Monday, October 31, 2011


Another Halloween's come to a close, and for me that's always bittersweet. Had an all right turnout of kids - not quite as many as I hoped for, but that just meant I got pretty generous with the candy toward the end. I'm not in a rush to take down the decorations, though. Christmas gets all the good press anyway, let's roll with the macabre a little longer.

My good friend/kickin' rad photographer Melanie Godecki posted a look back at previous years' Halloween costumes, and now I'm shamelessly stealing that idea. (Only I mostly just dress up as comic characters while she comes up with far more interesting, creative and all-around impressive costumes, so definitely check her blog out. And hey look, she's just posted this year's costumes as well - they're 100% fantastic.)

This year's costume was Scott Pilgrim. Not too many people got it (or they didn't say anything if they did), but I'm more than happy to rep for the indie darling graphic novel series/most under-appreciated movie of 2010.

Here with my Special Lady, who went as burlesque performer Tempest Storm.

To hand out candy, I decided to go with my old reliable: the Batman costume I've pulled out many times since I got it in 2005. Figured the kids would recognize that more than Scott Pilgrim, and any excuse to dress up as Batman is a good one, come on.

If only I thought to make Logan a matching cape and mask, he could have been Ace the Bat-Hound!

And a few from previous years - Casey Jones (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and some obscure comic character you've probably never heard of:

Joker there was probably my finest hour for Halloween costumes, considering how incredibly last-minute most of it came together. I definitely learned from that.

I'm already mulling over costume ideas for next year. Ambitious ones. Actually planning ahead may be necessary.

Up and Away

Sometimes I think the kids had it right all along. In those years before we worried about "cool", before cynicism and angst entered the picture, before we became more and more concerned with appearances, with others' expectations, biases and judgments. I wish I could get back every minute I spent living for someone else, trying to satisfy someone else's expectations instead of my own, trying to make someone else happy at the expense of my own happiness. So much time wasted, but the benefit is that constant reminder not to waste any more.

Adulthood comes with so many freedoms and responsibilities that I treasure and wouldn't trade for anything. The path there is the tricky part. For me, that path lead me headlong into doubt and insecurity, never feeling accepted, feeling alone and rejected, like I wasn't quite "right", like I didn't fit. Attempts to connect with others turned awkward, the shroud of their judgment (real or imagined) hanging over me always. But hey - kids can be cruel, tricky shit, life goes on. You can't win with everybody. You can only do your best; so do that, accept what comes next and move on.

The past year has been as much a journey to keep progressing as an adult as it has an effort to take back that aspect of freedom from my childhood - the freedom to live and love without doubt or worry. It's taken me a lot longer than I'd care to admit, but it's where I'm at now and it feels good.

I write this having just come home from work, where I spent the day dressed as Batman. Best of both worlds, my friends.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Since I got off work today, I played with Logan and took him for a few walks, worked on inking and lettering tomorrow's comic, and if time permits, I might start start carving pumpkins later on. Not a bad day at all.

I'm feeling more productive than I have in a long time, which is pretty awesome. I'm setting deadlines for myself and actually meeting them.

To anyone who's known me for a while, this may come as a shock, but I'm becoming a bit of a morning person. Not that I'm happy to be up early exactly, but it's become a lot easier and I've got a lot more energy than I ever did before.

Procrastination and laziness don't come as easily/naturally as they used to, either. I've got far more drive to get things done than I did a few years ago, and that's a very good thing.

Tomorrow's comic is my 72nd one so far. I feel like taking a bit of a direction shift and having more fun with the various mythologies I'm playing with, so we'll see where it goes from here.

I'm definitely a supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I think it's great that people are getting fired up about it, and it's high time people paid more attention to the cause of the economic issues we face today. However, I also wonder if all of the people protesting get out and vote in every election. Spreading awareness is an important, essential step, but without follow-through it won't achieve much.

Real change takes time. It doesn't just "happen", it's something that needs to be worked at consistently if it's going to stick. I think many people nowadays - young people especially, sorry - have become so accustomed to getting things instantly that they don't really recognize this. Change is something that has to be fought for, often an inch at a time. So be patient, have focus, and don't give up.

It's been a really long time since I've been on a decent roller coaster. Way, way too long.

I've been trying to regularly step back and remember that I'm a healthy, free human being with the ability to analyze my own thoughts, recognize patterns in my life, and adjust how I live accordingly. I'm incredibly lucky, and you probably are too.

I'm trying to be less nostalgic. There has always been a lot of good mixed in with a lot of bad, and just because something's more familiar or feels more natural doesn't mean it's necessarily better.

Everyone gets put in situations beyond their control. It's usually not pleasant, but how you react to it and deal with it is something you can control, and speaks volumes about who you are.

Ultimately, if you're also a healthy, free human being, your life comes down to a series of choices. Are you happy with yours?

I honestly believe I would go through severe withdrawal if I didn't have my iPod. It's become essential to everyday living for me. I feel so spoiled about this sometimes.

"Community" is consistently one of the most clever, engaging and hilarious shows on television, and consistently its reward is low ratings. If you aren't watching it, you should really start. (Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.)

I'm pretty excited for "Batman: Arkham City" (which came out yesterday), but I'm not going to buy it any time soon because I know I won't have time to play it. I actually haven't played a long video game in over nine months. I could make the time, but I have so many other priorities right now that I couldn't really justify it. I'm not complaining, though - I'm really happy with my life right now.

I'm totally into anything with a time-travel plot, I find the concept very interesting (at least when it's done well), but the thought of someone actually developing the technology to make it possible is absolutely terrifying.

A voice in the back of my head keeps telling me that I should buy a car. It would make certain things more convenient, but I don't actually need one, and in a lot of ways don't want one, either.

A different voice in the back of my head keeps telling me that I should buy a new computer. I don't need one of those either, but if my current one were to have problems or die on me (it's four years old now) it would seriously screw up my ability to keep the comic going. So I'm considering it.

A third voice in the back of my head (jeez, I seem to have a lot of them) keeps telling me to splurge on a really nice, custom three-piece suit. Easily the least necessary purchase, but damn would it be nice to have.

I've successfully hooked my girlfriend on "Community", "Doctor Who" and "The Walking Dead". This is a huge personal achievement. (Okay not really.)

I believe that people, in general, have more chances to get help than they think. The fact is that nobody ever got anywhere alone, not really. And while self-reliance is a good quality to have and is important in a lot of ways, I feel it's important to reach out to others when you need to, and if anything, doing so will only make your life easier and happier.

As time goes on, I feel less and less shame. I keep realizing that I had no reason to feel any in the first place.

One of my absolute favourite things to do is run around the house playing with Logan like I'm a sugar-addled 8-year-old.

Every time I lick an envelope, I flash to that episode of "Seinfeld" where George's fiancée died from licking the toxic glue on old wedding envelopes. Every time.

I can't leave the house without triple-checking that the door is locked. Same goes for locking car doors and checking that the oven's turned off - I do this even if I never turned it on in the first place.

I'm not interested in excuses. I used to make my share of them, but I want to be past that. Every decision or action has a consequence, and you have to own yours, good or bad.

I think angst is easy and cynicism is cheap, and it's getting harder for me to understand people who live with either.

A quote from my friend and former coworker Chris Clark: "An optimist is not someone who merely sees the positive side of things. An optimist sees the negative side, acknowledges it, but does not dwell in it long enough to become a part of it." I really like that, and that's pretty much exactly how I see it, too.

I don't think it's hard to lead a "clean" life. Just be kind and honest to others and be thoughtful about how your actions impact them.

As far as I'm concerned, the most important question is always "Why?"

DMC is releasing an all-electric version of the DeLorean DMC-12 in 2013. Everything I said earlier about owning a car does not apply here. So basically I have a year and a half to round up $100,000 in disposable income.

It's funny when you mention something or someone specific once in a Twitter post, and suddenly you have accounts about that person or thing following you for a while. I wonder, do the people who run those accounts just sit at their computers all day searching for that particular topic and follow everyone who mentions it?

I don't know why I keep finding myself surprised when it starts to get cold in mid-October. I've lived in Ontario my whole life, Northwestern Ontario for most of it, and yet I always seem to expect it to stay warm until December or something.

Blueberry-flavoured coffee. My god.

My bathroom is slowly becoming Beatles-themed. Is this cool or weird? (I think cool.)

Looking back, I'm really glad that The White Stripes and The Strokes hit it big when I was 17. I probably have much better taste in music now because of that whole "indie garage rock" movement. Sure, there were a plenty of forgettable "The ____s" bands coming out of the woodwork afterward, but that kind of stripped-down, no-bullshit sound is just what I needed to hear at the time, and I still really love both bands.

If you want a really quick and easy way to make me tune out, just be pretentious - use flowery speech, purple prose and ten-dollar words when they're not natural or necessary. It doesn't make you smart, interesting or deep - it just proves you know how to use a thesaurus.

I let Logan sleep on the bed with me. He's taken to sleeping like a human sometimes, with his body under the covers and his head up on the pillow, beside me. It's the most adorable thing ever.

I'm at the point in planning my third tattoo where I pick it apart and worry constantly that it's something I'll regret. This is an essential step. If I still want it after putting myself through all that, it's probably a safe pick.

I'm currently reading the following monthly comic series: Angel & Faith, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine, Casanova, Daredevil, Ghostbusters, iZombie, Mega Man, The Sixth Gun, Snarked, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ultimate Spider-Man. If anyone has other comic recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

As much as superhero comics can be juvenile power fantasies (and they often really can), I feel like they've impacted my morals in a pretty significant way. Learning that "with great power must come great responsibility" as a child had a huge impact. Obviously not taken in a literal "put on a costume and fight crime" kind of way, but we're all in positions of power over others in one way or another, at some point or another, whether it's in work, social matters or personal relationships, and I think the motto is always a good rule to follow.

I get annoyed when somebody says I "look like Moby". I'm not offended by it, I just wish they'd try a little harder with their bald-guy-with-glasses comparisons. There's more than one, you guys.

I've been eating natural-style peanut butter lately. It's fine, but I think I prefer the regular kind, even if it's less healthy.

I probably drink too much coffee, but I've decided that I am perfectly okay with this.

I agree with Larry David: the bag and the dog, they go together. Being a dog owner who won't pick up after their public messes is like having a baby and refusing to change their diaper: if you're not responsible enough to take care of them, you shouldn't have them in the first place.

The next time I go on a vacation, I really think it has to be to London. This might be a while off, but it'll be worth it.

My favourite Beatles song is "Helter Skelter."

I used to be offended by a lot of things. Now the thing that offends me most is boredom.

Above my computer, I have a post-it note that says "live your life and be awesome". I don't always succeed, but it's a good goal to shoot for, right?

This is my 50th blog post.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Change + Remix

Change is interesting. Every now and then, at total random, something will spark a memory or a forgotten feeling and I'll be struck by how different, and how much better, I feel now. In a weird way, I know so much more about myself since I've accepted how little I really know for sure. The benefits are a much more open mind, as well as a much more solid sense of self. You can have incredibly firm opinions, ideas, and plans, but knowing that change is inevitable, that all you accept, expect and maybe take for granted can evaporate? It has a hell of a way of jolting you awake.

And in a way, it's oddly freeing too - I can honestly say I don't care what anyone else thinks of me anymore, and that used to be a huge issue for me. That alone has helped put me on a much better path, I'm finding. What I want and need to be happy has become far clearer than it used to be, and I feel like I'm a much stronger, better person for it. Neat.

Moving on.

Once upon a time, my opinion on remixes pretty much lined up with this old Diesel Sweeties comic:

I guess this is another thing that's changed. The Glitch Mob remixed "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes a while back (they released it just after the band broke up) and I really dig it. Like really really.

I totally missed it before I came across it in some cool fan edits online. YouTube user KatrinDepp made this one of my recent nerdy obsession, Doctor Who:

And if it's more your speed, here's a Harry Potter version by Grable424:

Ending with some random camera pictures, first of my relatively-new kitchen table setup (hydraulic everything), and a few more of me and my best buddy in this or any other universe, Logan:

Enjoy your remaining awesome weekend hours, Internet Friends! As always, there'll be more to come.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


A little while back I posted a Halloween costume poll. There was a pretty clear winner, but I wasn't totally sure I'd be able to get it all together in time and be happy with the end result.

Well, I had some incredible luck shopping for my Halloween costume last night, and managed to pick up a suitable jacket and wig for relatively cheap:

I just have to tweak/customize the accessories a bit and I'll be ready to go. And to finish things off, I've ordered the following:

It should be pretty obvious what the costume is now, I guess.

That's right, I'm going as legendary newsman Walter Cronkite.

(Annnd moving on.)

If it wasn't already obvious, Halloween is kind of a big deal for me, and ideally I want to go all out. But while I can't really justify spending obscene amounts of money on life-size, realistically-detailed zombie statues to plant all over my lawn -- a man can dream, though! -- getting the house suitably spooked-up is still important.

Submitted for your approval, dear Internet, here's what I've done so far:

And to the left, I've put together a little budget-friendly graveyard:

If I'm able, I really want to get some eerie blue light shining down on it for a little ambience. But there's this damned "adult with self-restraint" part of my brain telling me to rein it in.

I will do my best to ignore it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Self Portrait

Just a little something today - a cartoon-style self portrait I quickly put together after work:

Kind of okay, I think!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Son of Random Thursday


Low-content update again. I have stuff I want to talk/rave about, but no time/attention span to write it out at the moment, so on the backburner it goes. Instead here's a potentially creepy picture of my eye. Yeah!!

And as a palate cleanser, shameless adorable dog pictures go!

This week I bought a new blanket. Within seconds, Logan decided to claim it as his own. It's what he does. It's his thing. And he gets away with it because he makes faces at me like this one:

He's made a few neighbourhood friends in the past few months. Here are a few pics of a recent play session:

It's kind of amazing watching them go at it. Logan's clearly much smaller than the others, but they recognize that and are very gentle with him. And he's got that limitless puppy energy, so he can more than keep up when they run around.

Ending on a song, because that's what we do on Random Thursday. (Or whatever the hell day it lands on.)

RIP Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, co-founder/CEO of Apple Computers and founder/former CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, died yesterday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Whether or not you were a fan of his work or his business -- and for the record, I'm an unapologetic Mac snob who absolutely adores the work of Pixar -- the man was an innovator who will be sorely missed.

A lot of people have been sharing the following speech of his from 2005, and for good reason. These are words to live by, and the video is well worth watching to the end.

Here's a transcript:
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Monday, October 3, 2011

This is Halloween

Just a quick update today. Not much to report on. I'm slowly (slowwwly) getting over the awful cold that pretty much obliterated me last week. This weekend I finally started feeling well enough to venture back out into the world, and priority one was getting some Halloween decorations. Because Halloween is the best, and needs to be celebrated accordingly.

Here's Logan keeping watch:

This is Halloween

I'm still playing catchup on... pretty much everything, but I promise a more substantial update before too long.

Till then, Interfriends!