Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Again with the partial posting

1) I've built some cool lego stuff recently, but I haven't really taken pictures. I've been too busy taking sequential pictures of other legos. Rest assured, when there are pictures they will be posted. My creations don't really exist for me until I share them.

2) Angel is getting to the good parts. Doyle is dead (woohoo) and Wesley has joined the team, and actually seems to be doing more than bumble now. Faith just had a two episode stint that was quite good. I was even happy to see Angelus briefly. He's a lot more fun than regular Angel who tends to mope and brood. Although the best thing I've seen David Boreanaz (I can't beilieve I spelled that right on the first try) do in this show so far can be seen here. Oh how I laughed and laughed.

3) On Tuesday Stephanie came over and we ordered Pockets and played Super Mario Galaxy and watched Better Off Ted and Dollhouse (I'm glad both of these shows are getting second seasons). It was awesome. I take these weekly dinners for granted, but we were talking about how terrible it was when we lived in Hyde Park and Ukranian Village and couldn't hang out several nights a week.

4) I finially finish the mix CD/playlist I've been working on for hte past month: Trip Hop Exploration 2. Doesn't mean much to you, but playlists are very important to me. I don't like listening to music on shuffle, the randomness just takes me out of it. I can't constantly be shifting genres and styles with no transitions. This is why when I do use shuffle it is usually by CD, so I at least have periods of consistency. Anyway you can hear a poor approximation of this CD/playlist on youtube. Or if you want I will burn you a CD. Making this one reminded me just how much I love Poe. It's too bad she hasn't released more albums, though she is collecting dreams for something... Also, apparently Eagle-Eye Cherry is his legal name. I thought it was a band name. That is one crazy name.

5) The first week without Renee was not too crazy - we have been approved to move into the new space - Chicago in 60 Seconds is an awesome project.

6) Read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman via Stephanie. It was awesome. No wonder it's winning so many awards. I just realized, I don't think I own anything written by Neil Gaiman, I think all my Neil Gaiman stuff has just been borrowed from Stephanie. I should really buy something, you know, put my money where my interests are. Allow me to go update my Amazon cart.

Anyway, I don't have a lot to say about the book in terms of review. Neil is very talented in creating rich worlds that take elements from mythology, legend and other forms of communal storytelling and make those elements new, wonderful and unique. The Graveyard book is no exception, there are ghouls, ghosts, and ghasts, a werewolf and mummy and other things that go bump in the night, and while they benefit from the folklore, each of the creatures in the book is completely a Neil creation. The story is about a human boy who grows up in the world of the graveyard and like every good coming of age story he makes mistakes and gets into tight spots and has help from friends at the right moments.

7) While we're talking about Neil and how awesome he is. I should mention I finally finished Sandman Vol. 3 - it was awesome. This volume focused on the Endless and their relationships more than the previous two volumes combined and it was awesome. I have a special place in my heart for Delirium, who is similar to ROBOphelia in several ways and will probably end up influencing how I write her in the future at least subconsciously. But all the Endless are interesting/cool in some way. Wonderful. There was also some rEdiculous nested storytelling in the Tavern at Worlds' End series that made me happy. (Guy 1 tells a story in which Guy 2 tells Guy 1 a story in which Woman tells Guy 2 tells a story) ROBOphelia would approve heartily. (Sorry, after animating her for a couple weeks, I've just got her on the brain)

8) Speaking of comics I also bought "We Can Fix It" which I heard about by way of Kate Beaton, (PONY!) whose History Comics book I got about a month ago. It was decent. I liked the premise (traveling through time to try and fix things in your past [and make-out with your past selves obviously]) and some of the art was good. The cover for instance is fantastic, but I agree with Krista's assessment that over-all it was sloppy, both in term of drawing and storytelling. Still I don't regret buying or reading it.

9) Speaking of buying things to support starving artists I bought this color strong t-shirt that I guy I know designed. Here I am wearing it!

10) I discovered Harvarti cheese. It has been added to the list of cheeses I love. In reverse chronological order they are: Harvarti, Morbier, Brie, Feta, Provolone, Mozzarella. There are some other cheeses I'm okay with, but these are the ones that made me understand why people get excited about cheese.

11 )3 day weekends are awesome.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maybe I'll actaully get back to posting once a week... maybe...

1) Here's the set for that chase scene I posted last week. It took a good deal of my yellow bricks...

And from above you can see how I slanted the wall to force the perspective. Whee!

2) Saw District 9. It was good, a little more action-packed than I expected or desired, but the action was well done, (the mech was awesome) so I'm not really complaining. I recommend it, although not for my mother, as the protagonist drops the F-bomb like it's going out of style, and at one point bites his fingernails off. I agree with AV Club: B+

3) Got my passport in the mail this week. That was fast. I probably won't be using it until the spring. The end of the year is always a busy time and no one wants to go anywhere in the winter (except to shiny, sunny places).

4) Finished Avatar the Last Airbender. It was pretty good, especially considering it's target audience. There are things I would have liked them to explore/explain in more detail, but such is the way of things. I'm sure there's fanfic. The best thing about the show is the animation of the bending. None of the various bending compilations I could find on youTube (and believe me I jut dredged through a lot) show all the coolest bits I would have compiled, but this video does a good job of showcasing all four elements. Start at 40 secs and turn the sound off since it is irrelevant. This one seriously neglects Earth, but shows off the octopus form of waterbending, which I love. None of them show why waterbending is the best, but rest assured that it is. All this talk about bending makes me want to watch all the North Pole episodes again.

4) I took Friday day off. In the morning the Internet went out. This is a frequent occurrence, I probably go upstairs to reset the router once a week. However, when I went on Friday the door on the closet with the router was locked. It's never been locked before. I tried all my keys (because there is one key I have that I still haven't found the lock for) but alas it was not to be. Then I e-mailed (from my iphone) my landlady to see what was up. Then I went into the living room and played with legos for a while. She called me maybe half an hour later (because I hadn't responded to the e-mail she had sent in response to mine) and told me to try picking the lock. I was unsuccessful (but I had fun trying!) and e-mailed her back to tell her so. Then I started watchign a movie. maybe twenty minutes in to the movie she came to my front door to tell me that her father-in-law would be coming by soon to take the door off the hinges and fix the internet. After I finished the movie the internet was back and she had sent a follow-up e-mail to make sure everything was fixed. All of this is just to show how awesome my landlords are. When Paul and Stephanie's heat was out it took their landlord days to respond, let alone fix the problem.

5) The movie I was watching during the previous item? The Emperor's New Groove. I give it a B- Best part is with out a doubt "I'll turn him into a flea. A harmless little flea. And I'll put that flea in a box. And then I'll put that box in another box. Then I'll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives, [laughs maniacally] I'll smash it with a hammer! It's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say! [Knocks over the potion, which makes a plant explode] Or, to save on postage, I'll just poison him with this!"

6) That night I went with Robert and two of his friends to see the Improvised Shakespeare Company. I highly suggest watching this clip, which should give a small sense of the hilarity that we experienced. The play we saw was called "Hampsters," and while I won't waste time recounting the plot I will briefly mention some highlights. King Edward was my favorite character, he was hilariously viscous, the main plot conceit was that he kept his son locked up in his room to protect him, but also had told all his guards and citizens to kill the prince on sight if he ever left his room (when they open the windows to look out a volley or arrows flies in), he invariably killed every messenger and anyone else who irked him. Alright, I'm just going to list the other highlights without context: yearly three minutes of unchaining, triple sodomy, porpoise riding handmaiden, the kings players miming an owl, a rabbit and a branch and then animating the corpse of their slain leader, the mermaids' song of warning, "is he talking about the mermaids again?", incest + dramatic irony = hilarity , "it took two half-siblings to make my heart whole," the royal guards - each with a more outrageous accent than the last, "i'm gonna strangle wit' my dreds!", advice from the king's ghost, "we've got a horse!", the completely unnecessary death of the King of Corsica. I could go on - it was a riot. I think the most impressive thing was the rhyming couplets they would occasionally bust out.

7) Then we all went to Home Bistro. Robert and I had already eaten dinner, but we got appetizers (he got dates wrapped in bacon and cooked in brown sugar, I got fried balls of cheese and artichoke) and dessert (he got bread pudding covered in whipped cream and chocolate sauce, I got an espresso drenched coffee cake, also with whipped cream) and help the others with their meals (the trout was amazing). There was some wine from Kafka too. Delicious!

8) Finally got some animating done for the SVELT Interview. Here's a really choppy low-res clip of what I've got so far. Of course the actual animation on my hard drive is big and beautiful, so don't worry.

9) I finally broke down and started a MOCpages account (I have also put a link in the sidebar, since Dad gave me such a hard time about neglecting to put a link to the NNN Youtube page ::grins::). I had told myself I would be content with just posting pictures of my lego creations on flickr and posting about them on EuroBricks, but that approach just felt so scattered, even with sets and collection,. nothing every really feels organized on flickr. MOCpages gives you a lot more flexibility in how you present your creations. Plus, it's another part of the LEGO fan community to expose to my videos. I still have a lot of stuff to add, but I put a few simple ones on there to start off.

10) 8-bit Trip - This may be the most impressive lego animation I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot) The pong part is mind blowing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Door Chase Scene

I made this for a contest and finished animating this one scene only an hour before the deadline, so I didn't have time to add in the voices I recorded with Robert today. I will polish it up ion September and release that as a bonus video since the Green Commercial will air that month and most people have already seen that.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I know it's been a while since I've updated, but I have excuses! I was doing things. Rather than wait until this post is complete to post, I will update it as I write more. Stay tuned!

1) My first excuse is my perennial one: animation! You of course have watched and memorized the SVELT commercial. Good. Time for a quiz!
i) SVELT stands for?
a) Something Very Elaborate, Lengthy and Tedious
b) Snakes, Vultures, Eels, Lemurs and Tarantulas
c) Super Villain Education and Leadership Teachery
ii) This commercial is a parody of?
a) John Hodgeman's recent address at the Radio & TV Correspondent's dinner
b) Barracuda by Heart
c) The Sally Struthers ICS commercials from the 90s
iii) The part I’m proudest of is?
a) Successful keying on SVELT spokeswoman for the scrolling list and on the thug when the background magically changes
b) The crowbar opening the window
c) Hammer hits knight, knight goes sploosh, evil girls rejoice
d) Let’s not forget Dana Kroop’s excellent performance
iv) Things I’d change if I didn’t have to make the next animation?
a) Record some better grunts for the team on the field
b) Redo the picture of the SVELT campus so it’s clearer
c) Add music
My point being, that as always there are some things I’m really pleased with, and some others that cause me shame every time I watch it. But I needs move on to the next thing.

2) Excuse the second - I was reading the printed version Nameless by Sam Starbuck. This is a book by the Heroes/HP/TW/DW (listed in the order I was pulled in, thanks to Stephanie) fanfic author. Anyway he wrote an original novel. He published a draft online earlier this year and I read that as it went up and joined in the commenting. Then he took the feedback he got from that and rewrote the book and self-published it. Since you’ve got to support your internet content producers whenever you can, (speaking of which, I should buy the Guild DVDs) and because I wanted to see how he changed the final version I bought the book back when it was made available in the spring.
Ostensibly the book is about life in a small town and the friendship/romance that develops between Mr. Town Gossip and Mr. Ridiculously Shy and then there’s magic and drama and American nomads, oh my! For me though the book is about making and mending. Making-wise, one of the main characters is an artist and there are plenty of artisans and craftspeople throughout. The characters are constantly shown shaping the world and not so much the other way around. That's a sentiment I can get behind. Mending-wise, the two main characters each start off broken in some way and end up fixing each other. Also there's some roof and book repair.
I still feel like the book is dragging it's feet until it gets to the Straw Bear ceremony. The boy/waxwing thing is handled much better than in the first draft, but overall I still feel like the story is a bit lackadaisical. Not in the writing, but just in the things that happen. There's just not a lot of energy or momentum that the story builds, even at the climatic moments things are pretty laid back. I still want to curl up with Nameless by the fire. I like the glimpses of Chicago that are sprinkled throughout. It's a good first book (printed anyway) and I'm looking forward to his next one.

3) A couple weekends ago Stephanie's step-sister (for lack of a better term) was in town being spoiled by her awesome big sister (Milkshakes with every meal! French Toast for dinner! Harry Potter exhibits ahoy!) and as part of that I went with them to see the Blue Man Group perform. Previously all my Blue Man Group exposure came through Arrested Development so I really know much about them. Their performance is equal parts music, visual spectacle, comedy, information blasting and audience participation. The music was good, although the parts where they were just banging on PVC pipes were the only times I found my attention waning. Their music was more interesting when they had some visual element thrown in as well (like paint). Visually they had a lot going on to stimulate the audience, they had lots of neon colored things and put blacklights to good use, the traditional-instruments band's costumes were really cool, imagine multi-colored glow-in-the-dark skeletons. They also had a part where one of them caught 20+ marshmallows in his mouth without swallowing any. There were a bunch of different comedy skits, the best one involved bringing up a girl from the audience and having a very awkward dinner with her. Before the show started there were some fun scrolling text instructions. There was also a couple parts where they would present a lot of text on screen at once (each of them would hold up a poster for a limited amount of time for instance) more information than could be read by the average person in the time given (Stephanie managed it for the posters). It was really frustrating because these days with the internet you can generally read things at your leisure and while there's certainly more information out there then you could possibly read, you are at least able to read the things you choose without having to worry about them dissapearing in 30 seconds. It was a fun show, though it's hard to sum up because it had so many different components that were completely distinct from one another.

4) I have caught up to the current issue of Buffy teh Vampire Slayer Season 8. Now I can buy the issues as they come out, which I've never done with a comic book series before. I'm really excited about this, comic books are one of those areas of geekery I have never followed as much as I might like. I have a great comic book store just a couple blocks away, I intend to become a regular customer.
Also, Hark, a Vagrant finally updated the archive so that all the comics have appropriate notes at the bottom. I am now in the delightful process of reading through the archive comics in their full contextual glory.
To preempt Stephanie's inevitable snide comic - I am also not reading through Sandman fast enough. What can I say? The tome is intimidating, opening it seems like a serious undertaking, even if it's an enjoyable one. If it was a bunch of trade paperbacks I probably would have blown through it in no time.

5) Tonsil pain finally gone. Well it was. Now it's trying to creep back. But gargling with salt water is doing wonders for keeping it at bay.

6) Eric Benson was in town for a few days. We met up for lunch one day and then the next he came into my office (which has foam on the wall for sound dampening) and well did some voice recording. We did a little bit of Phil Brickley and then a couple really fun one-off characters. Thankfully no one was in the adjacent offices that morning, because he was screaming pretty loudly at one point. You'll understand why in a few months when the animation is done.

I'm really looking forward to doing a group recording session with him and Lila in the fall. Haven't planned the trip out yet, but I'm thinking early November.

7) Last weekend Veronica threw a Murder Mystery party for the people she interned with this summer. The week leading up to it she called me once of twice and I helped her think through some things and calmed her down when her co-party thrower (some of you know her as Naked Girl) abandoned her at the last minute. It was fun to hear about her mystery and to reminisce about previous parties. It got me thinking about doing another one (as if I didn't have enough creative projects in progress already)*

8) Max is moving to Chicago in a month, he stayed with me this week while looking at apartments. I didn't see a whole lot of him since we were both busy, but on Thursday we went to dinner with Stephanie at Andalous, a great Moroccan place a couple blocks away. Then we met up with Tiffany, Seth, Paul and Robert at Guthries where we played Blokus, Carcassonne and the best game of Jenga I've ever played. Robert considers the tower carefully:

Paul makes a precarious move, while Stephanie looks on in trepidation.

There was a point where we were all convinced Seth was going to knock it over, but then the game continuted for at least another 2 rounds (14 moves). I think we were all impressed with how long we lasted. Anyway it was an awesome night. We need to go to Guthrie's more often.

9) Yesterday Paul and Stephanie had a barbeque using the grill that has sat abandoned, chained to a fence in their backyard all year. Paul went out an bought a variety of sausages and eastern euorpean beers much like he and Alex did our 4th year and called it Sausage Fest 2009. There was lots of food (I borught pasta salad) and SanGria. Tiffany and Seth brought strawberries and whipped cream and those pastry shells for strawberry shortcake. Obviously the presence of whipped cream lead to this:

Which if you can't tell is me with a massive amount of whipped cream in my mouth thanks to Paul. I think Stephanie took the picture, all I remember is handing my iphone to someone while trying not to laugh or choke.

10) I've been meaning to put shelves up in my living room for months now. The wall above my couch was one of the only places left in my apartment where I chad space to expand. It goes without saying that this is for the benefit of my lego collection. Well last weekend I got a zipcar and went to target for non-shelf related items like a kettle, an iron, a water bottle mount for my bike, and various and sundry other items. Then I went to the Home Depot and bought the components for the shelves, drywall anchors, a cordless power drill, a leveller, a tape measure and needle nose pliers. Those last two were not specifically for this project, though they ended up being used as well. Then I spent the rest of the weekend installing them. I had to put 40 drywall anchors in and it took me about a hour to get the first one done. Of course once I had figured out the process they went much quicker. I still broke of shattered about a dozen anchors throughout the process. I had miscalculated the number of brackets and track I needed on Saturday, so I had to make another quick trip on sunday, but then I finished it up and got the shelves up. They were up for approximately 5 minutes before I started covering them with lego.

And some close ups fo the lower two shelves, this half is above/under water

and this half is above/under ground

11) Speaking of Lego, that's probably the biggest excuse here's what I've been up to recently.
I won set 7774 at Brickworld this year, but I already had one from Stephanie so I did na alternate build with it instead and got The Court of King Octopus

My favorite part is his Getaway Throne

He looks even more ridiculous when riding in it. I want to share with you a mental image Stephanie and I conjured up while contemplating the King's Getaway Throne. Imagine you are underwater scuba diving and then you see a real octopus wearing a crown drive past in a boat like this - chasing him is a bipedal shark in some kind of motor boat.

Speaking of Stephanie, her and Paul helped me come up with the concept of the Falafel Mafia. Then I executed that concept.

Here's the Scooby Gang

And what could this corridor of doors be for...

I am always working on more building to populate New Block City. This weekend I came up with this pink one in two different sizes.

*You know I know that a period should follow a ) in a case like this, but I think it looks weird so I'm just going to forgo it.