The curse of the mocha coffee cup

Mag Nation is fast becoming my favourite hang-out in the city during our hour-long lunch break thanks to the availability of the UK-made science-fiction and fantasy digital arts magazine, ImagineFX. I’ve gone back there almost every day this week just to browse through their issues of ImagineFX (which is perfectly Okay with the shop and, in fact, they encourage browsing).

There was a special issue of ImagineFX in the shop which was a compilation of the best bits of the first ten issues. If I remember correctly, the price tag says it’s worth $26 plus. It seems like a good bargain but I’m not too excited about spending more than 20 bucks for a magazine, even if it was a best-of issue. I held off buying it but I kept on coming back just to browse through the one and only copy in shop.

Then yesterday, I couldn’t find the special issue on their shelves. Someone must have finally bought it. Too bad, I thought. Maybe I should have bought it for myself when I had the chance. However, today, I got my chance. The magazine magically returned on the shelf but it looked a bit worn than I remembered it (probably my fault anyway) and the price tag was missing.

I went to the register counter with the magazine and asked, “Can you please tell me how much is this old magazine?” with emphasis on the word “old”. He consulted the PC by the counter then told me that the issue was now down to $19.95. Wow! It certainly pays to be patient sometimes.

Needless to say, I bought it. And when you buy a magazine at Mag Nation, you also get a coupon for a free coffee. Raquel and I wanted to use it right then and there. Last time I asked about the free coffee, the barista didn’t know what size is available for free with the voucher. Of course, I took advantage of this and ordered the large cup at the time. This time, the barista knows that I should only get a small cup. However, after I asked the barista real nicely if I can have a regular cup of mocha, he acceded to my request.

After that long digression, I finally come to the part of my story about the cursed coffee cup.

When the barista handed me my hot cup of mocha, I found the paper cup a bit too hot to hold. I asked if I could have serviettes (what Aussies call paper napkins here). They were all out so the barista offered to just put my cup in another paper cup to insulate my fingers from the heat. Sounded like a good idea.

After taking a few sips from the cup, Raquel and I decided it was time to return to our respective offices. As I crossed the street to get to the tram stop, then my cup that has a plastic lid on suddenly began spitting out the coffee from the tiny hole on the lid on to my coat’s right sleeve! Just great.

When I got to the tram stop, I placed the coffee cup and the magazine I bought on the tram shelter’s bench so I can take out my handkerchief and wipe the coffee off my coat. But as I was wiping my coat, I must have accidentally knocked the cup because it fell over and started to spill coffee on to my newly bought magazine! I immediately set the cup upright. Thankfully, the magazine was in a paper bag so it actually didn’t get wet. I had to chuck the paper bag though.

After catching the tram, I got off near my office. As I was walking towards our building, the coffee cup spat out more coffee but on to my slacks this time. Argh! I promptly wiped my pants dry and proceeded to get back to my desk.

As I was opening the door to my office floor, more coffee was spilled but I was able to avoid getting wet this time. The floor wasn’t as lucky.

By the time I got to my desk, there wasn’t really much coffee in my cup left. I’ve always been a klutz and I hate it. This must’ve been the worst case of clumsiness I’ve experienced to date. I strongly suspect that this series of unfortunate events was caused by having a second cup over the first one. Whenever I make a walking movement, the first cup could freely bob inside the second cup and make the coffee spill out.

Stupid coffee cups.

Advertisements
Published in: on October 12, 2007 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Art exhibition launch tonight

Tonight, my company will finally be launching the annual company art exhibition. In case you haven’t read my past posts, the company art exhibition will feature the entries for the annual company-wide Artist of the Year contest. My submission is called Geeky Pursuits.

What this means for me is that, tonight, I’ll finally find out if my entry will win any prize of not. I’m personally hoping for the first prize (an 80Gb iPod Classic plus extras) but I’m fearful that somebody submitted something that is more worthy than mine.

My work colleagues are all very supportive and excited. This actually makes me more nervous because failure to win will be much more embarassing, in my thinking.

As I was talking to one of my work buddies, I received an internal email from the chief organiser of the event. She informed me that I was “short-listed as one of the finalists to win the title of 2007 Melbourne Artist of the Year!” That means my chances of winning has greatly increased. My colleagues here all wished me good luck after finding out I was a finalist.

I sincerely thank them for all their support. I just wish I actually win this thing. I’ll find out in few hours whether or not I win. I’ll just cross my fingers till then.

Published in: on October 12, 2007 at 12:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Armageddon Expo this weekend

There will be a media convention this weekend called the Armageddon Expo. I’ve always wanted to go to a geek convention but have so far been disappointed with the ones I went to here in Australia. Makes me sometimes wish I live in the US so I can go to the different Comics and science-fiction conventions there.

Well, one day while at a comic book shop along Bourke St near the Parliament side (sorry I forgot the name of the shop), I saw these flyers about the upcoming Armageddon Expo. I looked at the events and guests and realised that it is a convention about a lot of things: science fiction, animation, comics and, uh, wrestling.

I went to their website to look at the list of guests who’ll be attending. I immediately saw the names of a few people that I really want to meet in person! Here they are in no particular order:

Alan Tudyk. I first knew about him in the movie A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger. I loved his character there and for a while I thought he was really British. But I like him best for his role as Wash in the Firefly TV series and the Serenity movie. If he is in a movie, I’ll probably watch it.

Joe Flanigan. I’m a big fan of Stargate SG-1 and its spin-off series, Stargate Atlantis. It’ll be great to see Lt. Col. John Sheppard in person.

Connor Trinneer. Trip (Cmdr. Charles Tucker III) must be my favourite Star Trek Enterprise character. I also like his Michael the mutated Wraith character in Stargate Atlantis. He is definitely another sci-fi celebrity I’d like to see.

Bruce Timm. He designed the style of the later Batman Animated series. I so want to emulate his style that I even bought a how-to-draw book he made for kids only a few years back. Check out samples of his art here.

Billy West. I couldn’t possibly miss the opportunity to meet the voice of Philip J Fry from the Futurama series, my favourite sci-fi animated comedy show. He also provides the voice for the Professor (Hubert Farnsworth), Dr Zoidberg and Zapp Brannigan.

There are other guests there that I might be cool to see in person (such as John Wesley Shipp who plays the Flash in the old TV series and Dawson’s dad in Dawson’s Creek) but the people in the list above are who I want to see the most if I do go there. For a complete list of guests, go here.

I wanted to go on Saturday but Joe Flanigan is only available on Sunday. I still have to think about it but I’m now more inclined to go on Sunday.

Here are some details of the event:

Armageddon Expo
Place: Exhibition Centre, Melbourne
Date: October 13 and 14, 2007
Time: 9am to 6pm

Published in: on October 11, 2007 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

My G.I. Joe file card

Since I’m in the mood to do art stuff in my spare time these days, I wanted to spruce up my profile in DeviantArt, an online community of artists. In DA (as we call it), there is something called the DeviantID. It is simply a graphical image that goes on top of a member’s biographical information section. It can be anything but most of the time, it is a graphical version of the bio info below it.

I got bored of my old one which is just a picture of me in black and white plus my name in white text beside it. So, I decided to change it to something a little more different.

I grew up collecting G.I. Joe action figures when I was young. Apart from the actual toy, I love the cut-out file cards that came with the toy describing the action figure’s character and background. So, I thought it would be cool to use the file card idea and turn it into my DeviantID.

I’m not too happy with the text and my image in it as it is. I’ll probably change it in the future but it will do for now.

Published in: on October 8, 2007 at 11:36 pm  Comments (4)  

A Little Siesta

Earlier this week, I went magazine-browsing at Mag Nation, our favourite magazine shop in the city. Raquel and I go there sometimes during our lunch break to read the various local and imported magazines. The cool thing about Mag Nation is that customers are absolutely welcome to browse. Kind of like Borders (another favourite shop). They also offer free Internet access via Wi-fi there, in case you are interested. I sometimes wonder how they can stay in business.

While there, I noticed that they also sold ImagineFX, a UK-based digital fantasy art magazine that has stories on current digital and traditional fantasy artists, tips on art techniques and art workshops. Even though I didn’t usually buy magazines at Mag Nation, I bought this one. It really inspired me to start drawing or painting digitally again.

I know I need a lot of practice since I haven’t really done a lot of artwork lately. So, I went through my old drawing books for some inspiration on what subject to play around with. Then, Raquel saw these series of sketches I did of her in a cutesy style in one of my drawing books. She liked the one where she was depicted as having a little siesta. She wanted to use it as an avatar for her MSN Messenger.

I thought it was a good piece to start with and to play around with Painter IX’s settings. I scanned in the old sketch first. Then I digitally re-inked the sketch in Painter IX. After that I coloured it. And here is the result:

A Little Siesta

It is a small piece so it should’ve taken me a short time to do. However, I was playing around with the different Painter settings and brushes so it took me a while longer to finish. I think I got it to a level of quality that is presentable.

I really need a lot of practice thought to reach the a professional level of quality. I’m hoping that if I can significantly improve my art skill, I can probably earn some money out of this doing commissions or something. One can always dream. Hope you guys like the piece above.

Published in: on October 7, 2007 at 11:24 am  Comments (6)  

Geeky Pursuits

I’ve finally finished my sketch submission for my new company’s annual art contest. This year’s theme is “Passion is…?” so I drew up something filled with characters and things related to my geeky hobbies.

Geeky Pursuits

We were also required to describe our work in 25 words or less and here is the best I can come up with:

“Being passionate about several geeky pursuits such as technology, speculative fiction, computer games and comics meant that each one is constantly vying for my attention.”

A submission can be a sketch, a sculpture, a painting or a photograph. Sketching is what I feel I do best so I went with that. I’m just hoping that nobody else has passed anything (or at least nothing better than mine) to increase my chances of winning the first prize, an 80Gb iPod. The winner will be announced on October 12 so that’s a month of anxious waiting. Wish me luck.

Published in: on September 13, 2007 at 6:18 am  Comments (10)  

Art Contest at the Office

I’m still very much enjoying myself at my new job. I feel pretty good because I believe I’m doing quite well with the tasks assigned to me since I started. I like the camaraderie and the work environment there. I love the view of Melbourne from our spacious pantry at the office. I’m thrilled that we have these company discounts for Dell and Apple products.

However, what really got me excited was the fact that there is currently an art competition going on at the office open only to all employees of the Melbourne branch. The art entry should be a painting, a photograph, a sculpture or a sketch. I figured I can at least submit a sketch that fits the contest’s theme.

If I win first prize, I’ll get a spiffy new 80GB iPod including a mobile sound system for the iPod. Although I already have a 4GB iPod Nano, I’ll certainly take the newer bigger iPod that allows you to watch video on it. Even though the second prize is only a 8GB iPod Nano, that still has more storage capacity than what I already own. The third prize is an iPod Shuffle which I’m totally not interested in but, hey, I’ll gladly accept that, too.

The submission deadline was supposed to be this coming Friday but was moved to Friday week. That and the fact that the contest organisers have been bombarding us with email reminding everybody about the contest makes me think (or at least hope) that there aren’t a lot of entrants yet. The less people who join, the bigger my chances of winning so I’m not really complaining. I’m just worried that they may cancel the contest altogether if there weren’t enough art entries.

So, I spent the weekend thinking about what to draw for the contest. As of this writing, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to sketch but I have yet to actually draw anything on paper. I’m hoping to start and finish the piece tomorrow. I’ll probably post a thumbnail of the final piece here when I’m done. In the meantime, you can see a small rough thumbnail of what I intend to draw on the right.

Wish me luck.

Published in: on September 4, 2007 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pixar at the ACMI

When we heard that there was a Pixar exhibition in town, Raquel and I rushed to the ACMI at the Federation Square in the CBD to see it. As a wanna-be artist/cartoonist, I found the exhibition itself very educational and inspirational. It was amazing to see the miniature figurines (called maquettes) and the various pastel-drawn work used as reference by the Pixar artists and animators.

It’s just too bad we weren’t allowed to take photos of the actual exhibit so the best we could do was take photos of the replica of Pixar movies’ characters such as Sulley and Mike from Monsters, Inc., Sally from Cars and Luxo Jr., Pixar’s mascot.

By the time we were finished at the exhibit, it was already dark outside but not too dark. So, we figured we might as well take a few more photos of Melbourne just as the light in the horizon was fading. I’ve added a few of those photos with the Pixar album if you are interested.

Pixar at the ACMI

Anyway, for those of you interested in seeing the Pixar exhibition, the event is officially called Pixar: 20 Years of Animation and will end on October 14. Here are some pertinent details of the exhibit from the ACMI website:

Until Sunday 14 October 2007
Full $15 Concession $10
Book your exhibition tickets online

Family tickets available from $44 (2 adults, 2 children).
Phone 03 8663 2583

Published in: on August 13, 2007 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

We Have Hamthology!

I wrote about a little comics project I’m part of called Hamthology a while back. Our complimentary copy of the published graphic anthology was sent to us at around that time. I was even afraid that it might get damaged when it got here to Australia as the postman might try to squeeze the package into our tiny mailbox.

Two weeks later, we got good news and bad news. We got a slip in the mailbox informing us of a package waiting for us at the post office. That’s good news because it meant that our books were still hopefully intact. The bad news was that the post office opens its doors to customers only at hours when we are usually at the office. One way to claim the books was to wait for the post office to open and be late for work. Either that or call in sick. I chose to do the former.

The books came in a thick carton box designed to fit the two books exactly. It was sealed with a lot of tape, too, for added security. Since I was in a rush to drive to the office, I never had the time to open the box.

It wasn’t until Raquel and I got back home in the evening were we able to finally open the box and admire the books we long waited for. I was so happy to see it. It was actually pretty good for our (as in we and our friends at Ponju) first independently published book.

With a modest price tag of US$10, we earnestly hope that it will sell at anime and comics conventions in the US as well as through the online store at Lulu.com. Sell enough books and we’ll be able to get back some of the money we’ve invested in creating it. Or at least have the profits from the first book go towards the publication of the second book which we are already planning for.

PS. To our Pinoy friends: Happy Independence Day!

Published in: on June 12, 2007 at 12:47 am  Comments (2)  

Hamthology, Out Now!

You may recall that I involved myself in a comics anthology project called Hamthology last year. As a quick recap, here is a description of the project:

The people of the Ponju “Piggy Farm” online community of webcomic artists, writers and fans (of which I’m a member) has recently started a comic book anthology project. The end product is a book the size of most American graphic novels you’d see in Borders nowadays, but maybe thicker. Instead of one long comic book story, it’ll contain a collection of short comics each created by a different team of people who are members of the community. That includes me.

On top of submitting a short comics story about a young busker girl living in Victorian-era Melbourne, I was also taken in as editor for the publication but had to bow out due to an increased work load in the office (my day job as an IT analyst programmer). However, near the date of printing, I resumed my editorial role and helped proof-read the text in the anthology.

And now, after a long wait, our baby is finally finished and available for sale starting this week! As initially planned, my American colleagues will be selling copies of our book at anime and comics conventions across the US. And for those of us who couldn’t buy them at those conventions whether because we don’t go to those or we simply don’t live in the US, we can buy the book direct from the printing press at Lulu.com.

Here is the description of our book as written in Lulu.com:

Everyone undertakes a quest at some point in their lives, whether it be as mundane as fetching groceries from the store or as grand as researching a cure for a deadly illness. In the first Hamthology: The Quest, the artists and writers of The Piggy Farm forums take you on range of quests in ten short comics.

Join a variety of protagonists as they dodge enemy agents to make a contact, prove themselves in wrestling tournaments, and piece together the story of a silent ghost. From the hilarious to the heartfelt, there’s a little something for everyone in here.

Suitable for ages 10 to adult. Contains mild action scenes, mild language, and some mature themes. For more information, visit http://hamthology.ponju.com.

The Hamthology: The Quest (Volume 1) has the size of your typical graphic novel and is 122 pages thick. And all for only US$9.99!

As a contributor, I’d be getting two complimentary copies of the book via post in the next few days. Raquel and I can’t wait to get our hands on it.

Published in: on May 25, 2007 at 1:01 am  Comments (2)