Friday, August 17, 2018

My Art: "Tonight, Tonight" w/ ponies

This is an incredibly old piece, made back in 2014, and my skills have vastly improved since then. However, I still hold a certain fondness for it. I like the amount of work I put into it, the shading, the colors. Even the somewhat poor line art gives it a bit of charm. It's very kooky and I remember the pride I felt in finally completing it. It was created on DeviantArt's Muro feature, which is very difficult but interesting to use. Be sure to also see the rest of my DA.

The picture itself is based on the music video for "Tonight, Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins. I was very fond of the video and song as a kid and wanted to make something for it.

Maybe someday I'll redo this piece to show my skill progress.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Video: Aretha Franklin, "Natural Woman"

Joining the succession of recent losses of the greats, Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has passed away. She was famous among most for her iconic song, "Respect" (R-E-S-P-E-C-T...). This is a video of her singing "Natural Woman" by Carole King (the blonde woman with the rainbow medal), a song that King—an old friend—wrote for her. The performance was a complete surprise for King, even moreso considering Franklin was suffering from cancer at this time. Even in her state, she stands up and proves without a sweat why she is the Queen. She made Obama cry.

There goes another treasure of American history. Rest in peace among your fellow legends Aretha, you've earned it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Photo Album: Childhood books

The Disney fairies series was my all-time favorite book series growing up. I received the first book, "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg," as a Christmas present while living with my grandma at the time. I remember feeling so warm, safe, and loved as I was roped into the magical world while the holiday chimed all around me. It was written by Gail Carson Levine, one of my favorite children's authors who also wrote other favorites like "Fairest" and "Ella Enchanted." She has a huge talent for taking seemingly cliche and overdone tropes and putting a new spin on them without coming across as gimmicky or trying too hard to appeal to newer generations. David Christiana is also a very gorgeous illustrator, with his flowing water colors lending a sense of oldness to the stories while still lighting up the pages with their colors and character.

I was all over the subsequent sequel, "Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand," as well as the spin-off "Tales of Pixie Hollow" chapter book series. I would frequently make my mom take me to Target, which was where they were primarily sold, to see if the newest glittery, glossy paperback could be spotted on the shelves yet. I even had the guidebook, "In the Realm of the Never Fairies: The Secret World of Pixie Hollow," since this was one of the first pieces of media where I became interested in the worldbuilding behind the stories. I remember losing my mind and thinking I was dreaming when I saw the advertisement for the first "Tinker Bell" movie at the back of one of the books, and then being really disappointed when the movie scrapped most of the books' canon. I remember being really annoyed at how the movie and all the other Disney fairy merchandising focused on characters who barely ever showed up in the books, like Silvermist, Iridessa, Fawn, and Rosetta, instead of the characters who frequently played central roles like Rani, Fira, Bess, and Lily.

Over time though, I got older, and although I never stopped liking fairies, I grew out of the age range the writing style was targeted at. I was moving on to thicker books with heavier subject matter (beginning with when my mom got me a copy of "The Golden Compass" for another Christmas), so it seemed a bit silly to keep spending money on books that were specifically written to help children transition from picture books to chapter books. I needed to challenge myself more, and the Disney fairy books were below my level. Ironically, I was doing the very thing the books had so often expressed fear over, what with being set in the Peter Pan universe and all—growing up. It was a bizarre and painful time inbetween believing in Santa, drawing unicorns, and catching after school PBS, and kids at school starting to swear and smoke, the beginning of emotional abuse instigated by my stepfather, and the increasingly disturbing realization that I was being transformed, largely without my permission, into an increasingly sexualized creature by the eyes and minds of the world around me long before I was ready to maneuver such obstacles.

The only original copy of mine I still have is the Pixie Hollow guidebook. All the others are probably buried in unopened moving boxes somewhere where I'll never find them. However, I have redeveloped an interest in the books and decided to buy the original main ones again. I learned there's actually a third book I didn't know about before, "Fairies and the Quest for Never Land," which I'm very excited to read. It hasn't arrived yet, but it's on its way. All hardcover of course, for the best illustrative experience.

Thank you, Levine and Christiana, for these great books and all the memories that come with them.

Update 8/9/2018

Got the third! Here we go. Going to re-read the first two to gear up for this one.

Photo Album: Movie on my street

Woke up this morning to find cameras filming a standard car drive-by scene on my street. A bit boring, but still something interesting to look at. Kinda wanted it to be a chase scene or something though.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Video: Jamie's Story, Unchained At Last

A lovely short film by one of my favorite charities, Unchained At Last, the only organization dedicated to fighting forced marriage and child marriage in the United States. This is the story of their first client.

Thank you to all the people who helped women like Jamie escape their horrible situations, and thank you to Jamie herself for having the courage to reach out for herself and her children.

Please consider donating to Unchained At Last.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Choir piece, "Come in from the Firefly Darkness" Amy F. Bernon

I was in chorus and choir for my entire middle and high school years. I chose it for mostly selfish reasons, because I didn't want to do the paper assignments of General Music and I didn't want the responsibility of taking care of an instrument for band, but I soon grew to appreciate it for what it was. This was one of my favorite songs to sing, I still have the sheet music for it. It is bittersweet, describing the struggle between craving both the comfort of home and the wonder of the wider world in a lullaby-like tone.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Video: Awful Objections to Anti-Theism

By up and coming YouTuber, Genetically Modified Skeptic. He does a very good job here of addressing the common comebacks by believers and atheists alike to antitheism and I look forward to watching his progress in making antitheism less stigmatized as just "mean atheism."