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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Nerd Love!



Two years ago I decided to start a project to motivate myself and practice collaging when I didn't have a looming deadline or when I was feeling blocked artistically. Then I decided this project had to be structured as an alphabet set because, of course I did, that's what I always do. So I set a goal to make 52 collages depicting two of my favorite nerdy characters for each letter of the alphabet. And voilà! Two years later I finally finished the dang thing. I have (yet another) list of additional Nerd Loves that didn't fit into the set, including some remaining Bioware companions that I feel bad about leaving out, so I'm sure I'll be making more in the future. But at least THIS set is complete.

All of the following new and re-listed collages are now available in my Etsy shop!

NEW PIECES

Kylo Ren (Star Wars)
Quint (Jaws)
Okoye (Black Panther)
Yuri (Yuri on Ice!!!)
Nux (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)
Zorg (The Fifth Element)
T'Challa (Black Panther)
No-Face (Spirited Away)
Jamie Fraser (Outlander)
Morgana (Persona 5)
Bayek (Assassins Creed Origins)
Geralt (The Witcher)


OLDER PIECES THAT ARE ALSO AVAILABLE

Subject Delta (Bioshock)
Eren Yeager (Attack on Titan)
Nightcrawler (X-Men)
The Outsider (Dishonored)
Emily Kaldwin (Dishonored)
Hellboy (Hellboy)
Hawkgirl (DC Comics)
Wednesday (The Addams Family)
Shiro (Voltron)
Ashitaka (Princess Mononoke)
Tris Merigold (The Witcher)
Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2)
Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Garnet (Steven Universe)
Pidge (Voltron)
Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time)
Miaka Yuki (Fushigi Yuugi)
Jubilee (X-Men)

Thursday, May 03, 2018

April 2018

Flowers! Baby animals! Thunderstorms! It's finally springtime! Here are some of the things that I got up to in April.
 


MOVIES 

LOGAN LUCKY
I ended up watching Logan Lucky during one of those "I don't know what to watch - is there anything new on streaming?" evenings and really enjoyed it. It's a fun heist movie with quality slapstick, visual gags, and deadpan humor. There is a particular scene where a bunch of inmates discuss the Game of Thrones books that had me gasping for breath because I was laughing so hard. 

A QUIET PLACE
While I have a few criticisms - I found a few parts to be a bit hokey and unsuccessful - A Quiet Place earns a spot on the list for how effectively it made use of the main gimmick: lack of sound. The smartly executed sound design and editing do a great deal to elevate this film and build up the tension. I enjoy it when films try something new and I did't feel like I had seen this story a hundred times before.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
*Don't worry - I'll keep this spoiler free* Connecting 10 years worth of films into one story is a seriously hard task and sure, Infinity War is a bit overstuffed with some underdeveloped plot lines, but somehow the film manages to make time for lots of good character moments and growth in between all of the big set-piece fights, explosions, and shenanigans. I think the decision to go the direction they did (with that ending) was really smart. It feels like a big comic-book cliffhanger and a fitting epic finale to cap (Cap?) off such a large collection of films and characters. 





BOOKS

I'm a big fan of historical romance trilogies/series that stick with the same main characters; I like when a relationship is given time to grow and change over the course of several books (see also: Abroad, Arden St. Ives, and A Charm of Magpies). The Happily Ever After is far more effective when you've spent so much time with the characters and this is one of the main elements that makes the Enlightenment series stand out for me. By the end of the third book I was I *very* invested in David and Murdo's love story and the HEA they had to work very hard to achieve. The first book didn't seem quite as strong as the following installments, but I would definitely recommend this trilogy if this gay historical romances are your cup of tea. 

(Steps up onto soapbox) *ahem* I have some things to say about The Terror. My opinion varied wildly while I was reading it, but overall I really liked this behemoth of a book. The Terror is a fictional monster story wrapped around the real-life Franklin expedition, a doomed naval voyage which set out in 1845 to find the fabled North West Passage.

This positive review does come with a few caveats. First off, in the author's attempt to realistically depict a group of 19th century colonialist British sailors, he does include a lot of racism and misogyny. While I understand why this was included (these aspects would definitely have been present at that time, with these people) and some of it is addressed as characters change throughout the story, every time one of the sailors spewed a racial slur or called a woman a whore I just wanted the monster to show up and eat them all.

The author's fascination with breasts also caused a lot of eye rolling. Literally EVERY time a female character was mentioned, the author took time to describe her breasts (were they heaving? were they covered in sweat? what was their exact size and shape?) Seriously. This happened EVERY TIME. It reminded me of the recent "describe yourself like a male author would" meme that was going around twitter. While at first this breast obsession pissed me off, it happened so often and so reliably that eventually I just started to laugh. 

And finally, there are parts of The Terror that delve into Inuit folklore, characters, and history and tread that fine line of "this feels a bit like cultural appropriation..." 

But with all that being said, the bulk of this book is a really engrossing story of monsters, adventure, and survival in a beautifully envisioned environment that managed to keep me hooked the whole way through.





GAMES

A WAY OUT
A Way Out is a co-op game in which you play as two prisoners who plan and execute a jail break and then go on a road trip of revenge and redemption. Most of A Way Out is great and does some really clever and innovative things with cooperative, two-person gameplay. Unfortunately, the last 15 minutes of the game change so drastically in tone and narrative that I wanted to throw my controller and turn off the game. I think it's still worth playing despite that, but just be warned that the end goes off the god damn rails.




MUSIC 

DIRTY COMPUTER (Janelle Monae)
Janelle Monae is amazing and her new album SO GOOD. 😍 It's rebellious, cheeky, and feminist AF. Plus, the visual album that goes with it is equally awesome and full of glorious color and imagery. I have been listening to/watching Dirty Computer non-stop for the past week and i'm sure it's going to influence some art pieces.

LOVE YOURSELF 承 'HER' (BTS)
A friend of mine recently introduced me to the infectiously good album Love Yourself 承 'Her' by BTS. I am a total K-Pop newbie and I don't speak a word of Korean but I sure give it my best shot when I'm singing along with these songs in the car. BTS makes really fun boy-band pop music that I immediately want to dance to and of course, all of the band members are incredibly cute.




ART THINGS

My art inspiration seems to work a lot like the ocean right before a tsunami - before the waves come flooding in there is that period of time where all of the water recedes far from shore. With two big shows coming up in August and October, all of my motivation and ideas seem to have receded in preparation for the upcoming months of intense art time. I've been trying to combat this a bit by finishing up the final batch of Nerd Love collages, but I constantly find myself sitting at my desk staring into the distance and unable to make progress anything. I've been starting to feel a bit more motivated this week and finally tackled the bearded Nerd Love gents that I had been putting off forever, so I think I'm definitely climbing out of the frustrating art trench. Now I just need to convince my brain to focus on these two 2018 shows instead of obsessing over all of the ideas I have for a solo show in 2019. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

March 2018

Ah March. That time of year where Nebraska taunts us with spring weather only to dive right back into winter. I even got my hammock out. And then it snowed.

Here are some things I enjoyed this month:


MOVIES + TELEVISION

ANNIHILATION
This film seems to have been very polarizing; I really liked it but I know of a number of people who had the complete opposite reaction. I found Annihilation to be enjoyably strange and engaging with great visuals and some really interesting music. I also loved that I was watching a sci-fi/action movie with an almost entirely female cast. The end of the film is particularly surreal and almost entirely dialogue free, relying on the images and music to tell the story instead of tacking on a voiceover or clunky dialogue to explain everything. This pleased me.

JUMAMJI
I was utterly surprised that I liked this film as much as I did. I went in with zero expectations and ended up having a really fun time. It's campy and silly and sometimes that's exactly what you need. It does contain some unfortunate lampshading in the form of Ruby Roundhouse's costume, as well as a few other missteps, but overall I found it charming.

THE TICK
Amazon's The Tick brought me some much needed optimism. The first couple of episodes are a bit uneven in tone, partly because of the way Amazon films pilots so far in advance, but once the show finds its footing it's really fun. The Tick manages to be meta and play with superhero tropes without getting annoying and still telling an entertaining story.




BOOKS

The Loyal League series tackles a time period and subject matter that you don't often see in historical romance: The Civil War. Cole's books feature really interesting, strong characters and don't shy away from the danger, horror, and injustice that her black female leads face in the confederate south. A Hope Divided is the second book in the series and my favorite so far. Cole takes her time building a strong and interesting relationship between the two main characters, making the slow-burn romance very satisfying and giving weight to the very bleak world in which they live.

ANNIHILATION (Jeff VanderMeer)
There are some broad-stroke similarities between the Annihilation book and movie, but for the most part they are completely different stories. VanderMeer's novel takes its time building up an environment of dread and tension and hinting at all the bad things that are going on without fully explaining them. I loved the melancholy tone, the unreliable, hard-to-like protagonist, and the unusual structure of the writing. It reminded me a lot of House of Leaves. There are more books in the series and once I can work myself up to another dread-filled book experience, I'll read the next one. 

I almost gave up on this book immediately after starting because I was not prepared for the stylized fantasy slang used 100% of the time by the main character/narrator. Luckily I stuck with it and eventually got used to the dialect and started to enjoy myself. Ok, now stick with me: Prosperity is a steam-punk-ish adventure story/romance with a plucky young ne'er-do-well protagonist who ends up leaving the grimy floating city in which he lives and joining a motley airship crew on an adventure to collect explosive magical air energy. On their travels they encounter crazed priests, air-pirates, mechanical zombies, and giant Lovecraftian extra-dimensional krakens. It's silly and fun and at the same time genuinely had me caring about the characters.




MUSIC

I'LL BE YOUR GIRL (The Decemberists)
YAY NEW DECEMBERISTS! I'll Be Your Girl mixes the lyricism and melodies that I have loved for years and adds rad synths. I love rad synths. HOW DID THEY KNOW??? Anyway, it's good and has a darker tone which feels very timely.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN
I finally made time to sit down and listen to the original cast recording for Dear Evan Hansen and it is wonderful. The show is about a teenager with severe social anxiety whose entire life changes when he lies about being friends with a fellow student who recently committed suicide. Here is one of the songs that stuck with me the most:






ART THINGS

Definitely the biggest art news from March is the launch of my very own Patreon page. I also finished eight more Nerd Love collages which are now available in my Etsy shop. I have the final 14 pieces all sketched out and am hoping to get them finished up in April.