Looking up at the stars…

OwlB

Okay, I have a confession. In the words of today’s title song, “Don’t be offended, this might seem a little wrong”… but I never really got into the Harry Potter books or films. They just came out at the wrong time for me, I guess. Now obviously I recognize and know something about Alan Rickman’s character, due to my being a human being who has used the internet, but honestly? The first movie I think of when I see his face is Love Actually, since I watch it every year. I acknowledge that he was an integral part of a series that had a huge impact on multiple generations of readers and viewers. I just wasn’t one of those viewers or readers. So, while I empathize with the obvious grief that is being felt by the people around me by his loss, I can’t really share in it to such a personal degree. To me he was just a respected actor among many.

But then there’s David Bowie. He’s why I can confidently use “empathize” rather than “sympathize” with the aforementioned group – I’ve had to explain to people that David Bowie died and even who David Bowie was, and I have difficulty imagining how someone could not know these things. But of course it’s perfectly plausible and acceptable, and furthermore it’s an (awfully) perfect mirror to my reaction to Rickman’s death. “Who? Let me look it up … ohhhh, I know him now.” Perhaps I wouldn’t go so far as to say Labyrinth played as big a part in my childhood as Harry Potter did for others, and I’m far from being a connoisseur of Bowie’s music, but the combined weight of all his work certainly left a big impression. Then of course there are the secondary forms — the wonderful UK series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, for example, or the many space-related movies and TV shows that have found a rich trove of soundtrack material in Bowie’s music (I always smile when I hear “Starman” in the background of that Christmas episode of Doctor Who).

And then we come full circle with songs themselves. Mika’s “Good Guys,” which I chose for today, works well enough for anyone saddened by the rash of high-profile deaths that started the new year, but I dare you not to choke up a little at “Thank you Emerson, and Bowie for my dreams.” Those iconic musicians like Davie Bowie and Freddie Mercury (whom he references in another song) clearly influenced Mika’s music and style, and I’m a sucker for favorite artists of mine paying tribute to each other (though Bowie was alive when the song was written — AND I completely missed that little line back when this song came out last spring, presumably too preoccupied with the Oscar Wilde reference).

Okay, that’s as sappy as I can stand to be for a while. I guess I forgot to explain the picture, didn’t I? Not much to explain; the barn owl for Labyrinth, black stars for the album, far above the moon for Space Oddity, etc. etc. I threw it together for a profile picture on Monday, and while I try to avoid digital art on here it seemed appropriate (and already made).

I had a good nostalgia trip this week, but now I’m going to make a point of finding some brand-new music and movies to enjoy. Even the brightest stars start somewhere….

You should rethink this entrance….

So, as far as I can tell maybe twelve people actually bothered to watch the movie Strange Magic? And of those, maybe five actually liked it?

Okay, I’m oversimplifying here. However, it definitely wasn’t a popular movie, from the first trailers on. I’ll admit that even I wasn’t particularly enchanted by the trailers. To be fair, I think we can all agree that they were BAD trailers. The movie wasn’t a masterpiece or anything, but it was not half as awful as it looked in the trailers. I thought trailers were supposed to do the opposite?

I know, I know, it’s not uncommon for trailers to be awful, and I have a feeling that’s doubly true when nobody really expects the movie to do well in the first place. Well, congrats, it didn’t. I almost didn’t even bother picking it up off the shelf when I glimpsed it at work during my break — that’s right, I almost turned down watching it for FREE — and that was before I even checked the ratings. Oof. Not pretty. However, there are ratings and there is what people thought of the movie. The actual reviews weren’t so bad, mainly criticizing things that I didn’t care THAT much about in an animated movie (y’know … the plot) and praised some things that sounded more intriguing (like the animation of everything but the actual faces of all the primary characters, yay!).

So, in that spirit, I’m just going to breeze right past the actual plot (I do have some comments on it — how can’t I when the Bog King is Black Beauty?! –, but this isn’t a movie review) and zero in on a fairly irrelevant visual detail.

The main characters in this movie are elves and fairies. They’re tiny. They wear flowers and leaves and all that — y’know, fairy stuff. The big ones ride dragonflies. That’s the size range we’re talking. Once in a while, a “large” animal makes an appearance — a rather shifty-looking squirrel that inexplicably serves as the only fairy mount in the movie (they can fly, after all), and a pretty little agama-type lizard that initially tries to eat everyone — but there’s nothing large enough to really overwhelm the overall scale of the fairy world.

But then there are the bones.

In the Dark Forest various things are made out of animal bones, which of course adds to the overall creepy aesthetic. But as with the eerie abandoned residences of the Hundred Acre Wood, one asks oneself: Who left all this behind? The throne is seemingly the lower jaw of something (with all but two canines missing), and the entrance to the palace is an entire weathered skull of some kind of toothy insectivore-slash-dragon thing (with nothing BUT canines, like a massive version of the possum/bandicoot/shark that is the Imp). Both jaws are big enough to swallow pretty much any living thing we see in the movie (that’s almost a spoiler, actually, but for entirely unrelated reasons).

So, these big guys who leave their heads lying around. Are they only active during the day? *Too* big for something as small as a fairy to concern itself with? Or maybe they’re from a recently-extinct (or eradicated) race of fairyland-style megafauna, leaving behind a mere handful of representatives like the Imp who were too small or clever to kill off?

Whatever their fate, I decided to sketch out what one such critter might have looked like in life, going more off their general size and the Imp’s appearance than anything (since nothing else really has *quite* that many sharp little teeth, and frankly the gate skull looks more like a carnivorous horse).

StrangeSkull

Et voila. A much larger, and slightly more catlike, cousin to the Imp so poorly rendered in the corner there. It’s actually still too small here, but it could be a juvenile. Heck, it could be crouched in the future court of the Bog King, since an old lair is as good a place as any to find animal bones. Maybe he just decided to go with what was already there for the decor — he seems like that kind of guy (and his mother is certainly the kind who would insist on SOME kind of decor).

So there we are. Because an unnecessarily-complex exploration of a tiny detail in one of the lowest-rated movies of 2015, culminating in a drawing of yet another toothy animal with unnecessary ocelli, is inarguably in keeping with the spirit of this blog. Just be happy I didn’t get started on the fairy wings or there’d have been no end of it….

Lumiere, darling…

Okay. I understand that “lumi√®re” means “light.” Even as a little kid watching Beauty and the Beast, it was hard to miss the increasingly-convenient names of Beast’s staff, culminating of course with Mrs. Potts, where they just threw up their hands and went, “to heck with even basic cartoon-level subtlety!” I imagine this is much the same as what happened when the people charged with choosing the English-language Pokemon names decided on “Seel” for … y’know, the one that’s a seal. Even Ekans has the decency to be written backwards….

That said, a movie like Beauty and the Beast is not so easily walled off as some more-mundane context wherein mere synonyms and homonyms reside. It’s easy enough to say, “well he’s obviously talking about her hair and not a hare, because only the first one would make any sense in this sentence.” You don’t even have to think about it, really. It’s a love song, the default is “no wildlife.” But Lumiere is LUMIERE. It doesn’t matter if you already knew prior to 1994 that “simba” was a word for lion, if it pops up unexpectedly in a sentence from now on you’re gonna see a particular Simba whether his presence make ANY sense or not. This is just how these things work.

I guess it’s what I get for listening to Tenerife Sea instead of proper festive music. To be fair though, The Parting Glass is fairly festive, and I can’t help what’s on the same album….

What I’m trying to say is, have a happy new year and please enjoy this unsettling mental image to haunt welcome you into 2016:

Lumiere

I’ll have you know that I don’t have the faintest clue where my eraser has gone (I had more, but finals week did the smaller ones in), so all errors and base sketching had to remain in place. I think it adds nicely to the overall creepy nature of an animate candelabrum with a coy smile and a melting forehead, though.

 

For auld lang syne…

Man oh man, time for a feelings-break. I know sappy stuff is popular this time of year, but I seem to have stumbled on an entire decade-plus backlog of feels over the course of this week. First we had The Good Dinosaur. Okay, kind of knew that was coming to a degree there, but it’s not just the whole thing with the parents. Disney and, to an extent, Pixar kill off parents, hat’s just their thing, and I get it. Who wants a cartoon about an adventure that keeps getting interrupted by the mundane demands of a stable nuclear family? The requisite child protagonist, given zero or limited parental supervision, can get into all kinds of ridiculous trouble without getting IN trouble. Also, Batman.

Anyhow.

It’s not the orphan/widow thing, is what I’m saying. It’s virtually everything else that happens in this movie. I mean, one of the lead characters is a toddler/puppy who keeps almost getting killed. Dude. Plus, all the howling. It totally makes sense — humans copy animals all the time, especially canines, we have similar social structures, and howling carries well over distances like yodeling. But it’s a SAD sound, especially since more parallels are made to dogs than wolves over the course of the movie; howling dogs, of course, are associated with mourning first and foremost.

Then I tuned into that SNL special that talks about the show in the 00’s. Oh hey, lots of good cast members in that decade, crazy elections, this should be a lark.

Except of course, a good deal of it was devoted to ’01 and the aftermath, and that episode with the firefighters. I was ten in ’01 and was basically just upset that the news interrupted Pokemon (because children are horrible creatures and also because I just assumed bad things were what the news was about so how was this different?), but I can never *quite* handle the bit with the firefighters.

So I made it through that, and decided to listen to Auld Lang Syne while trying to draw something for my blog tonight. I couldn’t remember which one I’d listened to and liked earlier, so I just told Spotify to play them all. Soon we got to a Kenny G version from ’99, the “Millennium Mix.” Lots and lots of news clips over the music. I was half-listening at first and was just off the SNL special, so I thought, “Oh, they’ll probably end with 9/11″… then remembered that it hadn’t happened yet. Kind of a weird sensation to listen to 100+ years of the most notable and emotional events — some of which even my young self was around for — and have it cut off right before that.

SO, now I’m listening to the P!nk album I got for Christmas and skipping the slow songs. Even that can’t drown out the wind though, which is doing some proper howling of its own. It’s been doing this all night, thus my North Wind sketch (black Crayola pencil on sketch pad, because that’s what I got for Christmas and sometimes you gotta go with the classics) for tonight.

NorthWind

Yes, it looks like a Reshiram crossed with a Linoone. No, it wasn’t intentional. DEAL WITH IT.

Oops, maybe that’s enough P!nk for me.

Happy Sappy Holidays!

Days will come and go….

Hello again!

As you may have guessed, it’s no coincidence that it’s the final week of the semester and I’ve suddenly started posting again. I just finished the last exam this morning, and rather than spend my newfound free time constantly reloading to see if my grades have been posted yet, I figured I should do something marginally more constructive.

So I’m watching RiffTrax.

But before that I was listening to Foo Fighters, partly because I can’t turn down a free album and partly because I really like “Saint Cecilia.” And not just because it’s the name of a nearby church.

As you may recall from your mist-shrouded memories of this past October, two whole months ago, when I mention a song here it means I drew something for it. So, without further ado:

StCece

Yeah, I got a little lazy once I reached the feet. Feet are hard. Actually, remembering to draw the thing the feet are on before drawing the feet themselves is hard. This particular lack of foresight has been a problem of mine since I was about six years old, so I’m really not expecting much improvement at this point.

Requisite backstory: I always love how enthusiastically starlings sing, and they’re really quite good at it as well. They don’t just stick to the same old tune — they mimic, remix, and improvise using sounds from their surroundings. They seem to have a thing for hawk cries, which used to make my backyard sound like a scene from an old Western, but once they get going they can sing beautiful music as well. Since St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians, a starling seemed like a sensible choice.

This is Halloween….

…Okay, I lied. Okay, I didn’t, but I misled. Sort of. I mean, obviously it *is* Halloween. But I was listening to The Blue Wrath (i.e. that “la la la laaaa” song from the beginning of Shaun of the Dead), not the Nightmare Before Christmas song, when I drew tonight’s final contribution to InkTober. That said, the cat is because I was watching Corpse Bride earlier, and was thinking of Nightmare Before Christmas and how there are always ghost-dogs but not so much ghost-cats. Of course, cats don’t really need to look any different to be mysterious….

Inktober31

Happy Halloween!

Song for the living….

Apparently this is the part of the semester where instructors are more likely to walk around and stare at what you’re doing, because another one came over and noticed my doodles. I did them before class technically started this time, so still no worries (not that it should really be a problem in any class but Spanish anyhow, since I’m actually doing well in all the others).

I’m not sure whether the “holy crap!” was for the skeleton, the scare(y)crow, or the cat-Cubone thing — or just the tone in general — but I’m going to consider it a compliment from her anyhow.

Inktober29

And my Pharaoh-hound Anubis with the necklace from before was kind of disappointing, so here’s more of a proper jackal, wearing nothing but a mischievous smile. Furthermore, since it’s kind of a theme at this point, this one’s for Sea Wolf’s “Song For the Dead,” which I’ve had for a while but which happens to come after Twin Skeleton’s Hotel and Emperor’s New Clothes on my Halloween playlist.

Inktober30

I posted this a bit too late, so I guess a Happy Halloween is in order as well! We’ll see if I manage to post the last one on time tomorrow, or if I’m too busy partying.

Har. I think I’ll be fine.