All posts by Ferd

Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Oriole is an uncommon visitor to Forsyth County, NC. So we are always excited to see one. This is our first sighting of this beautiful bird in our neighborhood. I spotted the flash of orange early this morning while going out to get the morning newspaper. I had to wake Gail up to share the experience! The Oriole was perched at the very top of a majestic White Oak. He posed long enough for a few pictures, somewhat blurry because of the distance, but clear enough for confirmation. How fun! :-)

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Favorite SD Comic-Con 2014 moments!

A year’s worth of planning and anticipation culminated in our recent experience of the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con! It was everything we had hoped and so much MORE! I can’t begin to describe the energy that lit the place up for the five glorious days of the convention. The extensive programming was way beyond impressive! How in the world can so many artists and celebrities be herded into one place at the same time!? There was SO much going on that I wanted my clones to be in about 5 places simultaneously throughout the entire convention! Though with an approximately 130,000 attendance, all competing for seats in the rooms, we had to carefully pick and choose which panels and events  we really wanted to see. Even so, we did manage to see and do many memorable things while at the Con. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. I had a mission to meet one of the Special Guests that had been invited to this year’s Comic- Con.  Jane Espenson is a gifted writer who has contributed to many of the TV shows Gail and I love. These include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica/Caprica, Firefly/Serenity, Once Upon a Time, and Game of Thrones. She has written for many more. She has also contributed to certain comics. Obviously, she has a direct line to Joss Whedon‘s creative mind, and how cool is that! She has had a writing career that any writer would envy, and she is still going strong, including the current production of her own web series, Husbands (Get a load of the cast!)

Fortunately for me, she was very active at the Comic-Con. She was on several panels, and she offered several signing opportunities. We got to see her at two of her panels and I managed to find her at one of the artist’s signing tables! She was very gracious, and I will remember these moments always! Thank you, Jane!

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2. Anne Rice is a writer without equal! Interview with the Vampire redefined the original literary concept of the vampire, and I was hooked on her after that classic novel. Her rich and luscious descriptions of characters and locations bring her imaginary worlds to life. She is an extraordinary story teller. Countless authors have taken their cues from her work. And her work is voluminous, making vampires, witches, angels and wolf people seem real. She has also written erotica, and about Jesus! It is difficult to place her in any one genre!

Ms Rice is now 72 years young. You would be shocked by the peaceful beauty of her warm and patient smile. She looked at me and Gail in the eyes in a way that made me feel that that moment, and probably every moment, are important to her. I thanked her for the many hours of reading pleasure her books had brought me, and for the delicious memories that remain. She said, “And that’s why I will keep writing them.”

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3. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows currently on TV. It is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of novels written by George R.R. Martin. He is therefore one of the most successful and influential writers on today’s fantasy scene. It was fun seeing his gregarious self up close, and getting his autograph!

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4. Cosplay (costumed role play) or at least “dressing up” is a tradition at comic conventions. I really enjoyed seeing so many people in costume at the #SDCC. Here is a YouTube video with a  sampling:

I had a surprisingly great time participating in this. I never intended to have an elaborate costume like in the video. That is not my thing. But since I am such a Breaking Bad fan, am just a little older than Walter White/Heisenberg, and his outfit was easy to replicate, I decided to play along. It was interesting sort of slipping into a (W)alter ego!

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5. Evangeline Lilly is famous for her role as Kate Austen in the TV series Lost. We saw her most recently as the woodland elf Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a role she will reprise in the upcoming The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Evangeline has written a children’s book, and she was at the #SDCC in part to promote it. We purchased one of the 1,000 numbered copies of a special Comic-Con edition of The Squickerwonkers. We were fortunate to have Evangeline herself sign the book for us!

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6. We saw previews of several upcoming TV shows, and there are two that we are now really looking forward to: iZombie and Scorpion. Keep an eye out for these shows this fall!

These were among my favorite moments at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. And there were many other moments I will long remember. Now it’s time to start thinking about #SDCC2015! :D

(If you want to see our Facebook photos of the San Diego Comic-Con 2014, here they are.)

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Drawing – our new hobby!

Our plans to attend the San Diego Comic Con later this summer have unexpectedly mushroomed into something new! First, I tried to catch up on the comics world a little bit. Then I read, and LOVED, my first graphic novel, Digger. I became enthralled by the idea of telling stories mainly in pictures, using but a few well-chosen words. This lead to my next read, Making Comics, by Scott McCloud. That was enlightening! It was great fun learning more about the technical and the artistic processes behind what appear to be simple comics. But the joy of learning this was balanced by the painful awareness that I suck at drawing and painting! I still remember my few efforts at this as a child, and I never received any formal education in this area. My art teachers and art projects in school never really explored drawing and painting at the basic instructional level. Yet I believe I do have an artistic eye, which I practice mainly through photography. This blog itself has seen many creative moments. So I thought I’d press on with this new interest. I found a little computer program called Comic Life. It allows me to import a photograph and to then apply filters that make it look like the picture was drawn or painted in various styles. The program also has easy ways to add captions, word and thought balloons, and special effects. It also has a wide variety of pre-made layouts, making the final product look like a comic book page. My first few efforts with this have been fun and turned out fairly well. I will for sure continue to use Comic Life!

But I was not satisfied with that. I thought my own drawings would be better than filtered photos, even if they were my own photos. So I began to explore the idea of learning how to draw at my late age. I was surprised to consistently read that ANYONE can learn to draw, that I was wrong thinking only those rare individuals with inborn talent had that special gift. I did a search for the best instructional books on the subject and came up with a list of my top five. Then Gail did the same, and we finally decided to use Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner by Claire Watson Garcia. Gail did have some art background as a child and had talked on and off about taking some art classes. So doing this together has been a particularly fun and satisfying thing!

The day came when we drove to Michaels to buy all sorts of art supplies! That was a really fun date! Seriously! It felt like one of those turning point moments where life can take you in one direction or another. We were about to start a new hobby! The spark of interest had ignited into a flame of action! We bought the recommended pencils, drawing papers, erasers, etc. We took that first step that turns a thought into a reality! :-)

Well, by now we have gone through much of the book. We started by simply drawing observed lines. We practiced drawing simple shapes like circles and ovals, then piecing them together into more complex shapes. We learned to notice lines and basic shapes in what we see in the world. We learned a few techniques about drawing what we see with accuracy. We are currently learning shading techniques. I am now starting to see things in my 3D life while imagining how I would draw them in 2D.

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Drawing is so far much more fun than I ever imagined it would be, and we are only a few weeks into it! I think it’s because I can already see the fruits of my labor and I can already see progress. I believe what they said is true. If I can draw, ANYONE can draw! :D

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Dickcissel

This week marks the first time the Dickcissel has ever been spotted in our home county, Forsyth County, North Carolina! Princess Gail and I were lucky enough to still find it this afternoon, several days after the initial spotting, thanks to Craig McCleary of our Audubon group.

Here are some of Gail’s pictures from this afternoon:

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