Posted by: mandre23 in Project
It’s midterm. Amazingly I’m not that exhausted. I’m not that stretched thin. Everything is rather manageable. I just have that constant creeping feeling that I am missing some huge part of my quarter.
Woo! I’m wrapping up the details of my first zBrush model, the giant jellyfish staff. It’s been a headache of a process, learning and relearing the basic tool sets. The UI is incredibly confusing, and the ever-growing list of shortkeys in my mind keeps getting fuddled. I’m… content with this model. I feel like I could have done more, but I’m not sure how. Everything I want to do I know how to in various other programs, just not in the newest one. Oh well.
This weapon is based on the concept that you only hold onto the thin straps of grip tape, otherwise the staff will sting you. The short tentacles at the top snake out to sting nearby enemies. The bundle of tails at the end moves freely, acting as a stand or wrapping around unsuspecting feet.
My ballet midterm is the only other stresser so far. We’ve got four different combinations to learn, as well as a short written test in which we have to pretend to speak French to write all the terms out properly. Later in the week we have a short presentation about a choreographer of our choice, but I’ve got more than enough time set aside for that over the next few days.
Tomorrow is my birthday. The Monday of midterms is my 21st birthday. Mike and I have made plans to go to Lulu’s Chocolate Bar for be to buy my first drink and enjoy a small bit of peace after turning my project in. Other than that, the celebrations are being kept low, as all my friends are busy frantically coding and inking and not doing their laundry.
Okay. Jellyfish. Combinations. Terms. Resume and cover letter. Laundry. Feed myself.
…What am I forgetting?
Posted by: mandre23 in Class
I’ve spent the last three hours making a digital brick wall. I could have done this in about twenty minutes, but instead, I’m going through, step by step from a textbook, brushing up on settings and the basics. So far its not even coloured. Its just a mass of rectangles. I need to go outside for a while.
The problem with going outside is it requires going downstairs, and, after ballet yesterday, that’s quite a task. Each time I point my toes as I sit here, my feet and calves ache and twitch. Every Thursday night I spend curled up with a DVD instead of going to Thursday HvZ, exhaustion catching me before the sun has even set. But it’s well worth it. I could barely stay up on my toes during the first week. I can do it on one foot now (for like a second. But still!).
I could continue to sit here. I should work on my stuff for Sculptural anyway. We’re modeling weaponry. Most of my concepts, despite being fun and whimsy projects, got passed over by my professor who encouraged me to go in a different direction (“Quit thinking everything in terms of cylinders and spheres!”). My project will be a staff made from a jellyfish (surprised?). Other than that very basic concept statement.. well… the visualization is still in process.
I’m also wearing my wig in Monty. So far no one has recognized me. I sat next to my roommate for an hour. Nothing.
I should really get out more often
Posted by: mandre23 in Fun
This weekend (well, yesterday), I did as I always do, and endeavored into a new art form I haven’t played with before: photography! I wanted to try out my hand at directing a photoshoot, from concept to completion.
Well, I kind of did that. Mike rented all the equipment… and set it up… and did all the post processing work… but it was my idea! Well, kinda. The idea for the image is based on Luke Chueh’s 2009 Dunny, which is one of Mike’s favourite toys. We’d tossed around the idea for a few months and finally decided to do it this weekend.
It was definitely a learning experience. Directing models is difficult. Makeup is difficult. Figuring out how to get light to bounce of a white card is difficult. But I did it! Look! It’s creepy!
We’ve got a couple more concepts based on Luke Chueh’s paintings that are still on the drawing board, but hopefully will make it into the studio soon!
Posted by: mandre23 in Class
How is it already the end of week two?! I didn’t have a moment to spare last week, and this is the first downtime that has happened near a computer.
Welcome back! I’m back in Savannah, starting my junior year. When did that happen?! Seeing all the doe-eyed, hopeful, dreams-haven’t-been-crushed-yet freshman takes my back to my first quarter. Now I’m starting my third year, working with more difficult programs, an ever changing sleep schedule, and the word “internship” hanging over every moment I have free.
This quarter’s classes are Sculptural Texturing for Games (learning the program zbrush), Game Design Portfolio, and Intro to Ballet.
Sculptural is proving pretty difficult. Maya, the program I usually work with, is all about digital modeling with hard surfaces. Zbrush is essentially digital clay, which can be wildly manipulated, squished, stretched, textured, and generally pushed about. This is one of the first practice pieces I did. Starting with a weird cylinder thing, I just randomly displaced large chunks, and found a fancy texture to go over the entire thing. It’s a fun program, but it takes a lot of skill to be good at it. My first project for the class is to make a fantasy weapon. I’m trying to figure out how to make a staff out of a small tree. Or maybe a giant jellyfish morning star…
Portfolio is a class focused on getting me a job. We find companies we want to work for, take a closer look at their current postings, write company specific cover letters, develop our personal logos and websites, and figure out how to be real people. I’ve got a picture of my logos here, and I need some help picking which one to develop further. (Click on it to see more). Leave comments for me!The class is lots of presentation, which gets boring very quickly. It has, however, convinced me that I need to change my art style to something more… “in demand” in the art world right now. I’m hoping I can rent some equipment through the department and play some new games!
Above and beyond, ballet is my favourite class. Its taught my a short, round, bald French man who hugs and kisses everyone at the end of class. He keeps the studio at 80 degrees all through class, and works us until we are either exhausted or tripping over our feet in confusion. Some people in the class are brand new to dancing, while others have had plenty of dancing experience (namely one who has been dancing for 15 years). The class is a lot of fun, and I come home early (he doesn’t think we can do a 2 1/2 hour class yet) exhausted and ready for a nap. I also don’t really complain about wearing a leotard all the time. So comfortable!
This weekend I’m going into the SCAD recording studio! Add that to a list of things I’ve never done. I brought my flute down this quarter, and my friend Emery wants to record some sounds for his music. I’ve also got a photoshoot I’m directing, inspired by one of my favourite painters. And homework. Luckily no laundry, as I’ve already done it this week.
It’s good to be back.
Posted by: mandre23 in Japan
My room is a complete mess. I feel sorry for the maid staff every morning when I leave to get breakfast and catch the train to school. There’s clothing everywhere, and the desk is covered in homework, magazines, and purikura. I’ve got things double hanging in the tiny closet space and the ever growing laundry pile spills out of my suitcase.
What was the last thing I told you? I have no idea. This whole adventure is a blur of painful feet, weird food, and moments I wish could last forever. Where should I start? Tokyo? Akihabara? Harajuku? Kichijoji? Koenji?
I’ll just do it this way:
OH GOD BEST PLACE EVER. Harajuku is more than just the fashion Mecca of Tokyo. Its fashion and food and fancy car dealers and price tags that make me wish the dollar was doing better. Just two train stops away from school, I find myself having spent most fo my exploring time there. Its played host to most of my money spending, purikura machines, and (my personal favourite discovery in Tokyo) the Bunny Cafe. Its also home to the Meiji Shrine, which is a wonderful piece of greenery and calm in the middle of this electric jungle. Through CIEE, we got to have a tour of the shrine given by a Shinto priest, and got to witness the daily evening prayer, offering, and dance.
This past Sunday we got done up in our Lolita duds and headed to Harajuku to stand on the Jingu Bridge, which is a weekend fashion event. Well we got there and were the only people in sight, most likely due to the cruel sun beating down on our wigged heads. But suddenly we became the spectacle as tourist after tourist came up to us asking “写真を撮る?” and crowding under our umbrellas. I felt like part of the culture that comes with the lolita fashion, and wish that I could have taken photos with the tourists that would have pictures of me!
Weirdest place ever. Akihabara, or is English name The Electric City, is the technology and anime district of Japan. We came up out of the station to loud techno music and brightly coloured signs everywhere. We wound around in the streets, ducking in and out of multistory comic book shops. For lunch we took part in one of those “only in Japan” things: a maid cafe. Its essentially a pink little cafe that serves (well I’m sure they serve real food but we only had) ice cream shaped like animals, and the waitresses where short maid outfits and speak in obnoxiously high pitched cute voices. The girls delighted in us being there, tourist girls lost in a strange world of cute, and not their normal clientele. Which were mostly creepy single men. After getting our picture taken with the girls, the veil of adorable and birght began to fade away from Akihabara. The comic shops became seedy pornography places of scantily clad anime women. Flashing arcades became… well… I’ll just leave it at that. Much like we did to all of Akihabara after walking into such a place, looking for more purikura
3. Sophia University
Sophia University is the reason I’m even in Japan. We take classes during their summer session. I’m enrolled in Japanese Language 1 and Japanese Art History. Language is a breeze: I already studied everything we’ve covered! Its a great refresher course, and its helped correct my handwriting, as my teacher is Japanese and had no margin for error. Art History is… boring. Slide after slide of at that might be Japanese but is actually Chinese. But that’s the class that counts when the credits transfer back to SCAD. Gotta stay awake. Gotta stay awake.
4. Disney Sea
We had our only free Saturday of the trip this past weekend, and CIEE paid for us to go to Disney Sea! It took near two hours to get there from our hotel by train, so we hit the parks in the middle of the noon day sun. The heat couldn’t stop us. We wandered through the whole park, taking in the Disney magic and grumbling about the length of lines. One person in our group got turned away for being too tall for a ride (he’s 6’7″!). Though we’d spent several hours in the park, we soon exhausted the stuff we wanted to do… so we hoped the train back around and got half price tickets to Tokyo Disney. Though much MUCH smaller than any of the other Disney parks, we still enjoyed ourselves. We got to see the Disney version of Japan’s summer festivals, ride through a Japanese version of Pirates of the Carribean (read “It was so weird I never want to do it again”), and bought little Disney character cape towels as souvenirs. Despite our screaming feet, we had to run through the station to catch the last train home.
Home base! Kichijoji is the location of our hotel and some of the tastiest/strangest things I’ve eaten in Tokyo. We’re situated right across the street from the station, essentially in the middle of an army of ramen shops and little bars. There’s an awesome place up the street that only serves pork dishes (and they do it well). If I cut through a different alley on the way to the park I can get the best crepes I’ve ever had. Heading out the opposite end of the station sets you out on the street near the bar we haunt on Friday nights (¥1200 for all you can drink for two hours). And if its been an especially rough day, we can head to Sweets Paradise, an all-you-can-eat dessert cafe. I would be out exploring more now, but its raining and I’ve got an exam tomorrow.
(If any of the images don’t work, just leave me a comment and I can get them fixed.)
I’m on an adventure. I’m just afraid I’m not going to remember it all.
Posted by: mandre23 in Japan
But in all seriousness.
When did I last leave you? Everything is a blur of words I can’t understand, food I didn’t understand, and a sense of general confusion. The transition is proving pretty difficult and the culture shock is teeming on the edge of overwhelming.
Yesterday was spent in Matsumoto, touring the huge Edo period Matsumoto Castle. We ducked under the low beams and wandered through room after room, barefoot and flashing photos at every corner. The climb to the top boasts a 61° angle staircase at requires on odd, descending limbo game as you head back down to avoid the beams in the ceiling of the floor below. We snapped photos with a samurai and pretended to kill each other with some very dull katana. The climb and the rising humidity had us all sweaty and the rest of the morning was spent cloistered around the wall of vending machines inside the souvenir shop.
Lunch/afternoon was spent at a.. well… wasabi farm. Every single thing we had at our lunch spread contained wasabi. Even the ice cream. I’d prefer not to relive that whole experience if you don’t mind. My sinuses are still screaming.
We piled back into the bus and drove back across the countryside heading to Tokyo. We pulled into the suburb of Kichijoji, the location of home base for the next three weeks. They gave us our keys and set us loose in the streets, off to find our own dinners and entertainment for the night. Kichijoji is the up-and-coming Toyko neighbourhood, and with our hotel situated directly across from the station, the labyrinthine neon streets became a loud, noisy, well dressed maze. I’m sure finding dinner around here can be fun… when you can read. Also when you aren’t traveling in groups of 8-12. The group I was with finally came to settle in a sub-street level ramen shop, in which you pushed a button on a machine to place your order. I coughed up my ¥680 and slurped down udon floating in greasy pork broth. Bellies full, we hit the streets again, set on finding a grocery store for night time nibbles.
This morning I reveled in having my own space again. Hell, I didn’t even close the door when I went to the bathroom. Our last
excursion was to the Studio Ghibli Museum. It’s only a short walk away from our hotel, cutting through Inokashira park and along the high street to its tree flanked gates. This I was excited for. I was practically skipping to the ticket counter, and dove into each exhibit with the most enthusiasm I had mustered so far this trip. This was stuff I knew, even if I could read all the signs and subtitles. Plating, deguerreotypes, matte paintings, cells… I knew this stuff. We crawled through doors and exhibits clearly designed for children and garnered disapproving stares from Japanese parents. I fought my way through the gift shop and made my first souvenir purchases. Unfortunately I got seperated from the rest of the group and had to make my way back to the hotel myself. While getting there wasn’t an issue, I realized I had no way to communicate to my friends where I was and what was going on that afternoon.
After failed attempts with facebook, I headed back out, intent on doing my favourite thing: getting lost. I wove through the streets around the station, down shopping arcades, into the basements of department stores, turning left and right every chance I hit an intersection with a crosswalk. Though I slowed down several times, I never went into the places I passed, afraid of the chorus of “いらっしゃいませ” and the eventual problem of needing to ask how much something cost. Perhaps tomorrow, once I’ve had a better look at my phrase book. Dinner was a little katsu place which I was able to point at the menu and get what I wanted. My exasperated expression and strong thanks got the waitress laughing at me, and bringing me a free cup of tea. Full and tea’d, I decided I’d grab a few magazines from the closest FamilyMart and spend the evening in, munching on Pocky and translating .
And, well, that’s where I am. So far I’ve got “The colour for fall is red. Wear it like” and then I start to get confused.
Posted by: mandre23 in OMG
The toilet has six buttons. One of them, to the best I can describe, is a little spray of water cleaning a rather callipygian individual. It runs water to hide any unpleasant noises. It took me near five minutes to figure out how to flush it. Then I had to figure out the shower.
Welcome to Japan!
My “trip of a lifetime” didn’t exactly get off to a good start. After a short flight down to Atlanta, and a scarfed meal of something resembling steak fried rice, I got to spend three delayed hours waiting for our plane to arrive. A whole hoard of angry travelers stood at the desk, stamping their feet and waving their tickets, demanding that Delta refund the connecting flights they were going to miss. I, only slightly perturbed by the delay, settled into a chair and began my favourite of all travel rituals: playing Pokemon on my GameBoy. Another girl from my trip, Nidah, found me and we chatted away the first few hours, growing steadily more anxious about being able to meet out group in Tokyo.
While the plane eventually arrived and I experienced the single most uncomfortable flight I’ve ever taken (exit row with no leg room. Seriously!), I began a pessimistic battle in my head, akin to that of meeting my roommates for the first time. Am I going to like anyone? Is anyone going to like me? Well I can just do my own thing all the time… but it’s so nice to share it with people. We landed three hours late and twenty minutes into my viewing of Children of Men. Nidah and I cleared customs, and gathered our luggage (her two huge bags, my one tiny bag full of bags) and, to fist pumps of delight, found the CIEE group leader waiting for us right outside the door.
Much of the rest of that evening is lost to exhaustion. We stayed in a hotel near Narita, and I sunk into strange dreamless sleep around 9:30pm. That all ended much to quickly, and I sat up wide awake at 3:00 am. Unfortunately I had a roommate for the night so I couldn’t continue to Catch ‘em All, and I spent the next three hours aimlessly flailing about in my sheets. Once she finally started stirring, I gathered my things and showered, ate, and headed down for the day.
We boarded a bus and began the long drive from Narita to Takayama. People fumbled with names and talked loudly about what they wanted to see and do. After two hours of pleasantries, we stopped at a roadside reststop, and were set loose into the hullaballoo that is Japanese food and sweets. I stuck with a bottle of what I thought was water and a vanilla macaroon. The bus took off again… for a bit. We’d left someone behind. Well, let me correct that. Everyone else reported back at the time we were expected to go, and as names were awkward to come by, no one could identify who was missing as we did the head count. As we’d lost near an hour turning around, we got lunch at the same stop. I got… to be honest I have no idea what I ate. It was a meat and vegetable mash dipped in batter, fried, then grilled. And it was daaaaaaamn good.
The afternoon was a slalom through the mountains of the mainland. The green tips were dipped in clouds and the Japanese countryside fell by in a strange combination of Western modernism and traditional Japanese roofs. The tunnels drilled through the mountains as the tail end of monsoon season unloaded itself on our little gold bus. We took to starring out the windows at the ravines and high reaches, willing ourselves to stay awake until we reached the hotel.
Where we’re staying is a traditional luxury Japanese hotel. The entrance to the room has a step up for you to remove your shoes. Paper sliding doors, tatami mats, and those funny little tables you kneel at, futons that the turndown service put out for you. We put on our yukata and wandered around the hotel. Dinner was, as in the theme of the bedrooms, traditional. Lots of little boxes and plates and bowls, complete with a little instructional menu as to the order in which we needed to eat things (In traditional, unreadable kanji). First a tofu… thing. Second was sashimi (omfg so fresh), various other fish (still with heads and eyes), a bowl of pickled things, red plate of more fish, fry-your-own beef… at that point I just started eating from everything. The tiny portions turned into a HUGE amount of food and the momo (peach) ice cream that rounded out the meal was barely touched.
I’m… worried. I’m afraid that I’ve overhyped myself for this experience. I’m afraid I’ve spent so long dreaming about this and bringing it up to something that it might not be. While I know it’s too early to be so stressed about all this… I am. Maybe I just need to get to Tokyo and out of the countryside. Maybe I need to really go experience what I’ve wanted to do, not just this “getting to know you” tour.
The night rounded off with all the girls in their green and blue yukata hobbling down to the onsen. Amid “What’s your name again?”s, we stripped down naked and blushed and giggled, and settled ourselves into the steaming spring water. We soaked and talked about our majors and why we were here, what we ate for lunch and when we had to get up in the morning. Once the mist starting rising off my own body, I bid the ladies good night and hopped awkwardly back to the changing room for my towel.
It’s a little terrifying. This is by far one of the most diverse and disorganized groups I have ever traveled with. I still don’t know more than half of the names. I barely remember those of who I’ve met. Lost in this strange land, with barely enough of the language to get by.
I’m holding tight to my little bag. I can do this.
Posted by: mandre23 in Event
Okay. Update time.
Last Saturday I accomplished one of my “While at SCAD” goals. I got to see the SCAD Fashion Show! Well… kinda. I somehow, this quarter, have managed to become good friends with one of the students (also game design!) that does makeup for the show. He asked me if I wanted to help backstage with the show, and since… well. I’m probably never going to be able to get tickets to the actual show, I said yes. And WOW. I carried $5000 worth of Marc Jacobs jewelry. I met both Ms Jay and Andre Leon Talley. And, at least from a different angle, I got to see the best of the SCAD senior collection. On hangers. And on the floor after the show.
The rest of my time has been spent working tirelessly towards finals. Which I should be working on. Like right now.
Three more weeks. Three more weeks until I can sleep and stare off into space and not have to deal with the incompetency of those around me.
I’ve got a level to finish dressing, another board game to create and fully fabricate, and a essay on the effects of Steampunk in science fiction. Not that bad, right? FALSE. These are all group projects. Which I am not good at.
I promise that I’m okay. It’s just hard right now.
It’s almost over.
Posted by: mandre23 in Musings
The amount of premature failures in my life outnumbers the hairs on my head.
The writer, the drummer,
The foreign language student with the beginning signs of bipolar disorder
The grocery store clerk
the Best friend’s best friend
The gamer, the geek, the Greek, the Jew
The “would be more”. the sloppy seconds
The “My mother would kill me if she knew”
The amount of time I have put into said failures is more than I care to admit.
A summer, six weeks over spring semester,
A weekend, a weekday, a work day, a work shift,
Three days over Thanksgiving break
Lines of LAN cable
Five minutes in the back seat of his car
Four in the front seat before slamming the door
An entire nine weeks worth of forty-five minutes periods making faces through a window
Reasonless rambling rolling and rumbling like rhinos from the oratory section of my face at the back of a red head
Thirty thousand thoughts thunk through Theoretical Play textbooks
Millions of minutes making mush of my mind, meddling with Mr. Maybe
Complete crap complied into quarters and counted coquettishly in the comfort of myself.
The amount of complete failures in my life
Can be counted on one hand
The singer that was sincerely not my fault
The soccer player
The resident with side projects
1. It wasn’t my fault I knew he was gay first.
Someone singing show tunes nonstop for six consecutive solicitations should show some sign of sexual preference. Seriously. Somehow someone seemed so spacey, such significant signals were circumvented.
2. Proximity placed itself so precariously between us until we purposefully pulled each other apart.
3. The final… friend’s foray into infidelity feels far fresher for the few months of time that have passed. Words of wisdom: If he calls it a secret, he’s got others.
The talk could continue for hours
The kicker, the bass player, the expat
The student politician, the other bass player, the coworker,
Oh and that one very brief encounter with… well, no I’d like to keep that one
But to speak of success?
All successes become failures.
All successes will end.
After a year, a semester, a sordid six seconds stolen silently in the seat of someone else’s sedan.
Please don’t become a failure of mine.