Thursday, September 15, 2011
A video I made for this song that I posted last week and also made. I don't really like this video. I do think one part of it is funny. This part happens about 5 seconds in. I also think the video is funny if I imagine myself going on a job interview that goes relatively well. Afterwards, the potential employer googles my name while vaguely thinking nostalgically about when Google didn't exist, and he didn't google things, and 'googling' wasn't a word, and was this better for everyone not googling things, and do you have to earn information in order for it to mean anything to you, that seems to make sense until you actually think about it for more than 2 seconds, then it just seems like weird, privileged bullshit, he went to college, he went to college before wikipedia, he wonders if it's easier now, it was actually pretty easy back then, and he ends up watching a video of the young man that was just sitting in front of him wearing a suit and talking about business goals wearing lipstick and mumbling nonsense. Not funny in a way I'd actually laugh at though. Just kinda funny.
I almost started typing about when you make something and you immediately don't really like it (which, for me, happens a lot of the time), or you grow not to like it (which, for me, happens most the time), or you make something and hate it, but other people seem to genuinely like it (which, for me, happens some of the time), and I started thinking about how I heard REM's NIGHTSWIMMING on the radio the other day.
I've been listening to the radio more in the past couple of weeks than I have in the past 15 years. Only because I'm in the car more often and I keep forgetting my iPod in my apartment. The radio's weird. I don't know if it's the programming or because I haven't listened since I was a teenager, but it's like putting on a time capsule from the mid 90s. No matter what station I put on, I almost immediately start thinking about long-forgotten middle school dances I went to. Or at least my car takes on the emotional texture of a 1993 middle school dance. Awkwardness, uncertainty, hormones, Young MC lyrics. The other day I drove to the supermarket and sat in the parking lot for 3 minutes before I went in, mentally reliving the video for PM Dawn's SET ADRIFT ON MEMORY BLISS in its entirety.
I like REM. I listened to REM in middle school. I probably listened to them in high school too. In this millennium, I don't think I've listened to REM without being in a pharmacy, supermarket, or movie theater. When NIGHTSWIMMING came on my car radio I first thought of writing a tweet somehow combining REM and CVS.
NIGHTSWIMMING seems like a song that people could find really 'emotional' or 'connect to' and/or play at their wedding, or after a divorce. It seems like a bittersweet ballad that means something. It also seems weirdly 'half-assed' and 'thrown off' and generally shitty. Halfway through listening to it, I realized what the band probably intended it to sound like was the scene in a musical where the poor showgirl, or poor nightclub singer is rehearsing with her put-upon and also poor piano player and they launch into a small, unaccompanied, fake improvised, emotional ballad in an empty theater. What it started to sound like to me was a guy that always had dreams of becoming a successful lyricist, but ended up being a kindergarten teacher that lives with his Mom, knocking out an improvised tune with a second grade piano prodigy, loosely based on a high school poem he wrote, before the kids come in for play practice.
The word 'Nightswimming' is repeated over 40,000 times.
This led me to wonder if Michael Stipe likes NIGHTSWIMMING. Or any of REM's more embarrassing songs like SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE, or 60% of their catalog. Or if he regrets it. I imagined him not putting out records past GREEN. I imagined him firing that Tiny Tim guy. I imagined him as a kindergarten teacher jamming with a second grade piano prodigy wondering if he shouldn't have broken up REM.
I decided Michael Stipe's cool with his life choices.
Related: I played a lot of SIM CITY 2000 instead of working when I was in college. Remembering this, I searched for and downloaded SIM CITY 2000 a couple of weeks ago. I now play a lot of SIM CITY 2000 instead of working while not in college.
Not related: My friends run this very good literary site called Red Lightbulbs and they're specifically looking for comics submissions.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
I drew this poster for the Dylan Williams benefit. You can bid on a print of it here. You can look at a lot of other art for it here.
I got my copy of Catch-Up in the mail yesterday, and it's a really great looking magazine filled with slightly oversized, full-color comics. It's awesome. I have a 2 page story in it. Their site is here.
In other news:
- I have this recurring fantasy where I rent a storefront on the main commercial strip near my apartment. I decorate it to look like a dog grooming place and massage parlor. I don't spend much money doing this. I put up a sign on the outside that says 'Dog Massages.' I spend some money on the sign to get it to look as professional as possible. As I get a slow trickle of customers bringing their dogs in, I explain to each one that we don't offer massages for dogs. We offer massages for people performed by dogs. Then they leave while I slowly giggle through my asthmatic lungs. For the few people that stay expecting a paw rubdown, I explain to them that this entire operation is a front for a pretty bad joke. Then they leave while I slowly giggle through my asthmatic lungs. I feel like this is the only business I would want to get involved in at this point in my life.
- I haven't told this story to too many people partly because it's kind of boring, but mostly because the job that the antagonist seems to have and the job that I sometimes get paid to do makes it seem too obviously metaphorical and therefore completely fictional, but it did actually happen.
I was riding the bus into Manhattan a couple of weeks ago. I was headed to a job interview. I was wearing a suit. For half the ride I was sitting with an empty seat next to me. In an attempt to prepare myself for the interview I was taking up more room than I normally do to try to seem 'socially dominant.' I didn't go to business school, but I assume that all that occurs there is they just show students videos of gorillas for four years. Or maybe they study the movie CONGO. So I sat there, legs taking up as much space as possible, mirroring what I imagined one of those evil gorillas from CONGO would look like sitting on a New Jersey Transit bus, muttering "I'm not Amy, I live in a fucking volcano. Try to steal my giant diamonds, motherfucker."
The bus started to get crowded. A five foot tall, chubby, bald man in a suit with no tie carrying a plastic bag filled with papers sat down next to me. Because I was taking up the same amount of room as one of Rick Baker's monkey puppets, he sat on the bottom left side of my suit jacket. He immediately got on his phone while I tried to pull it from underneath him. He began a horrifying monologue.
From what I could gather, he was some sort of art director that was somehow involved in building 3-D graphics for websites. Most of his conversation though, dealt with his attempts to not pay the artists that worked for him. A lot of it contained the words "Fuck them, they don't know any better."
As I tugged on my jacket a little harder, I started to get angry. I've been those unpaid artists. My friends have been those unpaid artists. But most importantly this dude was totally unrealistic. If I were to create a completely fictional arch villain for myself it would probably be a talentless, tiny, art director that fucks people out of money and doesn't know how to act on a bus.
I finally said "Excuse me, you're sitting on my jacket" while staring at him. He said "Hold on" and gave me a dirty look. "You're sitting on my jacket." He sighed at me. I yanked it free. He went back to talking on the phone.
Then he shifted slightly and dropped his bag full of papers. They spilled all over our feet. He peered at me like it was my fault. After frustratingly gathering them all back up he put the bag on my left leg. By now I had shifted as close to the other side of the seat as I could. This act seemed insane to me. I slowly moved my leg and let the papers fall back on the floor. He glared angrily at me again.
After picking them back up a second time, he put the bag on the other side of us in the aisle. It was only seconds before someone else kicked it over. I felt like I was winning this social challenge. He was the bumbling Tim Curry character to my evil CONGO gorilla. As he finished picking up his belongings again though, my jacket slid underneath him.
"You're sitting on my jacket again." He said "Hold on," and turned towards me. "My jacket." He sighed in response, disgusted and went back to talking on the phone.
I began to wonder why we weren't communicating. Maybe he couldn't hear me. Maybe the person on the other end of the phone was talking as much as he was so there was just endless static noise in the conversation. Maybe I didn't exist, and none of this was happening.
We pulled into the port authority. He ended his phone call. He went to put his phone in his pants pocket and laid his head on my lap. I hit some sort of weird emotional intersection between angry, amused and complete confusion. I couldn't believe what was occurring. He struggled getting the phone into his pocket. He nestled his face on my crotch for about 20 seconds. In those 20 seconds I began to completely question my existence. The only realistic explanation for what was happening that I could come up with was that I was a ghost. "That's crazy," I thought, "But maybe I'm like an emotion that thinks it's a person, or I'm the bus seat and have attained consciousness, or people can't see me because I'm a living dream." I started to breathe heavily.
I said "Dude" as loud as I could. No response. "Dude! You're laying on my lap." No response. I shifted my hips. He was still trying to get his phone in his pocket. "Dude, what the fuck are you doing?" I said quietly. Nothing stopped him. He finally finished putting his phone away, got up and got off the bus to go on with his life. Leaving me with deep questions about myself and the nature of reality. I got off the bus. An earthquake happened.
(I did shoulder-bump him going down the stairs to the subway, so there was a small taste of vengeance.)
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
It took me maybe 4 years, but I was finally able to scrape enough money together to purchase a new computer. The computer I had been using was a 6 or 7 year old laptop. As technology evolved through the years, my computer and I struggled to keep up. I disabled Flash. I got used to reading websites with all of the text jumbled on top of itself. I imagined what videos were like from the thumbnail. I became more patient. I gave up being able to do advanced actions on sites like press buttons or enter text in text fields.
But eventually the gaping black boxes on most websites became gaping black holes in my soul. I was a man in 2005 watching 2011 happening in wide shot, crouching behind a barrier that suggested I update my browser. I was obsolete.
My technological leap through time has been a reawakening. Websites load moments after navigating to them. I can put my name and even my thoughts inside text fields. I can watch 1,000 hours of Youtube. I can press the 'read more' button. I can fucking infinitely scroll.
I also, for the first time, have a built-in webcam. Feeling that I should take full advantage of all the new computer has to offer, I took a picture of myself between 5 to 10 minutes after waking up every day for the last few weeks of July.
On top of owning a computer, I also own a mailbox. While I mostly get mail addressed to a guy that lived here 8 years ago, sometimes people send me things. Often after getting it I think 'I should take a picture of this and post it on my blog like other people do when they get mail.' Then I get distracted by writing COCOON fan-fiction, and wondering if AI was meant to be a sequel to THE BIG CHILL.
This was sent to me by Micheal Van Vleet and includes a mix CD with a nice handmade cover, the book THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN YO-YO that weirdly smells exactly like San Francisco, and a sticker that contains both a frog and a message.
This is a copy of the comic VIRGINIA that I drew and was written by Sam Humphries. He printed a few up to give out at San Diego Comic Con and they came out pretty nice looking.
My other big acquisition in July was a local library card. I have been a member of the New York Public Library for years mostly so that I can imitate that scene from GHOSTBUSTERS where they run down the library steps every time I have a late fee or a old lady tells me to be quiet. I am now able to go to the library in my town. Surprisingly they have a smaller selection than the Manhattan library. For some reason though, they do have every X-MEN trade paperback collection published between 2003-2008. I ruined some 10 year old's summer by checking them all out a couple of weeks ago. Mostly these comics are pretty forgettable, but there was a scene from one that has haunted me since I read it.
The X-Men are searching their mansion/school/headquarters for a hidden villain. Iceman and Polaris are tasked with searching the kitchen. When they get down there the kitchen contains horrified-looking, dead or dying pigs hanging from the ceiling. This is not mentioned at all in the dialogue making it seem like this is completely normal.