Jun. 15th, 2014

gurdymonkey: (gurdymonkey2)

Nice relaxing weekend. Saturday I ran a few necessary errands in the morning, one of which involved a detour into the Alameda Goodwill as they had a big sale sign in the window. After fruitless searching for a few weeks for a nice shoulder bag just the right size, I found a very nice Liz Claiborne one in black leather for $5.50. It dates from when cell phones were tall and skinny as it as a little exterior pouch of that shape on one end, but other than that, it's a smart looking bag that may make the trip to Japan instead of an ugly nylon day pack. And hey, even if it doesn't, $5.50.

Also scored a copy of "Japanese Poetic Diaries" (ed. Earl Miner) and a paperback "Smiley's People" at Moe's, as I've gotten back into LeCarre ever since the "Tinker Tailor" remake with Gary Oldman came out. They weren't period pieces when he wrote them, but they're still absorbing.
James was supposed to call me about going to see "Godzilla," and never did, so I met up with Fiore, Jeremy, Staffan and Staffan's Mom for pizza and "How To Train Your Dragon 2," which was every bit as charming as the first one. I will not post spoilers other than to predict there will be a lot of cosplay of a new major character as a result.

As I posted earlier on FB, one of the themes of both HTTYD movies is "Once you've earned his trust, there's nothing he won't do for you." I didn't see the first one in the theaters and only stumbled upon it when it hit cable - only to be completely enchanted by it. There's a moment in the first film, well, it's at about the 2:20 mark of the embedded video. It gets me every single time, because I was that kid once.

As some of you know, from my early teens into my late 30's, I had the privilege of working with horses. Obviously I got to start with worth-their-weight-in-platinum school horses to begin with, but by the time I was about the age of the young people of Berk in the first movie, my trainer was putting me on a fair few "racetrack rejects" who came to our barn with some human-induced traumas trapped inside their horsey little heads.

Someone posted 'Oh, yeah, that happened with my dog' over on FB. It's not the same, though, (particularly not with that doormat of a dog). I bet she never thought "OK, I could die right now if this doesn't work." Bonding with a horse, even a reasonably well schooled one, has a potential for danger. They're a lot bigger and a lot stronger than we are. Even the well trained ones are capable of being startled. The ones who have been roughed up by humans have to learn to trust from scratch all over again when they have good reasons not to. Breakthroughs are measured in moments like this, and they can be hard won indeed.

The film-makers commentary on HTTYD 1 mentions modeling some of Toothless on one of the animator's cats, but the horse analogy holds up to the flying scenes too. Even one's first terrifying canter on a bombproof school horse feels like flight. And jumping one over big wood, well, that IS flight. There's a physicality to it that's hard to explain to someone whose only experience of speed is hanging out the window of an automobile, or even riding a bicycle. Dragon-flight is animated as particularly physical. You see Toothless rowing furiously to climb, or the snap of the wind into his wings as he dives, or the sickening crashes as he struggles to fly with his damaged tail.

Then there's the derpy ears thing. The animators gave Toothless certain attributes of cuteness to make him more expressive. Horses express a great deal with their ears. Forward signals alertness, pasted to their heads means fear or hostility. Tobe here had the derpiest ears ever. They would even flap when he moved.


So yeah. Dragons. Dreamworks got the dragons right.

I came out of HTTYD2 with an idea in my head. I need to scrounge some big plan paper tomorrow at work so I can start roughing it out, but I think I need to build an alpha Night Fury kite.


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