Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The picture to my left is of our family room entertainment system, such as it is, or should I say, such as it has been since we moved in almost ten years ago. Our TV set, half in and half out of a large niche, the cable box and TiVo in a cabinet underneath with all of the audio equipment stacked up on a small table next to it. We had the ever popular mass of cables running between the two for extra added ambiance.
OK, there was nothing broken here, it just looked like...hmmm, what's that word? Oh yeah, shit. It looked like shit, and it looked that way for almost ten years.
We had reason to hire a cabinet maker recently (I'll tell you about it sometime) and besides the main project we had him in to work on, we had him design a cabinet for the TV and audio equipment.
He came last week and we couldn't be happier. It's nothing fancy, but it sure looks a lot better than what we lived with for almost ten years.
We are getting new speakers for Christmas and having someone who knows what they are doing install them around the family room.
Oh and it's just a coincidence that there is always a football game on the TV when pictures are taken.
And lastly, if anyone is wondering, "Yes, that TV weighs just as much as you imagine!"
Monday, November 27, 2006
NBC flat out lied in their promotions for last week's episode.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
With a heavy heart, I regret to inform you that Dave Cockrum passed away this morning. After a long battle with diabetics and its varied complications, Dave died in his sleep early this morning.
Dave’s many creations--including some of the X-Men’s staple characters--brought tremendous joy to his legion of fans. For three decades, he was a beloved fixture at comics conventions across the country where he would sketch for a pittance and encourage would-be creators. Those of us who knew Dave personally will remember him as one of the sweetest, jovial, most generous individuals in the comics industry. I’ll miss my friend very much.
There are no details of services at this time. Dave asked to be cremated and his widow Paty is burdened with the news, so well wishers are asked not to call.
Dave was one of those guys, like Don Newton, who made it out of fandom and into the pros. Dave is best remembered for his work on The Legion of Super-Heroes, where he reinvented many of the characters visually, and the X-Men, where he performed the same task. I never met Dave but I loved his slick inking style and his way with costume design. He didn't draw like anyone else, he drew like Dave Cockrum. He was a big man with a big talent.
He will be missed.
My wife read an article in the LA Times where they made four turkeys using four different methods and then had a panel of experts come in and rate the birds. She made our turkey this year using the winning method and it was the best I have ever eaten (wasn't very hard to do either). Beautiful golden brown on the outside and moist, hell, make that juicy on the inside.
She had me go to the Times on-line and check out the photo instructions on the best way to carve a turkey. I followed the instructions to the letter and have to say, it was a real improvement over the way I have carved in the past. It's not the best for making sandwiches later on, as you don't cut the breast into thin slices. Instead you get these wonderful medallions of turkey breast, each wrapped in a piece of golden brown skin. It looked great on the platter and on the plate and we devoured this bird.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
...AND THE WINNER IS...
Thursday, November 23, 2006
There is the November elections, which pretty much put an end to the abuse of power in this country by the Republicans. Someone needed to bitch slap those people and the majority of Americans finally saw the light and let them have it on both cheeks.
Yesterday was my father's 85th birthday and he is in good health and mind. I go to pick him and my mother up for Thanksgiving in just a few hours.
There is little chance that I will be losing any more data on my PC due to a hard drive crash. When I boot up my PC displays the message to my left, letting me know that all data is being copied to multiple drives.
I have a logo for my BLOG, it's the one directly above me. I saw a cool mountain spring, its water flowing out of the ground and cascading over rocks as another kind of "Source" so added that visual to the site.
My son has been off the nicotine patch for three days now and seems to have kicked the demon cancer sticks.
My wife is back in the home after spending months earlier this year 400 miles away working a temporary job. My bed seems a lot cozier since then and it's great to have someone to share things with.
Finally, I have this place and others on line where I can express myself creatively. It's also good for getting it out of your system when that is deemed necessary.
That's my short list, how about you?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I watched every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft take off and land. My mother held me out of school whenever NASA did something that was televised. She felt that watching history as it happened was more important than reading about past history.
The moon landing happened while I was in junior high school and I belonged to a Space Club. The Space Club built and flew model rockets and was a lot of fun. Around the time of the first moon landing, Shell or one of the other gas station chains gave away a sheet of perforated paper, card-stock thick, that if you punched it out and followed the instructions, would fold into a Lunar Module. I had a couple of them (wish I still had them) that I built and one day decided to make one that actually flew. I set out to make a model rocket Lunar Module.
Now the first and most obvious problem is that the LM was never designed to fly in air. It's lopsided and out-of-balance as all hell and let's not even discuss wind resistance. It has far too much. But I wasn't going to let a little thing like physics stop me. I knew this would be a real challenge, so I decided to document the process, in case anyone else ever wanted to make one. Estes, the biggest maker of model rockets (then and now) had the sheets you could lay out your own designs on. I picked one up at the hobby store (I think they were free) and set to work laying out my LM.
The basic design was pretty easy, I made my LM the exact same size as the cardboard LM by cutting one apart and then cutting pieces of balsa wood the same size and shape. This actually turned into a lot of work; the LM has a lot of pieces.
I made a couple of changes to the design. First, I made the legs thicker since they were made out of balsa wood. I also put weights in the body in places to compensate for the unbalanced shape. But the biggest change was the ones you were not supposed to see.
I ran a clear plastic straw out of the top of the LM straight up (in my instructions I said to use a wooden dowel, but the clear plastic straw was harder to see). To do something about the wind resistance, I draped a large square of heat-n-shrink (you know, that clear plastic they wrap meat up with in the supermarket) over the top of the LM, centered on the top of the straw and glued the corners to each of the LM's feet. I then pulled out the sides to expose the excess heat-n-shrink and cut it away with scissors. Once it had dried I put the thing in the oven for four or five seconds and the heat-n-shrink shrunk, forming a clear plastic cone over the oddly shaped Lunar Module.
I then attached a clear parachute that I would basically drape over the model before take off. It sounds like this would not work, but it did.
I completed the model on March 23,1970 and attempted to fly it for the first time on March 27th. As I recall as I pressed the launch button, the solid rocket engine in the bottom of the LM fell out, ignited and spun around under the model, setting it on fire. We quickly put it out, but it was an embarrassing debacle for me as everyone thought I was crazy to even attempt this.
But I was undaunted and on May 9, 1970 I made another attempt to get my repaired Lunar Module off the ground. According to the stat sheet I have, it only rose about 10 feet off the launch pad and was in the air under power for only three seconds. I tried again with a much bigger engine and it flew to about 30 feet in a very stable flight.
The fun part of the LM model was watching it come down on the parachute cause it looked so cool. The only other flight I have stats for was a month later on June 6, 1970 and it was a mirror of the previous flight. The other kids in the Space Club didn't make fun of me after that; they thought it looked pretty cool too.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
If you remember the show it is really easy to remember the episodes that Robert Altman directed: they were the outrageously funny ones. If Little Joe entered Hoss into a flapjack eating contest, Robert Altman directed it. While growing up, Bonanza was a Sunday night ritual at my house and we watched it for years. As a child, nothing made me feel more comfortable, more secure than my father's laugh and Bob Altman made my father laugh. Often.
Thanks Bob for all the good times, not just for me, but for my Dad and my Mom and my brothers. Good job!
No, Great job!
Tim asked if I could come up with a cover for his "album" and this is what I produced: a slice of life from the Last Chance Trading Post in Bleak Outlook, Arizona. That's Tim leaning against the post. Tim was more than a boss, he became a good friend, though over the years he moved back to Ohio and we have parted ways.
I never really finished this piece and just threw the tones on it in the digital version. There was a lot of zip-a-tone on this at one time, but I took it off for some reason.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Well worth the read as Breslin captures the chaos of that night and the horrific act that took place in front of him. But he also captures the hope of the earlier part of that evening. He captures the spirit America used to have, before all our heroes were assassinated. Like I said, worth the read.
At least Reuters says, according to a survey, of 2,011 international travelers in 16 countries, which was conducted by the polling firm RT Strategies for the Discover America Partnership, a business-backed group launched in September to promote travel to the United States and improve the country's image abroad.
Rude immigration officials and long delays in processing visas have turned the United States into the world's most unfriendly country for international travelers.
Let's all take a bow. Finally at something, we're Number One!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I'm sick of these gougers, fucking sick to death.
CAMARILLO, Calif. - Gas prices are on the rise again, just as Americans hit the highways for Thanksgiving. Gas prices rose about 5 cents per gallon nationwide compared to two weeks ago, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday.
The national average for self-serve regular was $2.23 on Nov. 17, according to Lundberg's latest survey of 7,000 gas stations across the country.
The national average for mid-grade was $2.34, while premium was $2.44 per gallon. The lowest average price in the nation for self-serve regular was in Houston, where a gallon cost $2.05.
The highest average price in the nation for self-serve regular was in Honolulu, where a gallon cost $2.75.
California prices rose by more than double the national average, with an increase of 11 cents for self-serve regular since Nov. 3, Lundberg said.
Among California cities surveyed, the highest price was in San Diego, at $2.50 a gallon. The lowest price was in Sacramento, at $2.36 a gallon.
I was reading the LA Times this morning and an article on the front page regarding magic mushrooms caught my eye. You can speculate all you want to on my interests in psilocybin. Anyway I am reading the article and it is about a woman named Pam Sakuda and I look at my wife and say, "Hey, I worked with a Pam Sakuda at SOGITEC in Long Beach in the 1980s." I read on and the article describes her as a "Long Beach software developer."
The article continues to a back page and there is a picture of Pam, horse-teeth and all, smiling at the camera. The article is about Pam's use of mushrooms to cure the depression she had when finding out she had terminal cancer. It went on to say..
Pam was a strange person, a real computer geek. She came to the company with her own computer, one of the first "portable" computers. I think we called them a "luggable," one of those huge 30 lb. Compaqs, with the keyboard that snapped on the front of it and the small green screen that was exposed when the keyboard was removed. I can still see her walking to her office every morning, leaning over at a ridiculous angle to support that huge computer. She was a short Japanese woman with a huge horse-tooth grin. She was intense and a little scary, but actually a very kind person. I haven't thought of her in twenty years.
In Sakuda's case, weeks of counseling planted a desire to overcome her fears and sense of isolation. Since her diagnosis, she had avoided friends and kept her feelings bottled up.
The experiment took place in a comfortable hospital room, under the close watch of a medical team. She wore eyeshades and headphones with soft music playing.
Sakuda recalled sensing her husband's sadness over her illness and feeling a burden lifted from her.
"It is not logical. It comes to you like that," she said.
Sakuda died Nov. 10. Her husband, Norbert Litzinger, feels that the drug made a difference. "There was a rebirth around her and it didn't stop."
Saturday, November 18, 2006
It's hard to get people interested in Don these days, since he has been dead for over 20 years now, but those who do remember Don remember him more than fondly. Over the years of doing my site I have become the de facto Don Newton expert and when someone wants to do something on Don I usually get an email.
This happened about seven months ago. I got a call from Michael Eury, the editor of BACK ISSUE magazine. He wanted to do a Newton article and he wanted to know if I was interested. I got a paycheck, comp copies of the magazine and, more importantly, I got to spread the gospel of Don Newton to a whole new cast of comic fans.
The magazine came out this week. I'm pretty damn proud of the effort.
In his editorial Michael Eury says...
And then there is this...
Those of you who have been reading this magazine for a while know that BACK ISSUE traditionally does not feature career-spanning retrospectives of writer or artists... I've rejected several proposals from writers who wanted to do a "Fill-in-the-Blank-Name-of-a-Famous-Artist Issue" of this magazine--that's simply not our purview.
But then there's Don Newton.
Don Newton's name has popped up in letters and emails from BI readers more so than any other creator's. Many of our readers fondly remember Newton's work, and have asked for it to be covered in these pages.
From this week's Scoop e-newsletter:
Back Issue #19
Off the Presses, Scoop, Friday, November 17, 2006
TwoMorrows Publishing; $6.95
Probably the best issue of the publication to date, Back Issue #19 features an amazing and insightful cover story on the art and the life of the late Don Newton. In addition, Michael Eury gives readers the “Backstage Pass” to Geppi's Entertainment Museum in the form of a photo tour of the attraction. And if that was not enough, find out about the CBS Justice League-based pilot that never was in an Unlimited Powers feature and delve in the history of The Defenders and The Champions as Back Issue flashes back in time,
A lot of work, but well worth it to me if it makes even one new Don Newton fan. My only gripes are that they didn't mention my website and there are a couple of edits that read wrong. Oh, and a piece of art is mislabeled as being inked by Dan Adkins when it is clearly signed by Frank McLaughlin.
But hey, I got the cover, the background image on the Table-of-Contents, a four-page gallery, a sixteen-page article by me and a two-page "Memories of Don Newton" by Don's good friend Jay Willson. That's twenty-four pages of Don!
Not too shabby! Spread the word!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Produced by Giles Martin and his famous father, George, Beatles Love is a "mashup," a reediting of the original Beatle tapes to create something new and original. The project was created for a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil and has the endorsement of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison.
I for one, am pretty jazzed about this, but is anyone else interested? I've listened to the four tracks they have at the Beatles website and I like it. You can go there and hear for yourself or just wait until November 21, when the CD is released in the United States. What say you?
I'm not sure what to say about this page. The art is obviously all mine, minimal that it is. I think by this time, I was under the gun deadline-wise and I knew that if I wanted to print the thing in Shop, I would need to stop the story at seven pages (eight when you add the cover).
It looks like I didn't even bother to put tone on most of the first panel and the second panel is almost in a visual short hand (no pun intended). I remember that I drew the third panel a number of times (two or three more and I might have gotten it right). Where the huge thumb came from I have no idea.
Oh, well. There you have it. The Box, in all its radishing glory!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I remember at one point talking to my English teacher about the story as it was progressing. She initiated the talk and wanted to know exactly what I had in mind; she wanted to know what the box was. Hell, I wanted to know too.
I said, "Maybe it contains a weapon." She said, "No."
I said, "How about a kind of space genie?" She said, "No."
I said, "Who is writing this, me or you?" She said, "Even though you are in space, speak of humanity, or don't speak at all. If you want a good grade that is."
So I did my best for being 16.
And of course we have another patented Keller "big shoe" shot. This is no swipe; this was pure me.
This page is also all me. I was reading a lot of Al Williamson at the time and sort of stole the balloons from the style he used on Secret Agent Corrigan.
I obviously drew pretty bad hands. The hand in panel four is pasted over the original hand. I must have planned to do the same for panel five and never got around to it.
This page is swipe-less as well. All me, unfortunately.
Tomorrow we conclude. Isn't it exciting!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
One thing I have forgotten to mention is that if you click on any of the artwork you will see a much larger version; one you can actually read.
Well, we've made it to page three and I seem to be tiring out. The layout is not nearly as interesting as the previous pages. The second panel should have been a much more interesting shot considering it is all artwork and no dialog/caption. I got a big hand in there, but I'm not sure why or where I stole it from (though I am sure I stole it from someone!).
Panels one, five and six all seem to be Neal Adams swipes, though five might be Rick Buckler.
I still haven't figured out that you should not mix wash and zip-a-tone on the same page.
As you can see, things don't get much better when we hit page four. Sloppy design requiring lots of arrows to make sure you don't get lost. Some more bad Adams swipes and the patented Keller "big shoe" shot. I once again violate the panel borders at will and in a way that makes it even harder to tell which panel you should read next.
I'd like to say I was learning, but I'm not sure that was true.
If all goes well, tomorrow we will have pages five and six. Hmm, maybe I can shoot for five, six and seven and that way, get it all out of my system. We shall see.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
First, the design of the page and the asteroid are stolen from a Richard Corben fanzine story that came out around this time. I saw an ad for the fanzine and swiped the whole thing. Corben had an alien of some sort in his side-panels, but I went for a different story. I was intrigued by the asteroid; Corben did his with an airbrush of course, not brushed wash as I used.
BTW, these things are real old and my lettering was horrid, so I have relettered all of these in the digital files, just to make it easier to read and to spare me some of the embarrassment really old work often carries.
I don't think I stole the two figures on this page, but I see a lot of Gil Kane and even some early Jim Aparo in these two, so who knows. Maybe we can just call these influenced panels rather than pure swipes.
As for the story, I made it up as I drew each page. I had no idea where it was going. Duh!
On page two I remember that the figure in the first panel is a swipe, but I don't know who I was swiping (I'm thinking it might be from an anatomy book rather than a comic). I do a poor job regardless of who it was. Man, did I ever like to violate the panel border!
I liked the second panel a lot. I thought the time-lapse opening of the cargo panel on the ship was pretty cool. I still like it all these years later.
As with a lot of my artwork, I drew in little arrows to make sure you read the panels in the correct order. I was always worrying about that apparently.
If I get them cleaned up tonight, I will show you pages three and four tomorrow.
See you then!
Monday, November 13, 2006
I was a sophomore in High School when I created Paranoid Feature Presents. It was what I call a "threefer." I got credit in English for writing the seven-page strip, "The Box;" credit in Art for drawing the strip and its cover; and credit in Shop for printing and binding 50 or so copies of the eight-page comic.
I went for a pure space-opera cover and incorporated an octopus I stole from an old Famous Funnies Buck Rogers cover by Frank Frazetta. The title, Paranoid Feature was inspired by Bill Black's Paragon Publications line of comic stripzines.
When I get into the interiors you will see so many influences you won't believe one person drew it all. And techniques! Heck there is a liberal amount of wash (trying desperately to copy Richard Corben), zip-a-tone and Neal Adams swipes, and some Al Williamson inspired balloons and inking as well.
But that is all for another day...
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
There may be hope for this country yet.
I watched the night unfold on MSNBC, where they had Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann most of the night, joined some of the time by Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson and an ever-changing panel of people like Adrea Mitchell and Pat Buchanan. I thought they did an excellent job all night long. Olbermann in particular kept his opinions to himself most of the night, but you could tell, from time to time, that Matthews was overjoyed with the way the election was going.
Here's hoping the Democrats don't make the same mistakes the Republicans have been making for 12 years. I want to see lots of panels, lots of subpoenas and lots of Bush people taken away in chains. Pelosi says she can keep the rabid Democrats in line, but there are sure a lot of people in the party, elected people in the party, who want to see Bush's blood. That may be the hardest thing she has to control. Regardless of how it turns out, there is no way it cannot be a vast improvement over the "rubber stamping" that the current congress has given to Bush and every idiotic idea of his. Checks and balances have returned to our country.
Regardless of how it turns out, this was a great night for America and the world.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
I had to answer a few questions about what network I found on specific channels which took a minute or two tops, then TiVo went to work blasting out my old data and downloading the new listings from their server through the wireless network adaptor connected to the TiVo. All in all it took about 25 minutes to resolve completely. The best part is TiVo mapped my old Season Passes to the new channels, so everything is back to the way it was before Time-Warner moved 80% of the channels.
I don't know why the box did not do this automatically, as it has done in the past, but the TiVo customer support was lightning fast and 100% on the mark. I'm still hopelessly TiVoted to that funny little box.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
We have happily been a subscriber to Adelphia for over nine years when a month or so ago Adelphia was absorbed by Time-Warner. I'm not the only person finding themselves with Time-Warner, millions of people across the country have had this happen to them. As you may know, Adelphia was destroyed from within by its founder John Rigas, a sniveling little creep who banned soft-core porn from his cable and preached high morals while through fraud and theft stealing $4 billion from the Adelphia coffers. He bankrupted his own company and sent it into insolvency. Time-Warner and Comcast cut it up and if you were an Adelphia customer, you either ended up a Time-Warner customer or a Comcast customer. We got stuck with Time-Warner.
Anyway, back to the call. The recording mentions something about them moving all of the channels around and how they sent me a notice and a new channel listing card. I admit that I no longer pay the bills in my house, that task has fallen to my wife to perform, so I never open up anything that looks like a bill. But I quickly search the recent mail and there it is. It ends up they moved just about everything between channel 50 and channel 950 but I knew nothing about it and I also wasn't sure what date it was all to take place since it said the listing was for November.
I knew that Red Sky At Morning was going to tape the next morning (today) at 7:00 AM on channel 141, The Sundance Channel. I quickly checked 141 and it was indeed The Sundance Channel. I didn't know when it was starting, but it wasn't yesterday.
I woke up this morning at 6:45 AM, went downstairs and turned on the TV. There were no messages from TiVo that any channels had changed. I turn to channel 141; it does not exist. I look at the schedule and TiVo is still planning on recording 141 at 7:00 for two hours of Red Sky At Morning. First I tell TiVo to cancel that recording. Next I pull out the new Channel Listing and find out that The Sundance Channel is now on two different channels. I pick 125 and I tell TiVo to record it. It tells me that that is Fox Sports Network and will record the 30 minute soccer show that is on at that time. I tell TiVo to record an extra hour and a half. Then I sit there and I wait.
At 7:00 Am on channel 125 my TiVo recorded Red Sky At Morning. I'm so very glad I heeded that warning.