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People, by nature, have some interesting things to say. Here are some of my things. Some about acting. All about living ...

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday and my dad-in-law

Today is Good Friday -- that day where Judeo Christians remember the day Jesus died.

Wait -- What?

So here's the deal:

For Christians, Jesus died on Friday. He rose from the dead on Sunday. So, it was in restrospect that the Friday he died was "good" -- It probably didn't feel that good at the time.

This year, it's also the first anniversary of my dad-in-law's death -- and it somehow feels right that for this first one, it's on Good Friday.

I've said before Victor Wallace Tirabassi was a "good man who made people better." I'm not so foolish as to elevate him to any version of pseudo sainthood, but he is a real-world inspiration whose example that has driven me forward as a husband, dad, and worker, in some ways as much as my own dad.

A year ago, when dad died, my oldest asked if we could make the anniversary of his death a holiday -- "Poppa Day" -- to celebrate all of the good memories.

Smart kid.

And this year, Poppa Day and Good Friday share a date.

Original Posts:

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Monday, March 22, 2010

My daughter's perspective on my new job

My daughter gave me an excellent perspective check this week about my new toy job.

I'm in the process of traveling back and forth between Austin and North Carolina as we finalize our move back to Texas, so I was in NC last week visiting my girls and fixing home inspection stuff (and glad that I'm handy).

While driving for an errand with my oldest, she looked up from her book, and asked:


Yeah, Sweetie?

How's work going?

It's going great, Hon. I really, really like it.

Are you working long hours?

I am.

Are you making as much money as you were before?

No, but --

That's OK. At least you're working for two companies you like Marvel and Disney and they have all those characters you like so much and you're getting to play with them and doing something you love and you're making a GAME and people buy games because they want to do something fun and your job is to work making it more MORE fun for them.

Um ...

So it's OK if you're working long hours and aren't making as much money and are in Texas away from us for a little while.

I love you, Sweetie.

I know.

(Goes back to reading her book.)

Yeah, that worked.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010


I had the best of intentions (and still do) to do a post about the result of this decision, and its follow-on impacts.

But the short version is I'm working for Junction Point, making the Epic Mickey game for Nintendo's Wii console.

All of this means that I'm (a) working with Warren Spector, (b) working for Disney (and therefore Marvel), (c) making video games and other creative expressions. Friends and longtime readers* know what a head-exploding good thing all of this is for me.

And yes, I am now back in Austin, Texas, bouncing around from generous couch to generous couch (and sometimes even getting a bed), and bouncing back and forth between Austin and NC as I try to sell my house there, and take care of my family who's so awesomely sacrificing so I can pursue this crazy gig.

With all of this, I'm slow boating the "getting back into the Austin acting scene" (other than voice work), because new job plus crunch isn't conducive to me being out for a few days at a time for film shoots.

But I'm excited to get back into it here, because the acting landscape has changed surprisingly over the last two years, I'm jonesing to be back on a set, I'm burning the candle at both ends, and all this plus the whole not having a pot to piss in has made me ****ing raw and ready to do some daring stuff.

More soon(ish).

* Not the same thing.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Aaron Hallaway's new commercial

I like Aaron Hallaway. Talented guy (actor / writer / independent creative). Good friend.

He has a new commercial (he's about 43 seconds in) -- VeriSign's "Company Information" video:

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fede Alvarez and Ataque de Panico!

Man, I so love to see this kind of thing.

First, Neill Blomkamp with what was "Alive in Joburg" becoming District 9, then Timur Bekmambetov with "9" (which became, uh, 9), now another independent film maker, Federico "Fede" Alvarez -- who's been scrapping through at least 3 previous films since the turn of the century -- gets Hollywood attention for his short trailer, "Ataque de Panico!" (Panic Attack). And, in Hollywood, "attention" means "money".

So Alvarez is now getting recognition outside of his native Uruguay, $30 million, and -- probably most importantly -- a business relationship with caliber production studio Ghost House Pictures (Sam Raimi? Writer of Spiderman 3 (director of all 3)? Director for everything from Evil Dead to Darkman?)

Neat Cinderella story, and it’s so cool to see a guy who’s been working his tail off in film for at least the last 9 years pocket $30M – and better, build a business relationship with someone like Raimi.

Here's the music video version South American rock / punk band SNAKE, if that's more your thing.

And -- quick rant -- I hope I stop seeing Alvarez called an "unknown". Dude's been working hard for nearly a decade. He's unknown to some U.S. folks. But not for long.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Favorite comic book covers

As part of celebrating 70 years, Marvel is having a Favorite Covers Countdown.

I can only pick 5, which is nowhere near enough, so I'm listing my favorites here, instead. Oddly, they don't have every cover online, so I'm just listing the ones they do -- so you can look at them, and not realize how much of a geek I am digging into my collection (what, no Alien Legion? No Deathlok?).

In no particular order:
  • Alpha Flight #1 -- John Byrne sentimentality.
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 -- First appearance of Spider-Man.
  • Astonishing X-Men -- #3 (John Cassaday's leaping Wolverine, back in the yellows) and his #4 (return of Colossus).
  • Avengers #503 -- The "Avengers Disassembled" cover, with Captain America sitting on the floor amidst Ant Man's helmet, Mjolnir (Thor's Hammer), Hawkeye's bow and arrows, the Scarlet Witch's headband, Iron Man's helmet, and the visions cape. Sad and weighty.
  • Captain American -- #248, #250, #254 are John Byrne covers and Roger Stern arcs. Ish #248 was actually one of my first comics as a kid (and then I went back-catalog as an adult), #250 is the "Cap for President" cover that graces one of my favorite political Ts, and #254 is Baron Blood and Union Jack. Oh, and Mike Zeck's Annual #8, with Wolverine in his brown duds sparking off of Cap's shield.
  • Captain America (2004 series) -- There are sooo many good Steve Epting covers here. I'm particular fond of the gravitas of Captain America at the graveyard in #4, the powerful S.H.I.E.L.D. cover of #9, both the bloody jersey and newspaper Epting variants of #25, and the Alex Ross variant of the not-yet-release issue #600.
  • Daredevil -- #183, with Punisher unloading into Daredevil, shortly before Punisher crossovers became obnoxious. And there's David Mazzucchelli's excellent #228, which vividly shows Frank Miller's deconstruction of Matt Murdock, and his cover for #233, which is a powerful issue where Daredevil gets done with the Kingpin.
  • Devil Dinosaur #1 -- Another of my first comics as a kid, and Jack Kirby owned me.
  • Excalibur (first series) -- Wow, Alan Davis, Ron Lim, and Rick Leonard did some great, fun covers. I really dig Davis's #1 (team intro) and his wraparound #4 (first of the cross-time caper arc). Oh, and #23's riff on "Days of Future Past".
  • Giant-Size X-Men -- First of the new team, and the long-time core members many of us remember as "the" X-Men.
  • Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1 -- I can't remember who painted this cover, but it is gorgeous.
  • Howard the Duck #1 -- I think this is a Frank Brunner cover, and it's got Howard, Red Sonja, and Spider-Man. Yes it does.
  • Immortal Iron Fist #1 -- Dunno, but for me this David Aja cover just captures who Iron Fist is.
  • The Incredibly Hulk #340, #345 -- I dig both McFarlane's Wolverine cover, and his gray Hulk smashing through the logotype.
  • Iron Man -- For me, John Romita's cover of issue #126 is the Iron Man armor, and Bob Layton's gutsy alcoholic Tony Stark cover for issue #128 really sticks with me. I like Mark Bright's cover of #225, because even though I don't like the silver centurion armor, I'm oddly sentimental about those issues. Maybe because that was the height of my collecting before it went near-dormant for a few years (girls were prettier).
  • Mighty Avengers #2 -- It's a Frank Cho female Ultron.
  • New Avengers -- They're missing virtually all covers on, including some Frank Cho covers. Egregious.
  • New Mutants -- All of the Bill Sienkiewicz covers (18-25). I would add his Daredevil graphic novel cover, but it's not listed.
  • Secret Invasion #8 -- Can't remember the artist, but it's a great nod to New Avengers to Avengers proper.
  • Secret Wars #5 -- Spidey's black costume!
  • Spider-Man: Blue #2 and #3 -- Man, I love Tim Sale's 60s spy movie poster sexy vibe.
  • Spider-Woman #1 -- Another of my first comics, with a cover by Joe Sinnott, so sentimental as hell. I just realized this is the only comic from my initial collection I haven't re-purchased.
  • Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill -- I'm a ridiculous Beta Ray Bill fan, and while this series ultimately let me down, the covers of #1 and #2 -- by Andrea Vito and showcasing the raw majesty of this character -- certainly did not.
  • Thor (first series) -- Sooo many good covers, but none (none!) like Walt Simonson's #337 (intro of Beta Ray Bill) and #366 (Frog Thor). (I like the Olivier Coipel covers of the new series ok, too.)
  • Uncanny X-Men -- Long ride here, but I remember Dave Cockrum's #100 (Charles Xavier standing), #101 (Phoenix), #109 (intro of Alpha Flight), and #112 (why Wolverine should never fight Magneto). And John Byrne's "The Day the X-Men Died" cover and death of Jean Grey (#114 and #136) are alternately very sad, simple and powerful, angsty covers, as opposed to his very dynamically powerful "Days of Future Past" covers in #141 and #142. Paul Smith's cover for #167 (death of Professor X) is a solid nod back to #136. Alan Davis's cover for #213 is what I always think of as Wolverine versus Sabertooth. I so dig Jim Lee's cover to #268, which is a powerful portrait of Captain America, Wolverine, and Black Widow.
  • Web of Spider-Man -- The Mike Zeck covers for issues #31 and #32 of the "Kraven's Last Hunt" arc (some of my favorite writing from J. Dematties) really capture the essence of that twisted story.
  • Wolverine #1 -- Frank Miller's beckoning cover paints a portrait of the deadly, off-kilter canuck.
  • X-Men #1 -- I so like how this Jim Lee cover brought Magneto back as the terrifying force of nature he should be.
  • X-Men: Magneto Testament #5 -- This Marko Dhurdjevic cover is heartbreaking, and is for me the best in the series.

That's the list for now. Too many covers aren't listed on Marvel for the vote, so I'm bummed to not be talking about some of my other favs.

But this is a good nod to people who have inspired be over the years.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Loss and Jesus

AUDIO: Victor Wallace Tirabassi: Loss and Jesus

This is a follow with some of my thoughts about my recent dad-in-law's death. For the original audio, please see Victor Wallace Tirabassi (1946-2009).

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Victor Wallace Tirabassi (1946-2009)

AUDIO: Victor Wallace Tirabassi (1946-2009)

Here's the to-brief obituary, but please listen to the audio.

My dad-in-law, Victor Wallace Tirabassi (1946-2009) 63, went to be with Jesus April 2, 2009. He was surrounded by all of his kids, his wife, and his sister.

Born in Lynn, Mass., he was the son of Irene Tirabassi and the late Frederick Tirabassi.

Victor shined Christ, and was a model of generosity, hard work, holiness, and good humor. He was a U.S. Marine Corporal Vietnam Veteran, and 20-year Nucor Steel employee.

Victor is survived by his wife, Elaine Tirabassi (Johnson); his children and their spouses Dan & Kate Tirabassi, Joanne & Adam Creighton, & Anthony Tirabassi; his four lovely grandchildren Kiera, Gianna, Isabella & Carina; his siblings and their spouses Frederick & Pat Tirabassi, Maria & Steve Segars; and his mother, Irene Tirabassi.

His Funeral Service will be held on Monday at 11 a.m. in the Nardolillo Funeral Home in Cranston, RI, followed by Military Honors in RI Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking donations be made to:

Hope for the Hungry
In support of Randy Sperger
PO Box 786 Belton, TX 76513

Vic wasn't my father-in-law -- he was my second Dad.

He said he'll greet us at heaven's gates.

Now, you have to do something.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Battle o' the Songz (Round 3)

If you're not up to speed with "Battle o' the Songz", go here, then here, first.

Due to the craziness surround GDC prep, this round actually took two weeks before we called it a wrap. And in honor of GDC, we're making our next battle video-game-themed -- which makes both chaining and theming required for the first time.

You ready to rock?

'Cause here's round 3 play-by-play!

Opening Round 3 strongly with Joey Scarbury's "Believe it or Not". Yeah, Real American Hero fare.
Office mate Dan firing back with "Midlife Crisis" (Faith No More), and I counter with Blink-182's "What's My Age Again?", which is countered with Winger's "Seventeen". He loses points because the answer is "23".
I answer with "Foolish Beat" from Debbie Gibson, who at 17 wrote, produced, & performed a Billboard Hot 100 number 1 hit.
Chaining the title, Dan sends me the Go-Go's "We Got the Beat", and I bring the hammer down with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" from Wham!. I am all that.
In an anemic response, Dan sends me Finger Eleven's "Awake and Dreaming", but I give Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver". Classics have weight (Even before Wayne's World).
Got "Mad World" from Gary Jules as a response to Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver". "Gary" and "dream" linkage - Not bad.
Responding to "Mad World" from Gary Jules with "Mad Mad World" from Tom Cochrane. His world is more mad than Gary's. (It was that or Shaggy.)
In one of our few highbrow response's, Dan uses the "Adjective Song" from the Connells in trade for "Mad Mad World". Extra points.
I send back The Idoru's "Behind Words", which has weirdly similar lyrics to the Connells "Adjective Song".
Getting The Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties" in response to my "Behind Words" (The Idoru'); All Tomorrow's Parties is the sequel to William Gibson's "Idoru". Erm.
Returning U2's "Party Girl" for Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties". And then Dan bad-mouths U2. Yeah, he's a hater. And he loses points.
Receiving Dan's "Solitary Man" Johnny Cash cover for U2's "Party Girl". Kind of the "anti-link", and I'm giving him extra Johnny points. (Heh. I said "Johnny points".)
Sending Neil Diamond's "I Am ... I Said", another loneliness song from the guy who wrote the Johnny Cash covered "Solitary Man".
Getting Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" back for "I Am ... I Said". This is tenuous at best, and I would have given more points if the link was "Neil Diamond is too sexy".
I return Hannah Montana's "Who Said" for Right Said Fred. Feeling dirty. Dan fires back Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart" in response to my Hannah Montana play. Wait, Hannah Montana's secret identity is Miley Cyrus?
Thinking I'd already gone to the dark side, I volley Hillary Duff's "Break My Heart" to Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart". She's a contemporary of Hannah Montana, there's a title link, and it hs the same lyric line. Boo-ya.
Dan "Control+Zs" my attempt to "Break My Heart" with Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart". Brilliant!
I end this round with Riddlin' Kids "Pick up the Pieces" (they're there to pick up the pieces from the floor of Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart"; they're helpful like that).
(Now, on to video-game greatness.)

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Battle o' the Songz (redux)

Not satisfied to call it quits after our latest high-brow culture battle, co-worker Dan and I continued our song battle at a reduced rate.

To recap: We trade song volleys back and forth, and they have to be linked by artist, lyrics, themes, or other meta-context. The greater the link, the more “points”.

Here's the round #2 blow-by-blow.

Dan opens and wows me with the Transformers theme remix from Vince DiCola. I keep my cool and fire back the safe-but-appropriate G.I. Joe animated movie theme song from Ford Kinder. Dan responds with Joe Satriani's "House Full of Bullets" (because "G.I. Joe's fire bullets"). And it is on.
Finding the previous volley too easy, I fire off the Jimmy Hendrix riff "Red House" covered by Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson. It's a sharp retort, but it softballs my office mate a bunch of options for response. He answers with The Streets's "Get Out of My House".
I answer with U2's "Where the Streets have No Name", and he answers with Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" (because his street has a name). Not bad.
I answer with Amy Grant's "Big Yellow Taxi" (boo-ya!), appropriately making it hard for Dan to respond. After taking a day to recover, he fires back with Vince Gill ("What the Cowgirls Do") in response to yesterday's Amy Grant song. (They're married.)
I retaliate with Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" ('cause he's a cowboy, and -- let's face it -- in his heyday he looked like a girl; keep your hate mail to yourself). Dan sends back Stone Temple Pilot's "Dead and Bloated".
Seeing my opp to get Weird Al Yankovic in the mix, I lob over "Happy Birthday". Dan is appropriately non-plussed, and lobs back barely linked "Gangsta's Paradise" from Coolio. I fire back with LL Cool J's (the Original West Coast Gangster) "Mama Said Knock You Out. And I'm in high school again.
In perhaps the best volley so far, Dan (springboarding off of "Ladies Love") plays "Laid" from James, and I blast back with the Rebecca St. James abstinence song, "Wait for Me" -- the I'm - not - getting - laid (yet) song. Poetry.

After regrouping, Dan sends REO Speedwagon's "I Can't Fight this Feeling", and while losing points for moving away from the sexual motif, he gets points for it being REO Speedwagon.
I try to bring us closer to the gutter by firing back Blink 182's "Feeling This". Dan plays into it and answers with the Divinyls "I Touch Myself".
I pole vault over the line with Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta". Look, he went there. I just followed. And escalated.
We call a mutual truce on the self-pleasuring theme, and after getting Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy", I counter with the Alanis Morissette cover of Seal's "Crazy". That's meta-funny. "Insane in the Brain" (Cypress Hill) is the response. I'll take that.
I backhand with Public Enemy's "Get The F --- Outta Dodge" (read the lyrics of both if you don't get the link). Dan comes back with a solid "My Own Worst Enemy" from Lit (with a private enemy making a good comeback to a Public Enemy).
I send back Something Corporate's "I Kissed a Drunk Girl" (they're Lit, for pete's sake; plus I think the girls in both songs are the same kind of person).
Dan finishes with "Santana DVX" from The Lonely Island -- and we mutually call it a fitting enough response to "I Kissed a Drunk Girl" to close this song volley round.

(Oh, and you people who think this is "stupid"? Please stop Emailing me to tell me. You're obviously reading. You're stupid.)

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Battle o' the Songz

Alright, in the midst of a company-wide working weekend, a coworker (Dan) and I were having a “Battle o’ the Songz”.

Basically, we traded song volleys back and forth, and they had to be linked by artist, lyrics, themes, or other meta-context. The greater the link, the more “points”.

We set up speakers, blasted songs at each other, and gave rough weightings to each volley.

If it feels a bit like an ad hoc game from Where I Met Your Mother .. I'm honored.

Anyway, below is the summary. It's arguably a bit of a aural Rorschach (or MMPI) test, so let me know what you think it says about me.

I counter the opening volley of Dana Dane ("Rollin’ wit’ Dane") with The Soup Dragons ("I'm Free"). Granted, it's a bit of a tenuous comeback, but I linked it by (A) “Free” and the “whatever I want” message in Dana Dane, and (B) DD says “lyrics” like 13 times, and The Soup Dragons song, uh, has lyrics.

Piggy backing off of "Freedom" (and partying), my office mate lobs back DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince ("Parents Just Don't Understand"), with gives me an easy way to answer with Roxette ("Joyride"), because DJ and the Fresh Prince go on a joyride in their parents’ Porsche. He takes the driving theme to Sammy Hagar ("I Can't Drive 55")
I blast back with the Rolling Stones version of "Route 66", one of the most covered driving songs ever (it was that or Depeche Mode's cover), and thereby chain the 3 previous car and joyride themes (you get points for continued chaining), "Route 66" also winds up in Cali, and I get the additional double digits link ("55" / "66"). Dan answers with Chicago "Saturday in the Park"), because the Hagar and Stones entries start in Chicago, and he wanted to break from the driving theme.

I counter with Soundgarden's "4th of July", with a lyrical link from Chicago's "You'd think it was the Fourth of July" to Soundgarden's "I thought it was the 4th of July".
Heating things up (sorry), Dan volley's back wtih DJ AL-B's mashup of Audioslave Vs. Busta Rhymes ("Woo Haa I Got The Gasoline"), with Chris Cornell (in both Audioslave and Soundgarden) as the link.

Temple of the Dog seemed like an obvious retort, but I responded instead with my college thesis theme song from Mc 900 Ft. Jesus: "The City Sleeps", and definitely felt like I was winning the Battle (“Gasoline” in the title of theprevious song dovetail with the lyrics in the pyro song: “clutching the tools of my trade in my hand / an old box of matches and a gasoline can”).
In response, I get Guster ("Jesus on the Radio"),which links “Jesus” and has the nice meta link of Mc 900 Ft. Jesus (kind of) playing on my "radio" (it was an MP3, but whatever; he gets style points).
In a bit of a lackluster return, I spin up eighties darling Dead or Alive's "Spin Me Round", since the Guster tune says “go around” several times.

Honestly, Dan's response metaphorically jump-kicks me (Kosheen / "Damage" -- from the Dead or Alive video f****** movie!). It's brilliant, becasue “Dead or Alive” the band links to “Dead or Alive” the movie, which is a VIDEO GAME movie, and Dan's real (and my toy) job is in video games.
Gathering myself, I see an opportunity (and a willingness to stay stuck in the 80s) and lash back with Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"
Link #1: DOA (The Movie) → "Damage" / Kosheen (lyrics “I know I hurt you" / I didn't mean to”) → "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" (title from Culture Club).

Link #2: DOA (The Game) → Crying Game (The movie) → Boy George (the artist, who was in ...) → Culture Club, the band, who sung) / Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

(There's seriously still a flow chart in my office.)
(We ended the day calling it a draw. Grudgingly, but a draw.)

(Starting Sunday.)

My opening volley was Johnny Cash's cover of "Personal Jesus" from Depeche Mode (Since it was Sunday.), and Dan followed up with exactly what I would have -- Nine Inch Nails "Hurt" (which Johnny Cash also later covered).

I follow up with the band - unknown - to - Dan - but - blasted - on -a - regular - basis - at - several - guys - I - accused - of - stealing - my - girls tune, "Under" from Filter, because it was another drug song, and from a band made up of sometime NIN touring and album members (oh, and the song I usually blasted was "Hey Man Nice Shot").
He was less impressed that I was with my response, and volleyed with Huey Lewis and the News ("I Want a New Drug"), which both maintained the chain, and lifted us (a bit) out of the somber.

I had been waiting for two days to aurally assault Dan with some NKotB, and Huey let me leverage New Kids on the Block ("I Wanna Be Loved By You") via “New(s)” / “New”, the same insecure love vibe, and I’m sure Jordan did drugs.
Not missing a beat, Dan spun out Marky Mark's "Good Vibrations" for the Wahlberg-to-Wahlberg equal assault. At least he's a good actor. (Really good, IMHO.)

I bounced back with Bob Marley ("Positive Vibration"). Duh -- “positive”; “vibration”; dancing; drugs; and I loves me some Marley. This also felt like the first legitimate volley return of the day.

Sliding deeper into the drugs connection, Dan sends over Sublime's "Smoke Two Joints" (Marley / Rastafari / Marijuana).
This let me fire back another entry I wasn't sure I was going to get to leverage -- the odd LazyBoy "Underwear Goes Inside The Pants", partly because I wanted to see if I could get a quirky response into our battle, and partly to softball 6-8 launching points so we could get away from drugs.
I'm sure just to screw with me, Dan hits me with Electric Six (which I like) and "Down at McDonaldz" (which I don't, but at least it links LazyBoy's “I’m pretty sure even McDonalds has a ‘underwear goes inside the pants’ policy”).
I end the day with Phantom Planet's "Leader", linking the two songs via cult leadership vibe (dude in “Down at McDonaldz” sounds like a cultee). I almost went with a song about Marilyn Manson, or from the Marilyn Manson Band, which would have been creepy clever. And cults are better than drugs (??).

We kind of fizzled at this point (late on a Sunday night on a working weekend), and Dan said he didn't buy the cult angle, but if he did, he would have responded with Guster's "Red Oyster Cult".
(So ends the day. And the initial battle.)
And now we've turned this "Battle o' the Songz" into an ongoing thing. As part of keeping our heads clear (and improving company morale and culture by creating a lighthearted betting pool rivalry), once or twice a day (we figure we couldn't keep up the previous pace and still justify our paychecks) we crank the speakers and fire off tunes at each other.
Where are we now? Obcure 80s cartoon themes (Vince DiCola and Frank Kinder, you are masterful).
Rock on.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

On creativity and composition

My last post was pretty hefty, and there's no easy way to step down from it in a measured way that wouldn't be more orchestrated than it was genuine.

So, instead, I'm goning to dive right in with my next post and talk about boobies.

OK, not per se, but at least I've set an appropriately low bar on the thematic weight side of things, and have much more ceiling.

Moving on.

I so dig I'm not associate with them in any way, but I've been a fan of the package that is their company and offering and product for a long time.

They make hilarious T-shirts, riffing or springboarding off of retro and pop culture love, and they do it in creative (if not brilliant) ways.

An all-black shirt that says, "There are 3 ninjas on this shirt [try to find them]".

"Your epidermis is showing."

(Two pictures of bags of ice and a picture of a baby.)

But like I said, it's not just the logos and the products -- it's the package that is the company.

Take this shirt, "I drink your milkshake":

(If you're unfamiliar with the deriving song, I envy your blessed naïvité.)

The shirt is funny by itself; it plays on pop culture, and has an odd, stilted old-school graphic juxtaposition against what's in essence a jug-happy metaphor.

But what finally prompted me to write about these folks are there ads (which I usually see on

I snagged a pict of this ad, because you could take almost any of them, and match what works alone in the graphic above, magnified with A) an appropriately attractive (but not stereotypical) model, who's B) animated and bought in during the shoot, but in a C) realistic, living, non-posed way.

Tie to acting? Creativity and "being" (not faking).

(Let along the obvious example of smart branding and leveraging pop culture.)


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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Austin's Best Veterinarian

I've mentioned my mentor in this column in passing several times. This is a guy with whom I've met and by whom I've been inspired for more than six years.

He's a mentor in a bunch of areas -- relationship, small business, and spirituality. He's also a comic book and toy fan like me. We have barbecue every Friday. We watch films in the theater all the time.

He's also a veterinarian. And, in the Austin Chronicle's annual "Best of Austin" for this year, he takes the Best Veterinarian crown.

From the Austin Chronicle write-up:
Why would you trust your beloved but banged-up four-legged buddy to someone if you weren't sure they loved animals? With vet Mark Cotnam and his staff, every day is bring-your-pet-to-work day. Their love of animals as well as their quality of personal service and medical experience make these dog-and-cat experts the clinic of choice for our readers' furry extended family. And the best part? They only take walkies … errr, walk-ins.
Dr. Cotnam and the whole staff are top-notch, personable, and professional. They've been the clinic for my dogs since we've been in Austin, were there through the whole "Loki ordeal" (I so miss that dog), even when they weren't directly involved in the specialist stuff.

You find that less and less often in the services industry.

Well deserved!


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Comic book artists take on literary characters

I really dig media intersections.

And I'm a comic book guy. And I'm also fairly well-read on the literary side.

So when I stumbled across this site, which is a collection of comic book artists' takes on literary figures (both from the literature, and the folks creating the literature), I easily blew through a blissful hour.

Adam Hughes's rendition of Raymond Chandler? Bruce Timm's H.P. Lovecraft? Dave Cockrum's War of the Worlds? Neil Gaiman's Sunday (from G.K.Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday)? Tom Grummett's Winnie the Pooh (a favorite of mine for some reason)? Mike Mignola's Dracula?

Why are you still here?

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Comic-Con: Sunday


This was a short day, and we spent it basically just trying to make the most of the Exhibit floor. I talked to some more companies and individuals, looked for last minute schwag, and tried to help my buddy find some gift for his girls (I was useless).


I took a few quick picts of the new DC toys from Mattel, sculpted by the Four Horseman , and looked longingly at the Hasbro Legends series 3 and 4 stuff one last time.

Other Cool Stuff:

Saw Frank "Thank you for Spider-Woman" Cho, and talked to Steve Lieber about Whiteout. Good for him. Greg Rucka's been super good for comics, and I'm glad to see a guy like Steve on the upside of it.

What Sucked:

Having to leave. Oh, and our Dallas connection getting canceled; but I spun on a dime and got us to Austin ... by way of San Jose. An hour later, but at least we got home.



(Reverse chronology.)

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Comic-Con: Saturday


(Sorry for the delay; been wicked ill; as you were.)

Comic-Con on Saturday (July 28) was (oddly) less crazy than Friday. Maybe we just got used to the crazy.

And Saturday was fun. My buddy and I split up first thing, and he went to the Avatar panel while I hit the Exhibit floor to introduce myself to companies and individuals, meet up with folks I'd only previously known via Email and phone (like Mark Irwin, co-creator behind multi-format property Jack Secret; pitched as "Harry Potter meets Johnny Quest"), talk to a bunch of folks on Artists Row, pick up that Leinil Francis Yu signed Captain America "The Return" poster I'd eyed the day before, and so on.

Panels were great this day, too. The Marvel Spider-Man and Smallville panels, in particular, were what I expect panels to be. Poppy, unexpected, with panelists jumping in and out of conversations, having fun, and knowing their stuff.


I picked up the "Ramathorr" figure from the Four Horseman's Seventh Kingdom, to complement the "Gauntlet of Vaskkh" figure with which I'd been gifted the day before. They guys offered to sign it, and were surprised when I told them I was actually going to take it out of the box for display.

Hasbro also added a bunch of their Marvel Legends series 4 figures to their show floor display case, so I snapped some picts of those, as well as their upcoming Japanese-derivative, 6-inch figures, which nonetheless look cool.


The Marvel Spider-Man panel was a blast. It included writers, editors, and artist Dan Slott, Zeb Wells, Bob Gale, Marc Guggenheim, and Phil Jimenez, with Joe Quesada moderating. The panel was snappy, fun, well-moderated, and the guys are obviously having a blast (and taking seriously) the Spider-Man "One More Day" arc, then 3-times-monthly change-up. Writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Phil Jimenez are now exclusive to Marvel, and I felt bad that Jimenez let slip who makes out alive between Mary Jane and Aunt May.

And Dan Slott? Perhaps one of the funniest panel members I've seen. He was hilarious, punny, and having a lot of fun with the panel, and the absolute thrill ride that writing Amazing Spider-Man affords.

I also attended the GameTap "Re/Visioned" panel, consisting of Jim Lee, Warren Ellis, Peter Chung, Gail Simone, and Brian Pulido, and moderated by GameTap's Ric(k)ardo Sanchez. I'm really liking Simone's down-to-earth take on female empowerment, and it was fun to watch part 1 of Ellis's 3-part arc, at the same time he got to see it.

I also got to chat with Peter Chung and tell him "thank you" for the animated Æon Flux, and give him my voice demo. Very quiet, pleasant person. I was also able to meet the producer behind the Re/Visioned series, and let him know I was impressed with it.

The there was the Warner Bros. Smallville panel. Again, how I think a panel should be -- a lot of back and forth, people jumping in and out, playful, sexy people (Seriously -- Hartley? Vandervoort? Morris? Durance? Gough? Millar? Wow -- wicked sexy, all). The funniest exchange happened during the Q&A when a fan asked Hartley and Durance how they prepare for their steamy scenes -- and both of their spouses (and Hartley's daughter) were in the front row. Good feedback on the professional side of the preparation, though.

This panel was also a great example of how you video summarize an entire series, and tease the next season. Serious kudos to whoever pulled that off.

Other Cool Stuff:

Wow, what wasn't cool?

Talking with Leinil Francis Yu and getting the signed Captain America "The Return" poster?

Meeting writer/creator Mark Irwin in person and being the first to see the new Jack Secret preview art?

Talking with Peter Chung (and saying "thanks" for the animated Æon Flux; and giving him my voice demo)?

Chatting with artists like Chris Batista & Tom Nguyen?

The incredible (and incredibly redeeming) Marvel Spider-Man and Smallville panels?

Getting to meet and say thanks to Scott Porter in person for Friday Night Lights?

What Sucked:

Not having mentally linked clones of myself to run around the exhibit floor and attend all of the panels. Seriously, that's a good use for mentally linked clones.

Oh, and I was stuck in the Smallville line for forty-five minutes with a real-life, unfunny version of The Simpsons Comic Book Guy. Dude seriously hated every comic book arc since 1969, and every comic book TV show or film that didn't have George Reeves. I politely engaged him for 40 of those minutes, and expressed my opinions counter to his, until he started belittling someone in line merely for being born in 1982. I then told him I didn't understand why he was at Comic-Con given that he hated everything, and that we could either talk about something he actually liked about comic books, or something other than comic books. He stopped talking. Very sad, really.



(Reverse chronology.)

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Comic-Con: Friday


Friday (July 27) was the first full-on "crazy day" of Comic-Con. Bodies everywhere. We showed up early again, and rather than wait in line for the exhibit floor, we were trying to find the line to San Diego's Hall H so we could catch the Warner Bros. showcase.

This turned out to be a bad, bad experience.


Because of the "Elite III" staff. Or, as I came to call them, "Those %&*^$#! Red-Shirts". Hey, they were nice and all; just incompetent, and gave very authoritative, contradicting information -- today and throughout the week/end. We were trying to find the line to Hall H, "if it wasn't too long". We got sent back and fourth to the two opposite ends of the Convention center -- two times each -- before I'd had enough. We decided to divide and conquer, and I had my friend wait in line for the Exhibit Hall while I tried to find the fabled "The Line to Hall H" (tip: It's not in the same location as Hall H itself).

This eventually led me outside to a line that wrapped around the entire San Diego Convention Center. I made it two thirds around the building, asking every %&*^$#! Red-Shirt I met if these folks were going to get it in. I finally found a guy who said, "No man. No way. Most of these folks are in line for the second or third show in the Hall. If they're lucky."

So I walked back to the front of the Convention Center, only to find the entry line even for badge holders now snaked off across the convention lawn. So I called my buddy, told him to go do whatever he wanted, and I would sync up with him whenever I got in.

After a half an hour in the sun, I ended up where I'd been an hour before -- just inside the front doors. And as I walked in, soaking wet from sweating (and angry), I was greeted by a smiling %&*^$#! Red-Shirt who said, "Welcome to Comic-Con! Can I help you with anything?"

He was so lucky I was out of hair gel.

That said, I'm a glass - is - half - full - and - how - do - I - fill - the - other - half kind of guy, so I quickly spun through the Exhibit Show Floor and met with people and companies that were on my list. As you can see from my Twitterings below, I was a machine, and really enjoyed touching base with these neat folks and companies with whom I'd really like to work.


In my "go this way, go that way" crisscross of the San Diego Convention Center, I did pick up my Comic-Con exclusive "Vanishing Bugs Bunny" from DC Direct. This was the "official" Comic-Con exclusive for the show, and I'd paid for it when registering for the conference. It's a slick, well-done little sculpt, but I'm debating what to do with it, as it doesn't really fit into my collection, per se.

I also picked up some Shockinis from Shocker Toys (a custom and the Wizard World skeleton exclusive), and talked to the guys about using their toys for my stop-motion efforts. They were really nice, and very supportive of me using their toys, carte blanche. Which is better than some other toy companies have been with me.

My buddy sneaked away and got me the Four Horseman figure "Gauntlet of Vaskkh", which is a bad-a$$ looking rhinoceros warrior action figure, and part of the Four Horseman's own "Seventh Kingdom" line of toys. This is a perfect gift for me, and another Comic-Con exclusive. And it makes me want the Four Horseman to do figures from the Hip Flask universe.


Mattel / DC Comics:

We attended the Mattel / DC Comics panel, which was fun, and way more upbeat and jovial than Thursday's Hasbro panel. They showed a lot of stuff from the Justice League animated series, and copped to the poor design that makes them top-heavy and tough to display. They also announced new six-inch figures (with build-a-figure components) from none other than Four Horseman Studios. Orion and Etrigan, in particular, look pretty cool.

I can't help but wonder if the fan support for Mattel is due to where they are with the license. They're comparatively in the initial stages, and haven't hit the over-under arc where the trade-off for collector and mass-market hits the fan, which is what I think was the tension under the Marvel / Hasbro panel.

Joel Silver: Return to House on Haunted Hill and Moonlight:

I only caught the last half of the "Joel Silver: Return to House on Haunted Hill and Moonlight" (the Moonlight part), which was a bummer. I'm not a gore fan, but I wanted to see the innovative "Navigational Cinema" stuff they're allegedly putting on the Blu-ray and HD DVD versions of the film. I'd like to see someone do something with the new technology.

Moonlight looks and sounds compelling, but it's going to need to work to stay out of Angel's shadow, and Blade's (the TV series) curse. This was my first time hearing Joel Silver speak, and he's pretty interesting.

Halo Universe:

I was semi looking forward to this panel, and semi expecting it to be a disappointment. Brian Michale Bendis doesn't disappoint, and he was talking about the new comic book series (I took picts, but I'm not going to post stuff before the series goes to retail), so that was good.

WizKids Brand Manager Mark Tuttle did a great emcee job, which was good, given his company had done the big Halo reveal the day before. The Topps trading card discussion was pretty mheh, and Eric Nylund, while a great author, was (like everyone) hamstrung by what he couldn't say. Since there were no Bungie or Microsoft folks on the panel, not much Halo 3 stuff was going to be revealed. (I did see them in the audience, about six rows in; with sniper rifles, I'm sure, should any of the panelists revealed too much.)

Warner Bros. Animation: The Batman / Legion of Super-Heroes:

This was a great panel, if for no other reason than Phil Morris, voice and on-camera actor, and comic fan; and Andrea Romano, single handedly responsible for casting some of my favorite voices in Batman: The Animated Series; Animaniacs; Pinky and the Brain; Superman; and Justice League. The next seasons of both The Batman and Legion of Super-Heroes looks to up the ante, get a little darker, and build on the intensity and team dynamics. I'm looking forward to it.

I even got to run alongside Ms. Romano as she headed to the Warner Bros. booth for a signing, so I could say "thank you" for her work on things like Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, and for the extras stuff she shares on her craft on many of the DVD extra features.

Ray Harryhausen and 20 Million Miles to Earth: 50th Anniversary Edition:

Ray Harryhausen is a hero of mine. I've seen his films. I read his coffee-table crushing book. I was inspired to do my own stop-motion as a device for getting my voice out there. And 20 Million Miles to Earth was a film he'd wanted to do in color, but didn't have the budget to do so. 50 years later, we were able to watch the newly colorized version of the film -- for the same first time as Mr. Harryhausen -- and have him give live commentary on the film, his processes, and his views on fiction and criticism. He will probably not do this again.

From a Biz perspective, I arguably "should" have been at the Doctor Strange premiere, trying to connect with Craig Kyle, Marvel's senior VP of creative development animation.

But this film, with Ray Harryhausen, was historical. It was being there for a guy that informed a part of my creativity.

Other Cool Stuff:

I spoke with Leinil Francis Yu, mainly to say thanks for his work on New Avengers in general, and issue #22 in particular. Really pleasant, talented guy. I also noticed he had forward-thinking, hopeful "Captain America: The Return" print that I thought I wanted, but needed to think about.

The Four Horseman "Gauntlet of Vaskkh" gift from my buddy absolutely rocks, and hit me in a soft spot.

And the 20 Million Miles to Earth screening was a piece of history, and getting to attend it with a friend who gets it as much or more than me? Awesome.

What Sucked:

Those %&*^$#! Red-Shirts. And not having hair gel.



(Reverse chronology.)

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Inspiration ...

A dear friend of mine has cancer. She has a running blog, where she authentically chronicles what she's doing and feeling.

The following snippet is in the context of a conversation with her daughter:

I said to her, "Did you know, they have shown that people with a positive attitude heal faster and do much better recovering from things, because it is good for you to be positive?" And being negative is really nothing more than a bad habit.

I don't mean that one shouldn't honestly acknowledge the frustrations and grieve them, because they are real and their impact is also very tangible. But somewhere in the midst of it all, you have to DECIDE if your glass is half empty or half full. That distinction will make all the difference in how you experience life.

Authenticity. Accountability. The choice to think on what is good and right and true. And all of this in the midst of something that is bad, seems so wrong, and causes us to ask, "Why".

The people who know her are blessed by this woman.


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Monday, July 30, 2007

Comic-Con sum-up ...

Picture of San Diego Convention Center chair

I am freaking exhausted. But it's that great "I - just - worked - my - tail - off - had - a - blast - met - brilliant - inspiring - people - maybe - have - new - relationships - and - opportunities - on - the - horizon" kind of exhausted.

So I feel great.

In a previous post, I said I was hitting Comic-Con as a comic book & cartoon fan, toy collector, video game aficionado, voice & film actor, for professional (technical and management) opportunities, and for camaraderie.

Other than the last item, these were the roles under which I was going to play at Comic-Con, but as an abstraction, I was going to Comic-Con for camaraderie, passion, and potential.


Like I said, "I'm looking forward to sharing this experience with someone who gets all of this as much as I do." I've been meeting with a mentor pretty much every week, for at least six years. Not only is he a life / religious / business mentor, but he's an incredible friend and comic book and cartoon nut (like me). We mutually encouraged each other (led astray?) to go to Comic-Con this year, and we each probably would not have done it without the other. We were a great pair. There were things I was interested in and he wasn't (largely gaming), and we'd go to our respective panels, then re-sync and share. Or, there would be two panels we both wanted to go to, so we'd "divide and conquer" and fill each other in. Or we'd attend each other's event of interest, and broaden our horizons. Or there were panels or experiences we both wanted to do, and we'd experience them together. That last was the best, because we both "get it", and had common, amazing shared experiences. And we were there with like 100-150 thousand other folks who get it -- to some degree or another -- like us. And we realized we are far less geeky than some other human beings.


Make no mistake, I am a huge fan of all of this stuff. I wasn't there to placate a friend or to exploit people for work. I am a lifetime comic book, toy, cartoon, video game, and film fan. Comic books and toys informed my creativity and story telling as a kid, and continue to inspire me with their artistry. Cartoons and video games got me into voice acting. Film got me into my current on-camera work as I bust my tail on the training front, and come alive under the lights.

I want to act in cartoon, comic book, video game, and film properties because I'm a voracious consumer of all of this stuff. I get it, and I want to give it. I'm like Phil Morris (I so admire and am happy for that guy).

Comic-Con was the place to be to get an inspirational re-charge, get closer to the creative and logistical process that gives me these things I enjoy, meet the folks responsible and say "thanks", and see what stuff is coming down the pipe, before anyone else knows. Sure, stuff makes it out on news wires and such shortly afterward, but it's nothing like being there and watching it for the first time it's ever been shown, with the creators (often seeing it themselves for the very first time), and talking to them afterwards.


I am a working professional. I work ridiculously hard at creating opportunities for acting, for technical development, and for management. I do this for me, I do this mutually for other people, and I do this for people independent of whether there's anything for me. I almost never stopped moving at Comic-Con as I tracked down the right people to whom to give a voice demo, head shot, or resume. I hit up the companies I'm passionate about from a creative or business perspective, and there were so many of those, that I didn't hit many "new business opportunities" while I was in San Diego. That means I was hitting up the folks whose stuff I love, and asking to work for or with them.

There were more than 50 companies and people I wanted to meet in the four days. I knew this was shooting for the stars, but not only di I connect with roughly 30 of those, but some additional, unlooked-for, awesome, what could become "I was discovered" kind of moments. Great stuff.

I also sought out the PR or events folks for booths that I was particularly impressed by, just to say, "Good job." It is important to give the workers their due.

And my new demo has (so far) been very well received.

What sucked:

Nothing bad happened that can take away from the overall amazingness. Plus, I'm going to send a thoughtful note each to Comic-Con and the San Diego Convention Center calling out some of the challenges and offering some suggestions.

But yeah, it wasn't all roses. The "Red Shirts" -- folks who were supposed to help attendees out, were very disconnected and caused some serious pain to my buddy and me. More on that later.

And I had one of those "This is Hollywood, be-otch!" experiences with a biggie that was a good reminder for that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. I reset and changed my tack with a couple of opportunity folks that seem to be not so relationship-oriented. Seriously, I manage multi-million dollar, international programs and services, so if people want to go toe-to-toe on that hard-ass front, I can play.

Oh, and too many people. Lines kept us out of things we'd liked to have seen and done, because the prospect of hours in line with no guarantee of getting in didn't appeal to us. And we had a bad Thursday night experience. More on that later.

Not that we were going to see everything anyway. Between my split personality roles and passions, a top-notch packed programming and events roster, and my working so hard to make sure my opportunities didn't impact my buddy, I knew we were going to miss stuff. Which is fine. As in the rest of life, what should have happened did; what shouldn't have, didn't.

So what happened?

I'm a big tease, so I'm not going to tell you.

Actually, I will, but this post is already too long, so I'll do separate, day-by-day posts of Wednesday through Sunday. I'll try to hit them from the perspective of the roles and abstractions that were my "filters" for attending, and I'll also try to break stuff up by summary, cool stuff, genres, panels, twitterings, and pictures.

As far as pictures, there will be some, but not many, and they won't be overly high quality. The reason is I honored the "no-flash" rule during panels and reveals (I think I may have been the only one). Between that and popping my hand up and down quickly to snap a pict (so as not to block people behind me), the picts are a bit blurry.

And there are some things I snapped picts of that have not been released to the general public, so I won't be posting those picts. Creative and business folks work hard for their IP, and I'm not going to do them a disservice by leaking stuff they're working to release in a controlled, exciting way.

More later ...

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