Finn the Prime and Jake the ‘Bee!

My twitter pal (and talented wordsmith) @DelilahSDawson asked for my help coming up with a Christmas present for her husband (also my twitter pal & fellow Transformer fanatic) @DocKrog. When she told me the concept, ADVENTURE PRIME, I was all, “WHAAAAAT”

Here’s what I came up with:

 

This was such a fun concept to flesh out, and a surprisingly fitting mash-up. Plus I got to try out the new WHITE pen I bought at the J-market/stationary store. I used it for the highlights on Jake’s arm/hand and for the Autobot symbol on Finn’s arm.

Fun fact: I no longer know how to end blog posts.

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TEAM ELITA

Eh… what’s this? *Blows dust off of URL* Oh right, I have a sketchblog! Well, I may as well post something on it. But I’m not coming up with a pun title dammit.

Ahem.

So a couple weeks ago @Brentosaur tweeted the following hypothetical scenario:

 
To which I replied:

 

And then I decided to take it too far and draw up my Autobot team. I would have posted sooner, but I didn’t have time to finish the colors until Labor Day…

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Elita-One, Tracks, and Minerva are pretty straightforward depictions, based on the G1 cartoons. Strika is based loosely on her appearance in Transformers: Animated, but with colors and elements from her original toy (I thought that made her more Autobot-y). Wheelie has proportions inspired by the original toy, but I kind freestyled it from there. For those who are wondering, Elita-One, Strika, and Wheelie were drawn without any real consideration to a Transformation scheme.

This started out as a quick and dirty pen sketch, but I ended up spending a lot of time on the colors and the background in Photoshop. I kind of like the contrast between the super scratchy lines and the very computery background… but I’d be lying if I said it was intentional!

I BET WHAT YOU’RE REALLY LOOKING FOR IS SOME NERDY BACKSTORY, RIGHT??? (The idea here is that this is a starting point for a new series with its own continuity)

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While responding to a distress signal from a remote Autobot colony, Optimus Prime and Elita-One’s team of freedom fighters find themselves ambushed by Decepticons. During the battle, Optimus is rendered comatose by the notorious Decepticon warrior Sixshot, and the Autobots find themselves stranded behind enemy lines…

ELITA-ONE (leader, melee expert): With her mate and partner Optimus out of commission, the mantle of leadership falls solely upon Elita’s shoulders. She is renowned for her even-handed sense of justice, as well as her almost peerless hand-to-hand combat skills. She treats her team like a family, perhaps because she had to leave her actual family behind on Cybertron…

STRIKA (tank): Beneath her armored hide bristling with heavy artillery is… a total martinet. Like, exactly what you would expect. Strika is the only one on the team with formal military training. She often clashes with Elita’s unorthodox methods, but ultimately is loyal. In addition to providing the team with heavy firepower, Strika is a brilliant tactician and strategist. Don’t tell anyone, but I think she has a crush on Tracks…

TRACKS (flyer): It’s a toss up whether Tracks is known more for his prowess in combat or his insufferable sense of vanity. He’s a member of the Omnibot division, which accounts for his extra mode enabling him to fly as well as any Decepticon. When he isn’t dogfighting with Decepticons, Tracks is usually flirting with Minerva. He would claim that he’s just kidding around, but that’s probably because Minerva hasn’t responded to his nonsense…

MINERVA (medic): The second youngest member of the team, Minerva takes her duties very seriously, devoting most of her time to trying to revive Optimus from his comatose state. Minerva has also been entrusted with Optimus’s trailer, which converts to a mobile battle station/repair bay. BTW, she has a secret that only Elita knows about…

WHEELIE (scout): When Optimus and the freedom fighters arrive at the Autobot colony, Wheelie is the only remaining survivor. He becomes the youngest and newest recruit to the team. His outward demeanor is cheerful, but he’s acutely aware that Optimus fell in battle for his sake, and he carries that burden quietly. Wheelie is a fan of poetry and hip hop…

More to come if I get around to illustrating my corresponding Decepticon team…

Two Robots (age before monstrosity)

First, here’s Kup, made to match some of my previous Transformers fan-art:

 
Roughly 3.5″ X 2.75″, drawn with color pencil, marker, and black Sharpie on a ticket stub from a parking garage.

Next up is the tormented Autobot X:

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This one is roughly 9.5″ X 7.25″, drawn on a piece of irregularly cut backing board.When I saw the misfit piece of board, I knew I needed to draw a character who would match its roughness. I made this a grayscale image with red as a spot color hoping to be evocative of old monster movies (since Autobot X is likened to Frankenstein’s monster).

That’s the ticket!

If you’ve read my blog before, you may recall that I’m something of a paper hoarder. I really hate to see paper go to waste. If it can be drawn or scribbled on, I’ll do my best to save it. And when I see other people throw away perfectly scribble-worthy scratch paper, I practically flinch.

Which brings me to the three sketches I have today. Each one was drawn with colored pencil, Sharpie, and marker on the back of a 2.75 x 4″ ticket stub from a parking garage. The subjects of the sketches are the Autobots Hot Rod, Arcee, and Springer. I picked this particular trio of characters because they happened to match the colors of the ticket stubs:

 
A ticket stub from a parking garage is an incredibly mundane thing. It makes me feel good to use such a thing for creativity, even if it’s merely a crude little sketch!

(There, 3 sketches and I’m all caught up again!)

Every Hound Has His Day

Here’s a quick sketch in honor of the passing of Ken Sansom, known to most as the voice of Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh–but to me he’ll always be Hound, the serene, nature-loving Autobot scout:

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I was surprised how quickly this piece went. I’m satisfied that I was able to throw in an indication of an environment and turn a simple bust sketch into something with a little more atmosphere. Also, I managed to avoid getting anal-retentive while I was coloring. That’s an accomplishment for me!

Testbots

I have very nearly zero formal education in the arts, so whilst I ramble about theory today, you must forgive me if I use some terms incorrectly. Nevertheless, I think you will get the gist of what I’m saying. And for hardcore arts people, I’m sure you will have heard this all before. Bear with me, every so often I must talk these things through.

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So, you may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been having a stylistic identity crisis. Maybe crisis is the wrong word. I’d like it to be resolved, but there’s no imminent danger.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll notice that I draw in a lot of different styles. Just the last few entries should make that apparent. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with drawing in different styles, but I have been struggling with a more unified overall approach, and I think I need to figure out which style I’m going to focus on and attempt to master.

I’ve been attempting to move towards streamlined shapes with a lot of energy, which goes against literally decades of focusing on details and structure. When I was younger, I fixated more so on drawing things “right.” But you can draw something completely “right” with every detail in place, and it will still lack that undefinable thing that makes a piece of art interesting. And something that’s sort-of related to that–I’ve really become opposed to fussiness in drawing. I still like complexity. And I certainly don’t want to dumb things down. But fussy character design or composition is never a good thing.

I tend to get bogged down with details, so today’s piece was a bit of a style test. I wanted to draw some Transformers in a more streamlined and dynamic manner, without being such a slave to detail and geometry.

In regards to what I’m trying to achieve, I don’t think it worked. As a stand alone thing, the piece is decent enough, but Optimus still looks pretty stiff, and in the end, I still got a little hung up on details. However, on the plus side, the drawing itself didn’t take long at all. (Coloring it still took me forever because I’m slooow.)

Well, what can you do? Back to the drawing board, but first, sleep.

Twice As Crabby

Today’s sketches are two versions of one character–the twisted and indestructible crab/robot warrior known as Rampage, from Transformers: Beast Wars. On the left we have a sketch based on his animation model, and on the right a sketch based on his toy:

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These sketches are a thank you gift, and I started out basing my drawing on reference photos of the toy. It’s been a while since I watched Beast Wars, so I didn’t realize that the animation model was so different–many of the character models in Beast Wars are more similar to their toy counterparts. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I finished inking the sketch that I figured it out.

I could have scrapped the toy-version sketch, or jury-rigged it by using the colors of the animation model, but it was so close to being done I just decided to finish it and then start the proper version separately. The cartoon portrayed Rampage as a distinct character with a bit of complexity, so I wanted to acknowledge that with a more accurate drawing.

(These sketches will count as my two for this week. Holding steady at 3 missed posts. More in the pipeline, so I should catch up soon… )

I Know What You Did CAST Summer

(Maybe the worst pun-title on this blog ever, and that’s saying something.)

Last summer I drew an Autobot symbol on my co-worker’s son’s cast. You can see that HERE.

Well, as it happened, he had to have his cast re-done before his arm completely healed, so I ended up doing a second cast-drawing for him. However, I was in the midst of the commission-frenzy last summer and had no time to post a photo of it. And then I just plain forgot about it. Well, here it is (and don’t worry, the kid’s arm is totally okay now!):

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Art by me. Child courtesy of Blabidibla, photos by Ruth666.

This cast was a different material, and the deep blue color made drawing on it difficult, so I put down a layer of white paint first. After that dried, I sketched out my drawing, and filled it out in marker. The first cast-sketch was definitely better executed, but this one has a better concept (AUTOBOT GAUNTLET OF POWERRR).

This was a lot of fun. BUT THAT DON’T MEAN I WANT YOU KIDS BREAKIN YER BONES! BE CAREFUL FER CRYIN OUT LOUD!

(After this one, 4 missed posts to make up!)

Biting Wit

An unscheduled random doodle–something I drew based on a brief Twitter exchange with @The_TCC:

Unless you’re a serious Transformers nerd, this will probably not be interesting to you. But in case you’re interested, I took a SHARKticon and turned it into a SNARKticon. I know, genius, right?

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Nothing to see here, move along…

5-Second Review: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Plus Bonus Art!)

Did you know that I’m that guy? I’m the guy who whenever there’s Transformers related news (new film, new cartoon, new video game, etc), everyone I know comes to me. I’m like… the only Transformers pundit my circle of friends is acquainted with. So how could I not review…

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon (In theaters now!)

Man, after watching this movie, I’m all: O_O

As in shellshocked. Very intense.

Basically, it’s Michael Bay, you should know what you’re getting into, so don’t be hating. This one is better than the second one, and not as good as the first. If you’ve seen the other two, you have a good idea where your opinion will fall.

It’s a 4 hour plot crammed into a ~2.5 hour movie, and I felt like we were only watching every other scene–the burden is on the viewer to fill in the blanks in many instances. But you get what you’re there for: crazy intense robot battles, hot cars, one hot girl, and plenty of ‘splosions.

As promised by Bay himself, the toilet humor is pretty much gone (there were maybe three toilet humor jokes, and some innuendo, but nothing even as bad as the masturbation conversation in the first movie). And with that little modification, I did find myself enjoying almost every joke that was cracked.

Like the second movie, this one suffers from too many new robots with too little characterization. Let me rephrase that… there’s no such thing as too many robots, but let’s see some personality, yes? The old school cartoon had a cast of dozens, with distinct personalities established within the first handful of episodes. On the Decepticon side, the hordes of grey Genericons (some of whom were supposed to be “somebody”) were pretty dismissable.

Another notable downside carried over from the second movie–Optimus Prime’s moral compass goes beyond the Mortal Kombat mark, when it should really be closer to the Superman mark.

My last two complaints:
1) Why are Transformers so hairy and gooey? You’ll see what I mean.
2) They are referred to as Transformers in dialogue, which is a huge faux pas to me. Transformers is the name of the franchise dude, not the race. They’re Cybertronians. I know, pretty nerdy, right? Hi ladies.

And…

Verdict: Come on, who are you talking to here? It’s me, Transformers fan numbah one. It was Awesome. Good pacing, intense action. I’m not downplaying the movie’s faults, but like I said, we all know what we’re getting into. If you can acknowledge significant flaws without letting it bum you out, and you’re looking for some robo-centric eye candy, then go for it.

For More Giant Robots Getting Blowed Up Good: Real Steel is coming out in October, and oh my god it looks stupid and also, why do I have to wait until October??? ROBOTS NOW PLZ. K thx.

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That was more like a 500 second review, but oh well. In unrelated Transformers news, I did this for my co-worker’s son:

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Autobot insignia drawn by me. Child courtesy of Blabidibla, photo by Ruth666.

MACHO WEEK!!! (Part 2 of 3, The Moldy Oldie Edition)

MACHO WEEK continues, with a piece of vintage nerdery from my archives, drawn and colored in 1999. TWELVE years ago.

Let’s think about this people. That was before 9-11, before the dot-com bust, before the (still ongoing) energy crisis, before I owned a car or a DVD player. I was fresh out of college, just starting out full time at the day-job after interning there for 2 years (same day-job that I have today, by the way), and living in a tiny studio apartment that paradoxically had a huge walk-in closet (which I filled up with comic books and action figures–mostly Beast Wars at the time).

So… I confess, this was drawn to impress a geeky girl who I was talking to at the time. Believe it or not, the subjects in the illustration were our common points of interest–and there’s the Macho One himself, front and center! Oh, and I’m in the picture too, inbetween Optimus Prime in Pikachu, because apparently I have a raging ego. For what it’s worth, I think the girl was in fact impressed by this. However, things didn’t work out for a number of complicated reasons which I will not bore you with. You know how it goes.

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Man, just look at this thing. It was one of the first things I ever colored in Photoshop, and I thought I was pretty hot stuff, using the Dodge/Burn tool to render the shading. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

And yet, here we are, twelve years later. My drawing is a little better, and my coloring is much better. And I still pretty much won’t shut up about Macho Man, Transformers, Batman, Pokemon, Miyazaki movies, and Bruce Lee.

Tune in on Friday for the final installment of MACHO WEEK!!!

Anti-Hero in a Half-Shell (Plus a review of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"!)

Last weekend, I was hanging out with Dave, filling his wallet full of my hard-earned cash, in exchange for some action figures that he had picked up for me, and buying some of his unwanted toys as well. He gave me a pretty good deal on a bunch of Transformers and Gobots, but feeling that I needed to evacuate more money from my pocket, I also bought a TMNT figure from him–Slash, the evil Ninja Turtle (not to be confused with Tokka). FYI, Slash started off as a villain, but later became something of an anti-hero, hence the title of today’s post:

This is 100% digital, painted in Photoshop. I kept Slash’s details pretty close to his toy incarnation, with a few exceptions… I gave his crude claws a bit more gritty detail (added twine and a wood spacer, in addition to the claws/wrappings), and I interpreted his octagonal belt buckle as a representation of the eight trigrams diagram, with the Taijitu in the center. In retrospect, I don’t know why I didn’t detail the belt buckle with the actual trigrams. I guess I got caught up in Taijitu madness. Lastly, I did not give Slash magenta weapons, but instead threw in a magenta light source as a nod to his garishly colored acsessories. I considered putting some magenta in his wardrobe, but decided that might create confusion with Donatello‘s signature purple.

Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about this one… I’m happy with certain parts, like his bandanna, and the rendering on his iron belt and wooden shoulder pads. On the other hand, I just don’t know if the piece works as a whole. Thoughts?

While you’re mulling it over, here’s a review:

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (In theaters now!)

I know that I have done my job informing the public that I’m a **huge Transformers geek when I am asked to weigh in on the movie by almost everyone I know. But enough of my self-congratulatory dorkiness, on with the review…

My experience with enjoying entertainment is that you have to have your expectations calibrated properly… I went into this movie expecting more robots and better robot fights, but also expecting more unnecessary toilet humor. I was right on both counts. Let’s break this down a bit–

Action… The fights from the first movie were widely criticized as being too chaotic and unintelligible. I said that myself, in my review. However, in subsequent viewings on DVD, I found that the fights were very easy to read–on a smaller screen. The battles in Revenge of the Fallen were better on the big screen (but still unintelligible at times), so I expect they will be even better on DVD. The tone of the fights brought the brutality of the first movie to a new level–the stakes are higher, the casualties are worse, and nobody is holding back–not the good guys, not the bad guys, and certainly not the folks who handled the movie’s record-breaking computer generated effects. The Autobots and Decepticons pull off many flashy, devastating combat maneuvers, and the results are spectacular.

Robots… there were sooo many new Transformers in this movie, and with a variety of sizes and body types/alternate modes. They got tons of screentime, but surprisingly few lines of dialogue–hopefully in the presumed sequel, the Transformers will get some more character development. But even so, more, diverse robots is a step in the right direction.

The toilet humor… or “edgy, adult” humor, if you prefer to be delusional, was unnecessary in the first movie, and even worse, totally unfunny. The bad news is that Revenge of the Fallen, unfortunately, has about ten times more toilet humor. The good news is that the crude jokes are occasionally funny, unlike the first go-round. The other bad news is that whether or not it’s funny, the jokes are still totally out of place, and add nothing. The really disappointing thing is that the non-toilet humor in the film is actually very charming and endearing, and more of that would have served the film better.

Story… there’s no two ways about it, there’s a lot of sloppy storytelling and bad editing in this movie. It doesn’t have any egregious plotholes–but there are several instances of questionable storytelling decisions that create unecessary ambiguity. However, the movie has good pacing–it marched forward at a good clip, and there weren’t any real lulls.

Verdict: For me, it was Awesome. But I’m not gonna lie–your mileage will vary. Since that fateful day in 1984 when I first discovered Transformers, I’ve been quietly rearranging my brain-space to more efficiently harvest Transformers information. In all honesty–I do not, blindly love everything with a Transformers label on it, but I am able to enjoy whatever good that does exist in the franchise, moreso than many fans that I have encountered. I’d like to think that I’m also capable of honest criticism, in spite of my affection for the franchise, but that shall ultimately be up to you to judge, dear reader. If you’re capable of enjoying mindless fun and eye candy, with some flawed storytelling, this is for you. For anyone else–save it for a rental, or a cable viewing. And specifically for the haters–please, don’t go just so you can smugly tell your friends, “I told you it would be terrible.” Save your money!

For More Transformers Goodness, But With A Totally Different Approach: Watch Transformers Animated! It’s charming, light-hearted, filled with references for long-time fans, but at the same time, totally accessible to n00bs.

**Actually, I’m not huge–just 5’8, 155 pounds. Yes, these are the jokes, folks. My sincerest apologies.

Nerdy Anticipation

Perhaps you will recall that I am a huge Transformers fan? And perhaps you will recall that I enjoyed Michael Bay’s first outing in the world of Transformers? And perhaps you will understand that I am bitterly jealous that the sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, premiered two weeks ago in Japan, and was released last week in the United Kingdom, while Canadians living in America (like myself) are forced to wait until this week?

And perhaps you will not be surprised that 24 hours from the posting of this blog, I will be sitting in an IMAX theater watching said movie, at long last?

For the haters, let’s get some things straight here… I’m not expecting Citizen Kane. I’m not expecting Shakespeare. I’m not even expecting Shakespeare in Love. I am expecting pretty much the best special effects around, lots of robots getting blowed up good, and Megan Fox looking Megan Foxxy.

The surge of nerdy anticipation within me is overwhelming, threating to manifest itself as a wave of destructive energy that will burn the surface of the planet to a crisp whilst arguing whether or not the new Revenge of the Fallen Human Alliance toyline portrays human characters in proper scale to their Autobot counterparts. Also, I drew this:

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What started out as kind of a quick sketch to commemorate the release of Revenge of the Fallen actually became a decent exercise in color and lighting, I think.

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No Apologies

THIS IS A SPOILER ZONE FOR TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED… YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I claim to be such a huge Transformers nerd, and yet I don’t believe I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy Transformers Animated–I’m caught up on season three, which has been amazing. Both the series and the toyline are easily amongst the best incarnations of the franchise since Generation One (for anybody keeping score, I do enjoy the two most controversial incarnations of the series–Beast Wars and the live action movie). Transformers Animated has introduced a fresh asthetic, invigorating a franchise that was in danger of stagnating. The new, cartoony look is largely the doing of Derrick Wyatt, who’s quickly becoming one of my favorite character designers. The asthetic has been translated into the toy line masterfully by the team at Hasbro, and provides a great visual counterpoint to the gritty realistic look of the Transformers live action movie(s). It is a good time to be a Transformers geek.

Today’s post features the Autobots’ half human, half-Cybertronian sidekick, Sari Sumdac:

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I elected to draw Sari in my own style, because I think it would be foolish to try and out-Wyatt Derrick Wyatt. Sari is depicted in her powered-up teenage form from season three, though I did take some minor liberties with her costume. I tried to make this one a bit more dynamic, since I know static-ness is an on-going poblem with my art. Sari’s costume makes her look like a RAcaseal from Phantasy Star Online, which is definitely a good thing.

  • Please check out the fantastic blog of Derrick Wyatt, bad-ass character designer, and genuine Transformers fan: A Delightful Tedium

Bonus Post: Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals for awesome commercials…

After seeing a few cool CGI commercials and drawing some mascots, basically I immediately forgot all about the Olympics. But before it officially ends, here’s one more Olympic commercial from Stadium Astro (a Malaysian sports channel, I think?), featuring robots… transforming ones!

Of course watching one video on Youtube, always leads to another… here’s a soccer-themed transformer ad from Stadium Astro, promoting the Euro 2008 tournament:

And another transformer ad from Stadium Astro (apparently someone working there likes Transformers as much as I do?):

In summary, sports would actually be cool if there were more (or any) transforming robots involved.

Post Script: Decepticons as tweenage girls? Oh Japan, you so crazy (and that’s why I love ya… from TFormers.com)

Post Post Script: I actually found so many Transformer-related videos that I had to cut half of them out of this post. Expect another video post soon!

A Post-Comic-Con ‘Con

Comic-Con was insane, as usual. The drive from Los Angeles to San Diego took almost 7 hours (yes, seven) instead of 3, and as a result, at one point, I whizzed in a bottle (yes, a bottle). For the record, it was an empty Vitamin Water lemonade bottle, which was nice because it gave me, you know, a sense of symmetry. The rest of the convention proceeded with no unorthodox waste removal procedures. I’m catatonic right now, so you’ll have to wait until my next post for non-whizz-related highlights from the convention.

For now, to commemorate the recently ended Comic-Con, a ‘Con:

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This is Shockwave, drawn with a modified transformation that I came up with. The original toy had a gun barrel which was essential for the gun mode, but served no purpose and had no venue of storage in robot mode–my revised transformation imagines that the gun barrel could split apart and slide back on Shockwave’s arms. That’s all. Sleepy-time now.

Flashback Friday, Again?!? WTF?!?

Let’s face it. Lately, I have been S.T. Rugglin. Which means that once again, you get something that i drew and colored years ago, instead of a fresh selection from my drawing board today. I’m going to work hard this weekend to get ahead on my blog posts, because I know the 5.7 people who read this blog rely on me for 19 seconds of diversion, twice a week. I promise there’ll be all new stuff next week.

Until then, here’s a robot that needs no introduction, but gets one anyways–Optimus Prime, heroic leader of the Autobots:

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Current Mood: Gettin’ there
Listening To: The Long Black Veil
Reading: Just finished Kiki Strike Inside The Shadow City (which was awesome)
Watching: She-Ra season one
Playing: Possum
Eating: Nothing, I’m starved right now!
Drinking: Vitamin Water