November 28, 2012

Illustrated Tweet Collage

I created a new header for my Twitter profile page using a bunch of the images from my the Illustrated Tweets drawings I've done. I hadn't realized until now just how many of those little cartoons I've accumulated!

Unfortunately, the profile space is too small to let you really see the whole thing well, so I've posted it here in all its glory. Click on it to see the full-size image.

November 21, 2012

Illustrated Tweets: @snookca

A whole weekend to myself coming up. Kinda not sure what to do with myself.

November 20, 2012

Trigger Topics at the Dinner Table

Thanksgiving will be here in two days, a day when millions of Americans sit down to dinner with their extended families. Some gatherings will be amiable, some will not.

In an effort to make dinner table conversation more pleasant, I thought it would be useful to think of a couple topics that are triggers for rants or arguments. If I know ahead of time what my trigger topics are, so if the conversation goes in that direction I can either reroute it or step away. Even better, if I share these topics with a couple of family members, they can avoid those subjects as well. And if I know their trigger topics, I can do the same for them.

Conventional wisdom says that you should avoid talking about politics and religion, but those two topics, in general, don't provoke me. The subjects that make me go off on a ranting tangent or expound embarrassingly from my limited knowledge are not what you'd expect.

The topics below are ones I know I tend to either go on and on about at length or else start arguments about. For pleasant holiday dinner conversation, it's best to avoid them. I'll save these for the wine-fueled late-night debates after the kids are in bed.

My Trigger Topics

  1. Transportation infrastructure
  2. Ronald Reagan
  3. Economics
What are some topics that you (or your relatives) should avoid? Current events, or that one family story your mom likes to tell? Post yours in the comments.

November 15, 2012

Digital collage: Terry Krishna Become Destroyer of Compassion

A few days after I lamented that I couldn't find a scary person for my October photo collage, I found one on the editorial page of The State. The letter was a response to this piece by Leonard Pitts. The woman who wrote it showed a shocking lack of compassion for the abused woman in Pitts' column, saying that, regardless of the circumstances, anyone who broke the law for any reason ought to be treated as a criminal, pure and simple. No mitigating circumstances, like coercion or fear for one's life, ought to be considered. The letter writer's name was Terry N., and apparently I didn't save a link to her letter. I can't find it in The State's archives, either. This is all to the good, I think, as I'm not trying to vilify this particular person, but rather use her as an example of an attitude endemic in America today.

Upon deciding that she would be the subject for my October collage, I went online and searched for her on Facebook. Her last name is fairly unique and I immediately found her page. (Ironically, one of the causes she listed was anti-bullying because her daughter had been bullied in school.) Lots of pictures of her family and friends, but there was only one picture of her: a small, black-and-white photo of her face. A Google search turned up the same photo in a profile on another site.

Without much to go on, I decided I needed to add to the theme of the photo. Along the same lines as Jack Valenti-Cthulhu, Karl Rove-Puppetmaster, I decided to do Terry N.-Destroyer of Compassion. I was inspired by the quote from the Baghavad Gita, made famous by J. Robert Oppenheimer, "I am become death, destroyer of worlds." In the Baghavad Gita, this phrase is spoken by Krishna. So I went to Flickr and did a search for Creative Commons-licensed photos using the word "Krishna."

Unfortunately for my purposes, most of the pictures showed Happy Nice Krishna surrounded by his happy, celebrating followers. I had to dig a bit to find anything that looked even remotely threatening or scary (I suppose if you have terrible allergies piles of flowers might be scary). I ended up using a photo of a statue of Krishna fighting snakes taken by abrinksy, a photo of a tapestry by dabera, a picture of a Hare Krishna praying and another picture of one of their festivals by Klaveius. To these, I worked in tiny bits and pieces of Terry N.'s profile photo.

So I created a sort of anti-Krishna not defeating the snake Kaliya, but joining forces with him. I personally think the scariest part of this picture is the cobra with the red human eye.

Click to see large version

Here's a side-by-side comparison of original Nice Krishna and Photoshopped Mean Krishna:

November 13, 2012

Illustrated Tweets: @amyhoy, @Greeblemonkey

Selected tweets from people I follow, taken out of context.

I'm experimenting with including a watermark on these drawings to make sharing easier. Since the CC license I use requires attribution, I thought it made since to include the attribution in the image so anyone who wants to re-use it doesn't have to look up where it came from.

arm's almost better -- hooray!!

Usually I feature tweets from the day of the post, or at most the previous day. But the one below, from last week, never got posted when I drew it so I decided to include it today. I hope Aimee is feeling better now.

How many times can your fever break during the flu before you gain magical powers?

November 9, 2012

Inspired by the Best and the Worst

photo by Jason Michael
I started reading Brandon Sanderson's new novella, The Emperor's Soul, today. I'm only a few pages in, but already I'm inspired. What if the little signature stamps that the Japanese and Chinese put on everything had magical properties? From that simple premise, Sanderson has built a rich fantasy world, a complete magic system, and a compelling story.

Stories like this make me start looking at the world in a new way. Ideas start fermenting in my head and I can't wait to write them down. This is what the best books and the best authors can do.

However, I am also inspired by the worst books I've read. One I often think back on is James Patterson's Kiss the Girls. It was so terrible that I threw it away after finishing it (Of course I finished it! It was a mystery and I had to know whodunit.). I couldn't in good conscience inflict that book on anyone else by giving it away. His debut novel was a steaming pile of poorly-edited crap, and yet it got made into a big-budget movie and Patterson remains one of the best-selling authors of our time. I don't know whether the rest of his books are any good because I've never been able to bring myself to read one, but if he can start out that badly and end up where he is, there's hope for me, too.