Monday, March 30, 2015
A Disney/Dreamworks team up:
No animated kids' feature is complete without a feline sidekick.
We went to see Dreamworks "Home" over the weekend. I'll admit that I might have dozed through some of the movie and may be slightly fuzzy on many of the details, but I did notice that there was a cat and that it looked a bit like the cat in "Big Hero 6."
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Not cute... and dangerously annoyed with humans:
Cats and Robots #14
We can't seem to stop this series. My sons realized that I had neglected to include the automated animals from the "Five Nights at Freddy's" game. My kids' ongoing excitement about this game truly confounds me. I am not sure that the homicidal animatronics in the game really qualify as robots. However, I am going to pass by the opportunity to delve into the metaphysics of the game's back story and just include them here.
As to what cat would be an appropriate companion for Spring Trap and Foxy?...well... it seemed like we needed something frightening... and maybe a bit pissed off. About a year ago, a series of pictures of wet cats were passed around as one of the many offshoots of the lolcat internet (see "22 Hilarious Pictures of Wet Cats" for instance) This image is based on my favorite of the series.
I like the wet cat pictures because they do reveal the felines in their essential forms: skinny, bug-eyed, and very annoyed with humanity.
"Legend of Zelda" meets "Attack on Titan"
Back to Back Badasses Team up:
When I thought about drawing my kids' two favorite sword wielding heroes, it seemed like they should be posed back to back. Unsurprisingly there is an "official" TV trope of action heroes posed this way called "back to back badasses"
Regrettably, "badass" was my sons' favorite word last week. Their enthusiasm does seems to be waning, finally.... But I certainly did not mention the name of theTV trope when I offered up the napkin.
Speaking of badasses...I do find it winning that Eren and Link do not seem to need to be macho in order to be effective heroes. One might even describe them as being a bit girly.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The Tuaca napkin art contest deadline is April 15th.
Having won in 2014, I will not be entering this year, yet it seems I still have some beverage napkin ideas left over from last time.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Cats & Robots #13
Scary at first sight....But actually rather endearing.
In the last post, I said that we were done with the Cats and Robots thing, but it seems that I was wrong.
I decided that Atchoum was so distinctive that he merited last minute inclusion. He is a recent arrival to the feline internet saturation party but is catching up quickly. Google "Atchoum the cat," I dare you. My favorite is the boredpanda.com post: "Atchoum: The Cat Whose Death Glare Will Devour Your Soul."
Of course this is just an ordinary 9 month old cat we are talking about... albeit one with a disorder that prompts him to grow excess fur. Google "hypertrichosis" for a few minutes of fun....Or Google it adding the word "cat," and have less fun, but get many pictures of this particular cat.
I paired him with the Iron Giant's silhouette for a few reasons,. None of these reasons will be particularly convincing, but let's try some of them: My kids refuse to watch the very nice "Iron Giant" movie, althiugh I am not sure whyt. But I haven't given up entirely, so I did not want to leave the giant off of the robot list. I thought Atchoum and the Giant each had some nice glowing eyes framed by black. (Yes, I have used this excuse for previous cat/robot combinations) And they are both initially frightening in appearance, yet friendly in person...or so I hear.
Ansel looked at the napkin today and said, "Oh come on! No one in my class is going to be able to recognize that!"
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Missiles of Cute:
Cats and Robots #12
Pixar's "WALL-E" was released in 2008, but I don't remember when we saw it. Ansel was only one in 2008, so he definitely watched it in the years after its release. While EVE is the love interest of the movie, our kids were much more interested in her ability to sprout and fire plasma weapons.
I think we might be done with the Cats and Robots theme for the moment. I have received several admirable suggestions over the last couple of weeks, but, for various reasons, I don't think I am going to be able to pursue any of them.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Cats & Robots # 11:
Large, glowing blue eyes will get you remarkably far with 8 year olds and Instagram followers.
Ansel really enjoyed "Real Steel," the movie about prizefighting robots back when it was released in 2011 and he has watched it a couple of times since. Atom is the robot underdog, salvaged from burial at a dump by the under-parented kid at the center of the movie. Atom eventually almost triumphs over much glitzier and better funded bots owned by people of questionable character..
The boxing robot has endearingly luminescent blue eyes like social media phenomenon Nala the cat. With 1.8 million followers on her Instagram account, Nala trounces even Grumpy cat on that platform (a mere 598,000 followers.)
One does wonder at the remarkable extent of Nala's internet celebrity. She is certainly a cute cat, and has some winsome baby blues. However, she isn't surrounded by the snarky jokes and commentary that seem to boost the popularity of other cats like Colonel Meow, Grumpy Cat, Garfi and many of the other lol cats and feline memes. Her overall message is mildly upbeat and pro pet adoption.
The Nala website does have an online store with an amazingly extensive selection including Nala throw pillows and over 20 cat sized bow ties and neckerchiefs. But one would imagine the store is a offshoot of the popularity and not its driver.
Could it be the eyes?
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Size still matters:
Cats & Robots #10
Yesterday Archer and I were debating which cat would be the best companion for Mechagodzilla. (These are the kind of compelling questions that I discuss with my sons.) I did consider Mercury, the two legged "T-Rex" cat, because of his similar-to-giant-reptiles upright stance. But the primary problem seemed to be one of scale: how would a domestic cat be visible in relation to a giant robot monster? It seemed like the cat needed to be as large as possible.
There must be a significant online audience for oversized house cats as there are a good many images circulating around the web of purportedly huge, or just hugely fat, felines. Most of them seem to have been liberally photoshopped, and perhaps that is the better part of their charm. There are some documentedly large cats out there, but I picked an image of a fat cat who has definitely been rendered more obese through the magic of digital intervention. His (or her) image comes up in a couple of sizes when one Googles "fat cat." The actual cat IRL does seem to be rather overweight and is pictured on the very appropriately named "fattest cat in the world" blog,
While I did have to enlarge the cat to make him show up on the napkin, I used the less rotund image of this cat for the napkin today because I did not want it to be too... unrealistic. (Yes, my tone is facetious, Archer, in case you are wondering)
The images that come up when one Googles "fat cat" follow below:
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Very hypoallergenic versions of two internet fads from years past.
Since we've been marinating in internet cat references recently, I thought why not indulge in two of the silliest, (but yet still oddly compelling) of the cat photo fads from the last few years. Cat Bearding dates from 2011-2 and seems to have been quite widespread.
"How to Look Like Batman Using Your Cat" did not enjoy quite such broad popularity...perhaps because it was not as visually effective and more likely to result in injuries for the cat-wearer.
No risk of injury in our case- beyond those to personal dignity. Despite their love of virtual cats, my sons found posing for this photo to be mostly annoying.
An uncropped version of the photo:
Below a child demonstrates how he thinks the napkins should be displayed.
...and uncharitably expresses his opinion of the whole project...subtle-like...so maybe I should not notice while taking the picture.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Link meets Colossal Titan Ganon:
My not very successful attempt to execute my older son's request for today.
Our sixth grade son eats in the cafeteria during the school year, so it is a special event for him to take a packed lunch with a napkin. There was much hand wringing last night about what sort of image he would want.
I suggested a "Frozen"/"Attack on Titan" mashup as he has been belting out "Let it Go" constantly in recent weeks. That idea was terribly abhorrent to him, of course, but led to the Link meets Colossal Titan concept.
I had been afraid that I was not capable of pulling off the Frozen/AoT combination on a two napkin evening....Clearly this combination was beyond me as well.
Archer looked at the napkin this morning and said, generously, "Well....It's KINDA cool...."
The Malevolent Gaze:
Cats & Robots #9
You're really in trouble now, Dave.
Yes, I realize calling HAL a robot is a bit of a stretch. And while I did inflict some of "2001" on the kids a couple of years ago, I am not sure that Ansel remembers much of it. This is not going to be one of the more popular napkins at the second grade lunch table. I needed to draw napkkns for both kids last night, and after some internet issues, I got an unusually late start. When I started thinking about threatening robots with a baleful look to pair with Garfi, HAL seemed like the easy-to-draw solution.
Garfi, "The Angriest Cat on the Internet," hails from Turkey. He is a relative newcomer to the online world of merchandisable cats. His name and look evoke the cartoon Garfield, of course, one of my kids' favorite feline personalities.
Working on the Grumpy Cat model, Garfi is "Angry Cat," photographed with taglines like, "LOOKS DO KILL" and "YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO DIE."
As far as I know, he has not said, "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."
Maybe he hasn't had the chance yet.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Internet Cats & Robots #8
World Domination Through Saucer-Eyed Cuteness.
Snoopybabe is a relatively new Chinese arrival to the internet cat pantheon (264,000 followers on Instagram, vs Grumpy Cats at 581,000)
While they enjoy fantasizing about violent superpowers and whacking things with sticks, my sons are also connoisseurs of cuteness and quite susceptible to the charms of this cat.
Ansel really liked last year's movie "Earth to Echo" in which a group of kids help a darling Keene-eyed mechanical creature evade terrestrial adult authorities and assemble a space ship. In the movie, the kids assume Echo to be a harmless victim that needs to be protected from the authorities, but my cynical adult perspective makes me wonder what the alien might really be up to...
All humans, and certainly not just my sons, seem programmed to respond favorably to flat faces with giant eyes. Any invading alien force would do well to style itself after internet cats like Snoopybabe.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Cats & Robots #7:
Angry Alcoholic Narcissists of the Fluffy and Shiny Variety Provide Questionable Role Models for 8 Year Old Boys.
During his rather short life, Colonel Meow was a member of the internet cat aristocracy, hobnobbing with Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub and being interviewed by Anderson Cooper and Ellen. His internet persona was built around aspirations to world domination and consumption of scotch. He was not bereft of real world accomplishments, however, having been awarded the Guinness World Record for “longest fur on a cat,” in 2013. In the style of the "I Can Has Cheezeburger" cat, his taglines included, "Did someone mention Scotch?" ""Humans? You mean slaves," "I will swallow your soul," and "This isn't even my final form."
Unfortunately Bender's tagline is "Kiss my shiny metal ass!" Futurama is thoroughly inappropriate for second grade boys...which is why my son loves it. He doesn't understand the specifics of the jokes about hookers, substance abuse and general amorality, but he gets the gist that something naughty is going on.
Colonel Mew passed away in 2014, mourned by his 533,000 some Facebook followers. The last episodes of Futurama aired in 2013. Both characters are nevertheless available online for further inspiration.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Cats & Robots #6:
No actual feline's dignity was compromised during the drawing of this image. We here at the Daily Napkins household do not condone or encourage the torturing of cats with toast, slices of pizza, tortillas or other bread products.
If you are blissfully ignorant of the "cat breading" (or "InBread" cats) meme....well... definitely don't spoil it by following one of these links:
Apparently this meme has been around since 2011.That is a lot of annoyed cats.
If you are still reading this... you are probably wondering, why a Cyberman with a bread wearing cat? I am afraid my pathetic justification is that I thought the square metal piping around the robot's head complemented the toast shape nicely. I had briefly considered using a Cylon from the first incarnation of "Battlestar Gallactica" as the humanoid robots were derisively called "toasters" by the actual humans on the show. But that was a joke that would be completely lost on my sons. I have been almost entirely unable to convince them of the goodness of any vintage televisions shows beyond early episodes of the Simpsons, so I am about to propose watching Battlestar.
Virtual beverage with extra finger:
A napkin not intended for second grade lunch.
Entries for this year's Tuaca napkin art contest are due by April 15th.
I was very fortunate to have one of my napkins chosen for the grand prize last year. Visit tuacaart.com to enter and/or to see the submissions for this year and last. My previous posts about the contest and my several submissions are at this link. There are very few venues for napkin art out there and the Tuaca contest is definitely the best one.
While I cannot say that I planned to end up a champion of the napkin medium... it's non-archival, disposable, silly....and my expertise developed despite my better judgement. But clearly I have some sort of compulsion at this point. This particular napkin is a spillover idea from my entries to the Tuaca competition last year. I can't enter this contest again, but the idea of napkin images that are not destined for my kids' lunchboxes apparently still holds some appeal for me.
I was the only person in the house who was of legal drinking age at the time, so I had to use myself for this image. My sons were bizarrely excited by the idea that I might be drinking at 11 am on a Sunday morning, but sadly all Tuaca consumption was imaginary. I had some minor surgery on my jaw and gums on the left side of my face a couple of days before, so I had to use the less swollen and purple side of my head in the photo and avoid all alcohol in favor of large doses of ibuprofen.
A couple of Tuaca napkins from last year:
Monday, March 9, 2015
Our sons were really taken with Scott McCloud's recently released graphic novel "The Sculptor."
I'll admit I was slightly surprised by their interest. I felt that I had to buy the book for my own personal and professional reasons. (For the casual or accidental reader of this page- ie, if you are not one of my relatives- when I am not drawing on napkins, my actual vocation is making sculpture.)
But I was dubious that my sons were going to be able to stay engaged for the 496 page run of this fairly adult story. David Smith, an aspiring sculptor makes a deal with death, trading the rest of his life for 200 days of the ability to make anything out of any material with only his bare hands.
The story proved so compelling to my sons that we had to read the book every chance we got: on the train and past bedtime. The story is definitely not designed for kids. The life versus art question is not resolved in a neat or upbeat way. And there are a few some tasteful depictions of sex that we paged past rather quickly.
Reading "The Sculptor" lead to a couple of interesting conversations with my sons about sculpture and the making of art in general. They rarely take much of an interest in what I do in the studio. Most often, they see my non-napkin artwork as getting in the way of the services that I provide to them.
At the end of "The Sculptor" the doomed protagonist gets the opportunity to make one more magnum opus before he dies. He models a partially constructed unpopular skyscraper into an enormous personal figurative sculpture. We discussed the question: If you had a chance to make a giant sculpture in a very public context, what would it be? This is something that I have been thinking about for 30 years without arriving at a good answer. My sons agreed that it might be impossible to come up with a serious solution, and that maybe a slightly silly one was best.
Therefore, this napkin takes the still-under-construction and somewhat controversial "tallest residential building in the western hemisphere," 432 Park Avenue, and turns it into a sculpture of Godzilla
(You can see the actual building, described as "Gotham's fickle finger of real estate wealth signaling the next Gilded Age."in this New York Times Article)
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Internet Cats & Robots Day 5:
Grumps in cylinders.
Trashcat and C1-10P are not amused by their appearance on this napkin.
Trashcat's image and lack of amusement seems to have been a 2007 follow- up to 2003's "Limecat is not pleased." The catchphrases of "so and so is not amused, is not pleased, does not approve, etc" combined with images of surly looking cats or celebrities proliferated all over the web. Or so I read, no one was sending me images of lolcats at the time.
This was another case of a pairing of cat and robot based mostly on shape....Although Chopper is a rather cranky droid, well known for both his lack of compliance and disapproval of human antics, so they do have the "disapproving entity in a can" characteristic in common.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Internet Cats and Robots, Day 4:
Limecat and Artoo are not pleased that many people cannot tell the difference between a pomelo and a lime.
Limecat (later know also as Melon cat or helmet cat) was another one of the early lol cats passed around the Internet starting in 2003. The photo was often reproduced with the tagline, "Limecat is not pleased."
It seems wearing a pomelo rind on one's head is part of a Chinese mid autumn moon festival, and the original picture might be Chinese in origin. There have, of course, been many other memes of cats with fruit rinds on their heads since. Google "cats with fruit helmets" if you somehow missed this trend. My personal favorite is the "Scurvy Awareness Day" website, limestrong.com, and their gallery of "scurvy free cats" wearing citrus on their heads. They have even given Limecat the name of Mr. Boots and, remarkably, also misidentified the headgear in question as a lime.
As to the question of why Limecat and R2-D2?
I can only say that I remain more than a bit of a formalist. For my 12 year old son who sometimes reads this blog: that means that I put the two together purely because of their similar shapes.
(Now I just need to find a robot who goes well with the cats wearing toast on their heads- otherwise known as "Inbread" or "Breaded cats")
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Link takes on a Colossal Ganon:
Apparently we can plug practically any story into the "Attack on Titan" model with satisfying results.
This one is based on the "unofficial" poster for the forthcoming live action movie of the AoT franchise.
Somehow I have managed to dodge learning much of anything about the "Legend of Zelda" universe. For those who know even less about it than I do, (and Mom, I am talking to you, because I assume that anyone else who takes an interest in these sorts of things already knows chapter and verse on Zelda) I can only offer that Link, the blond, pointy eared guy in the Robin Hood outfit, is the hero of the franchise. His ultimate nemesis in "The Ocarina of Time," is a guy named Ganondorf who morfs into a large boar creature at the end. This facet of the Zelda story hails from a 1998 Nintendo game which was the 5th in the Legend of Zelda series, and according to Wikipedia, is "now considered by many critics and gamers to be the greatest video game of all time."
Ansel says that few in the second grade know anything about Link and Zelda. But there is one cool kid who has an 8th grade sister and is therefore up on the game.
Since one cool kid might get the reference, this napkin was OK for today.
Monday, March 2, 2015
"I can has world domination?"
Day 3 of Internet Cats and Robots
"Happy Cat" was one of the first and, in his day, most well known of the "lol cats." His (or her) image was mostly circulated with the text "I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?" beginning perhaps in 2003 or 2007. I was a new parent during these years and was not paying any attention to the lolcat phenomenon...or to much of anything that was not screaming or on fire.
Ultron is the ubervillain of the second Avengers movie "The Age of Ultron" due out in May of this year. My kids have already demanded that I swear an oath to take them to see the movie as soon as it opens.
While I don't know the details of the movie, Ultron does seem to be a self-aware, distributed artificial intelligence, who decides that irradicating those pesky humans is the best course of action.
If his intelligence is distributed on the web, he is probably tired of having a sizable percentage of his mind filled with idiotic pictures of cats.
Or maybe it should be "Attack on Ketchum"
Unsurprisingly, none of my son's second grade classmates are familiar with the "Attack on Titan" series, but Pikachu is always good.
"Attack on Titan" and "Pokemon" seemed like good candidates for a mashup as they are both manga and anime series that engage in serious violations of the law of conservation of mass. The Titans, including the "Colossal Titan," who looms so compellingly over the barrier wall, spring instantaneously from normal sized humans.
And Pokemon somehow fit in those little balls.