Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2917 - Volume 11

This week, I'm going to share a little more progress on the ties. We've gotten in some new fabrics, not pictured. We ran into problems with several of the fabric designs--our fault, not the printer's. With the first round of fabrics, one print was entirely too large--as in unworkable. With the new set of fabric prints 2 out of the 4 were printed too large. One for the same reason as the first, but not as unworkable. The design will fit on the tie, but it cuts it close and won't look as good as the final design. With the other, it's a tiled pattern similar to the Pokemon design, but the pattern printed too large. Clearly we can still make ties out of it, but they're not going to be exactly what I want. We're debating what to do with the messed up designs now. Do we go ahead and turn them into ties and then sell at a discount? Do we just toss the fabric? Do we try and come up with something else to do with it? We're not sure yet. The most frustrating thing is keeping the bloody pattern straight because the fabric shifts so easily and then you end up with something crooked. Stupid shiny slippery fabric. Grr. But anyways. Here's some progress pictures of the Pokemon ties.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Mysterium

Mysterium is one of the new games we picked up after Magfest. I think it might be my husband's new favorite game.

For those who don't know what Mysterium is, it is a tabletop game that plays a bit like a mix between Clue and Dixit.

There is one player who plays the ghost of a murdered person. Everyone else is playing psychics who are trying to figure out who killed the person, with what, and where. The ghost knows, but can't talk. What the ghost can do is share cards with clues on them to help the psychic players figure out what happened. The cards have strange pictures on them, so it's not usually obvious what the ghost is trying to communicate. You have a certain number of rounds to figure everything out. It's cooperative, so everyone wins or everyone loses.

I hate hate hate hate playing the ghost. I did it once, and no one, not one, ever figured out what I was trying to communicate. I might have given myself a concussion from hitting my own head on the table in frustration. My husband, on the other hand, loves being the ghost. I guess this works though, because I'm 100% content to let him have that role. Overall, it's not my favorite, but it's still a fun game.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Classic Films - Episode 5

So, I missed posting a WIP for Wednesday morning. I ended up working 8 nights in a row last week, and I pretty much slept from Monday morning when I got home through Wednesday afternoon when I went back to work. I do have some WIP stuff to post for next week though. And I will not be working those kind of crazy hours again any time soon. =D So anyways, on to today's planned blog post. It's another film discussion based on what my husband has been watching with our (older) kids. He does have the younger ones sit out when the film is not appropriate for younger viewers. Anyways, no more rambling for me. Here's his post...

Episode 5 – Schindler’s List

This week’s film should probably viewed by everyone at least once. It’s a powerful film and I seriously debated letting my kids watch it. The youngest one wasn’t there so I felt it would be okay. The film I’m talking about here is Schindler’s List. It’s a three and a half hour epic following a group of large ensemble cast of Jews who survive the holocaust through their employment with Oscar Schindler, a war profiteer who kept his Jewish employees safe from the death camps. It’s based on a true story and it’s a hard film to watch.
Directed by Steven Speilberg, this historical drama, is probably one of the most heart-wrenching films I have ever seen on the holocaust. It also doesn’t glorify the Jewish victims but rather shows them at both their best and worst. I had to explain the history to my kids before we watched. Although we have briefly covered recent American history, they have not had a thorough study of WWII. My eldest is just now entering that chapter in history.
The film actually begins when the Polish and German Jews are herded into ghettos where they must live in cramped rooms with one another. It follows them as they are forced out and moved into work camps where living conditions are even worse. Many, except those who find shelter in Schindler’s factory, are then shipped out to the camps. The film ends with the end of the war and the release of the Jews at Schindler’s factory. All along the way we see them stripped of their belongings, their dignity, and eventually their lives.
I have to say the cleansing of the ghetto scene is perhaps one of the most elegant and awful scene in the entire film. We listen to classical music as the Germans move from house to house executing anyone they find. There’s a long shot of the ghetto in which we see lights flashing in the windows across the town and its beautiful and frightening as we think about how each flash is probably the death of someone.
There are a few main characters. You have Schindler played by Liam Neeson who begins as a womanizing profiteer. He’s charming and genteel but he’s also clearly looking to benefit from the war. He gives an offer to several Jewish investors to lend him the money to start a factory and he will pay them in goods bought from the factory profits. When they argue that it isn’t a good deal, which it isn’t, he tells them that they have absolutely no power to get anything better. He’s right and they know it.
The Jews eventually lend Schindler his money. He then builds a factory and mans it using Jewish labor, first from the ghetto and later from the camps, because he doesn’t have to pay them real salaries. Schindler is assisted by a skilled Jewish accountant played by the Ben Kinglsey who helps Schindler turn his factory into a money-making success. Eventually, Schindler becomes sympathetic towards his Jewish employees and the other Jews at the camp. When he discovers they are being shipped out to death camps, he bribes the local officials using all of his ill-gotten gains to keep a little over a thousand Jews as “workers” for his factory. He ends the film penniless but managed to save a large number of Jews.
That’s the main story. The film itself is full of more vignettes than anything else. It has little scenes that give us a picture of everyday life for the Jewish people under the Nazi regime. People use ice cycles on a train in order to have water to drink, they are forced to run naked in the open, hide in outhouses to avoid being shipped away, and so forth. One scene shows a woman telling a story of how a group of women were shaved and put into a shower were they were gassed to death. We later see these same women get shaved and shoved into a shower where they stand terrified until the water comes on. The movie is filled with little scenes and moment that give us a picture of the terror, despair, and dehumanization that occurred during the holocaust.
One of my sons remarked that he felt bad for the people on the screen and how they were being treated. He said it made him want to cry. I told him that was a good thing because it shows that he cares and that he has a good heart. While America has had its fair share of terrible history and how it has treated minority groups, it’s important to remember the bad so that it doesn’t ever happen again.
There’s a lot to talk about with this film. It doesn’t really give us a lot of the historical context so we spent some time talking about the rise of Nazi Germany and the general attitude of the people at the time towards the Jews. I personally feel that this is a sure sign of God’s providence. No other people group has been has hated throughout history as the Jews and yet they are still with us. If God didn’t intervene then they would have been destroyed long ago.

We spent a little bit talking history and religion. We’re supposed to identify with Schindler but it’s a little awkward since he’s kind of a jerk and his scenes are spread thinly throughout the film. As such, the movie makes it hard to really identify with any one character so it is more of a starting off point for discussion about the holocaust in general. Next week, we’ll watch a comedy to balance out the depressing aspect of this film.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Team Sidequest Shenanigans

Team Sidequest is the informal name applied to our gaming group. This group has been in existence since Summer 2000. It started with my husband, his good friend, and myself. When we started, we played 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. My husband ran the games. His friend played a Dragon Knight (original class we designed for the world my husband and I created) named Theorne--this is the same friend who got the awesome Legendary Play Mats I shared the other day. I played a Dwarf Cleric named Grushenka--bonus points if you catch the reference without using Google. =P

At some point we switched to 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. It was a slow transitions. Being the old fogies that we are, we felt that system was very overpowered and ruined the role playing side of it. We played 3rd Edition for many years. We've also played 4th Edition and Pathfinder. We have played Star Wars D20. We are currently playing Pathfinder and Marvel -- the really old version from when I was in high school. We're also threatening to start a MLP campaign.

I've been through lots of characters over the years. I tend to figure out what my character looks like and then build it up from there. If I don't do that, I usually take a vague concept (like one of my archetypes) and then try and find a class that fits. I think, by far, one of my favorite characters to play was Magic, where I played my Magic Girl archetype named. I used the Pathfinder rules for the Magic Girl class published by my husband and another friend of ours. I totally played up the Intelligence score of 7 (out of 18 for those who don't play D&D). This did happen. DM: "You see a dragon." Magic: "I want to make friends with it. I'll bet it's just lonely and misunderstood." FYI, it worked.

My current Pathfinder character is a bit subdued compared to my usual character. She's an Elf Monk who owns only the clothes on back, doesn't bathe, and seeks Nirvana. I'm playing her as an ultra-conservative Buddhist crossed with the Prince of Persia with less sarcasm--gave people a break since my Halfling Druid who I played before Sangye had a mouth that got our party in way more trouble than was probably necessary. (My poor druid died. It was tragic.)

In our Marvel campaign, I'm playing a 3rd generation Greek immigrant living in New York. She lives with her grandmother, but spends most of her time at her guardian's house--her guardian is a Social Services worker (played by my husband) assigned specifically to her case because of the fact that she tends to set fire to thinks when she gets emotional--which is often. She is 17 (super young by my standards), is incredibly impulsive, has fire powers, and has spent most of her life in and out of trouble with law enforcement. She spent a lot of time in centers for juvenile delinquents. This makes her good with misunderstood kids, and she has an interest in child psychology and lots of contacts within NYPD. She's generally better behaved now--she's one of the good guys after all--but she does not think about consequences of her actions before she does them. This means lots of collateral damage. She also tends to destroy her guardian's toasters and has difficulty maintaining a job (since saving the world is more of a side gig).

I'm really big on character creation--looks, personality, back story... all of it. Love it. It's one of my favorite aspects of games--table top and video game (it legitimately took me 2 hours to design my first Guild Wars 2 character). Feel free to comment and tell me about your characters (yes, I opened that can of worms). I like this kind of thing though. Once I get caught up with some of my current art projects (mostly revamping and updating my inventory for any 2018 conventions I might get into, and really just the badges and ties), I plan on opening a special section of commissions just for OCs for games because this is one of my favorite things to draw.

That was rambling... I need to stop writing these things between 3am and 5am after staying up all night. XD

Friday, September 8, 2017

What I'm Playing - Final Fantasy VI

I recently picked up a copy of Final Fantasy VI off of Steam. I have a copy of this game for Play Station and somewhere I have the Super Nintendo version--you know, the one released under the title Final Fantasy III. It felt weird getting another copy of a game I already owned. However, it made some sense because my laptop is way more portable than either the Play Station or Super Nintendo. For example, I spend a little bit of time during quieter times at work at night playing. I can do this because I can bring my laptop to work. Although I would probably get no complaints if I tried to bring a TV and Play Station in, it wouldn't exactly fit in my little cubical work space. So, anyways.

I've been playing Final Fantasy VI. It has always been my favorite Final Fantasy title. A bit of history and yes, this will make me look old; don't judge: My first Final Fantasy was FF IV. I remember renting it as Final Fantasy II for Super Nintendo from the video rental store down the street. I fell in love with that game. After purchasing and beating FF IV, I scoured flea markets for FF I--this was also before Amazon, Ebay, or really any form of internet anything. I was super excited for FF VI (III), and purchased it as soon as it was released. I played through it several times until I went off to college, where my ability to play games like that diminished significantly due to the fact that the Super Nintendo belonged to my brother and I didn't own a TV. Anyways...

As far as Final Fantasy games go, the mechanics are pretty much standard classic jRPG mechanics. Each character has a special ability. Magic revolves around Espers and after a certain point in the game, you can equip Espers on characters. Some people may find this dull, but these are my kinds of game. This is probably why I latched onto Bravely Default and enjoyed it as much as I did. That game was a real throwback to games like Final Fantasy VI. As far as FF VI goes, I loved the story and the characters. It's been a treat to play through it again. I don't get a lot of time for games anymore due to, you know, working full time, being a full time homeschooling mom, and stuff like that. This is part of why having a portable system is good because that gives me more flexibility. So, on quieter evenings, I do get to play at work. I'm moving through the game super slowly. I'm posting periodically during my play on Twitter. Mostly, it's things like "Hey, I'm at this part of the game now." Sometimes I'll post commentary. It's usually only a couple of tweets a night because I am moving at a snail's pace through the game. I'm also sharing FF VI (among other things) related stuff on Tumblr.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017 - Volume 10

It's been moving a bit slower than I'd like--partially because I meant to spend the last couple of nights sketching here at work, but I kind of forgot to restock my drawing folder with paper, so I ran out of paper to draw on... Oops. In theory, I could draw on lined paper, because I still have lots of that, but it messes with my head. I'm not sure why it's such a mental problem for me, especially since I will be scanning all these pages into the computer to do the lines and color digitally. Is there anyone else weird about things like this? One of these days, I'll get over it... Maybe... One of these days, I'll also start doing the sketches on the computer too instead of insisting on pencil and paper.

Anyways, here's a few archetype tag sketches: Survivor, Lolita, and Fortune Teller. Again apologies for the bad pictures. Lighting is not great here at work.



Monday, September 4, 2017

Being Intentional

So I posted a while ago about some of the health problems I've been dealing with, as well as some of the other things that have been going on over the last couple of years. I've been out of the art loop for several years now, and I probably haven't been really 100% on top of things with my art studio since before the crazy moves in 2011 and 2012 before Sophie was born. 2014 was a bad year. 2015 was spent recovering from 2014. 2016 sucked too, and I've been determined to not let 2017 be just recovering from 2016, although that has been a lot of it--more than I'd like.

But it hasn't been all of it. That pleases me. Things are also going to change. In good ways. I've been very focused on intention this year. I want everything I do to have a purpose. For example, consider this blog. I've been doing better about posting here consistently, but it hasn't been perfect. Instead of wasting energy stressing over what I've missed or haven't been able to get done when I wanted, I've moved on. For the blog that's meant, letting the missed post (or two or three posts) go. I'm not going to stress over posting something late. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I'll just pick up with the next planned post and move on. For other projects, it has meant re-evaluating my goals to keep them reasonable, not stressing when I don't meet deadlines I set for myself. It's also meant putting limits on what I say I can do.

In general though, things are improving. I've been posting here more consistently, and it gets better with each month. I'm getting to where I can work on projects more consistently too. Some weeks are definitely better than others--this is going to be one of those more stressful weeks. I'm writing this at 3 a.m. from work (I work nights as a 9-1-1 call taker). This isn't my normal shift, but I was on-call tonight, and got called in. I work normally this week Monday and Tuesday night, as well as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. To offset that, I only work Wednesday and Thursday nights next week, but it does make for a tough week this week, especially since I'm on call again Thursday, and there's at least a 65% chance I will need to come in. So, it's going to be a rough week, mostly for sleep and remembering to do things--like post on this blog--in a timely manner. The hardest part about these crazy weeks is that I lose track of time and what day it is. I like my job though. And, it's a consistent paycheck that is helping to pay off all the medical bills from the last year. Although I'd love it if my art studio could pull off that kind of consistency, it's unrealistic to expect it to take off like that after being on hiatus for several years.

I do have plans to transition this to being my full time job, but it's going to take some time. We've got some great plans for what's going to be happening in the next couple of years. 2017 has been about getting back on my feet and getting things going again--it's been slower than I'd like, and there have been set backs, but I'm pleased to see things (especially good things) happening. I'm looking forward to 2018 being even better. This is intentional. I am doing things to make 2018 better and not just hoping that it will be that way.