Monday, August 31, 2009

The Payoff


Just had to get that out of the way. All the hard work finally paid off, despite the fact my hand feels like it could probably just fall off right now. I was drawing from 9:00 AM Sunday until like 2:30 AM Monday morning... and basically only stopped for meals. Holy crap.

Finally managed to clear up my little Art corner that looked like a felt-tip bomb hit it. Counted up all the pens I've used up... and the grand total is... *drum roll*

95 FELT-TIP PENS. Wow...

It's raaaaaining pens, hallelujah!

Working on those drawings for so long... all the earlier procrastination just made this last weekend a stress-induced hell where not finishing had become a legitimate possibility. Basically it made me realise the importance of long-term vs. short-term rewards, heh. It was either "play TF2 (Team Fortress 2) right now" or "bust your ass drawing for a few days straight and enjoy yourself later", and to make matters worse I'd just bought Punch-Out for the Wii on the weekend. A brand new game... sitting there... fully wrapped... taunting me day in and day out.

Admittedly, I didn't exactly stick to the whole "long-term is more important" ideal for the entire weekend... seeing as I kind of bludged off all of Saturday to go to UTS and attend Shuang's kickass shin-dig. Soooooo much free stuff, and I ended up with three new shirts at the end of the day! (Unfortunately, one of them didn't fit, bah. Oh well.) Still, as much as I wanted to just game for awhile and collapse on my bed after that long day, I *persevered* and drew well into the night, and the entirety of the next day, heh.

Reminds me of this thing I saw on (and yes I *know* I reference it a lot, but it's a damn brilliant site), based around showing the long-term vs. short-term enjoyment and goals notion through presenting some toddlers with a marshmallow.

Basically, for those of you who can't be bothered watching (even though this is a LOT shorter than the rest of the videos I've linked), the experiment showed that, when presented with the option of eating a marshmallow now, or waiting some amount of time to get the original marshmallow and a second one, that based on this decision it showed how well these children would cope with the long-term vs. short-term decision later in life. Those who waited to get two marshmallows generally had good grades and some degree of success, whereas the majority of those who ate the marshmallow and didn't restrain themselves and wait ended up... well, in less than optimum circumstances for the most part.

The amount of times I had to turn down playing TF2 or just chillaxing with some anime over the last week to get this art major finished... I'd like to *think* I would've been one of those kids who managed to wait the duration to get the second marshmallow. At least that would mean I'll be successful later in life, if the statistics are to be believed, heh, even *if* I do indulge in the occasional period of procrastination. Pseudo-restraint is enough restraint for me.

Still, the relief of having all my majors completed now, rather than a few extra games of TF2 earlier and then being riddled with stress at the moment as I'd be forced to draw until all hours of the morning... it's definitely worth it. All in preparation for hopefully getting into Vis Comm at UTS - it shall be worth it eventually.

Guess that's it for now though.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trial Period Has Expired


Oh how sweet it is.

That is all. Adios.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Can See The Music...

Two posts in one day!? I'm on a roll. Although, last night's one, though after midnight, I suppose technically sort of counts as yesterday. ANYWAY...

Managed to finally have a look at this link Derek sent me, and it is so damn aesthetically trippy. I could seriously watch it for hours. It's essentially sort of like what I've always imagined synaesthesia would look like if I were a synaesthete. I've heard it described as 'ribbons of colour' before, but the smokey effect just seems more natural. Before I continue, here's the video:

For those who're uninformed with the condition known as synaesthesia, here's a definition:

a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color.

Or, to put it more colloquially, it's like having the part of your brain that interprets sound hardwired to a windows media player music visualiser 24/7. As cool as synaesthesia would probably be once you've discovered what the sensation you're experiencing actually is, I can't imagine ever wanting to have been born with it. I can just picture myself getting incredibly distraught as a child and thinking I'm going crazy when I see these random colours floating about in front of me that no one else can see.
Getting past those initial stages though, it'd be pretty damn beautiful to behold, and probably incomparable to anything one of those computerised visualisers can actually produce.

Considering this condition is apparently caused by some sort of unique link developed in the brain of the individual between the parts of their mind that interpret sound and sight, what I find more intriguing are those synaesthetes who are able to visualise *taste*, as well as sound. I couldn't find the exact documentary that I heard this in, so I googled and found a different video if anyone is further interested (keep in mind that it's 45 minutes long, so you might only just want to watch a bit to see what I'm talking about):

What I find absolutely hilarious is that, in this new documentary I just googled, within the first ten seconds one of the synaesthetes says he hates hearing the name 'Derek' because it tastes like earwax, hahaha. Seems I've come full circle in this post, yet again, so I'll leave it there and let those of you actually interested to enjoy the videos. Truly a bizarre yet amazing condition.


Trials & Tribulations (& Team Fortress 2)

A pun AND alliteration in the blog entry's title!? Oh this is madness. Truly my wit is absolutely astounding.

Nothing particularly thought-provoking tonight - well, maybe. Who knows, maybe you'll find something of interest at the end of this post? I have no idea. It's 1:00 AM at the beginning of typing this so it's probably going to be a bit of a rambling recap of my absence, heh. Haven't exactly done a 'proper' entry since the music lyrics one, so let's see what happens.

Main reason for my lack of updates, obviously, is HSC Trial Exams, as I'm sure you've all struggled through (or are still struggling through, like myself). Problem is, due to my uber-sexy exam timetable, giving me almost a week's break between the first half and second half of my exams, I'm starting to fall into holiday mode despite still having two more exams PLUS two major works to do. 'Tis not good.

Due to this aura of the holidays engulfing me, I've recently become reacquainted with an old friend - Team Fortress 2. I suppose this post may deteriorate into a bit of a gaming-related ramble but bear with me.

One of the things that always appealed to me about Team Fortress 2 was that, despite mindlessly shooting at each other with no storyline or true purpose, like a lot of shooters on the market, the game actually had a great sense of humour and art style about it. Speaking of the art style in particular, compare it to the following:

Present-Day/Futuristic Industrial Wasteland Vs. Original Eras & Stylised Constructions.

Grizzled Macho-Man Archetype Vs. Characters With *Personality* & Distinct Aesthetics.

Grey scale & Craptastically Brown Surroundings Vs. *Gasp* Colour!

Considering the amount of shooter games on the market, none of them seem to entice me because they're all borderline the same. Aside from the weapons, they're all about grizzly macho-men in grey scale (or brown if they're feeling *adventurous*) industrial present-day or futuristic ruins. That's basically it for 90% of them. Team Fortress 2 is a tad more original in this regard though, with each character having a distinct personality beyond this overly generic isolationist 'bad ass' character archetype that seems to engulf the majority of shooters these days.

Essentially, rather than trying to project an overly 'mature' look about the game, which at this point most end up almost satirising themselves due to the saturation of the market, Valve dared to be a bit different with Team Fortress 2 and achieved this unique, aesthetically pleasing, charming, and humorous atmosphere about the game. The cartoon-ish motif mixed with the altogether insane violence, bodies literally scattering into a collection of bloody-yet-colourful limbs after exploding... It just stands out against this ridiculously over-the-top 'mature' market that most gaming seems to be geared toward at the moment. Though admittedly I've played my fair share of Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War, none of them held me, simply because they're all so generic at this point. Team Fortress 2 however, even if I take a break, keeps me coming back, simply because it dared to be different in its art style and characterisation - even if the gameplay is still reasonably similar to the common shooter (not completely, but it doesn't completely shatter the genre in any way).

Essentially, I guess I just wanted to get this point across that 'mature' games don't have to be ridiculously 'serious' in their tone, because it just ends up ridiculously bland and generic. Hell, this expands beyond games, really. It's often those multimedia works that develop their own style, rather than just emulating what they think they *should* portray, that appeal to me. Take Tim Burton for example - each of his films have this absolute distinct motif and feel to them that's incomparable, no matter how hard others may try. I'd much rather have things visually interesting than having the developer focus on creating five hundred levels of realism. If I wanted realism I'd just walk outside or turn on the news.

There's no need to completely throw out the rulebook and be different for the sake of different, but I'm glad they didn't fall into stereotypes - things are more interesting if you're a tad original.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Trivial Awkward Post Ahoy!

Should be doing Modern History right now. Don't particularly want to as YouTube keeps stealing away my attention. It's becoming quite problematic and my Modern History rank is probably going down the toilet with each video. Wonderful.

Still, I'm finding this girl quite hilarious - Bernice linked me to one of her videos awhile ago - and I can't stop going through her archive. Behold... The "We Just Touched Awkwardly" Song!

Guess I should go back to studying South African politics now. Although, I'm already essentially doomed for this exam. Ah well. Also, I'm currently holding a slinky, and you are not. I know how jealous you are.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lyrical Musings

Well this post is sort of a continuation of the line of thought I had with a friend earlier today regarding music. Namely, the importance of lyrics to said music or song and the effect of the words on the appreciation of the piece.

Firstly, we were discussing how important words are to a song, mainly due to their poetic quality. Some would argue, such as my friend, that the intriguing lyrical composition and choice of the words adds to one's understanding and appreciation of the piece, over merely the aesthetics of the voice. I, however, tend to not pay attention to the actual words being said as such, and rather prefer to focus my attentions on the overall sound, thinking of the voice as yet another instrument rather than exam the content it's conveying and relating through the words.

Ask yourself this: If the hypothetical song in question (or one of your own choosing) had the same vocalist, the same amount of syllables in place of the words, however instead of enunciating the words themselves, you merely got the sounds of the syllables with the same inflections. Now, would this diminish the value or adoration of the song in any way to you - given that this is a song you're hypothetically quite familiar with and possibly even one of your favourites? Or, additionally, if you listen to a version of your favourite song without the lyrics at all, does it affect your opinion of the song in any way?

Personally, I find the masterful crafting of the sound more than enough to sustain my interest and appreciation, and as long as the vocals are excellently inbuilt in the song, the quality of the lyrics I find is often unnecessary. My friend begs to differ though, in that either merely the sounds of the vocals, or no vocals at all, does not have the same depth of appreciation possible for a song with impeccable lyrics.

This brought to mind another idea, however, in regards to the issue of lyrics. Namely, the fact that I can still enjoy foreign songs (yes, I enjoy J-Pop/J-Rock, laugh it up) despite not understanding a word of the lyrics. When you're not given the *option* of that poetic depth, and merely getting the audibly-pleasing syllables, I wanted to see if that would effect one's opinion of the song, after reading a translation of the lyrics later. Though not on the *same* individual, I tested another guy with one of the most ridiculous J-Pop songs I could think of, knowing he'd hate it, heh. Thus, not only could the poetic nature of lyrics *increase* one's appreciation of a song, but could the revelation that the lyrics are terrible and nonsensical also *diminish* the value of a song in one's opinion, after already having heard it when oblivious. Here is the song in question, and you non J-Pop folk can enjoy your ears bleeding:

Now, for those of you who dared to listen, here is but a snippet of what the lyrics actually mean (if you can even call these 'lyrics', considering how odd they are):

Myah myah myahcology
Mankind mya? Très bie~n!

For example magnets, within the sand
The aliens have their Teatime at their branch department on Earth
Its inconvenient to be small, send out the big ones
Someone, move Battleship Yamato

Its a work horse work horse! Drink milk
Its a carriage work horse! Go to sleep early
Its a work horse work horse! Adults certainly transform in secret
Its a stranger! Better to leave him alone
Its the President! Whats your order?
Its a uniform! Your letters are odd!

Did the absolute non-poetic qualities and altogether nonsensical nature of the lyrics make you like the song any less (or hell, if it's your sort of thing, did you like it *more*)? This isn't exactly a conclusive post, more just an experiment if anyone bothers. I know opinions will vary, and some will treasure the deeper layers of meaning and appreciation that lyrics can provide to a song, whereas others such as myself just prefer the excellent melodic voices of the vocalists (or slightly high-pitched pseudo-yelling in the case of the given video, heh).

Guess that's all for tonight though. Just found it an interesting topic.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Faulty Towers

(Oh what a terrible pun... it doesn't even make sense till you've read the blog entry anyway...)

Well I *was* trying to draw for Art tomorrow, but this has been playing on my mind since I heard it this morning. Anyway, at school at the moment, there's a competition to design the cover of the school year magazine - 'The Towers'. Best entry is *supposedly* meant to be used as the cover for this year's magazine, and as opposed to previous years it's open to the entire school.

Now first, some background information. Last year's cover was strictly open to the Year 11 Photography classes, with the design for the cover simultaneously used as an assignment to gauge photoshop skills for the digital component of the Photography course. One of these covers was also *supposed* to be used as the cover for the school magazine. Now, nothing against the entries, but it was kind of slim pickings, my own cover included, with the librarian only picking out 3 or 4 that she actually tolerated. Still, she's openly stated many times since that she pretty much detested all the entries, and thus the 'competition' out of the submitted covers became null and void. Instead, she put all the pressure on Shuang to design a better cover, despite the fact that Shuang also designed one of the original covers that was picked out anyway - though it seems the librarian didn't even like *that* one (personally I thought it was quite good, but eh.. different tastes I guess). Not only did the librarian just disregard these other entries, she pretty much forced Shuang to emulate the cover of another school's previous year magazine instead of even using Shuang's original design. Now, this brings me to this year...

The Towers is just so... corrupt, all because of the librarian. Pretty much the same thing is going to happen this year, despite opening the competition up to the entire school (in hopes that the turn out will be better than those forcibly created for the photography assignment, though that's still running). Despite advertising the competition and 'trying to get the students involved', she's already basically consulted Shuang on the matter. Essentially, if she doesn't like any of the entries this year, yet again will she just throw caution to the wind, chuck them all, and get Shuang to design something perfectly to her own liking.

Of course, nothing against Shuang, her photoshopping skills are absolutely *brilliant*, and I can see why the librarian would want her to do this, but the whole notion of manipulating this 'competition' to gain *publicity* instead of actually running it like a competition, when behind closed doors she already pre-planned to do whatever she pleased with the entries, just irks me. It's hardly a competition at all... more just a shameless promotion and luck-of-the-draw that you may by chance submit a cover that the librarian finds *pleasing* ... and if not, well she just ignores any democratic process and manipulates in a new entry that she finds suitable.

If you're going to hold a competition, you abide by fair processes. Even if she just got Shuang to enter in the first place she'd still probably win, as she's quite skilled and I love her work, but the fact that this librarian would wait specifically until *after* she's seen all the entries before even deciding whether or not to intervene with her less-than-democratic methods.

It reminds me of a specific Simpsons episode - 'Pygmoelian' - where, although Moe puts in all his effort to win a contest, he still ultimately comes out losing in a sense when a multitude of stickers are plastered over his ugly face, which was meant to be displayed in the Duff Calendar. So... instead he goes out and gets plastic surgery to make things look all nice and spiffy.

Moe sporting his fancy new face in 'Pygmoelian'. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

It's just covering up the problem and pretending things never happened, despite how others might feel about it. Honestly, even if the cover isn't the *greatest* looking thing ever, I would seriously find it more gratifying if it was designed by some junior student who put all their time and effort into drawing it. Of course it would have to be up to some level of quality, hence the competition, but it shouldn't have to be exactly to the librarian's liking in every single way, shape or form. Firstly, it'd probably make their (the entrant's) day, and secondly (and most importantly) things would be a great deal more fair for all concerned.

Yes, I know, you'll probably point out that I'm being hypocritical or something since I intend to enter this competition myself. However, keep in mind that the librarian hated my own cover from last year during the Photography assessment, as well as the fact that there are PLENTY of talented graphic artists in the school. By no means am I expecting to win this competition. If anything, it's just to show the librarian that I'm still getting myself involved in Towers - being in the roll call and all - or rather, that I'm not slacking off. Still, it'll probably backfire and she'll hate my design this year as well, in contrast to the myriad of better ones - Shuang included - and thus just think I'll be crap when doing my actual pages for Towers, heh.

Still what are you gonna do? As immoral as her selection criteria and running of this 'competition' might be, she's the one in control. Debating it would probably just get me kicked out of Towers anyway. It's not like she doesn't hide the fact that she goes behind backs to control every little facet of this magazine anyway.

Guess I should stop ranting though. It's just been on my mind for hours.


Continued Thoughts On Meritocracy

Just a quick one today in response to the post from yesterday. Came across this talk on (seriously people, if you didn't check it out from the first video in my original post, go have a look now - absolutely 'brillo' site, haha) that seemed to convey a similar point to what I was talking about yesterday. Basically, that idea of a meritocratic society, as he calls it, regarding those with the ability and motivation reaping the benefits, as opposed to everything just being handed to one. Anyway, if you're interested, have a look:

Well that's all for now, back to working on Art / Trials preparations. Bah. So much work. Probably going to have to restart one of my drawings too, so I'm currently sitting on 4/7 completed. Ah well, I'll get stuck into it.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Apparently Bogans Have Stylish Hair

Bit of a trivial post today, but bear with me.

Anyway, I was getting my hair cut at the hairdresser today, yet for once there was no awkward forced conversation between the hair stylist and myself. The reason behind this is that, on the other side of the salon, there were two quite odd characters - and yes, both of them were somewhat bogan. Instead of creating chitchat as the stylists normally do, both her and myself were obviously eavesdropping on this pair and the stylist working on them.

Some of their conversation and logic was just baffling. To begin with, when I sat down to get my hair done they were gloating about how they were thieves, and quite openly at that, detailing some of their illegal escapades in front of this law-abiding (or at least, presumably law-abiding) young woman cutting one of the men's hair. However, they then went on to complain about how "whenever they stole something, something of theirs often ended up getting stolen as well", thus prompting the stylist to inform their bogan brains of the concept of Karma. Of course, they then went on to complain how possessions being stolen off of them was "totally unfair", yet did not backtrack or show any sign of regret for their own thieving activities. This, my friends, was only the tip of the iceberg.

They started complaining about all sorts of fiscal matters, whinging about their "shit income" (because obviously such upstanding citizens are worthy of high-paying jobs). This prompted them to ask the stylist what her income was... and after dodging the question for a short while she told them that she earned "six million annually". The ignorance of these two was baffling though, as they believed her for AT LEAST a good 10-20 seconds. By now the hair stylist was, quite clearly, fed up.

These monetary musings, if they can even be called that, continued with concerns that they could never earn "two-thousand-trillion dollars" (is that even an actual number?) because they "hung out with a bad crowd". Still showing some human decency and normality, the stylist offered them various words of advice and options of how to get out of the bad crowd, stating that she herself hadn't had the best adolescence but had managed to secure a stable job, family, and house, etc. Of course, the two fools reject any helpful advances and then state how they, quite simply, don't want to stop hanging out with this bad crowd, *despite* knowing the effects it is having on their lives. They just laugh it off and make a crude joke.

Unfortunately, since I was only getting a quick trim, this was all I got to hear, but it was more than enough. I know a lot of people struggle to get above the social and economic status that they were born into, but these two individuals clearly just... Were. Not. Trying. If you're given reasonable options or advice to remedy a problem you have, you should take it. Illegality obviously isn't going to solve anything. I'm sick and tired of people who just think they can laze about, acting like tools, and then expect life should be handed to them on a silver platter. Wealth, status, friends, power - it's all achievable if you *work* at it. I know I'm not a *prime* example or anything, considering I indulge in my fair share of laziness, but still... when I want something, I work at it. Short term gains just simply aren't worth it. Nothing will ever change that way. The thing that gets to me the most, however, is those who then have the AUDACITY to complain that they're getting nothing out of life when they're putting nothing *into* it. You reap what you sew. Seriously, you don't want to end up like these two.

But hey, at least you'll have good hair.