Life Lessons

street fighter

“Of course it’s not fair. This is a street fight, kid. You’re trying to end the fight as fast as you can, and you’re trying to teach anyone that messes with you a lesson. There’s no cheating here. There’s just laying on the ground spitting out teeth, or walking away laughing. You want to put the guy down, and make it memorable, really fuck their shit- Ah, crap. Sorry about the language kid, I keep forgetting you’re.. how old are you again?”

“I’m twelve.”

“Geez yeah, twelve. Maybe I shouldn’t have showed you that stuff with the brick..”

“It’s fine sir, you have been very instructive. This was really great. My ride is here so I have to go, but I hope I can come back and learn more from you. will you be here next week?”

“Yeah, sure, I’m here most days, kid.” The boy paid the man triple what he asked for, thanked him again and walked to the waiting limousine.

“Did you learn anything valuable, Master Bruce?”

“I did, Alfred,” the boy replied, his eyes narrowing. “I learned there are no rules.”

Et tu, Croute?


I heard it from a key grip, who heard it from a set designer, who heard it from the 2nd unit director of “Cannonball Run”, who said it was told to him by Ricardo Montalban one night over dinner with friends.

This is a true story.

Actor Roddy McDowell, Montalban’s friend and sometimes co-worker, spent much of the 1960s and 1970s dressed up like a man-sized chimpanzee. First as Cornelius in the original “Planet of the Apes”, then in later sequels as other ape characters. Unfortunately the elaborate makeup took forever to remove, so Roddy was often last to the catering table, and forced to live with whatever he could cobble together. So he usually just took some romaine lettuce, and mixed it with lemon, olive oil, some egg, and worcestershire sauce. This light concoction had the added benefit of not staining his ape makeup, so he could eat without doffing the mask. He would later perfect his recipe with black pepper and croutons.

Over the course of his ape-career it became a regular staple. By the time filming began on “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes”, the catering crew made it special for him. When other actors asked what he was having, the caterers named it after his character’s name: “It’s Caesar’s Salad.” The rest is history.

The Last Mouse and Cat

Mouse and Cat

“Oh shit,” the hawk thought, as its shadow fell directly over Mouse. But Mouse continued to forage, unaware of the danger above. The hawk, cursing his sloppiness, adjusted his angle to account for the sun and started the dive. An instant before the fatal impact, Mouse surprisingly darted clear of danger. Before the hawk could react the trap was sprung, Cat pounced from the tall grass and locked her jaws around the hawk’s throat. As the hawk sputtered “What the fu-” SNAP went his neck.

There was no cheering, nor tiny high fives. Mouse and Cat simply set to the work of preparing the kill for supper and travel. The hunt each day was all that kept the unlikely pair from murdering each other during the night. Or so Mouse thought. But Cat was bound by a promise, a promise she cursed herself daily for making, but that she could never break.

Measles Party

Measles Party

“My Mom says we don’t need shots,” Becca announced, “because the diseases aren’t around anymore.”

“That’s pretty dumb,” Zoe observed, balancing precariously on her head. “The only reason the diseases stay away is because everyone keeps getting shots.”

“Did you just call my Mom dumb? Wet Willy!” Becca yelled, licking her finger and wiggling it in Zoe’s ear.

“Ah, stop! Ok I’m sorry,” Zoe squealed, losing her balance and tumbling to the ground. “I didn’t mean it! Ew! At least she didn’t make you go to a measles party! That was gross AND dumb.”

“Hahaa! No you’re right my Mom’s pretty dumb,” Becca admitted, turning a cartwheel on the grass. “Yours too. Isn’t it weird to be ten years old and know we’re already smarter than our parents?”

“I know! How did that hap-” Zoe interrupted herself, head cocked to one side. “That’s my Mom. I have to go to the funeral now.”

“Another one? Geez that’s like three this month,” Becca exclaimed.

“Yeah, and they’re so boring! But I’ll try to bring back some rice-krispie treats. Seeya!” Zoe turned a quick cartwheel then sprinted towards her house.

Becca waved until Zoe was out of sight, doubled over and coughed for a few minutes, then went back to play with her other friends on the playground.

Fear is Contagious


“I’m scared of everything. Everything scares me.”

“What sorts of things?”

“All the things! Ebola, gluten, pitbulls, vaccinations, guns, Democrats, anti-vaxxers, ebola, hurricanes, GMOs, black people, fracking, sugar, birth control, sugar substitute, feminists, Republicans, brown people, drones, ISIS, Libertarians, gay marriage, cancer, marijuana, riots. Oh and Restless Leg Syndrome!”

“Why are you afraid of these things?”

“The people on the news and on the internet tell me to be! I’m so scared I wouldn’t even leave my house except I have to go buy the things to protect me.”

“What things?”

“The things the people on the news and internet tell me to buy to be safe.”

“Don’t you think that maybe they’re just scaring you so you’ll buy things?”

“Oh, I didn’t think of that..

..That’s scary.”

Painting Red Circles in the Sky


Eliza’s Father fought in the war. After it was over the families of the losing side were too poor to leave, stuck in the same towns and neighborhoods as the winning side. Reconciliation sounded great on paper, but not in the day by day. Kids could be real mean.

Eliza loved her Father’s helmet. She could hide away and let it show her things about the world. It could tell her how hot it was, or if it was going to rain, or how far away things were. It could tell her if a person was healthy or angry or lying. But her favorite thing was to make it paint the circles. When she looked at one of the cruel kids and said “Target!”, a red circle would appear around them, and the helmet would announce “Target Acquired.”

It wouldn’t do anything else. If she tried to command “Fire!” or “Shoot!” something blinky would disappointingly say “Weapons Offline” or “Reload”. Her Father’s weapons didn’t come in his box when they shipped him home. But that was ok, it was enough that she could sit far away from where they could see, and let the helmet paint red circles over the ungrateful brats.

It wasn’t fair. Her father won the war, and she was stuck living with all the losers.

“Target Acquired.”
“Target Acquired.”
“Target Acquired.”

Double Feature: Shared Experiences


Danny enjoyed group more than he expected. Talking about his father, about the Overlook, it was different when the people listening had gone through similar shit, instead of shrinks. Hearing the stories of others also helped lessen the isolation he’d felt for years.

One girl had a brother who went on a dozen murder sprees, and couldn’t be killed. Two guys both had a dead serial killer stalk them in their dreams, just because they lived on the same street. A woman’s sister was possessed by a zuni fetish doll. One guy accidentally adopted the anti-christ. And half the group had survived severe hauntings of one kind or another; houses, toy dolls, you name it.

But there was one girl, Kirsty, that Danny really connected with, probably because she lost her dad, too. Her step-mom’s ex lover escaped from hell, and hid from demons by killing her dad and wearing his skin like a suit. Totally fucked up. But between strange shit like demonic puzzle boxes and evil ghost twins, they had a lot in common, and recently started dating.

Friday was going to be their first sleepover date, and Danny was pretty sure Kirsty was ready to go all the way, a big step for both of them. They were going camping all weekend, with some friends at a cabin in the woods.

Back To The Galaxy Far Far Away


Doc Brown and Marty saw the ewok give a signal, and jumped from the AT-DLRN just as two suspended logs crushed the cab from opposite sides. Mr. Fusion’s unfortunate reaction to the impact was roughly 150 kilotons, killing everything and razing the forest in a forty kilometer radius. On a positive note, the forcefield generator protecting the incomplete Death Star was destroyed, allowing rebel forces to defeat the Empire and win the day.

While celebrations broke out across the galaxy, Luke stood on Endor’s blighted surface, mourning everyone he’s ever known or loved, and trying to ignore the high-fiving ghosts of Jedis past. He remembered too late Yoda’s fateful warning:

“Trust time travelers, do not.”


There’s No Place

homeless guy

Sometimes I’m walking home late at night, stumbling perhaps, and lost in my personal sea of angst. Stuff isn’t going right, things I’ve failed at, or frustrations I haven’t gotten past. The bills are piling up, I didn’t get the job, the girl I like likes someone else, why can’t I solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, my knees hurt, the quality of my artwork is getting worse not better, I’m overweight, my car payment is too high, etc etc and all the other things.

But then I walk past someone sleeping on a bench, and it all fades away as I circle back to the important part at the start.

I get to go home.

Eyes and then the Rest

girl portrait

When I was first learning to draw portraits, I would always start with the eyes, often to the detriment of the piece. I ignored composition, proportion, scale, everything, and just drew the eyes. Then I would sort of grow the rest of the face out from that point. Sometimes I would just get lucky and be relatively successful, but more often than not something would just be.. off.

I’m much better now at working the whole piece holistically, building the shapes and proportions together before adding any detail. But when I do start on the detail, the eyes usually come first still. There’s just something about the eye, when it’s down on paper suddenly there’s a real person waiting to be drawn, instead of just lines on a page. And they always convey the same message to me.

“Don’t screw me up.”

Request Granted

girl faces

“Please? Please draw us! Please you’re so awesome it would be so great!”

“Well thanks for that, I’m flattered. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to do commission work-”

“Oh not commission, do it just for fun! Come on wouldn’t we make a good subject? Look how cute we are!”

“Sure, and yes very cute, but I really only have time for my own personal work. My subjects and styles change all the time, it probably wouldn’t be what you were looking for.”

“Oh pleeeeeease?! We don’t care, make us look like anything you want! Can you make her look like Ke$ha? Ha no just kidding! Please draw us! Do whatever you want, we’ll love it! Please please please please!!!???”

“Um. Okay…”

Batman & Robin: History of Violence

batman and robin

The nurse bandaged the boy’s arm, covering most of the large bruises. This was his third visit in a week, and while she didn’t bother to ask anymore he volunteered that he fell from a tree. The nurse looked him in the eye, but saw no trace of hesitation. He’s had a lot of practice.

But beyond the first aid, there was nothing else she could do. When she accused his guardian, the richest man in the city, of abuse, the school put her on paid leave. She returned to find an entirely new wing under construction, a “generous” donation by the child’s guardian. She could quit, she should have quit, but told herself the boy needed what help she could give.

So she treated the symptoms each day, and feared for the violence the boy faced each night.

b. sides

b sides

It’s kind of like 3-D. You gotta kind of squint your eyes and let both sides blend together. Or blink one eye at a time back and forth really fast.

yah. it’s a poor substitute.

Nerd Porn

stormtrooper girl

Roald: No, I’m serious. I think there’s money to be made with nerd porn. You name it. Star Wars, Star Trek, Galactica, Space:1999, UFO, Thunderbirds, Lord of the Rings, and on and on. Just dress some cute girls up in Boba Fett and Starbuck costumes, throw them on a bed-

Wyatt: Would it be a bed? Maybe it should be a holding cell, or brig or something-

Roald: -Throw them in a brig, spritz them down, add a link to Paypal and watch the money roll in. I’m telling you this could be my internet bubble.

Wyatt: I don’t think that means what you think it means. Are you seriously considering becoming a pornographer?

Roald: Nerd pornographer, and yes. And thanks for reminding me to add Princess Bride to the list. So, do you want to know what I’m going to call the site?

Wyatt: No, not particularly.

Roald: Oh come on. Please?

Wyatt: Ok fine, don’t whine. What are you going to call it?

Roald: Han Shot First.

Wyatt: ….


Airlock Discipline

space girl

Living on the generational ship required discipline. Discipline with maintenance and especially discipline with safety. Hull breaches were constant, something not unforeseen on a ship constructed thousands of Earth-years ago. When a bulkhead gave out, the siren sounded, and it would be up to whomever could reach the airlock first to close it, no matter who was left behind. To wait for a loved one would only condemn others to die. More to the point, were you to fail, someone else would just be at the next airlock to sacrifice you instead. It was the tragic reality of the hard life of deep space.

That being said, once Abigail ejected her third brother into space, her parents began to suspect she wasn’t all that sorry about it.

It’s Not The Fall


Down to three fingers on his left hand. The ledge was barely wide to his first knuckle, and still slick from the morning’s rain. The right hand slip swung his body out, and he knew if he tried to find grip with his foot, a fail would push his fingers right off. He had to trust his fingers, look for the next position.

When the slip came, he was ready. His body facing the opposite wall, dropped half a meter, his foot caught on the next lip. He absorbed the motion and pushed off with everything he had. The alley was ten meters wide, maybe fifteen, almost impossible even for him. But the ground was over one hundred meters below, definitely impossible.

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See No Evil: Magical Realist


[September 21, 2005]
PLEASE READ: Important Message From Chief Of Staff’s Office
SUBJ: POTUS “God Goggles”

POTUS did it <i>again</i>. This time in front of the White House Press Pool, just prior to Thursday’s press conference. Fortunately press pool ignored it, as usual. But if POTUS did it IN CAMERA we’d be in a world of hurt. The need is URGENT to retrain POTUS against the goggles. he can <i>talk</i> about talking to God, but he has to stop demonstrating how he does it.

Strategy session at 9:00 am for team effort moving forward.

Andrew Card
White House Chief of Staff

[CC: Karl, Dick, Condi, Scott, Donald, Alberto, Laura, Barney]

Hellboy: Highly Collectible

“These were in the trash! Did you throw these away?”

“Yes, I thought the intern left them when he.. wait. Are these yours?

“Of course they’re mine!”

“But.. they’re all Hellboy. Just Hellboy.”

“Not JUST Hellboy, they’re highly collectible. And all different. This one is based on the comic book. This one is 1/6th scale and super realistic. And this one.. damnit. This one WAS a bobble-head. Now there’s no head. I hope you’re happy, this was a limited edition!”

“Fine, I’m sorry! How was I supposed to know? I’ll go through the trash and try to find your bobble-head.. head. Geez. I swear Hellboy, you are by far the strangest partner I’ve ever had.”

Former Pig Farmer

The hardest part was directional motivation.

Some guys could afford real lifters. Silas heard they had a pack of elephants at the McCallister ranch, a whole pack. Over at the Triple T they rolled with ostrich and zebras, and there was a rancher Silas saw fly over once, maybe from the next county over, had himself a hippo. With a whole hippo Silas could fly all day, so high people would just be ants.

Silas couldn’t afford all them fancy animals, but that didn’t stop him. Little creativity, lot of zip ties, and he could go just as high as the rest.

Higher sometimes, with the right directional motivation.