Monday, September 30, 2013

Curry Recipe

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2-5 diced sweet or bell peppers
  • 3-5 diced cherry tomato
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1/2 diced white onion
  • 4 oz coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cashews / unsalted peanuts (optional)
 Put 2 chicken breasts on a medium heat with one tablespoon oil. Lightly dust with curry powder of your preference. Cook until most of the pink is gone from the meat, then add your peppers, along with one tablespoon yellow curry paste. Increase heat to high to evaporate excess water and give the chicken a firmer texture. With a wooden or plastic spoon, carefully stir ingredients together to ensure a thorough cooking and even seasoning. When the chicken is completely done and most of the extra water evaporated, reduce heat to low. Add coconut milk, onion, garlic and tree nuts of your preference.

Serve over jasmine or basmati rice. Serves 2 people.

Fun Variations
A diced jalapeno added with the rest of the peppers gives the curry a spicy kick.

Half a diced mango sweetens the curry for a lighter, fruity meal.

Pineapple Husk:
Pour the finished curry and rice into hollowed pineapple and bake it for a very sweet pineapple glaze and exciting table centerpiece.

Peanut Sauce:
Thai peanut sauce or a tablespoon of peanut butter can serve as a protein-rich alternative to coconut milk.

If the finished meal is excessively spicy, a dusting of mozzarella cheese can round out the spiciness.

Finely chopped habanero and mango chunks make for a complicated mix of sweet and spicy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Who's REALLY Committing Suicide, Here?

Recently--like seriously fifteen minutes ago--I learned that DC Comics is running contest entitled "Break Into Comics". Wow! That's exciting.  I've drawn three comic books, so the aspiration is there, although the skill isn't, even as I maintain this alleged art blog. They were amateurish, done on 8.5"x11" printer paper for small assignments in high school and in college. I think I might have colored one in MS Paint? So I'm excited. I like contests AND external validation, so I thought maybe I'd enter. There's no way I'd win, really. I don't think I'm equipped to draw any DC titles, but where's the harm in entering? I'll whip up a page, no problem.

But then I read the details of the contest. You, the contestant, must draw Harley Quinn, holding a cell phone tower above her head, trying to get struck by lightning. Then her, trying to get eaten by alligators. Panel three is Harley tickling a whale for some reason. And finally, Harley committing suicide by getting naked and dumping a bunch of appliances into a tub.

This is a bad, dumb contest. Put aside the fact that DC got a fair amount of backlash for Harley's new design both in Arkham Asylum and The Suicide Squad. We'll ignore the fact that creative staff has departed for creative differences regarding gender and sexual identity inclusion.

At it's heart, this is a company asking people to apply there, by telling prospective artists to draw a woman committing suicide in four hilarious ways. Okay, so they're not actually hilarious, although it's pretty clear that they were meant to be. That somebody--possibly a human being!--sat down and thought of four funny ways for a woman to kill herself is kind of weird and gross all on its own.

Especially because sensitive subject matter like suicide is hard to make funny. I won't say impossible, but there are correct channels to go through and criteria to meet in order to make it funny. You have to distance yourself from the reality of the situation, for the absolute horror of death and the incredible suffering a suicide victim must be going through to make it an option. Being dead isn't the punchline to a suicide joke. But then there's this sentence: "We are all watching the moment before the inevitable death." There is a voyeuristic element of anticipation in that sentence that completely terrifies me. That might be the second clearest way to tell somebody "I have watched a snuff film before." It makes the fact that this is a tortured psyche desperately trying to end her own life horrifyingly real, but we're intended to still feel excited about seeing it.

There has to be a better way to make my point. So, to underscore how creepy it is, let's do the same thing with The Joker. It's not going to make it funny, but I kind of hope it makes it clear how genuinely gross this is.

We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. - See more at:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Empty World Syndrome

Recently I just played through Brutal Legend again, and it was a ton of fun, just like I remember it being when I originally played it in 2009. It's a really interesting game because the world is truly awesome. There are tons of cool monsters and locations strewn throughout the world, and the game has specific constructions that allow you to take advantage of these aesthetic pleasures. Ordinarily I hate that kind of emphasis creating a look, creating setpieces that neither serve the gameplay nor really further the story, but Brutal Legend is an epic world that really benefits from a variety of huge, cool setpieces.

Anyway, I beat the game I spent some time just kind of driving around the world, looking at all the cool stuff and visiting some of the areas I had liked while I was playing the game. I rode through some settlements, camps, and places where I'd stopped the bus during the campaign, and I began to notice something: this world was pretty empty. Whenever I'd beat a side mission, the units offering it would vanish, leaving an abandoned campfire behind. The settlements I'd worked hard to rescue from the clutches of vile monsters were empty of people. In spite of its beauty, this world felt sort of abandoned.

I am, of course, comparing it to the RPGs of my youth. In those games, cities were heavily populated, with dozens of locals discussing local landmarks, moving the story along, or offering gameplay advice disguised as banter. Perhaps this is somewhat unjustly offered. Brutal Legend does make some efforts to make the world feel occupied: the whole world is full of units constantly marching around "kicking ass", as they proudly proclaim, there are a few areas where you can interact with campaign characters after the fact, and a few units can be seen doing odd jobs.

But the automated units running around fighting creeps never feel quite like characters: they fight, often they die, and they're replaced by new units as though nothing happened, often while you're sitting there, watching. Seeing people live and struggle in their world is pretty cool, as is seeing aspects of gameplay happen without you--it makes the world feel more immersive.

But then again, it was strange to think that at the beginning of the game, when the humans are living as slaves under Doviculus, they can be seen having a party on the beach--a party that vanishes after you beat the associated secondary missions and never returns, even after the campaign is over. It seems incongruous and makes you question whether you actually improved anything.

However, the absence of civilians from the gameplay is something I've noticed in a couple games. The whole human population of Rapture seems totally absent--you meet a few people that are implied to be non-splicers, but they're always story focused, and their rarity is underscored by the fact that more than half of them show up as corpses and the fact that you have to murder a dozen people just to go to the bathroom. The idea that this place is still a functioning city in the throes of a civil war--and not a long-dead, mouldering ruin--is completely damaged by the overwhelming presence of enemies.

Borderlands basically didn't have anybody. The first town features one NPC and three corpses, but the doctor behaves like he's in a bustling small town. There's a jobs board that often features jobs written as though they're from people who live in the local community, but you almost never see them, or any indication that they might exist beyond a note and the promise of a handful of cash. This is another game where you're exterminating small civilizations the way most people might clean the garage. So any given hut could be a clown car full of axe-wielding bandits, but entire cities often consist of the one guy who coincidentally runs a planetwide chain of vending machines. Again, incongruous.

Bioshock Infinite, however, breaks the mold by featuring civilians. Actual, real civilians that you're not supposed to murder and who flee as soon as the gunfire starts. It really took big steps towards making BSI feel alive, although you can review elsewhere for its storytelling deficiencies outside of the recognition that videogame setpieces don't have to be abandoned sets.

So don't leave an empty world. To me, games feel more interesting and the world more engaging when they they're populated. If you want to build a static dollhouse, we had the tools to do that lying around our mud huts 4000 years ago. We didn't need to tame lightning and teach it to count. If you have an open world, it needs people to feel alive. All those wonderful things setpieces you create should serve a population that has a need for them, or at least an appreciation for them.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Demon Doodles

I've got demons on the brain. It's been driving me up a wall, actually, because while I love these guys I want to draw other stuff. Whenever I try to think of anything else, they come clawing their way back. If I try to think about them, I hit a wall. 

Stumpy up there has given me the most trouble. He's a drummer with a drum-kit car. The drum kit car has been bothering me, so I was skipping it to focus on Stumpy himself. Immediately Rick Allen from Def Leppard came to mind: a one armed drummer, are you kidding me? That's an iconic look and it breaks the expectation that a monstrous drummer be an octopus. The mustache is from Neil Peart, but it's way too much.

Look, if you can get this off my brain with something distracting, I'll be infinitely grateful.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Double Draggin Design

Double Draggins are a pair of demons in a sidecar.  Sometimes, they split the sidecar off the motorcycle, and clothesline people with their serpentine bodies. Or chains, or something. Look, they're very scary. I not feeling very creative today, so I'm not going to write anything else.

....After writing that sentence, I immediately spent five minutes thinking of something else to write.