Animal Alphabet: V is for Vogelkop Bowerbird

A few people have expressed concern or curiosity, so if you're reading this and are worried about how my part of Vermont weathered Irene, let me say that our house was unscathed. Irene hit here as a lot of rain and wind, but really if I hadn't been warned I'd have had no reason not to think it was just a longer-than-usual summer storm. Spend your cares instead on the Schulz Library at CCS, in a different part of the state, a lot closer to a river and with more cause for concern.

This week's Animal Alphabet critter doesn't look like much:

But, in fact, the Vogelkop bowerbird is one of the most amazing instances of the variety and splendor of the natural world.

Rather than trying to impress his mate with elaborate feathers, wattles, or dancing displays, the male bowerbird builds and decorates a structure for the female to inspect. And the Vogelkop bowerbird, more than any of its relatives, constructs an impressive and wondrous gallery, collecting colorful seeds, flowers, fungus, snail shells, beetle elytra, and even human detritus from around the forest, and arraying these collections in an area under his bower as much as five or six yards across.

Every male collects different items and arranges them according to his personal (if that's the right word) taste.

This is a pretty crummy drawing. Go look at David Attenborough investigating a real Vogelkop bower.

I think you will agree with me on this point: if you were walking through the Vogelkop peninsula of New Guinea without any knowledge of the bowerbirds, and you encountered one of these structures with its array of ornaments and its piles sorted with obvious regard to aesthetics, you'd believe it was made by a human. Or a fairy. Or a spirit creature. Or a smurf. Something.

Next week: probably my last sea creature, and it's a doozy.

Golf Tournament Recap!

This post is without pictures, as I am waiting on the awesome photographs taken by two very talented photographers. But, I have been really excited to share about the 3rd Annual Isaac Timothy Delisle Memorial Golf Tournament. Pictures will be in a later post.
85 golfers and numerous volunteers joined us for a day of golf, dinner, prizes, and a chance to hear about the amazing organization, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know how special this organization is to Spencer and I, as well as to thousands of families across the country.
The weather threatened rain, yet the day of the tournament was warm and sunny... and just cloudy enough at dinner time that folks could better see a short video presentation about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep's mission and services to families. Golfers appeared to have a blast, for which we are grateful!
Two local photographers who volunteer their time with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep shared their experiences from their perspective... how and why they got involved, what it is like to share such a painfully intimate time with a family they do not know, and what they have learned or gained. A close friend shared about her experience of using Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep's services after the birth of her son, Henry, this past January... a particularly poignant moment of the evening for sure.
We are still finishing up the financials for the tournament, but it is looking like approximately $3000 will be able to be sent to this amazing organization to allow them to continue with the important work they are doing on behalf of bereaved families. We are grateful for the generosity of so many who made this possible!
Pictures to come...

King Kirby Day 2011

Today would have been Jack Kirby's ninety-fourth birthday, and I wanted to celebrate the day as I did last year: by swiping one of the panels drawn by Kirby that was burned into my visual memory at an early age and lives there to this day.

I don't have much time to explain why I chose this particular panel—that'll be a post for another day, soon. But if you've seen the Favorites zine, this is a panel from the comic I wrote about.

Other people (and little stuffed bulls) will surely honor Kirby better. But I wanted to make sure I didn't let the anniversary of his birth pass without peering again into the mysterious power his images have over me.

Animal Alphabet: U is for Uakari

Nothing special to say about this week's Animal Alphabet entry.

The uakari is a funny-looking monkey with a body like Hartza's and a head like a certain Nazi bedeviler of Captain America.

In other words, it looks like a tomato on a haystack.

Is this version better?

Next week: something like an art collector.

Reading about myself

Things I learned about myself from this article in The Daily:

1. I am "attractive in an emo sort of way."

2. I am "bewildering."

3. I am "half an aperture stop away from something like obliviousness."

4. I am a hipster cliche.

Can't argue with any of that. Read this article if you have an interest.

even more broadbright- what? who is this guy even?

Animal Alphabet: T is for Temminck's Tragopan

Okay, here's this week's entry in the Animal Alphabet.

If you've received a postcard from China recently, you might have been wondering about the creature on this odd stamp.

That's a tragopan, with its lappet extended. (The lappet is a sort of bib-shaped wattle that the male tragopan can unfurl for territorial or mating displays. Those odd horns are made of the same tumescent stuff.) There are five species of tragopan, but only one alliterates (and therefore suits this post to a T):

T is for Temminck's Tragopan.

Let me invite you to watch another ARKive video of the Temminck's tragopan's mating display. Like last week's creature, the tragopan can make some pretty astounding transformations of its shape.

I had a hard time figuring out what position to draw this guy in. Originally I had thought to draw it in three stages of behavior, sort of like the Pokemon-style self-portraits I've admired in the past.

But time was a bit too pressing for that plan, since I'm still writing syllabi for classes that start at the end of the month.

If you are a recent parent, I do not recommend watching this video of the "crying baby" call that this tragopan apparently makes. Or, maybe, I dare you to do it.

Next week: Have I really not drawn a primate yet?

What's Happening?

A lot! Particularly since it has been well over a month since I last posted (yikes!)

We are excited to share that at last Tuesday's ultrasound (at a little over 17 weeks), that our baby not only looks healthy, but that we will be welcoming another little BOY in December. We are excited for Isaac and Eliana to have a little brother, and for some trucks and trains to invade our house :) And since one of you readers was the one who put us on to the name Eliana, which we obviously fell in love with and chose for our daughter, I would love to hear some of your not-too-common but not-too-random boy names! Feel free to leave a comment below if you have a suggestion. Bonus points if it has a really great meaning :)

Did I also mention that I know a bazillion other gals who are pregnant and are due within a month or two of me? Well, not a bazillion, but several... four of whom are close friends or family. I just think it is really fun to be pregnant with friends!

Eliana just turned 17 months and is just absolutely amazing. She is a ball of serious energy, loves to laugh, has a great sense of humor, and a pretty strong will. We traveled to the beach twice this summer, and she had a blast playing in the sand, running into the ocean and splashing in the surf. Ellie apparently has a great affection for sand crabs (her mother does not!) but doesn't quite understand that you aren't supposed to squeeze them. Since we have been back from the beach, she talks about "ocean," "sand," "toes," and "shovel" constantly. She loves to sing songs (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Do You Know the Muffin Man are two of her favorites), and she is even learning to count! Ellie still loves her books... her lift-the-flap Bible and Oh Baby, Go Baby! are two that she loves. She talks up a storm, and I love that she is becoming more conceptual than just literal. Like right now... Paula Dean is on the Food Network, and she points to the screen and says "COOKING!" She is learning so much right now, and it is just amazing to watch.

The 3rd Annual Isaac Timothy Delisle Memorial Golf Tournament is THIS Friday! The details have been coming together, and we are excited to see what God is going to do through this event. We are grateful to be able to highlight and financially support Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, an organization that is extremely special to Spencer and me. We would appreciate your prayers this week as we work through a pretty extensive to-do list, that the details would come together, for good weather, and most of all that God would be glorified through this event.

I've started a (very) part-time job working from home. This job is not only an absolute blessing (I mean, who doesn't like being able to work in their pj's while sitting on their comfy couch??), but has been a really fun challenge. It has caused me to develop and utilize skills that are in some ways so much different from being a teacher, and I am really enjoying that change. The flexibility of my schedule is definitely an added bonus as well!

So that's the latest on us in a nutshell! It's been a busy month, including a trip to the beach, my laptop crashing, and all kinds of things, but we are grateful for some really exciting things coming up through the rest of 2011!

Shima the movie, First day

Starting a new project for NOVA.
A feature with the Brazilian artist SHIMA.

Musical Camping Trip [CONTAINS NUDITY]

Previously, on Isaac Marion:

Isaac was living in Bellingham with his girlfriend. They were about to move back to Seattle together. Then they broke up. Isaac moved back into his RV and headed back to Seattle. Will he be able to remember the plot of his old life and resume it? What do single people do between 4:00 pm and 9:00 pm? When is it safe to start listening to music again instead of NPR and standup comedy? What are society's current hygiene expectations?


I just went on a fun trip and I want to tell you about it.

My longtime friend, former room-mate, and former/future bandmate Jared McSharry proposed a musical camping trip. This doesn't mean we go camping and randomly burst into vibrato-heavy songs about camping. It means we bring instruments out into the wilderness and try to play and write songs while under the influence of nature and freedom and stuff. We get in my RV, Baleen the Big Blue Whale, and take off for Winthrop, WA.

Along the way, Jared reveals a terrible secret. He hasn't actually broken up with his girlfriend. They are trying to work things out.
Work things out? What the hell, man? You're supposed to be sad and lonely with me!

Sometimes my friends are so selfish.

I forgive Jared his lack of unhappiness and we arrive in Winthrop. Winthrop is a simulation of an Old West town. It looks like this:

Usually I find theme towns depressing. I feel like I'm in a movie set, all the residents are actors, and if I slam a door too hard a matte-painting sky is going to fall on my head revealing buzzing fluorescent lights and a table full of stale turkey pesto wraps. But Winthrop surprises me a little. We have breakfast at an "inn" and their biscuits and gravy contain real biscuits and real gravy. They have a coffee shop that serves the kind of coffee that comes in tiny cups. They have a brewery.

We go to the brewery. They have an awe-inspiring selection of beers, probably over 20 to choose from.   Except they are "out of" all of them except three. When I ask the waiter why they aren't serving 80% of their beers, he explains, as if it's obvious, "Because we're brewing those ones." He then starts to walk away, pauses to chew his bubblegum, then keeps walking.

Tangental note:
Every floor in Winthrop is made of ancient, hand-hewn planks to give the place that "boots and spurs clattering" atmosphere. The downside of this is that every table in Winthrop is wobbly, and every beer is spilled.

The next morning we activate our primary mission: to play music in a wild place far from any electrical outlets or facebooking facilities.

Picture the following:

Two guys in shorts and t-shirts are hiking along a riverbank. They find a patch of sunny sand and lay out a beach blanket. They stick some beers in the icy river. One guy pulls out an acoustic guitar and starts idly strumming.
Now, ruin this pastoral scene by revealing that the second guy is a keyboardist. He pulls out a synthesizer that looks like the master control panel from Apollo 11. He plugs it into a portable power device that looks like a world-destroying neutron bomb that can also jumpstart your car, inflate your floaties, and play your iPod. (It actually does all those things except destroy the world. It also has a flashlight.)

The scene now looks like this:

A note about my friend Jared: he likes to mess with people's preconceptions. If someone tells him the sunglasses he found in a ditch are women's sunglasses, by God he's going to wear them, just to provoke conversation. If someone tells him his fuzzy lemon-yellow cardigan makes him look like Big Bird, by God he's going to resemble the FUCK out of Big Bird. And if a few people ask if he and I are a gay couple, by God he's going to strip down to nothing but package-hugging red spandex underwear and Jackie Onassis glasses while we're playing music on the beach on a rainbow striped beach blanket.

Our musical duo created quite a stir amongst all the kayakers and river floaters. I have no doubt our flaming incendiary performance earned us a mention in the next day's Winthrop County Almanac.

That night we go back to the Old Schoolhouse brewery to catch Jared's friend's band, and since Jared has at least one foot dipped ankle-deep in the hippie world, this band is a full-blown jam band. If you're unfamiliar with that genre, jam bands are often staffed with ridiculously skilled musicians, but instead of using their chops to rock you to your knees or drag raw emotion out of your rusty urban heart, they use them to make you smoke weed and dance and feel like everything is just kinda generally a-ok, man.
Also, their sets last literally three hours.

I'm digging this band as much as I'm able to dig such bands, but beer and emotion and beer-emotions are tugging at my soul and the sun is setting over a yonder hill, so I have to run out and summit it. When I summit, I take this picture of the horizon:

This is not an abstract painting. This is Washington.

When the show is over we go back and chat up the band and somehow the group of hippie chicks that had been leading the evening's dance revolution becomes involved in our conversation. Next thing I know we are invited to go night swimming and I'm drunk-driving an RV on deserted country roads behind a Subaru (of course) full of hippies leading us to a lake somewhere out in the dark.

Everyone convenes in a boat-launch parking lot, and this is where things get fascinating. See, this is a moonless night in the middle of vast country with no city lights for miles around, so we're all hanging out in COMPLETE DARKNESS. I have some idea what one of the girls looks like because back in the light she was arguably attractive and I'd been beer-goggling her dance moves, but the rest of the group I met in the dark and never saw any faces. So I'm sitting there in the dusty gravel making conversation with a bunch of silhouette shadow people, and then it's time to swim.

Everyone stands up. The girls strip. I can tell they're naked because their vaguely defined body shapes are solid white from head to toe. Well, they're either naked or wearing light-colored swimsuits. I choose naked. I also get naked. We all walk down the boat launch into water that feels like a bath that's maybe been drawn a little too long but still pretty cozy. We swim out into the middle of the lake, feeling the cool water caressing our inappropriates.

This is a nice experience. Jared opts out and stays on shore, so I'm in a nameless lake in an unknown town treading water in a circle of complete strangers, completely naked, in complete darkness. Above, the sky is so thick with stars I can see the spiral arms of the galaxy. I go into a backfloat and it's like drifting through deep space. I think profound, cosmic thoughts and ponder the mysteries of life and love and the universe, and also the fact that there's nothing but a few feet of clear water between my penis and five vaginas.

Sometimes hippies are okay.


Back on land, Possibly Attractive Silhouette #1 suggests we all sneak into a nearby lodge and get in a hot tub together. Wah-wah guitar and saxophone fills the night air, raising my spirits and also other parts. Jared and I get in the RV and start it up, but by the time the engine warms up enough to drive, we're alone in the parking lot. We have no idea where this lodge is or how to catch up with our new friends. We drive back to Winthrop and go to sleep and then go home in the morning and Jared goes back to work and I take my RV to a repair shop to fix the broken propane alarm before I burn to death in a gas fire.


woah august!

spidey redesign

If you're a human, which I assume you are, you'll know that spidey in no way whatsoever NEEDS a costume re- design. But this is just how I'd have done it if... I... was... AHEM.

I didn't bother submitting this to the project roof top thing.

Animal Alphabet: S is for Sarcastic Fringehead

Even more than in an ordinary week of this project, I must preface this post by saying that this is a real animal. You can see video here of the critter in question, with David Attenborough narrating, excerpted from the excellent Life BBC series.

I strenuously recommend that you follow the video link, because otherwise and despite my assertion you may not believe that these two characters are the same creature. I don't think I could have imagined the transformation if I hadn't seen it.

Anyway, this week in the Animal Alphabet, S is for Sarcastic Fringehead.

Yes, really.

According to an aquarium website, the "sarcastic" comes from its pugnacious personality (in evidence in the Life video), but I can't help thinking the name also has something to do with that "default facial expression" (see also Charles) created by the fringehead's weirdly hinged jaw. The sarcastic fringehead always seems to be halfway between a glower and a smirk. ("Glauwirk.")

And "fringehead" apparently derives from the little wiggly appendages above its eyes, not from its political beliefs.

Next week, we'll have a colorful and peculiar Asian bird, unless I come up with something crazier.

An insane man VS "Captain America"

My local cinema has an insane man working for them now. I walked in on a whim just looking for a movie to kill a couple hours, and as soon as I was in the door he hollered at me from about thirty feet away.

"WHAT MOVIE ARE YOU GOING TO SEE?" the insane man demanded.

I was confused at first. Was he an employee? He was wearing a Loewes Cineplex Odeon shirt, but he didn't seem to be assigned to the box office or ticket gate or any particular post. This insane man was just wandering freely around the lobby.

"Um, I'm not sure yet," I replied.




"Well, it looks like that started an hour ago..."


"Ok, well that's still...I think I'm just going to see whatever starts playing soon, if that's ok."


I looked around the lobby for help or an explanation. What was happening here? The box office kids ignored the situation.

"I do want to see Cowboys and Aliens," I told the insane man. "But probably not today. And it doesn't start for another hour."


"Good to know, but I wasn't..."


"I've seen it."


"You know what? I think I'm just gonna see Captain America. It looks good, and it starts in five minutes."


"An older movie...? It just came out like a week ago. Surely you aren't saying you think it's an old movie because the story takes place in the 1940s...?"


Then the insane man moved backwards into his ticket gate and silently took my ticket for Captain America, tore off the stub, and directed me to theater #11.

I thought Captain America was pretty good, despite its handicap.

Im still here..and im 3d baby!

Please excuse my long absences...lots of stuff going on at work etc. I have also been learning 3ds MAX..its an amazing program and I am picking it up much faster than I expected. Here is a first look at my first 3d project...I am hoping to get those made into actual toys so I can make a little city on my desk. On another note, i just booked my trip to CTN...some coworkers from ZYNGA and I will be going down there and do some studio visits a long the way. Stay tuned for my updates!


Song_Hero Zero


Recorded at Ministério da Educação e Saúde, Rio de Janeiro, on a lunch break, during NOVA Rio.
recorded with the 550D
and a couple of Nikon Distagon, 21mm and 50mm

Animal Alphabet: R is for Rhea

When I told Mike that this week's entry in the Animal Alphabet was going to be a creature connected to Darwin, Mike said, "So R is for remora!" And I invite you to linger for a moment on the mental image of a sharksucker stuck to our hero Charles.

But no, that's not what I had in mind.

In fact, R is for rhea. Specifically, it's for the lesser rhea, which used to go by the name Rhea darwinii and still is sometimes known as Darwin's rhea.

I'm willing to give a prize to the first person who identifies the source of that background.

You might already know why this ratite is linked to Darwin. During the Beagle voyage, while collecting specimens in Patagonia, Darwin was searching for a rumored smaller species of rhea. After a good deal of bootless hunting, as he tucked in to a meal, he recognized that the bird he was eating was, in fact, the undescribed species he'd been searching for. In other words, he discovered a new species on his plate.

Next week: a crazy fish with a crazy name.