Friday, May 30, 2008

A quote worth repeating

I'm currently, as in right-now-it-is-in-front-of-me
-smelling-like-new-ink-and-I-am-halfway-through-it, reading The Sandman: The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman, and I know that the quote below, from Rose Walker's journal, is a famous one, and I've read it before on the Internet. But I like reading it, and it reminds me a bit of what Professor Kettering says in the Chronicles of Narnia.

I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school.
They don't teach you how to love somebody.
They don't teach you how to be famous.
They don't teach you how to be rich, or how to be poor.
They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer.
They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind.
They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying.
They don't teach you anything worth knowing.

Sorry, no pictures

When I got home today, I found Norm frantically shedding his old shell, exoskeleton, whatever.

I tried to take a photo for the blog, but my stomach turned when I looked at the preview screen on my digital camera.

Trust me, you're better off not seeing it. It looks like he grew a third claw, and then starting eating himself from the stomach upwards. Urgh.

I am a bit concerned though, because he's doing most of this stuff on his back.

an9ie: Do you think I should turn him over? He might not be able t0 breathe when he's on his back!

My brother (who was there beside me watching the carnage): Nah, it's not like he's a horse and he's gonna crush his insides that way.

Man, between our combined knowledge of the animal kingdom, and our l33t* narrating skills, David Attenborough had better watch his back.

Update (30/05/2008 7.30am): Norm is out of the old shell! But he left behind one of his new front claws. My poor baby. And there is something that looks like a three-clawed mutant yabbie in my tank. Ew! Also, he's all lopsided now. My poor baby! Oh, and he'll probably eat his old shell. Ew!

* Translation provided for non-nerds.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Shunning

The other day, I was reaching across MFC's desk for something, and accidentally tipped over one of his desk mascots. It may have been the monkey, or the rabbit, but I really can't recall.

MFC: Hey! Put that back the way it was!

an9ie (Oh, I'll put it back alright): I don't like your tone of voice, mister. And I don't think your friends like it either. Behold ... the shunning.


an9ie: It's an Amish shaming technique. Look, even the happy solar-powered dancing guy can't bear to look at you, and he likes everyone.


an9ie: Mr Kodama here, he doesn't even speak English. But he's giving you the shun as well.


MFC: Fine, fine. I GET it.

MFC: You are evil. Now will you turn them back around?

an9ie: No.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Update: Rod Serling has a lot to answer for

Wow, I've just finished reading the rest of the Wikipedia entry for the Twilight Zone Movie, and I had no idea that the movie was linked to an awful tragedy.

Apparently three actors died during the filming of the first story, directed by John Landis. Two of them were children, and in fact, their presence on the set was illegal, due to restrictions for child actors at the time.

In the story, Vic Morrow plays a racist who is sent back in time to experience what it feels like to be a Jewish man in Nazi Germany, a black man about to be hanged by the KKK, and a Vietnamese man who is attacked by US soldiers.

During the filming of the Vietnamese segment, some explosives caused the (real) helicopter they were using to go out of control, and the helicopter's right skid crashed into the first child, Renee Chen. Shortly after, the chopper's rotor blade decapitated Vic Morrow and the second child, My-ca Le.

The full story can be read here, at the Crime Library web site.

Rod Serling has a lot to answer for

I can hear my family watching the Twilight Zone Movie on TV in the lounge room, and even though I watched it more than 20 years ago, I can tell from the dialogue exactly which story they are up to in the movie.

It is the one about that little boy whose wishes come true, even the nasty ones. People get turned into jacks-in-the-box (or is it jack-in-the-boxes?) or have their mouths taken away if they annoy him. It was even parodied in one of the Simpsons Halloween specials.

Let me check my good friend, Google, for the answer ... ah yes, it's called, It's a Good Life.

You know, children's brains are like sponges. Yes, Mum and Dad, SPONGES. So when a primary school child is allowed to watch episodes of the Twilight Zone with you, don't be surprised when they become adults who are afraid of long, dark corridors, avoid looking in the bathroom mirror at night, examine the toilet bend carefully for zombie hands or toilet-snakes, and insist on sleeping with a night-light. They may also believe that sleeping with their heads under the covers makes them invisible to vampires.

Actually, I've been able to sleep with the light off for a few years now. Except for last Tuesday night.

I was just about to go to bed, when a stray breeze or a small exhalation of breath from me or perhaps a ghostly entity in my bedroom moved the straw in my glass in a slow half-circle. I tried to duplicate the movement by blowing on the straw, from the same position, but it didn't move in the same way or at the same speed.

Naturally, I concluded that something not of this world was visiting my room, and that the light in the walk-in robe had to stay on all night.

To go off on a slight tangent: MFC and I went to a dinner party at a friend's house last weekend. There was a young couple at the party with two children, a baby (girl) and a toddler (boy). I have to say that the kids were quite well-behaved (the wonders of routine and discipline!) and spent a lot of the night sleeping soundly in the spare room.

At one point we heard the little boy cry out, and his mother had to go and get him.

"What's wrong?" asked his father.

"M-m-monsters!" he sobbed, "Outside the window!"

I laughed with the rest of the adults, but a small corner of my brain gave a little gibber of fright (in solidarity) and I was thinking, "You couldn't pay ME enough to go and sleep in that dark room at the other end of the house. I'm with you, kid. Make a fuss so you don't have to go back to bed!"

And he did.

MFC says that he was allowed to watch horror movies when he was young, but he's grown out of the "scared of the dark" phase.

I tell him he just doesn't understand.

This giant brain and overactive imagination, it's a curse, I tell you.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hello My Beauty

I have been bitten by the motorcycle bug. A few weekends ago, my friend J invited me over for cookies, but her secret plan was really to lure me into her garage to show off her very cute , bumblebee-yellow Yamaha SRV 250.

That woman is pure evil, I tell you.

MFC has been riding dirt bikes since he was a kid, and now that he has a Yamaha 1100 something or other cruiser (sorry, I wasn't paying attention), he has been trying to get me to ride pillion with him for a while. I've been um-ing and ah-ing about it for an even longer while.

When you have a mother who works in the medical field and regularly comes home with stories about young people who are now para/quadraplegics due to motorcycle accidents, and have to be taught a totally different way of doing number twos for the rest of their lives, AND you've been cursed with an overactive imagination, AND you're so uptight that you could swallow coal and have it come out a diamond, well, you get the idea.

But J is also quite conservative, so I expressed surprise that she had become Satan's trolley girl.

J's response was that it was partly because she was conservative, that she wanted to learn this new skill; to take some risks and overcome her fears. Or something like that, I was too busy admiring the bumblebee bike.

She said she minimised risk by:
- Riding for pleasure only. That is, not riding to save money or commute.
- Riding only in fine weather, and never at night.
- Gearing up with the best protection she could afford. This means helmet, boots, jacket with elbow and shoulder protectors, kevlar pants and gloves*.

By the way, J is in her mid-thirties and the mother of two boys. She just got her motorbike (250cc) licence this year. You go, girl!

So I've decided to give it a try. Last weekend, I went to Lloyd Chapman Motorcycles with my sister, not without a little trepidation. I walked in expecting to be looked over by bikies and ended up talking to a lovely girl named Karina, who combined beauty and brains and good cheer in equal measure, and was so patient with the two newbies with the attention span of day-old chickens.

Most of my stuff had to be put on order, but I did find a helmet in my size and brought it home, where it endured caresses and try-ons for most of the evening--I even dreamt about it that night.

I tried on a number of brands, but the Shoei ones ended up fitting best. And look at it! Lookie. Look. Isn't it BEEYOOTIFUL?

A dragon!

Another dragon!

And a little flower at the back! (I love the attention to detail. Damn, do the Japanese make good stuff or what?)

I picked the Shoei XR-1000 Miyu helmet. And I know I look like a total "ricer", but if they cost the same, why would I get a boring plain one, when I could get a glorious matt silver one with blue trim and add a blue iridium visor? Mmm, blue iridium visor.

Mind you, if I'd seen the Scorpion Black Dahlia there, old Bluey here may have had some stiff competition.

But I am not setting foot behind MFC on a motorbike until I get all my gear. I like my fingers (needed for art, and making rude gestures at MFC), toes (dancing and might go back to kendo), elbows (need those for art AND dancing) and butt (dancing, oh, and sitting) too much. Even if I get on his bike one time and decide I hate it and never ride again, if I have a small fall that one time, and my gear ensures I don't lose a finger or crush an ankle, or jellify my brain, I shall consider that money well-spent.

* I think I may go one better and also add in a Dainese back protector for good measure.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Animal deaths make me cry

Now, before everyone thinks I'm modelling myself after John Keats and going all, "She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die," while crying into my absinthe, I have to tell you that I just watched the "official" music video of I Will Follow You Into The Dark.

It is a live video of the singer in his bedroom watching a hole on the floor get bigger, and while I enjoyed the song, my eyes were drier than the Gobi Desert.

So it was definitely the cartoon rabbits that did it. I think most people cry when they see animals dying in movies. As for human deaths on screen, I find that unless it's a story that has really drawn me in and is all poignant and atmospheric and whatnot, I feel a little regretful, but not that distressed when I see them. This is probably not a good thing.

Fictional animal deaths that have made me cry:

***CAUTION: BOOK AND MOVIE SPOILERS FOLLOW**

- Old Yeller.
- The little abandoned dragon in Temeraire.
- The pet dog, BOTH TIMES in Robin Hobbs's Assassin series. DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO KILL HIM TWICE, ROBIN? TWICE? DIDJA? I bawled so hard my eyes were wonky the next morning.

Although, some weird non-animal scenes as well have made me cry, like in Hook when the little boy lifts up Robin Williams's glasses and goes, "Oh, there you are, Peter."

I had to clean the tear splashes off my glasses so I could watch the rest of the movie.

***END OF SPOILERS***

Good Sad

I started a new piece yesterday. But the picture I saw in my head seemed too difficult to put on paper, and I felt daunted. After months of not sketching, everything felt contrived and awkward. I even had to relearn all the shortcuts for my drawing software.

That's how long it's been.

I wonder if other artists have felt this way too.

Do you ever look back on your best work, and think, How on earth did I do that? Will I be able to do it again? Was it just a special, one-off burst of talent that's disappeared into the ether? Who was the person who made this?

So I was killing time with one of my (current) favourite pastimes, surfing Youtube. Somehow, while hopping between Dusty Springfield, Meredith Brooks and Paula Cole, I stumbled upon I Will Follow You Into The Dark by Death Cab by Cutie. The song is lovely, but the video I found just made me cry and cry.

I can only guess at the happenstances and moments that led to this little animation touching my heart. Reading Watership Down when I was 10, the death of my dog on on an early Sunday morning in 2002, resting my hand on Mao the rabbit's chest minutes ago and feeling the rapid pace of his heartbeat, the similarity of the drawings to one of my favourite children's books, Guess How Much I Love You, thinking about people thinking about their loved ones, and how it is so much harder for the ones left behind.

The first time I watched I Will Follow You Into The Dark, I cried so hard that I made a pool of tears on my desk and had to mop it up with my shirt.

Personally, I draw a lot better when I'm a little melancholy. I don't know why that is. I can only guess. Perhaps when you retreat into a shadow place, and all you can do is ask, "Why?"; when the noise of the world is cut off and your guard is down and you're not a busy-bee distracting yourself with the routine of living, some darkling self, a Hyde to your Jekyll, feels comfortable enough to emerge, and with him comes something, a spark, an idea, a work that you didn't know you had inside you.

Regardless of how it happens, it was good to have that quickstart. I'm drawing again.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sugar + Dreams = Bad

After all those Crunchy Nut flakes, I watched an episode of Frasier 2, I mean, Back to You. It was the one where Chuck kept killing his goldfish. By accident of course, and it was very obviously a plastic fish. But still, the carnage was stored in my brain, and would emerge ... later.

That night, I dreamt that a new train station had appeared near my work. It had shiny shops so I went to check it out, but then found that there were only three platforms leading to three destinations: Creon, Clover and Greenleaf. Make of those names what you will, but none of them went to my home station. Besides, it was dark. I was annoyed.

Then Norm and his tank appeared out of nowhere and I had an urge to make his tank all nice and clean. While I was trying to maneouvre him out of the way, into a small container, someone jogged my elbow and I accidentally flipped him out of the tank.

He tore into two pieces and I started screaming when I saw his head and claws on the floor. Then I looked into the tank and all that was left was this weird white-meat tail with two little pale appendages scrabbling around the gravel. Like I'd shucked off his shell completely.

"Norm," I cried, "Are you OK? Is everything going to grow back? Or is this a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off thing?"

Scrabble, scrabble, went the two white limbs, looking for food to put into a mouth that didn't exist any more.

Words cannot express the guilt I felt when I woke up. Norm is going to get some new toys this weekend. Also, I think my brain may be telling me never to have children.

Then last night I had another weird dream.

(I knew I shouldn't have eaten all those marshmallows so close to bedtime, but I was watching MFC play GTA IV and he kept taking Michelle on dates to this diner, which was making me hungry.

By the way, how funny is the dialogue in the "Hot Coffee" scenes? Every time his character encountered a new female, I would say, "Ooh, can you take her on a date and then ask to go to her apartment for coffee?" and he was going, "Ew, no.")

Anyway, yes, dream. My dream was about how I purchased some land in a new development for $10,000 (AUD). I was looking at the 3D presentation and it was very lush and green, forest, mountains, lakes, that kind of thing. After I'd signed on the dotted line, the real estate agent said, "And you won't mind having the elves in sector 12, will you?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Just over here," and she points to this little section where little people in Peter Pan costumes bob up out of nowhere.

I then realise that I have just spent $10,000 (AUD) on some hokey VIRTUAL land in a Second Life-type game, and start freaking out, because I DO NOT HAVE $10,000 (AUD) and this land is crap and contaminated with elves (damn hippies who probably won't let me build any condos) and NOT REAL.

Luckily my 6.45 alarm went off.

I pressed the snooze button, and while I was snoozing, dreamt about dragging myself out of bed into the cold air, brushing my teeth, getting changed and was just leaving the bathroom when ... I woke up and it was 7.45.

I snoozed again, and dreamt about hauling myself out of bed and down the freezing corridor to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and then ... woke up and it was 8.15!

As I brushed my teeth for the third (well, first real) time, I felt very peeved.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Passing Time

As I sit here eating Crunchy Nut Clusters, or, as I like to call them, Diabetes Flakes, it occurs to me that I haven't blogged, or even twittered, for a while, and probably have no readers left.

Luckily, I seem to be my biggest fan.

So, what's new? I was down to two small tetras in the tank (and they weren't looking too good) so I decided to get a new pet. A pet that is apparently indestructible, although lately he has been sleeping on his side lately and I don't think they're meant to do that.

Ta-dah!


He's a blue yabbie (for the non-Australians, they're a kind of mini-crayfish) and his name is Norm. Yabbies are usually brown, but blue ones aren't uncommon. When they've just moulted, their new shells can be a very vivid, almost electric blue colour.

Like most of the men in my life, Norm is lazy AND belligerent. Bwahaha! (I can get away with that because MFC refuses to read my blog. Reason given: "It just seems ... wrong.")

I've also been doing quite a bit of studying, which unfortunately takes priority over fun, creative stuff. Having said that, some new t-shirt ideas have started dancing around in my head, uninvited, so I may have to put their designs on RedBubble soon so they will SHUT UP.

I was also playing Final Fantasy XII, (which I think I told people about via Facebook) but after 65 hours of gameplay, even the thought of watching Captain Basch's firm behind as he runs after yet another monster with his big axe has palled. I still think Basch is a hottie though, and judging from the fan-made video tributes on YouTube, so do about 800,000 young girls and boys. Run, Basch, run!

Tonight, I discovered locked room games, or "Room Escape Games", as jayisgames.com calls them. Who knew there were so many fantastic free Flash games on the Internet?

So far I have played:

  • Room Fake - which I *avoids eye contact* ended up cheating on horrendously. In fact I think what I did went over and beyond what most people would define as cheating. When my brother caught me doing it, his upper lip might have curled a little.
  • The Final Spell - low-budget Harry Potter. Still fun.
  • The Great Living Room Escape - funky music, not too much brain power required. And that hamster is cute.
  • Ponpon House - very 3D pretty. I wish my room looked like that. The bonus mini-game at the end is hilarious! She doesn't seem too happy about the squid though. Perhaps she's not a fan of calamari.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get started on the aptly-named Bon Voyage.