Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Grab-bag

The new year hit the ground running. The news of this week was the winter storm that blew through the area. I got about 5 inches of snow and another inch of sleet on top. It was very cold, so the whole lot is powdery and easy to shovel. As I tried to capture in the picture above, the ice crystals are big enough to really reflect the light, which made for a dazzling morning's view.

On the entertainment front, I've just finished reading William Gibson's Spook Country, which sadly wasn't up to the standard set by the exceptional Pattern Recognition. It's not bad by any means, but all the main characters are passive participants, being dragged along by events or other people. It made the stakes lower than I'm used to in a Gibson novel. I finally watched Hitchcock's "The Birds," thanks to BBC America. I'm not a big fan of the sub-genre of horror to which it belongs, so there was an automatic bias against it, but the moment when the birds are gathering outside the school is intensely creepy. The winter TV deluge is well under way, with Dollhouse finishing up this past Friday and new (to the US) Top Gear cranking engines tomorrow.

The news remains both depressing and utterly samey. So instead of messing around with links, I will just provide one that explains the rest.

Things have been slow on the hobby front lately. Had a blast playing guitar and singing with some old friends, further solidifying that I just don't spend enough time practicing. I have done even less drawing lately, though I did put in around three hours (over an extended period of time) to produce a fantasy style map. The iconography was heavily influenced by the old Dungeons and Dragons map symbols. With only three hours in it, it's just sketch quality. And since I don't have a lightbox, it's unlikely to ever get inked properly. It was a good learning exercise, and turned out decently enough. Happily, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings maps aren't all that complex, so he can provide inspiration without pressure. It also lead me to stumble across this post on Erwin Raisz's utterly stunning landform mapping technique. Attempting these will make for some wonderful sketchbook practice, should I ever get myself to sit back down to it.

Speaking of guitar playing, I ran across this fine example of skill levels I will almost certainly never attain, but it's fun to dream, and besides I haven't heard a straight instrumental electric guitar song in quite a while. Here's Orianthi and Steve Vai with Highly Strung.