I AM SORRY TO HAVE MISSED YESTERDAY’S POST. I had a bad brain day; nothing serious, just a big ol’ mental Foggy Bottom Boi settling down onto my noggin like a cat onto a television remote, heedless of whether I had things to do or whether I actually wanted to watch another episode of Star Trek: Voyager. (And given the unfortunate but unsurprising recent news about Robert Beltran ((and Roxann Dawson, though not recently)), that’s a mighty big ‘whether’.)
So I went for a walk, caught some Pokémon, ran for my life from the annual Giant Ants of Mesa (#irony?1), and called it a day. I trust that the entire Blaugust engine ground to a shrieking halt in my absence, and y’know what? Good. It should. But let’s pour some fresh oil into that engine, pour some fresh Diet Coke into me, and hit the road. Siri, do the thing.
#10: What are some things that
you do in order to stay creative?
BOLD OF YOU TO ASSUME I’M CREATIVE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Nah jkjk, that’s just good ol’ fashioned Protestant “avoid positive descriptors of self at any fucking cost” talking. The answer is simply that I consume/engage with/assimilate a lot of media, a lot of stories, that are similar in flavor to the kind I like to make and tell, and possibly more importantly a lot of it is about making art (or whatever they make), in both fictional and nonfictional/instructive frameworks. IT IS THE TIME FOR EXAMPLES:
- Manga about people who make manga oddly constitutes its own fairly robust microgenre in my reading, including:
- Time Paradox Ghostwriter,
- Yoshi No Zuikara,
- A Galaxy Next Door (which the faithful reader may recognize as the first review I did after leaving Blogger and starting this site),
- The Transcendent One-Sided Love of Yoshida the Catch, and Animeta! (which is about making anime, but, vague gesture).
- See also Blue Period and Blank Canvas, both about painting and/or art school. I haven’t put any points into my own Draw skill2 but there’s a lot to learn from watching anyone engaged in a creative endeavor who’s passionate and knowledgeable about what they do, especially if they’re learning along with you.
By the way, I’ve been meaning to talk about this but don’t have enough thoughts for a full post on it, so this is as good a place as any: Animeta! is a really fascinating example, because it’s a manga about people who make anime, and accordingly it’s in almost constant conversation with itself regarding the translation of its ‘real world’ into animation, even though to us its real world is a two-dimensional cartoon built on many of the same rules as the art its characters are trying to create. I would never chastise anyone for reading ‘passively’ (if such a thing is actually possible) and not picking up on themes and similar, but if you’re paying attention it’s almost impossible to miss the way it tugs on the lines connecting our world, the world of the comic, and the world of the animation being made in the comic; this usually isn’t addressed directly (it’s far more interested in giving you fairly technical production details or telling you why the committee-investment funding system fucking sucks) but in a hundred silent symmetries and echoes from one level of the work to another across countless pages:
Go read Animeta!, it rules and it’s only 5 volumes! Speaking of which, apparently A Galaxy Next Door just ended last month with what I can only assume will be its 6th or 7th volume, which is a huge bummer but I’m also very relieved to see fewer and fewer manga cracking on for twenty, thirty, or more volumes; it’s not good for the creators, not good for us, and not good for our wallets. AS I WAS SAYING:
- Many of the podcasts I listen to aren’t “instructional” but rather feature experts in a subject (or just smart people) discussing their specialty, one adjacent to it, or how it applies to a given topic, and that cross-referencing of creative sensibilities is absolutely pure, uncut fuel for a mind that likes to think as much about processes and mechanics and what those things mean as much as what can be done with them.
- 99% Invisible, as a show nominally about design, is actually about almost nothing but how our thoughts and experiences and perceptions and desires influence the things we make, and how we can be more aware of these and of our own choices; not everybody is going to design an accidental skate-park or a flag or a universal Stay The Fuck Away sign for a radioactive waste-tomb or accidentally create an entire new genre of food because they needed shelf-space, but everybody can afford to be more thoughtful about how they do and make the things they do, and it’s also just some of the best-produced, most listenable pod around.
- The Adam Ragusea Podcast, which titular Guse may sound familiar if you’ve ever watch a cooking video in your life, is a fascinating, invaluable layman-level food-science3 show. Wanna learn about this newest wave of hunger-hormone inhibitors like Ozempic, and how the rich are bogarting them from the diabetics? Wanna talk to an actual dairy farmer about how cows physically can’t give milk unless they feel safe and comfortable? What about how pork sausage and eggs came to be synonymous with breakfast in the United States, and why continental breakfast always feels like such a friggin’ ripoff? Citizens: The 👏 Guse 👏 has 👏 you 👏 covered 👏. He was also a professional musician in another life, and not coincidentally created the theme musics for:
- The Greatest Generation/Greatest Trek are, yes, largely Star Trek-flavored dick jokes, but the hosts are also extremely intelligent audio and video production professionals who offer AMAZING insight into film and cinematography that has added measurable enjoyment to everything I watch, not just Star Trek; thanks to Ben and Adam, I can recognize when another show uses Jonathan Frakes’ signature God-shot filming technique, or when a split diopter made a scene-effect possible, or how M*A*S*H* tells us whether we’re supposed to root for someone getting punched or someone doing the punching based on the choreography and what the camera does.
- Mangasplaining (I know I just mentioned manga, trust me, this is separate) features a western comics-artist and three manga-industry insiders discussing art production and storytelling from different perspectives, and is also a great way to find new things to read/constant threat to my wallet.
Games are not a less fertile medium for these kinds of things, but most that have anything you’d wanna hear will also require your attention, and unfortunately in this house video game time is podcast time, so that’s difficult. NONETHELESS:
- Where The Water Tastes Like Wine, a game in which–as if you hadn’t guessed yet–you bet (and lose) your skin to a man with a wolf’s head and have to wander the strange fantasyland of Depression-Era America as a hitchhiking skeleton, collecting stories, swapping them, planting them like seeds, and weaving them throughout the fabric of a country whose story isn’t yet written. It manages to be an insightful exploration of what storytelling is and how it shapes us and our worlds while also being just an actual fun game to play. Tell this kid camping in the graveyard a story he wants to hear if you wanna share his fire for the night, or keep walking and run into a pair of outlaw sisters running guns for the border and see their story change every time you hear it in a new town, but whatever you do keep walking when the voice in the hollow log says wassup.
THAT IS THE END OF THE EXAMPLES FOR NOW. I am OFF, to be bad at Mega Man 11 while we watch the new Only Murders In The Building, and then I have an appointment to try to get over how much Tiny Chef freaks me out. I know he’s a good guy! I know! He just–he’s a lot.
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.