Monday, December 31, 2018

So Long, 2018...







     First off, I'm hoping that I will never have to revisit the name, or the woman, Kimberly Murphy ever again. So, let us be done with that, then.

     Oddly, though, there have been a few places in this past year where my damaged heart... the metaphorical one... has been put to test, and found still full of love and compassion. And even some desire. Though it got... complicated... it was good to feel it, again. And that dirty four letter word "love" finally fell out of my mouth at someone, AND I MEANT IT, LIKE IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE. Holy shit, that was scary.

     I've officially returned to the stage with Black Flag Productions, as a pirate, and now with the expansion into Western Reenactment. I suspect that the characters that inhabit those worlds will likely find their way here, this coming year. But at any rate it's good to be entertaining crowds and hearing the laughter of kids, again. I am sorry I ever left, but luckily Jeff Campbell, who I founded the group with a couple decades ago, is an often surprising and amazing man. We've mended, and the group has taken me back in like I never left... because they won't ever let me leave, again. (More will be coming about Black Flag Productions as the company infrastructure builds up.)

     All the shows! I went to six big concerts this past year, and a mess of little shows here and about. I don't think I've ever had such a good time. And, as of this publishing, I already have tickets for a show later in 2019; the return of Weird Al! Meanwhile, I have been enjoying the hell out of the tease follies that is burlesque. And there is a lot to see all around the San Francisco Bay Area! From Bad Influence Burlesque to Hubba Hubba Revue there's something for everyone. And some great cabaret shows, too, like Misfits Cabaret and Tourniquets Without Regrets. If you're in the area or the city proper you owe it to yourself to see these shows.

     And, yes; as of this publishing The Dangermouse still lives. Not bad for being over 331,000 miles old, huh? Yeah, my favorite Disney nut Rellie - long time fried of the show - really saved the day by coming to our rescue when we were broke down on the freeway shoulder.

     This year... it's hard not to get mired in the mess that 2018 was; suicidal depression, death, layoffs, money issues, loss of friends... no one was immune from it this year. SO, naturally, it's hard to see the good that came out of this year, too. That said, fuck off 2018; you sucked. And 2019? You suck too and I will so kick your ass.

     Look for some big changes coming in the next three months as I gear up for 45, and a whole new branding in March. Thanks for sticking it out with me, and...

 HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Mother of All Talks



          Ah, Tracy...

          Facebook bots can sometimes be a fun thing... if you don't mind the intrusion into your account the often make. I really don't, for the most part, and they can be kind of fun. At any rate, back a few weeks ago I played one that was floating around and got this result...


          Long time readers and friends know what I've been battling this past year, as well as friends on Facebook who have also seen my heart swoon to a couple young girls who had recently adopted me as a surrogate father for a bit. And, I'll be honest, the thought had crossed my mind; as it was something I was going to give the bitch before she done what she done.

          At any rate, when Tracy, a long time friend, pinged me it took me completely by surprise. On first view, I suppose if you didn't know I was playing a gamer, this could certainly look like a legit post. But it was tender insistence on the state of my fatherhood - or lack there of - that really threw me for a loop.

          Don't get me wrong; I imagine if the right set of circumstances come along I'm open to, and up for, the challenge. But, right now, I'd just settle for a girlfriend who won't lie, betray, and stab me in the back. We get through that, first, and then we can talk about a kid.

          Tracy did, though, have two parting bits of sage wisdom, regarding the idea of being an older parent...

          You know, as an older parent, you are less likely to try and feed your child to the wolves. Because you've mellowed, and developed patience, or some sage crap like that. Also, as an older parent, you are well versed in EVERY type of mischief that can be pulled. Younger parents... not so much.

          Okay, those are valid points. David is lucky guy to have - and be able to handle - a woman like Tracy. And, no; despite knowing them for quite a while, I've never met their son.

          As for being a dad? Well...

Monday, November 26, 2018

Morning Discussions...



     Poor David; sometimes things can get heady around the bar at The Porker's Sterne.

     Like I told Ian, Solo: A Star Wars Story wasn't bad. Most of it was kind of fun until the third act, when they felt compelled to ram everything into it to remind you it was part of the Star Wars franchise. And that kind of really killed it for me.

     Well, that, and the fact that there wasn't really any need for this film to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see more of this universe WITHOUT fucking Jedi, Sith, proficies, empires, and all that. (Well, okay, maybe a little empire.) I was also put out a little by how the Disney machine is rewriting the whole backstory of Star Wars from what had been established the past four decades. Much like The Kessell Run, what was in place was much better, more interesting, then what passes for storytelling these days.

     The other big issue with the film, for me, was there was no agency, no risk, for Han. We know where he ends up, what he does, and even how he dies, so there's no investing in him, at this point. Maybe that's the fault of the story writers, though; slaves to the franchise mechanics of the 21st century. I'm not even sure we needed an origin story to begin with.

     That said, it was mostly a fun movie. Would I see it again? Maybe; if there wasn't much else going on at that moment I bet I would. I think if Disney is going to keep doing these, though, they need to get away from the whole I'M A FUCKING STAR WARS THING SO REMEMBER IT'S ABOUT STAR WARS BECAUSE ALL STAR WARS THINGS ARE STAR WARS and find a way to market the whole of this universe outside of the limited and locked motif that these films come burdened with.

     Oh, and for the record, a parsec is defined as the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one arcsecond, which corresponds to 648000π astronomical units. One parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years (30 trillion km or 19 trillion miles) in length. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Reboots, Retools, and Friendship...



     I suppose I should first invest more into the idea of how personally revealing this comic is to be. But, then, I've shared a lot of intimate embarrassment here, already, so I guess that's not really the issue, is it?

    Those that follow me on social media, or who regularly read this currently spare comics, know that I've been battling some serious issues this year. Namely, having been lied to, led on, and betrayed. (Broken hearts often use language that reflects the breakage... and then amp it up some. Okay, a lot.) And this has unleashed something inside of me that I had thought packed up and put away a log time ago; my Hate.

     I put Hate away more than two decades ago, after surviving cancer; thinking it had no place in my heart or in my life. Well, turns out that even if you stash it away somewhere, it's still... well... there. And once it gets a chance to flex itself it likes to make up for lost time. And, wow, has he been doing himself a good job.

     But, more than that, the tragedies and disasters of 2018, some now still unfolding, have also led me into some rather uncharted waters where here, as they sailors might say, there be dragons.

     Taboo things that once I thought were places I'd never set foot I find myself regularly; odd relationships, the kind that have rules and multiple players, encounters that sometimes require safe words and emergency sheers to be on hand, and all kinds of other... interesting... events are becoming more the norm for me; as well as things now more overtly, playfully sexual.

     Yeah, this comic will be getting a little more interest. That is, if I can keep my world from constantly blowing up... which tends to fuel my Hate even more.

     Meanwhile, all this new life adventuring, and wrestling Hate, have isolated me from friends. Especially some of my closest. You see, when your world starts to unfold into odd and interesting places, you often feel a gulf between yourself and those people that, now, represent an "ordinary world". Well, at least it has to me. And no where did this become more apparent than in the past few months dodging my bestest, closest bud, Miss J.

     We've had our rifts before... usually because I'm a huge raging idiot. (Shocking, I know.) But, some how, we have managed as friends. Much like our annual trip to Half Moon Bay, California for the Pumpkin Festival. There was beer, and pumpkin treats, and trinket shopping, and along the way, after more beer and food at Cameron's (Which is an awesome place, you should really check it out if you find yourself that way.) I came clean that I had been avoiding her over the odd and weird ways my world was unfolding.

     But friendship finds a way. Also, friendship has a good left hook. And, hopefully, Miss J will once again be appearing in more comics. And, hopefully there will be many more comics to come.

     As for Hate? Well, he still boils behind my eyes. A lot. I am uncomfortable with how eagerly I stew over things where I have been slighted, and other little dark, stank, slimy things he brings to the table. Flip side, though; he's bringing out something more... aggressive, perhaps, in me. Something that is helping me to open up to new possibilities in my life. So, this might be interesting.

     Luckily, though, Miss J will be there to help keep us in line. Because, I'm not kidding; she's kind of scary...

Monday, September 17, 2018

Manners Maketh The Man




            It’s a lovely Napa day, and a group of ladies are enjoying an afternoon on wine tasting. An older gentleman sits with one of them, making idol chit chat. At first it seems innocent enough; he inquires about her day, her line of work, real estate, and so on. It’s nice, and she doesn’t mind the company. But, soon enough, the conversation turns and he begins unwantedly flirting with her. She backs off some, playing coy and aloof, but he doesn’t take the hint. Suddenly the odd request; he wants to touch her hair.  And then, before she can deny his request, he reaches out and does it, anyway.
            She asks him to stop, but he keeps on touching her hair, even though she reminds him he had asked, and she was now saying no. Her friends, and the Somalia, soon come over, to see if there’s an issue. But, not wanting to make a scene, she plays it off, and speaks no more of it until she’s home, and it sets in; she was, basically, assaulted. And then she has to unpack that.
            No, this isn’t a fiction; this happened to a friend of mine just last week (Of this publication date.) while out wine tasting with her friends. By the time she made it home she had become angry with a need to hit something because of what had happened. And she could, too.
            You see, what happened above, to me, was also very real. He said his name was “Pat”; a pilot from Maine on layover. At first it was cute enough; I’m fairly secure in myself to take a compliment form another man. But then, it got… more. The compliments were more forward, and became more frequent, as he began making physical contact, which at first was nothing big – a small touch on the arm, for example – that soon became my knee, or my upper leg.
            At first I had let it go on because it didn’t seem a big deal, and – being very truthsome here – I could have easily taken him apart. It wasn’t until I had decided he had hit a line that demanded my attention that Tina made a noise, and things unfolded until I had managed him out with no more conflict but with a few choice words in a particular inflection.
            My friend, though, was in a similar boat. No, really; she was former Army before we met and there was more than one time I had sized us up and realized she could have punted me into next week, back then. Hell, she might still be able to, now. But the difference here is that, though physically able, social expectations and conventions let me prepare to kick ass, and her make a quiet no fuss escape. Something my other friend Jay nailed home with all his usual ten ton anvil subtlety.   
            WHAT?!
            Okay, there’s a lot to unpack, here. But the basic gist of this whole thing boils down to this massive shift in gender dynamics happening so fast that it can be hard catch up, learn on, or keep track; as my friend so eloquently noted in our conversation. And it’s a door swinging both ways; I couldn’t help but think things like “well, where was her boyfriend?” or “you know, if I had been there” and all the other chest thumping toxic ape-man shit that actually fuels this fire worse, and makes nothing better; and may even be part of the dirty root of the problem altogether.
            Look, this isn’t just a problem of giving a lady… or a boy… some space, guys. This is about dishing out respect. This is being mindful of others, and of our own actions and being aware that even things we hardly think of, innocuous little lines of flattery and gestures of fancy, can have a huge impact, like a punch to the gut sometimes. This is understanding that old world dynamics are just that; old. It’s time to put away our little power-man fantasies and see other people for what they are; people, who deserve our respect and can play with us on equal footing. 
 And this isn’t just a man-woman thing, no. This is a man-woman, woman-woman, man-man, they-them, and anything else we end up dreaming up as we get deeper into this century. This is the basic concept of being civil to each other, and less of a dick. (Masculine anatomy used according to current social conventions. You’re free to substitute your own reference icon here.)  
            My friend? She’s tough; part of her appeal, believe me. She’s processed and has, after a powerful social media sermon, gotten back on with things. Not that she should had ever had to even get stopped by this in the first place, mind you. So let’s see if we can all try and do a little better, okay? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

In Particular


     Sometime around 2003 I went and did me an odd thing with a couple of friends; we started a comedy stunt troupe that - originally - focused on performing at Renaissance Faires around Northern California, and a fee odd places not too far of from.

     We we're originally part of another group that focused very specifically on the myth and lore of the Scottish Highlands, but the group had become the ego focus of its founder, and we were looking to do some real serious entertaining; both in flashy swordsmanship, but also in giving crowds a real thrill.

     Hence The Brotherhood of The Black Flag, and it's band of bar fly miscreants, was born. We were nearly an overnight smash in the Faire circuit around here, and soon enough we had us some young join-ups. Ian, here, was one such join up.

I started training with The Brotherhood of The Black Flag when I was 18. I'm always surprised when people would ask me how long have I been doing this. I would say I started at 18 and I'm now 30. I love doing shows and dressing like a pirate. Training other people to fight with a sword has always been something fun to me. I train with the cutlass, saber, and long sword. And the Scottish basket hilt and, of course, bull whips.   Fighting with Charlie I will have to say is very entertaining; you never know what kind of comment he will open with. The man will pull a joke out of anything and throw you off your focus until you end up laughing and having a good old time. Hint: the cartoon we have now; the man was truly picky about how I will kick his ass.

  I left The BBF a number of years ago to follow some other life pursuits, but I've returned this year and already performed a few shows, including as an addition to the new arm of the group, The Blag Flag Gang; a Western style reenactment group that has become the premiere Western reenactor group for Sacramento.

Based out of the Sacramento area, The Brotherhood of The Black Flag, and The Black Flag Gang, are available for nearly any social event; from festivals and parties to civic events and film. Each member trains relentlessly to bring fun and entertainment to any show we are doing.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Say It, Don't Eat It...


     Food allergies...

     It seems that back in the 1970's and 80's I was kind of unique in respect to food allergies. Actually, more to the point, I was the only one I knew who had to avoid food because of food allergies.

     You see, I was born allergic to both concentrated forms of dairy, and to chocolate. No, not intolerance, the autal full blown allergy; anaphylactic shock, and everything. Yes, as in it cold be fatal.

     Now a days, though, it seems like every other person I meet has some sort of food allergy. Peanuts, bananas, fruit in general (I know a guy.), shellfish, and the list seems to grow all the time. The funny part is, you ask any of us about our allergy and we'll tell you that, of course, ours makes sense; those others are kind of wacky.

     No, gluten people; you don't count. Most of you aren't eve really allergic. But avoid bread, if you feel you must; just means there's more for me. Of course, if cheese is life, than this is not only a strange concept, it's down right alien... otherworldly, perhaps beyond the realm f your own perception.

     Rachel is in a long committed love affair with the stuff. With the exception of one cheese, I imagine there's not a mel or reason that wouldn't be better served with a hubg of the stuff. I asked her to provide a little something about cheese for this cartoon, as I can't since it is THE MOO DEATH, but she started thinking on cheese and, well, I lost her. Finally, after much cheesy thought, she had the following to say:

My relationship with cheese is deep, pure and all encompassing.

I consider myself an equal opportunity cheese lover; I love all forms and incarnations of the stuff. Bougie-fancy cheese, nacho cheese, sheep cheese, bloomy cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, stinky cheese, American cheese, string cheese, soft cheese, sharp cheese, hard cheese, goat cheese, cheese curd, Velveeta, spray cheese, blue cheese.... I could go on, but the above has me already worked into a fine lather....

I don't remember always having this problem, this obsession and thirst for what is, essentially, curdled milk. In college, I designed letter-pressed a book in the shape of a mouse, where I could draw, taste and rank the cheeses I met in my life. Categories included, 'taste', 'consistency', 'meltability' and a star ranking system. It still hangs on my fridge.

Charlie and I get along just fine, but I know we will never be perfectly in synch, because the thing that brings me so much joy, will literally murder him. So, even though the conversation above is fictionalized, (Charlie: Truncated from a phone conversation.) it is not beyond the scope of imagination. How CAN you make spaghetti without the cheese? What even IS that anymore? Limp noodles, in sad, red water sauce.

So, I shall celebrate my cheese, and revel in it's salted, creamy, delectable glory. And I do hope, that one day Charlie will forgive me for consuming it en-masse in front of him every chance I get.

Except Swiss. Swiss can bugger right off.

     As for me, well, do I mind being tough as nails, able to throw the heavy things, heal from all the sicknesses quick just to be thwarted by a glass of milk and a cookie? Eh, maybe a little. But then Green Lantern can be felled by an eight year old wielding a canary yellow crayon, so maybe I'm not so bad off.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Ah, Push It...


     Kaye...

     Kaye is the kind of person that, if you've ever grown up in the kind of religious background I have, would be the epitome of a "dirty hippie child". That is, she's sexually liberal, verbose, outgoing, free thinking, and very much into giving you a piece of her mind... whether you knew you needed it, or not.

     She's also this bundle of warmth and giving and expression that, on the onset, can be a lot to handle until you get used to it. But, she's a hard working mom who has managed to keep a house despite her set backs and the ever challenging Silicon Valley economy.

     And yes, I like her a lot. She's funny, and assertive and full of funny lines like above that will probably cement her as a new regular in Stuff if she keeps dropping lines like this one. Which, by all indicators, seems to be a lot.

     Also, there are some damn fine Mexican joints in San Leandro, California; let me tell you what...

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Murder at Death Guild

*His actual words are lost to alcohol, days, and a whole lot of pain.

     It started with seeing something on Facebook I wish I hadn't; someone I'd really like to never see again liking one of those cute little copy and paste memes one of my closest friends had posted about their marriage. Rattled, but undaunted, I gathered myself up for drinks and dancing at Death Guild, the premiere weekly Goth and Industrial club happening at The DNA Lounge up in San Francisco; where I was gonna shake, twist, stomp, and drink some of my blues out.

     Nope.

     Instead I ended up getting caught up in some bullshit drama with a friend and one of his girlfriends. Why? No clue, I can only guess why I became the target. But he knew, and - as I'm finding out - deeply involved in some of the shit that went down back at the end of April. So, I decided to bolt right there and then, instead of making what was sure to be a very bloody scene (Ironic for a Goth club, no?) before the alcohol could take full effect.

     Then I spent the next week in self imposed seclusion from Facebook and, well, everyone, as I stewed in my own pain and self doubt. I tore myself apart, and had more than a couple moments where I found myelf to a quiet, hidden place in the office to have mini break downs. I think that's also ironic, too; I can bench more than I weigh and punch the holy hell out of objects of heft, but some stray words reduce me to rubble.

     I'm trying to not let these two poly run-ins color my opinion about the whole of all of those who do what they do... but, folks, it's not looking good for you. And the fate of this two decade friendship - just recently rekindled - also remains to be scene.

     I know there's things to be learned, here. And the old adage; that which does not kill me...

     You know what? Fuck that. I'd kind of like a break, now; something to maybe go a little more my way would sure be a nice brea right about now. I don't know, win the lottery, hang out with actual friends more, get my novel published... or, at least, get in with a girl who is not full of piss and vinegar and lies and isn't bat-shit crazy.

     I don't know, am I asking for too much?

    CARTOONIST'S NOTE:
In case you haven't noticed, yes I have gone through some changes in my appearance;
both physical and cosmetic. It's... taking some time ot get used to and learn how to draw. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

S**t My Friends Say: Pie in the Sky edition


     Rachel and Andrea have only been in my world less than a year, but already feel like they've been there all along, and I can't image my life without them in it. Both of them are mermaids at Dive Bar in Sacramento, Ca., and are pretty tight as friends can be; demonstrated by this odd ball conversation at last month's Woodland Highland Games. Here's what they have to say on each other...

     "Andrea and I have a very unique friendship, though one could probably say that all friendships are unique... Andrea is one of those friends who knows me intuitively enough to understand what I'm really saying, or sometimes just communicating to her by glares. Hence, knowing I wanted a Mac and Cheese Pie when I was being a smart-ass. We have a give-and-take understanding of how to rib each other, but usually not go too far; and I'm grateful that when we do, we are able to talk things out and let it go fairly quickly. I've laughed a lot with Andrea, leaned on her when it's been hard, and always rest peacefully knowing she's close....as in....laying awake, under my bed."
~ Rachel Smith

"I used to think that if you were friends with someone, you had to make it oddball. We all go through high school declaring our "best friends" and putting them on a pedestal like their existence is enough to merit the prestige of "best". And then we grow up. People change, pedestals crumble. We become REAL ADULTS. We met people and find out through trial and error who leaves enough of an impact on us to stay in our lives.
I met Rachel through a friend and didn't ever think we'd be as close as we are now. She already seemed so far above me, and her life was a flurry of mermaids, and pirates. Here we are years later and I find out more and more we're exactly the same type of crazy. We teach each other how to be better people. We have honest conversations and real fights. But I know we'll always make up after, and that confidence in someone is what, I think, makes them the "best" type of friend. We found each other and our souls said "This is my people". There are so many times we can communicate with just a look, or finish the other's sentence. We are each other's appointed Thelma and Louise."
~ Andrea Hinojosa

Friendship.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 2 Page 7


     In the study of emergent machine mind technology has been the rise of a low band frequency language that robotic workers and servants have developed over the past several model generations. And, it appears through observation, that this language isn't limited to a specific model or manufacturer, but manages to infiltrate into he sub programming of nearly every mechanoid that encounters it; becoming a second language which is utilized to relay a host of particular information between units.

     It's notable that, as of this report, there appears to be no underlining malicious intent behind this development; merely the formation of subroutines that could not have been predicted in machines looking to communicate status and share updates. The studying of this low band transmissions shows that, among other things, issues of function status, make, model, and other identifying information is transmitted in a non-repetitive info compact series of bursts. These are then followed by requests for information of user behavior and other environmental conditions that can be assimilated into the unit's program, allowing it to function better in its role. 

     Further, this council finds no evidence that this language posses any threat to any end user, organization, or governing body. Study on both intercepted transmissions, as well as units involved in these transmissions, shows these are merely data queries. This council, therefor, recommends that the automaton program not be scrapped and that this machine query language be allowed to continue and flourish, as it works to enhance the over all operation of each robotic unit to better perform their function.

Dr.  Housan Thoust
Professor of Robotic Applications
 Asimov Institute
* Except from study summary on emergent language properties in automatons and robotic servant classes. Historical note: One of the last transmissions before the fatal Daistrum lab disaster . 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Amber Alert


     Kim and I have been going back and forth for a long time. And, despite some low points we've had some amazing high and funny points. 

     When I moved back to California we were going to work on us. After a very rough start, I had thought we were making good progress, and I was going to surprise her after the holidays - when she's usually swamped with work at The Great Dickens Fair - with a ring and the proposal she has always been asking me for.
  
     Instead, she surprised me by announcing through social media over the holidays that they guy who was "just a friend" she was helping through a break up was now the new boyfriend. A month later they moved into together. I suppose I should have worked harder. 

     Luckily I got most the money back on the ring, so I could afford a traffic ticket I had gotten over the holidays rushing to visit her.

     A few months later I went out on a limb and asked Yesenia out; this fun young lady from my old karaoke social circle. We got a long great then, so I figured why not. And at first it was awesome... until she started to drift, and dodged further date requests. Turns out she was going out with me just to see if she if she had fallen out of love with the boyfriend she failed to tell me about, or list anywhere on her Facebook page. She only owned up to it via a text message when this comic originally posted.

     And then Amber...

I'm going full on hermit mode, to reply to your email. 
I won't be answering phone calls or texts. Know that I'll be ok. 
Expect a postcard. I'm sorry to do this to you, and to everyone.

Be well


That was all the message on my Twitter said, after a little more than a week of silence following a couple of odd messages since Amber went home to SoCal. Just earlier that day I had sent her another message asking her if she was okay, to which she made a post on her Facebook that she was leaving for a while, but she'd be back again, some day. And then an hour later closed out her Facebook account.

I've talked a little about Amber, before. She'd been up from SoCal to help her grandmother out, who had had a nasty spill and was recovering from some surgery. True to her warm and giving nature, Amber had dropped everything and was working to manage her grandmother's recovery despite being left holding the bag by her family. It's the kind of person she is. 

And then, when she could find the time, we would spend a little time together doing stuff. After the hurt and confusion of the past few months, having her around filled my days with warmth and caring, and a very nice kind of happiness. We always laughed and we always had fun; especially since we shared some common interests; like music, trains, and random adventure. Despite some things, Amber is a funny, social, giving person who loves to help and is up for lots of things. Is it any wonder we've stayed friends?

But, of course, nothing can stay perfect for too long, can it? And in this case it was issues of poly-complication(tm). Now, I won't begin to tell you I know all there is to know on navigating a polyamorous lifestyle. I'm not particularly poly, myself, to begin with. However, Amber and her SO, who was still down in SoCal, are.

Well, at least that is what we believed. Thinking it was okay to do so, we posted some Facebook stuff about our goings out. Nothing crazy about it; we saw Flogging Molly together, went to the San Francisco Symphony, visited the de Young, and saw world famous singing clown Puddles Pity Party, and even went to a Goth Prom. We had a blast; just the two of us hanging out. And, with two people dealing with so much personal garbage in each of their lives, it was what we both needed really badly.

However... because there's always an "however"... the SO was not amused. And then something happened I'm unsure of, and Amber packed up and headed home. She said she was going to deal with a few things and then head back to deal with more grandma stuff. And then the message.

Now, as I said, I'm no expert on polyamory, but I'm pretty sure if one partner is allowed extra curricular activities, so should the other, right? But apparently this isn't the case, here. And when things rattled, they rattled. As I understand it, there are agreements and rules and communication, and all that. And it seems to work for people. But when it goes south...


As of late, other things have come to light; casting even more doubt on what was what. So, now I'm out a sixteen year friendship, and left none the wiser for anything. Ah, but that which does not kill me, right?


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 2 Page 6


     "That... that can't be right. Can it?"

     The three engineers stood there befuddled by their readings. Then one turned to the other two.

     "Send the drone out another light year." The first engineer primed some controls, adjusted a few settings and gauges, and executed the command. After a couple minutes of silence there were a series of broadcast beeps followed by a display reading times, distance, and telemetry.

     "Nope," said the third engineer, "still the same readings. Well, adjusted for the new relative position, of course."

     The third engineer rested his face in his hand, his arm propped up on the desk. A finger rubbed itself across his brow back and forth a couple times before he then ran his hand through his hair. "Okay," he said, after another moment of inflection, "let's try a couple more positions, just to be sure."

     The next ninety minutes were pretty much the same thing over and over again. Each time the three engineers would double and triple check their findings. Finally the last engineer piped in.

     "Okay, it's clear we don't have a glitch; we've sent the drone to ten locations across several cubic light years of space, and every reading is consistent for its distance."

     "Yeah, but that doesn't make any sense. These transmissions should be taking hours, not minutes, to come and go."

     "Well we know that, but..."

     They all looked back at the displays reading the drone a few light years out and a transmission time of under two minutes.

     "Doesn't make any sense."

     "I know. But, if you apply the wave field formula to the signal..."

     "But how?! That was an experimental idea for a ship drive, not a radio transmitter. I mean, there's no way this should even work."

     "Hey, we just dropped a drone four light years from here in a few minutes. And we've only been able to do that for... what... a year? I'm thinking there's going to be a lot of stuff that doesn't make any sense from here on out; now that we're a stellar species."

     They all at there in silence for another couple minutes, looking over the drone displays. One of them finally sat up and looked at the others. "So... what do we tell the director?"

     "We tell them what we have; a way to cut transmission times down from weeks and months to minutes and seconds. He says 'good work you three', and we get raises, or gifts, or some sort of nerd hero party. Maybe they name it after us; who knows. Point is, we have us a break through. Who cares if we don't know how it all really, exactly works."

     "Good point; no one knows how Aspirin works, and everyone still uses it."

     "Okay, then; who's gonna write up the report?"

Monday, April 30, 2018

Lined Up...


     So no shit, there I was see; minding my own business on a busy afternoon at the local Savers in downtown Redwood City, California...

     For those not in the know, a huge part of 2018 has been getting into good shape to meet one of my objectives; to be a hunk-a-hunk-a burning Chuck; something I've been loosely documenting on my Facebook. It's a two fold goal: 1. be physically capable of all the things, and 2. be incredibly irresistible in various states of dress and undress. As of this comic I have accomplished both to varying degrees of success. (My cardiologist and general practitioner are both floored by my capabilities despite the heart issues AND I have finally broken a four year dry spell... many times, now.)

     In my quest for both of these things I kind of failed to take a particular hazard into account; now that I fill t-shirts particularly well. Which, in the case of this busy afternoon in Savers, picking up a cummerbund for a "Goth Prom", came in the form of a small creepy Asian lady who, in the most over-the-top stereotypical kind of voice, proceeded to berate me with the most prying and random of questions, ever.

     EVER.

     Unwanted attention is an interesting thing. I've been playfully objectified before; in my youth and in a setting that was well understood by all to be safe and of a certain nature. Out in public, now, it's a very uncomfortable thing. And it's only a once-in-a-while thing; women get this kind of crap all the time. And it's too a degree that can be downright threatening, too.

     As a guy, a white guy, and a white guy of particular physical capabilities, now, these kind of situations can be laughed off and turned into funny comics. So much the case that this dialog originally was going to go another way, because hey; check me out - I'm getting attention, so I should just be happy and deal. Right?

     And, honestly, yeah; this was really funny. For me. A particular hazard to occasionally be giggled at. But for a woman, especially in this day and age, this kind of thing can go south crazy quick. I suppose that's something to think about, now.

     However, all that said, yeah; hunk-a-hunk-a burning Chuck.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Pocket Full of Posies chapter 2 page 5


     "No?!"

     Justin looked down at her, dressed in her sheer draped gown that left nearly nothing to the imagination. She stood there in front of the bar, defeat settling into her shoulders, as they began to droop.

     "Look, I'm sorry; I imagine that's not the answer you want to hear."

     "'Not the answer'...? That's hardly an understatement. I'm intergalactic music sensation Nathena; no sentient ever says 'no' to me. Ever."

     "Look," he said, resting his hands reassuringly on her shoulders, "your secret's safe with me. Honest."

     Bewildered, Nathena pulled free of Justin and drifted over to the lounging chairs under the window looking out across the planet in orbit. "Wha... what about everything we just went through? The hitmen? That murderous tour agent of mine? All that danger?"

     "The job, Nathena... the job. I got you through the end of your tour like I was supposed to." He looked her up and down. "I mean, don't get me wrong; I appreciate you're... gratitude."

     She turned to look at him. He could see what looked like tears welling in the corner of her eyes. He felt his face betray his immediate regret at his clumsy statement. "Nathena, I-"

     "No, don't," she said, throwing up her hands. "I get it; I'm just some flashy core system idiot, right? All got her heart wrapped up in the romance of the frontier..."

     "That's not it at all. It's just that, well, you're nice and all, and it's been a fun adventure, but I just don't see you like that. I'm... I'm sorry."

     "So am I, I suppose." She wiped tears from her cheeks. "Tell me, captain; when can I expect to dock?"

     Justin smirked uncomfortably. "Our landing window is in two hours. I can see if it can be expedited."

     "That would be very nice if you could see to that, captain. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go pack my things. I'll be in my cabin until then. Thank you, again, for your service; which was far above the call and scope of our agreement."

     Justin opened his mouth to say words he didn't have, but Nathena pushed past him and out the lounge door and down the hall of the ship. Sighing, he brushed his hair back and shook his head. After making a couple calls to port control, The No.7 touched down thirty five minutes later, as adoring fans clambered the landing platform, eager to catch sight of their beloved singer and musician. As the docking plank lowered they stood apart from each other. Justin made sure he was behind her, so she could be seen by everyone. 

     As she reached the last step, her foot hesitated. Without looking back, Nathena strengthened her resolve, straightened her posture, and stepped off the ship and moved toward the crowd and her staff. At the top of the ramp Justin watched blankly. With Nathena off ship, he worked the ramp controls, then touched the comm pad.

     "She gone," Jig asked, from the other end.

     "Yeah..." He paused a moment. "Get prelaunch started and get us a liftoff window. I'll be in the office looking for our next gig."

     "You okay?"

     "Fine. Yeah, I'm fine. Let me know when we're ready to go."

     The ramp locked back into position, and Justin made his way to the office.






Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pay Back is a Bitch...


     Dramatic? Maybe no more than the beginning of the year, I suppose; since this comic's related.

     I've said it before, over on my Facebook page, that I'm torn some on the whole idea that the universe... or The Universe... is either an existence ruled by cause and effect, or perhaps something more that might nudge things one way or they other.  Perhaps a thing made manifest; born from our beliefs, or maybe our emergent consciousness?

     Eh, I don't know; I'm only a cartoonist, and not much of that, these days. But here's what I do know; for years I have played with the idea of leaving to go start a life up north. And despite being thwarted over and over again, I finally made a chance happen... and then my life took a first class, A ticket shit.

     Since coming home, it's been a series of two steps forward, one step back; each one with a little more sting.

     Okay, to be truthsome on the thing, I have managed some positive steps. I'm squaring up the debt I racked up trying to be a Seattlite. After a few sputters I managed a decent job. And I have managed some sort of semblance of going out and doing things. Heck, I've even managed some dates and some physical stuff, too.

     That said, my credit has taken a HUGE hit, which has affected my ability to find a place of my own to call home for the moment. And the payments for such are big, to say the least; impacting my liquidity once I do find myself out of my friend's charity.

     I find myself scampering to keep myself occupied a lot. Worse, a lot of the places I'd like to go, and things I'd like to do, now that I'm expanding my existence, are occupied by the latest heartbreak, which certainly doesn't make anything awkward or uncomfortable, no. (Plus the first class shit storm burn that fiasco ended up being.) Not to mention the ups and downs of dating; where drama lurks at every turn, along with uncertainty and loads of doubt. And then there's trying to find my way into friendly company... because suddenly I'm horribly social uncomfortable?! How did that happen?

     There's already been drama in the acting guild I rejoined so I could flex my acting muscle, again; enough to make me reconsider even getting up on stage with them, again. (Which is a shame, because they are a first rate group who do a good job entertaining a crowd, let me tell you.) And then a few friends have felt the impact of the walking disaster my life's become, and have not walked away unscathed.

     Honestly, it feels like no matter what I do, The Universe wants me to make absolutely sure how displeased it is with me that I did what I did. Maybe I not only need to atone, but also toughen up for something coming down the line? Or, of course, it could all be in my head; I am human, after all, and we're famous for drawing connections and conclusions where none exist. Except there's still this feeling...

     Eh; either way I'm going to be one tough SOB when this is all over. I hope.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 2 page 4


        ... and furthermore, any and all contact, direct or otherwise, is not only forbidden, but is seen as a breach of Commonwealth security and safety, and will be treated as not only a crime against the security of the Commonwealth, but as an act of aggression against the whole of every citizen thereof.

     exert from the dispatch from 
1st  Commander Derick Destell
Commonwealth Galactic Fleet
The Sarkuun Threat

   

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 2 page 3


     I think it was The Drexsten Punitive Wars that first created the orphan epidemic. No one was really prepared for how long and drawn out that was going to become. And then, when it was done, and armies had cleared out, there was this world full of destruction and children - so many children - that had no where to go, and no families to care for them.

     Sure, we were a whole set of systems away, but we had the land, and we had could see the need. So we talked about it, and with a quick bit of work we were able to cover the farm to an orphanage. When the first wave of kids arrived, I admit we were completely overwhelmed. Not for the sheer number of them... I mean, yeah; that was a problem we had to solve quickly... but because of the emotional and, often, physical pain these kids were under. It was tragic in a way I just... [At this point, she pauses to look out window, wipe tear from her eye.] You just don't know suffering until you see it in the eyes of a child who has lost everything. Everything.

     We were blessed with our land, and our farm. I'm not the most spiritual of people, but I think Elvis, himself, reached out from Holy Graceland and created just the right place for those kids in us. And we've been so lucky to help so many, and continue to help so many, today. You can see it in how many of those orphans' kids come back to help out around here, even today.


Trisha Forbes-McGee
Co-Manager of Hornsmount Orphanage 
Planet Dreager in the Nexus System
from an interview for "Wrangling the Galactic Gun"

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Drawing Straws...


     Okay, so have you ever noticed it's okay to put a straw into a cup of juice? Just about any juice, really. Milk? Sure; got to make those bubbles somehow. Pop? You bet. How about a frosty adult beverage, like a cocktail? Oh heck, they make straws specifically for that. Hey, you want a straw for your beer?

     ...

     Yeah, I didn't think so. In fact, a straw is used for just about every beverage EXCEPT a beer; or maybe a shot of whiskey.

     Straws are the oddest convention. They totally make sense, of course. But, have you really thought about a straw? I mean; really? You lip lock a tube and inhale through your mouth. All physics aside, I suppose it's really appropriate they see their biggest use with kids. Personally, when I order a drink, like iced tea or a pop, and it comes with a straw I usually take the damn thing out and drink like a big boy. I mean, except those times when my beverage is bubbles appropriate, naturally.

     But, really, if they are so useful, why is it so  gouache to drop one into your bottle of Bud?

     Amber is this shining jewel from my past. The one who got away, we've remained good friends for the past sixteen years. (It was one of those two people at the right place at the wrong time kind of things.) Residing in the Los Angeles area, she's up in the Silicon Valley area for family business, and while here we've been palling around together, when we can. This little bit of funny was her own orchestration.

     Recently we trucked off to see Flogging Molly at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. For those not in the know, Flogging Molly is a Irish Celtic Punk band based out of Los Angeles. Our adventure that night was a fluke, in which I bought tickets in a mad dash to fill up my birthday week and ended up with a VIP package that includes a whole mess of swag.

     If you ever get the time, they are a great band, and worth the see.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 2 page 2


     The two men stood on the unguarded pipe bridge that crossed the chasm of equipment, metal, and gantries that spiraled down several hundred meters. The large man, a Paxata, huffed hard as he stepped back, clearly not expecting the smaller man to have been this much of a challenge. Blood ran down the side of his face from a split in his brow, and he favored his side. As he stepped back his foot groped for sure footing.

     "Okay, this has been fun," said the smaller man, "but, really, haven't we more than settled this?"

     The crowd had formed up on either side of their side of the bridge, every man hoping to find a good spot to watch the melee unfold. Now a few steps onto the bridge, the big man looked his smaller opponent over, again. Dressed in work clothes and a leather jacket, he had clearly not anticipated he would see his own so well. But now, with his big words in the bar, he was on the spot to deliver on his words after their disagreement had escalated to this point.

     "Fuck you little man. C'mere and I'll show you what for."

     "Alright, then." He took off his leather jacket and held it out. "Justin, come here boy and hold my jacket."

     Justin, a boy of maybe fifteen, came from the crowd and took his father's jacket from him, rolling it up and holding it tight. "Watch his left, dad; it's fast but it's sloppy."

     To the cheer of the growing crowd he stepped out onto the bridge. "So, I don't suppose we had our proper introductions. I'm Jason Bailey - foreman for-"

     "Just come here and get your beating, little man."

     Jason sighed and shook his head. "Alright, then. 'To the death' is what I believe you yelled at the top of this? I mean, that is your people's way, right?"

     In desperation the larger man rushed Jason, swinging wildly. Jason managed a couple of dodges, but the third punch connected, sending him reeling back some. He was quick, however, to recover and countered with a made series of tight jabs and hooks. Within moments his opponent was overwhelmed. The crowd cheered and jeered as the large man tumbled backward; just managing to stay on the bridge.

     Jason gave ground, letting him get back up. He wiped the blood from his eyes and left, again, and Jason. Suddenly there it was, what Jason had been waiting for; that wild and sloppy left hook. Snaring it in a grapple, Jason brought his opponent close into him. His knee launched up, first finding a forearm, then the ribs, and finally manhood. As the large man let out a whispered cry, Jason, using the leverage of the grappled arm, forced his opponent to stand and delivered a devastating blow to his face.

     Stunned, the large man stumbled back. His foot slipped from the unguarded pipe bridge and he began to fall backward, over the side. The crowd fell to a hush as Jason reached out, clutched his shirt, and drew him back to solid footing; the two of them falling to their knees under his enormous weight.

     The large man looked Jason over. "W... why?"

     "Because now you're dead; at least your rep as a tough guy is dead. There's no reason to see the rest of you die, too. Who knows; maybe some day you may do something actually smart with that mouth and those hands of yours.

     Jason rejoined his son as money changed hands with the fight spectators. Justin handed his father back his jacket. "I don't get it," he asked his dad, "he's a Paxata; he claimed his right of fight to the death."

     "Boy, a man should have no beef he can't solve with just his wits and his fists. And killing is just a waste, anyway; you remember that. Besides; mercy is the mark of a good man."

     They both looked back as the Palate man was helped off the pipe bridge, bloodied and unable to stand on his own.

     "Eh; alright's good enough some days, son."

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 2 page 1


     As The Third Space Age of Man opened the United Corporate Commonwealth found it had inherited, from The Great Human Expansion, many tales and legends from the vast array of worlds that had been settled across the stars. Many were tall tales that peoples and societies had rally around; stories of heroes, figureheads, and even rebels who would become icons and symbols; cultural touche stones brought into The UCC.

     Though loosely based on some fact, they were, of course, complete fabrications written by the words and stories passed down through the generations; so ingrained that it would take real effort by The UCC to purge them, helping these worlds to acclimate to a more civilized way of life.

     Well, not all, as it would turn out to be. The one notable exception is the tale of Tia Mara, the Pirate Queen of Thestus.

Painting by midshipman Duke Tatum submitted for contest; original lost
     The common core of the story has checked out through historical records, and the lineage is preserved. Tia Mara was a concubine en route from a settlement off Thestus as part of a harem gift from one of the region lords to their king. During the voyage the envoy was attacked by pirates operating out of the area.

     From here the particular backstories tend to skew from each other to favor local color. Some tales paint her as a heavenly avenging angel who brought a violent and bloody end to the savagery of the monarchy. Other tales tell of reckless abandon and sexual escapades fraught with unrequited and forbidden love.

     But there are facts that have been preserved in the archives of Thestus. Tia Mara was a registered concubine with the royal guild; her origins that of a young girl made into the trade when her nation was conquered. She did, indeed, fall into the hands of pirates, and through a series of  often wildly portrayed events, did come to not only command those pirates, but to unify them into a military force and turn their might against the various royal houses and end the monarchy; establishing a centralized constitutional government that would stand through The Second Space Age until their induction into The UCC.

     Today Thestus is a center of learning and industry in The UCC. And The House of Mara is celebrated, as women born there are proud to trace their lineage back to their sovereign sister and queen. Festivals and celebrations abound, and images of her decorate halls, name plaques, and anywhere it is appropriate to. Of the very small handful of galactic legends, rife with exaggerations, and tall tales of daring, intrigue, and romance, few have had the lasting, positive impact That Tia Mara has had.

Recent Nathena Tour Poster
     She is so integral to the culture that The UCC not only permits the continued festivals in her honor, but has added the curriculum to civics studies, as well as some of its regional fleet studies in regards to how her rag-tad band managed to decimate a superior force to bring about radical change to her world. She is celebrated by the peoples of Thestus wherever they go in the galaxy, and it's not uncommon to find interpretations of her famous portrait in many ships and outposts. One of her most notable dependents, the popular musician Nathena, just recently launched a entire musical experience dedicated to the legends of her ancestor.

     As The United Corporate Commonwealth prides itself on the strength of its diversity, it's the cultural icons like Tia Mara that The UCC looks to in bringing unity and prosperity to its member worlds.

     It's the hope of The United Corporate Commonwealth to spread the best of the its world membership, to promote positive change, and a new, unified identity to grow from.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Galactic Gun: The Adventures of Justin Bailey returns!


THE STORY SO FAR...

     Justin Bailey, notable transportation specialist has just won himself a handful of cash in a card game in a small bar on a remote mining outpost. Naturally, though, not everyone at the table was particularly as excited as he was. During the heated debate certain words were tossed around... as well as bar goers. 

     Joined by a Torrin card dealer named Kali, Justin - along with his robot copilot Jig and faithful neglee Boomer - does some fast and fancy flying to outrace the local patrol and escape into deep space.

     But what about this "cargo" Justin is receiving? Who is Justin working for? Who is this Gerkin B'Kin? And what is Kali really up to? All these answers, and more, in Chapter Two of Pocket Full of Posies - Risky Business. Updating every Wednesday!

EDITOR'S NOTE
     Welcome back to the ongoing and further adventures of Justin Bailey and the crew of The No. 7. We're sorry the story has been on hiatus for so long, but are excited to get you back to all the action and laughs.

     Over the coming months there are going to be some changes happening around here; NTA and its creator are going through some personal rebranding. So look for various new things to be popping up here and there; as well as some things leaving, too.

And, as always, thank you for your readership!