Bird Funerals

I’ve heard about the phenomenon of bird funerals online through various interesting YouTube videos of different species of birds gathering around a fallen comrade or even animals of different species. Unfortunately, I was directly involved in one today in my back yard.

A group of Woodhouse Scrub Jays has taken a liking to me and the peanuts I hand out to them several times a day. I often hear them squawking about outside and have even hung around them enough that I can tell the difference in each cry that they make (basically various versions of screaming, which is usually pretty comical when they’re fighting each other over food).

But today I hear a very loud commotion by not just one, but a large number of jays screaming at the top of their lungs. After a few minutes, it occurred to me that something might be going on so I went to investigate. As I entered the back yard, I noticed all of the screaming birds sitting on the fence between my house and the neighbor’s. Our houses are separated by a utility access ‘road’ (more of a wide path, really) and laying at the base of my neighbor’s electric fence was one of the jays that have been hanging out with me for the past few months. His friends either knew he was dead or were asking for help so I walked around the fence and up the smallish alley and gently removed the bird from the fence. He was definitely dead, his left foot having been burned off completely. I’m sure the death was instantaneous. Other than the foot, it seemed like he was sleeping.

I brought the bird back and set him on the ground next to where my dog is buried and dug a small hole for him (or her) while his flock watched. I left him there (he is still laying on the ground) and every five minutes or so he gets visitors who either perch on the fence or rosebush next to it. None of them have gone down to examine him, but they are definitely keeping watch. I’ll put the little dude to rest a bit later when his family is done doing whatever it is that birds do at their funerals.

RIP, my little dude.

Sorry For the Absence – More Time Loss

Firstly, I apologize for the possibly non-coherent comments below. I often have moments where I am very cognizant of the passage of time and others where I completely lose track of it. I find these time periods both rewarding and preposterously confusing, hence the gobbldygook to follow.

My brain has several different operating modes. Most of the time I exist here in what we call the present (as I type these words…of course this will soon become ‘near past’ and at some nebulous point in the future, turn into ‘distant past’). Quite often I can have moments in time where I live in the distant past. My trouble-spots are the near-future and near-past, and I very often get them all confused with the present. For example, now that I’ve reached the end of this paragraph, the words written at the very beginning are in the near-past.

I suppose that’s easy enough to understand. But it gets weird if you think about it a lot.

I can also spend time in the distant future (this is less common).

For me, the confusion comes mostly from the past, which I’ll soon discuss. The problems I have with the near future are completely unrelated (right now) with the problems I have with the past. I have a pretty severe case of (diagnosed) ADD and planning/staying on task have become enormously difficult for me to work around here in 2020 where my structure of work and societal interaction were completely eliminated. Unfortunately with the pandemic still in full swing, finding treatment locally is nearly impossible in a place where it is already difficult to find any meaningfully competent healthcare providers of nearly any kind. But that stuff is boring and I’m not going to spend any more time on that.

While the distant past is considered by most people to be far away from the present, I do not think of the passage of time in this way, and neither does science. But the general public doesn’t seem to show much interest and really, why would they other than as a kind of intellectual exercise? Understanding how time works scientifically does absolutely nothing for us as a species except for perhaps theoretical physicists and other scattered semi-related disciplines like actual rocket scientists. I am not educated enough to explain the particulars, but a fellow by the name of Carlo Rovelli wrote a book entitled ‘The Order of Time’ that probably comes closest to explaining how I’ve felt about time for a while now.

Here is how I view time.

Imagine all of existence, the ‘history of everything’ was written in a single book. The life and description of every single atom, particle of matter, or energy detailed from the beginning of existence in this universe until it’s very death so that not a thing was missing. An obviously impossible task, other than for the sake of this exercise, but it works here. Now, in order for the universe to actually happen, the reader must read the entire book as it happens….in much less time than it takes to snap your fingers. In that amount of time, everything that will ever happen….happens. The very first moments of time, the dinosaurs, the lives of our ancestors and everything that will come after we are all gone…all come and go in that minuscule and probably scientifically impossible to measure fraction of ‘time’.

While the idea of detailing this ‘complete history of everything’ is preposterous, the actual doing of it seemed not to be so hard, because that’s what happened (again, science). Condensed into a simple example, what I am doing now and what I did yesterday, last week, last year or back in 1973 when I was five, even what I do until the moment of my death essentially happened at the exact same time.

The important part here is ‘essentially’, because without that word, we would all be living in a universe without free will. Without causality, we’d all just be coasting and I’m not one of those people that is willing to go that far when talking about the nature of time. I’m not sure exactly how it works or why humans and seemingly all other life forms and even non-sentient objects seem to obey laws of nature when it comes to the passage of time. I suppose I’ll have to leave that to the scientists, but I do think about it all of the time and it bugs me to no end.

So there is our universe, a book on a shelf with a fully written tale between it’s covers that exists as long as the person reading it is immersed in the pages. In this version, the universe unfolds as quickly as the reader allows. In different versions, perhaps computer simulations can write longer and longer scenarios in an effort to condense the passage of time in laboratory settings. A SIM Universe as richly detailed as our own.

Maybe (probably) it’s already happened?

My brain gets all fuzzy when I dwell on the subject too long, but the good news is that thinking about all of this has allowed me to create a new character in my comic universe with a time problem much like mine, only much more enhanced. The character will be a little like Lemire’s Colonel Weird, though I came up with my time-problematic character independently of his and he will actually be quite different in the end. My character will live something like a four week period all at once and be unable to tell what is past/present/future because it exists all at once for him (or nearly all at once). I don’t know if my writing is clever enough to execute this kind of character in a satisfactory way, but it seems like something fun to try.

Anyway, sorry for the absence. It continues to be a challenging year. C’est La Vie.

Spidey vs Cthulhu

I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is. I’m actually considering this unfinished and may come back to it if I get better at the whole art thing. I mean, it is obviously unfinished, bit I need to correct the pencils before I can ink.

Off to work on the zine.

Zines, art, holidays, etc

I’ve been keeping busy despite lack of posts recently. I’ve been working on the comic zine (yes, still) and art in the creative department. In the spirit of Inktober, I do want to try drawing/painting one thing per day for a while. Here are the two from yesterday and today. The first is Ice Cream Man (Image comic) and the second is Venom The Duck (Marvel Contest of Champions mobile game character).

Image Comics Ice Cream Man
Venom The Duck – Contest of Champions

Store Bought

Do people still use this term? I’m listening to ‘Mean Eyed Cat’ by Johnny Cash and he mentions his gal buying ‘store bought catfood’. This term was still relatively common when I was a kid back in the 70’s and 80’s. Half of my relatives lived out in the country (we did too, but were much closer to the city) and anything bought ‘in town’ was usually ‘store bought’ as opposed to whatever alternative they had come up with on the farm or ranch. Similar terms might include ‘fancy pants’ and ‘city slicker’ in Montana. Aside from the bigger cities in MT, the population is (or was) very rural and most of the time, the country folk would rather have nothing to do with the cities and if they felt anything about them it would be unease or distrust, hence the slightly implied derogatory nature of the term.

On the creative front, this weekend is Zine weekend so let’s see how that goes.

Weird Characters

I’m having a lot of fun (finally) creating a new comic universe. I want it to be populated with weird, but more importantly interesting characters. The world building is still in process, actually still in its infancy, meaning I still need to create a bunch of characters as well as a good chunk of the places, though I do have a nice start on that already as well as the over-arching plot. I’ve got a big notebook that has nothing but prototype sketches of possible characters, most of them which I will never use, like this guy: The Mouth. I’m doing this not only for world building purposes, but I really need the practice to shake the rust off.

The Unbearable Slowness of Inking

It’s probably because I’m not very experienced, but inking these two pieces is taking forever. Plus I’ve obviously not found my confident ink lines yet because I’m too afraid of making a mistake. I guess that’s what practice is for. Once this is inked, they’ll both be ready for watercolors, but that will need to wait for tomorrow so that they are both completely dry. That will give me time to start formatting the zine in InDesign, hopefully later today but we’ll see.

Both of these pieces are really too heavily inked, I think.

Black Hammer Inked

In using this piece to practice my brush strokes since I’ve always used nibs in the past instead of brushes. It’s a lot different and hard to get used to, but I like the look better. It’s a lot easier to make a mess, which I did, but white-out covered the worst spots and the colors should take care of the other smudges (we’ll see). You can see how the right side is messier than the left due to me working right to left).

I’ll color after it dries, meanwhile am going to ink another piece. Actually, after looking, I might add some more ink to Talky Walky.

Noodler’s Ink

I finally got some good watercolor brushes today (well, decent anyway, I’m not good enough for the really good ones). I bought two smaller ones to use for inking as shown here. I’m using waterproof ink, so theoretically when I begin watercoloring there will be no smudges. Theoretically.

This has been a fun experiment so far.