Friday, May 30, 2014

You Might be an Introvert if...'re terrified of talking on the phone! Well, I'm fine if somebody is calling me, but if I have call them and state the reasons it's like... brrrrr. Scary. Even worse when you have to call your orchestra conductor who has a really thick foreign accent! :D... :(
I was trying for some uh, fancy panel composition so um... yeah. Tell me how it worked out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Quick Guide to Manga Iconography

Heh heh, I love using smart sounding words like 'Iconography'. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make a little guide to all the various symbols that I use in my comics. Just in case anybody was wondering what those weird twisty red things were. ;) Oh, and please excuse the weird stains in the background. I took these pictures on a plastic table in the backyard, and there used to be a lot of rusty junk sitting on top of it, and some of the rust rubbed off on the table. :P

Here's all of them close up, just to make them easier to read.

I just now realized that some, if not most of these are bone-shatteringly

I... accidentally smudged the pink on her face. :P
 Hope you could read my handwriting. :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Corpse Bride Soundtrack by Danny Elfman [2005]

If I had to pick a favorite composer, I'd pick (after a lot of pacing and muttering) Danny Elfman. With Javier Navarrete, Yoko Shimomura, Michael Giacchino, and Murray Gold as very close runners-up.
(Not very good at staying on track, are I?) Anyhoo, Corpse Bride is kind of a hard movie to explain without sounding delisional, but it's basically this. A nervous young man goes out into the woods to practice his wedding vows. Jokingly, he slides his wedding ring onto the 'finger' of a dead bush, but turns out it wasn't a dead branch- but the skeleton arm of a dead woman killed on her wedding day. The dead woman rises from her grave and declares that they're now married. It's based on a Jewish folk tale, and is better than it sounds, trust me.
I fell in love with the soundtrack, and added it to the steadily growing list of musicals I like. Which is rather disturbingly long for somebody who professes to dislike musicals. Ahem. On with it.
Danny Elfman's music has a very sparkly, fantastical feel. I love his use of celesta, flute, and chorus especially. And he utilizes the string section to sound particularly 'spindly'. (You understand what I mean when I say 'spindly' sounding, right? If not, I'll try to be more wise in my choice of adjectives ;) I'm only going to describe the tracks that stand out to me, since Corpse Bride has a really long tracklisting. :P

1. Main Title
I love this track. The main theme pops up a lot in the soundtrack, and it might have turned out really repetitive *cough*christophebeck*cough* but I think that it worked very well here. The main theme is very melancholy and delicate sounding, and fits very well with the butterfly motif that is very prominent in the opening scene.
2. According To Plan
My siblings love this song. It ranks right up there with One Jump Ahead and Do You Hear the People Sing as a song that we like to sing at random times throughout the day. It's a pretty good song, though I wish it maybe had a verse with Victor and Victoria, instead of just their parents prancing around being haughty. But it serves it's purpose and establishes the plot nicely.
3. Victor's Piano Solo
Yay, the main theme again! This is a very beautiful arrangement of the main theme, but it ends rather suddenly with Victor exclaiming "Oh! Do forgive me!" Freaked me out the first time I listened. XD
4. Into The Forest
This track has some over-dramatic shrieking chorus towards the middle, but once you get past that bit it's quite haunting. I love the upbeat reprise of the main theme that appears in the first half, too.  Oh, and have I mentioned the use of organ/harpsichord? Because those instruments are used very well in this score, especially in this track.
5. Remains of the Day
Allright, Danny Elfman once again playing a singing skeleton. XD This song is really jazzy, and so catchy. I love the xylophone, it sounds kind of bone-ish. If that makes any sense? Anyway, this song explains the backstory for the Corpse Bride, and it does a good job of it.
6/7. Casting a Spell/Moon Dance
Listing these together because they're one of those pairs of tracks that segue into each other and are one piece of music even if they're separate tracks. Casting a Spell is a little ominous sounding, but not excessively so. And I just like Moon Dance because (a) that was a really gorgeous scene in the movie and (b) it has a flute solo and some cool choir stuff.
8. Victor's Deception
Not much to say on this one, but I really loved the little instrumental of Tears to Shed at the very end of the track. So I figured it was worth listing as a noteworthy track.
9. Tears to ShedThis track has singing in it, by Emily, A Spider Lady, and the Maggot that lives in Emily's head. It bounces between chipper and incredibly heartbreaking, and I love the contrast between The Spider and the Maggot's part, and then Emily's part in the song. The only thing is that the Maggot has a rather irritating voice.
10. The Piano Duet
I don't have a whole lot to say about this one, but it's a very lovely mashup of the melodies for Tears to Shed and The Main Theme.
18. Finale
... Yeah, I skipped a few. It's good music, but they don't stick out as much in my head. This song on the other hand almost makes my heart stop with how pretty it is. Especially at 1:25. And this still isn't the most beautiful track in the score (in my admittedly not so humble opinion)!
19. End Credits Part 1
This is the most beautiful track in the score, if you ask me. The Finale is a very close second, but this short song (Only 1:50) sends me into a dreamy stupor every single time. It's very melancholy and wistful, and for some reason it makes me think of a spider web with dewdrops on it. Am I weird? :P

The Verdict: A+
Three Favorites: End Credits Part 1, Finale, and... Remains of the Day? I can't decide!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

May God bless our fallen Troops in the land, sky, and sea.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Tale of Despereaux [2003]

Is it ridiculous for a very small, sickly, big eared mouse to fall in love with a beautiful human princess named Pea? The answer is... yes. Of course, it's ridiculous. Love is ridiculous. But love is also wonderful. And powerful. And Despereaux's love for the Princess Pea would prove, in time, to be all of these things: Powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous.
-Chapter Five: What Furlough Saw

You'll have to forgive me for being so sentimental about this book, because it's one of my favorite books. I love it so much that I willfully (and with great joy) ignore the age recommendation on the back of the book. Ages 7-12? Really? Why should children be the only ones to enjoy this story?
The Tale of Despereaux is about a tiny, sickly, big-eared mouse boy who falls desperately in love with a human princess. However, his actions (Instead of eating books, he reads them, for example) deeply disturb the other mice, and he is banished to the dungeons where he'll surely be devoured by rats.
I suppose that does sound a little childish, and it was very appealing to my ten-year-old self. But here's the thing. I've read Michael Crichton and Victor Hugo, and this book holds up very well next to those books. Because even though the premise is simple, this is a very intricate book. It's told in a non-linear fashion which is very interesting, and it's very deep.
Our hero, Despereaux knows his limits. He knows that he is tiny, he knows that he is sickly. At the beginning of the book, he faints as often as Lucie Manette at a courtroom trial. But he is gallant, and his devotion to the princess is what gives him his strength. Despereaux's faith is challenged, and he almost loses faith completely. And yet he keeps on going anyway. That is a really admirable show of character, at least to me. There's also Chiaroscuro, a rat from the dungeon who's love and yearning for the light leads to tragedy, and Miggery Sow, a simple serving girl who wants desperately to be a princess. All these characters have satisfying and complete story-arcs. The only one who I think is maybe a little flat is the princess Pea herself. She suffers from Cosette/Lucie syndrome. Her purpose as a character is to be the person who's presence drives the other character's actions. But even she has her flaws and moments of conflict.
The writing is quite good. It's very easy to read and understand, but it's not like reading a Little Golden Book or something like that. It's simple, but not condescendingly so. And there is so much quotable-ness. Okay, that isn't a word, but there are a lot of very interesting passages from the book that warrant mention, especially the one at the top of the post. Here are a few more.
Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.
-Chapter Three: Once Upon a Time
Farewell is a word that, in any language, is full of sorrow. It is a word that promises absolutely nothing.
-Chapter Twelve: Adieu
The dungeon, reader, stank. It stank of despair and suffering and hopelessness. Which is to say that the dungeon smelled of rats.
-Chapter Fourteen: Darkness
"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Start at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light."
-Chapter Fifteen: Light
Rats have a sense of humor. Rats, in fact, think that life is very funny. And they are right, reader. They are right.
-Chapter Sixteen: Blinded by the Light
There are those hearts, reader, that never mend again once they are broken. Or if they do mend, they heal themselves in a crooked and lopsided way, as if sewn together by a careless craftsman.
-Chapter Twenty-Two: He puts his heart together again
Reader, there is nothing sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name. Nothing.
-Chapter Fifty: In which the Princess says his name
The Verdict: A+
As you can see from the quotes above, this book isn't all sunshine and lollypops. There are sad things that happen, and dark things. I think it might be a little too much for some younger kids. But there's also a lot of light and forgiveness. It's definitely not your average fairy tale story. So for that reason, even though it doesn't look like much on the outside, I recommend this book. :)
Have I oversold my point or WHAT?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Kingdom Hearts [2002]

"The Heart may be weak, and sometimes it may even give in. But I've learned that deep down there's a light that never goes out!"

Here's the post where all of you automatically think less of me after reading. ;)
Anyhoo, Kingdom Hearts is a RPG [role-playing game] from Japan, made by the same people who develop those popular Final Fantasy games. Kingdom Hearts has become quite famous in gaming circles too, and also has an abominable amount of sequels. But today I'm just reviewing the first game, because it's arguably the best. (though I did really like KH2, and the prequel one. Haven't played the others though)
I suppose I should explain the plot a little bit. Kingdom Hearts (Or as it's known as in Japan: Kingudamu Hatsu) is sort of a Final Fantasy/Disney mash up, and should be disastrous, but isn't. Each Disney movie is a 'world', and all the worlds are separate from each other, but share the same sky (they all just look like stars to one and other). One of these worlds, Destiny Islands (silly name, lol) is where Sora and his two friends Riku and Kairi are plotting to make a raft and explore the vast ocean, looking for another one of these worlds that they've heard so much about. Then, the night before they were going to set sail, these strange shadow monsters called 'Heartless' attack, and destroy the world. Sora is flung to another world, and in the process gets ahold of some mystical weapon thing called a Keyblade. He teams up with Donald and Goofy, who are looking for the King of their world who went missing (guess who their king is), and they set off to rescue the worlds from the Heartless. In short, it makes about as much sense as your average episode of Lost.

That's the plot in a nutshell. It sounds quite ridiculous and silly, but it works surprisingly well and is a really fun game to play. The controls are easy to get the hang of (especially in the ps3 re-release), but it still requires lots of strategy and what not. It's by no means an easy game (which you might be led into thinking, due to the E rating), and actually gets infuriatingly difficult. I'm looking at you, Pooh's Swing mini-game! You're also able to swap out Donald or Goofy for a Disney character from the world you're in. For example, in Agrabah, you can team up with Aladdin if you want.

I love the world design in this game. Aside from the Disney worlds, there are original locations, like Destiny Islands, Traverse Town, and Hollow Bastion. They're well designed, and there's always a lot of detail to the scenery.

And before I get onto a verdict, I feel I should rant about the music. Because this game has beautiful music. Seriously. Even if you think video games are silly wastes of time, the music itself warrants a listen. I mean, just the menu music is enough to get me all nostalgic and misty-eyed... then after about five minutes of that my siblings get impatient and click something for me. And there's a very wide range of emotion in the music, it can be sentimental, eerie, haunting, cheerful, the whole ten miles. Of course, there's always the exception. The track that is just kind of silly and always makes me laugh is the background music for Atlantica (The Little Mermaid). It's an arrangement of Under the Sea, but it sounds like the dorky grocery-store version. If that makes any sense?

And something else that is a little irritating is that there are one or two instances of minor plot holes that could have been easily fixed with a line or two of dialogue, or additional exposition. Arguably it's not that bad, I mean, my brain filled in the bits that made no sense, but still. Your brain shouldn't have to fill stuff in.

The Verdict: A
Maybe I'm not being fair, since this game is something from when I was little that I really liked, and I have nice memories associated with it. But even without all that, I think I would like it. Kingdom Hearts has a decent plot, lovely music, and good characters. Kind of cheesy sometimes, but it's all very charming, if you get what I mean. It's a fun game that is never too easy, and overall, I recommend it. :)

Content Advisory: Nothing really bad. I just thought it would be a good idea since this is a game you know, and people have a lot of differing opinions on what's okay in a game and what's not. Pretty much the only enemies you fight are little monsters called heartless. There's no language, and nothing very suggestive. A few lady characters have skimpy outfits though, be forewarned.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I liked Jane Eyre, but in all seriousness, this part made me laugh so hard. I can only imagine what dear ol' St. John (someone else, not the Apostle) was thinking as that went down...
I tried to mess with the brightness on the dinky photo editor that came with the computer. How does it look? Not... dark or anything? Readable?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Some Sketches

 These are two comics that I didn't really think warranted their own posts. They didn't get coloring either, apparently. :P
First, the one that nobody but my Dad (and other fans of 70's Bands) will get.


When I was in Virginia I saw the live-action Charlotte's Web movie, and because I'm a terrible, terrible person...

Have a good weekend. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte [1847]

"If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends."
-Helen Burns

Jane Eyre is kind of what I think of when you say 'Gothic Romance Novel', though according to my mom (who knows way more about literature [and life in general] than I do) it doesn't exactly fit the Gothic Romance Novel criteria. However, it does have your unassuming orphan governess, your mysterious master of the house (:D), and dark secrets in the attic. So by my standards, it's a Gothic Romance Novel. And yes, Jane Eyre is a little (okay, really) melodramatic at times, and there was a bit towards the end that was so unintentionally funny that I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything at the time. But the stuff I liked about the book balanced out all the cheesiness. For one, the characters. You know a book has good characters when you can dislike a character but still know that they are well written. That's how I felt about a few characters in this book (Except for Helen Burns. I'm sorry, I have trouble sympathizing with a girl who's worst 'sin' was that she couldn't wash her face because the water was frozen.), especially Mr. Rochester, who I came to like later. My favorite character was of course, Jane Eyre herself. I thought she was a very witty and interesting narrator, and her character was awesome too. I mean, the girl has got a moral compass, and she is going to follow it no matter what. That. Is cool. I don't quite understand why she fell in love with Mr. Rochester, though. I suppose she could see that he wasn't a bad man, and stuff like that, but still. O.o
Even if the writing was sometimes over-dramatic, I thought for the most part it was really good! Of course, the dialogue is archaic, but most of it was quite realistic. I especially liked the dialogue between Jane and Mr. Rochester. They are obviously very much in love, but they aren't gooey lovers. No, they're both very candid and honest with each other, and that makes the gooey stuff they do say seem all the more sincere. Of course, it's not all romance. There's also plenty of suspense, and a lot of spiritual-Christian-y stuff. I like the way the Christian themes were handled in this book. You've got your strict, Pharisee types, like Mr. Brocklehurst, and St. John Rivers (Pronounced: 'Sinjin', but I call him 'Slimjim'), and then you have people like Helen Burns who are the model of who a good Christian should act. Well, I don't think it would be sinful to stand up for yourself a little, but you can see how Helen 'saved' Jane from a bitterness that was growing inside her as a child. So Helen is kind of like Bishop Myriel from Les Miserables. They're both only in the story for a little bit, but they create a positive, life-long change in the hero.

The Verdict: B+
So, despite the fact that James from Orchestra advised me to stop reading this book and burn it because 'nothing happens', I found Jane Eyre a pretty good read. It's moderately paced, well-written (massive coincidences and goofiness aside), with interesting characters to boot! It's not one of my favorite books, but I certainly liked it, and look forward to reading it again. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tale of Two Cities Time Travel Theory (Or: Nonsense!)

So...! How do I explain this? Well, me and my sister are reading A Tale of Two Cities, and we've reached the part where Charles Darnay is on trial, and then Sydney shows up and everybody gets confused. My sister jokingly said "I didn't know Charles could time-travel!"
So the following atrocity was drawn. Proceed with caution. Extreme goofiness lies herein.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Emma by Jane Austen [1815]

I like the chipper expression on the
girl's face, but what's with the
 random dog?
I started reading this back in November, but my school reading got so overwhelming that I had to drop it for a while. But luckily, a few months later I tracked down my copy of it and started anew. And omigosh, it is a brilliant book. When I was younger (get your pitchforks and torches ready, well-read people of the earth) I thought Jane Austen was synonymous with sappy romances dripping with love-y goo. Of course, I couldn't have been further from the truth because Emma is probably the best executed romance novel I've ever read! Not like I've read that many romance novels, but this one was really good. Emma is a character I really connected to (especially in that we both sometimes need to be taken down a notch or two) and I find it funny that in any other story she would be the bratty rich girl. Yeah, the book says that the worst evil of her circumstances is that the always got her way, but if you think Emma is a spoiled twit, just wait until a certain Augusta Hawkins enters the scene. Ugh.
The characters are very believable and vivid. I've read some books where you know the main characters, but keep losing track of the others. I loved Bleak House, but I kept having to backtrack and review some of the supporting characters. But in Emma I knew who everyone was, and it even felt like I was actually at Hartfield. Not only the characters were familiar and real, so were the settings.
Emma is one of my favorite literary characters now, and despite her faults and troublesome meddling, she is a genuinely good person. All in all she's a very well-rounded character and I found her development through the story quite engaging. I also really liked Mr. Knightley, he's a gallant man, but he doesn't sugar-coat things, or hesitate to put his opinion on the table just because it might be offensive to somebody. He says exactly what he thinks, and stands by his position.
Other characters I really liked were Mr. Woodhouse, Poor Miss Taylor, and I actually came to like Jane Fairfax. All the characters were well-rounded, even the talkative bore Miss Bates has a moment or two of depth.
It wasn't completely flawless. There's no plot holes or anything like that, I just thought that the romantic complications got a little crazy at the end. Emma thought Harriet was in love with Frank Churchill! But she was actually in love with Mr. Knightely! Emma realizes she is in love with Mr. Knightley! All is lost! Oh wait, Mr. Robert Martin is still in love with Harriet, and turns out Mr. Knightley loves Emma. Looks like everyone is happily paired off!
It's not that bad though, and it wasn't one of those book situations that made me roll my eyes. No, the only times I rolled my eyes was when Mr. Elton was being an old married jerk, or Frank Churchill was being a flake. And that had nothing to do with the quality of the plot, it's just because those guys were being frustrating. :)

The Verdict: A+
Witty, interesting, and heartfelt, Emma quickly zipped near the top of my favorite book list. I suppose it's not perfect, I mean, nothing is truly perfect, but so far as a good read goes, it was perfecto. So yeah! I suppose I could have just reduced this post to one word and that word would be HUZZAH!!
Stay frosty, my friends!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Gravity OST (Composed by Steven Price) [2013]

[bangs gavel] First order of business! Does anybody actually like it when I review soundtracks? I mean, even if everyone says "NO STOP IN THE NAME OF HEAVEN!" I'm still going to do it, because it's what I like to do. ;)
Second order of business, we went to the Jefferson Memorial (I was the only one who got that exited about it though, XD) and got some cool pictures, maybe I'll put those up tomorrow. But right now I'm tired, so I'm going with a post I actually wrote last week but forgot.
Third order of business, It's my name day! Ring out the bells, haha.
Yay, Gravity! I saw this movie back in... pssssshhhhh, February I think? At heart it's a popcorn action movie, but it's a very deep action movie, and the cinematography was amazing! But I'll save all my gushy praise for an actual review of the movie, since I'm obviously just here to ramble about the soundtrack. :)
I don't think I've heard a soundtrack that's like this one. It's got kind of your typical action-movie sort of sound, but- dare I say it?- it has a lot more emotional depth. And the score is perfectly fitted to the setting of the movie. Some of the tracks end all abruptly, almost like the sound was sucked right out of your ears. It's very evocative of the movie's atmosphere. Or lack thereof. There are also some really astounding vocals, especially in the final track. Wow. That lady must be the queen of chest-voice land.
I suppose this music isn't to everyone's tastes. A lot of the tracks are very ambient, and the general tone of the music might be a little boring to some people. I'll review my favorite tracks now. :)

2. Debris
This one's got that sense of impending doom thing going quite well for the first half. Then it goes pretty berserker. I like the metally-sound that the music has in the second half, it makes me think of that song from the Dark Knight Rises, Rise.

11. Aurora Borealis
If you listen carefully, this one is a very quiet reprise of the song that plays at the very end of the movie. Okay, it's not a reprise if it came first, but I listened to them in that order. :P Anyhoo, it's a very different piece from the aforementioned 'Debris', so I thought it would be fun to put on here.

15. Shenzou
Omigosh, this was the part of the movie that made me teary eyed. Yes, I (almost) cried at Gravity. So ashamed... XD In all seriousness, this track is quite intense and all that jazz. I think it might be my favorite track, but I'm not sure. It is very fun to listen to this one with headphones and turn the volume really high. It's even more fun to do that in the car while you're going somewhere totally casual! :D "Omigosh! The grocery store! Prepare for crash landing, AAAHHHH!!!"

16. Gravity
After careful consideration, I have decided that this one is my favorite track. But just barely! Just barely. I really love the transition from extremely quiet to blazing triumph. Well, maybe not triumph, that's actually a really lousy word to describe it. But there is a transition from quiet to BOOM! Not 'boom' in a blasty-Hans-Zimmer-Sense, but... yaaargh, you know what I mean. It gives me goosebumps though, and I love a song that can do that. (or maybe I'm just cold because I'm sitting on the floor XD).

The Verdict: A
Not all the tracks are the same level of utter awesomeness, but the above-listed ones (along with a few that I was too lazy to write about) are the total showstoppers. I'd better bounce, these soundtrack reviews are usually pretty terrible. :P

Friday, May 2, 2014

Of Ice Cream, The Hobbit, and Bossy Fangirls

Hello random people who found this blog while searching for something else! So, right now I'm
chillin' with my friend, who lives in an undisclosed location on the East Coast. Man, was that a long plane ride, I'm tellin' ya.
Anyway, my friend (hereafter referred to as 'Ice Cream'. Don't ask me XD) is a mega LOTR fan (... I think. Help me out here, dude), I assume that because she knows way more about LOTR than I do. So Ice Cream is joining me today to discuss what should (and shouldn't happen!) in the third and hopefully final Hobbit movie. Let us begin!
All those with asterisks on them are Ice Cream's idea.

- Gandalf needs to NOT be rescued by the Eagles from the Necromancer.*
- Bard is the one who kills Smaug. Not Bilbo, not Bard's Emo-Muffin son, not Tauriel, not Legolas' digitally enhanced face, Gandalf, or Gollum. Or Thorin. It must be Bard. I bring this up because Desolation of Smaug seemed to be leading up to the son killing Smaug, which is not cool.
- Either Tauriel or Kili needs to die. To put a better end to their 'romance'. *
- Beorn needs to be in the battle of the five armies. Because that's how it is in the book. And Beorn needs more screen time.*
- Oh, and while we're on the Battle of the Five Armies? Please keep it the Battle of just Five Armies. I know how your brain works, Mr. Jackson, and I know that it must be a giant temptation to add the Rohan, or Rangers, but please. Just Five.
- Um, Ice Cream says that Peter Jackson must make a public apology to everyone who truly loves Lord of the Rings for all the screw-ups he made. XD *
- Please don't try to wedge Gollum into the third movie.
- Thorin needs to die like he does in the book. So do Fili and Kili.*
- No more cutting out or compressing the good parts from the book to make room for Fan-Fiction that made it into the writer's room!
- I know that this post is starting to get demanding and bratty sounding, but c'mon. Let's use some of the gigantic budget for some actual SETS. And no, greenscreens do not count as sets. I guess what I mean is Less CGI, More Props.
- One last thing. I remember a quote from some guy about how you shouldn't crack jokes you wouldn't want your mom to hear. Well, don't add anything that you wouldn't want Tolkien to see.

...So, yeah! Please note that this is all in good fun, and we aren't out to offend anybody (especially Peter Jackson. Because we know that if we make him mad he'll make the third Hobbit movie be lousy on purpose ;)