Monthly Archives: October 2016

Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo (MICE)


Cambridge is one of many Boston neighborhoods that is fun to roam around.  With interesting landmarks like Harvard University and the Cambridge Galleria, Cambridge will make for a great day trip in the city.  Famous speakers pop into Harvard University to discuss a topic that is relevant to the world today.  Other famous universities around Cambridge include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge College, and Lesly University.

Lesley University is a private university that specializes in art and design.  Thousands of students flock to Lesley to show off their artistic skill to their professors.  Whether it is piecing together short stories or painting new pictures, artists from all across the country apply to Lesley University to become an amazing artist.  There are special panel events that students can attend to gain some insight from other well-known artists in the area.  This past weekend, I went into Lesley University to attend MICE.

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MICE, or the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is an expo celebrating comic book designs from independent creators.  This was the 7th annual event that took place on October 29th-30th at Lesley University.  It was produced by the Boston Comic Arts Foundation, aiming to introduce local readers of all ages to the variety of art and storytelling in independent comics.  There were two levels filled with exhibitors showing off their masterpieces.  Upon entering the exhibits, I have seen some of the most spectacular work ever on comic books, posters, stickers, and other materials.

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Some of the work was so impressive that I just had to stop and chat with them for a bit.  Upon entering the first area, I noticed a big colorful poster that had the movie title Showgirls on the bottom of the design.  That was what drew me to talk with Chris, the comic book designer from Brooklyn.  I mentioned that I really enjoyed viewing the colorful poster and the comic version of The Room.  He mentioned that his love for bad movies inspired him to create an animated comic out of the cult films that flopped in the box office.  Another unique thing I noticed was that all of his business cards featured a tarot-card like design on the back of each card.  This was a really cool idea and praised him to continue making more works of art like this.

Earlier in the same area, I noticed a book showing Peanuts-like drawings in a comic strip design.  While it didn’t feature Charlie Brown or Snoopy, the drawings drew me into that similar environment.  When talking to the comic artist/illustrator Jesse, he mentioned that he was influenced by Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip when creating Year ‘Round Days.  I really liked where he got his inspirations from and was impressed by how familiar the art work was.  It was a cool comic-strip showcasing his lifetime experiences with interesting stories in each page.

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Another exhibit table showed a colorful design of Kirby and his friends, which prompted me to talk to designer Madeline.  It was then that I told her that I really liked the drawing of the Kirby gang and she told me that she really loved Kirby after playing Kirby 64: The Crystal ShardsKirby 64: The Crystal Shards was actually one of my favorite games for the N64 and was pleased to see how that game inspired her!  Other works included a drawing of Rini from Sailor Moon and No-Face from Spirited Away.  Madeline really did a great job drawing the familiar characters and utilizing colors to make them pop out good.  I thanked her for discussing her artwork with me and moved on to check out other areas.

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In another room, I noticed small cards on one of the exhibit tables.  All of the cards were referring to popular characters from cult films/TV shows.  Some of the characters I recognized were Wolverine, The Incredible Hulk, Freddie Krueger, Batman, Jason Voorhees, and other popular figures.  What was unique about the cards were that each character was transformed into fairy creatures.  I spoke with the conart creator Jay about how amazing they were and he showed me a few comics he works on as well.  His fairy creatures were very well done, with each character showing off their flair in the card.

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I was just heading into another room of the exhibit and I noticed some mini comics that were sketched using pencils.  The title was Feeling Worthless? and it featured self-help tip for people suffering from mental health issues.  I spoke with the creator, LB Lee, on how interesting his idea was as a comic.  This was an interesting concept that is entertaining and could give people a purpose to not feel so worthless sometimes.  His idea was amazing and I praised him to continue doing more work like this around Boston.

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Overall this was an amazing comic book expo to attend this past weekend.  I don’t read a lot of comic books in my spare time, but it was interesting to see lots of artists gathering together to show off their finished works of art on display.  The event was free for everyone and you could spend HOURS looking through all of the work people made for the event.  While my specialty belongs with writing, I did learn some things while being in a big room with artists.

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Whether you’re a writer or animator, artists gather together to create something meaningful in their lives.  Being an artist doesn’t mean that you can pick up a pen and draw a picture of pig; it means looking deep down with yourself as how you see the pig being drawn.  Maybe the pig is colored blue or maybe his snout has monster-like features that make him a mutant.  Whatever creative idea you come up with, it was designed from your imagination.

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As the writer of MakeSandcastlesNotWar, I know that I can’t just write a short summary of American Horror Story.  I have to juice up the story with interesting detail, crafting the story to be something relatable to all audiences.  This writing tip applies to many instances when I write about television, movies, music, fashion, cannabis, social media, and other categories.  Anybody can say they are able to read and write, but it takes LOTS of work to write something truly amazing from your creative perspective.  After attending the MICE event, I definitely took away some interesting tips that will shape MakeSandcastlesNotWar to become a better blog in the near future.

 

My CBD Experience at The Hempest


Yesterday I took a stroll through Newbury street in Boston.  Newbury and Boylston street are my favorite areas because of their shops and delicious restaurants.  One of my favorite stores on Newbury street is The Hempest, a Boston-based clothing store selling products made of hemp.  From T-shirts to belts, every article of clothing was made from organic hemp material.

Other than hemp clothing, The Hempest sells water pipes and grinders for tobacco or cannabis use (Boston is a 4/20-friendly state even though it’s considered illegal in the state of MA).  The Hempest provides a wide range of pipes, bongs, hemp wick, rolling paper, grinders, and other cannabis accessories.  I have seen this stuff when visiting the shop earlier, but they have expanded their product lines since expanding to a two-floor shop in the recent years.  What really caught my eyes were the line of products that contained CBD oil.

While browsing around the shop, I talked with the employees about the kinds of CBD oil products that they sold.  One woman handed me a basket of vials that contains 100mg of pure CBD oil within each one.  Each vial costs $40 and can be inserted into your vaporizer.  Not only did they sell vials, but they also provide the whole kit that you use to consume the oil.  The personal kits contain a vaporizer pen, a battery, and a charger for when your battery dies.  I thanked her for letting me view some of the products and left the shop feeling intrigued.

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of over 113 active cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant.  It makes up 40% of the plant’s extract, containing a wide scope of medical benefits.  Cannabidiol can be treated for a wide range of medical issues such as pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, anxiety, depression, Crohn’s disease, and many other health problems.  Unlike the popular chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive chemical found in cannabis.  Users cannot get ‘high’ from consuming too much cannabidiol because of it’s non-psychoactive effects.  What’s surprising is that even with little knowledge surrounding cannabidiol, CBD is considered legal medicine in the United States.  Massachusetts is one of many states that openly sells CBD-infused products because it doesn’t contain any psychoactive effects after consumption.  With all of the news surrounding the surprising benefits of CBD, many opponents are starting to shift towards legalizing cannabis due to these groundbreaking findings.

What could the rise of CBD-infused products hold for the cannabis industry?  Could CBD be the secret key to unlocking the new perceptions of cannabis in society?  Would this market strategy be the route to successfully legalizing recreational cannabis in the state of Massachusetts?  This strategy seems to be working well because many consumers are being positively informed about the benefits of CBD oils.  Not only is the rising demand of CBD-infused products causing people to second-guess the ideas of cannabis prohibition, but it’s also segmenting society into a new business containing unique product lines for that niche target audience.

This field trip really got me thinking about the pot-friendly accessories being sold around Boston.  While recreational cannabis is illegal to purchase in MA (except if you have an MMJ card), CBD oil is available around various stores in the Boston area.  And with question 4 being on the ballot this year, I have noticed a stronger push for the cannabis industry to make waves in Massachusetts.  Whatever stance wins on November 8th, CBD is becoming the hip new chemical that people are looking for in cannabis.  Consumers have been shopping for cannabis flowers containing lower THC levels these days because they want to have a satisfying experience after consumption.  Flowers with low THC levels and CBD products could be the quintessential product strategy that could cause the wind to steer the ship towards a new adventure in the cannabis industry.

The Shiny/Painted Legs Optical Illusion


Last February people caught wind of a shocking internet sensation that was known as ‘The Dress’.  The Dress was viral meme where viewers disagreed whether the color of the dress was black and blue or white and gold.  Over 10 million tweets mentioned The Dress with hashtags such as #thedress, #blackandblue, and #whiteandgold.  It was the shocking photo that made millions of people ask the question, “what color is the dress?”.

That meme was SO 2015.  What’s the newest internet meme illusion this time?  The Shiny Legs.  It’s ALL about the shiny legs this year!  For those who are just peeking out from under the rock, the shiny legs meme started after Twitter user @msbreeezyyy posted a photo of shiny legs yesterday afternoon.  The photo was released with the caption, ‘Once you see it you can’t unsee it’.

Millions of viewers are now debating whether they see shiny legs or painted legs.  So what’s the verdict?  Shiny or painted legs?  At first glance, it seemed like they were shiny legs on the photo.  After viewing it a few times, you’ll notice that the white is basically blotches of white paint on the legs.  It may seem like a silly optical illusion trick, but this photo has gone viral in less than 24 hours.

This wasn’t the first popular optical illusion image to have gone viral on social media.  Let’s go back to the time of The Dress – a black and blue/white and gold dress that had everyone scratching their heads.  A washed-out photograph of a dress was posted on Tumblr on February 26th, 2016.  This dress prompted millions of users to discuss what colors they saw and were confused by the other colors people were seeing.  It led to heated arguments about what the colors of the dress were.

So what’s going on here?  Why are people on social media so obsessed with these confusing photos?  These photos are just great examples of optical illusions.  Optical illusions are unique works of visual art that plays tricks on our brains.  Our brain sends messages that the photo is one thing, but then the brain discovers another image within the photo.

Take the classic vase illusion for example.  At first, you see a white vase in the photo.  After viewing the image for a few seconds, you’ll notice two faces in the background between the vase.  You now see that two images are created within the photo that your brain sees.  Optical illusion is a unique art form that interacts with what you see and your brain plays tricks on you, seeing images that aren’t really there.  Similarly, both the vase and the shiny legs internet sensation is an optical illusion where your brain is being fooled by what you are seeing.

It was interesting to see another optical illusion become viral.  Optical illusions were always so fun to look at as a kid and I loved the kind of tricks my brain was playing at the time.  This kind of visual art has a funny way of toying with your mind, conjuring up something that seems to be there.

While everyone is tweeting about whether the legs are shiny or painted, everyone’s brain is playing tricks on them and socializing about it.  Social media acts as a guiding point for people to discuss the art they found earlier.  Who knows, maybe it isn’t even white paint on the woman’s legs.  All we do is sit back and watch the slew of comments roll through social media platforms.

Super Mario 64 Impossible Coin Glitch


Super Mario 64 was one of the best games around for the Nintendo 64.  There were colorful coins to collect, gold stars to grab after completing each mission, enemies to pummel within each world, and you had to fight Bowser three times during the game.  It was a classic game that I enjoyed playing for many years.  There were some frustrating stars to collect, but eventually I beat the whole game with all 120 stars.

While playing through the game, there were some funny glitches that occurred around some of the environment.  Some glitches involved seeing through the inside of the environment and there was even one where you can hop backwards into the final Bowser battle without collecting the required number of stars.  These glitches won’t affect the game too much, but they make for some funny incidents.  One glitch was found on Tiny Huge Island that involves an ‘Impossible Coin’ that is hard to reach.

YouTuber Scott ‘Pannenkoek2012’ Buchanan discovered a new unobtainable coin found on a section in Tiny Huge Island.  Throughout the game, there are 5 coins in each line of coins found within the gaming environment.  From Bob-omb Battlefield to Big Boo’s Haunt, every level has a line of five coins for Mario to collect.  The glitch in Tiny Huge Island is found on a line of four coins near where the bowling balls are being shot out, with one coin discovered underneath the environment.

Pannenkoek2012 released a video discussing the glitch and how there was a limited number of arrangements that the coins could spawn in.  When Mario enters a certain distance to a coin spawner (2000 units to be exact), it spawns 5 coins onto the screen.  The coins spawn 300 units above itself and are separated within 160 units.  Each coin checks how high the floor is, with the floor-checking function starting at 78 units above the coin and searching downward to find the floor.  A special failsafe comes into play where if the coin determines that it is below the floor, then it will immediately unload.  The failsafe ended up affecting the leftmost coin in the line.

So how is this wacky glitch happening?  The coin spawner is located UNDER the ground, thus being a programming glitch with the environment and coin.  Every coin spawner in each level are either on the ground or slightly above the ground.  This coin could’ve been grabbed if the coin spawner were 50 units higher.  Pannenkoek2012 hypothesized that if they changed the slope in order for the coin to spawn, then the bowling balls would’ve slid to the right instead of the left.  This is a surprising glitch that affects the floor, direction of the bowling balls, and number of coins spawning in the area.  What makes this story even more

Note that this isn’t the first ‘Impossible Coin’ that Pannenkoek2012 collected in Super Mario 64.  The first ‘impossible coin’ that he grabbed was on August 7th, 2014.  It was located within another section of Tiny Huge Island underneath the ground by a slope next to the bowling ball generator.  Using a tool-assisted run, Pannenkoek2012 exited the water from the side where he jumped and kicked in order to move himself towards the coin to collect.  Eighteen years later and the ‘impossible coin’ was finally collected.

This was a really cool glitch to hear about in the game!  I played Super Mario 64 for years and was shocked to hear about these ‘impossible coins’ that were hard to find.  Video games aren’t always perfect, but these surprising glitches are always funny to hear about.  Reading about the glitch makes me want to get the Nintendo 64 out and start playing Super Mario 64 all over again.  A few years ago, I collected all of the stars and beat the game with 100% completion.  It was a classic Mario game that featured one of the best soundtracks that I ever listened to.  While I don’t have my Nintendo 64 out with me, I am excited to hear about more interesting glitches that people discover.

T.J. Thyne Angel/Bones Criss-Cross


I just finished the final season of Angel this past week.  It was a memorable, yet strange season to binge-watch on Netflix.  From the bickering between Angel and Spike to seeing Angel being transformed into a puppet, season 5 just went completely off the rails as far as the storyline goes.  Season 5 may have been a bit silly, but there were some surprising cameos I caught earlier in the season.

On ‘Conviction’, I noticed something familiar about the man suited up in a light brown suit, dark blue shirt, and yellow tie.  My Spidey senses urged me to do a IMDB search on my phone while watching the show.  After a quick IMDB search, I was shocked to realized that the man was no other than T.J. Thyne from Fox’s Bones.  David Boreanaz and T.J. Thyne were in Angel before signing on to do Bones.  Another TV Criss-Cross has been spotted!

T.J. Thyne made his first guest appearance on Angel when it aired on October 1st, 2003.  He was born in Boston, Massachusetts and moved south to attend high school at Plano, Texas.  His first appearance on-camera was Doctor Oberman in Friends.  Thyne hit it big on the silver screen when he made a starring role in Fox’s hit series Bones as Dr. Jack Hodgins.  Other shows he has made appearances on include Kenan and Kel, Dharma and Greg, Home Improvement, The Tick, NCIS, and other series.

This was an interesting TV criss-cross to spot!  I caught up with every season of Bones so far and was surprised to see that T.J. Thyne worked with David Boreanaz on Angel.  Dr. Jack Hodgins is the badass bug boy of the Jeffersonian Institute, calling himself ‘King of the Lab’ when he made a breakthrough in the case.  While Angel may have concluded over 12 years ago, Bones is still running its 12th and final season in 2017.  This would be our last year seeing the duo on the silver screen unless another surprising project is in stores for next year.  Until then, we will have to wait until 2017 for the final season of Bones to hit the airwaves.