Wednesday, August 16, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017 - Volume 7

This week I'm sharing some progress pictures on the new nerdy necktie line I'm working on. Featured in this week is progress on the Tie of Gondor and a shot of the fabric for the next several ties.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Classic Films - Episode 3

 - Guest Contribution by my husband and writer (which is kind of ironic since I write the blog)

Okay so this film is a little bit of a guilty pleasure. We watched Wargames, 1983 starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy in a non-John Hughes film. I really liked this movie growing up and I think it appealed to my kids in the same way.
The movie follows a high-school computer hacker who accidentally breaks into a military computer and almost starts WWIII. All the while, he thinks he’s just playing a new video games from a game company while he’s telling the military’s computers that Russia is attacking the US with nuclear bombs. My kids found the concept of a high-school hacker amusing.
The film is definitely dated in terms of technology. The computer dials up through a rotary phone. Our hacker has to use 51/4 inch floppy disks to run his programs because his computer doesn’t really have a hard drive. There’s a 7-11. I honestly haven’t seen one of those in years. Throw in the 1980s hairstyles, clothing, and Dabney Coleman and you have a quintessential 80s flick.
What I had forgotten was how much this film actually addressed some concepts that were years ahead of its time. The first idea was to computerize human jobs in order to remove human error. We’re still arguing this concept as we move steadily towards computer-driven cars. The second is, of course, AI, which I believe is technically impossible. Computers can only do what they are told. They have two settings, on and off. Here, the computer “learns” a key philosophical concept of futility by playing tic-tac-toe. Lastly, we have the idea of games versus reality.
There’s one great point in the film in which David, Broderick’s character asks the computer if they are playing a game or if what they are doing is real. The AI computer responds, “What’s the difference?” When you really think about it, this can break your brain. After all, both are real in the sense that they actually exist but the concept of game and how it relates to play are really tough to tease apart. After all, do professional athletes play a game or are they working? What’s the difference? If it’s money, then is gambling really a form of play? I teach a class in game studies so we often spend the first two weeks discussing the meaning of play and game and then we watch The Game and many minds get blown.
Back to Wargames for a moment. My kids wanted to know why the military would even have games on their computers and so we talked a bit about how games and war are similar. Both rely on tactics. Both attempt to have a winner and a loser in a contest of skill, numbers, luck, and strength. Both have rules. Both can have cheaters. Chess is really just a symbolic version of war. The military uses games like “America’s Army” for training and as a recruitment tool. Wargames is actually a clever play on the meaning of the two words.
What I noticed this time around was the acting. Matthew Broderick plays a rather meek teen. He gets very submissive around authority figures, looks at the floor, and speaks in a contrite tone when he is being addressed by most of the adults. When he talks to adults that have no authority over him, he behaves humbly and actually praises their skills. It’s a very different kind of teen then we see in movies today who are often loud, aggressive, and confrontational when it comes to adults or authority figures.
I had forgotten Ally Sheedy was in this film. Honestly, her role as Jennifer in the movie seems at first to be just to serve as a romantic interest but a careful look tells us more. She’s the Watson to David’s Sherlock Holmes. He explains to her what he is doing and thus explains it to us the audience providing a reason for the exposition. He’s portrayed as a non-athletic geek. She is his reverse. He takes the bus. She rides a motorcycle. He stays in his room. She exercises. He can’t swim. She can. When he freaks out after discovering that he broke into a military computer, she calms him down. Even though she really doesn’t do a whole lot to affect the overall story plot, she has character. The funny part is that the film doesn’t draw much attention to it.
I actually really loved the snarky general played by Barry Corbin. When the computer takes over the US missile controls and threatens to begin thermonuclear war, he turns to the computer expert and says, “You know. Your fancy computer system really sucks.” It’s just such a wonderfully sarcastic line and Corbin delivers it with comic perfection. It took me a while to figure out that Stephen Falken is actually a reference to Stephen Hawkins, the brilliant physicist. Falken is your stereotypical genius antisocial inventor. His only unique quality is that he’s given up on life after the loss of his child and wife. Somehow David and Jennifer reach him and he comes along with them. He doesn’t solve anything. His role is merely to get the military leaders to listen to David for a moment by confirming that the computer is playing a game with them.

Wargames is a cool movie. It has a simple message that no one wins in a nuclear war. I think we can pretty much agree with that idea. While our relations with Russia have changed, this film could still be made today.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017- Volume 6

This post is brought to you by more work on the new badges. I'm working on sketching all of them out before I put them in the computer to finish. This week adds the Bounty Hunter, Mecha, Swordsman, Magic Girl, and Lycanthrope to the finished sketches. Apologies for lame photo quality. =P I was using my phone and it was kind of late, so bad lighting.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Animazement Art

This post is going to be my last post about Animazement this year. I promise.

This post is dedicated to the awesome art I picked up in Animazement's Artist Alley this year.

The first artist: I don't have a name for her. She had no cards. She said she didn't have a website. I got the impression she was a first time artist. If anyone knows anything about her, let me know so I can link proper credit. Anyways, the first print is of Saber Lily from one of the Fate games. No idea which one. I'd never seen any of the series or played any of the games when I saw the print. I loved the character design though. It's the kind of thing I'd love to cosplay. Anyways. Second print is from Sword Art Online. I loved the last story arc for the 2nd season, and I love that I found art that did not over-sexualize Asuna. I love the series, but have been less than happy with most of the fanart I see for it in the AA. I'm sure the sexy Asuna probably sells better, but it's not my cup of tea. I thought this picture was super cute. Moving on. Third print I got from this artist was from Love Live. I watched Love Live during a really depressing period I was going through last fall, and I fell in love with the series. I loved all the different costume designs, and I would love to cosplay from this series one day. It's the kind of thing though where I don't want to do it by myself--it'd be so much more fun to cosplay with a group.

The second artist: ShavoStars. I loved this artist's Last Unicorn art. I got her unicorn version for a friend for his birthday, and got the Amalthia version for myself. Love it. So much nostalgia. Last Unicorn is one of my favorite childhood things. Right next to Labyrinth and Princess Bride. Would also love to cosplay Amalthia.

The third artist I got things from was NoFlutter. I've always loved her stuff. So, I know I complained about sexy art above, but this is a kind of stylistic sexy that I really like. I've been a fan of NoFlutter's art for a while, and I was super pleased to see her at Animazement. Anyways, I picked up a group pic of the Inner Senshi in Amazon-style Warrior designs, I'm assuming inspired by Wonder Woman. The other print I got from her was a steampunk style Wonder Woman. Both of these designs were amazing, in my opinion. I would love to cosplay them. (Do we see a theme here).

Now I just need to get these lovelies hung up in my craft room. =D

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pokemon GO

I don't know if anyone here plays Pokemon GO, but I do... admittedly only half-heartedly.

It does help that lots of Pokemon show up where I work now, and I have access to a Pokestop from my basement cubicle. Beyond casual play, though, I don't think the game has much appeal. I like collecting things, so I do enjoy playing. It spices up (somewhat) the usually dull walks around my neighborhood, which I take on days when it's not hot. I admit that my courage fails when it comes to warm weather. Over 80 degrees, and I melt. Sadly that's a good bit of the year where I live. This week I've been looking at temperatures in the upper 90s. Dying...

Back on topic. So, I play on Team Mystic because I like what it stands for, plus blue is my other favorite color. My husband and eldest son play (all Team Mystic). My mom and brother play--also Team Mystic. So clearly, Team Mystic is the most awesome team -- because I'm there... Just kidding.

The new mechanics for the gyms look fun. I haven't really played with it as I don't live near any gyms. From what I have seen, it does seem more engaging than the previous system. Maybe I'll get a chance to play around with the new mechanics some time soon.

Anyways, anyone else here still play Pokemon GO? What team are you on? Just curious.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Tribute to Ferret

Instead of the planned WIP today, I'm going to share a tribute to my cat Ferret who passed away yesterday--because he was an awesome cat who deserves to be remembered, and I didn't get pictures of the WIP stuff for today because of taking care of him yesterday. 

This is the tribute that my husband wrote and posted on our personal Facebook pages yesterday after the fact. I'm sharing it here, because he is way more eloquent than I am. 

So today our pet cat Ferret passed away. When Sarah and I got married seventeen years ago, even before we had Ty, we decided that we wanted to adopt two cats. We had just started a small web business and we reached out to one of the animal shelters. Not only did we make their webpage (long gone now I'm sure) but they happened to have two kittens we could take. They were a brother and sister from a litter of kittens left in a bag along I40. We took both. This post is going to run a little long since I'm dedicating it to both of them. Initially, we thought to name them after Lord of the Rings characters but decided that they were just too undignified for that. We decided to name them after rodents instead. Ferret got his name because he was a little skittish but also curious. He would carefully poke around until he felt comfortable with a place. His tail was so long that when he was a kitten it would periodically tap him on the top of the head and he would startle himself. When the door got left open, all of the cats would be outside except Ferret who preferred the comfort of his home. His sister we called Squirrel because she was high-strung and a bit of a spaz. I remember watching her run head-on into a Television set because she wasn't watching where she was going. We lost Squirrel about ten years ago. She fell out of a window, ran off, and never came back. She was a sweet, fat cat. She was very affectionate and loved laps. She also kept Ferret clean because he wasn't really good at grooming himself. We like to think she found a home because she loved people and food and if anyone ever found her and fed her, should would have moved right in with them. Ferret, on the other hand, remained a constant with us throughout all of our moves, children, and life changes. He was a very calm cat unless you put him in a carrier at which point he would completely lose it. The first time we put him in one, the whole carrier shook and rattled until it broke apart. Ferret liked to head-butt you as a sign of affection. Ferret was also strong. He didn't pick fights but he would certainly end them. In one of the pictures in this post, he received a reward from Luke who, as part of a class experiment, measured all of the cats movements over an hour and determined that Ferret was the most active. We think he had a stroke last year but somehow recovered from it. All in all, an amazing survivor. Ferret and Squirrel were both important members of our family that were with Sarah and I from the very beginning of our marriage. We will cherish their memory. In the pictures, Ferret is the champaign cat and Squirrel is the grey one. You'll also see a picture of Bunny, the calico cat, whom we lost earlier this year. Ferret was 17 years old.

Monday, July 31, 2017

AZ With Sophie

It's been a while since I've gone to a convention with a smaller child -- not an infant or toddler, but not an older kid either. Sophie's birthday is right before AZ (This is why we missed attending in 2012). This year, Sophie was a brand new 5 year old, who was already planning her 6th birthday and telling everyone about it.

She was into everything at the convention. It was a challenge keeping after her, especially in the Dealer's Room and Artist Alley. She's also at a stage in life where rolling on the floor is fun. Another challenge because con floors are pretty nasty, at least in my opinion. She's at a more independent age where she doesn't want to hold my hand and doesn't want to stay with us--she wants to do her own thing, especially when her own thing entails screeching and rolling on the floor...

There were challenges, but also surprising positives. She was much more engaged with the con than I expected. She was thrilled with all the cosplayers, and she didn't just want pictures of them. She wanted her picture with them. She tended to pick out princesses, super heroes, and goth-style cosplayers. Everyone she asked for a picture was super kind to her and very obliging. They made her weekend. She was also absolutely enamored with Artist Alley, much more than she was with the Dealer's Room. She would have bought something from almost every table if she could have. This pleases me, because, as an artist, I love to see her enthusiasm to support other artists. It was also cool, because with very few exceptions (Pokemon, Ladybug, and Sailor Moon), she did not recognize any of the fanart, but she loved what people had created anyways.

It was nice being with someone with her enthusiasm... most of the time. The rest of the time, it was exhausting. I'm feeling the old after Animazement this year. It was tough keeping up with her.