Monthly Archives: September 2011

Chalkboard Endings?

I’ve lately lacked the desire to make comics. I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s exhaustion. Perhaps it’s that I’ve gotten wrapped up in Game of Thrones, along with the rest of my friends.

Or perhaps it’s the lack of stories in my life. I don’t get that much social interaction at work. I never thought I’d say this, but I kind of miss all the people at college. Nostalgia tells me things were rather vibrant back then. I like interacting with lots of different people. I liked that I could look at all these different subjects. Despite being a philosophy major, I took classes in many different departments.

Well, let me point out a specific behavior that has changed. I used to pass by acquaintances, and they would ask me how I was. Instead of saying “good,” I would say something quick that was maybe humorous. I felt like enough things happened that I could say something interesting. Currently, I don’t feel like I spend that much time observing the world around me, and so I don’t have as much to report. So, that’s what I mean by a lack of stories.

Lightning strikes less and less. I haven’t felt inspired lately with comic ideas. I write less. My comic ideas don’t amuse me as much.

Then, there’s the stagnation… You see, I hate facebook because the way it quantifies the worth of my comics. I have X number of fans. I have so many likes. Ugh, yet it’s there and I can’t help but judge myself by the numbers. And they’ve been rather dreary. The number of fans has been level for months. The likes and comments have dwindled down. It’s all so uninspiring.

As I stared at the stagnating numbers, I had a realization: I’ve gone as far as I can with the amount of effort I put in. My comic has plateaued. I have the number of fans I deserve. I can’t go farther unless I put more into it.

I certainly don’t want to stay the same. It’s within the realm of possibility, but it is not something I want to do. I don’t want to just tread water. To me, stagnation is a sign of degradation. Things are getting worse. I’m moving backwards.

That leaves me with two choices: Put more effort into it, or kill it.

I’ve done this comic a long time. I started in my last year of high school. That was over 6 years ago, now. Perhaps it’s time to move on. The problem with putting more effort into it is that I don’t have some burning desire to be a cartoonist. It doesn’t pay well, and I’m not great at drawing, haha.

That being said, I must create. If I don’t have a creative outlet, I’ll explode into little tiny bits.

I’ve killed projects before. I used to have a website: I started that in middle school. Then, I started writing less and less. Eventually, I killed it. But right at the end, I started making new comics. I even planned to make a new website. But instead, I stuck with the comics because I liked it. What would replace The Chalkboard Manifesto? Coding? Blogging?

What would the more effort route involve? Perhaps upping comics to 5 times a week. Studying more comics. I’ve occasionally picked up books of newspaper comics from the library, but I haven’t done that in maybe a year. Getting better at drawing. Talking more with the fans. Building up some type of presence. Maybe quitting facebook to focus less on the numbers.

I was going to give myself a deadline of the end of the week to make a decision, but why wait? I already know which way I lean. I think The Chalkboard Manifesto deserves one last hurrah. I’ll set a date for the 5x a week schedule.

I’ve always had this fear of running out of ideas. I thought I’d conquered it, but it’s creeping up again. Like I said, the ideas aren’t as bountiful as they used to be. But I think this time, if I run out of ideas, it’s okay. It means it’s the end. And I’ll move on to something new.

Jamaal Charles is Done *sniffle*

Ugh, Jamaal Charles is done for the season. Not only do I have a massive man-crush, but I picked him #1 in my fantasy football draft this year. I lost by 4 points this week. With a healthy Jamaal Charles, I might win that game and be in second place. Alas, I’m now 0-2 and last place. Oh well, at least I’m 2-0 in my money league, and I have never been 2-0. I’ve always managed to start 1-2.

I wore all black yesterday as mourning clothes. I haven’t cried this much since Chewbacca died in that Star Wars book.

Don’t Get Cute

When I do a fantasy football draft, I have several rules of thumb that I follow. I also have some for playing week-to-week. Most of these rules aren’t mine, and I’ve taken them from all my reading, but I can’t really attribute them to one source. (I generally read the stuff on ESPN and Yahoo.) One rule is this: Don’t get cute.

The general scenario is this: Not-so-good football player with a great matchup. Do you start him? This week, Rex Grossman has a good matchup against the excruciatingly bad Arizona secondary. Would you start him over a much better QB? What if your QB struggled last week? (Like Big Ben or Schaub?) What if your QB has a bad matchup?

Or what if your TE struggled last week? Do you pick up someone who had a good week off the waivers and play him instead? Do you play a player with a much lower ranking if you have a good feeling about him?

In general, I don’t play the good player, even if they struggled. I don’t like to get too cute. I don’t downgrade guys a lot for one bad game or get too high on a guy for one good game. (I started to panic about Schaub last week, but I didn’t pick up another QB in either of my leagues.)

I made an exception this week. I played Fred Davis over Owen Daniels. I only saw one other ranker who put Fred Davis ahead of Owen Daniels. So far, it’s working out okay. It seems crazy, but it wasn’t merely an overreaction to last week. Fred Davis is a really good player, but he didn’t have much opportunity because Chris Cooley was ahead of him on the depth chart. Plus, Owen Daniels, to me, isn’t on the same tier as a lot of the other TEs. I’d give Vernon Davis, Dallas Clark, Jermichael Finley the benefit of the doubt. But Owen Daniels gets a lot of credit for one really good, injury-shortened season. He did start to look good at the end of last year, but he hasn’t proven that much. Granted, Fred Davis hasn’t proved a lot yet either. I knew he had talent, though. So I decided to roll the dice.

Tight Ends

Last year, for fantasy football, the knock on the Patriots TE’s was that you didn’t know which one to start. I have a suspicion that both may be useful every-week starters this year. Seeing the success the Patriots have with this, I wonder if their tight end focused attack be emulated. I know Baltimore has some young talented TEs. Hm.

Other notes:

*Seeing how bad the Arizona secondary is, I think Kolb will be a good fantasy QB. He’ll be in a lot of shootouts. I’m tempted to spend a waiver claim on him. This could change as Patrick Peterson gets more experience; he has a lot of talent.

*I’m worried about Matt Schaub. I have him in two leagues and I think I overdrafted him. I didn’t think the QBs after him had much value, so I grabbed him. All the elite QBs went too early. I think I’ll regret drafting Roddy White instead of Vick in another league. By the time I was ready to draft again, all the elite QBs were gone. Or maybe I should’ve drafted Brady. (I had Schaub beneath Romo and above Big Ben. I wasn’t as excited about Big Ben as some, especially since in one of my leagues, there are negative consequences for taking sacks.) Anyway, the drafts are done, and I’m worried about the future. I think I might pick up some backup QBs as insurance. (I like Fitzpatrick and Kolb.)

*Wow, there were some exciting kick returns. (I saw the 49ers-Seahawks game.) I’m curious is special teams are suffering because of the lockout. The rookies had less time to prepare. One potential strategy is to pick up D/ST with good kick/punt returners and pray for TDs.

*I’m curious about Fred Davis because I know him from his USC days. He had 105 yards receiving last game, and the only real concern is Chris Cooley getting back to 100% and cannibalizing targets. Okay, and Rex Grossman being Rex Grossman.

*Looks like it’s not necessarily a good idea to stream defenses against Rex Grossman. I forgot that he is ridiculously inconsistent, which means he can have good games too.

Complex Books

I used to have a heuristic where if I couldn’t summarize the book in a good way, then the book was probably good. When someone asked me, “What’s The Brothers Karamazov about?” it was hard for me to give a good summary. Even though my memory of the book has faded, it is still one of my favorite books.

I didn’t really understand the mechanism behind the rule, but I think I know now. I’m reading this book on complexity. It explains Seth Lloyd’s proposal of 3 dimensions for measuring complexity: 1) How hard is it to describe? 2) How hard is it to create? and 3) What is its degree of organization? [Note: I’ve lifted these verbatim from Mitchell’s book.]

I can connect this back to my heuristic on books. I think the books that were hard for me to describe were more complex. They didn’t have simple characters and simple plots. As a high school student, I liked more complex books because I was a smart kid who wanted more challenging reading material. Moreover, books that aren’t simple have more to say about the human condition because they mirror real life better.