Things that make you go…hmmmmmm.

Somebody sent us a Chick tract.

In the mail.

No return address.

Carefully hand-addressed, and postmarked from Dallas, Texas. Do I know anyone in Dallas?

I haven’t pored through the whole thing, but it’s got the Grim Reaper saying “Hi, there!” on the cover, which is sort’ve creepy. However, since it’s addressed to my husband, it’s unlikely to be a crazed art stalker of some sort. Possibly well-meaning relative or something, although they didn’t sign the back. Could be generalized junk mail. Could be a joke from a friend. I dunno. S’weird.

If you’re not familiar with Jack Chick and the infamous Chick tracts, then A) glance around to make sure you’re not living under a rock, and B) you’re probably happier that way. He’s the most rabid of the rabid Christians, the sort of person that gives all the perfectly nice, pleasant, tolerant Christians, who really do make up the majority of what’s generally a well-meaning religion, a really really bad name. He thinks everybody is going to hell, including Catholics, masturbators, and people who say “Damn.” He wrote the infamous “Dark Dungeons” comic, which led many well-meaning parents to try to burn their kid’s d20s. On the one hand, it’s a little scary that people this misguided are out there. On t’other hand, if you’re in a good mood, reading through his stuff has a Portal-of-Evil-style hysterical humor to it–it’s so over-the-top idiotic and deathly serious that it’s practically self-parody. And if you like drinking games, there’s the Jack Chick angel-toss drinking game, where you cruise his website and take a shot for every time an angel pitches somebody into the fiery pit of damnation, which oughta get you hammered fairly rapidly and will kill an evening in fine style.

Okay, I know that men are reading this thing occasionally, so I implore you…one of you, tell me the appeal.

What the heck is up with those pin-ups of women in nothing but high-heels? Why the heels? There’s a LOT of ’em, too.

Now, I have a weird hang-up in my pin-up drawing–I’ll blithely paint nudes without a care in the world, but I never put ’em in heels. Something about it makes me twitch, possibly that I would never wear the things myself unless I needed to be a few inches taller. The more die-hard feminists will tell us it’s a way of keeping women in symbolic crippling bondage, etc, but frankly I think that’s a little harsh–I have SERIOUS doubts that when a guy sees a nude woman in heels he’s thinking “Muhahah! She is so much more attractive because the tendons in her heels have atrophied and she can’t run away!” This does a disservice to men in general, who really aren’t like that. But I still don’t get it. Schoolgirls, sure, it’s weird but fundamentally comprehensible. But this?

What’s up with the heels? Does anyone know?

Good News and Bad…

Still planning on moving, still excited to the point of twitchiness, and eyeing my valuables for packability. In answer to everyone who’s been asking, we’ll be moving somewhere in the Phoenix metro area–don’t know where yet, but if anyone has any advice like “There’s a slum at Point X, avoid it,” I’d be delighted to hear it.

And, more good news, got a commission from another game company, this one in the UK–couple of interior illos to start, so that we can get used to each other. It’s a short deadline, only three weeks, and I’m a little nervous–not that I won’t get ’em done, which I of course will, but the basic jitters you always get with a new company–will they like it, can we work together, will they hold up their end, etc. Details forthcoming once it’s all established–don’t wanna jinx it!

And then there’s the bad news, which unfortunately eclipsed all the rest completely…my friend Derek, the Marine, with the 2nd Expeditionary Whatsit has been moved out of Kuwait and into combat, to reinforce the first wave. This would be nerve-wracking enough–he’s a rookie, my age, that I went to college with, he’s never seen action, and goddamnit, it’s Derek who’s my friend and crashed on my couch for a month and loves Star Wars and played Shadowrun with us for years and has so many flaws and personal failings that I can’t even begin to enumerate them but I love the stupid bastard anyway and spent hours coming up with silly, complicated conversations with him, and he’s always been a good friend and we had an almost eerie mental connection on a fairly evil level–the joke is that we must’ve met in a past life as Inquisitors during the Spanish Inquisition–and I really really really don’t want him to die. And I was pretty calm because the original plan was evidentally that they were to come up and reinforce the troops holding Baghdad once it’d been taken, which isn’t what you’d call safe, but certainly beats the front. But now the city’s not being taken, and it looks like they’re been moved in to reinforce the people trying to take it, which means that, God forbid, Derek could be involved in street fighting inside the city itself, and that’s terrible. He’s a sniper, so hopefully he won’t ever get the enemy actually close on him, but he’s probably gonna have to actually kill people, and I’m afraid for what that’s gonna do to him. Hell, I’m just afraid, period. I told the stupid bastard not to join the Marines, and he did it anyway, out’ve a desire to be a macho alpha male type (seriously, that was his reason) and I doubt he ever thought there’d be a war. Well, now he’s getting his chance to be gung-ho, and I hope to god it doesn’t kill him. This isn’t some tough professional soldier, oozing competence, cognizent of the risks, fighting out’ve love of country and dedicated morals, whatever the stupid propaganda is, this is a bloody idiot! A man who once got demoted for leaving his post to go get a candy bar! A man who attempted to get honorably discharged for showing up to manuevers hammered! And he’s MY bloody idiot, and whatever flaws he’s got and stupid ideas he had about joining the military, he really doesn’t deserve THIS!

I am furious at everyone involved impartially for being either evil (Saddam) stupid (Derek) or both (Bush). I know I’m mad because I’m scared, and I deal with being scared by being mad, but I just want to throttle someone. Lacking people to throttle, I’m storming around the house growling “Stupid fucking (fill in name)!” and trying not to cry, which I’m sure makes me a dreadfully fun person to be around right now. This sucks. It would still suck just as bad if my friend wasn’t there, but being only human, I can mostly see things filtered through my own particular misery. And this sucks.

Went out for dinner at a Nepalese place with the guys from Sofawolf (who are really cool.) Had goat meat. And yak. Generally I try to stick to one species of ungulate per meal, but it was really good.

Annnnd, to my delight, James’s boss is sending him money for moving expenses, which means it’s official–we’re headin’ off to Arizona. Hopefully we can find an apartment when we fly down end of April, otherwise it’ll be a little hairy, but nevertheless–soon! Soon I shall escape this sardine-can apartment! Freeeeeee!

My real purpose for posting, however, is to mention that the next page of “Digger” is up.
Digger 7

Well, to my amazement, we’ve surpassed 200 friends on this thing, which floors me, because I can’t imagine 200 people want to know about my day-to-day existence, or even just come for the rants. I don’t think I know 200 people in the real world. Come to think of it, unless I start getting into the people-I-haven’t-seen-for-years category, I’d be straining to name 20 people. Oh, well–hi, all, glad you could stop by!

Camel Meditations
This is an acrylic, actually, 18 x 24, which I painted in one of those defiant I-can-SO-do-real-media-goddamnit moods that occasionally possess me. Now I have a painting of a camel. I don’t know quite what to do with it, other than hold onto it and hope that the one person out there who’s spirit animal is the camel will someday trip over it, preferably right after winning the lottery. I may take it to Anthrocon–it seems unlikely to sell, given the buy-by-species trend, but nothing ventured, etc. I may do another similiar one of a takin. It also won’t sell, but I can have a Wall of Ungulate Art or something.

The title, in case anyone’s wondering, is from a great Arabian legend–the story goes that there’s a prophet of Allah who flees from his enemies into the desert. They’re hot on his heels, but the prophet’s trusty camel carries him tirelessly for seven days and seven nights and finally to an oasis and safety. To reward his faithful steed, the prophet whispers into its ear one of the secret names of God. The camel tells all the other camels, and to this day, camelkind meditates upon the name and looks haughtily down on all other creatures who don’t possess such sacred knowledge.

Digital art is spoiling me. I decided to try my minimal acrylic fur painting skills against a portrait of the bachtrian camel, and by the time I’ve primed the canvas board, let it dry, and now begun painstakingly drawing in the outline of the camel’s noggin’, I’m already wiped out and ready for a nap. If it were digital, I’d be detailing already! The pain of waiting for things to dry grows worse and worse. God forbid I ever try oil paints–the notion of waiting DAYS is like salt to my instant-gratification soul. I’d have to have six paintings going at once not to go nuts, to say nothing of the turpentine. I’m not good with ventilation. I think I feel it’s a sign of weakness. “Fumes!? I dontsh shee no shtinkin’ fumesh…”

Oh, well…no pain, no gain. Maybe when I move to an apartment with a slightly more robust power grid, I’ll buy a hair dryer so that I can speed drying along. On the bright side, my Barong masks arrived, and rather than being the miniatures I expected for five bucks, they’re the full sized dealy. One’s a bit battered around the edges, but the designs are still mega-cool. I suppose with six masks, I have to call it a collection now. *sigh*

I had a dream last night that I was moving (yay!) and the car broke down. We were rescued by a truck driver who offered to take us to our destination for free, if we’d give a good home to his cat, Gus, who had gotten too old to drive cross-country with him. Our original agreement was blunted the more we learned about “Gus,” who evidentally had five legs, was incontinent, and if you didn’t pick him up just right (supporting his vestigal fifth paw) he would go apeshit. Then we saw photos, and “Gus” turned out to be a five-legged African honey badger, which probably says something about my subconscious, but god knows what. I woke up going “Huh?”

Da Zoo!

With aching feet and packed photo-disky-digital memory-thingies, I return from the zoo!

I have learned two things. First of all, I have evidentally lost any fear whatsoever of drawing in public. They may not be good drawings–I’ve gotten much better with digital stylus than with pencil these days, and I hope someday they invent a portable laptop for sketching–but I can have small children hanging over me shrieking like enraged howler monkeys, and it doesn’t faze me. I am Zen.

Secondly, while I am a pleasant, congenial, mild-mannered soul in person, quite happy to talk about drawing with random passers-by who ask, if you hand a snot-nosed kiddy a cheap disposable camera with flash and they start using it in the nocturnal display, in violation of all the “No Flash Photography!” signs, sending Indonesian flying foxes flapping away from the light in startled dismay, giving the slow loris a headache, and not incidentally, blinding me, I will briefly channel Vlad the Impaler.
Photo documentary of the zoo! (Chock full ‘o photos. Will load slowly.)

I think I’ll go to the zoo tomorrow. I have an itch for some life drawing. And if I do wind up moving to AZ, this’ll be my last chance for awhile to draw the takin.

While drawing at the zoo is sort’ve like being one of the animals–you’re definitely on display–I find people are remarkably friendly and complimentary. I feel like a stage magician or something…”And thus with a simple stroke of the pencil…behold the wombat!” I mean, not that I’d say anything like that, but it’s how people react. I know a lot of people get annoyed drawing at the zoo, but I always come away feeling cheerful and energized about how friendly everyone is. I think maybe since I’m completely steeped in art–it’s all I do, it’s most of what I talk about, it’s 99% of the places I hang out on-line–I’m always amazed at what a foreign world it is to a lot of people, and how enthusiastic they can be about the relatively simple process of hanging out and scribbling drawings of mountain goats. S’gratifying.

Okay, I hate to do this because I’m sure it will make me seem like an egotistical braggart, but I’m gonna do it anyhow.

Yesterday I wandered into a Barnes & Noble, over in the art technique section, and…they had It. Digital Fantasy Painting. By Burns. The book that I contributed to, and which I hadn’t yet seen.

With trembling spleen and most of my other minor organs aquiver, I took it down, flipped through it and…there they were. My two contributions, the dragon tutorial and the bit about Painter and “Atlantis Calling.”

This is the first time I’ve ever walked into a store and seen my work on a shelf. Okay, barring that time that I found the local used bookstore clearancing “Big Air Wakeboarding” which I’d done the skins for, but that hardly counts, since they couldn’t give the damn things away and my name was tucked somewhere near the bottom of the credits. And I suppose I’m in the credits for the Myth II Expansion, too, but they butchered my dialogue, and my name is like five pixels high and buried near the back of the manual, so I’m not counting it. (Although I’m still pissed. It was perfectly good dialogue! Why, oh why, did it get rewritten by someone who was trying to sound like a bad Beowulf-meets-Silmarillion clone? Nobody REALLY says “And it came to pass…” I hope he was a good producer, ‘cos that boy’s writing would make George Lucas go “Man, that sounds stilted.” Err. Where was I?)

Annnnyway, past listings in the credits aside, this was the first time something in my, hmm, idiom, actually appeared in a big chain store where presumably a number of people will buy it, and I felt all warm and fuzzy and light-headed, and wandered out of the store grinning like a shark on nitrous, and all was well with the cosmos.