Gregory J. SMALLEY REVIEW FOR BROTHER COBWEB

(A review by Greg Smalley, Publisher/Film Journalist at 366 Weird movies.) (The featured image on this post comes from 366Weird movies banner. The design was courtesy of Joe Badon Art.)

I have been highly negligent in plugging this novel I’m posing with–” Brother Cobweb “–written by my friend, Alfred Eaker. (And available at Amazon and other retailers).

Later in this (longish) post I’ll hint at reasons why (besides laziness) I’m so late writing it up–but first about the book novel itself. It describes the childhood and young adulthood of Calvin, a sensitive and intelligent boy who has the misfortune to be born into a family of strict Pencastostals. Calvin escapes into art to deal with some frightening family abuse, while finding that likeminded people who share his love of opera, the arts, and staging gladiatorial conquests with praying mantises are few and far between in rural Indiana. (Well, the gladiatorial contests are kind of a hit, but the rest stands). Eventually, through his art, Calvin escapes the suffocating background and breaks free of the cycle of abuse.

I think this novel will reverberate with anyone coming from similar culturally impoverished circumstances, or from cult-like or abusive backgrounds. Its contention that art can overcome upbringing is believably inspirational. It’s also well-illustrated in bold, slightly comic-book style by Todd M. Coe. (When I first read the story, I thought that it would work even better as a graphic novel, which would allow Alfred to bring some of the more surrealistic visions to life. Thankfully, Coe and Eaker are collaborating on such a project, which hopefully will be on market soon).

Gregory J. Smalley, recommending Brother Cobweb

The novel is semi-autobiographical. I believe I know Alfred well enough to know which episodes have a basis in fact and which are invented for dramatic purposes. I hope that some of the rougher passages of maternal abuse are imaginary. The book helped me to understand where certain recurring motifs in his artwork originally arose: the cowboys, the Catholicism, the mermaid references. I wish that all my friends would write semi-autobiographical novels so I could get to know them better.

I have actually been living with this novel for longer than most–not as long as Alfred, of course, but for a good while. I read it when it was just a screenplay idea. I read the first draft. I’m amazed at the transformation it’s gone through to become the polished, completed work it now is. I’m in awe of, and full of envy for, Alfred’s perseverance and dedication to realizing this dream through so many years. I am certain it had already been brewing in his brain for many years before I first saw that early sketch about a decade ago.

So I am very close to this book and to its author, which makes it hard for me to talk about it objectively. I am worried about not praising it enough, and I’m worried that if I do praise it, people will dismiss my praise because I’m Alfred’s friend. So I have tried to recommend it specifically to those who I think will identify with it–to repeat, people who have grown up in abusive fundamentalist backgrounds. And to people who know Alfred, obviously–I assume you’ve all bought your copy by now, or abused your friendship to get a free copy like me. Thank you, Alfred, “Brother Cobweb” was a privilege and one of the sweetest gifts I’ve received.


About Gregory J. Smalley:

(Directly from his profile at 366Weird Movies. Available at: https://366weirdmovies.com/author/366weirdmovies/. Accessed: Sep 30, 2020)

“Originally an anonymous encyclopediast who closely guarded his secret identity to prevent his occult enemies from exposing him, a 2010 Freedom of Information Act request revealed that “366weirdmovies” is actually Greg Smalley, a freelance writer and licensed attorney from Louisville, KY. His orientation is listed as “hetero” and his relationship status as “single,” but Mr. Smalley’s “turn-ons” and “favorite Michael Bay movie” were redacted from the FOIA report. Mr. Smalley is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.”

You can follow his work at the link provided or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greg.smalley.9


About 366Weird movies:

Site: https://366weirdmovies.com/

Motto: Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, strange, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!

Banner: The featured image on this post comes from 366Weird movies banner. The design was courtesy of Joe Badon Art.

(By Mada J. González, Journalist and Contributor at Alfred Eaker Site)

This is an excellent site for those movie lovers and fan critics. It is extremely well organised, easy to navigate, and it has a ton of resources.

Thruth be told, when I started working on this site with Alfred Eaker — so that we could make the contents more easily accessible to people–, I got part of my inspiration from 366Weird Movies sites. In fact, it may not look like it, but I even chose the same template, as it would give me a way of presenting the content of this site in a way that would make it stand out.

I love the way in which resources can be found at 366WeirdMovies; equally important, I value the disclaimers at the bottom relating to how people can reproduce their content, the kind of affiliate programs they are linked to, as well as the approachability they project, when they offer people an easy way to submit their work.

From the point of view of a journalist, that approach is gold. I am acutely aware, though, that users come to 366WeirdMovies page over and over again looking for insipiration, and they might not be aware as to why that is the case. I am sure people are drawn to their page because of all of the care and previous thought drawn into it to reorganise it and making it more accessible to people (As well as the valuable content posted).

I only have good things to say about Greg J. Smalley and his work. No wonder he introduced himsel as an encyclopediast. One day, I will get there with this site and other endevaours of mine. Until then, I cannot praise his site high enough. But don’t take my word for it. Judge by yourselves. Visit 366WeirdMovies, and have a look at the year books they produce for all of us to enjoy cinema.


366WeirdMovies Yearbooks

You can have a look at any of these yearbooks for free. There are plenty more at 366WeirdMovies site. We are sure you will find something interesting in them. Look inside this one, and get ready to be inspired…

Look Inside 366WeirdMovies Yearbook 2019

366 Weird Movies 2019 Yearbook (2019 Yearbook Kindle Edition)

366 Weird Movies 2018 Yearbook (2018 Yearbook Kindle Edition)

366 Weird Movies 2017 Yearbook (2017 Yearbook Kindle Edition)


About Alfred Eaker:

Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker is a prolific fine arts painter and muralist, an award-winning filmmaker and film critic, and a traditionally-published author. Following on the success of his debut novel, “Brother Cobweb,” Eaker is currently collaborating with Todd M. Coe on the related Graphic novel: “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.It will be available in the spring 2021. The audiobook version of Brother Cobweb is also being produced, and will soon be released too.

As an inquisitive American artist, he has always been deeply engaged in social, religious, and political climates. Eaker is currently working on a mural painting entitled “Elvis: An American Hymn.” Through it, Eaker is trying to bring affirming answers to issues of race, integration and hope so desperately needed at this moment in America.

Look inside “Brother Cobweb,” the Novel

Brother Cobweb” is now available through Open Books PressAmazonBarnes and Noble, and all major bookshops and distributors. If you want to understand America today, travel back in time 50 years and witness firsthand the American Religious Right, not as they present themselves, but as they truly are…

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

Richard Propes REVIEW FOR “BROTHER COBWEB”

A Difficult, Emotionally Demanding and Rewarding Read

(Originally published in Brother Cobweb book page on Amazon.com)

“Brother Cobweb” isn’t about the patriarchal love that is so often worshipped by the contemporary evangelical church. You could possibly say it’s about the “red letter” love, though even that feels sort of incomplete in a world that so loves to piecemeal the teachings of Christ into something comfortable and familiar and safe and risk-free.

There’s risk galore to be found in “Brother Cobweb” and that’s a huge part of what makes the book such a wondrous read.

“Brother Cobweb” doesn’t flinch in portraying the brutal realities of Calvin’s life, but it also doesn’t flinch in celebrating his magnificence amidst it all. The cycle of abuse and violence in which Calvin lives bruises him and batters him and scars him and tells his soul stories, but somehow he starts to figure out what love is anyway and his glorious imperfections inch toward breaking the cyclical nature of his life and chopping down that family tree.

It’s nothing short of a miracle that Eaker never exploits Calvin, instead holding him up as a sacred truth that there’s nothing in this imperfect life can truly define us and that if we choose wrong we can always choose again.

And again.

Those who find themselves in The Lighthouse have perpetuated their cycles, so often choosing hate instead of love and dogma over spiritual truths and anything resembling a true faith journey. Calvin, far from alone but clearly in the driver’s seat, chooses love and chooses spiritual truth and chooses the vulnerable unpredictability of a faith journey and becomes more of a believer than everyone in The Lighthouse combined.

“Brother Cobweb” calls out hypocrisy and lies and bad theology and the damage that we do to one another, yet it does so with humor intact and a surprising amount of tenderness toward everyone including those who have failed and failed and failed.

Early Painting by Alfred Eaker of White Evangelical Religious Services (Pentecostal) that he endured as a kid and later on became immortalised on his fictional novel “Brother Cobweb”

If you are familiar with Eaker’s works, you’ll recognize pieces of his history here from BlueMahler to PinkFreud to explorations of his spirituality that can so often be found in his painting and in his remarkable cinematic work.

I’ve long felt a connection to Eaker’s world, both as a film journalist who has reviewed his directorial efforts and as the recipient of his own review of my book “The Hallelujah Life.” While our paths haven’t crossed, our life experiences and spiritual journeys seem irrevocably intertwined and and almost familial in their expressions. Eaker had offered me the chance to read an advance copy of “Brother Cobweb” not long ago, yet I was busy taking yet another detour in my life as my spina bifida kicked my a** one more time and I lost another limb.

It was a brutal experience and an opportunity to learn how to give and receive love one more time.

So, instead, I picked up a copy of “Brother Cobweb” myself, drawn to the Eaker I’ve come to respect and admire and adore who possesses an aesthetic spirituality, an artistic curiosity, and both heart and mind that demand truth in all its brilliance and brutality.

For some, “Brother Cobweb” will be a difficult, emotionally demanding read but it is an absolute must read for those who have been wounded by faith organizations, Pentecostal and otherwise, and the flawed yet fascinating characters who fill their sanctuaries.

Published by Open Press Books, “Brother Cobweb” is available in both print and Kindle versions and is illustrated with sublime insight and wonder by Todd M. Coe.

***

Look inside Brother Cobweb kindle edition here:

About Richard Propes:

Richard Propes is a Publisher/Film Journalist at The Independent Critic, and activist with initiatives such as The tenderness tour.

***

About Alfred Eaker:

Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker is a prolific fine arts painter and muralist, an award-winning filmmaker and film critic, and a traditionally-published author. Following on the success of his debut novel, “Brother Cobweb,” Eaker is currently collaborating with Todd M. Coe on the related Graphic novel: “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.It will be available in the spring 2021. The audiobook version of Brother Cobweb is also being produced, and will soon be released too.

As an inquisitive American artist, he has always been deeply engaged in social, religious, and political climates. Eaker is currently working on a mural painting entitled “Elvis: An American Hymn.” Through it, Eaker is trying to bring affirming answers to issues of race, integration and hope so desperately needed at this moment in America.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

“I’M A SINFUL MAN”: SUBVERTING TRUMP’S APOCALYPSE

In the gospel reading from Luke 5, we find the famous “fishers of men” narrative. In that passage, there’s a revealing emotional moment: Simon (later renamed Peter) drops to his knees after the second (and successful) fishing expedition and says to Christ, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” This is one of many examples that reminds me why I am so endeared to Peter.

Apart from Judas (obviously), Peter is possibly the most flawed of the apostles. Often, he is a total screw up, but he is also the apostle with the biggest heart, which is why, I think, Christ picked Peter to lead the apostles. Most of us likely would have chosen John, who, on the surface, seems far less flawed. However, Christ saw the heart of Peter much in the same way that God saw the heart of David and preferred him to his siblings.

“Peter was afraid, and when he began to sink, he cried out” © Alfred Eaker 2018
Collection: “Gospel Art: Mystics, Apostles, and Saints” (2016-2020). Acrylic on canvas. 16”x20”
“Peter was afraid, and when he began to sink, he cried out” © Alfred Eaker 2018. Collection: “Gospel Art: Mystics, Apostles, and Saints” (2016-2020). Acrylic on canvas. 16”x20”

 

It’s Peter’s rich and complex emotions that appeal to me, such as in the walking on water scene that I artistically tackled in the painting featured in this post. In the story, the apostles are out on the boat when they see Christ, walking on water, approaching. Peter gets out of the boat, begins walking on water also, and approaches Christ. However, Peter takes his eyes off Christ, looks down at the water, and begins to sink. 

I depict Peter under the threat of horrific drowning, locked in terror and fear, yet peering through all that, seeking to be saved. He was afraid, and when he began to sink, he cried out. Haven’t we all found ourselves in a similar situation at some point? Can we not find ourselves in his gaze?…  The model of Peter is ultimately an edifying one: if this frequently sinful and stupid man can seek and be granted redemption, then we all can.

 

[Detail] “Peter was afraid, and when he began to sink, he cried out” © Alfred Eaker 2018. This painting, “Peter was afraid, and when he began to sink, he cried out,” is one of several I did in 2018 with the gospel theme of Peter. They are a part of a larger group of paintings entitled: “Gospel Art: Mystics, Apostles, and Saints,” which I began in 2016 and have continued with up until 2020. The paintings are acrylic and uniform in size: 16 x20. This was a shift for me, as I previously had painted considerably larger pieces. However, I felt gospel art should be intimate and personal, much in the same way that gospel music is.
[Detail] “Peter was afraid, and when he began to sink, he cried out” © Alfred Eaker 2018
Part of the Collection: “Gospel Art: Mystics, Apostles, and Saints” (2016-2020). Acrylic on canvas. 16”x20”

 

As a child, I recall hearing a sermon on this in the white evangelical church I was raised in. The preacher was very critical of Peter,  reminding us that Peter lost faith (bad Peter), but even then I noted that Peter was the only one of the twelve who had guts enough to even get out of the boat. As I relayed (albeit fictionally) in my novel, Brother Cobweb, I was forced to read the gospels. That wasn’t very smart of my Sunday school teachers because I actually did read them, found them to be rich and satisfying narratives, but I also found that the church folk were, by and large, raging hypocrites because they didn’t model any of these, nor did they follow Christ (as he instructed).

Many of us who were raised in the religious right evangelical church have anticipated the coming of Trump’s America since childhood because we were all too aware of their lust for a self-fulfilled apocalypse. I understood, even as a child, how they distorted the biblical message. What we saw then, we see today on an epic scale. If you want to understand the evangelical empowering of Trump and today’s horror, if you want to go to the roots and subvert their Evangelical Apocalypse, then sit in the pews of a white Pentecostal church 50 years ago. Start the journey with Brother Cobweb…

“Brother Cobweb,” a novel by Alfred Eaker. If you want to understand the evangelical empowering of Trump and today’s horror, if you want to go to the roots and subvert their Evangelical Apocalypse, then sit in the pews of a white Pentecostal church 50 years ago. Start the journey with Brother Cobweb…

 

About Alfred Eaker:

Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker is a prolific fine arts painter and muralist, an award-winning filmmaker and film critic, and a traditionally-published author. Following on the success of his debut novel, “Brother Cobweb,” Eaker is currently collaborating with Todd M. Coe on the related Graphic novel: “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.It will be available in the spring 2021. The audiobook version of Brother Cobweb is also being produced, and will soon be released too.

As an inquisitive American artist, he has always been deeply engaged in social, religious, and political climates. Eaker is currently working on a mural painting entitled “Elvis: An American Hymn.” Through it, Eaker is trying to bring affirming answers to issues of race, integration and hope so desperately needed at this moment in America.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

WAY DOWN

July 6,  1977 Elvis Presley’s single “Way Down” is released.

*Cover Photo from “Elvis: An American Seeker” (Mural in progress) ©2020 Alfred Eaker

Related: Discover “Brother Cobweb”, a novel by Alfred Eaker

About Alfred Eaker:

Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker is a prolific fine arts painter and muralist, an award-winning filmmaker and film critic, and a traditionally-published author. Following on the success of his debut novel, “Brother Cobweb,” Eaker is currently collaborating with Todd M. Coe on the related Graphic novel: “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.It will be available in the spring 2021. The audiobook version of Brother Cobweb is also being produced, and will soon be released too.

As an inquisitive American artist, he has always been deeply engaged in social, religious, and political climates. Eaker is currently working on a mural painting entitled “Elvis: An American Hymn.” Through it, Eaker is trying to bring affirming answers to issues of race, integration and hope so desperately needed at this moment in America.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

In The Ghetto

July 5, 1969 – Elvis Presley’s “In The Ghetto” hits #2 in the U.K.

It’s interesting in that originally I found this song thick in laying on the sentimentality and a bit schmaltzy. It doesn’t seem so at all today, Indeed, with everything surrounding us, it seems more relevant than ever.

Then, as I read this in a FB group today, I discovered a bit of background about it. Presley and his producer were set to record it when Presley’s manager, Tom Parker, voiced an objection, citing that it was “too political and too controversial.” Presley overshot his manager’s objections with a memo, “did you grow up poor? We’re recording this song.”

Since his death, there’s been a tendency to label Presley a racist, he stole black music, etc. These comments are always made by people who never met him and yet it’s easy to see why that is assumed; after all he was southern, politically conservative, and a redneck (he was). It only goes to stand… only it doesn’t.

Presley was raised in a black Pentecostal church. It was the music he knew. He grew up dirt poor in a racially mixed neighborhood.  No one who knew him, either well or casually, makes claims of his being a racist; quite the reverse, indeed they vehemently deny it,  and peers such as Chuck Berry, James Brown, and B.B. King frequently tried to set the record straight and quash the myth of his being bigoted.

It matters, even today, so many years after Presley’s decline and self-willed death because, even if unintentionally,  he serves as a model of sorts;  one can be southern, politically conservative, and even a good old boy, without mantling systematic racism or traditions of white supremacy.  The late Little Richard called Presley an integrator. “In the Ghetto” is perhaps the Presley song that best manifests Richard’s claim and advocates the long past due need for cultural and spiritual integration.

Look inside Alfred Eaker’s debut Novel:

About Alfred Eaker:

Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker is a prolific fine arts painter and muralist, an award-winning filmmaker and film critic, and a traditionally-published author. Following on the success of his debut novel, “Brother Cobweb,” Eaker is currently collaborating with Todd M. Coe on the related Graphic novel: “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.It will be available in the spring 2021. The audiobook version of Brother Cobweb is also being produced, and will soon be released too.

As an inquisitive American artist, he has always been deeply engaged in social, religious, and political climates. Eaker is currently working on a mural painting entitled “Elvis: An American Hymn.” Through it, Eaker is trying to bring affirming answers to issues of race, integration and hope so desperately needed at this moment in America.

Follow Alfred Eaker Online:

THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, OUR MOTHER AND HER MURDERERS: DONALD TRUMP AND THE ALT-RIGHT. 12. Christ, Our Mother heals the faithful Centurion’s pais.

Christ, Our Mother heals the faithful Centurion’s pais. ©2017 Alfred Eaker.

“Alfred Eaker’s series of works are deeply felt journeys into sociopolitical satire. Each painting seems to be pulled from Marc Chagall’s dream furnace.” Bill Ross: Curator Thunder-Sky Art Gallery.

*Christ is modeled after Ohio poet Cheryl Townsend

THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, OUR MOTHER AND HER MURDERERS: DONALD TRUMP AND THE ALT-RIGHT. 13. Christ, Our Mother casting the demons into the swine

Christ, Our Mother casting the demons into the swine © 2017 Alfred Eaker.

“Alfred Eaker’s series of works are deeply felt journeys into sociopolitical satire. Each painting seems to be pulled from Marc Chagall’s dream furnace.” Bill Ross: Curator Thunder-Sky Art Gallery.

*Christ is modeled after Ohio poet Cheryl Townsend

THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, OUR MOTHER AND HER MURDERERS: DONALD TRUMP AND THE ALT-RIGHT. 11. Christ, Our Mother healing the Leper

Christ, Our Mother healing the Leper ©2017 Alfred Eaker.

“Alfred Eaker’s series of works are deeply felt journeys into sociopolitical satire. Each painting seems to be pulled from Marc Chagall’s dream furnace.” Bill Ross: Curator Thunder-Sky Art Gallery.

*Christ is modeled after Ohio poet Cheryl Townsend

THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, OUR MOTHER AND HER MURDERERS: DONALD TRUMP AND THE ALT-RIGHT. 10. The Sermon On the Mount as told by Christ, Our Mother

The Sermon On the Mount as told by Christ, Our Mother ©2017 Alfred Eaker.

“Alfred Eaker’s series of works are deeply felt journeys into sociopolitical satire. Each painting seems to be pulled from Marc Chagall’s dream furnace.” Bill Ross: Curator Thunder-Sky Art Gallery.

*Christ is modeled after Ohio poet Cheryl Townsend

THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, OUR MOTHER AND HER MURDERERS: DONALD TRUMP AND THE ALT-RIGHT. 9. Christ, Our Mother and the Samaritan woman, according to St. John

Christ, Our Mother and the Samaritan woman, according to St. John © 2017 Alfred Eaker .

“Alfred Eaker’s series of works are deeply felt journeys into sociopolitical satire. Each painting seems to be pulled from Marc Chagall’s dream furnace.” Bill Ross: Curator Thunder-Sky Art Gallery.

*Christ is modeled after Ohio poet Cheryl Townsend

St. John is modeled after Ohio artist Antonio Adams

The Official Site Of Author and Artist

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