Monday, February 28, 2005

Illustration Friday (on Monday, for a change.)

Yes! Once again, it's Illustration Friday! When I read that the subject was Jazz, the first thought that came to mind was… a jazz man playing sax! So I decided to do the opposite.


All right, I know you're looking at this and thinking, "Wow, this guy's a fothermucking genius! I'd love to read the fascinating things he types into his blog every other day!" Well, NOW YOU CAN! With no money down (unless you really want to) click here to peruse the whole gosh-darn thing!


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Doing it Buy the Book. (God, I love puns.)

They've put a Borders right by where I'm working (Columbus Circle.) I've been on a Vonnegut kick lately, so I decided to pick up a new paperback to read on the subway.

~Note~ "Why don't I just go to the library, when it's right around the corner from my apartment?" I hear you cry. Because the Queens Public Library sucks hamster testicles. It's set up like a bookstore- you have a romance section, a sci-fi section, a western section… etc. Their sci-fi section consists only of the same crap you usually find in a mall bookstore these days- Star Trek and D&D Serials. I've read my share, but a library is where you're supposed to be able to find the REAL sci-fi- the stuff they don't make anymore. Masters like Ray Bradbury, Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison, Robert Sheckley… The fiction section is like an airport bookstore: Danielle Steel, Michael Crichton, Stephen King… you get the picture. (Not that I don't like Michael Crichton & Stephen King… well, the old Stephen King, anyway. Back when he was on coke.) Besides Slaughterhouse 5 for the required reading of high schoolers, the library is sans-Vonnegut.

ANYHOO… Borders has a large selection of both sci-fi and Vonnegut books. Unfortunately, all the Vonnegut books were trade paperbacks. For those of you who don't know, a trade paperback is a paperback that is printed on larger paper than a regular paperback, and costs twice as much. Almost all the paperbacks in this Borders are trade paperbacks. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to pay $15 for a paperback. A paperback should not cost almost as much as a DVD.

I remember when I was a Waldenbooks manager. This was in the mid-nineties when they began phasing the damn things in. Customers would ask me why they should buy a trade paperback when they were twice the price of a regular paperback. I would just shrug, unable to give them some line of bullshit. I resisted the urge to say, "Because the publishing companies realize that you want to buy something cheap, so they're working to replace what you buy with something twice the price. They're giving you something of equal worth, (the book's not any longer, is it?) but charge you twice as much because the pages are a few square inches larger. This is the same rationalizing that restaurants use to get you to pay $10 for fifty cents worth of spaghetti: they give you twice as much as you can possibly eat, and charge you much more than what it's worth for the excess. Don't even get me started on the popcorn-soda situation at the movie theater."

Fortunately, I found a good-old-fashioned, $7.99 paperback in sci-fi, a collection of Alfred Bester short stories called Redemolished. There's nothing like reading the masters.



Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Illustration Friday (on Tuesday- again.)

Once again, it's Illustration Friday! This week's uplifting topic is Sorrow.

You figure it out.

I know you're dying to look at my previous posts, so why not just give in to temptation and click here! Go on, nobody's looking. Don't be ashamed.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Sorry, no W. Porn Today

"Bush Exposes Himself on Tape" -this was the AOL headline yesterday. Not that I want to see any W porn, but the actual story isn't anywhere near as funny as I first thought it would be.

Although W. is a nincompoop in many, many ways, it always makes me giggle when I come across a "conventional wisdom" about him that didn't prove true. For example, how many times did you hear pundits insist, "Bush is going to 'find' Bin Ladin/ the WMDs in Iraq the week before the election!" Nope. Didn't happen.

Besides, everyone knows that Bin Ladin is working at a 7-11 in NJ. (drum fill.) And if you want WMDs, there's a nut-job in North Korea who keeps jumping up and down and waving his hands in the air, screaming, "Yoo-hoo, over here!" But I guess we're going to let China wipe him out when he gets out of line. They deserve their share of the fun too.

This world has just become too goddamn confusing.

On a happy note, this is the 10th anniversary of my first date with Jennifer. I've shared almost a third of my life with this precious angel. It was a Tuesday. We went out to dinner where I impressed her with my flaming wallet trick (whatever happened to that thing?) and then we saw Pulp Fiction. How's that for romantic? On a bizarre note, almost every girl I've gone out with, I either met or had our first date on a Tuesday. Weird.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Those Hemlines Just Keep on Ripping!

Once again, the United States military is screwing its own over in the name of being PC. If you haven't been following the funnier side of the news, a few weeks ago, an MP party in Iraq got a bit on the wild side. Some female soldiers stripped down to their undies and proceeded to mud-wrestle- and one particular nineteen-year-old female soldier named Deanna Allen decided to flash her ample bosom.

Understandably, all the men (and some women) present took her picture. What isn't understandable is why this event became national front page news. What makes me angry is that the media would not have given two shits if this had happened anywhere except in the military. But since it happened in Iraq, it's front page news. Unbef**kinglievable.

So of course, the military is making an example of her. They demoted her from SPC to PFC and are drumming her out. Never mind everyone else at the party who was cheering her on- their bosoms weren't front page news. In a perfect world, the Pentagon's response would have been as follows:

"Dear America. We understand your lurid fascination with this story. However, please take you heads out of your collective asses. Here is a young woman who has volunteered to serve her country. She went to a foreign land to try to keep your behinds safe. While most of this country just wants to bitch about this world's problems, she has risked her life to make a stand and try to make it better. Some of our soldiers had a party and it got out of control. We'll take care of it, but frankly, we think that after two years of dodging bullets and being bombed and being away from home to save your sorry asses, our soldiers should be forgiven if they cut loose a little. If this happened to some rich college girl at a frat house party, a million excuses would be made that she was "under pressure from her studies," etc. Well, this woman and her fellow soldiers are under more pressure than you schmucks can possibly imagine. Leave it alone. If you want to see bosoms, just turn on HBO. Thank you, and goodnight."

Now- the part that reaches up my ass, grabs hold of my intestines and twists:

According to today's NY Daily News: "Ten serial rapists are serving in the U.S. military and have sexually assaulted dozens of fellow soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, a watchdog group charged yesterday." So the Pentagon wants to hide rapists, but make an example out of a good soldier who partied just a little too much.



Thursday, February 17, 2005

Pranks for the Memories.

Obscure memories seem to just pop into my mind, quite unbidden. Some are good, many are quite embarrassing. But most of them are entirely useless:

I can remember what almost anyone was wearing the first time we met. (Jennifer was wearing a denim shirt & jeans. Both of my children had the audacity to be naked.) I can dig up a plethora of obscure memories on just about anyone I know. I remember when Mary was born- when she came home from the hospital Elena & I were watching Halloween is Grinch Night. I remember when Dave Haenggi & I were in elementary school & would draw sci-fi battle scenes all over our desks. Mrs. Henry was pretty cool about it and let them stay that way until we pretty much smudged both the desks and our hands up with graphite. I remember my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Peggy Ormand, telling us on a daily basis that we were all her children and she loved us all. Utterly useless memories that pop into my mind when I'm trying to concentrate on something useful, like how to calculate amperage. If someone would make a sim card for the brain that I could store all this stuff in and remove for archiving, I would pay good hard cash for one.

The most bizzare trick of memory I have happened when I was in fourth grade. I was in a children's community theater production. One of the songs was "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." (I was the mayor of Munchkinville.) Anyhoo, for some bizzare reason, the memory of director Jay Barre's choreographing us adorable munchkins has popped into my mind at least once a month for the past twenty-four years. Those specific few minutes received prime brain space. I'm sure when I'm in a nursing home and drooling on myself, unable to remember my children's names, that memory will keep resurfacing.



Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Illustration Friday (on Wednesday- again.)

Once again, it's time for Illustration Friday! This week's topic is Flight (click on the pic above for the whole thing!) I tried my best, but I couldn't think of anything sick and twisted this week- so I decided to go for whimsical. For sick and twisted, check out my previous pics, Year of the Rooster and Friendship.

For those interested in the downright adorable, check out Jennifer's entry at her blog.

Now, why are you just looking at this picture when there's so many more fascinating brain drippings all around you! Click here to be drowned in them! Go on! Be the envy of all your friends!


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Out of Me Head

More and more, I find myself afraid of being squished between the cogs of bureaucracy. I suppose it comes from watching Brazil to many times.

Every once in a while, I'll look at a word I've typed a gazillion times and wonder if I've spelled it right. Does this happen to anyone else?

Friday night, some friends & I went to Hooters. For those of you who don't know, Hooters is a restaurant where you're served by human Barbie Dolls who pretend to flirt with you for larger tips (see the South Park episode "Raisins" for a great portrayal.) It's a fun illusion, much better than sitting in a cheap dive looking at other depressed construction workers- as long as you keep in mind that it's an illusion. Well, somebody at the table next to ours didn't quite understand this. He kept begging the young lady for her phone number. "I'm not allowed to date customers," she kept saying, a smile plastered to her face. "Think about it." Finally, they just rotated her with another server. We left at this point, so I don't know if he tried his moves on the next young lady or not. He wasn't a bad guy, he just bought too much into the illusion. All in all, the experience reminds me of a comment Kurt Vonnegut made in Hocus Pocus, that in nowhere but America is sex promised so much and prohibited so much. It occurred to my Heineken-saturated brain that I was sitting inside of advertising turned real life.

On another note, I was surprised at how many couples were patronizing the restaurant. I asked our Barbie Doll about it, and she said that a lot of guys took their girlfriends there on dates. If I had ever taken a girlfriend (or my wife) to Hooters on a date, I probably would have gotten a good slap and a lecture.

When I was in seventh grade English class, Ms. Birzdeck (sp?) told us that time dragged on when you were younger, but it sped up faster and faster as you got older. Of course, we didn't believe her. Now there doesn't seem to be enough time for anything. I half-expected that if this happened, it would be when I was OLD, not old-er. At least I can have the comfort that my senile years will be over quick!


Friday, February 11, 2005

Muppets in Mourning

If you have a Quicktime plugin, check this one out: Over Time. As far as I can figure out, it's an operatic representation of what the Muppets did the day Jim Henson died. Quite beautiful.

Another favorite CGI animation is The Cathedral, which somehow lost the Short Animated Film Oscar at the 75th Academy Awards to the insipid The Chubchubs. Well, actually, it's obvious why a beautiful work of art made by unknowns from Poland would lose to a cute, topical cartoon with dancing aliens from Sony Pictures' Imageworks (damn my cynicism.)

As long as I'm cynically plugging short animated film Oscar losers, you might want to also check out Fifty Percent Gray (though I do like that year's winner For the Birds by Pixar, so I'm not begrudging anything. This time.)


Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Few Changes in the Editorial Dept.

Those of you who have been paying attention may notice that I've deleted the chronicles of my adventures at Penguin Electric. I chose to do this because I'd made some unkind portrayals of co-workers who had pissed me off at the time.

There's something in psychology called the Fundamental Attribution Error. This means what when we have a confrontation with someone, we think only of the situation we are in. We're not thinking about the type of person we are. But we don't think about how other people are also only concerned with the situation themselves, we just instantly judge the type of person they are. I realized that I would not want someone taking a verbal snapshot of me on a bad day and putting it up for the world to see, so I shouldn't be doing it to someone else. The first rule of survival is always do unto others before they do unto you.



Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Illustration Friday (on Wednesday!)

Illustration Friday gives a topic of the week to draw. This week's is Year of the Rooster. I wracked my brains a bit before I came up with this one. Come to think of it, who came up with the word "wrack?" Think about it. It's a pretty strange word. Maybe originally it came from "the rack," as in, "I put my wife on the rack today for not bearing me any male children." Who knows.

The beautiful and multitalented French Toast Girl has been mentioned in the April issue of Artist's Sketchbook Magazine. The bastards only gave her a small column on the bottom of page six, but we're working on them with rubber hoses. More to come.

My previous IF post was Friendship. Hey, why you're at it, why not click here and read the whole damn thing? What are you waiting for? I'm sure your boss has blocked anything more interesting from your computer anyway. Go ahead!


Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Porn & I

I'm taking college courses online at the University of Maryland. I have to take a one-credit course in how to look up things on the internet. I suppose this sort of research course is required at any college, but really, I can't help seeing it as a waste of time & money. I took PSYC 100 before taking this course, and I got a 98% on my research paper. There should be some way of CLEPing out of this one. Hell, I should teach this course. Who can't search for items on the internet? The only problem is filtering out the porn (if, of course, that's what you want to do) as any web search somehow always leads back to porn.

Mind you, I'm not complaining! I understand that the internet would not exist without porn. Porn, and people looking for inside information about Star Wars Episode III. Or combining the two, searching for those paparazzi pictures of Natalie Portman nude on the beach… hypothetically speaking, of course.

Anyhoo, maybe that would make a good thesis statement for this basket-weaving course: "Although many consider porn the bane of the internet, it is so integral to the world wide web that if the porn were to disappear, the internet would collapse and suck itself out of existence like a black hole."

(If you notice, I used the word "porn" eight times in this blog. Any boost in my Google rating because of this is purely circumstantial.)



Thursday, February 03, 2005

Intrinsic Depression

I recently found a box in my parents' garage with all my scribblings, stories, and sketches from time immemorial. The sad truth is that most of them were in my school notebooks, which is how I got where I am today- but that's a kvetch for another blog.

I found a Dr. Who novel I wrote (the term "fanfiction" hadn't been invented yet) when I was in high school. I remember that my friend Wendy was extremely pissed that I left it on a cliffhanger. The good news is that it's terrible- and by that, I mean my style, plotting and characterizations have vastly improved over the years.

The bad news, which made cry as I thumbed through it, was that I've completely lost the sense of intrinsic joy I had about writing when I wrote it. I used to love putting my ideas on paper and not caring at all about the aforementioned plotting, style, etc. I didn't care if I'd ever sell it- I just had a sense that someday I would, and until then I had fun letting my imagination run wild.

These days, I kill myself before I start. That little gremlin at the back of my mind keeps whispering that I'm 32 and still haven't gotten my career going, so whatever I do, it better be sales-worthy- and whatever I do will never be good enough. What I do write these days is extremely dark. (My friend Craig J. Quack's feedback usually ranges from "You are one dark mamajamma," to "This made me want to commit suicide.") Even when I try to be funny, I'm really just being biting and cynical. Maybe I've just become a different person. I also spend more time bitching about published work than actually doing my own. (Like how Stephen King ruined his Dark Tower series by making himself a character in it and not bothering to write an ending, and how The Davinci Code reads like it was written by a sixth grader. Sorry, but "people said he looked like Harrison Ford" is NOT characterization, goddamn it!) See, there I go again!

Another problem is time. These days, the only time I really churn out words like I used to is when I'm laid off and have the day free. When I'm working, I catch the bus at 5:30, and when I get home I'm pretty much wiped out and useless. If I want to get anything worthwhile done, I'll have to get up at about three, which means I'll have to go to bed at seven- maybe eight. Just how committed am I, anyway?

I'm working on a second draft of a book I've been writing for a few years. I'm captivated when I read through it by the depth of the characters, by the ideas I mixed to (hopefully) create something new, by the detail of the world I've created. However, it's so depressing that even I don't want to read it, much less show it to anyone. Maybe I'll just shelve it until I baseline some Prozac, or until I get the Kids in the Hall DVD set. Whichever comes first.



Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Analyze Me 2

Last night I dreamt that a girl from school tracked me down. She said that a Vorlon was giving her nightmares every night, telling her to come see me. Kosh (they are all Kosh) told her that he needed my help. I said I'd love to, but my TARDIS wasn't working anymore.

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, I am such a geek.



Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Illustration Friday (on Tuesday!)

2007 addendum:
(This is an archive, btw- click HERE to read the new stuff!)
Thanks- Tony

Illustration Friday gives a topic of the week to draw. This week's is FRIENDSHIP. A true friend would give a friend in need a new brain. God knows I need one.