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.