Free Lunch Studios

Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon's Blother

June 10, 2007

Love and Monsters
Ho hum. Guess I better get in an incomprehensible entry here, lest all that time I'd spent shuffling ten years worth of files around proves as hopeless an endeavor as, oh, locating a working Commie64 disk image of "Star Rank Boxing". Or roleplaying newfangled collaborative-story RPGs (like, most recently, the Ghostbusters-themed "InSpectres") without impersonating a lobotomized orangutan. Or possibly even attempting another Frank Exchange Of Ideas with individuals of a 'progressive' persuasion. (Alas, that rule that stipulates you can't support American military action unless you've personally lugged an M-16 through some godsforsaken combat zone abroad remains in effect -- America! Love it? Then LEAVE it! -- but of course those on the Bravely Dissenting side of things still don't have to risk financial ruin or prison buggery by making an equally Principled™ announcement to the IRS that they're no longer paying taxes to finance American McImperialism, maaaan.)

And at what point did the 'Blother' start going this namby-pamby, glorified art gallery route (for extremely loose qualifications of 'art')? Probably around when my unsupported old Sharp Mobilon interrupted the writing process for the 5,128,488th time, screaming "help, my batteries are dead"? Meh. Anyway, here's some tedious new scratchings, demonstrating yet again how quickly I suck the life and spontaneity out of any newfound Photoshop painting technique. The first is a hella grim tableau of (presumably steam-driven) eldritch industrial artifacts and tattoo-imprisoned demonic entities -- hey, you got Niven in my Mieville! You got Mieville in my Niven! -- while the other illo (prob'ly not work safe, but you can tell that even from here) is mostly just an excuse for a drool-chinned yours truly to lecherously render big happy wimmin with big happy billowing Secondary Attributes:

(For extra XP, just add your own crudely obvious double entendre in a word balloon over the macaw!)

Topical guano: recall when I'd argued for allowing megacompanies like Coca-Cola, Google, et al, to train their own (presumably genengineered and cyber-augmented) athletes, and let 'em compete against existing 'national' teams in the Olympicks? Yes, yes, I know -- pure running dog lunacy lifted out of post-Stranger Heinlein, from one clearly ingratiating himself before top-hatted plutocratic overlords, etc. etc. But you can NOT deny their extensive advertising know-how would've provided the 2012 Games in London with a more accessible logo than... whatever it was... that was unveiled this week:

Gamma World Games, by Epyx!

Okaaaay. To be fair, I get the gist of what the designers intended; something evocative of magic-markered property defacement graffiti, possibly in order to curry favor with them schnizzled blinging MySpaced spoiled brats young'uns. After all, we all know that despite Madison Avenue's best efforts, mind-stultifyingly dull Olympic events like 'snowboarding' and 'surfing' remain popular only to a tiny clique of squinting incontinent octogenarians. So that clumsy generational 'outreach' should be applauded. (It's sarcasm! You're soaking in it!) Having rationalized that, I also believe the absence of such obvious London-related symbology as the UNION FREAKIN' JACK is so glaring an omission as to have been deliberate. Eh? A craven act of ahistorical artistic self-censorship, directed towards appeasing the glass-delicate 'multicultural' sensibilities of European intelligentsia and practitioners of non-Christian religions? Unpossible!

But it IS a slippery slope, don'tcha know! If we abide that hateful standard of Empire, subliminally sneaking its way onto coffee mugs and t-shirts and other sports bric-a-brac, why, inside a decade we'll be powerless to stop King William when he orders the Royal Navy's shrunken remnants to 'take back' Boston, Bombay and Hong Kong! Er... right. However, times -- and interpretations -- change. As a child of the Bicentennial, I certainly had the particulars of the Revolution drilled into my head much earlier and more emphatically than most. Yet flaunt that distinctive cruciform before me today, and you know what's the first thing that springs to mind?

Gunter Gleeben Gloppin Globen

Not brutal colonist-stomping redcoats, but Joe Elliott, crooning in Def Leppard's video for "Photograph". (And that's probably how it should be.)

May 24, 2007

Tee-vee Indolence #2
Be careful what you wish for...

*blink* Wha? But, I don't -- whoa. WHOA.

I'd say more about the season finale of "Lost" -- except it's kinda difficult to form words when your jaw's firmly embedded in the ground. Anyway, nice job, writers. I can't even claim you 'tricked' me, as there was plenty of little clues lying about, a la M. Night Shyamalan. "Hey, the hero... twice over!"

And thank the Gods some plot elements (Sawyer's revenges, Rousseau's daughter, John "Gilligan" Locke's stubborn inability to join the Dharma Initiative's distinguished... uh, ranks, etc.) were finally resolved. Because chewing on questions like "whose coffin was that?" until February 2008's gonna be torture enough...

April 30, 2007

Distributed Stupidity
Insert pent-up Wilhelm Scream here.

If y'all hadn't noticed earlier, for the very first time in its decade-long history, my website got shut down because of excessive bandwidth usage -- too much downloading goin' on. I'm not sure whether to be pleased or annoyed about this, as one of the immediate (and incredibly annoying) things Earthlink did when they swallowed up Mindspring back in '01 was scrap my daily web statistics. So who the smeg knows what happened? Maybe a higher-traffic site linked to me one day? Or some vengeful 1337 h4qu3r type -- hellbent on ensuring that all human discourse assume a uniform monotone of Apologetic Quasi Religious Self Loathing cometh Ira Einhorn Earth Day 2007 -- deliberately archived FLS' 40-megabyte blasphemous entirety over and over again? Or perhaps the site's popularity had just been steadily increasing ever since I started this 'Blother' idiocy -- and it finally hit the ceiling last month? Whatever the case may be, I'm now in the process of tediously spreading out some of the site content to other aliases (aliaii?), effectively tripling the data limit. Of course, I could also break up FLS over ten addresses -- or better yet, tell my host YOU FELLATE MULE TESTICLES and move to another, less infuriating/impersonal ISP altogether. (Perish the thought...)

At any rate, s'probably just as well, as these past few weeks have been one disastrous crisis after another for yours truly. Beginning when a krovvy lump -- the red, red vino, my little droogies! -- got hacked up one fine morning. Oopsie. Contracted pneumonia, both lungs -- but the ol' meatware was apparently too retarded to make me aware of that little life-threatening fact. A couple more painful maladies appeared shortly thereafter, and then there was always my pet Incurable Disorder Which Must Not Be Named -- but enough of that whinage. Dum de dum dum de dum dum de dum OOOOhhhhweeeeooo...

That's supposed to be Timelord Numero Diez and Ms. Tyler -- haven't been able to viddy the third season Martha episodes yet. Truth be told, I'd actually been something of a "Doctor Who" aficionado, growing up. Or rather the Tom Baker episodes a certain snow-filled local UHF station broadcasted each week out of Outer Mongolia, whose otherwise craptacular video reception you still couldn't receive unless you pointed a television's bunny-ear antenna in such a way that maximized the chances of gouged-out eyeballs for everybody walking into the living room.

IAE, though the new series is a major hoot (especially bits where they affectionately rationalize dated stuff like the Tardis' appearance and Daleks' lethal toilet plungers -- EXTRICATE!), I sometimes miss the original half-hour format, with its occasionally arbitrary/laughable 'cliffhanger' endings. Oh sure, you'd complain and get frustrated over the lack of plot resolution -- but absolutely nothing would keep a hopeless addict like yourself from tuning in yet again seven days later. Er -- well, almost nothing. Eventually those aforementioned death-tenna rituals got on everybody's nerves, and before long someone 'accidentally' snapped off the UHF knob. To add insult to injury, a few years later I crossed paths with an astonishingly pretty blonde gal in one of my AV classes, who was completely obsessed with all things Whovian. Naturally all my nerdly, endearing knowledge about the series had conveniently dissipated by then -- while that massive compendium of useless PopCult trivia called 'the Internet' was still in its embryonic stages, an exclusive realm populated only by savvy university students, scientists and gub'mint types. AUGH!

(But hey, chalk another one up for the cultural Anglosphere, eh? If an ignorant rednecked Guardian/BBC-loathing Yank like me can still name all the Pythons, pre-ordered "Deathly Hollows", smugly peppers his blog entries with bits of Nasdat and laughs out loud at Rose T.'s supposedly UK-exclusive lines like "oh my God, I'm a chav!" or "Not exactly the NHS, is it?" -- then there's hope yet!)

March 20, 2007

Clockwork Express
Well, with less than a week to go, the I-CON committee still hasn't announced a winner to their schedule cover contest. So at this point, I'm just going to preemptively assume I've lost, and post these babies already. In case you're blinkered, the monochromatic version with the typography and quaint retro single-digit-LPI line screen was my original submission -- conveniently minimizes the conventioneers sporting black fingers all weekend, y'see:

Yeah, yeah, let's hear the collective groan. "Another fut'urban scene? Hasn't the well run dry yet?" But as other recent pieces demonstrated, I've returned to local-coloring land with a vengeance (or at least a mild hankering for revenge -- against what, who the smeg knows). Insofar as increasing productivity goes, this is a very good development. The next step is to try to take the technique (applicable to every artistic medium, really -- paints, colored pencils, what have you) and figure out how to strategically muck it up afterwards using computer-exclusive thaumaturgy. Best analogy I can think of is a now-common practice in Hollywood today, whenever footage goes to a post-production house. S'called 'digital grading' I believe, but it's largely just pulling out wild colors with the computer, replicating effects that, in the old days, would've required specialized camera filters or differing film stock.

And no, don't know why -- I just adore Wexford Oakley. It's a very 'steampunk' typeface, simultaneously evoking urchin-packed (hah!) Dickensian squalor and outlandish tech nearing critical mass (or self-realization). Had the coot been in the 'content-delivery' racket, Ebenezer Scrooge would've flaunted it upon every bit of marketing bric-a-brac available (all while screaming at Bob to get the lead out on this week's viral, natch).

Whoo-hoo! I just scanned/uploaded some more photos again! Really love this first, of my grandfather (apparently tinkering with a new Marx Magic Shot one Christmas morn). It's nearly thirty years old, but believe me, the guy could've just as easily enjoyed himself playing a first-person-shooter video game today -- blood mist, inner-city psychosis and all:

Old School Beta Testing

Recently I got a chance to read what amounts to his memoirs, describing a childhood in Liverpool, England -- and subsequent travels around the world, toiling in various capacities (porter, steward, chef) upon merchant and pleasure ships. Unfortunately, since he wasn't really a 'literary' type of writer (or more likely, there was just too much experience to distill) a lot of it reduces to a progression of ever-changing places and ship names.

Still, there are exceptions -- grim and cruel ones mostly, like one passage dating from 1914, where (as a boy) he'd stayed at a train station to see his older brother off to war (this'd be World War I, of course) -- an act of familial devotion which earned him a caning from the school headmaster the next day... frickin' bastard. Or another ordeal several years later -- one of the vessels he'd been serving on took on thousands of soldiers as part of a military convoy; influenza soon swept through these passengers like a scythe, and each day the ship decks filled up with bodies -- a veritable carpet of new dead, to be buried at sea.

Ye gods. Compared to that business, even the tacky Weebles-filled malaise of late-70's America must've felt like a warm blanket. Anyway, I hope to transcribe his remembrances as plain text in the future; right now it's still a humungoid 25-megabyte PDF of scanned handwritten notes. (Admittedly that's small potatoes to some of you out there, who can apparently download the entire Human Genome Project during a bathroom break. But not moi.)

Next up, we have the required exercise in self-embarrassment. My elementary school put on a circus. A HUGE one, encompassing almost all the kids from first to third grade. As near as I can remember (and perhaps schoolmate Scott can refresh my memory, here), there were 'main event' performances taking place on the gym/stage before a seated audience -- kids dressed as silly clowns, lion-tamers (and lions), trapeze artists, strong-men performing feats of superhuman strength, etc. While in the cafeteria, there was the 'side show' -- which hosted games of chance, crafts booths, bearded ladies and the like:

Duct Tape of Wizardry

Anyway, as you can plainly see, I was the sideshow's magician -- and not an especially good one. Spent several hours in a cold sweat before tolerant adults and skeptical children, nervously performing the worst acts of sleight-of-hand imaginable with a chunk of carrot, in a ludicrous attempt to make spectators believe a thumb could also dually function as a pincushion -- so long as it was safely concealed beneath a convenient draping of handkerchief, or course.

Oh well. At least I wasn't mangling Latin and waving a wand. And lastly, we have the latest exhibition of Advanced Feline Idiocy, with your vacuum-skulled hosts, Buster and Fang:

Kitty Indolence

(So now y'all know why I'm so woefully behind in my Bas-Lag readings...)

Ah, yes... what else? Well, after enduring a moonbat abortion last year that bore only a vague resemblance to Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta", I'd become quite cooled to receiving any comic book-adapted film whose promotional blurbage loudly exhorted 'FREEEEEDOM!' So it was with great reluctance (and a fully-charged Leftist Bullshit Deflection Shield) that I approached the theater to bear witness to "300".

<keanu> Whoa. </keanu>

How was such a movie even permitted to be released, so soon after the petty demagogues and ersatz pacifists of the Democratic Party achieved their ill-gained victory? As the air was still being fouled with recommendations that the President hold a summit with "Twelth Imam" Ahmadinejad, and other similar transcendent bits of advice? And especially this precise historical moment, when terms of America's capitulation to the same revolting totalitarianism that'd been exhibited on September 11, 2001 are now being hammered out? "300" defiantly, ferociously repudiates ALL of this mush, with all the subtle nuance of a Louisville Slugger. "Peace at any cost"? Never! Negotiation? Up yours! Surrender? Bite me!

Of course, the real controversy still stems from the Islamic Revolutionary Cesspool of Iran (yet again), whose deranged leadership somehow found time between Holocaust-denial workshops and nuke-Tel Aviv planning sessions to bellyache about the Persian Empire's rather unflattering portrayal in the epic. Such creative license, the mullahs shrieked, would soon provoke a jingoistic let's-crush-Iran frenzy among American audiences -- presumably where thirty years of hateful rhetoric about "the Great Satan", holding hostages, engaging in major naval battles, providing support to murdering terrorists, secretly building atomic weapons and openly declaring an intention to use them had failed, I guess.

The funniest home-grown defense I read stated that Americans would feel exactly the same way if some dusky towelheaded filmmaker beat our own domestic cinematic genii to the punch, and extruded a flick that featured, say, the Colonists as mindless slave-whipping, native-killing barbarians. Ahem... YEAH, RIGHT. About fifty-five percent of us kneejerking rednecks (myself included) would balk over that one. But ah, the Worldly and Enlightened remainder -- they'd exult in this New Brave Foreign Voice Speaking Truth To Power, smear their objecting fellow countrymen on the other side of the aisle as intolerant First Amendment-shredding brownshirts typically crushing dissent as usual -- and otherwise bury this same Persian camera-jock in Oscar gold.

(And meanwhile, the U.S. government wouldn't take any stand at all. Well, okay -- except maybe the President, who might issue a brief statement condemning the film. It'd be duly ignored, unless he was Republican -- in which case for the next two weeks every third-rate newspaper and television talk show would overflow with sneering editorial content about the disgraceful Commander-in-Chief's tenuous grasp on reality and criminally misplaced priorities. Yes, such is our Orwellian police state.)

At any rate, it speaks large, tragic volumes about how far we've fallen since a certain bright smoke and pulverized concrete-filled morning, when America's self-loathing intelligentsia now factor in the foamy esthetic proclamations of theocratic tyrants as being worthy of any consideration. Proudly, even.

We must listen to The Rest of the World, y'see. We need to embrace a New Global Sensibility in all our productive endeavors (but, y'know, not so much that we'd then do something silly and irresponsible like selling McDonald's hamburgers abroad. Now that's just baaaaad...)


March 8, 2007

Waiting For A Star To Fall
(Nostalgic sigh. I always loved that Boy Meets Girl tune... what? Oh yeah? Well, so's your mother.)

Anyway, yes -- I'm still alive. Been rather hypocritically holding back on flaunting some new headache-inducing art from last (and this) week for silly superstitious reasons -- y'know, 'jinxing' oneself, currying disfavor with the Gods with prideful exhibitionism, and all that prehistoric rot. But when The Word does finally come down, I'll surely post the mind-numbing mediocrity here, along with my usual multiple kilobytes of vapid boilerplate insightful commentary.

Eh? What's that? Something from the sketchbook, instead? Erm. Trust me, you would not enjoy the stuff I've been drawing in there lately. Oh, admittedly they're the same caliber as other scratchings on display here, but their content is, shall we say, a bit too specialized for public consumption. The only exception to this same steady convoy of billowing, slavishly-rendered femmes who look like they were lecherously co-authored by Russ Meyer and Gaston Lachaise is stream-of-consciousness technophilia like this:

Heh. And in other geeky pop-cult news, I think it's safe to say fright-wigged David Bowie's twenty-year reign as 'Best Goblin EVAR' has now officially drawn to a close. (And no -- the entire Raimi-filmed Osborn clan was duly stripped of that title several years ago, upon DNA testing/discovery of their surplus "Power Ranger" costumes. It was quite the scandal...)

February 21, 2007

Irreconcilable Indifference
Well, no new Photoshop greasy-paintery glistenings, as of yet. It would seem that desperate/nervous "let's kick off 2007 with a bang" creative energy which fueled yours truly last month has been damped out, thanks in no small part to the recent calvacade of Unspecified Health Woes (this week's indignity: a head-stuck-in-a-vise, forcible-lung-inversion variant of the common cold, creating minor mountain ranges of wadded tissue paper everywhere -- whine, gripe, kvetch). But I'm still sketchbook-drawing, which is marginally better than (or equivalent to) nothing:

(Do you actually need a fanbase to indulge in 'fan service', though? So many questions...)

Also stopped by that aforementioned RPG/hobby shop the other day, and managed to get my hands on a copy of one of Estes catalogs. See, as a prepubescent, I'd built a 'Big Bertha' model rocket with my father -- though for some never adequately-explained reason he always balked at installing an electrical chemical-propellant engine into the thing. Undoubtedly t'was the very high likelihood of his clueless son spending his remaining days sporting an rakish eyepatch and/or brain damage for the reluctant ladies (darn that '3 Dexterity' roll-up!)

Anyhoo, it was oddly comforting to see the company kept the quiet dignity of their product line, and largely resisted that insane push between, oh, 1989 and 2001 to take everything 2 D X-TREEM!!!!111 Oh sure, you've got balsa-wood versions of Ansari X-Prize contestants -- Burt Rutan's beholder-eyed SpaceshipOne, et al. But that's just the early 21st Century equivalent of craft NASA would've built, had the agency been more concerned with successfully lobbing metal into The Black, instead of indulging the fantasies of eco-catastrophists (who apparently never heard of Godwin's Law).

Incidentally, Estes continues to sell the Bertha. It's now clad in some faux-stealthy black pseudo-ceramic. Which almost makes about as much sense as giving Lovecraft a long-overdue makeover, by way of Fisher-Price -- but who am I to argue?

R'lyeh Action Playset sold separately

Aww! Isn't Ancient Lurking Unearthly Horror just oh so cuuute? (That color scheme should coordinate rather nicely with my Coop devil-femme sculpture, too. Yes, soon my desktop will be a veritable McDonald's Playland of Evil! Heh heh heh!)

And for all those anxiously waiting for that Great Political Smackdown -- well, forget it. The ennui-inducing futility of that enterprise hit me towards the end of last year; I'd watched some leftwerp visionary babbling on the idiot box, who was making an quite astonishing argument in support of soi-disant 'redeployment'. To wit, that "hey, well, we also abandoned South Vietnam without suffering any serious consequences, Geopolitick-ally speaking. So what's all the fuss about?" Indeed. Apparently millions of Southeast Asians butchered by communism triumphant, our defeat there subsequently emboldening Islamic fascists in Iran (whoops!), and the lingering "American self-loathing is a virtue" credo fostered daily by geriatric Boomers upon her universities and in her media never really counted at all. Yes, let's do the time warp again!

Pleh. It's like reality isn't even a consideration, any longer. What truly matters, see, is the sustainment of oh-so-fashionable contrarianism -- that somehow it's Brave and Rebellious and Revolutionary to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with medieval topplers of skyscrapers and their allies. Because, y'know, we're all Little Eichmanns toiling in the oppression machine anyway, maaan. Over and over again, I see the same tired accusations and bumper-sticker slogans being made that've already been refuted twenty times over -- as if the mere act of repeating them (with accompanying airs of sneering self-righteousness, later parroted ad nauseam by dire-voiced engines of 'mainstream journalism') will make such fantasies 'fact.' And maybe it will. Certainly worked for the Dems, last November.

At any rate, the truth is over the past six years, I've come to know the other side's present 'worldview' quite intimately -- and NO LONGER EFFING CARE. At ALL. I'm so consumed with contempt for the tortured knots of concrete-set falsehoods that led them to their present reprehensible stance -- and a stark helplessness before the monumental task of unsnarling even one percent of that tangled mass -- that pretty much anything overheard/read about Controversial Subject 'X' is now going to be summarily ignored. Just like how you'd handle the rambling speeches of any wild-eyed, unhinged subway patron: whatever.

At long last, that standard rejoinder carries some weight.

February 14, 2007

Bah, Humbug 2007
Which (as if you haven't guessed) is now my standard Scrooge-styled rejoinder to anyone making the blithe assertion "Happy Valentine's Day!" Truth be told, I can't recall a single instance of this accursed centennial that approached, in any shape or form, the light-filled realm of 'happiness'. Alas, not even during those years when yours truly was deeply in love with some gal, and ostensibly more receptive to the holiday's scarlet-hearted, chocolate-and-flowers-dispensing lunacy. And most ESPECIALLY not when the occasion was exploited by nefarious amateur match-makers in order to herd desperate-faced singles into 'mixer' pens, speed-dating and other dubious constructs. Feh.

I tells ya, what this particular twenty-four-hour batch really needs is a festive animated television special by Rankin-Bass. Perhaps something in a Greco-Roman vein, with Cupid/Eros having to meet his quota of mortal love-puncturings, or else be horribly devoured by some bug-eyed mythological beast spawned through the gods' wacky penchant for incestuous dalliances. Then, at long last, bitter misanthropes like me could still get into the romantic 'spirit of things', without bringing down all Those Who've Found And Live With Their Truest Soulmate In Eternal Peace, Love and Happiness, blah blah blah.

Oh, and on the subject of old-school Humbug! (and circular trains of thought curiously resembling a Moebius strip), here was the final version of last year's Escher-ripoff Christmas card, paired with one of my recent temporary retreats into soi-disant 'graphic design' (in this case, a logo for a fledgling jewelry company):

Yeah, yeah, I know. Obsessed with spheres, much? Of course. Also sphere-shaped objects, fleshy yummy sphere-shaped bodily protrusions, and Michael Crichton novels.

January 30, 2007

Woe Is Me
Well, this is shaping up to be a most unpleasant week. First, my printer decided it wouldn't use the color 'black' anymore. Oh, not right away, of course; only after the needless purchase of a new cartridge by a no-name manufacturer, who apparently didn't fuss over such trivialities as, say, keeping the liquid ink in the package. Then the trusty palmtop Mobilon's RAM bursted like a soap bubble, taking with it all those programs and settings so painstakingly installed in the past. But the absolute worst indignity of all: my body's now trying to painfully twist itself inside out yet AGAIN -- thus consigning yours truly to a now-familiar panicked, suicidal fetal state.

Sigh. Think it was Larry Niven once made the wry observation that "old age ain't for sissies". And though I'm still several decades away from being lumped into that demographic, yet (really, dammit! I'm younger than Johnny Depp!), unless there's some ascendent medical technological changes by then, with my notoriously low physical discomfort threshold, I'll be surely begging for admission into them Soylent plants before too long. Sigh II.

Oh, and pray tell, just what grim visual expression did such misery conjure up?

Yup. Baby effin' Transformers. Beat that, Mr. Giger! Incidentially, this now makes three consecutive Gordonian celebrations of 80's pop culture. There's something profoundly sad and wrong, there. (But in my defense, I'll still claim "We Are The World" as the vilest song ever written.)

January 20, 2007

Lazy Micro Blog #6
Aaaand the comments have returned! Along with all the other pointless Blogger HTML-streamlining guano! Yes, it seems the problem was with my Internet provider, and their changing the entire FTP uploading directory structure, without doing something silly like informing their customers. Odd, that. I'd think handing Mindspring Earthlink monthly thirty-dollar checks for TEN EFFING YEARS NOW might've entitled me to at least a memo.

At any rate, here's ya latest Gordonian crapola. Though it took scant less than five hours, I'm afraid the rather cynical/dated/nihilistic subject matter (namely Alan Moore's "Watchmen") still didn't deserve the overwrought level of loving attention I'd put into this ultimate-plot-spoiler pic.

But alas -- that's what always happens whenever yours truly starts rendering. Immediately everything else fades into the background as irrelevant, inconsequential clutter. Even such questions as "why the HECK am I even doing this?" don't penetrate that Photoshop/Prismacolor-induced trance, until long after those heady fumes of dubious accomplishment have faded (or I start contemplating my social itinerary/bank account/both).

Oh well. Still, there's a Bug Eyed Monster, so I suppose it wasn't a complete waste of time. And if the loathesome Comedian had been replaced with one of those voluptuous nymphs out of the 1st Edition D&D tomes -- then that, me droogs, would've been True Art. Maybe next go-around...

January 10, 2007

Insanely Grating
Still in HTML-land, alas and alack. As per the Perpetual Internet Obsolesence Act of 1999 -- which mandates that any useful free doodad upon the Web be recklessly 'improved' with glossy processor cycle-draining GUIs and unwanted new features requiring the latest version of Internet Explorer Download NOW! all while ignoring issues of said widget's continued operation -- it appears Blogger isn't making any effort to solve my (now month-old) glitch. Nor even acknowledging there's a problem. Which -- after having attempted to publish via five other browsers, four alternate machines and three different ISPs -- is now clearly on their end.

Fortunately, such frustration comes in quite handy when you're badly artistically visualizing something like, say, the world of "Tron". There's scant difference between a implacable, ravenously hungry god-AI, and your average New Economy bulwark, after all:

Yeah, well, if the Master Control Program's capable of cracking high-level military encryption during bathroom breaks, it can also damned well approximate SOME level of emotional expression onto its avatar, too. Nyeah.

Anyway, back to Blogger, I can only assume they're 'shaking out' uneducated swine who rely upon FTP publishing, and so cheating the company out of those vital herbal Viagra advertising dollars. Well, that, or else it's <tinfoil_hat> their new Google overlords, typically Crushing Dissent and silencing Voices Speaking Truth To Power. </tinfoil_hat>

For the time being though, guess I can fake things with Olde School uploading. Heck, it's even easier than Blogger's present method, which involves lots of superfluous login hooforah, illegibly typefaced OCR-foiling authentication graphics, and other needless time-consuming security-minded rot. Of course, this still leaves out the all-important OTHER half of the soi-disant 'blogging' process: namely, you the reader -- and your caps-locked, epithet-laced speculation about my possibly being a closeted member of the Ku Klux Klan. But o'er the past year, I think I've more than adequately demonstrated my zeal for reader commentary; when and however these silly techno-wrinkles are ironed out, that capability Shall Return!™

(...he emptily promised, chafing his hands with censorious relish)

In other news, the new Democratic-controlled Congress was spared a long-overdue creation of a new orifice at Tom Gordon's vitriolic hands, when Apple Computer (now just Apple, Inc.) distracted him with their latest fawkinawesum bit of technology. Namely, the iPhone.


Gaaaah. I hate you, Steve Jobs.

So. The Fruit Cult satisfies pressing consumer demand for a widescreen video iPod, a neo-Newton running full OS X (though not a tablet, damnation), AND a Apple Phone, with a single integrated product. Well, with a head full of recent patent filings, I ridiculously over-expected something like this last February -- better late than never, I guess. But as much as I'm drooling in Soulless Consumerist Excess™ right now, noting how bland, ordinary and monotonous the video iPod I bought eight months ago suddenly appears today, and otherwise mulling over a purchase -- can it be denied that Apple's opened a Pandora's Box, here?

I'm referring, of course, to the cacophonous panorama of customized ring-tones (or, more precisely, ring-soundbites) that'll now sweep the land. Wherever people congregate en masse, soon the air will be ever-droning with long-forgotten media catchphrases, guitar riffs and the infinitely repeating chorus of the Baha Men's "Who Let The Dogs Out?"

(Hmm. Maybe it's time I reconsidered Luddism.)

December 31, 2006

Olde School hand-coded HTML (yuck!) note to all: as of today and o'er the past couple of weeks, my Blogger account hasn't been functioning. Comments and entries can still be added, but for Ghu knows what reason, nothing's being uploaded here. Anyway, hopefully this situation should (read: better damned well) be rectified after the holidays. In the meantime, since I'm not keen on posting the final Escher Ripoff Christmas card art yet, please enjoy(?) a recent hastily scrawled gutter-minded jokey-sexist recognition of the impending New Year, instead:

And believe me, you'd very much rather download big-nippled zaftig goodness right now, than my highly acidic observations about fellow Graciously Apolitical co-celebrators over the season, and the tidbits of indisputable wisdom they'd all-too-freely dispensed (when not pointing and screaming Body Snatchers-style at household religious iconography, of course). Some notable examples:

"I think Democratic sweeps in the US Congress have fundamentally altered America at a quantum level. People just seem inherently happier now, the water and air tastes cleaner, and the entire national landscape just feels so much brighter than usual. Such is the wondrous healing power of a fifteen-cent minimum wage raise."

"Boy, it's warm outside! You, uh, seen that Al Gore documentary about global warming yet? It's great, I loved it! Did you know that by 2075 New York City's flooded streets will be clogged with thousands of bobbing stinking decomposing maggot-filled corpses bloated up like balloons from the heat, unless we do something now? Did you know that MASSIVE HIDEOUS BURNING DEATH is just around the corner for every single one of us, unless we do something now? Did you know..."

"Saddam Hussein was a kindly old man who'd never had anything against America and loved his own people dearly and never even HEARD of al Qaeda and was just a great, strong leader whose fatherly presence held his peaceful and prosperous nation together and now he's just another innocent victim of American aggression."

So, needless to say, my resolution for 2007 involves (among many other dubious objectives) seeking out and finding people I can hang around with in a social setting whose glib pronouncements won't make me want to kill myself/them/both.

Happy New Year!

December 8, 2006

Daze of Infamy
Behold, Free Lunch Studios' tenth consecutive homegrown Euphemistic Holiday Card (unrendered)! And almost certainly the last, as quite honestly this silly annual ritual lost its appeal for me 'round 2001 or so. No, the Christmas season (okay, I oppressed thee, call the ACLU) is reserved for eggnog guzzlement, watchin' Laurel and Hardy lay the sharp pointy smackdown upon overly-padded Bogeymen, and usual drunken pining for gothy lost loves. Not sitting bleary-eyed in front of Adobe Photoshop, by gum!

Yup. Let it never be said again (or even once!) that Thomas "File Off The Serial Numbers" Gordon is a geysering font of originality. For pinching Escher's supra-rational visuals twas contemptible practice enough. Commit that same crime twice, and you've pretty much consigned yourself to the Abyss of Derivative Artistic Mediocrity for all eternity. (Well, that -- or else the Timelessly Wealthy Realm of Hollywood. Same difference...)

Ah, and four kilobytes of exceedingly sarcastic, embittered rambling about yesterday's 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor -- and how Baby Boomers (and their Gen X-Y-Z thrall) just loooove to spring big throbbing nostalgic tents over long-past American conflagrations against tyrannical fascism while actively subverting the one we're engaged in today -- duly snipped, in the interest of Collective Seasonal Bliss. Yes, may your respective Shaven Yak Day be ever free of my buzz-killing political vitriol. Or somethin'.

Also scrawled a somewhat related (and wholly geeky/pathetic) treatise on the inherent problems in reviving a certain filmic 'franchise' today. But fortunately enough, a picture's worth a thousand words, and this cryptic spot illo pretty much explains it all.

(Still stumped? Contemplate the acronym 'PKE', my friend. And then weep, most profusely. Or even risk your career writing a daring, clever script.)

December 1, 2006

Drawin' Fool
Wow. That didn't take long!

A little rapid-fire something for Ten Ton Studios' first-ever digital art contest. In case y'all were wondering, the players are Vash the Stampede from "Trigun" and Faye Valentine from "Cowboy Bebop". And no, I'm not a big Japanime fan, but this obscure, quirky couplet was far more preferable/interesting to render in Photoshop than the cringeworthy alternative. Namely, over-exposed, over-muscled men in tights. Shudder.

November 30, 2006

Fall Fall Fall...
Gad. Guess I better get yet another minimalist blog in -- before November ends and my usual low-level grumpiness becomes a genuine Funk. Of course here's the obligatory incomprehensible sketch-vomit, whose JPEG algorithm-destroyed, barely-visible 'technique' is a sneak preview for this annum's Gutlessly Nonspecific Holiday card. (And the theme this go-around? "Crude butchery of M.C. Escher's legacy, yet again")

Incidentally, doesn't that doodling just ache for a gratuitous Lakeside Computer Perfection cameo, somewhere? Yup, cometh the advent of FTL space travel, I fully expect every vessel in the Solar Union to have at least two of those things prominently displayed in the control room -- just for nostalgia/bewilderment's sake.

Ah yes, and the 2006 election results. Well, believe me, I've already written scads of quite vitriolic bits about it. But with the afforementioned Generic Celebrations Of End-Year Diversity fast approaching -- and their spirit of feigned 'brotherhood' -- I think I'll be reformed-Scrooge 'charitable' for now, and inconveniently rant about that particular subject come January 2007 instead, when the New Dawn For America (or whatever idiotic name the lamestreamers give the event) is imminent.

Oh, and obviously this same apolitical courtesy will be extended to me, at various parties this season? Yeah. Riiiight. IAE, it's clear Osama was overly generous in his estimation of American military willpower. Paper tiger? Try kitten of marglefargin' Kleenex.

Or, perhaps, a little poetic anecdote. Recently, I saw one of those "United We Stand" bumper stickers. Obviously'd been stuck on pretty closely after September 11th, for the magenta ink comprising the American flag's stripes had completely vanished over the years of exposure to the elements -- just as stagnant water drippings will, eventually, bore a hole through the hardest mountain rock. Anyway, what remained now was only a pale cyan for the star-filled field, and lettering.

Wishful thinking

T'was also a spot-on illustration of our present state of affairs. An America exhausted and drained, weak blue shadow of its former enraged red-blooded self.

And now 'united' only under a banner that's three-quarters white. Sigh.

(On the upside though, as one of the newly Dissenting Disenfranchised, I'm free to scrawl/inflict fawning commentary about Survivor's overly-sincere 80's-era defiance-anthems again! Yay!)

October 31, 2006

Lazy Micro Blog #5
Alas. Chronic (and non-candy-related, really!) gastrointestinal malaise coupled with the usual legendary Gordonian indolence/despondency prevents yours truly from regurgitating something suitably macabre for 'Ween 06.

So in its stead, I reluctantly present a TALE OF TERROR, circa second grade. Insert bad Cryptkeeper pun here.

October 12, 2006

Dork Cred #4 -- Photo Roll Playing
Sigh. I guess we're never gonna have hovercars, are we?

Been digging around old photographs recently, so this'll be a somewhat quirky/experimental blog entry, insofar as GUI consistency goes. For some unfathomable reason there're people out there using the WWWeb, who still can't grasp this basic concept of thumbnails leading to higher-resolution graphics. Ah well. First, to get the ball rolling, here's the obligatory self-indulgent sketchbook bit:

Yes, yes. That bionic oinker provided a great opportunity to plug Jon Hoenig's porcine-themed economic texts. Or perhaps even earning one of those nifty fatwa-thingies from the Religion of Peace™ (this nanosecond's infidel-icious outrage: the Apple Store in NYC). Well, I'll merely confess that lecherous, corrupt lump called my "mind" was, er, elsewhere at the time (hint: not upon the pig).

And, in the luridly disturbing non-spirit of Halloween -- let's now clickwhirl the ol' iPod to 'Saint-Saens', pry open the dust-shrouded Wardrobe of Embarrassment with a rusty crowbar, and let loose all them cackling skeletons! The scrawny shirtless git playing the trumpet's yours truly. Yeah, laugh it up:

Munchkin city

Oh yeah? Well, your mom. Once upon a time, this would've been the third item published by my enemies to ruin any bid for future political office (after sordid pix of the 1995 Psilocybin Mushroom/Hershey's Syrup Incident, and an interview with a certain futile love shrine's owner, of course). However, I think the stigma associated with the game's largely dissipated nowadays -- what with musclebound lunks like Vin Diesel writing nostalgic dice-hurling accounts, the hugely successful Potter/LOTR Axis, and teeming thousands having their will to live voluntarily sucked out via World of Warcraft, et al. (Hi Scott!)

IAE, it appears our characters were smack dab in the middle of the Slavers modules -- yup. Naturally we'd gotten there after completing the previous Giants series. I don't know why disrupting the commerce of unethical merchantmen would've been considered a greater challenge than, say, fighting hundreds of beings several times larger/stronger than you. Or for that matter, resisting such obvious adolescent geek-baiting situations as this (from "Hall of the Fire Giant King"). But then we're also talking about a world populated with psionically-powered slime and cube-shaped dungeon janitorial services -- so I s'pose different rules must apply. Next, my seventeenth birthday, celebrated in Maine. Sigh. Testosterone, where are you?

Burying the Wuss Meter's needle

Oh well, guess I look cute, in an effeminate, Audrey Hepburn-styled way. Yet absorb a hefty cutting implement next to the cake, and the whole picture takes on a most disturbing air. One gets a distinct impression that as soon as I grab that frickin' knife, I'm gonna spring up from the table and proceed to gleefully fillet the photographer. Heck, that may have even been on my mind at the time, because -- insane grinning notwithstanding -- that period was NOT an overly happy one.

OTOH, maybe I've just got my hands down my pants. And hey, scope that well-executed frosting iconography, eh? An artist's palette -- AND a computer! Whew! Thank god I outgrew all that juvenile crap!

And lastly, the inevitable, vacant-expressioned kitties. Smokey! Smokey BABY!

Grey, deaf and dumb

Gad. What IS it with Russian Blues, anyway? I'm aware such felines are bred by professionals to be overly friendly with their owners, but just what attributes are the gene-wranglers selecting for to achieve that end? 'Cause if I could use a single word to describe every one I've encountered, it'd be 'dopey.'

In other smeggy news, North Korea apparently lit off The Big One, this week. Whew, that Karl Rove fella sure gets around, huh? First he made the price of gasoline artificially drop using his Commodity Influence Ray... and now THIS! (Darn. And just when we were finally getting back to Important Issues too -- like banning trans-fats in restaurants!)

I jest, of course. But to paraphrase The Pursuit of Happiness, at such abysmal moments in history, "you've got to laugh to prevent yourself from crying". And to be honest, I DO kinda wonder how those appeasing ostriches we call "Democrats" (with a straight face) will ultimately handle this. Particularly when up until now they'd been over-investing themselves in this fantastic notion that surfing a wave of dirty e-mails and proclaiming American failure will somehow carry them into power again. Oh, obviously the Donkey Boys can't league themselves with what they've always proclaimed to be an illegitimate dictatorial regime, run by an evil warmongering tyrant. But they also can't support Kim Jong Il, either! (Nyuk, nyuk.)

So my guess is they'll just do their usual bitter finger-pointing routine, in defiance of historical reality -- why, this never would've happened if WE'D been in charge! -- and then go right back to calling their opponents PERVERT ENABLERS. Except in that alternate reality where what's-his-face DID get booted out of office on the strength of electronic correspondence. In which case they're slinging INTOLERANT HOMOPHOBES, instead.

The nuance. The nuance...

October 5, 2006

Tee-vee Indolence #1
To the writers and producers of "Lost"...

I've enjoyed your science-fiction themed show over the past several months, though must confess that with all the story's loose threads and oh-gimme-a-break one-degree-of-separation coincidences, the only way you're ever going to pull yourself out the plot chasm you've dug for yourselves is by introducing yet another Dharma Initiative Station... preferably one equipped with an Infinite Improbability Field. But that's besides the point.

Hey look! LOOK! It's Megs, dammit!

Ahem. Anyway, the premiere last night was par for the course, answering a single question while simultaneously introducing ninety-six surrealistic new ones. I dug how y'all covered previous ground concerning polar bears/sharks, Sawyer's cagey situation was most hilarious ('specially his anticlimactic 'reward') and Kate was... exceedingly hubbalicious in that dress. (T'was also most gratifying to see that "Henry Gale"/Ben hates Stephen King, too. Now that's truly the stuff of leadership.)

However, in the future, please realize most of your viewership expects only ONE flashback story per episode -- usually boring retcon explorations of 'human relationships' -- and that they generally endure such syrupy conventional drama, just so they can see what goofy weirdness is taking place on the Island this week.

There goes the neighborhood

With that in mind, please ALSO realize that it is the height of abject cruelty to kick off a new season with a brief flashback of something that is TOTALLY HOLY FARGIN' RAD for a change -- to wit, the Galt's Gulch-styled retreat of the Others -- and then, after the commercial break, replace it with yet more run-of-the-mill Jack-angst about his alkie papa.

Now that's just mean...

October 3, 2006

Pop Cult '06
Because Stephen King remains a contemptible putz, I believe I'll call this one "The Girl Who Loved Mean Giant Badass Robots From Space":

And yes, in case you were wondering, that IS the ever-plucky Penny Gadget. Yet another in a very long (and pathetically sad) list of painted-celluloid females whom yours truly futilely hankered after in his preadolescent years -- that is, when he wasn't also crippling his mediocre artistic development slavishly emulating their Disney/Japanime-distorted features. Still, with the widespread stylistic quirks rife in animation today -- ones that'd make Bambi look like some grim, obsessed avenger -- I suppose it could've been far, far worse.

(Oh, and any pointers to relevant Cybertronian-slash-Puny Fleshling fanfic will be duly ignored. For God's sake, it's horrible enough reading the sue-thored exploits of, say, one of Rowling's heroines gone bewilderingly amnesiac/goth, without having to also indigest highly improbable naughty bits. Or the inevitable revelation that 'SNAPE IS A VAMPIRE!!!!111')

Anyway, at present I'm in my monthly writhing-in-agony mode. This belies the process of relaying messages about my brother's newly-born daughter somewhat, as happy news should never, ever be delivered in an unenthusiastic death-monotone that a state of physical discomfort always affects. T'was also a wee bit galling that the birth announcement was made via cellular camera/phone e-mail -- one of the few bits of modern tech whose usage I still eschew, preferring instead to watch several dozen feature-length films on a tiny handheld device like one of those geriatric codgers rambling on about the glory days of whalebone corset repair.

And for obscure genealogical reasons not adequately explained yet, they opted to name the gal 'Louisa'. Which makes me exceedingly glad my "you'll have a boy" prediction fell through. A limerick-friendly sound like 'loo-WEEE' is only a few steps removed from, say, 'Gaylord' in Darwinian schoolyard terms.

Also endured a recent futile exchange on MySuperfluousness regarding the latest attempt to re-mold America into a spark-hydranted Alan Moore utopia (with, presumably, labor camps for those unreconstructed die-hard tinkerers who still enjoy loud fast things). Sorry, I think a $100,000 tag for ANY rolling conveyance that isn't also equipped with a bed, kitchen and a toilet should be outrageously silly to anybody (besides overpaid Hollywood celebs eager to demonstrate their monumental stupidity eco-cred, that is). But hey, that's just me, parroting the party line of my oily tech-suppressing corporate overlords, who've brainwashed me into considering such piddling trivialities as 'price'.

Oh, not that there isn't a market for short-range e-mobiles to mundane joes -- hell, most of my automotive travels span no more than thirty miles. But if their manufacturers aren't even going to make an attempt to compete with their IC-powered counterparts -- preferring instead to market inflated wares to a tiny gullible clique of wealthy Kool-Aid drinkers who delusionally think they're 'making a difference' -- well, more power to 'em! The spirit of P.T. Barnum lives on!

September 25, 2006

Screw You Guys, I'm Goin' Home!
Well, suppose there could've been a far better way to break this streak of grouchy silence, than an undeserved cameo by one of my lame insult-spouting indestructible bounty hunters, circa 1982. Then again, after the last glorious color-and-mammaries-filled entry, almost anything would've been a step up (or down, if your esthetic tastes/moral degeneracy matches mine). But if we also consider recent discourse in that otherwise useless cesspool of posturing gangsters and death-worshiping psychopaths laughably called the 'United Nations' -- then Snits Cosmocan's reappearance really IS in full compliance with the present simpleminded fourth-grade-schoolyard Spirit Of The Age.

Yes, some generational cycle, I'll get around to scanning all the rest of the "D.B." installments. They'll be most illuminating, especially for those of you out there who've already concluded (after scoping FLS' mountains of self-indulgent tripe) that I'm a hateful hate-mongering hate-ball. Believe me, none of this present rambly sarcastic-incoherent stuff even holds a candle to the violent nastiness I'd scrawled as a kid -- where dialogue like "eat THIS!" and "DIE!" got regularly passed as 'witty' repartee. And oh, the corny epithets! The zero-dimensional characterizations! "Artwork" that, in one glimpse, would suck away ten IQ points forever (assuming you failed your saving throw against Mind Stultifyingly Dull Imagery, of course).

And oh, how I DO miss it...

Ahem. In any case, I've heard many of my 'fellow travelers' claim that last week's circus was the final straw breaking the camel's back out on a limb, yadda yadda -- as if the UN's previous sixty years were any shining record of idealistic utopian internationalism triumphant. That, henceforth, we should abandon the grand fraud immediately and start up a competing global-gub'mint organization -- comprised of truly free, democratic countries -- such as the 'Anglosphere', Japan, India, et al. -- and set the unhinged orb to rights again. Y'know, kinda like how "The Real Ghostbusters" was far superior to Filmation's "Ghost Busters." (Okay, admittedly those 'fellow travelers' DID tend to get a wee bit goofy with their analogies.)

My own cartoon-derived take is somewhat different though. I think the remnant patchwork of fascist/commie/banana states would then -- after forming a cocoon, or something -- metamorphose into an organization similar to Hanna Barbera's mid-seventies 'Legion of Doom', with a membership of wacky hand-chafing villains who'd pool their ill-gained resources for this week's planetary domination bid. Presumably at ten frames per second. Maybe even inside a suspiciously Vader-shaped structure too, if they're lucky enough and the considerably less gullible/tolerant 'Real UN' doesn't nuke 'em flat.

So you can probably say I'm not an advocate of that route. Better to just scrap the existing structure of corrupt bureaucrats, rewrite the gawd-awful Charter, and more-or-less wait for gold-tossing naked women to magically rain down from the sky (this last possibility being far more likely than the rest). On the other hand, it's also a source of mucho puzzlement when enlightened transnational globetrotting souls who rant on about AMERICAN HEGEMONY at social occasions always reflexively balk at this notion of the US doing a Cartman shuffle:

"...yes, I do think my country's an evil ignorant overweight petro-sucking Gaia-raping imperial empire, arrogantly overextending itself foisting <roll eyes>"democracy"</roll eyes> and Chicken McNuggets upon the Rest Of The World while ignoring pressing problems at home. But withdrawing from the United Nations? Why, that's just silly crazy nutty isolationism!"


August 4, 2006

Ooh, ooh! Succubi! Or is that succubuses? NO! SUCCUBI! By gum, America needs less people loudly belaboring the obvious ("...whew, it's sure hot today!") and more gratuitous usage of irregular plurals! Or plurae! Likewise, less dorky role-playing speculation about why underclothed soul-drainin' demonesses (or demonessi!) would writhe their way out of the Abyss' curiously numbered strata and into a clearly high-tech futuristic society (the Cthuloid medallion? Change of scenery? Ridding the multiverse of Ted Kennedy's bloated, cybernetically prolonged carcass once and for all?), and MORE shrugging indifference to my tortured online efforts at racy imagemongery and drivelicious prose! YES! Give me your apathy now! I WANT IT!

Ahem. Anyway, for some reason, I always get more Photoshop-hypnotized fooling around with crazed light/color alpha channel arrangements (like this), than when I'm just doing vanilla rendering. No doubt it's probably 'cause that part of the process doesn't require quite as much vein-protruding-from-forehead 'grunt' work -- once all those tedious illumination masks are saved in, I can then just kick back, tweak on-screen levers and watch all the jazzy colors whirl about, maaaaaan. Presumably, this would've also been the proper time to load up the bong with herbal tea, set the ol' iPod to non-stop Floyd and otherwise behave like a Deep Artist™ should -- incoherent and retarded. But alas, I've never tuned in, dropped out, nor even fallen down.

Indeed, that was an unfunny running joke during my first month at college. Since yours truly sported a tangled mass of long hair and a regular state of befuddled confusion back then -- check 'em out, Jasmine, that dude MUST be a stoner! -- before long, he soon found himself adopted by a little clique of -- gasp! -- hippies. I must admit their company was a welcome distraction from other crucial plans going on at the time, like oh, deciding whether to mail severed bits of my anatomy to a girl I was still in love with back home, or to just commit gruesome suicide already. Or (if it could be managed) both. Ah, the Good Olde Days!

But -- just when it seemed I was going to earn the dual Life Enriching Experiences of a thoroughly THC-saturated brain AND some serious snuggletime with Crumb-styled granola wimmin -- like a fool, like an imbecile, like a DailyKos contributor, I just had to start blabbing to my new 'family' about the recently-announced Macintosh II, and Ayn Rand's whimsy-filled tales of hardassed rapist-anarchist-architects. Whereupon I was summarily ejected from their dank-smelling nest with such force it almost qualified as a Sam Raimi sequence.

Oh, later I'd also get an invite from goths, metalheads, computer geeks and 'miscellaneous' -- and their subsequent boot upon confessing complete ignorance of Bauhaus, Burton, BBS's and Beer, respectively. But by then, everybody had so much effin' schoolwork to do that anything resembling a 'social life' was strictly out of the question.

(Yes, I'm hella bitter. Dammit, I always wanted to wake up in a pool of my own vomit!)

phjear my pixel art skillZ!

In other unrelated news, looks like Fidel Castro's finally on the way out. Which would be more significant if his long-overdue departure also meant the death knell for international socialism, once and for all. But like his ideological brother in primitive thuggery disguised as 'popular resistance' wank -- one Yasser Arafat -- his presence isn't really necessary anymore: the damage is already done.

Nevertheless, while I sincerely believe the man is a contemptible bastid who should've died in quite messy fashion at the hands of his own people decades ago, I also think it's imperative that America's leaders immediately find out what's medically wrong with the megalomaniacal scumbag, and then invite him into to the US to receive treatment!

Oh, the good folks in Miami will howl with indignation -- and they surely have every right to do so. I also rather doubt American doctors will be able to cure the malady presently afflicting the commie coot. But just look what such a pointless gesture accomplishes! In one shot it (1) clearly illustrates capitalism's superiority (obviously Cuba's much-hyped 'free health care' system didn't cut the mustard, eh comrade?), (2) makes our old enemy look like a hypocritical tool, (3) paves the way for improved relations with his successor (and resentful imitators elsewhere) and (4) earns the United States some good PR with the so-called 'international community' -- who regularly fawn over tyrannical dictators like they're freakin' Lindsay Lohan or something.

So write your congresscritter today! Tell 'em YOU want Fidel Castro to spend the next ten years alive, healthy and eating large helpings of crow!

July 24, 2006

Lazy Micro Blog #4
As promised, the Baroness (swoon) and Destro:

Polishing? Yup, that's me -- Mr. Double Entendre! (Those reflective and glossy textures sure were a nice change of pace, though. Also turning a Patty Hearst-esque radical terrorist harpy into one of those bubbly intellectual girls that you should've asked out, back in High School.)

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) this comprises the very LAST entry in the sketchbook I bought back in January. And since being without processed tree flesh to scratch upon is just as debilitating as any of the other physical/emotional/mental disorders I'm saddled with... y'all earn a reprieve from the usual textual diarrhea.

Or at least for now, anyway. In the meantime, yet another entirely superfluous link to Hondo's Hurricane -- because I said so, dammit. Share and Enjoy™! Or else go stick your head in a pig. Whichever.

Also (bonus!) this scan-request of one of my more criminally prosecutable puns. Paired, as the devilish forces of synchronicity would have it, with a freeze-frame from my ever-increasing iPod video hoarding. (I daresay Joe Elliott's notion of 'subtlety' makes mine look positively Victorian.)

July 17, 2006

Dork Cred™ #3 -- Working Overtime, Fighting Crime
If I owned a time machine, going back to February 2006 and nipping in the bud this Internet schtick of posting rambling text coupled WITH sketchbook drawings (and occasional Photoshopped spot illos) would be pretty low on the "Temporal Fixes List". Hell, I might've just excised the whole 'weblog' concept from the time-space continuum altogether. (Or at the very least, that redundant enclave called MySpace. No one would mourn.)

Regardless, any Blother delays can be chalked up to that same implied obligation. For -- much like silly 'biorhythm charts' of the Corduroy Era -- my propensity for wordcraft follows a different productivity waveform than the one for imagemongery. (Yes, that'd be it! Summertime meatspace activities? Their subsequent ravaging of one's gastrointestinal system? Simple fargin' laziness? Piffle! It's harmonic convergences, I tells ya!)

At any rate, I have been doodling quite a lot, lately. First up today is stubborn clinging to abandoned mid-Eighties toy/toon franchises. Derisively snort if you must; at least I don't have to worry about the likelihood of a filmed version defiling my childhood memories, nyeah:

C'mon. Can anybody seriously deny that Hondo MacLean owned the sweetest wheels in the entire unit? His Not-Ready-For-Hasbro comrades had to contend with ungraceful land-air or (worse yet) land-sea transitions with their boxy conveyances, but not Hurricane/Nightstalker! No, she stayed firmly on the ground, and lifted her vintage chassis a few feet to expose an additional set of wheels and a ludicrous bristling of weaponry. Classy. (And certainly worth enduring goofy Geordi LaForge-styled headgear.)

No doubt Mr. M's also enjoying the New York Times' latest unwarranted expose of a certain counterterrorism organization "illegally" operating in the desert Southwest. An article surely replete with engineering schematics of all the group's pseudo-civilian military vehicles, detailed info about its Boulder Hill headquarters, and the home address of the WASP plutocrat who "leads" the "so-called" "Mobile Armored Strike Kommand". Because we certainly wouldn't want the forces of relentless evil to be put at ANY disadvantage, Allah forfend.


"Hey, well, they're like the Fourth Branch of Government, maaan. Sez so in the Constitution. (Which was made of hemp, by the way -- another fact THEY don't want you to know!) Oh... okay, I'll admit nobody actually elects any of the Times' editors. But we can't begrudge their undemocratic and unaccountable efforts to hold accountable our democratically-elected officials for subverting our democracy with democratically-agreed upon surveillance programs. Yes, even if it means the Times' revelations ultimately benefit unaccountably undemocratic terrorists who love to kill Americans, and, er... uh. Um. Erm.

"Well, anyway -- why don't YOU go fight in Iraq, you neo-fascist chickenhawk? AMERICA! Love it? Then LEAVE it! And stop crushing our (patriotic) dissent on the front page of national newspapers!"


Also caught "Pirates II" at the theatre last night (sorry, just not big on this whole new "Epic Title: Installment" naming convention Peter Jackson's pioneered). I'll only make three non-spoiling observations. One: having enjoyed this flick, its predecessor, "National Treasure", and the afforementioned slick Arthurian retelling, it's clear I'm finally becoming something of a Bruckheimerite. (Kill me!) Two: the folks behind the early-Nineties "Monkey Island" series of adventure games should really talk to their lawyers -- I almost expected the Creepy Voodoo Swamp Gal to send Guybrush Threepwood Orlando Bloom off on a senseless quest for mundane items. And three: thanks to Bill Nighy's Mind Flayer and a Neo-Kraken that's neither in thrall to petty squabbling Greco-Roman gods nor obsessive stop-motion animators -- here's the final tally (labeled with near-illegible micro/pixel/bitmap fonts):

Coming up next time: four-eyed "spoiled offspring of wealthy European aristocrats" -- and their chrome-domed Significant Others! Can't you just feel the excitement? (Yeah. I can't, either.)

June 25, 2006

Pontificating Upon A Sketchbook Entry #2
Well, I finally fished, got off the pot, cut bait, what have you -- and jumped back into the Berol Prismacolor fold at last. Yet another ludicrously overexposed PopCult icon this time around -- as I'd lost the previous Ten Ton competitive exercise in obsolescent Luddism natural media by a depressingly wide margin (and with it, that whimsy-filled privilege to force everybody else to scratch hubbalicious Lady Jaye or Teela. (Or perhaps even Druuna; hell, I'm not proud)). Unlike its 20th Century predecessors though, the original crosshatched line art also has an advantage of being electronically preserved BEFORE getting thoroughly mucked up forever with layers of waxy polymers! With that in mind, it's a 'two-fer' (as overly-caffeinated radio deejays used to say, before spinning Whitney Houston's latest warbling for the thirty-thousandth time):

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the Nicholsonian axe, t'was a tip-of-the-hat to the only other Joker drawing I've done, during the height of the (in retrospect, ludicrously undeserved) hype surrounding Tim Burton's 1989 film. While a comparison of the two pieces o'crap may reveal that yours truly's actually devolved in his mad imagesmithin' skillz during the seventeen-year interregnum: believe me when I say that even pushing out a 'greyscale' colored-pencil illustration would've easily consumed a week (or more) back then. The contemporary version, OTOH, took about four hours, total -- and it's in color, Bob-dammit!

'Course, since I was working out directly from the same smallish sketchbook I'd purchased at the start of this blog (which incidentally contains almost every art posted here, along with billowing fleshy oodles of far less accessible/embarrassingly pornographic entries), the impulse to begin filing down every pencil to the thickness of a flea's nostrils and render the whole thing utilizing an electron microscope was almost irresistible. But methinks I did a fair job of avoiding that particular Road to Blindness/Frustration/Insanity -- except in areas like the psychotic clown's face, which needed that bit of 'oomph.' Presumably, if I ever feel the obsessive need to piss away hours getting tiny eye highlights to look just right, I'll simply work on a bigger scale and employ the same medium (in its damnably hard-to-find stick form):

(Man. These suckers saved my life, back in college.)

Unfortunately, the all-too-familiar process was not without its innumerable anti-nostalgic harkenings to the Bad Old Days. Grind up several Prismas in a blender, wave the component wood/pigment clumps under my nose, and I'll immediately find myself right back in late adolescence again; building lavish, tearstained pseudoreligious shrines to beloved Hippie Chicks, in another desperate attempt to magically Make Everything Right, Part XVIII:

Y'know, I'm still not sure if that cartoon was meant to be self-denigrating or not. Since 9/11, I've heard that effin' Santayana quote -- "A fanatic is one who redoubles his efforts as he loses sight of his goal" -- more times than I can count (and of course, always directed in a snotty mode towards 'imperial' American efforts to liberalize the Middle East, but never those savages who wear Semtex belts and fly planes into skyscrapers so they can boink houris in the afterlife). And insofar as hopeless romantic yearning's concerned, perhaps I should just accept the label gracefully, and let other people handle the 'deprogramming' side of things when I'm finally arrested for illegally erecting a heroically-proportioned Play-Doh sculpture of My Aphrodite™ in some fashionable city square.

(HI, JEN!)

June 19, 2006

Enter Sandman
Just for the record (or podcast? durned anachronisms), yours truly's never been a big fan of the 'horror' genre. Stephen King, to name its most 'commercially accessible' example, is one whose tripewriting I just can NOT digest at all (and that was even before the dorky SOB turned my very name into a tedious running joke for assorted smart-alecky friends' benefit). The same holds true for the Ginsu Enthusiast school of splattery filmmaking -- as typified by Herschell Gordon Lewis and his lurid footstep-followers. Such celluloid carnage does not exactly inspire a sense of "teeth-chattering fear", so much as "a desire to see Hollywood suitcase-nuked, for the sake of greater Western civilization".

Tangent time: and what is the freakin' deal with the demographic group Machete Brandishing Psychopath #274 always practices his whittling skills upon? Is it -- as paranoid liberal (a redundancy, I know) pundits claim -- the filmmakers' intention to forge a Clockwork Orange-y association between 'nubile young women' and 'sickening death' in the minds of the audience? (Haw haw! Certainly didn't work in my case! Well, um... unless you count all those times I threw up in abject terror when confronted by pretty girls, back in High School. Oh, okay -- in college. ALL RIGHT DAMMIT, I STILL PUKE TODAY!)

Anyhow, in general I find the best spooky-art to be Lovecraft or Matheson's stuff; well-crafted near-literature that's more appropriately categorized as 'dark fantasy' (or even science fiction!) to taste. And having completed this long-winded kvetchfest on aberrant PopCult trends, I now contradict every stinkin' word of it, by offering up a lame doodle of Bruce Campbell's involuntarily chainsaw-wielding character from the "Evil Dead" flicks. Go, hypocrisy, go! (Warning: Sam Raimi-ish cartoonish graphic violence ahead... DEAD ahead! Nyuk.)

I'm also going on the rec-- uh, Blu-Ray DVD, as stating that I just abhor having good dreams. Sure, after yesterday's Beginning of Summer-esque party of sorts (sadly celebrated in lieu of Father's Day), where recreational beverages/iffy consumables were overindulged while slow-baking in the Big Room With The Blue Ceiling (or, as other people call it, 'the outdoors'), any number of nightly subconscious detritus-spawned adventures could be expected.

But to date, they've always tended towards two possibilities. I'm either screaming my lungs out at a newly-arrived convention of ravening skeletal undead Shriners, before dying horribly in a catastrophic event culled from recent current events/grim speculative fiction/both. Or else it's a REM-replay of the same stupidly mundane activities that would've occured in a wakened state, anyway. (Oh, maybe a perfunctory surrealistic touch is added 'to spec' here or there, like a computer made of cheese, or yodeling dogs. Big shmeal!)

Not upon this occasion, though. Oh no -- THIS time around, after the usual Vaseline-on-camera-lens transition, I arrive in the Land of Nod, rummage through my pocket and -- lo and behold! -- discover the GNP of a Third World nation lying amidst lint and discarded bubble gum wrappers! How'd it get there? More importantly, wouldn't several metric tons of precious metal have ripped the trouser's fabric -- or at the very least, hindered some freedom of movement? Apparently my dream-self doesn't sweat inconsequential details like that.

IAE, having just improbably stumbled his way into the elite club of multibillionaires, Sleeping Tom then resolves to go to a store and purchase something truly ambitious with his newfound riches -- say a spool of CD-R discs. Or perhaps even some beef jerky, if the spirit is willing. He climbs into his monster truck (don't ask), and noisily careens unmolested down a familiar suburban boulevard, earning multiple tip-of-the-hats from all those law enforcement officers who've managed to FINALLY clear that particular stretch of its geriatric, Prius-driving Baby Boomers, praise Jeebus!

Whereupon, in the parking lot, he just happens to bump into... That Girl. The Muse. The One That Sort Of Got Away, Except You Never Really Possessed Her In The First Place, et cetera, caveat, asterisk. In a normal universe, of course, I could easily estimate Her™ reaction to such a chance reunion: it'd span the gamut between a forced, uncomfortably reluctant acknowledgement... and just plain fleeing in terror. But she would certainly NOT be bubbily smiling, with eyes lit up in full-blown manga style. Nor would she then proceed to enthusiastically cover every square inch of my body with her own, in a scene that'd make the business from "From Here To Eternity" look like an exercise in Victorian standoffishness. But then came a noise from that lesser realm --

Deep sigh. I suppose I should be grateful to Fang. As per his dour, rationalist Russian (Blue) heritage, his incessant feline demands roused me out of a wistful fantasy-world right at the crucial 'foreplay' stage -- leaving much less romantic material to pine over while rubbing out eye boogers and brushing teeth.

Nevertheless, if the Guinness World Records had an entry for 'live cat hurling', it would've definitely been broken this past morning. Grey buzz-killing twit.

June 14, 2006

No Leaf Clover
Please note: if you removed the lovely (un)fairer sex and implausible floatcraft from my limited visual vocabulary -- presumably utilizing power tools and a largish soup spoon -- within a week, yours truly would suddenly become the new darling of the Fine Art world, filling galleries with pretentiously-named, sprawling canvases of the splattery incoherence he'd found to replace those forever-lost subjects. (Or perhaps he'd just be cleaning toilets. Same difference.)

On the plus side, with a big chunk of logical cerebellum scooped out, one could also probably learn to enjoy mind-throttlingly boring socialist pastimes soccer! (Ah yes, how the scalpel-edged satire flows here at FLS.)

Speaking of throttling, I'd truly like to wring the neck of my younger self. Oh, not for his quaintly incessant hand-wringing over matters of zero consequence, like oh terrorist groups and American Balkanization. Nor even for a social cluelessness that'd make Butters look like Tyler Durden. (Though I venture a day in 2K6 footwear would probably shake up his navel-embedded perspective there, what with its marked absence of beloved fathers, proper digestion and general political amiability. (But then, if it meant unloading clips of intellectual ammunition at undead hordes of cartoonish leftists, the fool would probably stick around for that last bit, anyway. And iPods.))

Nope, the offense worthy of near-strangulation was far more prosaic than that... namely, not documenting the arcane process whereby I can add new categories (such as, say, 'BLOG') to the Free Lunch Studios site, without disrupting the consistency of its pseudo-handwritten, horribly dated user interface. So for several hours, I fudged along in Bloatoshop, swapping color palettes, pixel-level drawing and all the rest of that image-processing rot. And does it look right? Hear that hollow echo!

Anyhoo, once THAT tiresome business was completed, it later occured to me (after the fact, of course) that I could've simultaneously created graphical links to OTHER sub-headings too, like the Retrovertigo mini-site, or even that curious 'miscellaneous whatevers' page, with all its custom video game mods and emulator-readable Commodore 64 disk images. But that would've assumed some capacity to stop and calmly assess things while in the obsessive throes of single-minded tunnel vision. And that just ain't happenin'.

Eh? What's that you say? Redesign the site? BWHAHAHAAoohmigod, I have to wipe my eyes, that's a good one. No. Rest assured, when I finally offer up a complete RNA holo-encoding of my brain for download, it'll still be through a front-end that wouldn't have impressed anybody, even back in 1994. Because, y'know, there's always some die-hard old-schooler out there, running NCSA Mosaic on a 286 -- and dammit, we just CAN'T abandon him!

Anyway, I'll probably have more nonsensical ravings as the day grinds on. In the meantime, here's a list of my present piddling collection of music files. Yes, yes, I know that band sucks. But the kiddie-demographicked Raffi stuff is for my baby niece whenever she visits. Really. I'm serious.

Gaaah. And at age 1.75, no fargin' less. It'll be a most sad spectacle indeed when she's teaching me how to use Apple iPhotoshop 23's AI-assisted form rendering features. ", no, Uncle Tommy, you gotta insert the neurolink feed into the comm slot behind your ear, NOT in the ear itself! Hold on, I'll get something to stop the bleeding..."
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