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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in The Cartoon God's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, June 5th, 2010
5:34 pm
Sigh
You would think finding a community to ask artists for hire if they're interested in paying work would be easier. And yet I apparently can't find my way around anything.

Anybody?
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
9:44 pm
Way too much about cartoons.
It should come as no surprise that I've watched far more than are listed here which include (bur are far from limited to) The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, Rainbow Brite the Movie, The Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, the TMNT CGI movie (which I'm surprised isn't on there) and The Adventures of Raggety Ann and Andy (the one with the camel and that creepy song in the land of candy) to name a few. Also, I'm not gonna bother doing anything more than Xing what I've seen but I left all that other junk up there for those that want to copy and paste it.

The Animated Movie Meme:
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Sunday, July 20th, 2008
10:12 pm
Stuff
I sent out the first draft of the script for the first episode of Chase Dakota yesterday. Of all the people who have read it, all feedback has been positive. A couple minor change suggestions which need to be done once more data is collected, but it's apparently a pretty solid piece of goodness. Anyone that feels like reading it, just let me know. My buddy Dave is coming over tomorrow and we're gonna talk about constructing Chase's weapons which are a cross between Tonfas and those things that Kroenen uses in Hellboy. I feel like I should start some kind of journal chronicling the whole creation of the show and I wonder if that might not be just too early. Maybe a MySpace page or something simple where I can keep blog entries and stuff. Anyone interested?

I actually drew up most of the next Chef Dan comic today. It's been a long, long time since I've worked on it and it felt pretty good to get back into it. I'm rusty, that's for sure. Gotta do a little better drawing a scattering crowd running from a zombie, though. Once that's done I can ink it out, and then I need to find a place for my scanner because it's still not hooked up. I think I'm just gonna save that for Friday.

Did a decent amount of work at converting the script for History Buffs into a graphic novel. The alterations are relatively few and now I'm into the territory of scripting out new stuff. I know where this chunk of the story is going so far so that's nice, it's the meat of getting there that takes some work. I'm already kind of turning Flipper into a very Deadpool-esque character, but he's my favorite comic character so that's understandable. I'm having a lot of fun with it so far. Gotta get working on Worst Summer Ever, too.

Saw the Dark Knight on Saturday and enjoyed it quite a bit but thought it lacked direction. Maybe I'm just being conventional and I understand that the message is that Batman's work is never going to be done, but I dunno. When I think of a good script I think of a solid start, middle, and end rather than a bunch of intertwining stories like a TV show. Personally, I thought Batman Begins was better. An absolutely phenomenal performance by Ledger even if I still don't like how they portrayed him visually.

Tomorrow marks my start of 10-hour days. Which means I'd better get my ass to sleep.
Saturday, July 19th, 2008
6:31 pm
I survived days 3 and 4 at my job. I'm not as gung ho "oh my god this is gonna suck" as I was when I made my last post, but I'm still on the fence. It's a little...intimidating how little they've planned this position, though. Here's what I mean and let's see if I can explain this in a way that doesn't make my own brain implode with confusion.

Now, Laserfiche is a documentation archiving tool. It's purpose is to import scanned documents. These documents can have metadata tags associated with them, and can even be done automatically. For example, I will be starting by importing project folder documents from about 15 years ago. As MTS is an engineering facility, certain documents will have things like an engineer's name associated with it for example. This process can even be done by a document recognition process and each document can use a process called OCR which recognizes characters and can usually populate all text on an image document into a searchable database. However, this thing is a lot more trouble than it's worth.

Basically, I have 2000 (I'm not exaggerating, this was the number I was told) boxes full of files and folders, all of which need to be scanned. Now, I've had at least 1 meeting so far about what types of documents can be scanned and what can be tossed, and most of the folders have at least 50% garbage in them so far. Still, I have to go through each project folder (each box so far has about 20 folders) and remove staples and paperclips, then sort the papers. I estimate that just sorting each box of projects will take me a day or two. For simple math, let's take the optimistic approach of a day. I'm now at 2000 days (or 10 years based on a 200-day work year) for sorting alone.

Then there's not just scanning, but file management. One thing that came along and blindsided me was something called Retention Identifiers. Each of these documents have a code associated with it which dictates how long a document must be held for before it can be destroyed or the maximum time you're allowed to have it. Obviously the date that the file can or must be destroyed changes for each document based on creation and as such can't be automated (I'll get to how worthless the automation is in this scenario) so it must be entered manually. So now you take 1 project folder which may have up to 500 pieces of scannable paper, each scanned in by what kind of file they are, then data is entered manually for everything else.

The reason you can't automate this (or why it would be dumb to) is because it can't do what I thought it could at first, which was recognize documents. Instead you create bar codes that you can associate documents with. Those bar codes dictate what is filled into the fields automatically. It sees bar code #XXX, knows it's for project 111.11, then knows that said project has X engineer, it was done on X date by X project manager. Handy to do if A) you didn't have to break them all down by document and B) you didn't have to prepare a spreadsheet with all that information beforehand. Not much point to collect and type all the information into a spreadsheet just to avoid having to collect and type while you're scanning.

So yes, this was poorly planned and will take about 20 years just to get the old information into the system (which says nothing for current projects), but I'm also now part of the planning process. I've had 3 meetings in 4 days with another set for Monday. I've created documents for which sheets get tossed and stay, a 4-page document for a meeting about Laserfiche and how to handle the file and folder structures, and there will be plenty more to come. This seems like a LOT of work for a temp to be doing and I don't understand exactly what it is that I'm there to be doing over the next 6 months if this project can literally go for 20 years. Seriously, this is enough work to justify staffing a full 5-person department over and they have 1 person working on it for the next 6 months.

It feels nice to be included and I've done enough with this already that I'm not looked at as just some temp worker here to be a slave. I guess my biggest question is why they couldn't get someone in the company to answer any of these questions beforehand. What kind of company that expects all this stuff from an employee would go through a temp agency and expect to find someone? Not to toot my own horn too much here or anything, but I feel like they got really lucky finding me with the experience I have.

So I'm not really sure what's going on here, if it could become a temp to hire position or what, but we'll see. I want to talk to Rod, my boss, on Monday and ask some of these questions, but he seems to be almost as out of the loop as I am. And I don't want to make it sound like, "how did you think a temp would be good enough to do all this?" to sound like I'm complaining about the workload. This is just so much more involved than what I would have expected temp work to be. Certainly more in-depth than any temp work I've ever heard of.
Thursday, July 17th, 2008
7:27 am
I'm about to start day 3 at the job and I was rather surprised to find this morning that I'm already starting to slip into the listless world I always seem to with jobs. It was surprisingly fast with this one, but it's because of what I found out yesterday. Remember all the things I said my job would be? Well, scratch most of them. I have been making a couple documents, one of which is to use in a meeting tomorrow morning with people involved in this Laserfiche project. And other than an hour and a half meeting yesterday with our Laserfiche rep that was really informative, it's been painfully boring.

After I learn this program and we get things the way the company wants to use them (folder hierarchy and structure, file naming conventions, etcetera) my day will consist of going through boxes and boxes, 2000 total, of project files and such. I must then remove every staple and paper clip, go through every page to decide whether it's worth keeping or not, then put them into a specific order. That's when I get to scan them into the system. And if things are set up correctly, so much of it is automated that I'll really just be sitting there watching it. Thank god for my MP3 player.

As for website stuff, that's not what I thought it would be either. The Laserfiche program comes with a web interface for people throughout a company to use so I don't have to design anything. What I might be doing is manipulating the style sheet and that, depending on how much they want changed (if anything at all) will probably take me all of a few minutes. So that's a bit of a letdown.

The Chase Dakota project is picking up a little momentum. I already have an art director/production designer, an audio engineer, people to help with the script, some actors, and some bands willing to contribute to the soundtrack. This weekend I'll be hammering out the details for the first episode's script and see how much I need to manipulate from the beginning of the original movie script.

Better get my shoes on and go. I have a long day of staple removing ahead of me.
Monday, July 14th, 2008
11:10 am
Timing is a funny thing.
My sister spoke with a few people she's working with on this short film a friend is doing and they were interested in helping out. I have one of their email addresses now, though she forgot to email me or write down the other one last night. One of them is an art director and the other is an audio engineer. I also met a friend's boyfriend at the housewarming party who graduated with a degree in video game production and is interested in doing some of the smaller special effects for the show. My plan is to get everyone's email addresses and then send out one mass email to everyone who said they were interested. I want to get a list of what people can and can't do, what they have access to, things like that. Knowing what kind of resources I have available will dictate what kind of show I'm able to do. Hell, if we get a couple people who want to do special effects, I might be able to go with Chase after all.

The thing about timing is that it's funny to me for all of this to come back into play the day before I start working again. Being out of work for all this time as been boring. I mean, I've done my share of cleaning and writing and kept myself periodically busy, but a lot of my days are spent watching movies and reading. I was painting those figures for a while before I figured that the work it takes to make them wouldn't be worth what I might make on the side. So now I will be going back to work at a time where my thoughts will be occupied by show ideas.

I like to think I have a pretty good understanding of my own psyche so I know the first week or so of my job won't be an issue. It's once I start getting into doing nothing but scanning or data entry all day that my mind will start wandering. Which isn't to say it's a bad thing since I can usually multitask with the best of them. My brain usually just does into autopilot on those situations anyway.

Oh, and speaking of jobs, I possibly realized the other day why I hadn't gotten a paycheck from Activision. See, when I started there my license had been expired. I got a new one during the 4 days I was there, but because I didn't have one at first I wasn't entered into their computer-based time card system. Instead, they had me tracking my hours with a spreadsheet. I didn't even think about it when I quit because at Mercury I had been salary for so long that I haven't even thought about a timesheet in ages. Still, I told Chad, my supervisor, when I left about how that had happened and I still haven't seen it. So I need to call him and make sure I'm going to get paid.

Anyway, I guess I'll formulate a nice big letter to go out to people who are going to be helping with the project and then just sit on it until I get everyone's email addresses. Then I have to fix a shelf in the fridge because somehow condensation on the crisper drawer, possibly from the combination of humidity and all the cold beverages in the crisper drawers, cause a suction effect with the lowest shelf in the door and when I opened it up yesterday the thing busted right off. And then maybe I'll watch yet another movie.

Speaking of movies, we saw Hellboy 2 last night and while I liked it, I thought it was lacking something. The twins connection with the prince and princess is convoluted and contradictory (she tells Abe "he knows where you are because I know where you are" but then he can't find something she's hidden just minutes before he arrives), the "love story" between Abe and princess Nuada has zero substance (they talk briefly twice and Abe feels a kinship as an outcast, but that's about all and then they love each other), and everything else just seems to be an excuse to use a lot of (admittedly very good) special effects. Overall still a very fun movie and worth the watch, but unfortunately forgettable.

Oh, the housewarming party went well. It was a much smaller turnout than I had predicted, but it was pretty fun. Got to see a couple people I hadn't in a while, played some lawn games, some video games, ate, drank, and was merry.

The end.
Thursday, July 10th, 2008
11:37 pm
Indecision.
I need to learn to be decisive.

I just happened upon a small part of a script I wrote a long, long time ago. It's just one quick scene with a character introduction, but it's something I'd thought about doing a long time ago. Essentially it was a movie called Nerd Quest which involved a group of 5 people, 4 of which are nerds and one of which is the older brother that has a car, and they go on this ridiculous cross country road trip. The point of the trip is to get to a convention for a World of Warcraft-like game that they're all addicted to and has a new version coming out. But one of the kids stumbles upon some blog entry on a community from someone that says he's planning on blowing up the convention because they froze his account. I had a lot of funny plot ideas and stuff for that one.

Now, this would be easy enough to do in parts and release those, almost like episodes. The biggest problem I can see is how to convincingly do a road trip where, you know, you don't really go anywhere. Makes things difficult. That and the finale which would take place at the convention so I'd need like, a hundred people dressed like characters from this fictitious game, etcetera. Once scene would take place in a biker bar, too. Ok, writing that out shows me that it wouldn't work for right now because I would need too much. And that's why writing is nice.

Maybe I'm just not feeling the new show. It's something that seems fun, but not something that grabs my attention as much as I feel like it should. I'm limited by the lack of budget and it shows in that I plan a lot of my stuff to be more cool than my assets. Eh, whatever. I'll figure something out.
Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
1:38 pm
Creative stuff
Plotting the show goes fairly well. Surprisingly better than I thought it would. After I made that last post I spent the rest of the night coming up with character descriptions and creating new characters. From there, episode synopses just seemed to come with what I could do with those characters. I have the main "good" team down, some of the key players for the "bad" guys, and a couple of plot twists and surprises planned out. I also already have the gist of the season finale and where I'd like that to go. Still needs a LOT more work, but it's coming along steadily. And I have a handful more people I can ask to help on the production side that Leah is going to talk to, so if they agree, that'll save me a lot of trouble.

I already heard back from both Zach and Dan about doing their respective comics. Turns out Dan has already sketched out 15 pages, he just hasn't sent them to me for some reason. Too busy, I guess. He's gonna scan them and shoot them my way. Now, they were both down for doing graphic novels, but so far Dan is the only one delivering work. I'm hoping to work something out with Zach, but he HAS to commit himself to it this time. If not, no hard feelings, I just need him to do what he said he would. Still, that makes at least 1 more script I need to finish up while I work on all my other stuff. At least with that particular project I have a good amount of it already scripted out since I'm adapting it from the script of the cut scenes I wrote for that video game idea.

Today I wanted to mow the lawn and get started on some more Chef Dan, but it turns out Andrew (Leah's boyfriend) has today off so we'll be working on finishing cleaning out the garage instead. Which means I have to force myself to sit down and do Chef Dan tomorrow as I told Dan I would have at least 1 comic for him by the end of the week. And I need to do a lot better about getting done what I say I'll get done. Of course, my sleep schedule is still jacked so I could work on it tonight after Heather goes to bed. I'm usually still up for another 3 or 4 hours after that anyway.
Monday, July 7th, 2008
11:56 pm
Life and Changes and Stuff.
The wait is finally over. Today, I got a job. I got the call this morning around 11 for an interview at 2 at a place called MTS Systems. They make all kinds of machinery-related things like vehicle testers and even this rotating platform that tests the airflow and down draft on a Formula 1 racecar. Racecar is totally a palindrome and I haven't gotten to write one for a while. Anyway, by 3:30 I got the call back from the temp agency that I'd been offered the job and I start a week from tomorrow. Apparently my duties are varied from scanning with some program called Laserfische (that they've never used) so I have to teach myself that, then scanning documents, entering things into a database, and eventually I may be designing a website for them to utilize similar information. The whole thing sounds like a lot of fun and the website thing was kinda tacked on as an afterthought because the guy noticed I had the experience. Starts at 14 bucks an hour, to be renegotiated if the job starts to involve a lot of web development and programming, and goes for at least 6 months but probably more. Yay.

The "biggest news" I have is that I'm shutting down the Stupid Monkey site. There are a good number of reasons for this so I shall explain.

Firstly, I have no content. Steff dropped out of doing K&J months ago, my cousin Dan did 4 page sketches for Worst Summer Ever, and Zach had promised me the first version of a History Buffs poster by January and I got it last week. Hell, I even decided to do K&J myself and I just can't commit myself to it because I need to work on other things. Namely the Chef Dan comic (which has gotten itself an inexplicably large following despite having no more than a half dozen comics) and the internet TV show. The comics and the site have been a really big source of creativity for me for a long time (K&J turned 10 this year) but it's just not worth the effort anymore. Will it come back at some point? Probably. It always seems to.

Second was the name. It seemed to be an inexplicable form of controversy to some people that the name was similar to Seth Green's Stoop!d Monkey company responsible for Robot Chicken. I tried doing a contest a while back for creating a new Stupid Monkey logo and I was met with a lot of responses about how no one wanted to get involved in a lawsuit. Despite repeatedly explaining that A) the name is spelled different so that's enough and B) that I created it 10 years ago and have proof of such, no one seemed to care. Hell, I was even accused of naming it AFTER his company so I could snipe people that do a web search and spelled his company wrong. I'm changing mine to Sandstorm Genesis. Both Dan and Zach have been asked about doing Worst Summer Ever and History Buffs as graphic novels which would be released under the Sandstorm Genesis label. Still waiting on what they'll say.

As for what I'm focusing on, Chef Dan comics will be started this week and I'll be working more on the internet TV show premise primarily. I was going to do the Beyond Control show Lucas and I were working on, but it's just not something I was that into on my own. Then I was going to do Chase Dakota, but the whole thing hinged on finding someone willing to do special effects for free and that's just not happening. So I'm creating a new idea about a guy who is saved from an attempted murder to find out that he, and hundreds of others, were injected with something on the day they were born that altered their genetics. Each result is different and surfaces at different times, some get really smart, some go mad and kill people. Still a work in progress, but I have some ideas.

Tomorrow is Heather and I's 1-year anniversary. Yay. Saturday is our housewarming party. for now, that is all.
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
11:51 pm
Job 'n' Such
I've sent out my resume to more than half a dozen more places. I had heard back from Luke about working where he does and he told me that they're apparently planning on doing some hiring around the end of the month. Then I got a phone call this morning from Pro Staff that they want me to interview for a job next week. It's nothing amazing, data entry into a database, scanning, things like that, but it's an engineering firm and my background with databases and schematics should give me a little bit of a leg up. And I might be wrong about this, but the place, MTS, is, I believe, the place that used to contract PemStar when I worked for them. If that's the case, I might actually know a few people there, assuming those people would still be working there after all this time. How weird would that be? Oh, and while I was searching for jobs I came across the QA Engineer ad at Wand Corp that had been updated less than 2 weeks ago. So that's why no one is answering me. Nice.

I kinda gave up on selling the repainted figures. The best advice I got wasn't even from someone on the communities I posted to and that was just to pick a base price, like 40 bucks, and throw it on Ebay then just see what happens. He made a really good point about charging what I felt my time was worth and at 40 bucks a figure, when the easiest ones take about 8 hours, my time is then worth $5 an hour or less. So it's hard to gage something like that and I decided it really wasn't worth it. I'll keep painting them for myself and at least that way if I do sell them later, I won't feel too let down if I don't sell them for what I feel they're worth.

The biggest problem I'm having is that I feel way too cooped up lately. The stress of the financial situation is getting to both Heather and I pretty bad. She's got wicked tension knots and I haven't left the house in days because I can't afford to do anything, or even the gas to get there. I mean, I go outside, mow the lawn, things like that, but I haven't actually GONE anywhere in over a week. I'm getting some serious cabin fever and I can't think of how to get rid of it. Maybe I should just take a walk tomorrow.

I was going to eat an ice cream sandwich and totally forgot.
Sunday, June 29th, 2008
11:58 pm
That's the end of that.
Friday morning I called in and quit at Activision for 2 reasons. The first is that Thursday night one of the other newer guys, Nik, turned to me and asked, "So, how did you get hooked up with this summer job?" So that pretty much drove home how much it would have gone no where. The other was the realization that, with those hours, I couldn't even effectively look for another job during the day. In order to stay up until after 2 AM I have to sleep until about noon. So there's half the work day gone already. Then most peoples' lunch breaks are from noon to 1. With me having to be at work by 3, that roughly leaves a window of between 1 and 2 in the afternoon to schedule interviews when I'm not sending the ol' resume out. It already did a number on my schedule as it is and I'm trying to get it back to normal gradually.

I emailed Wand again on Thursday and haven't heard back. I reactivated myself with the Spherion staffing agency that I used years ago and got them an updated resume then called Pro Staff to get set up there. Turns out Digital People is an affiliate of Pro Staff so they had my info, I just had to take some tests. It was in the middle of those tests that my wireless card died at pretty much the most inopportune time possible. So I finished the tests on Heather's computer (where I am now). Anyway, neither place had anything for me. My buddy Luke is talking to his boss and will get back to me.

In the meantime I'm hoping I can get some of those Turtles figures out the door. I still only have the 3 originals done, but I have about 9 more in the middle of being painted. Problem there is that even after posting images of the 3 done ones in several places and asking how much people might pay, or even be interested in buying at all, the only thing I got was a bunch of people telling me how cool they looked. Don't get me wrong, that's encouraging in its own way, but doesn't answer my damn question.

So here I sit, bills about to come piling up and me with 130 bucks in the bank. It's about to be one interesting month.
Thursday, June 26th, 2008
2:13 pm
Meh
I have to tell you...Testing video games is a lot of fun. My favorite part is seeing the progression of the game as it goes through the various stages. I played a couple different versions of a Hot Wheels racing game and the differences were remarkable. You can discover a lot of interesting things in an incomplete game.

But I'm looking for a different job already. The hours suck, but they're tolerable because at least I have weekends off. The problem there is that apparently MN law says that you MUST clock out for a half hour break for every 5 hours you work. And because "technically" my day is 11 hours (3 PM - 2 AM), that means I have an hour and a half that must be unpaid. Which, in actuality, means I'm working for 9 1/2 hours a day. Plus every break, paid and unpaid, must be taken at the same time as everyone else. No exceptions. The bottom line is that, fun or not, I can't pay my bills on 9 bucks an hour. But hey, at least I gave it a shot. In the meantime I'll just do this because I need the money but I have a friend checking his work, tomorrow I'll call the old staffing agency I used to work for and maybe see if they've got anything, and take it from there.

Another thing that worried me was being outside on a break and listening to a few people talk about last testing season's paychecks. I mean, it worried me enough that these people weren't able to stick around after the last testing season, but 2 people in particular were talking about taking home a paycheck that was a little over what I made at Mercury, and they talked about it as if it were the damn Golden Fleece. So apparently, anything near what I made per check at Mercury, in a regular 40-hour week, is almost unheard of here no matter how much you bust ass.

Current Mood: disappointed
Monday, June 23rd, 2008
12:53 pm
Here we go.
In 20 minutes I leave for my first day at Activision. Digital People had nothing for me and getting a simple "we haven't made the decision yet" was like pulling teeth from Wand. Though, after learning some fun stuff about them from an anonymous response to one of my last posts (go check it out) I'm kind of ok with that. Something about pending lawsuits by screwed over employees and being investigated by the FBI for employees writing viruses. So as a last resort I opted for Activision. 9 bucks an hour isn't much, but at least I got them to give me a set Monday through Friday schedule, even if the hours are from 3 PM to 2 AM.

I really, really hope this goes somewhere further than testing, though. The testing season should be ending no later than November and after that I can look into getting a permanent position with the company. But if nothing is available...it's back to square one. But I won't think too much on that right now. Let's cross that bridge when we get to it.

And I'm off!
Thursday, June 12th, 2008
12:22 am
Man..
Moving was quite the ordeal.

I just got the wireless connection set up on my computer and when I have more time I'll fill everyone in on the fun. But hey, at least we all made it safe and sound with no major catastrophes.
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
4:20 pm
Oh, hi there.
In work news, it looks like I pretty much have that Wand job. Last Monday I called and asked about the status and the woman told me it can take up to 2 weeks. I figured that was reasonable, but instead heard back the next day that they wanted me to come in to take some assessment tests. Obviously I couldn't do that, and the woman who I spoke with, Mandi, didn't realize I wasn't in town yet. So they sent me a link to do the tests online. The first was about testing, which I got a 52% on (with 50 being passing) because it was all about automated testing and professional stuff. I had to look up most of what I answered and even then apparently didn't understand everything I should have. But it was a timed test so I didn't have the luxury of taking my time.

The second test was called Office Basics, which I assumed meant Microsoft Office programs, but was instead about working in an office. So I had questions like what size in millimeters an A4 piece of paper is and one that was something like "The receptionist is out for the day and you're asked to cover phones. You soon find that you can't answer the phones AND get your regular workload done. What do you do?" So that was random. The last test was about Windows XP knowledge which I got an 85 or 90 percent on.

Anyway, I finished that up, sent an email back saying I passed them all but squeaked by on the testing since it was primarily about automation, something we don't use, but was looking forward to. They set up an in-person interview for 2 days after I get there and in the meantime sent me the application, background check, the standard paperwork. It's not definite or anything, but it seems at this point that having the interview is more of a formality.

I would still like to have the interview at Activision, though. I was thinking originally that I would tell them I wouldn't take less than 11 bucks an hour. Then I upped that in my head to 13 with the reasoning that Wand, assuming they were fine with my salary requirements (and I like to assume they were since they kept going with the interview process) would be paying me even more than I make now plus benefits. So I'd be taking a huge step back. Then the following happened:

Remember a post a bit ago where I found out my CPAP machine wasn't covered and they billed me? Well, yesterday I got a call from a collection agency saying that had been sent to them. I explained that I had just received the bill in April, but the woman I spoke with didn't seem to know (or care) why it had come to her. She was just calling because she was supposed to. Though, in a funny twist, the first part of the conversation went like this:

Her: Can I speak to Josh Shoberg (pronouncing it Shoe-berg)?
Me: That would be me.
Her: (pause) Um...you sound a lot older than the person I'm supposed to be looking for. Can you verify your date of birth for me?

Seriously. Apparently she's unaccustomed to a near-30-year old male having a deep voice. How I attract these people I'll never know.

Anyway, I get this at work and leave to go get the bill and call the medical place. I get someone and ask some questions and in short, they didn't send it to collections for non-payment, they sent it there because my mail was being returned from my PO box. Random pieces of mail, apparently, because I've been collecting mail every day since I forwarded my address. So the bottom line is that the medical company, rather than picking up the phone and calling me, sent my bill to collections where they picked up the phone and called me.

I called the collections place back and wanted to make sure my credit wasn't going to be dinged because it wasn't sent there as part of a default payment problem. I was told that, it doesn't matter why it's there, the fact that it's there gives me 60 days to pay it off before it starts to negatively effect my credit. So at least I have 60 days, but it looks like something is conspiring against me having this Simpsons game. We'll see what I can pull off.

The Chef Dan game is...I have no idea. Taylor, the girl (and I say that because she's 17) I had doing illustrations hasn't sent me an email in a few weeks. She was going great, coming up with decent work, quickly corresponding, and then one of the levels she drew me was wrong. She simply did a top view of a hallway and I told her it's a side-scroller and as such all levels would be from the side. I thought I'd made that clear, but apparently not. So after I told her I needed it redone, I stopped hearing from her. Ryan hasn't worked on programming because he was finishing up schooling things, and otherwise we're at a standstill.

My own projects are going relatively well. I haven't had time to do more K&J, but my cousin Dan has 4 pages sketched of Worst Summer Ever and I've got the first page colored. Zach has promised to have the History Buffs poster done by the end of the month, and when I get into town I'll hopefully be starting with that Beyond Control project. Well, the writing and planning of it, at least. If I can get that to go through, I have to take a step back and seriously re-list my priorities on my projects. I can't possibly take on all the work I'm doing if I'm gonna be filming something 4 days a week or so.

Friday is my last day of work, then my going away work gathering, then the possibility of camping, then Dave gets into town on Tuesday while we pack. Next Friday is my going away/birthday party with the closer friends, then Sunday we load the truck and Monday we head out. I may post before that, but I think that pretty much takes us way, way up to date.
Saturday, May 17th, 2008
10:37 pm
I have a feeling I'm the only person you'll hear say this.
I do not like GTA 4.

In the first hour, here are a handful of the things I have learned.

1) Either all cars have tires made of a thin plastic polymer or the roads are made of some form of ice. There is NO traction and little acceleration. You have the E-brake, which seems to be the only thing giving you the ability to steer, and most of the time that just spins you 180 degrees if you manage not to hit something first.

2) Physics hates you and loves you at the same time when you're in a car. It all depends on what you hit. A garbage can will send you careening into a series of midair flips and barrel rolls while taking an actual jump that launches you 100 feet or more is landed with incredible precision.

3) You CAN fall asleep while playing a video game. I literally almost found myself nodding off DURING THE GAME. One of the first things you do is go on a date, which is bowling. And then you actually bowl. And there is a whole small in-game physics to bowling. And you watch your date bowl (which you can thankfully skip). And when you're done, you go home.

4) There is not a single radio station in the game that I like. Despite having something like a dozen, I found not one that played the kind of music I listen to. I don't know what happened. There was a really kick ass hard rock station in the last one. Now I lucked out by coming across Fleetwood Mac and once caught the tail end of a song by Smashing Pumpkins; a band I'm not terribly fond of, but in comparison to the Reggae and Jazz stations, something I could stomach.

5) I actually experienced real road rage. I hardly get that in real life, but this game really caused it. The advantage being that I got to play out my fantasies and just keep ramming into their cars with no consequences.

To sum up, in no particular order, I got intrigued, angry, bored, angry again, even more bored, and then confused in the span of an hour. Despite the few times I had to punch someone, this felt like Life: The Video Game. I got stuck in traffic, lost in the city, went on a date, bought pants, and then did a spectacular crash because I hit a small garbage can going 35 miles per hour. On the plus side, since the game is so new I should get a good amount of store credit.

Current Mood: disappointed
Friday, May 2nd, 2008
9:22 am
What's new, eh?
Well, after the last cryptic post I did some scrambling. The short of it was that my insurance decided not to cover my CPAP machine for my sleep apnea so I now owe yet another almost $1000 bucks in medical bills. They'll just get payments over time like everyone else whether they like it or not. I'll deal.

Activision is becoming less of a sure thing the more I think about it. I'm going to go in there and tell them while I know they want me on the team, and I would do a hell of a job for them, I'm not going to accept the same $9 per hour pay rate (literally half of what I make now) as some kid off the street, fresh out of high school with no experience. They may not like it, but I'm not gonna screw myself over. So if they're not comfortable with paying me more, I'll ask about other positions.

In the meantime, something kinda funny happened. I applied for a handful more jobs on Wednesday, one of which was a place called the WAND Corporation. All I knew was that they wanted a software QA tester, which is what I do now anyway, so I figured what the heck and applied. Less than 24 hours later I had a response asking me to fill out a written interview and send it back in a certain amount of time. So I did this and sent it back within 2 hours. While I was talking to people at work about it they asked what the place did and I admitted that I honestly had no idea. So I go to their website and find that they're a point-of-sale system developer that is actually integrated with us. So that explains why they were so eager to hear back from me! On the salary requirements I asked for 42-45K a year so we'll see what they say. It's rare to find someone with industry experience, I'm betting.

I also got a call back about an hour after that from another place called Digital People. I didn't realize they were a staffing agency, but they specialize in multimedia staffing, which is pretty interesting. I got some contact information mailed to me and if nothing else works out when I go back home, I'll give them a shot. I also applied for 3 positions at Shop NBC, but haven't heard anything.

In other news, the Chef Dan game is going really well. We have our first artist signed on and I should be getting the first level designs next week sometime. Ryan is plugging along with learning how to use the program we're making the game in, Dan is doing his part to get information on the business end, and I've got the main chunk of the entire intro and first levels written out. Part of that is going to involve a side quest to unlock the availability to listen to all the MP3s of the contributing bands (we have 2 lined up already) on a juke box in a bar. I'm really excited about how well it's coming together. Most of my projects never get this far.

Speaking of projects, June is the 10-year anniversary of the creation of Kyle and Josh. Steff is more or less out of the picture at this point so I'm actually starting up K&J on my own. Preliminary sketches have been good and I'm working on coloring an example page which, while nowhere near pro, turned out a lot better than I expected. I'm taking it a slightly different direction in that I'm going to follow the Seven Stones graphic novel storyline I created a while back (that I was also going to use for the movie). I figure that way if Steff either decides to work on it again or another artist wants to, they can pick up the issues of K&J and I can have 2 versions going on simultaneously. Zach is going to try finishing up the History Buffs poster next week and hopefully start getting some pages done in time to post them in June when I unleash the new K&J stuff.

My cousin Dan has gone MIA so Worst Summer Ever still needs an artist, as do the other bazillion of my projects, but Taylor, the artist on the Chef Dan game, is interested in working with me on one of them after the game stuff is done with. So that's pretty much awesome.

My last day at work is 3 weeks from today, then 10 days after that we head back to Minnesota and a whole new life. I'm excited. And sore from last night's softball practice.
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
3:11 pm
Jesus.
What a fucking day. More later if I feel up to it.
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
11:41 am
Sometimes.
Sometimes I wish I could just shut my brain off. Not in the sense that I'm stressing out about stuff, but in the creative sense. My dad works all day, then comes home and sits in front of the TV watching sports and news and whatever, and I just can't seem to do it. I'm constantly being bombarded with new ideas and things like that make it hard to pick something and focus. In the midst of waiting for everyone to deliver artwork, I started painting the Turtles figures again since I've finally found a way to make the paint work and make it look cool. I've thought about selling them if they turn out well, but we'll just have to see. I do have some extra money to buy a few display cases, even with the move. Time will tell.

Another cool idea I thought of for a business would be an online thrift store like Amazon only for everything. People would mail in or drop off donations and then you just add them to categories, slap a price on each thing ($5 for a t-shirt, $1 for a VHS, etcetera) and people buy them that way. Does something like that exist already? I dunno. It's not necessarily anything I would ever pursue, just another of the ideas I've had.

I've also been working on a design document for a Chef Dan video game. I have a lead programmer, a couple people to work on sound, things like that. It's actually going pretty well overall. It'll be a 3D point-and-click adventure game where you essentially collect stuff and solve puzzles. Should be a good time when (if) we can get it up and going. The lead developer, Dan from Cook Man Food, and myself have a lunch meeting on Friday to discuss a bunch of stuff and take it from there.

I've also been talking with a new person I got a hold of, Nikki, who has volunteered to help work on the cartoon portion of the website. It's pretty insane that her cartoon knowledge almost parallels my own. We don't necessarily know the SAME thing, but so far it seems like we know the same amount. Which is scary. Anyway, she's also been looking for a Flash project so I've been working on getting her information for that cartoon quiz thing I've been wanting to do for years. I've got a good number of the questions, but I'm hoping to have 25 for each category (easy, medium, hard, and ridiculous) and I'm not quite there yet. Also there will be clues for each question which will drop your points in half so not only do I need to finish all the remaining questions, I need to make clues for them all. But that's really cool that it could actually come to fruition here.

Tomorrow at the local public station, DCAT, Jon, Jarrod and myself will be hosting a show where we get to BS about Face Eater, show a clip, that kind of thing. It's only about a half hour, but it'll be a cool additional extra for the DVD. And we've got a bunch of extras so far; behind-the-scenes pictures, commentary, the CEO's trailer (which is being slimmed down because the uncut version came in at 4 1/2 minutes), this interview, and a few more I think. Although speaking of the DVD, I don't know whether or not it's actually going to get the national distribution that they had been talking about for a while. Apparently there are some issues with John Harris at the distribution place that involve money, but I don't know the specifics.

Saving up to move is still going about the same. I had the Simpsons game in a Craig's List ad and in the paper over the last week and haven't gotten any bites so it looks like it's time to go the Ebay route. I should have it taken care of relatively quick, I just have to remember to do it. And I've got about 6 comics of the TMNT left to scan so once those are done I can throw that up on Ebay as well. Which is really too bad, but at least I have the scanned artwork.

And of course while I was scanning/reading through the comics I came up with more ideas for that Ninja Turtles fan comic I wanted to make and started making notes about that. It's going to incorporate a lot of the same story elements from the previous version, but the setting and start has changed significantly. Of course, I need an artist and that hasn't exactly worked out favorably in the past. But hey, I guess one never knows.

You know, what else is funny? I went through all of my posts from when I was trying to do the business I think I got a comment on 2 posts during that whole 2+ month period. It probably shouldn't bother me that I have like, a couple dozen people that apparently read this, but only about 4 that comment ever, but it does. Eh, whatever.

Soon will be the time to enjoy chicken wings! I can't seem to get enough of them lately.
Saturday, April 5th, 2008
9:05 pm
The biggest let-down in my video game history.
I was out at a mall and took a stop inside KB Toys with my girlfriend Heather, her brother Daniel, and his girlfriend Chrystal. I was near the checkout counter when I happened to notice a rack of games for 20 bucks and to my surprise I saw what is easily (in my humble opinion) one of the most awesome video game characters ever: Ninjabread Man. I mean, if you look at the cover where he's looking all bad ass while being attacked by a swarm of evil bees and angry cupcakes, you can only imagine the ridiculous potential for lunacy. I giggled myself into fits until my stomach literally hurt, but in a good way. And those of you who know me, know that this does honestly happen.

So of course I had to buy it. But little was I prepared for the biggest disappointment I have ever faced with a game. I got super hyped up about the Simpsons game only to play it for no more than 3 hours before tossing the controller in frustration that the camera simply ruins the gameplay. But let me tell you, I spent 1/3 of the time on this game. And beat it.

The game starts with the standard tutorial level wherein you learn how to jump, double-jump, swing your sword, or aim your throwing cookie star things. Very simple, easy tasks, but they get you prepared for what's ahead. Well, in the game, at least. For as long as that lasts. Anyway, after who I assume is your Ninjabread Sensei (complete with super long Fu Manchu mustache, another winner of a character) shows you the ropes, it's on to level 1. I was expecting a story here somewhere, but you'll never find one.

Once you get used to the relatively shoddy controls, you start to have a little fun. I mean, sure he runs too fast to control sometimes, or the sword swing of the Wii remote don't always register, or horizontal wafer sandwich platforms have edges that kind of jut out preventing you from jumping smoothly. But just look how fun he is! I had more fun running him around in circles than anything else based solely on nothing more than how much I love the character himself.

After I started dealing with the sword swings not registering, I worked around it by running by, hitting (or not hitting as the case may be) an enemy and then running away to loop back. But then I remembered my throwing stars, so I started using them. Eventually I noticed that, as I killed things, a meter started to gradually fill and it was taking me less and less throwing stars to kill things. And if that thing is full, it takes one hit from the stars, completely eliminating the need for a sword at all.

Now, I had completed level 2 and was on level 3 when I finally started getting a little sick of having no story or any real sense of what was going on. Having a kick ass character can only take the game so far. So I went back to the main menu and messed around to see what else I could find. When I selected my profile I was shocked to see that it was at 75%. Thinking this could not possibly be right, I went right back into level 3 to finish it and see what happened next. And would you like to know?

It took me back to the main menu.

You go through 3 levels collecting what are apparently "magic candies" that eventually open up a teleporter to go to the next world...and that's all. No boss battles (in fact, there are all of 4 enemies in the entire game: bees, cupcakes, pieces of cake, and...I know there's one more but it escapes me), no story, no ending...nothing. It's like playing a college kid's senior project. By the time I'd gotten used to the controls, the game was over. Completely unexpectedly.

Never before have I played a game and been instantly on the verge of outrage. So much in fact that I emailed the makers, Conspiracy Entertainment, to tell them that I would seriously question (but most likely never again) buying a title with their name on it. I did have to give them credit where credit was do and tell whoever created the character to give themselves a nice pat on the back, but that's the only thing this game has going for it: a really cool character that will never again see the light of day.

Current Mood: Beyond Disappointment
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