Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 276: Donatello Has Chigger Bites

Have you ever had chigger bites? Have you ever heard of them? If not let me enlighten you.

Chiggers are almost microscopic insects from the mite family. As larva they live in grassy areas on the ends of tall grasses. When you brush against the grass they transfer to your clothes or skin and then the real fun starts. They excrete digestive enzymes to feed on skin cells, and once they've fed they detach and go through their remaining life stages harmless to humans. Unfortunately those digestive enzymes create redness, pimple-like heads or hives on the bites and intense itching. Because of the combination of causes--enzymes, allergic reaction/immune response & possible bacterial infection--no remedy works the same for everyone. There are about a million suggestions with how to deal with these bites, but there isn't one universal cure.

Now that you're up to speed on chiggers (not their real name, obviously) can you guess why I'm writing a blog post about them? Yes. I have them. All over my ankles, feet and legs. And it is miserable.

I was helping out on a film shoot this weekend in a park and I neglected to take proper precautions to ward of bug bites. After we got home a few hours later I started to feel my ankles itching and, sure enough, by the end of the night I had red bumps all over my legs. For me it's not so bad when I'm not moving, but as soon as I have to walk anywhere the combination of my socks, shoes and pant legs rubbing against the bites is unbearable.

I've tried a few different remedies, but none of them seem to work completely. I've only had chigger bites once before, but the thing that seemed to help was putting clear nail polish over them. People do that because they think the bugs have burrowed into your skin and are still there so by putting nail polish over the bites you're suffocating them. Really by the time you start itching they have most likely detached, but the nail polish seems to help by putting a protective layer over the bite to keep it from being constantly rubbed by clothing while they heal.

Maybe it seems like this is a bit of an overreaction, to take these small bites so seriously, but I can honestly say bug bites generally don't bother me. I get mosquito bites all the time during the summer and I have no problem ignoring them and they're usually gone within an hour, same thing with most other irritating insects, but chigger bites are on a whole other level. Do a Google search for them and see what other people say. If you've never had them consider yourself lucky. If you have then you know exactly what I mean.

The only comfort I can take in this experience is that they especially like places where your skin or clothing is tight or folded (ie. feet/ankles, knees, etc.) and I hear they can move into and bite much more sensitive areas than your legs, but that hasn't happened to me, thankfully.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 275: Donatello Goes Camping

It's been a little while since my last update. I've been mostly off the internet for over a week. Part of that was due to the fact that I was wrapped up in Mass Effect 2 for a week, but the other reason is because my wife and I went camping for a few days last week.

We had made plans to visit some family, but it ended up not working out so instead we decided to take a last minute camping trip for a couple of days at Garner State Park about three hours from where we live in Austin, TX. We also decided to bring our dog, Master Samwise the Brave since he's never been camping with us.

The park turned out to be really nice and because it was the middle of the week we had practically the whole place to ourselves. We got a spot right near the river so we were never more than a short walk away from the water.

The first night we were there we didn't have any food to cook for ourselves so we drove a few miles down the road towards a small town and we found an awesome bar called Buckhorn. There were only five other people in the bar when we got there including the owners. The woman behind the bar offered to make us some food and told us we just missed an amazing musician auditioning to play at the bar later in the week. As we were eating he decided to play some songs for us and it was amazing! We got a free private show and we did a little dancing. He really was good and it turned out to be a great bit of luck that we stopped in.

The next day there were a bunch of hiking paths throughout the park that we had access to. We were both amazed by how well Sam did on the trails. He is easily the clumsiest dog I have ever seen, but on the steep, rocky hiking trails he was like a freaking mountain goat! He did better than we did and by the end of the day he was beat. We tried to get him to swim a bit, but he wouldn't voluntarily go any deeper than his chest. I put him in a little further a couple of times, but he instantly turned and swam back to the shore.

The night before we left it stormed pretty bad, but we stayed nice and dry in our tent that we affectionately named "Tent Mansion" when we bought it for a camping trip to Marfa, TX last year with some friends. It fit two full sized air mattresses with room to spare in Marfa, and this time with just us and the dog it seemed even more huge.

After we packed up it was a bit of a bummer to come back to the real world, but it was a pretty great mini-camping trip and I'd definitely like to go back to Garner State Park for another visit.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 274: Michelangelo is a Drug Dealer

This post is not entirely about Michelangelo selling drugs. It's partly about that, but only in a round-about way. Really this post is about a book. An awesome book that you can read the first part of right now for only $2!

So there's this guy, Robert Brockway, who writes from, one of my favorite time-wasting internet sites. I have long counted Mr. Brockway among a handful of my favorite columnists/contributors to the site and I really enjoyed his book Everything is Going to Kill Everybody. In fact I liked it so much (and happened to be reading it at the time that I started this blog) that it inspired my Day 3 post and picture.

Well, guess what? Robert Brockway has written another book... sort of. I mean he wrote this thing, and it's book length, but you can't physically buy it in a store and only the first episode (of three) is out. Did I mention it's only $2? Here's the run-down:

RX: A Tale of Electronegativity is a sort of dystopian-future sci-fi adventure tale. It stars Red, a drug user/pusher/inventor/tester who wakes up in a strange place after testing a new type of drug and wacky hijinks ensue! Generally these hijinks leave him in mortal danger, or at least pants-less. Co-starring are QC and Byron who have their own set of problems and, in my mind at least, are the perfect balancing characters to round out Red's ultimate adventuring party. Well, maybe not Byron, he seems pretty goddamn useless, but you need a third so who am I to argue?

This shit's full of crazy nano-tech mixed with lots and lots of drug use (and some robots). It's pretty awesome and there are a number of ways to enjoy it. Allow me to elaborate.

Visit the official website here to read about the story and buy your digital download of Episode 1:

After that you have a couple of options for getting the rest once they're released.

1) Just, you know, wait for them to come out and then pay your $2. It shouldn't take too long; Episodes 2 and 3 have already been written.
2) Write a review for Episode 1 and submit it by following the instructions on the site to get your name on a list for a free copy of Episode 2
3) The best option? Kickstart that shit.

There is a Kickstarter campaign going on for two more days in association with this book. This is not to fund the book, but is more like a pre-order program complete with bonus gifts. I suggest doing this because in addition to getting Episodes 2 and 3 you can also help fund a game based on Episode 1! Only catch is the video game only happens if he hits the $7,500 mark. So, you know, give generously and all that.

I hope this has inspired you to check out RX: A Tale of Electronegativity. I was initially intrigued by the unique approach to publishing and the low price point, but I ended up really liking the story so I hope some of you will take a chance on it as well.

As for why I chose Mikey for the picture, my first thought was Donatello because he's the only one smart enough to synthesize these drugs, but he's really more of a tech guy and Red is pretty anti-technology, at least in the form of his own enhancements. After all, it might interfere with the drugs. Out of the other three Turtles I think Michelangelo comes closest to Red's interesting lifestyle. This picture depicts Red at the beginning of the story, waking up in a strange place amidst the ruins of a maintenance bot with his arm display flashing "OVERDOSE." All-in-all not a great way to start a hangover.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 273: The Turtles Visit Middle Earth

In my last post I mentioned, briefly, my love of Middle-earth and everything it encompasses. Today I'd like to expand a bit on that.

The reason it's been on my mind lately is that my wife, after reading The Hobbit several times in the past made up her mind to finally finish The Lord of the Rings. She's tried before, but never got past The Fellowship of the Ring, and as much of a fan as I am I can totally understand. Tolkien's writing is not everyone's cup of tea; he's very descriptive and his love of lengthy discussions far outweighs the amount of action in the story. But we both love Peter Jackson's film adaptations and the recent trailers for part one of The Hobbit have us very excited to see Martin Freeman as a young Bilbo. So in anticipation of re-entering the epic film version of Middle-earth she decided to finally finish the series, and she did complain about some parts being boring and Tolkien's uncanny ability to kill momentum but overall she really enjoyed it.

As for me? I love it all. The councils, the walking, the endless discussions of old legends, the songs (especially the songs!); all those things that make the books difficult or boring for most people are the things I love. I wasn't always this way, though. My love of Middle-earth is one that has been growing since I first read The Hobbit sometime around 4th Grade. Tolkien's writing is sometimes a bit weighty, especially for a child, but The Hobbit is much more accessible and I've always read things at a higher level than my age. I enjoyed it even if I didn't understand it all and then I moved on to The Lord of the Rings since I had them all in a convenient box set my aunt had given me.

At first I was really only interested in the story. There was so much needless trudging through forests and across plains and talking and singing (those fucking songs!). I remember distinctly giving up on the songs early on and just skipping over them when I first read the books. Or how about Tom Bombadil? What about that guy?

If you've read the books or were a big fan of the movies you likely know Tom Bombadil. Purists crucified Peter Jackson for his omission of the character, while other people were so happy to not have to listen to one of his stupid songs. Personally when I first read the books I hated Tom Bombadil, but now I love that guy! He's such a great character, but if you look at the story objectively he isn't really necessary and I think Peter Jackson did the right thing in leaving him out. I think I'll include a bit of him, though, as this is my blog.

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! Fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master:
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.
Over time I continued to revisit the books and I began to get drawn more into the world rather than just the events of the story. I started to wonder about the Elves and where Sauron came from and all those things fantasy nerds wonder about. I started reading the songs and paying more attention to the smaller, seemingly insignificant details. Eventually I read The Silmarillion which was the most amazing thing that ever happened to someone wanting to know more about Middle-earth and its origins.

The Silmarillion is the Middle-earth bible, and not in the sense that it's a great reference book. It's the Middle-earth bible in the sense that it starts out with the creation and shaping of the world, and moves on through the tales of the ages from there. This is not something I would recommend to a casual fan of the series unless you're really really interested in Elvin genealogy.

So here I am, now (sort-of) an adult with a deep love of all things Middle-earth. I don't really have strong feelings about that world becoming "cool." I know a lot of people hate seeing things they love get popular and bastardized by the mainstream, but that's really never mattered much to me. I'm happy that more people have been exposed to what was my introduction to the fantasy genre, but I realize most people won't take it as far as I have. That's fine. Everyone else can move on and forget about the Hobbits and Ents; I'll continue to love Tolkien's world for my own reasons.

About the picture, it kind of looks like the Fellowship, except there were nine member of the Fellowship and only four Turtles. I just tried to represent the major races matching the personalities of the Turtles as much as possible. Leonardo is men, but in his case specifically a ranger. They're from an old blood-line of the first kings and much more noble than your average Joe. Donatello is an elf (even though that kinda looks like a Gondorian pattern on his vest). I don't really have a good reason for this except that I've always liked the elves. In hindsight he should have been a wizard. Magic is as close as you can get to technology in Middle-earth without being evil. Raph is a dwarf, of course. Red beard mixed with a love of fighting and quick temper? done. Michelangelo, I feel, best represents the Hobbits. Why fight when you can eat, drink, smoke and generally enjoy life to the fullest?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 272: Donatello's Birthday Party

Guess what? My birthday was a few days ago. Ordinarily I don't get too excited for my birthday. I don't hate getting older--most of the time I have to do mental calculations to remember exactly how old I am--I just feel a little uncomfortable with the amount of focus people put on me all of a sudden for one day. This is not to say I haven't enjoyed my birthdays. I've had some good times, last night included. I didn't have a party; we just met some friends for dinner. I got lots of cool Spider-Man and TMNT stuff including the new IDW Volume 1 collection of the original comics autographed by Kevin Eastman!

My wife took the theme of the night in a different, but equally nerdy direction (she threw me a TMNT party a few years ago; I'll get to it in a bit). Over the last few years she's really cultivated a love for baking and decorating things and she's gotten pretty damn good. One of my other (many) loves is Tolkien's Middle Earth. I love all of it, not just Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, but the entire world and all its lore.--

Before I start rambling about Middle Earth I'm going to stop here and promise to explore this in another post.

--My wife has read The Hobbit several times, just finished Lord of the Rings all the way through for the first time and we're both waaaay excited about the upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit. So this year, she made me a book cake. An awesome book cake that looks like it has real pages and... just look at this thing!

It's huge and awesome and, most importantly, delicious. I chose Strawberry cake without knowing what she was making, so she put a cream cheese layer. Get it? Strawberry's and Cream Cake. As in, "Do you remember the taste of strawberry's and cream, Mr. Frodo?" There are layers of meaning to this cake (as well as just regular layers).

So anyway, I drew this picture of Donatello (me) ready to blow out his candles on his birthday. I'm going off the assumption that the Turtles aren't really brothers in the genetic sense and so they celebrate different birthdays. The others aren't screaming in horror, they're singing "Happy Birthday" to him.


Instead of writing a big long post about my birthday this year I thought I'd share a few pictures from my TMNT birthday from a few years ago.

 My sweet Donatello cake

Ninja Turtle cupcakes made by my good friend Crystal! The TMNT heads were ring party favors.

My friend graciously let me cut the cake with the broken hilt of Narsil. 
Apparently cutting cakes with a sword is a thing I do. I cut my Spider-Man groom's cake with a samurai sword.


Here are a few pictures my mom gave me of when I was younger. Proof that I have always loved the turtles.

Me at 5 years-old. Note my coordinated outfit.
 My 6th birthday cake.

6 year-old me at some school carnival thing.
Clearly they didn't have a Donatello cut out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 271: Donatello Pets a Stegosaurus

Did I mention last post how awesome Stegosauruses are? Because they are incredibly awesome. Clearly they are the best kind of dinosaur. I mean, just look at that guy! He's got awesome spikes on his tail for defense, but he's not a mean dino. Plus, check out those sweet plates. He was rockin' a full-body mohawk before mohawks were even a thing! Stegosauruses were the original punks. They probably got along with everyone too. They were probably like the cool guy at the party who feels comfortable talking to everyone and who everyone likes to talk to because he's got confidence. Stegos don't need your approval. They thrive on their own majesty so you can either get with their program and be a cool guy too or get eaten by a bunch of compys like the little baby your are.

You can keep your T-Rexes and Velociraptors (which weren't as scary as Jurassic Park made them seem, you guys); if you're lookin for me I'll be at the arcade kickin it with my pal, Stegosaurus, because Stegosauruses probably love video games.

Side note: When I drew this my wife commented on what a good drawing of a stegosaurus it was. She was unaware that I used to draw them almost as much as I used to draw Ninja Turtles, so that's where my skill comes from.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 270: Teenage Mutant Jurassic Park

I've been re-reading Jurassic Park and The Lost World. I first read those books when I was probably in fourth grade and at the very beginning of my Michael Crichton fan days. My wife recently bought me the Jurassic Park/Lost World Barnes & Noble collected edition with the white embossed cover and silver-edged pages so I decided to revisit what I remembered being a great book.

Not to discourage anyone from reading it, but Jurassic Park did not entertain me in quite the same way the second time around. It was, even in what should have been the most exciting parts, kind of boring; Crichton's writing style leaves something to be desired when there is action involved. On top of that the characters are almost entirely unlikable or, at best, boring. More often than not I was rooting for Ian Malcolm to die to save me from reading another simplistic diatribe on the magical predictive properties of chaos theory. Even Mr. Hammond doesn't seem like the wide-eyed child he is in the movie, but just a greedy salesman. He doesn't even really seem to care that his grand kids are lost in the park with a rampaging T-Rex.

I don't say this very often, but in this case I feel like the movie was much better than the book. The characters are better developed so you invest more in their survival and the creepy charm of Jeff Goldblum balances out the asshole in Ian Malcolm. Plus, Samuel L. Jackson, amiright? Really my only beef with the movie is no Stegosaurus cameos. What the hell, Spielberg? They were/are* amazing and majestic creatures; clearly the best dinosaurs ever. They should have been included in the film.

The Lost World is another story, because I don't really remember much about the movie except that the first time I saw it I thought, "Wow, this isn't really like the book at all." I have to say, I am enjoying The Lost World much more than I did Jurassic Park. Maybe it's because I didn't have the preconceived notions from the film version, or maybe it's just written better.

So, about the drawing. This is a call back to one of the most classic scenes from the movie with Muldoon, Ellie and Ian Malcolm being chased by the T-Rex. I made put Donatello in Ian Malcom's place because they're both smart guys, but then I realized almost everyone in the movie is some sort of scientist and Raph probably has the closest personality to Malcolm. Oh well, next time I do a Jurassic Park drawing I'll remember that.

In related Jurassic Park news everyone needs to go here and donate some money check this out.

Do you remember when I posted about my friend being in Aliens on Ice? Well that theater company is planning a tour to bring their unique version of Jurassic Park to cities across the country. They've got a Kickstarter going to raise the money and they're so very very close they've made it! When I first wrote this post two days ago there was still time to donate and secure a ticket to a showing, but due to circumstances beyond my control I'm only just now posting it. You should still go to the kickstarter page for information on where and when you can see the show.

*Stegosauruses are very much alive and well in my dreams.


I mentioned once that I was supposed to post this two days ago. I tried to scan it last night and couldn't do it so I left the picture next to the computer. When I sat down to scan it just now I found this note from my wife. She told me she added the "No joke" part because she didn't want me to think she was being sarcastic. Thanks for the compliments and appreciating my art.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 269: Turtle Cookies

Today was supposed to be a Jurassic Park themed drawing, but then I left all my drawing stuff at home and didn't have time to draw my picture after work. Turns out I actually did a drawing, just not a traditional one. My wife, Shaun and I went to see Andrew Jackson Jihad tonight and my wife made them cookies to which I added a little box art.

I won't write a narrative about the whole night because my last post about an AJJ show was pretty long and I'm also pretty tired and running on about 3 hours of sleep, but it was a great show.

We got to the venue a little late because I ended up working late. There were (I think) six bands playing but we only heard a little bit of about half of them. We hung out on the outdoor balcony of the venue for a good portion of the night because it was so nice out.

We talked to AJJ's merch guy, Evan, for a while. He was very excited for the cookies as well as for my wife and Shaun's Princess Bride t-shirts (I swear they didn't both wear Princess Bride shirts on purpose). It was also his birthday so we high-fived for April birthdays (mine's next week) and left him a tip to speed him on his way to a hazy birthday.

While we were on the balcony Ben (AJJ bassist) sat with us for a little while. We've had several semi-lengthy conversations with him and he's always a super nice guy. Sean's nice too, but we didn't see him until after the show was over. One thing I love about seeing them live is they're always so friendly with everyone they meet and are willing to hang around and talk to the fans.

The show was amazing. They started out playing acoustic like usual, but then played the last half of the set as a full electric band. If I'm not mistaken this is the first time they've toured with a full band and it was really pretty great. The band turned what was already a fun time into a true punk show. Mosh pits opened up and people were crowd surfing. It got a little crazy, but it was a lot of fun.

I'm starting to ramble due to exhaustion so I think I'll leave it at this. The show was great, the guys were great and I'm already looking forward to their next stop in Austin.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 268: Titanic: A Metaphor

This was my original idea for a TMNT Titanic drawing. It's a metaphor for Leonardo and Raphael's relationship throughout much of the Turtles' history, always butting heads and breaking down their teamwork. Of course in this version Raphael kills Leonardo along with around 1,500 other people, so...

It's not a perfect metaphor, but you get the idea.

I also realized that in yesterday's post I erroneously colored the stripe along the deck of the ship red when it should have been white. Please excuse this oversight. I strive for realism in my images and I should have fact checked myself before coloring.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 267: Titanic (Fan Request)

This is not just any fan request. This is a request from my biggest fan... my wife. Let me backtrack a bit and explain.

My wife, aside from being a big space nerd, is also a big Titanic nut. Now I don't just mean she loves the movie Titanic, though she does (I'll get to that shortly); she legitimately is a Titanic fan, or at least as much of a fan as you can be of an event that killed over fifteen hundred people. She's fascinated by the whole story and has read books about almost every aspect of it making her pretty much the Titanic authority among everyone we know (besides maybe her mom).

Now, couple that interest in the historic event with her love of Leonardo DiCaprio (which I think started with Titanic, but let's not split hairs) and it should be obvious that Titanic is one of her favorite movies of all times. And if you hadn't heard that it's back in theaters in 3D right now for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the sinking, well, now you know.

So long story short, we saw Titanic in 3D last night.

I will go on record right now and say two things that I'm sure will prompt my wife to keep a hard copy of this blog somewhere to refer back to in the future. First, in my opinion Leonardo DiCaprio has proven himself to be a pretty goddamn good actor (plus he's named Leonardo) and second Titanic is actually a really good movie. We've been over-saturated with images of it since 1997 and it's become something of a joke, but really, it was damn impressive when it came out and it still is. There's a reason it won all of those Oscars.

Anyway we saw Titanic last night and I was really impressed with the upconversion to 3D. It looked really good, way better than Thor which I think was the last 3D movie I saw. And I'll let you know right now I hate this 3D movie trend. I think 3D is a bullshit excuse to charge an extra three to five bucks per ticket and if given the choice I will take 2D almost every time (Pixar is the exception. Their movies are gorgeous in 3D and they can do no wrong in my eyes). So, yeah, the 3D actually looked good and wasn't distracting, and unlike most 3D movies it wasn't dark or muddy at all. I may not like all of his work, but James Cameron is a technical genius.

So we watched the movie and everyone cried (except me cause Titanic makes me sad, but not like that) and I snickered a little every time they showed a shot of the stars because all I could think about was Neil deGrasse Tyson getting all snarky with James Cameron. I also couldn't help but make mental jokes about Lord Theoden captaining the ship and Professor Perry sneaking radioactive mutagen onboard. Plus, I don't have a problem with my wife drooling over Leo so I made sure to give her a thumbs up when Kate Winslet dropped her robe for the portrait scene just to let her know I was enjoying the movie as well.

After we got home I talked to her a little about what I had been planning on posting here, but hadn't had time to do.

Me: I was planning on doing a Titanic inspired drawing. I thought of a good one.

Em: Oh god, is it a "draw me like one of your French girls" scene?

Me: No.

Em: Is it "I'm the king of the world!" with Casey Jones and April O'niel?!

Me: No, but that's not actually a bad idea.

Em: No, wait, can it be me and Leonardo-(at this point I honestly thought she was talking about Leonardo the ninja turtle)-DiCaprio?... And the ninja turtles can be killing Hal and Lovejoy in the background with x's over their eyes so we can be happy forever!

Me: Umm...

Em: You know, you said you would do fan requests.

Me: That's true.

Em: And I am your biggest fan.

Me: Haha OK, you have a point.

So there you have it. I don't think she expected I would really draw this, but I did because she is my biggest fan and it was a pretty funny idea. I know, all of my humans look terrible, but sue me. All I ever learned how to draw with any regularity was ninja turtles.

So tomorrow I'll be back with my original idea for a Titanic drawing. I promise the post will be much shorter.


A bit of unrelated news: new blog friend Jaime wrote an awesome post about this blog yesterday. She's got a great site and she's a huge Ninja Turtle fan so you know she's cool. I have plans to add a couple things here and one of them is a list of web friends and sites I personally enjoy and her's will definitely be on the list. In the mean time go check her blog out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 266: Master Splinter Molding Young Minds

It was recently pointed out to me by an anonymous reader that in the 9 or so months that I've been posting to this blog I have yet to draw a picture featuring Splinter. I've done all the Turtles, Shredder, Casey Jones; I even did a picture with Venus de Milo, the most universally hated character from any of the iterations, but somehow I missed Splinter. Well I'm here to remedy that right now. Splinter is an important part of the Turtles' mythology and he needs to be represented. So here's Splinter imparting his wisdom on his young pupils. Ironically I didn't intend to make the Turtles look young, but they kinda do anyway. And no, I don't know why the Turtles in the foreground are smaller than the ones further away. Perspective is not my strong suit.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 265: Journey (Again)

You may or may not remember my lengthy post about my 20 minute preview of the game Journey from last year. It was full of flowery words and lots of praise about why Journey was my number one most anticipated game for this year. Well the full game finally came out almost three weeks ago and I just played it today. The reason it took me so long was because for games like this I prefer to wait to start until I know I can give it my undivided attention for at least a couple of hours. With Journey I wanted to have the house to myself long enough to play it through in its entirety (which ended up being about 2 hours).

Now onto the game.

I've started this "review" three times now and deleted several hundred words worth. It's hard to write about the mechanics of the game without in some way taking away from the things that I found amazing about it. The gameplay is simple and well developed, but at its heart this game is about creating an emotional journey for the player as you lead your character on a literal one. The sense of isolation, even when paired with another player, is immense. I've said it many times, but it really reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus which is one of my favorite games of all time.

Of course in the game you're not alone. A major part of the emotional journey is sharing it with the random companion you are paired with. It's strange how connected you can feel to a perfect stranger when you can't talk to them and don't even know their name. It makes communication more difficult in some ways, but in the end you feel an attachment to this person because you're in this adventure together with literally no one else to help you see it through. While the game does make you feel isolated, you don't ever feel alone, and that is incredibly comforting, especially in the end.

When I finally completed the last long struggle with my companion it was sad and exciting and sort of unbelievable all at once. I don't want to get into plot details, but there was a real sense of "if you can't make it, I'm not going to make it" about the whole thing. That's not a gameplay feature, you can absolutely make it on your own, but by the end you don't want to.

I feel like I want to say so many things about my one brief play-through, but my words seem inadequate to capture the feeling of the game. It's really something you have to experience to understand. I realize this is not a game for everyone, but the people that get it will love it.

The levels, characters and mechanics are simplistic, but beautiful; the music is beyond amazing. These things make the game worth playing but it's the emotion thatgamecompany was able to tap into that make it more than memorable. I don't know how many times I'll revist Journey but I do know I'll never forget my first.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 264: Raph on Patrol Alt. Angle (Fan Request)

Yesterday I posted a reader request. Her original request was for Raph on a building overlooking the city. I debated on the point of view for the picture for a while then decided why not do both? So today you get the other side of yesterday's picture. I'm pretty happy with this one.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 263: Raph on Patrol (Fan Request)

The word "fan" may be a bit strong; "person who found my Twitter" may be more accurate. So far I haven't taken any requests, but only because no one's made any. She complimented the blog and asked if I would do one so I guess as of now my policy on requests is yes, I'll take them. Some days I have a hard time coming up with ideas, so why not fill the gaps with requests?

Anyway, she asked for, "Raph on the roooftops overlooking the city? I'd be happy with anything Raph though." So here's what I drew. I'm pretty happy with this one, all I can say is perspective has never been my strong suit, along with body shapes or geometric shapes in general or coloring inside the lines.

I infused a bit of Spider-Man into this one with Raph crouching on a terribly ugly gargoyle and I watched the first few episodes of the original cartoon series while drawing it for some good old school inspiration.

*Update* I feel like an idiot, but I was so excited to get a request I forgot to mention the fan that requested this picture.

The pic was done for Jaime and you should go check out her awesome nerdy blog at

In the future I will make this a more standard process.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 262: Leonardo Cleans

Last night my wife and I were laying in bed reading like we do every night. Well, that's not entirely true. I was reading; she was talking about how she wanted to read, but she was so tired she would probably fall asleep after two pages, but I should go get her book because she left it in the living room and she wanted to read and might not be able to get to sleep if she didn't read. **Spoiler alert** I didn't go get her book and she fell asleep two seconds after the following conversation anyway.

So I was reading a Donatello one-shot that my friend bought me at the comic shop when my wife posed a question.

Em: So Raphael is cool, but rude, right? So that's what he has going for him.

Me: Yeah, and Michelangelo is a party dude.

Em: So he's the fun one.

Me: Yes.

Em: And Leonardo... cleans?

Me: What? No, Leonardo leads; he's their leader, and Donatello does machines.

Em: Oh leads I guess that makes more sense... but that's dumb, leads doesn't even rhyme with machines. Cleans rhymes with machines.

Me: OK.

Em: So who cleans?

Me: What? No one cleans; they're turtles. Have you ever seen their lair? It's a mess!

Em: Well that should have been the first ninja lesson Splinter taught them: how to clean up after yourself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 261: The Turtles Are the Expendables

A few nights ago my wife and I watched The Expendables. I know, we're behind the times. We just missed it when it was in theaters, but we have a good friend who is especially fond of these kinds of over-the-top explosion fests and she let us borrow it yesterday. I have to say I really liked it, even though Stallone's face is kind of a like a creepy doll's, like they got a wax statue of Stallone to stand in for him in the movie. I only know that's not the case because all those explosions would have melted a wax statue. I especially liked when Terry Crews and Stallone Wonder Twinned the shit out of the helicopter at the end and by becoming form of a missile launcher and shape of a person shooting at a loose warhead respectively (I apologize for that terrible analogy). Even better than all the explosions and bullets is the fact that Jason Stathem is in 90% of the film.

I have to admit something. I have a bit of a man-crush on Jason Statham because he is awesome, and that's just a fact. He is a bad ass in 90% of his roles. His film jobs have undoubtedly provided him with lots of amazing skills like stunt driving and fighting techniques, plus he's got an English accent, and not a proper soft-sounding accent, a real kick-your-ass, soccer hooligan type accent. Did you know he used to be a black market salesman (details are sketchy on this. I assume it means he sold like fake watches and purses, but you never know, it could've been guns)? Did you know he was a world class diver on Britain's National Diving Squad? Did you know he does most of his own stunts because he's a real life bad ass and has a background in mixed martial arts? Did you know he's been in three separate films where his character's been attacked with an axe? Well now you know. Jason Statham: awesomest guy I wish I knew.

Everyone go out and watch three Jason Statham movies right now and you'll be inspired, and be granted the skills, to hunt down an evil drug lord or gang leader and throw a knife right into their face.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 260: Leonardo As Wander

Today's picture is a reference to one of my favorite games of all time: Shadow of the Colossus. I got the ICO/Shadow of Colossus HD remake for Christmas and I finally got around to playing it. ICO was new to me and very well done, but Shadow of Colossus is beyond amazing, even now. The amount of emotion that game is able to tap into with such a simple story and very little dialog is amazing. It creates a real sense of isolation and a grandiose sense of purpose in your quest. It also made me feel very conflicted. The point of the quest is to seek out and kill 16 colossi in a forbidden valley, but with most of colossi I was sad to see them die. It's hard to put into words exactly how this game makes me feel, but it left a very strong impression the first time I played it and I highly recommend it to anyone who looks for an emotional gameplay experience.

In the picture Leonardo is the main character, Wander, from the game. He's clinging to the back of a colossus and preparing to stab its vital sign to destroy it.

I also decided to use my day off to do something I've been considering doing for a while now. I've always liked those high speed videos of people creating art pieces because it shows you how someone can make something amazing from nothing so I decided to do my own. My art style is incredibly unique and I knew that everyone was wondering how I can make such amazing drawings. Well, here you go. A few notes:
  • The notebook is the same style I've used to draw 99% of my pictures.
  • I always start with pen first unless it's a special drawing.
  • I never start over. All mistakes have to be assimilated into the drawing.
  • Most pictures take between 10 and 20 minutes to finish.
  • These are new colored pencils I stole from my wife. My old set was getting pretty worn.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 259: They're Back (And So Am I)

"Oh my god, it's been months since the last Turtle a Day update!" cried no one in the history of ever. "What is going on?!"

While my readership is small and (mostly) comprised of friends and relatives I feel an explanation for my absence is order, so here goes...

I am lazy and easily preoccupied.

Remember all those posts where I got really overly excited about something for little or no reason at all? Well that happens a lot, it's sort of my personality. I become intensely obsessed with things very quickly and then I seemingly move on. That's not entirely true because most times I just sort of tone things down a bit to keep from completely driving my friends insane/alienating everyone I know. That's kind of what happened here. I was really on board with doing this blog for a while and then it started to become, not less fun exactly, but definitely felt more time consuming.

Of course the other thing that happened is we went on vacation for like a week and a half. I did draw during that time, but we were so busy the drawings were "meh" at best and when we got home I didn't feel like scanning any of them right away. It got pushed back and eventually just didn't happen. Meanwhile you might remember back in December I got hit while sitting at a red light. I won't go into the details, but I was also dealing with that every single day during my vacation and for like another month after we got back. I won't rant about how insurance companies are evil, because I don't think they inherently are; they're companies, they exist to turn a profit, I understand this. I will however say that the adjuster you get assigned to your case can make a huge difference and some people are just miserable bitches for no other reason than to make everyone else as unhappy as they are. In short I had some excellent experiences with insurance adjusters and I had some terrible experiences with one adjuster in particular and these experiences were an almost daily occurence for like two months after we got hit.

On top of this I got like three new games for Christmas and I've spent a large amount of my free time playing those so... I don't really have a better excuse than to say playing video games is sometimes more fun than writing a blog.

I'll be perfectly honest, I've been talking to some of my friends about this and promising to get back to updating regularly, but it was nice taking a break and until a couple days ago I was really wondering if I wanted to start again. I guess I should thank Michael Bay for providing me such great inspiration that I couldn't help but post a new update yesterday.

The bottom line is this: I really do enjoy writing this blog even if no one ever reads it (though I know at least a few people do), but the pressure to draw something, scan it, upload it and write something even remotely interesting every day coupled with the guilt of missing a day makes it less fun. I've given it some thought and I think I'll stick to the same format as much as possible, but I won't force myself to post daily. This will hopefully alleviate some of the (invented) stress of doing a daily blog that can quickly turn super-boring for you and give me time to come up with something that you'll actually want to read.

To kind of catch up to where I'm at I've posted the drawings I did over Christmas and New Years and date them as if they were actually posted on time. The descriptions are minimal, but I did the pictures so I might as well use them.

I also continued drawing for about a week or so after we got back, but sadly I can't find that notebook. I have about a million of the same notebooks I got from work and I'm not sure what happened to the one I was using after Christmas. Oh well, those drawings were all phoned in anyway.

So to summarize: I'm back (yeah!) and the blog will stay mostly the same. My original goal for this was a picture a day for a year. I only lasted for about five and a half months, but, knowing myself, I only originally estimated I would keep it up for about 45 days. So I guess hooray for me?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day One Million! Emergency Michael Bay Movie Post

**Note: This is a long-winded post about my personal feelings on the upcoming film. If you just want to see the pictures I took scroll to the bottom.**

Wow, it's been almost three months since my last update. Christmas vacation and several other factors (mostly my own laziness) have all but killed Turtle A Day, but that's not the reason I decided to rez this blog. I'll write another post later today, maybe tomorrow, on where I've been and what the future holds for TaDblog, but the reason for this post is simple...


If you're here you've probably heard about the new Ninja Turtle movie set to release on Christmas Day of 2013 and all of the controversy surrounding it. If not allow me to summarize. Michael Bay is producing the movie and a video was recently released where he revealed that in his movie the Turtles would be aliens, not mutants. The internet predictably went ape-shit. Then after a day or two of letting everyone get really worked up (including the original theatrical voice of Michelangelo) he released another statement telling the fans to relax and chill out. If you want more in depth reading on this massive pop-culture clusterfuck I suggest this article from The Mary Sue. It combines most of what's happened so far and the author is a big TMNT fan so I support it.

Not surprisingly several people have asked for my opinion on this whole debacle and I have been kind of eager to make a general statement about this for anyone that cares (mostly my friends and family) because I'm not all that upset to be honest. Don't get me wrong, I would kick Michael Bay and his terrible ideas off the project if I could in hopes of getting a legitimately good Turtle movie, but I don't have that power.

My feelings are, at best, conflicted. I am an obsessive fan of things (Turtles definitely included), but I rarely turn fanboy over anything. In general I'm content to kind of let studios and creators do what they want with my favorite franchises under the belief that they can't ruin what I already love and sometimes they really are trying to make something awesome and unique. I don't get a say in the creation of most of my favorite things so mostly I just like to go along for the ride. It's for this reason I don't get so worked up about canon vs. non-canon material and I can enjoy (on a terrible terrible level) things like Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.

Did you ever see the movie Jumper? The movie was based on a novel and it was OK, but not great. I don't remember being really impressed by the film, but I do remember an interview with the author of the book and he said something that's stuck with me. I'm going to paraphrase a bit here, so don't crucify me if I misquote. He said when people ask him, "Aren't you afraid the movie will ruin your book?" he replies, "Why would it ruin my book? My book is right there on the shelf. The movie doesn't change that. If the movie gets more people to read the book that's a good thing, but the book will always be the same no matter how the movie turns out." When I heard that I thought, "Wow, that's a good way to look at it."

Basically Michael Bay can do whatever he wants in his Turtle movie; it won't change the comics or cartoons or other films. All those things we all loved about the Turtles will still be intact allowing us to either accept or reject (most likely reject) this new version. That's why I'm not actually all that upset about the changes he's making.

Now, let me tell you why I am pretty upset. Do you know how long it's been since the last Ninja Turtle movie? Five years. You know how many people saw that? Not many. I actually liked it, but like I said, I'm content to go along with the ride. This franchise hasn't really been taken seriously or given a legitimate budget since the early 90's. That's a long time for a series about giant talking turtles to hang on. Then out of nowhere there were talks of revitalizing the franchise with a big budget movie! This could have been Batman Begins for mutant reptiles! Then it all went to crap. When Michael Bay was attached I tried to stay positive. At least it was clear this movie would have a big budget and lots of exposure. It might be OK if they hired decent writers and a good director. However over the past few days it's become painfully clear this isn't going to be what any of us hoped it would be. Mostly I'm in mourning over the premature death of what really could have been the beginning of a new and awesome era in Ninja Turtle history.

I guess I should be thankful. Michael Bay, with a single sentence, has alleviated all the doubt and anxiety I would have surely suffered over the next two years wondering if this movie might be something amazing when it would have ultimately probably turned out to be a huge disappointment. Instead of giving us a Spider-Man 3 he's given us another Transformers; predictably bad from the beginning and therefore not technically a let down at all.


Now, the fact that my expectations have been set somewhere just above "non-existant" on this film doesn't mean I can't have some fun with it. I had a brainstorm yesterday about what the Turtles might think about this new origin story and from there things got a little ridiculous. Here's the proof. Special thanks to my wife for taking the pictures. She's a professional and way more talented with a camera than I am. Enjoy and for more on the anti-Bayification front be sure to follow @JudgementBay and @handsoffmyTMNT on Twitter.