Comic book cities

I was talking with a friend this evening to distract ourselves from our forthcoming dystopian future, and our rambling conversation came around to comic books:

“Most cities in comic books tend to be based on New York, because that’s where the comic book industry was based.”

“Yeah. Like Spider-Man really wouldn’t work in a city like Los Angeles.”

“Or in a small farming community in Kansas. What could he swing from? He’d do a lot of walking.”

“Imagine if the comic book industry had developed in San Francisco.”

“Hm. Well, comics would feature a lot more leather and chaps for one thing.…”

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It happened again…

Every so often I’ll draw a cartoon and then, a few days or even a few months later, I’ll see that some professional cartoonist has done something that seems very similar to the gag in my drawing. It’s happened again, this time with the comic strip “Six Chix.”

I drew this cartoon using a caption I thought of a month or so back, and I posted it on my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline on October 2: Disappointed princess

Today I saw this cartoon in the Washington Post, attributed to Isabella Bannerman, Margaret Shulock, Rina Piccolo, Anne Gibbons, Benita Epstein, and Stephanie Piro:

Six Chix inspired by me?

Not quite the same gag, but close enough to make me wonder if any of the artists involved have been following me on Twitter or Facebook.

Coincidence, or the sincerest form of flattery?

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Why So Violent?

Recent events, featuring shootings by police, shootings of police, children shooting themselves, parents shooting children, and, just in general, a whole lot of shootings, makes me ask, why are we so violent in the United States?

It’s not the guns—or, rather, not just the guns that you can find in around a third of all US households. I suspect it may have something to do with the culture of violence we invite into our homes every night.

I just took a look at the prime-time TV schedules of the five major networks for 2015-16, and, depending on how you want to count it, I see that of the roughly 90 hours of prime-time TV available each week, you can watch a show that features crime or violence as a regular part of the show during something like 39 of those hours.

Sure, the numbers of both prime-time hours and violence-based shows fluctuate throughout the year, but the ratio remains relatively constant: roughly 40% of the network prime-time schedule consists of violence based shows.

Gun control isn’t the answer. Censorship isn’t the answer. I don’t know what is, but it does seem that we have a violence-addicted culture.

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“I Do Not Know”

Lauren Goode, at writer at The Verge, says that Apple’s forthcoming watchOS 3 is “an admission that Apple had it all wrong when it came to interactions on the first-generation Apple Watch.” It is no such thing, although the headline makes for great clickbait!

With the first release of the Apple Watch’s OS, Apple got some things wrong and some things right, just as most developers do when they release a brand new product. Designing a user experience is an inexact science. Sure, there are protocols and methodologies for doing it that have a deep grounding in psychological and behavioral research, but all employing them does is get your product closer to delivering a good user experience the first time out of the box.

It’s only when a product has been in use for a while in a large and diverse user population can the developers see more of the pain points their initial design had, and then devise ways to mitigate them. Apple addressed some of them in watchOS 2, and has addressed more of them in watchOS 3.

Goode says that watchOS 3 “requires fewer swipes and taps and less wait time just to get an app going. Why wasn’t it like this before? I do not know.”

I do know. Anyone with actual consumer software development experience does.

Why doesn’t Goode know this? I do not know.

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Soup of the evening, beautiful soup

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup…

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup…

This started with my grandmother’s recipe, but has mutated over the years. I make it in an improvisatory fashion, so the measurements below are all approximate. It honestly does help reduce the symptoms of a cold. And it tastes even better if you don’t have a cold. (By the way: the large pot I use is a ceramic coated cast iron pot that I got from my grandmother about 40 years ago, and which she used for several decades before that, but any large pot will do.)

In a large pot, toss in 4 large or 6 small chicken thighs (thighs make a richer, sweeter broth than breasts)

Add 1 large or 2 small yellow onions, peeled and cut into large chunks

Add 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced into half-inch pieces

Add 2-3 carrots, sliced into half-inch pieces

Add 5-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly

Add 1 tsp. salt

Add 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and 1/8 tsp. hot red pepper

Add 1/4 tsp. each of oregano, dried sage, basil, marjoram, rosemary

Add 2-3 sticks of cinnamon

Cover all ingredients with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour. Remove chicken thighs, discard skin and bones, shred chicken and return to the pot. Let simmer for another hour or two.

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I’m loopy!

I found a $16 knock-off of the space black Milanese loop band for Apple Watch on Amazon, and, having a little gift certificate money left, ordered it. I like it so far. It’s obvious to the wearer that it ain’t an Apple band (the bare face of the magnet on the clasp’s underside, for example), but, once on the wrist, it looks and feels good. The Apple band, btw, costs $199.

knockoff band clasp, detail

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A Book Tour in the Age of Global Warming

Last week I made a Lulu.com print-on-demand copy of Fuzzy Bytes, and the proof copy is now on a book tour!!

According to the latest FedEx tracking information, it arrived at Northborough, MA, on Friday, got to Scrubgrass Township, PA, on Saturday, made a quick stop on Sunday at Pacific, MO, before scooting off to McLean, TX, and from there went to Flagstaff, AZ, on Monday.

It occurs to me that, between the natural resources consumed in printing the proof copy, and the fossil fuels used in transporting it to all of these locations, the carbon footprint of my novel is now daikaiju-sized!

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Surprising surprises

For years I wanted to be a writer so I could make more of the things I like to read, but during all that time I thought there would be a catch that came with that. Unlike the books I didn’t write, I could never have the experience of reading one of my own books for the first time—they could never come as a surprise to me.

After having recently spent about a hundred days writing a novel, one that I’ve been casually contemplating for more than twenty years, I have to revise my thinking about that catch. Although I knew for years the general idea underlying my book, its main themes, several of the main characters, and how, more or less, it would end, most of what happens in the finished book came as a surprise to me, emerging in the writing, popping onto the page as I pecked away. At least once a day while working I’d find myself saying, “Oh, so that’s how that happened!” In addition, many of the characters, some of whom become very important as the story unfolded, were complete strangers to me when they made their first appearances—like real people, I only got to know who they were over time. And now that I have finished drafting the novel, I am sad that I will not be able to spend more time with them.

No, writing my novel wasn’t like reading it for the first time. It was much more satisfyingly surprising!

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If it were done when ’tis done…

…there would be no need for editors. But, still, I just finished the rough draft of Fuzzy Bytes. 82,756 words according to Scrivener.

I will figure out in the next few days how to distribute the thing to people who want to read it. But right now I can say, woohoo!

Today I am a novelist

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Final Stretch Mark

I’m now composing the final chapter of Fuzzy Bytes. Though I’m not sure how many more days it will take, I think there are few enough that I can count them on my fingers.

In honor of this milestone, I have posted another chapter online. This is probably the last chapter I will post publicly, but those of you who know how to contact me and who want to read the completed (rough, oh so rough) draft should contact me to request an ebook once I finish.

Patience.

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