Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Listening: Massive Attack - Mezzanine (1998)

In 2000, Massive Attack's Mezzanine and Tricky's Maxinquaye were the CDs I used to break in my Winamp visualizations and 3D audio processors. Now I'm using Mezzanine and the Prodigy's The Fat of the Land to break in my new Blu-Ray player. Turns out that hearing it on the home theatre system in Dolby Surround is different from what I remember... I noticed how deliciously sinister every track except the two named "Exchange" (based on a pretty riff from an Isaac Hayes song their record company licensed from his) are. But undistracted by the visual pyrotechnics of G-Force, Geiss, and MilkDrop, I couldn't help notice how languid the whole thing is, except for the end of penultimate track "Group Four", which sneaks up on you. "Group Four" is also the one that shows the surround sound function of my Blu-Ray player and home theatre receiver to their best advantage. It turns out to have been one of the first albums to be available in MP3 format and one of the last of the sample era before the record companies cracked down mercilessly. As such, it's a relic of a lost age (without sounding dated) and yet a forerunner of our current digital music era.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Believe It Or Not, Summer's Actually Come To Seattle

A year or two ago, we were stuck with cold weather in Seattle. We called it "Juneuary". Well, it's the official first day of summer, and guess what? It's hot here. Even the rainy days will get up to the upper 60s for the rest of the month. That's a big improvement over "Juneuary". Even so, at least we on the West Coast don't have to deal with the 100°+ heat wave that's hitting the East Coast...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Watching: Prometheus

When I saw a couple of the trailers on YouTube a couple weeks ago, I knew this would be the movie my brother would be most likely to take me and Mom to see. And so it was. And so this is "the Space Jockey movie" (using the big guys' nickname from Alien; here they're called "Engineers"). I was warned (by online reviews, not my brother) that some people didn't like it. But I did, and I can see why it has a 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. My brother thought it was brilliant. I have different standards; I thought it was at least good enough, though not as brilliant as, say, Alien and Aliens. And even though I'd already read all the spoilers on the TV Tropes page, I still managed to find myself surprised by that last Space Jockey. There were a few predictable things. The guys who panic and flee being the first to die? Check. There were also some weak points, mostly involving characters carrying the "idiot ball" (there's a whole list on the TV Tropes Prometheus page under "Idiot Ball" At least Fifield and Milburn have an excuse (their panic robbed them of their reason). Weyland is similar in that he's a corporate "king" (the word is actually used, though not in any official sense) whose desire to defeat death overrides his reason. But Janek (the pilot) has no excuse but picks up the idiot ball anyway and runs with it. The unpredictable part involved Vickers, Shaw, and a certain director, but I won't spoil that one. There were some very clever reveals involving Vickers, Weyland, David (the android, whose nature this time is revealed almost immediately), the surviving Space Jockey, the nature of his Engineer faction's mission, and — the stinger at the end, right before the credits. I did notice they used the Alien Astronaut theory (as in Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin) as the movie's starting premise. Back to my opinion. I did enjoy it, enough that I plan to get the Blu-Ray to play on that 50+ inch TV I intend to get.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Drawing Again: Preparation

Yesterday I posted on my project blog that I've started drawing again. The long bout of writer's block I've suffered for the past 6 years has finally ended. There's a problem that comes with that, though. I'm drawing figures. I know little enough about drawing figures that I'm feeling really frustrated. Drawing heads and pretty faces is much, much easier for me, simply because I've practiced drawing them for so long (seven years, in fact, from 1999 to 2006). So back to the bookcase I go. I picked two books to learn from: Jack Hamm's Drawing the Head and Figure, and Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Figure Drawing. The first will help me with the "contrapposto" poses I'm trying to draw right now. The second will help me with action poses from all angles. Actually, I'm fairly good at what little I can draw. I think yesterday's two rough sketches of my character Shira's midsection and beautiful behind are quite good. It's what I don't know that's driving me back to the instruction books. And so the learning resumes. Meanwhile, I ought to start practicing drawing heads again to bring back all the skills I've learned over the years back to memory...