Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holy Moly! SB's Blogging Again?

2014 Belle the Cat recap:

View from Ishnala
I started this year in the same way I've started pretty much every other page in my adult life - reflecting on the past, forecasting the future, shoring myself up with good words and inspiration in the form of quotes from great people, ("Help others. - D. Lama)... and getting it all wrong.

By the end of 2014, I told myself, I wanted to have a professional head shot. I wanted to have an IMBD credit.

I actually had three head shots taken. None turned out looking anything like me.

I embarked on a path to help a friend with a personal creative endeavor. In January we met for coffee and a first discussion. In April we started fundraising. In June we started shooting. We continued filming in July, August, then on into September, October and November, and despite having this in my head as a "summer project" we are still not done. (So no credit, yet.) 

I thought I wanted to run charity races: the Zoo run, the Depot to Depot, the Fruit Loop. I wanted to learn to bow hunt - to harvest my own meat.
Maybe I should have tried the walk.

I wanted to make songs with my husband in a silly band we called Kittens On Roombas. I wanted to have more backyard parties. I wanted to go to the State Fair. I wanted to go to conventions.

I did none of this.

I did garden, very lackadaisically, which is how I think I am going to garden from now on. Whatever grows, grows. I spent a lot on the water, which was nice, although I will think twice before floating an 11 ft. rowboat 25 miles downstream again (even in summer, it gets dark eventually). I donated to places I believed in, and set out a plan for 2015 donations.

As much as I plan as much as I think as much as I pontificate, I realized I will never have "extra" time.

I get high off of being the master of my own destiny, so I will be content with the enjoyment of deciding not to go to the state fair other than rearranging my schedule or sacrificing another event (in this case, a film shoot in the fabled Pabst brewery tunnels) to have the experience of going.

I tried some new restaurants: Sardine, Ishnala, Samba.

I ate a lot of fish fry.

I watched a lot of football.

I attended Fireball with the remnants of the Dane101 crew, a house burn, Scaryland, a 75th bday party, Fruitsfest, Irishfest, Focus on Goats, The Wisconsin Film Fest, a Roller Derby bout, a hockey game, the Zoo (2x in Madison, 1 in Chicago), Vegan Fest, a 5th bday party for twins at a pizza place, a Hawaiian BBQ work picnic, and The Amazing Acrocats.

I volunteered for the local library's 115th anniversary.

I wrote a blog post for a friend's blog.

I visited Cleveland, Disneyland, Sybaris, Portland, Aldo Leopald's shack, listened to Honky Tonk at the Shitty Barn with my aunt.

I made a reflective vest.

Got new car ties.

My cat Jackie chan died.

My sister's friend Danny was murdered by someone he was trying to sell his Playstation to.

I didn't go to APT.

I saw Warhorse, Naked in Amazo, Dorthy in Wonderland, The Dixie Swim Club and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

I visited my 102 year old great aunt (she was only 101 then).

I swam a lot - at the Y, at the gym, in the ocean, at hotel pools.

Ocean took my glasses; got new glasses

Got Lance.

Got a new job.

I ate John West Kippers.

I updated my passport.

So what am I doing now? Reflecting on the past, forecasting the future, shoring myself up with good words and inspirationin the form of quotes from great people ("Make good art." - N.Gaiman)... in preparation for getting it all wrong again. Apparently it's what I do.

R.I.P, Jackie.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Wisconsin Film Fest 2014

Back on March 7, we had a little get together for former Dane101 contributors. That was one day after the Wisconsin Film Fest schedule came out. Since 2010, I have blanket-covered the festival, seeking out trailer-a-days, tweeting my p.o.v.s, interviewing, podcasting and pre- and re-viewing everything from Feeding Fish to Bellboys. With the loss of the D101 outlet, I struggle to figure out exactly what to do with my time this coming weekend.

First off, I thought I would share the movies I'm interested in attending:

Friday 4/4 --
To Be Takei - 4:30pm - Union South
R100 - 9:15pm - Sundance 6

Saturday 4/5 --
Tricked - 5:30 - Union South
Wisconsin Own shorts (rush) - 6:15- :LVM
Bucket of Blood - 9:30 - Union South

Sunday 4/6--
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter - 5:30 - Sundance 6
The Congress - 6pm - Oventure

Monday 4/7 --
The Congress - 6pm - Sundance 6

Secondly, here are some other movies I could be talked into:
Food Patriots
Rent a Family
Stray Dogs
Burt's Buzz
Wisconsin Rising
The Lumberjack at 100
Dostoevsky behind bars
Approaching the Elephant
Le Weekend
The Sacrament
The Overnighters

And finally, things seem to have come full circle, as it were. I am currently spending most of my free time promoting and helping produce The New World Horror, and upcoming Wisconsin-based, progressive-minded zombie flick staring some of my friends and yours from Madison and the surrounding area. Watch for our fliers at the fest!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

So a zombie walks into a bar... and throws a party

Somehow I find myself, along with 5 other brave souls, in the midst of producing an independent horror movie.

The synopsis: 

"The New World Horror tells the story of eight strangers who find life turned upside down when a group of tea party protesters release a zombie virus from hell. It’s Night of the Living Dead-meets-Evil Dead as the survivors band together to fend off the approaching End Times."

There will be many people involved - actors, costumers, makeup artists, editors - BUT FIRST, and foremost, and most importantly of all, is YOU! Yes, you. 

Do you support crazy jerks who go out in sub zero Wisconsin weather in short sleeves to shoot a teaser trailer?

Are you glad that there are people in the world who spend their weekends perfecting realistic cuts, bites and blisters (without applying knives, teeth or blowtorches to actual flesh)?

Do you want more of this in your life?! 

Also, do you like rock music?

If any of this rings true to you, then you, yes YOU! should get ready for two things:

1. The New World Horror  will soon launch an IndiGoGo campaign. Watch the website for details and check it out to see if you can spare a few bucks for this devoted crew. Just a few samples of perks that will be revealed: for $5, you can become a "blood donor," get your name in the credits, and help assure the above special FX will continue to weep, spew and spurt throughout production. For a little more, become an actual zombie in the film, kill off a character, or for the ultimate experience, bring the director to your Wisconsin home or business to screen the movie! 

2. If you are in the Madison, Wisconsin area, The New World Horror Happy Hour Launch Party kicks off on Tuesday, March 25. Come out to The High Noon Saloon for drinky-treats, the above-mentioned bands, as well as other musical interludes by Harris Lemburg (who among other things, is the organist for the Madison Mallards baseball team): 

If nothing else, please LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter. Your support is extremely important and I thank you for the bottom of my heart for anything you can do for us! Thank you!!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Guest Review on Rage Quitter! Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

I had the opportunity to submit a review of the newest entry into one of my favorite video game franchises of all time to the blog Rage Quitter earlier this month. The Ace Attorney series, a collection of lawyer simulator games set in a wacky world of whip-wielding prosecutors and mystical artifacts, has been in stasis here in the States since 2010. Then, last October, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, the 5th game in the main series and the 7th game overall, came to the Nintendo 3DS as a digital download.

Check out the whole thing RIGHT HERE!

Friday, January 24, 2014

On fighting the good fight, film, and onion dogs-10 memorable posts

Before I get to my list, let me just say that my 4 years and 25 weeksas a contributor, editor, and board member of Dane101 has been an exceptional experience. For me, fighting the good fight meant supporting the idea of a collaboratively run media organization. Whether that was writing articles about local video game producers, taking tickets at aBroom Street Session concert, or waking up at 5:00 a.m. to dig through the day’s news for Breakfast Links, I did it to be a productive part of the whole. It was part fun and part frustration; it was part work and part play and a whole lot of learning experience.

I learned the ins and outs of crowdsourcing and shared content. I learned about image attribution and what it meant to be on the receiving end of unsolicited material. I learned about muffin tops. I also learned about paying attention – to details, to politics, and to the voices of our neighbors.

Dane101 was an outlet for an ever changing array of voices on a variety of topics, more than I have ever seen anywhere else. You could read about the local reaction to the death of Michael Jackson while downloading a free Christmas album. You could debate whether or not Brett Favre was going to stay retired while planning your Fire Ball cosplay. The non-sequitur of articles and posts was mind-boggling at times: classical music reviews shared screen space with a series on local sexual health and the adult entertainment businesses. It grew to its most visible point in 2011, with the mashup of protests and Wisconsin Film Fest coverage vying for eyeballs:

That approach, as opposed to a more focused one, led to the insightful, interesting, and plain zany posts that I’ve included on my list. It may also have contributed to the end of Dane101, because when your focus is every- and anything, it can be a hard sell. Still, if it’s true that the journey is its own destination, this has been one heck of a trip. Thanks to all the people who welcomed me aboard: Jesse, Emily, Shane, Michael, especially, and Christie, Mark, Scott, Adam, Christian, Jason, Kat, Laura, Stacy and all the rest (don’t be strangers, y’all!).

So here they are, my own personal 10 memorable Dane101 posts, in no particular order (except for #1-which, sorry everyone, is my favorite of all time).
Date: 4/30/2009
Author: Jesse Russell
Why it is memorable: This was "the little post that could". Once upon a time, Jesse ordered a shirt and tracked its incredible journey. This isn't so much memorable in and of itself, but the post somehow comes up in Google searches a lot and has been one of the top ten hit-getters on Dane101 since it debuted. 

9. Title: Breakfast Links (Blinks)
Date: We aimed for every week day. I started only about a year ago. My day was Tuesday.
Author: Editors and some hearty volunteers
Why it is memorable: When I finally started doing Blinks, there were years of experience behind the daily ritual of combing the local media for interesting items. I was forwarded a list and would painstakingly work through the links, also being careful not to repeat something that had already been listed the day before. But I have to admit, 1. I found this very beneficial both on the days I was doing the combing as well as the days I referred to the Blinks to see a snapshot of what was happening, and 2. my biggest joy was looking up the items to mention in the "on this day" section. (I learned that most of the time it's sports scores and battles.)
Date: 2/14/2011
Why it is memorable: On Valentine's Day 2011, hundreds of Valentines were delivered to the Governor of Wisconsin from the University of Wisconsin teachers, students, faculty and staff. It's a moment early on in the protest movement that I won't forget. Also on this day, Dane101 published a great round up of coverage of the bill.
Date: 10/16/2009
Author: Chris Staples
Why it is memorable: Before I got to know him as the proprietor of the S*tty Barn, I read this entry by Chris regarding his ownership of Furthermore Beer. As a craft brew fan, and as a person who loves to see the promotion and success of all things cool from Wisconsin, I was interested to hear the background and arguments surrounding this bill. On 4/28/2010, the tax failed to pass pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 1.

6. Title: Wisconsin Film Fest
Why it is memorable: OK, I cheated; I could not choose just one link for the WI Film Fest coverage. Every year, Dane101 worked to cover the festival with as much wo/manpower as it could muster, and every year we added something new or changed something up. From live Tweeting, to videos of the Q&As, to interviews before and during the Fest, this was not only one of the most exhilarating times to be a part of Dane101, it was also one of the most fun times to be in Madison, WI.
Date: 7/2/2010
Why it is memorable: Honestly, you have to ask? Just go watch it.
Date: 4/5/2010
Author: Emily Mills
Why it is memorable: Not only did this post crash the site after Mr. Gaiman linked to it, but I had a personal hand running the actual event. It was magical.

3. Title: ALRC Rundowns
Date: Monthly
Why it is memorable: I never knew you could learn so much about a town by reading about their alcohol license problems.

2. Title: Events!
Why it is memorable: There are too many to list, so again I had to cheat. What's Your Damage (WYD) brought back everyone's favorite high school horror open mic after an absence of a number of years. From DJ Nick Nice at the Tron Party came one of my favorite Daft Punk mixes ever. The Fire Ball Masquerade was / is / continues to be the most outstanding dance-y, costume-y, late night dress up party around, and Halloweekend brought the world this amazing photo:

Photo by Janet Campbell
Date: 12/21/2009
Author: Adam Schabow
Why it is memorable: I don't know why this 13 minute video sticks out so keenly in my memory. I had only been back in the Madison area for a short time, had just bought a house, just got married, and was settling in to do some real writing, and then this was posted, in all its unsettling glory. Actually, I think it was one of the comments, calling out the motley crew and questioning their motives that got me, and the subsequent posting of even more ridiculousness to the thread. Long live Onion Dog.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Xmas Cards 2013

Some of my family and friends received altered cards this year from Recycle All The Things publishing. They were a combination of reused Christmas cards of olde, some free cards from various charities, and at least one issue of Popular Mechanics from 1962 cut to ribbons.

I apologize to anyone who got these, or to those who wanted them that didn't get them. I promise to do better with cards next year (in fact, I have already started on the design, which is turning out joyously bittersweet--suitable for the end of the year holiday season.)

I might save this issue of PM for envelope decor.

Click any card for a larger view

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Some articles I will eventually comment on:

What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Food 

Be sure to read the "Myth: Mandatory GE labeling would increase consumer choice."

"All certified-organic products don't contain any GE ingredients. The United States' current voluntary labeling system probably provides more choice for consumers. ...Consumers can assume that virtually all unlabeled food products may contain engineered ingredients if any ingredient is made from corn or soybeans. While this system is not perfect and may lead to consumer confusion and some misleading or inaccurate label claims, Americans probably have more choice at the grocery store than consumers in any country with mandatory labeling."

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed by Commitments 

Good stuff--Sometimes you face impossible tasks. "Trying to defeat reality is an exercise in futility... reality always wins."
Get a handle on how long tasks take.
Get more sleep (I would add, and more exercise)
There is an intrinsic benefit of routines. Reduce the sheer number of conscious decisions you must make every day.

Farmer's Fight With Monsanto Reaches The Supreme Court
"Bowman uses Roundup Ready soybeans for his main crop, which he plants in the spring, and he signs a standard agreement not to save any of his harvest and replant it the next year. Monsanto demands exclusive rights to supply that seed." But for his second, more risky planting, "... he bought some ordinary soybeans from a small grain elevator where local farmers drop off their harvest." He planted these. Monsanto says this is illegal.

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling
Another one just chock full of good stuff.
#7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
Also 2 and 8.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

19 Things To Stop Doing In Your 20s article

The above article was posted to Facebook by a roller derby enthusiast, who made mention of the fact that many of the items on the list could equally apply to Life or Derby.

Some gems (and I think the title could have been 19 things to stop doing ... whenever) - somewhat paraphrased:
  • Stop trying to get away with work that is "good enough"
  • Don't procrastinate risky, innovative decisions. Make drastic change
  • Stop being stingy - explore what is important and start spending your money on it
 The list came from a group made up of a bunch of male college friends, "The Buried Life," an MTV show and a book. And so while I like #1 (if you don't do something well, you shouldn't be doing it at all), I also think doing something is better than doing nothing a lot of the time. So what if I am not the greatest ever blogger? Is it a waste of my time to share my thoughts? We can't all be the best at everything we do (see article on mediocrity.)

#2 (above now, not in the actual article) strikes me as very MTV--but, isn't there something to be said to having a steady paycheck and getting into a 401k early? Yeah, not really "fun" per se, but aren't we always being bombarded about how stupid we are if we only look at the present condition, and how horrible humans are at planning for risk in the future? Then, if we actually set up our lives to prepare for ones future self at the sacrifice of present day acquisitions (#3, although I did buy some books I'd been procrastinating on after reading this), we are berated for not living life to the fullest!

I guess I should just join Derby so I can figure this all out.    

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ohayocon 2013 - teenagers still rule the world

Last month I made my nearly-annual trek to the Columbus, Ohio anime convention Ohayocon 13 (I think I missed one or two since 2006).

I adore anime conventions. Though I've attended sci fi, fantasy, comic, writing, steam punk and a myriad of everything-sub-and-pop-culture cons, all of which have their own geeky pleasures and attractions, anime cons always seem to convey an overwhelming sense of cuteness and affection (although, humorously, I recently re-read the 2007 manga series Dramacon and chortled a bit at the multiple references to "glomping" the practice of which now a days, I'm sure due to numerous lawsuits, seems to be almost completely dead.) This may be a product of their relatively young demographic,which can also bring an undertone of adolescent immaturity, angst, drama, and "@!#$%OMG! too-many-feelingz!?>!## :-P !!"

Which, in a way, I welcome. Since I am not a pre-teen (or do you prefer tween?) or teenager any longer, I really have difficulty remembering the heart-wrenching, soul rending, all-encompassing love, hate, disdain, and rapturous glory of friendship that I know I felt at that time in my life (and have the amazingly bad poetry to prove). Chalk it up to hormones leveling out or whatever, but still, I don't think it is good to distance oneself too far from what is a huge portion of the population, as well as a great and powerful force in the world.

Honestly. Young people, especially those who go to conventions, have money and they have time--two things a lot of the rest of the population doesn't have. And they spend both very emotionally--influencing what the rest of us see, hear, and read as well as what we are sold. Along with a need to belong (to a group of people outside of their family that represents their individuality), this age group (say, 12-29), is rife with creativity, as is evidenced by the costumes, artwork, and, well, simply hilarious crazy ass shit on parade at Ohayocon.

And even if you don't watch anime, or even know what it is, there is still some great times to be had  at Ohayocon.

  Penguin Drum

Rainbow Dash

Persona 3

 Trucy Wright

Jean Armstrong

 Dark Souls

(Where else can you see a mermaid wheeled through the food court on an office chair?)

I admit, most of the images above relate to costuming, since that is one of the brightest, boldest, most colorful (and therefore most visual) examples of what I love about Ohayocon. But there was more than that.

The vendor room, or dealer's room, was ripe with licensed material, video games, manga, DVDs, imported goodies and more. I ended up getting a Chi shirt whereas my sister bought the most Ah-Dor-Ah-Bul notebook from If anyone wants to get me their Fat Pegasus Tee, I will wear it.  This place had cats made of mochi. Meowchi.

But wait, there's more! Ohayocon also had an Artist Alley, which was fairly thriving. I will admit to being a person who does not purchase a lot of art for arts sake. But if you have any peripherals, i.e. jewelry, bookmarks, comics etc. I may be tempted. I am also a self-declared button whore.  I was lucky enough to find two pretty amazing... God I don't know what to call them, franchises?
One is Prince of Cats, a webcomic that uploads multiple watercolor pages per week. WATERCOLORS! Some webcomics struggle to upload a single penciled page every 7 days! (Not that I'm dissing them; I haven't posted a blog about this convention and I went to it over a month ago.) Prince of Cats is mostly a relationship tale between two queer boys in their final days of high school. The twist is that Lee (above) saved the Princess of Cats and therefore was granted one wish. He has yet to make said wish and so, until he does, he has gained the ability to understand the language of cats. The artist's kickass postcard marketing collateral lead me to her site, where I've been following the story (which only started posting in 2012, but has an active fan base and a number of collections for sale.)

Another was Tokyo Demons, a  multifaceted creation which includes a written story, serialized audio show and YouTube channel, book and ebook, as well as posters, pins, a card game, a video game and, um, more. Pretty incredible. My husband bought the fully voiced audio book (!) which we listened to driving back to Wisconsin. The story follows Ayase, a girl with a very strange secret, and Jo Oda, a self-centered pickpocket who is drawn into a convoluted and complex plot he didn't ask for and doesn't really want to deal with.So far my favorite character is Miki Morikawa, a young, incredibly bright nerd who swears like a sailor, leads an inept street gang, and is voiced by a woman.  Daniel Ozimek is pretty cool tool.  

Lianne Sentar and Rebecca Scoble, both involved with Tokyo Demons and former employees of TokyoPop have recently launched Chromatic Press which has some pretty cool stuff going on so you should check it out.   

Panels play a big part of Ohayocon. I find the quality to be hit or miss, and this year was no exception. I attended a Persona panel, which was mostly trivia (I missed the first part. There might have been more discussion, research etc. that I missed). And I did get to meet MegaTokyo artist and co-creator Fred Gallagher, but his panel was so low key I could hardly hear him. I give him a pass, and I won't post the awesome pic of me standing next to him while he was wearing a full body kitty cat costume because he tweeted he was embarrassed by it (then why wear it, Fred?).

The best panel I attended was one about the Ren'Py game engine, a program that helps developers create a video game, namely, a visual novel. A visual novel is a style of game that can be as simple as a story book you click through. The panel was put on by the writer and artist of OTChi Kocchi, a recently released visual novel game set in a pharmacy school. The presenters really laid out the process and it looks pretty simple. The fact that they had never made a video game before also gave me hope of maybe someday making my own. They also handed out free cds of the game (Act I), which is also available for free download on their site.

Finally of course, was the comradery. Because it doesn't matter if you're 17 or 70, hanging out with people-- friends, family, and strangers, who laugh at the same things you do, introduce you to new and innovative experiences, and create an environment where you can feel free to be whoever you want to be, is something pretty magical. Overall I had a blast, and returned home inspired, with my muse raging to create.

... although I still don't get Homestuck.

(pic from )

Note-my full Flickr set is here.