Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Beer and Loathing, Elbow Issues, and a Naughty Genie

Last week had many awesome moments to contribute to the Summer of Fun. There was also a lot going on that is in keeping with the more annoying aspects of working in creative pursuits. We'll look at the fun first!

Beer and Loathing in Downtown

Anime Expo is a gigantic convention in Los Angeles that draws all kinds of Industry professionals. I
am very fortunate to have a couple of said professionals that I can count amongst my friends. One of them was involved in a gathering away from the convention to share all kinds of beers. You bring what you like and everyone gets to try beers that they wouldn't normally get to drink. As you can see, there was a lot of beer to be tried. The most interesting beer was brewed with peppercorns. I could see having that with a steak. The conversations were interesting. Everyone has fascinating war stories about their various jobs in the world of anime and manga. We even got to do some valuable networking. It was a really nice break from a generally annoying weekend. Incidentally, I went home with the Not for Sale Ale. Delightful!

Of course, there was a weird aspect to this outing. It was held at an art gallery in the middle of the Fabric District in Downtown LA. In fact, it was next to one of our favorite places to get interesting fabrics. The space is called Think Tank Gallery.  It's a huge space outfitted for all kinds of exhibits. Then, in the back is a place that looks like a diner. See video for the diner https://vimeo.com/141235923 . I was instantly in love with their six burner turbo engine stove. But the lovely gallery wasn't the weird part. First, that bustling street is frightening after dark. It's like something out of The Purge. While we were waiting for our ride to return (we were sitting at the window above the fabric store's sign), we watched a couple dropping off one car in a garage across the street(see the photo in the lower left corner of the above image), drive off in another, then return running from the direction they drove off. Next, there was a couple that was coming from Anime Expo (they had swag bags). They brought the bags and a lot of merchandise with them to a room off the main gallery. Then, they began taking a lot of stuff down to the car, including pillows and other bedding, a lot of boots and then the same swag bags and merchandise from the convention. Then, there was the man carrying a laughing hot blond woman whose legs were wrapped around his waist from one side room off the gallery to another. After five minutes, he carried her down the stairs to the car with the shoes and the bedding. And I will never know what the large box of dirty rubber duckies in the restroom was about. I was afraid to take a photo. It was a really creepy box. No, I hadn't had too much beer. Jon had root beer, and he saw everything I saw. Very strange but a fun time. There are more photos at the end of the blog

We were really lucky to have a close buddy that works as an Uber driver. I've known Cory since my first job in college at B. Dalton Bookseller in Center City. He came out to LA for the same reasons I did, writing, art and filmmaking. It was so wonderful to have someone take us to that desolate part of downtown who we knew would come back for us when we called. I would have missed a fabulous evening without him.

I've covered the beer. Now, the loathing. The great opportunity for a panel was not to be. Adding us to the lineup was way too short on notice to the convention. Badges couldn't be secured without great expense and the inconvenience of standing for hours in the hellish heat and sun. That wasn't happening no matter how much I wanted to do the panels and meet a mangaka whose work I admire. I'm not physically up to such tasks. Moreover, I'd lost two days work on my book cover doing a visual program for the panels. I couldn't lose any more time. These books pay a good part of our bills. I'm way behind my publishing schedule as it is. So, we missed the chance this year. But since the beer event I've discovered that I'm at the point to apply for panels on my own and get them. We have some projects coming up that will give us a lot of visuals to present next year. The lesson was a hard one, but we came out of it with more opportunities.

And we did get me meet up with one of our Cosplay Bishies! Phil Mizuno and a delightful manga
artist had a beer nearby before the neighborhood was shut down for the 4th of July Fireworks. It was short but very nice. He is really adorable and sweet in person. I wish I was less of a mess, but I'm really glad he came by.

Summer of Fun Cooking

I'm not finished with my canning projects. I really had to stop everything else while I worked on that cover. I'll finish the jams and the peppers later this week. The peppers are a mix of jalapenos and banana peppers along with some garlic. I'm mimicking the pickled peppers that would go on a hoagie  back in Philly. I also put them in collards sometimes. My tastes are more and more like my father's every year. I have become obsessed with the idea of smoking food in the oven. It can be done without any equipment aside for the wood chips and a disposable aluminum pan. It's also possible to do more than one kind of food at the same time. I often want some smoked salmon or brisket or ribs. I can freeze the meats and smoked fish keeps a while in the fridge. I may even be persuaded to share the smoked goodies! I plan on giving oven smoking a try this week.

Creative Doings

This week, I have the privilege of launching Jon's new book, Life on the Periphery. It is a collection
that is so diverse that we had a hard time describing it in a short paragraph. He has put his extremely twisted imagination to work in conjuring stories that are brutal, and delicate and hilarious and horrific in turns. And no matter the fantastic environment, there are always very real and relatable characters to follow. It is, in short, astonishingly good. Buy it! Here is the synopsis.

This astonishing collection of delightfully disparate short stories answers many of the universe's most difficult questions. Like what was life like for a city guard during the Hyborean Age battling the greatest Barbarian of all time? What does a boy find when he wanders into the woods…and beyond the realm of human senses? How does a Midwest farm girl become a pawn in an intergalactic power struggle? How does one negotiate with aliens who have an extremely invasive means of communication? What happens when a Wehrmacht soldier volunteers for a bold and dangerous experiment? Why would the defender of the universe take time off to visit a small town in Ohio? What are the unintended consequences of wish granting genies? What happens to an office worker who has a ringside seat to the end of the world? Can two immortal brothers who pursue very different paths find common ground? Life on the Periphery takes the reader on a journey that is joyful, hilarious and terrifying in turns while searching for many kinds of truths.

Playing With Dolls

I had been drawing my covers from paper cut outs that I would rearrange the way I needed them. The results were okay, but they were always a bit off in my eyes. This time, I used a free, 3D program called DAZ 3D to craft basic body types that matched my characters and then pose them. This was better because of the body proportions were accurate down to the fingers. Of course, there was a learning curve dealing with a new software. I say that calmly, but there was a lot of cursing at problems in getting an elbow to bed in a normal human direction. And I may have damned the inventor of the program to some unending torture at certain points in time. Who remembers such things? In the end, I was happy with what is my most complex pose to date that is successful. I must go to the next cover immediately. For this one, I am trying something different from what I've done in the past though it is from a popular style of romance cover. This installment of Ensnared going to show Andreas at his most seductive power. The cover must reflect that and Darius' increasingly possessive response. I really hope those elbows cooperate.

Next time – Do Craig and I finally have lunch? Will I throw the laptop into the pool over uncooperative elbows? Will I finally pickle those peppers?

Stay Tuned!

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