Monday, December 19, 2005

The Oldest Artist's Tools are the Best


Here's a sketch I made in crayon of my little Mandy-Pandy. Actually, I drew it in orange crayon on green construction paper. Let's hear it for the magic of Photoshop!

TTFN
-Tony

Tony's Book Reviews

I just finished reading Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno. It's supposed to be the story of what happens to Vader immediately following the events of Revenge of the Sith.

So you'd have thought the book would have introduced Vader somewhere before page 50. Or that at least half the book would have involved him.

No such luck.

Rediculously, most of the book deals with a few Jedi we've never heard of before who somehow managed to escape Order 66. And, of course, one survives past the end of the story (can you say "setup for a future series of novels that will take place between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars, boys and girls?")

Skip this one. Your own imagination is probably much better.

TTFN
-Tony

Imagine There's No Illustration Friday...



There are some who say my imagination is twisted.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Narnia: Dance 10, Looks 3.

Well, it took half a century, and it probably never would have been done if not for the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise, but The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe has finally made it to the silver screen. It's being touted in many promotional circles as "a cross between The Passion of the Christ and Lord of the Rings."

Not.

Let me start by saying that as a child, this was my favorite book of all time. I was very impressed by how close the movie was to the actual book. Of course the action is jazzed up to get audience members' pulses going, and they've actually gave Susan a bit of character. (Let's face it, she really doesn't serve any purpose to the plot.) The characters were portrayed exactly as they should be. Hell, they even pulled off the "Father Christmas" shtick without getting corny. They were able to translate a children's book from the fifties to the big screen with flying colors. So, all in all, there was a lot of substance.

The problem is, especially in a fantasy movie, you also need a little bit of style.

I've never seen the Passion of the Christ, and I'm not going to get into the whole Aslan is Jesus thing, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who does not know the plot.

But this ain't no Lord of the Rings.

To be fair, there weren't any furry, fuzzy or hairy things in LOTR. Fur and hair is very hard and time consuming to do in CGI. Especially dynamic, flowing hair, hair that is blown in the breeze. Not only does every little hair have its own physics, but each hair effects the physics of every hair around it in a domino effect. Hair has a translucent/ shining/reflective quality to it. I have to admit that I was not even impressed with some of the shots in the over-hyped King-Kong trailer, because the sheen of Kong's hair is a dead giveaway that he is CGI.

Now, TLTW&TW is full of furry, hairy creatures, including two beavers that are far too cartoony (though miles better than the six-foot tall people in beaver suits in the the 90's BBC version,) and of course, there's Aslan, the titular Lion Himself. Every shot of Aslan, though I am sure they are top of the line, screams CGI.

And while that is forgivable, there are many other shots (the witch's sled zooming across the snow) that are obviously CGI or just badly composed. Even the lovely Jennifer caught a few shots that were obviously blue screened. On top of it all, many of the monster masks are obviously latex and fake.

Personally, I'd rather have substance over style any day, but suspension of disbelief is essential in a fantasy film. And if every ten minutes you're snapped out of it and realize that you're just watching a movie because the special effects are badly done, it takes away from the overall experience.

And one more thing. Although unicorns are mentioned in TLTW&TW, and the final book in the series features a unicorn, there is no mention of Peter riding a unicorn. Why is this worth mentioning? Well, obviously, someone at Disney just thought, "Hey, it's a kid's fantasy movie; let's have the lead boy ride into battle on a unicorn!" Sadly, I can only assume that no one in the making of the movie knows what unicorns are for. Unless, of course, it was done under the religious influence of the Walden Media group, wanting to assure moviegoers that all of the citizens of Narnia- especially those four kids- are virgins. Or else that unicorn would have ripped their hearts out.

So I would heartily recommend the movie to anyone and everyone who likes fantasy, or is a fan of the series. It's very well done, and dramatically perfect. Just be prepared to occasionally smirk. And watch out for those unicorns.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Blog Potpourri

1) Am I the only one who finds the tip cups that are appearing at cash registers everywhere obnoxious? Servers get paid less because they receive tips, and I don't mind tipping people who perform a service for me, (like when the building people have to fix something in the apartment) but sorry- cashiers are just doing their jobs!

2) Last night Joe asked me out of the blue if he'll go to heaven when he's dead

"Sure," I replied.

Next, he wanted to know if you eat in heaven. I told only if he wanted to, because he won't have a body- it'll be down here on earth.

"But will my eyes be open?" he asked.

I told him no, but it didn't matter because there wouldn't be anything to look at inside of the coffin anyway. This sent him into screaming fits of terror. He grabbed at me, screaming that he didn't want to die. If he didn't have a body, how would he hug me in heaven?

I calmed him down and asked if he ever dreamed that he was in school.

"Yes…"

I then asked him where his ears and eyes were when he was dreaming?

"Here in bed…"

"But you can see and hear in your dreams, even though your eyes and ears are here in bed, right?"

"…yeah…"

"Well, it's like that."

I explained that his body was a spacesuit to hold his soul. When you're born, your soul comes down from heaven to go inside of your spacesuit. When you're suit doesn't work anymore, you die. So it's very very important to take care of your spacesuit, to eat right, exercise, and not to drink to excess or do drugs, because that will mess up your spacesuit.

"Why did I come down from heaven to be in a spacesuit?" was, of course, the next question.

I told him that God was everywhere- including inside of him. God was here, in his spacesuit, so his job was to fill his life with joy, so God could feel the joy along with him.

Again, I have no idea where this conversation came from. However, this morning I received a phone call from Washington Memorial Cemetery, offering special deals to plots on couples. Yep- you heard right- they are now soliciting grave plots over the phone. So maybe everyone else knows something I don't…

TTFN
-Tony

Blue, Blue, My World is Blue…



Ah, ze Illustration Friday, she is once upon us. Ze word of ze week, she is "blue." If you do not get ze joke, ask your mozher…

TTFN
-Tony LaRocca

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Little People Claim It's How You Use It



Small. Illustration Friday.

Everything is relative.

That's not to say that your relatives are everything. They can be. They can want to be. Some relatives are very lonely. Some are lonely for everyone but you.

But I digress.

Speaking of relatives, to further illustrate the SMALL concept, here's a little forced perspective gag I did with my father and my son: The Amazing Grandpa Tony & Mighty Joe Young. This is a wmv file. You have to right click and "save link as" to play it!

-TTFN
Tony

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Have a clip!

I've added an audio clip to my profile. (Go under "profile" and click ye old "audio clip" button.) I thought everyone should hear my kind, gentle, romantic voice- in case anyone has any voice over work out there.

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Free to Play the Fool



Since I find myself sketching than not, I decided to make myself a deck of cards. After a few uninspiring starts, I decided instead to make my own Tarot deck. As far as I can tell- like any religious artifact- its worth is found in the belief of the thrower. Myself, I have no belief in it whatsoever, and if I did, I'd believe in something I made myself much more than something I bought in the "New Age" section at Borders. Either way, it seems like a fun thing to make.

Being a fool is freedom in itself- freedom from responsibility, guilt, or choices. It's us wise schmucks that are all wracked and twisted inside.

TTFN
Tony

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An Open Message to The NY Daily News, The NY Post, and Any One Else in the Media Who Does Not Have Two Brain Cells to Rub Together.

Thanks, all of you who reported that the Firefighter-Impersonating Rapist is- or WAS- being tracked by his MTA card. Now, of course, the son of a bitch will get a new MTA card that he will pay cash for, that can't be tracked back to him. Who knows- maybe he'll sell his existing card to throw the cops off the scent, now that you mongoloids have informed him of their plans. Jerkoffs.

Lovingly yours
-Tony

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me...

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me… 33 years ago my poor mother pushed me out into this blighted universe. Yep, only 33 years. That's it. They don't believe me at work- they think I'm in the witness protection program or something. It's my family's fault, I grew up around old people. What else was I supposed to grow up to be except older? At least I got the day off so I could go out and vote for whomever the union tells us to vote for. Here in NYC, we get to choose between the democrat and the incumbent democrat mayor who's running on the republican ticket. I'm running out of Muppets to write-in. (This year it was Uncle Deadly's turn.)


TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Children of the Night


A self-portrait of myself, at about 2am.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, October 31, 2005

Broken



Say it out loud if you don't get it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

All Hail the Tube

I took part in a conversation about conspiracy theories today, ranging from JFK to 9/11. When, as I usually do, I rolled my eyes at the concept that W was behind the 9/11 attacks, the Michael Moore wannabe snapped, "Hey, after what I saw on Prison Break last night, I'll believe anything!"

Sigh.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, October 24, 2005

Another Senseless Act of Blogging.

Let's look at that word senseless. That means that I haven’t used any of the five senses in writing this. I also must not have used the sixth sense, otherwise known as common sense.

Enough of this gay banter. Let's talk about advertising. In this city, every possible square inch is covered with advertising. The bottom of my apartment door is regularly assaulted with circulars, fliers, and menus. The MTA long ago made sure that every available surface of my commute is covered with ads. Kids pay money to proudly advertise for companies with their clothes (Nike, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger...) Hawkers on street corners & subway stations regularly thrust free newspapers (AM & Metro) in my face, shouting, "free paper!" One of these actually shouted at me once for ignoring him. "Don’t walk away, muthafucka- this is my JOB!"

So what, right? You can’t fight Madison Avenue. THE POINT IS THAT WE'RE ALL IGNORING THE ADVERTISING. The louder and shriller it is, the more we ignore it. I estimate that between the commercials, banner ads, pop up ads, billboards, fliers, previews, posters, designer logos and idiots on the corner shouting at me to take their "free" product, I'm ignoring about 35% of the world I live in (I'd guess 15% for those who live in the suburbs.) Now, what does it mean to ignore something? Normally, that means that our conscious minds are not paying attention to stimulus registered by the sub-conscious. We all do this every second of our lives- one of the symptoms of schizophrenia is the inability of the conscious to filter out unimportant stimuli- say, the taste of the saliva in your mouth at any given second. But what I’m talking about here is consciously registering that something is advertising and choosing to ignore it. That takes effort and energy. The brighter the flashing neon sign, the more annoying the announcer, the more energy it takes to ignore it.

Advertisers know this as well- that’s why they keep pushing the envelope. Ten years ago, were there ten minutes commercials in movie theaters, or silent commercials in the corner of the TV screen while a show was playing? Product placement is nothing new (2001, a Space Odyssey was released in 1968, after all) but it's become bolder and bolder over the years. (See I Robot, amongst others.) We ignore this assault, so the assaulters constantly up the ante.

NOW THE PUNCHLINE: Could this unwitting drain of mental energy be a contributing factor in the exponential rise of mental illnesses over the last hundred years? In addition to the ever-rising pressures of society, are our minds also so busy ignoring unwanted but unavoidable stimuli that our brains are starting to crack? Anyone collegially minded out there want to expand on this?

Oh- I just wanted to mention I’m going to take part in Blogger.com's Adsense banner ad program. It's about time I made some money off this thing.

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Is this Remotely Art?



Here we are, another Illustration Friday. Thank God for IF. If it wasn't for IF, no one would come to this goddamn blog at all. Why the hell should you? You all have lives (I hope.) Click on the damn thing to see it in full. Go on. CLICK IT!

Anyway, for those interested, this week's IF is REMOTE. Yes, I'm still on a philosophy/ psychology kick- and yes, I'm still on a Robert Anton Wilson kick. Now, the gist of RAW's work (which he got from Timothy Leary) is that we're all robots, programmed by everything that has gone on in life up to this point in time. You're sitting here, right now, reading this crap, because everything in your life has led up to that moment. Did you just lean to the side and cut one? Guess what- everything in your life has lead up to that moment too! We robots are just puppets, controlled by remote (aha!) by time and our pasts. Everyting you think, everything you do, is because you ARE THE ROBOT. There's no sense in trying to be something or someone that's not in your nature: you are what you is, and that's all it is (as the late great Frank Zappa once sang.) "Oho!" I hear you cry, "I'll just CHANGE my nature. Sure, you can, it takes a lot of work- but guess what? The idea to change your nature- how you wanted to change it, and what you changed it into- was all preprogrammed by your past! Psyche!

In fact, I used the same theory when I made the picture for IF's sorrow a few months ago, but I didn't bother explaining:

As I usually do, I worked my ass off to make a very detailed production, only to decide at the last second to wipe out the detail in the name of style. For example, a much younger image of my grandfather's face was used in the clock dial:

Now that we're done with the art lesson, let us discuss. I'll let you in on a secret.

I hate my job.

It's a good job- an honerable trade- it keeps the wife in denim and the kids in diapers and there are fantastic benefits- and I'm damn good at it. But I hate it, for the simple fact that it's not what I want to do with my life. Never in my life did I dream of being a construction worker. It was a way to take care of my family. I'll stop whining, as the only one who can fix my problem is me, when I get around to it or when I have a heart attack, whichever comes first.

But I digress. Let's talk about the people. People are people. Most of the time I work with good people, sometimes I work with assholes. We've discussed this before. (Keep in mind that an asshole is someone who sees life differently than you do.)

I was happy for a few months: I was working for/ with a great guy. Now, however, I seem to be stuck on a job full of Alpha Dogs. (Almost) everyone is trying to be Tony Soprano. Every conversation is started with an insult. Words go back and forth, volume rises. They bark, then they growl, until one of them backs down. Some days I feel like going out and buying a pack of dog biscuits and just throwing them in the middle of the shanty when it gets to be too much. Or I feel like walking up to one of them and bopping them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

I do what I usually do- I act like myself, which comes to the usual problems when I'm working with Alpha Dog Wannabees (as you can imagine, the construction industry is full of them.) "You think you're better than us, don't you?" "HOW old are you? You look and act like you're 50!" I try to remind myself over and over again that I am a robot, that they're all robots, and they just can't help themselves. Nature and nurture has programmed them all up to this point. Throw them a milk bone and move on to the next one. Sigh.

TTFN
Tony

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm it- I'm it!

The multitalented Carla was kind enough to tag me. As I never could say no to an attractive (yet very intelligent) blond, here it goes.

20 random things about me:

1. I love milk
2. I hate bananas.
3. I had a dog named Bananas. French Toast Girl named him Bananas because "she goes bananas every time she sees us!"
4. French Toast Girl is my sister Elena.
5. I have another sister, Mary. Although Mary is quite a hoot and a holler, she does not have a blog.
6. I delete half the things I almost post to my blog, as I am afraid that people will think I'm even more sick, twisted and perverted than I already am.
7. I actually wanted to be a priest at one point in my misguided childhood.
8. In the words of the late great Grahm Chapman: "There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn’t know if he believes in anything or not."
9. I've always been obsessed with science.
10. I never actually wanted any of the jobs I've held: soldier, factory worker, Waldenbooks manager, S'barros manager, electrician…
11. My favorite high school job was being a projectionist at a local movie theater.
12. I know all the words to "American Pie," "We Will All Go Together When We Go," and "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota." (The longest songs I can think of.)
13. When working in a factory, ten years ago, a spilled bucked of acid burned a good bit of the skin on my right leg off.
14. I have written about 200 pages in 5 books, none of them ever finished.
15. I once did all my computer artwork on an Amiga. I paid $200 in '93 to up the processor to a whopping 60mhz and put in 24 megs of ram. I thought I was da shit.
16. I still have all my notebooks I've accumulated over the years, full of doodles (mostly of Star Trek, Star Wars, Tolkien & Dr. Who) various bits of creative writing, and love letters to girlfriends.
17. One comment from my first girlfriend- Alex (poor girl)- that has stuck with me is that I am "fashion unconscious."
18. I used to play Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (in a movie theater floor-show cast.)
19. My two favorite albums are Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and Frank Zappa's "Joe's Garage."
20. I can't stand chain letters, so I'm not passing this one on. Feel free to make your own list or not.

TTFN
-Tony

Brrr, It's Cold in Here!



The Illustration Friday word of the week is COLD.

The lovely Jennifer says I have to explain this one. Here goes:

Cold is the absence of heat. Heat is the amount of movement of atomic particles. Therefore, a dead atom is pretty damn cold. The poor fellow was stabbed by a jilted lover- probably an argon atom. (I have it on good authority that argon is a petty, insecure little element.) Fear not, however. The universe seeks equilibrium. As soon as this little guy comes in contact with another atom, he'll absorb some of its heat (energy) until they are of equal temperature.

Yes, physics make vampires of us all.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

If fnord you fnord see fnord something, fnord say fnord something!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Give It Up for the Main Brain!

I've just finished Myst V, all by meeself! BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA! It's not as pretty to look at as its predecessors, and I was a little disappointed by the lack of imagination in the endings (why can't I choose to keep the power all for myself?) But it was a load of fun. David Ogden Stiers also does a great acting job- this time with a Slavic accent instead of a New England one.

Now I guess I can think up something for "float…"

TTFN
-me

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

E.T., the Extra-Testicle



Not wanting to be conventional, I've gone out and purchased a third ball (and a glove to wear while playing with it!) The first time I tried it out, a cut on my finger split, and I managed to bleed right into my brand new ball's fingerhole. Fortunately, I knew what to do, and immediately recited the Pater Noster backwards, enslaving a deamon inside of the polyurethane. I'm not sure if this helps or not, but it's sure as hell fun to do- and a blood stain is a lot better way of identifying my ball than engraving!

TTFN
-Tony

Self-Examination

I've been reading "The Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy" By Robert Wilson. He suggests that one of the biggest problems of humanity is (to paraphrase a paragraph) that deep down inside, we are all afraid that if anyone knew what we are REALLY thinking or feeling, that they would catch us at being "no good shits," and that most of our mental/ emotional effort is to keep from getting caught. Any thoughts?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

She's Fresh! (Fresh!) Fresh as a Summer Breeeeeeeeaze...



The Illustration Friday word of the week is FRESH. How many times did you hear this one when you were a kid? How many times have you said it to your own kid, in some way or form? How many times have you squished your own kid's personality like a grape just because it was too much for you to handle after a hard day? Let your kids be who they are, or they might grow up sick and twisted individuals who draw cheap shit like this!

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Economy's Tubes are Tied

Rant rant rant. See Tony rant. Rant Tony, rant. (Just to warn you all, here's a free-flow economic ranting.)

My God, they've made credit reports such a scam. First of all, whenever you inquire into your own credit history- it hurts you. If you have credit cards and don't use them, it hurts you. When you do use them and pay your bill within a month before they can charge you interest it hurts you. THE WHOLE MOTHERFUCKING SCAM OF CREDIT IS TO GET YOU TO PAY MORE AND MORE MONEY TO THE BANKS FOR NO REASON (USING CREDIT CARDS AND PAYING INTEREST,) OR THEY WILL HURT YOUR CREDIT HISTORY!

Scam #2- ATM fees, or how to flush the value of the dollar down the toilet. Do you think your credit card interest is too high? How about the fact that if you pay $1.50 (average) for using an ATM that is not your bank's, and also charged $1.50 (average) for your own bank, you are now paying $3.00 for your ATM use. Keep in mind that the average ATM withdrawal is $20. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE JUST PAID 15% INTREST ON A SIMPLE WITHDRAWAL. You would NEVER get a credit card that high, but you do it for your own money! Just keep devaluing the dollar, baby. It's just paper anyhow. Hail euro, hail peso.

Next item up for bid: Capitol One recently overcharged me, or claimed I didn't make a payment, or something like that. I forget. I called the 800# on the back of the card and listened. Option 1… Option 2… no, none of these… option 435,111,690.555... REPEAT THESE OPTIONS? I WANT TO TALK TO A LIVE HUMAN BEING! But alas, it was not to be. Out of desperation, I hit Zero. "Please wait." A dial tone… then… "may I help you?" Ha ha! I'd beaten the system.

"Do you know how long it took me to get to you?" I asked.

"Um… you can reach an operator any time by hitting zero," the poor guy at the phone, probably outsourced in India because this country hates supporting its own citizens, but anyway…

"But the menu never SAYS to hit Zero," I said. "Why is that? Why does a customer have to figure out the secret code to talk to a human being?"

"Ummmmm" the guy said. I began to feel pity as I could almost taste the barbecue-sauce flavored charred goo that was beginning to flow from his smoking ears. The customer had asked a FORBIDDEN QUESTION into why the company did NOT want the customers easily making contact with someone who could actually help them. I laughed, imaging the wet spot that was forming on his BVDs, as his mind raced to come up with some sort of intelligent answer, when there was none. It was all bullshit, and he was in the middle. "You um… can reach an operator…"

"Never mind," I replied, taking pity on the poor devil. He probably went home and cried. Well, probably not. He probably went home and complained about some asshole customer that didn't understand that he was just a phone-answering peon. So it goes.

Recently, I purchased an Ipaq 4705. It's a great little pocket pc, except that they have a touch sensitive pad instead of buttons. What a stupid, ridiculous design. I can't play any of my Nintendo emulators, because you can't just rest your fingers on the pad the way you would buttons. Also, the damn thing is too ahead of it's time. It has a VGA screen, but there is very little Pocket PC software out there that is actually IN VGA, so you have to run them in lo-resolution. Regoddamndiculous.

Anyway… SOMEDAY, SOMEWHEN, Windows Mobile 5 (Which hopefully has much better VGA support than Windows Mobile 2003 & ½) is actually released, Ipaq is supposed to send out an upgrade disk. Windows Mobile 5 is actually still vaporware- it does not really exist, even though it was supposed to come out at the end of the summer- but that's beside the point. If you don't believe me, just try to find out exactly WHEN they're going to release it.

Back on topic… I tried e-mailing HP (Makers of Ipaq) about the upgrade. Of course, they can't just give you an email address, that would be far too convenient. Instead, you have to fill out a detailed online form, choosing what area of HP you wanted to send the letter too. Of course, there was no listing whatsoever for the Ipaq 4705. So I tried support for a different model. The javascript just wouldn't work. What to do what to do… WAIT! Here's an email for people who want to BUY Ipaqs! And wouldn't you know THAT address works! Assholes…

(Here endeth the rant. Go in peace, to love and rant at the Lord. Thanks be to Blog.)

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Weather Machine, Anyone?

What in blue blazes is going on in the gulf with all these hurricanes? Seriously, did God have a bad time at Mardi Gras? Maybe he tried to pick up one of those wild topless chicks, and she turned him down. That's it, he decided, I'm smoting your sorry Dixieland-playing asses off the face of the earth. Do you think the governments will get it right this time? If I was W. I'd have everyone in uniform ready and waiting. Put hurricanes under the axis of evil. And you know what? As incompetent as his last hurricane performance was, I can't understand why people aren't just as pissed off at the local governments that had no evacuation plans whatsoever. Maybe W. should just evacuate the black people this time, so everyone crying racism will feel vindicated. Even better, they should put Barbara Bush in a shelter for the night- see how she likes it before she runs her mouth off again. I'd like to conclude with this bit of wisdom:

Q: What is George W. Bush's opinion on Roe vs Wade?

A: He doesn't give a damn HOW they get out of New Orleans

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Run Away... RUN AWAY!!!




The Illustration Friday word of the week is ESCAPE. I've been reading a lot of philosophy & psychology lately, especially the fiction & nonfiction works of Robert Anton Wilson. His main theory is that we create our own realities (which simultaneously overlaps & clashes with Ayn Rand's strict rules of objectivism.) While there are many areas of objectivism that I agree with- i.e., the meaning of life is to be happy, we should live honestly without guilt, and we should all do our very best (to scratch the surface,) I'm agreeing more and more with Wilson's view that the world is what me make it. Some of Rand's philosophy deals with this too, to a point. However, from Wilson's POV, we never actually experience the world, just the model our senses create inside of our minds. However, a model isn't the real thing, nor can it contain every aspect of the real thing.

For example, how do you explain a symphony (or Frank Zappa) to someone who has been deaf since birth? How do you even explain color to someone who is color-blind? If you were blind, and someone started screaming because a giant centipede had just bitten off their big toe, you wouldn't know the cause of the scream, just the effect. Now what if everyone's blind, and no one can explain it to you? If we only experience the model of the universe in our mind that our senses can build, isn't it possible that there are other things affecting the world that our limited senses can't perceive? (We know of many- radio waves, ultraviolet light, magnetism, etc.)

What the fuck does all this have to with escape, I hear you cry? I guess because this all centers around escaping from the reality tunnel others (our parents, church, society, employers) have created for us and creating our own. The model's in your mind- enjoy it!

-TTFN
Tony

Saturday, September 10, 2005

In Memoriam



(Me back in September 2001, working on the roof of the Trinity building, restoring power at ground zero.)
The following is a letter I wrote to my friends & family in the days after 9/11. The only comment I'd like to make is that while at the time we were told the death toll was 6000, we now know it to be about 2700.
.............................................
I'm sorry that I've been distant lately. I'm sure you can all understand, some even more than me.

I've been scared. I don't like to be, much less admit it, but I've been scared. I was lucky and in Queens, not in Manhattan last Tuesday. No, I wouldn't have been THERE (Though at 2 am I remember that I was working on the roof of a building a block away a month before this happened.) When the towers went down, I walked to the LIE overpass behind the apartment house and stared at the smoke that was in the place of the towers on the Manhattan skyline. Even though I'm one East River away from the close-ups on TV, it was stomach twisting. I called my foreman that night, and he told me how they watched it happen from the windows, 30 blocks away, how 20-50 year-old tough-guy construction workers were shaking, some crying, because they thought it was WW3 and the beginning of The End.

On Thursday, back in Manhattan, I had to walk from 42nd and Lex to 23rd and 1st, because the #6 line was down. (They were afraid of subway vibrations bringing down more buildings) It's not really as long a walk as it sounds, but I passed the recovery HQ on 1st ave- Past all the TV vans, and past a block's worth of pictures taped to plywood sheets. As time has past, these hopeful "have you seen" pictures have become memorials, and they're everywhere. I can't talk on the phone without staring into photographs with tearful notes of hope underneath, knowing they were put there by loved ones who will never ever see them again. I call my wife, and my voice becomes a dull monotone. She asks why and I'm at a loss on how to explain.

One of my friends at work is 40 years old, and he's a kind, good man. Today he suddenly started cursing himself, muttering what a failure he is. When I asked him what was wrong, he admitted it was because he started smoking again after giving them up cold turkey for 10 years. He told me he feels worthless, because suddenly he can't live without them again. I tell him it's an understandable need, but I can tell that my words don't help. I realize the frustration goes deeper than a pack of Marbalo 100s

Again, I'm on a job 30 blocks away from "ground zero", and I can see out the window that what was once a symbol of achievement is still a smoldering hole in the ground. I know it's only been a week, but I wonder when the skyline won't have a haze that has nothing to do with pollution. I walk down the street and I see people that are scared and jittery, no matter what their profession or race. I buy a paper from an elderly Arabic man, who wears a "God Bless America" shirt every day, and shrinks down in his kiosk- which is draped in American flags- like a frightened rabbit every time I, or any other customer approach. I give the little smile I have, but I don't think it does any good. I wonder if he's so afraid, why he stays here, and I realize he probably has no one and no where else to go.

Our shop is working on restoring power to one of those buildings- the same one I was on the roof of not too long ago (The Trinity building, 111 Broadway for those of you with a love for geography)- and being a lowly apprentice I helped the truck driver deliver material yesterday. My drivers license was scrutinized by armed police and National Guardsmen, like I'm trying to get onto a military base, and they make me wait in the cab while they and the driver search the truck. The won't let the truck get closer than a few blocks away and we wind up rolling 3' diameter wooden reels of sj cord down the street. The smell twisted my stomach, when I realized that what I was smelling was death- the death of a great achievement, of that smug "nothing can ever happen to us" attitude we Americans had without giving it a second thought, and, most disturbingly of over 6000 bodies.

And there's this feeling that grips me, this feeling that there's nothing I could ever do to protect myself, my wife or my son (I know that's a MCP attitude, but I'm sure Jen feels the same way about Joey and me.) And I wonder every night if tomorrow some new insanity will strike. I jump every time a car backfires. I run 2 miles a night (yes, frightening but true. This started a while before all this happened and I'm down to a not-quite-slim-yet 225lbs, thank you very much) and every time a plane flies overhead I flinch. I watched President's Bush's speech on TV tonight, and every time the picture flickered a little (I don't have cable, so 2 is really the only reliable channel- the others are coming and going- for those of you not in NYC, the WTC had all the broadcast antennas for the area except channel 2, leaving those of us cable-less with only CBS ) I thought "oh shit, what's happening now?" Every time I hear a siren, I wonder what's happened. The QM4 bus got held up at the Midtown tunnel yesterday (connecting Queens to Manhattan) because there was an accident. Of course, everyone seeing a bunch of flashing lights and emergency vehicles as we approach a tunnel, we instantly look around like caged animals, wondering if stage 2 had begun.

I feel guilty. Part of me tells myself that I have no right to feel so hurt or so angry- my family and my friends are all safe, and I'm alive and healthy. I'm a civilian now, I don't have to worry like so many others do. Who am I to feel so much? There are some without homes, without jobs, without their wives/sons/husbands/dads/daughters/brothers/sisters/fiancées... oh, you get the picture. I feel like I'm just whining.

I can't help being angry. We have the freedom of religion, but we jump out of our skins if someone says a prayer before a graduation ceremony or a football game. We have the freedom to own firearms, but we curse any law abiding citizen who owns one, while passing more and more lenient laws against criminals who use them. We showed the world that our presidency is a joke, that we don't care about our own history, our pride. We have a popular culture that demands more and more freedoms, but damns those who give/gave their lives and personal freedoms to protect the ones we have. I watched the speech, saw Democrats and Republicans give up their petty bickering that's been tearing the country to pieces, for the first time since WW2. It gives me a boost of hope, and I pray the sentiment lasts longer than this week, and reaches further than military resolve- into fixing our school system, into caring more about our OWN country's welfare, into bringing back production into this country so people can have jobs and learn trades to feed their families. I hope our politicians will stop trying to convince group A that everyone in groups B, C, and Q hates them, just to get their block of votes, then running around like idiots and asking "why?" when that hate turns to violence. I hope we learn to accept and love each other because we're Americans, despite our preference/denomination/color/sex. God, two weeks ago, that statement would have sounded so corny, wouldn't it?

We're at war, but we don't really know against who. There's no clear enemy, no one knows who will attack or when. Will it be us or them? Will it be "Us" or some nut like McVeigh, thinking we'll blame foreign terrorists instead of domestic? I realize I live on an island, and the only way to the rest of the world is by crossing another island (either Staten Island or Manhattan) Am I going to worry over every bridge and tunnel I cross for the rest of my life? And if it's "them," what form will it take? Watching 6000 people die as the WTC go down in flames is one thing. Watching millions in a city die from Anthrax in our water supply is another.

I'm sorry if I see this as just an NYC thing. It's hard to grasp that this is affecting the whole country.

It's an uncertain time, it's become an uncertain world. I just want you all to be certain that I love every one of you.

Those of you who've been forwarding bits of editorials, news items, letters, etc. Thank you, but it's you who's opinion I'm interested in. Let me know what you're thinking & feeling, if you'd like- you're more important.

Love each other, stay safe, and live your lives, for yourself and for each other.

-Tony

Wow, You're Deep, Man!



The Illustration Friday word of the week is DEPTH. It looks cool with anaglyph (red & blue) 3d glasses. Get it? Depth- 3d glasses! I crack myself up!

-TTFN
Tony

Monday, September 05, 2005

Toot Toot Toot, Toot Your Own Geeky Horn…

After only about 5 hours, I've figured out the goddamn Myst V demo! (Which, of course, was only one puzzle.) WHAT A RUSH! I can't wait till the real game comes out… and comes down in price after no one buys it at $50 :P Hint: pay attention to what the old geezer with the Slavic accent tells you…

(Yes, I am a geek)

Speaking of horn tootin', Joe's new bowling score is 71! Me, I can't seem to go higher than 156- it must be all the hip-hop crap the bowling alley plays.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 02, 2005

Would Alex Haley Hang This On His Wall?



The Illustration Friday word of the week is ROOTS. Ok, I could explain something clever, witty & insightful here, but I think it speaks for itself.

All right, I give. Here's a nugget: The world you see, hear, touch, smell and taste is NOT the real world. It is just a model of the real world created in our minds based on the data we receive from our senses. In fact, being aware of our own brains, which houses our minds, puts the model of the brain inside of our minds, giving you TWO brains, one inside of the other. And once you realize that fact, there are THREE minds, and so forth and so forth into a chain of infinite minds, all inside of your own head. (For more mind blowing shit, read something by Robert Anton Wilson, like the Illuminatus Trilogy- coauthored by Robert Shea.)

TTFN, kiddies
-Tony

Tony Explains it All #2

Lyn asks, "Do cows get bored ?"

Short answer: Not if they keep moo-ving.

Long Answer: Cows actually have a hyper-slow brain, so to them, they're living a fast, exciting "live quick-die young" lifestyle. You see, a cow's day is like a hundred of our days. This is much like the answer we often got in CCD to the question, "How did God create the world in 6 days?" - "Because one of God's days is like a million of our years." Ergo, Cows are microcosms of God (but then, aren't we all?)

Take care, folks. Feel free to dig deep into my vast pool of knowledge.

TTFN
-Tony

PS Joe's new bowling HS is 58! Go Joe! You'll have that blue collar & beer gut in no time...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dre-e-e-e-eam, Dream Dream Dre-eeam...



The Illustration Friday word of the week is DREAMS. Kindly click on the thumbnail above to see a larger version.

If you think you know, go ahead and say ;)

-TTFN
Tony

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Philisophical Battles of the Sphincter.

For those unfamiliar with the psychotically religious, Chick Tracts are tiny little pamphlet comic books written by Jack Chick. There are a few of them online, and quite a few good parodies too. While reading these insane, Catholic-hating, fire & brimstone piles of poopie-kaka for laughs, I came across something that actually seriously offended me. It's from the tract "No Fear." The preacher tells a young girl he rescues from an attempted suicide, "…we all deserve to go to hell, because we are all sinners." Sorry, but this is the most insane crap I've ever heard in my life.

I've been re-reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, (my favorite book of all time) to re-charge my philosophical batteries. I know some people hate it (Once, when I was reading it during lunch on a job, a foreman told me to "put that Republican, anti-union piece of shit away,") but there's something great about a philosophy that states that we should all be proud of ourselves, that we should live in honesty without guilt or fear, that the meaning of life is to be happy, that the only way we will have high self esteem, self love, and self respect is to earn it from ourselves… the list goes on and on. It's only about a thousand pages long, and it can get a little preachy at times, but I'd recommend it to anyone who's sick of being told that the world is an evil place and mankind is the most evil thing about it. (Come to think of it, The Fountainhead is a pretty good book too, though the movie is beyond terrible.)

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tony Explains it All

My son Joe asks all the important questions. Most deal with Star Wars. While nothing can beat my all time favorite, "Since they call Darth Vader Lord Vader- is Darth Vader Jesus?"- he recently asked a good one:

Why does Darth Vader call the Emperor his Master? I explained that only dogs have masters, people don't. No one can MAKE themselves your master, you have to LET them be your master. So why does Darth Vader pretend he's a dog? This one took a little thinking. I finally explained that people are responsible for the things they do, but dogs aren't. So if Darth Vader pretends he's a dog, he can pretend that he's not responsible for the bad things he does- though, of course, he really is. Sadly, there are many people in the world who can't figure this out. A good way to detect someone you want to stay the hell away from is if they use the phrase "You made me _____."

A non-Star Wars question is, "Are green things good for you?" Sadly to say, Joe, the color green is really plant poop. Plants eat light- all light- except for the color green. They reflect the color green. Green is foliagic poison, green is plant excrement. Yes, Ralph Nader is the candidate of the Plant Excrement Party.

If anyone has any more questions they want me to answer with all my brilliance, go ahead. I'll be happy to ask someone else & pretend the answers are mine.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Who's the Pretty Girl in the Mirror, there (what mirror where?)



The Illustration Friday word of the week is REFLECTION. Please click on the picture above for a larger image.

This is something I made last year, for my own sick & twisted fun. It can also be found on EgotisticalProductions.com in the gallery section.

Here's one of my favorite poems:

The Guy in the Glass
by Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.

-TTFN
Tony

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Give Me Down to There Hair...

My Funny Little Honey got herself a haircut. Now she's cuter than ever:

What did I do to deserve an angel like this?

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Evolving by Unintelligent Design


The Illustration Friday word of the week is WISDOM.

One of the biggest jokes God plays on us is that although we can learn at an early age (hence we spend the first entire quarter of our lives in learning institutions) we can't actually pass on wisdom. Wisdom can only be acquired with experience & age, so that by the time we're at our wisest, we're unable to affect the world at all- we're just in a nursing home drooling somewhere, watching "The Price is Right."

However, according to CNN, we'll be able to download our brains into computers by the year 2050. (Keep in mind that it's 2005 & still no HAL-9000 in sight… as far as we know.) Perhaps by the year 2200 the entire human race will just be on one big computer, living in cyberspace ala "The Matrix" but with no bodies to be attached to. The only downshot is that it would probably be the end of evolution- or of intelligent design, if you're so inclined- for the human race. Ah well, there's always a give and take with technology.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Living the Blue-Collar Dream

Joe 's new bowling high score is 57! This is pretty damn tootin' for a seven-year-old with coordination problems. He's inconsistent, but I'm so happy to see him gaining confidence & ability- especially at something physical. At this rate, he'll be beating my measly hs of 142 in no time (what is that, like a C+?)

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Running on Empty





The Illustration Friday word of the week is EMPTY.

Does this really need any explanation?

On the non-commentary note, Mandy-Pandy had tubes put in her ears yesterday morning. She went into the OR at 7:30 and was running around the waiting room terrorizing other patients by 9:30. For any parents whose kids have to have this done, it's pretty much as quick & painless as everyone says.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, August 01, 2005

It's the Only Disease that You Don't Look Forward to Being Cured of



The Illustration Friday word of the week is AGING.

What? Tony returns to Illustration Friday & all we get is this crappy scribble? Ha ha! It's just a LINK! Click upon it, and see something beyond your wildest dreams (which can also be found on EgotisticalProductions.com.) Plug, baby, plug!

TTFN
-Tony

ps- Can any movie aficionados tell me what movie the title quote is from?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Time for Tony's Movie Reviews

I saw War of the Worlds with my friend Rob last night (NOT a Joey movie!) I could go on about what I liked & didn't like, but what really hit me was the depth of the disgust for humanity Spielberg seems to have. Yeah, I know- it's more realistic- we probably would be rioting and killing each other for any tiny advantage if the world was to come to an end- but still it shocked me. I'll leave the "Earth is Iraq & the murdering Martians are the US Army" interpretation to the nut jobs.

I've always felt that the popularity of disaster movies comes from our secret collective desire to see a giant "reset" button pushed- wiping out our bad credit histories, corrupt politicians, & international cartels in one fell swoop. We can dream, can't we?

Speaking of nut jobs & films, my favorite childhood book- The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe- is finally being made into a movie. For those of you who don't know, the story is very heavy with Christian allegories. I took a gander at the IMDB forums for the film, & I was a bit taken aback at the hatred of Christianity I saw there. I'm not talking about poking fun (which is so easy to do & everyone's right to do to ANY religion) or asking questions about the millions of inconsistencies in the faith- I'm talking about outright hatred. Now, personally, in the words of George Carlin, "I was born a Catholic- now I'm an American-" but I don't hate the faith. This is the problem I've always had with the hypocritical "politically correct." If you want to scream your head off that we must be tollerant of everything under the sun, then you'd better damn well be tolerant of everyone- including, yes, Christianity- yourself.

Here endeth the preaching.

Speaking of IMDB, it's starting to suck. People who were tired of the paid-off reviews in the papers started turning to the internet to see what real people thought of the films. Sadly, sites like IMDB & Rotten Tomatoes are now flooded with gushing reviews & high ratings that are written by the studios themselves. Sigh.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sorry It's Been So Long

Sorry it's been so long (hey that sounds like a great idea for a title.) But things have been very topsy-turvy around here.

For those of you who've been here since the beginning, the Penguin Electric saga has come to an end. Yep, I've been given the boot, laid off, kicked out the door, whatever you want to call it. My crime? Agreeing to work at 2am- but expecting to get full compensation for it. Not to toot my own horn, but in seven months, I've missed only one day when Jen had to get an MRI. I've never been late, always given the bastards a full days work, even when they weren't paying benefits & my checks bounced. But if you stand up for yourself (and I've called the union throughout this nightmare on all Mr. Penguin's shenanigans) you have to go. The sad thing is, I'm sure the other poor bastards in the shop are going to think twice before saying "no" when the boss tries to screw them. (I know, that was the POINT.)

"But these things aren't supposed to happen in Local 3," I hear you cry. Well, these things DO happen if the other guys in the shop agree to let the boss screw them over. It creates an underclass- those who allow the boss to cheat them without saying a word get to keep their jobs, & those who say, "no, I actually expect to get PAID for my time" get the boot. As I was laid off, I get to collect unemployment & my supplementary fund, so I guess I'll look on it as a vacation until the union gets me another job. I get to spend time with the wife & kids, get my shit together as they say.

While I'm at it, I want to make an adventure game. Why the hell not? I have a million projects I'm working on, so why not a million and one? Maybe get some extra $ going.

So anyway, that's it. 'Till later…

TTFN!
-Tony

Thursday, July 14, 2005

It's 12:45 AM & I can't think of a title. Illustration Friday, baby!



The Illustration Friday word of the week is METROPOLITAN.

You all know the drill... my entry can be found at my web-comic here. You please clickie on #13. Thank you oh so much. It is almost 1am, & I have to get up at 5. So do me a favor and check out the damn thing. OK, it's my fault I didn't get it done sooner, but I have a life too, you know! EESH!

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Incompetent Supervillany

All right- just what kind of Evil Puppet Master is Karl Rove anyway? First of all- if he's pulling the strings, he doesn't NEED an official position in the Bush administration. Hell- he looses points because we even know his name and his face! If I was an evil puppet master, I would be a ghost! I am so goddamn disillusioned. Just what the hell is the world coming to?

Second of all- as I discussed in a previous blog- the guy can't even get propper revenge on CIA agents he doesn't like! If I had all the power that guy is rumored to have, any CIA agents who pissed me off with inconvenient facts would find themselves begging for the sweet release of death. I would put them on a secret mission where they would be forced to listen to boy-band music all day long. Or even better- I would tell him that there were secret codes hidden in episodes of that goddamn CSI show, and force him to watch every single episode. Hell, I would be begging for someone to put a bullet in my brain after a day of that.

Sigh

-TTFN
Tony

Friday, July 08, 2005

A Quick Review

I finally got to see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I liked it, though it was slow in some parts- and the scene where Steve defends his boat against the pirates is so ridiculous that I wondered if the whole sequence would just turn out to be a dream. William Dafoe played the best character, IMHO. I didn't know he could do comedy. All in all, though, it was a thoughtful, intelligent comedy, from the Bowie songs in Portuguese to the cartoony CGI sea life. I'd recommend it if you like quirky humor. It seems to be one of those movies that people either loved or hated.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Random Acts of Blogging

I keep starting and stopping blogs, because my brain is completely disorganized right now. I mean it. Pure tofu. So, I've decided just to give some snippets that cross my mind.

1) London. I am so sorry. I remember the fear after 9/11 that anything could happen in our city again, at any time. My heart goes out to you all. Now we have this huge show of highly armed police all over our subways again. I think we're on code fuchsia or something.

2) "Was Valerie Plame's ouster Karl Rove (*wolves howl*)?" This wet dream of Bush haters is sweeping across the internet. Personally, I just don't see it. Pretend you're president of the US & you want to get back at a CIA agent for saying that Saddam wasn't trying to buy uranium in Africa. Would your revenge be to a) kill him b) send him on a covert mission to clean out public toilets in Baghdad for a year, or c) blow his (fellow CIA agent) wife's cover? Sorry, but I just don't see what possible reward the Bush (or his evil puppet masters, if you're convinced he has them) would get out of option C. Then again, NOTHING Bush has done has made any sense, so I suppose…

3) Speaking of terrorism, wanting to keep "America is the root of all evil" artwork out of future Ground Zero memorials is NOT a violation of free speech- it's a matter of respect and kindness to the families of the almost 3000 people who died there. Free speech means that I can declare here that I believe President George W. Bush is a supreme nincompoop and not be arrested for treason. That's all. It does NOT mean that I can turn a site of mass murder into a politically correct free-for-all.

4) Oh darn- NYC lost the bid for the Olympics. I read in the Daily News that one of the O.C.'s main concerns was that 75% of NYers DID NOT F**KING WANT IT. I sure as hell didn't- Shea Stadium is a mile from my house on the LIE. IT ALLREADY TAKES ME AN HOUR TO DRIVE TEN MILES ON THE LIE IN RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. OK, now that Bloomberg has tried once again to distract us from the fact that NOTHING has been done at Ground Zero since 9/11, can we PLEASE rebuild downtown NY and work on our decrepit infrastructure? Is that too much to ask?

All right, enough ranting. Go to sleep. 'Nite

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Confused Conservatism

Yes, twenty years after the original, Live Aid is back. (And so, thank God, is Pink Floyd!) Those of us who grew up in the 80s remember Sally Struthers, Mother Theresa, Ethiopian jokes, and of course, the line "do they know it's Christmastime at all?"

Yes, dear friends, there is terrible poverty in the world. But I have to ask: after twenty years and untold billions of donations- from the governments of the world, businesses, & the private sector- I have to ask… where did all the money go? Did the people in need get any of it? Or are blind eyes turned to corrupt governments swallowing the donations up, as in the Oil for Food scandal? (You know, that thing where France & the other UN Nations were calling us Nazis & conquerors while they were taking kickbacks from Saddam so his people could suffer. I know- I know, it doesn't matter.)

I'm NOT saying there's anything wrong with charity, nor am I saying that we should ignore the problems of the world. But before the world cries out that the U.S. just isn't pouring out enough $, please just tell me- what happened to all the donations from the last 20 years?

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, July 03, 2005

On Channel 3, there's SPORT!



The Illustration Friday word of the week is SPORT.

Here we go again! As before, my entry can be found at my web-comic here. This time, be a SPORT (ha ha, get it?) & click on #12. Thank you oh so much!
Warning: this comic was written by a well adjusted adult, with no issues or bitterness about his childhood whatsoever. The artist also does NOT have a sick and twisted sense of humor. Would I lie to you?

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Over-Simplified Solutions to Complicated Problems

Like everyone in Hollywood, I've realized that I should decide how things should be run without any responsibility for the outcomes whatsoever. In that respect, the following ideas have occurred to me:

1) Flag Burning. The answer is very simple. Flag Burning falls under freedom of speech, something the American Flag is a symbol for. Therefore, simply make it a law that just before burning the flag, the burner must publicly state "I am a jackass who is burning the symbol of my freedom to burn the symbol of my freedom… etcetera, etcetera, etcetera." (Bonus points can be earned by pronouncing "etcetera" as "etcetella," ala Yul Brenner in The King & I.)

2) PBS. Although this has been resolved, I think I've come up with a pretty good solution. First of all, let's face it. PBS is not PBS anymore. There are commercials on PBS. Yes, they are cute "We're the caring educational McDonalds, not the annoying McDonalds that you see on other channels," but there are still McDonalds commercials on Sesame Street. The whole point of PBS was that it wasn't supposed to have commercial sponsors- it was supposed to be independent. Therefore, I would make three simultaneous laws. a) To keep PBS independent, no company or individual shall "donate" (they're not corporate sponsors- remember- they're "donators" with no influence whatsoever) anything over $100. b) (and this is the big one) Pay for the arts with the arts: put a 1% tax on all movie tickets, books, cds, etc. that goes directly to PBS. Even better- also put a 1% PBS tax on all actors, singers, directors, producers & writers who make over $100k a year. Finally, c) Make PBS watchable again by putting Dr. Who back on! All PBS's problems started when they took the good Doctor off the air (Which, to be honest, is because in the early 90s the BBC & Fox Video got greedy & wanted collectors to buy the episodes on VHS rather than watch them for free. This is why they stopped showing Black Adder, Monty Python, et al as well.)

Allrighty, that's it. Anyone want me to solve any other national problems, just comment below. I'll do my best to oversimplify things. Ciao!

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Did You Ever Know that You're My Hero?



The Illustration Friday word of the week is Heroes.

OMG, the miserable bastard- he did it again! He dedicated another web-comic to this topic! He actually expects you- (if you're still here)- as a participating fellow artist in Illustration Friday- to click here and then go to #11. The nerve! Well, to hell with him, I'm off to Google that picture of Lindsay Lohan's mammary gland slipping out of her dress! Goodbye!

(Slam!)

Seriously, check it out, would you? I'm talking about my web-comic that I worked very hard on, not some Disney "good girl's" nipple slip. Thanks.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Color is Overrated



The Illustration Friday word(s) of the week are Black & White.

The above is a panel from an issue of my web-comic, Webby, that I dedicated to this topic. So click here and go to #10. Sorry, I don't know how to link to an exact frame. Actually, I do know, but I'm too lazy to do that whole javascript thing. So just double-click! Just click on the link, and click on #10. What the hell- read the whole damn thing! Like you have anything better to do!

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Awesome Palm Paint Program

I have to gush here. I've been searching for an os5 Palm paint program with the following qualification: an airbrush tool- an anti-aliased drawing tool that can be layered on. I found a few, (DrawIt, Ninerpaint, Gray Paint) but they were all low-res (160x160) None of them were hi-res (320x320,) or worked with os5. There are a few "established" paint programs out there- Teal Paint, Hand Painter Pro- that cost a little bit of $ and are hi-res, but didn't have the airbrush tool that I really wanted.

I was about to give in, buy Hand Painter (about $12) and blur/color the drawings with Photoshop. Then I found MoePaint. It's freeware, and it's almost Photoshop for palm. There's an airbrush tool (the paintbrush,) there's layers, so I can color behind my sketching… and it's FREE. So if you're trying to use your os5 palm to sketch, I would definitely suggest Googling this.

Here's a shot from an upcoming episode of my web-comic Webby:


Pretty neat, huh? It's not pixilated like the pictures made with all the other palm-paint programs. I had to add the text with Photoshop, but this is great! I love free stuff.

-TTFN
Tony

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Web-Comic Friday?

NOTE: I've added quite a few posts since my Illustration Friday submission for Summer- so if that's all you care about, please scroll down. Go ahead. Skip all this wisdom. I won't think any less of you. No. Seriously. I'm just here POURING MY F**KING HEART into this blog, but you don't care, you just want to see a picture of summer! Go! Look! Bastards!

(takes medication. One pill, two pills... some beer... ahhh... sigh. OK, let's go on.)

On and off over the past few years, I've had a web-comic called (what else) Webby, the (Editorial?) Internet Comic. The first chapter spans about nine pages, and is sort of a stream of consciousness journey, dealing far more with depression than with editorial concerns. You can get to it from my Egotistical Productions homepage. (Click "Comix") I've tried to continue it, on and off, but didn't feel I had anything to really start it with.

I've recently watched Crumb, a documentary about (duh!) cartoonist Robert Crumb. I decided to re-read some of his works, and I realized that the comics of his I liked the best were autobiographical shorts based on a certain subject.

I'd like to do this myself, but I have problems deciding how to start, or what subjects to use. So, if anyone out there would be so kind- suggest a topic, I'll try my hand making a short autobiographical comic of it. (If no one suggests, then I'll just use the Illustration Friday topics.)

So help a creatively-blocked cartooning electrician out, would you?

TTFN
-Tony

Hitching Somewhere in the Galaxy

Last year, I won 5th place in a picture competition for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game on BBC.com. I couldn't collect my prize (a cd of the radio version of Life, the Universe, & Everything) since I live in America, so I asked them to donate it to a school library. Anyhoo, I was a little annoyed that it didn't make it into the online Hitchhiker's game- which is basically the old Infocom game with pictures- because quite frankly I thought my pic was a lot more creative and original than any of the 1st - 4th , and a hell of a lot better than the one used for the war chamber in the game. (I know, I'm the modest type.)

It turns out, however, that my picture is being used for the hints page. Groovie, but it would have been nice if they had told me.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, June 11, 2005

False Idols Update



I've been plugging away at False Idols. Here are some more screenshots. I've taken a page from the experts and started rendering in layers. This speeds things up & saves memory on heavy effect shots. So, for example, in the top shot, I removed the rocket & the fire, and rendered the background and sky. Then I removed the background / sky and rendered only the rocket (with the lighting from the fire particle object) using my background animation as an environment map. Then I rendered the fire (with the rocket as an invisible mask so that the fire that was supposed to be inside of the rocket wouldn't be on top of it) with the previous rocket/background animation as an environment map. As this part involved a wacky amount of particles, it still took three days to render. However, rendering everything at once would have taken the computer two weeks.

Speaking of tips from the pros, kudos to 3d World magazine's Mental Roy column for commenting on how horribly trendy & slick the new Dr. Who show is. "Is the Master going to be wearing a North Face jacket?" Blech. Time to pop another Tom Baker episode into the VHS player.

-TTFN
Tony

Sorry It's Been So Long...

It's been a long time since I've actually written a Blog. So, then, here are the random thoughts of the week:

1) Medicinal Marijuana: I don't smoke grass- I'm strange enough as it is (plus I always have the munchies) But I'm convinced the ONLY reason the Fed. Government banned medical marijuana is because YOU CAN GROW IT YOURSELF! I guarantee that if you had to pay the pharmaceutical companies $100 a hit, the government would have no problems with it.

2) Deep Throat: This month's Prize goes to Hal Holbrook, who played Deep Throat (I know, I know, you thought it was Linda Lovelace) in All the President's Men. In a NY Daily News interview where he was repeatedly asked to give political/ historical commentary on the recent unmasking of Mark Felt, Mr. Halbrook replied, "I don't want to comment on Mark Felt... I don't want to become a savant about this. I am just an actor, period. Just. An. Actor. Period." Holy shit- an actor who doesn't think that his political views matter more than real life! Can't we make this guy president of SAG or something?

3) Manifestation: I've finally come to accept that if I want a peaceful / happy life, I have to find peace and happiness within. There's always going to be shit to deal with, weather I'm rich and famous or an electrician (or someone like him.) This is hard, because I've always had an anxiety problem. But for some reason, if I reflect on the fact that E=mc(squared) means that matter and energy have existed since the beginning of time and can only be interchanged, not created or destroyed, then I and everyone / everything around me has existed since the beginning of time and will always exist- in one form or another. Therefore, we are all slivers of God (In more classical Judeo / Christian terms, God is in all of us.) For some reason this sort of grounds me. Give it a shot.

TTFN
-Tony

Quote of the week- "…a story that can never be retold- but now it must be told again! Because evil never dies- but copyrights EXPIRE!"
-The Firesign Theatre, Boom Dot Bust. (Concerning a Jackie Chan-ish remake of Citizen Kane) I HATE REMAKES!