Suddenlink and KXAN Part II

Apparently it's just a foregone conclusion, KXAN will not be included on Suddenlink's basic package. That means however many dozens of thousands of subscribers in Pflugerville, Georgetown and Leander (northern suburbs or towns of Austin) will not get NBC as part of their basic cable package. Other towns served by Suddenlink have alternative affiliates that the company will provide.

Suddenlink has offered complimentary rabbit ears for those in locations with no alternate NBC affiliate, which I think is hysterical considering we're a year away from having all TV stations broadcasting in digital.

I know this all comes down to money. KXAN's parent company is having to pay more to NBC because NBC is losing money and it trickles on down to the cable provider. But I stand by my offer that Suddenlink should buck the trend, lower their overhead by dropping some ridiculously inane channels so they can at least afford the local affiliates.

Apparently a CBS affiliate will not be carried in Albuquerque either. I'm sure they're still happy they get QVC.

I don't want to drum up bad publicity for Suddenlink or KXAN, but as a previous commenter asked, "...is it worth it to lose customers and revenue by putting us, the customer in the middle of your greed?"

Carry on, smartly.


Suddenlink may lose KXAN

I recently wrote about my displeasure at a response I received from Suddenlink. I inquired when they would be offering NBC (KXAN) in HD. The initial response was a patchwork form letter - which I also posted. I replied saying that was a horrible answer and eventually Pete Abel, Vice President of Corporate Communication left a comment on the blog saying he agreed it was a bad answer and the truth was they were in negotiations with KXAN to get the HD signal.

Despite Pete Abel's reassuring words, it turns out not only are we not getting HD, we're losing the affiliate altogether. That's right, a cable company that's not carrying one of the big three network channels. KXAN ran a commercial which I just saw as well as post a message on their site saying that effective Dec. 31st, the channel will no longer be available to Suddenlink subscribers.

Suddenlink says they'll keep the channel until KXAN's parent company forces them to remove it or until an agreement can be reached.

You can read more of the story here.

Ms. A has a call in to Time Warner about them possibly offering service in our area. We haven't called back, but I'm thinking I might now. I wanted to give Suddenlink the benefit of the doubt, and according to the article they seem to think the negotiations have been amicable and they are close, but I'm losing my patience. I'd love to hear what the sticking points are on this agreement. It may end up not happening and there may be a last minute agreement. I suppose missing a few bowl games won't kill me.

But I hate settling for this nonsense. I think it's time to either lose it altogether or find a good DirectTV or satellite provider.

Carry on.

ebay listing

Hey folks, I'm selling some old comic book cards. If that's something you're interested in, you can go check it out...


Thanks, happy new year.


Year End Clearance!

Zazzle is having a 20% off all apparel sale until Jan. 7th. If you've always wanted something from the Art on Shirts line of wonderful, whimsical and whacky characters on a shirt, mug, tote bag or cap, now's your chance to get one and save 20% in the process. You lucky people, you've waited just long enough, and now it's gonna pay off.

Plus, if you're a fan of the work on the Robot Portraits or other drawings seen on Flickr, don't hesitate to contact me about commissions.

Happy New Year!


Happy Yule!

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Ms. A and I were up till about 1:30am wrapping gifts and finalizing all things for Santa. We left out the cookies and milk and gingerbread house and made sure they were up far enough so the dog wouldn't eat them.

After winding down and finally getting to sleep it was about 2:30 and we knew the kids would be up mere hours later - and they were. 'Round about 7, LMA came into our room and said she saw that Santa had come and she thought there was a pogo stick under the tree. It was actually a scooter, but "pogo stick" sure woke me up. Ms. A tried to get her to go back to sleep for a few minutes but then when G-Man started stirring we knew it was time.

So we made an orderly demolition of the living room and everyone was happy and smiling and calm. We had coffee and donuts and the kids loved all their gifts. Thank you to all the family who sent them gifts and cards and all the friends who've sent cards and holiday wishes. It was very nice.

The living room is now clean of paper and packaging but the items remain. I'm off uploading photos with my new (as in new to me) Nikon D70 and Ms. A is taking a nap. The kids are watching TV and absentmindedly turning on all the noisemaking toys. I'm pretty sure they'll need a nap soon too. Ms. A and LMA are going to Circle later this afternoon and I plan on playing the game they got for the Wii.

Our dog was probably the only one unhappy. Too many loud noises and not enough floor space to lay down.

So from the Life in Austin crew, Happy Yule, Merry Christmas and have a festive and joyous holiday.



Originally uploaded by xadrian.
My wrist hurts.

I can't tell if it's the increase in drawing or something else. My biggest fear, bodily, is losing my eyesight. Can't draw if you can't see.

The second would be losing my right hand. I just interviewed an artist who had lost the use of his drawing arm. I can't imagine what that would be like. He had taught himself to draw and paint again with his left hand. Can you even fathom that? I hear it every so often and it always floors me.

I don't know where I'm going with this, it's late. I spent a long time drawing something for someone and made the mistake of posting it on a message board. I knew I shouldn't have. I don't take critiques well so I don't look for them. I can't make the effort lately to really push myself so I just draw for myself. If it sucks, so what. But, someone did give it a rather flip critique and now I'm crestfallen and I'm sure it'll be a few days till I pick up a pencil again.

I do some times think I'd be better off just writing. Drawing takes a lot out of me but it never looks like I spend to much time on it. It's all done in a rush of adrenaline. Probably not good.

So that's why I worry about my wrist. I'm sure I'm doing damage by cramming in 3 days of drawing into 4 hours, but you take what you're given. So it's ibuprofen and off to bed. Doubtless this'll be the last post till after the holidays. I'll get pictures, no worries.

Happy Yule from Texas.

Carry on.


Mid December

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Welcome to the middle of the craziest month of the year. I hope you have all your shopping done. I don't. I'm no where close. I don't know what to get people and I'm not sure I'll figure it out either.

I have 5 drawings to get done and in the mail by this weekend so there goes shopping.

Lil Miss Austin had a holiday project she had to do for school. Her family had to help her decorate a cut out tree. Ms. Austin had the stellar idea of having little pictures of the family as ornaments (or as the kids say ordamints.) It turned out well I think.

LMA doesn't always wear hats to school either, she apparently has been reading so well she's completed some reading assessment thing and the prize is you're able to wear a hat on Friday's. If you get all four done you get a snow globe. I wish they'd just have her read it all right now. The books they send home with her are almost insultingly easy.

She still cries when someone beats her at a game, so it's a give and take.

So I told a couple people at work about me and Ms. A. One was shocked but impressed that we're being so civil about it. The other knew something was going on but didn't want to say anything. But the seal is broken. These were two people I genuinely like even though I may not know them very well. They're the same age and mindset so it was easier. Plus now I don't have to worry about it.

Also, after a LONG wait, the latest episode of Awesome Storm Justice is finally out. I did the lettering for this one and I think I'm supposed to do lettering for the next few. I also want to maybe draw an episode again, but seriously, did I mention I have other things to do?

Cold weather lately. All you midwesterners stay warm.

Carry on.


Holiday Cards

Most of you fine readers will be getting a card from me soon. This is the fifth year I've done holiday cards for friends and family.

My grandpa on my mom's side did Christmas cards for a great many years, probably more than I've been alive. They were all hand done too, which is something I don't think I'll ever be able to do, especially when you consider he probably sent out 50-60 cards. I think I heard my grandmas say one time he actually starts the day after Christmas and works on them till about October.

Good lord.

This one took about an hour to draw and color. It's not my favorite but it's done. I had no idea how Prismacolor markers would take to strathmore sketchbook paper and it wasn't good. It was streaky and messy. I think I will pick up some water colors as these markers are find for somethings, but they run out quickly and don't blend very well.

Anyway, enough excuses. If you'd like to purchase a holiday card from years past, I've set them up on my Zazzle site so you can send them to your friends and family. Yes they have LMA and G-man on them, but I left them blank on the inside and you can make up your own holiday bits but customizing them on the site.

!Zazzle Card Fun Times Go!

Carry on.


Who Are You With?

I think I'm just going to break down and create a blog dedicated to critiquing commercials. I see so many ads that make me just roll my eyes. Maybe a segment here called "Marketers Don't Get It."

I'm watching the Steelers/Patriots game and this Wachovia commercial keeps coming on. The setting is a mom and dad and son (maybe more of the family is there) and they're sharing a family dinner around a nice big table. Everyone is laughing and eating and pretty much being not a real family. Suddenly they realize that the eldest son, who is going on a vacation to some exotic locale, forgets he doesn't have his passport and it's - wait for it - in dad's safety deposit box. Dad then calls - wait again - his banker at home. The banker and her staff, according to the narrative, work through the holiday to open the bank vault before regular business hours so super-smart-offspring can get his passport before his trip.

I'm with Wachovia, says dad.

Do I really need to go into this? I mean sure if I were a dad, I'd do all I could to make sure my kid could leave on a tropical vacation instead of hang out with me over the holidays. And I don't know about you, but I have my local branch manager's home number on speed dial. And I'm positive he or she would be super happy to stop their yuletide festivities to call up her support staff and just go against bank policy and open a vault just because I needed them to.

Dude, if ANY bank did something like this for me, I'd have to make sure I kept my passport handy because I'd need it to fly back from Neverland where the Lost Boys run the financial institutions and Captain Hook is a government licensed masseuse and Wendy Lady makes cheeseburgers and Long Island Iced-Teas.

I don't know why marketers think they have to make up these nonsense stories to make their client seem benevolent. We all know this crap doesn't happen unless you live in a population starved town where you personally know the bank manager because you're married to their brother or you ARE their brother. Does anyone think this actually happens? I know you can't show the reality of banking for average Americans. You can't show how you credit debits before deposits. I know you can't show how you will charge overdraft fees to an account that has a pending deposit from a personal check that would have covered all current debits. I know you can't show how you decide to assign a limit on ATM transactions, ensuring customers will have to make two trips so they can cover their rent.

I know you can't show the REAL aspects of banking, but that leaves the unrealities and I'd rather not see how the better half lives. How about a talking bowl of cereal telling me your bank doesn't charge ATM fees. How about a grandma saying she was able to pick out a Star Trek bank card. How about a dancing pen saying they have a clean lobby and a lot of convenient locations. Make it so weird that I have no choice but to just assume the facts are correct.

The problems with these homey ads is they're so banal and sterile they are insanely unrealistic. Maybe they're just unrealistic to me. They aren't creative, they aren't doing anything but make me want to avoid this product because if the company can't tell their own ad group that they're out of touch, I don't want to deal with them.

Man, I'd hate to work at an ad firm. To think you have to abandon other ideas in favor of what we actually see would drive me to drink.

Yes I'm not doing anything important right now. Carry on.


Car Adverts

I'm driving home the other day and I stop behind a truck with the name of a dealership on the back. I know you've seen these.

It got me thinking if there were other products that you buy that have the name of the reseller on them in such a prominent location. I couldn't think of any. My Phillips TV doesn't say Best Buy on it. My Sketchers shoes don't say Target on the sole. My David Newmark home doesn't say Keller Williams on the garage door. How are dealerships able to get away with what amounts to free advertising? I'm guessing there's a law somewhere that lets them do this, but I'd sure like to hear the reason. I think after 10 years of owning a car you could go back and say you've been a rolling commercial for them and you'd like some royalties, or when you buy the car, ask for something off the top for being an advertisement or they'll have to take that placard/sticker off there. My favorite are the license plate holders, classy.

Can you tell I don't have anything to write about? I'll leave you with this nugget of horror.

Carry on.


100 Artists Project Update

I'm going to cross post from the 100 Artists blog, do forgive the impertinence.

If all falls into place, this run of the project will be complete by next week. One person has said they've mailed theirs, three more have said it's sitting on their desk just waiting to be...I don't know, signed, inked, colored, stamped. So I'm sure there will be more than 100 yet I'm not decided on whether or not to include everything I get till the end of the year or cap it at 100. I'm leaning toward the later. I'd like the first run of the book to match the name of the project, then after that we can freewheel a bit more.

To that end there are still some things needing to be done.

  • I need an A3 size scanner. I can scan on the 8.5x11 scanner I have, but I don't want to clip artwork and reassembling would be a pain. Mustek offers them for $150 so if you feel like donating to the cause but are unable to draw, this would be a great way to show your appreciation for the endeavor.
  • Still not sure about how to deliver the actual artwork. The poll showed more people in favor of the portfolio display binders, but again, those will only hold 96. If you have info on a better display binder that would hold 100 pieces, please contact me.
  • Once all the art is scanned (see the first bullet) I'll need to set up a store front to sell the books as well. I don't know what type of books are available or what should be charged for them. I know people have offered information about some seriously top notch print-on-demand services, but I'm looking for easy.
Now on to some other items.

With the near completion of the first run, I'm already turning my thoughts to round two. The Big Mailer will be floating around for a long time, but that shouldn't stop additional projects from running. But this time it'll be wide open. I'll find small page count books, I'll have it open for digital artists (don't know how I'd do that yet) and different types of books would go to different charity funds. For example, for all past artists who have kids or who teach kids, we'll have an under 18 run and all proceeds would go toward an organization dedicated to children's health or housing or education. We could have a women artists run and proceeds go to Safe Place. A digital only art run could go toward the One Laptop per Child Foundation.

I like all these ideas, but the trick is to be able to get the word out and make sure the right amount of money is raised and more artists can participate. I don't doubt that we'll ever run out of artists, but I may run out of ways to find them, so I need your help. If you haven't already, print off the PDF and take it to your schools and coffee shops and places of business. Send submissions to major blogs and aggregation sites. Chat the idea up in forums. I've been doing this on my own for 9 months now and this is about as far as I can take it. A few folks have posted art or an entry on their sites about it and that's wonderful. If you haven't yet, it would sure help get the project some recognition.

Enough pleading.

I still need people to interview. If you're interested in doing an instant message interview that takes about 45-60 minutes, please email me and we'll set something up.

Thanks all, more to come soon.


Holiday Spirit

Rowan cutting up
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
What a busy weekend. First, we all drug our collective asses out of bed to get to LMA's school by 8:50 in the A of M for her "Cocoa with Santa" holiday event. Each grade participated in a music performance, then there was cookie decorating, a small gift bazaar and finally photos with Santa.

It was packed and loud and pretty typical when you think of school functions. Most parents were watching it all through a view finder or display screen.

G-man and Ms. A spent the afternoon taking a nap, and LMA even volunteered to lay down for a while on her own. I was apparently the only one who didn't take a hint and close my eyes for a while. At 5:30 we raced downtown to participate in the local annual tradition of the tree lighting where John Aielli hosts a sign along on the south lawn of the capital building. After the sing along, a tree is lit and the people are encouraged to wander around Congress Avenue and hit all the eateries and shops that have stayed open late for the event.

We spent our time rolling down a grassy hill.

Ms. A then rushed us back home because she had a shoot. The groom of a wedding she'd done last year works as a security consultant or contractor or something and hired her to do some publicity shots at Antone's for some big VIP thing.

It turns out the VIPs were David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Billy Gibbons. Off duty/retired NYPD detectives were security and Ms. A was informed that she could not take photos unless authorized to, meaning no just point and shoot of any of the famous people unless the security people okayed it. She was actually hassled as being a paparazzi even though she was being paid by the security company to do publicity shots.

At one point (and this is a third-hand story so bear with me) it was Ms. A, her security guy (guy who hired her) and Billy Gibbons hanging around a table and Gibbons had to go to the restroom so he asked this guy and Ms. A to watch over his guitar, otherwise known as Miss Pear or Miss Pearly Gates. They said of course and he asked if it was going to be in good hands, Ms. A says of course. He comes back and hands her his business card and says that if she gave him a way to contact her, she'd have a contact for life. It sounds odd typed out, and I'm sure guys of that level of fame say that and hand out cards to hundreds of people a year, but Gibbons is from Houston and I'm sure he likes coming to Austin so who knows.

The good news is, Ms. A now has a pretty good standing gig with this security company that apparently caters to some...well, shit...David Letterman people!

I'm living vicariously. Not many people you can meet drawing dead leaders as mechanical men.

We also haven't put up a tree, but we've put up lights and my nutcracker collection. We left the tree with the old house or threw it away or something, so we have to go get a new one. I'm always amazed around this time of year how much I look forward to it and how utterly frazzled and easily ticked off I get. I was outside with the lights for about 3 minutes before I became my dad (and his dad, and his dad.) And I had the easy lights too, the ones in the clear tube that sort of coil around stuff? Yeah, I'm stable.

Ms. A steers clear, she can't stand putting stuff up for this reason. It's stressful. But every year I put on a Christmas cartoon or holiday music and dream of wassail and snow and Dickens. I don't know when it'll hit me that December 25th (or 22nd, whatever) is going to be 75° and I'll probably be working and Nate King Cole won't welcome me at home with a cup of eggnog.

Carry on.


Just So Tired

40/365 Glasses
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I got my camera back today.

I went to NY and brought my camera. I brought my camera for two reasons. I wanted to get a few shots of neat stuff and maybe of my friend and her friends having a good time. I wanted to keep up with my 365 Days thing on Flickr.

The camera would not work, or at least I thought.

So I take a photo of me and a coffee cup while in Houston. I take a few shots of my friend, the subway, the view from the plane. I notice when I turn on the camera, it says something like "card cannot be used." I flip out and try to reformat the card. That works ok and I'm able to take some shots. But then I turn it off and back on and I get the same message. After I format, the card says it has no images. I'm basically frelled and figure I'll just pretend I don't have a camera.

I get home, pull the camera out and it works fine and I have about 12 pictures on it.

Mother fucker.

So of course I'm down on the stupid thing now and refuse to use it for a couple days. I start looking at new point-n-click cameras, a new battery and new cards for this one, the whole deal. I take it with me to a thanksgiving dinner and leave it there on accident. Of course my brother in law was nice enough to leave a picture of his ass on it, so now I'm afraid to even touch it again.

I overcame that skeevy feeling and finally took a 365 shot, but my heart wasn't in it. I also tried doing some drawing, but there was nothing there. I don't know why, and it's just not tonight. I need to start eating better, taking vitamins more than once a month and probably need to quit smoking. I sit all day and then come home exhausted from not doing anything and I just don't want to do anything.

But I want to write.

Seeing my friend in NY made (makes) me want to write poetry again. I tried it for a bit in college and found I wasn't too bad at it. I told Ms. A about a story idea I had and I'd love to write it as a novel. The only thing I've been doing lately is watching Farscape online and reading before bed. I've missed all the shows and movies I've wanted to see. I don't help much around the house lately. I do what I can to get the kids in bed so I can go to bed too.

I'm pretty sure it's the lack of sunlight and the cold. I'd always thought I liked the cold, but maybe it's sapping my strength. I'm warm blooded as though I were a space heater and maybe the cold just saps my energy.

Maybe I'm making excuses for being depressed.

But at least I got my camera back.


Public Opinion

The first rule of keeping a journal on the internet is knowing it's public and that anyone at any time can read it.

The second rule is not paying attention to what those people say.

Recently a site called The Advice Goddess rana small bit about how women value birthdays more than men. The author cited a post Ms. A wrote about two and a half years ago about me forgetting her birthday. It was an amusing post and actually more search results for "husband forgets birthday" hit my site than any other search, well, second only to the picture of Karl Urban I'd used for something.

So I read the post and it was harmless, just a simple query, "Why do we care so much about birthdays?" But people began reading the rest of the site and comments started to come up about Ms. A's and my relationship and the uniqueness of it. Most were fine even encouraging, and a couple were of the typical anonymous snarky variety. I believe the terms "limp wristed" and "spineless" were used.

Typically that would get me pretty steamed. I tend to get my hackles raised by such comments, but lately I just don't give two shits. I mean, who cares? I write for me and if some people think of me as weak based on just what I write here - well I feel pretty bad for them.

But of course I can't let it go at that, so I started looking at my life and wondered if I really am sort of a namby-pamby pushover with no backbone to speak of. I have to say, I don't think that's the case. I mean if we're just judging on sheer testosterone, I'm fairly certain I'm chock full of the stuff. I'm one hairy bastard and I have been known to have a bad temper. I pick causes and stick with them. I'm passionate about things that are bad in this world and equally vicious with my praise and commendations.

But if it's sheer manliness we're worried about, let's take a look at that. I've got a good jump shot. I've fired several guns including a heartstoppingly large shotgun. I know how to bar-b-que and make a slap shot. I have to shave four times a day. I know what the infield fly rule is and what it means to be down by contact. I've father two children AND I have a job to support them. I don't take medicines because I think it makes me look weak. I smoke and drink and have a love of tools. I'd rather play golf than go bowling and it doesn't take me long to take a shower.

Pretty average manly qualities I'd wager. (Wager, that's right, I can kick people's ass at poker.)

But, you know, because of this whole thing with my marriage, I can see how someone would take JUST THAT and run with it. I suppose I should maybe dress myself up a bit and talk about how when Ms. A told me this about her sexuality, I beat her up and then went and drank a case of Molson with the boys while we drove around in our El Camino smashing mailboxes. I know that may have been left out, let's just assume it happened. I probably failed to mention that I don't vote and I listen to top 40 radio and the only bit of news I know about is that Miami is still winless in 11 games. (Wait, I DO know that, huh...)

I'm sure those people have read back to my college and high school days when I was in theater and choir and wrote poetry and how I protested to bring troops home from the Gulf War and just ASSUMED I was a tree-hugging fairy...wait, I never wrote about that. Well shit. Maybe I just said I was in college and they took that as a sign of leftist elite education, you know, from my state community college years. That's probably it.

I do, I really do feel bad for those folks. I understand that what I write is public. I wouldn't put stuff out there if I didn't think that somewhere, someone might have a reaction. I'm maggoty with awareness of that fact. There are some things I won't EVER write here, some things I may not even tell my best friends. But this I thought was okay to discuss because it shows people are human and the idea of traditional anything is as archaic as loin cloths and hitting a potential mate over the head with a tree branch. I don't consider myself on the forefront of human evolution, I have the toes and forehead to prove otherwise, but I do consider myself a bit more understanding of what it is to be human and how best to interact with my circle of humans.

I didn't write asking for help, I didn't write it here first and THEN talk to my family and friends. Everyone knew what was going on well before that and in some cases before I even said anything. It's not about manliness, it's not about having a backbone. It's about respect. What happened was unfortunate, sad, heartbreaking and traumatic. Making a big stink about it and covering my ears and screaming LA LA LA LA LA, doesn't make it go away, and it doesn't make it better. Running away doesn't make it better. Ignoring it doesn't make it better. What we're doing was done after months of working out the best solution to the issue. I spoke my mind and I got some results that I'm happy with.

Manliness is looking out for your kids, keeping track of yourself and not letting anyone give you any bullshit along the way. Manliness is owning up to your problems and solving them without violence or harsh and ultimately meaningless words. Manliness is getting up every day and doing your job and then coming home and having time to play with your kids, fixing electrical problems around the house, killing scary bugs. Then you have some booze and a smoke, read a book with lasers or fighter planes and go to bed.

Manliness is not anonymously berating someone from the security of your ISP.

Carry on, men.



Here, have a regular blog post. No no, it's on the house.

The family went and saw Bee Movie. It was cute, but it felt like it was trying too hard. There were a lot of funny bits, I will give it that. My favorite part, hands down, was when the main character was flying through the cab of a truck and you hear the radio say, "From NPR News in Washington, I'm Carl Castle." I'm a giant nerd for laughing at that, but it was the best bit. I think Carl must have lost a bet.

I just finished reading Larry Niven's Ringworld. I'm on this classics kick and will probably try to find more sci-fi or fiction done in the middle of the 20th century. You know the books, the ones everyone is trying to get you to read. I blew through Forever War and it was sort of entertaining but not what people had made it out to be. Ringworld left me equally as lukewarm. I don't know if it was level of intellect or the time in my life, but I just couldn't seem to wrap my brain around the plot, or if there was one. It was like reading a bad dream, the narrative was all over the place and when people slowed down to talk it was in this technobabble exposition, as though the reader needed a degree in quantum mathematics just to grasp the basics of the story.

There was a bit in the book where the main characters travel by transporters, basically. I forget their name. Think of a phone booth that zaps you to another location. Later on an alien homeworld, they find similar modes of transportation, but no booths, just open platforms. This allowed them to basically run several hundred miles in a short time, but they missed seeing this wonderful alien world. The whole book was like this scene, it moved really fast, across ridiculous, almost unbelievable distances, but you never felt like you were seeing anything. Scene after scene I was left thinking there would be more, but it just moved on. They were in a storm, then suddenly in a floating castle, then suddenly someone was dead, then not dead, then they were being attacked.

I hate to say this about a classic, Hugo Award winning book, but it was just shit-ass writing. If I'd have writing like this in college I'd have failed. If I wrote a story like this now, it wouldn't sell. The concept was tenuous, the alien/human interactions were forced, and the scope of their travels was just stupid in its immenseness. I can't honestly recommend this book to anyone. The idea itself was interesting, but the execution was horribly amateur.

If anyone has suggestions on other classic science fiction, I'll take a shot at it.

So now I'm doing a shirt design for my mom, flushmount for Cheryl, holiday cards to mail out and I have to hire someone to stand behind me and kick my ass to get some lettering done for a couple people. Oh and the annual Penciljack holiday art swap is going on, plus I have to get my drawing done for th 100 Artists Project.

Good thing I'm super motivated to do fuck-all.

So I'm doing flushmounts and watching football and I see a commercial where a guy tricks his wife into thinking he missed picking up their son from practice. She comes outside and they're standing there with a new car, you know, with a fucking bow on top.

I hate those commercials. Has anyone got a car for Christmas? Does anyone know where to find giant bows? My guess is you get them at car lots. "Merry Christmas, honey. I got you a $400 a month payment for the next five years. Ho ho ho!" I'm sure if you tried that in real life, the honest reaction would be, "Oh jeez that's nice baby, but I hate those cars."

I'm all kinds of black coffee bitter today.

Carry on.


Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for my little girl's amazing mind, quick wit, glorious gap-toothed smile and her love of reading.

I'm thankful my son is happy and loving and sweet and crazy as bat in a belfry that's on fire.

I'm thankful Ms. A is happy and has finally found a reason to accept who she is. I'm thankful we're still friends.

I'm grateful for all the times our families have helped us in the past year. Grateful for all the support they continue to offer and for all the open mindedness.

I'm grateful for being employed and having opportunities. I know that at any time that could end and things could get so much worse.

I'm thankful for the friends I have, online and off. For those readers who visit the site regularly and have to put up with the most random of subjects and the most depressing of expressions. For those fellow artists who've inspired me, who I've borrowed from and who have wanted to work together.

I'm thankful I don't take a bucketful of meds to keep me sane and healthy. Even though my joints hurt and I've been trying to lose weight for years, I'm grateful I'm mobile and still able to make a jump shot and kick a ball and run a few yards.

I'm grateful for whatever deity gave me the ability to turn muse into art.

I'm thankful things are changing and people are becoming happier, we all deserve better most of the time and it's good to see karma swinging back to the benevolent and selfless.

What are you thankful for?


Back from NY

New York was cold. But it was a cold that constantly threatened to warm up at any second. The clouds moved fast and never lingered long enough to do anything but produce a substance my friend called "snain." If you new the right places, if you knew the right people, the city and the weather would cease to chill and it would open like a well heated subway car.

I don't necessarily like seeing touristy sites. I'd rather go to a place to live as the natives. There's a reason places are popular, and most times it's not because of a statue or building or garden or event center. Popular places have all those, but there's something else that makes Los Angeles or Paris or London or Tokyo or New York destinations as they are. People wouldn't flock to these places in millions because of a statue. I never want to be a tourist, tourists are people that need help moving from block to block. Tourists pay $9 for a $2 beer. Tourists sleep in biologically and culturally sterilized environments and move around in a bubble in which the only way to see is through a lens-finder.

I didn't want to be that, I wanted to just be. I wanted to hang out as though I was just meeting up and not coming in to visit. And I got that. The majority of my time was spent on trains and in pubs. And not pubs like we have here that are run by weathered punks and hot college girls paying for their premed courses. These pubs are run by and patronized by Irish. The neighborhood my friend lives in is an Irish heavy area and it was wonderful to me. You can keep all the glitz and pageantry and chaos of Times Square, I'd be happy living in Sunnyside Village, drinking Magners (no ice, heathens) and weathering the NY winters in a small apartment with wood floors. It's the same feeling I get going anywhere, I don't want to SEE the place, I want to BE IN the place, as though it were my own. And that's probably why it's hard to leave at the end.

But that's not why I went to New York.

I went to New York to visit a friend. I've never written about this friend because there was such a distance and such a time dilation that it made my eyes fill with cobwebs just thinking about it, even if my heart and stomach traded places. This was a friend who I'd shared a tumultuous few years with in Colorado when I was in college. The details, while good for a few chapters of a dime-store novel, are not important. What's important is that I've always had these feelings and these memories. This girl was always my missed opportunity, my if I had another chance. My trip to New York was to see if there was anything left in the tank worth setting a match to.

I'd sent this friend an email a few months back detailing my current life and what a train wreck it had been. I also decided it was a good time to share some additional facts about my emotional state as it pertained to her. I had already opened the floodgates with the separation info, what would it hurt to also let her know that she was still important to me and I'd always kept that small chance alive in case anything ever happened.

Well guess what, something did happen.

So I didn't go to see Ellis Island or Ground Zero or Rockefeller Center or 42nd Street. I didn't go to get away and relax. I didn't go because I needed to find myself. I went to find out what happens when your "if ever" chance came along. Sadly I still don't know. I apologize to all those who I told I was going so I could get away from Austin for a few days and just relax.

I think I even have to apologize to this friend.

This friend invited me to visit after reading my 20 gut pile up of an email, but we did little in the way of talking about anything once I was there. I can't blame her. After so long I dump on her with a galactic ton of emotional detritus and looking back I can't exactly fault her for not having a lens with which to focus on the revelation. Her life, and I will never do it justice with simple phrasing, has been a singularity of violence, abandonment, debauchery and disdain. The last day of my trip she gave me a letter she'd written in response to mine.

I'm glad she didn't give it to me on Friday, but I wish it had a better answer. The answer wasn't, "Go away" or "What are you kidding?" or "I'll call the cops!" and I'm not stupid enough to think that it was leaving any kind of door open. I'm left with an unsure feeling stronger than when I left. Before it was just pie in the sky imagination, with lack of a strong discussion and consensus it hasn't moved much passed that, but now I'm reminded of why I had such a soul upheaval the last time we were near each other.

I didn't want to be a black cloud because it was a weekend a lot of her friends had plans as well so I did my best to not be a hindrance. It was awkward and for nearly 72 hours I held back and held my tongue and when I just couldn't anymore, well...fuck, I don't know. All I have are clichéd words to describe it and I know none of them will work. And knowing I'm talking about a poet, I don't want to use words that seem like I'm trying too hard.

Ironically, I think the gist of the letter was, "I like you as a friend." There was more to it and reasons behind it and I think that's why I'm still swirling is because I'm thick and apparently impervious to poetry. She says she's a broken person and I wanted to scream that I already knew that and it didn't matter, but I never would belittle someone's looking glass. So I said thank you and went to drink more.

Reading that letter was the only time anything I wanted to talk about came up the entire weekend. No one to blame but myself, I went out there saying I had no expectations when inside I had a list of check boxes the length of highway. And it was completely selfish, but right now I can't think of anything else. I can't think of my job, my kids, my art (laughable) my friends. This is about me and my happiness and it's been too damn long since I did that. It's probably really out of character, but there it is. I can't unthink these things, it's who I am and what my brain does. I've always wanted to be close to this person and in a lot of ways very sad I couldn't.

And it's not because I moved to Texas, she was long out of my reach before that. But things have changed since then for both of us, and yet I don't know if they've chanced too much.


This is probably more than any one person would want to hear about any vacation, but you know what, it's better than making up a story about why I can't focus at work or why I don't feel like drawing.

Plus, my camera busted and I have no pictures of the trip. Probably best I didn't.

Carry on.


Response to Suddenlink

Anonymous commenting notwithstanding, here was my response to Suddenlink.

Thank you for the information. I realize deregulation may cause some
needed discussions about what channels you have to carry versus what
channels customers actually want. I don't know how that applies to HD
versions of network channels if the affiliate is actually offering it.

If you send anything to the marketing department, send this: I'd
gladly drop half of the channels offered just to be able to watch
Heroes in HD. If anyone within your company has any power to push the
idea of a la carte programming, I'd be much happier, as I'm sure would
a lot of people.

Also, just a tip from someone who used to work in cable customer
service, next time you cut and paste pre written responses, at least
change the font so they all look the same. The answer I got looks
like it was written by a committee.

Thanks again for the info and I look forward to a continued successful

I only know enough about cable programming to know that I need to research it more. I know that deregulation hasn't worked as expected, it hasn't promoted competition and it hasn't kept media giants from creating monopolies and it seems that a new bill is introduced each year to address a lot of these nearly 12 year old issues.

That's not to say you don't have a choice. You can not watch TV (probably the best choice) or you can get a satellite dish which basically gives you the exact same channels as cable, or 150 channels you don't watch. For around $70 a month, I end up watching reruns of sitcoms, kids shows and network TV. I don't have any premium channels or sports packages. I watch hockey when it's on and football. I don't know what Ms. A watches other than The Office and Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy.

I'd be willing to drop all the channels they offered, pay the same price, but only get 20 stations, if it meant I could pick. I can understand their position, they have to offer slots for all channels, but they can only carry them if it's marginally profitable to them, which seems like a Catch 22. But here's my eternal question: Is anyone watching the BYU channel? How many more people are watching Fine Living than NBC? Does the Style network really have more viewers than Comedy Central?

But it's all about politics. Even with the Family and Consumer Choice Act proposal, it's less about what consumers want and what nanny-state organizations don't want people to see. The PTC wants a la carte, not because they think paying for Oxygen network is a waste of money, but because they don't want to see Janet Jackson's nipples. Smaller channels are worried that a la carte programming will drive advertisers and subscribers away, to which I say, if no one wants your product, the market has spoken.

It can't be easy to regulate decency and deliverable media. I don't envy the job lawmakers have. I also don't really have a position either way on even if it should be regulated. How much do we need the FCC to be involved? Is this a state or federal issue? If I don't mind the implied violence on Law & Order, does that mean you have to watch it? If you are opposed to it, does it mean I can't? Television is an odd animal. It was easy when all you had to do was buy the set, now you pay for programming but you end up getting more than you wanted and in some cases you pay a lot for it but still don't get what you want. Imagine going to the grocery store and buying $1000 worth of groceries of which you'll only use 10% and they may not have any eggs or milk. Imagine going to buy a DVD of a classic movie and paying $200 to get maybe the first hour of it, but also 10 more movies written by the same people that you may or may not like. Imagine going to a restaurant and paying $500 up front for a dinner in which they bring you enough food you could eat for a month but you couldn't take any of it home with you and they don't have any water to drink.

There are undoubtedly bigger things to worry about, which makes topics like this seem so shallow. I can't understand why offering people what they want is a big deal while on the other side of the wire someone is trying to make a living creating content and they feel like they aren't getting a fare shake in the market place. But just because your product is offered, doesn't mean it HAS to be included with the product I ACTUALLY want.

Does it?


Suddenlink and NBC HD

**There's an update to this story here, so when you finish reading this post, click on that link to hear the news about KXAN and Suddenlink. Carry on.**

So I emailed Suddenlink about a week ago asking them why they don't have NBC HD. With the realization that the affiliate station has to offer it first, and the knowledge that a block away Time Warner customers had NBC HD, I felt my question was a worth while one.

Here's the response. I had to do it as an image so you can see the five different fonts used as they cut-n-pasted their way past having to respond with anything meaningful.

suddenlink customer response

Talk about fluff. Not only did my question not get answered, I think I lost IQ points by reading it.

Vacation Funds

Cardboard Robot
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Hey viewers. I'm going to be going out of town next weekend and while my airfare and lodging are already taken care of, it would sure be neat if I had a little spending cash to buy drinks and food stuff.

To that end, now would be a GREAT time to get those holiday orders in for a robot portrait, random robot, hobo, faerie or superhero. Remember, each order is a hand drawn, custom piece, inked and colored on 5x7 or 8x10 bristol stock and each drawing is videoed and put on YouTube. If you'd like a CD of the video that can also be arranged.

I've also still got a stack of robot presidents that are needing a good home. This idea hasn't exactly taken off and I'll likely go back to doing sequentials and comic strips for my own bemusement so get while the gettin's good.




In case anyone doesn't already know - and if you don't, shame on you - the Futurama movie "Bender's Big Score" will be out in 20 days. It's a direct to DVD movie so don't go camping out in front of a theater. The show will also see a (as yet) limited run of new episodes next year. They'll be written as three movies, but then chopped up into TV length episodes.

On a related note, I had no idea the theme song (which I'd considered one of the best them songs on television) is an adaptation of a 1967 song by Pierre Henry called "Psyché Rock." Makes me a little sad that it's not original, but it also reminds me that the folks behind the show are a broadly inspired and learned crew with more general knowledge under their belt than I could acquire in several life times. If you don't believe me, watch the DVDs with the commentary on.

Take THAT, you stupid corn.


MOO.com Holiday Card Competition

So I'm getting ready to do some drawings. On my list are a faerie queen for a friend, a full sized clockwork George Washington and Christmas cards. Then I stumbled upon a Boing Boing article about MOO.com running a Flickr pool Christmas card contest. (Very meta.)

So I entered the four I had done over the recent years. If you hurry they may still be on the front page.


If not you can browse and see them in the group.


There's no need to vote or anything, the contest is handled by judges so hopefully they'll like mine.

Back to work.


Baby Jawbone

What a face!
Originally uploaded by jawboneradio.
Fellow hobo artist and "Best of Cleveland" podcaster Len Peralta and his wife Nora are again proud parents of a health baby girl.

Head over to the site and help me welcome the new one to the world.


Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat!
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
Another Halloween has come and gone. This year was definitely a good year in that it wasn't too stressful come Trick-or-Treat time.

G-man was the cutest dinosaur in the world and Lil Miss Austin was a hodge-podge fairy princess. Her original costume was Cinderella but Super Dad washed the thing and it fell apart. That'll learn me for not reading washing directions. Who makes a kids costume you can't put in a washing machine, anyway? It probably had lead it as it is.

Anywhoosits, we were all ready to hit our street for a bit and then go see the Aunt and Uncle in Cedar Park who had decorated their house for the big night. Well, as I was putting out our pumpkins and a bowl of candy with a "please just take one" sign, the dog got out. I didn't see her get out, she must have bolted while I was inside getting a pen. So Ms. A dropped us off at the end of our street and the kids and I hit some houses while she went on a bad dog hunt.

The dog was found, my phone survived being on top of her car for about an hour and the kids had fun. Turns out, our street kicked total ass. We only had to go two blocks and we had full bags. Every other house was decorated and had people standing in driveways handing out candy. Most of time you didn't even have to knock. Even the adults walking with their kids were dressed up in some really nice costumes. And there were people everywhere. It was like a block party, I couldn't believe it. We were actually worried that because we were on a main street that's kind of busy and that because it's always been a relatively quiet subdivision that it was going to be lame. It was not.

By contrast, Aunt and Uncle CP's neighborhood was like a ghost town. They had craftily dressed up their house with webs and graves and general ghoulishness and there was another house that had apparently gone all out to create an almost Disney-like tableau of horrors, but other than that it was pretty dead. It's odd what some neighborhoods and streets will or won't do. It'll be interesting to see what kind of yuletide decorations come up.

We left their house, hit an Applebees and got some dinner and then went home and crashed. Ms. A stayed up till probably 3am working (as usual.) And that was it.

I don't have my entries from last year, but I'm sure I pissed and moaned about how Halloween is my favorite holiday but I never get as involved as I'd like. It just seems that every time October 31st rolls around, our family is in some kind of turmoil that really prevents us from going all out on costumes or decorations. I haven't been to a costume party since Houston and this spring we had a garage sale and got rid of our box of general holiday decorations. The kids costumes only came in this last weekend and one was destroyed.

I'd really like to make up the yard at the very least. I would love to make tombstones and zombies and things hanging off the roof and have spooky music piped out front with a smoke machine or a dry ice pool or something, and have it all lit up with spots or strobes. I don't want to be that house that had over 3000 jack-o-lanterns, that's just insane. But I do feel sad each time November 1st rolls around and all I have left to do is eat all the kids chocolate and throw pumpkins away.

Someone help me remember to start in August next year.

And for all you Christians, happy All Saints' Day.

Carry on.


Presidents For Sale

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I got the collection of president sketches back today and mailed off the ones that were spoken for. If you'd like one of your own, you can let me know or head over to Robot Portraits and use the 5x7 Paypal link.

Here are the ones already taken.

Both Roosevelts

However, if you'd like one of those, I can always redraw them. Just let me know.

I have an idea for another project which I'll be starting soon, so get your orders in now to avoid delay.

Carry on.

Growing Up

growing up
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
Ms. A took this today and I had to share it. It's a wonderful shot, and not a bit depressing.


Ben Rollman, Award Winning Artist

18/365 Award
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Seriously, after 34 years on this planet, 29 of them drawing, you'd think I'd have won an award or something by now.

You'd be wrong.

My Robot Presidents was on display at my work for a special halloween event. I won the "People's Choice" award. It wasn't an art gallery or anything, but it's still recognition and that's always groovy.

It also got people interested in getting work done for them, which is doubly good. I have some drawing to do this weekend anyway so it'd be great to add more to it.

Carry on.


What I Feel Like

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I don't know what happened to the toons. I'll get back to them...some time. I mean, I'm still drawing, just not them. Like most things lately I'm not inspired to do them. My brother said I should do the 2008 Presidential Candidates as robots, and that got all kinds of wheels turning. Apparently I haven't exercised the droid demons yet.

This little toon was the exception, it's just a small gig for a past client. They wanted something for a plaque award for people who aren't doing well, I thought it was pretty funny and was glad I could help. It's also the first time an old client came back.

With that said, I'm going to have to stop doing a lot of the free stuff. I've been volunteering to be an editor or letterer for some folks and I just don't have it in me right now. As a friend said, "You just don't have your heart in it."

So anycrap, I don't want to turn this into another pity post.

However, I did sprain BOTH ankles playing basketball today. At the SAME TIME. Aren't I just the athletic shogun. So now I'm tired AND in pain. Good thing I have two kids who understand phrases like, "Daddy needs 15 minutes to lay down," and "Please don't jump on my legs," and "AAARRRGGHHH!!!" They're super.

The good new is tomorrow the Colorado Rockies are going to the World Series. I have an HD TV, an excuse to sit on the couch. Life could be worse I suppose.


Heave Ho!

Heave Ho!
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
My mom, aunt and cousin came into town for a couple days to see us. One of our plans was to go to the Elgin Pumpkin Festival at Evergreen Farms. We got a late start and I read the directions wrong so by the time we got there we had about 45 minutes to do what little there was to do there.

We did the main two things; go on the pumpkin hunt and then paint your pumpkins. The kids were ok with it all until Lil Miss A had a meltdown when we left because she couldn't have a snow cone. Typical stuff, but it ensured my cousin (who is 10 years younger than me) would be waiting much longer before having any kids of his own.

It was a pleasant if rushed visit. We had BBQ for dinner and then my cousin and I went drinking on 6th St. where we met up with an old college friend of his. My mom and aunt watched LMA for us, G-man was already in bed. We got home around 1am and they went back to the hotel.

In the hub bub, I left my camera at the BBQ place. Luckily they had it and I picked it back up just a few minutes ago.

I'm going to spend the rest of the day napping and trying to mount all my presidents onto a couple big sheets of poster board for the art show. My dad claimed the Mt. Rushmore presidents and Ms. A said she wanted Clinton and Reagan. A Flickr contact ordered LBJ and Polk, so those are off the market. The rest are up for grabs at $10 a piece if anyone would like one.

That's all for now.


Presidents Video

Music care of Jonathan Coulton.


Current Obsession Complete

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
All 43 presidents are finished. Yee haw!

Full set here.

This was fun and it'll be interesting to see what people say at the little art and craft showing at work. I need to catch up on some commissions now, but I'll be thinking of my next weird little project. I'll probably do another couple alphabets, those were fun. I had an idea for fictional sci-fi characters, but fully rendered and colored, not a one hour thing. I haven't found a good one-hour alphabet topic yet.


No Strip, but have a President

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I've only got 4 more to go and then they'll all be done. A friend asked why I'm doing this. I didn't and don't have a good answer. I like robots. I like the idea of robots. I like reading about fictional and real life works of automation. Some of my favorite books and movies involved robots.

These drawings weren't meant to me much more than a bit of quick sketching. I've been straying so far from what I loved doing (drawing) that I think I needed to draw as much as I could in a short amount of time. I needed to smell pencil and eraser and develop the calluses on my fingers and see the smudge of the lead again. These pictures are #2 pencil on 5x8 index cards and that's it; no photoshop, no brushes or inks. It was very simple and very refreshing.

Admittedly I know little about engineering or physics or robots. The machine leaders-of-men I've made follow less a practical emphasis and more an aesthetic composition. The bits of metal follow the form of the face, the shape of the metal doesn't dictate how the face is made. For each of these I quickly found the distinctive facial tricks and just lumped some rivets and creases into place. The hardest ones took maybe a half an hour.

I guess I did it to remind myself that after all the weird and mostly failed attempts in other media, I still have the ability to both draw what I see and be a bit creative in the process. I'm still good with a pencil. I quote The Princess Bride, "...when a job went wrong, you went back to the beginning."

The art show is next week, I'll be done with these by Wednesday. For Friday I'll have another 6 panel strip up for you three.

Go Rockies!


Almost Done

Almost Done
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I busted ass this weekend to get as many of these done as I could. I'm 7 away and I can probably get that done today or tomorrow.

The originals of Polk and LBJ are spoken for, but the rest are up for sale if you'd like them. They're going to a small art show at my work this week but they're free to a good home after that.


Comic up

Sorry for the delay, dear readers. To make up for it, I'll give you three extra panels.

The Presidents project has really taken up a lot of time, I think I bit off more than I can chew by thinking I could do 43 of these in 15 days. I'm up to 20 now and I need to get 23 more done in 7 days. Doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm doing most of them at work and I shouldn't be, but I don't have time in the evening really.

Ah who am I kidding, I've got plenty of time. But lately I've got no energy or motivation.

Any crap, new strip is up. This is the beginning of a bit of a mini story I had planned on for a while but it had different people involved. I think it brings the funny by having a robot that's scared of spiders.

Plans for the weekend include drawing a lot, cleaning what Ms. A doesn't and playing with the kids. What does your weekend have in store?



I just finished Hunters of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert.


I'm a big Dune fan and a fan of Anderson's books as well. I enjoyed the Prequels of Dune and Legends of Dune trilogies H&A wrote so this was exciting. Hunters and the follow up Sandworms of Dune are basically the fabled "Dune 7" that fans have always talked about. The last Frank Herbert Dune novel Chapterhouse: Dune left the universe in a bit of a cliff hanger. His son Brian was able to find notes to Dune 7 in a safety deposit box and with Anderson's help they've apparently finished what his father had started or at least had wanted to finish.

They also claim there will be more books written in the Dune universe, more than likely telling the popular stories of the legends like Paul Atreides, his father Duke Leto and his mother Jessica.

I actually hope they don't. I guess that's part of being a literary fiction icon. Tolkien's son Christopher recently published a "lost" book Children of Hurin where we see expanded stories based on older characters. Asimov's work is not safe either, with Brin and Bear and Benford inserting many Foundation stories into the already vast and epic tales of Hari Seldon and R. Daneel Olivaw. It makes me wonder about Clarke and his 2001 series. He's 89 years old, probably won't be around much longer (though he's not in the top 100 of the Rotten Dead Pool) and I'm sure many B or C list writers are chomping at the bit to tell more Frank Poole stories. Maybe Clarke has some untold stories stashed away. Maybe Stephen Baxter will have to find those since Clarke doesn't have a son of his own.

One of my bigger hang ups about reading sci-fi, fiction in general, is that I don't have anyone with whom I can chat about the book after reading it. There's a book club at work but it's more self help and corporate ideological literature than fiction. Most of my friends are either gamers or comic geeks leaving me the odd man out. If you're a Dune fan and have read the latest books, I'd love to hear what you thought.

Also, new strip up tonight and then back on schedule. Carry on.

What is it w


School Fund Raising

Hey gang. For those with kids, you'll appreciate that it's that time of year when the schools send out fund raising literature, catalogs and sign up sheets. This is our first year in public school so we're all very new to it.

The last time I had to sell something from a catalog I was probably 12 and it wasn't a lot of stuff, just different amounts of chalky chocolate bars. The selection was with or without almonds.

To that end, LMA has a catalog fund raiser going on. I fully expect the grandparents and aunts and uncles to do their part. Keep in mind the event is only going on until the 16th (next Tuesday) so act now!

Go to www.sigfund.com to check out the catalog of items. When you get to check out, there's an area to put in student information.

Rowan Rollman
Spring Hill Elementary
Pflugerville, TX

We all thank you for your support.


56 Geeks

Robot Geek
Originally uploaded by ExtraLife.
Scott Johnson, proprietor of Extra Life Radio podcast, has made a kick ass geek poster. There are 56 different kinds of geeks, all lovingly drawn.

The poster is for sale if you'd like one.

You can see the rest of the geeks here.

Neat project and I'm super impressed he got all the way through it. I like seeing list art like this.


Frog Prince
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Yes I know, no strip. I have no idea what's going on with it. I was excited about doing it and now not so much. I have 32 more presidents to draw and I have to do it in 11 days so I may have to put the strip on hold unless I find some wicked motivation, which is bloody unlikely. I apologize to my 3 fans.

This weekend was kinda crap. It started off ok at least. On Friday my division had its annual golf tournament. This was my second time and while I dreaded it both times, both times I had fun. I really am not a good golfer and can only occasionally get a good (fluke) shot, but the team I was on was fun and chatty and there were fajitas afterward.

However, I probably got a bit of sun stroke because I had a headache for the next 48 hours. There was also a batch of fronts moving in so I'm sure the heat plus the change in pressure and the rain were playing havoc with my sinuses. I wasn't much fun to be around and I didn't do much with the kids other than go to the park one day. The rest of the time I was telling them to be quiet and play upstairs.

They were good kids though and spent most of Sunday terrorizing a toad in the back yard.

Plus both the Broncos and UT lost so my TV viewing was frustrating. I got a few little sketches done but nothing important. It felt like a giant waste of a weekend after all was said and done.

I did hear something on KUT this morning that made me happier. This Wednesday, Tree Folks is sponsoring a tree give away. They have three in October and I have to remember to go get a sapling.

I had a pet project idea that I wanted to pitch to a city planning group. There's always development and we're always losing trees. There are groups like Tree Folks who try to help by planting trees, raising awareness of the right kind of trees to plant, etc. What I thought would be a good idea is to have the city or county or even state arboreal experts designate areas where trees can be planted and leave markers for the kinds of trees that would do well there. Then, if you wanted to contribute, you could purchase a tree and plant it. It would cost the city developers less money, it would help the environment and beautification, and it would get people outside more.

The city would have to restrict it to certain areas; you wouldn't be able to dig near anything power or water lines and you wouldn't be able to plant trees larger than a couple feet tall. But there are areas that could use shade, covering, green that aren't being tended because there's not enough man power and funds to buy and plant a lot of trees. It would be easier to have little painted areas (I'm thinking blue) around land in which a tree could be planted, then if someone gets an inkling to, they could. Sign says loquot tree, no taller than 6' to plant, go to Lowes and get a 5' loquot and have fun.

I'd do it.

More art up later.


More presidents

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Three more are up. More up soon. I'd love to knock a bunch of these out this weekend.

I've got a new commission to do, which I have to start, but that's it artistically so I've made work for myself.

Not much going on lately, typical stuff. I guess if you can consider our house typical. New strip up tonight or tomorrow.

And yes, you can run out of sleep.


Delayed Toons

I'm out of sleep so I'm going to bed early. Five hours of sleep a night for a couple months is starting to wear on me. I've got a company golf tournament tomorrow and I need some rest. Rest assured I'll have the strip up either later tomorrow afternoon or early Saturday.

Thank you.


Robot Presidents

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Just something I thought of doing. I've got a stack of index cards and each of them will have a penciled sketch of a clockwork, steampunk or robotized president.

I hope you enjoy these.

They'll be in the robot portrait set.

Another Quiz

Thanks to Dan and Curt again for helping out with the Movie Alphabet. In the end I emailed the guy and asked him for some hints for X and Y. One of Dan's friends said X was Taxi and after getting a note back from the site owner I figured Y was Labyrinth. I was a bit miffed because I was positive I'd guessed both of those. When I typed T in the form it came up with TAIX and when I typed L in the other one it populated with LABRIYNTH. So I knew them, but because I spelled them wrong I spent a good part of yesterday going through thousands of movie posters.

Yeah, woe is me.

Any crap, there are two other quizes, they look fun. I'm on the Invisible Man quiz if anyone wants to jump in. Use basic row column if you want to comment on any of them. (ie I can't figure out 1,4, I thought that might be Joan Cusack but in what movie?)

Carry on.


Strip Up

Thanks to Dan and Curtis for helping out on the movie letter thing. We only have J, X and Y to get.

New strip is up. If you've been following, yes that's Ms. A in there. Despite all the things that are going on, we're all still family and that won't change. So we're all still going to be in the strip together. Plus I had a neat story line with her and the robot already planned, so she has to be in there.

I was thinking of doing something additional with my little blog, something more real world, in addition to all the nonsense I heave up and stick in here. I was listening to NPR on my way home and I thought about maybe doing a reaction to a story a day, depending on if I hear a story that sparks some interest. I don't know, maybe I'll play with that idea.

Anyway, I'm listening to a report about how the Pentagon is combating the problem of IEDs in Iraq. If you've been under a rock, IED is short for Improvised Explosive Device. They are generally copper disks with a degree of concavity that when exploded create a 7lbs metal slug that travels 2,000mph. The most dangerous gun we have on the ground is the M2A1 which fires a 7oz. slug about 900mph. An IED basically goes through anything the Armed Forces can come up with, so they've had to improvise. The article written by the interviewee was called "Left of Boom" which is a Pentagon phrase for the time line surrounding an explosion. So far soldiers and brass have worked on the mitigation and clean up after an explosion, or Right of Boom, but have desperately tried to find ways to render the IEDs ineffective.

Much of the innovation and improvisation comes from the field. Knowing most IEDs are heat sensitive or triggered from infrared, convoys would attach heating elements - including toasters and hair dryers - to the front of the lead vehicle on long poles to trick the IED sensors. The enemy would counter that by aiming the IEDs ten meters back from the trigger, and so it goes.

This got me thinking. First, that the war effort has spent billions and billions of dollars so far and the best we can do is a toaster on a pole? I applaud the soldiers for coming up with ad hoc fixes on their own and yet I shake my head at the funding fighting politicians and high brass that can't help them come up with anything better.

Like drones or whiskers; unmanned sensor tripping vehicles sent in front of and around convoys to trigger IEDs and mines. It seems simple enough and I have no idea if it's been done or not. All RTS gamers know there's always a way to trigger traps and most larger fleet vehicles have ways of doing that and absorbing the explosion before the manned vehicles get close by enclosing themselves in a cloud of unimportant and cheaply manufactured remote drones. Why not outfit a bunch of old Jeeps with radio control and a few crash test dummies and send them in front of the convoys. If the IEDs aren't manually triggered, no reason this wouldn't set them off. And if they were manual, the dummies might fool at least a few people into thinking they were live people.

The numbers were confusing as well. The commentator said there were around 160 insurgent cells in Iraq. Each ground would have about 5-7 people including a financier, equipment man, bomb maker and trigger men. I guess that number seems really low, but I guess if each cell made 50 bombs and placed them around cities and villages, I can see why this is a problem.

So if anyone with military experience reads this, please comment on why a drone or whisker system wouldn't work or has been tried and didn't work, I'd appreciate that.

Maybe I'll hear another story today. Carry on.


Moving On...

...to more important matters.


Help me complete this list.

Here's what I have
D - Dracula
L - Life of Brian
M - The Mummy
N - Tron
O - Apollo 13
Q - Galaxy Quest
R - Tomb Raider
S - Silverado
T - Top Gun
Z - Antz
W - Pretty Woman
U - The Cube
P - Robocop

(Thanks Dan)
A - Apocalypse now
H - Sleepy Hollow
I - Aliens
K - The Rock

(will update if I get any more)


Strip up and some news.

Comic is up. I have to say, I wasn't totally unpleased with The Bionic Woman. It wasn't great by any means, but after the downer that was the Heroes premier, I have to say it wasn't all bad. Mrs. A is making me watch The Office. She recently discovered it and has been using my Netflix account to catch up before the season premier (which was yesterday.) I'd never watched The Office; I don't dig uncomfortable humor, but I have to say the show grew on me. The characters really sold it for me and there was actual humor involved. Honestly though, if it was just a show about Jim and Dwight I think I'd be ok with that.

And about Mrs. A, there's something I've been putting off telling people as it's really no one's business, but there's a few things this journal does that have to change because of recent events.

Mrs. A and I are no longer married, but it's complicated.

When she and I met 10 years ago, she was dating a girl. Yes, she's gay. Regardless, we fell in love and got married and had two absolutely fabulous kids. We've had a lot of good times together and have done a lot in 10 years. However, she can't live as a straight woman any more, it's not who she is. For the last year she's been tentatively dating someone. I knew about it, we had a long talk about it. (A talk that's lasted for a year and hasn't stopped.)

I'm sad and broken hearted, but I can't fault her. If I were in her shoes, I don't know that I'd be able to marry a guy no matter how much I loved him. It's not how I work. The fact that we lasted 10 years is almost a triumph and our separating isn't so much a failure as it is a signing off on a successful experiment. We still love each other and we are still friends, but we're just not intimate with each other any longer. Our relationship revolves now around our kids, our house and our finances. Once we're out of debt and the kids are grown we will likely legally separate, there' just no reason to do so now. Neither of us wants to remarry and we both still like being around each other.

It may be hard to understand and I don't expect the average reader to completely grip the situation, but that's the way it is. We're more roommates now. We're both meeting new people, we both still like each other, we don't fight and our kids are still loved and cared for. As she likes to say, it's an evolution not an ending.

So, if you see me change things like Mrs. A to Ms. A or wife to friend or partner, that's what's going on. I haven't figured out how to tell my coworkers. My parents and brother got an email this morning. I'm sure they'll call me tonight. I think this might give my grandma a stroke. But, life must move forward. I can't change her any more than I have in the past 10 years and it's time she stops living as someone else. For those of you who know us, I ask you to please not think bad of either of us. It's our lives and our decisions. But I thought I should at least say something as it's just too juicy not to write down.

Carry on.


Ads and Traffic

I'm going to be adding some stuff to the site. Maybe some ads and ways to increase traffic. It's more an experiment than anything. I don't pull down but a few dozen hits a day so it'd be interesting to see how far this goes.

You'll notice the big window on the sidebar, that's for Blog Rush. It seems like a good widget and service so we'll see.


Upon reading a bit more about Blog Rush, it seems it's just a traffic exchange program like many others before it. Sad. I may still use it, but I think I'm both late to the party and probably not the kind of blog writer that would profit from this.

Plus there's the part where having a traffic exchange on your site voids your AdSense TOS. I don't run ads now, I just wanted traffic for art commissions. I'll give it a couple weeks, see what happens.


Toon up

I don't want to have to explain this one. It's funny to parents. That should be enough.


DeviantArt versus Flickr

So, I'm spinning my wheels and racking my brain getting the 100 Artist Project the publicity it needs to get the final 30 pieces of art (seriously, it just stopped, no one is sending anything) when I decide to give Deviant Art another try. I know I started a project topic there early on so I thought I'd check on it.

I'd created a DA account about the same time as my Flickr account. Mrs. A had been on Flickr a while before me and was using it for her photos and networking. Up until recently Flickr as been a photo friendly, if not exclusive, gallery networking site. Deviant Art has always been more open to any form of art. However, the differences in the structure made me really start leaning heavily toward Flickr, enough that I'd end up paying a yearly fee so I could be excluded by virtue of my pencil.

DA's major failing to me is it's usability, and the biggest part of that are the uploads.

Many if not all image hosting sites allow users to upload multiple images at a time. You may not have much control over their size, descriptive tags or categorizing methods but you can at least bulk upload. The more prolific you are, the more this becomes a major selling point. DA doesn't allow that. I haven't even seen where it's available if you have a paid subscription. Each time you want to upload a file, you have to give it a category via an inane flash menu, you have to pick the file one at a time, you HAVE to give it tags and you HAVE to give it a description or it won't let you upload it. Then each time you upload, you HAVE to agree to both the TOS and the EULA. It's not enough that you agreed to it by signing up, you have to do it each time you upload an image. To make matters worse, once you fill all this out, it asks you if you want to sell your work. I'm all for making money on my art, but please don't ask me every frickin' time to do it. Let me upload 15 drawings and just let people decide if they want to buy it.

Now, they make it a bit easier by allowing you to put multiple files in a "holding area" but it's useless because the upload page forgets all the information, categories and checkboxes you just filled out and so you have to repeat the process. I was going to throw up 30 robot drawings but I don't have all weekend to fuck around in there.

Another thing I've noticed about DA is the weird community structure. It's both forum and comments and journal and comments on journals and projects in which there are discussions. It's a bit all over the place and today I was noticing there is only one page full of forum. It only goes back a day and there isn't a second page. That's especially troublesome when you're sifting through the "how can we make our site better" forum and there's only 20 suggestions going back to yesterday.

Flickr on the other hand is a peach. I have still some problems with it, namely the fact that ad agencies with low morals assume the site is a one stop shop for stock photos. On the flip side, I believe there was originally such a loophole in DA's EULA that the company was practically selling images without the members' knowledge. Flickr also has had some problems with censorship, but it's run by Yahoo! and it's run all over the world. I think eventually those issues will work out.

Deviant Art also doesn't allow hotlinking, last I checked. What this means is you can't go to your favorite message board and post up the image you've hosted at DA. You can link to the page it's on, but not display it in line. This may sound like an odd thing, but when you're an artist who communicates online, you want people to see your work. Flickr doesn't necessarily allow it either, and it gives you code to link back to the image in your stream if you post it elsewhere, but then it also provides the link for just the image itself. It's like your parents giving you beer and the keys and then saying, "Do the right thing."

I've poured through some of DA's community and while it seems more lively, it's not necessarily more constructive or friendly, at least more than Flickr. Flickr doesn't have the classic message board structure for it's groups, but it's groups provide more options as a way to pool art and also have discussions based on the group theme. As far as I can tell, DA is either galleries or forums and not much in the way of connecting them, I could be wrong.

Flickr is also clean and professional looking. It's simple and easy to find things. My only complaint about it is the official Forums are all a million posts long and searching for official information can be tedious. But not impossible. DA is dark, angst ridden and doing its best to remain cool by offering mobile services (which Flickr does too.) It's more open to all artists, but I get the impression it's the anime and desktop wallpaper designers that are the darlings, just as the photographers still are on Flickr.

Flickr also has so many ways to tweak the site with it's open API that any shortcomings you may find are always just a Greasemonkey script away from being a thing of the past. This makes the site feel more user friendly and hospitable and it makes DA seem restrictive and intractable. I'm willing to give DA another shot if it helps the project, but I'm serious, it's that one at a time upload thing that's just got me wanting to reach through the screen and shake the crap out of whoever built the stupid site.

If you have kind or evil words for either site, I'd love to here them.

Carry on.