Thursday, January 26, 2006

Just Another Monkey

This is worth watching, if you have time. It's a "filmstrip" with audio, hey, just like grade school! It takes a while to download, so be patient. You'll understand me better if you watch it, because I pretty much agree with it completely. :)

Meanwhile, life goes on and is still good. My new webcomic is up, finally; there's more about it in the Artblog. It's only 3 weeks late, which is pretty good for me, considering what happened with MFH, and also how busy I am! I hope you like it as it unfolds... it will update every Thursday.

That's about as fast as I'll be able to do it, because I've got a lot going on in my life! At work, we've had a minor crunch this past week as it's the end of the month, and that means a "milestone" - a set of things and amount of progress that must be delivered by this Friday. Much like the construction business where I used to work, scheduled milestones are very very important; we're contractually obligated to get all these things done, and if we don't, there had better be a damn good reason, or we can be penalized financially. Some game developers have gone out of business because they kept blowing milestones on the only game they had in house, and the client eventually pulled the project. We will not do that, we're in great shape and this place is a really talented and professional house.

My work is at the front end of the workflow, so I don't usually have to worry about anything at the end of the month, and in fact right now I'm significantly ahead of where the guys downstream need me to be. Of course, there's always a few little things that crop up just before milestone and I've been dealing with a little sketch here and a change there this week. Producing a game (or any other entertainment) is always something of a moving target, there are always little ideas that crop up here and there, and things that have slipped past notice that suddenly we do notice, which need to get incorporated into the game, and that means sometimes going backwards a bit. For instance, we realized yesterday that a few of our character groups will need both indoor and outdoor clothing for different levels, so I've spent some time tackling that.

This weekend TGF and I are helping a friend of hers move to a new place, and since there's no football on Sunday we're probably going to see Underworld Evolution. Yes, I'm sure it will be bad, but I have a ridiculously high tolerance for bad movies, I can take them for what they are and still be entertained. TGF put out a call to her online friends with the headline "More closeups of Kate Beckinsale's vinyl-clad ass," (wow, see why I adore TGF?) which of course is one reason why I'm sure I'll enjoy the film regardless... ;)

OK it's lunchtime and I'm not eating. That must be remedied immediately!

(edited to fix misquote of TGF. she never says "buttocks.")

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Jerry Robinson

I'd promised a while back to put up a pic of me with Jerry Robinson, creator of the Joker, so here it is:

I'm explaining to him how I have the Johnny Quick Speed Formula drawn or pasted onto all my computers and drawing boards, which I recite to hook me into the Speed Force so I can draw faster (thanks to Chris W. for that one). What? I just lost you? It's a comics thing, from The Flash. Jerry drew some Johnny Quick, see?

Huh? Oh yes, I'm wearing a jacket and tie. CAPS is a class outfit!

Here's a couple other pix from the CAPS Banquet:

The mighty Sergio Aragones (yes, that one) chats with the equally mightly Mell Lazarus, creator of "Momma."

More mightiness: Tone Rodriguez and Batton Lash.

It's Me Weekend, and as planned I'm spending it recording stuff. Details in the music blog. The Girlfriend is up at her parents's place for the weekend - hi, Mr. and Mrs. T!

Today, slept in a bit, laundry, some shopping, guitar stuff - happily, there's a small music store right up the block that I didn't know was open (it almost looks abandoned), so for some things I don't have to go up to Guitar Center or the other Sunset stores, yay!

I'll be tracking until late tonight. Working on comic tomorrow during football. Go Steelers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In keeping with the last post...

Is this the first post this week? I don't remember... ah, yes I guess it is. There will in fact be a second post, even if I have to go to sleep an hour late sometime this week. It's hard to create a new habit of doing anything, especially when you are busy, busy, busy, and also somewhat short of sleep.

First, for your amusement, my old pals over at the Web Team serve you up some photographic whimsy.

Now then, to business. Since the last post, all significant events happened over the weekend, so Thursday and yesterday you can pretty much just edit out of your calculations. Not that these days were devoid of interest or events, just that they were mundane.

I spent just about the entire weekend, which happily included the Monday MLK Jr. Day holiday, with The Girlfriend, and it was really quite pleasant. Things really are going along extra well with us, which is a very happy thing indeed. She came over Friday night with the little dog and we commenced to record music, cook food, go shopping, take stuff to Goodwill, go out for dinner, go jogging, watch movies, watch the Steelers win (despite bad ref calls and some other weird game happenings. WHEW) and somewhere in there I think we caught an hour or two of sleep.

Hm, I guess I don't need to really go into much more detail than that, do I? We had a wonderful time and did lots of fun things. I've been told that's what couples are supposed to do, but my previous experience with such things hasn't usually borne out that supposition. It's good to know that previous experience is no predictor of future events! ;)

Back here at work for the short week, I'm working on some of the tail-end characters for The Game Which Cannot Be Named - we've got a neat system whereby we can put multiple "skins" on a single character body, which gives us a lot more variations on characters in the same memory space, and this week I'm doing several series of variations on specific male and female character types. Each game level is in a different environment, and of course you find different types of people in different places, so this is our way of not having you deal with 8 supposedly different people who all look pretty much the same. And so I draw all these different variants.

There's also going to be a period of "business development here" for the next few months, which means I'll be doing a lot of new work on game pitches - we've got a lot of ideas flying around for new games we could try to do, and they're all going to need concept art. This is gonna be fun!

I'm having some difficulty with the Camaro registration and insurance, which is rather annoying. I sent in the DMV renewal back in October with the required proof of insurance, but it was last year's policy, which was expiring in December. I had done that before but it wasn't a problem last time. In the meantime, my insurance broker failed to send me any notice of the insurance needing renewal, which I did notice, so I bypassed the broker and went straight to the insurance company, working out with them that henceforth I will do business with them directly, since this is not the first problem I've had with the broker, and I don't want to use them anymore. The insurance company is fine with that, and we set that in motion, and they said they'd send the new proof of insurance directly to the DMV electronically.

Of course, the DMV sent me back a notice saying my registration is incomplete, please send in proof of insurance! Also, I still haven't received a renewal invoice from the insurance company. So, the ball's being dropped all over. I'm going to send in the proof (a copy of my insurance card) to the DMV and find out why I haven't been billed.

Well, at least that right there is my biggest problem these days!

This week at home: more recording. Also, cleaning out the closet, purging useless crap and getting ready to eBay a bunch of stuff I don't need anymore. There's quite a lot of that, so I hope to make a good bit of cash auctioning it all off. Once I've got that all rolling I'll post a link to my eBay name so if for some weird reason you want something that I formerly owned, you can get some!

Back to work. Characters don't draw themselves...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More than one post per week, please.

No, nobody's written in to tell me that, I'm just reminding myself. I don't post enough so I need to do more. Now then...

I was able to defeat my crappy cold pretty quickly, thankfully. It never got to the "concrete-filled head" stage which I so feared; I will attribute that to massive doses of vitamin C and lots of chicken noodle soup, plus drinking lots of water and juice and going to bed early. One's immune system does better if one actually gives it what it needs!

So I survived last week, though I was in slow motion at work for most of it. I'm catching up this week. Over the weekend, a bunch of stuff happened. First I went to see Chronicles of Narnia with The Girlfriend, our first movie date actually, and it was most excellent, a good retelling of the story. The CGI was most, most impressive. Since LOTR the bar has been raised pretty far.

Then I went to the CAPS Annual Banquet, where we honored Jerry Robinson, who worked on Batman for a long time and was the creator of the Joker! I won one of the door prizes, an autographed copy of Batman Chronicles 1. I was able to talk with Jerry briefly and told him how I have the Johnny Quick Speed Formula written somewhere on every place I draw, which he found amusing. Also there to help honor Jerry were Joanne and Laura Siegel, wife and daughter of Jerry Siegel, one of the creators of Superman; apparently Jerry was instrumental in helping the Siegel and Schuster finally get credit for creating Superman after getting screwed by DC for 40 years. Now that's a good guy, right there.

From there I went back to TGF's place where she was having a little party and "stuff exchange," where people bring stuff they don't want and hopefully other people think it's cool and take some. Most of it was clothes. Even though I missed most of it, TGF and I went thru the clothes at the end and found a bunch of stuff for both of us. Yay for free clothes!

Sunday was the football playoffs. The Steelers won, happily, but they have to play the Colts this coming weekend, yikes.

I finally started working on art for the new comic, more about that in the Artblog.

Hmm, I guess I don't have a lot to add at this point, so I'm off. I'll put up a post later with a photo of me and Jerry Robinson.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hoppy Nude Jeer!

Well, welcome to 2006. Having fun yet?

Actually, 2005 was one of the best years of my whole life, if not *the* best so far. Everything got less complicated and pretty much fell into place, and things got pretty darn good. I finally got to a point where I can say "I'm happy with life."

Of course, that probably means that for 2006 I'll wind up making it all complicated again and sorely challenging my happiness. But then, that's what artist types do, you see. We're never completely happy being happy, we always have to go for that next level up. We can't just do one cool painting and then stop, we have to go to the next painting. We get antsy if we're not working on something new and interesting. Unfortunately that means we're constantly stirring stuff up in our lives and causing friction and frustration for ourselves and anyone close to us. You know, throwing a monkey wrench into our own works.

It's just what we do.

So, sorry to anyone who checked here looking for phonecam posts, I was pretty busy most of the time I was away, and even worse, up in Maine my phone was on roaming (they changed the network coverage, bleah) so it would have cost at least 50 cents a minute to send posts. I did fully intend to do some phone blogging but I did a lot of running around, to wit:

Fri 12/23: At airport 7:40 (via cab, after ride home from TGF - thanks hunny :*), flight 9:55, late departure, bumpy ride, not much sleep. Sigh.

Sat 12/24: Arrive EWR 6:00 AM, picked up by Dad. Home to Dad's place, immediate sleep until 2 PM, hang out with family, videogames with my brother Matt until 1AM.

Sun 12/25: Slept til 1PM, off to Aunt Marion's 4ish, xmas dinner with most of family (cousin & his family upstate), home 11ish, to sleep right away for...

Mon 12/26: ... awake 6:30AM, to rental car place about 8ish, 10 hour rainy/snowy drive to Maine.

Tue 12/27: Probably could have blogged as I pretty much did nothing, waiting for Maine friends to get in touch with me, and was rather annoyed that they didn't. Then again, you wouldn't have wanted to read my utter grumpiness. Even TGF couldn't cheer me up.

Wed 12/28: Friends finally contacted me, had to go hunt down others, late night hangout once finally located.

Thu 12/29: Massive hangover, more hanging out, played Risk, not up so late this time.

Fri 12/30: Up at 6AM again for drive back to NJ. This time no weather, drive 8.5 hours (normal), hang out with Sideshow Steve late.

Sat 12/31: Back to Dad's, family hangout, Sideshow's gig for NYE, out til 4AM of course. Disco Fries, yay!

Sun 1/1: Late sleeping, to airport at 5:30PM, flight 7:30, very late departure, arrive LAX about on time somehow at 11PM, TGF pickup, home, to sleep 1AM.

And then to work yesterday at the usual time. We didn't get Monday off like the rest of the world because we got all of last week off - which was completely unexpected and in fact highly unusual in the game biz. Most game companies work crazy hours, and when there's a milestone due it doesn't matter what holiday is coming up. We gotta hit the milestone even if it means everyone's here 24/7 for a month and our Xmas dinner is a plate of turkey sammiches from Koo Koo Roo. So having the whole week off was a rather nice gift from the company, which I would have to attribute to some luck in the way our schedules changed, and some good management, too.

So anyway, I'm still a bit jet-lagged and groggy today, and yes of course I'm beginning to come down with a cold now. Wonderful, just wonderful. I'm afraid 2006 is getting off to a bit of a rough start. Hopefully I can nip this in the bud with Zicam and a ton of vitamin C, or the next 3-5 days will see me at just about my most miserable. There is nothing worse than a head cold to me. I have lousy sinuses and when they are stuffed I just want to lie on my back and NyQuil myself into a coma, rather than be awake and experience a sensation equivalent to having fast-dry concrete power-injected up my nostrils, hardening into a massive and expanding ball of skull-shattering pain. I really hope I can avoid that, yes really I do. :
I should have just gone right to the Zicam as soon as I got home, because the whole time I was on the East Coast I was surrounded by smokers, constantly smoking their cigarettes. Dad smokes, Mom smokes, most of my friends in NJ smoke, the bars are all full of smoke... I washed all my dirty clothes about 2 hours before we left for the airport to come home, but when I got home and unpacked, they all still smelled like cigarette smoke. It just got into everything. My suitcase reeks of it, I'm gonna need to Febreze the hell out of it.

And of course, cold and flu viruses just looove to hitch a ride on smoke particles. In a bar full of people smoking, you are inhaling all sorts of nasty bugs just itching to get into your lungs; this is a common way such things spread. Smoking if you have a cold is kind of anti-social then, isn't it? Bastidges. Figures I'd get bit that way.

Seriously, I just don't get why anyone smokes cigarettes anymore. We all know it's lethal, regardless of the virus-spreading. I mean, I probably wouldn't mind, and it probably wouldn't be bad for people, if folks just had one or two cigs every once in a while. But almost everyone I know who smokes does a pack a day or more.

Here in California I'm hardly ever subjected to cigarette smoke, because in most public places (including bars and clubs) you can't smoke, and anyway it seems like smokers are a small minority compared to elsewhere. I couldn't get away from it back east, it was everywhere. Really a massive difference. I guess that's just one more thing I'm happy to have left behind.

OK, OK, yeah I'm ranting and blathering. I'll stop. I don't have much else to write about at the moment, anyway. Oh, I put up a few pix from the trip on my Flickr page; I really like the one of Machias Bay that I shot from Rick's parents's new place down the 'Port.

Back to work...