pentacles, magic

A nice cup of rabies

Rantings with occasional art.

light nerdery
pentacles, magic

I just spent about five hours kludging together a little Python script to change the color of my foyer’s light based on the temperature. I already had that happening via If This Then That, but there were some limitations – it didn’t work well with me also wanting to change the light to a dim red in the evening.

So I dove into the mysteries of the LIFX web API, and the web API, and wrote something. Now, my foyer will change between four different colors based on the temperature (blue/purple/yellow/nearly white) between the hours of 8am and 8:30pm, and switch to a dim red outside of those hours. There’s also a temperature offset based on the next hour’s conditions; precipitation or high winds lower the effective a bit so I’m not out there being miserable when it’s near the bottom of a temperature range and wind or rain is making it feel chillier.

# peggy's little foyer-light controller
# selects from a set of lifx scenes based on the temperature from

import requests
import sys
import math
import time

lifxToken = 'your token goes here'
# generate your token at

darkSkiesToken = 'your token goes here'
# generate your token at

# desired temperature ranges for scenes you've set up via the lifx app
choices = [
 {'scene':'Foyer Cold', 'lower':0-float("inf"), 'upper':54, 'note':'Wear a heavy coat, miss dragon.'},
 {'scene':'Foyer Chilly', 'lower':55, 'upper':66, 'note':'Light coat. Or sweater. Or something.'},
 {'scene':'Foyer Hot', 'lower':67, 'upper':74, 'note':'As long as your sin globes are covered, anything goes.'},
 {'scene':'Foyer Really Hot', 'lower':75, 'upper':float("inf"), 'note':'It is HOT. Take a parasol or something.'},

nighttime = {
 'scene':'Foyer Evening',
 'nightBegins': 20.5, # 24-hour decimal time. 8:30PM = 20.5.
 'nightEnds': 8.0, # 24-hour decimal time. 8 AM = 8.0.

# temperature offsets for various conditions
# as defined by's 'icon' property of the forecast
offsets = {

latitude = '47.6659248'
longitude = '-122.3181908'
# where are you?
# really this should talk to OSX's location manager
# but that starts to look like work

repeatDelay = 5*60 # delay between repetitions, in seconds
 # lifx' api throttles you to about once a minute
 # throttles to 1000 requests/day (about one every 1.4 min)

# picks a scene based on the forecast
def ChooseScene (choices, offsets, nighttime, forecast):
 # there should be some logic here to check the time
 # and if it's earlier or later than certain times
 # we cancel out and just display the nocturnal light
 now = time.localtime()
 now = now.tm_hour+((1.0/60)*now.tm_min)
 if (now < nighttime['nightEnds']) or (now > nighttime['nightBegins']):
 print "it's nighttime! the time is now ",now
 return nighttime['scene']
 # figures out temperature offset based on the next hour's condition
 condition = forecast['hourly']['data'][0]['icon']
 offset = offsets[condition]
 temperature = round(forecast['hourly']['data'][0]['temperature']+offset)
 print 'current temperature:',temperature
 for choice in choices:
 if temperature > choice['lower'] and temperature < choice['upper']:
 print choice['note']
 return choice['scene']

# contacts LIFX and acquires a list of scenes
def GetScenes(token):
 headers = {
 "Authorization": "Bearer %s" % token,
 authorization = requests.get('', headers=headers)
 if authorization.status_code != 200:
 print "\ninvalid authorization, maybe check your token?\n"
 scenerequest = requests.get('', headers=headers).json()
 # I am sure there is a much more pythonic way to do this. Works though.
 scenes = {}
 for scene in scenerequest:
 scenes[scene['name']] = scene['uuid'].encode('ascii')
 return scenes

# sets a lifx scene
def SetScene(uuid,token):
 headers = {
 "Authorization": "Bearer %s" % token,
 "duration": 60*5,
 result = requests.put(''+uuid+'/activate', headers=headers)
 return result

# acquires a forecast from
def GetForecast(latitude, longitude, token):
 forecast = requests.get(''+token+'/'+latitude+','+longitude).json()
 return forecast

# all functions are defined, time to do it to it!
lastScene = ''
scenes = GetScenes(lifxToken)

while True:
 forecast = GetForecast(latitude, longitude, darkSkiesToken)
 whichScene = ChooseScene(choices, offsets, nighttime, forecast)
 if lastScene == whichScene:
 print "no need to change the scene right now."
 print 'setting scene:'+whichScene
 lastScene = whichScene
 print "waiting a bit..."

# fail silently because i'm a bad girl

…I really should get some kind of code formatting plugin for this blog someday.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

pentacles, magic

I have re-opened my store with SPECIAL BLACK FRIDAY/CYBER MONDAY PRICES! Enjoy!

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

a holiday avoided
pentacles, magic

So Thanksgiving was pretty good: I wandered out in the afternoon and hung out in the park with a book, then Nick came over and we marathoned Gravity Falls. I've now seen every episode extant, and am waiting for the final one like everyone else. No mandatory dinner with all the relatives or anything like that.

Nick is now puttering around the bathroom debating if he's going to go back home for the Thanksgiving thing they do there. I'm debating going to a thing a friend does. Might just stay at home and enjoy another fairly quiet day…

Also I should really open up my store for a few days for a SPECIAL BLACK FRIDAY SALE!!!!!1!!1!!!.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Skeen: the verdict.
pentacles, magic

So. The Skeen trilogy by Jo Clayton turned out to be pretty decent. My opinion of it is probably a bit colored by nostalgia, but overall I feel like it was a fun bit of SF, told with competence, charm, and flair.

I also realized that it is pretty much right in the middle of my sweet spot. It contains:

  • Charming rogues.
  • Shape shifters.
  • A travelogue across a full of strange creatures.
  • A lady protagonist.
  • Space opera mixed with fantasy.
  • A subliminal hint of queerness.

Honestly, I'm primed to like a book with just three of these. Skeen delivers on all of them. The lady protagonist is a charming rogue named Skeen, whose jaundiced but hopeful view permeates the whole story. The shape shifter is a lady named Telka, who is her adventuring companion for almost the entire book. The crew of hangers-on, assistants, allies, and obligations Skeen collects through the first two books include a quartet of elfin teenage boys with sensory cillia for hair, a squat, solid scholar who reminds Skeen uncomfortably of her SO, another shifter whose default form is something insectile that I tend to think of as somewhere between an anthropomorphic spider and an anthropomorphic mantis, a small boy who can spit poison and is the last of his tribe, that boy's pet frilled lizard, and a lady flying squirrel who is one of the ancients who created the Gate to the semi-medieval planet this all happens on. Then Skeen gets back to the normal world, with nobody but the flying squirrel and the shifter, and we meet a whole new crew of weirdos: Skeen's squat, solid, ex-acrobatic partner in crime (and bed) Tibo, her charming and feminine spaceship Picafrey, a pair of fellow smugglers named Hopeless and the Virgin (two nearly identical black ladies, the former being two meters tall, the latter only one, and mute save for a bunch of mysterious Voices that follow her around), a young scoundrel who knows the way to the planet of the ancient flying squirrels… Taverns full of even weirder aliens, hopping from one planet to another. It's just a whole lot of fun.


(The queerness? Skeen and the scholar share some no-limits S&M sex a few times – it's never described but it's clearly both consensual and really hot, albeit rather closer to the edge than either is really comfortable with. There's a few other bits that I got a feeling of possible non-het sex happening outside the narrative gaze from, though it may have been wistful thinking.)


Is it great art? Nah. It's a fun story, charmingly told. The second and third books both drag a little at the end; it's clear that Skeen's obligations, and Clayton's narrative obligations, have grown larger than either of them is quite comfortable with, and Clayton becomes more prone to resort to leaning against the fourth wall and saying, look, if I continue at the level of detail I wrote the beginning at then we'll be here for twenty books, and neither of that really wants that, do we? This and that happens, if you really need more detail imagine it yourself, I'm skipping ahead to the next good bit. Which to be honest was not something I complained about at all. It's like, did anyone criticize Star Wars for not showing the trade negotiations? You're here for the pulp adventure, not the politics.


If you want to give it a shot, it shouldn't be too hard to find used copies online. You could probably find illegal e-books, too. I didn't find any sites I'd quite trust but you might be better at finding piles of book downloads. Sadly you can't buy an e-book; Clayton died before that became a thing, and didn't seem to leave any heirs interested in making a few bucks off these, or any of the thirty-odd books she wrote over her lifetime. I've got four more of them either on my coffee table or in the mail as I speak: the first four books of the Diadem series, her first stuff. I'm looking forwards to them.

I almost never bother drawing characters from books I like, and I liked it enough to actually do that. I might even draw a few more, and do something like finished images of them all.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Fallout 4
pentacles, magic

Kerri: “so what’s the Fallout 4 verdict?”

My response:

It sure is another open-world game from Bethesda. You’ll never be shocked or amazed while playing it, but there sure are a lot of side-quests and sub-systems to distract you and fill up your winter hours.

And the characters are slightly less robotic than usual. They actually make attempts to emote instead of standing there like plastic automatons delivering woodenly-acted tapes. Still ain’t gonna win an Oscar or anything for its acting.It is a huge pile of okayness that I will probably put hours into, finish the main quest, snark about it, and do about a third of the sidequests of. And every moment I run out of action points and have to do the realtime combat up close, I’ll wish I was playing Bloodborne instead, because holy crap the weapon swap method is so awkward.

I’m also just never much of a fan of the post-apocalypse setting tbh. I keep on looking at its dingy, run-down future and wishing I was playing a similar free-form game set in a bright, happy, optimistic future. Something best summed up as “GTA Coruscant”.

(There was an actual open-world rpg set among the scumlings of Coruscant in the works for a while, but it got canned despite looking pretty promising. That makes me sad every time I think about it. But it doesn’t have to actually be the Star Wars license; I’d be happy with any giant future city full of aircars and ray-throwers and aliens and a customizable PC and sidequests.)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

the dream of most of the people in my life whose death affected me in any way
pentacles, magic

Wow. Lots of dead people in my dreams last night. Kara, Marie-Jeanne, and Ricky.

Ricky revealed to me that he had faked his death, and was hanging around being mysterious and working on an indy video game and going slightly crazy from solitude. Though the huge scars on his wrists suggested to me that no, he really hadn't faked it at all.

I don't remember what the hell Kara or Marie-Jeanne were doing in my dreams. Something about a song and traveling with Kara?

If Russell had shown up, that would have been pretty much everyone whose death really affected me. What the heck.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

oh winter
pentacles, magic

Last night, I stayed up until 6AM playing Fallout 4. I slept late, unsurprisingly.

I finally crawled out of bed just now, at almost 4pm. Stuck my nose outside and was greeted by a blast of 48º wind.


Hello, winter. I didn’t miss you.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

removing depressing mundanities
pentacles, magic

Today, I cleaned my toilet. It’s been needing it for… several months, now. It was a bit meh in the summer when I went down to New Orleans to be by my mother’s deathbed, and by the time I got back it had matured into some dark spots on the inner lid that helped refresh the dark spots in the bowl far too quickly.

This was, of course, pretty depressing to see every time I went to the bathroom. But I was also depressed about my mom’s death, and pretty soon I was depressed due to it being winter, as well.

Every time I’d go to the bathroom seeing the state of my toilet would make me feel just that tiny bit shittier. But I could never wind up the mental energy to just fucking clean the thing – I’d have to figure out how to remove the lid so I could put it in the tub with something soaking into the top for a while. It felt complicated. Just thinking about trying to figure out how to do this was depressing.


This is what depression looks like.

I finally did it today. And made a stab at the clean laundry pile that’s been sitting next to my bed for about as long. I feel a lot better about my apartment now.

I’m sure I’ll still be mopey and sad. I’ve got two very good reasons to. But at least I’ll have one less stupid fucking household chore gnawing at the back of my head, making me a little bit sadder every time I tend to a fundamental bodily need.

I feel like if I get nothing else today, cleaning my fucking toilet is still a major accomplishment. Dealing with laundry on top of that? I’m winning at life.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

some black dragon
pentacles, magic

Today was a special day on my calendar. Peganthyrus' Birthday. Twenty years ago, one of the wizzes on Furrymuck @newchar'ed her for me. What started as kind of a joke became an identity that would end up being all-encompassing for me; when I transitioned, I tried a few names, but it was pretty inevitable that I'd settle on a name that shortened to Peggy, just like hers did.

I never noted the exact day I decided to start transitioning. So I can't celebrate that day like some people do. It was somewhere in the end of summer around 2001-4. But I can log onto Furrymuck and type “examine me” to get a solid date on creating the first female identity I'd spend time as. And that's good enough.

I don't make a big deal out of the day. Ever since my father died on my twelfth birthday, birthdays lost their magic for me. I tried doing something for Peggy's Birthday a few times but my heart was never in it.

Anyway. Twenty years ago, I started pretending to be a black dragon lady on the Internet. Which eventually lead to me realizing I was much more comfortable in a female identity, and even more eventually starting to do something about that.

(And I must confess that I feel faintly annoyed that the day before is now the Transgender Day Of Rememberance. Yay! Let's think about all the dead trans people the day before the day I pegged as my own Trans Anniversary Day! Because even after fleeing from my original birthday after it became the day I was plunged into a twenty-year-long depression when my father died on it, I still have to think about death on the new one. THANKS EVERYONE. Not that this spoiled any major party or anything, I spent the day mostly just hiding in the living room playing Fallout 4.)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

pentacles, magic

Sunday night: Went to a party. Had a good time. Came home. Ex-with-benefits was waiting. We cuddled some then went to bed.

Today: Wake up. There was a delayed money-related task on my calendar for today. I also wanted to get some comics work done. Instead I ended up sitting on the stool at my desk, looking at videos and stories of people playing video games in creatively “wrong” ways.

It’s barely five, and the sun’s down. I think today’s just a total write-off in the service of all the social energy I expended last night. I’m okay with that.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

pentacles, magic


So yesterday I wandered down to the Apple Store, with two goals in mind: check out the New USB3-Only Macbook, poke at the iPad Pro, and get a new phone.

The new Macbook? I’ll stick with my 13″ Air. I could probably use my normal set of Illustrator palettes on its little 12″ Retina screen, but it’s not enough of an upgrade in other ways to make me feel like biting. I’ll wait a few months and see if Apple decides to refresh the Air with a Retina screen and a 1TB drive option.

Similarly with the iPad Pro; while I have visions of using it with AstroPad for working in small spaces, I really just don’t feel like I want that enough to pay $800-1100 for that right now.

But a new phone, yeah, I wanted a new phone. Apple Pay and a decent battery life again; the power on mine’s been shit lately. I qualified for their new plan where you buy it on installments, and get a free upgrade to the latest phone every month – running the math showed that it was pretty close to the cost of buying a new phone every two years. So I got a gold 6S. Which is definitely proving to be a bit too tall for me, as I suspected – I can’t reach to the top of it while holding it one-handed. Especially with the naked exterior being so damn slippery.

So I went looking for cases. And discovered that there is a place that will print custom art on translucent cases. I promptly drew out an idea I’d had ever since putting a black case on my previous gold iPhone: a dragon swirling and curving around in the darkness, colored the gold of the phone’s case. Originally I’d thought it would be cool to do in a starker style that could be realistically laser-cut out of plastic, but since I was doing this in ink on plastic, I let myself get kind of detailed.

How will it come out? I dunno! I’ll probably post photos when it comes next week, if I like how it works. And post a ‘buy’ link for it too, because maybe some of my fellow dragon fanciers out there will like showing off their golden-backed gizmos in a similar way.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Drowning City: first step.
pentacles, magic

Drowning City - first panel

These are the first two finished panels of The Drowning City. They look pretty much exactly like I envisioned the comic looking fourteen years ago when it started to really take shape.

They took a bit more than an hour to draw, not counting the half hour or so I spent drawing the sword and making it into a brush so I pretty much never have to draw it from scratch again. Some of that time was spent swearing at Illustrator and trying to nail down a weird bug where the Graphic Styles panel stops working properly; ultimately I ended up just working out of the panel where I had the library of styles I’m keeping in another file. I really need to spend some time trying to nail down exactly what makes the Graphic Styles panel start glitching out and submit a bug report.

There will be many more panels to draw before this comic is done. But having the first ones done makes it feel much more like a thing that’s really going to happen.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Temporary store closure.
pentacles, magic

It’s winter. I am a solar-powered Southerner living in Seattle; I’d rather use what little energy I have on drawing new comics than on shipping stuff.

If you want a copy of the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn, you can get it on Amazon or most other online booksellers.

If you want a copy of Decrypting Rita, I should be doing a Kickstarter for the omnibus (and a small run of book 3 for those who have 1/2) sometime in winter 2015/spring 2016. Keep an eye on the comic’s TwitterLivejournalFacebook, or its RSS feed. Or follow my twitter/blog/etc (links here). I’m pretty sure I won’t shut up about the Kickstarter when it happens.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

warmup: human version of dragon self.
pentacles, magic


I dunno, this just sort of happened this morning. It’s a human version of that dragon lady I like to draw myself as. Which is distinctly not quite the same thing as a self-portrait.

Mostly this ended up being more experimentation with faux airbrush techniques. I’ve been thinking about those a lot lately what with deciding that’s how Absinthe should look. Blurred shapes, the occasional gradient, and a mezzotinted rectangle over the background, but not the foreground. Also a few shapes with the ‘grain’ effect applied, one of which is an opacity mask to fade out the foot.

About a half hour, not including the time lost when Illustrator crashed and kindasorta managed to save some work, that I had to cut and paste back into the original document because I have a thing about retaining file creation dates that I should really let go of. It’s really been unstable lately and that’s kinda maddening.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

pentacles, magic


These three books.

I picked them up in my teens as they came out. And to be honest, a lot of what got me interested in them were the covers. These crazy hyper-designey things, featuring this handsome, androgynous-looking person looked like nothing else on the shelves.

What was inside turned out to be pretty nifty, at least to fifteen-year-old me: that androgyne turned out to be the titular Skeen, a star-trading woman who had been betrayed by her partner/lover, and ended up taking a one-way trip through a gate to a medieval fantasy world full of assorted aliens. She journeyed across that world, making various friends and enemies, and eventually made it back to her home reality, where her various fantasy-world friends got to bounce around between the stars. It was written in this somewhat affected but often appealing style. And Skeen was a character type I’m always a sucker for when done well: the silver-tongued scoundrel traveller, who cons and charms their way across a strange landscape. She was more than a little bit queer, as well. I mean, look at that butch lady on the covers.

There’s a moment somewhere in the middle of Skeen’s Return that taught me something important about telling stories. One chapter name suddenly goes on for four pages full of bold, all-caps text, during which Clayton stepped outside of her otherwise rigid attachment to the title character’s third-person viewpoint, to fill the reader in on some important backstory there was absolutely no way Skeen or her her friends could know. (Secret rituals of one of the alien races that populated this lost world, if you’re curious.)

And then later on, she does this again, and talks directly to the reader about the fact that she was sitting at a fork in the story: Skeen was lying near death, and Jo was having a lot of trouble deciding if she was going to pretty much completely recover, or die, or have a complicated recovery where she occasional lapsed into fever and madness, ‘kind of a Drunken Master thing’, to paraphrase Jo’s description of that path. She concluded this with the suggestion that the reader might, perhaps, pick one of those options, and keep that version running in their head, see how it diverged from the one Jo chose.

Not that I didn’t already love these books before I got to those bits, mind you. But something about casually stepping out from behind the curtain and addressing the raw problems of Telling A Story and Wrangling A Plot endeared these to me even more.

Like most of the other books I treasured, they were lost in Katrina.

Today, I made my occasional check to see if they’d been republished as e-books. They haven’t. Jo Clayton died in 1998, well before the age of e-books. And I sighed, and supposed I’d keep an eye out for them in used bookstores for several years, and eventually be able to re-read them and see if they were any good.

And then I remembered that I live in the age of the Internet, went on AbeBooks, and found used copies of them in stores in Indiana and Texas. And while I was there I also found copies of the first four books of Clayton’s earlier series, “The Diadem”, a space opera about a titular piece of headgear that contains the memories of multiple people. I had the eighth volume of that and found it kind of pleasantly befuddling.

These books will be arriving at various times over the next month. Will I enjoy them as an adult? Who knows.

Merry Christmas, future Peggy. I got you some lady-centric pulp sci-fi!

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Wacom tablets cause weird Keychain issues on El Capitan
pentacles, magic

If you are using a Wacom tablet as your primary means of controlling your Mac, you may have noticed that you can’t access your Keychain any more – when something wants access to it and pops up the “type your keychain password” dialog, the ‘always allow’ and ‘allow’ buttons give you absolutely no response when you press them.

If you bring up the Console and try doing this, you’ll notice an error popping up when you try to press ‘allow’:

11/4/15 1:24:02.755 PM SecurityAgent[893]: Ignoring user action since the dialog has received events from an untrusted source

This is because Apple has added means to prevent applications creating “synthetic clicks on keychain prompts” to get access to your keychain without your authorization. Which is all well and good. Except it would be really nice if they would, you know, pop up an error dialog saying that this has happened, and which program provided the offending clicks, instead of silently doing absolutely nothing when you press the ‘allow’ button.

Sadly, the latest versions of Wacom’s drivers do not fix this. I tried both the latest drivers for the Intuos3/4/5 (I have a 3 on my desk and a 4 in my travel bag), and the higher-numbered latest ones for the “current Intuos Pro”; neither of them solved this issue. Nor did visiting the Security and Privacy pane of the system prefs and manually adding /Library/Applcation Support/Tablet/ to the list of apps allowed to control my computer.

So I guess now if I want to do anything involving the Keychain, I need to reach around my desk and open up my computer to use the trackpad to click on those buttons. Fun!

(When I’m at my desk, the computer is closed and plugged into an external monitor, you see.)

Anyway. Mostly I am documenting this so that someone else with the same problem can have some hope of figuring it out faster; I blew most of my morning on tracking this down.

And as a side note – holy shit there are way too many Wacom drivers on their driver download page. There are seven categories of drivers that all have the exact same version number (6.3.15-1), and I have a strong suspicion that same driver will actually work with pretty much anything that connects via USB – supposedly I should be using a different one with a lower version number (6.3.11w3), but I’m using the 6.3.15-1 just fine now. What the hell guys, consilidate that shit.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Design process: Lexy Franklin
pentacles, magic

This one’s taken a while. I think I finally nailed it.

This morning, I went through eight years of sketchbooks, looking for drawings of Lexy Franklin, who’s slated to appear in the middle of chapter 2 of Absinthe. Originally she was going to be a white lady, but during development she changed to a black lady, and that’s always kind of a dangerous ground for a white chick to design. Especially as a character who is largely hostile to the main character.


This was the best I had. I knew it wasn’t right.

But yesterday I started putting together my loose roughs together with the revised dialogue Nick had written in the time since the breakup. And the new dialogue spawned something interesting:


Those thorny vines started showing up when she was angry. She’s now prone to very fussy speech patterns; on the previous and next pages she has dialogue like “Damn you, Absinthe! What in perdition are you doing here?” and “It was your sacrilege, Absinthe. Not mine.” (She has a pretty serious beef with Absinthe. She also usually uses the royal We.) And those thorny vines just came out of nowhere, with no real conscious thought – one minute I was drawing the word balloon, the next minute there were these vines coming out of it.

So I had this association with roses. And I thought, what if I carried the rose theme into her? Just a little bit. Not a lot. I showed this to Nick and ran that idea by him, and he loved it.

Evernote Camera Roll 20151103 134307

I’d been going around Bloodborne as a tall black lady with magenta hair, glasses, and a propensity for a rapier. That felt like a good idea to inform Lexy a couple months back, and it still felt like one when I found this sketch again this morning.

All of this was hanging in my head when I went to lunch today, along with all the various adjectives written on those sketches I knew weren’t quite there. I was thinking: fencing, courtly bearing, rose theme… kinda like Utena, really. But dressed for much hotter climates than the European vibe of that show’s costumes. And a bit more obviously butch. I had a sketchbook with me; I was expecting to start on the first of maybe a half dozen attempts to find her body shape and her dress sense while I waited for my sandwich to get made.


And then this fell out of my pencil. And I was all, “oh, hi, Lexy, there you are.”

(The cut-off text on the right says “asymmetrical sculpted goku/sonic fro (white)” and “layer tails for rose theme hint”.


I came home and had a go at her in Illustrator. Yep. Looking good. I still need to find the way to give just the right amount of frizziness to her hair, but that’s a minor detail. Plus a few other things like really nailing down her little rose pin and ring, so I can reuse that important detail in other drawings. Fussy stuff like that.

She is going to give Absinthe so much shit. Don’t worry, Abby deserves it.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

a story about spümcø
pentacles, magic

Cut and paste from a series of tweets I made this morning.

Sudden flashback to when I bitched out John K for coming in after a crunch weekend he’d caused and finding nothing but bad in what we’d done.

He’d held up a whole episode in layout. The Flash crew got it Friday; it was due Monday. As Flash director, I thus worked 48h straight. He, meanwhile, stayed at home all weekend with a cold. Came in on Monday morning to see what we’d done and started ripping it apart. Nothing but “this is wrong, this is wrong, this wasn’t in the layouts, did you even read them?”. I was all, “John, we saved your bacon. You won’t pay any non-delivery penalties. You have an episode. Sure, it needs lots of work; we had no time to get it done.”

Then I went home and crashed for a few days, and refused to touch that episode again. Ever. I basically stopped caring about my work after that. I faked it for a while, but I was done.

I think the next episode was the one where we upgraded to Flash 5: Crash Fest, and I put a post-it with the word “fuck” on my monitor every time Flash crashed while I was trying to assemble and refine that episode. Couldn’t bring it back into Flash 4 as there was no ‘save as 4’ and it didn’t start crashing until the sunk cost felt too high. I stopped swearing after a while, and just sighed every time it crashed, wrote “FUCK” on a post-it, and stuck it to the monitor’s bezel. By the time it was done I had enough to spell “FLASH 5” in post-its on my office’s window.

If I keep playing with that show proposal and end up getting it happening (these are several big ifs here), I feel like I will tell all my John K stories to the crew, and ask them to call me out if I ever start doing the same stuff. I’ve heard the shows Gabe ran were pretty mellow; I stongly suspect this is because he had a similar reaction to working under John.

(When I rambled this out on Twitter, I got several of my vfx/tech/games friends applauding my actions here, and noting that it sure ain’t changed much nowadays. You wanna pursue that dream job in one creative industry or another? You’ll probably run into a situation like this too. If you’re at a studio with people doing their best to avoid this kind of shit, treasure it!)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


daylight savings, a modest proposal
pentacles, magic

It’s daylight savings time! Cue grumbling about how much it sucks.

Given: The abrupt shift of an entire hour is discombobulating and stressful.

Given: We would still like to shift our schedules to have more daylight in certain parts of the workday.

Given: An increasing percentage of our timekeeping devices have enough smarts to keep track of the time of year, and apply daylight savings without human intervention.

Thus, a modest proposal:

Why don’t we spread that hour-long shift out over a month or two? Every day in September and October, we lose a minute – the clocks leap directly from 12:59 to 1:01. Every day in February and March we gain a minute, with the clocks going from 12:59 to 12:60 to 1:00. Maybe we could even add in a little more now and then to get rid of leap years. Or at least leap seconds.

Shifting every day like this would be incredibly onerous in the era of mechanical timekeeping devices you can only change in one direction. But this is the digital age. Mechanical clocks and watches are increasingly becoming an expensive bauble that denotes prestige. Hordes of people don’t even wear a watch, preferring instead to rely on their smartphone to tell them what time it is.

The obvious problems: luddites who still vastly prefer mechanical clocks, and the need for a Y2K-sized effort to change all timekeeping software.

I am not sure if I am joking, or if I am entirely serious here. I know I’m not stoned yet this morning. Let me work on that while I go change the clocks on the stove and microwave.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

rita: omnibus cover iteration
pentacles, magic

I’ve been playing with cover ideas for the omnibus. (And am still debating skipping book 3, or maybe having it be a stretch goal for the omnibus (wonderful idea, Jer!). If I can bring the omnibus in around $30 for the softcover then it’s a definite go.)

First off is my first image. I really love this one but it’s not really doing a good job of advertising the book; I think it’ll probably be on the hardcover if I do that option and make it to a ‘dust jacket’ stretch goal.


But I feel like I really need to communicate the “multiple parallel realities” thing for a cover to work. This just says “it’s about a fast robot lady and has a strong horizontal motion”.

So I pulled in the image I’d done for a t-shirt for the second book’s kickstarter, and simplified it.The arrow would be gloss, of course. Still not there; the figures are tiny and aren’t going to grab you from across the store, or as an icon.


Then I tried doing a set of all four timelines, knotted together. Kinda working but I dunno, it just didn’t… didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel like it really had potential. Also felt really potentially fiddly and tedious what with wanting to have the different timelines weave in front and behind each other more.


So I pulled out the image I’d done for my convention banner and tried it on a sideways book. Interesting but no. Also kind of annoying and frustrating because Illustrator went unresponsive whenever I tried to copy over the green world layers; I had to copy them one at a time, and had to copy one layer in parts. Pain in the ass.cover-omnibus-h4

Maybe it’d work on a horizontal book? Eh. It could work but I’d have to draw a new image for this, and I didn’t really feel a single pose could convey the story properly.

So I just started doodling. I scribbled a really loose rectangle, then started drawing a bunch of them with the rectangle tool, in the disintegrating/glitched-up look that shows up throughout the story. Referencing an important recurring image, good. Calling back to the very effective (IMHO) covers of book 1/2, also good.


See? Book 1: bold, striking, conveys ‘confident female lead’ and ‘shattered into multiple realities’. Book 2 has Dragon Rita and Hat Rita looking out of the arrows, worried now as they’re out of alignment. Remix the idea into a wider composition, with a bit more fragmentation, and appearances by all four Ritas, Add in some Panopticon, maybe a couple of cables in the gloss layer, maybe some more source code from the guts of some ciphering algorithm, and I think it’s a winner.

(Incidentally, this proposed omnibus cover bears little resemblance to the one I have planned for book 3, if that happens. I’ll probably have to draw that anyway, I kinda want to have all the covers in the extra material at the back of the book, along with some notes on my process, the Ask Ritas,  and maybe a little epilogue short for each Rita…)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

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