Groot, Rocket, and why it’s cool that Chris Pratt’s a thief

When previews first started airing for Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t know that there was anyone more skeptical than I.

Talking raccoons? Fighting trees? Ugh, Marvel, I thought, please just stick to human (or at the very least, humanoid) superheroes.

My husband, then my boyfriend (wow, has it really been that long?), had more hope. And I let him convince me to go see the movie, but mostly just because I was (am) an avid Parks and Rec and Doctor Who fan, and hence I was eaten up with curiosity about Chris Pratt’s and Karen Gillan’s roles. Andy Dwyer as an action hero? Amy Pond as a supervillain? That, I had to admit, was pretty intriguing. But I was still prepared to hate the talking raccoon.

I don’t know that I could have been more wrong about my initial reaction to the previews.

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Rocket Raccoon

Chris Pratt was a striking yet still hilarious departure from Andy Dwyer; Karen Gillan was masterful in all her bald, blue, black-eyed glory; and miracle of all miracles, I was even won over by the talking raccoon. I did not see that coming.

Groot

I AM GROOT

But my favorite thing about the movie has nothing to do with the movie itself.

My favorite thing about Guardians of the Galaxy is that Chris Pratt stole his costume from the set of the film and kept it so that as Star-Lord, he could visit sick kids in hospitals. As I did a little background reading on Guardians before writing this post, I came across that fact on IMDb. And apparently I’m too skeptical about a lot of things (I’m realizing as I write this), because I definitely did not believe that at first.

So I decided to fact-check it, gearing myself up for it to be a cute but groundless rumor, and I found two things. One, a whole bunch of people were writing about it, and two, it was corroborated by valid sources. Not the least of which was, ya know, an actual interview with Chris Pratt himself.

So now anytime I think of Guardians of the Galaxy, I think of little ones in hospitals getting to see the actual Star-Lord. I think of their eyes lighting up, and their smiles radiating joy. I think of the needles and tubes not hurting quite so bad, just for a moment. And I’m not gonna lie—that gets me a little choked up.

Honestly, knowing all this, I’d probably go see the sequel they’re filming now, just to support Star-Lord. Even if I’d ended up hating the talking raccoon.

Bear Necessities: drawings from and thoughts on The Jungle Book, old and new

Even as a little girl, I harbored severe doubts about the veracity of Doctor Dolittle. I don’t know, but the idea that some guy’s pet parrot decided she could teach him the languages of all the animals, which conveniently no parrot had ever revealed to a human in the history of humans owning parrots—just seemed a touch fishy to me.

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Bill Murray’s Baloo from the 2016 Jungle Book; a pencil sketch

But The Jungle Book! Now there was a masterpiece. Secretly I wished I’d been found as a baby by a benevolent panther, too, to be turned over to a pack of wolves. Because if you were raised by wolves, nurtured in the heart of the jungle your whole childhood, not only should you certainly be able to speak with animals, but—well—how could you not be able to speak with animals?

The very foolproofness of the story was its beauty. Mowgli was my hero. The wolves were my champions. Bagheera was kind of a killjoy but honestly a hero too, because he was pretty crucial to saving Mowgli’s life and whatnot.

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a pen drawing of Hathi, Jr., the little elephant form the 1967 Jungle Book

And Baloo! Super fun but also startlingly fierce when rubber met proverbial road—he was the whole package. Plus he seemed like he’d be the best to cuddle with, and Mowgli would never have to worry about being chilly in the rain wearing nothing but those red underwear, because he could just curl up with a giant bear, warm and furry and his best friend.

Man, I wished so hard I could live in the jungle and be brave enough to fight Shere Khan.

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a pen sketch of Bagheera from the 1967 Jungle Book

A couple days ago, as I sat in a cinema watching The Jungle Book, I felt myself wishing that again in spite of myself. In spite of adulthood, in spite of the knowledge that, sadly, even growing up with wolves wouldn’t allow a person to actually engage in rational conversation with animals (…right?).

And that’s why I think the new Jungle Book is a masterpiece, too.

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a rough sketch of Shere Khan from over a year ago, when I was still signing my drawings as Randi Bouck

Disney drawings: Flash, Clawhauser, and my big complaint against Zootopia 

“But what if you don’t even like the movie?” my husband asked me recently.

He’d caught me drawing the sloth Flash the day before Zootopia premiered.

It was a legitimate question, but after having seen the movie four times, I can now confirm there was not a problem there.

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Flash, Flash, Hundred-yard Dash

Naturally, I wasn’t the only one pleased with Zootopia. My good friend Mollie requested that I draw the lovable, Gazelle-adoring, donut-obsessed police officer cheetah Benjamin Clawhauser. (Did you know he has a Mickey-shaped spot hiding on his right cheek?)

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“Oh, THERE you went, you lil’ dickens!” -Benjamin Clawhauser

So yeah, Zootopia is pretty great. (A 98% on Rotten Tomatoes says that’s a pretty universal opinion.) I will say it isn’t without its flaws, though.

Well, one flaw in particular.

One of Zootopia’s strongest points is its insistence that anyone truly can be anything. The film is a fanciful, forceful masterpiece on defying limits, shattering stereotypes, and silencing prejudice.

But there’s one flaw in that grand anthem. Among the foxes, rabbits, mice, weasels, sheep, lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), otters, jaguars, cheetahs, and Cape buffalo championing the film’s cause through their various roles, there is

not

one

hedgehog.

Thought to be rodents (they’re not) and commonly considered to just be smaller but equally dangerous porcupines (with whom they share no relation whatsoever)—friendly, bashful hedgehogs are among the most misunderstood creatures in the world.

And a porcupine gets a part in the movie crossing a busy street in front of the male lead, but there’s nary a hedgehog to be found.

Alas, Disney. Alas, Zootopia.

Maybe have a hedgehog or two in the sequel, ok?

happy birthday, hedgehog

Yesterday our baby hedgehog turned one. But don’t worry, we’re not the kind of people to buy a pink candle at Target. For a hedgehog. Come on now.

Oh, wait. Apparently we are.

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April, one whole year old.

But at least I’m not the kind of person to write a sappy love post to a baby hedgehog as if she were my child. If I were, though, I’d probably say something like—

Dear April,

It’s been a good year.

I remember waiting for you to be born. And we thought you were going to be a boy and we were going to call you George. And when our friends asked us why, we didn’t have an answer except that it would be funny to have a gentleman hedgehog named George.

But then you were born, and there was no boy hedgehog. Just you. And we decided you were ours, and we would call you April, and we didn’t even realize when we named you that you were born in April too (duh).

And most our friends thought we were insane for getting you because they didn’t realize the difference, yet, between hedgehogs and porcupines. And yes, it would have been insane for us to have a porcupine as a pet.

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April at seven weeks old, asleep in the palm of my hand.

You were tiny, and you kept falling abruptly asleep for a nap in the palm of my hand. You fit in the palm of my hand back then!

You ran around on your exercise wheel, and grew bigger and stronger, and then you braved a fifteen-hour trip from Texas to blizzarding Colorado, nestled in a warm shoebox in my lap. Hedgehogs aren’t really supposed to be able to do stuff like that, but you did anyway.

You don’t fit in the palm of my hand anymore, but that’s okay. You still run on your blue wheel, but only when it’s dark and you think we can’t see you. (By the way, we can hear it squeaking as it goes around and around. We do realize what you’re doing.) You still make us laugh with your tiny sneezes and your funny little panics and your passionate determination to SNIFF ALL THE THINGS.

Zach and I love you a lot.

Love,

Your female human.

So, yeah, that’s probably about what I’d say. But like I said, I’m not that kind of person.

Anywho, it’s been ten months since my last post, as WordPress so kindly keeps reminding me. Recently I had a conversation with a fellow hedgehog owner on Facebook, and I realized that hedgehog owners need each other. Which reminded me that this blog used to connect me with the hedgehog-owning (and the hedgehog-loving and the moderately-curious-about-hedgehogs) community.

Which, consequently, reminded me that I have also amassed an obscene number of drawings and doodles over the past ten months, and this blog used to connect me with the greater art community in general, as well.

Do I have anything worth sharing? I don’t know.

But I think, since the whirlwind of getting ready to get married, and then getting married, and then moving temporarily to Colorado right after getting married, has begun to calm a little, I think I’ll start sharing in the blogging community again. About my funny little girl hedgehog, about my struggles and failures and musings on my journey as an artist. (As well as, you know, artwork.)

So if you’re interested in any of that, or if you’re bored and need something to look at to pass the time, I’d be so honored if you’d put some coffee on and join me.

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Monday Dose of April: Coffee Date with a Baby Hedgehog

A couple nights ago, I had coffee with April on the front porch while the sun went down. The evening was warm and golden with late sunlight and startlingly mild for June in Texas. I’m definitely not complaining.

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April mostly sniffed around and explored and knocked over my coffee cup (but not until it was empty, thank goodness). It was the most perfect coffee date ever.

Now that she’s nearly ten weeks old, she’s a lot bigger and sturdier, and it’s easier to relax and know she’s going to be all right as we take care of her. Whenever we take her places, for instance, we put her in a small open box, wrapped loosely in a little cloth she loves to cuddle up in. When she was littler, I used to constantly be checking to make sure she wasn’t, I don’t know, suffocating or something in the cloth. Well, shocker, turns out she was always perfectly fine, and she definitely didn’t need me to make sure she was still breathing. Especially while sleeping peacefully in a very breathable fabric. Sometimes she’d get annoyed with me for letting in the light and spoiling her nap.

Paranoid much? Sigh. I don’t know what this says about how I’ll be when I become the mother of actual human children, but here’s hoping I can work out some of the over-protectiveness while I’m caring for a hedgehog, and not a kid.

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P.S. – Also, her coat of white fur is finally coming in! We have no idea why she was so late on getting her fur, but the breeder assured us she was perfectly healthy. And her mom was apparently the same way. So yeah, her fur makes her look extra cuddly, and that’s nice. Just look at that curious little nose!

Throwback Thursday: a Tale of Two Yzmas (Emperor’s New Groove)

Next up in our throwback series here on the blog are actually two drawings, both of the lovely (hideous) Yzma. I first loosely sketched a sort of creepily uplit portrait of Yzma’s grinning face, and then, at the brilliant suggestion of one of my old university friends, I drew her in her cat form. 

Both were oddly stress-relieving exercises.  

Up next week is another of my favorites. Hope to see you then!

A Monday Dose of April: Wheel of Terror

As a celebration of our third week with April, we got her a special play wheel to run in. We’d been told unanimously that hedgehogs love running in wheels, and as dutiful hedgehog parents we had to get one of our own. April, however, had other ideas. Her first time exploring the wheel, she did her Hedgehog Huffy Puffy Thing which means she is Very Upset, and promptly scrambled out of the wheel to burrow in the wood shavings and hide beneath it.

Side note: it’s a bummer that the Hedgehog Huffy Puffy Thing is a symbol of alarm, because it’s about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. April gives tiny gasps in and out over and over, and it sounds weirdly human. In the wild there are of course dangerous and threatening situations when such a reaction would be fitting, but when April whips it out in response to being set in a fun play wheel hedgehogs love, it’s the ultimate drama and it’s absolutely hilarious.

So yeah, anyway, she hates her wheel for now. (And by way of epilogue: we cuddled her back to comfort, and she’s ok now.)


Ah, well. We’re told play wheels are enormously popular in the hedgehog community, so we think she’ll grow to like it (just like her baths, come to think of it).

Otherwise, she’s growing fast and has now legitimately doubled in size. Her life motto is still SNIFF ALL THE THINGS!, which makes it a little difficult to take pictures of her because her nose is always blurry from twitching around so fast.

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We love our baby April, and it’s been a perfect third week with her. Even if she prefers hiding under her wheel to, you know, running in it.

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Art of the Week: Three Drawings

Happy Sunday, and welcome to the latest Art of the Week!

I started the week off with a bohemian-looking girl, drawn on the back of a business envelope from a paycheck my boss had just given me:

Next up was a quick sketch of a ponytail from the back, also on the back of an envelope:

And finally a couple days later, on a nice normal notepad, one more portrait of a girl:

Still working back up to a drawing per day, but this week’s three was at least an improvement over last week’s one. I’m investigating new techniques with character drawing and portraiture, so I hope you’ll stop by again next Sunday for another week’s worth of drawings!

(If you’d like to catch the beginning of this series, check it out here.)

Have a great week everyone. xx

Six delirious, middle-of-the-night thoughts on Jurassic World

It’s 3:08am. I have a terrible habit of swearing I’ll do better about getting to bed at a decent hour, then watching an exciting movie late at night, then not being able to sleep until I word-vomit my ideas about the movie all over a blog post.

Claire-Jurassic-World

And, well, that happened tonight with Jurassic World. So without further ado, here are some thoughts. Bullet pointed, because I think my sanity is wavering, I’m so tired:

1. The Mockingjay preview caught my attention enough to stop me from eating my popcorn while I watched it. And as a passionate lover of hot buttery popcorn, that’s a big deal, ya know?

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2. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance, but it was refreshing for the youthful relationship focus of the movie to be on the brother bond between Gray and Zach instead of yet another angsty adolescent love affair. Just a nice little break.

3. My fiancé pointed out that, although he loved the movie, the plot points were extremely predictable. I was too busy being terrified and entertained during the film to notice or care, but when he talked about it afterward I did understand what he was saying. Still don’t care though. The thrills were a bit formulaic, but they were very well crafted in my opinion, and they certainly worked. (Can you tell I loved this movie?)

4. Speaking of the writing of the movie, there were a few moments the dialogue sagged a bit. Excellent acting mostly saved it, and the wonderful production quality of rest of the movie satisfied me, but there was just something missing about some of the scripting. It lacked the awe-inspiring “life will find a way” quality that Jurassic Park had.

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5. And speaking of acting—just have to mention Chris Pratt. True versatility is so hard to accomplish, and so valuable. I would never have suspected Pratt would be the hero of a new Jurassic movie—let alone such a tough, cool, slightly-snarky hero—based on his hilariously clueless work in Parks and Recreation. I respect that. His dedication and his ability to adapt to such different roles are just so great.

jurassic world zach gray

6. Finally, the film did kinda sorta good-ish on Claire’s look changing from super-polished in the beginning, to holy-crap-I-just-escaped-dinosaurs-and-am-therefore-super-dirty-now in the end. (Far better, in fact, then several other film franchises I can think of. Star Wars and Transformers come to mind quickest.) However. WHAT is the deal with women in action movies wearing heels the whole time? I don’t care what terrain it is. I guarantee it’s going to be more comfortable (and survivable) running over it barefoot after hours and hours, than running over it in heels. I don’t care if it’s live coals. Listen, I’m a woman. I HAVE run in heels. Dear action movie directors: stahp. Women don’t escape (1) dinosaurs, (2) aliens, (3) serial killers, (4) psychopaths, or (5) ANYTHING ELSE running in heels. Here’s what we do: we follow our natural survival instincts, just like every human being would, and we take off the heels. It’s 2015. I’d love to see a woman in one of these fun action movies realize her heels are no longer appropriate and t a k e  t h e m  o f f. Go barefoot if you have to, for heaven’s sake.

I apologize for all the internet shouting. It’s late and I’m slightly exasperated with this issue. You do understand. (If you’re interested, you can read more on this subject in a similar middle-of-the-night post I did on the latest Transformers movie here: Why Lip Color Matters and What It Has to Do with Fighting Aliens.) Also I do realize that there are gritty action movies that do feature more realistically clad women. But they’re relatively few and far between and that’s kind of annoying.

All right, that’s it, I’m done. It’s almost four in the morning and I should not be blogging right now.

Anyway, the bottom line of this post is…when can I get back to the theater to see Jurassic World again?

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Throwback Thursday: Scar

So last week we began a sorta throwback series that’s going to feature a Disney villain drawing each week, from a recent series I did on Instagram. (Find the intro post and the backstory of the series here.)

Today’s villain is none other than Scar, that dastardly murderer of Mufasa and fraternizer with evil hyenas:

Now, there are some freaky (and freaky-looking) villains out there, but Scar may be the most actually despicable Disney villain of all time. The guy willingly murders his brother and tries to murder his nephew. Um, yikes.

On Instagram, some friends and I had a conversation about about whether or not there were another villain darker and/or more evil than Scar. And the general consensus seemed to be that Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is super creepy and might just tie with Scar on level of dark evil-ness, but not a single Disney villain actually beats Scar at the evil game. Like Scar legitimately is at the very limit of Disney darkness.

What do you think? Is there another Disney villain out there whose deeds were more horrific than Scar’s?