Friday Obsessions: Bang Bang

Nancy Sinatra

For the past few days I haven’t been able to stop thinking of this song, and today it’s become an obsession. Bang, Bang. A Cher original, I think Nancy Sinatra does a much better rendition of it. Making eyes at the camera and soulfully telling us her story, I’m in love. I mean, I always sing “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” whenever I put boots on, but this song is on a whole new level right now. Let’s just say I totally understand why she was a popular pin up girl for soldiers in Vietnam. Yup, I’m a Nancy lover.

 

Image credit: Totally stole it from here. I don’t know where they stole it from :)

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Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?

Bigby

Do you like murder mysteries? Do you enjoy the real, gritty versions of fairy tales? Can you admit to secretly wishing that fairy tale creatures really lived among us, like maybe in New York? Your dreams, wishes, and aspirations have just been fulfilled. A new episodic video game by the makers of The Walking Dead  recently finished its first season. Based on the comic series Fables, by Bill Willingham, this Telltale Games series really grabbed my attention from the very first episode.

Before I introduce it any farther, I feel compelled to confess a few things. I don’t like The Walking Dead. Before anyone accuses me of raining on the zombie parade, please remember that I like end-of-the-world, zombie apocalypses just as much as the next girl, or boy. Feel free to read my review of The Last of Us (I loved it). However, The Walking Dead just doesn’t do it for me. I somehow can’t get involved in the art style, and the story line simply doesn’t grab my imagination. The narrative seems slow – I feel like nothing really happens with only a meandering plot and no direction – and I can never figure out if it is supposed to be an action game or not (not that I feel compelled to put things in boxes, but this one just really didn’t make sense). Of course, I haven’t watched my brother play the second season, which most people claim is superior, so perhaps that would change my mind. I’m not convinced.

Now that I have pretty much offended everyone everywhere, I will say that The Wolf Among Us fixed everything that I didn’t like about The Walking Dead, and made a beautiful, compelling, and interesting game. If you are like most of the population and love The Walking Dead, don’t fear, you will also love The Wolf Among Us. Your choices make an impact on the game (maybe even more so than previously), the controls will feel familiar, and the entire set up will probably make you squeal. I squealed a few times. I would actually like to have another play through to see how a new story flows. The action is gritty, the plot clear and always progressing, and the characters are well developed with great dialogue. Think Noir meets fairytales meets a 1980’s neon light extravaganza featuring Kurt Russell. Basically it’s badassery, beautiful cuts, awesome music, and great suspense all around. It also has the most hilarious glitch/mod/bug ever. EVAR.

Though we were able to figure out ‘whodunit’ relatively early on in the series, the how’s and why’s were quite fun to finally see, and the end let us know that we shouldn’t be so sure of ourselves as all that. Let’s just say they set it up nicely for a season 2, and I’m excited!!!!

 

Image credit: http://www.twinfinite.net/2013/10/11/the-wolf-among-us-ep-1-faith-review-grandma-bloodied-fangs/

The Time is Nao.

A Tale for the Time Being

I love getting book recommendations, especially from trusted friends with similar reading habits but perhaps different bookstore browsing patterns. Quite awhile ago, a friend recommended Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, which was only out in hardcover. I don’t like hardcover, so I waited patiently and finally bought it in paperback.

I read it. I read it again almost immediately after I finished it the first time. Now, I must admit, I have to stop myself from just picking it up and reading it once more. You might find that a bit odd – most people don’t read books two times in quick succession, however, it is something I do with almost all books I love. Why? Well, let’s start with this – if I had to name my one talent in this world it would be speed reading. I devour books. Whole ones for dinner. Perhaps because I grew up with no television at all, not even a device for movies, I became quite good at ingesting my one major source of entertainment: books. While my reading comprehension is just fine, because I am a speed reader I sometimes don’t get to live with the books long enough. They are over too quickly. I don’t linger for weeks with concepts like some of my friends do. So, I read it again.

A Tale for a Time Being is awfully human. Suicide, sex, quantum mechanic quandaries, coming of age, Alzheimer’s, it has it all. At first glance I thought, great, another book that tries to deal with everything, but Ruth Ozeki creates an incredibly raw, yet lyrical tale of what it’s like to be human. As Nao, a lively Japanese teenager in terrible circumstances, recounts a story to Ruth, a displaced, forgetful, and currently uninspired author on a remote Canadian isle, they both discover how to finally live. Yes, we have had these types of “many worlds” tales before, Sophie’s World comes to mind immediately, but this one really goes beyond it’s premise to deliver a thing of beauty. What the author is truly making us experience are the struggles of these two women, which naturally deals with all things human.

This might sound like a whole sale endorsement with no reservations, and to some extent it is, but I would be wary to recommend it to everyone. It deals with difficult and distressing topics, and I must admit that I sobbed, SOBBED for parts of it. I might be a sap when it comes to movies, and books often make me shed a tear, but I can’t say I have cried like this for very many books at all. However, I wasn’t depressed when I finished it – quite the opposite in fact.

Finally, the last, masterful stroke of Ruth Ozeki, is that she interweaves reality so well within her fiction that I ended up learning amazing things because of it. I have countless little earmarked pages where I researched gooseneck barnacles, the “anti-imperialist terrorist” Kanno Sugako, the Japanese literary genre I-novel, the Sliammon culture, and the list could go on. This is my favorite type of novel – the type where I learn amazing things about the world around me.

So what am I saying? If you are in need of a good book, and haven’t had time to do your own research on what to read next, read this. Or just read it in general. Because I said so. :P

And I’m back!!!

In the last few months I’ve had some pretty major milestones, and it’s been fun. I turned 28. Yay! I graduated from design school (I now have an MFA in women’s fashion). I got married (!!!!!). Yeah, it’s been crazy.

Do I change the name of the blog to reflect my age? I’m not sure, I’ll have to think about that. I didn’t change my name, I’m too attached to it, and my husbando is pretty awesome, so he’s just taking my name instead. One of my best friends made my wedding dress, and I helped – that was pretty awesome. Who hand-sews their wedding dress, with their mom none-the-less, in this day and age? Me. I was also given a beautiful hand-made quilt as a wedding present. Yeah – I love it. It’s like two worlds were completely crashing: some crazy 19th century settlers with totally modern feminist/equality idealists. Our ceremony lasted 3 minutes.

Enough about that. What I am really here to tell you about is a magical, magical place called Prairie Creek. Almost at the Oregon border, this gem of a park is where the Ewoks live. I could tell. I could almost hear their little noises. Not only are ginormous, humongous redwood trees towering over you, beautifully clean air coursing through your lungs, and early morning mists embracing your hair to make it frizz out in all it’s gloriousness, but underneath your feet you can find all sorts of cool things. Snails mostly. And some banana slugs. But they are epic!!!!!! If you are lucky, like we were, you will also encounter a herd of elk. What are elk, you ask? Think deer on steroids, with fuzzy horns and cream bottoms. Let’s just say I was super glad to be in a car when they were about 2 meters from me.

Our first full day there we did a 10+ mile hike through the redwoods (on Irvine trail), then through the stunning Fern Canyon, onto the beach, and back through the forest via Miner’s Ridge Trail. Highly recommended unless you have some slight knee issues – like we have. We persevered. It was worth it.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy, and maybe it will lure you into coming to California, or if you are already here, driving up the coast. I can only apologize for the quality of the pictures. For some reason I can’t figure out how to make my iphone take good nature photography. It’s a shortcoming of mine – I’m sorry. However, Prairie Creek is amazaballs. Stuff of legends I tell you.

Graffiti: SoMa Adventuring.

In between 6th and 5th on Howard, I found this gem. I had to share. I hearts it. One of the panels is very close to the great work I photographed on Hemlock. I still don’t know the artist… sorry guys. Just enjoy the visual eye candy and burst of colors <3 By the way, Insanity Wolf should really learn a thing or two from these wolves – they are fierce!

Illustration – I’m practicing.

This semester I’m taking an illustration class. Let me just say this to start – I am not an illustrator. I was never one of those kids who could whip out a cool drawing and make all the adults proud. That just isn’t me. However, I do love to draw, as difficult as it can be for me. I also want to get better at communicating my ideas for design, for anything really, in drawing. Hence, an illustration class.

The kids I’m taking this class with are those kids who can whip out amazingly adorable drawings that make all the adults proud (wait a minute, the class is full of adults, I think I’m giving the wrong impression). Regardless, I’m the only non-illustration major in there, and it can be tough. I’m powering through though. So, I thought I’d share some of my budding work with all of you.

First up, we have my second week homework assignment. The prompt? Draw four flour bags to illustrate the concept of stretch and compression. We could characterize our flour bags if we so desired. I so desired. My flour bags are basically stuffed animal flour bags, and I’m pretty happy with them. They are kind of cute.

For good measure I threw in a few drawings from in-class as well. These are short drawings, from 5-10 minutes, so I don’t always get the details, but they are fun nonetheless. I hope you enjoy my fledgling illustrations.

Graffiti: The Mission

Yesterday, on a walk with another visiting nephew (I have two <3) I found myself once again on Mission St. Really, the concentration of graffiti/street art there is quite high, as any San Franciscan knows. At some points, every small alleyway is lined with murals, tags, etc… In such a plethora, I often find myself unable to really photograph anything, and usually just stick to one or two things I find most interesting that day. Well, that happened again. Overwhelmed by color and pattern, I just captured a very few sections that particularly struck my fancy.

The first mural, by Max Ehrman, really grabbed my attention right away. I’ve posted some of his work before (as Eon75), but I can’t say I recognized it right away. Which is cool, since he changes up his art style a bit. However, now that I know, I can see the similarities in the elaborate backgrounds. I think that aside from the huge, sparkly-eyed cat, the intense swirls, shades, and colors of everything around the cat really drew me in. Very beautiful.

Right next to the cat, just a few paces down, is that gorgeous, swirling, snake skeleton. Or snake-like creature I should say. I have no idea who the artist is, but I love how it swirls around a window. With its very simple color palette, it couldn’t be more different than it’s neighbor, but I found it quite striking, and it held it’s own.

Finally, one alleyway down, and I see a very interesting character high on the wall. Once again, I fail at the finding the artist thing, but thing wall personality is amazing. The asymmetrical eyes, huge lips, and misshapen head would make one think of the grotesque, but somehow I just found him very sweet.

Well, there you have it. I didn’t mean for it to turn into some art dissertation, but I hope you enjoy the photos nonetheless.

Graffiti: Sometimes it’s grouped together.

Around the corner from a very beautiful mural next to Flax Art and Design, and right next to some great patterning and color I’ve shot before, were these four script tags. As usual, even more than the overall impression, I love looking closely at some of the details. The closer I got, the more I felt like I was looking at old books from the middle ages but in fantastic colors. Similarly, I have no idea what they say – my script reading skills are poorly lacking. I did notice the tag “Froggy,” which I have seen before, but I haven’t had any luck finding out what/who it’s about.  Then again, Satan and Hell’s Angels are also mentioned, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t do it… but you never know.

Beam me down, Scotty.

So probably, like with most things mainstream, I’ve come upon this a little late, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less excited (just look at how long it took me to see Austin Powers, for instance). Just in case you’re like me, and haven’t seen ALL the things, this is one thing you should definitely check out. Yeah, it’s from 2001, but it’s still epic.

Let’s start with this. Did you know that the blue whale’s tongue weighs the same as an elephant? In fact, the blue whale is so huge, its heart is around the same size as a small car, and it is larger than any known dinosaur. I didn’t know this, until last week when I watched Blue Planet. Now the world is just that much cooler.

Yes, I’m a nature geek, it’s true. I’d rather watch nature documentaries over reality TV any day. However, not all nature shows are created equal, and this is definitely at the top. The beauty of the imagery was astonishing, and there are plenty of weird, amazing, and gorgeous creatures to keep viewers highly visually stimulated. And an extra side of cute too.

I mean, how could I not have known that more people have gone into space than into the deep ocean? Or that there are entire under-ocean seas of heavier salt brine, complete with their own shores and everything? Or, or, or… really, I could go on. But mostly I want to tell you that nature, whether you are enjoying it outside, or in the comfort of your living room/bedroom/wherever-in-the-hell-you-watch-shows, should be narrated by the voice of Sir David Attenborough. I mean, doesn’t the fact that pipe fish hatch when males literally shake the eggs off their bellies sound so much cooler when an older man’s English accent is playing in your head? I know I think so.

So watch the show, and then next time you take a walk and notice something nature-y, think of Sir David Attenborough. Everything will be so much better.

To California in Drought

As a girl born and raised in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a rural and beautiful area dictated by seasons, I feel intensely the discomfort of this warm Bay Area pseudo-winter. As a child, though spring was short and summer ruled with a molten fist that blazed into fire at the slightest provocation, at least we used to have winter. I’m a bit worried for this year.

TO CALIFORNIA IN DROUGHT

Riding in a maze of neon lights,

I try to fall asleep to the memory of springs past,

when as a child I ran through grass,

high, lush, and achingly green,

to reach the hidden forest of my childhood.

 

The ground, pregnant with moisture,

cushioned my clumsy steps as I chased

that boat my dad and I carved out of styrofoam.

 

Hurry, hurry, the grass seems to push

and hold me back as I rush to beat the

small, quick rapids.

 

If I don’t catch it before the fork,

before the island of my daydreams,

I’ll have to carefully crawl between

the barbed wire to find it on

the other side of the fence.

 

But the cows scare me, and I’m

unsure if there is a bull, so I run and run,

trying to catch the boat of hope.

 

I almost reach it,

but when I open my eyes

we are in stopped traffic.

 

And in this California that knows no rain,

I realize that the trees behind my house

are cut down

and the horses graze on

dry, shorn grass of disappointment.