November 15, 2010

I have some ideas about putting the word ‘jawn’ in some graphics. This is the second one I made. One note about it is that I cannot use that font if I put it on a t-shirt that I intend to sell. So I’m going to have to make my own comic book font at some point. After studying that one, I have a basic idea of what I need to do with it. Thoughts on this graphic are appreciated.


October 14, 2010

I know I’m late to the party, but I want to get a good handle on using the pen tool, for both Photoshop and Illustrator. I was thinking of a cool outline to create with the pen tool, and the United States came to mind. I actually think the cool part of this, when it’s complete, will not be that I created a nice looking US by only using the pen tool, but that I’ll show the evolution of it in 4 steps. That should be pretty easy to accomplish. I think I can just delete control points from the final version to complete the 3 previous versions. The first version should be a trapezoid, and the two intermediate versions should look kind of like the US, but pretty boxy. Here are the two ideas:
USA in four

USA in four doesn’t fit on the screen, so you have to click on the link. Not sure what I’ll fill in the US’s, or if I’ll fill them in at all.

Artistic Proofreading

October 11, 2010

Long time no blog. Some interesting life developments in the meantime, but that’s for another time.

I was reading a blog by a graphics guy the other day who has published a couple books, and he had some good tips about writing. He said his writing process was roughly like this:

    Write down his thoughts in a way that captured the base idea, without any regard for it being engaging or anything like that. Basically, a brain dump. He said that after this, he makes a PDF out of it, proofreads it for blatant grammatical errors and rewrites parts he hates. Then he puts it away.
    The next day he works on his book, he starts by proofreading the section he wrote during the previous session. At this point, he hopes that he has forgotten what was written. After that reading and proofreading, he said he usually feels ‘not ashamed’ of the work.
    Finally, show it to some reviewers, who still find some things.

Here’s the full blog entry for those interested.

When I write (or when I wrote since I haven’t done it in a while), I usually just throw down whatever comes to my mind, read it once, and publish it. This is because I am not attempting to write publishable books. I am usually trying to entertain about 10-15 people, and I figure they can cope with 3/4 formed ideas and some grammatical mistakes.

So this doesn’t exactly apply to what I’m writing, but I think it directly applies to my drawing. I’d like to make shirts that people would be willing to spend money on, so they can’t just be the result of 6 hours of whirlwind effort followed by 0 revision.

I think I’d like to use the blog to post some artwork and get feedback. A lot of it will be post Stage 1: rough, definitely not ready, but something that I’m only vaguely ashamed of. It also gives me a chance to put it down while I start creating something else. I can get some distance between what I just drew, and consider it objectively later, which is important.

Anyway, here’s the first such posting. I call it, ‘Alto Mexico’. I always thought it was funny that the US has California, and that Mexico has Baja California, meaning Lower California. There’s such a strong Mexican influence in Southern California, that it seems sometimes like Southern California is really Upper Mexico, hence Alto Mexico. The conclusion to this story is that when the Spanish ruled what is now California, the two sections were called Alta California and Baja California, for Upper and Lower California.

Any comments are appreciated. Specifically, I am colorblind, and have only a vague idea of what fonts are good at what. So rip away!

Down to 6

July 2, 2010

Matches today were pretty awesome. The Dutch pulled off a stunner, keeping alive my dream of the Aachen-Vaals border war. Die Katze and I lived one kilometer from the Dutch border in Germany, so the old home would be right in the middle of it all. Sensational second half from the Orange, who scored twice to knock out the 5 time champs, which is no small feat.

They’ll play Uruguay, who won in what can only be considered a heartbreaker for the Ghanains. The Black Stars missed a penalty kick on the absolute last play of extra time that would have given them the match. They had a penalty kick because Uruguay forward Suarez deliberately used his hands to keep out a sure goal. He was given a red card and will not be allowed to play in the next match. However, it turned out to be a game saver because the PK was missed, and Uruguay won the game in the PK shootout. Might be a while before the Ghanains get over that one. They would have been the first African nation in the semifinals (pretty sure about that).

I like the Dutch to beat the Suarezless Uruguayans in the semis. I think they are the better team, and they have the momentum of having beaten Brazil. Uruguay will still have Forlan, but I don’t think he’ll be enough to get them past the Orange.

Still 2 Viertefinal games left, with Germany gegen Argentina tomorrow, and Paraguay against Spain. Since I was 2 for 2 today, I will attempt to ruin my streak and guess these two games. I like Germany in the morning game, but that is largely a sentimental pick. I think they are very evenly matched, but I think Oezil will make the difference. Germans take it 2-1.

I like Spain in the later game. I just don’t think Paraguay will be able to keep Spain away for 90 minutes, and will have to take some chances on offense, leading to some breaks for Spain. Two goals for David Villa, and Spain takes it 2-0.

Enjoy the games!

Here we are in the 23rd St. office for this morning’s game. Der Libanese and I have eaten breakfast and we’re 20 minutes in to the game. I’ll try to keep up with the action a little better now. Internet was out this morning. It’s 1-0 Yellow Canaries at the moment, and needless to say der Libanese is excited.

10:26AM Brazil is wearing their blue jerseys, which der Libanese tells me guarantees victory. 6 minutes in they score. Der Libanese bows.

10:33AM Keeper for Netherlands just poked away a great shot from Kaka which followed from some great passing. Brazil definitely looks better right now.

10:40AM Der Libanese and I just finished a conversation about life with a job. He thinks he’ll be able to be free to take trips, buy things, or save money. I disagree. Game remains at 1-0 through 42 minutes. Not too much action, beside the first goal and Kaka’s deflected try.

10:47AM Half time here. I think the Dutch have maybe 1 shot on goal. There are Blue Canaries everywhere when the Orange come down. Brazil has really only had a few chances as well. Here’s the breakdown on the first goal. Basically the Dutch evacuated the middle, and Kaka found Robinho wide open. Without looking he put it on net and past the keeper. I thought it was amazing that he had scored without looking, but der Libanese says that’s the only way to do it, because if you look up, the keeper will look so huge that you’ll definitely hit him. Sweet goal.

10:53AM Analysts talking about the goal making it sound like a pretty monumental defensive collapse. Overhead view would confirm that. Pretty amazing breakdown on the game’s biggest stage. One of the analysts is Ruud Gullit, who I linked to in yesterday’s post. I imagine he was swearing a good bit while they watched the game in studio.

10:56AM Der Libanese believes that twitter, blogs, and most status updates are stupid. He then mentioned that he always has facebook running. Interesting.

11:11AM Goal for the Orange. Kind of a fluky play. A pass towards the center which just kind of went in. Brazilian defender and keeper collided, which let the ball go through. Game will probably shift back to attacking for both sides.

11:16AM Der Libanese is blaming facebook for that last goal. I am blaming the goalkeeper and defenseman for colliding with each other. 10:1 underdogs are back in the game.

11:20AM Brazil is going to have to actually do something offensively now, which they have not really been doing much of. Here’s a little bit of offense now, but the shot is wide by Kaka.

11:23AM Netherlands ran a trick play a while ago that I forgot to mention. On the corner, the guy just tapped it, pretending like someone else was going to play it, and then he streaked towards goal. However, Brazil was not falling for it. As I’m typing this, the Orange just put home an amazing double header goal off a corner. Really amazing. From the corner, off one head, off Sneijder’s head, and in. Wow. Brazil now trailing 2-1, so they’ll have to turn it on. They’ve really made a mess of this game after taking a lead in the 10th minute.

11:30AM Felipe Melo just got sent off for stepping on Robben. It was pretty blatant, and the ref saw it from far away. Melo is the best player on the Netherlands this morning, having scored the own goal, not marking Sneijder on his header, and getting a red card here in the 74th minute. Going to be hard for Brazil to come back now down a man, but not impossible.

11:32AM Der Libanese has gotten pretty uptight, as his side is in a lot of danger here. He has said, ‘Felipe Asshole’ several times, and has stated that he won’t be buying his jersey. Tough to watch.

11:37AM Brazil showing a little something here, although they are taking some risks to do so. A minute ago, Wesley Sneijder had a pretty clean look at the goal, but sort of juggled it a bit. Could have made it 3-1. Two consecutive dangerous corners for Brazil, and somehow they didn’t score. Tension has increased dramatically.

11:41AM Back and forth insane action right now. Sneijder just had a shot saved, which turned into a break for Brazil and Kaka had a shot get deflected wide. The resulting corner was poor, and it’s a goal kick for the Netherlands. Still 2-1, and still insane.

11:44AM “2 minutes left in the campaign…” says der Libanese. Kuyt just had a ridiculous breakaway, stopped by an even more ridiculous tackle by Juan. Brazil has a free kick now, deep in Orange territory. Might be the last chance…

11:46AM Straight into the wall. Ball is played back in with some crazy knuckling action, but it’s headed down and kicked behind by the Blue Canaries. I am not sure how Brazil hasn’t scored here. They are really applying pressure, and the Orange are bending quite a bit.

11:48AM 1 minute left in injury time. Der Libanese is pretty broken. Netherlands could have made this game 3 or 4 to 1, but they keep blowing decently easy chances. Full time now. The Orange win, and 10:1 pays. Too bad der Bruder didn’t have money in bodog, and too bad gambling isn’t legal. Crazy second half with 2 goals and back and forth action. Watch in on ESPN3 if you have a chance, just skip ahead to the 2nd half.

A ton of my dream scenarios have been wiped off the board, but that’s OK. There’s still some good reasons to tune in to the World Cup, and in honor of Eggs and World Cup at the 23rd St office, here’s a rundown of Friday’s games.

  1. Netherlands vs. Brazil:  Brazil has been accused of being boring, even by Pele, their former legendary forward.  Yikes.  However, sometimes boring wins games (see Ravens circa 2000).  Also hard to deny a team with 5 World Cup wins, even if that’s a Ship of Theseus thing.  Meanwhile, the Orange were twice runners up, in 1974 and 1978, but have never won the whole thing.  They also don’t have any players with the name Ruud this year, which is disappointing. However Ruudless they might be, they have no shortage of firepower, and have yet to lose in the tournament, just like Brazil. It’s crazy that this game is just a quarterfinal game, and that the winner of this clash of titans is only in the semifinals. Game Time: Friday, 10AM EST. die Vorhersage das* Skiz: Netherlands 3 – Brazil 2
  2. Uruguay vs. Ghana: Ghana holds the last chance for a new continent to win the World Cup after Japan, South Korea, and the United States were bounced out in the Octofinals (in German, there is a word Achtelfinal, meaning the round of 16. It made me wonder why we don’t have such a word in English. Now we do.). Even though I absolutely despised the injury faking tactics Ghana employed in extra time, they did seem to be the better team for most of the game. I am pretty sure that will not be the case against Uruguay. Uruguay has only a draw against France as a blemish on its record, Suarez has looked absolutely ridiculous at times. In the global underdog sense, Uruguay was determined to be Least Corrupt in South America, which is probably something. They have a pretty good economy, and are decently well off. So they’re doing OK. Meanwhile, der Bruder alluded to the issues that plague Ghana, so they have the underdog card going for them (and hopefully if they lose, they’ll have a better fate awaiting them than a fellow African nation. Game Time: Friday 2:30PM, EST. die Vorhersage das Skiz: Uruguay 2 – Ghana 1.

Enjoy the games. Might run a live blog tomorrow during the Orange-Yellow Canaries battle. der Libanese will be watching tomorrow, and he’s a huge fan of the Canaries, so it should be entertaining when some guy not named Ruud scores against them.

There’s plenty of reasons to watch the World Cup. Any time two countries square off in anything, the atmosphere is different. When the Mets play the Phillies, I might think about past games against the Mets, or maybe a person in New York that I think is an idiot, but that’s pretty much where it stops. When Germany plays England, as they do Sunday morning at 10AM EST, there’s a history of games, and there’s a history between Germany and England, albeit old. When Portugal plays Brazil, ditto. Since the USSR fell, I think it’s a little harder for United States folks to identify with this. Would we get excited to play Mexico in the World Cup? Maybe. Definitely was exciting to play Canada in the hockey gold medal game, but how many other international rivalries like that do we have?

So I can understand the lack of identification with the World Cup in that regard. And I know we don’t really care about soccer, which is the sport played at the Soccer World Cup, so that might be a barrier. But here’s a great reason to watch the World Cup: it’s the Final Frontier.

At various times during its athletic history, the United States has either invented and dominated, or just dominated an incredible number of sports. Let’s consider the following:

  • We created the sport of basketball, which has been taken up by many other countries.  The US has won 13 gold medals at the Olympics in basketball.  The next closest nation is the USSR, which has won 2. Oh yeah, and they don’t exist any more.  We may not always have the most dominant team, and we may not dominate every competition, but we’re the team any other team wants to beat.  The NBA, the most competitive professional basketball league is in the United States.
  • Canadians developed ice hockey, and internationally are the reigning Olympic champions.  However, the United States has won the gold medal, and hosts the National Hockey League, which is the highest caliber professional league in the world.  I think hockey is probably the best source of international team competition for the the United States due to a number of factors.
  • Baseball has never really been taken seriously on an international level, and I think that’s because it was such an internal product for a long time.  International competitions are starting to emerge, like the World Baseball Classic, but the timing is not great, and many of the big names don’t show up to play for the US.  However, the highest caliber professional league is based in the United States.
  • Summer Olympic sports have been dominated from time to time by the US.  Track and field stars are largely from the US, the most famous swimmers are mostly from the United States, we’ve won team gymnastic golds and individual golds, and we frequently lead the medal count for the entire Olympics (although China had more golds than we did in 2008).
  • Winter Olympic sports are a little less strong, but this year we won the medal count and made a strong showing in the hockey tournament.

So what’s missing?  Soccer.  Basically every country in the world has a soccer federation.  The same is not true of basketball, hockey, baseball, or pretty much any sport.  There are 208 nations recognized by FIFA (which is 14 more than the US considers, but who’s counting), and therefore eligible for the World Cup.  208.  Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup began with 204 of those nations.  By contrast, the FIBA World Championship, AKA basketball world championship, started with 106 nations.

And despite being a global superpower, heaps of money, and 300 million people, the United States has never won the World Cup.

It goes beyond that though.  The US has hardly even been relevant at the World Cup.  In 1930, when several European teams didn’t attend the World Cup because the boat ride was too expensive, the US placed 3rd.  After qualifying in 1950 and subsequently being eliminated in group, they did not qualify again until 1990.  The have qualified for the knockout phase in 1994, 2002, and 2010, only winning one game in 2002.

This is why I watch the World Cup.  It’s one of the few sports arenas in which we’re a legitimate underdog, every single time.  There’s nothing better than backing the underdog, only to see him actually pull it out.  The World Cup puts the USA in that position every time they qualify.  They are George Mason trying to make an epic run to the Final Four.  They are Dikembe Mutombo and the Nuggets trying to beat the highly favored SuperSonics.  It’s one of the only times when we get to be the little guys instead of the big bad guys that everyone wants to beat.  It’s one of the only times where other teams are embarrassed to lose to the United States.

Being the little guy frequently sucks because you are the little guy.  You frequently get beat up, you are constantly written off, you are laughed at, you are mocked, and you are usually summarily beaten and excused from the tournament.  But I watch the World Cup because I know one of these years we’re going to make an epic run, and it’s going to be really fucking awesome.

In some ways I’m glad that it didn’t happen this year, because when it does, that’ll be it.  We’ll have crossed the Final Frontier.  We can no longer say that we’ve never been relevant, nobody believed in us, etc., because one time we were relevant.

Now that the US is gone, there are still plenty of underdogs to keep an eye on.  Here are a few:

  • No team from outside of the South American federation or the European federation has cracked the top 3, besides the USA in 1930 (and I remind you that some teams didn’t make it because the boat was too expensive in 1930.  The boat.).  Ghana, Japan, and Mexico can change that with a good run to the finals.
  • Chile, whose best finish at a World Cup was 3rd in 1962, was devastated by an 8.8 earthquake recently.  That is one of the strongest recorded earthquakes in history and did ridiculous amounts of damage to the country.  Plus they are a really fun team to watch, so they would make any final exciting
  • Slovakia did not exist when I was in 6th grade.  That makes you an automatic underdog.
  • The 18 World Cups have been won by 7 nations.  That’s not a very good job of sharing.  The following remaining teams have never won the World Cup: Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Slovakia, Chile, Ghana, and Mexico.  Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, and Japan are all playing in one quarter of the bracket for a spot in the semifinal, so one of those teams will inject some new blood in the semifinals.

And there are also plenty of randomly cool things to root for.  Here are some of those:

  • The chance that Paraguay would play Uruguay in the World Cup final is pretty awesome.
  • Uruguay, Brazil/Chile, Argentina, Paraguay is a possible final four, for an all South American semifinal.
  • Paraguay could take on Argentina in the semifinals and Brazil in the finals, both border nations.  When borders get involves, I believe that means that the ‘shit gets real’.
  • Here are the other potential Border War finals and Border War games: Netherlands-Germany in the finals (The ‘I don’t care what they let you smoke over there’ game); Chile-Argentina in the finals (AKA Chile vs. Morbidly Obese Chile); Spain-Portugal is definitely happening (The ‘Our hair and injury faking is much better than yours!’ game); Argentina-Uruguay (Battle for the 3rd Cup); Brazil-Argentina (Clash of the Titans).

Basically, no matter what happens, there’s a reason why the last few games will be interesting.  Enjoy the rest of the tournament.