Bark & Grill: Lydia & Lani

I am not a fan of mermaids. At first blush, that may sound absurd, but hear me out. By the end of this little commentary, you too, my friend, may be wary of the creatures.

The first thing we need to consider is whether mermaids are living creatures on this earth. I believe they are real. Now, before you commit me to the loony bin, understand that I place mermaids in the cephalopod class – octopi, squids, cuttlefish, etc.

Many cephalopods can shape-shift. It’s quite fascinating!

These creatures are relatively new finds. Consider the fact that more than 80% of the oceans are unexplored. I believe there are creatures within that 80% that have yet to be discovered and classified.

The mermaid could be a cephalopod that can mimic the female human form to curious or lustful men closer, then attack and eat them. Animals are all about survival and predators are not merciful. I doubt such creatures would be staging musicals and making merry.

As a little treat, here is one of my Random Monster cards:

Bark & Grill: Wanda

If you’re a guy who is wondering how to get girls to like you, let me give you a thirty-second lesson that may be better than all those pick up chicks books:

Pursue a worthy goal.

That’s it. Simple, right? Yes. Easy? Not quite. In fact, worthy goals are rarely easy, which is why they’re worthy.

Trust me. If you try to do something wonderful that takes a lot of work and a lot of time, girls will notice. You won’t have to use tricks or gimmicks to get a girl to go out with you, you’ll simply exist and pursue your goal and women will be interested.

People are interested in interesting people. People who pursue worthy goals are interesting.

What is a worthy goal? It need not be earth-shattering, but it should be anything that will make an impact on humanity in a positive and profound way. Also, it should be something that will make you a better person by pursuing it. In addition, it MUST align with who you are and what you believe.

One last thing, make sure it’s legal. You don’t want to end up like our friend in the comic.

Bark & Grill: Zombies

If such a thing as a zombie apocalypse were to happen, it would either come super quick or super slow; nothing in between. Why? In between is manageable. Super fast is too fast to build systems to combat it. Super slow is an insidious creep that is unnoticed (or even approved of) until it is too late. I say the latter.

Unnoticed, maybe, Jason,” you say, “but approved of? Come on!”

I would respond with “Yes, and probably both at the same time.”

What is a zombie? Technically, it’s a corpse that has been reanimated through dark forces. Yet, I think it could also be a living creature that is as good as dead. Sure, taking the definition and redefining it is a bit of a cheat, but hear me out.

It really doesn’t matter what a zombie is, but rather what the zombie does. Zombie is as zombie does, so to speak. If some undead guy was walking around just smelling flowers, there would be little fear (disgust and confusion, yes, but no real fear). A zombie is a threat to humans. So, whether the zombie started out dead and is living again or is a living version of a soulless human doesn’t matter. Both are a threat.

Nihilism is on the rise. Nihilism strips life of its meaning and thereby strips the nihilist of a soul. The nihilistic human is merely an organism. Once that mindset is adopted, the being discards the soul and becomes soulless. Soulless humans are as good as dead – they are technically living, but only for the sake of self-gratification.

One last little nugget: zombies prey on brains. Nihilism is rampant in our educational systems, especially in higher education. Wrap your head around that.

Bark & Grill: Esoteric

Few will get this gag. That’s the point.

Is it better to have a humor that is only understood by a small group of people? It’s better, many would say, to appeal to many. Only a few would say to appeal to a few.

I prefer the few.

It’s the whole inch-wide-mile-deep idea. For instance, my favorite musical artist is Ron Sexsmith. His music does not appeal to everyone and that is OK. Maybe Sexsmith would for his music to appeal to the masses, but then it wouldn’t be his music. Same goes for Andrew Bird and Mark Knopfler (although, an argument can be made for the latter with his Dire Straits success which, understandably, made him disband Dire Straits).

Humor, however, is a strange thing when it comes to “niche” markets. It doesn’t have aesthetics as music or illustration. It’s transferred thought. So it’s not so much a “taste” as it is a shared perspective; a preferred shared perspective in a strange language.

What are your outside-of-the-mainstream tastes? What is it that you love so much yet cannot understand why others don’t flock to it?

Bark & Grill: Future Headache

When I was a kid, there were times when I was sentenced to a timeout. I preferred a spanking because, while it was painful, it was short-lived. Timeouts drove me crazy because it was a waste of time.

In any case, my mom would usually give me five minutes to “sit and think about what I had done.” I never thought about what I had done but, instead, would count the seconds until I could get back to doing stuff.

It was during one such timeout when I figured that each second, by nature, has one second in between. One on, one off if you will. (Some of you probably know where I’m going with this because you did the same thing.) I reasoned that, if there are, in essence, two seconds for each second, time could fold in on its own gaps and that two and a half minutes would equal five minutes.

When I got up after two and a half minutes, my mom asked, “What are you doing? Five minutes isn’t up.” I explained to her my logic. She dismissed me, of course, and I went back to the corner for another two and a half minutes.

Time travel is thought to be less about traveling through time but in finding a way to access any of the infinite “now” moments that exist in the eternal now. That’s all theoretical, but fun to think about.

If I was smart as a kid in the corner, I would have used the two proven time travel techniques: 1. sleeping and, 2. distraction. Both create a time warp of sorts where time passes quicker than realized.

Of course, thinking about it all can give one a headache. That’s why we need that future headache medicine.

Bark & Grill: Augmented

One of my favorite books is “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. And while it is more about virtual reality than augmented reality, it’s a good place to start and to end.

We live in the physical world, of course. Yet, we’re slowly making the digital world our habitat. As this progresses, there is a substituting of the physical reality with that of the digital.

I’m sure you have noticed that people tend to have an “Internet” persona along with their physical persona. Sure, there are those whom it is indistinguishable. Yet, there are surely others who present something other than their true (i.e., physical) self; hence the “Instagram vs. Reality” posts.

At what point does the digital persona completely replace the physical one? And, when that happens, will there be any self-conscious instances as in the strip above? As Cline points out in his book, each person can be whatever they want to be online (in his book, “The Oasis”).

With that in mind, augmented reality may be simply a stepping stone to a substitute digital “reality” which, if we’re honest with ourselves, cannot truly be called “reality.” Only reality has the sole privilege of that moniker. Everything else is a distant wannabe.

Bark & Grill: Vampire

What do your dreams say about you?

Is it possible that our dreams are an extension of our consciousness? Of course, no one can truly define consciousness let alone where it comes from.

Think about it: our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. All these cells bind together to form organs and tissue and bones and what not. How many cells does it take to create a consciousness? Does each cell have its own consciousness? Surely it does, for it acts in certain ways.

This begs the question: At what point does the single cell “level up” to the consciousness of the collective? How is it that, as a fully formed human, we cannot tap into the seemingly rudimentary consciousness of the cell, yet we have this greater consciousness of the collection of cells? And do our cells/organs have different consciousnesses but we don’t know because we operate solely on the consciousness of a singular organ (i.e., the brain)? Or is the brain the hub of consciousness for all our organs, cells, etc.? And, if so, is it possible to isolate each consciousness?

Back to dreams.

Our dreams, many times, seem random and odd. Often, we forget them altogether but have a fading remembrance of some sort of experience. We were conscious during that dream yet, at the same time, unconscious. So consciousness is not what we perceive it to be on the surface. It’s much more.

Your dreams are, in essence, your consciousness. Your consciousness, one can argue, is you. Your dreams are you.

Bark & Grill: Rejection

I can’t remember who it was, but someone pointed out to me that motivational speakers point to success stories and preach the “fail you way to success” sermon. Does it work? Yes and no. It worked for the people who had success, not for the people who haven’t or have yet to find success.

On the surface, that sounds like sour grapes. “I’m not a success so I need to find other failures to point to and cry in our cereal!” But it’s not that. It’s a bit deeper.

I had a life coach who told me that there’s a difference between doing things right and doing the right things. That concept is sinking in slowly as I mature and shed my pride.

Artists tend to be idealists. We also tend to want to put our own stamp on the world. The problem is that, in our youth and inexperience, we don’t really know our own stamp and, if we do, it may not resonate with others. We could be doing our art right, but we’re creating the wrong art.

A good example is my comic Perk at Work. I have put so much work into that comic and attempted to do all the right things (e.g., sell at cons, advertise, post often, etc.). Yet, I did not find success. Perhaps I could have if I had persisted, yet I’m skeptical.

Another analogy for success/failure is that old tidbit of advice: “You don’t want to get to the top of your ladder only to find out that it’s on the wrong building.” The vast majority of webcomics are not profitable, especially if one accounts for the time invested at no pay. Is it wise to fail again and again if it’s not the right product?

No.

All that said, rejection and failure is good if we learn, adapt, and adjust. You know what they say about the definition of insanity.

In this particular strip, the rejection is associated to dating/asking a woman out on a date. I believe that asking a girl out over and over again after she’s flat-out rejected you may not be the best course of action. It could be perceived as harassment instead of persistence. There’s a difference between a woman playing hard to get with a guy vs. her not wanting to have anything to do with him.

Good thing this bird took his life coach’s advice. Smart bird.