capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
floofy heart face

[Image description: a computer-drawn image of an imaginary beast with a wingless bird-like body covered in bright, multi-colored fur, a horse like head with small pointed ears, a heart-shaped spot on its cheek, and a single s-curved horn, and a long, lizard-like tail. description ends]

…I made my coffee way-ay-ay too strong, this morning. And I’m worried for my worried U.K. friends. Today is not the day to undertake the frustrating task of trying to figure how to make a custom template in Open Office.

So I drew a friendly, floofy, happy, monster, instead.
capriuni: half furry, half sea monster in wheelchair caption: Monster on Wheels (Monster)
A few years ago, I came up with the monster design in the icon above this post for a specific boy, and put it on a tee-shirt for him (in the hopes that it would fend off doting adults who wanted to pet him, and call him a "Little Angel!").

Well, recently, I got a hankering for my own monster, that fits my personality. And this is what I came up with:

Loose pencil sketch of a bird monster in a motor chair
(Picture description: A loose pencil sketch of a one-legged bird monster in a motor chair, facing the viewer, with a flower growing out of her head)

It's still rough. I think, in my finished version, I'll give her the same pose as the monster above -- that is: with the chair in profile, and the creature's face turned toward the viewer. This would make the wheelchair more instantly recognizable (thanks to the international access symbol), and, to be honest, a heck less complicated, perspective-wise.

At first, because I have such a strong affinity with spiders, I thought to give her spider-like legs. But as I was drawing them, I got a visceral feeling that that was not me -- my hands are very much human!

...I don't think I'd have realized that if I hadn't tried to do something radically different...
capriuni: A shaggy, teardrop-shaped monster . waving at the viewer, with text: "Hello" (hello)
Okay. So those who've known me for a while, know that I am a proud supporter of Team!Monster.

A recap for those who are new here: )

Anyway, I love drawing monsters, and coming up with new combinations of creature features that surprise and amuse me. And when [ profile] naarmamo rolls around, I let myself go to town.

This year, as I was drawing this creature:
I started out thinking I was drawing a monster version of a bird, because I was giving it one hind leg, instead of two, and giving it two more "legs," in a 'wrong' place, instead of wings.

But as I continued, I started thinking about how an animal might have evolved to have a single hind leg, and what sort of tail it would need to jump efficiently. I therefore, now, think of this being as an alien creature -- something that fits well somewhere in its native world (however, it seems to be carrying Earth!flowers, so maybe whether you're a "monster" or not depends on context).*

And then, I drew this one:
At first, I thought I was drawing an alien being, with a body structured like a sort of muscular amoeba, that can extend "limbs" and appendages at will... But as I continued, I couldn't figure out how its permanent, bony horns and teeth fit within its usual biology... So now, I'm thinking of this creature as a monster -- who would be a monster within its own world, as well.

And then I got to thinking: could there be a culture, human or otherwise, with no idea of, or need for "Monstrousness"? Could there be an alien way of thinking, that was not built around constructed, distinct, categories of things?

In any case, I think main the reason I'm proud to be on Team!Monster is that those of us who don't fit well within existing systems are in unique positions to fix what's broken about them -- or not, depending on spoons. But regardless, I think a world without monsters must be incredibly dull and lifeless...

*And isn't it ironic that I am now trying to categorize the uncategorizable?
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)

This is a doodle-monster -- a creature I made up as I went along (or rather, which I started to make up after my planned beak turned out looking like a human nose). I realized I didn't leave room for a tail... and then realized some cats are bob-tails... So there you go...

At first, I wanted to avoid drawing a flower for it to look at, because flowers are too twee. But then I decided to "embrace the twee"*. I can't decide if it's a tiny monster, or humongous flower.

*does that make me a twee-hugger?

...I'll get my coat...
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
So, this is definitely a creature I want to put on Zazzle merch over at my store (Chimer(i)gons), but as I said on Thursday, I didn't think he was ready for prime time... Scanners being what they are, and computers not seeing outlines the way the human eye does, it was difficult to scan the image I'd drawn and make it clear, rather than muddy, and distinguished from the background.

So I went over it again, in pencil, and fiddled and filled in blank spots, and got the whole thing generally darker and heavier. Then, after that redone image was scanned, I selectively deleted all the bits I saw as background, and then added highlights with my photo editor's "Brush" feature, and then, lightened the whole thing up again, and was finally satisfied with this:

long necked monster, black and white

Then, I noticed my photo editing program had a "colorize" feature, so I decided to experiment with that, too.

Two more versions of the image: 'fully' colorized, and 'partly' colorized )
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
[Cross-posted from my reply in [ profile] naarmamo]:

Today, I was in the mood for some soft, pencil-smudge drawing. ... But I couldn't decide if I wanted to draw a simple geometric shape, or a monster. So, I... um... did both:

Little Rolly Monster

I called it "Little Rolly Monster," but really, I suspect that it moves more like an amoeba -- but more rubbery, and less watery (if that makes sense).

This picture was altered by clicking "Auto enhance" in my photo editing program...

Additional notes, not included in the community post:

1) When traveling, this creature may also sprout (extend) a pair of slightly pointed ears -- like a husky pup's.

2) I should warn you that that mouth is full of fangs and sharp teeth...

3) This is an icon waiting to happen, isn't it?
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
Another cross-post from [ profile] naarmamo:


Two, today, to start catching up on my missed days -- both done free-hand in ballpoint, because I couldn't quickly find a pencil that wasn't a stub.
And today's theme is "Disability Pride."

Ever since Na'Ar'Ma'Mo '10, I've adopted monsters as my personal metaphor for disability -- as I explain in this post from February of last year: On Monsters: Stigma, Shame, and the Medical Model of Disability. But the problem with making any and all monsters a symbol of disability, is that it still reduces "Disability" to a symbolic lesson for the "normals" (Irony quotes).

And then I remembered an aphorism in Disability Culture: "If you're lucky to live long enough, sooner or later, you will be disabled." And, remembering all those stories where dragons defeat hundreds of knights before finally being defeated, themselves (only the dragons that get killed make it into the human stories), it occurred to me that it would be very unlikely that they live their entire lives unscathed. So I give you "Survivor" -- the one-eyed, amputee, dragon:

(not exactly happy with the empty eye socket)

ETA: Oooh! Just had an idea: When a Fire-breathing dragon "licks its wounds," would that instantly sterilize and cauterize said wounds -- thus making it less likely to die from infection and blood loss? Thus, making it more likely that a dragon could survive in a prolonged, disabled, state, than, say, a wounded stag (or even human)?

This second one is a sketch for how I wish pitchers and jugs where designed, to make them easier to pour out of with greater control, and less strain on the wrist and forearm:

pitcher idea
(I drew the side view twice, because I wasn't happy with my first attempt at the handle -- the dots are where the ink bled through from yesterday's heart)
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
So -- just now, for want of something to read, I went back to that Griffin / Gryphon / Grype page I linked to, earlier:

The neat thing about the pages at is that most of the content is compiled of translated literature from the period. And that's how I found this passage, which is (at this moment, at least) my favorite description of gryphons as animals (Aelian, On Animals -- Second Century C.E., Greek):

I have heard that the Indian animal the Grupa (Gryphon) is a quadraped like a lion; that it has claws of enormous strength and that they resemble those of a lion. Men commonly report that it is winged and that the feathers along its back are black, and those on its front are red, while the actual wings are neither but are white. And Ktesias (Ctesias) records that its neck is variegated with feathers of a dark blue; that it has a beak like an eagle's, and a head too, just as artists portray it in pictures and sculpture. Its eyes, he says, are like fire.

Ooh -- "eyes like fire" -- could that be feline (i.e. lions') "eye shine"?

I mean: Dude! That level of detail is worthy of a description by John James Audubon...

(Other sources on that page say gryphons are native to the northern region of Europe, and are the size of wolves... could there be several species of gryphon?)
capriuni: half furry, half sea monster in wheelchair caption: Monster on Wheels (Monster)
I've always loved monsters, for nearly as long as I can remember.

Actually, I should qualify that: I'm not fond, at all, of the "Hollywood monsters," such as zombies, or "The Thing from the Black Lagoon" or "The Blob" -- which are, imnsho, blatant representations of abject fear-without-thought, and show up in stories to justify unjustifiable bigotry. But I've always loved the heraldic monsters:

Unicorns (Note Well: they are not just sparkly ponies with a horn. And they do not poop rainbows), Dragons, &hearts Gryphons &hearts, Greenmen, and of course, the monster of my Astrological Sun-sign: Sea-goats

For most of that time, I just thought they were nifty because they were -- "fancy" (?), and they represent the "magical impossible," and are manifestations of the imagination, and creativity... All good stuff. But I never gave them much more thought beyond: "Nifty, Neat-O! Keen!"

Then, a few years ago, for [ profile] naarmamo, I was overcome with a desire to draw new monsters of my own invention, several days in a row... like some sort of biological urge, or something.

And the geeky part of my brain thought: "WTF is up?! What is a monster, anyway? What, after all, is the basic definition?" And that's when I found the etymology, of "monster" being a "creature, human or livestock, with birth defects, and seen as a bad omen, and sign that the gods were angry."

And from that point on, monsters became a political statement for me, representing Disability Pride, Culture, and History, and the fight against Ableism/Disablism -- on top of being a manifestation of creativity and imagination. ... And here, I could mount an argument that creativity and the use of the imagination is an essential part of Disability Culture, because when Society makes a concerted effort to deny you access (because it views you as a monster) you have to be creative, to make a way of living for yourself where none is given to you.

(but really, that's for another post).

Then, the other day, when I posted the newest image of my newest monster,* [personal profile] pebblerocker commented that she loved the "joins" -- where feather meets fur and fur meets scales. And there was the "ding-ding-ding!" of realization, and third leg in the three-legged stool of my monster-love popped into place.

Back in my first years of my college education, I took a literary survey course called "Comedy, Wit, and Humor" (it was awesome; it was once a week, three hours long, and we got to watch Richard Pryor videos and tell dirty jokes in class). And the one thing from that class which has stuck with me over the last 30 years is this:

The punchlines of jokes work because the human mind can only follow one line of logic at a time. The main "body" of the joke tells a story along a certain line of logic, and in standard narrative fashion, the emotional tension builds to a climax. Then, the "punch" line comes in, from a completely different logical direction and knocks that emotional tension "ass-over-teakettle," revealing all our fears and worries to be nonsensical. And in that release of tension, we laugh. (And that may be why so many people say a compatible sense of humor is the most important trait in life partners -- your sense of humor reveals how you are likely to respond to life's ambiguities. Personally, I will never trust anyone whose humor tends toward causing pain or belittling another's intelligence).

The joke that was given as a model of this formula (as I remember it), was this: )

Anyway, [personal profile] pebblerocker's comment flicked on the light bulb that monsters do this, too. The point where the goat's front half grows from the fish's back half, or the Green Man's beard grows as foliage instead of hair, is like the punchline of a joke: the moment when the logic of the world-as-we-know-it gets turned on its head.

This can be the moment of terror (especially if you are the Archbishop of Seville, and all the comfort and power in your life is built on the world-as-we-know-it), but it can also be the moment of laughter (which Jim Henson, in his genius, understood instinctively, if not intellectually).

And that's why I Heart Monsters: In one package, they represent:

1) The sublime reaches of Human Creativity
2) Righteous Anger against human cruelty
3) The ultimate life-saving power of the Absurd

*it's here, behind the cut )
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
Though this isn't actually a "new monster" -- just my new take on it -- this one actually appears in the "canon" of traditional folklore -- Baba Yaga's House (though I'm pretty sure the original was less "20th Century Suburban" than this):

Baba Yaga House
A ballpoint pen and pencil sketch of a small house with a crooked chimney walking on a pair of giant chicken legs -- After the witch "Baba Yaga's" house from traditional Russian folklore.

I wanted to draw a "mechanical monster," that had a geometric body type (as a counterpoint between yesterday's "long and pointy" and "dumpy and soft") but I also wanted to draw something organic/biological in shape, and I remembered this house -- the most surreal detail of European folklore I've ever come across...

Here, have a page of Google results for how other people have imagined it (I love the folks who actually figured out how to build such a house to live in... If only the house could be made to sit down, so someone who can't climb stairs could come inside).
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
So I didn't want to waste the first time I've felt alert all day by going to sleep. I will go to sleep right after this post, though.

Because it's been so hot, and my computer is so old, I turned off my computer and tried to do something unplugged with my time.

And lo! I drew things:

Here, there be monsters )

I may be asking for name suggestions in the not too distant future...
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
The other day, I posted (what I thought) was the last poem in this cycle.

But, frankly, I was unhappy with the happy ending I gave it:

And I find a path, and there, the root:
That "Monster," once, meant "Warning from the gods"
This fear's unveiled, and like a ghost, it fades.

First, simply defining "monster" as "warning" does nothing to make clear why I feel a strong personal connection to the word (especially if this piece is to stand on its own).

And, second (and more important), that ending is a lie. As much as I would wish it, the fear doesn't fade. I, and my companions of the abnormal, have to deal with it over, and over and over again, every time we go out into the world, and it's a fear that has real, painful, consequences for our lives. Also, I did not want to leave the casual TAB reader at any place where: "Oh, good. She'll have a happy ending, I don't have to worry about her (or people like her)" is a reasonable reaction.

So, I went back and finished up my original closing poem idea (which I initially abandoned because it was a radical chance of voice):


There are no monsters underneath the bed
(Or so they say). They say there never were.
And when a baby's born with half an arm,
No chanting priest foretells the death of kings.
Today, we know the scientific truth
And we've outgrown those silly, antique tales

(Or so they say). And yet, we're all afraid.
There's something churning underneath our feet.
This modern world is bursting at the seams,
And All agree that Order must be Kept.
We've turned to science, and learned ten thousand ways
To know just who is normal and who is not.
We raise our funds, we look for cures, invent,
And teach the child to wear a plastic hand.
And though we know it's fiction, we still cheer
The knight's triumphant ride, returning home;
At last, the dragon's dead, and now hear heart
Is safely bundled in his handkerchief.
The monsters must not ever win the fight.
We only let them try, to prove who's right.

This is a good #5, as an answer to #4, which brought up the fallacious thinking of ancient philosophies (but we don't think that any more! -- yeah. But... no). And also, it's uncomfortable enough to make the reader squirm and (maybe) question their own thinking.

But still, you know me. I hate to stay in a place of bitterness for very long, for my own well-being, if nothing else. And I thought the reader deserved some sort of "author's note" as to why this whole series was written, in the first place. But first, I had to figure out how to end it in a truthful way, that gives a bit more meaningful context.

... That was yesterday's big project. This is the result.


In looking down upon my naked self:
My lap, my scars, my hands, and crooked feet,
My posture's slant, my elbow's inner bend,
I sometimes wonder what it means to see.
This looking at myself from where I am
Is not at all like looking at a rock.

The words that echo through my memory
In all the languages I've heard (or seen):
Like forest leaves that shift in every wind,
Their shadows hide -- disguise -- the things I see.
It's through this tangled forest I must go
To find my truth, and know just what I am.
And then: one word. It catches like a thorn.
And though it stings, I trace its twisted growth.
I find a path, and there I find the root:
That "monster," once, meant "creature born deformed,"
(Somewhat like me?), "a warning from the gods--"
One shadow pierced. This light can answer fear.
And here's the fruit: it's heavy -- rich with seed.
I'll plant one for myself, and start anew.
capriuni: Illustration of M. Goose riding a gander; caption reads: Beware the magic of words (mother goose)
Freshly minted -- as of seven minutes ago -- the mold's barely been cracked.

I'll come back later and revise.


In looking down upon my naked self:
My lap, my scars, my hands, and crooked feet,
My posture's slant, my elbow's inner bend,
I sometimes wonder what it means to see.
This looking at myself from the where I am
Is not at all like looking at a rock.

Remembered words -- they echo in my thoughts --
In all the languages I've heard (or seen).
Like forest leaves, they sway in every breeze,
And cast their dappled shadows through my mind.
It's through this tangled forest I must go,
To find my truth, and know just what I am.
And then: one word amid ten thousand words
It catches, like a thorn, with sharp intent.
Although it stings, I trace the tendrils back,
And find a path, and there, the root:
That "monster," once, meant "warning from the gods."
The fear's unveiled. And like a ghost, it fades.
And here's the fruit: it's heavy -- rich with seeds.
I'll plant one for myself, and start anew.
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
One thing I learned in high school math (besides the fact that I prefer learning math outside of school), was that it takes plotting three points before you can be certain of your line. It wasn't until I finished up the third poem that I recognized the connections I'd already made between them, in the form of recurring motifs. This one starts off at the point almost at the end of the last one, right before the closing couplet ("So our identities, are fragile, caught/Between what's in our dreams and what's been filed."); I wanted to be clear that I meant the complex, shadowy dreams of our subconscious, and not the saccharine substitute for "fondest wish," So that's where I began.


Just as a rowboat scrapes the pebbled beach
I drift back from my sleep to feel the bed.
Receding like the tide, just out of reach,
A dream slips, half-remembered, from my head.
The nightly riddle posed, always the same:
It asks me who I am, beyond my name.

The question's asked again out in the crowd
Reflected in a stranger's troubled glance,
As though I were an insult spat out loud:
A portent for the fickle whims of Chance.
Philosophers in centuries long past
Wrote cunningly and well of God's good plan:
Which creatures were the first, and which the last,
The proper rank and order meant for Man.
And creatures (like myself) who can't belong?
{We were the curly brackets of their set}
To demonstrate, by living, Right from Wrong,
So all remember God, and not forget:
A belief that's set in stone, or so it seems...
Although it cracks, a little, in my dreams.

[Edit: I bet the middle quatrain of the main part seems like a non sequitor to anyone outside my brain, huh? Let me try a fix -- How about:

Philosophers of centuries long past
Wrote cunning answers all about God's plan:
Which creatures were the First, and which the Last,
The proper rank and order meant for Man.

capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
I was never exactly happy with this particular poem (I still think The second poem is the best, so far). But today's entry at "Rolling around in my Head" (blog): really brought home how unhappy I was with it, and more important, why.

So I wrote it over from the beginning, this afternoon:


Protected from the mainstream's quickened pace,
We're gathered here like flotsom in the weeds
United just by coming to this place:
"The Campus Registry for Special Needs"
As different from each other as from those
Who tell us where to sign, and where to go.

We know that we are lucky to be here,
And neither locked away, nor even dead.
And yet, in spite of Love, we still have Fear:
The knowledge: "I'm a monster" in our heads.
We're set apart, like coins in some machine --
Been counted, sorted, "valued," all our lives.
We've felt the stares of pity: cold and keen,
And yet, the pity rises in our eyes.
For we, as well, have learned what elders taught
On how to know an Adult from a Child,
So our identities are fragile -- caught
Between what's in our dreams and what's been filed.
We wait together in this quiet hall;
We glance. But do we see the Truth... at all?
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
Here's a video for the first poem in my "Monster Challenges:" series; thanks to [ profile] scarfman for his suggestion to add music...

capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
Has it really been over a month since I last posted for this mini, two person, meme? Eeep! I've not given up on it. Really, here's proof:

Monster Poem #1 (revised from its first posting here, on March 31st) )

Monster Poem #2 (Slightly revised from when it was first posted here April 4th) )

And finally (for now), poem #3 (\o/):


"The Campus Registry for 'Special Needs'"
(Protected from the mainstream's quickened pace):
We're gathered here like flotsom in the weeds
United, simply, by coming to this place.
As different from each other as from those
Who tell us where to sign, and where to go.

Some Deaf, some blind, "mobility impaired" --
No two needs the same for getting by.
We know the pain, and try hard not to stare
But in the face of Difference, we are shy.
We know that we are lucky to be here,
And neither locked away, nor even dead.
And yet, in spite of Love, we still have Fear:
The knowledge: "I'm a monster" in our heads.
For we, as well, have learned what elders taught
About what makes a Man, and makes a Beast,
And our identities, in Limbo caught --
Put us on shaky ground, to say the least.
But we are here, and will be here again --
Perhaps becoming allies -- even friends.

(I'd decidedly "Meh..." about the closing couplet -- it's bordering on the too-cozy-sentimental. But I can't think of any better conclusion at the moment)

For now: Dinner Time!
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
I've had a breakthrough (aka: I gave myself a break... or two: slight change of form, big change in viewpoint):


The day is warm, the playful breeze is light;
The sun (just like a lover at the gate)
Has called the flowers out -- and you, as well --
So even mundane tasks are pleasant things.

And then, you see the shadow in the crowd:
A monster in the corner of your eye.

An insult made of flesh and bone -- obscene!
Worse than any word or gesture, this:
Audacity in daring to exist:
Denying everything you've learned to know.

And you are Good. You've learned what elders taught.
About what makes a Man, and makes a Beast,
And how to tell an Adult from a Child,
And how to keep your own place in the world.

The monster in the crowd has moved away.
The shadow that it cast remains behind;
It's lodged there, in the corner of your thoughts --
A seed that's far too dangerous to sprout.

But you are Good. You take this as a test,
Enclose what's Wrong in pity, and move on.
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
Such a variety of things I meant to post today. But this is what my mind kept returning to.

Still reading... still seeing links between Monster Theory and Disability ... Something.

Today's half-paragraph:


Similarly, Cohen has argued that the monster refuses “to participate in the classificatory “order of things”” and provides a significant challenge to binary systems of hierarchy, creating a need to re-evaluate concepts of order. He states that “the monster’s destructiveness is really a deconstructiveness: it threatens to reveal that difference originates in process, rather than in fact (and that “fact” is subject to constant reconstruction and change)” A keyword in this quotation, however, is ‘threatens’, since a monster such as the medieval dragon maiden may point towards artificial boundaries and ideas of order but she is never allowed to break them down. This limitation on her monstrous character is brought on by the context in which she features, as some medieval thinkers may have doubted the waythe world was ordered but they did not doubt that there was an order to the world. The truth was, as it were, out there and it was up to the human to try and understand it.


{Meanwhile: the Chorus in my Head makes the following comment}

Of course the Human is the only one allowed to decide what Right and Proper Order is: It's whichever Order that puts that Human on Top.

(In the meantime, I'll be in the back, rooting for the monster. One of these days, she's bound to break through!
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
So, in this comment thread, [personal profile] spiralsheep and I happened to come up with a writing "duel," where we would each write a poem (or story) in a Cycle. This is poem that came to me today, to fulfill the first part of the Cycle.

[And for those of you readers at home, who are following along with your Isidore of Seville's Monster Classification Scorecard, the Monster in this poem (the poem's narrator) would most likely be classified as Category 6 (Mixture of human and animal parts [or natures]) or Category 9 (Born with Disturbed Growth)]

Part One of the Cycle: The Monster Challenges the Boundaries

You stand there, with my file in your hand:
A long white coat beneath fluorescent light.
Your voice is measured, your expression, bland
To thinly veil the arrogance of Might.
With scientific words, you speak your part;
Your glance betrays a superstitious heart.

As though I were not even in the room
(And near enough to catch stale coffee breath),
You lay out (for my mother) all the doom
Of raising such a daughter so bereft.
For I will never walk as humans can:
Upon two legs, and tall, across the Earth.
With crutch tips as my hooves, I'll cross each span
In trotting gait, because of star-crossed birth.
With practiced stroke and swiftly moving pen
(Just as you've done with other children's lives),
You mark me down as something less than "Man."
To fit me to a list that you've contrived.
You circumscribe my life in dark blue ink.
My flesh and mind are mapped (or so you think).


capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)

May 2017



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