Monday, October 31, 2011
Tonight is Halloween! I don't know exactly why I'm excited. It's a Monday night and we don't really have any plans. I think we're going to my mom's house for "Boo Burgers" and to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters.
I drew the Turtles trick-or-treating and I tried to pick costumes that would fit their personalities. Leo is a samurai, Don is a mad scientist, Mikey is a clown and Raph is the lazy one who just wants candy as a sheet-ghost.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
So we can add boats to the list of things I don't draw well. Also pirate hats. That one kinda looks like a black Mario hat. Whatever, Leonardo is about to totally murder that kracken.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I figured I should just draw Michelangelo doing the first thing that came to mind when I imagined him holding a gun: shrugging. I imagine he's thinking, "What should I do with this thing?"
Or maybe he's saying, "I don't know what happened, it just went off."
Either way Ninja Turtles and guns are probably not a good mix.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Anyway, I got to thinking about what it might be like if they switched up to something a little more damaging like a ridiculously over-sized battle axe. I think it would look something like this and I have to admit to chuckling to myself a bit while drawing it. Maybe that's a bit morbid, but what can you do? I am especially a fan of the fact that Raph wasn't expecting to lodge it directly in the Foot Soldier's head, or maybe he was just expecting a robot.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Tonight is Monday. You want to know what the only reason to be excited by Monday is? Castle is on tonight. If you haven't seen Castle you're doing yourself a disservice. I'm ashamed to admit that we didn't start watching it until season 3. It's not that we weren't interested, we just didn't make time for it. Boy were we stupid.
Nathan Fillion plays the main character, Richard Castle, and I should make one thing clear to everyone: Anything Nathan Fillion does is worth watching. Anything. I would even watch his stint on One Life to Live if they re-aired it. On the short list of celebrities I wish I was real-life friends with Nathan Fillion is hanging out at the top.
OK, I'm done talking about Nathan Fillion, I promise, even though he's amazing and you should probably go watch everything he's done and then follow him on Twitter.
As a general rule I don't like cop/crime shows. The closest I have ever come to following a crime/law drama is watching X-Files or maybe Dexter. Luckily the rest of the cast is just as stellar as Mr. Fillion and they all make me wish they had more screen time.
Stana Katic is the hottest police detective on any TV show (and probably in real-life, too) and she plays a great straight-man to Fillion's antics. Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas as Detectives Ryan and Espisito are probably two of my favorite secondary characters on TV. They are maybe the only supporting characters I wouldn't mind watching an entire episode of. They do a good job playing a sort-of middle ground comic relief on a show where the main character is also the most ridiculous character, and they've both shown their acting chops in more serious episodes. Detective Ryan wins for household favorite, though, because my wife says he's so adorable in his suits and vests. She also loves that the actor that plays him in named Seamus, a name she's been championing as a name for our son (if we have one) since I've known her. Last but not least Molly Quinn plays maybe the cutest TV daughter in the history of TV. Following her on Twitter makes her seem an awful lot like her character, Alexis, in a good way of course.
While we watched the show I drew Michelangelo wearing Castle's custom-made "writer" bullet-proof vest. I picked Michelangelo because he's a comedian like Fillion, but I considered Donatello. Fillion (and Castle) are tech guys and Donatello's got a good sense of humor himself.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Today was football day. I mentioned previously about my wife being a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and me being a huge not-really-watching-much-football fan so we compromise by watching the games when we can and both rooting for the Steelers; her because she loves them and me because I don't want her to be in a bad mood all day. She says that's not really rooting for them with my whole heart and soul, but I say it is rooting with my whole heart and soul because if she thinks I don't care if she's in a bad mood after a loss she is sorely mistaken. Anyway, today the Steelers played the Arizona Cardinals which is always a big deal for us since we both lived in Phoenix and have several friends here that are Cardinals fans.
We met up with my brother, his girlfriend and our friend, Shaun, at a wing place called Pluckers near our house to watch the game. It was sort of one sided with the Steelers running all over the Cardinals which is fine by me. We had a good time hanging out and I drew this while we were sitting at the table. After I finished drawing it I was trying to decide which turtle to color it as and my wife offered an opinion.
Em: Umm... you could color his mask yellow like the Steelers' color.
Me: Nope, that's not a real turtle color.
Em: But it could be for this drawing because they're a fan of the Steelers.
Me: Sorry, can't do it. The best I can offer is to make it Michelangelo. That's as close to yellow as I can get.
Em: But it's not the same. Maybe you could make it say "Terrible Towel" or something.
Me: Not gonna happen.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Today is sort of a weird day for me, and I apologize right of the bat if I bring down your Friday with a somewhat serious post. Eight years ago today singer/songwriter Elliott Smith died.
Music is extremely important to me. I like to believe I have a pretty wide range of musical tastes and listening to music goes beyond just having something to sing along to that I can maybe identify with. I love to privately dissect songs looking for reason or meaning in the chord structure and lyrics. I try to imagine what made an artist choose that word instead of this one, or make the jump to a C instead of a G. I only mention this to try to convey fully what I mean when I say that Elliott Smith is my all-time favorite musician. It's hard to say exactly what it is that makes me respond so strongly to his music, but some combination of his lyrics, voice and instrumentation speaks to me in a way that no other artist has.
I first remember hearing his music while watching The Royal Tenenbaums. In the scene with Richie shaving I noticed a very haunting and minimalistic acoustic guitar/vocals song playing over the scene. I believe I was talking to my wife (then girlfriend) online at the time and I knew I had to find out what that song was. I quickly discovered it was called "Needle in the Hay" by Elliott Smith. This was back in the early days of Napster or maybe I was using Audio Galaxy, who knows, but I downloaded that song and a few more for good measure. I was hooked. I listened to them on repeat for days on end.
Which brings me to my picture for today. I drew Donatello (me) sitting in front of the wall mural famously used for the cover of Elliott Smith's album Figure 8. This mural still exists in LA. It was turned into an unofficial memorial when he died with fans writing messages on it and leaving candles, flowers and notes. Someone tagged it and it had to be painted over, but it was restored earlier this year. This wall is one of the places I would love to visit someday.
I've been a fan for many years now, but I never had the opportunity to see him perform live which is something I'll always regret. I have a few Elliott Smith-related anecdotes but I don't want to ramble for too long on this post so I'll just tell one.
Tomorrow marks exactly one year since my wife and I flew to Portland, OR for our friends' wedding. I was excited because even though I've never been there as far as I remember I suspect I would enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest. The climate seems just about my speed and I like the scenery. It was our first time visiting Portland and we were pretty excited. One of our favorite authors, Chuck Palahnuik, is from there and wrote an extremely awesome travel guide to the city (which we stupidly didn't make much use of). It was also once the hometown of Elliott Smith. Portland is where he was living when he started making a name for himself with his band Heatmiser. It's also where he was living when he recorded his first solo album, Roman Candle. I didn't really have any Elliott Smith related landmarks to seek out, I just wanted to kind of experience the place that he saw everyday and inspired him.
Unsurprisingly it was cold and rainy, but we had a great time walking around the city looking at some of the touristy sites and we spent a lot of time in Powell's Books which is the biggest bookstore I've ever seen. It was located just a couple of blocks from our hotel and it's easy to see how people literally get lost in there. As we walked around looking at books and trying to think of gifts or souvenirs we might buy for other people my wife suddenly disappeared. I walked around for a while looking for her, but the place is so huge it's hard to find anyone, especially if they don't want to be found.
I eventually found her in the children's section where she immediately shooed me away. She was clearly buying me a present but I wasn't sure what book she would be getting me from the children's section. After she bought it and we left the store she gave me the bag and told me to open it; inside was a copy of The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. We had been talking about that book because I mentioned that Elliott Smith had a tattoo of Ferdinand on his upper arm, but she had never heard the story. I told her I wanted to get it because it reminds me of Elliott Smith and it's a good children's book that I thought she would like. It really was a great gift to get before we left Portland. Now it sits on my little Elliott Smith shelf in our living room among a few other biographies and books of photos.
I've met other Elliott Smith fans over the years and they are often excited to meet someone else who finds his music so inspiring and special. I'm always a little surprised at how popular he was. I shouldn't be, after all he was nominated for an Oscar for his song "Miss Misery" on the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack, but I guess it's because I discovered his music on my own. Nobody handed me a mix tape or burned me an album and said, "Listen to this, you'll love it." Maybe that's why I still feel a bit of a possessiveness about his music, even though I know he had so many other fans. No one will love and remember his songs quite the way I do.
As usual I'll leave you with a couple of songs. It's hard to choose a favorite among so many great songs, but these are two that I love for their simplicity and they always make me happy when I hear them.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
And don't tell me the British version is better. I've seen the British series, it's funny, but in a different way and I have much more of an attachment to the US characters.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
There's this new Tumblr called Teenage Mutant Ninja Noses. Have you heard of it? You should check it out because it's pretty hilarious and I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't come up with it after all the thinking about Ninja Turtles I do every day. I made a couple of submissions, but only one has been posted so far. It works amazingly well 99% of the time on human noses. Ninja Turtle noses, as you can see, don't really have the right shape. It just looks like a stupid tattoo.
Here are my submissions:
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
While we were helping our friends move one of their mom's was having phone troubles. Another friend swooped in to help with all of his "talking tech on the phone" experience and handled the situation. Nothing especially exciting came out of this experience, except that he mentioned that the cell phone tech support guy's name was Raphael, so of course I felt the need to put it in a picture. Boom. Done.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Yesterday was moving day. Not for us. We're staying put for at least a little while longer. No, instead it was moving day for our friends Colt and Mandy! You may remember me mentioning Mandy once or twice on here. She occasionally helps me with bloggy things and to make my words work better when I need some help (I always need help, I just don't usually ask). Also she has a blog. It's sometimes about girl things, but often about awesome things. Check it out.... HERE!
Anyway, they moved into a new apartment yesterday. They're place was feeling a little small for them so they expanded and we helped! After Saturday night's late night birthday celebration we were a little slow moving, but we showed up around 8:40 and the coffee and donuts helped some. All I can say is at least I wasn't hung over. I was tired, but I can't imagine how my drunker companions must have felt.
Honestly, though, it wasn't that bad. We were moving them from a third floor apartment to another third floor, but the weather was nice if a little humid and we had a whole fleet of vehicles to start off with. The first trip was huge and we cleared out a lot of stuff. The second trip was a little smaller, but all of the big items had already made it over to the new place and there were just some odds and ends left. We enjoyed giving Mandy a hard time about all of her clothes and craft stuff because holy geez does she have a lot of craft stuff! Really, though I can't fault her. For one thing she makes some pretty sweet crafty things and at least it was all organized. Plus I'm pretty sure people are going to get tired of carrying boxes of my toys when we move.
All-in-all we got it done in two big trips and two small trips. Not too bad to finish everything off without the use of a trailer or moving van. We had some pizza for lunch and we chit-chatted about how they're gonna fix up the new place. Mandy's got an eye for interior design so I'm sure it'll look awesome.
After we got everything moved that needed to be moved my wife, Shaun and I left Mandy to the awesome job of unpacking and got some food before the premiere of The Walking Dead. While moving isn't my favorite thing to do it really wasn't a bad day. I'm all for helping out my friends and if nothing else at least I got an good workout for the day.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Today is a landmark day for more than one reason. First and foremost today marks my 100th picture! I wanted to do something special, but in normal Turtle A Day fashion I was lazy and didn't.
This morning was special because my wife ran the Livestrong 5k in downtown Austin. She ran it in memory of all the friends and family she's lost to cancer and in honor of all the friends and family still battling. She made a shirt with a picture of her Uncle Mike, who she lost to Leukemia a few years ago, on the front and the names of other victims and survivors she collected from friends and family on the back. It was a little scary to see the shirt and realize how many people cancer has affected just in our lives.
She finished the 5k with an unofficial time of around 35 minutes and she even did it while carrying the Build-A-Bear we made for her uncle when he was in the hospital. In addition to running the race she also raised over $500 for the foundation in about a week. She did an excellent job and I'm very proud of her.
The last big news of today is that it's also our friend Shaun's birthday! They have a show tonight (Night of the Living Dead in which Shaun plays a zombie and my wife plays Judy) but afterward we're going out for a few drinks.
Shaun and my wife have a tradition of doing tequila shots together. I almost always assume the role of photographer since I'm allergic to alcohol. This tradition started about five and a half years ago at Casa Rio on the River Walk in San Antonio. They used to do a shot whenever they were in the same state together, but now that Shaun lives here it's mostly for special occasions. On our road trip to Florida a few months ago we stopped and they did shots under the Welcome to Louisiana and Welcome to Mississippi signs (it was too dark going through Alabama and Florida). Tonight we bought him a bottle of somewhat nicer tequila than what they normally drink and I think they're going to do a shot on stage in zombie make-up after the show. I don't drink so I hope he likes the bottle I bought off the recommendation of the guy at the liquor store.
Tomorrow we're getting up bright and early to help some friends move. I'll let you know how their hangovers go during the move.
Friday, October 14, 2011
And here we come to the end of my days off. Well, really I'm off Saturday and Sunday, but we have things to do those days so I don't consider them really days off in the same sense. Let's just say I won't be sitting around in front of the TV all day.
I've been playing Dragon Age II pretty solid for three days now and I'm not nearly as far into it as I thought I would be. I do love that it's such a dense game inside such a full world. I don't mind sinking a ton of time into a game as long as it's engaging. I love all of the characters so far. The Dwarf, Varric, is probably my favorite secondary character, but I'm also a big fan of the pirate captain, Isabella. She reminds me so much of my wife's D&D character it's a little uncanny. She's even said some things that I'm pretty sure my wife said during a game. Well, three days in and I'm around the 30 hour mark. That's not too bad I guess. I'll let you know what my total time is if I ever finish this game.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Today is day off number two. Yesterday wasn't totally what I said it would be. I did play a lot of Dragon Age II but I also did some laundry and some other things around the house. Today will probably be more of the same: A lot of Dragon Age with some minor chores to break up the day and keep me from feeling totally worthless. In today's picture you can start to see my impression of the progression of how sitting around is making me look.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
My job is making everyone take five days off this quarter. That might sound like a good way to cut down on costs when things are slow, and it is in general. The problem I have with it is that I worked almost 60 hours last week and will probably be working more next week. So being forced to take time off to save on payroll costs makes a lot less sense when everyone is working 50-60% overtime, especially considering we probably wouldn't be working so much overtime if everyone wasn't taking time off. Whatever. It's not my job to point out the stupid shit my company comes up with. I intend to enjoy my days off anyway.
And by "enjoy my days off" I mean I'm going to sit on the couch and play Dragon Age II from the time I get up until the time I go to bed. So far I'm doing pretty well. I played the "Mark of the Assassin" DLC featuring Felicia Day's character. It was a lot of fun and pretty substantial I think. The writing is excellent and the voice acting is great. Felicia Day's character Tallis has some great banter and in case you're wondering, yes, you can romance her. Nothing serious since she's only in this small DLC mission set, but if you side with her and help her out you can make out with her at the end. I thought this would be funny to see, but let me assure you, it was mostly just awkward.
I'll be upfront with you about this. I am not the kind of nerd that gets excited for virtual boobs. While I appreciate games like this adding romance options for the sake of trying to recreate a wider scope of emotional attachments in the story it's really not something I get excited about, especially not in that way. Dragon Age: Origins tried to handle the whole romance/sex thing too seriously, I think, and the cut scenes were just weird and unnatural. It's the whole "uncanny valley" thing. Dragon Age II is better about it for sure, but kissing still looks weird. Basically it's two pixelated faces kinda smashing into each other. Anyway, the whole thing with Tallis was still funny but as I tweeted later it was also weird and I felt like I had crossed a line that can't be uncrossed. I should probably take my virtual romances more seriously in the future.
Does everyone remember that time I met Felicia Day and wrote a really long blog post about it? Well this one kind of is about her too, but not entirely. And I didn't meet her again, unfortunately.
The title of today's post might be a bit misleading. The Turtles aren't partying, but they are in a party. Party in this instance referring to an RPG type party of characters. This post has a couple of inspirations. I first thought about drawing the turtles as fantasy/RPG style characters when I was talking to my friend Mandy about which Hunger Games district they would be assigned to. I gave her a brief character synopsis in which I assigned them each to an RPG player class.
The second and more immediate inspiration comes from Dragon Age II. I loved Dragon Age: Origins much to some of my friends' dismay. I really credit Dragon Age with being the game that taught me not to be so serious when playing an RPG and that it's OK to give your character a little, well, character beyond being the stoic hero. I haven't played the second one yet, but today's the day. I borrowed it from a friend and I'm finally ready to start. As a matter of fact it's installing an update on my PS3 as I type this.
But that's not all! Not only is today the day that I'm starting my first Dragon Age II playthrough, but it's also the premiere of the Dragon Age: Redemption web series written by and starring Felicia Day! I just watched the first episode. It's pretty good. I'm a little confused about the Qunari because they don't look like I remember Sten looking from Dragon Age: Origins, but maybe it will make more sense when I've gotten into the game. I found myself looking closely at little details on the costumes and weapons. Felicia's costume has been all over the internet the past few months and it is pretty impressive, but the other costumes look like they were taken straight out of the game. The series is only running for six weeks and I can't wait to see where it goes.
I have a confession. I had this mostly typed up and the picture scanned and added to the post and ready to go, but I put off finishing it so I could play the game. I'm only a few hours in, but it's really good so far. It's a slightly different feel from the first game and maybe a little brighter and more animated art style, but I think it works well. The combat is much more fun for sure. I haven't gotten much into the main story because I've been playing the "Mark of the Assassin" DLC that was released yesterday in conjunction with the Redemption web series.
BioWare wrote an entire side quest around Felicia Day's Tallis character and even included her as a party member. I'm not sure how this compares to the rest of the game because as I said I haven't gotten very far in it yet, but the writing is really good and often very funny. It is a little weird seeing Felicia Day as an elf in-game, though. They did a good job, but being an elf her features are slightly out of proportion to her human self so she looks like her, just... a little off.
Her character is a great addition and the voice acting is great all around. I've even met up with a few old friends from the first game. Of course they don't know me since the player character from Dragon Age: Origins is gone, but I remember them. It's a lot of fun and I'm excited to have the next three days off to put in some time. Speaking of which I better wrap this up so I can get back to it.
To finish I'll talk a little about the picture. These are the roles I assigned the Turtles when describing them to Mandy. Starting from the left Raphael is definitely a rouge. He's hot headed, but sneaky and he duel wields dagger-like weapons. Donatello I made a mage. There are usually engineers in fantasy, but that's really more of a profession than a class. His science is closer to magic anyway so I figured he would make a good mage. Leonardo I think of as a paladin with swords. Dragon Age doesn't have a paladin class, they have Templars, which are sort of the same thing. He's a pious warrior in charge of keeping mages from using their magic for evil, but Templars can do some holy magic themselves which seems to go against their beliefs. I guess even in Thedas the power of religion allows for servants of the church to get away with these things for what they perceive is the greater good. Michelangelo is pretty much just a brute-force warrior. He's the tank of the party.
There you have it. The Ninja Turtles as RPG characters. If you disagree with my assessment feel free to draw your own picture and submit it. I'll leave you with episode one from the Dragon Age: Redemption series. Enjoy!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Today's picture is a sort-of recreation of a scene from the first Ninja Turtles movie. You may recall this classic scene of Donatello and Casey Jones working on an old truck on April's farm and playing some sort of insult-alphabet game. I decided to draw this because yesterday I had to take my wife's car to my uncle's shop and have some work done on it. I'd like to say that I did the work on it, but really it was mostly my uncle and my dad. I did, however, purchase all the parts. Holy geez fixing cars can be expensive, but I am definitely thankful I have someone in my family that can help me out without charging me $100 an hour for labor.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I'm pretty busy today. I'm working on my wife's car and then I'm busy being lazy so here's a picture of Donatello and Michelangelo high fiving. High fives are pretty great and you can't high five someone in a negative way so it's always a good way to lift someone's spirits, unless you're like us and you have about a million different joke high fives that make everyone feel stupid when they get caught by one.
I used Don and Mike in this picture because I don't ever pair them up, but I feel like they have a pretty close relationship being the ones with the best senses of humor. I also feel like to most people they were the sort of less popular turtles because everyone loves Leo and Raph. Maybe I'm just imagining that, though.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
You know what? Capes are awesome. And I don't mean like fashion capes that people used to wear, I mean like superhero capes.
OK, wait. I lied. All capes are awesome.
Same goes for cloaks, which are really just capes with hoods. If they came back in style I would wear that shit everywhere. I guess I could just wear one around now, but I live in Texas and it's mostly too hot for a cloak, plus I don't have the guts to walk around in something so bold. I like to deflect attention, not attract it.
If, however, you happen to be a superhero capes are a sweet and often useful addition to your wardrobe. Batman's cape hides his gadgets and has an infinite number of uses in addition to pretty much being the cornerstone of his costume. Spawn's cape is a living part of his body which makes it awesome and incredibly handy; like a much cooler version of a prehensile tail. Take that monkeys!
Of course there is a down side to capes. If you're not careful they can get in your way. We all know what happened to Dollar Bill. A lot of the more acrobatic super heroes leave the cape out of their costume designs, but that makes sense. If you're doing a whole lot of flipping and spinning you're bound to get tangled up in that thing. Besides, who has ever heard of a spider wearing a cape? It just doesn't make sense sometimes.
So here's my interpretation of the Turtles if their costumes had included capes or cloaks. I don't think it would have been a terrible idea, but living in the sewer those things probably would have started to get pretty nasty. Plus Michelangelo obviously has some issues working with his.
Shaun claims that capes would have been terrible and that they cover up the turtle's shells which kind of take the place of capes in their design. I guess he has a point saying they would get in the way of Don and Leo drawing their weapons, but still, fucking capes, man!
Have you read the Hunger Games books? Have you even heard of them? Well I have. Heard of them, that is; I haven't read them. I do know a couple of things about the story though. For one I know there are at least two books, I know they're making it into a movie, I know it takes place in a dystopian America--which, for my money, is the best America--and I now know it's about kids in a giant death match. That pretty much exhausts my knowledge of the Hunger Games storyline so I thought the logical next step would be to write a post about it.
My friend Mandy posted her nifty ID card thingy that she got for registering on the Hunger Games movie website. It identifies her by her name, her sex and her district. I didn't really know what that meant, but dammit! I wanted an ID too! So I went to the website and signed up to see where I would get placed. There are 12 districts and I was placed in District 3. No ID card, though. What a rip-off.
Anyway, I tweeted Mandy to find out what this meant to me. I wasn't particularly interested in what I was supposed to be doing at the time and I am a pretty funny guy, so it turned into a little bit longer of a conversation than I intended.
I'm actually pretty sure I'll read the books at some point just out of curiousity. I mean, I read the Twilight series just to see what all the fuss was about and these books sound way less stupid to begin with. The only problem now is if I do read the books there's no way it will match what I've imagined in my own head. For one thing I'm sure there will be a disappointing lack of Ninja Turtles.
I'd like to thank Mandy Murtis for her help with this post. For more information about fictional child murder check out her blog: Chocolate & Cream Cake
I'm going to give everyone (all 12 of you) a break from reading my long, rambling stories by submitting this picture without much comment. Of course this effectively gives me a break from writing long, rambling stories and that's always nice. In case you're wondering (you are, admit it) I chose Leonardo because according to my tag cloud thingy on the side bar I've used him less in his own pictures than any of the other Turtles. Enjoy your rest Leonardo. You've earned it.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I am unbelievably tired today. We went to an mc chris show last night, his last show at the current Emo's location, and didn't get home until around 2 this morning. Combine that with the late night from the Andrew Jackson Jihad show the night before and I'm not sure how I'm awake right now. But that's OK, because, as usual, mc chris made it worth while.
I won't go into a big long story about all of my dealings with mc chris like I did for AJJ. I've been listening to mc chris a lot longer than I have Andrew Jackson Jihad and I already did a fairly sizable post about him a month or so ago. Remember? Instead I'll just tell you about last night's show and then I'll pass out from exhaustion.
Most of the time when mc chris comes to Austin he does a screening of a favorite movie at Alamo Drafthouse. In the past these have mostly been midnight screenings and throughout the years we've seen Ghostbusters, Temple of Doom, Cloak and Dagger, Galaxy Quest and probably a few more I can't remember right now. This time around he did a showing of Starship Troopers a few hours before the show. Sadly we couldn't make it to the screening, but I'm sure it was an awesome good time like always.
Before I talk about the actual show, I should mention that my wife and I were in our Casey Jones and April O'neil costumes again. In the past it has never been unusual to see people in costume at an mc chris show, but this tour he is holding official costume contests at each stop. After the tour is over he's going to pick a grand prize winner for a four day four night stay in either Disney World or Disney Land. We're planning on going to Disney World in February so my wife can run the Princess Half-Marathon so that trip would have been amazing, but we weren't holding out hope. Nerds are damn good cosplayers and we just wanted to be a part of the costume contest because it's fun.
Unsurprisingly the show was sold out. mc chris usually plays the Emo's outdoor stage which is a significantly bigger area, but because they already closed that section of the venue he was forced to play inside. We got to the show a little late so that my wife could go to rehearsals beforehand. We barely missed Adam WarRock which is a shame because I was curious about his live show.
Shortly after we got to Emo's Random aka Mega Ran took the stage. I honestly had no idea who he was or what he was about other than I strongly suspected he raps about video games. One of the most entertaining parts was when he did a freestyle by stringing together one or two rhymes about whatever the audience was holding up. By the end he had rapped about hand lotion, a baseball cap and a 10% off coupon to Best Buy among other things. I was seriously impressed. He has a very old school hip hop flow and a huge amount of talent.
To be perfectly honest I don't really listen to nerd core rap. I know that sounds weird since I'm such a big fan of mc chris, but I just can't get into a lot of it. Most of the time I get the impression that the artists are trying too hard to be as obscure in their references as possible and you lose a feeling of anything real or personal coming out of the music. I got the opposite feeling from Mega Ran. His music is super nerdy, but it comes from a very personal place. Mega Ran gets my vote for bets opening act of this tour.
After his set we went outside to get some air. By this time we had gotten a few compliments on our costumes. My wife was more recognized, but she also got someone shouting "Kill Bill!" at her when we walked past. I was pleasantly surprised with the general reaction to my costume. On Halloween almost no one recognized me, even the people dressed as Ninja Turtles, but at an mc chris show surrounded by other nerds who grew up on those cartoons and movies I got quite a few high fives.
While we were standing outside I got a tap on the shoulder and turned around to a guy giving me a closed fist salute with Casey Jones' battle cry, "Goongala!" We struck up a conversation with him and his two friends and found out his name was Raphael. I forget his friends' names because I'm terrible with names, but it would have helped if they had also shared a name with a turtle. We talked about our love of the Turtles and about the Casey Jones fan film I blogged about several weeks ago. I had to admit shamefacedly that we had only seen the first season and a half or so of Venture Bros. and, following a stiff recommendation that we catch up, we went back inside to watch MC Lars.
I don't know why, but I had it in my head that I didn't like MC Lars. I don't know when I thought I'd heard his music, but for some reason I really didn't care about his show. Well, turns out I'm an idiot because it was actually pretty damn good. Mega Ran still wins for favorite opener, but MC Lars was close behind him. More even than his rapping I liked his concepts. He writes a lot of stuff in a style he calls "lit-hop." To give you an example of what that means he did a rap version of the story of Moby Dick, the story of Hamlet and two Edgar Allan Poe poems. In one of the poem/raps he used a line from the ICP song "Cemetery Girl" which, being an old school juggalo, I instantly recognized. Before I could lean over and tell my wife he said "Yeah, that's an ICP reference." I'm glad we got to see him perform because it was definitely entertaining.
After MC Lars was the main event. We waited inside and tried to get a half-way decent spot. The inside stage of Emo's is not very big so there isn't really a bad spot, but we wanted to be fairly close. We saw mc chris' roadie/merch guy, Sully, come out and start the music and the entire crowd went crazy. Little did they know we would have to wait through about three and a half minutes of an epic piece of music we all recognized, but I can't quite place. When he finally came out he started the show off with "I Want Candy," the song he wrote and recorded for his character MC Pee Pants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I think it's hilarious that he's been making music for 10 years, he's got 7 albums and a Honda commercial and everyone still loses their minds for a song we heard 20 seconds of on a cartoon years ago.
After the song he went into his normal semi-stand up bit. This time was about playing Dead Island and being an RPG completionist and item hoarder. It was hilarious as always and definitely hit close to home for me. At some point while discussing the eminent closing of Emo's, which has been his Austin home base for most of his shows, he started singing "Think of Me" from the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. This somehow turned into an mc chris acapella Phantom of the Opera medley. Again, hilarious and close to home since I just finished reading the book and I listened to the soundtrack about a hundred times while reading it.
Most of his set was made up of newer stuff from the last few albums. There were a couple old classics like "The 'Tussin" and of course "Fett's Vette." The entire show was centered around ridiculous audience participation which is always part of the fun.
About 45 minutes into the set he called everyone in costume up on stage for the costume contest. There were probably around 20 people on stage and I was pretty happy when he didn't even bother asking us who we were as he had done with the other contestants and just announced us as "Casey Jones and April O'neil!" We got a much bigger response than I thought we would and we actually ended up getting third place, which doesn't really mean anything except that I can blog about how we got third place in the mc chris costume contest. The finalists were Lilu Dallas in the white strap outfit (complete with multi-pass) and Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon won which is fair because her costume was awesome, but it takes some guts to walk around in basically nothing but white strips of fabric. Well done, Lilu.
Before his last song he got serious for a little bit and talked about his dad who is battling cancer and who he's afraid he won't get to see again before the end. He thanked everyone for being such great fans and allowing him to leave his real-life behind for a little while every night and do the things he loves to do. It was pretty touching to see him so sincere and it's obvious he really meant it.
After the "last song" he tried to hide for his encore. The inside stage at Emo's doesn't have a backstage area; bands enter and leave through the crowd. So this means that after the song mc chris tried (unsuccessfully) to hide behind a speaker stack and then jumped back out about fifteen seconds later. His last song was "Popcorn Frog," a song about not being able to wait to get to your seat in a movie and licking up your popcorn with your tongue while you walk to the theater.
After his set mc chris always hangs out by his merch booth to meet the fans. We decided to go out and wait in line with everyone else just to say hi and shake his hand. When we got up to him he told us he liked our costumes and that Casey Jones was a favorite character of his. I didn't expect him to remember me since it had been so long and he meets a billion people every night so I just mentioned the guitar I made him a few years back and told him it had been a while. Whether he remembered us before I don't know, but he remembered us then for sure. He just smiled and said, "Man, you guys have been here for a lot of different parts of my life." That is definitely true because at last count we've been to 8 or 9 shows in the last 6 years or so. I told him as long as he keeps going we'll keep showing up. I dropped some money in his CF bucket and we left.
Before we headed back to the car we decided to go down 6th Street and see if there was any place open to grab something to eat so we wouldn't have to settle for Whataburger again. Luckily Hoek's Death Metal Pizza was still open and we got a couple of slices. Walking around the mostly dead downtown we got some pretty enthusiastic responses to our costumes. While we were ordering pizza we were approached by a very excited tattoo artist who I guess was a big fan of Casey Jones and was also a little drunk. We walked back to the car and the perfect ridiculousness of the situation hit me. I turned to my wife and said, "We're walking through the city dressed as two characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at night eating pizza. How awesome is that?" It was a pretty spectacular end to the night.
I'm sorry this post turned into such a long story, but a lot happened in a short amount of time and I wanted to remember as much as I could. As usual I'll leave you with a couple of songs. Enjoy.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
So, Andrew Jackson Jihad.
I've mentioned them on this blog, and if you follow me on Twitter you've maybe seen me tweet at them. AJJ is made up of Sean Bonnette on guitar and vocals and Ben Gallaty on stand up bass and backing vocals. They are unique in their musicality and no one in music today can turn a phrase quite like Sean Bonnette. Their songs are usually very catching with a thin layer of comedy on top of generally more serious content. Don't misunderstand, they aren't all depressing downers. Some of them are serious feel-good songs, but some of them are about being pissed off and hating everyone else and their stupid shit. That's one of the things I love about their song writing. They write songs like human emotions; sometimes you're on top of the world, sometimes you want to burn it down.
One of my favorite examples is the contrast between their songs "People" and "People II: The Reckoning" from the album People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World. "People II" comes first and is a pretty angry song about how nothing is real and everyone is terrible deep down inside, but the record ends on a very upbeat note with "People" which is about how even though people are pretty shitty we're all still awesome because we're all in this life together and we should recognize that. Since hearing these songs and understanding their meanings I often think of my moods in terms of which song I'm feeling at the moment. Yesterday, getting ready for the show I was definitely more "People" than "People II: The Reckoning." It makes sense to me, I just don't generally say it out loud because most people wouldn't get the reference.
You know what? I think we should make this a thing. Everyone listen to those songs and then start using that phrase to describe your mood. It'll catch on in no time. Trust me.
Now that my unnecessary review of a band I obviously love is over with let's start at the beginning, shall we?
My wife and I used to live in Phoenix, AZ; her family still does. A couple years ago her brother, Alex, started talking to us about a local band, Andrew Jackson Jihad. He's usually got good taste in music, but not everything resonates with us like it does with him so we remembered the name because it's a pretty ridiculous name, but I kind of pushed them to the back of my mind. Then, while we were visiting during Christmas he told us he thought we would really like them and he burned us a few of their albums to listen to on our drive. It can sometimes be an awkward situation when someone forces new music on you that they're really into. There's a certain expectation to like it or you could be inadvertently insulting the other person's taste in music. Once we actually started listening to it, though, it was like a light bulb clicked on. Why hadn't we listened to them before?
Fast forward 7 months or so and Alex decides to fly home with us after a family vacation to Pennsylvania so he could spend some time in Austin. It just so happened that AJJ was playing a show while he was in town. My wife and I were excited to see them for the first time. The crowd was impressive and they did not disappoint. We talked with them for a few minutes after the show and they were both very nice guys. We bought a 7" called Pug Life which one of them (Sean probably) drew square frame glasses on the dog's face and a cigar in his mouth
Fast forward again to a couple of months ago when I posted my "Leonardo: Principito" drawing on here. The picture was heavily inspired by their song "Principito" that I had stuck in my head all day. When I posted the link to Twitter I tagged AJJ in it like I always do when my post relates to someone that I follow just in case that person sees it and gets a kick out of it. A little while later I saw that AJJ retweeted it and then a friend texted me to tell me that they were following me on Twitter. That's a whole lot of really nerdy social networking speak that basically amounts to the fact that they obviously liked my post and it made me feel awesome.
So, now that we're all caught up to the present I can talk about the show last night. **Spoiler Alert** It was awesome.
We got to the show a little while after doors opened. We went around to the back where AJJ had their merch set up and made introductions. I know I just said that they retweeted my blog and followed me on Twitter afterwards, but I refuse to believe anyone but some of my friends and family read it so I had a little "holy shit" moment when Sean mentioned it by name. This is not my lively-hood and I would hardly call it art, but it's a little creative outlet for me and it's fun so it's cool to hear that people enjoy it.
We talked to the guys for a little bit about living in AZ and driving across Texas. My wife gave them some delicious pumpkin cookies she made (remember what I said in previous posts about bringing gifts to people?) They enjoyed a few while we browsed their wares. I ended up buying a shirt and People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World on vinyl because Knife Man was sold out. My wife got a bright pink koozie with the words "Skull fuck your thirst!" on the front with a picture of a penis in the mouth of a skull and the words "Andrew Fucking Jackson Jihad" on the back with a bunch of motocross riders doing tricks. It's the most awesome koozie we own.
After we bought our stuff we went inside to watch Into It. Over It which was actually just one guy, Evan Weiss. I was really impressed with his set. He reminded me a lot of acoustic Starting Line which is a big compliment from me because I love their acoustic EP. In all seriousness if I had been more talented or maybe more serious when I was in a band in Phoenix Into It. Over It is what my music would have aspired to sound like. We talked to him for a little while after his set and I bought his newest release, Proper, on vinyl.
We went back in for AJJ's set. It was amazing despite some minor technical sound issues in the beginning. They played a wide range of stuff and ended with "Principito" which is one of my favorites. I don't have much more to say about the actual show other than I loved it and my voice is pretty scratchy from singing along for the whole set. My wife says the next show we go to we should bring kazoos. That may not be a bad idea.
After their set we went back outside and talked to the band some more and made some new friends. While we were talking to Ben we met a guy named John. I may have misheard, but I believe John knew the band because he played some shows with them in New Mexico. He told us he just moved to Austin about 10 months ago. Normally I'm wary of strangers trying to talk to me at shows because 9 out of 10 times they're either too drunk or too high to string a sentence together, but John was actually pretty awesome and he was extremely articulate. I wish I could communicate an idea half as well as he did, but even when I write I tend to ramble and by the time I stop writing I've often landed way off the original point I was trying to make. We talked to him for a good part of the rest of the night about music, living in Austin and our mutual love of the Alamo Drafthouse. He also said some very nice things about us as a couple which is always nice to hear. John was a cool guy and hopefully we'll see him around again sometime.
At one point Ben asked me, "So, wait, are you the turtle guy?" I just laughed and said, yeah I guess I am the turtle guy. "Oh, OK. I knew the turtle guy was coming, and that he was really excited for the show, I just didn't make the connection that you were him." Then I had to explain to Evan (Into It. Over It) what he meant by turtle guy and Ben told me that Sean is a fan of the blog. I told him that's weird to me and he just said, "Maybe it's not weird, maybe it's perfect." I didn't talk to Sean about the blog so I'll choose to take that with a grain of salt and believe that he was a fan of my Principito post and that he maybe occasionally looks at other posts when he sees them on Twitter. Whatever the truth is that's pretty cool that it made an impression.
We missed the last band, which kind of sucks because I think we would have liked them, but we got started talking to AJJ, Evan and John and just kind of kept talking. They were good conversations so I won't beat myself up too much about it.
So, that was our awesome night at the Andrew Jackson Jihad show that I turned into a long and probably very boring story. I hope you enjoyed it. As I usually do when writing a post about a band I'll leave you with some music, but I'll also leave you with something extra.
I'm not much for quoting other people. I don't keep mantras and clever lines in my head to remind me of things or to impress other people, but I do have two Andrew Jackson Jihad lyrics that come into my head unannounced all the time that remind me to relax and not take everything so seriously. The first is from a song called "Evil."
I Will always appreciate bad days like this,
Because they grant me a point of reference in regards to my happiness.
Number two is the chorus from the song "Rejoice."
Rejoice despite the fact this world will hurt you.
And rejoice despite the fact this world will kill you.
And rejoice despite the fact this world will tear you to shreds.
Rejoice because you're trying your best.
Now rejoice and enjoy a couple more songs.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Tonight we're going to Andrew Jackson Jihad and tomorrow is mc chris. I've very excited about both of these shows so expect a post on them this week. Now, it's time to get ready to leave.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Today is another quick one. We relaxed today, but tomorrow is exciting because it's time for the Andrew Jackson Jihad show at Emo's. So I leave you with Raphael in a classic Ninja Turtle pose of a flying jump kick. You can tell he's going fast because of the speed lines.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I may have mentioned once or twice that my wife and our friend Shaun are in a stage adaptation of Night of the Living Dead this month. I may have also mentioned that I don't act and therefore will not be taking part in the show. Out of all of the shows that Weird City Theatre Company has put on I've only taken an active role in one. I was a stage hand and extra in Nosferatu two years ago and while I did enjoy it I don't plan on doing it again any time soon. I had theater nightmares and I wasn't even really on stage!
So, since I refuse to help on stage I offer my assistance whenever I can which is how I end up helping with set build and strike for every show my wife is in. I don't mind. If doing manual labor means I can be a part of the company without being actively involved in making sure a show runs smoothly then I'm more than happy to assist. Which brings me to my picture for the day. Today we started building the set for Night of the Living Dead in John's driveway. It didn't get quite finished, but I think most of the bigger parts, like building the walls, got done. Anyway, that's why I drew the Turtles building a set. They all seem to be doing pretty well except Michelangelo who smashed his thumb with a hammer. It happens I suppose.