Posted Monday, December 24, 2007 3:45:24 AM by Bill
My Dad is a kid at heart. A big, six foot, three inch kid. At Christmas time it just gets worse, and my family loves him for it. When we were kids, my siblings and I would be awakened by our father by 5:30am at the latest. He'd be shouting "Ho Ho Ho!" walking up and down the hallways, making sure that everyone knew that he was awake and wanted to get to the festivities. He hasn't changed a bit in the last 40 years. I typically stay at Mom and Dad's place on Christmas eve, like I'll be doing again this year. My brother and my sisters arrive on Christmas morning, since they live close by. But even though we're all adults now, my Dad makes sure we get the same treatment we got as children. He'll wake me up with his bellowing "Ho Ho Ho!" after making sure that he's got some coffee apologetically brewing. After making fun of how hilariously groggy I look at 5:30 in the morning, he proceeds to call everyone in the family that hasn't arrived yet - which is pretty much everyone, since no one in my family sets their alarm on Christmas morning. Thanks to Dad, they don't need to. Everyone gets the familiar "Ho Ho Ho!" followed by something like "Santa Claus came and brought you presents, now get your butt out of bed and get over here!"
My sister Sherry will arrive first, usually still in her pajamas. She's 47 now, so I'm not sure what the pajamas are about, but to each their own. Then my brother Joe shows up, and he's already wide awake because he has the same "get up early" illness that our Dad has. The last of the siblings to show up is my other sister Terry, because she has to grab a cup of Starbucks on the way. As soon as we're situated, our Dad, who is usually adorned with a Santa Claus hat, hands out the Christmas stockings. My parents watch us empty our stockings, and refuse to touch theirs until we're all done. My family was poor growing up, so we used to use my Dad's socks as stockings. It's amazing how much those things can stretch when you really try. You'd be able to tell that you got an apple, a banana and some candy in your stocking just by looking at the outside of it. Now that they're well-off, we get actual Christmas stockings, but I kind of miss those mis-shapen socks.
Now it's time to hand out gifts. My Dad does the honors, of course. This is not as straightforward as it sounds. My Dad does not like anything mundane. Even the tags on Christmas gifts have to be different. They can't say "To Bill from Dad" or anything so simple as that. No, he prefers to label them "To Billy Bob Boy From Sandy Claws" and things like that. Oh- that's another thing. Everyone in my family gets a nickname. No one but my Dad actually uses these names, and that's probably for the best, as not all of them are complimentary. Ask my sister Sherry, also known as "The Nose."
About ten years ago, my sisters decided that they couldn't afford to get everyone a gift, so we should just draw names from a hat and just buy for whoever we drew. My parents don't participate in that. They want to be free to purchase a wholly unnecessary number of gifts for everyone in the family, and spoil them as rotten as they always have. We tell them that buying each person one gift would be just fine, but they actually look offended and hurt by the very idea, so we let it go.
My Mom has always been the head of our family - the person who steered the family ship in whatever direction it needed to go. But on Christmas, she knows my Dad is going to revert to being a five year old again, so she just lets it happen. I think it's one of the things that she loves about him, even though she usually just rolls her eyes and says "Steven Douglas!" whenever he gets carried away.
For many reasons, I'm looking forward to this Christmas more than I have others in the past. Tradition is a good thing, and my family holds on tight to this one.
Merry Christmas, folks!
Category tags: Midnite Madness
Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2007 8:21:30 PM by Big John
I just completed a 9 day trek deep into the Sierra Nevada wilderness, where many interesting things may be seen. I'll spare you the usual tedious mountain peak shots and proceed directly to an amazing phenomenon rarely caught as an image.
Below is a photograph of the elusive mountain ape in its natural surroundings (Evolution Lake in this case), where you can clearly see three prime specimens "displaying" for the females. What superb luck to witness it!
The females appear to be using body pigments of some kind (perhaps colored mud), revealing a hitherto unsuspected sophistication. Do the males wash off this pigment as part of the display? Alas, I arrived too late to view the early part of the ritual, and was soon compelled to retreat due to the risk of being discovered myself.
Exhausted by the exertions of the trail and the giddy excitement of my discovery, I had to rest upon a high slab near Muir Pass.
Next year I hope to return and learn more about these magnificent but endangered beasts. Until then...
Posted Sunday, December 24, 2006 12:02:53 PM by Chris Flick
Last year, I made a blog post here describing a certain holiday song/story that my brother and I used to listen to on a holiday album my mother used to have. The story was by Red Skelton and it was called "The Littlest Christmas Tree".
Since that post last year, I have received so many personal e-mails and responses to my blog from people telling me how they too had listened to that story on that same album and how they thought they'd never be able to find it ever again.
Needless to say, when I did my very thorough internet search last year for this Red Skelton story, I never thought I'd get the response that I have. Last year, I was just trying to find out if I could still purchase the story some where or if that old holiday album even existed any more. Apparently, the album has been re-recorded but the story has been left off. I found a lot of Red Skelton stuff - CDs and DVds but nothing that gave definitive proof whether this story was included on any of his collections. But I did find a web site that had a WAV file of the story. It was here: www.albertarose.org.
If you go to my original blog, you can get the direct link from there. But what I thought I'd do this year is save it to my own web site in a .MOV file... just in case there have been some web visitors out there that have been unable to listen to the Albertarose WAV file.
Here is the .MOV version of the Littlest Christmas Tree, by Red Skelton:
The Littlest Christmas Tree (.MOV)
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season this year!
Posted Tuesday, August 01, 2006 2:53:58 PM by Big John
Burnout is a very ugly thing. That's why I have taken the decision this summer to accompany my brother and his friends on their annual excursion into the high Sierra Nevada wilderness.
It's really neat. 75 miles in 11 days, over hill and dale, flirting with hypoxia at 10000ft and above. Not to mention a planned 20 mile detour cross-country, if you can call a solid rock landscape above 11 grand a "country." At least there are glaciers and former glaciers (called "lakes") scattered about, to break up the rather intimidating mineral scenery.
Of course, death marching isn't our only goal, there's eating too. A whopping 1500 calories a day! Yum. Also there's sleeping, one of my favorite things after a rousing day of death-marching in the statosphere. Technically it's called "comatosing," but that's a quibble.
I suspect that after a day or so I will welcome the attentions of any bears that happen along, altho they may be put off by all that moaning and groaning. Still, the camera will be happy, and that what really matters, right?
Heck, after a few days of far too few calories, those bears may have to look pretty sharp themselves. Even the marmots could be at risk.
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:55:23 AM by Chris Flick
Well, what can you say? Another heartbreaking loss for the senior league in last night's All-star game. Brought back memories of two years or so ago when the National League had their best closer on the mound at the time - Eric Gagne - and he ended up blowing a save opportunity. I know a lot of people probably enjoy a higher scoring all-star game but last night was an enjoyable game to watch.
At the same time though, it also proved to be exactly why I tend to dislike the American League so much. Last night proved exactly how meaningless the DH is - or, at least, how meaningless it SHOULD be. Big Pappi DH's because, apparently, he can't play defense yet he made a couple of outstanding fielding plays last night and, obviously, he played first base when the Red Sox beat the Cardinals in the World Series two years ago so why does he HAVE to be a DH? That's the thing I hate about the American League - and, with the American league winning the All-star game last night, the DH is going to again play a major advantage in the World Series this year since the American League will have, potentially, more games at home then the visiting National League team.
The nice thing is that the National League certainly has some exciting young players that made the game enjoyable to watch. Just sorry to see Nomar didn't get a chance to play... but that's the negative aspect about "making the game count". Garner had to make sure he had to have some reserves on the bench incase the national league tied the game in the ninth. I'm almost positive Nomar would have played in the 10 inning had the national League scored in their last at bat. I still say, in baseball, if 9 men play the field, those same 9 should bat. Ah well... maybe next year.
And now for a bit of a self-plug...
I've just started an Art Blog over at Blogger. The reason i did that is so I can share a wide variety of my art - not just stuff I've either done or am doing for Community MX. If you want to go check it out, the URL is: http://www.csf-graphics.blogspot.com. Come on over and say Hi or leave a comment on some of my stuff.
Posted Monday, May 22, 2006 11:03:36 AM by Chris Flick
You would have thought no one ever saw someone eat 3 lbs. of crabs before...
Hey folks... I've been back from TODCON almost a full day now (got back into Washington DC at 7:00pm last night). So I thought I'd give you a brief synopsis of my trip and what I did, what I thought and what I experienced the last couple of days at TODCON.
Thursday (leaving for Orlando):
My one big purchase for this trip was a Washington Nationals baseball jersey. I promised myself I wouldn't purchase any Nationals merchandise until Major League Baseball got their proverbial act together and named an owner and, since they did that two days before I had to leave, I was good to go with my capitalistic morals still intact.
Got to the hotel a few hours earlier then everyone else, so I got my room and walked around the lobby where I ran into Ray and Danielle Mickey. So, we helped Ray set up the registration table with all the books, t-shirts and name tags for all the TODCON attendees. For the t-shirts, I PROMISE I'll put the t-shirt design up on my web site today or tomorrow (I swear!). While Danielle and I were organizing the name tags, I grabbed Tom Green's name tag and re-inserted the generic name tag sample that comes with all the plastic holders. You've seen them before... they generally have a picture of man or woman with the office supply logo on them. So, in essence, Tom's tag has his name on the front and a picture of some generic secretary-looking lady on the back. I made a bet with Danielle to see how long it would take Tom to discover this. I won the bet with "half a day".
Later that night, many of us went to Roy's - a Hawaiian restaurant where Vicki Berry blinded us with her digital camera. The women is dangerous with a camera, folks! She's posted some of her TODCON pics here.
After the sessions for the day, a group of us went out searching for a good ribs place. Unfortunately, after walking endlessly around the strip mall, we found out the place went out of business so we opted for a steakhouse instead. By that time though, I was too hungry to notice what the name of the place was but they had some gooooooood steak.
One of the TODCON attendees that came with our group was Hassan Ellis. Eating and talking with Hassan is an example of one of the nicest and coolest things about TODCON - it's a chance to meet your peers and "talk shop" in an intimate and pressure-free way that no other conference can. As Paul Davis is fond of saying: You sometimes learn MORE from the "after sessions" then you do DURING the actual sessions. TODCON gives you a chance to discuss and compare each other's working habits, techniques and general advice to one another.
By the end of the evening, we came to the conclusion that Hassan was "separated at birth" from the actor, Richard T. Jones ("Judging Amy) and we all had a good laugh about that as others at the conference told him the same thing (even though Hassan didn't know who Richard T. Jones was).
The morning session, we all got to talk with Scott Fegette and Paul Gubbay (formerly of Macromedia and now Adobe) about all of our "wishes" for all the tweaks, changes, improvements and other things related to the Adobe line of products. My "big wish" was that if we were all going to play "Taps" for Freehand, at least make Illustrator a lot more "Freehand-ish" so it's much more intuitive and easier to use. That and I wanted them to add "bendable triangles" in Fireworks so triangles can be manipulated the same way they currently are in Freehand.
That night, it was decided that seafood would be the place of eats that night. At first, I was reluctant to go since Ray said the place didn't have crabs - imagine that... a seafood restaurant that didn't serve crabs!!! Talk about the horror! But I decided to go any way.
Thankfully, the restaurant did, indeed, serve crabs. In fact, they had three main choices of snow crab legs to choose from: 1.5 pounds, 3 pounds or all-you-can-eat. To everyone's utter horror and shock, I chose the 3 pound selection and casually explained to all the dropped jaws at the table that I come from a long line of crab eaters and in the Flick family, we take our crab eating VERY seriously. Three pounds of crabs is nothing but I chose that instead of the all-you-can-eat selection because I would still be eating there if I did.
I'm telling you... it's like people never saw someone eat crabs before! Amateurs.
Later on, many of us decided to take the Trolley back to the hotel since it was about 5 miles away. Me? I decided to get off 4 miles away from the hotel. Mainly because I had to do some "tourist shopping" to bring back something for my wife and kids.
And... walking four miles wasn't a bad way to burn off three pounds of crab.
Later on that night, I went swimming at the hotel with the Interakt gang where two ducks decided a hotel pool was a nice place as any for a 1:00am dip as any!
Sunday was the debut of the Orlando Jumpstart. I designed the layout while Zoe, Sheri and Jim helped organize and put together. As in Las Vegas last year, we wanted to show a preview of the Orlando Jumpstart and give everyone there a taste of how it was put together and what some of the things you can do with it.
All in all, it was a great session and my first since speaking at MX North a few years ago. Quite a few people came up to me and told me how much they enjoyed my particular part in explaining the design process and commented that they would certainly be interested if I decided to ever do a full session on something at future TODCON. So if you were at this year's TODCON and attended our Orlando Session, what are some things you might like to see from a guy who mainly uses Photoshop, Fireworks, Freehand and Dreamweaver? TODCON 9 is, sadly, a full year away but like I always say, you can never start preparing too soon!
Anyway, that was some of my memorable moments at this year's TODCON. What were yours?
Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2006 4:59:02 PM by Chris Flick
My sudden obsession with Callie (Sara Ramirez)
First off, let me explain that one of the things my wife and I enjoy doing is talking about our "secret" celebrity crushes. She's never made it a secret how much she has the hubba-hubbas for a certain bald Starship Enterprise Captain (Patrick Stewart). And likewise, she's always known about my own hubba-hubbas for Stevie Nicks. But lately, a new celebrity crush has slowed entered my realm. A celebrity crush that appears (mostly) in the background of a certain Seattle Hospital ever Sunday night.
I am, of course, talking about Sara Ramirez' character, Callie, from Gray's Anatomy. I have to admit though that I'm not a long time fan of the show. I only recently started watching it right after the Superbowl (The Bomb episode) but even then, I almost took an immediate fascination with the Callie character - the dark haired, big bodied beauty played by Sara Ramirez (Spamalot). And my fascination has only increased since then.
I'm not sure exactly why I'm suddenly fascinated with Callie though. Maybe it's because I see so much of me and my wife in the George and Callie thing. My wife was Callie when I first met her in art school. She was, on the outside, the one I thought was the most confident, most responsible, most self-assured person there was despite the fact that she wore wild and crazy clothes and obviously - and maybe purposely - didn't "fit in". But instead of turning me off, it was those very same things that attracted me to her. In simple terms, even though she also seemed to try and hide in the background as Callie seems to do, it was her crazy clothes and bold spirit that did the opposite to me.
For me, Callie represents the loner high school rebel chic... the one that secretly probably wants to be cool but knows she can never fit in with the "cool kids" so she puts up that fierce, fake wall of toughness, of general disdain for everything - and everyone - she thinks represents "cool". She's the rebel who desperatley wants to fit in but still fights fiercely for her individuality. Looking back after all these years, that's probably how I first viewed my wife. In my eyes, here was a woman who was working her own way through art school (an expensive art school at that), living by herself and, if push came to shove, definitely not afraid to voice her opinion. While I was a guy who was more worried about fitting in, pleasing all the right people and, generally, doing all the things that were asked of me - especially by any authority figures I thought could influence my future.
Sound like George and Callie to any one?
In the end though, it's only a TV show. I do hope though, that the writers and creators of the show decide to keep her around for a long, long time. My hope is that she becomes the Jimmy Smit of GA. I remember when Jimmy started his stinct on LA Law, he was rumored to only be a minor character and was supposed to be gone after a season or two yet he was so strong and so popular, he became a mainstay of that show. I hope the same bodes well for Sara/Callie too because, for my money, her and George are THE most facinating couple in that show that's all about people sleeping with - and cheating on - each other. Those two seem to have the most genuine things to give to each other - a sense of fitting in and a huge shot of self-confidence.
I hope those two characters are given the chance to expand and grow together even though I know, in TV land - and especially a drama like GA - that rarely, rarley, RARELY ever happens.
But as long as it is, I'm still going along for the ride!
Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 5:03:16 PM by jojo
I am so fed up with snail mail junk mail I thought I'd have some fun. I recommend this for anyone who hates junk mail!
Say you get two sets of junk mail, you know the ones they have pre-paid envelopes inside so you can get your "cost the earth" credit card or perhaps the latest kitchen...
Here is what you do....
You put the kitchen blurb in the pre-paid credit card envelope and send it to the credit card company and then you put the credit card blurb in the kitchen company's envelope and send that to the kitchen company.. I'm sure you get the idea.
It means that each has to pay to have a load of rubbish sent back to them, highly recommended and great fun! You never know, if enough people do it it might kill the junk mail altogether!
Category tags: Midnite Madness
Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2006 1:17:37 PM by Chris Flick
As you can see from today's strip, I am indeed 39 today (March 21st). Thanks so much for all the kind birthday wishes and e-mails I've received so far. My mom and dad reminded me today that 39 years ago, it snowed in Virginia. That's funny because today - in Virginia - they are calling for snow. Maybe not much but it's still kind of a weird sign, huh? Especially given the fact that my birthday also fell on a Tuesday this year. :-)
But anyway... just the other day, I bought Journey's live version of "Don't stop believing" from iTunes. And maybe the combination of my birthday and listening to that tune have put me in a bit of a reflective mood as I can't stop thinking about the fact that I never got the chance to see Journey live. I've seen a lot of great concerts live but every time I hear a Journey or The Cars on the radio or CD, I can't help but think "man, that would have been so cool to see them live just once"... you know, the big arena rock concerts... hearing the thunderous high pitched sounds of Steve Perry's voice mixed in with the great guitar and pounding piano and synthesizer sounds that were the signature of their Escape album...
But I can't really complain all that much. Although I'm not a huge concert goer, I've seen some really great concerts in my day. Some of my favorite:
Stevie Nicks - young and older.
Stevie Nicks was my first concert. saw her in Baltimore back in '86 when I was still in art school. Some friends of mine had two extra tickets but no way to get there. So, I told them if they gave me one of their tickets, I'd drive everyone there. That may not sound so adventurous but considering I was driving a '78 Chevet with a bad radiator at the time, I still don't know who got the better deal at the time.
Last year, at Nissan Pavilion (in my backyard here in Virginia) I saw Stevie one more time. Yeah, she's gotten older and a little heavier and didn't go through quite so many costume changes as she did back in Baltimore but she can still sing with the best of 'em!
Def Leppard - Hysteria Tour
Saw them while I was going to college at Radford University in southern Virginia. They had a theater-in-the-round so everyone had a great seat. Tesla opened for them and wouldn't quit reminding the crowd "who the hell they were" (even though they only had two minor hits at the time).
I loved Def Leppard so much that I made a pair of my own razor blade cut jeans just like Joe Elliott wore in concert and all their Hysteria videos.
Billy Joel - I've seen Billy live five times, once with Elton John
Billy Joel's The Bridge tour was absolutely phenomenal. Me and my best friend, Jeff, were luck enough to get nose bleed seats at the very top of the old Capital Arena where the Washington Capitals used to play. I remember Billy grabbing a microphone and jumping into the floor seats while he was singing "Only the good die young". As high up as we were, it looked like beans pouring down an hour glass or something as the audience rushed towards him. I can still remember the sounds of the crowd bumping and hitting his microphone as he was still trying to sing.
U2 - Joshua Tree tour, RFK Stadium
I probably would have enjoyed this concert a lot more if I wasn't dealing with a wisdom tooth pushing through my gums at the time AND Bono slipping on the dam pm outdoor stage of RFK Stadium (due to a slight drizzle) and dislocating his elbow. Of course, the following concert in Philly, Bruce Springsteen played guitar to "help him out". But it was still a great time and a great concert even though I wasn't the biggest U2 fan in the world. Again, another concert attended with Jeff.
The Outfield & Jefferson Starship, Kings Dominion, Virginia
The Outfield had just released "Play Deep" and had a co-concert with Jefferson Starship at Kings Dominion - an amusement park here in Virginia. Best moment from this concert was the "older" lady beside us (of course, she was probably 39 or 40 at the time) who swore Jeff and I didn't "know no damn Starship songs" and bought us both a couple of beers when we proved her wrong (of course, I won't say how old Jeff and I were at the time).
KISS reunion tour, Nissan Pavilion
Stevie Nicks may have been my first concert but the first album (ok, cassette) I ever bought was KISS: Destroyer. So, finally getting to see ALL of the original members of KISS in concert together was a thrill of a lifetime - especially seeing and hearing peter Criss (my favorite) sing Beth was the best Father's day present my wife and kids have ever gotten me.
I was able to see KISS a couple more times but without Ace and then, later, without Peter (that was the Aerosmith/KISS tour). I wish Paul and Gene would have the guts to not let anyone else wear Ace or Peter's makeup if they are going to go out on tour again. I'd rather see new make-up designs from "non-members" of KISS then "pretend" the originals are still there. I sort of felt ripped off knowing Peter and Ace weren't there but others were wearing their "faces". Only Superman can wear "the cape", you know?
Aerosmith - KISS/Aerosmith tour, Nissan Pavilion
My wife was and is a much bigger Aerosmith fan than I am - especially when it comes to their older stuff. But I never thought I'd actually see someone out -rock KISS but Aerosmith did that night.
Huey Lewis and The News - The Sports tour
Well, I'm sure this WOULD have been a great concert had I actually gone. I bought Huey Lewis tickets from some "grandma cash" I got one year. And even though I bought the tickets in March, the concert wasn't going to be until the late summer. Two weeks after I bought those tickets, some guys I was playing summer baseball with asked if I would be interested in going to Winter Haven, Florida to participate in week-long baseball camp run by ex-pro baseball players.
It only took me a day to find someone to buy my tickets from me.
So... those are some of my favorite concert memories. What are some of yours?
Posted Friday, February 24, 2006 10:51:18 AM by Chris Flick
Yes, it's finally happened. Someone thought I was worthy enough to be interviewed. That person is Dan Smith. Dan and I got to know each other from being members in Webweavers - a Google Group e-mail list for everything related to web designing (and ruled with an iron maiden thumb by our very own Stef! LOL!).
Anyway, Dan hosts and creates audio interviews on his blog. He thought it would be interesting to let people know what I sound like and had the crazy notion others might be interested in hearing what my thoughts were on the wide variety of topics we discussed. It took a while to get all the logistics worked out, but you can finally hear our interview today.
The interview consists of a wide range of topics such as how I got into web design, information about the two books I helped write with Tom Green, the 'Bots autistic benefit book I participated in (and wrote a blog about not too long ago) as well as some of my thoughts about web comic strips - including CMX Suite! - and a whole bunch of other stuff!
So if you're interested in hearing what I sound like, now your curiosity can be appeased. :-)
Category tags: Blogs and Blogging, CMX Suite, Community MX, CSS, Designing for the Web, Dreamweaver, Education, Macromedia News, Midnite Madness, On the Personal Side, This and That, Using the Web, Web Business
Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2006 7:45:11 AM by Chris Flick
I just thought I'd mention that the stylized self-portrait of myself in the second panel of today's CMX Suite strip ("The CMX Zone") was done entirely on a Wacom tablet. I've been reluctant to use a Wacom tablet because, in the past, the Wacom tablet and I have pretty much had a hate-hate relationship. But I was pretty pleased with the outcome of this particular illustration. It is, by far, the best Wacom tablet illustration I've ever done thus far.
I think the biggest reason that might be is because, in the past, I had always used Photoshop when practicing and doodling with the Wacom. But this time, I decided to see what would happen if I used Freehand. For me, personally, I had found using Photoshop and the Wacom together was very frustrating. I found I had trouble controlling the line width of whatever I was trying to draw. Lines didn't stop or end where I thought they would. I'd end up getting big "paint blobs" when I pressed too hard on the pen. For the most part though, I still couldn't grasp what made the Wacom so "special"... I was finding that it would usually take me two or three times longer to draw something using the Wacom then it would if I had just sketched, inked and scanned something.
But I was determined to see if I could get this thing to finally work for me.
So, for this particular illustration, I already had a rough pencil sketch of myself as a cartoon taken from a previous CMX Suite strip but I needed to add the same kind of pose Rod Sterling was famous for when he was introducing each new Twilight Zone episode. That meant modifying the facial expression and the body arms (and adding Rod's famous cigarette!). I opened Photoshop, imported my original sketch that I was going to use as a guide, and adjusted the opacity to 35% (so it ended up being a very, very light gray). I then imported that illustration into Freehand, locked its layer, created a new layer and then started drawing with the Wacom.
In the past, I had tried placing a sketch underneath the little plastic sheet that's on a Wacom but I found this extremely difficult to look at the Wacom and pay attention to your screen as you "traced" the illustration. I found using the method up above was so much more effective. Here is the result of my initial work in Freehand:
After this was done, I converted the file to a PNG format and imported it into Photoshop where I cleaned up and modified various lines. Here are the results:
But... if this is in color, why is the cartoon strip in black & white?
Well, for me, you're not really watching "The Twilight Zone" unless you're watching it in black & white. The more modern episodes that are in color don't seem to be quite as spooky or illicit the same kind of "feel" as the "classic" black and white episodes do. And, since I was essentially spoofing these "classic" Twilight Zone episodes, it made sense to convert this illustration - as well as the Ryan Celldisbak one - from color to grayscale.
I never really colored anything in grayscale before so I was reluctant to "paint" with a grayscale palette. I was afraid if I did so, I would end up making the gradient levels way too dark so I decided to draw inspiration from Mel Brooks and the "Young Frankenstein" comedy he wrote and directed years ago with Gene Wilder.
I remembered seeing "behind-the-scene" photos of some of the make-up work from that movie and could never understand why Mel decided to have all the make-up (especially the Frankenstein monster) in colored make-up when he was going to eventually film in black and white. At the time, that didn't make sense but today it does.
By initially coloring all the characters in full color and then converting to grayscale, I got much richer details and the results were much more softer and gentler on the eyes then had I done everything in shades and tints of black.
Anyway, that's my little road to discovery with today's strip. I hope you enjoyed it.
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 7:43:16 PM by Big John
It's the little things that get you.
The day started normally, as I arose to go fetch a load of horse dung (from a friend who owns several of the big guys), for use in this spring's garden. The air was crisp, the sun was shining low, and all was right with the world.
I arrived on time, and Les was inside his house practicing on his saxaphone. We both play in the same band. Les is so experienced that he sometimes serves as director, and a hard taskmaster he is. Knock knock, and he comes out, insisting on helping me bag. What a guy.
We got straight to work, and commenced to engage in deep intellectual discussions, whilst scraping up the stuff not mentioned in those exciting western epics. The time flew by. Soon there was a big pile of bags.
When we had a full load, I threw the bags in the van. The physical work done, we got down to serious dicussifyin', and then it happened. There was something tiny in my throat, and coughing was not helping. After a while the tickle eased up, but a new problem appeared. I realized I was rubbing my left eye far more than usual. It got worse. And worse. Soon the right eye was involved too.
Not being the panicky kind, I broke in, to "mention" that there was something amiss with my eyes. Mere moments later, you would have seen me, arms akimbo, stumbling into the house to irrigate my protesting pupils in the first wet concavity I could find.
Mind you, this western boy does NOT get allergies! And yet, here was proof positive that invisible airborne "pollutants" could easily lay me low without warning. Oh no! Somehow I pulled it together, and hied on back to town with the goods. There, my wise old landlady applied aloe vera to the affected orbs, and it got a little better. But even now, many hours later, the painful puffyness persists.
Was this a Judgement? Have I become complacent, thus inviting a stern universe to apply some "real world schooling?" Don't know, don't care. All I know is, I'm really, REALLY, tired of this crap.
Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 9:45:36 AM by Chris Flick
So this Christmas, I seem to find myself in a very nostalgic mood. Last night, while getting some last minute gifts - okay... after desperatly searching for that ONE %$#&^% gift I still haven't been able to find - I came across a Christmas CD called "Oldies but goodies". One of the songs happened to be an old childhood favorite of mine that I very rarely ever hear on the radio any more. It was "Snoopy's Christmas" by The Royal Guardsmen.
My brother and I used to listen to that song on the radio all the time on Christmas
Eve as we were trying to keep ourselves desperately awake in order to see Santa.
And even though I didn't care for the rest of the songs on the album, this one
was worth getting so I plunked down my $5.00 and happily strolled out the store.
Along the way home though, listening to Snoopy fight the Red Baron during Christmas time got me to recall another long time tradition my family used to do on Christmas eve.
There was an old Christmas album my mother loved. There were a ton of songs
on it but there was one selection that always seemed to hold a special place
in my heart. It was a touching little story about a small Christmas tree that
realized he was dying but a visit by Santa on Christmas Eve makes him realize
what his purpose is.
It took me a while to find it since I didn't know what the title of the story was or who even narrated it. But thanks to lots of creative Google and Yahoo searches, I am happy to say I found it.
The story was an old radio play by Red Skelton. And, if you're interested, you can listen to the WAV format by clicking here. You should bare in mind though, that this is a very old recording so some things are dreadfully out of date.
But it's still a very touching story and takes you back to a gentler and perhaps a more simpler time too.
Now to get back home and start watching the 24 hour marathon of "A Christmas Story"!!!
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2005 11:23:42 PM by Chris Flick
Hello everybody. Today, I thought I'd write another movie-related blog since I've seen so many over the years. But I thought I'd do something a little bit different. I thought I would list all of the wonderful knowledge I have accumulated over the years thanks to Hollywood. Consider this a "Guideline to life according to Hollywood (and Chris Flick)".
THINGS ACTION ADVENTURE MOVIES HAVE TAUGHT ME:
1) If you're going to be a bad guy, you must have a British
Preferably, to be REALLY bad, you should also be German but have a British accent.
2) When approaching your car, you should always drop
your keys to the ground.
I mean, seriously, how else are you going to notice the blinking red light of the bomb that's been planted underneath your car?
3) Bad guy uniforms always come
in a "one-size-fits-all"...
After all, that's why it's so easy to penetrate the evil bad guy's lair.
4) Pistols or hand guns are better weapons then automatic
Everyone knows when bad guys shoot automatic weapons, they don't hit diddly-doo-doo, but our hero always hits his target with his trusty hand gun.
5) Always make sure you have a full arsenal of bullets.
Bwwwwhahahahahahahahahahahaha! Seriously??? Bullets? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that out loud. Everyone knows there's no such thing as handguns needing reloading in an action/adventure film.
6) Run - don't walk carefully - through a booby trapped
If you run, none of the booby traps will affect you - especially after you have replaced a statue with a bag full of sand. But if you carefully try to crawl through the booby traps, that's when you get hit by the poisoned darts.
7) Macs rule!
In the Hollywood-world, Macs are the dominant computer/operating system - especially when it comes time to infect an unstoppable alien race by infecting their mother ship with a virus. But... if Macs don't get viruses, how can they transmit one... never mind., You heard NOTHING!!! NOTHING, I say!
8) Worst bad guy mode of transport? A helicopter.
If you're in the city, your helicopter will always touch electrical wires. If you're in the desert, your pilot will always crash into the side of a mountain. As a bad guy, you should avoid helicopters at all cost.
9) Need a car? Just flash a badge.
Everyone knows you're suppose to stop and surrender your car to anyone who flashes a badge in front of you.
10) Heck, it's only my pension. What do I need that for?
If you're a cop about to retire, you will always be talked into risking your career, your retirement, your reputation, your children's college tuition by breaking every rule and regulation you ever believed in because that's the only way to "get the bad guys".
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 1:04:33 AM by Big John
The news has been so bad, and only seems to get worse. But even amidst the carnage of Man and Nature, life finds a way to keep going, somehow.
This little guy got tired of waiting for help and took things into its own paws.
The escape of one tiny kitty from the flood won't change the problems facing others, but it does show that nothing is ever a "total" disaster. As the old saying goes, "This too shall pass."
What amazes me is how such a small cat made such big waves! New life wants to live, and won't be denied. Like that cat, the ravaged land and its survivors will endure, and somehow pull thru. That's just how life is.
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 1:05:53 AM by Big John
As a confirmed Spacebug, I'm always aware of the gadgets we humans send careening or crawling around the neighborhood. Cassini is performing its massively pre-choreographed 4 year loop-dance around Saturn with dizzying precision, playing tag with the various moons and rings. Other probes are snapping the Sun, capturing the Cosmos, and roughing up innocent comets. This is the real Golden Age of space exploration, folks.
But one achievement surpasses all others of recent memory. At this very moment down on the dusty surface of the Red Planet, two ridiculous six-wheeled contraptions are driving around, imaging, sampling, and spectrumizing for us, and they have been doing this in a cold harsh alien enviroment for almost a full martian year. That's about two Earth years, kids.
"So what?" I hear you say? Well, prior to this mission, Mars was known as the "mission graveyard," swallowing up two thirds of the machines we sent its way. But we got both rovers down on the surface in perfect condition, despite scary last minute changes to adjust for dust storm activity. Then once down, a software glitch nearly killed off Spirit in the first month of service. Only an emergency "backdoor" recovery command secretly installed by a paranoid JPL geek saved the day.
Our high tech dune buggies were only meant to last 90 days with any confidence, altho it was hoped that they would stand up longer. Also remember they have had NO maintainance in all this time, unless helpful Martians are sneaking around at night with socket sets and lube guns. Besides that, these are solar powered toys, and dust buildup was supposed to eventually smother their power flows forever. Amazingly that hasn't happened, thanks to playful and very handy dust devils that apparently come along and perform "cleaning events," thank you very much!
Each rover is sporting a bum wheel now, but they persevere, dragging, pushing, and damn well FORCING progress to happen. Opportunity plowed into a big soft dune and got stuck for weeks, but dang if it didn't bust loose once more. Spirit had nothing but boring basalt to look at, so it "headed for the hills" almost two bloody miles distant across a rubble strewn plain, climbed them hills (with 5 working wheels and an anchor-wheel, in winter yet), and is now poised only 70 meters from the highest summit! Veni vidi vici.
These go-carts were never meant to be billygoats. They aren't really dune buggies. Their "brains" are available only thru a very slow and intermittent dialup from Earth. And yet they soldier on. They have survived crisis after crisis, many not well known to the public. Spirit has lasted so long that its rock abrasion tool is wearing out! Nobody ever suspected that would become a problem, and now they have to do wheel scuffs as a substitute. Hey, whatever it takes, man.
Finally, they have totally nailed their primary mission, to see if Mars really was once a wet world. It was, and we now know this thanks to those two beautiful expressions of the Geek Spirit. Millions of Geek-hours and about a billion bucks went into the mission, and it has paid off big, BIG TIME.
When I was young I dreamed of such things, but it seemed absurd to suppose it could ever actually happen, especially after we found out how expensive and difficult space travel really is. Many other geeks dreamed the same dreams, and somehow made it a reality. Now only one big question remains to be settled there.
Was Mars once a living world, and if so, does it still live?
This geek expects to learn the answer one day.
Posted Thursday, August 04, 2005 12:48:36 AM by Bill
Ooops. Just noticed that Tom Muck has passed the baton over to me. I really haven't got that much to share since I was only a Team Macromedia Member for a short time, but I have received a few goodies over the past couple years:
- 2 long-sleeved shirts (one of which I traded with Angela Buraglia due to size concerns)
- A great box of chocolates. I don't remember the brand, but man, they were good.
- 1 flash drive. It's come in handy a couple of times.
- 1 T-shirt
- A Brand New Car! OK, that's a dirty lie, but it was fun to say it.
My favorite was actually the chocolate. I cannot emphasize enough just how good those were. I would have paid more attention to the brand and bought myself some, until my wife told me how expensive they were after checking online. Free chocolates are much better than paid-for chocolates.
The most unusual would be one of the long-sleeved shirts. They sent me one that was the perfect size, and another that I would've popped the buttons on had I actually tried to button it.
Five people I'm passing the baton (but they'll have to read this blog to know they've been passed to)
Hopefully I haven't select anyone who has already been passed the baton...
Category tags: Midnite Madness
Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2005 4:29:40 PM by Chris Flick
Since "Batman Begins" has been doing so well at the box office of late, it seems sad to mention the recent passing of one of Batman's more popular artist as Jim Aparo - a popular artist during the comic book highs of the 1980's - has recently put down his pencil for the final time.
Although Jim continued to work in comics all the way up until a few short years ago, he probably became best known for his work on "Batman and the Outsiders" - a book which teamed Batman up with five little used DC comic heroes at the time. Although the book never reached the popularity scales as John Byrne and Chris Claremont's X-men or George Perez and Marv Wolfman's Teen Titans did during that same period, it did reach a high point where Batman and the Outsiders took on the Teen Titans in a two issue series. It was during that two issue story that Robin (Dick Grayson) began to break away from the identity of being Batman's kid sidekick and helped propel Robin into more of an individual character like the one created on film by Chris O'Donnell.
Here is a duplication of the promotional piece for the Batman and the Outsider's comic book and a sample of Jim Aparo's style:
This is what DC Comics had to say in its release:
OUTHINGTON, Conn. - James N. Aparo, an illustrator for DC Comics
for more than 30 years who drew Batman, the Green Arrow and other
action heroes, has died.
Aparo died Tuesday at home after a short illness, said his daughter,
Donna Aparo. He was 72.
Aparo, who grew up in New Britain, brought characters to life in his
home studio in Southington, corresponding with DC Comics through the
mail. He retired about four years ago, his daughter said.
Besides Batman and the Green Arrow, Aparo also did illustrations for
Aquaman, the Brave and the Bold, Phantom Stranger and Spectre.
His big break came in the late 1960s when he was working for
Charlton Press and his editor got a job at DC. The editor, Dick
Giordano, brought Aparo with him to the comic book maker.
In a 2000 interview with Jim Amash for Comic Book Artist, Aparo said
he went to Hartford Art School for a semester, but was mostly self-
"I just drew as a kid and went with it," he said. "I studied
copied comic strips and comic books. I grew up with Superman,
Batman, and Captain Marvel. I really liked Captain Marvel Jr. by Mac
Raboy. That was beautiful stuff. I liked Alex Raymond, Milton
Caniff ... all of those guys."
Aparo is survived by his wife, Julieann, and three children.
On another sad note...
It looks as though James Doohan's fight against Alzheimer's disease has ended as well. Scotty, at the age of 85, has finally beamed up for the last time as well.
For Star Trek fans every where, I am sure this must be a sad, sad day. Just as it must have been when DeForest Kelley passed away.
I was never a huge "dress-myself-up-in-Federation-outfit-and-go-to-Trek-convention" type fan, but I do enjoy the Star Trek universe very much and used to enjoy watching the "classic" Trek episodes every night at midnight in my dorm room in college. And later, along with my wife, we became big Next Generation fans (but I think that had more to do with my wife's affection for bald headed men more so then her fascination with the show). :-)
You think these characters are going to live forever and then suddenly, the human being who portrayed them dies and you are left remembering that they were just characters on film that were portrayed by mortal actors. Of course, Scotty and Bones WILL always live forever on screen... Deforest Kelley and James Doohan may have passed on but they have given us Bones and Scotty to enjoy until the film they live on disintegrates into dust.
Still though, for my money, Scotty will always be defined by three different episodes:
- His part in the original "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode
- His part in saving the human race in "The Voyage Home" - I mean seriously... can any Mac enthusiast NOT crack up in laughter as Scotty sits down at an old classic Mac and says "Computer...on..."???!!! :-)
- And his later appearance in the Next generation episode where he was able to set up a continual transporter beam in order to keep himself alive (although you would think you wouldn't gain any weight or age in a transporter beam loop but that's neither here nor there, right?).
It looks as though it's a sad day indeed.
Posted Monday, July 04, 2005 12:44:00 AM by Big John
As I write, Nasa is moments away from giving Temple 1 a really good poke in the eye. It is being delivered in the form of 2/5ths of a ton of copper arriving at 10 kilometers per second.Nasa site
Normally Astronomy is a staid, sopoforic endeavour, but this one time they will get a chance to actually make something happen "out there". Tonite every amateur and professional Astronomer will be united in the primal desire to WHACK THAT PUPPY! Yeah.
Talk about a defining moment. Only problem is, once these geeks get a taste of direct action there will be no holding them back! Before we know it, there will be pockmarks on every solid object within reach. We have to head this off while our beautiful solar system remains intact!
I urge all to join with me in the "Hands Off Our Celestial Bodies!" campaign. We must bring home to those soon-to-be-wild-eyed telescope jockeys the understanding that the cosmos is NOT their personal shooting gallery! Geeze, why don't they just go play paintball or something?
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 5:11:12 PM by Chris Flick
Well, Forbes put a little slide show together to show if you got the cash, baby, ANYBODY can be a self-made super-hero. Of course, many of us aren't born into a life of luxury like Bruce Wayne was, so those of us who are missing a few screws loose upstairs but still want to fight SUPER VILLAINS... well, they are just going to have to do it on the cheap. Forbes not only tells you HOW it can be done, they also tell you HOW MUCH it's gonna cost you.
So folks, it's time to pull out your handy-dandy check book and write out that $3,365,449 check to the super-hero's union guild. What? You say you don't have $3,365,449 laying around? That's okay. I hear that Tom Green fellow has a few bucks to spare. I'm sure he wouldn't mind giving you a loan. Of course, he might make you paint a symbol of a bag of milk on your chest but those are the consequences you have to live with when you borrow so much money from a Canadian. ;-)
But speaking of rich, fictional characters...
Forbes also made an interesting list of the top 15 richest fictional characters. You should check out their slide show to see where (or if) your favorite fictional character ranks on their list.Here are just a few names that appear on this list (so you know when Forbes says "fictional", they mean "fictional"):
That Bruce Wayne fellow
and Thurston Howell III
These are just some of the names that pop up. And each character has a humorous and entertaining bio written about them to explain exactly why they are one of the richest 15.
Of course, with only 15 names on the list, it's easy to say "Hey! What about my favorite fictional character?". For instance, after reading that list, I can't help but to wonder where on that list one of my favorite characters might rank. I mean, after all, he is a world renowned professional race car driver who has never lost a race and drives one of the most technologically advanced cars in the world.
I am, of course, referring to none other then Speed Racer. You would think - using NASCAR or even the Indy 500 as an example, Speed would be making millions and millions of dollars in endorsements alone... and if Tiger Woods can be considered one of the highest paid professional athletes of all time, imagine what Speed would be making - especially considering the fact that he has NEVER LOST A SINGLE RACE! You would have to imagine his winnings would easily eclipse what Tiger currently makes and his endorsements would easily outmatch what Michael Jordan made during his career.
For that matter, why isn't Pop Racer on this list? He's just the inventor of the world's greatest race car - The Mach 5. I'm sure lots of governments or companies would be knocking down the Racer's family door at a chance to buy, purchase or hire Pop Racer as a consultant for their company. Surely he could use that kind of leverage to end up being a CEO of some high tech company somewhere.
So... did YOUR favorite fictional character make Forbes list? If not, who is he or she and where do you think they might rank on this list?