March 2024 - Chris Ullrich dot net
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March 2024

Weekly Roundup 3.9.24

weekly roundup

And, we’re back. Or, more to the point, I am. As I often say, I’m trying to write here more frequently and would prefer it on a regular weekly (or more) basis. Sadly, what I want isn’t always how it turns out. You just have to learn to live with stuff like that I guess.

You know what helps live with things not going your way? Activities. Hobbies. Entertainment. All that kind of non-work and non-BS stuff. You know, distractions. A way to engage your brain in other actives so it doesn’t think about the state of the world and how fucked we may be. Damn, there I go again. Moving on.

This week (as we often do) let’s talk about some of the things I’m currently reading, watching and/or doing.

I’m still in the middle of the audio books for Lord of the Rings as read and performed by Andy Serkis. I’ve made it through Fellowship and I’m almost done with The Two Towers. We’re getting to the big battle towards the end. You know the one.

I’m also still reading Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber. There’s several books and I’m currently deep into Sign of the Unicorn (aka Book Three). Still really enjoying the books. I wonder if we’ll ever get an Amber movie or series? I can see it being a series more than something than a theatrical release. I don’t think it has the deep fanbase The Lord of the Rings has.

It’s more of a story you’d watch on Amazon or Netflix or Hulu. Actually, it would have been a good fit for HBO back when HBO was HBO and needed a followup to Game of Thrones. Although, I guess it’s easier and better for them to just keep making spin-offs or prequels to GOT rather than bring in a whole new series. Business over creative and all that.

Speaking of series based on books, I’ve started watching Shōgun on Hulu. Which, as you may know, is based on the epic novel by James Clavell released in 1975. It’s epic for a lot of reasons but it’s also just a big, long book with lots of words. Not that that’s a bad thing. Just know before you dive into it. It’s a big one.

In short, the show is terrific. I love everything about it. But then, I’ve always been a fan of that time in history, the culture and those types of stories.

I’m currently through episode three and looking forward to the next. But I must confess, I’m really excited for the eventual episode where the Ninjas show up. I’ve always been fascinated by them. Maybe it was watching Chuck Norris in The Octagon when I was way too young that did it. Or reading The Ninja by Eric Van Lusbader. I was probably way too young to be reading that too. Oh well.

Anyway, if you love exciting, interesting stories well-told, check out Shōgun. It’s that good.

I’m also drawing, sketching, painting, etc. again. I missed it. I was drawing or sketching infrequently before, as I’ve done my entire life. I’m just trying to make it a daily habit now.

I think it’s good to focus on something for a time and try not to think about other things. It works. When I’m drawing or painting (or making photos or whatever) I’m only thinking about making the art and not anything else. It’s great, you should try it.

As for why make art at all? Lots of people have said a lot of things about that. I think this quote from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. sums it up nicely:

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

He’s a smart guy. Works for me.

If you’d like to start drawing or sketching or paining, I’ve got a bit of advice on how to begin. You don’t need much in the way of tools. You just need to do it.

And don’t worry, you’re not going to be great at the beginning . . . but you can be. Or, at the very least, good. Stick with it. Have fun and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. This art is for you. If you love making it, that’s what matters.

Here’s the minimum I think you’d want to get started:

A sketchbook – I like the Canson XL mixed media with the blue cover. It’s good for pencil, pen and ink or even some watercolor. My favorite size is currently the 7 x 10, but get whatever size you want and just start using it.

Pencils – It can be as easy as whatever HB pencil you have around the house. And no, that’s not exactly a Number 2 pencil, but it’s close. Try to get one that’s graded as an HB, or try out a few if you can. Maybe you’re more of a 2B or an F? Experiment and see what works for you. But to start, even a Number 2 will do. Or, you can grab a Mars Technico 780 lead holder from Staedtler and some HB leads. That’s what I do most of the time.

It saves on having a pencil sharpener around (although I have a lot of those too) and the 2mm leads are a joy to work with. You’ll probably want an eraser too, at some point. Grab a Tombow Mono Dust Catch and you’re good.

Pens – If you’re feeling confidant, you can skip the pencil and go right to the pen. I have a lot of pens, but for a couple dollars you can’t really beat the Sakura Pigma Micron. I also use a Uni Pin or even a Uniball Vision, if that’s what I have on hand. They’re all fine and can work well.

When you’ve been doing it longer you may find you want to use something like a fountain pen to draw with. People do it all the time. My fountain pen of choice for that is usually either the TWISBI Eco or the Lamy Safari. Each is a great pen and not terribly expensive. You can also write with them too. They’re quite versatile.

And that’s pretty much it. Have fun. Make art.

Until next time, be kind to each other.