Behind the Hate
By -PING!-

Although only small pieces of THM are direct reflections of Mojo's and my life, I think of the series as a kind of journal because of the memories it brings back every time I watch it. It is fun to look back on THM episodes and remember where I was when I was working on them or where some of the jokes came from. There are some mildly entertaining aspects of the development of The Hate Machine that make me chuckle every time I think of them. Behind the Hate started in 2002 as just an outline of anecdotes that I wanted to write down before I forgot them. As I kept working on it, it became a chronicle of the development of what is increasingly becoming a polished, flowing piece of internet trash. As some of these memoirs were being written, I thought they might actually be interesting to someone other than me.

So in short, if you get bored reading this, stop. You're not missing much.

 
Table of Contents
  1. Conception
  2. Ancient History
  3. The THM Team
  4. Giving Birth
    1. The Title
    2. The Characters
    3. The Process
    4. The Music
    5. The Premise
    6. The Philosophy
  5. Growing Pains
    1. The Infection Spreads
    2. The Big Switch
    3. The Gina Factor
    4. AIRPOWER!
    5. Foley Foolery
  6. The Women of THM
    1. Gina Ryder
    2. Susan Grant
    3. Ali the Hooters Manager
    4. Meghan the Playboy Model
  7. THM Time
  8. Episode Reflections
    1. Episode 1
    2. Episode 2
    3. Episode 3
    4. Episode 4
    5. Episode 5
    6. Episode 6
    7. Episode 7
    8. Episode 8
    9. Episode 9
    10. Episode 10
    11. Episode 11
    12. Episode 12
    13. Episode 13
    14. Episode 14
    15. Episode 15
    16. Episode 16
    17. Episode 17
    18. Episode 18
 
Conception
It was yet another typical day on the second floor, Hangar 6, Randolph Air Force Base, Fat Antonio, Texass. The south Texas spring was adding yet another pair of sweat rings to my light blue short sleeve shirt. Mojo and I were sitting there doing multimedia development stuff on our computer thingies. That was one of the things we did best. The other was shooting the shit over the 4-foot partition that separated my Formica from his Formica.

“The best comics were always censored,” I said, as I waxed sentimental over the days of the crappy paper Dodo (CPD). “The Dodo could have been a hell of a lot funnier.”

As the conversation progressed, a natural realization surfaced. We could put The Dodo online. We could blow away the CPD. We could copyright a humor magazine about the Air Force Academy, call it The Dodo, then sue USAFA for copyright infringement. Okay, maybe that was going a bit too far.

The momentum of eDodo soon escaped us. We had put up a few issues, and the entire cadet wing knew of eDodo. There was no marketing plan to achieve this. One phone call to one CQ desk in one squadron - the cadet grapevine took care of the rest. We had an issue. We had past issues. We had a Rumor Mill. We had hate mail. We even went so far as to put up a game or two. As the end of 1998 neared, we had to come up with one more addition to the site – an animated cartoon.

Ancient History
I had drawn comics and watched cartoons since childhood, and I never grew out of it. I still had folders full of the comics I had drawn as a kid. Vantech, The Spirals, Transformers, Policeman’s Manual, Jive, Turkeyman & Drumstick, and Turd.



Turd

Turd forever changed the way I drew cartoon characters. It was a comic based on one of my friends in high school, and it chronicled the zany events that had happened to him over those 4 years. The characters were all based on real people. I decided I would try a consistent style of drawing throughout the entire comic. Every character had 3 fingers on each hand, big black pupil-less eyes, and a mouth dug into the side of his face. From my senior year on, this style of drawing became second nature to me, and it soon carried over into my Dodo years at USAFA.

I should also mention that since about 9th grade I started drawing on the computer with simple paint programs and a mouse. This was before the widespread use of flatbed scanners and Photoshop, so everything was done by hand dithering graphics pixel by pixel. These kids now with their blur tools and their document layers... BAH!

Many of the things I drew on paper and screen were just begging to be animated. I never had the tools to do it, though. Until, in my 3 degree year, I got my hands on a very simple (by today’s standards) animation package called Disney Animation Studio. At last I was able to make Turkeyman blink, Drumstick yell, and Turd walk. I almost creamed my jeans. I only wanted to do this for real, but the means of development and delivery weren’t readily available until Macromedia released Director and Flash.

The THM Team
Lucky for me, my second and last job in the Air Force had me sitting right next to Mojo. We found ourselves working side by side developing computer-based training for UPT students. Mojo got his hands on a copy of Director and was soon the Director master. He was building games and applications that increasingly became more complex.

We both had experience in writing as well. Mojo had written two manuscripts that are still drawing attention. I, although not as strong a writer, had completed one and a half screenplays, both of which are still gathering dust.

But now the roles were simple. I would draw, Mojo would program and animate, and we would both write. We immediately got underway.

Giving Birth
Before putting the first episode together, Mojo and I had to create the THM "universe."

The Title - We tossed around a few ideas: “The Hate Machine,” “The Hill,” “The Zoo,” “Blue U,” and the list gets gayer as it gets longer. So we put it to a vote on the Rumor Mill. “The Hate Machine” won by a landslide.

It was perfect, too. USAFA brings in the nation’s best and brightest, then systematically transforms them into bitter social retards. THM would capture a cross-section of USAFA in mid-transition from superstar to little blue tool.

The Characters - The characters of THM consisted of two camps: the three main guys and, well, everyone else.

The three main characters, Kurt, Harvey, and Leonard, were based on the (then-) Holy Trinity of eDodo: Mojo, me, and the Geek, respectively. By basing the characters on ourselves, we would be able to identify with them much easier, and writing for them would come naturally. They were to be the "eyes" through which the story is told.

Kurt, like Mojo, would be the cynical one. The one who could pick out the little things in life and blow them out of proportion to the point that someone would think his dog just got ran over. And he uses the F-word a lot. Harvey, like me, would inject a little humor into every situation, whether he means to or not. Harvey, also like me, is constantly on the prowl for his next mate. And of course there's Leonard, based on the Geek -- obviously the brains of the outfit. He's also the least abrasive of the main trio; a pretty nice guy.

Coming up with the look of the characters was also easy, as they are based on our physical appearances. Kurt has Mojo's dark, out-of-regs hair; Harvey has my lighter hair color and height; and Leonard, well, I just remember Mojo standing over my shoulder saying, "Give him curly hair that kind of sticks up on one side so he looks like he has bed head."


The first character sketches... as you can see, some started off dead-on, while others needed work.

Sitting there in my home office, we came up with the look of the three main characters fairly quickly. But now they needed names. So, we looked around the room. I had a Japanese Nirvana poster hanging on the wall... Kurt... Kurt Cobain. Then there were the Reservoir Dogs postcards that my ex-girlfriend had framed for me... Harvey... Harvey Keitel. And a look through the stack of CDs I had on top of my guitar amp revealed... Leonard... Leonard Cohen. We had our three main characters.

Now for everyone else. The rest of THM consists of stereotypical characters based on our experiences at the Zoo. Enter Billy Ray Hewitt, the hard-nosed honor guard protégé; Felix (named after a dumbass on the Rumor Mill), the kiss-ass; Mac (named after Mojo’s ex-roommate), the football star; BJ, the token homo; Veronica, the token hot chick; Samm, the token quasi-dyke; and so on and so forth.

The Process - I always thought the process for the first few episodes was going to take longer than the later ones, but the reverse is true. The characters in the first episode took a little while to draw, but they were pretty easy to do since they were so stereotypical. As episodes went on, there were always new characters being added, and they got a little more complex as the story unfolded. Not to mention, the episodes kept getting longer and longer.

In building the characters for the first episode, I drew sketches of the Ostriches and scanned them in. The sketches consisted of each character from different angles and with different mouths. Once scanned in, I imported them into Photoshop, cleaned them up, and colored them.


A typical character sheet

Meanwhile, Mojo started on the script. It was important to have a script in order to keep track of which characters I should spend more effort on, and what kind of backgrounds and animation I was dealing with.

After putting the finishing touches on the script, we recorded voices. I did most of the voices and still continue to do them. I have always imitated voices from TV and movies. I used to make them up for my pets, too. (In fact, I still do. C4C Handey's voice is my voice for my dog Harvey. Leonard's voice is what my old dog Champ used to sound like, God rest his soul.) I still remember in the 6th grade our teacher was giving out those “most likely to...” awards, and I was awarded “most interesting sound effects.” I guess I haven't matured much since then.

Once the voices were recorded, Mojo put them on a timeline, and we began working on animation. I drew, scanned, and colored, then the end product was emailed to Mojo where he put the pieces on the timeline and synched them up with the sound. Before we knew it, we had a finished episode!


Each moving part of each scene was drawn separately and put into individual layers

The process today is relatively the same. We start with script, then sound, then drawing and animation. Since switching to Flash, however, the drawing and animation is done simultaneously.



DN

The Music - Our original thought for a theme song was to use Sam by The Meat Puppets. The song is really fast paced, and we imagined a quiet, predawn USAFA over silence, then when the music kicks in, the flag goes up, blue suits start running all over the terrazzo, smacks get flamed, dinks fight to stay awake in class, squadrons form up for noon meal formation, intramurals, MWR, studying, etc, etc, then the lights go out and it’s quiet again. This would have taken a long time, and we might have never gotten the first episode done.

The entire theme song of THM was made by one of our old summer interns. (He later became our employee. Imagine what kind of work environment we had...) Digital Negro does a lot of Nine Inch Nails-type stuff and plays in dance clubs all the time. That's his voice in the beginning. He tries to sound and look tough all the time, but really he's a total nerd. I call him Geordi LaForge.

When Digital Negro laid his theme song on us, we instantly fell in love with it. It was short and simple, and really fucking cool. MUTHAFUCKA!

The Premise - One common complaint shared by every class that goes through USAFA is that the place is going soft on the current freshman class. Invariably, that same freshman class will be complaining about their freshmen the next 3 years. So what we decided would make a good premise is to extrapolate the pussification of USAFA out a few decades. So now the US has become so politically correct that we can no longer fend off any attack -- not even one waged by the French Canadians.

Why the French Canadians? Well, 1) they're adjacent to us, and 2) they're French. Mexico would have been just as funny, but I suppose they're too lazy to attack anyone.

In response to the frog threat, Congress formed cadet squadron 42 to test the forgotten system of military training that once made the US a formidable opponent.

The Philosophy - As any grad who has been away from USAFA more than a year knows, it is easy for the humor of some toons on eDodo to be lost on you. We get a lot of people hitting the site, and jokes targeted towards new policies coming out of Harmon Hall make no sense to non-cadets or people who don't check the Rumor Mill on an hourly basis.

We wanted to make sure the Hate Machine would appeal to everyone: old grads, cadets, ROTC pukes, squids, grunts, or just average joe civilians. We wanted to entertain everyone as well as educate non-USAFA folks on some of the crazy things that go on there. The rule of thumb we generally follow when writing an episode is if Mojo's or my brother won't get the joke, it either needs more explanation or it needs to get the ax.

That being said, there is another class of joke in THM, and that is the kind that NOBODY gets. The corn thing, the "dip" thing, the "oh you..." thing, and the "up eein cheare" thing. And Mank. Gotta love that mank.

Moving right along...

Growing Pains
As the episodes started piling up, some interesting events happened along the way.

The Infection Spreads - Who would have thought that putting a cartoon online on an Air Force website would make you an instant celebrity? No one, because it wouldn't. But it is surprising how many eyes this little cartoon would fall under.

One Saturday morning, shortly after getting out of the Air Force, I took advantage of the DoD sticker still on my car to get on base and work out at the gym. As I was on the arm curl machine, the only other guy in the room was working out on the machine behind me. “What year did you graduate from USAFA?” he asked.

“1995. How did you know I went there?”

“I saw your Hate Machine t-shirt.”

We chatted for a little while, and during the course of our conversation I told him that I was in fact one of the creators of eDodo and THM. His eyes almost fell out of his head. It was nice to know that someone actually watched the cartoon.

There were a few other encounters like this, and it was always a riot to see the reactions on people’s faces when I told them stories about THM, what the next episode had in store, and where some of the ideas came from.

One particularly odd encounter occurred in 2000 or so. I got a call from my brother who told me that his best friend Jamison went to San Diego to visit some friends there, and he met some AFROTC cadets on his trip. I guess one drunken night, the conversation turned to the Air Force, and Jamison asked if these guys had seen the Hate Machine. They all said they loved it and watched on a regular basis. Jamison said, “Yeah? Well, I know the guy who made it. He’s my roommate’s brother.” Apparently, the ROTC pukes were amazed that he knew “the legendary” (yeah, right) -PING!-. Sheesh... losers.

The Big Switch - Actually, there were two big switches that occurred around Episode 9. After Episode 8 was completed, Mojo and I got out of the Air Force and started up a computer business together. When a couple projects had come our way requiring the use of Director, I soon found out how shitty I was at using that software. At this same point in time, Mojo was getting "burned out" on THM. I think his lambasting of Stealth Force sucked the energy out of him.

The situation, then, was ripe for me to do my first episode solo. Not only would I be giving myself a crash course in Director, but I would also be adding a new episode to the lineup. I quickly knocked out a script and got underway.



This part required Flash. Even though I didn't do it right, it got me started on Flash-based THM episodes.

Towards the end of the episode, I felt pretty comfortable with my basic understanding of Director. But when Sgt Robot is melting in the electric chair, I realized I needed to do some shape tweening (or "morphing" as most people call it). Well, Director is not the tool for shape tweening... Flash is. So I tried my hand at my first Flash animation by melting Sgt Robot in the electric chair. Looking back on it, the animation sucked, but I don't have the heart to pull a George Lucas and go back changing everything. The drain scene was also done in Flash, and it ended up looking how I had planned.

One thing quickly became apparent. I was getting the feeling that Flash was the tool we should be using for THM. After I created a basic animation for one of our clients in Flash, I felt like I was ready for another episode -- but this one would be 100% Flash. Episode 10 was just the second real Flash project I had ever worked on, and I consider it to be one big experiment. That episode alone taught me most of what I know about basic Flash animation, and it laid the foundation for all of the future episodes.

I still use Flash almost on a daily basis, and I fire up Director maybe once every 6 months. Had we not switched, it's quite possible THM would be dead right now.

The Gina Factor - Okay, here comes my Gina Ryder story. The question we get asked most often is, "How on earth did you hook up with that porn star?" I have told this so many times to so many people, and it still amazes me whenever I think about it. I have to leave some good parts out to be fair to Gina, but this version is still cool.

When I was a lowly dink at camp USAFA, our squadron used to watch our fair share of porn, considering we went to a school that was 85% male, 5% female, and 10% androgynous she-troll. And the CS-40 favorite was Tori Welles. Throughout the squadron were bootleg copies of Tori's movies everywhere. I had a few of my own, I must say, and they went with me after graduation.

Living with my girlfriend for two years after graduation meant that the Tori tapes didn't get much play time. But after we parted ways, I dusted them off again, and soon upgraded to DVD. When I heard about all these features they had... multiple angles, added scenes, special features... I had to check it out. So, I bought a couple Tori DVDs.



Gina Ryder: GODDESS

Let's just say, the years were not kind to Tori. She had some really nappy hair and tattoos all over her body. It was time to find someone new. And as I was browsing through the previews on one of Tori's DVDs, I found her. I was watching a preview for a movie that showed a lot of porn star models in different poses. One of them in particular took my breath away. Unfortunately, however, there were no names on the screen at the same time, but they were all listed at the end. So, seeing as how this "Internet" thing was catching on, I figured out my solution. I wrote down every name at the end of the preview and got online to match the correct name to the goddess' face. And there she was... Gina Ryder.

I instantly purchased a couple Gina Ryder movies to see her in action. Before long, it was official: Gina Ryder was my favorite porn star.

Meanwhile, at work, I was getting into this Flash thing. I had the script for episode 10, and it felt like it was coming together nicely, except for one small piece. This was the episode where Veronica was going to speak for the first time, and I didn't have a voice for her. I certainly wasn't going to be able to pull it off myself. I considered a search on the Rumor Mill, but there had to be a better choice out there. More on this later...

As Mojo and I were strategizing at work one day, we discussed possible applications for our newest product: the evocard. The evocard was our name for those little business card sized CD-ROMs. We were tossing around ideas for businesses that could use these, and one in particular came to mind: strip clubs! They could put pictures of their dancers on these and then sell them at the end of the night to all the horny guys who have to go home to their ugly wives. It seemed foolproof to us, so we set out to pitch the idea to a few local clubs.

We went to All Star's, and they weren't too interested. The Palace liked the idea and wanted to discuss it further. The manager of PT's wasn't in, but one of the supervisors there thought he would be very interested in them. We would have to come back.

A couple days later I was working on a project and Mojo had just finished up whatever he was doing. He was bored, so I suggested he call PT's to see if Ron the manager was in. So he called, and sure enough, Ron was in. Although the prospect of tagging along and going to a place full of young naked chicks was enticing, I had to get my project finished, so Mojo went solo.

A couple hours later he came back. He walked in. He sat down. I could tell by the fact that he didn't come in cheering that he wasn't bearing the best of news. I continued to stare at my monitor in the corner of the room, but talked to Mojo over my shoulder.

"How'd it go?" I asked.

"It was ok. I don't think they can do it for legal reasons. They would have to jump through a lot of hoops to get their dancers to pose for photos."

"Damn."

"Yeah, but we could contract with them individually if we wanted. In fact, there was a porn star who was there who was pretty interested in it."

"Oh really? I am somewhat familiar with the world of porn... who was it?"

This next part happened in slow motion. Mojo tried to think of her name, and he pieced it together syllable by syllable.

"Gi... na... Ry..."

"DER? GINA RYDER?" I almost fell out of my chair with a slow motion "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...!" as I turned around.

"Yeah. You've heard of her?"

I caught my breath and recovered from the 3 or 4 heartbeats that I missed. "YES. She's only my FAVORITE porn star!" The wheels were turning. "Dude. You NEED to call her back now. I will build her CD-ROM for FREE."

Mojo agreed and proceeded to fill me in on the whole story. Turns out Gina got her start dancing at that very PT's establishment, and even filmed her first porno in one of the rooms in back.

So anyway, Mojo called, we got scheduled to go in there and meet her 2 days later, I built her CD-ROM, and we also agreed to do her website. One day when I was going in to PT's to pick up some of her photos, Gina was waiting at the front door. She spilled a bunch of naked pictures of herself on the counter and started sorting through them when I asked her if she would be a voice in our cartoon. She graciously agreed, and the rest is history.

As for the parts I can't tell, there were some other amazing coincidences along the way. I'm not a big believer in fate, but if I were, I would say that Gina was destined to be the voice of THM's Veronica.

AIRPOWER! - After moving to Denver, I was looking for as much business as I could drum up. One of my contacts, Adam, sent a phone number my way. "Call Joel. He does a lot of Flash development, and he might be able to farm some out to you." So I called Joel.

Joel was a pretty nice guy with my same interest in animation, but a more impressive résumé. He walked me through some of his past projects online. He pointed me to the 3000 Miles to Graceland site where he created some Flash-animated back story as a promotion for the movie. Something looked familiar to me. His animation style was very similar to that of Stealth Force. I was almost afraid to ask.

"Have you ever done anything for the Air Force?," I ventured.

"Yeah, I developed a recruiting cartoon a couple years ago."

"Stealth Force?," I asked.

"Yes!" He was excited that someone knew of his work. "You've heard of it?"

I then proceeded to point him to THM and told him how Stealth Force was the butt of many jokes when it first came out. He took it well, but I found out later that he wasn’t too happy about seeing his characters smoking pole and shooting up. I haven’t talked to him since… go figure.

Foley Foolery - Some of the THM episodes offer opportunities to create sounds that are not readily available online. I always thought Foley artists were cool. Tapping (heh, I said “tapping”) on a tower’s ground wire to get a laser sound, waving sheet metal to emulate a thunderstorm, slapping two pieces of meat together to create a punch sound… I always wondered how they came up with these ideas. Although none of my sounds were that innovative, I did get to improvise a little and do some mixing and editing.

A note about sound: In an animated world, sounds are essential if you want to give your characters and environments the feeling of solid form. It is common for amateur animators to leave out sounds, either because they don't think of it, or because they're too lazy to worry about adding sounds to everything in the cartoon. I would say that in the earlier THM episodes, we just didn't think about adding sound. Only when the lack of sound when an action occurred was painfully apparent would we add it in. Later, I became more conscious about adding sounds to minor things like footsteps and Sgt Robot's servo motors. There are still times, however, that I am just too damn lazy to go hunting down the perfect sound. As soon as I get some THM interns, I can make them do that crap.

The Women of THM
From Episode 10 on, it became standard practice to use real women voices instead of trying to do them myself. Especially if the woman had to have a modicum of sex appeal, it was best if I left that to the ladies. (This is the Monty Python rule. They used to dress up as women, but when they actually needed a woman with sex appeal, they would get Carol Cleveland to sit in.) Here are the women who have graced the THM series with their vocal chords.

Gina Ryder - Check the Gina story for the background.

I was honored to have Gina fill in as the voice for Veronica. She alone was one reason The Hate Machine was worth talking about. She also set the standard for having notable/hot women as voices for the females in our more recent episodes.

Gina was very patient when we recorded, and she was a laugh a minute whenever we had to do take after take. When we had her back for Episode 12, I decided to test her patience by having her say the name Makahini'ilimauialikalahikakiliwanalikiahai. As you can hear in the outtakes, she gave it her best shot and kept trying until she got it right.

About Gina:
Birth date: January 23, 1977
Height: 5' 4 1/2"
Weight: 107 lbs
Measurements: 34D-23-33

Gina lived in Texas for twenty-one years of her life before moving to California to do movies. She got into the adult movie business in April of ‘98. She has completed over 150 XXX movies and has appeared on Playboy TV and the Spice Channel.


   

Employment: "My job at 16 was at a fast food restaurant. Needless to say it was not the greatest job that I had and I quit after only one week. Shortly after that I went to work for a telemarketing company. I left that job after getting a position at a major department store which was what I always wanted to do. After being there for a year and a half, I was given the opportunity to work at the Hard Rock Cafe as part of the opening staff. This was really exciting for me because I would be the youngest, at 17, to work for the company. While still working at the Hard Rock Cafe I was offered a job at a high volume music store. I took the job and quickly worked my way up to being the youngest manager that the company had. I had a salary position, which meant working 60-70 hours a week. I had no life beyond work and I began to realize that I wanted to continue my education. I searched for jobs that would be flexible so that I could go to school and that would be paying me the income that I was used to earning. I had no luck, the only way that I would get the income that I wanted was if I took a management position. I was determined to find something so that I could return to UTSA. That is when I tried topless dancing for the first time. I made such a fool out of myself because I did not know the first thing about dancing. But guess what... I left that day with about a weeks pay. Not bad for not having a clue as to what I doing. I continued dancing for year and a few months, before I decided to pack my bags and come out to the valley to try porn. And somewhere along the way I forgot all about school."



Education: "I guess we will start with high school. As a freshman I was accepted to be part of the first classes at Business Careers High School. This was a big deal for me because this meant that getting good grades and being in advanced classes was finally going to pay off. I was chosen out of hundreds of applicants from throughout the city to be one of the select few to be given the opportunity. While attending Business Careers I was part of the pep squad team. My junior year of high school I returned to my home school where I attended 4 classes my junior year and 3 classes my senior year. I did this because I was tired of school and I wanted to work. My only motivation at this point was that I was in DECA (An Association of Marketing Students). I served as the Vice-president for one year and President of my chapter for another year. Being part of this organization gave me many valuable working and leadership skills, along with the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people while traveling to New Orleans, Houston, St. Louis, Corpus Christi, Detroit, and Canada. I graduated from high school in 1995. I took almost a year off from school before I enrolled at UTSA for the spring semester of 1996. My courses included Macro-Economics, Political Science, and Algebra with Calculus for Business, I got a promotion into a salary position half way through the semester and I stopped attending my classes at UTSA. For some reason I felt that working and making money were more important than obtaining an education. As I mature I am coming to the conclusion that school is important and that I hope to gain the discipline to continue my education someday."


Family: "I lived my childhood with my biological mother and my father who adopted me when he married my mother when I was two years old. My father had four sons from previous marriages and when he married my mother they had my youngest brother. So all together I have 3 older and 2 younger brothers. As a child I was pretty spoiled because I was the only girl. My parents have always believed in my ability to be successful in what ever I do. However, they never imagined that I would have become a topless dancer or that I would be having sex in X-rated films. I won’t say that my parents support what I do because they would much rather me be a doctor, lawyer, or the president of a corporation. But I will say that they do accept and understand what I do only because they love me and trust that I am doing what makes me happy. I am very grateful for having such wonderful parents who raised me the best that they could and who have always wished nothing but the best for me."



Susan Grant ('82)

Susan Grant - When Episode 13 was in development, I had more female characters to deal with. Fortunately, most of them were dykes, so I could fill in fine on the voices. But then there was Jet, sweet, sexy, sultry, slutty Jet. I needed a female voice. So I turned to none other than the eDodo Folklore pages. There she was... Susan Grant. AFA graduate, pilot, and romance novelist... Just like Jet! (Except for the romance novelist part.) And Sue is quite a looker too!

I emailed Sue and she was a little cautious at first. I think she wanted to make sure this wasn't some kind of porn site. As soon as she checked out eDodo, she was on board. I talked to her on the phone, walking her through what I needed and how she could go about getting it for me. She emailed me her lines recorded on kind of a crappy microphone, but I think we made out okay.

From her website (www.susangrant.com): "One of the first women in history to attend the US Air Force Academy (Class of '82), a former Air Force instructor pilot, and currently a 747 jumbo jet pilot for United Airlines, RITA winner and New York Times best-seller Susan Grant loves writing about what she knows -- flying, action-adventure, and the delicious interaction between the sexes. Former book editor and critic for the San Francisco Chronicle Pat Holt called her novel Contact (Oct 02), "one of the first novels written by a professional insider that shows us how airline crews of today have adjusted in-flight procedures to accommodate the lessons learned from 9/11. You don't have to be a romance reader to enjoy this tale by Susan Grant. She's got the stuff!"

A busy mom to a couple of school-age children, Susan lives amongst the towering oaks in Northern California."

Ali the Hooters Manager - I am an ambassador with the local Chamber of Commerce, which means I go to their events, meet and greet, and be an overall wonderful guy. Well, at the chamber's annual Taste of the Best event in 2002, there were a couple of ladies in sleek black dresses with the lowest-cut cleavage you've ever seen. The men were gawking at them, and the women were insanely jealous. After I had about 12 guys egg me on to go talk to them, I finally found them and put on the "Ambassador Charm."

Ali and Shae were roommates and both worked at Hooters. I had my new hang-out.



-PING!- and Ali, Valentines Day 2003 (The Hooters waitresses with boyfriends all get the day off on Valentine's Day leaving the single ones working that night. You will find me at Hooters Valentine's evening.)

   

I went out with Ali a few times, and we became good friends. She was familiar with the Academy because she had dated a '97 cadet there. When I told her about the opportunity to be a voice on THM, she was more than willing.

When Episode 15 was in the works, it was Ali's chance to shine. I asked her to be more than one voice in the episode, and she filled in perfectly. She nailed that motherly tone for Sue Offerson, the whiny shrill of Sarah Offerson, and the orgasmic screams of Debra Flinn. Ali wished she could do some more cartoony voices, so I promised her a part in some of my other cartoons when they get off the ground.

The funniest thing about working with Ali is that she kept screwing up her lines. I think she was tired that night she came over after work, and she kept stumbling over her words and speaking gibberish. When it came time for her to fake an orgasm, though, she got it right on the first try!

Meghan the Playboy Model - I met Meghan through another contact here in Denver. At the time, she was an Aerospace Engineer looking for work and holding down a job at a web hosting company. We had lunch together one day, when she revealed to me that she was at one time engaged to one of my classmates from USAFA. I told her to check out eDodo and the Hate Machine because she was pretty familiar with the shit that went on at USAFA.

A year or so later, Meghan told me she was going out to California to do a "chicks with brains AND bodies" photo shoot for Playboy. At that moment, she was THM material!

Meghan was awesome to work with. She was throwing out ideas and improvising the whole time we were recording. She is truly one wacky girl.

THM Time
I often find that people assume THM is either in real time or suspended time.

Real time would mean that these guys are just stuck at USAFA for a long time and that every year an episode comes out represents what is going on that year at the Academy. If that were true, Leo, Kurt, and Harvey would have graduated back in 1999.

Suspended time would mean that time really has no bearing on the story, and that the fact that they are always wearing their blues signifies that I am just too lazy to draw new outfits. The same reason Fred always wears his loincloth, or Lisa always wears her red dress.

Neither is true. THM does have a timeline, and the rate at which episodes are released has no bearing on the time elapsed in the story. Kurt, Leonard, and Harvey are two degrees starting their third year at the Academy. Episode 1 begins hours after they have moved into their new squadron at the beginning of the year. Consider the following as I pull this out of my ass:

Episode Time Index Description
1
Day 1
Major Dunkel's squadron welcome. It's late afternoon at the beginning of the dinks' third year. That would make it early August. Episode ends with Leonard saying, "Fuck this, I'm going to my room." Then Harvey says "Yeah, let's go."
2
Day 1
This is shortly after the squadron meeting. The three main characters go to Leonard's room to B.S. before the training session. Major Dunkel comes in and tells them the training session "is about to commence."
3
Day 1
Training session. This episode represents about an hour of training that same day. It would be evening by the time training starts.
4
Day 2

This is the next day after training, and the first day of school. Leonard refers to "that moron Billy Ray Hewitt" and the training session "last night." By the end of the episode, the next day has started, since a newspaper has come out.

5
Day 4
Probably a day or two has passed here. Now the guys are sitting in the SAR watching Sgt Robot's trial.
6
Day 4

This episode starts at 7 PM with the grease board butt-wipe. Sgt. Robot's execution takes place on Wednesday, according to the grease board. Dante's initiation is "next week."

7
Day 6
Noon meal formation.
8
Day 6
After lunch, same day, the guys discuss Stealth Force some more. Major Dunkel reveals the execution is "tonight."
9
Day 6
It's the end of the first week. The guys are getting ready to go out. The execution takes place.
10
Day 6
Guys go out. Guys eat BLTs. Guys shoot pool. Harvey humps pool table.
11
Day 6
Finally, at the end of the night, the boys head back to the hill, and Kurt gets busted for corn possession.
12
Day 9
The weekend has passed, and Kurt has spent a couple days in the can. Initiation takes place this night.
13
Day 10
It's probably the next day or so, since Dante is still freshly beaten. M-5 takes place in CS-42 and 43.
14
Day 13
A few days later, Kurt gets out of jail.
15
Day 15
Leonard's sponsors die, and a couple days pass as Leonard goes to the funeral, meets his new sponsor, and stays the night with her.
16
Day 18
A couple days later, the terrorist attacks take place.
17
Days 18-20
The episode starts the same day as the terror attacks. A mandatory overnight pass occurs, and then there is a night where the deer eat all the corn, so this episode spans three days. Harvey reveals that it is still "the middle of August."

So there ya go. Not too much time passes between episodes. I approximated the days, but it gives a pretty good idea of how quickly (or slowly) time passes in THM.

Episode Reflections
This is where the "journal" part of THM comes in. Each episode has its own personality and dredges up lots of memories. As we went along, the episodes seemed to get better and better. It seems like each time one was released, someone would throw out the comment "best episode ever." Although I think the quality improved over time, there are certain aspects of each episode that make it special.

Episode 1: The Assboy

Script:
Episode 1 really wrote itself. The purpose of the SAR briefing was to provide the story behind why this group of 2 degrees are all stuck in this new squadron. A few of the characters are introduced, too. The idea for the "assboy" story came from a commander's call that Mojo and I were suffering through. Our squadron CC was pouring on joke after joke, and everyone in the squadron was laughing. The part that bugged us was that the "jokes" were not in the least bit funny. Thus the term "consolation laugh" was born. I remember we started consolation laughing every time the commander made one of his comments. Then we started laughing at our laughing. Before I knew it, I had tears running down my cheeks I was laughing so hard. Pretty soon people thought we were laughing that hard at the CC's jokes, which were obviously not that funny! This is a Mojo script, with input from me. I was busy cranking out character sketches while Mojo wrote.

Title:
The title "The Assboy" didn't have a lot of thought behind it, but it's funny now because people who check out The Hate Machine for the first time always comment on that title. I think we probably would have put more thought into it if we considered that the title of the first episode is the first thing people are going to see.

Development:
As our first episode, I think we were almost concentrating more on the process than the storyline. I was drawing, scanning, and coloring, while Mojo was writing, reviewing my drawings, and figuring out how we were going to animate this damn thing.



The Mac palette (left) has a good flesh tone color, but other colors (like Harvey's hair) require dithering more than one color to achieve the proper hue. Flash (right) can use any color.

The color palette used on the Director episodes is the standard Macintosh 32-color palette. We used the Mac color palette instead of Windows because Windows didn't have a good flesh tone color. Mac did. We used a standard palette because we wanted to conserve on file size. That is why some of the colors are dithered and why the Director episodes look grainier than the Flash episodes.

Characters:
Primarily, Major Dunkel, Felix, and Kurt get developed in the episode.

Major D. reveals his propensity for nifty little motivational phrases and his quotation mark hand movements. It also becomes quite obvious that he commands very little respect from the cadets since they are carrying on their own conversations, watching Springer on TV, and questioning who this Major is in the first place.

Felix simply is a little kiss-ass. He is non-confrontational and has no clue how annoying that laugh is.

Kurt, of course, is the one to call Felix out on his behavior. His affinity for the F word and his cynical attitude also become quite apparent.

Favorite moment:
"Who are you?"

Episode 2: Terror at Eye Level

Script:
This script was written to further explain the situation of the Ostriches, to develop the main characters, and to introduce a few others. This also sets the stage for these three guys hanging out bullshitting in Leonard’s room, a situation that resurfaces often throughout the saga. Mojo and I both remember certain rooms that people seemed to gravitate to for BS sessions. In CS-42, it’s Leo’s room.

Again, primarily a Mojo script, with –PING!- input.

Title:
The title comes from the old Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" where William Shatner sees a gremlin on the wing of the airliner he is flying in. The terror at eye level, of course, is Leo's roommate's ass.

Development:
I think we were concentrating a little more on the story this time. With one episode under our belts, we had proven to ourselves that we could pull this thing off.

This was the first episode we did where I was drawing everything at home, scanning, then emailing to Mojo. He did all of the animation at his place. Our geographic separation was no match for us. In fact, it solidified our separate roles in working on a THM episode.

Characters:
Kurt, Harvey, Leonard, Major Dunkel, and Felix are further developed. Leonard’s Roommate, Sgt Robot, C4C Handey, and BJ are introduced.

Kurt is, of course, still pissed off about, well… everything.

Leonard reveals that he is probably most knowledgeable about what is going on at the Academy, and he begins to solidify his role as the smartest one of the bunch.

BJ shows us that he’s trying to be just one of the guys, but it’s never going to happen with his bitchy attitude and his alternative “tastes.” The three main guys talk a little more about the pussification of USAFA, BJ begins the search for his Jean Claude Van-Damme massager, and Major D sets up the training session that is about to begin.

The Sgt Robot idea came from a conversation Mojo and I had at work one day. There was some holiday coming up (Thanksgiving, I think), and we were required to have someone man the phones at the office even though no one was going to call. This seemed pretty absurd to us. I said, "You know what would be cool? If they invented some kind of machine that could answer the phone when you're gone... some kind of "Answering Machine," if you will." We started talking about how this machine could actually pick up the phone handset and speak into it letting someone know that we weren't there. And then we named the machine Sgt Robot. Of course, our point was that we could just hook up a $10 answering machine from Radio Shack if someone had to answer the phones, but we just took the joke too far as always. Regardless, from that point on, "Sgt Robot" was a running joke that quickly made it into THM.

Dunkel does more of his motivational speak, with a consolation laugh thrown in there.

Favorite moment:
"No, no, stay down, gentlemen."

Episode 3: Child Abuse

Script:
This one was intended to be where some of the action gets started. Primarily, we wanted to show what would happen if a bunch of people who had never been trained before were thrust into the position of training others. And as the episode pointed out, it ended up in quite a mess.

Mojo and I wrote this one together while on TDY to Dallas. We named Billy Ray Hewitt as we passed the exit for Hewitt, TX. We came up with Makahini'ilimauialikalahikakili-wanalikiahai after many beers at Hooters one night. I remember the two of us sitting there drunk off our asses saying that name over and over again and laughing.

Title:
One of my favorite titles. I think Mojo came up with that one.

Development:
This one came together pretty smoothly. After getting back from our trip with 3 scripts written, we were ready to start cranking the episodes out. We were pros by this point.

I remember having to figure out how to get the sound of a door flying open and a freshman's head going into the wall. I think the cord on my microphone was long enough to where I could fling open my bathroom door to get that sound. The head going through the wall was me thumping my acoustic guitar.

Characters:
We introduce the freshmen here, Rashawn makes his first appearance, and C4C Handey shows how many push-ups a legless tard can do!

Major Dunkel reveals that he’s an OTS grad, and he spouts off more of his motivation speak, getting yet another consolation laugh from Felix.

Harvey shows interest in Veronica, and BJ in Harvey.

Sgt. Robot reveals his sadistic side.

I think cadets frustrated by the lack of hardcore training at the Zoo enjoyed this episode because they got to see Robot, Billy Ray, and Mac do some of the things they wish they could do to their smacks.

Favorite moments:
"As we used to say in OTS, adequacy is PRIORITY ONE!" and "Yo, check how many mofuckin pushups mofuckin blood can do, younowhatamsayin, iz like DAYAM BEEOTCH!"

Episode 4: The Prisoner Dilemma

Script:
This script is what results when you put two Behavioral Science majors through resistance training. This one was also written on the Dallas TDY by Mojo and me. I think most of this was done on free beer night in the hotel lobby.

The Prisoner Dilemma starts in the classroom on the first day of Kurt, Leonard, and Harvey’s two-degree academic year. Since I’m too lazy to draw rank on shoulder boards, I thought it was important to establish that these guys are two-degrees. The first scene also supplies the exposition for the interrogation sequence.

Title:
If you remember what the prisoner dilemma taught us, it’s always in your best interest to rat out the other guy. In this case, the other guy is Sgt. Robot. Robot gets blamed for the death of the freshmen in the training session, setting up the subplot of his trial and execution.

Development:
The second of three cranked out after the Dallas TDY. Some of the shots in this episode I spent a lot of time on. Mac's autograph session, Mac's tattoo, and the newspaper at the end. But when it came to drawing the backgrounds for each interrogation room, I was damned if I was going to draw each room from two angles separately. So, I drew one room, a light bulb, a mirror, a door, and a bulletin board and just moved them around in the different rooms.

Characters:
Leonard displays more know-it-all-ness in the classroom explaining the “point of no return” principle to “random 2-degree.”

We meet the cops: Buster, Hey, and Gladhand, for the first time in this episode. TSgt “Hey” as we call him, is one of my favorite characters. I have no idea why, but he totally cracks me up.

Favorite moment:
Sgt Robot spouting off his specs sheet to Chops Buster.

Episode 5: Got Short Attention Span?

Script:
This script was also written on the Dallas TDY. Yes, it was a very productive trip. This is the episode Mojo and I couldn’t wait to get back to San Antonio to do, but it was the least well-received. Some people hated this episode. It may be because it was the least structured, most “stream of consciousness” episode to this point. In it, Mojo and I made fun of the news media, modern advertising, the justice system, Metallica, and corn. A lot of the inspiration for this episode came from the fact that we spend most of the after-work hours in front of the TV at Hooters and the hotel lobby. We were so tired of the two-word branding phrases like, “Got Milk?” and “Want Some?” I also remember we were watching the love-fest media coverage of Clinton’s State of the Union Address and getting pissed at news anchors. Rip Russell was partially spawned from this hatred.

Despite the fact that this episode wasn't a fan favorite, it did introduce a few good things to the THM universe like Rip Russell and corn.

Title:
Again with the idea of the short-attention-span marketing trend.

Development:
This was the last of the Dallas trip episodes, and the one we were most looking forward to completing. We breezed through it.

Characters:
Rip Russell. Another favorite of mine. He comes off smooth and polished, but he’s a moron with a slanted point of view just like every other anchorman on TV. He’s reporting the news as an authoritative source, but he still calls a one-striper “General.”

Leonard explains “trial of the century," solidifying the fact that he knows just about everything.

Harvey’s has a flash of profoundness at the end, but is easily distracted by the mention of corn. He's one of the simpletons targeted by the short attention span marketing.

Favorite moment:
Without a doubt: James Hetfield singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Episode 6: Brother of the Other Color

Script:
Most of the THM episodes provide some kind of addition to the overall THM world. Each script introduces another facet of the world Kurt, Harvey, and Leonard are exposed to, whether it's the formation of CS-42, training violations, the war on corn, Stealth Force, gang initiations, or cotton towers. Only a couple of the episodes are more about character development than story development. This is one of them. This is Rashawn’s story.

This is one of my favorite episodes to this day. It started with the great feedback we got from Rashawn in episode 3. Mojo and I both liked Rashawn, and we wanted to work him in to more episodes. With him just shouting ebonics all the time, however, he wouldn't have much depth as a character and would be nothing more than a bit part in every other episode. From this episode on, Rashawn became one of the main group of characters and not just some bit part.

Mojo wrote this episode, and I had very little to do with the script other than editing and titling the episode. Probably why it's one of my favorites.

Title:
Nothing too spectacular about the title, but I soon realized that The Simpsons writers were naming their episodes things like "Brother from Another Series" and "Brother from Another Planet." I swear I wasn't copying that.

Development:
I hardly even remember working on this episode.

Characters:
Dante is introduced as is the impending gang initiation. I think Mojo and I effectively wrote and drew a success with Dante. The character is someone we wanted people to hate. One look at him, and I want to hurt him.

Of course, Rashawn develops much more depth in this episode.

Favorite moment:
"Kill whitey."

Episode 7: The Propaganda Machine: Part 1

Script:
This episode was originally going to be much like episode 9. Sgt Robot was going to be executed, and we would go from there. Then one day at work, Mojo was checking the Rumor Mill, and all hell broke loose. We saw that the Air Force was going commercial, and they were using our medium to do it!



airforce.com: morons

   

We soon checked out airforce.com and decided we had to put a stop to this Mickey-Mouse Stealth Force shit. When Mojo gets pissed, he also gets very productive. He had a script busted out in no time flat. The script mocked a Stealth Force mission and then had Kurt, Leonard, and Harvey discuss the implications of this squadron's irresponsibility.

We made Stealth Force Cadet Squadron 43. It pulled them into the THM universe nicely, and it gave CS-42 a rival squadron. I have always been a huge fan of stories in which the group of main characters have a rival group that is similar in many ways but detestably different in others. Superman had his Bizarro, Cheers had their Gary's Old Towne Tavern, and the children of Springfield had their children of Shelbyville.

I am such a fan of this concept, I have imitated it in real life. I am president of the Kiwanis club of Denver West, and I have officially declared "war" on the Kiwanis club of Applewood. This is by no fault of the Applewood club, I just thought it was important (and funny) for us to have a rival. I am now planning pranks to pull on Applewood, and I am always talking shit about them. This is all for my own personal amusement more than anything.

Title:
The "Bizarro" concept is exemplified by the title "The Propaganda Machine." It's like The Hate Machine, but gay.

Development:
I remember working late nights to get this one out quickly. Mojo and I were both fueled by our contempt for the farce airforce.com had created.

Characters:
BJ discovers that Jean Claude is still alive. His reaction to hearing JCVD's buzz is one of some kind of sick longing.

Then there are the characters of CS-43. These guys are corrupted in every way. They take the premise of THM to its limits. Not only do they lack any kind of discipline or training, but they are coddled and nurtured in a disgustingly PC environment. Talon's on drugs, Sanchez and Ratchet are queers, Jet is a slut, and Major Collins has some kind of anal fixation. Not to mention he's a kleptomaniac.

This episode also marks the first time the French Canadians are seen and heard.

Favorite moment:
"Higher! Slower! This sucks!" I love the "fly-by" that is scarcely more than a speck in the sky.

Episode 8: The Propaganda Machine: Part 2

Script:
This was actually written at the same time as Episode 7. We split them in two because at the time this was a considered a long episode. Also, since the world was still on dial-up, download time became a consideration.

Title:
Pretty original, eh?

Development:
This came out just days after episode 7. We were cartoon-cranking-out fools. Some of the development was done concurrently with Episode 7.

Characters:
No new characters surface.

Kurt reveals more of his temper in this episode.

Favorite moments:
I still think my favorite moment is our first outtake when Mojo starts to say, "Who do you have to blow to get one of those dope waivers?"

I also like the "Gap commercial" comment and "AIM WHEREVER."

Episode 9: Enter Mrs. Coffee

Script:
This is where Mojo started losing interest in THM. I didn't want to see THM die, so I picked it up and ran with it. I wrote the script to cover the execution of Sgt Robot, but also to set up a night out on the town with the THM crew.

Although I think the episode is one of the weakest overall, I think it has a few funny lines, and it adequately sets up some of the future events. Plus, it was high time to stop talking about Sgt Robot being killed and to just do the deed.

Title:
Mojo's and my coworker, Monkey Boy, came up with Sgt Robot's last line. I wanted him to have memorable last words, and the coffee machine line worked for me. When coming up with the title, I wanted something that didn't make sense until you hear Sgt Robot's final words. So the result was a play on the Mr. Coffee brand name.

Development:
This was a rough one for me at times, seeing as how I had not ever completed a Director project on my own before. But it gave me a chance to cut my teeth on the program, and it also required that I impelment Flash into the cartoon. After that, I was hooked on Flash.

Characters:
Harvey reveals that he is not only interested in Veronica, but that he is sex-starved in general. His primary goal for their outing is to pick up a chick.

Favorite moments:

"...and the HIV," "Do you know how long it's been since I had one?," and "Sliggitysliznutslutty."

Episode 10: Bacon, Lettuce, and Public Indecency

Script:
I wrote this script to show what the boys do out on the town. At the time, I was hooked on BLTs for some reason. It seemed like it was all I made for myself for dinner, and I soon realized the fast food industry had a gaping hole in the BLT market. BLT King was one of my harebrained business ideas that I would never pursue. Another one was caffeinated beer, and I hear someone else has jumped all over that one.

This episode was also meant to give Veronica a speaking role instead of just having her be the silent hot chick in the background all the time. Luckily, we met Gina Ryder just in time for an episode release.

This is still probably my favorite episode. I love the twist at the end.

Title:
I was pissed a few weeks after I released this episode. I wanted to call it "Bacon, Lettuce, and... something," so I hastily chose the title we ended up with. It wasn't until later that I put 5 seconds more thought into it and quickly realized I should have called it "Bacon, Lettuce, and Libido."



The THM Flash library contains all the components of every cartoon

   

Development:
This was my second attempt at using Flash. It first required a complete recreation of all the characters' heads, mouths, bodies, etc. This was a task in itself, but I think it paid off in the long run. I am still using body parts from this episode in my current episodes.

I think I was still influenced by Director when developing this episode. Many of the backgrounds are drawn in Photoshop and imported into Flash (like the exterior and interior of Dirty Cooter's), rather than the backgrounds being created in Flash like they are now. I don't use raster graphics in the episodes anymore unless there is a reason.

Characters:
Veronica speaks! And she's hot! And she's a figment of Harvey's imagination!

Other characters introduced are Dirty Cooter and the BLT King.

We also see a sad perspective of Major Dunkel's life. Turns out he was married and has to hold down an extra job to pay alimony.

Favorite moments:

Absolute favorite has to be the end. When Harvey is getting it on while lying on the pool table, and then the look on Kurt and Leonard's face and how Leonard has to crank his head almost 90 degrees to figure out what is going on.

I also like the "milk, milk, lemonade" sequence and when Kurt calls Harvey a fag for ordering the healthy BLT options.

Episode 11: Children of the Corn Children

Script:
This episode picks up immediately after Episode 10. This was based on an idea Mojo and I had a few months prior to writing the script. We wanted to make a THM episode in which the government outlawed a random substance just like they did marijuana in the 30s. And of course, corn would be that substance.

I wrote a lot of this episode, then handed the script to Mojo to fill in much of the anti-corn arguments that were made. He was better suited to writing that portion.

The bonus portion of the episode was based on a routine my friend and I used to perform when we were at USAFA. I would say "Carry on," and he would say, "yes sir!" Then I would say, "What's the response to 'carry on?'" And he would say, "Sir, there is no response to carry on." Then I would say, "Good. Then carry on." And he would say... oh wait. I guess you get the idea. Anyway, we would do this for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, and it would get funnier every time. I wanted to put that in the episode, but I wanted to make it appear that it wasn't repeating. The scene consists of 4 different cycles of "carry on," and it chooses each cycle at random. It was quite amusing to me to find that people watched it for an hour just to see if there was an end to it.

Title:
This was originally going to be just "Children of the Corn" for obvious reasons, but when the "children" portion of the script was written, I had to get that extra "children" point by adding "Children" to the end of the title. Yes, "Children." (5 pts)

Development:
This episode took quite a bit of time, and I was making a conscious effort to improve on some of the techniques I ham-fistedly used in Episode 10. I think overall, we ended up with a quality episode.

Characters:
Rip Russell, one of my favorite characters, got a lot of much-deserved screen time.

"Dr." Desmond Van Zorn was another cool character. He represented the lack of integrity in the media that go out and dig up someone from the amateur rodeo circuit and call him an authority.

Senator Roger Grumblemeyer was another new character, and he may very well return as the token politician in the cast. By the way, the name Grumblemeyer came from a portion of a Monty Python sketch about the great musical composer that history forgot: Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-
fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger- horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-
spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nurnburger-
bratwustle-gernspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shonedanker-
kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm. One of the best Monty Python skits ever.

Favorite moments:
Harvey's hand flipping off Kurt from the back seat, Kurt singing "So you think you can stomp on me and spit on my graaa-haaayve!" after commenting on how much he hates that song earlier in the evening, and "Carry on."

Episode 12: Two?

Script:
I wrote this one to tie up the loose end of the gang initiation introduced in Episode 6. I also wanted to get Gina in an episode again, so I had Veronica performing DI. When the opportunity presented itself to have her say Mac's name, I just had to write that into the script.

Title:
It just seemed appropriate since it is the line said repeatedly throughout the episode.

Development:
Much of this episode went smoothly... until I decided to put a Matrix scene in there. I almost pulled an all nighter to get that done.

Working with Gina on THM again was awesome.

Characters:
Veronica shows us her caring, nurturing side. But if you cross her...

Favorite moments:
Gina's outtakes and "Say what you talkin' bout, Willis?" I also liked how the MST3K spoof turned out.

Episode 13: The Shortest Episode Ever (But with the Longest Title So Far)

Script:
One night in San Antonio, we all went out after work (at 3 PM) to have beers and shoot some pool. Mojo and I got to bitching about the shit on TV or something, and we started talking about a really cheesy idea for a movie or TV show. We then thought about making this a THM script and making the characters Stealth Force. I loved the idea, and kept it at the front of my mind for the next THM story.

BUT FIRST, I had to finish my beer, take a wicked dump, and move to Denver. Once in Denver, I wrote the script.


I always hated when people do this and think they're cute. It was a perfect fit for
something Sonny Dunkel would say, so I wrote it into Episode 13.

Title:
I wanted to start in CS-42 and end the episode quickly while posing the question, "What is M5 like in Stealth Force?" So I decided to make a super-short episode and make the meat of the episode be the bonus portion. I thought about naming this "The Shortest Episode Ever," and almost ditched the idea until the next half of the title came to mind. It made me chuckle, so I kept it.

Development:
This required a lot of new drawing since the bulk of the episode took place in a completely different squadron. Another difference is that the Stealth Force episodes are drawn with fills for edges, not lines like THM. So I had to teach myself a completely different method of drawing to get the characters right.

Sue Grant filled in for Jet in this episode. Unlike all the other women of THM, I didn't get to work with her face-to-face which posed some difficulties. But I'm glad we got her to be part of the show.

Characters:
A few members of CS-43 are, I hate to admit, my own additions. Zanax, Blue, Crunch, n' Munch were added in Episodes 7 and 8. This episode gave me the chance to use them since the real Stealth Force is only like 5 people.

Favorite moment:
"Mofucka be in da corner ODing again."

Episode 14: Jailbreak!

Script:
After a few episodes, Mojo started to regain some interest in THM again. The only problem was that his character Kurt was behind bars and wasn't in any episodes. I wrote this script to get Kurt out. Mojo contributed to writing the Juanito part. It was based on a phone conversation we were having one day where I asked him if someone he referred to in San Antonio was named Juan. The next day, Mojo came up with the cross between our conversation and the Autotrader commercial. I don't watch TV, so I had never seen the commercial, so he had to hunt it down on the internet and show it to me so I knew what the hell I was animating.

The prison scenes were fun to do. I have always liked movies about prisoners and escapes, so to bring that aspect into THM was really cool. Plus, I was watching a lot of Oz when working on this episode.

It was also about time to bring Sgt Robot back to life.

Title:
BJ's "JAILBREAK!" line was not only foreshadowing, but just a nice way to wrap up the episode as a whole.

Development:
The Juanito part was a challenge as were some of the prison scenes. The rest of the episode development went smoothly.


This and a few other animations were done long before they were actually used in the episode. Some have still not been used.

   

Probably the most exciting part was bringing Sgt Robot back. I remember hoping to get through that day's work so I could animate the Shawshank Redemption scene. We intended to bring Robot back from the moment he melted, but I wanted to wait until people forgot about him, then surprise them by bringing him back. As a matter of fact, around Episode 11 I had already created rough animations of the raindrop scene from this episode and the Matrix bullet time scene from Episode 17.

Characters:
This is Kurt's big episode. Although most of it is fabricated, and it doesn't develop his character much, it's just mostly about his adventures in the big house.

We also get to see the Warden again as well as Sgt Pepper.

And of course, the robot is back. He lays low for a couple more episodes, but he's watching. Be scared. Be very scared.

Favorite moments:
Jaunito and sporks.

Episode 15: The Offersons

Script:
If Episode 14 is Kurt's episode, this one is Leonard's.

I wanted to start it off as though it was a completely different show. I put a banner online that showed no THM characters on it. I called it "The Offersons," which made it sound like a bad sitcom, and I wrote the beginning as though it had nothing to do with the Air Force Academy. I wanted to make people wonder who the hell these people were before we brought it back to the Academy.

I have also had in the back of my mind forever how cool it would be to have a sponsor who had you over for drinks and sex instead of just a home cooked meal. This was another idea I had on my THM bulletin board in my office for a long time. The only difference is that originally I intended to make it Harvey's sponsor who ends up sleeping with him. At the last minute before sitting down the write the script, I changed it to Leonard. I had other ideas for Harvey, but very few for Leonard, so I gave this one to him.

Title:
The title was just another part of the ruse. Who the hell are the Offersons? What happened to the main characters?

Development:
I put more effort into this episode than those previous, especially in the Offersons opening, the visit to Debra, and the bonus material.
I think the result was a more polished appearance, and it set the precedent for how much time and effort I would start putting into the episodes from here on out.

Characters:
We see General Goerbels again for the first time since Episode 8. From this point on, he will become more prevalent in THM. He will represent "the Powers that Be" and will make all the stupid decisions everyone else will have to live with.

The rest of the new characters are mostly just people's sponsors. They are unimportant to the story, although we may see some of them again. It also gave a great opportunity to see some of the main characters with their domes shaved.

Favorite moments:
The Mack truck and the hooters/water balloon scene.

Episode 16: The Two Towers

Script:
Late in 2002, Mojo gave me a script which had the whole tower concept plus much, much more on racial profiling, etc. It was a long script, so I thought I would be able to accomplish it in 2 episodes over the course of 2003.

Well, 2003 kicked my ass. I don't think I even started on the episode until summer. I soon had to re-evaluate the concept, so I decided the story would be done in one episode that sets up the terrorist situation, and then we can refer to it in later episodes and spread the rest of Mojo's script across other episodes (there's some classic stuff in it that cannot be ignored). We will see more of that script in future episodes.

So the first half of the script is what we went with, but I wanted to add the Maxx Tracker part to set up some of the jokes later on such as "enhance" or the "diving from explosion" shit. I kind of liked the "life imitating art" angle. To many of us, Sept 11 looked like a bad action movie on TV. That's why Maxx is now seen diving from every explosion in THM. We'll never be sure what is real and what is fiction.

Title:
I was surprised that at the time The Two Towers came out in theaters, there weren't more references between the movie and September 11th. So, I figured I'd latch on to it.

Development:
This episode took forever. I had a lot of shit going on that year and a lot of paying jobs coming in the door. Not to mention all the new characters and backgrounds and explosions... it was a pain in the ass.

Characters:
We have given names and faces to the bad guys in this episode. They are now seen on the news, in glider cockpits, and outside Leonard's window.

I loved the dynamic between General Goerbels and Major Major. I wasn't so sure about it when I read that part in the script, but it came out really good. That's why they came back in Episode 17.

Favorite moments:
"I'm pretty sure they don't drill for steel," and "Enhance!"

Episode 17: Deer, Deer, Deer, Deer

Script:
I had always wanted to work in the deer on the USAFA campus since Mojo made the popular deer game. It was one of those ideas that never seemed to fit, but nevertheless I have had the words "Deer, Deer, Deer, Deer" written on my THM bulletin board in my office for God knows how long. I had also written a deer overpopulation crisis into the "next time on the Hate Machine" portion of episode 16. I decided to remove it, because I wanted to do a whole episode on the deer thing. Enter Episode 17.


Sergeant Robot returns!
This episode wasn't so much about deer, corn, or fecal matter as it was about Sgt. Robot.

   

This also seemed like the opportune time to bring Sgt Robot back. The story is all about deer and corn and shit... then BAM! Sgt Robot is popping out of the Warden's stomach and kicking some ass. I was pleased with how that turned out.

Title:
Unlike the other episodes, I had the title in mind years before ever even touching the script. It came from the "Beer, Beer, Beer Beer" jodie. Mmm. I'm going to go get a beer.

Development:
This was another long development time. I started animating in September of 2004 and finished in March of 2005. I was working a lot during that time as well, and the death of my grandfather took me away from my coveted THM animating time during Christmas break.

I probably put more effort into making this a quality episode than ever before. Not only was I not cutting corners, I was now adding more facial expressions and visual humor... just little touches.

It wasn't until I had finished with the episode that I decided to make the bonus content the jodie version of "Deer, Deer, Deer, Deer." I wrote it in a staff meeting one day at work, and created the whole damn thing in two evenings. It was our first musical number! And possibly our last!

Characters:
I think this episode brings back more past characters and storylines than any other. It was cool to finally have a large pool of established characters to draw from when writing the script.

Now Sgt Robot is back in the squadron, and he'll be seen answering phones again.

The only other notable new character was Big Daddy Don. I'm sure he'll be back doing weather reports soon enough. And we might see Jack again.

Favorite moment:
"Dude, who are you talking to?" "Myself... But first..." Don't ask me why.

Episode 18: One Day Pass

Script:
The most basic premise of this episode is that all three of the main characters separate and go do their own thing. This was an idea I had a few years ago. Originally, the idea was to show a day in the life of three or four of the "other" Ostriches, but I molded the idea to include the three main chracters and to advance the stories that were developing. The three plots split out as follows:

Leonard and Debra get together again, but this time there's a twist. It turns out she is the General's mistress and has been fooling around with Leonard just to sink her claws into some younger meat. Reminds me of a lot of women I know here in Denver. And those are always good memories, even if they are just using you. I also wanted to poke a little fun at the fact that to a guy, being used as a piece of meat is not necessarily a bad thing. Just when the tone of the story starts to get mushy, Leo shrugs it off and goes in for sloppy seconds.

Kurt's story pulls in more of a script Mojo had written months earlier. It deals with racial profiling and the absurdity of extending political correctness to our enemies. It reminds us also of the pussification of the Academy in the THM world and parallels it to real life. This portion also sets up the mask joke, which is developed in the next couple episodes.

And then there's Harvey. I had an idea years ago to have Harvey and Dante get stuck in an elevator together and have them open up to each other and come to some kind of common ground. This eventually evolved into Harvey and Dante running into a real gang together. At first, they would rely on Dante's "street smarts" to get them out of trouble, but Harvey, the dumb white guy, ends up being the one who saves the day. Back in 2000, we also had a joke at work about the floating hot dog visual illusion and how funny it would be if that were a gang sign and the gang were called the Floatin' Dogs. Those two ideas went together like chocolate and peanut butter to form the whole Floatin' Dogs subplot.

Title:
Since the majority of this episode was to take place away from the cadet area, I tried to think of a name that reflected that. A couple of the ideas were "Off the Hill" and "Over the Fence." I went with "One Day Pass," since it sounds a little more generic and applied pretty well to the three subplots.

Development:
Holy shit. This was the longest development time yet. I started on the script in early 2005. By Christmas of 2005, I had the first part of the episode done. Pretty much everything up to where the Floatin' Dogs make their appearance.

2006 was a great year for business. My consulting company was kicking ass all year. On top of that, I got my real estate license, and I started four companies. Talk about crazy. I never lost sight of THM. It was always on the end of my to-do list, wich meant it carried over from weekend to weekend. I finally took a huge chunk out of the second half of the episode over Thanksgiving. Then I had it finished by Christmas.



The original floatin' dogs animation made back in 2000. It was tweaked for the better six years later.

   

Not surprisingly, it ended up being the longest episode in the lineup.

The floating hot dog visual illusion part was actually created back in 2000 when we joked about the gang sign. It didn't however, have a background behind the hands. Coincidentally, this was the first episode built in Flash 8, the first version of Flash to allow blurring. So, blurring Leonard in the background was accomplished through Flash's built-in functionality, and it didn't require the more complex workaround that I would have had to use before.

Oh, and here's the Tom Shane story: My radio station played a Tom Shane commercial immediately following Paul Harvey's segment every morning. This was right about the time during my routine I would get out of the shower and walk to the closet, so I heard one of his commercials every damn morning. What really caught my attention was that Mr. Shane would carry on these conversations with people, but if you listened closely, it didn't sound like the two participants were even in the same room with each other. It sounded spliced together in editing. I then wondered in Mr. Shane went in and recorded his ad and then put a bunch of one syllable acknowledgements in there for good measure. "Mmm." "Hmm." "Yes." "Right." "Um-hm."

Then it hit me. I could make my own Tom Shane commercial if I had all of his little interjections recorded. So, every morning I would run out to my stereo right before I knew his commercial would be on. I recorded a series of Shane Co. commercials and transferred them to digital. Then I had an arsenal of "yeahs" and "hmms." After making my commercial, I decided this would be a great addition to Episode 18, since Leonard needed something to do while alone in his car. Most of the THM audience is familiar with Tom Shane anyway.

Characters:
The banner that was advertising the episode for two years gave away the chracters from the beginning. Harvey, Kurt, Leonard, General Goerbells, and Dante.

In Episode 18, these five are featured away from the usual grind on the hill.

Outside of that, there were a few old favorites and handful of new characters. Major Major, Debra Flinn, and Tsgt Hey made a return. I had to draw a whole new street gang and a couple new terrorists, too.

Also of note is the fact that Toner and Sounderson finally went head-to-head. Years ago Mojo and I were discussing sentence finishers, and we came up with the idea of locking two of them in a room together. Theoretically, they would try finishing each other's sentences, causing a feedback loop and eventually causing them both to go deaf. It took over four years to tell this one joke. That fact alone cracks me up. Also, it is finally revealed why they are called TONEr and SOUNDerson. Ironic that they both go deaf, don't you think?

Favorite moments:
The scary music part leading up to the corpse outside Debra's door, Harvey taking his turn punching Dante, and this "friending" thing. The Walmart joke cracks me up, too. Probably because I have worked in economic development for over four years.

So there you have it. If you've made it this far, you are a better man than I.