What’s Up? (2/6/17)

January 2017
I’ve been away for a month, but I’ve had things in order so I guess there wasn’t much to talk about. Coming into 2017 there were just a few things on my to-do list, and all of January was spent focusing on those things. 1) Any weight gained during the holidays has been lost, 2) I went and saw the movies I was meaning to see, La La Land, and Rogue One, and 3) I started putting myself out there again, trying to be and outward social presence.

I’m more physically active than ever before, I’m trying to be more social as well — so explain why “Gaming” is the headline here. Well, I suppose, given that I have lost weight, and that I’m making friends outside of the “Pitt Alumni” group, it helps to have something fun and concurrent to do at home alone. Though I haven’t owned a home gaming console in years, and have stuck to a modest laptop for the better part of 5 years, I have recommitted myself to enjoying the hobby of video games more regularly. I’ve been listening to, and watching, nearly 10 hours of Giant Bomb content a week, since 2008, so I never really left the world of video games, even if I stopped playing them as much. Though that being said, I feel like I could probably go for writing a review of Pokemon Sun (2016).

I did something very drastic this weekend. I tidied my apartment with the help of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Now, typical home tidying would have me finding new ways to hide clutter (shove this there, hide this in the closet, kick this under the couch). I exaggerate a little, but typically that’s how I’d “clean.” With the help of a little audiobook, I discarded most of my clutter, rather than hiding it. What’s more, she helped me redefine many of my possessions as clutter.

Shirts that were going unused, or that had no longer brought me joy, were in my closet for no reason. They were clutter. I’d say my apartment has about 30% fewer clothes in it now, than it did on Friday. I have not completed my work, though you’re supposed to do it all in one fell swoop. The hardest thing to do, would be to let go of some of these books. If a book does not make me happy, then why keep it? I know this will be the hardest step, because I think having a full book shelf is what makes me happy to have a bookshelf at all.

Dry Month
There’s a theme here; less is more. Less clutter, more happiness. Less weight, more movement. Less boredom, more fun. So something I’ve been meaning to try for a while is a dry, alcohol-free, sober month. Why do that? I love cocktails, I like inebriation, I like the social aspects of it!

Well, because less is more? And to an extent, I think drinking a little less, or none at all for a whole month, will give me greater appreciation for it, and greater clarity for how I handle things like stress, and what to do when I’m bored on a weekend. It’s too late to make February my dry month, but I’m eyeballing March. 31 Days of sobriety should also lead to a massive drop in calories consumed. I’m not committing to it yet, but when I do I have to make it public; making it public makes it harder to back down from it.

That could be part of why I keep a public blog like this. A private diary has no stakes. You can confess and make promises, but it’s private, so your confessions and promises only matter as much as you care about yourself? If I tell you, anonymous internet, that I’m going to stop drinking for a month, then I’d be lying if I didn’t follow through. Here’s another public promise: This February I will be reviewing Neon Indian’s “VEGA Intl. Night School” (2015) and La Roux’s “Trouble in Paradise” (2014).

“Olly Muk” Pokemon Illustrations Inspired by Olly Moss

Olly Muk Final

If you’re not familiar with Olly Moss’ work, you should go check it out, because it’s incredible. I believe a lot of people would describe his work as “minimalist,” though one should be careful to remember that minimalism is not the same as “lacking detail.” Anyways, Olly Moss has these fantastic illustrations of Pokemon that use interesting color palettes and gradients that breath new life into these decade-old designs. Olly Moss worked on Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle; the classics, but I wanted to try my hand at recreating some of my favorites: the poison type Pokemon.

Grimer was the first I worked on: since they’re blobs of toxic goo, it made sense to work with them first, as they’d be composed of simple shapes. There’s a single body, two arms, eyes, a mouth; basic stuff, and then I gave it some ripples in the goo in order to add a final touch. I think Grimer came out fairly well; cute little guy, a good start. Zubat was my second piece, and gave me a chance to work with more complicated shapes, and three separate gradients. Getting the tails on Zubat just right was the hardest part, because they had to be skinny, and equally so. If one was just a few pixels larger than the other, you’d notice, and even in the final product they aren’t perfect – but close enough. In Weezing, the final piece, I reduced the number of gradients down to two, but the number of shapes went up significantly. I had a lot of fun turning Weezing from this suffering Pokemon into one that looked happy, and layering each part of Weezing’s body proved a valuable exercise in object management.

This was a fun project, and I love it when learning new techniques is fun.