Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ink, Blood, Pain, Art

Once again I underwent the alchemical process, and my tattoo of Odin's ravens, Hugin and Munin, is almost complete. One more session in a couple of weeks should finish it. While I was at the shop, a guy and his dad were getting work done across from me...I thought that was kind of cool. Miles Larson is doing an excellent job (as usual) bringing the ravens to life on my skin.

"Wisdom and Rhyme, Sorcery, Death, living inside me, of Life and Death I am King, for both do I bring, by Sword and Spear and Ring"-Manowar

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Words of the High One

It's getting close to time for more work on my Ravens of Odin tattoo, so I'm of a mythological mind tonight. I've been re-reading the Havamal, or Words of the High One. It's words of wisdom passed on by Odin himself, supposedly. There's wisdom for travellers and guests, general advice for all, his quest for the Runes, and songs of spells he knows. Though couched in old-school (really old-school) wording, if you update some of the situations, the wisdom still applies. For example:

-Let a man never stir on his road a step

without his weapons of war;

for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise

of a spear on the way without.

In other words, be prepared...of course, if I didn't think I'd get arrested, I'd literally always have my sword or axe with me, but that's just me.

Immortality through great deeds is spoken of, as well:

-Cattle die, and kinsmen die,

Thyself too soon must die,

but one thing never , I ween, will die-

fair fame of one who has earned.

Wisdom in waiting until one has experienced something before passing judgement on it:

-Praise day at even, a wife when dead,

a weapon when tried, a maid when married,

ice when 'tis crossed, and ale when 'tis drunk.

Although, if you don't praise your wife while she's alive, she may make you wish you were dead.

Odin's seeking of the knowledge of the Runes is a gripping part of the I touched on in my earlier post about my tattoo and Norse myth, Odin underwent pain and sacrifice to gain knowledge, to better prepare for Ragnarok, the Norse Armageddon. He impaled himself on the world tree, Yggdrasil, with his spear Gungnir:

-I trow I hung on that windy Tree

nine whole days and nights,

stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,

myself to mine own self given,

high on that Tree of which none heard

from what roots it rises to Heaven

None refreshed me ever with food or drink,

I peered right down in the deep;

crying aloud I lifted the Runes

then back I fell from thence.

Death and rebirth is a common theme in many religions, but how bad are you that you impale yourself?? Man, that's one tough god.

I've always been interseted in Odin, as he's god of war, poetry, sorcery, and death. He rules over skalds and berserkers alike. He obtained the Mead of Poetry, and could also incite battle rage in individuals and armies by throwing his spear overhead. He studied magic for use in healing, battle, lovemaking, and speaking with the dead. His ravens brought him news from the Nine Worlds, and his wolves Freki and Grere (Ravener and Greed) sat at his side in Asgard. His eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, would carry him across the land, sea, and sky. Unlike most gods who represent one aspect, Odin is multi-faceted...body, spirit, and mind. I suppose this is why I'm so interested in him. I took one of those goofy online quizzes once to see what god you most resemble...I got Odin by 78% (with Tyr following up with a close 70%). And I named my dog after him as well.

I think the Old Norse religion is one of the most interesting ones...we get taught the Greek myths in school, but the fellas from the cold North are given short shrift. If you have an interest in things Norse, check out the Havamal. It's not too long, and it's good reading. Hail to you all!

Miss Ya, Mitch

I recently got the new Mitch Hedberg CD. Mitch Hedberg was one of my favorite comedians. He had a unique way of looking at the world, and a unique delivery as well. In a world full of stale sitcoms and unfunny comedians(Larry the cable guy, I'm pointing at you), Mitch was a breath of fresh air. Here are some quotes from his material:

"If I was the Headless Horseman's horse, I would fuck with that dude. 'Yeah, we're going that way, not toward hay.' "

" I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that's extra scary to me. There's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside."

"I got an ant farm...them fellas didn't grow shit."

If you're not familiar with his work, go check it out. You'll be glad you did.
Rest in peace, Mitch.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Beast's Movie Cave-Tokyo Gore Police

With a title like 'Tokyo Gore Police', you can kind of tell what kind of viewing experience you're in for. Well, This one delivers in spades, not only in the red stuff, but the overall weirdness factor as well.

The police force in Japan has been privatized. Wearing outfits that resemble a cross between riot gear and samurai armor, the new police take a hard stand against their TV commercials, we see the police execute a serial rapist. This tough law enforcement group has worse things to deal with, however. Killers known as 'Engineers' are running rampant in Tokyo. These crazed killers are even more dangerous when wounded...their wounds become strange body weapons(like chainsaws), and they are extremely hard to kill, unless you destroy the key-shaped tumor that lies within their bodies, put there by the mysterious Keyman( Itsuji Itao). Policewoman Ruka ( Eihi Shina, who was also in 'Audition'), the toughest cop on the force, and an ace swordswoman, is the best Engineer Hunter on the squad. What is her connection to the Keyman, and can she stop the rising number of Engineers in the city? What will happen when the police start executing anyone they even slightly suspect of being an Engineer? And what other dark secrets from her past will surface?

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura, 'Toyo Gore Police' is a crazed, blood-soaked adventure that combines action, ridiculously violent setpieces, S&M, film artistry, and a bit of social commentary to make one wild cinematic stew. There are mutations and perversions galore, not to mention blood by the gallon. The blood and gore rises to cartoonish levels, like in Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (see my October entry on this film). One scene in particular combines the cinematic and the silly, when Ruka, diguised as a prostitute, is groped on a train. She grabs the groper and drags him off the train. While he is pleading for mercy, she pulls her sword out of her parasol and amputates his grabby hands. While he holds his stumps up and screams, blood spraying like a sprinkler system in the background, Ruka, parasol opened to keep the sanguinal spray from hitting her, calmly walks toward the foreground, all in slow motion.

There's a lot of crazed visual special effetcs going on here, with the mutations of the Engineers, such as a woman with a venus-flytrap/alligator mouth for a bottom half, a snail-girl, and an amputee sex slave fitted with samurai sword blades on her stumps, running about like a deadly spider. Oh, let's not forget the Engineer that sprays acid from her nipples, burning the skin off a policewoman's face, leaving a steaming skull. There's also a living chair with some important female parts, and a policeman turned Engineer , who after having his , uh, member violently removed( definately a hard-to-watch-moment for the male audience members...well, it was for me, anyway), is equipped with a large replacement that acts as a gun. OK, I'm not making this up, really.

On the downside, some of the effects are not the best, but given the budget, I'm OK with that. The movie doesn't seem to take itself completely seriously anyway, except for when the police start killing whoever they damn well feel like , which has echoes of real-life events as of late( especially in Greece and California...see the blog Inexorable in my bloglist for a post on this, if you're not up to speed) . But aside from this bit of social commentary, this film is one crazy, gory, twisted ride. If you are easily offended, or are put off by cinematic weirdness, this is definately not the film for you. But if you like wild action, blood , strangeness, and offbeat humor, then check out 'Tokyo Gore Police'. The Beast gives it 4 clawmarks out of 5. See it if you can.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Alchemy-Ink, Blood, Thought, Memory

Back to the tattoo shop. It was just getting dark when I arrived. I remember the last time I got a tattoo on a Saturday, my friend said, "Getting a tattoo...that's a pretty rock and roll thing to do on a Saturday night". Maybe so. The shop isn't's their slow time of the year, Miles (my tattoo artist) says. There's only a few people drifting in and waiting in the lobby with me. Miles calls me back, and it's time for the ritual to begin once again. Punk music plays on the stereo as Miles the Artist prepares his instruments and ink. Just the outline tonight, so black it is. There will be more black later, to be sure, plus other colors. I find strange comfort in knowing that there will be wings of darkness unfurled across my back soon. I take off my shirt...this is the first tattoo that has required me removing my shirt, and I'm a bit self-concious. I am in better shape of late, so I don't sweat it too much. The templates are placed, the area is cleaned and swabbed, and I sit down and get in position. The buzz of the needle is loud, but comforting in its familiarity. The needle bites down into my skin, bringing pain with art. Everything has its price...and it's appropriate, I think, considering the subject mater of my tattoo. The image being put into my skin is that of the Norse god Odin's ravens, Hugin and Munin. Odin was god of war, magic, poetry, and death. Odin was constantly searching for knowledge, and it always came with a price. He plucked out his own eye to gain wisdom from the enchanted well Mimir, and to learn the secret of the Runes, he impaled himself to Yggdrasil, the World Tree, with his own spear, Gungnir. He hung upside down for nine days and nights, without food or mead. He fell screaming into the darkness and seized the Runes, which gave him power and wisdom. His ravens flew out into the Nine Worlds each day to see what was happening, and would return each night and tell Odin what they saw. Their names mean Thought and Memory. As I sit and feel the pain of art, I think of the poem Grimnismal, where it is said:

Hugin and Munin, Thought and Memory,

fly over the world each day.

I fear for Thought, lest he come back not,

but I fear yet more for Memory.

I feel the same, Odin, I think to myself. Miles and I talk about the usual things as he, horror movies, video games, etc. During times when the chat stops, I immerse myself in the process. It's alchemical and magical...the music, the smell of disinfectant, ink, and my blood, the buzz of the needle, the pain as the mystical images appear on my skin...a ritual I've done before and will do again. The pain is especially sharp up on my shoulders near my neck, as I suspected it woulld be, but it's not too bad...again, everything has a price. Eventually, the outline is done, and arrangements are made for the next session, where shading and coloring will take place, bringing the Ravens of Odin to life even more. I pay Miles his well-earned fee, and go out into the night. It's cold, and even though I'm wearing a tank top, I feel comfortable. It feels good, and appropriate. I listen to Manowar on the way back...again, appropriate. I roll the window down, the cold air, music, and stinging skin on my shoulders making their own alchemy as I drive through the night. I stop at Walgreens on the way home...lately, I seem to end up at Walgreens after a visit to the tattoo shop. While getting a tattoo may be a rock and roll way to spend a Saturday night, being at Walgreens doesn't feel so rock and roll. I consider stopping at a bar before going home, but change my mind. Besides, I have plenty to drink at home. I get what I need at Walgreens, and get home. I have some Captain Morgans and Diet Coke(hypogycemia's a bitch), and take another look at the beginning of my new artwork. My ravens may not go out and bring me back news and knowledge, but I feel good that they're there, watching my back.

"In the Hall of the Slain, Valkries and Heroes attend me,
Ravens and Wolves by my side, forever, they did befriend me"- Manowar

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Punching My Way Clear

Today was the first day I've actually felt close to 100% better (probably 98-99%, actually) since coming down with a cold last week. I only missed a half-day of work, but I haven't been up to doing things I normally do . I even accepted a ride home from work last week, which I rarely do ( I usually walk). I walked to and from work yesterday ( the 'to' part was was 29 degrees , and the Moon was still out...I loved it), and today I went out into Beast's Gym (aka my garage) and had a round with the heavy bag.

I really like working out on the bag. I like all the steps...putting on the handwraps, the gloves, stretching out, and then beating the Hell out of the bag. My garage is a bit cramped, but I can move about 3/4 around it, swinging all the while. Punches, jabs, uppercuts, palm-heel strikes, roundhouse kicks, elbow and knee strikes, and even the occasional headbutt if I'm getting too much into it, making a percussive sound as I exercise and take out any aggressions I may have out on the bag. Sometimes it's just random, vague aggressiveness as I hit again and again, sometimes it's a specific person or people I envision as I punch away, picturing blood spraying with each hit. Sometimes it's myself I'm angry at, and the bag (and my arms) take the punishment. And sometimes, it's just me working out.

No matter what the reasons are , or how long I stay out there and punch, or how many times I hit it, it's the bag that always wins. It's always right there, still hanging, tireless in its spot, as I wearily remove my gloves and unwrap my hands, waiting patiently for me to return to battle it once again. It's good to be back in swinging again.
"And in this Heart of Darkness, Our Hope lies on the floor, All Love , like Fame, is fleeting, When there's no hope anymore" -Apocalyptica

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Trip To The Botanica To See Santa Muerte

My friend Misanthropic Anthropoid ( whose blog Inexorable you can visit via the link to the right) and I took a trip to the local botanica today. This botanica carries paraphernalia for practitioners of Catholicism, Voodoo, Santeria, Paganism, and probably other religions, too. It was one of those places I've known about for years, but never made a visit to, until today. Wednesday is the day we both only work until noon, so we figured , why the Hell not?

The place is filled with incense, herbs, oils, potions, candles, bath salts, etc, for just about everything imaginable. There were also pictures of various saints and martyrs, statues, voodoo dolls, mini-cauldrons, Buddahs, angels, brooms, mini-coffins, and talismans of all sorts. There were so many cool things there, but I ended up getting two candles. One is a black skull and crossbones, the other a candle for Santa Muerte, or Holy Death(see Misanthropic Anthropoid's excellent blog entry on her) . The prayer on the back reads( and this is exactly what is written):

Holy Death lady of mine, owner of darkness and of coldness. To you I approach and I implore your protection. Lady of mine, protect me, and take care of me from my enemies and the traps, and of the revenge. Put your cloak and avoid me the negative coincidences. Madam to you that you see in the darkness, takes care of my person, my house and my family. In the Name Of The Father Of The Son and Of The Holy Spirit. Love

Now that's my kind of prayer. She is not a saint that is recognized by the Church...if she were, I might have went ahead and joined up. We also visited another botanica down the street, which wasn't as cool as the first one, but they had many large statues of Santa Muerte on display. People put money at the feet of the statues, and at the statues of more traditional saints there as well. I put some change at Santa Muerte's statue, because I need all the luck I can get, and she seems like a saint that's my style...and if ever there were a saint that would watch over me, it would be her.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comic Art-Khoo Fuk Lung

Now for some art of a different kind. Khoo Fuk Lung is a comic artist from Hong Kong who's done some outstanding work. I have one of his art books, and I wish my scanner worked, because there's some great stuff in there. However, we'll have to settle with what I found on the 'Interweb'. Most of this work is from his creation Solarlord. The first 6 or so issues were brought to the U.S. by Image comics, but were not continued for some reason. Lung's work is dynamic and full of power, traits that are needed to be a good comic artist. Even if you're not a comic art fan, take a look anyway, you may like it.

Art-Maxfield Parrish

Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) is another artist whose work I admire. He did artwork for ads for such products as Jello, and produced wonderful works of art, with a capitol "A". His works have a luminescent quality, a beautiful glow that I've never seen any other artist come close to(note-I am not a big fan of Thomas Kinkade's 'work'...mostly I think he's a bit pompous for titling himself 'Painter of Light', and trademarking it...take a look at Parrish's art, and tell me who the real Painter of Light is!!!) . Like Monet's works, I find Parrish's paintings very relaxing to look at, most of them having a sense of serenity about them. And like Van Gogh's Starry Night, there are many of Parrish's paintings I wish I could step into...the one with the little house in the snow being one of them that immediately comes to mind.Take a look, and enjoy.