News Update: 5/18/17

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything that wasn’t a review, I think. I’m sorry about that. Real life is… uh. Real life. Blurgh.

I swear I’m going to start writing again soon. I’m managing small little pieces, which isn’t much but still proves to be better than nothing. Mostly I’ve just been working (three jobs, and one of them outweighs the other in terms of physical stress) and relaxing, reading things and playing videogames. Watching movies. *motion* It does wonders for bringing in strange tidbits and thoughts. I have so many ideas for things to write, some of which actually belong to things I’ve already got started, but finding time is…

Well. I’m trying, is the thing.

On the outside of real life, I’m getting a tooth yanked next Tuesday, and I am prepared to suffer for the next month for it. Which means watching what I eat, being careful what I do, and trying to keep my core temperature down for the foreseeable future. It also means I’ll be sleeping a lot and trying not to accidentally OD on the painkillers. (Reference: Once was enough, it gave me amazing concepts for hallucinations and strange dreams, but also, once was enough.)

But all that means I’m going to have a little bit more sit down time to relax, at least in the early days, even if I’ll spend most of that sleeping. At least the trip up means that I’ll be able to scratch out a little bit of writing. Worldbuilding, at least. I’m trying to break down several fics and get them moving, and I’ve made progress but progress is slow. *eyes them*

At least it’s progress. And it’s more than I did in the first four months, so I’m okay with a little momentum to start. Momentum, after all, builds up.

Up and up and up.

Sidenote, did you know there is an I Love You Wall in Paris? I didn’t. It was a lovely thing to trip over doing research for something entirely different.

–Natasha

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Shop Rec: Rawr Dragon Creations

One of the things I like to do when I can’t make my words behave is go window-shopping. I can’t actually buy anything, as I’m currently broke and out of space (what I wouldn’t give for a Bag of Holding,) but every so often I come across truly interesting bits of trivia or absolutely amazing shops. One of those shops is Rawr Dragon Creations.

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Rawr Dragons sculpts itty bitty desktop critters by hand, meaning there are no two pieces exactly alike. According to research, a lot of her dragons are inspired by plucking d20s out of a hat, which goes to choose a color scheme and then spirals outwards from there. Sculpting isn’t my area of expertise, so I can’t go to say much about the process, and I hesitate to ask the artist in case they accidentally leak a trade secret!

Although they do post a lot of in-progress works, so you can see dragons taking shape piece by piece. I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything half as good, so it’s a good thing Rawr Dragons is doing it instead– the artist has way more experience than I do, and every day of it shows! I think one day I might have to save up some money and buy a piece. You know, right after I get a display case. I wonder if she’d sign a card and ship it with?

Of course, there probably wouldn’t be a large market if she did just one type of dragon. I understand the above is a ‘curler,’ and isn’t she a beautiful thing? I can’t even start on how delicate the fins look, and ‘delicate’ isn’t usually a thing I associate with sculpting. Usually you think strong flower vases or something, but I think the edges of these might cut me if I ran my finger along the edge! How cool is that?

Look at this little guy? Wouldn’t you love to find him in the pumpkin patch? Speaking of.. Apparently Rawr Dragons has one of those too. I think these are keychains? But they’re super cool for leafy little orange emoticons. I’ll take the little one in the back, second from the left!

I’m not sure what the going price for Rawr Dragons’ work is right now, but even if it’s a little out of your price range, it’s definitely super cool to go browse! Take a peek, and tell her I sent you!

–Natasha

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Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

On the list of new age remakes I was leery about, Beauty and the Beast sat pretty high. It wasn’t the most special of my Disney Princess phase as a child, but it was important— and it colored much of me as an adult, up to and including my ‘objects have personality’ obsession.

Disney covered a lot of my formative years, alright?

But I probably shouldn’t have been the least bit apprehensive. The remake was amazing. They did some minor changes, rearranging the song layout and adding and removing some of them to better fit the video. Other minor issues were done, such as with the town, trying to add more impact to why Belle was such an outcast, I suppose. It did well.

Keeping with my No Spoilers, I can’t detail to you a bunch of why I liked this movie. However, you might have heard that they changed the Dress. The dress I can talk about, because it’s been all over the internet, and it’s gotten a lot of flack. But honestly, the new movie’s dress is gorgeous. Simple pictures cannot do it justice, and it feels more like Belle to wear something like this than the traditional ballgown from the animated version. It’s covered in real gold leaf; it’s not simply yellow. I recommend watching it in high definition on the big screen, but if you have to wait until it’s out on disk, HD is probably a must.

Disney says that they’re going to do some more remakes, and I heard the rumor that the next one is Mulan. With Mulan being my favorite, I confess to being worried about it– but Beauty and the Beast has alleviated some of my fears.

–Natasha

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Movie Review: Assassin’s Creed (2016)

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Assassin’s Creed (2016)

Following the story of Callum Lynch, descendant of Spanish Assassin Aguilar, the Assassin’s Creed movie provides another installment of the series of the same name, as well as marking the first Blockbuster– but not the first movie of the franchise, which gleefully sprawls from a whole slew of video games to novels, comic books to fan-made movies and animated shorts.

The Assassin’s Creed series has proven to be a durable sort to cover multiple media, and good enough to attach deeply to many multitudes of people throughout the world. But while we’re not here to talk about the series on the whole today, just this one movie, there is a little context you have to know about it.

Assassin’s Creed is based on the idea (among other ideas) that through the use of specific technological advancements, the lives of our ancestors can be re-lived by tapping into the genetic memory they pass down through our DNA. In Assassin’s Creed, the machine that lets us do this is called the Animus. Chiefly the Animus is built and used by the Templar Order, who are at war with the Assassin’s Brotherhood and.. uh. Well. What they’re trying to do overall is a little fuzzy, and I wont spoil what they’re trying to do in the movie because of my no-spoilers policy.

Which is, incidentally, why no one has seen this review yet, even though I bought and watched this show weeks ago. I was just way too excited and couldn’t figure out how to discuss the movie without spoiling something. So I had to sit on myself or risk word-vomiting to the whole world. Which would have been downright unacceptable.

So I can’t talk overmuch about the plot.

But I can talk about how much I love what they did with it. I admit to having been a little unsure originally, because game to movie adaptions are done with about as much skill as book to movie adaptions, but this turned out really, really well. The movie manages to stand alone, though having context of the games and novels enriches the flavor somewhat. The technological progression is done well, too– I was glad to see how the Animus evolved. I was also glad they picked a character who hadn’t got much play in books, games, or comics. It really gave us a chance to flesh out the world somewhat, and it has permitted fans to continue world building on their own without feeling like all their work has been sabotaged by the creators.

As to graphics, well. My brother could probably tell you more about how smooth it is between real film and computer generated graphics in the movie, but if I didn’t know that there’s really just some things we can’t pull off in real life yet, I wouldn’t have any idea there were any comp-gen. Scene transitions and how it’s set into the show are really smooth and seamless, which just goes to show how far we’ve come in the film age.

For an Assassin’s Creed movie, there was significantly less blood than I thought there might be. Less is more, show don’t tell, are both good descriptors, and the movie did well on both points, providing just enough of an info dump– spread out far enough, no less– to give the viewers an understanding of the overall history for the world the movie is set in. It makes it accessible for the people who’ve never touched any of the rest, which is extremely important from a marketing standpoint.

That said, don’t assume it’s safe just on my word about it. If you’re unsure if you want to watch it, you can always have a trusted friend watch it first to make sure nothing will cause any issues. Or if you’re worried about your children, you can always watch it to ensure it’s at a grade you’re comfortable with them watching. But I do highly recommend this movie, both to hard-core fans and newcomers alike.

–Natasha

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Book Review: Red Giants and White Dwarfs by Robert Jastrow

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Red Giants and White Dwarfs by Robert Jastlow
Published by: Signet Books, The New American Library, Copywrited 1967, 1969, first printing June 1969
Review Date: 3/16/2017

So this is a… fifty year old science book? It’s not a work of fiction, that’s for certain, and it covers scientific topics and details I missed, somewhere in my schooling, assuming that it was in my schooling at all. Although it does manage to break it down into words I can understand, since the topics are quite often somewhat beyond me. I didn’t do well in science class. Which doesn’t mean a lot to a bunch of people, but being able to understand the science as Jastlow writes it, despite it being a little outdated by modern design, is still a huge accomplishment for me. So he did well just on that venue alone.

However, I’m not sure any of the science is wrong. It is science we’re talking about, after all. Nothing he mentions in the book feels anything less than established fact, except where he points out that he’s mentioning theories. And even admitting the potential for being wrong is a huge step in the right direction. I’ll have to do some research one day to see if any of the mentioned theories panned out one way or another. Even though, as it’s a book about how the solar system was made to how human beings came into existence, and we haven’t had a lot of breakthroughs in those factions of science, it’s probably not far off the mark even today.

If you enjoy old science books, or you like seeing how people viewed the world fifty years ago, or you just really, really want to see how a well put-together science text should be, I highly recommend this one. (Bonus! It’ll also help you decide how to make a magical textbook, too.)

Jastlow does good work. I should check to see if there’s anything else he’s done. I’m awfully curious.

–Natasha

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News – 3/15/17

I haven’t done a news update in a while, have I? A little over a month now, right, and the last thing you guys heard was a desperate bid for help.

I’ve told almost everyone, everywhere, the end result of that. We pulled it off, and I am beyond over the moon about it. Not in the least because of all the stress that is gone, but because I can finally return my attention to other avenues of life beyond that stress. My studies, my writing, my crafts.

That being said, I don’t have a lot to update news-wise right now. I have my job, which I… may not speak of, for it is like He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named in many respects, and I do have a fondness for not going to bed hungry. My writing gigs do not buy food or pay bills, though with the lack of stress I can turn my attention to them too. I might try a little tonight.

Old Man Winter is trying super hard to get his last few licks in before Mother Nature kicks him out for nine months, as evidenced by the magnificent blizzard in the North-East right now and the great deal of cold in my area. We’re only getting the very edge of the storm that’s sitting on the rest of you, and I’m honestly not sorry for that. The cold makes my joints ache and I need those for above-mentioned work.

Two of my kittens were adopted. Puff, born last October, and his older sister Cinder went to my cousin’s farm, where by all accounts they are fitting in very well with the clowder of kittens she already possessed. Puff’s siblings finally have names: Fuji, Vesuvius, and Kilauea. I ran out of dragon-themed base words and went for mountains (re: volcanos) instead. Kilauea likes the house dogs and plays well with animals Much Bigger Than He. Meanwhile Fuji and Versuvius are generally quiet but spend a lot of time trying to play Hunter on each other. They also have great fun murdering, and losing, toy bells.

I feel like that’s going to be vaguely upsetting when I finish getting my room rearranged and they keep me up all night, but I’ll get used to it.

I did manage to find something amazing though. I found out my top favorite author on the planet has a WordPress, and I can stalk them dutifully and gobble up everything they have to offer. Also, ALSO– they do original fiction? Yes! I want a book. I want a signed book. I will die happy. (I could write an entire article about why this author makes me happy and how much they’ve taught me just by posting their fanfiction online, but that’s obviously a different article.)

I’m going to try super hard to return to a regular posting schedule, folks. Cross my fingers I can pull it off. If nothing else, I might be able to return properly to posting little one thousand word piece-work for you to enjoy. I had a lot of fun with that.

I have missed writing.

–Natasha

News Update 2/4/17

GoFundMe – YouCaring

I’ve updated the fundraiser description(s) to help clarify some things, but since I’ve been quiet on the update front for a while, I’ve decided to come and tell people what’s up.

I got a job. I managed to get back in to my place of employment after some time off, and I’m making money again, but it’s not going to be enough to pay it off in time if they decide we have to pay it off by March. I just don’t make that much money, and even with the rest of us pulling it in, it’s not enough. I wish it were.

So I still need your help. Please, if you can donate, please do so. Even five dollars is a huge help, and could keep us from losing our home.

–Natasha