Tag Archives: animals

Random Animal Facts

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La la la I can’t hear you and if I can’t hear it it doesn’t exist.

It just gets worse and worse, and although the Rabbit reassures us all that everything will turn out fine, it’s still hard to hear. Today was not in the least a funny day. I made the observation on Facebook that we’ve moved through Orwellian to Kafkaesque. There isn’t actually an evil order behind events. There is a complete lack of order whatsoever. Nightmare chaos despair insanity stubborn pernicious confusion. Reason no longer exists in American current affairs and we citizens can expect no better existence than the lives of despised giant bugs and no reward greater than the release offered by death.

Ha ha! Just kidding! Or am I?

Random animal facts have greater meaning than the news. Just read an article on a new book about octopus intelligence in The Atlantic, even though I already know a lot about octopuses. Did you know that octopuses have 3 hearts? And, in effect, they have 9 brains: 1 big one in their big squishy heads, like us, and 8 nerve bundles, one for each arm, that are big enough to be analogous to little brains, in my opinion. Even the longest-lived octopus species only live a few years. The males become senescent almost immediately after they mate and then die shortly thereafter. The female waits until her eggs hatch and then she achieves senescence and dies.

Octopuses seem pretty smart. Maybe they have the right idea.

Nope Nope Nope Nope

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I mean, right in the face. You know what I mean?

We’re having this little altercation with the city concerning the state of our yard even though we’re working on those stupid weeds. All. The. Time. So anyway I decided to tackle some amaranth and some kind of little tree growing in a very narrow space between the house and the neighbor’s wall, maybe 3 feet wide. And this lady is just hanging out with her massive abdomen right in my face, 4 feet off the ground in the middle of her 3 foot wide web.

After recovering my composure and documenting the event with my macro lens (and then gently relocating the dear thing in her massive home with the farthest end of my loppers and then hacking away at the weeds for 15 minutes) I determined that I had likely encountered a female banded garden spider. With a surprisingly large abdomen and distinctive stripes, it’s seems like an easy identification. They’re also prominent in the autumn. According to the internet, they probably won’t bite you unless you really tick them off, and that their bite is only mildly annoying if they do.

Higher res image hosted at imgur. 

Daughters of the Animal Kingdom

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If you’ve never Googled “slug love dart,” go ahead and do that now. We’ll wait. 

Yesterday’s comic being so busy, I wanted to get back to a simpler style, but, having already decided to only draw the animals mentioned in the story, rather than any people, I sort of got carried away with their various textures. Still, this took less time than any other story out of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters so far.

In the story, the narrator doesn’t answer her mother when her mother asks her where she was, but the reader knows that she was at the women’s clinic, getting an abortion, because having a baby at 47 when you’re already a grandmother several times over and your husband is a dog and you’ve been working on your PhD thesis forever is bad idea. I totally feel this one. It’s such a tremendous relief–throughout the whole story she is thinking nice things about being pregnant and having a baby, but she’s also thinking about everything she’ll lose, and more to the point, all the complications that come with sexual reproduction and the raising of an autonomous individual who feels like they’re part of you but makes independent decisions you don’t want them to make–and when she makes the choice that’s for her, not her husband, or her daughter, or her mom, it’s like a wave of possibility washing over the last page. And there’s the sweet parallel with the silkie walking away from her nest (isn’t that a fluffy silkie I drew?) except chickens are kind of dumb and don’t have tons of potential besides eggs and meat, and the woman is really smart and still has a lot of things to accomplish in her life.

I’m bummed I couldn’t find a good picture of a love dart sticking out of a slug. But that’s a love dart, zooming toward the slug (magnified for clarity). Sexual reproduction is really complicated. And ridiculous.

If it doesn’t make sense, read the book.

Koala-T!

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I don’t see why we wouldn’t win. We meet all the koalifications.

The Man works for an aerospace manufacturing firm, in quality assurance. It’s a job, you know? Every year, the company holds a big picnic in the park, with a bouncing castle and water guns and games for the little kids. Hot dogs and hamburgers provided by the company, potluck for everything else, water balloons, temporary tattoos, that sort of thing. Very America. Much wholesome. In advance of the picnic, they print a commemorative shirt, designed by an employee. Whoever wins the design contest gets a little bonus, maybe $100.

So The Man had this idea, putting the koala in quality. The words are his, and the idea for the picture is his, but he doesn’t have the patience for drawing. He mentioned this concept about 6 months ago, and I said I could probably do it (I’m much better at Photoshop and the Wacom tablet than I was last year!) but we didn’t follow through. Yesterday, he mentioned that the design was due next week, so I did a little sketch. Today he mentioned that it was actually due tomorrow. That was fine, since I had the sketch and no comic anyway.

This is what I did today. I started by looking at how other cartoonists would depict the body of a koala giving a thumbs up. The Man was very clear that the koala must be giving a thumbs up. I was surprised to find that this is, apparently, a common theme, and there were many thumbs up koalas from which to choose. Then I looked at photographs of actual koalas, because most people who draw cartoon animals don’t seem to have ever seen that actual animal, and I like some degree of verisimilitude in my comics. Once I got the eyes, nose, and mouth satisfactorily blocked out and positioned, I just started grabbing colors from actual koala photos, and drawing tiny dots and lines to represent fur. Then I used the blur tool to floofify QA Koala. Somewhere along the line I noted that koalas do not, in fact, have tails and deleted the vestigial one that had appeared in my original reference image. You can’t trust cartoonists. Not about animal anatomy.

The Man was happy with the design but wanted it a bit darker, so I added a layer, grabbed a dark gray, set the opacity to 20%, covered the koala with this shade, and then cleaned up the edges. The Man came in again as I was finishing up the outline and said he could see that I was doing something, but he couldn’t tell what. “I’m making him floofier,” says I. The blur tool is great for cartoon fur.

I used fonts for the lettering instead of doing it by hand. The original version has the company name and “2016 company picnic” written at the top, but I took that out for this blog.

Whether or not we win (“When we win,” The Man said, assuming that no one else was going to top this) I’ll fix this design up a bit more and offer it on my website. Someone, somewhere, wants a Koala-T.

Cats don’t comprehend insomnia

Cats recognize faithful servants and reward them well.

Cats recognize faithful servants and reward them well.

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I walked through a darkened hall and stepped on something cold and slightly moist with my bare foot, and I knew exactly what had just been squished beneath my naked skin, because I’ve stepped on dead mice before. The cat helpfully leaves them in my path, on the only rug in the entire house, because, despite the fact that I feed her regular food and treats every day without fail, she apparently considers me a terrible hunter. The mice are pretty easy targets; they live in the compost heap and even I’ve killed one (by accident, with a pitchfork, while turning the pile). I can’t get myself worked up over mice living in the compost heap–they’re kind of cute when they’re alive, and even though my neighbor in convinced they probably carry the hantavirus, the heap is a pretty safe distance from the house–but the cat is vigilant about their community, and spends many hours a day sitting on the wall, gazing down at their home with dedication to an ultimate goal.

The dead ones are better than the disabled ones. In her quest to teach me how to hunt, she tried bringing me creatures with broken backs, still alive, but unable to walk. She must be perplexed when I let The Man finish them off for me. He grew up on a farm, and has more experience killing animals. In addition to mice, she has gifted me with many lizards, a sizable number of songbirds, and on one memorable occasion, a snake. It was a worm snake with a broken back, able to dart its head around, but paralyzed on the back end.

To her credit, we had a terrible cricket problem in here before she decided to move in, and, mysteriously, since her arrival, the house is no longer infested with crickets chirping their heads off all night in the walls.

In case it’s not obvious, this is another insomnia comics. Insomnia comics are drawn the night after insomnia, when the gears of my mind are sticky and don’t want to turn. I’m sure plenty of funny things happened today, but they didn’t want to be comics. There was the mom pushing a kid in a stroller even though that kid was clearly old enough to walk, and threatening to take away his dinosaurs every time he made a sound even though we were in a room full of screaming kids, for example. That’s weird, right? But I’m too tired to make sense of it. Oh, and then there was a conversation I had with my 86-year-old grandmother, during which she made fun of climate change deniers. And at dinner, we bumped into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while, one of whom is a physicist, who told me that his Ph.d. thesis disproved the concept of teleportation. There’s got to be a joke in that somewhere. Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember how to be funny. Right now I’m just kind of stressed out.

Today also should have been the day that I started my holiday bulletin board, but I was too tired to think of a picture or decide on any text. As my mother always said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Mountain Lions Love Babies

What the heck are *you* guys looking at?

What the heck are *you* guys looking at?

There is something, to me, unspeakably comical about this photo of a baby and a mountain lion. The mountain lion is real and alive, behind a thick wall of plexiglass. This mountain lion is relatively young; I remember he came to ASDM when we was still a cub, and he was very active, pouncing all the vegetation in his habitat flat. Once, a couple months ago, a dove flew into his enclosure and he stalked it for a good 5 minutes. He liked just like an enormous house cat: chest down, tail up, hips twitching. However, he didn’t have the slightest clue how to hunt. While a group of humans waited in anticipation, cheering him on (did you know in America it’s illegal to feed live animals to other live animals for spectators who have paid to be there?) he slowly crept forward and then, still a good 15 feet from his prey, pounced.

The bird flew away.

The humans sighed and laughed.

Undoubtedly, that mountain lion would pounce that baby if he found it in his habitat, but since it’s at the window, the mountain lion is used to just looking. Anyway, I know it’s not the best photo I ever took, but none of the other ones from that shoot really blew me away, even when I cropped them. This is the most interesting one from that day.

I think I’ve finally come through to the other side of this sinus infection. Hallelujah! I woke up this morning only slightly congested, took a handful of OTC meds, and was basically able to breathe all day. It’s a modern medical miracle. Last night I seriously thought I was going to have to live with impacted sinuses for the rest of my life. Although I have a zero percent chance of finishing my entire list tonight, I got through a good part of my week’s goals. There’s one more project I can squeeze in tonight.

Bottom Feeders

It's an online relationship? Come on! You know he's probably catfishing you.

It’s an online relationship? Come on! You know he’s probably catfishing you.

The main thing about catfish is that they’re one of the most sustainable sources of seafood, and they’re extra delicious due to their high fat content. They’re not kosher, so I never tried them until well into adulthood, but they’re definitely the favorite dinner fish in my family. The reason I possess 2 Beanie-baby style catfish dolls is that the catfish lobby produces them to spread the word about catfish being a responsible choice for your gustatory delight, and organizers kept giving them to us at a sustainable seafood event. People get grossed out by bottom feeders, but farmed catfish mostly eat vegetarian pellets, not whatever disgusting gunk falls to the bottom of the tank, which, apparently makes them even tastier than wild catfish.

I really wanted to do a 3D comics with these dolls but other than that I have no idea where this came from, except that I was trying to avoid using any of the puns in the old Dr. Demento classic “Wet Dream” by Kip Addotta, even though I probably haven’t even heard that song in well over a decade. Maybe it would have been funnier if the first fish told the second fish she was being shellfish, or she didn’t hook up with the dude because she had a haddock. This is possible more weird-funny than haha-funny, but that’s cool too.