Drawin’ Stuff

This week, I’ve been having trouble finding motivation. I’ve been on break from school for the last couple weeks, and the burn out I was experiencing during the Summer Term apparently hasn’t subsided yet. I’m also running thin on topics to talk about… so maybe I’ll just draw pictures and talk about them. Or maybe I’ll talk about characters I’ve drawn, and then draw them. Yes, I think I’ll do that.

Since an early age, I have loved to draw. Drawing allows for an expression of the imagination that is more easily accessible to writing for me, in some ways. If I want, I can just doodle a random character, or whatever; I don’t need a context foe that character’s existence or current activity. The character can just be standing there in a void, with a blank expression on his or her face. To write something requires more thought and/or inspiration, and just writing a character description with no context or story would feel weird to me. Also, when I was younger, I didn’t have the robust vocabulary I have now. Anyway, I remember making “books,” which consisted of several pieces of notebook paper, folded together and stapled at the middle. I think I’d fill these up occasionally, but a lot of them probably ended up with a lot of blank pages.

Some time in Grade School, when I was reading Archie Sonic all the time, I came up with some kangaroo character, named Paul (because I asked my brother what a good kangaroo name would be, and he said that), heavily inspired by the Dunkaroos kangaroo. I drew some pictures of Paul with a joey he rescued from some cyberpunk animal villains, including some rabbit with metal jaws, like the James Bond villain.

paulandjoey

At some point, he got injured, and was given cybernetic parts, while the joey character looked on.

cyborgsurgery

I imagined Paul participating in Sonic the Hedgehog stories, too, and also singing New Order songs (because Bizarre Love Triangle became my favorite song around the time I came up with him). He’s survived in some shape or form up until now, existing in my “Back in the Day” storyline with Scarlet, as some drunk, disgraced fencer.

paul

I don’t think any other characters from back then have survived.

In my Sophomore year of High School, I started really hanging out with my current group of friends. Some of them liked to draw little comic strips during class; generally, they were completely random and absurd, which was hilarious to us. I decided to try making comics, too, and my first two characters were named Alex and Joel, after two of my friends (but were nothing like them).

alexandjoel

Alex was a squirtel-looking thing, and Joel was like an anthropomorphic onion or something, with a bulge on top that kept on getting destroyed, thus killing him. The last one of these I drew, I introduced a hooded, shadowy character with glowing eyes that represented myself, and he killed them both. That character became Torea, the Dark Elf.

torea

The first Dark Elf comic was originally gonna be a one-off, and was titled “The Dark Elf vs The Drunken Dwarf,” or something. He just immediately stabbed the dwarf, and the comic ended, I think. The Dark Elf had a black sword that emanated with black energy or something, and he growled (which I wrote as “errrr” instead of “grrrr,” which I realized made him seem confused.)

errr

Obviously, he was very easy to draw. At some point, his hood came off, and he was a pale-skinned elf with white hair or something, but then I put the hood back on and dropped the “Dark Elf” part altogether, so he’s just a demon or something. “Torea” was a name a friend came up with (and later, the same friend made a “tarea/homework” joke. You came up with the name, dude!) Torea used to kill and rape other characters all the time, because I liked to draw the horrified/pained expressions on his victims’ faces, and my friends thought it was funny/ridiculous. Since growing up, I’ve come to recognize rape as a pretty terrible and all too real thing, and not something to joke about. As a result, I don’t really draw him much anymore, because I don’t know what to do with him. I suppose I could just draw him cheerfully being a horrible person, as I often did in the past, but eh.

pussy

The next of my permanent cast (more or less) is “Lady Snake,” an assassin sent to kill Torea. Instead, he professes his love for her (and his desire to bang her), and she is so confused about it that they just end up together, apparently. Also, she is literally just a pink, talking snake, making their relationship really weird.

ladysnake

A lot of friends have said that she is their favorite character, because she suffers a lot of embarrassment and exasperation at the hands of her “husband.” Also, she has a tendency to make sarcastic observations while still trying to maintain a kind mother persona (even though she started as an assassin). The two have married and divorced twice, and remain divorced now. She, like pretty much everyone else, is terrified of him.

After Lady Snake, I introduced a fox character, who represented myself.

tom

At first, I drew him wearing a night cap for some reason, and then I gave him a backwards hat. Then, he changed sex. Then, he switched back, but the female version remained a character named “Tammy,” who had pupil-and-irisless eyes, for some reason.

tomandtammy

Then she looked normal and wore a hoody and a t-shirt, and they started “dating.” It was weird that the male me was dating the female me, so I tried to distance the two characters and myself, naming the male me “Telegraph” (after my screen name on a message board) and setting him up as a separate character (but everyone who read the comics back then remembered that Telegraph and Tammy were the male and female me… heh….) At some point, I just decided that they looked too similar, did away with Tammy, and brought in Bre the cat. Around then, I also changed Telegraph’s name to “Todd,” in an attempt to completely separate him from myself. Over the years, I tried to make him sound smart and cynical (like Daria), but I didn’t feel like that was working, so he just became a straight man of sorts. Currently, he plays the foil in most of my blog entries, heh.

Early on, I introduced a dragoness named “Linda,” who was the reason that Lady Snake and Torea got a divorce (Linda had human female anatomy, and Lady Snake didn’t, after all).

kinda1

Linda also had pupil-and-irisless eyes for the first several years of her existence, for some reason… dunno what my deal was. She didn’t have much of a personality; I just liked drawing her cleavage. Eventually, I decided I wanted Lady Snake and Torea to get back together, so Torea divorced Linda. She hung around for a little bit, but then disappeared for a while. I brought her back for a little bit to be stalked by Torea (because he could no longer get at Lady Snake), and she now had pupils and irises. Pretty much now, she’s really anxious all the time, and kind of a bimbo.

linda2

Then, I drew a “kangaroo chick” named “Lara,” who was home schooled, and thus very naïve and sweet. She wore a zipped up hoody, and had a bunch of piercings in her eyebrows and ears.

lara1

Pretty much, she was exposed to a lot of horribleness by the other characters but remained the same… until a slime creature gave her a hug. Evidently, that was the last straw, and she became this ill-tempered, snappy character, who wore a black tube top with the jolly roger symbol on it, and wore black lipstick and eyeliner.

lara2

In most of her more recent appearances, she’s been a lot more even-tempered and cool (and often-times a badass who shoots antagonists with a gun), but she has been more or less replaced by a bunny character named “Esther,” who has all the same piercings, but wears a black t-shirt with the anarchy symbol instead (and who I’ve portrayed as super nice, for some reason. Not naïve, however, and she can be just as snappy as Lara was, when provoked.)

esther

I think my next character was Spike the Lizard, who was gonna replace Todd, for whatever reason. However, I decided his design was way too 80s bad-butt, so I brought Todd back, and made Spike really stupid.

spike

For example, at one point, he got shot in the head, and talked about being “dead,” even though he was still up and walking around. Anyway, there were probably a few characters in between, but I’m just gonna talk about his brother Jay right now.

jay

Jay is based on all the cynical, anarchistic, douchey people in the punk rock scene (or just on the internet); his purpose is more or less to make some ridiculous statement or argument based in rebellion against the establishment, or to judge someone as being a poseur. He is also the lead singer in some crappy band that Lara (or Esther?) and Spike are also in. He was dating Lara, but then broke up with her because she had a real job and was thus a “poseur.”

There was also this punk squirrel character that showed up before Jay, whose name I don’t recall. His role was to represent the rowdy, immature punk, who just wants to be able to do whatever he feels like. I wanted to base him on a real life person I’ve known for several years, but I don’t think it would work. So he was in the comic for a little bit, but then disappeared for a while (and to be honest, it’s been several years since I’ve drawn a proper “72nd and a 3rd,” with an ongoing storyline, so technically, he’s still gone).

squirrelpunk

“Bre” the cat (named after Seattle singer/songwriter Bre Loughlin) started off as a really quiet character, who Todd confided in (and who offered snarky comments every once in a while).

bre1bre2

As my real life relationship became more real to me, I became more confident in developing Bre’s relationship with Todd. Then, however, my relationship ended horribly, so I mostly just vaguely hint at something there if I draw them together. Also, she’s a waitress, and she has a little brother named Milo (named after Descendents frontman Milo Aukerman). They both live with her mom still, and she’s responsible for him. Milo is a curious, intelligent kid, who’s prone to acting without common sense. Pretty much, he’s kinda become my avatar whenever I draw scenes from my past, because initially when I drew my story about Basic, it was gonna be him. I think.

Whenever Bre came around, Tammy came back as a police officer, completely removed from Todd (they don’t even know each other in that “new” continuation). I try to portray her as super sweet, unless something really pisses her off; then she gets badass. Her very first comic back, she got shot to death by the villain, but then came back inexplicably and killed him, later on.

tammy

“Detective Sniff” is a rat who started as a weird one-off character who went around smelling everyone, flagrantly and shamelessly invading their personal space.

thesniffer

His very next appearance, he was a serious character, who didn’t sniff anyone at all and got a wardrobe change. His role was to get bewildered and frustrated by the way everyone around him was acting. He also had the hots for Tammy, who initially rejected him, but then later on… vagueness.

detectivesniff

There’s also a crazy cyborg character named Johnny, who survived the abandonment of my first attempt at a book series, a la Scarlet. Carries around a big hammer with a rifle attached to it (a “gun mallet,” an idea one of my friends came up with). Can be controlled with the right programming, which he hates.

johnny

Also with Paul and Scarlet in the “Back in the Day” storyline, there was an idiot guardsman named Doran (who I’m thinking should maybe just be obfuscating stupidity, and really be Scarlet’s handler, if I ever revisit this story). He was the main character in the book I deleted; he was neither stupid nor obfuscating stupidity in that. His adoptive father, Leo, is another fox character, though I dunno if I’m gonna keep using him.

doran

There’s a bunch of other characters that I’ve put in little strips, but these are the important ones that have actually been in 72nd and a 3rd. Aside from maybe Frank. frankAnd Dry Bones. frankanddrybonesAnd Janette.frankdbandjanette And Ricky.janetteandricky And AYSR.rickyandaysr

And Steve Beaver. And STOS.

stevebeaverandstos

STOS is correct.

In All Honesty (USAF)

So it was totally my plan to make a blog about how shitty the attitude is towards young people in the Air Force. I was gonna go through articles about some kind of abuse or another happening in the military, take snap shots of all the negative comments about new recruits, and post them here, saying, “Young People: The Military Doesn’t Want You! Here’s why…” I did find a number of gems, such as some comments I found on a military.com article about SSgt Ellis, an MTI who was convicted of abusing trainees. She threatened to cut of a dude’s genitalia, made them do PT in the nude, and wanted to fistfight them (she also threatened trainees against talking if someone asked them how one of their wingmen got a black eye). I also found accusations that she broke an airman’s back. Here are the thoughts of these wonderful individuals:

vacoffers

That’s right! Take it from this individual with a PHD in psychology, I’m sure: PTSD only occurs when something blows up in front of you. Personality Disorders will NEVER develop from something humiliating, like being made to perform PT naked in front of your female MTI… Also, they don’t deserve basic needs, fuck them.

pinkoleft

“Pinko Left.” Because nothing says “commie sympathizer” like values that demand decent treatment of fellow human beings. … … …what does Communism have to do with this situation?! Also, again, these trainees were made to perform PT naked in front of this woman, and she also probably gave one of them a black eye and threatened them against talking about it.

wusses

Or a haven for people who are not douchebags. One of the two.

cussingsinglingoutmilennials

And there’s the kicker. The person who complains about new airmen-or “millennials”-generalizing an entire generation of individuals (and by the way, “millennials” is a generation that goes back to like ’82. People in their mid 30’s are millennials.) Everyone who’s come in since the start of the decade is a worthless, whiny, dirtbag airman, and any discussion that offers the slightest opportunity is worthy of bitching about this. “In my day, we punched people in the face, and they didn’t complain! Now we punch them in the face, and all the sudden, there’s an IG investigation! Airmen need to know their place! And no, they’re not allowed to punch me back; they’re just supposed to take it!” I’ve seen and heard this line of thought a million times when I was still in. The old way is the best way, because that’s the way we always did it. AKA the reason the Air Force is stuck in the Dark Ages.

That was the blog I was gonna write. However, the more I looked around, the more I saw something I didn’t expect; people being decent to one another. On the Air Force Subreddit, a new airman asks a question, and the people who respond treat the question respectfully and seriously. No accusations of worthlessness or whatnot. Still elsewhere, on another website, the same story about SSgt Ellis is reported, and there are people saying that she betrayed a sacred trust, that she deserved the maximum sentence, and that the airmen didn’t deserve what she put them through. This coming from NCOs, Senior NCOs, and Officers alike. I was astounded. It seems that not so long ago, any article I found that talked about an NCO acting abusively would lead to NCOs in the comment section blaming the abused airman. Something has changed.

In light of these findings, I have to be fair; I saw more positive, supportive comments than I did of dirtbag NCOs, complaining about airmen and telling them to fall in line. Perhaps my perception of reality was not entirely correct…

perhapsasshole

Well, that goes without saying.

lazypinkobastard

Well, I inserted like 4 screenshots; don’t those count as pictures?

No

Oh well, I have no shame. I reuse half my images, anyway.

Slacking

I got lazy this week, so maybe I’ll make it up next week. Maybe. We’ll see.

LRAFB

Pond

In a suburb, about a 30-minute drive from Arkansas’s state capitol, situated in a green, forested, hilly area, you will find an Air Force base. It is not among the biggest bases you will find, but it is pleasant to look at; near the back gate, you will find a couple of the base’s parks, built around a large and small lake, respectively. Residents enjoy fishing, camping, picnicking, and walking down various paths at these parks. One might sit at a bench next to a small pond off the small lake, and reflect on the animals, plants, and water that can be seen there. I often did. There is a whole lot of pleasantness that can be seen around the base, like this. Peaceful, you might consider this place. Pretty, even.

To enjoy the sights-at least with any frequency-however, you must be a member of the US Air Force. Specifically, you must be a member of the either the 314th or 19th Airlift Wings. I’m not sure what life is like for a 19th Airman; sounds like they have a lot of exercises, Group PT, etc. They also frequently deploy, being a part of the Air Mobility Command. The 19th is also the host unit of the base, and all base services are run through them; the D-Fac, the Post Office, the Gym, the Personnel Center, etc. I can’t be sure, but they seem to enjoy a great deal of comradery in that wing, and their airmen seem generally happy. I could be wrong; I was never a 19th Airman. I was 314th.

When I arrived at the base back in February of 2012, I was super nervous; all these Senior NCOs and Officers walking around! Surely, I would do something awkward, and they would devour my soul! Except… they didn’t really seem to care that I was there, surprisingly.  No, they seemed more concerned about going about their daily business than messing with me. A drastic change from BMT or Tech School. As I’ve talked about in the past, my then-girlfriend’s family picked me up out of Tech School, and drove me to the base. When I first arrived, I was supposed to be greeted by an individual called a “sponsor,” who would show me around the base and tell me about stuff. He wasn’t there. Instead, they were going to send an NCO. That NCO was sick. So they sent this other NCO, who showed me my room. I watched him walk straight through the grass outside the dorms, and I was shocked; you don’t do that! Except that you do, because only MTIs and MTLs care about that shit.

My dorm was one of the nicer ones, I suppose; I was in a suite with four rooms, and three other people. Each room had its own bathroom and furniture, and out in the common area, there were couches, comfy chairs, a kitchen area, and a tv with cable. Across the common area from me lived my first roommate from tech school, who gave me a big hug when he saw me, heh (I will always remember my introduction to him; I was being shown to our room, he saw me down the hallway, and came running at me, yelling, “STAY AWAY FROM MY ROOM!” He did not want a roommate, lol.) So the living arrangement seemed nice, but when I went back to my dorm, I didn’t really see anyone else or talk to anyone else… Especially when I got internet.

The first weekend there was a four-day weekend, the first couple of days of which my girlfriend and her family were there… and then they left. And I didn’t know what to do with myself for the next two days, because everything was so much more spread out, here; at Tech School, there was a mini mall-like place a very short walk away from the squadron, with a food court where I could buy a beer, and a Game Crazy where I could buy games. There were also more people I knew that I could interact with, if I wanted to; after I initially saw him, my former roommate made himself scarce. So I watched some DVDs on my computer. Probably also played my 3DS.

The first day of work, I was very nervous and shy, and had a bunch people be like, “ya better not be!” I awkwardly got to know some people, and kinda warmed up to them. I was still very much in my robotic state from tech school for the first few months, however. If I recall correctly. That first year… things seemed reasonably okay in that office. Most people had a sarcastic, snarky sense of humor about them, and nothing seemed like a huge deal. Some of the NCOs and Senior NCOs seemed really grumpy-snappy, but I wasn’t incredibly worried about that. I was also reasonably happy because of the ex… which I’ve gone over many times in the past. The point is that everything seemed new and bearable still. I wouldn’t find out until the next year what that office was all about.

My first bit of hostility came from our first First Shirt. Before he was our shirt, this guy was a quality assurance guy, and they were right down the hall from us, so we’d already seen quite a bit of him. He came down and chewed us out because I was apparently wearing inappropriate headgear with my blues while raising the flag (we didn’t know; we’d been allowed to wear that headgear in tech school). He informed us that at this point in his career, he’d already been thrown up against a wall, I think for less?

Shirt

As a first shirt, he was responsible for inspecting our dorm rooms. Before he inspected us, I had already been inspected by a staff sergeant, who thought my stuff looked great. With this first shirt… I was within a couple points of failing the two times he inspected me. Every first shirt that came after never marked me down for anything. I was there for the second time this shirt inspected my room; he went into every nook and cranny, made sure I could reach the top of my blinds, etc. As he put his inspection paper down on my bed, he glared into my eyes. This guy also casually, proudly told us a story once about how he got a guy kicked out, and this was his second person he got kicked out. Very impressive. At the time, I looked at him as a stern, but reasonable authority figure with a bit of a sense of humor. As time wore on, I came to think of him as a bullying asshole.

Eventually, I recognized that no one who had been there for a long time seemed happy. Everyone seemed drained of their enthusiasm for what they were doing, and had a cynical perspective of most things that were going on around them.

Morale

A senior airman had a habit of declaring, “Nope! Still don’t wanna be here!” NCOs frequently grumbled about their Senior NCO and Officer superiors, quite openly. At least they didn’t seem to mind that I was sitting right there and could hear them, anyway. In that way, I developed the idea that anyone outside of our office was a bit of a buffoon, and it was okay-or at least socially acceptable-to mock them when they weren’t around. Either that, or in our office, we were all together; us vs everyone else. Whoever they were complaining about, I bought into the idea that that person was no good, as per these coworkers of mine had been here longer and knew more than me. I was also the golden child that year, somewhat; I tested great, and I stayed out of trouble. Even that strict first shirt put me up as an example of how to be to the other airmen. I still wasn’t always happy, though; I often felt isolated, and homesick. The relationships I’d had in BMT and Tech School just weren’t there, and everyone did their own thing after work (probably had a lot to do with why I increasingly put pressure on my ex to make me happy…)

…I had thought about talking about the people I worked with individually at this point, and had even written like 4 paragraphs, each devoted to a single person, but then I realized that there were like ten or fifteen people left to go, so I’ve decided against that. To summarize, there was: an annoying little shit who was like a little brother that I never had; a strict, vindictive bitch for a supervisor; a laid back supervisor who got booted because he stopped caring; a supervisor who didn’t care-and who at times seemed barely alive-but knew how to play the game, so survived the whole three and a half years I knew him;  a ridiculously nice supervisor, who may have been too nice for his own good, but who was by far the best supervisor I had; a goofy, nerdy, nice NCO, who left early on; my 18-year-old roommate from Tech School, who had a fricken’ mouth and got away with murder at times, lol; a nice kid with a pride issue, who wasn’t good at the job and also occasionally got away with murder; a totally laid back dude, who I don’t think ever pissed me off, and who I would have debates with about “who was the man;” a nice girl, but on that was manipulative and inevitably cried wolf; a dramatic, frequently irritating girl, who pissed everyone off but who I thought was relatively nice; a dude who could be cool, but could also be pretentious, lazy, and hypocritical; a dude who could’ve been my favorite person there, if he could get over himself, accept dissention to his preconceived notions, and actually consider what the other person had to say (and lord help you if you got on his shit list); a Senior NCO who came in at the end, and reminded me of Rob Lowe’s character from Parks and Rec. That’s just the people in my own career field that I worked with during my time there. There was a closely associated career field to our own who were in the same office, but I don’t think I’ll get into them. Some of them were really cool. Some of them pissed me off. Some of them did both. So it goes.

Now, I’m not quite sure what exactly made being in that office so miserable for everyone; there were times when everyone seemed to be getting along fine, but things still felt like shit. People have told me many times that since we were Air Education and Training Command, that our culture was way different from regular air force; the term “Airman Eternally Treated as Children” often got thrown around, and kind of made sense in our context. Especially towards the end, we were a small organization, so anything that went a little bit wrong was a big deal, down to a font not being right for the slides at the morning production meeting. Wearing those abu tops was friggen’ uncomfortable, as they’d ride up into your armpits and get all sweaty, but if you got up, you DAMN WELL had better have them on-even in the ludicrously hot and humid Arkansas summer-because appearances or whatever. What might’ve made things worse was that the two airmen who had just come to the office a couple years before us had had to deal with some real anal and shitty NCOs, who didn’t put up with shit from them. So when they saw us not getting in trouble for every minor detail, they got upset. If an NCO is wanting you to take it up the ass, by god, you better take it up the ass and not say anything! And there were still some highly douchey NCOs around when I first got there…

My counselor frequently commented that we seemed to have a lot of time on our hands when I’d tell her about disputes in the office. We did. That was probably a large part of the problem as well, as we’d often be sitting there, bored to death. It was mind-numbing. But we had better make sure that we somehow looked busy! Those taxpayers don’t expect us to just sit on our butts; they expect us to find pointless busywork to do! To me, it felt like being on call, just in an office the whole time, but apparently some thought that we should’ve been constantly pouring over data and records, and innovating the way we did the job (even though no one would’ve payed attention and implemented our ideas if we did those things, anyway. I experienced that at least twice). Not to mention that right over there, the NCOs are talking about the Walking Dead or some such thing for half of the morning… but these new airmen! Ho boy! They’re the worthless, lazy ones! Still, everyone complained that, no matter how high up the chain you got, you had to play the yes man to the next person up on the chain (I even had the commander complain about this once).

So maybe the issue is that the Air Force culture is one wherein you’re not supposed to question the person with one more stripe than you, ever, because they’ve been in the Air Force longer than you have? We just automatically defer to the higher ranking person, regardless of how wrong and/or shitty whatever they’re saying is, because we can’t possibly detract from that chain of command!  Essentially, there’s no checks and balances in this system, so General Welsh can declare that the Air Force can look through your private phone for whatever reason it feels like, because airmen have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Also, a commander can order the physical removal of a civilian from a retirement ceremony the civilian was invited to, for any reason he feels like.

PrettyDarnGood

Is it archaic? Is it bullshit? Yes, yes it is, on both accounts.

A lot of questionable things happened in that office. A lot of things that, from an airman’s perspective, looked like someone was playing favorites. There was selective memory, selective perception, selective maturity, and selective hearing, by a number of our NCOs. We had an airman threatened that he better not take his complaints up the chain, because there was no point in it. We had that same airman a few years later threatened with progressive paperwork until he was kicked out of the Air Force if he “went behind the NCO’s back again.” We had an airman getting in trouble for reporting when he was threatened by another airman. We had a very nice, politician-like excuse for why all of these things had to take place (and those three things I mentioned happened to another airman). It is what it is.

I’ve talked at length about what happened to me after that first year there, in past blogs. To summarize: some people who seemed cool at first turned out to not be so cool; the office’s perception of me changed drastically from the first year, and I was seen as a troublemaker; I lost most respect for the Air Force’s traditions, customs and courtesies when I perceived that I was no longer being given the respect I thought I deserved; the menial bs and the monotony, coupled with AFPC never sending me anywhere else, caused me to become just as dead inside as everyone else seemed; a lot of road construction happened on base; a lot of issues with finance occurred; etc., etc. After that first year, very little seemed new or interesting anymore. Basically, it just seemed like a lot of bullshit.

I’d say that when one individual in our office became an NCO, I got to know him a lot better; he genuinely cared about his airmen, and tried to help us in any way that he could. I feel that, when he was around, he shielded me from a lot of bs. I can never be grateful enough to that dude. He was probably the best friend I had there. When another dude became an NCO… oh boy… He was already extremely pushy as an airman, extremely idealistic, and ready to make sure that not just he, but everyone around him acted like a perfect boy scout. As an NCO, he finally had the power he’d always wanted, and lost most tack in discussing what he wanted from us (this was the guy who texted me while I was still flying back to base, in order to tell me that I had to come in early on my first day back, with no pleasantry or asking me how I was doing or anything. First contact from him in a month.) His claim is that he “doesn’t want to baby anyone.” There’s a difference between babying someone and treating them like a robot though, dude. Dude can be a really good dude too, and he was frequently my favorite person to be around, but… he has a lot to learn about his approach towards his subordinates. That he may never learn, because it sounds like the current Section Chief is perfectly fine with this approach, regardless of his airmen being miserable. So yeah; that’s a stark contrast in supervising styles between these two.

If it sounds like I’m being highly critical, that’s because I am. If it sounds like I’m still a bit bitter about things that happened, that’s because I am. There are things in these blogs that have been coming for the last three and a half years, and I indict a shitty culture that I had to participate in. Complaints and/or concerns were never met with a reevaluation of the situation, or sole-searching; they were always met with tightening the rope around the neck. There are deep issues within that institution that aren’t going to go away any time soon, or possibly ever, because it’s a society of yes men, of people playing a game, of not taking a bullet for someone getting shot at-in fact, it’s a culture of shoving someone else in the bullet’s way, so you don’t get hit.

Bullet

Sorry to the people who are still in that I respect. I met a lot of good, honest, and generous people, and this shit isn’t their fault, but there’s also nothing they can do about it, either. To all those good, honest, generous people, I wish the best of luck, and I hope they get all the benefits and good fortune that they deserve, because they are the ones that exemplify what a member of the service is supposed to be.

Anyway, if you go to that base now, chances are that you will be going to the 19th Wing; the 314th has been almost entirely contracted out (or will be next spring, or something). Bless your lucky stars that you don’t have to work in the 314th Group Building. Bless your lucky. Ass. Stars.

Indictment

…that’s enough bitching for one day.

Inspirations

Hey Todd, do you know the character whose name I stole yours from?

ConfusingSentence

Yeah, probably. Although I more just used that name because someone else told me it was a good idea. I mean, after I had already named you “Telegraph,” which isn’t really a name, and was also my screen name on forums for a long time. I stole it from a ska band in Chicago, but yeah. I’m not very good at coming up with names.

SuckatNaming

No, this is more a blog to acknowledge my inspirations in cartoon drawing; how you came to look like you. Anyway, to start with, I think one of my earliest inspirations was Garfield. I have rather early memories of my family borrowing the Garfield movies from the public library, which was in the middle school that I ended up going to, and then later working in. I was just there today, in fact.

Asshole

Right, right. Back to Garfield. I think the biggest way that cartoon inspired me was the characters’ eyes always being half closed. Going back to your earliest appearances, your half-closed eyes-matching your indifferent frown to create your resting face-can be traced back to Garfield. Also, your laziness probably comes from him, too.

ThankYouSoMuch

Get over it. Moving on, back in the day, I watched a lot of Disney Afternoon, and also Tiny Toon Adventures. Which might’ve been on at the same time… but I somehow watched them both, anyway (maybe I channel-surfed). I think a lot of the general cuteness that I aim for in my drawings come from Disney Afternoon cartoons like Ducktales, Darkwing Duck, Chip n Dale, Gummi Bears, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, etc. Also, some of the more expressive stuff probably comes from those Steven Spielberg-produced WB cartoons. Some of Scarlet’s flip-outs were inspired by Babs Bunny-

WhosScarlet

ImScarlet

ABlog

 

So yeah, Scarlet’s some kind of assassin/secret agent from an amalgamation of Medieval and Renaissance eras. I’ve drawn her over and over again; she’s all over my dA.

ABitObsessive

 

But yeah, Tiny Toons. Disney Afternoon. A bit later, I began reading the comic book based a particular blue hedgehog and his friends. He was in a few videogames on the Genesis, and he had two cartoon shows at once (the one on ABC’s Saturday Morning program was infinitely better than the one running weekday mornings on… Fox? Probably.) Anyway, some of the facial expressions the artists would draw in the early years of this comic probably inspired me, but it was really the artists who were drawing a few years’ in to the comics run that I liked (and would like to emulate, but probably will never be skillful enough to do so). Artists like Spaz, Manny Galan, Art Mawhinney, and many more through the years that I shamefully can’t remember (wasn’t there an artist with the first name “Conor?”) who really drew in a style that I liked. Also, the semi-apocalyptic setting, where Robotropolis is a polluted wasteland, but there are still places like Knothole Forest, probably really informed the world of Heavenly Bodies (a book that will be out at some point in time). I read the comic for years and years… but it stopped appealing to me some time in 2012. Probably because it was becoming too much like the actual video games-which I never really cared about-and abandoning a lot of the things that made it it’s own unique thing. Some people like it better that way, and they are welcome to that opinion.

TrashYourComments

Shut up, Todd. So, a bit after I had been reading the Archie Sonic comic for a few years, a show on Mtv debuted, about a cynical, monotone, teenage girl, who frequently gave biting social commentary (can you guess what this one is?) I thought this character was really cool, so for a bit, I tried to write Todd in a way where he would offer biting social commentary on the characters around him. It didn’t really work, because I am probably not as smart as the writers of Daria.

Anyway, I think I need to step back a few years and bring up something big in my life at the time: Warcraft II. The Real Time Strategy Game that got me into fantasy creatures, such as orcs, dwarves, elves, trolls, ogres, and the like. I would spend days just playing this game the Summer of ’96, and then after that, I started making maps with the map editor, trying to create stories. Eventually, this game influenced me to read my favorite book ever: The Hobbit.

SuchaNerd

Whatever, shithead. What I always liked (besides the game itself) was the concept art drawn by Samwise Didier. That dude is awesome at drawing fantasy creatures, and I think he was at least in part an inspiration in the way I draw humans, dwarves, etc… but especially how I draw orcs. If I draw them. I always thought his wolves or tauren were cool looking, as well. His style is like a mix of realistic and cartoonish, which I really like. Think I saw his stuff when I played Diablo III, too; looks just as good in that game.

So, I’ve covered most my Western inspirations (even though Sonic was made by a Japanese company); now it’s time to talk about Anime. If you’ve seen the sweat drops and anger bulges on my characters, it’s pretty clear that I borrowed some things from the East, as well (and if you haven’t noticed those things, you’ve probably noticed the pencil blush marks on all my female characters). Akira Toriyama is probably my biggest influence, as far as how I draw humans goes. Maybe. I dunno. To some extent, I’ve probably also been inspired by Gainax, and Gurren Lagann in particular. Probably. Possibly. I dunno.

SoDecisive

If there was one thing that for sure inspired me in story-writing, it was Final Fantasy… at least up until XIII. XIII inspired me to sell it back to Game Stop when I finished it, and that’s about it. But yeah; I once wrote like a 600-plus page book, which was heavily influenced by Final Fantasy (and also, to some extent, by Warcraft; I really wanted a mix of the Eastern and the Western, there). …It was highly derivative and amateurish, and I deleted the entire thing. Some characters from it-like Scarlet-survived the deleting, however.

Abyss

No problem. I also think I should hit on Nintendo: everyone knows it, right? It’s an influence over gamers everywhere. Mario was more famous at one point than Mickey Mouse. For me, although Fox McCloud is my favorite Nintendo Character, and Zelda II is probably at least partially what got me into Medieval stuff (my knight helmets often resemble those of iron knuckles’), what I’ve really been drawn to over the years are the character designs in Mario games. In particular, I like Yoshi and the koopa troopas’ designs. Also, specifically in Super Mario RPG, there was a character named Croco that I really liked, both for his design and his speech patterns. There was also some kind of dragon enemy that I liked the design of. Those designs have informed my designs of reptilian creatures in the past.

Shock

Going back to speech patterns, I’ve also always enjoyed the dialogue in Mario games; the rpg games in particular, like Paper Mario. There’s a lot of charm in the character designs, but there’s an equal amount in the way the characters talk. It’s all very adorable, clever, and frequently funny, even. If I could bottle the essence of that dialogue and put it in my own writing, I’d be happy.

Another Nintendo series-one that needs more love-is the Mother series. If you want an example of a game with charm, heart, humor, and creepiness, you should play Earthbound. If you want to play another game with most of those things, but also some heart-wrenching scenes, you should play Mother 3. Something that happens early in the game gets to me every time… I was shocked when I first saw it. One of my favorite moments in a video game. It also has a story that feels on par in a lot of ways with a Studio Ghibli film, particularly towards the end. Now, if you want to play an awesome game in the same vein as the Mother games, but by an American designer-one that gives you the option to spare every enemy you come across-you should play Toby Fox’s Undertale. It has the charm, the humor, the heart, the creepiness, and the tear-jerking, and it was all done by one dude, practically.

HowInspired

They inspired me to gush all over them! Isn’t it obvious? But yeah; I just think that they’re really good, and that those who like good stories in games should give them a chance (well, at least with Mother 3 and Undertale). I’ll also say that the Undertale soundtrack gave me the determination to keep running and exercising last fall, when I was preparing for my pt test (it’s just that it apparently wasn’t enough, and I had to work out extra hard with a PT leader for the whole week before my PT test). I also think that Earthbound has given me pointers on what a modern fantasy about the US (or Eagleland) could be like.

There also seems to be a certain archetype of a female character from Japan that I really like: it’s a serious, bad ass woman, who also has a sweet, soft side, or a vulnerable side. Characters like Risa Hawkeye from Full Metal Alchemist, Blaze the Cat from Sonic the Hedgehog, Freya Crescent from FF9, etc. I’d like to count Scarlet among those characters at times, but she’s just too goofy.

HEY

Anyway, I’ve covered most visual media that inspired me (maybe leaving out some, but whatevs). Maybe I should talk a bit about music that’s inspired me. Artists like the Beatles, New Order, Smashing Pumpkins, They Might Be Giants, Five Iron Frenzy, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish… those are some of my favorite bands, and some of their music has probably seeped into my writing or drawing, because listening to music is one of my biggest inspirations. “Last One Out of Liberty City” by Less Than Jake is essentially the theme song to my 72nd and a 3rd comic (at least in my dreams…) Whenever I read about or listen to the Descendents, it makes me want to be in a band and/or write music. “Own Little World” by Celldweller and “Dominator” by Dwarves inspired and/or informed the creation of a couple characters from Heavenly Bodies.

Anyway, this is getting really long, it’s Friday afternoon, and I haven’t drawn anything yet.

Slacking

Right you are, Todd. Right you are.

Edumucation

Education is important, or something. When I first went to school… I didn’t realize that. I was 5. One of my earliest memories is walking down the street to the grade school, that first day ever. Pretty sure I had an entourage; my mom, brother and sister were with me. It was playing out like some sort of action sequence in my head, because we were a formidable group, probably (not).

SCHOOL

The first few days, I was in one teacher’s class, but after that, I was in this new teacher’s class. This upset me, I remember. Even though this other teacher was nice. Also, she reminded me of some cartoon character-like, a street smart, male, cartoon dog-because that’s what my brain did back then. Later in the year, there was a Christmas gift exchange, and I got this teddy bear another kid had made himself, and I was like, “I don’t want this!” I was a very thoughtful little asshole, wasn’t I? This was also the year I burned my hand on my godmother’s stove at her old house, I remember. Took a while to heal.

Throughout grade school, we had these swimming lessons at the local high school. The first two groups swam exclusively in the shallow end, but in group three and on, you started swimming in the deep end. I was deathly afraid of swimming lessons, months before we actually had to go to swimming lessons.

DEEPEND

To my relief, when I was in group three, they decided I should move back down to group two. To my embarrassment, however, I moved down from group three to group two, as it made me feel inferior. I think mostly younger kids were still in group two… Also, there was something about a teacher having to help me put my underwear on, that supposedly another kid had a picture of… but we’re probably not talking about social anxiety/shaming in this blog.

Towards the end of Grade School, I was put in classes that consisted of kids in my grade and kids in the grade below. On a scale of E for Excellent, S for Satisfactory, and U for Unsatisfactory, I think I got mostly S’s. The way the other kids talked, too, made me feel less intelligent. I remember there was some state or national test thing that we took, and mine came back with the name “Iam  Mellman,” because whoever it was who graded it couldn’t read my handwriting correctly. Regardless, I remember scoring pretty low on that thing. I also remember making “animal signs” at the local weather reporter when he came in to film us, and getting crap for that for a few years, but yeah.

When I got to Middle School, my sole interest was video games and fantasy novels. Somehow, I didn’t seem to get in trouble with my grades during my first year there, but starting in seventh grade, I was getting low enough grades that my mom started noticing, and I started getting in trouble for it. Didn’t really change how I performed, however, until the next year; in my eighth grade science class, I basically did none of the work, and sat in class reading some MYTH-Adventure of Aahz and Skeeve.

FAILURE

Eventually, it caught up to me that I was getting an F in the class, and my mom grounded me from doing anything but school work until I caught up. There was some balloon project that I got in way late, but was given a C on, saving my grade. My mom said she was proud of me. I just remember thinking that it wasn’t High School yet, so it didn’t matter…

…but when High School came, I still didn’t particularly apply myself. I was getting decent enough grades for the most part-nothing lower than a C-through my first couple years. I even got placed in AP English my Sophomore year… A friend and I found a worksheet from that class, in which I got like no points, even though I wrote down all the correct answers. I guess I didn’t write them down the way the teacher wanted them to be written down (we found this because I had drawn one of my comics on the backside of this worksheet). So the next year, I was back in regular English class, getting A’s again. However, in my Spanish and Math classes, I wasn’t doing great. I generally blew off the Spanish class, and barely passed both the years I had to take it. It was more fun to goof off with my friends than actually put in the work, I suppose. So I got C’s in those two classes, and in most my science and math classes, but whatever math level I had my Junior year… I got a friggen’ D.

MATH

Not sure what happened there, but it totally messed up my GPA. Also, I never took the SAT’s… So, even though I mostly got straight A’s my senior year, it was too little, too late, and I ended up going to the local Community College.

Finally in a place where I had to spend some of my own money on my education, with other friends making it to Universities, I started to take this crap seriously. Somewhat. Did pretty good my first two terms, but then in Spring Term, I took macroeconomics, trigonometry, and a weekend physical fitness class, altogether. The weeks I had that weekend class sucked, and in general, that macroeconomics and trigonometry class sucked. The tests in that macroeconomics class were open book, but they kicked my ass anyway, because the instructor thought he ought to be teaching at the university level, or something. And the Trigonometry class… I was struggling with it, even when I was trying. When the final came, I could’ve done well enough to get an A in the class overall, maybe. However, I was so burnt out on it that I didn’t study at all, and I got forty out of one hundred and twenty points. I got two C’s that term, the only C’s I’ve gotten my entire college career. There was at least one biology class that I thought I was in danger of getting a C in, but I got a B instead, so yeah.  I was in the honor roll multiple times at that Community College… but big deal, it was a Community College.

Finishing up at the Community College level, I had an Associate of Arts Transfer Degree… that I had no idea what to do with.

FREEDOM

So the next few years, I just kinda existed. I remember, too, being happy when I was done with school. Why? There was no plan for what to do next. I worked in Yellowstone as a dorm custodian, I came back and worked at a gas station for a while, and then I started subbing as a custodian for the school district (there was other work here and there, as well as a few significant life events, but eh.) It just kind of felt like going nowhere a lot of the time, like I was accomplishing nothing. Other people were doing things with their lives, like advancing at their jobs or getting married, and there I was… a substitute custodian.

Eventually, I joined the Air Force, just so I wouldn’t be doing nothing for forever… and also because of a girl, but I’ve told that part of the story before. I’ve also talked about BMT in the past, although I suppose I haven’t talked about studying for the ASVAB (some kind of military placement test). Before I took that thing, I wasn’t sure if I was particularly smart. Then I took that thing, and I scored high enough to where I could go into any career field I wanted to, basically. For the final test at BMT (that went over all the information we learned in our classes), I got a 90 out of 100. Then I got to Tech School. If Tech School would’ve just been the school part, I would’ve been golden, because I scored in the 90’s in nearly all of the tests, there (but it wasn’t just the school part; it also involved marching and being around asshole MTLs all the time. One of whom accused me of lying, and backed me into a yes or no answer for a question that wasn’t a yes or no question. And then after that, he apparently totally forgot about it. But I didn’t.)

ENTRAPMENT

When I got to Little Rock, I was given my CDCs (Career Development Course). Essentially, five volumes of really friggen’ bland, horrible-to-read military textbooks. I was given a year to get through all of them, take pretests, and then take the actual test. When you first got to that office, that was your job, pretty much; studying that material. So once I got through all the material and answered all the questions at the end of each chapter, I started memorizing what the answer to each of the questions were, and there were a lot.

MEMORIZATION

I wouldn’t move on from a page until I memorized all the answers. Because the pretests were pretty much just those questions, I scored like a 92 on my first pretest, and then like a 96 or 97, I think. I think there were supposed to be three of those pretests, but after the second one, they just interviewed me and decided I was ready for the end of course exam. Which I got an 85 on, because not all of the questions on the exam were from the end of chapter questions in the CDCs, heh. Still, that was pretty good, but if I’d gotten a 90, I would’ve gotten a day off.

After that, I took some military tests that counted as college classes (forget what they’re called) so I could get my Air Force Associate’s. And then I had two Associate’s; one in Arts, and one in Applied Science. Not sure why I thought I needed that second degree, but it looks nice on top of my chested drawers, next to the other one, I suppose.

Anyway, at that point, I decided I should use military Tuition Assistance and apply to start taking online classes at Oregon State. It had always been my dream to be an OSU alumnus, for whatever reason. Maybe because of my brother and sister who graduated from there, maybe because of watching OSU sports all my life, maybe because I really like Corvallis, OR. For whatever reason, I was taking classes through them, and I was kinda nervous, because I hadn’t taken any real college courses for a long time… My first term, I got an A and an A-. Second term, A-. Third term, A and A- again. Fourth term, A and A-,  including my first ever A in a math class (though it was statistics).

Then, as I was getting ready to exit the military, I get this message from someone at the Tuition Assistance office, saying they audited me, and that I owe them over $2,000. Because I had gotten a message from the education center saying that they had to review my TA request the first time I put in one, and let it go through, I had assumed that I was doing it right (I had also been told by higher ranking individuals in my office that I could do it the way I did it; there was a waiver they could use). So I was like, “I was told there was a waiver,” and even forwarded the guy an email sent by my supervisor to the school, explaining that there was a waiver (he had been told the same thing by the same coworkers who had told me that). I also called the Education Center, and I probably wasn’t super nice in my tone, because I’d just been told I owed over $2000, and I was pissed off. Well, I was getting pissed off at a Master Sergeant, and as a Senior Airman, that’s not gonna be good for you. So she gets all pissy with me, tells me there’s no such waiver, tells me to talk to my first shirt, etc. And the guy also emails me back in this curt response saying that there’s no such email, I did it wrong, etc.

So the next day, I go in to the Education Center, because I was told they could help me use my GI Bill to pay off the debt. Well, the friggen’ guy there claims he doesn’t know how to do that or something, and also tells me I better not say that it was their fault that it went through, because I took the training and read the thing, etc., and that it’s my responsibility. I told him about the email, and he’s like “Oh, that’s not what that means! That means this other thing! Do you think we have time to do that for everyone?!” I was like “I guess I didn’t understand the scope of your review process, then.” So I’m just getting irritated with all of them, and I have the money in the bank, so I just pay the $2000+ off, thinking that would be the end of it.

Except it wasn’t. When I was getting signatures from all the different places as I was being discharged, having them sign off whether or not I owed them money, this asshole I talked to at the Education Center the other time looks at my file, and is like, “Oh no, it says you still owe $2000+.” I had paid the school, but the TA site apparently said I still owed that money to them or something, even though the guy in the email had told me I would pay the school. So I told this guy I already paid the school, and I don’t know how he got from point a to point b, but he starts accusing me of knowingly committing fraud. I told him I didn’t knowingly do anything, and he was like “Oh yes you did! You took the training, you read the thing!” And wrote down that I still owed $2000+.

FRAUD

I didn’t say anything else, but I was pissed, and if I hadn’t still been in the Air Force at that point, he might’ve found his ass on the floor. Luckily when I got to the office and talked to my Superintendent, she called the TA guy and advocated for me and my personal character, and made things better. The TA guy was also accusing me of fraud and talking shit about me, which she told me she didn’t like. I was very grateful to her, and have to note that she helped me out more than once during my time there. Of the good people I met in the Air Force, she was certainly one of the best.

So now, I’m back home, and taking classes this Summer. Of the two classes I’ve completed already this term, I have two A’s. So far on my online class (which is the whole term), I have 100%, so that’s probably going to be an A too, if not an A+. We’ll see how this last course goes… But boy oh boy, I’ve been kicking ass in all my classes at OSU thus far. If only I’d applied myself when I was in High School, my life probably would’ve been way different, and there probably wouldn’t have been that period between my community college years and my Air Force years where I did nothing.

Let that be a lesson, kids: apply yourselves, or you will have to clean toilets and get yelled at by a Training Instructor.

Beaver Football

Hey Joe. You’re just the person I was looking for.

WhadyaWant

Well Joe, I wanted to talk about the Oregon State Football team, and I hear that you’re an expert on them, and football in general.

NoImNot

Well, maybe you just need a little refresher. Corvallis Academy was the first in the area for primary and preparatory education, starting back in 1856. In 1868, the school was given a federal grant, allowing it to offer bachelor’s degrees in arts and sciences. Primarily, it was an agricultural school, as its name in 1890, “Oregon Agricultural College,” indicated (there were 11 name changes in the school’s history; it didn’t come to be known as Oregon State University until 1961). Now, the team’s first football team came in 1893, after the former president-who had banned sports at the school the year prior-died, and was replaced by someone who immediately reversed his decision. In their first game, against Albany College, OAC won 63-0. The first ever Civil War (their rivalry with the Ducks) came in 1894, and their first games against the Huskies and the Cougars came in 1897 and 1903, respectively. In fact, the Beavers’ first game against the Huskies came before Washington’s first games against both the Ducks and their rivals in Pullman.

Wikipedia

Yup. Let me hit you with some more Wikipedia info: the Beavers have been to the grandaddy of them all, the Rosebowl, 3 times: in ’41, ’56, and ’64. They’ve won the Pac 12 championship 5 times, including the last time, in 2000. I don’t need Wikipedia to let you know about their 28 season losing streak, however, which started in ’71 and ended in ’98. It started with the Great Pumpkin, Dee Andros, who was beloved for how often he beat the Ducks, and for his 1967 team, dubbed the “Giant Killers” for their 3-0 victory over #1-ranked USC. It ended with the last year of Coach Mike Riley’s first tenure with the Beavers. That year, though very much underdogs, they won the Civil War against the Oregon Ducks in a thrilling double overtime, the image of Ken Simonton running down the sideline for the final score of the game becoming iconic.

ToiletBowl

Oh yeah, that was pretty awesome, huh? Both teams were terrible in that game. 11 turnovers, 4 missed field goals, and horrible weather. Apparently the last college football game to ever end in a tie. Ah, the good ol’ days…

Avezzano

True. Although last season was approaching such levels of suckage; we were 2-10, blown out almost every game. So how we gonna be this year, Joe?

I dunno

C’mon, man! Don’t hold out on me! You’re the expert! You study film, watch practices, analyze body language, personalities and attitude!

JustBecause

You don’t have to swear at me. You just have to give me your analysis!

MyAnalysis

Wow, that’s harsh, man! What are the biggest problem areas that you see?

OandDlines

What are your predictions?

RestareLosses

So you think they’ll win one game all year? That’s worse than last year!

TruthHurts

That’s harsh, man. Basically a betrayal of your own kind.

AintMyKind

If ya wanna get technical, I guess.

Religion and Politics

I was raised in the Catholic Church by two old school, conservative Catholics. My siblings and I went to church every weekend and every holy day of obligation. I went through Religious Education, all the way up to Confirmation; my Confirmation name was Francis, after the Saint who loved the animals (because animals are awesome).

Francis

Growing up, my young mind could not comprehend that there were people who were not religious; only bad people who did bad things could be “atheist” (I didn’t know they were called that, at the time). As I grew older, I developed the understanding that not everyone was a Christian, or even religious (and I didn’t realize that not everyone who was religious was Christian; I remember a conversation about Jews not believing the exact same thing as we do, for example.) Kids at school who had been Christians began to decide that they were atheists, and some of the more seemingly-intelligent people that I encountered in the world-especially on the internet-gave strong arguments against religion that I felt were wrong, but I couldn’t really respond to.

I’ve talked about the group of friends I made in High School in the past, and also how that group started going to a College Bible Study together. At first, I would say about half the group was Christians, and the other half was atheist, Wiccan, or whatever. A bit after college, however, pretty much everyone was going to church; the majority of the group was going to a local “Four Square” church. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I will say that I do like the pastor there-he was the father of one of my classmates throughout my school days. I always felt welcomed there, and while I always felt welcome at the Catholic Church as well, this other church seemed less focused on tradition, and more focused on developing a relationship with Christ. While I still generally went to the Catholic Church a lot (and even sang in the choir with my mom), I would go to that Four Square Church, too, and talk about not being sure if I would remain Catholic. Made my family happy (my sister decided not to make me her son’s godfather).

Growing up, religion was always a part of me, and a big influence on me. My mother taught me to pray, praying with me every night at bedtime.

Praying

She also taught me love and kindness. She also taught me to respond to the count of three, to eat my dinner (even if I had to sit there for hours without eating it), and that “life is tough.” All in all, she is a pretty patient woman (she’s married to my dad, after all). One of the things both she and my father taught me, however, was that Democrats are immoral, disgusting, mean-spirited people, who just want to be allowed to do whatever they want to do, like being sexually irresponsible and against the church. So growing up, I was a Republican (well, in spirit at least). Mostly, they seemed fixated on one issue: abortion. It was a very bad thing.

At High School and on the internet, as with religion, I began to realize that not all good people were Republicans. In fact, I got the sense that a lot of people felt Republicans were stupid, although I didn’t fully comprehend why; I didn’t really know any other issues, besides abortion. I did multiple reports on it throughout the years, which didn’t change my opinion from that of my parents’. Slowly, however, I got the idea that Republicans were for the rich class, and in bed with corporations more than Democrats.

dubyadoodoo

They didn’t care about the environment, or poor people. But… ABORTION. So I didn’t really pay attention to any other issue, and the first time I could vote, I helped vote W back into the White House. I was taken aback that my brother and his wife voted for Kerry; I didn’t know how to handle my brother being kinda liberal (they were still pro life, though, so that was good).

As I got older, I met more people who were gay, the first of them in High School. Then when I went to Yellowstone the first summer I worked there, my roommate was gay. I’d talk to people online who were gay or bi or whatever, and… the vast majority of them were pretty nice, or at least decent. My parents have been very against gay marriage… I just think they should do what they want? If they’re not hurting anyone, and they feel like this is right for themselves, who am I to get in the way of that? Perhaps it took a bit of time, but that became my opinion on most things; let people be themselves. Even if it conflicts with my spiritual beliefs. I don’t know who’s going to Heaven or Hell, and I’m pretty sure no other human being does, either. So let people be, and be nice to everyone.

However, on most things, my friends have generally been fairly conservative, to go along with my parents’ worldviews, for the most part. So this helped me to keep my viewpoint that illegal aliens shouldn’t be allowed to stay, because they didn’t follow the rules to be here, and if the rules aren’t upheld on that, why have rules at all?

StayOut

Besides, the Democrats just want them here so they can illegally vote Democratic in elections, amirite? I also thought for a long time that the Iraqi war of 2003 was justified; I listened to explanations on why there had, in fact, been materials necessary to build WMDs in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was evil and ousting him was a good thing, etc. Well… his former military helped form ISIS, whom the current Iraqi military RAN from. So the destabilization of the region is largely due to our involvement, and also, my argument about rules is a slippery slope, illegals account for 1/3rd of our agricultural output, and rounding up and deporting them all would be incredibly expensive (although I do still think that the Democrats really want the illegal immigrant vote).

Around the time I was leaving to join the Air Force, Barack Obama was running for his second term in office against Mitt Romney. I did not vote for either candidate, because I didn’t feel that either represented all of my interests. At the time, I still would’ve preferred Romney beat Obama… but still; progress.

In any case, as I said before, BMT was hard, and going to church on sundays got me through it. In Tech School… I started to not go every week. Getting up on a Sunday morning was hard, because I didn’t want to do anything (leaving the Squadron was always a pain in the ass, because you had to check out with CQ. Also, I think I was probably already starting to get depressed, but yeah). When I got to Little Rock, I would sometimes go to church on base, but I would often go out to Fort Smith to stay with my girlfriend and her family, and I could never quite convince her to go to mass with me… so we didn’t go. And I stopped going even when I stayed on base; I decided I wasn’t really getting anything out of it, because I didn’t get a sense of community from it as per I didn’t talk to anyone. I would make an attempt to at least watch mass online, but that was about it. I wasn’t praying much that first year, either, and when I wasn’t with my girlfriend, I would drink, surf the net… and get lonely and depressed.

Then… my fiance broke up with me. I’ve talked about this before, and how I was devastated. The first month after that, I focused on getting in shape for my PT Test so I could go home in December. After the December visit home… I was in a dark place. We were talking a bit again, and even discussing seeing each other, but then, she stopped getting online. I would get messages from her on fb sometimes, mostly that she needed more time, and that her parents didn’t want me in her life anymore… and then even the fb messages stopped. Her internet went down, forever. In this time, I would sit in my dorm room, thinking. A lot. About dark things. I had had previous thoughts of suicide one time, very briefly, as we drove over the river in my hometown when I came home to visit. That was a desperate desire to not leave home again. This… was about control. Because if she wouldn’t talk to me, then maybe I would cut my throat with my knife, and THEN she’d be sorry! …I never actually did that.

Control

In mid 2014, I began listening to christian radio shows on Sundays, and praying every day. There was this program out of Cleveland called “Truth for Life,” which I would listen to in the mornings while I drank my coffee before work. In the winter, I started going back to mass on base, and signed up for a Bible Study. There had been a Bible Study I’d been going to in NLR… but they were a bit conservative and judgmental for my tastes. The time that one of them said “Some people in this room are not going to Heaven,” I decided I was out. It didn’t help that when I went to their church, after service, they would just ignore me, and I would stand there awkwardly. Also, their pastor would talk about tithing every week, and how you were evil if you didn’t… Meanwhile, his church is super extravagant, with monitors everywhere, a full choir, an orchestra, and a worship band. A bit too much for me. So I didn’t get along with them. I also didn’t get along with this D&D group, who I yelled at and got kicked out of. I felt like I wasn’t getting along with anyone, pretty much.

Anyway, I went to that Catholic Bible Study on base, and it consisted of me and three old people… They were nice, and I went for a few weeks, but then I moved off base, and getting up for it on Sundays got really hard… I felt really bad for not going anymore; the leader was a very nice man who gave me lots of encouragement. Meanwhile, work had been shitty, and it just got shittier. I was losing my patience with everyone and would yell at them, I think I’ve covered. There was one person who was consistently really nice to me-she helped me a lot when the breakup happened. I started hanging around her a lot, which she didn’t seem to mind, but I had this thing about poking people in the side; people back home would get irritated with it sometimes, but didn’t make a big deal about it. Some people in the office… they got really angry about it. She didn’t like it either, started to be unfriendly, and when we talked about it, she let me know. So I stopped doing that for a while… but then a couple months later, I did it again a few times. Then she told me I wasn’t invited to her wedding, and it made me really upset (even though I couldn’t go anyway), and I just stopped talking to her. Then I got pulled into the Commander’s Office and was served a No Contact Order. They seemed to think more was going on than the poking, apparently.

After that, I just isolated myself in a corner. It seemed like every time I had a disagreement with someone, I would get pulled into either the First Shirt or the Superintendent’s office, and talked to about my attitude. So, I mostly shut myself off from people.

Isolation

My new supervisor was a really nice guy and helped me out a lot with my move and stuff, so I would talk to him and help him whenever I could (or felt like it; I was also starting online classes then, and would try to do all the work at work). Other than that… I think maybe three people noticed the change. One of them was an individual I liked to refer to as “The Little Shit” (he asked me to refer to him as such when I wrote about my time at LRAFB, heh). Also, the very nice supervisor, who I should all more often and see how he’s doing. Also also, the nice new Superintendent, who noticed that I was being isolated. Nobody else really seemed to acknowledge it, however.

When I moved to NLR, I started talking to my brother on Saturdays, so that helped. I looked forward to our talks on Saturday mornings about as much as anything. He and his son would also play Minecraft with me, and that was good. There was also this old Jehova’s Witness who would come to my door and talk to me about his church and the Bible.

JW

Surprisingly maybe, I actually enjoyed these talks. Finally, around September, I joined a group for returning Catholics, called Landings. Before that, I’d actually been going to the catholic church in NLR (well, one of them), and decided I would like to get to know some people in the community. These people were also older, but there were a lot more of them than at the Bible Study on base, and around them, I felt at home almost immediately. They were very nice and welcoming. When I told them my story up until that point, I was a bit worried, because I included everything. They thanked me for my story, gave me hugs, and prayed for me a lot, heh…

I say I told them “everything,” but I didn’t tell them about my knife. There was another time, too; at my apartment, on a Saturday. I had been talking to my brother about how much I hated it there, and how I had no control over my life. Later that day, I started drinking… quite a bit. I thought about the control thing again, and decided that I was gonna take my knife and jam it in my throat. As I was getting up to do this, my phone rang; my brother wanted to play Minecraft. So I did that instead. The memory of almost doing that the next day really worried me, and I let my brother know. He advised me to let everyone know, because they would tell me how much they loved me, and that he and his family loved me too; his son really loved me. So I made a journal on Tumblr, posted it to fb, and everyone told me how much they loved me. It definitely made me feel better.

Towards the end of October, something happened at work again; the tv. It was driving me insane. I was trying to concentrate on work or whatever, but it was loud to the point that I had to listen to it. I put up with it for weeks, tried to turn it down, got bitched at. It was slowly causing my anxiety to rise, until one morning, I got in an argument about it and just left the building. I called my superintendent, who had told me that I could ask to leave if I was having a mentally bad day (my supervisor was not there, and I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone else there). She told me I could leave, and that she would tell people what was going on, but I decided I needed to go back to get my stuff. I was just bee-lining for my stuff and the door, hoping no one would talk to me, but a couple people demanded my attention-and I ignored them. One of them was the section chief, who decided to give me paperwork for insubordination. She told me I needed to never do that again. I didn’t know if I could “never do that again,” so I decided that I needed to talk to my psychologist about getting out.

Meanwhile, I made some good friends with people at Landings, including a family that invited me to Thanksgiving. However… It was a week until my PT test, and my waste was like 2 inches over what it needed to be for me to pass. I’d been working out, but apparently not hard enough.

Fat

I also couldn’t do a mile and a half in a passing time anymore. So I worked my ass off every day with the PTL, who sacrificed his time for me, and for that, I’m grateful. I ate as healthy as I could, and damn it, I PASSED. By the skin of my ass. I never wanted to take another PT test again; it was too hard. Another reason to get out. Then, I went home for a whole month in December, the first time. It was great. It felt like It would go on forever… and then I had to go back, and it was the hardest goodbye yet; another reason to get out. And one of my new supervisors sent me a text, telling me to come in early on Monday, while I was still connecting flights in Chicago. Didn’t ask me how I was or anything. That pissed me off. Another reason to get out.

I went to another Landings session as a helper, as well as a Bible Study some of the Landings people did in the interim. I also started hanging out with these guys at times other than Landings, and it was great… but I knew I was getting out. My psychologist had diagnosed me with Avoidant Personality Disorder, a diagnosis that would get me administratively discharged. In the meantime, however, I was going to church more than I had since being in the Air Force, I was praying more, I felt closer to God. And then I got out. Not before having to pay back over $2,000 in tuition assistance that I apparently filed incorrectly, getting accused of fraud and almost getting into even more trouble… it was great. Also, I had to wait, wait, wait on paperwork, not knowing when it was gonna be signed, not knowing where it was, etc… and then when it was all signed, I had like 3 days before I was discharged. So I could not plan anything ahead of time. I had to wait in my apartment for 3 weeks before TMO could send people to get my stuff. It didn’t arrive here until a month and a half later. And most recently, they decided they overpayed me over $800 on my last check, and demanded it back. God Bless the US Air Force!

During my time in the Air Force, however, I learned some stuff about life; the entire world isn’t contained in my tiny hometown. There are lots of people who don’t live their lives the way I live mine. Most people aren’t immediately judging me upon talking to me, and probably can relate on more stuff with me than I realize. A guy from Saudi Arabia and a guy from Jordan are two of the nicest people I have ever met. People who grow up poor have very little chance to be not poor ever, even if they work their asses off as much as they can. If the environment is ruined and the Earth becomes unlivable, there won’t be any babies to save from abortion (but abortion is still an abomination; I won’t budge on that one). The US is not necessarily the best or most just country in the world. I can get away with yelling at people, but I’m probably better off practicing being calm and letting it slide. Loving people and showing compassion is the best way to be a christian. Most importantly: the Catholic Church is home, and Pope Francis is awesome.

World

Also, I registered with the Pacific Green Party. I’m probably a hippie, now.

Summer of Ska

I think ska music is the most fun, upbeat music in the world. Also, I think that Reel Big Fish is the coolest band ever.

WhereamI

Hi Bre. You’re on my website now. Do you like ska music?

DontFeelComfortable

But do you like ska music? Y’know, that dance music that originated in the 70’s or something in Jamaica, went to the UK in the 80’s, and then got big for like a few years here in the US in the latter half of the 90’s? A lot of the stuff being “ska-punk,” or ska with punk elements (or punk with ska elements)? Horns? Upbeats? Skankin’? Checkered articles of clothing? Etc.?

CanBeFun

Members of Save Ferris turned into a band called “Starpool,” after their star-shaped pool that they had parties around down in Orange County Land, apparently. Though Monique isn’t involved with it. Apparently she started a new incarnation of Save Ferris in 2013, and fought a legal battle with other band members. Save Ferris is gonna have a new EP some time this summer, apparently.

OhThatsCool

Yeah, bands splitting gets ugly sometimes, eh? Like Tomas Kolnaky with Catch 22 and Streetlight, Joe Escalante and Steve-O with the Vandals, or Danzig with the Misfits… though he’s collaborating with them again, apparently.

AllPunkBands

Oh yeah, huh? Well, don’t you get how intertwined ska music is with punk music? At least the Third Wave, which is all I really know. Experts say that ska-punk goes all the way back to the Clash in the late 70’s!

Experts

Yeah! People who know things! The Clash did it way before Operation Ivy or Rancid! But yeah, I wouldn’t really count the Clash in the 3rd wave, since they ended in the mid 80’s… One of the first 3rd Wave Ska acts that I know of (aside from Op Ivy ad Rancid) is Skankin’ Pickle. Those guys were pretty awesome. Their first album, “SkaPunkRastaFunk,” kinda indicated what their sound was like in those days. I think they got more solidly ska-punk by their Green album, however. So yeah, they were gettin’ popular… and then Mike Park decided he didn’t want to do it anymore.

FameCanBeStressful

Yeah, but then he founded Asian Man Records, the Bruce Lee Band, and the Chinkees.

TheChinkees

It’s okay, he’s Asian. Also, he’s really cool. My brother would write him to ask if he could use his bands’ music in his movies, and he’d say “yeah.” From most accounts, he’s a really nice guy, and he seems it whenever you read his stuff on social media, as well. Anyway, it was about the time that Skankin’ Pickle ended that Reel Big Fish’s “Sell Out” got played on Mtv, and the Summer of Ska happened… unless it happened a couple years later. Not really sure if it happened in ’96 or ’98, but whatever year it was, it was pretty awesome. Maybe it was both, or all 3, if you count ’97. What were you doin’ in ’97, Bre?

DidntExist

You have good tastes! Although Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake were probably the biggest names out of the Third Wave, and a couple of the only bands still touring as ska acts. The Aquabats decided they didn’t want to be ska anymore, for whatever reason… But yeah; Less Than Jake’s first big hit was supposed to be “Dopeman.” They made a video for it for Mtv and everything… it never got aired, because it was about a “Dopeman.” Go figure. Also, Reel Big Fish are supposedly “One Hit Wonders,” though both them and LTJ have strong followings to this day.

NotaSkaBand

So they say. They say the same thing about Five Iron Frenzy… I think FIF agrees with them, though. Five Iron was a christian ska band with crossover appeal, btw. A big part of my teenage years, but then they broke up when I graduated… and then they got back together a few years ago, and put out one of their strongest albums to date, “Engine of a Million Plots.” You should check it out. It was crowdfunded, too; made a lot more than the goal was. Actually, I think Save Ferris’s upcoming EP was also crowdfunded. Lotsa bands doing that these days.

SoundsReasonable

Yup… anyway, there are/were a lot of ska bands from the Third Wave, but talking about them all would take effort, and I’m lazy. The Bosstones were another big time band in the genre, and Sublime and No Doubt are frequently referred to as ska, but weren’t really.

WhyBreNotMe

Because I decided I wanted to draw more than one anthropomorphic animal looking annoyed at me.

TwoAnnoyedAnthros

There we go. So whaddya think, Todd?

TwoTone

What about Ska King Crab? Best Take On Me cover ever, eh, eh?

No

Dude, that’s harsh.

Drinking

When I was really small, I remember once that my dad gave me a sip of his beer. Not sure what he was drinking; it came in a can, and it was probably a domestic of some sort, like Bud or PBR. It tasted very bitter, and I didn’t desire another sip.

2016-07-22 23.03.03

There’s also a picture of me at a park somewhere, sitting in the dirt next to some empty cans of beer. I don’t recall anyone being drunk in those early years, though I remember drawing pictures of Warcraft II orcs and trolls for my brother in 96, as he sat out in the front lawn after a few drinks. He asked me if I could draw something more peaceful or something, and then he threw up. I saw tomato slices in the barf; maybe he’d eaten Mexican? It didn’t distress me at all that he was throwing up, for some reason; I just thought, “Oh well, that’s what happens sometimes when you’re drunk. Also, he is my hero and I don’t care what decisions in life that he makes, he will still be my hero. I will probably also puke in the front lawn, some day.”

At some point in the next few years, I was exposed to my brothers’ friends. They were mostly in bands in the next town over (which was also where the university was, consequently). Also, they were very rowdy and silly. Mostly, they were in punk rock or ska punk bands, and their desire was probably to see how much nonsense they could get away with. Also, probably to get laid, I dunno.

2016-07-22 23.02.48

My eldest went to college with a lot of those guys, and my middle brother started hanging out with them a few years later when he moved out of the house. My eldest did his touring band thing and largely remained the same, but my middle brother changed during this period, I think. There was a much larger focus on partying and going to bars for him than there’d ever been. He gained the nickname “Robot” downtown with that crowd, and occasionally would sing some songs for these local bands.

A couple years before I turned 21, I stayed the night at a brothers’ friend’s place. This was the first night that I drank; I had at least a couple beers, maybe a shot, or maybe a mixed drink, I don’t remember for sure. I just recall my brother’s friend informing him that, yeah, I was gone. I’m not totally sure I was, but the suggestion made me act sillier than I might have, I think. Later on, I turned 21, and my sister and brother in law took me out. Some of my brothers’ friends were there, and one of them bought me an Irish car bomb, a drink that I found quite tasty. Again, the people with me thought I was far gone, but I’m not sure if I was. No, I was definitely drunk a couple weeks later with some friends; I blacked out part of the night, and the next day was my first experience with being hung over. It was not as unoffensive as I remember my brother’s hungover incident being. It kinda sucked.

After I turned 21, I would go out with my middle brother to the bars, and people would buy me drinks (which was awful nice of them. I kinda miss being 21, based on that fact.) Then we would walk across town, back to his apartment, and pass out. I have lots of memories of those walks, in January and February when it was cold, and not caring because I was drunk (just wanting to get back so I could go to sleep).

2016-07-22 23.03.13

The bar crawls felt like a rite of passage, but lacked total legitimacy, because I wasn’t buying the drinks with my own money. A brothers’ friend offered me a construction job when I was drunk once, if I called him. I never did. A couple years later when I was actually working, I was ready to buy my own cases. However, my tastes weren’t refined yet, and I would often buy a case of Miller High Life. Not sure why I chose that; my brother usually drank PBRs or something else. Eventually however, I discovered such tasty treats as Deschutes’ Jubelale and Black Butte Porter, Widmer’s Drop Top Amber, and Rogue’s Deadguy (I was very confused by the name “deadguy” the first time I was offered it; “do I want a dead guy? What? Is that some super strong beer?”)

Although I was buying my own stuff now, I was still going to my brother’s parties. On one such night, I was instructed to chug a bottle of vodka for 5 seconds, which I did. I was then instructed to chug the bottle for another 5 seconds, which I did again.

2016-07-22 23.03.20

This led to me informing my father on a video that a long-haired wig was the hair that I always wanted, and calling him a bitch in the same breath. When informed that I had just called my father a bitch, I responded that he would never see this video. That was not the only alcohol I had, and of course, we went on a bar crawl that night. Someone would set down a beer in front of me, and I would just drink it, assuming it was for me. Eventually, I woke up the next day… VERY hungover. The same elder brother friend who had instructed me to chug the vodka bought me breakfast… and I promptly threw it up. It was suggested to me that I ought to drink more to combat the hangover, but I didn’t want to do that. We went to a tailgate party for an OSU game, and at some point, an open can of beer was thrown at me by a belligerent drunk guy (an elder brother friend) because I was hungover, and my sister came and picked me up in her van. I laid in there the entire game, feeling horrible. My eldest brother happened to be down for this game, and when he saw me, he told me that I needed to “shape up.” Then, on the way to my sister’s house, we stopped so I could puke on the side of the road, and people booed me (and I sincerely don’t understand that reaction to this day… “That guy’s hungover! He already feels terrible! Let’s make him feel WORSE!”)

There was another party at some point; my brother’s 30th. He drank 30 drinks that day, in celebration. He was very gone. At one point, he had me sit down, because he wanted to have a heart to heart with me or something, but he just stared at his feet the entire time.

2016-07-22 23.03.40

I think my parents came over at some point when he was already gone. It was pretty awesome. I’m not sure if that was the night I jumped off the roof onto a trampoline; that might’ve been a different night. Someone else outdid me, holding a chair as he jumped down. That’s how hardcore we were; we jumped down off of things.

Drinking wasn’t just the providence of my brother; I would also drink with my friends, on occasion. They didn’t drink as much as I did, however; they thought I had a problem. That’s silly, though! I never lost access to beer, so how could I have a problem? Anyway, we’d have guys’ nights sometimes, and as we got further gone, some ridiculous things would be said. One dude needed to go to the park one time, and also needed to buy a Hershey’s Bar (he didn’t care about chocolate sober). There was also one night when everyone had walked to the park, but for some reason, he and I walked back to his apartment. While there, we had like two or three shots, and then he said, “One more for cleansing,” so we had one more. I repeated this to our other friends when we got back to the park, and they were like, “What does that mean?!” And it became we said, and also the title and chorus to one of my songs (consequently, when I recorded the vocals for that song, I was intoxicated).

There was this one night during the time that I lived with my friends that I bought a six pack of Jubelale, and drank the entire pack. I was supposed to go with them over to another friends’ house to sit in their jacuzzi, but I chose instead to stay behind, chat with people online, and drink all my beer. I then wandered out into the woods around our house in the middle of the night, and I almost fell into the river. When my friends came back, I told the girl that she was my sister and that I loved her, and gave her a big hug. She was super touched.

2016-07-22 23.03.48

The next morning, I didn’t remember this, and was hungover. She did not like that I didn’t remember this.

New Year’s Eve, 2010 and 2011, I got very drunk with my friends. In 2010, nobody else drank as much as me, and I was crawling underneath a table. I was also not able to finish a coherent sentence, apparently. Also, I went to the host’s computer, and tried to get on messenger so I could talk to the girl I liked. I ended up passed out on the floor in that room. Don’t think I got messenger to work. In 2011, I didn’t want to get as drunk as I had been the year before, but my friends and I decided to play the Street Fighter: The Movie drinking game… I don’t remember what my shots were taken for; I just remember that my stomach started to get upset before I was wasted, and I wanted to quit then, but everyone yelled at me, so I kept on going. Then I blacked out, and my “sister” whom I love came over when everyone wanted to go to the park, and I told her I needed to talk to her. Instead, I hovered over a nativity scene and kept apologizing to her. Then I threw up into a bowl and threw it across the room. The next day, I was too hungover to go anywhere until the evening.

As the years past and I had more unfortunate interactions with hard alcohol, I decided I didn’t like it, and that I should stick to beer. I enjoyed my ambers still, but I was moving towards IPAs, Porters and Stouts.

2016-07-22 23.04.07

I enjoyed the variety that Oregon had to offer, up until I went into the Air Force and couldn’t enjoy it anymore; then, I appreciated it even more. It is my experience that places like Texas and Arkansas do not appreciate the darker or more hoppy beers as much as I do (nor do they appreciate variety). There were some local breweries in Little Rock, but you couldn’t find most of their stuff at any local grocery stores, like you would be able to find a local brewery’s beer in a store in Oregon. Still, in Arkansas, separated from my social groups, on the weekends, I looked forward to the beer I would be able to drink. Now that I’m back and out of the service… I have a definite beer gut. This was a goal, though; to grow my hair out, grow my beard out, and grow my gut out. I’m on track; most of my pants no longer fit.