Posts Tagged ‘blog: musings’.

A Brief Statement on Eating Cheetos with Chopsticks

The following photograph has crossed my desk quite a bit recently:

poe knows

In it, actor Oscar Isaac is pictured enjoying a bag of Cheetos with the aid of a pair of orange-stained chopsticks, his fingers pictured free of that same orange residuum.

I first came across the picture in this tweet, or one like it — I can’t seem to find the “original,” but this tweet links back to a Facebook page that is probably the source of the joke:

As longtime readers know, I advocated what Mr. Isaac is practicing — specifically, using chopsticks to eat Cheetos — back in 2010, in Wondermark episode #601, “The Discovery that Changed the World”.

I am certainly not the first person to have thought of it, and clearly I was not the last! However, I am very glad that this particular “life hack” has gained popularity, regardless of its provenance. It’s simply a better way to live.

In the time since I published my version, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the comic be spread far and wide. People post pictures of themselves eating Cheetos or popcorn or similar things, and hold up chopsticks, and tag me in the picture. And it’s become one of only about a dozen specific comics whose episode number I remember by heart, since I am often asked for prints of it.

The basic idea came to me several years before I made the comic. In 2006, I was working at an ad agency in Beverly Hills. I believe I was editing TV spots for the James Franco movie Tristan & Isolde — either that, or the James Franco movie Flyboys. I forget which it was; I worked on both, for the same agency, a few months apart.

The easiest place to get lunch was a Bristol Farms supermarket a few blocks away. If you’ve never been to Bristol Farms, it’s a sort of fancy, higher-end supermarket, similar to Whole Foods but without the sanctimony.

They had (or, presumably, still have) a sushi bar in that Bristol Farms. The experience of eating there inspired comic #171; In which Hiroshi misses the Point.

So, because of the sushi bar, there were always disposable chopsticks sitting out for the grabbin’, and I made a sort of game of it, trying to see if I could eat my lunch with chopsticks every day, no matter what it was. (It was usually a panini, and so the answer was usually “not without some difficulty.”)

Since I only had a brief period for lunch before I had to get back to hitting a keyboard with my fingers for hours, chopsticks quickly became the perfect tool to prolong the pleasure of a bag of Cheetos throughout the afternoon to come.

I don’t know why it took me four years to make a comic about it. I do remember my producer in those days calling out what I was doing, and I think it took seeing more and more surprised reactions before I realized that maybe it wasn’t 100% obvious to everyone that this was the best way to eat Cheetos. I had to come to the understanding that I’d made a discovery; I had experienced a revelation. (Similar to the time I accidentally came across a better salad fork.)

Once I actually made the comic, and I started to see that people were really responding to it, I briefly had the thought of contacting Frito-Lay and saying “Hey, maybe you could do a special thing, where you… I dunno, package chopsticks along with the bag? Or something? Is there any possible way that there could be money in this for me somehow?”

The pitch wasn’t really more refined than that, so you will not be surprised to learn it was never successful.

But every now and then, moments like Oscar Isaac, here, reassure me that word is indeed getting out, and lives are indeed being improved, one orange-stained chopstick at a time.

I don’t know if Mr. Isaac has ever seen the original comic; I’m sure the idea came to him via tenth-hand means, or perhaps he thought of it himself. But I am incredibly gratified to see that the idea is out there, and that it’s becoming obvious.

Does Frito-Lay know the secret? Surely they must have heard by now. Here is what seals the deal for me: A TV commercial from 2011, showing Chester Cheetah playing terrible piano with a lady in a piano shop.

They are playing — of course — “Chopsticks.”

wiiiiiinnnkkkkkk

Moving Day at Wondermark HQ

I’m back from Gen Con and I’m moving into my new studio in West Los Angeles! In the next few days I’ll be catching up with the Roll-a-Sketch drawings ordered in the last few weeks, as well as the Kickstarter. Thanks for your kind support with those, I look forward to drawing your creatures from the comfort of my new digs! Once it is at all… comfortable.

It’s a weird thing, moving; I was in my last place for four and a half years, and in that time a lot has happened, a lot has changed about how I run my business. I have more stuff now, for sure: more inventory, and supplies, and books, and the detritus of a life incessantly peppered with miscellaneous projects. It was a startling thing, seeing box after box after box come out of the old place like a clown car. How did it all fit?

Now, of course, I have the challenge of figuring out where stuff will go, in the new place. I’m trying to be very deliberate with the process, looking at each object and coming up with a sensible home for it (or deciding it doesn’t need to hang around), so we don’t end up simply drowning in boxes and clutter once again, but at a new address.

It’s surprisingly hard! It feels weighty, a real responsibility, and of course giving an object a home is assigning it a value, a purpose, when not everything’s purpose or value is easy to define in a way that implies where precisely it should live. Some things just seem to want to float, to exist only in order to pop up occasionally, without any real utility besides simply being a souvenir of itself.

In addition, I want to look critically at my work habits, the processes I do often and the materials and supplies I need close at hand, and try carefully to design a workplace in concert with the sorts of things I do anyway, or want to do more of. Having a dedicated studio at all is quite a luxury, so I’m trying to take it seriously.

I’d like to invite your comments: what successes or failures have you had with setting up workspaces? What are lessons you’ve learned, or best practices, or things to keep in mind? I work well within constraints, so I guess what I’m really asking for are some rules. Let me know if you have any tips!

Updates from Wondermark HQ!

puz-beardsbox

Here’s a little update on things I’m working on presently!

Above and below are the boxes for the three Wondermark jigsaw puzzles that we funded on Kickstarter last fall.

Based on some of my favorite Wondermark posters, the puzzles are on the press now. I’ve reviewed proofs and gotten advance samples and everything looks really good!

I’m excited for the puzzles to become available for backers and the general public later this spring. I estimated that they’d start shipping to backers in March. I do admit to a little trepidation: labor disputes have been causing drastic slowdowns at the Los Angeles seaport, at the precise spot where the puzzles are due to enter the States… But there’s nothing I can do to control or affect that particular matter. I asked the freight forwarder if they could shunt our shipment to a different port, and that option doesn’t look promising. So, we’ll just cross our fingers!

puz-adsbox

I’ve also been doing a lot of setup work for projects that will see fruition later in the year:

We’re working on some videos for the Machine of Death card game (the game, of course, is available now!). I’m doing some design work for Zach Weinersmith on a really neat product he’ll be launching this spring, and I’m also in talks with a new T-shirt company that has a… pretty unique and strange perspective on what being a T-shirt company means. I don’t think I’m allowed to say much else about that just yet.

I’ll be attending the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle at the end of March as is my wont, and I’ll be hosting two fun game show-style panels there! I also still perform on stage with my improv comedy team on first and third Mondays in Santa Monica — those shows are always free so it’s easy to get your money’s worth.

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Oh and I set up a Patreon! Right now I have done exactly zero things with it. I wanted to get at least the puzzles out the door before I started up something new.

But, some very nice people have asked me if there’s a way they can support the things I make, and I know not everyone needs or wants merchandise or physical objects cluttering up their life.

So, if you’re so inclined, you can toss in a buck or two a month, and be a supporting member of Wondermark and the stuff we do here. Rewards for patrons will be forthcoming!

On Tumblr recently, I’ve:

Helped someone out with marketing their dog biscotti
Found an old letter I wrote to Brad Bird
Mastered the art of burger negotiation
Examined the postal employee weight requirement
Tried to Google each of the individual fifty shades of grey

It’s usually pretty easy to fill the days, around here.

Favorite Wondermark Holiday Comics

rooooad triiiiip

The year is winding down! All of our calendars have sold (thanks very much to the folks who snapped those up — they’ve all been shipped)!

I have left town for the holidays. My wife and I took a li’l ROAD TRIP from Los Angeles to Seattle, through some fairly dramatic landscapes (I took the picture above on Saturday, driving through central California).

We’ll be driving back down in a week. I wonder if the drought will be over by then! I’ll expect the lake to be full by next Sunday. GET ON THAT

Hope you have a lovely week, either in the presence of those you love, or doing whatever you are doing! Here are some of my favorite holiday-themed Wondermark comics from years past.

Favorite Wondermark Holiday Comics

#779; The Breakthrough
#897; In which it’s Too Late
#474; In which you better Watch Out
#582; In which George gets a Lute
#683; In which a Line of Questioning is halted
#476; In which Suffering was a Waste
#686; The Taylors leave a Shadow
#466; In which Everyone loves the Freak
#687; In which Santa appears at last
#363; In which Joy is mandated
#093; In which a Fortress is breached
#357; In which Mall Parking sucks
#141; In which the Son of God stands in queue
#081; In which a Confrontation occurs
#260; In which a Plan ends poorly
#069; In which the Canucks get a Pretty Good Idea
#475; In which Trouble is both avoided, and provoked

And of course: THE HANNUKAH DUCK

Oh! And our friend Kate Beaton is posting some holidays-with-family comics right now, definitely don’t miss those.

Internet Archive Releases Millions of Public Domain Images; I Personally Benefit

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Thanks to the many people who’ve sent this bit of info my way! In a move that mirrors the British Library’s similar endeavor from a few months ago, the Internet Archive has placed images from 500 years’ worth of public domain books on Flickr, millions and millions of pictures and emblems and logos and marginalia from digitized books.

Here’s Flickr’s official statement.

And, in a move unlike the British Library’s, in this case they’re attempting to use contextual clues from the OCR’d text preceding and following the image to determine ways to thematically tag the images. It’s not…perfect? (The image at the top of this post is tagged “Historical buildings”.) But it’s a pretty cool effort nonetheless!

You can also browse by year, decade, or century, which is super cool if you want to narrow down the type of art style you’re looking for (as I tend to want to do).

I browsed a few dozen pages of the Flickr set and found some cool images that I used in today’s comic! Here are some of my sources:

The men in the foreground
The browsing man in Panel 1
Some of the vases on the tables
An object on a table in the far background

The other elements in the strip today came from my existing collection.

I love things like this, obviously! Hooray for culture! Hooray for old stuff, it’s a souvenir of the world we weren’t around for, and a reminder of where we have been as humans before.