Thursday, June 27, 2013

Geek Speaking Boozy Votes

Geek Speak: The Power of Booze

Sweet fancy Moses! This is starting to look like a real comic! Sorry for the delay in posts. For this strip I experimented with coloring using a Wacom drawing tablet and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 6.0. The results are something I'm really, really happy with, but it took a long, long time. It'll get faster as I get more familiar with the process, and make some decisions about how I want to handle it, but this time around I definitely went the long way around. 

I would never advocate the consumption of alcohol as a means to solve your problems. Alcohol just makes you numb to the emotions attached to a problem. It'll still be there when you're no longer buzzed or drunk, and you'll be hungover. Better to deal with the issue, then drink as a celebration of a difficult task done well. With that said I think I'd knock a few back if I ever had an honest-to-goodness conversation with a talking dog in the produce section of Ralph's. 

Random Thoughts

Hipster Charlie Brown says, "I liked the cute little red-haired girl before it was cool."

I Stand With Voters

By now a lot has been said about the Supreme Court (I refuse to use the popular acronym lest it make this pack of hateful, close minded, extreme right wing gas bags sound cool) repealing section four of the 1965 voter registration act. In my own humble way I would like to weigh in with my opinion of the decision reached by a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court. It can be summarized in three words: were they high?

Never mind the rampant racial discrimination that necessitated the creation of a voting rights law in the first place. In the run up to our most recent election a majority of states in the country were desperately trying to pass laws that would have a disproportionate impact on minority voters, the elderly, and the poor. Some states tried to rig the election through gerrymandering of district lines to favor Republican voters, most tried to introduce voter ID laws.

These so-called "Voter ID" laws were proposed with the excuse that it was necessary to reduce voter fraud. In fact the only reason they were being introduced was to limit access to polls for likely democratic voters, minority voters in particular. Minority voters had turned out in record numbers to elect President Obama to his first term, and the GOP wanted to stop that from happening again.

It didn't work. The provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 meant the bulk of the proposed bills didn't pass muster with the justice department. The Republican Party's best weapon against re-electing president Obama failed.

That has changed now. Within hours of Tuesday's decision by the Roberts Court several states (among them Texas, Alabama, and South Carolina) rushed to push through voter ID laws, some of which had previously been rejected by the justice department as discriminatory. The only aim of these laws is disenfranchising (mostly minority) voters.

In her dissent Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing on behalf of Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan stated, "The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the voter registration act has proven effective." She has an admirable turn of phrase, but I don't think this statement goes far enough. The worst part about this decision is the Justices who ruled in favor of repealing section four of the voting rights act don't seem to understand that such a law is still necessary.

In this I feel the Supreme Court has failed in what is possibly it's most sacred duty; the most important responsibility any governing system that even marginally calls itself a democracy must aggressively pursue: to protect the right of its people to vote. Any law that secures the right of voters to go to the polls without undo hardship should be protected, not gutted to pave the way for a political agenda.

As citizens the only power we have is our voice and our vote. I stand with those whose right to vote is in danger of being suppressed.

 I have no doubt that Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Samuel Alito are looking at their reflections without a shred of shame. You need a measure of humanity to feel ashamed, and they lack the basic equipment. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Doodling the Looking Glass of Date Night

Work-a-Doodle: The Looking Glass Edition

Every so often I'll get an idea stuck in my head and the only way to get it unstuck is to get it out in the open is to write something or draw it. That was the case with Alice of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland after an episode of Warehouse 13 (seriously, watch this show, it's great) where that character played heavily in the events. There's also a trend toward depicting these staple fantasy characters in as sexualized a manner as possible. Zenescope comics is hugely guilty of this. That said I enjoyed doodling a kind of naughty take on Alice, and I had a lot of fun drawing the Hatter. 

This page of doodles was, understandably, tucked under my keyboard at work for a while. 

It's also a good example of why I will never, ever hand-letter Geek Speak. 

Night of Dates: The Date of Nights

There are many, many good things about being a parent. When you make the choice to be responsible for the rearing of a new human being, there are many rewarding things about the process. Other people you know who have kids of their on will tip you off to a few of them, but most will be a surprise. It's kind of like the world's longest special edition DVD with limitless Easter eggs. Yes, even longer than Lord of the Rings.

As rewarding as being a parent can be there are some down sides. One of the biggest of which is you and your partner will suddenly find it very difficult to spend quality, offspring-free time together. Part of it is just the demands of raising a kid, part of it is that you don't want to leave your precious little ones with a stranger because something could happen. Used here stranger has a somewhat looser definition. It could mean a baby sitter referred to you by a friend who has a degree in early child development psychology, a list of references as long as Uma Thurman's legs, and has so many connections in the intelligence community she could make a phone call and have anyone who looked at your child the wrong way found, bagged, and shipped to a hole in the ground somewhere in Cuba.

Stranger could also mean someone you've know for almost twenty years and his wife.

Which brings us to the Saturday before Father's day. Mildly Sensational and I have had some...trouble...getting out to spend time with each other. Put another way, we haven't had a date night since our anniversary last year, which puts it at about eleven months. We're not shut-ins, we do get out, but when we do, it's with our daughter in tow. Our friends love our daughter, and we love seeing her interact with them and how that changes as she gets older. Even so, we occasionally find ourselves longing for the opportunity to sit down to a meal without a two year old going all Helen Keller up in our business.

The day before Father's Day I worked with our good friends (and guest stars in this blog) Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl and arranged for them to watch Veronica while Mildly Sensational and I did something exciting and adventurous! We went to dinner and a movie!

Before leaving we armed Tea and Celluloid with Disney movies, snacks, her favorite toys and walked them through her routine. Then we walked out the door. We hadn't made it ten steps before Little Wonder (Normal Guy and Mildly Sensational made a Little Wonder, get it?...never mind) started banging on the screen door, crying, and yelling, "MOMMY! DADDY! MOMMY!" We paused for a moment. Then we walked faster. I may never get skid marks off the garage floor where the tires squealed as I peeled out. Seriously it was heart-wrenching, but we trusted our friends to be able to handle the situation. Even if her distress turned out to be more than they could handle on their own, we knew Marlin and Dory from Little Nemo were standing by to make the assist.

It took us only about twenty minutes to get to the Glendale Galleria where we walked under a big sign that said Pacific Cinema 18 or something similar. I promptly went to the ticket counter positioned under a sign proclaiming show times for all the movies currently playing at the Pacific Cinema 18 to get our movie tickets. I smiled and exchanged pleasantries with the girl behind the counter who was wearing a shirt that said Pacific Cinema. Then I reached into my wallet pulled out my AMC gift card and handed it to her. Then stood a little perplexed when she said she couldn't use it. Then felt phenomenally fucking stupid when someone probably half my age had to explain the card was for AMC and, being Pacific Cinema, the couldn't accept it.

As it turns out they do accept money and we were able to get our tickets without further incident.

The movie we were seeing was Star Trek: Into Darkness. It was incredible. It borrowed heavily from some
moments in the original series, and especially from one of the original movie adaptations, but it put enough of a fresh spin on the characters and the story points to make it feel completely original. The movie has been reviewed to death so I'm not going to beat that particular expired equine, but I am going to write another post later about Star Trek in general. It will make you cry. I promise.

After the movie we went to the Granville Cafe in Glendale. It's an easy walk from the movie theater, and the incredible. The crowds at the mall were nuts. Not the worst I've seen, but a seriously claustrophobic person might still have dived into the fountain at the center of the green to get away from the crushing throngs. Everywhere within the Galleria you could think to eat was packed to capacity and people were waiting around outside, eyeing the young, elderly, and infirm with open hunger.

Just around the corner from that was a Granville Cafe shaped oasis of sanity.

We were seated almost right away on entering and ordered our drinks and an appetizer. An appetizer wouldn't be necessary, ordinarily, but Mildly Sensational is working on Little Wonder Mark II. The calorie demands of pregnancy are unreal, so after sitting through an entire movie she was starting to get a bit of a predatory look. Fortunately it was nothing sweet potato fries couldn't fix. Dinner took a while to get to us, so the restaurant offered to comp either dessert, or the appetizer; a crazy generous gesture that was unnecessary as we had been enjoying the first real opportunity to talk that we'd had in a year.

The food was terrific. My steak was perfect, and their wasabi mashed potatoes are one of life's true pleasures. We did get dessert this time, and I enjoyed the hell out of a slice of lemon drop cheesecake and bruleed lemon slices (which I could eat like potato chips, seriously, give me a bag of them already).

All too soon it was time to head back. Much to our delight when we returned home our friends still had their sanity and hadn't put on diapers of their own in an act of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." They reported nothing out of the ordinary and left while our daughter watched some Disney cartoons they'd found on Netflix.

As a parent you forget all too soon the simple joy of being with someone. I'm glad we had the opportunity for a reminder of the things that make us work so well.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Geek Speaking New Toys

Geek Speak: There are worse things...

Having made a connection with a human who quite literally understands them, I think any animal would go to extremes to resist being dragged back into the usual circumstances where that level of understanding is missing. It's certainly that way in this case, but then she's probably going to make Wuffles try on the slightly used tutu she just got off "the eBay."

New Toys for Artist Boys
Yesterday there was a package in the mail for me from Cheap Joe's Art Supplies. This was something I'd been looking forward to getting for several days. Over every lunch break for the last week and a half I've been checking the tracking page, eagerly following my package (I know how that sounds, moving on). Yesterday it happened to arrive while I was on my lunch break. After it arrived I eagerly opened my package knowing I didn't have time to play with it on my lunch break (...moving on...). The contents of the eagerly anticipated envelope revealed themselves to be ten brand new, high quality art markers from Prismacolor.

On my most recent paycheck I set aside some money so that I could order the markers from Cheap Joe's. The markers I ordered are a gradient from black to light gray, in cool and warm tones. I started out with gray markers because most of the work I do is in black and white, and I needed a way to put down smooth, even, layered "colors" that would look good even after they're scanned. Although I enjoy working with pencil, and I'm happy with the results overall, I don't feel like the artwork in my strips is as "clean" as it could be.

It'll probably take some trial and error to get to where I like the look I'm getting before I start making heavy use of them in Geek Speak, but I like the results I'm getting the little that I've been able to play with them. It's definitely going to change the feel of the comic, but I think it'll be for the better.

On another note, Cheap Joe's Art Supplies lives up to its name. Prismacolor is a premium brand, and their line of professional art markers is especially expensive. The price for the set on Cheap Joe's was much less that I could get from Amazon or anywhere else. Two sets of markers were only slightly more than one set if ordered from Amazon. Both sites offer free shipping.

I quickly learned the only downside of ordering from Cheap Joe's and using the free shipping option is that it takes a long time. That's really a relative term. While I was growing up it was considered really fast if you could order something and have it arrive in a week. Now people get bent out of shape if an online merchant's standard 3-5 day shipping isn't offered for free. That said, it took eight days for the markers to arrive. It doesn't make much sense to pay the extra fees for expedited shipping (they have options for 3-5 day, 2 day, and overnight). After shipping costs I could probably get the same thing from Amazon, for about the same price, and not pay shipping if it falls under Amazon Prime.

I like the prices on Cheap Joe's but I can only recommend it if you're ordering something you don't need right away and you don't mind waiting to get it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Drawmelting the Warrior Woman

Drawmelt: The Warrior Princess Edition

Last night was another night of drawing and hanging out with fellow geeks at Meltdown Comics. The model was the lovely and talented Ashphord Jacoway who took on the role of an African woman-warrior for the evening. She is a stunning model and gave us some great, strong, dynamic poses to work from. She was also fun to chat with between poses and on breaks, and showed genuine interest in what everyone was doing. 

On this particular evening I was joined by my good friends Gibbergeist and Celluloid Girl. Gibbergeist has been to Drawmelt with me pretty much since the beginning. Tonight was Celluloid's first time, both enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I can't wait until we can all go back, but it will probably have to wait until after the San Diego Comic Con. Have to save money for precious merch. 

Here are some of my favorite drawings from Monday's drawmelt. 

This was my favorite pose of the evening, and I wish we'd had more than about a minute to draw this. With that said, this pose was done in what martial artists refer to as a "horse stance," and she held this for more than a minute. That's really, really difficult to do. If you don't believe me set your feet about double shoulder width apart then lower your body down until you're in a sitting position, but with out a chair. Now stay there for a full sixty seconds. I dare you to tell me this is easy when your legs are shaking and you can barely stand. 

This is one of the earlier drawings in the evening, done as a warm up. It reminds me of some photos I remember seeing in National Geographic of a tribesman standing, one foot up, one hand holding a spear longer than he is tall, looking out over the African vista. That photo always struck me as being very serene. I tried to get some of that sense here. 

I have a lot of work to do on being able to draw hands well every time I need to. On the recommendation of the host, Satine, one of my drawings tonight was focused on getting just the hand. This isn't too bad, but there's a lot of room to improve. 
This was one of my favorite poses of the evening. Ashpord had this great, kind of mischievous expression and attitude. It looked like she was daring someone standing behind us to come get her, but in a way that suggested a playful kind of flirtatiousness. 

After several poses we moved into holding a single pose for twenty minutes. I think this was the first of thsoe poses. It gave me time to do some basic shading, and even outline the drawing in ink. Asphord put on this fantastic air of imperious indulgence that screamed "young royalty." This was a very expressive pose that was both challenging and a lot of fun to draw. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Geek Speaking Wuffles and a Beautiful Moment

Geek Speak: Wuffles!

If I may be honest, maybe make a little bit of a confession here, it really didn't occur to me what I'd done in that first panel until I'd read it a few times. She dresses the dog in tutus and then calls it Ruffles. That's fantastic. It's completely unintentional. If Bob Ross were still alive he would probably call it a "happy accident."

Every so often when my wife and I are out (which happens a lot less now, but that's part of the parent gig) we'll see someone, usually (but not always) older, walking a dog they've dressed up somehow. I've always wondered what the dog might say if it could talk. Honestly, I don't think I'm too far off the mark here. If every living thing has its own sense of dignity, then putting your dog in a pink onesie and bunny ears is a cruel affront to that dignity. The first chance they get they'll find someone who'll treat them with respect...or smother you in your sleep.

New Email

You may have noticed a new addition to the bottom of my comic strip. I've added an email address, This is a new addition, and something new to me. I've crated a new email address you can use to reach me to ask about the comic and about my blog posts. I'll be checking my email on this address at least once a week, and I look forward to ready your comments.

Pachelbel's Canon

In this space for today's blog I was going to talk about getting a baby sitter and going to see Star Trek: Into Darkness with my wife on the eve of Father's Day. Instead I would like to write about something that occurred as I was leaving a showing of Iron Man 3.

As we live in Burbank the local movie-plex, the AMC 16, is an easy one to get to when we want to take in a movie. It's the movie complex we would go to even before we moved into Burbank. With sixteen screens they're reasonably assured to be showing one or more movies we want to watch, it's close, it's no more expensive than anywhere else, and there are a lot of restaurants in the general area to get a meal either before or after your movie.

The area in front of the movie-plex is also a large courtyard and plays host to buskers performing a variety of acts. The typical street performer at the Burbank AMC 16 is an acoustic guitar act, usually strumming out, and sometimes singing, popular music with varying degrees of skill. Every now and then there will be something unique in the courtyard. I once passed a kid who could not have been more than twelve who was dancing his heart out. He popped with great precision and moved with an effortless grace in rhythm with the music so that my mouth hung open in happy amazement. Talent calls out to be recognized.

Today was different. As I was leaving Iron Man I heard amplified music, which is not at all unusual, the performers frequently have amplifiers or stereos blaring their accompaniment. What grabbed my attention was not the fact of the music playing, but the music itself. The melody was a cascade of strings, falling lyrically over each other, like a shooting stars set to music. In a chair a man sat playing a cello in accompaniment to the music with all his heart and skill.

The selection was Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. You know it. It's been used for diamond commercials, and its frequently played at weddings. As classical music pieces go it's a bit overdone. When done with even a modicum of skill, however, it is one of the rare pieces of music that reaches past my ears to some dormant corner of my soul and pulls on my emotions.

I don't know the reasons why, but when I hear this music it transports me, carries me back to bitter and sweet memories of Colorado. I'm in my grandparents house on some summer weekday. I'm in boulder listening to a girl of no more than ten or eleven with a violin play a piece of music that's considered challenging for seasoned adults. I'm at my sister's wedding, and on like that.

Back in the courtyard in front of the Burbank movie-plex I drop three dollars into the cellist's tip jar. It's all the cash I have on me. I let the memories sweep through me for a moment, riding the wave of nostalgia, and I start to feel the tears forming behind my eyelids. With a deep breath and an effort of will I chase them back to the ducts from whence they came. To distract from my own complicated and inexplicable feelings I look around. Other people have gathered to listen.

As I look around an older woman of Asian heritage, probably in her seventies, walks past me to put money in the tip jar atop mine. She then returns to the man with her. He's a shade or two older than she, and probably her husband. They stand close together and watch the man with the cello play his music.

To my left is a younger couple. They stand, arms entwined, and smile at me as we listen to the music. Two little boys pull their mother and father over to listen to the music. Mom watches the cellist, as entranced as her two boys, the father looks critically at the musician, the mood of the others not penetrating some possibly defensive layer of cynicism. I want to call out to him, to make him look around and understand what is happening.

Those of us drawn to the man with the cello, playing to the strains of a piece of classical music we've all heard, are responding to something in ourselves that resonates with the music. In that moment we're joined in a common experience, and wrapped up in a moment of shared feeling. It is a moment of stillness in the chaos of commercial enterprise around us, and it is deeply, achingly, beautiful.

Before I know it, even a little before I'm ready for it to be so, the moment is over as the song ends. There's sparse applause from those of us watching, and the musician looks truly grateful, even a little flushed, to have his efforts rewarded in this way. I suppose it's unusual for people to pause long enough to drop a buck or two in the jar, much less to stay, listen, and applaud. As I walk away I take the moment with me.

I don't know how long I'll remember it. In all likelihood I won't be thinking of it even a week later. What I feel is this; when something is beautiful take a moment to pause and enjoy it. If you can, share it with someone, even if it's just to glance around at share a smile with strangers who are doing the same thing. Those moments can lift you up and carry you through the times when beauty seems far away. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Random Thoughts and a Serious Note

Random Thought

I found out today the stylus I bought for my tablet works not only with my phone, but with any touch enabled device. Much to my totally understandable delight this also includes the ATM. With that stylus in my pocket I never have to actually touch that filthy thing ever again! Thank you Kingston! Your wonderful little stylus will save me from picking up something virulent from a magic money machine and becoming another helpless victim in a super-virus style disaster movie. 

On a Serious Note

There is an enormous fire burning in my home state of Colorado. It's being called the Black Forest Fire because of the name of the forest in the burn area, located in Colorado Springs. At 15,700 acres it's not the biggest wildfire Colorado has ever faced, but it is a monster fire nonetheless, and it's only about five-percent contained. This has touched me personally as a dear friend posted on Facebook today that his parent's home was destroyed in the blaze, and their dog, Molly, is missing. His parents weren't at home when the evacuation order came, so they were not able to get to the house to rescue papers, photos, get extra clothes, and (worst of all) they weren't able to make it home to get the dog.

I can only imagine the devastation they must be feeling in the loss of their home, even as as we hope Molly somehow, miraculously, escaped. In light of this news I'm going to do something here I don't usually do. I'm going to solicit you, dear reader, for help. Please make a donation to support relief efforts for those facing displacement and desolation in the aftermath of what is being called Colorado's most destructive wildfire.

You can always donate to the Red Cross disaster relief fund, and they make it pretty easy to do so through their website or from your phone by sending a text message.

  • (click "DONATE"); 1-800-RED-CROSS; or text "redcross" to 90999 to make a $10 donation, which will be added to your next phone bill.
To make a donation that impacts the people affected by the fire more directly you can donate to the Emergency Relief Fund of the Pike's Peak Region. They are accepting donations through their website:

To make a donation that goes directly to people displaced by the fire you can make a donation to Mercy's Gate of Colorado Springs. They are seeking, "financial donations to help provide fire victims with emergency financial assistance, gas vouchers, food, gift cards and more."

Whatever you can spare, whatever you can donate, it goes to helping people who at this moment may truly have nothing left but the kindness of others.

On a final note. This guy is an asshole.

My friends parents lost their house, and probably their dog, and this mother fucker thinks the fire is funny. 

Dear interwebs: Find this guy on Twitter and tell him he's an asshole. I'd love to see a hundred comments on this tweet, all calling him an asshole. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Geek Speaking a Quicky Cartoon

Geek Speaking: Communication

I guess when you're a dog understanding anything a human is saying is just as surprising as the other way around. 

Zombie Cartoonist

Today's is just a quick post to make sure the new Geek Speak is online more or less on schedule. For reasons that defy understanding this week has been an unusually difficult one. Work has been stressful and requiring some extra time, which meant staying until ten-o-clock at night on Tuesday. As a result I more or less flopped over in bed and switched off when my wife and I got in last night after getting in some munch needed grown-up time with our soon-to-be-parents-themselves friends. 

Before going to bed I was able to clean up the original line art somewhat and add the speech balloons, but that was it. In general I'm trying to stick to a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. 

That's it. That's all the scintillating discourse and well wrought prose I have for this morning. 

Have a good day everyone. More postiness tomorrow.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Geek Speaking Talking Dogs in the Sketchbook

Geek Speak: A Boy and Some Old Lady's Dog

I hate it when people bring their talking dogs to the store. You never know when to expect someone's little four legged best friend to open his mouth and say just what's on his mind. In my experience it's usually something about how I smell, and it's almost never something complimentary. 

With this strip I'm introducing two new characters to the strip, both of whom will take lead roles as these develop, much like Sam, Steve, and Mark. I'm calling the man in the strip Brian, and although I've also named the dog, I'm keeping that to myself for now. His name feeds a punchline in a later strip, and I'd hate to spoil that

New Challenge: Change Things Up

Last week I bought my first Wacom product, a Bamboo Capture graphics tablet. Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl recommended it to me after Celluloid had picked one up on sale from Amazon. I'd been thinking for a while that moving into digital was a logical step to bringing my webcomic up to the next level, and talking with my friends convinced me it was time to make the move.

It's a big adjustment. I'd been playing around with Autodesk's excellent drawing app, Sketchbook Pro on my tablet, but using a graphics tablet to draw on a computer is a totally different experience. It's a lot like a drawing exercise my dad taught me where you have to look at an object and draw it without looking at your paper. My dad could probably have drawn finished comic book pages this way. My drawings from this drill resemble the webs you get from spiders exposed to LSD; trippy, but otherwise unrecognizable, and definitely not functional.

I'll be posting some drawings here as I learn to use the tablet. I've been experimenting not just with drawing, but with painting in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I don't work with color very often, but I'd like to post the occasional color comic, and I want to branch out artistically. 

As excited as I am about learning to use the tablet and Sketchbook Pro, it has presented me with my first setback. Sketchbook Pro's text editing feature is limited at best, tacked on as a barely workable afterthought at worst. When adding text layer you can change the font, the size, and make the text bold, italicized, or underlined; but that's it. There are no controls for changing the alignment, font style, or anything else. As I write this, it doesn't sound like much of a limitation, but it had an unforeseen side effect in that it's not possible for me to add dialog or word balloons using Autodesk's software. Comic strip text is usually center aligned, which I've been doing just long enough that trying to do it any other way just looks wrong. 

That's not to say I'm not happy with the software. It's a powerful tool, and I as I get more comfortable with it I'll be using it to do my shading and coloring, at least. For the foreseeable future I'll continue to do the initial pencil drawings and ink on paper, then scan it into the computer for the rest. 

This will change the look of my cartoons, but I'm hoping that it will be a change for the better.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Geak Speaking the Clouds of Lost Memories

Geek Speak: To the Cloud

The cloud is a really popular concept in technology right now, but I think it may be overused to the point that people, even businesses, who use it regularly have lost sight of its meaning. Cloud computing is a jargon term without a non-ambiguous or scientific definition. Loosely defined it could mean any distributed computing system that allows you to run an application on multiple computers at the same time. 

Jargon aside its my belief that we're seeing a new kind of tech bubble, a "cloud bubble" if you will. Entire companies have built their revenue streams on deploying users "in the cloud," which basically means helping organizations transition their users from internally managed infrastructure, to resources that live in a distributed network provided by companies like Microsoft and Google. There are people out there making a really good living moving businesses to the cloud, and they don't even know what that means, though I doubt many of them take things to this extreme. 

Memory Fail

Last week, as I was walking to get cash to use as change for the yard sale someone shouted my name. I turned in time to hear my name flung by a female voice from the driver's side of a red Prius. Not knowing if this was someone trying to get my attention long enough to gun the engine and take me out I approached cautiously. 

When I got around the drivers side an attractive woman with light brown hair and a brilliant smile greeted me enthusiastically.

"Hi, Isaac," she effused. "it's so good to see you!"

In that moment, that very second, my mind went blank as a canvas before a painter's brush brings forth its masterpiece. Blank as a page before the author pours out their emotions, depicting images with words. Blank as the stare I got from the popular girl just before she peed herself with laughter because I'd asked, "Will you go out with me." 

Not recognizing her and not knowing what to do, I did what anyone would do in the same situation. I played along hoping for some clue to emerge as to her identity and our relationship. As far as I know I don't suffer from amnesia, but...I'll get to that.

"Hi," I said and slid gracefully past the point where anyone else would use a name, "It's good to see you too, how are you?"

We exchanged pleasantries and then she mentioned my wife.

"How is [Mildly Sensational] and your little girl! Isn't you're wife pregnant again?"

AH-HA! I thought, now we were getting somewhere. She knows my wife and she knows we have a daughter, and she knows we're expecting number two. She must have worked with my wife! I congratulated myself for my cleverness and the girth of my deductive member. 

"She was pregnant when we did yoga together? Your daughter's about two now, right?"

FUCK! My deductive member dropped down, flaccid and embarrassing. No, really, it happens to everyone eventually. My wife never took a yoga class with anyone she worked with.

After that we talked about work. She told me about her business that was right around the corner, back the direction I had walked, and I told her I work on the sixth floor of the building across the street. 

That's when she suggested we should have lunch sometime. The jig was up.

"I'm sorry," I said, "but I'm drawing a complete blank on your name."

She was amazing. Her face dropped for just a moment in that 'he doesn't remember me' look that I get when this happens...more on that later...but she only drooped for a moment. She rallied admirably.

"I"m [Clicky]," she paused for just a moment, "your college R.A. (resident's assistant)." 

It all coalesced in a moment, like Dory in Finding Nemo when she remembers the whole movie in a flash after reading "Sydney" right at the end. There was even a musical montage. My reaction was subdued and dignified.

"OH MY GOD, [CLICKY]!" I yelled and threw my arms over my head in a totally dignified way. "I'm so sorry! Jesus, of course, I remember, god I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry," was repeated many times much to her great amusement. That awkward moment behind us we agreed that meeting for lunch was a great idea. To be honest I'm not sure why I didn't draw that connection earlier. Clicky's smile is absolutely unmistakable.

I do this sometimes. It's never on purpose, and it's certainly never to hurt someone, but I forget who people are. I have a terrible, terrible time with putting names to faces. In her case I haven't seen Clicky (and no, that's not her real name) in close to twenty years, but that's not really an excuse. I have trouble with names and faces with someone I haven't seen in a much shorter period of time. 

Once I drew a blank on a woman's name when my wife and I ran into her in a restaurant before moving to California. I hadn't seen her in six to eight months, less than a year anyway. For the life of me I could not remember her name. What makes this terrible is I had done a play with her. Wait for it...not only had I been in rehearsals with her every day for weeks, BUT the play required me to kiss her. This person I had worked closely with, and shared a kissing scene on stage, was being really nice to me, but I could not remember her name. Still can't.

If I'm talking to you, and it looks like I may have forgotten who you are, it's because I probably have, momentarily. Please don't take it personally, this is something I genuinely, deeply bad at. Just give me your name again, I'll make the connection, be terribly embarrassed, and we can continue to have a nice chat. 

In Clicky's case her face and name (her real name, not Clicky) are now permanently etched onto my temporal lobe. No really. There's a tattoo place in Hollywood that'll do that for, like, fifty bucks. The side effects aren't that bad either BARK BARK BARK.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Geek Speaking the Sushi of Yard Sales

Geek Speak: Super Sushi Lunch Break

I love the idea that on most levels superheroes are just like the rest of us. They have to eat, they have to pay their utilities, and they blame farts on the dog. In the case of the Justice League I suppose they have to be very discreet when ordering seafood of any kind, but especially with sushi. There'd be no way of knowing if the contents of the take out box are the professionally prepared remains of someone Aquaman used to know. "Oh, you knew this guy? That's roughie (har har). If it's any consolation, he's delicious."

The Yard Sale

Last weekend my wife and I participated in that grand tradition of American suburbanite culture; the yard sale. Friends of ours, Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl, live in an apartment that includes two garage spaces for their use. Neither of them uses a garage space to park their car, as far as I know, and both garage spaces were full to bursting with stuff. They got married recently and consolidated all of their belongings. Despite what you may have heard it's very difficult to cram two lives worth of accumulated belongings into a two bedroom apartment. Not and have it be someplace that meets fire codes, or that you can walk through without dying under an avalanche of knickknacks.

Tea Leaf is in the process of launching himself as a professional photographer, and needed to clear some room that he could use for studio space. Not having a yard big enough to easily accommodate the overwhelming volume of stuff they would need to move, the dynamic duo of Tea and Celluloid asked if they could borrow ours. We've had piles of stuff to get rid of for ages so we said, "sure, why not."

Early on a warmish Saturday morning Tea and Celluloid arrived with a Uhaul truck full of boxes of once treasured possessions that we would exchange with total strangers for cash. The tone of the day was set early when Tea and Celluloid arrived and a car stopped behind the Uhaul truck and waited. Tea got out of the truck and talked to the driver who wanted to know if this was where the garage sale was going to be, and if he could start rummaging. It was six in the morning. All of our advertising had indicated an eight-o-clock start. Two hours early, nothing is unpacked, and this asshole wants to know if he can start buying stuff. As it turns out he was the first of many vultures who would descend on us as we were trying to get everything out where people could come by and browse.

Maybe it's just been a long time since I took part in a yard sale, or maybe I haven't done enough of them, but I was stunned by the characters who came out.

There was a very elderly lady who told stories about being a Lucille Ball look alike handing out cigarettes in Atlantic City, who then chastised us to watch Fox News so we could learn all about how Obama is destroying the country.

There was the guy who spent fifteen minutes looking through Tea's collection of Dreamcast games before buying the Dreamcast, controllers, and games. Two hours later he brought it back and demanded more money back than he'd paid for it in the first place because the games, the ones he'd spent twenty minutes looking at, were "illegal" copies. In reality one of the selling points of the Dreamcast was that it let you do that. You could buy a game, and make a copy to use as a back up. One my neighbors eventually bought the Dreamcast. He was hilarious. His face lit up like a kid at Christmas getting the one thing in the whole world that he'd always wanted.

There was the homeless guy who wandered past with the cliche forty ounce bottle of malt liquor in a paper bag. He bought a copy of Twister so that he could use it as a teaching tool for wrestling, apparently. That one I try not to spend too much time dwelling on.

One lady bought something off of Tea for a dollar less than he told her he wanted. He said "three dollars," she said "ok I give you two," he said, "no three," she said "si, two," and took two bills out of her purse, he said "NO, THREE...hey where are you going." She had handed him two dollars and just buggered off with his stuff.

Several people came by who were evidently buying things to turn around and sell them elsewhere. Two older guys bought all of my CDs at some point. You never know, but I'm pretty sure neither one of them listens to "Five Finger Death Punch."

The day went on like that. Mostly nice people came buy who were genuinely looking for the hidden treasures. Tea had a couple of bites on a very high-end, very expensive professional camcorder he was trying to sell (probably still is if anyone is interested), but nothing very serious. Celluloid sold some clothes, some collectibles, and several odds and ends. Mildly Sensational and I sold a bunch of her clothes, some baby clothes, a toaster oven I never used, and a few other things. In the end all of us made a good amount of money.

I just wish I'd been able to sit down with my sketchbook and draw some of the loonier people who stopped to peruse the treasured things we no longer have room to accommodate.