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    Archive for the 'Life' Category

    Thanksgiving 2014


    Recently I was in Virginia for thanksgiving.  I saw my mother and my Dad and Kay.  I was lucky enough to have an early Thanksgiving meal with my Mom in Staunton,  then a later dinner with my Dad and Kay in Richmond.



    It snowed in Staunton while I was there, but thankfully it was a clear drive over the mountains past Charlottesville to Richmond.


    Snow in Staunton, VA.

    All said and done, it was great to see my folks and my home state!


    My desk at FTA.


    Where I’m spending my days working on the 10th season of the show I’ve been on since 2004.

    Bedroom Remodel Project

    Recently, we've done a major overhaul of our bedrooms. Leo now sleeps in a new big boy bed in the larger master bedroom. No more crib. (He probably thinks he is now king of the house, but he possibly has a slight inkling he'll eventually be sharing the increased space with someone else.)

    We've moved into his old bedroom. We had the idea of converting our bed  (which used to have bedside shelves that rolled out from behind the backboard) to fit the new room. We wanted to do it without buying much new material, rather by just chopping up the old setup. 

    We decided on a wall-to-wall headboard with bedside tables in front. 

    First I measured everything and spent some time circular-sawing in the garage. Next I glued wood planks together to create supports- exactly 1" from the wall as both supports and spacers from the wall, and attached them behind the backboard. 

    Combo of crazy-glue and wood-glue makes a bond stronger than the wood itself.

    The left end peice clamped in place until the glue dries.

    The top rail in place (cut from our old sideboards)- exactly 3"- hense the need for 1" support/spacers. 

    Our new wall-to-wall headboard and bedside tables! I think it looks great with just the bare wood, despite the seams, but eventually we will cover it with a solid sheet of Panyl. We haven't decided what color yet. The sideboards and foot of our bed is also rebuilt from peices of the old bed.

    The room is very cozy, I actually prefer it to our old master bedroom. Today I did some drilling to put all my wiring (phone and various device chargers, lamp) inside the right bedside table. I still have to wire Leila's side. 


    Wow. A 5.1 earthquake hit in La Habra, CA earlier this evening. (About 25 miles from us). I felt our house shake for a good minute. One of the longest earthquakes I’ve ever felt. Usually they just last a few seconds. It wasn’t a violent shake just a rocking motion. The lamp suspended on a cord in the dining room swung back and fourth. Leila was out for a walk nearby and didn’t feel a thing. Leo was sound asleep.

    Space Shuttle Endeavour

    The Space Shuttle Endeavour is in our neighborhood today, on its way to retirement at the California Science Center. It rolled past the Great Western Forum on Manchester Boulevard, passed us and a crowd of our neighbors at 2 miles per hour. 

    Joe Kubert (1926-2012)


    It was with sadness that I saw news reporting the passing of comic book legend Joe Kubert at the age of 85. Here's the New York Times article. 

    I grew up a huge fan of Joe Kubert. He was always one of my favorite artists. Just seeing his iconic signature (with the K and T of Kubert enveloping his name) on a comic book cover meant a real treat awaited.

    He was the long time editor-in-chief of DC Comics, but of course it was as an artist that I knew and loved his work best. Among comic book artists, his balance of black and white contrast was at the top of the heap. I feel his work is best represented in the original black and white line art, minus the color. His drawings were always gritty and organic (perfectly suited to brutal tales of war and adventure that he drew for DC) but at the same time his detailed renderings of machines and weapons were always spot-on. 

    Graphic artists measure their work in 'pencil mileage' and if Joe's could be accurately calculated, it would probably be one of those astonishing figures like "enough to reach the moon and back" or some such. He penciled and inked thousands of comic books from the 1940's into the 2000's. Kubert is known for super heroes like Hawkman, the jungle hero "Tor" but he's probably best known for war comics, and specifically the WWII character, Sgt. Rock.  

    Star Spangled War Stories #144 Feb. 1969

    My favorite Kubert-created character was always Enemy Ace, a WWI era German pilot not unlike the Red Baron; a character with a fearsome reputation who was in reality a reluctant killer.

    2 -page splash and detail from Star Spangled War Stories #149  December, 1969

    War comics are seen today as an oddity; we now take war much too seriously (as we should) and comics much to lightly to conceive of the two together. But what I liked about the DC war comics that's probably hard to understand today, is that they didn't glorify war. They were all created by veterans (including Kubert) who understood it from a first hand perspective. A lot of them were surprisingly anti-war in tone, sometimes almost preachy that it was a terrible, wasteful thing. But at the same time, there was a message of the need to stand up to the world's tyrants, and indeed that among those types falls much of the blame.  Most of the stories and characters were about ordinary people thrust into the horrors of warfare against their will, and then having to survive. No, they weren't always the greatest stories, but they were compelling, and Joe Kubert's artwork did justice to many of the best of them. 

    Brave and the Bold #34 March 1961.

    The Joe Kubert School

    From 1986 to 1989 I attended the art school founded by Joe Kubert in Dover, New Jersey. I'll never forget talking to Joe Kubert for the first time via telephone in 1985, after I had submitted my portfolio to attend the Kubert School. Commenting on my (admittedly dreadful at the time!) artwork, he told me that I certainly showed ambition to be a comic book artist, and if I was willing to do the work and wanted to attend the school, I was welcome.  At the age of 17 to even be talking to a comic legend I grew up reading was amazing, let alone to be granted entry into his art school!

    I had seen ads for the Kubert School a thousand times in the back of comic books I'd read as a kid, and I always had it in the back of my mind that I would go there and learn the art of comics from the giants of the industry.

    My first year at the Kubert School was in many ways my introduction to the real world. I was away from home for the first time, among a crowd of would-be artists, writers and illustrators my own age for the first time, and immersed in how grueling the art of comics truly is.

    As Joe used to say, forget nine to five, if you're not at a desk drawing for eleven, twelve, even sixteen hours a day, you probably won't make it in this business. My first year was mostly that; hunched over a desk drawing, learning first hand how back-breaking the business of comic illustration really was. Class and hands on instruction from the industry veteran teachers was just a small part of the course- back in the dorms, most students could be found hunched over their drawing tables struggling to complete assignments at all hours of the day and night. Like most of my fellow students, I tried to balance the crazy curriculum with the crazy social life of a newly on his own 18 year old kid far from home. (Back breaking days/partying nights/hung over backbreaking days… repeat. The only thing that was a problem at 18 was the hung over part, and not dealing with it, finding ways to get that way without being 21.)

    Frankly, Joe was right. I wouldn't have made it in that business. My first year at the Kubert School taught me that my first love, animation, was more my calling than being a comic book artist. (The Kubert School was split into two majors, comic art and animation) I gravitated to hanging out with the 'animation people', like my good friend Mike Milo, and by my 2nd year was convinced that the animation side of the school was more for me, and I graduated from the Animation dept. in 1989.

    One of the directors I work with at the big F is a Kubert School alumni as well, and over the years I've met quite a handful of them in the industry. Many people who started out as comic book artists have also over the years made their way into the animation industry as storyboard and background artists among other things, as many of the skills required overlap.


    I'll always have fond memories of Joe Kubert himself, as I knew him from the school. Mostly, he was a very approachable guy, and he didn't mind 'ignorant noob-art student' questions about the artistic techniques and the comic business. Like many of the industry professionals that taught there, Joe's office at the school was really his workshop, where he could be found doing his latest work for DC, Marvel or independent publishers. 

    We used to tease him about being a bit stingy, like the time my 2nd year animation department complained about the lack of heat upstairs in the animation side of the school in the New Jersey winter. I could often see my breath in front of my face and we all ran personal space heaters next to our desks until we blew the fuses out every 10 minutes or so. Joe's rousing response was "You guys need pencil and paper, you don't need heat," and the rallying cry, "You're not chained to this school. If you don't like it, you can leave." No one left.

    Other than freezing my ass off in the winters, I enjoyed the hell out of attending Kubert School and wouldn't trade that experience for the world. I graduated in 1989 and began hitting the New York City pavement looking for animation work in the cuthroat Madison Avenue industry which had virtually no tolerance for 'noobs'. In 1990, when a west coast video game company called Sierra On-Line came calling at the Kubert School looking for traditional animators, it was the school's administrator -Kubert's daughter-in-law Debbie Kubert- that recommended my friend Mike Milo and myself to Sierra. A few months later I was living in California, doing animation in the then nearly brand-new field of computer video games.

    My friends and I that attended Joe's school tell war stories about it, but I'm always thankful for the experience. I owe it my lasting friendships made with people there, the start of my career, and much of whatever artistic skills I do possess . I'm thankful Joe Kubert took it upon himself to found such a place where his considerable talents  could help shape the career paths of so many others.

    Thanks for everything, Joe.   Rest In Peace. 

    Life’s A Beach

    On Monday, July 9th I went for a two and a half hour walk down the beach. I walked from Playa Del Rey to Hermosa Beach and back. ( I think about 12 miles total). I was just kind of lost in thought, listening to my iPod and enjoying the ocean and the crunch of sand underfoot.   Boy did my feet ache today (Tuesday)! 

    Meanwhile, I'm busy with the 13th episode of the show I'm currently working on. All part of passing the time while Leila and our son are overseas.

    Hooray, It’s Yellow Tuesday!

    Or should I wait to get excited for Green Wednesday? Orange Thursday?

    Ugh. We get it already, retailers want us to shop, and every single day from here on is a new 'color-event' day. Black Friday coming right after Thanksgiving was one thing, but now it's devolved to an every.freaking.day thing all the way to Christmas Eve. No, I take that back, right after New Years it'll start back up again with all the 'color-event' sales for everyone that didn't get what they wanted for Christmas. 

    I can understand there might really be unheard of deals during an event that happens once a year and you had to wait in line since 4am before the store opened to get it. But how could these possibly be unheard of deals every.stinking.day? THEY AREN'T!

    Someone told me today, breathlessly, how they got a 'Cyber Monday' (seriously??) deal on a 42" LED HDTV for a mere $699. I congratulated them and kept it to myself that 42" LED HDTVs of the same class generally run from $550 to $800. Paying $700 for one isn't a rip-off, but it's nothing you couldn't find during the colorless days of the year. 

    Granted, Leila and I stood in line for a few festive hours during 'Grey Thursday', 2006. It was a lot of fun. If my Dad happens to read this- one of the 160GB hard drives I nabbed for $20 back then is hopefully still spinning away happily in your computer. 

    I saw a related image today pointing out a very funny irony. Camp out in front of businesses as part of a political protest and cops are likely to show up, club you in the head, pepper spray you, and drag you off to jail. Camp out in front a business the day before 'Brown Tuesday' and it's "Welcome, brother! The more the merrier!"

    At Kenneth Hahn Park… Again.

    Maybe I should stop blogging about this place. It's LA's best kept secret and I hope it stays that way! This weekend, Leila, Leo and I were once again at our favorite park in Los Angeles, Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area. There was perfect weather today, and the park features a gorgeous nearly 360 degree panoramic overlook of the city. We once again brought our little picnic tent and blankets and made 'camp' in an area called 'The Bowl', in the shade of several trees.

    When we arrived at 12:00 noon, the park was completely empty. As luck would have it, few people seem to know about this place, and I should shut up about it, because I like it that way! We did invite our close friends Marcus and Kristi and their son Jonathan to join us, and it was great having their company. They also didn't know about the park before we told them about it.

    As the day progressed, we saw probably 20 to 30 other people in the area we were in- the most "crowded" I've ever seen the place.

    Why it Will Be a Loooong Time Before My Kid Plays Video Games


    From( the customer is) not always right blog, true stories from video game retailers:


    Grand Theft Innocence

    Anchorage, AK, USA |

    Customer: “I’d like to buy this video game for my son.”

    (I ring up Grand Theft Auto Vice City and looks at her 7 year old child.)

    Me: “Ma’am, I’d like to advise you that this game is rated M for mature. It contains graphic vio–”

    Customer: “Listen here, I know video games.”

    Son: “Mommy I want it now!”

    Me: “You don’t understand, it’s very–”

    Customer: *yelling* “Are you going to sell me that game or not?!”

    Me: “I will sell you the game, but you must understand that it’s not intended for children.”

    Customer: “[Son] gets what he wants.”

    (Three hours go by and I’m standing near the register. The same customer walks in looking exasperated.)

    Customer: “I’d like to return this.”

    Me: “Is there a problem with the disk? We can exchange the disk for free if there’s anything wrong with it.”

    Customer: “No. It’s not that. I walked in on my son playing the game. I witnessed him stealing a car, driving up to a prostitute, having sex with her, and then running her over and then get out and collect the cash. When I asked him why he did this, he responded, ‘b**** ain’t gonna need that money, she’s dead!’”



    What A Bad Decision Looks Like

    Tyler, TX, USA

    (A woman comes into our store with her three children, one 5-6 years old, one toddler, and another still in a stroller. The eldest children immediately grab Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas off the shelves and beseech their mother.)

    Children: “Mommy, Mommy! Can we have this one?”

    Customer: “Sure, honey.”

    Me: “Ma’am, that’s not a game for children.”

    Customer: “What do you mean?”

    Me: “Well, it’s rated Mature. That means it has lots of violence, and I also know it’s got drugs and sexual themes. It’s really meant for adults only.”

    Customer: *turning back to her boys* “Are you SURE this is the one you want?”

    Children: *eyes now bulging with excitement after they overheard my description* “YES! YES!”

    Customer: “Okay, then.”

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