Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Talkin’ Loud Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’

The title is a Public Enemy lyric that sort of has something to do with my newest strip, which depicts our hero walking around and talking to himself like a loon. When this idea came to me, I had a bit of trepidation with it. The reason is I don’t want Eddie to be seen as a crazy person, that’s not the direction I want to go with the character.

The more I thought about it and observed people, the more I noticed that lots of people talk to themselves and they aren’t insane. Ok, maybe they’re a bit wacky, but certifiable? Hardly. Actually, if I could make a bit of an admission, I often talk to myself … maybe not as loud as Eddie does, but I do. And I know where I picked it up from, my father.

When I was growing up, I would often hear my old man talk to himself, very loudly mind you, when he was in another room. The first couple of times that I heard him, I was really freaked out; I knew that he was the only one in the bathroom, yet he was carrying on a full fledged conversation with himself (complete with pauses, as if he was waiting for someone to speak back to him). I had no idea if he was talking to a ghost (I was really into crap like that when I was a kid) or if someone had slipped in the house.

After a few occurrences, I asked him about it, and of course he got mad. Who wouldn’t? So, eventually I stopped asking him and felt it was just my dad being my dad. It’s a quirk that I’ve picked up from him and I’m sure it will weird my kids out too.

Public Enemy? Michael Magrane? Comic strips? There is no place on earth where those three things belong together. Yes there is, my friend. Right here: www.room19comics.com

Back to the strip, originally this was going to be a three-panel strip starting with the second panel and working its way to the crescendo. That’s not how it turned out though; as a much stronger strip emerged (in my opinion anyway) where we see Eddie actually talking to himself while walking down the street. I think that also brings a bit of humor into the first couple of panels of the strip.

For one thing, Eddie talking to himself is intrinsically funny. Everyone has caught their buddy doing something stupid like that in the past, so you can easily identify with both characters. Secondly, Eddie lying to his best friend is also identifiable because, again this is something that we’ve all done when we get busted for something embarrassing.

I based the second and third panels on a Jerry Seinfeld-George Costanza type conversation, where Jerry blatantly sees his pal doing something stupid, calls him on it, George lies and Jerry busts out the evidence. My hope is that you read Kurt’s third panel in the same cadence as Jerry would speak it. BTW, there is a certain episode that I’m thinking about where they have this little back and forth, but I can’t seem to remember it right now, if I do, I will let you know. (I know you’re all on the edge of your seats.)

Anyway, the final panel was just going to end with Eddie’s line about him being the only person that listens (a line that I say when people catch me talking to myself), but I thought that it was a little too “wah-wah” and made Eddie seem like a baby. That’s why I put in Kurt’s sort of predictable line about not hearing what he said.

The drawing of this strip was a bit more involved than last week, especially the first panel. As long time readers of Room 19 Comics notice, there isn’t a lot of motion in my strips. For the most part, the main characters are standing around at a bus stop or at a party or where ever, they are rarely walking. With that being said, it took a bit of time to make sure that Eddie’s gait was right and the perspective of Kurt being across the street look correct.

The original drawing made it look like Eddie was walking away from Kurt and would give the impression that he was pissed at his friend and not really talking to himself. But, if you did get the idea that he was walking by him and not seeing him, that also would not work because Eddie would look like a complete moron walking by his friend and not recognizing him. I think that what I came up with is a pretty good solution.

As bare as the last panel is, that was a pain in the ass to draw as well. I did this strip on my day off last Friday, it was two days before Christmas (I hadn’t wrapped a single present yet) and our realtor called to let us know that we have our home (more on this in a second). Also running through my head was that two people were coming to look at our apartment in an hour and I still hadn’t cleaned the place yet (it looked like an atom bomb hit the place). So, I was not as focused on my strip in the later part of the drawing as I was at the beginning.

It’s a good thing that I ink the strip a few days after I draw them, because this would’ve looked a lot shittier. By the way, speaking of inking, I got a couple of compliments on last week’s strip telling me how much they like the darker lines. They said that the strip really seems to pop now, so I will keep it up. Thanks to all that took the time to drop a line.

So, Aly and I are officially homeowners now. We got a condo in Brookline, pretty close to Coolidge Corner and we’re both pretty ecstatic about it. We never thought that we’d be able to afford this place, but the sellers cut their price very significantly. So significantly, in fact, that if we passed on this condo, we’d probably regret it for some time. On Thursday, we have the home inspection (which shouldn’t yield too many problems) and on February 1, we can move in.

There’s a lot to do between now and then, but that’s the long and short of it. The one major project that we have to do is paint the place, despite being a graphic designer, the previous owner had horrible taste in colors. Our living room is painted a very bright canary yellow with a three-foot wide purple stripe running down one of the walls. The bathroom is painted pink and red and the other rooms have worse hues. It’s not going to be easy (I abhor painting), but when it’s done, it will be well worth it.

This weekend was Christmas and it was a pretty good one this year. Saturday night, we spent the Eve in Franklin at Aly’s parents’ house. They always go old school Italian on the eve, which means a ton of fish and fried food. The good thing is that they’re sensitive to the Irish in the crowd (my brother in law Bob and me) and cook us some steaks. That meant on Saturday I had a gigantic steak and a baked stuffed lobster, mussels, clams and shrimp. It was real good.

I like going there because we all sit around the table and laugh at each other, this year Aly and I got a lot of crap because everyone thinks that we’re cheap. Truthfully, we are, but it was funny to hear everyone over exaggerate how bad we are. Then we opened some gifts and I got a lot of clothes and a pretty cool watch from Aly. I also got a copy of her brother’s book, “A Season of Loss, A Lifetime of Forgiveness”, which I’ve wanted to read.

The next day we went to Amesbury to visit my parents and that was fun as well. We had a smaller crowd (Uncle Bud, Karen and Paige were skiing in Utah), but Uncle Joseph, Uncle Guy, Aunt Grace and Nina were all up. It was the first holiday without Aunt Rita and that was different, to say the least. But the food was good and we had a good time joking around and picking on each other.

My folks came through with some pretty cool gifts; including the best one the 2004 Red Sox 12-disc World Series set. I also nabbed the second season of “Arrested Development”, a few books, some more clothes, and some other junk. All in all, as good of a haul that a 31-year-old can expect.

I finally finished reading the Howard Hughes book that I’ve been battling through and I will be reviewing that very soon. No need to fear true believers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Everything is Better When You’re Working

That’s the theme for today’s episode of Room19Comics. The working world is a lot of fun because you get paid for your time. What a concept. The only problem is, you never get paid what you think that you deserve for the amount of work that you do.

It doesn’t matter what you do though, I think that is always the truth. Even athletes or CEOs or movie stars that get paid obscene amounts of money, feel under paid at some point during the day. I can see ARod (not to just pick on him) working out at the gym, taking batting and fielding practice, dealing with the public, thinking to himself, “Damn, this just isn’t worth it. I should be making more.”

But it’s never enough, which is why the pursuit of money is ultimately a hopeless one that ends only in despair.

What a nice bunch of thoughts for this holiday season! So cheerful and full of hope. To see what has gotten me so happy and full of life go to: www.room19comics.com

Actually, what’s depressing about this strip is that it is almost word for word a conversation I had with my roommate one night while we were sophomores in college. For one thing, being a sophomore sucks. It’s the worst year in both high school and college because no one gives a shit about you and there’s nothing new about the school experience. Yet you haven’t been around the block enough to know how things get done.

Basically, it’s freshman year all over again without the surprises.

Anyway, it was a particularly frustrating night for me because it was the winter (which I can’t stand) and I had two huge exams coming up, as well as a mountain of homework. I’ve always hated to study because I’ve figured, “What’s the point? If this was a question in the real world, I’d go look up the answer. No gives a shit if I can memorize stuff.” To add on to this general bitchiness I think it was a Sunday night, so I was probably pissed off that I missed “The Simpsons” or “Married … With Children” or something.

I had finally decided to go to bed and my roommate Jim was up and studying in the room. Jim was a wacky dude, but there were times when he had a pretty good grip on the world around him. I said, and I can remember this like it was yesterday, “Jim, I can’t wait until I have a job and I don’t have to deal with this crap any more.”

He dropped his book and he agreed. I continued with my rambling, “Think about it; no homework, no tests, no being forced to read shit you don’t want to and you get paid for your time! Also, you go into work at 8:30, you leave by 5:00. There is nothing else to do. When you’re done, you’re done.”

I’ve been wrong about a lot of things (every year since 1987, I’ve picked the Sox to win the World Series), but I have never been more wrong than I was that day. Christ. That is a big bowl of wrong right there. The funny part is Jim agreed with me, and it wasn’t like it was a “Yeah whatever, dude” type of agreement, he was with me from the get go. We both actually thought this way.

How is it that the ignorant can be so sure of something that they have no idea about?

For one thing, you do have to read shit you don’t want to read, you’re also forced to do shit you would never want to do. Like I said earlier, you never get paid what you think you deserve and I don’t know anyone who leaves their job at work. Most of us bring that stuff home and it weighs on you like an ACME anvil.

Instead of taking this exchange, which I’ve always thought would make a great comic or exchange in a movie or TV show, and turning it into a Random Memory, I let Eddie and Kurt have at it. Like last week, I originally was going to have it a three-paneled strip, but I thought that the unseen professor asking his students to read two chapters was a humorous way to set up the joke. It’s just a few pages and the class acts like he’s asked them to donate a kidney.

Are college kids always melodramatic like that? I remember every slight as being “the worst thing ever” or every victory as “the best thing ever”. There was never any middle ground, just a series of highs and lows. Though, I guess when you don’t have a lot on your plate (I had five classes a week, and worked for ten hours at the library) you have to make a big deal out of stuff, otherwise you’ll go insane from boredom.

BTW, I did a real crappy job of drawing the guy behind Eddie. He has a mullet and an Oakland A’s hat. Just a terrible job. Probably one of the worst person I’ve ever drawn. Don’t focus on that dude too much. Let’s move on.

The second and third panels are just Eddie and Kurt crabbing about the crosses that they have to bear. Kurt is usually the voice of reason, but malaise and self importance can nab anyone and I don’t really want him to be some uber-mature father figure. When it comes right down to it, he’s a 20-something like Ed, though he may have a little more living under his belt.

During these panels Eddie morphs into me, I feel really stupid for even thinking about it and then we fast-forward five years in the future. I like doing these sort of office strips (I think my first Random Memory had me in an office). Eddie is losing his hair, like a certain web artist you may know, and is really frazzled at work. Instead of one guy asking him to do a small task, there are four people bugging him.

Yes, he’s getting paid, but people are expecting quadruple the work. And that’s pretty much the way shit goes in the real world, isn’t it? As Eddie Veddar once sang on “Red Mosquito” (“No Code” is such an underrated CD, that it’s not even funny. If you don’t have it, run out and buy it right now. This entry can always wait.) “If I had known then, what I know now … If had known then what I know right now …”

Also, one quick thing, I worked on darkening the strip ink a bit. Let me know what you think? Too much? Too little? Not enough?

And Kurt’s shirt is the logo for the Atlanta Hawks, quite possibly the coolest logo ever.

Quick update on the life of Aly and I, we may become homeowners very soon. Actually, we may become condo owners. For about a month, we have been looking at homes (single family on the south shore – most sucked) and condos in and around Boston (most were pretty good, but out of our price range). Last Sunday (12/11) we saw one that is about a half mile from where we are now.

It was pretty nice, two and a half bedrooms, a big living room and dining room, good sized kitchen, lots of natural light. It is really nice. But it was the first place that we looked at, so I was skeptical. Aly wanted to bid on it right away. I said we should wait. Three days later, our realtor calls us and lets us know that there is an even better place in Coolidge Corner.

We go there and we really like it. The one problem, we have to put a bid on it right then and there because there are other people looking at it. So we go through a bunch of hoops with financing and shit and we put a bid on it. Friday comes and the sellers want us to go up, so we scrape some more money together and place another bid.

In the mean time, my parents and Aly’s folks (including her sister and brother in law) are coming up on Saturday to see these two places because … well, they’re our folks and are really into this kind of shit. We go to the first place (12/11 place) and everyone just falls over for it. And to be honest with you I love it more that day than I have ever have before. I’m starting to think that our other bid was a dumb move.

We go to the Coolidge Corner place and they sort of like it, but they weren’t bowled over. I am seriously freaking out, because I know that the place that we put a bid on isn’t for us. Aside from the location (which is awesome), it’s too much money and the place is smaller than the other place. I tell Aly this and she is understandably concerned, considering that I assured her on Friday that we were doing the right thing. Usually I’m not such a pussy, but Saturday I was.

The gang of us all went back to our place to eat bagels and discuss it. During that pow-wow, the realtor calls. Apparently the place that we put a bid on wants more money. We can’t go any higher. The ball is taken out of our hands and our decision has been made. Let’s go for the other place. Yesterday we put our bid in for it and we are waiting to hear what the people say. Hopefully, they go for it.

Aside from looking at potential homes, the last weekend was full of Christmas parties. First was our annual get together with the Foleys and the Murrays. It was a great time, we had our annual poker game (which I broke even, though I would’ve won about $50 if not for Aly … long story, but she made the right move, she was just beat by a better hand. And since I was her sugar daddy, I paid for her bad luck). By the end of the night, because of the earlier condo freak out and some other stuff, I was in a really foul mood.

Everyone went to the Warren Tavern, but Aly and I went home to Brookline. We were both tired, our nerves were shot and so we got into a little fight. Nothing too major, and we made up within 30 minutes, but we have to learn not to talk to each other when we both feel like shit. It’s just not a good thing.

Sunday, Skaus and Sara asked if they could pick us up because Mi-Shu was having the Chili’s gang (Merrimack crew) down to her house for the annual Christmas bash. Quick aside, when we first started this nine years ago, it was just 10 of us. Now with wives/husbands and kids, it is now 25 of us. It’s a good thing though.

I thought it was weird that Skaus wanted to bring us to Weymouth, he lives in Wilmington, but I said sure, come on by. Aly thought it was weird too, but I told her, “If I know Skaus, he has something to tell us … like Sara is pregnant or something.” Turns out I was right. Skaus is going to be a dad. So congratulations to him, it’s great news to hear that. Now I can tell Skaus Jr. all of the stupid things his dad and I did when we were kids. I really am very happy for both of them.

Two other things, Kyle asked me to be his sponsor when he gets confirmed in the spring and Ryan asked me to be Quinn’s (his newest son) God Father. I’ve never felt so honored in my life. Good things are happening.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Early 90s, One of Earth’s Greatest Resources … for Comedy!

If you’re just meeting me for the first time or only know me through these barely coherent writings, you probably don’t know my age. Therefore, in this season of giving, I will let you know exactly how old I am: 31 years, three months and five days. That means, my formative years were spent in the 90s … and unfortunately, that’s where a lot of my humor, pop culture references, music taste and fashion (much to my wife’s dismay) is stuck.

It doesn’t really bother me that much, as a decade, the 90s were pretty good: it’s where I got laid for the first time, graduated high school and college, got my license, first job, saw a lot of cool things … shit was happening back then and I had very little real life stuff to worry about. That’s partly the main reason why I’ve kept the characters roughly the same age as I was through out most of that decade. Basically, I had a lot of fun with little consequence and I hope that it translates into this strip.

So that’s the background for this week’s comic.

Comic? The 1990s? Dude let it go, that was five years ago, man. But for some reason I am intrigued … show me where this altar to slackerdom is located? Here you go, friend: www.room19comics.com By the way, I wonder if this paragraph in my Blog really works? I have a feeling that it doesn’t because I don’t get a lot of hits from it. And yes, I can see where you are coming from.

I’m sending a special shout out to everyone that is looking for Olde Magoon’s Saloon in Somerville that ends up here and the person who keeps putting “What do I do when I make a mistake on my college application?” in a Google search and my Blog pops up. I want to send a special message to the people that keep clicking on my page in the hopes of seeing WWE Diva Stacy Keibler naked: dudes, I don’t have those pictures. I wish I did, but I just don’t.

Before I get to this week’s strip, a HUGE shout out to the folks that made Room19Comics really successful on Monday. There were 373 hits that day, of those 317 were unique viewers. Thank you very much, I am more than humbled that you took even a minute out of your busy day to look at my site. Hopefully, you’ll be repeat viewers. Thanks again.

This week is a bit of a transition from the normal ebb and flow of Room19Comics. Normally, a rather obtuse observation is made and the straight man allows the observer to hang himself on that observation. This time, the straight man goes for the kill and that’s how the joke is brought out.

The art for this strip was done while I was in San Antonio, just like last week’s, and before I continue, I just have to say that the desks that they provide in the Hiltons are actually pretty damn nice. They have this little compartment built into the drawer where you pull it out, and you can write right on it. I wonder if Paris Hilton had anything to do with this? Whether she did or she didn’t, bravo Hilton people for including this, Bra-fucking-o. BTW, I am not trying to be facetious or ironic with this praise, it really was that cool. I am a very sad man, I know this.

Ok, so there are a few things that might make you chuckle in this strip. For one thing, I put the little masturbation jab between Eddie and Kurt in the first panel. It’s a subject that every man knows a bit about and is often joked on by dudes. My friend, Ryan gave me some advice a few weeks ago about trying to flesh out the characters more and make them real. I’m taking his advice and have been doing my best to use it in the last few strips.

He says that because there is a space constraint, it’s important to make every panel, every sentence, every word count. I have to make sure that a back story is able to be created and since this isn’t a novel, short story or a comic book the way to do this is through their dialogue. If you’ve been reading these adventures since the beginning, it’s obvious that Eddie and Kurt are friends, or in the least acquaintances, what you don’t know is how close they are. Hopefully, with exchanges like this, I can show you how close that they are and strengthen your bond with them.

BTW, I absolutely hate the word “bond” when talking about a connection between two people. I especially hate the word bond when used a verb. So, I apologize for putting it in the last paragraph, but it does work with what I’m saying.

Theoretically, I probably could’ve started the strip without the first panel, as the set up for the rest of the comic comes in the second panel. Eddie makes a pretty lame observation in the guise of trying to be witty and entertaining. Kurt looks at him like he’s nuts, but doesn’t throw him a rope.

By the third panel, Eddie knows that he’s in trouble and is trying to explain his way out of it. However, he’s only making it worse. Now this is where the “guy factor” comes in. We’ve all been either Eddie or Kurt in this situation when we’re out bullshitting with our friends. In Eddie’s defense, you can’t always say the right thing and explaining yourself out makes you look more lame.

So Kurt has two choices, one help a buddy and essentially say, “Yeah, dude I know what you’re talking about” or rip him. The first choice, is boring and is probably something that you’d say to an acquaintance that you don’t know very well. The second choice, though on first appearance would be the “meaner” choice, is the one that most close friends go with.

You rip that poor bastard like no one had ever said anything dumber and it helps if you have a good quip like Kurt has in the final panel. That’s how good friends act, especially guys, they rag on their friends and make them feel like crap. The world is a microcosm of a seventh grade gym locker room, if you aren’t snapping the towels, you’re getting them snapped at you.

Like I explained last week (BTW, the Blog wasn’t posted on the web site because I’m lazy and forgetful), I’ve changed up how I write the strips. First I draw them, then I ink them, then I write the dialogue. This was done the same way, and it’s funnier because of it.

Originally, the punch line had Kurt making just the Paulie Shore crack. By now, Paulie Shore and his crappy movie are a bit of a cliché and while the joke was sort of interesting, it didn’t have that zing. However, you add the band Wreckx-N-Effects (BTW, it took me a while to figure out how to spell the composers of “Rump Shakers” name right. I thought it was Wrexx in Efx, Wrex Efext. Who knew that that WNE were sort of grammar cops?) and you got comic gold.

Also, I had been thinking of this observation for awhile and was going to let it go without the Kurt zinger at the end. However, Winonya Ryder jokes are lame. When was the last time her love life was front page news? When was the last time she was relevant? To do a joke like that, without the zinger at the end, would’ve been stupid and not too timely.

Some gags just need to percolate a bit more than others, but when they do … it’s rich, mountain-grown laughs. Ok, maybe not, but it does show what a little time can do.

BTW, the logo on Kurt’s shirt is that of the ABA’s original squads: the Anaheim Amigos. What a team, what a team name. I don’t think they lasted longer than two seasons.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Can You Take Me Higher?

Before I get into the comic stuff, I just want to thank everyone who stopped by the site last week. On Thursday (Dec. 1) there was 163 hits recorded, which is a new record here at Room 19 Comics. Normally, we’re lucky if we get 60 on a Wednesday, but to more than double that on a Thursday, was quite unexpected. Thanks to everyone.

This week’s strip was written and drawn in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, the site of the AARC conference. Don’t know what AARC means? Well it’s the American Association of Respiratory Care, I’ll get into it a bit more towards the end of the column. There were some cool stuff, believe me.

Anyhow, this strip is sort of based on the running theme of this strip, you’re not as smart or as cool as you think you are. Layne is always going to be the super-obnoxious type that usually thinks way after speaking. He’s a fun character to write for because there are times when we all act like him and stick our foots in our mouths, however, I can do it here without any problems.

Who the hell is Layne? What comic strip are you talking about? San Antonio, Texas … why were you down there, Mr New England? All questions will be answered here: www.room19comics.com

For the most part Eddie is the naïve main character, unless he is paired with Layne. In these cases, he’s the voice of reason. I envision Eddie as sort of an every-man type that has moments of clarity and moments of fogginess, which is just like the college and post college years. The other main character, Kurt, is more of a big brother type who is wiser than his two buddies, but is cool enough not to rub their noses in it.

That’s the build up for this and next week’s strip … in this particular strip, Layne is being his usual loud mouth self, saying something that is illogical not true. Though there might be times when I agree with his overall sentiment, there are plenty of men out there who have crappy tastes in music too. And yes, I count myself as one of those people. But to limit it to just the female gender, that’s wrong and Eddie calls him on it.

Two things about this strip: one, the third panel took me a long time to draw. I don’t know why as it is a panel that shouldn’t have been that hard to plot, but for some reason drawing Layne was a huge undertaking. First he was too big, then he was too small, then his face wasn’t right. I had to redraw him at least three times, and I’m still not convinced that I got the proportion done correctly.

Secondly, I was originally going to have Layne say, “The new Scott Stapp CD.” But I decided against it, and I think that last panel works perfectly without any text. That’s the first time I’ve done that, ended the joke on a panel without any words. I think it turned out pretty well, sometimes you can say a lot without words.

Lately, I’ve been drawing the strip out and then the following day, putting in the text. I found that this has helped me to keep the strip tighter and allow me to really focus on the message that I’m trying to get across. For this strip, I’m really glad that I did.

Moving from the strip to the trip, late last week (Friday) until Tuesday morning, I was in the lovely city of San Antonio. It wasn’t a bad little place, lots of bars and restaurants and interesting things to do. Here’s a quick rundown of what I did.

Friday, nothing. I got in at about 2 pm, set up the booth and crashed hard in the hotel. When I woke up, I watched the “40-Year Old Virgin” and I have to say, it was one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Some parts are sort of predictable, but the main thing that I liked about the movie is that they didn’t make him retarded or naively stupid. He was just a regular guy who did regular things, except he never got laid.

They treated the character as a person and that’s why I think the movie did so well. It was also written by Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen, who were part of the whole “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” double threat that I wrote about two weeks ago, so that helped a lot. Steve Carrell, the virgin, did a tremendous job too. He was awesome on “The Daily Show” and the other projects he’s been in, so it was no surprise that he did well here.

Saturday, I woke up, shaved and went to the show. Sort of boring, but there are worse ways to pass the time, I guess. After my five hours were up, I went to the Spurs/Sixers game. Yes, I went by myself. I don’t mind doing stuff by myself, but about midway through the third quarter, I started to get a little bored. Part of the fun of going to a game is being there with your buddies and you get to crack on people, talk to them, as well as watch the game.

I didn’t have that opportunity, so I left with the Spurs comfortably ahead in the middle of the fourth quarter. The arena is pretty nice, I actually sat under the cowboy that is lit up on one of the baselines. There were two funny things about being at the game, one: there was this dude next to me that thought it was still 1989 because every time the Spurs did something good, he’d yell “Yeaaaaahhhhh Boyeeeeeee!” like Flavor Flav or would scream “Mo money, mo money, mo money” like Damon and Keenan Ivory Wayans. It was sort of funny.

The food there blew. Typical arena stuff, but the nachos were terrible and the hot dog sucked as well. I will say this about the San Antonians, they love their Spurs. The place was rocking from the first whistle to the time I left. I guess it helps that they’re really the only game in town and they’ve won three world championships since 1999. Even all of the cab drivers were listening to sports radio or the game and loved to talk about “their” Spurs. Quite a difference from the cabbies in Boston.

BTW, this Spurs team is going to dominate in the playoffs this year. They are deep from Duncan to their ninth player. Just an outstanding team that is going to crush everyone. To quote Larry King, “You heard it hear first, friends. The Spurs in 2006!” The game was also fun to watch Allen Iverson, just a phenomenal player; quick, able to attack the basket, make the great pass and take the good shot.

Sunday, I worked the show again and then went to a bar to watch some of the football game. I walked around a bit and got to see the Alamo. Much like Pearl Harbor, I was glad that I was there, but to be honest, there really wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to see. I did not ask where the basement was, though I was very tempted. VERY TEMPTED.

Monday, did the work thing again and had breakfast at this awesome diner. Not sure what it was called, but the food was tremendous. Actually, most of the food I ate was great, though they gave you a lot of it and it was very heavy. This kind of messed up my stomach a bit, but like the trooper that I am … I continued to eat.

After the show ended up Monday, I ended up going to a St. Peter and the Vatican exhibit that was being held at the conference center. It was pretty awesome. There were a lot of artifacts, frescoes and other artwork from Vatican City. Most of the pieces were things that were almost 2000 years old. This clinches it for me, I have to get to Italy to see all of this stuff. The history was awe inspiring. It was probably the coolest thing that I did while I was down there.

Tuesday, I was up at the crack of ass 3:45 am and was out the door by 5:00 as my flight left at 6:00. Normally, I wouldn’t care about what time I got home, but that day was my last graphic arts class and I wanted to be there. It seems so weird that the class is over (my web class isn’t) and I had to say goodbye to everyone who was in my class.

They’re all a nice group of people and talented as hell. While the web class is more fun, the people there aren’t like the graphic arts folks. It was a genuinely enjoyable experience and I’m sad that time passed by so quickly (I started the day after Jay’s birthday). After our class, our teacher took us out to Bertucci’s where we ate and goofed around. It was a perfect ending to a whirlwind few days.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Random Thought for a Random Day ...

This week, instead of an Eddie/Kurt/Layne comic, I decided to do a “Random Memories” one. There are two reasons for this, one is because I haven’t done one in awhile and the other, I will get to in a bit.

Of all the strips that I have done (this is my 20th), the ones that get the most feedback are the Random Memories. I’m not sure why, but they seem to resonate most with the people who read the strip. In fact, I was thinking of focusing solely on them, but I think they’re a dish best served once in awhile … like cookie dough ice cream.

There’s cookie dough ice cream on the web now? Really? Let me see … Uhmm, sorry Sport, there isn’t any real ice cream on the web, just a lame comparison between a comic strip and America’s favorite frozen dairy product. If you want to check out the virtual ice cream though, be my guest at www.room19comics.com

Anyhow, I’ve been telling this story for years, so if you’ve known me for long enough, chances are that you’ve heard it before. The thing is people seem to dig it, so I’m more than happy to illustrate for this page. The best part is that this is a true story, though I’ve made Buck a bit more of a blowhard than he really was.

A couple of quick things about the freshman baseball team:

We had about 30 guys on the team at the beginning of the year and we whittled it down to about 27 by the last game. And that wasn’t because of cuts, the town that I grew up in, Amesbury, MA, had a rule that no one can get cut off a team. So, just about half the boys in my grade went out. Like I said, three or four got knew that they sucked and they quit, but the rest of us stayed on, hanging out and playing ball.

The problem was, we all sucked. And since there were so many guys on the team, there were times when our focus was lacking. This caused us to do a bunch of stupid stuff that pissed Buck off to no end. There was one kid (who actually was our best pitcher) who would leave in the middle of practice, run across the street to buy a bag of donuts and then come back to tempt us with them. He would stand behind a fence and say, “Who wants a jelly? Who wants a crueller?”

It was like we never saw food before, the practice would stop and everyone would run over to the fence literally begging for a donut. Buck would go insane, calling us “Fucking Ethiopians” and start peppering the fence with frozen ropes (he was in the Brewer’s minor league system for a few years prior to this and could hit the ball harder than anyone I had ever seen). This would send us all scattering back to our positions.

It’s not as if Buck was completely blameless in these stories. Buck loved to chew tobacco, just loved it. He always had a chaw in his mouth, and he regularly gave dips out to anyone on the team that asked for it. Especially to our backup shortstop who’d take a dip, swallow the juice and puke behind the backstop. He did this three or four times, and every time Buck would laugh like a maniac.

This one day my friend Ray Arthur and I were playing catch in the outfield, Buck comes up to us, “Arthur, Magrane … you wanna dip?” We said no and he said, without missing a beat, “You guys are fucking pussies.” The thing is, he was probably right, but at that time in my life I wasn’t planning on ingesting any sort of tobacco product, drinking alcohol or doing any kind of drugs. Less than six months later, I fell off that wagon.

Also, Buck loved making the fattest kid on the team run. I mean, this literally brought an ear-to-ear grin to his face. At the end of every practice, he’d hit everyone a pop up. After we shagged it, we were to run in and stand next to him as he hit another teammate a pop up. By chance one day, the fat kid on our team (Derek Garvey, who was jut morbidly obese and an all-around dick) was the last kid to get a pop up. Buck looked at the rest of the team and with a huge smile said, “Watch me make the fat fuck run.”

With that, he launched a ball into orbit that had to go over 320 feet on the fly and continued to roll for another 100-120 feet. There was no fence in right field, so the ball just kept going and going. As Garvey ran, the rest of us just laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. It really couldn’t have happened to a nice person. Anyway, he stopped coming to practice after that.

As things happen in life, I saw Buck about 10 years later at the local gym. He was still living in Amesbury (less than a half mile from my folks) and was a real nice guy. He came up to me and asked me if I was Byron Magrane and wondered if I remembered him. Of course I did, you don’t forget a dude like that. We talked a lot about the old team and he’d always laugh when I brought up a story and he was seemed interested in where everyone ended up in life.

I saw him a bunch of times over the next few months to a year and he always said hello and stopped to chat. He was a pretty cool guy to talk to and looking back, he was a cool guy to play ball for.

Oh yeah, the other reason why I went with a Random Memory instead of the normal cast of characters. Last week I really screwed the pooch on the strip. Everything was too small, from the layout to the wording … people didn’t know what was said, what Eddie was doing in the first panel (for the record, he was slamming his fist into his open palm) and the whole thing was a mess. And despite checking the spelling of Nietzsche three fucking times, I still spelled it wrong in the strip.

I’m sorry for posting a craptastic cartoon last week. I tried to hype it up a bit in last week’s Blog entry, but I guess it just didn’t work. I guess we’re allowed to have a clunker every now and then, and that was mine. Trust me, this week’s strip is much better. And I’m sorry if you’re new the site and that was your introduction … read the archives and stick around for the next few weeks and you will definitely see better pieces.

Before I forget, beginning on Friday, I will be in San Antonio, so unless I have a computer in my hotel room, there is absolutely no way I’m going to be able to update this space. Next Tuesday, I’ll be home for about five hours before I go to class, so hopefully, I will have a longer entry then.

And if you’re really looking for long entries, check out last Wednesday’s entry where I review five books … it’s really pretty good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Byron’s Belated Bookmobile

Quick note: if you're looking for the cartoon blog, it's right below this entry.

One of the things about life is that it gets in the way of other things. During the last six weeks I’ve had the whole wedding thing, the honeymoon, two classes, the comic strip, a search for a new home and other miscellaneous stuff that pops up. That really hasn’t left me a lot of time to write in my Blog, which, in the grand scheme of things, is ok because it’s better to live life than to just wish that you had a life to live.

An enjoyable part of blogging was writing about the books that I had just read and for the most part, I did a good job of keeping up with the writing with the reading. But, as I said, the last month and a half was a busy one, so I haven’t been. Because of the honeymoon and the relative ease of the subject matter of the books that I chose, I was able to burn through five in little over a month. The one book that I’m reading now is over 600 pages of meticulously researched book on the life of Howard Hughes. It’s really good stuff and I will be writing about it soon.

For now, I offer you the five things I’ve read since I last wrote a book review.

1. “Superstud” by Paul Feig.

If you’ve read “Kick Me”, seen “Freaks and Geeks” or “Undeclared” you know who Paul Feig is. He created and wrote the two TV shows as well as the book.

Basically this book is about Feig’s life as a teenager growing up in the early 80s in suburban Michigan. While “Kick Me” is more about his day-to-day trials with popularity, bullies and other teen age potholes, “Superstud” is about one thing, women. Specifically how Feig both loved and was afraid of them.

And for 90% of boys, that’s how it was growing up. Most of us didn’t take the fear as far as Paul did, he ended up having sex at 24, but guys always viewed girls with a mix of lust and mystery. He goes into cringe-worthy detail about his first time he masturbated, his first date, his first kiss, his first girlfriend and his first break up.

After rereading the last sentence, I thought, “Why would anyone want to know about this guy’s first anything, I don’t even know him.” But, it’s better than that because Feig is an expert story teller who is able to be self-effacing and damn funny in just about every story he tells. He also has a bit of wistful nostalgia and pocks his stories with that twinge of teenage uncertainty that pervades every person’s mind when they’re about to grow up.

Feig doesn’t sugar coat things and try to save face with the reader by making believe that his teenage years were ideal and that he enjoyed being a geek. He seems to be really embarrassed by some of his travails and in one chapter begs the reader to skip over the coming ten pages. All in all, it’s a terrific book and one can only wonder how many of these stories would’ve let up the small screen if FOX and NBC weren’t idiots and cancelled his brilliant shows after one season.

2. ”Hustle: The Myth, Life and Lies of Pete Rose” by Michael Sokolove.

There aren’t many people in the world that I dislike more than Peter Edward Rose. I think he’s a cheat, a narcissist and a total scam artist that has hurt baseball more than anyone in the last 50 years. This book does little to change my opinion, but it does bring me into a better understanding of a man whom I just don’t like.

Written in 1988 and updated in 2005, Sokolove did a tremendous job researching how Rose grew up and cut away the bullshit American myth of Pete Rose being all about, “Mom, baseball and apple pie”. About the only truth to that cliché is the baseball part. Aside from impressing his dad, Pete Rose didn’t give a shit about anyone except himself. Time after time after time, Sokolove shows how Rose would lie and manipulate everyone from his teammates to his family to the media to better Pete Rose’s life.

Essentially, he was a bullshitter’s bullshitter. You know most of the stories; the gambling, the not getting along with teammates, the never ending search for one more dollar. All of those stories are told here, though probably not for the first time.

There are three anecdotes that I took away from this book, two of them are surprisingly positive.

One was the way Rose stuck to his convictions when it came to hanging out with the black ball players when he was a rookie. Most of Rose’s teammates hated him, in fact the nickname “Charlie Hustle” was said by Mickey Mantle as a mean-spirited joke. The only clique in the clubhouse that liked Pete was Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson and the other black players, and they felt sorry for him.

As Pete became more and more famous, he was told by everyone; the manager, the general manager, his white teammates, even his father, not to hang around with the black guys … it just wasn’t the thing to do. Pete told them all to stick it and continued his friendship with them. This is one case where his stubbornness was a good thing.

Another interesting story is when Pete showed up to his first day of minor league ball. Basically he hopped off the train, showed up at the ballpark at 1 pm (the game was at night) and pretty much jumped the fence and began hitting. When his manager asked who the hell he was, he stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Pete Rose, your new second baseman.”

That kind of self-confidence is rare in a person and is something that I wish that I had. If there is one thing that I want to instill in my children, it’s that.

The third is an example of what a prick he was, but keeps the themes of self confidence and stubbornness. During the 70s, whenever a Red was selected as player of the game, he got a bonus from the radio station that covered the team. Every guy put the bonus in a pot and at the end of the year, the Reds had a pretty big party. Not Pete, as far as he was concerned, it was his money and he kept it.

Yes, there is something to say for individualism, but that has a time and a place. While baseball is the most individualized of team sports, it’s not golf or tennis. You need your teammates to pick you up. Pete never realized that and is one of the main reasons (along with his stubbornness and misplaced self confidence) why he still remains out of the game that he loves so much.

3. “Now I Can Die in Peace” by Bill Simmons

If you’re reading this and you don’t know who Bill Simmons in, than we don’t have much to talk about. For the uninitiated Simmons is a writer for ESPN.com’s Page 2 that is from Boston and has a supremely pro-Boston slant on things. I’ve been reading him since my old roommate Eddie, emailed me columns of his from back when he had a page on Digital Cities (an old AOL portal).

I know that back in June I swore that I’d never buy another thing about the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox. I just have spent way too much green on them and I was done, but since I have no willpower I didn’t stop and I probably won’t stop until I get this. By the way, that would make a great Christmas gift.

In any event, Simmons has gone through all of his old columns and picked out the best 30 or so and jammed them into this book. Most writers with a rabid fan base would probably call it a day and just sit back and count the dollars rolling in. Thankfully, Simmons isn’t like most writers as he jots down hundreds of notes on the sides of each column explaining what he was thinking when he wrote the pieces and when he was mistaken.

Like Simmons has said many times, it’s like a DVD commentary … except in book form. And he’s right. I can honestly say that I’ve read about 95% of everything that he’s written on ESPN.com and Digital Cities, so I’ve seen these articles before. But, it was a lot of fun to go back and read about how pumped he was when the Sox traded for Pedro, signed Manny, the Nomar experience took flight and the craptastic years of 2001 and 2002.

Simmons has always done a fine job of capturing what the every man thinks about sports without being condescending. Honestly, there isn’t much else to say about the book, if you’re a Sox fan, you should get it. If you’re a fan of humorous sports writing, you should pick it up. If you’re just a fan of writing in general (while Simmons does repeat certain ideas, he can turn a phrase), you should buy it … but wait until it comes out in paperback.

4 and 5 “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” and “Fargo Rock City” by Chuck Klosterman

Ok. I think that I know a lot about pop culture, but I bow to the feet of the Master, Chuck Klosterman. The first book I read, “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” completely blew my mind. Why? Because I didn’t think that it was possible for somebody to write a bunch of well thought out essays on seemingly trivial subjects and get them published.

Klosterman did. And do you know why he got them published? Two reasons: a. he’s passionate about his work (and he’s a hell of a writer) and b. he treated each subject with maturity (and he’s a hell of a writer). There are some hacks who bring up an interesting subject from their childhood, let’s just say the Snorks and will snidely make fun of it while attempting to lionize it.

Klosterman doesn’t do that. He will make fun of himself for liking the subject that he’s writing about, but he doesn’t make fun of the subject itself and that is why he is awesome at what he does and why there a million other Chuck Klosterman wannabes who don’t get it.

As I was reading this on the beach while lying on the beach in Hawaii (ok, I threw that last phrase in there to get you a bit jealous) I kept telling Aly about how this is one of the greatest books that I’ve ever read and how inspired I was by it. And it’s true. Klosterman is the shit. There, I said it. One of the great things about this book is that he doesn’t take any prisoners either. If you don’t get what he’s talking about, or can’t remember the name of Blair’s retarded cousin from “the Facts of Life” (Geri Jewell) too fucking bad, you’re not going to get the theme of the essay.

The best part about it is that much like a college professor who expects you to come to class knowing the material, Klosterman doesn’t care. With his books, you’re expected to bring something to the table. If you don’t, you’re going to be very hungry.

The other book I read, “Fargo Rock City” is a lot like SDACP, however instead of bouncing all over the place with essays on TV shows, books, movies, Klosterman sticks to writing about heavy metal. And he does a great job of lending the genre some sincerity and why it wasn’t as bad as many mainstream critics felt it was.

Basically his take is this, the music from his youth (heavy metal) defines his generation and if you trash the music, you’re really trashing his generation. He’s not about to take that lying down. He isn’t so naïve as to think that Slaughter or Firehouse or Krokus are the Beatles. What he says is that the music reflected the times and like it or not, that’s pretty much the way it is.

Like “Superstud”, Klosterman is able to weave his experiences through the music and is a masterful storyteller. He has another book that I can’t wait to read.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Little Late 19th Century German Philosophy, Slater?

Ok, so I pretty much cribbed this title from “Dazed and Confused” … and if you didn’t know the real quote is, “A little foosball Slater?” said by Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) to Slater (Rory Cochrane) outside of the Emporium right before Mitch Kramer throws the bowling ball through the car window.

An aside from the comic strip, I just got the “Dazed and Confused” deluxe edition on Friday with a bunch of cut scenes. We (Kim, Jamie, Aly and I) watched them before we put the movie on, and it completely made the movie different.

How? For one thing Benny (Cole Hauser) was more a dick, he calls a couple of Asian kids “gooks” and talks about how the country is going to hell, there was more of a division between the jocks and the stoners, there was a scene where Benny really lays into Pink (Jason London) about quitting the football team and there was a scene were O’Bannon (Ben Affleck) shows up at the Moontower keg party.

These scenes made the flick much more dark, especially the Benny moments. Without his cut scenes, Benny seemed like a good-natured big guy, one of those tough dudes that really was a nice guy. But with the added scenes, he was a xenophobic dick. And it was cool to see Affleck leave the Emporium in a huff, the incoming freshmen winning their battle, if only for the night. With him returning to the party, the paint on the head scene really doesn’t mean too much.

Anyway, the original is a great flick and the new and improved version is pretty cool too, if you have an extra $15, go out and get it. You won’t be disappointed.

Ok, now to my comic strip. I have to admit, when I was plotting this out, I wasn’t really pumped about the art, especially coming on the heels of last week’s entry. Like I’ve said in other entries, after doing the inking, I think that it actually came out pretty good. There’s a few things that I’d change if I had to do it over again, but overall, the art is decent.

What am I talking about? What comic strip? What the hell does plotting mean? Check it out here: www.room19comics.com and all will be revealed.

The bottom line is this; there are some strips that are carried by the art and others that are carried by the writing. This strip falls into the latter category. I think it’s a clever turn on Nietzsche’s philosophies and working the Sox into the mix is always a bit fun. I think that one of the funnier parts of this strip is the juxtaposition of the Sox and something completely unrelated, namely the rantings of a syphilis-filled Friedrich Nietzsche.

When I originally wrote the idea for the strip, I was knee-deep in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and really looking for the message behind that book in other areas of entertainment. Although I never said what Eddie said, I was toying with the idea of punctuating all of my sentences with “Thus spoke Byron Magrane”, before realizing that everybody a. wouldn’t get the joke and b. think I was a complete retard or insane, or probably both.

So, I let my alter ego say it with the results happening just as I imagined that they would.

BTW, this is the first week in a while that a t-shirt graphic isn’t an old-school hockey logo. It’s the “A” from the title of the Avengers comic strip. Out of all of the comic logos that I grew up on, the Avengers were the best. I think I like the angled A and the way that there is an arrow in the middle (BTW, that’s where the word “The” was located, as in The Avengers). I’m just throwing that out there … I don’t know what it means in the long run.

I’m hoping that today I can post a book report on the last five books that I’ve read. I am really behind in this, so hopefully you’ll come back and take a peek.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Form of … A Funny Comic Strip

I’ve been thinking about the direction of this strip during the last two weeks. What I’ve decided is that there are three ways that I can go with this strip: I can continue to do college style humor, I can hone in current and past pop culture using these characters that I’ve created (and the Random Memories stuff) or I can do a bit of both until something shakes out.

Last week I did the first type of humor and it worked pretty well. Since I usually use SoSH as a spring board for the strip, I get a lot of feedback there. One of the comments I got was that [last week’s strip] worked because of its simplicity. And I agree, it was a very uncomplicated joke where hubris was the downfall. This week’s joke is a bit more complicated and will probably only hit about half of the audience (if I’m lucky).

Let me say, first off, that this isn’t some Dennis Miller rant that only college professors and fans of 18th Century English Restoration novels will get. I mean, I would wager that most people are aware of the Saturday morning cartoon the Super Friends. And of those people, the Trouble Alert was a main part of the show. However, if there are some older folks who happen upon this corner of the Internet, some real younger people who never got to see that cartoon or people who think comic books are stupid; then this strip will completely suck.

Holy Hannah! What are you blabbering about, Super Fool? Take it easy, Lex and go to www.room19comics.com to see what I mean. There all of your questions will be answered.

I think that’s the risk you take when writing/drawing about a specific genre of pop culture. In the last two months I’ve read two Chuck Klosterman books (“Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puff” and “Fargo Rock City” – two awesome books, BTW … I haven’t gotten around to reviewing them here yet, but I will) and have been plowing through the second and third volumes of the Peanuts cartoons. If you’ve been reading this Blog, then you know about my obsession with the Peanuts characters, but Klosterman is a new obsession.

The guy is a pop culture maven. He seems to remember everything and just throws as much knowledge into every book, article, essay that he can. For those that get the jokes, they really work. For those that don’t you end up feeling a bit stupid (especially if you’re from his generation [Generation X … don’t get me started on that moniker]) and if you miss enough, you get pissed at him and stop reading his stuff.

This is what I’m wrestling with right now, do I stay on the relatively easy track of writing everyman, college stories or do I delve into a more fertile ground of skewering pop culture? On one hand, the everyman college stuff seems to be done to death, I found a web site the other day (Girls and Sports) that is a dead ringer for Room19Comics. From the tone to the settings to each strip’s stories, they could be the exact same thing.

Someone SoSH hipped me to it, and frankly, it scared me. I didn’t think that there were a lot of college-based strips out there, but when I saw one that is almost exactly like mine, it made me reconsider my overall goal.

Don’t misunderstand, turning to a more pop-culture based strip isn’t a knee-jerk reaction, and to be truthful, I’m not even sure if I will do it. However, becoming the Chuck Klosterman of the comic world is an intriguing idea to me. I have an excellent memory when it comes to this stuff and it is something that comes rather easy to me. From the time I saw “Clerks” I wondered how I could do what Kevin Smith and Klosterman and Bill Simmons do. Will it work? Does a comic strip, as a medium, lend itself to that kind of writing? I don’t know … but I hope to find out.

So, to make a long story short, in the coming months expect to see more pop culture related strips and thoughts. If they suck or if you dig them, let me know. I haven’t been getting a large amount of feedback, and this is shameless begging folks, I really need it.

That’s what’s been going on in my brain for the past two weeks, aren’t you glad that I’ve been updating this Blog once a week? Turning to this week’s strip, there are a lot of cool things that I think that I did. In the first panel, I think I did a fine job with the pacing. Again, our dynamic duo are standing at the bus stop just shooting the shit, when Eddie brings up the Super Friends.

And I’ve always wondered about this, whenever the Super Friends wanted to all they had to do was turn on the Trouble Alert (that gigantic TV in their headquarters) and tell it to find the Legion of Doom. It always found them. What I thought was completely uncool is that the Super Friends would watch the LOD do their dirty work and then break into action. Superman, the Flash or the Green Lantern could get to where they need to get in under five seconds. Why don’t they do it?

For some reason, they wait until someone cries for help and then break into action.

Furthermore, who set up all of these cameras? There has to be a way for the Trouble Alert to transfer all of this information to the Hall of Justice, right? Unless it’s an insanely powerful satellite.

So, Eddie and Kurt are talking about this (Eddie, BTW, is wearing a Kansas City Scouts jersey and Kurt is wearing a “Rest in Peace Arrested Development” shirt – I am absolutely crushed about AD getting pulled from the schedule. It’s total bullshit and FOX sucks as do the public that doesn’t support a show like this.)

The second panel could be done a bit better, it’s extremely wordy and could’ve been plotted a bit better. If I could do it again, Kurt would be in the full frame. I guess it could be argued that skewing with the perspective is interesting, I’m not sure.

In the third panel, I’m not wild about the “super pervs” line either, sounds kind of forced. Should Kurt really be that mad at a cartoon? But, in all I think Eddie does a good job of being the straight man here.

The last panel is one of my favorites. I think I did a bang-up job of drawing Batman. It’s not as easy as you think, especially from behind. Also, I enjoy how I set the strip on it’s ear … is it a comic set in real life, is it a comic set in the DC world? Who the hell knows, all I know is that Eddie’s paranoia was rewarded.

And the best part is that I got to make fun of Aquaman. There is no better comic character in the world to rag on than AM, especially the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends version. He’s the best, mainly because he’s such a pussy. You would figure that a guy who ostensibly controls 75% of the world would be tougher, but he’s not. In the comics, they ripped off his hand and replaced it with a hook and made him more mean, but he’s still Aquaman in my book. Also, the WB is coming out with a “Smallville”-esque type Aquaman show for next year.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading 19Thoughts for any length of time, you know how I love to write about him (go through the archive, I hate to pat myself on the back, but it’s really some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever written. I love writing for douche bags.) The last panel has two jokes in one, really: Batman spying on the boys and Aquaman’s horny admission.

So there you go, a long-winded explanation and a meandering meta column. If you’ve read this far, I commend you.

Yahoo! Sucks

For some reason I can't get my Blog which I saved in my Yahoo! account last night ... so half of it is not going to posted here. You can get the whole Blog by clicking on the link below this explanation.

This totally sucks, because it's actually a good update this week.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hi-jinks and Pratfalls

Today’s comic isn’t usually the way we roll (man, this is my new favorite saying by the way and I am glad I get to use it in the Blog) around here, but I think it’s a good idea to branch out into different types of comedy. Actually, it could be argued that there is really only one branch of comedy on the Room 19 comics tree, but that is left to be debated for another day.

Trees? Comics? Rolls? Mmmmm … cinnamon rolls. What the hell are you talking about? See what everyone is jibber-jabbering about on www.room19comics.com right now. Then come back here and read the rest of this super interesting Blog.

The basic set up for this strip is that young Eddie is getting ready for a night out, probably not a party, perhaps a date. He’s got the clothes, he’s got the shoes and he’s got the cologne. Too bad he’s the same dude we always are when we get dressed up. BTW, the Adidas line was one that I wrestled with for a long time because though he is wearing sneakers, he feels that they’re dress up sneakers. That’s sort of a built-in joke, and one that I actually put in there for my wife.

Quick aside: whenever Aly and I go out, inevitably I say the same thing, “I can wear sneakers right?” She usually says, “Nope. It’s a shoe night.” And I go into a diatribe about how Jerry Seinfeld wears sneakers out and Larry David wears sneakers out. Then she says, “I thought you said Jerry Seinfeld is the worst dresser on TV?” At which point, she’s caught me in my stupid logic and proceed to put on my dress shoes.

The point of that panel is (and is a microcosm of this week’s strip), no matter how smooth you think you are, chances are that you’re not.

The one thing that I think that I’m really beginning to do well is to establish timing in the strip. Check out the doorway of the first panel, all you see is a shoe. The second panel, Kurt makes his appearance, but only half way. Third panel, he is there, but hasn’t said anything. Fourth panel and there’s the punch-line. A few months ago, I would’ve just had Kurt standing next to him or sitting on the bed and I don’t think it would be as funny. Mostly because the element of surprise -- Eddie thinks he’s alone and he’s talking to himself to psyche himself up for the big night out.

There are a few things I don’t like about this strip though; for one thing, you have no idea how long it took me to draw Eddie putting on his shoe (which is a shitty version of an Adidas shoe, BTW). I had him bending over to tie his shoe, but he looked like a gorilla with really long arms and stubby legs. I had him putting his foot on the bed, but again the drawing was terrible as his arms were too long and his leg was too squat. So I made the best out of a bad situation and had him slipping into some sneakers.

Also, the chair in the corner of the first two panels is a poor excuse for a bean bag chair. I don’t know what the hell I was trying to do there, but that doesn’t look like a very comfortable seat.

All in all, I think this is a solid strip and it should get a chuckle out of most people. Not only that, but it should also remind us that we are only great in our minds.

Chances are pretty good that you’re just going to get one Blog entry per week from now until the middle of November. With school and other stuff, I just don’t have the time … as you can probably tell. While it sucks, things are going to start picking up soon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Week Too Late?

This would've been a great strip last Wednesday, it was the exact year anniversary of the Red Sox winning their first World Series, the Series just ended with another Sox victory (White this time) and Theo Epstein was still with the team. However, life happens, so this was pushed to this week.

It's still a kick-ass strip, but the one thing that I have learned from this is: in life, timing is everything.

What the hell am I talking about? If you don't know, you should go on over to: www.room19comics.com and check out what you're missing. It's quite a lot this week.

There's a lot to say about this strip, for starters I did a bunch of things differently. I actually drew humans and not comic strip characters when it came to Keith Foulke, Jason Varitek and Doug Mientkiewicz (that is the first time I've ever spelled his name correctly). You might recognize the second panel, it's one of the more famous scenes from last year's World Championship image galleries.

The first one may not be so memorable, this was immediately after Foulke flipped the Edgar Renteria grounder to Minky (I'm not typing his name again) and from the looks of it, let out a primal scream. In my drawing, it sort of looks like he's bitching about a bad call or something, but I swear to you that's how he looked in the picture. I really think that I did a good job of capturing the joy in the face of Minky though; his armed raised, gigantic smile on his face. I'm really proud of that.

The second panel is something new, as Varitek is leaping out of the normal constraints of the box. I don't think that I've ever attempted that before, and I must say that it came out pretty good. With most new things, it became a necessity as when I started drawing Varitek hugging Foulke, I realized that I either made the box too small or the figures too large. I'll leave that to the future philosophers and art critics to judge.

The final panel is tying it all together with the strip, as Eddie, Kurt and Chris celebrate the utter bliss of watching your long-suffering team finally win a World Series after 86 years. I drew Kurt's right arm way too short, but I think that this panel is secondary compared to the other two because that is where the action really is.

This week I experimented with a new way of doing the boxes, I made heavy, dark lines with Adobe Photoshop after my initial lines were messed up. BTW, the text is from none other than WEEI's own Joe Castiglione.

I'm going to try do update the Blog a bit more, but with school and now married stuff, it's getting really hard.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Day After

Technically, it's the two weeks after but that doesn't have the same pinache as the title I chose. So, uhm, err, what have you been up to?

Me? That's very kind of you to ask, not too much, just chillin' ... a tiny bit of illin'. I got married and then went to Hawaii for the honeymoon and now I'm home. That's the short of it.

Two weeks ago, almost to the exact moment, I ended my single life and became a married man. I never really thought that it would happen to me, not because of a low self image or anything, it's just that I thought marriage is something that other people do. I guess to other people, I'm an other person. In any event, Aly and I got married at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Brookline. (Quick note, if you think that you're seeing more hyperlinks than usual, then you're very perceptive.)

It wasn't too bad, the thing that I was dreading (not saying Aly's name during the ceremony ... think of Ross in that episode of "Friends" when he said Rachel instead of Emily) didn't happen. That was good. Everything after that was gravy. If you read my previous entry, I said that I wasn't nervous at all. That changed around 4:00, with the ceremony a half hour after that, I became a little freaked. Jay tried to calm me down and that sort of worked, but I didn't get completely cool until about five minutes into the ceremony.

I wasn't completely out of my mind or anything like that, but the gravity of the whole situation gradually hit me over the day until it came to a boil at 4:00. I'm glad that I never have to go through that again.

After the church, we hopped on over to the Ballroom Veronique, also in Brookline. This is where our reception was. It was awesome, everything was done perfectly. I know it sounds sort of gay and guys aren't supposed to give a shit about things like this, but it was easily the best night of my life. All of my friends and family were there and everyone just had a lot of fun.

The food was great and Ryan did an awesome (and I mean awesome) job with the best man's speech. He hates talking in front of people, so I really respect that he came out and said some nice words about Aly and me. Of course, being a Foley, he went above and beyond that.

When Aly and I started dating I knew that I liked her, but wasn't quite sure if she felt the same about me, so I concocted a scheme that would insure that I was around until at least the end of the baseball season. As most know, she's a Yankee fan and I live for the Sox, so every series of the 2003 season we had dinner riding on the winner. For the full season, the loser had to wear the other team's clothes around their friends. I lost the series on the last day of the season when Bernie Williams clubbed a two-run homer off Jeff Suppan to give the Yanks a 3-1 win.

So I had to wear a Yank's hat in NYC during the playoffs. For posterity, she got a picture of me and, while I didn't have to wear the outfit in front of my friends, they got the picture. Fast forward two years later and Ryan gets the picture blown up to poster size. He told everyone that the day I wore an interlocking NY on my head is the day that he knew I was going to marry Aly. Then, he told everyone to lift up their bread dishes because there were wallet-sized pics of the poster for everyone. It was a great speech. He did an awesome job.

The reception was like every other reception, the band BC and Company did a hell of a job and kept everyone entertained. It was just a great, great time. In a way, I wish I could do it all again ... but then I think about the month leading up to that day and I don't wish that on anyone.

The day immediately after the wedding was a Monday and we didn't do anything. We went to Matt Murphy's for a drink and some grub and enjoyed just being with each other. We were both on family overload and couldn't wait for the honeymoon to start. Ah yes, the honeymoon. Now we're getting somewhere ...

That entire Tuesday was literally spent in an airplane. We ran into some minor delays, but 18 hours later we were a half a world away. Yes. I typed 18 hours later. Aly's brother John (who has a new book out "A Season of Loss, A Lifetime of Forgiveness") gave us the miles we needed for the free trip. Since there are no direct Boston to Honolulu flights, we went to Atlanta and San Francisco before we got to Hawaii's capital city.

You think that was bad? We ran into a woman who lives in San Diego. Her flight was San Diego to Atlanta to San Francisco to Honolulu. And she was with a three-year-old. But, she got the tickets free too, so she couldn't complain.

We stayed at the Aston Beach Waikiki hotel. I thought that it was ok, Aly didn't like it so much. Put it this way, it was the worst of the three places we stayed in. The room was as tiny as our living room (which, if you've never seen our living room isn't very big) but there was a terrace outside. The problem was the thing was literally big enough to hold one deck chair. Just going out on the terrace gave me vertigo.

Waikiki was ok. Glad that I went and saw Pearl Harbor (the memorial, not the movie) but it wasn't what I thought that Hawaii was going to be like. Aly said it best when she said that it was like they dropped Manhattan onto a beach. There was a lot of hustle and bustle and a million tourists, and we just wanted to chill. It may sound like that we hated the place, but we didn't. For one thing, the food was outstanding, our favorite restaurant of the whole trip Nick's Fish Market was there.

I had the best piece of swordfish that I've ever eaten. Basically, that's all we did on our honeymoon is eat. I'm not really a seafood guy, but I ate more fish than I ever have in my entire life. Ahi, swordfish, opah, lobster, scallops, mahi-mahi, sea bass, opakipaki and more. It was awesome. I think I only had one steak the entire time that I was there.

After a few days on Oahu, we moved on over to Maui. This is what we were looking for, very calm and chill. The Aston Kaanapali Shores rocked. The ocean was crystal clear, from the beach we gazed over to another island (the leper one) and the hotel staff was totally cool. Just a great place to go. The hotel next to us had a bit of a scare on the Sunday that we were there, apparently a kid was boogie boarding and he got bit by a black tip shark. The natives were like, that's no problem, he got bit and then swam away. Not really a big deal, I guess. =)

On Maui is where we did our activities. We went snorkeling around Molokini Crater with the Pacific Whale Foundation. It rocked. A really good time, they fed you, gave you booze and snorkeling stuff (masks, fins, etc). Aly and I saw a lot of cool fish and a lot of stuff that we'd never see without the snorkeling gear. No sharks though, but we did see a bunch of sea turtles.

The following day we took a drive to Hana, which is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world. It was only 52 miles from our hotel, but it took like eight hours to get there and back. The main reason is because you can literally go 15 miles per hour on the roads because it is through a dense rain forrest. Besides the lush greenery, there are also a lot of cool waterfalls along the way.

Normally, people get in vans and go on guided tours, we didn't opt for that. Instead we paid $20 and got a CD where these two dudes, Uncle Boy and Captain Aloha, pointed out the sites and where to stop on the Road to Hana. Aly wanted to murder these two dudes by the end of the trip, but I thought that they were awesome. Goofy isn't even the word I'd use to describe these two guys. I'd probably use the word lame, but it was under the whole, it's so bad it's funny headline. I enjoyed it ironically ... thank you Chuck Klosterman for teaching me those ways.

We stopped for dinner here, Mama's Fish House. Awesome. Just plain awesome. Probably better than Nick's Fish House, even though I said that was our favorite restaurant ... I was wrong. This place kicked ass. Aly got a macadameian nut encrusted piece of mahi mahi stuffed with lobster and crab meat under a pineapple glaze that was beyond words. Just tremendous. I had a bowl of lobster and steak soup and a piece of opah. Not as good as Aly's dish, but top notch.

The following morning, at 2:30 am, Aly and I were taken by van to the top of Mt. Haleakala where we watched the sun rise. It wasn't that romantic, there were 400 other people up there with us. Following that, we got mountain bikes and went down the 38 mile road to the bottom. Sounds like a lot of exercise, huh? I probably peddled about a half mile, if I was lucky. It's all down hill. Aly was scared shitless, because we were on the edge of a mountain without a guard rails, but if you kept your eyes on the road and focused, you were ok.

The people that we went with were a bunch of rednecks though. Actually, there were a lot of Southerners at the hotel, I've never seen so many mustaches, bad tattoos (one guy had the Tazmanian Devil with an AK-47)and cigarettes in my life. Most people were ok, but these people sucked. They kept ripping ass at 3:30 in the morning and blaming it on their friends. They were at least 45-years-old. The first time was sort of funny, but the 12th time sucked.

After we had a nap on the beach, we went to our first luau. Very cool. They had a fire-eater and we ate like pigs. At least I did. I had two of everything, tremendous food. The cool thing was that they were filming the luau, so we get a free copy. I'll probably never watch it, but if I ever did want to see what our 300 pound mistress of ceremonies looked like again, or what a slutty version of Michelle Wie looked like (she was one of the hula girls), I can.

BTW, check this map out and you can see all of the places we went.

The following day we were off to Kauai and the Marriott Kauai hotel. Easily. Easily the best place we stayed at. Just awesome. We were on a bay, so there wasn't a lot of waves and there was a huge pool in the middle of the complex where we spent most of our time. Kauai was a bit rainier than Maui and Oahu, but the vegetation was much more lush. They had some real pretty scenery. We stayed there for two days and we came home.

And that's about it, the description took longer than the vacation. I'm not done yet, I have to give the reviews of the four, yes, four books that I read while over there. But I'll probably do that later in the week.

BTW, another thing that you're going to notice is that I took away the instant message option from the site ... I was getting spammed to death. So, sorry, just email me.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Well, this is it

It is the morning of my wedding day and I'm pretty calm in advance of what is going to happen later this afternoon. Brownie and Skaus came over last night, we played some cards, drank some beers, watched the Astros/Braves and Bruins games and I was in bed and asleep by 1:30. I woke up around 9:00, read the paper, ate some leftovers and here I am.

If this was three years ago, it'd be just an ordinary October Sunday. But it's not. Today is the day that my life changes forever. A bit overdramatic? Maybe, but I think that this occasion warrants a bit of drama. It's hard to describe how I feel, nervous? Certainly, but not as much as I thought I'd be. Anxious? Definitely. This is the one feeling that is churning in my stomach.

As I'm sitting here writing and contemplating and thinking about the events that are going to unfold in about five hours, things are beginning to come into focus. By 3:50, I'll be in the back of the church waiting until Fr. Brian tells me and Jay that we can come to the front of the altar and wait for Aly. All of my friends and relatives, as well as Aly's friends and relatives will be watching us and no one else.

Then we'll have the mass. Then it's off to get pictures. Then they announce us, we have our first dance, we cut the cake, I dance with my mom, she dancs with her dad. The normal stuff that goes on at a wedding, which I'm sure you know, but this exercise is more for me to envision what's going to happen in the coming hours.

After that, it will be over. Thirteen months of planning, petty fights, minor annoyances, will be done. There will be nothing for us to do on the weekends, no rushing to pump something out on weeknights. I think this is what will put the bliss in wedding bliss.

So far, the strangest thing of today has been the myriad phone calls I'm getting ... all asking the same question, "Are you nervous?" If that's not a clue that something big is happening, I don't know what is.

Ok, now that I've got some wedding jitters out of the way, a few pretty cool things have happened to me over the last week to ten days that I haven't really written about because I've been completely slammed with wedding stuff, school stuff and work stuff. I'll start backwards and try to jam everything in ... before I have to start getting ready.

Friday night, we had the rehearsal dinner at Skipjack's restaurant in Boston. We had a great time. The food was excellent, the company was tremendous and it gave me and Aly and opportunity to thank our friends and family for being there for us. I wrote a short speech about each of the groomsmen before presenting them with their gifts (a money clip and an autographed copy of "Why Not Us?" by Leigh Montville). It was tough to make it through the words, but since I had it written out, Aly was able to pinch hit for me in the tough spots.

During the dinner, we found out the Red Sox were dumped by the White Sox in three straight to end their season. Sort of predictable, but a bummer none the less. When I come back from the honeymoon, I will give my post-mortem on the team, the year and who might be staying and who might be packing their bags.

Thursday night, I was home pretty late. For the last week, I've been getting into work early and staying as late as I could preparing for the next two weeks of me not being around. From September 9 through October 31, I have a total of 27 shows that will be happening all over the country. It was a big-time pain in the ass making sure that everything was done correctly and that everyone will be covered. This was the biggest worry on my mind, and at 7:15 on Thursday night it felt like a tremendous yoke was taken off my back.

That moment that you leave work to embark on a vacation, is the best moment ever.

Speaking of work, old friend Tom Abarams emailed me Friday morning asking if I was still interested in teaching. The school that he's at is fairly desperate for teachers. It's an intriguing idea, good thing I'll have time to mull this over.

I started the web design portion of my classes this week. For the next month or so, I'm going to be doubling up ... classes on Monday and Tuesday. That is going to suck, but I will be finishing up the program a few months quicker, so I just have to keep that in the back of my head.

Ok, I'm just about done with this ... I do want to apologize for a lack of updates here and especially the cartoon. The last two weeks have been absolutely insane, and I promise that when I get back to normal, I'll have the same once a week cartoon ready every Wednesday morning.

I'm out. See you on the flip.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I'm Just Here For The Beer!

That's the saying on Layne's shirt, if you can't read it ... though I think it is large enough to be seen. This is the second to last strip for a bit, mostly because I'm getting married and will be on my honeymoon for two weeks.

If you're wondering what strip I'm talking about, you can check it out here: www.room19comics.com

I'm not in a writing mood tonight (I am absolutely exhausted), so I'm mostly going to let the artwork do the talking. There are a few things that I think that you should really take a look at though:

1. I think I did a good job of drawing Layne's expressions when it came to being
"wasted" in the first two panels and then his realization that he isn't fooling anyone in the last two. Everyone has had a friend who acted sort of wasted at parties to further the image that this is a "rocking good bash". It was always fun to bust that person.

2. Which leads me to my next point, look at the expressions on Eddie's face. He knows Layne isn't wasted and is bemused by the whole ruse ... especially after Layne gives him the "cool" line about boys counting and men drinking. I think in this instance, the one panel of silence works well. It builds up a bit of tension.

3. When I first decided to draw a comic strip about college life, one of the things that I worried about was drawing crowds. I knew that eventually I was going to have a party setting and wanted to convey the appearance that there were a lot of people at the party, but I didn't want to make it so detailed that it would take away from the main action of the piece.

I've used the silhouette mode before and I think it works quite well. Like all gatherings, each group of party goers in the background have their own little dramas going on. This was a lot of fun to draw and I think are more interesting than the main joke.

I think that the Layne character is going to be somewhat of a dopey party-animal type dude. Someone you would like to hang with, but not one of your closest friends. What you see is what you get.

Also, check out the new logo. I think it's pretty chill.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Same Old, Same New

As you can tell by now, Eddie and Kurt are back in the fold. Hanging at the bus stop and pontificating on the world like they normally do. I got some feedback on my last strip, September 14 that was a Random Memories and people said to keep going with it, because it has more heart than my Eddie strips.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. On one hand I have a bunch of dopey stories from my childhood that I can turn into strips, but I feel that's completely arrogant and has a sort of "Look at me and the funny things I do" quality to it. That's the one hurdle I have to get over. Plus, I think that the Eddie chronicles are pretty funny.

Are they always spot on? No, but I think that there is a certain pathos (Jesus, just say charm, Brainiac) to the characters that I am only scratching. In any event, I'm going to continue with the Eddie stuff and keep my Random Memories to a once every five week type of schedule.

BTW, if you're reading this in my Blog and have no clue what I'm talking about, go to www.room19comics.com and see what all the fuss is about.

This week's strip is a further continuation of old hockey logos on Eddie's shirt. The logo is from the long departed Minnesota North Stars. Good team, great sweaters, evil owner. He moved them to Dallas where there was rumor that they were going to be called the Lone Stars (not a bad name) but decided to stick with the lame Stars.

In any event, Eddie is lamenting to Kurt about a vision of beauty that he saw in his English class. Sort of biographical to me as there were a lot of nice looking chicks in my English class. And I would often tell my buddies about the new girl that I was digging that week.

Inevitably, they would ask me if asked her out or put the moves on her. Nine out of ten times the answer was no. While it was quite as pathetic as eddies, I just had no game in that kind of situation. In this strip, Kurt is playing a more aggressive role than he has in past strips. As he's the one that moves the strip along and brings out the ultimate punchline.

BTW, Kurt is wearing a Pearl Jam shirt that I thought would've looked cool around last year's elections. I designed it myself.

Also, you may have noticed the new logo on the top of the page. I think it's way snappier than the old logo and really brightens up the site a bit. I actually did two of them and the other one will be making its appearance next week. To find all of the "juicy dirt" on how it was made, check Monday's Blog entry, which is right under this one.

There's actually lots of good stuff in there about the Sox, my classes and something sort of embarrassing.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Broken Promises

I know that I was supposed to update the Blog on Thursday, but stuff got in the way and here it is Monday and you get to hear about my last TWO weekends. Aren’t you the lucky ducks? So, you can all stop emailing me about when I'm going to update the site (actually, I did get an email about the Blog, very happy about it). In any event, I’m going to do some quick bullet type things and if you don’t like something, go to the next bullet.

* Went to the Sox game on Thursday night with Ryan, Skaus and Eddie. Nick couldn’t go and Brownie was vacationing in North Carolina. Quick aside, Brownie supposedly was evacuated from his vacation house because it was getting hit hard by Hurricane Ophelia. This is the second year in a row that he’s gone to NC in the midst of hurricane season. Sure, it’s cheaper, but it’s fucking hurricane season. I don’t think this is good planning, but what do I know?

Anyway, the game sucked. It was a match-up of Curt Schilling and Athletics rookie Joe Blanton. Seems like a pretty easy win for the Sox, huh? I think you’re forgetting that the Sox can’t hit shit unless they’ve seen a pitcher a minimum of four times. After a 35 minute rain delay, Schilling got cuffed around in the first two innings until he settled down and pitched reasonably well.

Blanton, on the other hand, pitched pretty damn well from start to finish and the Sox lost 6-2. While this was going on, the Yankees were beating the crap out of the Devil Rays and cut the division lead to 1.5 games.

As far as losses go, this one was simply terrible. The defense sucked, the hitting sucked, Schilling sucked and the weather sucked. All in all, a crappy night at the ball park that was made less crappy by the fact that it was over quickly. We have one more game, a week from Saturday against the Yankees.

* Which brings me to my next point: as of right now, the Sox still hold a slim 1.5 game lead in the division (one game in the loss column). This was after a six game lead in August. How the hell did this happen? Seriously? The Sox were rolling along beating up everyone from the Devil Rays and Royals to the Angels and White Sox, then they hit September and everything falls apart.

There are a few reasons for their fall:

1. They’re in the midst of 30 games in 30 days. It doesn’t matter if you’re a baseball player, a fry cook or a CEO of a multi-million dollar company, working for 30 days in a row sucks and will sap you of your energy. It just will.

2. There are three guys that are hitting: Johnny Damon, David Ortiz and Tony Graffinino. And Ortiz hasn’t been just hitting, he’s been Christ-like in the way the he can bring this team back from the dead. If he doesn’t get the MVP this year, than something is seriously wrong. Manny looks like he’s back on track with a good weekend against the A’s, but Varitek, Trot, Mueller, Millar and Renteria look hopeless at the dish. Hopefully, this slump lasts for a game or two longer, anything over than that and this team is done in the playoffs, if they make it.

3. Injuries have begun to take a toll on this team. In the last week alone, Gabe Kapler, Kevin Youkilis and Wade Miller have been completely lost for the season. Granted Kapler and Youks are just back ups, but they make up the bulk of the Sox bench. Who would you rather see hit in a key situation, Gabe Kapler or Adam Hyzdu? Besides the pitching rotation, the biggest strength of the 2004 Red Sox was its bench. This year, they’re going with the best nine guys and riding them.

4. Matt Clement sucks. There. I said it. He’s won two games since the All-Star break, is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and during that time, his ERA is over 10.00. Yesterday he gave up seven runs in a little over an inning against Oakland. When it comes to crunch time pitching, he makes Matt Young look like Roger Clemens. He has to find his old form if the Sox are going to succeed. That’s the bottom line.

* All year I look forward to September Sundays so I can easily flip between the Sox and the Pats on those afternoons when they’re playing a double dip. Despite both of the teams playing, yesterday, was a crap day. The Sox game was over by the second inning and the Patriots couldn’t get out of their own way in Carolina. It’s going to be a long ride home as I listen to the radio and hear all of New England whine about their two favorite teams.

And can I just give Carolina a hearty “Fuck You”? I haven’t been swearing a lot in this Blog, but seriously, the Panthers have managed to really piss me off. Last week I picked them in my suicide pool against the New Orleans Saints at home. This is the same Saints team that hasn’t been at their homes in over a month and have been wandering around the country looking for a place to play and practice.

The Panthers have been the favorites to win the Super Bowl this year with an awesome defense, a tremendous offense and a great coach. So what do they do? They lay a huge egg and for the third time in four weeks, I’m out of the suicide pool in the first week. Let that be a lesson to me, gambling sucks.

* Speaking of me, last weekend was the old birthday weekend. Aly took me to an awesome steak house in Boston on Friday, Smith and Wolensky’s and then my parents took us to Jimmy’s Steer House on Sunday. My mother thought that an appropriate gift for her oldest son (31 years old, BTW) would be to buy him two sets of every day utensils. So I got four forks, two spoons and two knives. Whopeee for me. I really don’t care about presents that much, honestly I’m too old to give a shit, but I was a bit disappointed (no, too strong of a word, maybe dejected?) about this. Actually, I’m not sure how I feel, but I wasn’t really thrilled.

Even my grandmother said it was a shitty gift and my father felt so bad, he made my mom give me another gift.

* This weekend, we didn’t do too much, Friday we stuck around the house and Saturday we hung out with some of Aly’s friends. Sunday (I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but I am) we had a dance lesson. To be honest, it wasn’t half bad. Aly and I went to Newton for this wedding crash course, where for two and a half hours they show you a couple of steps and a few other moves and you actually look pretty good.

There are a few things about the wedding that I’m nervous about, one of them is the first dance. I have zero coordination for these sort of things and during my life when I’m forced by a circumstance to dance, I just act really goofy and get through it. Unfortunately, this is one of those times where acting goofy isn’t going to cut it. The instructors were really nice, they showed us how to work together, how to lead, where to put my hands (they are NOT, as I was instructed in junior high, to be placed on the girl’s ass) and other crap.

All in all, not a bad way to warm up and now I’m not so freaked out about that.

* Aly’s dog Murphy passed away last Saturday, so it has been a pretty somber week at the Magrane house. Murphy was more than Aly’s pet, she was her best friend. When her brother went to college and her sister at school, Aly was all alone, so her parents got her a puppy. This dog and Aly became really close because for a while they were the only thing that each of them had.

Murphy just visited us in Brookline during the Labor Day weekend and was looking pretty good, so although she was 15, it was a bit of a surprise when she passed on. She was a great dog and a good friend. She will be missed.

* Two things about school, beginning in October, I’m taking two classes a week as my web design course start up. That should be a freaking blast as now I will have to go to school on Mondays and Tuesdays, get ready for the wedding, do my strip, work and find time to sleep. The one good thing is that at least I’ll be done with the course two months early.

The class that I’m in now is a design theory course and it’s pretty good. Very light on the computer, but heavy on theory. I love it, I enjoy talking about why a piece looks good and how it can be improved. Last week, our project was to design a logo for a company and I chose to design a few logos for If you go to the site now you can see one of them and in a few weeks I’ll be rotating the other one in. Both came out really well and I had a focus group to show my ideas.

* The last thing that I’m going to talk about is television, this fall looks like a banner year for the boob tube as a bunch of shows are coming on that I’m going to be watching and TiVoing. You should check them out: www.room19comics.com

Sunday night is going to be awesome with “the Simpsons”, “Family Guy”, “Rome” (on HBO) and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. Monday is going to be killer as “Arrested Development” moves from Sunday to there. Hopefully that show will find an audience there.

There’s a few more other shows that I will be catching regularly, the Jason Lee show, “My Name is Earl” (I think that’s what its called), “The Office”, “Survivor”, “Everyone Hates Chris” and maybe I’ll try to get into “Scrubs” and “Lost”. So the 2005 fall TV season looks like it’s going to be a winner, and with the usual stuff that I watch and the Sox and the Pats … the old TiVo is going to be filled with stuff.