Evan on Zombies 2.0

Evan is still very interested in Zombies, but this week we get to hear about zombies of a plant variety!  Also, there are dinosaurs.


I’ve noticed that my interest in any given activity comes in waves. A lot of the time, I just want to read. I devour books. But I gradually get bored with what I’m reading, or lose momentum after finishing a great book. Then I complain of boredom for a few days (or a week . . . or two).

On to a new interest! When I haven’t sketched for a while, I have to force myself to do it. But suddenly it becomes my favorite thing to do and I stay up much later than I ought to perfecting ideas and coming up with new ones. Every once in a while, cleaning is the thing that I want to do most (I can’t emphasize how infrequent this is), and I get really involved in it. Usually I stay up all night getting the kitchen spotless and the living room lovingly tidied. Then, of course, I’m completely burned out on cleaning, which is just one reason why that urge comes so rarely.

Do you have a steady hobby, or do you find your focus changes, like mine does?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Review

When I first heard that Peter Jackson was at the helm of the movie version of The Hobbit, I was fairly excited.  Then I heard that they were going it in two movies, then it was three movies.

Regardless, I was excited to see the movies, because I enjoyed the book as a child, and I enjoyed Peter Jackson’s rendition of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.  Mika and I made the effort to see the movie.  This is kind of a big deal, as we typically make it to only one or two movies together in a given year.

I am surprised to see myself saying this, but here it is: skip this movie.  While I enjoyed the parts of the movie that were actually part of the book, the movie felt ill-paced, boring, and forced.

The pacing of the storytelling was horrendous.  It felt as though it took a good 30 minutes to just get to the movie!  There is a reason that movies leave out certain parts of books.  Not all aspects of a book, even the most well-written books, are fit to be put on the silver screen.  Now imagine that instead of trimming parts of a book down to the parts best suited for visual adaptation, you keep in all of the parts regardless of how well they work.  Not only that, but you’ve added in extra parts to make it feel longer.  Imagine a Lord of the Rings film where they not only included Tom Bombadil, but also the biography of Tom Bombadil’s wife as recorded from Tolkein’s private notes.  With all of the unnecessary parts added in (or embellished from the book), the movie did not flow well.  While the parts of the movie that were actually in the book were interesting, were well thought-out and were able to maintain my interest, there was at least an hour of material that were not.  The 30 minute introduction, and the additional 15-20 minutes spent on Radagast, and another 15-20 minutes spent on the white orc completely ruined the natural flow of the story.  The experience felt like the makers were trying to justify making three movies, rather than tell the story of The Hobbit.

This led to the next problem, the movie was boring.  One might assume, and justly so, that in a movie lasting 2 hours and 40 minutes, you would walk away feeling entertained.  You might hope that you would walk away feeling like you knew the characters.  However, it was to the contrary.  The portrayals of the characters were muddied by the additional parts added in Jackson and his crew.  By two hours in, when the movie had finally reached full steam, I was already worn out by tales of dragons, how dwarves mine, and a wizard covered in bird-feces.

Finally, the movie felt forced.  The Hobbit, by its nature as a children’s book, was a much lighter tale than The Lord of the Rings.  It is much more a fairy tale, and much less an epic fantasy novel.  It is filled with silly songs, riddles, and lighthearted banter.  While the movie still had these things (how can they justify cutting anything when stretching a story this much?), it also felt as though it were trying to be as serious and somber as The Lord of The Rings.

In short, when I walked out of the theater, I thought, “I don’t want the director’s cut; I want the audience cut.”  I want a version of The Hobbit with only the best parts of the book.  I want a version without the extra bits added in.  I want The Hobbit that I can sit down and watch two hours and forty minutes and get the whole book!


I’m trying not to talk TOO much about various art-ish projects on the blog, because I am hoping to make money off of them eventually . . . and I don’t want to sound like I’m begging you to buy stuff.

Good disclaimer?

Guys, I’ve been working hard lately on figuring out what I want to do with my shop, and it’s unbelievably fun and exciting. I spent a while thinking about birthday and shower invitations – what originally got me started with this whole thing – and had trouble deciding what sort of designs would be likable (and easy to sell). Then I decided, I’m doing this for me – so that I have something I enjoy doing. If I make money, even just enough to keep my supplies stocked, hooray! But I lost interest in the idea of pandering to customers. So I sat down one night last week and designed a baby shower invitation. The next day, I designed a birthday party invitation for Jarom. (I’m going to try screen printing it and IT WILL BE AMAZING.) The next night, I completely designed and finished an invitation for Evan’s birthday party.

Most of the designs I came up with don’t actually involve any watercolor. They’re more . . . hand-lettered, and less painterly. I think I’m fine with this because I still have a lot of ideas for watercolor text and watercolor name art in particular. But I love the lettering aspect. Doing our graduation announcements last year was stressful but gloriously fun. (And stressful. Very stressful.) I think my stuff looks pretty awesome.

Here’s where I sort of want your mostly-honest opinions. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not trying to get you to buy stuff. I just want validation that these are legitimately interesting things that other people might buy. (Of course, I’m happy to do work for you guys, too.) The more time I spend looking for similar invitations and art on Etsy, the more I feel like there isn’t anything quite like this – and then I wonder if it’s because no one is interested. (Although, given the hideous nature of 80% of the stuff on Etsy, maybe that’s a good sign.)

Right, so, these are the things I’ve been coming up with lately. If you were having a party or bridal/baby shower, would you like these? I know I have a lot of polishing to do, so maybe you could base your opinion off the potential awesomeness here.

Bad scan of the sketch for Jarom's birthday invitations. Needs a little work.

Bad scan of the sketch for Jarom’s birthday invitations. Needs a little work still.

Sketch of baby shower idea. I always mess up on vertical spacing.

Sketch of baby shower idea. I always mess up on vertical spacing.

Watercolor of baby shower idea. The only waterproof pen I had on hand was a Sharpie, which didn't work well. I think I'd leave the "It's a boy!" in white and redo the registration note.

Watercolor of baby shower idea. The only waterproof pen I had on hand was a Sharpie, which didn’t work well. I think I’d leave the “It’s a boy!” in white and redo the registration note. I was trying to tie in with the other cursive, unsuccessfully.

Evan's birthday invitation. Since it's going to 3- and 4-year-olds, I don't care much about fixing any [minor] flaws.

Evan’s birthday invitation. Since it’s going to 3- and 4-year-olds, I don’t care much about fixing any [minor] flaws.

P.S. Over the weekend I got in touch with a giclee printer in Orem who is willing to do my printing at a VERY reasonable price. This is what I’ve been looking for! Maybe actual progress and actual things-for-sale happening soon??


I was so behind on holiday preparations in December that I forgot to ever buy a 2013 calendar. About a week into the year, I finally got one, but for whatever reason, I didn’t look at the back first. When I put the calendar up in the kitchen, I was horrified to see that the calendar grid was tiny! At least a quarter of the page was just a white border around the actual squares, which were way too small to write more than one item a day in.

Last night I had a meeting to go to, and afterwards went to the store to buy more ZzzQuil. (I meant to get it a few days ago – but I missed it on my list, and ended up just grinding some of the Walgreens pills and drinking the powder in apple juice. It was disgusting.) And it occurred to me that there might still be some 2013 calendars hiding in a clearance rack somewhere. I didn’t want to ask for help, because who waits until late January to buy a calendar, and I also was enjoying shopping without kids. So I spent about 40 minutes wandering around before I found the calendars.

Then it was a matter of finding the right combination of tolerable pictures and decent-sized calendar squares. I ignored the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar, the Marilyn Monroe calendar, and the Tim Tebow calendar. I had to consider the various animal themed-calendars and inspirational calendars, though, because there weren’t a lot of choices left. Eventually I settled on a Majestic Mountains one. Interestingly, I hated the “large grid” calendar – it had no pictures, so each month took up 2 pages and the days were very tall rectangles.

One of these days (I mean, years), I’ll look ahead of time for a calendar that I actually like, instead of just grabbing whatever cheap calendar I can tolerate.

By the way, I keep my wall calendars. I have them going back to 2000.

Evan on Zombies

Hopefully, this will become a weekly feature of the blog.  This week, Professor Evan expounds on the origins of zombies.  Perhaps even more interestingly, he explains what happens to the zombies after they die.


Since I’ve been pregnant, aside from the first few weeks, I’ve had a lot of trouble falling asleep. It sometimes takes me an hour or two – and on our mini vacation, I was awake until around 4. I usually take medicine to help me sleep, but I didn’t pack it with my overnight stuff. Oops.

In the past when I’ve had trouble sleeping, I’ve tried various over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Unisom, Tylenol PM, Benadryl, and similar drugs all knock me out for a good 10-12 hours, plus 2 hours of complete grogginess when I wake up. If I had a nanny to get up with the kids, I suppose that would work out. But I don’t have a nanny, unfortunately. I’ve had prescriptions for amitriptyline and Ambien, both of which worked really well – getting me to sleep without leaving me groggy in the morning. (Yes, I know amitriptyline is usually given as an antidepressant. My doctor at the time said it also works well as a sleep aid – which is what I was using it for – and he was right.)

When I was pregnant with Evan and asked my doctor if there was anything I could take to help me sleep, he gave me Ambien. It was beautiful and wonderful and lovely. I took it a few times after I had Evan, which I guess I was not supposed to do – I apparently had a few instances of imagining that Evan was crying, and I tried to comfort him, which actually woke him up from his peaceful sleep. I had Ambien again with June, and I do remember the doctor telling me to stop taking it once I had the baby. It was sad to give up, since it got me to sleep quickly and I woke up feeling rested. But no one gets a solid night’s sleep with a newborn anyway, I suppose, and Ambien wouldn’t have helped me much.

At my first prenatal appointment this time, I explained that it was taking me a ridiculous amount of time to fall asleep, that I’ve tried lots of other medications without much luck in the past, and that I’d like to have Ambien again. Honestly, I’d been counting down until I could get a prescription. Being exhausted and not able to sleep is no fun. To my surprise, the doctor – one I hadn’t seen before, who joined the practice after June was born – said absolutely not. She said that Ambien is a Category D drug, which means there’s positive evidence of risk to the fetus. And she was shocked that I’d been given Ambien before, by doctors in the same practice, when she insisted that Ambien is habit-forming and not at all okay to prescribe for pregnant women for more than a week or two at most.

I was crushed. But, I’m me, so I didn’t really try to counter her arguments at all. She suggested I try Tylenol PM again.

When I got home, I looked up some information about Ambien, and I’m pretty sure it’s a Category C drug. I doubt that the other doctors would have casually prescribed a Category D drug. But it’s still hard (for me) to argue with my new doctor, so I’ve tried to let the Ambien issue go.

Instead I tried a generic sleeping pill from Walgreens, which I later found out is just Benadryl – Diphenhydramine. It worked about the same as the other over-the-counter pills – I got to sleep, but I was still exhausted the next day. Then ZzzQuil came out, and people kept telling me to try it. After the first lovely night, I looked at the ingredients and realized . . . ZzzQuil is Benadryl, too. But it worked so much better than the pill form, despite being the same dosage.

Two nights ago, I used up the last of my ZzzQuil. Which meant last night I got to choose between the Walgreens pill and a few hours of lying in bed trying to fall asleep. I went with the pill.

This morning, I couldn’t understand why I felt so groggy. I hadn’t stayed up late. I hadn’t slept poorly. June didn’t wake up during the night. It wasn’t significantly earlier than I normally get up. Eventually, it occurred to me that the pill and the liquid act differently enough that I wake up feeling rested with ZzzQuil and feeling groggy with the pill.

I’ll be heading to the store today for a few more bottles of ZzzQuil.

(This isn’t sponsored by ZzzQuil or Ambien, but that would be pretty cool. I just wrote about my real life, which happens to involve drugs. Legal ones.)

P.S. The painting I was talking about yesterday: