Way way out there

10 monsters in 10 minuets


Mack Reed tweeted a sketch exercise that he made up for him and his son. Simply draw 10 monsters in 10 minutes. I love drawing monsters, so I had to give this a try.

I spent too much time and Antor (#4) and the Fishbowl-head Phantom (#1) suffered.

I think I will try it again, but with robots this time!


In early 2003, when I was first getting into the “blogging” game, I launched the original iteration of OctopusHat on Blogger (first post.) I honestly don’t recall where Octopushat came from, but now it is somewhat synonymous with my on-line identity (that and Cuppa Jack on many fora scattered across the internet.)  At the time I was struggling with the idea of the Renaissance Man that I had modeled my life after since 4th grade.  I was pretty good at a BUNCH of stuff, but was having a hard time building a life as any one thing. Jules and I were newly wed, and transitioning our life from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.  I felt pretty overwhelmed by life, and decided that writing about all kinds of stuff would be a good outlet. I think my marketing-speak explanation for the name was “OctopusHat” was supposed to reference the idea that as a modern adult I “wore many hats.”  I was trying to be a filmmaker, a student, a writer, and a husband all while building an on-line identity in the wake of my post-undergrad malaise.  I had imagined the image of an octopus with a different vocational hat in each arm, swapping which one he wore as he tackled different tasks.  I never did get that image out of my head visually, but I think that I captured the feeling of it with Octopushat and its eclectic post topics. Plus Octopuses are awesome bits of evolutionary biology and endlessly fascinating and I thought it would be just “catchy” enough.  I guess I was right on that point, as I’m still tweeting as Octopushat.

When I decided to launch this new venture I knew that I would need to distance myself conceptually from yesterday’s Octopushat.  But I was loath to fully abandon the “brand” that I had developed for so many years.  I spent three days trying to brainstorm a business plan and roll-out strategy for a new internet presence when I decided that I would never get past cocktail napkin doodles without some accountability.  Following a mantra that I’ve been trying to use more and more “Act, don’t Plan” I sat down to register a domain name for this new endeavor.  Then I started at that blank box labeled “URL” for  a long time.

I liked Astro.  Astro is synonymous with the future.  But also with the idealized past.  It conjures the image of a multitude of stars and of the human mind and sprit conquering all of earth’s constraints. Progress. Heavenly bodies. The shared experience of gazing skyward and not having any fucking idea what it all means. But Astroctopus was taken.

Now I need a logo.

A word about Baseball

Chavez Ravine

I know that the world doesn’t need another sports-blog.  And I have no intention of this site becoming bogged down with commentary or analysis on the Los Angeles Dodgers.  But I also know better than to arbitrarily mark any subject as verboten in the infancy of this site.  This site is about providing me with a creative outlet first and second, hopefully, providing entertainment for my readers. So bear with me as occasionally I will post about Baseball.  But Baseball is a big part of my life, and it is a fertile field to harvest writing inspiration from.

Plus, Baseball is a fascinating subject and I secretly hope that I can turn someone on to the beauty of the game through my writing.  That said, if the post frequency does start to trend too-heavily into sports-blog territory I want to hear about it.  So please let me know what you want to read about, or what you don’t want to read about, or what posts and articles hit homeruns with you.

An Editorial Note.

While I continue to develop the voice and tone for this project, I wanted to clarify my usage of the editorial we.  While at times I will use the editorial we, I am predicting that the majority of instances of “we,” especially in a post categorized as “JMV,” will be referring to myself and my wife and partner Julie.

I cannot even fathom what path my life would have taken without Jules.  But I do know that the last 12 years that I have spent with her have been more full and wonderful that any years I have had prior.  Each night I go to bed next to her excited for what the next day will bring for us. My greatest goal, on a long list of goals, is to make a living working by her side.  I cannot abide spending so much of our waking lives apart and working to make other people money.

My dream is to spend our working lives together, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to make that work.  I’ve been working away at this problem for a couple of years, and it remains #1 on my list.

Do you work with your spouse/partner/soul mate? What do you do? How did you find a vocation that would highlight both of your skill-sets? Any tips for me?

I <3 Giraffes

Crystal, originally uploaded by OctopusHat.

They are totally bad ass, and they know it.

A New Place to Hang my Octopushat

For months I’ve been scribbling notes and ideas in my notebook, sketching page layouts and banner designs, and generally boring myself with the details for some new Big Idea. Some shiny new silver-bullet to answer all my questions.  Some outlet for all these fragments bouncing around in my head.  140 characters was novel for a while.  An interesting constraint to fuel artistic output; like Jack White and his Guitar-Drums-Vocals sound or Red-White-Black pallet, I took it as a challenge to craft effective bits of writing.  I liked to think of it as idea shrapnel.  But the ideas never stuck the way shrapnel is supposed to, and I’ve been pondering better ways to get the bigger thoughts out there.

I’ve resisted the idea of “blogging” again.  It just seemed too trite.  Too easy to start, then give up on.  Too played out in this 2nd decade of the new millennium.  But writers write, as they say, and I’ve been off the wagon for far too long.  I had acquiesced to the inertia of inaction and was happy to work my 9 to 5 and plink along on the guitar, and tell stories to friends that would listen. And I was even happy about it.  During my first vacation in five years, sitting on a beach and watching the sun languidly sink into the Pacific from the island paradise of Kauai, I thought that I had finally struck a balance of creating and doing and thinking and being. Then my world was obliterated by the sudden death of my mother in November 2010.

A story all its own, the weeks immediately following changed my perceptions of the world and myself.  My life suddenly lost the clarity that I’d attained and more resembled a stream swollen by sudden rains, waters moving fast and silt stirred from the bottom.  I spent a couple of months of fighting these new currents and struggling to keep my head above the water and then my Mother in Law, who was diagnosed with Liver Cancer just a month after the death of my Mother, was overcome by the disease and died.  Once again my reality was violently upset.  The waters swept me out to sea and left me with countless questions.

As I struggle to find perspective, and strength, and direction in these dark waters I feel the creative force within me build.  Energies that I experienced dwindle; from their roar in my adolescence and early adult hood to a faint buzz as I grew complacent on the still waters of my everyday.  I’m cannot wait for the prefect outlet, I need to harness this energy and apply it to whatever is in front of me.  My notes and journals can’t contain the pent-up energies any longer, and I have too many 1/2 formed ideas and too many ambitions to get hung up by the notions of what a “blog” could and should be.  Everything has changed now; the sandcastle I spent my adult life building was swept away.  But there is limitless smooth sand spread out from me now and is the first pail-full of the reconstruction.  This post the first spade of sand for the foundation.

I hope that you will join me as I experiment with this outlet.  As I try to strike a balance between grossly narcissistic and the culturally inane.  As I fight attention span to keep up with a post-count. As I expand, or contract, or diversify, or focus this site.  It is going to be a journey, and I don’t have any maps or even ideas when I’m headed.  But I’m compelled to take the first steps.  I look forward to hearing what you think.