Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Moon over Abraxas

 Do you remember that starry night?

In working on the groundwork for an upcoming colouring book, Ihad the inclination to actually put effort into the cover art and back cover art.  Whilst listening to the actress Stockard Channing read the works of Beverly Cleary, The GIMP and I went to work.  I had originally thought of doing this as a work of lineart.  However, my paper store was moved, therefore I had to go completely digital.  

It is the middle of winter in the state of Minnesota.  One of my favourite things to do as an artist is landscapes and skywashes.  Sometimes even, beaches!  Last thursday, I thought up a cooler beach on a lakebed, more than an oceanside.  The witching hour on a full moon, along with the cool and cold colours used reflect that there is still magick in Midwinter, no matter the weather.

"I am an Abraxian, A Soggoth'I"

I have already had people around me and even on facebook ask me why I haven't just done a regular old earthling beach on a regular old earthling night.  I have seen it fit to explain to them that my works of art are not centred around mere depecitions of things in the physical realm of earth (Read:  "Earth plane") with the exception of being comissioned as such.  With that said, I am not hositle towards such ideas.  

The planet of Abraxas, sometimes called other names in the ancient world as well as the modern one was said to have been an earthlike world.  for some reason, I was drawn to the idea of a moonset on the arctic-most region of Abraxas on what appears at first a sandy beach.  The cold of winter there was probably even worse-off than the ones in MN.  

fig 2 - the sky wash
Fig 1 - "The Moon over Abraxas"
Digital work

fig 3 - the beach
waves and moon com

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays from Cattydragons and "The art of Catting"

'Tis the season to be purring, falalalala la la -- NO

Well, its that time of the year again.  Everything is white, fluffy and full of cold, yet spirit.  People have lights up (and if you're from Minnesota; they started this in September) and just a general festive feel.  Everyone's home for the holidays, businesses are shut down.  The radio is full of old and new Christmas / holiday songs.  The cat types away at its blog.  

Even though this blog was only started about 2 weeks ago, the view count is overwhelming.  This is meant in a good way, The output of support for something that was started on a whim due to an "Adult" Snow-day isn't something we're accustomed to.  With "The art of catting" I hope that 2017 brings opportunities for partnerships and friendships.  Dialogues with readers and other writers.  Hopefully, this blog manifests new roadways and connections around the world and around small, seemingly insignificant Minneapolis.  

The journey on blogger has been quite the interesting one.  Though no new dialogues have been started, this whole operation has gotten far more views than I would have thought would appear in a life time.  In the future, this blog will be integrated into the Cattydragons website.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Poem - The Land of No Normal

There was a world without a normal

A world with flight, a world with song and dance
in the courts of kings and queens I danced
In flight upon a saucer-ship

Bid me goodbye oh that abnormal
 world and all of its trappings,
 'twas a fleeting dream

Will I e're see thee again, planet?
 with ring of gold 'round the waist
Are you merely a boyhood passing, 
or do you float up in that sky above?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ramona Quimby and the Feline

Ramona Quimby and the Feline

Listen to the rhythm of the falling Rain

The year of fifth grade was the start of many changes for the bulk of us. Our bodies were just starting to change, our personalities were forming themselves. This is despite, of course, being in mandatory government education. So, as one can imagine, this was the first of many strange times. Perhaps, my first foray into nostalgia. Near the end of the day every day, Mrs Wagner would silence us all so that she could read to us before the final bell of the day. I sat, and listened.

One day, things took a turn for the interesting. We had gone through and read the book “Ms Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” as well as watched the film as an end of 6 week reward. The sad and solemn rains of fall in Duluth, MN came down in a gentle torrent. Turning to face us, she opened and started reading the book “Ramona, the Pest”. I sat mystified. The book was about a young girl “Ramona Quimby” and her many misadventures as a kinderg√§rtner. The story had spanned from the first day, to after school (establishing a sort of set or routine to how her days went) until it all climaxed in a grand meltdown. She did in fact, return to Kindergarten.

This was an interesting feeling for me. Knowing that this was my last year of elementary or primary school brought forth a feeling that usually only manifests itself in earlier adults. This feeling was Nostalgia. I wanted to relive kindergarten for some reason. I did so, vicariously through narrative Author Beverly Cleary had written. It was not, however, a feeling I was used to. Given the situation of living in a state run home, strange emotions were one thing I kept quiet about.

The Bravest Pest in the world

The world that beverly cleary had poured her imagination into was a world that very well could have been. It is a world or a facsimile of one that could have existed in the mid 1950s. Idealistic, yes but it seemed then and seems now to have been based on experiences. That’s what makes it so real. So, why was I waxing nostalgic after an era that I never had a part in? I believe that growing up in a sheltered setting like a gropu home can contribute to that as a concept. So, I basked in that world for years to come.

In the year 2002 or thereabout, I was gifted the latest ( and last book) in the series. “Ramona’s world” The storyline of Ramona’s world centered around her further growing up and her adventures in 4th grade. It all culminates in the end of 4th grade with Ramona and her “Rival” Susan becoming closer friends and a budding relationship with a new character established earlier on as Danny “Yard-ape”. Listening to “Ralph and Florien” in the back of a car going to Missouri for a week in the summer, it was blissful.

Of course, the staff had read the in-between books to me. My primary councilor’s mum also read some of them to me; these were happy memories. In 2010, A film version of the ideas (Note that I said “Ideas”) behind the books “Ramona’s world” and “Ramona – forever” (and a mishmash which forms a full plot) came out called “Ramona and Beezus”. I had gone to it, I watched it, and I returned home, SINGING.

The works of Ms Cleary and the world/setting she has established stuck with me. This is because of the way they are written, and the relatablity of the characters. Fiction they may be, I feel like Henry Huggins, The Kemps, and the Quimbys could have very well been neightours in some far off universe.

Ramona is the bravest pest in the world, Forever. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Catty Book of Colouring Dragons!

"The Catty Book of Colouring dragons" 

Because as we all know, colouring books and dragons are both a thing lately

fig 1 - Arielle sitting in a cloud
fig 2 - Brooke swimming around
 her alcove
I have been kicking the idea of a colouring book based on the Cattydragons characters for quite some time.  This is because of the fact that in recent years, colouring books have become a craze again.  This time around, it's taken adults by storm.  This being said, colouring books as a concept are open to anyone and everyone who enjoys them

There are also numerous studies citing that colouring in colouring books can help those who have depression, anxiety and PTSD.  These studies state that the overall benefit is a form of calming.  Others just enjoy the hobby, and some like myself, are in it for the Nostalgia.  Growing up, I had coloured in several  of these things.  There were times I stayed in the lines and others where I was less able due to motor skills caused by mild CP (NOT Autism, sorry about that, diagnostic professionals).

The thing is, Yes, Cattydragons is an art business an needs to generate an income.  Some of this requires adapting to some, and I do mean SOME of the trends in marketing , branding, as well as what's "hot" and trendy.  Given the fact that the idea of colouring books is resurging in such a very unique way, and I have major nostalgia for these things (IE the smell of crayons) I believe this to be a win win situation.

The Care and Colouring of Dragons

"The catty book  of colouring dragons" will be published as an E-book available for digital download and printing in a month or two.  The blank images already exist even though I didn't know they did until I looked at some of my black and white 'Redux" art pieces after a failed attempt at making something that looked more like a traditional colouring book.

Look foward to seeing it on  The cattydragons facebook page and available for purchase on the cattydragons website.  My goal with this is to someday publish it as a stand alone colouring book.

An update!

Fig 3 "The Moon over Abraxas"
I have been able to finish the back sleeve cover art for the colouring book. The art used is a new soon-to-be painting entitled "The Moon over Abraxas".  This digital version is a prototype. It is most likely that the actual painting will be what I will use in the finished product.  Keep subscribed to this blog-post to keep updated on the product and to purchase.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Hobbit - an Introspective

Far over the Misty Mountains Cold

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN of the works of Tolkien. this fandom has its roots in my childhood growing up in Duluth, MN, hillside. I first experienced and had read-aloud to me the works of "The hobbit","The Lord of the Rings" and other works of Tolkien by caregivers at the group home I Lived at. We also owned the Rankin Bass film variants in which i gained a greater knowing of what i read through the visual medium. Years later, as some would probably surmise, i jumped on the Tolkien bandwagon again when the 3 books of the "Lord of the Rings" series were all made into intensely long 3:17 film productions. These films were amazingly filmed in the late 90s, back to back over a filming period of 3 years.

SOME PEOPLE IN THE FANDOM are drawn to the the likes of "The lord of the rings" and "The Hobbit" because of the action adventure writing style, plot devices and motifs. Some others are drawn in by the large and diverse world that JRR Tolkien created using his working knowledge of Our own mythologies, world religions and basic storyline archetypes. Some are into the languages of the various middle earth characters and the characters themselves. Others still are into the lore and music surrounding the middle earth world and universe. I am into it for alot of the reasons most others are. The basic archetypes play out the hman condition using known and not so well known mythical ideas and symbols that are common-place in everything from our belief systems and religions to our everyday lives. I am also interested in the linguistics involed and the roots of all the foreign languages spoken. Being that i am a musician, i am also into the poetry and the lore that encompass such a vast undertaking
BACK IN THE YEAR 2007 a few years after the "Lord of the Rings" Hype had died down a bit, there circlated a trailer on Both "Youtube" as well as several peer to peer networks like "limewire/frostwire" for "The Hobbit" showing what looked like some of the original Cast from "THe Lord of the rings"reprising their roles. It also showed Bard the Bowman taking out what looked like an animatronic Smaug. Unfortunately the Trailer turned out to the some kind of fan edit of "The Lord of the Rings" and other films out that year such as "Eragon" which lead to quite the disgruntled fanbase.

DESPITE THE TRAILER THAT CAUSED massive fanrage over hte internet for years and a controversy between two film companies that owned the distribution rights to "The Lord of the Rings" as a film franchise, The internet was soon abuzz at the end of the year 2011. Another trailer had hit Youtube. This time, it was completely and totally official and , as they say in our vernacular "Legit". This trailer sported all new songs from the man behind the score for "The Lord of the Rings" , Composer Howard Shore. It also sported some of the original cast, as did the previous fake. Fans, as well as myself were excited to see the door open for us to return to the world of "Middle Earth" to the shire, to see the story before the story and were interested to see in visuaal form the events that lead up to "The Lord of the Rings"

Concerning Hobbits

ON 14 DEC 2012 MYSELF AND OTHER FANS flocked to the cinema in droves to see the film on opening night/ day depending on one's take on such things. being that my only reference for a visual hobbit presentation was the aforementioned 1977 Rankin-bass production of "The Hobbit" I didn't know what to think of the live action counterpart. Being that I was into the whole scope of how Mr ackson did his productions, I figured I'd be in for a very long but fun ride. The film went through the motions of bilbo telling the story before his 111st Birthday party as a backstory to the audience, Gandalf showing up with the dwarves and the songs therein ( "Blunt the Knives", "Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold" ) and so forth. Bilbo and The dwarves traveled to Rivendale, home of the elves, aided by horses, Gandalf, Thorin and some exposition in between to keep the film flowing and break up the action scenes.

Goblins and Radagast the Brown on their way to the lonely mountain. There was also a meeting between the powers of middle earth AKA "The white Council" used as a device to give foreshadowing to the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. There is also talk of a "necromancer" that is used as a device to foreshadow subplots in "The Hobbit" itself. After Elrond reads the map that was given to thorin Oakenshield at the beginning, they're able to get into the mountain caverns to sleep, however, they wind up on the doorstep of Goblin-town. they wind up being questioned by the great goblin and then freed by Gandalf

THE FILM CONCLUDES ON A CLIFF with some birch trees and the company clinging for dear life as Gandalf summons the Eagles. The Eagles show up and rescue them, lead by The Lord of Eagles who carries away a battle damaged Thorin Oakenshield 

There and Back Again

AS A WRITER, I HAVE BEEN AND HAVE TAKEN many influences from the story-line and idea behind "The Hobbit"As well as the other works of JRR Tolkien. From the way I structure some thoughts and sentences to the fact that some of my outside of paper writing has songs and Lore in it. Even bits and pieces of my day to day speech and communication wit others borrows from the works of Mr Tolkien. Because he was a mythologist and linguist, he draws on common experiences, common symbols , themes and archetypes that touch us all and thus touch me.

THE IMPACT THAT THE WORKS OF TOLKIEN, Including and especially "The Hobbit" have had on the general public in the western and other cultural lenses is hard to describe, but it can be seen all over. with corporations called Aragorn and computers called Gandalf, the broader culture is embracing Tolkein's Mythos by storm. with the advent of film technologies like 3D, CGI and stereoscopic rendering and filming, everyone from the seasoned nerd to the average film goer/reader can enjoy his works.

Frozen - Why I can't "Let it go"

Face it, We all need classic Disney in life

This last winter, as everyone knows was extremely cold and for me, brought on the SAD symptoms big time. Couple that with life being well, life, and you get the ground work. being that I am a fan of "The Nostalgia Critic" , a weekly video cast by one Doug Walker, I found myself watching a spliced version of his special from last year "Disneycember"A number of times whilst doing articles like this one and working on web design and artwork. The specific Disneycember special I watched had to do with the animated Disney films that most of us grew up with or have at he least, heard of.

As fall became winter and things got even colder 
I heard of an upcoming movie called "Frozen" which Disney had come out with recently and was about to hit the cinema. It was slated for a December release, but both of the old second run theatres had shut down. this was devastating to myself and my wallet, as I am a movie-goer on a budget. Seeing "Frozen" was at the time, something that was unfortunately not going to happen for me. My entire PEER GROUP had not only seen the film, but had also gotten the lead song "let it go" stuck in their heads.

Flashing forward to a video that "The Nostalgia Critic"
had filmed despite having the tail end of a cold. Bear in mind (or cat in mind, as it may) that even though I knew the song as a meme and the accompanying pictures of Elsa & co, who at the time looked like ripoffs from the previous CGI film "Tangled" I had no idea why the song was suddenly catching on with the generation of people that i grew up with who seemed to shirk or make fun of anything "fictional" outside of LOTR. People who were older than me by a decade were talking about the movie the way I talk about things that I am into (cue hypocrisy rant here). Anger growing aside, I did my own homework and I did find things I expected to find. I put on the "let it go" Parody by Doug and did my reading on wikipedia.

What I learnt was actually rather interesting 
. I head figured out that "Frozen" was A. based on another Hans Christian Anderson classic called "The Snow Queen" and B. was actually intended to have been done alot earlier. It was , however, one of the fairy-tails they didn't butcher , mess with or change as bad as they usually do. In the original, the Elsa and Anna Characters were not sisters, but friends. they also had different names. The acquisition of Elsa's "power" had to do with an ice shard being driven through or stabbing her in the heart (thus the "Frozen heart" reference they still kept in). It also, like most of his fairy-tales, had a darker ending.

The Cold Never bothered me anyway

Flashing forward even further to when I got to see the film 
. it had arrived as a surprise package from my parents one random Friday. I watched the film twice. The set up, conflict, plot and character tropes were all things either reminiscent of or straight out were CLASSIC DISNEY. Though it was done in CGI akin to the film "Tangled" , it had an even more polished feel. it looked like a CGI cartoon combined with a bit of painting.

As a fan of musicals, music in general, and Disney, I have to comment on the musical style 
. The film was one that was very song-heavy and yet used music to drive the plot (let it go) and for exposition (Do you want to build a snowman?) as well` as the titular song "let it go". The songs were also very catchy, thus I can see why they became everyone's ear-worms for a few months. The orchestrations were also excellent, sounding like the usual that Disney seems to pump out by the likes of Manken and Goldsmith. I have to admit, I ran around the house singing songs from the film several times over again myself.

So this, in summary, is why I can't LET IT GO.
Combating all the redirecting and the verbal cues for appropriate adult beheaviour, that film has a timeless story based on a fairy-tale with a good moral in it if one reads it correctly. It has MEMORABLE ear-worms that just won't let you go, and it's just a stunning thing to look at.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Upside down and Inside out

By Serge C. Katsen

The Feels

I am a long-time fan of Pixar; starting with “Toy Story” In 1995. I first saw that film in the theatre during the holiday seasons (read: Christmas break) and not feeling well. Even having that issue, I started the roadtrip of a journey with Pixar films and having really dislike a single one of them; even the ever-so-hated “Cars 2” ™ which should have been the launch of a TV series.
All that back history aside, I wait most years for at least one new Pixar great among the summer or holiday blockbusters full of Flat stories, no character developments and CGI explosions. I would say more but having this article not pop up would be heart breaking! The plotlines in Pixar films do have a formula at large however, they seem to change it up often enough to stop it from becoming TOO stale.
Let’s cut to the chase. The 2015 blockbuster film “Inside out” shattered everyone’s expectations as a holiday movie and was one of the reasons that “Finding Dory” was pushed back to this summer. The story follows a girl named “Riley” who moves from Minnesota (Gasp) down to Los Angeles after her father gets a new job. This was a feeling that was familiar with having moved down to my current home from my childhood home in Duluth, which was not states away, but hours.
Along the way, Riley’s emotions “Joy” and “Sadness” become entangled in a roadtrip throught he canyons of a slightly jostled mind when the emotion “Fear” knocks core memory orbs off of a central platform. Along their journey, Joy and Sadness are introduced to Bing-Bong, A self described “Half Elephant, half dolphin and half cat” imaginary friend, The fear inducing nightmarish entity “Jangles the clown” and many others.
Back in headquaters, the emotions that are left over (Anger, Fear and Disgust) attmpt in vein to simulate how they think Joy would act This leads to emotional chaos until finally Rile has had enough and runs off. It should be noted that during the course o the film, her bright clothing turns more dull and colourless due to the change in mood.
The film ends with Riley and the family reuniting and Riley expressing her sadness of having to leave behind everything with the stress of loosing touch with her best friend “Meg” and the difficulties of adjusting to a new school.

Topsy Turby

I have watched many interviews with the people behind “Inside Out” (Pete Docter, Richard Kind, Lewis Black et al) and have learnt that the kind of research into how the development of a girl’s brain goes from childhood to adult by bringing in child psychologists, therapists and even a neurological developmental specialist was the most adventurous yet. From what I heard, they wanted to get this as close to accurate as possible. I personally believe that they did.
At the time, I was a member of several on-line forums on the ever popular Social Network “Facebook ™” revolving around Autism and other developmental ‘disabilities’. One of the things that I had heard that I had figured it out for myself after seeing it myself and wiping away rivers of tears was that the characterization of the emotions (read personification) was so spot on that Special Ed resource rooms and other agencies dealing with those who have developmental “disabilities” should use this as a metaphor. The night of the golden Globes, I was proven right. Teachers, TAs, paraprofessionals, parents, etc were using this as a metaphor, I was stoked. It appeared that Riley’s physical and emotional Roadtrip had touched more lives than even Pixar had intended or even imagined.
The journey of Riley and her emotions being iterated through a literal road trip and moving experience is a metaphor on the processes that go on when growing up. Chemicals in the brain start changing, new and more complex emotions and feelings arise, things come together and fall apart. Using a road-trip to show that journey at the beginning of the film was perfect. It also hit home with me, as I dealt with those same emotions moving from a familiar place to new territory.

Me, Myself and "Daria"

We are now entering H***,Please keep your hands and feet inside the car.

In January of 2000, I was informed on a ride back from a home visit to my family that I’d be moving out by the summer. That, in and of itself, was quite a shocker for me. I had been a long-time “Student” of the social services organization “Northwoods Childrens Home” later renamed “Northwoods Children’s Services”. The car trundled down the carriageway and we continued to listen to some of the soundtrack featured in Mega Man Legends for the Playstation 1

Later that year, two case workers from “Meridian Services” turned up at the media centre at Morgan Park Middle School to speak with me about the move. That all went well. I learnt I would be moving down to Fridley with my then roomate, Brandon.

5, Sept, 2000, my journey through high school began. We made our way to the bus stop up the street and waited for the bus. Brandon and I boarded the bus and the “fun” began.

There was a short running TV show in the late 90s known as “Daria”. The show consisted of a cast of realistic but slightly exaggerated, as well as stereotypical characters. The morgendorffer family lived in a small, suburban town of Lawndale. Paralleling my own experience, they had also moved from Highland. The Morgandorffers consisted of Daria, Quinn, Jake, and Helen. Daria and her Quinn were sisters. They were also complete opposites in personality. Quinn was prim, popular and social. Daria kept to herself, her writing and her books. They were at odds with each other through most of the Show. Infact, their rivalry was the backbone of many episodic plots. Jake and Helen were a working couple. Helen worked a a law firm and Jake worked in corporate Law. Helen is more the down to earth type, Jake comes off as neurotic.
The meat and Potatoes of the show comes off in the form of Daria and her adventures in the highschool setting. She has a best friend, Jane Lane, who is a budding artist. Most of the other students in school seem to annoy Daria, however, she doesn’t stop from quipping sarcasm at them when they say things utterly...unintelligent.

I’m sure by now, you’re wondering to yourself, “How does this add up? Isn’t TV fictional and real-life “Real?” I reply thusly, that we are often attracted to consuming media that we easily and readily relate to. Like in Daria’s fictional “Lawndale High” Spring Lake Park had “the Jocks”, “The Nerds”, “the Goths” and other cliques. Cliques are a part of human nature, as we are social beings.

I can also answer this question with yet another fork. I
was a lot like Daria. I was reserved, yet sarcastic. I was also an avid reader, as well as versed in classic literature. I had a few friends that were like Jane Lane, artists. LIke Daria, I was too Keen on after school activities and sporting events. Unlike Daria, They were written into my IEP and I had no choice.

“You’re standing on my neck”

4 years later, I walked with my class. Sadly, this was not the end of my journey. 2 years prior, the IEP team had put me into life skills. However, not all was a loss. I had finished all my credits 6 months early. I used the excess time to write a play, and a few short stories. 2 years after that, it was finally over. I was finally an Alumni at Spring Lake Park Highschool

The TV show Daria, with its sitcom like, realistic and sometimes out there antics sems to be a sign of the Zeitgheist. Recently, I had found th show again after having a dream, and can see many parallels with it. Even though some things in it are exaggerated, the realism is there. It is an odd, haunting jaunt into Jungian psychology with each episode. I continue to watch it to this day.

An Introduction of Sorts

The Art of Catting

= Introduction =

For all intents and purposes, or should I say "Purrposes?" My name is Andy, I am 32 years of age, I have been doing artwork sense i could pick up a pen or pencil. About 3 years ago, I had an experience that lead me to further polish my love for drawing what most consider to be mythical creatures.  2 and a half years later, I attended my first art fair and sale down in California where the seed, as it were, was planted.

 As far as the other things I do with the spare time I have, I am an avid reader, retro gamer, and sparse role-player when time permits. I also have a penchant for writing, which is a key reason for starting this blog. There may not be much happening at the home-front in life, however, the small nuances of one day to the next bring interesting surpises.

I also have a Youtube channel that I don't have as many was to update as used to due to lack of webcam built into the laptop and lugging a large one around that looks like ET with the occulus eye from small soldiers(tm) can be a pain. On that channel, I post some of hte advocacy work that I do when called into meeting, and other functions like public speaking. I also post what may seem like wild and out there tehories connecting the seemingly unreal world of "Video games" To our modern world and experience through tangential learning. This is not unlike what the Youtube creator "MattPat" does in his near weekly show "Game theory". On a side note, I am still thinking about doing a "The Legend of Spyro" lets-watch AKA "Let's play" on live stream at some point. However, for this to happen, I will have to acquire an actual gamecube and a video out to my laptop. We'll see what becomes of that in the near future.

For those of you who are interested in my work as a self advocate/Advocate AKA "Ad-vocat" I can furnish you a breif (or somewhat brief) history on that. My parents, of all people, alerted me that there was an emerging "Autism rights" movement hitting the internet and that these people shared some of the same opinions and feelings about treatments, therapies and gropu homes that I had. In the following years, I became a frequent presence
on the chatroom channel "#chatautism" for a few years. A year after, I joined an organization called "CTIC" in Anoka, MN. I have been giving public speaches at Meridian services staff meetings and other functions , as well as speaking at Highschools around the local area. I am also the acting president of Meridian's in-house advocacy group "Team Advocacy" .

All that aside and said, I look foward to posting more content on here in the future. The content will range from though provoking essays to Plot synopses of films or games that could have been. Check back here often.