Monday, August 31, 2015

Constant Vigilance: Another Departure

A lot of the friends I made this past year have followed in the footsteps of myself and others and left their homes and families to serve a mission.

This last week, I had the opportunity to see off one of my former residents from my tenure as an RA this past year. He was excited. He was nervous. He didn't know what to expect. He reminded me a lot of me from way back when. 

What a sacrifice. What a noble, honorable man, no matter how long he stays out there.

After he left, I got to thinking about the sacrifices I've had to make since I've returned home. I couldn't think of many. In so many ways, every day, every week, I recognize that I don't fully live up to my expectations regarding my own interactions with the missionary spirit. My blog is a facet of those expectations, but I can do so much more.

So, after my friend left, I drove up.

I went back up the hill my dad presented to me in the moments before I left, some three years ago. I looked at the temple, with the valley stretching behind it.

And I prayed. I prayed to know how I could improve.

Then, I started back down, hoping I would be a new man again.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

To Serve, or Not to Serve: Trip to the Red Cross

I was dropping my friend off at the train station (read more about that on Monday), and as we were chatting a bit, a couple lugging a grocery cart came up to us and asked us for directions to the Red Cross.

The couple had been through some rough experiences recently, and they were very open in telling us about them. Despite this, they didn't ask us for money, they didn't ask us for help beyond merely asking for those directions; I'm pretty sure they knew we were college students, anyway, so they were actually surprisingly considerate in not asking us for anything more. Regardless, as we were standing there, I thought to myself, What am I doing?

So, I offered to give them a ride to the Red Cross.

Then, as we were loading my car with their stuff, I stopped. What am I doing?

I'd just invited two random, desperate strangers into my car. The two of them with the one of me. The second I made the connection, I severely regretted my decision, but I wasn't going back on my offer. So, I made a new decision.

I'm either going to die, or I'm going to become a chauffeur at weapon-point for the next couple of weeks.

The local Red Cross.

Well. seeing as how I haven't missed a post, and I haven't been on the news, you can probably guess how this turned out. The couple continued to be kind and friendly all the way until we reached the Red Cross. As I shook their hands one last time and wished them luck, they wished for God to bless me. I only wished I could do more.

Still, though, the experience irked me. I was frustrated that I couldn't do something nice without ascribing potential malice to the recipients.

The world warns us of potential danger on all sides. We're taught, through the news, that there are people seeking to harm us on all sides, and oftentimes, those very people need the most help from us. Perhaps if they received more help, then they wouldn't be seeking to harm others.

How do you resolve this conflict of interest in your daily act of charity? Be sure to comment below!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Another Chance: Brother's Birthday

This post was originally in my scheduling, but I apparently misplaced it somehow. Oh well! Today's appropriate anyway.

About ten days ago, I went up to bust my brother out of his training program to celebrate his birthday. We didn't have a lot of time, so we mainly just wandered around a mall, went to a geek store, ate food, and played card games.

My brother and I weren't really all that close growing up, and we weren't really all that close for many months following my return from my two year hiatus from America. However, for a large variety of reasons, some of the walls between us are broken down, and we've been able to develop a much stronger brotherhood.

As I write this post, I am sitting parked outside the building in which his program is housed. Today is his graduation, and I, for one, am thrilled to have the opportunity to be here. I'm sure it represents a lot of things for him, but for me, it represents a second shot with our relationship. 

This experience also helps me think about the Savior. 

I'm sure I estrange myself from Christ every day. No, I know I do. And yet, as I work and try my hardest to become more like Him, to fix the broken aspects of our relationship, He has promised me many chances to make things right. I don't know how He could have made such a promise, even when He knew all the heartache I'd put Him through, but He did.

So, now it's my turn.

It's our turn.

For my brother and I, it's Day One for the both of us.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday #37 - Ward Talent Show

Today's throwback comes to us from October 28 of last year.

It was almost Halloween, but I wasn't in costume yet. I was wearing a whole heap of make-up, very expertly applied by my own hands. Well, they were acting like my hands, but they looked a little different than I was used to. I guess you could say I didn't know the back of my own hand like I knew the back of my own hand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Encouraging Kindness: Animation Pitch

Proverbs 15:1 - "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."

Don't forget to add your voice to the poll over on your right!

Well, as many of you may recall, I was working on an animation beatboard a couple of weeks ago in preparation for an opportunity to pitch my idea to a couple of producers. I talk about my thoughts on this process here and here.

Well, this past Tuesday (not yesterday, but the week before), I finally had the opportunity to deliver my pitch.

I had a ton of fun! Sure, my accompanying background music skipped a bunch, I didn't present my material in exactly the style they were looking for, and I fumbled a bit over my lines, but, at the end, I felt like I'd done everything I could do, and was proud of my efforts.

The individuals I met with weren't super thrilled with my overall concept, but I didn't mind. They were blunt, honest, and, above all, kind. They praised the aspects of my concept that they liked, and gave me suggestions for and encouragement to do another pitch a few weeks from now. Had they not been so accommodating, I probably wouldn't have thought about giving it another try. But I am.

So, now I'm drafting up a new idea. I'll probably try to pitch that about mid-September. I guess we'll just have to see.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #14 - Books vs. Movies

Last week's results: Apple vs. PC

PC: 63%
Apple: 27%
Linux: 10%

I'm actually really surprised by this one. I assumed Apple would have a larger presence. Maybe I'll have to ask about phones next time ...

In my mind, most people either choose to watch movies, or read books. They have a hard time balancing both, for some reason. I know I do.

I rarely, if ever, sit down by myself to watch a movie, but I'll certainly spend many a happy hour consuming some ebook off my phone. Of course, in this our age, books and movies aren't the only narrative media options we have. I actually created a spectrum to show my own understanding of these various options, and the magnitude of my own interests in each one.

First, obviously, is the book. With no accompanying visual element, book-reading seems to be losing a lot of popularity. For me, I usually read stuff like Terry Pratchet's Discworld or Brandon Sanderson's Legion.

Second is the comic. Whether it's a graphic novel, web comic, newspaper comic, or something else altogether, this form of reading has accompanying visual elements. I absolutely love comics, myself, but the medium has been struggling heavily when you consider the next few options. I usually read comics like Bravest Warriors or Dr. McNinja.

Third is what I call the 'short film.' These include YouTube videos, vines, or really anything not normally syndicated through regular means. I generally try to keep up with Good Mythical Morning every ... well, morning, as well as with Studio C's channel.

Fourth is the TV show. Shorter than a movie, longer than a web series, syndicated and marketed as all heck, I find I generally like the serial format of TV shows much better than I do movies. My top three shows are Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, and, somewhat embarrassingly so, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Fifth is the movie, surprise surprise. I really don't watch many movies. My post about Anne of Green Gables probably marked the first movie I'd seen since Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I think I hadn't seen a movie in six months before that one came out.

Anyway, which one is your favorite? Did I miss an important medium through which one can tell stories? Be sure to comment below and vote in the poll to your right!

Monday, August 24, 2015

By The Hand: Fresh Employment

As most of my diligent readers know, I am seriously considering graduating by the end of this next school year, a full year earlier than was originally planned. Of course, before I fully commit to such a course of action, I want to make sure I know what I'm studying for grad school. 

Righ now, I'm gunning for a Masters in Library Science, but I know a lot less about the discipline than I'd like. So, this past summer, I've been applying for various jobs at the library on campus. Beyond my semi-tentative acceptance into the LS internship program, I hadn't heard back from anyone, and was beginning to feel just a little discouraged. Maybe I'm on the wrong track altogether, I mused.

Then, someone emailed me back in response to my application. 

After I sent back a few examples of my writing skill and style, we set up an appointment for an interview.

While it may seem somewhat generalizing to say, literally the only reason I got my first job back in high school was because I wore a suit to pick up the application and when I went the interview. Ever since then, I've continued to take my father's advice. Dressed up in suit and power tie, I showed up for the interview, presented myself as best as I could, then left with high hopes.

One downer was that interviewers told me that I was only their first applicant. "We really like you, but ..." 

Sure enough, I received a call later on in the week from the big boss himself.  "I just wanted to let you know that we've decided to give the job to someone else," he said. "You were really great, really qualified, but we just think he's a better fit for what we're looking."

I sighed inwardly. Well, I'm glad he's at least letting me know I didn't get the job.

"The thing is," the boss went on, "You really impressed us. Out of over twenty applicants, and you two really stood out."

I smiled to myself. I'd heard stuff like this before. He's going to tell me that I shouldn't be discouraged, that I have a bright future ahead of me and all that. Still tremendously kind of him, but I just wanted a job.

"So, you mentioned you'd applied for the LS internship," the boss continued. "I actually helped to establish that program, and I was wondering if you'd like to work for me within that program?"

I blinked.


After praying about it, I got back in touch with him and accepted the offer.

So, today is the day I begin my employment, right here at the library. I actually wrote this entire post a few paces away from the primary office for which I'll be working! 

For me, the experience went to show that, sometimes, God just wants you in a specific place. I feel very strongly that, though I struggled in finding new employment, every setback was a nudge toward this opportunity. I don't know what I have yet to learn or accomplish, but whatever it is, it will be for my benefit.

So where are you being guided?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Snapshot #1 - Flashback

I don't have a new Snapshot for today, but do you remember the first I ever made for the series? Let's take a gander today, shall we?

And here's the link to the original post.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saying Good Bye: Last Day of Work

It's hard to fully describe, in detail, the extent of my responsibilities here at this workplace of mine. I've attempted to several times this past Summer, and today, I will refrain from trying again.

Today was the last day of this employment.

Some of the stuff I had to clean up this morning. The mountains ... the mountains never stopped.

As it is, I've gotten permission to stick around this next week during the interim period between the end of my current housing contract and the next. In return, I agreed to help cover the front desk until I actually move. I guess I'm not officially done with this employment yet, but my responsibilities are drastically reduced and more compartmentalized.

Looking back on it all, had I previously known the struggles I would experience while working this summer job, I'm not sure I would have applied.

Now that I'm done, however, I wouldn't change anything.

I met so many wonderful people this past summer. I strengthened so many previous relationships. My coworkers, supervisors, and managers each taught me something valuable about life, about love, and about myself. They saw me at my absolute lowest, and also at my absolute highest. They, each and every one, made it worth it.

There's something to be said about being where God needs us. I don't know that I needed this job to help anyone else, but I do know I needed this job because I needed the help. God knew that, too, and when I first heard of the opportunity during an RA staff meeting, I immediately recognized it was right.

I write this post today to thank everyone who trusted God enough to come and be my strength, both in this employment, past employment, and in other opportunities to come. 


You rock.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Because of Him: Only Two Straight Hours of Sleep

This past Saturday marked the beginning of the end. Considering there was only one more conference with which to contend, my coworkers and I were looking at one more week before the benign termination of our summer employment. 

It was rumored that this particular conference was arguable the most difficult to contain, and the check-ins that filled the hours across Saturday and Sunday failed to dispel anything. Come 12:01 AM Monday morning, I was ready to hit the sack and do nothing but sink into an oblivion reserved for the deepest of dreamers.

"Here," one of my coworkers said, unceremoniously depositing one of the two work phones into my hand. "You're on call tonight."

I blinked, my bleary eyes barely registering what had just occurred.

And thus began the night of madness.

Here is where I, operating alone, performed a large number of check-ins from the early evening late into the morning.

There were numerous conference-goers whose flights had been delayed, or who had lost their way, or who didn't particularly care who they woke up so long as they could get into their rented rooms. As it was, I made it home two times before the work phone started ringing and I was required to double back and assist another late-comers with their check-in. After I'd changed into my pajamas and got called back a third time, I gave up trying to go home completely. 

Fitfully napping on some lobby couches that I'd pressed together, I continued to answer calls and let people into their buildings until around 4:00 AM. I then slept, uninterrupted, for two hours, a full hour and thirty-three minutes longer of an opportunity than I'd been given previously. At 6:00 AM, the arrival of custodial crew and the early desk attendant forced me to abandon the lobby and move into an adjourning room, whereupon I curled up under a table and wrapped myself in a tablecloth. I remained there for but a few minutes before the phone started buzzing again, and I continued working until 8:00 AM. It was at that point when I gratefully left the phone with the next on-call individual and slouched on home to bed.

My only friend for the course of that entire night.
All throughout this experience, I was grumpy. I was angry. I was frustrated. I found myself entirely void of pity for any of the late-comers, no mater how desperate or grateful they presented themselves. I found myself resenting their every word as I spoke with them, and at the end of the long and dreadful shift, I could think of nothing but how much I hated every participant in this conference.

When I woke up, however, I felt foolish.

What was this trial? Very little compared to what Christ experienced in the Garden. In fact, He experienced everything I did that night. He experienced my exhaustion, my headache, my fatigue, my disorientation. He experienced my broiling emotions. If there was any sin in these, He paid the price. He also felt what those late-comers were feeling, their anxiety, their weariness, their own fatigue.

And, still, He loved us all.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday #36 - The Woodpecker

Don't forget to add your voice to the poll on the right-hand side! New thinkjoust, every Tuesday!

I don't have too much to add to the original post, beyond that I often feel just like how I imagined that woodpecker did on that day.

How about you? Do you feel like a woodpecker sometimes? If you'd like more context to this question, be sure to click here to read Determination: The Woodpecker!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Comrades: Night on the Utahn Frontier

It is true it can sometimes be difficult to make new friends over a summer term in a University town. Despite this, considering my coworkers and this distinguished body of gentlemen here, I have nonetheless found success in this endeavor.

The night I spent with this group, including two of my three future roommates, was quite an adventure. Rumor had it that a neighboring University was showing an outdoor movie, and seeing as how three and a half of us are single, we decided to see if we could snag any dates. It didn't take us long to determine that one, the event was designed for couples, and two, the movie was awful.

Not to let a good night go to waste, we five pwned some noobs on a couple of server before fueling up at the local clown emporium. Then, with our brotherhood more firmly solidified, we bid adieu and went our separate ways.

Once, it would have been difficult for me to go out on an adventure like that. Shoot, it once would have been difficult for me to form bonds with anyone new. As the summer has progressed, however, I've been able to see how much I've grown, and how much I've come to appreciate all of my friends, new and old. Each person I meet has something fresh to offer, some new philosophy or thought that gets me thinking about things in liberating and fascinating ways, and so each friend leaves a different impact on my heart, mind, and soul. That is why I have cherished making new friends AND maintaining my other relationships this past summer. And I wouldn't change it.

So get on out there! Meet someone new today! I guarantee they'll help you see another side of life.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #13 - Apple vs. PC

Last Week's Results: Social Media

Facebook: 45%
Twitter: 27.5%
Instagram: 27.5%

I'm actually surprised that only three of these ended up being represented among the seven I offered as options. Of course, as I write this, I remember those three are the only social media sites on which I actively market myself. So ...

I don't even understand why these two are ever compared with each other. I'm sure you've heard of the Apple vs. PC wars circling around the internet since the internet itself, but I just don't get it.

I mean, how are you supposed to compare a processor with a fruit? Or even a fruit with a processor? That's what I really don't understand, I mean, I never hear about anyone eating computers, but I certainly hear people talking about checking their texts and emails on an apple. I've bought countless apples in my lifetime, and not once have I ever figured out how I'm even supposed to connect to WiFi, much less email someone about it! I mean, whose brilliant idea was it to ...

... I'm sorry?

There's a brand of computer called Apple?

We're not just talking about fruit, here?

But we've already signed a contract with Sweet Apple Acres for the photoshoot, and it will be difficult to meet with some hotshot computer company with such short notice, even if nobody has ever heard of them ...

Fine. FINE. We'll keep things as is.

So ... uh ... Apple? PC? Linux? Something I haven't heard of yet? What do you think? Be sure to add your voice to the poll on your right, and comment below!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trial and Error: The Actual Scanner

Following my clever-yet-failed attempt to jury-rig a scanner out of common materials found in any college kid's bedroom, I slouched on over to the local library to try my hand at using their machines.

If there was a book out there that taught people how to be a failure in regards to approaching basic scanning, I would now find that book to be obsolete. After all, I already learned all one hundred and seventeen techniques described in that book through a tedious trial and error process of my own.

First, the book into which I'd inked my drawings was too big, meaning it kept getting caught in the lid of the scanner next to me. Then, when I tried to figure out the dimensions of the paper, the machine couldn't decide if it wanted to torment me by cutting off large portions of my drawings, or by shrinking them down altogether. Finally, when I determined the dimensions, I learned I needed to keep the paper perfectly straight, or I would risk cutting off an important line of dialogue or two. Such setbacks only meant I needed to rescan the entire twenty-five pages all over again, as I was using the scanner to email me a completed PDF.

All jargon aside, as the veins popped out in my forehead and my agitation rose, I thought about how this experience could be an allegory for life.

There are so many times we try something, and we fail. We try the same thing over and over again, occasionally yielding different results, more often yielding the same failures, until we attack the problem from a new angle. Each attempt teaches us something new, each success or lack thereof tells us what is right and what is not, and in the end, we come off better because of it.

I guess God does give us trials for a reason.

Either way, tomorrow's the day for my pitch! I'll let you know all about it next week.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Expectations: Anne of Green Gables Film

Wednesday was my day off this past week. As I was writing up blog posts, short stories, and job applications, I received a text from my supervisor, sent to myself and all of my coworkers.

I stared at that text. This particular version was the three and a half hour long epic produced by Kevin Sullivan.

I wanted to go. After all, a lot of my friends were going. But it was a huge commitment, and the subject of the movie seemed totally disinteresting to me. After all, a coming-of-age story featuring an orphan in her daily routines does not really appeal to my general tastes. 

I stared at my phone.

I wanted to spend time with my friends and family, but I fully expected to be pretty bored throughout the film. I figured I could either multitask or excuse myself at an appropriate time.

When I left that night, my attitude was much different.

I loved that movie! Though my enthusiasm was pretty lackluster during the first thirty minutes of the movie, my attentiveness and engagement steadily rose until I was actually disappointed the movie was over. Me! Wanting more! Of a three hour film. That book is now also on my reading list, if I ever finish The Count of Monte Cristo. 

I can't tell you how many times I've had my doubts about something, and then chosen not to give it a try in favor of something more familiar. Considering that, I can't tell you how many times I've missed out on something I would absolutely love because of those very same doubts.

This is a blog designed to uplift and encourage. Here's my encouragement for today. Get out there, and fine your own Anne Shirley.

I can't wait to hear about your experiences. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Innovation: Bedroom Scanner

This last Friday, I was communicating with GO! Cartoons to confirm and set up my upcoming Skype pitch session (I've talked about this here and here). Just as everything seemed good to go, I received yet another instruction.

"Please email us a PDF of your beatboard."


You see, I had chosen a rather large Moleskine-brand book into which to sketch my drawings, and I knew working with a traditional scanner would be tedious and difficult. Not only that, but I would need to walk all the way up to campus, which is such a long ways away (OK, only like a five minute walk, but whatever).

As I stared at the instruments lying around in my room, I suddenly had a brilliant idea. A wonderful idea.

Running around and borrowing some supplies from my supervisor, I made ... THIS. Behold, from three angles!

To explain what you're seeing, I opened the second drawer and the top closet in my dresser and placed my book inside the second drawer. Taking two of my books of ukulele music, I duct taped them together, as well as to the bottom of the drawer.Taking a clear plastic sleeve I use to carry important documents around, I taped that to the ukulele books and to the bottom of the closet. Then, I taped a plastic pencil case to a flashlight and then taped that contraption to a towel rack.


I was fairly proud of this home-made scanner. However, after I tried to take some pictures from the plastic sleeve using my phone's camera, I quickly figured out that, while the quality wasn't terrible, it wasn't where I really wanted it to be.

Even though I never really used it, and even now is dissembled, I don't regret making this thing. Not only did it give me the opportunity to think laterally, it made me feel proud and just a bit clever for coming up with the idea. In a pinch or emergency, I could totally do something like this again, and either way, now I know the drawbacks and have learned from the experience.

When I think of the men who've created all these things that we enjoy, from smart phones to lightbulbs to frozen food, I can't help but feel they likely failed frequently. Imagine what life would be like if they'd given up after the first failure.

Be lateral today!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday #35 - Dance-Off Challenge Continues

Don't forget to throw your hat into the poll ring! Be sure to add your voice at the top of the right column!

Today's throwback comes to us from October 23 of last year.

Whenever I'm embarking on a creative project, I go through several levels of enthusiasm. The first is usually akin to self-deprecating doubt, and always the toughest to hurdle. Aw, man, I'll think. This is the worst idea I've ever had.

After I contemplate this worst idea, however, I suddenly have a eureka moment. I see a solution to an issue I originally had with the concept, or some new layer pops into my mind. Yes! I'll think. This is the best idea I've ever had!

Now, depending on how long it takes me to dive into the project, I may or may not jump back and forth between these two emotions several times before finally beginning. An example of this back and forth includes my work on my Jackalope novel (which I speak of briefly in this post here). After all, I've been working and tweaking that project on and off again for nearly four years now.

Anyway, I could discuss my other levels of enthusiasm, but I'll save that for later. For now, just know that, in regards to the dance-off challenge, I was most definitely in stage two when I wrote that post. Even I'm impressed with the raw bubbliness I express in this post.

But don't just take my word! Click here to read Let Your Light So Shine: Dance-Off Challenge Continues!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Where Credit is Due: I HATE SOCIAL MEDIA

I. Hate. Social. Media.

The beginning of this blog marked the end of a two year fast. During that time, I didn't send text messages, I didn't send tweets, I didn't check my Facebook, and everything collected internet dust. 

Upon the conclusion of my fast, the first thing I did was go out and buy a smart phone, the first I'd ever owned. I was immediately bombarded by constant communication from all of the friends with whom I'd lost contact, and I relished every moment of it.

Then, I learned something about myself. I couldn't keep up. I soon wearied of constantly being plugged in. I struggled to maintain relationships with individuals right in front of me because I kept having to see what other people were up to. I felt overwhelmed by how much stuff happens in everyone's lives, so much so that I had a hard time keeping track of my own life.

It was for this reason that I have avoided most forms of social media up until this past week. Even now that I've plugged in to several major media outlets, I still feel overwhelmed by everything that is out there.

Even beyond that, I think the biggest struggle for me is that I feel somewhat arrogant whenever I send a tweet or snap a selfie. All I'm really doing is proclaiming to the world, "Look at me! Look at what I'm doing! Aren't I interesting? Aren't I relevant?" I am at the center of everything I post, and even when I'm trying to use this very blog to uplift and encourage, I'm taking experiences from my life and trying to pass it off as super important for everyone else.

This is a struggle for me because I firmly believe God deserves all the credit for my accomplishments. The talents, gifts, and skills I have all belong to Him, and He can grant more or take the few away as He pleaseth. I worry sometimes that, when I upload anything, I'm just going to focus on me and forget Him.

What do you think? Do you have the same struggle, or am I crazy? Be sure to comment below!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #12 - Social Media

Last week's results: Pen vs. Pencil

Pen: 72%
Pencil: 14%
Everything's Digital Now: 14%

I was expecting more people to work in entirely digital formats! Guess I was wrong.

I think this looks pretty good, actually!

To start off with, the thinkjoust is centered on the question, "Which social media site do you like the most?"

Of course, I know what a difficult question that is. After all, I've been exploring a lot of different social media sites this past week with my advertising push, and I know each outlet has its own strengths and weaknesses. Picking just one is like trying to pick an arm over a leg. Both have their uses!

So, if that question is too hard, then go with this one: "If you could only pick one social media site to use for the rest of your life, which would you pick?"

I'm terrible, I know.

I'll be waiting for your comments below and your pick in the poll on the right hand side!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Shine Your Light: Beatboard Confessional (Part Last)

Last day to add your voice to the thinkjoust! Vote on the poll, just to your right over there.

Matthew 5:16 - "Let your light so shine before men, that they man see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

This post is continued from the post at this link.

So, last Saturday, I talked about how the beatboard I drew for submission to a professional animation syndicate doesn't necessarily encourage or inspire in the way my other creative works have. I have no idea where this project will end up, but before it goes wherever it goes, I would like to explain why it feels different.

I'll admit, even in my own cartoon binging, I rarely seek inspiration or encouragement. When I am watching something like that, I'm usually trying to let my mind clear itself and take a break. 

Of course, there are some forms of cartoon entertainment out there that contains themes and elements far too ... well, the world would say mature, but my mother would say 'inappropriate.' These types of entertainment seem to be exactly opposite of uplifting or encouraging entertainment, presenting a lesser alternative to more 'clean' options.

My animation idea is a bit violent, yes, but most of it is taken from the source material and played for laughs, anyway. After all, who's ever heard of an amoeba duel-wielding swords? And it's true that at least of one my characters fills a 'stoner' stereotype, but again, I could not resist a line about 'snorting enzymes' and 'floating on the endoplasmic reticulum of the universe.' If you find those things 'edgy,' so be it, but the point it, I believe this animation idea is a wholly clean alternative to many of the options out there.

And, of course, it's an investment. If the animation block green lights my idea for a short animation, then I will be sticking my foot in the door of a very successful industry perpetually looking out for writers and the like. If I eventually join this industry, then I will have the chance to continue to push others to uplift and encourage as well as get my name publicized so my more inspiring works, like my novels, will gain a greater overall interest.

So, no. Truth, Justice, and the Amoeban Way is not an inherently inspirational work. However, it offers a clean alternative, and it has the chance to propel me and my ideas to new heights.

I meet with a representative of the studio via Skype on the 18th. I'll let you know how my pitch goes then.

Until next time, godspeed, my friends.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Shine Your Light: Beatboard Confessional (Part 1)

For those of you following my twitter (@Zachary_JamesCC) and/or my instagram (@zacjam), you'll notice I've been posting pictures of anthropomorphic blobs all week, claiming these blobs are so-called 'Amoebas.'

"Why amoebas?" someone asked me.

Well, I'm not that good of an artist, but I sure as heck can draw misshapen blobs over and over again.

Last Saturday night, while I worked the front desk at my workplace, I was researching the business plan for Cartoon Hangover, home of one of my favorite things on YouTube: Bravest Warriors.

And yes, I do research business plans for fun.

While I was wandering around, I discovered this link, which I immediately read in earnest. For those of you not interested in checking that out, some big time companies are teaming up to seek and find people who have the potential to be the next generation of animation creators and producers.

Wow, I thought. What an opportunity! Too bad I don't have any ideas right n-

But then I remembered.

I did have an idea.

When I was out serving in Jamaica, some conversations I had with my companions inspired me to sketch out the main characters of a potential future webcomic, which I called Truth, Justice, and the Amoeban Way. The characters were each based on a different aspect of the DnD alignment chart, with the idea being that, if you take away the straight man in comedy, if you take away the sane characters, what do you have?

Many months later in my mission, I decided to use one of my planners to sketch one panel of this comic idea a day, just as a way to relieve some steam before bed. This particular incarnation of my idea dropped the 'no straight man' concept and instead became an over-the-top martial arts movie/Japanese shonen parody.

And here we get to the meat of this post.

The script I wrote (based on those original drawings found in that planner) and the beatboard I drew for submission ended up being very, very different from my usual writings and recent creative projects. Gone was a particularly sophisticated sense of humor (at least, more sophisticated; I'm not sure how many people find me particularly sophisticated), gone was any direct attempt to uplift or encourage anyone, gone was evidence of my many claims to seek these things in many, many of my blog posts.

"Why, then?" you might ask. "Why work on this project at all, then? Aren't you being a little hypocritical right now?"

Well, I'll explain myself ...

... on Monday. Who doesn't like a weekend cliffhanger, am I right? ;)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Daily Adventure: Tim Tam Slam (Video)

Once upon a time, I had a friend who offered to feed me for dinner.

"It was last Sunday," he said.

True! But, technically, that was still a time. That was onced upon.

"That doesn't really make any ..."

Fine! I'll be normal about it!

Last Sunday, I went over to my friends' house for dinner. Whereas I served a mission in Jamaica, he served a mission in Malaysia, and he actually learned how to cook their food! (I still wish I'd learned how to make Jamaican curry. Mmmmm ... curry.) 

As it was, the meal was Malaysian ... well, mostly. The vegetables apparently weren't, and a few minor details were altered, but I didn't know the difference, and I thought it was absolutely delicious either way, so hey! 

The chef at his handsomest.

I also had the opportunity to participate in an old Malaysian mission tradition - the legendary Tim Tam slam.

To keep it simple, a Tim Tam is like a chocolate-coated wafer. A slam occurs when you suck incredibly hot chocolate through the wafer like a straw. The wafer quickly becomes soggy, so the game is to tilt your head back right before it disintegrates and swallow. If you fail ... well, shame for life, man.

Thankfully, my chef friend took a video of my attempt at this.

So ... shame for life, man.

Either way, the opportunity to experience at least a glimpse of another culture and have a fun failure was an experience I won't forget. I am always grateful when someone gives me the chance to do something like hat, and I can't wait until the next chance.

What cool new thing will you experience this week?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Throwback Thursday #34 - Dance-Off Challenge

Hey, y'all! Don't forget to mount your thinksteeds and arm yourself with thinklances so you can throw your voice into the thinkjoust! Check out the poll to your right!

Today's throwback comes to us from October 22 of last year.

This post definitely deserves some mention because it marks the beginning of a long-running 'arc' that ran all through October. Many of the posts from that month focused on the RA Zombie Thriller Dance-Off, which was actually a ton of fun for everyone involved.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What to do with your Bad Day: Blanket Folding

I worked a late shift this past Friday, and when I woke up early Saturday morning for another shift, I could feel it.

The volcano lies dormant within me for a majority of the time, but when it is roused, it spews forth a thick, black cloud of raging heat, magma overflowing to burn and scald anyone who dares come too close.

I felt that volcano stretching and yawning within me, ready for another day of red hot anger.

Oh boy, I thought to myself. Not this, please.

What I did all Saturday morning.

It was clean-up day, and we were asked to go through all the rooms and fold blankets for the next week. The volcano burned within me, urging me to tell everyone just how much I was going to loathe this assignment and how tired I was of completing it.

I bit my tongue. Shhhhh, I told the volcano.

A proper demonstration on how to bite your tongue like a true gentleman.

The volcano became particularly boiled when I was put into a bit of a predicament I felt rather unfair. Shhhh, I told the volcano.

It was with great effort that I refrained from snapping at anyone for the next six hours. When my shift was finally over, it was with great relief that I went home and went back to bed. I was grateful I hadn't let the volcano erupt on anyone ... at least this week.

I think all of us have our bad moments, our bad days. That's totally cool! We're allowed to have those! However, when I am having a bad day, it really grinds my gears when I end up taking it out on other people. After all, after my volcano goes back to dormancy, I feel like the tool that made the heel on someone's shoe.

And I think that's the thing. Even when I am in the foulest mood, I have days like Saturday in which I successfully control it. Because of this, when I do lose control, I know I don't really have an excuse.

Either way, in the end, I really do appreciate bad days. After all, you can only go up from them! I don't know I would recognize a good day if I'd never had a bad day. Yes, they're a struggle, but they give me perspective, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Thinkjoust Tuesday #11: Pen vs. Pencil

The week-long social media blitz continues! Today, I assert my presence on Instagram! Be sure to click the Breaking News tab up top for more detail!

Last week's results: Do You Eat Brownie Goop?

I only like cooked brownies: 50%
I'll scrape the bowl while baking: 50%

That was an even split! I'm surprised!

Can you tell from where I got the inspiration for this picture?
I am a man of many mistakes.

Therefore, I once was a man of many pencils. I had a collection of over one hundred at one point, though this was more to combat my tendency to lose them as opposed to collecting them for collection's sake.

However, as time has gone on, and the digital age requires everything to be clean, clear, and crisp, I have found myself relying more and more on pens. If you want something digitalized, nothing shows up brighter than good ol' ink. It's also harder to preserve pencil marks as well. If you want something to last, use a pen!

As it is, I actually had to buy a pencil to use for sketching and shading on my animation beat board (which you'll hear more about Saturday). Of course, I bought pens as well, but this was primarily so I could use higher-quality ink.

Anyway, which do you prefer? Or have you become so digitized you don't use paper products at all? Let me know in the comments, and throw your voice up on the poll!

Monday, August 3, 2015

No Barriers: International Dance Festival

First of all! Don't forget to check out the updated Breaking News underneath the header, right above this sentence! If you don't want to read that noise, just know you can now follow me on Twitter @Zachary_JamesCC.

Second! This is the last day to participate in the poll! Add your voice in the column on your right-hand side!

A week ago, I went with my FHE group over to an international dance festival in the next town over. It was actually a really cool experience!

One aspect of which I was particularly appreciative was the fact that each group hailed from another country. The dancers weren't local students who'd learned various international dances, the dancers were students who'd learned their own culture's dances and had traveled halfway across the world to share.

That wasn't it, though. Not only were we treated to a presentation, the crowd was invited to join each group and learn certain steps of the dances. So, out we would pour, gathering around certain dancers and mostly vainly attempting to imitate their moves.

Of course, there was a slight language barrier. Asking one of the dancers to explain a move with words was impossible. However, I quickly figured out it just didn't matter. All I had to do was follow the dancer's lead, and then it didn't matter we didn't know each others' language. All that mattered was that we were breaking down bonds and crossing barriers.

Walking away from the experience made me realize how small our world really is. Rarely have I felt so connected to and inspired by utter strangers, and I only felt that way because we happened to jump at the same beat in the music.

Truly, we are all God's children. It's a shame that, sometimes, we don't give each other more of a chance.