Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Women and Pictures

This week's Room 19 is sort of autobiographical. The key words in that last sentence is "sort of". About eight years ago a new magazine burst on the scene, you may have heard of it, its called Maxim. My brother had a subscription and one day I was leafing through it. There was an article on how to attract chicks and keep them in your bedroom (because that's where the "magic" happens).

Among the list of things to have in your room (besides a plant and some nice wine glasses) were pictures of you and your buddies. They said girls eat this stuff up because it shows that you're not all about sports, Star Wars and Cindy Crawford. It proved that you could have meaningful, deep relations with other people. That is what this week's strip is about.

I know what you're thinking, "Strip? Cindy Crawford? Now you're speaking my language, old buddy!" Check out www.room19comics.com to see what I'm talking about.

A week after I read that article, I found a bunch of pictures of my friends and family and put them on the wall. The next part proved to be a little tougher, now I had to get a girl up there. Eventually one did wander off the street and upstairs and guess what the first thing she mentioned was? That's right, my vast collection of baseball hats on the wall (for that touch of class), but she after that she made a bee-line to the pictures. Thank you, Maxim.

BTW, all of the other Maxim hints didn't work too well, so I believe it was beginer's luck.

In this episode Eddie has just told Kurt about his new discovery, Kurt rolls his eyes and sort of goes with it. I am keeping with the old hockey logo t-shirts. This week Eddie is sporting a Hartford Whalers jersey. Even though they got their asses kicked every game by the Bruins and they played in a mall, the Whale were pretty cool. I miss those Nutmeggers.

The second panel is probably my favorite panel that I've ever drawn, I used a style that I first drew in this strip:
August 03 and I think it works when trying to set the scene for a party. Hell, if you think back to a big college party, more than 90% of the people there are faceless anyway.

When I showed Aly the inital sketches, she said, "No says 'nightcap' anymore" and that is the point. Eddie is sort of socially awkward, at least enough to be taking advice from a men's magazine that he'd actually use a corn-ball line. Best of all, it worked.

I think that the last two panels work well as the chick he brought up stairs got completely excited by pictures (and there are girls who do get that jazzed, we all know them). And look at the big grin on Eddie's face, he just knows that he's going to get some action tonight. That was my biggest task in doing this particular strip, I wanted Ed to have a huge grin, but I didn't want him to look crazy.

And as with most of Eddie's plans, they are ruined by the fourth panel. The shirt's off, no shoes, he's on the bed and his babe is still looking at pictures two hours later. I think this is a pretty good strip, but if there is one thing I wish I did a bit different, is to reverse the order of the last two weeks. I would have this one be the first strip and last week's August 24 be this week's.

Oh well, these are the lessons you learn when starting out.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

They're driving me nuts

And when I say "they" I mean the Boston Red Sox.

For a little over 40 days the Sox have been in first place, but the lead has never been iron-clad. The reason? Boston has simply not been able to pull away from a beaten-up, star-struck New York Yankees teams. Once the Sox' lead got large, they would begin to play terribly and the Yankees would start playing great.

While each bullpen has been terrible (save for Mariano Rivera) it all begins with the starting rotation. If your starters pitch better, your relievers don't have to pitch as much and thus can be saved. For a textbook example of this look at last year's New York Yankees whose bullpen was completely cooked in September and October.

This year, the Yanks have a starting rotation that is headed by the rotting corpse of Randy Johnson, the wildly inconsistent Mike Mussina, the immortal Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon and Jaret "Get me back to Atlanta and Leo Mazzone" Wright. Yet, as of this entry, they are 1.5 games behind the Sox for first place.

Not that the Red Sox starting staff is much better, Curt Schilling has been an absolute mess, David Wells has had his good days and his bad (and if it sounds as if I'm talking about someone's grandfather, check out the age of Boomer some time), guitar strumming Bronson Arroyo, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and Matt Clement. Of the five, only Clement has been considered "good" and I doubt that you'd find a Sox fan who has a lot of confidence in him.

So there's the problem: starting pitching. Neither the Red Sox or the Yankees have a very good staff. What is so disappointing about this turn of events is that the Red Sox won last year's World Series due to a great starting staff. They had a number one and one-A starters at the top of their rotation, two decent number three guys (Wakefield and Arroyo). The only stiff was Derek Lowe, but he was tremendous in the post season, so that wipes away his crappy year.

The question remains, did Sox GM Theo Epstein honestly feel that this year's staff was as good as last year's starting five? You have to say no, but what could he do? His prime off season target, Carl Pavano, has completely sucked in New York and could be done for the season with an injury. Clement and Wells were expected to be the solid two and three starters with Wake and Arroyo backing them up. There really wasn't any one else on the free agent or trade markets, so he made crap lemonade out of some crappy lemons.

The biggest problem for Boston is that one injury bug has ripped chunks of the Sox' staff to hell. Schilling has made a total of seven starts this year (also, he's worked some not-so-dominant innings in the bullpen) which had to be unseen. As you may recall, and how could you forget, Schilling was superhuman last October as doctors manueved parts of his ankle so the man could pitch without pain. Those sutures and maneuvers are a large part of why the Sox are floundering today.

This leads us to the inevitable question: would you trade the greatness of yesterday for the mediocrity of today? At the time every Sox fan made the same Faustian bargain, "As long as Boston wins the Series, I don't care if Schilling ever pitches another inning again." It looks like we may have gotten our wish as Curt Schilling has been pitching like Curt Young. While infuriating now, I would not go back on that "deal".

Yes, it sucks that the Sox are so damn inconsistent, but last year was magical and will never be topped. No one is saying that the Sox are done, but I'm beginning to sweat a bit. The one saving grace for the Sox (and the Yanks as well) has been their offense.

What do they say about great offenses and the post season?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Better Living Through Lying

The good news is that I'm feeling much better than I did Sunday and even yesterday. The bad news is that I think that I may have pulled something in my stomach when I was puking on Sunday. It feels as if someone is punching me right in the old sternum. But we're not here to talk about my alcoholic tendencies, that's for the entry under this one. We're here to talk about the new strip.

What new strip you ask? This one: www.room19comics.com

I hate to pat myself on the back (no, I really do) but it always amazes me how much better the strip looks after I ink it. When I finished with the pencils on Friday I just looked at it with disgust. It was flat, sort of boring and it sort of just laid flat on the page. But on Sunday after I was done with the inking, it seemed to be pop a lot more. This is a minor miracle, because on Sunday night I was near death.

If there is one thing that I wish I could do, it would be to add more black. Originally Kurt's shirt was supposed to be black, but I liked the way that I positioned Kurt in the first panel. In the long run, it's probably not that great of a position, but I usually don't draw him at a 3/4 position, so I thought that blackening his shirt would be sort of a waste of that pose.

BTW, the logo on Kurt's shirt is for Violet Lemons. What's that? It's a logo that I had to come up with for my Adobe Illustrator class. I thought it was pretty neat and I couldn't think of anything good at the time. So, that's what the VL stands for.

The first three panels are pretty typical of what I've been writing. Eddie sets it up, Kurt reacts and then there is that somewhat awkward silence. I really think that the silence sets up the final panel.

As far as the fourth panel goes, I am happy with the expression on Eddie's face. I think that it's absolutely perfect for what he says. When haven't we lied to our buddies to make ourselves feel better? It's done all of the time. And it's usually never malicious. It's just an easy thing to do sometimes.

There are a few things that I wish I and trying to improve with my art and I'm not sure if I'm doing a decent enough job. It's where to put the arms, Kurt looks absolutely wooden in the first panel. The other thing are shoulders. Most of the time I catch a bad shoulder, but there are times when they just sneak in there. This is also in the first panel and is also a part of Kurt's figure. I think that's what gives him the wooden look.

Otherwise this is a bang-up job.

Monday, August 22, 2005

That which does not kill me ...

Yes, I know this was due yesterday, but I was way too hung over to write anything, so I’m stealing a couple of minutes from work to write this out.

Saturday was a lot of fun, even if I don’t remember anything after 9:30. It all started at 11:30 when I met Ryan and Jay at Michael’s Harborside in Newburyport. Jay was getting ice for the big shabang and Rye was helping him. By the time I pulled up, they were done and wanted a drink.

We went upstairs and the bartender (who Jay knows pretty well, because he works there) made us each an Absolut and Red Bull. These weren’t the kind that we were drinking in Ireland (those were basically double shots and a full can of RB), these were in pint glasses and there was a ton of vodka in there.

After that we met up with the rest of the guys at my parents’ place. Archie, Fitz, Ed, Dan were already there (Archie gave me a fifth of whiskey) and Skaus, Brownie, Jamie and Byrnie ended up coming before we started out for golf. Also accompanying us were Bob, Uncle Gene and dad. This was going to be quite an adventure.

We had a tee-time at 1:30 at Evergreen in Newburyport, and the course looked beat to crap … which is not a big deal since we all pretty much suck. Ryan was the only one that didn’t golf, he just drove the cart around slamming into mine and Archie’s ride. I think that I shot a 62, but since I haven’t played since May of last year, I’m not too sad about that. And to be truthful, by the time the fourth hole came around, I was hitting longer and straighter.

We pounded some beers on the course and by about 3:30 we were on our way back to my folks. That’s when the drinking began, Jay did a hell of a job getting beers and food and by the time we got started with Wiffle ball, Roy showed up. Like usual, Wiffle ball was a lot of fun. We had sort of a round-robin tournament where everyone played.

But the playing isn’t the fun part, it’s the drinking and razzing the other guy that’s the good time. Telling Ryan or Jay that I own them after I strike one of them out, or them pointing and grandstanding after they hit a dinger … that’s what it’s all about. It was like being in college again. We had our brews, burgers and Wiffle ball. I think that everyone really enjoyed themselves.

At about 8, the limo showed up. We loaded a cooler in the back (Jay bought about 200 beers) and all 11 of us jammed in to the back (Andrew showed up around 6, which was really cool of him) and we made our way to Portsmouth. The first place that we stopped off was the Red Hook Brewery. I had never been there before, so it was cool to finally see what the place was like. Also, their beer isn’t too bad.

The only that sort of sucked is that was dead, so I nabbed a pint glass (BTW, I have no idea where it is now) and we headed to the Gas Light in downtown Portsmouth. This is my New Hampshire Waterloo.

It all started out pretty good, we made our way in, there was a cover band that was that bad and I ordered a beer. Then Brownie got me a shot of tequila. Here’s an aside that I don’t think too many people know, I can’t do hard alcohol any more, the old body just can’t take it, but if I do imbibe the hard stuff it’s usually scotch of vodka. There are three kinds of hard alcohol that ruins me: tequila, Jaeggermeister and Jameson. Please keep that in mind.

Then Jay and I started to walk around and we met these two chicks, one wasn’t too bad looking, the other was beat. When Jay and I are out, we start lying to girls just to do it. When we were in Cancun a few years ago, we had a bit where we’d tell chicks that I’d won the trip on the Price is Right. We play off each other very well. Saturday night, Jay and I were in the business of real estate. What did we do in real estate? “We speculate on a property, we buy it and then turn around and make a sale. We’re both very rich.”

The uglier one said I looked like Carson Daly (which I haven’t in a long time), but then they started to get annoying so we left. Byrnie grabbed me and bought me a shot, it had Jaeggermeister and Malibu rum. That’s two shots and they each had my liquid kryptonite.

After that we sort of hung around and I could tell I was getting drunker. As the night progressed Brownie grabbed me and told me I had to go see someone. It was Jesse Welch and his sister Vanessa. I haven’t seen Jesse in about five years, we were really close in high school but some stuff happened afterwards that split my group of friends up. The last time I saw Vanessa was on a plane flight to Vegas.

It was surreal. We started chatting and going on about old times and that’s when I lose track of what exactly happened next. I spoke to Skaus this morning and he said that I had two more shots, a kamikaze and a shot of Jameson (strike three). I guess I made it back to the limo and passed out. Before my face hit the seat I noticed that Jay was next to me, which was a good thing because I started puking my guts out. Luckily he heard me gurgling and was able to get my head out the door. No damage done.

Jay, being the great brother that he is, got the driver to take me back to Amesbury and put me to bed at about 11:30 or so. Then he drove back to the bar, picked up the rest of the guys and they partied into the night while I was passed out. I was bummed that I didn’t stay out later, but at the same time I was all done.

And there were a lot of shenanigans, Ryan wrestled Byrnie and got his ass kicked, then he went for Brownie and they destroyed Jay’s computer desk. Ed, Fitz, Skaus and Dan went home, but everyone else partied like they were in college, which was great to hear.

Another good thing to hear is that I don’t have any kidney stones. I went for my tests on Friday and according to initial reports, I’m free and clear.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

This meta-entry is going to be lengthy

Holy crap, two entries within a week? Are you serious? Wow, I'm on an unbelieveable pace!

Despite the sarcasm, yes, you're getting another Blog entry and this is going to be interesting because on Saturday I am being taken out for my bachelor party. On Sunday, I plan to write with a hangover, so you get a before and after effect.

So, aside from some late-night Tuesday entries, where the hell have I been? I'll tell you what, I've been busy. Very busy. The last three months have been about the busiest of my life, not only has work amped up (I have about 15 conferences that I'm trying to get ready for, including two super conferneces being held at the same time) but I've had a ton of school work, the comic strip thing and the wedding. Aside from going to the gym, that is literally all I've been doing with myself.

I just finished up an Adobe Illustrator class and I had a great time with that. The teacher was awesome, a real nice guy who taught us an awful lot. He and I spoke a bit after class and he told me that I have a lot of talent, which made me feel great. I wish I could upload some of the stuff that I did in class, but I can't do it from Amesbury (that's where I am right now) and the version of Illustrator I have at home is about four years too old.

The one thing about that class is that we got tons and tons of homework. For example, this past week, I had about 4-5 hours worth of school work to do. And even though I like what I'm doing, it was still sort of hard to sit in on a Sunday afternoon and work for three hours rather than being outside enjoying myself. That's the way it goes though.

Aside from being waist-deep in work during the last couple of weeks I did get to see a Sox game. My boss took me and a few other coworkers to see the Sox play the Royals in Matt Clement's first start since getting beaned in the head. Despite spotting the Royals a four run lead, the Sox stormed back to crush them. As of last night, Kansas City has lost 18 games in a row.

They're nearing Oriole teritory. You remember the 1988 Orioles, began the year 0-21, got Cal Ripken Sr. fired, landed Billy Ripken on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was quite a streak.

The cool thing about going to the game was that it was on a Thursday afternoon so we got to play hookey and we saw the contest from the roof box seats. Last time I was there was a 1990 game against the Yanks where Mike Greenwell hit an inside the park grand slam and the Sox won 15-1. I can't believe I can remember crap like that, but when I was in college I could barely remember my name.

So why am I in Amesbury? Simple, I am going to the hospital tomorrow for some kidney stone test and I was supposed to go to visit a doctor tonight. The latter story is a better story, so I'll tell that one first.

Faithful readers of 19Thoughts may remember that around this time last year, it was thought that I might have Grave's disease. This infects the thyroid and while it isn't fatal, it can still mess you up. In December I visited the specialist, Dr. Karbowski (I think that's how you spell his name) and he did some tests. The tests came back negative and he said that it looked as if I was in the clear, but he wanted to make sure and wondered if I could see him in June.

I said no problem and made an appointment. By the time June came, I forgot all about it and rescheduled for today. Yesterday Dr. K's secretary called and told me that I needed a referral from my primary care physician Dr. Traister. So I called his office up, but they wouldn't give me the referral because I haven't seen Traister in about a year. "That's just our policy," the receptionist said.

So I had to go to Dr. Traister's office, get a physical or something (chances are good that they would've taken my blood pressure, weighed me and told me I was good), in order to talk to Dr. K. Of course this was not going to happen in a day's time, so I would've had to cancel Dr. K's appointment for tomorrow, make an appointment with Traister, get my blood retaken, then make a new Dr. K appointment just so he can tell me I'm ok.

Does that make sense to anyone? It didn't to me either, so I told the receptionist that the policy "sucks" and hung up on her. Dr. K's receptionist was cooler and she told me that Dr. K would call me with the results of my tests today. He did and I'm looking fine as far as the Graves' disease is concerned.

Now tomorrow, I have to go to nuclear medicine and get an IVP which is an IV that fills my kidney with dye and then they are going to take a bunch of x-rays. They say that this procedure lasts for about an hour, but we'll see. I was really bummed out that I have to go to this, but if it's just for an hour, it won't be so bad.

Aside from those hospital misadventures, not much has been going on. I have been doing a lot of reading and have finished two books in the last few weeks. I'll tell you about them right now.

Not only was this one of, if not THE, best sports biographies I've ever read, it could be one of the best overall books I've ever read. From start to finish, I was completely captivated by this book.

Written by Leigh Montville, this tells the story of Ted Williams (no shit) from humble beginning to tragic end. And the best part is that it's not just about baseball. The book is about 500 pages or so and at around 220, Montville ends Ted's playing career. I remember thinking to myself, well, this is going to get slow. But it didn't. The book got better and better and better.

Montville is a hell of a journalist and really knows how to spin a tale. And the best part is that he portrayed Williams as he was, warts and all. Everyone knows what a great ball player he was, what a terrific fighter pilot and fisherman he is, but most people don't know that he's a crappy father and a lousy husband. But that's who he was, that's why Ted Williams was Ted Williams.

He was the uber-every man. What he did well he did better than anyone else and what he sucked at, he sucked really bad. He was a man of extremes and Montville plumbs those extremes with great care. It seemed that he spoke to everyone who ever said a word to Williams.

When I met him a few months ago at that book signing in Brookline, I asked him about this book and he told me that originally this was going to be a 100,000 word book that would take a year to research. In actuality it became a 200,000 word book that took two years to research. He said that Williams is just that fascinating of a person.

And I agree.

While Joe DiMaggio got a lot of ink for being such a mysterious and alluring man, which is why people found him so "interesting", Ted is a far better character, a far more complex man to read about. And while he might not have been the greatest family man, he seems like he was the greatest friend anyone could ever have. Loyal to a fault (which tripped him up in later years) Ted never forgot a kind word and usually paid everyone back ten-fold.

After reading this book, it is apparent to me that Ted Williams led one of the greatest American lives of the last 100 years.

I'm not sure if you remember the book review I wrote a few weeks ago about Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and how I tried reading this book about ten years ago and I couldn't do it.

"A Clockwork Orange" was another book that I just couldn't get into when I first bought it eight or nine years ago. I have no idea why I couldn't read these books, yes they're written differently and it takes a bit more concentration to get through them, but it wasn't as if they were written in Mandarin Chinese. But there they were on my bookshelf, mocking me ... ha, ha you're too dumb to read us. Well, I read both of them and I have to say I'm glad. I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Clockwork is written in a sort of half English half-cockney/Eastern European slang language. It takes a chapter or two to really get into the language, but once that happens, the book is fantastic.

The book is just like the movie, the main character's name is Alexander and he is a 15-year-old psychopath that enjoys beating the hell out of people, running stuff over and raping chicks. That is what this dude does every single night. One night he gets busted doing this and is sent to prison. While in prison, he gets an offer to shorten his 15-year sentence to two weeks if he undergoes an experiment.

He figures he'll skate, so he agrees. The problem is that he get brainwashed into relinquishing any aggressive forms of behavior. Whenever he wants to practice some of the old in and out (rape) or ultraviolence (kicking the crap out of people) he gets violently ill. While this may sound like a good idea, it turns out it's made him harmless like a kitten, so he gets his ass kicked by a conga line of people that he screwed over in his past life and there's nothing he can do about it.

Burgess brings up a lot of interesting philosophical points in this book, namely: the subject of free will and free choice, being mindlessly good is not necessarily a good thing, a person does need some sort of mean streak to live in the real world and to what extremes should the government go to "rehabilitate" criminals. Is taking away their right to freedom of thought worse than their original crimes?

And like I said earlier, with the hodgepodge of the language it may be hard to follow so I suggest watching the movie first. Even though Burgess hated it, this is one of my all-time favorites.

So that's it for now, see you on Sunday ... I hope.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fanning the Comic Flames

Sort of a double entendre there in that title. Actually, not really, well sort of ... in this comic strip Eddie is wearing an Atlanta Flames shirt (coincidently, I have one just like it) and he's wasted and singing the Doors (which, also coincidently, I used to do ... never got beat up for it though, but I bet I almost did).

Atlanta Flames? The Doors? Eddie? What the hell are you talking about? If you have no idea what the heck I'm talking about, go to this link and everything will be as clear as an unmuddied lake www.room19comics.com. BTW, a million bonus points if you can guess where that line about the unmuddied lake came from. Give up? Good old Alexander DeLarge said it in "A Clockwork Orange" ... both in the book and the movie.

We have a subtle change in the format this week, if you notice there are now gutters between panels. This was suggested by a SoSH member, Shoeless Joe. I doubt it was the real Shoeless Joe as he was completely illiterate and dead before the first computer came out, but this Joe knows his stuff. He's an illustrator who is working on his first graphic novel. Check it out here: http://www.donmacdonald.com/

Back to my stuff, I think that the first panel turned out pretty well. It's very plain, sets up the rest of the strip. The thing that makes me laugh about it is the look of naive joy on Eddie's face as he's telling Kurt his idea. With the way Kurt's eyes are being rolled to the back of his head, you can tell that he isn't buying the whole life of the party line.

We've all been there before, haven't we? We're telling a friend or family member our idea of grandeur and they're just looking at you like, "You've got to be kidding me" , but they're too polite to say anything. I think it happens more when you're in high school and college and you're still trying to figure out what makes you tick, but every now and again, it occurs.

In the second panel, Eddie is obviously hammered. You can tell this by the cliched lampshade and the fact that he has two beers in his hand. Originally, I wanted to draw Eddie standing on a couch and have the big burly bouncer guy, just be a pissed off party-goer, but that didn't have the same oomph behind it. Plus, Eddie getting his ass kicked is another example of how reality is far different from preconceptions.

I wrote/drew about this in the second strip found here: http://www.room19comics.com/comic_strip2.htm. BTW, how meta is that?

In the final panel, Eddie is given a sobering (no pun) slap of reality. He's hung over and beaten up. And since Kurt is his best buddy, he's got to twist the knife a little bit. The one thing that I like is that they're back to where they started, Kurt is the same, while Eddie is a bit worse for the wear, but learned a valuable lesson.

So, here's the thing, I've been told that some people don't like the explanation of each strip. I do like it, but if enough people complain, I guess that I'll stop. And it's been a long time since I've written about anything besides the strip. Thursday, that's all going to change. I have a ton of stuff to write: two book reviews, a Sox game review, and just a bunch of other crap. Also, I am going to be on a new Blog service, which I will explain a bit more about on Thursday.

The only thing that I really know about it is that it's Canadian. Expect a lot of "aboots", hockey talk and more manners.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hey! A Puke Joke!

You can't go wrong with the word "puke" ... that's the thing that made George Costanza laugh. And making George Costanza laugh ain't easy.

I was ambivalent about this strip when I started. I thought that the written idea was ok, but I wasn't sure how I was going to draw it. There are a few bumps in the artistic narrative, but overall I think that I pulled it off.

If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, well you just ain't paying attention. Go to www.room19comics.com and soon you'll be knee-deep in laughter.

I think that three of the panels work very well beginning with the first one. Personally, I like strips that begin with nothing ... nothing said, nothing happening in terms of action. Some people might say that is a waste of space, the comic strip is a very finite medium, you have maybe three or four panels to say what you have to say, so you shouldn't throw your real estate away. Normally, I agree with this assessment, but I think that Kurt standing there like it's a regular day sets up the rest of the strip.

The second panel is not very good. Kurt does not have a lot of facial expressions and the one that I was trying to convey (surprise) is not portrayed well here. I wanted to have his eyes bug out of his head, but no matter how I tried, it just wasn't working out. This was the best that I could do. Also, the placement of Kurt is a complete waste of space. There should've been something else in the panel.

As bad as the second panel is, the third panel is just as good. I like Eddie's Dr. Seuss hat, when I penciled it in, it looked sort of crappy, but after some nice pen work (yes, my arm hurts from patting myself on the back) it really came out well. And check out Kurt, I was very pleased with the way I was able to draw his hand going through his hair. I think that this made up for that really crummy second panel.

Also, Eddie is wearing Zubaz pants. Here's the thing, when you're trying to write (or draw) something funny, exaggeration is always key. Do I really think that someone would keep, much less wear, a t-shirt from a 1993 concert or pants from the same era? Probably not. But, I think that it looks pretty good and conveys the horror that is laundry day.

The fourth panel is pretty basic. You get two punchlines actually, so there you go.

Let me ask you a question, does the Blog entry work with the strip? I think that it does as it a. lets me work through some stuff as to why I did certain things and b. it allows you to ... I'm not sure what it allows you to do, but it's a catharsis for me. So unless I hear otherwise, I'm keeping it.

I'm going to try and write a Blog entry some time this week, but I'm not promising anything. Check back early and often.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ironic and some new Room 19 stuff

Thanks for clicking here again. As you can see, Eddie Verde and his buddies have taken a short vacation. They'll be back next week, but I wanted to interrupt with a strip that I'm going to do from time to time called "Random Memories".

I got the idea for this week's strip from my favorite part of the "Zippy the Pinhead" comic. Basically, Griffey (the cartoonist and writer) takes a break from the normal strange narrative and tells a story from his past. Unlike his normal stuff; this type of strip usually has a beginning, an ending and a linear point to the story.

If you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, check out my strip here: www.room19comics.com

Not that my main characters follow the absurdist point of view of everyone's favorite Pinhead, I thought that this was a humorous story that wouldn't have the same force if done in today's day and time. Aside from the graffiti scrawl on the board of Holden Caulfield equaling Ross Gellar (the whiney character from Friends), everything about this strip is 100% true.

The professor responsible for the inspiration of this strip was a nice lady (I'm not going to tell you her name and I can't remember the class) but she always tried a bit too hard to "connect" with her students. Like I said in the strip, she had a teenage daughter who either was very, very uncool or pretended to be uncool so that her mother thought that she was a good kid. I couldn't figure it out.

One day, she busted out that nugget about Alanis Morissette and I just about fell off of my chair. For one thing, by the time she said this, Alanis was pretty much played out. It had been seven months since her first song ("You Oughta Know") came out and the backlash was beginning. The first wave are the guys who are sick of hearing drunk sorority chicks singing wailing of jilted lovers through Alanis.

Secondly, the "Ironic" song was being pushed on so many different media, that it was impossible not to hear it. Where ever you were that spring, within 10 minutes you heard that song. Even ardent Alanis supporters had reached their breaking point. So, it was really no surprise that someone as out of touch with popular culture, like my professor, would try to get in good with her students by referencing Ms. Morissette.

Much like when your parents tried to use slang, it went over like a fart in church. Compound that with the fact that she actually liked the lyrics of the song, and you have the makings of a full-fledged meltdown. Here's the thing, I've thought a lot about this song and while most of the lyrics have nothing to do with irony, I wonder if Morissette was being ironic about singing a song about irony that actually had no irony in it. If so, than about 95% of the world missed the point (including my professor).

On the day she said this, I remember saying to my friends as we left, "Can you believe this crap? We pay her to teach us and she doesn't know the first thing about irony." After that, she completely lost the class. No one took her seriously. If she couldn't tell the difference between what's ironic and what's not ironic, how could she possibly explain the hidden intricacies of a text? Her comments on papers and tests were treated as if they were made by a third grader and her classroom comments were also blown off.

Basically the last month of the semester was a complete joke because of this one statement.

As I grew older, I've thought a lot about that day. I have no ill will for Alanis Morissette, when you find out that her first big hit was about Uncle Joey (Dave Coullier) from "Full House", the line "will she go down on you in a theater" is absolutely priceless. Plus, she did a pretty good job on an episode "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and Kevin Smith said she was cool on the set of "Dogma". Plus, since Alanis-mania, she has pretty much settled into the background of pop culture. Kind of hard to hate someone that isn't in the public eye.

As for my professor, like I said before I can't even remember the name of the course, but I do remember a part of her lecture. At least that's something.

BTW, for all you "Arrested Development" fans out there, FOX is running two-hour marathons for the next couple of Fridays. Then it settles into it's new night and time on Monday, September 19 with the season premiere. Just watch it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Things that go with kidneys?

Kidney beans? Check. A kidney-shaped pool? Ok. Kidney stones? Bad idea. Very bad idea.

Want to know why I think that they're a bad idea? Because I passed one on Saturday night. And it hurt. A lot. I am talking major league pain here. When my buddy Nick got one about a month or so ago, I thought it was sort of humorous (BTW, when I told him about mine he laughed his ass off too) because I thought it was something only old people get or dudes who were wound up way too tight.

Apparently all sorts of people get them. Saturday was supposed to be a kick-ass day, Aly was hanging with her friends and I was going out with Ryan, Tim and Andrew to meet a bunch of SoSHers. Every year a group of people get together, toss a few back and go to a Sox game. I was there to toss a few back and maybe find my way into the Red Sox game.

Around 2:30 it was time to take a shower, but first I had to take a leak. It was bloody. This has always been one of my great fears and I was sort of interested in what my reaction was going to be should the day ever occur. I pretty much was shocked and said, "This doesn't look quite right."

I told Aly and then waited until the next time I had to pee before I called the doctor. Next time I went, it was there again. So off to the telephone I went. The doctor was at a pool party and said that if I do it again, to get up to Anna Jacques and give them a urine sample. Of course, it happened again, so we went to Newburyport.

Good bye SoSH, good bye Aly's friends, good bye drinking. When we got there, Aly and I pretty much figured that I had a urine infection and that was that. I peed in the cup and went to visit my folks. We had a little dinner on the deck and after that I started to get a really searing pain in my right side.

My parents and Aly thought that I was dying or something, so we got into the car and went back to the hospital. Normally, it takes maybe 10 minutes to get to Anna Jacques from my parents' place, but it seemed like it took six hours. When we finally got there they hustled me into the emergency room where I was convulsing a bit and alternating between the sweats and freezing my ass off.

They got me hooked up to an IV where they gave me some fluids and pain killers. I started to feel much better after that. And then it was pretty much over. I sat in the bed for about three hours; got blood taken from me, spoke with a doctor and that was pretty much it.

I apparently passed the stone on the deck because passing the stone doesn't mean passing it out of your body. It means going from your kidney to your bladder. That's where it hurts the most. The doctor told me to call a urologist on Monday and then he sent me home.

Aly and I stayed at my parents' for the night and we were out of there around noon on Sunday. Aside from a bottle of percocets, none of which I've taken, not much has changed. Today, I took Aly to work and when I came home I called the urologist to make an appointment. I mistakenly thought that a passed stone would bump me to the head of the line, but you have to be dying to see this guy.

His office told me I couldn't see him until August 10. That rots because while I'm not in intense pain or anything, my side is a little sore and I wouldn't be surprised if I passed another stone. So, I've been sitting around the house all day bored out of my cotton-picking mind.

I finished my homework. I paid some bills. I watched TV. I read the paper. I tried to nap. I found the last hotel for our honeymoon. I'm writing this Blog and after this I'm going to upload my strip for tomorrow. I never thought that I'd say this, but I'm fucking bored of being at home. Work can't come soon enough.

As bad as my Saturday was, it can't compare to my uncle's Sunday. Last night, my aunt Rita died. She was the last of the old school Pettorutos and will be missed. She hasn't been doing well for a long time (at least 10 years) and it was always sort of a running conversation whether she'd make it to the next big holiday. But every year she was there at our house or Uncle Bud's.

By the end of her time, she really didn't know what was going on and had sunk into a pretty deep state of dementia. I heard from my mom, that she was talking to people who have been dead for decades and it wasn't a pretty site. This, of course, is a huge shame as not only was she the matriach of my family, but she was a leading business woman in the Lawrence for many years.

Rita stood by my uncle Al (her brother) when he ran and ultimately won a state rep's seat and she really put her parents' store on the map with a lot of broad ideas that were considered revolutionary in her day. She always had time for Jason and I and I'm going to miss her very much. But, to be honest with you, even though she physically left us yesterday, she had been gone for a long time.