Monday, February 16, 2015

Geek Speaking of Cowboy Science

Geek Speak: Cowboy and Hipster

To be honest, I know next to nothing about Taylor Swift except she's tall, Kanye West was once rude and extremely condescending to her, and she tends to write songs about break ups. I only became aware of the song this strip is referencing through the excellent cover done by Postmodern Jukebox.  

I don't remember what the inspiration was for cowboy and hipster. It may be that I just started drawing Cowboy boasting that you can't take the country out of the cowboy, and I wanted a character who was as much the opposite of a cowboy as possible to take some of the wind out of his sails. Now that it's done I may have to explore this dynamic in some different settings. They might be be an especially good vehicle for exploring political humor. Cowboy's conservative politics and earnestness would clash nicely with Hipster's progressive world view and sarcasm. 

It'll probably be the subject of a future Geek Speak, but I really dislike these goofy, fancy, "old-fashioned" mustaches that have spread through hipster culture like a virulent scourge of mustache wax. I tolerate them on a very few people, and only because those very people wear the mustache really well, it fits their personality, and they're not doing it to make a fucking statement. On everyone else it just looks smug and pretentious. Unless you happen to be a turn of the century bartender or...I don't know...Jack Lemmon in The Great Race, then do us all a favor and, with apologies to Taylor Swift, shave it off, SHAVE IT OFF!

I hate panel three. It looks like someone found a nozzle on Cowboy and used it to inflate him. Even though Hipster still looks pretty good, the line between his jacket and pants is off from the other two panels. I guess this means I have some work to do in locking down the style for these two characters.

Next time: more semi-autobiographical content, because I'm interesting, dammit!

As a side note, it was relatively easy to find a well written article making the case that the GOP is the party of "stupid" (an assertion I don't hold wholeheartedly, but works for the sake of hyperbole) that is supported with examples and facts, but really difficult to do it the other way around. In fact one of the search terms I  tried, "liberal fruitcake" came back with results including facebook pages and a white supremacist website! yikes. Ultimately I settled on an extremely boring rant about the stupidity of liberals that spends the first several, meandering paragraphs in defense of calling liberals "stupid." Again, it works for hyperbole.

Tales from the Dad Zone

Over the weekend of January 31st many of the museums in Los Angeles opened their doors for the public to come and enjoy their exhibits and displays for free. We don't get out into the city much, and this was too good an opportunity to pass up, so we jumped at the chance to give our children some exposure to what the museum community in Los Angeles has to offer. After looking at the list of museums that were opening their doors we decided to go to the California Science Center. It had the double benefit of being somewhere we hadn't been before, and being much more family friendly than, say, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). We were not at all disappointed.

Among the best methods to incite frenzied outings among Los Angeles parents is for someplace like a museum or a zoo to announce they are offering free admission "for a limited time only." Knowing this, we planned to arrive as early as possible. Los Angeles is famous for its terrible traffic, and it doesn't take long after arriving here to realize this is not hyperbole. The highways are packed, and about every third car is being driven by some deluded maniac who believes beyond the shadow of a doubt that he (or she) is going to beat the traffic, goddammit. That's not such absolute truth that it might have been brought down from the top of a mountain on a stone tablet, but it applies often enough to be considered a guiding principle. We've lived here long enough that we avoid the highways where it's reasonable to do so, specifically because of this guiding principle. On this day we did not, however, have a choice, so I steeled myself for what was sure to be a terrifying experience playing "dodge the deluded maniac who thinks his Mercedes (BMW/Maserati/Lexus) makes him invincible." Imagine my surprise when we did not have to. The drive there was uneventful, even (dare I say it) pleasant. 

We arrived at the Science Center, paid for parking (which was, sadly, not included in the "it's totally
free today, come check us out" deal), and made our way to the main building. Before we could get there we were greeted by an A-12 Blackbird on display outside the Science Center. My reaction was the composed, mature sort of thing you would expect from an adult nearing his forties..."OMG A BLACKBIRD! TAKE MY PICTURE WITH IT!" My dad was an aviation enthusiast, and he passed some of that appreciation along to me, enough that I've always had a fascination for planes. In the world of military aircraft the Blackbird fleets are the next best thing to legendary. Eventually my family was able to peel me away from the majesty of that beautiful, beautiful aircraft, and we made our way to the Science Center itself.

Once inside we made our way to the second level and from there to one of the kids' "Discovery Zones" the museum has set up. Then Mildly Sensational and I relaxed while the offspring lost their little minds because of all the SCIENCE! The first stop was an exploration of different animals, and the displays had a number of different snakes, including a gorgeous five-foot-long boa constrictor (I don't think I've ever mentioned this, but I like snakes, I think they're neat). 

From there we moved on to an exploration of transportation and what makes machines go. That exhibit includes an interactive display for what gives wings the lift that lets planes fly, and a working model of a V8 engine (apparently provided by Lexus, maker of fine cars for deluded maniacs on highways all over the world). 

After that was a brief exploration of their air and space exhibits that included a Gemini space capsule. Mildly Sensational wanted to see those exhibits more than anything, but about that time both kids were getting to where they were all "science-d out." Girlchild was melting down, and boychild was trying to go to sleep in his stroller, a fact that earned us an odd mix of looks. They ranged from awww how sweet to, "OMG I would so never let MY kids act like THAT." I know for a fact that only people without kids indulge in the latter. We decided it was time to go home, but not before a stop in the gift store where we bought girlchild a weird toy ball that looks like a balloon sprouted tentacles, and I picked up a package of freeze dried "ice cream." I'd never had it before. It was like an extra-thick cookies-and-cream flavored cracker. 

I took several things away from that morning adventure to the museum. The two big things are;

1.) The menu in the museum cafe is surprisingly good, even though the lines were too long for us to actually try anything, and, perhaps more importantly,
2.) It was amazing to see my daughter getting excited about science.

There is a big push in education reform to produce more scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and the big thinkers for what everyone believes will be the in-demand jobs of the future (I have a different opinion about this, but I'll save that for a different post). While I am staunch and vocal supporter of arts education, I can see the value in encouraging kids to be excited by science, but that has to be tempered with something equally important. It's not enough to make sure kids are getting the best education in science and math possible. They have to be taught that it can be fun! They should learn there is joy in discovery! Without that, without the passion to propel them to careers in these fields, what will we really produce but a generation of well educated, maybe even skilled, but ultimately uninspired science and technology laborers?

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