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31 Days to Masculinity: Day 1

Did 31 DtM in October. Let it fall apart about 2/3rds of the way through and I never did the pushups. I tried. On day 1, I did 30 of 100 pushups, which is when my arms gave out. On day 2, they continued to not lift me. On day four or five, I managed some inclined pushups.

Despite failing the program from day 1, it had multiple beneficial effects. I quit soda pop entirely. I did more pushups than I’ve done since I was actively enrolled in a martial arts school three or so years ago. I finished Hat Trick 1. I began filtering my projects based on how vital they were.

I also quit social media for a month. This time ’round, I’m not doing a social media fast because I’m trying to build a media company. But I’m going to limit when and how I’m on social media. Half an hour before 3PM to compose the sweet, sweet content, and half an hour after 3PM to socialize.

So let’s get into the new round of 31DtM:

Continue reading “31 Days to Masculinity: Day 1”

Trojan Mice

Yesterday I read The Trojan Mouse: How Disney is Winning the Culture War by Samuel Lively.

One of my constant contentions is that the serious plays in the culture war are to play the long game by building families and making entertainment. So it seemed this book would be up my alley. And it was and then some. The book traces both the physical and ideological histories of Disney. It is of peculiar interest to me because I grew up during the Disney Rennaisance in a Baptist-adjacent family. So I caught both the Baptist Boycott denunciations of the Mouse, and the average Joe’s apathy to that boycott.

When I analyzed Disney movies for myself at the time (as a teenager, mind you,) my conclusion was that the more wildly occultic and salacious accusations were overblown (which in turn made them easy to dismiss), but the philosophical trends were real. There were no secret pentagrams in the animation, but the Mouse had switched from a default of honoring the parents to a default of undermining them.

To this very day, though, most people will look at me like a crazy person if I tell them I don’t want to take my kid to the latest Disney flick, let alone something so old that present day Social Justice Warriors find it problematic.

The Baptist Boycott didn’t work. Audiences naturally rejected the more explicitly subversive Disney Renaissance flicks organically — Hunchback and Pocahontas did not do comparatively well — but Aladdin and Mermaid did extremely well despite (despite?) having as their core value the idea that horny teens ought to ignore their parents.

To a certain degree, people will choose what is bad for them. Humanity is fallen. But to a certain degree, people will choose the good over the bad. Even the most depraved sugar addict will choose steak and vegetables over a plate of manure. People won’t, in mass and as a rule, choose nothing at all. Audiences favored Toy Story over Pocahontas. Was it because of the shiny new 3D, or because it was more in alignment with core American values? Hard to say. But Aladdin didn’t really have that kind of competition.

I’ve already made some kids’ books, and will continue to do so, but books are seeds of the culture war; the fighting happens on screens, with music and animation and acting and drama. It may be best for me to stay behind the lines planting seeds. It may be best for me to try and charge for the front line and use my animation skills. I don’t know. But in the spirit of putting that conundrum to the test, I’ve begun work on a video game, which is the best route for my skill stack to reach the screens.


Hat Trick 1: the Death of Arthur is the start of a dark Christian scifi/fantasy serial. And it has pictures! Check it out now on Amazon.

… the Sabbath was meant for man…

My JRPG in development currently looks like this:

The purpose of the project for November is to make an ugly prototype. All the focus is to be on the gameplay. If something looks kind of cool, it’s a sign time was spent on the wrong thing.

However, I have an itch to make pretty graphics. And once per week I work on whatever I feel like rather than the project of the month. So here’s how the characters should look in the game I am prototyping:

Maybe next week I’ll add a sword strike. Or maybe next week I’ll paint a backdrop so we can all see how the game is supposed to look.

How to use Alphabeasts

I made a book that’s designed to help teach the alphabet and even basic phonics!

The main idea is just to have a character for each letter that is cool and fun and interesting so that kids memorize the characters for the sheer joy of doing so, just as they memorize the characters on their favorite trading cards.

And toward that end I hope to one day make Alphabeast trading cards and individual books for each Alphabeast where that character has an adventure in a six-minute bedtime story. No attempts to educate. Only to entertain. Just to make each character maximally fun.

But suppose you want to educate. How do you teach your kid the letters using Alphabeasts?

I’ll tell you how

Oxygen

Rawle Nyanzi recently proposed Brand Zero. Namely: don’t promote major media. Don’t talk about them even as negative examples, because doing so promotes them and increases their brand. Nyanzi extends this not just to subversive and disgenic brands like the Mouse, but even brands he likes and respects. From his comments on Brian Niemeier’s blog:

Anime has a lot of mainstream visibility… Big, well-trafficked sites discuss anime, and it is a frequent topic on social media. Those companies need no help getting the word out; if you want to recommend an anime to someone, do so in private conversation…

The flip side of Brand Zero is Oxygen. Do talk about the little artists who can use the exposure.

Jon Del Arroz makes comic books and steampunk. Brian Niemeier does science fantasy horror and, recently, mecha military books that are Gundam meets Battletech. Rawle Nyanzi has released a mecha book with strong Sailor Moon influences and is trying his hand at pixel art animations.

Bradford C. Walker wrote a mecha book that’s Robotech, except instead of Zentraedi you have demons, and instead of the UN you have Medieval Catholics.

The Last Ancestor is about human refugees fighting for survival on a planet of dog men.

Adam Smith has Christian Paladins engaging in fisticuffs with demons in post apocalypse America. And of course, I have a dark magician bunny fighting the Night Mare.

It’s not enough to reduce the big names to Brand Zero. We’ve got to give each other oxygen.

Nanokidmo is cancelled.

My golden rule: from the moment a project is started, it’s locked in, Hell or high water.

My silver rule: until that moment, it’s not.

I’m going to be making a videogame prototype in November. An ugly prototype, though I am capable of non-ugly art. It’s gonna be awesome. I am hereby committing to that project. It is officially as good as done.

And then in December I will probably make Jump the Shark 2. But do remember my silver rule…

Honoring the Muse

One struggle that lies at the heart of art, especially when you are trying to do art for a living, is the battle between art and craft. How much of your work is following the feverish commands of inspiration and how much is buckling down and taking a workmanlike approach?

I announced at a very young age that I wanted to create art. My parents, having the noblest virtues of the Boomers, responded by exposing me to documentaries and biographies of artists and how they accomplished their goals. The upshot was I became very sold on the idea that art is first and foremost craft. That putting in the work is more important than inspiration. That it is persistence, rather than passion, that matters most.

It’s all bunk. You need both. Persistence, discipline, and craft is your strong, dexterous, right hand. Without it, good luck getting anything done. Inspiration, magic, and passion is your playful left hand. Without it, your work has no life.

Good art is hard work by a thoughtful craftsman using his tools judiciously. Good art is also a magical spark, catching lightning in a bottle. If you are a writer, and you believe firmly that art is all about the magic, I suggest you immediately buy and read any book with the word “formula” in the name by Debbie Chester, and write a formula book exactly to her prescription. If you are a writer, and you believe firmly that art is all about the craft, I suggest you immediately buy and read The War of Art, and pray and meditate over it. You will not create your best work unless both hands are present and strong.

My favorite expression of this is the formulation of John C. Wright. “Like any pagan deity, the Muse requires a sacrifice. The offering you give her is words on a page, typed out daily.”