Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 85: Ninja Turtles Meet Regular Turtles

Yesterday I met my wife after work to grab some dinner before her rehearsals. We ate at a place called Beets Living Food Cafe downtown. It was a little pricey, but it was good. They serve all vegan raw food, which means nothing is cooked. We're not vegan or even vegetarian, but my wife's been eating much healthier lately and I'm up to try anything. The food was tasty but after we finished she still had a couple of hours to kill before she needed to be at rehearsals so we parked at the building where her rehearsals are held and walked through the park next to it. It's a nice park and the weather was cool and overcast, but the best part was the pond with all the turtles.

It may surprise no one that in addition to being a fan of Ninja Turtles I am also a fan of regular turtles. I like to observe them in their natural habitats wherever that may be. My favorite part of the Phoenix Zoo was the bridge before you even get into the zoo. There were tons of turtles in the water under the bridge just hanging out. I would even like to set up a turtle habitat in our backyard some day, when we have a backyard, to rescue turtles. That may sound ridiculous, but if you really want to take care of a turtle it takes a lot more work than people realize. If that clumsy kid hadn't dropped them down the sewer drain into that ooze those turtles probably wouldn't have lasted long in that little fish bowl.

Anyway, I like watching turtles and I thought it would be a funny picture to see the Ninja Turtles face to face with some real turtles. Maybe make them appreciate that ooze after all.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 84: Ninja Turtles: They Live in the Sewers, Yo!

I don't know where this one came from. I just decided to draw what I think of as an iconic image of the Ninja Turtles. I believe this image really started with the marketing from the first movie, but it's so perfect. I just love the shot of a turtle peeking his head out of an open New York City manhole cover. He's a protector of the city, but he's also kind of a monster and this is a little bit of a creepy shot. Either way it really engrained the image of New York City manhole covers in my mind. That's why I was so excited to see them when my wife, brother-in-law and I took a day trip to New York last summer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 83: Leonardo Has the POWER!!!

Last night the wife and I had our big screen debuts! Sort of. We were really in a movie and it was really playing in a legit movie theater (an Alamo Drafthouse no less!). But to be fair it was in a fan film that was really intended to be viewed on the internet or in a home theater setting. Even so it was pretty awesome watching it with so many other people. While some of the people in attendance worked on the movie in some fashion there were quite a few people there who weren't connected with the production in any way. The Alamo staff said it was one of the biggest private release they've ever worked which is pretty awesome. What is this film I keep talking about? That would be Masters of the Universe: Wizard of Stone Mountain!

Our good friend John Carroll is the biggest Masters of the Universe fan I have ever met. I have to be honest, I never watched the show when I was little and I have very little knowledge of the universe built around these characters. When he first started talking about doing this movie I knew He-Man, Skeletor and that's about it. I still don't know much beyond that, but at least I've seen some of the other characters or heard them mentioned. So John decided to write and film a trilogy based in the Masters of the Universe universe and he asked my wife if she would be in it as Princess Adora/She-Ra. Really what that amounts to in the first film is not much more than a few seconds on screen and no lines, but it does promise some more screen time in the later films. So that's pretty awesome for my wife; she likes to act and figured this would be a good experience.

Then I got offered a part.

Let me explain something to everyone. I'm not an actor. I don't like to act, I'm no good at acting and I've never aspired to be an actor. I was not made for any sort of spotlight, even when it comes to music. As much as I enjoy it performing live was never my favorite part of being a musician. Fortune I'll take; fame I have never wanted.

My initial answer when John asked me to be in the movie was, "No. Absolutely not." Then he came back with a promise that I wouldn't have to do any acting. The role would be a bit character with no lines and I would be wearing a mask. I don't like to act, but I am a fan of costumes so I said OK as long as I didn't have to actually do any acting. Ironically once I got the costume on I wasn't able to show any emotion or even turn my head, so it wasn't so much that I refused to act, but that I physically couldn't.

I was playing a Caligar Ambassador. Translation: I was a lizard-man. John told me that he actually had a back story for my character planned out even though I wasn't going to be speaking or doing much of anything. His name was supposed to be Seratis (Ceratis?), pronounced Sarah-tiss, but everyone we were hanging out with at John's house decided we liked the name Lizardo better so I became Seratis Lizardo. I don't know what the actual back story was supposed to be, but it was determined by everyone else that I was a lizard-man that lived under a rock and enjoyed fancy dinner parties where spaghetti is served. I held onto that back story as my motivation for my scene.

The day came for my wife and I to meet the crew on location at a small church in Leander, TX (not far from our apartment, actually). We would be in the same scene so it worked out well. We spent roughly 85,000 hours waiting to be called to set in which time I did a lot of reading and some sleeping on a stage in what I assume was a reception hall for the church. Since I was wearing a mask I didn't need anything done with my hair and my makeup consisted of painting green around my eyes and black around my mouth.

In our scene we were sitting around a table presumably enjoying breakfast with the royal family. I wasn't the only freak in the scene; sitting across from me was Chief Carnivus, a lion-man with awesome makeup. I was supposed to be strictly background due to my aversion to acting and because the mask wasn't quite high quality enough to be prominently displayed in a scene. Unfortunately the room we were shooting in was pretty small and didn't allow for anyone to be in the background, so they sat me at the corner of the table as out of the way as possible.

Apparently sitting at a table with a lizard-man is pretty funny because the other actors could not keep a straight face. Everyone was making fun of my serious expression and the fact that my laughter was only evident by my shaking shoulders. They kept trying to push me further and further into the corner and out of the direct line of the camera and someone made the joke, "Nobody puts Lizardo in the corner." That was the end of shooting for about fifteen minutes while everyone doubled-over laughing and make-up had to be reapplied because of the tears of laughter. We did eventually get the shot and we were free to leave shortly afterward.

So, like I said, last night was the premiere in Austin. Technical issues aside the movie was actually very entertaining. The story was straight forward and didn't take itself too seriously, both of which seem to be common problems with films by first-time filmmakers. The costuming and visual effects were impressive especially considering the means that they were working with. The directors stated before the show that this, being their first real outing into the realm of film, was definitely a learning experience and they are now much more prepared to continue on with the final entries in the trilogy.

In case you're curious I did make it into the movie. There are a couple of moments where the camera doesn't quite hide me behind another character's head in the scene and I was even featured briefly in the outtakes. The most exciting thing about the night was first when I got to stand up with all the other actors even though I didn't really do anything in the movie, and then later when they talked about how funny that scene was and I was asked to stand up again and got my own round of applause. Nothing like getting recognized by a theater full of people for wearing a mask and sitting perfectly still.

Sadly it doesn't look like Seratis Lizardo will be making an appearance in the next two films, but I'm OK with that. I'll just sit on the sidelines and remember my glory days as the emotionless lizard-man.


In other fan film news I keep forgetting to mention it, but the Casey Jones movie that I blogged about a while ago is now up online. You should go check it out cause it's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 82: Raphael Does a One-Handed Hand Stand

There's really no reason behind this picture. I was just thinking of things I could draw and started thinking about all the acrobatic things the turtles can do. Then I started thinking, I bet Raphael can do a one-handed hand stand. So I drew him doing one. That is as deep as this drawing goes into my psyche.

Here's a little behind-the-scenes info on this picture. I turned the paper upside down and drew Raph right-side up, then turned the paper over and voila! he's doing a hand stand.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 81: Irish Car Bombs

This blog title has a double meaning. First, it's a reference to the drink which, while I've never had it because of my alcohol allergy I understand tastes like Disneyland. Second it's a super secret reference to one of my favorite punk bands, Authority Zero. Shaun and I just saw them here in Austin and I had almost forgot how fun their shows are. After the show we hung out for a bit and had a drink with Jason and Jeremy, the singer and bass player respectively. The guys are really nice and seemed pretty excited to see some old fans in attendance. I don't really have a cohesive post about them, but I do have a few minor stories related to the band that I can share.

Authority Zero hails from the Phoenix area. I first remember hearing of them when Shaun and I went to the Phunk Junkeez tenth anniversary shows on one of my Christmas vacation trips back to AZ in December of 2001. I had never heard of Authority Zero at the time, but they're the only band that I can remember seeing during those shows, so I guess that says something. I specifically remember being struck by the song "Sky's the Limit."

A few years later when I was a little better acquainted with their music I received a bass from my parents for Christmas. I never took any lessons, I was just motivated to teach myself. At that time in high school I was listening to a lot of punk and ska music. The bass lines I loved to learn more than anything were written by Royce Nunley of The Suicide Machines and Jeremy Wood of Authority Zero. In my senior year we were required to do a research paper that had to include an interview related to your subject. I decided to do my paper on the roll of bass in music, specifically bass guitar in rock music. For my interview I contacted Jeremy and he was nice enough to answer my questions via e-mail. During the speech part of my senior research paper I brought my own bass in and played along with about a minute of an Authority Zero song called "Over Seasons." It was partly to kill some time during my speech, but it was also a great example of how important a good bass line is.

In, I believe, 2002 or 2003 Authority Zero supported Sum 41 on tour and I got to meet Jeremy face to face. He was super nice and took me to their bus to play some bass. It was a very cool experience and I actually did learn a lot about playing his style in that short amount of time.

Once, while I was living in Phoenix but visiting Austin with my wife Authority Zero happened to be playing a show here. We went to the venue and I talked to Jeremy a little before the show. He asked me if I wanted to play a song with them. I told him I knew "Sky's the Limit" the best, but he said that was kind of a special one for them to play so I told him that was alright, I didn't need to play a song. During the show right before they started "Sky's the Limit" he called me up on stage to play it anyway. It was a little tricky, especially because Jeremy is quite a bit taller than me and he has his bass set at a lower level than I do. I felt like it was hanging past my knees, but I did alright to keep up with the rest of the band.

Some time later, back in AZ, we went to see them play a "secret show." They used to play under fake names in Phoenix a lot just for fun. People always knew who they were and the shows were always packed. That particular night they were playing under one of their favorite fake names, The Irish Car Bombs (see, I told you it was a reference to the band). I talked to Jeremy before the show and he told me to come to the side of the stage during a certain song so I could jump up and play "Sky's the Limit" again. This was a much different experience than playing in a tiny bar in Austin in front of about 70 people. I had a great time and I actually got recognized a few days later at work by someone who was at the show. It was a little weird actually.

That's probably enough Authority Zero related stories for one post. I'll just leave you with some music. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 80: Michelangelo Plays an Awesome Arcade Game

Remember that awesome FantasticFest arcade I was going to post about, but then I posted about Journey instead? Well, I went back there for a panel and all the games were still set up! I guess I wasn't paying much attention to the website and thought that only a small amount of the more "indy" games were remaining through the weekend, but I was wrong, dead wrong.

The reason I went back in the first place was to attend a panel about story telling in video games and film. It was mostly about story telling in video games, but they used methods of story telling in film as a contrasting view. It was actually very interesting when it wasn't completely hilarious and absurd. The panel was made up of the writer and two other creative team members from LightBox Interactive (Warhawk, Starhawk) and two Spanish film makers. It was really interesting learning about the unique challenges in developing a story in a video game, but probably my favorite part was when one of the film makes went on a rant about not liking Angry Birds because they're too angry and comparing them to Palestinian suicide bombers and terrorists. It sounds mildly offensive and it probably was, but it was also hilarious.

Afterward I got to play a few games I didn't get to the first time around at the arcade and by the time I left I felt that I definitely got my money's worth out of the free event. Man, I love Austin.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 79: Donatello Walks Master Samwise

My wife ran a 5k this morning for the Williamson County Humane Society. She did it in around 35 minutes which is pretty good, but she's got normal human sized legs, so whatever. The real story here is our dog, Master Samwise the Brave. With his impressive 6 inch stride he walked (and even ran some of) a mile with a billion other dogs.

To be honest this isn't really all that amazing. He's very short, but he likes to go for walks and he's no stranger to walking several miles at a time. He's a herding dog, they're built to work long hours, people just assume he can't go very far because his legs are so short. I was more impressed by how well he behaved around all the other dogs and people. After we adopted him from the Humane Society two years ago we learned that he had some pretty serious fear and fear aggression issues. He was scared of everything and if he feels backed into a corner he'll attack. It's made us pretty nervous dog owners in some situations, but over the last two years he's improved leaps and bounds.

He's normally pretty well behaved for us, but around other dogs he can get really excitable and sometimes around people he doesn't know, especially with children, he becomes scared and anxious. We were a little concerned with how he would deal with all the new people and dogs at the 5k, but it's something he needs to be exposed to to help him get over his fears and I was keeping a close eye on him. Once he moved past his initial excitement and nervousness he did really well. During and after the walk he tended to mostly ignore the other dogs and he enjoyed getting pet by anyone who would offer. He did so well that I gave him one of the medals they were handing out but he didn't really seem to care.

Day 78: The Ninja Phantom of the Opera

I started reading The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux last week. I'm running low on books in our house that I haven't read and we got it a while ago as part of a classic horror pack with Frankenstein and Dracula, both of which I read years ago. I figured it's getting close to Halloween so it seemed an appropriate.

It's an interesting story. I've seen the 2004 film and I vaguely remembered the story before reading it. The book is not nearly as dramatic as the musical. It's presented as kind of a report of events surrounding the phantom after-the-fact. The author claims to have put together eye witness accounts and police reports to draw the conclusions surrounding the Opera Ghost. It's an interesting way to approach a story I sort of already know, but I find that that combined with his writing style (or maybe the style of the time) tends to draw out some of the slower parts and skip through some of the more exciting moments making the story less intense overall.

I also downloaded the movie soundtrack to listen to as a soundtrack to the book. Most of the main plot points are the same and the music in general is awesome. I love the main theme. It's very dark and powerful; pretty much perfect for the character of the Phantom.

I've only got about 90 pages left so I guess I'll have to look for something else to read for Halloween. Maybe I'll look for an H.P. Lovecraft collection. I've never read anything by him and I've always wanted to. I guess if I do you can expect a Cthulhu/TMNT crossover drawing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 77: Journey

Today I went to an awesome PlayStation party at the Highball to kick off FantasticFest. I was planning on writing a blog about the party and all the awesome games I played, but I was so impressed with one specific game that I decided to do my post about that game specifically: Journey.

Journey is the new PlayStation Network downloadable title (available sometime in the near future) by ThatGameCompany. I loved Flower, one of ThatGameCompany's pervious releases, and I'd read a few things about Journey that made me really interested to play it. Journey was the main reason I wanted to go to the PlayStation party in the first place. When I got into the Highball I found four TVs set up to demo the game. It didn't take long before one of them was available and I sat down to try it out. A woman named Robin introduced herself and talked to me for a minute about the game and the development team before she handed me the PS3 headset and controller.

I was immediately sucked into the world of Journey where you play as an armless be-scarfed character. The first thing I thought of was a Jawa because of the hooded, black face with glowing eyes, but your character is taller and infinitely more graceful than any Jawa. You move smoothly over sand that flows like water towards a mountain in the distance. Along the way you are given very little instruction on the controls and no instruction on how to accomplish your goal or even what your immediate goal is, but that's part of the charm of the game; It's all about the experience of discovering the world on your own.

Eventually you meet another person, another real person, playing the game somewhere else, but no words are ever exchanged. The only communication that occurs between you is the movement of your characters or your songs. Pressing Circle causes your character to sing a note, hold it longer for a more powerful burst of music that can activate things around the world or recharge your companion's scarf. I found myself using short songs to communicate my thanks or encouragement to the person I was playing with. I don't know why, but I got the impression that the person I was playing with was female. I wonder who they imagined they were playing with?

Over the twenty or so minutes that the demo lasted I became completely absorbed in the desert world around me. The closest experience I can relate it to is the way I felt playing Shadow of the Colossus. The open, mostly lonely world and the lack of any sort of narrative or explanation left me to fill in the blanks myself. It's an intensely personal and emotional experience, at least for me, and difficult to describe. I love the idea of a game evoking so much emotion with such a minimal amount of guidance. It's a bit like listening to an instrumental piece of music. It can make you feel a certain way without lyrics to describe what the song is about. To me Journey evoked feelings of sadness, but also hope in the accomplishments of myself and my nameless companion. I know I had a big stupid grin on my face while playing the demo, but as it ended I found myself a little misty eyed over the experience.

I love video games and a good story is always important. I love the Uncharted series, Dragon Age and inFamous because of the acting and story lines, but it's games like Journey that I can totally immerse myself in. Even just playing the demo I instantly forgot about everything that I had been stressed about during the day and just enjoyed the experience. It's hard to overstate how excited I am for this game to come out so I can delve back into the mysterious landscape and meet another nameless adventurer.

Day 76: The (Turtle) Gang Kicks Ass at It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Trivia *UPDATED*

I had to change the title of this post. It was originally titled "The (Turtle) Gang Loses at It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia Trivia." I wrote the first part of this post before we went to the trivia contest and the last part after we got home.

So today is a big day for us--us being me, my wife and our friend Shaun. Today is the Geeks Who Drink It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Pub Trivia Challange, hosted by our very own good friends John Smith and James Pound. Why are we so excited, you ask? Well, stupid, because It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of our favorite TV shows and we're going to kick ass! (I hope)

About a year ago I had to go to Singapore for a month for my job. Singapore's not a big place and I figured during that month I would probably have some down time so I downloaded all five seasons of It's Always Sunny that were out at the time. I had a few friends who highly recommended it and I figured this would be a good time to give it a shot. Once I started it I couldn't stop. I watched all 55 or so episodes in about a week and as soon as I got home I watched it all over again with my wife. Since then we've become huge fans and are constantly quoting or referencing the show. We even went so far as to make shirts for everyone going on the trip we planned last year to watch the shuttle launch identifying our roles in the "the gang." I'm The Brains, Shaun is the Wildcard, our friend Ricky is The Looks, our friend Josh is The Muscle and my wife is The Useless Chick. We filmed quite a bit of our trip and my wife did an amazing job editing it into something far more enjoyable than your standard vacation footage, but my favorite part? She did a cold intro (starting with a title card of the time and day) that lead into a parody of the Always Sunny title sequence complete with title card (The Gang Goes to a Shuttle Launch), landmark footage shot while driving and set to "Temptation Sensation" by Heinz Kiessling. It turned out almost too perfect.

Anyway, as I write this we're just a few hours away from trivia time at The Highball. We still don't have a team name, but we have been studying our asses off. We watched the entire series again (my wife only missed about 5 episodes of season 6 due to rehearsals) and I even tried making it through season 6 one more time and during each episode we recited the names of the landmarks shown in the opening credits (though my wife turned it into a game of how ridiculously she could twist up the landmark names). I read through the show's wikipedia and imdb pages as well as the main character's wiki and imdb pages. We even took some quizzes on Sporcle and I've been doing quite well at those. The only thing I didn't get to do that would have been good was to watch the DVD episodes with commentary and the Nightman Cometh live performance.

A few months ago we tried to go to the Arrested Development Geeks Who Drink pub trivia, but it was already full. I wish we had done it if only to have a clue as to what kinds of questions they might ask tonight, but we're going in blind. The wife and I did the Lost Geeks Who Drink pub trivia back when the series ended and it was a lot of random stuff, so even though I feel confident that I know the show I'm not totally confident I'll be prepared for the questions they're going to ask. I guess we'll know in a few hours.


Well, we just got home from the trivia contest. Saying we killed it might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I will say that we led the entire game and we won by 2 points. The questions were all about the show's plot lines and characters and there were surprisingly quite a few questions about things that we had made a specific point to remember

Our team consisted of me, my wife, Shaun and our friend Mandy, who's never seen an episode and just joined us for fun. We settled on the name "We Eat Stickers All the Time, Dude" about ten minutes before the quiz. We all had studied so well for it that I really feel if we had split into our own teams we would have easily held the top three spots. I know it's just a stupid pub trivia competition, but I have to say that I am honestly really proud of how well we did. I'm not much of a competitive person normally but this quiz definitely brought out that part in me. I was informed by Mr. John Smith that we were 3 questions (4 points) away from a perfect game and according to the official Geeks Who Drink blogs we tied one other team for most points at any of the quiz locations. I believe that officially makes us three of the most knowledgeable fans of the series in the nation.

We ended up walking away with $205 to split between us.

I think we're gonna buy a P. Diddy shrimping boat with it.

 Geeks Who Drink Blog


Bad news. I guess not all the bars that were hosting the trivia had posted scores when I checked this morning. Another team from San Antonio had a score of 86, but I'm still damn proud of our performance. ALMOST WORLD CHAMPS, BITCHES!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 75: Michelangelo Dreams

Today I'm taking a bit of a creative break and returning to another running theme that I started waaaaay back when. I'm examining what I imagine Michelangelo might dream about. I'll be honest, Michelangelo was never my favorite turtle. In fact he probably comes dead last on my turtle rankings, but it's not because I don't like him; he just always seemed pretty one-dimensional and single-minded. I know that probably sounds ridiculous if you stop to think about the fact that I'm talking about cartoon turtles, but even so I have my opinions on the personalities of each.

With that in mind I had a difficult time thinking about what Mikey might dream about. I thought about a giant pizza with all of his favorite toppings (marshmallows, gummi bears, sprinkles, etc..) or about him winning some extreme sports competition like an X-Games Gold medal or something. In the end I decided on something a bit more personal. I think if you treat the story of the turtles seriously (as I obviously do) all four of them must have real goals, dreams and aspirations like any normal person. So I tried to imagine what Michelangelo's might be. Maybe deep down he's really depressed or scared and he uses his sense of humor as a defense mechanism. Or maybe I'm just thinking too hard about this one. Looks like I didn't really get my creativity break after all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 74: Prancing Donatello (meme # 4)

The last meme on the list is a parody of the Prancing Cera meme. That's it for this round of meme-themed pics.

Click here to view meme #1
Click here to view meme #2
Click here to view meme #3

Day 73: Artists Rendering of My ACL Experience

I drew this at around 11:30pm after getting home from the last day of ACL. This is pretty much how I was feeling at that point. The festival was awesome and we had a great time, but it was exhausting. I won't go into a full retelling of all three days, but I will post a few highlights.

Here are all the acts we watched at least a little bit of:

  • Delta Spirit
  • Big Boi (from Outkast)
  • Bright Eyes
  • Sara Bareilles
  • Kanye West
  • The Warrior Gospel Band
  • The Antlers
  • Young the Giant
  • City and Colour
  • Iron & Wine
  • Skrillex
  • Cee Lo Green
  • Stevie Wonder
  • MilkDrive
  • WAX
  • Mariachi El Bronx
  • The Head and the Heart
  • Death From Above 1979
  • Fleet Foxes
  • Arcade Fire
First I have to mention that my flag was hugely popular. All day long I constantly got compliments on it and people approached me asking for pictures. It was pretty awesome and it made me feel pretty proud of my flag.

The first day was pretty nice as far as the weather was concerned. It rained on us walking in and stayed pretty cool and cloudy all day. The highlight of the first day (and of the whole festival as far as I'm concenred) was Bright Eyes. We've seen Connor Oberst perform probably five or six times now and I was kind of telling myself I wasn't all that excited because I've seen him so many times, but as soon as the show started I got sucked into it energy of it. Bright Eyes is always a good show and this was no different. Later that night we chose to watch Kanye West over Coldplay and I'm glad we did. Whether you like his music or not Kanye is definitely a showman.

The second day rained pretty heavily for a little bit, and then continued to drizzle for a few hours. The weather was nice and cool again and we got to see a lot of great sets. Cee Lo Green was pretty entertaining, but the highlight of day two was definitely Stevie Wonder's two hour set. I'm not a big Stevie Wonder fan, but you can't help but dance and sing along when he's on stage.

Day three was hot. Maybe not as hot as it has been in past years, but compared to the first two days it was terrible. We started the day with an awesome punk/mariachi band from LA and then watched a bit of The Head and the Heart before deciding to go relax at one of our favorite restaurants, Shady Grove. My brother, my wife and I walked down and enjoyed some nachos and air conditioning. After we went back to festival the wife and I laid out our blanket in the covered sand pit and took a bit of a nap. When we woke up we watched Death From Above 1979 which was maybe the only legitimate heavy rock band at the festival. We watched a few songs and then headed over to watch Fleet Foxes and then made our way through the crowd to get a good spot for Arcade Fire. I like Arcade Fire, but wasn't particularly excited for them. My wife on the other hand has been looking forward to seeing them for months. They put on an excellent show and it was a lot of fun to be in the crowd for.

After all three days we were all feeling pretty run down, but it was a lot of fun and I'd go every year if I could.

Day 72: Donatello at the Austin City Limits Festival

I drew this picture the morning before the second day of ACL. We were rushing to get ready and leave for the day so I didn't have time to put a whole lot of effort into this one.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 71: Donatello Makes a Flag

Here it is, my secret project that I've been neglecting posting updates to work on.

Now, you may be wondering why I would be so inclined as to spend my time and money making a Donatello flag? To that I say, "Why wouldn't I?" But there is a reason I decided to make one this week. For the next three days the wife and I (along with some other friends) will be attending the Austin City Limits Music Festival. It's one of the biggest organized events held in this city every year and this year we're going.

This will be our second time at the festival, our first being three years ago. On the first day of the festival almost immediately we noticed all of the flags people had. At first it didn't really make sense to us, and even when our friends explained that the flags make finding your friends easier we thought, "That's stupid, we have cell phones, just call or text." After a day of texting, "We're by that one merch booth with the guy in the black T-shirt," or not being able to get through at all because of overloaded circuits we began to understand the importance of having a flag if you're with a group of people. So after an exhausting first day we made a Team Zissou flag using materials we had at the house and held it together with Stitch Witchery. It served us well for the next two days and now hangs in a place of honor in our apartment.

This year we had time to plan and we wanted to make our flag memorable. We discussed several design ideas, the focus being to keep it simple but recognizable. It may seem like the natural choice to do a TMNT flag, but the Donatello design only barely beat out the Ghostbusters flag idea. While we collaborated on the concept I actually made the flag myself because my wife has been so busy with rehearsals lately, plus I enjoy sewing and creating something so awesome out of nothing. It may not look too complicated, but I sewed the entire thing by hand. I could have used my wife's sewing machine and done it in way less time, but I don't know how to use it and I prefer hand sewing when I can; it makes me feel like I've put more effort into the creation. It took me somewhere between 9.5 and 11 hours over three days as near as I can figure.

Here are a few pictures I took along the way so you can see the process. For reference the flag itself is roughly 48" x 31" and the Ninja Turtle head is about 21" tall. The first image is the plain flag with the pattern laid on top for spacing. I created the pattern by taking a picture of my pajama pants with my wife's nice camera and then blowing it up, printing it out on 9 sheets of paper, then cutting and taping it together. The second picture is with just the green face backing finished. The Last picture is the completed product after assembling the mask/eyes and mouth and then attaching them to the flag.

 I won't be posting anything for the next couple of days since we'll be at the festival, but I'll get back to it soon enough and I'll wrap up my meme-parade with one more celebrity meme inspired picture.

Day 70: Michelangelo Yo Dawg (TMNT meme # 3)

Number three on my TMNT meme parade is Michelangelo as Xzibit.

Unfortunately I'm going to have to wait on my last TMNT meme picture, but the good news is tomorrow you get a post about my secret project I've been working on. So look forward to that.

Click here for meme #1
Click here for meme #2

Day 69: Strutting Leonardo (TMNT meme # 2)

Next up in my meme-themed parade is Strutting Leo. This one should be pretty self-explanatory.

Click here for meme #1

Day 68: Sad Raphael (TMNT meme # 1)

I know I'm already behind with the posts (as usual it seems) but the next few posts will be kind of light. Don't expect anything longer than a few sentences and the pictures will probably be pretty sparse. I'm working on a project that will (hopefully) be amazing and I need to finish in the next two days. Time is pretty short, but I feel like I can get it done. I'll definitely we posting a blog on my project assuming it turns out alright. If not I'll probably never mention it again and you will forever wonder what I was talking about.

For today's picture I draw a TMNT version of an internet meme. Actually, I think I'll make this a running project. All the turtles will get their own memes. Today is Raphael doing his best "Sad Keanu" impersonation.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 67: Michelangelo Hitchhikes

OK, I know, I've already done a hitchhiking picture, but this is different. This is a picture of Michelangelo actually hitchhiking on a road like a normal (or possibly mentally disturbed) human being. The inspiration for this picture comes from the book I'm currently reading, Naked by David Sedaris.

David Sedaris, for the uninitiated, is famous for his witty, often bittersweet and largely hilarious autobiographical stories. We own several other Sedaris books and they're always entertaining. Naked is one of his older books, but we just bought it earlier this year when we went to see him do a reading in Austin. I've seen him do talk show appearances, but this was the first time I saw him in person. The actual reading was hardly an intimate setting. It was held in the Long Center, a massive auditorium built just a few years ago in downtown Austin. It's a beautiful modern venue usually reserved for things like operas or touring Broadway performances.

During the reading Mr. Sedaris read a collection of older, unpublished essays as well as some that he was currently editing for publication. One of my favorite stories he read was a diary entry that he was fleshing out to possibly print someday. He has the ability to take what might be considered a fairly mundane occurrence in his life, like getting a cup of coffee, and turn it into an anecdote you would gladly pay to hear about. This is amazing to me because I often have difficulties turning an interesting story into something people will tolerate listening to for free.

We got to the reading early enough to get in line for the book signing he was doing in the green room of the theater. As the show's start time approached we were given a number and told to come back after the reading and we would be let in to see David before the people without a number. This seemed pretty straightforward to me so we went happily to our seats.

Once the reading ended we made our way quickly back down to the green room where there was already a long line of people forming. One of the ushers told us to get at the end of a much shorter line to the side which was designated for people with numbers from earlier. The line moved quickly despite the loud grumblings of the people who didn't have numbers and didn't understand why they were being made to wait. Our time in line was also made more entertaining by people (usually older people) arguing with the usher that they have number 6, why are they behind people with the number 20? Unable to understand the difficulties of re-sorting a line of patrons in a hallway roughly 3 feet wide every time some entitled asshole decides to show up twenty minutes after everyone else and also apparently unaware of the term "first-come, first-served" these people usually left in a huff lest anyone be confused about their feelings regarding the unsatisfactory line situation.

After a brief wait we were ushered into a room where Mr. Sedaris was sitting behind a table eating what appeared to be a very delicious salad next to a stack of his newest book and another book full of animal photographs. I had to admit I felt bad bothering him while he was eating, but I thought it very nice that he would agree to spend so much time signing books before and after his reading even though most of those people would have paid to see him without the promise of an autograph. The reason for the animal book, we found out, is that he's taken to drawing pictures of animals in his books when he autographs them. I didn't ever see him ask what animal a person would prefer. Instead he just seemed to draw one at random, rarely referencing his source material. In the line ushers had written down the names we wanted our autographs addressed to on post-it notes and stuck them in our books. He laughed when he saw that ours said "Wes & Em" asking if it was a joke, because it sounds like S&M. We assured him we were serious and that our names were Wesley and Emily. He then drew an elephant beneath his signature while he chatted to us for a minute or two and then we left him to face the rest of the long line of impatient fans.

David Sedaris was born in the late 50's and in the book Naked he writes several stories revolving around hitchhiking. Hitchhiking has become extremely dangerous in recent decades and has gone out of style because of it. Being born in the 80's I can't really imagine using that as a viable means of transportation and reading his stories about it doesn't make me feel any better. I was inspired to draw this picture by these stories about a part of American culture that I've never personally experienced and isn't really seen much anymore.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 66: The Turtles Play a Little Football

Today was the first Sunday of the 2011-2012 NFL season. I can't say that I'm excited about it. I like football alright, but I've never been crazy about it and I've never had a favorite team. My wife, on the other hand, loves football and she's a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. This sometimes causes problems among our other friends. I'd love for everyone's teams to win every week, but since that obviously can't happen I would just be happy if the Steelers went undefeated to win the Super Bowl every season.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 65: The Turtles Go to the Moon and Find a Dead Russian

We saw Apollo 18 today. The basic premise is that there was one more secret mission to the moon after Apollo 17, the last official moon mission. These three astronauts are sent to the Moon to set up transmitters and recording devices only to discover a dead cosmonaut and an abandoned Russian landing craft. It would appear that the astronauts are not alone.

You might recall that the wife and I are pretty big space exploration fans, so we were pretty excited to see this movie. Honestly I don't think either of us expected it to be super scary, but we were curious to see a horror film set in a "science-fact" situation. I felt like they accurately captured the feel of the 70's era astronauts and space program. It wasn't as technical a movie as, say, Apollo 13 and there wasn't much footage of them in micro-gravity, but they did a good job giving it the feeling of being in space and walking on the moon. Overall the movie was entertaining, especially if you're a fan of the Blair Witch style films and I think the idea was a pretty bold one.

My drawing is of the Ninja Turtles as the main roles in the movie. Leonardo takes the role of the mission commander since he is the leader of the Turtles. Donatello is number two because you always need a scientist on a mission to the moon. Michelangelo is piloting the capsule in orbit around the moon and Raphael is the dead cosmonaut they come across. I mean no disrespect to Raph, but he wears red so he's always going to play the Russian in my drawings.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 64: The Turtles Help Zombie mc chris Reunite With His Soul

Race Wars came out last week. To all you uncool people that's the newest mc chris album. The title is meant to suggest people in cars battling it out in an apocalyptic setting, not different races of people battling it out in a racist setting. It's a pretty awesome album and I highly recommend it. I'm especially excited because I'll be going to see mc chris at Emo's in Austin on October 4th. I've seen mc chris probably 6 or 7 times now and I look forward to his shows every time he comes to town.

If you're still not sure who I'm talking about here's a little summary. I discovered mc chris through [adult swim] on Cartoon Network back when it was still new and awesome. He worked on animation for several shows and voiced several characters including Hesh on Sealab 2021 and MC Pee Pants/Sir Loin/Little Brittle in Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I was recording a cover of the Sealab 2021 theme song for fun and I came across the song "Fett's Vette" while I was searching for sound clips. I was hooked and I downloaded everything I could find.

It wasn't until several years later when we moved to Austin that my wife and I got to see mc chris live. It was an awesome show and only solidified my fandom. Over the years we continued to see him whenever he came to Austin and even built up a small relationship. He started to recognize us which was cool and he was always nice to his fans. Remember in that one blog how I talked about bringing gifts to celebrities? It kind of started with mc chris. We sometimes bring him snacks and drinks and stuff for the road just because we enjoy the show so much we like to give a little something back. Once I made him an mc chris Guitar Hero controller. He eventually auctioned it off on ebay to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis and it brought in over $200 which is insane to me.

Speaking of raising money for Cystic Fibrosis, that's another randomly awesome thing he does. A few years ago his nephew was born with CF and ever since then he's been raising money like crazy to fund research for a cure. He regularly auctions off toys and collectibles he has sitting around his place and he has a donation bucket at every show. To date he's raised over $100,000 total.

So anyway, mc chris is awesome and I'm a fan of his raps, but what does that have to do with this picture specifically? Well, along with being a rapper mc chris is also a bit of a comedian. His CDs are sprinkled with skits (mostly featuring the hilarious John Gemberling) that, when put together, form a totally plausible and highly dramatic narrative. I'll do my best to summarize the story based on the skits (even though it's recounted somewhat out of order of the albums at the end of Race Wars). If you're an mc chris super-fan and I've made a mistake somewhere don't hesitate to correct me.

In Dungeon Master of Ceremonies mc chris' asshole agent, Mr. Chandler (played by John Gemberling), sends him to the red carpet where he shows up drunk, high and extremely volatile. In an excellent nod to a Reggie and the Full Effect skit Mr. Chandler hires two hit men to kill mc chris. mc chris' soul is transported to heaven where he meets Jesus (played by John Gemberling) and is promptly kicked out. In mc chris is Dead he comes back as a zombie and starts the zombie apocalypse, even turning his old agent into a zombie. At the end of the album zombie mc chris meets up with the Rebellion Podcast, another long running mc chris skit about a bunch of guys who podcast on various topics related to the albums. When they ask what caused the zombie apocalypse mc chris' best guess is magic, so one of the members decides if magic exists then he also can perform magic. He uses his newfound abilities to send mc chris to Hell. Once in Hell he meets Virgil (played by Matt Besser) who tortures him with his ancient raps. Over the next three EPs (Part Six, Parts 1, 2 & 3) mc chris meets Mr. Killian (also voiced by John Gemberling) in Hell who signs him up for Hell's #1 game show, GTFO. If mc chris wins he will be sent back to Earth, either as himself or as a ghost with a robot butler like in Rocky 2 except the robot won't acknowledge his presence. After a series of challenges and The Running Man style hunter battles an old friend of mc chris' reveals that he was sent to hell by magic, not because he was a bad person, and gives him a Kindle pre-loaded with a magic tome containing the spell to send him back to Earth. mc chris eventually finishes the game, winning his prize and finding out in the process that Mr. Killian and Mr. Killian's secretary are actually his parents and he's about to witness his own birth because he's actually in a past version of Hell. At the end of Race Wars zombie mc chris meets with Mr. Chandler again who is also still a zombie and still doesn't like his music. He tells mc chris that he's had reports of a ghost with a robot haunting a lighthouse on a hill and that he thinks it's mc chris' ghost. If zombie mc chris can reunite his body with his ghost/soul he can be returned to normal.

Got all that? So, in my picture the Ninja Turtles are helping zombie mc chris meet up with his soul because they're nice guys and because I'm pretty sure Ninja Turtles aren't susceptible to the zombie virus.

To close up here's the opening song from mc chris' new album, Race Wars.

Day 63: Raphael is Dexter

I was kind of at a loss for what to draw today so I reimagined a promo image I saw the other day for Dexter season 6. I figured if any of the turtles were likely to be a serial killer it would be Raph. If you've never seen Dexter I highly recommend it. It's coming back in just a few weeks and I'm very excited for it to start.

Day 62: Donatello Give Master Samwise a Bath

Just to be clear Master Samwise is my dog's name. Master Samwise the Brave to be exact. It's a name that turned out to be quite ironic, but it's his name nonetheless. I drew Donatello giving him a bath because, given the choice, I would be Donatello, and my dog needs a bath because he stinks. Maybe I'll do it today, or maybe tomorrow while my wife is at rehearsals. We'll see. Sam handles baths pretty well. He usually gets excited about them because he knows he gets treats if he's good, but while he's in the water he just kind of tolerates it. He might occasional act like he's going to climb out, but he'd never actually do it. He's a corgi; he only stands 12 inches high or so. He can't even see over the side of the tub.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 61: The Turtles Fight a Fire

This picture is a little ridiculous, like all of my pictures, but it was inspired by a pretty serious subject. Central Texas has been in extreme drought conditions all year and recently we've had wildfires popping up left and right. Last week a massive fire started between Bastrop and Smithville that has so far covered about 45 square miles and destroyed somewhere between 600 to 1000 homes. I have a lot of family that lives in that area and they've all been evacuated. They still aren't sure if their homes are still standing.

Monday another fire started North of Austin in a neighborhood. It was close enough to my mom's house that ash was raining down into her backyard. Several other fires have been reported around the area and while I was drawing this picture an apartment building a few miles from where I live caught fire. Luckily that was a small fire and easily contained, but this whole situation is out of control. You can constantly see a haze all around the city. I told my wife when we were driving back from the store on Monday that it looked like we were living on Mars because of the red sky caused by all the smoke.

Hopefully the fires will be contained and stopped, but they're afraid the massive Bastrop area fire will get worse before it gets better.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 60: Michelangelo Doesn't Do Shit

This is what me and the wife did yesterday. We watched TV like all day. We're studying for an "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" Pub Quiz so we're going through the series again. If you've never seen it I highly suggest it.

Day 59: The Turtles Beat the Hell Out of the Guy That Stole Our Stuff

 So, big day today. Let's start from the beginning.

First, the hotel room was awesome except for one thing: the shower. The shower was pretty much the worst shower I've ever used. It was an ADA room which I only recently discovered means it complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That's actually a pretty good thing for non-disabled persons like my wife and myself. The room is spacious (lots of room to accommodate wheelchairs) and there was a nice, big jacuzzi tub. The shower was one of the ones where you can detach the nozzle from the mount. I'm a fan of these because they're so versatile and they usually have awesome water pressure. I had one in my apartment in Singapore and it was awesome. This particular shower was decidedly not awesome, however.

Apparently this room only came with one shower temperature setting because no matter how far to the cool side we turned the nob the water was only barely cool enough to not completely strip our flesh from our bones. Eventually we did find a somewhat comfortable setting, the only problem then was that the water dribbled out so slowly that it was almost not enough to rinse soap off of skin, not to mention shampoo out of hair. I usually look forward to hotel showers, but I couldn't wait to get back to our crappy apartment shower after this morning.

After we got dressed and packed the woman at the front desk was nice enough to suggest, and even print-out a menu for, a delicious breakfast place on the Riverwalk. We started walking down there, but we stopped short because right out in front of the Alamo there was a festival/demonstration of some sort going on. We found out it was for the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, but that's not important. What is important is what we saw there.

That's right. That is a giant turtle dressed like some sort of Texas Ranger or something. Apparently San Antonio does not recognize the superior crime-fighting abilities of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and went with a more generic knock-off. It doesn't matter, I couldn't resist getting a picture.

After a delicious breakfast at a super crowded Riverwalk restaurant we got in the car and drove to Six Flags: Fiesta Texas!

I'm a big fan of amusement parks and roller coasters. I don't remember a time when I was scared of riding them or when they made me feel sick. As far as I can remember I've always loved them. I've got some family in San Antonio so I've been going to Fiesta Texas since before it was a Six Flags park.

We got to the park and it was not really crowded at all, which was shocking for a Saturday during a holiday weekend. We packed our towels, flip flops, sun screen, hand sanitizer, my wallet, phone and car keys in a back pack and headed into the park. The backpack was one that my wife earned a few years ago for raising over $1000 for a LiveStrong 5k she did. The backpack is important, so remember it.

We rode the newest rollercoast, the Goliath, first. It was so crazy fast that it was hard to even process what was going on, but it was a lot of fun. The cars sit four people wide and we rode next to a gay couple. They were singing "Hey, Jude" and my wife got a big response when she jumped in with the ending "JUDY, JUDY, JUDY, JUDY, JUDY, JUDY!"

We spent the next few hours riding some of our favorite rides and spending $31 on two extremely subpar "Johnny Rockets" burgers. Johnny Rockets, if you've never had it, is actually really good, but I guess the Six Flags version was striving to meet the level of normal amusement park food. Speaking of amusement park food, you know who has the best? The Kennedy Space Center. Their burgers were amazing and me and the wife ate for like $15. NASA has it figured out, but that's pretty obvious based on the fact that they can put people into space.

Anyway, we decided around 3pm or so to head to the water park where we would get a locker to keep our stuff in and cool down on some water rides. On the way we saw the Bugs Bunny log ride. Neither of us ever remembered riding it and since we were already in our swim suits we decided to just put our flip flops on and ride it before we went to the water park.

The log/cars don't stop, they just move past slowly and you have to jump in before it leaves. It probably takes 30 seconds from the time the let you on until it's too late to get in the log. I jumped across to the exit and set our backpack down where all the other bags were just like we'd been doing all day and just like I've done every time I've gone to any amusement park. As I turned to get in the log I remembered I had our camera in my pocket so I took it out and threw it on the ground behind the backpack and jumped back in the boat. My wife started getting worried that someone would steal the camera because it wasn't in the bag. I assured her the camera would be fine and we proceeded to enjoy the ride.

We got back to the loading area and I was right, the camera was right where I had left it, unfortunately our backpack was gone. One small piece of luck was that I had taken the cash and my debit card out of my wallet and put it in my pocket so I wouldn't have to keep getting into the backpack, so at least we had money, we just didn't have a cell phone, car keys, towels or our shoes.

I asked the attendant and of course he didn't know anything because they can't watch everything that gets left. We looked around the exit and didn't find anything. We hoped it was just a mistake and went up to lost and found, filled out a stolen report just in case and I used their phone to call my cell phone hoping whoever had it would hear it and realize they grabbed the wrong bag, all to no avail.

We decided to call a car open place to get into the trunk where my wife had our spare car keys in her purse luckily. About this time I figured the backpack had been stolen on purpose so I was a little afraid that my car would be gone before we could get into it, but it was still there when the guy came to open it for us.

We were pretty pissed and my wife was really upset to the point of crying for a little bit, but after we went back to the ride and checked a couple bathrooms around the area we decided we could either stay pissed or try to enjoy the rest of the day and keep checking back at lost and found until the park closed. At least there wasn't anything in the backpack that can't be replaced.

I called our bank and canceled the credit cards that were in my wallet and we spent the rest of the day riding rides. We rode the ferris wheel at dusk and got stuck at the top like all those pop-punk songs (or that one mc chris song). We even got to finally see some fireworks at the end of the night since there weren't any shows in Austin this 4th of July.

We had decided against eating at the park again, so after we left we found a place off the highway called Willie's Grill & Icehouse. It was a good choice because the food was about a hundred times better than what they had at Fiesta Texas. On a trip to the bathroom I noticed they had a Galaga machine so I got some quarters so we could play after dinner. Galaga is my wife's favorite game and the one and only game she destroys me on regularly. She stomped me by about 30,000 points, then she turned around and tried to win a little Iron Man plush out of a claw machine. I just kept shaking my head saying, "You've got to be kidding me! There's no way!" But there was a way and she was not kidding me because she won it on the first try. So maybe we can consider claw machines the other game she beats me at, because I'm pretty terrible at those too.

After that we drove home and went to sleep cause it was laaaaaaaaate, and that was the good ending to a pretty fun, but also kind of crappy day. I still haven't heard back about anyone finding or turning in our backpack, but to be honest I'm not holding out much hope. I ordered a new phone and I'm waiting on a new license. I'll be sure to update if anything changes because I know you're all holding your breath on this one.

I feel that if you read all of this very long post the picture should be self-explanatory. I'll just leave it at that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 58: The Turtles Ride a Bitchin' Roller Coaster

Watch me pretend that I wrote this before we went to Six Flags. I can totally pull it off. Here goes.

Holy crap, you guys! Last night was pretty sweet. We went to a nice restaurant on the River Walk in San Antonio and then stayed in the historic (and supposedly haunted) Emily Morgan Hotel right next to the Alamo. The hotel clerk even upgraded our room for free because I mentioned it was our anniversary. All in all it was a pretty good anniversary night.

Today we're getting ready to go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas and ride all the rides. We're both big fans of roller coasters so it should be a fun day. I'll update later with how our day went.

Back to the present now; I've got quite a post about our day at Six Flags, but I don't have time to go into it right now. Be looking out for that one later tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 57: The Ninja Turtles at My Wedding

 Today is my wife and my 4th anniversary. We're heading down to San Antonio tonight to stay near the River Walk and then tomorrow morning we'll be going to Six Flags Fiesta Texas to spend the day riding roller coasters and other nonsense. I don't have much time to write this post because we're leaving in a couple of hours, but I suppose I should explain the picture a bit.

This is a revised version of our wedding day. I still can't draw people very well, but that is obviously me and my wife in the middle. On my side I have Donatello and Leonardo; on her side she has Michelangelo and Raphael. I thought about having all the turtles on my side, but then I'd have to draw more girls to fill out her side and I figured it would look funny to have two of the turtles dress in drag anyway. So there you have it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 56: Michelangelo Flies a Kite

It was nice outside today. It made me want to fly a kite, so I drew Michelangelo flying one. It's my kite, actually. I really have a Spider-Man kite with a ridiculously long tail of little Spider-Man heads. I think I still have it. I may have lost it in a tree come to think of it. That sucks. I liked that kite. I should investigate whether it's still around here somewhere or not.

Day 54: Donatello Records Some Bass Lines

Tonight was pretty full so I just did a quick sketch before bed. The wife was off doing her own thing (which should be getting a post soon) so I was home alone tonight. I sat down to record some bass for a friend in AZ. I haven't played in a while, but it's sounding OK. I've never been much good at recording. I like to do it, I just don't have the skills, patience or equipment to make it sound as good as I would like. I much prefer writing to recording, or at least self-recording. Anyway, here's a drawing of Donatello playing bass. With some headphones cause I use headphones like those when I record.