June 25, 2009


So… Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The reviews are out and the response thus far has been quite mixed. And rightly so. There is a lot not to like in this movie. Many characters are wasted and given little to do. Others are annoying or borderline offensive. And speaking of offensive, the film is quite vulgar. There is no way I’d ever recommend a parent allow young children to see this movie. I did not like that aspect of the film at all.


The stuff that was there that I liked… I really liked. I liked it enough to say that I really enjoyed the movie. Although a lot of characters don’t do much, there is more character development for others. Starscream really shines, his portrayal is much better here over the first movie and his line at the end might just be the best in the whole film.

Optimus Prime is quite a dark and violent character this time around. You don’t mess with him! The fight scenes are really brutal, and I really liked them. You got a much better look at what was going on as opposed to the first Transformers movie, and it was much more visually clear as to what is going on. Much easier to follow.

Ultimately, even with everything wrong with it, I still have to say that I liked it overall because this is the only movie where I completely lost it and let out a big cheer in the theater during a certain scene that I won’t spoil. And I know I wasn’t alone in that because it got loud. All I can say about it is that I went in to the film looking forward to seeing The Fallen kick some Autobot ass, and by the time it was over, Optimus Prime had convinced me to join his team.

Now, it’s quite possible that I think my experience in watching Revenge of the Fallen was better than it really was, because of the circumstances surrounding how I saw it. I lead my team to victory at the TFCon Faction Feud trivia contest, and seeing the movie on Monday, before everyone else, was the grand prize. Most of us were able to get together in Toronto to hang out that weekend before the movie started. We all had a blast and it was an unforgettable, irreplaceable experience. Maybe I’d feel differently about the movie had I just gone on my own on any regular day.


Maybe not! Maybe I just liked it, and that’s the way it is.

Anyway, I’m planning to be at the deviantART meet in Toronto tomorrow.


So, this is the latest interesting stuff that’s been going on.

Last week, I bought 6 games for Nintendo Wii. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Zack and Wiki, Both Resident Evil 4 and Umbrella Chronicles, and House of the Dead 2&3. I bought them from someone on Craigslist who was selling his entire video game collection and getting out of the hobby altogether. Total cost for all 6 games: $75. Can’t beat that! They all work fine and are in perfect condition. I’m playing Mario Galaxy now and it is every bit the masterpiece it was purported to be. I’m ashamed that I’m only playing it now instead of when it came out, but considering how little I paid for it, things seem to have worked out ok. Really looking forward to New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2!

On the weekend I participated in a Manga Workshop in Toronto taught by Svetlana Chmakova, who I had met at the Anime North manga workshop last month when she appeared as a suprise panelist. She’s a cool person and a great teacher. I managed to draw the prototype version of an 8 page manga about a slacker artist who loves comic books but goes to a fancy art school and has problems with girls. Go figure, right? The initial idea was a group effort generated by the class, and it spoke to me to I ran with it for my final project. Some time this summer I will finish a good copy of it and you’ll all be able to see the thrilling conclusion. Svetlana said that I was pretty advanced for this class, and I appreciated that because it’s something I probably needed to hear. I still learned a bit and had a lot of fun getting into a serious groove with some manga drawing for a solid block of time.

On Monday I finished the last class of the cartooning class I was teaching on behalf of another company in Toronto. The class as a whole was not well organized, with too wide a range of ages as I noted in an earlier post. By the time it was over, only 4 students remained. But, the ones who did stay liked it a lot. I taught a lesson about creating comic strips, using blank templates I created, and everyone completed more than one page. Most notable was this one really young girl who came up with this hilarious story about a heart (that is, a typical Valentines day-style heart, but with a face, arms, and legs) who goes to different stores around town. Based on my instruction, she drew all the backgrounds and everything like she was supposed to, and took my suggestion of having the heart’s house look like a box of chocolates. In the midst of the heart’s travels, the story’s narration abruptly informs the audience that the heart is old, and has died. Wow, obviously I was not expecting that! The whole town cried (in a panel completely comprised of “Whaa whaa whaa boo hoo” and so forth”) and we are informed that, and I quote, they “did not jump for joy“. The last panel is the heart’s tombstone that says “The End”. I couldn’t have made this up if I tried. It was great. The class wasn’t perfect but I’ll miss those kids.

So I figured I was done with teaching for awhile, but maybe not. We’ll see.

More later.


As of last Friday, I am finished with my teaching commitments at the private school I’ve been teaching my after school drawing program at since this past fall. And not a moment too soon. The whole experience kind of soured me on teaching in many ways. While I like to think I did some good, and I do honestly believe that I largely did make a difference on many of the students, it wasn’t a positive experience all in all.

The few rotten apples in the bunch really made things so much harder than they needed to be, with their constant mouthing off, interruptions, random outbursts, and general disobedience. Just getting them to sit down and be quiet was a chore, and after awhile they’d just forget about it and go back to their normal poor behavior. Usually I wouldn’t care. It’s their money and if they would rather goof around than learn anything, too bad for them. But the school had standards that I wanted to live up to, and it’s hard when bad behavior rubs off on everyone else and they all think it’s ok to act like that.

One thing that really got on my nerves is when I would be drawing something on the board, like the basic shapes of a standard human head, and someone would just yell out “IT LOOKS LIKE ICE CREAM!” or something like that. Then, someone else would have to yell out “IT LOOKS PIZZA!” or “IT LOOKS LIKE A BIRD!“, and sooner or later everyone would be yelling whatever nonsense they thought the simple shapes looked like, completely missing the point of the lesson entirely. I just hated that and I did my best to put a stop to it early.

Another thing was that the class took place in a room used as a high school English class during the day. The teacher who worked in their clearly despised me, clearly didn’t like the idea of his class being used for an after school drawing program, and barely said a word to me the whole year. He really hated the fact that I would, shock of all shocks, actually show up to work early. He actually expected me to just show up exactly when the class started, and didn’t care about the time to set up and prepare that any decent teacher should take before a class. I always left his room in excellent condition when I was done, but this didn’t matter to him one bit. On the last week of classes, I wanted to go in to the room a bit early to set up my laptop, and had given plenty of notice, but my request was refused the day before, due to some tutorial he was apparently holding. So I set up as much as I could out in the hall and waited until I felt it would be ok to go inside. Of course, once he opened the door to let me in there, the room was basically empty, meaning I could have gone in much earlier. I hope I never have to work with that jackass again.

On the bright side, towards the end I did some lessons I’ve always wanted to do. I did a drawing lesson using Spore, showing how to make creatures and having them draw their own. I would pick a drawing that the students did and make it into a creature in the game. It was fun. On the last day of the class with the older students, I brought my Cintiq and did a demonstration on digital art. Finally getting to do something like that was a great joy.

Anyway, for the most part I’m glad its over. I am probably being hard on myself, and it’s true that I’m never really satisfied, but still, it wasn’t a fantastic experience. I can take heart in the fact that I know for sure that at least one student in each of the 2 classes I taught got something out of it, and will likely be well on their way to a great artistic career if they choose. Maybe someday I’ll hire them.

I’m not totally done though. I’ll be back at that school for 2 special days this summer, and the other school I’m working at finishes up next week. It’s been a pretty busy year teaching-wise and there’s still the potential for more. It’s what I’m good at doing so, despite my complaints it’s not like I want to quit or anything, but that doesn’t mean I gotta like it all the time.