Saturday, February 20, 2010

Character Creation - Lackadaisy style

Well, I haven't really had much to talk about, but today, I feel inspired!  Inspired to create a new Lackadaisy char!  So, I figured I'd document, for those who are thinking of getting into the world of roleplaying, or even just writing, how I go about creating a character.

The inspiration and the basics.

1920s-based char of course, for the Lackadaisy world.  Always need to be mindful of the world you're dropping your character into, so you can build your char into it.

Second, I'd like a male, preferably in the industrial sector.  I decided on a general mechanic for now.  Might be a mix of car, boat and/or plane in the end, but we'll see.  General mechanic is nice and flexible.

Also, for Lackadaisy, I need to pick a species of animal.  I usually go with cat, but this time I might go with something different, like a raccoon, possum, squirrel, or maybe even a dog.

Then, I need a name and an origin.  For me, origin comes before name.  Will he be first or second gen immigrant, or an American mongrel with no particular ethnic breeding?

Finally, I need to start thinking of personality and history.  I've already decided that they'll be somewhat traditionally educated: a basic elementary education, followed by years of apprenticeship.  Given the amount of years that one apprentices for, he'll be most likely in his late 20s, maybe early thirties in 1927 (the target year for the Lackadaisy world).  That would mean he'd have been old enough to serve at least some time in the Great War.  Maybe he served as a mechanic in the war?  That would give him the proper training in planes and cars, if not boats.  The boats could have been picked up more as a hobby, living close to the river.

Okay!  Now that you've got your starting point, it's time to move onto the next step: research!

Research, research, research...

Unless you're creating some fictional creature right off the top of your head, you're going to HAVE to do your research!  Chances are, practically every character you create is going to need some kind of research.

For me, I think I'm going to go for a non-feline character, so I need to start looking at what species of animal I'd like to use.  I usually start with Wikipedia for an overview and a list of species/breeds of any particular animal I'm thinking of.  This is also where origin comes in.  I've decided to go with American mongrel, so if I choose a dog, it's going to have to be an american breed, or if I choose a squirrel, it can't be a European species.

(two hours later)

Okay!  After much research, including almost an hour of tangent researching (when I was researching raccoons, i came across a fun google word: baculum), I have settled on an Australian Shepherd.  While not crucial to my characters, Australian Shepherds existed as a breed during the 1920s.  Usually I reserve such strict distinctions to the feral pets.  Plus, now that I have my species and breed, I can nail down an exact origin.  He should have grown up on a Mid-Western farm close to a town, where he could've easily become apprenticed and gone to school.  He also should have several siblings, so that he wouldn't have been stuck at the farm, but could pursue a mechanic/blacksmith apprenticeship.  This mean he would also be one of the youngest in the sibling line.  Also, I usually choose an animal based on the temperament I want, so his temperament would follow that of an Australian Shepherd.

Now to work on his war record...

Ah, found it.  I've decided that he was part of the 'Motor Transport Corps', the precursor to the current U.S. Army Transportation Corps.  He was assigned to the Service Parks.

Service Parks

Designed to make repairs not requiring much time or heavy equipment, these mostly mobile workshops carried a limited stock of spare parts and were mainly assigned to combat zones. Because of their temporary and mobile nature, the service parks were often operating in the open, under canvas, or in any shelter found to be available.  (Wikipedia quote, from Motor Transport Corps (United States Army) (World War One))
Okay, seems like he can't do planes in the war, as planes are apparently under the Navy.  See?  This is why research is important.  Okay, let's stick to motor vehicles and boats as a hobby.

The last thing I think I REALLY need to research at this point is his present wardrobe.  Unlike most of my previous characters, he is strictly working class, so he needs to be dressed appropriately.  Also, what would his work clothes (this is different to his street clothes) and his tools look like?

So, he would wear either overalls or, more probably, a combo suit that he could wear right over his street clothes.  They'd be made of denim or some other heavy material.  In the winter he'd wear a matching jacket.  Since I see him owning his own shop, he'd most likely not wear these clothes out on the street, but a sensible suit.  He'd most likely have in his closet: several shirts and pants for daywear that he could mix and match, no more than 3 'Sunday best' or evening suits, and maybe one or two leisure suits.  He'd also have motoring clothes, since I think he should have his own car or motorbike.  He would prefer braces (suspenders) to belts, and his favourite hats would be a flat cap and a wool trilby; he'd wear a felt fedora with his best clothes.

I think that's enough research for me... oh snap!

I almost forgot one of my most important parts of research (for me, anyway)!  I must name this guy.  I always look for a good name that would be relatively common, especially if they're an all-American.  If not, I name them based on their ethnicity.  When looking at name popularity, research the character's BIRTH YEAR.  Don't research the year that's your character's 'present-day'.

Clayton Lawrence Whitfield.  Yes, I like the sound of that.  Any nicknames?  Childhood ones would be 'Clay', while Army ones would be 'Whit'.

Okay, that's enough for now.  I'll post the final profile once i finish hashing it out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

The Chinese New Year is coming up, and since the theme this term at school is "It's A Great Big World", looking at all the things in the world around us.  This month my class has been looking at countries and cultures, so I decided we could do some crafts and activities to celebrate the start of the Lunar New Year.  I contacted the mother of a Chinese student who graduated last year, and she offered to give me some 'hong bao', the traditional red envelopes given to children during the holiday.  She's also giving me some info on the New year, and I have some crafts lined up for them.  Should be a lot of fun!  I'll try to remember to take and post some pictures!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Video Post - Road Safety

I found this one youtube on Twitter, from Adam Savage (of Mythbusters' fame.  Follow him at 'donttrythis').  It got me searching some other road safety commercials, and here are some of the favourite ones, starting with the one that started it all.

This last one is a compilation of different commercials put to music. Longer, but very touching. My favourite.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Steampunk Chronicles, Ep. 4 - Characters

So I had to rewrite a character's profile, mainly because I lost the website where I'd stashed his first one.  This is always unfortunate because I'm never as motivated the second time around.  Fortunately, I remembered most of his information, except for his exact history, which I have to work on again.  I figured I'd post it here so you all can see what I put into my characters.  Maybe later I'll post my other steampunk character.  They're both guys, both mechanics, but very different personalities.  Maybe one day I'll get around to creating a good female character.

Name: Leviticus Abrahamson III
Nickname: Levi 
Age: 27 
Height: 6' 
Build: Thin, but sturdy. Strong and fit from working with boiler engines. 
Appearance: Black, wavy hair, bright green eyes. One eye is scarred, and he wears a telescopic monogoggle over it, which actually helps him see better than his regular eye. He has various other scars and burns on his arms and chest, par for the course with his line of work. He tends to wear: a black coachman's hat, a rifle frock coat, a tan canvas vest when working, or a gold and red vest when he's not. Various colours of canvas pants when working, more fancy trousers when not. Tends to wear a silk puff tie when he's not working, as well as gloves. 
Accessories: A telescoping monogoggle, which he switches for a regular pair of tinted goggles when he's machining. When he's not machining, they live atop his coachman's hat. He carries a doctor bag with his tools and writing supplies, and when he's travelling, a small chest with his chemicals and a large duffel bag with his extra clothes. For defense he carries a shotgun-type weapon of his own design which shoots heavy-duty shells, as well as a more traditional Colt 45 Peacemaker.
Personality: Shameless and proud, but not unreasonably boastful. He's smart and he knows it. Tends to leap without looking, and is willing to follow anything that'll lead him to his riches. 
History: is forthcoming...


Name: Arthur Clinton Bray
Nickname: Arty Flint, Mouse
Age: 25
Gender: Male
Height: 5'
Occupation: Engineer/Scientist
Build: Slight
Hair: Dirty blond, shaggy, always a mess
Eyes: slightly squinty, amethyst
Clothes: This vest, shirt and tie, this frock coat, these pants or these pants, this canethese braces,this hat, these gloves, and these shoes. He only wears the hat, tie, vest, gloves, coat and cane when he bothers to leave his shop for food and supplies. His other clothes are usually covered in metal shavings, grease, soot and dirt. He's quite the messy inventor.
Accessories: A doctor bag, with these goggles, a brass version of this pocketwatch, this inkwell, these pens, and a leather-bound notebook, as well as various scientific, mechanical and machining tools stuffed inside it. It's surprising he can ever find anything in there. He also wears these glasses. They're Pince-Nez glasses. Instead of arms, they pinch the nose to stay on.
Personality: Jovial, but absent-minded, he laughs at himself a lot, both for his appearance and the constant explosions he creates in his shop. Constantly thinking and intensely curious, he tends to mutter to himself and stare at objects for extended periods of time, but doesn't mind pleasant interruptions. He tends to be a bit long-winded and hyper, eager to explain how something works or what he's thinking about. Because people tend to cut him off, the more excited he is about something, the faster he talks. He's also a self-taught doctor, attempting to save money after constant doctor visits due to constantly injuring himself in his shop. He almost always has some sort of bandage on.
History: Apprenticed to an engineer as a young lad, Arthur inherited his shop from his old master, and soon began to expand and improve on many of the inventions his master began. He also is a chemical hobbyist, attempting to create better sources of fuel and compounds. He has one dark spot in his history in the form of a lost love that he doesn't really talk much about, but it has left him somewhat shy around women, blushing and stammering when spoken to.


The second is this character's original profile.  See how much more detailed it is?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A little free time... time for rambling!

I got up extra early this morning in anticipation of going back to work, finally.  And I need to leave early because the bridge is down to one lane traffic for the next 3 months or so.  :P  And it's raining!  What a welcome back to work, huh?

Anyway, getting off the steampunk topic for awhile before I beat it to death (next time I'll probably talking about a couple of steampunk chars that I've created), I wanted to talk a little bit, in vague terms, about my job and my kids.  My kids at my job.

I teach at a Montessori preschool, in the preschool class, which is the oldest group.  I currently have 7 (soon to be 8) children in the class, all ranging from 4-5 years old.  The newest one will be just 3, but he's ready to move up.  One thing I love about my class is that my kids are making the leap into beginning reading.  I mean, REAL reading!  Sounding out words and reading a story.  It's exciting for me.  They're really smart kids, and I get to teach them all sorts of things.  They're always asking questions, to the point of my insanity at times, but they're sweet kids.  If I talk about them in the future, it'll be by initials only, and no pics.  Safety first, you know!

I really can't wait to get to work and see what they've been up to while I've been sick.  I know they've been well taken care of, because the head teacher's been covering my class, and she's an old pro at Montessori.  I just hope they don't go nuts now that I'm back.  But they probably will.  Just my luck, huh? X3

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Steampunk Chronicles, Ep. 3 - Fashion from the top...

The tricky thing about Steampunk design is if you want a more historically accurate type of ladies' wear, what do you choose?  The world of Steampunk is a mix between Late Victorian/Edwardian, and women's fashion fluctuates largely within this timeframe, as in most eras.  Well, let's start from the top...

Hats- Fortunately, hats during these two eras are fairly similar: elaborate, wide brimmed, and heavily embellished with feathers and veils.  The main difference, as far as I can see, is that the Edwardian era hats had deeper crowns.  You can definitely see where the mini hat idea came from in the Victorian era, since women tended to have very long hair, but kept it up during the day.  The hat would have a smaller crown which they would pin to their hair, and the wider brim, feathers and veils would cover the rest of the hair, or at least most of it.  The first picture is of the popular Victorian-style hats, and the second is of a mid to late Edwardian-style hat.  Notice first that the second hat is worn lower on the head and has a much larger brim.  So when do you know what to wear?  Notice the dress collar.  Once the collars fell, the hats fell as well.  For Steampunk purposes, however, the hats kept to a more Victorian style.

Okay, I don't feel like doing any more right now.  More later...

I just realised I said that both had wide brims.  I'll find some wide-brimmed Victorian hats later and stick it in here.

Sick Rant, plus a confession

Second day home, recovering from a horrendous cough left over from the worst cold I've had in years.  I'm so over being sick.  I wanna be back with my children.  I never thought I'd be saying I can't wait to go back to work, but I'd rather be at work than home sick with this cough.

Anyway, I know you all love a juicy confession, so here it is.

I'm a furry.

Yes, it's true, and now you finally know the truth.  I'm not hardcore like other people, with the whole fursuit thing (which I think is creepy, btw) but I wouldn't mind having moveable ears and tail.  Being able to climb and walk on all fours like a cat, and able to convey emotion through previously mentioned appendages just appeals to me.  Yes, I do have a fursona (furry personality).  Her name's Camilla, she's a jaguar of Mexican heritage.  In modern-day, she is fully bilingual, but in her original era of the 1920s, she speaks primarily Spanish with broken English.  The original Camilla is much more feral, having grown up in the border towns of Texas.  She's a gun-for-hire in the Prohibition.  In modern-day, she's a financial shark, highly intelligent and highly cosmopolitan.

How did I get into such a thing?  In one word, Lackadaisy.

What is Lackadaisy?  Let me give you a taste:
Who wouldn't want to follow something like this?  It's a webcomic about anthro cats, set in Prohibition 1920s St. Louis.  It centers around a speakeasy and it's crew, after which the comic is named.  Did I mention that this comic also hosts a forum, which has a roleplaying section?  Now you know my full descent into this crazed fandom.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Steampunk Chronicles: Ep. 2 - A little bit about airships...

Having some trouble sleeping, so I thought I'd post a little more Steampunk.  This time we're talking transportation.  The transportation that defines Steampunk fantasy: airships.

Now, you may ask, "But airships are real.  What do they have to do with this fantasy genre?"

Yes, airships, zeppelins, blimps, hot air balloons, they shaped our history in a big way.  They're sleek, pretty and massive.  But are they outrageous enough for Steampunk?  Oh ho ho no, my friends!

Now THIS! my friends, is an airship!

When you think Steampunk airship, think a classic wooden ship (maybe metal reinforced) with a big-ass balloon on top.  Most will have either mizzen sails along the ship sides or propellors and underneath for stability/propulsion.

One requirement for all airships as well, is a huge boiler room.  Whether your airship runs on steam, some form of liquid fuel, or even magic (either elemental or electrical), you are obligated to have a boiler room with a hardcore or nerdy engineer.

Now, what exactly were these ships used for?  Well, how many uses do traditional ships have?  There were passenger and luxury ships, merchant ships, personal crafts, and ESPECIALLY pirate ships!

Because you can't have a good steampunk without pirates and/or some evil scientist!

We'll talk more about smaller steampunk machines later, especially the support vehicles for the airships.

Nostalgia-induced Glee

I LOVED Josie and the Pussycats growing up, and this only increased the awesome.

Isn't it nice when you grow up with this sort of awesome?

Steampunk Chronicles, Ep. 1

In order to further validate the existence of this thing, I thought I should let you all in on my love for Steampunk.  I don't want this to be a Steampunk blog, so all such posts will be titled "Steampunk Chronicles".  I don't know how far this little obsession will eventually go, but I thought I'd start out with a couple things I dream of having.


OMG, there are no words to convey how bad I want a pair of steampunk goggles!  Unfortunately, having a strong prescription makes this a little difficult.  I'd be constantly switching between the goggles and my glasses.  I have found 2 solutions to this:  
  1. Buy goggles with prescription lenses.  Hardly anyone does this, but I know that does offer this service, but it's mad expensive.
  2. Pince-nez glasses!  Because nothing says Victorian like an awesome pair of these!
What is this pince-nez, you ask?  Simply put, pince-nez glasses come from the French, meaning 'to pinch the nose'.  It was in huge vogue, worn by men & women during the late Victorian/Edwardian era, because the constant wearing of glasses was not in fashion.  

See Teddy?  Teddy was a cool dude.  He wore pince-nez.  They even had security cords that retracted the cord attached to the glasses so they could be kept from falling.

I'd wear pince-nez.  Switch them out with some awesome goggles, preferable with one of the goggle lenses having a telescoping lens or with magnifying loupes (those little magnifying lenses that you attach to a pair of glasses).

Next, I need a top hat.  I'd probably have to get a mini top hat, or at least a smaller one that I can pin atop my locs, since my head is too big with the locs to fit one on my head.

Finally, what sort of steampunk lady would I be without an awesome corset or cincher and leather boots?!  I think I'd go for the cincher...oooh, and a nice long coat...

But yes, those are my initial steampunk desires.  Now you know.

What color are your emotions?

I've heard that when doctors ask little children to describe 'hurt', they ask them to tell them what color the pain feels like.  So I think, all emotions have a color.  But what colour?  Can a color be for more than one emotion?  Sure.  Yellow can be fear (like 'yellow-bellied') or happiness (like sunshine).  Then I realised: emotions are about SHADES of colour!

Genius, I know, but it's harder than you think to nail down a satisfactory colour for each emotion.  And which emotions should I include in this?  This will be an ongoing thought process...

I...I feel so alive...

Well, here I am. Let's see how long it lasts...

Okay, so. Reason, reason, gotta have some kinda reason for starting this thing...

Basically, what I want to do is to practice my voice. Getting my writing voice out there and sharing some of the stuff that goes through my head. I love all sorts of stuff, but I rarely go as far as heavily investing in them, so I figured I'd bring all my fancies to bear in one place, do a little ranting whenever the mood strikes me, and form HUGE RUN-ON SENTENCES LIKE THIS ONE! I just wanna do what I want, y'know?

In the end, who knows? Maybe I'll start writing poetry again, maybe even get the words together for a little kids' book like I always wanted. Or maybe just find a couple new friends on the web. Or maybe I'll just sit here and talk to myself.


Thrusters on full, keep all the red shirts on the ship, and engage!