Tag: Arts

All change for November

“At that moment I must have lost my presence of mind.”

November's cause!
November’s cause!

A couple of years ago, in a fit of ‘all mouth and no trousers‘ I signed up to NaNoWriMo.  For the uninitiated that stands for National November Writing Month.

Why do I write ‘all mouth and no trousers‘?  Because in both the previous two Novembers I didn’t even think about writing a single word, let alone actually write a word.  OK, a year ago we were in the middle of settling down into our home here in Merlin.  But still ….

So this November, I have committed to have a go.  Or as the NaNoWriMo blog post explains:

NaNoWriMo 2013: Want to Write a Novel?

It’s just a few days until November, and you know what that means: National Novel Writing Month, better known ’round these parts as NaNoWriMo, is near.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?

We know some of you have been waiting all year for this month! For those of you who are new to this project, here’s the gist:

Who: You — whether you’re a seasoned novelist, novice writer, wannabe author, or a blogger up for a challenge.

What: A project in which you work toward a goal of writing a 50,000-word novel.

Where: On your laptop. At your desk. In your favorite café. Wherever inspiration strikes.

When: Kicking off this Friday, November 1, and ending at 11:59 pm on November 30.

Why: You’re creative and passionate about words. You’ve got a story to tell. You want to participate in a fun, rewarding project and push others to stretch their imaginations, too.

How: Sign up at NaNoWriMo.org, where you can plan your novel, track your progress, and join a community that offers support, encouragement, and advice — online and off.

So that means that for the month of November I shall have my head down for quite a fews hours each day in the self-imposed challenge of seeing if I can actually write a 50,000 word novel in one month! To put that into perspective, it’s the equivalent of 1,670 words every single day, seven days a week, for the thirty days of the month!

Ergo, the time for writing posts for Learning from Dogs is going to be very severely restricted!

In fact, it’s worse than that!  I’m going to be sharing my scribblings with you.

As the NaNoWriMo site goes on to suggest:

While the NaNoWriMo website is where you’ll capture the magic, we hope you’ll use your blog to post updates, test your material, and share tips:

Connect with other participants on WordPress.com. Be sure to follow NaNoWriMo in your Reader to read what others all over the world are writing and saying throughout the month.

Test material on your readers. While diving into a novel is a solitary journey, know that you’ve got a support network in your readership — they know your voice, so consider trying out material on your blog. Not sure if a scene is working? Post an excerpt.

Reflect on your writing process. If you don’t want to share your novel-in-progress or get too specific with your readers, that’s fine. But consider taking time in between your sessions to reflect on your process: roadblocks you’ve hit, questions about your craft, and advice for other participants.

“Share the lessons you learn about your writing — and yourself — through your NaNo journey,” says Kristi. Then, tag these posts with NaNoWriMo so others can find them. There’s already chatter in the Reader, so dive in: you’ll find resourceful and inspirational posts by bloggers like Kristen LambRachel PetersonCristian Mihai, and E.E. Blake.

My idea is to post completed chapters here on Learning from Dogs every couple of days or so.  Aiming for the foreword In the beginning to be posted here next Monday, the 4th. Then Chapter One, Chapter Two, and, just possibly, Chapter Three by the end of next week.  Tomorrow, November 1st, I will share my synopsis for my novel!

NaMoWriMo stress the importance of writing; writing; writing and not losing the impetus of getting those words out by dilly-dallying in constant editing; something that I am rather prone to do over what is now more than 1,850 posts since July, 2009!

Thus the writings posted on Learning from Dogs will have many obvious errors.  So what would be truly fantastic is to have your feedback, both good and bad, also highlighting crap writing and obvious mistakes, plus any ideas as to how the story might evolve. Because at this moment in time, I don’t have much of an idea.  Mind you, I bet I’m not alone.  The NaNoWriMo website shows there are 186,437 Novelists up for it this November!

During the intervening days, in other words non-sharing days, I’ll try and find something quick or humorous to post or, perhaps, repost something that has previously been published in this place.

So if all this doesn’t ‘rock your boat’, I’ll see you on December 1st!  Assuming there is some level of creative sanity left in me!

Have a good month, people!

It’s not music; yet it is and more so!

The polyphonic me: Just be amazed.

Published on Aug 2, 2013

Frustrated by not being able to sing two notes at the same time, musical inventor Beardyman built a machine to allow him to create loops and layers from just the sounds he makes with his voice. Given that he can effortlessly conjure the sound of everything from crying babies to buzzing flies, not to mention mimic pretty much any musical instrument imaginable, that’s a lot of different sounds. Sit back and let the wall of sound of this dazzling performance wash over you.


Animal love

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France

This gorgeous video has been doing the rounds and came to me thanks to Suzann.


Very Talented Russian Bear and His Awesome Friend

This unbelievably talented and cute Russian bear can roll over, play the trumpet, sit on a lawn chair, play the trumpet, you name it. Leave it to a random Russian guy to train such an awesome bear.

Fancy lending a hand?

A new animated short film from Lucas Martell, the creator of Pigeon: Impossible.

Back on the 4th December, 2011 I published a post under the title of Pigeon: Impossible.  Here’s some of what I wrote:

A truly remarkable example of the level of film animation being produced.

The second item that came to me from Bob D. (yesterday’s is here) has clearly done the rounds; the YouTube video has been watched nearly 7 million times!  But if you haven’t seen this short film, just over 6 minutes long, then do watch it.  It shows just how close to reality film animation has become!  The story behind the film is from here, reproduced below.

Pigeon: Impossible is the tale of Walter, a rookie secret agent faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase.

The film took nearly 5 years to complete and is the first attempt at animation by writer/director Lucas Martell: “When the project started, it was mostly an excuse to learn 3D animation, but by the end of the project I had spent so much time reworking and polishing the story that I just wanted people to laugh.

The end-result is a hilarious 6-minute romp through the streets of Washington D.C. as our hero fights to save himself, and the world from the chaos reigned down by a hungry pigeon. Breathtaking visuals and a sweeping soundtrack showcase the work of nearly one-hundred talented artists and musicians, and the film stands as a testament to what can be accomplished by a team of dedicated volunteers working for the love of their craft.

Personally, I think that last sentence is still an understatement.  Just watch this – and be amazed.

If you haven’t seen the film then you can watch it here.

Anyway, yesterday Lucas Martell left a comment to that post, as follows:

Lucas Martell
Lucas Martell

Hi, I’m the creator of Pigeon: Impossible and am so glad you enjoyed the film! We’re trying to finish our next animated short, and would love it if you could check it out and help us spread the word.


It seemed a worthwhile thing to do just that.  That next animated short is called The OceanMaker. Enjoy 4 minutes of it:

This is the website associated with the venture that explains more and also gives details of the way you can financially support the project, starting from as little as $10.  The website is great fun! (I couldn’t resist republishing the following)


About the Film

The OceanMaker is a 9-minute animated short film that takes place after Earth’s oceans have disappeared. It tells the tale of one courageous pilot who fights against vicious sky pirates for control of the last remaining source of water: the clouds.


From a visual standpoint, we’re steering away from the air pirates often found in steampunk and going straight-up “Mad Max” in the sky. The film is packed with old, beat-up planes that have been cobbled together from spare parts found in airplane graveyards.


Tonally, The OceanMaker is filled with exciting action, but the ending is emotional and powerful in a way that even feature-length films rarely achieve. The film also contains no dialogue, which means that the visuals and soundtrack need to be top notch in order to tell this story properly.

Finally, this film is unique in that it’s a complete story which stands on its own as a self-contained short film, but it’s also part of a even larger, more epic tale. Contributing to this project means a double dose of good karma, as you’re not only helping us complete the short, you’re getting us one step closer to making the feature! Our sights are set high and it’s going to be an amazing ride. We hope you’ll come along and share the adventure with us!


  • $10,000 – We can finish the models! – At the moment we have our hero models finished, but the story requires several other assets in order to set up the world and show how the loss of the oceans has affected life on earth. At $10,000, we’ll be able to bring on two model/texture artists to finish these assets.
  • $20,000 – We can finish the animation! – Animation is about 70% completed, but the remaining shots are the most challenging ones in the film. We’ll need two animators to bring these awesome shots to life!
  • $30,000 – We can finish the lighting! – Lighting and rendering are what make things pretty. It’s also a very technically challenging process, with each frame taking about an hour to render. At 24 frames per second, that’s just under 13,000 frames!
  • $40,000 – We can finish the film! – The last major step is the effects. In a word: clouds. They’re very tough to do right, and they’re pretty important for this whole story to work. Plus, these aren’t just static clouds in the background. We’re flying through them, scooping them up and making them grow!
  • $50,000 – Post Production! – This first stretch goal would allow us to hire a professional sound designer, as well as doing the final mix, color correction and output in a proper studio. This is crucial in order to submit the film to festivals and put it up on the big screen. If we reach this stretch goal, then all donors will also recieve a PDF copy of the script!
  • $60,000 – Live orchestra! – With this stretch goal, we could record Chris Reyman’s amazing score with a real live orchestra. This would be HUGE, as the film is extremely reliant on music, and the production value will increase dramatically. All donors at every level would receive a DRM-free copy of the score.
  • $70,000 – Expanded cast! – One thing that will make the film even better, is a second character. We already have a temporary version of that character in our animatic, but she’s very difficult to create and quite expensive for the few shots she’s in. However, that small addition would take the emotion and complexity of the story to a whole new level.
  • $80,000 – $100,000 The OceanMaker extended universe – As you can imagine, the OceanMaker is a really BIG story… too big to fit entirely within a short, but we’ve done an excellent job capturing the essence of it in a way that feels complete and stands on its own. However, if we hit $80,000, we can start to explore this broader story. This would be in the form of a graphic novel that delves deeper into the world both before and after the short film. The higher into this range we get, the longer this graphic novel could be and the more of the expanded story we could tell. Donors at every level would get a free digital copy of the graphic novel.
  • $100,000 and up – Feature!!! – OK, I realize we’re really reaching for the stars here, but you don’t do something like this without being a dreamer. If we somehow manage to reach the 100k mark, we’ll be able to start working on the feature film! It would be based in part on the content from the extended universe. The first step would be a treatment, then a script, then visual development and finally an animatic. Should we be able to complete any of these stages with money raised from this campaign, all donors will receive a digital copy of the completed work. You can take a sneak peek or remain unspoiled, but its the least we can do if your hard-earned dollars end up funding development of the feature.


So I hope you can contribute whatever you can afford.

Oh, and I should make it clear that neither Jean nor I have any financial or commercial connection with the project.

Have a great Sunday!

If you are not into dogs, especially big dogs, then skip today’s post!

Two ways to view these wonderful pictures of large dogs.

Either watch the video, if you don’t mind the advert at the end, (cool music, by the way.)

Or take a look at the pictures, one by one, with a big thanks to Dan for sending them to me.

Here we go!

Dogs Who Don’t Realize

They are BIG!!!!

































Finally, assuming you haven’t had sufficient of dogs, here’s a lovely animated GIF sent to me by Chris Sunggs.


Enjoy the ride

Two moving films.

I am indebted to Merci O. who regularly comments on Learning from Dogs for sending me the first film, see below.  In my efforts to find a YouTube link (there didn’t appear to be one) I came across the second film.  Both are good for the soul.

So click here to watch the first film.  The film is comprised of a series of slides melded together with a beautiful music track. Do watch and listen.

Then here is the YouTube video, Morcheeba’s Enjoy The Ride.

Have a peaceful day wherever you are in the world.

David Ehrenfeld

Five minutes of pure sanity

I can’t recall how I came across this wise Professor but it was in recent times.  Not going to say any more at this stage. Just watch the following.

There will be more from David Ehrenfeld over the coming weeks.

Humanity is on the march, earth itself is left behind.

David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism, 1978