Andy's Art and Whatever

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Interview!

Last month I was asked to do an interview for a website dedicated to comics. I did so, then completely forgot about it. But I just got an e-mail which informed me that the interview is now public! Woo! Check it out!

http://www.jazmaonline.com/interviews/interviews2008.asp?intID=288

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fun Christmas Facts

I thought it would be fun to post some facts about Christmas on Christmas Day. Originally I thought it would be simple things like the origin of the tree and santa and stuff. But the more I read about some of the origins, the more compelling it was. Christmas is infinitely more bizarre than even I could imagine.

Now, some of this might be a bit mean sounding. It’s based on facts, and I tried my best to translate the facts without indulging in social commentary too much. I found them from a variety of sources online, but mostly from a Jewish website. Remember, I’m not hating on Christmas (Read the end of my journal for proof on that). So without further ado, here are some fun Christmas facts that might surprise you:

*****Saturnalia*****

Between December 17th to the 25th, Roman courts would be closed and a law which stated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during this week long period gave rise to the holiday Saturnalia.

Much like the “Feast of Fools” in the Hunchback of Notredam, the Roman authorities began the celebration by choosing an “enemy of the Roman people” and nicknaming them the “Lord of Misrule.” Each community selected a victim and encouraged the person to indulge in food and pleasures during the week. At the end of the week (December 25th) the Roman Authorities came back and would brutally murder this man/woman as a sacrifice. The idea being that they were destroying the forces of darkness and evil.

Other fun customs of Saturnalia included going from house to house singing naked. Frequent accounts of Rape and deplorable sexual activity. And consuming human-shaped biscuits (a symbol of the sacrifice to come).

*****Christianity Takes Over*****

Around the 4th century CE, Christian leaders imported the Saturnalia festival in an effort to convert the large pagan masses. They promised the pagans that if they converted to Christianity, they could continue to celebrate Saturnalia. However, there was nothing intrinsically “Christian” about Saturnalia. So to remedy this, they named the concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’s birthday. This was met with mixed success as it did indeed convert the Pagan masses to Christianity, however the holidays continued to be celebrated with excess drinking, sexual indulgence, and singing naked in the streets for years to come.

*****Warped Customs*****

Many of the pagan customs were adopted by the Christians. Singing in the streets turned into Caroling. The Pagan worshiping of trees turned into Christmas Tree decorating. The human shaped sacrificial effigies consumed during the holiday turned into gingerbread men.

Even the use of Mistletoe comes from Druid mythology: The god Balder was killed by a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting over the female Nanna. The druids use to poison their human sacrifices with Mistletoe. The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual indulgence of Saturnalia.

One of the most depraved customs of Saturnalia was intentionally revived by the Church in 1466. Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness reported, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”

Also the most common “Lord of Misrule” sacrifice tended to be Jews. And after the conversion of the pagan holiday into a Christian one, Jews continued to be the brunt of many festive activities (like the run mention above). So remember that December 25 was a day on which Jews were prominently shamed, tortured, and murdered.

(I’m sorry that last line sounds very lecture like, but I can’t express it any other way. It’s sick and it’s sad, but it’s true and I wish it wasn’t)

*****Christ’s Birth date*****

Christ was not born on the 25th. There have been many attempts to solidify his actual birth date, but with little success. Some have placed it around March, others around September. The 25th was chosen, as mentioned above, as part of the Saturnalia conversion and also to correspond with the winter solstice.

*************************

Now I wrote a lot of that just to give some interesting facts that I found out about Christmas. I’m not saying that you can’t celebrate Christmas or enjoy it. Christmas IS a wonderful time of forgiving and understanding and it’s very satisfying to know how far it’s come from these rather unsettling roots.

I personally LOVE celebrating Christmas, despite what some of you might think over that stupid “Seasons Greetings” cartoon. While I did grow up Atheist at home, we celebrated Christmas along with everyone else. We had a custom of opening 1 present on Christmas Eve, which just enhanced the expectations of the day to follow. I remember fondly of waking up early and looking through my stockings and waiting for everyone else to wake up. We wouldn’t open presents until my brother awoke, which tended to always be late for some reason.

After opening our presents we would chill for a few hours until the rest of the family arrived. My job was to go around and sort the presents brought by relatives and make huge piles of gifts for everyone. My mom and my Aunt would go prepare food during this time. When there was no more work to be done in the kitchen, we proceeded to open all of our presents. There was no order to this, we all just opened willy nilly and the end result was usually a huge clutter of paper on the floor.

After the second present opening, we would adjourn to the dinning room and have our 1-2pm meal, which usually included a Turkey, Cranberry from a can, A HUGE portion of stuffing (mostly for me), mashed potatoes, greens, squash, and probably some other food I’m forgetting. Once that was over with, we all proceeded to just enjoy the satisfying full feeling. Some of us, like my grandpa and me, would take quick naps.

So I have nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas. I enjoy it. It is, however, still fascinating to learn the origin of Christmas. I knew that a lot of customs were from pagan practices, but I wasn’t prepared to find some of the stuff I did. I didn’t know about the sacrifices or the debauchery. And it also gives me a greater insight into why, if you’re Jewish, you might rightly be offended by the continued use of “Merry Christmas” day in and day out. I don’t want to start another “seasons greetings” argument, but you gotta admit that this gives a very good reason to back up my statement.

Either way, Christmas is a time when pretty much everyone comes together and celebrates, Jews too occasionally. People from all over the world of different backgrounds celebrate Christmas. I think I mentioned before that Japan, which is not a predominantly Christian country, celebrates Christmas because it’s fun and enjoyable. You’ll find many Manga and Anime which celebrate the spirit of Christmas, rather than the whole Christ is born thing.

I hope that didn’t put too much of a damper on all of your holiday spirits. I just thought it was interesting. Everyone have a happy holiday. Merry Christmas and Happy 5th day of Hanukkah!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Seriously. I’m going to go celebrate Hanukkah this weekend, so I’m gonna be gone for about 4 days. But before I left I just wanted to say a few things.

1. I honestly didn’t think that people would be SOOOOO offended by my little comic called “Seasons Greetings.” It was just drawn because it’s some odd thing that I do to mess with people on a day to day basis. It’s fun and some of the reactions from people are hilarious. That’s all it was meant to be. Stupid fun.

To be perfectly honest I am a bit surprised by a lot of the “hate” comments I got for it. I mean, I drew a blasphemous picture of JESUS FIGHTING A DINOSAUR with a friggin’ SWORD for crying out loud, and even had the audacity to title it “Jesus HATES Dinosaurs.” No one bats an eye. But if I mention Seasons Greetings and suggest people should be a little more respectful of other religions (or lack thereof), suddenly it’s the Apocalypse!

I never intended it to be a politically correct message, although through a lot of the fighting, that’s what it started to turn out to be. I’m glad that some people were able to just look at it and laugh at what it originally was meant to be... a cheap laugh.

2. I’ve uploaded my final video game review for the website that’s launching this weekend. I wish I had a link to give you all, but unfortunately I don’t and I won’t get back until after it launches, so I’ll just update you all then. Danny and Spot are going to be moving there so any further comics I have of them will probably be posted there instead of here.

3. I didn’t have time to finish a picture that I really wanted to get done, but it’s just incredibly cute and I hope that you all don’t mind waiting until probably after Christmas before it’s done.

4. Here’s something that I, while during the fighting over my “Seasons Greetings” post, found to be slightly relevant.

“To the man who loves art for art’s sake, it’s commonly in the lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.”

Think about that quote for a minute. What it means is that while Art tends to have a lot of high-brow amazing work, it’s usually the low-brow stuff that gets any recognition. A painting hanging on the wall of a museum will receive less attention in comparison than a hot new Comic Book, for example. Both could feature a naked woman, but only the comic book will receive the crazy attention and media sensation for it.

After the fuss made over my stupid cartoon, I began to think about this quote a lot. I mean, there’s GOT to be better painted stuff to fuss over than a silly little scribble like my cartoon.

I dunno. What do you think that quote means? Do you think it’s true or not?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Small things that bug me


Ever notice how it’s usually not the big things that piss you off during a day, but the little things? Those small insignificant irregularities that you shouldn’t worry about, but you do anyway? Well here’s a couple of my own recent irritations:

Arlo and Janis
This comic pisses me off whenever I read our newspaper. Out of all the comics I’ve read over the years, this one consistently makes me go “what the ****?” And it’s really a combination of a lot of things. Mostly storytelling failure. When you have only 4 panels to tell your story and have a joke in the end, you have to be as clear and concise as possible. But for some reason, Arlo and Janis always seem to be missing a vital clear clue to help you “get” the joke. Here, take a look at this recent one for example:



Now read that and tell me what happened. I know NOW what the joke is, but I’m curious to see if you guys can get it too. I might hate how the camera in Get Fuzzy breaks the 180 rule all the time, but even then it’s never had an unclear joke. I can still follow it, even when odd things in the drawings occur. But not with Arlo and Janis.

Pokemon on the DS
I just recently beat the game and have finally figured out how to transfer my 495 pokemon from Leaf Green to the DS. Now I have EVERY GOD DAMN POKEMON on Leaf Green (action replay for the win). When you transfer from the GBA to the DS, you can’t go back, so it’s a one way ticket. Imagine my dismay then, when after I started transferring some of my best pokemon from the GBA game, I realized that the DS actually doesn’t have enough ROOM for all the pokemon in the storage banks. Now what kind of ****ed up logic is THAT? A game who’s logo is “Gotta Catch Them All” making it impossible to actually OWN all of them?

And to make matters worse, you can’t transfer pokemon that know an HM move. Why? Why can’t I transfer those? All your pokemon that you use while on your journey in Leaf Green have to have those HMs to make it though the game, and you can’t delete HM moves, so that means that you can’t transfer the pokemon that you actually CARE about. So should I transfer all the pokemon I can? Or should I not? I spent A LOT of time getting all 495+ for the GBA game and it’s nice to know “I have every one pokemon all in one cartridge.” But I can’t do that for the DS game... is it worth it?

So those are a couple of annoyances. Sometimes ya just gotta write these things out and get them out of your system.

Monday, December 1, 2008

3-D TV

What do you all think about the idea of 3-D television? I know it sounds a little hokey and science fiction like, but the reality is that it’s already here.

In case you haven’t noticed, nearly all animated films for the theater are going 3-D. The next big ones Coraline, Monsters VS. Aliens, Pixar’s UP, and Astro Boy, are all taking the leap. Also, Pixar is going to be re-releasing Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D. I’ve even heard word that Disney is going to somehow release Beauty and the Beast in 3-D, though I am not sure how that’s going to work...

But the biggest news is that 3-D TV is already here, and you don’t need glasses. Apparently Phillips Electronics has already developed the first 3-D TV, although I still haven’t been able to figure out how it doesn’t require glasses. These TV’s are already on sale for $3,000. But as you know with most electronics that price is NEVER gonna stay that high. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2 years we see a 3-D TV at Wal-Mart for under $300.

Even cooler, however, is that this special 3-D TV that Phillips has developed can turn any already 3-D source into 3-D images on the screen. In other words, say you hook up a Ps2 to your new TV, it can somehow read the date and generate a second image (2 different views are required for any 3-D effect to work) in real time and present the game in 3-D! How cool is THAT? That means that you can play any of your video game systems in 3-D without buying some special device to do it for you. Just plug and play!

Seriously I am excited for this stuff and I really wish I could see one of these 3-D TV’s in action. But what do you all think? How would you feel about having a 3-D TV?

PS:
On a side note, advancements in Holographic technology have taken a huge leap forward. Scientists have been able to create the first hologram that can re-write it’s data in under 2 minutes. That means a new 3-D image is displayed every 2 minutes. That might seem slow, but if they keep working on it, I’m sure they can bring that down to 1 minute, then 1 second, then 24 times per second... and soon we’ll have holographic TV displays too!