100 Artists Project for Sale

100 Artists Project for Sale
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
The title says it all. Volume one of the charity project I've been working on is now available online.

Linky dinky.

It's the first collection of all the artwork from March '07 to January '08 along with a few extra bits. This is the print version of the auction from last month.

And if you aren't a comic book reader, there's plenty of non-comic book art included, more than half. Plus it goes toward a good cause.

This also means the project will start back up with different charities and different themes, as soon as I get it going again.

Good news from this side of the globe.

Carry on!


Guilty Pleasures - Phil Collins/Genesis

I can't explain why I like Phil Collins and Genesis so much. I was never a Brian Eno fan or a Talking Heads fan. I wasn't into Yes or Yaz or ELO or Blondie. I was just a bit young for that, coming into an age where music became influential to me right as Genesis was reaching its critical acclaim and then immediately becoming something beyond it.

My first experience with Genesis, the one I remembered as being the the seminal moment, was seeing the group's Land of Confusion video with the nearly forgotten Spitting Image puppets. MTV had been growing for about seven or eight years and a group of young music lovers was growing with it. The video for Land was eventually nominated for video of the year, ironically beaten out by former Genesis lead singer Peter Gabriel's song Sledgehammer.

There was something about that song and that video. It was dark and otherworldly. It was angry without being violent. It was edgy without being completely incomprehensible. As a 14 year old boy who had yet to discover the wonders of Black Flag or The Misfits or Skinny Puppy, it was easily the darkest pop music I can remember.

And that was at its height.

So I went backwards, as I do when I find music I like. I did it with Nine Inch Nails and No Doubt and Green Day. I traced the music back to its roots and tried to find out if it was the roots of the music I enjoyed or the zeitgeist around it. Turns out, I wasn't a big fan of early Genesis. The same way I'm not a big fan of Talking Heads. It was just too out there for me. Too hook-less. Maybe now that I'm a little older I can go back and take bits of it apart and see if there's something there to enjoy - some cerebral salve I missed as a child, but I have to remember that in 1970 when Collins became the drummer for Genesis, he was 19. There's a fine line between calling something "progressive" because it's new and fresh and calling it that because it's just shit and you're trying cover something.

Their official third album with Collins now in the band came out in 1971 and wasn't even a success in the UK, though Italy loved it. I won't blame them for that.

I won't bore you with discography history, you can find that on your own. The point is, I didn't like the roots of Genesis, I liked the 1980's Genesis and the 1980's Phil Collins.

And don't get me wrong, I don't like the recent Phil Collins work either. The song in Tarzan is a good song and a good soundtrack for a Disney movie, but I wouldn't put it in my "burn to disk" folder. Since Invisible Touch I believe the band and Collins himself went past notoriety a straight into commercial endeavors.

No Jacket Required and Invisible Touch stick in my past the way John Hughes movies do. They are as immutable as Swatches, Pacman, Transformers and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Having established a biased towards this music, I can no more refute their power over my formative years than I can the fact that I'm a human being. The lyrics mirrored my thoughts and the melodies were patterned on my emotions. It felt suddenly okay to be weird and troubled and a little angry and unpopular. I knew these guys were as old as my parents, but they sang with such youth and understanding of what a troubled time adolescence was.

Hindsight of course. I didn't think this when I was 12. But having listened to a few songs recently I've decided to embrace my crappy taste in music for what it is and continue to enjoy it in my own way. More posts will undoubtedly talk about the guilty pleasures I've amassed, and this is no exception.


Earth Hour

I think I remember this from last year. Worth doing again. My only question is, does a computer monitor count as a light?

We invite everyone throughout North America and around the world to turn off the lights for an hour starting at 8 p.m. (your own local time)–whether at home or at work, with friends and family or solo, in a big city or a small town.



Wonderful Video

This is the coolest video I've seen in a long time. I wanted to go back and find the motion graphics from classic broadcasting companies but I can't find it.


AH! Found it.


Robot Pundits

Robot jokes? Check.
Political punditry? Check.
Embeddable in Blogger? We all win.

Thanks to John Hodgman for sharing.

The Phantom Edit

I don't know why I'm on this Star Wars kick lately.

For those who don't know (and this is fairly old news) a while after The Phantom Menace came out, an editor going by the clever name of The Phantom Editor, reworked the movie to give it a stronger sense of story that he felt Lucas had abandoned.

Despite the news, it wasn't just editing out Jar Jar completely and inserting new lines for Anakin that weren't horrible to hear. There were a lot of cuts of the "oopses" and "yippees" and hemming and hawing Anakin did, but it was in an effort to strengthen his character and make him less of a lucky kid and more of a powerful yet uncertain child.

There was a lot of editing out of the scene stealing Jar Jar did. For all the flack, Binks had a purpose in the movie. His link to both the Gungans and the Naboo were the reason they had the army fight for them. But all his other gaffs, antics and lines that had no reason were removed.

One of the biggest cuts, and I couldn't agree more, was the entire underwater scene with the sub and the giant fish. It was showy and in the commentary the Editor said something I'd never thought of. Qui-Gon saves Binks so they could have a guide through "the core" but Binks proves nigh ineffectual. Leaving that scene out at least implied Jar Jar knew something and wasn't completely stupid. It's one thing to say early on you're clumsy, it's another to completely reinforce that with every single scene in the movie.

(My kids love Jar Jar. They think he's the best thing about Star Wars. They would have liked anything that inane and trivial as long as it flopped around and talked funny.)

Overall, the scenes were clipped to speed up action and focus on the story. A lot of exposition and redundancy was left out. Some of the cuts work, some don't. You'll have had to have seen the original (or if you have time and some coffee the original with the deleted scenes) in order to appreciate how strong the film is with these cuts.

And this just isn't a hack job by some nut fan with an ax to grind and an overclocked machine with photoshop and some editing software. This is a film school educated, professional editor who offered this as a critique of the highest order. This is what artists would call "an overlay." Meaning, don't just tell me what you didn't like, show me how you'd do it better and use my work as the base. It's a powerful tool and I for one think it should be done more often.

I haven't finished watching with the commentary, but I'm enjoying the heck out of it. It was 1am and I had to get some sleep. The Editor's views are insightful and make a lot of sense. He wanders a bit when he talks about The Edit being seeded online and Lucas saying he'd never watch it and a long story about him as a kid getting a poster from Ben Burt as a contest prize for young film makers and...well, this sentence is a good indication of how long that bit went on.

But it did show one thing: George Lucas opened a Pandora's Jar when he made Star Wars and he's since tried to cram it all back in and horde it for himself. He's a smart business man, he knew getting the royalties for all things related to the film was the way to go and it served him well. But I think he should take a page from The Phantom Editor and Irvin Kershner and Leigh Bracket and Lawrence Kasdin and Genndy Tartakovsky, all of whom have taken Lucas's idea and really made good products. The Empire Strikes Back, the strongest of the six films, wasn't directred by Lucas and the screenplay was someone else. The best thing to come out of the prequels was The Clone Wars cartoon. Had the movie been more like that in terms of pacing and character development, you wouldn't have legions of fans asking for an apology.

My next mission is to find the edits for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and see if they've been improved as deftly as Phantom Menace. The problem with all of the prequels, to me, is not the scene stealing of Jar Jar or the hokey dialog, it's really the truly poor performances from otherwise decent actors. Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman and Ewan McGreggor on their own should be a pretty decent recipe for success, but they're all very wooden and uninteresting. Jake Lloyd is the worst actor I've ever seen and The Editor did a great job of toning his overacting scrunchy face down. I'd be interested in seeing if he's successful with the emo statue that is Hayden Christensen.

I know this turned into a rant, but I honestly thought, as I watched this edited version, that I wouldn't have felt so bad about this movie if it was this version I saw. Really. It's that much of improvement. It's not a strong movie to begin with, and there are bits I'd STILL have taken out because to me they were a) fantastically ridiculous or b) obvious toy ideas. But if you're a fan of Star Wars, you owe it to yourself to download the torrent for this and give it a watch. You won't regret it.

Carry on.

PS. Here's just one of the links to the version of The Phantom Edit. Do a search for it, though. I got mine from Mininova using uTorrent. Your results may vary, but keep in mind it's a 1.3gb file and you'll probably need the VLC player to watch it unless you have a way to convert M4Vs to MP4s.


RIP Sir Clarke

(CNN) -- Author Arthur C. Clarke, whose science fiction and non-fiction works ranged from the script for "2001: A Space Odyssey" to an early proposal for communications satellites, has died at age 90...
Other than 2001, 2010 and 2061, the only other book of his I read was The Songs of a Distant Earth and I can't really tell you what that was about. I remember it being a bit boring, but I was a kid and what do kids know of good science fiction. Rama as well as a host of other Clarke stories are on my mental "classics" lists of books to read before I die.

Clarke was considered part of the Big Three in science fiction. Heinlein and Asimov making the other two. Most will argue that Bradbury and Herbert and Vonnegut should be in there as well, but I think the first group were from a much earlier time and sensibility. They brought a bit of pulp and wonder into the genre where as the later group were more about spirituality and conflicts of philosophy.

Whatever way you debate it, the world has lost a great mind and a great visionary.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.


I Hate My Fucking Ears

A couple times a year I go through this awful bout of built up ear wax and it seriously consumes days and days. I try to help them stay clean with a little warm water each day and I'm really conscious about cleaning around them so as not to have any extra crap go in there, but I think I just produce it from the inside out in copious amounts that leave me in pain and unable to focus.

I know you're not supposed to be anything bigger than your elbow in your ear but dammit, I get tired of not hearing anything. My ears just don't get rid of this crap like they should. It's painful, I can't concentrate and I end up having to go to the doctor where they cluck their tongue and give me a hard time about putting shit in my ears.

So now I'm at work cocking my head to one side for no other reason than I want to keep my unplugged ear higher in the air to hear better. Because that makes sense. I'll go home and search in vain for the little ear bulb I don't have, dump warm water in there to loosen it up, then peroxide, then olive oil, then whatever else till I give up and go to the doctor where I'll pay $25 for someone to get on my case and the use a turkey baster to flush my damn ear out.

Fuck my ears, man. Stupid lazy non-waxing removing pieces of junk.


Happy St. Patrick's Day

From Wikipedia:

In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated only as a religious holiday. It became a public holiday in 1903, by the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by the Irish MP James O'Mara.[7] O'Mara later introduced the law which required that pubs be closed on 18 March, a provision which was repealed only in the 1970s. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931 and was reviewed by the then Minister of Defence Desmond Fitzgerald. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Church.
This is also the time of year Americans intersperse their conversations with quips about how Irish they are by using scientifically proven fractions and marital status. It's a custom about as old as the holiday itself, I'd wager.



Spread Thin

I set up a Ning site for the 100AP a while back but never used it. Last night I thought it'd be a good idea to use it more. So I sent invites to all the contributors, organized the page a bit and was very close to making more graphics for it.

Then I realized how much time I spend doing this online....junk and not drawing. One of Len Peralta's most recent podcasts talked about nearing show 200 and wondering if it'd be worth it to move on. He's not making any money off it and it's been a few years now and he was having sort of a crisis of concept. I didn't want to play devil's advocate, but I did. I told him that if it's taking time away from his drawing, he should reconsider the podcast as a major project.

Then I started thinking about everything I do online and it was almost silly. On a daily basis here's what I do (not including my job.)

  • Check three email accounts - I have my main gmail, a gmail account I use for 100AP correspondance and a gmail my in-laws keep wanting to send stuff to even though I wanted to use that only as spam.
  • Update Blogger blogs - If I've drawn any robots, I'll post that to the Robot Portrait site. If I see anything worth talking about, I'll update this blog. If something happens on the 100AP side, I'll update that site.
  • X-Posting 100AP - If I update the 100AP site, I'll post that same post to the MySpace site, the ComicSpace site, Penciljack and UggaBugga.net. It's not 100% as most times I just write about ideas and such. But interviews and important info will get cross posted.
  • Ning - Now that I've set up the 100AP Ning site, I'll check that for updates probably every hour.
  • RSS Feeds - I've got about 50 subscriptions I read in my Google Reader. On one account it's just to read and enjoy, but on another Google account it's to post industry news to a sharing widget that's picked up by the 100AP blog and the Ning site. Lot of logging out and back in.
  • Penciljack and UggaBugga - I help administer Penciljack.com so I'll check it a few times a day and moderate threads, offer critiques or do as much administrative stuff as my power level will allow. There aren't any major projects at PJ that I'm running, but it's always a time killer. UB.net and ASJ41 I'm just a member, but I'm lettering episodes and helping with promotion and organization. Stephen actually called me his consultant.
  • Lettering - I'm contracted to letter two books right now, and I've volunteered to do one other one. None of which I'm really caught up on and I don't have a lot of time at home or work to do it. And I shouldn't do it at work.
  • Flickr and DeviantARt- As much time as I've spent doing Flickr projects, that finally died off. I was doing a 365days thing for a while, but I got tired of looking at myself on my photostream AND realized I was just waiting till nearly midnight and taking dumb pictures instead of doing something else. Now I just watch my contacts pictures and offer an occasional comment. DeviantArt is even worse. I made a flood of updates for a while, tried tying it all to the 100AP but DA's user interface really turns me off and I've kind of abandoned it.
  • Message Boards - I'm technically a member of around a dozen art related forums. Most of them I only use to update the 100AP, but I've tried to become active on them to make it look like I'm NOT trying to be there just to pimp the project. Those include conceptart.org, eatpoo, gutterzombie, illustrationfriday, dimestore productions, blambot, balloontales, digital webbing presents, comicartfans, and probably more. I'm also probably missing some big communities.
  • Art - This is the area I need to do more personally. I know I owe a friend a faerie drawing. I have all these small robot or alphabet projects that I've left in my ADD wake. Plus I just signed up to do 6 pages of sequentials for ASJ, I must be out of my mind.
I'm fairly sure I'm missing something. I'm racking my brain trying to figure out ways to make it easier on myself, but all I end up doing is making it worse. I'm simultaneously making more work for myself and not getting anything of value done. I wish what I listed above was my day job and I got paid to do all that. I'm pretty good at it, but "online creative collaboration manager and contributor" is no job I've ever heard of.

Now I'm off to spend time with the kids and not get any work done, but the work will be there and the kids won't after a time.

Carry on.


Google Reader to Blogger Posts

I'm playing with ideas about how to expand the 100AP and I thought about pushing useful items from my RSS feed in Google Reader to the 100AP blog at Blogger. Best I can find so far is offering the link to my "share" and just have people subscribe to the feeds themselves. I'd like people to be able to read the posts on the site instead. It doesn't appear Google Reader and Blogger have this functionality yet, so I'm looking for alternatives. del.icio.us has this support for a few blogs but not Blogger (probably because it's a Google group.)

So if you know of anything that works like this, pushing RSS feeds out as blogger posts, let me know. I'm not above putting in scripts.


Damn Hippies!

I was looking up pictures of Clinton and Obama to do some robot drawings when I stumbled onto this nugget of goodness. (Stumbled, it's on the first page of the GIS.)

I think it's a wonderful picture. After all the campaigning and Presidential terms and books and media coverage, this picture shows that back in the day, the Clinton's were just as weird as my parents.


Terminator ARG

I don't know whether to play along or just watch and be entertained.

Seems Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles has its own alternate reality game, a la Lost.

You can see one of the latest videos here on Boing Boing TV.

Apparently, this started right around the premier of the show. I should have expected and then searched for something like this, but my fog enshrouded brain missed it.

Here's a summary if you're interested and if I've read it all correctly.

Some time last year, a particle physics company named Enitech Labs "discovered" a device that utilizes the time properties of tachyon particles to take pictures of the future. I'm not sure if the actual physics is sound, but the idea is interesting. As it is now, we take pictures of the past. Our eyes see pictures of the past. It's nearly instantaneous, but light still has to bounce off objects, enter our eye and be interpreted by our brain. The theory behind this tachyon camera is that tachyons move faster than light, so relativistically move backward through time. A device able to capture them and interpret them as a regular camera does light particles, would then see what the tachyons "bounced" off of, ie something that hasn't happened yet.

Yes, the idea is fraught with paradoxes, but it's at least fun to think about.

Anycrap, they find this camera and start seeing images of a post apocalyptic future and they have to calibrate the camera to some god awful number of days. They see signs saying, "RESIST" and images of buildings that aren't there now, and one image even has a shot of what looks like a howitzer blasting something.

But the best part are the video clips. Lost had good ideas and websites and things and is still the best in terms of depth, but T:SCC seems to have some pretty talented people making these videos.

Back to the story. Apparently they dug too far, as is the case most of the time, and Skynet starts fighting back by sending something to kill them. One of the physicists gets shot on a webcam conference. Another is hunted through a field and chased to her car. Later she's presumed dead but shows up on another video broadcast. Then a giant machine shows up at the lab and mows them down with gun fire and there's a giant explosion. A blog post says, "...Enitech Research labs was destroyed and several employees were killed last week."

So, I've lost a good day's productivity with this and I'm only assuming it'll get worse. These ARG's suck me in and with the show now waiting for its fate via ratings, I'm sure more of this will start popping up. I guess it's a good sign the show will stick around for a while.

Carry on.

New Boots

Rain Day
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
It's raining in Austin. Time to stomp some puddles.


Super Sad Tuesday

A couple weeks ago, Texas started early voting. I voted. I voted in the Democratic Primary. My primary vote is basically 2/3 of a vote without the caucus vote to follow. (It's more complex than that, but that's basics.)

So tonight was the night that if you voted early or voted tonight in the primary, when the polls closed, you were able to caucus. The caucuses in Texas are like mini conventions at every precinct in the state. What I've heard and read indicated that it's not so much debate and convince and sway but show up and sign your name and kind of be done with it.

So Ms. A and I took the kids to our precinct (our old precinct actually since we hadn't registered in our new one) and proceeded to stand in a line for two hours and move roughly ten feet.

At close to 9pm we decided we couldn't keep the kids there any longer. Ms. A had already got out of line to take them to get food and then come back and we'd gone from the entry sidewalk to just inside the door to the school.

This isn't a knock at the precinct leaders and organizers. Texas is having a surge of voting participation not seen in years and while I believe they're doing their best, I don't think the system can handle it.

So we left, caucus vote uncounted. Even if I was childless I don't think I'd want to hang out there for that long. I felt like I was in line for U2 tickets. The really sad thing was there wasn't but 200 people, maybe 250. I saw the vote boxes leave about 8pm which meant the polls were closed but they were wrapping things up an hour after they told people to show up for the caucus. And I honestly don't know what they were doing in there. I don't know if it was a one at a time thing where the head of the line was given information, coached, given the option to sign something and then let go or if they were just trying to get people into the building and into one room. It was frustrating.

Dare I say I felt disenfranchised. No, I won't say that. I was just frustrated.

And now I'm listening to MSNBC and the talking heads and pundits jibber-jabber about early results and voting irregularities and the phrase "too close to call." Olbermann is now saying Ohio doesn't believe it'll have all the votes in until 4:30am.

You know, I got no problem standing around for a while to cast a vote, but there's got to be a better way. If only we had a way to tie a lot of computers together so they could talk to each other and then maybe adopt some conventions so developers could write the same types of software so people's homes computers could all use the software. Then maybe we could USE that to cast a vote.

All kidding aside, I can register to vote, I can get a license renewal, I can buy groceries and books and music and junk for my cubical, is there a reason I can't vote? And don't give me voter fraud, it's not like what happened in Ohio and Florida in years past was perfect. Use the technology given. Voter turn out would soar, in my opinion.

Yours may be different and that's why we vote.

Carry on.


What's Up Sci-Fi?

I know, I'm up at 6am, so what of it. I'm fighting a sinus headache, didn't seem likely I'd be sleeping.

So I turn on the box and scroll around the guide. It's Sunday morning so there's a lot of shows from a church and a lot of programming staring Chuck Norris. I check past the networks to the cable channels and something struck me.

A few weeks ago, a member on Penciljack wrote an open letter to the Sci-Fi channel. It was a fun lark and not entirely off mark. Especially when I scrolled through the shows this morning.

Sci-Fi 3-5:30am - Paid Programming
AMC 3-5:30am - Poseidon Adventure

Sci-Fi 5:30-8am - Paid Programming
AMC 5:30-8am - Enemy Mine

Sci-Fi 8am - Dark Seas: Chupacabra
AMC 8am - The Day the Earth Stood still

The rest of the day on Sci-Fi is a reality show marathon called Desination Truth that looks into urban legends and monster myths. Later today Sci-Fi is showing a bunch of made for TV movies like Abominable, Sasquatch Mountain, Reign of the Gargoyles and Pterodactyl.

AMC will play the Matrix. History channel is playing The Right Stuff, which isn't science fiction, but I'd rather watch that then Sasquatch Mountain. We're talking quality people.

This is the reason science fiction and sci-fi get such a bad rap. There's quality programming to be had, but Sci-Fi insists on playing these shit movies and questionable reality shows and...wrestling. For the love of God, wrestling? I know it's a big deal, but it's not Science Fiction. I don't expect to find an engineering show on the Food Network. Let's see the Dune miniseries run a few times. And if you're going to play bad movies, play cult bad movies from the 70's and 80's. Let's see some Flight of the Navigator, Last Starfighter, Tron, even Goonies. Let's see some crappy old sci-fi movies from the 50's and 60's. How about running more old series shows like Sliders or Quantum Leap or even Buck Rogers, old Doctor Who or the Hitchhiker's Guide series?

I know there's licensing involved and you get what you can buy from studios and syndication, but man, Sci-Fi channel is really becoming a trailer park of niche programming. Science Fiction already has it bad, but this channel isn't doing anything to right that. They're spending all their money on Battlestar Galactica so don't expect anything better in the line up until after that show ends later this year. I'm glad they're running Doctor Who, but I have a feeling that'll be dropped. It was in Germany, no reason it won't here. Most people don't know what Doctor Who is. I feel sad for them as they tell me they've never seen a Doctor Who episode but then ask if I've seen the latest Two and a Half Men.

Well, that made my head feel better. Carry on.