Listening to: “Another World” – Antony & the Johnsons

Greetings from the heart of the Northeastern Seaboard’s Neverending Blizzard ’08! It’s already put me on postpone for 2 plays this weekend–luckily rescheduling is set to occur. Can’t afford to miss out on writing assignments this month. You know that old carol “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, etc. etc.”? Yeah, I’m the one who hasn’t got a ha’penny and needs some god-blessing.

Still, I think I’ll always have a Pavlovian joy response to snow days, even when I’ve got no work or school from which to play hooky. Last night Tuck and I holed up at Ryan and Rog’s and watched Mad Men and had Schnapps-spiked hot cocoa, while the snow piled up in drifts over Brookline. The mutt definitely digs the snow–sometimes it even makes him forget his debilitating fear of the Green Line–all old smells covered up, fluffy whiteness belly-high, and the whole world fresh and up for grabs. He leap-runs through deep snow in winter the same way he does through the tide in the summer when I bring him to the beach. I wonder what the beaches must look like now–totally surreal, no doubt. You never really see the image of snow falling on ocean waves.

Today out my bedroom window I saw a scrawny guy standing in a full Santa suit on the sidewalk, just chillin’. A girl walks up to him and–I shit you not–sticks her hand down his woolly red pants. And we’re talking deep–like, grab-the-dude’s-dick-and-flail-it-around-a-bit deep. Santa didn’t seem particularly aroused, but it was hard to read the eyes buried between the beard and hat. I’m telling you man, only in Allston.

Alright, time to go dig out the ol’ car so I can get to Cafenation and get some actual productive freaking writing done. I’ll leave you with an image of what I wish I were doing this fine, snowy evening:

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Listening to: “Everyday is Like Sunday” – Morrissey

It’s election day, yes, and you need to go vote. GO VOTE GO VOTE GO VOTE.

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In other news (wait, there’s other news?), Berkeley Breathed, the legendary cartoonist who brought us Bloom County, Outland, and Opus, all starring an earnest-eyed penguin and his fellows, has officially ended his run. After Calvin & Hobbes, this was my favorite comic strip. As a kid, it was my first introduction to political issues and lying naked in the periwinkle alike.

In this interview from Salon, Breathed talks about why he thinks his brand of gentler satire can’t survive intact in our increasingly sharp-toothed, snark-saturated cultural landscape:

It’s not so much dark times now, as profane and loud. Satire you’ll have, oh dear me, indeedy yes. “Vomitous” and “awash” are two words that come to mind. It used to be that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. How antediluvian. Rather, everyone will now want a satirical YouTube film with 15 megabytes.

Satire we’ll have. Rather, the real dearth in our world will be sweetness, comfort, thoughtfulness and civility…

There’ll always be great, classic cartooning. There’ll also be radio. Concept rock albums. Theatrical movie dramas for intelligent adults. Little kids riding bicycles down a neighborhood street without a grown-up. Family dinner hours. Eleven-year-old girls who dress like children. Instant coffee. Buggy whips.

They’ll just be much harder to find.

The very, absolute last comic strip characters destined to become true household words across America were invented 23 years ago: Calvin & Hobbes. There are and will be no more new ones.

That’s a technology and cultural issue. Not a talent issue…

For the old “Bloom County” fans who take me as a cold-heart cynic about my cartoon, know that I made the mistake of playing Puccini’s “Madam Butterfly” at midnight while I was drawing Opus for the very, final, last time last week and I got rather stupid. I’ll just leave it said that way. It’s an odd business.

Here’s to ya, ol’ penguin ol’ buddy.

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Righto. Off to volunteer at an Obama phone bank! I’m crossing all my appendages and knocking on piles and piles of wood.

Gawd, these are just hilarious. I was really into Garfield as a little kid. Unlike other comics I dug in my impressionable days (Calvin & Hobbes, Outland, The Far Side), Jim Davis’ humor has not stood the test of my growing up. But take out the cat…

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“Love is No Big Truth” – Kings of Convenience

Could it be that I’ve come full circle? Well, maybe not full. And certainly not the circle. But a circle of sorts, and I’ve reached some point in it.

Because my recent comic book renaissance has caused me to resuscitate my own long-dormant drawing skillz. It’s harder to do these days, what with no classes to sit through and doodle nonstop like there were for the first 22 years of my life. But today on the T, I started concepting a strip. I’ve been clandestinely stocking up on drawing supplies from that art supply store across from Symphony Hall. And I got this old, musty figure drawing guide from a used bookstore a few months back.

I can’t seem to draw as readily as I used to. Much more concerned with exactitude, results these days. None of those floppy-haired skinny dudes with the big feet I doodled compulsively in my notebooks. Well, ok, maybe a few of those dudes. They just fly out my fingers like shit water, what can I say?

Anyway, to the point, my dear fellow. I made some concept art for the strip of my main character, who is, well… me. All that autobiographical comic-reading finally got to me.

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Egh… it’s a start. Hopefully drawing the dog’ll be easier.

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“I never lack for things to occupy my time. I just lack for, at this point, it feels like traction.”
~ Joss Whedon

Listening to: “Time to Pretend” – MGMT

Phew, finally got a bit of a reprieve from this crazy carnival ride called Having Three Jobs. Praise be to the theater gods for a slow weekend.

Though I shouldn’t count my chickens yet–it’s not people with oodles of free time who are still at their offices at quarter to seven on a Thursday night. So I got some more shit to do. Yeah. Go fuck yerself.

Ah sorry, dear reader. I don’t mean you. I mean other you.

I think I’ve finally had something of a breakthrough vis-a-vis “The Price of Rootlessness.” Finally got an end of the road in mind for ol’ Charlie and Scats. It was an idea I had awhile ago, but thought was too stupid to make work. But I think it might just be stupid enough to be the best line to follow. Now I just gotta write the fucking thing.

Midnight’s Children has made me feel like it’s OK to work on a wide canvas. Rushdie was but a humble adman working in London when he was writing what would become The Great Indian Novel. When it comes to fiction, there ought to be no such thing as hubris (in the drafting stage, anyway).

My preoccupation with comic book autobiographies continues–I just polished off Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. A highly literate, layered, melancholy, funny little thing. Probably won’t have the staying power of Persepolis, but it’s pretty great shit. I usually don’t like reading autobiographies all that much (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius aside), but there’s something about the genre in graphic form that seems so right.

I think it has something to do with the fact that life is messy, memory is never linear, and the combination of pictures and words allows for much more tangents. “Wheels within wheels,” like Lethem says in Motherless Brooklyn.

As for my own story, and all those who keep asking me what’s up next: I’m working on it. Sometimes everything gets so crumpled together, all you can manage is a day at a time. I’ll adopt the long view when I get the chance.

I don’t mean to keep quoting Neil Gaiman, but… I’m gonna do it again. Sorry.

From The Sandman: The Wake–the last book of the series. This is William Shakespeare–not the real Shakespeare, Gaiman’s characterization of Shakespeare–talking about going through life as a writer (bolds included–this is from a graphic novel, after all):

I wonder… I wonder if it was worth it. Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I’d fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, “So this is how it feels,” and I would tie it up in pretty words.

I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt; but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss.

My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of the Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own.

And now… I am no longer young. My health is not good, and my daughter consorts with a lecherous ape, which her fancy amends to a gallant prince. My wife sleeps in her father’s bed, far from me; and she treats me like a foolish child.

And Prospero and Miranda, Caliban and Gonzalo, aethereal Ariel silent Antonio, all of them are more real to me than silly, wise Ben Jonson; Susanna and Judith; the good citizens of Stratford; the whores and oyster-women of London Town