Looking up at the stars…


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).


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….