Friday, October 29, 2010

Artist Spotlight | Marian Bantjes

 Last night, I had the pleasure of listening to Marian Bantjes promote her newly released book titled I Wonder. In an almost comical statement, she said that she could hardly describe exactly what this work is about in less than two minutes. I agree. 

For a bit of background, Marian Bantjes is an artist/graphic designer/illustrator/writer. She dropped out of art school and began working at a printer where she developed a love of type and typography. After a 10 year career there, she and a friend started a business together. They worked together for quite some time and Ms. Bantjes eventually realized that it was not what she wanted to do. She gave her portion of the company to her friend and after four years, she discovered what it was that she wanted to do.

If you have ever seen her work, it is meticulously detailed with lots of subtle repetition and careful placement. She is inspired by illuminated texts, religious ornamentation, heraldry and more. I discovered her like a child discovers an artist from days past. Without knowing who she is, you might have seen her work. She has graced the covers of several magazines and even designed materials for Nieman Marcus. Surprisingly, she works with many American and international companies despite the fact that she is from—and lives—in Canada.

For more information about Marian, visit her website. She explains more about herself and her influences/inspiration/history/you name it. You can look at all of her beautifully executed pieces and maybe buy I Wonder so you can sit down and read through it (I thoroughly enjoyed it to be honest).

Image of Marian Bantjes via Computer Arts

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'll whip my hair back and forth

You know, I recall my mother avidly hating the music that my sisters and I listened to when we were children. In many ways, it is almost like a tradition—parents will dislike your music and you will in turn dislike the music your children enjoy. However, as I grew older, I understood the reasons why my mother did not like the music that I sang and memorized from the radio. The true meanings behind the lyrics weren't appropriate for someone of my age and it was a big change from the music that she liked.

However, while I can appreciate the oldies that my mother likes, I can still like the music I listened to when I grew up. Yet the music of this generation is not really that appealing to me. There are artists that come out with fairly good music, but I feel that the story is now something that I don't relate to any longer. While kids devour these manufactured songs that have little to no purpose, I explore songs that have been out for years and rediscover old favorites—or keep to the artists that aren't as mainstream.

So, when Willow Smith's song came out, it was something that actually made me laugh. She's a nine-year old with a definite style of her own creation. Her confidence in her choice of dress and hair-do—though unusual—should be inspiring. Not many have the bravery to do something that the world might not like or that will cause others to stare. People become slaves of conformity. While I received stares and giggles for wearing harem pants to the grocery store one day, it was my own thing and my own style (they were the rage in Paris, but it hasn't caught on in the US). 

Even though Willow Smith is taking a Lady Gaga route in some people's opinions, I must applaud her. She is not doing anything too grown in her video and her lyrics are playful and amusing. If anything, she makes a great role model for the kids of today. She shows that she can be something great at nine years old, even if the adults of today don't like it. With that in mind, check out her music video, it might just make you whip your hair back and forth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Now in season

I love candy corn, if for no other reason than the fact that they are candy. Hope you are preparing for a fun Halloween, reader. If not, enjoy this literal eye candy.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, October 18, 2010

Film Review | Red

To be completely honest with you, reader, I did not know much about Red, but I wanted to see it. Unlike most of my movie picks, I didn't check out the official site or follow it avidly until it opened. Instead, I saw one glimpse of Helen Mirren shooting someone followed by quick shots of Morgan Freeman and Bruce Willis. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised after watching this engaging film. Hit the jump for the full review (sans spoilers).

Grade: A-

Friday, October 15, 2010

Be water, my friend

Earlier this year, I remember reading an article about how little we (as humans) know about water. It is an elusive topic and one that is being brought to the forefront as Blog Action Day 2010 kicks off. Water covers nearly three-quarters of the earth's surface, yet it remains a mystery. Space travel is like a thing of the past, yet what lies beneath the ocean continues to daunt scientists. 

Water is so versatile. It can soothe, it can refresh, it can relax, it can clean, it can power. Water is also dangerous. It can flood a village, it can freeze onto roads, it can rush onto beaches and it can sink a ship. Water can also be completely breathtaking and it can provide energy. Yet somehow, despite its faces, water is essential for each of us. Unlike manufactured beverages like soda and wine, water requires no other ingredients—it is the way it is. Every creature requires water to survive and water is part of nearly every aspect of our lives. 

Perhaps that is why it is a shame that we know so little about it. Statistics float to the surface every now and then—did you know that we use less than 1% of the world's available water? —but it seems that nothing ever comes out of them. There are still more than 800 million people worldwide that do not have access to healthy, clean drinking water. The majority of water on Earth is found in the oceans. Although costs of desalination are decreasing, it is still rather expensive to convert salt water to drinking water—and that does not work for the poor countries that need water the most.

How can we know more about water? What will truly raise our awareness of what it is? We gain so much from our oceans, rivers and lakes. We (as humans) are also not the only ones that need and use water. The sea life that inhabits Earth's waters are also affected by our knowledge. This great balance that water provides to the other elements is responsible for our survival and if we are to survive, I believe we should learn more.

Though I continue to talk about learning more about the world's water, I don't want it to seem like we are completely uninformed. However, while many aspects of life are placed on pedestals—oil consumption and energy, technology, and "green" living/sustainability—water is always pushed to the background. Projects to provide drinking water or to advance our knowledge of water generally fail or are underfunded. However, efforts are being made to remedy this fact and providing water to poor countries can be accomplished. By signing the petition to build an International Water Treaty providing everyone in the world with clean water, you can take action.

For more information about water, visit If you would like to know more about Blog Action Day 2010 and how you can be involved, visit

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If only I smelled like a monster...

Game Review | Sonic 4

After much waiting, I finally downloaded Sonic 4: Episode 1 from Nintendo's WiiWare on Monday. I had been looking forward to this moment for quite some time and I honestly was not unimpressed. The game has the same side-scrolling charm. The enemies look quite similar to their classic counterparts, but they have been updated with better rendering. Even the rings are looking shiny and new. For the full review, please hit the jump.

Thursday Traffic | 14 October

I've been a bit busy these past couple weeks working on some things. That explains my lack of blogging and my sudden interest in "busy-ness". See, many people today lead very busy lives. Some are busy in five hour meetings that would have served better as a ten-minute pow-wow around a water cooler. A few others are busy complaining about how busy they are. Others are busy looking busy so that no one suspects that they aren't busy. In fact, being busy is something that is almost expected of us.

Have you heard that saying, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop"? I must disagree. First of all, what most of us are busy doing does not matter in the long run. The things that people nearly kill themselves to accomplish could be completed at a normal pace and still yield the same results. Secondly, while it is excellent to be engaged in projects for the health of your mind, being too busy causes stress and can result in more harm than good. Third, there is no need to be so busy that we are not able to spend time with our friends, family and other people that matter to us.

So are you too busy to take a moment and breathe? If so, don't pat yourself on the back and do a victory dance. Instead, reflect on where your time went and how it was spent. We live in a fast-paced society nowadays. We no longer have to wait two weeks or more for a letter to reach a friend overseas (then, an additional amount of time to receive a response). The convenience of cell phones, modern agriculture and packaging, the internet and transportation have revolutionized our way of life. Because of this, I believe that we shouldn't be as busy—if anything, we should have more time to spend doing things that we like instead of busy work.

What do you think?

Photo via flickr/Techne