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.


Stephanie said...

Your proudest list mysteriously does not include the floor tile pattern you made that isn't even visible in the video.

Anonymous said...

i) SVELT stands for?
c) Super Villain Education and Leadership Teachery

ii) This commercial is a parody of?
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

iv) Things I’d change if I didn’t have to make the next animation?
c) Add music

David M Pickett said...

Well thanks for actually taking the quiz, thought I didn't expect anyone too. Questions iii and iv didn't really have correct answers, though I was thinking C should be the answer to everything.

copperbadge said...

Hiya! Just found this post via google, and I was wondering if I could link to it from the blog? I think your review of Nameless brings up some interesting points I hadn't considered, and I wanted to talk about them a bit. Would that be ok?

David M Pickett said...

Yes, please feel free to link to it. Although, if you are thinking about Nameless in order to procrastinate on the Charitable Getting rewrite I must add a stern look and "tut tut." ;)