Monday, July 31, 2006

Mariner to Yankee

As the Onion’s Jim Anchower once said, “I know it’s been a long time since I’ve rapped to you, but I’ve been more busy than a one-armed wall paper hanger.” Ok, maybe he didn’t say it quite like that, but the fact is, I haven’t updated this Blog in about seven weeks.

Things have happened since then.

What things you may ask? Big things I will answer. For example, I am on a flight from Seattle to New York City right now, probably over Montana or one of the Dakotas. There are a million junior high European kids on this flight and each and every one of them suck. They’re running around, yelling, won’t get the fuck out of the aisles. You know, stupid shit like that. Remind me that if I ever have a kid that’s about to hit that age, to shove him in a closet until he turns 24 or so.

Never was a big fan of being that age or kids of that age. They all suck, doesn’t matter if they’re American, European or Venutian. Just a shitty age all around.

Getting back to PG, that’s program and it’s Eazy – Dre is back, new jack sounds hollow. Shit, sorry about that … slipped into an NWA trance there. Anyhow, Seattle is an interesting little town. The one thing that stuck me was how clean it is; lots of trees, not a lot of litter, very eco-friendly and green. I guess that the biases are true. I landed on Monday at about 1:00 and began to explore the city, which by the way is very walkable.

First stop was the Space Needle. Glad I went but it is overrated as hell. I paid $15 to go ride an elevator and walk around. The view was spectacular, and I’m glad I saw it because I was in Seattle and that’s what you have to do when in that city. Then my coworker Mark and I hit the Pike Open Market. I think that’s what it’s called, it’s the place where they throw fish around. Again, glad I saw it, though I’ll probably never go back.

Monday night we caught the Mariners and Joel Pineraro take on the Toronto Blue Jays and Casey Jansen. The M’s won in a rather forgettable game. Safeco Field is awesome though, probably the best stadium that I’ve ever been to. The sight lines were awesome, it doesn’t look like that there is a bad seat in the house with plenty of elbow room. They had concession stands every 20 feet and of course, beer vendors. That was awesome.

To my surprise the Blue Jays travel well as there were a lot of Toronto fans in the crowd, including one woman wearing a Pat Borders jersey. Not to steal Seinfeld’s riffs, but what is the deal with Pat Borders? When I saw the BJs play in 1994 at the Sky Dome there were a bunch of chicks who screamed for Borders every time he was up, calling him “gorgeous”.

Speaking of BJs, there were these three really hot Blue Jay fans, all dressed alike, that made the trek to support their team and they were constantly holding up a sign proclaiming their love of BJs. There’s just something about a bunch of hot chicks, dressed alike (hair in pig tails, black hats, skirts and tank tops) double fisting and screaming that gets the old heart pumping. Not sure what it is though.

The following day I had to work, but after that I made the pilgrimage to Ebbets Field Flannels. The store is awesome and has been a place that I’ve wanted to see since I bought my first throw back Seattle Bombers football shirt from them in the late 90s. I ended up chatting with the workers and bought myself a cool San Francisco Seals long sleeve jersey.

Following that, I walked a bit more around the city, stopping into a local burger joint called Turf. Great food, just an awesome burger … probably the best I’ve had in years. And they had crinkle cut fries, always a bonus no matter where you are. The best part? The cost was a steal, $5.50 for the entire meal (including drink). If you’re in Seattle and don’t mind a greasy spoon dive, check this place out, I believe it’s on the corner of Second Street and Pike.

As I left Seattle the one thing that stayed with me is the number of homeless people that live in the city. I remember once reading that Seattle and Portland have the highest number of homeless people in the country, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount fo transients that I encountered. They weren’t mean or pushy, but there is a ton of them, yet they mostly keep to themselves. I wonder if this is a problem for civic leaders?

Aside from traveling to exotic cities like Seattle, I’ve been really busy. About two weeks ago, Aly and I made the leap and bought a puppy. It’s party lab, part beagle and his name is Dave. Naturally, he’s named after former Red Sox centerfielder Dave Henderson, whom I’ve always wanted to honor for being responsible for my becoming a baseball fan and in particular a Boston Red Sox fan.

It was his homer in the bottom of Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series against the Angels that got me to realize that a baseball game is never over until the last pitch is thrown. Sounds like a cliché, right? It’s true. And if you don’t believe check out the DVD set of the 2004 ALCS.

Anyway, Dave the dog is doing pretty well. He’s four months old, so he’s still a bit skittish about a lot of things. Loud noises make him jump, he gets freaked when we go for walks on Beacon Street and he still pees in the house. Gradually, he is getting better and becoming more acclimated to his new life. The one problem is that he was originally thought to have kennel cough, but it is becoming apparent that he may have pneumonia.

Aly spoke to the shelter that we got him from, Sterling Rescue, and they agreed to check him out for free. I hope that everything goes well for him, because these coughing fits that he has are killers. Update: I am writing this on the way home from New York now (the batteries on the computer died yesterday) turns out that Dave has pneumonia. He’s in the hospital now and will be there for a few days. Totally sucks.

The New York leg of this trip was uneventful, stayed at a cool hotel, the Marriot Marquis, and now I’m my way home. Aside from that, not much is going on … Jay is considering moving to Hawai’i and leaves in a few weeks. Turns out his buddy runs a restaurant on the island and needs a bartender. He asked Jay to come out, and he’ll pay his airfare, his expenses and will allow him to keep any money he makes for a month. So, that’s going to be awesome for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stayed out there for a while. I think that this is going to be really good for him.

And if he stays out long enough, Aly and I will have a place to stay.

Speaking of places to stay, Aly and I went to Atlanta at the beginning of the month to visit John and his family. We didn’t do a hell of a lot, but that was cool. About the only thing that we did was go to Distant Replays where I picked up a 1970 Baltimore Oriole cap and an old school Red Sox t-shirt. We also went to the Georgia Aquarium. Very cool, they had four baby Beluga whales which looked absolutely awesome.

The one weird thing occurred the first night Aly and I were there, we were sleeping in Samantha’s room and I woke up around 4 am. I looked over to my right and I saw what looked like a man standing over the crib, about two feet from my bed. I thought that it was Aly’s dad saying good bye to the baby (they were leaving early that morning) but he said he didn’t go in the room.

The last night we were there, Aly swears that she heard the pitter pattering of kids’ feet in Joey’s room at around 3 am. I’m not sure if it was really anything, but the whole situation was a bit strange. As Ed Saunders would say OO-EEE-OO.

Aside from globetrotting, ghostbusting and adopting dogs the rest of the time has been pretty slow. I threw Aly a surprise party in June and took Kyle to the Sox-Mets game (Sox won).

You may have noticed that I haven’t updated the comic strip in a bit, the reason is because I’m beginning to work on redesigning the site. When will it be done? I’m not sure, I’d like to be finished by September. After that I’m giving the comics thing one more great try and then see where I am. Hopefully things will take off, I have to work hard though.

Ok. Talk to you soon, we’re landing now.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Comics, Books, Boston and St. Louis

It’s been a busy week and I am higher than a kite right now. Drugs? Nope. Alcohol? Nada. I’m typing this on a plane. Yes. An aeroplane on my way back to Boston from St. Louis. I am getting bored of the book that I am reading (more on that in a few paragraphs) so I decided to bust out the old computer and start banging away at the keyboard.

As you have probably noticed, there is no new comic strip this weekend. There probably won’t be for a few weeks, I’ve decided to do a few things with the strip. One, I am crafting a new web site for Room 19 Comics. It’s going to be much better, with a more sophisticated look and feel. The same elements will be there: the strips, the Blog, but I want it to reflect a more professional look. Also, during the next few weeks I am going to try and contact some web artists and “regular” comic artists and have them take a look at my strip and give me some feedback.

This is definitely going to be a bit of a gamble as I’m sure some will say that it flat-out sucks. Dealing with criticism on my creative ideas has never been my forte, but I’m just going to have to deal with it and use it in order to get better. So that’s where I am with that.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been flying through books, I have a few reviews that you may or may not enjoy, but if you want to skip them, be my guest. Following the book reviews, I have some thoughts on St. Louis and the new Busch Stadium.

The first book I read, actually reread, was “The Family” by Ed Sanders. This was a terrifically researched book on the Manson family and their crimes. Compared to Sanders Vincent Bugliosi, he wrote the more popular “Helter Skelter”, was a complete pussy. Why was Sanders such a bad ass? While doing research for the book, he actually hung out with members of the family that weren’t imprisoned. And some of them, like Sandra Good or Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme or Steve “Scramblehead/Clem” Grogan were genuine psychopaths.

Yet he was there at the ranch and actually spent an entire night in the desert with them. And with that, he has a ton more evidence than Bugliosi could ever dream of. He traces the Family’s rise to power in the late 60s in San Francisco and how Manson would tour the California coast line in a black bus with four of his witches (three of whom would eventually be sent to jail). Sanders also puts forth the theory that Manson was actually part of a bigger Satanic cult that had ties to Hollywood.

He also suggests that while the murders at the Tate and LaBianca households may have looked random, there may have been something more calculating going on underneath. Sanders never explicitly says it, but he broadly hints that there may have been a higher power telling Manson that the people at Cielo Road and the LaBianca house needed to be wiped off the planet.

For anyone interested in this case, and it seems that there are more and more people whom get into this mystery everyday, this is THE book to read. “Helter Skelter” is Manson101, this tome is a more advanced course.

The second book I buzzed through in the last month was a terrific baseball book written by one of my favorite baseball writers, Rob Neyer. It is entitled “Baseball’s Biggest Bloopers” and goes through a host of wrong doings and flat-out bad ideas of the last 100 years.

The thing that I enjoyed most of all about this was that Neyer just didn’t take the conventional roads to reach his point, he looked at the trade or in-game move from a bunch of different angles. For example, many people have ripped the Cincinnati Reds for trading Frank Robinson for (essentially) Milt Papas.

Neyer agrees that it was a bad trade (Robinson simply kicked ass, while Papas got hurt and sucked), but he argues that a. when the trade was made many thought that the Reds were getting the better of the deal (Papas had a lot of upside and F. Robby was thought to be on the downside of his career) and b. even with Frank Robinson, the Reds wouldn’t had done much better than they did. Perhaps they may have one an extra division title, but by the time the 70s began they were beginning their dominance and Robinson wouldn’t have helped much.

There is a lot of stuff about the Red Sox in this book, including the 86 World Series where Neyer claims that McNamara lost game six not with keeping Buckner out for the tenth inning, but because he didn’t pinch hit for him in the eighth with lefty Jesse Orosco on the mound. He says that Don Baylor should’ve been brought in as a pinch hitter because Buckner was ludicrously bad against lefties and Orosco was exceptionally good that year. Leaving Buckner to bat against Orosco was an insanely dumb nonmove, Neyer argues. And I happen to agree with him.

Going all the way through the 2003 playoffs, we even get essays on the Boston and Chicago collapses. Reading this book in the aftermath of the 2004 season, is a lot easier to take had the Sox lost to the Cards or were swept by the Yanks. I highly recommend this book.

Speaking of the Sox, quick booky-book intermission here, Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald argues that they’re essentially paper champions this year. He said that they haven’t beaten anyone of substance (I’m not too sure about that) and aren’t as good as the 2004 edition. I can’t say that I don’t agree with him. I think he goes a bit too far in saying that the Sox haven’t beaten anyone, they just took two of three from the AL leading Detroit Tigers (how weird is it to write that by the way?), though they did get their asses handed to them by the Yankees (who tied the season series at 4-4) last night.

Reactionary column after a bad lost? No doubt. But there is a kernel of truth to it. Schilling has been dominant for most of his starts. Beckett is a streaky bastard who looks like Roger Clemens one start and Matt Clement the next. Speaking of which, the less said about Clement the better. Two weeks ago, he lost the Sox fandom forever by letting the Yankees and the Big Ugly get off the mat after the Sox had their proverbial cleats on their throats. Will he ever get his ship righted in Boston? Doubtful.

Wakefield also has been inconsistent as hell, but he’s a knuckleballer. You can’t expect much from him and David Wells makes a start every month, which leads to fifth starters like Lenny DiNardo and David Pauley.

The bullpen has started to round into form with Jonathan Papelbon leading the way with a 0.33 ERA (ONE earned run) and 20 straight saves. This kid is simply lights fucking out awesome. Keith Foulke is back as a decent seventh or eighth inning guy and Mike Timlin is already tired. Julian Taverez and Rudy Seanez have been ok, while guys like Manny Delcarmen and Jermain VanBuren haven’t done too badly.

We’ve been spoiled the last three years with offensive juggernauts and you knew that eventually things were going to dip a bit sooner or later. Well, later has come as the hitting hasn’t been quite the same. This can be blamed on a number of things including the six-week injury of offensive sparkplug Coco Crisp. With Crisp out, Kevin Youkilis had to take an unfamiliar role as the leadoff man and he was awesome. That wasn’t the problem, the problem was if you take out one of your good players (Crisp) and replace him with a guy that made your last third of the lineup insanely strong (Youkilis) you obviously weaken the last part of your lineup.

It doesn’t matter if Alex Cora or Alex Gonzalez is playing short, one of them isn’t going to hit. Add the centerfield offensive black hole of Willie Harris (who got a few starts because of the Wily Mo Pena injury) and the at bats that Doug Mirabelli gets when he catches Wakefield and while you aren’t Kansas City Royals bad, but you’re close. And seriously, can we stop the Mirabelli hero worship, please? The guy was completely washed up last year and he’s more so now. And watching him catch Wakefield, while he’s probably not as bad as Josh Bard (who is DESTROYING the ball in San Diego), he’s not exactly Johnny Bench either. BTW, the less said about Jason Varitek’s “hitting” the better, he looks as if he’s swinging his September lumber in May. Not a good sign.

As for the good, after a slow start Mark Loretta is finally making people forget about Tony Graffinino (yes, seriously). And while Ortiz isn’t hitting for a high average, he’s still knocking in runners and hitting dingers. Manny has been a bit inconsistent (for him), but is showing signs of turning it around. I don’t think that northeast Aprils and Mays are kind to him, BTW. Trot has been ok, but with Pena’s injuries, he’s going to have to face a lot of lefties now … not exactly his strong suit. However Gabe Kapler is on the mend and should be back with four weeks, which means we can say good bye to Dustin (Less is ) Mohr. Sorry for the lame Bermanism, but you’re with me leather.

The biggest surprise, and honestly from all reports it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, goes to Mike Lowell. This guy is simply scorching the ball. He’s in the top ten in average, last time I checked he’s leading the league in doubles and making a run at Earl Webb’s record. From everything I’ve read he’s one of the hardest workers on team taking extra fielding and hitting practice, working hard and lets his play do the talking. After his testicular cancer operation a few years ago, a great year by him in one of the best baseball cities in America, it is just a great story.

Another terrific story, and one that we’re not used to around here, has been the sparkling play of the Sox defense, particularly the infield. Youkilis has taken to firstbase like a young Keith Hernandez (hyperbole? Perhaps), Loretta is solid, Gonzalez may hit like shit, but he fields like no one I’ve ever seen and Lowell makes a bunch of tremendous plays too. It’s been a lot of fun watching them in the field.

Back to the books, the third book that I’ve completed was Chuck Klosterman’s “Killing Yourself to Live”. I’ve been wanting to read this since I went on my Klosterman kick back in October, but I was too cheap to buy it in hardcover. About a week ago I saw it in softcover and snapped it up. It’s good, not as good as “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” or “Fargo Rock City”, but it’s still a more than decent read.

Why wasn’t it as good as the other ones? I think it’s a bit too self indulgent for starters. For me, Klosterman’s bread and butter is writing about pop culture and tying it to the everyday occurrences that we all face. In this book he goes on a death trip throughout the United States, stopping at the sites of different rock stars deaths. Great premise. Along the way he waxes about all the girls he’s been involved with. It’s like that Englebert Humperdink-Willie Nelson song if song by the Pixies or Pavement or some other alt band. Is it bad? No. Not in small doses, but it does get sort of boring after the 50th time he brings it up. Yes, I get it, you’ve had a few girlfriends that you still love, quit being a pussy, make a choice and live with it.

I’m probably being too hard on the guy because I genuinely liked the book, he has a lot of interesting views on rock, most of which I share (though his theory that Jim Morrison is the most overrated rocker ever is not one) and he succinctly describes the Led Zeppelin phase of every man perfectly. However, I think that he may have gone a bit overboard with his wistful reminiscing about his past loves. Dude, just go with Lucy Chance, she seems cool and won’t put up with your shit and in the end, that’s really what every guy wants, a challenge.

The last book I read is another that I’ve read before, “Saturday Morning Fever” by Timothy and Kevin Burke. I’m not sure why it took two people to write this, though I can tell because it is a tad schizophrenic. On one hand, it seems that it wants to be a sort of memory book where people from my generation can remember the Saturday morning cartoons that they used to love. On the other hand, it tries to be a bit too scholarly in its defense of the genre. The problem with this take is two-fold: one, I don’t think that Saturday morning TV needed to be defended, most people realize that it was what it was (Frankenberry for the eyes) and two their defense sounds more like a child’s whine. They just didn’t do a good or even competent job of defending why Saturday morning TV was ok for kids.

There wasn’t a lot of first-hand “evidence” from experts, must testimonials were from anonymous newsgroup postings and stuff written years ago. One of the Burkes is a music magazine writer and the other is college professor and their styles simply don’t mesh. When they try to be scholarly, it lacks. When they try to be breezy, it sort of works, and the less said about the humorous sidebars, the better.

The one thing that I have to say is that they completely miss the boat on the “Davey and Goliath” show, calling it either punishment TV or the worst program during the weekend. D&G is not meant to be taken literally, if you watch the show ironically or stoned (like I used to when I was in college), the show is actually very funny and quite good. But, if you’re watching it with any form of sincerity, you’re going to be let down. It’s a lot like “Leave it to Beaver” there is enough funny shit to keep you going if you know where to find it.

Was this a terrible book? No, though the last chapter gives new meaning to the word monotony, and if you have a spare $20, pick it up and you’ll get a pretty good trip down memory lane, but don’t expect to get any real insight or concrete points for your next cartoons-are-evil debate.

This is probably the longest entry I’ve ever written and if you’re still with me, I will send you a dollar. The last thing I wanted to write about is my trip to St. Louis. I was in the Show-Me state for a grand total of 29 hours and it was cool. For one thing, there is something about the women out here, I have no idea what they feed them … but, damn, they better keep doing it. Also, summer comes early here, so that means, there is less clothes in June than in Boston.

I ended up getting tickets to the Red/Cards game last night at the new Busch Stadium. I hate to sound like a certain sportscaster, but why can’t we get parks like this? My friend and I had awesome seats in centerfield and we could see every part of the ballpark. We also walked around a bit and sat in some other seats (behind home plate and in the leftfield bleachers) and it was the same. The place was gorgeous, brand spanking new with the greenest grass I’ve ever seen.

Everything looked like it was brand new (probably because it was) and shiny. The concession stands were awesome offering everything from a barbequed turkey leg to standard hot dogs and pretzels. Two words: beer guys. They have them there and they dispense 16oz Budweiser products. BTW, if you don’t like Bud products, you’re SOL here. And at the beer stands, they give you a 24 oz can of brew for pretty much the same price as the Fenway suds.

And if you have kids, there’s plenty of stuff for them to do too as they have free batting cages, video games and other stuff out in centerfield.

The one thing that completely blew me away was the atmosphere around the park. For one thing, everyone is decked out in red. EVERY ONE. And they are really into every pitch. They’re super nice, but ultra competitive too. I’d go back there any time and I think it really gives Fenway a run for its money in terms of baseball obsession. Ok, I’m about to land and the computer is just about out of batteries.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Meta Flight

If you get that pun, you’re about as big of a comic book geek as I am. One of my favorite books when I was a kid was Alpha Flight, which was about a band of Canadian superheroes, that were put together by their government. Alpha Flight was the varsity, Gamma Flight were the freshman team and Beta Flight was the JV squad. Their arch enemies were Omega Flight.

Anyhow, after promising you last week that I was done with the Meta stuff, it looks as if I did it again. The reason? It was well-received by the folks over at SoSH. An avalanche of support (two posts) came in and said that they wanted more post modern strips. Who am I to give the finger to my only two fans?

This week I decided to rip a story from this week’s headlines about the use of steroids and a certain baseballer who hit his 715, passing the “white guy”. Yes sir, that lovable scamp Barry Bonds had us glued to our televisions, radios, computers and CBs hoping and praying that he’d finally pass the Babe. I don’t think I can recall a time where our nation has been pulled closer together … this is probably what the country would feel like if 9/11, Pearl Harbor and the Christmas of 1984 (the year I got Castle Grayskull and a bunch of He-Man stuff) all happened on the same day.

Poor Byung Yung Kim, he had to be the sacrificial lamb and give up Mr. Lovable’s second place shot. Hey, it sucks for Kim, but awesome for America! Go America! USA! USA! USA! Is BK’s record breaking pitch some sort of Babe Ruth curse? I don’t know, but if rearrange the spelling of his name you get something weird. I’ll let the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughenessy take care of that.

What am I talking about? Feast your eyes on this, jerkstores:

That was a long preamble to what the site is about, my comic strip. This week, I decided that Eddie was going to take steroids and get absolutely huge so he could dominate waffle ball. Notice the size of his arms and head. That’s the tell-tale sign of a roid-freak. At least that’s what I’ve heard on sports radio. In any event, he’s ripped and his shirt is very tight. Plus, he’s wearing American flag pants.

Have you ever been to the gym and noticed the ultra-serious weight lifters look as if they forgot to buy clothes after 1993. Zubaz pants, pants with designs that shouldn’t be on them (like American flags), ripped t-shirts, spaghetti tank tops. I mean, really, what the fuck? Is it that hard to buy a t-shirt or a pair of shorts? And the weird thing is all of these dudes congregate together, so they sort of look normal. It’s when you take one of these freaks out of their natural habitat that they start to look like the morons that they really are.

After Kurt tells Eddie that he sucks, that’s when the Meta madness begins; first with a shot across the bow at me. That bastard called me lazy. Actually, I called myself lazy, because it’s true. I don’t think that I’m ever going to get the “time” I need to get this strip off the ground, so I should probably stop waiting around for it and start making the time I need to get things moving. Quick aside, this weekend Aly’s brother John and his family came up from Atlanta. He’s a writer and was telling me about how he starts correspondences with other writers about the books that they’ve written, etc.

Granted, he has an in (he wrote an awesome book about a year ago), but what’s stopping me from doing something like this with either other writers or other cartoonists? Nothing really. In fact, with the ultranet, it should be ten times easier to talk to people and share ideas. He inspired me to this, so this weekend wasn’t too bad. Just for the record, even though it was a long weekend, I didn’t do a hell of a lot. Everyone was up and we just hung out with them and the two kids. Pretty relaxing, yet I felt warn out this morning.

Back to the strip, Kurt assures Eddie that things will be back to normal next week and sure enough he peels back the paper that reveals next week’s strip and he’s right. Things are back to normal. This week’s strip came to me on the precipice of falling asleep so I wasn’t sure a. if I’d remember it and b. if it was going to turn out ok. I glad that I did remember it, because I think that it turned out real well. I think I did a good job with the art and I didn’t over write it like I have been doing.

That’s the one thing that I have to watch … know when the joke is over. For example, in last week’s strip, I should’ve just ended it with Kurt saying, “You should just say shit, it’s easier.” But I had to try and go a step further. The strange thing is I know that it was too much, but my buddy on SoSH (Shoeless Joe) confirmed it. Plus, Aly says that I’ve been too wordy lately too. She suggests that I go back and touch things up by editing them. I just might do that.

Last Wednesday, Brownie got us tickets to Pearl Jam at the TD Banknorth Garden. It was one of the better concerts I’ve seen since the last concert I’d been too, also Pearl Jam which was also at the Garden. They played for an incredible two and a half hours, and I don’t care who you are, that is a mammoth show.

Were there some down times? Yeah. But like I said, it was two and a half hours, give these guys a break. I’ve now seen them five times (I’m doing an EXTREMELY geeky project on this, which you people will bear witness to soon) and each time they have delivered. This was their set list:

Set 1 Release, Severed Hand, World Wide Suicide, Corduroy, Animal, Red Mosquito, Love Boat Captain, Better Man, Unemployable, Even Flow, Sad, Wishlist, Gone, Green Disease, Down, Jeremy, Life Wasted, Why Go

Encore 1 Forever Young, Masters Of War, Crazy Mary, Inside Job, Alive

Encore 2 Spin The Black Circle, Do The Evolution, Whipping, Rats, Comatose, Rockin' In The Free World

Twenty-nine songs, five of which came from their first album and six came from their new disc (which is actually really good, I suggest that you buy it). Brownie saw them the following day too and he said it was even better. So good in fact, that Theo Epstein jumped on stage, played guitar and sang with them on “Rockin’ In The Free World”. Now that is pretty cool.

Speaking of cool, I seem to be losing mine. Before the PJ show last week, I almost got into a fight at the Boston Sports Grille (on Canal Street, near the Garden) with a jackass who snagged Brownie’s seat. We just bickered back and forth for like ten minutes and he told me to take a swing at him. I almost did, but decided it wasn’t worth it. This guy was a real piece of work. He told me that I look like a guy who “sits in front of a computer all day”. I’m not sure what that means.

Then on Saturday night, this girl who lives across the street from me was yelling at her boyfriend (through her cell phone) at around midnight. I went to bed shortly after only to be woken up by her meathead BF at 2:00 am who was loudly screaming for her (Lindsey) to let him in the house. He was screaming and screaming, so finally I yelled, “Shut the fuck up”, which was met with a “Why don’t you come out here and fight?”

I didn’t feel like it, so I stayed inside. His buddy got him to calm down and he drunkenly drove away. Why am I doing this? Do I want to get an ass kicking? The guy on Saturday would’ve ruined me, though I think that me and the Wednesday guy would’ve been a decent row. I really think that I am looking for to get my head beat in. Not sure why though.

Two final things: one, I’m not sure why Jeff never emailed me back with his Simpsons quotes. I’ll have to ask him about that. Two, I’m going to be in St. Louis next Monday and Tuesday, so I’m not sure when next week’s strip is going to be loaded up. Hopefully on Wednesday, but we’ll see. Until then.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Meta Comic Strip ... One of the Last Ones, I Swear!

Oooh boy, nothing gets the laughs like a comic strip that references the fact that it’s a comic strip. To borrow a phrase from Bill Belichick, this week’s strip, “is what it is”. There’s really not a hell of a lot of subtlety involved with this one, basically I took a comic axiom, “When swearing, press the shift key and then hit the row of numbers randomly” and turned it on it’s ear.

Was it funny? Perhaps. I think it was humorous when Kurt told Eddie he should just say “shit” because it’s easier. That’s actually what got me thinking about this week’s idea. When I read an old comic strip and they use those symbols, how is one to read it aloud? Do you say, “Number sign, dollar sign, ampersand, asterisk, exclamation point my toe!” or do you say, “Shit (or fuck or son of a bitch) my toe!” And if you do say “son of a bitch”, shouldn’t you write it like this “son of a #$&*!” or is that too suggestive?

What the hell am I talking about? Damned or #$&*! if I know, but you can check it out right here:

Before I drew and wrote this comic, I actually thought long and hard about it. Why? Because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have Eddie and his buddies realize that they were in a comic strip. This comic is supposed to be grounded in reality and I was not positive that I wanted to break that fourth wall.

There are some times when that fourth wall breakage is cool, Dobie Gillis from “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” was one of the first to do it on television as was Zack Morris from “Saved By the Bell” and that worked well. On his run of the She-Hulk, John Byrne did the same thing and while I never read any of those comics (I was out of comics by then) the reviews were often positive.

I’m not sure if I like what I did though. Like I said, I want to keep Eddie and the other characters in their own universe. And I know that I’m thinking about this a little too much, but it is my characters and my strip and I have a feeling that I compromised it a bit too much in this edition with a cheap joke.

So do me a favor on this one, let’s not talk about it anymore.

Let’s talk about something cool, like last week’s trip to Chicago (BTW, that’s the reason why there wasn’t a new strip or a new Blog update). I went out there last Monday for a conference and I have to say, Chicago is a great town ... lots of fun stuff to do and the people were friendly as hell.

On Monday night, I pretty much stayed in the bar with my work colleagues. Had a few brews, some food and then hit the sack. I was really tired from the flight there and I had to work for a bit too. On Tuesday, I was up at the crack of ass and working through 10 pm, so I was completely wiped. The cool thing is that at night we took a cruise around Lake Michigan and that was a good time.

Wednesday night is when we had a blast, started out with a Cubs/Nationals game. It was the first time that I had been to Wrigley Field and it is the ninth different ballpark that I’ve been to. The other eight are:

Fenway Park
Olympic Stadium
Yankee Stadium
Camden Yards
Turner Field
Bank One Ballpark

Despite it being cold as hell, I was pumped to see Wrigley though. Tried some Old Style brew, not bad, had a Wrigley dog, took in the ivy, the seventh inning stretch (no one famous, just their PA guy who was once shot in the neck) and had a great time with the two dudes that I was sitting next to. Straight out of central casting too, the father is a Chicago fireman and I’m not sure what his son does. But they were good naturedly lamenting about the Cubs and were telling us (I went with my coworker Pete) to watch the two chicks at the end of our aisle, who were absolutely hammered (they were falling out of their shirts and doing some unnatural acts to a hot dog).

The game wasn’t too bad, Cubs pitcher Sean Marshall had a no hitter going through six and he and a trio of Cubs relievers had a one-hitter. Alfonso Soriano got the one hit with a stinging line drive to center. Obviously, it would’ve been cool to see a no-no, but I did get to see a slew of former Sox: Todd Walker, Scott Williamson, Bobby Howry, Matt Murton and Mike Stanton. Seems like a lot of ex-Sox are on the Cubbies, I wonder why?

Before the game we went to a place called John Barelycorn, which was a typical bar. Nothing too special, but they had beer and that was cool with me. After that we hit Mullen’s and that place was a lot of fun. We met a few more people from work and we just started drinking, we each had three Irish car bombs and then started to play flip cup. Apparently, that was the last straw for our waitress because after a half-hour of doing that we were booted.

All-in-all a good night and a good time in Chicago. I would definitely go back.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Best of the Simpsons Part One

When I was an uber-nerd, one of my most favorite things in the entire world was when comic books used to crossover. I’d buy them all, whether it was the Avengers meet Alpha Flight, the X-Men battle the Fantastic Four or Power Pack teamed up with Daredevil. I didn’t care one way or the other.

If you’re reading this Blog entry right now and are nodding your head in agreement, my friend Jeff Kuhn have Teamed-Up as they call it and are going for the gimmick thing in dragging readers to our sites. This week we’re starting off with the top ten Simpsons episodes from seasons one through seven. Why? Because choosing ten episodes from seasons one through infinity would’ve taken forever, and if you’re a regular reader of this site, you know that I just don’t have that kind of time.

So, read my list, check out Jeff’s take and then read what his list is all about here

10. Bart the General (Season 1)
This was the first episode that I can really, really made me laugh. Yes, it is symbolic of the old-school, Bart-centered episodes, but it was really well done. And I remember thinking that it broke a lot of old sitcom rules. For example, when Bart went to an adult he wasn’t talked out of kicking Nelson’s ass, he was encouraged with great enthusiasm and psychoticness from Grandpa and Herman.

Also, when Nelson was tied up he said something to the effect of, “As soon as you untie me, man, I’m just going to beat you up.” On other shows, whenever the bully was about to be bested, he would immediately change his tune. Everyone knows that in the real world of kidom, that sort of stuff never happens.

Lines that made me laugh:
Herman: “The key to Springfield has always been Elm Street. The Greeks knew it, the Carthaginians knew it. Know you do.” (How many shows reference the Carthaginians?)

Bart: “Contrary to what you’ve just seen war is neither glamorous or fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: the American Revolution, World War II and the Star Wars trilogy.”

Jeff’s take:
This is a pretty good episode, but only because Herman is involved. If my kid was hanging out with Herman, I think I’d check his ass for fingerprints. The one thing I didn’t really like about it was Grandpa being involved. He’s so much better as the crazy guy that says that “family jewels” is said on TV too much, and that there are three too many states.

9. Bart the Lover (Season 3)
The best Bart episodes are always the ones where he’s a bastard. There’s a lot of dirty tricks that he’s pulled over the years, but this one was the dirtiest and the best. As Eddie Haskell once opined, “Nothing’s mean if it’s funny enough.” This episode saw Bart being punished for a yo-yo trick by his teacher, Ms. Krabapple. In order to get her back he cuts out a picture of Gordie Howe and writes a love letter to her.

The letter is a riot, and of course Krabapple falls for it. Bart begins to feel bad for her after seeing her waiting for her date that will never come. He confesses his trick to his parents and instead of making him confess, they all come up with a plan so Krabapple isn’t completely mortified. Again, this sets a sitcom truism (all children must be punished and the “right” thing must be done) on it’s ear. Also, just the randomness of including Gordie Howe. That was awesome.

Lines that made me laugh:
Homer: “Dear Baby, Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You.”

Woodrow: “Truly, Yours is a butt that won’t quit.”

Jeff’s take:
I like cruelness as much as anyone, but I actually never liked this episode. In my mind, the first two seasons are like the Supreme Court before John Marshall. They were too afraid to really find their voice, and because of that, they didn’t have much real power. They were noticeable, but unimportant.

Find somewhere else someone can compare the Simpsons to the doctrine substantive judicial review.

8. Homie the Clown (Season 6)
The episodes where Homer quits his job and takes on a new job aren’t usually my favorite ones. However, this one absolutely kills me. From Homer trying his best not to think of clown college, to Krusty betting against the Globetrotters, to Fat Tony and his gang. Just a tour de force of comedy.

Then of course is the amount of money that Krusty owes the mob. Also, Millhouse’s birthday with immortal line, “My dad is a big wheel down at the cracker factory.” This episode really drives home the point that repetition is the key, because when I first saw it I remember not liking it that much. But over the course of a couple of years in syndication, it’s been on at least 35,000 times and the more I watched it, the more I grew to love it.

Lines that made me laugh:
Homer: “That’s it. You people have stood in my way long enough. I’m going to clown college!”

Legs: “I’m seeing double here, four Krustys!”

Jeff’s take:
This was my last cut at #10. In fact, if on the other place, my name wasn’t Tibor, it would have been 10. Can you extend patronage to yourself?

The dude wearing the cowboy hat saying “Brook Lyn” after finding out there can only be one regional Krusty is completely hilarious. Also, Homer beating the little Hamburgerler guy makes me laugh thinking about it. Remember…midget violence=larfs!

7. Bart of Darkness (Season 6)
If you’ve ever owned a pool, this episode rings true. The new friends that you will “coincidentally” make during July and August once you open up your pool is astounding. As usual the Simpsons do a terrific job of encapsulating that in one line, uttered by Jimbo (with hundreds of kids behind him), “Uhm … Mrs. Bart, is your pool open yet?” Of course, there’s the scene with the Amish, Nelson causing Bart to fall out of the tree (“Hey Bart, your epidermis is showing!”) followed by an explanation of why it was so funny and Bart’s screen play.

That’s not even the main plot which centers on Ned being considered a mur-diddly-urdler, or the subplots of Lisa becoming popular, Homer trying to figure out how to run a pool, or Bart playing solo Stratego. If the Jimmy Stewart-type guy didn’t clue you in, this was an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”.

Lines that made me laugh:
Milhouse: “Nelson, I think he’s really hurt.”
Nelson: “I said ‘Ha, ha’.”

Amish dude: “Tis’ a mighty fine barn English, but tis no pool.”

Kid: “Hello Mrs. Cumberdale.”

Jeff’s take:
This one is clever in it’s parodying “Rear Window,” I would say definitely a top 20 episode of this era.

I had a pool for a few years growing up, transitioning between city life and the suburbs, and this one really hits the nail on the head, including my friend Nick getting a bigger pool and everyone going over to his house. My Mom was fanatical about the pool though, forcing other kids to bring their parents to baby sit. My dad was less strict, with his thinking if you’re dumb enough to drown in a pool four feet deep, you deserve your outcome.

Bonus points to chlorine-induced ocular damage to the kiddies by Homer.

6. I Love Lisa (Season 4)
When I was coming up with this list, I initially thought that this would be favorite episode of all time. I can’t believe that it didn’t even make the top five. This is the first Ralph-centric episode and quite possibly the best. I have no idea how the writers were able to catch lightning in a bottle, but they way that Ralph Wiggum is written is awesome. They really should’ve gotten an Emmy for it.

Ralph is obviously pretty dumb, but in this episode they give him a certain pathos and heart that makes every guy feel his pain. Be honest with yourself, you’ve set your goals high in the woman department and you’ve been shot down … just like our boy Ralph. And from his first days of having a crush on Lisa to getting crushed by Lisa (on national TV, no less) you just feel his hurt.

The scene that always makes me laugh is when he jumps into the wheelchair dressed as FDR and exclaims, “I’ve come here to play George Washington!” Bonus points to the appearance of the KBBL morning DJs (Bill and Marty) playing “Monster Mash” on Valentine’s Day, Rex the childhood drama king, Bart as John Wilkes Booth going on an insane president killing spree, Ralph’s acting and subsequent exclamation from the gang of bullies (“He makes me want to learn about our founding fathers!” “To the library!”), this was a well-written, well-acted episode. And major bonus points for being the first sitcom based around President’s Day.

Lines that made me laugh:
So many good lines ...

Homer: “Six simple words: I’m not gay, but I’m learn.”

Miss Hoover: “Bart, do you want to play John Wilkes Booth or do you want to act like a maniac?”

Rex: “I will not sit down! Someone’s gotten to you, you deceitful cow!”

Ralph: “My cat’s breath smells like cat food.”

Ralph: “So ... do you like ... stuff?”

Song: “We are the mediocre presidents. You won’t find our faces on dollars or on cents.
There’s Taylor, there’s Tyler, there’s Fillmore and there’s Hayes.
There’s William Henry Harrison, “I died in thirty days!”
We are the adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable caretaker Presidents of the USA!”

Jeff’s take:
There is a bar around here that has the Monster Mash on the juke box, and I love playing it when it’s a crowded Saturday night. If WTF!?!? had a face, it would be at Charlie O’s when the Monster Mash is played.

Hey Byron, I choo-choo-choose you!

And there’s a picture of a train!

Remember, read Jeff’s stuff too at:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Cult of No Personality

No. This isn’t about Corey Glover and the boys of Living Colour—BTW, one of the most underrated bands of the last 20 years. This is about getting fame. In my strip this week, Layne brings up Paris Hilton and how she’s known world wide for virtually nothing. The only thing that she’s know for, her looks and her money, weren’t even worked for. She was born with both.

This brings us to the following question, is it easier to be famous now? I think that the answer has to be yes. Hilton has zero talent, except for what she did to her former boyfriend one night. I have to admit, she looks to be really proficient at that. But I don’t think that skill translates well into fame or fortune.

You want to see the strip that spawned this inner monologue? Check it out here:

Hilton was born with a silver spoon up her nose and she has worked that into a semi-hit television reality series, the desire of a lot of men and her style is imitated by some women. But how did she do it? That’s the billion dollar question. The first time I remember hearing about the Hilton sisters was about five years ago. All I heard was that Paris and her equally vapid sister Nicky would go out every night, get completely trashed and say stupid things. Aside from finding them attractive, in that slutty sort of way, I didn’t give them too much attention, and thought that they would disappear into a mountain of cocaine and down a river of Red Bull and vodka.

But I underestimated the power of the Hilton. After awhile, they began to appear every where: Paris with that cocked head look and stoner smile, Nicky with those bat-shit crazy eyes. Then things pushed forward even more, they were guest starring on TV shows. First as kitschy walk-ons and then on talk shows begging for some kind of “edge”. Then Paris got her own series, then she was in a few movies, then she was supposed to record a CD (which hasn’t seen the light of day). How could one person with no talent have so many irons in the fire?

I mean, it can’t be all the work of her PR person can it? If so, whatever that person is being paid, it’s not enough. While it’s no secret that Americans like their celebrities stupid and slutty, Hilton has taken it to a new extreme. She is so dumb and so slutty that she’s almost a cartoon of herself (and I think there may have been talk of a Hilton sisters cartoon at one point), but no one seems to give a shit.

People still take her picture, still ask her questions (which are never answered intelligently) still appears on the cover of a truck-load of magazines (yet is never completely nude). Maybe we’re the idiots here. It’s obvious that Hilton is laughing all the way to the bank, she doesn’t even hide that smug smile. Maybe she found some Rosetta Stone that unlocks the key to being well-known without doing any work. I don’t know.

I guess the only thing you can do is congratulate her, right? Nah. I’d still rather be me than her.

Speaking of me, I finished my Web Design courses on Monday night. Completely and totally done. D-O-N-E. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a relief that this is. It was about 48 weeks, and I have to say, I worked hard for that year. I was a little sad to leave, because I did enjoy learning a new skill, but at the same time, I’m not going to miss the homework.

If you want to see my final project, check it out here:

It’s supposed to be an updated version of this site:

I think that I did a decent job. Now all I have to do is update my current site and find some new customers. That should be happening in the next couple of weeks or so.

Speaking of the next few weeks, next week there will be no new strip. I am going to be in Chicago for the entire week, so I won’t have time to upload anything. Sorry about that one, kiddies. Also, on Friday, come back to this site as we will be doing something pretty cool. I don’t want to tell you exactly what it is, but I think that you’re going to like it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

When I Get to the Bottom I Go Back to the Top of the Slide

You should probably know that lyric, it’s the first one from the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”, which not so coincidentally was also the title of Charles Manson’s race war. Since I have Manson on the brain these days—I’m not going to start a stable full of blood thirsty flowerchildren in the middle of the desert, but I have been rereading Ed Sanders’ excellent book, “The Family”—and I came up with an idea for the old strip.

It sort of works on two levels, for me at least, because other than reading this book, the overall crux of the strip is semibiographical. Turns out that my mom went to high school (St. Mary’s High in Lawrence, MA) with Linda Kasabian. If you’ve seen either one of the “Helter Skelter” TV movies or read the book, you’ll know that Kasabian was a member of the family who went along during the Tate murders.

If you can believe her testimony, she was too freaked out to actually kill anyone and when the massacre started, she was in a ball crying. After the incident, she took her kid and went back to New England where she lived for a few months until the California DA offered her a deal to testify against her former friends. She did, and basically got off scott-free.

That’s the background of this week’s strip, which you can check out for yourself at:

When I was in high school and first saw the movie, I was totally creeped out and obsessed about the whole trial. Not so much the murder part of it, the whole cult of personality that Manson was able to create for himself that got people to actually believe that he was both Jesus Christ and Satan. Why would anyone believe this? Why would they kill for him? How could you think that the Beatles were talking to you through a record? Just generally, what the fuck?

Then my mom told me about how she knew of Kasabian and it brought on even more questions: what was she like, was she a total freak, how did she get out to California, did you ever hang out with her? Tons of them. And if Kasabian could be coerced into going out there and be part of some crazy death cult, what stopped my mother (or any of her friends) from doing that?

The only thing she had to tell me was, “I don’t know. She was kind of weird.” Nothing else. That was more frustrating than not knowing anything. I thought, here my mother was a person who knew someone who was part of the most famous trial of the century (OJ hadn’t made the run for the border yet) and no first-hand knowledge could be passed. It drove me nuts and sort of pissed me off.

Thinking about it over these last few years, it has occurred to me that why would my mom know Linda Kasabian, except in passing? Kasabian was obviously whacked out to begin with and from all accounts, my mom and her friends seemed fairly normal. Why would a person who was normal hang out with an out-and-out freak? I certainly didn’t when I was in school and I made a point to stay the hell away from them. Wouldn’t my mom do the same thing?

And how was she to know that Linda Kasabian would be famous, or in the very least infamous? Think of all the weirdos you know, chances are pretty good that none of them are going to achieve any type of fame or infamy. If they weren’t cool people would you spend time with these people in the hopes that they do something fucked up so you could get some modicum of popularity by simply knowing the person?

I’ve written about this phenomenon before, the friends of the famous, who are known because they happen to hang around with someone famous. There is something really detestable about these leeches and hangers on who have made their name without talent or substance simply because they are friends with a talented person. And as bad as Jessica Simpson’s kindergarten teacher showing up on VH1 to talk about how driven Jessica was when she was five, it is ultimately even more despicable to be a friend of a mass murder who is using the crime to further his/her fame.

I guess, in the long run, I’m glad that my mom didn’t know Kasabian well. Things probably would’ve been different for me if my mom chose the path that her classmate chose. However, in this particular comic strip, Eddie doesn’t have a chance to reflect on this introspection and, like most of do when faced with a disappointment, just blurts out what’s on his mind.

Another thing that I’m glad about this strip is that Eddie gets to deliver the dis to Kurt instead of the other way around. I was looking through a bunch of the older strips and it’s usually Kurt one-upping Ed. I don’t want to turn Eddie into a sad-sack loser, every once in a while he has to have something bright to say, otherwise it’s the same old stuff week after week. And that gets boring.

Speaking of boring, I didn’t do a heck of a lot this weekend, except eat. Mom and dad came over on Friday night to watch the wedding video, they hadn’t seen it yet, and we went to Vinny T’s. Not a bad place to eat, for a chain restaurant. I had the pork chops and vinegar peppers. Truthfully, Aly’s was better as Vinny T’s didn’t use real vinegar peppers. They just roasted some red peppers and chucked them on the pork.

Saturday I spent most of the day doing homework, which absolutely sucked because it was gorgeous outside. But for three and a half hours, I was stuck in front of my PC working on my final project. Can you believe that my last class is next Monday? It seems like just yesterday I was going in the office to meet with Kurt Carl about possibly going there. Even though it’s a certificate program, I’ve learned a ton. Check back here next week for my final web site, it’s pretty decent.

Saturday night, Lauren and Bob came over and we went to Abe and Louie’s for an awesome steak dinner. It was a bit pricey, but well worth it. My filet mignon tasted tremendous, as did the clam chowder and the apple pie with ice cream I had for dessert. After that, they came over to our place and we just hung out.

Sunday was more homework and I bought a new pair of running shoes. I guess that I’m getting into this running thing a bit more seriously now. My knees have been killing me since I started running outside and on the treadmill. Hopefully these new kicks will stop that from happening.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bear-ly Legal

Like the title? That should get me a couple of hits from the illiterate pedophile crowd who surf Google for their smut. But as another famous bear would say, “Wocka, wocka, wocka!”

Today’s strip is a bit of a departure for Room 19 Comics. Normally, I try to keep it somewhat grounded in “real life”, but I decided to see how the absurd would work. About the only thing that has any basis in reality is that I remember that this skit killed my friend Ryan and me when we were younger. I think we must’ve quoted this skit for an entire summer. And the funny thing was, it wasn’t a front of the show skit. If I remember correctly, this was one of the latter skits. And if you know your Saturday Night Live history, that’s the graveyard shift where they put the crap.

However, it was during the Hartman-Carvey run of the late 80s, early 90s when SNL was appointment TV again, so maybe being at the end of those shows isn’t as bad as being at the end of this cast’s shows.

Saturday Night Live? Bears? Absurdist comedy? You had me at the title, check it out here:

The main point of this strip is that Eddie gets attacked by a bear. I think that’s pretty damn funny. There are a couple of little things to look for in this strip: Eddie is wearing a Chicago Cubs shirt, check out the bear’s nose in the first panel and the look of confusion in his eyes in the second panel. Also, check out the Jimmy Fallon slam. That guy just sucks, BTW.

In the second panel, I originally had Kurt agreeing with Eddie that it sounded like a funny concept for a skit, but right before I scanned the drawing, I decided to change it to him thinking that it sucked. After he sees his buddy get mauled, he thought it was funny. I think that this is a universal reaction that we’d all have to seeing our friend fight a bear.

Other than that, that’s pretty much it. There isn’t a lot of complicated layers in this week’s strip (not that there usually is) but this week’s is pretty regular. I will say this, I enjoyed drawing the bear … aside from dogs, bears are my favorite animal and I’ve wanted to do a bear strip since I saw “Grizzly Man” a few weeks ago. Matching this desire with the SNL skit, I think that it worked out pretty well.

I sold my car yesterday. I’m torn about it because on the one hand, I got a pretty good deal and we need the cash, but on the other hand it was the first car that I bought myself and I’ve done my best to take care of it properly. A lot of blood, sweat and money has gone into my ride and now I’m selling it. I think that I felt this way after I sold the Prelude, and I know that I’ll get over it.

My car had been languishing on Craig’s List for about three months before I got a great idea last Wednesday. I decided to scrap the first paragraph and talk like a pirate. Here’s what I wrote:

“Avast ye, mateys. This vessel be originally priced at $7,500, it is now slashed by $1,000! Ye landlubbers will love the terrific condition of the automobile, the reason why I be selling is that me wench can't drive stick and we can only afford the pieces of eight for one automobile in Brookline. Please take this off my hooks ... I'm practically begging you.

Ok. I needed to get a little creative as this has been sitting on Craig's List for a few weeks and it's time to shove off. In all seriousness, this is a terrific car and has had zero problems. It'd be perfect for the first time driver, a college student or practically anyone. And if you buy it, I promise not to use my pirate voice.”

Within 24 hours, I got five serious offers. Incredible. If I had known about this earlier, I would’ve done everything in a pirate voice: looked for a job, tried to get a better loan for the house, dated. I think that I could’ve really made quite a healthy living off this.

Anyway, the guy who bought the car is going to turn around and sell it to a kid for a couple hundred dollars more that what I sold to him for. I guess his job is to troll Craig’s List and find cars for people. I can’t tell whether that’s a good gig or not. Seems like a lot of work for not a lot of money, but if you’re motivated and good at keep your own schedule, then I bet you could do real well.

Class is almost over. I have two weeks and then I’m done. I can’t even begin to tell you how glad I am about this. I have zero motivation and I just want to get this project done. After I come from Chicago, I’m going to start advertising my services again for a freelance web designer. Maybe I’ll use the old pirate voice.

Two cool things happened this weekend, one we went up to Archie and Jenn’s place this weekend with Reddish. Just a real good time, as we got to hang out with the Kane family. They live in a pretty nice place 20 miles north west of Concord, so it’s definitely in the sticks. But they seem to have a real happy life without the trappings of living in the big city. There are times when I think that would be an awesome way to go, but there is a part of me that might miss being able to walk out the door, walk three blocks and buy a book. It’s all a trade-off, I guess.

Their kids are really cool too. Travis and Kelsey are three and a year, respectively, and are probably some of the most well-behaved kids I’ve ever seen. Knowing Archie, he’s probably scared them into being good. Actually, Arch seems like a pretty good dad quite a long way from the days in our dorm room where him and I would play drinking solitaire with a half a bottle of Wild Turkey while listening to Jane’s Addiction.

I can’t remember what the second cool thing was, but if I remember, I’ll tell you about it on Friday.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Can A Book Be Pop Culture?

Note: if you’re hear for the previous entry, roll past this one … and then come back to read it.

For this entry, yes it can be. Every few months I try to post a few book reviews of things that I’ve read since my last book reviews. This edition’s is a bit more eclectic than the last one as there really is no common thread between the three books. Maybe there is, I guess you could say that history is the common thread, but that sort of ruins my point, so forget I ever said that.

The first book on this tour was one that I picked up while in San Antonio. You might think that it would be a book about the Old West or injuns. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s called, “Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling” by Ross King. Across from the hotel I was staying at was a really cool exhibit on the Vatican. It had a bunch of the old treasures, Popeware and other relics. This book was in the gift shop.

I have to say, I was a little hesitant about reading it because I bought it on a whim as a memento of the exhibition, but overall it was a more than decent book. It was about exactly what the title suggests, Michelangelo and Pope Julius II. To put it simply, Julius was a dick, as was Michelangelo. This wasn’t very surprising as both of them were at the tops in their fields and got there by doing things their way.

Michelangelo didn’t really feel like doing the Sistine Chapel, he’d rather have sculpted Julius’ tomb—which he thought would cement his legacy and Julius was constantly telling him what to paint … and more importantly, how to paint it. It would’ve been a pretty quick book if that’s what the entire thing was about, good thing that King decided to have equal parts Michelangelo and equal parts Julius.

Julius was a bad motherfucker and during his day, Popes weren’t the docile peace-keepers that they are now. They were corrupt, many of them had a ton of children and would bribe and extort, and were almost warrior kings. Julius was no exception, there were a couple of instances during the painting of the ceiling where Julius led the Holy Roman army against the French and kicked their asses. Of course, he needed the help of the Swiss (which screwed him over a couple of times), the English and the Spanish.

For some reasons, Julius kept the Swiss around and later had Michelangelo design their uniforms. Look at these freaking things:

I guess Julius got his revenge.

BTW, when the ceiling was unveiled it was a huge hit … everyone thought it was awesome. And here’s another thing, Michelangelo did not paint the entire thing by himself, he had a bunch of apprentices that helped him, he was paid very well for the time (he paid his helpers shit) and they did not paint on their backs. Anyone who tells you that is retarded.

This next book was something along the lines of reading about the time you lost your virginity: it was awkward, scary, really messy and you’d rather not see any evidence of it again. The book is called “The Bad Guys Won” and was written by Jeff Pearlman.

As you may remember, Pearlman is the Sports Illustrated writer who made John Rocker a household name back in the late 90s. It was him who wrote the story about Rocker and the wacky things he said about gays, New York City, etc. Pearlman isn’t a one-trick pony though and is actually a pretty good writer, though in this book he went way overboard in the overwriting department and forced a lot of “cute” similes. It would’ve been a much stronger book if he cut down on them and just wrote it straight.

As you can tell by the book cover, this book is about the New York Mets … in particular the 1986 New York Mets. You might remember them, they were a team that beat some other team from the northeast in a silly little tournament called the World Series. I can’t remember the whole course of events, but if you go here you will:

RBI Madness

The above is sort of one of those things that you watch after you’ve seen “Faith Rewarded” and the entire 11-disc 2004 Red Sox MLB playoffs.

Despite the obvious “pinnacle” of the book, it was a decent read. As much as I hate that the Mets broke my Sox cherry, it was going to be done by one team sooner or later, I have to admit that they seem like a pretty fun group. Pearlman does an excellent job of getting a bunch of the stories from that year and pulling no punches. There is one story about shortstop Rafael Santana that is really hilarious, I’m not going to spoil it, but you’ll never look at the guy the same way again.

Another thing that I liked about it is that Pearlman didn’t just interview the stars like Gooden, Strawberry, Hernandez and Carter. He talked to just about everyone including guys like backup catcher Ed Hearn, reliever Doug Sisk and supersub Kevin Mitchell. Another great part of the book is the way that it traces the end of the supposed dynasty and the mistakes that the Mets brass made.

Whether you like the Mets or not, and I certainly am not a big fan of them, this is a terrific book, made especially more interesting for me as it was the year that I really started to follow baseball and collect baseball cards. That’s the one thing that constantly ran through my head as I was reading this book, an off-color story would be told about someone, I’d recall their 1986 Topps baseball card and think, “I wonder if Lenny Dykstra knew that he would lose $20,000 on a poker game when this picture was being taken?”

Basically, I’ve always viewed my baseball card collection as a representation of my innocence. When I was younger, I thought that these guys were gods (maybe not Marc Sullivan), but it turns out that they were just regular, flawed human beings, just like everyone else. Does that discolor my view of that time? No. That’s just the way I was back then and I’m sure my son will be the same way when he gets into cards. To add a point, it’s not like after reading this book my eyes were suddenly open as to the debauchery that occurs in major league clubhouses, I knew that … this only reminded me of when I didn’t.

Did you know that there was a huge influenza pandemic in 1918? I had no idea until I read “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. No, it’s not Jon Barry the journeyman basketball player, it’s another dude.

This was a well-researched book, let me say that straight up. Apparently it took Barry seven years to write this thing and it completely shows. He obviously took his time and scoured every corner of this country for any mention of this pandemic in any newspaper, journal or magazine. It must’ve have been easy.

That’s not to say that I loved it. I liked it, I’m glad I read it, but probably won’t read it again. The reason? The way I look at it, this book was broken up into three distinct parts: the doctors/researchers/medical institutions, the politicians and the biology of the disease.

The biology was the least amount of the three and I basically skipped over that part. I’ve never been a big science guy and the parts of science that I liked did not have to do with biology. I found it to be a tremendous bore.

Of the other two parts, I found the politician reaction to the disease to be the most fascinating. Since we were in the midst of World War I, any bad news was considered criminal. This included newspapers writing about the disease and how it’s wiping out scores of military personnel and moving into the big cities and destroying them too. Thus, by the time the word got out it was almost too late.

Because of this shroud against “anti-Americanism” people were more scared and confused than if the government just gave them the new straight. The death toll rose so high in cities such as Philadelphia (where their city government’s workings made Tammany Hall look like Romper Room), Boston, New York that there was literally no place to bury the dead. Much like when the plague slammed the Middle Ages, there were death carts being pulled through the cities stacked high with bodies.

Even President Woodrow Wilson was affected by the disease, which in turn impacted his four nations (England, France, Italy and the US) meeting at the end of World War I. He was so weak from influenza that he gave into the French delegate’s wishes of making Germany completely and totally culpable for WWI. This plunged Germany into a gigantic tailspin of depression that was only rescued by the Nazi party. If Wilson had been more healthy, maybe he wouldn’t have given into the wishes of the French of things would’ve been different.

The parts about the doctors and researchers, while interesting and essential, tended to drag a bit. Maybe it’s because I was able to relate to the “normal” folks who were terrified and got the disease and was fascinated by the what ifs of the end of the war, but I was not as interested in the medical aspects.

That’s not to say that it entirely sucked, there were a bunch of interesting anecdotes and these men were heroes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Running on Empty … I Ran … Running with the Devil … Run’s House

There are a million songs with the word “run” in them and I picked a few that happened to run through my brain. As many of you long-time readers know, Wednesdays are usually reserved for me to crab about my strip, point out what I think is funny or explain why a joke didn’t work. This week, we’re going to change things up a bit, this week, we’re going to lead off with a pretty special event that occurred on Monday: my wife, Alyson Magrane, completed her first Boston Marathon in a little over five hours, 5:14 to be exact.

You won’t find a more proud person than me, it’s hard for me to even begin to describe the amount of pride that I feel towards her, she’s my hero. Overdramatic? I don’t care, the odds that she, and all runners actually, have to overcome to finish the race are pretty large. I never knew how much a person had to shuffle around their life in order to run. Saturdays became all about the long runs, which meant that Friday night she was in bed early as well as Saturday night. And it wasn’t just a one-day thing, Sunday she was hurting but she got right back to her routine on Monday.

And since we live in Boston, it’s not exactly San Diego, which meant that a majority of her runs came in the outside … in January and February … in complete darkness. Think that it sucks to train in San Diego? How about wearing eight layers of clothes and hoping that your sweat doesn’t freeze to your face or that some jerk that’s going too fast in his Miata doesn’t hit some black ice and takes you at the kneecaps.

Unlike training for a fall marathon, like the Marine Corps in Washington or New York, you have no idea what you’re going to get when it comes to marathon day in April. It could be hot as August, cold as February, rainy as October, windy as March … you have no clue. Luckily, she had perfect weather yesterday.

Did she want to quit? Of course she did, putting plans on the backburner or not being able to have a glass of wine or some sort of fattening food while everyone else (including her husband) isn’t easy. And it’s not easy to leave a warm home and run by yourself through the streets of Brighton and Allston while your husband is reading the paper and watching football. But she did it. And for that, she has all my respect. When she first saw me yesterday in Wellesley (about mile 16), with tears in her eyes telling me how much she hurt, it was all I could do to pick her up in my arms and carry her back to our house. But she persevered and made it to the end. I’ll never forget that.

So here’s to you number 21264, take a few days off and no matter what happens, you can always say that you’re a marathoner.

Ok. Now for the real reason that you’re here; comics. Poorly drawn, crudely written web comics. This week’s episode revolves around blissful ignorance and a look into the future. In the first panel, Eddie talks about going home and talking to his older brother. Being a good guy, his older brother gives him some words of wisdom that both he and Kurt shoot down.

Want to check it out:

The same thing happened to me, and since I didn’t have an older brother it came from my friend Brownie’s brother, Greg. While we were still in school, Greg must’ve been in a melancholy mood and started going on about women and how lucky we were to be in college. He basically said, there will never be another time in your life that you’re literally going to be surrounded by girls that are all in the same social, class, intelligence and age spheres than you are in right now. In the real world, there are going to be chicks from everywhere and you actually have to work hard to make conversation and ultimately get laid.

In college he said, more than half of the battle is won … you have such a large pooled of shared experiences, it should be a piece of cake to talk to a woman and get some rap going. As the rap extends, you move the conversation elsewhere and there you go. In a bar or some other meeting place you have to set up the parameters of the conversation: is she your age, does she make way more or way less than you, is she from around here, etc. This is time consuming and if it takes too long and proves fruitless, you’re going home alone. In college you can skip that part.

Of course, we ignored him and after a couple of months outside of school and in the bar scene, he proved to be 100% right. BTW, the line that Eddie says in the last panel is a direct ripoff of Ralph Wiggum’s quote when he’s trying to win over Lisa Simpson. Now that guy was a lothario.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Third and Final Part of What I Watch

For the true-believers of 19 Thoughts, Friday just couldn’t get here quick enough, eh? The last part of What I Watch (WIW to the hep cats) is about to begin. Everyone have your scorecards and TV Guides? Good. Let’s, as a priest I used to know was fond of saying, procerd.

I don’t watch much of anything on Tuesday. Aly’s got me into “American Idol”, but I’m usually flicking between that and the Red Sox and a bunch of time, I’m reading or doing other stuff. There’s not a lot to like about AI: it’s full of product placement, it rewards the hopelessly talentless, it has made Ryan Seacrest and the completely unsoulful Randy Jackson stars (Jackson was the bassist in JOURNEY for Christ’s Sakes and he talks like an extra from the UPN … Seacrest is a modern day Dick Clark, except more vanilla), has brought Paul Abdul back into our living rooms and completely exploits and rips off the “talent” it whores out every night.

That being said, it’s like watching a train wreck. I know that this analogy is completely clichéd, but it’s true. Every week these people totally embarrass themselves and the only person who tells them they suck, Simon (who is a class-A prick) gets booed. It’s a microcosm of America: people get rewarded for sucking and when they are told they stink, the person who tells them that gets heckled and is labeled as the “bad guy”. I don’t know, this culture we’re in loves to coddle its crap, from its entertainers to its president. I think that’s a huge problem that we’re facing and somewhere along the line we just lost our way.

Ok. I’m off my soapbox.

So I sort of watch that, which means I sort of watch it on Wednesday nights too. After I take a shower to wash the slime of AI off, (and I have to remind myself to watch the show ironically), I settle in for a nice night of “South Park”. In the early part of this century, I thought that SP had completely lost their fast ball and was going to be this century’s version of “Ren and Stimpy”, brilliant in its originality, but ultimately a flame out.

I was just sick of the over saturation of the brand (and I fell for it when it first came out) and I thought the focus was on the merchandising rather than the writing. Then after a year or so of railing against the Comedy Central machine (and especially creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker), I started to watch it again after my buddy Brad Parker told me that it had gotten better. I’m glad I did because for the past few years, it has rebounded quite nicely. We’re in the midst of the newest season and I can honestly say that now that “Arrested Development” is off the air, there is no better show that constantly satirizes American culture like South Park does.

And not only does the show nail the foibles of modern life, but it gets it right in such a way that it genuinely makes you reflect on what’s going on in this oddly shaped country. The other good thing is that both Parker and Stone are playing with F-You money, so they rip everything the same. From Scientology to Christianity to Comedy Central, it’s rip fucking city. I like that. Equal opportunity offenders.

We need that and you know why? Because of shows like “American Idol”. We need people to say, “You know what? You suck and here’s why” and not just have a bunch of whiny complaints, but some real pointed barbs that make us think that we can do better that a C+ is not a good grade, that just because you can stretch a note out like Reed Richards, it does not make you Aretha Franklin. Yes, mindless entertainment does have it’s purpose, but it doesn’t have to crawl into every single show, movie, story and song.

Yes, there are a lot of idiots in this place, don’t pander to them. Focus on the intelligencia and hope that the morons can keep up. Is that too damn hard to do? Fuck, how did I get on this soap box again?

Speaking of morons, my Thursday night begins with as it has since 2000, with “Survivor”. Quite frankly, this seasons sucks (this has to be a record for the most times I’ve used the word “sucks” and I should probably thinking of buying a Thesaurus) and even after 10 weeks, I’m not sure if I can tell you all of the castaways’ names. I can give you a general description of them:

- Old crazy Hawaiian guy
- Old guy with the immunity idol
- Crazy young chick
- Chick with big cans and the Sox hat
- Older chick who’s the immunity idol dude’s side kick
- Quiet, big black woman
- Bat-shit insane guy
- Jeff Probst

I think that’s it, but to be honest with you I think I’m missing a pretty boy in there. In any event, these dudes are not sticking with me. Last week I watched the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes. The rest of the time I was channel surfing or getting into an argument with my lovely wife (which was quickly resolved).

The problem isn’t the game itself, it constantly changes and updates itself to be tougher and more unpredictable than the previous season, it’s just the cast. After ten seasons (I think) we’ve had about 150 different cast members who do the same exact thing year after year after year. If you don’t have a person who’s a true original, despite being a total scumbag Johnny Fairplay was brilliant, than the show is not going to work. And it doesn’t matter if that person is a “good” guy or a “bad” guy.

Charisma is the oil in this show’s engine and they are in bad need of an oil change.

The last two shows are my favorite hour of television each week. First we start off with “My Name is Earl” starring Jason Lee. It’s like a mini-morality each week without being totally preachy. And although the running theme of the show is karma, the overall “Golden Rule” of just being a good person is universal.

The thing is, this is a show that can be a one-trick pony: Earl has to right a wrong, he does it, hilarity ensues. Yet it’s not. Each week the show manages to stay different and with Randy and Crabman in the scenes, you know that it’s going to be funny. Jamie Pressley is a chick I can’t figure out though, I mean she’s legitimately hot, but there is something to her that doesn’t make her a complete knock out. I can’t figure out what it is, though someone once said she looked like a lizard, but I’m not sure. She has a very weird dynamic to her.

After Earl, it’s “The Office”. I love this show. Absolutely love it, and Aly does too which is weird because both of our senses of humor don’t always jibe. I’ve never gotten into the British version of the show, but I hear it’s just as hilarious. In this case, I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t go into the show with research because I’d be forever comparing it with the original.

What makes this show so great? Let’s start off with the casting, Steve Carell is perfect as Mike, the incompetent office manager of Dunder Mifflin. He brings enough edge to the guy that just when you think that he’s the most detestable human being on the planet, he does something human to make you think, “Hey, he’s not so bad.” Just a top-notch job.

Full disclosure right now, I am using the names of the characters because I don’t feel like looking up their real names (I know, a C+ is not a good grade, but I’m fucking starving).

Jim and Pam are among the best things on the show, but it could also sink the show. They play the pseudo office couple that you just hope gets together and live happily ever after. The one problem is Pam is engaged, yet it’s obvious that she is not happy with this situation and likes Jim. I am begging the writers of the show, literally begging them not to do a Ross/Rachel, Sam/Diane, Wilber/Mr. Ed thing and have them fuck or get married or whatever. It will destroy the show. Just kill it. Don’t do it. I have a feeling that they’re smart enough not to do it, but when the networks start making demands, they might have to.

The background characters are pretty awesome too. Just a tremendous ensemble show that hasn’t been seen since the heyday of “Newsradio”. Hopefully NBC won’t fuck around with this.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Listen Homeboys Don’t Mean to Bust Your Bubble

"But girlies of the world ain’t nothin’ but trouble.
So the next time a girl gives you some play,
Just remember my rhyme and stay the hell away."

Thanks to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince for the inspiration for this Blog title. There will be no thanks to Ice Cream Tee who provided the B-side “Guys Ain’t Nothin’ But Trouble” on side-B of the seminal DJJ and TFP album, “Rock Tha House”. She was a sucker MC who sucked.

If Will Smith never married Jada Pinkett and if this rhyme was juxtaposed with some of his notorious scenes from “Six Degrees of Separation” (which was actually a really good movie), Big Willy Style could take on a whole new meaning. But enough about him, let’s talk about the subject that brings us together on this beautiful April day, Room 19 Comics.

This week’s strip brings to light one of the best day of the year, Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. Gone are the threats of snow, the cold and the long dreary nights of nothing to watch at 7:05. Baseball is back, and when your team is a bonafide contender like the Sox are, then all is right with the world.

Want to check it out, click here:

Much like Eddie, I too have a ritual that I perform before every season opener. It’s called Hot Dog Day, and it’s basically what it sounds. I spend the entire day before OD reading the Globe Baseball Preview, the Sports Illustrated preview, I boil up three Fenway Franks, slather on some Goulden’s mustard, get a bag of chips and wash them all down with a couple of beers. I usually eat the food while watching the premiere of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. I never let anything get in the way of this day, some times friends ask me to go to a bar to watch the game, but I never waver.

Kind of geeky? Definitely. But, that’s the way I am about baseball, especially the beginning of the season where the anticipation is often more fun than the season itself. It’s not just the games (which admittedly is a huge portion), but it’s all about what new parks are you going to see this year, where are you going for your vacation, it’s just the whole summer vibe. That’s why people (especially in the Northeast) look forward to baseball and Opening Day.

Like I was beginning to say, Eddie has entire day mapped out. He’s got his dogs, his brews and a seat in front of the tube. All of a sudden the phone rings and it’s a woman (nine times out of ten, I have found this to be true) and she chews his ear off for the entire game. An exaggeration, most definitely, but it has happened before … we’ve all lived it.

The few things that I like about this strip are: technically it’s a much better strip than the first few ones that I did. Look at the spacing between the panels and the straight, dark lines separating them. It’s a small, nit-picky thing, but shitty fundamentals can ruin the strip. If anything, this has come a long way since the beginning.

I am really partial to the second panel. Originally I was going to have Kurt yell out that Eddie has a phone call, but I feel that this works much better. It gives it a more comic-y type feel, especially with the word “Ring” leaving the panel. I also like the banal conversation in the background of Ed. He looks nervous in the third panel (I think that he knows where this is headed) and by the fourth looks completely worn out and disappointed.

Is this strip sexist? Yeah. It probably is, but I think that it’s still pretty funny and the art is some of the best that I’ve done in a while.

Aside from this week’s strip, it’s been pretty boring around Casa Magrane, though it’s going to get busy in a hurry. Aly has the marathon on Monday, and you have no idea about how proud of her I am. I can’t believe that someone I am so close with is going to do this. And I know that 20,000 plus run this thing each year, but it’s a completely different experience when someone you live with is doing it.

Hell, Nick and Debbie have done probably about 20 marathons combined, quick aside – if you’re in Copley or East Boston look for this billboard:

That’s Nick proposing to Debbie last year at the end of the marathon. Adidas has used it for their advertisements promoting the race this year. To continue with my point, those two have done it tons of times and I knew how much work it took, but I didn’t really know. Aly has opened my eyes to the amount of work and preparation, it’s not just the running either, that it takes to do this thing. Getting up early, going to bed early, eating correctly, busted up feet and ankles, the ever present smell of Icy-Hot and Tiger Balm, the mountains of sweaty and smelly clothes … there’s a lot of stuff here that you don’t think about.

And Aly has gone through it all. I am more proud of her than I could even imagine. I can’t wait to see her on Monday at the finish line. It’s going to be awesome.

BTW, do you think in some Scandinavian countries, the term “Finish Line” is changed? Norwegian Line in Norway, Sweedish Line in Sweeden, German Line in Denmark (the Dutch are pussies). Ok, bad Seinfeld-era joke.

In addition to the marathon; I’ve got a huge project in school that I’m finishing up, a freelance web site job, thoughts about completely redoing the Room 19 Comics site, regular work and the comic strip. It’s a lot. But it’s nothing compared to running 26.2 miles. I just have to remember that.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Belated Part Two of What I Watch

So, the last time we were talking about TV, I was writing about what I watched on Sunday night. There were a few shows that I failed to mention.

One is “King of the Hill”, which has been renewed for its 11th season. That ties the show with “Married … With Children” as the second longest running program on FOX. That blows me away, mainly because I thought when it was first introduced FOX was just hoping to catch lightning in a bottle by getting the guy who wrote “Bevis and Butthead” to do a show for them.

And when I watched the first episode, I thought it was country-fried version of Anderson, the slow-witted neighbor that B and B used to torment. Turns out I was completely wrong. You don’t see the kind of sustained character growth that occurs in KOTH in many sitcoms, much less cartoon ones, but this show has it in spades. And the good thing about it is, it’s not cheesy character growth either.

For example, in “The Simpsons” one can argue that Homer has actually devolved over the years instead of evolving. Not so with the KOTH characters, they have done something that is extremely difficult to quantify, but it’s there. Namely they’ve changed without changing. What I mean by that is that the characters are recognizable from the first season to the tenth, but they aren’t stagnant.

One example is Bobby. From the first couple of seasons he was a fat, lazy kid with no real motivation. Now he is still fat and sort of lazy, but he has a motivation. He sort of found himself and his calling in life. I know that it sounds really dopey to be waxing philosophical about a show such as this, but I really feel that it is the subtleties and nuances of this program that makes it special and has kept it going for more than a decade.

And another thing about this show is that even though it is set in a boring, Walmartesque town that could be anywhere in the Red States, all of the problems and plots are handled with a certain amount of gravity that while it doesn’t take itself too seriously, doesn’t short change the audience either. The writers care about these characters and in turn, the audience does too.

I just started watching this other show, which is why I didn’t really talk about it in the previous entry. The show is called “Big Love” and it’s on after “The Sopranos” on HBO. Aly was the one that got me into this program and for awhile I wasn’t really liking it. There are too many characters, too many over-the-top plots, too much crap going on and Bill Paxton’s naked ass.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically about a dude with three wives living in Utah. One of his father-in-laws is the head of a polygamous Mormon cult (that HBO is very careful to say aren’t typical Mormons) that hides in the Utah desert, his wives constantly bicker with each other over trivial jealousies and he owns a chain of Home Depot-like stores (in which his FIL is trying to take a 20% tithe). He also has a gang of kids, one of which I think that one of Paxton’s wife has a crush on and another is the really dumb chick from “Mean Girls” (so that’s not too bad). Oh yeah, George Costanza’s mother-in-law plays Paxton’s whacked-out mom, so that’s funny just to see her.

There’s a lot of shit going on and I think the first couple of episodes were done at a frantic pace because they had to set the groundwork for the upcoming season. Since then, it has slowed down a bit and the plots are beginning to unfold at a more leisurely pace. And since that has occurred, it has been a more enjoyable show to follow. Though there aren’t a lot of characters I’m rooting for, or that I particularly like, I’m going to continue to watch.

The only show that I watch on Mondays, is by far one of the best show on television right now. “24”. If you aren’t watching this show, then you are missing out big time on what has proven to be a weekly mini-movie. I was reading some comments on the show and someone hit the nail right on the head when they wrote that we (as an audience) sometimes take the effects for granted week in and week out. For example, last week an entire gas plant exploded. When was the last you saw that on television? That’s like the last scene of a summer block buster. And on “24” it was 15th hour.

Yes, the twists can be cheesy and there are some plot holes that you can drive a Mack truck through, but it’s an enjoyable show made even more so by the commitment of the actors. While easy to camp up and make kitschy, each actor plays their role with such sincerity and believability, that as a viewer, you have to take it seriously.

And Kiefer Sutherland is Jack Bauer for now until the day he dies, that’s all there is to it. And Mary Lynn Rajskub is going to be Chloe, Louis Lombardi is going to be Edgar and Dennis Haybert has shed his Pedro Serano character from “Major Leagues” and will always be the greatest President of all time, David Palmer.

Each week I am on the edge of my seat wondering what the hell is going to happen next and each week, the show delivers. Eventually, it’s going to wane … I know that, but for now, it’s a hell of a ride. And there are plans to release a “24” movie in 2008. Maybe I’ll start waiting in line now.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Urine Love

Just like the RATT song, and you read that right, buck-o, I made a pun on a RATT song. The one good thing about this title is that maybe more people will immediately go to the comic strip site when they start Googling things like “Water Sports” or “Yellow Punishment”. As I was telling my good buddy Ryan the other day, I need more degenerates on this site.

Anyway, this week’s strip is actually a pet peeve of mine. Not to go Jerry Seinfeld on you, but what’s the deal with these people. Women, you’re lucky, you never have to worry about this type of crap. You go into your little stalls and you do your business in peace. Men have to worry about these asswipes that get all Chatty Charlie on you the minute you pull out the L’il General.

Why? Why are you bothering me with the most mundane, boring conversations while I’m trying to pee. And look at the verb in the last sentence, trying. Sure, after about six or seven beers, the flood gates are open, but that’s not always happening. And the diatribes against Johnny Damon, ain’t making it any easier.

If you are new to the Blog and have zero clue what I’m talking about, you can check out my comic strip here:

As far as the general art of this week’s strip, I think that it came out pretty good. In the first panel, I had a bit of a problem with Eddie’s perspective. I think that I made the lower part of his body a little big for the top portion. But other than that, I think that it works. The weird thing is, Kurt usually is the easiest character for me to draw, but this week it took me a few times per figure to get him the way that I wanted. I have no idea why, maybe it was because I haven’t drawn him in a few weeks.

Like the last comic with Eddie and the gang, the second panel is a dream sequence … or in this case a flashback. I had a bit more detail in the background of this panel, but it didn’t look right for the feel of this strip. Other than the hippo on Kurt’s shirt, which was inspired by Hungry, Hungry Hippos. I’m sure you can figure out just about everything else in the strip.

Sorry for the short entry, but I really feel like shit right now. If I have time on Friday, I’ll post a new entry.