Wow, they make brush tip pens.

I literally had no clue these even existed. I’m going to get a couple. And here I was trying to make those Inktense blocks work with a waterbrush.

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I’m glad to have been skeptical for decades.

The older I get, the more I can say “decades” and not merely “years,” which is a bit sobering.

The New York Times Just Published an Unqualified Recommendation for an Insanely Anti-Semitic Book: The book, recommended by author Alice Walker, repeatedly cites the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ dubs the Talmud ‘among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet,’ and says Jews funded the Holocaust and control the KKK.

Skeptical of Walker, I mean.

There’s been just a few things, but they are the sorts of things that get my attention and keep it, what I call “tells” although I’m tempted now to call them “shibboleths.” I should say though, that I had no idea of her attitude toward Jews but only toward other women, and that alone was enough to make me side-eye her for all her vaunted canonization as a St. Alice of Feminist Literature.

The first instance was to be blunt her low regard for Hillary Clinton in 2008, which caused a well-known schism between her and Maya Angelou. I could not look past her comment about how she just couldn’t bring herself to “forgive [Hillary’s] white face” and vote for her. One of her kids had a white father. She forgave his white face — and his other white parts. But suddenly when a white woman needed support, she remembered she was black and just couldn’t bring herself to give it?

To me, this was nothing more than junior high school bitchiness masquerading as activism, a depressingly common thing. For all her respected remarks about anti-black racism, it only enters her calculus when it’s another woman to be left out in the cold. I’m sorry, but that’s not noble activism. That’s just chick-on-chick backstabbing with a “progressive” excuse.

The second was when one of her characters — and yes, this was Walker talking, I’ve read enough Mary Sues that I can tell when an author is using a character as a mouthpiece for herself — talked about chopping off blonde heads.

Well, not blond men. Blonde women. Just the women.

When white women are expected to take all the blame for the sins visited upon the world overwhelmingly by white men — as Ruti Regan pointed out — this is nothing more than flat-out, garden-variety sexism of the sort that the patriarchy relies on to keep the girls fighting one another instead of overturning the systems of white male supremacy.

Walker is only content to engage in anti-racist activism when it’s women who are on the other end of the sword. This isn’t noble activism. It’s Faux Action Girl bullshit, when a woman only talks tough when she’s going against another woman but won’t dare speak out against a man. It’s depressingly common in feminism, perhaps more so than in other arenas of thought since so many people wear the feminist mantle as a disguise for their misogynist behavior.

And now I find out that once again, Jews and women are getting exactly the same shit end of the stick as we do all over the world — Walker of course has a problem with Jews. Of course. Pete’s sake, the ridiculous shit people believe about Jews never fails to stagger me.

You’re not a feminist and you’re not an anti-racist activist, honey. You’re just one more bully who got bullied and now thinks that justifies and excuses your own shit, which you would have spewed anyway because you’re just an ordinary, goddamned boring-ass Jew-hater and chick-fighter.

Holy fucking shit, woman. Pull your head out of your ass.

In other news …

… my two-octave chromatic scale on my flute is doing nicely. I should put this on my flute blog, but … well, whatever.

And by “doing nicely,” I mean I can sometimes do it without losing tone, dropping an octave, or running out of air. It still takes real focus for me to not do all of these things, but it’s manageable, which I’m proud of since it means I can successfully hold the flute in a way that frees up my top thumb and pinky and gives me good tone.

I just have to do it many times, and focus on relaxation when I do it and not running out of air. I still have to work so hard at it that I don’t have enough brain left over to do much more than hit the notes. The more I do it though, the more autonomic it becomes and the more brain I have left over to do the higher-level things.

A large part of the difficulty is that one can’t practice in bullet time the same way one can on piano, harp, or anything that doesn’t involve breathing. Sure, I can practice fingering, but I’m not at the point yet where my attempts at fingering aren’t guaranteed to keep the flute stable enough to not screw up my tone or drop me an octave especially once I pass the A in the first harmonic. In order to make sure that I’m holding the flute properly, I do need to blow into it, which means that I am at risk of running out of air when playing slowly.

I can breathe in between slurs of notes, but that allows me to even microscopically adjust my grip in a way that I won’t be able to do if I’m slurring while playing.

The breathing thing really does impact slow practice for beginners a lot, more so for folks like myself who have extremely tight ribcages (scoliosis with a rotation) that require outright forcing to expand even nominally. It doesn’t mean I can’t play — people with outright stingy lungs can play wind instruments, even the flute, which is the most wasteful of air of all wind instruments — but it does mean that I need to pay extremely close attention to how my air is used.

It means that I need to be brutal about parceling out my air, and so far in my experience I need to top off at all times. It’s hard because “topping off” so far for me means, as I described above, outright forcing my upper ribcage outward in a way that someone without scoliosis and a spinal rotation doesn’t need to work nearly as hard to do if at all.

I always remember having horrible wind, starting as a child when I was left gasping and in shocked disappointment in a running competition because I was literally murdering myself to run as hard as I could and seeing stars and dimming vision. I had no clue how everyone else was able to just charge ahead so easily. Initially for most of my adult life, I figured I was just “running wrong” or was simply a weakling. Gym class was no help since unlike every other class I’ve ever had in my life, kids who couldn’t keep up were pretty much thrown in the refuse pile and ignored. Could you imagine a math or English class that did that?

(In my experience, jocks are pretty ignorant about how to actually teach what they do, and extremely ignorant about the mechanics of varied human bodies and medicine in general.)

So it wasn’t until very, very recently that I discovered that my rotated spine made it almost impossible for my ribs to expand fully like other people’s, and hence fatigue would always put me in the back of the pack in any footrace that require rapid, high oxygenation.

I stopped feeling bad about it or blaming myself at that point, even though I still can’t quite shake a tinge of disappointment that this is what I have to work with. Dance and footraces will never be part of my reality, not in the rigorous the way I’d like them to be.

And it also let me know that my flute playing will involve more work than anyone else playing this thing since it’s such a wasteful wind instrument, and that most of my problems can nonetheless be solved with wise parceling-out of my air. I just have to be careful with my air; it’s not like I have to oxygenate 123lb of gasping, sweating meat in the process — only 123lb of fairly still and placid meat. 🙂

No more twitter

I’m sure that everyone says that, and I’m equally unsure that I will make it stick, but I’m sick and fucking tired of going there to connect with like-minded people and finding them screaming in my fucking face that the whole world is going to hell in a shit-filled handbasket when there is nothing whatsoever I can do about it.

This isn’t motivating. Finding out that 99% OF CORAL REEFS WILL DIIIIIEEEEEEE IF THE GLOBAL TEMPERATURE RISES BY 2 DEGREES CELSIUS WE’RE ARE HISTORY’S WORST MASS EXTINCTION EVENT FLAIL YOUR ARMS SCREAM AND SHOT BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO NO MATTER WHAT EXCEPT SCRAPE THIS OVER YOUR EYEBALLS LIKE AN EMERY BOARD AND PUT A SHOTGUN IN YOUR MOUTH EVERYTHING IS SHIT INCLUDING YOU!

You know what? Fuck off. I’m serious. If I can’t affect it, I don’t want to hear about it anymore.

I’m tuning out. I’ll get the fuck off of that craphole and be better able to focus on what I can get done, which is to vote for and promote decent human beings and not soulless greedy Nazi incels, and support organizations that protect immigrant rights.

No, I don’t want to hear about the imminent destruction of the entire planet because I can’t do anything about it. Jesus fucking Christ, I can’t even read about fun robots on Mars without having someone screaming in my face about how we’re all up shit’s crick and we’re going to die and everything is falling apart. It’s not that I don’t believe them. I do. But I know there is literally zilch I can do aside from trying to get sane non-Nazi-incels in office and supporting those who are or will be fleeing the destruction the climate shitshow will bring. At this point, we are fucked climate-wise — we’ve been dumping endless amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere for several centuries at this point, and there’s no mitigation that will help, and I fucking well refuse to stand in a giant arena filled with speakers deafening me with messages of panic and destruction as if driving myself screaming-nuts over it until I find a shotgun is going to help.

If you are going to stand in that speaker, what might I ask are you trying to prove? Are you trying to prove that you’re “tough enough” or can stand to stare at The Horror Of It All longer than anyone else, as if that means that you are more worthy? What the fuck difference does your egotistical little Hairshirt Extravaganza do for the planet in concrete terms? Be specific. Bullet points, please.

And no more panicking over the fact that out country is fucked and under the sway of a monster whose puppet strings are being pulled by another monster further away. Again, I will support immigrant rights and vote for and support sane liberal non-Nazi incels, and other than that, I don’t want to hear from any of your screaming motherfuckers, no matter how much I agree with you. Possibly especially if I agree with you since I am more receptive to your messages describing the evil and cruelty being perpetrated in my country’s name.

For example, I learned about that dear little girl who died of dehydration, so I donated to HIAS. You know what I’d rather do instead? Just set up a standing monthly donation to HIAS and stay the fuck off twitter, and get my mental health back. That seems like a far more constructive way to approach things, doesn’t it?

I mean, I don’t have to be terrified into supporting sane government officials and immigrant rights. I’m already going to do that. I might as well stay calm in the meantime. Doing it while shaking and frightened of the future won’t make my money or votes count any more than if I just do them and also keep the baying hounds of hell out of my headspace.

Fuck you all. Go away. I want my sanity back, what little I can retain of it.

Don’t like that decision? Fuck you, too.

Fur v. furless

I think it might also be down to the “forgivingness” of fur. Fur and clouds are I think more forgiving because as long as you’ve got the general direction of things down and work softly enough, you can get away with murder. Leaves, berries, and metal are not as forgiving; they are distinct, smoother surfaces that have tiny dots of color right here and not there, and are much more picky about how they reflect light.

And maybe I just like kittens and cats more. Although I never had too much problem drawing cars, either — especially those preposterous 50s ones with giant tail fins. They were so much fun; I did quite a few of those. I loved the line of 1958 Plymouths, especially the Savoy. Lovely thing. I should try a 1964 Ford Galaxie ragtop; they are another favorite of mine.

Or I can just draw another kitten. I want to draw another fluffy kitten when I’m done with the holly leaves and berries. I just want to draw another cute little fluffy kitten, damn it.

I should remember to watermark my drawings, too. People can be shits online for the weirdest reasons, and I’m not in the mood for some shitty little cretin to steal and post my shit. People can be so weird, even about something so trivial.

This is really bad. I’m not kidding.

The photo is totally different.

This doesn’t look a damned thing like the photo. The veins are embossed in the wrong direction, and I’ve drawn them perfectly straight since I’m not even really following the photo except in the vaguest terms.

I can follow a photo with no trouble in graphite, but you give me color, and it’s like an instant inability on my part to just follow the lines; I’m out of the lane markers entirely. I simply cannot figure out why this is the case. And it’s not really an inability, per se. It’s more a total disinclination. I might be able to do it if I forced myself to, but it’s as if I just stop giving a crap about reproducing the photo the minute color comes into it and just grab pencils at random and make it look however I want. I will never grasp what the hell my issue is with that.

Now, it’s not that there is anything bad about this; I found out about a very good artist named Peggy MacNamara whose sense of color reminds me a lot of my own who is an artist in residence at the Field Museum in Chicago; I discovered her through one of Emily Graslie’s “Brain Scoop” videos. She seems to respect appropriate color more than I do but does have a bit of the same semi-crazy shit going on with it.

All the same, I just wish I could focus and learn how to be more disciplined with color and just make something green if it’s green and brown if it’s brown without going, “I like purple better, though … ” It’s better to break a rule after having learned to follow it. I’ve got a good enough eye for it; if something is sage green with a hint of pumpkin, I’m pretty reliable at detecting it and mixing the colors appropriate to create it; I just don’t care. Either that or else I’m so busy worrying about value, which always seduces me, that I stop giving a crap about color. This is part of why I wish there were a grisaille method for dry media. I bought myself a black Inktense block thinking that might help, but it just sort of smushed and turned into dirty dishwater when I tried to use a damp brush with it. I’m thinking about using Chinese ink, but that’s water soluble.

Hm, it might be just that there is once again not a big value difference in this photo. Everything is sort of the same vague value, like with the fennec fox, and the only differences are color ones. There aren’t any “edges” to the fields of color, and my eyes are drawn to significant value edges. That’s one of the nice thing about doing cats; most of the ones that photograph very well are stripey, and you get lots of sudden value changes in their coats. I wonder if black and white is just naturally easier than color for a lot of beginners or amateurs?

I also think that I need to have a physical photo to work from as well. I really cannot stand trying to work from a photo on a screen, even a high-resolution one. It never feels comfortable for me, and given that my eyes are permanently set at one focus now, it’s just not manageable at all anymore. I need a physical photo that I can get right up to, and that gets even harder if you wear bifocals since you have to do that hunching question-mark thing with your neck to see things clearly; bifocals are created assuming that when you are looking closely at something, you’re looking down, and that’s just not the case any more with screens everywhere. 😦

I should buy a nice coffee table book of pretty flowers and plants, or landscapes or something, and see if that helps.

Ooh, there’s a nice coleus book that I’d probably enjoy. I’ll get that. It’s not even expensive. This landscape book would be nice, too. Of course, these photos are all in copyright, but I can still use them to practice, at least.