A Certain Lack of Focus

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Blog

Update: New blog: A Certain Lack of Focus is up and running! See above for most recent updates.

Ok, you may have noticed over the last few weeks that my blog has been moving around a lot. The problem is that I've recently decided that, as much as I enjoy the ease of use in blogger, I want a bit more freedom when it comes to design. I temporarily moved hosting over to my website, but if anything this puts more restrictions on design, so I finally decided that it's time to move to blogging software. I'm still fiddling around with what kind, because at this point, I really know nothing about it.

The challenge has been trying to figure out how to use new software without losing the content of this blog, and I'm still not entirely sure whether it's possible. At this point, I think it's not worth it, and so instead, I'm putting Living in Space on permanent hiatus.

I'll be starting up my new blog at www.hadesarrow/blog just as soon as I can figure out how to work the software. I'll keep you posted once it's officially "launched" but to be sure you catch me, please change your bookmarks to www.hadesarrow/blog. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honeymoon Sketch Journal Page 8

Sorry I missed posting yesterday... it was after eleven when I got home and getting showered seemed more important at the time. This page was fun to draw, though I had a hard time initially getting the arms rendered, because the train was jumping all over the place.journal"Even after it started to fade, I kept getting comments on the henna. For some reason, I kept forgetting that I had henna, and it often took me a couple seconds to figure out what people were talking about. Interestingly, once we crossed an invisible line into the Northwest, the comments changed from 'is it permanent?' to, 'Nice henna! Did you just get married?'"

The henna is completely gone from my hands and arms now, but there are still remnants on my ankles, which is pretty impressive.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Honeymoon Sketch Journal Page 7

This page was one of my favorites to draw because of all the weird little details necessary to show the space on a train room. My first grade teacher would be proud.journal"The first night on the train we stopped for no apparent reason in the middle of nowhere. For about an hour. I had a bit of Harry Potter PTSD. I was sure dementors were boarding the train."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Honeymoon Sketch Journal Page 6

Illustration Friday folks, "Wise" is the next post, further down. This drawing kind of makes Matt look like an old man, but I'm happy with the line work at least. He moved half way though so I had to guess in a few parts and ended up just giving up on his hand.journal"We did a lot of reading on the trip. We also brought some travel board games but didn't play them. Sometimes it's hard to tell if Matt is reading or sleeping."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Illustration Friday: Wise

This is the first time I've participated in Illustration Friday in AGES. This week's topic is Wise.
masterWhen I saw the topic I immediately thought of the faeries from my novel. This is a sketch of a character called "the Master," who resembles the devil, which is not an accident. Really though, the character is more bitter and desperate than truly evil. In spite of everything, I've gotten to quite like him as I've written the novel, or at least feel sorry for him.

Honeymoon Sketch Journal Page 5

This one's a little sappy, but it's sincere.
journal"I was warned that much of America is a whole lot of corn, wheat, grass, dirt, empty fields, grazing fields, scrubby plants or flat barren rock. Montana is boring. Kansas is horrifically boring. Nebraska, Iowa, Idaho, Utah, it's amazing how many states are supposedly empty. There are many, many flat patches, but it seems like they go by quickly. And even these 'empty' areas- miles of harvest lines or just broken fie4lds, had a beauty of their own. The wheat, on a clear day, really does look just like gold."

Traveling by train is the way to see the country. When you drive you're distracted by being stuck in this little car, and when you fly all you can see is pastel squares, but when you take the train... you have the freedom to relax and just look.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Journal Page 4

Here's the next page. The oval shaped thing in the upper left corner is supposed to be a pair of chocolates on a doily. Ah well.journalThis one says: "Apparently, getting married is the best way to get lots of free champagne, wine, and best of all, chocolate."

So true. Matt and I decided that we would be on our "honeymoon" for another year or so, just for all the free stuff.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Journal Page 3

Here's page 3. For blogging this is probably a better way to orient the page, but not so much for journaling. You can click on the page for a bigger image.journal"On the wedding day, Matt and I didn't really have much time to enjoy our wedding cake. This cake was actually pretty tasty: yellow/choc. marble, Irish cream filling and normal buttercream icing. So we brought it with us. The first two nights on the train we retreated to our roomette-sleeper and had wedding cake with leftover sparkling grape juice. The warm grape juice was every bit as romantic/elegant as champagne."

I had some fun drawing the underside of Matt's seat, though I should mention that I'm sure the real underside looks nothing like that. The cake came from Create a Cake in Lakewood, and it was really yummy (and pretty) so I'm glad we got to take some with us. The charm of the cake started to fade by the forth day, but I finished it up on my own because throwing it away seemed like bad luck. It didn't make me sick, so I guess buttercream doesn't go bad, either that or I just got lucky.


mapSo Cool.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote Tattoo

Ok, well, I'm not gunna get a tattoo, because I'm not a tattoo person, but it occurred to me that as commemorative tattoos go, today's election seems like a pretty good reason to get one. So even though I'm not going to get one, I went ahead and designed one:

tattooOne of the big objections people have to tattoos is, "what will you tell your kids?" It seems to me that this is exactly the kind of tattoo you would want to tell your kids all about. Dad, if you're reading, NO, I promise I'm not getting a tattoo.

Obviously the design is pretty simple, I ripped off the Obama logo, but I think it's pretty effective. Feel free to download it and give it to your tattoo artist or pass it on. Let me know if anyone actually uses this, or some other tattoo to celebrate the occasion. :)

Sketch Journal Page 2

I think I was trying to be a bit too clever with this one, but it was fun to draw. For our honeymoon we took a train from Cleveland to Chicago, and after a few hours went on to the Empire Builder, all the way to Seattle. We had just enough time in Chicago to get sandwiches from a chain called Potbelly (YUM) and a cheese/caramel corn mix from Garrett's, which just barely lasted us through the train ride. I think I gained 3 pounds on caramel corn alone.journalI wrote this journal page during a free minute in Seattle, but most of the journal was done on the train, since that's when we had the most spare time. This one reads:

"The bed in Seattle is roughly three times the size of the sleeper car on the train. Sleeping on a train has some ups and downs (but more importantly: side to sides.) It's more cozy than cramped, but when the train gets moving super fast at night, the bad spots on the track make the car lurch all over the place, and you kind of think the whole thing is going to tip over at 100 miles per hour. On better patches though, the motion is soothing, and once you get used to it, the train rocks you to sleep. At least until the next rough patch."

One major down side of a honeymoon spend half on a train is that, of course, the beds are bunked. It's more narrow than a normal twin sized bed, so squeezing in together was kind of out of the question, but it was only for short times, so not a huge deal. I loved the feel of the train moving at night, and I even liked feeling so enclosed from all sides. Though, being somewhat claustrophobic, I would have gone nuts without the window right next to me. Matt was kind enough to take the upper bunk, and I suspect the motion in rougher areas was even more frightening up there, but fortunately, he managed not to be thrown out of bed!

My Hope Vote

At 11:00 am, I cast my vote for change.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Don't Forget To VOTE

I don't wanna, you know, push anyone in one direction or the other (snort) but really? Is anyone actually still planning to vote for this guy? Really?mccainPhoto from yahoo. Thanks to Sundry for finding it.

Honeymoon Journal

Well, Matt and I are back in town. The honeymoon was awesome, and I'm still feeling a little lazy from the trip, so rather than go over it all at once I'm going to post a page at a time from the journal I started keeping over the honeymoon. I'll talk about the trip in detail as I go.

I've been wanting to start a journal for a while, the cool visual kind like you see at Pen in Hand or Lost in Wonder, but haven't exactly managed to get motivated. With lots of down time, the honeymoon was a good time to start.

Here's the first page, which has nothing to do with the honeymoon, but I felt I needed a into page that matched the happy goofy feeling I had immediately after the wedding (ok, I still have some of the happy goofy feeling actually). My handwriting isn't as good as most of the sketch journals I follow online, so I'll be translating.pageI think I got better as I went along, but I guess we'll see. This page says:

"I'm Married
I'm actually far shorter than this. Matt is 6'4 and I'm 5'2 so the top hat really only added insult to injury. That's ok though, I had henna and a ribbon wrapped around my dress and a bouquet made of metal that even lit up, so it really didn't matter how short I am. I should carry around light up flowers all the time. Also, we got married in the zoo. Best wedding ever."

Technically the journal page says "boquette" not bouquet, but since I now have spell check, I'm going to correct myself as I go. I should have wedding photos up here at some point (assuming I can convince Matt to let me show his face online) and I'll be posting honeymoon photos along the way. Hopefully they won't be too boring. :)

Oh yeah, I decided not to change my last name because I'm rather attached to it, but I did want to take Matt's name somehow. So written up the side, the page also says:


Monday, October 20, 2008

See You Soon

treeAnd this is one of the big reasons I haven't been blogging much lately... I am now married! Check back in a couple weeks for photos from the wedding and honeymoon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Political Rage

I just heard on NPR that Senator McCain has requested the Presidential debates be postponed on account of the economy. He has also requested, on account of a stomach ache, that he be excused from gym.

Senator McCain, if you are elected in November, will you also postpone the Presidency in times of economic crisis? These debates are so essential exactly because of the current state of the economy. Participating in the Presidential debates in no way impacts the steps congress is taking (or not taking) in reaction to the bank failures. What exactly is McCain intending to do for the economy while he's avoiding talking about it in front of a national audience?

If Senator McCain is not ready to discuss the economy on Friday, I have no faith that he'll be ready to act in the economy's best interest in January.

The presidential debates, now more than ever, must go forward. What will be said on Friday is every bit as pressing as the futile congressional bickering over a doubtful buyout that will increase our federal debt by 700 billion dollars.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Real Living on a Diet

If you're following my blog at this point, you probably know me in person, and you probably know I've been on a diet for a while. One of the curses in any diet attempt is the pitfall of eating out. Especially while traveling. It seems like even when you think you're being good, you gain weight while traveling.

Probably that's because you aren't being as good as you think. Things that seem healthy might be loaded with calories and things that really are healthy might surprise you. One tip I've heard from Weight Watchers and other diet sources is to ask for a box at the beginning of the meal. I pretty much always do that when I eat out now, unless I'm sharing with someone. BTW, if you're sharing two dishes, even if one is a salad, it doesn't count as a half portion anymore.

SteakCutting your meal in half from the get-go can certainly help, but even half a meal can be upwards from 1000 calories depending on what you order. Don't assume it's healthy just because you're eating less of it. Yeah, and salads are OFTEN more than 1000 calories just by themselves.

A tip I got from South Beach is to swallow a spoonful of Metamucil (mmm fiber) five minutes before meals so you'll feel full. Personally, I find that idea repulsive, but hey, whatever works.

Snacks are a big help. and I usually take granola bars and fruit leathers (kinda like fruit rollups that are actually made of fruit) to keep us going during the day. On South Beach fruit leathers are completely out and granola bars are limited to the South Beach granola bars (which are GROSS) so I usually stick with nuts. Yes, I do count them out. 30 of the little ones like pistachios and peanuts, 12-15 of bigger ones like walnuts and cashews. Surprisingly, that's usually enough to make me happy. Snacks should help keep you from feeling like you need to inhale your dinner.

Here's one tip I came up with on my own: figure out what your ACTUAL caloric intake should be. The FDA, or whoever it is that makes recommendations, claims that average daily intake should be 2000 calories. This is total crap.

First of all, 2000 calories is probably a good average intake for a MAN from the 1960s. We're generally less active now so some guys might be around 2000 (and athletic guys will be above) but I'm betting most guys are a little bit below that. That, mind you, is to maintain weight. If you're actually trying to lose weight you should be eating less. And unfortunately it's not even CLOSE for women, we need far fewer calories in general to maintain weight. There are online calorie counters all over the place that can tell you about how many calories you need. It's good to get a ballpark of that before you start estimating how many calories you should spend for a meal.

The most helpful thing I've found for traveling on a diet is chain restaurants. I know it's completely counter intuitive, but bear with me. This also applies to eating out locally, though in that case you can usually afford to test your favorite places to see ones have you gaining weight and which do less damage. The trick is that many chain restaurants have their nutrition information online so even though the majority of their meals may be atrocious, you can pick over it ahead of time and fine those one or two items that are healthy. Deciding what you're going to eat ahead of time does take out some of the excitement, but it also cuts back on the temptation to get something REALLY bad, because hey, it's not like there's anything healthy on the menu, right?

Here are some menus I've found online: P.F. Chang's, Bob Evans, Ruby Tuesday, Denny's, Macaroni Grill, and Chilis. As far as I know Applebees, TGIFridays, and Outback don't provide nutritional information, so while they may have acceptable food on their menus, I'd just avoid them since you can't be sure. Olive Garden ONLY provides nutritional information on their "healthy" items, and that information is incomplete (it doesn't tell you calories or fat for low-carb items and doesn't tell you carbs for low fat items. SHADY) so I'd travel with care there, and make sure to limit your portion sizes. As for all the rest, many of them are in pdf format, which I'm pretty sure is a ploy to discourage people to get there, but never mind. It also means they're very easy to PRINT. And then tuck into your travel journal, so wherever you go, you have a few things you know you can eat. Be careful to notice that most meals sneakily don't include sides, so you have to add those in too. I usually aim for no more than 500 calories for my big meal, maybe 300 for a smaller meal. That is going to vary.

It's not perfect. When I'm traveling I don't even bother to worry about salt or carbs, I'm just looking at my net calorie intake. Planning ahead helps a lot though, it can keep you from throwing up your hands and giving up, and, if you actually follow your pre-picked meal, you might even lose a pound instead of gaining five.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wangston's Law

Earlier today I was listening to Weekend America on NPR. There was an interesting segment, a short amusement driven piece, about something called Wangston's Law.

Wangston's Law states that: Humans should not waste their time discussing any question that can be answered by a robot (google, wikipedia, etc.)

This "law" is actually invented by some guy (not named Wangston) who pulls it up at parties whenever he thinks the conversation is too mundane. I guess it's an interesting idea. His point, I think, is that we should focus our energy on higher pursuits and let the matrix handle the easy stuff.

matt with three computersThe way I see it, we should take the opposite approach. In these days where (relatively) accurate information is available, from anywhere, within seconds, it seems like a shame to not find out the answers whenever you can. If the thought: I wonder... ever enters your head, why aren't you typing it into a toolbar window? In a way, both ideas are promoting the same thing. Wangston's law wants us to work on a higher level mentally, and so do I. Only I think the best way to enrich our brains is to fill it with as much information as possible. We really have a ways to go before we run out of room.

Matt and I actually have a rule to that effect. Whenever one of us says "I wonder" we try to write down the question and look it up later. When I get an iphone the later part will go away (Matt's got a smartphone but often questions occur to us while he's driving). The extremely obvious theory behind the rule is that if we do this, we'll learn new things all the time. We don't follow it perfectly, but we've already learned many things we never would have known. For example:

Dolphins sleep with half their brain at a time.

Swallows mate in flight.

The movie Apollo 13 did all the null-gravity scenes the same way astronauts train for it: steep diving airplanes.

Will any of this information ever come in handy? Who knows. If it's so easy to find out though, why shouldn't I try to know more than I did yesterday? True, useless information is not particularly helpful, and in some cases it might actually be harmful. I see a big difference though, in filling up on unnecessary information for the sake of knowing it (as with rote memorization) and learning things because they interest you. Obviously the things Matt and I look up do interest us, or we wouldn't be asking the question. So I want to propose that the rule Matt and I (sometimes) follow should be another law, to counteract Wangston's Law.

Wanker's Law: Humans should take advantage of the ease of information provided by robots (google, wiki, etc.) whenever a question arises.

Why Wanker's Law? Because it all comes down to mental masturbation. Humans as a group won't follow either law. Individuals are generally not motivated to learn. We love to discuss over-discussed topics like who won American Idol, because it's easier than contemplating the mysteries of life. Meanwhile we're far to lazy, intellectually, to type every question into google. It's not that pushing the buttons is too much work, it's just that we aren't used to exerting the effort of keeping a question in our mind long enough to look for the answer.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Micro Memory

baby miceAt Aunt Sharron's, the summer I turned five, my cousins found some baby mice. I thought at first they were toy plastic pigs, because mice are born without hair. We showed Aunt Sharron, we thought they were sweet and I hoped to keep them for pets. Instead, she threw all the babies- far younger than me- over the fence like the garden snails. I knew without asking that this was not to send them along to live somewhere else, but to splatter their little pink bodies on the hot sidewalk.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Dear Jim-

I think you've been hanging on these last couple years more because you knew so many people loved you than because you really wanted to. That'd be like you. I don't know how many times my parents called me and said, "Jim's not doing so well, they don't think he's going to make it through the night." And every time, you surprised them, you pulled through with a polite, "no not right now, thanks." Even this time, you held out a good week longer than anyone thought you would. Still I wish I could have seen you once more.

jimYou've been more like a grandfather to me than a great-uncle. I remember when you came to my class for grandparents day in fifth grade. I surprised mom by asking if she thought you would, and she surprised me by saying she though you'd be thrilled that I asked. I don't know if you were, but I think she was right, and it made me feel bigger, better somehow to realize you'd be happy to be considered my grandparent. You told me and my friends stories about your time in World War II that I don't remember anymore. Grandma and Bud were there too, but you were the only one who ever talked about it.

Before Grandma moved to Oregon, whenever she came to town during Thanksgiving, we'd all go over to your place to be with you and Flo and Mona. That felt more like real family time than any other holiday I'd experienced, and the next year, when Grandma stayed in Philadelphia, I told mom I wanted to go to your house again. She explained that it was rude to invite ourselves, but I told her I didn't care, and I bugged her until she did.

As you approached 90, as I realized you were the last person living in my grandparents generation. I wanted to ask you about our family, wanted to hear all your stories, or at least some of them, and this time write them down. I wanted to give you another hug. I wanted to tell you that I can't help but love my fiance's father because he reminds me so much of you. More than the things I wish I'd said though, I regret that I'll never get to talk to you again. To hear your sharp quiet sense of humor.
jimJim, I've never been able to guess what comes next, but wherever you are, I hope you're not in pain, I hope you can rest or not as you please. I hope there's still a you somewhere, because you were such a wonderful "you." I love you Jim, and I'll miss you.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Puddle Phone Photo

I wanted to share this photo just because I think it looks sort of poetic. Not that I know anything about poetry. This is from Crocker Park, a development that had the potential to be cool but is just kinda lame and trendy instead. You can click on this one for a larger view.puddle reflection

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hillary Clinton

In the last few days, many of the media mouths, even on my favorite news source, have been criticizing Hillary Clinton. It's not even really criticism so much as it is a fatherly shaking of the head, a "we expect better" sort of voice. And really that's so much worse. If they ever wanted to prove that there was a bias of sexism, they've succeeded.

hillaryclintonI've been a stanch Obama supporter since the primaries kicked off, but I've always liked Clinton, both varieties. I don't think either of them (the Clintons that is) have exactly shown their best faces in this election, but I also don't think that Hillary's not-exactly concession speech is as big a deal as the media is making of it. To me, this is another reminder that behind Hillary's carefully polished face is a human being.

Because Hillary isn't being petty, at least that's not how I read it. Hillary is CRUSHED. How long has this been in her sights? Since Bill was elected? Earlier? I think everyone knew it was on the horizon when she ran for Senator, if not before. People joked about her being the real president when Bill was in office, so I'm sure it was on her mind. And at the beginning this election, Hillary was far from the only person who thought the nomination was hers for the plucking. Defeat hurts. I have to question how much any person who has not learned that, has actually tried.

pom-ponSo give her the measly four days she's taken to cling to "not making any decisions." The decision has been made for her, probably was weeks ago. Let her nurse her ego, and step down with dignity. Once she's had her time, Hillary will do her duty with all the enthusiasm of a cheerleader on Ecstasy.

Hillary Clinton on ETo Hillary Clinton, (because obviously she reads my blog) I'd like to say thank you. We've been pretending that this isn't about race or sex except in a mildly amusing anecdotal way, but this election was always in some part about each of those things. I know it hurts to lose, but you've done more than any woman in history to make IT possible. In spite of whatever sexism you may have faced, you did NOT lose because you are a woman, you lost because you underestimated your opponent. And on the day you chose not to concede the race, today when everyone is wondering what you're thinking, this Saturday, when you throw your support behind Obama as you have to do: there is not a single person who can now believe that a woman cannot be president.

Hillary, it won't be you, but it will be because of you. It won't be me, because I don't want it, but I know I'll see it in my lifetime. You may see it in your lifetime. Maybe I'll vote for Chelsey Clinton. Because of you. I don't know what you'll do next. If Obama can defeat McCain, I believe this country CAN change, finally, in much needed ways. You will be a part of that. Maybe you can even step less carefully now that your presidential aspirations are spent. I don't know.

All I know is that while right now you are feeling the crushing pain of defeat, while right now I am cheering in my heart for Barack Obama, you have done something wonderful. I won't stop hoping for Obama, but I do hope that someday soon, you realize how very much you have done.

*images link to source

Sunday, June 01, 2008


My drawing today is the first peek at my new webcomic Not Quite Magic. I'm hoping to get this going in a few weeks, once I've (I hope) built up a few comics so I can be sure to always post on time. I'll be posting every Monday and Wednesday and every other Friday. This un-inked drawing will be one of the Friday drawings, which aren't necessarily related to the main story line (you'll see once I get started). It won't be the first strip in the series, but it fit this week's Illustration Friday topic: "baby" so I thought I'd go ahead and get started.

As usual, click for a slightly larger view. Any comments would be helpful.faeries

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I just reached page 200 in my novel! I think I'm finally getting close to being finished. Right now I'm working on the climactic scene, which is more because I'm skipping around than because I'm actually that near the end. I expect the finished book will be about 250, maybe a little longer. There are a few scenes I'm putting off writing, either because they're difficult for me (the beginning is giving me fits) or because they're such a big deal I'm still intimidated by them. As I close in on them it will get easier, at least that's how it's been working so far.

GaleWriting a novel is a new experience. I chose to do a novel for my MFA thesis because I was afraid that if I didn't write one now I'd never write one. This particular story has been forming in my head for about seven years. I was feeling depressed, chatting with my friend Adam and trying to explain the kind of isolation I was experiencing. Finally I told him, "it's like being a changeling," and from there the story exploded.

It's pretty much unrecognizable now from the comic book concept I came up with as an undergrad. Gale is the main character of this book, part 1 of 4, and she didn't even exist in the initial conception. When I did invent her, I intended her to be a "bad guy" a nemesis for my main character, but instead she's turned into a full and tragic character, in some ways even more engaging than my initial protagonist, Breeze. Breeze will take over in book two.

One of the most alarming things about novel writing is how unpredictable it is. I'm used to short stories, 14-17 pages long, where I usually know everything that happens before I write it. With this novel, Lost Child of Summer, I had a vague outline in my head, but while the start and finished stayed at roughly the same spot, the middle wiggled around like the body of a snake. I know it sounds cliche, but it's almost magic to see how the characters take on a life of their own and the story twists in unexpected ways. It makes me feel a little powerless to realize that I'm not actually in control of my own story. With about a fifth of the book to go, I'm still not entirely certain about what's going to happen in certain parts. How weird.

Anyway, getting closer. Wish me luck. Here are some sketches I did way back when I first came up with the story. They don't really fit any more. Click on the images for a large version.

Page 1: "In more superstitious times it was believed that a spirit might come and steal an unguarded child." "The child would be replaced with the spirit's own unnatural babe. Candels, bells and other charms were often used to protect against this." "But sometimes the charms failed..." "And a human baby was lost." "And sometimes..." "No one noticed."changelingPage 2: "Naptime age 1 1/2" "2nd birthday party" "Zoo visit age 3 1/2" "Family Camping Trip, age 5" "Basketball game 1st grade"changelingPage 3: "Sheesh Mom, don't you have any normal pictures of me when I was little?" "Well... those are normal. For you." "Right."changeling

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Presidential Style Ratings

I just had the best idea ever. Ok, technically NPR already came up with something similar but I wrote most of this post before I read the whole article so I'm posting it anyway.

Heard on the news just now that McCain is hosting several vice presidential candidates in his home this week. So it got me thinking. What are they going to do be doing? Will there perhaps be unpredictable tests of character, thrown at various candidates with out warning? An unspoken contest to see who can cook the best patriotic Memorial Day hot dogs? Whatever they do, I'm sure tensions will be running high.

And everyone knows that people in close proximity with lots of stress and competition between them makes for good TV watching! So I propose a new reality TV show for this election: Presidential Judgment. Every week will be a new challenge. For example:

1. Say my approval rating is dropping rapidly through the floor. You're asked to take one for the team, and come up with a scheme to distract the American Public. Do you: a. Misspell "potato(e)" at a third grade spelling bee, b. Give a speech about Global Warming and/or claim to have invented the internet, or c. Shoot your best friend in the face?

What better way to rejuvenate the waning interest in Election 08? Imagine the Thursday night excitement when Florida Governor Charlie Crist forgets the cameras are on, and slips a baggie of white powder beneath the pillow of Mitt Romney. Or when McCain finds out about the secret love brewing between Romney and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal!

Really this is all very silly, but it does raise an important question about the nature of American TV: Why the hell didn't we do this for the campaign trail for Presidential nominees? There's still time, at this point Hillary and Barack won't be done till August.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Freight Elevator Photos

A professor's retirement party yesterday evening was held at the Lit in an old building in downtown Cleveland. Matt and I got to ride in a freakin' sweet old freight elevator (operated by a cool looking middle aged hippie) to get to the party. Here are a couple photos:

This one is looking up from the second floor but it actually looks deeper (higher) because there was more light.freight elevatorThis is on the way back down from the first floor. You can't make as much out but I like the composition so I thought I'd share it anyway.freight elevatorI'm going to try to start up my "drawings of the day" again this week, we'll see how that goes. Maybe call it "drawings of the occasional" instead. Most will be new work but I'll keep throwing in some finished stuff from my portfolio and teen stuff from my old sketchbooks when it seems fitting (aka when I'm feeling too lazy to draw something new).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Muggle Musings (kinda sad, I know)

I was re-reading the Harry Potter series the other day, I think thats third time or so I've read the final book (I've read the others more obviously). Whenever you reread something you tend to notice things that you missed the first (and second) time around, and I'm certainly picking up on mistakes that I managed to miss in the first place.

That's not to say I didn't find lapses in logic in my first reading, but most of the big ones, the obvious ones, were explained away. Snape's character for example always seemed a bit flat to me; in spite of the fact that I never believed he was a "bad guy" he was a little too conveniently and consistently nasty. The more times I read it though, particularly the final book, the more whole a character he seems.

He's not perfect mind you, there are still huge gaps, and I still feel like there was some scrabbling going on in the final book to explain how he could possibly be a good guy. I can accept that he hates Harry on site, the fact that he looks so much like his father is explanation enough for that, but why is he such a jerk towards everyone else? Aside from rivalries, he actually seems to get along well with Minerva McGonagall and the other professors, which would seem unlikely if he were so obviously wretched to everyone not in his own house. I think he starts to redeem himself in book five, when he seems to be more pretending to be cruel, but there's a big gap between "I see no difference" comment when Hermione's teeth grew all over the place and his suggestion that Crabb (or was it Goyle?) not choke Neville to death in order to avoid tedious paperwork. I've gotta wonder if in book four Rowling was really sure what she was going to do with Snape, because it seems like he could have been just as mean in less obvious ways, without giving away his uncertain status in Harry's eyes.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Slate Jokes

The Slate did a feature where readers sent in their scenarios of possible ways Hillary could win the nomination. Some of them are pretty funny, but this was my favorite:

"Hillary appeals to the Supreme Court, which, based upon a 2000 ruling, decides that the candidate with fewer votes wins the election. —John Kirkbride"

Awesome. Go here to read the rest.

Long Last

I am OFFICIALLY done with ALL my classes. Ok, maybe not officially until the grade comes in, but I don't have to go to any more classes! I am exactly 1 credit short of my M.F.A. *happy dance* Which doesn't actually translate to the amount of work I've got left... about another third of a book, 50 plus pages. *slightly slower happy dance*

Friday, May 02, 2008


Things are winding down, I should be back to blogging in about a week. Until then, here's a link to the Vindicator website which I FINALLY got designed an online: www.csuohio.edu/vindicator

It's not exactly finished... the pictures are largely unlabeled not because I'm going for some ultra-cool minimalist look but because it was 5 am. The labels that do exist aren't haphazardly slapped on the photos because I have no design sense (I hope) but because it was... yes, 5 am.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quick Update

So if there's anyone out there actually still reading my blog you've probably noticed that there's not been anything to read lately. Please forgive me and come back in a couple weeks when I'm done with end of the semester and end of the Vindicator (for me) stuff. I'll be back. (not intended to be read in a Schwarzenegger voice, if you imagined a Schwarzenegger voice, stop it.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Just because

Because we all know how much I love stupid quizzes...
77% Geek


Bring it on.

(OK, but seriously, asparagus is not a color, I call bs.)


Or something.

291 WATTS Body Battery Calculator - Find Out How Much Electricity Your Body is Producing -

Don't tell the matrix.


JustSayHi - Science Quiz

Personally, I think this disproves the above geek percentage.

I might not have done ALOT better on this one... but this really was "how many countries can I SPELL."

2,157,120How Many Germs Live On Your Keyboard?

No really. I've been working on my thesis. All night.


Here's another teen drawing for your viewing enjoyment. In color no less! A real rarity in my work from then OR now.bubbleSo this one was actually drawn in crayon. I'm guessing I was about 16 because I think that's about when I was playing with color more (eventually I'll get around to scanning some of my less angst-y work that's in colored pencil). Click on the picture for a larger version.

Phone Pic 04-15-08

I realized I haven't posted a phone picture in a while so here's one I found amusing for, oh, so many reasons.rockThis is from YSU campus, where I'm taking a non-fiction class. For those who can't read the fine print the sign says: "Only The Rock May Be Painted. DO NOT Paint Adjacent Surfaces."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dark Star

Here's another teen drawing to chew on:starThe age on this one is pretty easy to guess because of the hair on the central figure. I was obsessed with spiky hair my senior year of high school (right up until after graduation when I got mine spiked and the style lost all charm) so my characters tended to have spiky hair. I would have been 17. By the way I would like to both BRAG because notice that my anatomy in this image is pretty damn good for someone without any real training and LAMENT because, honestly, it's not any better now.

Other updates: Blogger unlocked my art index blog (woohoo!) so I can start working on that again. I may or may not be able to get that up this week because I REALLY need to get the Vindicator website up by next week. I'll keep you posted on both. As for my thesis, which is sort of the main focus in my life at the moment, I hit the 175 page mark today! It feels like I'm moving slowly, but I do seem to be making progress.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Today's IF is "Fail." I was surprised at how few of my teenage drawings fit this tag since I was generally pretty negative. Going back a little ways: I believe I drew this one when I was fourteen. If you're coming here from IF you may want to check this post to get an idea of what I'm doing.
failThis is from a large (11X17) sketchbook (hence some of the darker areas... my scanner's not big enough) that shows a pretty wide span of skill... which either means I improved drastically in a short amount of time or, more likely, I abandoned it and found it later with a ton of blank pages. Here's a self portrait from just 3 pages later.selfsignatureIt's dated! Bonus! That's not quite a month after my fifteenth birthday which tells me that I'm probably pretty close on my guess of fourteen for the first one. Obviously the technique here is much better than the first one, so either there's a decent time gap or I just never got around to finishing the first one, which is equally possible.

*There's a larger version of the first image but not the self portrait.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Another drawing from the teen years. Not even going to venture a guess on age (I'm too lazy to go back and check which sketchbook it's in right now) but I know it was high school so 15-17.headacheI should mention at this point that because I was picking out drawings for a paper on depression, the drawings I'm showing you right now are really the darker more twisted ones. I've been trying to mix in some of the more "weird" with angry-sad-I-hate-my-life drawings, but they're still not exactly representing everything I was drawing between the ages of 15 and 19. I do have drawings from this age that are not as dark, a lot more fantasy and silly drawings, and I'll get to those eventually.

Just finished reading the webcomic book and Childhood's End. Review of the web comic definitely and Childhood's End possibly coming sometime next week.

No word yet on the Art Directory stuff from google/blogger... hoping I'll hear from them tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Very Bad Things

Ok, so at the time this one didn't strike me as particularly screwed up, but looking back I think this might be one of the more alarming things I drew as a teen.drawingYou can usually click my images to see a larger version... with this one it might really be worth it to see some of the detail. I'm not sure how old I was when I drew this, I think it goes with a storyline I was working on in highschool that I can't remember anymore... so somewhere between 15 and 18, which I could have guessed anyway.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Robot

Here's a picture I took on the way to Jackson last weekend (or so). I took the picture because the clouds looked so cool, it's kind of hard to see, but they looked solid, like pyramids.cloudsMy art listing blog has hit a slight hitch because google shut it down. Apparently they think I'm a robot. Fan-freakin-tastic. I don't feel too bad since apparently they also confused the coyote lady for a robot... I think there's something a little off with their algorithms. I'm not even planning to host it on the blogger site, and it's not even listed at the moment since I'm just playing with templates to get something like what I want. I hope they eventually conclude that I'm not a robot because I spent four freaking days getting the html the way I want it. Hey blogger... I'm not a ROBOT!


Ok well treehead actually but the pun was too good to resist. Another drawing from my teen years.flowersJust a head's up (ha) that I'll be a bit sporadic in my posting for a bit (shocking I'm sure). I've been inspired by this blog to make a directory of art blogs. I'm working on coding now and hope to have it up by the end of the week. (we'll see how that one goes...)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Trapped in Time

Another installment of my teen drawings. This one I think is a little more recent... I'm pretty sure I drew it when I was in college rather than high school, so I'd guess I was eighteen or nineteen.time

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Teeny-bopper Drawings

Well I haven't drawn anything in a while for my "drawing of the day" thing, and honestly I don't know when I'm going to get back into that. Soon I hope. In the meantime, I was writing a paper yesterday on teen depression and wanted to use some of my old high school sketches to illustrate a point. I'm in the process of scanning in all my old sketches (that'll take a while) and figured you guys might enjoy seeing some of them. Here's the first:hanginI think this one was drawn when I was seventeen or so. Whenever I look at my old sketches it strikes me that I was much more creative when I was younger, but then, I was also much more depressed and generally screwed up in the head, so, you know, I guess there's a trade off.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

REM & Improv Everywhere

Some of you may remember a stunt I posted on by Improv Everywhere a couple months ago. A group of I think 300 agents infiltrated Grand Central Station in NYC and froze simultaneously for five minutes. If you haven't watched it yet, it's surely worth it.

Well a couple days ago REM posted this video, which IE was calling a shameless ripoff.

I guess it kind of is. I mean they're obviously doing the same sort of thing, and that is in fact a ripoff... sort of.

Wired Magazine picked this up yesterday and made a few counterpoints. The main one being everything is copied from something these days, so what's the big deal? While I don't agree with that statement necessarily I think it could be fair to say this video was inspired by, rather than ripped off from the IE video. It's even possible that they thought of it independently based on a common influence. Thill at Wired says, "It has been done before, differently and similarly, which is to say that the frozen-in-time routine is hardly an 'original idea.' As James7777777 commented on Geek Gestalt, the U.K. spoof Just for Laughs pulled the same trick almost a decade earlier, albeit in a convenience store rather than Grand Central Station."

So you could say it's not a ripoff, get over it, except that yesterday in response to the backlash REM PR people apologized, admitted that "us on team REM love the stuff you guys do," took it down and are currently redoing the video to include a nod to IE. By taking those steps, REM basically admitted that yes, it was in fact a ripoff. Honestly I don' t think there's anything wrong with that, and I'm even impressed that they're taking steps to repair the hurt feelings. Because in this case that's all it is... as far as I can tell there was no possible legal action IE could have taken as far as copyright stuff goes. (Lori, are you out there? Am I right about that?)

Here's my issue. In spite of REM's response, I don't really think this was a ripoff. For one thing the REM version doesn't take place in Grand Central Station which takes one degree of similarity away. As far as the style of the stunt, as James pointed out, freezing in a public place to confuse and weird people out? Been there. The main connection between IE's stunt and REM's stunt was the number of spectators and agents involved and the simple admission by REM that they ripped it off. That isn't enough of a similarity for me. The biggest single difference between these two videos in my mind is intent.

The purpose of the REM video is to look cool (and it does). It also succeeds wonderfully in capturing the attitude of the band REM. While the spectators involved probably didn't know what was going on, the people freezing were likely paid actors, or at least an informed group of people who wanted to be associated on video with REM rather than the stunt itself.

The IE video on the other hand uses hundreds of agents who, before they meet up right before the stunt, have no idea what they're going to be doing. In away the spectators, while even less informed, are every bit as involved as the players. And the main difference is that in IE the intent is to play, to confuse, to interact with people and spaces. This is fundamentally different from the purpose of REM.

I guess my point is that while it might have been copied it's not even possible for REM to ripoff what IE did in Grand Central station. It's the difference between art and marketing.

And since we're talking about Improv Everywhere, I'll finish off with the latest IE video from the The Boston Society of Spontaneity.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Fantasy and Spreadsheets

Yeah, who knew I could put those things together in a title? So I've spent the last two hours plugging ages of faeries for my novel into a spreadsheet to see how things break down. It's been shockingly helpful.

eyeThere are a couple of tricks with my faeries that make figuring out character age difficult. The first trick is that the faeries age at about human speed during childhood, then at around age 11 when they begin puberty their aging slows dramatically. At around age 13 they "change" getting their wings, horns, lengthened fangs and become sexually mature (sort of... about as sexually mature as you would expect a girl who just got her period to be: aka able to reproduce but not necessarily recommended).

The other trick is that this group of faeries lost a war about 18 years back. When they lost, the victorious faeries slaughtered all the elders (faeries over age 70) and all the faeries of reproductive age (13-63). When the leader of the tribe begged, they left some children alive, but killed all the children that were descendants of the remaining faeries (there's a practical social reason for this which I may explain later). So what had previously been a healthy population of faeries (ok I know that sounds ridiculous, but bear with me) was left at 25-30 older faeries and five children aged from under a year to eleven years. It took five years before the oldest of these (a female) was able to reproduce. The next oldest female (in terms of reproduction the adult males are still viable, so male children are irrelevant) was only five years old at the time of the war, which means she would not be able to reproduce for approximately eight years.

pregnantThis all sounds a bit cold, and it is, but by playing with these numbers I've discovered some interesting things about the society I'm creating. For one thing, I've got all sorts of extra reasons for the frustration and bitterness I've already put in there. That's nice to know. The main thing I've realized though is that for the female children left after the war, life would have been hell once they reached reproductive age. The oldest child for example, had five children in the course of thirteen years, all by very old men (faeries). The oldest of these children was taken from her, the next oldest lived, the next was mutilated, the next was stillborn and the last lived. At the time the book takes place, she's pregnant again. Possibly even more devastating than her status as a broodmare is the fact that she would have been forced into sex pretty continually as soon as she matured until it was evident that she was pregnant and then again once the babies were born. This is not only because of the brutal nature of the characters in question but the practical concerns of rebuilding a population that was growing from 300 or so pre-war, and shrunk to 25 immediately after.

She's not a particularly important character but knowing this makes her more important to me. It gives me a better understanding of my creatures and my story. I also now realize that whatever desperate measures this group of faeries take, they are probably doomed in the long run since they have only three blood lines to start from. Suddenly, just by putting something as simple as ages into a spreadsheet, I know all sorts of things about the society I created that I never would have imagined on my own. Now that's weird science.

*Pregnant image is an altered image from a photo I found on flickr. Linked.

Friday, March 28, 2008

More Creative Gift Wrapping (procrastination)

giftBecause everyone knows a small child would MUCH rather admire a prettily wrapped gift than, you know, open it, I decided to have some fun with a birthday gift for Matt's (and soon my) niece. I probably wouldn't have bothered except that it was one of those multiple book gift packages that looks all weird and asymmetrical when you're done. Plus I had some time to kill that I could have easily used for more productive things.

izziesSo... I took some of the silver paper that I used last week (or whenever) and cut out a bunch of rectangles. I Folded them all around to give them sharp edges and taped them on (sticky side in). Best find? Random Izzie (a juice soda) bottle caps all over the floor. We never throw them out because they're kinda cute and the cats like to play with them. And we're slobs, that's probably one of the reasons too.

Anyway I put it all together and I can sort of kind of pretend it looks like a car. What do you think? Am I not the queen of wasting time?car