ellenmillion: (Default)
The tarot expo was really fun and inspiring. I have used it to kickstart my muse on the Sketch Tarot project I started a gazillion years ago, and used THAT to kickstart a workup of new rewards at my Patreon - there is now a $3 level that includes a sketch tarot file every month. And a $4 level that includes another extra coloring page every month. And there are higher levels that you'll have to click that link to see... *whistles innocently*

Today was a crazy day. I ordered lumber to complete the woodshed, and they surprised me by saying they could deliver it tomorrow. Which meant I needed to get some bags of gravel to level the pad for the steps. And I got new propane for the grill, and I took a flat tire in to get repaired (for free!), and I bought dog food and got replacement parts for a broken lamp and went to the post office and got water and wrote about a thousand words and added an epilogue to my not-a-book. I even spread out some of the gravel, though I had to stop before it was finished because that's hard work and I had to go to bellydance practice.

*lies on the floor*

Here's the last of the pieces I did for my feature in Color On! Magazine:



Now I'm going to go to bed and sleep the sleep of the just. Or the just tired, anyway.

Bunny and Briers

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:42 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Bunny_2


Adult now, the audacity and flippancy of youth left behind, he stared at the unfathomable vastness stretched before him – of land, of time, of thought, and of choices yet unmade – and remembered those he’d lost to time, missing his dear old brier-patch.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Walkway

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:53 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Walkway_1


Since the drought broke in southern California, they’ve had to add fences to keep the plants from taking over the roadways.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Goose

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:23 am[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Geese_7


The left wing isn’t unified, rife with contrasting opinions and textured nuance covering the entire span from the center to the far fringes. Yes, there is some darkness, but if you look, you can find some light.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
ellenmillion: (Default)
I have book hangover, so bad. I finished the not-a-book (my fourth!) late Wednesday night, not dragging into bed until about midnight.

Yesterday, I was too busy to really process it, and too tired. Guppy got me up at 3 in the morning, though she went right back to sleep. That, with the late night, meant I was pretty wiped. And then we put the roof on the woodshed! It is an actual woodshed, with a roof! After a day of blistering heat, it was obliging enough to rain last night, and we went out and stood in our perfectly dry (if wall-less, still) woodshed. Horrah!

Today, however, I wandered around staring at things a lot, feeling vaguely overwhelmed and more than a little lost. The book... is done? It's... done? Wait, what? Professional writers may laugh. There are a billion things to do, not the least of which is start the next book, but I'm mostly just finding myself wanting to lie down on the floor and watch dust settle, or binge-watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or something.

And there's Sketch Fest today! https://www.ellenmilliongraphics.com/sketchfest/

I haven't done anything for it yet, but I hope to tonight.

I'm a featured artist at a Tarot Expo tomorrow, which is fun! I am going to be bringing art supplies and offering $15 on-the-spot commissions for personal tarot ACEOs. Just rough sketches, color or pencil. We'll see how it goes. Locals, I'll be at the Coop Plaza, 12-4, at Woven Sylver. They are going to have tarot readers and demos and workshops from 10-5. (And probably cookies, but don't quote me.)

It's taken me HOURS to write this, so here's some more new art, and I'm going to go eat chocolate and pour a stiff drink. BOOK DONE. BRAIN GONE.


Another of the exclusive pieces for Color On! Magazine.

Kellet's Whelk

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:01 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Kellet's Whelk


I posted this on Facebook a while ago, but I’m re-posting here so everyone can see it.


This is one of the coolest exhibits I’ve seen in quite a while. What you’re seeing is a lucite box with whelks on the top and a piece of fish screwed to the bottom. The whelks are adapted to live on the rocky ocean floor, and send their long flexible mouth things down in between the rocks to feast on whatever things they can scavenge. In this exhibit, you get to see a behavior that is extremely interesting and that, gives you a very different understanding seeing it than reading about it.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Scaly Tube Snail

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:01 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Scaly Tube Snail_1


I hadn’t heard of these guys before, so I looked them up.


Apparently you can’t really find them in subway systems.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

separate hobbies

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:47 pm[personal profile] mizkit
mizkit: (Default)

I saw a thing yesterday that said “Buying fabric and sewing fabric are TWO SEPARATE HOBBIES.”

I actually feel that I understand so much more about the world now.

I’m now up to 6 artist’s figurines (I need to write more reviews) and I was unable (or unwilling) to resist a set of 14 archival color pens, plus all the stuff I already own, but do I actually draw? No, hardly ever. (That said, I’ve done more this year than in many years.)

Anyway, point is I’m back to that “I want to draw some silly little story like Questionable Content only about, IDK, fat 40somethings instead of hipster robots” thing. Except I really don’t want to draw a story about fat 40somethings because ugh life. I want to do something cute and funny that I don’t have the skill set for but who cares I’ll do it anyway because it doesn’t matter. Or something. And I want just enough pressure to help me do maybe half an hour of art a day without having any real expectations.

Which of course is not much like my personality at all, because yes, I have met me. :p

Moop.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Two-spot Octopus

Jul. 21st, 2017 02:00 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Two-spot Octopus_5


I got a paint-by-numbers book of octopuses once. That was a confusing day.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
jemck: rune logo from The Thief's Gamble (Default)
And so we come to War for the Planet of the Apes, the latest in what now seems to be an ongoing series of films rather than merely a trilogy. We see where events since the last movie have led us, as man’s arrogance encompasses his own downfall. Will the unexpected consequences of bio-technology offer other primates a chance at the top slot?

Technologically, the film is a tour de force. What motion capture and CGI can do is astonishing – you really cannot see where reality stops and special effects start. So far, so increasingly common these days. But great special effects are not enough, as rather too many movies fail to realise. A film like this must also have sufficiently strong central performances to make it a drama, not merely a spectacle. Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson deliver absolutely what’s needed. The dynamic between Caesar, leader of the apes, and Colonel McCullough, commanding an embattled remnant of humanity, is tense and compelling from start to finish.

Mankind’s inhumanity to man is front and centre, compared and contrasting with the apes’ mutually supportive culture. All Caesar and his kind want is to be left alone. Colonel McCullough needs an enemy to fight though, and unable to attack the virus that’s been humanity’s downfall, finds the scapegoats he needs in the apes.

As a war film, the movie wears its influences unashamedly on its sleeve, most obviously, though not exclusively films exploring the Vietnam War. It can absolutely and legitimately be called Ape-ocalypse Now. This is not merely retreading those footsteps though. Such echoes, and other references such as the slang names for servile apes, serve to tie this dystopian future to our own reality. There’s also the inescapable fact that the Vietnam War proved the hollowness of the American doctrine of ‘peace through superior firepower’. That undercurrent continually runs beneath our viewing of events where armed men seem to have an inescapable whip hand over apes with severely limited abilities to fight back. Beware assumptions.

Issues of gender in this movie are more complex than they might first appear, certainly as far as I am concerned. I’m using words like ‘man’ and ‘him’ advisedly because this is very male-gaze apocalypse. Not however, one where masculinity-under-threat-in-this-modern-liberal-world can finally come good, with its guns and its manly men taking charge of helpless women and children to save the day.

This is a story about the dead-end destructiveness of arrogant white male masculinity so used to solving everything with aggression that it's incapable of thinking outside that self-defeating box. That influences my response to the widespread online comment about the complete absence of female voices in the dialogue (apart from possibly one female soldier’s scream?) The one significant human female role is mute and childlike in the most literal sense, and while a couple of female apes have things to say, they do so through sign language. Could one view the lack of female voices as a feature rather than a bug, if one were prepared to squint a bit...? Then there’s the almost-gender-neutral appearance of the apes apart from the females’ apparent (and to my mind inexplicable) inclination to unflattering central partings and rustic ear decoration. I think there’s more to be discussed about the absence of female characters here than might be first apparent. Is that very absence what permits masculinity to turn so toxic?

Not that this excuses the use of perhaps the laziest motivate-your-male-protagonist cliche in the first act of the movie. There are other script-writing choices I can quibble with, most notably some utterly bone-headed human tactics as the film rushes to its conclusion.

A fourth movie is reportedly under discussion, or development, depending on what you read. I’ll be very interested to see it, provided that the writers can offer something more than man and ape in conflict. These films have done that, and done it well, but the story needs to move on. In my head at least, there must be other corners of this world where the post-apocalypse is working out differently, with male and female voices contributing equally to co-operation rather than conflict. I’d like to see how that’s working out, given so many challenges will still remain to drive a story.
jemck: rune logo from The Thief's Gamble (Default)
After the holiday-and-other-stuff hiatus, here's where you can find the opening chapter of Southern Fire, Book 1 of The Aldabreshin Compass.
I've mentioned before that I am always determined not to rewrite the last book each time I start a new one. This time round, I was absolutely determined to write a very different series.

Meet Daish Kheda, absolute ruler and warlord, unquestioned master of all he surveys. Of course that means when trouble arrives, absolutely everyone is looking back at him, expecting him to have all the answers. That's a problem when the trouble that's turned up is invaders backed by violent sorcery, and all Aldabreshin law and custom bans magic on pain of death...



Southern Fire - Artwork by Ben Baldwin

Automation

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:37 pm[syndicated profile] questionable_content_feed




Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.

Alice Grove is finished. I'm going to take some time to just do QC for a while and then start another side project sometime in the fall. Patreon subscribers will get sneak peeks, advance previews, and other stuff as it develops. Thank you for reading my comics.

Nudibranch

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:01 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Lion Nudibranch_5


The wikipedia page for the nudibranch boasts the only occurrence of the phrase “Apparent production of sound” on the entire site.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Acorn Barnacle

Jul. 20th, 2017 06:00 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Giant Acorn Barnacle


In case you ever wondered what was inside a barnacle.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Blue Morpho

Jul. 20th, 2017 02:01 pm[personal profile] guppiecat
guppiecat: (Default)

Butterfly_6


In reading about these guys, I learned that, like all* butterflies, it can’t chew so it has to suck fluids from through it’s proboscis. Unlike most butterflies, this one lives off of “rotting or fermenting fruit.”


That means you’re looking at a photo of a carrion eater.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
jemck: rune logo from The Thief's Gamble (Default)
Spiderman: Homecoming continues to build on, and expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While, and oh, thank heavens, it’s not another Spiderman origin story retread, it does an excellent job of refocusing the character on its original appeal at the same time as updating and integrating the High School Hero into the modern day. As a decades-long fan of the comic, I’m thrilled to see a young, nerdy Peter Parker, while also very much appreciating a younger, more modern, far more relatable Aunt May rather than a grey-haired granny stereotype.

With its smaller scale and 80s-teen-movie vibe, the film is in many ways lighter in tone than other recent and forthcoming MCU movies. A story feels much less oppressive when the oncoming disaster is humiliation at a teenage party rather than global annihilation by aliens or android armies. On the other hand, that tighter focus and scenario simultaneously makes this story far more personal. We can empathise far more readily with the reality of that situation whereas we could only ever be onlookers in need of rescue from Ultron or the Chitauri. When a shop which Peter regularly visits, where we know he chats with the owner, becomes collateral damage - that has an emotional impact which can sometimes be lacking in the CGI-spectacular destruction of faceless hordes.

I also like the way that Peter’s school and classmates are portrayed. He’s attending a specialist science and technology school, where being intelligent is the norm, not a reason for ridicule. Yes, he has a bullying nemesis, in keeping with the High School vibe, but that lad doesn’t mock Peter’s brains, rather he’s jealous of his place on the Academic Decathlon team. Yes, there’s a roly-poly, nerdy sidekick, but he’s extremely bright and capable when it comes to playing his own vital role in the plot. Success in the Academic Decathlon is presented as a worthwhile victory to strive for. All of which might be merely worthy if it wasn’t for the presence of Tony Stark. We all know Tony’s off-the-scale-brilliant but one thing his involvement in these events highlights is the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Tony doesn’t listen, he’s arrogant, and he shrugs off what doesn’t interest him. That sets the tone that his employees adopt. It’s Peter who learns the lessons that result from the consequences of Tony’s mistakes – as well as his own teenage missteps, of course.

Michael Keaton is a stellar villain whose coherent motivation is so much more convincing and complex than mere motiveless malignity. Beneath the patent injustice and/or callousness that sparks his initial grievance, there are also a good few questions posed about the roles of big business and government and what happens to ordinary people when politicians and billionaires organise the world to suit themselves. With great power, comes great responsibility. Someone should remind them of that. Which is not to say Adrian Toombs is some misunderstood and wronged individual who warrants our sympathy. He has made his own choices, consciously and deliberately for years now, and as we see, is utterly ruthless in pursuit of his goals. We can believe that Peter is in very real danger, thanks to Michael Keaton’s performance and the personal nature of their conflict.

So far, so good, however ... there’s still no getting away from the most abiding and persistent problem of superhero movies based on characters with a decades-long back story. Yes, I mean the roles for women, drawn from source material written when very different cultural archetypes went unquestioned. Once again, the girls are peripheral to the male-focused action, only present in the stereotypical roles of objects of desire, domestic helpmeets and damsels in distress. The writers and actors make heroic efforts to lift the female characters above such clichés but even with the appearance of Mary Beth Lacey, apparent now working for Homeland Security or some such, there’s only so much they can do here. I can only hope that the hints of more and better to come in the next movie are fulfilled, from Michelle in particular – as long as they can do that without mangling the essence of the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman whom we know and love. I’ve had quite enough of that sort of thing with DC turning Superman supposedly dark and edgy and in the process erasing so much of his core character.

Oh hey, how about some more female-led superhero movies? That would work to elevate women and to offer girls their own role models, without eradicating the men. How about we stop looking at this as a zero sum game?

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C.E. Murphy

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