I Can Has Gnome!

January 30, 2009

Found this today, in the French Wikipedia, of all things:

Un sottai (ou sotê) est une petite créature légendaire cavernicole du folklore wallon, frère du nuton et comparable au lutin français.

which, processed through Google’s arcane Babelfish-powered translator thingamajig, emerged as:

A Sottai (or SOTE) is a small cave legendary creature of wallon folklore , brother of nutons and similar to elf [in] French.

I blinked at this point. Intrigued, I put the rest of the article through the thingamajig, especially the part where it goes on to describe these sottais thusly:

D’après les récits populaires, ils étaient très petits et basanés

which, to my complete disbelief, meant:

According to popular stories, they were very small and brown

Now that right there, is quite possibly the most accurate description of me I’ve ever read. Ever.

This is also, as you realize, wonderful news!

I was always suspected of being a gnome (Yes, R, this means you),
so in a way I’m glad this whole identity crisis has been sorted out. Hurray for gnome-ness!

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I horribly botched the whole thing.

No, really. I did.

So I get stuck in a traffic jam, and the birthday person has, like, 30 seconds to meet me. So i give her the gift, and she takes it and swings the cover over her shoulder, and it lands with a dull thud, which I think dislodged the Lego man from his poorly cellophaned place. ‘Umm..’ I began, beginning to panic about the state of the gift. ‘Happy Birthday.’

So then I tried to hug her, which ended with me kinda vaguely clutching her shoulder for a few seconds while she remained perfectly still (and rather bemused I’d imagine).

Then she wanted to look at it, right – with me wishing I was far away at this point. I kept imagining a chaotic jumble of loose paper – the gift had been through a horrible auto ride, my brave sprint across the last 400 metres, and the sudden sweeping motion of its container across her shoulder. Mild dislodgement was looking like a best-case scenario.

Thankfully, it was mostly intact…the Porsche seemed to have gotten a bit loose, but otherwise, I have to admit, it looked rather spiffy (Don’t believe the pictures). The cellphone cover had held admirably, as had all the last-minute cellotape. She laughed uncertainly, which I suppose was okay – I mean, how DO you react to two creepy Iker Casillas faces staring back at you, holding a poorly proportioned Happy Birthday sign?

Then she gets a phone call. We talk for a small bit, she says she has to go. ‘Thank You,’ she says, holding up the gift briefly in my direction, and leaves.

I stood for a while. It was rather cold out, so I walked down to the Metro station and went back to office.

I get a text on the way. G. My embarrassment, it said, is a constant source of much amusement (It also used the word ‘cute’. Win!)

Source of amusement. Ha. Now where have I heard that before?

Postscript:
So, pictures. This is possibly the last you’ll hear of the gift. I might, maybe, do a post on it later..but it seems unlikely. It was one of the more difficult gifts to put together, and I think my cellotape and glue skills have leveled up multiple times. I think I’m right now at the stage where I’m horribly embarrassed to be even giving it, and deciding never to do this sort of thing again. But it’s a phase. It’ll pass.

This is what it looked like 30 minutes before I gave it. Apologies for the blurry pictures.

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*shudder* The Casillas eyes still creep me out

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Right, then. Colouring Fun returns from next week!

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It’s done! Pictures and other updates soon!

So, whew.

I hunted around the interwebs for a good porsche scale model, finally finding one here. I was looking for something a bit simple and bit boxy, so I could edit it easily to add my own decals  (like a custom license plate) and paint job (Inspired by the superlative, and in my opinion, the last great Need for Speed game: Porsche Unleashed)

Didn’t entirely succeed there, but I managed to make a decently recognizable 911 – its a boring grey, but so are the starter cars in Porsche Unleashed, so yay. I found a little LEGO person on a random search of an old cupboard – wearing a helmet, even. So I plonked him down on top of the Porsche.

Then I went out looking for a good profile shot of that bloke Casillas, then printed, cut it out, pasted on some slightly thicker paper, then wound it with some thread on the robot I’d previously made (I cut out circles for the eyes, don’t worry).

So now, progress photos. This is all I have so far. It looks quite awful in this photo, but I promise its only moderately revolting in real life.

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I really wish I had a better camera. The eyes of Iker Casillas scare me in low resolution.

So that’s, from left, Professor Layton (with a slightly disembodied head), the Iker-Casillas impersonating one-armed robot (who shall soon be grafted onto another Iker Casillas impersonating one-armed robot) and the Porsche with the LEGO Man (It looks a bit deformed there, but I’ve reglued it since then – so its much better proportioned now)

Ofcourse, more detail will be added later with a permanent marker (serial numbers, inside jokes, etc etc) – and I’ve finally solved the tricky problem of transporting this near-disaster.But I have less than a week left! *gulp*

Next: The Second of the Robots, and the ‘Uber-Cool’ Signage.

Weekend Adventures

January 19, 2009

This weekend, looking for a table for a friend,  I was nearly tempted by this:

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Features advanced Snakes-and-Ladders playing A.I, no doubt.

…but then I had no money (and I figured my friend wouldn’t want this) , so I went home and set this fellow up instead (it refused to stand, so I have him here lounging against a windmill): dsc00024

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I also bought a very nice Hindi poster about books which I’ll post sometime later.

Then I roamed around for a bit and saw this:

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Colouring Fun 3

January 17, 2009

As Promised.

This week, bring out the pastels for this cheerful picture of an excited Bam Bam Bigelow lookalike (I forget this dude’s name) nibbling on a (nearly) life-size boiled confectionery version of himself!

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In other news, work on the birthday gift continues, and I now have a definite date for said birthday, so all is well, and I’m also hopelessly in love with this comic over at Double Fine.

‘The program that does for comedy what a large dollop of sage and onion mixture does to turkey’

I’m not quite sure how it happened. I was reading something here or here (or perhaps here), which took me here, leading me to look up something here, where I stumbled over hyperlinks to land up here, which lead me, in a complete roundabout, to ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue’

It’s a quasi-legendary, remarkably long-running comedy show originally thought up as ‘the antidote to panel games’, which had presumably crossed some unsavoury threshold into mind numbing mediocrity. Hosted by the grumpy, deadpan, but quite often brilliant Chairman Humphrey   (Humphrey Lyttelton, who’s also a jazz musician), it’s a much more honest, and wonderfully oddball precursor to things like Whose Line Is it Anyway (which I Never Really Liked Anyway) – complete with the craziest ideas for rounds ever, lovingly and painstakingly compiled in this astonishing list here.

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My favourites include Uxbridge Dictionary (Where ‘dictionary’ is ‘the rude version of pictionary’,and ‘cursory’ is where ‘very young children learnt to swear’), the Calvinball-esque Mornington Crescent, and the rediscovery of lost correspondence between Doctor Who and Davros, leader of the Daleks.

Oh, there’s so much more to recommend – The BBC archives are rude and uncooperative, but Youtube (and Shhhh…the wide world of p2p as well) come to the rescue, and there’s tons to watch…like the panelist’s suggestions for the ‘X-Rated Children’s Television Market’, completing incomplete George Bush quotes, finding links between lists of items ‘shamelessly pillaged from trivia books’, and the half-hour live ‘special’ from a few years back.

Oh, and anyone up for a game of Delhi-centred Mornington Crescent? It would totally work, with shameless use of the Metro and all.

Update: Why do I feel like the whole world secretly knows all about this show (It’s possible – it’s famous and everything) and is now pointedly sniggering at me with exaggerated shoulder motions and fake whispering?

Sorry, Couldn’t Resist

January 13, 2009

From my employer’s Exit Interview form:

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Quick update, since I might be AWOL for a few days. 

I finished the rest of Professor Layton, though there was a minor issue of scale between the size of his head (enormous) and the rest of the body (microscopic), which had to be fixed with some haphazard strips of paper from the base of the neck to the torso – so he looks like a bobble-head toy now.

I still have to design the remote control thingamajig he’ll be holding in his hand, so I’m not posting pictures of him till he’s complete (and less bobbly). I’ve packed him away in a case, and I hope he survives the train journey I need to take in a while. 

I started work on the Robots instead, who’ll be a trio of mechanotronic paper figures leading a motley parade – the very paragons of birthday cheer with conical hats and Iker Casillas masks (Yes.). 

   

I found these lovely papercraft robots at this strange site. (Don’t worry about all the Japanese – just dutifully click on links till you get to a PDF.) 

The first one, this one over here:
 

…turned out quite okay, though a small accident in the construction of the right arm is making it structurally dubious, and hard to attach to the main torso… 

 

That's him. The dubious arm is missing, away for repair.

The dubious arm is missing, away for repair.

…as is the head, which for some reason, refuses to stick. 

 

That's him crestfallen at his headless existence.

That's him crestfallen at his headless existence.

But progress is happening, and most of the details (Shh) have pretty much been finalized, except perhaps the most critical one, which I plan to worry about only later.

Next: The Birthday Banner, the seemingly forgotten Porsche, and the disembodied head of Iker Casillas!

I had a bit of free time on my hands, so I decided to get started on making a birthday gift for someone, which is about a week and a half away ( I think).

I generally try to have atleast one part of a gift hand-made or designed, but I’ve been slacking recently, and feeling sort-of guilty about it, so this time I thought I’d go at it fully prepared, with design documents and prototypes and everything 

It’s sort of ambitious, yes, but also fun – and this is the first time I’m actually documenting the process! 

The idea is usually to pick up stuff from conversations – inside jokes, nicknames for people, places and incidents and sort of combine them into some loose diorama with made-up characters and narratives. It’s silly, almost always involves video games, and is usually fantastical and/or comic. Inevitably, there’s much more material than you can possibly use – and it’s sometimes agonizing to choose which ones to pick, and which to discard…and it’s also a great process of remembering the past year, and everything that happened with it.

I used to go for just two-dimensional things, like pretend maps (there was this HUGE annotated one of Pune made about 3 years back) or comic books (2 years ago – a custom ‘Superhero Handbook’, complete with me as Sottai the Spoon Bearer), but recently, and for this particular gift, I’m going to try some 3d – relying extensively, of course,  on papercraft

I love action figures, but havent owned any since my G.I.Joe collection was pawned off some years back. Making moving figures, though, is really challenging…I thought initially of making marionettes, using pins or paper clips between the joints for mobility, and then tieing them to puppetmaster-like strings,  but those are usually flimsy, especially since I’m using paper, and annoying to store and transport. 

So now I’m making a setpiece – a bunch of papercraft figures arranged in a particular manner (hopefully in a shoebox, but I havent figured that part out yet)) – still figures, but not glued to the spot. But Shh..more details only as the birthday nears, just in case that person is reading this blog (*gulp*)

So there are three parts to this gift, and this, the first of three, maybe four posts, will chart the process of making the first part: A model of Professor Layton!

I couldn’t find a ready paper model of Layton online, so I had to start from scratch – this was actually an advantage, since I could then just worry about the shape, and do all the drawing by hand.

This is the reference picture I used:

Thankfully, Layton’s a bit sparse in terms of details, so my ultra poor drawing skills could still attempt it without embarrassment.

First, I needed to find another papercraft model (preferably with a top hat) to rip off the basic shape, which I could then modify to look like Layton. I chose the Indiana Jones model here, albeit highly modified with a longer top hat, and a broader face. (circular shapes are difficult, and often end in a sloppy mess – the cube shape here works perfect for cartoon characters)

I removed all the details from the figure, and fiddled with the dimensions, printed it out, and fiddled with it some more till I got to this stage, where I pencilled in bits of face and hair :

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Then I coloured it in with colour pencils (My colouring skills are laughably bad, more so than my drawing):

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(the pattern on the top left becomes the brim of his tophat)

Then you cut along the lines, and glue them together (with little slits along the red part to fit the brim in) to get this:
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Side Profile:

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…and fancy isometric view:

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It’s still a little rough around the edges (and very very basic), but I’ll get back to this once I’m done with the other parts – especially Layton’s body, which is proving to be slightly troublesome. 

Next: The Porsche and the Robot Parade!  (Also the rest of Professor Layton)