Monday, May 18, 2015

What I'm Reading: Graphic Novels - Part 1

With my desire to get into animation, I've started reading graphic novels in addition to watching cartoons. Seeing as this is something that is bound to continue, this one is the 'first installment' tra la la. As always, I'm something of a dark person in how much I tend to love the macabre and the unusual, so the one I set out to get first was one a friend had recommended years ago, but I thought would prove too gory for my tastes. 


Which is was. No doubt it was gross, but it was incredibly insightful as well and I can't seem to stop thinking about it. This one is called Z? by Jhonen Vasquez, which I believe was basically his director's cut of all his JTHM comics, which is sort for Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. The one on the right up there screaming at the lady is Johnny, who goes by Nny to his close friends...which are very few. It's hard to say what his deal is, but what I really like about him is how much he reminds me to stop judging people. We do it every day without thinking. It's hard to stop. So while Nny has obvious issues (rashly killing these judgmental people, for one), he has taught me a few things. As the foreword said, I think we all have a bit of this person in us, whether or not we chose to act on it. Vasquez just went ahead and personified his, which I'm glad I know now. 


Plus, his work has its own style which can creep into your bones and make you uncomfortable most of the time. The heavy lines and how everything is textured or grainy in some way, really affect you. I love it. Facial expressions are also fantastic to take note of while reading. Nny's shirt often changes during the scene too, which I started looking forward to and the way Vasquez pokes fun at almost everything either in his characters or the way he fills the background is particularly entertaining. 
-------------------------
As most people know, I'm also a huge Gorillaz fan and went completely bonkers when Jamie Hewlett started posting new images of the band on his Instagram and then finally confirmed that they were coming back for a new album. So utterly excited to hear what they have in store next, because I loved Damon Albarn's solo album Everyday Robots oodles and oodles. Oh and I should explain in case I lost you. Ahem. Jamie Hewlett & Damon Albarn are the creative forces behind Gorillaz. Hewlett does the art, Albarn does the main vocals of the character 2D, who also happens to be my favorite because I love Albarn's voice. If it sounds familiar, it's because he's also a part of the famous band Blur. Anywho, back to Hewlett and graphic novels. 

Tank Girl was created by Hewlett and Alan Martin back in...the  late 80s? I'm having trouble pinpointing the actual creation date because the movie that came out in the 90s seems to get more hits...which is sad because it apparently sucked. Then again, I think it was live action. Which is a shame when it means seeing this gorgeous work in motion: 


I don't think I'll ever get over his level of detail. I fangasm all over his art. This is a little different from his Gorillaz art, which you can see by doing a simple Google search, but it's still obviously him. I love his proportions and how even with her almost shaved head, he still makes it obvious that she's feminine from far away - even when she's dressed in baggy clothes. She has a distinct, strong personality that can for sure be impulsive. Still, I'm falling in love with her - at a arm's length because she's way dangerous. I would post more photos of her, but it's hard to find ones on the internet that show my point and that have been drawn by Hewlett; there's a lot of fan art out there and eventually she did get drawn by other artists. I don't know a lot about her history yet, having only just finished the first remastered volume via Amazon, but I know I'll be looking the rest of the books up. 

And take my word of it. Hewlett's art is another kind of beautiful. He's obviously studied form and has the observation skills of a hawk because he knows his way around the body and human expression like it's the back of his hands, which he always tends to draw a bit ape-like, which you can see even here:

But every artist has their quirks and I'm slowly finding mine. So thankful I can learn from these greats as I have fun reading their imagination.

I'll be picking up a new batch of graphic novels soon, but there's a chance I'll be doing some research on skin things before then. Watching Totally Spies is making me really want to try a facial or at least take better care of myself. Like, totally. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Meditation & New Bicycle!

I forget where I found this resource, but since I did it's become one of my favorite apps on my phone. I've dabbled in meditation for a while, but never consistently and always as a sort of hodge-podge based on the various tips I've picked up. I do have this goal of one day meditating on the same level as Elizabeth Gilbert does in Eat, Pray, Love; I would love to be able to be caught up in peace or long chants for hours. I have no idea how I'll ever make that happen though, given how difficult it is to keep my mind clear for even 3 minutes some days. This app from Tools for Peace (TFP) is really helping me with that.

It's called Stop, Breathe & Think. It's not only very easy to use with a great interface, but it's easy to understand - nothing is over complicated.

There are 15 free guided meditations and a few available for purchase as bundles for as little as $0.99! Already purchased one because I was enjoying the other ones so much. Plus it benefits the people that at TFP that doing cool things as a non-profit!

PSA: As someone that has interned at a non-profit, they truly do rely on donations. Definitely consider supporting your favorite non-profits at least once a year.  :c)

So remember how I said I bought a new bicycle? We have a name! You can now refer to my Trek Crockett 5 as Chihiro, named for the heroine of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.


Very excited for all the future adventures I have waiting for me with her, from padded shorts to going clipless - this year will be very exciting. Now if I could get rid of these damn allergies. Anyone else out there suffering from sinus issues? Cannot wait for these to go away. Ugh.

Also, seeing as I'm going into animation and all I seem to watch regularly these days is animation, I decided I should end these posts on what I've been watching recently. I've already blogged about how much I love some shows, such as Regular Show, but let me mention what I've been eating up recently:

Steven Universe. I honestly thought this show was going to be garbage when I first saw previews, then I watched a couple episodes at different times and suddenly got hooked. This isn't the first episode that really hooked me, but this part, oh man. When those two reunite. I just lost it. Absolutely beautiful. And on a kid's show? APPLAUD APPLAUD APPLAUD.

Archer. Again, why why why? Because H. Jon Benjamin. I love his voice and that somehow was enough to make me love all these weirdos in a misfit spy agency. Archer Vice was the best season. <3

Totally Spies. I only caught bits and pieces when it was on Cartoon Network, but when I saw the first season was on Netflix it turned into a nostalgia binge. Now I'm on watching the rest on YouTube. Thank you, YouTubers! 

Lastly, I read about Hey Arnold! which was one of the most underrated television shows that DESERVED A REAL MOVIE and this list almost made me cry. Seriously, kids cartoons are so much deeper than people realize. I can't wait to make things like this.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reintroduction

So hello.

I uh, really fail at keeping a consistent blog. I think it's because I try to undertake too many things at once and so this became some grandiose idea that never fully came to being because I over conceptualized it. So let's take it back to square one, with a new design (which may change, I'll be honest) and a more simple goal. I want to post regularly about what I'm thinking about and what I'm doing, that I think other people will either like or could benefit from. So basically, that will include:
  • research about animal/human welfare
  • ways to save the environment
  • healthy eating and/or living
  • film geek-outs aka movies I want to see or hype I want to comment on
  • adventures I take on my bike that are really insightful (possibly brag worthy)
  • art things I love from web comics to animation to the classics. expects lots.
On that topic, after years of soul-searching, I went back to my roots and my first love, animation. As a kid I used to draw all the time, on anything, because I wanted to be an animator. To make a long story short, I was worried that doing something I loved would turn into something I hated so I searched for things that I thought were fun in a different way and pursued them. Unfortunately, I realized too late that just because you think you love something and you work really hard, doesn't mean you actually love something and you're not exhausted from pretending. 

So here I am. In my mid-twenties. Trying to start over by working full-time in one of my hobbies (cycling!) as I search for schools where I can study animation. Life is pretty good. 

Also, I got a new bike. She's gorgeous and as soon as she tells me her name, she'll be posted all across social media because she's my new soul mate in adventure and I want everyone to know she's mine. Especially Bike Index because I refuse to lose her to some selfish, awful person; I will go all The Bicycle Thief on them and be endlessly sad. 

FYI if you haven't seen The Bicycle Thief, you should put that on your To-Do list right away. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Guide to Artists for the Non-Artist, Part 1

I love going to art museums. Love love love. Whether seeing my favorite works or meeting a new artist or just leaning in a wee bit too close to admire the artist's technique, I could spend hours immersed in art with my camera and a sketchbook. Love love love.

But it has come to my attention that I have friends that don't know many artists, so while they're admiring art and wandering around, sometimes they'll turn to me and say, "Andy Warhol...you've mentioned him, right?"

WAHH.

I started looking around online, trying to find a short little guide to artists that could explain many popular artists in a few words and give a sample or two of their work. I could use the refresher every once in a while - because I'll be honest, style periods are starting to mesh together - and I want my friends to recognize a few artists when they go to the art museum, so they can feel fancy.

I mean, who doesn't like to have fancy time in the art museum? It's the greatest.

But what I found was a odd lack of short little guides to artists. The internet is so great and vast, how can this be missing? I'm generally good at finding the right keywords and ferreting out what I'm searching for, but I turned up empty every time. (If anyone finds something, put the link in the comments for me!)

So you know what that means. I'm making it myself.

This first part of hopefully more to come, is going to start with a three minute video from one of my old animated favorites, Gay Purr-ee. Why? Because it covers 11 famous artists and their respective styles in three short minutes. All this from a 1962 film. And people say cartoons are just for kids. Hah.


This clip features the main character of the film, Mewsette (voiced by Judy Garland) posing for these famous artists. Here's the break-down, in order: Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, and Pablo Picasso.

Ones you should recognize and why:
1- Claude Monet
You'll see his artwork on stationary in paper shops all the time (I myself own some and I love it). His work is all very beautiful and fluid, much like his famous water lily paintings. He also did a study of haystacks in painting. Yes, haystacks. And yes, they're famous. He was the founder of Impressionism, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "a style of painting that began in France around 1870, that uses spots of color to show the effects of different kinds of light, and that attempts to capture the feeling of a scene rather than specific details." He wasn't fully appreciated until after his death.
2- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
You may seen him immortalized by John Leguizamo in Moulin Rouge!. I'm not going to say it's an accurate portrayal, but Toulouse-Lautrec did often hang out at the Moulin Rouge to draw the dancers back in the day. He suffered from health problems as a child that left him with the torso of an adult but the legs of a child, which is partly why he took up art. He was considered a Post-Impressionist and he focused more on people as his subjects. Besides being a painter, he was a printmaker and illustrator.
3- Georges-Pierre Seurat
His famous painting, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, is highlighted in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, when Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane go to the Art Institute of Chicago. Cameron spends a long moment staring at the painting, in particular the child in the white dress and hat at the center of the painting. As the clip above explains, he was a known for creating pointillism, the way of using small dots to form an image.
4- Vincent van Gogh
He created Starry Night, one of the most recognizable paintings in the world. If you're not sure, just Google it and I'm sure you've seen it. There's also that Doctor Who episode where they meet him and he apparently paints the Tardis. He was a tortured artist, with bouts of mental illness and an early death, who like Monet, was not recognized for his great work during his lifetime. He was also a Post-Impressionist.
5- Pablo Picasso
Much like Monet and van Gogh, his work is everywhere. It's also usually pretty recognizable for his depiction of people in an abstract fashion, known as cubism. One particularly amazing and controversial painting of his is Guernica, which depicts the brutalities of the Spanish Civil War. There's an interesting story behind it as well!

So there's the first bit. It should give you a very brief introduction.

And to those of you who wanted me to get back to Andy Warhol, he was a leader of the Pop Art movement and he created the famous image of the Campbell's soup can and the many different styles of Marilyn Monroe's face. Wikipedia nicely explains that his "works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Grieving of Animals

I had no intention of plastering this all over the internet or telling everyone about it, but while part of me is doing okay with this new change in my life, another part of me is in a lot of pain. I know this blog is to be dedicated to other things, but writing has always helped me work through things, so please bear with me.


My family and I lost our dog on Saturday afternoon. I keep playing it over and over when I have too much time to think which makes me melt inside.

My mother carried our dog, Chloe, to the car and into the vet's office. It reminded me of the moment in Big Fish when the son carries his father. Putting Chloe on the bench in the waiting room and watching her stare at the floor, her front paws dangling over the front still hurts. She would look up and put her head on my knee before letting her head go back to that spot on the floor she was so concentrated on. We brought the blanket from her bed for her to lie on before she left our world to join Heaven, so while my mother carried her into the room on the end, I carried her blanket.

My mother and I agreed she was ready to go. She had stopped eating anything, with the exception of Thanksgiving when she ate some turkey wholeheartedly. But after that, she didn't want anything, not even her favorite foods. As a dog who loved peanut butter as much as the rest of my family, she had stopped eating it a week ago, even if it was held in front of her while she laid in bed. She was losing her fur rapidly in the season she should be keeping it and was getting unsure of her footing. She fell twice. She was an old lady ready to move on, we just weren't listening to her.

Watching her before the doctors came into the room and talking to her, while we stroked her fur and held her paw was one of the hardest moments. I didn't want to tell her what was happening. I'm sure she knew, but I just couldn't say it out loud. I didn't want to. I didn't want to say it.

When it was all over and I was still holding her paw, I realized I had never winked at her in her last moments. She was always winking at me. We would get into staring contests that would often end with her winking at me. Likely, she did it by accident, but it never stopped me from winking back. Until then. And by then, I just couldn't. I got up looking at her body and how she was gone. Part of me wanted to keep holding on to her but the other part gently reminded me that it was just a body; she, as I knew her, was gone.

I had been strong for my mother before we left and got into that room, but once it was over she was the strong one. She held me as I hung onto her before we had the courage to get back into the car, without Chloe, and go home.


I have experienced grief before, with the death of family members at ages I was aware of death and ages I was not. It was hard and difficult and I still wonder to this day if I actually finished the poem I was reading at my grandmother's funeral or if my cousin did have to come up to the podium to help me finish.

The point being, this death is harder for me. My first pet died. The first animal that I lived with from 9 weeks old to almost 14 years. I taught her tricks and trained her. I played with her. I talked to her. I kept her company when she was scared. I gave her baths. I gave her chin rubs. I took her on walks. I took her on car rides. All those things. She was my sister, as a girl who had always dreamed of having a sibling.

I keep looking for her, even though I know she's not there. I keep thinking she's around the corner or I'll hear her nails on the floor (she hated cutting her nails - must have got that from me) or her collar shake, even though I know it's in a box near my bed.

I miss her so much and even though I know she hated it, I want to give her another long hug so badly.

But she's gone. And she's in a better place. She's there with her brother who died years before her that I know she missed so much when he moved away. I'm sure they're playing and having a blast and that my grandparents are keeping a good eye on her for us. And none of them are in pain any more.


I keep thinking of her beautiful brown eyes and the depth I saw in them everyday. Even though she couldn't tell me outright how she felt, I always thought I could see it in her eyes, if I looked hard enough. Chloe is the reason I understand how important animals are in our lives and how 'human' they are. She taught me that on a daily basis. Which is why I've always looked into an animal's eyes when I met one, in order to see them more clearly. What I really think I'll see from now on though are Chloe's eyes staring back at me, winking.


"Look here, all of you," he said entreatingly, as soon as Nana had gone into the bathroom. "I have just thought of a splendid joke. I shall pour my medicine into Nana's bowl, and she will drink it, thinking it is milk!"
It was the colour of milk; but the children did not have their father's sense of humour, and they looked at him reproachfully as he poured the medicine into Nana's bowl. "What fun!" he said doubtfully, and they did not dare expose him when Mrs. Darling and Nana returned.
"Nana, good dog," he said, patting her, "I have put a little milk into your bowl, Nana."
Nana wagged her tail, ran to the medicine, and began lapping it. Then she gave Mr. Darling such a look, not an angry look: she showed him the great red tear that makes us so sorry for noble dogs, and crept into her kennel.
-excerpt from Peter Pan [Peter & Wendy], by J. M. Barrie

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recycling Apps. iRecycle

Maybe some of you are aware of this, but there's this really nifty app from Earth911.com that tells you where you can recycle just about anything, whether it be locating the closest place to drop off your plethora of plastic grocery bags or finding a place for that box of broken appliances your family member never threw away (which was a good call, honestly).

The app is called iRecycle and it's a FREE download. Easy interface. Easy to use. Easy everything.


Check it out, it'll make you feel like a Lorax. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Shopping Cruelty-Free & Environmentally; All that 'Hippy Dippy' Stuff.

To cut to the chase- yes, I am the worst blogger on the face of the planet, but no I will not just stop writing. I like it too much, I'm just a pansy sometimes.

Moving on, here's why I shop cruelty free. In a few words, it's because I think animals are too important to be treated poorly and I can't bear the thought of an animal whimpering in a cage. Whenever I see those television commercials for animals in need, I have to get up and hug my dog until she basically tells me in her own way to "take a hike, needy." While I know these are different arguments, I have been educated by friends armed with facts, photos, and real accounts of the atrocities of puppy mills and if those horrors are a fraction or more of what's happening to animals in laboratories, then I think some reforms are in order.

So before I go further, I'm going to tell you not to buy a puppy, kitten, or whatever from a pet store unless YOU KNOW where the animal is coming from. If they say "Oh idk a farm?" ask them to be more specific, because not only could your cute new friend be extremely afraid of you, it could be incredibly unhealthy and need an expensive trip to the vet. Which is why you should adopt from a shelter or go to a breeder directly. If you choose the later, make sure you check their credentials. I got my dog from a breeder when she was a puppy and we not only got to meet her parents and her siblings, we got a file with all her healthy history and a bit about her ancestry (she came from some show-dogs with funny names; no wonder she's such a sass sometimes). Of course those animals from mills deserve to be loved, no doubt, but now this is where the double-edged sword comes in; they need homes but the people making a profit off their misery need to be reprimanded.

Oi. The feels.

But I'll get back to the point at hand. I'll  admit, I am not a scientist, I am an interior designer. Which means I do not know what tests need to be done to advance mankind and cure disease and all other such important things. I am but a humble player on the world stage. However I believe in the golden rule and I think that rule should extend to animals and the environment. So keeping all of that in mind, I think it's important to think about what you're buying and bringing home.

That's a daunting task, but it's something we should be thinking about more. Example, even though those mozzarella sticks are on sale at Wal-Mart for $2.99, what is going into them? What are all those ingredients that sound like stuff found in a lab and not in your food? And what does 'organic' actually mean? Is something actually 'organic' when it says it is? What about those chairs you just got from La Z Boy, all brand new. Do you know where they came from or how made them? Have you ever imagined the people putting together your chair and what their lives are like? You can do that for everything and anything and honestly, it all gives me a headache. I'm amazed I function some days or even get up in the morning. I would much rather hide in bed, almost smothered by my pillows and sheets from Target, pretending fairies from other worlds made them because they love working and just charged me for the materials. It's exhausting.

But it's thinking like this that can make us more inclined to shop wiser and make working standards for other people, animals, and the environment better and more, for lack of a more universally appropriate term, human.

So if I got your wheels turning, here's a way to get started:

1- Research, yo! Start looking up the companies you buy from the most on the web. Their website usually provides you with information about what they're doing these days and where they stand, if applicable, on the environment and animal testing. If you can't find anything about either, that's usually a sign they're hiding something which will require extensive investigating or, you can just start exploring new brands, which is pretty fun.

2- Cruelty free? Check this website! If you're looking to go cruelty free, here's a website to get you started: http://leapingbunny.org/shopping.php It's an easy way to check into cruelty free with just a few clicks. It may not be completely extensive however, since my favorite company skin and hair care company, LUSH, is not on the list currently even though they are actively fighting animal testing and their stuff is all 100% vegetarian (http://www.lushusa.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Lush-Site/en_US/AboutUs-OurStoryShow?cid=we-believe). I'm a little bit in love with them, even if they are more expensive. After all, your money is your way of showing you support a company's product; why not make it count?

3- Go vintage; shop secondhand! Well this is obviously not for everything, but for clothing, furniture or furnishing type things, this can save you money as well as keep landfills a bit lighter, which I am ALL ABOUT. There are all kinds of great stuff to be had at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and local shops with witty names. I spent a lot of time in a great place in NYC called Beacon's Closet (http://www.beaconscloset.com/) that was all about secondhand clothes. As a poor twenty-something with a style that includes wearing her mother's old clothes, this was a goldmine. I've found similar places all over the USA, so I'm sure it's trending near you.

4- Make science! If you're more of the 'hands on' type, then you'll appreciate this. You can actually make some of your own hair, skin, and cleaning products. I haven't gotten on that bandwagon yet, because, well, I don't have time for that. It is on my to-do list, but I don't have much information to pass on. When I get there, I'll have links to add here...AND A NEW ENTRY TO MAKE. BOO YAH!

 So there you have it. A few ways to start being a part of the 'hippy dippy' movement. Rock on, sons and daughters of the revolution.