Monday, December 31, 2012

So long, 2012...

I don't think it's just me that'll look back on this year with a bit of disbelief...

This was the year of the violent massacres; that saw school kids and movie goers gunned down for nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. we saw the dirtiest politics from the GOP... pretty much ever. Teachers were turned into union thugs and the Twinkie was the sole victim of the Mayan Apocalypse. (Well, with a little help from corporate greed at the expense of Hostess' workers.) Over seas the world was turned upside down by wars, assassinations, and more middle east uprisings.

Like many folks, this year has been filled with some very interesting challenges; both emotional and personal. It's been through the good graces of friends and some well timed opportunities that I managed to get through this year, at all. To those of you, thank you so very much; you have no idea how special you've been to me, this past year.

As for 2013? Well, I'm going to have at it with a new sense of hope and adventure. this past year has been like a forge, toughening me up and getting me ready for the new challenges ahead. I'm eager to greet the new year and see what's in store...

Peace and Grace be with you all this new year. In the words of a friend; "don't have New Year's resolutions; have plans..."

Galactic Gun and Stuff return in 2013; to be joined by a new title...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Getting Geared Up

A few words on reenacting from Ariel, the reenactor...
Anyone who’s ever donned formal wear will attest that it’s the undergarments that make a good outfit look great. Some wear corsets, special bras, or the all-important Spandex. 

I wear ace bandages. 

Not to help a dress fit properly, but because I have mastered every odd way to injure oneself. In the past month I’ve twisted my ankle, sprained my wrist, and scraped/bruised my inner thigh (you have no idea how hard that is to bandage). All for the sake of Victorian Christmas cheer. Ever wonder what lets a woman smile through all that? The fact that you don’t know I’m wearing an ace bandage under my thigh highs.

And nothing completes an outfit like a smile.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gettin' Baked

From the Mind of Miss J:

Baking is a science… It’s all about chemistry and timing, only without the Bunsen burner

Given that truth, it is unsurprising that a scientific individual, like IronChuck, would be attracted to it. That said, his approach to baking is surprisingly unscientific. Rather, he comes at baking from a place of complete and utter abandon, with child-like enthusiasm that flies in the face of conventional baking wisdom. (particularly when there is a full six pack of Anchor Steam’s “Christmas in a Bottle” in the mix!)

I read something, once, about baking with children, which is what this experience most closely resembles. There are two ways to do it… 

One is the French way, in which preschoolers learn patience and independence by baking on their own. Sort of like executive function training with more butter. The other way is just to give in and embrace the chaos…

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I like order in the kitchen. Some would call me OCD, or Monica… They would not be far off… LOL… but neat-freakishness aside, there are simple rules to baking that make everything work better, in terms of the end product. When you roll out dough the idea is to handle it as few times as possible, or you run the risk of tough cookies. (tough cookies… heh-heh) Once you’ve rolled it out, you make the most efficient arrangement with your cookie cutters, possible, so you don’t have to re-roll the dough…

That is, of course, unless you ascribe to the IronChuck School of Baking, in which you roll your dough until it screams for mercy, and then proceed to jam your first cookie cutter right smack in the middle, then stick the rest of the cutters on the dough any which way… Then you pick up the dough and smash the Hell out of it, and then roll it out again, repeating the cookie cutter dance (and there really was a dance…) until you eventually run out of dough… This goes a long way to explaining the pained expression he has drawn on the face of yours truly, in the above comic.

I nearly had an aneurysm… He laughed at me… a LOT… and a “Stuff” was born… In the end, the cookies came out just fine, in spite of the man-handled dough… (we actually ate half of them, right out of the oven… the angels’ wings kept “breaking off”…) but that’s just the magic of being IronChuck.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foregin to Love

Years ago I used to be the guy that just tumbled head over heals for a girl, made her my everything, and saw no one other than here...

Twenty years of disaster and heart break later, and one could say I've become a little more cautious. Perhaps just a little too cautious.

Yes, though I hate to admit it, there really is an dating infograph. It outlines my ideal woman, who - that I'm interested in, or have seen - fits with what parts, and the dangers and benefits of each woman in question. And, as of late, I find myself mulling over it quite a lot.

Recent events have made me, for better or worse, put my life on a fast track to finish off what I call "The Pint Can" list; being that it's not my "Bucket List", but more of my get-it-done-before-40 plan. In all my strategizing, outlining, and maneuvering, I've discovered something about myself...

I missing being in love. More to the point, I miss having that special bond with someone where we can share goals and dreams, hopes and worries, the good times and the not so good times. To have and to hold and all that...

Of course, Justin may have a point; all my over thinking and caution might be why I'm not getting anywhere in regards to romance. He may just also be sick and tired of being on hold for so long, too, and just wants me to get it done with and move on.

I'm not sure where, out of my psychy, he picked up his sarcasm, but if you're not getting the joke, then here...

Galactic Gun returns in 2013 with more of The Twisted Case of Station 77; which should make Justin happy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In a Spot...

This is another one of those moments where knowing the context to the quote won't really help you much. In fact, I'm sure it'll make it worse.

Ariel has been working the Great Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Every year the place comes to life as a giant, living Dickens village; right off your fireplace hearth and practically into your lap. Store facades sell all kinds of goodies imaginable; both period and holiday themed. And actors help bring the works of Dickens alive around you all day. There's also a dash, or two, of British history from the times, plus shows, food and drink, and dancing. If you're into the holidays, then this is definitely the place for you.

It's not too uncommon for statements like this to randomly fall out of Ariel's mouth. Probably one of the reasons she occupies a special place on the list of best potential future ex-girlfriends.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stuff: The Splice is Nice

Ah, the age of modern living... and how easy it is to misunderstand it, I suppose.
Great case in point; the recent breakthrough in genetic modification to create a more durable food supply. Researchers had found a way to pluck the gene sequence out of - for example - the cockroach's DNA that controls shell and skin growth and hardness and insert it into the tomato. The tomato would then grown an outer skin that would be a little tougher against the elements and pests. This would have yielded a larger crop that would last much longer; both in the field, and in the store.
Unfortunately the stigma of the source more than alarmed people. While science tried to reassure them that their tomatoes were, in fact, not part bug, activist groups worked round the clock to get the new technology banned, immediately; causing farmers to give pause. For the first time EVER we had found a new technology to produce strong, healthy, lasting crops... and were stepping back from it.
Maybe it's too much bad science fiction? Perhaps, with all the pesticides, hormones, and chemicals we already put on and in our food - which do actually contribute to serious health issues - this was too much for the ordinary consumer to take.
But, the fact of the matter is, altering a gene sequence like that doesn't make your tomato part bug, at all. All it does is tell the fruit to use its fruit stuffs to make a skin like it always does, but just a little like something different.
Since then there's been a huge uproar of activism regarding Genetically Modified Food. Most recently, here in California, Prop 37 was introduced on the ballot; forcing food labeling on anything remotely altered. It was a horrible prop, badly written, and would not only would have caused more confusion over food, but would have ended up costing consumers more money at the stores; where the stores themselves would have had to foot the bill for maintaining proper labeling right at their shelves.
Yet, when it - thankfully - didn't pass, there was a small uproar over its failure. The knee jerk reaction to GMO, as it's called, was so bad that, despite all the analysis on the prop's cost and impact, pockets of even my otherwise well learned and informed friends got more than a little huffy over it. Down right snide, in some cases.
Now I'm not saying we should just all keep eating whatever we're given, no questions asked. There's enough evidence to suggest a link between what we do to our food, and what it does to us. But a lot of that has to do with poor eating habits (For a myriad of reasons.) as much as what's put into our food. And the whole idea of going organic isn't really practical, either. There's 230 million people in the Untied States, alone. You try to get all that food everywhere quickly, before it spoils, and still keep your company afloat.
Sometimes it feels like, to me, that many people want to have their cake and eat it too. We need to feed everyone, and everyone wants affordable food. Yet, to feed everyone, and make it affordable, we need to add preservatives to give it a better shelf life; which nobody seems to want, because they're rather eat all organic - regardless of how expensive and short lived that kind of food can be.
Maybe if all those folks went and planted themselves victory gardens...?
Peace and grace be with you... You are what you eat, so go read a few labels to help you plan a better weekly menu. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stuff: Help, Mr. Wizard!

So, Miss J just had "The Girls" over; the core group of a small acting troupe that I once worked with. Great bunch of ladies, to be sure; if not a little more than... well, a collective force of nature. No, seriously; I fear very things like these ladies on the war path. 
Now, don't get me wrong, it's great, and all, that they think so highly of me as to include me into their inner sanctum (Well, not all the way in.) and feel they can share all kinds of stuff with me. But, hey, c'mon; I'm still a guy, after all. I got guy feelings, and stuff.
I mean, when I tried to excuse myself, Moxie reminded me they had issued me an "honorary vagina card". Of course, Moxie admitted to trying to get her way into Stuff:

Well, about half way through the evening, I had had enough, and needed to get back in touch with my masculine side... which tends to surprise people that I have one. Apparently Don had the same idea, because I found him hiding out in the living room in front of the TV:
You like that word balloon picta-joke in today's comic? Well, that was the second version...
Too good to watse.
Good night everybody.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stuff: Over Bitten

So, undoubtedly, you've noticed that A) updates of Galactic Gun have been, at best, sporadic and B) there's been no Stuff here, lately. Why...?

Well, 17 units at school, having to look for work, again - thanks to the lie of Federal student aid, and over booking myself for projects can tend to wear a guy down. So, yeah, you could say that I, recently, have bitten off a little more than I can chew.

However, life carries on, and as soon as I can get this down, new episodes of Stuff will come flying off the old art table and into the station. Look for new wacky hijinks, and new people, starting in the next week.

That should keep all you Chuck voyeurs happy. Now, go read some Galactic Gun, will ya? I worked hard on that. And don't forget to keep up with what's going on over at The Conductor's Office. Or you can get the latest wire from the line at my Twitter.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stuff: Good Night, Travel Well...

Paul Francis Yaggy
August 1923 to August 2012
Patriot to his country,
Father to his family
Devout to his god
The idea of summing up Paul Yaggy, my grandfather, in a few simple words was no easy task. Indeed, I think I failed. You see, there was nothing simple about my grandfather. With dreams of being a train engineer, he ended up serving the US Navy, NASA, and, eventually, joining the family business as a missionary to the world.
Being about as diametrically opposite from him as I could be, we were never so close, until the end. And though, over the years, we butted heads on many, many things, I am proud to say that this man was my grandfather.
On the morning of August 20th, grandpa passed peacefully - surrounded by family, in his home - and joined his beloved wife, Dorothy. They will be missed by their family. They will be missed by their friends. They will be missed by all those that loved them.
Most of all, they will be so terribly, terribly missed by me.
Grand Central will reopen, again, in September. We, here, at Neverland Transit Authority, would like to thank you for your patronage. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

From the Conductor's Office: Skipped Track

Photo by Bright Idea Photography
Well, there's no axiom, motto, slogan, or heartfelt advice as much true as "if it can go wrong, it probably will".

And, for the past couple of weeks, that's been the case around here, at Neverland Transit Authority. We've had crews out on the line doing their best to keep rails level, while engineers have worked around the clock tending precariously stoked boilers in an attempt to keep things on time, and on track
here at Grand Central Station.

But, eventually, something had to bust. And it busted hard.

Grand Central will be suspending service, and closed, until August thirty-first; when we'll return to Galactic Gun: The Adventures of Justin Bailey and Stuff from the Life and Times of Conductor Chuck. We hope to see you back, then. And, as always, we appreciate your patronage and look forward to serving our ridership, once more.

Charlie Irons
NTA Comics

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stuff: Educated

Yes, once again it's time for another quick dropped edition of Stuff; as another school crisis has surfaced. And this time it's a dozy.

You see, in 1999, I had to basically walk away from my education. The reasons were numbered, but, essentially, I had run out of time and money; as I had to pay out of pocket because, back then, my school told me I didn't qualify for any sort of aid to help me finish. So, just four classes shy of a degree in Animation (Which I didn't know at the time how close I had gotten.) I entered the work field as a building maintenance technician.

Little more than a decade later and, because of the state of the economy, I've had to rebuild four times, until, finally, in 2008, I began to be phased out of the Facilities job market, all together; replaced by outsourced contractors. What little work I could find no longer paid enough to keep a roof over my head, let alone pay any bills, buy food, etc. Thank the California economic mind set for valuing boom and bust style business over dependable, stable job models, I suppose.

So, at the beginning of 2012 I made a choice. And, after some research, found I could finally get the aid I needed to return to school, get an Associates Degree, and start a real career and be able to earn a living and plan a future. Of course, my goals in art had changed, and nearly all my classes were now completely out of date, so I switched gears to the more practical Graphic Design program, and headed back to get educated.

But I couldn't have known how I was going to be punished for those classes from a dozen years ago. The system has assumed, right off the bat, that I am trying to bilk it, I suppose. Because of the old credits, I've been placed on permanent probation; where one false move spells utter disaster. If I so much as miss a class - or even withdraw, my aid is revoked completely. probably forever. Worse, yet? My financial aid funds have been held back till, literally, the middle of this quarter. And, will be continually held back every quarter.

Why? Not for my performance. I came back into the school system with a 2.87 GPA (B-). And, in my first quarter back, took two A+'s and an A. In fact, I don't think I've ever worked so hard in school in my whole life, before. I'm not just going back to school, here; I'm trying to, basically, save my life and future.

I've had to scramble to save this quarter; what with my funds being held, not once, but twice, now, it's cost me the ability to get another "perfect A" quarter (Been bluffing my way through since I can't afford the texts), as well as an internship at the school. The toll on me, financially, has been huge. And emotionally? Devastating, to say the least.

A dozen years ago no one would help me get an education, so I was forced to go to work. Now that the new economy is wiping away my job, I'm pretty much forced to go back to school; regardless if I were to remain in my current job path, or break out into Graphic Design. But the system is trying to push me out every chance it can get.

My school has become the biggest obstacle to my education.

Why? In a world that's so dependant, now, on its citizens having some sort of degree, or certificate, would they actively work to make it nearly impossible? Don't we need well paid workers, in every field, to help us compete in the new global economy? Isn't it important to have financially stable people keeping our economy turning; aiding in its recovery? What's the point of punishing those who try to return to school in order to do better in life, and contribute to society?


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stuff: You snooze, I lose...

Kim and I are known for some pretty memorable dates. Of course, it helps if you're well rested and your schedule isn't completely packed from sun up to sun down.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stuff: Single-arity

In the beginning, there was nothing...

Well, not quite. You see, in the beginning there was the singularity; an infinite point in space containing all things. And, for some reason we don't know - and may never know - that point, pretty much, expanded into the universe, through a series of heat ups and cool downs; where stars formed, died, and cast their materials into the voids to become the very stuff that you and I come from, today.

So, maybe, in a poetic way, it is the struggle of all things to return to that one state; where man and woman merge to form of one mind and body, a most perfect union. Perhaps, in some spiritual way, this is the drive of all life; to be as one with all things as it was in the beginning.

Of course, whether sage, or scientist, this was two single Sagan clones waxing the philosophies of quantum time and space over pints in a bar in downtown Burlingame, California. That's not, exactly conducive to getting our merge on with the universe, if you know what I mean.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stuff: Overjoyed

I have a cousin who, once a quarter, or so, throws this big second hand sale at the county fair grounds where she lives. It's a big to do; second hand sellers of baby and toddler supplies hand off their merchandise to her to sell for commissions. Running four days, it's often very busy; packed with shoppers, kids, and families of many walks of life.

This year I ended up doing a little work for her. Well, let me tell you, what an adventure. And I have come to a single conclusion...

My choice to not have kids isn't really all that wrong.

Sure, once I thought I'd settle down, find the right woman, and help birth a couple new terrors into the world. But, then, my life got a little too busy, and a little too adventurous, and a host of other things that pretty much told me that, yeah, kids... not gonna happen. Ever. I mean, I can't even imagine what it'd be like to slow down, like that, and root myself to one place for that.

But, before you get all accusing of me being all down on marriage, and all, best take a look at the part of the above comic you can't see; what's going on with our disheveled couple's other hands...


Okay, okay, that's enough of the mushies. I've got committed bachelor things to go do. Peace and grace be with you... and your families; however they may be made.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stuff: Gas in a Box

As half the dynamic duo that is Leather and Tweed, Grant is the perfect foil to my, otherwise, grandiose mental meanderings. He's a media engineer, with a background in theoretical physics, who not only knows what I'm talking about, but also how to turn any beautiful scientific theory into a serious Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment. Like above...

Yes, I've been trying to come up with an adventure series with characters based off of us. The trick is creating something that won't take a thirty page dissertation before each page of comic. It's still a work in progress...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Stuff: America Say Knock You Out

This piece started out about my struggle to get back into school, with the aim of getting my A.A., getting a better job, and being able to contribute more to the collective recuperation of the Unites States' economy. Or, more to the point, how much Uncle Sam doesn't want me to do this.

Getting aid was like being a trick poodle being made to jump through crazy fiery hoops. The aid, when it comes, comes about a month after you actually need it - forcing me to dig a bigger financial hole for myself than the aid was supposed to help, not create. And, the terms of the loan - or loans, if you're forced to get more than one, are generally stacked to favor the lenders, and designed from the word go to leave you in horrible debt. And, my attempts to keep this manageable have been met with road blocks and hurtles that, as previously mentioned, end up creating more debt, and more need for aid than I originally had.

But as my frustration grew, working to get back a little that I've spent the last twenty years paying into, I couldn't help but notice that, in this new century, a lot of the policies of our nation are starting to move this way. From crazy draconian laws that let police strip search us for as much as a J-walking ticket, to out of balance tax codes that have me paying 25%, but a wealthy CEO 14%, or less, to corporate personhoood, the push to strip women of rights and standing, and the general message of fear spewing from our federal law enforcement agencies, I'm getting the hint; America doesn't want us thinking, being responsible, accountable, or even remotely empowered.

I guess it's to be expected. After all, we're pretty much ruled... Yes, I said ruled... by a wealthy elite. Why would they want their work force - who are the ones that provide them that wealth - an able minded lot rather than the disposable resource we're becoming?

I don't want to sound paranoid, or like I have a Guy Fawkes mask on stand by; because I'm not and I don't. But, in the early 80's, our social and science fiction had a lot of stories where everything was commercialized, marketed, and sold to an oppressed, dumbed down society. Thirty years later, and fiction is - terrifyingly - becoming fact.

Education is the investment we make for our country, for tomorrow. Any farmer will tell you if you don't mind the soil, you'll eventually lose your crop. So, it should come to no surprise that America continues to fall far behind other developed nations at a rate that follows the continued cutting of education. Add to that the political environment that has been demonizing college, trade schools, and higher education, as well as science, and...

Peace and grace be with you. Go out and fight for all our tomorrows!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stuff: Too Close Shave

It's going to be a long week of getting carded for beer...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stuff: Whiskey in the Tub-O

Ah, the photogenic duo of Pat and Heidi...

Many, in America, might not think much of former president Jimmy Carter. But, he did give us back the right to home brew; sparking the micro-brew beer revolution. This, thought, did not repeal the ban on home distilling. However, you can buy an aging kit, where the distilled whiskey is already done, and all you do is add the barrel and a little of your time, and patience.

And a bathroom fixture.

Pat and Heidi are dear, close friends made back from on old contract gig with a travel agency. Both have the gift of a great eye for photography, as well as being talented artists and crafters. It's there work that's featured on NTA's last CD give away. You can also see more of Heidi's work at her Flickr gallery.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stuff: Drunken Sage...

At some point, I'm sure Kris had some wise wisdom about something, or other, that she saw going on in my life. But, somewhere between her observation, and her intervention, there were a few drinks.

At least she meant well, that's for sure. And it's not like I haven't seen my way to give much needed advice by passing by... or through... a bar, or two, in my time. It is, of course, important to note, as I Tweeted, that drunkenly saying "I'm not gonna be a character in your comic" is a sure fire way to end up a character in my comic.

Please don't consider that a challenge...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stuff: Big Brother, My Employer...

Okay, so... WHAT. THE. HELL?!

As we've been discussing, here on Stuff, I've decided to return to school, get my degree, and start doing this whole legitimate artist thing. But my financial aid is only going to go so far. I'm going to need to go and get me some part time work in order to make up the difference.

No bid deal, right? I mean, I used to do retail; even a little management and third key type stuff.

But, just to get a job stocking shelves at one particular art store, I had to fill out a one hour online application that included 260 personality questions and a ten minute timed math and logic test. (More shocking if you've ever been to this store and seen who actually stocks the shelves.) It took my a half hour of the same nonsense just to apply to a big box store tool retailer.

And, yes, in every case - for each of the ten, or so, applications I've filled out, now - I've had to authorize a full background and criminal check, list where I've levied over the last seven years, and sign off I'm prepared to submit to a drug test.

And all this just so I can work a part time job for near minimum wage putting junk on shelves and running a register.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stuff: Getting Schooled

First off, sorry that this isn't quite a complete page; it's a last minute substitution. That episode will appear next week.

Those following the adventures of IronChuck, here on Stuff, know that, recently, I made a big life decision. And so, I quit my day job, up ended Grand Central Station, and moved the lot of everything up the peninsula so that I could attend school to, finally, get my degree; now changed from Animation, back in the nineties, to Graphic Design - armed with pre approval from FAFSA for the aid I would need to go back to school.

Then my old college transcripts were plugged into the equation.

See, it turns out, fifteen years ago, I was just four classes from a degree in film animation. Not that I knew that, mind you. No; time, money, and unexpected tragedy forced me to leave school in 1999. Suddenly survival became my top priority. So, I had to go get a full time job.

Now, in 2012, I'm trying to get back into school; to get a degree, and move up from the dead end life I've found myself in. There's just one problem. FAFSA now believes I have, or am so close to, a degree that they've decided I no longer qualify for aid.

So, I saw a school counselor, made an educational plan, and petitioned FAFSA to let me return; as my classes were, in some cases, over fifteen years old and completely outdated from the current animation market. Literally. There was no CG animation when I was in school; it was still emerging. And no one in America produces traditional cell animation, anymore. It's either all over seas, or, in some cases - like Disney and Warner Brothers - has been totally shut down.

Then, yesterday, I got this email:

I am writing to inform you that your Petition For Over The 'Average'
Timeframe has been reviewed and is in a pending status. The Financial Aid
Director will not be able to make a decision about your appeal until you
have registered in the classes listed on your educational plan for Spring
quarter 2012 (GID 50, GID 54 and MUS 8). Please contact the Financial Aid
Office as soon as you have enrolled in your Spring classes so that we can
finish processing your petition.

I've replied with my concerns and issues, but have yet to hear back. Understandable, as the office is jam packed with students desperately scrambling to also secure the means to go back to school to do better for themselves. And I know FAFSA is also actively screening applicants to weed out those folks who spend their life abusing the system for a free ride.

Still, all my understanding isn't doing me any good, as my life is now in a bit of free fall. Not that I don't have back up plans and workarounds now moving into place, mind you. it's just annoying that, to get a better education, to be a better worker, and help revitalize the economy, I have to fight through such utter crap.

But then I just keep remembering that the most beautiful of stones of the earth and sea are made by the churning of the roughest of waters and the greatest of pressures.

So, soon, I should be a freakin' diamond.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stuff: Awtta be in Pictures

I may have created a series of monsters...

Lately people have been actually auditioning for a spot in Stuff. No, really; people have been suggesting things for strips. Or, better yet, after a funny happens, someone looks at me and says; "Bet that'll make a good 'Stuff', huh?" Like here.

And then, when I asked for a quick head pick, they sent glam shots...

Eventually I got something to work with, and their comic will come up in a couple of weeks. But there's two lessons to learn, here; one for me, and one for all those in my little world.

1. I need to take better, private, secret notes on my friends' funnies and how they look.
2. If you are in my world, you're gonna, sooner or later, end up here. It may not always be the way you'd hoped...

Carry on, my wayward son.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stuff: Pounding out Love

It's bad enough that little turd didn't get the hint, last year; little Cupid is at it, yet again!

For those of you lucky enough to have found themselves sheltered from it, we have, once more, found our way to the Hallmark Day of Forced Affections; more commonly known as St. Valentine's Day.

Whoopie. Freaking. Doo.

Surprisingly not as cool as it looks. Well, okay; maybe it is a little.

And, once again, I'm on par for this year; on and off with an ex, blown it with a really smart woman I probably shouldn't have been going out with, anyway, and in the cross hairs of an obsessed one time flame.

Ah, screw this noise; I'm heading off to the bar for a couple of cold Hamms and commiserate with break up karaoke songs...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rest Stopped...

Some sixteen years ago, because of life, I had to walk away from my higher art education.

In the ensuing years I've made the best of myself as I could. I got into a field of work I was good at, and managed to make enough to get by. Of course, in these times and economy, that just wasn't going to be good enough, anymore; especially for a guy who had maxed out his job level, and wasn't doing much with his art, due to lack of an education.

Inspired by the recent events of my disastrous stay at the video game company, I came to a simple conclusion; I need to go back to school. That's not to say it wasn't a huge descision; especially given the state of the American economy, right now. I asked everyone, everywhere. I even asked my fellow redditors! (Thanks, guys!)

I know things have been quiet here, and at The Conductor's Office, while I've been getting everything together, and ready, for April; when I go back for the degree I started some twenty years ago. But, once everything is in place, I'm sure things will pick up, here, too.

For the first time in quite a while life feels like an adventure, again.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stuff: Gasps of Wrath

From the mind of Miss J: Wine... For some, it's a hobby... for the French and Italians it is synonymous with water... for me, it's that glass of perspective after an aggravating day at work... But for some, wine is a terrifying world of foreign languages, complex flavors and societal pressure that leaves them tongue-tied... I've seen people, in restaurants, order merlot or cabernet because it was the only thing they recognized on the wine list and they didn't want to make a mistake.

People tend to think of wine as something only enjoyed by polo-shirt wearing (with the collar turned up, of course,) pinky extending individuals named Spalding, or Chad (ok, maybe not Spalding.) In actuality, it has historically been just as common in the farmhouse as the palace... Granted, what you would get in the farmhouse may have removed the enamel from your teeth, but by all accounts, most peasants were minus a few teeth anyway, right? In any event, these days young urban professionals pack themselves, cheek by jowl, into snooty wine bars because wine is cool, at the moment... If you listen closely, you'll hear things like "jammy, fruity, currant, leather, herby, spicy" or even "dirt." One time, and I am totally NOT making this up, I tasted a red that reminded me of pencil erasers... Suffice it to say, I didn't have a second sip of THAT... But honestly, when I began my quest for winey knowledge, my vocabulary, and my palate, were pretty much restricted to "yummy" and "not so much..."

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret... Here's the thing about wine... There is no wrong answer... It's all completely personal. If you taste a glass of wine, and you taste cherries, but the next guy tastes pears, you are NOT wrong! Everyone's palate is different. What one person thinks is the best wine on the planet, the next guy will taste and think "meh..." Just like some people like salty and some prefer sweet, different styles and varietals (types of grapes) will appeal to different people. My roommate likes what I refer to as "slap you in the head monster cabs" while I tend to prefer a spicy syrah, or chianti...

Also, price is not an indicator of whether or not the wine will appeal to your particular taste. I've had $6 wine that I thoroughly enjoyed and $95 wine that I would only use to clean car parts... (okay, slight exaggeration, there, but it really was NOT worth the money... thankfully, I didn't get stuck with the bill on that one!) The long and short of it is that you don't need Robert Palmer... or was it Peter Parker... wait, no... Robert Parker, that's it... to tell you what good wine is... He can only tell you what HE thinks good wine is... not the same thing.

My advice to the novice... if you know absolutely nothing about wine, or the different types of grapes, just get out there and start tasting! At the store, pick bottles because you think the label is groovy. When you're out and about, ask your waiter what they recommend. I find they are generallly happy to assist. If they're really on their game, they will ask you what sort of flavors you like. At the very least, they will have been told which wine pairs well with what food you have ordered... Keep track of what you like, and what you don't. After a while, you'll know what you're doing well enough to survive even the scariest restaurant wine list.

So long as you don't start turning up your collar or extending your pinky...

Miss J wears many hats at Neverland Transit Authority's Grand Central Station. And when she's not serving as our random Brakeman (Editor, manager, etc.), or helping refine characters and plots, she's serving as NTA Comics "Ironchuck Wrangler". She is the source of much knowledge and learning.

Don is a fifth degree Moo-Jistu master and expert in the whirling butterknife...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NTA Comics is for The Net...

Today we take a stand agains SOPA and PIPA. Today is the day we vote to protect free speech and the emerging new frontier of communication, commerce, and activism. Today is the day we show people where we stand.

Today we vote for The Net. Will you?

Click the badge to sign the petition, stay informed, and find who, in our governement, wants to take away your First Ammendment Right just to benefit some Hollywood execs for a few dollars in their pockets.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wreck of the 13th

I am not a superstitious man by any stretch of the imagination.

That being said, the week I had leading up to today should have been a warning.
And yet, here we are.

While the boys are busy cleaning up, I'm going to work to get something out this weekend.
Hopefully, if 2012 is going to start this badly, it should only get better, right?

At any rate, I may have also inadvertently just created another one off comic idea...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

So long, 2011!

There's no doubt in my mind that, looking back years from now, we'll still have much to say about 2011; both personally, as well as culturally. This was the year of political uprisings. The first battles of the quiet class wars. Media scandals rocked the broadcast news world. A space program was scrapped. And our own congress' approval rating dropped to a mere 5%; the lowest, ever. EVER.

But, for most of us, life trudged on. For me, I gave my look a revamp; growing out some facial hair, and putting the kilt into storage for the foreseeable future. I'm still shocked that so many people, nearly a year later, are still telling me they'd like to see it make a come back.

After a long illness, my grandmother passed away in April. She was, in so many ways, the lynch pin of the family. I have to tell you, it's been odd, not having my greatest debating rival around to argue all the things we'd bash about; retiring, after an exhausting bout, to sandwiches, smug in the knowledge each of us was totally right... and that we had, somehow, saved the world.

Though her passing hit us all, it had the most profound impact on my grandfather. With the foundation of his life now gone, he's quickly succumbing to his affliction; Alzheimer's. I've been staying with him these past two years, and it's been tough to watch a once celebrated NASA engineer slip away; one piece - one memory - at a time.

Shortly after, I left Classic Vacations and accepted a job with Crystal Dynamics; home of the mega hit Tomb Raider. All I can really say is that it's either been the worst mistake of my professional career - such that my "career" is, or a hearty challenge that I can only hope to rise to meet.

NTA Comics, as always, hit some rough track through a lot of this. We had a couple of shut downs, a few delays, and a personnel change, here and there. But, we're pleased to bring on board our first official engineer! Annie comes to us with a variety of experience in a couple different art fields. Her first couple of pages are impressive, to say the least. I'm excited to see what she's going to add to the already colorful world of Galactic Gun.

Both Grand Central, as well as The Conductor's Office saw a lot of new traffic, too! Of course, a lot of it is probably due to the link bombing I've been doing. But, hey; can you blame me? Look for big, new things coming out of the station in the next couple of months.

And, lastly, the epic tales of the dating misadventures of IronChuck... Eh: I hear the priesthood is lovely, this time of year.

Whew... what a year. Can't say I'm sorry to say it's over, but I am excited for all the opportunity it's left behind. Peace and Grace be with you all in the new year! The winds of change blow strong from the valleys of promise. We look forward to your ridership in 2012, and all the new adventures yet to be had! 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Railroaded with updates...

Over the holiday break, the station staff, and I, set out to make the final upgrades to Grand Central; getting new valves for the boilers, leveling rails, etc. There was a whole laundry list of things that needed updating around here.

Of course, sometimes, old beams don't support new fixtures, as we've found out.
(Or, in this case, printers, scanners, and anti-virus software; even if the box says it does.)

Looks like the station will be closed an extra week, as we get these hardware bugs sorted out. In the meantime, don't forget to stop by The Conductor's Office for the usual helping of fun and frivolity.

Thanks for sticking through it with us. New comics should return by Friday, January 13th.