Gotta Catch ‘E– ERROR, TRY AGAIN

So, I bet you know what this is about.

While things seem to be smoothing out a little now, the most exciting thing about Pokemon GO at first was the roulette wheel of “will I or won’t I be able to access the game today?” The overloaded-servers message, a somewhat irritatingly-cheery assemblage of Pokemon in a meadow under a rage-calming cloudless sky, was quickly dubbed the “new blue screen of death” (though frankly I just want to know if Magikarp is really that big?!). My problem, however, was mostly that the game would give me phantom Pokemon to taunt me. Need a Spearow? Why don’t we give you one, freeze the game, let you summon it back when you restart, wait till it’s in the Pokeball, display “ERROR” without further explanation, and then say you’ve walked too far away from the Pokemon? Yeah, that sounds like fun.

The weirdest instance of this was a couple days ago, when I was camped out at a Pokestop stocking up on items. There aren’t a lot of Grass types around here, so I saw an Oddish and made a grab for it. The Pokeball sat on-screen for a second, the Oddish escaped … and then I was back to the main screen. No puff of smoke to indicate it ran away, no frozen game or error message. I restarted for the heck of it … and there was Oddish, back where he was before. I went through this a couple times, and then suddenly Oddish got a buddy. A Pidgey was RIGHT next to him, and was right back there every time Oddish disappeared and returned. Half the time I accidentally hit Pidgey instead of Oddish when I tried to bring him up, and ended up running away (while picturing Pidgey thinking, “Success!”).

Eventually I just gave up (probably not as soon as I should have), and ended up sketching my frustration instead. I took a last-minute phone pic, because TECHNICALLY this is not my sketch book…

Buddy

“I gotcha buddy.” (note: colored pencils! I get a little too excited about colored pencils, as the owner of the ones used here can attest).

Some other GO notes:

Man, Weedle is sassy. What’s with that? It does these little dances and glowers and headbutts you and all that and yet it never comes close to escaping the Pokeball. Oh well, little guy can dream I guess.

EVERYBODY LOVES THIS. Not just like, a large number of human people, but every age range. Teens, 20-somethings, ten-year-olds, their parents, you name it. A little girl at the library was psyched to learn that I, too, chose Team Yellow and always go with the Fire starter. A teen was pretty much just dumbstruck that I also play the game. Two middle-aged ladies out for a walk admittedly surprised me when I was mushroom raspberry hunting (with the song from Mushroom Samba stuck in my head either way due to the phantom Parasect that kept claiming to be nearby). Since those not-quite readers requested more transcripts, HERE’S ANOTHER ONE!

Woman 1: Hi!

Me: …Hi.

Woman 2: [presumably noticing the phone I chucked in my bag before crossing the bridge] Are you catching many Pokemon?

Me: …Well, a few, I’m mostly looking for raspberries. [note: Even “a few” was an overstatement; this path is in the woods and crosses/follows a creek, and all that’s on it are Rattata and phantom Parasect]

Woman 2: So … do you just click on them to catch them or what? It’s not working for me.

Me: Sort of. Not working how?

Woman 2: I can’t seem to catch them. Do you just click on the Pokemon, or on the Pokeball…?

Me: Well, first you just click or kind of swipe the Pokemon.

Woman 1: Hm.

Woman 2: Why does it show a camera?

Me: Ohhh. It’s taking pictures?

Woman 2: Yes!

Me: Oh okay, don’t press that button. If you’re on that screen you have to swipe the Pokeball towards it to catch it. [gives a quick rundown of capture-difficulty colors, aiming, curveballs, etc.]

Woman 2: Oh, great!

Woman 1: Thank you! [shoots a “see, I told you any young person with a phone would be able to help us” look at her friend as they walk off]

Anyhow, that Oddish wasn’t much so here’s a random dragon (or wyvern, rather) from the previous page in the sketchbook, when I did NOT have colored pencils to distract me:

Wyvern.jpg

Happy hunting!

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The wonderful thing about Tiggers…

Flashback Friday, I guess? December … 25th or 26th I suppose, 2002, which would make me a preteen with a brand-new sketch book for Christmas.

I like to think I’ve improved a little since then, but it was on this drawing of Tigger (due partly to the huge 14×17 paper I had to work with) that I first started paying proper attention to how a tabby cat’s markings — especially around the eyes — looked instead of just drawing random tiger stripes and stamping an “M” on the forehead. I think of this drawing and its companion (of his frenemy Mittens, the one *without* white paws … it’s a long story) any time I add a decorative eye stripe to a fantasy creature, like the pair in Harmony (which incidentally was drawn on the same sketch pad). Mittens’ sketch was more accurate and complete, because Tig would always be running around or hiding under things, but that smirk is all him.

Tiggy

You weren’t mine, Tiggy (though is a cat ever anyone’s but his own?), but you were a good kitty. I’m sure Mittens will be delighted to see you….

Grr. Argh.

Faeries

So, last night/this morning I had a … well, either a dream or a very groggy idea. A Wonderful Awful idea.

One way or another I got to thinking about sparkly little fairies, and then that led (naturally) to the idea of parasitic zombie-making butterflies.

Okay, it totally followed in my head.

But I mean, it *sort of* makes sense. Everyone’s heard of that fungus that makes zombie-ants that get eaten by cows; why not go a step up and have the insect make zombies out of the mammals? Proboscis to the brain stem, six little legs laced up like a corset under the skin, and voila! Your very own tiny rideable zombie slave! I mean heck, maybe it could even be symbiotic in the beginning — maybe the fairy gets the power of flight in exchange for letting the butterfly live off its tasty brain juices? It’s just a little butterfly, how much could it possibly eat? But then slowly, Madame Butterfly gains more and more control over the littlun’s nervous system, using it to recruit more along the way.

Some manage to fight their way free or are “saved,” and often have no memory of the event — but the marks remain, and they are treated as outcasts, if they even recover. “Fairies” begin to flourish, while wingless imps become vastly outnumbered (and infinitely more cautious), no longer recognizable as creatures of the same species. Maybe with this, the wings yield a little more control back to their hosts, keeping them happy and healthy lest they risk their cushy food source dying off entirely. They can’t use them to death if there aren’t any to replace them with. The balance ultimately downshifts again to something symbiotic…ish, and no one can say who really won this round.

Meanwhile, some of the butterflies have taken to other diets — the remaining imp hosts are carefully guarded and strongly tied to family lines, given their increasing necessity and the dwindling surplus population — so they drain flowers instead. They relinquish the needle-sharp tips on their feet and tongues for more delicate apparatus. It’s not quite a hunter’s life, to be sure, but it’s a living. And with the growing population of full-sized humans, fairies are starting to lose ground, disappearing at an alarming rate in some areas. Some say they’ll vanish entirely, while others say they’re just biding their time in the shadows, slowly working their way up to larger prey….

So yeah, this is basically why I shouldn’t think when I’m sleepy (or after reading/watching fantasy/sci fi). Sweet dreams!

I had to go and make a few mistakes….

…Actually no, I don’t really like that song.

Anyhow.

Another retrospective here, and a day late again I’m afraid. This one takes me way back, though — we’re entering the land of eleven-year-old drawings. (I was going to clarify whether that was my age or the age of the drawings, but I realize it works either way give or take a few months. Convenient.)

I try not to bring these drawings into the light of day often, because I was eleven and relatively speaking they’re rather bad. They’re supposed to be; if they weren’t, then I’d be really sad that I hadn’t improved at all since I was eleven. But they’re on the same sketch pad I’m using now (I don’t go through the huge paper as quickly as the 8.5x11s I use like salt), so I was going to have to face them eventually.

I drew a lot of people’s pets. This was a Pyrenees Mountain Dog that made a lot of noise and shed a lot of hair. Speaking of bark, look at that crosshatching. Just look at that. That’s what bark looks like, right? And I definitely knew it needed to be on more than 1/3 of the trunk, but it was just so MUCH crosshatching…

Eleven1

This was a wolf, because preteens draw a lot of wolves. It’s emaciated because I was trying to figure out where the bones went, I guess. There’s a ladybug because I like ladybugs. Ladybugs are cool.

Eleven2

This was one of the fancy birds I always drew when I got some new Prismas — this one was probably for Henna or whatever that burnt-orange color on the upper mandible and around the eye is.

Eleven3

Of course, for every triumphantly-finished and fully-colored full-page extravaganza, there was one of these…

Eleven4

Or these…

Eleven5

…or eventually, in the depths of despair, these…

Eleven6

That lumpish raggedy-unibrow-Anne thing I have going on there is completely accurate for my look at the time. As you can see, I never actually got around to erasing all those “TO BE ERASED” drama-fests; partly because I secretly hoped I could redeem them later, but mostly because these are freakin’ huge sheets of paper and it seemed like a lot of work for no gain (after that much erasing, it wasn’t like I’d be able to draw on it again). So, the record-books of my drawing history are filled with these weird misshapen little orphans, testament to how unreasonably difficult it is to draw an eagle or put a horse’s legs in the right place. I mostly just shred these now if they’re drawn on cheap paper, or turn them into monsters (which I did back then as well, with the ink drawings I couldn’t pretend I’d be erasing later). Who knows, maybe I’m better at drawing monsters now because I had so many mistakes to practice on. Or maybe they just reminded me that real things are too much work to reproduce accurately.

I still can’t draw an eagle, by the way. It’s a weird phenomenon; with eagles and lions I seem to revert back to my formative levels of drawing skills. I think this is why I draw griffins — they just happen to swap out the most difficult features of both species for an easier one from the other. If anyone asks though, griffins are just cool.

And all heads turned….

QueenBee

I still don’t know where my moth-lady is, for what it’s worth. I also don’t know where 80% of my music CDs are (which is significant since I only tend to rip a few of my favorites, and use the CD itself when I want to listen to the whole album) — I held back Ceremonials, Lost & Gone Forever, and Life in Cartoon Motion so they never went in storage, but everything else is … hopefully not lost and gone forever? But it’s definitely somewhere inconvenient right now, along with the backup disc of my olllld photo files, one of the smaller wastebaskets, the white casserole dish, and Howl’s Moving Castle. I’m beginning to feel slightly cross with my storage unit, as it’s yielded no shortage of broken watches, old stuffed animals, and used code packets for online textbook supplements in the meantime.

I’m also a bit cross with my patio for being so hospitable to yellowjackets, and with yellowjackets for making me very nervous to walk out onto the patio while eating a peach. I’ve had some rather unpleasant past experiences with yellowjackets and peaches, as well. I know the proverbial winter is coming, so I might as well let them be; but I’m still moving in, and having to swing large pieces of furniture in awkward arcs to avoid smashing into the outer fence post/wasp factory and bringing striped yellow wrath down upon my house is getting a bit tiresome.

I will admit that they’re pretty photogenic. The bold warpaint looks nice against the pale wood, and there’s nearly always at least one little face poking out from the knothole, keeping watch. What’s a bit unsettling is that they do actually keep watch, and if my camera lens gets to close they’ll turn their little heads sharply to look at it. That’s when one calls it a day, photography-wise. Doesn’t mean I can’t draw, though, and of course when I draw it always turns to dragons in the end.

This one’s not a wyvern, for once, because it’s based on a wasp — six legs to begin with, and wings to boot. I’m erasing the pencil as I go, more studiously than usual, because that yellow is a royal pain when it comes to picking up any smudge of leftover color underneath. Speaking of royal, the yellowjacket that inspired this drawing looked to me like it might be the queen. That, or she was just a plus-sized lady, but she definitely stood out next to the others, and it looked like she was holding a big wad of wasp-paper like it was super important (which I guess it is when your home is made of paper inside, but … details).

I don’t know what I’ll make the dragon queen’s object into, though it probably won’t be a gob of mush like the yellowjacket’s. Realism has its limits, and we’ve already gone and made a dragon here. Dragons do like their treasure though, so I’ll think of something…

 

Two legs at noon….

Mothra2I finally decided on the White-lined Sphinx for the color palette — it doesn’t necessarily go with the feathery antennae or teddy-bear legs, but I simply couldn’t do without those. It’s just not properly mothy to me without a lot of fluffy brownness. The Sphinx, on the other hand, contributes a little much-needed color and contrast with the namesake white lines (which I may render beige/yellow) and that bright splash of pink on the hindwings. 

In a somewhat relevant vein, I just spent about an hour explaining to someone what “fantasy” meant. Not like, the definition of the word itself, but the genre. Usually the trouble is distinguishing fantasy from sci-fi or supernatural, but this was more a case of convincing them that “fantasy” didn’t just boil down to “unicorns and Pokemon” (though I personally have nothing against either — or Rapidash). It can be awfully trying to describe a genre to someone who seems to view it as fundamentally “stupid” or “silly” … but I finally managed to get us started on brainstorming some possible fantasy scenarios. I was a bit trying in my own right, by constantly replying “Oh, like in [book title]” instead of nodding and pretending it was a new idea (as if those exist). To be fair, I consider it a compliment to compare something to a favorite fantasy book.

Speaking of favorite fantasy, I stumbled across the last Diana Wynne Jones (or rather, Diana and Ursula Jones) book the other day. The name of a deceased author on a new-book spine always catches my eye — and it happens just often enough to warrant an “always” there — though the quality does have a way of varying. I’ve heard good things about Islands of Chaldea though, so I’m cautiously optimistic about it. Wish me luck (or warn/encourage me if you’ve already read it)!

Sun’s comin’ up down on Main Street….

Madame Moth

Look, I’m being good and actually posting the project I’m ostensibly working on! Mostly because I put off this entry till the last minute and didn’t have time to think of anything else, but it’s something.

Side note: My little gecko’s eye is better, as far as I can tell — though, despite the abundant humidity and scratchy-things I’ve offered, he now has a little shed-mustache (more like shed-muttonchops, actually) that he’s even touchier about than the eye. Luckily it’s not anywhere that’s in a hurry to get infected or lose circulation and fall off, so I’ll just keep the shed box moist and let him take his time with this one.

Anyhow, I think I have Madame Moth’s pose down, though I’ll surely rearrange bits and pieces a few more times. I’m not sure whether I want her scarf to be a fancy scarf or a winter scarf, or something in-between. She’s got an umbrella, so unless she’s in a really weird climate I think I’ll probably be going with “fancy scarf.” Though a few days ago I probably could’ve used a scarf and an umbrella — in the midst of our annual lowland floods, it got down into the very low 50’s, a good ten degrees below average and just shy of a record. There weren’t as many “cold day in July” jokes as you’d expect, which I suppose was a mercy. I, of course, am not so merciful.

I’m not sure what colors I’ll be using, yet. The umbrella will probably be some flavor of black-and-white or black-and-brown, recalling the cryptic/disruptive coloring so often seen on the leading edges of moth and butterfly wings. The rest should probably be brown and beige tones, though my affinity for splashes of color may thwart that plan. The feathers, though already partially colored (I just can’t stand leaving it empty pencil) will need to become a lot more convincingly “feathery” before they’re done.

I think that’s all I’ve got. I’m a little (okay, maybe a lot) worn out from walking downtown, watching the holiday parade, going to work, walking around more downtown, and then walking home yesterday — all in all I wasn’t on my feet much longer than a regular workday, but there was a good bit more walking and outdoors-being. Fortunately I don’t sunburn, or I probably would have, but either way I think I got just a tad more sun than I needed. The unseasonably cool weather makes it easy to forget that it’s not *that* cool. Nevertheless, a proper night’s sleep and all is mended. Until next time!