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Monthly Archives: April 2016

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Back to the fairground! We’ve not paid a visit for some time, so there’s bound to be a new ride for us all to refuse to go on. Actually, this one might not be too bad; here we have the wheel ride widely referred to as the Rock-O-Plane, although our local counterpart was known by the far less fun American Eggs. It has been a mainstay of fairgrounds since the late 1940s. Similar to a Ferris wheel but with more gusto, the caged seats will rock with the momentum of the main frame’s spin. Neatly, most models are said to come with a wheel and brake system inside the cages, so the passengers can ‘steer’ and really dictate just how wild their ride is.

There’s not really much to say about this in terms of the exercise; the most fun part – besides the paint and light job which is always the best part – was probably using a random effector to get the cages to be seen as behaving correctly for stills – it’s not actually animated at present but I’m sure it could be relatively simply. A basic structure, it was primarily a refresher exercise as it’s really been a while since I did any 3D – I enjoy it but seem to have to be very much in the right mood. I seemed to be in that mood this evening – hopefully more to come soon! Maybe you can think of a fun fairground ride that might be worth a punt?

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chyna-1One of the very real things about being a wrestling fan at any stage of your life, for however long you may be detained by the action, is the fact that so many of these once great performers, the ones you tuned in to watch, are all too often consumed by an unforgiving and suffocating business. They slip away – whether plain forgotten, injured, or worse. It’s chilling to go back and watch the extravaganzas of old and find multiple matches full of young people who should still be, but aren’t.

Joanie Laurer, better known as Chyna, died this week, aged forty-five. A hugely influential figure with a markedly unique look, Chyna debuted as a bodyguard for Triple H in 1997, but within a couple of years she was not only being booked in matches, she was being booked against men – huge, top superstar men – and she won. And the story told was entirely fair and believable. This was a welcome departure from female representation of the time: every other woman on the roster was being booked in hideously sleazy, smutty angles in which they invariably were forced to tear each other’s clothes off. Chyna wouldn’t have fit in there, nor did she want to, so, working with the tools they had, they made her a legit superstar, an enigma that no rival promotion could boast or hope to manufacture. It’s widely rumored that for some time in 1999, the WWF were even considering putting the World Championship on her in response to her soaring popularity. Though it ultimately didn’t happen, she did win the Intercontinental Championship twice, and she also took part in the cornerstone Royal Rumble and King of the Ring tournaments; I believe she is still the only woman to have taken on any of those things.

I didn’t really care about the titles or tourneys – I loved Chyna just because she was the epitome of badass; an outcast who didn’t seem to care that she was different, indeed, she turned it to her advantage. The cocky guy would come out and snigger at having to wrestle a woman, and then Chyna would kick him in the balls and damn near drive him through the ring. It was glorious, and probably a lot more entertaining than I’ve made it sound. She always seemed to hold her own and survive. That’s what makes the end of her career, and life, so sad.

Chyna’s star continued to grow until late 2000 when the aforementioned Triple H, her real-life partner, began cheating on her with Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of boss Vince McMahon. When Trips and Steph got serious and this became common knowledge, it appeared the only thing they thought reasonable thing to do was phase Chyna out of the company completely. It’s a dreadful controversy and one about which I don’t know the full details, but it makes that period of her career so hard to revisit with knowing eyes – not that there’s that much anyway, given how scarcely she appeared in those final months of her contract. She basically vanished in 2001.

It seems that this really was the beginning of the end – I don’t think she was ever able to get over this. Then followed fifteen years of a horrible downward spiral with ultimately no real reprieve or closure from either party; there were several periods where she seemed to be doing better – a couple of years ago she was living and vlogging in Japan, where she had a job teaching English there – but each time something seemed to knock her back down. It’s a damn shame that it’s such a sad ending and that she wasn’t able to seek the right help, to power on through like her kick-ass performer self always could and like I willed she would, but the legacy of that awesome figure does power on, and will for a very long time. I can think of few others so effortlessly ground-breaking and influential as Chyna.

Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer

1970 – 2016

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It was the first thought that came into my head – surely everyone’s going this way?

‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith was both an inspiration and a tragedy, a bittersweet journey uncomfortably synonymous with professional wrestling.

From humble roots of working class Manchester, Smith would become one of the WWF’s biggest draws of the 1990s. He started out as a tag team with The Dynamite Kid, a fellow Mancunian, who went by the name of The British Bulldogs; of course, it being the WWF and the 80s, they were given a pet bulldog, Matilda, who would buoy the team and, of course, terrify the cowardly bad guys.

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The Bulldogs with a bulldog.

But it wasn’t until 1991 and a repackage as a rugged singles competitor that his star grew. I didn’t see any of his work ‘live’, as he’d left by the time my brother and I began watching, but at the age of about ten, for some reason, I lavishly blew a fiver on a video of SummerSlam 1992.

SummerSlam that year came from outside America, one of the few big events to do so. It came from Wembley Stadium, and The British Bulldog was going up against Intercontinental Champion Bret Hart in the main event. It had to only go one way, surely? The reaction of eighty thousand fans as The Bulldog made his way down the aisle, Rule Britannia blaring, adorned head to toe in Union Flag gear and flanked by Lennox Lewis, was unlike anything I’d heard before. Yes, it’s wrestling, but there was something quite emotional about it. Sure enough, Bulldog was given the strap that night – the crowd went berserk. It was perfect.

Though perfectly capable, Smith’s in-ring ability was not his strength. This was not going to set alarm bells ringing; the crowds were probably unlikely to much care about skill – look at how Hulk Hogan was portrayed. The Bulldog most definitely had the superstar look, coupled with an aura that guaranteed big-name billing in such performances. He’d go on to capture many more titles and headline many big events, tangling with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold and The Rock.

Bulldog left the WWF for rivals WCW in 1997, which turned out to be a wholly disastrous move. The next year, WCW were bringing in 80s star The Ultimate Warrior, and planned to have him make his debut by breaking through the ring – to do this, a trapdoor had been put in place. Indicative of just how careless WCW were toward their talent, they didn’t think to tell anybody on the show that night that such a device had been installed. Bulldog took a back drop directly onto the trapdoor, suffering spinal damage so severe that it almost crippled him. In a further demonstration of the company’s unwavering class, they fired him while he was in hospital.

Admirably, he returned to the WWF in late 1999, but by then the damage was done, and it was very visible. During the long period of recovery from the trapdoor incident, Smith had become dependent on cocktails of drugs to numb the relentless pain in his back. His skills were diminished, his struggles were physically and mentally evident, and sure enough, The British Bulldog dropped down the card like a stone, his appearances meaning less and less until he disappeared from TV altogether. Despite several courses of rehabilitation, Davey Boy could not escape the clutches of drug addiction and passed away in May 2002, aged only thirty-nine. A sad end, and one on a long list of fellow competitors who fell the same way. His son Harry follows his legacy, currently performing in Japan.

And indeed just as I write this, I’m told that Chyna, one of the most badass superstars the WWF has created, has died today at forty-five. She was one of my favourites as a kid; very sad news indeed.

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One of the perils of creating digital art is just that – it is a digital file, and thus comes with its own fragilities. One chink in the hardware’s armour is the clumsy cat drowning the sketchbook in that cup of tea you forgot to drink. Indeed, most of my pre-Jaywalks works were lost last spring due to hardware failure and carelessness in data protection. Thankfully though, some were survived by low quality JPEG copies taking refuge elsewhere, and I have sprinkled these into my postings from time to time.

I don’t know why I’ve gone and said all that when, really, I could have just told you that I’ve not made anything for a few days, so here’s a rather old drawing of an apparently chilly Freddie Mercury, to ward off any tumbleweed. Oh, and here’s Lily of the Valley, just because:

zonkey-2Here we have a zonkey – one of the many fascinating hybrid animals that walk the earth, but doubtless one of the most adorable. Our stripey friend’s in a jubilant mood, clearly, though who knows why that could be…!

(party horn)

I suspect  it’s not – in fact I know it’s not – to celebrate Scrabble, much as the word game is surely synonymous with the most uproarious shindigs, but today is also Scrabble Day. This should explain to you why I’ve stuck massive tiles with the incorrect font down the side. Hmm! I’m sure I had something more clever in mind initially, but by the time I came to it, I had obviously drawn a blank.

With my tendency toward word games as is, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn that I rather enjoy Scrabble, and always have. I think I liked the idea of dealing with tiles and letters after watching Countdown. I was very little, and didn’t really know what I was doing – this is my primary excuse for placing WANK on the board at the age of about three or four, and unsurprisingly rendering my father speechless. It’s funny how I just remembered that, in writing this post. I think I was just making the best of the tools that I had. Honesty – it was a stroke of luck, and thankfully I pulled it off.

But indeed, I remain utterly, utterly hopeless at the game. I was going to say that ZONKEY would probably be quite an impressive play, but who knows? I suppose it’d be a good way to dispatch some unwelcome tiles, but in terms of score there’s all that triple word and double letter carry-on to consider. It’s all about geography – and that’s where it starts to become too much for my feeble brain. That, and the fact that there was no way of fixing the tiles into the sectors, of course. Even at three, this bugged me, not least because certain feline spectators took to making pitch invasions and changing the entire configuration.

Minor niggles aside, it’s still a lot of fun and an invigorating challenge. Is there a way to play online? I expect so. If anybody reading this fancies a game,  now or sometime in the future: you’re on! You are so going down (as the next person to trounce me, convincingly, at Scrabble).

(party horn)

grounder-1cIt’s been quite some time since I did any vectors, and indeed as virtually all (if not totally all) of my past efforts with paths have been of a Sonic the Hedgehog bent, I thought to carry on the tradition and revisit surely one of the best villains in the entire franchise: Grounder. Such acclaim should not be taken as if Grounder is a calculating, monstrous beast. He isn’t. He is quite adorable though, don’t you think?

Although created by Robotnik in the very first episode of the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series – which I used to adore as a child, and would get up at six o’clock on Saturday mornings to watch on Channel 4 – to work alongside fellow henchman, Scratch (a giant robot chicken, natch) the mid-90s cartoon series is not his debut. Grounder is actually inspired by a robot villain that appears in 1992’s Sonic 2, patrolling (and destroying) parts of the Aquatic Ruin Zone. The original Grounders were quite menacing in appearance – not nearly adorable or amusing.

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Grounder in Sonic 2, before he became cute.

What perhaps caps off Grounder’s affability is his ineptitude. Built to supposedly be a super robot, Grounder is markedly slow-witted and gullible. A shame really, as he apparently has every weapon, tool and item conceivable inside that turquoise chassis, which he can brandish at will as the situation demands. He even has a telephone in his gut somewhere, which he can reach in and pick up to receive a bollocking from Robotnik when the latest scheme ends in utter failure with (the hugely, infuriatingly irritating) Sonic getting away unharmed.

This being said, there was one particular episode where Grounder mistakenly had a ‘genius chip’ inserted into his brain and, as you’d expect, became super smart, even overruling Robotnik himself. He spoke with uncharacteristic eloquence and kitted himself out in a monocle, mortar board and smoking jacket. This served only to make him more endearing. I believe he lost it clashing with Scratch, where even his genius couldn’t have predicted that he would come to help defeat Sonic.

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Grounder the Genius – surely one of the best characters ever created.

I feel the rest of Grounder’s involvement in any of the wafer-thin plots of these, by and large, pretty terrible cartoons could be summed up with ‘spectacular failure’. The good guys never go down. Loss and being somehow smashed to smithereens may have been a given, but the watchword of ‘The World’s Largest Paperweight’ was perseverance –  he never stopped trying, bless him. And have I mentioned he’s adorable?

carousel-2I’d long been intending to try a fairground carousel in 3D form to sit with my other models. Then I remembered just how intricate they are; to say I was daunted would be a drastic understatement, and so we’re riding on with a drawing instead. This took me a couple of days to complete, which as it happens is drastically longer than I can ever recall taking to make any of my 3D models. Frustrating it was, but very enjoyable once coming to the main of the ride. The time flew by.

In a somewhat tenuous Doodlewash A Day link, I deliberately picked an adorable reference abundant with wonderful animals, as today is Zoo Lovers Day. I don’t know why on earth I’d need to convince you to go to the zoo – what could be more fun? There are a few birdies hiding in the race too, which I’m sure qualifies the ride for Draw A Bird Day, if in the most ridiculous fashion.

How ever would I pick my racer? What a torturous quandary – so much choice. Well, I say that… feel free to come and join me, but you can certainly keep your flippers off the seal. (He wasn’t actually in the reference – nor were a couple of others – I added him, because he’s a seal.) That being said, the tiger…!!

There was also a further allusion in here, as I believed it to be the opening of the annual Easter Fair today. I was going to make some smart-arse comment about how it’s not even Easter anymore and what are they playing at, etc… but it turns out it did indeed take place last week, only shortly after Easter. Not only did it shut me up, but I missed the Fair! I suppose it’s what becomes of living under a rock. They probably had a ride just like this, only to rub salt into the wound.

I’m sure anybody who played the original RollerCoaster Tycoon (and if you haven’t, you need to!) remembers with great fondness the Merry-Go-Round. If it wasn’t the first ride you placed in your park, you were surely doing it wrong! Of course, as I’ve vented before, the guests in your park were less than awed when it comes to the gentler rides – even if the Merry-Go-Round was the only ride available, they’d turn their nose up at it, demanding more. Ungrateful sods – the ride rocks. The reason it sticks in the memory more than the rest of the game’s attractions, though, is likely because it was the only ride in the game that played music – traditional organ renditions of that-sounds-familiar classics. Now it just sounds of beautiful, horsey, up-and-downy nostalgia, wiling away those pre-homework Sunday afternoons, abjectly failing to keep my guests happy but having an absurd amount of fun nonetheless. Ahh.