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She Rolls Brains (Father's Day Edition)

The way Tycho Brahe rolls twenties, my wife rolls brains.  It's unbelievable.  She's undefeated in Zombie Dice, so far.  Zombie Dice?  Yeah, that's one of the things my family gave me for Father's Day.

They really outdid themselves this Father's Day.  I'm so spoiled!

Father's Day Loot

If you click on the picture above, it'll take you to the Flickr page where there are notes, but that's not the whole story. Sure, I got loot that's uniquely suited for me. (And I love it so much!) They also gave me tons of time doing the stuff I enjoy best. I played games with everybody: Super Mario Galaxy 2 with Aaron, Rock Back 2 with Madison, Zombie Dice with Lillian and Madison. I went to Starbucks and read a book for an hour or so (again) while nursing an Iced Mocha.

I feel so loved.  And it's by people who know what I really like, even if it's silly or geeky.  I appreciate them so much.  (And boy, do I owe my wife something special.  This is going to be hard to beat.)

Wonderful Early Father's Day

 We've got some neighborhood commitments on Father's Day, so my family decided to celebrate an early Father's Day today, just for me.

My one concession to the family was to go with them to The Karate Kid, and it turned out to be better than I thought it would be.  (I didn't have any high hopes.  That Smith family is pretty good.  It's a little annoying.)

I spent some of the afternoon reading at home, then went to a Starbucks, got an ice mocha, and nursed it while reading a dead-tree book, Daemon.  I was the only person there without a laptop.

When I got home, the family was waiting for me to play Rock Band with them.  (We don't have a good drummer, but you can't have everything, I guess.  We mostly kept drums on easy.)

It was pretty much my ideal Father's Day.  Gonna go wrap it up with an episode of Breaking Bad or the Moribito anime.


 I loved Ichi.

I don't think this film got the attention it deserved.  And strangely, I think it might be for the things it did right.  I'll explain below.

Ichi is a twist on the Zatoichi movies, where instead of being a man, the blind protagonist is a woman. If you're familiar with the Zatoichi series, you'll know what to expect. You'll see people wronged, and deadly, bloody vengeance.  It's not high art, but it fills a niche, and does so nicely.  There's pathos, poignancy, and a certain serene beauty.  There's humor, too, but the movie manages to stay this side of campy.

Here's what I think Ichi did right, that it could so easily have screwed up.

The beautiful Haruka Ayase was cast as Ichi. The movie usually relies on long shots that take in the surroundings and the peasants dressed in their rags, but it'll occasionally linger on a close shot of Haruka's face, as the blind swordswoman senses her surroundings. When I looked up Haruka Ayase online, I was surprised to learn that she was a shapely actress, model and singer. They could easily have made her character flash a little skin and bare a little cleavage to draw in the boys. She's got it. But there was really none of that in the movie. Ichi remained a tragic and sympathetic character throughout, never a sex object for the audience.

Then there was the blood. In this era of Sin City, 300 and Spartacus: Blood and Sand, we've grown to expect buckets of digital blood flying off of every sword stroke. Oh, and plenty of sword strokes. And there was digital blood in Ichi, too. But it was, dare I say it, almost subtle!  Quite a few fights ended in just one decisive deadly stroke. And maybe there'd be some blood splatter, but not geysers.

It turns out that the movie would have been so easy to screw up for ratings. They could have sexed up the actress and slathered on more digital blood and further removed it from its Zatoichi heritage. But they didn't. And the movie's better for it.

Wanna see some screen captures?  Go see why Lynaeina calls it her favorite date movie.


The Walt Disney Family Museum

My wife and I dropped the kids off at their grandparents for a little date.  We headed to the movie theater, but changed our minds. Instead, we went to a coffee shop, did a little reading and people watching, and then went to the Walt Disney Family Museum.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

It's situated in the Presidio, and the entrance is very unassuming.  We almost missed it, and we were looking for it as we drove by.  

The museum is about Walt Disney's life and family.  It'd have been boring for the kids, so it was a good thing that we went there ourselves.  I found it very inspirational.

In a very modest way, I identified with the creative "individual contributor" Walt who worked at the Kansas City Film Ad Company. But he soon left to pursue bigger dreams and demonstrated a remarkable adaptability and drive to achieve his goals.

I appreciated that after feeling betrayed by a middle-man and losing the rights to work on Oswald the Lucky Rabbit along with losing a few animators, he swore to himself "no more middle-men," and created a new character to replace Oswald, Mickey Mouse. (The telegrams on display and voice-over narration by Walt Disney were fascinating.)

Before committing to the first ever feature animation, he produced an experimental short, The Old Mill, to test out the most experimental and risky parts of the new production. (They have a Multiplane Camera at the museum. It's big and impressive.) Testing out large architectures by prototyping is a technique still used in software development, so I was amused to see Disney use it in 1937.

It was also gratifying to see that Disney gave Snow White's animator a couple of months to experiment with animating the human form before asking for any production cels. (Disney had hired him because he was already a master at animating people.) That's a luxury we don't see in the creative disciplines enough.

Disney was an impressive visionary. Not only did he take animation from short to feature, he didn't feel threatened being in the theater business by television. Instead, he jumped right into it. He figured that T.V. was here to stay. And when he started in television, he filmed in color, because he figured that eventually color T.V.s would become popular. Boy, was he right.

In some places, the view from the Museum was just beautiful.

Golden Gate Bridge from Museum

The museum funnels you from one room to another, and each room corresponds to a phase in Disney's life and career. Towards the end, there's a fantastic two-story room with a walkway that curves down towards a scale model of Disneyland. As you enter the room, you'll see a full-sized reproduction of his ridable miniature train, the Lilly Belle; and hanging from the roof is a Circle Vision camera. There was so much more, too. That room is magical.

There's a little more at the museum where you see some Disney television shows, and the Mickey Mouse Club. (I was struck by the fact that Disney's current production of child stars isn't all that different from the way they were selected then.)

The museum ends with the last few years of his life, and I was surprised to learn that his life and mine didn't overlap. Watching The Wonderful World of Disney when I was a kid was a big part of my life.  Walt Disney was a part of my life.


Holiday and Birthday Loot


Here's a sampling of the loot I got over the holidays. (My birthday occurs just after Christmas.) I can't tell you how much I love that my family respects my unconventional tastes.

Even though I'm a grown man, a father of two, my family saw fit to load me up with some manhwa and children's books. I'm a big fan of some of the comics released by Dark Horse, especially Blade of the Immortal. So when I learned that they released Shaman Warrior (and were only one book away from the end), I really wanted to give it a try.

I'm also a big fan of artwork from artists like Ralph Steadman and Gris Grimly. My family got me two books that look like they're right up my alley: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz illustrated by Skottie Young, and Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Death and Dementia, illustrated by Gris Grimly.


They also gave me a Starbucks card and Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans to go with the great reads. I feel so loved!


Where Page-A-Day Calendar Pages Go To Die

This is what happens to my Dilbert page-a-day calendar pages when they become yesterday's pages...

I would love to draw, but my job doesn't call for it.  (Making UML diagrams is as close as it gets.)


ComicCon '09 Report



Sightings/Meetings: Mike Mignola, Camilla D'Errica, David Mack, The Penny Arcade Duo, Josh Howard
Far Away Sightings: Peter Jackson, Tyrese Gibson
Loot: Nothing, really. Just my sketch notes and some free junk like promotional TPB/manga.

Missed: Flynn's Arcade, Tim Burton, CommunityChannel
Missed Loot: Swallow, Sparrow, BluRay Freedom


I packed a lunch and arrived at the con by 7:00am or so. The line for single-day admissions was already about a quarter mile long and wrapped around the Convention Center to the Marina and along the Marriott.

I'd planned on going to Henry Selick and Neil Gaiman's Making-Of-Coraline panel, but once I got to the con, I realized that I hadn't alloted any time for the gargantuan exhibit hall, so instead, I used the morning to map out places-of-interest. (For me, that was usually artists' booths with interesting art books.)

Yeah, I spent the morning walking along the exhibit hall drawing circles on maps.

ComicCon '09 Map with doodles and Sketchbook

I saw a few artists, like Josh Howard at their tables, but I'd already gotten his signature on his trades (in his case), or they'd already be talking to somebody else, and I was on a timeline. I also saw a few stars like Edward James Olmos and Adam Baldwin.

I did my most fervent shopping for davidd in the morning.

I got in line for the CBDLF Mike Mignola artwork panel a half hour early, and that was plenty of time to get in. There was another line dangerously close that was very, very long. ::shudder:: It might have been Twilight-related or something.

The Mike Mignola panel was great! He spoke about what he was doing as he drew a scene with HellBoy in it. He'd say things like, "I love knuckles with the fleshy parts moving around." He said that Frank Frazetta was an early big influence, but he went through phases, too, like when he wanted to draw like Vaughn Bode and Alex Niño. He said that since he's right handed, he tends to draw from the bottom left to the upper right, so that's why his scenes are always composed with the smoke rising to the upper right.

Sometimes he'll place a word balloon first, without anything to say in it, just because the balloon looks good there. Then he'll have to think of something for Hellboy to say in it.

I stayed in the room for the life-drawing of Amanda Palmer by Terry More, Camilla D'Errico and David Mack. That was awesome, too. Go check out this flickr set.

Camilla D'Errico did all her drawing with a cheap, blue Bic pen. David Mack did his with an ink brush. It was fascinating to compare and contrast their styles.

After that panel was over, I made a bee-line for the line for Hall H. I got in line for the Focus Features panel (with Tim Burton) about 20 minutes early. That wasn't nearly enough. I stayed in that line, outside, for the whole panel. I didn't get in until the next panel (which I also wanted to see), the Sony Pictures panel for Legion and District 9, with Peter Jackson.

After that it was back to the exhibit hall to revisit the places I made note of in the morning. I went from Hall H to the very opposite end of the exhibit hall. Phew, that place it big. After I'd had my fill, I headed back to the hotel, where my family was waiting for me.

It was another great con, but there's far too much to see and do for a one-day pass. Going alone was a mixed blessing. I missed being with friends, but I liked not making any compromises and doing exactly what I wanted. If I wanted to camp out at IDW or Slave Labor, I could. I think the one time I really paid the price for going alone was with regard to the line for Hall H. I shoulda had a friend waiting for the Focus panel for me.


Black Lagoon's Anime OP

As a matter of rule, I don't watch the opening or closing credits for anime on DVD.  I'll watch them once to see how they look, but unless their soundtrack is composed by Yoko Kanno or something, I don't need to watch them again.  That's time that could better be spent watching the show itself.

But every once in a while, there's an exception.  I found myself sitting through the opening credits of Black Lagoon for this one frame.

It's pretty compelling.  The character is Remy, a broken sociopathic murderer.  She is often disenfranchised, stoic or bitter.  Rarely, and usually when it precedes murderous violence, she'll be happy.

That's part of the thing that gets me about the frame.  She's deceptively cute in the still, because her character isn't developed to be cute at all.  My attention always starts with her eyes, smile, and scrawl on her cheek.  But right after that, I become aware of the clues to her menace and strength:  Her two guns strapped to her shoulder harness and the tribal tattoo going down her right arm.  Only then do I realize: "Wait.  Is she reaching for a weapon?"

BTW, I'm done with Black Lagoon now, and am moving on to Flag.


You've all certainly seen these before. Even if it's just for my own sake, below the cut are three videos that I simply adore.

They're "Bathtub IV" by Keith Loutit, "Marry Me" a YouTube video by TROPFEST, and "World Builder" by Bruce Branit. If you've got the time or the bandwidth, watch them in HD, it's worth it.

Click through to view them...Collapse )


Paint.NET Plugins

In case I need to update another computer with my Paint.NET plugins, here's a public note-to-self of the ones I have in my Effects directory:

Never got it, but have considered Reflection by dS810, which would compete with Water Reflection by MadJik.  Oh, but they're so Web2.0.

Also should seriously consider some selection based plugins like BoltBait's Selection Tools.

Maybe I should update my config page with this info...