On the Visual Design of Birnin Zana, Wakanda’s Capitol

Design & Designers, Geek out!, Movies & TV

All the “best of 2018” movie lists I’ve seen remind of how much I loved Black Panther. So, I’m stealing an early start to the Martin Luther King Day weekend and reading about the design of Wakanda’s capitol city.

It’s called Birnin Zana and nicknamed the Golden City, although neither name appears in the movie. The Birnin Zana we see on the screen is the creation of the movie’s production designer, Hannah Beachler.

In a CityLab interview with Nicole Flatow, Beachler recounts her starting point:

“You know what’s keeping us together: the connectivity of people, not the connectivity of users. We’re not users; we’re people, but we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re users,” she said. “So I took all of that, and I just chucked it out of Wakanda, because the people were the most important thing about it, and we’re forgetting it. And I think that’s why people responded to Wakanda on this massive level: people.”

CityLab Marvel Studios Wakandan Street View

Marvel Studios; via CityLab.

The first impression of Birnin Zana is of course the skyscrapers, but if you look closely, there is water and ample greenery, too. The skyscrapers don’t seem to block the light too badly either.

Wired Marvel Studios City from Above

Marvel Studios; via Wired.

And if you really look, you can see greenery both in and on the buildings.

fxguide Marvel Studios Royal Landing Pad

Marvel Studios; via fxguide.

Vanity Fair Marvel Studios City Concept

Marvel Studios; via Vanity Fair.

Ahh! Nice.

Many of the building shapes hark back to traditional African aesthetics; also the surface detailing is rich and striking. In an interview with Collider, Beachler talks about the influences for her work:

“I started poking around and looking at really modern architects who have designed in Africa, all over Africa, east and west Africa. And someone who I really fell in love with was Zaha Hadid, who has passed away, but she is one of the foremost architects. So I started looking at her. Her architecture is very voluptuous and very flowing, very organic. So I thought this would be good. And the more I started digging into Senegal and Nigeria and finding things, while not necessarily futuristic-looking, very modern in their sensibilities as far as the way they’re putting together their elements and the colors that they use. I was struck by that. So I took a lot of that in. And a lot of it does come from Nigeria. I think in Kenya, Uganda, Johannesburg was another one, where no matter where you go, you really do see that they’re always keeping in mind the tradition.”

Los Angeles Times Marvel Studios City Concept Low-Built Area

Film Frame / Marvel Studios; via Los Angeles Times.

Collider Marvel Studios Wakanda City Concept

Marvel Studios; via Collider.

Beachler also created a 500-page “Wakanda Bible” for the actors to study, including the history of Golden City and names for all the buildings. The records hall held special meaning for her:

“Because [Wakanda residents] know everything about their past”—a privilege that real-world African Americans don’t have—“and [that] will never go away again in this city.

“I felt that way because I never knew my history. I didn’t know my ancestry, I didn’t know how far back it went …That was truly the most important thing to me. I don’t have that, but I could give it here in this fantastical world.”

I wish we got to see it, but I don’t think we do. (If you’ve spotted the records hall, let me know!)

Anyway; gorgeous through and through, isn’t it?

Now, I’m a city girl and have been almost my entire life. However, my concept of a city is different: all urban areas back home are typically so roomily built I’ve heard that if we were to follow some particular EU directive the whole country of Finland wouldn’t have a single city. (No idea whether that’s true, though.) Add my introversion to the difference in our respective urban population densities, and I suspect I would need a lot of alonetime were it possible for me to visit the Golden City.

Other than that, I LOVE everything we see: Color! Fantastic public transit (maglev trains, streetcars), but with people and their needs (and not cars) clearly at the focus. Traditional crafts and art that live very comfortably next to high-tech. Street vendors of almost every stripe – especially the food vendors make my mouth water every time I see them.

I do wish we could have a real-world Wakanda, for many reasons, the fabulous design being just one.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Emma Thompson Becomes a Dame Wearing Sneakers

Inspiration, Thumbs Up

This newspiece is from June, but I just found out: Emma Thompson was made a dame in Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to drama.

I know her mostly through her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, but I’ve seen her work elsewhere, too, and admire it.

The best thing about the news, though, is that she appeared at the ceremony in sneakers!

The News Herald Jonathan Brady Emma Thompson Dame Ceremony

Jonathan Brady / Press Association via Associated Press.

Women wearing sensible shoes get so much undeserved scorn. It’s utterly ridiculous – why on earth would anyone spend time picking on women’s choice of footwear is beyond me. (Yes, I do know why: patriarchy.)

It’s lovely to see a successful woman not giving a darn and wearing what she pleases!

Found via Yashar Ali on Twitter.

How Do You Like Your Coffee Chart a la Pride and Prejudice

Bits in Spaaace!, Books & Mags

Since I seem to be in a Jane Austen mood this month, here’s an older but still brilliant “How do you like your coffee” chart:

JA Is My Spirit Animal How Do You Like Your Coffee

By Jane Austen Is My Spirit Animal on Facebook.

“I prefer tea” for me. Obviously. 🙂

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Cute Attack: Sandbathing Bunny

After Hours, My Spaces

The other day I was looking for something completely different in my Flickr albums, when I ran across this image from last year:

Bunny Sandbathing

It still makes me smile: I just happened to look out the window at a good time to see a wild rabbit taking a sandbath in a shallow depression. The depressions were dug into our yard by a turtle, we think; we see them digging test holes some years. Other years they must be laying eggs somewhere else.

I guess the sand felt cooler to the rabbit than the grass? What an incredible coincidence nonetheless; I’ve never seen a wild bunny do that. It must’ve felt comfortable to have stretched out its back leg(s) like that. Cute attack! 🙂

Finnish Folk Hop Ensemble Tuuletar Lends Wings to Game of Thrones Ad

Arts & Crafts, Movies & TV, Thumbs Up

Alku (‘Beginning’), a piece by the Finnish vocal folk hop ensemble Tuuletar, appears in a Game of Thrones commercial. The band’s website says,

“’Alku’, the opening track from Tuuletar’s debut album “tules maas vedes taivaal” has been sold for the use of one of the most popular tv-series in the whole world, HBO’s Game of Thrones. The song will be heard in the season 7 DVD and Blue-Ray [sic] commercial, which will be broadcasted worldwide. The deal was made together with Finnish record label Bafe’s Factory and ThinkSync Music from London.”

The ThinkSync news page on the sale links to a German-language DVD / Blu-Ray trailer for GoT season 7 on YouTube with Alku in the background:

GAME OF THRONES Staffel 7 – Trailer #2 Deutsch HD German (2017) by Warner Bros. DE

Tuuletar mashes up a cappella, beatboxing and Finnish folk music and poetry into a unique combination. Their debut album, Tules maas vedes taivaal (‘On Fire and Earth, in Water and Sky‘), won the prestigious Emma Award (the Finnish version of a Grammy) for the best ethno album of the year in 2016.

Tuuletar IMG_0510-1024x683

Tuuletar.

Vocalists Venla Ilona Blom, Sini Koskelainen, Johanna Kyykoski and Piia Säilynoja make up Tuuletar. More videos at YouTube or Tuuletar website.

Congrats, Tuuletar! I first blogged about the band two years ago just before they released their debut record, and am absolutely delighted to see them doing so well. And Alku is so amazing it gives me chills – always a sign of greatness!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: INFJoe Cartoons

Books & Mags, Thumbs Up

Artist and introvert Aaron Caycedo-Kimura set up a creative persona for his insightful comics. As INFJoe, he shares the joys and frustrations about being an introvert.

I first ran into the comics through his book Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life.

Illustrated Introverted Text Dont Call

The book cover describes it like this:

“Introversion is no longer taboo, but there are still many misconceptions out there. People think we’re just shy or anti-social. That we don’t want to have close relationships, that we’re all cat people, or that we don’t like big parties. (Okay, the last one may be true.)”

And, boy, do INFJoe Cartoons deliver! As an introvert married to another introvert, I find so much to relate in the comics. Below are some of my favorites.

Introvert Togetherness:

INFJoe Introvert Togetherness

“I LOVE being alone. Together.”

#Introvert Inclusion:

INFJoe Introvert Inclusion

“Sometimes we want to be left alone. Sometimes we want to be included. Most of the time we want to be included with the option to be left alone.”

I’m Busy Working Here:

INFJoe Im Busy Working Here

“Staring off into space I’m bored. Talk to me.”

“Staring off into space = I’m busy working here.”

Love ’em! Especially the one about being alone together. There’s so much comfort in knowing at gut level that your partner knows exactly what it’s like to be an introvert, too.

Read more INFJoe comics or shop the INFJoeCartoons store.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Etsy Shop on Break: Off to Worldcon 75!

Ahem Ahem!, Geek out!

Since contributing to the Helsinki in 2017 campaign to get Worldcon to Finland, I haven’t spoken much about Worldcon 75 here; my W75 Kermit-flailing has taken place at my hobby blog.

Well, the time has come. We’re about to set off to Helsinki!

My August 2017 Desk Calendar W75

The Playfully Grownup Home Etsy shop is in vacation mode. I will make it available again on Monday, August 21, 2017.

I’m very, very excited! Not only do I get to visit friends and relations, I get to hang out with my geeky friends and hopefully make new ones.

In the meanwhile, hope to see you in Helsinki – but if not, I hope you enjoy your August!

Native American Style Mainstream Genre Icons

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Jeffrey Veregge, an artist and member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state, makes positively fantastic versions of mainstream genre icons like superheroes, movie characters, Transformers, aliens, and the like.

Jeffrey Veregge Early Bird

Early Bird by Jeffrey Veregge.

Veregge himself says of his work:

“This site, the work that is seen on it is a reflection of a lifetime love affair with comic books, toys, TV and film. Taking my passions and blending them with my Native perspective, artistic background and the desire to simply be me. Basically I am just trying to have fun and get back to that kid that went to art school to begin with, wanting to create artwork that I want to see and make just for the hell of it.”

Jeffrey Veregge Shield Logo

Shield by Jeffrey Veregge.

Several of his designs would make fantastic fabric prints, like this Flash-inspired one, for example:

Jeffrey Veregge Scarlet Blurr

Scarlet Blurr by Jeffrey Veregge.

If there was a fabric Flash version, I’d use it for pencil cases, zipper travel pouches, or a table cloth. Or maybe tall, tall shades with a wide border on the bottom; that would look really striking.

Visit Veregge’s home page for more!

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Taxes: Done!

Behind the Scenes

I’m done with both my business property and income taxes. And there was much rejoicing.

Akire Bubar bestfilingpractices

Best filing practices by Akire Bubar.

Seriously though, I’m really proud of having gotten my property taxes done almost a month before the deadline, and income taxes a month and a half. It’s been a lot of work, but the peace of mind is worth every moment.

The brilliant illustration is by Akire Bubar.

Discoveries: Tuuletar Folk Hop Ensemble

Arts & Crafts, Thumbs Up

The Finnish folk hop ensemble Tuuletar has almost entirely taken over my playlist this month! They mash up a cappella, beatboxing and Finnish folk music and poetry into a unique combination. Some of the elements they incorporate even sound like yoik to me.

Tuuletar Promokuva1_WEB

Tuuletar

At first I was baffled, not really being a fan of beatboxing, but the songs tend sneak up on you and before you notice, they stick around. Some of my new favorites are linked below.

In 2014, they made a go to be the Finnish representative in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Ruhtinaan tyttäret, made in collaboration with the Swedish producer Fredrik Arvidsson:

Ruhtinaan tyttäret (AUDIO) – Tuuletar feat. Fredrik Arvidsson via Tuuletar Vocalensemble

A 2014 live performance with audience participation at restaurant Kahvilla in Tampere, Finland:

Tuuletar – Tuu-kerää – LIVE Ravintola Kahvilla (25/7/2014) via Sini Koskelainen

Another live performance from the same year, this one at Klubb Ankaret in Göteborg, Sweden:

Pohjan Neito – Tuuletar – LIVE at Klubb Ankaret (22/10/2014) via Tuuletar Vocalensemble

Such innovative work – and you can tell they’re having fun themselves. 🙂 Tuuletar is about to release their first full album, expected in May 2016. I definitely need to remember this group!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.