And because I thought it would be kind of amusing for not just the painting, but the frame and the wall behind it to be all painted as well. LOL. I am in dire need of entertainment.
At least gilt frames are far easier to paint than brass tubing?
Almost there... the frame still needs a little tuning, and there's the wall to texture. Manually. *facepalm*
Your result for The Golden Compass Daemon Test...
Distant Loner Soul
A confident and independent person, you are logical and probably very intelligent. Some people think you are a little cool and unemotional, just because you don't prattle on about your feelings all the time like some people do. Outbursts of either anger or joy are both rare for you: You try to keep yourself under control at all times. You tend to deflect any really personal questions with a joke, an overly-literal reply, or even an out-and-out lie. Your few friends and your family probably wish that they knew you better. You probably wish they would just leave you alone.
The thoughts and opinions of other people don't hold much sway over you. You don't spend time agonizing over other people's feelings, and you don't much care what people think about you. Sometimes your insensitivity can hurt people's feelings, but that's their problem. If someone didn't like you, you wouldn't lose much sleep over it. You march to the beat of your own drum, and if your friends and family think you can be a little odd... well, that's their issue.
You are an introverted person, disliking crowds and strangers. Some people might think that you are shy, but really, you simply find parties and crowds to be unpleasant and tiresome. You get exhausted quickly when you are forced into social situations, and you need some time to yourself to recharge afterwards. You don't like noise and chaos. You like to keep things calm and logical.
Your daemon would represent your cool, unruffled, solitary nature and would probably spend a lot of time comparing you favorably to the people around you, or helping you work out logically complex problems.
Octopus, Manta Ray, Shark, Boa Constrictor, Komodo Dragon.
O..kay? Aside from the quiz pretty much nailing my personality and the weirdness of getting THREE aquatic daemon possibilities (wouldn't that doom me to a life of seafaring, never to tread the ground? What if I was born on land? ROFL ROFL ROFL), can you imagine the hilarity of possessing an octopus for a daemon? I imagine it would be a peaceful coexistence like this...
Anyway, we had Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol dumped in our collective lap... and, to my horror, as I scanned the piece, I found OMG A SOLO awaiting me right at the beginning of the first variation section (with more solo and soli bits scattered elsewhere in it). Okay, so I managed to avert major disaster while sightreading that, but there was this frantic little voice in the back of my head blabbering, are you kidding me, I have been playing this wretched thing for only how long and you want me to play this in front of everyone at the concert, quite possibly at the end of the programme when I haven't any breath left in me?! [flail]. (And the irony of it is that I'm terrified of playing slow, sweet, soft passages, but I'm perfectly fine with long, loud passages crammed with notes. Go figure). Whatever other elements I may be made of, brimming confidence isn't one of them. LOL.
The practice *had* its hilarious moments... or should I say Moment: The trumpeter and trombonist showed up halfway through Alborada (the third section of the Capriccio); after we'd finished the section, our conductor said, "Now let's go back to the beginning." AND LO THERE WAS HIDEOUS
And finally, an updated WIP of that ridiculous thing I started before I went on vacation:
I still think I'm bananas for even starting it.
( Snippety snip )
The lion dance performance. Pretty nifty, for anyone who's never seen it before. Unfortunately, I filmed this on the 1st floor walkway, so the drumming is muted; it was either that, or film it on the ground floor for better audio... and capture only the tops of people's heads. ;)
( More on acquisitions )
[NOTE: I've just discovered, thanks to Wikipedia, that Dick Winters passed away on the 2nd of January this year. :-(( There'll be a tribute painting at some point, if I can fit it in my schedule.]
Also: What do you do when your lungs are rattling, your throat feels like it's gone ten rounds with a cheese grater, and you want to paint something but you know you haven't the time to embark on any big projects? Why, by starting *two* ridiculous projects, which thereby guarantees you'll be able to finish neither before you leave:
What started out as an exercise in low camera angles wound up becoming... this. WTF Propaganda poster? It certainly seems to be leaning in that direction.
[Oh, and that musket's actually based on Montgomery, just with a longer barrel; I haven't an actual musket to model for me. >.<]
I don't know what possessed me to even *think* of doing this. Yes, I'm quite mad, thank you. Or at least I shall be once I start painting the goddamn metals!
I wouldn't have mentioned it, but for the fact that said thumb and pinky have had no time off because obviously it is not possible to practice the french horn with only two fingers. (If anyone knows of a way to get an A flat without using the third lever, please let me know). On the plus side (I think?), said pinky is now quite thoroughly numb from tonight's practice, and so does not feel like it's about to explode like an overcooked sausage. Har har.
In other news, a friend just linked me to the following awesome video:
History of the Soviet Union to the theme tune of Tetris!!!! <geeklove> Now, if only high school history classes had been conducted in a similar fashion, I might have been far more interested in the subject. (Though I did still get an A for my O levels-equivalent, which is probably the biggest mystery in the history of my education since I distinctly remember cooking up the entire Meiji Restoration bit).
Everyone's heard that gruesome urban legend about some vacationing couple/other holiday makers finding a highly aromatic, putrefying ex-person under their hotel bed. Well, some of those stories are actually true... and I just found out that my mother's friend knew one of the women who found one of said ex-people lurking under the mattress. Said woman was part of a group of insurance salespeople who went up to our local highlands for a convention/workshop; because they had to pay their own way for accommodations, six of them wound up sharing a hotel room, which necessitated the urgent rearrangement of the beds as everybody wanted dibs on the soft upper mattress rather than the harder support. At which point they found a (thankfully, I suppose) very fresh, deceased female playing sandwich meat to the double bread layer of bedding...
I'm only mentioning this because my mother and her friends (including the one who knew the insurance lady) went up to said highlands resort on vacation last week. Because the story had circulated among them, the two only women who *didn't* go to burn their money at the casino were far too frightened to go to sleep until their roommates had returned. Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If they're afraid that *their* beds might harbour grinning corpses, why didn't they check under them when they first arrived at the hotel? wouldn't it have been better to *know* for sure that nothing was lurking under your bed, rather than to spend the night in trepidation, and letting your imagination run havoc? And what's so bad about sharing the bed with a corpse? I mean, I suppose it would be a little unhygienic - and probably olfactorily unpleasant - to be bedmates with something that's cooled down to room temperature and is now being systematically broken back down to its elements by microorganisms, not to mention slightly uncomfortable if you have The Princess and the Pea constitution... but it's not as if said ex-person is going to rise again and hurt you? It's not going to do anything; it's not even going to have the courtesy of talking to you (and if you do manage to have a conversation with it, there is probably something the matter with you). It's just actively being... Not.
Heh, people. [grin]
2. Angering the King of Gods
I'll say this much about learning a new thing (be it a new language or musical instrument or technique): you learn so much faster when you're thrown right into the deep end, rather than when you're left to paddle about in shallow waters. I've literally been forced to learn the French horn at breakneck speed since the end of August last year because... nobody else slowed down to give me time to catch up. And last night, I had the 1st horn part for Gustav Holst's Jupiter from The Planets dropped into my lap - a piece that I found already found challenging for the trombone, and I've had years' experience playing that instrument. And which I had to sight-read, never mind that (1) my brain still remembered all the trombone parts, (2) there were *high* notes that I'd never had to tackle before (and never mind all the strange ones, because my brain still works at concert pitch), and (3) OMG SOLI SOLI SOLI. So it did come as a pleasant surprise that I did not manage to completely mess up the piece after all. (And strangely enough, I find that I do much better sighting fast pieces with whole strings of notes, rather than very slow ones with only a smattering of notes. Go figure). Of course, I do have this very sweet new Holton Farkas MDC mouthpiece that I ordered from Hickey's:
which is a dream to play because it's new and plated with silver and so nicely padded at the rim, and works so well when wet. (Compare that to the original mouthpiece that came with the horn, which was so old the finish had come off in places, leaving the rim uneven and abrasive... and furthermore contained nickel, which I was badly allergic to).
I'm no longer so miserable playing this wretched instrument. Even if it *is* disgusting to empty.
3. More Books for the Shelf!
A couple of new reads that I'm very happy with:
Modern space operas are so hard to find, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this collection of short stories by former research astronomer Alastair Reynolds at the local bookstore. Even better, it comes under the heading of hard science fiction (hard, as in the opposite of soft - being science/technology-heavy rather than revolving around socioeconomics/politics) - the last hard SF book I read being Peter Watts' Blindsight (and which I loved because it was so cold and unemotional). Multiple-universe theory, dark matter, artificial intelligence, cyberpunk, and sprinklings of general physics and astronomy? LOVE. I need to get my hands on his novels now.
A bit of trivia: The short story Beyond the Aquila Rift is hauntingly reminiscent of the mass relay technology in the Mass Effect games. Only, of course, Reynolds' story came first. [grin] <3
Which arrived at the beginning of the week. ^_______^
Oh god, I cannot tell you how long I have searched for this book. (Okay, so it was ever since I was old enough to realise that the Disney cartoon my granddad and I watched a bazillion times was a bastardised version of a much bigger, darker story that hadn't a happy ending). After years of combing secondhand bookstores, I finally found copies at a couple of online stores... which were expensive enough (given that only two editions were ever published - I think -: the 1967 hardcover, and the 1971 paperback) that I spent a further two years trying to decide if I was willing to part with that much money for an old book. (During which time I also conveniently acquired a credit card). As you can tell, I was. I paid an obscene amount of dosh for this 1st edition - though I would've paid even more if this hadn't been an ex library copy, even though it's in near-mint condition, as you can tell. (If this had been a library book *here*, it would be hideously mangled! And after I carefully removed the original plastic wrapping and rewrapped it in new plastic - a ritual I *always* carry out with old books, because it makes them truly *mine* - it was about as good as new). But it is so worth it. I just wish my granddad were still around - I think he'd have liked to read the original version.
[hugs the book]
And, just because I'm the curious sort, just two days ago I went back to the online stores where I found listings for this book to check the prices again - and found that they'd gone up even farther.[ As much as USD150 for the paperback!! Holy mother of gizkas.]
Anyway, have started a new painting. To be honest, I conceived (ha! ha!) the idea about four years ago, and have made multiple attempts during that period to render the scene - without any kind of success whatsoever. This time around, I think I might actually get around to finishing it. Not that I'm even halfway done, mind. (Wilbur's only half-rendered, and the colours haven't come on yet).
[For the record: Wilbur's egg will be an ominous purple with pink polka dots - one of the unexpected side effects of an Armoured Red mating with a diminutive blue mere-dragon. I could write a whole textbook trying to explain the genetics of *that* mating, LOL.]
( More pointless WIPpaging )
Daniel from Amnesia: The Dark Descent doing something utterly horrible that was only mentioned in a letter in the game:
|The pencil sketch set to multiply, with a greenish background underneath. Background details are marked in with dark brown.|
|Changed the background colour to something less blah. I mean, it is a goddamn candlelit torture room, not the bloody sewers.|
|What can I say, I don't care much for handsome protagonists. LOL. I do like the crazy ones, though.|
| No self-respecting 1830s gent would be caught dead without his waistcoat, cravat *or* coat, but given that Daniel is doing something horribly messy, perhaps he can be pardoned.|
It's still a damn sight better than the game concept art, which has Daniel wearing a coat that would've suited George Frederic Handel, and fully buttoned shirt/ belt/ zip-up pants. Did nobody do their homework?
|Um, Alexander? Stop distracting Daniel.|
|Started splashing greens around because the picture was too boring in terms of colour.|
|Started scribbling like a maniac on a new layer at this point. Then set layer to "Divide", which made the picture look even more psychotic than it already was.|
| My beta liked the picture less saturated, so this was the final version I uploaded.|
I admit to being partial to the more saturated version, but it does get painful on the eyes after a while.
Oh and yes, I lengthened the blade of the knife. Daniel deserves better than a sissy little carver.
NOTE: Star Wars writers whose non-Star Wars books are not part of my collection will no longer be listed under their own names. This is to avoid confusion (on my part).
LAST UPDATED: 8 February 2011
CURRENT BOOK COUNT: Given up in despair.
( A Godawfully Long Catalogue )†*( A Godawfully Long Catalogue )
[Note that this does not include my three sets of encyclopaedias, dictionaries, art references, old science textbooks, technical manuals, collection of National Geographic/Sky & Telescope/Discover magazines, or the vast number of juvenile books I acquired as a child.]
Unfathomable technology of dead, ancient civilisations should not be fully trusted.
For anyone who doesn't already know this, Mass Effect 2 is an action RPG by BioWare, the same company that made Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and Dragon Age. The game is centered around an ancient technology called the Mass Effect, a physics phenomenon (and game equivalent for what real life physicists call "dark energy") that, among other things, allow interstellar travel using Mass Relay stations built all over the galaxy by an ancient, extinct race called the Protheans. At the end of the first Mass Effect game, Commander Shepard (the player character) and his/her motley crew of aliens and humans save the galaxy from invasion by the ancient predatory race of Reapers by shutting down the mass relay on Citadel Station and - depending on your actions in the game - either save the Galactic Council, thereby allowing humans to join the council, or allow it to be destroyed, thus opening the way for humans to step out as the new galactic leader. In ME1 my Shepard had gone after the Sovereign, flagship of the rogue Spectre Saren, which caused the Council to fall - a course of action that probably endeared Shepard to very few aliens!
( Relays! Aliens! Spaceships! )
IN OTHER NEWS
I never thought I'd see the day when I was unable to wear a nice branded shirt because size S was too goddamn big. But that's exactly what happened when I idly browsed the racks at Benetton yesterday and chanced upon a very nice shirt that I was quite taken with. M, which I normally wear, was big enough to hide several baby elephants; S was still enough to accommodate one baby elephant if it held its breath and was willing to be squashed a little. And of course the shirt didn't come in sizes smaller than that. Why must you make your shirts so ginormous, Benetton???
Also, I bought a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick in preparation for my Wings of Prey gaming sessions. ^__^ I haven't been this excited since I played my first fighter sim as an adolescent. Did I ever mention that one of the things I wanted to do as a kid was join the Air Force and fly Tomcats and Flying Fortresses? (Never mind that our nation's Air Force didn't have F-14s, B-17s were long obsolete, and I was practically blind without glasses, among other things). I used to lament the fact that I was born in the wrong age for wars - an incredibly naive, childish thing to think, but I was young enough then that I only saw the glamour of doing loops and rolls and firing missiles at enemy fighters. Admittedly it was one of those things I never quite got over. I'll review the joystick alongside the game when I get around to it.
Hallowed be thy drink,
I'll be drunk,
At home as in the pub,
Give us this day,
Our foamy beer,
And forgive us our spillages,
As we forgive those who spill against us,
And lead us not into road blocks,
But deliver us from hangovers.
I'd have made the "humerus" for the wings longer, only I ran out of canvas space at the top - which just goes to show how awesome I am at planning pictures. [facepalm]
Has anybody any idea how Longwing wings can be "tipped with orange" *and* "edged with black and white markings"??? We're bashing up desks and tablets trying to work this out.
Amnesia Diary (spoiler!!!)
Finally finished the damn game! Agrippa - whose dead husk I found hanging in a torture area in the nave, but whose essence was perfectly happy to chat with me in a sprightly old voice - had me sever his head and toss it into the portal opened by the orb. This apparently caused the Shadow to kill not only Alexander, but me/Daniel as well. Only I woke up in darkness, with glowing blue lights in the distance, to Agrippa's voice telling his student Johann Weyer that I deserved so much more, and that he was to help me. The last thing Agrippa said before the credits started rolling was, "Don't worry, Daniel, it will be all right." Eh? and just what is Weyer going to do, bring me back to life? or am I joining them "beyond the stars"?
The "revenge" ending - which I got, when I played the finale a second time - was far more satisfying: Daniel killing Alexander, and then walking out of Brennenburg Castle, apparently having been cleansed of his sins by giving Alexander to the Shadow.
Oh, and by the way, I finally found out just what had been chasing me in the darkness:
Seriously, Mr. Google-Eyed Slackjaw??? [dies laughing]
I guess it really *is* a case of what you can't see being far scarier than what you *do* see. ROFLMAO!
Christmas eve we went out for dinner and cheesecake, and to catch the Christmas performances at the mall. Christmas day breakfast at this spanking new dim sum restaurant (where hordes of people, most of them coming straight from the church, had similarly gathered), *and* dinner at my aunt's, my uncle having cooked up a giant vat of spaghetti. Then *another* dinner at the country club restaurant the following night, to celebrate my other aunt's birthday. Oi. Antacids all around, please.
Was pleasantly surprised to receive more unique coins from my parents for my (small but slowly growing) collection - two solid gold, one silver, all commemorating special national events - as I hadn't expected them to get me anything (and had certainly said as much!). Also - probably as proof of how much of a games nerd I am - received three games from friends this season: one of which is still scaring the hell out of me because I'm wussy enough to play it only when there's still daylight or when there are people talking to me on Steam (Amnesia: The Dark Descent); one which is something I would never have thought to get but which turned out to be highly entertaining (Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures), and one that I'm going to die of old age before I play it because it's taking forever to download on Steam (Mass Effect 2). And if you don't think that's already enough to last me many, many months, I went and bought Wings of Prey for myself as well because... well, it's a World War II fighter simulator, and I never quite got over my I Want To Be A Fighter Pilot phase. (Fighter/bomber sims were about all I played during my misguided adolescence).
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
This isn't the sort of game I would have ever tried on my own, let alone get, but playing it has disabused me of the notion that Lego Video Games are only for little kids. Tory actually got this for me so that we could play co-op. If she'd read the specifications a little more carefully, though, she might have noticed the words, "local co-op"... which effectively means that, unless we find a way to open a wormhole connecting our studies, we're not going to be playing together anytime soon. Which, actually, is a bit of a blessing, given the kind of havoc you can wreak with this game.
I haven't played all that much of it yet, but I can honestly say this: Lego Indiana Jones is singularly The Most Destructive Game I have ever laid my grimy paws upon, and I'm saying this as an action game fan, and especially one who has played Ghostbusters: The Video Game, where they tell you in your financial statement just how many thousand dollars' worth of government property etc you have managed to wreck while taking down your ghosts (my final tally being somewhere in the order of USD300+ K). To put it simply: *anything* made of Lego bricks can be destroyed. This includes all manner of plants, furniture, fixtures, decorations - and, of course, other Lego characters. Not only can you smash *anything*, even upright pianos, apart with your bare fists, the game actually rewards you for this wantonly destructive behaviour by giving you - gasp! - money for anything and everything you break.
Here we see Indy savaging an innocent filing cabinet as coins pour out of it:
Hilarious, I tell you.
Anyway, I digress. The game, as its name implies, is Lego brick-based... or at least Lego bricks rendered in beautiful, shiny 3D. All three original Indiana Jones movies are represented here, each with its own game: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. In each chapter, Indy is accompanied by one or more other characters, each with his/her own special moves/actions/abilities: Indy has his bullwhip, of course; female characters, being more lithe, can jump higher; other characters may wield special equipment, like Satipo who, in Raiders, wields a shovel you can use to unearth partially buried treasure. Gameplay-wise, it's very much action-adventure style, with a hell lot of running and jumping, and finding keys and pulling levers. Only, this being a Lego game, you also get to *build* things to earn rewards or obtain objects for progressing.
It's a highly entertaining game - and not just for kids either. I suspect that it would be even more entertaining playing it with a friend because... there are endless opportunities for annoying the hell out of each other, seeing as you can push and shove and punch each other, and even put them in a position where they die every time they respawn. Of course, these being little Lego people, there isn't any blood when anybody dies, and they just come to pieces when they kick the Lego bucket. It's also interesting how much of the original story can be captured in a game that involves only hilarious facial expressions and body language, and absolutely no conversation, even if the game is more a humourous version of, rather than a faithful, accurate recreation of the original movies. (How serious could Lego Nazis possibly be anyway?).
On the flip side, the controls make me want to throw my mouse at the monitor at times. Characters can get stuck in various odd places, enemies can spawn where you can't get to them, and you can trip over a ledge and fall to your death on a bed of spikes - and respawn right at the edge of said ledge to fall in and impale yourself again and respawn right at the edge of said ledge to fall in and impale yourself again ad nauseam. And to make it worse, characters you're not currently playing can block your path out of said hazards, keeping you locked in a vicious reincarnation-violent death cycle. Saving is also a headache: the game only saves after you complete a chapter, which is pretty dang long, so if you have to shut off your computer or go anywhere before you complete one, you can kiss your game goodbye. Oh, and lest you think you can play *any* of the three games at will... think again. I spent a considerable amount of time dismantling everything I could crack my bullwhip at in The Last Crusade, only to realise that, to progress to the next section, I needed a character I did not currently have, and couldn't obtain unless I played the game right through from Raiders and Temple. GAH!
All in all, though, it's a fun game for when you're tired of violence, blood and gore, and want a little good, clean stress relief. Unless of course you find yourself in one of those loops, in which case the game actually causes stress, and rather a lot of swearing.
Next up: Wings of Prey.
Quote of the Day: Linda: [On Christmas day, upon seeing that I'd launched Amnesia] "So you're celebrating the birth of Jesus by playing a game that causes you to scream out his name frequently?" ROFLMAO.
Do not ever assume, when reaching a door, that the monster you hear growling necessarily has to be beyond the door. Turning up a staircase in the sewer to a heavy wooden door, I heard the ominous rumble, and turned and RAN back around the corner - only to crash headlong into one of the goddamn freaks. Needless to say, Daniel's face got torn off in the encounter, and my heart jumped out of my ribcage in a panic and ran away with my lungs.
Went out and got myself two books yesterday:
1. Andras Szunyoghy's Anatomy Drawing School: Animal. Szunyoghy's (I hate typing his name >.<) Human Anatomy for Artists is my personal bible, and sits on my music stand when there's no music on it, so I was delighted to find this other volume because this man *rocks* at anatomy. I've always had trouble drawing animal movement, mostly because I've never actually had the chance to observe said animals but also because I knew doodly-squat about their musculoskeletal systems. This book not only illustrates the complete skeletons and musculature of select mammals from various angles, but also separate bones and muscle masses as well as the movement of their limbs/bodies and the corresponding position of the bones during said movement. It's too bad the book doesn't cover avians as well; *that* is another area I know very little about, and could use an anatomy book to help me with.
2. Geoffrey Abbott's Execution: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to Death. Probably not everybody's choice of bedtime reading, but I've always been fascinated by methods of torture and putting people to death - from a purely educational viewpoint, of course. (It's all research!). That, and I suspect that macabre/gruesome books, movies and games are a coping mechanism for when the world gets too stressful or upsetting. [Wait, I already know this: whenever I get upset, I go and kill hordes of zombies with headshots, and feel massively better afterwards.] A bystander should have no claim to distress, but it's nevertheless highly unsettling to watch chaos descend and claim casualties, particularly when they're not anonymous but have names that mean something to the observer, and having no right or business or way to do anything about it.