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Showing posts from 2012

A Quick Dip

Night always came quickly to Sherman Forest. With heavy shadows suddenly about her, Robin, who could fight almost as well with a blindfold as with her eyes peeled, knew she could all but assure her victory if she only stalled for a few minutes.

ROBIN-- But that wouldn't be any fun. [advancing from her end of the log towards a rather still Inego] Don't just stand there. The game frees you from your silly scruples. [she feints high, but attacks low; Inego pivots away and flips his left fist at Robin's head; as she ducks, he flicks his staff, crooked in his right arm, at her feet; Rpbin rolls backwards, coming out in a crouch, sweeping her staff around in a defensive swing, but Inego has not taken a step forward] See? [she springs toward her opponent; the Espagnard counters with a dual handed thrust, just missing Robin's head as she drops down to perform a spinning leg sweep; though the maneuver fails to dislodge Inego's footing, it momentarily locks his forward-most …

A Cultural Exchange

Robin, Chapter 10
Previous Chapter


Over the months, Robin's band established a reputation, either as a bloodthirsty bunch or as a professional and exceedingly fair group of thieves, depending on whether you read the sheriff's signs or talked to the locals. From what I've heard, they never took more than their quarry might afford, nor kept more than necessary, reserving any excess for those most in need. As had long been the tradition of Sherman's thieves, all who resisted were treated to a heady buffet of blows, but most no longer had to seek a doctor afterwards.

Having learned their lesson from their meal with the sheriff (or at least from the subsequent posters featuring their names, their faces, and a list of imagined crimes far worse than robbery) the thieves made a point of hosting weekly dinners for any who asked, and many who didn't. Being few in number, they found it quickest and most effective to split up in their quest for guests. Each carried howler-monk…

Would you vote for this man?

Not only did someone at the AP like this photo enough to buy it, the BBC thought it was a good picture for an article on coal miners in Ohio. It sort of fits, given how some of the story's subjects view our president. Still.

All of Mitt, why not take all of Mitt?

Mitt Romney's convention started late, became best known for Clint Eastwood supposedly yelling at a chair, and helped the former governor a point or two in polls for less than a week.  Then the Democratic National Convention happened, and nothing has gone right for the Republican candidate for POTUS since.  It's been a bad few weeks, so the Romney campaign has decided to rethink their approach.  What they want to do now has been whittled down to two words, "More Mitt". 

However, people who have gotten to know the politician (as such) have historically come to think less of him over time.  Every opponent in each race he has run has come to disdain him. His statewide approval ratings by the end of his one term running Massachusetts were enough to convince him, and every other politico in the state, he had no shot at a second sitting.  His personal popularity within his party during the recent presidential primaries also dipped as time went on.

It doesn't look like…

"I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates,

"who said, 'I drank what?'"

I have come across claims before that all-natural products, at worst, cannot be bad for you. My favourite version of this was on an infomercial, where the host prefaced his pitch for some dietary supplement with the disclaimer, "Now I'm no doctor, but...". At least he was honest about that much.

Recently, I've been seeing articles pushing respberry ketones (complete with clickable ads for the stuff) written or backed by popular doctors, like the man behind the curtain, Dr. Oz. Should it surprise anyone that their argument for the absolute harmlessness of something for which they have conducted no serious human trials or long term studies might as easily justify drinking cyanide or hemlock?

Every version of the Hippocratic Oath I have read, one of which most doctors and med schools will at least pay lip service to, says something like, "Do no harm." But what about when you have no idea whether or not your advi…

"They hate our freedom"

I'm a little surprised I haven't seen this old canard trotted out to explain the sometimes violent protests in the Middle East aimed at the United States because of a film (made by Egyptians in the US) which virtually no one stateside saw or cared for.  The outrage halfway across the world certainly shows a lack of understanding of western culture and a general distrust of it--a distrust which, let's face it, is both understandable and historically justified, particularly in the case where a western government might be involved.

Perhaps more importantly, we are seeing the results of a nascent republicanism amongst a poor, underemployed populations who have been and have felt put upon by their governments and the world.  These events and circumstances are obviously beyond our ability to control, but I wonder if we could not influence them in a finer way than we have in most of our dealings with that region. Perhaps a new Marshal Plan is called for.  Any attempt at convinci…

Boors

Robin, Chapter 9
Previous Chapter


Whatever faults he had, the sheriff of Notsburry was a dedicated fellow.  He never called in sick, often worked late, and rarely took a day off--even then, you might find him in his office, going over unpaid traffic tickets or searching some septuagenarian's deed for actionable flaws.  Wulf's hard work had its rewards. Quarter-over-quarter profits through property seizures and auctions were up year after year, which meant bigger bonuses and better Christmas parties.

Still, Harold didn't want to push himself too much.  To relax, he made a point of taking a strolling patrol twice a week along the outskirts of town, never handing out more than two frivolous citations on his way to the charming Boor's Head.  This was one such day.

[As the Sheriff enters the pub, Robin's party is already seated, their plates cleaned, the men quaffing their beers and arguing animatedly.]

ROBIN-- [noticing Wulf] Ho, Sheriff! You are a just and righte…

Meaning and meaninglessness in an atheist's mind

I am an atheist.  I make comics and write a blog, both entitled 'Pointless Man'.  From these bare facts, one may arrive at two questions:

1) Do I believe life is meaningless?
2) In order to remain consistent and coherent in my thinking, should I believe life is meaningless?

and a corollary:

3) If I take life to be meaningless, should I (or be considered) a nihilist?

The short and overly simplified answer to these queries is, "No."

Religions tend to hold there must be some great arbiter (or set thereof) in order for there to be meaning.  Those who think so will naturally assume atheists either admit to no meaning at large or else have made a mistake somewhere along the line (aside from not adhering to some particular spiritual dogma), but it is not necessarily so.  After all, few will deny me the ability to comprehend what I have written so far or that I have a purpose in doing so.  Nor is it clear how a deity must be around for me to write this, understand it, or hav…

Explication

Robin, Chapter 8
Previous Chapter


Few of Lance's fellows stayed on with Robin.  There was general agreement amongst the deserters that bear attacks, little girls, and fires were ill omens in a forest.  Those who remained were loyal, if not to their new leader then at least to their hunting grounds.  They were further united by their somewhat conflicting emotions of love for Robin's theatrical displays and fear of her long sword.

Down from a high of thirty scoundrels, Sherman now held six thieves, Robin; the three Wills: Will Scathelocke, (a wrestler of some repute), Will Scarlet (Robin's wayward cousin, it turned out), and Will Stutely (a former derivatives trader who had decided he should be more honest with himself), none of whom would agree to go by 'William'; the one Bill, Bill Mayer, who guarded his singular given name with wit and a tongue as sharp as his knife; and John Jack Johnson, whip quick, just as thin, and the last person anyone would have expected to …

Typing on a tablet sucks.

Problems with my computer require enough work to set me back from using it (and my scanner) for awhile. The upshot is most of my computing now must be done via my Kindle Fire--though I'm taking a much needed respite as I type this from a library PC.  As a gadget, this kind of tablet is cool.  As a tool, it ain't so great.  And, honestly, that extends to the iPad, as far as my experience goes.

I can hardly wait for Microsoft Surface tablets.  I'll just need to find some way to scrounge up the money for one by 2013. As the comic says, "For every problem, a solution. For every solution, a problem."

A different approach to the gun control argument

On a thread at the Stranger's Slog, I noticed a semi-reasonable gun-rights advocate arguing that all the talk about the various shootings and rampages throughout the US (and any discussion of banning or regulating assault rifles or extended clips) was merely tangential to the issue at hand. What was necessary to have an adult conversation, he said, was a list of desired ends. Granted that his position makes no sense, and flies in the face of how reasoning has typically been done the world over for more than two thousand years, but I thought I'd try things his way for a change of pace.

1) A responsible gun culture (in terms of ownership, politics, and policy), and the fostering of such by federal, state, and local governments and relevant NGOs.
2) Reasonable restrictions and restraints on the sale, ownership, and use of weapons such as guns.
3) Accountability of gun sellers, owners, and regulators in the case of gross misuse, misconduct, or general bloody rampage.
4) That it sh…

A Celebration

ROBIN, Chapter 7
Previous Chapter


The next morning, in the false dawn, while the majority of the thieves slept and their sentries continued to drink, Robin snuck into their camp.  First, she found her pet pony.  Then, dropping a glazed ham in front of Bucskin's tent, she opened up a jar of honey, and let it drizzle on the ground as she and the pony made their way back into the forest. 

Soon, a bear traced her path into the bandit's midst.  Just as the beast settled down to enjoy its breakfast, a flaming shaft flew past its ear and embedded itself in a tent.  This deserved little of the bear's attention, but when more such arrows were loosed and the fire began to spread, that was a concern.  The camp's sentries thought so too.

Of course, no one likes to be roused from drunken slumber into hungover-reality, still less to be so awoken by roars, cries, and the clanking of pots and pans, but that was the thieves' alarm system--whatever else might be said of it, few slep…

Services Rendered

Robin, chapter 6
Previous Chapter


That afternoon, Robin fulfilled her childhood dream of buying a pony.  In short order, she also purchased a cart and several barrels filled with liquor for her pet to pull.  Before the sun set, Robin and her acquisitions were well along a road Bucskin's men liked to patrol.

As Robin travelled, suspicious figures dressed in green began to filter out of the forest, falling in a ways behind the cart.  In all, there might have been a baker's dozen.  They tried their best to appear harmless, though none would mistake them for anything but bandits as they hungrily sized up the girl and her cargo.  When the robbers felt certain of their quarry, they unsheathed their daggers with a shout, and drew around the cart.  Robin let herself be surrounded before making a brief show of trying to run.

ROBIN-- Scurrilous thieves!  Scoundrels!  Scum!

LANCE-- [slipping away his dagger and stepping forth from among his cohorts; with an official air] Tut, tut, miss.  …

Every thief must go.

Robin, chapter 5 
Previous Chapter

Robin kept herself busy through her unemployment doing chores and practising martial arts, but mostly she spent time playing in the woods.  The bears avoided her, and she kept out of the thieves' way, as much as she could.  This was no easy task, for Sherman's Forest had its share of scoundrels.

Chief of these was Lance Bucskin, infamous for scamming old ladies and still more renowned for his hatred of puppies, which he would kick whenever the chance arose.  Even his own men found his proclivities distasteful, but he had a way with weapons and highway robbery which held his fellows in awe.

LANCE-- [clad in all green with a pointed cap; has a devil may care attitude; close cropped blond hair with a well waxed van dyke beard; 28 and in peak condition, he loves exhibiting his physical prowess as much as he enjoys booting little dogs; he is holding up a family as his rapt minions stand by] They're really not all that hard to impress. [taking t…

Reading requires effort, but so does lying about it.

Right wingers, Republicans, and libertarians who flog the Constitution of the United Sates of America to push their ideology of 'limited government' (except in matters of defence) have forgotten their sacred document's preamble.  "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."  According to the Constitution, a founding purpose of the government it forms (and continues to inform) was to "promote the general Welfare".  Now, one may argue as to what policies do just that, but one cannot claim the Constitution makes no provision for it without either lying or being grossly ignorant of the writings in question. 

Though it is against my nature, I try to be charitable when it …

Stealing Home

Previous Chapter


Robin, chapter 4

The constable recalled what he could of his pride, did his best to tidy the clothes he had left, brought himself upright, and knocked on the quaint cabin door.

ROBIN-- [answering the door; innocence personified]  Ah, Sheriff.  What a pleasant surprise. [the sheriff himself is too distraught to respond] Come in.  Come in!  Grandma's out fetching water for tea, but she'll be back in a moment.  We've some excellent scones and jam you have to try, and nothing goes with them like hot tea.

SHERIFF-- [recovering his wits; coldly]  No. [holding up the foreclosure and eviction notices] No, I just came to deliver these.

ROBIN-- Those?  Why, Sheriff, after all I've done for you today, you'd have me homeless?

SHERIFF-- After all you've done for me today, I'd lock you in jail, if I weren't already serving these.

GRANDMA-- [appears behind the sheriff, whom she is slightly taller than; snatches the papers from his hands, and begins fol…

To Grandma's House

Previous Chapter

Robin, chapter 3

Robin had sold her entire load of vegetables before lunch. After winning an impromptu cudgel bout (and a number of bets upon it), she was returning by her usual route [carrying her sword, staff, bow, and quiver of arrows, and a small purse with the day's earnings] when she spotted Sheriff Wulf ambling through the woods.

ROBIN-- [after tucking away her purse] Ho, Sheriff! Whither goest thou so merrily a this fine day?

SHERIFF-- [uncomprehending] What?

ROBIN-- Where are you headed?

SHERIFF-- [stiffening] And what business is that of yours, little girl?

ROBIN-- Oh, the forest wends and winds. We wouldn't want you to get lost.

SHERIFF-- [checking his compass] And who are you to care if I lose my way?

ROBIN-- Just as you say, only a little girl.

SHERIFF-- [pointing] And why would someone like you carry weapons like those?

ROBIN-- Do you always start sentences with conjunctions?

SHERIFF-- And--no. What are you doing with that staff?

Harold was fam…

Do not read this...

...before you read the previous chapter linked right here.

Robin, chapter 2

Young Robin lived with her grandmother in a cabin in the wilderness of Sherman's forest.  There, they tended a lush garden, and kept several hens.  Whatsoever they had in excess, Robin sold at the nearby market in Notsburry.

Robin-- [14 years old, not overly short (and still growing, she would add), happy, and slightly reckless; clad in simple trousers and a loose shirt; fair skinned, red headed, lightly freckled; lithe and spring heeled; she is a born athlete] When there was nothing to sell, I would perform at the market.

GRANDMA-- [a friendly, sturdy presence; tall and muscular with impeccable posture; dressed similarly to Robin; she has greying hair and a well worn smile] She's famous, you know.

ROBIN-- [never flustered] Not really.  I do tricks with a bow, staff, or sword, and when I get tired, I play music.

GRANDMA-- She can pry pennies from the most miserly of merchants.  [both grin]

Still more f…

The opening salvo should include a right hook:

Many years ago, in the proud nation of Murka, good King Richard found it wise to retire after embarrassing photos came to light.

[We see pictures of wise King Richard (could be a middle aged cousin of Harrison Ford) in enlightenment era royal garb, messily eating a chocolate cake, his face covered in frosting.]

KING RICHARD-- [looking at the photos]  I don't see why I should put up with this!  Screw 'em all, anyway.

[Newspaper headline: DICK TO RETIRE, SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY]

KING RICHARD-- [boarding a plane, carrying a suitcase, wearing sunglasses, cargo shorts, and a Hawaiian shirt] Have fun, Johnny!

And so the king's frivolous brother, John, ascended the throne.

KING JOHN-- [dressed in designer jeans and an overpriced polo; a young dandy with affectations of being an everyday guy; looks like a young Harrison Ford; slouching on throne, tipping crown to a jaunt] This hat is ostentatious.  Bring me a baseball cap, some coke, and a cheap beer.  Does this place have pay-per-…

'((BORDERS))' & 'The Blue Trees' at Westlake Park

For the last few weeks, two public art projects have coexisted at Westlake Park, in the thick of Seattle's downtown.

'((Borders))' is by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, a metal sculptor who seems primarily interested in featureless people in various states and positions.  Originally installed outside of the U.N. headquarters, it is supposed to reflect something (or other) about multiculturalism.  Passersby seem most interested in the composition of the statues. Thoraninsdottir's site is pretty cool, by the way.

Konstantin Dimopoulos's 'The Blue Trees' is meant to bring trees into contrast with their surroundings, and so remind people of them.  By extension, this is supposed to bring attention to deforestation, over-logging, and the like.  The actual effect is mere surreal wonderment, but anyone so confused can read the small sign standing in the middle of the park for clarification.

I'm not sure how successful these are in achieving their stated intentions, …

For Every Problem, a Solution (5)

The final installment of the 'Solution', unless I decide to draw out the following ideas:

-Glen Danzig in 'Heavy Metal Human Sacrifice'
-Two Face in 'Homophobia'
- Steve Martin, as Navin Jackson, in 'Jerks!'

For Every Solution, a Problem

A guest comic by my coworker, Lo Blanco.

For Every Problem, a Solution (4)

God as depicted throughout the ages.  No Alanis Morissette, and, no, that isn't ironic.

For Every Problem, a Solution (3)

Nat Turner and John Brown are both famous in the United States for having lead failed slave rebellions in the decades before the U.S. Civil War.  They have each inspired several artistic and historical works.  I read "The Confessions of Nat Turner" when I was 14, but have yet to read "John Brown's Body".

The KKK are, of course, racist dicks who Superman beat up.

For Every Problem, a Solution (2)

Each panel originally had a caption, a feature which was scrapped in a silly attempt to bring cohesiveness to the page as a whole.  They were as follows:

panel 1 - Pig fingers!  Carrot hands!  Cannot draw!

panel 2 - Focus off.

panel 3 - Perspective is a matter of perspective.

panel 4 - What, me worry?

In thinking about it, I suppose I might have impanelled these in the orange bar at the right, but it probably would've been a bit much.
...

I'm not sure how wide-spread the campaign is, but in  Seattle, there are numerous billboards and bus signs which read, "Jesus is ____."  I want to play mad libs with these things, or else write in, "a day labourer."  Other acceptable answers include, "bearded," and, "featured in a Leonard Cohen song."

For Every Problem, a Solution (1)

Writ in bold, on three separate lines: Little Black Dress

Those words open an American Apparel add with a picture of an attractive, young lady in (you guessed it) a black dress, posed with her right arm dangling down to her parted thighs, and her shadowed left hand partially sticking out from behind her matching hair (styled in what is almost a flopper's short page-boy).  Her breasts are mashed to her body behind a sheer lining (also black), allowing her to have a medium neckline and a low cut front at the same time.  Her expression is inscrutable, and not far from blank.

What's interesting in this add is the very small text beneath the gigantic declaration, "Little Black Dress":

"Meet Lea.
"She's a French tomboy and actress hailing from a family full of boys.  She's a French tomboy, tennis player and actress from a family of all boys."

If it had stopped there, or continued on in that pattern, I would have been impressed.  She's a French tomboy, short order cook, tennis player, and actress from a …

The purpose driven life.

In the purpose driven life, original intent rules: whatever something was made for is its purpose, and any other use is a perversion.  Accordingly, those who deride and condemn homosexuals for breaking this primary rule--one which itself seems more to follow from fiat than design--also refuse to drink milk, because it is intended for infant cattle; to eat peaches, because those are meant to nourish new peach trees; to partake of honey, which is supposed to feed bees; to use paperweights which were ever anything else; to flip coins; to vomit; to accept medically administered suppositories; to make origami with anything but origami paper; to make paper airplanes at all; or even to use paper, which is just repurposed pulp that should be either doing its work in a plant somewhere or else rotting into new life.  These people are never specious hypocrites, because that would clearly go against God's plan for them.

Does whatever a spider can.

Getting good at drawing Spider-Man seems like it would be both fun and headache inducing--appropriate to the character.  It's harder to draw him than you might think.  Spidey is a funky dude.  He moves like a nerd with superpowers where his lower ribs should be, only with panache.  That's hard to capture.

Then there's the web design on his suit.  I like drawing patterns, but it's difficult to get this one to conform to the body, and harder still to not let it distract from more important lines (his head's contours, for example).  Using nib pens and brushes would help, I'm sure.  Multiliners probably weren't the best choice in this situation, but they felt more comfortable otherwise, so I went with them.

Despite having read hundreds of Spidey comics over the years, I never did any firm sketches of the guy until I set out to make this drawing as a Christmas present for coworkers' children.  I think the lack of experience shows, but kids hardly notice …

bizzarre kindle sketches

Something along the lines of what I might draw in the margins of someone else's papers or on a receipt at work. The big difference here is this was done with my thumbs. Not the most nimble digits, they. I also made an attempt not to go with my now standard starting point of the eye. Doing the same thing all the time gets comfortable, and may be good practice to start, but is ill conducive to creativity. If sketches like these are to be anything but mindless ticks recorded on paper, the sketcher has to at be willing to be weird and forget his usual tacks. Sometimes, I am successful in these minor endeavors. It's a little harder using just my thumbs, though. Have been considering getting a stylus to remove such excuses, but first, I'll need money.

My dear aficionados, 'fan' derives from 'fanatic'.

I understand the zealousness of the converted, how one is driven to bring others around, how sublime the joy in the newfound ideal, the sense of injustice at certain belief not universally held.  Let me tell you, fresh converts, be your interests religious, cultural, or otherwise, you will come to regret it if everyone joins your cause.  The more served, the less specialized the cuisine.  And if market-share becomes the goal, anything may be sacrificed to it.

I warn also of overexposure, burnout, and the disenchantment of those whose passion derives from the very newness of a thing.

Thus do I remind myself with every discovery I make (as, for recent example, the music of Phil Ochs).

My scanner is up and running!

This bird is not modelled on anything real, though the pose is taken in part from my memory of an African grey parrot which used to terrorize my house whenever my mom decided to let the thing run free.  The majority of birds are feathered, little dinosaurs, and should be eaten.

Photoshop Issues (yes, with a capital 'I') at the right margin are due to my wish to keep the balance it had when I drew the thing around several holes punched in its side.  I suck at Photoshop, but I'm still better at using it than getting a good photo of a drawing out of my phone. So, hurrah for my revived scanner and all it offers.  Hurrah!

As a part of my crusade against birds, here is Werner Herzog on the stupidity of chickens.

More Political Notes

-Rick Santorum seems a somewhat likeable guy who believes several crazy, distasteful things. It may not be helpful to say his ideas are nuts, but it still is less useful to fashion him an evil man because his discriminatory views don't jive with the left, centre, or centre-right in America.

-Calling a person a 'front runner' before votes are counted is just plain wrong.  Calling one a front-runner after some votes are counted is slightly misleading.  The race isn't about who the media thinks is ahead, and it is only indirectly about who gets the most votes.  What really matters is accruing the most delegates.  In the race for a major party's nomination for POTUS, the guy with the most delegates-who-will-actually-vote-for-him-at-their-national-convention is ahead. If no delegates have been awarded, there isn't really a front-runner, no matter what polls might say.

-I doubt the primary process will hurt the eventual Republican nominee for POTUS all that much.…