Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Late April in the Frosty North.

Hi there.

I just wanted to share my morning commute with those of you who live at a more temperate latitude.
In case you didn't know, I live at a snowy northernly latitude.
How snowy is it, you may ask?

my snowy street

It's April 23rd...

my snowy neighborhood with its fancy white octagonal signs

and it's just snowed...

my snowy parking space...  approximately.

for three days.

That's all for now.
Thanks for stopping by!  

Talk to you soon.

- Andrew

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Unfortunately, I'm Not Immortal Yet.

That's pretty, isn't it?

At least two parrots live there.  I'm sure of it.

Hi there.

Fair warning: It's been about a year since my last post, so this is going to be a really long one.

I told myself I'd post again when I got 800 views.  Yes, I know that's hardly any.  I also know 800 seems like a pretty arbitrary number, but I like the number 8 and I needed something to shoot for.

Guess what?  800 views!  That took a REALLY long time!
Probably because I wasn't posting...
This likely amuses very few people apart from myself.

2012 has been an entire year for me.  A whole year.  Here's what happened.

Early on in 2012 (late in 2011?), I began work on a comic book collaboration with a wonderful artist and friend of mine, Kat Hawkins (previously Kat Ruhl), who ended up having quite a very busy year of her own, getting lots of work and getting married, and sadly withdrawing from the project.  This will surely not, however be the last you hear of Todd the Slug and his comrades in space adventure.  In fact, since you've probably never seen them before, here they are.

Left to right, Lieutenant Teddy Justice "TJ" Scuttles,
Todd the Slug, and Mr. Crab

I know -- you know next to nothing, if anything, about Todd the Slug, much less his friends and his great red rocket-ship, the Volar Daucus.
Probably because I wasn't posting...

The most interesting stuff to come out of my work on Todd (apart from the fantastic desigs that Kat produced and some wonderful conversations about alien ergonomics and rest-stops in space) has surely been my work on languages for my various fictional alien races.  I broke down the English language (because I'm writing in English for English speakers) and researched lots of other fun sounds that humans make with their faces.  There are lots of those, by the way.  I reorganized the sounds that humans make and independently discovered what I later found to be many of the foundational elements of linguistics.  Apparently, this kind of stuff interests me greatly and I find it fascinatingly fun!  Thinking about what different kinds of sounds can be made by different kinds of alien faces really is a hoot.  I listened to and dissected a bunch of recordings of primate and other animal sounds as well.

Do you know why Humans, as a general rule, don't use all the wonderful variations of the letter "H?"
Did you know there were lots of wonderful variations of the letter "H?"

Here's a thing!

Say this sequence out loud:  Tuh - Duh - Nuh - Luh - Ruh - Yuh
How about this one:  Puh - Buh - Muh - Wuh   (Repeat this one lots.  It's super fun.)

Did I blow your mind yet?
Probably not, but now you have some insight into what sorts of things I enjoy thinking about.

Rroto - Calmarrin Language
Rroto, the language of commerce of the Calmarrin people, from Calma. 

Various other Alien Languages
An example of the sorts of things I think are spectacularly fun.

So anyway, I began work on about a dozen languages, though at this point they're mostly just well-developed symbol-sets with pronunciations and usage guides and lack any serious semblance of vocabulary.  Can anyone help me with that?
I would love some help with that, you know, because I'm not actually a linguist.

I also went to New Jersey for a while to attend my family reunion and my cousin Steve's wedding and also to go to the beach for a few days in Ocean City.  Amanda had never been to Atlantic City, so we drove through on our outing to see Lucy in Margate and Amanda was equally thrilled and appalled.  We did not gamble in Atlantic City.  In fact, I don't think we even got out of the car.  We spent several fantastic days enjoying Ocean City, the beach, the boardwalk, and the illustrious sights of southern New Jersey, but I'm not going to show you any of that, because this other thing is way more important.  If you are able, EVER, please be sure to make your way to Captain Bob's in Ocean City.  Also, you should like seafood, because the sell primarily seafood.  I visit every time I'm back in Ocean City.  They are the best.  I can't even really explain it.  It's a happy place.

Best.  Scallops.  Ever.

On an entirely separate note, I started modding action figures and that's been fun.  The four humans here each used DC Direct figures with some switched parts as a base.  I've been using apoxie-sculpt for additions.  I also made my own from-scratch figures (though my own aren't articulated) of two of Magnet Man's three AI robot buddies  String is mostly wire and Putty is mostly Sculpey.  These were all fun little projects and I've bought up the cheapest and most versatile action figures that I could find in the right scale, so I'm sure I'll be making more.

Left to right, Ka-Pow!, Lady Saint, Rubberiffic,
String man, Magnet Man, and Putty man 

The next bit was sort of a big deal to me, because I'm me.

I went to Walt Disney World!  That was in October.  It was super fun.  I went with my parents and Amanda and we were there for a week, staying in Port Orleans.  It went by pretty fast, but I got to do everything I wanted to do.  I bought barely any souvenirs though, because Disney has severely downgraded the quality and numerousness of its fun souvenirs since I was a kid - including having excedingly few action figures and even fewer figures of foundational Disney characters, not to mention any basic versions of foundational Disney characters.
Fortunately, I did get to design my own pair of droids.  Here they are.

R2-88 and R5-X4

I also bought a very nice matted print of Walt Disney from a shop in Downstown Disney.
As an early birthday present, Amanda gave me a Jim Henson to go with him.
They're both framed now, but I have yet to find a place to hang them.

A few good sources of inspiration.

I found I loved Tomorrowland in a way that I never had when I'd been to Disney before.  All of that retro sci-fi architecture is really swell.  In Adventureland, I watched the Country Bear Jamboree for the first time ever and found it amazingly weird and fun.  I was once again disappointed by the Carousel of Progress, but was absolutely delighted by a gallery of the history of Walt Disney, the Walt Disney company, and Walt Disney World.  It was super interesting.  I also enjoyed a gallery of concept and background art that was up in Disney Hollywood Studios.  Also, I particularly enjoyed snorkeling through the "reef" at Typhoon lagoon.  I have a special place in my heart for rays.  They're the playful puppies of the sea.  Also, I nearly threw up after experiencing Mission Space (and so nearly did my dad), while Amanda and my mom were perfectly fine.

Fantastical Retro Sci-Fi Architecture from Tomorrowland 

Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was our time in Animal Kingdom, which exhibited arguably the most in-depth imagineering and park-design of all the Disney parks, and actually had a pretty astonishing array of animals with positively vast habitats.  We watched a tiger stalk and pounce another tiger just for fun!  There was a habitat for naked mole-rats designed like a giant ant-farm so you got to see the naked mole-rats at home!  There was a lion on a rock who yawned real big as we passed in our safari truck!  Also, Dinosaurs.

Some majestic lions nobly ignore us as we pass.

A gorgeous hand-written board explaining 
the finer points of giraffes and okapi.

A random planter, one of many subtle touches 
in the Animal Kingdom

Most of the trip was made amazingly efficient by Amanda's expert planning that somehow seemed to get us onto virtually every ride with hardly a wait.  We also got into a bunch of really excellent restaurants that made great use of our dining plan, including memorably delicious dinners at the Tokyo restaurant in Japan in Epcot, the cafe in the Polynesian resort, and a crazy buffet in the Animal Kingdom.  We were also there for the food and wine weekend, so we got to use snack credits on lots of small tasty specialties.

The Ewok Village.  
I want to live here.

This is a Dole-Whip.  
It's one of the best things ever.

Also, I got to meet my good friend Pooh and also Mickey.  These were wonderful moments.
When I met Mickey, it was late at night when the park was almost closed and there was this thing that looked like a magic show right inside the gates at Magic Kingdom.  Amanda and I were on our way out, but I said we should go in and see this backstage magic show thing with Mickey because it might be cute and I love stage magic, even when it's very silly.  She apparently knew what this thing actually was, but I didn't.  We went inside this building with no one to be seen and navigated extensive ropes and empty hallways to eventually come to this little secluded backstage area where there was not a magic show, but a meet and greet with Mickey - and it was just the three of us (and a photographer or two).  I instantly became a little kid again.  Actually, I did that with Pooh later on as well, but there were a bunch of people around Pooh and this thing with Mickey was just such a special way to end a day in the Magic Kingdom.
I was delighted.

Me & Mickey
(Sorry about the blurriness)

Me & Pooh.
So very happy.

What else happened this year?
Not much...

Most of my year was spent working on Todd.

I'm always trying to draw more...
I got several books by Andrew Loomis from the '30s that are just wonderful.  He is amazing.
Here's a very recent drawing I made of the Captain!  He's the best.

Captain Cosmo P. Quivers, space explorer  

I also discovered Portal II...  That took up a bit of time.
A bit of happy, frustrated, mesmerized, testful time.
I beat the game without looking up a single solution!
I'm pretty sure it's my new all-time favorite video game (not that I've played very many), but out of about a dozen, it's the best, and that puts it above Skyrim and New Vegas, which is really saying something, because Skyrim is an astonishing feat of digital design and Fallout is a just universe I'd love to live in (barring, you know, the constant threats to my life, like radiation poisoning, starvation, and tweaked-out cannibalistic raiders).

What else...

I discovered and fell in love with Adventure Time, thanks to my friend Joe.

I also greatly enjoyed seeing Wreck it Ralph, Frankenweenie, and the Avengers.
Skyfall was great too.  I love how they're finally making Bond an actual human.

I bought the yellowest pair of shoes you've ever seen...


Here's a thing.

I'm working on something kind of big and important.
I've been researching and developing my ideas and strategies almost every day for several months.
I've been developing it for longer than that, really, but not so seriously before.

You know how I've been saying for many years that I wanted to someday move to the middle of nowhere and found a massive subterranean squid ranch?  Well, don't worry.  I'm not doing that.  You probably didn't know about that anyway.  As it happens, I've also wanted to make my own comic books since I was maybe 7 or 8 years old.  It's taken me a long time to realize what I want to do.  Something that can incorporate comics, books, and music - It's a pretty grand scheme.
Let me know if you're interested in learning more about it.
I'll likely be documenting my process a bit as things come together (or don't come together, but I'm being optimistic), so hopefully I'll have exciting things to report in the year ahead.

The name only seemed fitting:

Squid Ranch Media.
Inspiring progress through artful storytelling.

I like the logo, but I think it still needs a little work...
Maybe knock a few of those bars out of there...
Utilize the negative space a bit better...

Anyway, that's about all for now.

Oh, additionally, I had always thought that my 28th year would be the year I stopped aging.  No good reason for that.  None at all.  I didn't know if I'd become immortal or just die, and I found it fun that the ancient Mayans picked this year for their crazy-business, until I learned that they had actually picked a day about 30 years ago for their crazy-business, at which point I found it far less fun.  Important side-note; I believe (as a rule) in neither ancient prophecy nor physiologically impossible expectations of immortality.  Just putting that out there to diffuse the tone of this paragraph.  Anyway, it would appear that I am neither dead nor immortal.  No big surprise.  I always held on to the immortality bit, but I don't think it's going to happen with only a few days to go, even in an esoteric or symbolic kind of way.
Anyway, I'm nearly 29.  I've got a long way to go yet.  Perhaps immortality will come later.
With nanobots?
Maybe not with nanobots...
I wouldn't mind being uploaded into a synthetic body, I don't think...

That's probably not something I need to worry about right now.

Me: Presumably not immortal.

Anyway, that's all I've got.

I think this year I'm going to figure out how Twitter works.
I have lots of funny things I want to say about cavemen.


Thanks for reading!  : )

I'll talk to you soon.

- Andrew

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Meanwhile, in the Frosty North...

Hello again.

So, in case you were wondering what's been going on with me...
I'll bring you up to speed.

- This past Halloween, I discovered the wonderful world of fake pumpkins.
Sometimes, they're called "Funkins," but that's actually a name-brand.  I suspect that
within a year or two, "Funkin" will become the "Kleenex" of the fake pumpkin industry.
I love carving them.  I use a long thin flexible knife from the eighties that apparently isn't
a thing that they make anymore.  It makes a great pumpkin-knife.
Anyway, carving a jack--o-lantern out of a Funkin is far more like drawing or sculpting
than it is like strategically mutilating a big orange gourd.

The Way of the Future.

- I went back home to PA twice and basically told no one.

- I took a big step toward grown-up-ness and got a security system for my house.
The yard-sign has yet to be stolen.  Apparently, it is inevitable that it will.

- I got a big fancy promotion at my day-job!
It's almost like I'm actually contributing to society, but not really.  That comes later.
In life.  That comes later in life, not later in this blog post.  Sheesh.
You can only expect so much from a blog post.
And just in case this "job" news is all some sort of a greater issue for you...
Q: Wait, Andrew, you have a day job?
A: Not one I talk about.

- You probably didn't know this, but I've been keeping my eye out for years to try
to find a really nice little plexiglass display stand.  Well, guess what?!  I found one.

- The Captain had a couple of bouts with some sort of mites or something.  It was
a little bit gross but it never actually seemed to bother him and his fur's all better now.
The vet didn't know what it was either, but they gave The Captain a few shots
of ivermectin and that really seemed to do the trick.  The issue has not arisen in
a number of months.  I couldn't tell you off the top of my head what that number
of months is, but it's a few.  Somewhere between four months and a year.
I'm sorry.  I lack the capacity to track linear time.
For anyone not in the know about The Captain, here is The Captain.

Captain Cosmo P. Quivers, space explorer

- If you're a nerd and you feel like your life isn't as together as it could be, I highly
recommend "The Nerdist Way" by Chris Hardwick.  It's good.  It's sort of like a
self-help workbook, but it's also kind of like a game of Dungeons and Dragons, and
it's definitely aimed at socially awkward, hyper-analytical, creative-obsessive people
like me.  Is it for you?  I don't know.  I just thought I'd put it out there.

- I took a big step into the 21st century by somewhat cleverly acquiring an iPhone.
It does all the things that an iPhone does.  You know.  You probably have one.
Well, now I do too.  It's almost like a magical stone that does whatever you tell it.
Except that it's not like  stone at all, except that it's just that satisfying to hold...
You might not understand why this is such a big deal for me.  Well...

Photo of my old phone (taken by my new phone)

- I fell head over heels in love with a voluminous set of fantasy books at my aunt and
uncle's house when I was pretty young and then they went away to a cousin and I had
no idea what they were or if I'd ever see copies of them again.  Then, this year, for my
birthday, I was gifted the entire set, totally out of the blue.  It was amazing.  Thanks
go to wonderful Amanda, but also to my mom, who apparently helped a bit.
They're called The Enchanted World and they are magnificent.
Also, they're clearly from the 80s, but we can't judge them for that, now can we.

- I joined the YMCA nearest my cozy burrow and that's going pretty well.
I kind of like to run?  Also, I kind of want to lift weights and stuff?  Hm...
I subjected myself to a fitness assessment and was told I did admirably in every regard.
I'm apparently not nearly as out of shape as I thought I was, which is good news.
I got to sit down with a trainer and we talked about all kinds of good stuff.
It was all a very positive experience (and the time with the trainer was free!).

- My car hit 10,000 miles and I had my swanky new phone with me so I took a picture!

10,000 miles:  almost a thing that matters. 

- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly (except for the fake pumpkins, because you
really have no idea how heart-breaking it is each year for me to see my pumpkiny
creations wither and die and now I never have to go through that again), I've begun
working with an old friend of mine, Kat Ruhl, on a fantastical comic book.
The book is about a space-slug named Todd.  Todd the Slug.
I think we've got a teriffic story to tell and all of the art that Kat has shown me has
been spectacular.  I know epic space-adventure isn't her typical bag, but she's
just doing a really great job.  I can hardly express my happiness.

So, that brings you up to date on the world of me.
I hope you found it amusing and/or informative, but if --

OH WAIT!  I forgot to tell you about my crazy bloody eye!

- A month and a few weeks back, I got so violently ill that I burst one or two blood vessels
in my eye whilst throwing up.  I can't tell you how that works, because I don't know how
blood vessels work, or exactly what they are, or how many there are in your eye, or what
happened to make my eye look the way it did, and I'm not in the mood to do research.
It looked crazy and bloody and that's about all I know for sure.

Here's a picture!

No one talked to me for a week!

Okay, I think that's all I've got for now.

I have an excellent feeling about 2012.
This is an important year for me...

It's the year I become immortal.

Thanks for reading!
Have a great weekend!

- Andrew