Hrmph.  I’ve been reading FABLES non-stop for the last several days, and quite frankly… I’ve been kinda disappointed with it for darn near a hundred issues so far.

I keep reading it, of course, hoping it’ll get better, but… I mean, the first few issues were GREAT.  Still love them.  But for whatever reason it seems like the author(s?) got stuck on so many different story arcs happening simultaneously that there’s little to no unification between them anymore.  There’s no longer even a main character–Bigby himself has taken a backseat for over a hundred issues, and it doesn’t look like he’s gonna be in the spotlight again any time soon.  His character has all but withered away at this point–he’s still got the same personality, I think, but he’s so seldom seen anymore that he might as well not even be there.

Which SUCKS, because he’s got such great character potential.  We see it in The Wolf Among Us, used to the highest degree.

And I’m the biggest advocate there is for fleshing out characters within their own worlds and making sure the audience gets enough of each character so that they don’t focus TOO strongly on only ONE.  But at the same time, with as many characters as there are in FABLES, an author needs to be pretty choosy and careful about who gets how much development for the real balance.  If it gets to the point where the minor characters and side characters are getting more development than the “main character,” then there is no longer a main character, and the story unravels pretty quickly.  There’s no longer any balance at all.  WIth stories that involve a large number of characters, the role of the few main characters needs to be weighty enough to balance out the sheer AMOUNT of side characters who have their own roles.  Add too much weight to the larger volume, and the scales tip WAY out of balance.

I’m currently on issue 119.  As of now, there are three or four different story arcs happening at the same time.  Bigby, our supposed main character, has only a tangential role in one of them.  If you ask me, that’s a problem, especially since he wasn’t given much time in the beginning of the comics to truly develop as a character.  He showed up every now and then to save the day, but only a few times, and after a while even that role was stolen from him.  Now he’s just kind of a plot device that’s used very occasionally in support to the other characters, who have COMPLETELY taken the story over from his lead.

Kinda stinks.

Hopefully things change in the next few issues.  I’m going to read the series through to issue #150, because apparently that’s the last one.  But regardless of my decision to follow it through, I’ve become pretty darn bored with it.

I want the second season of The Wolf Among Us instead.

anonymous asked:

You've mentioned you prefer Sonic to not have an explained backstory, do you think the same goes for Eggman?

On principal I want to say yes, but really, it’s hard to say. I suppose it depends on what you want out of your villain. Giving a backstory to a villain usually makes them sympathetic, because you usually learn why they became villains.

Sometimes that works out. Syndrome from The Incredibles, for instance, is jealous of the power granted to Super Heroes, and gets angry for being treated as lesser by them. It’s great that we learn that, and it provides a depth and a reason to his character.

But characters like Eggman are not always served by being sympathetic. They’re cartoon characters. Sylvester the Cat always wants to eat Tweetie, because that’s his nature. He’s a cat. That’s all we need to know. 

Dr. Eggman is almost a strawman for science vs. nature. He’s a mad scientist who of course doesn’t respect the boundaries of anything. Despite having seemingly limitless power to do just about anything, he uses this power for selfish reasons, and mainly just to acquire even more power.

That’s probably good enough, especially if Sonic plotlines continue to be as simple as they have been. We don’t need to know about his troubled family background. He’s a selfish, spoiled brat, in the body of a grown adult man with an amazing intellect.

Plus, there are a lot of signs that early Sonic stuff was actually influenced by classic cartoons, so it makes a little bit of sense that there’d be a hint of “he was always like this.” Sonic is Bugs Bunny and Eggman is Elmer Fudd. Done.


Everytime I see one like this I think, How can CGI and Game trailers get any better, and every so often one just comes along and takes it to a new level.  

I just realized something. In this shot from “Price of Gold” (season 1), you can see Jen’s black lace bra through the sheer red blouse. Notice, you can see her circle necklace through the blouse at the neckline, too. 

They were really all about showing off Emma’s body in this early first season, geez. First, the underwear shot in the second ep, then this, and the shot where she’s taking off a top in the laundry when it’s been soiled. 

These are like the “hunk shots” in all early scenes of romance films.

“See how hot our star is? Now watch them get the girl as they go through all this emotional wringer stuff constantly crossing paths with her.”

The only “girl” Emma constantly interacts with is… wait for it.


What Etgar Keret Learned From His Father About Storytelling And Survival

Keret has written a new collection of personal essays, The Seven Good Years, about the time between his son’s birth and his father’s death. His father was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 83 and died not long after. As a teenager he survived the Holocaust by living in a hole for nearly two years with his parents. Keret’s mother is a holocaust survivor, too.

On his father’s unusual bedtime stories:

“My father was very charismatic and a very good storyteller but he couldn’t invent anything so he would tell me stories about things that had just happened. And these stories would be amazing and there was sometimes violence in them, many extreme things, but at the same time, they were full of love for mankind and even the people who would do those extreme things, you would still understand them and like them. The protagonist in those stories, they would always be prostitutes and mafia guys and drunk people.

As a five year old I ask my father, “What’s a prostitute?” He said to me, “A prostitute is somebody who makes a living by listening to other people’s problems.” I ask him, “What’s a mafia guy?” He says, “A mafia guy is like a landlord but he collects money from houses that he doesn’t own.” And I asked him “What’s a drunk person?” He said, “It’s somebody who has a physical condition that the more liquids he drinks, the happier he becomes,” and at that stage I couldn’t really decide if when I grow up I want to become a drunk prostitute or a drunk mafia guy, but those options seemed very attractive.

When I became 10 or 11 I understood that something was really wrong about the stories that my father had told me and I kind of confronted him about it and my father apologetically said to me, “Listen, when I wanted to tell you stories my first instinct would be to tell you stories kind of from my childhood, but what kind of stories would I tell you? How the Nazis caught my kid sister and tortured her to death but she would still not tell where I was hiding? Or how we spent more than 600 days in a hole in the ground being afraid that we would be discovered and killed?” …

Those stories, for me, were always the model for the function of stories and storytelling in our lives — the idea is that you kind of look reality straight in the face, it doesn’t matter how ugly it is, and you try to find humanity in it, you try to beauty in it, you try to find hope in it. So you can’t beautify it, but at the same time, you should find these tiny things that you know that would make sometimes very violent and unhappy occasions still human and emotional.”

Photo: Etgar Keret in the tiniest house in Warsaw, Poland

‘abandoned mine’ - new painting from my 1920+ series and Scythe game, another illustrations for the 'encounter cards’ this time with Günter and his dire wolves Nacht & Tag. Hope you like it.

If you would like to learn more about the game, or track the work progress, I think this is the best place:

Thoughts on Pixar’s Inside Out (major spoilers)

Inside Out is not only a well-conceived, executed, engaging and entertaining movie, but it’s an extremely important one as well. The simple plot line that happens to Riley, her identity as your typical white middle-class Midwestern American with very little in the way of “real” problems is immediately vital to the meta-narrative and meta-theme. In our culture, we have very little in the way of emotional language. We live in a society that insists on the positive; the pursuit of happiness is tantamount. We encourage and endorse Joy and Joy alone. To focus on the negative, to be driven by any emotion but happiness, or even experience those emotions is regarded as anomalous. To feel sad, much less express feelings of sadness, yields accusations of the sin of whining, being a downer, of needlessly moping, having a bad attitude, or mocked for being “emo”. I’ve seen it everywhere in daily life, to all forms of social media. It shows up all over our culture. We have seminars on the power of positive thinking, there’s a best-selling book called The Secret, which is all about affirmation through wishful and positive thinking, nudging out the negative because it obviously does no good to sit around moping. We reject people who bring up obvious social issues because they challenge the idea that everything is fine and you can just find happiness if you just try hard enough, and anything bad in anybody’s lives is usually their own damn fault and they should just shut up about it. Our media is often seized by happy endings against all odds, no matter how illogical, thematically inappropriate, or outright stupid it is to shoehorn one in. We see an aversion to consequence in stories because it won’t be happy. We don’t allow ourselves to feel sad, and we shun those that do. What Inside Out does is boldly proclaim the affirmation, validity, and necessity of Sadness.

The theme here is that sadness is not a malfunction of the mind.

Docter chooses your white-bread WASP-y family for great effect. Riley grew up in a stable home with loving family. She had an active, well-rounded middle-class childhood. Her greatest challenge in the movie is moving to a new city, having her possessions temporarily misplaced, her parents being stressed about money, and broccoli on pizza. She isn’t bullied or suffer from neurosis or psychosis. She isn’t abused or neglected. She’s not unhealthy in mind, body or spirit. To put in a tumblr-esque fashion, she’s privileged as hell. Why did Pixar choose such an overplayed demographic for their protagonist? To show that even if you have nothing to complain about, no “real” problems, your emotions are real, you can have inner turmoil, and you can become imbalanced even with minor, seemingly irrelevant stressors upsetting your equilibrium. It shows that perhaps a completely happy life isn’t as rich or rounded as we are led to believe by society at large.

This premise of Joy-Only, Joy-at-all-times is initially depicted as positive. Joy calls the shots, keeps the others carefully reigned in, and looks around at the overwhelmingly monochromatic memory, and is satisfied. And many people in our culture will relate to this state as desirable and natural. Being happy is awesome! That’s what you want, right? That’s what your family wants, your school wants, what the media wants. That’s the goal to strive for, even if you can’t achieve it right now. If you don’t feel happy, something is wrong. Think about it, if you see someone who’s experiencing any other emotion except happiness, our first question or assumption is “What’s wrong?” or “There has to be something wrong”. So the stage is set that this story is your normal “Be Happy” flick. The other emotions are supposed to take a backseat to a single one, right? Joy, running the show, doesn’t even know what Sadness does. What’s it for? And people in the audience, from children to adults, may actually relate to that thought. Sadness sucks! I wanna be happy all the time!

It’s important to demonstrate at this point that everything that happens within Riley’s mind should be thought of as figurative, framed with the motif of crisis. When something bad happens, it’s illustrated to us in the most dramatic, cataclysmic way possible, to not only drive the narrative, but to engage on an emotional level similar to the way Riley is feeling at that moment. After all, the various parts of Riley’s mind are all part of Riley. From the five emotions to the scrub workers sucking up obsolete memories into the Memory Dump, it’s all her. Joy, I need to point out, is the dominant emotion, and the largest part of Riley’s conscious mind. The journey she goes on is an expression of Riley’s own inner workings. When Joy pushes Sadness away from the console in the beginning, that’s Riley pushing part of Riley away. It’s small, but it’s telling. When Sadness feels the need to touch memories, that’s Riley approaching a more emotional complexity as she ages. It’s the natural nuance that occurs right around puberty, and just like Sadness not knowing why she’s struck by the urge, so too do children just begin to feel new things, out of the blue, which they may not comprehend.

The cinematic language is meant to paint for us not a natural, detached, mundane occurrence that every child experiences, but in an immediate, intimate way. The fight in HQ is an example of this. It may seem strange and inconsistent that it’s an accident and not a conscious decision for both Joy and Sadness to to be ejected from the Headquarters, but it’s a figurative illustration of a traumatic series of mental dominoes resulting in the psychological dumping of a complex inner conflict, and a large chunk of identity with it. Riley is not a separate entity from the emotions, she is them and they are her. Sadness feels the urge to touch old memories that up until now, have been naught but happy. She’s not sure of the reason, and the rest are equally confused. A memory’s never turned a different color before! Their confusion is Riley’s confusion. Joy freaking out about it is Riley freaking out about it, albeit unconsciously, and rejecting that natural nuance. She’s never felt that way before because she was a small child, existing in only single-emotive states. You feel one thing from one moment to the next, and memories are colored by a single emotion. She’s never felt sad about a happy time before.

The immediate formation of a new core memory, a sad one, is met with panic inside Headquarters. This too is Riley’s panic. It’s illustrated by the two most prominent emotions involved, Joy and Sadness, scrabbling to figure out what to do. Joy is attempting to push Sadness away, before Sadness poisons the core memories. The frenetic scene is cinematically describing to us the chaos and turmoil of Riley’s internal state. Instead of being able to cope with all this, Riley experiences an emotional break. The ejection of J&S from her consciousness into the unconscious part of her mind is exactly that- Riley’s sudden emotional traumatic humiliation of crying on the first day of class while experiencing new depths of emotion makes her mind flush everything that is making her feel this way. All that she’s left with feeling is the trifecta of Anger, Fear and Disgust. Anyone who can remember this time of their life most likely can relate to the feelings of irrationality and sullenness. You’re confused, and use what tools you have left to react to the world. Disgust manifests as sarcasm when it masquerades as happiness. Anxiety happens when Fear attempts to take over the reigns inappropriately. Instead of anger being used appropriately, outbursts happen suddenly and without warning.

We’re led by the movie to believe that Sadness was polluting the memories for no real reason, and that she was ejected with Joy by accident. Sadness was supposed to stay in her little circle, away from the console. This was Riley deciding feeling sadness was unacceptable, in order to please her mother. But she’s experiencing things that are sad, which she refuses to. Sadness begin to intermingle and collide in her mind in ways she can’t cope with, so she flushes it all. She’s rejects the core memories, because they are defined by happiness but in danger of becoming sad, and as such rejected Joy as well. Because she’s rejected Joy, she’s rejecting the vast majority of what’s defined her life. This causes the facets of her personality to crumble one after another. Again, we are led to believe this is a catastrophic event, because of the need for emotional intensity and intimacy with Riley (and by extension the parts of her - Joy and Company). During this time of life, this happens naturally. Old parts that define you may become obsolete, and you can go through a phase where you feel like nothing defines you or matters. In Riley’s case, due to her emotionally simple childhood, and sudden traumatic events piled on top of a lot of new emotions brought on by the advent of puberty, is way more severe than normal.

Part of Riley’s consciousness is pushed at this point into the archetypical labyrinth. Joy attempts to use Sadness to find the way home, but in her impatience, she demands an easier way. She then finds Bing Bong wandering the archives, stealing memories so they won’t be forgotten. He represents pure childhood and a rejection of the steady march towards maturity. Instead of following the reliable way home that Sadness knows, she instead chooses the easier way of following Bing Bong, back into into abstract thought, imagination, dreams, and the subconscious.  This was supposed to be a shortcut, but its not, it’s a regression, and a distraction. It’s beset by dangers, trials and nightmares, but Bing Bong has no true answers. We see glimpses at this point that Sadness is the key to getting home. She comforts Bing Bong, their guide, where Joy is ineffective. Bing Bong finally gets them on the train of thought, but that is not the way back to sanity. The three are again rejected back the unconscious mind. In her desperation to ensure that Riley is only happy, manifest as the girl’s insistence on clinging to a past without Sadness, Joy literally attempts to throw away Sadness. Back at Headquarters, we see that Riley is further making the decision to chase her childhood. Her mind has rejected all Joy and Sadness, and remember, the memories with it. She knows that she doesn’t feel happy anymore, and she’s confused and feels lacking. She makes the irrational, unbalanced decision to return home to make more. Her entire psyche, figuratively painted by these colorful little sprites, is all working on the same idea.

Then she falls, with the avatar of childhood into the Abyss. The Belly of the Beast. Riley is in danger of almost completely forgetting what Joy feels like. She hits rock bottom, in a literal pit of despair and darkness where there are no feelings or dreams or thoughts. Just crumbling memories of happier times. The console in her consciousness begins to reject any emotional reaction as she loses the last anchor of her personality, completely fleeing her future in both literal and psychological terms. Only when Riley lets go of childhood and embraces Sadness (literally in the case of Joy taking hold of Sadness in her ascent), does she have the ability to undo her devastating decision and cope with the losses of the past. Then we see that Sadness was the key. She is the coping mechanism with which to deal with trauma. Riley has never had to use many emotions besides Joy in her life, and the dogpile of trauma, along with her rejection of the way to cope with loss.

This is the biggest, most important message we can give young people these days. There are children and adults out there right now that are watching this movie, and it’s telling them that to lament is human. That to neglect part of their emotions is the way to despair. To cry is not weakness, to feel down is not wrong. That you are not alone, if this girl who doesn’t have “real” problems can go through an emotional crisis. I’ve actually read several reviews and posts around the web, from authors of all ages, that this movie means something to them. That it’s normal to not feel happy all the time. That it’s okay to feel with all your emotions. While some feel like not much happens in this movie, that there’s no arc going on, please remember that all the internal characters are Riley. Joy, who is part of Riley and the dominant portion of her conscious psyche, learns the value of Sadness, who also learns the value of herself. This is straight up Riley finding value in all portions of herself.

Most character arcs deal with overcoming obstacles that keep them from being happy. The villain is introducing sad circumstances, and since feeling sad in our culture is usually regarded as a dysfunction, or rather, a simple lack of happiness, the protagonist triumphs upon returning to a happy state. Here, we see a more nuanced, amazing movie that tells people of all ages that the ability to overcome clinging to happiness in order to feel a wide range of complex emotions is part of being a fully realized adult. Happiness is not the ultimate goal of a well-rounded life. Give your full range of emotions outlets, lest they get the best of you and make you crumble from within.

As an aside: a nice symbol is the fact that Bing Bong knocks down a house of cards in Imagination Land. Other stuff in Riley’s imagination are childish things, whereas cards are a distinctly more mature tool for play. Bing Bong and Joy, as a manifestation of Riley’s clinging to her childhood, prevents the building of more adult mental structures.

I think every writer stands in the doorway of their prison. Half in, half out. The very act of storytelling is a return to the prison of what torments us and keeps us captive, and writers are repeat offenders. You go through this whole journey with your prison, revisiting it in your mind. Hopefully, you get to a point when you realize there was beauty in your prison, too.
—  Sherman Alexie, for the By Heart series in The Atlantic
Literature was not born the day when a boy crying wolf, wolf came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels: literature was born on the day when a boy came crying wolf, wolf and there was no wolf behind him.
—  Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature

Inside Out 

I liked it, and I think most people would agree that it’s a return to form for Pixar, but I would also say it’s probably more for parents — I saw it in a room full of little kids, and they got a little restless during the 3rd half (which is when the emotion cranks up). 

NPR points out that it’s a rare tale that doesn’t have a villain

Within this literally cerebral tale, there are clowns, vacuum hoses, glassy globes, a unicorn, a being that cries candy out of his eyes, and a literal Train Of Thought. But there’s no intruder. Nothing in Riley’s mind is ultimately tagged as not belonging or not wanted, because nothing in her mind can be separated from who she is. She is made up of the same things that cause her sadness, fright and disgust — those little emotions are her and she is them. There’s nothing to defeat; if anything, what Riley is fighting against is the impulse to exile the feelings that embarrass her.

Director Pete Docter (a Minnesota native, btw) on the film’s origins

This film was inspired by watching my daughter, who was about 11 at the time we started. She’s 16 now. If you saw Up, she was the voice of young Ellie at the beginning of the film. She was kind of like that character, where she was really spunky and full of energy and opinions and things. Then she got a little older and she became kind of more quiet and she changed. And I realized: I remember going through that in my own life. That’s a difficult time for most people. Maybe this film can explore why that happens, what’s going on in our heads, you know?

As always, the Alamo Drafthouse had a great clip reel playing beforehand, which included this World War 2 propaganda film from Disney called Reason and Emotion:

That includes a super-freaky Hitler: 

Filed under: my watching year 2015