Movie Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) *Spoiler Free*

I was excited to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets for the sole reason that, based on the trailers, it was writer/director, Luc Besson's return to his visionary best since The Fifth Element (1997). Beyond that I'm not familiar with the comic series, Valerian and Laureline, that the movie is based upon.

The comparison to The Fifth Element is very easy to make as the visual style of Valerian is very similar. So much so that it could easily be another story set in a different part of the same universe.

Q.bo One - Kind of Creepy Robot Head, in a 'Foot-Bowl'

Q.bo Robot... I think this girl may
be thinking about eating robot brains?
The makers of Q.bo One are promoting their educational robot as a family friendly companion for your home but, at the same time, it is, pretty much, a robot head in an amputated foot bowl... which is kind of creepy, right? Or is it just me?

Not to mention this image of the girl (pictured) I took from their Indiegogo fundraiser page. Is she trying to eat that poor robot's brain?

Buy the Skateboard You Want to Skate - etourist Skateboards

etourist Skateboards
Most skaters like to buy and skate the Pro-Model skateboard of their favorite skater, which is fine, and you should absolutely do that. It supports the skater and allows them to continue getting free stuff and/or paid to do what they love.

It's not often that skaters think about the artist creating the graphics that appear on the decks they buy, unless they particularly like a design, in which case they might give it some attention.

As much as I've enjoyed skating pro-models of my favorite skaters, I also know that skating a deck with a design that I really like motivates me even more to skate often and progress. You just feel good skating a good looking deck with a great board graphic.

Building Backyard Skateboard Mini Ramps

Back in the day I designed and built the majority of the skateboard ramps my friends and I skated at our house. Though I had plenty of help building because what skater doesn't want to help a new skate ramp get built as quickly as possible?

The crowning glory of all the ramps I built was my backyard mini (pictured), which I've written about before in this blog.

It started out as a 16 foot wide, 4 foot high, 30 foot long mini, to which I later added 1 foot extensions. It probably had a 6 foot transition but I can't be sure. I used to draw transition templates free hand and just eyeball it until it looked right to me. I never worked off a plan either. It's not a hard structure to just plan as you go.

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming (2017) *Spoiler Free*

Spider-Man Homecoming delivers on the promise of the new Spider-Man from Captain America, Civil War, with an enjoyable stand alone Spidey film that also clearly shows where the character fits in relation to the Avengers.

Tom Holland continues to shine as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man with a good mix of self conscious uncertainty as well as decisiveness and resolve, when needed.

In this film Peter is initially obsessed with becoming a fully fledged Avenger. In the meantime he's working hard at being a 'friendly neighborhood Spider-Man', looking for ways to impress Tony Stark with his superhero capabilities.

In the process he discovers alien technology based weapons are being sold to street level criminals, which sets him on the trail of the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton.

TV Series Review: 12 Monkeys (2015 - Season 1 ) *Spoiler Free*

Being a fan of the 1995, Terry Gilliam movie, Twelve Monkeys, when I discovered SyFy channel had adapted it into a TV series, 12 Monkeys, I was interested to see how that would pan out.

Although the show has been aired in Australia on free to air TV (I'm pretty sure I've seen it listed there at ridiculous hours on occasion), it's only recently that the first two seasons were added to Australian Netflix. So I added it to my list of shows to watch.

This article is not so much a review of the show, rather it's my thoughts on adapting to the TV version after being a big fan of the film. At this point, I've only seen all of season one and the first episode of season two.

Going into the TV series I literally went in cold, not knowing anything about the approach to this adaptation from pre-publicity or trailers beforehand. I didn't really have any expectations other than wondering if the show would stick to the movie plot lines closely and, if they did, how would they make the show surprising if you knew how the film ended.

Bailey - In His Shadow

Bailey - R.I.P.
Our English Cocker Spaniel, Bailey, passed away recently. He had an aggressive, inoperable tumor in his abdomen that sent him into a relatively rapid decline within the course of a few weeks.

Unfortunately we had to make that dreaded decision of pain over quality of life for a much loved family member. Bailey was struggling with going to the bathroom and holding food down. He was no longer able to go for walks and his enthusiasm for barking at next door's cat in our front yard was getting less and less.

Despite all this he still had moments where he seemed perfectly fine, even wagging his tail.

Our vet seemed to think he didn't have long with such an aggressive tumor, particularly if it ruptured, which would cause Bailey to bleed to death. Not a nice way to go, and something I experienced first hand with our cat, Casper.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017) *Spoiler Free*

Wonder Woman is by far the most satisfying of the DCEU film series to date. By the end of the movie the thought passed through my mind that if Zac Snyder had given Superman a similar optimism (he's credited as both a Producer and co-writer on Wonder Woman), that character would be in a better place now.

That isn't a totally surprising thought as director, Patty Jenkins, has not only stated that her Wonder Woman takes some inspiration from Richard Donner's 1978 Superman movie but also Superman is a character she'd like to make a film about too.

As much as I'd like to see Patty's version of Superman, here's hoping she will stick around to complete Wonder Woman 2, now that she isn't tied to an origin story and can set any subsequent movie within the modern day DCEU.

All that aside, if you're a fan of Gal Godot's Wonder Woman from Batman v Superman, this movie will certainly cement that fandom by clearly defining exactly how awesome the live action version of the character can be.

How Two Bolts Ruined a Day

Things weren't looking good for
our Water Heater at this point.
It's surprising how two bolts breaking can totally screw up your day.

Our electric water heater died. Specifically the element that does the actual heating failed and needed replacing.

The job is a relatively simple task. .Undo the four bolts holding in the old element, disconnect and remove, put in the new element, reconnect and you're good to go. Shouldn't take more than 30 minutes at most.

That's how I thought the day might go. Not for me personally but for the electrician our landlord hired to do the job.

Robot Uprising: Patrolling Your Home, Garden and Now The Streets!

iRobot's Roomba...
when home robots attack!
Many people think of the inevitable Robot Uprising as a humanoid, Terminator like, robot army, wielding laser guns, hunting us down in some kind of distant future, human Armageddon. What they don't realize is that the robot armies are already taking shape, albeit in a much more passive aggressive form.

I've previously documented the Roomba as the first wave of mass produced robots surveilling your home under the guise of being a floor vacuum.

These irritating devices are supposed to quietly work away in the background while you perform Yoga poses in peaceful bliss but are actually noisy enough to attract your attention and... why does the thing keep missing that one spot in the middle of the floor but has cleaned the same corner four times already!

Skateboarding, Not Just For Young People - How Old are You?

I was watching one of those tacky relationship repair shows that are kind of like watching a car crash - you know you shouldn't look but you just can't help yourself. In this particular episode one male partner had decided to take his temporary, switch partner skateboarding as a way of helping her try things more fun and out of her comfort zone. Predictably she wasn't happy, at first.

"How old are you?" was one of her stand out comments. You hear this so often as a skateboarder, once you start getting into your thirties and beyond. Specifically from females who've 'grown up' and have to deal with serious things like family and careers.

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) *Spoiler Free*

Is Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 as good as the first movie which was received so well? Overall I would say yes it is but I would give the first movie a slight edge.

I say that mainly because everything the original movie had to offer was new, exciting and unlike any Marvel movie released to that point - and it delivered on all the promises seen in the trailers and then some.

Volume 2 doesn't have the benefit of being completely new but it makes up for that with new characters, locations and the chance to dive deeper into existing and new character relationships.

Right Now is a Great Time to Invest in Virtual Reality

HTC Vive Virtual Reality System.
Image: vive.com
Virtual Reality is a business opportunity waiting to happen in so many niche markets.

Currently you can experience a kind of Virtual Reality using just your mobile phone and one of the many affordable phone VR headsets, with the most basic being Google Cardboard.

But the real VR experience is immersive, allowing you to interact with the virtual environment. To do that you need equipment that is much more sophisticated, requires more space, and is more costly than a simple phone based headset.

Revisiting the 'Flying Car' - How much closer are we?

Movie Flying Cars - Doc Brown's Delorean (top)
S.H.I.E.L.D's Agent Colsen's 'Lola' (bottom).
My idea (and probably your idea) of a flying car is something that looks like the cars we know today but with the ability to fly through some kind of 'magic' technology that has yet to be invented. Doc Brown's flying Delorean, time machine from Back to the Future or Agent Colsen's Lola from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are two good examples.

Unfortunately anti-gravity vehicles have yet to be invented and attaching some kind of jet turbine thrusters that point downward seems like a lot of pedestrians could get burned when flying at low altitude on trip down the road to the shops. (Assuming that a downward pointing jet engine in each wheel would actually work).

The Flat Earthers and High Altitude Ballooning

The Earth is flat. You can easily prove this for yourself. Just grab the biggest hard edged ruler you have, put the edge up against the ground (preferably on a bit with no bumps) and you'll see the Earth does not curve away from the ruler. It's flat from end to end.

I'm the first to admit I don't know a lot about the beliefs of modern day 'Flat Earth' believers other than they believe the Earth to be flat and not spherical as Science has generally demonstrated since before we could send people into space and actually see for ourselves.

Movie Review/Opinion: The Lego Batman Movie (2017) *Spoiler Free*

I've heard many people say The Lego Batman Movie is one of the best Batman movies you'll see. Better than 2016's Batman v Superman even. I tend to disagree.

I enjoyed Lego Batman. It's a fun movie and, is especially a great Batman movie for younger Bat fans (say eight years and younger) because it is fairly fast paced, with plenty to keep younger viewers engaged.

For older fans, all the nods  to Batman's 75 plus year history are fun inclusions that will have your remote's pause button working overtime when the film gets a home release.

LEIF Tech ESnowboard - It's an Electric RipStik with Training Wheels... and I want one!

The LEIF Tech ESnowboard, whilst it moves a lot like a snowboard, is really more related to a RipStik combined with an Electric Skateboard. Granted the hooks for your feet on the top are very snowboard like, they're not entirely essential (and it's recommended beginners remove them until they're used to general riding around).

That said, watching someone fully proficient with riding a LEIF ESnowboard is kind of like watching a snowboarder riding on concrete in the Summertime... and it looks like so much fun.

Jim Thiebaud, SMA, Sanity, Giraffe Skateboard - My Grail Deck

TET. Frontside Ollie out of the extension.
Jenkinson Street Mini ramp. 1990-ish?
I'm not a skateboard collector but I do have a 'Grail' deck. A favorite skateboard that I once owned and have fond memories of riding. A skateboard from the 1980's and 90's that is, these days, generally referred to as an 'old school' deck. My Grail is a 1990, Jim Thiebaud, Santa Monica Airlines, Red Wood Stain, Sanity, Giraffe deck with Red, Powell-Peralta, T-Bone Wheels. That's the deck I'm riding in the photo above, on the backyard mini I designed and built, back in 1990.

Skateboard collecting has become a thing. Generally more popular with skateboarders, who actually were skating through the 1980's and 1990's, seeing the transition from fairly flat, 'fish tail' style decks, through to the modern standard, Popsicle decks that phased out nearly every other deck shape in their wake.

Three Skateparks Near Port Adelaide, South Australia

It's rare that I find myself anywhere with time to kill. On a recent Saturday my partner invited me to Port Adelaide so we could eat fish and chips on the beach and watch the sun set after her NIA class. This gave me four hours to kill. I decided to take my skateboard.

Suspecting there were quite a few skateparks not too far from Port Adelaide, a quick search of skateboard.com.au for Adelaide Skateparks proved me right.

Creating a Blog Business: Digital Art and Animation / Part 4: You're Not Going to Like This and Further Resources

If you're a regular reader of this blog, or at least trying to be if I'd just stick to posting at least one article per week, you may have noticed it's been a few weeks since my last entry.

You may also be wondering, where is the real part 4 in my Creating a Blog Business: Digital Art and Animation series? The truth is, I hit a wall with this series in that, writing about the steps to starting a blog business, whilst trying to actually start a blog business, is more of a commitment than I'm able to make just at the moment.

Creating a Blog Business: Digital Art and Animation / Part 3: Income (Ways to Make Money)

The whole point of creating the blog Digital Art and Animation is to earn money that can at least pay my bills whilst I get to write about and explore a topic I'm very passionate about, for a living.

Ideally, I want to do more than cover expenses. The business needs to be profitable and, maybe, something I can sell as a going concern, should I decide to move on to something else. In this post I'll look at some of the ways you can make money from writing a blog.

Creating a Blog Business: Digital Art and Animation / Part 2: Researching Competitors

Setting up a blog website is so easy and cheap it's tempting to just register a domain, link it to a blogging platform and then just start blogging. Why not, right? Everything else you can just work out as you go. That's how I started all my other blogs and look how well they're doing... (see part 1 in this series).

To summarize, I started this blog in 2004 and my Animation and Video blog in 2008. At the time of writing, both blogs combined earn me enough income to buy a cheap lunch once a month.

Let's do something a little crazy and try a bit of research and planning before launching the digitalartandanimaton.com site. In doing so, I should be able to, at the very least, earn a higher monthly income than my current blogs, a lot sooner (like years sooner).

Creating a Blog Business: Digital Art and Animation / Part 1: First Step

Interested in starting a profitable blog? Gain valuable insight following the progress of a real blog business from idea to reality. After completing a 13 part blog series on how to start your own independent, mobile Artist business I thought, why not back up some of that knowledge and experience with an actual, real example, of starting an online business from scratch?

Creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business - Part 13: Expansion

If your business is keeping you busy that can be a good sign, however, if you've reached capacity with your schedule and are still not earning the income you hoped for (or you just want to earn more), it may be time to think about expansion.

In the previous post I suggested 'over commitment' as a potential pitfall that could lead to bad word of mouth and a loss of future business. One way I suggested to overcome this is to hire trusted freelancers to do the excess work for you.

Which is great if you're providing an arts based service that doesn't rely on your specific artistic talent. Not as useful if you personally are being commissioned to create art in your unique style.

However I have an option for you too...

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