60 Brick by Brick: Portrait 2.0

I didn’t have any idea about this week’s #60BrickbyBrick until I was bumming around Target a few days ago and found an old LEGO polybag containing a minifigure I hadn’t previously been able to acquire. Then, with my new street baseplates, I saw a picture in my head. My mood lately has been a little dark and solemn, so I wanted to capture that as well. What follows I call “Melancholia“.

Melancholia - 1

The figure I acquired is the one you see. He comes with a “hoody” piece, which is new for LEGO and currently only exists on two figures, this one, and another very similar to it. Hopefully we will see more with different colors and hair styles. But for now, it works. Anyway, it took me a while to figure out how to do a background until I noticed that the streets themselves could be my background, albeit, shot with a high enough angle. From there it was just a matter of lighting and focus and voilà! In the editing bay I stripped away all color and lightened up the figure’s face and the street sign a bit as they turned about a little too dark. In all, a very simple picture, but one that was actually a little difficult to get right.

I did a second version, which was just a little clever editing with a transparent gif to simulate rain in case the first version wasn’t sad and goth enough. So I give you “Melancholia with Rain“…

Melancholia - 2

Bad rain effects aside, which do you prefer? If I had the set up, i.e., a real workspace in which I could do anything, I would do actual water for rain, but that remains outside my purview at the moment. Anyway, I like this as it turned out.

With that, another week of #60BrickByBrick is finished! (To read what I’m on about and to see previous pictures, look under the “LEGO” heading at the top of the page.)

The Power of a Like

I exist on a variety of social media platforms, (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, I think I even have an unused Tumblr sitting around somewhere) and sometimes I post things and sometimes I get likes on them.

For instance, I recently posted this on Instagram, a picture of blue cake with yellow icing. I got a few likes, one from a cousin I haven’t seen since I was 7 or something, one from a friend I haven’t seen in a few years, one from an aunt I haven’t seen in a few years, one from a friend I haven’t seen since college, and one from a person I have never met.

But the in the instance of each like, I felt connected to each person, if only for the briefest of seconds.

My cousin just recently got married, in a very bohemian wedding, in a way that I have come to know is totally her. My friend loves Harry Potter and is a total NERD. My aunt is one of the best people I have ever known. She recently was at a beach. My college friend is a professional photographer, and I love seeing her work, mostly of weddings and other portrait sessions, but also of her dog in the snow and the early morning sun cracking over the Adirondack mountains. One person apparently likes blue cake with yellow icing and posting pictures of LEGO.

I’ve heard all the arguments about how people are glued to their phones and how they don’t interact anymore, and how the world is losing something in its increasing digitalization. But each time my phone notified me of a like on my silly Instagram picture of  blue cake with yellow icing I felt more connected in that instant than I had before.

Sure, two of the five people I’ve known since I was born. The others a few years. One I’ve never met. But I follow each on Instagram and thus see the slivers of their lives that they share through little square pictures.

Maybe that is the sad realization of the times, but look at who I was connected to: two friends, a cousin, an aunt, and a person I know only by screen name. The cousin lives in California, the friend and aunt in Virginia, the college friend in New York, and I haven’t the foggiest notion where the other person lives. And I, in frigid Wisconsin, was connected to them all in an instant. At that exact moment in time, I knew that each was doing what I was doing: looking at my picture on Instagram.

Their likes said that they saw a piece of blue cake with yellow icing and it made their moment. They “liked” it. In that moment, it compelled them to tell me that, only that, simply that, merely that. None of them felt the need to leave a comment or communicate further, and that is ok. This isn’t about comments or actual communication, this is about sideways communication, the power of a like.

A like is a very simple way of saying: “You put this in the world, where it didn’t exist before, and I like that”.

I like that, too. I also liked my blue cake with yellow frosting. It was delicious.

(By the way, if you are interested in following me, you can find me on most social media platforms as PhilRedbeard.)