Monday, April 30, 2007

Many Miles, etc.

The days are longer, so it only seems appropriate that my days have been getting longer in response. For example: it is now 11:44 PM on Monday night, but I have at least three hours worth of work before I can get into bed. And I can't even really blame it on poor time management, because there simply isn't any other time to do the work I have to do, now.

Not such a great complaint, of course. Being forced to pound a few designs through Quark isn't exactly shoveling 16 tons - but I do owe my soul to the company store, these days, and I am deeper in debt, and will be another day older by the time I post this blog (E.S.T., of course).

Wait! Didn't I promise that this blog wasn't going to be about how life has wronged me? I suppose so. But this isn't really life that's getting on me (except for the giant flood in basement and the collapsed ceiling and the leaky toilet, etc.), but me deliberately overfilling my plate. So: what's the solution? Head down, as the saying goes.

The big problem is that I've always had a lousy work ethic. It's gotten better over the years (really, it couldn't get no worse), but I still find work just a silly waste of time. This is one reason why I've never been a very productive cartoonist - the trade I still consider 'mine' - apart from whatever doubts I might've had about my ability, the labor involved in creating comics just made it too much like work, to me. I have entire worlds in my head that only have my drawing hands as their outlet, and it's a bit like that on-ramp to the Oakland Bay Bridge that just got melted into slag - nothing is getting on or off that way.

Curiously, I can throw myself into music and have no problem doing whatever gruntwork necessary to make the music sound good. That sounds like a laugh-line, but I believe very strongly in being well-prepared for performance. But how does one 'prepare' to draw? My drawing preparation seems to entail a lot of stalking around and muttering obscenities under my breath.

My musician's eye (yes, 'eye') is very clear. I can always see clearly where a composition should go. In the visual arts, my eye is blind. No picture exists in my mind before I start to work on the page - just vague abstractions. Very, very cool, but very, very vague. My adult years will be dedicated to learning how to make that eye see and bringing that vision to the page. I've already taken faltering steps - but I'm both heartened and cowed by the fact that the drawings I did when I was an ambitious 17-year-old are far more sophisticated than anything I can do now.

Not a bad goal, I think, to get back to where I was 20 years ago.

Anyway, one aspect of the revised site will be a selection of some of my comics and other works, probably going back to when I was 12. I hope that others will find tracking an artist's progress fascinating. And there'll be plenty of music in the archives, too - I may take a cue from my friend Karl, and post an annotated song of the week. There'll be plenty of content, and not all of it old, of course.

That's not much of a mission statement, I know - but it's a place to start. And since it's now nine minutes past midnight (here in New York, that is), I am now another day older - and you'll have to excuse me.

Those 16 tons aren't going to shovel themselves.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sexual Encounter at Farpoint

Having successfully turned my wife into a scary Star Trek fan with a winter-long non-stop marathon of the entire seven-year run of Deep Space Nine, I thought maybe she might enjoy The Next Generation, as well. I thought wrong. Ditto Voyager, but I think I knew that going in.

Still, we're plowing ahead with TNG season one, which is interesting for me, because it's stuff I haven't watched in over twenty years. It's also interesting to watch the show struggle to assert its own existence under the shadow of the original (remember what a huge deal that was?), and to know that it's going to be two whole seasons - 56 episodes, to be exact - before it manages to come into its own and start to make some excellent television. In the meantime, there are hints of coolness, mostly from the actors.

There's no denying the Proustian Rush I'm getting from it - a lot of the fun is the nostalgia of the thing. I was still in high school when these episodes aired, after all. The contrast between the way I watched it as a 16 year old and a 36 year old is amusing, because never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I'd be reviewing them two decades on in the same room, in the same house, as a man married to a beautiful woman.

Heck, as a 16 year old, sex itself was still a few years in the future, and women were an unfathomable mystery - the idea of meeting a girl who might share my interests to any degree was pretty foreign. No. I was hot for women and girls, and I'd been seriously ready for some kind of frisson with a member of the opposite sex since before first grade, but I was deeply terrified of them and, not being the kind of guy that attracts your average high school girl, was beginning to get a serious mad-on towards them because I felt I was being rejected out of hand.

Of course, being a normal American teenager, I'd already discovered masturbation and pornography a few years earlier, so I got the gist of what sex was supposed to be. And the women I've been with should be thankful that I did view all that porno, because it introduced me to the one idea about sex that I wasn't getting anywhere else - how the act itself was performed. High School sex-ed was taught by our gym coach, and focused heavily on sex at the cellular level. My parents didn't much talk about it to me as a young child (beyond the mandatory copy of How Babies are Made), and never as a teenager - when a talk that touched on practical applications and concerns might have proved worthwhile. But, no: I was alone with my own longings and ideas and no way to make sense of it.

So, a dual picture of sex began to emerge: the state-sponsored view of sex as a sterile act primarily for the reproduction of the species, illustrated with paper cut-outs; or sex purely for pleasure, as a really fun leisure activity, with voluptuous women who seemed to enjoy it as much as the men, illustrated with videotape. The joke is, porn did a better job of preparing me for sex than health class or my parents ever did, especially when you consider the last few years of my life - meaning that parents and gym coach were 100% wrong, and Christy Canyon and the hedgehog were 100% right.

Of course, the dark side of porn enters into it after a while - setting up unreal expectations, ease of access and use, etc. But as a teenager, it was the closest I was going to get to real sex for quite some time, and believe me, I'm still grateful. Maybe I wasn't going to boldly go anytime soon, but, hey, in the meantime, the television brought me weekly space adventures, and occasional, furtive glimpses into sexual adventures, both science-fiction as far as I was concerned. And, truth be told, both held my interest with the same intensity.

And, years from now, when all my testosterone is gone, and I lie decrepit in a wheelchair in front of whatever passes for a television in the year 2060, when 24-7 porn is a broadcast channel... chances are good I'll wish someone would just rerun an episode of Star Trek, instead. With a little luck, maybe it'll be "The Inner Light."


Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Blog WIthout a Country

Warning: whenever I get a bug up my ass to blog, all of my 'early' posts are very meta. So expect a few days of me just thinking about the blog - out loud, as it were.

So, now I've got the Google widget going. I know! I'm as surprised as you are! But this does bring up all of those thorny issues about my so-called website that houses it. You'll note that there isn't even a link back to the rest of the site? For now, this blog is a bottle universe - because if the blog was a moribund Frankenstein brought back to (as yet flickering) life by Google, the rest of is so decayed and worm-ridden that even the good fictional doctor would leave it alone.

Hmm. Wrong horror analogy... a reanimated, as it remains, would be more Lovecraft than Shelley, I'm afraid. A shambling wet horror from the outer void that would drive men mad just to look upon it. Actually, a web site that's so bad it drives people stark raving sounds like it would be really cool - really, the old site is just old, and lame.

So what's the problem with the site, already? Shall we make a list? Yes, let's do!

1) is a website that was created as a promotional tool for a band that no longer exists. Therefore, all of the existing content on that site is about the ex-band.
2) Even when it was up and running, the only positive comment the site ever received was about the blog, so the blog itself seemed like the best place to start.
3) I have to finally admit: the design was - if not atrocious, at least not eye-massagingly sweet. I'd originally assembled the site with the intent to make it look old school and amateurish. Nobody got the joke: most of the complaints about the site were that it was old school and amateurish. Mission accomplished!
4) My ego could no longer take people thinking I was a lousy designer. Mission accomplished, indeed.

So, there it is in a nutshell: I have a website on my hands that requires a total designectomy, completely new content, and even a new raison d'etre.

Well, that's going to be a fucking piece of cake then, isn't it?

Maybe it's not that bad - rather than assembling the entire site and then posting all at once, I'm going to create and upload sections. But that still leaves the issue of design. Hmmm.... maybe I'll go Flash this time.

Do you think I can make Flash look amateurish? I can if I put my mind to it!


Defib 101

How to resuscitate a blog whose last post is about recovering from the holidays? The holiday season of 2005, that is? Well, with a new goal towards the blog:

1) Apply no quality controls whatsoever (just like a real blog!)
2) Open brain, spill forth.
3) Just keep on typing even when you have no ideas!

This should work like a charm.

Actually, this first posting is just a test to see if I can even get the Google blog widget to work, properly. The idea is that it's supposed to appear as an integral part of my own website - nice option, that! - but with my track record of really misunderstanding even the simplest web functions, I think that anyone who tries to view it will instead be sent to a pdf of the quarterly earnings statement from the Royal Bank of Nepal. Which, frankly, would be more entertaining that anything I'm liable to come up with.

Anyhow, I'm now going to hit the 'preview' link, and if it looks alright, I'll hit the little red 'publish' button. And it's over to YOU, mythical reader.

But first, two promises:

1) This blog will never be a mope-fest about how the world has wronged me. Oh, for sure: the world has SERIOUSLY wronged me, don't get me wrong. But who wants to read about that?
2) I will endeavor to do my best to include at LEAST one (1) numbered list in each post, and at least two (2) words set in all caps for emphasis.

That last is only until I get my html together and work out how to put things in [b]bold letters.[/b]. Wish me luck.


Damn. How's this?