Friday, December 28, 2007

Once a Street Fighter Junkie...

As one can infer from my other blog or my portfolio, video game art and animation are passions of mine. Since I know that these are interests shared by at least a few readers of this blog, I thought I'd share this really nifty site I just stumbled upon.


While the animated images are obviously protected by copyright, they are still great for learning purposes. Lord knows, if pixel animation wasn't so time consuming, just for the love of it, I'd have banged out at least a few 2D fighting games or martial arts side-scrollers by now.

...and of course, being Street Fighter and me being me (sometimes, I still have to fight the urge to dig my pockets for quarters when I see a X-Men Vs. Street Fighter arcade machine), playing around with this site just makes it harder to fight the thoughts of high hopes for Street Fighter 4, especially after Capcom's recent teaser trailer... but no worries, I'm sure those hopes will be adequately massacred by Hollywood's next attempt to turn Street Fighter into an American movie franchise.

...C'est la vie. :P

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry X-Mas and Stuff

Happy and wacky holiday wishes to everyone! =)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Art Question for the Ladies



Do all chicks dig Monet?


Seriously... It seems, whenever I get into a conversation about artists with a woman (unless that woman is an artist herself) a huge percent of the time, the lady will say, "well, I like Monet" ...typically after some off-the-cuff comment about not getting Picasso or another abstract genius.

I know the work of Monet is pretty, but a lot of paintings are pretty. What's the deal?

Don't get me wrong, I have taught both Art and Art History and I have nothing against Monet. I know Monet, I get Monet, and even though he's not my cup of tea, I certainly don't dislike Monet ...but before I let this turn into a long oddball rant:

Could someone please tell me what is up with chicks and Monet?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Choices

The video below is a short film created by my friend and former student Rajat Sharma. Animation enthusiasts out there should remember Rajat's name and keep an eye out for it, because there's no doubt in my mind he's one of those people we'll see lots of more cool and interesting stuff from in years yet to come.



Awesome job, dude! ;)


Friday, December 14, 2007

Analog Beaches

For the most part, things in south Maui have returned to relative normalcy since the recent storms. However, the beaches have spent quite some time out of commission, so I decided to break out some old watercolor paints and just make my own.

As most trained artists know, painting in watercolor is a lot trickier and considerably less forgiving than painting digitally or with oils; but it's been a while since I’ve spent serious time working in this medium, and it is often quite refreshing to travel familiar old paths.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Breakfast Art

As a couple of my readers know, I’ve had a house guest for the past couple weeks. My roommate’s brother, the ultra-chill, semi-albino, wonder-dude we will refer to as Andy H. (The H is necessary because I already know a few very cool individuals named Andy.) In this morning’s display of his coolness, Andy H got up early and made us a breakfast worthy of the Halls of Valhalla.




These edible Elan Vital paintings are banana pancakes with maple syrup AND an icing made from a heated concoction of peanut butter and vanilla cake frosting. As with any pancake dish, a beverage is totally required, and these things are so sweet and thick, they are definitely NOT an exception!



I was only able to eat three of them, and hours later, my stomach still feels the yummy mass of sweet culinary kick-ass-ness.
Muchas yummy gracias, dude!


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Brown Waves and Power Outages

To those of you who have been having trouble getting me for the past couple days, it might kinda-sorta have something to do with the insane tropical storms we’ve been having on Maui this week. The rains knocked out power in my town for about a day and a half, while causing considerable property damage island-wide. To those of you who were concerned with my abrupt disappearance from the grid, thank you, but please do not worry. Aside from the frustrations of computer withdrawal, some dampness and using the bathroom in the dark, my roommates and I are fine.


Nope... the color isn't really off in this picture... Those are indeed brown waves. :(


Sure several local roads and beaches are ruined for the time being, but I have to admit, we were lucky on my side of the island...and from what I hear, some folks in other parts of Maui were not nearly so lucky. So, if you are able to, please give to the Maui affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Even though the national news doesn't think this unfortunate weather is nearly as important as the last so-called "hurricane" that came by Hawai'i, I assure you, these are very real storms that have effected the lives of very real people.


...and like in the legends of Noah or Gilgamesh, we should all have a promise of a better tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Addicted to Val

Last month, I discovered the most adorable art-related show ever on youtube, and now I'm ridiculously hooked.

Kinda funny, because I've been thinking about doing some kind of video blogging for a while now, and Val's premise is similar to one of my several ideas. However, I don't think a moody, burly, bald guy would be able to pull something like this off nearly as well as this cutie... but that's OK... because Val is artsy, visual candy as she follows her wonderful dream with a childlike charm that I could and would rather watch any day.

Now, I don't know Val personally (although, would love the pleasure)... but I'm going to go on the line here and predict that it's only a matter of time before some cable channel like Discovery or Nickelodeon will approach her to do a kid's show or something some day. However, until that happens, we'll all just have to hang loose and eat your cookies. :)

http://valsartdiary.com/


Monday, December 3, 2007

Boogie Boarding in the Rain

"These aren't put up for decoration!"

...or at least that's what a lifeguard told me today when he ordered me and a couple other guys out of the water and basically scolded us for being a bit too far out on a stormy day.

"I don't see fins on you guys. Things in the water have fins. Things in the sky have wings."

Fortunately, in spite of his shamanic sense of metaphor, the know-it-all smartass in me was able to keep quiet, so we weren't kicked off the beach all together. Still, he was right. Even with a decent boogie board, it is tricky as hell to effectively move out there once you get past the white water... and ironically, with 5-15 foot waves, the white water is the part that frikkin' kicks your ass the most! So, I guess today's lesson is: If you're a crazy a-hole who likes to go boogie boarding in the rain, be sure to wear some fins.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the Spirit of the Holidays: Cyber-Activism

This is a repost from the NinjaGirl Productions Blog... because I think these causes sound cool enough to be mentioned multiple times:

Recently, the following causes have come to our attention, and we think they are pretty damn cool. Please check them out, and if you think they are cool too, please come together and give them whatever support you can.

http://www.childsplaycharity.org/ - Provides toys, books and video games to sick kids in children's hospitals on four continents

http://www.videogamevoters.org/ - A network of American voters trying to defend free speech and creativity in video games from intrusive US legislation and regulation.

http://www.xogiving.org/ - Provides laptop computers to children in developing nations, who otherwise have almost no access to education or means of self-expression.


"Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness."
- Napoleon Hill


Friday, November 23, 2007

Hawaiian Thanksgiving


There are only certain things I miss about New England since moving to the Pacific. Near the top of that list is Thanksgiving Day with my brothers, parents and cousins. Even on the outskirts of Lahaina, no picnic on the beach could ever compete with Mom’s cooking surrounded by the dramatic comedy that is my family. However, today in the Maui sunshine, I chose to be content with a simple meal, a boogie board and some new friends.

Despite certain hardships, I am very grateful for a lot of things and people in my life right now. To all the folks who have continued to stand by me near and far, as well as those with whom I’ve shared simpler kindness and have since parted ways:

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maui Mailer

Last week, while I was raising unholy heck around the island with my German buddy (see previous entry), the holiday issue of Maui Mailer hit tens of thousands of mailboxes across Maui.



Now if you have a copy, trust me, don’t just toss it. Maui Mailer is the only magazine I know of on this island that sincerely dedicates itself toward real quality print advertising both for and to Kama'aina. Plus, it has some interesting articles, good deals, event announcements, charity stuff, and best of all, a whole bunch of ads and artwork designed by yours truly. ;)



So, before you need to wrap some fish or line the cat-box, actually take a look through it and let yourself be surprised... and better yet, if you have a business on Maui, and need a great new advertising angle, contact them today, cuz you can't beat it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

German Invasion

As many people know, I was a bit hard to get a hold of last week. As many of those people know, it was because my old friend Carsten was visiting from Europe. Carsten is originally from Frankfurt, but these days, he's dealing with the British while working in jolly-old London. Fortunately, he was able to divert himself here last week, right before a big business trip to Southern California. The two of us went to school together years ago, back when I briefly lived in Australia. These days, we only get to see each other about every other year on average. So, whenever we do get together, we always try to make it a helluva thing to remember!
For example, this time...


We had meals in humble surroundings.


...and acquainted ourselves with marine life.


We also got really high...


...visited a goddess...


...and journeyed past the end of the road.


Carsten was happy to see that he wasn't the only one representing German coolness in Maui...


...and he was oddly fascinated with the notion of cows and palm trees sharing the same setting.


Have fun in LA, buddy!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Attention Kids: Don’t Drink Glass

I use to love thermoses. When you’re a little kid at school, that’s what you got, your lunch box and your trusty thermos. Mom packs them up all nice for you and you always knew the thermos would keep your juice cold and your soup warm, and as a little kid you can only ponder the magic and wonder, “How does it know?” Best of all, both the lunch box and the thermos were always tough as hell, so if you drop them, maybe a little dent or scratch, but no worries. If a bully messes with you, you could always hit them in the face with either the lunch-box or thermos and then run like Hell, and all would be good. Yeah, I use to love thermoses... until recently.

In my apartment we have a seemingly nifty thermos. It is a one-liter “Add-A-Cup” Thermos brand bottle (pictured left). It supposedly keeps warm stuff warm for a full 12 hours and cold stuff cold for twice that. As you can see in the pic, it’s made of that tough-looking red plastic that people are just socially conditioned to perceive as really durable. So yesterday, when my roommate took it to work for the day filled with coffee, but then accidentally dropped it at some point, he thought nothing of it. Later on, he poured himself a nice cup of coffee at work (like he would on any other day); but just then, as he started to sip his coffee, one of his colleagues inquired if it was hot coffee or had ice in it. He told her it was hot, which took her off guard because she could swear she heard ice when he put the thermos down. Obviously, my roommate gave his co-worker the “you’re crazy” look, but just the same, someone picked up and shook the thermos anyway. Sure enough, there was a noise of something that sounded like ice in there, but upon closer inspection was clearly not ice.



Ouch!

Now, in fairness, they do have the word “glass” on the sticker on the bottle (stated once in faded text set no larger than 10 points). However, I don’t know about you, but when I look inside a product known for durability and see a metallic color, my mind doesn’t immediately go, “Hey, that must be glass in there.”

So, the very next day, I called the company to express my concern. I thought that Thermos, practically being a cultural staple in the western world, might be receptive to my complaint and genuinely troubled that many shards of broken glass could be so easily found in the devices they create to hold liquids that go down your throat. I mean, wouldn’t you want the security of mind to know that such a company would entertain the notion of recalling this product before some random eight-year-old dies from ingesting sharp fragments of glass?

Ah, to dream of such a kind world.

Upon calling the corporate headquarters of Thermos (847-439-7821), I surprisingly got a human being on the phone immediately, as opposed to an automated response system. Taken a little off-guard, I hoped this was a good sign and I stayed calm and collected, but also very frank. I immediately told this receptionist that I was calling to complain about a product that could have seriously injured a friend of mine. After I had started to explain the situation, the receptionist started to tell me I was breaking up and she couldn’t hear me well (funny how often that happens whenever I call to complain about something or try to collect on a bill). After a few minutes, I did eventually get my situation across. Unfortunately, in lieu of concern for potential harm to human life, this receptionist was very well versed in the apparent company line. Among other things, she had implied I was being unreasonable and informed me that glass thermoses are quite reliable and have been around for over a hundred years (which is arguably a redundant misnomer because apparently the etymology of “thermos” comes from a word for “glass flask”...but I digress). She also tried to justify the product by stating that I am not likely to find a less expensive beverage container of that type; which made me ask myself, “Does saving a few bucks justify the risk of swallowing broken glass?”

Well anyhow, after several minutes of both of us bumping our heads against opposite sides of the proverbial brick wall, the receptionist stated that the person in charge of risk management for the company had the day off, but I could express my concerns to someone else. She transferred my call, at which point I was disconnected after three rings.

Fantastic… * sigh*

So, remember kids, if you ever drop your Thermos brand thermos and your eyes aren’t naturally drawn to small gray san-serif lettering, always be sure to look for broken glass in your beverage before you drink it.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lahaina Halloween

This still being my first year living in Hawaii, of course I had to go check out Halloween in Lahaina. Apparently it is one of those events that people come from far and wide for and it’s quite the staple in contemporary Maui culture. Now, first of all, I’d like to go on record and say that people talked this thing up to me way too much. I went in thinking it was going to be like Mardi-Gras with all sorts of dangerous partying and crazy Girls Gone Wild crap all over the place; and while it was indeed quite crazy and somewhat raunchy, it certainly wasn’t of the caliber I was set up to expect. However, being a Halloween person who grew up with people who usually gave it limited due (with preference to occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter), I felt extremely gratified to finally be amidst folks with true spirit in celebrating Halloween. In my opinion it’s the most fun holiday of all if you just let go and allow yourself be young again... and trust me, many of the cool folks who celebrate All Hallows Eve in Lahaina are definitely feeling me on that one. Now, let’s cut to some pics.

Yup, I called upstairs, Heaven is indeed missing an angel.

...and speaking of religious phenomena, here's the Last Supper.
...but wait a sec, Leonardo is sitting in for JC!
Where the heck... Oh, wait... here he is...

I always suspected he was really black.
"For my next miracle, I'm gonna turn water into funk!"

Always the case: Chicks dig guys in uniform.

...but I guess it can go both ways, cuz the babe on the right here can cuff me any day. =)

This Sith-Lord is indeed strong with the Force.
He made the crappiness of my camera look like cool special effects.

Anyone who knows me, knows I can be a sucker for cartoon babes.

So, of all the babes there, how could I EVER pass up this one?

See you next year everyone! :)


Monday, October 29, 2007

RED SOX!!!


Ever since moving to Hawaii, every day I consider myself a little more Kaamaina and less Masshole ...but still, always a member of Red Sox Nation.

On behalf of all decent former New Englanders living on Maui:

Mahalo, Muchas Gracias, ども ありがと and Thank You for the GREAT JOB this year, guys!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mantras, Movie Dreams and a Trapped Bird

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been somewhat fascinated with the work of Deepak Chopra and certain Vedic perspectives on spirituality. My interest sort of started with this video in particular and just kind of expanded from there.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6165305576181681554

Relatedly, a few days ago, I read some interesting stuff about brainwave coherence through listening to Vedic chants, very similar to what is discussed in this video.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=heQRzysMVbo


...and yesterday, I was giving this phenomenon some serious thought while contemplating taking up yoga. Yoga and transcendental meditation are things I’ve tried on occasion in the past, and for years now, a few people have been suggesting I take them up more seriously ...and lately, I’ve been taking the suggestion more seriously. Anyhow, while pondering all this, on a completely unrelated web search, I came across two websites that had Vedic chants you can download as mp3.

…and when the universe speaks, Chris tries to listen. :)

I already meditate almost daily, and every once and a while, I try incorporating something new into it. So, early last night I figured, "what the heck? Why not?"

(Chopra should really write something about wearing a seatbelt when you meditate.)


After just a few minutes of meditating with these Indian mantras playing through my headphones, I noticed tingling sensations over several parts of my body and my breathing patterns had changed dramatically. Feeling unusually calm, and not a total stranger to unusual phenomena, I just went with it. At some point (couldn’t have been more than an hour) I fell asleep. I fell deeply asleep and had a very unusual dream. The dream was an extremely vivid, linear and coherent dream. It had mountains of symbolism I’ll be mentally working through for days; symbols that included things like misdiagnosed death, fake money, misguided travel, causality, perception of divinity, blocked paths and the costliness of visiting in places like Boston.

Now, much more often than not, my dreams tend to be extremely fragmented, hazy and mostly forgotten when I wake. This one was unusually easy to remember and a very linear narrative that jumped back and forth between first and third person, complete with implied narration. It was almost as if my subconscious made a detailed movie and I was somehow playing it out as an actor well-versed enough to do it on auto-pilot. There was even bad casting, most notably of which was Jerry Stiller as my dad (Don’t get me wrong: I love Jerry Stiller's work, but in real life, my old man is a poster-child for Irish Catholic Baby-boomers). Oh, and a lesser Baldwin was in there too, by the way. Long story short, it was a very atypical dream for me.

Now, most interestingly, as I write this, I realize that the surrealism of my night and morning didn’t end with that oddball dream. I awoke euphoric and not entirely sure I really did wake up. As I looked to the clock on my computer to see the appallingly early hour, my instant messenger blinked with the beckon of a friend in need. This was not just any random friend, of course. It was one of those friends who some how magically knows when you are there, and almost always summons when you are authentically needed.

So, a small pep talk and several minutes of other exchange later, my friend signed off (hopefully the better for wear) and apparently, she’s headed off on a trip to Boston today. Yes, the same Boston from my dream. (On an unrelated topic: I just realized that game 6 for the American League is today at Fenway… Please pray everyone!) Upon pondering this possible synchronicity, as well as the overall oddness of my dream, I recognized that I was not getting back to sleep, no matter how early it was. So I headed out for an early breakfast.

Way too early for Da Kitchen, I ate breakfast by the outdoor section at the Denny’s at Kihei. Like most mornings in Maui, it was (and still is) incredibly beautiful outside. As I pondered my unusually memorable and vivid dream over breakfast, I looked across the way and something caught my eye. At an adjacent resort, I couldn’t help repeatedly noticing there was a guy on the roof doing yoga (hmmm… Yoga). Afterwards, I took a walk on the beach at Camp 2 and simply enjoyed the morning view of Molokini for several minutes.

On the way back to my place, I encountered even more weirdness. A bird was trapped in the display of one of the tourist shops by Denny’s. Not just trapped in the shop, but trapped inside the front window display. Knowing the shopkeeper would open the store and likely let the poor little guy out in a couple of hours, I couldn’t help but stare and chuckle at his dilemma. How the Hell did he get into the closed store to begin with, let alone into the front window display? Then of course I remember that misguided travel and blocked paths were also themes in my dream.

Now I’m back in my place, mentally sorting it as I write this long blog entry. What does it all mean? Being a fan of synchronicity and a disbeliever in coincidence, I guess I’ll have to spend some serious time figuring it all out.

Am I one of those assholes who sees or tries to see deeper meaning in every little thing, looking from hidden messages from God, the universe and my own subconscious in hopes I can create better understanding and higher meaning out of the seemingly chaotic progression and limited procession of perception that is human existence?

You bet I am… because life is more fun that way. ;)


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Causes Round the World

Over the past several weeks, many of my friends have been rather involved in charities and other causes. In an interesting case of synchronicity, just yesterday, not one, but two of them, contacted me for support, and from opposite sides of the planet no less.

1. In New England, my friend Karo is walking to fight breast cancer. Now, just about any cancer is evil, but cancer that attacks women's breasts?!?
...jeez! Who wouldn't want to fight that? http://thekaro.blogspot.com/2007/10/rays-of-hope.html

2. Also, from Singapore, my friend Little-K beckons for support to repeal a law over there that isn't exactly gay-friendly. http://repeal377a.com/?page_id=11

So if you agree that either of these causes are worth supporting, please click the links above and help them out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It Could Always Be Worse...

Earlier today, my super-cool friend from back east informed me that she recently discovered a great life lesson:

No matter how bad things are, at least you're not a freezing, three-legged chihuahua trapped on top of a tall garbage can.

"Yo Quiero... ah s#!%."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Island Professionalism

I am an artist, and I live on Maui. I love Maui. It’s the most beautiful place on Earth. (Only a few of the best spots in Australia even come close in my opinion.) However, for certain kinds of artists, Maui isn’t exactly the best place to be. Perhaps I’m missing something, but in my experiences so far, Maui is very a quirky little market for creative people. Sadly, this island tends to be a bit of a short-sighted environment where the great business mantra: “you get what you pay for” goes somewhat unheard. As such, many so-called “creative professionals” find themselves inadvertently creating and sustaining an underpaid market built upon questionable aesthetics and cultivated comfort zones based on the varying ignorances of their clientèle, as well as the desperation of their fellow creative people; making the term “Maui professional” an almost complete oxymoron in creative circles.

Take this recent ad on craigslist for example:


It’s bad enough this kind of reminds me of a stint I once did in retail electronics, where poverty-conscious customers would request stupid things like, “the best computer you have for the least amount of money.” So basically, something that does almost everything that you can pay next to nothing for …but to make matters worse, in this ad, if you look down at the smaller print after the mention of crappy pay, (amidst other crappy grammar) note the sentence fragment, “If you are a female and beautiful.

If you are female and beautiful, what?!?

WTF is that? A sexist typo? A mislaid copy and paste? Some kind of NLP trick gone wrong? Based on the following text, to me, it looks like he's saying, "If you're hot, you can have the privilege of modeling for me." Hmmm... Great job, idiot. Way to make female readers comfortable.

Sadly, although a little extreme, this example is in some ways indicative of mentalities I have been dealing with here as a freelance designer, both from fellow creative types AND clients alike. Not to say I've seen a lot of sexism, but there is an certain level of useful professionalism and tact that seems to get rather undermined. On one occasion, I had a client insist that I do on-site work with blatantly pirated design software, even though his multi-million dollar business was operating in the black at the time. Apparently he missed the part of my website and resume that mentions I own a Micro ISV company in Massachusetts. Compromise ethics much? *sigh*

Now generally and realistically, it’s rarely ever easy for people in creative fields. So please bear in mind, I am venting a bit here, and don’t get me wrong. There are A LOT of good hearts on this island, but there are also A LOT of lessons in patience. So dear reader, if you ever have aspirations of being an artist or designer on Maui, just consider that the international money and the mainland professionalism I once nearly took for granted are both rather elusive prey out here... At least, so far. ;)


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Adventures of the Tommy

As many people know, I'm less than thrilled that my childhood friend Staff Sargent Thomas Sullivan has been sent back to Iraq. The poor guy got, not one, but TWO purple hearts last time he served over there, and now, in a display of infinite push-your-luck wisdom, the powers-that-be have sent him back for another round.

Now folks, I'm no military expert, but doesn't getting wounded heroically in warfare twice warrant someone like Tommy doing something else... like maybe swapping places with one of those annoying Colonel's nephews who has a cushy recruiting job at some mall.

I dunno, am I crazy for thinking that would be fair?
(...Shut up, I know life isn't fair.)

Well, fortunately, Tommy being Tommy, he's making the best of being sent back into the catastrafuck. (Thank you, Jon Stewart) Recently, on Myspace he posted a picture of his new spot for naps.



So, after a hard day of fighting for... um... whatever the Hell our guys are still fighting for at this point, you bet your ass they deserve to a nice nap in a comfy throne. After all, it's not like Saddam needs it anymore... he's bunking with Adolf now.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Good Day

The best combination of phrases you can ever hear on any day in the MLB post-season:

"The Red Sox win" + "New York loses"

Between that and a morning full of South Maui boogie-boarding with a couple of good people, today was a very good day. :)

Friday, October 5, 2007

New Blog

Not that I'm the most avid blogger in the world, but in recent months, I have been growing increasingly unsatisfied with the way blogs on Myspace work. So, from now on, when I blog about stuff that I normally put into my personal blogs, I will be blogging here.

Here I go again... BLOG BLOG BLOGGITY-BLOG! :P