go go power rangers

power rangers swords

More toys documented. These scary plastic looking things all have something to do with Power Rangers. Above are the Power Rangers Samurai swords; the top one makes noises and the weird golden head thing spins around. The one below it has a detachable plastic sword blade that is all bent out of shape from defeating bad guys and monsters. Have you ever seen Power Rangers? In all of its many iterations it is completely barmy. I remember when my nephews back in the mid-90s would watch it, and it made zero sense¬† to me then with its hammy delivery and terrible rubbery bad-guy costumes (and as for the cheap-looking pound-shop toy design of the big robot things, zords or zoids or whatever they are). And as for the dialogue, its either all “Go Go Mega Blast! Blah Blah Zap Power Robo Blast Batteries Not Included!” or its the cheesy teenagers sitting around with concerned faces saying “we’re here for you if you want to talk about your feelings,” nonsense. Yeah, with Netflix and Xfinity on-demand we have many different seasons on our TV each day. And then there are the storybooks, which make as much sense as the shows. Give me the Ninjago any day.

But the boy loves it, and that’s the main thing. The creepy plastic face below is a Gosei Power Morpher (of course it is, you couldn’t guess?) into which you place various cards that make it say specific Power-Ranger phrases; in the show they ‘morph’ the heroes into the Power Rangers.

power rangers gosei morpher

stand and deliver

2nd & G panorama
Penultimate entry of “Panoramarathon”, and second to last spread of the sketchbook. It’s funny, this was only a couple of weeks ago now but Davis already looks quite different. Spring came; bright blossoms covering the so-inclined trees all over town before the end of January, and then finally last week we got the rain we have been waiting for. It has been a long dry spell. I took advantage of the bright clear January while I could though, and this panorama shows a building I have only drawn from the G St side before, one of the historic blocks of 2nd St. This took a long time to complete. I originally went down on a late Saturday afternoon and sketched until I ached all over. Standing there by the side of the road clutching my panoramic sketchbook got very uncomfortable after a while. It was so enjoyable, stood there in an awkward position cramping up, that I went back a couple of days later to add more details and do some of the colouring-in (adding the rest of the paint later at home). I could have sat on my stool, bu I hardly ever bring it with me any more. You get a better view standing.¬† I like the outcome though, I captured a segment of downtown that I’ve not covered before. I think I, ahem, stood and delivered. At this point I should probably write something about the history of this big old building, but I’m afraid I don’t know enough about it. I do know that to the left of the building is an alleyway called Tim Spencer Alley, which was named after a UPS deliverer, the “nicest UPS delivery person who ever lived” according to Davis Wiki.
2nd & G, Davis
2nd St Davis

“jump up, kick back, whip around and spin”

ninjago gold dragon
That confusing sounding title comes from the theme tune of Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu, a show that my six-year-old son absolutely loves. Which means of course I have to love as well, and I’m fine with that. Admittedly I couldn’t figure out those lyrics on my own; I had to actually google them, to get it right and not look the inevitable fool. That’s how it is when you’re a dad, you get to be immersed in the culture of being a six-year-old (as opposed to the rest of my time, spent reading comics, watching football and Star Wars and drawing pictures of Iron Man and Magneto). The best bit is all the Lego though, and this Christmas just gone (and his recent birthday) was very Legocentric. I have built a great many highly complicated Lego sets, many of which I have also been drawing pictures of afterwards in the sketchbook devoted to my son’s things; you’ll have seen some already.
ninjago gold mech
The top one is the Golden Dragon, piloted by none other than the Gold Ninja. That was a satisfying one to build, and I built it really quickly on Christmas Day. The gold doesn’t stop there. Next up is the Gold Ninja Mech, which came with the Temple of Light set. I sketched this one because who doesn’t love drawing big robots, and I showed it to my son who, while he did like the robot, basically highlighted my ignorance of the Ninjago genre by having Sensei Wu (the bearded fellow with the stick, a kind of Lego Mr. Miyagi) piloting the thing. Oh no, it should have been the Gold Ninja, he said, Sensei Wu doesn’t have a Mech. But, but the Gold Ninja’s already flying the Golden Dragon, I protested. I’m not drawing it again.
ninjago kai fighter

So for the last one I drew the Red Ninja Kai-Fighter, and I left it pilotless. I do know the Red Ninja (known as Kai) flies this and I have even seen the cartoon, but knowing me I will probably get the version of his uniform wrong or something. Listen, if you think young kids don’t pick up on tiny tiny details you’re wrong. I still remember years ago when my son pointed out a slight difference between the Lightning McQueen on his diaper to the one on his night-light, a detail so small only a highly trained supreme intellect would notice. I was the same. At age four I was counting vertebrae on dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum and pointing out errors to the scientist tour-guides, nowadays I can barely remember the dinosaur’s names. Diplocerataurus Rex, right? Tell you what though, I’m good at this Lego lark now though. More has been built since, and there’s more to draw.

as free as the wind blows

Freeborn HallThis is Freeborn Hall, UC Davis. It’s a big building near the Memorial Union, and from what I understand, this will be its last year, at least in its present form. There are many on campus who will mourn its loss, so I thought I’d better add it to the roster of things I have sketched in this town. To be honest I’ve never really liked this building much, and that is partly because it’s a bugger to sketch – those trees in front normally block any decent view when they are leafy, and it’s so long and sloping that you need to do a panorama to catch it all. So I did a panorama, to catch it all. Click on the image for a larger view. This was drawn on location furiously over one extended lunchtime and colored in later on at home.

Yeah, I’ve never been a big Freeborn fan, since I went to see an Art Brut gig here about four years ago or so, late 2009 I think it was. I don’t know why Art Brut, a band I followed back in the early days in London and have seen in San Francisco, chose this particular venue as it was completely the wrong place for a band like them: a cavernous empty arena with about fifty or so fans huddled in front of the long stage for warmth. The band were excellent, playing many of my favourite tracks at full belt, but by their nature they are best in more intimate spaces with more people packed in (that said, first time I saw them was at the Tate playing alongside David Devant in a spatially weird but utterly compelling gig). Getting inside Freeborn was a hassle too, with the slightly paranoid security checking every part of every person coming in, more thorough pat-downs than I’ve had even at an airport, not even allowing things such as coins or dollar bills to remain in pockets (I was told to put my money on a table where it was blowing around in the strong wind while they searched my jacket for illicit objects). I understand they have their security, but it felt well over the top for any gig I have ever been to, especially as it was such a small crowd (put it this way, I’m pretty sure they don’t search the attendees at the Whole Earth Festival like that). Inside, there was nowhere to get a drink; not that I am looking for a full bar, like, but I couldn’t even find a vending machine for a diet Coke, just a small water-fountain. So yes, not a place I’d enjoy going to a gig again, but Art Brut of course were great that night, and the novelty of them being in Davis is still funny to me (hey by the way, Art Brut released their 10-year anniversary album last April, “Top of the Pops”, and if you download the free app that accompanies the album – search on iTunes – you will find an original comic drawn for every single song, and two of them were drawn by me! Part of Classic Rock’n’Roll history, mate.)

I’ve been to other events at Freeborn as part of work, a seminar here, an event there. Freeborn though is well known as the location of beloved Davis radio station KDVS, and you gotta love them. Hopefully I will get to go and sketch their immense record collection sometime before Freeborn is redeveloped.