March 5th, 2002


Moment I: wind

Beautifully windy day today. I wished devoutly for a kite, but the gods did not materialize one in my closet. Specifically, I want a kite I can set on fire, and then fly, trailing sparkfeathers.

The reason I don't currently HAVE a kite is that I set the last one on fire and flew it in a storm, and watched the swirls of sparks and smoke trace out cryptic runes against the stormy gray. And as the kite lost surface area to encroaching flames, It got harder and harder to control, whipping frenetically, fire/rain/wind/dance. And perhaps the wind tore the kite from the string, or perhaps the flame charred the string and set itself free, but suddenly there was no tension in the string, and the kite plunged and twirled towards the choppy sea, pheonix in reverse, long tail of flames sinking, sizzling, gone. Pheonix curling tail around itself beneath the glassy graygreen sea, to sleep another eon.

It was very lovely.

But I did not have a kite today when I wanted one to set afire. Pheonix sleeps still.

Moment 2: light

My first degree is in computer animation, and it warped me subtly, so that I am unable to look at a scene without decomposing it into primitives and extruded shapes and transparencies and vectors and polygonal meshes. One animation concept that always crosses my mind is volumetric lighting, that is, a "shape" of light. You've seen this: the way a street lamp leaves a cone of orange in the rain, or the way light seems to spill in thin slices from half-open doorways on foggy days, or the colored cylindrical tracks cut by lighting at a smoky club.

This concept is a staple of special effects: laser weapons charge with a spherical glow, alien ships trail cones of green light to abduct the unwary. It's something any 3D animation software can produce, and something I personally think is a lot of fun, and probably overuse in my own works. (for gratuitous but gorgeous abuse of volumetric lighting, go see Lord of the Rings.)

So tonight I was waiting for the bus, and across the road from me was one of Seattle's everpresent orange streetlights, and beneath the streetlight was an ornamental cherry tree just beginning to open its silverpink flowers. So instead of fog to catch the streetlamp's light, there were tiny silver petals, and so I saw a cone-shape of delicate silver/orange and uneven texture. It was very windy, and the wind chased itself around the branches, and shook petals free as falling pieces of broken light. The petals shifted and seethed like the sea, snakescale flakes of light.

It occurred to me that animation technology could in no way accurately replicate this effect. I think this is a very good thing.


Today, someone asked me if I would be willing to do the calligraphy for a kanji tattoo for a friend of his. Less than a week ago, someone asked me if I was interested in painting 'Redemption' on a paddle for a friend of hers. This isn't people who know me doing me a favor because they know I enjoy the inkwork. I've never met the people I'm being recommended to!

I can name three livejournalers who are using calligraphy I did for them as one of their pictures.

Things like this, especially the tattoo (what, you think my calligraphy is good enough to wear on your body the rest of your natural life?!) make me wonder if somehow I ended up being good at this after all. It's a great feeling.