The Flower Girl Post

In an attempt to boost my portfolio I am trying to make little projects that will showcase some of the different areas of graphic design and art that I dabble in. Today I decided to play with Photoshop’s brush tool and attempt to convey tone and line with the Leaf Brush. Below is a low resolution version of what I ended up with. I’m pretty pleased with it, though I think it needs to be pushed a little bit more before declaring it finished. The whole thing is composed of layers on layers of leaves set to different opacities to give the toned look. Tentatively titled; Flower Girl.

[click to enlarge]

The American Terror Post

Fellow Xbox and comic enthusiast Kelly Williams (aka Treebeer’d) was a featured artist in the pinup section of the new American Terror graphic novel which came out this month. He was badass enough to send his buddy a signed copy which I received the other day. I am not all that familiar with the comic I have to admit, but I am looking forward to giving it a spin and see what he's been going on about. You can check it out at the official website or order a copy over at Amazon.com. Well done ‘beerd! Now if I can only motivate myself to get off my butt and do the next page for Co-Op….


The Incredible Hulk Post

The film does an excellent job of both ignoring the first failure of a film while at the same time picking up where it left off. Assuming that the audience knows enough about the character that they don’t need to re-tread much beyond some flashback snippets during the opening credit roll; Hulk starts of with the clear intent of being a much more interesting film than the first.

The action scenes are much more action-y this time around which was nice to see, and unexpected. I don’t know too much about the Hulk really, but I don’t find the King-Kong rampage fighting to be all that impressive anymore. Seeing Hulk fight more than just smash was a breath of fresh air. (Though at one point he claps his hands to put out a fire and the whole audience groaned.) There where some serious pacing issues between the action and the downtime that where noticeable after a while too.

Despite being a visually intense movie when it wants to be, there’s something not right about seeing the Hulk 100% CG, and the fact that it bares no resemblance to Edward Norton once he goes green is a definite miss on the design team’s end. When he’s actually on the screen however, Norton does a pretty decent job at playing the troubled Dr. Bruce Banner, but nothing particularly stellar when compared to the Christian Bail’s and Downey Jr.’s we will see this summer. If we are handing out awards for cheesy acting though then good old Lou Ferrigno wins for his cameo. Man that guy loves ‘roids.

Unfortunately, as with Iron-Man the buildup and character establishment was slightly marred by the fact that the final clash was a tad lackluster and pretty much boiled down to a good version of something fighting a bad version. The additional scenes that follow do allow for some interesting growth for future Marvel movies though, and are going to win lots of fanboy points. All in all it was a solid and entertaining film despite its pacing issues and the fact that it is largely a retread of sorts, albeit a much better attempt than the last.


The My Car Still Hates Me Post

So after the car issues I had had yesterday, and getting our battery handiwork approved by the guys at Jiffy Lube I headed off to the car dealership to get a new key. During all the hubbub with the car alarm system the key-ring portion of the key has snapped off, so that I can’t fit it on my lanyard anymore. Nothing major- but very annoying considering all the car-crap I was dealing with at the time. Plus I don’t want to get it lost or locked in the car. I show up at the garage to find that it’s not open on Sunday. Defeated I head down to the comic shop on the Trail to sort out my subscriptions, determined to be at least quasi-productive now that I had wheels that worked. I get there and the place wasn’t open yet either. DAMN YOU SUNDAY!

Ticked off I retreat to the Celica to head home and the damn thing wouldn’t start again. I called up the guys at Jiffy Lube who remembered me from earlier and told them my issue. They asked me where I was and offered to send a guy out to jump me. Now this is where my stupidity comes in; I thought the plaza was on the corner of OBT and Michigan, when in fact it was OBT and Holden. So they head off to the wrong plaza, can’t find me and head back to the shop. After waiting in the rain for an hour I call back to find out they had come back to the shop. I asked them to try again, and while giving them the address the guy who ran the comic book store (which had opened by this point and provided much needed air conditioning) overhead me and correct my incorrect street names. Thank god for eavesdroppers eh? Anyway the guys come by and pop the hood, clean off some of the connectors and the car starts up fine. Turns out that in cleaning the connectors they had loosened one of them slightly so that some of the scummy acid flakes from the old battery where in the way of the juice. Those guys where really helpful and more than willing to go out of their way to help me out, which was very cool. The manager there thought I was Guy Ritche because my name is Guy and I have a British accent. He took some convincing that I didn’t actually know Madonna but was still nice to me despite not being famous. He called me Mr. Ritche from then on out still. After they got me rolling again I headed straight down to Pep Boys to get new connectors installed, which was a relatively inexpensive operation. Somehow though it took them 3 hours to do it though, which wasn’t very pleasant a wait. Least everything is on the up and up now, and I shouldn’t have any more problems. Right Celica? Right!?!?

The Get Smart Post

Get Smart was a show that I had never seen, or really heard of before. It was described to me as bumbling detective work that pretty much resembles Inspector Gadget without the go-go-gadgeting. That combined with the fact that I like Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway is hot, and I toughly enjoy anything I’ve seen Dwaine (the Rock) Johnston in, had me figuring it would be a safe bet to go see. And while I did enjoy myself during the movie I have to say there where a lot of moments where I felt I had made a mistake in seeing it.

I’m not sure exactly what it was that didn’t sit well with me, but for some reason the whole movie seemed very ‘so-so’. The actors where great, some of the jokes and gags where absolutely hilarious, and a few of the more memorable lines had me laughing at loud. But with all things considered I felt like the movie was missing something at all times. I don’t know what it is I was expecting, but the movie failed to deliver whatever that was, which is a shame. Everyone else in the theater seemed to have no issues with it though and where roaring in the isles. Maybe its because I never saw the show, or maybe because I was expecting the Rock to say ‘go-go’gadget-Peoples Elbow’, whatever the case may be I felt this movie landed a little flat despite its occasional moments of hilarity.

While I can’t really recommend it to anyone being that I just didn’t get it, I can definitely see how people could really enjoy this movie. It’s not bad, but its not certainly not great. Considering the off-kilter subject matter and TV show-to-movie nature of the film I could see it having potential to be a whole lot worse, which fortunately wasn’t the case here. If you go see it let me know why I didn’t like it please, because I cant really figure it out.

The My Car Hates Me Post

Yesterday I try and start my car to no avail. Instead of a throaty engine grumbling to life, I get a lovely ticking sound when the key is turned in the ignition. Looks like the battery is a goner- so I call up Sarah, Jen and Neil (whom I was going to go meet up with if my car wasn’t dead) to let them know I was going to have to pass on the movie (we where going to see Get Smart at Downtown Disney). They kindly offered to come and pick me up and see the movie closer to me, which was very appreciated. Even further appreciated was that after the movie Jen to us to WalMart got a new battery, which Neil then installed for me. Problem solved! Well no. Turns out my aftermarket security system likes to reset itself every time the battery is disconnected and blare obnoxiously as soon as a new one is installed. Not being able to find the security-manual I was forced to leave the battery partially installed while I try to tack down the instructions on how to bypass the alarm. By this point it was getting dark and the guys had to go. I resolved to call AAA in the morning because the manual was nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, in a last ditch effort to re-re-search the car for the book, I found it stuck to the inside picked of another booklet (Florida heat isn’t to kind to things kept in my glove compartment apparently). Not wanting to disturb my neighbors any more late at night, I opted to make it tomorrows issue. So first thing today I run down, hook up the battery and commence the wailing of my alarm, while I follow the steps to reset the security system. After a few attempts I figure it out and shut the damn thing up. Wanting to make sure the battery is in properly I drive down to Jiffy Lube and have them take a look at our handy work. They offer to scrub the battery connects to get rid of some of the nasty acid buildup from the old battery and tighten up the connectors. They where pretty helpful and friendly guys. After my oil change I head off to get some errands done. Little did I know my car troubles where not yet over. TO BE CONTINUED…

The Short Bus Post

Friday night Bruce and I headed out to Cocoa Beach to hang out with Henry for his birthday. Henry has a condo right on the beachfront that overlooks the ocean, and has a lovely view. We met up with him and his buddy Red, the bouncer for the Cricketer’s Arm’s pub and good friend of Henry. After presenting Henry with his various alcohol-themed birthday gifts we headed off to get some grub at Hooters. Planning on avoiding driving all that night we called up a cab- to our surprise we where greeted by a mini-school bus instead of the standard cab. It felt like we where getting on the dreaded ‘short-bus’ and was a little embarrassing clambering off the thing when we got to where we where going, but the novelty of having our own ‘tour bus’ was pretty funny. We got the guy’s name and number and called him up throughout the night as we bounced from various different bars, clubs and establishments. Red is a character for sure- and not to discount Henry and Bruce, who are pretty charismatic drinkers too- but this guy was a definite treat to go drinking with.

If I had to describe Red I’d say he’s half Mr. Clean, the other half Mr. T. He’s a huge guy draped in gold with a lit cigar behind his ear at all times; tattoos all the way up his arms and a voice that can best be described as Darth Vader with a New York accent. He told me he drank 86 beers in a 24 hour period once. Which I scoffed at (‘I’m pretty sure that you’d be 50% alcohol at that point and very dead’- was my response) but he seemed VERY serious about that fact and not happy that anyone would second guess him. Needless to say I didn’t contradict him for the rest of the night. Climbing off a short bus following him was pretty amusing, and I got some funny looks from people waiting outside the clubs as our rag-tag group stumbled from place to place. The guy was a machine though. I ended up face planting my bed a good few hours before the rest of the guys did, but even then I went to bed around 2. They stayed up till 5 apparently. We where all woken up at 6:30 by Red who demanded breakfast. I couldn’t believe it, but didn’t want to argue- so I crumbled into some clothes and we drove over to a little diner for some breakfast. I was a bit of a mess and had a throbbing hangover- my shirt was inside out which I realized half way through my omelet and my hair looked like I had been electrocuted. Pretty sure I didn’t smell too great either.

After breakfast we headed down to the beach where Red immediately started pounding Heinekens. The mere sight of which made me feel lightheaded. Bruce and I where in disbelief that these guys actually wanted to be awake, but bumbled down to the beach regardless. Henry (who apparently wakes up at 6:00 no matter what) taught me how to surf-fish in the ocean which was pretty cool. He caught a fair few feeder fish, but I unfortunately didn’t catch anything. Lazing about in the water and in the sun definitely helped get over the hangover a bit, but unfortunately the damn thing wouldn’t leave me properly until 4 o’clock-ish. After hanging out for a bit Bruce and I headed back to Orlando. Fun night out with friends for sure, if not a very taxing one. Needless to say I slept very well the following night.


The Panda Post

Kung Fu is the one thing that anyone can sit down and watch for hours without fear of not being completely entertained. The over the top action, the larger than life characters, the ridiculously compelling plots, all topped off with the allure and appeal of Japanese aesthetics. I have not-so-secretly wanted to catch Kung Fu Panda for a while now and have been looking forward to its release since the early ads this year. I was hesitant at first after finding out it was a DreamWorks movie, as their 3D work has not up to this point really impressed me. None the less my like of kung-fu, animated movies and Japanese aesthetics won me over and I went to go see it today. It took only a few minutes of the 2D animated introduction to have me feeling very glad that I decided to see it.

The themeing, characters, action sequences and humor all out did what I was expecting and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There wasn’t quite that level of Pixar polish on the storytelling, but the gags and characters where much more on-point than the Shrek’s of the world. This movie is a step in the right direction for DreamWorks Animation in my opinion, and an all-round entertaining summer movie for the family.

One of Kung Fu Panda’s greatest assets is its voice cast, and it brings me great happiness to say that I didn’t even realize the true celebrity behind a lot of the voices until the end credits. This pleases me because I have always been a firm believer that 3D movies rely to heavily on celebrity voices to carry themselves. Kung Fu Panda’s only noticeable casting is Jack Black as Po- who does a good job, but plays the same character he has in every movie he’s ever done (but with more fur than usual). That’s fine, it works here. But the rest of the characters are voiced by names like Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan…and I had no idea. They could have saved the money and cast Saturday morning cartoon voice actors and no-one would be any the wiser. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t, but I am really pleased that Seth Rogan can do a voice for a minor-character without the need for a Knocked-Up or pot joke following said character whenever he’s on screen.

I loved that they made characters out of the different fighting styles (Mantis is a praying mantis, Monkey is a money etc.)The ending got a little too ‘even fat people can be great’-ish for my liking even though that was to be expected based on the plot progression, but the fight scenes more than dropkicked any bad tastes out of my mouth. So while not as compelling or engaging as it could, Panda’s action and art direction combined with the humorous characters still manage to put on a good show. Plus, any movie where the first line is ‘So you like to chew? Why don’t you… CHEW ON MY FIST?!’ is a winner in my eyes.


The Biometric Post

I am really pleased at how fast my citizenship application seems to be progressing. While under the impression it would take anywhere from 12 to 16 months I have seen a fair bit of activity with my request already. My check was cashed, almost a month ago, roughly a week after mailing it in- which was the first good sign. Two weeks back I got an official letter confirming my request and double checking my address. And this week I received an appointment notice for Thursday for me to go and have my biometrics done. The only next step is to take the quiz and swear in! I am really pleased, and hope that this will be a continuing trend through the final phases of the application. ‘Biometrics’ as far as I know will just be a finger print sample… but judging from the name I am half expecting some retinal and/ or brain scans, maybe a DNA sample or full-body lazerbeam-thing. I’m sure I will be disappointed but I am holding out that at least the fingerprints are taken like in Men in Black...


The Zollo to Quinones Post

Last night was Susan and Mike’s wedding. The ceremony was a close knit affair at Susan’s house with the arbor and walkway setup in the back yard. Lots of people filled the yard as Susan came down the aisle. It was really moving to see both her and Mike besides themselves in happiness, and the ceremony was quite nice. Sarah was down for the weekend, so it was great to be able to bring her along too. Due to the small nature of the wedding there weren’t that many people form the office who we knew, but Buck and Laura as well as Bruce and Stacey where there for the festivities. Victor was playing paparazzi the whole night, but it was great that he was able to make it out too, (even if Susan kept him working). After the food, eclectic-dances and many emotional toasts, Sarah and I headed down to Cricketer’s with Bruce and Stacey for some Newcastles and Scotch Eggs before crashing. It’s really comforting to see how happy two people can make each other, and I am just so glad for Susan that she has found someone like Mike who will devote himself and all he has to her. Congratulations guys.


The GUTS! Family Post

One of the best shows growing up for me was Nickelodeon’s GUTS! (always spelt in caps and with an exclamation point). Three kids competing in a variety of Nerf oriented, bungee-cord events to earn points as deemed by Mike O’Malley and Moe. All their hard work always resulted in a quest up the Agrocrag- a giant constructed metal mountain obstacle course. The winner would receive the coveted GUTS! Piece of the Agrocrag to take home. I not-so-secretly always dreamed of hoisting that large chunk of green-yellow plastic over my head in victory. In fact one night I had a very vivid dream where I did just that. It was glorious. Never mind the fact that the majority of the dream was me figuring out the best way to display my trophy in my room*, the thought of competing was high on my list of to-do’s. On my first trip over to the state with my family we visited Nickelodeon Studios at Universal and I was extremely disappointed to see that they where filming some other Nick show besides GUTS! And that they already had cast competitors. I don’t know what I was hoping for really. (Yes I do, I wanted to walk in the door and Mike O’Malley to come up to me and strap a helmet to my head and hand me a Nerf-Ballzooka).

Anyway, Universal Studios is one again the site for GUTS! Competition as they will be bringing back the show to Nickelodeon and are holding walk-on auditions for competitors later this month. This time it’s branching out to include the whole family and will be called My Family’s Got GUTS! I am not so keen on the change because it means I cant try compete by myself, and with the family being in VA and Iraq right now, I don’t think it’s a feasible bet to put money on us. Thus the only logical step to take is for me to assemble a fake family for tryouts. Without further ado I present to you the Jamieson Family:

That’s Dolph Lundgren as Papa Jamieson. It’s great to be able to say ‘My dad could beat up your dad!’ to kids on the playground and then watch them run to the nearest phone to check if their father is still alive. Mommy Jamieson is Hellga (spell it right bitch!) of American Gladiator fame. She’s a good Mom and only beats us a little, and only when we deserve it. That’s Little Hercules as my little brother Timmy and our faithful family pet Underdog. I’m not in the picture because I was behind the camera (duh). Mark my words we will rein supreme. Do-do-do you have it? Yes. Yes we do.

*I have still to this day never won a trophy for anything--- Debbie Downer moment.


The Wicket Post

This past weekend was the start of this year’s Star Wars Weekends at MGM…er…’Hollywood’ Studios (dumb name), so Tom and I headed out to the park for Sunday. Dawn was able to once again passion some Disney ticket goodness so we could both make it out to the event which was really cool, and as always very appreciated. This year the celebrities for our weekend where Jeremy Bullock and Sam Logan who both play Boba Fett in the classic and original trilogies respectively. I met Jeremy last year (nerd proof here) so we skipped on the Fett’s in favor of the other celebrity who was there; Warwik Davis, of Wicket the Ewok fame (also Professor Flitwick in Harry Potter, and Willow amongst others). He was a pretty cool guy and rather laid back, clearly been to a few of these fan deals before. We was really pleasant and talkative though which is cool and was definitely worth going to see. Also tried our hands at the new Toy Story ride they opened up in the park a few weeks back, and have to say its pretty awesome. I’m a big fan of Toy Story in general, but branding aside it was a lot of fun and great addition to the park. We also managed to hit all the other rides in the place before we headed out. Tom hadn’t been in a few good years and was stoked to get to experience it all again before heading off to LA in a few weeks. After the park I went round Tony and Amanda’s for some obligatory Rock Band and BBQ which as cool. Nice way to end the long day.


The Tom Party Post

Tom has accepted a position on a 3D team down in Louisiana that will need him to be down there and ready to work starting the 30th of the month. Needless to say I am happy for the guy and wish him the very best, though it is definitely a shame to see him go after being in the Art Department for only a few months. This is a big opportunity for him (and a few of his former classmates that are going with him to be on the same team), though I do feel pretty bad that he’s got to make his peace with Orlando, find a place to live and get down there in less than a few weeks.

Last night I made the trek out to the UCF area to go to Tom’s going away party that his buddy Eddie was throwing for him. A fair few of Tom’s former co-workers and class mates turned out to give him a proper send off. I had a good time and I know Tom did as well. I can relate all to well how hard it is to know that you wont be seeing people again for a long time, and heading off to the unknown. No matter how promising an opportunity is there will always be those downsides, so I hope he is able to cope with being away from his home state. I ended up crashing at Tom’s place after the party saving me the long ride back late at night, and letting Tom have fun without worrying about driving anywhere. Win, win. Poor bastard had to
head out to work at Universal first thing in the morning today though. With the heat at the moment I am definitely not jealous of that.


The What Happened? Post

Scott McClellan’s new book “What Happened*” is allover the radio at the moment. Being that I cant stand any music that they seem to want to play down here I have been accustomed to a lot of talk radio when heading about town in my car. Last week all anyone was discussing was McClellan’s anti-Bush tell-all. Many people are raving about it, while others are furious. One of those furious about it was Bill O’Reilly, and I can’t stand that guy. So anything that makes him pissed or aggravated makes me happy, and I feel obligated to read now. I am not one to really be too involved in politics at the moment, but I feel like reading this book would let me at least get an idea of what’s been going on behind closed doors with the Bush administration. Unfortunately the book is FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE to track down. I can’t find it anywhere! I’ve been to about 6 different bookstores in my areas and all of them have either been sold out of have no idea when the book was released because its not in their systems. After a few failures I brought the ISBN number with me to help streamline things but am still without a copy. I have some on order at a few of the more helpful book sellers, but that could take anywhere from a week to two before they receive any special orders. Don’t they know how rare it is that I get the urge to read? (Harry Potter is the only thing that has made me read in the past 15 years) Seriously, they should be buying me the book! I give them three days before I go back to dedicating my reading solely to cereal boxes and instruction manuals. *Insert 24’s countdown sound effect here*

*Complete title in all it’s verbose glory: What Happened Inside The Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.