Monday, November 28, 2011

These Thirty Years

I turned thirty years old today.

"How does it feel?" That's the question I keep getting.

Actually? Pretty fantastic.

I've never been one to get upset over birthdays. The way I feel is however old you get, it's better than the alternative, right? Like, someday November 28th will roll around, and that autumn I won't be there to greet it. This autumn I am, give me my cake and let's celebrate enough to make up for all the years before 1981 and all the years after (super secret death date) that you won't have me!

My life so far has been really wonderful. I'm happy to be turning thirty. Truth be told, my twenties were ten years I feel good closing the door on. They feel completed, and any regrets I collected along the way I corrected by the conclusion.

When I look back on my early twenties, it's with a cringe. I don't like who I was then, I don't like where I was going. I played it too safe, and ended up in the wrong job and a relationship that was falling to pieces. In playing it safe I never realized how many mistakes I was making. Then, unrelated and out of nowhere, life gave me a big ol' benign tumor. And I was sick for two years. I look back on that time, weirdly enough, more fondly now. I grew then.

Again literally, but in a more serious sense, I grew a lot as a person. As I spent time in and out of hospitals, receiving blood transfusions and riding in ambulances, a lot of the young girl melodrama had to melt away. Suddenly the hysterics that I'd pulled over things as stupid as a fight with a college boyfriend or getting scheduled on a day off at work lost their place in the face of an actual problem. I wish you no harm, but everyone should have at least one real problem early in life. It does wonders for the ego. You come out of the forest a humbled rabbit.

Everyone should have to weather one real scandal too, it lends perspective. You're less likely to reach for a stone when you've been on the other end of the aim.

By my mid twenties, playing it safe had completely blown up in my face. And I recovered by, you guessed it. Playing it safe. I worked a 9-5 as a personal banker, I rented a little apartment by myself, and I was actually pretty content. In the evenings I painted and worked on comics. It was enough.

Then I fell in love, with Ryan (you know, my husband). We'd been friends for years, but it took one date for it to click that he was the one. Five days after that first date, Ryan asked me to move 3000 miles to live with him in Washington.

What insanity, right? What if it hadn't worked out? It was absolutely crazy, but I said yes without hesitation. I can't explain it. Sometimes all the pieces just fall into place. Sometimes you just know someone is 'the one'. I had played it safe for years, and here was my chance to take a huge risk.

And so my late twenties saw me packing up my apartment, my cat, and my life and moving out west with a friend turned true love. I quit the bank, said good bye to health benefits and retirement plans. Once in the west, encouraged by Ryan who would remind me my degree wasn't in banking each time I thought of applying to a job in finance, I began to paint full time. In a few months I began selling prints of my work.

Falling for my husband made all the difference in my life, and I feel like that's the person who is meant to be your partner. If we're lucky at some point in our lives we meet someone who sees us through the facades, through the sum of our failures and struggles, and pushes us to be the person we would have been before all the stuff that got in the way. We can be ourselves one hundred percent with them, the way we were when we were children, before we were told how to act, before we were told what would hurt us. And that's the person you should marry.

I wish I had moved out of state earlier in my life. It's hard to fall back on negativity and excuses once you realize we really do have complete control over where we are and what we're doing. Sickness and death remain uncertain, but that just goes back to loving every birthday. Pray for good health, and go choose your own adventure.

Now on my first day of my thirties, I just mailed five--FIVE--Etsy packages to customers from all over the country. New York, Michigan, Oregon, and two to California. I live on the west coast, I've still got my cat from RI and now we have a cat from Washington too. I have health benefits again. I spent Saturday night singing karaoke with west coast friends, and today on the phone with east coast friends. I'm going to dinner with my wonderful husband, who I love to pieces. It doesn't get better than this.

And if it does, I bet it will be called "Forty".

So, I'm feeling on top of the world today. I've been listening to this song the past few weeks, and I'll share it here, because it feels right for the occasion!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Teenage Mutant Ninja Raccoons: A Study

Recently I was asked to do an illustration for some of my friends who run the Seattle Foot Clan stream. It's a stream showcasing matches in the Seattle fighting game scene. They needed an image to show for breaks and such, and asked if I'd be willing to paint the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as raccoons.


It always tickles me when people ask for illustrations that actually follow my style. So many times people say, "I love your work! Would you paint a portrait of my kids sitting in our living room?" And I'm like, "Nope, that sounds like torture. Would you like me to paint your kids as mermaids under the ocean or something else fun instead?"

So when I heard the words 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' and 'Raccoons' I was immediately on board.

For some time I have wanted to share the steps that go into a typical illustration more in depth. For this painting I took a series of photographs as I worked, and I'll try to do some more of these studies. I began with this project because I really just wanted to write the words, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Raccoons: A Study."

Here we go!

We begin with a sketch. In the future I'll include the sketch as well, but I only thought of the camera after these little bad boys had already been inked. I often line the edges of the page in masking tape before I draw, to create an edge and frame the composition.

Masking tape is my homeboy.

I typically ink my illustrations with a .005 Micron pen. To me, there's nothing better. It's super thin, easily controlled, archival, and most importantly: waterproof.

The little raccoon in the front is saying
"Micron...because I'm worth it."

Now that the inking is done, we're ready to lay down a thin background wash. At this point, I know that I want the background to be blue, light in the center, and darker as we fan to the edges. So I soak a larger brush in water and get it nice and full of prussian blue. I start with the edges, since I want those darker, and as I work to the middle I rinse the brush lightly a few times.

The start of the background wash.

Right now the edge of the darker blue area is sharp. I want to soften that, so I add more water to the brush.

This little raccoon says
"That'll never do!"

I work with the brush carefully, because the paint is still wet and this is the best time for watercolors. You can always go back and mute something dried with water, but the best effects are going to come when the paint is wet and the page is wet, and the pigment is drifting over the paper in splashy swirls.

"That's better...."

Here is the most daunting obstacle for many folks new to watercolors: Let the paint and the water do their stuff. Have an idea of what you want a painting to look like, and then play with the wetness, pigment, and drying time until it looks even better than you had hoped for. Watercolor is best when you don't try to rigidly control the results. Actually, life is kinda like that too.

True story, taking a picture with one hand
and painting with the other is harder than you would think.

Everyone works differently with paints, and my method is to build up light layers. Now that I have the first background wash in place, it's time to work a second wash over it. I want it strong enough to deepen the colors, but light enough not to lose the details I worked to pull through the last wash.

More blue, please.

For the look I want that blue is only going to work if I pull some of it back up, and leave the rest to pool and dry. So I have to quickly blot at it before it dries.

That's better.

Now, you can buy all sorts of fancy art products specifically designed for dabbing away moisture, but I found early that the little pockets and designs on ordinary paper towels create kind of a cool 'underwater' reflection. Plus, hey...79 cents a roll.

The more technical artists are going to hate this.

As I've worked I have been careful not to paint the raccoons blue. However, as I know I will be painting this raccoon's mask a dark shade of purple, I sacrifice the edges so  the background can look even.

Be careful, but don't drive yourself insane Van Gogh.

 Now I begin to paint the places I want the eye to travel to first.


I set down the first "fur" wash. I shade the raccoons as I go during this phase, building up tails and bellies.

Getting fuzzy....

There are typically 2-3 "fur" washes on any fuzzy critter. I just set down the color, now I'm setting the "fluff" of the fur washes. Mainly I want color/shading, fluff, and more detailed bristles. All of these layers together should add some softness and pudge to these guys.

Feelin' fluffy....

Now I do a 'color' wash, to lay out all the other colors. I'm not detailing them entirely yet, but I am leaving some spots lighter or darker as a guide for the next wash (and to save myself some work).

Hello, color!

Some more details....

Adding some shadows to their masks.

Here's a photograph once the tape has been removed....

Feelin' fuzzy, looking fresh.

And an actual scan of the work because our camera is the devil and it hates me.

Feelin' fuzzy, looking scanned!

And there you have it. Teenage Mutant Ninja Raccoons, and how they came to be!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Whopper Solution

Months ago, I posted about the fact that I've never had a Big Mac, a Whopper, or a beer.

While I'm content to never have a beer, I promised myself before I turned 30 I was going to try a Big Mac and a Whopper. And since June I have been giving it my best shot.

I turn 30 on Monday and with two days to go, I've come to a decision that may surprise some. And that decision can be explained simply:


Or it can be explained more fully.

1. Every time I've gone to McDonald's or Burger King since June, I've thought about it. I've tested myself. "Is this the day? Is this the meal?" And every time, a chorus of little burgers sang Muppet-food-puppet-style "Nobody But Me" by Human Beinz. And we all danced, I high fived them, and then I ate them. I love the little, simple (okay, kids meal) hamburgers in the fast food world. Each time I did not want to skip them for their monster counterparts. Complete with onions and fangs.

2. Whenever I told someone "I've never had a Big Mac or a Whopper" they responded with, "Wow, really? Eh, actually, you're not missing much." So I began to examine the reasons why I wanted to try a Big Mac and a Whopper, and really it came down to 'everyone else does it', and that's never a good reason to try anything. I was about to take a special, quirky fact about myself and burn it over something that was beginning to not even sound worth it. How would I ever shine during ice breaker introductions again?

During every "two truths and a lie" I write, "I've never had a beer. I've never had a Big Mac. I've never seen Star Wars." Nothing breaks the ice quite like showing an entire room of strangers what a weird nerd you are.

3. And all whimsy, philosophy, and arguments for staying a unique snowflake aside, this is the real reason: I hate creamy sauces. They are way totally icky. I can handle a dab of ketchup, a swipe of mustard, and that's about it. I cannot stand mayo, I dislike thousand island dressing. I'll have thousand island on a reuben, but that's it. Mayo, forget it. It's the worst. The texture, the smell, the taste, everything about mayo grosses me out.

Even in my post back in June I wrote, "I don't know, it looks like they have so much sauce." Ultimately, I think its what held me back. Sure, I could order it without the sauce, but why bother at that point? Might as well hold the cheese too and just make it a tiny hamburger. I could be a grown up and eat it with the sauce, however, as a grown up haven't I earned the right to eat whatever I want however I want? Am I really going to stop eating ice cream for dinner now?

The Whopper stars never aligned. I never woke up and thought, "Today's the day!" I never drove through a McDonalds and thought, "This is it!" That magic moment never came, and who am I to force it? We shouldn't change things about ourselves just because a milestone approaches. Maybe that's the lesson. Sure, when I have kids it'll be a little awkward to explain why we're both getting Happy Meals, but I'd rather say, "Because when you're a grown up you can choose your own adventure," instead of, "When you're a grown up you can never have a Happy Meal again."

"Also you'll have to write in cursive. JK! No one writes in cursive, it's a dead language."

Not that I get a Happy Meal now, because I like to have a large fries. Fries are delicious. However, when I have kids I probably will get Happy Meals, because of two words: Extra Toys.

I still might have a Big Mac or a Whopper some day, if the fancy strikes me. When the day is right.

(But probably not).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving II!

I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving! This year I was thankful for my wonderful husband, our loving families, and our fantastic friends.

Ryan and I enjoyed a great 'first married Thanksgiving'. Last year was our first Thanksgiving, but we were only living in sin back then which puts a damper on every holiday as you field questions from elderly loved ones along the lines of "So, you're going to Hell?"

I woke up at 6 am and enjoyed the tradition of watching the Macy's Day parade with my sister through the magic of online live streaming and text messages. Some people may think it's crazy to get up so early for a parade, but then I tell them about the Thanksgiving I walked four miles from Soho, NY NY to 42nd Street at 8am by myself and managed to sneak into the area where the balloons are held and they quickly realize just what the Macy's Day parade means to me. (And inch away a little). In my defense, when else can you look up and see a giant Garfield in the sky?

And I think to myself "What a wonderful world...".

Gracie and I exchanged a flurry of texts regarding the bands, the floats, the Power Rangers, and promises that one day we will walk in the parade dressed as cupcakes. And then came that magical moment when the crowd went wild and we both knew....

Santa Claus was coming to town.

It doesn't get more baller than this.

Did you know that the Santa at the end of the Macy's Day parade is the real Santa Claus? True story.

The parade ended and finally it was time to make the meal! I really enjoy cooking and baking, and so putting together a holiday spread is my sick idea of a good time.

Elvis guarding me from his perch as I cook.
Sweet potato casserole has reached CRITICAL MASS!
So many helpings of tasty.

I think this will be the last year I use a certain brand of turkey. I won't name it, but I will say it's the one that rhymes with "Gutterball." Our turkey came out tasty, but I was less than pleased with the quality than I have been in the past. Also, for some reason I put it in our fridge--which is not overly icy, just sufficiently chilly like all fridges should be--last Tuesday and yesterday after 9 days it was still frozen solid in some spots. Hence I have concluded that this turkey was 80% injected liquid (and 20% plastic).

But enough about our fascinating ever-frozen turkey!

Our friends Carlos and Stephen came over for the meal, and we played poker and the most wonderful card game "Mao" after dinner. Mao is a Thanksgiving tradition for my friends and I back east. Every Friday after Thanksgiving we would put on our own feast, first with pooled leftovers and as we got older with our own turkey. We called it Thanksgiving II, and as it evolved Thanksgiving II Revenge of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving II Son of Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving 2.5. Often times in the evening of this celebration we would gather to play Mao, the most confusing card game there is. I actually taught this game to Ryan one 4th of July gathering when he was a teenager and I was in college.

Carlos picked up the game with his usual near-terrifying attention to detail and was soon destroying all in his path who dared to delay the game or ask questions. We spent much of the game play imagining how other friends we have in the North West would approach Mao, and in the end decided we need to teach more people.

Today is the first day in nine years that I won't be celebrating the Thanksgiving II event I mentioned before. It does not mark a new tradition, but rather, a year skipped. Next year I would like to throw one, but this year it was not in the cards. I confess I miss it very much, it was a wonderful day for my east coast pals and I. Many of us grew up together from childhood and it was a day of the year we could have our own family holiday and share what we were thankful for. I'll conclude this post with some photographs of Thanksgiving II past and wishes to everyone that you all have a wonderful evening!

The year Destry and I heated mashed potatoes
with a giant high powered flashlight.
Preston and I fight over the comfy armchair.
Amy and I in the kitchen!
The year Chuck handcuffed Preston to a drawer.
(Mikey is searching for the keys in the background).
Destry and Gracie impatiently awaiting dinner.
Hollis has, hands down, the best photo faces.
"A beard off" in the kitchen.
The gents in the living room.
The year there were many tiny cream puffs.
Thanksgiving II 2009

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Georgia's Guide to Why 'Someone Like You' Is The Worst

Every now and then a song hits the airwaves that we hate, while everyone around us literally sings its praises. I'm certain you can think back and recall at least one song everyone kept turning up even as you searched in vain for a hammer to silence the radio.

For my pal Preston it's 'Rock Lobster' (I know, can you believe it?) Naturally we all request it whenever he isn't paying attention in any establishment where tunes are played. We've played it at bars, clubs, weddings. He hates us for it and as his friends we consider it our duty that he hears it as often as possible.

Karma may be paying me back. Recently I have fallen in hate with a song of my own, and it's like the entire world is sneaking off to request it to drive me crazy. It comes on in the car, at bar trivia, when we're out to eat, everywhere, all the time. Last night it was on THREE RADIO STATIONS AT ONCE as I wailed in the car, futilely spinning the dial. Then it played overhead as the waiter handed me my diet coke and I wished I was the kind of person with the courage and fortitude to jam a straw into my inner ear.

I am of course talking about 'Someone Like You' by Adele.

I know what you're thinking. "Georgia, you f--king monster, that song is like if my soul could speak without fear."

Okay, okay, I'm the only person in America--no in Western Civilization--no, okay, alright, in the WORLD--who hates this song. Trust me, I'm reminded about every twenty minutes as it slinks back into my range of hearing. I get it. It's beautiful. It's haunting. I'm a terrible person who doesn't understand real heartache.

But here's what you don't get, everyone in the world. This song is super creepy and if you were actually faced with someone saying this to you, you would get a restraining order. Come along with me on "Georgia's Guide to Why 'Someone Like You' Is The Worst", won't you? We'll even look past the fact that Adele sounds increasingly unhinged as the song goes on, and just look at some of the lyrics.

The song begins benignly enough:

I heard that you're settled down
That you found a girl and you're married now.

How very lovely for the person in this song! So this must be an old friend who--oh, wait a minute:

I heard that your dreams came true.
Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you.

Oh, here we go. The person in the song has run into an ex. Judging by the subtle guilt trip this line is laying down, we can already tell this is going to be one of those uncomfortable grocery store conversations.

"How are you? So, I heard your dreams came true."
"Oh...yeah, I guess they did. How's your sister? I heard she was sick--"
"She's dead. Let's talk more about your new wife."

Old friend, why are you so shy?
Ain't like you to hold back or hide from the light

This is our first indication that the person in the song has begun to back away from the ex. Why are they so shy, we wonder?

I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited

Whoa, what--

But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it

Take it easy--

I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded

I have pepper spray--

That for me, it isn't over

Oh, I get it. 


Everyone around me has been telling me for months that this song is so sweet. It's such a moving melody filled with good wishes and hope for moving on. However, to me it sounds like it should have been the one and only song on the Fatal Attraction soundtrack. No. Seriously.

There is a big difference between the idealistic fantasy of the songwriter saying these words into a mirror practicing for her big speech to her old flame and the reality of an ex lover showing up out of nowhere to tell you, "No, seriously, I'm over it. I wish you the best. I just came here uninvited, out of the blue, because I heard you got married--WHY SO SHY? DON'T PULL AWAY--"

Never mind, I'll find someone like you

That's a weird thing to say. I don't even have a joke, it's just flat out a weird thing to say.

I wish nothing but the best for you, too

Delightful, the guilt trip has been extended!

Don't forget me, I begged

Begged? Is this happening in public? Because you're making a scene.

 I remember you said

"No, you said it. I remember you said it. I remember because I wrote it down in the journal I keep that's bound with your hair."

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

She says it twice, you know, in case you missed the threat the first time. And here the knife comes down again.

The song goes on trying to convince the person how great it was "only yesterday" when they were together, how nothing compares, it repeats the scary chorus a few times, and asks who would have ever imagined how bittersweet this was going to be. (This murder suicide, I'm assuming).

And there you have it. It's a stalker anthem. And I will bet plenty of creepsters have already embraced it as their favorite Saturday night drive-by-the-ex's-house-song.

Adele is an amazingly talented singer, and she is an incredible song writer. Her first two singles from 21, 'Rolling in the Deep' and 'Rumor Has It', were great. They voiced a strong, sure woman. In the first she's all, "Dude, you missed out" and in the second she's like "Boy, you know you want this." I admit some of my dislike of 'Someone Like You' is the disappointment that struck me when I discovered the rest of the album was typical 'sad girl at a piano' music. I prefer awesome girl at a piano music, like Tori Amos and Kate Bush. Adele still most certainly has potential not to sound like a girl dumped on Valentine's Day, it's just a bad idea to write an album immediately following a break up.

I'll play him 'Someone Like You'
then he'll get it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mustaches and Style

Yesterday shared some of its Mustache Illustration contest's entries, and my illustration was included in the sampling! You can see the post here.

It looks as though a lot of talented and interesting illustrators have entered already. It's wonderful to see the different range of styles!

Style is what has already drawn me (pun unintended Amy, I swear) to illustration. Traditional art is fantastic, don't get me wrong. However while traditional painting often strives to show reality as closely as possible, illustration more reflects the illustrator's own perspective. Colorful splashes of imagination and memory cross the page, detailing the personality and tastes of one sole, unique individual. Everyone's style is different, and a kind of continued portrait of themselves.

Take a caterpillar and two children's illustrators, for instance.

Arthur Rackham has his caterpillar:

And Eric Carle has his:

Both reflect their illustrator and fit their story. And both are beautiful, however different.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is it me, or is Black Friday evil this year?

There's a lot in the news today about large stores opening even before midnight this Thanksgiving for Black Friday. Walmart is opening at 10pm, Toys R Us is opening at 9pm. Many of the stores' workers are upset, as this means they will have to sleep through family celebrations if they want to keep their jobs.

To be Linus for a moment: With all this silliness of stores opening way early for Black Friday, could we maybe reflect upon what the season is all about? Making workers leave their families Thanksgiving for the sole purpose of greed is kinda evil. Like, old time definition of the word, evil. It's like the devil took out his pencil and started erasing all the nice things about Christmas and underlining all the awful things about the holiday instead.

"No, I will NOT share another piece of pie with you,

People being lured away from spending quality time with loved ones for the sole purpose of material gain. This is textbook temptation. If ever there was an example of being tested, this is it.

I myself am Christian, but I don't mean to push religion on anyone. I speak of this in Christian terms because I assume the majority of folks celebrating the Christian holiday can be reached with these words. For my friends of other faiths, or even non faith, the hypocrisy of celebrating a humble man born in a manger who died for our sins by reveling in covetousness and greed must still shine through.

It's gross. It cheapens the holiday. Where's the magic if baby Jesus died so you could get the latest Blu-Ray player half off? Gross! That's not beautiful! That's not awe inspiring! No one is going to write Silent Night about that.


Please don't be a maniac this Thursday. Please don't charge out into the dark and the cold to embrace people shoving, honking, and snapping at each other to collect the most things. If you go along with this insanity it will only get worse.

Spend an evening with loved ones. (Or if it's just you, take a night to relax).

Commercialism has played a heavy role in Christmas for a long time now, but this year it's just DARK. If forcing workers to choose between their families or their jobs, enticing customers to choose between their families and wild materialistic indulgence, while blurring the line between right and wrong isn't fire and brimstone stuff...well, what the heck is?

It's at least a real disappointment. I haven't seen the Christmas special where the greedy, profit obsessed villain who doesn't get the point of Christmas wins yet, have you? Usually the goodness of man makes their heart three times bigger. At least, that's what the best Christmas specials focused on.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


My husband made me toast tonight, and I had to share.

I was expecting just plain ol' bread and nutella and here he comes bringing this plate out from the kitchen. AND it was delicious! We curled up on the couch, tucked into the toast, and enjoyed a stream of "The Office". 

Northwest Majors 3

I've posted previously about the fact that Ryan plays video games competitively, particularly Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter AE. There is an entire scene devoted to this, with heroesvillains*, stars, and champions. It can be very much like following baseball or football once you know the personalities behind the players. There are live streams showing the games and even commentators!

Many of our closest friends here in Washington are fellow competitors, and so I really enjoy the tournaments even though I'm not so great at the games myself. (Although the Northwest Majors 3 Mortal Kombat champion, Duncan Tonningsen, has offered to tutor me on the character Kitana and I'm going to take him up on it). I cheer on friends and players I follow, and delight in the dramatics of finals.

The Seattle gaming community really came together for this. Brent Cleary set it up, and it became a matter of Northwest pride that it go down well, and I feel like it really did. Though there were some hectic moments as everyone shuffled players into their pools, Robert Plummer kept a cool head and organized the chaos like no other with the help of Eric Liggins. Frank Caraan, Kriangkrai Buapetch, Mandel Scott, and many others shined on the stream and explained the matches with equal doses of knowledge and humor. I volunteered to help out getting people registered and selling raffle tickets at the front table and had a great time.

Folks loved our art! We had some print requests in person and emails from the stream. It was wonderful to share our work with the public and see people's reactions in person.

While our pal Duncan won Mortal Kombat, Filipino Champ won Street Fighter AE AND Marvel vs Capcom 3! He was such a nice guy. I know there are videos and threads out there painting him as salty or cocky or whichever, but he was a total sweetheart all weekend. He bought, like, half of our raffle tickets benefiting the Seattle Children's Hospital and he was friendly and funny every time I dealt with him. Some people get portrayed so unfairly.

However two of our Marvel vs. Capcom 3 players, Rat and Rowtron, came so close to beating him, it was painful. There is this one character called Dark Phoenix who until a few days ago was ridiculously unbalanced. He played her, and although he won it became very frustrating for the audience knowing how difficult she is to beat vs the actual skills of Rat and Rowtron. It will be very interesting to see the next big Marvel vs. Capcom event now that she has been modified. 

You get to see my artwork all the time, here is some of my husband's.
Rocket Raccoon
Ryan signing his Rocket Raccoon print the night before the majors.
The artwork displayed in the hall.
Ryan's prints.
Our buddy Matt's prints.
Some of my prints.
Zafo (Ryan) and Bokkin prepare to face each other to move onto the next round.
(When they played the actual video game, Bokkin won).
Rob sifting the crowds into pools.
Frankdadank and Super Joe clowning around.
Gootecks reading over the brackets.
Mike Has Cookies showing off his shirt, while Zafo and Bokkin continue
the stare down.
Mortals preparing for Kombat.
The raffle, you can see me three in from the left.
Myself and Jenna chatting between selling tickets
to win that pile of arcade sticks behind us.
Filipino Champ winning another prize!
Myself jumping into a crowd shot.
Our commentators, and the stream set up. 
A shot of the audience enjoying finals.
I feel like our commentators are on a level of sportsmanship that some of the other regions have not reached, to be honest. And I will explain why: We watch a lot of the California and East coast streams whenever regionals are held, and often times the commentators drive me nuts. Everyone talks about how they want a wider audience, and then what do they do? They speak only to the most technical fans, the players themselves. It's like watching baseball and having only the catcher and the pitcher talk about the game in inside jargon.

Our commentators not only speak to the well versed player, but also to the folks who may not have ever seen Street Fighter before. That's how you build an outside audience: let them in on the fun. You know who can play baseball? A very small number of people. You know who watches baseball? Millions of people who enjoy when the nuances of the game are broken down in terms they can understand by charismatic commentators who are fun to listen to and respectful of the players. I think the other streams would be much more entertaining if they had someone like Frank Caraan commentating rather than the drunk loudmouths they usually put in the chair. (No, seriously, sometimes it's the worst train wreck to endure).

Not to mention some of the country's other commentators are seriously disrespectful and drop the f-bomb-gay-slur all the time, and this is 2011, not a Mississippi back porch in the 1950s. Nothing tunes out potential sponsors and fans like ignorance they can't comfortably share. How are you going to send a video with that junk on it to anyone?

"Hi, I'm emailing you this awesome clip of Ricky Ortiz** winning a match, just ignore the idiots speaking on it who keep freaking out that he likes Lady Gaga...Also this isn't safe for work...Also, I don't think they actually hate gays...But yeah, I don't know what their deal is...Oh, yeah, no they're REALLY loud, don't wear headphones when you watch this...Um, do you still want to see it though?"

I'm just saying, growing a sport, even a virtual one, starts and ends with audience interest.

And I now will primly step off my little soap box and conclude with a video of fun and love from the Northwest Majors 3 that is super fun to share! This past weekend was such a blast, and I look forward to the next big tournament.

*(I'd like to note even though I used Daigo for the villain link, I actually really like him).
**Ricky Ortiz is awesome. He may be my favorite Street Fighter player.