Print-Making the Grade

When I first went to college, I wasn’t exactly the visual artistic type. Aside from the doodles that everyone draws in the margins of their notebooks, I didn’t draw much. I didn’t paint. I didn’t create visual art like that. In high school I was artistic, I was in band and played music, I just wasn’t visually artistic.

In college I had to take a fine arts credit, since I decided not to be a part of the band. I had to actually take a fine arts class, all of which are deduced down to music appreciation, jazz appreciation, and art appreciation. Going against all of my musical learning that began in the 6th grade, I decided to do art appreciation.

The format of the class was awesome. It consisted of being in a giant lecture hall of about 100-200 students and having a PowerPoint full of art that we would just discuss. Sure there were a couple of quizzes and stuff, but all in all it was just sitting and discussing a ton of different pieces of art.

And then I learned about printmaking.

Printmaking, in a generic sense, is the process of making a block (or some template medium) that you run through an inking process and then transfer to paper. Unlike other mediums you can just keep reproducing the image as well (at least until the block is worn). The trickiest part of most forms of printing is that you have to do everything mirrored, so when you place your block onto the paper it prints the correct direction. I have a couple of pictures with the blocks in them down below to help you understand what I mean.

So upon learning of this awesome form of art I went out and bought a beginner lino-cut printing set. This consisted of a couple blocks of linoleum, some ink, and a couple of chisels that are used to cut out the linoleum.

The result of my first actually decent print was a printing of the gnome child meme. Meme right here for comparison.
Image result for gnome child

I since come to the realization that I inked the block pretty badly on that one. After that I produced a couple of other things, and the only other one that I really liked was a pointy-hat confused bearded guy (I should just make that the title of the picture).

Then, for a good laugh (which is the reason I create most things) I made a print of a printer. Neat.

 

The next significant thing I made was a garlic bread print, where there was a hot piece of garlic bread and kanji (hopefully saying garlic bread, I got it from google translate so it’s questionable). It had been so long since I produced the last print that I struggled to get the inking right, and after printing off a ton of them, I was able to get a cool looking gradient. So without further ado.

And just recently, inspired by a dumb internet meme (another main source of inspiration), I made a print of Steve Harvey that summarizes most episodes of Family Feud.

And that is all I have. If I create any new prints that I think are funny, or a significant improvement in quality, then I’ll probably post them here.

Until I post again, have a great week!

Oblivion

Oblivion is one of the greatest works of art and one of the greatest milestones in-

Image result for Tom Cruise oblivion

Move aside Tom Cruise, I wasn’t talking about that one movie you were in (although that was a pretty good movie).

I’m talking about Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Oblivion, a role playing video game, is one of my most favorite video games of all time. Beyond that though I would argue that Oblivion was and is unmatched to any game like it that has been produced since.

Image result for Oblivion game

What is Oblivion?

Oblivion is a first person (although you can play 3rd person) role playing video game that was released in 2006. If you have ever heard of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this game was the predecessor. Oblivion features a fully immerse open world, with tons of dialogue and story which allows you to make unique decisions giving a high amount of replay value. Beyond that though, it allows the user to fully customize a character to become an evil archer or a heroic fighter or a callous wizard and any combination in between.

Without spoiling the story too much, you are a prisoner for a crime you don’t even know. Turns out though that there is a plot to kill the emperor and your cell is a secret tunnel out of the imperial city. So you get a get-out-0f-jail free card and wind up getting assigned the task of saving the world, by the emperor himself. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to save the world, if you just want to wander around the cities and be a merchant the game will not stop you.

What really makes this game golden though, is that if you want to be the best wizard in all the land, you can be. If you want to be the best fighter, you can be. You want to be the god of the realm of madness, totally, you can do it. You want to gain the favor of all the counts of the land, go seek audience, I’m sure they have something they need done.

The land and the characters are all unique because nothing is randomly generated, everything was written by someone, somewhere along the line. So even though the world is incomprehensibly massive, everything feels meaningful. This is a lot of work though and has (for good reason) been taken out of newer games in favor of adding randomly generated quests for replay value, where random events happen to certain places (Fallout 4’s a settlement in danger).

So this begs the question if Skyrim is newer, then

Why do I believe that Skyrim is inferior?

Mechanically I don’t believe it is. The game has really awesome combat. It has a really interactive gameplay with a really immersive and beautiful environment that just blows Oblivions combat and graphics out of the water. But people-wise and quest-wise there is no substance.

In Oblivion if you want to work your way up the fighter’s guild you have to try your best, only to find that you made a mistake and now your demoted. After 30-40 really interesting and meaningful quests you will finally find yourself at the top of the fighter’s guild.

In Skyrim’s fighter guild (The Companions), after a couple of quests (less than one days worth of time) they will initiate you into their inner circle. It just doesn’t make sense, you just show up and they immediately equate you with members of the highest caliber.

In Oblivion, the Dark Brotherhood (Assassin’s Guild) has a long and complex questline full of conspiracy and lack of trust. After working through 20-30 meaningful and interesting quests, you are finally the highest rank and essentially running the guild.

In Skyrim, the first quest makes you the chosen one of the Dark Brotherhood.

In Oblivion, the main questline is a heroic feat. You are just some guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time and worked your hardest to save the world. You aren’t chosen, you’re just awesome.

In Skyrim, you are the chosen one. You can absorb dragon souls, you are destined to slay the dragons. There isn’t a choice, you are just the way you are.

If you are creating an open-world role playing game, well written story can go a long way to make you feel immersed and make your achievements feel more meaningful.

All in all, I don’t think Skyrim is a bad game, just that in comparison to Oblivion it is inferior. It is like comparing platinum to gold. If somebody gave me the option of having a pound of platinum or a pound of gold I would obviously pick the platinum. If I didn’t have an option and they handed me gold, I wouldn’t be complaining.
Turns out this analogy is bad, platinum is now cheaper than gold, I’m behind the times.

Super Quick Update

I was tempted to put this on top of my post but that would just be bad form. I released the 100th video on Xyloaday and am about halfway through the Wrenchman BioShock playthrough on APRDuneBuggy.

That’s all. Life is pretty awesome.

 

Bearly a Post

You know how two weeks ago I said that I was really stressed and there was a lot on my plate and after about two weeks it will be alright? Well, turns out that is exactly what happened. I have been self-actualizing my butt off the past few days. I might even be able to produce some extra content this week (like livestreaming gameplay) which is exciting since I usually don’t have a ton of free time.

Last week was Zelda theme week, and it was a lot of fun to play all of my favorite childhood Zelda songs. It was really stressful to produce, but quite rewarding having people come check out the videos. If you want to check them out here is a link (no pun intended) to a playlist of the entire theme week. I hope to do more theme weeks and more themed content in the future. If I can muster up 7 spooky songs, I’ll play them leading up to Halloween.

That is just a meta sidenote though. Here is the real content.

One (summer?) afternoon my brother and I were hanging out and we wanted to go see a movie. There wasn’t anything we wanted to see in the normal movie theater, so we checked out the dollar theater. Now I don’t actually remember what that theater was called, but the reason we called it the dollar theater is because they showed month or so old movies for about a dollar (maybe two).

We arrived and there wasn’t anything there that really grabbed our attention. A whole bunch of (what we thought were) mediocre movies. We were there though. We parked. We weren’t going back. We were dedicated to this movie-going cause.

So we pick Paddington, it was the least worst looking movie out of the bunch. We didn’t know what to expect, we never read any Paddington growing up, neither of us looked up any plot or read any reviews, and the trailer made it just seem like a cheesy bear comedy.

I now define my life as pre-Paddington and post-Paddington.

It is a cheesy bear comedy. But really it is a lighthearted, family-friendly movie where a polite and tragically displaced bear gets adopted by a slightly dysfunctional family. And through the magic that is children’s movies, every family problem is resolved by putting a wild animal into the household.

Aside from the stock plot that I described above this movie has a lot going for it. It has subtle humor, it has over the top humor, it has fun family moments, and unbearable puns to boot. On top of the family being dysfunctional there is also an arc where a taxidermist tries to hunt the bear throughout the town of London (and fails miserably every time), giving the movie some good action.

What takes this movie from great to transcendent though is the underlying arc throughout the entire movie.

Paddington is a bear. In London. Who can talk. And wears people clothes.

Throughout the entire movie they forget about this fact. If I saw a bear walking around in people clothes I would be utterly shocked. The movie doesn’t do that though, it knows that if it had to constantly explain itself then there wouldn’t be any time for actual plot. Instead what we get from the movie are scenes where they make fun of the fact that everyone so nonchalantly accepts this bear.

Although that shock and awe factor doesn’t exist, there still is an underlying theme of Paddington trying to fit into human society. The whole concept of “I want to be a real boy” exists in so many movies and this one isn’t an exception. Throughout the whole movie they do a great job at making him wear people clothes, making him more understanding of human society, and making his character more human.

Let’s review. What do we have so far:

  1. A movie that is genuinely fun and entertaining.
  2. A movie that has moral lessons in it.
  3. A movie that doesn’t take itself seriously in just the right places.
  4. A movie where the main character is learning to fit in.

And so the movie is wrapping up. Hooray, the taxidermist’s plans are foiled, the family is functional and happy, and Paddington feels like he is an actual human-equivalent member of society.

And then the final scene comes to a close and Paddington is reflecting on the adventure. The whole movie is supporting the idea that Paddington might as well be human.

Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right – because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home.

And there it is, the most heartwarming thing you have ever heard (but in this case I guess it’s read). He is a bear and yet he could still fit in, anyone can feel at home, anyone can belong to society. Paddington’s adventure can finally be replaced with a small boy and you would see no difference from here on out. And that’s the end of Padd-

Except it isn’t. There is one more line in the movie.

I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington.

The entire movie they don’t point it out, they try to make him more human, they end it with him being the equivalent of a functional human member of society. And finally as everything wraps up they slap you with one last zinger.

HE IS A BEAR

They have an entire movie to point out the absurdity of this bear getting along with society, and throughout it they decide to hold back that punch, instead dropping little crumbs of reality here and there. And then the end comes and they make, not just anyone, but the main character say how utterly absurd the entire plot of this movie is.

This is the reason why Paddington is one of my most favorite movies of all time.