Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Push-up Day

First of all, thank you to all of the people who inquired about my progress throughout the month. It was appreciated. Second, I didn't take into account the fact that muscles grow faster than ligaments. There were times when my elbows hurt, so if you are thinking of attempting a similar feat, please keep that in mind. And third, I tried a tiered system I found off of the Internet and, like all things off of the Internet, things aren't what they seem.

The final total: 39.

Considering I started at 10, I think a nearly 300% increase is acceptable.

That means that some lucky (TBD) charity will receive a $61 check. Suggestions welcomed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

In due time.

If there’s one rule I’ve learned about creativity it’s this: everything in its own time.

That’s not to say that you can’t rush a thing out the door when a deadline is looming. Or that having more time will translate into a better final result.

It means that when an idea or a product or a thing is done, it’s done.

I have a friend who only writes one draft of a story. He’ll spend as long as he needs to in one sitting to get it done, but he never goes back to rewrite it. I can respect that. There’s something in going with your first instinct.

I have clients who want things from me “yesterday”, but they don’t realize the chain of events involved in bringing things to life. They only see the final product. And we make it look easy.

I have other friends who can’t wait for the next installment of Mr. Dog-Turd Hand. But every panel, every stink line takes time to draw. And sometimes the page just isn’t talking to me. So I wait—I take the time—until I’m ready to draw the next chapter.

The mythical Cyclopsicorn
Recognizing the process takes perspective and, thankfully, perspective can be had in several ways. The first is through separation. Giving yourself time away, like taking the advice to “look at it with fresh eyes in the morning”, is sometimes all a person needs to know whether a thing is completed. Another way is through experience. Doing a thing over and over again helps a person learn the nuances that can lead to shortcuts. And a third way is to just stop and listen. There’s a reason people say they “go with their gut” because it’s sometimes the best indicator of what a person knows before they actually understand it themselves.

Like this picture of this Cyclopsicorn. I set out to draw a unicorn, but a one-eyed unicorn just spoke to me. What can I say? The timing was right. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Best Picture 2

Casablanca is regarded as one of the best movies of all time. It's a fantastic movie and I highly recommend it, but I can't help feeling that some of its enduring quality is because it wasn't made in the Era of Sequels*. Think about it: would you still consider it as great if they had released Casablanca 2: Sam Plays It Again**? What about Sophie's Other Choice: Eeny, Meeny, Miney & Mo***? Citizen Kane: Rosebud's Revenge****? Tree of Life 2: The Branchening*****?

*****Patent Pending

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hugging the Client

On out of town business trips I’ve observed an interesting phenomenon that seems to occur with surprising regularity. It’s a phenomenon which I’ll call “hugging the client”. I call it that because that’s exactly what happens.

While my history as a “hugger” is spotty at best and ridiculed at worst*, I am not opposed to a good hug. I’m just surprised that, after a mere 24 hours, people known to me in only a professional capacity decide that they want to hug me. If it only happened once, I could chalk it up to that one person. But it seems to be happening with every client I meet. I guess it’s a testament to my charm and/or strong and inviting arms**? 

*You know who you are
**I have been doing a lot of push-ups lately

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Glass with Class

Opening bid starts at $300,000.99.

Rare dinosaur eggs. 3 for $3 million.

Crystal ball or crystal haul? $2,000.

Monday, January 23, 2012

These words entitle you to nothing.

On the latest episode of Parks & Recreation, guest star Paul Rudd plays a character used to getting everything he wants. He believes because he wants something that he is entitled to have it.

This sense of entitlement is something I’ve seen a lot lately. People seem to think I owe them something. Outside of basic common courtesies, like not giving them wet willies or wedgies in public, I don’t.

Right now, you are reading my blog. In fact, you are reading it for free. This is an important point—no money has changed hands. We have not engaged in a transaction.

While it is true that I have made a commitment to post a new article each day, I DO NOT OWE YOU AN ARTICLE A DAY. You are entitled to nothing.

That might sound harsh, but the beauty is that it goes both ways. YOU DO NOT OWE ME A THING.

So where does that leave us? Right back where we started at the beginning of this article. I write what I hope will be interesting to you and you decide if you want to come back or not. If I fail to post articles or post things you don’t like, you can stop reading. That, at least, is something to which you are entitled.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stop. Drop. And Post.

I’m continually impressed, when a natural disaster or crisis strikes, at the presence of mind people have to share things with their social networks as they are happening. Some of my favorites.
·      OMG! This hail is really coming down HARD!
·      OMG! A tornado just passed over my house. Sirens going off!
·      OMG! I think I’m about to be punched in the fsaslk;g
·      OMG! Locusts!
·      OMG! Aliens!
·      OMG! Zombies!
·      OMG! The snow is just piling up. There’s got to be at least 10 feet out there.
·      OMG! Taxes due tomorrow. IRS for realz???
·      OMG! The condom just broke.
·      OMG! My phone is being stol

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Catch the Phrase

Among trends I find annoying is when a celebrity, famous personality or public figure is patently trying to coin a catchphrase.
·      That’s what HE said.
·      Oh clap!
·      #Losing!
·      “dis-like”
·      “no likey”
·      “Likez”
·      Epic Snail
·      Oh no, you failed to do so.
·      Kryp-to-nite!
·      Dust off the White House shelves in 2012
·      Bro-Brother
·      Bunemployment
·      You can’t sneeze THAT into a tissue
·      Niiiiiice pantaloons.
·      That Tad Guy? More like: That RAD Guy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learnin' 'n' such

I recently canceled my Netflix membership, not because of anything they did, but because I realized that I wanted to do more with my time this year.

If you know me or have read this blog for any period of time, you’ll know that I like to learn stuff about things. That may seem flip, but it’s true: I enjoy the process of learning, oftentimes regardless of subject matter.

Take this past weekend for instance. I took a glass blowing sampler class (http://www.thirddegreeglassfactory.com) with a friend of mine. I learned that I’m really good at using the torches, okay at making paper weights* and horrible at cutting glass. And I also learned that my friends think it’s funny that I took a “glass blowing” class**.

After the class, I drove up to Chicago for a friend’s birthday. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to learn some Japanese for an upcoming trip. Using the Pimsleur system, I was soon saying “domo arigato” with the best of them***. But I also learned that you can only learn so much of a language at a time before your**** brain turns to mush.

My friends and I also learned that you can, in fact, sleep 8 adult humans in a single one-bedroom apartment*****. It's a lesson everyone should learn once in their life.

*Happy birthday/Merry Christmas/Joyous other event
**I suspect they just wanted to get me to use “blow” in a sentence
***Other people learning Japanese, duh
*****Chicago hosts: you rock

Friday, January 13, 2012

Musings & Melodies

I write for a living*. And over the years I’ve realized that I can only listen to certain types of music while I’m writing.
·      Instrumental music—Classical, Jazz, Electronic, Dub Step, a 15-minute shredding guitar solo, whatever. As long as there aren’t any lyrics or vocals to distract me, I’m able to concentrate just fine. Old favorite: Beastie Boys—The In Sound From Way Out
·      Foreign music—Spanish and French are my favorites, but I’ll take anything I can’t understand. Any good Klingon rock albums out there? Current go-to: The Best of the Gypsy Kings
·      Albums I’ve heard a thousand times—If I’m hearing an album for the first time, I can’t write anything—too distracted. Play that same album after I’ve heard it a few times and it slowly fades into the background to become a sort of languid wallpaper. Current indie darling: Washed Out—Within and Without
·      Catchy songs I listen to again and again—Curse you Katy Perry, with your loose morals and virulent T.G.I.F. If a song hooks me and doesn’t let go, I just hit play, over and over and over again, until it submits to its place in the background**. That and it’s just easier to keep playing the same song if it puts me in a good, steady writing groove. Song that just topped 63 plays in a row: Blondfire—Walking With Giants

Anyone else run into this with music? Is it just a writer thing? I know an art director who can listen to a whole movie while he works. And, of course, there are those seven dwarves with their incessant whistling …

*Not this blog. Heavens, no.
**Wow, that was sort of an aggressive sentence. I might need to switch up my music playlist soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The 99-cent-ers

Here's what happened: I was at a grocery store and the sum total of my purchase equaled $6.01. Let me be more specific: I was at Whole Foods. Why is that important? Because they have a policy* where the cashier asks you if you want to make a donation to some charity. It's not that I'm opposed to making donations or to charities, but I don't feel like the checkout line is the place to make--what I would hope would be--an informed decision about where to send my dollars. But there I was and the question was out there.

"Would you like to make a donation to XYZ charity?"

I decided to decline the opportunity. And maybe what happened next is Karma. Or maybe it was a jerk move by the cashier. But he, too, I felt, had an opportunity right then and there. He could have made a one-penny donation to me, his fellow man. But instead he decided--and I've never actually seen this happen before--to count out the full 99-cents!

Give a penny, take a penny?

Indeed, Karma. Indeed. 

*Perhaps "initiative" is a better word? How about "well-meaning, but annoying interaction"?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Series Review: A Song of Ice and Fire

[Includes: Game of Thrones, A Storm of Swords, A Clash of Kings, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons.]

The Premise:
A fictional land called Westeros is threatened by a mysterious enemy from without and its own ruling factions from within. This sprawling fantasy epic follows members of various ruling families: The Starks to the North, The Lannisters to the West, The Greyjoys of the Iron Islands, the deposed Targaryens and their usurpers, the Baratheons. Many bonds are formed and casualties had when everyone plays the Game of Thrones.

The Good:
Richly imagined by Mr. George R.R. Martin, this series does not lack for detail. Even though there are close to twenty main characters and hundreds of supplemental characters, each one seems to have their own personality and background. And many of them are worth hanging out with for hundreds of pages. The immersive world is also well thought out and the drama unfolds slowly, so when something happens it feels truly consequential.

The Bad:
I’m going to be honest: I feel another LOST coming on. I don’t think that Mr. Martin really knows where this story is going. Oh sure, he probably claims to have it all mapped out, but I have my doubts. After five books, each about 1,000 pages, the story hasn’t even begun to deliver on the premise set forth in the very first prologue. And, like LOST, he is still introducing new characters—a crutch used by authors and writers as a stalling tactic.

That all aside, one of my biggest problems with the story is Westeros itself. As this world expands and sprawls across oceans, I become less and less convinced that Westeros is a land worth fighting for. It seems to be poor in wealth; lacks technological advantages and the Lords aren’t even as powerful as their slave-owning counterparts. The characters fight for it because the author wants them to, not because they should.

And the books are sadistic. There are some genuinely horrifying elements that are described in all-too-grisly detail. An unnecessary description of a rape comes to mind, as well as the mutilation of a main character. Not things you’ll soon forget.

The Verdict:
Wait and see. Mr. Martin has said there will only be two more books and he doesn’t look to be in the greatest of health. With a six-year gap between the last two books, I would hold off on starting the series until its completion, unless you want to roll the dice and hope it all works out.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Tincture of Perspicacity

We here at That Tad Guy Industries have been solipsistic. And fatuous. And perhaps a bit indolent. Our 2012 posts thus far have focused on the physical because OUR resolutions have been ineluctably physical. But what, pray tell, of the mental? Is there naught room for erudition? To elucidate rather than adumbrate?

Our neglect has vitiated our intentions. We have become somnambulistic with our posts at times, but we promise to renew our ardor to a point just shy of unctuousness.

We appreciate your patience in our moment of grandiloquence.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Songs to which I workout*

1.     You’re The Best Around – Joe Esposito
2.     Eye of the Tiger –Survivor
3.     Portable Radio – Hall & Oates
4.     Search & Destroy – The Stooges
5.     Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones
6.     Bombs Over Baghdad – Outkast
7.     Panther Dash – The GO! Team
8.     How You Like Me Now – The Heavy
9.     Bounce – MSTRKRFT feat. NORE
10. Tonight – Moonbootica
11. Spaz – N*E*R*D
12. Faded – Soul Decision**
13. Toxic – Britney Spears***
14. Daylight – Matt & Kim
15. Stay Fly – Three 6 Mafia
16. Hate To Say I Told You So – The Hives

*Which may or may not explain my physique
**Yes, I freely admit that this song is terrible. Conversated? Rhymes with Faded.
***Toxic to masculinity? Perhaps.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Let’s talk Sodium (aka, Sod-i-YUM)

No one walks away from Salt for long. Just ask Pepper.
Sodium is salt. Salt helps you retain fluids, which is good. It also constricts blood vessels, which is bad. Salt enhances the flavor of foods, which is good. It also acts as a preservative, which can be bad. You need salt to survive, but too much salt will eventually kill you. Crying about sodium will produce tears, which contain sodium, which will help you reduce your sodium.

Confusing, right?

So what to do? Try to limit the amount of sodium you consume to less than 1500 milligrams per day*. Trust me, it’s harder than you think. Every time you dine out at a typical restaurant you’re treating yourself to sodium and lots of it. Processed foods in a can or that convenient on-the-go treat in a wrapper? Sodium. So read the labels and do the math. Every little bit adds up. Even in the so-called “reduced sodium” foods (reduced from a “ton” to a “whole lotta”) oftentimes contain more than you want (but are better than the original).

Until an ideal ratio of sodium-to-calories is made standard, food will contain too much sodium, so it’s your responsibility to monitor how much is too much. And it's my responsibility to serve you unappetizingly bland food whenever you visit. Fair is fair. 

*Ha! Good luck.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Calories demystified.

For the uninitiated (you), calories are a mystery. I was once like you. Confused. Confounded. Carefree. But one day, I was forced to take a more active role in my health and started by reading nutritional labels. And then I took a nap because, wow, are they boring.

Nutritional calories are made up of varying percentages three things: Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein (there’s a fourth source, alcohol, but it isn’t represented on nutritional labels and is delicious).

Fat calories have a value of 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrates and Protein have a value of 4 calories per gram. Alcohol, if you’re interested, has a value of 7 calories per gram (and is delicious).

To add to the confusion (or FUN!), there are different types of Fat.

Trans Fat is the current trendy pick for being the worst of the worst. It’s usually placed in italics for emphasis, like the hair standing up on cat’s back—DO NOT TOUCH! At the moment, Trans Fat is seemingly being phased out, however, it’s most often found in baked goods, like muffins and donuts. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s best to avoid this type of fat altogether.

Saturated fat is the next worse type of fat, but you should be able to consume up to two grams per day without significantly increasing your risk of heart disease (or so they tell me; I am not a doctor).

Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats are what are considered “healthy” fats, so long as you consume them in reasonable quantities, and are found in things like almonds. A handful of almonds per day is completely reasonable. A can of almonds the size of your fist? Not as reasonable.

Carbohydrates are also broken down on a label into smaller parts, basically “good” and “evil”.

Fiber is nature’s laxative. It keeps the food you eat moving along without any unplanned stops. I think the recommended daily amount is 35 grams of fiber. At that quantity it’s also recommended that you invest in some good reading materials for the bathroom. Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. One helps you retain water better, but I forget which is which and, honestly, most of the labels don’t even break it down to that level. So let’s just say that all fiber is good fiber.

The Mr. Hyde side of Carbohydrates is sugars. Sweet, sweet seductive sugars. Natural sugars found in fruit and vegetables are considered healthier (although sugar is still sugar and should be limited). Refined sugars are less desirable, but, like saturated fat, can be consumed in reasonable quantities. Let’s say a good ratio of sugar to total carbs should be 1:2. That sounds pretty reasonable, right?

Thankfully, mercifully, protein is just protein. But you have to consider the source. Protein from animals brings with it cholesterol, which should be consumed in moderate amounts, and the less red meat the better. Protein from soy, beans or nuts doesn’t have cholesterol and is a major protein source for vegetarians. 

Put them all together and you should ideally get about 20% of calories from fat, 40% from fiber-rich carbohydrates and 40% from lean protein. Or a sandwich. Which you can wash down with some alcohol*.

*No, I'm not trying to get you drunk.

Monday, January 2, 2012

100 push-ups

That’s the goal. All at one time. By the end of the month.

If you were hoping that I’d resolve to be a better person or pay my taxes* or blog on the weekends: no. I’m resolving to do the equivalent of a Jersey Shore episode, without the tanning, preening or STDs**.

Because this is the Internet, I could tell you that I already have the physique of a Gold Medal Olympian*** and you would have to believe me. It’s required by law in every country****, save Latvia. But I’ll be honest: I have the physique of a Bronze Medalist.

And after eating a goodly sum of Holiday fare, this Bronze Medalist was surprised to find out that he could do a Herculean ten (10) push-ups in a row. TEN. One Zero. Whoops.

But what good is a goal without an incentive to stay focused and motivated? Actually a lot of good, but what I propose is this: I’ll donate a dollar to some charity***** for every push-up shy of 100 (100 – X = $Y) that I am on January 31st. So if I do 75 push-ups, I’ll donate $25. If I forget to do the push-ups entirely, then it’s the full $100 (yikes). If I do all 100, then I get to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with not having to donate any money.

If you want to join me, go head-to-head or just make fun of me publicly, let me know. 

If you want more info on how to do a push-up(s): http://hundredpushups.com

*Gotcha, IRS agents. Too easy.
**I have it on good authority that hiccups are not a disease.
***Synchronized Floating
****The International Gullibility Act of 2012
*****A real one. Probably something to do with fitness. Feel free to send suggestions.