Happy Lunar New Year!
I like to intentionally surround myself with things that make me happy. This usually means funny animal things! I sometimes write/draw them in my journal so I can remember them later. Here's a sampling...
Pechanko Bocco and Zuu: flat-faced cats that never look pleased. If you're like me and don't have IG, there is an interview on Bored Panda.
Munchkin the calling duck: she's quacking with her whole body here. I love her.
Blunt-headed burrowing frog (glyphoglossus molossus): an absolute unit of a frog
Conger eels resting inside maki-shaped tubes at the Sendai umino-mori aquarium: I love to see eels and fish nestled up in bunches in tubes.
Pui Pui Molcar: ultra charming felted guinea pig cars, animated via stop motion!
3-headed Pinkey: inspired by cerberus. Is this Pinkey friendly? Hmm...
Pinkey loaf: inspired by animal loaves
Various things in this orange-shaped Milkjoy drawstring bag: a moment of serendipitous genius
Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary: I love this website's aesthetic and charm. It's all very wholesome and I can feel the love radiate from every word and image.
Today's music post: No Good by Carmen Rodgers.
This is a comic series about a legendary guy who quits yakuza to become a house husband. All the yakuza-adjacent men are very over the top and intense. Detailed well drawn funny comics...read extremely fast. It feels like a pity that it's so well drawn (nearly every panel has an amazingly detailed background that doesn't distract?!) but as a reader you move through the comedic panels so quickly that you don't really stop to appreciate the labour that goes into the visual part. The weird side cat comics were very amusing to me, haha. There's a part where there's a roach that climbs onto Miku's anime figure, and I felt that really hard.
I watched the CBC gem, a while back. I wasn't sure if the book was going to overlap the CBC gem documentary (?), but it doesn't. The CBC gem feels like it's exploring blackness and vulnerability in a different structure/timeline. The book itself is paced across a year in Toronto, presenting life stories about specific black individuals or communities in Canada. I appreciated more knowledge about policing and incarceration in schools and immigration system. It was written in a way that felt more personal and human. A succinct read that can be done in a few hours, but probably longer if you wanted to take notes and process and along the way. Ultimately I think reading this will help me develop a stronger opinion on several racial and judicial topics at a government level.
A comic series about a girl who wants to become a witch! Ummmmmmm so cute wholesome beautiful relatable even if they're all children...I appreciate that these kids are feeling all their feels in a vulnerable and raw way and are allowed to do that without any adults hushing them. Also ridiculously beautiful drawn! I'll be following the series because there are many mysteries to be uncovered! I think this series would be great for many ages...
What an interesting animation...? I wasn't really into the actual plot or characters at all (there isn't much plot or depth), but it did some very interesting and exaggerated animation shots and angles. I've read that it's a case of animation for the sake of animation (there's a lot of happening on screen, everything moves!) so it is impressive, from a technical point of view, how much effort and attention to detail was put into the movie. The character designs were really something else, as in, many of the non-human races weren't conventionally attractive and took a while for my eyeballs to get used to. Some of them reminded me of Macross' Zentradi. IMO the movie itself was squarely male-gazey, which is simply not my cup of tea, though it could be fine for others. I'm a bit shocked at how it ended (that font!) since I thought it was a ending that the in-movie broadcasting system made, but it was...not haha.
A memoir by Austin Channing Brown, a black woman who was given the name Austin for both familial reasons and broader systemic ones. I knew I was in for a good ride when the first chapter was titled "White people are exhausting" haha. Although the author calls out whiteness prominently in the book, I felt that it was also essential for non-black POC like myself to check on their own anti-black biases and behaviours. The book has many truth bombs that were familiar and validating to me (from my own observations and experiences with white people). There was an element of whiteness in faith and christian institutions that I didn't come across as prominently in some of my other readings, so it was interesting to learn about that perspective as. I have personally (but differently) felt oppression or injustice in organizations and have been "reprimanded" for speaking out about it. The tiredness and hopelessness is likely a universal feeling for many BIPOC, but I did find comfort in her description of living and loving in the shadow of hope—still engaging and showing up for justice, even when you have no idea if what you're doing is going to make a difference (i.e., keep working in the dark).
Doing nothing was no longer an option for me.
I finished reading the memoir in about 4 hours in one sitting, so topic aside, it was written very clearly and easy to move through the book at steady and interested pace!
Yakuza 3 and 4 (remastered, 2019-2020)
I blitzed through the plot in 4 days on easy mode. I only play easy mode. It was the first time I played with a gamepad (thanks Bea) so it took a lot of adjustment. I still can't click the right buttons to activate the correct moves because I don't have that muscle memory. I still play karaoke with keyboard because it's easier! I honestly don't know how people can play the series without starting from the beginning, since there is a lot of lore that you miss out on without the prior story (or substory) context.
There could be some vague spoilers below, so read at your own risk...
After playing more of these games I've come to notice the patterns in plot and fights, hahaha Naked men, rooftops, simultaneous matching punches/kicks/jumps, deception and betrayal, crying, conveniently timed yet selective gun shots, attempts to redeem bad guys, turning your back on the enemy and getting literally backstabbed, etc. All of these games need more MAJIMA GORO.
There was a literal and figurative "cop out" at the very beginning that was very disappointing, but I enjoyed the rest of the plot. I cried soooooo much, especially because of all the orphanage-related kid feelings (so raw!). The beginning is very much like a "dad" simulator, hehe. I spent a lot of time taking care of my kids. Tamashiro is the worst and I hate him!! I could've gotten more into Mine if he had more air time. The American's voice actor and pronunciation of "roof" as "ruff" was peculiar, as well as why anyone would tell a stranger that they have "beautiful eyes" when you just shot someone they knew?
I don't think I cried at all in Y4, but it felt like a longer game because of the rotation of playable characters. Akimiya's legs are so fast...I also feel like he is maybe the only one that really uses his brain, while Saejima and Kiryu have more bushido and gokudo-esque sense of "righteousness" which often results in brawn over brains. There was something about the distance between Tanimura's eyeballs that bothered me; he and Kiryu look more fake to me than Saejima and Akimiya! I wasn't convinced I could forgive Hamazaki after Y3 but he did the team a solid. I discovered that Katsuragi more or less is a Japanese-looking version of Lunge from Monster. Y4 resolves/brings together a lot of plot from Y0 and Kiwami 1-2. I thought Saejima's plot was the most interesting because of the historical nature of his story. I really despised the prison warden!
What's coming up next?
I have to slow down on reading/watching since I want to "finish" the HWAnimation snow scene in the next few months.
I began mirroring posts from this freetalk, onto Pillowfort, but Pillowfort is down for a while! Thank goodness I have my own space...
Today's music post: Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar) by Flying Lotus.
I have these extremely old risograph prints from 2012 that have been sitting in a portfolio...so I decided to make abstract art out of it haha.
I cut the prints up in 1" x 17" stripes, then taped one end and wove them together.
After that I sacrificed this peeler to the craft spirts and shaved some candle wax onto the surface, and ironed the wax to melt it and have it penetrate the paper. I flipped it over to do the back-side as well. I ended up using a hair blow dryer as well to flatten down the uneven wax parts as much as I could.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do it this, but I do like it more than the original drawing...
Today's music post: Jumping Dance by Mario Mathy (1987). This is one of those times where the video is a must watch for the strange but extremely passionate and energetic vibe this person has for their keyboard playing. It's REALLY 80s...
2020 was a strangely garbage year, but let's not forget the things that we were able to achieve and our resilience during these hard times! If you are reading this, hope you have a happy new year!
- Read a lot of books and increased my knowledge
- Finished Here We Are book 1!!!!!! MY FIRST BIG SOLO BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!! So many sweat and tears hahaha
- Finished BL Tease. Big heartfelt thanks to Linda for leading and Maguro for bringing it to physical life. This is on top of their existing excellent design work and story/comic contributions. I am truly privileged to have such great collaborators!
- Helped a friend bring her baby/parent book to life :)
- Lived on an island and worked with a slew of strangers for a couple of months
- I can (but barely) lift my cast iron pan with one arm
- Starting exercising routinely in September...then exercised daily since October (though this is both positive and negative as I still don't particularly enjoy this HAHA)
- Published freetalk posts every week since the summer! This was not my intention, but I'm glad I did it, even just for practice. I noticed that I have to do a lot of editing for these posts to be coherent. I tend to insert a lot of extraneous words, adjectives, and phrases: I think, perhaps, maybe, just etc. Good self awareness.
- Drew 31 tamagotchi for tamagoctober. I put my tamagotchi on pause afterwards because it was a lot of work.
- Did a bunch of updates and upcycling with existing materials (apron, tshirt, tarp, etc.)
- Tried out ink marbling/suminagashi
- Made a cute and fun card game with ittybeatty in December 2020! Concurrently, we learned how to the use Affinity suite to do all the illustrations and design (weaning ourselves off of Ad0be...)
- Started working on HWAnimation (though there is still much to be done)
- Getting suspended from birdsite even though I didn't post anything HAHA
- Began HWA arc 2 with chapter 12
- Organized and hosted many boardgame arena sessions to stay connected with people
- Got more fountain pens and I think I'm done...I have a good lineup!!!!!
- Convinced more people to play Yakuza and fall in love with Majima Goro
- Made a solid switch over to non-g00gle things for everything that I need
- I drew this very good raccoon plush
- Donated $ to a good handful of organizations!
Memorable moment of 2020
I was on a Jackbox games group call, playing Fibbage: Enough About You, which is a game where you answer questions about yourself. Other players can add their own responses to the same questions, based on what they think you'd respond. One of the questions was something along the lines of
If Dirchansky had a Ph D in a topic, it would be in [fill in the blank]...
The false answer that was chosen the most by other players was old man yaoi hahahahahaha...is this the reputation that I have among the youth?!
- Travel and vacation plans destroyed
- Couldn't really enjoy life because of various-stages-of-lockdown
- Cockroaches appearing inside my apartment during lockdown WOOOOO (still going through chemical warfare)
- Accumulated more plastic and waste because of lockdown (take-out, groceries, etc.)
On December 31st, 2020, Koyama Press is closing down. They've been a mainstay in the Canadian comics/indie publishing scene, and I've been personally blessed by both Annie and Helen's generosity throughout my comics-life in Toronto. We officially got to get to know them because we travelled to Kaigai Manga Festival (2012) and exhibited next to them in our little Canadian Comics TCAF corner. Since then, they've come to Love Love Hill's table at TCAF to chat and grab our newest releases and treated us to all sorts of wonders (meals, snacks, drinks, karaoke, stationery, reference books, etc.). There are countless other stories like this from other creators over at Quill and Quire's article about Koyama Press. Most of all, they were absolutely unconditionally supportive—they made you feel supported, seen, and respected. When you're too shy to reach out, they'll find you and drop some love bombs on you. I'll miss them, wish them the best, hope they get some downtime/relax time, because I know they've worked incredibly hard for our community. Koyama Press's existing books will continue to be available, while stock remains, at your local bookstores!
As I've been getting older, with less brain and physical capacity to do things, I'm taking a long hard look at where I should be spending my time and efforts.
I've been quite successful in de-coupling my self-worth from what I produced (in a quantity, artistic sense). Visual arts and comics have been part of my identity and being for over 20 years. I've funneled most of my time, energy, and money into art/comics as a "hobby". Do people usually exert this much money and labour into a hobby that brings them a mixture of positive self-improvement, pain, stress...?! What return on effort/investment am I looking for? What's in it for me? What am I hustling for? What/when is enough? I wonder whether I should continue to be a content creator, and if so, how and what kind?
Should I continue to share my work? If people aren't going to see it, why do I even have social media or a website? I don't know the answer to that right now. For a long time, I hoped to be able to help grow a community, but the horrible data privacy practices of major social media and chat sites pushed me away. I like to help others, I like to be kind to others, and I like to use whatever limited/meager resources and voice that I have, to uplift others. I don't want to be on those platforms and I wouldn't want people I care for, to be on those exploitative platforms either (e.g., read this article by RainyLune on IG's algorithm.
Maybe someday, I can be as selflessly generous as Annie Koyama.
Things to look forward to in 2021
- New planner: I'm particularly excited to have a calendar that starts on SUNDAYS again (instead of MONDAYS; I'm not used to it)
- Paper tasting: trying out a lot of notebooks (I bought a handful of lower page count notebooks to try out throughout the year)
- Playing Yakuza 3-7 on PC; goodbye life
- Continuing to evolve and to improve myself and the community (e.g., be more understanding and forgiving)
- Release at least one HWAnimation video, if only to showcase the people that contributed their skill and efforts to the project
- Maybe vaccines will be deployed to people who need it and there will be a gradual shift to a new normal?
- Becoming more unknown and more obsolete, or finding some more ethical/reasonable ways to put myself out
In the meantime, I'm counting down the days to meet my favourite fictional man again in the new year...
Today's music post: Moonchild's Cure from their Voyager album.
This is an unfiltered memoir about Eternity's 4 years attending Western university (a predominantly white campus) as a racialized person. I must admit that my own university experience was extremely uneventuful compared to hers. I was and continue to be a non-drinker, non-party-er, and non-social person!! I found myself wanting to pull her outta all the toxic situations she found herself in, and that she eventually finds more opportunities to stay true to herself, and love herself more.
This was some much needed-reading on my part because I am soooooooooo unknowing about disability-related experiences. The format of the book is short writings/essays/stories by different authors, organized in loose themes. I appreciated how intersectional the book was through its inclusion of a wide variety of stories and writers from different backgrounds. I am grateful to this book for introducing me to more voices, and so much more...it's just the tip of the iceberg, re: how much I need to learn.
I first saw this book because it was recommended on Wonderpens...but honestly had no real idea about what it was about and just added it to my HOLDS in my library account. There was a 8+ week hold, due to its popularity. As a plant lover and a (former?) scientist, I was pleased to find out that there is a big plant component to the book! You can really feel the author's passion and respect for all things living: the descriptions of her experiences and relationship and JOY that she feels when she is in the moment, observing and respecting nature. I also like the critique of English language and science, and how it others humans from all other living things, which is fundamentally different from how many Indigenous cultures associate with the world. She also wrote about her struggles to reconcile the feelings of gratitude/reciprocation and science/traditional ways of thinking and living. I thought that it offered a fairly clear viewpoint about our paths forward: we've done a lot of damage, and merely stopping the damaging isn't going to help; we have to work on restoring our relationship with mother earth. I will think hard about my gifts, and how I can reciprocate back to nature.
The book felt long to read; I think this is driven by the fact that (a) my book was almost overdue and I was in a mad scramble near the end, and (b) the author finishes her chapters with extremely eloquent closure/lessons statements, so it gave me the false impression MULTIPLE TIMES that I was done reading/the book was over (I'm reading an ebook copy from the library), but NOPE there was still more to go! I'm grateful that I had time to really think deeply about what I read in this book.
Today's music post: Inuugannuk by Terry Uyarak.