Moo, Baa, Lalala…

HippoBirdie

Last week was my mother’s birthday. Since I’m slowly stowing away all of the drawing materials in preparation for the move (well, WAS stowing … have stowed, a little too well as now I don’t even have real paper to write a “THIS DRYER IS STILL BROKEN” note on so I had to use the back of an old Library envelope; but as usual I digress), I couldn’t really make a card or anything like I normally would, so I had to settle for a half-sheet of paper with a stolen play on words.

See, back-in-the day my mother got a mug with Sandra Boynton’s familiar “Hippo, Birdie, Deer, Ewe…” rebus-version birthday song. It’s cute, naturally, and I remember her explaining it to me when I was little. Anyhow, I have no idea where it is anymore, and I wasn’t even going to try to replicate Boynton’s little drawings, but I figured she knew the mug well enough to get the reference regardless.

She did, but then I realized I had to edit it after I gave it to her … said edit was rather hasty and in midair rather than a proper drawing surface, which is why you can’t really make it out in the picture (even less so than the sheep, which were just drawn in a bit of an impatient hurry because I know I’m bad at sheep and I enjoy self-fulfilling prophecies). But, you see, it isn’t a song if you only sing the line once, so there needed to be a repeat sign….

Your Picture Here

I, uh … I don’t really have anything this week?

To be fair, I also don’t have any bookshelves or tables either, as the Moving Process is in full swing.

The best I can give you is this slightly-refurbished version of a parody design I made a while ago … I had to modify it for RedBubble since their product designer is a little different:

BeardieSmallIt’s not actually supposed to be on black, because clearly things don’t show up optimally on black, but IrfanView is set to see transparent as black and I’m too sleepy to go in and change it. I think you get the gist either way.

There’s actually not a whole lot to do now that most of the furniture’s gone and I’m not allowed to make any more huge batches of food (except for an Epic Pilaf in which I plan to use all three kinds of leftover rice AND the leftover orzo pasta). I did just make a ton of chicken-cabbage potstickers to use up the half-bag of wonton wrappers I found in the door of the freezer, but that doesn’t count because potstickers don’t last long in this household. A little ChiBeef broth (I was boiling beef neck bones but then I realized the chicken breast had bones too, and I’m not one to waste perfectly good bones alright?), soy sauce, a dip from my massive stash of ground ginger, some green onions from the garden MINUS the spider that I realized was hiding in them halfway through, and we’re good to go. I wish I still had some udon left over, but unfortunately I can’t buy the kind I like in packages smaller than MASSIVE (and they really don’t reseal well), so that shall have to wait until I have a more permanent residence.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with 1/4 of a cabbage…

I have a little box under me arm…

WrenKingmini

Ordinarily, this picture would not be much of a feat. It might even be a bit of a disappointment, since it lacks that final polish I usually have the leisure of giving to my digital drawings.

But for now it was a somewhat heroic effort, as I drew it with — you guessed it — my terminally-ailing Intuos tablet whose Preferences settings I may well never access again. If you are not in possession of one of these venerable old creatures yourself, suffice to say that the factory default settings are NOT conducive to using Inkscape or Photoshop, especially not left-handed.

I didn’t even give up on it … it just took so much unnecessary clicking and wiggling and complicated voodoo rituals to get anything to work the way I wanted, that Inkscape finally just decided it deserved better than this and crashed on me. Before I’d saved it as an SVG, mind you — it was taking so long to export the PNG version I needed, I put the editable version on hold till what turned out to be never.

But enough moaning and whimpering. This is what I wound up with, and all things considered it could’ve been a lot worse. I’d wanted to add Wren to my Tricksters collection for a while, as the story of how Wren got the better of Eagle to become King of the Birds was always a favorite of mine. I have a soft spot for the Wren Song (the faded, larger text in the background) too, grim though it may be.

I knew I wanted Eagle to make an appearance in the picture, but incorporating him without overwhelming little Wren was the problem. I like the idea of the design as I have it now — Wren sort of “wearing” Eagle’s wings with just a hint of his head and beak at the bottom — so it’s mostly just the text and positioning that I wish I’d had more time for. To be perfectly honest, that goofy “crow riding an eagle” picture that I briefly scrolled past on Facebook one day was what reminded me I’d been putting off drawing this idea for too long. I probably would’ve just moped around waiting for the Intuos to start functioning again, otherwise. Time will tell how the newest Windows version gets along with my poor wee tablet, and whether I’ve figured out any usable alternatives in the meantime.

I’m still going to attempt to get a Shetland & Pony post out this month, ideally as a tie-in to this one since there are quite a lot of wrens around here lately. I might as well get a little extra practice drawing them. Wish me luck, and happy what’s-left-of-your-4th-of-July-weekend to all you Americans for whom such luxuries as holiday weekends apply!

Some nights….

PupThis is a smallish dog of indeterminate heritage. I believe he’s part terrier of some kind, part weirdlowerhindlegshound.

Don’t judge him too harshly though, as he was drawn rather hastily over the duration of a single pop song — a regular radio-size pop song too, not even one of those crazy eight-minute ones where half of it is just robot voices while the singer takes a bathroom break or whatever. It wasn’t a wildly inspirational pop song, but it was one of those that you can’t just sit solemnly and listen to, so you have to either dance or draw dogs. I wasn’t really feeling up for dancing. Plus I didn’t have any better ideas for this week’s art.

See, I already posted my fabulous all-inclusive rainbow unicorn a couple weeks ago, so if you want something festive you can just go back and stare at that for a while. I’m all for equality and stuff, but fun things like rainbows are hard to draw with a pencil and my digital art is on hold indefinitely due to Intuos hijinks. The tablet technically functions, but my old preferences (including such basics as right-click and tablet orientation) are a fast-receding memory and pen pressure is nonexistent. I have tried all the suggestions the Internet has to offer, and succeeded only in restarting my computer about a week’s worth of times in a few hours.

It’s the little things, the things you take for granted, that always decide to go when you dare to think, “well, at least that’s as bad as that’s going to get, then.”

I mean, when it’s almost July and you suddenly don’t have an air conditioner or a car, who thinks, “uh-oh, I hope my often-buggy Intuos driver doesn’t also spontaneously cease to function in a far more profound and utterly unfixable way than it ever has before”?

I’m just gonna go ahead and blame solar flares, because at least then I can walk around during my day shaking my fist at the sun, muttering darkly, and generally causing passersby to keep a wary distance from me. Silver linings and all, you know.

Why’d it Have to Be Raptors….

So.

Jurassic World.

Spoilers, obviously.

I enjoyed parts of this movie, I did. And I disliked parts. But mostly, I’ve already talked about these with people and made my peace with them.

But there was one bit that sort of bugged me while I was watching, and just got more annoying as I thought about it afterward. Despite the seeming triviality, it’s tied to a rather central concept of the movie, so I’ve saved it for my blog tonight. While I anticipate getting a good long incoherent rant out of this, we’ll start with the simple question:

What the heck did Indominus say to those Velociraptors?

I mean, it’s all well and good to go, oh, Indy was a third cousin twice removed or whatever; or she would’ve killed them otherwise so it was the smart choice; or even that anyone in their right mind would choose a dinosaur over Chris Pratt if given the option.

But… let’s try for a moment — YES, I KNOW IT’S A DINOSAUR MOVIE but still — let’s try to be somewhat practical here.

I got the impression that Indy was still a subadult. Near the beginning her size “when full-grown” was mentioned. The implication being that she was big enough to get to work scaring the bejeezus out of people, but not quite as big as she was going to get. She also didn’t look much different in size when compared to our old veteran T. rex.

It was also noted pretty emphatically by the Theropod Whisperer and his high-heeled sidekick that Indy was raised alone; she killed her sister and hasn’t even interacted with live prey while in the enclosure, except presumably any birds or snakes or whatever that got in. No one to “talk” to or learn from. As I was watching the movie, I liked that they acknowledged that, since I recall it being a big part of explaining the raptors’ wanton killing behavior in Lost World (the book). They were social and smart but had no rules or culture from past generations; like young wolves that are relocated or lose their older family members, they didn’t really know what to do. The thing about trading instinct for “intelligence” (that is, the ability to learn and adapt quickly) is that it can make you pretty stupid if you don’t have anyone to learn from. A baby snake will probably fare better than a puppy if you leave them alone in the woods for a week.

So, Indy has some basic calls and baby babble. Somehow she manages to learn enough from staring at a few humans, never hunting anything but her ill-fated sibling, and wandering around a bit, to figure out that the (admittedly not so bright) humans will appear inside her cage if she scratches the wall up a bit and turns into a treefrogcuttlefish, but that’s beside the point. Eventually she gets out.

And goes on a killing spree. Which makes enough sense; she’s bored and the stuff runs when she chases it. Basic housecat stuff here. Plus, if she is a juvenile she could even be playing, in a really horrific way.

But then she meets the Raptor Squad. They do not run. They are hunting her. They threaten her. It doesn’t appear that anything has really been able to harm her thus far, or at least nothing has frightened her into retreat (side note: his reply about the tracking device seemed to be answering entirely the wrong question — the surprising thing wasn’t really that she figured out/remembered where the giant blinky microchip in her flesh was, it was that she knew to take it out at the *exact* time they decided to start tracking her with it). She could probably kill at least one raptor as they pause to look her over. But instead, they have a quick chat — which seems to incorporate the raptors’ rallying/hunt call at one point — and … INSTANT BFFs!

What happened here? The way I see it, there are a few options.

1. She’s scared. She’s young. She’s never been hunted by something she instinctively-or-otherwise recognizes as a dangerous predator before. She gives some universal “I am no more threatening than a baby” signal, like a wolf’s muzzle-licking or a bird’s peeping/wing fluttering (or a raptor’s “come help me” rally call?), and they’re like, Oh, okay, you’re a weird-a** baby but whatever. Or they just don’t like the thought of killing something that can kind of talk. As usual, the humans wildly misinterpret everything.

This doesn’t really explain why they instantly turn on Chris Pratt though, since they seemed to be doing okay with him up to that point, unless they were all, “HOW DARE YOU SEND US ON THIS MISSION, BABYKILLER.”

2. Chris Pratt’s interpretation: The raptors realize Indy speaks their language. Indy says something along the lines of, “See these claws? You work for me, now — KILL THEM ALL.”

Except, even if the raptors have a language, it seems a stretch that she knows enough of it to introduce herself, transfer leadership, and send them on the offensive so quickly without really *doing* anything. At best, we’re looking at…

3. It doesn’t matter that Indy can’t really *say* anything beyond, you know, “ME BIG. ME STRONG. RAWR.” A bigger, more macho dinosaur steps in, makes some macho-raptor-ish noises, and instantly usurps Starlord’s position, because that is how pack leadership works.

Except that’s more how harem leadership works. Which is actually pretty appropriate for Guardians of the Galaxy With Dinosaurs, in which men yell at each other and die fabulously and fix cars and there’s also a woman in this movie, for kissing!, but not so great for a real-life pack. Otherwise you’d get awkward situations like this:

IndominusI know, that’s oversimplified and Great Danes aren’t that big and it’s really obvious that first dark branch is covering up my initial attempt at fitting “INTRUDER” on one line which I also failed at the second time because I don’t know how big words are. But still. Even assuming the raptors are canny enough to do a cost/benefit thing regarding staying with the zookeepers vs. siding with Indy, Chris Pratt clearly has ways to overpower them and other dinosaurs, and he feeds them to boot. Being distantly related and a lot bigger does not make you better qualified to command a hunting party if you’re clearly unpredictable and inexperienced and might eat everyone or fall in a hole or something. If you’re hunting with your group and you find the thing you’re hunting, and it turns out its forearms and nostrils are kind of similar to yours but ten times bigger, said thing doesn’t automatically become your leader. You don’t see timber wolves running around leading majestic packs of coyotes. Wolves kill coyotes; people kill people, if I must point that out, and even understanding each other perfectly doesn’t always help. But then, sometimes cats take care of ducklings. It’s more about the conditions of the meeting than the species involved. These weren’t great conditions for a friendly meeting.

So.

I know there are other possibilities and that I’m over-thinking this and so on. But explicitly saying, “oh dang, this thing has some really arcane connection to the raptors, obviously they will now do its bidding!” just seems so silly. None of that seemed to apply with T. rex — admittedly not the most social critter, but still. The whole “A human has marked this animal as food” thing started out just the same, but with very different results. And while we’re at it, did we need to worry about Indy raising an army of tree frogs or cuttlefish? How far do her powers of hybrid persuasion extend?

Okay. I’m done now. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you for the inevitable Jurassic World sequel, Jurassic Universe, where they decide it’s a good idea to send Velociraptors into space; and the crossover event Jurassic Galaxy where the raptors are given rockets.

A horse of a different color….

Unicorn This is a Perfectly Generic Unicorn. It is not excessively dainty, chunky, sparkly or scary, nor is it particularly unusual in any way, as unicorns go. It’s not even particularly unusual as horses go, except for the horn, slight beard, and unicorn tail.

The reason for this is mainly that I didn’t draw him/her/it (as I said, Perfectly Generic) in any particular fit of creative inspiration or even out of boredom. I just needed a unicorn that wasn’t “for” anyone specific — girls, boys, kids, adults, laypeople, fantasy buffs, whatever. An octopus, if you will (I would say “chameleon” but I believe I’ve established how I feel about such wantonly inaccurate mental imagery).

The original intention was to leave it at that — a unicorn whose unicorn-ness could be appreciated by the masses, without loudly blaring its affiliation with some stereotypical audience in such a way as to drive off all others. (This admittedly may be tied to some residual grumbling on my part about PINK SPARKLY EVERYTHING girls’ and women’s designs, but not solely so; everybody deserves a unicorn.)

But then I got tired of trying do decide on a color, and I realized: Why should I decide? What would be more awesome than a SEMI-TRANSPARENT CUSTOMIZABLE UNICORN?

Well, lots of things probably, but I was pretty psyched about not having to choose what color to make it. Some excessive free time and a rediscovery of Fontsquirrel later, I wound up with a slightly more elaborate variant on that idea for my finished product (black is just what “transparent” defaults to on my image-cropping program, but I kind ofl ike it so I kept it):

RainbowCornminiBecause they totally do.

(I actually had the body fully transparent with just the “muscle” shading and edge lines at first, but this way you can still change the color without it completely merging into the background.)

Also: Isn’t that font amazing? It’s called Exotica and it’s pretty much the fanciest thing ever. So fancy it always freezes my computer when I try to open the file to look at it. Only the best for my unicorn.

It doesn’t work on water….

Hoverfly

So. Today.

Today was interesting.

Today, like it was last year, was a free fishing weekend. It wasn’t pouring like last year (it got that out of its system last night, tipping over some small structures in the process), nor was the forecast especially hot.

The idea was to drive out to a nearby river in the early hours and snag a good fishing spot, maybe catch something or at least enjoy the cool morning.

In practice, things rarely work so smoothly.

First off, I’ve discovered I cannot rely on any plan that has “drive” as any of the steps. Cars break down. Fairly often, as it turns out. Different cars, different drivers, different situations, but it does tend to be when I personally want to go somewhere. Or maybe those are just the ones I notice.

Anyhow, that was the first thing. Sort of the major thing, I suppose, since subsequent choices stemmed from the whole “stranded on the highway before any friends with a vehicle are actually awake” thing. Actually, I guess it was the worms that started it — no bait shops nearby, so why not drive out of town for the fishing part as well?

So, the next choice was taking the bus to a much more nearby — but rather rain-swollen and fast-flowing — little river and hoping for the best. By then, of course, it was just about midday and not a great fishing time no matter how you looked at it. Bugs bit, hooks were snagged in submerged tree roots, mud was sat in, and poison ivy was identified in abundance. No fish were caught.

Some young people bobbed by on brightly-colored plastic pool rafts. I privately hoped they would capsize a little bit in the rapids. They did not. They did, however, capsize a little bit in the calm water before the rapids, which actually was kind of better.

Once home from this somewhat anticlimactic endeavor, I was meandering around online and saw that we had some sort of fabulous toastmobile in town. Toast! On wheels! What could be better? And in walking distance, to boot!

I never found the toastmobile. It may have been invisible. It may also have been in a slightly secluded location, but toast isn’t THAT fabulous. I wasn’t about to go crawling around people’s backyards to find possible toast.

So, that was my Sunday. I did meet some interesting bugs by the river today, at least. A wolf spider perpetually feeling around in front of it like a person walking in the dark; a horrific-looking wasp-zombie that turned out to be the thorax and one wing of a dead wasp carried in the jaws of a wasp-sized carpenter ant; and our star of the day, a hoverfly that swooped down to introduce itself to every yellow object I had with me, including the yellow-striped laces on my boot. I don’t know if it thought they were other hoverflies or tasty flowers (I often see hoverflies on yellow flowers) or what, but it didn’t seem at all interested in my teal shirt or the green half of my fishing rod. That said, it didn’t go after the yellow bobber (the same one that “caught” some damselflies last year); but maybe they don’t care to venture away from the safety of dry land.

Here’s hoping the hoverfly, at least, found what it was looking for in the end — I imagine that shoelaces would be even more disappointing than a nonexistent toastmobile.