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So I’m in the local coffee shop, waiting for my chai to steep, and four members of a local left-wing political action group are finishing up a meeting. They’ve apparently just had a new member join up, because the leader congratulates him on joining a group that’s “hated by right-wing Zionists”, which she immediately amends to “right-wingers and Zionists”.

I turn and ask her “What about left-wing Zionists?”. She’s says there’s no such thing, because anyone who oppresses people can’t be left-wing.

I should probably have done something other than shrug and turn back to my chai, but she was leaving anyway, and where the hell would I even begin? How can I argue with someone who claims to be a left-wing anti-Zionist, yet doesn’t know what leftism and Zionism are? Would she even believe me if I told her I went to a left-wing Zionist school for eight years?

I don’t want you to think this is a problem unique to the left. I run into the same thing on the right even more often — people who live in their own little fact-bubbles and don’t even know what the words they’re using mean.

Ah, well. That wasn’t the first time I’d seen that group in that coffee shop, and it probably won’t be the last, so maybe I need to stock up on facts and counter-arguments for next time.


Jul. 12th, 2005 11:35 pm
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Crappy day

Jul. 10th, 2005 11:42 pm
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This here been one of them crappy days. Hot and sweaty, felt like someone had turned up the local gravity, and on top of that I had a headache for most of the evening. Didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Managed to get laundry done, strolled around the neighborhood a bit, had some iced tea and a brownie at Basic. Haven’t drawn anything in what feels like forever.

I’m currently just about halfway through Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche. D’you think if they made another movie of it nowadays, the distributor would work up some kind of cross-promotion with Fandango? Anyway, it’s fabulous. Lots of snappy dialog, philosophical arguments, and intriguing. I’ll have to read Sabatini’s Captain Blood at some point, but I’ve got a stack of other books that need attending to. Bruce Sterling The Zenith Angle recently came out in paper, as did Charlie Stross’s Iron Sunrise and The Family Trade, and I’ve also got Cory Doctorow’s new book, Someome Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, and John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. I need to start reading faster.
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Once it because apparent that paying my taxes wasn’t going to pauperize me, I made a small investment in a new digital camera. My old one (a Canon PowerShot A10) was bulky and heavy enough that I carried it in my bag when I carried it at all, which was enough of a barrier to casual use that I hardly ever used it. The new one, a Canon PowerShot SD200, is about a third the old one’s size, small and light enough that it rides comfortably in my pocket. Good-sized monitor too.

In other news, Ground has closed. The owner sold it, and the new owner has sold off the old furniture and is redoing the whole place. It’ll be a café, which I assume means it’ll sell coffee, but whether it’ll have cheap coffee, as well as comfy seats and wi-fi, only time will tell.

Meanwhile I’ve been doing my local hanging out at Basic, up on Erie and 8th, near the hospital. The food and drinks are good, but the seats are all hard, and it tends to be loud. Not conducive to long sketch sessions. I need a new place to sling my ass while I draw.

The reason my camera and Basic show up in the same post is this odd bit of art hanging on the side of a building right near Basic:

Weird bat-head mandalla )
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So, out till 6:30 AM last night (Games Club, then Big Nick’s of the 28-page menu where our usual waitress pegged how many orders of garlic soup there’d be before half the group had even showed up), up at 4 PM today, felt somewhat crappy, but not nearly as much so as last week. An ibuprofen and some food and wandering about in the fresh air and (last remnants of) sunlight had me all perked up. Ground was closed, alas, don’t know what the deal is with that, but Basic is open till 11 PM, and has fresh lemonade. I think I could drink fresh lemonade all the damn time. Mmmm. And they were playing a Beck album, which reminded me to check if I’d ripped my copy of Mutations. I hadn’t, but I have now.

I finally found volume 2 of Planetes; they must have gotten some more in at Jim Hanley’s Universe. I’m in vol 3 now, and damn, this is a good series. If you’re looking for a manga series that isn’t all shrieking adolescents and stupid posturing, try this one.

And some sketches:
imaginary women

More sketches over at [livejournal.com profile] sketchblogs.


Apr. 2nd, 2005 11:39 pm
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Starbucks sketches
I picked up yet another new sketchbook yesterday — a hardcover, spiral-bound Canson. The paper’s almost as good as Strathmore, and I don’t have to knock myself out finding it. I also picked up a cheap plastic envelope to carry cheap copier paper for sketching page layouts.

[livejournal.com profile] jayspec462 has not only moved into the neighborhood, but he’s discovered Ground! He was getting too much work done with his laptop, so I told him about the wifi. I retreated to the rear of the shop, where my favorite comfy chair with nearby lamp was waiting for me, with a good view of a pair of young women who waited till after I’d drawn them to start making out.

More at sketchblogs.
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Last week [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen, [livejournal.com profile] akawil, and I went over to [livejournal.com profile] immlass’s and [livejournal.com profile] mcroft’s place to try out Vincent Baker’s hot new RPG Dogs in the Vineyard.

In Dogs you take up the roles of young traveling paladins of a faith based on early Mormonism. You travel around the frontier, from town to town, exposing sin and demons and setting things right. The game’s two really interesting features are the that the players get to decide what constitutes “setting things right”, rather than having this imposed by the GM or the game designer, and the clever dicing mechanic designed to escalate conflicts and generate consequences. But we didn’t really get to that in the first session.

What we did get to was character generation (or most of it). There’s a list of appropriate early-Mormon-style names, but since we’re playing pseudo-Mormons, not historical Mormons, I indulged my fondness for old Puritan-style phrase names and dubbed my character Pleasure-of-God Fletcher. That’s not an actual Puritan name either; it comes from a line in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, a famous sermon from the mid-18th century: “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.”

Pleasure’s father is Armor-of-the-Righteous, and his mother is (I think) Charity, and I stopped there. Dogs encourages you to invent new family members in play, so I figured I’d google around for some actual Puritan names for inspiration. Check these out: Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith, Job-raked-out-of-the-ashes, No-merit, Fly-fornication, and my favorite: If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned!

That last guy was the son of a preacher and member of the British Parliament, Isaac Praise-God Barebone. His son got known as “Damned Barebone” for short, and eventually changed his name to Nicholas Barbon, became a doctor, economist, and writer, and founded the first insurance company.


Dec. 6th, 2004 12:00 am
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Feeling so-o-o-o-o uninspired. Bleh. Spent a bit of time at Ground, mostly just reading Sock, but sketched a little, even though the light was on the dim side.

One single, solitary sketch, and not even a good one )

I’m trying something new: I’ve started writing out one of my comics ideas as if it were prose. Not quite exactly as prose — I'm taking less care with stylistic niceties than I would if the prose were going to be the finished product, and paying more attention to visual details. But still. Just a few paragraph so far. Two or three hundred words. My two protagonists haven’t even met yet. But it’s something. It’s forced me to make a few decisions, work out some details.


Nov. 2nd, 2004 11:59 am
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I was voter #150 in my ward.

New Jersey (or at least Hudson County) uses electronic voting machines, but at least they're not touch-screens. There's a paper ballot fastened over a panel with lights and switches. When I pressed the square for my choice, I could feel a physical switch engaging behind the paper, and a little green X lit up behind my choice. When I was done, I hit the big red button below the panel, and that was it.

The downside is that I think my votes was still recorded electronically. Don't these people know you can't trust electronic recording of votes? Haven't they heard of wave-particle duality and quantum tunneling?! My vote could be smeared into some indeterminate third-party state!

No matter what, here's a reason to be happy.
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Saw Shaun of the Dead tonight with [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana. It really is the feel-good zombie movie of the year, joining The Frighteners in the very small works-as-comedy-and-horror-both category. Go see it, before it vanishes from the theaters.

Our sample ballots finally arrived today. I still don’t know which of the eleven candidates for mayor is going to get my vote. Hm. OK, I can cross off the guy from the “Yes Lord!” party, just on general principles. And I don’t think much of how things have gone for the arts district and the vintage Loew’s Jersey Theatre on acting mayor Smith’s watch, so he’s out. Nine left.
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This past weekend was Hoboken’s Open Studios weekend. I was hoping to have a good tour of studios to make up for missing out on Jersey City’s art. And I did get to see some, but not much.

I stayed out late at Games Club Friday night, and woke up late Saturday. Then it was unpleasant and rainy, so I bailed and just hung out at Ground.

Got up pretty late on Sunday, too. Hoboken’s tour is pretty spread out. There is a cluster of artists at the Monroe Center, but proportionally it seems like things are more distributed up there. So all I got to see was the Center. Which was pretty good; it’s a more accomplished, professional crowd up there than down here. And they hold more studio shows on the first Sunday of each month, so maybe I’ll visit again.

I stayed past the last tour bus, and walked back down through Hoboken towards the PATH, stopping off at a coffee bar on Washington that was also showing paintings by local pop-artist Robert Piersanti. I tried out one of my new sketchpads sketching a woman who was doing her homework nearby. I had just looked through Ronnie Del Carmen’s and Enrico Casarosa’s Fragments a day or two before, and I was in the mood to play around with Casarosa’s Tombo-and-water-brush sketching technique, but the paper seems to be insufficiently absorbent to really make use of it.

Sketch of woman writing in coffee bar )

And I found a pretty good music store on Washington too. They file used CDs along with the new, so you can see a disk for, say $15, and then right next to it a used version of the same one for $5. And lots of reasonably-priced imports. I picked up The Very Best of Lou Reed and The Corrs’s In Blue.
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Man, I missed all the fun.

The heart of the local art scene in this chunk of Jersey City is 111 First Street, an old industrial building (originally a tobacco factory) that was converted to studio and office space. The traditional dance of art and commerce has been taking place, and we’re now at the bit where the artists, having done their job by helping make the area look cool and interesting to new tenants, have outlived their usefulness to the landlords, and are being priced out of their living and work space.

The latest move was particularly ugly. Lloyd Goldman, the landlord who owns the building, put up signs and guards prohibiting non-residents from entering, claiming the building was unsafe (though it had not been officially declared so), and filling the halls with workmen putting plywood over the doors of empty studios. Some of the artists moved their work outside, which worked better in today’s beautiful weather than yesterday’s clouds and rain. (I was in Queens gaming yesterday, so I’m a bit fuzzy on how much of this happened yesterday and how much today. I think the workmen thing was yesterday. There were definitely artists outside today.)

So I wandered around the neighborhood checking out the various other displays local artists had put up, but the energy-to-art ratio was much higher that way, and I wound up not seeing much that was interesting. I feel cheated of a source of inspiration. I’ll have to check out the Hoboken Open Studios in a couple of weeks, or maybe head up the some Boston-area studio tours, if I can find out about some in advance. Oh, and I did a much-needed laundry.

Then it turns out I missed the action. At some point this afternoon there was a protest, and a judge got 111’s doors opened to the public. A small victory for the good guys.

I haven’t been making much art of my own. I did a bit of drawing during [livejournal.com profile] drcpunk’s game yesterday. Putting a dark background in this one really helped pop the foreground out. Holy crap I screwed up that hand.

I’m stubbornly chugging along with the brush pens, even though my fine line work is so much better. The brushed lines charge up some part of my brain that thinks that is what a comic line is supposed to look like.

Melorne waking up, about 500 x 800 )
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I discovered last night that my Pentel Color Brush had fallen out of my pocket at some point in the past couple days. I’m hoping it’s on the floor at the office waiting for me on Monday, but I stopped off at Hudson County Art Supply anyway, just to see if they’d decided on a price for the things.

They had. Five bucks each.

That’s both for the Pentel Color Brush (which I haven’t seen anyplace else for less than $8) and the Pentel Pocket Brush (ditto, but not less than $18, though that’s with four refill cartridges, and this only comes with two, but still). So come on all you NYC cartoonists, it’s just a $1.50 PATH trip and a five-minute walk away.

I picked up another Color Brush ’cause at these prices, what the heck, and I like fiddling around with those grainy fibrous lines, but the Pocket Brush has become my favorite marking tool of late. It’s what I used for those two sketches below, but the tower to the left (done at Worldcon) was done with a Pigma Micron 005 super-finepoint.

Melorne facial studies )
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Woof. Great con. Tired now.

The cab ride from NYC-Chinatown to Jersey City cost more than the bus ride down from Boston.

Hey, [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana, when did you cut out?
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Stopped off at Hudson County Art Supply on the way home, hoping they’d have some interesting sketchpads. Nope. What they did have was a couple types of Pentel Japanese brush pens, of types I don’t already have. Whee! Better yet, they hadn’t been entered in the register database yet, so they had no idea what to charge me for them, and decided on $2.25 each! Here, the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (just like Craig Thompson uses), and the Pentel Color Brush Pen.

I’m liking the marks these make, though now I’m carrying around no fewer than six ink-filled brush pens in my pocket. One good shot to the left hip, erm. I think I’d better bring my black pants to the con.
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Exercise yesterday, drawing today, I almost feel human again.

Big Melorne picture, over 800 pixels wide )

I’ve also thrown together a quick perl script to build IMG tags with HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes, so I don’t have to keep going through BBEdit. The Image::Size module does all the heavy lifting. Here, in case you need something along those lines:

Six-line perl script )

I ran into [livejournal.com profile] jcb coming out of Ground; he said I look like the weight’s pouring off me, and was surprised when I told him I’d been gaining the past few months. Testimony to the power of belly-tightening abdominal exercise, I guess. Or of wearing dark shirts with light pants.


Aug. 28th, 2004 11:02 pm
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So, I’ve been really slack on my eating and exercise for about the past eight months or so. As in, lots, and crappy and pretty much not at all respectively. I’ve gained back, well, not all the weight I’ve lost, but more than half of it. My clothes are tight, and I feel like crap. And I’ve only gotten up and gone to the gym like twice in the three weeks since I rejoined.

Today I ate more crap for breakfast, and felt pretty awful for the next few hours — not guilty awful, but tired and sick and cranky awful. Though some of that might be ’cause I got to bed at 6 AM last night. (Games Club post coming up next.)

I tottered around the City Hall area, doing some electronic shopping I wanted to get done before Worldcon. I’ve now got a cellphone, the cheapest one I could get on T-Mobile’s pay-as-you-go plan. And I’ve got a new portable CD player, with MP3 capability and real battery life.

I noticed a much higher than usual proportion of anti-Bush, anti-RNC, anti-Iraq-war, and pro-abortion-rights buttons, signs, stickers, and t-shirts on passers by as I wandered around. When I got back to the WTC Path station, it was surrounded by demonstrators ringing bells to memorialize the dead and “ring out” Bush. The cumulative effect of all the bells was pretty eerie and other-worldly, like a spirits-of-the-dead scene in a Miyazaki movie. I was tempted to get a bell (I was told someone was handing them out) and walk a full circle around the site, but tired and sick and cranky, and also needing a bathroom.

Here’s the good part: After I got home (stopping off at Ground for a cold drink, a political argument, and reading a couple chapters of The Well of Lost Plots), got the cellphone plugged in and charging, figured out how to put together the CD player, I noticed I felt better. More than that, I felt a strong aversion to junk food, and a craving for fruit and veggies. With luck this’ll last into tomorrow, and maybe even sprout a craving for exercise. It feels like a return to the healthy mindset I was in a year ago.

Now it’s time to figure out how to screen-scrape the Noreascon program and chunk it into a set of Palm Datebook appointments.
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Got a decent amount of sleep after [livejournal.com profile] barking_iguana drove me back from GC-in-E. I’d played a couple games of Fluxx (one of which I won without expecting to, which isn’t all that unusual in Fluxx) and one of Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers (which I also won without expecting to, which is more unusual, especially after the two large point-earners I’d been nursing all game were swiped from me at the end). Also, cake. And salmon. And smoochies.

[livejournal.com profile] akawil told me that [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen had called and said she and [livejournal.com profile] estheruth were at the Met, and would be going to see The Guitar Guy and then eating at Yuka; I said I’d join them at the restaurant, ’cause I wasn’t really interested in The Guitar Guy.

I needed some relaxation and sketch time today, so I went to Ground. Read part of a galley proof of a book about the Israel/Palestinian conflict that was sitting there. It was actually pretty good; I want to read more. Did a bit of sketching. Met [livejournal.com profile] jcb, showed him the preserved skeleton of an argument (and everyone who’s ever been in an online argument needs to follow that link), taught him how to make an HTML link, forgot to tell him about Xjournal. Then Akawil showed up and said no, they were going to Yuka and then to The Guitar Guy, so I joined him, and met Estheruth, and much fish was eaten, and it was good.

And then I tagged along for The Guitar Guy anyway, ’cause why not, even though he did the exact same set at last week. Including a parody of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” about yuppies. As if yuppie jokes were still relevant, and not something from twenty goddamn years ago. Dude, if you want to mock fashionable people from this decade, make fun of hipsters and metrosexuals, OK? Here, read Gawker for tips.

I made some brushpen sketches of people around us, and damn, I’m still really liking this brushpen. There’s some shadows-and-highlights stuff going on in the smallest of these sketches that I’ve been trying to pull off for a while, and I’m getting the hang of making a wider variety of marks with the brush.

Sketches )

Then I just lay back and looked at the sky for a while. We were out on Pier 45, so I could see a whole lot more sky than I usually get to see in this area. Without any buildings to use as reference, the clouds looked maybe thirty feet away, like the ceiling of a large room. Every so often a helicopter or airplane would zip by, but instead of breaking the illusion they were drawn into it, seeming like tiny flying toys.

Then we stopped off at a coffee place for beverages and ice cream and ’80s music and bathroom access. Estheruth made me feel really old, like I would collapse into dust right that minute, by telling me what year she was born in, the same year I entered high school. But she’s pretty darn cool anyway.
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[ Melorne head ]I’ve been trying to push myself to do more with shading, something I think I’ve always been poor at. Not cast shadows, but the shaded parts of objects, using solid black to create more interesting shapes.

Sketch of woman in skimpy top ) I started this one on Monday night, at the mall, waiting for the 9 PM showing of The Day After Tomorrow (quickie review: way cool visual spectacle, worth seeing just for that, but huge piles of stupid in the plot; also, what, did that tidal wave come up the East River and hook a left turn in midtown? also, moron, you’ve got an axe, break the door down! anyway...) and finished it at Ground a day or two later. I think feathering the dark regions was a mistake; it looks OK on the paper, but lousy in the scan. Some young guy came over and praised the hell out of my sketches, offered to interview me for his school paper come fall, made me feel like maybe I oughta get off my ass and do some real art.

I’m clearly not going to get any comics work done in time for this year’s SPX anthology, but it’s painting that’s got me excited right now. The other day I was strolling over to the Shop Rite to pick up some fruit (cherries!), and I was so busy looking at the surrounding buildings and running Photoshop filters on them in my head that I walked right past [livejournal.com profile] mcroft without even seeing him.
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Went up to the Hoboken Historical Museum today, for some shorts from the Hudson County film festival. I walked, which almost was a mistake, since Hoboken’s north-south numbered blocks are two or three times as long as the Manhattan blocks I use as internal calibration when judging how long it’ll take to walk some number of blocks. I got there about 15 minutes late, which turned out not to be a problem, since they were 15 minutes late in starting, almost as if they’d been waiting for me.

The two shorts I’d gone to see were Sparks — a short romantic comedy billed as involving the World Trade Center, when actually it was set in Jersey City and just had shots of the WTC to establish setting at the beginning and end, and it turned out I’d seen all but the first few seconds at 111 Open Studios last fall — and Popaganda, which I’d thought was a documentary about Ron English, but which turned out to be an eight-minute music-video-like trailer for the full 82-minute documentary. (There’s a one-minute QuickTime trailer hosted on English’s website, and “Read Between the Lies”, another video which uses footage from the short I saw, though it leaves out the naked woman splattering fake blood on a billboard of a giant coat-hanger.)

Among the other films they showed was one from 1906, a silent “Boy Detective” short (in which the protagonist appeared to be played by a woman) filmed a few blocks from the museum. I made a point of walking down that block on the way home, and it was still recognizable a century later.

I stopped at a Starbucks and finished off Mason & Dixon, which was becoming a bit of a chore towards the end. And I ate far, far too much junk over the course of the day. Y’know those new guacamole-flavored Doritos? Well, they taste a whole lot like Doritos, and not much like anything related to an avocado, but afterwards they leave a somewhat guacamolic aftertaste. I am ashamed to know this.

April 2017



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