Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017 - Volume 5

Hey, two posts in one week. It's a miracle.

So anyways, I'm working on a couple of projects, but one of the bigger projects is redrawing all my archetypes. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that before. I posted a WIP pic earlier this year too. I've decided I don't like 3 of the pictures I posted there though, so... I'll be redrawing those. Anyways, this week's WIP post includes 7 more archetype sketches. I'm also playing with colors for the final versions.

Witch, Wizard, Wise Master

Ghost, Necromancer, Viking, Ninja

These are some of the color variantions. I'm leaning toward #2 and #3. Probably #3... This is also one of the designs I'm throwing out because I don't like it. No other reason.

I'm also working on a new line of something awesome. More on that to come, but here's a teaser picture. The top 3 fabrics are designs I had printed at Spoonflower. I haven't laid out things yet, but I'm hoping the sizing works. @_@

Monday, June 19, 2017

Finding a Groove

There have been a lot of changes around here. I've posted about some of them. Posting here and other places has been inconsistent, but I'm working on that. Part of it is I am trying to find my new groove with what's going on. Things are just very different, schedule-wise, to what I've done for the last 15 years or so. It's getting better. I'm starting to find a groove. I'm working on finding a place for everything.

Time for work--that's a set schedule, so this is really what I'm having to work around. Time for sleep. Time for my family. Time for my kids' school--we are still homeschooling because that is something that I feel is super important for our family. Time for art--this has been and remains to be my day-to-day stress relief.

What still needs to happen is to organize that time, so that I get things posted here in a consistent manner. It's about being mindful of what needs to be done, and it's also about regrounding myself temporally. The one thing I've had the most trouble with adjusting to with the shift to working nights is time--as in, what day is it? I find that I lose days at a time. I look back and realize that I never posted here on Wednesday or Friday and it is now Saturday. Oops. So, I'm having to work on my awareness of time.

But anyways, I'm working on finding my groove. I'm trying some new ways to organize the things I want to see finished and when I want them done. It's a lot of trial and error. We'll see how my plan for this week goes. We'll see what works and what doesn't. Then I'll adjust it for next week. It's slow, but there's progress. I may not be posting here consistently, but I'm posting. I may not be sharing a lot of WIP stuff, but I am getting things done. =D If this week goes well, maybe I'll get some WIP pics posted Wednesday, and I'd love to share our Animazement fun on Friday--I have a review of the convention I want to write up, and I have a post planned on the cosplays we put together for the con. If this week doesn't go how I think it will, then maybe those things will come next week. =P

Friday, June 2, 2017

Summer Classic Films - Episode 1

So, we're going to do a little something different around here. With my new job and the health problems I've had, keeping up with my blog and other social media stuff has been difficult. So, my husband is going to be contributing more to the blog here. This is related to the studio because he's the one that does all the writing for my prints and badges. He also wrote the Anime RPG book you may have seen at my table, so it makes sense for him to write some stuff for my blog. For the summer, on most Fridays, I will be sharing some reflections related to a film project he's been doing with the kids. He's big fan of film, and he teaches a variety of film classes at the college level. These posts are going to be a little longer than what I normally write, but I think they're worth the read. So, without further rambling, here's the first Friday post for the Summer Classic Film Project...

The Sting

As part of a summer activity, I have decided to watch classic films with my children. I want them to have to a good cultural background in film so the plan is to watch a number of movie classics and then talk about them. I was inspired to try this after I finished teaching a film art class in the spring. I was actually rather surprised at how few movies over twenty years old that my students were familiar with let alone seen.

I’ve already exposed my children to a number of what you might call geeky classics. They’ve seen films like Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and the older Batman movies. We’ve even watched some of the more obscure ones like The Monster Squad, Ferris Bueller, and Murder by Death. As such, I’m going to experiment here a little more and show them more dramas and action films that aren’t quite as well known. Our first film was The Sting.

Made in 1973, The Sting features a pair of con artists named Hooker (Robert Redford) and Gondorff (Paul Newman) who exact revenge against a corrupt mobster named Lonnegan, played by the excellent Robert Shaw who was the drunk shark-hunter in Jaws. It’s a fairly straightforward story with a few twists along the way to make things interesting. It’s set in the 1930s and certainly captures the feel of destitution and dirt that I often associated with my limited knowledge of the Great Depression period.

One of the more interesting aspects of the film is how it not only creates this underworld fantasy of crime but it populates the world with a society of con men with goofy nicknames like Kid Twist and Combs. These men apparently have their own secret society with signals to identify one another and will on occasion band together to act out a complicated con story for big bucks. They play off one another to create an intricate story with which to bamboozle the poor schmuck they’ve decided to rip off. In this case, the con is revenge for the murder of one of their members. As such, it is a satisfying story of crooks stealing from other crooks. It probably wouldn’t have been as good if they had decided to just target a rich guy who was a little more empathetic.

The film opens with a couple of clips from the movie and a description of the players. This is a nice nod to earlier silent films that used this term when listing the opening credits since film in the early days drew heavily from plays. After an introduction to our main characters, the film halts over a still image of people sitting at a street corner. Some have chairs. One rests against a car. In the background we see a man rummaging around in the trash. It almost looks like a painting depicting the squalor and general hopelessness I have when I picture 1930s urban Americana. The still image shifts to movement revealing it not to be a painting but part of a film.

The camera then cuts to a man walking past all of the poor street dwellers. We only see the man’s shoes and they are clearly clean and expensive. They stand in stark contrast to the poverty around them. The man climbs some very dirty and rusty old stairs and enters a room bustling with people. We hear another man talking on the phone about the day’s take and how the police shut the group down for an hour. While we are not privy to the whole story, there are enough pieces here to suggest that these men are involved in an organized crime racket. Probably gambling but it’s hard to say.

Matolla, our well-groomed man from the street, is given some money and told to take it to Chicago. He leaves and as he walks down the street, he observes a robbery. Our man doesn’t get involved but another man, Hooker, steps into the scene and foils the robbery. A short exchange occurs in which Matolla agrees to deliver the robbery victim’s money to a group of loan sharks. What Matolla doesn’t realize is that he is being conned and is quickly relieved of all of his money. Thus begins The Sting.

The movie has some interesting and likeable characters, a complicated confidence scam, some assassins, and some very corrupt police officers. It doesn’t cut as often as newer movies but then again it is rather dialog heavy. That’s something that really stood out to me on this viewing. The characters in this film rattle off a ton of slang. I’m not sure if people in the 1930s spoke like this or if it is only a Hollywood reimagining but I found myself reflecting on the language a lot here. A lot of the slang was vanishing from general vocabulary when I was a kid. I can only imagine the confusion of my own children as they heard words like moxie and sting thrown around like cotton candy.

In particular there is one scene in which our conmen observe a detective entering a pub. One of the con men remarks, “I’ve never seen him before. He’s a dick, though.” I know from my experience that dick was an old slang term for police detective. My kids have only heard that word used as an insult meaning a jerk. The two meanings were probably synonymous once upon a time but the former term is no longer really well known among the younger generation.

That’s not to say I was able to follow the dialog all of the time either. I still have no idea what “droople drooze” is supposed to mean. Robert Shaw’s Irish accent is almost indecipherable at times when he rattles off phrases like, “You don’t see my men rumbling around with such riffraff.” Overall though, I think my kids were able to follow the story. The older two in particular really liked some of the card tricks and lies that the con men used to trick the evil mob boss.

One little thing that amused me is that at one point, Hooker and Gondorff are playing Cribbidge together. They only play one hand and for the most part the game is really just to give the two something to do with their hands while they rattle off exposition and character reflection. However, they played the game correctly. I like that kind of detail in a film.

In summary, The Sting is a fun film. It won a ton of academy awards and made a lot of money in the box office when it came out 45 years ago. There is one scene in which we see a woman’s naked backside and part of her breast. In the same scene is a woman doing a semi-risky strip tease in a bikini bottom and nipple covers. There are also a couple of murders in which one person gets shot in the head. I was actually rather surprised that the film has only a PG rating. I had forgotten those moments when I first saw the film years ago.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

I Went Away Again

So I disappeared again. Hopefully this will be the last time for a while.

So where'd I go this time?

Basically, I ended up back in the hospital. Which sucks. A lot.

Why? Well basically it turns out that my hemoglobin deficiency wasn't fixing itself like we thought it was because, apparently, I had no iron. Pretty much none. At all. So my hemoglobin had dropped back to where it was when last fall when this whole mess started.

And I passed out at work. Which also sucked. A lot.

So, I've spent the last 2 months resting and recovering and doing only what I absolutely needed to do to get by. I posted a brief note to this point on Facebook, but never made it here to post either. Oops. I blame lack of oxygen to my brain. Totally legitimate. Because, you know, even though I had lots of red blood cells, I didn't have iron, and iron's necessary for hemoglobin. Without hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying part of our blood) I was not getting enough oxygen to function.

Anyways, I'm feeling better now, and hopefully it's going to stay that way.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017 - Volume 4

I've been working on more of what you saw last week: Angel is almost finished (at least for this part--the entire print has a lot more to it). The Magic Girl commission is finished. This one was fun. I was given a lot of creative license to come up with the design--I was given red hair, blue eyes, bare midriff, wields a great sword, and uses the element of steel. Also the yin-yang symbol because this character's normal form is a guy--he becomes a girl when he transforms.

Monday, February 27, 2017

My New Diet

Anyone, who has been around me for any length of time will know that I am not a health nut. Not even close.

Although I never really overate, my eating habits were pretty abysmal. It's only slight exaggeration to say that I happily lived off of bacon and chocolate, although not necessarily together. Just kidding. Needless to say though, what we ate didn't qualify as a well-balanced diet.

Early last fall, my youngest son was diagnosed with ADHD. After a ton of testing, they determined that his brain was either missing or not making enough of a chemical that is key to brain function. This chemical essentially slows down incoming impulses for processing so that it can be forwarded to the proper part of the brain to create an appropriate response. That means that impulses come in, and they go straight back out as a response, but without the processing that makes the response appropriate and effective.

Now during that time, I had started researching the gut. I was having problems with fatigue and brain fog, and I flat out didn't feel good--not sick, but off. Of course it had nothing to do with the fact that nursing school was taking 60+ hours a week, I was still a homeschooling mom of 4, and I still had a husband that needed some attention. That had nothing to do with it at all. *rolls eyes* It probably didn't help, especially the high stress parts. Anyways, I was learning a lot about intestinal absorption and brain function, so when my son came back with ADHD diagnosis related to chemical imbalance I made a connection with the food we were eating.

So, just after I got out of the hospital, after Thanksgiving, we started a reset diet--the whole family participated. We removed all gluten, dairy, sugar, and processed foods from our diet. That didn't leave a whole lot, especially considering 90% of what we ate were carbs. That first week or so was challenging in that we had no idea what to fix. Plus, buying real foods on a budget is another challenge. After 3 weeks off of everything, we added back in gluten in the form of whole grains. We also added back in some dairy in limited quantities. We continue to strictly limit sugar. When we want to sweeten something we try to use raw honey or maple syrup instead of sugar. We have learned to read and understand labels. We have learned that some of our old favorite recipes still work with some adjustments.

My son is a lot like the stereotypical 9-year-old kid. All he wants to live off of is macaroni and cheese (and we're not talking good homemade stuff, but the boxed stuff that is only one step up from plastic). This change was really tough on him. He has been particularly stubborn about this, but we have noticed a profound difference in him. So, he may not be eating much (we're still working on that), but there is something he is not eating that is helping him to function so much better.

I also saw improvements in myself. I am less fatigued--I still get tired easily (and given the circumstances, that's to be expected), but it's different from that bone-weary dead-on-my-feet fatigued feeling. My brain is clearer. Now, if anything, I have the problem of too many thoughts and ideas flying through my brain. I'm having trouble processing everything; it's like my brain is trying to play catch-up from the last couple years of being MIA (I think it was replaced with a Gelatinous Cube). On the plus side, I have so many amazing ideas for my art studio and other things. On the down side, it can be a little overwhelming to sort through and try to focus, so that something actually gets finished, and this doesn't add to my 2 million started but unfinished projects that I have in my craft room. (2 million is only mild exaggeration.)

Anyways, December was tough. January was  better. February is about over, and I think we've made some positive lifestyle changes. I am also super appreciative of my husband, who is the primary cook in this family. This would not have been possible if he had not been on board. <3 No lie, I have the best husband in the world.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dr. Strange

Warning: This post might contain spoilers.

So, I mentioned in my Anniversary Post, that I went to see Dr. Strange. Yes, I know we're late to the scene. We almost missed it completely in the theaters. In my defense, I hardly ever go to the theaters anymore. I've never been a movie person--much to the chagrin of my husband who loves movies. It's expensive, and I can usually think of lots of other things I'd rather be doing than spending an hour plus in the car to go see a movie... like crafting. But anyways.

I loved this movie. Benedict Cumberbatch plays arrogant jerk so well. I loved him in Sherlock, in spite of the fact that his Sherlock Holmes was not all that likable. His version of Stephen Strange was not all that likable either. I had no trouble feeling that he was getting what he deserved with the wreck and the aftermath. Instead of being thankful to be alive, he lashed out cruelly at those around him. Seriously, it took some suspension of disbelieve to accept that he had survived the crash at all, although maybe he didn't, and everything that followed was some weird afterlife thing or coma-induced dream. There was no life-changing perspective thing at that point. No life flashing before the eyes. No re-evaluation of purpose. Just Stephen Strange, arrogant jerk.

I do like intelligent men though (I stand by that; I even married a college professor). I think this movie celebrates study (life-long learning FTW) and creativity. Both are things I appreciate. At least, this is what I think the movie highlighted. Of course, that could be my own personal bias rearing its head there. In any case, in spite of the unpleasant personality of the main character, especially early in the movie, I really liked this movie.

I will also add that I loved the extra at the end with Thor. <3 <3 <3 I do hope I will get to see Dr. Strange interacting with Loki--as friends or enemies. I don't care. I expect a significant amount of satisfaction from that.

I also think that my husband should cosplay Dr. Strange. It seriously needs to happen. He looks a lot like him already, except that he has long hair right now.