Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! Thanks for reading!

Merry Christmas to all my readers! Thank you so much for checking out my blog! Best of wishes for the new year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Finals Shenanigans Remembered: Part 2, We Are Champions

Look! I found a chalkboard!

Well, I actually didn't find it. This was in the classroom where I found one of my friends right after I finished my take-home final a few Tuesdays ago. 

How often do you see chalkboards anymore? This was even a pretty modern building. The majority of the classrooms has whiteboards, but there are a few study rooms that have chalkboards like these.

My friend was doing practice math problems for one of her business classes. She was being a very responsible student and practicing for her final exam the next day.

I took over a third of her chalkboard to do that. I had just finished that take-home final, man. Before that, I took a final exam about women in Ancient Greece. Before that, I was studying women in Ancient Greece. Before that, I slept for a few hours. Before that, I was studying historical women who didn't live in Ancient Greece. Before that, I was trying to write a take-home final. Before that, I was panicking about my GPA. Before that, I was panicking in general. Before that, I was trying to write a take-home final. Before that, I was studying women in Ancient Greece. 

I'd been running on caffeine and the fear of failure. There's a certain euphoria that comes with final exams being lifted off your shoulders at last. Sometimes it manifests in the form of giddy and slightly nonsensical messages doodled on a rare chalkboard in a business building on a college campus.

I have to say again: I have nothing against John Keats. Nothing at all. The guy was great and wrote great poetry.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Finals Shenanigans Remembered: Part 1, Keats out of Context

Finals are done! They've been done for over a week now.

I really didn't get up to a whole lot of shenanigans this semester. At least, not any as creative as my usual final exam shenanigans. They were mostly boring. Like Facebook, YouTube, whatever.

I also actually didn't have a lot of time to get up to shenanigans. I had only one final exam, which was on Tuesday of finals week, and then I had a take-home final essay-ish-thing that was due the same day. I also had a creative writing assignment due, but... it was due "sometime during finals week." I love creative writing teachers.

So I didn't have a lot of time for creative shenanigans, but I did do a few silly things. And I will post them now! And over the next few days, as I think of them.

Here's a sketchy cartoon thingy of me quoting Keats out of context:

That's how I felt while studying and writing. I actually said this out loud at least once. I've really got nothing against John Keats. In fact, I enjoyed studying a great deal of his poetry this semester. I just didn't really appreciate writing papers and essays and stuff like that. I never do. I would probably like it all a bit more if I could learn to write papers before the last minute, but... yeah.

I haven't drawn much on my tablet in a while. I'm trying to get back in the swing of it. I'll be practicing on it, not necessarily doing finished cartoons. I might post a few of the sketches up here for the fun of it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Forest Notebook Doodles

I haven't posted on my blog in a long time, so, as is my custom, here are some doodles I drew in my notebook to prove that I'm still alive.

We were talking about John Keats's poem "Ode to Psyche" in class, so I doodle Psyche and Cupid frolicking by a snowy forest.

I don't usually doodle in that class. I was having a hard time focusing that day and was trying to occupy the daydreamy part of my brain so that the other part of my brain could focus on what the professor was saying.

At the end of the class, he voiced his displeasure at the lack of focus in our class that day. I hope he wasn't personally mad at me. I was trying so hard to pay attention.

I have to write a 15 page paper for that class and I'm trying to figure out what to write it about, so I was going through my notes, and that's when I found the doodle. I'm particularly proud of the trees.

NaNoWriMo is limping along. I'm up to 5806 words. I think it'll probably be put mostly on hold until after this paper is done. Thanksgiving break... if only I could fast-forward through the paper-writing process so I can get to Thanksgiving.

But not fast-forward through all the other stuff I'm doing. This semester has gone by really, really quickly. I'm a little shocked.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brace Yourself

National Novel Writing Month is held in November.

October is almost over.

Snuck up on me again, didn't ya, NaNoWriMo?

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. Afterward (ideally), you have the rough draft of a novel to work with.

I've technically participated for the past three years, although I think only the last two count. I've never won. Could this be my year? Could 2014 be the year I make it to 50,000 words?

Eh. I don't have high hopes. November is the busiest month of my fall semester. There's all kinds of papers and stuff going on this month. But I'm going to try very hard to beat last year's score.

Last year, I started a semi-Victorian, semi-steampunk, semi-romantic, very adventure-y novel that I called "The Night Rider." I got up to 12,360 words.

I'm going to work on a different novel this year. Night Rider is still very near and dear to my heart, and I hope to finish it sometime, but it's no longer the most prominent idea buzzing around in my mind. Also, the NaNoWriMo rules say that you have to write all new words, so I figure I'll just start over with a new idea.

That said, I'm having a hard time picking between two story ideas. They're both fantasy stories, although one has a bit more supernatural stuff and the other is actually a bit more scientific. One idea is fairly recent in my head- I think the grandfather of the idea popped into my head over the summer and gradually developed into the awesome thing it is right now. 

The other idea is one I've been working on since roughly last Spring Break (although it has nothing to do with Spring Break, I swear). I'd like to say this one's a bit more developed than the other one is, but I'm actually not sure about that anymore.

A major factor in the decision will probably be the fact that I actually have names for most of the characters in the newer idea. I have the hardest idea coming up with names. But I've been writing up chunks of the story for creative writing assignments, just to sort of test drive the characters, and I managed to come up with some names for them. They felt weird at first, but after a three-hour writing session on Monday night, I can officially say they've grown on me. 

So that's my dilemma. That's the update. I'll make a decision about it by Nov. 1.

I'm definitely supposed to be reading workshop pieces for creative writing. I'm definitely procrastinating. Back to work!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A New Page on the Blog!

Hey, everybody!

Quick! Look at my blog! Do you see something different? Something that wasn't here the last time you looked at this page?

There's now a tab next to the "Home" and "Digital Portfolio" tabs that's labeled "Intern Blog."

If you click on that tab, you will be taken to the Intern Blog page of the Alabama Heritage website.

Alabama Heritage is the magazine I'm working with as an editorial intern this semester. The magazine office is in Northport, Alabama, just across the Black Warrior River from where I live and attend classes at the University of Alabama. Alabama Heritage is a quarterly magazine that focuses on Alabama history. I do a great deal of fact checking and copy editing for the magazine, but I'm also responsible for writing a blog post every two weeks. My work is featured on the Intern Blog alongside that of current and past AH interns. Take a look!

And here's the link again, just because:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hand Czech

I diddled a doodle. And then I practiced drawing hands. And there's a Czech proverb for no extra charge.

I'm trying to get in the habit of writing or drawing for 15 minutes a day. Ideally, I'd do both for longer periods of time, but I get awfully busy during the week, so this is a good start.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Minecraft Walkthrough Creative Writing Assignment

Hey, y'all! So I'm taking this creative writing class about games (athletic games, video games, card games, probably mind games, too). One of the topics for our next workshop session is games as walkthroughs or something to that effect. I decided to write out a Let's Play video of a guy playing Minecraft.

I think it's kinda fun. There was a lot of heavier, more emotional, more thoughtful stuff in our last workshop, so I wanted to change things up a little bit with some humor. I thought it sounded just like the kind of thing I like to post on my blog, so here you go! Enjoy!

Hey, everybody! Welcome to another episode of Tony Plays Minecraft! Be There or Be Cubed! Hahaha!

Thanks to everyone who shared, liked, and commented on the last episode. You guys are the best! Except everyone who said my Eiffel Tower looks like an emo Christmas tree. You guys are officially the worst.

So since we wrapped up the Eiffel Tower last time (and by “we,” I mean “I,” since technically I’m the only one who worked on it), I need to head on down to my mineshaft and find some more diamond because my pickaxe is going to break soon. Not cool.

So here we go, out of my Beverly Hills mansion (because I know you guys love it when I say that), aaaaand the dog is stuck behind the door again. Get over here, Roger. I still hate that name, in case you were wondering. Thank you, subscribers, for picking the name Roger for my vicious hound. I still love you, though.

Bee-tee-dubs, if you haven’t subscribed yet, there’s still room in my heart for you! Just click the magic button.

All righty, then! If you’re tuning in for the first time, this is my world: EsTonya. Get it? It’s funny because my name is Tony.

We’re gonna double-tap the forward key here to sprint because creepers like to hang out around here and I just can’t get rid of them. You guys, I’ve been blown up by too many mother-fracking creepers this week…

And here we are at the mineshaft! Anybody else find that word kinda awkward to say? No? Just me? Okay, then, Tony’s brain is stuck in the gutter.

Oh, there’s Roger. Took you long enough, you idiot dog.
Sorry, I forgot you guys don’t like it when I bully him.

Anyway, here we are, spelunking like a pro, climbing down the mineshaft at the speed of light as we look for the elusive blue gem that will let me—

What? How’d a cow get down here? I keep the door to this mineshaft shut! You, sir, are a trespasser. And do you know what I do to trespassers?


Yep, that’s right. Nothing stands a chance against my diamond sword. Booyah! No, wait, that was last month’s catchphrase. This month’s one was… Uhhhhh…

I’ll think of it sooner or later. Anyway. Yeah. Here, Roger. Have some cow carcass. Eat it and dream of a better name. Like Zombie Gnawer. Or Twilight Link. Seriously, you guys, how could you not vote for Twilight Link?

Anyway. Going along. Gonna take this tunnel to the left since I’ve never been down this way before and everyone keeps telling me to go this way. Are you happy now?

Torch here, torch there, torch here, torch for you, two torches over here, four for you, Glen Coco… If you’re new to this beautiful, cubey world of Minecraft, we have to be sure to light up all the dark places so monsters can’t spawn in them. I mean, I’m not afraid of monsters or anything, but I just—OH GOD WAS THAT A—nope. Nope, I’m okay. Juuuust kidding.

Constant vigilance is the key when playing Minecraft. Just like Mad-Eye Moody says in Harry Potter. Those were awesome books. Harry and Hermione should’ve gotten together. Go ahead, start a war in the comments. I’ll be looking for it.

So… yeah. I guess I’ll just pick a random spot in this wall and start mining my way through. Hopefully I’ll run into some diamonds before my pickaxe WHAT. WHERE DID THE GROUND GO?

Okay, everybody, we’ve just found a brand new lake of lava. I’m going to attempt to build a bridge across it because it looks like there’s some stable ground on the other side. I’m going to use cobblestone since I happen to have some, and I’m going to hold down the shift key as I lean out over the edge so I don’t fall into that pit of lava-y death. That would suck.

Doot, doot, doot. Simple, easy, just placing some cobblestone one after another and WHOA. STOP. ROGER. STOP IT, ROGER. THERE ISN’T ENOUGH ROOM FOR BOTH—


Land! Found land. Gotta put out the fire… Where’s my water bucket? What the hell, man! Uh… Uh…  Maybe I’ll try running around… Uhhh, I’ll try building a box of stone around myself? Uhhhh, nothing’s working and I’m still on fire, and-- You know what? Screw it. Screw all of this.

There. Yeah, I know, you guys think it’s totally lame when I switch to the “peaceful” difficulty when my health gets too low, but you know what? Shut up.

Okay. All healed up, switching back to hard. Did Roger burn up in the lava? Good. Oh, wait, no, there he is. Stupid dog. I should kill you right now.

All right. Guess I’ll wander around down here for a while. Not like I really know how to get back up.

OOOH! Ooooh, you guys! Look! It’s diamond! I finally found some! It took my dog pushing me into a pit of lava, but it was totally worth it! Ladies, if you’re looking for a new best friend, might I suggest you stop by my place tonight and let me set you up with a diamond? Yeah, just kidding, I’m using all of these to make a new pickaxe and armor.

Hey! Stupid spider, that hurt! Yeah, that’s right, you get that spider, Roger! It’s the least you could do after shoving me into the lava. Stupid mutt.

HEY. Don’t you hurt my dog, you stupid spider! Hey! Hey! Stop! No! Roger! Noooooo!

You killed my dog! You killed Roger! I’m gonna kill you, you stupid, oversized bug! You die now! Aaaaaaaaaagh!

And now I’m alone down here in this cave. Just me. And the monsters. And all of you watching this video. No offense, but this is depressing.

Might as well mine this diamond. Let’s see—one, two, three, four-five, six… Six diamond blocks! Not bad. Guess I should go find my crafting box before anything OH GOD CREEPER NO!




Well. I died. All my stuff is lying at the bottom of that mineshaft, somewhere in the vicinity of the lava lake. And I’m pretty sure I’ll never find it before it all de-spawns.

I think that’s all for today.

Don’t forget to subscribe.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Toon Link Drawing Practice

Unless this is your first time visiting my blog, you probably know that I like to draw. I'm not great at it, but I'm always trying to improve. One day I'd love to write stories and provide fun little illustrations or side-cartoons for the readers either in the book itself or on a website dedicated to it.

So what do I need? Practice!

I had some free time today between classes, so I decided I'd try to just draw something with a pen, without going through the penciling process first. I don't honestly think that's a good way to practice drawing, but it's what I felt like doing, so I did. Because I can.

Link seems to be the subject of the week, so I thought I'd try drawing Toon Link, the star of multiple titles in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda franchise, the most famous of which is probably The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (which I've never actually played... unless a ten-minute demo at Target counts). 

Here's the picture I used as a reference:

So I looked at that image and tried very hard to draw what I saw, using different parts of the picture to measure and determine where each line had to go. It kind of reminds me of marching band, where we have to make pictures based off of where everyone else is standing.

Considering I didn't start with pencil, it didn't turn out too badly. I got a few new ideas on how to draw things and I also have some ideas on what not to do next time. Like, that sword's really messed up. But I have ideas on how to improve, and that's really the point, right?

Because I was pretty pleased with how it had turned out and I still had some time before band practice, I decided to color it in.

I experimented with some shading. Some of it you can see. Some of it you can't. Like, I actually used two different shades of yellow to do the hair. But you can't tell. I think the coloring process mostly just consisted of me smearing black ink around with my yellow and peach colored pencils and getting mad.

But there's Link, ready to go off on an adventure, defeat Ganondorf, find the Triforce, save Zelda-- all that stuff that heroes do!

And he kind of looks like he's pushing my grocery list away and telling me to do fun stuff instead.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pen Doodles

As an apology for my radio silence, here is my third post of the evening (yes, I am, in fact, procrastinating on the reading I have to do, but that's not the point).

I've sorta been doodling all over every bit of scrap paper I have for the past few days. I remarked to myself tonight, "You know, I can draw some pretty okay faces, but I have an awfully hard time drawing bodies."

So even though I was holding a pen that wouldn't allow me to correct any mistakes I made, I drew those two people. And I totally didn't end up drawing bodies like I thought I would. But I think the person on the right's hair looks kind of neat. I sorta started with a few lines just to see where they would take me, and the lines turned into a short haircut, and the short haircut turned into that person.


I enjoy doodling. I like to keep a comic strip desk calendar (last year's was Garfield, this year I have Zits) on my desk, and when I tear off a sheet each day, there's usually ample doodling space under the fact/game of the day.

The Legend of Zelda: Crimson Shutout

One of my roommates likes the Legend of Zelda franchise and she went home for the weekend, so I did a little art on our whiteboard to let her know how the football game went.

Because I'm just silly like that.

I mean absolutely zero offense to any Florida Atlantic fans who might be reading this, by the way. Thanks for coming out yesterday, and I'm sorry you had to sit through intense heat and then a sudden downpour. That was kinda awful.

Not a Trick of the Light

It's not a trick of the light-- my feet are literally a different color than my legs are.

This photo, ladies and gentlemen, was taken a few weeks ago during band camp. I was going to post it up here, but I moved on to something else while the photo was uploading and forgot about it completely. Since my sock tan is still this beautiful today, I thought I'd go ahead and post it for the world to see.

Band camp: Where no amount of sunscreen can help you.

I'm kind of proud of it, actually.

So the reason I haven't posted anything on the blog in a while is that I've been out developing this sock line and starting up a brand new semester. I'm a senior in college now! Hooray! So far, it's an odd mix of Senioritis and nostalgia. Those two things really don't go well together.

I've been feeling creatively lately, so I'm hoping I'll have some new things to share with those poor, unhappy readers who are still faithful enough to check this blog regularly. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Weird Al Lyric Story Challenge

My aunt challenged me to write a short story comprised entirely of Weird Al lyrics. I could use any of Weird Al's parodies or original songs, although I had to use at least three consecutive words from a song at any given time (no picking and choosing single words from different songs to string together into sentences).

I accepted the challenge and set to work. It was insanely difficult. I had to get pretty creative with enjambed lines sometimes, and I took liberties with punctuation and capitalization. Most of the story makes sense, though. I color-coded the lyrics and put a key at the end of the story.

Without further ado, I present my Weird Al Lyric Story.

I meet some chick, ask her this and that, like "Are you pregnant, girl, or just really fat?"

"You know I'm fat. That really makes me want to literally smack a crowbar upside your stupid head."

"But that's just perfect. A long, long time ago... riding in the bus down the boulevard and the place was pretty packed... Couldn't find a seat so I had to stand. Engines burned out and that's when the red alert came on the radio. I couldn't get to the door... I think this bus exploded in a giant fireball and everybody died except for me. You know why? Because I'm fat! I'm fat! You know. I'm a lucky man.

"Fat. You know, it bubbles all the time like a giant carbonated soda. I'm sure my critics will say it's a grotesque display. Well, they can bite me, baby."

And then she said "Baby, can't we just go out to dinner, please?"

Only question I ever thought was hard was "Do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?" I say "We're goin' to the drive-thru!"

Now a woman on a speaker box is sayin' "Can I take your order, please?" I said "Yes indeed, you certainly can. We'd like two hamburgers with onions and cheese. I think I'm gonna have a chicken sandwich. Ham on whole wheat."

I order all my sandwiches with mayonnaise.
I bite into those buns and... stop, don't go no further... That's not what I'm hungry for.

And now my woman's got this weird look frozen on her face. She screams, "Eat it! Eat it! Open up your mouth and feed it!"

I put my ear piece on because I'm tacky. Stephen Hawking's in my library.

She leaned right down next to me and she said, "How come you're always such a fussy young man? You dumb mouthbreather!"

"Okay, now here's the deal. I'll try to educate ya--"

And she said, "I could care less."

"That means you do care. At least a little."

"Oh, you're a lost cause... Get out of the gene pool."

"Really, now, I got snazzy suits and ties... got that swagger."

"I hate these hamburgers with onions and cheese."

We caught a ride back to Olive Garden. I say, "Tonight we're gonna party like it's the Renaissance fair."

And she said, "Bored to tears. Just stick it in your pointy ear, White and Nerdy."

That's when I swore that someday, someday I would marry her. Someday...

They laughin' and rollin' their eyes 'cause I'm so white and nerdy. Turned the other cheek... I really don't care... 'cause I'll be laughin' my head off when my wife says... "I do," plus once you see my sweet moves you're gonna stay amazed.

"Word Crimes"
"Amish Paradise"
"The Saga Begins"
"Another One Rides The Bus"
"Party in the CIA"
"Perform This Way"
"Trapped in the Drive-Thru"
"White and Nerdy"
"Eat It"

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jack Mast Mosaics

My dad has given my blog some attention on his personal blog a few times, so I just wanted to take a moment to brag on something cool he does.

My dad's name is Jack Mast, and he makes some really cool mosaics.

Really, check out his mosaic blog. Look especially for the "barbecued iguana" and sunset beach ones. They're awesome. We've got a huge one hanging on the wall at home, and he used real seashells in it.

Sometimes his mosaic hobby completely takes over the dining room table, but it could be worse. I mean, he used to make tie-dye t-shirts, and while nobody can deny that tie-dye t-shirts are fun, I kind of have half a drawer full of tie-dye shirts that I don't know what to do with.

Now, mosaics don't have to be stored in dressers or closets. You can just hang them up on the wall, and they'll sit there and shine awesomeness down on you. And they look really cool.

So definitely check out his blog. He's got all kinds of pictures of the mosaics he's done and the process he uses to make them.

I love you, Dad! Also, I'm sorry I teased your tie-dye hobby.

Outlines Don't Actually Have To Look Good

Many people who write papers for high school and sometimes college English classes have to turn in an outline with their paper. This practice creates a lot of hate for the practice of outlining.

I mean, I can see why. People plan papers in many different ways. Not everybody plans their paper with an outline. For some people, having to make an outline is just more work. It's kind of unfair to force everyone to turn in an outline (unless you're actually trying to teach someone how to make an outline, in which case there shouldn't be an entire paper attached to it).

Personally, I don't think teachers should grade outlines. They're supposed to help you organize your thoughts and make a solid argument. They're not supposed to be shiny and perfect.

I make outlines for all my papers, but since I don't have to turn them in, they are certainly not pristine examples of wonderfulness.

Fun fact: You don't actually have to put that much effort into an outline. You just have to put in as much effort as is useful to you.

I had this thought earlier today as I was looking through my downloads folder and happened across a file entitled "The Flaw in Ragged Dick." It was a paper I wrote for a children's lit class I took once. Since I couldn't actually remember what the flaw in Ragged Dick was, I opened up the folder to take a look.

I found it was a very early version of the paper which was mostly just an outline. It was probably something that I'd started at the library and then emailed to myself to finish later.

But I just had to laugh as I read on, because the amount of effort I put into that outline decreased drastically as it got to the end, and it was kind of goofy. Here:

You can kinda see where I just kinda said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get the picture, whatever, moving on."

See? Outlines. As much effort as you feel like putting into them.

And if you feel like not putting in any effort at all, that's just fine. Your paper, man.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Iron Skeeter

Okay, okay, okay, I'll stop laughing, I promise.

Nope, can't do it.

But you guys saw her face, right? The video looks okay?

Good. I don't want any of you to miss this.

She's got her headphones in again. I'm going in.


She really thought she had me that time. I'm dying, you guys. This is hilarious.

But you know which one was my favorite? The time she was actually fast enough to catch me, and she tried to smash me between her hands, but then she opened her hands back up... and I flew away!


Okay, she sat back down. Gonna give it a minute or two, let her think I've gone away.

Recalibrating, checking systems... A minor bit of damage, but nothing I'm worried about.

What do you guys think? Subtle this time? Yeah, subtle this time.

I'm just gonna sneak up behind her... hover right next to her ear... Activate buzz, volume at 85%.

She can hear it through her headphones!

Whoops, too slow!

Aww, come on. You getting tired or something?

Sheesh! Temper, temper! It was just one little bite. Or maybe two. Or twelve, but who's counting?

You guys are seeing this, right? It's hilarious.

Oh, yes. Please try the flyswatter again.




That hurt. She whacked me a good one, you guys.

But you know what?

I'm wearing a suit made of a gold-titanium alloy, that's what! Ha!

You guys are getting this on the video feed, right? Look at her face! Look at it! She's all, "HOW are you still ALIVE?"

Aaaah, you guys. This was the best idea ever. I'm gonna dive in front of her laptop screen next.

I ammmmm Iron Skeeter! Na na na na na na na Iron Skeeterrrr!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy 75th Birthday, Batman!

Today Barnes and Noble celebrated 75 years of Batman by giving out free comic books and other goodies. They're also having a drawing to win free action figures and such.

When I heard about the Batman festivities, I jumped into my car and drove down to Barnes and Noble lickety-split. I like superheroes, in case you couldn't tell from many other posts on this blog.

I didn't want to just take the free stuff and run, so I used a gift card to grab a Flash trade as well. I was a little hesitant about spending money on anything from DC Comics' New 52 since I've heard almost nothing but awful things about it, but a quick bit of research showed that Flash doesn't seem to be doing too badly. The cover doesn't offend me; in fact, it looks pretty cool.

But what do I know? I typically only read Marvel comics.

At any rate, I've never read a Flash comic before, so I won't know if this one is destroying all the comics that came before it.

I'm excited, you guys. I've only read Superman and a small bit of Batman. It's a new DC character for me! I've always liked Flash on the TV shows I've seen, so I have high hopes for this book being worth the money. I just need to finish reading Watchmen first.

Ah, but Batman... 75 years and you're still awesome! Where would the modern superhero be without you?

Happy Birthday to the Dark Knight!

Just One More

I have one more doughnut left.

Out of the 24 doughnuts I bought close to midnight on July 11, I have one more left. I've been keeping them in the freezer and eating them whenever that "I never wanna see a doughnut again" feeling went away.

Why did I buy 24 doughnuts?

Monday, July 21, 2014



Dear Mosquito in the House

Dear Mosquito in the House,

We are not friends.

You are not welcome here. Either go back outside immediately or crawl into a corner and stay there for the rest of your life.

This is my place of residence and sanctuary. You have invaded it and preyed upon me when I was most vulnerable.

This offense is unforgivable. It will be your last.

I hope you enjoyed the blood you stole from me. I hope it satisfied you. As I lie awake tonight, scratching my arm and my feet, I will be thinking of all the various ways I can kill you.

If you want to live, don't let me see you again. If I see you, bad things will happen to you. If I see you, you will learn just how insane mosquito bites can make a person. If I see you...

...I will end you.

Most sincerely,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Get Off Your High Horse

Click for full view.

For the past two weeks, I've been writing blurbs about private high schools for the magazine. After one week of writing blurbs, I arrived at the office to find a stack of edits and comments that somebody in the editorial department made on them.

I won't lie; I grumbled a bit as I looked at all that red ink. But the fact was that I had written the blurbs as a creative writer and hadn't adhered to the proper newsy style of writing. The edits were a much-needed reminder that I am not, in fact, all that and a bag of chips and that I have a lot to learn. They did teach me something, though, and for that I am very grateful.

I'd like to give a big round of applause to everyone in the editorial department who puts up with me, my creative tendencies, and my various shenanigans twice a week. Thanks, you guys. You're awesome.

(I hope you don't mind that I used an Oxford comma just now.)

In other news... here's that comic strip I've been promising you for a few days now! I spent four nights working on this: one to do the sketch and layout, one to ink and color the big first panel, and then two panels per night for the next two nights (and I skipped a night or two in between). I did it entirely on my Bamboo tablet and I'm extremely proud of it. It may not look like much, but GUYS.... I put some serious effort into this one.

Like, I had to figure out how to draw a horse and everything. Horses aren't super easy to draw. Especially when they're anatomically incorrect. I nicknamed the high horse "Spaghetti Legs."

Just for fun, here's the sketch layer that I made the first night and occasionally altered very slightly:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Relay Foods

The other day, a representative from Relay Foods came to the door. I was the only one home, so she talked to me. Relay Foods is pretty cool- you order groceries on their website (and we're talking all the local, organic awesome food, like the kind you buy at farmers markets and stuff), and then you pick them up at a specified pick-up area on a specified day.

They were selling welcome kits for 70% off, so I thought, "Hey, why not?" I bought a kitchen basics kit for $15.

Today I walked almost literally across the street to the elementary school (seriously, a five minute walk) and grabbed my bag of food. The people at the truck were super friendly. They had my order all ready to go in a plastic bin that was insulated with some kind of pillowy thing and had a label with my name on it. The lady also checked my eggs to make sure none were broken. The whole experience just gave me the feeling that they really cared about my food and me.

Here's what I got!

Ah, the local, organic goodness. And I didn't have to go to the grocery store to get them. Also, this is the first time in my life that I've ever seen milk in a glass bottle. They actually ask people to bring the milk bottles back so they can use them again. They give you your deposit back if you do.

I'm pretty happy with my purchase, but my favorite is the sunflower bread. THIS IS SOME OF THE BEST BREAD I'VE EVER TASTED. It's sweet, chewy, not too crunchy, and it's got sunflower seeds baked into it. So awesome.

So I give Relay Foods an A+ for their welcome kits. I'm not sure if I'm going to buy a whole lot else from them because it might get a little expensive, but I might need to get another loaf of sunflower bread. Seriously, it's one of those WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIIIIIIFE moments.

If you've been keeping up with the blog, you might be a little confused as to why I did not post a cartoon today. Well, I worked on it for a few hours. I have one panel completely finished. But as I was working on it, I decided that the comic just wanted to be colored. So I'm coloring it. And it's taking longer, as I knew it would. But it just looks so much better that way...

(If you've seen this episode of Spongebob, you'll understand what I really mean)
(It'll probably go up in the middle of the night.)

To tide you over, here's another low-quality photo I took of my computer screen with my cell phone. Because I'm apparently too lazy for screenshots.


Here's a preview of a little something I'm working on for you. It'll probably go up tomorrow.

What's this? Primitive sketches within well-defined panels? It can't be... It is! A comic strip in its early stages!

Not Photoshop- ArtRage. But still cool, I think, and so far, I haven't messed up my layers. It probably won't be colored, but that just means you'll get to see it sooner.

Isn't this exciting? I'm excited. I haven't done a cartoon in a long time. I'm practically shivering with antici

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy 77th Birthday, Krispy Kreme!

Today was Krispy Kreme's 77th birthday. To celebrate, they offered this deal: Buy one dozen doughnuts and get the second dozen for 77 cents.

The line and drive-through at the Richmond Krispy Kreme wrapped around the building all day.

We went at 10 P.M. in the hopes that the line would be shorter, but there was no such luck. We waited in line for about an hour and a half to get our massively discounted doughnuts. It was okay; I got free samples of two different doughnut holes and a citrus-y slushy drink.

To pass the time, I took pictures of the doughnuts at each stage visible from the big window.

We dubbed this the "doughnut elevator." All the dough is arranged on this conveyor belt, snaking around, some shelves going up, some going down.

The conveyor belt eventually dumped the dough into a fryer...

...and then a part of the machine flipped the floating doughnuts over so they'd fry on the other side, too.

Then, with the grease dripping down through the slats, the doughnuts passed under a heavenly waterfall of glaze. Krispy Kreme employees hooked the glazed doughnuts out with a plastic stick and packed them into boxes by the dozen.

And that's how my doughnuts got into these boxes.

Mmmmmmmmmm. Happy Birthday, Krispy Kreme! Here's to another 77 years of deliciousness!

NO, I haven't eaten them all already. I've only eaten two.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Too Many Things

This summer, I'm interning with Virginia Living Magazine. But I'll be honest: I only work there two days a week. If you've been wondering what I do the other five days, here's a picture:

1. Microsoft Word document
I'm working on a story! I'd like to make it something I could release periodically in small parts, but it's taking me a while to get off the ground. I'm going to write a few chapters to make sure I have my head on straight. We'll see where it goes from there.

2. Photoshop Elements 12 window
I've been trying to learn a few Photoshop tricks. I have the software. It'd be nice if I could do more than just use the brush tool. I've actually been poking around in tutorials online. So far, I've only done one, but there are a few others I'd like to try. It's just a little disheartening when I attempt something and it looks nothing like the tutorial. Wouldn't it be nice if I could just download Photoshop skills into my brain? Ah, but then it wouldn't mean anything to me...

3. YouTube window
Okay, yeah, I kind of watch YouTube all the time. Way more than I should, in fact. But sometimes it's helpful for research. Today, for example, I looked up violin and guitar duets to see if they're actually a thing. It turns out they are, and they can be quite nice. That's a detail I needed for some character development. I'm also watching a Let's Play/walkthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Because I'll never actually play it.

Another video site I frequent is, home of the Nostalgia Critic and all his friends. I really enjoy listening to other people analyze movies. It helps me look at old favorites from different angles, and it's really informative on how not to tell a story.

4. Water bottle
I've been drinking a TON of water ever since I arrived in Richmond. I'm just always thirsty. My personal theory is that we only eat multigrain, super-fibery food in this house and it makes me thirstier than usual.

5. Bamboo tablet
Mostly connected with the Photoshop business

6. Game Boy Advance
I wasn't super interested in the Nintendo DS when it came out, and now I'm too cheap to buy a 3DS, so I'm still playing on the Game Boy Advance I got for my tenth birthday. I've had it for over 11 years. I haven't had this particular game pak for that long, though. It's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, with the Four Swords game included. I actually bought it used from Amazon right before I left for Richmond. 

Since I've been interested in the Legend of Zelda franchise lately, I really wanted to try playing one of the games. Thanks to my aforementioned cheapness, my options were limited to Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Wii games.

If you know the Zelda franchise, you might be saying something along the lines of, "Wait, what?! Why didn't you buy Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword? They're great games, and they're much more recent than A Link to the Past!"

Because my brief moments with the Wii are few and far between. I don't have it with me in Virginia. My hopes are not high for being able to take it to school with me in the fall. It was a family Christmas present one year, although I'm the only one who still uses it. Now that both my sister and I will be at school, maybe I'll be allowed to take it along? I mean, we have it. Somebody should use it. I'd really love to play Twilight Princess. And Skyward Sword, even though I've already watched the whole thing online. But I have to beat A Link to the Past, first, and it's a lot harder than you'd think it would be. Puzzles, man.

7. Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job
It's been a while since I've read a book that wasn't assigned to me by a professor. This one is pretty interesting so far! My aunt recommended it to me. So far, I find it funny and intriguing, even though it's about death. Can't wait to dig more into it. My aunt had a graphic novel that Christopher Moore wrote, which I also read, which was called The Griff. I wasn't so enthused about that one. The idea was solid and really very interesting, but the pacing was off. It was adapted from a screenplay version that Moore had written earlier, and you can really tell. The panels flash by and whip back and forth from location to location just like scenes in a movie might, but while that kind of pacing works for a movie, it's just too fast for a medium that tells its story in just a few panels. Moore seems much more at home writing a book, and I am definitely hooked. I just need to hurry up and finish it before it's time to leave.

8. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen
A lot of friends have recommended this comic/graphic novel to me, so I thought I might as well read it. The guy at the comic book store had only good things to say about it, although he wanted to make it clear to me that the book was much better than the movie. I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard plenty of awful things about it. I haven't gotten too far into the book yet, but I'm really intrigued by it. The guy at the comic book shop said it best when he described it as "a deconstruction of superheroes." It's really a different look at superheroes, different from any of the bright and shining or dark and gritty figures you'll see beaming up at you from your usual Marvel and DC comic books.

9. Notebook, pencil, and marker pens
I bought the notebook in a pack of three at Target, just because I wanted something to write and doodle on. I bought those pens specifically because the editor at the magazine I intern with uses that kind. Hers is red and full of frightening power, though. I doodle, both for the sheer joy of putting ink on a piece of paper and in an attempt to learn to draw better. I've been using a few online tutorials for that, as well.

So that's what I do with my other five days of the week. I also go for long walks (and occasional runs), watch movies, cook and buy food, hang out with various friends, and sleep. I sleep a lot. Well, I don't really sleep a lot, but the specific hours I choose to sleep sometimes make it seem like I sleep a lot.

I do a lot of things. I'm engaged in so many different things that it's taking me forever to do any single one of them. I do one thing for a while, then I put it down and do some other things, and then a week or two later, I finally get back to the first thing. Too many things. I am spread too thin. But I'm really happy that I'm getting a chance to do some of the things that I don't get a chance to do during the school year, like reading a book for fun and playing video games. Vive summer!

Monday, July 7, 2014

From the Desk of Agent Wilbur

To: FuegoOfTheSpots@dogs.woof
From: AgentW@aaf.cats

Subject: Results of Continued Training of Human Subject

Mr. Fuego,

I have reviewed the data you've sent me concerning the "morning training" of the young human that lives with you. It's a worthy cause, and I've found your results most fascinating. But have you ever considered other training methods?

From what I've seen, you've been using a type of operant conditioning-- negative reinforcement. In terms a dog could understand, you remove the annoying sound of your growling when the human does what you want, therefore encouraging her to behave the way you want her to in the future.

I know you wanted me to continue this type of training while she was in my territory so that you wouldn't have to re-train her when she got back to your house, but I found I was much too tempted to experiment.

It has been my experience that dogs, being quite loyal to their human caretakers, tend to keep the same diurnal hours that humans keep. Within the agency, however, we cats exploit the night and the humans' absence to carry out our secret missions and projects.

My theory was this: If an animal were to keep the human awake all night, then the human would be awake and available to serve the animal in the morning, removing the usual bother of having to wake the human up.

My experiment began shortly after your owner and her young human companion arrived in my zone of jurisdiction. Using all the skills I've learned from my many years at the agency, I stared into her eyes and read the story of her past. I found an interesting incident with one of my brethren, a cat who had stayed at her home once and frightened her by creeping about in the night. Although the young human seemed bothered by the way I stared intently at her, I achieved my goal of finding her weakness: an irrational paranoia toward cats at nighttime.

Later on, while she was preparing for bed, I slipped into her bedroom and hid under her bed. I waited until she returned to the room, and, when she least expected it, I slipped out from under the bed and touched her with my nose.

The frightened sound she made was amusing to say the least, but I will attempt to keep my observations objective.

With that one moment of panic, I introduced her to the fact that I can be anywhere in this house at any time without making my presence known. As a feline agent, I possess the greatest stealth skills, but I didn't even have to use them after I performed my little trick. Every shadow was me sneaking around a corner. Every noise was my footstep under her bed. What glorious paranoia I caused that night.

However, that mere paranoia was insufficient to keep her awake all night, especially after she searched every corner of the room and determined that I was not there (although if I had wanted to be there, I could have done so without being seen). I had a bit of help from the weather in keeping her awake, but when the weather calmed down, she actually managed to fall asleep, and then was the time for action.

I took a leaf from your book and meowed rather loudly outside her bedroom door, hoping that eventually she would open the door and let me in. I even pawed and clawed at the carpet. I could tell from the sound of her breathing that she was awake.

I'll give her this much: she put up a good fight. It was several hours of meowing and general racket until she opened the door and admitted me. By then, the sun had begun to rise, and I suspect she despaired of falling asleep before the morning arrived in full. However, I was not willing to take any chances and botch the experiment, so I busied myself with wandering around the room and jumping on the furniture.

I also jumped on her legs and stomach. She mostly rolled over and tried to ignore me, but by the time the morning came, she had resigned herself to entertaining me by moving her foot back and forth under the blanket for me to pounce upon.

She even petted me when I granted her a brief respite and settled down on her stomach. You were right, Mr. Fuego, she is very good at petting cats and dogs.

In the end, it was my usual wait staff who served me breakfast, but when breakfast time came, the young human was awake, alert, and capable of doing it herself.

I hope this experiment has proved useful to you. Best of luck in training the young human. I honestly think you have your hands full with this one. She's even worse than the youngest human on my wait staff. I will continue to investigate the odd sleeping patterns of humans once they reach their adolescent years. Hopefully I will unearth some answers.

If you require the agency's assistance again (and let's face it, you're a dog, so we all know you will), I implore you to ask.

Agent Wilbur
Agency of American Felines
Virginia Beach Division

The information in this email is highly confidential and should not be shared with others besides the intended recipient. If you received this email in error, delete it immediately or we will find you.

Happy Independence Day from the Beach and Zoo!

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, everybody!!!! Happy Independence Day!


Have you seen those Buzzfeed posts with all the obnoxious America stuff? I find them hilarious. A little facepalm-inducing, but on the occasion of my country's birthday, I find it all quite funny.

I went to Virginia Beach for the weekend with my aunt. We stayed with her boyfriend and his daughter. It was fun. They have a big, comfy house, and the guest bed was super comfy as well. The first night, I bonded with my aunt's boyfriend's daughter over MarioKart. It's always more fun to play with another person. It was just a lovely night.

Well, I mean, there was that whole Hurricane Arthur thing that happened. That was a little frightening. But Virginia Beach didn't get hit too hard. There wasn't much damage from the hurricane.

But you know what did happen? A tornado warning.


It happened in the middle of the night- 1 A.M., 1:30, 2... somewhere in there. My iPhone started beeping at me. I had mentally prepared myself for the sound, since the storm was picking up steam, but I had expected to see something about a hurricane on the screen when I rolled out of bed and checked my phone.

Nope. It was tornado time.

So I went into tornado mode. I stuck my contacts in and went downstairs to watch the news and determine if the tornado was going to be a threat. I determined the safest place in the house to hide from the tornado. I fretted and fretted over whether I should wake anyone else up.

Nobody else got up when their iPhone started beeping. I was apparently the only one who was worried. And, you know, it was all fine anyway. By the time I figured out how to work the TV (it's never as simple as pushing the POWER button these days), the storm had moved out of Virginia Beach and into Norfolk. I stayed up until the tornado warning got knocked back down to a tornado watch.

And then the entire next day, I felt exhausted and foolish. Because I was the only one who was worried about the tornado warning.

But... it was a TORNADO WARNING. Where I come from, YOU DON'T MESS AROUND WHEN THERE'S A TORNADO WARNING. If there's a tornado warning, it means either A TORNADO'S ABOUT TO HAPPEN or there's ALREADY A TORNADO ON THE GROUND AND IT'S COMING TO GET YOU!!!!! Sure, most of the time the tornado doesn't actually come to get you, BUT YOU STILL DON'T MESS AROUND WHEN THERE'S A FREAKIN' TORNADO WARNING!!!!!!

I'm almost done complaining and ranting.

When I finally got to bed, the wind kept me up for a long time.

And then when the wind stopped being loud and annoying, the cat started.

And that was why I was so exhausted the next day.

Now I'm done complaining and ranting.

The next day was the Fourth of July! And it was glorious!

We all slept in a little bit, and then we had a few rounds of "What do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do?" and then we went to the zoo.

The zoo has lovely taste in decorations. A bunch of the animals were inside or hiding or sleeping, but it was still really fun to see the critters that were out and about.

They just thought they otter be patriotic.

How about a tall one to celebrate our fine country?

An elephant nose how to enjoy a national holiday.

This guy was so patriotic, and I'm not lion.

'Ears a spirited celebrator!

This guy and his family celebrated in a very patriotic manor.

I would try to make a pun, but you just don't get any more American than a bison.

The Fourth of July is very near and deer to this little guy's heart.

This guy really made a big skink over the holiday.

These guys wouldn't let other countries get their goat today. 'MERICA.

I bought a red panda toy because it was cute. I didn't actually see any red pandas today, though, and that was disappointing, but now I have one to take home with me! His name is Pabu.

After the zoo, we went to dinner. There were yummy garlic fries involved.

The next day, we went to the beach! And it was so much fun! I'd forgotten how much fun it is to swim in the ocean.

I did get a little sunburn on my back and shoulders, though. Not too bad, although the redness intensifies in those spots where my arms were apparently too short to reach.

I have a birthmark on my back, and it's kind of hard to see, except when my back is sunburned and it sticks out like it's screaming, "HEY, LOOK AT ME! I'M A BIG, WHITE SPOT!!!"

I'm kind of just in a continuous state of laughter over my sunburn.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Photoshop is Hard

Last Christmas, Santa Claus brought me Photoshop Elements 12 and I was so very excited. But for the next six months, I only used the brush tool to draw little cartoons, and that's an awfully huge waste of some expensive software.

I mean, an awfully huge waste of software that Santa's elves worked so hard to make.

So today I sat down to do two projects:

1. Write the rough draft of a chapter of a story I've been planning
2. Learn how to make photos look like cartoons using Photoshop

Only one of those things got done today.

I don't know if there's an easier way to make photographs look cartoony, but this is the tutorial I used:

The goal was to make this photo

look like this:

And here was what I managed to do:

I guess for a first try it isn't awful... My apologies, Rihanna, for making you look weird.

One thing that was frustrating was that the author of the tutorial was using Photoshop while I was using Photoshop elements, so some of the buttons are in different places and the pen tool was not available to me. But I discovered the existence of actual Photoshop Elements tutorials while I was searching for solutions to my many problems, so next time I'll just use one of those and make it easier on myself.

I thought this wouldn't take very long. Remove color, change the contrast, slap a filter on there, done. No, this took a very long time. A very. long. time.

The picture might have come out neater if I'd been using my Bamboo tablet. Since I didn't think this would take very long, I didn't grab it from my room. Now I kinda wish I had.

I'm pretty impressed by the lighting and shading capabilities that Photoshop has to offer, though. Regardless of my skill (or lack thereof) at using them, they're pretty dang cool.

So maybe now I'll try to write something. See if my brain doesn't explode.