Tuesday, June 22, 2004
First things first: a slightly belated but still enthusiasitc Happy Birthday! to Jason, Leslie, and Katy, in that chronological order.
All sorts of things have been happening since I last blogged, and I simply haven't the space to relate them all here. I saw Saved (which was hilarious and you all need to see, right this very instant), Mean Girls (which was funnier than I had been expecting, but not funny enough to make me leap upon the Lohan Lovewagon... still go see it), and Welcome to the Dollhouse (which was good and funny, if extremely uncomfortable at times).
Things of an artful nature have been occuring. Down on the Farm (aka Ed), the Best Cartoonist I Don't Know in Real Life, made my month by sending me a couple of his drawings through the Honest to Gosh Not Email Mail System. I danced around for sheer joy all day. Hey, it was exciting, ok? Not only did I get Real Mail, but I got mail from England, and I got awesomely good original artwork. Admit it, people, it doesn't get any better than that.
DotF sent me a lovely big picture of his interpretations of the Birds of Britain, which I loved muchly. The shuffle budgie was one of them. So I mailed him back my own personal take on the shuffle budgie. I think it's relatively obvious which one of us makes money cartooning, and which one of us will never make money doing scientific illustration :)
Except, you know, if it were to happen again. Today I got my work back from the Envelope show. Very exciting, as I can now get some nice detail shots of it and put them up on my main site whenever I suddenly start having the ability to do that (i.e. when I get back to school in the fall and have tech people conveniently located for harassment). The best bit, however, was the fact that the immensely skilled gentleman who ran the show, Ryan, had slipped one of his own entries to the show in. I did my sheer joy dance again.
If it is my fate to meet such damn nice artists over the magical Internet, then gosh darn it, I'm happily resigned to my fate.
I did manage to get my entry for Les McClaine's pet jam comic project done more or less on time. Perhaps not my best work, I'll readily admit, but it's nice to see it up there. I need to learn how to purge the dreaded crosshatching from my comic book stuff. The silly thing is, of course, I can draw perfectly well without out, and I've got numerous examples of comic book work with just solid blacks that look infinitely better than they would have had they been crosshatched. Alas, if I'm not making a conscious effort to exclude them, they creep insidiously back into my work. Gah.
Anyways, the jam comic is called Gran'ma Evelyn's Old Fashioned Pudding Treats Wrestling Theater for strange, occult reasons of the creators. My contribution may be found somewhere down the page here. It's the crappy crosshatched one that looks like it was done in less than hour late at night (all accurate except for the 'less than an hour' bit).
I've been up to a moderate amount of things outside of artsy crud and calculus classes at Salem State (which are going fine... the individual classes are, in my humble opinion, too frikking long, but at least my grades have been pretty good thus far). I went up to Plum Island again, and saw a great many egrets of the snowy variety. There was also a kind of duck I'd never seen before (it had a black posterior... I forget what it's called, something like a gadwell) and a number of other cool birds. The osprey was on its perch but didn't get close enough to really be seen. The swans were back, and the warblers have all gone, except for the yellow warblers.
There have also been a couple of nights of Swampscottian joys. A few nights ago (see, I don't blog long enough and I completely lose track of what happens when) we had a lovely laid-back evening of frisbee on the lawn by Town Hall. We played a game of Ultimate Frisbee until we collectively decided that we were too tired to go on. Corey and Kate lost to me, Jess, and Jason, but that was mostly some sort of fluke, as I have zero aim with a frisbee and Jess claims she can't catch, so it was really more like Corey and Kate versus Jason and a couple of slightly animated lampposts.
After frisbee we decided to walk along the seawall, since it was almost criminally nice out. The state trooper police horses were out, so Kate and I went up to say hello. They were named Dmitri and Magnum. Very nice horses. Everyone else was cowardly and wouldn't go up to scratch their noses. Following horse revelry, we went to 7-11 to get beverages. I got one of those 7-11 Slurpee things, which I hadn't had in ages. It was surprisingly good.
A few nights ago (this past Saturday, unless I am much mistaken) was one of those ridiculously surreal evenings one occasionally has the priviledge to experience in this delightful little town. As usual, we had no where to go. It was another nice night out, so we decided to spend it outdoors. After much debate and several ulcer-causing arguments (including one with a certain town resident who told us off for parking outside his house, which was rather rich coming from him, seeing how his son is an actual underage delinquent) we chose to station ourselves on one of the rocks in the forest-y area up behind the high school.
Naturally, of course, we had to walk up to the rock in question. This turned out to be something of an adventure, since it was a ways through the wooded area, and it had somehow slipped everyone's minds that the way there was going to be completely pitch black. Ever the improvisational bunch, we all whipped out our cellphones (or, in my case, digital camera) and held them up so that their little screens would light the path (such as it was... i.e. occasionally nonexistent). These cast a sort of diffuse, pale light that wasn't wholly insufficient, but wasn't strong enough to make travel easy either.
It didn't help matters that, somewhere along the way, we got turned around and lost.
Imagine the scene, if you will. Five or six college students, stumbling about in a darkened forest, holding cell phone screens up and peering carefully around in the resultant pale blue glow. It was only natural that someone would make the connection and flourish a cellphone to the dramatic whisper of 'Lumos!' Yes. We are geeks.
Once we found our way out of the trees and onto the rock it was actually a good time. It was a very clear night, and there was enough ambient light on top of the rock to see by. Stephanie came a little bit later with a couple friends of hers from school and made us feel better about not having been able to find our way, as it allegedly took them 'forty frikking minutes to get to this place!' For lack of better glassware people drank wine out of beer cans, which was the very height of classiness. It was an amusingly good time all round.
Despite the fact that I was quite ready to kill someone during the debacle leading up to it (what with the arguments of where we were going to go, how we were going to get there, and the trek up). Hmmph. I worry, so sue me.
In another, lesser adventure Corey and I went to Christy's, that diner-like affair with the 50's styling that sits right in front of the Nahant rotary. It's been there, so far as anyone can tell, forever. Yet we could not find a single person who had ever been inside it. Naturally, this had to be recitified. So we went in one day around 2:30 (we were the only people in there) to eat french fries and giggle at the decor.
Dark wood panelled walls, orange seats, harpoons on the wall, yellowed venetian blinds on the windows that came halfway down and were adorned with signs reading 'Please don't try to move the shades, they don't work'. Moody stained glass 'Drink Coca Cola' hanging lights. Wrought iron separating the dining side from the take out side. It was fantastic. We need to go back during regular meal times so we can gawk at the patrons.
And that, I think, is rather enough. Many more things have occurred, but space, alas, is limited. Until the next, mes amis.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Well, I’m quite sorry it has taken so long for this blog to get written. It’s been a crazy week or so, what with travel to be done, classes to take, and movies to be seen. Apologies to those who were waiting for this (all five of you, then).
Florida was immensely better than I had thought it was going to be. Was it as disgustingly hot as I had feared? To be sure. But good times were had nonetheless, most of them involving industrial-strength air conditioning.
We flew Song airlines, which I hadn’t ever flown before. The seatbacks all had those little individual TVs in them. You could get various satellite TV channels, various satellite music stations (not a single alternative station among them!), an info program that would show a map of where your plane was at the moment along with altitude, air temperature and other fun facts, or you could play music trivia against your fellow passengers. On the flight down it was mostly a novelty, and other than occasionally glancing up to see how my brother was doing in his heartfelt efforts to destroy our cabinmates in trivia, I didn’t really use it. It was enormously good for the ride back, however, as I was able to watch almost the entire Red Sox game on it.
The bat mitzvah itself was relatively uneventful. The service featured the most rousing rendition of Adon Olam I’d ever heard. The party was very heavily pink. The table I was sitting at ended up being less evil than I had feared. I was at the table of People Who Are Too Old to Sit at the Kids Table but Too Young to Sit at the Old People Tables. This meant that we were an odd and random bunch, including me, my older cousin (who just graduated law school, congrats Jamie and good luck on the bar!), a couple of our second cousins whom we rarely see (I think they’re second cousins, anyways… I’m no good at figuring out that sort of thing), a friend of my uncle’s family whom I don’t really know (but he’s my age and goes to Michigan, bizarrely enough. Turned out to be quite a nice kid), and my cousin’s old babysitter.
Anyways, an eclectic bunch, but it ended up being a nice group. I think I was the youngest, at 18, and one of the second cousins had her boyfriend there, who I think was the oldest at around 30. Everyone behaved normally except for the babysitter, who got roaringly drunk before they even started serving the food, and began to hit on my second cousin. Until she got slightly more drunk and began hitting on one of the DJ dancers.
A number of family folk who were staying at the same hotel had a limo bus to go back at the end of the party. When we all disembarked at 12:30ish in the a.m., we were startled to see a very, very large number of police cars in front of the hotel. Including K-9 units.
Parents and older folk, being the incurious lot that they are, refused to go see what was going on. So me, my brother, and our second cousins from New York Adam and Amanda trotted up to see how close to the action we could get before we got yelled at. We figured that if it was a bomb threat or something the police would tell us to stay back before we got close enough to pose a problem.
After skulking around in our suits and dresses to see if there was anything to be seen from behind the bushes, we decided to just go ask one of the cops. He was very nice and explained that there had been a fight at the wedding when two male members of the wedding party had gotten a bit heated over some words said to and/or by one of the ladies. Obviously a rather large fight, if it required that many police cars, not to mention the German shepards.
The hilarious bit is that we had been seeing many Indian people all over the hotel. As we were leaving to go the party earlier that evening, we saw them all in their wedding finery: great suits and some really gorgeous colorful saris. When we heard that the gendarmerie were there for a massive fight at the Indian wedding, we were completely bowled over by the sheer awesomeness of it. Our one regret is that we didn’t get to see the actual altercation.
The day after the bat mitzvah I got to go to the Everglades with my mother and my uncle Richard. The rest of the family didn’t go because they’d been there before, when they went down to Florida whilst I was stuck up in Michigan. It was amazing! If you’ve ever read The Orchid Thief, the people down here were exactly like they’re described in that book. It must be the one tiny piece of Florida that isn’t built up yet. The people were all toothless and leathery-tan and shirtless and eating grits and talking in bad southern accents and seedy to the 20th power of fantasticability.
We went on an airboat ride through the Everglades, which was great. We saw all kinds of critters. There were tons of alligators, large and small. Some of them came right up to the boat, which was cool, so long as you remembered to keep your hands well out of the water. There was a tree with at least 10 black vultures sitting in it. There were purple gallinules, which are beautiful birds that we don’t get up here. We saw a huge osprey fishing right up close, and a green heron.
Yes, I was in a zoological state of overexcitement.
an alligator, a purple gallinule, a boat-tailed grackle (different species from the ones we get up north), and a shot of everglade-y landscape
After the boat ride we saw the alligator show, which was an extremely tan old man ‘fighting’ a fat, old, and tired alligator. He dragged the gator out of its pool and onto the ground, where it just splayed its legs out and let itself be dragged around on its stomach without even bothering to struggle. He then sat on its back and pried its mouth open. The danger of the mighty alligator’s jaw was demonstrated by opening its mouth and then tapping the roof with a little stick. The instant the gator felt something in its mouth it would snap shut with a hilarious dry popping sound. Throughout all of this the gator just sat there without struggling in the slightest, clearly just waiting until the show was over and it could go back to sleep, and all in all it was quite amusing.
That sums up the salient points of Florida, I do believe. Good times.
Much has happened since I’ve been back, including a truly awful movie that Brian made us all watch one night called Private School… for girls. It literally had no plot. It was just a series of unconnected scenes, all filmed in an awkward 80s style more suited to drivers ed videos. Moral of the story: Never let Brian pick the movie again.
WE ALSO SAW HARRY POTTER! Oh yes, we did. There was a ridiculous number of us, but we managed to get there so early that we got seats in the middle of the theater without any trouble. Ah, it was a great movie. Great, great, great.
The only things I didn’t like were the way they did the Patronus charm (it’s supposed to be an animal, for catssake, not some stupid silver shield) and Lupin. I may not have had an entirely clear idea of what Lupin looked like in my head, but he definitely didn’t look like they had him looking in the movie. No. No sketchy little mustache and bizarrely soft-looking face. No. Wrongness. It also didn’t help that every scene with just him and Harry in it (and there were a fair few) was filled with a truly worrying tension that bordered on the sexual. More Wrongness.
Other than that, the movie was glorious. I thought that Sirius was very well done indeed. Trelawney was also good… her acting wasn’t so hot, but I suppose it didn’t have to be for that exaggerated a role. You couldn’t really tell the difference between this Dumbledore and the old Dumbledore, which was a good thing.
A lot happened in the third book, and they did a pretty good job of condensing it down into the amount of time needed for the movie. OK, so they maybe could’ve put in a little more Quidditch and I would’ve been happier. I’m also still slightly miffed that the best actor in the whole damn movie, Alan Rickman (Snape), wasn’t in this one enough. Some more Draco Malfoy would’ve also been welcome, but that could just be because I tend to think that the kid they have playing him is perfect for the role and is utterly hilarious.
The CG on Buckbeak the hippogriff was unbelievable. We’re talking ‘spider in Lord of the Rings’ level of awesome. To say that he looked real would be a massive understatement. And he was so seamlessly integrated into the look of the movie that you didn’t even notice that he was computer generated! All those feathers… ugh, it must have taken forever. And the head movements that he made were perfect, entirely convincing and hawk-like.
Anyways, if you saw the first two movies, for cats’ sake, go see this one! If you’ve been reading the books, go see this one! If you haven’t been doing either one or both of those things, you are a terrible human being. Clearly.
NEWS! Jason was nice enough to point me to some Farscape teaser images for the upcoming new shows. I squeals in excitement, I does. Cannot wait for this to be back on air.
Are you reading Buttercup Festival yet? No? What’s wrong with you, then? YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE.
Here I have a Flash video to put some other Flash videos to shame. Properly so, too. If you like good Flash animation or if you like the Beatles, you should have a look at this.
Also, a Viennese orchestra whose instruments are all made of vegetables. “The instruments are subsequently made into a soup so that the audience can enjoy them a second time.” I really don’t know what to think of this, but thank god we live in a world where such things can exist.
Holy frelling twatmallards! Panic time? Perhaps! In a fit of madness I emailed Les McClaine and asked if I might join Gran’ma Evelyn’s Old-Fashioned Pudding Treats Wrestling Theater, which is a confusingly named jam comic… that is to say, it has a more or less coherent storyline, each section of which is drawn by a different artist. Some are good, some are less so. Les is frelling incredible and we all aspire to draw like him one day. He went to Savannah, so that explains some of that.
Anyways, the point is that he said I was welcome to join in. And now there’s only one person to go before it’s my turn. And I have no bloody idea what I’m doing. Great. Just great.
OK, this is quite long enough. More to come, hopefully at less lengthy intervals in the future to avoid this sort of thing.
Monday, June 07, 2004
HAPPY 19TH BIRTHDAY JESS!
HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY LOUISE!
OK, I know I desperately need to blog about Florida and the adventures that occurred therein, and about the Harry Potter movie (which I saw, thank cats). I will do this at some point this week, I promise. Even if I have to chain myself to the laptop.
Stories to come soon!