Tag Archives: Life

HOW-TO GUIDE: How to Become the Artist You’ve Always Wanted to Become, a Reintroduction

Chrysler Building

Over the years, I’ve done a number of process posts where either I just show you my work, or show you how I created it, whether visual or literary or whatever. Being an artist is not just one thing, right? Seems to me a good time to do a bit of a reintroduction here. I’m going to be looking over things I’ve done in the past, sharing new things, and gearing up for a number of new process posts going into the end of this year and into the next. We’re looking at everything. And this is while I’m still working my way to completing some current projects!

This leads me to a quick Top Ten list.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MOTIVATE YOU TO CREATE ART–or ANYTHING?

  1. A deadline. If there is some kind of deadline, that always gets my attention.

  2. Curiosity that develops into an obsession. You develop a passion! Who knew?

  3. Feeling competitive. Okay, maybe not the best reason but, hey, a bit of gusto never hurt.

  4. Breakthrough. You have figured something out. An epiphany. You are compelled to create!

  5. Drop your inhibitions. You stop putting yourself down and clear away any doubts!

  6. Need to impress. So, you’ve fallen in love and want to impress that someone special. Why not?

  7. Others are looking up to you. What about that special someone in your life who already believes in you?

  8. Courage. Maybe there’s nobody special at the moment to cheer you on but you find courage on your own!

  9. Making up for lost time. Where did the time go? Seriously, where did it go? So, you hop into action.

  10. You discover this feels good! The very act of creating is intoxicating. Now, you’re on your way!

Here I am drawing Grand Central Terminal.

What I’m getting at, for the purposes of this post, is that I want to do my best to get some good solid process features out soon. You know, “How-to” sort of stuff. I am constantly learning new things from various sources. I see a lot of fun and interesting “how-to” books and gurus out there. My conclusion: there’s always room for another person to share their work, tips and insights! I’m just that kind of person. I won’t promise what happens next here but I’ve got a nice track record of following through. Heck, I’ve done more posts right here on this blog than most people I know. So, yeah, I’m good for it. I just gave you a top ten list. Not bad, huh? We’ll do more. That I can promise.

New York Public Library

Anyway, with all that said, I’m thinking a lot of my activity here on this blog and elsewhere could add up to some sort of book that I could share with you that speaks to what I’m doing. It would be an initial step towards what I’m envisioning. It would be the first in a series of books that explores the passion of creating art and storytelling, a nice mix of work, tips, and insights. I’m always learning, always thinking. Also, I should add here that I’m gearing up for a big trip. It is something that has involved a bunch of behind-the-scenes planning with a little help from sponsors and friends. That will be revealed as we progress down this journey. Basically, what I hope will happen is that, at least, a number of successful travel and art blog posts will result. That’s the first step.

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Filed under Art, How-To Guide, Self-Help, Travel

Book Review: ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Pondering the Explore/Exploit Algorithm. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

Pondering the Explore/Exploit Algorithm.
Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

If you can think it, there’s most likely an algorithm for it. With a wry humor running throughout, Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths navigate the interconnections between computer science and human activity in the newly released, “ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY: The Computer Science of Human Decisions,” published by Henry Holt and Company. You come to find that many of life’s golden rules actually have proven methodology. So, in a sense, this book is a self-help book, just a particularly resourceful one using algorithms.

Algorithms. The steps involved in solving a problem. We remember them from high school algebra. We accept them as part of our reality with computers. And, as Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths explain, they relate to everyday life in more ways than you may have expected. In fact, many of life’s decisions could benefit from considering an applicable algorithm. Perhaps the most compelling is the question of finding a life’s partner. While computer scientists may not be specifically finding better ways to manage your love life, you’d be surprised at how math can play a role as matchmaker.

Optimal Stopping: Knowing When to Stop Looking and Start Choosing

Optimal Stopping: Knowing When to Stop Looking and Start Choosing

It’s called the 37 Percent Rule. And, while only correct 37 percent of the time, this algorithm can prove helpful when making a variety of significant decisions. This is also known as, “optimal stopping,” or knowing when to stop looking and start choosing. Computer scientists offered a quaint scenario, “The Secretary Problem.” Christian and Griffiths explain, if you are interviewing a bunch of applicants for a job as a secretary, proceed about a third of the way through; afterwards, be ready to decide moving forward based on what you know. You can see how that would apply to looking for a new apartment and even looking for a new mate!

Christian and Griffiths offer you 11 of these algorithms applicable to real life. Okay, let’s consider another example. Let’s keep in mind that, during a search, you reach a point when you’ve gathered enough data and a continued search can be seen as both redundant as well as confirming what you know. Computer science offered another quaint scenario, “The Multi-armed Bandit Problem.” The idea here is also something of a wait and see game. You can also call it “explore/exploit.” For example, in youth, you explore what life has to offer; in your mature years, you exploit what you have learned. Take that advice to your local casino and, who knows, you might win a payout: try a bunch of slot machines for a while; later, focus on the ones that seem to suggest to you, based upon your exploration, that they’re worth further gambling.

"ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY: The Computer Science of Human Decisions"

“ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY: The Computer Science of Human Decisions”

Sure, some of the correlations can seem rather tongue-in-cheek. Should you depend upon an algorithm to help you find a mate? Well, how about when finding a parking space? Keep looking, perhaps you need help with sorting, scheduling, or breaking a bad habit. We seek order out of chaos and this unique book offers some refreshing ways to create some order.

“ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” is a 368-page book available in hardcover, paperback, and as an e-book. For more details, visit Henry Holt and Company.

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Filed under Algorithms, Book Reviews, Books, Brian Christian, Computer Science, Computers, Henry Holt and Company, Psychology, Self-Help, Tom Griffiths

Lost Cat: Fremont’s Grey is Missing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Easter turned out to be a very nice day. I’ve just walked around my Seattle neighborhood of Fremont to surmise the current situation, take the pulse of the zeitgeist, and just get some fresh air. There’s a flyer I’ve seen a number of times and I thought I’d share it with you. Apparently, there’s this neighborhood cat, Grey, who loves to take strolls and just wander about. But he keeps getting picked up by well-intentioned people who turn him in to the local shelter! I had friends who were constantly compelled to pick up neighborhood pets they were certain they were lost only to find out that these pets were simply doing their own thing, not lost at all. Anyhow, as the above flyer makes clear, Grey, and his owner, have been dealing with this for quite some time and so a flyer went up pleading with people to just leave well enough alone. Here his Grey’s message in its entirety:

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Filed under Cats, Essays, Portlandia, Seattle

WHERE HAVE ALL THE HEROES GONE? Gloria Swanson and a Talk About How We Got Here From There

Gloria Swanson photograph by Edward Steichen, 1924

Gloria Swanson photograph by Edward Steichen, 1924

“Where have all the heroes gone?” asked Sherman. He asked this plainly and earnestly, without even a hint of irony. He looked to be about 16-years-old and not remarkable at first glance, just a kid. He wore a cardigan sweater, had messy hair, a well-worn t-shirt, jeans, and Converse high tops. Maybe a geek but not a proud geek.

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Filed under Commentary, Creative Living, Culture, Essays, Facebook, Henry Chamberlain, Heroes, Hollywood, Internet, Media, movies, Silent Movies, Social Media, Superheroes, writing

A Milestone Comic: Review: Batman Inc. #1

Comics come and go so quickly it makes a regular observer’s head spin. So, when something this special comes along, it is a pleasure to share with all readers, those familiar with what I’m talking about and those without a clue. “Batman Inc” is a significant comic. So significant that it can truly be called a gateway comic for new readers.

Anyone who is into comics has been talking about this title since it was announced at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Legendary designer Chip Kidd highly recommends it. Fans of the writer Grant Morrison, fans of comics in general, know this is where to be right now in comics.What is so amazing about this book is more than can be said in one review. Essentially, it is flawless. The artwork and the writing do a dance in your mind that will entrance you. It truly takes you away from your everyday routine and transports you to a happy place, a full comics experience.

Grant Morrison is known for his dark and multi-layered writing which brings in all manner of pop culture, history, myth and symbolism. That approach to writing has served Batman well as Morrison has navigated through a story, which has spanned a number of titles, that repositions Batman and Bruce Wayne after a long and tortured time when DC Comics had Bruce killed and it had looked like he’d stay dead. To bring Bruce back would need to be done with utmost care and so, presumably the best writing talent in the business, Mr. Morrison, has led the way to make this a truly special time in comics. For this current title, “Batman Inc,” we find Bruce in full command and running the show, the Batman part of his life, with the same vigor he runs his business empire.

Yanick Paquette (pencils) and Michel LaCombe (inks) provide spot on artwork, both beautiful, energetic and relevant. Not a missed note anywhere to be found. The colors too, by Nathan Fairbairn, are exquisite. We begin with Batman and Catwoman working together in Tokyo on the search for Mr. Unknown, who is supposed to figure prominently in Batman’s plans. But, oh wait a minute, actually, just before that, Mr. Unknown is killed by one very scary villain, Lord Death Man! And, yes, no matter how geeky that may sound, it is done with great elegance. This Lord Death Man looks like somebody from a Day of the Dead festival done up in a skeleton costume. But he looks fierce instead of festive and he means to kill without mercy just like the Grim Reaper himself. He comes upon Mr. Unknown and instantly takes away his hands. Mr. Unknown is in shock. He askes where his hands went. Lord Death Man says, “They are in hell! Awaiting the rest of you!”

This is just a little taste of the comic, with special consideration given to those of you out there who normally do not buy comics. I have to tell you, it will prove such an unexpected treat that I urge you to venture into your local comics shop and give it a try. You want to be in on the next big thing? This one will continue to reverberate for some time to come. It’s not exactly underground either. It’s DC Comics after all. But that’s the thing, so many of you just don’t know how good comics can be and this could be the first you hear of Grant Morrison, let alone “Batman Inc.” That said, do check it out.

And for those out there who already know the score. I love this line from Catwoman after she’s knocked out a bunch of Lord Death Man’s henchmen, all following a skeletal motif: “Bones don’t seem so scary when they’re broken in bits, do they?”

Batman, along with every comic book character around, keeps being revisited, tweaked, reborn, readjusted. This is a major shift. This is a new generation’s Batman.

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Filed under Batman, comic books, Comic-Con International: San Diego, Comics, DC Comics, Grant Morrison