VIRTUAL UNVEILING 3
It took me at least a week longer to draw than the previous two London drawings, but my drawing of Covent Garden Market in London
is finally complete. (Click below for the half-sized version or click on the link I just gave to get the full-sized scan in my Fotopic "Drawings" gallery
Here's the description I wrote:
This is a drawing of Covent Garden market in London based on a Kodak Advantix photograph which I took in July 2000. It's looking south, down Southampton Street towards the Strand. You can see the red-brick building that used to be the flagship Doc Marten Dept. Store in the background, though I think, since the photo was taken, Doc Marten packed up their boots and moved out, and there's a general London souvenir store there now. It's a large tourist-oriented shopping area, though the only store whose logo I could easily make out in this photo was the Body Shop.
I drew it using coloured pencils (mostly Prismacolor) on card, and it took me from around July 30th to September 10th to draw it, meaning, of the three drawings I've done so far based on Advantix photos I've taken in London, it's the one I worked on the longest (though I didn't do all that much one week when I wasn't feeling well).
The thing I like about the photo it's based on is that there was a random guy (in the black shirt) who walked in the shot right into the "vanishing point" of the picture, so most of the major "perspective" lines are pointing directly towards him. I don't know whether it was an accident or whether he was trying to ruin the photo, but he filled in what would have been a gaping empty area in the photo and made it that much stronger, so, to honour him, five years later, I did this drawing. I wish I knew who the mystery guy was so I could thank him myself. (I don't know why, but I get a vibe that his name might either be "Simon" or "Nick".)
There wasn't that much detail for his face, so I took a few liberties, making his eyes a little more pronounced. I like the effect, like he's staring at me. His arms really were at a bit of a weird angle in the original photo, so that's pretty much straight how they looked.
I liked drawing the renovation scaffolding behind him. That was fun.
I think the thing that took me the most time to draw, somehow, was the people in the restaruant. Even though I made them a bit cartoonish and wasn't that concerned with realism, there are just so many small details that I felt I had to include, and also, it's a bit harder than you'd think getting everyone lined up correctly, so that people at the same table look like they're facing each other, but I'm satisfied with the job I did.
You can read blog entries about the production of this drawing here, here, here, and here.
Like with the previous two, this drawing is about 65 centimetres long, so I had to scan it in several chunks pieced together in Photoshop, but this one looks a bit better than the other ones, though you can still see one obvious seam on the pavement.
This photo is obviously dedicated to "Mystery Guy", but it's also dedicated to Gals!
creator Mihona Fujii (藤井みほな), even if she was also one of the many artists I dedicated the Piccadilly Circus drawing
to. Covent Garden market seems like the sort of place that Ran Kotobuki would adore if she were real.
Next up? Moving away from London, I'll probably do a drawing based on this photo I took in Montreal in June 2001 of a girl taking a picture of a classic Austin-Healey car
, but I may also simultaneously work on my fourth London picture, based on this Advantix Photo of Admiralty Arch and the southeastern corner of Trafalgar Square
.PREVIOUS "VIRTUAL UNVEILING": My drawing of Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London.
I DON'T KNOW WHETHER OR NOT HE'S KIDDING, BUT HE'S RIGHT.
Anglo Montrealer singer-comedian Ricky Blue, from Bowser & Blue
, has written a column on a website called "Log Cabin Chronicles"
in which he proposes that they ask a question supporting the creation of a province of West Quebec
should there be another sovergnity referendum.
"Our problem has never been that of a divided Canada. It has always been that of a divided Quebec.
And if Canada is divisible, so is Quebec.
Let's admit this once and for all and deal with it.
Think of it: the glassy-eyed dreamers of a glorious new Quebec nation in North America would finally get their wish. Surely this would make them happy.
So, they probably wouldn't get Montreal. Separatists have always considered Quebec City their national capital and given it all the money and power anyway.
And for those of us in West Quebec: a great sense of relief. At last, an end to being the hostage in this nasty custody battle between two sides of the Quebec elite: those who squander our taxes in Ottawa and those who squander our taxes in Quebec City."
Personally, I think the creation of an officially bilingual province of West Quebec, a province where free-market sanity and not top-down regulation would determine the language of commerce and of signage, is a historical inevitability and should be a priority for the Canadian government regardless of which way the sovergnity winds are blowing. If the people in the Saguenay hate being in Canada so much and want to start their own little banana republic, where Loco Locasse would write the (rather discordant) national anthem and where they can enter into free trade agreements with Haiti, French Guiana, and St. Pierre et Miquelon, let 'em leave. Montreal would be free from the economic albatrosses around its neck from four decades of separation fears, petty bureucratic language regulators forcing stores to use tape measures on their signage to ensure that the English isn't too prominent, too many jobs being union-only "closed shops", and a general attitude of cultural paternalism, and, with businesses no longer being choked by so much red tape, especially regarding the language of communications, Montreal's economy would flourish and the city could simultaneously go back to being not just the Paris of North America but also the New York of Canada, Toronto not nearly having the same vibrant cultural heart.
Needless to say, I also think Montreal's natural destiny is to be the fluent French and English-speaking capital of my dream province.
The Quebec partition debate needs to be reopened, damnit, before it's too late. I only wish that it could be one of our federalist politicians that would lead the charge and not just a musical satirist who may not be entirely serious.
Eh, I rented this one over the weekend. It's a 1999 film from Studio Ghibli's Isao Takahata based on a Japanese "4-koma" newspaper comic strip
by Hisaichi Ishii, It recently got a North American release, along with Takahata's Ponpoko
, as part of Disney's "Third Wave" of Studio Ghibli DVDs (a very low-profile "wave" compared to the previous two since there are no Miyazaki DVDs this time around).
Giving a synopsis of this film would be fairly futile, as it's really just a series of vignettes featuring a Kansai-accented family in a unnamed Japanese city. (Kansai = the western part of the main Japanese island, Honshu.) The main characters are Takashi, the construction worker "salaryman" father, Matsuko, the housewife who always makes curry, Nonoko, their daughter, who is a precocious little girl and also the (ocassional) narrator and sort of the conscience of this movie, their teenaged son, Noboru, who is a mediocre high school student who longs for love, and Shige, Matsuko's grandmother. Some of the segments in this film, to name a couple, include Nonoko getting left behind at a mall (but Nonoko, thinking that it's her parents who got lost, decides to help out another kid who is lost too find his way home), Takashi trying to bond with his son (and failing), Shige visiting a sick friend in the hospital (who would much rather talk about hospital gossip than acknowledge that she's dying), Matsuko's forgetfulness (after putting too much ginger in her Miso soup) makes it so she is unable to go a few steps beyond her house when she keeps on thinking of things she thinks she forgot to do at home, Noboru, in a bookstore, spots a girl he likes and tries to pretend that he's not reading dirty books by picking up some random book about Bosnia, and the girl is impressed and thinks he's much more "deep" than she thought, and Takashi is unable to persuade a gang of motorcycle-riding Bosozoku
thugs to leave their neighbourhood, so Shige has to step in.
This film is mostly a straightforward domestic comedy, but there are a handful of fantasy sequences, either daydreams the characters have, or expository adventures that are meant to symbolize real-life events, like Takashi and Matsuko getting married and having children. It's very easy to discern what is meant to be taken literally and what is metaphor. Also, many scenes are punctuated by haiku
from the 17th
century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho
, to add a dose of introspective reflection and whatnot.
There are a couple of Japanese-specific scenes that western audiences might not "get", like, during the aforementioned symbolic boat journey of life, how Noboru is presented as having come out of a peach (like Momotaro
from Japanese legend) and how they then cut open a bamboo stalk and found Nonoko (like Kaguya-hime
from Japanese legend). I know about all this Japanese folklore stuff because I watch Urusei Yatsura
, but, if you don't get those culture-specific references, it's no big deal. (Though I just explained them for you anyways...) Most of the themes presented are fairly universal.
The animation style is deceptively simple-looking, capturing the look of the original comic strip perfectly. Even if the character designs are extremely simplified, the animation of the characters, and how they interact with the world, is remarkably fluid, to the point where you rarely feel like you're looking at flat, static imagery. This film was hand-drawn, but it was completely digitally-painted to achieve a smooth watercolor look that would have been astronomically expensive to paint by hand, and, since it's not painted cels on "backgrounds", the characters are perfectly intergrated into the world they're in. There are a few 3-D elements, but they're mostly well-camouflaged.
The art style oddly reminds me of the sorts of drawings you find in some of the textbooks I have for learning the Japanese language. It's distinctly Japanese, but completely different from the traditional anime and manga styles. It's a bit closer to the style featured in those comic-strip based anime that never got exported to North America like Sazae-san
, Crayon Shin-chan
, and Chibi Maruko-chan
For a while, I was tempted to think of the film as being almost like a Japanese version of King of the Hill
, since it's largely animated slice-of-life about a typical Japanese family. I even read some of Takashi's subtitles out loud in my best "Hank Hill" voice. But... Takashi isn't really that comparable to Hank Hill. Hank Hill often finds himself in situations where it seems like the world, or, at least, petty bureaucrats and the like, are against him, but Hank can usually rely on his wits to gain the upper hand, and, if wits don't work, he just threatens to kick their asses. Takashi is a lot more timid, and, generally is very reluctant to take any sort of action. He actually prefers, as he tells us in an improvised wedding reception speech towards the end of the film, to accept and endure the hardships of his life, because he sees acceptance as the key to co-existence with those who would otherwise aggrivate him. I suppose he's more like Junichiro, Hank Hill's newly-discovered Japanese half-brother from the King of the Hill
episode, "Returning Japanese" in that way, at least until Hank taught him to be a little more assertive. Plus, it's not much like King of the Hill
because Bobby isn't a smart-ass towards his father the way Noboru is.
As a fan of product placement in cartoons in general (since real brand names add to the realism), I saw one example of blatant product placement that nanny state busybody activists like Smoke Free Movies
will hate: in a fantasy sequence, Takashi, as Kamen Rider, emerges from behind a clearly-branded Mild Seven cigarette vending machine. Mild Seven
is a real-life brand of cigarette, made by Japan Tobacco
. They sponsor the Renault team in Formula One. So it's cigarette advertising in a children's movie, and one distributed by Disney, and, since it's animated, there's no way for it not to have been included intentionally. (Here's a whole page of Mild Seven-chan drawings.)
The English voices for this film include According to Jim
's Jim Belushi and former Saturday Night Live
cast member Molly Shannon. I didn't get a chance to hear the dub, not because I have anything against the dub but just because I always prefer to watch all anime in its original language first, and it was a two-night rental and I watched most of it on the third night. I know, because of Blockbuster's new "No Late Fee" policy, I really have it for a week and two nights, but, if I have a two-night rental out for more than three days, I start getting those annoying automated phone calls nagging me to return it.
Even though I knew roughly what the film was supposed to be like when I rented it, I still really wasn't all that sure what I expected, and, to be honest, it took me a while to warm to the film, which I watched in two chunks on consecutive days. But once the film gets going, it pulls you in quite well, with charm and humour and sympathy. It should also be noted that I far prefer the way this film touches on the subject of death as a part of life compared to Takahata's overbearing and manipulative Grave of the Fireflies
, even if it is really just a minor scene in the middle of the film. And, even though I'm not a father, I can somehow relate to Takashi's wish that he could be "more" to his family than he actually is, but his resignation to accepting the way things are is optimistic in a weird way, because, having shortcomings does not make one dysfunctional, and the Yamadas still get along very well as a family unit in spite of their little imperfections.
This film is very recommended viewing for anyone who can tolerate the strangeness of the animation style.****/*****
By the way, in 2001, a new TV series adaptation of the comic strip
, which was re-titled Nono-chan
by that point, aired on Asahi TV, but it's a Toei production, not a Ghibli one, and has an entirely different cast and crew.
JUST FOLLOW MY NOSE! IT ALWAYS
Damnit! Doped up on Benadryl, I was hoping that I'd be able to ride out allergy season without any serious nasal congestion, but it was not to be.
Last night (well, more like late this morning), I was having one of my favourite kind of recurring dreams, being in an impossibly labrynthine Renaud-Bray
bookstore, searching for French-translated manga, or "magna", as Homestar Runner puts it in "Trogdor-con"
. This Renaud-Bray store in my dream had a ridiculously inefficient use of floor space, with small display areas connected by long, empty, winding corridors and an unecessarily complex system of stairways and escalators. It was like a cross between a Renaud-Bray store and maybe the empty connecting areas of Montreal's underground city (or, perhaps, Carleton University's tunnels) with a touch of Ottawa's International Airport thorwn in for good measure, and maybe just a tiny bit of Foyles Bookshop
on Charing Cross Road in London.
Anyhow, while I was trying to navigate the unlikely configuration of passages in this imaginary Renaud-Bray bookstore, I noticed that it was becoming harder and harder to breathe properly and the unmistakeable feeling of a blocked nose, so, even in my dream, I was trying to blow my real-life nose, but, obviously, it was impossible to discharge the, ahem, "fluid" with imaginary hands that existed only in my dream. It's more or less the exact same thing as when I fall asleep with the TV on while watching a DVD and the repeating, looping music from the main DVD menu shows up in my dream, which has happened more than once to me, and I dream about turning off the TV but nothing happens since the problem is in the real world. So the pressure just built up more and more in my nose to the point where I was blowing so much air into my nose to block the "obstruction" that even my mouth-breathing was disrupted and I woke up a little starved for oxygen. Meh. I hate when pleasant dreams are interrupted like that.
I took a Benadryl after I got up and my nose is mostly decongested now, but it's only September 5th
and the frost that kills ragweed and other hayfever season plants that produce allergens is still likely several weeks away, so this is not a good sign for what the rest of the month will bring me.
In other news:
My father and I went to my sister's house for supper last night and we had chicken shish kebabs cooked on clean-burning, efficient propane. "Taste the meat, not the heat," as Hank Hill would put it. I also brought along my own can of Vanilla Coke, since I know my sister only ever has diet soft drinks available (though, I actually tried the Diet Crush Cream Soda and it really wasn't bad, for diet). They were listening to 93.9 "BOB-FM"
, the mixed classic/contemporary pop-music radio station with the annoying TV commercials where the guy tells us that he has a radio station in his finger, and that BOB-FM has more music than is available on the entire Internet because they have "B-sides". (More music than one can find using an AllTheWeb.com Audio search
? I'm skeptical. And the Romantics' "(That's) What I Like About You" is not an obscure B-side. It's used in the title of their "Greatest Hits" album
(which, considering their firm status in the pantheon of "one hit wonders", should probably be titled "The Romantics' Greatest Hit and Nine Other Songs"), and it's used in commercials all the time!) Then the commercial tells me a blatant lie, that it's the music I'd play if I had my own radio station. Eh... did you ever play Kanako Wada
's "Kanashii Heart wa Moete Iru Wa"
("My Sad Heart is Burning"
), the second closing theme song from Kimagure Orange Road
? No? Then it most certainly is not the music I'd play if it was my radio station. (Bottom line, America? BOB-FM needs to play the song "Kanashii Heart wa Moete Iru Wa" or they need to change their blatantly misleading advertising.)
Oh, speaking of King of the Hill
, I take it that they played "Yard, She Blows"
, the episode when Peggy gets a garden gnome again last night, because, at 7 p.m., my blog got about a 50 hit spike of hits looking for information on "Winklebottom" (and a few for "Figgleforth"), which was impressive since it's not even the first time they reran the episode, and, when they re-played the episode in March, I only got a 24 hit spike
A SURE SIGN THAT AUTUMN IS COMING...
I generally sleep in until noon, since I don't have anywhere to be most days.
Usually, my cat, Ember, likes to come in my room in the mornings, since it's quiet and it's like a sanctuary away from the dogs, especially Sam, the half-Labrador, who likes to play with her but often a bit too aggressively. She didn't do this for the first few months at the new home, because I think she was a bit disoriented as to who sleeps where since the hallway configuration is pretty different from the old house (though my bedroom is right at the end of the hallway, just like in the old house), but, one morning, a couple of months ago, the room assignments somehow finally clicked, and she marched to the end of the hallway and demanded to be let in (she's a loud cat).
In my room, she tends to curl up on the blanket on the floor in front of my door that I put there to keep the noise out, as the crack under the door is a bit high (like 3 centimetres or so). Sometimes she will also hide in the closet, since it's like a double refuge where she's pretty well hidden even if the dogs get in my room.
One thing that Ember isn't, though, is a lap cat. She seems far too dignified to humiliate herself like that. Or, it could just be an issue with the lack-of-stability of laps, but she never was a lap cat, even as a kitten. It's not that she doesn't like affection, but she'd rather have us bend down to pet her.
As such, she will only curl up on my legs when I'm sleeping for a very good reason, and the reason is strictly for warmth. I think she learned this behaviour during the 1998 Ice Storm
, when the electricity in Pincourt was down for a week during a cold snap. She does it in winter, but only very occasionally. Guess what she did this morning? It's only September 4th
, and the temperature only dipped a tiny bit below 10ºC (around 50ºF) last night, but she, evidentally, was feeling chilly, so she curled up on my legs. I guess even 10 degrees celsius (Centigrade) feels like an Arctic blast after a fairly warm summer in Ottawa.
Autumn can't get here fast enough. I'm still suffering from hayfever, and it seems to be getting a bit worse, even with the Benadryl. I'm feeling the early stages of nasal congestion, and I've had a low grade sore throat for days (and a bit of a low grade headache, on and off, too).
Anyway, continuing the theme of re-posting images that were fairly popular on Google Image Search before Google de-indexed all images hosted on Photobucket.com, the following image was a spoof on the Internet meme "If I looking for frog."
which I made for when Ember disappeared in March
(only to return eight days later
). Even if I was only intentionally drawing like a child, I was a little afraid that readers to this blog might think that was the full extent of my artistic ability. Hopefully, I've given you all enough evidence
that I really can draw. (Unless you hate my style and your opinion is unchanged.)