Angelus Novus

The Angel of History

Angelus Novus

Thinking of Walter Binyamin and the Angel of History

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

– Walter Binyamin





Drawn in Corel Painter 12 on my Wacom Tablet





A whale drawn in Photoshop CS6 with fan brush.

Portrait of a Girl

Portrait of a Girl

Portrait of a Girl

Portrait of a Girl

Drawn in Photoshop CS6 using pastel style brushes.

A Worried Headshot

A Worried Headshot

A Worried Headshot

A Worried Headshot

I’m branching out a little bit on drawing with brushes in Photoshop. In this case I decided to redo an odd headshot I had done a few years ago.  The results simulate a physical drawing than anything I’ve done yet. It’s still uncanny to me that this is 100% digital.

Oh, Science! in the Ruins

Oh Science Painting

Here’s a Photoshop painting of the photo my improv troupe, Oh, Science!, used for our last poster.

Oh, Science! in the Ruins

Oh, Science! in the Ruins

The strokes are all mine but you can thank the cloning brush for the colors.

Drawing Milo

Milo the Cat

Drawing Milo

Drawing Milo

I just finished working through a photoshop tutorial on painting and drawing with brushes. I am having a ton of fun drawing Milo, our cat. It’s so wonderful to rediscover the joy of creating art as if for the first time.

Drawing Milo

Model Milo

Magician, Clown, Assistant, and Mime

Magician vs Clown Website

Magician, Clown, Assistant, and Mime

The cast of the most recent Feb 9th show: Magician, Clown, Assistant, and Mime

It’s the new year and we’ve already been having a handful of awesome Magician vs Clown shows and we have new brand new two longer shows already mapped out. One thing we have lacked, however, is a nice website that someone could visit and get a sense of what the act is about. To remedy this I finally got around to throwing up a simple WordPress site at

Magician vs Clown Website

Magician vs Clown Website

WordPress is simply ridiculously easy and it took just a couple of hours to get it just the site looking just the way I wanted with just a little extra to work through a tutorial on using Illustrator’s mesh tool. The site’s header also features the new, entirely vectorized MVC logo, another Illustrator victory (I’m no longer scared of the pen tool). Photoshop was always my go-to but I’m reaching for Illustrator a lot more these days.

Cartoon Nathan Livni

Cartoon Me

Cartoon Nathan Livni


Part of coming up with an autobiographical comic is that you have to draw yourself. A lot.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Hanging out and drawing for my comic about substituting.

GoldieBlox: Engineering toys for girls

While I really dislike how many childhood activities are gendercoded a single way, it’s probably a good idea to get balance and at least code it male and female both. Go future female engineers!


Daily Creativity



Starting January 1, Jeremy the Artist and I made a pact to draw every day and post it on the Daily Draw Tumblr for one year. Some folks have joined us for part of this year. As Jeremy reminds me when I miss a series, it’s a beast of a project but, if you can’t get better without practice it’s essential to show up and work every day just as you would at any other job you take seriously.

I feel like, in the spirit of the Artists Way, writers have been onto this for some time and a lot of people journal every day. I know I have. It’s tiring to fill journals only to store them in the upper reaches of my closet, taking them out only when I move to another apartment.



So I’ve tried a few different programs for typing my words into the computer. I’ve settled on FocusWriter, an excellent fullscreen writing app, but I wanted all my posts in the same location and also available on any computer. Then I remembered this excellent website Annette had recommended to me called 750 Words.

750 Words Screenshot

750 WORDS in classic green on black

750 Words is a free web app that does everything I need a daily journal to do including providing a customizable, full screen distraction-free interface. It tracks your days and you can access your stats of how often you wrote. You can also see what other users made their goal for the day and month. If you ever get sick of th site, you can easily export your posts. One of these months I’m going to do the challenge where if you write 750 words every day for the month your name is put on the Wall of Amazingness. It’s not without risk because if you miss a day during the month you go on the Wall of Shame until you successfully complete a month of writing every day. I love the idea of taking a person’s goals seriously and adding consequences, however trivial they may be.

Writing a comic


I’ve started writing a comic book. It’s going to be about 20 pages long and its about my ill-fated first day as a substitute teacher. Often with creative projects coming up with a useable workflow can be a substantial part of the battle. Currently I’m using Scrivener to outline and the ipad app Noteshelf to do the page thumbnails and rough outlines. Noteshelf is great because I can have a customizable background page template. I’m not sure what program I’ll use to draw the final artwork.

What’s your workflow? I’m very open to suggestions!

Camping at Palmetto State Park


Had a great time camping this weekend with Jericho. Nature is so healing.

Sorting stuff with my mom


This is what we do before we give away childhood toys.

iPad art

I got an iPad from work and I used it to make some drawings on the plane.


One line at the time drawing

Story Spine: Birthday Story!

I spent my very relaxed birthday doing art with Annette.  We started with Rich Talarico’s one-person-at-a-time drawing and then made a story spine.

My First Steak

And I never looked back…

My First Steak

And I never looked back...

Drawing I helped create in the improv workshop

Improvised Art Game

A year ago I had the opportunity to take an improv workshop from Rich Talarico, an amazing improviser from Chicago. One activity we did has really stuck with me and during my artistic plane flight back to Austin, my row-mates and I played with it. The idea is that you take turns make a small, one line contribution to a piece of paper (without discussing or planning). When someone feels it’s done, instead of drawing they say “Done” and the art is finished.

Because it almost forces you to give up control and just play, it’s a great art activity for when you’re feeling stifled.

Once upon a time there was an airplane.

Story Spine: The Airplane

After boarding my 6am flight from Sacramento to Austin I was getting ready to immerse myself in my laptop.  However the people sitting in the row with me were so AWESOME that we made a story spine about airplanes.

It blows me away how accessible this form of art is for people. I think I really might have invented something by attaching the story to art.  And meeting such awesome strangers reminded me of how awesome it is to travel, not just to be in a new place but also the act of moving from one place to another.

Once Upon A Time...

Story Spine: Double Rainbow

At the end of my time in Sacramento I met up with Joe, Nic, and Angel.  We made this wonderful story spine about a double rainbow.

Story Spine: The Clever Fox

Like our first story spine we passed the six pages around, each person writing their part of the story and then everyone creating the art.

Story Spine: Blackmarket Ink

Tried playing Story Spine with my high school friends.  I liked the results.

set up

More learning how to program in Python. More information crammed in my brain. It feels good to get prepared for a new project. Lots of things I can learn how to do on my own. Like learning guitar, etc. My brother installed a few Firefox plugins (Firebug and Web Developer) for me so now I can doodle around with CSS and Javascript, playing with pages and making them look nice. I’m looking forward to making a blog and a personal website. I want to figure out how to install wordpress on my old/new site,, which right now has nothing at all.

So things are trundling along. It’s scary to go to a new place, especially after what happened last time. But things are different. I’m not drifting and purposeless. I’m excited about learning new web stuff and learning a new skill that’s transferable and transportable. Once I get good at web stuff again, that’s something I can do wherever so it doesn’t matter if I’m in Austin or Australasia.


Ex Exnat



Friends, Portenos, Expats: Lend me your ears.
I come not to praise exnat, but to bury it.

That’s right, after months of not posting, it’s time to put a fork in this little blog: it’s done.

My first blog, triptrap, was the travel blog I wrote in until I arrived in Buenos Aires and was written from the point of view of a traveler. As obvious as this might seem, it’s worth mentioning because when I ceased to be a traveller, when I began to feel at home, I needed something else.  Here I was in a home. Not my home, rather I was a semipermanent visitor in someone else’s home. With this newfound existential angst I needed a new blog and here exnat was born.

I loved writing this blog and I loved the comments I received and the community I became a part of. I also loved plunging the depths of the expat psyche. It’s been lovely but all good things must come to an end.

But don’t worry, I will still be writing a blog.  The difference is that this will be a blog about a real passion of mine: games. I’m just starting it and it’s called twoifiplay.  While I’ll probably write about expat things every so often, it’s really an opportunity for me to share interesting games with people who might not otherwise come into contact with them.

So for those who update your blog subscriptions, I’ll be seeing you soon.  And for those who don’t, goodbye and it’s been pleasant.


Dungeon Dorks and the expat hierarchy

Monsters in Buenos Aires
So I was checking out this forum on Buenos Aires Expats and came across some guy starting up a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) game.

This was apparently his second post and he wrote:

Hi all,

I’m starting a D&D group (preferably in English) to meet in about a month. If anyone is interested, I’ve set up a website at to discuss it. And if you have questions, as I’m sure some of you will, please feel free to contact me via the Contact Me link on that page.

Thanks for your interest.

D&D is a game where you play out the role of a mythical character like the elves and warriors and stuff. It’s like Lord of the Rings meets choose your own adventure except the possabilities are endless. I used to play this game with my older brothers. I always used to be a halfling thief and most of what I did was get sent upstairs to get them drinks and snacks. I was 10 years old and it was awesome.

I mean, one of the best ways you can get introduced into a place is to go with what you know. If you like to draw, find the local artists. If you like to play polo, join the local polo club. But what if what you know is something fairly unknown in where you are? A better idea would have been to try to find local gamers and access the city that way.

But even more interesting was a comment on the post. This other guy had commented 204 times so he probably sets a lot of the tone over on BA expats. He wrote:

Not sure if you’ll thank me again for my interest but I find your interest in that game rather surprising. There you are in that beautiful country and you want to play D&D.

I saw this text on your page “Also, if anyone has suggestions for a good, safe first meeting location, I’m all ears!”, if you’re looking for a safe place to meet people then I’ll go ahead and suggest Villa Lugano, it’s a beautiful part of town where you’ll feel right at home.

Best of luck

What a jerk! The tone of this comment raises the ambivilence that expats play in eachothers lives. From what I understand, this forum is for expats trying to network with other expats to share experiences, solve problems, and hang out at the monthly dinners. Why then is someone so entrenched in the community so negative? Are there levels or circles of expats and this guy somehow broke the rules? Is this newcomer not “cool” enough to comment on an expat forum? It’s funny how you can travel 10,000 miles and still feel like you’re back in high school.

What little girls are made of


Today I went to an expat blogging meetup that was in a cookie factory called Sugar and Spice. Frank, who owns this gingerbread house of a store, was very generous and hospitable to invite us. And the spread was delectable.

This is a man full of cookies
For me the most interesting thing was that he chose to have his Buenos Aires blogging meet up at 10:30am till 12:30pm on a Thursday. This is highly convenient if I, like most expats, roll out of bed at 11am in time to arrive fashionably late for some milk and cookies for breakfast. As it so happens I have a job and it was fairly inconvenient. Unless I wanted to take a day off work and eat desserts. So personally I was ambivalent but I think that the sheer audacity of the planning speaks to the fluidity of the expat schedule (or lack thereof). It also could have been that the store was small and Frank didn’t want 50 people all crowding in to get free samples. As it was: GOOD JOB FRANK FOR A PERFECT EVENT! He also promised to be hosting a wine and savory cookie event very soon. Please email him with questions as to the particulars. We hope it will be soon. Frank was so kind and gracious that he gave us all little gift bags with delicious brownies, which leads me to the second part of my post.


The six brownies were immaculately wrapped in a beautiful orange cardboard case with a ribbon running all through it. Much of the food experience is presentation and let me tell you, had the King of Argentina himself walked in through the door at that moment I would have felt proud to give him part of one of my brownies. But he didn’t and after work I gave the woman at the art store one of the brownies and, in turn, she gave me lots of little 10% off coupons and a kiss on the cheek. I hopped on my bike and headed to painting class.

Image of Nathan and Diva

My painting teacher has been talking about folks bringing in food since we began the class. Last week someone bit and brought in 3 bottles of “expensive” wine ($4US = expensive). It was lovely and to return the favor I decided to cut up The other 5 into fourths and for my classmates.

Everyone was very appreciative until one girl, not knowing who brought them, said “This is all fine and good but these brownies aren’t really something Argentine.” As if the nationality of the food somehow had some relevance. I said “Hey man, this is cultural exchange.” And the teacher said, “What do you want him to do, make a locro?”

The box it came in was orange and beautiful and the girl liked it. At the end of the class, after she’d taken the last bite of the American cookie, I gave it to her.

Cruel 2 B Kind Game



The infamous pillowfight at the Planetarium last year showed that viral marketing, a healthy sense of fun, and interactive public games are all coming to Buenos Aires. In the States large games like this are not unknown. A great example is Cruel 2 B Kind, a new twist on the classic game of Assasins where you have to “kill” people (usually with squirtguns). The change here is that you register as a group and “fight” other groups by hurling compliments. Alliances can form. Etc. Etc.

Pillows are one thing and registering and showing up is another. I don’t know if Buenos Aires is ready for this but if anyone is interested in helping to organize this game like this, let me know.


dear readers,

this blog is now closed. due to the recent snow, the plea bargain, and my lack of sleep my attorney’s have advised me not to comment. however, to give a little hinty-hint it’s got to do with the NEW BLOG that i’ve got going on. this NEW BLOG is not about travelling and is about being an expat in buenos aires. I highly recommend the NEW BLOG. Please update links where applicable. Etc, et al.

Lots of love,


exnat begins

no sugar tonight in my coffee
no sugar tonight in my tea
no sugar to stand beside me
no sugar to run with me

Welcome to exnat, the blog about MY experiences as an expat in Buenos Aires. In November 2005 I arrived with a 30L backpack and a plan to stay 3 days before heading on to Montevideo. A year and half later I have an apartment full of my furniture and am no closer to Uruguay than I was when I arrived. What makes this city so irresistable? What has turned a one night stand with Buenos Aires into a relationship? Why am I happy to have a 9am-6pm job where I stare at a screen all day? What’s it like to learn Spanish through trial and error? Who is the president of Argentina? These are the mysteries I intend to explore in this here blog.

So buckle up. We’re going for a ride…

Now wait a month for the next post.