For many, Easter is a religious day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Church activity is heightened among some denominations, and families connect. A heartened feast often results.
Happiness is spread, and celebrations connect with later traditions not religious. In many places, this will involve bunny rabbits and decorated eggs. Children laugh and cheer, and usually encouraged to go outside and play.
Also on this day, there are public holidays, bonfires, butter lambs, and other cheerful activity. There is plenty good fun for everyone, I think.
Meanwhile, I am having fun while thumbing through some pictures I snapped from the recent 2013 Sakura Con, an annual Japanese animation festival held in Seattle. Time will wait for me to properly edit, upload and share these pics. Above is an appropriate bunny pic for today, and a preview of what’s coming from my blog.
And below is another exclusive sneak peek. Look forward to the rest!
Far north within California’s great redwood lands, you may encounter a wonderful, unique collection of strange trees.
The Trees of Mystery.
These are redwoods, collectively located on a hiking path off the 101 freeway in Klamath, California. The path is guarded by a massive 49-foot color statue of Paul Bunyan and his possible anatomically incorrect ox, Babe. More on that big guy, in a future post.
The Trees of Mystery is a packaged tourist destination; all accompanied by a Native American museum, a sky lift leading to a large platform high above, a collection of sculpted folk tale statues, and more.
For my visit, I found these odd trees in highest interest. How this strange lot grew together over the many years, is an interesting coincidence. The trail itself was short, but revealing. I took some pictures. Below are the most popular of the bunch. You will also find some added notes, visible below when you individually click on each.
For more information on the Trees of Mystery, click here.
A great and wonderful film made its debut. A thriller, being a masterpiece of horror, suspense. This film was directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and will never be forgotten. This film is also a personal favorite of mine.
The Birds, broke out and terrified audiences everywhere.The brilliant editing, silent lack of musical score, vicious special effects, and overall paranoid tones developed fear, excitement. The story itself, demanded questions. Why are these birds attacking? Will they stop? Is this a sign of the Apocalypse? Can our star players in this drama escape? Can we escape?
Imagine being among the first to witness The Birds in its opening days on the big screen. I could imagine, and emotional tension to be stronger than my first viewing. I shivered in my childhood watching this, curious about the idea while after putting down my TV guide. I felt uneasy about birds for a while. Outside my apartment in San Francisco, I was often startled, excited when many birds gathered usually for bread crumbs in the park. After seeing this film, I believed they could attack or kill me. I still do, as anything could happen in our interesting days.
So today, I learned of its 50th anniversary and did some browsing. I found these fun promos on Youtube, shared below. Enjoy!
In continuation of yesterday’s posting, the rest of my 2013 Emerald City Comic Con pictures are now posted on my friend’s blog, All Day Comics!
For this second half, it’s all for the love of cosplay, or the act of dressing up in some costume, usually based on a fictional property. Often at these conventions, many attendees will dress up as their favorite characters from books, comics, movies, games, etc. They usually do this for fun, and to express their current or nostalgic “geek” obsessions. Here are a few extra notes and observations on the nature of this wonderful culture:
Often, the costumes are hand-made. Some are sewn together, and/or made from gathered materials. The more work and details that go into a costume, the more appreciation is given. Also, using body or face paint accentuates a certain boldness in presentation of character choice.
Crossplay is a rising trend in cosplay convention visibility. This is the style of taking a familiar character and flipping the gender. This is usually done by females, in using their natural body shape and costume alteration to make that provacative switch.
Often, a measure of popularity can be attributed to the frequency of cosplay choice. For example, Doctor Who exploded in popularity since its revival eight years ago, so expect to find many Doctors running around, wielding their Sonic Screwdrivers.(an easy costume). Star Wars is still very strong, so expect to find many Jedis, Stormtroopers at these gatherings. The recent Avengers movie (and related individual character movies) raised the presence of Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury at recent conventions. Rising the fastest are characters from the popular animated Cartoon Network series, Adventure Time.
The best-loved and most memorable costumes (for me, at least) are those of obscurity and lesser known. Sure, we all know our Batmans, Jokers, Spideys, Vaders, Spartans, Mario Brothers, etc. But who among us can spot the Ambush Bug, Castle Crasher, Trap Jaw, Radia, Duffman, and others not well-known? To identify, often puts a smile on the face of those making the obscure effort. And if not, ask who is that character. This could be your next obsession, or perhaps opening the mind to something new and exciting. For example, a conversation I had with a lady dressed up as a character exclusive to an obscure Tron video game. She had me far more curious about the expanded Tron world, beyond the otherwise limited movies. My later online searches also stretched my love for hardcore science fiction, just a little more.
Some costumes are recognizable by their style. Some are adorned in steampunk fashion, others in medieval garb, a few in heavy military gear. Often, the participants are part of a club or a scheduled gathering of similar attire. Many are also into live action role-playing or LARPing.
I could go on with these notes, but another day or perhaps the next convention to share on. For now, I leave behind a couple more enticing samples of my larger picture set for the All Day Comics blog. For the rest of my wonderful ECCC pics (and footnotes), please click here..
Love comics and alternative pop culture? Or never been to a comics convention and curious? I, being the “geek” connoisseur and attender of many gathering of this nature, snapped pictures at the 2013 Emerald City Comic Convention in Seattle. For this show, I focusing more on the people (creators, cosplayers) who make them wonderful, and their wonderful products. Part 1 of 2 (focusing more on the creative talent and exhibit floor fun) are now posted on my friend’s comics blog, All Day Comics.
Here, are a couple more samples. For the rest with footnotes, click here.
Today, I share one my favorite pictures, taken by me. Bear in mind, I am no professional at photography, but I love doing it.
Alexander’s Castle, during a rising full moon on a winter’s night, some years ago:
The location is in the northwest United States, within the State of Washington, far north of Seattle, on the northwest side of Puget Sound on a peninsula, very near to the small town of Port Townsend. The surrounding area is Fort Worden, a state park and former US military station.
“According to the legend, Reverend John Alexander built the castle for a prospective Scottish bride in a style reminiscent of his native country. In 1883, he acquired 10 acres of land near Point Wilson and constructed the building known as Alexander’s Castle. Alexander intended the building to serve as a home for him and his bride. Traveling to Scotland to get his bride, Alexander found that his bride-to-be had married another. He returned to Port Townsend alone and used the building as a temporary residence. During the park’s Army days, the castle was used for a number of purposes including serving as the first site of the Post Exchange and for many years housed the tailor shop.”
For me, it was just a night walk during my three-week stay at a nearby hostel (now closed). I was experimenting with my newly acquired Canon Rebel T1i DSLR, taking advantage of the surrounding lights for exposure. I was hoping to get a better shot of the moon in the background, but knew too little. I tried, a lot. I don’t recall the ISO settings, exposure time, etc., but I did some very heavy experimenting. I must have taken at 30-50 pictures (with no tripod), trying different camera settings. With this picture that turned out best, I used a little Photoshop to remove the noise. Later, I appreciated my overall effort and this particular moody result.
Fort Worden and its surroundings are amazing, with much to offer for travelers and adventurists. I will detail more on this area in a future write-up.
Look around and down over the piers of the Monterey Bay, California, especially next to the London Bridge Pub at its second Municipal Wharf. You will likely find swarms of jellyfish among the boats.
Some years ago, I took these pictures (more below). I’m still astounded and felt the need to share them. Jellyfish are strange, interesting creatures. They are classified as plankton, not fish. They have existed on this earth long before humans and dinosaurs. They can reproduce sexually, and asexually. They have no brains, respiratory systems. or central nervous systems. They live through a network of connected nerves, and are commonly composed of at least 90% water.
To find them in swarms so close to civilization is surreal. I just walked around one quiet morning. Surprise, everywhere.
I’m not sure on the further details on what kind these are. I think these are commonly known as sea nettle jellyfish. They sting humans, paralyze smaller creatures. You can find these, among other types of Jellyfish at the nearby Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Recently, the official international poster for the upcoming movie, Star Trek: Into Darkness became a happening thing. This is now everywhere, awaiting our gawks, to explore strange new wallets. I feel compelled to take part, so here we go:
I look at this, and I am reassured…
Don’t fuck with Star Trek.
Star Trek will come at you with guns, explosions, Matrix fashion sense. No more of that space exploration crap. Now It’s Die Hard .. on our planet, in the future. This is not your grandpa’s Star Trek. It may be your daddy’s Star Trek because that did have some action, explosions, cheesy villains on the big screen. However, this new presentation is bigger, wider directed, more smoke.
Also it seems, no more hailing frequencies crap for Uhura. She is now very serious with a gun. Also present is Spock, looking very logical while in inappropriate pose, with a gun. Kirk is also concerned, with a gun. We got the Sherlock guy as some badass, evil space terrorist. The ground is exploding, that’s not good. Where’s McCoy, my favorite crew member? He’s probably elsewhere, growling about his ex-wife, bones or something. I look forward to all of this, in 3-D.
Seriously, I am. I love action movies. I love science fiction. I love science fiction with action. This is one of many expectations delivered, but with a familiar franchise attached. It’s just sad, Star Trek won’t hang around for more fresh questions and intellectual dilemmas, as we explore the possible extent of our human destiny.
Star Trek is too busy for that now.
Look at this new International trailer. Hear the ominous horn repetitions. The situation is indeed, most dire. I think old Spock would say that.
The night was late under the rainy Seattle sky. I, among friends, sipping wine and dipping crackers.
In between, this beautiful piece of music played:
I asked the host, what is this? Beautiful, I probably said (was a little drunk).
Metamorphosis….Phillip Glass, scribbling pen on my hand. The night carried on, enjoying this tune long afters. There was something hypnotic, entrancing about this. I could still hear the enduring rhythm yet forgetting the writing. My scribbles faded through short time, more so after some restroom breaks.
After midnight, I walked home through the streets of Seattle. This, being down the Queen Anne hills, through and between the postmodern structures of Seattle Center park, passing under its great Space Needle, towards the illuminate Belltown district. All, under a heavy rainfall. The tune looped on the entire time.
The next morning, I was awakened by the piercing sunlight. That tune carried on. I continued much else, while looking at my hand at times. The writing faded, nearly unreadable.
After errands, I deciphered my scribble. Phillip Glass, easy (famous composer of many films, over the last few decades). The rest, was Metamorphosis. That word is beautiful, with five syllables coming together to represent a special process of change. I thought of Goethe, Kafka, butterflies, myself towards the next life stage.
And then, there was YouTube. Then surprise, Phillip Glass composed five different stages of this Metamorphosis. How appropriate, I thought. Its history of use began with a stage play on Kafka’s famous work of the same title, revised in the movie The Thin Red Line, and brought partially back in the recent Battlestar Galactica TV series revival.
I listened to all parts, wonderful in completion. The first one was the correct one, or not. Was it the last one? They both sound similar. A cycle perhaps?
Enough! I share the remaining four parts of Metamorphosis below.
I present two pieces of vintage digital art, from an aged, underrated Nintendo video game.
Faxanadu, for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in 1987 in Japan, 1989 in North America, and released recently for the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console.
The is the end, after completing the game. You have restored nature and beauty to your hometown and surroundings.
This is in contrast, to its beginning.. See, one person can really make a difference!
This was an excellent game, of which I and many others enjoyed. The game was developed and imported/translated from Japan by Hudson Soft, a third-party company known, for being lesser known. This game was often found in discount bins later on, which got my attention. I was a sucker for action games with role-playing elements. But wow! I loved the look, the gameplay, the music. The story, not so much. It was simple, but enough to keep me going. I felt the visuals told their own story through progression.
Here are some further notes on the two shots, and the game itself:
In both shots, our unnamed protagonist walks alone on the road. In the ending, he walks away from the castle. In the beginning, he walks towards the castle. Both acts, done in an odd shuffling, crudely animated fashion.
Most of the game is up and through that gigantic tree in the background. It’s the World Tree. The huge tree is home to many townsfolk and evil monsters. This is fantasy of the best kind, where one must expand their imagination to accept the unbelievable.
Like most games of that era, Faxanadu had a very fixed color palette. Only 64 (56 unique) colors were possible, and on-screen only 25 could be used. Such limitations led to some brilliant thinking on selection and style. For Faxanadu, we have tones of browns, greens, tans, blue, etc, perfect for setting the tone of this great game.
Pixellation is beautiful, when done right. It takes skill to produce more from less, especially in complex settings like this.
I can not find the game artist for this. There are no credits in the ending (the usual place) for the game, unfitting for this epic game. I found nothing on the Internet. Hopefully, I will get back to this someday with an update.
Here is the text from the back of the game packaging:
“You are the elves’ last hope. Outside the town walls lurk monsters with the power to destroy anything in their path. Inside the walls, water and time are running out. Soon the ancient elf town of Eolis will vanish into eternity. Only you can save Eolis. No one else dares to venture beyond the walls, onto the World Tree, where towns and fortresses precariously await the whims of fate at the hands of the Evil. You are searching for the water source and for an antidote to the poison that makes the water undrinkable. To find them you’ll need gold and food and magic, speed with a sword… and luck. Every town holds a new mystery, every fortress a new danger. Merchants will sell you magic and valuable tools, but it’s up to you to figure out what you need. Long, secret mantras help you slip through the mists, but will you survive the next challenge? This is Faxanadu, the legend, the adventure – the incredible journey on the World Tree!”
Sometimes, I like to think my day is this exciting.