Archive for November, 2010

Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working.

It’s been a while, eh?

I’ve actually been posting regularly… just not here. Most have my ramblings have come from the inexhaustible source of being in a new land. It’s still Canada but seems so foreign at times. Of course I can just babble on and on about the sights I see, people I meet and delicacies I try but in the end my life comes right back to where I dread – this bloody computer. It’s not even my work station. It’s Suzanne’s manic depressive Dell laptop. I’d like to say I’m a victim of my own choices but the term victim implies circumstances that are beyond one’s control. I’m just a guy who’s stuck in an inescapable rut.

It’s a sickening feeling for a creative person to not feel creative. I used to draw a lot. Constantly even. It didn’t matter what the content was, I sketched, inked and colored any kind of content. Lately however I’ve been losing that urge more and more. Last month I forced myself to draw something for Halloween. Something for myself. A project for my own delight and to see if I still “had it”. It was somewhat difficult to get back into the driver’s seat. Doing creative work for others for the past decade or so almost made me forget how to be creative for myself. I produced a piece of digi-art that I (of course) wasn’t all that impressed with despite many compliments from those who saw them. Yes. I’m one of those temperamental artists who is never satisfied with anything I make and always strives for perfection. Since perfection is an unobtainable goal, I’m forever overly critical of myself and bust my hump harping on even the slightest details. Some say that’s a good thing because it always forces you to put out quality work. I say it drains the very life out of me.

You see that perfectionist attitude transcended into my job as well. While many of you may think web design and graphic illustration are a natural fit for my skill set, let me make something very clear – I can’t stand it. In the beginning I did it because it was an easy way to earn a buck . I wasn’t making as much as the talentless hacks that slap a blotch of dog shit on canvas and call it art so I made a game time decision to make the transition. Back in the early days of web & graphic design just applying some aesthetic cohesion to a site amidst the sea of animated .gifs and scrolling marquees made a huge difference. All it took was just learning how HTML code and brushing up on some JavaScripting. Flash forward twelve years or so and now we have dozens of web programming languages, more browsers than you can shake a stick at and all kinds of web elements you have to be aware of as a designer. Not to mention the fact that we’re a mobile dominated society all of a sudden so you have to design for that platform as well. There are so many nuances to web design now that it takes more time making sure what you put out is compatible than it takes to design it. I for the life of me can’t understand why programming, scripting and web languages aren’t placed in the same echelon as linguistic languages. I’m multi-lingual by those standards. I’ve learned so many different electronic languages that I can’t even speak or write English too well at times. It’s far more knowledge than I ever anticipated I’d have to learn and at times I regret knowing what I know.

I guess I lost my motivation with the advent of Flash. Flash and I have always been at odds with one another. I’ve been using it casually since about 2000 or so. I remember I was on a long train ride to Buffalo, NY sitting next to an older gentleman who had his laptop out. I couldn’t help but glance over at his screen. He knew I was looking and casually introduced me to Flash animation. It was smooth. It was fancy. It’s was flashy… hence the name. It was unlike anything on the web at the time. I remember him saying to me “this is going to change the web in less than 5 years”. I didn’t think much of it at the time but in hindsight he couldn’t have been any more correct. It did change the internet. How? It gave number nerds and people with otherwise no ability to create anything from scratch the ability to dazzle and delight simply by learning how to use the scripting language the program used (called Actionscript). Yes, all those tech-heads who were stagnated doing back-end coding for e-commerce websites and such suddenly had an outlet for their uncanny ability to program and crunch numbers. That lead to the second coming of the ghastly .GIF Nightmare of ’98 which I so aptly dubbed the Flash Abuse Agenda. Traditional web programming was cast to the wayside in favor of the new hip and happening Flash-heavy websites. I like Flash. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very useful and powerful web element that has it’s place. Unfortunately when any yokel can bust out some awesomeness simply by being good at math, it kind of took the passion out of it for me.

Who needs creativity when you can program, right?

And so I sit here, in front of this crappy laptop, learning new things in order to keep pace with the ever-changing Net world. I complain, bitch, moan and vent but I get the job done. I made my bed and I’m sleeping in it. It’s when people stop working expect the world to stop and hear them whine where I draw the line. I criticize and vent towards the faceless masses because if I didn’t, I’d be on the front page of some local newspaper with my jacket covering my head as I’m lead away in handcuffs. Everyone bitches to someone about their job. I just do it here so I can get it off my chest and move on. I guess my animosity can be construed as jealously or resentment towards those who simply adapted to the changing times and took advantage of what was in front of them but it’s not about that. I harbor no ill feelings towards anyone who can earn a dollar by doing some work. How can you? I’m more pissed with myself for falling into this inescapable pit of net advancement. Sometimes I just wish I didn’t get so dejected when I got turned down by Marvel at the tender age of 16 for being too young. I couldn’t process it at the time that they only said I was too young, not untalented or unworthy. I just took it as plain ole’ rejection and got it into my mind that I’d never be able to do what I love to do and get paid for it.

If only I knew then what I know now. Isn’t that the story of life?


The Secret Lives of Cats – Part 2

The majority of the day has been spent in feline bliss. The brightness of the day time hours forced the children into hibernation. As the sun slowly makes it way past the horizon they arise briefly to eat dinner but quickly retreat into the shadows underneath the bed after they are done. It’s a long night ahead and this is early morning for the Dynamic Duo…

7:01pm –  The rustling of keys at the door startles the children and they quickly enter the living room to see who is entering the apartment. Still weary from a long day’s sleep and a full belly, Brit turns to Jemaine “She must be home. Quick Jemaine. Pretend like we’ve been awake the whole time. We don’t want her to think we’ve been sleeping all day.”

Jemaine lets out a large yawn as Suzanne walks through the door. He can’t seem to focus on anything because he’s so groggy so he just sits in the doorway between the living room and kitchen, gathering his senses. Suzanne greets him with a loving pat on the head. He quickly gets up and heads towards his empty food bowl.

“Mother. I am so desperately hungry. Father didn’t feed us all day and now I am famished.” he whines to her.

Without hesitation, Brit sits by his side and reinforces his point. “Yes mother. Father is cruel and doesn’t feed us when we want. Will you not help us?” she pleads with large watery eyes.

Suzanne looks towards Ian who is working at the computer and asks if he fed them already. He acknowledges that he did at six, a mere hour ago. Displeased with their attempted ruse, she walks into the bedroom and ignores their pleas of desperation.

“But mother! I am so hungry. Pay no attention to the fact that I weigh nearly as much as a doberman. I’m big boned. I need to eat immediately or else I will die!” Jemaine snaps at her as she leaves.

Brit hops up to a kitchen chair and lays down. “Give it up, bro. They’re not going for it. We’ll have to try something else.”

He approaches the chair and sits next to it. “What do you propose, Brit?” he asks with puzzlement.

“I’m not sure just yet but I’ll think of something.”

7:25pm – Ian and Suzanne have headed out to the store leaving the terrorists by themselves.  Sophie rests comfortably in her bed in the bedroom while Jemaine is stationed next to the couch, spying around the corner at his sister who is looking right back at him from the doorway. They say nothing to one another but stare intensely for long agonizing minutes. Finally the Mexican standoff is broken by a butt wiggle and a pounce by Jemaine. He darts across the room with surprising speed. Brit leaps in the air moments before they collide and lands on top of him. The two tumble into the kitchen in a drunken bar brawl fight that lasts only a couple of seconds. Unimpressed with the way events are playing out, Brit cuts the wrestling match short by hopping up onto the kitchen chair once again.

“You’re playing too rough again, Jemaine” she scoffs at him.

“I know. I’m hungry. I was trying to eat you once again. What are you doing to your fur lately. It tastes awesome. What is it? Pantene?” licking his paw and rubbing his head with it.

She lays out flat on the chair, “Nah. Litter probably. My pantaloons are so long right now that I pretty much pick up anything and everything around this house. You’re probably eating at variety of things when you take clips of my fur out”.

“I’m still hungry though. Why won’t they feed me when I want to?” he whines as he lays out sexily across the floor.

Brit peeks over the edge of the chair, “I got an idea. How about you look in the garbage pale over there? There’s bound to be something to eat in there. If I’m not mistaken I think I saw him put some balled up tape in there earlier”.

Excited with the prospect of a delicacy being available Jemaine quickly springs to hes feet. “For real? I’ll go check.”

He saunters his way over the garbage can and props himself up on his hind legs like a meerkat. Carefully he dips his head into the garbage and fishes around. After a couple of moments he slowly pulls out a used sheet from the lint roller. “Aw man! This is awesome! I didn’t know he put these in here. I love licking these. Lint and sticky stuff is like the best combination EVER!”

Jemaine toils around with the lint roller sheet for a couple of minutes before inevitably getting bored. Having found such a treasure, he makes his way back to the garbage for a second dip while Brit watches from above. This time around however, greed mixed with clumsiness causes him to knock the whole can over when he puts his front paws on the rim spilling the contents all over the floor. Jemaine considers this a brilliant move. This makes sifting through the garbage so much easier. He spends the next 10 minutes or so carefully separating the various pieces of trash. Plastic wrappers, tape and anything sticky are hot commodities in Jemaine world so he’s very meticulous in making sure he lays everything out properly across the kitchen.

“You know you’re gonna get into shit for that, right?” Brit cautions.

Unphased by her warning he continues to sort, “Why? I know mother and father have told me to not go into the trash can about a dozen times already but I know better than them, Brit. I’m a year old now and I know there are good things in the trash that they’re holding out on me.”

Slyly Brit hops down off the chair and begins to help with some of the sorting. “You know if you really wanted a treat – I mean a real treat – you know like the kind they give us when we’re good… I know where we can get them”.

He stops what he’s doing and looks at her with wide eyes. “For seriously? Where?”

She looks up to the kitchen table. “I can’t confirm this positively, but I’m sure I saw father put the container of treats up there. Jump up there and see.”

“Father and mother have forbade us from going up there, Brit. Remember the last time when I was on the microwave cart trying to get at the food they tried to stash away from us? Father chased me around the house for several minutes and yelled a lot at me. I’ll get in trouble” he says hesitantly.

“Yeah but that was the microwave cart. They told us to not go on the counters and the cart. They never said anything about the kitchen table so you won’t get into trouble” she reassures him as she cleans his forehead.

“That’s so true. You’re so smart, Brit. I’m on it.”

He scouts the area out looking for the best possible route up. He locks his eyes one of the kitchen chairs for a couple of seconds before launching himself. In one bounce he’s on the chair and in the second he crashes into the shopping flyers that he didn’t see in the middle of the table. Startled by the unsure footing he panics and makes an unscheduled leap off the end of the table sending papers all over the place. With a resounding thud he lands back on the floor next to Brit.

“I didn’t see anything up there, Brit. I believe you deceived me.” staring angrily at her.

“How could you see anything when you jumped right off there in a second? You suck!” she lashes back at him.

“No you are the one who sucks Brit! Prepare to die!”

Without hesitation they spring into action once again. First they race downstairs into the basement. Brit quickly loses Jemaine amongst the obstacle course of boxes Ian and Suzanne have out for packing. She sits high atop a precarious mountain of items Ian is looking to sell and looks down at Jemaine mocking his inability to navigate through the smaller crevices. When he finally has had enough of her taunts the plunges into a pile of boxes and rampages towards her. His awkward and predictable approach gives Brit plenty of time and a clean avenue to escape past him and back up the stairs. Angered by her evasiveness, he takes off after her in hot pursuit.

They clash once again in the middle of the living room. They wrestle on the ground, each trying to gain the upper hand. Brit fires a few punches at Jemaine’s head but they don’t deter his relentless assault. He puts her in a headlock and gnaws on her neck. Feeling out of position and vulnerable, she realizes this is a predicament she doesn’t like – being on the losing end – and calls a stop to the bout with a serious hiss. Jemaine backs off for a moment. They stare at one another once again for long pregnant minutes trying to catch their breath.

“I beat you Brit.” he proclaims.

“Okay okay. You won that one. How about we go sleep next to one another on the couch. All this activity has made me sleepy once again” she suggests, still huffing and puffing.

“That sounds like a great idea. I’m sorry I tried to eat you again Brit. I can’t help it sometimes. I’m so hungry”.

“I know, Jemaine. It’s okay. Mother and father will feed us when they get in. You sorted the garbage and cleared the table for them. I’m sure we’ll get treats for this”.

“I believe this will make them happy?” he boasts inquisitively as they lay next to one another.

“Yes it will, Jemaine. How can they possibly get mad?”

They drift off to sleep resting comfortably next to one another…

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

Everybody on here has something to say about Facebook whether it’s positive or derogatory. It’s been a bone of contention with me ever since my wife lured me onto it a few years ago. I am a very isolated person. I’m not this way because I’m a socially devoid uber-nerd with no way of expressing myself. Believe it or not I choose to not have many friends. Friend is a term people use far to loosely these days. It takes quite a resume for me to consider a person a friend. My guideline is typically a simple one. Anyone can be a fair-weather friend when things are going well. If you’ve been with me through the bad times you’re either bad luck or a good friend. People think that if you’ve had a single conversation with an individual that you’re instantaneously considered a friend.

I was making the usual “social media” rounds the other day when I made my usual stop on Facebook. The geniuses behind the scenes there feel that because I listed Thomas A. Edison Technical and Vocational High School Class of ’93 as my high school that I should be “friends” with everyone and anyone who graduated that year. Seriously? Are you kidding me? Let’s be real here. I was no angel in high school nor was I the most popular. Check that, I was sorta popular but with people other than the popular people.

Does that make sense?

For four years I rolled with a clique of people that I considered friends. For privacy’s sake I won’t name names but more than likely if you come sauntering over to this post from Facebook you know who you are. In high school you vow to be friends forever because for many, at that point in time, high school life is your life. Unfortunately life determines your friends and I unfortunately lost contact with many, if not all, of the chaps I used to hang out with on a daily basis. This is where I sing the praises of Facebook (for at least a sentence or two). The last couple of years has allowed me to reunite with a bunch of the old guys. It’s cool to see how they’ve aged and developed as individuals. While things can never be as they once were I thank Facebook for being the tool that made finding them possible. That’s all Facebook is. A tool. Status updates, witty comments, shared links and picture posts don’t make people friends.

I sat there and went over the 80 something people I have on my list. The majority are family. While there are a handfulA small portion are clients. The few that remain are what I do or have considered friends at some point in life. Friends – real friends – will always find you at some point in your life one way or another. Technology these days just makes it easier to track them down now. We managed to keep in touch with our buddies somehow prior to the Internet so why should you be tethered to it now?

To my massive graduating class at good ole Thomas Edison, if I hung out with you then then you’re probably on my list. If we didn’t then why in the hell would I want to have you as a “friend” now? Because we share a commonality in the place we graduated? I give Facebook credit for allowing you to group your associates now. Next time you’re there see how many people you can actually put into a legitimate friends group. You might be shocked at the result.

Thank you and have a pleasant tomorrow!

Who here wants to be an ad-man?

This is probably my shortest blog entry ever but I consider this more of an observational experiment than anything. For those who are regular WordPress blog readers I’m sure you’ve come across this bit of humor. The next time you’re browsing through the Freshly Pressed or looking back at an article of yours that has been pressed, look closely at the comments. Hidden within the responses are those that I’ve deemed the Promowhores (aka shameless self promoters). They’re easy to spot. They always sign their comments with a link to their blog – as if you can’t simply click on the name and get there. While many may be genuinely interested in the content there are some who simply want to ride the coattails of success. They stalk the pressings looking to be the first name on the comments list so they can draw some attention from being at top. I won’t lie. I’ve done that a couple of times in the past when I first started blogging but what makes them shameless and me not is the fact (a) I only commented on posts I actually did have an interest in and (b) I don’t have a link to my bloody blog in my signature! Shameless I tell you. Shameless.

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