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.