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There is so much joy in this :

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Evidence of Graceful Destruction I (Jefferson Valley, NY)


This happened when I woke up. I’ve never won an Internet before. I have to say that it was fairly insane to see ‘LIKES’ notifications flood my screen rapid-fire alongside sudden friend requests.

We live in a strange world.

I’m kinda proud of the atmosphere created by my review of Mountain Man’s new album. While Splice loves it when I curse and get angry, I tried to evoke a different kind of mood here. Obviously.

Mountain Man- Made the Harbor

On CQ, I reviewed ‘The Dungeon Masters, which is a documentary which captures everything that documentaries should.

The Dungeon Masters

… and there’s a lot of other writing I’ve been doing, but it’s still sealed under non-disclosure agreements. More weird underseas adventures, spies and treason on short form. It’s a bit exciting, but very brain-intensive. Still fighting for more work, and waiting patiently to hear back from a potentially huge, life-changing job – but I’m not banking on it. But I’d like to bank on it.

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Had very strange dreams about living skeletons and doorways, and the skeletons gleefully earning the right to die. Despite how this might sound, it was weirdly uplifting. I have a feeling that this was precipitated by the recent death of Ryan August, who curated and printed the I Want Your Skull art zine. I’d purchased the first 7 issues from him last year, he was a really nice guy, and his ability to recontextualize the cliche of the human skull was intellectually amazing. It started my own collection of skull toys, and I even wrote about the zine back in January of this year, and he even wrote me an e-mail to thank me for the article.

RIP, Ryan August. You’re still giving me weird dreams. I only hope that they mean you’re feeling okay.

While I’m perpetually overbooked and overworked as it is, something in my brain isn’t happy until I’ve filled every spare minute, and plenty of minutes I’d have if I could freeze time with my brain (which I am working on), with work. It’s not a desperate quest for relevancy or wealth, but I’d like to be able to make enough money to survive nicely. The only way to do this is to throw myself down as many avenues as possible until something sticks. Ten years later, nothing has really stuck.

I joined eLance a month ago and paid the $15-per-month registration fee, which allows me to work in both graphic design & writing categories. For ten bucks, I could only choose one category, and I needed to access both. It also allows me to have 25 ‘connects’ per month, which are essentially points which you need to use to bid on projects. Projects that are budgeted under $500 cost one ‘connect’, while others cost more. Any unused ‘connects’ are supposed to roll over to the next month, but you’re also not allowed to have more than your allotted connect limit. This means that someone at eLance flunked common sense, because if you have ten connects left at the end of the month, and they roll over into your 25 connects, you’re left with 25 connects – which nullifies the whole ‘roll over’ thing completely. Sucks to your ass-mar, eLance.

You might also bid on projects that the employer never decides to award. They can politely cancel the project, at which point your connects are returned to you, but if they just leave the project dormant, you never get your ‘connect’ back, which you’ve paid for. eLance doesn’t seem to care either way. So, that’s how eLance works, if you were curious.

After a month, I’ve actually made one solid connection through a contact I made on eLance – but only after I pursued him outside of the eLance structure, due to the client’s inactivity on the site. I also had made a fiction writing contact through Freelance Writing Gigs, which I check religiously for work (though it’s recently been sold and the job leads have become very sparse). This will be the first time I write fiction professionally, so I’m very excited about it – especially the format I have to write in. Think ‘Dungeons of Dread’. Due to signing two NDAs and one contract, I’m obligated to say nothing until these projects go live.

Work at Splice is going well, with a lot of positive comments coming in, and my stories routinely scoring 250+ Diggs. The site seems to be skewing towards local Baltimore stuff and sports, so I’m not completely sure where I fit into it all, but so far, so good. And I’m paid regularly, which is great. I was also completely thrilled to see myself on the front page of Graphic Novel Reporter as the top two stories, as well as three more stories down the page. I’ve yet to actually add up my freelancing revenues, but I think I’m doing pretty well after the collapse of last year.

Of course. as you trawl through eLance, there are a ton of really, really awful, ridiculous jobs.

One job offered the amazing prize of $5 per week for five 450-word articles, or ten bucks for a logo design with five revisions. You might wonder how these are acceptable terms to anyone, but there’s a huge Indian and Pakistani population on eLance with a very low cost of living, and these folks create design farms which can afford to underbid all of the other working artists and crank out a mediocre product. Honestly, most people who are looking for designs have a terrible sense of aesthetics. Just deplorable and sad. They don’t know what they’re looking at. I’m sure they’re charming people, but when it comes to accepting bad design, they are clueless. Like whoever designs the covers of the Charlaine Harris books – I want to smack that person. On their drawing hand. With a cleaver.

Sample freelance jobs have recently included :

“draw a character. Client has scethes as to what she wants” [Your client has scethes? Are they itchy?]

“we need origional interpretation and dont forget I am Irish” [I won't forget. I promise. Just don't drunk me.][PS : I'm Irish so I can say that, and also use 'drunk' as a verb.]

“I need a cartoon that represents the idea that a slender, fit, healthy, sexy woman lives inside an obese woman and is ready to come out. My idea is that the healthy woman is unzipping and stepping out of a fat suit. I will provide a photo of the obese woman.” [I don't want the job, but can I borrow the photo? Just for 15 minutes.]

“The designs are very simple, and I can provide sketches and explanations for each of them. I put one together myself using Inkscape in about 45 minutes, and I don’t really know what I am doing. It shouldn’t take someone practiced very long at all. I figure, approximately 25-30 minutes per design, and I have between 4-6 that I want done.” [The appropriate response to this is 'Then do it yourself, fucko.' The implication that 'anyone can do this, even me' undermines the amount of skill and work that artists put into their own jobs.]

“I want someone to use photos of myself and draw them, as well as re-draw my face on the body of very musclar body builders (Superhero cartoon characters are fine too.) In other words, i want to see photos of MYSELF with my “IDEAL” body I am 6’2 and muscular already, but this will help me in my visualization process…” [Is there even a word for when you pay someone else to be narcissistic FOR YOU?]

There was also an ad to co-blog with this man [BLOG DELETED]. I think there’s a picture of him next to the word ‘incoherent’ in the dictionary, except someone got jelly all over it and tried to redraw it before their mom found out and got so nervous that they just puked on the whole freaking book. This is the test on the ‘About’ page.

People come to see me and they want to know “are you somebody special?”. Man I’m not freaking bull. “I’m the man of all mans the cool of all cool and especially the true of all true and definitely the king of all kings.” “What?” “You don’t believe me then stop asking me man.” Man plenty have asked that and they asked “freaking true are you truly the truest of all people fool?” “Fool?” “Once again never man no but I’m truer than most people ever man slow.”

And then there’s this one. It’s bad news when the person you outsource to needs to outsource as well. Maybe because ‘making fucking sense’ isn’t her native language.

“Hi there,
I have a request. This file contains smileys for a poster i am making. But now they want 5 or 6 happy smileys :
It would be great if you can make them for me…. you can use the eps file/….
…Two shake hands
Two are building something
One female version
I have to propose these as well, so i hope I an make adjustments later?
Could you do anything for me with this….
Hope to hear from you
Thanks”

At least the jobs which are actually reputable are worthwhile, thus far, and each job leads to a greater amount of credibility, and better work. It’s been a slow climb, but here’s hoping for the best.

I stumbled upon a website called ‘Omegle‘. It connects two people to chat anonymously.

You can only imagine the wonders of intellectual discourse that it provides.

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You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Stranger: hi im a guy are you a horny girl with msn and webcam?
You: OF COURSE I AM
Stranger: give me your msn
You: Give me $500
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
————-
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Stranger: hey
You: AHOY
Stranger: oi
Stranger: sup?
You: I am a wizard.
You: ARRRRR MATEY.
Stranger: aye
You: Also, I am a hamburger.
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
——————–
Stranger: there’s a party in my pants and you’re on the guest list!
You: I see there’s plenty of room!
You: No one told me that the host was a dwarf!
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
——————-
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: I am being told to say hello.
Stranger: Hi
You: What’s your favorite way to kill a man?
Stranger: Umm… I dont know, i dont kill people
You: Isn’t that what this website is?
Stranger: Sorry but I dont quite understand
You: Once, I poked a man’s eye so hard that it traveled through time and choked him as a baby.
Stranger: Right…
You: I know it was right. He was messing with my sister.
Stranger: Aha
Your conversational partner has disconnected.

———————–
Connecting to server…
Looking for someone you can chat with. Hang on.
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: THE BEES!
You: The keep on slamming the door!
You: Why are bees using my door anyhow?
You: Hello? Isn’t this the bee-door support line?
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
———————-

Re : The iPad

I suggest, once again, that we all reserve harsh criticisms, as well as unmitigated praise, for products that are not even out yet. While the iPad does not seem to be what we expected, we need to remember just that : it will perform outside of our expectations in ways that we cannot anticipate, just like much of technology and discovery does. The internet is becoming replete with Amazon-type review fury over things that do not technically exist yet. Be a little smarter by understanding all the things that you do not yet know.

That is all.

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I feel like I’ve had a very off life with a few really incredible hours mixed in every so often. None of those hours came yesterday.


I spent most of yesterday watching the end of Farscape and toiling over many sheets of graph paper, attempting to plot out a skull box in actual size. It’s a lot more complicated than simply assembling a cube, but once all of the details were measured out, it was very easy to transfer the exact shape to Illustrator to export to a file suitable for laser cutting. Plotting out the general details on a wooden cube was also helpful, but I always feel a little headachey when I spend too much time gently nudging lines on the computer for hours, and I could not seem to remain awake.

Now, I’m in that slightly anxious phase between submitting the files to the cutter and when the initial prototype arrives two weeks later and I find that I’ve made some kind of horrible mutant mistake.

I should really draw something again, but with the influx of family, there’s little room left to do much of anything.

There is a reason I’ve always felt a sense of deep geek-shame when I’ve walked into a toy store looking for a new Batman. There’s a stereotype of toy-collecting geeks that, unfortunately, rings true in many cases. I might even fit some of the outward appearance cliches, but I assure you – I bathe, I can carry on a conversation, I’ve had girlfriends, I’ve seen them naked, and yes, they were hot as hell, and you wish.

I won’t go into the stereotypes here, or why I collect a few toys, but let me assure you – my development is not arrested. And I have a job that pays me to do these things.

skeletorOnce a month, Mattel releases web-exclusive items into their online store. These are generally things that are produced in a limited edition, as a typical retail environment couldn’t support them properly. Items are scheduled to be released, the collective nerd populace with credit cards flocks to their website, buys a few things, and disperses. Sometimes, this makes the website perform slowly or temporarily crash.

I accept these digital hurdles as a simple fact of the internet. Other toy nerds take them as cues to hurl anger, vitriol, and abjectly ridiculous threats. Yesterday had a few very intense hours – all because the website’s current allotment of a Skeletor action figure sold out before some people could get him. Personally, I bought a B’Wana Beast and Animal Man 2-pack, and a Ghostbuster. It took a few minutes, but the order went through just fine.

The internet has recently caused many friends, acquaintances and otherwise to act out of character – or perhaps more in character than I previously perceived. I feel like I need to record some of the comments left on Mattel’s Facebook page for posterity, and as a lasting example of exactly why we need to calm down over tiny plastic men. I post these without editing for clarity.

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Jeno B. : by back up and running, you mean the site is a fucking mess that doesnt work, right? just like every month when you release stuff and it doesnt work,

Ted B. : IT IS NOT FIXED!!!! ENABLE PHOTO POSTS MATTY AND WE’LL SHOW YOU HOW ITS NOT FIXED!
Mike V. : every month you have an issue fuck you..i ever see you anywhere im putting my foot up your ass
Steven Z. : liar liar lair lair lair lair lair lair lair lair
Justin S. : what pisses me off the most is that i wasted my damn lunch hour to come home and order skeletor, and then they don’t have it. bastards anyways [because toys are more important than food]

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One fine chap suggested that ‘someone’ start a website called ‘I hope Mattel dies in the next 9/11 dot com’. And he was serious. We have reached a point of fevered insanity over a Skeletor action figure that provokes us to wish another horrible tragedy on our country, and the deaths of thousands of people, just so that one person at Mattel will lose their life. Or perhaps this person thinks that Mattel IS a person. At this point, it was difficult to see through the geek froth.
Either way, people, life is full of disappointment. A little evil skeleton dude that fought all sweaty ‘n’ bare-chested with another dude with a bowl cut isn’t really a great thing to start threatening people over. And tough words on the internet are just that.
Well, THAT, and hilarious.

While I can’t pin down the precise date, and it’s been blogged about ad nauseam, the FTC is dropping regulations on blogging. These regulations say a lot of things, but what directly effects me is the fact that any ‘free’ or ‘review’ items which I write about for any of my freelance gigs need to be disclosed as such within the article itself, or a disclaimer at the end.

For a long time, I really thought that this was just the default. People got free stuff for talking about it. I’ve been ‘blogging’ since before the word existed. I embraced the world of the internet very early on as a vast plain for positive expression of all manner of ideas, and free stuff for being a popular writer was just a given. Unfortunately, and I should have anticipated this, many people are disingenuous, and the plains of the internet which were once ripe for exploration have become a dangerous, deceptive wilderness. This is really unfortunate. Like many things, the internet is a tool, and it’s only as good as how you yourself use it. I’ve spent plenty of time defending Facebook to older co-workers who can’t really grasp the fact that I’m putting any aspect of my life online, but if you’re reading this, you probably get it and I don’t need to explain that posting a status update is not the equivalent of inviting violent rapists to dinner.

I won’t lie – I get a LOT of free stuff. My DVD collection has exploded over the past year, and I’ve hardly had to buy a thing. Indiana Jones, The Godfather, Justice League, Dr. Who, Iron Man, UP, the complete Farscape, the complete animated Ghostbusters and even Rocky on Blu-Ray, just to name a few of the fancier, more expensive things I’ve obtained. Toys, books, and other little weirdnesses are everywhere – so much so that I’ve started to just give them away to friends. I get press releases every day asking if I want stuff, and nine times out of ten, I say no. They don’t fit into what I do, and I’m not going to pretend they do.

None of these things were obtained out of avarice. They were all completely appropriate to the writing situation, and I only request things that I really feel that the audience would be interested in learning more about, or that I feel I could write about in an entertaining, attractive way. On rare occasions, I get things that I just can’t find enough to write about, and I simply don’t write anything.

I’ve been doing this long enough so that getting something for free doesn’t change my opinion of it. I called out Disney on the hypocrisy of packaging an iPod-only disc with Wall-E, a film that actively opposed a society that lived their lives through tiny screens. I don’t think I’ve ever compromised my integrity, for the simple fact that I’m able to extract a molecule of goodness out of even the worst, hilariously bad THING. It’s not a lie if this is what I want to talk about. I don’t feel that I intentionally omit fatal product flaws in any review.

I don’t mind adding a disclaimer to my articles about all of this. I do mind the fact that I could be slapped with an immense fine if I forget to.

It’s also journalistic integrity that calls into question the practices of a friend of mine that have recently resurfaced. I won’t name any names, because he’s genuinely a nice guy and I enjoy our interactions. As someone who writes professionally, I can’t help but feel a little rattled, however.

D. works PR for a company. It’s a good company. Sometimes, we work together and I write articles about their products, though they’re more like press releases than reviews. I guess that lends them credibility – I just do what I’m told.

I’ve known for a long time that D. also writes under a pseudonym, which is also fine. I don’t think that he knows that I’m aware of this situation, but he used to submit articles to my old blog and ask to be paid for them. Of course, this was my personal blog, and I wasn’t making money off of it, and I had no interest in running other people’s stuff in my writing portfolio space, and I certainly wasn’t able to pay for it – so I rejected it all, sometimes with helpful comments about fixing grammar or a title. After a while, something clicked and I realized that this pseudonym and D. were the same person.

Here’s the problem – D. is writing articles about his own company in the third person, going as far as describing meeting himself. He also reviews his own items on Amazon as different names. These things are now encroaching into my territory and income.

So, my question is this – is it fair, as a PR person, to write fake articles and plant them in different publications without disclosing who you really are? It only seems to discredit the entire online writing industry, which is already folding underneath me. And this is precisely why the FTC is doing what it’s doing to EVERYONE right now. Corporate dishonesty and the rampant abuse of ‘viral’ marketing disguised as organic marketing makes it impossible for people who just love to write… to WRITE.

And that’s disappointing.

Good blogs are closing up shop everywhere because the economy can’t pay for writing anymore, and as much as I love to write, I also can’t write for free. This is why ToyCyte folded, as much as I wanted to continue writing there (in addition to technical issues that rendered the back end totally broken that were not addressed).

The most recent cover of Bud’s Art Books features a cover by the amazing, amazing Peter de Seve.

deseve

At first, I noted a few of the small similarities between this and an ink piece I halted work on this summer, which featured a makeshift group of super-bad-guys sorta posing for a yearbook picture. It was delicately titled ‘The League of Fuckin’ Shit Up’, and I hope that it’ll see the light of day as a print before too long. But I digress.

What struck me was the skull-headed spaceman on the far right, half off-panel. I went in search of more information, because it looked familiar. I was even more surprised to find a year-old blog that featured an extremely similar image to deSeve’s. It is all detailed here, including a polite apology from de Seve for accidentally / subconsciously / unknowingly creating a piece so similar to the original.

That’s not why I went hunting. That skull-spaceman bears a remarkable similarity to MonstreHero’s Intergladiator figure.

britesquad

Under those helmets are skulls. The V-shaped suit, the helmet as wide as the body – striking similarities. I have absolutely no doubt that MonstreHero created their figure completely independently of a relatively obscure illustration, but there’s something in the collective creative unconscious that’s all about the skeletal spaceman.

dr_who
Of course, there’s this guy from Dr. Who.

no_way_back

This amazing science fiction book cover.

Our fear and fascination with space is deeply enmeshed with our fear and fascination with death.

So, I haven’t checked my web stats for ResonantFish.com in about a year. It doesn’t really play a large role in how I organize the site, but it’s usually a good indicator of :

a) What parts of the internet are talking about me.

b) Who is stealing my images.

As it turns out, I’m scoring about 2000 hits per day, which is pretty great considering that I don’t promote myself very much. So,  I decided to take a narcissistic journey into what parts of the internet have been talking about me recently.

- A majority of my traffic comes from a LiveJournal account that I barely touch anymore, instead opting for Facebook groups and being very, very quiet.

- A fair amount comes from On My Desk, an artist blog that I was asked to contribute to a few years back which seems to constantly generate interest. My working arrangements have changed – perhaps I should update them.

- Third on the list of traffic generators was a spam blog about incest, who had stolen a painting of mine and linked it directly form my website. Granted, this painting is is a nude (ex)girl(friend) being carried by a robot, but I don’t feel that they’re related in any way, nor is their relationship sexual. How dare you, weird internet thing! This still only amounted to 235 hits.

PGAR1

- I also found this blog, which likes my stuff. The comments, however, tell a different story. I painted the Justice League painting as a commission that I was never paid for and later had to sell for half of the original asking price, as I’m too stupid to get half up front. It’s far more cartoonish that I usually go, but the images were working on a 3″ x 3″ scale. For the record, Hawkgirl’s neck isn’t all wobbly – it’s just partially obscured by a curve of hair.

- This papercraft blog was kind enough to link to me, and A guy from The Netherlands on NicePaperToys took a photo of a Maplebot in the wild, which is awesome.

- SuperPunch linked to me a couple of times. They link to really cool stuff, so I’m honored.

- Also, traffic from another incest website. After careful inspection, I cannot find what’s been linking to or stealing from me. The only thing that I know is that the internet is a very strange place and that I need to pray.

- Apparently, this MySpace girl has been using my art in her profile, somewhere. Also, this dumb kid with excellent taste.

Fame, fortune, you come in mysterious guises.

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