Category Archives: animals

The Prince of Denmark is Uncertain

turtle

Act 3, Scene 1. Hamlet, the young prince of Denmark, enters the courtyard and sees Ophelia sitting by a fountain. She reads a book while warm sunshine cuts through the garden and shines a glowing light on her. Unbeknownst to the prince, Polonius, spies on them from a nearby tree. As Hamlet approaches the young Ophelia, he sees a pair of winged creatures of yellow and black stripes, chasing each other above his beloved. They drift and dash with frenetic energy, an entanglement of miniscule, winged fury. Unsure of the dangers they might pose to Ophelia, the Prince of Denmark asks her, “Two bees or not two bees?”

Act 3, Scene 4. Since the passing of poor Yorick, the young prince has taken to writing melodies to pass time in the castle. This proved to be quite fortunate, since he plans to add music to the play he is writing for his uncle and his mother. But to the recent dismay of many members of the court, he has taken to the stylings of ‘The Five Satins’ and doo wop songs popular in the 50s and 60s. Uncertain on how to finish a line in his song, “Baby, Not in the Ear,” he looks to the night sky and asks, “Doo bee doo or not doo bee doo?”

Act 4, Scene 2. Because of his erratic behavior, King Claudius, at the behest of Queen Gertrude, sent the young prince away from the palace to work at a humble town registry. He was tasked with keeping records of people in the kingdom.  Births, marriages, deaths… he saw all of life’s stages pass countless of times from his station. With the birth of Patroclus and Susanna’s first son, the new family came to the registry to proclaim the birth of young Tiberius. Unsure on how to properly put to paper the young man’s name, the prince of Denmark asked the couple, “Two Bs or not two Bs?”

Act 4, Scene 5. Unable to keep his employment due to his poor grasp of spelling and wanton soliloquies, young Hamlet decided to the United States. He was closely followed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to keep the King informed of his actions. Creating a life for himself in Pennsylvania, for the first in his life, he must now choose a proper representative for the US Senate on the 2016 elections. Hoisting the skull of poor Yorick which he brought from Denmark, he asks his old friend’s bones, “Toomey or not Toomey?” (See in 2016, it’s Toomey running against McGuinty in Pennsylvania for the Senate.)

Act 5, Scene 1. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern visited the young prince of Denmark at his home. They say Osric sent them gifts of wine and NBA 2K16, of which they wished to partake with him. The two were welcomed inside the prince’s apartment in downtown Easton (he can afford it), and they sat in front of the television. Playing the game with his two visitors, the prince chooses players for his starting lineup. He was never a fan of the Lakers, but 2016 being the last year of Mr. Bryant’s professional career, he wonders, “Kobe or not Kobe?”

Act 5, Scene 2. Tired of playing games, the young prince and his guests decided to watch the first episode of “Westworld.” A ghost predicted to him that he would someday watch this show. Everyone wouldn’t shut up about it. His beloved Ophelia recently wrote to him that it has become one of her favorite shows on television, although Laertes questions the believability of living in a “cowboy hellhole” as a dream vacation. With a few minutes of the show remaining, he can feel the urgent effects of the wine on his loins. He does not want to halt the show momentarily, but he could not enjoy it fully at his current state. The prince of Denmark asks himself, “Should I just pause it for a sec?”

(It’s election week in the US. I’d rather talk about when the smoke has cleared.)

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This Election is Draining Me.

kitten

We are twenty-six days before the US elections and it couldn’t come soon enough. It’s been dominating the news and my Twitter feed so much that it’s virtually inescapable. Even on CBC.ca, it’s right there on the front page. As a Canadian living in South Korea, this shouldn’t affect me so, but it’s been one of the biggest concerns that I engage in online. It has been everything, and I can’t wait for it to be over.

It is disappointing that otherwise intelligent people are brought to a position to defend what are otherwise indefensible positions and thus bringing legitimacy to ideas which would normally have been dismissed. And what’s scary is the rate to what new issues and scandals are being brought up and how people have seemingly just accepted them as the new normal. Right now, the hot button issue is the GOP candidate’s behavior towards women, specifically sexual allegations leveled against him. But it wasn’t that long time ago when he was involved in fat-shaming people, making light of military veterans, not paying his taxes, spouting hatred towards Muslims, etc. I don’t even hear him or other people talk about his initial plans to erect a wall along the Mexican border anymore. It’s like all of these things have been accepted, their offensive barbs have been dulled, because a newer and shinier scandal is blinding everyone at the moment. The perpetual shock, disdain, and disappointment at scandals, followed by the bewilderment and frustration listening to what I would like to believe are more intelligent people than me defend his positions has become really tiring.

I’m a political junkie. I love talking about the law and politics. And it is disappointing that the level of discourse has gotten so low and ignorance has been so normalized, that some people are even attacking the very basic concept of a defendant having access to a lawyer that would advocate for him. And instead of being ridiculed and suffering consequences for making facetious arguments, “experts” are rewarded by being given more media coverage. Alex Jones and Roger Stone have become part of the political discourse. Alex Jones is claiming that President Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton are literally demons. Why even concern yourself with issues like education, police culture, and geopolitical events, when fanciful paranoia can get you just as much political media legs? It’s a damned shame.

What I fear is that even after the elections, even if Hillary wins, the poison that was infused in the media and political culture will linger far beyond 2016. Politics has become dirtier, party lines will be even more divided, and the discourse regarding race, religion, sex, etc. will be even more hateful. This is the election that made political discourse dumb, and has turned “straight talk” into blatant bigotry. The Tea Party movement began in 2009, and though it has waned since then, the American people are still feeling the damage it has done, especially in the way the Senate and the House of Representatives conduct its business. I fear that even if the Republicans suffer due to a down ballot effect, this movement fueled by Trump’s rhetoric and his supporters’ machinations will have a far more longer and insidious effect in our collective culture.

The elections can’t come soon enough.

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Birds, Octopus, Vegas Weddings and Being a Bad Friend

Crow

A friend of mine from high school is getting married in Vegas soon. She’s kinda skirting on the idea and doesn’t even refer to it as a wedding. She calls it more of a “celebration” than a “wedding.” But for all practical purposes, it is a wedding. She plans to go there with a guy she’s been living with for years now. I met him too. They visited us here in Seoul and we travelled to Japan with them. He seems pretty cool and I really think he makes a good match for my buddy. The problem is, for some reason, despite me being one of her oldest and best friends from high school, she seems to be actively avoiding telling me this.

Another friend told me about her plans. She even advised her, “I think you’d better tell Joe soon.” But still, no word. I message her online all the time, telling her inane jokes about the desert, Las Vegas, gambling, married life, buffets, Cher, etc… still nothing. I saw this friend last year in Canada, and we had a great time together. But back then, she told me nothing about her nuptial plans.

When I was getting married, I invited her and my oldest friends over to attend. Of course, only my best friend from university could afford to attend a wedding overseas. But why am I getting shut out? Am I that terrible a person?

I remember one time she confided to me about donating her kidney to one of her friends. It’s a very noble gesture, one that I hope someday I would have the courage to do should I be required to make a similar sacrifice. However, after hearing this, I told her that she was being extremely selfish and shortsighted. She wasn’t thinking about my needs, especially when I might need a kidney in the future. I also said that donating a kidney doesn’t necessarily make her a better person than me. Going to church more often does. Of course this was all told in jest, but it took her months to realize I was kidding. Perhaps this might’ve caused some damage?

The whole marriage thing got me thinking about Vegas weddings however. If you’re gonna get married, presumably committing yourself to the one person you’ll share your life with in a special, sacred ceremony to be remembered as one of the most significant memories of your existence, why do it in one of the few places in the United States with legalized prostitution? How did this idea ever take off? How was this ever marketed? Why aren’t people having quickie weddings in happier places, places like Disneyland or something?

Is it the booze? It’s the booze, isn’t it?

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Mommy Issues

Octopus

In Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, Nazi scientists were curious about parental bonds, especially regarding identical twins. (SPOILER!) Young identical twins of opposite genders are kept by the scientists with their mother. Occasionally, the boy would dress like a girl and the twins would be nearly impossible to tell apart. On what was probably the last stage of the experiment, the mother was forced to choose one of the twins. She was to give up one of them to a fate unknown to her. At the time, the boy was dressed like his sister, and both children desperately clung to their mother, not wanting to be taken away. Crossdressing however did not save him, and the mother, after struggling for so long, finally let go of her son.

The boy grew up to be the main antagonist of the story, fueled by the mystery of that fateful day. What was the meaning of that day? Did his mother truly let him go or did his mother mean to let go of his sister instead? And if his mother said she meant to keep him with her, could that really be believed? This is the genius of Naoki Urasawa. He has a gift of exploring people’s most common insecurities.

It’s the life raft question. What if you were the one left in the ocean?

I have three sisters. I grew up, knowing that my mother loved us all but not equally. I knew this even at a very young age. And even after she passed away, I was reminded that she loved me less compared to one of my sisters. It makes me bitter sometimes knowing this, but it didn’t turn me into a monster the same way Naoki Urasawa’s character did. I am confident, that like all mothers, she would sacrifice herself to save her children. But just like the story, given the choice, I’ll probably be let go to the hands of Nazi scientists.

Writing this now, I look back at how this truth, albeit common, might have affected me as a person. It might have affected my confidence growing up, doubting why I wasn’t as beloved as my sibling. But that lack of confidence could also have been fueled by a father who was never really the most encouraging person in my life growing up. I was told I threw a ball like a girl before I was even taught how to throw. Perhaps it affected how I see women in my life. Growing up with sisters have been a great influence in making me more sympathetic to feminist concerns, but perhaps my childhood has given me mother issues that affects not only how I relate to women. I don’t know. I’m just throwing this out there. It’s a bit late for Mother’s Day, but I remember feeling three things on Sunday. One is gratitude and longing for a mother who passed away. Two is regret for not being there for her during the last years of her life. Three is bitterness… selfish, idiotic bitterness.

The thing is this is not the only time I’ve had the mixed feeling of being second best (if that). I remember dating a girl once knowing that she liked another guy long before she even took notice of me. Now this is true for most relationships in the world, but I felt like she could drop me anytime this other guy showed any affection towards her. I was grateful for the attention she was giving me, but I was also insecure. At worst, there was even a hint of bitter victory, like “Ha! Finally, you like me now, after ignoring me for so long, you bitch!” And all the time she was with me, I kept wondering if she’d rather be with that other guy instead. It was very confusing.

Now as for my mother. All of the love and kindness she has given me, a dumb part of me would sometimes feel that it all pales to the love she has for my sibling. Enjoy the scraps. Your sister is getting the full meal. And just like with that girl, would my mother really have spent all that time with me? Wouldn’t she rather be with my sister instead?

Now, I realize how juvenile that all sounds. It’s juvenile, petty, and competitive. It probably doesn’t reflect her true feelings, but sometimes my mind goes there. It just does. In many ways, I should be grateful for having such a wonderful mother raise me. After all, there are many others who don’t have the luxury to complain about their parents. Or worse, having parents who mistreat them. I just wish sometimes that I merely suspected my mother having favorites, instead of having it proven to me several times in my life.

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Chickens

bloody_cock

I drew this based on an actual cockfight I saw when I visited a cockfighting ring in the Philippines back in 1998. I remember it being a bit gruesome especially in how a much cared for pet quickly becomes a casually manhandled broken animal after losing a fight. Attitudes change after a minute-long fight. I also remember the chaos at how the participants bet on fights: yelling odds and wagers, and throwing money owed. I don’t know how the system works and how it’s policed, but everyone there seems to be content with the chaos.

The birds are beautiful creatures which unfortunately are tied to evils regardless of how enthusiasts wax poetic at how the fights are metaphors to their own struggles. In the end, it’s still about animal cruelty and gambling.

I started drawing another bird last week, the greater prairie chicken, which is really a grouse. I’ve been on a Canada-kick lately, and I think I should do a tribute on one of Canada’s poor extirpated bird. Why can’t we reintroduce these beautiful birds back in the western provinces? C’mon Prime Minister Trudeau! Let’s get this done!

Due to a busy schedule, and honestly, bouts of depression, I haven’t had much time and energy to do art. Usually, working on art gets me through depression and anxiety, but lately I’ve just been torpid and it’s been extremely challenging to get myself out of it. So to artists out there who are making art to deal with their issues, good for you! You might be depressed, but at least you’re making something and have the energy to create despite being in a dark place.

As for me, I’m still looking into this fat bird to get myself to a healthier mental state. It’s easier to draw birds than to actually work on the things that are negatively affecting my life, but that’s another entry for another time. Unfortunately, I’ll be on vacation soon, and ironically, that may leave me with even less time to draw. Hopefully I could finish it soon.

 

 

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Rats

Rat_King.jpg

Sometimes, there’s not much to do but draw the royalty of the rat kingdom.

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Octopus Love

Hentai

Back in Seoul. Kinda busy catching up, so here’s a quick image.  It’s a tad small here so go to the larger image. Here!

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Random Rant

I woke up early Saturday morning with an urge to get crafty. I keep seeing these cardboard mounted deer heads in restaurants and stores. They sell pre-cut cardboard deer heads in stores and online anywhere from $20-$60. I decided to make one myself and save some money. I created a fake deer head out of plastic before. It’s mounted right above my living television. So I knew I can make an animal head in a weekend morning. This way, I don’t feel like I wasted my weekend just lounging around, watching movies, and playing video games.

deer heads

Boom. Made three. It took longer than I expected to cut them all out. I didn’t want to make huge mounted heads, so instead of cardboard I just had them printed on really thick watercolor paper.

colored deer heads

Painted them with acrylic to add some strength. It’s not much, but it should keep them from drooping. Today, I’m gonna get cheap frames to mount them on. Not bad for a Saturday morning project.

Speaking of movies, I decided to watch Full Metal Jacket again. I realize that the documentary Room 237 is all simply about theories regarding Stanley Kubrick’s motivations for The Shining, but theory or not, his imagery is truly rife for deeper interpretation. He really does seem like a “bored genius” who is a few steps ahead- and in in those few steps, manages to put so much meaning into his film, leaving viewers to sift through clues and red herrings. Of course, the message in Full Metal Jacket is quite clear, but it doesn’t make him any less of a genius.

I also watched Welcome to the Rileys which feature James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart. I miss James Gandolfini. There’s something incredibly human to the characters he plays. Kristen Stewart is not bad as well. I keep seeing her in many independent films these days. I guess she’s trying to wash away Twilight with a bit of indie cred.

Canada has a few teams at the NHL playoffs this year. The Winnipeg Jets barely got in, but I’m glad they’re in nonetheless.

Been playing a lot of Bloodborne lately. Just like the other Souls game, it is punishing but is quite addictive. Hidetaka Miyazaki is a genius. I’m a grown man and should really stop playing video games, but games like Bloodborne will keep me distracting myself in front of the TV until I’m old and gray.

Here’s an advice to married men out there. If you’re wife clearly doesn’t appreciate your sense of humor, STOP TRYING. Stop making commentaries and observations. Stop trying to make her laugh or smile. Who are you trying to impress anyway? It’s not gonna get you laid more. You’re making jokes and commentaries for your own benefit and not for her. She doesn’t want to hear from you. She wants her humor from the strangers on television. Just stick with banal observations. “The sky is cloudy today. I should bring an umbrella.” Stick with that. Save your wit and humor for your friends. That way, no one gets annoyed or offended.

Update: Framed and done.

framed_deer_heads

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Them Snakes

Snake_bones

I remember seeing the character “Zuma” on the silver screen when I was a small kid. I don’t remember the movie exactly, what the title villain’s motivations were, or why I was even in the theater watching it (Who would take me?!). But I do remember the character vaguely; green skin, shaved head, loin cloth, and two snake heads, which at a young age I wondered, “where are their tails? How do they poo?”

zuma

I gotta say though, the whole things does reek a lot of Freudian imagery: the hyper penises, the ultra-macho character, the allusion to rape, the deflowering imagery, and the preying on white, blonde women.  It even says so right there, the victims are “young, virgin girls.”

I consider myself a feminist, although I’m not one of those hyper-feminists who devote so much effort trying to find patriarchy where there really is none. It is interesting however to see a character that is quite overtly inspired by male aggrandizement and sexual violence. I guess that was part of the appeal. I guess that’s also why it’s still in my memory.

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Good Riddance

Horsey

This is the last post for 2014. Good bye 2014. You were never good to me. The only high point would be travelling and my sister giving birth to my nephew, but other than that, 2014 was a disaster for me. It started with major health issues; then my personal finances took a huge hit, then a couple of my clients quit on me because they’ve been hit hard as well. I lost a couple of friends, was disillusioned with people at work, and it’s been a struggle making art. I’ve lost touch with my best friend recently and I noticed that I started to become more and more of a hermit. And what’s depressing is, I don’t mind.

I remember writing about an impromptu palm reading I had this year, that I would have a healthy but short life. If I get murdered or die in an accident in the next couple days, don’t bother with investigations or autopsies. It was 2014.

 

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