terrible things, but maybe you can get up there and change the system from within the system.”
-Frank Iero

“People never cease to amaze us.”
-Frank Iero

“Every time somebody ever told you that you weren’t gonna amount to anything, you know, that’s your time to shine, you know? You can show everybody and prove to yourself what you’re doing is real and that it counts and that it makes a difference.”
-Frank Iero

“We are a generation told not to try too hard. The world is going to crap so why break a sweat? We are reminded daily not to trust our gut or follow our hearts, your dreams are unattainable and unrealistic. Fear is the eternal enemy. If they can keep you scared, they can keep you controlled. We are here as a reminder that the world is not better off without you. There are dangerous days that we live in, and you, the artists are our best defense. Art is the weapon. Your imagination is the ammunition. Stay dirty and stay dangerous. Create and destroy as you see fit. Embrace your originality; the aftermath is secondary. You can and should do anything. Love what you do and who you truly are.”
-Frank Iero

“Sometimes the good guys win.”
-Mikey Way

“Regret is a sign of weakness.”
-Mikey Way

“Don’t do anything to try to fit in.”
-Mikey Way

“Everybody wanted to hate us, but we always had in our mind that we wanted to transcend this. We wanted to change the world.”
-Mikey Way

“It’s great when you can impact someone like that. It’s our mission.”
-Mikey Way

“Everyone wants something real, something that was created to invoke a positive feeling.”
-Mikey Way

“Everybody should be able to listen to the kind of music they want.”
-Ray Toro

“Everybody goes through rough things in their lives, us included. The best advice we can give is to never give up, and always believe in yourself because when you do that, anything is possible.”
-Ray Toro

“I think that the music we create together is one of a kind.”
-Ray Toro

“When you doubt yourself you create something better.”
-Ray Toro

“We had the benefit of time. We felt we couldn’t rush great things, these things needed time. With that time it really allows you to dig deep into yourself and really put out the best that you can be.”
-Ray Toro

“Be creative. Use your voice, your community.”
-Ray Toro

“Always believe in yourself.”
-Ray Toro

“Just put your heart into it.”
-Ray Toro

“Art is doing something you really believe in.”
-Ray Toro

“Be good to your friends.”
-Ray Toro

“Art is the only weapon.”
-Ray Toro

Still sound so bad? I don’t know about you but, compared to lyrics about drugs and sex and girls having “perfect bodies” I’d take the stuff about being good to yourself any day.

we all scream for ice cream

When I was coming up with Starkiller base headcanons for use in fic, it never occurred to me to introduce a Starkiller ice-cream parlour into the mix.

  • The Facilities team are very proud of it.
  • It produces 4000kg of gelato per standard day cycle. 
  • Obviously all process pipelines and valves were fabricated to the very highest standards using the same state of the art orbital welding droids and fabrication rigs as on our actual revolutionary weapon of mass destruction.
  • Ice cream flavour privileges are accorded to rank. Non-commissioned officers may partake of vanilla ice cream only. Lower commissioned ranks  (pale grey uniforms): banana. Middle ranks (teal uniforms): chocolate and caramel. Top brass (charcoal uniforms and stripes): the various pink flavours. 
  • Mixed cones are discouraged as disorderly. Neapolitan is a vile perversion that should only be indulged in behind closed doors. Same goes for black market butterscotch sauce. Don’t even mention amaretto unless you have some and want to give it to General Hux.
  • Further to the above, the event involving two scoops of cherry ripple, a less than entirely dressed Ren and no spoon did NOT happen and NO stormtroopers were sent to reconditioning.