Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Misery and Bukowski and Real Life Rock



Miserable, miserable, miserable.

I was miserable yesterday and miserable the day before yesterday and today I was, like, "Yeah! I'm not miserable!" Then something happened and I'm totally miserable.

I won't say what happened because then I'll be worried the wrong person will see this or I'll have to block people when I post it on Facebook, and then I'll forget I blocked them from just this link and it will default to always blocking them and one day they'll be, like, "Hey Mick, you don't post anymore," and it will be a thing so whatever.

But I'm glad because I'm going out. Usually I plan to go out and then I'm miserable and I think it would be much more rewarding to stay home and be miserable. But not tonight. Don't know why tonight is the night I'm going to do something that makes sense. I guess I figured out all the other shit doesn't stop me from being miserable, so why not go where there are people?

Nothing exciting. Just going to go somewhere to read and write; the kind of place you can read and write and still be among people. I'm not sure where yet. Probably the place I know better. I kind of want to go to the place I don't know as well. It's closer. But it's smaller and the crowd is younger and I fear they will wonder who this old pervert is and I'll be, like, "This old pervert has a name! And you can find it on many sexual offender websites."

And I'm thinking, hey, maybe this could be the routine. I come home from work, throw food at the cats, throw some food in my face (and maybe update the blog while I eat), change my clothes, then go out. Somewhere. Somewhere I can read and write but not be stuck in an apartment.

Reading Bukowski cheered me up today. Isn't that weird? I think it's weird. I would not, if confronted by a miserable literature lover, say to them, "Read some Bukowski. It'll cheer you up." But it did.

I think it's because Bukowski, or the Bukowski he creates in his poems, is so accepting. Not happy, not particularly sane, but accepting. An asshole, but an accepting asshole. Yes, I'm broke and me and this woman are stuck in a motel with cops banging on the door, so I guess that's what life is now. Something so much more serene than all the shit I hear at the meetings about staircases; like fake it til you make it or let go and let God or serenity prayers or coins.

Of course, he was kind of an asshole.

I discovered something interesting this morning. Months ago I picked a bunch of books that I designated as my daily readers; that I would read just a little bit out of every day, books that seemed perfectly designed for just that. One of them is Real Life Rock, a collection of columns by Greil Marcus, mostly talking about music but also working in current events, films, novels, even just funny little moments he experienced. A friend introduced me to his stuff. He's brilliant, digging to a level you did not think could be reached with words, so much so that sometimes I honestly can't tell whether or not he liked whatever the hell he's talking about.

Anyway, reading one of Marcus's columns this morning relaxed me. Just relaxed me. Made me feel ready for writing, made me feel like this was always what I was supposed to do before writing. Reading something else, something you can depend on to be interesting and brief.

I like that.

Okay, time to post this stupid thing and go be somewhere else.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

No Future



I don't really know if there's any point to this.

I'm at Starbucks. I don't want to be at Starbucks. I'm not all Starbucks-hatey or anything, I just don't really want to be anywhere. I'm just going insane and I need to do something.

Yeah, so that whole sleep schedule thing? I was going to go to bed at 7:30 pm and wake up at 2:30 am? That's over. That's done. I felt just as miserable as always, and I felt trapped. I felt like I had forced myself onto a stupid, narrow little path. A path where I would see no one but the people at my day job and my cats.

So I'm back to my old schedule. Wake up around 4:30 am. Go to bed usually between 9:30 and 10. I have more than enough time to write if I don't spend all my time fucking around.

I really don't know how to live my life as me. Which seems silly. I've gotten a lot of practice. I have much more practice living life as me than I do living life as Kurt Russell or Meg Ryan or Denzel Washington, but somehow this idea of me living life as me is just so fucking colossal and stupidly insurmountable.

See, here's the thing, here's the problem. It's fortune telling. It's psychic powers. It's seeing the road ahead and seeing the twists and turns and knowing what's coming.

There's this Nine Inch Nails song; "Every Day Is Exactly The Same." And if you asked me to name a song that described my life, I might not name that song just because I wouldn't want to drag the mood down but, believe me, the fucking title would come to mind.

And the opening lines are, "I believe I can see the future/'Cause I repeat the same routine."

Which, now that I think about it, might be kind of redundant because that's what a routine is; repeating things. But whatever. He sold more albums than me. Doesn't matter.

I mention those lines, because I guess that's how I feel and what I think. I think this is what life is now, and since this is what life is now, this is what life will always be. And I know that's not right, unless I make it right. Unless I believe in it enough to make it that way.

We can do that, you know. We're fucking amazing; all of us. Like with fucking super powers.

For years, I thought I was hugely fat. Like, you know, the kind of fat that can't find clothes that fit unless you special order. The kind of fat you always hear about in some obscure story about some poor schmuck so huge they needed a construction vehicle to get them out of their apartment.

And I wasn't. I really wasn't. I was big, and yeah I was fat, but I wasn't that fat. And I look at pictures of myself now from before, from college, from right after college, and I don't know how I thought I was so fat. If I goddamn saw a guy who looked like I looked in college right now, I would hate that motherfucker for all of the sex I would assume he was having.

But I thought it. I believed it. And it took time, but I made it true. I got to 400 pounds before I decided to turn around and do something different.

I don't want to make this true again.

So I'm in Starbucks.

I am afraid, whether I find any financial success with my writing, that devotion to my writing will keep me alone. That I will live long and miserable and alone. By the time I'm old enough to die, everyone who would've come to my funeral will already be dead, so the only people at my funeral will be some guys with shovels. Maybe the guy who owns whatever comic book shop I'm frequenting at the time. He will be mourning a fat profit margin.

On weekdays, I leave my day job for my home and everything in me turns into something else. Until I leave for work I am alive and enjoying being alive and I have a sense of humor and I'm okay with this whole concept of other people existing and needing things from me, and then somewhere on 787, usually once we're past the I-90 merge and things are slowing down because of the inevitable accident near exit 9W, I remember what's coming. I remember that once I get into the apartment, that's it, man. I'll feed the cats, and then the time for doing things will stop. It will be time to be miserable and alone in dark rooms, desperately trying for something new to watch on Netflix that looks like something I might want to watch. It may be that I will have made plans.  Plenty of plans. Good, productive, laudable plans.  Reading and writing and cleaning and organizing and nothing that will happen. It will just be me, sitting somewhere, probably with cats on me, trying to not think about how alone I am but inevitably thinking about how alone I feel and wondering if it's possible that I will find the love of my life if I never leave my apartment and honestly wondering whether or not meeting the love of my life is, in fact, a thing I should do. A thing I should want. I think about those people who are single and have been single for ages and are totally fine being single and prefer being single and probably wear I Am Single Bitches badges and regularly trip any couples they see just for fun and wonder if I should be more like them. I think they are stronger than me and more powerful than me and they will write more and read more and accomplish more than me.

So I'm in Starbucks. Because I can't fucking stand being in that place all day. It's Saturday and I've got nowhere to be and I've got plenty I could do at home, but I just can't fucking stand being there all day. Because while I'm there, it's just me and there's no chance. No chance I will strike up a conversation. No friends to make. No new lovers to meet. Just me and my cats and my imagination and my various computers and comic books and toys.

And I mean, here, in Starbucks, probably no one's going to talk to me except when I go up to order coffee or if someone wants to, like, steal a chair from my table. But it could happen. It won't, but it could.

This is the best I can do. The most I can come out of hiding. This is it. Being among people while doing shit that keeps me separate from people. I don't start conversations with people I don't know. I don't flirt or pick up women. I do all the shit I would do if I did the shit I said I was going to do at home, at home.

I need to learn to be okay being alone. I'm trying.

It's hard.

And I think I'm a little hung over, too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Letting go



Trying something new today. It might be stupid. We'll see.

My existence is becoming very Jekyll/Hyde, with the transformation inspired not by chemicals or emotion, but by time.

In the morning, I am fucking glorious. Who thought I would ever be a "Morning Person?" Not me. Not me when I was writing all night in college and begging off any classes that started before 11 am. Not me when I was working the vampire shift at a public radio station.

But that's what I've become, out of necessity. Most of my writing gets done in the morning. It has to, because by the time I get home from my day job, I am spent. I am done. I can make all the plans I want, but if the day is a day whose name ends with a Y, then there's a very good chance that any planned or unplanned activity that does not have to do with dinner, my recliner, and/or Netflix will be laughed at and forgotten. Like Mike Dukakis.

I do not know how you people with children do it. Because you get home and you don't have a choice because your children are still there and bouncing around like little assholes. Maybe there's a lesson there to be learned. I'll never know.

Yesterday was something of an extreme and perfect example. I started off the day the best way I could. I woke up exactly when I planned to wake up, and when I woke up I did the thing you're supposed to do as a productive American immediately after waking up; I got out of bed. I did not stay in bed for 5 minutes or 10 minutes or 45 minutes or an hour and a half and suddenly wake up and go "holy fuck it's 9:30." No. I got out of bed and I went right to the treadmill and I walked on that motherfucker while I watched my new treadmill-only show; Voltron: Legendary Defender (sidenote: excellent show, and totally family friendly).

The rest of the morning was spent writing, contacting friends to let them know how super-awesome-happy-fun-time I felt, working my civil service job with diligence and fortitude and other got-my-shit-done words.

And then, everything turned around. Just snap, and suddenly I was back in high school and my world was despair and anger.  My world was the songs Trent Reznor cut out of Pretty Hate Machine because they were too dark.

Why? There was a reason, And anyone who knows me know I am not too embarrassed to tell the story. I am the Old Dark God of TMI. But I'm not going to tell the story. Because it's too long and I have shit to do. But was it about a woman? Yes, it was about a woman.

Okay. I'll tell the fucking story.

Real quick like bunny.

Okay, so while this is a concept unfamiliar to many, some people borrow things from the library that are not DVDs. I am one of these people.

Some months ago, shortly after my break up with my second-to-last girlfriend but before my break up with my last girlfriend, I went to pick up books at the library, and the woman behind the desk was gorgeous. Stunning. Clearly too young. The kind of woman I hate and love to see; love because duh, beautiful, and hate because there's no way to look at someone like her for more than a microsecond without it being obvious how smitten I am.

To myself and to my friends, I started referring to her as "Hot Librarian."

But I was still fresh from a break up. And she was clearly too young for me. And, probably more than anything, I'm very much a coward.

But, I always hoped when I went to pick up books it would be her behind the counter, that some opportunity would arise, that some braver Mick would emerge without warning. Sometimes it was her, usually not. Usually it was that mopey looking dude.

So, in ways that some might consider stalkery, I decided to find out more about the Hot Librarian. I learned her name. I learned her job at the library. I found her personal website and her Facebook page.

Yesterday, I got an email from my library that a book of short stories I'd ordered had arrived and was ready for pick up (Honored Guest by Joy Williams, at the suggestion of my friend Rich). This reminded me of Hot Librarian.

And on a memo note pad, at work, during lunch, I uh. Heh.

Iwroteheraloveletter

Yeah, so I did that.

And a while later, I happened to accidentally stumble upon her Facebook page by searching for her name and I saw that her profile picture had changed.

It was her, cheek-to-cheek.

With the fucking mopey looking dude.

You know in the old cartoons when a little snowball would roll down a snow covered mountain?  What would happen to it?

Yeah, that was me.

And it was so fucking absurd, man. I was crushed. I was crushed and I don't even. Fucking. Know her. I mean it's so many different kinds of insane. I'm 42 going on 16.

An old friend told me this weekend that I give away my heart too easily. Can't imagine how that idea blossomed.

Man.

Man, I am hopeless.

So, I got nothing done yesterday once I got home. That's a lie. I cleaned some dishes. I did that. I think I started watching a John Hodgman special on Netflix. Didn't like it. It was mainly him talking about his fame and trying to be ironically obnoxious about it but it kind of came off as being fully obnoxious and trying to hide it with ironic obnoxiousicity (yep, it's a word I made up; fuck you, red correct underlining; your MOM is spelled wrong).

I know what you're thinking. No, I don't, but I know what I imagine you might be thinking. I imagine you might be thinking, "Mick, that was a one time thing. You shouldn't, like, change your life because of one thing that happened on one day. Also, dude, you're kind of creepy with women."

As for the creepy, okay, not going to argue but there will be no admission of guilt.

As for the other thing, no, man, no. It's not a one-time thing. The fact that it was Hot Librarian's profile picture that dragged me down, sure, that specific manifestation was yesterday and just yesterday, but the result is not a one time thing, is not isolated, is not unique. It is every day or almost every day. Maybe it will be an upsetting news story. Maybe it will be someone looking at me in a funny way. Maybe it will be me getting stressed out over the fact that I discovered the ex-wife of one of my best friends works in my building and we're both still passing each other in the halls and parking relatively close to one another and arriving and leaving at approximately the same time every day and we're both pretending we don't recognize each other and I'm wondering when and if one of us will develop the testicles to say, "hey this is a few different species of stupid, can we just say hi?" Maybe it will be an ex-girlfriend texting me. Maybe it will be me learning that some evil motherfucker wrote a story for Marvel Comics that saw Bruce Banner being murdered by some racist archer piece of shit (BENDIS, YOU WHORE). Maybe, maybe, maybe. But it will be something. Something will trigger Hyde. For werewolves, it's the moon. Only difference with me is that I don't know what it will be. But just like them, I know it will always be something.

I will always get home from my day job with nothing left in me. Even if it's a good day and nothing triggers my insanity, I will be spent.

So I had this idea.

The morning.

I am a morning person now. In the morning I write. In the morning, I am full of love and hope and all that happy bullshit. In the morning, I don't hate anyone and I'm not creepy. In the morning, I open my office window and write while my cats sit on the sill are spellbound by the grassy, windy world they'd be too scared to step into if I left the door open all day. And I write.

So, what if I made my mornings longer?

I've been getting up at 4:30 every morning for a while. I know, I know, whatever, it's fucking early. But if I want to get on the treadmill (and exercising after work is about 50 times more impossible than writing after work), get ready for the day job and get at least an hour of writing in, I need that time.

Last night, I got in bed an hour and a half earlier than normal; at 8:30. And I woke up at 3 am. It's 6 am now and I've been writing for about an hour. I still have two hours before I have to leave for the day job, and everything's done. I've had breakfast, I'm dressed, I've spent my 40 minutes on the treadmill, I'm showered, I scooped out the cats' shitbox, and I haven't written a single creepy love letter to a too-young lovely woman.

Thankfully, my food needs are very specific but also simple. Both my lunch and dinner are already prepared. It doesn't take much.

I will have to work toward it steadily, but ultimately, I would like to be going to bed by 7:30 and waking up at 2 am. That's why I made my dinner already; so I can eat it as soon as I get home from the day job.

There will be difficulties. Two already spring to mind. First, while it will give me more time to write, it will likely make the day job more difficult. Second, because the rest of the world will not be adhering to my schedule, inevitably there will be conflicts. In most cases, as long as I learn to value myself and prioritize my goals, I will simply have to say no to things. But at some point I will have to go to something. Some social event. Some appointment. Something that will be after my new, silly bed time, and that will cause chaos.

But I'll deal with that shit when I have to deal with it.

And this whole experiment may turn out futile, I don't know. I may end up abandoning it five minutes from now. That's who I am. Big promises. Little follow through. But only in the things I genuinely want to do. Because those are only important to me.

There has been a conflict within me for years now that I'm just starting to see clearly. It is difficult to articulate. I will try.

I grew up needing to see myself as unique; as a rebel. I had to hold on to my nonconformity and raise it above my head like a trophy. I had to do this. Everything about me was being assaulted in a Christian, military, all-boys school, and my only salvation was to see myself as a tortured, unique, artistic genius. It was obnoxious, but I don't regret it. It was a crutch. But my leg was broken, and that's what crutches are fucking for.

But as I grew older, I needed different tools and I didn't have them. I grew up in an environment where I was a rebel just for reading a fucking book that wasn't assigned. And from there I met others like me, others who were creative and artistic and loved words more than sports, and I don't think I knew how to handle that. I should've found solace, but instead I didn't trust it. I didn't trust the concept of my not being the outsider. I had to be the outsider. If I was with frat boys, I quoted poets. If I was with poets, I got shit-faced and jumped in fountains. My motto was, "When in Rome, do the exact opposite of whatever those asshole Romans do." If I was with jocks I was an intellectual snob. If I was with intellectuals, I was an ape. The idea of fitting in felt like the most dangerous thing in the world. It felt like floating in space with nothing to hold onto.

In time, I realized all of this, and that's when I was really in trouble. Because realizing I had used being an outsider as a crutch again made me go in the opposite direction. The most important things became the things that were most important to everyone else. My writing was not as important as success with women or making more money. My writing was not as important as being invited to parties and being able to talk and relate to all the people my age who were golfing and marrying and raising kids and investing and who knew car models and paid attention to the financial news and knew who the new pop performers were and gave a single flying fuck about who was hosting the Oscars.

But at the same time, I genuinely did not care about any of that shit. I mean, okay, I care about money because, you know, food and shit. I cared about success with women because women are awesome and have all the fun parts and they're sweet and kissing them and cuddling with them and doing other things with them is fucking fantastic. But I didn't care about climbing indoor rock walls or cocktail parties or fantasy football or kids or mortgages or whether or not moving to change school districts was a good idea or maybe kind of racist. I don't. I really don't. Not trying to be Mr. Fucking Rebel here. I just don't. I'd rather bash myself in the face with a hot toaster than go to a Paint-N-Sip.

So I've been stuck, you know? I've been at war with myself, with neither side gaining ground. Unwilling to get in step with the rest of the world, and hating myself for being unwilling to get in step with the rest of the world.

And I guess right about now I'm thinking it's about time I just accepted that I will never be in step with the rest of the world. I do not want the things I am supposed to want. I do not want the house in the suburbs or the 2.5 kids or the crated designer dog with the invisible electric fence around the yard. I don't want the child leashes and the dinner parties.

I mean, listen guys, I'm not putting that shit down. I want to want that stuff. I just don't.

So, I think it's high time that I just accept that I will always be out of step with the world, and that that's cool. That's okay. And if it's okay for me to be out of step with the world, then it's okay for me to live stupid hours. It's okay for me to go to bed at 7:30 at night and wake up at 2 am. If that's what works for me.

I am afraid of being alone. I mean, living those hours does not necessarily promote a healthy social life, right? And it certainly limits the opportunities I will have to meet women. And what happens if I meet a woman and she asks if I want to go do something at 8 and I'm, like, "Yeah, I'll have been asleep a half hour by then?"

I go to these meetings. They're about a staircase and I'm not going into that here. That isn't what this blog is for or about. But I go to these meetings and for a lot of things they have slogans and I usually hate the fucking slogans. But one of the slogans is, "Let go and let God," and I think I am going to have to apply that to women. I can't refuse to do what I think is best for me for the sake of meeting women.

I am very afraid, guys. I am very afraid that I will never have a wife or anything like a wife. I think maybe it's my biggest fear.

So this is me letting go.

And letting Hulk.

I mean God.

(Hulk)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Crap I Read in January

Last year I tried this thing where I would write down everything I read. No matter how much I read or what I read, I always feel somehow inadequate about my reading. I'll think, "yeah I know people who haven't cracked open a novel in a decade, and I read three last month, so I'm pretty fucking awesome." Then I learn about some sonofabitch who pours three novels into their head before lunch, and I call myself a motherfucker for every second spent playing Elder Sign on my ipad or watching Netflix.

The practice did not survive much of 2016. I think mainly because of those same feelings of inadequacy. See, I started this tradition some years ago (which, for the record, I abandoned this year because I was tired of it) of making Lord of the Rings the first thing I read every year. And because by 2016 I was already bored with this and didn't want to admit it, it took me longer than normal to slog through the books I'd already read, like, a half dozen times.

Don't get me wrong; I love Lord of the Rings. Reading Tolkien makes me want to write. Still does. But, you know, I kind of already know how Bilbo's going to end that party of his and sometimes the magic just isn't as potent.

So anyway, I think the practice of keeping a precise record of everything I read ended early in 2016 because I was embarrassed by just how little I'd read.

So far, the practice has survived 2017, I've kept it going. And listen, this is a totally obnoxious bullshit thing I'm doing. Seriously, I know. I will humor no illusions about it. I am stroking my ego here. I am turning up my nose to the illiterate masses choosing Fast and Furious and Netflix binges over novels or books of essays. I'm an asshole. I admit it.

But, that doesn't mean there's nothing good that can come from it. It genuinely is making me read more, which is always good. Unless I'm driving. Then I should read less.

And, if I blog about it a little, maybe it can expose you to some stuff you've never heard of and in which you might be interested. Who knows?

So, in the future, I'll probably put together a monthly list of what I read at the end of every month. But, since I started this blog a few months into the year, we'll have to catch up first. So here's the shit I read in January.

I'll write about some stuff. And some stuff I won't write about. Because.


NOVELS


Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

I read the first two Dresden Files novels a few years ago. I liked them, but not enough to swear myself a fan. I read the third and fourth books - Grave Peril and Summer Knight - while I was recovering from surgery, and I was hooked.

If you're not familiar, the Dresden Files is a series about a modern day wizard/private dick. He's more Raymond Chandler than Tolkien. One of the review quotes regularly appearing in the front of the paperbacks describes it like this: "Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe," and that's about as good a description as you can get.

Dead Beat is the seventh novel (and I'm actually surprised to learn I'm already that deep into the series). When like-minded readers first tried to get me to check out the series, the scene they always used to pull me in is one from the climax of Dead Beat: of Harry Dresden, the main character, riding an undead T-Rex through the streets of Chicago and tearing through hordes of zombies with it. I thought I would be disappointed to have been spioiled the scene, but no. No. Even if you're spoiled a scene in which a modern day wizard rides an undead dinosaur into mobs of zombies, it's still a scene in which a modern day wizard rides an undead dinosaur into mobs of zombies, so really there's no way for it to not work.


























Noir by Robert Coover

I read Noir because the author was appearing at SUNY Albany to talk about his new novel, Huck Out West, which is supposed to be something of a sequel to Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I wanted to read something of Coover's before the event, and didn't think I had enough time to read both Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Huck Out West (I'd read the classic, but figured I should re-familiarize myself to fully appreciate Coover's effort), So instead I took Noir out of the library.

Noir is bizarre and great. It is telling us something about noir fiction. I'm not sure what. Really want to read it again. But I'm pretty sure whatever it was, it was important.

And of course, I missed the aforementioned SUNY Albany event.  Because lazy.


NONFICTION


Sal Buscema: Comics' Fast and Furious Artist by Jim Amash

My Hulk is the Sal Buscema Hulk. At least when I think of the Hulk - the ol' savage, monosyllabic version - I think of Sal.

Sal Buscema is basically a long interview with the artist, and considering how long Buscema has worked in comics, it's interesting to see not only his career, but the comics industry of the second half of the twentieth century through his lens.

There's a lot of art in here, and honestly the most interesting stuff is in the non-comics-related work presented in the book; his portraits and nudes. It's just kind of amazing from my point-of-view - the point-of-view of a lifelong fan who thinks "Sal Buscema" and then immediately thinks "Hulk punching M.O.D.O.K....lots of motion lines..." - working on art that had nothing to do with comics.

Coincidentally, just before writing this, I found the name Jim Amash in the inking credit of a strip in World of Archie Comics Digest #60. I had no idea the interviewer was a professional artist himself, though I suppose it makes sense.


MAGAZINES OR JOURNALS

Heavy Metal #284

I subscribed to Heavy Metal on a whim. I read their new Editor-In-Chief, Grant Morrison, had announced a Bible/Conan mash-up strip called The Savage Sword of Jesus Christ, and the title hooked me.

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be re-upping my subscription to Heavy Metal. There's some good stuff in there, but most of it isn't to my taste.

There's only been one installment of Savage Sword of Jesus Christ so far and it was disappointing. I usually enjoy Morrison's work, but Savage Sword is disappointing in the way that most of his disappointing stuff is disappointing. From the various press I'd read about the strip, it was going to be the story of Jesus, but told as if Jesus were Conan. That is ridiculous and awesome and I was excited for it. Morrison explained to interviewers that the idea was inspired by learning that Adolf Hitler had planned to re-frame the figure of Christ as a kind of Nordic warrior. But rather than simply allowing himself to be inspired by this and giving us an honest-to-Hulk Jesus-meets-Conan strip, what we get is a strip that goes back and forth between the Jesus-as-Conan narrative, and scenes with Hitler and Joseph Goebbels in which they discuss the idea of re-framing Jesus as a Nordic warrior. And honestly I think there's more Hitler/Goebbels stuff than there is Jesus/Conan. And the Jesus/Conan is what I signed up for. I can't help but come away with the impression that Morrison really wants us to know how brilliant his ideas are by telling us more about the inspiration than the actual goddamn idea.




One Story #223: "In the Neighborhood" by Jess Rafalko

One Story is a fantastic journal. I've been reading it on and off for years.

The name says it all. They publish exactly one story per issue. Each issue is about the size of a pamphlet, and this has been very convenient for me over the years. From the time when I worked as a data entry operator, to my first civil service gig as an office drone for New York State's Office of the State Comptroller, to now, One Story has always been able to fit in my pocket, and so is easy to bring to the men's room for bathroom breaks that really just involve sitting down and reading whether or not there's anything that needs, you know. Expression.

Smithsonian November 2016

Book Pages December 2016

Book Pages is a free reader that has ads and reviews of recently published or soon-to-be published books. I've only ever seen it at my public library, and I always make sure to grab a new issue; both to peruse and in hopes the hot library director will notice and be impressed with my love of reading (so far, I have no indication this has happened, though I also have no indication it has not happened).


GRAPHIC NOVELS/COLLECTIONS

Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 2: Sympathy for the Devil by Marv Wolfman and Dan Jurgens, et al.
Our Mother by Luke Howard



























Eclipso: The Music of the Spheres by Matthew Sturges and Stephen Jorge Seqouia, et al.

I bought this a while ago, when I began my It Takes A Villain column.

It's exceptionally horrible.



























Amazing Fantastic Incredible by Stan Lee and Peter David, et al.

I learned nothing new about Stan Lee in this graphic memoir. If even half of the stuff I've read in other books about comics is true, then Amazing Fantastic Incredible is simply confirmation of what I already knew: Stan Lee worked like a demon, had a big heart but not as great of a spine, and was always at least 65% full of shit.


COMIC BOOKS (single issues)

Abiding Perdition #1 by Nick Schley and Pedro Delgado, et al.



























Archie, Vol. 2, #15 - #16 by Mark Waid and Joe Eisma, et al.

It is a mystery to me how I have become an Archie fan over the past year or so. Not only is Mark Waid's new "updated" Archie on my monthly pull list at the comic shop, but I use every chance I get to pick up the Archie digests. I was never a fan of the comic when I was younger. But now I can't get enough. It is strange enough to me, that I feel like I need to write some probing thing to get at the bottom of it. If I want to get at the bottom of it, but I don't really. I don't. I just want to enjoy it.

And in all honesty, I think there's a good chance if/when Mark Waid leaves Archie, I'll leave too. Maybe not. I'll give the new person a shot if/when it happens. I just know it isn't the Archieverse in general that I enjoy. I've tried some of the other new, updated stuff - like the new Betty & Veronica - and just wasn't into it.

I do want to get more into the Archie horror stuff though. There was a recent Jughead: The Hunger one-shot about Jughead being a werewolf. I still need to check out Afterlife with Archie and I REALLY want to read Archie Vs. Predator. I can't believe they did that. That's fucking beautiful.

I really hope it's Jughead who says, "I ain't got time to bleed."


Black Widow, Vol. 7, #9 - #10 by Chris Samnee and Mark Waid, et al.
Cage, Vol. 3, #4 by Genndy Tartakovsky, et al.


























Carnage, Vol. 2, #16 by Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins, et al.

This is another series I started just because of my It Takes A Villain column. I didn't expect it, but I got hooked.

It's very Lovecraft-inspired, with Spider-Man's old enemy learning he has some connection to an Old God. He travels across the sea to summon the monster and hopes to be rewarded for it. Meanwhile a mish-mosh of characters hunt Carnage across the world, including Eddie Brock and Man-Wolf.

I would've kept picking it up if it hadn't been canceled. I wasn't too sad when it ended. I could've kept reading, but the premise didn't seem to lend itself well to an ongoing.

Champions, Vol. 2, #3 - #4 by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos, et al.



























Cougar and Cub #1 by Nick Marino and Daniel Arruda Mass, et al.

This comic is great and I'm worried it's been shit-canned early. I haven't seen a solicit for a second issue anywhere.

It's about a crime-fighting duo - a teenager and an older woman (though they aren't really clear how to define "older," I mean this ain't Harold & Maude) - and one night they give in to their carnal desires. Presumably, things change for the worse after that, but like I said they've only had the one issue so far. I really do hope there are more.

Dark Horse Presents, Vol. 3, #29 by Various
DC Rebirth Holiday Special by Various
Death Dealer, Vol. 2, #3 by Nat Jones and Jay Fotos, et al.



























Deathstroke, Vol. 3, #8 by Christopher Priest and Larry Hama, et al.

Deathstroke is the only DC comic I'm collecting right now that's part of the main DC Universe (a.k.a Batman and some other assholes).

I've read some Deathstroke graphic novels, and they're mostly fucking awful. The volume collecting the very first Deathstroke: The Terminator comics is pretty great. Otherwise, I haven't been impressed. There were two New 52 Deathstroke series, I read the first trades for each (again, specifically for It Takes A Villain), and they were bad.

The new Deathstroke is a welcome change. I am picking it up for one reason. Well, okay, for two reasons. First, because it marks the return of Christopher Priest to comics (better known for his fantastic Black Panther from the nineties and early aughts). Second, because that means it's a fucking good comic.

Again, just as with Archie (and, no, I did not think I would be comparing Archie with Deathstroke today; but hey Archie Comics, there's another possible crossover), there's a big chance if/when Priest leaves the series, I will leave also. Probably by then, I will be invested enough in the story to give the new creative team its due shot. Maybe. But honestly, I am so disgusted and annoyed with DC's misuse of Watchmen that it was difficult enough to commit to Deathstroke. It would probably need to be a creator with equal good will built up in my mind for me to continue. They get Geoff Johns or Judd Winnick and I'll just laugh and hit Delete without thinking twice.

Deathstroke, Vol. 3, #9 - #10 by Christopher Priest and Cary Nord, et al.
Deathstroke, Vol. 3, #11 by Christopher Priest and Denys Cowan, et al.
Defenders, Vol. 1, #121 and #124 by J.M. DeMatteis and Don Perlin, et al.
Doctor Strange, Vol. 5, #15 by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, et al.

























Doctor Strange & the Sorcerers Supreme #3 - #4 by Robbie Thompson and Javier Rodriguez, et al.

A bunch of Sorcerers Supreme from different eras are summoned gathered together by Merlin to stop some kind of big bad evil magic thing. I forget exactly what. Included in the mix is, of course, Doctor Strange. Then there's all-grown-up Wiccan, a 19th century Ghost Rider, and a younger and much douchier Ancient One.

I wasn't expecting to care at all about this series. figured (rightly) it was just a way to capitalize on the Doctor Strange film, that it seemed silly to have a team of nothing but sorcerers since after all they're all they're all just going to have the same powers. May as well call them Justice League.

But actually Doctor Strange & the Sorcerers Supreme has proven to be a pretty fun book with great art. The issue before last (I don't think it was one of these) was actually an choose-your-own-adventure issue I thought was well done.


























Dreamery #5 - #14 by Various

A while back I ordered a value pack from an online comic shop; it offered a pile of various comics of a different theme for about $12. I thought it would be a fun way to find a bunch of series I'd never heard of before.

And I was right, though of course there was a lot of crap, too.

The value pack included Dreamery #8. It's a black-and-white fantasy anthology comic from the long-defunct Eclipse Comics. The stories are fairly light-hearted. Among other things there's an ongoing stories with a family of centaurs and a goofy prince unlucky in love.

Dreamery only lasted 14 issues and the nice part about that is that buying the rest of the series didn't put a huge hole in my wallet. I got the rest off ebay cheap.

It's a shame Dreamery isn't around anymore. I'd happily add it or a book like it to my pull list.


ElfQuest: King's Cross #2 by Christopher Lane and Brandon McKinney, et al.




Gumballs #1 by Erin Nations

An autobio comic that I really hope will see a second issue, but I'm worried. I remember seeing that the second issue was set to come out soon, but then it just disappeared from the list of upcoming releases.

























He-Man/Thundercats #3 by Rob David and Lloyd Goldfine, et al.

A fun crossover mini-series that, thankfully, didn't take itself too seriously. Skeletor kicks Lion-O in the junk. I mean, that's pretty perfect.



Hulk, Vol. 3, #2 by Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon, et al.

So, I haven't read all the relevant comics, but basically She-Hulk gets messed up by Thanos as part of Civil War II. She wakes from a coma physically changed, and learning that her cousin Bruce Banner was murdered by Hawkeye.

In Hulk, Jen Walters is trying to re-enter her life as a lawyer and desperately trying to keep her new, presumably much more savage Hulkiness inside.

And she's doing okay, I guess. As of the writing of this blog, the series the fourth issue has been released and we still haven't seen Jen Walters turn into her more Hulky self.

It's tough to not be reminded of the truly overrated Bruce Jones run on Incredible Hulk which barely saw the green guy show up at all, and only very briefly when he did.

Also, it reminds me of that older comic because even though I hated Jones's Hulk stories, the covers were fantastic. At least when Kaare Andrews was doing them.

I will say Tamaki's writing a much more interesting story and I really want to love Hulk, but I'm not sold yet and I won't be sold until we see the Hulk-out. And that's just it; I don't know if this series has much chance of surviving at all, but after basically waiting half a year to give us an actual Hulk-Out, that inevitable Hulk-Out has to be done just, fucking, perfectly. It has to be better and more awe-inspiring than any Hulk-Out since Jack Kirby first had that gray guy slap Rick Jones around.

Incredible Hulk, Vol. 2, #436 by Peter David and Angel Medina, et al.
Kill or be Killed #5 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, et al.
Mighty Thor #14 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, et al.
Patsy Walker, a.k.a. HELLCAT! #13 by Kate Leth and Brittney L. Williams, et al.
Red Sonja, Vol. 4, #8 and #13 by Michael Avon Oeming and Mel Rubi, et al.
Saga #41 and #42 by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan, et al.
Scooby Apocalypse #8 by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, et al.
Silver Surfer, Vol. 6, #8 by Dan Slott and Mike Allred, et al.
Totally Awesome Hulk #14 by Greg Pak and German Peralta, et al.
Unworthy Thor #3 by Jason Aaron and Kim Jacinto, et al.
Warlord, Vol. 2, #3 by Bruce Jones and Bart Sears, et al.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Night



I'm getting drunk. When I get drunk, the same things are important.

Last night I was IMing with an old friend. I did this drunk. At one point I used the word "authoritarian." Earlier in the sentence, I used the word "stop." But, drunk, it came out, "stip."

I was pissed off that I could somehow, drunk, correctly type the word "authoritarian," but not "stop."

That is who I am.

I am the man for whom it is important he does not make more typos drunk than sober. I am the man writing the blog post he is sure to regret in the morning. I am the man who knows you won't stop reading this now, just like you won't stop looking at the car wreck after you see the blood.

I am, I think it's safe to say, skirting a line I shouldn't.

I'm watching No Country For Old Men while I write this. Josh Brolin ain't got not agua.

I think maybe I am doing things that might push me toward becoming, you know, a drunk.  But I won't. I'll be okay. I don't crave it. I don't need it. I'm in a transition period right now is all.

Transition. I can type "transition" drunk. Like Jesus.

My life has changed. I have come to accept things. I have made peace with things.

Do you know, I don't know why the happy fuck I've friend requested any of you motherfuckers I knew in grade school?

You guys started it. You didn't mean to. You just meant to be kids and do the thing kids do and you didn't think or care and now you probably don't even remember. If I told you, you probably wouldn't believe me.

And fuck, who says you wouldn't be right to not believe me? If your memories are as malleable as play-doh and as reliable as a civil servant, then who the fuck am I to say mine is any better? Maybe my memory is a stupid, crippled thing. Maybe I was class president in the fucking womb. Maybe everyone loved me. Maybe I was surrounded by fawning friends. Maybe the daily., hourly, minutely insults are figments of my imagination. Maybe I was like Archie, with Betty and Veronica fighting over me since before I knew how to talk. Maybe what I think made me wasn't real.

I don't fucking think so though. You motherfuckers. You motherfuckers made me like Frankenstein in a lab. And still I love you, do you know that? Do you know that? Do you know that must be what tortures Frankenstein's patchwork monster more than anything? That in spite of everything, love. In spite of everything, the men and women who were little boys and little girls with me, they share something with me no one else ever will, and I love them in a way that I will love no one else.

Fuck you, all of you. And don't ever leave me. Please.

My baked potatoes are done and my glass is empty.

God fuck the Internet. If it weren't for the Internet, this would be private.

No Country For Old Men is on pause. Josh Brolin's about to get fucked up by a dog.

Wait. I don't think he does get fucked up by a dog. I think he almost gets fucked up by a dog. But then he shoots the dog. Like some kind of asshole.

So, okay, here's the thing. This is important.

And don't tell me to go to meetings. I hate the meetings. They have slogans like bumperstickers and they want me to love God and I don't love God. I don't hate God. I don't hate leprechauns either. I mean. Except Irish ones.

I'm kidding, I don't hate Irish leprechauns. Oh my God, someone's going to read that and think I hate the Irish. I DON'T HATE THE IRISH! I don't hate anyone but, well. I don't hate anyone. Seriously. I don't.  Never did. Wish I did. That's why I never fought back. I never wanted to hurt anyone.

Do you know what happened to me in CBA?

You fucking assholes.

People say kids are cruel. "Bully" is a fucking buzz word now. Kids are cruel. FUCKING ADULTS ARE CRUEL. It wasn't kids yelling fat insults at me from passing cars, it was adults. It wasn't kid teachers in CBA who realized fucking with one of the outsiders, like me, would get the rest of the assholes on their side for five minutes. You say "kids are cruel."  You quarantine it. You assign it to a particular chapter of life that you've gotten past so you can isolate it. You pretend it isn't in your heart now because you have mortgages and teacher-parent conferences and you think somehow with the playground in your rear view you don't look at people with the eye of a judge. But you do. You do. And you will bleed that shit into your stupid little children. Your children will either be the the shit upon or the shitters. THERE IS. NO. IN. BETWEEN.

I unpaused No Country For Old Men.

Oh they just shot Thanos in the shoulder. And Thanos is hiding in a pond. Shit didn't work in Infinity Gauntlet you purple motherfucker.

Yeah I'm definitely drunk.

And look at me! Look at this shit! Look at this lack of typos! Could Mandela have done this shit? I don't think--Probably. Probably he could.

Fat Tire is good beer.

You know, I don't think Javier Bardem has an easy time paying for gas. Small price to pay for immortality, I suppose.

Did it make you guys feel better? Did it give you something, I hope? Was there a reason for it?

You know, here's the thing I don't know if you'll get it, maybe you'll get it better than me.


I know who I am now.

It is difficult to accept this, but I will. This is the reason for the alcohol. The need for the alcohol will subside. Soon all I will need is a daily cuddle session with the cats. But for now, I need to get drunk.

I know who I am, and who I am is precisely who I always thought I was. Who I am is fine, it's good. It's as acceptable as any thing or any one else. Who I am is good. And it's bad. Just like everyone. It doesn't matter.

The thing is, who I am will not have a wife, or kids, and who I am is going to be pretty isolated. Forever. And that's fine too. It's fucking preferable. It's what I want, I guess.

But I'm having a hard time accepting this.

Hence the alcohol.

I mean, it's fine. I'll write. I'll get published or I won't. I'll probably get laid every now and then. But your paint-n-sips and your couples counseling and your indoor rock wall climbing and your anniversaries and your hiking and your ocean cruises and everything you wrap around you when you look at your wife or your husband or your kids and know that everything is all right; these things will elude me. I will have other things, and these other things will be fine. Everything I ever feared is true, and it's absolutely fine.

It's just going to take some time to accept.

Hence the alcohol.

And look at this shit! Look at the glorious lack of typos. I bet most of you motherfuckers can't type this well when you're stone cold sober. I don't need any fucking meetings and I never will. I type like a fucking cyborg.

Hey you guys remember Valentine's Day? Remember Valentine's Day in PS 19? We'd all get those packs of V day cards.

And the pig ones. The ones with the pigs with angel wings. The Valentine's Day cards with the pigs with angel wings like cupids.

All you motherfuckers used to save them for me.

There will never be a reckoning. Reckonings don't happen.

Just stuff.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

I submit (or goose shits and cannibals)



I just submitted a short story to an online literary journal. 

Which is weird.  It feels weird. It shouldn't feel weird, but it does. I haven't submitted anything to anything in a long time. Not counting submitting work occasionally to the New York State Writer's Institute writing workshops. I've never been accepted. They probably found out I don't always shop local. That's unfair and mean. But so is not recognizing my inestimable genius. Though doing that is sane and reasonable. I'm going to move on to the next paragraph now. 

It is strange to think I have more shit to submit, but I do. I need to edit it, but it's there, waiting. I don't know that anyone would ever want it. If they would want it, I don't know why. Possibly insanity. 

A few minutes ago, a guy walked past me and said to his buddy, "I'm shitting like a goose." Sometimes people say too many things. 

I've done my four pages and then some. I just edited and submitted a story. I'm sitting in Uncommon Grounds, killing time before going to my rents' to celebrate Bunny Rabbit/Scarecrow Day. 

I cut off all dating sites yesterday. I am convinced that I need some time without dating. But I don't really like that I need some time without dating. Because women are cool and they have curves and sometimes you can convince them to kiss you if you don't swear too much (or if you swear just the right amount; they're all different man, don't try to label them). So I like it better when there is a woman to do stuff with than when there isn't, but I do truly think I need some time without dating. But I don't like it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.


I feel like my life is asking too much of me. I am trying to be more like a part of the world, to be not an island, to be not a hermit, not a shut-in, and yet at the same time my life wants me to be, in some ways, more alone. Life is a mess of contradictions, but this specific contradiction is particularly difficult for someone who learned earlier than most what motherfuckers you all are. 

Which may sounds hostile.

I just started reading Selected Stories of Lu Hsun. I bought it a while ago at a used book store's going-out-of-business sale. Never heard of the guy. Just looked at it and said, "Hey, this looks it might be unlike things I've read."  

The first story of the collection is "A Madman's Diary," about a paranoid guy who eventually believes everyone around him wants to eat him. 

One of my greatest losses from college was a poem I wrote called "I Am Very Afraid of Being Eaten." I can't find it anywhere. Not digitally, not on paper. I remember in particular - and this is made distastefully funnier because Lu Hsun was a Chinese writer - that the narrator of my poem was specifically afraid that the cannibal who lived upstairs would eat him, and that the cannibal had told him he never ate Chinese because he would always be hungry again a half hour later. 

Cannibalism is something that threatens to be an interest of mine. Because it scares the piss out of me. It doesn't scare me in the sense that, yes, I think it is likely I'm going to have to worry about that in the near future, but just, I don't know. It bothers me. The idea of a person being eaten bothers me. A lot. It's why I stay away from zombie stuff and I stay away from nature programs. 

So, a while ago, I bought a bunch of books about cannibalism, reasoning that if this was a particular fear, then maybe I should face that fear. Dive into it. Learn about it. 

Basically, I've learned that, you know. 

It's fucking gross.

I mean, I suppose obviously that somewhere in that fear, somewhere in there, is the fear of losing self. In other words, someone shoots you in the head and leaves you in a ditch, sure. You're dead. That's no fun. But someone eats you? Someone eats you and then, it's more than death. It's worse than death. You're not just dying; you're devoured. Whatever was you is being absorbed, becoming part of someone else against your will (presumably, though apparently there are cannibal fetishists who want to be eaten). If there is an afterlife, you don't get to go. It feels like, like if you were ascending to heaven, but something snatched you out of the sky, shoved you in its face, robbed the cosmos from you and made it part of itself. Everything you ever were or could be, all leading to nothing more than a day's energy for some asshole. 

I said "obviously" at the beginning of that paragraph, right? Do I know what that word means?

So yeah, now I think to avenge the loss of my old poem and to dig deeper into these weirdo thoughts I have, I will need to pound out a rough draft of my answer to Hsun's "Madman's Diary."

Seriously thought I was done with writing for the day. For realsies.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

I don't want to ruin my good days


I did something not particularly monumental, but rare, at least, for me.

I had nothing solid planned today, so I stayed in bed longer than normal. Gimli and Bupu kept jumping in and out of bed, not sure what was going on, both used to me being up and about before 5 am. Even though the Stupid Mick was telling me not to, I got on the treadmill and did my usual morning stuff, difference being it was after 11 am by the time I ate "breakfast."

It was gorgeous out, it was warm and sunny, and it occurred to me go drive across the river to Troy. A while ago I made a rule for myself that, somehow, I've been following. It is far too easy and automatic for me to spend money on books and graphic novels on Amazon, so I made a new rule that all books and graphic novels had to be purchased from local stores (unless the local stores just couldn't get ahold of them). The rule was codified more to control my spending than to promote the local economy, but I can't say I mind the side benefit. Individually, sure, books are less expensive on Amazon. But I never buy books on Amazon "individually." Because if I'm going to buy 1, I might as well buy 6.

So anyway, I heard about a novel coming out in October that I want, so for a while I've wanted to go to Market Block Books to pre-order it. And I figured why not just hang out in Troy?  Go to a few shops? Pretend you belong around humans.

I pre-ordered the book, and I picked up the Charles Bukowski collection On Love and Best American Comics 2016.

At Aquilonia, my comic shop, I bought a couple of new-ish comics, but mainly dug through the dollar and discount bins. Bought a pile of comics at a buck a piece, and bought a few graphic novels for 50%-75% off.

The best part of my day was at Psychedelicatessen. I paid an old debt first. They have a book area where you're allowed to borrow or even take books, but if you take a book you're supposed to leave one to replace it. A long time ago, I'd grabbed a copy of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. So I left them my unwanted Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 1.

An old acquaintance ate with me outside. She works there. A lovely woman with a pit bull asked me to hold on to the dog's leash while she went inside for a bagel. His name was Bodie and he was sweet and brown. When she came back out she had a glass oval with markings on it. She said because she's into "random acts of kindness," she had bought it for me inside. After she left I felt silly for not getting her number, or trying.

While I ate and talked, friends of my friend came by, said hello. A man with a hoodie and a bright green iguana clinging to his back walked by. I asked my friend, "Does he know he has an iguana on his back?" Of course I knew he did. I'm just an asshole.

My friend had to go back to work and I read a magazine. I felt the sun and the breeze and felt like there was nothing wrong, nothing forbidden, for me to be out there with other people. I watched people as they walked and drove by, saw a guy in a bicycle taxi and who the fuck knew that existed in Troy? I read and kept kicking myself for not asking for that woman's number. Or trying.

And now I'm home, and I've been home for a while, and it's time to get back to doing things I want to do.

I wish tomorrow wasn't Easter. I wish I could go back there and repeat the day.

Gah.

Fuck it.

Time to write.