Until Fall!

Well, it looks like another semester has come to an end! Finals week is over, and for me that means a lot of change. I will be spending my first summer in my new apartment in Turlock. I will be out of class, out of work, and free to really experience the new place and the town of Turlock. My girlfriend is back from her college in New York for the summer, so we will be spending all kinds of time together! I’m hoping this summer brings great experiences, for myself and for all of you! I know for some of us the summer means a lot of free time, so I thought I would leave you all with some entertainment recommendations, for when you’re not busy having summer adventures.

Television:

Mad Men: This brilliant show is going on its mid-season break this weekend, so this summer is a great chance to catch up on it if you haven’t already! The show has six thirteen episode seasons, and season 7 (the final season) is currently airing. 1960′s drama in the world of advertising is in the hands of some great talent with this show!

Game of Thrones: This show is on its fourth ten episode season, and is on a short break until the beginning of June! Hop on the GoT train and experience the fantasy drama that everyone is probably already spoiling you on!

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: If you want a show that’s already finished and isn’t chugging along ahead of you, try hopping on Netflix and checking out this classic! Joss Whedon brought to TV seven (mostly awesome) seasons of this show. It’s a great commentary on horror, high school, and growing up. I’m approaching season seven now!

Anime:

Attack on Titan: If you’re a fan of beautiful art, this is the show for you. This dramatic anime can be quite intense at times, but the emotion behind this great story is what will keep you going through all twenty-six episodes.

Sword Art Online: This brilliant looking show follows ten thousand video game players that are trapped in a virtual reality world and have to battle their way out. This twenty-five episode show is more light-hearted than something like Attack on Titan, but the action and characters are still great!

Black Bullet: This anime is just beginning, with only seven episodes out! I always describe the show as Attack on Titan meets Resident Evil. There’s a virus, there are government agencies, there are monsters, and there are some badass fight scenes. Check it out!

Podcasts:

NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour: If you’re a fan of all things pop culture related like I am, this is the show for you! This group is hilarious and very well informed about everything from movies and television to books and comics.

Stuff You Should Know: This show is hosted by two everymen who do the research and bring you podcasts on everything from avalanches to amputations. This podcast is funny and really informative!

 

Well, there are some of my recommendations for the summer! I hope you enjoy some of them, and I hope your summers are wonderful. Until fall, see you later!

Song I’m Blogging To: “Three Legged Dog” by Harlem.

New Schedule! FALL 2014.

Howdy, bloggers and blog perusers! The semester is officially ending and we are going into finals week! How does everyone feel about that? I’m just ready for it to be summer, that’s how I feel. I have one more final on Monday, for my political science class, and then I’m done! While this time of the year can be really stressful, it can also be very exciting. For me the prospect of picking my classes for next semester is always exciting, because I get a sneak peak at what the next few months of my life are going to entail. I am going into the fine arts program this semester, so I decided to sign up for all art classes in the Fall.

Art History Survey Ancient- This class is one I have to take in order to join the BFA program. While I can’t say I’m especially excited for it, I do think I’m going to learn a lot!

Figure Sculpture- This is the class I’m most excited for! I really want to learn how to draw and sculpt the human figure, and this class is being taught by my favorite professor in the department, Daniel Edwards.

New Media Theory- I don’t know a whole lot about this class, but the description sounded interesting, and the class is being taught by a newly hired professor, Rachel Debuque. Should be interesting!

New Genre Art- See the previous class! This is also taught by Debuque, which is why I signed up for it.

BFA Critical Concepts- This class is a required two unit class for the BFA program, and only meets on Fridays!

AMS schedule

 

I’m looking forward to seeing what this different set up bring me! What are your schedules like this next semester? Are you excited about them, or a bit nervous? Let me know in the comments!

 

Yoga: A Retrospective

I went into yoga with a very basic understanding of the subject. The only reference point I had was my girlfriend, who has been practicing yoga for many years now. I have been relatively thin for a few years, and was not very committed to starting a fitness routine. This spring semester was different, though. I decided I was going to start going to the gym, start doing yoga, and begin running. Yoga was the part I was most excited about, though. I wanted to learn what all the fuss was about, because yoga has become such a craze recently. It was in the first class that I learned there was so much more to yoga than I had really understood, and it was then that I realized exactly how yoga was going to benefit me.

In my first practice in class I reached a level of harmony and carefree weightlessness that I had never really experienced before. I realized then that yoga was going to benefit me mentally more than it was going to benefit me physically. Through practices and journal entries I have come to learn lessons concerning letting go of anxiety, surrendering to the flow of the universe, and finding harmony within myself. I have always been an anxious person, to the point that I have had to take time away from school in order to come to terms with what makes me happy and what just stresses me out. Through these classes I have learned to maintain a better outlook on life, and only feed the good wolf inside of me. If I fuel those bad thoughts and anxieties I have had in the past, I will only end up backtracking. I have come to realize that the meaning of life is to move forward and broaden ones horizons, while not forgetting to stop and appreciate the world around us and our connection to it.

Yoga has benefitted me because I am committed to educating myself and opening my mind. This class has been all about opening ones’ third eye and looking around at the beauty of the world. It is so easy to walk through life, especially at school or work, without respecting and appreciating the beauty the universe gives us. As an artist I try to keep an eye out for the parts of the world that stand out as beautiful and majestic. Yoga has benefitted me by showing me that more of the world meets this criteria than I thought it did. Even parts of the world that might seem distasteful or annoying can be beautiful in a certain way.

I have also benefitted from yoga physically. Yoga makes me feel more limber and relaxed, and allows me to experience muscles that I had no idea I could stretch and exercise. This, paired with trips to the gym, has made me feel very good physically. When I feel good physically, my mental state is also improved, which creates a very beautiful cycle. I am able to perform better at work, concentrate more in classes, and I just feel happier overall. When I am feeling sore from the gym, or just down in the dumps, I find myself wanting to do yoga because I know it will improve my state both mentally and physically. While I am not a spiritual person, yoga is the closest I get to feeling one with the universe and everything it is connected to.

My beneficial experiences in yoga have lead me to encourage others to try it, because I feel that everyone should learn from the process. I will continue to practice yoga on my own, as well as during sessions at the school. I feel that I still have much to learn from the various methods and teaching of yoga and meditation, so I do not see myself stopping any time soon.

The Start of Something Amazing!

Face front, true believers! There’s a new comic shop in town! As a new citizen of the city of Turlock, I’ve been trying to figure out the lay of the land. For someone who has been going to school in this city for three years now, I’m come up pretty empty handed when people ask me what there is to do in Turlock. Now I have a real recommendation, and it’s something that is near and dear to my heart! If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know that I’m a huge comic book fan. I read them, I draw them, I watch movies based on them. I grew up frequenting Kriers Cards and Comics in Modesto during my days with trading card games, and when I moved across town I began stopping by Bonanza Books and Comics for my comic book needs. Recently I found myself living in an apartment in Turlock, and really having no idea if there was a place for comic lovers anywhere in the city.

Thankfully, Sky High Comics and Collectables has come to the rescue! The new store opened on April 5th, and I just today had a chance to check it out! I know I’m a little late, my spider-sense has apparently been on the fritz. I walked into the store unsure of what I was going to see. Some comic stores can be musty and disorganized, as thousands of comics can quickly take over a room. Other comic shops are very well organized and decorated, and thankfully Sky High is one of those stores. Blue walls adorned with comic art, posters, shelves, and action figures greeted me upon my arrival.

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Ray, the store owner and self professed Daredevil fan (good choice Ray. I’m more of a Spidey guy myself, but good ol’ Matt Murdock is another favorite of mine), greeted me as soon as I entered. I took some time to peruse the selection in the store, and was quite impressed! While the shelves have not been entirely filled to the brim with comics, there’s still a good selection of material to look through! Besides a well organized area filled with new comics, the store also boasts alphabetized boxes of older back issues! And boy is it a good collection! For those of us looking to fill in gaps in our personal collections, this is a good place to go. The store also has some awesome action figures on display, though my interest was drawn to some of the more expensive books and statues kept in glass cases. In the end I picked up a couple new issues of Spider-Man I was very excited about!

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My first impression of the store was a great one, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some awesome comics! This Saturday, May 3, is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. So you all should definitely swing by Sky High and pick up some free swag. Then feel free to support the store by picking something cool up! And heck, there are even going to be artists across the street from the store drawing covers and sketches for fans!

Sky High Comics and Collectables is located at 120 W. Main Street. Type the address into your phones and head on over this weekend!

Finding Work! (The Eternal Struggle)

Hey, bloggers and bloggees! I hope everyone has had an awesome spring break! Whether it was wild and busy, or relaxing and calm like mine, I hope it was a great one! Now that spring break is coming to an end, though, the last stretch of the spring semester is about to begin. With the end of a relaxing break comes the realization that the pre-break world is returning, along with all of the tasks and obligations we might have put off for several days! In my case, one of my tasks I had put on my plate was finding a summer job. I currently work two jobs on campus, which means that at least one of them is not going to extend into the summer. While I work to make sure I’m set for the summer breaks where I am not working in the Game Room, the recent addition of an apartment to the mix that is my life has made me begin the hunt for summer work.

My first steps in looking for work are usually the same. First, I check the campus website for job openings. Under “Student Assistants” there is a list of positions open for students enrolled at CSUS. In this case, since I am looking for work over the summer, I had to move on to step two. Step two consists of going to multiple websites: Snagajob, Indeed, and Craigslist. Snagajob is a great site that’s very user friendly, and lists companies that are hiring in your area. For a lot of these companies the application process is done right through the Snagajob website. Indeed is a site that is a bit less user friendly, but lists a lot of good information about jobs in your area. Finally, Craigslist is the most hit or miss site to look for work on, but sometimes you can find a gem. A lot of the time the site has ads from people looking for random freelance work, but every once in a while you can find a company that has put up an ad for open interviews.

For this summer season I have applied at half a dozen companies, and have yet to hear back from anyone. I’m going to keep trudging along though, because persistence is definitely the key when it comes to looking for work. Most companies are looking for persistent people who are driven, and a lot of companies even allow you to reapply every thirty days. I’m off to go look for more work in the Turlock area! If anyone has any info about local work, or any tips for looking for work, leave me a comment!

Song I’m Blogging To: “Truth Sets In” by Avi Buffalo

 

Gym Time!

Hey, blog readers and bloggers! How is everyone doing? We’re on the verge of Spring Break, and I’m personally really excited! Due to my recent move to Turlock I’ve been spending a lot of time here in town, so I will be taking my Spring Break as an opportunity to spend some time back in Modesto with my friends and family. I’ve really been enjoying my new setup here in Turlock, though! One of my favorite things about living so close to the CSUS campus is the fact that the Recreation Complex is five minutes away from me.

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The Student Recreation Complex is a gym, track, and climbing area that is open to students here at CSUS. In my time at the school I’ve been to this building quite a few times, but only recently have I started following a schedule and really making a habit out of going. The gym equipment includes: weight training machines, free weights, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and treadmills. I just throw a podcast on my phone, ride my bike over to the gym, and do a half hour with the machines and a half hour on the treadmill. I feel great, and I’m hoping to start feeling even better soon.

I know this whole thing has sounded like an ad for the campus gym, and y’know what, it totally is! I love going there in the evenings to blow off some steam, and I thought I’d let you all know about it! The complex is kind of hidden at the far side of campus, so it wouldn’t surprise me if people didn’t know where it was.

Here’s a handy map!

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I personally enjoy going to the gym in the evenings after class and work, but they’re open all day and most nights!

Sunday 12:00 – 8:00p.m.
Monday – Thursday 6:00a.m. – 11:00p.m.
Friday 6:00a.m. – 8:00p.m.
Saturday 8:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.

 

Stop by the place if you find yourself with some free time! If you do, leave me a comment telling me what you thought. Who knows, I might see you there!

Song I’m Blogging To: “Celebrating Nothing” by Phantogram.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review: Spoiler Free

As a follow up to my Frozen review, I thought it made sense to continue in that vein and review another Disney film! I mean, ol’ Cap is a Marvel character, but with Disney’s acquisition of Marvel back in 2009 it’s fun to joke. Plus, Cap’ was frozen for a cool minute, so I’m calling this a logical next step. I’m a huge fan of comic books, and anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a big fanboy for Marvel Comics. Marvel has had a crazy successful run with their relatively new studio and their equally new cinematic universe. Phase One of putting this universe together was beautifully done, kicking off with Iron Man in 2008. Now, in Phase Two, Marvel is swiftly moving toward an even more ambitious project than before with Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

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I will say that I’ve felt Phase Two has been off to a rocky start. While Iron Man 3 was a fun ride and a good film, it had its fair share of problems. Thor 2 was enjoyable, but I regretfully have to say that was mostly because of Loki. Overall, the second installment in the Thor franchise was pretty forgettable. I’ve never been a big fan of Captain America, but I’ve understood his importance in the Marvel universe. The first film to showcase the hero was a good period piece war film, but was also quite forgettable. The same cannot be said for its sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This movie was intense from the beginning, and carried that intensity most of the way through this two-hour-and-fifteen-minute movie.

Unlike the first Captain America film, The Winter Soldier puts Cap’ in 2014. Instead of battling Nazis with magical abilities, he’s up against an even scarier enemy: the American government. Captain America discovers that the stars and stripes he’s sworn to protect might not have the best interest of their people in mind after all. Without going into too much detail, part of the reason this movie works so well is that the threat is one that we can relate to. We all know that our government keeps secrets and sometimes acts in ways that scare us. A power that big can be frightening at times, and that’s exemplified in this film. The Winter Soldier is a superhero film, but it is also an espionage film with the thrill of a suspenseful chase.

Before I get too entrenched in praising this film, I will say that it was not without its problems. The Winter Soldier is an ambitious film, with a few grand plot lines that become a bit muddled together in the last half of the film. Some intriguing plot lines, such as those dealing with PTSD and an old flame of Cap’s, get dropped in favor of the big action oriented story lines. The film also begins with a quick pace, then slows down a bit toward the middle. This middle portion still held my interest, though, so I can’t really complain too much.

The acting in the film was good for the most part, with Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) being the standouts. Chris Evans portrayed Captain America in a way that will please fans of the comics, while Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was more likable than in previous films. Sebastian Stan had very little screen time as the eponymous Winter Soldier, though his moments in the film tended to be captivating and quite intense.

Full of great comic book moments, great action flick scenes, and some awesome easter eggs, Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed that Marvel is finally getting their footing in the Phase Two of their massive cinematic universe. With Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, we can only hope Marvel can hold onto this momentum.

P.S. The scene with the weird A.I. threw me off a bit. It just seemed kind of out of place. Anyone else agree? Let me know in the comments!

Frozen (2013) Review: Spoiler Free

Hey, bloggers and readers! I hope you’re all having a great first week of April! My first week of April was marked by my viewing of the 2013 Disney film Frozen. Now, Frozen came out back in November, in time for the Christmas season, so admittedly I’m kind-of-really-late with this review. I’ve finally seen the movie everyone has been singing about, though, and here’s my review.

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Frozen is the newest film to join the line of Disney musicals, which began in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I’ve been a fan of Disney’s animated films since I was very young, and I still own my collection of Disney films on VHS that I watched and re-watched throughout my younger years. In recent years I have fallen a bit behind on the Disney animation train, though, and also did not see their films The Princess and The Frog and Tangled until a long time after their releases. Continuing this trend I waited to watch Frozen, and I can say now that I wish I had watched it during the Christmas season! Frozen tells the story of two sisters, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), who become estranged when the former’s dangerous ability to control ice and snow drive her into isolation.

What stood out most to me about this film was the beautiful animation. Much like Tangled, Frozen combines computer animation with elements of the hand drawn animation I grew up with. The snow and ice effects are very convincing, especially when the Snow Queen, Elsa, is using her chilling abilities. The character designs reflect the classic caricature-esque features of early Disney animated characters, which brought a smile to my face. It’s evident that the animators did their research concerning the cold Norwegian setting the film is based in.

Now, of course, I need to talk about the music. It’s a musical, after all! I’ve heard many of the songs from this film countless times since its release, and actually expected to be slightly annoyed by them in the film. On the contrary, the talent behind these songs really caused them to win me over. These songs are some of the best Disney has put out since Mulan, another film in the Disney repertoire that tried to break away from their traditional princess-themed flicks. The standouts are, without surprise, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “Let It Go”, though I found “Love Is an Open Door” to be one of my favorite songs in the film, because of its style and humor.

This brings me to the final aspect of the film I’ll discuss. A large part of Frozen’s
popularity comes from its portrayal of female characters. Disney seems to have been working hard in recent years to break away from the mold they’ve set for themselves over the past seventy years, especially now that their old films tend to come under fire for teaching young girls the wrong lessons about what it is to be a woman. What I appreciated about Frozen was that it was not too heavy handed in its attempt at righting these old wrongs. Some of the changes made were more obvious, such as Kristoff being burly and blonde instead of tall-dark-and-handsome, but overall I didn’t feel like Mickey Mouse was beating me over the head and apologizing profusely for past sins. The princesses are still a bit too cookie-cutter in their design, with little risk or progressiveness on that front. When it comes to personalty, though, the female characters were done very well. Unlike Snow White and Princess Aurora, Elsa and Anna felt like real people for the most part, and real sisters as well.

Overall I think Frozen was a complete surprise, and was definitely a step in the right direction for Disney. They have captured some of the charm and warmth of the Disney Renaissance in this winter tale, while also making steps toward creating more interesting characters and relationships in their stories. If Disney continues to shoot for compelling personalities and relationships, their modern animated films stand a chance of becoming just as classic as the films I watched on VHS when I was a child.

Skip It|Rent It|Own It|

P.S. The trolls were a bit weird. I didn’t really feel like they fit in with the style and feel of the rest of the film. Was that just me?

Let me know your thoughts on the film! Next Review- Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Street Art (A Change of Pace)

Hey, bloggers and blog readers! I know I’ve been blogging a lot lately about moving, so I thought I’d post something different this week! I realize I haven’t posted anything art related in a while, so I figured I’d fix that. Today in my political science class we talked about graffiti and street art, and I thought I’d blog my thoughts on the matter!

In our modern world, where most everything in commodified through merchandise and kitsche products, street art is the newest incarnation of the avant garde. The avant garde work outside of the box, creating experimental and innovative ways to send a message. Street artists fit this mold perfectly. Graffiti and street art push the boundaries of what is acceptable, and that is exactly what the art world needs right now. This paper will argue that the avant garde is not lost to us, it has simply taken a new form in street art. The very nature of street art puts it on the edge of the acceptable. The act of creating this art is illegal. Many people look at the art and see it as a corruption of what art should be. This is the same reaction artists in the Dada and Pop Art movements received.

Street artists push the envelope, appropriating ideas and imagery in order to send a social or political message. The fact that street artists are similar to previous avant garde artists is not the only reason they are avant garde. The fight against kitsche is strong in the world of street art.  A large majority of street artists remain mysterious figures, using pseudonyms and wearing masks when they create their art. These artists work without the hope of recognition. This makes it quite difficult to commodify the work. Some might argue that this anonymity is simply to avoid the law. Many street artists who have been interviewed have spoken out against the current state of the art world, criticizing the abundance of and reliance on kitche art as a means of becoming famous and successful. Many artists gravitate toward work in the streets to avoid falling into this trap. Street art is site specific, using everything from buildings to ventilation grates as part of the work. The work is usually stationary or temporary, making it difficult to commodify.

Street art, like the avant garde, works to promote social reform. The work of artists such as Banksy criticizes the practices of large corporations and political systems. Groups of street artists in large cities have taken to altering billboards as a means of pointing out the problems with advertising and society as a whole. This paper will argue that this is what artists have been pushed to in our current world. Artists who want to really send a message must work on the fringes of society in order to escape the dilution of their cause that would come with commodification.

Street art is something I’ve been interested in for a long time, and these are just my thoughts, as an artist, on the art. Hopefully you enjoyed this break from talk about moving! Have a great three day weekend, everyone!

Podcast I’m Blogging To: “Authenticity” by NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour

Anyone looking for a place to live?

Hey bloggers and readers! I’m sure you’re probably all sick of reading about my move, but hey, it’s a big part of my life right now! I’ll put out another post completely unrelated to moving on Friday, though. Maybe it’ll be about painting, podcasts, or play going. Who knows!

In the mean time, here’s the situation. On Sunday I’m moving into a three bedroom apartment at the Boardwalk Apartments behind campus. I’m in love with the place, and I’m super excited. There’s just one catch, though! The person who was supposed to move into our third bedroom bailed on us unexpectedly, just a few days before the move! So now my roommate Matt and I are scrambling to find a third person to live in our awesome three bedroom place. We’re going to move in despite the setback, but we’ve mounted a search with flyers, Facebook posts, Craigslist ads, and good ol’ fashioned word of mouth!

I figured this was a good place to reach out to the student population and see if anyone is interested in living right behind campus!

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There’s our flyer! If anyone reading is interested or might know someone who is, let me know!