Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are.

Sometimes, you just have to shoot a magic laser at a giant after you hit it with a Ford Aerostar.

This two panel sketch is more about attempting composition in different ways, and also expressing my frustration with the past week or so. Clearly, Cap is dealing with a large, super strong problem with that Asgardian Frost Giant in Panel One, but a look in the rear view mirror shows a bunch of Asgardian Dark Elves, which are a hassle to deal with as well. You handle a Big Problem, and then suddenly you see a crowd of other problems on the way.

It’s a pretty heavy handed metaphor.

The first report card is out of the way, dispatched as easily as a Frost Giant. It was a big problem, but once addressed, pretty simple to deal with, really. Commuting still remains a challenge, hence the Ford Aerostar, and all of the problems clearly related to nonsense in the street. A huge number of assignments came into my main often mailbox, as late work, which is great…although none of it was in time for the report card, and I have a massive stack of grading to do. That’s a new thing, but although a bit inconvenient, also kind of a good thing. I mean, the grades are going to improve, which is what I want.

Not a whole lot to comment on here today. Once again…it is kind of an action tone piece about frustration, and multiplying day to day problems. I’m assuming that Cap charged that Silver Age Strength Magic Laser at Urza’s Power Plant, since that would be totally in line with two Magic decks I played at lunch this week.

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“Let’s Clean Up This Janky Old Power Plant…!”

Cap is hanging out with Urza again! That can’t go well…

The fiasco involving the first report card is over. Ultimately, the problem was that the software to generate student report cards had been massively modified, and no one really informed any teachers. It was a district wide problem, but a few teachers and myself figured it out together early Wednesday evening, so despite a fair amount of data entry needing to happen, everything came together appropriately.

My co-teacher and I also spent Thursday ensuring that every student on our roster could successfully sign in to the computers and the classroom management software. That was less of a chore than I thought it would be, honestly. It effectively renders my classroom paperless once again, removing the less than excellent phenomenon of students randomly walking up to me and attempting to just put late assignments into my hands. That’s ultimately a Bad Plan, because it is all too easy for me to put it down someplace random, and then lose it.

Again…we are done with all that.

Instead, we are launching into a brief unit of a couple of weeks involving actually short literature, of which you would think there would be more. I really attempt to get as much good literature into the schedule of any year, but with standardized testing and other almost random influences and interference, it is sometimes pretty hard to do so. I’m looking forward to delving into some quality work, if only for a little while.

Despite these relatively positive moves, I’m still suffering a bit on motivation. I’m most looking forward to playing Magic at lunch with my now much smaller club, for which I have put together a truly evil new deck. It is a deck archetype based upon the “Urza lands,” more popularly called the “Tron lands.” Modern Tron, or Urzatron, is a usually a control deck that runs off of the three “Urza” lands (Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Power Plant and Urza’s Tower) in order to make large amounts of mana (which pays for your other cards). There are a number of different kinds of such decks in the format; you can use large amounts of mana for any kind of effect in the game.

I don’t usually play a control format though. I usually play Jund (which is hyper efficient and very aggressive) or Burn (which just tries to get rid of opponents fast, with direct damage). Urzatronic Burn is easy enough to put together, even on a budget. With land tutors and mana doublers, it can get out of hand very quickly.

As a result, I am now the proud owner of a red/green (Gruul) Urzatronic Burn Deck. I’ll be trying it out today at lunch, which seems pretty exciting to me. It’s one of the high points of the day, really.

I’m so excited by the topic that yes, we got today’s art, but I also did a mock up of the art as one of the Urza lands, to use as a proxy. Say, for autographs at big Magic events like Pro Tour. Let’s check that out:

Soon to be made into a proxy play set of Urza’s Power Plants! For your health!

As always, Gideon looks pretty concerned. Gideon seems like a pretty serious, pretty on the straight and narrow path kind of pony. Since the ponies reflect my emotional state, I think that Gideon’s almost constant state of concern or confusion says something strong about the level of organization around me, and how much I’m having trouble accepting that low level of competence.

Schools, and school systems, should just do better.

At least I get to try out the Power Plant, Mine, and Tower today with Urza and Gideon. Gotta focus on the good stuff, True Believers!

Career Choices.

She’s even got a hoodie for the whole thing! Cap is very excited about this prospect…

It’s an important thing to note here that really, I am feeling a bit…less than motivated about school right now. Hence Cap’s suggestion of a career change to Gideon…she’s thinking about a change, because I’m thinking about a change. Gideon is much more reasonable, hence his reaction of shock at the suggestion of quitting their jobs to just go fight bears.

The thing is…if I did change my line of work, I don’t have any idea what I would do. Bear fightin’ is just a good a suggestion as any, given the amount of thought that I have put into it. I do know that I won’t continue to teach past the point where I’m not doing a good job on site. The important point is to do the job well, or not do it at all.

Despite feeling a bit down in motivation (mostly because of a lack of communication and organization from administration), I’m not yet in a position where I’m giving less than my best. My students are struggling a bit with understanding the idea of giving one hundred percent, but I think that is more because earlier teachers have let them “skate by” with much less. They are responding well to my encouragement and project based plans, so really, in class things are going pretty well.

It’s all of the other stuff that has me feeling that maybe it is time for some bear fightin’.

In fairness, all day long my students from the Magic: The Gathering Club and I were talking about suplexing bears, because that will be a real card in about two weeks. Thank you again, Mark Rosewater. You might not know anything about landing the @#$%ing skyship Weatherlight, but you did the entire game a solid with Bear Suplex.

So clearly…bear fightin’ is on my mind.

Also…a very close friend recently introduced me to an anime and manga called “Girls Und Panzer,” which is too hard to explain here. One of the characters has a very patched and beaten up teddy bear, and a set of pajamas that are patched and beaten up in the same way. I wanted to draw in a more manga-esque style, and really wanted to draw the hoodie/pajama thing, so we got Panel One. I had to add the holes for Cap’s ears, of course.

Thinking about bear fightin’ improves any day. I strongly advise it, even if Gideon P. Jura (the “P” is for Pony) is troubled by the whole thing. Gideon is a pretty concerned pony, overall.

‘Nuff Said, True Believers.

Ursine Suplex.

Thank you, Mark Rosewater.

Tuesday was not a fantastic day. This sketch is more or less about my feelings as the day went on, drawn in the evening as the day went to its inevitable close.

The best part of my day was in the spoilers for the new Magic: The Gathering set. That spoiler release involved cards that will be in the new release (obviously) due at the end of the month. One of those cards, was simply named “Bear Suplex,” and had art of a warrior of some kind suplexing a bear. Maybe he’s a knight. I’m not sure.

Feel free to Google it.

I want to make clear…drawing a suplex of any kind is @#$%ing hard. There is NOT a whole lot of reference for people suplexing @#$%ing bears, so that makes it even harder.

I was pretty frustrated at the end of Wednesday, so this just sort of made sense to put effort into. I enjoyed drawing it, and it came together as a sketch weirdly quickly. I’m not sure what that implies in terms of overall psychology, that it came together fast, but I’m also not questioning it.

Obviously, when the new set drops, I will be building around Bear Suplex, and Flaxen Intruder. That goes without question of any kind.

An Exercise In Patience.

With a report card approaching, business is as usual.

Monday was a massive grading explosion with the students. I spent some time in class doing a presentation on the developmental paragraphs of expository papers, and then called students up for “grade consults” just prior to report card generation. My co-teacher ran the basics of class, while I went over with students (individually) precisely what their grades were at the moment, and what they needed to do to change them before the report card happened.

Report cards are due from teachers on Friday, so this gave the students some time to make changes, if they wanted to do so. I feel like it is the fair way to go.

During my conference period, I attempted to start entering some of the more “static” grades into the report card system, which is actually a different system than my online grade book. That’s just the district in its infinite wisdom at work, having two systems that do the same thing, which in turn need to speak with one another. My online grade book will calculate grades just fine, and is doing so very accurately. That’s good. However, the “mark reporting system,” which is necessary to actually generate a report card, is down for scheduled updates and servicing until ten PM tonight. Tuesday night.

So, to be clear…the district scheduled updates that would cripple the report card generation DURING the report card grade submission week. If that sounds frustrating, then…you’ve got the gist of it.

In addition, with my students scrambling to get in assignments that they have been a bit lazy about, we have a shortened day today. Making classes shorter, of course. If those meetings were super important, that would be one thing…but there is actually no agenda for these meetings at all. It is time that I could be using to grade papers, or organize my classroom, that will be thrown away on some sort of last minute proceedings.

That’s why Gideon looks so put out.

It always kind of frosts me when adult issues, and policy issues, get in the way of the actual reason that we are there in the first place, student achievement. There’s not a whole lot to be done about it, save trying to just accept the time limitations and operate withing them.

Farewell To Ravnica!

It was long past the time for a color treatment.

I really liked the foreground portion of the big image that I did for the weekend, so I decided to put it into a more contained, circular image, homaging “Spider-Man” No. 300 by Todd McFarlane. Then it became time to color the image, and add in a background refernecing Ravnica, the setting that Magic has been in for the last calendar year, and that my students clearly love.

In all honesty, it is a pretty good fantasy setting.

In a couple of weeks, Magic: The Gathering moves onward to a new setting, and with my smaller club meeting every day, I felt it pretty relevant to somehow mark that transition. For the majority of that time I had been primarily playing Izzet colors (red and blue), moving over to the more familiar Jund (red, green, black) when my friend and I were preparing for Pro Tour. As a result of that, I have Cap wearing Izzet colors here, in a blue jacket and red pants. It seemed the right way to go, and I wanted to use those colors…so there we have it.

There’s not much more to say for this post…it was mostly about the color, and getting everything to look “right.” In a perfect world, I’ll make this into a cloisonne pin, which would be super fun.

This week is going to be a pretty big week, with a report card due by the end of it. If that seems kind of sudden, you are right, True Believers…school has only been in session since August 20th. Nonetheless, a “5 week grade report” is due at the end of the week.

With two hundred and ten students, that is a whole lot of paperwork.

“Let’s Get Out Of Here, Gideon!”

This was a huge chore, but I like it a lot.

It is the weekend, and I wanted to work out some of my own crankiness by drawing something of Epic Scope. Unicron, that super giant transformer guy that is like a combination of the Death Star and Galactus, punching a small planet, or a moon of some kind into pieces seemed like it met that bill, and that’s the background.

I wanted to go “cosmic,” and I’ve been thinking about giant robots a lot lately, okay?

Even though Cap is has Generic Silver Age Alien American Powers, Unicron is basically planet sized, so it makes sense that she would want to bail pretty fast if she hacked him off. When you think it through, angry planet sized things are a chore to deal with. Even with her absurd Silver age levels of Super Strength, her fists are beyond tiny to Unicron. Heck, even if she slams into him at massive super speed, with her invulnerability…she is at best like a bad splinter. It’s just a ratio issue of sizes.

I’m actually considering asking some real physicists about that, because it’s an interesting problem. I mean…it’s possible for her to maybe haul Unicron to a black hole, and shove him into it….or a star for that matter. She has Silver Age Strength, and we have seen her lift mountains, haul around an Immortal Sun….it’s “do-able.” Immortal Suns and mountains don’t fly through space on their own though, and Unicron strikes me as both having competitive strength and flight (he kind of has to) with Cap…making those strategies less viable.

That’s of course, if she tries to make it a fair fight. Cap and Gideon could just go inside the giant planet robot, and vandalize a lot of important stuff. Kind of like the was that Mister Fantastic has the Thing deal with Ego the Living Planet. Reed just whips up a nuclear device, and has Ben haul the thing down to Ego’s brain, where they detonate it, basically lobotomizing the planet sized being through Epic Level Vandalism.

And yes, it’s the first time that it is mentioned in strip, but the new pony’s name is Gideon. It says so on his school ID. “Gideon” is a reference to a Magic: The Gathering” character that was just killed off in “War of the Spark.” Not my favorite planeswalker, by a far cry, but I’ve made some fun decks with his various cards. That Magic character hails from an “Ancient Greece” themed plane, so the Greek helmet design of my more school spirit themed pony strongly suggested that he should be named Gideon.

That also implies that the pony can travel through dimensions, and is indestructible. All of the Gideon cards have the property of “indestructible,” so since I have started drawing the pony in the strip, I’ve been imagining that the pony is indestructible as well. Probably a good attribute to have, since Cap is starting trouble with evil robot planets.

Gideon will definitely find being indestructible a valuable power when they land. I’ve started depicting Cap’s landings as both awkward and destructive, and her flight in the art for today is clearly both. She would need to actually re-enter the atmosphere of the Earth, and then stick the landing. That’s going to be a whole lot of momentum, basically falling at Silver Age Super Speeds for an at minimum Interplanetary distance. A whole lot of momentum.

Comparable to a decent sized meteor hitting the Earth. You definitely want to be indestructible (or Nigh Invulnerable) for that.

This stream of consciousness style nonsense is all I have today, True Believers.

Excelsior!