Saturday, December 29, 2007

It Walks! Sorta...

I cranked out my first Flash walk cycle. I started with a tutorial, but again, I wanted to animate my own drawing and not the one provided. This caused some problems, as my character was built differently, so I ended up doing the key frames on my own. Kuchisake-Onna seems to be lurching a bit, but hey, she's a monster.
Maybe I'll throw in a version later with a fleeing kid.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's Alive! Alive!

One of Santa's generous helpers gave me Flash. My mission:

1.Learn how to use it.
2.Learn how to make animated cartoons with it.

I'm still getting the hang of it, but here's my initial attempt, loosly based on a tutorial from The Art of Cartooning with Flash. I was supposed to use a robot head (provided) but I wanted something of my own.
Not the most exciting thing on the internet but I'm just getting started!
I tried to save it as a quicktime element but my machine claimed it didn't have a needed quicktime component, so this and future 'toons will be embedded flash movies until I figure things out.
It's a pretty cool program. I'm spending half of my 'Vegas vacation holed up in my room playing with it. Way more fun than a slot machine!

p.s. Thanks, Santa's Generous Helper!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bad Dreamer

Ever try to sleep in, only to be rewarded with nightmares?
I'm prone to waking dreams- the ones where you're half dozing and aware of your surroundings, but are, in fact still in dreamland.
It happened the other morning. As I drifted to sleep, I dreamed I was dissolving into running water. Trippy!*

Then the water got rough, yanking me apart and bashing me into rocks...
I thought I woke up. I floated vertically over my bed, only to be flipped foward and be thrown face first into the carpet...
I thought I woke up again. Stupid dreams! I thought. Daylight oozed through the curtains. I sat up, only to have an empty nightgown lunge at me. I screamed. One of those muffled dream screams.
I thought I woke up for real. Then a formless mess of fabric and foil ambushed me from the side. Wait! I thought. I'm still dreaming. It can't really hurt me...
...but it could morph into something gruesome! Something mutilated and awful with ripped flesh sagging like water damaged plaster!
The thing shook me like a can of RediWhip. I screamed and tried to morph into a piranha-faced creature to scare it. It was unafraid. I screamed some more...
"What's going on?" my Mom** knocked on the door as I woke up for real. "You were screaming!"
"Sorry about that," I answered, sheepishly. "Just a nightmare."
Stupid Dreams!

*I've never taken any hallucinogens so I can't blame it on flashbacks. Nor have I endured any post traumatic stress disorder ordeals. A very cushy life considering I sometimes wake up screaming.
**whom I was visiting

Fun on Mars

Here's another Sally Cruikshank cartoon, done in 1971. I like the bombardment of diverse images and the way the duck-martians (and tourists!) dance and flow in formation. She's always had a good knack for injecting whimsy and the unexpected into her work.

When I viewed this most recently, the wailing tune from the first half caught me: I knew that song from somewhere. What was it and where had I heard it?
After cranking my brain, it came from me- Duke Ellington's "The Mooche" I had a version of it on my online radio playlist- one of many songs that play when I'm drawing pics for this blog.

I was lucky enough to meet Sally recently. She's quite nice, and as cool as her cartoons.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Inside Out of this World II

More inside out logos:
Warped so the outer edge becomes the inner core, while the inner core is stretched to become the new edge (like the example above).

Inside Out Malboro looks like a poison apple...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Frog Brain Theory

Has this ever happened to you?
You're watching television, surfing the 'net or flipping through a magazine. A gruesome photo startles you. The reaction is instantaneous- so fast that, if you look away, you may not remember many details. You've somehow managed to scare yourself before taking the whole thing in. How is that possible?
That's where my Frog Brain theory comes in. Let's say I happen upon a scene from "Zombie Butcher Weasel Bloodbath III." More than one part of my brain reacts. By the time my conscious, articulate brain thinks Wait a second! That's not marinara sauce! , a more primitive part of my brain has already sensed danger and triggered the fear reaction.
I call this privative part of my my head Frog Brain.
A frog probably doesn't think, Gosh, that approaching predator could kill me. It'd better flee. He panics. He leaps. I suspect parts of our brains react the same way. The difference between us and the frog is that we can think about our reactions. Explain them. Justify them. "Of course the picture startled me," I might explain. "It was hideous! No, I don't want another look." Never mind that logically, I shouldn't be alarmed because it's only a picture.
Frog Brain doesn't understand pictures. He sees blood and hits the panic button.
I wonder if Frog Brain's dubious reactions fall beyond hitting the panic button. Is his crude sense of "that's bad!" behind our superstitions? Our prejudices? Our bad habits and behavior?

Saturday, December 15, 2007


When I was in my mid teens we lived near Disneyland. You could see the Matterhorn on the way to school (if you knew where to look). During summer the fireworks boomed nightly at 9 pm.
In 1984 my parents bought annual passes for my brother and me. We could go whenever we wanted! Disneyland became a weekly treat that I never tired of. I knew every detail of the park and the attractions within. I soon came up with a scheme where I could hit nearly every ride in one day by hitting the popular ones (Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion) when the park opened and the less busy ones (Peoplemover, Monorail, Mark Twain (the steamboat) and the Enchanted Tiki Room) during the day. I knew where to get a burger without standing in line. I knew where to see the Electric parade without waiting on the curb for three hours. When crowds or parades jammed the park, I knew the alternate routes to get where I wanted.
Disneyland never bored me. Each land and attraction put you in a remarkably believable world. For example, when you were in Adventureland, you weren't in a place with jungle decorations- you were in a jungle, thick with palms, broad leafed plants, and thatched roofs. Step a few yards away and you'd be on Main Street, with fresh paint, flower beds, and trolleys. The Pirates of the Caribbean didn't take you past a parade of pirate scenes- it put you in the action: a skull talked to you, bullets and cannons fired over your head, and the burning town seemed ready to collapse on you.
Sometimes my brother and went to Disneyland after school. We'd take the city bus, check into the park, put our homework in the lockers and stay until they shooed us out (politely) at closing time. Then we'd hang out at the Disneyland hotel until our parents got off work and picked us up. Years later they told me they figured we'd get into less trouble at the park than hanging out, unsupervised at home.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Super Owl

In my teens I lived in a semi rural area. During the day I saw Cactus Wrens, Roadrunners, California Thrashers and House Finches. At night, I heard owls. I knew they were Great Horned Owls, thanks to a bird song identification record. Great Horned Owls went "WhoWhoWho, Whoo, Whoo."
One night I had an idea. I put the owl hoots from the record on an endless loop tape. I propped the tape player against the window screen, cranked the volume and pressed "play".
Would it lure any owls?
I darkened the room and waited. I thought I heard another owl, but I wasn't sure. I crept up to the window to peek...
I froze. An enormous owl silhouette rose from the balcony railing. He was huge. I'd expected a cat sized bird. This guy was as big as a wolf: over two feet high! It was Super Owl! And just a few feet away!
I wanted to "keep" him longer, but I turned off the tape. Maybe he was lonely, I thought, When he heard the tape and thought he'd found someone special. It would be mean to have him bond with an owl that wasn't really there!
I put the recorder away. When I came back, he was gone.
I wonder if that was dangerous. He could have easily ripped through the screen (and me). What if Super Owl thought I was interfering with his dream date?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dance of the Sugar Plum Pillbugs

In my early teens I had a potted Italian Stone Pine. Each December I'd bring it indoors to decorate. A mini Christmas tree for my bedroom. I strung it with lights (I liked the needle framed blotches of color they cast on the wall) and kept a plastic dish under it to collect the water.
One December, I woke up around three in the morning to a weird rustling noise- something you might hear if you ran your finger through a bowl of dry beans. What was in my room? I flipped on the lights.
The plastic water dish was filled with pillbugs. At least a half inch of them, crawling over each other and in circles. Grey ones, black ones, even a few brown ones. It seemed they had chosen the inside of the pot as a daytime hideout (they need a cool, dark place to breathe well). When it got dark, their explorations were thwarted by the steep sides of the dish.
A single pillbug on the sidewalk is cute. A living wreath of them at the base of my tree? Not cute!
What to do? Enough bug spray to kill them would pollute the room, and leave me with a pound of dead bugs to deal with. It was too awkward to take the tree outdoors with the dish intact... and what if they started climbing all over me?
I chose a sneak attack. Since they couldn't get out, I left them to run laps in the dish until dawn. They retreated to quarters. I took the tree outdoors and sprayed it the base of the pot. Either the squatters within died or escaped from the top, as I never saw them again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Inside Out of this World

Ever wonder what a shape or picture looks like when it's turned inside out?
By inside out I mean twisting it so the outer edge becomes the inner core, while the inner core is stretched to become the new edge (like the example above).
Below is the same treatment to some logos. I'm not endorsing any of 'em. Just posting the more interesting ones (Intel Inside, General Electric and Windows Vista were boring.) Funny how some of them reverse into appealing new logos, while others just look weird.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Let's see. Hard work, loyalty and sacrifice hasn't gotten me that far.
But do something silly and irresponsible like gambling and I get two jackpots within 24 hours? I don't get it.

That royal flush was dealt to me!
If you're familiar with video poker you'll notice that the pay table makes 'em tight machines too.
I joked that I wouldn't be satisfied until I got the four deuce mini jackpot too.
Sure enough...

I don't think I'll become a professional gambler. I know the casino has an edge and these are just flukes. Still, stuff like this makes me wonder about the nature of the universe.
Here's what happened last year in Las Vegas:

Go figure.
I didn't even get my camera yanked for taking pictures in the casino.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's Tough to Be a Fish

Seafood restaurants have a blunt honesty. Many are filled with fish photos: Fish getting hooked, fish flopping around on deck, fish strung up for photo ops, and loose piles of freshly deceased specimens. I've never been to a steak house or a BBQ joint that showed cows or pigs going through such indignities. Fish need to unionize for better representation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What is going on?

I applied to Blue Cross. They rejected me. "Preexisting Condition", they said. C'mon! I want to say, I'm almost forty! I'm entitled to a preexisting condition!* Cheapskates.
My alternative: a system where I can keep the insurance I had at work if I pay a snootload of money each month, but whoops, it seems I don't have a job at the moment and am not in the mood to throw money out the window. Not that I'm broke (I save up for dry spells), but it seems wasteful .
Being rejected by insurance bugs me more than when my cartoons are rejected (I dabbled with cartoons in college and a kid's book the early 90s.) Submitting cartoons is like buying a lottery ticket or entering a sweepstakes. Winning is the exception**, not the rule, so it's no big deal.
Insurance rejection is different. I'm being rejected. I'm surprised they didn't add a Post-it® note that said "Cram it, you defective piece of scrap!"
When I was younger I often skipped health insurance. Not now. Too many people my age (or younger) have been slapped with serious illnesses. A coworker died recently. Two of my friends have survived cancer (both at stage 3). I just got an email from Sandee (a long lost college pal, who, ironically, was mentioned in my last post) saying "My memory has been funny since my brain tumor..." Brain tumor!? What is going on? Is my generation in the shooting gallery of scary diseases? What the ..?
Better "waste" some money on insurance before some disease or accident wastes me.

*Which, I might add, is neither expensive, progressive nor likely to lead to other problems.
**I did get a cartoon published in Bird Talk Magazine. My college paper published most of the stuff I sent 'em too.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Mystery Tree

I first noticed it in December, 1981, right before my 13th birthday.
We lived in the hills. From my bedroom I could see much of north Orange and Los Angeles counties. I remember sipping General Foods Orange Cappuccino coffee as I sat on my dresser (the best viewpoint,) gazing out the window. A tiny orange cone stood on the horizon. Ah ha! I thought, a Christmas Tree!
Further studies with binoculars and my telescope confirmed it. Not an actual tree but a conical cluster of lights shaped like one. With the telescope you could see the star on top.
This beacon became a symbol: the holidays had come! Sure, neighbors put up lights and the stores played carols, but nothing delighted me more than spotting The Tree each year.
One thing drove me crazy- Where was it? Over the years I'd become as familiar with the view as the ancient astronomers had been with the sky. For example, I knew the red and blue specks of light to the north was a K-Mart sign some six miles to the North. The Tree was more elusive. Oddly, it was only visible from or near my home, being eclipsed by distant hills from other viewpoints. I tried aiming my telescope to it at night, leaving it on the tripod to check for details in the morning. But all I saw in the daylight was a horizon. Once I somehow talked my parents into driving to it. After about six or seven miles in the general direction, we caught a glimpse of it from another hilltop. Still tiny and on the horizon. "That thing could be 15 or 30 miles away," my Dad observed. "We can't go that far!" Operation Tree Search was a failure.
We moved a few years later, but I never forgot The Tree. When I was in college, my friend Sandee worked in a city just east of where I speculated the tree might be. Once, before picking her up from work, I patrolled the area, looking for my old friend. No tree. Either it was gone or I was looking in the wrong place. Another failed Operation Tree Search.
I never found out where it was. Using Google Earth, I've concluded it was near or in the San Gabriel Valley. If you're reading this, and you remember a big rooftop tree that went up each year in that neighborhood, please let me know ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where the Bugs Are

According a radio show I heard, bed bugs are making a comeback, often showing up in fancy hotels. There's even an online registry where people can report their bed buggy experiences, including hotel names and a map!
For then non-sqeemish, here's a short National Geographic video about the little suckers.

Just added- I found a site that puts your pics on magazine covers. ...

Create Fake Magazine Covers with your own picture at

Subscribe to Fortune Magazine at a 76% discount!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Angry German Kid: a Tribute

Above is my tribute to the Angry German Kid.
For the unfamiliar, it's a widely circulated video of a kid throwing a rabid tantrum at his computer. He screams, he curses, he smacks the keyboard, and screams some more. It's allegedly real, but I bet it's some ham putting on an act.
The original can be seen here. Don't watch it unless you have a high threshold for bad language and obnoxiousness.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Evil Bunny Rabbit Apple Pie Trees

When I was about three, McDonald's ran commercials featuring "McDonaldland", a tacky Oz-esque wonderland overflowing with burgers, fries, and mutants. I hated it. Ronald was creepy, Mayor McCheese was a burger headed freak with a quivering nose, and Cap'n Crook looked like the scary old neighbor who you weren't supposed to go near.
The "Apple Pie Trees" were the worst. They were supersized evil clowns. They'd lurch around and grin at the camera with a mouths big enough to bite my head off. They terrified me. Each time the commercials ran, I flipped.
My dad tried to calm me down. "Those trees are just costumes," he told me. "Actually there's bunny rabbits wearing the costumes."
This notion proved almost as disturbing as the Apple Pie Trees. Bunny rabbits grow that tall? my three-year-old brain wondered, And why do they dress up like trees? To scare people?
Who knew bunny rabbits could be so mean?

Click here to see a commercial with the Evil Trees.