Friday, July 1, 2016


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll pay, when tomorrow, tomorrow comes today.

I love Jamie Hewlett's work so I thought I'd leaf through my Gorillaz CDs' booklets for inspiration and this ended up being a live-ink study of a bunch of Noodle's outfits from the three Gorillaz CDs I have (the first two LPs plus G-Sides). The longer I looked at the G-Sides cover, the more I was intrigued by the color scheme they used, and thought I'd try to match it in Copics, and then all this happened, as they say.

So this is the scanned version of the piece, but as I suspected yet again, perhaps my scanner isn't up to snuff, especially compared to my camera...I had to adjust the colors extensively to get closer to what they look like in real life, but it still just has quite a heavy red bias. Colors aside, the capture itself is comes out noticeably blurrier, especially compared to my trusty camera.

But speaking of my camera, this is Cammy's capture and it really does look a bit better, if I had to choose one (and I did). Once again, the camera gets closer to the actual colors I used, particularly on the skin, which here are closer to brown than red. Given how much the camera trumped my scanner here, I am a bit in shock--I thought my scanner was a tank--but it looks like my camera really is the stronger fighter.

I haven't scanned lines in a while, but I believe that and other BW work will have to be my scanner's destiny from now on, though these lines are via my camera. The only issue would be crispness, but that hasn't been a problem in the past. I wonder if the scanner is faulty and I never realized it...but I've had it since I came to Japan and don't recall it being poor before. Maybe the second move damaged it--I noticed the bright light doesn't pop up on the initial scan pass anymore for the preview capture (at least I think I remember it emitting a bright light during initial sweeps). Maybe I'm just not scanning correctly or something.

In any case, here is the process breakdown. A couple notable steps, this is my first time drawing on Copics. For the background, I knew I was going to live-ink it, so I thought I'd draw over the base color to prevent any rando ink swiping, though in retrospect, the G-Sides cover has even the blacks tinted red, so for that effect, I probably should have let the Copic tint the lines, too. But there was no smearing on the finely detailed areas so it wasn't all downside. Similarly, I realized dabbing rather than brushing color over finer inked areas like the jacket inlining helps prevent smearing.

The second notable thing is that this is the first time I've used colored pencils on a Copic piece. Not sure I'm doing it right, though, again, trying to mimic Eisaku, but I don't feel I'm getting as much punch out of them, especially on white. This is also the first time I've Copic'd over Copics, and using the pale red wash as a base was a little scary since some Copics seem to "spoil," or make this acid-ish texture emerge, and this indeed happened a bit on the grays of the railing, but after it all dried, it ended up looking fine, so crisis averted!

And lastly, I wasn't sure about putting in the white ink rim, but the G-Sides cover had that effect, so I went with it, though I do wish I had a thinner white pen. Mine's pretty good, but I am finding it can get a touch runny and after drying, it can end up washed out a bit. Owing to its thickness, it can also be hard to get to go precisely where you want. It also has a pernicious habit of clumping shut or getting streaks right in the line, so your carefully planned lines can get randomly thrown in danger (see the bottom right of today's piece). Still gotta crack open my Deleter white ink, maybe that's the answer...

To close, I thought I'd document the ever-important skin tones this time. I like trying out different mixes, and this was today's gamut, applied in left-to-right order. I try not to lean too much on "white" skin, and I've been collecting darker skin tones, to be sure, but there's definitely no shortage of expressive "white" skin available (heck, pretty much all the flat-out "skin"-named tones are "white"). The other photo is of a few of the colors I used for the rest of the piece.

And that is how we slow jam the news.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016


My gosh, I love these guys...I call them "my idiots," but I love them. I saw them walking around the neighborhood, and had to stop them for a pic.

I was rereading some old comics from wiki-walking myself on Deviant Art after updating my ancient gallery there, and my gosh, I loved that series. Laughing out loud to my own stuff, how sad is that?


Monday, June 27, 2016


Wanted to draw one of those bucket hats, and then the rest just kinda emerged.


Friday, June 24, 2016


Don't worry if the streets are rough, and don't worry if space is worse.
Just worry if I'm not here with you.

Another experiment in watercolors and digital hybridizations, with narrative implications, as well.

This is the piece simply color-adjusted from the scan. However, I tried something new here: usually I just do auto-contrast/levels, but for this one, I tried biting the bullet and doing it by hand, and I kinda feel it looks a lot better. Imagine that.

As alluded to last week, our watercolor piece this time was on pure pencil lines, though again like last time, these lines are from 2014, but I do actually still like this vaguely Eva/Tenchi-inspired space suit. I wanna say I drew this after a Sukiya throwdown.

Here's the step by step, again using the same methods as last week, though (not pictured) much more digital processing afterward to give it some punchier colors, glow effects (learned from Algen!), and a more worked background. There was more liberal digital overpainting, too, again in that "image-making" philosophy rather than "watercolor-making."

And then some close ups. Good times...kinda want to splurge for the full-set of watercolors now, since after the next piece I did, I realized I'm just a bit limited in which colors I can finagle out of my little starter kits. I bought the three-piece intro "seasons" mini-sets, and while I'm happy with what I can do with them, I definitely need some stronger and softer colors. Though I'm sure a real watercolorist could Jedi-out all kinds of colors from what I have to work with.

The name of the piece, by the way, comes from Benji's nickname, and that "Cadet Death" sounds like "Cadet desu" in Japanese, which basically means "I am Cadet." A pun! The logo I made is inspired by some designs I made for HPB, all of which use the character 本, which means book, but for the purposes of that story was the JP counter for long cylindrical things. But that's another story.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016


"So, like, I'm thinking prolly photo op over there, yeah?"

Probably one of my favorite drawings recently, certainly of Vicky.

I drew it with my Signo .28 and decided to test their reaction to Copics, and the lines held up excellently.


Monday, June 20, 2016


Testing out my new T Copics with the Zebra Signo .28.

There was some smearing in the .28, but I like the texture it gives, like it's painted-on wood or something.

This was a warm up study from a still of Paul Cheon from Marshall Sutcliffe's Marshlog, which is chock full of excellent reference.


Friday, June 17, 2016


Green like dat moolah you ain't gettin', kid.

Seriously, though, tried getting into watercolors and coincidentally also into actually scanning color work rather than the usual photo snap. To be fair, my camera has repeatedly blown me away with how trusty it is, and I think it might, might be better than my scanner...!

Having always wondered which would win in a fight, I decided to investigate here (scan at top, cam on bot), and the camera does actually seem to be a bit closer to how the picture looks in real life; the scanner shows it a little more red rather than the brown it actually is. Plus the camera seems to be a little crisper...but I can't tell for certain. The main downside to the camera is that I constantly have to battle to capture the image straight-on (hence the varied sizes of the WIP shots) and properly lit (since all the light around here save my tiny desk spot light and my giant window during daylight hours tends to be more yellowish rather than white).

Anyway, today was really all about testing out watercolors (and color pencil touch ups), and fortunately I had an old piece inked up already, so I could cut straight to the coloring. And further fortunately, I diligently photographed the steps so I can "rewatch the tape" later to see what I did myself. I did watercolor earnestly a while ago, but kinda forgot whatever I managed to learn, though it's now coming back to me.

So these are like research notes, I guess: I started with gently layering in the tones I wanted, and placing in light-to-dark in the usual circular weavings and soft swipes for larger areas and subtler incorporation, and then used my waterbrush dealio to work the colors together piece by piece. I'm going mainly off of instinct since I don't have Internet most of the day, so hopefully this is in the ballpark of proper watercoloring.

And then I basically just repeated that process till all the colors were in. I then went over like Eisaku with some color pencils to bring some warmth/balance to the colors, and finished everything off with white Signo highlights. I should note that the line inks were with my G-Pen, so I noticed they can run into the colors a bit. My next watercolor piece was on just pencils, and it came out quite a bit cleaner, as expected. After that, I have to test my Signo .28 and my Copic and Micron pens, too. I assume the Signo's gonna get gnarled up. Wonder if Copic markers are wise...I'm sure there's some chemistry involved here I should be aware of.

Also worth mentioning, for the final PhotoJam, in the spirit of study, I embraced the concept of "image-making," so I touched-up the piece quite liberally in Photoshop, including moving some stuff around. I used to think this was something like cheating, but if I consider it not a watercolor piece, but an image I'm making--that is, a collection of pixels to display online--then I would like to see what I can make of it if everything on the paper was simply the base layer, like pencils to inks. Or paper to pencil! Taking the production further, I also used a KNKL-informed gradient maps and other effects, too, including some over-painting.

I feel like I learned a lot on this piece, even it isn't that great to look at (the date says I drew this two years ago!); the mechanics involved were quite worthwhile and I'd easily be down to give the image-making flow another go.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016


I dunno, I feel the main costume calls for short sleeves, but I like a long sleeve alternative.

Keep going back and forth. Just like Vicki vs. Vicky.


Friday, June 10, 2016


Fred Roman concept from Coverage Draft.

Just something we're boodling with.

I like that Roman sounds like roamin', also has the core of romance, even man. Close second is "Broadsheet" or "Times..."

Anyshway, that's it for now.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016


So pumped to find this pen, the finest ballpoint I've seen yet, coming in at .28, called the "uni-ball Signo."

It rips with such a rich and beautiful line, just love it for sketching. The only downsides are it's not a click pen, so it's mildly annoying having to keep track of the cap, which is admittedly not too bad; and secondly, as I later discovered, more troubling is that this supreme ink has a tendency to smudge a touch even days after drying, which is a just a bit dismaying since I keep this pocket sketchbook in my pocket, where the sheets of paper tend to press into each can see some light smearing even here in this fresh photo...

Still a lovely pen, and virtually ideal for traditional sketchbooks not being pocketed around, just have to make sure not to land hands on your lines during the drawing, but that's what guard paper and planning is for.


Monday, June 6, 2016


Z is on the road with a new haircut or just an amnesiac hair stylist, to kick off my new pocket sketchbook using my new mini-set of color Sarasara ballpoints. These are great. But the pen selection gets even better...


Friday, June 3, 2016


Internet's back up, but only kinda.

In any case, I believe...

We're in the ballpark with V.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016


If all went according to plan, I'm now in my new place, back in Tokyo.

Do I have Internet yet, o automatically queued update? Who knows.


Monday, May 30, 2016


Moving tomorrow...

...hope I can find a pizza place that delivers free empty canvases with every pie.


Friday, May 27, 2016


A little fan art of Conley Woods, from Magic: The Gathering and the enigmatic hip hop collective and sometimes podcast known only as "MTG Potpourri," granted most of its mysteriousness lies in its perennially irregular update schedule and lack of hip-hop-based activities. But never mind rando updates, today is about the Father of Cons, a veritable "Confather," if you will, and no doubt Conley would.

Conley Woods is of course that colorful jack of every trade, and is actually long rumored to have allegiances to several superlative secret societies after his brief but unconfirmed stint at the CIA under the codename "Agent Boats." But loose lips sink ships--even ships made of Woods! So what do we actually know of this weekend enthusiast? Well, everyone knows he is a Magician and some know he is an internationally competitive dancer, but few know about his intensely compact but outstanding career as a standup comedian. His rise to comedic heights is the stuff of legend, or perhaps more accurately urban legend, based on how little he addresses it nowadays, but he seems happy enough to have put it all away for the much quieter life of designing and playing games and dancing. Thus the question becomes: what ever happened to comedian Conley Woods? Well, like most things, it all starts in New Jersey.

Just kidding, nothing happens in New Jersey. It was New York. It's always New York. First, you should know that Conley Woods had done some standup throughout college, and in his first year after graduation, he made a point to test his mettle at every New York club that would have him. Naturally he started at the requisite ghettos of 3am spots performing to (against?) black-out drunks and the more than occasional hobo, but he eventually worked his way to being a go-to opener and middle in just a few short months.

It was then of course that life forced him to choose one direction in sync with whatever decision would keep him from being exiled in some rinky-dink O-Town, so he understandably decided to shift full attention to the more reliable career available in Magic. But because of how well he had done in comedy in such a relatively short time, it was only natural he'd keep that backstreet buoy floating in mind should he ever exhaust his Magical energies. And sure enough when he did tap out from Magic, he found himself floating back to the clubs.

But there was so much more to it than just talking at people in front of brick walls. He enjoyed another round of extremely rapid ascent, winning over crowds, club owners, and seedy Cellar dwellers alike, sure, but that led to a considerably shinier brass ring to reach for. If there were anything that might jeopardize his return to Magic, it was when he eventually found himself sitting in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, waiting to be seen for an audition for SNL. His big break.

Owing to all the buzz surrounding him, he was told he would be the very first guy up. Never one to play loose, Conley arrived an hour early just to be safe. But by 5pm, a good three hours later, some doubt began to creep in and he wondered if he had somehow gotten the date or time wrong. No, the lady at the front assured him, he was slated to be seen that day, just needed to take a seat and wait. In retrospect, nothing too alarming there, SNL is infamous for messing with auditioners' heads, and they were probably purposefully having him wait in order to disorient him cuz reasons. So he made the best of his wait time by mentally going over all his planned bits, characters, and impersonations, as well as what advice he'd received, as if he hadn't had these on loop since learning of his audition shot ten days prior (illiterate coupon guy, PTSD retired vet, White Barry White, just ignore them and plow ahead).

Most crucially, he took time to reflect on his then current hiatus from Magic and wage the usual tug of war between self-assurance and self-doubt as to where he was mentally, existentially, entropically, adverbially. He convinced himself that sitting there, in a limbo of being simultaneously early and late for an audition that he was realistically severely unlikely to get, based on how few people actually--

"Oh! Haha, my mistake, you're right," said the inappropriately peppy desk lady pointing at her computer, "says here you were supposed to be up first, like three hours ago! I guess you can go in next."

"I've been waiting here for like infinite hours."

"Yeah...I know," she said with just a enough pain in her voice to register that she was aware of how a human being might be off-put by these developments, but enough sustain to communicate the futility of any further distress. "Anyway, you're up! And don't worry if Lorne doesn't laugh, he never laughs." She walked over to the studio door nearby and gently motioned for him to head inside.

Conley Woods sat frozen in his seat to process the past few seconds before finally towering up to full six-foot-eight height to trudge slowly into Studio 8H, as if each effort-riddled step required some amount of thought. He could see it was almost pitch black inside the studio except for a spotlight on his mark. The tiny lady closed the door behind him. And then it was pitch black inside the studio except for a spotlight on his mark. "When you're ready, go ahead," a voice called out. And that's all we know about what happened that day.

Conley Woods doesn't talk about his SNL audition much, and always laughs it off instantly whenever it's brought up on Potpourri, so I guess it didn't go so great. I mean, he didn't get the gig, we know that, so perhaps it was that abrupt end of seemingly boundless momentum that took the wind out his sails. Surely he was thinking more fondly of Magic again by then anyway. So imagine my surprise when I saw an ad for a comedian who called himself "Boats" playing Shinjuku!

In Japan, most comedians go by wacky stage names, so the use of an alias wasn't too surprising, but typically acts perform Japanese standup via manzai, comedy duos, because Japanese people apparently have difficulty understanding the concept of someone musing humorously to himself. So that's what first caught my eye as peculiar--a solo comedian. Not unheard of, but think of how unusual it is to hear of a comedy duo in the US, it's like that. Anyway, I wasn't able to get out to the show, but I clipped the ad, and the review in the arts paper said it was great, but a little too close on US-centric references. Sure people speak English here, but we all lose touch with finer US intricacies over time.

Anyway, it was shortly after this micro tour (I think he played Osaka, too, as a part of a larger expat tour) when Conley Woods returned to Magic, so I can only assume he was just on the "meh, try Japan" plan some US talent do as they sorta figure out what works for them. Maybe it was just a final hurrah from his frazzled manager, hit with the sudden notice that her star client wanted out and back into Magic. I'm not sure how smoothly that went over. But in any case, at least Conley Woods is back to more Magical pursuits, podcasting, and hopefully doing whatever makes himself happy. I guess sometimes it just takes a circuitous journey to find yourself.

Isn't that special?


Wednesday, May 25, 2016


A torn alter of a goblin, using my four-color ballpoint pen.

The impetus was that I wanted to see if I could render skin and metal with this janky, limited pen, and to draw Ib's hat again, which I enjoyed the first time around.

Anyway, I screwed up on this, but I did learn from it. Even on the technical side of it, since the pen lock stopped working early on, so I had to figure out how to maneuver it color-stem by color-stem without the stem bending out from under the pressure of my fingers. So there's that.


Monday, May 23, 2016


Like a favorite song, I listen to this address, "Aliens, love -- where are they?," by Yalie John Hodgman '94, on occasion, which certainly inspired today's art. The rhythm and sentiment are just like one of my favorite albums, and it conjures something in me. It has that sense of strange-familiarity that I would get late at night alone in the JE Buttery at Yale, usually past Saturday Night Live and just drifting to sleep on the music channels that played all the weirdo unheard-of bands or the local New Haven community access stations running indie films.

Ordinarily, I was drawing whenever I didn't have to study, but I made a conscious effort to park in front of those public TVs, even during my summer session in Saybrook, primarily to invite these late night episodes of alienation to occur in the hopes I'd find something or someone out there to capture this weird energy with, but in the end I was just seeking that odd emotion of being an alien, a speck in the universe. Maybe I was hoping to use that feeling in art down the road, I didn't know for sure--the goal was just to experience it; I was content to figure out its use later, if ever or at all. I still can feel that decimating energy whenever I watch old SNLs or listen to certain bands late, late at night when everyone around here is asleep.

In my most recent listening of John Hodgman's talk, for the first time toward the end, the speech struck me with such a pang of sorrow. Maybe fear? Regret? Worry? I know I felt an absence. Or at least I did for a brief second.

Back to drawing.


Friday, May 20, 2016


A little fan art of Patrick Chapin, of Magimatical celebrity. I don't ever really play Constructed, but I love how passionate he is about Magic on his Top Level Podcast and in interviews, and I distinctly remember thinking before he had a podcast how great it would be just to be able to hear him talk about Magic at length on a regular basis. In fact, I listen mainly for his energy while I'm drawing, since I can't actually play Magic out here in the middle of Nowheremura, Japan. I guess in the same way I listen to Mark Rosewater's podcast to imagine what it must have been like during the early days of Magic or on the inside of the production side, I listen to Patrick Chapin to imagine what it must be like playing contemporary Magic. I don't know how sad that is, but meh.

In any case, Patrick Chapin is known for having an unconventional background, and I find inspiration in that. And he's not just a great ambassador of the game, but of humanity itself. Almost certainly the coolest example of that was when he made his controversial trip to the USSR earlier this year to represent the United States in "The Greatest Battle of the Cold War" as we approach the seventh decade of this seemingly endless standoff. Granted I currently live in Japan, but my heart still beats red, white, and blue, so it was an honor having him represent us in the face of General Secretary Pyotr Alexandrov.

What was so compelling was that Comrade Chapin was hot off a Worlds win in 2015, which of course the Soviet Union had boycotted after a perceived slight at the last Pro Tour of that year in October. There in Milwaukee Magic Grandmaster Dmitri Aristov cemented his status as undeniably one of the greatest players in the world with his third Pro Tour win--yes, the third PT win in as many years from the former Rookie of the Year who attained Grandmaster just two years into his career (a feat bested only by the now lamentably retired German Juggernaut)! Politics aside, some say he's maybe-possibly the current best player in the world. Politics not aside, General Secretary Alexandrov felt the Soviet player's decisive victory on US soil wasn't aptly celebrated by the "US-centric Magic media machine" and made a huge show of announcing the Soviet Union would boycott Worlds in December.

The boycott stung because, as is no secret, Hall of Fame Grandmaster Patrick Chapin had been dreaming of a Worlds victory for as long as the contest has existed and he has made it extremely clear that there is no greater feat in his mind than to beat the absolute best in the world for the title. This year in particular, he's had something of an implied rivalry with Dmitri Aristov, who is known for his brutally brazen proclamations whenever he does deign to issue statements in "that poor language," meaning English. Of course he chalks up his blustery tone to his "imperfect understanding" of nuanced English, though it's rumored his English is considerably stronger than he lets on, and regardless, the infamously stone-faced player certainly knows how to keep silent when he wants to. And yet Dmitri posted a series of quite dismissive and arguably offensive twoots in anticipation of the impending showdown with Chapin at Worlds 2015, before the Soviet government disappeared the posts mere seconds after Alexandrov's boycott announcement.

All year it had been the expectation that Chapin would be facing down Aristov at Worlds to "settle" the Cold War once and for all. General Secretary Alexandrov even intimated that he would not be opposed to having the set influence his willingness to sit down with President Obama for talks in his final year in office, given their mutual admiration of Magic and the oddly appropriate nature of the two Worlds front-runners being from each nation (both had already perfunctorily qualified pretty early in the year).

Needless to say, despite Wizards' PR "machine" lauding Chapin's long-sought Worlds win, the victory felt hollow to him (and the online Magic community, who definitely spoke more freely on the topic). In his annual year-in-review podcast, the usually quite upbeat Patrick Chapin confirmed his conflicted emotions after the Worlds 2015 win. Always diplomatic, he made it clear he "meant no disrespect to [his] Worlds opponents, who [he] obviously hold[s] in the highest regard." To put that a little more concretely, this "respectable" field included seven Grandmasters and five Hall of Famers, on top of the current PT scene's iron-clad ringers, prodigies, and winners.

But he (and countless commenters) wanted him to face precisely one guy come finals time. "Whatever we think about Aristov's country's politics, nobody can deny he is the guy to beat right now if you want any title to mean anything," he said, "and it's extremely disappointing a government official had to get in the way of something I've wanted personally and professionally for so long." He conceded to his longtime co-host Michael "Michael J." J. Flores that the victory "counts," but in the same way a mana-screwed victory counts. With a clear reluctance in his voice, he concluded, "it's a technical victory."
"The best kind of victory," Michael Flores noted, but Patrick didn't share the laugh.

What made that podcast episode break a million downloads, though, was just at the close of the show, when he announced he had privately petitioned for and successfully received official governmental permission to enter the Soviet Union (in the heart of Soviet January!) to challenge Aristov to a one-on-on, three-day marathon of TSP Solomon Draft, MMA Sealed, Vintage, Legacy, Modern, Black Magic (or "Sam Black's Format" for old-schoolers) and Standard. General Secretary Alexandrov could have easily denied Chapin entry into the USSR, but ever the stoic gamer (and retired Magic pro himself, just shy of Grandmaster), he couldn't deny the value of "educating" the West with "proper" Magic. Obviously there's been only extremely limited cultural exchange with the Soviet Union as tensions have escalated, and it's beyond remarkable that the government would permit the travel at all. Some papers criticized the clearance as inappropriate, especially given how many concessions the Kremlin demanded for the series to fire, while others applauded President Obama's commitment to sportsmanship in the face of any attempts to stack the odds.

Frustratingly, among the many the terms of the event were that "for the integrity of the games," it would be closed to most media (obviously the Soviet coverage was clearly biased and read like five-cent fiction, that's not a terribly radical claim at this point), and it is definitely a shame that basically nothing has emerged but that famous "Ice Grip" photograph of the players shaking hands to begin the "Cold War" series. They also insisted on strictly written coverage--literally Brian David-Marshall for the west with a legal pad and whatever pens he happened to have on hand at the time since security would not allow him out of their watch to pick up any more supplies. Gotta love that dedication to keeping their man safe from hostile Soviet Staples employees, which as we all know, are just covers for the Red Mafia. On the bright side, one cool result of all this was when BDM posted a twoot of his notes from the event, and there's a bunch of intermixed sections of blue and black handwriting, even faded ink towards the end of one pen's lifespan on Day Two, since he forgot his pen case in his hotel room. I think at one point he had to rely on just carving into his paper with penpoint after exhausting all his ink, and then running over that section with pencil like an engraving. Pretty resourceful.

But the most incredible loss was not being able to see recorded footage of the event because according to BDM, it was a grueling five-game nail-biter in each format, all coming down to Standard to settle the whole thing. No surprise in retrospect, but in his podcast before the trip, Chapin actually had predicted Standard would be the deciding factor of the event, and he also correctly suggested Limited might be "interesting." First of all, who knows if it was truly impossible to get even one non-Soviet person on the judging staff--none of whom had to be named since this was technically a casual event--but regardless, the judge-administered Limited pools remain a mar on the event, particularly the Sealed, as it seemed like the packs broke curiously well in the homefield player's favor. I thought it was interesting how the encyclopedic BDM caught that the interpreter they gave him was also Aristov's former PR agent, who had announced his retirement after Aristov's twoots got deleted--sorry, "disappeared"--presumably to be eligible to cover the showdown as an "objective, unaffiliated assistant," only to rescind his retirement and rejoin Aristov's staff literally the day after the Red version of the coverage went up...

Anyway, I was proud beyond words of how well Patrick Chapin represented the US and the competitive spirit and sportsmanship in general. He didn't even have to challenge Aristov at all--he won Worlds--let alone agree to all the surprise conditions they dropped on him after he landed. BDM himself noted that tension was extremely high at the event, "like the world was watching and weighing down on these two Grandmasters," and the staff seemed to be doing whatever they could to try to unsettle the US player. The "welcome dinner was fabulous and overflowing with meticulous, conscientious attention to detail down to the lush, Grixis-colored floral arrangements on Patrick's side of the massive dining table, with the Blue Orchids being the most prominent element," BDM wrote, but "the generosity ended after dessert." I would think this was some mind-gamesy stuff to rattle Patrick Chapin a little by lulling him into a false sense of comfort before slamming him with the cold shoulder soon after.

To be fair to Dmitri Aristov, none of the psych-out shenanigannery came from him, and General Secretary Alexandrov had claimed his own staff would be providing full support during the event. One telling example was when the interpreter said something in Russian after seeing Patrick Chapin rubbing his hands together before the Modern portion, which for some reason the interpreter took to mean Chapin was cold and wanted more heat in the room. That's fine, it was January in the USSR after all, but BDM says they cranked the heat until the players began sweating! Aristov had plenty of water, but it would take some twenty minutes before they would refill Patrick's tiny glass of (lukewarm) water! "Aristov had an insulated thermos of ice-cold water at all times, which itself was sweating as much as the US player, and staff made sure it was in constant full view on the Soviet side of the table." Also frustrating was how the interpreter would insist certain things were "not important" or otherwise fail to convey select information ("Golly, you mean Patrick wanted ice water and more than half of the cup filled? You don't say! No, you literally do not say.").

To his credit, BDM says, Patrick remained cordial but focused on the games throughout. He kept collected in his suit, but obviously the event was taking its toll from as early as Day One, the 0-2 Limited portion. The Soviet press was kind enough to release a photo of Patrick mid-game taken from the "Heat Wave" day, so the poor guy's drenched in sweat and probably masking some amount of frustration at how tough the packs came together for him. It seemed clear they wanted to get him started on the wrong foot.

But what stuck with me is how razor-sharp focused he is on the game in the photo. You can tell he's watching and considering everything; his expression is utter concentration, as if this were his Worlds finals. And I love (more so than usual) that he's still wearing his suit without a stitch loosened! Told there'd be no visual coverage, still wears a suit to show respect to his opponent and the game. You can even see a wide-eyed staffer in the background who's trying everything he can not to look like Patrick Chapin is not some living weapon of Magic artistry at work. The lone Logic Knot in the graveyard even tells you exactly which turn it was, based on BDM's report.

Anyway, regardless of whatever mindmoiling they or someone (*cough* Alexandrov *cough*) attempted, Hall of Fame World Champion Grandmaster Patrick Chapin went to the USSR for a couple games of Magic, crushed, and wore a suit the whole time. I have the Japan Times' story on the game but they always dump a bunch of text all over the images, which is supremely annoying. Fortunately my mom sent me a copy of the New York Times with the Ice Grip on the front page, which really does the image justice. And Colbert's episode on the series was hilarious (ah, the polar bear part!!).

And then on top of all that, despite the general quiet from the Kremlin after the event, aside from a nominal state congratulations to the victor (viktor?), apparently General Secretary Alexandrov is indeed scheduled to meet with President Obama. How about that! Yes, there have been meetings like this in the past, but considering how much they both revere Magic, I would think having such a US victory on Soviet grounds should do well to get talks rolling in a positive direction. One of the reasons I'm reluctant to go back to the US is how intense it has gotten there in recent years between the US and the USSR, but I'm optimistic Patrick Chapin has done something far greater here than merely win some casual games of Magic.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Vicki Vasquez (concept) from Coverage Draft.

Just something we're noodling with.

Fun Facts: I thought back to my editing handbook for rando and somewhat obscure-er editing marks.

Easter Eggs: I used some tragic, old (actual) emails for the "newsprint" background. Considered just running the text straight up, but thought might as well make them a little harder to read (I tend to write long emails). The background has an allusion to that Bill Hader story where Lorne Michaels asks him, "Why now?"

It's deeper than that, but that's it for now.


Monday, May 16, 2016


A live-ink sketch of digi-rocker Scott Howell from Bright White Lightning, from their Looking Glass vidjo.

I super-seldom ever left campus during college, but I remember I got to go see him and his old band perform at a local(ish) club called The Space once or twice, and it was good times. I got to ride a car there and everything. By "and everything," I mean that's it, there was no winged pegasus or anything after the car. I don't know why I wrote that part. Just to fill the rhythm of the sentence, I guess.

But the car part, that's notable because I was rarely in cars all throughout college, even so today, though I've actually driven longer in Japan than I did in the US. But I haven't needed a car for years, and if I ever need to cover a long distance, the train usually does fine. So basically, it's a little weird being in a car, even worse because I still panic about which is the "right" side of the road. Plus since I scarcely see movies, I tend to freak out whenever I see video from inside Western cars, cuz I start thinking they're going to crash! And after all this time without a car, I remember one night I had to take a taxi and I actually found it pretty jarring: you mean just like that, this personal mini-train takes you and only you just where you wish to go? What luxury.

Howell was the first person I recall to describe New York as a "walking town," which didn't really register with me as a Californian, but now makes sense here in Japan. A lot of things in Japan don't make sense. For instance, Digirockermon sounds like a Digimon, but it isn't, I checked.