Tuesday, June 27, 2023

ブラタモリ (BURATAMORI) Japanese History Lessons

ブラタモリ(BURATAMORI) is an NHK program where sunglass wearing ,TV celebrity, TAMORI and his assistant (who changes every couple of years, and is a young lady announcer) walk around towns in Japan discussing what part it played in history and how it may have geologically formed, and other pertinent information. I see it as a domestic tourism boaster for the towns mentioned. I usually find it interesting. 

Many towns were formed by a Daimyo, a powerful local ruler, Shogun or such significant figures. They always talk about the figure, but I find it difficult to keep in my mind the point in history they are talking about, as they say start of Edo, rather than 1603.  To make it easier to follow, I have started studying the relevant Japanese history, as this is taught at school here, and without it, you miss cultural  references everyone else knows. Who the main powerful figures were, in what era. 

 A recent episode about the Japanese JAXA Rocket Base on the island Tanegashima, went on about 1543, when Portuguese introduced guns to Japan there, and later, their manufacture, and of course, another domestic battle, or two.  

Last weekends BURATAMORI #239 was at the location of  関ヶ原の戦い (Sekigahara no tatakai) , the Sekigahara Battle. Unsurprisingly it was at Sekigahara in Gifu.

This was the biggest battle in Feudal Japan with around 7,500 soldiers each side, in the middle of the country, as the Tokugawa army from the east, clashed with the Ishaida western army.  Each army was composed of various helping clans. 

The battle field was in a valley on a main route east to west, and the show looked at all the significant locations, conveniently marked with flags for tourists.  

The battle was over in a few hours, with one of Ishaida's support clans swapping to the Tokugawa side part way. The Ishaida family and supporting clans were mostly executed in the period following and the resulting Tokugawa Shogun started the Edo period of history and ruled for 260 years, 1603 till 1868.

This book has helped a bit, but when you need details, I end up in Wikipedia. It isn't consistent with dates and the many many figures mentioned need additional info.  I write additional notes with dates in my copy. So, Siege of Osaka was June 1615, when Tokugawa attacked Osaka Castle to destroy the remaining Toyotomi clan. 

This makes BURATAMORI more understandable.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Collected Music, Cartoons and Video Works

Here are links to our cartoons, comics, animations and music. The music and comics are free to download.  

We work on a few different kinds of creative project, AND finish them! Finishing things is so important, and became ingrained into me through my project based working career.

2021 was about writing and recording songs for us, inspired by Freak Kitchen.  That is songs that say something. Distorted Drop Tuned seven string guitar, bass and synths with vocals. One I even call Metal-Pop.  Other tracks go back over 10 years.

The end of 2022 was all about music animation. Did over 16 minutes as 5 episodes on YouTube. Put the music on Bandcamp as well. It was a very interesting experiment for me, even if it hasn't had many views. Part 2 did get around 100. Nothing by YouTube standards, but conversely, that means it isn't the Lowest Common Denominator that requires. 

Mid 2023 has seen us do the Spirograph Album with many Ambient Soundscapes, short rocking synth and sometimes guitar themes. Also with a few supporting videos of YouTube. That album started with inspiration from seeing a documentary on Hans Zimmer and his approach. Not that any of my stuff sounds like Zimmer, even if I use some of the same techniques.

The last few years have also been an interesting time for us to work out our approach to doing comics. The first one I did, Terraform, had panels drawn pen on paper, took many months to do on weekends, and has story issues.  The second last one, the Sci-Fi  In The Next Dimension is full color, mostly vector, but does have a few nib pen on paper backgrounds and shows my current way of having episodes of 8 or so pages, with a book made of multiple such episodes. I try and put humor in everything.

Our Music On Bandcamp  Synths and Heavy Guitar. Unless an Ambient Soundscape. Some real songs, with singing, too.

Our Videos on YouTube   Animations and illustration slide shows.

Our Comics on our Website  Comics to download as .cbr files. 

Car Cartoon Strips on our Website free to read Heavy Metal Garage

Our Illustrations on our Website  Samples of our commissioned works.

These links can also all be assessed from the front page of our website.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Friday, June 16, 2023

THE Problem with Social Media...


Human nature is such that those that know the least about "something", will be the most vocal and confident about that "something".    A knowledgeable person will never be as confident about "something" as a NO NOTHING ,(know nothing).

Partly explains why Social Media is terrible as it usually is.  

The recent Musk Twitter is even worse than previous twitter with the algorithmic changes made.  Blocking and Muting is part of the solution but it still leaves it full with the trivial, shallowness and stupidity from much of the user base.  

Useful/Interesting use of time spent on Twitter has plummeted greatly, but that makes it easier to not bother to go there.  Anything I post there (mostly a cartoon, an illustration, video or music I have made) may get noticed by 2 or 3 friends, unless I post a picture of our cat, which will get many many more.  That cat pictures get noticed much more just indicates to me it is a waste of time being there. 

Then the are corporate SHILLS and trolls for anyplace you have been or  had to mop up the mess from their previous contract. Mentioned a big contractor that wins many government contracts in Australia in twitter once, that I had seen how poor a job they do, and got someone representing immediately gaslighting you.  😡   Block, Block.   

Twitters "clout-chasers" are an unpleasantness too.   Are they also the ones that follow, then do the unfollow to build followers I wonder?  Seen accounts with big opinions with lots of followers do that.  That blue ticks will now get paid for views interactions is the end of the site. Outrage will rule, as that has been proven to be the most effective at getting followers (and so payment).

Facebook, for me, is now just about the groups, as it doesn't show anything I post to my friends or anything they post to me.  Some groups are interesting for your special interest, but you will still get the "no nothing" commenting when they shouldn't be commenting at all. ROI for time spent there is better than Twitter.

Instagram, for me, is about keeping up with what a couple of friends and my daughter post. The rest is time wasting garbage.  A waste of time me posting anything at all there, as 99.9% of the time no one will see or notice, even worse than Facebook.

Mastodon hasn't proven itself at all. I still hate the time wasting INFINITE TIMELINE, where scrolling to "the end" will more often than not, not show anything to make it worth the effort.  Posts I make will more often than not, not be noticed by anyone at all. 

There is much of the trivial I don't care for. Just random insignificant chat on whatever random thought someone had that morning. Boiled eggs vs poached? If that is your thing, they have you covered.

Many there are there for inconsequential small talk chat. This chat is where you can get someone reply to you if you join in. I'm not Swedish, but don't care for chat.  Never have. A Mastodon Art admin was asking people to do their version of various topics, e.g. CAT MONSTER EATING SPAM, and that would be all in the art feed. That is not the art I care to see or do. 

The only way to find people posting with like interests on Mastodon , are through adding hashtags to posts, and searching for those hashtags.  But it seems to me, without any supporting evidence of any kind, those post hashtags aren't shared throughout the fediverse servers.  Any original post I make, rarely gets any recognition that it was seen by anybody, very much like Instagram.  Found lately more people just posting their fav music clips from YouTube, and not their own creative works.  So I find I have now zero incentive to post, or visit there.    

I'm on BLUESKY now. Too early to tell, but where the main people I followed, and interacted regularly with went to. Comics related for the most part. Was briefly on HIVE, but it didn't work well enough to be useful.   

YouTube is similar for me. I have a channel, that a few friends will notice something uploaded.  Shorts are about the only thing more than 30 people will see if I upload.  It is also a place where someone will talk about something for 30+ minutes that should have been a short one paragraph blog post you could read in 60 seconds.  The algorithm encourages this excessive padding, and time wasting.

Then there are the YouTubers with "unbiased" reviews, all shilling X Corporation's "new thing", or artists new Album, exclusive, early, all at the same time, saying how great it is. ( Like for example, Steven Wilsons new Harmony Codex Album). Of course that free trip to Japan didn't influence anything either. Love Ola, but he has done that too, which completely destroys any credibility.

Same deal with all those  YouTubers reviews and likes in comments for the Osmose synth. It must be an impressive product, really works, but doubt very much, just like the Roli Seaboard, they will not be around very long, unless bought out by a much bigger maker.  

LinkedIn. Hate that site with a passion. The survivor biased "10 things successful executives do in the morning", and all the rest of the HR centric crud. But I am there so people can find me if they need. It was originally just resumes, but is now trying to be social, but it is still awful. The 100s of Google staff that were axed without warning, then posting their love letters to Google, was the epitome of  sucking up to the employer that abused you, with out the decency of a normal redundancy process. 

People I knew on Twitter have gone to different places. A few stay on Twitter. Some to Bluesky, some set up their own Masterdon server, and others to Threads.  Less interaction anywhere for me.  "Working the room" isn't for me, never has been. 

So, it seems, Social Media is far less useful/interesting for me now than it was. Will it all go the way of MySpace I wonder? 

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Lemans 24 Hours 2023


Steve Mcqueen Lemans 1970
Caricature of Steve Mcqueen Lemans 1970

Been following the Le Mans 24 hour race since about 1972.  For most of that it was just in AUTOSPORT reports on the race many months after the event. The 1970 and 1971 races with the Porsche 917Ks and 917LHs being the real catalysts for the passion.  

First time living in Japan in the 80s/90s saw Group C and Le Mans on TV with live broadcasts. Amazing.

I also caught live broadcasts on free to TV in Sydney in the 2000s when we moved back.  That has all changed now, and they are all Pay Per View. 

It was the 100th running this year, and 50 years since Ferrari ran in the top class, let alone win outright, so it was a special event this year.  Rain , crashes and intense competition. This year I caught the LIVE video highlights on the Official Twitter and the YouTube accounts.

The top Hypercars is the group that interests me where TOYOTA, FERRARI and PEUGEOT had new prototypes that all performed amazingly and each lead the race at some point.

The Peugeot 9x8 was the car that captured my imagination though, the most different. No rear wing! Takes real courage to do something different to try and get an advantage.

Steve Mcqueen Lemans 1070

These are all sports cars, but I find it strange that, ”covered wheels”, doesn't mean what it used to. They all have the top of the wheels exposed in the body work now. All technological marvels, with drivers with nerves of steal.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

OUT OF SIGHT: 1966 Teens, Beach, Music, Spies & Hot Rods


Saw this as a kid at a matinee session at the Port Macquarie Cinema, NSW Australia in 1966. Spent lots of time in that part of the country as my mothers parents lived near there.  Not a lot to do in that part of the world if you aren't a surfer or love fishing.  My actual grandparents house was some 14 miles north at a 15 house town called Telegraph Point. Absolutely nothing there, except not that far from the railway track, so even though you were in the middle of NOWHERE, you would still be woken up at 2AM by a freight train rattling the little wooden house.  They had tank water, that collected the rain water. No hot running water, and a wood burning stove in the kitchen. And the outhouse toilet was down the backyard.

I was 8 years old when I saw that movie and mostly remembered the ZZR car.  I remember it was funny too. Anything else about it was very fuzzy. It was just really great to actually get to do something there. So this cinema trip was something of a childhood highlight in my memories. 

The ZZR was a George Barris built hot rod. Barris was the guy at the time, doing the BATMOBILE, MONKEE MOBILE and many others.  Very much an American Pop culture iconic Hot Rod maker.

I had remembered this movie for decades and had wanted to see it again. I had seen it available from a website in the USA around 2015, but they only took credit cards. I didn't want to risk that then.  In 2018, found it on  TRASHPALACE, they took PayPal and I bought a DVD.  One of the wonderful things about the Internet.

7 NEW SONGS, is proudly displayed on the poster and DVD cover.

Like a lot of things, your view as a child is different seeing it as an adult.  It is a cheap B movie cynically after the "teen beach" market.  

The music in it though is really good. All the bands "performing" the songs.  As a kid I hadn't remembered anything about the music. The car is still fun.

Not a great movie, but glad I saw it again, and we live in a time where the Internet allows you to track down things like this, and some guy with a passion for old movies can build a website and sell them.   

And I see someone has uploaded the whole widescreen release on YouTube at the time of posting.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The Art of Caricature


Been doing a few brush pen caricatures and rereading and studying MORT DRUCKER movie parodies in the old MAD MAGAZINE issues I have kept since the 1970s.

A get asked to do caricatures  every so often in commissions. It is easy to do a cartoon, but getting the right likeness is always an anxiety inducing thing. If I can do a sketch quickly, and it feels right, that is great. But more often I draw and redraw, then loose all perspective on it.   Doing a bunch of quick sketches, exaggerating different features, and then work out which one has the best likeness is another way to go. So can do PICARD 3 in various ways...

Or in the Spray Booth at Kounting Kustoms...

Not exaggerating so much is a bit easier.  It is also easy to be unkind, exaggerating the wrong features. 

I so admire MORT DRUCKER's work.   Always great likenesses and not unkind. 

I spent part of yesterday doing pencil/ ink/ erase pencil/ scan/ put in gray background cartoons. But during penciling I did about 6 different versions of each face.  The one with the best likeness, I then redrew and finished. Interestingly, the RICK BEATO colored pencil sketch above was the 1st attempt.  I couldn't do that live sketching at a party some artists make a living at.  I had one done in Las Vegas once of me, and it doesn't have a very good likeness, even if all the features are right. Getting that magic is not easy.  

These recent ones are practice and just drawn on cheap A4 COPY PAPER.  Used these wonderful tools. The 2B 0.5mm mechanical STAEDTLER 925 25-05 is awesome, as is the Zebra brush pen 😍😍
The SEED Radarknock pen styled eraser is good too. 

I have a few books on the subject, but even in those, not all likenesses have the "magic" I am after. 

I always thought a rough sketchy look is easier, and what some political cartoonists do, but then I also wonder, do they do it that way because they can not actually draw?

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Google "Bait & Switch", YouTube: Pay To Pay

I previously wrote a blog post on my last 10 years of Google organic search and our website.  The summary of that is the findability of our website, and the fall in AdSense revenue was algorithmically controlled by Google.  At first Adsense was paying our site hosting fees, but that lasted only a few years. I haven't accumulated enough for a payout now in something like 5 years.

I can assume that if I had started paying for website promotion, the fall off in findability would have been different.

I also previously did a blog post on our YouTube channel. I originally was getting ad revenue, and reasonable view, but every so often Google changed, the number of views, and the hours watched, until I didn't qualify any more, and our channel became almost unfindable. Anything posted since 2016 is now only seen by a few friends.

This recent post from Fran on her channel goes into the same kind of details, and shows the latest incarnation of Googles ongoing "bait & switch" where it looks like if you aren't now paying to promote your channel, you aren't getting the revenue you had 12 months ago with the same views, hours watched, and everything else the same.     

Looks very much the same thing I saw with our website , AdSense and promotion.  Same old, same old. 

Facebook has had "PROMOTE your post or else no one will see it" for years now. Twitter is now, similarly, "unless you pay $8 a month, none will see your posts".  So the Google is doing the same thing.  No surprise there. The "do no evil" guys left the building years ago.

I got off the YouTube roundabout in 2016, and didn't bother even trying to keep up with their changing requirements for monetization.  

It is a shame though that such a video media channel is being crippled like Twitter and Facebook have been.  

The main thing for me is that this supports what I had already seen myself. I hadn't imaged it all.  With  the ongoing changes, so few will see any videos I post on my channel.  

I ask myself "is it really worth the effort to me to make a video if only 10 people will ever see it?". The answer to that has to be, "I make a video because I want to see it, and views by others are nice, but aren't important". 

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology