Monday, June 30, 2008


You know, I really think I'm getting good at this drawing lark.

Here's a drawing I did three years ago when I first got my tablet. Bear in mind that this was an example of my best work and took me around an hour, not including inking and coloring:

Not great, right? Proportions are off, totally wonky nose...and you'll notice the hands are behind the back, because I totally sucked at drawing them (I still do, although not quite as badly).

Then today, I sketched this (fellow geeks may recognize her as Emma Frost from X-Men) in approximately 20 minutes:

I know it's not exactly fantastic. The left hand (her left) looks a little wonky and I have a real problem with foreshortening (as you can see on her right arm)...but I think you can agree there's a significant improvement. The best part is that this was literally a twenty minute 'sketch'.

As you can probably guess, 3 years ago I couldn't have drawn that on my best day, even if I took hours.

Plus, I took almost 18 months 'off' drawing in between the two pictures, so this is only about an year and a half's worth of improvement.

Yep, I'm totally just posting to pat myself on the back... but ... Who cares?

Oh, and before someone stumbles across this and decides to 'call me out' and tell the world that I 'copied' this picture or wants to accuse me of tracing... I totally and freely admit that I used an Al Rio drawing as reference for the second sketch.

I did not, however, trace a damn thing. I just printed out the original drawing, taped it to my drawing table next to a blank sheet of paper and sketched away. Considering a lot of professional comicbook artists use photographs and other reference for difficult poses or splash pages, I don't see it as a 'cheat'.

Anyway, just a quick note to any other aspiring artists out there. This is why I never compare my own work to established artists. One of the reasons I stopped drawing for 18 months was because I would hold my own work up next to something by Adam Hughes, Al Rio or Jim Lee and get totally frustrated.

Then I realised what I was doing. Jim Lee was drawing professionally for Marvel comics when I was about three years old...He's an artist with literally decades of experience under his belt...and I was getting frustrated because I wasn't good as him after only 6 months of drawing 'seriously'.

My point is, if you want to stay motivated, only compare your work to your own earlier works. That way, you see how much you've improved...instead of wondering why you're not matching up to 'the masters'.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The 'Sweet Spot'

Given that my last post was on my theory of the ‘Talent Monkey’, I thought I’d use today’s post to scare off the last of my readers with a further insight into my diseased mind.

Yesterday was the Talent Monkey. Today I want to talk about the ‘Sweet Spot’.

It’s only after typing the above sentence that I realized how pornographic it sounds….awesome.

Ok, pornography aside, the ‘sweet spot’ is the level of success I want from any drawing I do. It may surprise you to learn that ‘total success’ is not what I’m after…at least not at this point in my drawing ‘career’.

Basically, I really want my drawing to be at about 80% ‘successful’… I want it to look 80% like the picture in my head.

Here’s why:

Drawing always involves ‘luck’ until you get really, really good. In fact, even when you get really good luck still plays a part. Even when you’re a professional with ‘+10 drawing skill’, you’re going to roll a critical failure from time to time. Basically, the better you get at drawing, luck becomes less and less of a factor, but it’s always there.

Sometimes I can put down a line that is absolutely perfect with that first stroke. All I have to do is darken it to get my final line. That’s luck, plain and simple…and it almost never happens. Most of the time I put down a line and then I have to constantly adjust, tweak, erase and start over it to get it ‘right’. I’d say this is the normal sate of affairs for most artists, both amateur and professional. It’s just the better you get, the less tweaking you need to do.

Well, this is interesting and all, but what does it have to do with me not actually wanting a drawing to turn out ‘perfectly’?

Ok, let’s say I’m at my drawing table and the Talent Monkey is on my back, and he’s decided to be unkind. This happens a lot, and means my drawing achieves about a 30% or lower ‘success rate’.

When this happens I get really frustrated, which means I stop drawing and the absolute last thing I want to do for a few days is pick up a pencil.

However, it’s also possible to catch the Talent Monkey in a really good mood. This is a rare experience. It’s three natural twenties in a row. He doesn’t just grace you with a pinch of talent dust. He’s heaping the stuff on you with a shovel.

When this happens I sit back, look at my drawing and just think ‘wow’. This happens once every few months and I end up with something that I look at and think ‘I can’t believe *I* drew that!’

So? That’s great, right? What’s with this 80% business? Isn’t it awesome when you end up with something that looks better than the way you originally pictured it?

In a word, no.

Here’s the thing. When you catch the Talent Monkey just after he scored a threesome with the Inspiration Triplets, you know it’s going to be a long while before you produce anything close to what you just did.

Basically, that’s what happened to me yesterday. I sat down to do a quick sketch just to pass the time while Sunny was watching ‘Clean House’ (I hate that show with the burning intensity of a thousand suns) and about an hour later I looked at my drawing and said ‘Wow’.

Now, just to be clear, I could post this picture and no one would think it was spectacular. However, as the guy who drew it, I know it surpassed my actual skill level by a significant amount.

Think of it like this. If it normally takes you five minutes to run a race, when you somehow manage to run that race in two and a half minutes it’s a major achievement for you, even if the people you’re racing against can run it in two minutes easily.

So why does this mean drawing something really great is a bad thing?

Well, it’s a bad thing because today the absolute last thing I want to do is draw because I know that the Talent Monkey is never in a good mood for long. If I sit down at that drawing table today, I know I’m in for nothing but frustration, because it’ll be near impossible to follow what I did yesterday.

Ah-hah! I hear you say. But what if you draw something today and do match what you achieved yesterday…or even surpass it?

Well, to tell the truth, that would be absolutely fucking awful.

It’s like dodging bullets. You might dodge the first, and if you somehow manage to dodge the second…you just know the third is going to hit you right in the balls.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the ‘Sweet Spot’. The level of success that is good enough to keep you motivated (Hey, I’m really getting better and this), and bad enough to not totally de-motivate you (Well, that’s it, I’ll never draw something this good again…fuck it.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beware the Talent Monkey

“You know.” I said to Sunny. “The longer I draw, the more convinced I become of the existence of the Talent Monkey.”

Understandably, Sunny looked confused. I should also point out that I’d spent the entire morning acting like the kind of British person you only see in American Sitcoms. Why? Who knows? The highlight of this activity was when I handed her some breakfast with an exclamation of “Top hole! Hairs on a bobbin, old bean, hairs on a bobbin!

Then she accused me of having tourettes.

Anyway, back to the talent monkey.

“What the hell is a talent monkey?” Sunny asked.

“Well, I’m glad you asked.” I said. I was too.

“I’m going to regret asking, aren’t I?” Said Sunny.

“More than likely.” I said. After taking a deep breath and assuming a suitably thoughtful pose, I continued:

“Sometimes I can sit down at my drawing desk and it seems as if my pencil has a direct connection to my brain. I can literally do no wrong…and when I’m done with the drawing I sit back, look at it and think ‘that’s probably one of the best drawings I’ve ever done.’ When this happens, the Talent Monkey is happy and is sitting on my back sprinkling talent dust onto the page.”

I paused to let this sink in.

“Other times, however, I sit down at my drawing desk and draw like a retarded chimp. This is when the Talent Monkey is angry. When this happens, he’s not sprinkling talent dust on my page…he’s literally pooping into his hand and throwing it at me.”

Sunny gave me a look that she was halfway between laughing out loud or calling the men in white coats.

The sad fact is that this is true.

If I look at my sketchbooks from the past five years, I can put them next to each other and see a marked improvement. However, four times out of ten I’ll draw something that looks identical (or worse) to drawings I did five years ago.

The worst part? No one knows what makes the Talent Monkey happy or angry.

It’s one of the mysteries of the universe.

Not the best week I've ever had.

Well, as you can probably guess, after getting a notice from the local hospital informing me that they’re brutally raping my bank account because I cost them one Q-tip and a $2 pill…I’ve not been in the best of moods this week.

Actually, I tell a lie. It’s not fair to say that I wasn’t in the best of moods. It would be more fair to say that I have been stalking around the house like a Vengeful Thunder God…cursing anything that gets in my way. (Let’s just say Barney will think twice before looking at me that way again).

In the (almost) words of the great Tycho Brahe, I metaphorically climbed to the top of my dark tower, cupped my chin in my hand and thought of winter.

Then, yesterday morning I woke up, walked out to the mailbox, only to discover that they’d sent me the same bill again. Two copies of the same bill in three days. It’s almost as if they’re gloating.

I can see them in my minds eye:

“Hey Steve, can you believe that people actually pay this shit?”

“I know! I’m just amazed people aren’t rioting in the streets over this!”

“Hey look, here’s that guy we tricked into paying eight hundred dollars for a cotton ball and a single pill.”

“Ha! Dumbass…Hey! Send him the bill again!”


“Because he might be back in a good mood by now.”


Well, anyway, I thought my luck was changing. Along with the bill in my mailbox was my replacement stylus for my tablet.

Great. I thought. I can finally get back to work on my comic!

So I walk back to the house, open the packaging and I’m happy to see that the stylus even comes battery included! Bonus!

So I plug in my tablet, open up Photoshop and see that the new stylus effectively solves all the problems I had with the broken one.

I’m not so happy to see that it’s created whole new ones.

You see, my old stylus just seemed to randomly turn itself on and off. I’d try to draw a solid line and end up getting a broken one. Imagine drawing with a normal pen that stops and starts the ink flowing randomly. It had also gotten to the point where I had to really push down hard on the pen to get it to actually draw.

The new pen had none of that. It would draw with the barest touch on the tablet. It would draw a solid line when I wanted it to.

However, what it does do it jitter like crazy and lags randomly.

So, it’s like trying to draw with a really shaky hand. Try and draw a curve at anything approaching normal speed, and it’s like it knows where the pen is at the start of the curve, knows where it is at the end…so just draws a straight line between the two.

At this point I wasn’t too upset. It wasn’t working before, the replacement pen cost me nothing, so I’m not actually any worse off.

Then I made the mistake of going online to see what a really good Wacom tablet would cost me.

The model I liked?

$850. Almost exactly what the fucking hospital is stealing from me.

Yup, it’s not been the best week.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Absolutely fucking OUTRAGEOUS!

Regular readers will remember that about two weeks ago I was forced to go to the emergency room with a case of strep throat.

I got the bill today.

To say that I am absolutely fucking livid would be a major understatement. This thing isn’t a bill for services rendered, it’s basically a notice from a business that they’re going to fuck me in that ass me just because they can.

In all seriousness I’m surprised there isn’t a note at the bottom that says “Ha! We know that you’ve got no choice and have to come to us when you’re sick, so we’re totally just going to bend you over and rape your cornhole because we like money. Hope you get sick again soon, sucker!”

Ok, just to start let me tell you exactly what happened when I went to the ER.

I arrived and signed in. After almost two hours in the waiting room I was taken to triage where a nurse swabbed my throat before sending me back to the waiting room for another hour.

Then I was taken to a small room where I stay for a further hour until the doctor showed up, shone a light down my throat, told me my throat looked ‘more yeasty than streppy’ (direct quote) and left.

Ten minutes later a male nurse turned up and gave me a single pill with some water to wash it down with. 20 minutes after that another nurse turned up, and gave me a prescription for 4 more of the pills and told me I could leave.

For future reference, those four pills cost $10 at the pharmacy. $2.50 a pop, remember that.

So, long story short, my visit to the ER was a throat swab, a ten dollar pill and a grand total of a minute and a half of face time with the doctor.

Know what that cost me?

$836.09. That’s not a typo. I’ve not put the decimal point in the wrong place. Eight hundred and thirty six dollars.

It’s just fucking wrong.

The itemized bill had me absolutely fuming. Here it is:

Laboratory : $161

Ok, I have no idea what equipment and disposables they have to use to run tests on the throat swab, so even though I think this is outrageously high, I can’t really comment…except to say that back in England the whole thing would be free anyway.

Emergency Room : $464.00

Unless they were charging me to sit in the waiting room, this means I was charged nearly five hundred dollars to sit alone in an examination room for an hour. If it means time spent with the doctor, that’s $464 for two minutes.

Apparently that Doctor’s time is worth $13,020 an hour.

Self Administered drugs : $211

This is the one that really got me pissed off. Considering these pills cost $2.50 a pop from the pharmacy, getting charged two hundred and eleven dollars for a single pill is just fucking ludicrous.

Basically, that pill cost me 84 times it’s ‘retail price’ simply because an effeminate dude in scrubs brought it to me in a little plastic cup.

I said it as a joke in a previous post but it actually turned out to be true. I could literally have got on a plane, flown back to England, seen my regular doctor and flown back to the US for less than it cost me to visit that Emergency room.

Now, I have to ask a question.

Why isn’t this a much bigger deal in America? All of Canada and Europe has totally free health care. The American health care system doesn’t just charge for its services, the American health care establishment just literally pulls prices out of its ass because they know if you get sick you’ve got no choice. It’s a seller’s market.

I’m sorry, but there’s just no way to rationalize or even justify these costs. $464 to sit in a room for an hour and spend 20 minutes with a doctor? $211 for a single $2.50 pill?

When it costs close to a thousand dollars for a single pill and two minutes with a doctor something it very, very wrong.

That’s not just expensive. That’s not just outrageous. That’s just downright criminal.

World Premiere!

NOTE : This post ends with the first strip from my own comic that’s I’m putting up for opinions on its art style. If you’ve got no interest in my opinions and views on webcomics, I’d still appreciate your opinion on my work, so feel free to skip to the end and take a look!

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a pretty huge webcomic fan.

As I’ve briefly touched on in previous posts, I think that I ‘appreciate’ things for a totally different reason than most people. Most people are more interested in the ‘end product’, whether a movie made them laugh or cry, whether a painting caught their eye or whether that book pulled them in.

I’ve always been more interested in the artistry and skill behind creating that experience. It’s why I appreciate a magic trick more when I know how it’s done and know the amount of skill and preparation that went into pulling off the illusion.

It’s also why I downright despise ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’. There’s just no artistry there. I usually love it if a book can make me cry, but ‘Chicken Soup’ is just stories like “There’s a kid with terminal cancer, and he gets a puppy and is really happy and forgets about his illness…but then the puppy gets run over by a car…isn’t that sad?”

No. It isn’t. It’s a hack writer trying to force emotion out of me for no good reason.

Anyway…that was a hell of a tangent.

This is my roundabout way of saying that I love webcomics because it honestly amazes me how these people can create deep, interesting stories and make me honestly care about these characters in just three or four strips a week, using only five panels each.

As regular readers know, I’m a very wordy person and find it extremely hard to be thrifty with words. Because of that I’ve become painfully aware of just how tough writing an effective comic is, because ‘wordy’ simply is not an option. Your writing has to be almost haiku-like.

Think about it. You’re writing a daily strip. You might have a story that’s going to take place over a couple weeks or months, but each strip has to stand alone.

Put simply, if you need to be intimate with the previous hundred strips for the current one to make any sense or be funny, you’re not going to get any new readers. If I stumble across a new strip I’ve never seen before, the creator has that one strip to capture my attention. Even if the overall story arc is a work of genius, I’m not going to stick around if the one strip I read is two characters eating pizza while saying “Whew! What a day!”

So think about all this for a second. Every day you have about four pictures and three sentences to work with…and with those very limited materials you have to move your story forward in a satisfying way, while also telling a joke or showing an event that makes that strip an enjoyable experience outside the context of the overall story.

That’s about as tough as it gets, and very few people can do it right.

It’s a big problem I ran into while drawing my own strip. I sat at the computer and came up with an overall concept then wrote a basic outline of what was going to happen in the first fifty strips.

Then I drew the first five and thought they turned out really well. Then I showed them to someone…and while they got the jokes and thought they were funny there was a basic fundamental concept I needed people to grasp …and they didn’t get it.

“Well, that’s an easy enough fix.” I thought. So I ‘inserted’ a new strip into the story. “I’ll just have the main character walking around, thinking about what’s going on and I can get some good exposition that way!”

You know what? It worked. It explained everything I needed the reader to know in order to grasp that main concept.

Then I was hit by some ‘bad’ luck that turned out to be good luck in disguise. The stylus for my tablet bit the dust, which put the whole thing on hiatus for a while. Then this morning, after a two week break from even thinking about the strip, I read the ones I’d already made.

Know what I discovered? That ‘extra’ strip did indeed give me all the exposition I needed …but looking at it with fresh eyes I noticed something new about it.

It was downright boring. It wasn’t funny, and above all, nothing happened. I’d given the audience info I needed them to have, but at the expense of entertainment.

I think with any new webcomic the first fifty strips are the equivalent of a TV show’s pilot. The pilot has to grab people’s attention. While the audience will need a lot of extra info if the show gets picked up… people sitting and talking about seemingly irrelevant details isn’t exactly riveting.

Imagine if the pilot to Battlestar Galactica had been five people sitting around a table explaining where the Cylons came from. Bor-ing!

Anyway, I thought in today’s post I’d actually include the very first strip, just to get some opinions on the actual art.

I personally quite like the direction I’ve gone in and will call my artwork ‘competent’. It’s not great, but let me give you an insight into why I decided to start working on the strip now, rather than waiting until I felt I was really ‘good enough’.

I was reading Penny Arcade (the most popular webcomic on the net).

I love Mike Krahulik’s art style and I wouldn’t be lying if I said his work is professional quality that wouldn’t look out of place on the Cartoon Network.

However, I looked at his very first strip (published ten years ago) and the difference is like night and day. While his work starting out wasn’t terrible, it was definitely ‘amateur’. I’d go so far to say that my artwork today may even be a shade better than his was back when he started. (Although he’s literally light-years ahead of me today).

Anyway, I had the realization that when it comes to any creative project, if everyone waited until we felt we were really ‘ready’ and ‘good enough’ we’d just never start.

What it boils down to is that today I look at my artwork and I’m never happy with it and wish it was a lot better. However, if I went back in time and showed something I drew today to my 16 year old self, the 16 year old me would say “Damn! I wish I could draw that well!”

In other words, we all think we could do better, no matter how good we get. I know that if I was waiting for the day I could look at something I’ve drawn and say “Yes! Now I’m ready.”…I’d be waiting forever.

Anyway, I’ve talked long enough, so here’s the historic first strip of ‘Obsolete’. Take a look and tell me what you think about the artwork.

Click for full view!

(Just as a disclaimer, I know this strip isn’t very funny, but this strip’s main purpose is to set up the next one. I needed the main character to get fired in this strip…but as I said above, each strip needs to stand somewhat on its own…and this is the best thing I could think of.)

PS. The female superhero doesn’t have a name yet. If anyone can think of one, I’d appreciate it J

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another day, another idiot...

What is it about the internet that brings out the morons?

I was clicking the stumble button today and landed on an (awful) webcomic who’s author had taken the time out to re-publish four or five Ctrl-Alt-Del strips as ‘proof’ that Tim Buckley (The author of Ctrl-Alt-Del) is sexist.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like CAD and think Tim Buckley is so far up himself it would take a team of professional miners several years to extract the guy’s head from his own ass…but the dude’s not a sexist.

To be honest, this situation reminds me of a post I wrote a year or so ago about an idiot blogger who made it her mission to expose ‘’ as ‘racist’ because 99% of the people ‘baited’ and humiliated on that site were black.

Of course, she totally missed the fact that every single one of the people ‘humiliated’ on 419eater are in fact Nigerian 419-scammers…you know, the people who email you saying they’ll give you a few million dollars if you’ll help with ‘legal fees’…then extract as much money as possible from you before disappearing.

So, apparently, if a criminal sends me fraudulent email in an attempt to con thousands of dollars out of me, and I choose to mess with the guy by wasting his time and making him jump through hoops for a few weeks …I’m a racist for doing so if that criminal happens to be black.

Anyway… back to CAD.

Apparently this cartoonist was ‘outraged’ at a sexist CAD storyline.

Here’s the part of the storyline the guy chose to post:

One of the characters (Lucas) is at work when his ‘blind-date’ turns up, a girl who looks like she weighs at least 350lbs. Lucas isn’t interested, but goes on the date with her anyway. He later takes her home…she goes out of the room…and returns a few minutes later with all her fat gone and instead has the body of a supermodel. He’s obviously shocked at the transformation so she explains that she works in movie special effects and decided to attend the date in a fat-suit because she wanted to see if he’d be interested in her rather than just her looks. He decides to stay for a drink.

Ok, first point.

Even if we take this at face value, that story is not even slightly sexist…it’s fiction, and Lucas’ reaction is actually realistic. Let’s be honest here. I don’t know many guys who wouldn’t be at least slightly put off if a 350lb woman turned up for a blind date. It’s also likely that the same guy would probably be a lot more interested if he found out his date wasn’t really 350lbs, and instead had the body of a supermodel.

So, this means two things.

One, the character isn’t ‘sexist’ at all, he’s just a bit shallow. If he’d been interviewing her for a job or something and turned her down because of her looks, that would be sexist… however, not being attracted to someone because of their weight doesn’t even approach sexist.

Let’s flip this around. Ladies, if you went on a blind date and a 350lb guy showed up…would you be sexist if you wished he was in better shape? Would you suddenly become more interested if it turned out he had a washboard abs?

Long story short, it’s not sexist if you’re not attracted to someone because of any physical attribute.

Secondly, you can’t call an author sexist even if one of their characters absolutely is. I mean, I know it’s hardly on the same literary level, but by this reasoning we could call Harper Lee a racist for writing ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’…after all, 99% of the characters in that book are total racists. I’ve also read ‘The Color Purple’, and amazingly didn’t assume Alice Walker was all for underage incest-rape.

If everyone judged people based on the characters they create, the guy who wrote ‘Saw’ or ‘Hostel’ would be in jail right now.

Ok, now we come to the real kicker.

If you read a handful of strips before and after the ones this dumbass chose to post, things take on a whole different context.

Basically, Lucas had just gotten out of a bad relationship and it’s made clear that he feels he isn’t ready for another one. The blind date is set up by another character,without his knowledge, as an unintentionally cruel practical joke. In other words, when his ‘date’ turns up, he’s not expecting it. From his point of view a random stranger has just walked up to him and asked him if he’s ready for their date.

So let’s get this straight. Lucas doesn’t want to date anyone but actually takes this girl out because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. He thinks that if he tells her that he knows nothing about the date and doesn’t want to date anyone, period, she’ll assume he’s calling the date off because of her looks and is just making up excuses.

They do end up dating…but the whole following story arc is that he’s found himself in this relationship with a girl who intrigues him, who he actually likes…but he still doesn’t feel like he’s ready for a relationship and agonizes over what to do about it.

So, in context, Lucas is actually a really nice guy. He doesn’t want to date anyone, but gets set up without his knowledge and goes on a date he really doesn’t want to go on just to spare this girl’s feelings. Then, despite the fact that she turns out to be someone he’s physically attracted to, he still doesn’t feel ready and worries about whether he’s being fair to the girl by continuing to date when he doesn’t see the relationship going anywhere.

That sound sexist to anyone?

I think this cartoonist’s total idiocy can be summed up by a further statement that Scott Kurtz and Mike Krahulik (of PvP and Penny Arcade respectively) are also sexist because if they draw their wives in their strips they draw them ‘much hotter than they really are’.

I don’t know what world this guy is living in, but the act of cartooning is taking real life and exaggerating it. If I ever draw my wife as a cartoon, I’m going to pick her best features to exaggerate, just because I don’t want to get my ass kicked.

Plus, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with representing someone you care about in the way you see them.

Oh, and even if my wife was a hairy dwarf with a lazy eye, an ass the size of Kansas and had the world’s most spectacularly hairy mole on her face…if I choose to draw her as Adrianna Lima’s twin sister, that isn’t sexist either!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Didn't I Just Leave It Alone?

After Sunny left for work last night I was sitting on the couch watching some TV when my new awesome drafting table just started calling out to me.

“Sit at me!” It said. “Look how shiny and professional looking I am! Imagine the sheer works of greatness you could accomplish with my help!”

“Bollocks.” I said. Unlike a lot of people I’ve had the misfortune to meet, I understand that expensive equipment doesn’t automatically make you a better artist. Put simply, if you’re a mediocre artist drawing on newsprint at a card table, you’re going to be a mediocre artist drawing on Bristol at a purpose-built drawing table.

However, I do love to draw, the drafting table solves a lot of problems and it’s just so darn comfortable to draw at.

So I grabbed some paper, sat down and went to work.

After a while I decided to do some photograph copying. Drawing straight out of your head is great and intensely satisfying from a creative point of view, but for actually learning to draw, you can’t beat drawing from life or photographs. It’s really hard to draw from life or a picture and not learn anything from it, even if your final result looks terrible.

So I jumped on the net, found an interesting picture, printed it out and settled in to draw it.

For once I deliberately forced myself not to rush. I was going to take as long as it took to get right. That’s a problem I have. I get carried away and will finish a drawing in half an hour when I should really be spending a couple of hours on the original contour drawing alone.

Anyway two hours later and I was done. Better still I was actually happy with the end result. I’d deliberately picked a picture with a complicated pose and viewpoint that I know would cause me to stop and think. (After a little practice it’s easy to draw someone standing up straight and looking directly at you…a dynamic pose with lots of foreshortening from an extreme angle is much, much harder).

That’s when I hit my biggest problem.

I forget who said it, but the saying goes that “Artwork is never finished, it simply gets abandoned”.

I’d put down my pencil, gone to get a drink and had sat back down on the couch and started watching ‘dirty jobs’ on Discovery. I glanced over at my drawing that I’d left on the desk and decided to take another look.

As I stood looking at the drawing next to the original photo…I noticed that something was just slightly off. So I picked up my eraser and pencil again and ‘corrected’ it. Then I noticed that that correction made something else look slightly off.

An hour and a half later I’m still drawing, cursing how it’s impossible to erase part of a shaded object and then get it back looking natural. Of course, when I was finished, I didn’t like it nearly as much as I did the first time it was ‘finished’…and all the while I was fighting the urge to keep drawing to ‘fix’ it.

Remember when you were a kid and you’d be playing with a ball or something inside the house, and you knew you should stop, but you just kept pushing your luck until you accidentally broke your mum’s favorite lamp?

That’s what this is like. You start tinkering knowing you’re going to ‘fix’ this tiny little problem…and an hour later you’re looking at a disaster area on the page thinking “Why didn’t I just quit? Why didn’t I just quit? Oh God, why didn’t I just quit?”

And the best part? While you’re chastising yourself for not putting the pencil down and just leaving well enough alone…you’re still drawing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Well, now I just feel bad.

A few weeks ago I posted about how terrible Trust customer service was. I’d searched their website looking for a replacement stylus for my tablet, couldn’t find one, so I emailed them asking how to order one.

I got an email back saying “You can order one from us for ten euro”.

Great right? All information is technically correct, but absolutely useless. Kinda like asking someone for directions to their house and them telling you to ‘drive there in your car’.

I wrote back, asking where on the website I can find it…and got exactly the same email back. “You can order one from us for ten euro.”

So last week, I wrote again, explaining in detail that I know I can order one from them…and that it costs ten Euro…but I needed to know how to order one considering it wasn’t in their product catalogue.

Two days later I got an email from them saying if I send them my mailing address I can order one through email.

So I did just that. I emailed them my mailing address…and asked how and when I was supposed to pay.

To be honest, I was getting sick of the whole thing. Ten euros is about 15 dollars. Shipping from Europe was probably going to be another twenty…for an extra fifteen bucks I could just drive to the store and buy a whole new tablet, which would save me a lot of hassle.

Then yesterday I got the following email:

Dear Sir,

We sent your replacement pen today. This one is free, however, next time you will need to order one from us for ten Euro.

Now, normally, I’d be singing Trust’s praises. I got dicked around for a couple of weeks, but in the end I got my replacement stylus for free…which would normally make me feel like a valued customer and I’d be sure to give them repeat business.

However, I just feel kinda bad.

You see, I’m not actually a Trust customer. I bought my tablet from Medion. My tablet is in essence a Trust tablet…in that it’s exactly the same hardware and uses the same drivers… but my tablet manufactured and sold under license by a totally different company.

I only attempted to order a replacement stylus from Trust because Medion don’t sell them, and I knew Trust’s stylus will be compatible.

So, one half of me is just happy that I scored a free stylus. He other part of me just feels guilty because Trust is sending me that pen to keep me as a ‘happy customer’…when the truth is they’ve never seen a penny of my money.

Oh well…I suppose I never officially stated that I was a customer of theirs. I just asked them if I could order a replacement stylus for a compatible tablet.

Them’s the breaks.

Assembling a Drafting Table - Paulius Style!

1) Unpack all the parts.

2) Look at instructions and realize they might as well be in Old Norse runes.

3) Spend 10 minutes trying to bolt the two side pieces to the bottom and fail.

4) Realize that the squiggly unlabeled things on the instruction sheet aren’t the feet as you’d thought, but special threaded nuts that enable you screw the side pieces to the bottom. Screw them on with a chuckle.

5) Spend ten minutes bolting the main back piece on nice and tight.

6) Loosen main back piece to fit other support that won’t fit with the back piece on.

7) Spend another ten minutes bolting on back piece.

8) Attempt to fit ratchet arm for work surface and discover the back piece does not have the necessary holes.

9) Swear loudly upon realizing back piece is on upside down.

10) Take back piece off, whacking fingernail in process.

11) Swear loudly.

12) Attach back piece for the third time.

13) Bolt on ratchet arm and pride yourself on being on ‘the home stretch’.

14) Attempt to attach work surface, onto to realize holes are missing on the side pieces as well.

15) Realise that the left side-piece is on the right and vice-versa.

16) Invent new and interesting swearwords as you proceed to take the whole damn thing apart and start over. Curse the manufacturer for not giving you any of the damn information you need.

17) Reassemble whole desk and attach work surface.

18) Remove work surface because you forgot to screw on the ‘little black things of unknown function’ to the side of the desk.

19) Screw on mysterious black objects and get them nice and tight.

20) Attach work surface.

21) Realize black things are clips to hold tool-trays.

22) Realize they’re on far too tight to allow you to clip the tool-trays on.

23) Say ‘fuck it’ and force them on anyway.

24) Snap off one of the clips.

25) Chant mantra “I really didn’t need four trays anyway…I really didn’t need four trays anyway.”

26) Sit back and admire handiwork.

27) Find screws on floor and wonder why they gave you spares.

28) Note support bar standing in corner…where you placed it during second disassembly.

29) Realize there’s no way to bolt on support bar without taking the entire thing apart. Also realize how rickety the thing is without it.

30) Return to step one.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Wife Better Than Yours - Official!

Sunny was off work last night so we found ourselves still up and about at about 8am when we finally decided to go to bed.

We hadn’t been in there for more than five minutes when Sunny suddenly said “I’m hungry.”

“I’m hungry.” Is the code word that both of us use that basically means “You should go cook us both something.” Sunny said it first, which meant that I was obligated to cook…so I thought fast.

“You know.” I said. “Today’s Tuesday. We’ve gotta go get groceries and pay some bills, so why don’t we go do that now instead of sleeping first, and we can stop at Jack-in-the-Box on the way or something?”

“Ok.” Sunny said.

So that’s exactly what we did.

On the way home I asked Sunny if we could stop at the local Hobby-Lobby. I needed a pointer for my clutch-pencil and with the stylus for my graphics pad broken, I wanted to see if I could get a good brush-tip India-ink pen so I could at least ink my comics traditionally until I could get a replacement stylus.

Sunny loves Hobby-Lobby almost as much as I do, so we stopped there on the way home. I got what I wanted and Sunny got herself a set of ‘watercolor pencils’ to try out.

As always, while I was there, I drooled over the drafting desks.

Anyway, we get home and Sunny’s mom called and asked her if she’d go with her on an errand. While Sunny was gone, I decided to try out my new pen.

Just as a little aside, over the past few days I’ve been trying to get Sunny interested in D&D. I really want to play again, and I figured if I can get Sunny interested, I only need to find two or three more people to make up a party. Knowing Sunny likes the whole ‘stealth assassin’ kinda thing, I decided that’s what I’d draw to break in my pen. A character portrait of a female rogue.

So I did a quick 20 minute sketch and inked it. Just as I finished Sunny came back.

“Watcha drawing?” She asked.

“A character portrait for you for if we ever play D&D.”

I showed it to her and asked her what she thought. After finally ‘training’ her to know that I don’t just wanna be told that whatever I’ve drawn is ‘good’ she said:

“It’s good, but her upper body looks a little off.”

“Really?” I said. I thought I’d ‘nailed’ it this time round….but I looked and saw she was dead right.

“Crap!” I said. “I know what’s happened.”

You see, I draw at the computer desk. Because the drawing is flat on the desk and I’m seeing it from a 45 degree angle, a lot of the time my drawings look ‘stretched’ when you look at them straight on. If you hold it in your hands and tilt it backwards, it looks good…in other words, great when viewed from the position it was in when I drew it, crap when viewed normally.

“Ugh.” I said. “Next week we gotta go to the Home Depot.”

“Why?” Sunny asked.

“Because, if I can probably buy a sheet of MDF for ten bucks and I can screw some ‘legs’ to one end of it, and put it on my desk. Poor-man’s drafting desk, basically.”

“Ah.” Sunny said.

Anyway, by that point it was close to 3 in the afternoon, I hadn’t slept since yesterday morning, so I laid down on the couch, turned on the TV and promptly fell asleep.

I awoke a measly 13 hours later at 4am.

I get up, turn on a light, go to the bathroom, get something to drink…when I notice something sitting on the computer keyboard. I pick it up. It’s an envelope addressed to ‘The Best Husband Ever’.

Considering he wasn’t around, I decided to open it for him. Inside was a note that read:


I know I didn’t discuss this with you, but you’re always so wonderful to me I wanted you to have something special. Think of it as part of your Christmas from me…and please don’t be mad at me!

Love Sunny.

At first I thought “What a gip!” I mean…I know everyone loves to find notes from their significant other telling them how awesome they think you are…but a note being part of my Christmas present?

Then I saw something I’d missed on the back of the envelope. It said “Look in the back of the car, then read this.”

Oops, putting the cart before the horse as always.

Anyway, you can probably tell where I’m going with this. I went outside and in the dark I looked through the back window of the car…and there sitting in the trunk was a brand-new drafting desk from Hobby Lobby. As soon as it’s daylight, I’m setting it up.

…and that, my friends, is why my wife is better that yours ever will be.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Future! ...We're totally, totally BONED!

I was watching “When We Left Earth : The NASA Missions” today when I suddenly remembered a bit of trivia.

The computers aboard Apollo 11 (the moon-landing mission spacecraft) had less raw processing power than a modern pocket calculator.

At first this seems like one of those ‘urban myth’ type stories that can’t possibly be true. However, the more you think about it, the more plausible it seems. For example, in 1969, calculators were indeed giant ‘desktop’ machines that required a large AC power supplies… and the first real ‘pocket’ calculator didn’t hit the market until three years after the moon landing.

Oh, and adjusting for inflation, the cost one of those pocket calculators in 1971 would buy you a top of the line laptop today.

So, even if NASA had been on the absolute bleeding edge of technology when they built the Apollo 11 craft, you’re still talking ‘very large suitcase’ when you talk about something with the processing power of a pocket calculator. Considering the size of the craft, it becomes totally believable when you consider something with the processing power of a 1995 laptop would have taken up several floors of a building in 1969.

Anyway, The reason I’m talking about this is because it just shows the sheer speed at which technology is advancing. I have a copy of the Guinness Book of Records from 1995, and was surprised to read that the world’s fastest processor at that time ran at 250mhz. Considering my computer today is twelve times faster than that and is considered slow…well, you see what I mean.

Of course, this led me to start speculating about what technology is going to be like in another ten or twenty years…and it’s kinda scary.

Being a big gamer, the first thing I thought of was applications for games.

“It’ll be awesome!” I thought. “We’ll probably have our own personal holodecks!”

Of course, I don’t mean ‘Star Trek’ style holodecks with solid holograms etc. However, an ultra-light head-mounted display that projects an image directly onto your retinas matched with a body-suit fitted with servos and motors amounts to the same thing. My point is that it’s no totally beyond the realms of believability.

Then, the more I thought, the more I realized that this is a very, very, very bad idea.

Ok, bear with me for a moment and imagine that the year is 2028. I don’t know exactly how it would work, but imagine that we’ve perfected ‘holodeck’ technology so that we can run games and simulations that are absolutely indistinguishable from reality. It doesn’t matter how this work, whether you’re thinking of a body-suit like I described above or a helmet that uses radio-waves to directly stimulate parts of your brain. Let’s just accept that the technology’s been invented and it works.

Anyway, I was imagining how cool it would be to play games like that

…then I remembered the time I levitated a good six feet in the sitting position when that fricking flaming zombie unexpectedly charged out of the industrial oven in ‘Resident Evil 4’. Then I remembered the hair on the back of my neck standing up and feeling my skin crawl as I explored the haunted house in ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’.

Basically I realized that sometimes you can get too real.

You see, we haven’t got to true photo-realism in gaming yet. We’ve got close, but you’re never going to sit down in front of any game available today and mistake it for live-action. Even when we do get to that point, it’s not going to be a really big deal in this context, because you’re going to be looking at it on a screen.

The screen gives us that safety-buffer. You’re not totally in that world because you’re looking at it through a window. There’s also the added buffer that in most games you’re controlling a character from a third person perspective. In a ‘holodeck game’ there’s no character either, it’s just you.

Sure, every gamer can remember times when a game has made them jump, or played a game that’s been genuinely scary or creepy, but imagine this:

There’s a few parts in Resident Evil 4 where you hear a chainsaw start up and you instantly begin to worry. That sound means a very tough bad guy is about to jump out at you from somewhere, and if he gets too close, he’s going to chainsaw your head right off.

Playing that game alone, in a dark room, is genuinely scary.

Now imagine being in that world. It’s so realistic it’s literally indistinguishable from real life. That same bad guy jumps out at you, only this time he’s not on the other side of a screen…he’s right there. You’re not mashing buttons, you’ve literally got hold of his forearms, desperately trying to push him back while the chainsaw blade roars at you less than an inch away front of your throat. It’s so realistic that you can feel the wind from the chainsaw blade, smell the exhaust and feel the muscles on the bad guy’s forearms straining as he desperately tries to murder you.

That’s not ‘jump in your seat then laugh about it with your friends’…that’s ‘evacuate your bowels and have a heart attack’.

Well, that just sounds silly! You’d know it was just a game, right? It wouldn’t be scary if you knew you weren’t in any real danger! Also, if things get too much, you could do something to just end the game, right?

Well, that’s another problem. Think of it this way. Ever been through a Haunted House at a theme park? You know you’re not in any real danger, you go in knowing that people are going to try to scare you…but it doesn’t stop you squealing like a little girl when something catches you off guard.

Yeah, it’s scary, but it’s also a lot of fun! Surely a scary holodeck game would be the same way, right?

Well, that’s the critical difference. Movies and today’s games are fun because they work on the concept of tension and release. Think about it. What’s the first thing you do when something in a movie makes you jump? You look at the person next to you and smile and laugh. The movie or game builds tension, makes you jump and then, in essence, throws you out of the experience for a quick breather.

The problem with a ‘holodeck game’ is that you wouldn’t get ‘thrown out’ of the experience or be able to release that tension. Something would jump out and scare you, and you can’t laugh and turn to your friend, or even just cover your eyes or hide behind the sofa… because that threat still needs to be dealt with.

In a movie, the bad guy jumps out and you scream and cover your eyes. In a game you jump that think about what buttons on the control pad to press to fight the guy.

In a holodeck game, the guy jumps out…and you don’t cover your eyes or look at a friend and laugh…you don’t even start thinking about what buttons to press. You’ve just got a chainsaw wielding maniac running towards you that has to be dealt with.

As for just ending the game…well, that’s another problem.

How exactly do you end a holodeck game? There’d have to be a code-word or gesture or something, something distinctly out of the ordinary because you wouldn’t want to accidentally end your game every time you scratch your nose or say hello to someone.

So let’s say that I’ve programmed my holodeck to end the game when I say ‘rumplestiltskin’ and clap my hands twice.

Now imagine your worst fear. If I’m playing a game and open a door and suddenly have a few thousand gigantic hairy tarantulas fall on me and start crawling all over me (and remember, this would be as realistic as actual reality)…I’m going to do one of two things. I’m either going to freeze solid through sheer terror…or scream until I blow my throat out.

That’s what it boils down to. Imagine yourself facing your worst fear…when you find yourself suddenly falling into a pit filled with cobras…are you going to have the presence of mind to say ‘Rumplestiltskin’ and clap your hands twice?

Ok, by now a lot of you are thinking “Okay, horror games would be awful, but what about the…you know…good stuff, wink, wink.”

Well, to be honest, that facet of this technology scares me a hundred times more than playing ‘Resident Evil : Holodeck Edition’.

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) said “…The Holodeck will be mankind’s last invention.”…and you know what? Truer words have never been spoken.

Considering that today there are kids dying from spending 40 straight hours playing World of Warcraft because they forgot to take a break for food, water or to use the bathroom… can you imagine what things would be like with Holodeck technology?

Let’s look at an imaginary case study:

Imagine a guy called Bob. Bob is 20 years old. Bob isn’t the best looking guy in the world and lives in a shitty apartment and has a crappy job.

Bob, however, also has his own personal holodeck.

Inside Bob’s holodeck, he’s not a 20 year old guy with a crappy job, crappy apartment and a skin complaint. Instead, he’s got the body of a Greek god, lives in a palatial water-front mansion and has forty or fifty absolutely gorgeous supermodels with zero inhibitions for company.

In this fantasy world, everyone knows Bob and thinks he’s the greatest guy in the world. He can never set a foot wrong, can never make a mistake and can go anywhere and do anything he likes.

Long story short, in real life he’s a spotty loser with no friends or social life. Inside his Holodeck he’s a car-racing, playboy test-pilot rock-star surrounded by women who think he’s a god.

Which begs the question…what possible motivation is there for Bob to ever leave his Holodeck?

Well, at first this sounds stupid. He needs to leave to eat, and he has to work… even if only to pay his power bill for his Holodeck. What about a social life and companionship? Getting ahead? Having a life?

Let’s go through these one-by-one shall we?

Food, Why? Bob doesn’t need to eat good food, he just needs enough to keep himself alive. Something he can wolf down in the five minutes between getting home from work and plugging in for the night. Why spend money on good food when he can live on Ramen Noodles and ‘eat’ steak and lobster whenever he likes inside his holodeck?

Holodeck food may have no nutritional value whatsoever, but it’s free and is always absolutely delicious.

Well, what about

Work? Everyone wants a better job for more money, right?

Not so. After all, what does Bob need extra money for? He can get anything he likes in his Holodeck. A plasma screen TV might cost a couple grand in real life, but in his fantasy world he can create a 300 inch screen with a snap of his fingers. Real world possessions have no meaning to Bob, because the real world is just a place he visits so he can eat and earn enough to pay his power bill. His ‘real’ life is in the Holodeck.


Hardly! Why go to the time and effort to cultivate friendships with real people who’ll never measure up to Bob’s fantasy creations? On his Holodeck, Bob is surrounded by people who don’t judge or argue with him because they all think he’s great, all the time.

Holodeck friends worship Bob and do nothing but tell him how awesome he is. They never need rides to the airport, help moving and never getpissed at him.

Ok, but everyone needs a boyfriend/girlfriend, right?

Nope and nope. A real-life girlfriend has needs and imperfections. Why date that average girl-next-door when he can go home, step into his holodeck and create any woman he wants who will absolutely worship him…and have absolutely no qualms whatsoever with having a threesome with him and Jessica Alba? There’s no messy breakups or divorces either. If he gets bored of one girl, he just swaps her for another. All the fun, none of the work.

Sad, isn’t it?

My point is that Holodeck technology would be like rubbing a lamp and getting a genie that grants unlimited wishes. Who’s going to continue with the struggles of daily life when you can live in a consequence free utopia?

Just something to think about.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

First you gotta speed it up....

Every single person on this planet has at some time or another realized just what an absolute bitch time can be.

If you’ve only got an hour’s free time and a really good book to read, that hour goes by in what feels like minutes.

On the other hand, when you’re sitting in the ER waiting room with a really bad case of strep throat, that same hour feels like it lasts at least a week.

Now, if I know my schoolboy science, unless you’re traveling near the speed of light, time is constant. A minute takes a minute to pass no matter how good or bad of a time you’re having.

This means it has to have something to do with our brains.

The real kicker here is that our perception of time is incredibly effected by our age. Remember when you were seven years old and that six-week summer vacation from school lasted forever? Then do you remember reaching your mid-twenties and feeling like Christmas comes around every month?

Let’s turn that to our advantage!

So here’s the idea. In this day and age when we can take drugs (both prescription and non-prescription) that can fuck with every single one of our senses…why isn’t there a pill that affects our perception of time?

I mean, if I can be depressed and take a prescription pill that makes me feel happy, or be totally wound up and take a pill that makes me feel relaxed…why in the hell can’t I take a pill that can replicate what I like to call the “Theme-Park/Waiting Room effect”?

That’s right, I want two pills. One that makes my brain do whatever it does when time seems to speed up and another that makes my brain do whatever it does that makes time seem to slow down.

Think of the applications!

Crappy job? Take a Paulius-Patented ‘Temporality Caplet’ red pill and that working day will zoom by before you know it. Only get a week’s vacation from that crappy job? Take the blue version and that week feels like two months!

If this pill ever exists, just remember…I came up with the idea first!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Fate farts in my face once again!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working really hard on my webcomic.

To be completely honest, it’s the first thing I’ve done in a loooong while that’s outside my comfort zone, where I’ve actually been really pleased with the results. I honestly expected to draw a few strips and then just shelve them until I learned to draw well enough to get them to match up to my expectations.

Instead they all exceeded my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, no one will look at them and be amazed by the artwork, but they’re a lot better than I thought they’d be.

So yesterday, I decided to ink a few more of them. So I scanned them into photoshop, plugged in my handy graphics pad and…

What the hell?

Turns out my stylus is broken. More precisely, the pressure sensitivity has gone totally haywire. It just can’t decide whether I’m pressing down as hard as I can or not actually touching the pad.

Instead of a nice smooth line with a touch of thin-to-thick I’m getting a long broken line that looks like it was drawn with a dodgy fountain pen being used by someone with a very bad case of the shakes.

Oh well, for a fifty dollar graphics pad that’s given me over four years of perfect and almost constant use I can’t really complain…especially considering a Wacom tablet that’s half the size of mine would actually cost about six times more.

What I can complain about is the difficulty in ordering a replacement stylus.

Turns out that Medion, the company behind my graphics pad, don’t sell spares.

However, it also turns out that Medion isn’t the manufacturer. My Medion Graphics pad is basically a re-badged Trust 1200-V2. Apparently, I can get a replacement stylus from them for ten euros…but they’re not the most helpful bunch in the world.

I sent them an email asking if they sold replacement pens. I got a one sentence reply that said “Yes, we do sell replacements”.

So I emailed them again, asking how to get one because I didn’t see any available to order on their website.

I got a response saying “You can order them from us for ten euros plus shipping”

Yeah, but how?

I emailed again, this time being incredibly specific in what I needed to know…no response.

Ain’t life grand?

Thursday, June 12, 2008


There are certain times in your life when you just have to stop lying to yourself.

You know, the day when you catch your reflection in a store window and realize your 50” waist actually doesn’t mean that you’re just ‘big boned’.

I had a moment like that today. Not about being fat. I’ve known that I’m a ‘bat fastard’ for years. No, my moment was when I finally accepted my true geekdom.

You see, I’ve always liked computers, gaming, science and the usual ‘geek pastimes’…but I’ve never considered myself a real geek. I’m just a normal guy who just happens to like watching Star Trek. The ‘real’ geeks are the ones who’ve never had a girlfriend, own their own Klingon costume and spend their weekends hitting each other with foam swords while ‘larping’.

The something happened today that changed all that.

I’d been watching ‘The Incredibles’ on DVD and decided to watch all the bonus features on the other disc.

There was small 10 minute ‘featurette’ about the voice actor who did Violet’s voice for the movie. I watched it intently, right up to the point she started talking about being excited about finally getting her own action figure.

Then the moment arrived. She tore off the wrapping paper, said “Wooooowwww!” as she saw the action figure and then…

“You stupid bitch!” I heard myself say.

“What?” said Sunny from behind the computer.

“She just took an absolute mint-condition action figure and took it out of the original packaging!”

“And?” asked Sunny, looking bewildered.

“Have you any idea what that does to the value???” I said, my voice filled with indignant self-righteousness. “You know mostly kids are gonna buy those, play with them and destroy them. It’s a PIXAR movie…every movie they make is a huge technological step forward. That thing would quadruple its value in ten years.”

“But maybe she just wants to play with it.” Says Sunny.

“Gahh!” I exclaimed. “Don’t you get it? She’s the voice actor who played Violet…she played Violet! That’s her retirement plan she’s just destroyed!”

“How so?” Said Sunny.

“Well, in her place, I’d get a sharpie, sign the back of the box and make sure to never sign another one. That means in 20 years, not only would I own one of the very few mint condition “Incredibles’ action figures…I’d own the only mint-condition Violet action figure signed by the actor who voiced her. That makes it not only rare, but unique. That’s gotta be worth at least a few grand! In fifty years that would be like owning an original Darth Vader figure signed by James Earl Jones!”

“You’re a geek, you know that?” Said Sunny.

“No I’m not!” I retorted. “I’m just…

Holy shit…

I am!”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's all LIES!

A couple nights ago I was reading on the couch while Sunny was watching TV. She was watching that bloody awful reality show about that lesbian fitness guru. I forget what it’s called.

Bear with me while I google…

Ah, The show is the imaginatively titled ‘Work Out’ with Jackie Warner.

After trying to block it out and failing, I discovered that this show has one, just one, redeeming feature. It shows just what a complete and total scam exercise videos and diets are. I pointed this out to Sunny and she just looked at me with a confused expression on her face.

“How does this prove her exercise video doesn’t work?” She asked.

“I’m glad you asked.” I replied.

Here’s the deal. The episode we were watching was about Jackie Warner making her very first exercise DVD. The first half of the show was basically watching her (literally)run up and down mountains, doing intense eight hours long gym sessions…all the while talking about how difficult it is and how even taking a few weeks break from exercising has made everything a hundred times harder.

Then it switches to her filming for the DVD. What’s the first things she says to the camera?

“All it’s going to take is a commitment of twenty minutes a day, three days a week and you too can have a body like mine!”

This is the point where I called shenanigans. Shenanigans, I say!

You see, all exercise videos are sold on the premise that if you follow the work-out they provide, you too can get a body like the presenter’s. If that’s the case, why did this already fit woman put herself through a couple months of extremely intensive training just to appear in the video?

If what she’s saying is true, couldn’t she have got that same body from just twenty minutes a day?

Ergo, her exercise video is complete and total bullshit…and she showed that is was right on her own show!

Yup, to get that perfect ripped body, all you need to do is work out for twenty minutes a day, three days a week…as long as you also go on an intensive, months long diet and exercise program that will have you in the gym from dawn til dusk.