Saturday, 28 August 2010

Tangled Up In Plaid

Well, not necessarily plaid but hopefully some sort of patterning. Once I get going.

Remember my wild and cray-zay New Year's Resolutions?

Remember the one about learning to crochet?

Well, I'm edging closer!

After having bought a beginners' guide months ago and then forgetting to go back to the store for the yarn* or hooks I have joined Ravelry to get extra inspired with patterns and the like and will soon begin trawling YouTube for lovely little 'how to' videos so I know what all the short-hand in the patterns means.

I also now need to learn how to knit because the internet has patterns for Jayne Cobb's hat...

... and I want one.

Because it's Jayne Cobb's hat and he's the hero of Canton don't cha know!

I want one so badly I can almost taste it!**

I expect my first project will be an almost unbearably sad-lookin' scarf that I'll not want to wear but we've all got to start somewhere and my fumble-fingers will have to learn discipline in cruddy scarf boot camp before they get a shot at crocheting little squiddies or vampires or knitting bad-ass space cowboy beanies.
You have to earn a hat like that and seeing as I was born too early to join the Browncoats in their struggle or have a hand in the liberation of Canton, I'll have to earn it the other way - through arts and crafts!

*well, cotton yarn substitute... stupid allergy to wool.

**it tastes fluffy

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Crawling Out Of The Comfort Zone

I avoid certain movies like the plague.

War movies because they're always emotionally crushing and visually jarring.

Certain romantic comedies because they always feel so false and oversimplified.

Horror movies of a certain calibre because my brain doesn't need any more help imagining strange things lurking the in shadows thank you so very much.

And that was all well and good and I felt fairly OK with that.

But then I started avoiding a lot of other movies and when I tried to work out why, I was embarrassed to find that the explanation that popped up in my head was that they were 'too much work'.

"How much work can it be to sit on your ass and watch a movie?" a person would be justified in asking.

I didn't mean 'work' work but emotional and mental work.

I'd been rewatching old movies in a half-arsed way that allowed the familiar scenes and dialogue to wash over and past me whilst I tried to do other things (eg. write, draw, email).

The problem was I was doing those things half-arsed as well.

Instead of devoting two hours to really paying attention to a movie or really paying attention to a piece of writing or drawing, I was spending two hours not really paying attention to either and coming away feeling irritated and not at all like I had accomplished anything.

Instead of multi-tasking I was multi-tanking.

So as recorded in my New Year's Resolutions I have banned myself from watching movies I have already seen and am only watching new movies.
This has led to a sharp decrease in amount of movies actually watched but the associated sharp decrease in hours staring goggle-eyed and useless at a square of moving colours has been a welcome side effect.

And the movies I have watched so far have already made the experience worth it.

Not all have them have been quality but they've been fresh, they've got my brain moving again and I'm being less of a movie and cinema wuss about the 'hard work' movies.

My brain needs more hard work, it has been slacking off for years.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Silver Screen Surfer

I don't often have a lot of luck getting out to see movies when they're playing at the cinema.

Either I'll agree to see them with someone and we can never go on the same day or I lose track of time and by the time I get around to it the local cinema has stopped playing the film in question.

This isn't always exclusively down to my poor organisational skills or vague grip on temporal reality, the local cinema can be a bit of a moody bugger when it comes to screening runs.
The Karate Kid (aka The Kung-Fu Kid) has been screening for over a month but Predators ran for a maximum of two weeks before they gave it the boot.

So when a swag of movies I was interested in all came around at once I decided that I was damned if I was being cheated again and I went - to put it quite bluntly - completely nuts*.



Synopsis: Scott Pilgrim is a 20-something slacker who finds himself having to battle 7 evil exes in order to be able to date the girl of his dreams. Scott Pilgrim is accompanied in this quest by a selection of amusing and sometimes unsympathetic friends in a world that blends regular reality and computer game tropes in a way that messes your brain up fun times.

Ricochet's Bonus Blather: I was already going out with friends for a farewell dinner (for one of them) so when they said 'Hey you wanna go see Scott Pilgrim after?' I cursed them out for being the dirty temptresses they are and immediately said yes. This clashed with my Nerdy Senses which were tingling and saying things like 'But you haven't read Volume 6 yet, you fiend!' but I shouted them down, assuming correctly that I would be able to hold the movie separate in my mind from the graphic novels.
I loved the film for it's timing, the use of effects to simulate comic panels and for Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells - the whole thing was very well cast.
Of course there is no way you can make a feature length film from six graphic novels without having to cut out and compress a lot of the story telling, so if you haven't read the graphic novels you might come away a wee bit confused.
I had avoided reading Scott Pilgrim for ages as the whole premise of a man having to fight a girl's ex-boyfriends in order to date her seemed so... misogynist but on the urgings of a Canadian friend I gave them a go and found it hard to see them as such when reading them. I still think Ramona should have just told them all to go to hell and given them a good frying-panning to the face but the exchanges and actions were so entertaining and the 'computer game reality' so removed from regular life you couldn't take it entirely seriously on that level.



Synopsis: In a near future which has developed the technology to access people's dreams as a means of removing information, a skilled practitioner of this art is given a chance of redemption if he can achieve what is thought impossible - to place an idea within the mind of another.

Ricochet's Bonus Blather: I had decided to see Inception today but hadn't gotten around to it by the time I went out to dinner with my parents, so I decided that not only was I still going to see it, I was going to carjack my parents and take them with me. And I did.
It was astoundingly good.
And honestly if it had just been 2+ hours of Cillian Murphy looking vulnerable and Joseph Gordon-Levitt being tipped off chairs I would have been perfectly happy but it also had a plot!
The depiction of the movement of time and the mouldable reality and how it reacted were very engaging and it didn't hurt that pretty much all the dudes in it were fairly easy on the eyes.
For all the people who were complaining that they found it hard to follow or confusing I'm going to assume you spent the whole movie picking your nose and molding the resultant finds into a miniature statue of the Venus of Willendorf because my mother - who usually has to be reminded who people are part way through murder mysteries - followed it easily**.



Synopsis: A disgraced journalist and an antisocial hacker are brought together as the investigation of the 40 year old disappearance of a young girl leads to evidence of crimes more wide-reaching and recent than anyone suspected.

Ricochet's Bonus Blather: The books have divided some people as they couldn't get past the 'Fellowship of the Rings' style character infodump at the start of the first book but I found that those sections helped me get a better idea of the society/culture they take place in and it gave me a context in which to see everything else.
The movie was a fantastic realisation of the book and managed to fit most of the important scenes and themes in without having to alter too much of the story, apart from tweaks to the time-line and some reduction in the roles of some characters.
Having read the books I was able to brace myself for the more confronting scenes but think they would have been equally if not more effective if I hadn't known they were coming.
One of the things I liked best about this screening was that apart from me, the audience was almost exclusively ladies in their 60s (and over) in home-knitted cardies, nodding in appreciation any time Lisbeth smacked anyone or tattooed anything on anyone. As we were walking out I heard one lady remark to her friend "I would have been tattooing it a damn sight lower, I can tell you that!"



Synopsis: A bunch of mercenaries suddenly get a conscience about one of the messed up countries they're asked to do a job in and go completely banza crazy setting shit right yo!

Ricochet's Bonus Blather: I'm sorry, I couldn't write a 'serious' synopsis for this one. Mostly because it doesn't really have one. It was enjoyable as a collection of quips and cliches from people we're used to seeing quip cliches at us but it was so over the top that it was a send-up of its own genre which I assume was the aim. Well, I hope it was.
The banter between the characters was so exaggeratedly familiar it seemed like a polyamorous commune of old married men.
One thing I did like was the fact that the characters spent a bit of time reflecting on how that sort of lifestyle can really mess you up, that you can't just brush it off and that maybe some of their number should get some counselling.
I took along my friend Awesome with whom I watch all the most explodingest movies and we did enjoy it as a complete break from reality with extra violence sauce but I couldn't help but think that part of the reason for that is we've been conditioned to enjoy these sorts of tales.
Of course it is quite possible I am just feeling super pretentious after having seen three very good movies in quick succession just before this one***.


And somehow, despite the fact I spent almost the entire weekend sitting on my ass, at the end of it all I came away with a sense of productivity****!


* That is 'nuts for a person who usually seems a maximum of 3 movies a year at the cinema'.

** Of course, it probably helps that at the cinemas you can't wonder off to put a load of washing on or make a cup of tea and come back after something very important has happened but really all you had to do was watch the screen.

*** But honestly, it is in no way a clever movie. Amusing but no surprises.

**** I guess it did count towards my New Year's Resolution to watch at least 52 new movies this year...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A Den of Ink and Long Island Ice Tea

My memory is terrible.

I can't remember how I heard about Molly Crabapple, her art, her wish to make figure drawing more accessible and enjoyable and less intimidating but I certainly won't be forgetting the first session of Dr Sketchy's that I attended.

Dr Sketchy's is an Anti-Art School. Not anti-art but anti-'art school'.
It poo poos the idea that to be good at art you have to have spent years before the easel man-and-boy or that you should feel anything less than joy when creating at whatever level you can.

Dr Sketchy's is a figure drawing session with a significant difference.

All the models are burlesque and/or circus performers.

And they are fabulous.

All you need to attend Dr Sketchy's is enough in your pocket to cover the modest entry fee, something to draw on and something to draw with.
The music is light and quirky, the costumes are divine, the drinks are plentiful and the mood is fantastic.

It's like attending a party where all the other guests are madly trying to capture their fellow revellers' likenesses because they forgot their cameras and nobody minds a jot.
The performers perform as well as pose, the MC has a wicked tongue and the sheer beauty of the tattoos that I've seen would melt your eyeballs out of your head.
Also quite a lot of feathers, satin and shimmering sequined nipple pasties.

I've never had the guts to attend a 'proper' art class, worried that I'd either be completely bewildered if they started too quickly or bored silly if they started too slow* but each session of Dr Sketchy's that I've made it to has been a breeze.
So breezy in fact that the three hours are over before you know it.

You can search for local branches on the website which I would heartily recommend.
They're a warm, welcoming lot, art nerds.

I might have a way to go with my technical skills but I'm certainly going to enjoy the journey!

*Or that I'd laugh if the life model farted. Or that I would have attended school with the life model...