But what do I know? I'm just a twice clicken brown shirt teabaggin tjroll. Right? --PatP

Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that. --Thor

If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Thursday, December 30, 2010

my awesome hair

So I frequent Kongregate. I have, on occasion, had reason to post links to this blog in chat there. I don’t remember what the reason was, but a week or two ago I posted links to my self-portraits and my photoshop post. Whatever. “Nice pics” seemed to be the catch-phrase of the day.

Here we are, at least a week later, and I’m chatting again on Kongregate. Some guy questions my grammar (not what I said, but how I said it). So I politely said “don’t f*** with me. I’m an English teacher.”

A lie, yes. But I always feel justified in it, and not just because it shuts most people up faster than saying I’m a Jehovah’s Witness.

Getting back to the story: So somebody else says “Thor has awesome hair tho...have you looked at his blog???”

That was the most gloriously gratifying moment of my life. Ever.

I suppose I will be more gloriously gratified when my teenage son looks at these photos (if fifteen or so years, when I have a teenage son) and says “damn dad. You even had great hair back then,” but until then I find it hard to believe that anything will come close.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photoshop Assignments

I just sent off the last of my photoshop assignments for the semester, and thought I would share with you some of the fun ones.

Here’s a photo of the hallway on the third floor of the Graphic Arts building.


See that second window? Watch this.

vanishing point

That was a lot more fun than it looked. Here’s my after-action report (handed in with the finished product five minutes ago).

First, I opened the hallway photo in lightroom (if you don’t know what Adobe Lightroom is, you owe it to yourself to find out) to adjust the lighting. I could have used photoshop's camera raw dialogue, but the lightroom interface is much more user-friendly.

Once I was satisfied with the levels, I opened the image in Photoshop and created a vanishing point grid, using the corner between the wall and the floor, as well as the corner of the wall and the ceiling for reference. I then used a combination of the patch tool, heal brush and spot heal to brick up the window.

Next I did a google image search for "framed Mona Lisa." I found a high-resolution image, which I then pasted onto the vanishing point grid. I shrank it a little, but I don't know how big the Mona Lisa actually is, so I made it look as big as a painting.

Once I had the painting positioned on the wall, I used the "fx" button on the layers panel to add a drop shadow. Finally, I used the curves dialogue to adjust the light on the painting. It still looked a little unnatural, so I used the brush tool at an opacity of 40 and a color of 64 grey (in darken mode) and went over the entire painting once.

Since there are undoubtedly those of you who don’t know what a “vanishing point grid” is, here’s the one I made for this project

vanishing point

It’s a grid that not only serves as a guide for you, but also tells photoshop how to render things like… paintings that you just pasted into the image. So instead of this project taking five hours of mind-numbing skewing and transformations, it took about five minutes to setup the grid, roughly nine seconds to add the shadow, and two or three minutes to get the lighting just right on the painting.

Next: Here’s a photo that I’m not in.


I know what you’re thinking. “Andy, you’re standing right there, just left of center. I know it’s you because your hair looks awesome.” And you’re somewhat correct. My hair is awesome. But I’m not really in this photo. The professor took a photo in the computer lab. He got up on a ladder with a camera and put a flash in the corner (or maybe he opened a window. I’m not sure because I wasn’t there). Then he took a photo of me in the portrait studio, on the same ladder with the same lighting. Then he gave me both photos and said “do.”

So here’s what I did:

I first made a selection using the quick mask method. I then copied myself from the photo in the studio into the photo of the computer lab. I immediately realized that my selection had not been good enough, so I used a layer mask to clean it up. I attempted to use gradients and fuzzy brushes to mask my hair, but success eluded me. So I gave myself a digital haircut. I removed enough hair to make masking reasonable, but left enough to allow it to still look a bit unkempt (nobody would believe a photo of me, on a school day, with great hair).

Next, I had to shrink myself. I used what I could see of other people in the shot to judge how large I should be (mostly the hand of the woman sitting at the right edge of the frame). Once I had shrunk myself and cleaned up the layer, I duplicated it. Next I made a selection on the new layer using the easy-selection tool (I think that's what it was called. It's the one on the same button as the magic wand). Having made a selection, I filled it with black.

I then skewed the black selection to the right by grabbing the top-center handle. I used the shadow of the monitor on the left side of the frame to judge the direction my shadow should fall. Once that was done, I added a gaussian blur, layer mask and a gradient. Then I had to throw away my shadow because I had forgotten to fix its feet and had ended my photoshop session.

Once I had my shadow correctly positioned again, I used a black brush to connect my shadow to my feet and generally reshape it a bit to make it look natural. Next, I added a (hefty) gaussian blur to the shadow. I then duplicated the shadow layer and added an even heavier blur to the new layer. Finally, I added a layer mask to the original shadow and applied a linear gradient to it to make it blend with the second shadow layer.

That was hella fun. The most awful part was my hair. Here’s the photo I started with, and the same photo with my quick mask.

nomask  layer mask

Zoom in on one of those and see how horrible my hair was that day. Had I known it was picture day, I would have worn a hat. Or gelled my hair back. Or something. Giving myself a digital haircut was educational and wortwhile, but man it was a bitch.

Next is depth of field. The assignment was to create depth of field where there was once none. So I had to take a photo with my aperture closed as tight as it would go and still get decent exposure. I just happened to have my Rebel with me that day, so I walked around campus and took some long shots with stuff in them. here’s the photo I started with:


I made this one a bit bigger, so you can see clearly that you can see everything clearly. Here’s my report:

I first created a new layer on top of the background and named it “sharp.” I then painted that layer white, beginning with the lamppost most in the foreground. I then expanded my sharp mask to include a wide area surrounding the lamppost and extending it across the photo.

Next, I added a new layer and named it “128.” I painted this layer at 128 grey. I included the tree nearest the camera and the area surrounding the sharp layer. My next layer was painted at 64 and included the first tree back from the lamppost, as well as the next closest lamppost. The next layer was painted at 32 and included the next two trees. The final layer I filled with black.

The black layer was on the bottom, with the white “sharp” layer on top. I applied a mild gaussian blur to every layer beneath the white layer, with the exception of the background. There were a couple of holes, so I painted them the color of the layer under them using the brush tool.

Next, I merged all of my greyscale layers and copied the new mask layer to a new channel (alpha 1). returning to layer view, I hid the mask layer, showing only the background.

Finally, I added a lens blur to the image, using Alpha 1 as my source. I cranked the focal distance to 255 and adjusted the radius until I thought the transitions between focus areas looked natural.

It was at this point that I noticed my sharp lamppost had sharp points sticking out of it. So I canceled the lens blur and deleted alpha 1. I edited my merged mask layer with the brush tool and smoothed out the globe of the lamppost. I then copied the layer to alpha 1 again and re-applied the lens blur.

And here’s my final product:

depth of field

And here’s the mask layer that I drew by hand (three hours’ work), then converted to a color channel to create a variable lens blur.

mask channel

That was fun, but damn was it time-consuming. The trees especially took a long time. Then I blurred most of them out of existence before I applied this mask. But overall I think it was worth detailing every single twig (until I got bored). So the white area is the part to which I added no blur at all. The black area received the heaviest blur, and the three grey areas got blurred differently depending on how dark a grey I used (128, 64 and 32, if anyone cares).

This was one of the early projects. It took several weeks, but I really learned a lot from it. So here it is. First, the photo I was given. I show you this one at full size because a lot of work went into it and I want you to see everything.


Here’s my finished product:

DAD-SON with sky copy

This one is not quite perfect in certain spots, and that’s somewhat intentional. This project was handed in as a 300 dpi print, which isn’t high enough resolution for the line between the sky and the horizon to even be printed on a 4x6. Long story short, I removed the stain, repaired the rips, cleaned up the mold, squared the edges of the photo, re-colore the borders and drew the sky. Granted, the sky is a bit much. But I have the 64-bit edition of photoshop demo and the Mac-tards at school only have the 32-bit edition. So I flaunt it whenever I can. In this story, by rendering a light source (the sun) in the sky.

My professor agreed that it was going to far, but gave me points (actual grade points, not just kudos) for taking a risk and trying something that would be either disastrous or awesome.

There was one other assignment, but it was basically the same thing as the one where I put myself in the photo. And I didn’t do as well on it, so I won’t show it to you (at least not right now).

So… Enjoy. Next post I write will be my abbreviated album from Arizona. I say abbreviated because over the course of the week I took almost 5000 photos. You’ll be getting the best… uh… fifty. maybe fifty. I dunno. The slideshow I showed everybody at Thanksgiving was a hundred I think. Maybe I’ll just upload that. We’ll see. Stay classy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My first graph

I whipped this up over on Create-a-Graph. It seems certain people are in need of a reminder of the facts.


And here’s the compliment:

graph (1)

Something must be working.

Truths For Mature Humans

So Paul C just shared this list. You know my favorite thing to do with lists, don’t you? That’s right. I like to dissect them and provide my own commentary. So here we go.


1. Totally agree. In addition, it is part of a best friend’s job to know my porn hiding place (both on my computer and in my closet). In the event of my untimely death, it is his responsibility to go to my house and remove all of my porn. I don’t need my mom or my kids knowing that I have porn. That being said, my mom reads my blog. Merry early Christmas Mommy.

2. Agreed. That’s why I live by a rule inspired by Sun Tzu (the Art of War): “A successful army wins, then goes to war. An unsuccessful army goes to war, then seeks to win.” English translation: don’t start a fight you haven’t already won. Don’t get into an argument about something you don’t know you’re right about. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t get into an argument about it. Long story short: true, but if you let that happen it’s because you’re a bad general.

3. Nope. Disagree. Little kids don’t need naps nearly as badly as old people do. Yes, kids sometimes need naps. I bet. It’s a universal truth that kids don’t like to do all the same things old people like to do. Kids don’t like taking walks outside. Old people wish they had taken more walks outside when they were kids. That’s just stupid. I don’t wish I’d taken more walks outside when I was a kid. I wish I took more walks outside NOW. I wish I could sleep more NOW. I expressly do not take back all the times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.


4. Oh. Is there? Do we need a sarcasm font? Do we really? Is it not enough to just assume everything on the internet is sarcastic? Or to actually use your mind-grapes once in a while to see through the obvious and determine whether or not something is sarcastic? Friends, there is a sarcasm font. It is called “Comic Sans.” Some of you may disagree, but the nature of this font’s reputation makes it the perfect candidate.

5. *sigh* You grab the sewn in corners and treat those as the corners of a rectangular sheet. This problem was solved before you ever pondered the question.

6. No. It was unnecessary when they made you do it twenty to thirty years ago, and it’s equally necessary now. There doesn’t need to be a uniform standard for “quick, sloppy writing.” Even when there is, it doesn’t matter because everybody just writes THOSE letters even quicker and sloppier, and you still can’t read it.

7. You know how MapQuest (you still use MapQuest? Really?) works, but you still give it your address as the starting location instead of your exit on the freeway. MapQuest (Srsly. Welcome to the 21st century. We use Google here) doesn’t need to be fixed. You need to figure out how to use it. How much do you pay the guy who ties your shoes every morning and brushes your teeth for you?

8. I agree. Obituaries aren’t for comforting people. They’re for entertainment. Really, what informative value is there in an obituary? Anybody that needs to know probably knows already that the person has died. And if they don’t, nobody wants to find out by reading the newspaper. Make obituaries more informative.

9. All I can say is: Wow. You’re old. I’m “not tired” all the time. Not so much during the week, but… Oh. Waitaminute. Nevermind.

10. It depends. Nobody wants to hear about the time I put my term paper off until the last minute and failed English. On the other hand, it’s also not a good story that I put off my term paper till the last minute and got an A. But I guess this is really about REALLY bad decisions. Like that time my buddy Pete and I dropped acid while we were on safari in Kenya. THAT adventure gave new meaning to the phrase “commune with the beast.”

11. Yup. happens. Happened to me at school the other day. I spent three hours pasting myself into a picture in Photoshop. Then I had to go to my InDesign lab. I hate InDesign. It is junk. It’s a toy. It’s desktop publishing for soccer moms, and it doesn’t even conform to the same standards as all the other Adobe products. So I started working on my assignment, finished it, started the next one, ejected my thumb drive, shut down InDesign, put all my stuff away, turned off the monitor and just stared at it for an hour and a half.


12. Yes. Do that. I’ll just have one more person to laugh at and call a troglodyte. If you’re okay with technology just stopping so you can save a little money every ten years, you can stop wasting the oxygen you’re stealing from the rest of us.

13. Okay… Then click “no” and shut up.

14. Yeah that’s fairly true. With the exception of suits. my suits get washed… twice a year. Even the raincoat I just bought for my Spike Halloween costume is machine-washable.

15. Srsly. So ya know what I do? When my phone rings, I look at who’s calling, decide whether I’m going to answer, then press the appropriate button on my phone. Honestly. Who still misses phone calls accidentally?

16. What kind of narcicist cares who sees them, as long as somebody does? Vanity knows no “important people.” I walk out of my house looking great every day, because I know SOMEBODY will see me. If watching Heroes has taught me anything, it’s thah you never know who will turn out to be “important” later.

17. I used to do that. Once again I say: “Welcome to the 21st century. We have Google.” Anybody I don’t want to talk to has their own separate voicemail message that says something similar to “stop f*&#ing calling me!”

18. I completely agree. That’s racist. Tall people need to see in the cold too.


19. I bet more kisses begin with Rohipnol.

20. Yeah. I must concur with my esteemed internet colleague. I guess. On the other hand, I don’t really get nervous driving through anywhere. I wish Google maps had an option for “don’t show me any search results in a ghetto.”

21. Two words: Battlestar Galactica. Two more words: the Last Unicorn.

22. Get a radio flyer.

23. Um. Okay. Nobody likes red lights, and everybody knows this. What are you trying to say here?

24. O. M. G. Sooooooooooooo true. I almost can’t watch TV without a snack or a laptop.

25. I believe it appropriate to say “what?” once before you switch to “get the dick out of your mouth.” If somebody is that hard to understand, they need to be shamed into speaking properly. If they have a physical handicap, you instead say “I’m sorry. I’m having a really hard time understanding you. Could you talk a little slower?” If you’re in a loud place, “smile and nod” is appropriate. On the other hand, why aren’t you wearing earplugs? Then you’d be able to hear the person just fine.



26. I’ve never had that happen. My philosophy in any driving situation is “I let one guy in.” If two lanes are merging down to one, I get over two miles in advance when the start putting up signs that say “lane closed: 2 miles.” So all those people who keep zooming down the lane that’s closing: one of you is getting in front of me, then I’m clamping my teeth on his bumper and not letting go until the lane opens up again.

27. That is a fallacy. Pants don’t get dirty the same way shirts do. Shirts get dirty after being worn once. Pants get dirty when they’re dirty. Just to be safe, I change pants every Saturday, whether they’re dirty or not.

28. It’s just you. Do you think three-year-olds get dumber every year too? The thing about high school kids is: they’re the same age every year. they just don’t get any smarter.

29. I actually LOVE that feeling and try to duplicate it after it happens by accident. It never works.

30. I hate bicyclists that don’t know the rules. You’re not a pedestrian: get off the f*&#ing sidewalk. You drive in the road. You signal your turns, and you observe the traffic lights. I don’t move over on the sidewalk for bikes. Well, I do in Springfield, but I hate myself for it.

31. I used to do that. Now I just don’t look at my watch unless I care what time it is. That way I remember.

32. No on all counts. I always have trouble snoozing my alarm clock. And mine doesn’t even have a button. It’s the kind you just tip over to snooze.

So… that was fun for me. Was it good for you too?

Friday, November 19, 2010

First Trip to the Product Studio

So today was my first time in the college’s product studio. That’s the smallest of the three studios, used mainly for product shots. The assignment was to shoot two different pieces of glassware and get both white-line and black-line shots. I had a lot of fun using the Canon EOS Utility to shoot from the computer so I didn’t have to touch the camera for those long exposures (took one at three seconds).

During the demo, when he was showing us all how to shoot glass and offering suggestions as to how to setup the lighting, the professor told us that expensive glassware makes for better photos, and that very expensive crystal would yield the very best results. He said that when he had to shoot glassware at RIT 40 years ago, what he did was went to Macy’s and bought some. He brought it to the studio, took it out of the box, shot it, put it back in the box still in perfect condition, and returned it to the store.

I thought that was a fantastic idea. I’ve done similar things in the past, and planned to do just that. Kerry thought it was a good idea too. She just didn’t want to front the money. So I grabbed a Reidel stemless white wine glass and a Disaronno funny-shaped shot glass out of my liquor cabinet and shot those. I also brought a plain ol’ rocks glass, a rocks glass shaped like the shot glass (which you will see in a moment), and a bulb-shaped, cork-sealed bottle (like you would expect a mana potion to be in) I bought at Michael’s two weeks ago for this express purpose.

I was only scheduled for an hour in the studio, and figured for fifteen minutes to clean up (I didn’t plan to make a mess, but everything had to be put away before I left). And since I wanted to get both white lines and black lines (you’ll see what that means in a minute), I only had time to shoot the two pieces.

Those being the facts, I did show up about fifteen minutes early, and there was no one signed up for the slot before mine. So I got in a little early and had a few minutes to get acquainted with my new friend, the Canon EOS 30D, and his friend, the EF 24-85 mm lens.

I noticed a few differences between this setup and my Rebel. The most infuriating was the viewfinder. I don’t know if it’s the lens or the camera, but when I looked through it, everything was grainy, which made it something of a chore to focus properly. When I have problems focusing my Rebel, I use the autofocus to help me by holding the trigger halfway done and waiting for the red light to light up. That didn’t work here because of the lower lighting conditions I was working with in the studio. The other big difference is the power switch. I do not like the power switch on the D models. They have “off,” “on,” and “-.” I don’t know what “-” is for, but every time I wanted to turn the switch to “on,” I flipped it all the way past “on” to “-.” So that was mildly annoying. Also, the D series have an LCD display on top, whereas the Rebel uses the preview screen to display all the same data. I like that a lot, since it uses a lot less power to run that little LCD than it does to light up the whole preview screen.

First, let me explain the setup. I had two hospital tables (just like the ones they serve your lunch on) at the same height, about three feet apart, with a heavy slab of plate glass laying across them. Behind that was a big drape of white paper. behind the paper was a big triple-bulb light. with a reflector on the back and a diffuser on the front. The line you see in the background of these photos is the back edge of the plate glass. In a couple of them I hadn’t zoomed in quite far enough, so I had to crop out a little bit of the tables.


This is the first shot I took, and I think it turned out to be one of the best. The way I have the glass turned, it gives that pleasing curve to the reflection. The later shots either have a straight line across the glass, or the curve is pretty wonky. For this first shot, I had the light pretty far back from the paper barrier, so the lighting is pretty even.


For this shot, I moved the light much closer. Maybe four or five inches away from the paper, so there’s a pretty distinct halo. I should have also lowered the light, so that the center of the halo is right on the “horizon,” but this shot still came out pretty well.


For this shot, there was a big piece of black construction paper taped to a light stand. So I put it between the white paper backdrop and the subject to get this nice “white” line effect. The blue tint here is the way every single shot turned out today. I have no idea why that is. The room didn’t look blue, there was no filter on either the lens or the light. For most shots, I just fixed the white balance… Shit. That’s what it was. I didn’t check the white balance on the camera before I started shooting. Somebody was probably playing with the white balance, or was shooting under fluorescent lighting, or some other such thing, and just didn’t reset the white balance to auto. Damn. Oh well. Mystery solved. Now I know to check that in the future.

Anywho… For this shot, I left it blue because it gives the nifty impression that the shot glass is carved out of ice.


Like I said, I wanted to get white and black line shots of each glass. So here’s my white line (or “dark field”) shot of the wine glass. Clearly visible in this shot are the reflections of every damn thing in the studio.On the left is the computer screen, and on the right… a roll of brown paper towel standing next to a red and white bottle of glass cleaner. I really should have paid closer attention to this early on. I did eventually discover that this was happening, but I had apparently already used up my quota of good shots for the day. This is the only shot that photoshop has never touched. In the other shots, the glassware was dirty, or the plate glass “tabletop” was dusty (the first thing I did once I got the tables setup was wipe down the plate glass), and that had to be fixed (using the spot heal brush and the patch tool). I tried taking the computer screen off the glass in this shot, but it just made the reflections in the right side look more pronounced.


I started cleaning up, got all my gear packed up (the glassware, my memory card, etc: all MY stuff), then decided to get one last shot. So I plopped my Kindle (gently) down on the glass, turned the camera back on, focused on the leading edge, and snapped it. Just for fun. I might go back and take out the “horizon” line in this one.

So that’s my first venture into the product studio. If I can manage to get in there again before this assignment is due (highly unlikely), I’ll reshoot the dark-field wine glass, but I’ll remember to clear the tables and turn off the monitor when I click the shutter. Next week, it’ll be portraits in the mixed-use studio. I probably won’t get those up here until after Thanksgiving. But I might. We’ll see. Seacrest out.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tea Nazi Rant.

Coat of Arms of the NSDAP and "Deutsches ...

Image via Wikipedia

This is a rant. It is a rant about republicans and religion in general. It’s pretty heavy at the end. If you’re not in the mood to be depressed and/or pissed off, don’t read it. You have been warned.

Saying you believe in separation of church and state doesn’t make it okay to try and get the government involved in religion. Either the government can legislate religious issues or it can’t. Marriage is an institution of religion. If you think the government should be allowed to say anything about it, you don’t believe in separation of church and state. The end.

It’s okay to not want church and state to be separate. They’ve got religious government all over the middle east. Just look how happy everyone is. There’s no drinking, no gambling, no singing in public, no women without hats, no pornography and (best of all) NO FAGS!! Sounds like paradise to me. Christianity was a driving political force throughout the middle ages. Science was illegal and everybody was just so damn happy.That’s why there were so many crusades. People were just so happy and so excited to share the love of Christ that they went to the middle east and killed people (people who worshipped they same God they did) for worshipping a different God than they did.

The structure of the American government is based around the idea that religion and government in the same building is a bad idea. Don’t you dare say America was founded on Christian morals, or I’ll put you in jail for coveting your neighbor’s ass (the Old Testament will stop counting when you take it out of the “holy book.” But that’s a whole other topic).

But this is all ancillary to the big picture. The religious, conservative republican party is the same beast that every Christian political force before it has been: rich people trying to get richer by saying the right things to maintain their power base. That’s what religion is. Religion isn’t about God, and it’s not about salvation. Those are just the tools it most often uses to keep people under its thumb. It’s about money and it’s about power. I think no one understood the power of religion better than L. Ron Hubbard, who said: “I don’t want to make money writing science fiction. If I wanted to make money, I’d start a religion.”

One person doesn’t have a religion. One person has faith, and there’s nothing evil or insidious about that. There’s nothing wrong with believing in Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha (etc.), or even Xenu. Religion is a corporate stupidity. Religion is saying “I believe what you tell me because you’re smarter than me. Anybody who disagrees with you is wrong because I believe what you tell me.”

Here’s what I’m talking about: There are actual Christians out there who honestly believe that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself. You cannot have read very much of the Bible and still believe that. In one bit, God says “don’t kill anybody.” In another bit not too far away from that, God says “go over there and kill everybody. Yes, even the women and children.” He even sends an angel (or at least, a guy from out of town. And I’m not being glib: it’s genuinely unclear) to lead the charge. That’s just my favorite example. There are others as well.

“But the Bible is the word of God, so it can’t possibly contradict itself. You’re taking it out of context.” I thought that’s what the Bible was for: taking bits out of context and making them say whatever is convenient to make your point. That’s what every guy I’ve ever seen quote it on TV does. That’s why there’s so much of it: to discourage the common people from reading it so the priests can tell them what it says and what it means. For a while that didn’t happen as much as in the good ol’ days, but now we’ve come full circle.

That’s what the Nazi party was in the 1930’s, and that’s what the tea nazi party is today: religion. That’s why religious political movements are always (ALWAYS!) anti-education. The German nazis burned books, and so do the American ones. Because anyone who has a mind inquisitive enough to seek education knows they’re full of shit and sees that they’re just saying whatever they have to say to get and keep power. Just like Hitler. Hitler didn’t hate Jews. He didn’t hate anybody. He just needed an object to put the hate on, and Jews were convenient. They were everywhere, so anywhere he needed to go he could get people hating them. Just like the tea party (and the rest of American Christendom) is doing with anyone who doesn’t have a traditional sexual orientation (even those who’s physiology prohibits it).

And before someone calls me on it: I know there are Christians in America who aren’t total assholes. For every Christian I know who is a complete waste of genetic material, I know at least one who is worth their salt. But as long as you call yourself a Christian, you choose to allow bigots and hate-mongers to be your public voice. I base my judgements on what I see and hear. That’s all I can do. So you have to be just as loud as they are when you say “he doesn’t speak for me,” or nobody hears it, which is why people hate you for being a Christian, and why I had to stop doing it.

And it’s going to work. They’re going to win. The tea nazis are going to gain power, they are going to become a major force in the government, and the next world war is going to be everbody against us. But this time, it won’t be a nation trying to conquer its neighbors. It will be a new crusade (because we didn’t learn anything from the old ones) to conquer the world in the name of Jesus. It’ll be just like Command & Conquer. We’ll be Nod. I’ll put money on the fact that we’ll even wear red (you can’t be a Christian army and not wear some red. It’s the rules).

Why will this happen? Because half of us are too stupid to know any better and the other half don’t care enough to do anything about it. Just like nobody in Germany cared enough to stop Hitler before he rose to power, even though they knew it was likely togo wrong. They were all too excited about a re-ignited German nation to care about how they got there.

And just like the allied forces did to the citizens in the towns with concentration camps in them, whoever finally beats us is going to make us walk through the re-education centers where we sent all the atheists and all the gays. They’re going to line us up in front of the ditches where the bodies of all the people who were tortured to death or killed themselves because they couldn’t handle the torture any more are rotting because there are so many they can’t be buried or incinerated fast enough. They’re going to point their guns at us and make us look at all the death. And they’re going to say “you did this. This is your fault. You are as responsible for all of this as the men at the top because you let them do it.” All the stupids will have joined the army, so the only ones left to be marched through the camps will be those of us who know that it really is all our fault.

Am I really the only person who sees this? Am I crazy? Someone please convince me that I’m completely out of my mind and that history doesn’t really repeat itself like every history teacher who ever lived says it does. Someone show me how the tea party is different from the nazi party. Maybe all the news coverage just makes it feel like it’s a greater problem than it really is. And if I’m not wrong, what’s a guy to do? I don’t want this to happen. What can I do to make it not? Vote? Right. Because my vote counts. Run for office? Right. Because I could get the support of a major party or am independently wealthy enough to run my own political campaign. Pray? Oh, I do. And, as previously noted, my vote counts. So this is what keeps me up at night. How about you?

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Batmen and Stormtroopers and Ghostbusters! Oh my!

Pardon my poor blogging habits, but this post will be re-posted in the next day or two with links throughout. I would ordinarily just not post until I’m ready, but I really want to get these photos up and it’s bed time. On that note, none of my captions will line up with my photos because Windows Live Writer is for some reason not as good as it used to be. That will also get fixed. I just really want you all to see my convention photos, but it’s well past my bedtime and I just can’t deal with it right now.

New England Comic Con 2010. Was. Awesome. Excuse my poor grammar, but that’s how much fun it was. At first, when we were first planning to go, I thought it would be really fun. Then we got there Friday afternoon, everybody wasn’t there yet and people were just setting up their booths, so I was prepared for some major league boredom. So we went out with PaulC and Jill and had some Seafood. Saturday was awesome.

It was a ton of fun to see all the costumes, chat with a few comic artists and meet some of the Scooby gang. So, with no further ado, here are some photos.

Okay, I lied. Here is some ado. Several people asked me to send them the photos I took of them, so I just started handing out business cards to bring people here to my blog. If you (or something you made/own) are in one of these photos, have it. It’s all yours.

Because there are so many photos on this page (42, if I didn’t mis-count), these are jpegs and not my preferred Tiffs. They are not the best quality, and I put a watermark on them. If you want the Tiffs, I would be more than happy to send them to you. The high-quality images that I send you will not have a watermark, you can do whatever you want with them, and I don’t even want any money. I can’t e-mail them because they’re large files (50-60 Mb per photo), but shoot me an e-mail and we’ll work something out. I’m willing to mail a CD, or maybe setup a download space somewhere. Suffice it to say, we can work something out.

So here’s the show. And I talk during it.

Let me preface with this: all these photos look a lot greyer in my Windows Live Writer window than they do in my image viewer window.


First, I find it fitting that we begin with some Batmobile. This first one I took as soon as we walked in on Friday. Yes, I asked the guy. And yes, it was okay to take photos of the car. It was getting a photo IN the car that cost money. That would have been cool, but I wasn’t wearing my tights. The rest were taken at various times during the convention when I happened to see the car from a new angle.IMG_5502

I think this is the best one. I think they all came out okay, but some were not well-focused, and others had to be cropped down too far to be very good.







I didn’t notice at first that the car had the fight sounds around it. So i had to take one more shot to get them in there.









And of course there was the BatCycle. this is the only decent shot i got of it.










Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce the one, the only (sort of) Harley Quinn. There were a few HQ’s floating about the big room, and this was the first Blasty McClownface to pose for me.





Speaking of circus freaks: where would the queen of scream be without her clown prince? Despite their perverse personas, these two were actually super friendly. Harley shook my hand for like an hour, jumping up and down the whole time, her hat bouncing all over the place.


IMG_5633Apologies to Mr. Ward, but this girl was the best-looking Robin at the con. I wish I’d gotten a better angle on this shot. If you can’t tell, she’s putting handcuffs on the Prize Prankster.

IMG_5638I think this is my favorite photo of the con. I saw the caped crusader, Harley and the J Man talking to the commissioner. The shot was too good to pass up, but they seemed to be having an important conversation regarding the quality of the quiltery at Arkham Asylum. So I took the shot. The jester (jestress?) saw me right before I snapped it and politely told me to buzz off.


The Dynamic Duo in all their colorful tight-wearing glory. I couldn’t have asked for a better pose for the caped crusader and boy wonder (no, not Captain Sunshine and Boy Wonder: Batman and Robin).

IMG_5645 I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know who this is. Yes. I know. It’s robin. But who’s that WITH Robin? At first I thought it was Rorschach, but now I’ve decided that doesn’t make any sense. Can anybody shed some light?

Right after I took this shot, I walked up to the two (actual) Boston policemen standing guard by the door behind them. I childishly asked if I could take their picture. In hindsight I should have said something like “I realize you guys aren’t in costume and that’s you’re real-life uniform. Would it be alright if I took a photo of the two of you just doing your job?” Instead I said the same thing I had been saying to everybody all day: “hey guys. Can I get a photo of the two of you?” But they were very cool and not dicks at all like they had every right to be and just said “no, we don’t do photos.” So, props to those two gentlemen for being exceptionally cool when I totally (unwittingly) disrespected them and their uniform.

IMG_5646 Two words: Hot. Batgirl and Harley, just bein’ awesome. These two get the prize (in my opinion) for hottest costumes that I got photos of. I must point out that Supergirl was super hot. I did not get her photo because I was both dumbstruck and partially blinded by her awesomeness. Ask Kerry. She was blinded too. She was talking when we were walking out of the con and SG came strutting in, gold cape and hair flowing. Kerry stopped talking. I expected her to stop walking too, but I was able to pull her away from the shiny.






Cap was one of the few non-Batman comic book heroes in attendance at the con. He struck this pose all by himself. I’m sure this wasn’t his first rodeo.







IMG_5523This was our first glimpse of the men (and women, but these were men) of the 501st. As they were marching by, I told Kerry to shout “remember Alderaan!” but she was too afraid.

IMG_5613 Speaking of the 501st, I can only assume that these are the helmets of their fallen warriors. There was another group there called the “Mandalorian Mercenaries.” I don’t know if the two are affiliated (I presume that they are), so if I mistake one for the other, you must forgive me. I thought all of these helmets were really cool in their own right, and even cooler if you imagine the warriors who would wear them.





A welcome blast from the past was this super Sith Lord. I took a photo of him, then he saw me, then he struck this great pose. This was before I started asking people for pictures and was trying to snap surreptitiously. I’m glad I figured out quickly not to do that.






IMG_5614This accommodating member of the Grand Army of the Republic was the first person I asked to pose for a photo. He seemed more than happy to point his weapon at me, just in case I turned out to be a rogue Jedi mid-shoot. This trooper’s armor looks a lot purpler in my windows Live Writer than it does in my Windows Image Viewer. I hope it looks bluer to you than it does to me.

IMG_5630 This suspicious-minded Mandalorian should pay more attention to his surroundings. He’s got the photographer pretty well covered, but the Jedi behind him looks about to start some shit.






Told ya. Great pose, but I wish I’d caught it from a slightly better angle. I love the way both this Jedi and Darth Maul’s lightsabers cast a cool light on their faces.










Okay. I’m not complaining. Really, i’m not. but this is the third guy in a helmet to point his gun at me. It’s a very effective pose, but it seems to be the only one of which masked Mandalorians are capable. So I asked this particular meter and three quarters of awesome to give me a second look.











Which he was only too happy to do. Truth be told, that first pose was better. Props to you, dark grey Mandalorian.











I saw Emperor Palpatine and his best-dressed apprentice walking around ominously on Friday night. Apparently that Jedi showed up and dispatched them while this poor guy was still getting his boots on. Similar to the blue clone trooper, the color of this guard’s garb is a little off here. In my preview window, it looks a lot redder, whereas here it looks a lot browner. Again, i hope you are seeing him wearing bright red-orange and not dingy maroon-brown.









The 501st had a booth setup at which they were giving the younger crowd some target practice. This brave trooper was one of the targets.






IMG_5640Some more super cool helmets. The one on the right is an empire-era pilot or driver helmet, and if I remember my history, the closer one is a clone pilot helmet. That would be before they switched to the open-faced, yellow-goggled variety.








This fine gentleman showed up on Saturday. Coincidentally, immediately following his arrival, all of the card games out in the hall started getting very one-sided. It should be mentioned that no one lost any limbs (at least, not that I was aware of).











The biggest celebrity of the con didn’t show arrive until Sunday. It was worth the wait. Has anybody seen “Beneath the Dome?” In that documentary, he was portrayed as something of a jerk. That’s pretty accurate. He was super arrogant, all rolling around twittering and being all “hey losers! I’m R2-Frickin’-D2!” It got a little annoying.

But seriously, the guy at the controls was super cool and R2 played with the kiddies.



The Ghostbusters of New Hampshire were also at the convention. They’re swell guys. They were taking donations for Make-A-Wish if I remember right. I caught this dude outside as we were leaving for lunch on Saturday. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to salvage this photo. I didn’t reset my shutterspeed from when I was shooting inside. So this was shot at f/8 and 1/20 at around 1:30 in the afternoon. If you know what I’m talking about, you know that this entire photo was completely washed out.








No, this ghostbuster is not selling Fords, and neither am I. It just would have been hard to crop that banner out of the shot. So, you’re welcome New Ford Fiesta. I kinda wish this guy had given me a pose, but it’s still not a bad shot. Ghostbusters aren’t exactly common.








So I saw five ghostbusters standing by their car (which was super awesome, by the way. I think it was a PT Cruiser). Of course I asked them for a group photo. They did this cool pose. I don’t know if this was planned or spontaneous, but it made for a super shot. At first I thought they were flipping me off, and I thought “umm… there are kids around fellas, but whatever you want.” Then I realized they were just pointing and I laughed at myself.


These two officers were very friendly and wanted very badly to recruit me into their fleet of the stars. I was trying too hard to play along for any real conversation to happen. Live and learn.

So that’s all my convention photos. I have more photos that I took in the couple of blocks of Boston between the convention center and the hotel. Those will be up… later. I’m busy with school this week, but I wanted to get this con stuff up quick. I might not get to my wrapup and the outside photos until this weekend. We’ll see.

Once again, if anybody wants hi-quality copies of any of these photos, just let me know and we will work something out. Whatever is worked out, I will not ask anyone for money.

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