Sunday, August 31, 2008

Blog news

Hey folks, sorry I haven't posted anything yet on the issues that I mentioned previously, but I'm currently working on what I hope to be a special treat for you. I'm working on a short video of what I do to make an editorial cartoon (this one is going to be on the selection of Sarah Palin). I want to go through this step by step so that you see what goes into making one, and I really hope you enjoy it. Anyway, I'll discuss everything that I had mentioned previously tomorrow in a Labor Day special. Have a great holiday!

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's a girl!

In a move that proved to be a startling as I expected Barack Obama's for VP to be, John McCain picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Out of left field, folks. Or should I say, out of right field.

I'm still not sure that it's going to be enough to make me change my mind on voting third party this year - but it's certainly eye-opening. I'll be commenting further on J-Mac's pick this weekend after I examine Palin's record some more. I also owe a fellow blogger an explanation of what I meant when I referred to Obama's "spotty past". I should have clarified that some in my initial post, and I will do so this weekend, amigo. I'm also going to work on an edtoon related to all this. See folks, this is why I LOVE election seasons!

In the meantime folks, enjoy your weekend. Your LONG weekend. :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Barack Obama needs to do to win

If it hasn’t been clear by now, then I’ll go ahead and say it here: I won’t be voting for Barack Obama. The reason mainly is because he disappointed me. The thing is, I shouldn’t have been disappointed, because he’s a politician, and it is the very nature of politicians to say what people want to hear. He said that he wanted to make a change in Washington, and for a brief moment, I believed that he was sincere. But once I found out more about his past history and how he’s voted on issues in the past (and not just on the abortion issue), I saw that he’s more of the same as far as politicians go.

But even though I won’t be voting for him, I know many, many people who will be voting for him. I can dig that, because this is America, and there is little that is more American than having different viewpoints and still getting along. And even though I have my likes and dislikes about the various candidates out there, I also very much enjoy the game of figuring out what this or that politician needs to do to win. It then occurred to me that I should bring that up on my blog. So with that, and because the Democratic convention is currently going on, I’ll start with Obama and what I feel that he needs to do to win. Next week when the GOP convention is going on, I’ll talk about John McCain.

Obama’s strengths

•Young, handsome, and articulate. He gives awesome speeches, and he knows very well how to work a crowd.

•Is very knowledgeable about using modern methods of communication, such as Facebook and text-messaging. This helps him to connect with young voters, which helps to convey the image that he’s one of them and not an old fogey like McCain. He has that magic touch of being hip and cool to the younger crowd, which is not easy for many of today’s politicians to do.

•Despite his youth, he has demonstrated a savvy toughness that has allowed him to outlast even well-seasoned Democrats such as John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. No small feat by any means! This trial by fire should serve him well for dueling with John McCain.

Obama’s weaknesses

• A spotty past, some of which at face value seems to conflict with the messages that he’s been giving during his campaign.

• A voting record with too many “present” votes. A vote of “present” simply says that he was there when the bill was being discussed without saying what stand he took on the issue at hand. Obama probably did that in order to avoid having any "controversial" votes on his record, but ultimately it gives people who review his voting record - especially potential voters - very little to go on.

• Has occasional difficulty explaining his positions on issues, which is surprising given how well he gives speeches. For me, a classic example was when he tried to define when he believed life began. Rather than give the “beyond my pay grade” comment, he should have said what he really believed – namely, that life begins at birth. At that time, he was thinking too much like a politician, instead of what response made the most sense.

Strategies for Obama to win

• Concentrate on making more speeches, which is his strength. This also gives material to post to YouTube so that others - especially the young crowd - to return to at their leisure.

• Continue concentrating on the young voters. This has the potential to benefit us all if he can get the notoriously fickle young crowd to participate in the election process, whether or not they vote for him.

• Work on learning how to state his views on issues succinctly and with clarity. Yes, it’s the nature of all politicians to speak in ways that allow “outs” in case a given issue loses its appeal, but he can do better than what he’s been doing now, which at its worst looks awkward and clumsy.

And one last thing Obama needs to work on: he needs to make sure his messages and those of his campaign staff and supporters avoid “loser talk”; that is, statements that convey doubt or gloom and doom on whether he can get elected – including what will happen if he isn’t elected. Imagining yourself in second place assures that you’ll finish there.

Obama needs to concentrate on the here and now and stay positive, and he needs to convey that message to his staff and supporters so that they convey that optimism as well. He did that very well at first, but began to show doubts later as the campaign against Hillary lasted longer than he or anyone expected. Save the loser talk and post-game analysis of what went wrong for when he actually loses, and not before. Do I believe that he can win? Yes, I do, but he has work to do to get it done.

Coming next week: John McCain.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New poll: What sports do you watch the most?

New poll, folks: What sport do you watch the most? I'll give my views on this issue later. In the meantime, I think it'd be pretty much unanimous that Cuba's Angel Matos deserves the biggest jerk award for kicking a referee for disqualifying him in a taekwondo match for taking too much injury time in a bronze medal match at the Olympics.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama selects Joe Biden

Barack Obama has made his VP pick, and it’s Joe Biden. This was a mild surprise for me. It’s not a total surprise, as Biden had been mentioned as a possible pick for at least the past week or so. However, I was expecting Obama to go with a pick that would continue his historic candidacy by selecting someone other than another white dude. Bill Richardson was my choice, as he’s Hispanic. The African American/Hispanic ticket has “historical” written all over it, and the media would be more than giddy covering it.

Or Obama could have gone with one of the women that was being considered. Other than Hillary Clinton, that is. I felt that for Obama to have nominated Hill would be to strike a Faustian bargain; and he would be getting two demons for the price of one – and they’re married to each other, to boot! From the sound of it, Hill wasn’t even in the radar. I think Obama saved him a world of trouble avoiding Hill.

Which brings us to Joe Biden. He’s not a bad choice – I just feel that Biden was too safe a pick. No guts, no glory, as they say. According to at least a couple of articles, Obama picked Biden partially because he hopes to court the Catholic vote. Now, there are still some Catholics who won’t vote any other way than Democrat – even though the Democrats support views that are inconsistent with Catholic views. This blind loyalty is very depressing, as it means that the Dems won’t be motivated to change their ways if they know that they can count on enough Catholics to vote for them.

I stated before on my blog that I want the Dems to change back to the party they once were – the one of FDR and JFK. For one brief second, I thought that Obama might be that person – until I saw his voting record. The change Obama wants is not change at all, but rather, the same – as in “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The selection of Biden is one example of things “staying the same”.

For me to have believed Obama’s promises of change, he would have selected a prolife running mate. But I knew beforehand that it wasn’t going to be the case, as he has one of the most solid prochoice voting records in Congress; including having voted against the “Born Alive” bill, which would have protected the unborn that were in the process of being aborted who managed to be born anyway.

In truth, Obama selecting a prolife running mate would have been truly startling. It would have meant that he was that serious about wanting change, as such a selection would have been a great example of “reaching across the aisle” to help foster the very change that he had been speaking of in his campaign so far. Alas, it was not the case, as Obama only reached out for someone on his side of the aisle – no change, none at all. Same-o same-o.

If John McCain ends up selecting a prochoice candidate, then that will be it for me. I’ll be voting third party. He can’t claim to believe that life begins at conception and then turn around and select a prochoice running mate. It would make him a hypocrite. I’ve never been comfortable voting for the GOP, and they’ve largely given lip service to the prolife cause anyway. For McCain to select a prochoice running mate would prove that the GOP had been leading us all along.

I’ve been asked before why the prolife issue is so critical anyway that I make it a “make-or-break” when it comes to candidates. The reason is this: We can’t enjoy all our other rights unless we are born. Sure, some of us are not born in ideal circumstances. So what? To decide to abort just because someone isn’t born in “ideal circumstances” is a specious argument. What are “ideal circumstances” anyway? Let me relate my own origins, and perhaps we can get a better idea of “ideal circumstances.”

I was born to a single teenage mom living in poverty. Would you call that ideal? Not only that, I was the SECOND son born to that mother. If anyone could have been aborted, it would have been me. And yet, with a lot of help, my mom raised us, and those boys went on to not only finish high school, they also both went on to finish college. One even went on to get a Master’s degree (namely, me).

I am living proof that the circumstances at birth do not have to be a guarantee that this will always be how that child will live. My brother has a high-paying job and is married happily to a wonderful woman, and they have three beautiful children – three children that may not have ever existed as the gleam in their grandmother’s eye had she given in to her fear years ago (and she admitted to me years later that she often cried herself to sleep worrying whether she was doing a good enough job as a parent) and aborted my brother.

Our circumstances could have held us back, but they did not. Instead, they made us stronger, and they made HER stronger. She herself won’t tell you that she did it alone – she’ll say that she had a lot of help. My brother and I grew up in an extended family, and while we were poor, we never knew it until years later.

It’s this kind of environment that I believe espouses the true “old school” spirit of the Democratic Party – not its current manifestation of fearing the future and thus aborting it – both literally and metaphorically. Long ago, FDR said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That’s what Obama should have considered when selecting his running mate, and that’s the opportunity that he passed on to instead grab hold of the very fear that FDR had warned us about. This to me demonstrates that it’s not the same Democratic Party that I grew up with, and thus, it’s why I can’t vote Democrat anymore.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Man catches big fish - with Barbie fishing rod

You've all heard the old story about the fisherman lamenting "the one that got away" - the fish that was "this long". Well, this guy landed a whopper of a fish - but perhaps he might have wished it got away, because he was holding his granddaughter's Barbie fishing rod while she went to the restroom. While she was away, he got a bite, and landed the monster pictured below. Since it's now news, he can't exactly denied that that's how he caught it. Kinda takes a little away from the macho tale that he could share with his buds. At least he's got a heckuva fish to share dinner with. ;-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

John McCain's "Duh" moment

I literally laughed out loud when I saw the headline for this article about John McCain's uncertainty about how many houses he owns. I don't know if this is a so-called "senior moment" or a "duh moment". Either way, it must be nice to be so wealthy that you forget how many houses you own.

The abortion issue again

It's interesting that my previous comments on abortion have drawn out some discussion from others I know in person and online. It's like it's the first time that they've heard that I'm prolife; even though I've discussed abortion on my blog before - a few times, actually - and that it's posted in my profile to the right!

Yes, I'm prolife. I believe that life begins at conception. I honestly don't see what's wrong with that. What's wrong with believing that the unborn are human? Why are others trying to make to feel guilty, unenlightened, or "anti-woman" just for supporting the unborn's right to live? When I ask them that, they just shake my head, probably thinking that I'm some poor, deluded fool who can't see things the way they are. Well, maybe I DO see how things really are.

What really depresses me is that some of these people stopped talking to me. I know of at least 3 people who did that to me. Before they knew I was prolife, it was all fun and games; after they found out I was prolife, their e-mails to me dropped off, and eventually I stopped hearing from them altogether. Open-mindedness, apparently, means different things to different people. But you know, I can't change how people think about me, so I stopped worrying about it a long time ago. That's something you have to learn to deal with when you write opinion columns, and when you have an opinionated blog.

The one good thing about this is that I got a true measure of someone who was on her way to becoming the 4th person to drop out on me because they found out I was prolife. But she didn't. Once she realized that I'm the same goofball that she's always known, she gradually came back to me. I'll always remember that, and I'll always appreciate that from her. She's still prochoice, but at least we're still talking with each other. She's also who I keep in mind whenever I discuss the abortion issue with a prochoice person - sometimes they do listen to prolifers.

So folks, if you want to drop out on me because of my prolife views, do so. It's your choice.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Barack Obama's artful dodge on abortion

I must be slipping, because someone had to tell me what Barack Obama had said during a debate on abortion: "Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade." Obama is pro-choice, and he even said so on that debate. Thus, stating that he's pro-choice is ALREADY a specific answer on when he believes life begins: He believes that it begins at birth. I think Obama made a mistake trying to sound like he's trying to have it both ways. If he equivocates like that, it makes it sound like he either doesn't really support the pro-choice view, or that he's trying to say anything to get elected. Since he's pro-choice, he should argue from that perspective. Simple as that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Russia invades Georgia edtoon (not mine)

The edtoon above is an example of GMTA, or "great minds think alike". I had this very idea in mind for an edtoon, but somebody beat me to it. Still, it's funny.

Here's the URL for that cartoon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Texas Rangers baseball team loses wild one

In a game that probably displayed the Rangers' season in microcosm, they lost to the Boston Red Sox 19-17 last night. Nope, that ain't a typo. That is the score.

If you saw the game last night, you saw what us fans have gone through all season: nuclear offense (best in the majors) and nuclear meltdown pitching (worst in the majors). Our offense can score 17 runs in a game, and LOSE. Just like last night. We have a modern day Murderer's Row, and even that's not enough to overcome the pitching in way too many games. If we had decent pitching - no, even halfway decent pitching - then we'd at least be in the lead for the wildcard race. But nope, we have the worst pitching in baseball.

Last night was a perfect example of this. In the first inning, the BoSox scored 10 - 10! - runs. David Ortiz hit two - two! - 3 run homers in the first inning! It looked like it was going to be a long night for Rangers fans, but the offense really gave the BoSox a run for their money. They found out just how nuclear this offense is. They took the team on their backs, and damn near won the thing. Fortunately for the BoSox, our pitching bailed them out. In the 8th inning, we had a 16-15 lead, and our pitcher gives up one run to tie, and then another for a 3 run homer. It's like the pitching is not on our side - it gets so bad.

It used to be that the Texas summertime heat was blamed for why the pitching was so bad, but the local semi-pro team Fort Worth Cats have won 3 championships in a row and could win a fourth this season. They play in the same summer heat. And the local college baseball team, the TCU Horned Frogs, have managed to win their conference championships as well. Nope, this is all management's fault. They have an annoying habit of trading top pitching prospects for over-the-hill veterans for - their batting! On a team that has enough bats!

Yeesh. And you thought the Cubs have had it bad!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Singles ads

In case you're wondering, that's not an active link. It's just an image that I pulled from the side of my Yahoo! mailbox. You see ads like the one above all the time. Maybe a small part of you even wanted to click on the image, but didn't because you knew you'd be bombarded with pop-ups and spam so bad that your anti-virus program would quit on you for being so stupid.

I don't know how it is for the "big name" dating sites like e-harmony, but I'm sure even they are likely to bombard you with spam. That's why I call such ads "spam-bait". You look at that image, and it gives you a teaser like "Peek at private photos". What does that mean, exactly? Is it going to show her in her underwear going through her underwear drawer? Is it going to show her in the shower? That's probably what you're supposed to think. Otherwise, who other than some desperate schmo would click on such spam-bait unless they thought they'd be getting such a "return" on their risk?

And even if that woman was available, you think she'd be interested in regular joes like us? I mean - DAMN! - look at her! That shapely physique- that hair that you just want to run your fingers through- those "come hither" eyes... it's enough to melt any average American dude! But someone who looks like her would want some super stud. Are you a super stud? Although I'd like to think that I am, I know that I'm not. And yet, that company posts her picture there so that us poor dumb slobs can fantasize - hoping against hope that a hot chick like her might actually want us, even though we know that we have a better chance of winning the lottery.

Logic would also tell you that she might not even be real. Not that the woman herself doesn't exist, but rather, the way she looks. The odds are that she has been Photoshopped extensively to have no faults and to maximize her hotness. Yes, those of us who have thought this through will see past this well-executed advertising ploy. And yet, enough poor desperate dudes are out there that they fall for it - and the company stays in business while spamming the poor guy's mailbox like crazy.

But now you're forewarned, and as that saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. Your best bet is not to deal with such fantasy women, but instead try to work with the real women around you. They may not look like the women in the ads, but then the women in the ads don't look like that, either. It's called life, folks. It may not be as pretty as it's portrayed in the ads, but at least it's real. Go out and get a dose of reality, folks. It's out there waitin' for you.

(when the heck did I become a guru on life?)

China Olympics edtoon

It may not look like it, but the image below is an edtoon:

I thought of this idea when I was watching the Olympics yesterday, and whenever they tried to show shots of the scenery, there was always this oppressive, ubiquitous haze. The Chinese government must be annoyed beyond words, because they took steps to help at least reduce this problem. It also makes you wonder how bad the pollution is when they AREN'T trying to reduce it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Stem cell research

The above diagram shows how stem cells can be created without using embryonic cells. It is from this news article.

Catholicism has gotten tons of grief and criticism over being opposed to embryonic stem cell research. Often the criticism went along the lines that Catholicism was "opposed to scientific research and progress" and words to that effect. This, despite the fact that NONE of the embryonic stem cells have worked. NONE! Embryonic stem cell research been high on promise and zero on delivery. And yet, embryonic stem cells were sold and sold hard as the wave of the future.

In the meantime, the non-embryonic stem cells have shown the very promise that embryonic stem cells are alleged to have. Whenever you see news reports about the "latest discovery" of stem cells healing or developing, it's been from non-embryonic stem cells. So why was the embryonic cells bill of goods being sold to us? The liberal in me smells a corporate con job with connections to some influential persons connected to politicians, whose reelection campaigns were given handsome donations.

It's hardly a secret that these things happen. In my state of Texas, Gov. Rick "Goodhair" Perry last year made Gardasil vaccinations required for school age girls, this being put through without the state legislature or anything. He was so obviously whoring for Merck that Merck had to make a sort of apology because of the public embarrassment. I feel that such goings-on are happening with the push for the non-performing embryonic stem cell research.

But Catholicism seems to be proven right all along. And I'm glad to see that. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm Catholic. Sometimes it takes a strong will to fight the good fight, and some brave, hardy souls to see it through. It's good to see that such people and groups still have to courage to stand up to the high-pressure sales tactics of today's snake oil salesmen.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Voting edtoon - and my 500th post!

With this blog entry, I have reached the 500th post milestone. Just thought I'd mention that. To see what I posted on my first entry, click here. By the way, that evil squirrel is still out there - waiting. Watch yourself. Maybe for this month, I'll post my Top 5 Favorite Posts or something. I'll let you know.

Below is my next editorial cartoon. This is of my character Alicia from my old college comic strip, Academia Nuts. If I can figure out how to make one of those webcomic formats, I'd like to have an updated version of my characters of their experiences post-graduation. I tried using a blog format, but I don't like how it works for a comic strip. If and when I get that webcomic started up, it's going to be called Along Party Lines - because it's going to discuss political and social issues. Over the semesters, Academia Nuts eventually morphed into a political/social commentary strip anyway, so APL is going to be a continuation of that.

Alicia is my liberal character, and she was also my favorite, because her passion made for many funny and interesting storylines. For this edtoon, I used brush again and the Computone tint. I also added color and used a font that is normally for Manga art. I like that font so much better than my own handwritten lettering. Lettering has always been my weak point. I'm embarrassed whenever I look at my earliest strips, because the lettering is so bad. That font is what I'll be using now instead of my handwritten stuff.

Anyway, my intent for the edtoon below is to make a t-shirt out of it. It's also to encourage people to vote, as well as being a little promo for my character and the strip. Let me know what you think of it. When I get the shirt made of it, I'll let you know how it turned out.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Madonna edtoon

Hey, gang!

Attached below please find my first edtoon in a while.

This is in reference to the news story that Madonna's brother Chris wrote a tell-all book about her. As I was Googling that story, however, I also saw this story about Chris' denial that Madonna had any hand in writing the book. Hmm..... To be honest, I wouldn't put it past her. By the way, the costume she's wearing above is based on an actual costume that she wore - so I wasn't making it up; she really did look like that.

I've noted in the past (not in this blog) that associating with Madonna can be a career-killer. Let's look at the short list of who's associated with Madonna in the past: Dennis Rodman, Sean Penn, Rosie O'Donnell, Britney Spears, and now, Alex Rodriguez. Before Madonna they were cool and on the rise; after Madonna they went insane and their careers took a dive after that. It's too early to tell if that's going to happen to A-Rod, but the early indications aren't good. It was nice knowin' ya, Alex. Let that be a lesson to you, folks - Madonna bad. Unless you don't care that your career will go south faster than a cop snarfs a donut, avoid Madonna like the plague.

The edtoon above represents the first time I've tried inking one of my toons with a brush rather than a pen. Brushes take some getting used to, and I've still got some work to do before I master it. But now that I'm used to it somewhat, I think I'm getting the hang of it.

The edtoon above is also representative of how my edtoons have changed since back in the day that I did them for my college newspaper. I wish I had that computer tint in the past. That's the coolest. For those of you who want to know the software that it's from, it's from a series of how-to artbooks titled "How To Draw Manga: Computones" - but be sure to get only the ones that say "Computones", because they're the only ones that have the disk with the tints. So far, there's only 5 Computone books, and from the looks of it, that might be all, because I haven't seen them in the bookstores in a while.

In case you're curious, I didn't buy the books to learn how to draw in Manga style, because I just can't get the hang of that freaky Japanese style - especially those triangular-shaped heads and the humongous eyes. They look like the heads of praying mantises! Here, look for yourself!

See the resemblance? I think the Manga characters descended from praying mantises.

I just got the Manga books for the Computones. They're much better than the old Zipatone films that were used by edtoonists of the past. The old Zipatones you had to cut apart and in the shape of the area that you were trying to tint. It could be a real pain in the butt. But these Computones can be installed into Adobe Photoshop, and all you do is select the area that you want tinted, select the tint you want, and then it will plop that tint in the area that you want it. Couldn't be easier.

I'll try to post edtoons more often, especially because it's an election season. Next time I'll post my first attempts at drawing Barack Obama and John McCain.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A heartwarming story

I was going to work on edtoons this weekend, but this story is too heartwarming to not bring up right now. The woman in the story should be declared a saint - like RIGHT NOW. Be sure to also watch the attached video.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Brief respite to get my edtoon legs back

I'll be gone for the weekend to get back into the habit of drawing editorial cartoons. Don't fret, though, because I'll be back on Monday -WITH editorial cartoons! Back in the day, I used to crank out edtoons like Amy Winehouse cranks out bad habits, but I've gotten out of the rhythm of working on edtoons.

When doing edtoons, you have to hit a rhythm to generate the idea so that you are working on the art and getting it out there before the news that it's referring to becomes out of date. Edtoons have to be done in a hurry "while the iron is hot" - which is why many edtoons you see look like hurried scrawls. The good edtoonists learn how to draw in a hurry; it's basically a matter of having that edtoon mojo going of where you get the idea, start drawing it out, put some touches to it, and then put it out there - bambambamgo.

Hopefully after this weekend I'll get my edtoon mojo back.

Have a great weekend, folks.