Archive for June, 2010

over and over again

Dear Loser,

Thank you for applying for the Administrative Assistant I position.  After careful and deliberate consideration, we regret to inform you that you have not been chosen for an interview.

We have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of qualified candidates.  With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it was a hard decision to make.

Best of luck on your future endeavors,

Blah blah blah

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the periodic table of robots

Had a look at the periodic table of elements lately?  You might be surprised, like me, to discover a brand new element at 110:periodic-table-elements_02 periodic-table-of-elements

That’s right!  Friday Robots are the newest element.  So stop on by this blog tomorrow and stock up on Fr.  It’s the only legal place to obtain this element.

friday robots: come see!

Of course there are Friday Robots living in Falling Rock National Park.  They’re just hard to find.  But come out anyway, you’ll have a great time regardless of how many robots you see.friday-robots-6-4-10-2

Please refrain from feeding the robots during your visit to Falling Rock.  Like Yellowstone’s bears, Friday Robots are wild but will learn to tear open cars if they know there’s food to be had.

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underground, by steve lieber and jeff parker

undergroundactual-1272920241  Even though Steve Lieber is a Portland-based cartoonist, I met him all the way down in San Diego last year at ComicCon.  I immediately felt a connection with his work; his emphasis on location as a character in the graphic novel Whiteout really hooked me.  He realized Antarctica is not just a cool place as backdrop; he made it integral to the story (a murder mystery).  After reading part 1 of Whiteout, I immediately got part 2 and was just as taken with the purposefully messy & white art.

When I gave Steve a copy of my Falling Rock book collection, he reciprocated with a new story he was working on with Jeff Parker: UndergroundUnderground is the story of a cave system in Kentucky and the park rangers whose job it is to protect it.  While my natural affinity for caves drew me in initially, it was the art and story that kept me reading.  The state park is under pressure from local business to ‘open up’ the cave for tourism; however, the rangers are skeptical that letting hordes of visitors into the cave will cause irreparable harm to its delicate ecosystem.

Park Ranger Wesley Fischer immediately endeared herself to me, for obvious reasons.  Besides being a pretty outdoorsy girl, Ranger Fischer is a complete character from the start.  You can feel her love for her work, coupled with a natural stubbornness that is exceedingly cute.underground-3

The story is propelled by two misunderstandings: Ranger Fischer’s disgust that tourism dollars may be put ahead of a natural wonder, and the townspeople’s irritation that a new park ranger would want to hinder them from making a living.  It is a common debate in towns that don’t have much in the way of commerce or industry and want to exploit their scenic locations for tourism.  How do you balance nature and people?

Don’t imagine for one minute that this is a story devoid of action.  Lieber and Parker spin a tale so compelling that I read the entire collected volume – 125 pages – in one go.  Murder, mystery, suspense.  And let’s not forget fish without eyes and BATS.underground-1

Still not entirely sure you’re interested?  Well, they’ve generously put up the first chapter FOR FREE online.  Read it and decide for yourself.

pop gun war: chain letter, by farel dalrymple

pop-gun-war-chain-letter1Among the many cartoonists I wasn’t able to see at Stumptown, Farel Dalrymple was high on my list of wish-I-could’ve.  I’d recently been introduced to his surreal Pop Gun War (which is nowhere near as violent as the title implies) and wanted to speak to this Irish guy who looks like he is drawing Brooklyn but is currently living in Portland.

Fortunately, I got my chance last week at Floating World Comics.  Farel was doing a signing for First Thursday.  We got to speak for a while, which is cool because I got to ask a thousand questions – mostly cartoonist shop-talk.  A few tidbits:

  • He does use a brush, but also employs the PITT pen for detail work.  I use the “M” size PITT pen for Falling Rock, but I’ve been contemplating switching to brush.  That is something I’m going to experiment with this summer.
  • For a guy who uses a lot of perspective (buildings, room interiors, sewers), he basically freehands his lines.  However, he does put down “a few” pencil guide lines, just to give himself a frame to work within.  This was gratifying for me, since his looser style would look very strange next to crisp, measured perspective lines.

Farel was promoting his new Pop Gun War story, Chain Letter, which he is self-publishing in four installments before collecting the whole shebang into a trade paperback.  I picked up the first two chapters, which are just as fantastic (and fantastical) as the original story.  A few sample pages:pop-gun-war-chain-letter2pop-gun-war-chain-letter4pop-gun-war-chain-letter3

Guys with tails, a kid with angel wings, a fallen astronaut, creepy sewer men, robot crows…this book has a little something for everyone.  If you think those pages are cool, wait until you see the color stuff.

sada chai

Every morning I make a cup of tea.  I’ve got my favorite mugs, and I recently purchased a sweet  water boiler that tells you the temperature of the water as it heats.  The Japanese are serious about their tea, I’m forever thankful for that.

When my wife and I went to Ireland, we were introduced to several brands of strong black breakfast tea.  While I stocked up as much as I could, alas, the tea eventually ran out.  America has many things for sale, but Irish black tea is apparently not among the more accessible of them.  So, decaffeinated and lost, I began my search for an equivalent cup of tea.

The good people at Tao of Tea introduced me to a strong, dark brew known as Assam CTC, or Sada Chai. sada-chai2

Sada Chai is not the same as the Irish breakfast tea.  The blend on the right is named 500 Mile Chai, the tea on the left is the tea itself without spices.  While highly caffeinated (for tea; we’re not talking Red Bull here), Sada is much more mellow in flavor.  It also takes longer to brew than the Irish tea.  I’ll leave it brewing for anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes while I prepare my breakfast.  The trick is to leave it in a long time, but if you wait too long the water starts to get cold.  The last thing you want is lukewarm tea.  Blerg.

While I generally brew it as straight tea (with a little milk), my wife does it up right.  She actually follows the directions on the tin, adding milk and spices and heating it all together.  I love it when she makes that for the both of us.

I never knew my journey to find the perfect black tea would lead me to these rolled little leaves, but I’m glad it has.sada-chai

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friday robots: submerged

friday-robots-6-11-10-2This week’s Friday Robots were inspired by my recent visit to the USS Blueback, a decommissioned submarine currently docked outside of the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry.  I took a tour with my brother and sister-in-law.

Here’s a tip: if you ever get a chance to tour a submarine, take it.L1010942

It was a windy and rainy day outside.  The Willamette was choppy.

i won’t be watching the world cup

…but I have listened to that Shakira song about a hundred times already.

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a never-used test website

For the longest time, I didn’t like my website design.  I built the thing myself, and it showed.  A few years ago, I began working with a guy who knew how to use Flash animation.  I emailed him some drawings and he put them together as a test for a new front page.

Although it never ultimately came together, I always liked the animation and wanted to show it.  If you ever wanted to see a Falling Rock cartoon, here you go. 

Make sure you wait until Ranger Dee has finished walking onscreen and said her hello, then move your mouse over the signs on the signpost.  No links work, but at least you can see how it would’ve worked.

Begin the show!