Monday, November 12, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #12 - Early Influences

Day 12 and I'm already out of ideas.  This was a stupid thing to do!

Anyway, we'll see what I can cobble together here.  I think it my first post, I mentioned that the initial idea of Faith was to make a comic that John and I would have liked as kids.  We're talking the early to mid-80's here, so at the top of my list of inspirations were Starblazers (a,k.a. Space Battleship Yamato) and Force Five, both Japanese imports.  Boy, we Americans are lazy and we can't write cartoons.
Force Five was pretty cool because each day of the week featured a different hero team fighting the forces of evil, usually involving space ships that could unite into a giant robot.  In fact, a quick look over at Wikipedia tells me that they all did.  That was probably the draw for me.  The five shows were Gaiking, Dangard Ace, Starvengers, Grandizer and Spaceketeers.  I honestly don't remember Spaceketeers at all, but I remember the rest of them, and they were awesome (although, if I watched them now, they would probably not seem quite as awesome.).  Part of me is wondering why no one has tried this kind of anthology now.  Maybe because it's hard enough to write one show?
I think one of the reasons we used these as inspiration was the cool bad guys they always fought.  It was always a giant lizard or a giant robot or something.  Now, Faith has yet to encounter any giant bad guys as of this writing, but I doubt we'll have to wait long.  John is a huge Godzilla fan.  he is also a big Jaws fan, so that (I assume) is where he got the impetus for the giant shark.  And the Mummy?  Well, that has classic monster movie written all over it.  But I may have said too much... 
The whole idea is that part of the fun of creating your own comic is to put in the stuff you love.  I mean, the odds are that if you'd want to read it, then other people probably would, too.  The real crux  of these early influences that we wanted to capture was gallivanting good guys fighting menacing bad guys.  the fact that Faith is a girl will maybe make for some interesting scenarios down the, but at this point, she's not exactly using her feminine wyles to get by.  She's just a "good guy."  But she is a good guy that has been shaped by characters that we have been watching for over thirty years.  So, hopefully, with all that to back us up, we've created someone that people will like.
So, if you like the types of things I liked as a kid, and want to see Starblazers again (or for the first time), I recommend season II: The Comet Empire.  Force Five?  That you'll probably have to bootleg, but this is the internets age.  You can find it.  And if you're like me (and I hope you are!), you'll find it worth your time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #11 - Re-post: Putting a Price on Making Comics

Since it's Sunday, and I don't have a lot of time, I thought I would re-post an old blog piece I wrote about creating faith back in February 2009, when John and I still thought that we were going to publish it through Bluewater Productions.  So, it's a few years old, but still kind of relevant.  In fact, in retrospect, it's a good thing we never published it through them.

So, here's where I was February 2009:

I was figuring out the economics of making a comic. And this is not a self-publishing deal, because I've done that before, and believe me, that was bad enough, because you had to pay for your own printing costs and work your ass off to sell it, and most of the time that meant walking directly into stores, where they may take 8 or 10 copies and you'd get half the cover price. Or buying a table at a convention and begging passers-by to look at the thing. Not exactly a get-rich-quick scenario.

Now, considering that the comic I am co-writing (and currently waiting to be drawn) is being printed and distributed, I figured that would keep my costs down. However, we had to get our own artist to draw the thing, and as artists kept dropping out, what we were paying them went up. You get what you pay for, I guess, because we have a couple guys who haven't dropped out, but we have to pay them a rate of $30 a page. The upside is they are really good. The downside is it will cost us $660 an issue. For the planned five-issue series, that will bring it to $3300, plus the $300 we shelled out to get a known artist for the cover of issue #1. At $3600 for the series, at a $2.99 cover price, if we sold 2000 copies (which I believe is the new minimum to remain in Diamond's catalog for more than a month), that puts us (minus the Diamond percentage) at $3588, or $12 short of what we put in. Now, I'm not sure if Blue Water takes a cut, but I imagine they do. They are publishing it, after all.

Now, the hope would be to sell tons and tons of them, of course. Naturally, I'm not sure how to do that. Sales are down everywhere, according to my local comic shop proprietor (who I am counting on to order many copies). So, right now, 2000 seems like a lot. We may never make it passed issue #1, which would mean we would have to collect it in a trade and sell it ourselves, which, again, is not a way to actually make a lot of money.

The good news? I would have a published comic. A credit to my name. Something to show the nephews (although they better buy it.) And if it leads to something else down the road, then I guess you can't really put a price on that. 


Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #10 - My Stuff

I've talked a lot in this blog about what John has done, and what our artists have done, but you may be wondering what I've done.  Well, the answer is, "Very little."  I mean, very little that anyone has read.  John and I did the Secret Monkey, and we wrote a little animated web-thing called Guitar Boy, and we wrote a space opera called Star Guards (way before Battlestar Galactica was re-booted), and we wrote something called Super-Mask, and an Avengers send-off called Heroes United.  Ok, well, that sounds like a lot, but I swear I haven't done much.
One thing I have done that I'm very proud of is take Andy Schmidt's Comics Experience Writing Class.  The only assignment for the class was to write a fave-page story, and it had to have a clearly-defined beginning and end, so that it could be a stand alone story and not just a piece of something else you had written.  Mine came out very well, I feel.  In fact, much better than I anticipated.  The class decided to get together and publish an anthology of all of our stories, so we had to hire artists to do this.  Naturally, I hired our pal Mark, and he turned around the pages so fast that one of my classmates also hired him, so I was glad to get him the work.  Here's a little preview of my story:

 These are just the pages without letters since I only had those in pdf form, and I didn't want to give everything away for free, but I did of course ask John to do the lettering for me, and he did it because he's awesome.  If you like the look and feel like you have to read it for yourself, the class put all of our stories in an anthology called Out of Our Minds, which can be purchased here, which also features the spectacular work of Paul Allor, who was probably the only writer in the class better than me.  Just kidding.  I was better.
Anyway, so, I have written a few things, but take my word for it, Faith is no doubt the best thing I've ever done, and I swear it's coming soon, so eyes peeled!

Friday, November 09, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #9 - Why Comics?

Back at New York comic-Con, my friend Clay and I became very inspired at a panel which was actually a lecture by Michael Uslan, who had written a book called "The Boy Who Loved Batman."  Long story short, he produced the original Batman by Tim Burton back in 1989, but he bought the rights back in 1979, and dreamed of one day doing a Batman movie that made people forget about Adam West.  Everyone thought he was crazy, but now he is laughing all the way to the bank, literally.  Sometimes, good things happen to good people, and dreams do come true.  He was also recently awarded the very first doctorate in Comics from Monmouth University.

When John and I were young, we used to talk about one day working for Marvel comics, and how we would kill Galactus.  Non-comic readers may not know who that is, but he's a big, powerful, scary, planet-eating dude.  It was said partially in jest, but the idea was that we would one day create comics.  Nowadays, it doesn't matter if it's for Marvel or for ourselves, but I think the dream is still there.    Otherwise, I wouldn't be writing this at all.  John himself has been working for comics for many years, so I definitely need to catch up here
One of the reasons that i think we are drawn to comics is because, as Dr. Uslan said in his lecture, comics are our modern myth.  Centuries ago, human created the Greek gods to explain things that they had no explanation for, but these gods also had personalities and got into adventures and scraps, and messed around with humans, and some were heroic and noble and some were wicked and evil.  Is that really much different than our myths today?  Or, to once again use Uslan's logic, think about the story of Superman.  His world was being destroyed, so his parents sent him off in a spaceship to save him.  Now compare that to the story of Moses.

I think that there are few heroes in the world now.  All the heroes I had growing up, like Jose Canseco or Roger Clemens, even Hulk Hogan, have ended up being disgraced in some way.  But Batman?  When has he ever let me down?  Sure, he may have a stretch when the writing is bad on his book, but it'll come around.  The Hulkster?  His goose is cooked. 
I think that's why I continue to hold on to comics.  Obviously, the talent that goes into making them, but the very idea behind them draws you in.  Good vs. Evil.  A hero's journey.  Overcoming the odds.  All the stuff that makes for good drama.  Plus cool colors and fights and stuff. 
What's not to like?    

Thursday, November 08, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #8 - Cover Story

Continuing the "Creationism" theme here,  I wanted to talk a little about the covers for Faith (so far.)

First, a little background: it's become a thing in comics now, from Marvel on down, to have some brilliant artist do a cover for a book, even if said artist hasn't read the comic and doesn't know what actually goes on in the story.  While this makes for some dynamic covers, they essentially become pin-ups.  For example, most months, you can pick-up any issue of Spider-man and see an amazing picture of him swinging through the city on the cover, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be swinging through the city in the actual book (I mean, he probably will, because that's what Spider-man does, but still... He may be swinging through the jungle.)  When I was a young comic book collector, I liked the fact that the cover featured some aspect of what went on in the book, even though sometimes it was a very small aspect of the story.  It was still cool to learn what may be coming in the next 22 pages, and a good way to advertise.  In the real old days, the covers would often show the good guy in dire straits, while the bad guy stood over him, seemingly triumphant, and there would even be dialogue on the cover.  The bad guy would say something like, "Prepare to meet your doom at the hands of the vile Paste Pot Pete!"  And the hero would be lying on the ground, covered in paste.  Now, the good guy would usually recover and beat the bad guy with his wits, but the cover gave you the indication that the bad guy at least got this far.

John and I thought it would be a good idea, given the nature of our book, to have cover that did a bit of both: reflected what went on in the story, but also showcased the characters in that pin-up way.  Also, through John's amazing coloring at IDW, he had the opportunity to work with a couple of brilliant artists who were willing to do covers for us.  I mean, we paid them, obviously, but since they were only drawing the cover and not the whole book, we could use their name value to hopefully sell the book, and get a pretty snazzy cover out of it.

We first reached out to Robert Atkins, an artist whom we loved when we was working on IDW's G.I. Joe re-launch in 2008.  Unfortunately, because Robert was in such high demand, he took awhile to get around to us, so his cover was bumped from issue #1 in favor of Stephen Molnar's cover, which I posted in the second post on November 2nd.  Still Robert did an excellent job, based on a very small description of the book:

If you'll notice, the cover features the characters doing what they do, but it also reflects aspects of the story.  Without giving away too much, Akira is on his jetpack, and there's a scary mummy in the background.  (Spoiler warning!)

That trend continues with the second two issues, which features a huge underwater battle between Faith's buds and UMBRA agents.  Issue #4's cover by Pedro Potier may be the best one of the bunch, but maybe because I'm a swimmer:             

 And, in case you were interested, yes, John did all the colors on these, so we can, and should, thank him for his amazing work.  And buy all the books he works on.  And buy Faith,when it comes out.  And just generally support this stuff.  These are our modern myths people (More on that in a future post.  Probably tomorrow.  I got a month to fill here.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #7 - Making Comics

I wrote a lot yesterday about how we got to this point in the creative process in my recap of our search for an artist, and it got me thinking about how much goes into making one 22-page comic (No wonder Marvel's always late!) 
First off, we had to write the thing, which took us awhile, since John and I wanted to really get this one right.  We pored over every line of dialogue, and since we don't really live near each other anymore, we would sometimes do it together, sometimes over Skype, and sometimes email drafts back and forth.  Unfortunately, since this process has literally taken years, and we have seen a few computers come and go in that time, and I'm not a very good organizer in the first place, some data was lost.  Also, as I said in an earlier post, I did a lot of research on this one, mostly for Akira's dialogue, but also because I wanted to include real facts about the places our heroes visit.  So, it was time-consuming, but very rewarding.  Back in our Secret Monkey days, John and I could bang out an issue pretty quick, but that was mostly for our own enjoyment.  It was no less rewarding, but we were trying to do something a little more meaningful than poke fun at old comics.  Still, we did get 16 issues in the can in almost no time.  Those were the days.    
Beyond writing and drawing it, however, there is still more to be done.  Thankfully, Faith's creator also works in the biz, so we had a letterer and colorist on hand.  Unfortunately, being that coloring and lettering is also John's full-time job, it was hard to justify spending time on it when he should be spending time on the actual paying work (Hey, the guy had just bought a house.)  So, some of faith's color work was done (and is being done) by outside forces that John knew through his various comic connections.  This is great because I love spreading the work around and helping these unsung comic heroes earn money, but it's a bit of a loss because John is an amazing colorist.  And if I may throw in a cheap plug, he'll be featured in the Athena Voltaire book from Dark Horse, so watch for that.
There is also something called inking that most comics require.  Thankfully, Mark, our second half artist, did his own, but we had to hire one for the rest.  If anyone remembers that scene from Chasing Amy, you can probably figure out what the inker does, but regardless of what side of the inker/tracer fence you sit on, it is necessary.
This is all just to actually complete the book, but if you ask me, that's the easy part.  the hard part?  getting anyone to read that damn thing.  Which I guess is part of the reason I'm doing all this in the first place.  These days, self-publishing is a lot easier than it was when we started Secret Monkey over a decade ago.  In fact, Kickstarter is now the #2 publisher of graphic novels in the country.  Your chances of striking gold are minimal, but if you just want to see your creative work out there, and have people enjoy it, and want to see a job well done, now is the time.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #6 - The Artist Drama

We're only six days into November, and I already have forgotten if I've posted some this stuff before.  If I have, sorry.
I wanted to get into the history of this comic a little bit, but to do that, I have to tell the story of our various artists.  Since we had some small issues with one of them, he shall remain nameless.    God love him, but it was just one of those relationships that didn't work out.
When John came to me with the idea, it was with the knowledge that he would not be drawing the book, as he did on The Secret Monkey, and everything else we had worked on in our lives.  Years of coloring and lettering comics had made him want to try his hand at the writing side of things.  So, it was decided that we would write the thing, hire an artist through the wonders of the internets, and pitch it to companies.  For this, we only had to initially shell out for the artist to do our five-page pitch, so we took to the message boards to see if anyone would bite.  We got several responses, and several different versions of our characters, which is really cool, in retrospect.  To wit, here to two Akiras.  The colored one we used.  The pencilled one was drawn by someone else.  No less cool, but he probably wanted more money or something.

In the end, we picked a very talented young man from The Phillipines that had the style John was looking for (and who drew the Akira on the right).  Our five pages came very quickly, so we asked him if he would also do our cover.  We paid him, John colored his pages, we made some copies, and headed to San Diego Comic-Con to pitch to the studios!
Very bad idea.  The Con has become such a beast that it's extremely hard to make your voice heard for something like this.  Still, we kept trying to break in as we finished writing the first story-arc.  The bad news?  Our fast and talented artist was now busy working on another project that was a sure thing.  So we took to the internets again and found another talented artist.  Unfortunately, this one not as fast.  Still, he was good.  As an example, here was his version of Akira.
Sadly, years passed, and even though we were paying this artist, the pages literally trickled in.  Not only that, but there seemed to be a bit of a language barrier, as parts of the script were completely misinterpreted, and a lot of the characters seemed to be smiling all the time.  He also insisted on being paid by International money order or something, which was really annoying because the other guy was cool being paid by Paypal.
Because he was good, and we were rubes who had already hired him, we kept him on to finish the first two issues of the first story arc, which was four issues.  Waiting for him to finish four issues might have taken decades.  Plus, John had the added frustration of fixing all of his mistakes, which lead us to decide he deserved an art credit for a book that he initially said he didn't want to draw.

Fortunately, our first artist recommended his brother to us (after we went and begged him to come back.)  His brother, Mark, was also very talented, and even faster.  Mark finished his pages faster than our second artist, and he came on way later.  Not only that, but we paid mark a little more to touch up some of the pages that the other guy had muffed.  And he was so fast and good, that I hired him a couple years ago to pencil my five-page story for my Comics Experience Writing Class.
After all these years and all these artists (to draw 4 issues of a comic), we're pretty close.  Some inking and coloring to be done, and that's why we need the Kickstarter backing, which I will hopefully be able to update you on soon, because I'm running out of ideas for this blog.

Monday, November 05, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #5 - No Faith. The Comic, that is.

No Faith update today, because tomorrow is Election Day, and I am worried.  I've heard a lot of conflicting things, but one thing that stands out in my mind is that, no matter who wins, it will be close, which means there's a good chance we could have a repeat of the 2000 Election debacle, and it also means that the winner will be in a lot of trouble because half the country will not like anything he does.  I should have faith (and, yes, Faith), but I don't.  So, in case anyone else is feeling Election Day jitters, maybe this will help.  I'm re-posting my blog-post from Obama's inauguration 4 years ago, to try and recapture the hope (and faith) I had on that day (and I was a cynical bastard back then).  It was called "Unclenching my Fist," which was a great quote from The President's speech regarding problems in the Middle East.  It went something like, "They must be willing to extend their hand, and we must be willing to unclench our fist."  It struck me then, and it strikes me now.

So, enjoy, and have faith.

Unclenching my Fist...

I figured I would give my take on yesterday's Inauguration. I'm sure it's been written about ad nauseum, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want. besides, being a very opinionated person, I'm sure my thoughts matter immensely. That's what the internets are all about, right?

First of all, I don't mean to blame my bitterness and cynicism in life on George W. Bush. I've never met the guy, of course, but he seems rather boob-ish and ignorant. Were he some uncle that I only saw at family functions, I would laugh at his antics, such as forgetting the names of foreign dignitaries and not knowing the old "Fool me once..." saying. But where he was, in fact, the leader of my country, and he sort had the fate of millions in his greasy, dumb hands, yeah, no, I wasn't laughing. I spent the last 8 years hating him. And I use the word hate here in the way it was intended. I get annoyed by a lot of things (mostly everything), but I reserve hatred for the really bad things, like George W. Bush. And Dick Cheney. And the fires of Hell.

Eight years is a long time. It's a long time to carry hatred in your heart. For awhile, I hated my ex-girlfriend for racking up charges on my credit cards and forcing me into debt and despair. But that faded with time. I also hated another of my exes for awhile, because she was just a stupid bitch. Now I just pity her for being a stupid bitch, because she is stupid and couldn't help herself. The hatred faded. Time heals all wounds.

But I did hate George Bush and Dick Cheney for 8 years, and it never faded. So, while I don't blame them directly for the state my life is in, it weighed on me to carry that around all that time, and certainly didn't help matters. The fact that he was flushing the country down the toilet, and made very few decisions I actually agreed with, didn't help, but I hated him from the first time I even heard he was running, and the fact that people actually voted for him, twice, made me hate him and most of the country. How could people in this century be so blind? Not all of them were, of course, since he didn't actually get the majority of the votes the first time, but... Deep breaths. It was 8 years ago.

I think now the hatred can begin to fade a little. Granted, we're still in a gigantic mess that will take years to clean up, but watching the Inauguration yesterday, knowing that there were hundreds of students in the lobby of CGS watching it on TV's that I had set up, and several classes were watching it on projected laptops that I hooked up (small feats, I know, but it's something), I was washed with feelings of hope and happiness for the first time in 8 years. And it felt wonderful. I may never not hate Bush and Cheney, but I can stop carrying it around so much, because I know we are headed in the right direction.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #4 - Da Bad Guys

I figured, after introducing our heroes, I might as well introduce the antagonists of this story.  Besides, encountering ancient evils like mummies and the like, Faith and Co. must do battle with the evil terrorist organization known as U.M.B.R.A.  I have a slight confession to make, however, that I have no idea what the letters stand for.  I'm pretty sure it's along the lines of SPECTRE from the Bond Movies, or if you're an old Marvel fan, A.I.M. without the yellow buckets on their heads.

U.M.B.R.A.'s leader is a man called Van Buren.  The bio I wrote awhile back goes like this: "Van Buren used to be a colleague and a close friend of the Chancerys. (Faith's parents if you're paying attention).  Eventually, his greed caused him to turn on them, intent on obtaining the powerful weapons components they recently unearthed on for himself, to sell to the highest bidder.  He has used the wealth he stole from his former allies while working with them to establish a vast network or spies, as well as a cadre of formidable warriors who will stop at nothing to stop Faith and attain the weapon components for their master."  Thus far, we've only seen a couple members of this cadre, but there are many more to come, as Van Buren is more of an office CEO-type.  But, like any terrorist organization, UMBRA has its share of grunts.
A quick note on the origin of UMBRA (in case you're wondering where the Hell we come up with stuff); UMBRA was a name John came up with in our Secret Monkey days as an evil organization that was the nemesis to SQUAD, which was our send-off of Marvel's SHIELD, well before Samuel L. Jackson became the leader of those guys.  UMBRA just sounds kind of bad, but it was intended to be kind of jokey, at first.  Ah, well, you can't always be funny.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #3 - Support Group

As promised, a quick view of Faith's besties and helpers in her globetrotting quest to rescue her parents and fight the forces of evil.

We'll start with Faith best friend, Akira.  Akira is wildly intelligent, basically a walking encyclopedia.  Writing his dialogue required more research than I've ever done on anything, possibly including high school term papers.  Of course, there was no Google when I was in high school.  For example, when our heroes find themselves in Cairo, Akira knows all about the local customs and culture, but I didn't, so yeah, some research there.  He basically fights with his mind, because he's a bit of a geek, but he combines his "book smarts" with a heavy dose of street savvy, since he grew up there before he was caught pick-pocketing and soon adopted by...

Hoyt Manning, our man of action!  Hoyt is a good friend and loyal employee of Faith's parents, so when they kidnapped by the terrorists, he vows to ensure her safety and accompanies her on her crazy missions (and besides, someone has to drive!)  Hoyt does actually have a hand, but our first artist thought it would be cool to give him what he called an "Impact Arm, " and we thought that was just awesome.  We originally told him to draw him as Duke from the old 80's G.I. Joe cartoon, but he's not a military man, so he was drawn as a more engineer-type. His official title is "weapons tester," I believe, but I always thought of him more as "Rhodey" from the older Iron Man comics, sort of a Jack of all trades.  Writing Hoyt required less research. since he's pretty much a meat-and--potatoes kind of guy. In fact, he was probably my favorite character to write the dialogue for, because he is rather fearless, so no matter what hair-raising situation he may find himself in, he can crack a joke, and I love writing a witty zinger when appropriate.  I hope John doesn't mind me spoiling my favorite line of dialogue from issue #1.  When he sees the villains have launched missiles at them, Hoyt reacts by saying, "We've got trouble... Heat-seeking trouble."  Hehe.  It's the little things...  Sometime down the road, you may see the Hoyt solo story that John and I penned.  That's a classic.

So, those are the good guys.  Hopefully, tomorrow I will reveal what little there is to reveal about the villains, but secret terrorist organizations usually keep things under wraps, so we'll see.  In the meantime, go see Wreck-it Ralph.  Good times if you love Pixar and/or video games.  And get there early to see the Paperman short that plays before it.  Ridiculously funny and, dare I say, sweet.

Friday, November 02, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #2 - Meeting Faith

Yeah, I know that Post #1 was mere hours ago, but that was 11:30p.m.  on November 1st and this is 3:30p.m. on November 2nd, and if I'm going to do a post every day for a month, this is the kind of thing that's going to happen.  Plus, I'm seeing a 10:05 showing of Wreck-It Ralph tonight, so if I don't do it now, I'll miss my deadline.  Also, nyah, nyah!

After some positive feedback, I thought I'd give people a small taste of what Faith (the girl from the comic) looks like.  First of all, all credit goes to john Hunt on this one.  I had nothing to do with her creation.  You might say through writing the dialogue that I had a little to do with fleshing out the supporting characters, but really, you would be stroking my ego.  This is John's party, and I'm just glad I got invited and get to drink at it.

So, meet Faith Chancery:
Faith has changed a little since her humble beginnings.  She's gotten a little bit older and... shall we say, chestier.  She was originally envisioned to be a very young teenager, more in the anime-style, but this is comics, and most of the readers will be male, so she was made to be a couple years older and more developed.  This was originally the suggestion of the publisher who we walked away from, but some of the art was already done, so we kept it.  They say sex sells, and they be right, and there's really nothing wrong with it as long as it's a good story.

This is one of our covers, and my favorite.  We commissioned Star Trek artist Stephen Molnar to draw this for us, and he did an amazing job.  Worth every penny.  Colored, of course, by the master himself, John Hunt.

Here she is in her original form, and pretty much the way she looks in the book.  A tad more spritely here, fitting her character.  It's not a real heavy story (despite the fact that it features terrorists and ancient evils), so we wanted her to reflect that.  It's a fun, old-fashioned adventure story for all ages, really.  This one wasn't colored, but she will still have purple hair in the book, don't worry.
Stay tuned, folks.  Tomorrow, I will hopefully give you some insight into those supporting characters, I mentioned, and a few more artwork teasers.  Maybe even tell you a bit about Wreck-it Ralph.  

Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #1 - Gotta Have Faith

While reading my brother and sister-in-law's blog over here, I learned that this month is National Blog Posting Month, a.k.a.NaBloPoMo, and if you can pronounce it, I say you're probably a better writer than me and you can probably craft a smarter blog.

But I digress.  I've decided to participate, since I've been neglecting this blog for awhile (I find that when life is good, I write much less.  Curious.)  But I don't want to ramble on about my life.  I want to actually talk about something that I feel passionate about, and this seems like a good opportunity to break a story that's been cooking for awhile.

A few years ago, my longtime friend and writing partner, John Hunt, came up with an idea for a comic book and asked if I would help him write the script.  He and I had collaborated many times before, but it had been awhile, and I think I had emailed him one day and said, "I want to get back to work," and he pitched me the idea of Faith in the Unknown.  The idea was simple: John felt that there were few adventure comics for kids anymore, and there were even fewer that appealed to girls, so Faith (the title character) is a teenage girl who travels the globe getting into adventures and trying to rescue her kidnapped parents, or as we pitched it, "Kim Possible meets Young Indiana Jones."  Basically, we wanted to write the kinds of stories we enjoyed as kids.  The first story arc alone has jet-pack fight, a mummy, and a giant shark, so how can it go wrong, right?

After writing a couple issues, we commissioned an artist to draw us a five-page pitch, and headed to San Diego Comic-Con.  Unfortunately, we learned that the damn place is so crowded, that no one really has time to listen to pitches unless you get on a list that is about a mile long.  John was able to use his industry contacts as a colorist and letterer to get us a tentative deal with a small-press publisher, but we soon learned that the company (which shall remain nameless) only pays on the back-end, and there is no guarantee that you will ever make any money, or that they'll ever even distribute issue #2 even if you do get them to take issue #1.  So, we walked away from that one.  Meanwhile, we had paid another artist to finish the book, because our first one had found other, steady work (He was that good!)  This second artist was from The Philippines, so there was a language barrier we had to encounter.  Even though we paid him gobs of money, we had to pay someone else to finish it up and then even re-draw a bunch of the pages because they were not what we wanted (John himself had to do a lot of drawing work on it.)

Fast-forward a few years, and suddenly Kickstarter is now the #2 publisher of graphic novels in the U.S., and printing costs for graphic novels has also come way down.  So, this month, we plan to set up our Kickstater campaign and earn enough money to finally, after several years, to print Faith in the Unknown, at least the first story arc.  I'm finishing up our video and taking care of the legal mumbo-jumbo, so stay tuned to this blog to follow our progress.  I'll be making an announcement pretty soon when the Faith Kickstarter campaign is live.  Stay tuned, and this month, you might see a dream come true.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Health Update: Adventures Suck When You're Having Them

The title may draw you in, but this will be a simple one.  And probably the last Health Update for quite awhile.  People still ask how I'm doing, so I figure I'll throw it out there.

For any newbies, in March of 2011, I started feeling really tired and my blood sugar was completely out-of-whack, so I did what any right-minded person would do in my situation: I went to my chiropractor.  He told me that my iron count was extremely low, and I should probably go to my doctor.  So I went to see my PCP, and his initial reaction when he walked in was, "You don't look very good."  Later that evening, I received a call that my white blood cell count was ridiculously low, so low that they actually thought there must have been some kind of lab mix-up, because no human should have such numbers and be upright.  An ambulance was sent, and I was quite discombobulated.  The ambulance drivers asked what the problem was, and when I told them I didn't know, they said, "Well, you called us."  I most certainly did not, was my reply.  It was eventually discovered that I had Wegener's Vasculitis.

Long story short, after three hospital stays totaling over a month, a collapsed lung, a bone marrow biopsy, two blood transfusions, countless chest-rays and MRI's, and a revolutionary lung-wash technique, I was on my way to recovery.  Of course, that was just the beginning.  I had a visiting nurse and a daily infusion of anti-biotics for a couple months, plus all kinds of expensive pills and crap I had to take.  I also had 4-hour infusions of a chemo drug called rituxim-ab every six months.  I can pretty much only sum it all up by saying it sucked. 

So, here's the update; Because life is so damn funny, nobody really knows what the long term effects of the chemo drug are, but I have at least one more coming in December, and then hopefully we play at wait-and-see.  As long as my bloodwork comes back looking normal, I won't be doing that anymore.  The real good news, which I just received last week, is that I can start dialing down the prednisone.  Last year, I was put on 80 mills, and for anyone who hung out with me remembers, it made me kind of nuts (prompting my friends and I to coin the awesome phrase "roid-weird."  My goal is to one day get that in the Oxford English Dictionary.  Or at the very least, the Urban Dictionary.)  I am now on four milligrams, and in eight weeks, I can lower it to three, and so on, lowering the dose every eight weeks.  I'm not sure how anyone weened themselves off of prednisone without the benefit of an Outlook Calendar, because I sure as Hell wouldn't remember it.

I am still on a drug called lisinopril for my ravaged kidney, and have to take calcium and vitamin D every day because the steroids effect your bone density, but other than that, everything's coming up Milhouse.  Considering how low I was just over a year ago, I have absolutely no complaints now.  Well, okay, I could use a little more money, but other than that...

So, for Dursin's Final Thought (hopefully) on the matter, I have unsolicited advice for anyone willing to listen.  If not, that's okay, too.

A.) I've said this before, but I can't stress it enough.  If you feel weird, or feel pain, or not right in anyway and you can't figure it out, go see someone.  Probably not a chiropractor, either, but whoever you trust to be able to go to and say, "Hey, I don't know what this is, but something isn't right."  Most people (myself included) want to believe that "This too shall pass," but sometimes, things don't.  I know a lot of people who have been stricken with all kinds of rare diseases, and thankfully, all of them have sought the proper treatment and are fine now.  But you'll always read about someone going to the doctor for some small thing, and then they discover something horrible.  Don't let it go.  Seek help.

B.) if you do find yourself in a situation like mine, or any pain at all, really, and a nurse asks you what your pain level is on a scale of 1-10, don't say 3, if it's 7 or 8.  There's no point in being a martyr.  If you're there, the point is to feel better.  Take the pain-killers.  They will monitor you, and never give you more than you absolutely need, so you're not going to become an addict.  But there's no point in lying there and being in a lot of pain if they can give you something to relive it.

Okay, I don't want to get too preachy.  But, we only live once.  Might as well do it right.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kickball Revisited

So, a few years ago (specifically, Sept. 24, 2009), I wrote about my kickball team, and how kickball was way more fun than it had any right to be, and how The Hang-overs had struggled and clawed and made the play-offs only to be defeated by the eventual winners, who went undefeated that year.  And I mostly hated them and their strategies and their trying.  Even though one of their players told us that we had played them harder than any team they had played all year, and he loved playing us, I still kind of hated them.
Fast-forward to 2012, and I'm pretty sure we are now that team.  The Hang-overs, much like the Red Sox (although, not the 2012 Red Sox.  More like 2007), have evolved from the lovable underdogs into the team that you expect to win every week.  Well, that's because we have.  And I'm not bragging, but a look at the standings has us winning with scores of 24-3, 24-4, 16-2, and 18-3, and a couple really close ones with the other green team, whom we will probably end up playing in the championship game.  And they probably hate us just like I hated the winners back in 2009.  I think that 2009 team that I hated even wore dark green shirts, which our team now has (in the years since our initial red, we have had yellow and a weird burnt orange-colored shirts.  So, I am totally fine with green.)
Point is, yeah, we're 7-0, and everybody hates us.  Except maybe the orange team, who didn't have enough to field a team last week, so a few of us jumped in, and almost defeated the other green team, who is our nemesis.  So this is what's like to be on that side of things.  This is what it's like to be the unstoppable juggernaut that the rest of the league can't stand.  This is what it's like to be the Yankees.

Hung-over in Burnt Orange

But before you break out the crying towel for because we have lost our lovable loser status, let me say this; the last two years, we have been in the championship game and lost, and last year we lost in extra innings.  And I was on the mound and coughed up the winning run then.  After my big comeback that year, I really thought that it would be fitting for us to win it then.  But alas, we lost.  So, this year, after being so close three years in a row and not winning it all, I really don't care if we do have to stomp all over every other team.  I want to drink out of that fucking cup.
This Sunday is the last regular season game, and the following week is the play-offs.  Alert ESPN.  The Hang-overs are coming.   

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First Dance

My phone died, so I don't have the original video anymore, but I posted it to facebook in my phone's final moments, so let's hope this works

Awesome day...

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Crew

This past weekend, I attended a big, awesome, fun wedding, joining my friends Bryce and Heather.  This one had been on my radar for awhile, as weddings tend to do, but it was also something noteworthy for me because I remember reading the news of their engagement last Easter while I was in the hospital.  So, being able to attend was a big bonus for me.

Also being a good friend of the whole family, I was asked to help a little with the prep-work (along with a few other close friends, or "The Band," as we soon dubbed ourselves.)  We gladly got to the reception hall/barn early and helped set up various tables, pictures, flowers, water jars, a microphone stand, etc, little odds and ends that add up to a lot of work in the end.  The kicker is that, despite the blistering heat and ticking clock, not one of us complained.  Even me, and I can whine like a little bitch when I want to.

But not when it's worth it.  Not when you're working for a good cause, and for people you care about.  And okay, I get a charge out of it.  It was really fun to help out, and to be part of something.  Part of the crew.  Weddings obviously bring out a lot of different emotions in people, so this is what I got out of it.  And not being married myself, and not being attached at 36 and not knowing if I will ever really be married, I may feel differently than some, but here goes; I was talking to the groom's sister and her husband the day after, and they said that they don't have "great friends like this" where they live.  I told them that a handful of years ago, I didn't even know most of these people but now  they are friends.  We are now members of a crew now.  I have crazy opinions about marriage and what it means, but the wedding itself, I'll admit, I love it, because it is the joining of two people in front of friends and family, so to be one of those friends, in that select group, especially with people that I didn't know not too long ago, means a lot.  it means that you've established lasting friendships over that short amount of time, and what is a marriage if not a lasting friendship?

The Band
There's a line in "Goodfellas" about bring part of a crew, and I can't remember it or find it now, but it ran though my head over the weekend.  When Bryce and Heather made their way to my table to thank me for coming, I turned around and thanked them for having me.  Bryce said, "Why wouldn't we have you?"  I replied, "Because I'm just some weird guy you know."  instead of blowing it off and saying, "Nah, you're not a weird guy," he said, "We're all weird guys."  A whole crew of weird guys (and by "guys," I also mean the girls.  We certainly do not discriminate in this crew.)

That's why I gladly helped with the set-up.  That's why this crew all still ask how I am feeling, and some even visited me in the hospital last year.  We all party together, and drink together.  And this may sound like a stretch, but most of us are on the same kickball team year and year, and this year, we are undefeated, and basically mowing most of the league down.  We are a team.  A band. 

A crew.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

If I could Go Back... Retrospective Part II

Doing a little more self-discovery, and I recently found something I had written way back in 1997.  It was a really long-ass story about my relationship at the time, which was tumultuous to say the least.  Writing it as the whole thing was going on colored my opinions in a very odd way, and probably not a good one.  Still, it did help me remember all the little details because, reading it 15 years later, I realized my memory really isn’t very good.  Most definitely the booze is to blame on that one.
First, the background: around 1996, through my friend, Brian, met this girl Audra.  Even though Brian was courting her at the time, I was young and angry and stupid, and I heard she thought I was cute, so I tried to insert myself right in the middle of it.  The second Brian told me they were finished, I got her number and asked her on a date.  We pseudo-dated for a couple months, but perhaps because of the way I had won her, I was always very timid about the whole thing (despite most of my friends rightly telling me to just go for it.)  I never even considered her my girlfriend until she told me that she had cheated on me (with a man that I had always assumed was gay.) How could she cheat on me if we weren’t going out, right?  So, because I was young and angry and stupid, I forgave that one and we got “back together.”   As I recall, she slept with him again, and I started to finally get mad and we broke up but stayed friends, and eventually, we got back together yet again.
Eventually, Brian came back into our lives, and pretty soon, she was sleeping with him.  According to what I had written in my story, after I found out, he and I talked it over and in his mind, we agreed that we would both walk away from Audra and preserve our friendship.  I don’t recall that, but I do recall calling her up soon after and asking what the Hell was going on.  Brian, as the story goes, then got mad at me for lying to him and betraying him, even though he had technically slept with my girlfriend.  Still, I had sort of stolen her away, even though they never really were going out.  It's all very nebulous as far as who was actually dating who.  This was way before the saying “Bros before ho’s” came into being, but I’m pretty sure this event was the reason it did.
Anyway, long story short, she and I dated off and on for about two years, and she cheated on me numerous times, with a gay dude and with one of my best friends.  In October of 1998, I found out that Keri was into me and so I broke it off to explore a more viable option.  It was a break-up that was long overdue, and yet it seemed to come as a huge shock to Audra, despite all the fucking around she had done.  See, I had told her for two years that I would always love her, and I guess she was holding me to that.  I’m not going to say it was pillow talk, because at the time I did think I would always love her, and I thought that love was about forgiveness and loving someone despite of all their faults.  I have since learned that while it is about those things, it’s not about treating the person who loves you like crap.  I’m not even totally blaming her in all this, because in retrospect, she was probably battling undiagnosed depression and was covering it up by getting guys to like her.  She was also bulimic, so you do the math.  Thing is, I did love her, even with all her horrible mistakes, so if she had shown me even the slightest bit of affection in return, I would have stayed.  We had already been through a lifetime of crap in just two years, so all she had to do was play nice, and I would probably be with her right now.  It would be a horrible existence, but I would be there.  But I guess she thought that I would always love her, as I said, so she could be a bitch, or even worse, just phone it in and I would always be there.  Because I was the good guy.
Well, I ain’t that good.  I am the nice guy, sure, but I'm not a sap.  The question is who is to blame? Obviously, she wasn't very faithful, so it's easy to just look at the situation in black-and-white and say she was.  But was she simply reacting to a guy who was rather hopelessly in love with her, and neither of us really knew what to do with that?  To be honest, part of me thinks that her final infidelity really was her final infidelity, and it did occur while I was spending my final semester of under-grad in Los Angeles, and I wasn't even sure I was going to come back, so we had decided that we would just see where we stood after the semester was over.  I honestly think she was actually growing up at that point.
And while it was shitty to sleep with Brian, it was probably equally shitty of me to steal her away from him in the first place (karma and all that), so I don't have a lot of moral high-ground there.  Sleeping with the gay dude, well, okay, that sucked, but back then, it was hard to tell where we stood at any given time because we were breaking up and remaining friends and getting back together for awhile there.  So, it was at least partly my fault for not nailing that down, so to speak, and for being so wishy-washy.
In the end, I guess it doesn't matter who is to blame, but since I'm on this kick of trying to figure this stuff out, it was on my mind.  Clearly, all this messed me up as far as relationships go, because I'm pretty sure that I would never put up with that kind of bullshit again.  But have I gone too far with that line of thinking?  Am I now unwilling to put up with just about anything?  Have these experiences made me unable to compromise on anything?  
All that I can really glean from all of it was that we were not meant for each other, even though at the time I was sure we were.  In the end, as the song goes, she just kind of wasted my precious time.  So, once again, when people ask what I would change if I had a Way-Back Machine, I would leave Audra after the first time she cheated on me, and honestly, I would have to think about if I would even date her at all.  Because when people say things like, "Yeah but all those things made you who you are and brought you to this place," I can't help but wonder if either of those are good things, and a good place.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Retrospective: Part I

Not sure if there will ever be a Part II, but we'll see.  Anyway, I've started looking back on a lot of things that I had glossed over in my memory, for whatever reason (usually because it's an embarrassing or painful memory, in fact.)  This one came up recently, and I finally decided to give it some thought.

I'm pretty sure it was early 1999, and I was still a rather fresh college graduate, and had a semi-fresh girlfriend of 4-5 months.  She was also semi-young, for while I was a bright 22 year-old, ready to conquer the world, she was a spritely 17, ready to conquer high school.  At the time, it wasn't that big a deal as far as our personalities, because I got act youngish while I was with her.  Technically, she wasn't "legal," as they say, but waiting until her next birthday was simply not an option.  Still, it should be noted that, despite our great mutual attraction, we did not rush into anything.  It was actually almost two months before we actually went all the way.

If I haven't grossed everyone out yet, get ready for it.  One Sunday morning, her parents were out, so she and I took advantage out the opportunity (a couple times, in fact.)  And then it happened.  Every young man's fear at that stage of their lives.  We got caught.  Her father came home from church(!) and saw us having sex on the living room floor.  Even writing this now makes my skin crawl, when i see his face in my mind.  It was literally the most embarrassing thing I have ever done.  I wanted to run out of the house immediately and never return.

Oddly enough, as irrational as my girlfriend could be at times, in that moment, she was unbelievably calm, and said that we should just go talk to him, and that he was probably just as embarrassed as we were (although I highly doubted that.)  She had a very complex relationship with her father (sometimes despising him, most times pitying him), so I had no idea which way this would go, but I trusted her judgment, and we apologized, and soon enough, the matter passed and it was never brought up again, until now, I suppose.  Actually, it has become, like so many other incidents of my misspent love-life, the stuff of bar stories, tales I tell to my drunken friends to get a laugh as we try to top each other in a Most-Embarrassing Moment Contest.

Looking back with a lot of perspective now, I put myself in his shoes.  Maybe he was as embarrassed as we were, but there was probably a lot more going through his head than that.  No matter how complex their relationship was, here was his only daughter, his smart, beautiful, funny, creative, caring (underage) daughter, who volunteered at a home for developmentally disabled adults and had spent a summer in Ecuador building homes after an earthquake, getting pounded on his living room floor by some hairy Neanderthal who was five years older than her.  He had every right to kill me, but he did not.  I mean, I know he liked me and all, but what was he really thinking?   Part of him was maybe glad that his daughter seemed happy with me.  Part of him may have been embarrassed because he probably assumed we were having sex (he might have even known she was on the pill), but would rather not have seen it.

But maybe, more than embarrassed, part of him felt old, that his little girl was all grown up.  yet another instance of the passage of time.  Sure, in numbers she was 17, and he was probably in his mid-40's (maybe ten years older than I am now, interestingly enough), but he maybe didn't feel like all that much time had passed since she was born, until he saw her all grown up with his own eyes.  And I was at least partly responsible for that.  Fifty percent, I guess.  looking back, I don't feel like it was that long ago, and it was thirteen years.  I was just a stupid, arrogant kid who never thought this would happen.

About four years later, I broke up with his daughter, and my life certainly began to unravel.  However, since we were living together at the time, she had to eventually move back home with her parents.  The complex relationship completely exploded, helped in no small part by her fragile state after the break-up (my life unraveled, but she hit rock bottom, which is a whole other story.) Her mother threw her father out, and they eventually divorced.  I have no idea where any of them are now, or what they are doing, but I obviously still remember them, and wonder if they remember me.  Probably not as fondly, as I was the guy who indirectly ruined a marriage and destroyed an innocent young girl.  All these years later, I'm probably just some dude who got caught having sex on their floor, just like in my bar stories, where she is simply the girl I got caught having sex with. 

I know that time heals all wounds and all that, but looking back on it, and putting the emotion back into the scenario, it makes me wonder a lot things.  What was he thinking at that moment?  What would I have done were I him?  Did he think of it every time he saw me?  More importantly, for my own benefit, why did I even do it, knowing he was coming home soon?  And most importantly of all, why did I laugh it off all these years as just another crazy thing that happened to me?

When I get into those conversations where people say that they wouldn't change anything if they could go back in time, I now fervently disagree.  They then ask, "What would you change?"

"Everything," I say.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Comics as Rain-hats

I'm not sure if a lot of people will get this if they're not into comics, but hopefully it'll be poignant enough for a mass audience.  not that the 2 people who will read it can be considered a mass audience, but still, I said I would write more and so here I go.

So, anyway, yeah, I read comics, and consequently don't date very often (or, perhaps more accurately, very well.)  For years, I've sold off a large portion of my collection, usually when a movie of that character came out, only to have it build back up, since I usually go to the store every week.  I'm not usually into buying old ones, but keep up with new stuff, of course.  And I'm not one of those people who spends $60-70 bucks a week, either.  Usually $20 per visit is my max.  Still in "hobby" area.

Recently, I started selling off even more of my collection, even the old ones I was saving for a rainy day in the hopes that they would one day be worth tons of money.  Old (well, twenty-five years or so) Spider-Man comics.  Old Avengers that I bought at R & R in Whitman when I was really young and I just wanted to get a little history lesson.  Even recent stuff that I bought, read, and decided I would probably never read again.  Not a lot is off the table these days.  Mostly the few good things from the last decade and stuff that is pretty worthless anyway.

A quick look at my recent ebay history shows this: Dark Avengers (Full Run) #1-16 for $21, Fatale #1-5 (Full Run) $24.  Red Robin (Full Run) #1-26 for $47.51.  Secret Avengers #1-12 for $11.51.  That doesn't include the individual ones (old Spideys and Avengers) I sold for less that $2.00 each, or Amazing Spider-Man #319, which apparently was in less-than stellar condition and the buyer asked for a refund.  I gladly gave it, but he didn't have to be such a wanker about it.  Plus, a few trade paperbacks on Amazon (adding up to a grand total of about $20.)  I've also sold long runs of Iron Man and Spider-Man recently, but eBay only lets you look back for 60 days.

Point?  I'm still flat broke!  These things that I was saving for a rainy day?  Well, it's pouring, and I'm still getting wet.  I guess soggy, old comics don't make for much of a rain-hat.

Mixed metaphors aside, it kind of makes me sad.  And not in a "Gee, I wish I had more money way,"  or because I feel like I made a bad investment, because comics as an investment are definitely a terrible idea.  More because this huge part of my youth, and my life now, is sort of a waste.  Even the stuff I read now I've pretty much forgotten about it ten minutes later, so the idea that I get a lot of enjoyment out of it is not 100% correct.  Comics are mostly something to eat over my Corn Flakes.

At least Corn Flakes are still enjoyable.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fenway Park: A Life

Every Bostonian knows the Red Sox suck right now.  But at least we do have something to be happy about: the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park.  (Unless you've been living under a rock, it'sthis weekend.)  As a long-time fan and as someone who has been to the place many, many times, I thought I'd write about it a little.
I attended the Open House they had the other day, and despite it being packed with people, it was a great experience.  We walked the Green Monster seats, went though the press box, walked in some sections that I'll probably never sit in, and generally soaked in the atmosphere.  The line for the dugout and stuff was really long, but honestly, I never pass up any opportunity to go into Fenway Park, so just being there was enough.
The thing is, no matter how disappointing the team is, Fenway is a place unlike any other.  Yeah, you could say it's just a place to watch baseball (and hockey, and see concerts...)  But there is no place to watch baseball like it in the universe.  I would like to think if I was born in Pittsburgh and was a Pirates fan, I would still like Fenway Park.  And it would be easy to complain about the cramped seats and the poles blocking your vision, and the high prices and disgusting restrooms.  But even I can't do that,  It's Fenway.  That is part of its character.  It's like in life and relationships.  Nobody is perfect, and accepting someone for who they are is part of being in the relationship.  Fenway is not perfect, but you accept the faults as part of the place.  If not for these things, would it be the same?  Okay, maybe the high prices can go, but the rest?  No way.
Over the last 30 years or so, I have some great memories of being in Fenway Park.  I remember sitting in the bleachers for my first game, and really expecting a home run up there.  I remember the second game of their big winning streak in 1988, when Kevin Romine won the game in the bottom of the ninth with a home run.  I remember watching the roided-up Oakland A's take batting practice and just launching balls over thw wall and onto Landsdowne St., and I remember my favorite player at the time, Jose Canseco, signing an autograph for me, and almost getting crushed agaist the wall by home plate getting it, but I still have that card.  I remember the clinching game in 1995, when literally 35,000 people erupting in unison when Jeff Reardon got the final strikeout.  I walked out of class in college to go be an extra in John Travolta's "A Civil Action," which was filimg at fenway.  The scene was eventually cut, but it marks the only time i got paid to be at Fenway.  (Man, I would have paid them.)  The epic night in September 2003, when I was 11th row for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  Then, probably the greatest game I've ever been to, Game 1 of the 2004 World Series, an 11-9 red Sox win en route to their first Championship in 86 years.  Coming off the huge comeback against the Yankees, the place, the whole city, was perhaps never more alive than it was that night.      
When I saw Springsteen there in 2003, it was like being in Mecca.  Even Bruce, a Jersey-ite, felt the energy of the place.  Before playing "My City of Ruins," he said, "There aren't too many places when you walk into, and even when it's empty, you can feel the soul of the city,... it's one of those places that's always full."  It's not just a place to watch baseball.  It has a spirit, a soul, a life.  It is the last ballpark, and it is one of the few places that hasn't been given a ridiculous corporate-sponsored name.  Fenway is a piece of history, and it's a really cool thing, baseball fan or not, really, to be a small part of that history.  Even if it's just by being there.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Year Later...

On March 24th, 2011, just about a year ago, I wrote this post regarding being hospitalized for severe anemia.  If you don't feel like clicking over, the gist of it was that it was so rare that someone be that anemic and still walking, that they had no idea what was wrong with me so did not send me home.  It was also the first of many House references on this blog.
Point is, that was a year ago, when everything basically went to shit.  Like, really severely down the crapper.  I was hospitalized for most of April and May, give or take a few days when they thought they had fixed me, and then spent June going in for infusions, being treated by a visiting nurse and treating myself with antibiotics that I injected into a PICC line dangling from my arm, which went nicely with the portable gunk-catching chest tube I had dangling from my side.  Like a purse that matches your shoes, eh?
But that was then, and this is now, and yesterday at about 3:00 (after a rough day), I decided to buy a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen at the Garden, a few hours before the show actually took place.  I think that's a pretty good illustration of how I'm feeling now as opposed to a year ago., or even a few months ago.
Bruce, first of all, was incredible.  I've seen him live several times now, in different venues and different incarnation (solo, Seeger Sessions, Fenway, etc.) and I think that last night's show may have topped them all.  I mean, the dude is in his early-60's (truly, as he sang in Thunder Road back in 1975, he "ain't that young, anymore."), but he can still go.  Hell, I was tired near the end of this three-hour show last night, and I wasn't putting forth nearly the same effort he was.  The cool thing is, I don't know how he is in other cities, but he certainly seems to love Boston (he did kind of get his start here back in the day), and Boston certainly loves him, so I'm not sure which came first, but he seems to add a little spice to his shows when he plays here.  Sliding across the stage, crowd-surfing, running all over the stage... I can't even do that, no matter how good I'm feeling.  It was, as one fan put it on facebook, "a religious experience."
And so it was, as just a year ago, I could barely breathe.  I am still on a small dose of steroids, and a "kidney vitamin," which I'll probably have to take forever because my kidneys were permanently scarred, but last night, for the first time in awhile, I felt like my old self.  I woke up yesterday thinking it would be an ordinary Monday, and ended it with an amazing Bruce Springsteen show.  I feel like that could have happened to me five years ago, but not in the last year, certainly.  Physically, I have felt okay for awhile, but it took a little longer than I anticipated to get back mentally.  So long that I didn't really even know that I wasn't there yet.
But now, I know I am.  Thanks again for the inspiration, Bruce.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I Believe

I don't usually believe in jinxes and curses, because if i did, I'd also have to believe in their opposites; luck, karma, fate, pretty much all that.

Since rejoining the dating world in 2012 (well, late 2011.  Wanted to hit the new year running.) I have met five women: Leslie the Lesbian, Gums (from last week's post), Mira (who I adored but has not gotten back to me), Stone-Face, and now the latest and greatest, Amelia.  Four out of five really shitty endings, and one annoying disappointment.  But you can't win 'em all, right?

Sure, sure, but before you get all philosophical, let me tell you the story of Amelia, the latest and greatest.  She and I had been emailing back and forth for several days, she seemed to enjoy my pictures, she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, and at 40, she was presumably mature enough to know how this dating thing works.  We agreed to meet for a drink Sunday night.  She even sent me an email on Saturday night telling me she was excited about it.  We were even chatting on google hours before the date and she said she loved me already.  I know it was kidding aroumd, but still...

So, she arrives at the bar, we hug, sit down, she orders wine, I order a beer.  We start chatting.  She drinks her wine, takes out ten dollars, says, "It was nice meeting you.  I'm gonna get going," leaves the ten bucks and walks out.  The whole "date" lasted all of ten minutes.

I'm willing to wager none of you have ever experienced anything quite like that.

And it's not like I told her she had nice tits, or sure had a purdy mouth, or anything.  I just told her about my life.  And not even the "I collect Jokers" thing.  I told her about my job, my college days... the usual stuff.  Up and left.  Drove all the way to Brookline (because she told me she lived in a "boring suburb"), spent ten minutes with me, and walked out.

Now, some of you might want to believe that I cursed this from the beginning, because before leaving my apartment, I told my roommate, "It can't be worse than the last one," the last one being Stone-Face, which is not a remark on her looks, but her rigid personality.  She basically refused to talk to me.  I mean, you're on a date woman!  Make some conversation!

But we're getting off-topic.  The topic isn't really curses.  The topic is why anyone would treat another human being this way, after several back-and-forth emails claiming that I was cool and she was excited to meet me.  Not sure if it was the hair (although she had seen the most recent photo of me), the beard (again, seen the photo), the shirt, the nose, or whatever.  Possibly the comics, but I'm pretty sure, looking back now, that she had made up her mind within moments of ordering the wine.  They say a woman knows within minutues of meeting a man if she will ever want to sleep with him, and I think this woman probably knew within seconds.

Still, I've been on a lot of first dates over the last few years, and all of them lasted longer than ten minutes.  My biggest gripe has always been that people aren't giving you chance after just one date, and this woman didn't even give me that.  And I honestly don't believe I cursed it, or that I'm somehow paying for sins past, because I would hope I've long since paid for those.  And I used to believe in karma, but really, I'm not that bad a guy, am I?  I know you get it back three-fold, but Jesus, I've never killed anyone.  And yet, this is the shit I'm getting back.  I fought my way back from the brink for this?

Anyone redaing this is probably saying the same thing everyone else has been saying; "That sucks, but you probably dodged a bullet there.  She sounds crazy."  Yeah, she probably is crazy, but she's probably saying the same thing right now to herself.  Or worse, she could be saying, "Great guy, just didn't sense the connection."  That's what everyone else has said.  I mean, where does it all end?  Personally, I'm tired of "dodging bullets."  I can't keep writing these people off as crazy and thinking that I'm okay.  Clearly, something is amiss, and I have no idea what it is.  And I'm not sure I want to bother to find out.

This whole dating world is just ri-fucking-diculous, and I'm pretty much done.  I know my friend has been saying that I shouldn't give up, but I'm not sure what else to do here.  I mean, would you continue to bang your head against a wall?  Of course not, because eventually, it just hurts too much.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Dating Dreamworld

Things usually sound better when you describe them to someone than they really are. I was recently describing the plot to Back to the Future III to my brother, who saw it (with me) upon its theatrical release, and I guess decided that seeing it once was enough, and had forgotten the whole thing.  After I told him about it, he said, "That actually sounds pretty good."  I responded, "Well, yeah, but it's really not executed all that well.  It's actually quite silly."

This is eerily similar to internet dating, because a lot of people aren't nearly as interesting as they describe themselves.  Which isn't so bad, because you're obviously on the website to attract people.  And the competition is fierce on there, so you gotta be awesome.  Sometimes, however, you meet someone, and the expectations may be a little high, so that doesn't work out.  I'm, of course, putting myself in this category.  I certainly seem to fall short of everyone's expectations.  Or something.

It can also be equated (as pointed out by a very astute friend) to a job interview.  When I pointed out that I keep interviewing, and am still unemployed, she said, "So, what's next?"  I replied, "Temp jobs?"

But in reality, internet dating is very similar to job hunting, and sometimes, for whatever reason, you just aren't the right fit for the job.  Or the guy who interviewed just before you got it.  Or they hired an internal candidate (a.k.a. an ex).  But after awhile, you sort of have to wonder if it's just bad timing, or you need to work on your interview skills, or you need to reconsider the kinds of jobs you're looking for.  Naturally, we all want our dream job, right?  With great benefits and a big paycheck.  Of course.  But it can't happen for everyone, can it?

Recently, I met a woman who I liked on a personal level, but had a rather poor gum-to-tooth ratio, shall we say.  Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but that was the reality. Anyway, I had met her once for coffee lunch-break, and once on a Sunday afternoon for skeeball, so I had asked her out on an actual date, because she definitely seemed into it (she had emailed me the previous day saying simply, "Hope you had a good weekend."  Nothing else.  I know as grand romantic gestures go, that's not a huge thing, but it at least indicated interest.)  The response I received:
 I think I'm realizing that despite how  (truly) dateable you are, after much "but he's a great guy!" debates with myself,  I'm getting more of a friends vibe. Unfortunately. That said, I did have a great time spending time, but I want to be honest about where I'm coming from. That said, if I see you on campus you can bet that I'm going to smile and wave, because I really am glad I had the opportunity to meet you. 
So, while I'm great and (truly) dateable, apparently I'm not the right candidate for this job.  Or the last twelve or so jobs I've applied to, because this response is pretty typical in my dating history.  Now, my female friends all say that this email is nice and good and honest.  They think this because (I don't want to generalize here) they like to wear make-up and dress up nice and have a clean house whenever company is coming over.  So they appreciate the nicely-dressed, well put-together response.   I, ever the realist, see it as the same old horseshit.  Not that this girl wasn't telling the truth, because I'm sure she was, and if I'm being honest with myself, I can't say I wouldn't have been writing a similar email somewhere in the not-too-distant future.  But I was at least willing to go on that real date.

So, I'm not angry or bitter or anything (although it's weird that she claims she feels a friends-vibe, and then says if she happens to pass me on the street some day, she'll smile and wave.  Thanks, buddy.), but I am disappointed because when you take off the make-up and the nice clothes, this email is the same as all the rest of the ones I've gotten from so many nameless, long-forgotten women who knew me for a matter of hours and decided that, even though I'm great, I'm not the one.  I'd rather she just think I'm a dick and be done with it than be great and for whatever unknowable reason not be suitable for her.  I mean, she says I'm "dateable," and yet she won't date me.  Hell, I know plenty of men that I would consider "ridiculously undateable" if I were a woman, and they're goddamn married.

So, this brings me back to my brilliant "Dream Job" analogy.  Honestly, the best candidate may not be out there.  Maybe they have another job that they're happy at, or they didn't see the posting.  Maybe that lightening bolt ain't coming.  Maybe you have to hire who does apply and make it work, even if they're not quite as dynamic as their resume (of if they're Back to the Future III).  I'm not saying  people should settle, but let me put it this way; I haven't loved every job I've ever had, but I was always happy to have it.  Sometimes, you need to hire someone and see if they can handle the job.  But you'll never know if you don't give them a try.   

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Matt Dursin and the Infinite Sadness

My brother recently posted this blog, wherein he chronicled 25 memorable songs from 25 years ago, which would be 1986, the year he sort of "came of age."  I was ten, so I don't remember them quite as fondly, but still, I noodled with it for awhile and decided that I could do something similar, only six years later, when I was sixteen, 1992.

However, alcohol may have addled my brain because my memory isn't as good as his, and so I took to the interwebs to see what songs were big in 1992, and came up with a lot of crap (all apologies to Nirvana.)  I may have been sixteen, but I guess I still wasn't cool enough to listen to Boyz II Men or John Secada.  In fact, I don't know anyone who did, and borrowing my brother's criteria, does anyone ever hear any of these songs on the radio anymore?  Maybe Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway," but that's about it.  Now, 1994, well, that's a whole blog post right there.

However, while noodling and driving my parents' car around while visiting over Christmas, I actually listened to the radio, and heard some late 90's stuff, and realized that similar to the way the songs of 1986 were colored by my brother's experiences as a teenager, the music of the late-90s will be forever colored/tainted by what I was going through back then, good and bad.  For example, I heard Alanis Morrisette on the radio while driving around town, and I probably almost careened off the road I winced so hard.  Some songs take on a life of their own and change their meaning over time, but Alanis tunes will always remind me of the awful bitch I was dating back then.  I honestly don't even remember what song was playing on the radio ("You Oughta Know," maybe?), but they were pretty much all the same, anyway.  Perhaps the reason I was never able to get passed the memories and take her music for what it is was because she pretty much faded into obscurity, or because negative emotions are so much more powerful than positive ones, or perhaps there was actually something very visceral about it.  Looking back, was it actually kind of good?  Don't they say that really great art is supposed to make you want to throw up because it does such a job on you emotionally?  Is that the reason for my reaction, or was the awful bitch I was dating so awful that she has ruined that entire section of my life?  I mean, I can listen to The Wallflowers or Smashing Pumkins and not want to tear my eyes out.  Perhaps it's because I claimed them as my own, and wouldn't let Awful Bitch take them from me.  Or maybe they're just better.

Let's look at another f''r-instance; Semisonic's "Closing Time" came on while I was driving with my brother and his family, and while discussing the the origins of the song were that the band simply needed something to end their shows with, my sister-in-law put forth a theory that the "closing time" referred to in the song is a more metaphorical time.  Specifically, the "time" the singer is talking about is the period after college but before you have settled down, "time for you to go out into the world."  Not literally because the bar is closing, but metaphorically, because you've graduated, and "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."  Of course, I threw it out there that that time has not come for me yet, so I guess this bar never closes.

Personally, that song broke when I was living in L.A., and the car I was renting had no cd player, and I had no cd's to play on it even if it did.  Long story short, that song was played so often that it bore a hole in my tiny pea brain and I eventually purchased the album.  It wasn't that good, and I can't even remember another song from it, and I later sold it, along with the rest of my youth, online.  But whenever I hear that song I am reminded of the good times I had in L.A.  However, much like Alanis, I never actually hear that song unless I am driving my parents' car and listening to the radio, but when I do, the memories do start to flow.

So, tehre we have it, two sides of the same coin.  Sometimes, I think that I should maybe download some of these songs.  It would be simple enough, and I would always have them on hand in case I felt nostalgic.  But that's the thing, do I want them?  Were they any good?  Have they become like Christmas music, where once a year is pretty much enough, and yet you've heard them so many times you don't really even "hear" them anymore?  Would owning them somehow rob me of the memories if they became just another song in my phone, or would it finally exorcise the Alanis demon?  Did the memories color them, or did they color/taint the memories?  Chicken or the egg?

Thoughts?  Anecdotes?  An imponderable?