Earth & Jewels

Here's me with some scraps. Some painting strips. Some cuts of colour. All this colour makes me realise - maybe I love earthy colours/tones/hues because that's us. That's our skin colours and our flaxen hair and our dark curls and our muddy eyelids and our purpleyellowbluered bruises and our blood blushing soft orange pink against pale skin and our hands with pale palms and dark, deep brown on the other side. Our skin like earth.

Our colours in creases, veins, vessels, shafts, grooves, curves. Jewelled darkness and sun-kissed copper. Blood and melanin, dancing in the light.

I love all these colours. The jewel colours of birds and geodes and spices, and the earthy colours of people and forests and wolves.

Blob Time

Sometimes you just gotta make some blobs, and this was one of those times. I used a new (actually very old, but new to me) paintbrush, which is very soft and smooth. Almost too soft. Makes me realise just how scratchy some of my paintbrushes are. But I like scratchy old paintbrushes that have been used to death.

So I made myself some little worlds of colour with soft and scratchy paintbrushes working together in harmony. Here they all are.

Top 10 Cutest Steam Badges

I have long loved to adorn my various spots on the internet with all different kinds of cuteness and wonder, and Steam is no exception. I love perusing badge collections and finding my new favourite tiny and beautiful badge, alongside emoticons and weird fonts. So here's a selection of badges that I think are really cute and great.

It's Spring Again - level 1 badge: Happy

This badge reminds me of the sun as represented in the mythological bits of the 1978 Watership Down movie, which I love a lot. It also looks like a very (appropriately) happy sun, and I enjoy that. A nice sun.

Haunt The House: Terrortown - level 1 badge: Clown

This clown has a wonderful design. I love the hat and the big blue bow, and the slightly surly look on his face. It's rare to breach that strange area between grumpy and cute, but both of those things go together very well.

Resident Evil 6 - level 1 badge: Cuddly Cub

It's a Resident Evil badge and yet it is extremely adorable. Good.

Momodora III - level 5 badge: Dora

Every badge and emoticon and basically any piece of art remotely related to the Momodora series seems to have been conjured via pixie dust or something, because it is all so beautiful and lovely. I had to mention it, but really, every badge is so nice looking. Perfectly simple but so, so cute.

Love at First Sight - level 1 badge: eye/ひと目

This is cute in a slightly odd way, and that is also one of my favourite modes of cuteness. I love the creepy cute style, always.

Space Moth DX - foil badge: Like a Moth to a Flame

Okay, this is the best thing ever. It's a moth surrounded by stars and a menacing glow. It's so beautiful. You probably shouldn't look directly at it. This is from a cool game where you play as a moth from space who can shoot lasers. Everything about this is pretty great.

Trace Vector - level 5 badge: Master Pilot

A super adorable badge that imitates scout badges and military medals, as well as neon signs with the cool glow of the galaxy. Real nice.

Midvinter - level 1 badge: Snowflake

This is a cute enough snowflake that speaks for itself, but each Midvinter badge proclaims you a unique and 'special snowflake' in its own fun, snowflake-themed way. Magical and sarcastic. A winning combination.

Aurora Nights - foil badge: Universe

You might at this point notice that a lot of these badges are space-themed. Well, that's because space is amazing and cool. This is a nice representation of the universe, and I really like this red. It's a nice red.

Universe Sandbox - level 2 badge: Moon

Ending on another spacey badge, here's the moon. I like this one because it's very serenely pretty. You can't beat the moon and its gentle, glowing beauty.

Anime: Flip Flappers

Let's take a look at an anime series I've gotten into lately. Flip Flappers is a fun anime which sort of has a magical girl angle and features bright, wide-eyed, and irritatingly energetic mystery girl Papika whisking away reluctant schoolgirl Cocona into some bizarre, surrealist, and occasionally Mad Max-esque landscapes to find a magical stone or something. What I particularly like about Flip Flappers is the way it plays with its settings and introduces surreal and strange creatures and areas that warp not only themselves, but often our protagonists too. One of my favourite moments involved Papika and Cocona growing bunny ears and teeth and experiencing sudden urges to gnaw on things.

The show is somewhat reminiscent of Madoka Magica in the way it plays with its own style, but Flip Flappers is a much more upbeat and fiercely peppy series, echoing Papika's personality as a sort of excitable toddler in a teenager's body. This brings me to the show's faults. I usually don't care for the anime trope of the clueless girl character who acts like a small child, and Papika isn't an exception as such, but I don't find her insufferable. She is annoying in her unrelenting and over the top enthusiasm, but this is lessened for me by the fact that her innocence and wide-eyed wonder isn't generally used as a catalyst to get her into trouble or to put her in awkward situations. She is at least able to recognise any antagonists and to defend herself with flair. My main criticism of the show would be the fan service element, which sometimes comes from Papika's obliviousness to the concept of privacy, but often is just shoehorned in. It feels out of place and is something I find uncomfortable anyway, but other than that at least the girls are generally not stupid - even despite Papika's disposition.

The show focuses nicely on lots of little pleasant moments of downtime. We see Papika and Cocona exploring facets of their environment and taking note of little things around them. This is a nice contrast to their more action-oriented scenes, which I also think are well directed. One thing I really love is the host of peripheral characters and enemies that show up throughout. Our main characters are accompanied by a robot who seems to trundle along in exhaustion after Papika. There's a little creature they're friends with who looks like a cross between a bunny and a dog poo bag. The diversity and animation of some of the characters they come across in their explorations reminded me of Kill la Kill (especially in episode 3 - the same episode that reminded me of Mad Max).

Ultimately I enjoy this series because it has a lot going on in terms of creativity. The strangeness keeps unfolding into something new, and you're never sure what's about to happen. It's a really interesting show that's well-paced, bright, and sprinkled with magic.

7 Books On My 'To Be Read' List

I have built up quite a big list of books I want to read, so in the hopes of encouraging me to get going and dive into some of these stories, I thought I'd pick out some that I'm most interested in reading soon, so without further ado here are seven books I'm excited to start reading soon-ish!

1. I'll Be Right There - Kyung-Sook Shin

This is, from what I've heard, a tense and emotional novel about loss in the midst of the political revolution in 1980s South Korea. I'm not sure if I'm prepared for the emotional turmoil, but it sounds fascinating.

2. The Visitor - K.A. Applegate

This is the second book in the Animorphs series, and I read the first one last year super quickly and really enjoyed it for all its spooky alien goings on and strange transformation mechanics, so I definitely want to get further into the series.

3. The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux

I've never seen any version of Phantom, but lord knows I love spooky stuff and I think the mythos and inspiration I'm aware of concerning this book is really interesting. Despite knowing large portions of the plot already, I'd like to start properly with the book.

4. Ground Zero - Kevin J. Anderson

I'm a big fan of The X-Files and have been slowly working my way through all of its many seasons for a while now, but when I discovered that there are books too I knew I had to try reading them. This one was picked arbitrarily as my first one to read, but I'm sure it will be fun finding my way through the book series.

5. The Troubled Man - Henning Mankell

I love Kurt Wallander stories so much, but I have only read one previous Wallander book in the past, so I am ready to read all of Henning Mankell's books immediately. The mystery, the tone - I love the way these books are written. Humorous in all the write places and densely satisfying.

6. Travelling Light - Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson's non-Moomin books have such a strange, visceral quality to them. They're magical but in a very prosaic way, touching all the realities of nature at once and adding something a little bit surreal in too. I have to read more or her books. Travelling Light is a collection of short stories that evoke the "shifting scenes and restlessness of summer".

7. Where There's Smoke...: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man - William B. Davis

Another X-Files book, because one just wasn't enough. Well, sort of. This is an autobiography detailing the life of Canadian actor William B. Davis, known for playing the mysterious X-Files villain, Cigarette Smoking Man. I enjoy an autobiography once in a while, and I think it's been more or less a year since I read one last, so it's time to read this one.

Which one should be first?

I Love Him

Hi. Here's some pictures of me and my best pal frolicking and basking in the sunlight. I love Kuro Bananya more than breathing, cheddar cheese, and all the flowers in the world.

We are definitely not plotting any evil schemes, so please do not alert any authorities. Thank you.

He looks so comfy inside the banana skin. Maybe I should get a sleeping bag that looks like a banana skin so we can match. A solid plan.

Helpful Blue Animals

Here are lots of blue creatures of all sorts to encourage you in all your endeavours. May their wise words fill you with determination and vigour. May their colour scheme calm you. May the branches rustle, may the flowers bloom, and may the dogs make very cute noises and absolutely no alarming barks whatsoever.

Hurt, Hope, Humanity, & Mad Max: Fury Road

Entertainment is a weird behemoth of culture for us. It reflects everything in our lives. Our convictions, our fears, our passions. Everything human is rewoven in fiction. So why is it that we're so obsessed with all the horrors of life, weaving every atrocity and betrayal and individual action of harm into so many of our stories? The stories we watch to be entertained, to enjoy a tale, to indulge in an hour and a half of escapism, filled with variations of suffering. Why is that a thing? It's not a question I'm going to answer here, but it's a question that's been pertinent in my mind in recent years.

I understand, of course, that every aspect of existence should be questioned, discussed, and generally thought about. Making and sharing stories is also one of the main ways in which we communicate and make sense of our lives, so cruelty and pain in entertainment and media make sense in that context - as a framework for making sense of the existence of those things.

We're certainly obsessed with our perceptions and feelings. That's why we love fantasy and excitement, and why so many wish-fulfilment romantic comedies are so popular. Maybe the idea of the tortured artist turning their pain into art comes from this, and from the fact that there is a huge amount of media which focuses on human suffering, ideas of alienation, loss, revenge, brutality, abuse, etc. I mean, how many war films exist? It's a lot. Also, the Bridget Jones series, which is pretty much about a sad woman making a lot of truly awful romantic and sexual mistakes. Seriously, I love Bridget, but I clench my teeth most of the way through her stories. I unclench my teeth when Hugh Grant gets punched.

Maybe this stuff all comes from us, as adults, trying to reconcile ourselves and our existences with the knowledge of (and experience of) all the world's harm. Our loss of innocence, our coming of age (also a hugely popular film subject) is our introduction to hopelessness, to the inevitability of not only pain, but the way it is so nonsensically inflicted. You are no longer pure and full of potential when you have grown up and been touched by the full knowledge of what it is to be human, to have the history of humanity inside you and all around you, to have the the naivete you once had buffed off like dry skin on the sole of your foot.

A representation of humanity's chaos and darkness.

When I remember my childhood, I remember a sense of unease and a sense of not belonging. My innocence manifested itself in a lot of confusion. There were too many things that didn't make sense. I had a kind of strange relationship between hope and hopelessness going on in my head. As an adult, and after a while of being one, I am better at accepting the moral confusion of being what I am, and what we all are together. I am better at reconciling the chaos. The sense of unease is maybe still around, but very different. I think that maybe innocence is a similar thing to hope. They cling together. You lose innocence when you realise the true way that everything is, and all too often that hope leaves too, and we plunge ourselves into the chaos and the destructive aspects of ourselves. We focus on them, we relish in them, we dance around the flames.

And this is a big reason why I liked Mad Max: Fury Road so much, because despite its focus on suffering and destruction and how those things mark us, it did so in a way so different from other films - it did so with hope. It is a story very much about humanity, and a story very much about hope, and to me it treats the chaos and the hurt within humanity in a way that uses the pain and suffering to propel the viewer into a place of hope. A place where the victims neither rescind their traumatic experiences, nor are relegated to being defined by them.


I'm not sure what this post was initially supposed to be, but I've been thinking a lot about cruelty, and innocence and corruption, and media focuses, and depictions of violence and abuse and all of that, and I just had to splurge this out here. So I don't know, these were my thoughts. Hope is valuable. We need to hold onto to our hope, I think. I don't think I knew how to do that as a kid and as an adolescent. Growing up was scary. Hell, growing up is still scary, but I know how to hope now. In no small part thanks to Harry Potter and Furiosa (who I promise not to write a crossover fanfic about).

Diary: 2016 Resurrected

This is hilarious and awful. I've been writing 2016 on my diary entries for days and I've only just noticed. My last diary post was full of 2016s and I had no idea. I've been writing the wrong year since the second of January.

So I guess 2017 is going to be a year of acute humiliation. Fine. Maybe I'll just give up and start writing random number sequences from now on. I can have as many imaginary years as I like. A brilliant idea. I now declare it the year 827.

I've been mostly watching endless film theory and review videos, and also Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête, which I love. I really have a passion for spooky things, and poetic things, and maybe magic mirrors. This film felt in part like an art film, but one with incredible pacing and design flourishes in all the right places.

I also went to see a pantomime, which reminded me how great pantomimes are (especially when there is a rat king singing a Queen song).

Kitchen Roll Art

Once when I was little I tossed some dried up, lidless pens into the wastepaper bin, which had a piece of kitchen roll at the bottom. Later that day I discovered that they had created this collection of splodges from the ink leaching out. I decided to put the rest of my pens in the bin to see what pattern they'd create. It was a bit magical.

I thought I'd try the same thing again, years later, and see what kinds of fun colour blob fights I could witness.

Behold, the chaos of the universe of colour as it expands.

A fun way to waste some time.