Tag Archives: insect

More Monsoon Comics: Giant Bug Edition

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For some reason, some people don’t appreciate the beauty of a giant beetle flying into things and dying tragically in your swimming pool filter.

The ASDM webpage on which I found the reference photo of the larval beetle offers this statement of caution for desert motorcycle enthusiasts who don’t wear helmets: “Being hit in the face by a beetle this size can be quite painful.” That’s probably an understatement; one flew into my head earlier this month and I wasn’t even coming toward it at 60 miles an hour and it still felt like being hit by a rock.

Anyway, I think these creatures are fascinating, and, for whatever reason, they don’t feel like cockroaches to me. My response to cockroaches is visceral and immediate; if one crosses my path, I feel compelled to smash it as if it’s a vicious, carnivorous alien (even though cockroaches are harmless, vegetarian, and have been around longer than humans). My response to giant palo verde beetles is, “Cool! It’s a giant bug!” And then I take a picture and send it to my nephew or something. He’s at a prime age to appreciate giant bugs.

My first script had the final panel as some snarky remark about how maybe these insects had it all figured out and maybe we’d be better off if we spent our childhood and adolescence underground and then had thirty days to mate before dying, leaving the next generation to figure things out on its own. Then I thought I’d go for a straight biology story, with only a little snark. Then I finished the artwork and thought the panels looked kind of blank, so I put the snark back in, in word balloon form. That’s why the text doesn’t quite fit the space.

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Monday Gratitude: Class Consciousness

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This macro image obviously has nothing to do with this blog post. I’m sure I could concoct some convoluted metaphor that would tie together tiny bugs and class stratification in America, but I won’t lay all that weight on this poor little bug’s exoskeleton.

[Artists] are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous.

Had to do a little digging on this quote, which has been attributed, in a slightly altered form, to Joe McCarthy and Queen Victoria, but apparently it was actually written to Victoria by her uncle, Leopold, the King of Belgium. He concludes that artists are “hardly ever satisfied” and spending too much time around them gives one ennui.

Ennui is probably not a side effect of art, but of having too much money and not enough to do with oneself. This reminds me of a passage from an Louisa May Alcott book, An Old Fashioned Girl, in which wealthy Fanny, who has lived the life of a debutant for several years, feels prematurely aged as a result of her glamorous but pointless existence. Because she is rich and sheltered, she is also clueless, and she confides her problems to Polly, her one working-class friend, who never judges her (out loud).

“A little poverty would do you good, Fan; just enough necessity to keep you busy till you find how good work is; and when you once learn that, you won’t complain of ennui any more,” returned Polly, who had taken kindly the hard lesson which twenty years of cheerful poverty had taught her.

“Mercy, no, I should hate that; but I wish some one would invent a new amusement for rich people. I’m dead sick of parties, and flirtations, trying to out-dress my neighbors, and going the same round year after year, like a squirrel in a cage.”

In case you’re wondering, Fan loses her fortune a few chapters later and spends a while learning how to live in genteel poverty, before marrying the richest guy in the book.

Artists aren’t satisfied because they have the vision to see how much better things could be. I don’t know if all artists associate with all classes of society. If you have not, it’s hard to understand how vast the chasm between the wealthy and the underprivileged actually is.

I accidentally went to what I heard referred to as a “socialite” party last night. I didn’t realize that’s what it was until after I found myself watching a bouncer check my name off a list and usher me into a 10,000 square foot house full of exquisitely dressed models where nobody, and I mean nobody was talking about politics. They were talking about the 3 swimming pools and how many selfies they needed to take, but they weren’t talking about the plight of the immigrant in America, or the destruction of the environment, or Russian interference in the election, which in itself set it apart from every gathering I’ve attended this year. And I was thinking about how many refugees could have been comfortably housed in that building, and how I escaped the culture of material worship and ostentatious wealth. Which I guess makes me dangerous.

I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived in giant houses, and I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived on the street. And, although the knowledge of inequality’s depth is heavy, it’s never a source of ennui. And I’m grateful that I can see the big picture, no matter how frightening the big picture is when you get the whole thing into frame and focused. I’m grateful for the privilege that gives me this perspective.

If you’re satisfied with the way the world is, you probably haven’t seen that much of it. You’ve just been dazzled by the sparkly parts that were bright enough to blind you to the details.

Macrophotography in a Nutshell: Tiny Fly on Tiny Flower

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Just chillin’ with my new carpet. You guys like?

(Click this link to see the original image at 4217 x 2811)

Another San Francisco capture, so don’t ask me to identify. I only do flowers of the American Southwest, and even that, not terribly gracefully. To me, tiny bug on tiny flower is the most macro of all macrophotography images. I know some people like to take extreme closeups of currency or body parts, but the things I want to see in minute details are tiny bugs and tiny flowers, so pictures like these are synergy.

Anyway, if you zoom in on this one you can see the cool little sticky bits that look like white fluff around the edges quite clearly. I don’t know if it’s moisture in the air that stuck to the flower or something the plant secretes for some reason, but it’s interesting to see.

Per the new schedule, I’m not even attempting to draw a comic until Friday, so I can consider the possibility of writing a few words. It would be nice to work on my T-shirt shop, too.

Oh! I got another paying photography gig. I guess I can call myself a professional photographer, since this will be the 3rd time that’s happened even though I’ve never even told people that I take pictures for money. They just sort of offer it to me. It’s somewhat nerve wracking: formal portraits for a wedding. Like, if you screw those up, you’re not just screwing up a photoshoot. You’re screwing up someone’s memories. The Vampire Bat does a ton of wedding photography, and it seems crazy-making to me. In this case, I’m fairly certain that neither of the brides will bride-zilla on me or make unreasonable demands or be nitpick-y about the work, but I’m sure that people who make a living at this must deal with that all the time. I can barely deal with writing clients, and I know that I know what I’m doing for them.

Maybe I should take a photography class? Then, one day, I’ll remember which aperture and which shutter speed goes with which environment, and how to set these things on my camera. Until then, it’s great that modern technology can handle a lot of those decisions for you.

Mildly Unsettling Macros

There will be no trigger warnings. This post encapsulates my mood right now with a fair degree of accuracy.

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Here’s a momento mori for you. We all die. Tomatoes sooner than humans, usually.

Feeling positively nasty today, a fine combination of chronic pain, sleep deprivation caused by chronic pain, and that weird, crusty, dirtiness of a day-old tattoo that begs to be washed but at the same time prevents you from taking a good shower or hot tub soak, because you spent a lot of money on that tattoo and you need to baby it if you want to keep it.

So, even though I had a comic idea, there’s no way I can use the tablet tonight. I can barely type. So, here are some macros. The first one is a dead leaf from last year’s tomato plant. Not my plant even; I’ve never successfully grown a tomato bigger than a marble out here.

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Yech. Blech. Meh.

This is an aphid infestation on a bean plant. They are fava beans, to be specific, but I hesitate to mention that fact, because the second you say “fava beans,” people’s brains fall out of their ears and all they can do it babble on about a nice chianti. This picture isn’t even that great, but it makes me kind of itchy.

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No, thank you. Feel free to leave at any time.

Finally, this is a mouse that The Man found inside his gym shoe. Apparently my cat was losing her freaking mind over it. Most likely, she brought this little vermin in the house to play with and then got annoyed when it didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to play with it either. I wanted The Man to remove it from the house. He wanted me to photograph it, which is why it’s in a mason jar here instead of a shoe. He thought that he should put a mouse inside a vessel I use to store food.

Hopefully I sleep tonight, because 3 days without sleep renders me pretty useless. And allow me to point out that yesterday I was so tired that I literally forgot my car. I mean, I left it downtown and came home without it and then realized well into the night that my car was very far away, which would have a large impact on my day today. So, if yesterday I lost my car and today I was unable to go to my volunteer job or draw a comic, just imagine how hilariously I’ll screw my life up tomorrow if I don’t sleep again.

Mandalas Are Magic Part 1

The first of 100 mandalas

The first of 100 mandalas

After my bulletin boards became a regular part of my life, I began to see how visual art made me feel, and how others responded to it. While it was work, it was enjoyable. While I might not be one hundred percent satisfied with the outcome, viewers derived pleasure from it. One day, on a whim, I purchased the Crayola telescoping tower (one hundred fifty colors!) and drew a mandala, something that had interested me in college, but that I had never made a serious study of.

A caddisfly themed mandala for an entomologist friend

A caddisfly themed mandala for an entomologist friend

Mandalas are sort of spiritual maps, or maps of the artist’s soul, if you like. Drawing fast ones had always given me an idea of where I was, balance and focus-wise, and taking more care in creating them helped me see when to take better care of myself, to add more art into my routine.

A monsoon mandala

A monsoon mandala