Friday, November 18, 2022

From the Writer's Studio: The Artistic Struggle, Celebrating the 86,000th Gauntlet Page Visit, and Youtube Representation

Welcome to, or back to, the wicked yet angelic Gauntlet of Balthazar for a brief artistic update of sorts, and a quiet celebration of the 86,000th page visits this blog has experienced since its debut way back in October 2016.

Clearly updates here have become few and far between, and regardless of how many promises I've made that there will be more, it seems that I would need more than one Gauntlet (or more than two arms) just to keep up with how many projects are in the works at the moment. So I figured, why not divulge what's cooking in the kitchen, and what media is being manifested in tandem to this blog.

Generally speaking, pretty much all of the creative content and online media I've created, or have been a part of creating, has only come to fruition due to one overarching premise, which is: Put as many pokers into as many fires as possible, 'cuz there's no way of knowing which script, film project, promo, piece of music / music video, website, industry membership, or Youtube channel, will be the one that reels in that one powerful "white knight" who is capable of discerning the artistic gold mine of merit and marketability which has remained untapped, and that they can be the "tapper". 

Obviously I had recorded music and written short stories and articles going back to late childhood and though the 1980's, but I believe this process started in earnest in the early-to-mid-1990's as I settled into post-college life on the Upper West Side of New York City. At that time (and in addition to my day job), I was attempting to start a multi-media brick-and-mortar live international music performance venue while at the same time being part of a trio that was writing what I would later call "my first script". My interest in graphic art as well as playing and recording my own music (btw, I do have degrees in both art and music) was being further pushed to the background as these pursuits took its place, and so, like any other artist who is comfortable wearing too many hats but lacks the time, I embraced the process.

While the first couple of scripts ended up not being bought by Paramount, and the venue didn't come into existence, I quickly pivoted and convinced myself that my real best destiny was to write the next great American novel. But being who I am, this novel soon became a series of novels, and that became two series of novels which accounted for fifteen distinct books and novellas, and no shock - there were other books in the works as well. And so, around 2008 I started marketing my fiction writing, but once again to no avail, and after thousands of pitch letters to literary agents and publishers I still failed to establish that "golden relationship".

I must admit it was extremely frustrating putting the finishing touches on a book only have it just sit in my computer hard drive for only a few close friends and family members to read. But I convinced myself that this was no different than other businesses I had attempted to create not getting off the ground. It must have been that I was out of sync with the market, or that the market was out of sync with me. Perhaps I was a visionary - too far ahead, or maybe lagging behind what people were looking for "in the now". Perhaps I was too intellectual, or too moralistic, in a era defined by a general dumbing down and a pathological fear of judgment. But, this happened repeatedly.

For example, I would write an Epic Fantasy, and then Game of Thrones suddenly became a big hit, or even more disturbing, I would write about a global pandemic that isolated people emotionally, and then years later we would experienced an actual viral pandemic which isolated people emotionally in real life. Likewise a number of other ideas, and even the names of characters I created would suddenly be in a product in the marketplace - as if we were all channeling into the same God-Art source. Hmm. Still, no agents, producers, or distributors, were barking up my / our proverbial tree.

Starting in 2011-2012 the intellectual property company I co-founded - Nevekari Enterprises, started cranking out series and feature film scripts, and as a "proof of concept" we entered a number of them into screenplay competitions on global film festival circuit. I'm still very proud to say that in the 2015-2016 season we received over twenty winning and placing awards in such diverse genres as adapted drama, crime, suspense, spec scripts, and science-fiction. It felt good to know that we were competing not with the thousands who entered along with us, but really only the top 35%. Nonetheless, this confirmation bias feather in our cap once again failed to propel our holistically developed projects onto the big and small screen.

Thus, I realized, it must be my utter incompetence at marketing that was to blame. The "powers-that-be" just didn't know that I even existed, and I could not fathom how to change that paradigm. Hell, I still don't. 

Not possessing the resources to hire a great public relations firm, a marketing manager, or even dedicated employees, I ramped up the screenplay writing, but also increased my music output - which had come back around as we started creating short films as vehicles to feature our award-winning writing. After all, they needed score, right? Likewise, I pushed ahead by creating the Nevekari Enterprises Youtube Channel, Nevekari's website, and this blog, the Gauntlet of Balthazar - its name taken from an odd piece of "magical" technology featured in a Nevekari series called "Steam".

Anyway, older websites fell by the wayside, and content filled these outlets, never to gain amazing traction. I guess I just had to face it - no multiple million views or listens were coming our way anytime soon, and so at the very end of 2019, I kind of imploded. I had spent months editing a short film that even now has less than a thousand views on Youtube. I have to say that I find it incredible painful to know now first-hand that a huge percentage of able creators spend months or even years working on a project tirelessly, only to have viewers and listeners not even make it all the way through a short film or song without skipping ahead or bailing. Thanks Google Analytics. Ironically, I hear people complain all the time that the "big companies" have too much control of media and aren't doing a good job, but then they don't support the "little guy". It's the same with people talking a big game about supporting small American businesses, as they shop at Costco and order Chinese goods online. So much for patriotism.

Anyway, I digress...

Happily (I guess) my psychological implosion came just before I caught what I can only assume was the first wave of CoVid-19, and the lock-down's began. I must say that (aside from being ill for a couple of weeks) I was very happy at that time. It allowed me to take a break, hunker down and re-group, and bonus - no one would judge a lack of new content because everyone was on "pause". But, this couldn't go on forever, and soon I immersed myself in new projects, both in writing and music. This amounted to the release of nine digital albums, EP's, and singles on 391 & the Army of Astraea's Bandcamp page between October 2020 and October 2022. In addition to some script doctoring it also meant that fully developed Nevekari series such as the biblical drama-comedy "Abraham's Brother", the military sci-fi "Alpha One", and the hard sci-fi epic "Sovereignty" were either created or elaborated on with a number of episode scripts, series bibles, and pitch decks added to (if I do say so myself) their awesome pilots. 

With the completion of the series bible and fourth episode script of "Abraham's Brother" as well as the release of the 391 & the Army of Astraea Six-Track "Whiteface EP" that pretty much brings us up to today. However, this sadly brought me back to online representation. One might assume correctly that this blog might have benefited from some new content, or that the Nevekari Enterprises' Youtube channel, or Facebook page, or official website could have promoted some new content, but instead I looked to new projects, and soon came up with a Youtube Gaming channel - Traditionalist Gaming (featured here just in September), as well as revising Stubborn God Production's Youtube presence. The latter channel had been up for about six years with only minimal content, so I took it upon myself to to revise the page and add some new stuff, including Official Audio and Live Videos. I expect to continue adding content continuously from now on.

So what's coming up next? Well, new media avenues include one of my fantasy novellas; "The Song of Umeztad", landing as a print-on-demand / kindle product on Amazon (hopefully before the year ends), as well as the positioning of a 391 & the Army of Astraea Spotify Channel. These new endeavors by no means should be seen as a cause to diminish any new film and series scripts, or new and back-catalogue music releases - quite the contrary. I'm kinda in this for the long haul. 

I know this foray into the trials and tribulations of a "starving artist" might just be a little too dear and lengthy for some, and bonus - I offer no clear solutions, or even the usual tips on how to improve in your writing, but if you're weary of formulaic music churned out by what remains of the major labels and are equally revolted by films whose authors and producers are more interested in lecturing the audience instead of engaging them in meaningful ideas and compelling drama, I can't encourage you enough to support the work featured (or linked to) here.

So please visit the sites and pages via the links embedded below, and check out the slowly growing playlists, subscribe, hit notifications, like, and comment.

I really appreciate the support and interaction, and if you're an equally frustrated writer or film maker wrestling with the creativity vs. marketing quandary please share your feelings in a response. 

Also, my son has started his own gaming channel called Hellchange War Robots Gaming. It features similar content to my Traditionalist Gaming channel (same game), but as a young man with special needs I feel this might be a good outlet for him to explore, and who knows, maybe it could even be a career of sorts for him, so please check out his channel as well, and of course, like and subscribe. It would mean a lot.  

I will hopefully be back here soon with a writing / media review of Disney's Star Wars: Andor, which (spoiler alert) I quite like, so stay tuned, and as always - Till next time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

From the Recording Studio: "Whiteface EP" on New Release Tuesday 10/11/2022

Welcome to, or back to, the meek yet mighty Gauntlet of Balthazar for yet another New Release Tuesday featuring a 391 & the Army of Astraea audio release in the "From the Recording Studio" category.

Today's issue is a six-track Instrumental Extended Play "Maxi-Single" that has been asininely titled "Whiteface" (featuring, btw, a rare personal cover image - artistic though it might be). Musically the recordings combine Industrial (Whiteface Introduction), Classical Crossover (Whiteface Microsonata), Middle Eastern Modes (Bronze Age Collapse), Electronic (Tiger Lily), Jazz-Tinged Progressive Rock (The Day Before the Day After), and Italian Folk (Tarantella Opus 14 Number 8). Overall, it was written, recorded, and mixed, very swiftly over the end of summer, and particularly after the release of the last 391 & the Army of Astraea full-length album, "Five Year Plan".

Thematically, the content was mainly inspired by the uncomfortable history of objectifying (and often contradictory) notions of race and culture as presented in past and contemporary popular media. Obviously, "whiteface" is the inverse of the turn of the 20th century vaudevillian "blackface" phase of media-race history, yet, the fact that "whiteface" is a surreal concept, or could be thought of as far more "acceptable" than blackface, should be explored.

Likewise, the tracks address the simplicity of the black-white duality, as well as where "whiteness" ends, and ergo, is "whiteness" a cultural mask which so-called "off-white" people (i.e. Jews, other Middle Easterners, Italians, etc., and even sometimes Far-Eastern Asians), have been encouraged to don? This phenomena can be seen in images promoted in popular media such as shifting standards of beauty and the dominance of certain rhythms in musical trends. So, nose jobs, lip size, skin shade, and of course, the "africanization" of global popular music starting in the late nineteenth century.    

Admittedly, it seems like most of the recent Gauntlet posts have been music oriented, with not so much other content lately. But it takes a lot of time to conceive of new series and pen numerous scripts, in addition to working on music. But to summarize politics: Biden still is the corrupt figurehead of a party and people with good intentions who have no actual plan of how to make their internal notions of utopia manifest in reality without destroying the world (and villainizing their political opponents). Please people, do some math before you try to replace fossil fuel overnight! The ends do not justify the means if millions of people around the world freeze to death this winter. Likewise, supporting Ukrainian independence is not worth nuclear war, and we all know that. 

Anyway, I hope you give "Whiteface" a listen (the embed is below), and if you can, please follow 391 & the Army of Astraea on Bandcamp, check out previous releases, and share it with others who you feel might appreciate such fare.

Take care and stay free. Till next time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

From the Recording Studio: "Five Year Plan" on New Release Tuesday 09/06/2022

Hello...hello all, and welcome to, or back to, the cantankerous yet demure mighty Gauntlet of Balthazar for a very, very, special (and frankly long-time coming) “New Release Tuesday”, for, well, a new release in the “From the Recording Studio”, as well as the “Electronic Music Give-Away of the Day” categories here on the Gauntlet.

Today’s full-length album release is a 391 & the Army of Astraea recording titled “Five Year Plan”, and I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention up front that the album took from start to finish just short of three years to record and mix (not that it was the only artistic project being undertaken in that same time period). In synopsis I'd say that overall the twenty-one tracks contained on the album thematically and, heh, heh, "collectively", address the unbridled authoritarianism of the former Soviet Union, and by extension, all things Communist, Marxist, Socialist, and Totalitarian.

Admittedly, if you’ve even cursorily peered into the mysterious workings of the Gauntlet previously I’m sure you’ve noticed the anti-Marxist and anti-Far-Leftist bent of the site to be quite overt, but perhaps you assumed this bias was unfounded, or was based on an ignorance of those beliefs or their application. Well, let me address those errant contentions from the get-go. You see, aside from the fact that in my youth I was extremely enamored with the beautiful dream of a Socialist utopia before "waking up" in my early twenties, “Five Year Plan” endeavors to take a comprehensive (albeit musical) look at the totality of Bolshevik history – from the purge of the Mensheviks to the slaughter of the Romanov children...from the imprisonment of dissidents in arctic “re-education” camps to the deportation of the Kalmyks...from ethnic and religious bigotry being disguised as “revolutionary” to the invasive surveillance of the secret services...from top-down dictatorial rule to cold war politics and proxy wars, and from the premeditated causation of famine to government appropriation of private property, etc., etc., etc.

But this collection of tracks is more than just a philosophic testament to the "opposition stance" and the moral and economic insights of the likes of John Locke, Adam Smith, the Federalists, the Whigs, the Jeffersonian Republicans, other Classical Liberals of the Enlightenment, Anarcho-Libertarian Tea Party patriots, social-religious Conservatives, or even knee-jerk "Americanism". It is rather a musically diverse work that incorporates faux-classical, third-stream jazz, folk-traditional-world music elements, occasional improvisation, rampant mellotron use, dissonant tonalities and loping rhythms, film score elements, and perhaps an over-abundance of arpeggios, into an experimental, or avant-garde, industrial-electronic music infrastructure. From a title track which morphs into variant versions over the course of the album, to the haunting singer-songwriter tune "Utopia" - facetiously written from the perspective of a “true believer”, to a cold war-tinged Russian Tango, recurring Georgian Choral motifs, as well as ethno-typical Jewish and Karelian melodies - these elements all arrive at a quiet place where hints of the subtle influence of composers like Jerry Goldsmith, Modest Mussorgsky, and Russian Cabaret icon Alexander Vertinski, poke around in the underbrush. All in all, “Five Year Plan” just might be the most complex, diverse - yet unified, 391 & the Army of Astraea recording yet - barring the absence of a few more rock-based vocal songs (which I’m pretty sure will be forthcoming shortly – more on that later).

Anyway, if you do give “Five Year Plan” a try (the embed is directly below) I hope you find some enjoyment and elucidation in it, and if you do; I emphatically encourage you to support this cost-free aspect of the Gauntlet's art by listening through and following 391 & the Army of Astraea on Bandcamp, Though of course if you find it in your heart to download and donate to the cause that is very nice as well. Regardless, if you can, please share the page with others who you feel might appreciate it, and if you do head over to Bandcamp you can also find comprehensive liner notes for each track. So there's that.

Also, if you generally like what you see here, feel free to hit the Gauntlet follow button to the top right of the main page, and hold on patiently - there’s a lot more content (art, media and screenwriting critique, music, politics and philosophy) coming here soon, or kind of soon, and as always, till next time.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

New YouTube Gaming Channel

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the tech-saavy, yet luddite-inclined mighty Gauntlet of Balthazar. I know its been quite a long time since the last post here, but what can I say, the Gauntlet has been firmly stuck in the "on" position for the entire summer. However, as a result Nevekari Enterprises has a forthcoming new comedy series added to its burgeoning roster (scripts, series bible, and pitch deck - more on that later), and Stubborn God Productions has a new full-length 391 & the Army of Astraea album (coming out next Tuesday). So yeah, there's that.

But, as a well-documented glutton for punishment, I recently revisited a very old idea of starting a YouTube channel dedicated to my love of the online third-person shooter multi-player video game "War Robots". Now, I've been playing the game in my free time for the last few years, and as I've risen in the ranks, I thought it might be nice (particularly as a marketing "experiment") to see how a channel like that might perform, especially in contrast to the existing media that my various companies, including the Gauntlet, have thrown willy-nilly into the media landscape. 

The appeal of the game, at least initially, for my Gauntlet-ensconced fist, was that it was fun in a destructive way, yet there was no human-on-human violence like so many other games out there at present (such as Fortnite, etc.), and as crazy as it might be, I sort of feel that humans killing other humans, even in animated avatar form, is a symptom of a malfunctioning culture. Over time I was sucked into the in-game "arms race" of procuring newer, stronger robots, their pilots, updated weapons, additional armor, power modules, drones, Titans (Mega-Robots), orbital mother-ships all for the purpose of "maxing" them all out and leveling up through the leagues while learning the specific skills associated with each bot.   

Anyway, the name I've chosen for the channel is "Traditionalist Gaming", ('cuz I've been gaming since all there was to play was Atari's "Pong" console). I'm not sure if the content of the page will diversify over time, and at this point it's designed to only present War Robots game-play. On the channel itself the "about" description reads: "Traditionalist Gaming focuses on content generated from selected game-play of the War Robots Multi-Player Third-Person Shooter Video Game. Narration details the specifics of combat as well as making commentary regarding various aspects of the game such as robot attributes and abilities, their weaponry, game tactics, up-leveling, and general advice."  

So, if you have any interest in this sort of content I must emphatically encourage you to proceed to the channel page here, and if you see it fit - subscribe, click on notifications, like, share, and maybe even post in the comment section.

The channel trailer is embedded below. Enjoy! And as always - Till Next Time. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

From the Recording Studio: An Archival Release

Well hello there everyone out in Gauntlet-land, I know its been quite a while but, you know, life and stuff, and apparently screenwriting and mixing three albums at the same time takes up a bunch of time. But I digress...

Anyway, the Gauntlet has gone back on in order to announce a very special new release Tuesday, which features the first of three full-length 391 & the Army of Astraea albums set to debut on Bandcamp over the summer of 2022. 

Two of these issues are archival in nature, and this one, "Lost Tracks Found - Demo Recordings 1984-1996" is the first. It is a clear companion to "Stubborn God Productions - Working Backwards '84-'96"; which chronicled group and duet recordings made in the same period. But what makes this album distinct is that it features "solo performer" guitar & voice driven songs and instrumentals rather than electronics. 

Obviously these are era specific and much had to be done to create a uniform sound quality for the collection. Within reason the Gauntlet would describe the pieces as falling in the Post-Punk, Alternative-Rock, Folk-Rock, and Industrial-Rock genres. 

As always the player is embedded below, so, listen, enjoy, share if you can, and please follow 391 & the Army of Astraea on Bandcamp (and the Gauntlet here of course). 

Thanks so very, very much for supporting this aspect of my / our varied creative endeavors.

Till next time. 


Friday, March 18, 2022

Borders, Biden, Regional Wars, and the Coming Economic Upheaval

Welcome to, or back to, the intoxicating yet sober Gauntlet of Balthazar for some recent observations in the spheres of global politics and economics. 

Indeed, the Gauntlet has been (mostly) silent regarding the installation of former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden to the executive branch of the U.S. government in the wake of the 2020 elections. The Gauntlet made no statements regarding the hypocrisy of DNC media mouth-pieces framing a handful of unarmed Coors-light-drinking yahoos (cajoled by undercover Fed agents no less) as a legitimate threat to the nation after turning a blind, strike that, an encouraging eye, to month after month of literal urban chaos, dozens of deaths, and billions in property damage and theft - all in the name of so-called "racial equity", otherwise known as Marxism. Even to the most casual and uninformed this seemed exceedingly rich coming from a political party that was founded on a pro-slavery platform and standing against the largely abolitionist Republicans, and never balked from encouraging a good riot, even calling them "patriotic".

You might find it interesting to note that since the Democrat's emergence in 1832, almost every race and / or political riot that has ever occurred in the United States involved Democrats or their partners on the left and far left, and this went into high gear starting with the 1968 Democratic convention and hasn't stopped since. I'm pretty sure that it is exceedingly rare, unicorn rare, to find a Registered Republican involved in the Watts, L.A., Antifa, or any other acts of civil violence in the history of America. But I digress.

This might have been mentioned here before, but as a child I was raised with two very simple maxims that my late father repeated fairly frequently. He would say, with a pause implying a colon; Joe Biden: the stupidest man in America. This was inevitably always followed by, John McCain: the evilest man in America. While the first statement is very clear, the second goes on to frame the problem within the Republican Party, and that is, the existence of Neo-Con's. 

The left, which has just moved further to the left in the period of their cultural hegemony (revving up in the 1960's, dipping into Neo-Lib kleptocracy in the 1980's, and arriving with the dial turned up to "11" in the last few years), were quite content with Republicans who they could walk over and who generally agreed with them. They were, and are, amazingly unaware of the various factions at play on the right, and as the Gauntlet has propounded many times on this blog, the philosophic tension of U.S. political parties has always been an intra-party struggle on the right with the left-right conflict only supplying a media circus in D.C.

The debate goes back to 1789, when the law-and-order Federalist's under Adams and Hamilton came to blows with Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans and their libertarian leanings. Many current Democrats attempt to look to Jefferson for the philosophic antecedent of their party, but the Jeffersonian Republicans fragmented and many joined John Quincey Adam's Whig party. Eventually these sides of the same coin re-minted themselves the National Republican Party, and then the G.O.P., under Lincoln.

Over time the Democrats glomed ideas from all over the political spectrum, including the early Socialists, globalists, Eugenicists, Malthusians, and even some Republican thought, and after their debacle of starting a brutal Civil War that they lost, their operatives in the north desperately looked around for new constituencies. They found these eager voters in the ranks of Blacks who had moved out of the south and in "off-white" immigrant groups such as the Jews, Italians, Irish, Latinos, Asians, etc., and the party took on a Janus-like two face of representing racist Southern Democrats until the 1980's as well as Northern Democrats who positioned themselves as "White Knights" to protect minorities from "the man".

Yes, "the man". Who was this man? Surely this was a Waspy white boogie-man, but he was also a corporate overlord...a horrible capitalist who clearly exploited the down-trodden working class. And yes, in the 1980's I think we all (both left and right) kinda hated "the man". But, professional politicians quickly realized that by kissing up to "the man" this brought them lots and lots of money, and so the Liberals morphed into Neo-Lib kleptocrats, and the Conservatives became war-hawk Neo-Con's. Both embraced the deep state, and sold out American interests to foreign entities and Mega-Corps, and did their damnedest to keep the U.S. in so-called "endless wars". 

This situation might have gone on forever were it not for the emergence of the Tea Party and men like Andrew Breitbart; who reminded Conservatives about their roots in the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, and Whig Parties. The Republican Party started to change, kinda, but as the Republican base changed Neo-Con's like Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush (and his whole family), Liz Chaney, and a host of others, lost ground to Libertarian-Republicans like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and of course, Donald Trump. 

Even the most staunch anti-Trump liberal, or never-Trumper Neo-Con traitor, must now admit that aside from his "mean tweets", and an all-out media attack that lasted his entire term, the crap that is happening now would have never gone down on his watch. We now have an administration in power that controls the Executive branch as well as the House and Senate, and they have absolutely no idea of what they are doing, or maybe they do,  and just don't care about the collateral damage they're inviting on the road to their liberal utopia. 

So let's look at just what is going on. 

Let's not even get into Biden's botched Afghanistan withdrawal, his shitty fascistic Co-vid mandates, or the endless flood of illegals (and drugs) that cross the southern border every day, and let's just focus on the biggest problem - the U.S. dollar. You see, Biden has allowed the Federal Reserve to print money like it's going out of style. In fact something like two-thirds of all currency in circulation right now has been printed just in the last year. While that alone is a terrifying fact, debasing a currency only has one inevitable economic effect, and that is inflation. Currently the inflation rate is at 8%, and some analysts believe we will see double-digit inflation before long. This will bring gasoline to nine dollars a gallon, if not higher, and as Mr. Biden is convinced that we shouldn't have fossil fuel at all, he went out of his way to destroy the energy independence we possessed only two years ago. 

Ironically, since we don't possess the technology to fully replace the fuel economy, he now has begged OPEC, Venezuela, and his friends in Iran for oil rather than have U.S. companies pump it out of our own soil. While voters on the left turned a blind eye to his stupidity, his creepy touching of little girls, and his increasing senility, they wanted "kind grandpa" over "mean tweet orange-man", and voted a complete incompetent (and his equally incompetent friends) into office. I mean really, does anyone actual believe that this bozo got more of the Black vote than Obama did, twice. Yeah, let's go with that. 

Needless to say, the leaders of these countries won't even take his calls (how embarrassing!), and more over , Iran launched a missile at the U.S. embassy in Iraq, and the Prince of Saudi Arabia stated that he was considering selling oil to China in Yuan. Mind you, the last two leaders who suggested bumping the petro-dollar for some other currency were Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, and we know what happened there. 

Even though the U.S. accounts for almost a third of the Gross World Product, at this point the dollar is only holding on because it is the reserve currency of the world and oil is traded in petro-dollar. If that goes, it will go into a free-fall regardless of how many interest rate hikes the Fed puts into effect. 

Of course, these heads of state would never have tried this under a President like Trump, which of course brings us to what is going on in Ukraine and China. You see, the roots of Russia's invasion of Ukraine go back to the 2014 revolution in that nation which was backed by the Obama White House (and yes, Biden was the point man on Ukraine and shook them down for money), and even troops and missiles were placed in eastern Poland to Mau-Mau Putin at that time. The deal was simple all along, Russia wanted their Soviet-period nukes back, and the world promised Ukraine that if they disarmed we would back them up. As any proponent of the second amendment of the U.S. constitution would tell you, you don't give up your weapon and then discuss terms. The Armenians and Jews found this out the hard way. But once again, I digress.

Anyway, with the election of Zelenskyy the Ukraine started to make overtures to the west, and this made Russia very, very nervous. They had a hard enough time dealing with the fact of Ukraine not being part of their Empire, or Federation, or whatever, as it had been for a thousand years, but to have NATO troops a few miles from Moscow. No way. So, Putin's invasion was thoroughly expected. He clearly waited for Trump to leave office and for Co-vid to die down before he made his move. 

I should state here that I don't really have a dog in this fight, but obviously, if Ukraine could have remained an independent sovereign republic with no one dying that would have been ideal, but I can't help but feel that this was completely avoidable if managed properly. Spilled milk, I guess.

Many people were very concerned that the U.S. would go to war over this, but the Gauntlet knew that in the event of an invasion, Joe Biden would send a very pithily worded e-mail at best. And that is what he did. Putin was prepared for sanctions, and even the one's that went into effect don't really hit Russia where it hurts. Of course, China is standing by watching all this, fidgeting with their notion of taking Taiwan. 

With Trump's hands hog-tied by the House he could only help Hong Kong so much, but even so, Republicans were on the right side of the issues - backing up Hong Kong protestors, Uiyger concentration camp internees, and religious minority persecution in China, while the left...they kissed Chi-Comm ass via their "woke" corporate connections to Nike, Apple, Disney, and Amazon.

They have never expressed a concern that all of our essential goods - such as computer chips, energy transformers, and antibiotics, are all being exclusively produced in the east. Just imagine what would happen to the U.S. if the supply chain stopped and these items were unavailable. All the more reason to manufacture in America - which Trump was also pumping up and Joseph "Hey, man, I got an idea - let's give the technology to China" Biden is in the process of beating down. 

The correct response the day after the invasion should have been to move aircraft carriers into the South China Sea, and maybe knock out a missile installation in Iran, or perhaps flatten a site where they're working on nukes. But, with geniuses in charge like this, none of that happened.

I fully expect that Biden will further embolden Iran, and this will force Israel's hand to do something about it, ironically moving Israel and Saudi Arabia closer together. I mean, is it an accident that Trump had three Arab Gulf states sign historic peace accords with Israel - a fact that Jewish Democrat politicians should have some cognitive dissonance in acknowledging, if they weren't so possessed by ideological indoctrination and Trump Derangement Syndrome. 

When they're good and ready, China will probably attempt to take Taiwan, with some difficulty, and the world will look on  as "influencers" change their social media emojis to the Taiwanese flag, and latte liberals spend time telling each other that they "care, so very, very, much" about "the kids", as they cringe-chant "USA, USA" - lifted from actual patriots. 

Unless the U.S. pivots quickly we're in for a hell of a ride, but if I might take the Gauntlet off for a moment I would add that I see America as being in the throes of a cultural shift from the sixty-some-odd year domination of liberalism over our culture to a neo-traditionalist wave that will force the U.S. to "toughen up". History is cyclical and often the laxest times can lead the way to a more reserved culture. It happened in the shift from the Enlightenment to the Victorian Age in England, and it happened in the evolution of the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.

Don't fool yourself that it can't happen to the currently "soft" west.

In the end, if America is brought low, and manufacturing shrinks and the economy is devastated, we might very well end up like Russia (a gas station with nukes) for while, but this will inevitably lead to a more aggressive phase of our history in which our descendants will be forced to more pro-actively carve a niche out of the global order, by influence if possible, and by force if necessary. 

So, in that potential far, or near future, look out Venezuela. And Canada. And Greenland. And Northern Mexico. And Iran. And so on...

Till next time.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

From the Recording Studio: An Upcoming New Music Release Announcement

Welcome to, or back to, the redolent yet malodorous Gauntlet of Balthazar, for a brief announcement regarding the forthcoming release of a new full-length concept album by 391 & the Army of Astraea.

"Five Year Plan" (yes, that's the name of the record) has been in the works for the last couple of years, being attended to piece-meal in the spare time between other recordings, screenplay writing, and regular life "stuff". It features, Industrial, Electronic, Classical and Jazz-Influenced Soundtrack work, a Tango, various ethnic influences, and even Folk-Inspired songwriting elements that within reason kind of all work with each other. In all there are 21 Tracks, with most being instrumental.

I guess it could be described as a "political album", in that the theme of the record is the authoritarian abuses of the former Soviet Union (circa 1917-1989), and in general, serves as an attack on the related concepts of Globalism, Marxism, Socialism, and Communism. With snippets of Stalin's speeches, some oddly dissonant melodic progressions, and many, many arpeggios, it is a suiting release to mark a period in which the doubling down on failed utopian policies, errant Malthusian reasoning, big-tech speech censorship, misplaced inter-sectional reverse racism, and the misunderstanding of sound economic and scientific thought is finally being diminished after many, many years of the far left's multi-generational cultural hegemony over academia, the media, and of course, Hollywood.

A decision hasn't been made yet as to the actual release date of this recording, but I assume it will be sometime later in February 2022, or maybe even March. Theoretically it should be followed by a single version of the one vocal track on the album, "Utopia", paired with a yet to be written or recorded "B-Side". As always these recordings will be available on Bandcamp, and will be linked here, but I suspect there will come a day when some kind of purchase-for-download system will have to be applied. 

Anyway, I hope you all, or at least some of you, listen up when the day comes that it finally does get released. 

Till next time.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

From the Writer's Studio: "I Am Charon" - A Collection of Short Stories

Hey everyone, welcome to, or back to, the impecunious yet opulent Gauntlet of Balthazar, for a brief announcement regarding a new literary outing that will be uploaded piece-meal to Wattpad. 

The book in question is titled "I Am Charon" - A Collection of Short Stories by Ira Aron Rosenblum. The first tale was posted on Friday, January 14th, 2022, and will be followed by additional stories every Friday, as opposed to other works - which will drop on Tuesdays. I imagine that when I run out of back catalogue it may encourage me to pen some new stories just to keep the project growing. But we'll see. 

Anyway, the "Story Detail" Page on Wattpad describes the book as: "I Am Charon" is a collection of Dystopian, Horror, Science-Fiction, and other short stories penned by multi-nominated and award-winning screenplay writer Ira Aron Rosenblum. A number of the tales included in this collection date back well over twenty years, and many have been utilized as the narrative voice in short films while others have surfaced in series episode scripts that have been developed by Nevekari Enterprises. The first post is The Dark Wood which became a Nevekari Enterprise's Short Film in 2017, and it will be followed by other tales which address such issues as: liberty, freedom, conformity, collectivism, cultural memory, isolation, surveillance, sovereignty, authoritarianism, and of course, death.

Please enjoy and share, and comment here or at my profile page on Wattpad. 

Till next time.


Monday, January 10, 2022

From the Writer's Studio: How to be a "Re-Constructionist" Screenwriter

Welcome to, or back to, another installment of the "From the Writer's Studio" feature here on the Gauntlet of Balthazar. 

Obviously, whether or not you are a writer, and if you've checked out posts in this category, you might have noticed that we often tackle dissecting a specific piece of media (or a franchise), and occasionally, we look at a singular aspect of screenwriting such as the story, dialog, etc., etc. Most of the time failings such as unsatisfying arc resolutions or plot inconsistencies are highlighted, and more often than not these attributes are hashed out by looking at projects where substance and architecture have been sadly sacrificed in preference for social messaging. News flash: even if making a point is your most important motivator, you might want to make a better project, so that the message will be received.

A good example of this phenomena is when the Gauntlet took a long look at Toy Story 4 and noted that for all of the inclusion of cardboard cutout feminist attributes of outspokenness and capability (which btw can also be male attributes), the writers conversely omitted giving their supposedly strong female protagonist (Little Bo Peep) an actual story arc to parallel that of her male co-star (Woody the Cowboy). The Gauntlet interpreted this as "feminist screenwriting" (regardless of whether it is created by a man or a woman) in opposition to "egalitarian screenwriting", which in philosophic premise designs to present all characters as equally valuable and essential parts of the overall story.

I think that this is what feminism (at least the first wave) was all about in the first place - equal representation and validity, rather than some kind of global Freaky Friday gender role reversal. 

Regardless, over time this problem has persisted and virtue signalling reboots molded into cringe-worthy lectures are still glutting the media marketplace. In fact, who doesn't expect the worst when you hear that something like an American version of the gritty and moralistic Korean series "Squid Game" is on the agenda. Yeah, sure, they'll make the thing, but you can be fairly certain that they'll remove all the realism from it. Every comment characters made  - which in their circumstances were totally apropos in the original will be excised in the name of fear of offending a few delicate snowflakes out there. In the original the male characters often worry about having a female on their team since they don't know if the next game will be strength based. Well, that will just have to go, 'cuz the narrative is that women are just as strong, hell, even stronger than men, and to suggest otherwise is just so sexist. Newsflash, in a life or death contest, and forgoing the fact that it is only in rare instances that a woman turns out to be physically stronger than a man, this is exactly the concern those characters might have. The question becomes: do you want to write realistically, or are you writing as part of some external social post-modernist subjective agenda. 

Now, clearly there are reasons to write in line with a dominant narrative. One; people that share the same narrative will relate to the writing, and two; if you are perceived as all being on the same "team" its not hard to imagine that more work will easily come your way. After all, pushing against a consensus can get you into trouble, and for all the talk we hear from celebrities "standing up, taking a chance, and being brave", we all know it when they are merely parroting an approved party line.

I personally believe that most folk, even the gatekeepers who run and work at the major distribution studios, don't really think about this sort of stuff, and are far too busy keeping their head down as to not run afoul of their own Human Resources departments, their cocktail party (and political party) associates, and of course, the mob on Twitter. 

In general, here's a rule of thumb - while a vocal minority might appear larger and more powerful than it actually is, these people are not really your audience. They only tune in to find some issue they can crucify a project with on social media, and poof, they're gone. 

So what are the options for you as an artist if you want to create quality work that transcends ever-shifting narrative-influenced screenplay writing. Well, over the last few years I've begun gravitating to the description "Re-Constructionist" Screenwriter for myself.

What does that mean? You ask. Well, let me explain. 

One can easily look at all writing prior to the early twentieth century as "traditional". From Gilgamesh, to the Bible, to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, to Shakespeare, and even the realists and moralists of the 19th Century, these works present their very, very different narratives and stick to that style. They all understood character and story arc, even when promoting an agenda, and these works held to format so much at times that we can see Freytag's Pyramid and the Hero's Journey embodied in them to the point that you can mathematically see the plot elements fulfilling that criteria step by step. 

But, then de-construction came along. Spearheaded by the Dadaists, abstraction in story structure broke the previous synthesis and followed painting and poetry into screenplay writing and film making. While many of these films from the pre-code Silent Era to the French New Wave are wonderful experiments, they reflect a film school ethos that was heavily influenced by Marxist Critical Theory, and any "artiste" worth his or her salt was a deconstructionist - not some corporate capitalist hack. While this was all fine and good for the art students, starting in the 1980's, as the neo-liberals moved from the counter-culture to the board room, this penchant for deconstructionism was dragged along, and the quest became how to play ball with the money boys while still signalling that you had "street cred", or at least art cred. 

Thus, commercial Hollywood film makers who self-consciously addressed their work through this de-constructionist lens such as Paul Verhoeven, and later, the Wachowski's and Quentin Tarantino (among many others), where hailed as "smart" and "edgy", and were precursors of what we now call "meta" - the acute self-awareness of process versus suspension-of-disbelief. However, as time progressed and Marxist-inspired virtue signalling ramped up its "critical" rhetoric as social capitol, it became clear that embedding elements of identity politics in media was crucial in securing screenwriting accolades from the "powers-that-be". Therefore, placing verbally abusive dialogue in the mouth of a so-called "marginalized" character, say, a black, gay, handicapped one against say, a white, straight, non-handicapped character, became not the statement made by the character, but rather by the writer and filmmaker as an indictment of the general society. Hence, this is why a typical critique of modern entertainment over the last few years has been that the audience complains that they feel like they are being lectured to. Well, guess what? They are.

Now obviously this can't go on forever, since regardless of political narrative, art is a business - the music Business, the art Business, the writing Business, the film Business, and businesses need to eventually make money, or really, what is the point? For a while it might be okay to take a hit to propel some narrative the company wants to get behind, but eventually the checks need to be signed. Likewise, narratives change as society changes, and with western culture being effectively driven primarily by classical liberal thought since the 1960's, by leftists starting in the 1980's, and far leftists in the 2000's, this period could easily come to a close shortly and be replaced by a neo-traditionalist wave. 

I personally think it is a very good place to be, or will be soon, for a "Re-Constructionist" writer. You can be critical, you can be philosophic, you can be meta, you can present diverse characters, and you can be wholly egalitarian, yet, you will know above all else that the story is more important. You will know that you are telling a good tale, with sound act structure, with complete story and character arcs, and realistic dialogue, working together to form something of true merit. The antagonists you will design will present philosophic polarities to your protagonists rather than just pitting your hero against "space" or "climate change", as seen in so many recent Science-Fiction outings, where the inherent dangers of an environment are in effect the villain of the piece. You will have your diverse cast, but it will be a manifestation of the story, not based on some kind of grand victim "checklist" that some twitter goon demanded. 

As a "Re-Constructionist" you will see the universality of motifs within multiple forms of literature and it will enable you to forge more complex adult material based on theatrical ideas that go back thousands of years. Mind you, at the start of the Dada period modern art painters like Picasso were fully capable of rendering Renaissance-like realism, but chose not to, and this was dedication to experimentation. The problem is that I doubt that many contemporary abstract artists possess the capability to produce such works, and overly rely on deconstruction to supply the infrastructure for their painting. I see this paralleled in popular music, with atonal hip-hop leading the way, and in screenwriting with preachy virtue-signalling scripts being pushed to the fore.

Don't misunderstand, what I'm proposing here isn't for a functional artist to just imitate the master works of Van Gogh, The Beatles, or a film like Casablanca, but to create work that indeed experiments, indeed has something to say, and yet, retains sound traditional structural elements. So, break down your act and scene structure dispassionately, see if you are (within reason) following Freytag's Pyramid and the Hero's Journey structure. Imbue your characters with "real" and evolving (yes, that's an arc) personalities that have something to teach the audience as they drive them toward catharsis. And don't let notions of using characters to deliver someone else's messages dictate your art.

Do all this and you too can be a "Re-Constructionist Screenwriter". I tend to think this is one of the reasons my company, Nevekari Enterprises, has won so many nominations and awards for our scripts. But hey, what do I know?

Anyway, that's about all for now. Till next time.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Mixology: Introducing the "Ahsoka Tano"

Welcome to, or back to, the mighty Gauntlet of Balthazar for another brief foray into creative mixology.

Today's cocktail is "the Ahsoka Tano" (named for the Star Wars character of the same name) and it was originally invented shortly after "the Darth Vader" in April 2021. It was obviously designed to be part of an ongoing theme, but silly me, the original recipe was lost. Regardless, I decided to post it with as much of an approximation as possible, so here it goes:

3 ounces of Hero Apricot Nectar

I ounce of Ketel One or Tito's Vodka

1 ounce of  Cuarenta y Tres liquor 

I ounce of Simple Syrup

2 Tablespoons of Original Cool Whip 

Shake and Serve in a Martini / Cocktail glass 

I have to say it is quite good, and man does it look like the character it was created as a homage to.

Anyway, enjoy, and as always, till next time.