Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017 - Volume 8

This week, I'm sharing some pictures of some crochet amigurumi plushies I've been working on. I'm working on some badge tags to go with them, too. These are similar to the ones I've made in the past, except I've cleaned up the patterns, and instead of just using scrap yarn from around my craft room, I'm picking a specific brand of yarn with lots of color options, so I can keep things consistent to go with the tags. Pictured this week is a Kitty and part of a Bunny. I'm working on redesigning the bunny tail so I'm not using the little poof balls anymore. Those were cute and fuzzy, but they're a pain to find in my area, and the colors don't necessarily go with what I want to use with the yarn, so... working on alternatives. You can see what I've come up with below. I'm debating on a small tail, which is more proportionate, or a larger tail more the size of what I had with the poofs. I'm also loving the colored eyes eye I got to experiment with this time around. Will definitely want to order more of those. Anyways, pictures were taken at work at about 2am, so lighting is meh at best. =P
Bunny

Bunny with larger tail

Bunny with smaller tail
Kitty

Will be a blue calico Kitty

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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Classic Films - Episode 2

This episode's film is a classic in many books: Twelve Angry Men. Based on a play, the film follows 12 unnamed jurors as they debate a murder case. The films begins with 11 jurors convinced that a young boy killed his father. Only one disagrees. By the end of the film (spoiler alert), the jurors find the defendant innocent. I use this film in my public speaking classes as a discussion on argumentation and persuasion because it is such an excellent example of it. As such, I have seen this film well over a dozen times.

I’m referring of course to the 1957 version starring Henry Fonda as juror number seven, the only one who begins by assuming the boy on trial is innocent. I’ve had students remark in the past that they hate black and white films but really enjoyed this one. My kids felt the same way. They really liked this one. My second child remarked that juror #7 should really be the judge or the trial lawyer.
We had a fun talk afterwards about the justice system. This film is unique because we really don’t know if the boy killed his father or not. If this was a classic Hollywood film, we would begin by seeing the boy get framed for the murder, everyone disbelieving his story except some plucky young lawyer, throw in an odd love subplot, and the film would climax in a passionate plea to the jury for true justice. The jury would leave and then come back minutes later, announce a verdict of innocence, there would be much rejoicing, and everyone would go celebrate at a barbecue. Instead, none of that happens.

We don’t see the murder. We don’t really see the trial. Instead we begin with a very bored looking judge say that the jury must decide whether the boy is guilty or innocent and that they must all agree. The judge nonchalantly tells them how important this decision is but acts as if he’d rather be out golfing because he recites his speech in a dull monotone. Ninety percent of the film takes place in one room as the jurors debate the facts of the case. When they decide their verdict, we don’t even see the boy’s face. Instead the film ends with the various jurors walking their separate ways outside the court steps. As my eldest put it, “They just kind of blend in with the crowd. It’s as if they are just everyday people.” And that’s the point of the film. The decision doesn’t affect them. One juror even states, “We receive a summons in the mail. We decide the guilt or innocence of a man we don’t even know. It’s what makes us strong.”

I’ve been called onto jury duty once or twice but had to decline because I was still a student at the time. My kids found it interesting to hear that they might one day be called in to decide justice on some case. I warned them, however, that they don’t need to be juror number 7 and convince everyone that the defendant is innocent. Sometimes they are guilty. When I asked my kids whether they thought the boy really killed his father, they weren’t sure. The arguments were well-made but there were some holes in the story such as the murder weapon happening to be the same as a knife the boy bought that afternoon. It’s a bit of a coincidence.
What’s fun though is looking at the personalities of the different jurors. Even though they are never named, each one is distinct. You have the highschool football coach, the baseball fan, the angry father, the stock broker, the advertiser (whose job is persuasion but he himself seems unsure of it), the prejudiced man, the older gentleman, and the European watch-maker. It’s a fascinating crew of individuals. It’s also interesting to watch juror #7 work. He begins not by saying everyone is wrong, then they would get defensive. Instead he just says he himself isn’t sure of the boy’s guilt and that the boy probably is guilty but may not be so they should talk things out.

This is an excellent persuasive strategy as it gives you a foothold for collaboration instead of opposition. Henry Fonda, playing juror number seven, excellently maneuvers the group to look at each fact and consider possible alternatives. However, it is the last three jurors to convince that are the most interesting.

Aristotle argued that there are three different forms of appeals: Logos, pathos, and ethos. This is called the rhetorical triangle. Each of the last three jurors represents one of these. The first is the prejudiced man. He requires an ethos appeal. Ethos refers to quality of character. We are more likely to be convinced by someone whom we respect and deem trustworthy. What matters most to him is the character of the boy. He assumes the boy is a violent criminal because of his upbringing. He makes a speech about how dangerous poor people are and everyone in the room turns away from him. Confused, he keeps saying “Listen to me.” At which point one of the jurors, one who agrees with him that the boy is guilty, tells the prejudiced man to “Not speak again.” The prejudiced man has to be shown that just because the boy is poor and has a violent past does not mean he committee this specific crime.

Next to go is the stock-broker who is very thoughtful and likes things to make sense. He requires logos, which are logical appeals, in order to persuade him. His biggest concern was that a woman across the street saw the crime. This testimony is hard to argue unless she is lying and there didn’t seem to be any reason for it. However, one of the other jurors remarks that the woman had marks on her nose suggesting she wore glasses and if she did wear glasses, she wouldn’t have been able to see the killer clearly. The stock-broker agrees that this is logical and changes his opinion.

The last juror is the angry father played by Lee Cobb. This character is awesome. He is extremely emotional and often shouts out unintentional statements that reinforce juror #7’s arguments. It is hinted at earlier that he had a falling out with his own son and doesn’t like ungrateful children. When all of the other jurors confront him about the guilt of the boy at the end, angry father pulls out his wallet of notes and throws them on the table. Included on the pile is a picture of him with his own son who hasn’t spoken to in years. The angry father says, “There it is. That’s the whole case right there.” He then tears up the picture of him hugging his son and breaks down in tears.

This man requires pathos, or emotional appeals. He is angry at his own son. He has misplaced this anger on the boy on trial. He empathizes with the dead father and wants justice for the murdered man and also for himself. The other jurors don’t really have to say anything but they silently make this frustrated man realize why he is so angry. He finally gets his emotions in check and agrees with the other jurors as to the boy’s innocence.


Overall, 12 Angry Men is an incredible film. The story is engaging. The characters are memorable. Cinematically, it’s well crafted. The camera begins with long shots and moves closer and closer to the characters. By the conclusion, the camera is almost always showing close-ups, which reflects the intensity of the conversation and the mental debate. It is a fun, thoughtful film about persuasion, truth, and the American justice system.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Animazement 2017 - Part 1

Animazement 2017

... was a blast. There are no other words for it.

I cosplayed--for the first time in years.

It was refreshing.

The costumes weren't anything brilliant. Friday's were very (obviously) last minute. But I had fun--and that's the most important part right?

Friday, my daughter Sophie dressed as Princess Aurora. It was a dress she had gotten as a hand-me-down from her cousin. She loves wearing it, and I thought Animazement would be an excellent excuse to wear it. Last minute, I decided to put together King Stefan and Queen Leah costumes for my husband and I -- because Aurora has a complete set of living parents and why not?

Saturday and Sunday, my husband and I and Ty, my oldest son, cosplayed as the three Marowaks from the Alolan fire trial (Pokemon Sun and Moon). A friend of ours came along dressed as the Hiker from the trial as well. This was a lot of fun. Technically we had Sophie dressed up as a Salazzle, but she wouldn't keep the costume on, so meh. You win some, you lose some.

In the end, I had a great weekend. I am going to post more later on con-going with a smaller child and on some of my great finds in the Artist Alley.

No pictures from Friday; I will try to find some. But here's one I found of us on Saturday:

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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017 - Volume 3

In the last week, I've been working on a commission and art for one of my Archetype print sets. The commission is for someone's original character. It is a magic-girl character they use for roleplaying including a D&D/Pathfinder game using the rules for the Anime RPG book we released several years ago. The other art is for a print involving the Angel archetype. This image is only part of the picture--it's going to be kind of like a compilation picture. I'm super excited about the set.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Where I've Been

This is going to be a bit of a tough post for me to write. I've been gone for what feels like forever. I've done some drawing, some posting, but I've overall been absent from the art world, social media, and all kinds of other things. So, where have I been?

Well, to start with, in 2014 I went through a early second trimester miscarriage with twins and traumatic treatment at the hands of an OB/GYN during one of the three emergency room visits during the 2 days it took to completely resolve the miscarriage and the complications from it. Emotionally, I was upset (and that's putting it lightly). Physically, I felt violated. I found out a year later that I could have taken the doctor to court for assault and battery, but I didn't know that at the time. I did call to complain, but was told that my story did not match what the doctor charted (big surprise), and they were going to go with what was in the chart. This is a very brief summary of those events. Women's health has always been something that is very important to me. There's a lot of talk about abortion rights and birth control and what not, but my focus is more on the other side of that coin. Women have few options and are often mistreated by the medical industry during the prenatal period and labor process. I'm not even going to talk about the general lack of postpartum support in our country because that could be a whole post in and of itself. My experience in 2014 pushed me to start training as a midwife. In my state (North Carolina), the only legal way to practice as a midwife is as a licensed Certified Nurse Midwife under the charge of a doctor. This meant going back to school becoming a licensed RN, getting a bachelors in Nursing, and a masters degree in Midwifery--seven years of school all told. Ok. I was fine with that.

Later that year, I started school working on prerequisites for nursing. The next year, I got into the ADN program at my local community college (this would have gotten the RN stage completed). That ate a ton of my time. I struggled to manage school, which took up easily 60 hours a week and I wasn't even full time, and my family. Needless to say, there was no time for art or any of the fun things I enjoyed doing. I was working for something that was very near and dear to my heart, so I felt it was worth it. This accounts for a huge chunk of where I've been.

You'll note the verb tense I used to describe my program--"would have gotten." In September I found out I was pregnant again. I was excited. I love my family, and I love my kids, and I was thrilled that we might have another child. That was not going to happen though. At an appointment the end of October, we found out there was no longer a heartbeat. She (yes, this would have been a sister for little Sophie) had seemed so healthy. We even had genetic testing done and everything came back fine, even though it wasn't. I was devastated. At the time, I went ahead and took a medical withdrawal from school because I needed time emotionally and there was a chance of repeat complications. Jump ahead to November. There were complications. I hemorrhaged. I lost 2/3 of my blood volume in about 3 hours. I am here now to write about this because I have an amazing OBGYN who is respectful and listens. We'd been in communication through her practice's website, so she knew what was going on. She was able to meet me at the hospital and start the surgery to fix the problem without the usual testing that has to be run. If I'd waited the 2-3 hours necessary for the testing, I probably would have died. My doctor is living proof that not all doctors in the birth industry are awful. Anyways. Once surgery was over, I went home within an hour. At the time we weren't aware of exactly how much blood I'd lost. I was able to get myself up and dressed, and was able to communicate coherently, so we knew my hemoglobin was low, but it didn't seem that bad.

So, yeah. We were wrong. Some of this was on  me, and I accept that. I told my doctor I did not want a transfusion or any other intervention unless I really needed it. Based on how I felt, she felt safe sending me home. Fast forward to about 36 hours later. I was back in the emergency room. I had experienced a couple of instances of severe chest pain during the day, and that night my OB's office told me to go back in to check on things. They checked hemoglobin and found out how low it was--turns out it was at a level where I shouldn't have been able to walk; they expected me to be barely conscious or not conscious. Except, I was conscious, talking, and walking around. Anyways, the chest pain was related to a mild-to-moderate level heart attack triggered by the extremely low blood volume and the strain that put on the heart. How bad was it? I don't think it was that bad now based on what information I've been able to glean from the cardiologist office, but they've been less than helpful with that. Anyways, this led to a period of hospitalization while they tried to figure out what exactly had happened and what needed to be done by it. Many thanks to those of you on Twitter who responded to my request for some fun, happy shows to watch while stuck there. Those days were miserable. I felt well enough after the transfusion (that was ordered as soon as the hemoglobin number came in) that it was really hard to sit there in bed.

Moving on, I went home with very little information and no clear idea of what had actually happened (I was not happy about that--there are a lot of things that I am unhappy about regarding that experience related to problems I have seen in the medical industry as both a patient and a nursing student). Things have been on the mend, minus a hiccup because of a severely nasty reaction to one of the medications they put me on. I am completely off the meds they put me on now, and things seem to be going okay. Blood volume is still low, but it is improving--it takes time to rebuild that volume. I think it should be back to normal in a few more months. Recovery is slow though because of the strain the incident caused on my heart. I have to be careful because it's super easy for my heart rate to get too high thanks to the low blood volume. When I say easy, I'm talking walking up one flight of stairs, switching laundry from the washer to the drier, doing dishes... all of those things will send my heart rate through the ceiling now. This is why I said in my post on Magfest I had to be really careful about my activity. Going outside was a thing because I'm not supposed to be out at all in anything under 40 because of how blood vessels respond to the cold, and it was in the teens. I may  have ignored that order one day, and I felt it later that day. Needless to say, I did not push that point again that weekend.

On the plus side, I'm back. I have more time for art now, since I'm still moderately restricted on activities, and I'm not in school anymore. Anyways, if there are days where I miss posting, or if things move a little more slowly (than I'd like)... it's related to all this medical stuff. Recovery is taking time. I have to be patient with it, and I hope my followers will be patient with me too. I'm looking forward to being "normal" by summer. I plan on applying for lots of conventions for the fall/winter 2017/2018. I've applied to Animazement this year, and I hope I get in. I'm going to be spending my recovery time preparing lots of new things for my table. I'm excited about what's coming. There have been a lot of crazy things in my life, but I'm not going to let them stop me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Magfest 2017

Magfest was my first 2017 convention. I went as an attendee--no table. I have to say I had an absolute blast. I'm not super sad that I didn't have a table either. I can't remember if I even applied for this year or not, but if I did, I'm glad I didn't get in. Things went so crazy last fall that there is no way I would have been prepared for it. I look forward to tabling there again. =D

I think I had more fun at this year's Magfest than I have at a convention in years--closest comparisons were Animazement 2008 (I think, it could have been 2009) and Anime Weekend Atlanta 2011 (I'm pretty sure on this one). Animazement 2008 was fun because we cosplayed Avatar: the Last Air Bender (I was Mae and my husband was Zuko <3 <3 <3), and there was a really fun photoshoot. This was the year I discovered that I really liked doing group photoshoots. Ok... thinking back that was actually Animazement 2011 not 2008. I remember now because that was the year I left my friend's Azula cosplay on our couch. Oops--she was super forgiving of me (best friend ever). But, that was the only year we lived at the house where that happened. Yep, clearly my memory has some issues. My excuse: age, plus I've been attending conventions since 2000, so it makes sense that a few of them might run together, right? AWA 2011 was fun for similar reasons. My cousin and I cosplayed Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. Again, I took a break from the table to go to a My Little Pony photoshoot. It was great, and included an unplanned sing-along of season 1-2 pony songs. It was awesome. I remember getting asked to leave the hotel because there were too many of us, and we were clogging up the lobby area. Fun times. 

I loved this year's Magfest for entirely different reasons though. There were no cosplays. I don't think I could have put one together even if I had the means. I'd only just been cleared by my doctor to even attend without a wheelchair or anything (severe activity restrictions). It was a little stressful because I did have to monitor my heart rate, and I could not go outside for the most part (this probably doesn't make a lot of sense, but I promise I'll explain; that needs to be its own blog post though). I did hurt a lot by the end of the convention because I probably pushed my limits a little too far. All's well that ends well, right though? I did not re-hospitalize myself or kill myself or otherwise cause any serious damage (as far as I can tell, so far). 

Now on to the fun stuff: I played all the board games. Ok, maybe not all--that's a bit unrealistic, but I did play a lot. I also joined a one-shot 5th edition D&D game. I had an absolute blast. Not only did I have a lot of fun, but this also revitalized my flagging motivation to finish some of the game projects we have had sitting on the table for a couple of years now. This includes a 5th edition version of the Anime D20 book. We are super hyped about that now. We're even thinking about trying to pull off another print run of the book. With the rise of crowdfunding options, it makes this possible. It took a heavy investment for the 4th edition version we printed, and we felt it was beyond our means to print the Pathfinder version, which has only been available for digital purchase. We'll see where this goes, but I see fun times ahead. There are also a couple of other tabletop games in progress that I look forward to finishing too. 

Magfest 2017 highlight: By far this was the Escape Room we participated in. It took sitting in 3 lines for over 5 hours spread over the 3 lines to get a spot--first 2 times waiting we missed the cut off, and the room events filled up before they got to us. Got in for Saturday evening. I have no words for how much I enjoyed this experience. The room's theme was Portal. There were 7 of us in there (5 from my group and 2 others). It was very well put together. Everyone was able to contribute. There were all kinds of different puzzles, some that would appeal more to 1-2 of us, while others would be better for say me, but stumped the others. We beat the room with less than a minute left on the timer, and we even found the cake (optional bonus thing). The cake was fake, so yeah, there was a cake, but it was still a lie. Loved it. On so many levels. 

We did some other things. I bought a bunch of prints, a t-shirt, and new dice. I always buy new dice. I have more dice than I could ever use. I probably have a dice problem. There could be worse things though, right? (I do use my dice--I design my characters to fit one of my sets based on the feelings evoked by the colors.) Maybe I'll put up a post featuring all the awesome stuff I got. Anyways, great time. Very motivating: for finishing games, ideas making new cosplays, and even some art stuff (although that was more the drive home). 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WIP Wednesday - 2017 - Volume 2

There's not much that I can post this week. We've done some writing and planning on the front end of several large projects--at least one related to what I posted about last WIP Wednesday. There has been progress, but it's just not the kind of thing that goes well on a blog post. I will post more about these projects as I have pictures and progress that I can share. 

What I do have is a picture of my husband helping me cut out some fabric. This is another new thing that is coming to my art table. I will share more details about that project too once I have a little more to post for it. 


Monday, February 13, 2017

Anniversary

Last weekend, my husband and I celebrated our 17th anniversary.

I feel blessed to have someone who has put up with my quirks for that long by choice.

So, we spent the weekend running around, being random, and spending time with each other and our two older kids.

We did lots of running around. I think we spent, all told, 13 hours in the car that weekend. Running around was practical (groceries at Costco), ferrying a kid (Ty volunteered Saturday for Scouting for Food), and fun (Barnes & Noble for some board games--Mysterium and Splendor, Jo-Anns for fabric, dollar theater--which is $3 not $1--for Dr. Strange).

We did random things. We went out Friday to see Dr. Strange, which I had not seen yet, completely on impulse (and because the AMC gift card we thought we had were devoid of funds and for some reason had not been thrown out). I liked Dr. Strange. A lot. Barnes & Noble was not planned, but was an impulse stop. We treated ourselves to 2 games we tried out at Magfest this year and really liked.

We spent time with our two older kids. Our two younger kids went to visit the in-laws for the weekend, so we got to spend some quality time with the older ones. They came with us to see Dr. Strange and out to dinner Saturday. They also played some board games with us. It was fun. My super sweet oldest son had offered to babysit so my husband and I could go out for our anniversary, but it was so much more fun being able to share some of the activities we did with them.

Most important, we spent time with each other. We are intentional about spending time with each other during the week normally--something I think is important to having a lasting relationship. It was fun though to spend pretty much the entire weekend doing fun things with each other and not even thinking about work.

Friday, February 10, 2017

One-A-Day Pokemon

I've been working to revitalize my art. I've been away for a long time for a variety of reasons (maybe one of these days I'll post about that). One of the things I've decided to do is to try to finish one Pokemon button drawing every week day for 2017. I felt this would be a good challenge because it would get me drawing, and it would give me a chance to draw more animals, which is a little out of my comfort zone. So far, I've only missed 3 days. Of course, I'd rather that number be 0, but another thing I'm doing this year is keeping things in perspective. In this case, perspective means being kind to myself when things don't go perfectly.

So, anyways... So far, I've posted 26 Pokemon! I'm pretty pleased with that. Right now, I'm going through the Pokemon Sun and Moon Pokedex. That may not be the most creative way to go through this project, but it does give focus, which is good, especially on days when I might not be feeling it. These buttons will be available for purchase online, or for pick-up at conventions, but I'm not planning on taking them with me to conventions to put on my table. For one, there will be just too many designs--it's a lot to print and a lot to carry around. I will be doing these print-on-demand-style.

If you want to follow my Pokemon progress, I am sharing them on my Facebook page and my Tumblr. Here are the ones I have finished including #27, which I will be posting later today.




















If you're interested in purchasing Pokemon buttons, then send me a message via Tumblr or Facebook. Or, you can purchase a Button listing from Etsy. Or, you can send me an email. If not purchased through Etsy, you can pay via Paypal. In your message, let me know which Pokemon buttons you want. Buttons are 1-3/4 inches diameter and are $2 each.