Archive for June, 2009

It must be genetic (rawr)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

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I didn’t do it, promise.

My amazing-wonderful-spectacular niece spent a few days with us this weekend, and I cannot tell you how absolutely thrilled I am that she loves dinosaurs as much as she does. Completely independent of me, I might add. She hatched a dino-egg and excavated some bones with her Grandpa Mike, and we read dinosaur poems and played dinosaurs. AND I QUOTE:

“You be a T-Rex and I’ll be a triceratops that’s making a circle to protect my babies.”

MELT.

We went to the Carnegie Science Museum, baked bread, and spent some serious time on the Wii Fit’s ski jump. Katie, Nana and I also had lots of fun making some fantastic drawrings.

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Best. Robot. EVER.

Life Lessons - Help!

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

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Yeah? Then help me out.

The Brother graduates from high school next spring, and I’d like to impart some knowledge on the youngest babe of the Arnold clan. Also, I’m itching to do another typography project.

My hope is to create a poster full of life lessons that I’ve learned since high school. A rough list follows:

  • Be thankful every day.
  • Credit card companies are evil.
  • If you have a question, always ask.
  • A bad situation will probably be really funny tomorrow. Sometimes it might take a week.
  • The ingredients for any healthy relationship are trust, communication and respect.
  • The Steelers are the best football team. EVER.
  • Mistakes are important and okay. Learn from them.
  • First impressions are important, but rarely accurate. Give it another round.
  • Bad things do happen to good people.
  • You are who you surround yourself with.
  • Things could almost always be worse.
  • Attitude is everything.
  • Every situation offers a lesson. Try to find it, good or bad.
  • Be tenacious.
  • You can agree to disagree.
  • Learn to let it go.
  • Your first instinct is probably the right one.
  • Learn from the past. Live in the present. Plan for the future.
  • Do what you love.

Nothing can replace life experience, of course, but a cheat sheet can’t hurt.

Is there anything you wish you’d known at 18? Any obstacles you would have liked to have been warned about? Deep, silly — let’s hear it!

Letters!

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I have been overestimating my abilities lately. First, I challenged my girlfriend Kelly to an arm-wrestling match. Not only did I lose, I lost in spectacular never-had-a-chance fashion. In my defense, she has a black belt in kung fu. That is the salve I’m using on my ego, anyway. It’s not really helping all that much.

Secondly, in an effort to extend some creative horizons, Val and I decided to attempt a creative project that we thought would be fun: make an alphabet!

Fun? Yes. Difficult? VERY MUCH YES. Conclusion? We have too many letters in our English alphabet. We’re a culture that runs on efficiency. Can’t we consolidate any of these sounds? Seriously, no one uses X, not really.

All kidding aside, it was a wonderful, eye-opening learning experience. My day job as a designer makes me love and appreciate fonts anyway, but that appreciation has shifted into something akin to idolization because letterforms are HARD. Especially since nothing I did required anything in the way of actual skill. Using ink and a straw sort of removes any real decision-making from the process, since the ink kind of did whatever it wanted to do, despite my best efforts to make it behave. I’m calling that a blessing in disguise, however, since I didn’t have much say on where a cross-beam went because I wasn’t in control. At no point was I in control. We’re lucky I got all 26 capital letters, and I’m not telling which ones I called it in on just because I wanted to be done.

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One day, I hope to make an entire font. As in, a real font. But this will do for now. Hmm… blotchy!

Pixar’s Up

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

up_pixar_one-sheet_poster_02.jpgIf you don’t become a little misty eyed at any point in this movie, I would suggest getting a medical examination because your heart is probably made of cold, hard steel. I teared up at least three times, and had trouble recounting certain scenes with my movie partner on the way home.

I had heard it was supposed to be an epic puller of heart-strings, but I honestly hadn’t anticipated how heavy it was. Do you remember the beginning of Finding Nemo, when Nemo’s mom gets eaten? I was admittedly distraught. When the Sad Thing in the first ten minutes of Up happens, I was ready to go home and take two bottles of sleeping pills. Holy smokes. It’s not a surprising turn of events, but the execution is excruciatingly beautiful.

The plot opens on Carl Fredrickson, a curmudgeonly old man that’s holding out on selling his property to a big corporation. It is the house he and his wife Ellie met in, the house they bought, the house in which they grew old together. When an accident leads the court to rule that ancient Mr. Fredrickson is a menace to society, he is ordered to vacate his home and it seems the corporation has won. Instead, he unfurls a cloud of helium balloons and he and his house float away. His destination? Paradise Falls, South America — a site of exploration that he and Ellie had dreamed about since they were children.

All seems peaceful and right with the world until, several thousand feet up in the sky, there is a knock on the door. Russell, a boyscout desperate for his final badge for “helping the elderly” had been under the porch, dutifully searching on the Snipe Hunt that Carl put him on the day before, when the house lifted off. After some in-the-air drama, Carl and Russell find themselves near Paradise Falls, stuck with one another. The mission — which was to fulfill Carl’s promise to Ellie of taking her to Paradise Falls — is to now set the floating house by the waterfall. The two unlikely companions set off to guide the bobbing structure across the ravine, encountering a mysterious bird, an outcast talking dog, and some dangerous characters that want to make sure that Carl, Russell and their new friends don’t make it out of the valley alive.

Pixar’s storytelling is always good — Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life are on my top ten list — and Up is no exception. The formula is less obvious than most movies, which was refreshing. I will say my mind had an issue with the logitics of a house floating on a bunch of helium balloons, but I went with it. I also didn’t really like the convenience of them accidentally finding themselves in Paradise Falls. BUT. I went with it.

Pixar’s animation is always flawless. It almost isn’t worth mentioning because it is always so damn good. Carl and Russell’s character designs were both works of art. These humans were highly stylized, almost muppet-like, and I loved them so much for it. The expressions were subtle, beautiful, perfect.

And someone give Jordan Nagai and Ed Asner some kind of gold statue. Best. Voices. EVER.

There were a lot of lessons to be learned from Up. Don’t wait too long to fulfill your dreams. Love the people you’re with while they’re here, because they won’t always be around. The little things really do count. It’s just a house. 

I can’t say it hard enough: see this movie. And bring a hankey.