Sunday, June 17, 2012

Folklore Crafts Book Tour

Fabulous Publishing is a new ebook publisher for crafters by crafters. Founded in 2012 by Shayne Rioux and Redd Hynes, (two of my fellow writers from my Geek Crafts days), FabPub aims to curate how-to ebooks that are fun and full of fabulous arts and crafts.

FabPub has launched their new series with a pair of adorably themed books: Garden Gnomes and Matryoshka (Russian Nesting Dolls).

Folklore Crafts: Garden Gnomes features 13 projects by artists from all over the world. The projects inside vary from sewing to crochet, paper quilling to knitting, for babies and adults.

Some of the projects include a crocheted hat so you can be a gnome whenever the mood strikes, a cross-stitched plaque to grace your wall, an amigurumi Gnome Chomsky to keep you company and an embroidered cup cozy to keep your favorite beverage warm.

How could you not feel happy wearing this hat?

The Underpants Gnomes won't be
able to resist stealing these!

Who needs ceramic gnomes
when you can have yarn ones?

Folklore Crafts: Matryoshka also features 13 projects by artists from all over the world. The projects inside vary from sewing to crochet, embroidery to traditional nesting dolls with a modern twist.

Some of the projects include a hand-printed hankie using a hand-carved rubberstamp, a sensory doll for your baby to love, needle-felted sailors for the seafarers in your life and even a full-scale costume.

For you Dr. Who fans out there!

You'll definitely win "most original" at the
company Halloween party! 

Cutest felted dolls ever!

This is the second to last stop on the FabPub blog tour. To see the thrilling conclusion, visit Geek Crafts tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

When I first heard about Snow White and the Hunstman, I had twin reactions. One was utter disappointment: "Damn. Looks like someone wrote the story I've been working on for two years." The other was excitement: "Snow White in armor? Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen? Thor as a sweaty, hot ranger? Sign me up!"

I wanted to love this movie. I really did. Though it was a thoroughly entertaining two hours, there were just a few things that made it fall short of true love. On the up side, though it didn't exceed any of my expectations, it didn't really disappoint me.

When Snow White comes of age, she comes into the power that could destroy the powerful Queen Ravenna once and for all. Fleeing for her life into the Dark Forest, Snow White is reluctantly aided by the Huntsman, who is haunted by his own personal tragedy. Together, they make a perilous journey towards the one bastion of freedom left in the ravaged land, where Snow White must find the strength to face her stepmother--and her destiny--once and for all.

Visually stunning. My eyes were never bored, as each shot is lovingly composed for maximum pop. The special effects were  gorgeous, ranging from the grotesqueness of the Queen's darker magic to the ethereal beauty of the faerie realm. The costumes were impressive as well, and I'm sure there's already some ambitious seamstresses out there whipping up bird skull-adorned ball gowns for Comic Con this year.

Seriously, check out the details. I want this dress.

Ladies for the win. Though no one's going to be getting any Oscar nods for this, I was impressed by both Charlize Theron's portayal of the Wicked Queen AND Kristen Stewart's rendition of Snow White. Especially since she was severely limited by her dialog, Kristen did a surprisingly good job of portraying a range of thoughts purely with her expressions and body language. I admit, I have soft spot for her, mostly 'cause I'm rooting for her to break the "Bella" mold of her Twilight fame. This isn't too far away from that "sweetly bewildered" comfort zone, but she had some break-out moments.

As for Charlize, she was everything I wanted in a Wicked Queen. Cold and beautiful as sharpened gold, she practically oozed casual malice with every step. She also did a good job of making the Queen a bit sympathetic, even up until the end. She must have had fun with this role. 

Delivers what it promises. I went in expecting an action-packed, dark fantasy with lots of special effects, a dash of romance, and some slight "girl power" themes. I got exactly that. To be fair, maybe it's because they gave away most of the film in the preview, or because it's adapted pretty faithfully to a story I've known since I was three, but I rarely found myself surprised. Which, to be fair, could also be con, but seeing as I was already geared up for what they offered, I think it's a win.

Bob Hoskins was a nice surprise as the Dwarven seer. 

Weak writing. Really, for such a beautifully made film with such a broad range of talent, the script was sadly lacking. Snow White really doesn't say much, and there's some key moments of character development that were lost. You really don't get much of a sense of a personal growth arc for her -- or for any of the characters, really. The story stays firmly in the land of archetype, which is appropriate somewhat, considering it's based off a fairy tale, but I'd hoped to see some real life breathed into the avatars we'd all grown up with. 

Same old story. An extension of my previous gripe, but I felt it needed its own bullet point. I'd hoped for the story to challenge some of the themes of the classic Snow White tale, especially when the previews showed an armored Snow charging a fire-lit battlefield. In the end, though, it was still about who was the "fairest of them all." There's no real explanation of why Snow White is the "chosen one" except for "'cause she's pretty." You could cook up some theory about the "three drops of blood" magic that supposedly went into her birth, but it isn't clearly explained in the movie.

See? Fruit can be bad for you.

Worst. Siege. Ever. Okay, this is just my personal gripe, coming from playing tactics/strategy games and spending some time in a renaissance faire fighting guild, but that was seriously the sloppiest, worst-planned castle siege I've ever seen put on film. It's seriously cringe-worthy. 

Who needs formation or tactics?
So, that's my two cents. If you're a fan of fantasy, fairy tales, and sword-and-sorcery films, then check it out. I'd even recommend spending the clams to see it in the theater, as those special effects are worth it. It may not change your life, but it'll definitely entertain you on a Friday night.

On a more personal note... though Snow White and the Huntsman is similar in elements to the aforementioned story I'd been working on, it's still different enough. That comfort, in and of itself, was worth the price of admission...especially since I like my story better.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Sundress

Ta da!
We may still have nine days to go before the official beginning of summer, but in my head, it's already here. The Professor is finished with the semester, the heat is rising, and there's a ton of watermelon in my fridge. Yup, summer's come early to my world.

What better way to celebrate than by whipping up a spiffy new sundress? I found this lovely pre-shirred fabric at JoAnn's a few weeks ago, and I thought it would be a simple place to start with sewing my own garments.

All I had to do was measure, iron, and sew straight lines. The trickiest part was making and measuring the straps from scratch, but with the Prof's help that step was fairly easy. Within a few hours, I had the first home-made dress I'd had in over a decade.


There's something so very empowering about making your own clothes, especially as a big girl. I've spent so much of my life hunting a limited number of stores with a limited range of styles for clothes that really expressed "me." So, yeah, it's really exciting to be able to put something together than not only looks great, but gives me that added bump of pride when I say, "oh this? I made it."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Big Wow! ComicFest 2012 Recap

(L-R) John Gillette, Reyna Young, myself, and Dylan D Walsh
on our "Horror Filmmaking 101" panel at Big Wow! 
This was my first time attending San Jose's Big Wow! ComicFest. More importantly (to me, at least), it was my first time ever speaking on a convention panel.

I have to admit, I've dreamed about sitting at one of those long, tablecloth-draped tables since the first convention I attended. It just seemed so cool, that all those people would sit and listen to what knowledge you had to share. So when my friend Reyna Young (horror hostess Miss Misery) asked me to participate in her "Horror Filmmaking 101" panel, I was over the moon.

Also on the panel were her husband/partner-in-film John Gillette, and one of her regular actors/production assistants, Dylan D Walsh. We covered everything from where to get screenplay ideas to how to distribute your film once it's done. The panel had a great energy, and it felt more like a group of filmmakers chatting over coffee than a formal panel.

Proof that I actually said something.
Honestly, a bit of that might have had to do with the crowd. You see, there was a little SNAFU with the scheduling, which led to a last-minute switch in the programming that didn't make it into the printed convention guide. So, unfortunately, most of our audience showed up at the wrong day and time.

However, the crowd we did have was awesome. Family, friends, a few devoted con-goers, and a sea monster. What we lacked in quantity, we made up for in quality.

Really, how many audiences have a sea monster?
I was especially touched that my friend and Everything I Needed to Know About Zombies I Learned From the Movies's Director of Photography Erin Castrapel (Mr. Thumbs Up in the photo) made a surprise trip up from Los Angeles to see the panel. It made the day all the more special, especially when he coordinated an impromptu lunch reunion with another old friend.

As for the convention itself, I liked Big Wow's vibe. It had enough clout to draw in some big names (Jim Lee and Terrance Zdunich, for example), but it also had a casual, local con feel. I love conventions where you can stop and chat with the artists and creators and really get to know them and their art. I'll take that over the big budget cattle-stampede the Comic-Con conventions have turned into (and no, I'm not bitter at all that WonderCon abandoned the Bay Area for freakin' Anaheim). We didn't stay long, but we had a great time, and consensus was that this con was a definite keeper. I'll be back next year!

For some more thorough reviews of Big Wow! as a whole:

Oscar Benjamin's Examiner review (with LOTS of gorgeous photos)

Graphic Novel Reporter

ConventionLife (shout out to Michael Tang for photographing our panel)