Artists Are Jer…um, I Mean, Interesting People!

I’ve never been in any “leadership positions” in any of my jobs thus far, save for the occasional minion or two that got tossed my way.  Thus, being “in charge” (big finger quotes there, I’m just the writer) of our first project at First Storm Manga is a new experience for me.

One thing I learned quickly is that artists are a lot like programmers.  We are touchy-feel-y people, prone to being easily distracted, and believe that we are special because what we can do something that not anybody can.

Oh yeah, we can also be jerks…especially that jerky-jerk AUSTIN!

In the workplace, programmer ire is generally directed at management (for example, Dilbert).  I am rapidly learning that artist ire tends to be directed at writers such as myself.  It also doesn’t help that I am out-numbered.

I am the only person at First Storm Manga (so far!) that does not draw, I could call myself a “pure writer” with an exaggerated air of self-importance if I wanted to sound like an arrogant jerk.  I was puzzled for awhile as to why I was getting all the writer-hate from the other guys.  Actually, “writer-hate” is a bit strong, it was actually more like “treat the writer like a red-headed stepchild.”

After awhile, though, I figured it out: when doing a manga (or comic), the art is done first, and then the words are slapped on top of it.  Thus, the more words I come up with, the more the art is covered up! So, yeah, I guess they have a point.  I suppose the occasional barb or two is a small price to pay for seeing a “pure writer’s” story come to life in pictures, though. *smug*

They’re still jerks, though.

“On” Switch

Its funny what can pick you up at times. I was having a crappy morning at work, stuff just wasn’t happening. E-mail, code changes, IT guys in the basement…nothing seemed to be working today.

Actually, the guys in the basement never work, so that really shouldn’t bother me.

I left for lunch a few minutes early, sat down, ordered my meal, and waited. I was just full of piss and vinegar and wondering what else was going to go wrong.

My meal came (steak and eggs, I wanted to “split the difference between breakfast and lunch), and then “Drive My Car” by the Beatles came on. As I dove into the food and started tapping my feet to the music, I started to feel better. Suddenly, work stuff didn’t seem like a big deal anymore…the rest of the day lay ahead, but I was ready for it.

Car-Tune

The Reliant has quite literally been a little shaky as of late, having developed a habit of rough idling when I am waiting at red lights or stop signs.  Eventually, the "Check Engine" light came on, which got me just a little nervous.  Luckily, my Google-fu was good enough for me to save a trip to the dealer by getting the error code from the car’s computer.  This also has me wondering what I could do to it with my Netbook and a USB cable.  In any event, a few clicks of the key, and I then had the Answer To My Car Problems:

"P 303 – 3rd cylinder misfire"

Well, that was about as pointless as farting in a windstorm.  Actually, it did give me something else I could Google, and Google away I did.  Instead of relying on a single solution, I looked for commonalities between the different fixes I found.  This was made slightly more difficult in that there are actually two major revisions of the Dodge Neon, so I had to disregard anything in relation to the first-generation model.

I figured I would go from least-expensive to most-expensive fixes, hoping to not have to resort to going to the dealer.  I started out by replacing the air filter and PCV valve.  I almost took the opportunity to upgrade to a K&M filter, but the auto parts store I visited did not have them in stock.  I reset the car’s computer to make the "Check Engine" light go away and hoped for the best.  The Reliant felt like it was running better, but soon enough the rattling returned, not quite as serious as before, but there nonetheless.  I figured the next thing to try was to replace the spark plugs, wires and ignition coil, though the coil was going to cost a few bucks.  I went to do some more research (all the while the rattling was becoming worse, and the "Check Engine" light reared its ugly head again) and as I did not see the coil mentioned very often, I figured I’d install new plugs and wires, and see if that would be enough.

Luckily, I had a day off to perform the operation, and so I voyaged to Auto Zone to get parts.  I acquired a set of wires and some slightly-nicer plugs and drove home to begin…and discovered I would need a extender for my ratchet.

Of course, it couldn’t ever be just that easy, so I had to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart.

Soon thereafter, I was busy swapping cables and plugs, and all was well…until I went to attach the third wire to the ignition coil.  I pushed it in, expecting to hear the ‘click’ of the connection being made, but, nothing.  I looked inside the cable expecting to see the silver connector inside, but instead there was…nothing!  Well, fark.  I used the old cables, and took a trip back to Autozone to get a replacement set.  To make sure all was well, I connected the new cables in the parking lot. 

Curiously enough, there were a few signs saying "Do Not Maintain or Repair Vehicles In Parking Lot" in front of the Autozone, but after seeing three vehicles in the parking lot with hoods popped and their owners hunched over their innards, so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt.

The operation was soon over, and so far it appears to have been a success.  I keep waiting to feel That Shaking Feeling again, but it hasn’t happened yet.  If it does, come back, then I suppose I will break down and buy the ignition coil, but so far, so good!

San Japanic!

San Japanic!
Page 1

Our first First Storm Manga project is a commission: we have been ‘hired’ to create a short manga (a Japanese-style comic book) to promote the San Japan 2.x Japanese Culture and Anime convention.  The manga is supposed to feature the convention’s four mascot characters: a bat named Dios (like most folks, I was all, wait, that means “God” in Spanish!  I presume its something different in Japanese) a longhorn named Suzaku, an armadillo named Hinode, and a girl named Sana.

The story will consist of all four characters encountering some kind of (hopefully) funny situation as they voyage to the convention.  I am the storywriter/editor (because I can’t draw) and we have three different artists working on the project.  Its lots of fun working with them, and I think it will come together quite nicely when its all said and done.  Click the picture above for the full image, and stay tuned!

Here In My Car…I Feel Nothing At All

I am not a "car guy," and for the life of me, I just don’t get the "car thing." I could not tell you the difference between year X and year Y of a particular vehicle, and I cannot recognize vehicles on sight.  If you are ever in an accident, you better hope I’m not one of the witnesses, because the conversation with the police would go something like this:

OFFICER: "Can you describe the vechicle, sir?"
RANDOMIZER9: "Yeah, it was, uh…silver! I think it had four wheels, too!"

I have friends that are "car guys" and I can hang with them for awhile, but once they get beyond a certain point, I quit hearing their words and the only thing I hear is the "Wah wah waah" of Charlie Brown’s teacher as they blather on about fuel-air mixes and trans-a-missions and all that.

I currently own a 2005 Dodge Neon. It is a conveyance, a box on wheels that gets me from Point A to Point B, and when I’m on vacation, to Point C. I keep it maintained, and I might even treat it to a wash every so often, but that’s it. "Car guys" on the other hand, have an attachment to their vehicles that borders on creepy. On Randomizer9’s Freak-O-Meter, they sit a few notches above pet owners who dress up their pets or name them "Baby," but I digress.

I’m not entirely in the clear on this one, though, because I did give my car a name: the "Reliant." I also did go "oooh!" when that yellow Lamborghini passed me up on I-10 awhile back, and I like Corvettes. I also considered an intake kit for the Reliant recently, and if AutoZone would have had one in stock, there might be a K&N air filter in the Reliant right now instead of a Fram. All things considered, I could be on the brink of becoming a car geek.

I think that my lack of car-guy-ness is due to the fact that I’ve never owned a vehicle that I ever really wanted. I have always gone with the practical choice out of economic necessity. The vehicle of my dreams is about a year’s worth of payments away, though, and that fact that I have already decided on a name for it ("Excelsior") might be a precursor of things to come.

Once people start tuning me out, I think the line will have been crossed!

Super Happy First Storm Manga Group Hey!!

Okay, so I got a little silly with the title…

First Storm Manga is a group of artists and writers that I joined recently.  We get together on Saturday nights at the La Taza coffee shop to go over various projects that we are working on for self-publication.  Our stuff is going to be done in the manga style of Japanese comics.

Well, the artists, stuff, anyway…since I can’t draw, I suppose that makes me a writer-slash-idea man.

I am working on a project right now, though I can’t say much beyond that.  Its neat to have a creative outlet and to meet and work with other Creative Types.  Its also like herding cats in terms of trying to keep things organized, and I admittedly don’t make things much easier, but we solider on, and if all goes well, we’ll have something to show for all our work.

I’m pretty excited about it, though, the thought of seeing something I created in words come to life in pictures is an exciting one!