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pentacles, magic

A nice cup of rabies

Rantings with occasional art.

filtering the music
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

A week or two back, I decided I wanted to shake up my music listening a little bit. Normally when I’m in the studio I keep iTunes in random-by-album mode, going through a smart playlist that constantly rebuilds itself to only include music I haven’t listened to in the past three weeks. But I found myself bouncing to an album that I’ve had in regular rotation since the late nineties, and I wasn’t exactly sick of listening to it but I just felt like I was kind of done listening to it. If that makes sense?

Anyway. The last few times I felt myself being Just Plain Done with a band for a while, I unchecked all their albums for a few years. Oingo Boingo’s appeal to me would be revived by spending some time in the dungeon, contemplating the marks left on the walls by previous inhabitants such as the Beatles, TMBG, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry. But lately I keep having this nagging feeling that my entire collection is getting stale; I haven’t loved a new band in years.

So I made a new smart playlist. This one would filter out everything that iTunes had played more than fifteen times. I chose this number fairly arbitrarily, saw that it would indeed filter out all those Boingo albums, and decided it looked good.

I’ve been letting iTunes wander around this playlist, one album at a time in random order, since doing that. And damn I sure am finding a lot of difficult listening in my collection.

also oh wow that’s why I’m so tired of a few Beatles album, I have two copies of them in my collection, a normal and a remastered edition…

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


Wacom Mobile Studio: initial impressions
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

First off, the most important question: Does it work properly with Adobe Illustrator? Yes. Stylus response with the pencil tool is just as smooth and instantaneous as it is with an external Intuos on my Air.

So I get to decide how I feel about the other things:

* it’s big. Too wide for my favorite, very minimal bag – it’s as tall as a 13” laptop, but as wide as a 15” one. Mostly this is due to the row of keys and adjustment dial going down one side. Maybe I’ll actually end up finally using these, I dunno. I’m a keyboard shortcut kinda girl.
* it’s heavy. Man is it ever heavy. Holding it up at an angle gets very fatiguing, very quickly, and it doesn’t have a kickstand like the Surface does. I’m really hoping someone makes a lightweight case for it that adds one; until then I’m gonna be carrying around one of the wire stands I use for displaying books at cons. Add in a keyboard and it still weighs less than the Air + Intuos, but only by about 20%.
* it’s gonna need a screen protector to make it a really pleasant surface to draw on, it’s glass, glass has no tooth.

Right now the weight and lack of a kickstand feels like the biggest potential issue. And battery life is a big question mark; it’s down to 50% right now after a full charge, and a while doing initial configuration off the charger. It claims this is gonna be good for about two hours. We shall see if this holds up under normal use; I’m going to have a shower, then take it out on a shakedown cruise.

(Also it ain’t cheap, it cost me like $500 more than a similarly-specced Surface 4 Pro did.)

Other little things:

* yes the stupid “pen flicks” are on by default, I think this is just a Windows 10 Stupidity.
* the default power management settings are nowhere near enough aggressive for me; I set it to sleep after 1 minute idle on battery, hibernate after 2, and hibernate whenever I press the power button on battery.
* Illustrator still refuses to rotate to portrait mode, but that’s really on Adobe, not on Wacom or anyone else. I’m just noting it. I’m not sure using this wide-ass thing in portrait would really be very pleasant anyway.
* The pen that comes with it is not compatible with the spring-loaded nibs. Which are the best Wacom nibs IMHO, I bought like five of them a while back, seriously if you have a Wacom tablet and haven’t tried it with the spring-loaded nib, try it. But it is happy to talk to the stylus from my Intuos 4, which has a spring-loaded nib in it.

Edit. Okay so I left around 2:00, had lunch, walked to Big Time Brewery, and worked on stuff in Illustrator until 4:30, when it started whimpering about being almost out of power. Its estimate was accurate, which means its battery is about on par with the 4h I’d get from the Surface 4 Pro. Like the Surface, I will probably keep this charging overnight so it’s at 100% when I leave the house.

A wire display holder sort of worked to substitute for the Surface’s kickstand. I’ll probably end up duct-taping one to the back if I decide to keep it and don’t find a case that provides one. I really felt the lack of that kickstand.

Honestly, I prefer the Surface 4 Pro in almost every respect, except for the all-important “actually works with the program I got the thing to run” factor. Half the weight, lower price, integrated kickstand, fits in the same bag my 13″ Air normally lives in. If I used one of the 90% of all art programs that works fine with the NTrig drivers, I would have stuck with the Surface and put a plastic squishy grip on its stylus; this is what I recommend if your favorite art tool is not Illustrator (or Flash or maybe some other apps, ask google how your favorite program works with it).

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


the dream of the impossible printing error
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I dreamed that my books had come in! The Rita omnibus was printed, huzzah!

But the body of the book was just big dark grey spaces. After a moment the images would slowly load in. Somehow I had sent the printers an InDesign file that linked to images on my website instead of having them embedded in the file, and somehow they had managed to print books that loaded the images off the net. Slowly.

Charlie Stross had a copy and tried to console me, saying it looked wonderful anyway, but I knew he was wrong. “It does when the net dies,” I moaned. “I've got to come up with $10,000 to reprint it. Oh god.” And then I flipped forwards onto the ground, miserable, and woke up in exactly the same position.

Luckily I am pretty sure this is not a problem that is physically possible to have.

 

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

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Bugs For The Bug God
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

I decided to turn the doodle I made to show how to do symmetry into something like a full drawing.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-54-54-pm

Here’s a screengrab of the stuff I actually drew. This would have taken so much more time if I’d done it all by hand.

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

Tags:

Symmetry
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Tonight’s Illustrator how-to: drawing symmetrically.

  1. Draw a big rectangle, centered where you want the center of rotation to be. Far bigger than you anticipate ever drawing in. Like ‘3x as wide as the entire canvas’ big. Give it no stroke and no fill; it’ll become invisible when it’s not selected.
  2. Layers panel: click on the dot to the right of the name of the layer.
  3. effect>distort and transform>transform
  4. in the angle box, type 360/x; in the copies box, type x-1 (where ‘x’ is however many copies of the stuff you draw you want to see – for instance if you wanted to see 15 total copies of your stuff it’d be 360/15 and 14. Illustrator can do simple math in all its numeric input boxes!)
  5. effect>distort and transform>transform – yes, a second one, this time check ‘reflect X’, make one copy, and leave everything else alone.
  6. maybe open up the layer and lock the invisible rectangle so you don’t select it by accident while moving stuff around.
  7. hit up the appearance palette’s dropdown menu, ‘clear appearance’
  8. start drawing shapes
  9. if you want to edit the symmetry, then click on the dot you clicked in step 2, then go to the appearance palette and click on the ‘transform’ entry.
screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-47-59-pm

It sounds complicated but it took me like a minute to set up at most, then I doodled this in like another minute or two by drawing a few black and white shapes with the pencil tool.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-48-03-pm

And here’s a screengrab of the outline view that shows you just how little stuff I actually drew. That little dot near the middle of everything is the center of the big invisible rectangle I drew in step 1.

If at some point you want to tweak individual instances of your symmetric stuff, then click on the dot next to the layer’s name and do object>expand appearance. If ‘expand appearance’ is ghosted then go unlock the invisible rectangle you drew in step 1.

You could also go pay money for Astute Graphics’ MirrorMe plugin, but that tends to not play well with wanting to have symmetry happening across multiple layers, plus I can never remember how to use the damn thing because they only provide documentation in the form of frickin’ youtube videos. This way is covered by what’s already part of AI, and you can do stuff like have, oh, 14 copies of what you draw on one layer, and 11 on another, and expect that to stay consistent across closing and re-opening the file.

 

And here’s a thing I did elaborating on the insectoid mandala I drew for this post.

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


my music taste is old
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

As I stood there lipsyncing to Oingo Boingo's “Fill The Void”, I realized I've been listening to this band for most of my life. I'm not burnt out on them like I am the Beatles – seriously I think the Beatles may have the highest skip count of any artist in my library, I started listening to them in single digit years and I've heard all their songs so many times – but geeze, I've been listening to Danny Elfman's smirking lyrics for longer than some people I know have been alive.

Maybe it's time for another dose of only listening to music made in the past decade. Or I might experiment with “nothing with a play count greater than, I dunno, 12 or something”. I'll have to look at the spread of that statistic.

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


(no subject)
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

that horrible moment when it strikes you

when you do the math

and realize that you are more than likely past the halfway point of your entire life

I am 45. My father died at 42. My mother at 71. My grandmothers both held on closer to their nineties. Depending on who you use as a benchmark, I have anywhere from -3 to 40ish years left.

I came to this realization in a discussion on Reddit, where someone asked “what’s most badly written SF/F book you’ve ever read, and why”, and I included a snarky aside at the expense of /r/fantasy favorite “Malazan; Book of the Fallen” along with “Battlefield Earth”, which is literally the first book I ever stopped reading because it was too bad for me to bother finishing.

But, you know, I tried reading Lord of the Rings three or four times in my life, and I never liked it, and I don’t care how wonderful the series may get; when an author spends the first half hour of the time I’m spending with them excitedly bouncing up and down telling me how much he loved everything I hated about Tolkien’s writing… yeah, I don’t think I’m gonna see if your ten-volume epic really does get better in book 2 or 3 or 6 or whatever the consensus is. A half hour is all you get before I close your book forever.

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


the hoard grows
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

A week or so ago, I mentioned that ➊ my birthday was coming up soon, and ➋ that I planned to purchase some doubloons to add to the modest pile of them I’d gotten a while back.

My friend Lewis saw this, and sent me a package. It sat around for a few days; I finally opened it today.hoard1

The note says “Dragon hoarde starter kit”. I would swear I had the whole thing in frame when I took the photograph.

hoard2

There are only four doubloons in it. Not much for my hoard purposes, which are entirely about vast piles of coins underfoot. Or spread upon the bed. Still, the gesture is appreciated, especially given that he took the time to select doubloons from a krewe who chose an eminently pleasant theme of “Things with Wings” for this year. (And a Rex, hidden by the green Thoth.) Also, the bracelet included is a gorgeously tawdry affair made up of a bunch of gold-colored high-heeled shoes attached to a stretchy matrix of silver beads, which ends up looking more like some kind of merciless folding bladed affair than anything glamorous, and that more than makes up for the fact that it will never be comfortable beneath bare feet. It’s very thoughtful for a non-dragon, and the intent of Dr. Pinkerton’s gesture will be remembered should I ever hear of draconic plans to put New Orleans to the torch.
hoard3

And thus four more coins are added to the modest majesty of my hoard.

Soon, it will grow more. I have twenty pounds of doubloons on the way, to join the ten you can see here…

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


a good holiday
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

After getting those uploads started, I spent most of the day in the living room playing “Hell Yeah!”, a flawed French 2d platformer. Basically it’s a 2d Sonic tribute with guns and camera issues; you spend a lot of time shooting at aerial enemies somewhere off the edge of the screen because the camera always, always, always keeps your undead rabbit in the dead center of the screen, and is zoomed in way too close for the gameplay. I constantly wished for either a wider view, or a camera that moved around based on my direction of travel and/or aiming.

Still, I’d won it a few years ago, and finished a new game started from scratch today. It’s got a delightfully goofy story that revels in the thinness of its premise: paparazzi have photographed the skeletal rabbit who rules hell in the bath with a rubber duck, and posted this as news; now the rabbit wants to kill all hundred demons who saw it online.

It’s ten thirty and I think it’s bedtime. Looks like one of the files might be uploaded by the time I get up; the time estimate dropped a lot once I made Backblaze and Dropbox stop trying to upload the same zips while I’m FTPing them. And then Rita gets much closer to done; printing will happen, and then I need to figure out how to make Amazon deal with fulfilling the Kickstarter orders for me and selling the boom afterwards.

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


Rita: the home stretch.
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-12-46-15-pm

Half the money has been wired to the printer. The interior files are done. I’m uploading two zip files to the printer’s FTP site; they’re the compressed result of asking InDesign to “package” my files. Which means that it created a directory containing the 223 Illustrator files that make up the pages of the book, all the fonts used, a PDF export of the whole book, and a version of the InDesign file that has the proper path references to use all those files.

Four and a half years of work. Four and a half years of drawing, writing, thinking, and drawing. Each page is in there three times: the Illustrator-only representation in its .AI file, the larger PDF-compatible representation in the same file that InDesign can read, and a print-res image contained in the PDF. It’s a little under two gigabytes.

And somehow that doesn’t feel like very much data for four and a half years of work.

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-1-10-32-pm

On the other hand book 3 is gonna take about three days to upload, and the omnibus is gonna take another three or four. So maybe that’s a hell of a lot of data. It’s certainly a hell of a lot of data to upload on my asymmetric consumer-level connection. Maybe I should see if I have a friend with a fast connection at home or work who’ll let me use it. Or just put these things on a USB key and FedEx that.

(It’s also a lot of data to be uploading three times, as Dropbox and Backblaze both try to synch it… pausing those sounds like a good idea.)


It is also Thanksgiving, which I have been spending very happily alone. And I suppose I should do the traditional listing of Things I’m Thankful For. Let’s see:

I’m thankful to my grandfather for taking advantage of a bank offering scandalously low interest rates on a loan, and leaving me a big enough pile of money that I haven’t had to worry about a day job for the  time I spent drawing this comic.

I’m thankful to all the people who now support me on Patreon; their small per-page donations add up to about a hundred bucks per page, and when I’m cranking out two pages a week that ends up paying a significant chunk of my rent every month. I’m thankful to the folks who built Patreon, too!

I’m thankful the three-way relationship that broke up not too long before starting Rita ended up with me having an ex-with-benefits who’s a great creative partner, as well as a source of, you know, regular, um, benefits.

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

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Birthdays and other lies
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Well. That was a pretty good birthday. I sent off the signed contracts to print Rita, and went to the bank and wired off half the money. Now I just need to double check that the PDFs are the right sizes and send those off to the printer. I could have done that today, but instead I got together with the ex-with-benefits, went out to a cafe and worked on a short comic I've been fooling with, then went to a couple of places that have really nice cake and split a slice of it at each place.

I mean it was a good birthday aside from the fact that a literal neo-Nazi conference shouted “Heil Trump” today, and we got news headlines like “Alt-Right Leader Questions Whether Jews Are People”. Ugggghhh, what the fuck has gone wrong in this country, how do we fix it, I've been worrying about that a lot but today I just had some fucking cake.

And, well, aside from the fact that it's not anywhere near the date on my birth certificate…

A month and a half ago, a few people I follow on Facebook had birthdays at the same time. My feed there was full of reminders of this and messages other people wrote on their pages to wish them a happy birthday.

And I cringed inwardly, and went to make sure Facebook wasn't going to do that on my birthday. Because that's also the anniversary of the day my father died. Yeah, on my birthday. You couldn't do that to even the most miserable and beleaguered protagonist of a Roald Dahl tribute novel; it's just too perfectly horrid, isn't it? A day of cake and presents turned to a day of shock and horror at a sudden lack of a loving parent. Unsurprisingly my birthday celebrations have become rather minimal, to the point of barely existing at all – it's an excuse to maybe buy a couple big things I've been sitting on the desire for, and to have a nice meal with the ex-with-benefits, at most.

And then I wasn't sure if Facebook was going to do this or not despite me marking my birthday as hidden there. And I had a stoned idea: what if I replaced my birthday there with the creation date of the Furrymuck character whose name I ended up taking as mine, when I transitioned? Yes. I've had that date in my calendar for a while, so it was a simple matter to dig that up and put it in there. And to start trying to think of other social media that might have my birthday up, and change it there too. And put a post-it with the new date on the monitor so I'll hopefully remember to put it in the next time I create an account somewhere.

I originally wrote this the night I decided to do this, and scheduled it for the day after my new birthday. I wondered if by the time this comes up I'll have decided if I want to try to start using this as “my birthday” in social situations, tell people I'm a Scorpio when they ask my sign, and stop making jokes about the holiday near my actual birthday, or mention a few people I feel honored to share my birthday with. I think the answer is “yes”. Now I share it with Dr. John and Björk, not [redacted promoter], [redacted cartoonist], and [redacted cartoonist]. It'd be pretty cool if I can manage to get Wikipedia to have this date in it, should I become wiki-notable: I doubt anyone will bother researching the day beyond “what it says on her social media” unless someone reading it remembers this post and decides to doxx me to find it out. (Hi, future reader thinking of doing just that. Drop me a line and tell me why you want to do this, and maybe I'll just tell you. Oh wait I think you can find that out via public posts on this very blog, oh well.)

Maybe I'll even start to feel happy to get birthday wishes again now. That'd be nice. I could use a burst of happiness in the middle of winter. I kinda liked the pile of them I got this morning.

And: if you're seeing this after letting a machine urge you to wish me a happy birthday? Seriously, thanks for the birthday wishes. Please don't feel like a jerk for not knowing that my birthday is really another day, even if you've known me for years; I'm honestly not sure I'd know what my mother and father's birthdays were if they weren't both on holidays, never mind knowing the birthday of any of my friends.

 

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


doom, it’s what’s for breakfast
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Wake up. Succumb to crippling dread caused by reading the news before I'm even out of bed: Trump looks to be on track to have the financial sector regulated by total banksters. It feels like I'll be able to deal with this better after having breakfast, I know my blood sugar is low and that makes everything terrible forever, especially since I skipped dinner last night, but I don't even have the energy to get out of bed, much less leave the house and go get breakfast, which I'm gonna have to do since all that's in the kitchen for breakfast is a mostly-empty container of elderly yogurt. Mostly because the kitchen's been unusable this week while maintenance ripped out part of the wall to replace insulation that'd been saturated with water by a pipe leak two floors above me.

I also think it's time to switch from sleeping under blankets to turning the heat up enough to sleep under a lot less. It's cold enough in my bedroom that the thought of exposing my naked skin to the air for even the five seconds it'll take to get into my bathrobe feels like an insurmountable task. Why the hell is an exothermic Southern girl like me living in Seattle anyway.

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


hoarding
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

My birthday’s coming up again. I think I’m gonna hit up eBay for another box of Mardi Gras doubloons to strew around my bedroom floor. Sometimes they stick to my bare feet, and as I kick them off I grumble at myself a little; then I grin because I’m complaining about my DRAGON HOARD.

Adding whimsy to my life feels really, really important right now.

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


more fucking politics
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Hey so, you know how I grew up in New Orleans? And how Louisiana's been a super red state for years? This year, one of their Senate seats ended up in a runoff. With a Democrat involved who might have a fighting chance of getting it.

If you feel like donating to him, his site is http://www.fostercampbell2016.com. I already have. I might do some more. I would love to not cringe every time I hear about what the latest thing a Senator from my home state did.

 

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


looks like I’m eating out this weekend
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

This is the current state of my kitchen. Turned out that leak was going down the wall, saturating the insulation. Over the past week, maintenance had to do this to the third and second floor apartments above me; now it’s my turn. On Monday they’ll be back to put new insulation in, close the wall back up, and put it all back together. It will probably be dry enough to do this earlier, but weekends are important.

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


Things That Have Made America Great Before
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

So. Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again”. His transition team has set up a website that, among other things, invites people to submit suggestions for ways to Make America Great Again.

Let’s see. What happens when I think of things that Made America Great in the past?

Hybrid vigor. America has always been a nation of immigrants. We are the rejects, the fortune-seekers, the transported. People came to this country to make a new life, regardless of their nationality. Including Trump’s grandfather Friederich, who went from being a draft-dodging barber in Germany, to being one in NYC, to building a fortune running restaurants in the Gold Rush. That’s the American dream: any random person can come to this country and build a fortune off the combination of hard work and a little luck. Our culture is a crazy mish-mash of stuff brought in by every immigrant, as is no small chunk of our population – I’m a French/Italian/German euromutt, myself. Keep those open doors, continue being the land of dreams.

Unions. Strong unions forced fair treatment of workers. Without unions, we get long hours for little pay. I don’t know more than the broadest outline of this, I only know about the history of unions in the US through what the history of cartooning taught me. I’ve seen the difference between union jobs and non-union jobs first-hand.

Innovation. We’ve had a lot of smart, dedicated people who have come up with cool stuff that we could sell to the world. Lightbulbs. Cars. Airplanes. Computers. Where’d we get that? Well, people had the time to tinker with things instead of spending all their waking hours slaving away to pay for the basic necessities. And they had a decent education to start them out, too, which leads us to…

Education. How many kids coming home from WWII got a free education thanks to the GI Bill? How many of them broadened their horizons by going to college and meeting people they never could have seen in the small towns they came from? How many of them built businesses and lives because of that? The Boomers like to point back to their childhood as a time of Greatness, and this is a large part of why. Today? A college education is out of reach for even middle-class kids, let alone poor kids. Hell, there’s a lot of kids all across the country that get shitty elementary school, as well. How can we channel money into paying for this for more people again? Give every family in the country gets financing to pay for college. Or pour a lot more money into public schools and universities, free for all to attend. Make teaching financially rewarding enough that it becomes an attractive vocation, too. Ditch mandatory testing to retain funding; that hasn’t helped. Or maybe keep it and use it as a way to find great-performing schools to reward with extra money, and poorly-performing schools to help with extra funding.

Immense natural resources. Part of why this country is rich is because it had a lot of fertile land and lots of oil and coal. We don’t have much of that any more, and extracting what’s left is an increasingly expensive prospect, both in terms of money and the effects it has on the land. We’ve got a beautiful country, but we’re ripping it to shreds trying to extract the last bits of meat from its bones. I think the way to greatness here is to acknowledge that the gifts of oil/coal/etc found beneath this land have mostly run out, and accept it and move on: repair what we can, enjoy the amazing views this country offers, treasure the diversity of its wildlife that remains. I don’t have much hope on this one given Trump’s interim EPA appointment.

Jobs. Lots of jobs. Lots of things for the average American to do that people would find worth paying for. We needed a lot of people to farm and mine those resources. And those people fought for fair wages and We’ve got a lot less of those now, thanks to businesses paying people in other, poorer countries slave wages to do as many of these jobs as possible. Honestly I can’t argue with Trump’s rhetoric about pulling back from some of these global-trade treaties and imposing higher tariffs on imports; while I feel that the future lies more in increased automation, basic income, and a lot less jobs, that’s a hard sell, and “let’s stop buying so much cheap shit from overseas and make it in the US instead” sounds like a decent fix if I assume that capitalism ain’t going away any time soon. Although I’m also gonna suggest “raise the national minimum wage”, because nobody can live on forty hours of that right now.

Entertainment. We invented television and movies. We invented rock and roll, jazz, and rap. Our entertainment media is one of our major exports. I wonder if Trump’s got any position on funding the arts? High or low? Regardless, a hell of a lot of great work’s been done by people who had a decent day job that paid well enough to have energy and passion left over for their work. Really, “keep making great entertainment” comes back down to “minimum wage/basic income” and “education”; gotta learn the skills to do it and have the time to do it in until you’re good enough to make it your day job.

Genocide and slavery. You know what, let’s not shy away from this. America did this. America is built on this. All those immigrants I mentioned in my first point killed most of the people who were already living in this rich land, and made most of the ones we didn’t kill go live in the least-hospitable parts of the country. And we imported huge numbers of people from Africa to work under harsh, inhuman conditions, and called them animals. We enslaved them to do the manual labor of no small part of the task of harvesting the fertility and resources of this land. We deny them education, we deny them jobs, we make them live in the least-desirable parts of cities, we throw them into increasingly horrible prison conditions when they turn to illegal ways to make a living. This… this really isn’t very great, much less Great. This is the Original Sin of America. This is the secret that we keep wanting to sweep under the rug when we look back at our history. Greatness would lie in apologizing for it and not continuing to treat these people as an underclass who’s not worthy of education, help, a nice place to live, or dignity. Greatness would lie in not shipping out the undocumented Hispanics who fill many of the shitty slave-wage jobs now, as they attempt to walk the same path ol’ Frederick Trump did from “barber” to “hotel magnate”. Greatness would lie in embracing the Middle Easterners fleeing the constant war over the oil their homelands are on top of. Greatness lies in raising up the poor African-Americans along with the poor German-Americans, French-Americans, Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, and all the other ethnic extractions we mush together under “white”. Because things are shit for a lot of people right now, not just the ones Donald Trump spoke to during this election.

I may be dumping a version of this into that form on Trump’s transition site after some further editing. I have little hope that it’ll be greeted with more than derisive laughter at a bunch of liberal waffle, but you never know. It’s better than silence.

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

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pruning
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Finally unfollowing someone you went to animation school with whose entire facebook presence for the past several years has mostly been right-wing memes is a nice feeling.

Yes yes I know reach out make bridges and all that but uuuuugggghhh.

And thus Hippie Liberal America continues to widen the gap between itself and Broke, Betrayed, Angry Middle America. I acknowledge the hypocracy of doing this while poking at a TV show propsal about “understanding the enemy”.

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


entropy continues
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

Well that was fun. While I was blearily showering the shelves I have in the tub broke. They’re one of those affairs with a series of triangular baskets on a tension pole; I probably paid like $20 for it five years ago when I moved in here so I can’t really complain.

Guess I’ve got a new thing on my task list today. But it is not going to take priority over “sign the goddamn contract to print rita 3 and get the covers aligned to the specs so I can send everything off soon and be done with this phase of the process”. Despite part of my brain very much wanting to sieze on this and make it super important so I can put off the scary thing that involves lots of money one more day. I’m fucking sick of that part of my brain doing that.

edit: yay my second misquoting accident means i’m in for about $3k more to print book 3 than i budgeted, wheeeeee, never doing this again without the indesign file in hand so I have accurate numbers. I have the funds to deal with it; it’s less than the mistake I made last time cost to fix. Signed it and emailed it back.

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


Happiness Systems
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

So regarding that earlier post about me being depressed: afterwards I thought, well, hello winter depression, it’s time to reassemble all the various systems I use to defend myself against you. They’d fallen apart.

Better snacking: I used to mostly snack on the Trader Joe’s “Tempting” trail mix. It had a picture of a couple of pensive cherubs on the label, and it was a tasty blend of peanuts, almonds,

cashews, dried cherries, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. But then it vanished from the shelves. Recently it started showing up in this new form factor: a bag full of a bunch of little bags. But that just feels like it’s not gonna work with the way I use it; I kept a bag of it on the desk and dipped into it occasionally while working. So today I went down to TJ’s and got some dried cherries, some tiny peanut butter cups, some peanuts, and some almond/cashew/chocolate chips trail mix. Dumped it all into a ziploc bag, put it on my desk, and hell yeah I have my favorite work snacks back again.

I do not maintain that this is by any means the healthiest snack in the world. But I’ve been choosing far worse ways to satisfy that urge of “I am busy doing something and I want a tiny bit of energy-carrying food”; one or two handfuls of this will usually sate that urge without the lingering problems of “what do I do with the rest of this candy bar I guess I’ll eat it before it goes stale” or “did I just eat the whole fucking bag of corn puffs without thinking”.

(Feel free to mock me for thinking this elementary act of food assembly is worth noting. What can I say, I’m pretty useless in the kitchen.)

Better distraction: I’m following too many people on Twitter and that needs fixing. So I made a few “lists” on Twitter. Midway through I realized it sends out notifications of me adding people to these, and quickly made them private. I’m glad I found this out before the one with a snarky name got created.

So that’s better junk food for the body and the brain. More likely to give me a quick hit of whatever I’m picking them up for, more likely to satisfy that urge enough that I am no longer interested in it and can do something that makes me happy. Like drawing comics.

I think it’s also time to switch back to my smallest computer bag. It’s got barely enough room for the computer, a few essentials like my wallet, and not much more. Less weight means I’m more likely to make the choice to take the computer out with me, which means more likely to maybe take it out and sit down and draw. Which is a thing that fairly reliably makes me happier. (I’m really hoping that the forthcoming Wacom Mobile Studio will make drawing as casual as pulling out my sketchbook used to be; the Surface did that pretty well except for the part where it didn’t talk to Illustrator very well, and I found the time I’d spend drawing during any given day going up a lot without any effort.)

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


hello, depression
pentacles, magic
shatterstripes

This weekend, I felt like shit. Sore throat, runny nose, I had a cold. So I spent it on the beanbag chair playing video games. I’d been invited to a party but “getting on a bus with a head full of snot for a half hour so I could go sneeze on people who are gathering to try and have some fun” didn’t sound like a good idea for anyone involved.

I got a new one called “Ronin”. It’s a 2d game about a little ninja who runs through side-view office buildings killing lots of little security people on their way to kill the five people who apparently did something terrible to the ninja’s father. The unique selling point that differentiates this game from a zillion other games about agile little people running through side-view environments killing lots of people on their way to kill a few people who did something terrible is that combat happens largely in a turn-based fashion, rather than in realtime, so you get to be a super agile ninja with super reflexes who can leap through a hail of bullets to stab someone in the face. I spent a whole day playing it until like 3AM, and won it, then did a few levels of the New Game+ mode (which starts you with the full toolset of moves you had to unlock over the course of the game, and requires that you kill 100% of the security dudes without letting them raise the alarm, and kill 0% of the occasional non-combatants scattered throughout the levels) before it crashed and I put it down for an indefinite amount of time.

Then I played the recent remake of 2006’s “Ratchet and Clank” which was really amazingly pretty. And I kept on noticing that I could barely tell what was going on in the cutscenes because all the detail added in the course of spiffing up a decade-old PS2 game for the PS4 made every shot a little harder to parse compared to the original’s brightly-colored cartoon characters against contrasting backgrounds; there were multiple times in the first few levels where I felt like I could barely see what was going on because the various robots and aliens shooting at me were the same color as the background. And damn its plot is some convoluted bullshit that’s mostly an excuse to give you more goofy-looking targets to shoot with your goofy guns.

I played that until like 5AM. I’m not sure I enjoyed any of it. I feel no particular desire to replay the whole thing with its hundreds of side missions and things to collect, and yet I want nothing more than to go sit on the living room for another fifteen hours doing exactly that.

Today I got out of bed around 1PM. I’ve been up for about four hours and the fucking sun is already setting. Realizing that makes me feel doomed. (Switching off of daylight savings time isn’t helping this one bit.)

I miss drawing new comics but “printing Rita” still hangs over anything else in a big curtain of guilt. And pushing that forward is a constant churing pool of boredom and stress and guilt. I really hope that this is the last book I have to print myself. It probably isn’t. And that fills me with dread and misery and I just wanna crawl back into bed and sleep until the sun comes back.

Hello, seasonal depression. It’s been a while. I didn’t miss you one fucking bit. If the long-shot chance of Parallax becoming a thing happens, I am moving back to LA and I am never living this far north ever again if I can help it. I need more goddamn sun than Seattle provides, even with the help of my False God.

(I also realize that I have eaten pretty much nothing but junk food for the past few days and should probably eat something vaguely like real food. I should probably change my habits to eat more real food in general. I’d been working on that for a while but I’ve backslid.)

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