Mars Life


mars blows

mars blows
Originally uploaded by planetfour.
This is a picture of me blowing fire, taken on a cameraphone. A friend and I toyed around with some Bacardi 151 Thanksgiving of 2003, and learned this potentially dangerous, life-shortening practice. Cut to a year and a half later, and he was having a hard time doing it, and I was not. I probably blew about 20 of these over the course of the evening, and cursed the raw inside of my mouth and dehydrating brain the next day.

Yay fire.


Spring, comics, and not being a slacker

Huzzah! After much waffling on Mother Nature's part, it seems as if spring has finally sprung here in Chicago. Monday was an OK day to bring my winter coat in to work, but yesterday it was brought with me solely for "just-in-case" reasons. As it turns out, while wearing it on the ride home on the el, I felt that familiar, unwelcome, and probably better left unmentioned trickle of sweat down my back, and I knew it was finally time to don the yellow reversible Adidas windbreaker. I'm kind of glad, too, because the winter coat is on its last legs, having two broken zippers, I'm somewhat tied to fastening the front via the series of snaps alone. Sigh. At least it doesn't look as bad as it sounds.

So I've had another thought about the blog recently, one that better fits in line with where I'm aiming the compass of my life lately. After seeing things like Alien Loves Predator, Robot Comix, and Spamusement, I've been thoroughly entertained up until the point where I actually smacked my forehead and had a moment of clarity. Why am I not increasing my range of drawn characters, producing more work for my portfolio, and providing some real entertaining content by writing my own simple online comic? I mean, I don't want to be a writer per se, though the term writing can be so loosely applied to so many things, such as a comic strip. But I think you probably get what I'm getting at here, namely that I don't want to be an essayist or a novelist, so why not actually update my blog with cartoons?

OK, so that's the first step of defining my purpose has been in place for some time, now I've envisioned a better outcome, so next up is brainstorming. This will involve me coming up with an actual context for the comic. We shall see what I can come up with. Now to step back for a minute. The beginning of this paragraph most likely sticks out like a sore thumb as sounding all management-y and self-help-y. People, if you've seen the past entry about my relationship with self-help philosophies, then you may suspect I've adopted a new one. You'd be right, I'm trying to mend my slackerly/procrastinator ways. Ironically enough I've been meaning to write about it for about a week now, and hopefully I'll get the chance to soon.

Until then, I'll be brainstorming, and you'll know when I've finally got something drawn.

More to come.


Regarding blogosphere late-bloomers and Chicagoist

So, I read an entry over at Jason Pettus's website, as I am frequently known to do, and he explained in his journal how trackbacks can work for non-Movable Type bloggers, like yours truly. This is just one more reason why I'm glad Jason's signed on with a mainstream blogging service, and even more specifically, the same one I subscribe to. I'd been wondering for a while how to use trackbacking without having to move to MT.

As it all turns out, trackbacking for non MT bloggers is made possible through Haloscan. I guess it turns out that the haloscan service I signed up for so long ago I can actually put to use once again! It's funny how much the blogosphere has changed since I set one up on a whim almost three years ago. When I first set up my blog, I wanted to get all the services that MT blogs offerred without having to learn their software, so I signed up for a Haloscan account strictly for commenting purposes, and a bloglet account for subscriptions. Now 2 and a half years later, I step back on the scene, and blogger finally has built in comments, and RSS has picked up enough for me to not even need to offer subscriptions (my opinion, at least. Bloglet always gave me headaches anyhow.) Now, that Haloscan account comes in handy for a completely different purpose. Yay!

So I can now report that I've sent my very first trackback ping! What a nerdy sort of glee this sets in me, to know that over at Chicagoist, I've got a little link to the entry here where I referenced one of their entries.

Geeky, yes, but hey, I'm learning nonetheless. My only hope is that I didn't trackback too soon. The entry here didn't really add much to what they were saying, but I just wanted to test it out. If anyone over at chicagoist is reading, thanks for being my guinea pig!

As always, more to come.


Sure, I'd love cheese and mayo! - Report: Obesity will reverse life expectancy gains - Mar 16, 2005

I just don't get it. People, eat way too much. There's no need for the portions we put in our mouths, and unfortunately, so many people dine out that they don't have the luxury of dictating how much they'll receive in a certain sitting.

However, there is one thing you can do. Stop eating, and wrap the rest up for later. If nothing else, spacing out eating speeds metabolism. Technically, we were never really meant to eat just 3 meals a day, it just works out better that way. I've been packing my lunch lately, and I've been eating a small bag of flavored soy nuts in the morning, a sandwich around noon, and carrots and celery around 2-3 ish. I don't mean to sound high and mighty, because my current woes and difficulties of giving up smoking now make me understand how overweight people really feel in trying to lower the amount they consume.

On the upside, I haven't lived half of an average life yet! Huzzah!

Sophie's Choice

Chicagoist: Chicago Public Radio Will Split Into 24-Hour Talk and 24-Hour Music Stations

So then, it appears as if WBEZ will be dividing itself into an all music and an all talk station.

Cool! I love both. I've got several programs on WBEZ I listen to, and I start off every day with the age old classic "Morning edition."

The biggest way I can think of that this affects me is that now I'll have one more station to tune in to in the car. My fiancee may not like it as much, but we manage to compromise on frequency modulation quite well, I'd like to think.

I can't wait to see what exciting talk programming this change creates. Hopefully it goes as smooth as they say it will over the next 18 months.

More to come.


I am an anarchist (Joiner tales part 1)

A lot of times in my life, I've gone along with the group contrary to my own desires to not make waves. It's funny that I now find myself performing in improvisational comedy, where this is one of the golden rules. Digressions aside, these experiences sometimes end up being exciting, like this first installment of...

Adventures in being a joiner, part 1
In January, I learned from a close friend that the man Kerri and I had chosen to marry us was lucky enough to have been born on the day that Motley Crue had decided to bring their 2005 reunion tour through the wonderful Allstate Arena/Rosemont Horizon/Clear Channel venue that lies on the outskirts of our fair hell-raising city of Chicago. It wasn't long before I had agreed to go to my first ever Motley Crue, nay, first ever Metal/Glam/Hair rock concert. I'm sure you can already tell I was going along for the ride, as I can't even tell the proper way to classify Motley Crue. I'm sure purists will be happy, as Motley Crue stands in a class all of their own.

50 dollars. Yup, I was pretty damn sure prior to Thursday, March 10th that I had spent the 50 worst dollars of my life. Friends assured me I'd know every song on the list and it would be a good time nonetheless. I wasn't all that worried about having a good time, I'm the type that doesn't really second guess to much once I commit myself, and 50 dollars was enough of a commitment for me to be optimistic of the fun. As much as I liked to bitch about the cost, as I'm apt to do, I began to have a positive outlook.

With a few days to go until the fateful birthday, I ended up singing the chorus to "Unskinny Bop" repeatedly throughout the day, as it was my only means of anticipation. I knew it was most likely not a Motley Crue song, but I didn't have their arsenal ready enough in my head to pull inspiration for excitement from. That evening I was determined to learn enough to get it right, and lessen any disappointment I would face from inevitably not hearing "Unskinny Bop". Thanks to my lovely former butt-rocking fiancee, the next day consisted of quite a bit of "Home Sweet Home" humming.

When we finally made our way to the show, it was quite a great time indeed. The show was introduced by a little person in some sort of costume who served as MC for the event. The set was great, a big red and white striped tent, with a "Motley Crue" backdrop and a bunch of pyrotechnics just like mom used to make. Girls hung from the ceiling defying gravity, and grinded on the stage from time to time. Quite some sights to see.

All of the old classics were played (save for "Smokin in the Boys Room"), and the antics were top notch and gave me a great appreciation for this age-old, classy sub-genre of music. There was a fun little claymation piece to kick off the whole show, whose premise seemed a bit last minute, but it was fun nonetheless. The opener was "Shout at the Devil," and I still don't think I've seen a more grandiose mass-use of the index and pinky fingers. The second set began with "Girls Girls Girls", and eventually, Tommy Lee both flew around above the stage, and demanded girls' tops be raised for the Titty-
Cam. My fiancee came away (safely) learning that if Tommy Lee asks you to show your tits, you do, as every girl in the camera's lens learned via experience. The encore was a fun pair of covers, Helter Skelter, and Anarchy in the UK. Good times, man, good times.

So, being a joiner isn't all that bad. I don't know if I would have ever seen such a show in my life if I wasn't such an easily-influenced person. Viva la group mentality.


Axl Rose said it best

At long last, I'm getting to write about that virtue that I find myself running to for solace so frequently in this interdependent, interconnected, internet-enabled world, patience. As funny as it is, I considered abandoning the idea of writing about it altogether as it had almost seemed as if the idea had passed. Had I had patience, I would have just put it aside until I was blatantly reminded of how necessary it is this morning.

We all could use a hell of a lot more patience in our day to day lives. That's not to say anything is wrong with motivated, driven, "type A" people, In all honesty, at times I'm quite envious of these kinds of people, and at times I am one of these people. It's just that certain things end up being beyond our control, and to fret over such things will get you absolutely nowhere. When things are out of your hands, you have to rely on a little something called patience.

For instance, I write these blog entries that are sometimes long and a bit drawn out, but I want the writing I contribute to my online journal to actually have some cohesion to it. I could log in, and write "This lady cut me off this morning, funny enough, she ended up downtown at the same time as me" and publish and just be done with it. However, I know that in order for this blog to serve as a place for me to journal as well as a place for me to sit and think about what's been going on, it takes actual patience to sit and write a cohesive piece. Of course, this is not to say more words are better, I could probably sum up my feelings in a lot shorter and more concise an entry, but it would still take the patience of thinking out what I was trying to get at to actually do that. Instead, I opt to verbalize the thought process in these luscious paragraphs you're feasting your eyes on.

However, most may not even have the patience to read all of this entry. What can I say. There are people who can't have the patience to sit and listen to full detailed explanations in meetings, there are those who don't have the patience for someone to get off the train before they get on. There are also people who don't do these things because they just don't care. I hope to never be any of those people. Are you?

That's about all I have the patience to say about patience right now. Got any stories about patience or lack thereof? Write them in below or drop me a line at planetfour at gmail dot com. Until then, I assure you that there's more to come.


Your new Hero Ozzy says Incest is cool!

Oh god, I was gonna blog something much cooler today. In the meantime, just... God. Click it.

fightingwords: dubya tee eff


Patience is a virtue

This morning, riding in on the train, I wanted to write a bit about patience. Ironically enough, I'll ask you to wait for that entry, as I finally tell you about the platypus.

First, here's a little backstory for those who haven't read all my archives (how dare you. yes you). About a year ago, I decided that there was no way I was going to be able to motivate myself to work on animation in my off hours more than by having an outside motivation, so I decided to sign up for classes and work towards a bachelor of fine arts degree. My plan was, and still is, to build up enough of a portfolio in the time I have out of the office to be able to transition out of the field of data analysis some day and into a creative field.

I'm not entirely picky when it comes to creativity either. All electronic media and forms of animation fascinate me, and I'd love getting a job creating publications, web sites, online animations, filmed animations, or anything else down that vein. Basically visual communication, but when signing up for school, I didn't want to deny my one true love of cartooning, so I went ahead and entered into the Illinois Institute of Art's media arts and animation degree program. It's great, I'm taking classes learning the artistic fundamentals I need to become an animator, meeting many people younger than me who have the drive and not the focus, and conversely, the select few who are either older, or younger but with the drive and focus.

Flash forward a year (no pun intended, for any who actually got the pun. Pettus, I'm looking at you.) and I'm trucking along in my new routine, going to classes and creating projects I never would have on my own, when one day, in the student lounge (working on one such project for 3D design), I see something intriguing. It's a sign stating "the revolution will be animated" and it has a disney-esque hand holding what appears to be a black bar with some white spots on it. It also had a date, a time, and a room number, and that was all. I decided sure, now's as good of a time to start networking as any.

Well, that first meeting in January had a bit of a low turnout. When I came to the second meeting, we had a better turnout and an instructor from the department sit in who was actually the club's advisor, Patrick Welch. He suggested we watch Anijam, and consider doing a similar collaborative project. Eventually, after a few more meetings, we settled on a group of students who would be participating in the project, and set out to collaborate.

It is quite exhilarating diving into the project, while also being the biggest newbie of the group. Funny enough, I first learned there that the black bar in the logo was a pegbar, which is a tool used in traditional animation. Most of my experience in animation has been through Macromedia's Flash, so I don't have much familiarity of the nuances of traditional drawn animation, though I'm picking them up fast. For instance, I now know what a "lunchbox" is, in industry terms. All of this ignorance is because I've yet to start my animation specific courses, though I will in April. Needless to say, I can't wait, and I'm excited I'll have a leg up when I get there.

So the actual project itself is pretty neat. All of the animators got together last Friday to draw their "last frames". Actually, before I explain that, I'll explain that each of us is producing about five to seven seconds of animation for the short, and all of these segments will be strung together sequentially to be shown at once. Now then, in order for this to actually have some sort of continuous flow, there has to be some collaboration between the animators so that once my 7 seconds end, for example, the main character doesn't jump to a total new location on the screen and style of drawing in the very next frame.

So, the first step we all did was to draw our final frames. We all drew final frames, and then when we were done, we made another copy of them and placed them in a pile. We then picked a frame from the pile that would serve as our starting frame. So now, at this point, we have a beginning of a cigar smoking platypus in some scene, and a final frame that we drew, and anything can happen in the 5 to 7 seconds between. When all is done, we will have one crazy little cartoon.

I can't wait to see it. It should be at least a month and a half or so before that happens, though. You shall be kept up to date.

Until I write about patience, More to come.


That oh so familiar lure of self help

"I am a self-help addict." I say it quite often. It's almost an ironic statement in and of itself. How much am I really helping myself if I'm addicted to the thing that's supposed to be helping me? Oh how I love paradoxes. Seriously, I do. I'm going to put that one on hold until the end of this entry, though, as I want to talk about it more in depth later.

With my addiction out in the open, I want to mention a book/philosophy that's recently come to my attention that has been around for quite some time. It's called "The Four Agreements," and it sounds good to me, like most self help books do when I first hear of them.

The actual four agreements are simple: be impeccable with your word, don't make assumptions, always do your best, and don't take anything personally. Seems like a simple enough plan, and like something that could actually help you out, right? Upon first glance, it seems like all the problems in my life could be attributed to one of these four things. It seems as if this book would be a great help to my life.

Now let me contradict myself here. I'm not planning on reading this book in the foreseeable future. Currently, I'm quite busy, and I've got another book on the way, (thank you Amazon, and the long overdue impetus that unfortunately turned out to be Hunter S. Thompson's death) so frankly, I don't think I could fit it in. Plus, I'm not entirely sold on self-help's effectiveness. Let me explain that a bit, as I've been dying to for the entirety of this post.

I've read all sorts of self help books, constantly trying to find the one that will make it all click. Most recently, it was Zen and the Art of making a living, prior to that First Things First, and so on. I guess the reason I'm a little leery of the self help methods is due to the fact that I'm always dying to read them. I mean, if self-help books were able to be implemented thoroughly, why would I ever need to read another? I should just be fixed, right?

Sure, one could say that the path to true self help is a never-ending one, but I should at least gain a little out of each book I read, right? What do I think I should gain? I don't know, some process to make my selkf-doubt evaporate, to make me confident that I'm doing everything right. I guess no one can tell me that but me, but I look back at the volumes I've read and I just see a bunch of pages and ideas, and no processes. God, do I love me some processes.

Eh, a bunch of pessimistic babble today, readers. Enjoy?

No worries, more to come.

Oh, and I will tell the story of the platypus I referred to in an earlier post soon, not to hype it up, but to provide other closure-fiends like myself with a glimmer of hope.


Horray for Geeks

Wil Wheaton kicks ass. I'll just say it. Stand By Me has always been one of my favorite movies. For a long time it was actually my number one favorite, I'm just not sure I can say that anymore with other great classics out there. I haven't made a list in a long time, but it's definitely up there if not at the top. Regardless, that and the fact that I used to be a big Star Trek: The Next Generation fan were the main reasons he's always held a special place in my heart.

That is, until about 2 years ago or so when I found out he's been keeping a fairly popular blog online, which was about when my blog was getting up and running. Needless to say, this just elevated the fine young Mr Wheaton in my eyes. After reading for a bit, I found out he's a bit of a Texas Hold'em nut, and an incredibly self-aware writer, unashamed of geek status, and happily living as a family with his wife and step-children out in California. Huzzah for Wil! Don't let Hollywood's fickle nature of assigning "has-been" status get you down!

Well, his image got yet another upgrade in my eyes when I saw he had a spot on one of VH1's specials, "My Coolest Years: Geeks". I got to thinking this was quite a promising feature for Wil to play, as VH1 seems to be the network for up-and-comers and rebounders to sit and crack wise in front of a video camera for cheap collage-style programming these days. With all that judgement of WW happening, imagine my surprise when I saw this morning that Wil will be in an upcoming episode of CSI. Good for him.

Now if I could only get some decent publicity to my blog and get some recognition off it, so I could quit analyzing data by day, we'd be all set here.

More to come.

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