Alaska Robotics

Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Wordle Clouds

Saturday, October 4th 2008 by Pat

I’ve been playing with the wordle application and wanted to share my excitement, this thing is slick!

The word cloud here was generated using all the text from our posts to this site, the more often a word is used, the bigger it’s printed. Some of the boring, common words get weeded out and then the application allows you to mess around with colors and layout.

The best part is that you can get your wordles in scalable formats which paves the way for large scale printing. I had much more text to draw from in the old Orphan Army database so I dumped that into a bigger field. I didn’t do any filtering on this aside from the defaults… I really like just need to learn some new words.

True Fan Boost 2008

Tuesday, September 9th 2008 by Pat

This post was prompted by Arlo Midgett’s idea of a True Fan Boost. It’s like a “buy local” movement except, instead of buying local, I’m buying things that elevate and encourage the artistic expression I love.

Kim Barlow

If you’ve ever ridden one of those old, slow Alaska State Ferries then you probably know about the magic of the solarium. That’s where I first met Kim Barlow and where she kicked my ass at scrabble, it was a barrage of seven letter words that I’ve never heard before or since. When the game was over her gang of rough and tumble Canadian women broke out the banjos, guitars and squeeze boxes for a practice session. The music poured off the back deck and drifted away in the wake.

Kim’s music is genuine and it mixes well with a few ounces of whiskey. I supported her by buying a copy of “Champ,” her latest album.

Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu is the editor/ringleader of the Flight anthology gang, he draws a web comic called Copper, and his latest project, Amulet, is a series of graphic novels for young adults. He visited Juneau this past spring with his wife Amy to teach a workshop and it was a great opportunity to get to know them. We wandered around in the woods, explored mining ruins and we even built snowman out by the glacier.

Kazu, Snowconeman, Amy, Pat

Kazu’s illustrations and approach have influenced me greatly so I decided I would pick up a print to hang in the office. Hopefully Amy’s new book will find its way to my shelf soon too!

Chris Applehans

I talked to Chris for about two seconds in San Diego, he’s part of the Flight Anthology and there are so many artists involved that it took me a while to figure out which stories were his. He really won me over with his Frank & Frank Comics and big, city destroying Unicorns but I was floored when I found out he was the same artist who created the cover for Flight Volume 2. A meandering journey through his website revealed a remarkable depth or creativity and talent. He’s like Norman Rockwell crossed with Bill Watterson.

I’ll get around to picking out a print I want but for now I’ll be content with one of his Unicorn shirts.

Scott Campbell

I picked up two awesome prints from Scott C.  “Cliff Ogres” is a print about some cliff ogres and “Ultimate Tank 1” is a print that is about the first ultimate tank.

Scott was my roommate down in San Diego and he draws these chunky illustrations I can’t resist.  His comics are weird and he writes in a foreign language that must have branched off American English and looped back around for a second pass through the dark ages.

His Igloo Head and Tree Head comics from the Flight anthology are great too but I mostly like to hear him talk about metal and things that are epic.

Vera Brosgol

Vera Bee has been working as a storyboard artist for Laika and she showed me around the Coraline set earlier this summer. It was a wonderful, winding labyrinth of little articulated people, rat tails, and other mothers. The build rooms felt like they belonged in the North Pole and the gadgeteers were hard at work making incredible little monsters. It looks like it will be an incredible film.

Vera is also a Flight artist and an animator. Her short film “Sno-bo,” was a favorite of the kids in my animation class this summer. I picked up one of her “Braid Hair” prints to encourage more independent work and to contribute to the visit Alaska fund.

Nucleus Gallery

All the goodies I picked up from Kazu, Chris Applehans, Scott Campbell, and Vera Bee were purchased through the Nucleus Gallery. I met Ben and Charles in San Diego and I really admire what they’ve done with their store. They’ve become a beacon for some really amazing talent and inspired a lot of similar galleries to take a chance.

Deering and Down

I’ve been listening to Lahna and the Rev play since Lahna was a pip squeak and her mom, Joan, would come out to all the shows because Lahna wasn’t old enough to play in bars. The pair have put some miles under their shoes since, they’ve been around the states and across the ocean and everywhere between. They put on a solid live show and just love to play.

Lahna and the Rev still drop back into town on occasion to help Joan with the Paradise Cafe and Joan still comes to all the shows. I listened to their first album, “Coupe de Villa,” about a gazillion times and I just realized that I didn’t own a copy of their latest disc so I picked it up and can’t wait to listen to it.

Patrick Smith

I caught Patrick Smith’s animated film “Handshake” at the Bumbershoot One-Reel festival a few years back and thought it was a great comment on relationships and a remarkable feat of weight and dimension in animation. I haven’t seen much more than clips of his other animated work and I thought it was about time to pick up one of his discs.

Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik

Jerry and Mike put together a comic called Penny Arcade. The art is beautiful but my secret joy is to flip through the archives to see how much it’s evolved since the beginning. Mike is a serious student of his craft and I’m sure he will just keep getting better at what he does. It’s inspiring.

Jerry writes. I imagine a smoldering pile of pencil nubs and a thick haze of saw dust must haunt him. To support Penny Arcade I bought their game, “On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One” and I bought it almost exclusively for the story.

In addition to their work on web comics and games, Penny Arcade launched a charity that has raised millions of dollars in games, books, and cash for children’s hospitals.  They also host a huge gaming expo in Seattle.

William Spear

I’ve been a fan of Bill’s work since I was about twelve. Now I occasionally work on his website and call him my neighbor. He also introduced me to the fine sport of Hockey and put in some time coaching me through my first through roller blade misadventures. I purchased a “Write Hard, Die Free” zipper pull from Bill while we were in Seattle and had Arlo pass it along to Jerry Holkins at the Penny Arcade Expo.

Scott McCloud

Scott, Ivy, Winter, and Sky came through Juneau last summer on their 50 state tour for Scott’s book, “Making Comics.” Scott is like the Johnny Appleseed of comics and there are hundreds of great comics sprouting up in the wake of his trip. The family was so much fun to hang out with, we played video games, talked movies, and I got educated on the science of art.

Winter reminded me of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and I think Sky is going to be an excellent director someday.  Ivy was the cheerful glue that seemed to hold everything together.  What a great mom!  To support Scott and his wonderful family I purchased “Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991”

Christian Lander

“Hey. I hear there’s a free book. Thanks.” was about all I said in the brief transaction when I picked up my copy of “Stuff White People Like.” I wasn’t even sure what I was getting and I think it was Christian who signed it and handed it to me but I didn’t care because it was free loot. I really wish I’d stopped to talk to him or at least flipped through a few pages while I was there because it’s about the funniest, saddest, truest, thing I’ve read. I brought it back home and gave it to Lou. It was a big hit in our apartment and I think it’s already been stolen.

I want to say thanks for the free copy of the book and support Christian’s work so I picked up another copy and plunked down the change this time. Also, I’ll need a new copy for the apartment in case Lou’s never returns.

The Kleptones

I’m a big fan of mashup music and as far as I’m concerned the Kleptones are some of the best artists in the field. Their album, “A Night at the Hip-Hopera” is a masterpiece that I’ve listened to hundreds of times over. I’m not exaggerating. I have a great propensity toward finding music I like and then listening to it on repeat for months straight until I need to purge my system with something new and different. The Kleptones have come and gone from my playlist dozens of times and they’ve become trusted favorites.

I wanted to buy an album but there’s a little legal problem with that since they use so many copyrighted samples. It’s tough being a pioneer but decades down the road people will look back at what they’re doing and how it’s altered the structure and culture of the music industry. I sent Eric Kleptone some money as a donation.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a group that defends civil liberties online. They work to protect our online rights and have helped to preserve a vibrant internet culture of open communication and dialog. I renewed my membership and made a donation because I appreciate their work and want to think broadly about my new labor day.


MIRO is an open source video player which I actually don’t use that much but that I would like to use more. They’re working hard to hollow out independent distribution channels on the web and trying to keep the world of internet video from collapsing into one big commercial station. To support MIRO and help advance their work I made a donation.

There are dozens of other people and organizations I wanted to put on this list but I just can’t fit everyone. I hope I remember to do this next year, I think it’s a good idea. Thanks Arlo!

On the Road

Thursday, August 28th 2008 by Pat

We’re in Seattle today trying to prepare for Bumbershoot.  Arlo and Oksana were on our flight last night so I had a chance to see some of his underwater video footage and talk about his idea of a True Fan Boost.

Brad Weber hosted us last night and helped bring me up to speed on my pop culture and video game current events.

I finally got a chance to play Braid which was really clever and gets me excited about the future of indy gaming. It gives me hope that consoles will open themselves up more to home brew games and that review aggregation sites like Metacritic will help those developers succeed.

I’d love to develop a game again some day but I think that’s probably several years down the road. The last game Aaron and I worked on was an Oregon Trail style game based around the 1925 serum run to Nome. It was an educational game intended for middle school students in Alaska and we sent out copies to a bunch of different school districts but I’m not sure if it ever got any play. I think the game was a little stiff and kids usually shy away from anything that looks educational.

The development was haphazard since it was a college project but we actually finished and released it which felt like quite an accomplishment at the time. I think we still have a working version around somewhere, I’ll post it online when we get home in case anyone wants to check it out.

I’ll warn you now, it’s no Mega Man 3.

Comic Con 2008

Tuesday, July 22nd 2008 by Pat

I forgot to mention I’m going to Comic Con. Actually, I just landed and I’m sitting in the San Diego airport.

Kazu Kibuishi invited me to come down and I couldn’t pass it up, so here I am brimming with joy and shaking with sleep deprivation.

It’s already been a good adventure, I met an illustrator from Rudy McBacon on my flight. In fact, I’d just said goodbye to Derek when the airline paged us both to tell us they’d lost our checked luggage.

Bag Guy: “Please describe your luggage sir.”

Me: “Uhmmmmm It’s a Raineer Beer box with sort of a lot of tape around it.”

Bag Guy: “What color is this box sir?”

Me: “Uhmmmmm It’s white and it has a big red R on it.”

Bag Guy: “Thank you sir.”

Me: “Also, there’s some fish in the box.”

Bag Guy: “Next.”

Also, I lost my hat but a really great guy with a giant mustache tracked me down and returned it.

Lunar Eclipse

Tuesday, August 28th 2007 by Pat

A giant orange moon rolled across our roof last night.