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The most insane things I have done because bugs.

The most insane things I have done because bugs. published on No Comments on The most insane things I have done because bugs.

Sorry for the absence, everyone. I had computer problems. Where did we leave off? Oh yeah… bugs are terrible.


This cartoon was inspired by real life events, a bit of an unusual move for me. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that it’s not just spiders that terrorize me. Once upon a time, which is fancy story telling terms for ‘about a week and a half ago’ I had an incident which started out with a clogged toilet, It was that toilet that prevented me from noticing the wasp on the faucet when I went to wash my hands. This left me with a dilemma- do I brave the wasp again to turn the faucet off or do I leave the water running forever? Gathering every single iota of bravery I had, I lunged at the faucet and promptly tore my fingernail down to the quick (boy am I glad I didn’t get stung!). Miraculously, the wasp didn’t move. Not wanting to press my luck, I backed slowly out of the bathroom, which seemed like a brilliant plan until I tripped over that shoe.

I honestly don’t know why bugs frighten me so. I have no enemy more determined to do me in than me. Over the course of the next week, that wasp moved around my sink just far enough to let me know he was still alive and could (I assume) kill me. Sure, you can lighten up on the liquids as much as you like, but eventually you’re going to have to go in there. I thought about hitting it with a magazine, but what if I only made it mad? It could be a mutant super wasp. I thought about catching it under a cup, but it kept hanging out on the edge where nothing could really cover it, so clearly it had the genius of at least Einstein, if not Stephen Hawking,

Finally, I broke out the vacuum cleaner. Thankfully I have a super light super tight Dyson (who did not pay me to characterize it this way, but I wouldn’t say no to a few bucks Dyson reps who may be reading this), which allowed me to get him from a verrrrry long ways away. But even though this vacuum is so mighty that I can tear the nap right out of my carpet if I’m not careful, I had to immediately run it to the closet because what if this adamantine warrior of the miniature set survived and was really really mad about the involuntary amusement park I just ran it through? Clearly the vacuum will need to be quarantined for oh… I think about two years. Just to be safe.

This is part of a larger pattern with me. A laughably irrational pattern. In the past I have:

*Thrown a laptop across the room because a spider crawled across the screen in the dark. My panic as it left my fingertips doubled when it hit the wall.

*Slept under a nest of blankets because I couldn’t force myself to turn off that lamp while that moth kept hogging that space around the switch.

*Gone to the movies just because, the because being that I would assume that spider was somewhere less visible by the time I got home from the theater.

*And of course there’s the ‘I don’t want to look like an idiot’ dance I do every year because I’m really trying to play it cool but I have yet to discover signature scent that bees don’t recognize as ‘pollen’.

Please tell me, oh loyal readers, that I’m not alone in this bugaphobia. Because my shrink and I have been at this make me less insane thing awhile now, and we haven’t even got to the bugs yet.

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The Antiquated Art of Satire

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When I was a kid I was addicted to Mad magazine. Which tells you something about my age. We used to have to get our satire at the newsstand before getting that paper copy of the Onion at the student center. I loved everything about Mad. I loved the writing, the irreverence, the detail- but what I loved most of all was the art. I was especially enamored of Mort Drucker, whose insanely intricate cross hatched masterpieces were right up there with anything John Tenniel ever did for Lewis Carrol’s books and it was every bit as iconographic.

Mad doesn’t hold the same audience it used to anymore. I think it’s at about a tenth of the size it was at the height of its circulation. The Onion is more known as a website than a newspaper, the same way Cracked is known for its online presence instead of the Mad magazine knockoff I grew up with back in the day. Bill Watterson took Calvin and Hobbes out at the height of their dominance at least in part due to the declining influence of the funny pages. Aaron McGruder left the Boondocks after a few years for television pastures on animation late night.

But there is one place where I think the best of cartoonists are still practicing their art at the height of their game. No, I’m not talking about the Family Circus, though I will admit that circular frame is pretty groundbreaking for a feature so square. I’m talking about the political cartoonists. These are the guys you see on the editorial page that aren’t Doonesbury and don’t have names even though they have recurring characters. There it is just smack dab on the page, that’s ART.

These troops in the trenches come in at varying skill levels just like any other genre of cartooning out there (and if you have thoughts to share on my level- be kind. I’m new) and the one I’ve been most entranced by is David Horsey. He has been cartooning longer than I’ve been alive- and it shows. His art is every bit as detailed and exaggerated as Mort Drucker’s work and the nuance and insight with which he illustrates make for immediate poignancy. He’s a columnist too (and a darned good one), but the words are almost unnecessary as his pictures are worth about 3156 words.

In the works of Horsey I see the best of both worlds. He is an obvious master with a pen and his lines are confident, flowing and varied. I don’t know his method for color, but it’s obviously done digitally and right skillfully as well. It’s easy in these rapidly changing times to try to cling to rules that no longer make sense, but I admire artists like Horsey who see the evolution of art and hang ten on that wave, holding for dear life. That’s inspirational.

I look forward to David Horsey and other eagle eyed Americans looking out for our interests for the next four years (more or less). I hope someday to be within telescope distance of these great satirists someday. In the meantime, I leave you with this cartoon which I swear is political. Think about it.

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The Home Stretch

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I know these past few months have been rough on all of us and this is the last chance I have to throw my two cents in before we pull the ripcord on this freefall. I know that the idea that voting for the lesser of two evils is still endorsing evil is a tantalizing proposition (in a loose sense- because it’s not exactly going to get Tantalus foaming at the mouth like one of Pavlov’s dogs), but there comes a time when the focus needs must go onto the lesser part.

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I know that’s not very elegantly phrased but I was hoping to confuse anyone who might want to send me to a camp next week. Oh please, let Born in East L.A. stay an amusing vehicle for Cheech Marin and not a harbinger for an entire disinherited generation. I don’t want to go to a camp. I’ll be good! … ish…

In the mean time, please enjoy this new comic as the first in my new side series, 99 Ways to Spi. It’s a gentle and hopefully cute reminder that no matter what your creed, color, orientation or presentation, there is still one common enemy of which we can all be soundly afraid.

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And that enemy is spiders. Spiders that will kill us all.

May (deity, ideology or force of your choice) have mercy on us all in 2017 and protect us from the spiderwrath,

Martin

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We Could be Heroes…

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A few years back Utah was determined to be the nerdiest state in America based on Facebook posts and their contents. I live approximately a 4 minute walk from ground zero of the Salt Lake Comic-con and I’ll testify. Not like at the big churchy building across the street, where I’m not allowed to do that. Anyways, off-topic. I’m rambling.

My point is everywhere else I have visited or lived I am considered a hardcore nerd. I know many people here who believe the same thing. But those are people who don’t know the other people I know here. The real nerds. The ones who argued when the list came out that the nerd criteria and method of data gathering lacked empirical validity. The ones who model what commitment, enthusiasm, creativity and camaraderie can accomplish. And the alphas of those nerds are the cosplayers. The hundreds of hours that go into a costume are truly mind boggling. Not to mention the positive self image. I can’t even get away from using facebook avatars that look like this:

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So I will never understand those that laugh at these grownups playing dress up. They must not be not aware of groups like Heroic, who perform good deeds for charity and delight children and adults throughout Utah as the walking avatars of beloved fictional characters. Or the Mandalorian Mercs– an international group of Star Wars cosplayers who perform charity for underprivileged families while counterintuitively dressing as bounty hunters. (Side note- this is where I display my casual rather than deeply embedded nerddom by admitting that I don’t know if all Mandalorians are bounty hunters or if I’m racially profiling. If this is the case, I apologize for my insensitivity #notallmandalorians)

I’m not sure if it was evident before, so let me state explicitly that I do in fact have a point. Back during SLC Nerd in 2013 someone took a truly epic pic of Batman of Heroic riding off with a Mandalorian from the Krayt clan. It was a great pic, but the background was asphalt. Boring asphalt. So I made it into this: 554598_310070115727188_1569278052_nIt just felt better. I’d like to do it again. If this is the sort of thing you’d like to see more of, I’d like to invite all of our cosplay heroes to send me anything you have that you just know could be epic with a push. I can’t promise to get to everything, but once or twice a week at least I’d like to share these inspirational moments. And a big shout out to our heroes above for their kind permission in letting me put this out there.

 

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Rethinking the Obvious (Or Uatu Barada Nikto!)

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In the Marvel Universe there’s a character known as the Watcher. It’s his job to y’know… watch things. Think of him as a peeping Tom with the entire solar system as the bathroom (I know there are plenty of other ways in which you can envision reality as a toilet, but let’s not depress ourselves).

The Watcher is someone who is, above all else, supposed to watch and not get involved. See, he has this Prime Directive that he can’t interfere with developing cultures. Wait…. that’s Star Trek. I’m always confusing the Watcher with Jean-Luc Picard. But still… you get the gist.

Here’s the thing though, the Watcher is about as faithful to his guiding principle as a Star Fleet officer three days removed from his Kobayashi Maru (boy, these genre mash-ups are fun!), and that has a tendency to get him in a lot of trouble with his people. His problem, as I see it, was that he felt too clever by hiding in plain sight. The Watcher lives on the moon, which even mortal man can get to with rockets, to say nothing of reality bending smarty pants like Dr. Strange.

If the Watcher hid in the Sun instead, all his problems could have been averted. You look at people from the one place they literally can’t look at and you’re safe as long as men have retinas.

Behold

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Now That’s a Large Hadron…

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hadronfinalSome time ago, my good friend Ben- who is a genius and my biggest fan that’s not my mom (hi Ben!) had an idea that I still feel was eons ahead of it’s time: The Large Hadron Collider Joke Facebook page. I was lucky enough to be a part of that and it sparked my interest in the large hadron collider in Geneva.

Before anyone calls out my ignorance, I do know that the collider is what’s large and that the hadrons are in fact subatomic. But that’s what makes a joke a joke. The idea of Godzilla Higgs-Boson eating Switzerland and then the world cracks me up.

Why do I bring this up now? Because the big news this week is that our friendly neighbors to the North (unless you’re in Alaska, in which case it’s the friendly neighbors to the South…. Oh and Hawaii I guess makes them…. You know what? Let’s call them Canadians) have a theory that there are alternate two dimensional universes lying one on top of another and microscopically separated. These theoretical universes are known as branes (or in zombie universe: BRRAAAANNNESSSSSS!!!!) and it’s possible that Black Holes may be doorways to these dimensions.

This is big news to us for two reasons. One, because it means that DISNEY WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG and we can finally bring Hans Reinhardt home.  Second, we may in fact be Universe 616.

This leads me to one inescapable conclusion: The Large Hadron Collider is going to be used to prove that God is, in fact, the disembodied frozen head of Walt Disney, running the omniverse from an underground bunker deep in the hills of Anaheim. God has one prophet, and Stan Lee is his name. There’s a reason why Disney acquired Marvel on it’s way to acquiring everything else. (Side theory:Michael Eisner is Galactus -think about it).  All the public figures that are making our lives so… huh? are in fact animatronic next gen Disney cyborgs that are paving the way for us to want to move a universe over.

 

… I am of course open to alternate theories.

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So the Thing About Chickens is…

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4 out of 5 chickens you meet are going to end up in a KFC bucket. It’s an ugly fact no one wants to talk about because it would make it that much harder to look our chicken friends in the eye.

The unfortunate side effect is that the 1 in 5 that are left make up a very vulnerable subpopulation and many, if not most, of those chickens end up as sex workers. What else are they going to do?

Bob was going to be different. He had mighty chicken dreams. He was always the first to school and the last to leave. He was undeterred when his classmates laughed at his chicken accent. The answers were still right. He was still Valeclucktorian. His teachers all said chickens couldn’t be doctors, but he knew that chickens couldn’t be doctors yet. He would break through that shell barrier.

He made the grades, he had the extracurricular activities and he thought his entrance essay was nothing short of brilliant (Bob had a pretty big head for a chicken sometimes). His heart was broken when he received back the reply from Stanford that was a mere 4 words long. “Chickens can’t be doctors”.

So here he was. For now. Doing what a chicken has to do to survive. But he still has his dreams and he knows that one day he’ll be Dr. Robert Alinsky, M.D. with a specialty in gastroenterology.

If she hadn’t gone to meet her maker at that Kenny Rogers Roasters, he knew his mother would be proud.

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(This piece of speculative semi-fanfiction owes a debt of gratitude to Elmer, by Gerry Alanguilan)

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Here I Blog Again on My Own

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This is not my first blog, but it’s the first one I’m excited about and I hope you will be too. Eventually. I mean, you don’t have to be excited right now. You don’t know me from Adam. Or Eve. Maybe I’m not your cup of tea. Maybe you’re a coffee drinker. Or Red Bull.

But if you have a weird sense of humor… If people don’t always, or even often, get your jokes… If you like chicken strippers and vampires and ghoulies and weirdness and Charles Addams and Dan Piraro and Edward Gorey as much as I do, then you might like me too.

Here’s to the start of a long and beautiful friendship. I’m Martin (sortofbutnotreally).

And you are…?

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