Good news today. Mrs. Austin has decided to go back to school!! It's a big day for the Austin Family and we're behind her all the way. She was actually happy to the point of tears when she called to tell me. We're both thinking of going back to school and I'm waiting to hear from an old professor friend in Denver about my chances. Mrs. Austin will be taking classes starting August and the classes she's taking will be reimbursed through her employer. Happy days.

I know my dad went back to school. Just a few years back he graduated with a degree in business. It seems to be the thing, lately. A lot of people, especially in this economy, are taking the opportunity to go back to school and get their degree. I, on the other hand, am not going back to school because I'm looking for a better job, I just want to finish it. It gnaws at me that I went to, and paid for a good chunk of 6 years of state college, but didn't finish because I needed to find work. Turns out there were a lot of evening art and theater classes so I had to let it drop.

But this is great news for the Mrs. She's been wanting to do this for years now, and with her loans from a previous school paid off, there was nothing holding her back except just going to the campus and signing up. I know she'll be worried that she's not spending enough time with me and Lil Miss Austin, but you have to make choices and this, I think, is a good choice. If she gets her physchology degree like she wants, who knows what that will do for her. Plus, all the time she spends at school I can use to play video games. I call this a win win scenario.

I wanted to add that another friend of mine has a new job as well and it's a kick ass job doing graphic design for an insurance company. He gets to play with Illustrator and Photoshop and all other forms of digital goodness on a daily basis. He's really excited to be working with something artistic and electronic. That and Mrs. Austin's recent move to finish school got me wondering what I'm doing with my life. Sure I've got a small ashcan comic due out in August, yeah so I've drawn a picture for Bob Schneider, but that's about it. My legacy is going to be nothing more than some mediocre penciled pieces posted in cyberspace. If I were to die tomorrow, I'd have nothing of note to be remembered by other than my daughter. It's a scary thought, that what you're doing doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but if you're smart you'll use that as motivation to get off your can and get something done. Write a book, organize a protest, something.

I'm also not very fond of the business I'm in. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate my job, or my boss or my coworkers. (Ok, are they gone now?) What I'm frustrates me is I'm doing something I'd never thought I'd do and I'm frankly not very good at. I do what I can, but since I have no vested interest in my profession other than a biweekly stipend, I can't say with mucho gusto that I'm behind my job, or my company. I just don't care sometimes. I'd rather be making neat graphics for flyers or creating websites for companies or designing characters for video games. But I'm 30 now and I don't have any training in any of those fields, I have self imposed knowledge. Were I to get a job like this, I know enough that I could figure it out in short order, but I'd have to get in the door first. Would you rather hire a student from some graphic art school with a good portfolio that has a degree or someone who's been doing it as a hobby for 10 years with no degree and a very narrow portfolio?

Yeah I don't know either.

Not to be one to burn bridges either, I've got nothing against my job now. Sometimes it's challenging, sometimes it's boring, sometimes I hate coming in, sometimes I don't mind coming in. Never, since I've got into this industry have I woke up and scrambled for the door because I'm just dying to get to work. I'd like to be there some day. I'd like to get a good night's sleep, wake up, and be excited about getting into the office. Maybe not because the job is good, but that I'm suited for the job. LMA's school has a sort of philosophy that they don't teach, they nudge. They find what the child is good at, and they encourage that path as much as possible. I wish there was job placement like that.


Some humor for your day.

Among parents and relatives of parents and friends of parents, there exists a unique flow or exchange. This reciprocal event can be found near birthdays or holidays and usually involved bags, ribbons, paper and bows. The cycle goes back and forth until all children within a group are above a certain age, which could take years. Yes in some cases the cycle has never been broken.

I of course speak of gifts, but no ordinary gifts. Ordinary gifts consist of clothing, cash and computer accessories. For your dad you buy a beer stein, your mother a necklace, your wife a nice camera, your husband a Playstation. For your coworkers, if you’re so inclined, you offer desk calendars and for you close friends you purchase items tailor made to their desires, habits and needs.

But for children that are not your own, you buy the loudest, messiest, bulkiest gift you can find. You know that you’ll never hear the sound of a professional drum kit. You’ll never experience the wonder of 2700 crayons. You’ll never enjoy the rapture that is the bubble-pop mower. Sad to say you won’t have these joys to drool over in your own household because, well first of all you’re not mentally challenged, and second, it’s just fun to watch the faces your friends make when you buy their child of 2 years a puzzle with 4000 pieces. “Wow thanks,” they say trying to hide their mix of shock and dread. “They’ll really like this."

And they will. The children will REALLY enjoy these gifts that bark, beep, honk and tweet. They will revel in putting one of the 256 blocks in enough small places that will ensure you will be looking for them for the duration of you owning that house. They will celebrate the cacophony of hand made musical instruments at 5 am on a Saturday. The problem is, you won’t.

And that’s to be expected, for you see the cycle is vicious and unspoken. You don’t actually say to a friend or sibling, “I’ll be buying your daughter the biggest loudest thing I can find because I’ll never have to hear it, but it brings me joy to know that you will for the next 5 years.” No. You do it because you don’t have to say that. They know, you know, we all know. Loud presents, messy presents, complex presents are our way of saying, “I know you love your child and this will truly test that.”

With that in mind, I’d like to give you and instance, first hand of one such a gift. As thoughtful as it was, and as enjoyable as Little Miss Austin can find it, all it is to us is a big clean up every night. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate anyone for gifts like this, nor do I think anyone hates me for the 150 sound electronic drum set. This, in fact, encourages LMA to use her creative side, which is a good thing for both her and us, and that outweighs any malevolence; intended or otherwise.

Side story, I’m picking up LMA from school today and one of the teachers told her to sing me the song they were just singing. The song was “You are my sunshine” and she sings it beautifully, albeit without the You and My and most of Sunshine, but she has these little gestures that go with it and with that face you don’t even care that she can’t sing yet. Anyway, about half way through the first stanza and another (rather pushy) older girl comes up and pretty much hijacks her song. Well about a fraction of a second before the teacher or I could react, LMA stops and says, “No! My daddy! Go away!” Teacher and I busted up. Another minor cognitive step for my little butterfly.


Just an update for those that read this that I haven't already told.

I drew the picture for Bob S. and Mrs. Austin went to his show at Antone's to give it to him. Long story short, he liked it and said he'd be in touch. I think he was probably being polite, you have to for your fans. Personally the picture really lacks most things I've been working so hard on acheiving over the last year; dynamics, good perspective, clean lines. I mean, I really hope he really likes it and isn't just saying so because I KNOW I've done better work and could probably do better given the time. But every artist is their own worst critic.

Not much more to say, really. I'm excited for the end of June, get to see both parents inside the same week, and a grandma, so that's cool. Going to Willie Nelson's 4th of July picnic/celebration and Sea World which should be just loads of fun. I will be wearing my cowboy hat to one if not both of these events.

Also, if anyone reads Fark.com keep an eye out for some Austin headlines. I've been trying like mad to get something from Austin American Statesmen in there, but for the past month I've yet to get an article posted. Must brush up on my "funny." I was also thinking of a new superhero, his power is he has a perfect wit. He never stammers looking for words, he always has a come back or anecdote or biting reply and he rarely uses a tag line or comfort word. Just so none of you get any ideas, I'll call him Quintin Iver and he is ©2003 Ben Rollman. If I see a wordsmithee type super wit guy any time in the next 70 years I'll hunt ya down and marinate you in a nice chianti.



That's what we did on Father's Day. Pee without a diaper. Well I didn't, I'm not allowed to do that anymore, police injunction says so. This weekend was not so much focused on celebrating dad's all over the country or even in my family as much as it was celebrating that Lil Miss Austin knows how to pee in a glorified cup. Let me tell you, this is probably the best present she could have given me. LMA ran around for most of the weekend wearing nothing but here little sandles and a smile. I tried to do the same thing, but I thought the neighboors might object when I'd step outside for a smoke.

Yes, we're both very proud of her. Two, maybe three accidents all weekend. We did ask every 5 minutes if she had to go, but when she had to, and then did, man did we erupt in praise and smiles and admiration. Couple more weeks of this and she can officially no longer be called a baby, although she will always be our baby girl. It's hard though, we spent all 48 hours together and that was just dandy, but I'm worried about her going back to school. The teacher's have their own agenda and needs and duties, so my leaving a note saying "Little Miss Austin is working on potty training now so please ask her often if she has to go" is probably either going to fall on deaf ears and into the round file, or spark some "We know what we're doing" debates when I pick her up. I've seen her in school climb up on the lu and pretend to go, whether she goes or not during the course of the day can only be answered by that teacher who's name I don't know.

So in the end it was a good weekend, nothing special yet special at the same time. The wife called in "quality time." I've heard the term but really didn't know what it felt like to have it happen to me, and I only realized it after it was done. I'd always gone LOOKING for quality time, and usually ended up taking a nap.


Tell you how much of a badass Mrs. Austin is, she's my own little PR firm.

Last night we went to Shady Grove, an Austin restaurant that occasionally has some live music. Well Bob Schneider was playing last night and, Mrs. Austin being the enormous fan that she is, wanted to go. I arranged the baby-sitting with a friend and we were off.

First of all, there is barely enough parking at Shady Grove for when you just want to go and eat, let alone when a local legend is playing for free. She got there at 5:30 for an 8pm show and it was already packed. After I dropped the kid off, I headed downtown and circled the establishment for about 45 mins before finding a spot to park, then waited in line to get in for another 45 mins. It was 30 mins into the show when I was finally able to get in. Luckily he didn't play any of my favorite songs yet.

So we watch the show, do a little dance, drink a little beer and just have a good old time. Today reports from local radio KGSR indicate attendance records were broken for Shady Grove to the tune of 1,500 people. Doesn't sound like a lot I know, but when you consider the restaurant has the seating capacity of your average Bennigan's, with a moderate size patio, the number is staggering. Needless to say it was standing room only, unless you were one of the fortunate 200 that got chairs. Our view was really good, we were only about 70 feet away from the stage and had a clear view, clearer as the evening went on and people in front of us began leaving or moving around.

I was a bit saddened that he didn't play Beatomatic, otherwise known as the Batman song, but they did do Tarantula so I was pretty pleased. After a crowd pleasing set, he excused his drummer guitarist and bassist and brought up a string quartet and they proceeded to lose the crowd. This really gave me the impression that he just loves playing and he's in it for his love of music and hopefully some fans will appreciate it to. The last 2 songs were love songs, very somber and quiet and the strings weren't miked so all you heard was him for the most part. Interesting way to end a show.

But it gets better.

I wanted to draw a picture of Bob wearing a Batman tee shirt to pay homage to the guy in a way only I can. But I didn't know how to get it to him other than finding his agent or promoter and mailing it to them, knowing it'd see the trash before it got to him. (Which is unfair to say, the last show we saw him I was having a smoke by the entrance and he just walked by like he was coming to see the show, then later that week I saw him at a mall with just one girl. In Austin he's a household name, but outside of that I'm not sure.) Let's just say he's probably still local enough to be pretty accessible, but famous enough to require event staff at a show.

So Mrs. Austin knew about my comic book picture idea, so after the show was over and the lamo fans who didn't get their encore left, leaving the drunk and stoned among us to mill around discussing the finer aspects of how much we really wanted to get some pancakes or enchiladas at 10 at night, she "rushed" the stage. Bob was greeting people, signing some shallow chicks' breasts or faces or whatever, saying hi to friends, and this is how the story goes as told by Mrs. A.

"So I walked up there and he's signing autographs and all and I said 'Hey Bob, can you listen a minute while you sign stuff?' 'Yeah,' he said. 'My husband is a comic book artist and he wants to draw a picture of you wearing a Batman tee-shirt.' He stops what he's doing and looks at me and says, 'What?' 'My husband is a comic book artist and he wants to draw a picture of you wearing a Batman tee-shirt, does he have your permission?' 'Yeah,' he says. 'Ok,' I say, 'So how does he get it to you?' 'Tell him to bring it to Antone's on Tuesday, I'll be there,' he says. 'Ok,' I say, 'thanks.'"

My brush with fame brought about by my personal PR firm. Only problem is now I have to produce. I have 3 days to come up with a good picture. Not that the picture itself is going to be hard, but as an artist I'm going to stress about this because I'm showing it, GIVING it, to what would be considered a huge celebrity, local or otherwise. So I'm off to start sketching, wish me luck.

P.S. Should you need balls the size of coconuts, talk to my wife.


So I've ignored the pictures as of late. We take a lot of pictures but I want to hold true to what Mrs. Austin's wishes are and not just spew photos out across the internet. It would be the same as her scanning all my crappy sketch book pages and emailing them to all my friends. Some of my stuff is private, and more often then not, sucks ass, so I don't want just anyone to see it.

With that in mind however, I do have a responsibility, mainly to family, to show some of what goes on down here, so I've chosen a few photos that aren't anything special, but they amuse me and if they can amuse you then so be it.

We'll start with the Yippiekiyay Mother F***er look that I've recently been sporting. I didn't realize that it was almost a requirement to own a cowboy hat if you live in Texas. I suppose it's similar to owning a pair of skiis if you live in Colorado or a Hawaiian Shirt with Black Socks in Florida. I didn't want the traditional 10 gallon variety, as I'm not a "native" but I'd always liked the way the straw version looked. I could fit in while attempting to retain the urban look. Beck would wear this hat, right? Mrs. Austin just thinks it's horribly sexy and I for one like wearing it so who's to judge. By contrast, a friend wrote me asking why it took so long. She was in Dallas for 2 hours before buying one for herself. Whether she wears it now that she's in the Bronx is another matter.

Lil Miss Austin is just getting so cute. Biases aside, that face is just money. This was our first (and last) attempt at giving her hair some curl, an act that really forced me to admit that she was a girl. No amount of hockey or comic book influence can take away one night with a set of sponges in your hair. This coupled with some toe and fingernail polish completed the ensemble and she was ready to go. The actual result was a bit odd, the back was nice and curled, but the front shot up in this bizzaro Weed Whacker look that I hadn't seen since my days in high school when the Shouting Bangs look was all the rage.

Don't let this picture fool you, this kid doesn't sleep. She fights naps at school and wakes up every 90 mins during the night. It's apparently a 2 year old thing. She's starting to be afraid of the dark, bugs and loud noises. She also may have reached a certain point where her brain is evolving and can't just turn off. Consequently she's up all night while her brain is going over its To Do list. Last night wasn't the worst, but any time you go to open your child's door, but it's being blocked by the child who's fallen asleep on the floor, CPS and a shot on Ricky Lake can't be far behind. Yes this makes me feel like a bad parent, but getting 6 hours of sleep sure doesn't.

And this is LMA doing her Aurther impression. I don't know how Mrs. Austin got this picture, but I'm sure there was some kind of liquid involved. Humans just don't make that face unless they are hammered or can't breath. I have to figure out how to enter this picture into some kind of contest because I'm sure it would win.

No picture to go with this, but something I was mulling over. LMA spends about 50 hours a week at her school. That's a lot, I don't even work that much. We did some rough calculations and if you take sleep time out of an average week, her school sees her 6 hours more than we do. That really hurt me as a parent, that all the worrying and struggle and sleepless nights and I only get her half the time she's awake. So I thought, it's not that bad, her teachers have 5-10 other kids to worry about at any given time, so it's not like they focus on her, or that she really knows them like she knows us. That thought was quashed as we pulled up to her school what morning and one of her teachers was getting out of her car. She shouted the teacher's name in nearly the same volume and tone as she shouts "Daddy!" when I pick her up every day. She actually sounded like she missed her and it almost broke my heart. I hope that in a few years I can retire early, or work less or from home and be with her more often because I don't feel I'm doing anything to shape her nubile mind outside of scolding her for not staying in bed or upsetting her by telling her there's no milk or Wiggles in the car on the way home.


Mrs. Austin just called and ordered us a copy of Austin Monthly magazine. The May issue has 103 things to do in 2003. We had and used the 102 things to do in 2002 as a guide to our summer last year and it was really quite the thing. Some of you may remember photos from Hamilton Pool, the Austin Wildlife Preserve, Austin Zoo and other fun family outings.

This year promises to be more of the same, we hope. Lil Miss Austin is a year older and more developed and will probably react differently to camels and large turtles and splashing marine animals, but that's our hope. Life is not without unexpected results from planned events, and if it weren't for those little gems of existence, I probably wouldn't be writing anything at all. This page has become more of a place to unload personal problems than a chronicle of amusing vacations or changes we're seeing in our daughter, but that should change soon. Granted, some of what we want to do requires a babysitter, and that's ok. Miss Squiggles doesn't have to go with the parents to everything, in fact, in order to remain sane I'd rather she didn't.

We've already got a lot planned, my 30th birthday is 19 days away and both parents are coming in on opposing weekends. One weekend will be Sea World, the next will be Willie Nelson's 4th of July festival. Then after that will be the convention in Chicago, then in September will be Eddie Izzard up in Colorado. With 3 months of activities like that, I'm wondering when we'll have time to fit in the local things like swimming at Barton Creek or taking a tour of the Governor's Mansion. We'll just have to see.

Lil Miss Austin isn't sleeping still. It's been almost 2 weeks since her doctor's visit and discovery that she had a bad ear infection and the antibiotics have taken care of that. But you could almost set your clock to her waking up around midnight, then again at about 2, then again right at 6am. It's starting to really wear on the grownups as I don't think either of us have got 8 hours of sleep in close to a month. We're snippy, grouchy, short tempered and unmotivated. Mrs. Austin's job requires her to be on and kickin' and I've got to stir up some drive to get a major project finished. When we get home, however, the life is just drained from us. All we want to do is eat dinner, have a smoke, watch some Law and Order and hit the sack. I can't even find the strength to read anymore much less draw.

Last night was just horrible. For the last two days I've had this headache that was probably part allergies, part sinus pressure for recent atmospheric activity. I took a proven cocktail of 2 parts sinus meds, 2 parts Excedrin to combat the discomfort. That may have been a bad move as the rest of the night my body was buzzing like a locust after a double cappuccino. My head wouldn't shut up and the thought of sleep was so far away I was actually getting panicky, which didn't help either. LMA woke up her predictable 3 times during the evening, and we took turns "I pat you" until she fell asleep again, but it's getting to be a pattern and I'm not sure it's a good one. Not sure, hell, I'm damned sure it's not a good one. She set to be sent to a friends house tomorrow so Mrs. Austin and I can have an evening out, but my fear of her staying up all night and bothering her hosts is really clouding the euphoria at having time to ourselves.

The trick is, something is waking her up, but we can't find out what it is. We've tried lights on, lights off, noise machine, dead silence, no water before bed, water whenever she wants it, staying with her all night, leaving her alone, sleeping with her, sleeping with us. Short of sticking her in a box in the garage, I don't know that we can do anything else aside from waiting until she's 18.

Well, it's the middle of the day, I'm at the office. I think I might go try and sleep in my car for my lunch break.


Well phooey, I had this HUGE rant entered about the new smoking ban in Austin and Blogger just friggin dropped it. I SHOULD have a few entries written about losing entire entries after spending hours on them. Buckets and buckets of crap!

feel free to read about it yourself.
It's a load of crap that 7 people get to decide on an ordinance, 7 people we voted for, but frankly, probably don't go to bars in the first place. It's a big topic right now in Austin, even bigger because the vote was 4-3, the 4th vote being councilman Will Wynn who is now Austin's mayor. The two running for his position on the council are split, one for, one against the ban. Can you guess which guy I'll be voting for?

It's just a stupid waste of legislative action. The ban will only include bars and restaurants, but billiard halls, bingo parlors and fraternal organizations are exempt. That's pretty hypocritical of them to say they're looking out for the health of patrons and employess, just apparently not in pool halls or bingo joints. It's more liberties the government is taking away, pretty soon you won't be able to watch certain shows because the government will sick the FCC on those stations, or better yet, will tell cable companies not to air certain shows that they don't like. I can't imagine how this is helping Austin. There was a smoke free bar at one point, it shut down after a few months because no one went. It's what you do in a bar, drink and smoke. It's always been that way. If you don't want to smell like smoke or breath second hand smoke, don't go. A bar really doesn't offer anything else, just liquor, maybe some shuffleboard, so don't use that "Yeah, but I like to see live music too." I would guess over half of Austin's live music venues are either out doors or in a large auditorium where you can't smoke anyway, so that's a line of bull.

I'm pretty hot about this so I think I'll stop before someone's sensibilities are injured.


Hey kids, what time is it?

No it's not Howdy Doody Time. No it's not time for Barney. No, not Bozo or Teletubbies. Nope, not him. Oh come on, don't you know? I'll give you three guesses. He lives in the ocean and others are trying to find him. No not Hoffa, I'm talking about Nemo. And the reason I'm talking about Nemo is because Lil Miss Austin has been talking about Nemo. It's ALL she talks about. We get into the car, "Go see Nemo?" The doorbell rings, "See Nemo?" We get ready for school in the morning, "Nemo?" The only addition to the pleas is, "Nemo, go shopping?" After all you have to have your priorities, she is so her mother's daughter. As much as Mrs. Austin wants to believe that she's daddy's little girl, the fact that the kid always wants to go shopping is a clarion call to the female persuasion. I like shopping just as much as the next guy, which is to say I like buying things. I like going in, getting it, and getting out. Unless I'm at Best Buy, then I try my hardest just to hang out.

Point of the story lost, moving on. Finding Nemo is a really great film. I won't spoil it here so don't worry. Pixar has just never really made a bad movie. Bug's Life, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo. I know I'm missing one or two, but you get the idea. They're movie gold. They are what Lucas/Spielberg were in the 80's (Howard the Duck notwithstanding.) But it's just a great family film. Good CGI, heartwarming story, humorous dialogue. Just a thumbs up on all sides.

A few other things for readers out there. Mr. Austin now owns a cowboy hat (and I'll touch on that in a minute) and Lil Miss Austin had a really bad swollen eye the last couple days, probably a mosquito bite, but it was pretty sad. We woke up Tuesday morning to see her eye nearly swollen shut. No leaky stuff or crusty, just really red and puffed out, she looked like a boxer. It's frightening to look at, but she was in no pain or discomfort. However, I still don't think she fully understands complex questions like "Does your eye hurt?" "Does your eye itch?" She'll say "Yes" then you ask, "Did you kill the President?" And she'll say "Yes." So it's hard to gauge really.

On a purely weird note, I've shaved my back again. I hate getting that done. Mrs. Austin doesn't seem to mind at all, and the results for the first day or so are always pleasant, so I don't know. I know that Mr. Austin Senior is long in the back fuzz department and while I don't remember him ever getting it shaved, I just have bad memories of my mom doing something to his back. Just makes me feel old I guess. But to be sure, it really shows off my tattoo, which is cool. I'm reminded of the Sienfeld episode where he shaves his chest. If I do this weekly for, oh I don't know, the rest of my life, I could use that hair to maybe transplate to my head when I go bald. Then I'll look just like the short 'n' curlies Hair Club for Men commercials.



Quick entry because my arms are killing me. A guy from work owns a boat and yesterday I went out with them on Lake Travis. (Lake Travis, for those who don't live here, is basically the Colorado River that's damned up at various points along the way. When I say Colorado River, it's not The Colorado River that cuts through the Grand Canyon. Why there are two, I don't know. Any way, the lake country is some of the most beautiful in Texas and has a lot of activities and parks and day trip ideas to choose from.

Most people, though, just take their boat out on the "lake" or the wide river that goes through Austin called Town Lake. We had to work on Saturday till about noon doing absolutely jack for 4 hours and then were invited to go out on this guy's boat. It was fun and relaxing. I haven't been on a boat since I moved from CO. We used to go waterskiing all the time on Standley Lake with a friend of my dad's and those were heady days, my friend. Up at the asscrack of dawn, gas up the boat, buy some beer/cokes and donuts and hit the water. You get out early enough and the water is like glass, much easier to ski on. As the day goes on and either the wind picks up or more boaters come out, the water gets choppy.

So the water wasn't great yesterday right near the boat launch so we cruised up about 30 minutes past the 360 bridge and towards Mansfield Dam. It was here that the water dropped to about 70°, it was pretty chilly. So a few jumps in, a few runs on the wake board (which I've never done, but got up on the 3rd try, which according to the other guys is pretty amazing) and a game of spades over beer later, I'm burnt to a crisp. I didn't realize until I got home, but I'm pretty pink right now, and it's a lot of fun to have a two year old jump all over you with a sunburn. Not to mention that my forearms are killing me while I'm typing this. I'm supposed to be drawing right now, but I don't think the muscles in my arms would allow that for any length of time.

But, for having to go in to the office on a Saturday, it wasn't a bad trade off.