March 26, 2008

Holy Cash Cow, Batman!


I just read this article about the money that has been raised and spent by the presidential candidates.

And I feel just a little bit sick.

Maybe I'm just some sort of pinko Commie.

"Between January 2007 and February, the candidates raised a record $814 million. By the end of this month, analysts expect the total taken in and spent by the candidates and interest groups will reach $1 billion."

$1 billion dollars.

That's a "1" with nine zeros behind it. (Right?)

$1 billion dollars.

"While they were careful not to criticize the American political process, people in some aid organizations mentioned other possible uses for so much money."

May I ask why the heck they weren't being critical?

Good grief!

"'An additional $150 million could ensure that 10 million girls could receive a quality education. An additional $150 million could help make pregnancy and safe delivery available for 30 million women in 10 countries,' said Deborah Neuman, senior vice president for resource development at CARE."

I'm a Communist pig. I know.

I'm just amazed.

Oh, here's some worthy causes to send your money to, if you feel led:

Compassion International

Feed My Starving Children

Salvation Army

Yes, I appreciate the American political situation. It's one of the, if not THE, best in the world.

But I see numbers like that and I just start thinking like, well, the people they interviewed for the article.

Imagine if that kind of money was applied to organizations like the above.

~ Ben

March 25, 2008

"Fair and Balanced"


In my two posts about politics (I Said I Wouldn't Get into Politics and Best Quote of the Election Season), both were picking on Senator Clinton.

I hereby promise that if I post about politics again, it will be to pick on someone else. Maybe McCain. He's GOT to do SOMETHING to pick on. Besides being old. I mean, really Letterman? Leno? Your writers have got to get tired of that bit soon, right?

~ Ben

I Said I Wouldn't Get into Politics . . .

. . . but . . .

There are some things that have been frustrating me about the political situation here in the States right now.

I'm not going to talk about those things.

It's "politics as usual."

But I found this funny. So this I'm going to talk about. Because it's funny to me.

During a speech about Iraq, Ms. Clinton said about a trip to Bosnia: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

Now, the video I'm posting here contains graphic footage of that landing in Bosnia.

It is not for the faint of heart. Nor for those who value things like honesty or, at the least, good memory.

Okay, okay. I know. I know. While she was giving that speech she found herself exaggerating to make her point, whatever that point may have been. Her campaign people later said she misspoke and she said: "I went to 80 countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things — millions of words a day — so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement."

While the Obama people said it was a deliberate exaggeration.

I just find it very amusing how different the exaggeration and the video footage actually were:

It's politics. Use your words to manipulate/persuade the people. If you can show me a politician who has never done this, I'll be amazed. So there's no surprise. This one just happened to be caught on tape.

~ Ben

March 24, 2008

"The Lie that Tells the Truth"

I was recently reminded of this article that I wrote last year for an art exhibit in Calgary.

A lot of it is me exploring my attitudes about art and why it is important.

Here it is:

“Art is the lie that tells the truth.”

-- Pablo Picasso

If you’ve ever spent any time studying art, you probably have come across the famous (infamous?) painting by René Magritte entitled “La trahison des images” (“The Treachery of Images”). It is a picture of a pipe and underneath the image are the words “Ceci n'est pas une pipe”. (“This is not a pipe”)

Of course it isn’t. Any three year old can understand that.

And yet, what we are supposed to think on in that highbrow manner is that the picture is a representation of a pipe. (Although, I’m more curious about why he chose a pipe. I mean, did he paint that pipe first and then decide, “You know, this is NOT a pipe.” Or did he say, “I think I’ll make an artistic statement about art that will echo down the halls of art analysis for decades -- and the best way to do that is a pipe.” But that’s just me.)

The artist himself commented about how his painting of a pipe could not be stuffed with tobacco and such. As realistic as the painting may be, it will NEVER be a pipe, barring some sort of Twilight Zone-esque miracle.

Again, this is obvious, but bear with me.

Instead, in looking at the painting, one is looking at a statement the artist makes about the world. This is where the truth comes in.

In Magritte’s case, he made a statement that said, “This is not a pipe.” And that’s the truth. And the Truth.

Yes. I added a capital “T”. Again, bear with me.

You see, I believe that all art is a lie. Because art cannot represent reality. It can only reflect the artist’s perception of reality.

The artist’s truth.

And in that, the Truth.

I believe in an absolute Truth. How can conflicting statements BOTH be true? How can there be two truths that are in diametric opposition? I do not believe that we all have “our own truth”, rather I believe we all have our own perspective of Truth. I also believe that as long as I am looking through my mortal eyes and processing information with my mortal brain, I cannot hope to fully comprehend the Truth of the universe.

But I can get some glimpses. Where?


Art. The lie that tells the truth.

In art, we find an artist’s perspective of the world. The artist, when putting pen to paper or brush to canvass or fingertip to keyboard, is about to create a window into their view of the universe. And the artist cannot lie. The artist is completely incapable of lying. Because even in their lie there is a reflection of the truth.

If Magritte had titled his pipe painting “This Really Is a Pipe”, he would have been lying. But he would have been lying with the knowledge that it was not a pipe, and those who understood the lie would get a glimpse of truth.

The artist, in trying to lie, gives a view of the truth.

And a view of the Truth.

The artist cannot help it. That’s just the way of things. Even artists who are actively trying to make statements against Truth, in their own rebellion against Truth, are acknowledging Truth. Revealing Truth.

The Truth is revealed in the lie.

As a writer who believes in absolute Truth, I find myself drawn to other writers who believe in absolute Truth, C.S. Lewis is one.

C.S. Lewis loved the myths of the North. As an avowed atheist Lewis believed that God did not exist. (Then again, his first book -- a book of poetry called Spirits in Bondage -- comes off as a possible example of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” He spends much time exploring how God does no exist, but just in case he spends some more time exploring how ugly and evil God is. Oh, and Nature is beautiful and good.) Meanwhile, his good buddy J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Catholic had been trying to “evangelize” Lewis. (Much to the chagrin of many of Tokien’s fans, the writer of The Lord of the Rings was a VERY religious man who believed in God. And Jesus. And good and evil. And sin.)

One evening, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were discussing myth. Lewis said, “. . . if I met the idea of a god sacrificing himself. . . I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it,” as in the tales of Balder, Adonis, and Bacchus, but of course they were not true. Tolkien, surprisingly, disagreed, saying he believed “myths, like everything else, originated from God, and they preserved, sometimes in a disguised or distorted form, something of God’s truth.”

The Norse myths, like all art, are lies. Obviously. And yet, they tell the truth.

In my own life I sang in a band called The Whispering Loons. The songs I wrote were about the evils and pain of love. They were angry and funny and sarcastic and, generally speaking, untrue. But that was the joke. And in the “lie” of “Buzzards of Love” and “Gold Digger” and “Manipulator” was a truth: that boy had never experienced real love.

The lie revealed the truth.

Incidentally, one of the partners in that band was an artist named David Zimmerman. Dave and I collaborated with each other by proxy. We fed each other creative energy: I, as a writer, drew on his creative energy to fuel my writing, and he, as an artist, drew on my creative energy to fuel his artwork. While we worked, many times on different projects, it was still collaboration as we pushed each other to grow and get better with each new artistic endeavor.

Together, as college students, and then as adult professionals, Dave and I learned about expressing the truth of the world as we saw it and explored finding Truth in our own work and other people’s. Dave’s work began getting less and less realistic and more and more symbolic. And yet, as he strayed away from photo realistic “truth”, his presentation of “Truth” became more potent.

As his artwork became more like a “lie”, it revealed more of the Truth.

“Art is the lie that tells the truth.”

If we truly want to understand the world around us, we must look in many places. In science, we find the mechanics of the universe. In art, we find the Truth behind understanding those mechanics:

Where the mechanics came from . . .

Who set it in motion . . .

And most importantly, what is our place in this celestial machine . . .

And now, if you will bear with me for just a moment longer, I’ve borrowed liberally from masters of art and writing, but I choose to end with something decidedly more lowbrow: “The truth is out there.”

~ Ben

Coolest Vehicle Ever

This thing is just awesome:

I'm going to save up the $77,000 it costs and then get me a plane ticket to Switzerland so I can attend the training course.

Perhaps I'll just put it on my credit card.

Seriously, though, this thing just rules. It's a luxury car on two wheels. It's Tron come to life. It just plain rocks.

~ Ben

March 22, 2008

Seasonal Comic -- Easter

Here's a short comic we did from a few years ago. The art is by my friend Darren Brady.

I like the "punchline" more than I should, perhaps . . .

Click here for:


I hope this story, which portrays Jesus' nature even as he faced some of the most brutal abuse a human body can take, helps you look at a well known story in a new way.

~ Ben

March 20, 2008

FREE COMICS from Wowio

Well, there's been some exciting things happening with some of my projects. They have been put online on the book website Wowio.

First, the newest thing:

TIMEPIECE, one of my first projects with Community Comics, is available as a free download from

Wowio is a free book downloading service that operates much like iTunes, except it's free. Be aware, there are some titles on that website that I do not endorse. However, there are some comics that I DO endorse. Let's take a look at some of them.

First, there's Hero TV.

Hero TV was created to be a free giveaway a few years ago. A couple years, and a couple thousand copies, later, we're finally getting it online. A follow up to this book has been in the works for a little while and is finally nearing completion.

Next up is the project that I was most excited about seeing FINALLY completed. The Thieves.

I've touched on this before, but it was a project that has been a couple of years in the making and I finally was able to get an artist who would do the story justice. I was very pleased with how well this turned out. It's the story of the thieves who were crucified with Christ. This is not available in print anywhere.

Next, there's Tempest.

Tempest is, in many ways, a companion to Timepiece. They both start with the letter "T", they both have two syllables in the title, they both were written by me, and they both were illustrated by multiple artists. While I'm a little embarrassed of Timepiece (it WAS one of my first comics and there are a few plot and dialogue elements I would love a chance to change), I am still proud of it. I feel Tempest, however, is one of my most personal projects to date. Both of them deal with similar themes, and both reflect me at the time they were written. Tempest, however, is the work of a writer who has honed his craft slightly.

Finally, here's Seven Seconds and a Dead Fish.

Yes, the title is odd but the book is wonderful. It's created by Jesse Hamm, a great artist with a unique vision.

So there's a brief glimpse through Wowio. Some are from people I think you should support, some are from myself and Community Comics. You may notice some of my other books on Wowio, and there are a few. If you just want to read them, go ahead. I'm proud of that work also.

~ Ben

March 3, 2008

"The Girl Can Fly" -- a stick figure graphic novel

I wanted to let everyone know that my first graphic novel is actually available for the public to look at, over at

If you go to my website here, you can see the introduction I wrote for the comic and it links to where you can read it.

"The Girl Can Fly" was the first sustained comic book I ever wrote. It was done for fun, and I gave it to my wife. (She granted me permission to show other people.)

I love this story.

So, yes, it was drawn with stick figures. But it tells a story. I like it. A lot.

The Girl Can Fly can be read here.

~ Ben

EDITED TO ADD: The story will be updated every Sunday to add the next 5-7 page portion. All told, it's 67 pages long.