Category Archives: General

Condition: craptastic

I’m down to 20% brainpower! Alert! Alert! MY HEAD GONNA ‘SPLODE!

I probably need a girlfriend or something.

Wait, no I don’t. What a ridiculous idea! To clutter up my already mismanaged life with notions of love and romance and adequate lubrication. As if I weren’t distracted enough! And I would suddenly have to start putting thought into my appearance. And probably I would be obligated to start caring about other people in general and their interests. Who needs the grief? Oh, and what if she nags? What if she wants to set guidelines I have to follow? If she wants me to «shudder» improve myself? What a needless complication of my life that would be!

Oh, but the girls… the girls is pretty…

Snipe hunt

I apologize for not posting much lately. It’s because of the sniper.

Which sniper, you ask? The one that’s been in the news lately. Killing people one by one over in Maryland or Delaware or some such state, with one of those really, really long rifles that can shoot very far, and with deadly accuracy.

In fact, I read somewhere that the rifles are so long that the sniper actually shot the people from a good two states away. They were small states, of course, being in the east. Nevertheless, it is not much of a stretch to presume that the sniper will soon have access to a rifle which can hit the midwest from the east coast.

I have been afraid to leave my house, lest I immediately be shot in the head. From what I gather, this has been the reaction of the vast majority of Chicago residents. No one has been outside for weeks. The exhausted local news teams haven’t left the studios since Day One of this tragic misadventure began. A great many people have put bulletproof screens in their windows. I am not sure where they got them, since they haven’t been outside, and presumably all deliverymen feel too open to attack and are lobbying for doors on their trucks before they resume their duties. But up the bulletproof screens have gone.

Little do those people know that sniper bullets are not ordinary bullets. They are really more like mutant superbullets, able to pierce just about anything, including heads and bulletproof screens.

In an effort to protect myself, I have enclosed my head in a block of steel. The steel is just thick enough that any sniper bullet will only cause minor damage. In the meantime, I haven’t been able to lift my head off the ground. This is why I have not been able to post.

See? It all adds up. Snipers!

However, I have figured out a way to thwart the sniper. When he’s not looking, I’m going to grab the barrel of his rifle, which I presume I will find protruding around some corner or other, and I will, with the help of some firearms engineers that I just happen to have been friends with from childhood, extend the barrel of the rifle until it is so long that any bullet fired will simply go all the way around the world and smack the sniper in the back of the head.

It’s a thought.

One year

Planes crashed.
Buildings collapsed.
People died.

Rescue workers dug.
Families mourned.
Television personalities wept.

Zealots preached.
Bigots fumed.
People prayed.

Politicians seized.
Armies deployed.
Terrorists hid.

Bills passed.
Bombs fell.
Flags rose.

Patriots saluted.
Fifth-columnists questioned.
Attorney Generals justified.

Life continued.

Guess and know

A thorough reading of every Daily Hey entry ever should yield at least sixty percent of the answers to my Friend Test []. How well do you know me? Well, take this quiz and find out.

I apologize in advance for the ads that will pop up and annoy you. If you really don’t know me at all but feel inclined to learn, please visit this thread on my forum to read up about my life, with the information that directly addresses the answers to the quiz cleverly concealed as spoiler text.

Truly, we are living in an age of wonder.

More updates from my vacation will follow. I’m not posting anything new until I get through last week. Hopefully I will be caught up by Sunday.

San Diego: day four

Today I met up with Jim, who came down to San Diego from Los Angeles to see what the con was all about. I caught up with him at a panel that was a tribute to Dan DeCarlo, the legendary Archie Comics artist who died not long ago.

Hearing his friends and loved ones speak kindly of him, and hearing his wife Josie describe how he used to check out girls on the street and then claim he was doing research, I started to feel just the littlest, tiniest bit guilty about the one page, in one of my sketchbooks somewhere, upon which I drew Betty going down on Veronica.

Oh, like YOU’VE never drawn it.

San Diego: day three

The San Diego Comic-Con is organized by Comic-Con International. From the program:

“Comic-Con International is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular arts forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.”

They’re skating around it, but really what they mean by “related popular arts forms” is films, video games, and, mostly, TOYS. Lots of toys. Toys dominate the convention floor. Many retailers have the toys more prominently displayed than their comics. And toys exist for almost any obscure property you could name; I’m sure Christopher Guest’s “My Dinner with Andre” action playset in “Waiting for Guffman” is not too far off the mark.

Habsro has a large booth here, with display cases featuring many products, both new and classic. One case contains a very large-scale GI JOE battle, with what looks like hundreds of figures and dozens of vehicles warring it out on a mountainside.

One of the Hasbro booth’s other features is a grown woman standing around dressed as the Baroness, the sexy, bespectacled female member of GI JOE’s terrorist rival, Cobra. While passing through the booth today I saw the Baroness commiserating with several people clad in stormtrooper outfits (from Star Wars, not from the Third Reich). It occurred to me that GI JOE would really have its hands full if Cobra and the Empire teamed up, especially if Luke Skywalker were the only Jedi around when it happened.

The whole set-up, for some reason, brought back a long-lost memory: that of one of my earliest semi-erotic dreams. I certainly couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old, and I don’t remember any other details of the dream, aside from this indelible image: a stormtrooper removing the front plate of its armor, revealing a set of naked breasts. Naked girl breasts.

Episode II, of course, revealed that all stormtroopers are clones of Jango Fett, who is a male character. So it seems that my dream could not have taken place in the Star Wars universe. Perhaps, though, it was a vision of the future, in which the Baroness went back to her hotel room with a stormtrooper during a comic convention, and, after having a little fun with him, tried on his armor.

It could happen.

San Diego: day two

I find the subject of the comic book business endlessly fascinating. For those of you who know nothing about comics, here is a brief overview:

The American comics market is dominated by two companies: Marvel and DC. DC is currently owned by AOL TIme Warner and is responsible for such characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Marvel, whose characters include Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four, has had a series of owners over the last several years and has had a bit of financial trouble. Both companies have titles for mature readers (DC’s line of these has been around a lot longer; Marvel just revived theirs recently), but by and large the vast majority of titles these companies produce are superheroes.

In the early nineties, several prominent artists at Marvel decided to pack up and start their own company, and Image Comics was born. Image quickly became a strong competitor, due in no small part to the speculation boom of that period. Comics speculation involves buying up copies of comics which are considered to be rare or special or otherwise have some quality that might make them valuable in the future. In the early nineties, the companies were very actively encouraging this behavior, and some comics were selling in the millions. However, the speculators soon realized that the fifty copies of X-MEN #1 they bought were never going to appreciate in value just because there were so many of them, and so they gradually stopped buying comics. Many people who bought comics and actually read them also stopped buying them, disgusted at the way the companies pandered to the speculators with things like limited-edition foil covers and Wolverine guest appearances. Nowadays, X-MEN is lucky if it sells a hundred thousand, and it has consistently been one of the market’s top-selling books since the eighties. Sales have been dropping all over.

Other companies include Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Oni Press, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf Comix, Slave Labor Graphics, Bongo Comics, and dozens and dozens of others. All of whom have booths at San Diego, and their combined work covers a far greater spectrum of storytelling genres than the big companies, and also sells significantly fewer copies.

Hot-button issues in the comics biz right now include:

1. Comic book versus trade paperback format. People like trade paperback collections of comics. They look nice on a bookshelf and they don’t get torn up. Generally they are a better value for your money. But if nobody is buying monthly issues of a comic because they are “waiting for the trade”, the company will perceive that comic as a failure and cancel it, with no collection to follow. So why not simply release the books as trade paperbacks in the first place? Apparently the overhead is too expensive.

2. Creator ownership. The way things work at the major companies, for the most part, is that if Creator A invents a new series, and creates a cast of characters, that series and those characters are legally the property of Company B. (For the purposes of this exercise, let us assume the series is called BOOGIE-WOOGIE BUGLE BOY.) That means that once Creator A is done telling his story and leaves the book, Company B can hire Creator C to continue the book. Moreover, it means that Editor D can fire Creator A from the book he created at any time. Now, if Creator A owned his series and his characters, he could take it all over to Company E if he found that Company B was not the right place for him. And he would get a much, much larger percent of the profits should Movie Producer F ever option the rights to his characters.

3. Distribution. One company has a virtual monopoly on comics distribution, and lately any competition the company has had has been doomed to fail. Comics are no longer as widespread as they once were. They used to be common on newsstands, in grocery stores, and in bookstores. Now stapled comics are almost exclusively only available in specialty stores. It is becoming an increasingly niche business. (A major exception is Archie Comics, who always have comics in the supermarket checkout line. Why can’t DC get a SUPERMAN digest in there? Is the money not worth the effort?)

A panel I attended today dealt with the niche-squared concept of online comics non-news journalism, and why it is important. I would argue that commentary, interviews, and reviews are far more valuable than the regurgitated press-release style of much comics news today. Ninth Art is my favorite site for comics reviews and commentary, and it is very nicely designed, too.

Dinner and drinking tonight were again at the Gaslamp Strip Club. It’s a great place, but I don’t know if my system can handle another night of nearly-raw steak.

San Diego: day one

Because I was afraid that I would oversleep and miss my flight, and because really I was still kind of packing all night, I did not sleep last night at all. I managed to have everything nice and ready to go earlier than expected, but I still managed to get a little panic in there by not showering until after I called the cab to come get me in half an hour. We must do these things to keep our energy levels high.

My only notable nonstandard airport experience was that I was very scornfully ejected from a bar-type restaurant in the terminal into which I had brought my Sausage McMuffin from next door, in search of a place to sit down. But that one was really my fault.

The Chicago to Los Angeles flight had me drifting in and out of consciousness. Spider-Man was the movie of the day, and I missed how he got his powers, but I saw his Uncle Ben die, and then I missed the part with the Green Goblin attacking the balcony, but I saw the part after that, and then I missed the end. This is due in no small part to the fact that I drank a Red Bull earlier in the morning to keep myself awake, but took some dramamine almost immediately after takeoff when I realized how nervous I was about flying.

The Los Angeles to San Diego flight was notable in that I spent twice as long waiting for the flight than I did in the air. It was a nice view of the coastline, however. They still managed to get beverage service in. I barely had time to drink my soda.

I made it to San Diego at about 2:30 PM. I took a taxi to my motel and checked in, and decided to chill out for a little bit before I hit the Comic-Con. As I left for the convention center, I wandered through the motel lobby and asked the clerk on duty the easiest way to get there. He gave me simple instructions – oh, it’s easy, just go down this road, turn right, go straight until you hit this road, then turn right again, and then straight on until morning. I started on my merry way and it took me about half a mile before I realized he had given me driving directions. I was walking along a highway.

I looked for cabs but didn’t see any, so I decided to keep on walking. I looked at my watch and realized I was already way late for that X-Men panel I wanted to attend, so I decided to relax and enjoy the walk. After about an hour of wandering through scuzzy industrial and commercial districts, I finally ended up in what appeared to be downtown. Sure enough, I had made it to the con.

I wandered in, paid my admission, and started in on my number one con activity: drifting among the booths in a daze, with no particular goal in mind. Nothing to buy, really, no creators I was dying to meet.

After the con closed for the day, thousands of people scattered out of the convention center and settled into downtown San Diego’s various eateries. I managed to meet up with some regulars from Delphiforums. The five of us wandered into town, intending to go to somewhere called Dick’s, which is apparently famous for its obnoxious waitstaff who throw napkins on the floor, or something like that. Instead, we ended up next door at a restaurant called the Gaslamp Strip Club.

It’s not a strip club at all, though; the gimmick is you order your steak and they bring you the raw cut of meat, which you then take to a grill and cook yourself. In addition, there were drawings of naked women decorating the walls, and all the waitresses were extremely attractive in a bizarrely uniform way. We all agreed that the restaurant was in fact a very special place, and in fact we returned there later tonight with a larger group of people after drinking at the Marriott fell through in a way that I am legally obligated not to repeat.

Eventually, I caught a cab back to my motel, where I am writing this. I am tired. More tomorrow.

Here I go

My trip to the West Coast is impending. I dropped off my cat with Vince and Sara. The separation trauma is palpable.

Over on my forum, I have gone to the trouble off preparing a jokey itinerary, which I am reproducing here for the forum impaired.

The itinerary of my entire trip:

Thursday morning: depart from O’Hare.
Thursday afternoon: arrive in San Diego. Check into hotel. Proceed to convention center.
Thursday evening: party. Find a nerdy girl and have nerd sex.

Friday morning: enjoy con.
Friday afternoon: enjoy con.
Friday evening: party. Find a nerdy girl and have nerd sex.

Saturday morning: enjoy con.
Saturday afternoon: enjoy con.
Saturday evening: party. Find nerdy girls from previous evenings and have nerd threesome.

Sunday morning: meet up with Jim at con.
Sunday afternoon: hang out with Jim at con. Run out of money.
Sunday evening: visit nerd STD clinic.

Monday morning: depart from San Diego.
Monday afternoon: arrive in Seattle.

Tuesday-Thursday: hang out with Darian and Nick. Entertain them with tales of nerd sex and consequences thereof.

Friday afternoon: depart from Seattle.
Friday night: arrive in Chicago.

Saturday: retrieve kitty from Vince and Sara. Weep with happiness.

How closely will my trip match this schedule? Who can say? Who would bother saying? Stay tuned.

Batting practice

Sometimes before I sit down to “write” (about twice a year), I loosen up with a little batting practice – just, you know, writing whatever comes to mind. Usually this nonsense goes straight in the trash, to be followed shortly by whatever serious, feature-type bit I attempt to write afterwards.

Once in a while the results are just embarassing enough, though, to publish shamelessly. This is from mid- to late-2000, judging from various personal subject matter clues. The subconscious is a frightening thing.

Before We Begin:

I vomited up the little bits. It was the technicolor of Supreme Sea Spray, my old favorite juice flavor.

Consider it done, Your Highness.

Yes, the payment has been made.

Unfortunately, your breath stinks too badly for me to even consider doing that right now.

Vicarious consumption, eating patterns unblemished by ruin.

Thousands of times, yes.

No, I never have. When did you?

Cars kept passing us, I thought he was going to actually stop in the middle of the road.

Even on the second date, you wouldn’t?

God, I hate this kind of cornice piece. Look at that fucking dental molding.

The crows kept making noise outside the window, and I couldn’t finish. I looked right in her eyes and I couldn’t finish.

Reset color geom size center.

Warp and weft, man, warp and weft.

She dove under and the current just carried her right into its mouth. Bit her in half, they said.

It’ll sting you, that’s for sure. Don’t go in there.

This bottle’s mostly full. Use this one. No, use this one. It’s pretty full.

I hate the way your butt pokes out of those jeans. Get some real pants for God’s sake.

This money’s not worth the shit it’s printed on.

I haven’t escaped, I’ve just been forcing myself to stay in there this whole time. Wouldn’t you?

I mean, look at her. She’s like teeth on a chainsaw blade.

The rain keeps blowing in the blinds and they keep knocking over the things on the window ledge.

Her hair. Nothing is like her hair. Her hair is like Nothing.

Lose the robe, baby, let’s get this show on the road. Ok, lights!

Haven’t you got the foggiest idea how long it took me to get those in there?

Wait at the bar, take it outside

As I write this I am sitting in Simon’s Tavern in Chicago’s fabulous and historical and Scandinavian Andersonville district. I am sitting on a recently reupholstered sofa and sipping on a Pabst Blue Ribbon while keeping an eye out for friends who may or may not show. In fact, it is quite likely that I have missed them, as I arrived somewhat late and many of my friends lately have been giving in to their damn fool impulses to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Maybe they call it maturity. Maybe they’re dopes.

Oh, I’m probably just jealous of their self-control.

Anyhow, a brother and sister pair have sat down on the couch across from me and said hello — Mark and Lauren, I believe their names are. They are telling me about their moneymaking ideas, most notably toilet paper with the news printed on it. I point out to them that it would be difficult to keep the toilet paper rolls timely, as a daily or even perhaps a weekly delivery would result in far too much news for the average ass-wiper to keep up with. Plus, people’s asses are generally dirty enough without worrying about newsprint and the like.

I have finished my beer, and now I am getting up to leave and wishing Mark and Lauren farewell. I have told them that I am here regularly on Mondays, and even though it’s true more in theory than it is in practice, they seem to be impressed that I actually have a night during the week specifically set aside for drinking in a bar. So perhaps I will see them again in the future. Or perhaps not. Even now, as I walk to the train station, I have already largely forgotten what they look like.

Warm weather really brings out the beggars in my neighborhood. I’ve been asked for all sorts of things. A little while back a young kid asked me if I could give him a ride from my neighborhood out to some far west suburb. As I was on my way to work, I could not. I’m not sure I would have anyway, but at least I had an excuse other than “I don’t do favors for strangers”. He wasn’t around when I came back, so presumably he found his way out.

Tonight, I’m approached by three different middle-aged black men asking me for change. Well, only one of them actually approaches me. The other two just call out to me as I walk past. I’m never certain what to do in these situations. I suppose it really depends on the presentation. Sometimes I hustle past, doing my best to ignore them. Other times I apologize for not being able to help them, and other times still I actually dig in and pull out some cash. I’m very inconsistent.

Tonight, however, I have no change to give even if I wanted to. Nor do I have smokes to lend, nor matches to light said smokes. I do, however, have a portable computer in my pocket. I nod hello to the folks on the street and walk quickly and quietly home.

Come fly with me

I have made arrangements to travel out to the Left Coast for a few days at the beginning of August. I am unsure of the wisdom of this endeavor, but it will be nice to visit somewhere that is not Chicago nor Dayton nor the strip of land between Chicago and Dayton.