Archive | November, 2012

Win The Office Autographed Calendar

Here is a clip from the offical Office YouTube Channel.

You can enter to win an autographed Office Desk Calendar in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

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Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

JuliesfridgeWho knows what’s lurking in the back of your refrigerator…spoiled milk, moldy leftovers and…how long has that been there!?

Luckily, November 15 is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Grab a trash bag, hold your breath and start tossin’. Disgusting as it may be, it’ll be worth it the next time you come home with groceries and have a clean space to store them.

Now that your fridge is clean, follow these tips for maintaining a clean and organized fridge.

And remember, cleaning your fridge isn’t a once-a-year chore.  Get cleaning tips and find out  how often to clean different parts of your fridge by clicking here.

 

Source: holidayinsights.com
Photo Source: LaraLove via Wikimedia Commons
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An Interview with The Oatmeal

Here is a clip from our interview with Matt Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal.

You can enter to win an autographed Oatmeal Prize Pack in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

Check out the full interview!

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First Streetcar Goes into Operation

On this day in 1832, the first streetcar went into operation in New York City. John Stephenson, president of the John Stephenson Company, invented and patented the streetcar for the New York and Harlem Railroad, founded by John Mason. The horse-drawn streetcar was named after Mason.

Celebrate by learning about the history of the streetcar! And if you live in a city with a streetcar system or a similar but modern light rail system, hop on for a ride or use that as your sole means of transportation for the day.

 

Sources: Wikipedia, About.com, The History Box

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Awkward Family Photos

Check out this awesome video from Awkward Family Photos creators Mike Bender and Doug Chernack.

You can enter to win the autographed Awkward Family Photos and Pet Photos books in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

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National Indian Pudding Day

November 13 is National Indian Pudding Day!

Indian pudding is a traditional American dessert, but it wasn’t a Native American recipe, as its name implies. Indian pudding was created by early New England settlers. Upon arriving to the New World and discovering that wheat flour was not available, the early settlers used “Indian meal,” or cornmeal, instead, thus creating Indian pudding. Other ingredients include molasses or maple syrup and honey, milk, butter, eggs and spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Apples, raisins or dried berries may also be added.

Although it remains a traditional New England dessert, Indian pudding  isn’t as popular as it used to be because of its long baking time, usually two to three hours…That’s nothing! Give this autumn dish a whirl in celebration of National Indian Pudding Day.

Click here for a recipe!

 

Sources: punchbowl.com, csmonitor.com, wikipedia.org

 

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National Pizza with Everything (Except Anchovies) Day

Supreme pizzaHappy National Pizza with Everything (Except Anchovies) Day!

On November 12 Celebrate all of the different and delicious toppings (besides anchovies) you can put on a pizza by ordering or making your own pizza with every topping available. Yes, we are aware that some toppings are not going to mix well with others, but it could be worse…we could be asking you to celebrate National Pizza with Nothing but Anchovies Day.

Get the basics of topping and baking a pizza by clicking here.

Happy eating!

 

Sources: punchbowl.com, theultimateholidaysite.com
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Interview with Scott Adams

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has been a bank teller, computer programmer, financial analyst, product manager, commercial lender, budget manager, strategist, project manager, and pseudo-engineer. He entertained himself during boring meetings by drawing cartoons of his co-workers and bosses, and eventually Dilbert emerged. Dilbert was launched in about 50 newspapers in 1989, and Adams now works full time speaking, writing, doing interviews and designing artwork for licensed products.

You can enter to win the Dilbert 2.0 Book in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

Is there a Dilbert character that you most identify with?
All of the Dilbert characters are imbued with different combinations of my own character flaws. But the voices nearest my own are some Dilbert and Dogbert.

Do you really have spies in every company in America feeding you the raw material for your scarily true strip?
I do have a lot of spies. But I discovered long ago that most companies have a lot in common. Whatever nonsense is happening in one place is almost certainly happening in others.

You started the strip over 20 years ago when you worked at Pac Bell. Did you base the characters on actual people, and did the people recognize themselves?
Some of the characters are based on real people. Wally is the guy who sat behind me. Alice is an engineer I worked with in a mostly male engineering group. Dilbert’s body is based on a guy I barely knew from my banking years. The models for Wally and Alice know they inspired Dilbert characters. The physical inspiration for Dilbert’s potato-shaped body probably has no idea. I know I never mentioned it to him.

What other current comic strips do you enjoy?
I like Pearls before Swine, F Minus, and Bad Reporter. They’re all edgy, smart, and well-written.

Please describe your workspace.
I work at home, upstairs in my office. I draw on my computer screen, so there are no traces of art supplies. My desk faces a big screen TV that is essential for the hours of mindless drawing I do every week.

What’s with Dilbert’s tie?
It’s a metaphor for his inability to control any part of his environment. Or maybe he’s just happy to have a job. It can go either way.

Alice has a new mod look. Does that mean we will be seeing a softer, gentler side of the “fist of death”?
Yes, I was getting a lot of complaints about the Fist of Death from people who thought it was too violent. You’ll see Alice’s anger, but not so much punching.

Has Bob the Dinosaur gone extinct? We haven’t seen much of him lately.
He shows up at least once a year. I just finished drawing him for an upcoming strip. But I watch the readers’ ratings for each comic on Dilbert.com and Bob doesn’t do so well compared to the human-only strips.

Any new characters we should be looking forward to meeting?
There will always be new characters passing through. But I only keep characters that get a big reaction from readers. That’s not predictable.

How far ahead do you work on the strip?
I’m about two months ahead of publication with my unfinished drawings. But I’m only a few weeks ahead of my internal deadlines for syndication.

Do you bounce story ideas off your wife?
No. I usually don’t know what I’m going to write until half a minute before I start drawing.

Are there many strips that are rejected by your syndicate?
Only a few per year get rejected for being too naughty or dangerous, but I’m hoping to increase that number. Safe isn’t fun.

What do you think you’d be doing if the whole cartoonist thing didn’t pan out?
I like to think that by now I would have created an Internet startup and sold it for a billion dollars. That was my backup plan.

Where did you go on your last vacation?
Hawaii. I like my vacations civilized. I’m not an adventurer. I get flop sweat anytime I lose my 4G signal.

What was the last book you enjoyed?
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life, by Charles Duhigg. It explains almost everything you need to know about irrational human behavior.

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Veterans Day

Veterans Day Poster 1987What is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is a federal holiday to honor and celebrate all those who have served our country in the U.S. Military Services. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, which honors those who have died while in service, Veterans Day honors  all U.S. veterans, particularly living veterans who served in the military, whether in wartime or peacetime.

Check out these Veterans Day Facts at history.com.

When is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is observed on November 11 of each year. Formerly known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the day that the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany was declared, ending World War I.

How do people celebrate Veterans Day?

Federal government offices and some state and local government offices, schools and businesses close for the day. If Veteran’s Day falls on a  Saturday or Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday on the previous Friday or following Monday. Veteran’s Day celebrations include parades, church services and flying the U.S. flag at half-staff. An official wreath-laying ceremony is also held at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

 

Sources: timeanddate.com, history.com, military.com
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Interview with Jim Davis

American cartoonist Jim Davis created the popular comic strip Garfield in 1978. Prior to creating Garfield, Davis worked for a local advertising agency and later was an assistant on Tom Ryan’s comic strip, Tumbleweeds. On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in 41 newspapers. Today, it is the most syndicated Sunday cartoon in the world.

You can enter to win the Garfield Brings Home the Bacon Book autographed by Jim Davis in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

When did you know that you wanted to be a cartoonist?
I don’t remember making a conscious decision. I was always just a cartoonist. I remember growing up and drawing funny pictures, mainly to entertain my mom. But the drawings were so bad I had to label them. I’d draw a cow and then an arrow pointing to it with the label “cow.” For me putting the pictures with words came naturally. When I got old enough that I knew I had to make a living, I was already a cartoonist and I decided to go with it.

What was the inspiration for the Garfield strip back in 1978?
I had worked as an assistant for Tom Ryan on Tumbleweeds – a western strip – and during that time I began to study the comics pages. I noticed a lot of strips about dogs – there was Belvedere, Snoopy, Marmaduke, Fred Bassett – but no cats. I figured if dogs were doing so well, why not a cat. I grew up on a farm with 25 cats so I knew enough about cats that I just thought I’m going to do a cat strip.

 Is the strip autobiographical? Are you Jon or Garfield – or perhaps both?
When I was putting the strip together and creating personalities for the characters, I recognized that what the great cartoonists and comics were doing was a study in contrasts. Put smart with stupid, tall with short, fat with skinny. Garfield had a strong personality and was patterned after my grandfather, James A. Davis who was a strong, opinionated and stubborn man – hence the name Garfield. Jon is patterned after me – I’m rather easygoing, wishy-washy, have chubby cheeks, and am positive about life. Garfield is the pessimist.

Do you ever suffer writer’s block?
I only write when I feel funny. If I don’t feel like any funny ideas are coming to me, I don’t write, so it’s impossible to have writers block. That’s the advantage of doing a comic strip. I get to work far enough ahead that I can wait for the funny days to do my writing.

Who or what has inspired or influenced you the most in your work?
When I was working to create the comic strip I was influenced by the established strips – Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois … Mort Walker was a big hands-big feet cartoonist and he knew how to create personalities. Sparky Schulz with Peanuts taught me the power of gentle sentiments in everyday situational humor. Milton Caniff with Steve Canyon took me places I didn’t even know existed. And Johny Hart (B.C.) was just off the wall – he cracked me up with his humor. All these great comic strip artists influenced me and still do.

Andy Warhol’s favorite comic strip was Nancy. What are some of your favorites, past and present?
As far as all time favorites, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, B.C., for its general goofiness – Mother Goose and Grimm is just silly – it’s great art and Mike Peters is a nut and it’s great fun to read. There are an awful lot of great cartoonists out there – I hesitate to name them all. There’s a ton of great stuff online these days. These new young cartoonists keep me looking over my shoulder.  

What and who makes you laugh these days?
I grew up laughing at The Three Stooges – today it’s America’s Funniest Videos. I swear you can’t improve on real life. These are real people doing really funny things. I try to bring that kind of situational humor to the Garfield strip. And I have to tell you my guilty pleasure is YouTube. There’s so much funny and stupid stuff out there. It’s hilarious. Like the guy who talks to his dog. The guy says, “I went out and got some bacon today” and the dog says “Ruuh.” It’s funny stuff. Sometimes the dumber the humor is, the harder I laugh.

Are you a fan of technology? How has it impacted your work?
I have to admit I’m a technology freak. One reason is that I’m lazy. Technology makes everything so much easier. At Paws, Inc. we have a small staff working with a lot of companies worldwide. We do art and approvals electronically and it makes life so much easier. Last year we even started doing the Garfield strip digitally – this helps with quality, consistency, and it’s easier to deliver and translate. I always look forward to the next new technology coming out. It’s kind of like power steering – everything runs smoother. It also opens up a whole new world. In this case it’s information and influences that feed the writing process. It gives me a better perspective of the world at large and I feel better equipped to entertain people in other countries. Also, technology makes life a little easier and gives me a little more time on the golf course.


Does Garfield use Facebook? Do you? 
Tell us about some of your recent and/or upcoming projects.
We have a lot of exciting things on our plate. We just finished Season 3 of “The Garfield Show” and we’ve been given the green-light to begin production on Season 4. We’re already doing treatments and will begin recording this month. Also, our first comic book with Boom Studios came out recently. Garfield #1 is selling well online and getting great reviews. We’ve focused on the digital world with new apps – two are rated tops at Amazon and iTunes. And we’re taking our publishing program digital as well with releases on Barnes and Nobles Nook and the digitization of the Garfield comic strip compilation books. The licensing program in China is growing too – so it’s an exciting time for Garfield.

Garfield has taken to social networking like a duck to water. Facebook seems to be right on for Garfield because he can toss out a bit of humor every day.  Personally, I don’t use Facebook that much. I did open an account – after about 20 seconds I had already heard from my first date to the junior prom – she lives in Arizona now. I’m afraid I wouldn’t get anything else done if I was on Facebook. But Garfield has almost 5 million fans so it’s working for him.  

What’s your favorite book?  
My favorite book is Jack London’s The Call of The Wild which I read in junior high school. That book was magical and the first time I was taken away by a story. I was up north with this dog. It really got me hooked on reading and after that I tried reading a new book every week.

What advice would you give young cartoonists?
The most important piece of advice I can give to young cartoonists is to read. Believe it or not. Read. The more you read, the more depth you have. Remember, as a cartoonist you’re not just an artist; you’re a writer. As far as drawing goes though, the more you draw, the better you will get. Chuck Jones (Looney Tunes) used to say that every artist had about 100,000 bad drawings in him and the sooner you get those out the better. After the first 100,000 bad drawings, every drawing is going to be good. Also, draw realistically. Your characters will have more natural movement that way. Also, you can’t fool the readers. If you’re having fun doing your strip, the reader will have fun reading it. Try using a bunch of different materials, too. Pencils, crayons, sidewalk chalk – this will give you a wealth of experience.

Most importantly, relax and have fun.

You now have grandchildren. Do any of them show interest in art?
I have four grandchildren and they’re all interested in art. But I think most kids are and then they reach this thing called maturity. Some of us make it through still wanting to do art.

I get together with the kids every Friday afternoon. We have a lot of fun and it’s a great excuse for me to stretch my drawing skills. It’s fun for them, too. Having an art studio to hang out in with drawing paper and markers and crayons is neat for a kid. There’s some potential there, too. Who knows, maybe one of them will take the strip over someday.

What would you be doing now if you weren’t a cartoonist?
If I weren’t a cartoonist, I’d probably be a farmer. I grew up on a farm and loved it, but I had asthma as a kid and for that reason I was forced to do something else. I think if I weren’t a cartoonist or a farmer I’d have to find something to do in the art world – advertising or illustration maybe. I love drawing and to visualize things. I love entertaining and to make people laugh.

Tell us about working on the Garfield Calendars.
Every year here at Paws, Inc. we work on a calendar and it’s always considered a “treat.” We all want to work on it. We do it differently each year – different art styles, different writing styles and themes. We get to stretch Garfield a bit and see a different side of him. We laugh a lot when we’re putting the calendar together and probably spend too much time on it – it takes about 6 months of writing and drawing. But it’s something you put on your wall and have to look at everyday so I want you to look at it and laugh. The calendar is really an extension of the comic strip and it’s one of my favorite things to do all year long. 

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