Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rant of the Day: Music Snobs

I don't care.  I'm just going to say it...

I don't like Simon & Garfunkel.

There, I Said It.   Other than a couple of songs here and there, scattered in the wind like so much debris, I'm just not a big fan.  Is it "heretic" or un-American?  Perhaps.  But there you go.  I'm not a fan.  So...

Hehehe.  Homer.  

Which reminds me of a really big pet peeve of mine - music snobs.  Get over yourselves.  So what if I listen to some Top 40 Chart Toppers?  I do what I want!  Nyah nyah.  On a serious note, music snobs annoy me because they judge individuals who listen to mainstream music solely because they listen to mainstream music.  Perhaps it's the idea that these mainstreamers are contemptible because they follow the crowd...?  Perhaps it's just the desire of these self-proclaimed indies to be different (or the lofty idea that they ARE different)?  Perhaps it's a malcontent disposition towards disassociation from general society?

Whatever the reason may be, you shaddup, you!  Who gives a flying screw whether someone listens to Scout, Neutral Milk Hotel, Rihanna, or Mandy Moore?  It's one thing to discuss the merits of a song or the talents of an artist (an honest-to-goodness debate on Britney Spears' musical abilities is well called for), but to automatically strike someone down because he/she listens to a mass-commercialized Top 40 song?  Gimme a break.  Music is music, and it's about the enjoyment of the listeners.  If they want to listen to Lady Freaking Gaga, that's their prerogative.  For someone to judge solely on the genre or popularity of the song/artist, it's not only snobbery, it's stupidity.

Again...get over it.  Go read a book.  Drink some java.  Get a tan.  Adopt a pet.  Watch the grass grow.  Whatever.  Just stop sneering at people for being "mindless lemmings" when you're taking a nosedive off the cliff yourself.

And that was my rant of the day.  Goodbye. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Whistle While You Work

After a wonderfully relaxing Christmas weekend, I'm back in the grind.  However, my brain is still on holiday, so I'm going to import an entry from my ol' Xanga blog.  Enjoy...or I eat you.

"Sci Fi Geek"

What does it mean to be a sci-fi geek?

I recently found out my cousin plays Magic: The Gathering.  After my initial reaction (of abject horror), I began to ask her questions.  Do you throw the cards at one another?  No.  Do you flick the cards, carefully aimed, at an object?  No.  Do you use the cards as a backstory for a boardgame?  No.  Do you wear capes and call each other names with apostrophes in them, like Ra'nok?  No.  Then what the HECK do you do with these flippin' cards??!?!?!

So began my foray into a world of absolute confusion, chaos, and geekdom.  And I began to wonder... how deep can you fall before you're labeled a sci-fi geek?

I adore Ender's Game...have watched "Bladerunner" twice...dream about owning a Tardis...listen to EscapePod on a daily basis... But I don't know a thing about Forrest J. Ackerman or the secret goings-on of a D&D game.  I don't understand their secret language, and am a bit afraid of their passion for all things Star Trek.  I don't know how Borgs assimilate, how Klingons mate, how Elves talk...

What I do know is...if it's a person's passion, and it's something he/she enjoys without harming others...then it's something that should escape our judgment.  Everyone's a geek in some way or another.  Fashion geek.  iPhone geek.  Celebrity geek.  Literary geek.  Baking geek.

If reading Ursula K. Le Guin and watching Tron makes me a sci-fi geek, then so be it.  It'll just be an augmentation of my Geeks List, of which I am very proud.

Still, the question remains...  What makes a sci-fi geek...and what the HECK do you do with those flippin' Magic cards???

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Goblin Market Project

Yay!  I finally finished my last assignment for my Intro Photoshop class.  I am now officially a post-beginner, pre-intermediate photoshop artiste!  Thank you, thank you.

The Concept:  A representation of the "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti.

For the unenlightened, the basic premise of the "Goblin Market" is that goblin merchant men tempt virtuous young maidens with luscious, ripe, and abundant fruit every morning and every evening. However, unbeknowest to the maidens, once they partake of the fruit, they can no longer hear the goblins' cries...and are doomed to pine and waste away from want.

The poem revolves around two sisters - Laura and Lizzie - who are representative of the duality of innocence and desire, strength and weakness, the virtuous lady and the fallen woman, the woman who abides by society's rules and the woman who breaks away from patriarchal suppression, etc.

The "Goblin Market" was quite scandalous for its time (19th Century), as many viewed the poem to be a thinly veiled analogy to sex:  "Then [she] suck'd their fruit globes fair or red: / Sweeter than honey from the rock, / [...] She suck'd and suck'd and suck'd the more / Fruits which that unknown orchard bore; / She suck'd until her lips were sore..."

The poem was also viewed as an analogous discussion of losing one's virginity.  

There are also analogies to the animalistic nature of those who partake of the fruit, the most glaring of which is Laura being likened to a swan (referencing Leda and the Swan), as well as the goblin men possessing the features or qualities of wild beasts.

(I selected Da Vinci's depiction of Leda and the Swan - it's classic and the most G-rated.  If you want the more risque illustrations, go here.  Don't say I didn't warn you.)

My Spin:  The subversive nature of the goblins, symbolized by the dichotomy between surface (land) and sub-surface (water).

Since I'm no professional artist, I couldn't really draw what I wanted.  I was forced to use images I found online, so please take a moment to respect the artists from whom I borrowed many, many beautiful works of art. 

This was my base image.  It's called the Time by Imperioli.  I loved the surreal creativity and serenity of this artwork.  Feeding off of this artist's creative energy, I decided to go with a three-paneled piece.

The left panel consists of the first four lines of the "Goblin Market".  The lines are haphazardly placed to represent the chaotic, down spiraling path of Laura's innocence.  The font is Lansdowne.

The right panel consists of the title of the poem.  I chose Daemonesque because its structure is rigid and fairly straightforward, but it's wrapped up in and decorated with (choked by?) luscious vines and flowers.  This integration of the straight and narrow with the chaotic is very Rossetti Goblinesque.

I added Christina Rossetti's initials in red to represent life force, i.e. the life force of any written work is the author, and the life force of the body is blood.  I also chose red to represent the temptation of the goblins' fruits, which promises life beyond the grayscale.  Further, I chose red to represent the violence of Laura and Lizzie's experience as well as the blood bond between the sisters, which ultimately saves Laura's life.  For the font, I used FantasticPete.

The middle panel consists of my work.  I borrowed images from many, many wonderful artists, including James C. Christensen.  I've incorporated clinging moss, gnome and elf prisoners, baskets of luscious fruit strewn about haphazardly (both inviting and dangerous), goblins hiding in the shadows (waiting for their victim), the temptation of the apple held by the lead goblin (yes, the lead goblin is from the movie, The Dark Crystal - those puppets always freaked me out), etc.

Against the backdrop of the ocean, I embedded an image of Lizzie being attacked by the goblins - it's a very faint but palpable foreshadowing of what's to come.  I also have the "real" Lizzie sitting in the boat, blissfully unaware that Laura is venturing into the underbelly of society to take part in very dark, forbidden deeds.

This post is already way too freaking long, so assuming you (dear reader) even made it this far, I won't go into the different themes of my work or Rossetti's poem.  I'll just leave you with the final product.

Here's hoping for an "A" in the class...?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Great Pacific Northwest

I survived rain, snow, and sleet this past weekend while visiting Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.  Hell, I thrived!  I love cold weather...and the Pacific Northwest suits me juuuust fine.

I didn't take many pictures, unfortunately, but here are some to commemorate my trip...

Pine smells so much better in real winter.

Frozen lake with trapped bubbles.  Nothing so lovely, folks.

Lake Hearst.  Frozen over.

I had to take a picture of this little sucker because it was clinging so tenaciously to the branch!

Lovely moss, lovely tree.

The cousins bundled up for the winter...and trying not to fall on their arses.  http://msnsmileys.net/y/smileys/Yolks/hope_my_fake_smile_works_again.png

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Minor Quibble

I'm not a Grammar Nazi, per se.  I frequently mangle the English language out of speed, exhaustion, convenience, artistic license, and brain-deadedness. Sometimes, I do it out of ignorance as well.  My apologies - I had a public education.  Zing.

What about University, you say?  That kinda learnin' will make you smart!  Case in point:

http://eehard.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/dunce-778614.jpg "Fool me once..."

Yes, a college education is very important.  You will learn many wonderful things you may never learn otherwise. However, is grammar one of them?

A common misconception people have about the English Literature major is that grammar is taught alongside the sacred words of Byron, Wordsworth, Austen, and Shakespeare.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Once you've entered the halls of high-brow English literature at the university level, professors assume you're grammatically proficient and never touch upon this technical area.  We are directed solely towards studying literary criticism, analysis, and interpretation.

http://www.funny-games.biz/images/pictures/753-old-professor.jpg  "This is English Lit 202.  Get your inks and nibs out, and spank me out a 200-page paper on the themes of gender and culture in Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman.  By the way, Shakespeare was gay and Byron loved his sister.  Any questions?"

Unfortunately, I've personally witnessed the error of this assumption.  Many of my fellow English Lit students were ignorant of simple grammar as well as the standard/accepted method of writing an essay (at the time, the English Lit department at my university was ranked third in the nation.  Scary, no?).
Therefore, I am not one of those folks who will blast you to hell, and resurrect you only to blast you again, if you make some grammatical mistakes.  (The pillaging, burning, and murdering of the English language by many evil Netizens, particularly our glorious "entitled" youth, however...I will save THAT for another day.)

Still, I do have a few quibbles, among which I must, must, must, must, must bring to attention:

Hanged v. Hung

My 7th grade English teacher actually hammered this little jewel into my head:  A person is hanged, a picture is hung.


http://media.canada.com/b17a5268-e809-4db2-a84b-06fc4c00d03e/m1x00222_hangingart.jpg Hung.

Throughout my years of reading books, magazines, newspapers, online news, blogs, and community forums, I have only witnessed a handful of people who made the correct distinction between "hanged" and "hung."

It's not a glaring error (unlike "their, there, they're" and "you're, your"), but it does make my tear ducts sting a little.  Just a little.

Therefore, please, if you have the (mis)fortune of running across this particular blog post, be sure to spread the word!


The Ogre of WayCennor Wood

This is a tribute to my old boss (AKA The Hall Monitor).

Now, I'm not a poet by any means; in fact, I suck at it. I've made grown men cry with my poetry - and not in a good way.  I don’t do iambic pentameter, couplets, sonnets, haikus, limericks. However, that doesn't mean I don't like to torture my readers (or Nettie, since she's the only one who reads this thing) every now and then. Read with caution...and try not to wince too much.  My ego can only take so much abuse.

Grog, The Underling Beast of WayCennor Wood

Listen closely, children, and listen well,
This be the cautionary story to tell,
Of a beastly ogre with features so foul,
His misshapen face elicits a terrified yowl.

Around the bend and over the hedge,
Pass the highway and your grandmother’s ledge,
Under the garbage and a hobo’s distaste,
Beyond the horizon and into sewage and waste,

There lies the deep forest of WayCennor Wood,
Dark and fetid with the stink of deprived childhood,
And within its deep bowels, a monster awaits
To cut you to ribbons and your pride to degrade,

Like discarded dough mulch, his face is malformed,
With a bulbous nose, and eyes quite transformed,
His gaze is beastly and lustful and raw,
And his teeth razor sharp in his big gaping maw,

He targets the small, their names he impugns,
With hamhock arms and the wit of buffoons,
With legs like tree trunks, he stumbles about,
To step on the innocent, the kind, and devout,

Grog is his name, and prideful is he,
Of the nest he has made, with a family of three,
On the backs of his charges, he gained his riches,
And riding a Porsche, towards douchebaggery he inches,

Under the guise of great might, he lays his attack,
But in the face of true power, he stumbles off track,
When faced with a foe greater than he,
He lays on his back and sells himself eagerly,

Grog the deformed ogre, a hated beast indeed,
A bully, a coward, and a veritable stinkweed,
When the earth turns over and the evil lay slain,
Grog the ogre will be writhing with pain,

For it never pays to be a pollution on earth,
Better for Grog to have passed in stillbirth,
For as long as he lives, he will be debased,
And never rise above being a pansy shirtwaist.

(If you ever read this...you know who you are, Grog!  You know!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Castle in the Air

As much as I enjoy trolling through soul-killing shopping malls of mammoth proportions, I am ultimately a patchwork girl.  I love things that are home/handmade.  In a twist of irony, one of technology's greatest feats - the internet (cough Google cough) - has allowed for a resurgence of the simple, the natural, and the anti-mass produced.

I have a bookmarks folder titled "Pretty Little Things" - Although I'm your worst nightmare when it comes to crafts, I have an almost unholy appreciation for it.  Crafts, cards, anything letter-pressed, illustrations, beautiful things, strange things, sad things, flappy happy things, and of course, very evil things. I love them all. 

Now, I don't want to showcase ALL of my favorite blogs, webpages, and online shoppes...because it'll never end.  Ever.  EVER.

Ever?  *URK!*

So...I'm going to introduce my all-time favorite (non-book) store on the planet:

My cousin took me to this little gem in Berkeley, California about four years ago.  I felt all manners of things upon walking in:  Childlike wonder, sense of truly coming home, immense greed, and grief over the fact that it doesn't exist in SoCal.

Most people are confused by the "type" of person I am.  Apparently, I'm a walking, talking labyrinth.  Some people think I'm an asexual robot, some think I'm a mercenary from hell, some think I'm a sarcastic uber feminist, some think I'm a librarian in a librarian's body living in a library.  If you're one of the lost...and you truly want to know who I am deep, deep inside...visit the website.  This store makes me weep with joy.

Oh...and folks, just because you don't live in the Berkeley area and can't visit Castle in the Air, don't despair!  They have an online shoppe and a blog!   Hurrah!  

P.s.  Yes, I am aware that "favorite" implies a choice of only one.  However, I like living on the edge - I sometimes take a stick and bash the English language black and blue. Why?  Because I love it so.