A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Saturday, August 30, 2003


This week has been hell for trying to get work done. I’ve spent four nights on Gravitation vol. 6 and I am starting this morning only on page 66. That’s pathetic. Thursday night I tried working while watching the VMAs, which I figured would make both less painful, but ended up talking with my friend Ben Holcomb on the phone for nearly two hours instead. Last night, I worked while watching a music DVD (Destiny’s Child, as referenced in yesterday’s entry). I can’t really work with a movie or TV on that has any plot, as I don’t really end up seeing much of the program or getting much writing under my belt. I envy people who can do that. So, this was an experiment—and I don’t think it worked. It’s hard to judge, since I’ve been having massive computer problems, and I crashed a lot last night—but I don’t have many pages to show for my efforts and though the Destiny's music was good, I hardly remember any of the visuals.

By the way, in volume 6, Shuichi gets a new haircut and it kind of makes him look like Chynna Clugston-Major. Which is funny, because I always fantasize about her being a teenaged boy…

Which is which?

Trying out a new band on the headphones right now. The Darkness. Know nothing about them, except that their lead singer seems to enjoy a frock or two. The album is Permission to Land, and I am really not sure what the hell is going on. You ever see Jim Breuer do Gunner Olsen, the heavy metal dude on the news on Saturday Night Live when Colin Quinn was the anchor? Well, you’d almost swear that guy got a band together. The dude can fuckin’ sing, that's for sure. I can practically feel my own balls suck up into my body cavity every time he hits a soaring high note and holds it for a whole line—but Jesus, what next? Are Rainbow going to reform? (I say that knowing full well they may be on tour right now—with Ronnie James Dio even—though the trend seems to be has-been bands touring without their egomaniac lead singer.) I mean, the second track on this Darkness album is called “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” and not to sound like a redneck or anything, but unless the dude was talking about himself, it wasn’t very convincing.

No dress, but what is with those pants?

Then again, I bet a lot of Portland hipsters would love them. They can sit in old man bars drinking PBR and talk about the Campaign for Real Rock. *shudder*

Best lines of today’s work: “And my dream is to be a novelist? How gloomy can you get? You’ll never get girls that way.” (Eiri Yuki)

Current Soundtrack: Aflie, Alfie radio, Edwyn Collins Doctor Syntax


Friday, August 29, 2003


Wednesday night I went and saw the film version of American Splendor, the creative adaptation of Harvey Pekar’s seminal autobiographical comic.

I enjoyed it quite a lot. I wouldn’t have much to complain about, really. Just the standard complaint I have with the biopic genre. You often feel a little shortchanged when someone tries to encapsulate a life in somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes. In this case, by the time we get to the early ‘90s, and the time chronicled in the Our Cancer Year graphic novel (which I just read last week), the film has been going on for some time, and though a very important and dramatic time in Pekar’s life, it rockets right by on the screen.

Where the film triumphs is with style. The filmmakers approached the American Splendor source material with a relatively reverential eye and put a lot of thought into how to transfer this unique book to the cinema. Pekar doesn’t offer conventional narratives in American Splendor. He isn’t a plot-driven writer. His focus is on the mundane, on the minutiae of his life. In the pivotal scene in the film, where Pekar is realizing that the comic books he likes so much can actually be a viable mode of expression for him, he is in a typically American Splendor situation—in a supermarket trying to decide which checkout line will be the fastest. In a stroke of genius, the moments freeze, and Harvey (played by Paul Giamatti) has his thoughts materialize in thought balloons. In the very next scene, he sits down and begins to script his first comic—and it’s about choosing a line in a supermarket. It’s a visual representation in the shift in his life, and is probably the most important scene in the film. Not only does it set the course of the rest of Pekar’s life, but firmly establishes that this film isn’t so much about a man who writes a comic, but about a man who decides that his life is a story, and in the end, about story itself and the layers of narrative that naturally form in this kind of situation.

Really, American Splendor is a logical extension of Adaptation. It’s what Charlie Kaufman was striving for—taking something that reflects real life and making it into a viable film without destroying the things that make it work in the first place. The credits sequence establishes it all. Shifting from your standard movie frame, the screen becomes a page of a comic book. There are live action panels (featuring Giamatti and shots of Cleveland, as well as substituting captions with the participant’s names) alternating with drawn panels (featuring Pekar explaining who he is, entirely in word balloons, and often, as he explains, by different artists). Thus we are introduced to two of three of our narrative threads: the film version of Pekar and the comic version of Pekar. As the real Harvey takes over the narration for the drawn Harvey, speaking in voice over, we are ushered into the third thread—quickly revealed as the man himself working on a movie set. We literally cut to him sitting in front of a microphone, reading from a script.

Throughout the film, the three threads will develop on their own, but intertwine endlessly until they begin to blur. Movie Pekar is creating the life of Comic Book Pekar, but Real Life Pekar is actually creating Movie Pekar. Comic Book Pekar intrudes on Movie Pekar, such as in the grocery store scene, or the ever present captions that establish new settings. Real Life Pekar also intrudes on Movie Pekar. Beyond getting his own scenes, when comic book captions aren’t narrating Movie Pekar’s life, the Real Life Pekar is. He also shows up as his real self when Movie Pekar goes on David Letterman’s show. We don’t see recreated footage, we see the real footage from the ‘80s.

Though, actually, we do get one recreation, when Harvey has his last appearance on the show and thrusts his own agenda onto it, tossing the program into chaos. I imagine one of the reasons for this choice was so that the camera could go behind the participants and see the bewildered audience. But one also has to wonder if they were barred from using this footage, and I wish that they would have addressed it, had Real Life Pekar actually comment on what’s going down. (Similarly, one can’t help but wonder how Frank Stack, artist for Our Cancer Year, became a guy named Fred.)

Perhaps the most effective head-on collision of two of the threads comes when, following a scene between Movie Pekar and his friend Movie Toby, the action stops and the two actors step off the set where the Real Life Pekar and Real Life Toby are waiting. Both actors sit in the background while the two people they are playing have a seemingly unscripted conversation in the foreground.

Toby is a fairly unbelievable character (in a pure character sense). This “genuine nerd,” who I remember as a TV celebrity from when I was a teenager, is one of those people that proves truth is stranger than fiction. A lot of the people Pekar gravitates to are. If they had tried to just portray Toby and not show us the real person, we as an audience may have rejected him as an exaggeration. He would seem over-the-top as a work of fiction, so the documentary element adds an air of credibility to the film. It also proves important for when one of the film’s themes emerges. Ultimately, the riddle of the film is what is the truth, which story dominates. Movie Harvey is confronted by a fan who knows him from Letterman, who only sees him as a performing monkey on TV. Similarly, when Harvey is courting his future wife on the phone, she asks which artist’s rendition of him is most truly him. And in an added Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead-level layer, Harvey and his wife, Joyce, relive their first date by watching a stage version of it. (Too bad the film didn’t get Dan Castellaneta in to reprise his role as Pekar, but then they seem to be belittling the play, and that might have turned him off.) Things come to a head in a scene straight out of Our Cancer Year, when Pekar enters a delusional state while undergoing chemotherapy, and asks aloud if he is a man who writes a comic book about his life, or merely a character in that comic book—the added irony being that Paul Giamatti is neither.

The penultimate section of the film is a monologue delivered by Movie Harvey, on a completely abstracted set, discussing how there have been other Harvey Pekar’s in the Cleveland phone book, and asking, “Who are these Harvey Pekars?” It’s from here that we go into the closing of the film—Harvey’s life post-Cancer, with an adopted daughter (whom he encourages to writer about her own life) and his wife (who already is writing about her own life, as well as journalistic comics (comics about other people’s lives)), ready to keep chipping away at existence. The last bits are with Real Life Harvey. He is the answer to his own question. He is a man chronicling his being while being hopelessly entangled in story.

For me, though, there is even another layer. I was an assistant editor on several American Splendor projects when I worked at Dark Horse. I spoke to Pekar on the phone quite often and had dinner with him once. In a late scene where the real Harvey and Joyce are signing their book, many of the comics I worked on are on display behind them, their covers staring out at me (they’re terrible covers…ugh, hate those). The story is much wider for me, encompassing the things I know. I can’t help but view things with my own impressions, extrapolate, add to the narrative. Again, if we take it back to Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, I remember in the movie of that there being a scene where the characters sit behind an actor watching puppets perform a play starring them all. There are four levels of performance, three of them audience, one of them us, sitting in the theatre.

Current Soundtrack: Destiny’s Child, World Tour DVD


Friday, August 22, 2003


I finished up volume 2 of the unnamed manga last night and sent it off. I actually completed the rewrite on Tuesday, but only got back to the proofreading last night—and had to finish it after seeing Steve Birch’s band Audio Learning Center. Munching on chips at 2:30 in the morning, trying to figure out new ways to say “breasts.” Should have just popped in Coupling, the episode where Jeff rattles off a ton of euphemisms to the Israeli woman. (I went with “casabas,” hearkening back to a melon reference early in the book.) (In actuality, this line of writing is a lie, since last night while proofreading, that didn’t come up at all, since the word "casbas" was there from the first rewrite. The reality of it is very boring, and I am very bleary eyed right now—so I fib for the sake of being remotely interesting.) (Hmmm...me bleary eyed. There is a TV show somewhere in there. Me, without enough sleep, wandering into someone's house and telling them they're shit. Bleary Eye for the Shit Guy. Ooooh.) (I'm sure the internet is rampant with similar jokes. ____ Eye for the ____ Guy. I know.)

Funny, though, to be this far along and the book isn’t even announced (though I am told hints were made at some licensing show or other). The lag time between the work and the finished project can feel insanely long, even for comics. I have done five volumes of Gravitation, and am about to start the sixth, and my editor has only just written me to laugh at a joke from volume 2.

I’m actually anxious for some kind of reaction to the first Gravitation. I know it’s in bookstores, but I am not sure it has hit comics shops. I am curious if fans of the original manga want me dead for all the Western musical references I have made. But then I’d also love to see a whole separate cult audience that is into mopey ‘80s bands. I dropped a line to the lead Morrissey website to see if they’d do a news item on it (they had a blurb on the fact that Moz was mentioned in Uptown Girls, for goodness sake).

Finally, for anyone not on the Oni board, J. Torres and Comic Book Resources have started their Comic Book Idol competition, of which I am a judge. Lovely Torres has created another opportunity for comic book fans to tell professionals how to do their jobs. Thanks, J. But if you want to watch the amusing dramas unfold, check out their message board. First round of judging is done, and the next round is coming up, and the peanut gallery is gab gab gabbing.

Current Soundtrack: Martina Topley-Bird, Quixotic


Monday, August 18, 2003


The previous night’s excellent gyro was followed by an equally excellent Saturday morning eggs benedict. Food is good for the old and chubby.

In a fortuitous happenstance, our trip coincided with an exhibit on Indian and Pakistani art at the Seattle Art Museum. Rebecca studies Asian art, so this was perfect for her, and since she works at the Portland Art Museum, we were able to get in as part of the two institution’s reciprocal program. Some of the paintings dated back to the 16th century and they all came from the collection of one man, which is pretty amazing to think about. Many of them were done on small pieces of paper, put together as parts of albums, and often depicted famous stories from Indian culture—meaning lots of Krishna and Shiva and other important figures. They ranged from the romantic to the grotesque, and were full of vivid colors. There was also a much more obvious thread through time than in most Western cultures. It was easy to see how each generation informed the next, and they even had a side exhibit with two artists who were keeping tradition alive.

The opening act, Kenna, was awful—proving you can be produced by half the Neptunes and still sound like shit. I had heard his album over a year ago and declared him a poor Depeche Mode wannabe then—and said record has only just come out. The main problem is he has no variety to his presentation, vocally or musically. There are no peaks or valleys. He sings everything straight across. And his sincerity is overblown, leading him into bad poetry—as evidenced by his heartfelt story regarding the girl who had told him his song “Love Hate Situation” had inspired her to quit heroin. Rebecca wondered if she started heroin, if that would negate that good he had supposedly done. I said it would.

Coming out on his first solo tour for his first solo album, Paper Monsters, Gahan seemed ready to indulge in all of his rock star fantasies that years of being on stage with synthesizers and giant tape machines haven’t allowed. Not that he hasn’t been the peacock of Depeche Mode all along—it’s just now he got to do a “real” rock show, with a “real” rock band, and there would be no screaming for Martin Gore or anyone else. Just him. So, he followed the four piece in his signature suit pants and vest (which lasted maybe one song), opening with the awesome “Hidden Houses,” a song I never really paid much attention to on Paper Monsters, but that really came to life in this setting—while ironically, my favorite of his solo work, “Hold On,” seemed to lose some of its gentleness in the #2 slot. Right from the get-go, too, it was clear Gahan was going to let every impulse for audience participation be fulfilled. He’s always been known for the singalong (think the fantastic “Everything Counts” from Depeche Mode 101) and the “let me see your hands” arena rock gesture—and he wasted no time getting into that here. In fact, it came off as arrogant at first, expecting that everyone would be able to join in on the solo stuff—except they all could. Shows what I know. Still, was it really too much to ask for him to sing the title line from “Dirty Sticky Floors” at least once? It was his lead single, after all.

The bulk of the main set was from Paper Monsters. In fact, I think he played the whole album (though “Black & Blue Again” could have been skipped, as he weighted it down with harmonica and a little too much jamming). The fourth song was the first of seven from Depeche Mode, and it was instantly clear that Paper Monsters doesn’t cut the mustard when shoved up against his original band’s compositions. “A Question of Time” completely rocked, and it wasn’t just Dave onstage—shirtless and sweating, spinning around and doing his high kicks—it was the audience, too. As much as they hung on his every word, no matter the number, the surge of energy that came with a DM tune was immediately palpable.

The show really kicked into high gear, though, when Gahan laid into his second Depeche Mode number, “Walking in My Shoes.” He kept the energy on high after that, following with “I Need You” and “Bottle Living” from his own album, and capped by “Personal Jesus,” always the biggest audience participation number—with the majority of the crowd raising their hands in a symbolic reaching out to touch faith. Interesting that the set ended on a darker song, then—but “Goodbye” was one of the best things off of Paper Monsters when it came to the live setting. In fact, the slower numbers all took on more girth with the live band, especially “A Little Piece.”

Encore #1 was a stormer. “I Feel You” was a no-brainer when it came to guessing what Gahan would pull from the DM catalogue. The heavy rock riffs were tailor-made for Gahan Mk. II, the rock ‘n’ roll animal that nearly destroyed himself and the band in the mid-‘90s. He followed with “Never Let Me Down Again,” still one of the best DM singles. The keyboard player gave the main piano hook a more bluesy, deep sound.

On any given night, that encore would have been enough, but the band returned to perform another quick medley in a stripped down set. Playing a tiny organ, a halved drum kit, acoustic guitar, and stand-up bass, they crowded to the center stage while Gahan strutted through “Policy of Truth” and a fabulous “Enjoy the Silence” that segued into the first verse and chorus of “Just Can’t Get Enough” at the bridge. As a long-time fan, this was a real treat. It’s rare to hear the songs reinterpreted in such drastic ways (they recalled “Love In Itself 4” more than, say, the acoustic “Personal Jesus” or harmonium “Enjoy the Silence”).

Say what you want about Depeche Mode, or a lead singer having the hubris to go solo, but Gahan still knows how to command an audience. Part of it is not forgetting they are there. He had no problem plunging his hands into the crowd to shake a few. He even brought one girl on stage to dance with him during the start of the second encore. Perhaps the biggest testament to his stage presence was that Rebecca, who doesn’t know her DM from her OMD or even her ODB, was suitably impressed. Before the show she had asked if it was okay if she went and read in the bar if she didn’t like it; she stayed through the whole thing.

As an added bonus (if you want to call it that), we got a second show throughout Gahan’s set—the rather attractive and leggy blonde in the row in front of us who was rubbing herself and her feather boa all over her date through the entire show. She was clearly turned on by the performance, and she was going to take it all out on her companion. Eventually, he sat down for a while, and we debated whether he was just tired out from blue balls, or if he had accidentally gotten a little too happy in his pants and had to recharge. At that point, the girl—being a terrible tease—did turn around and stick her tongue out at him, and it seemed like it pissed him off a little. He looked like a guy out of a porno—a big dude with a flat, brick-wall nose (think Darwyn Cooke’s version of Slam Bradley), ears pierced with big gold hoops, and bleached blonde hair gelled down. I am glad I couldn’t here his pornstar grunting.

All in all, it was a packed weekend, with very little to disappoint. It was relaxing and got me away from work and other pressures—and it was two shows I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. I have no clever ending to tie it all up—except maybe to point out I had a bad processed chicken sandwich on the train, since the guy in front of me who looked like Wilford Brimley got the last pre-cooked hamburger. Could it have been downhill the whole way home?

Current Soundtrack: Kelis w/ P. Diddy & Richard X; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, The Good Son; The Primitives, Lovely


Sunday, August 17, 2003


Friday afternoon, Rebecca and I boarded a train for Seattle. We had been looking forward to this weekend all summer. Bjork was playing on the pier in Seattle that night, and we were going to see Dave Gahan at the Paramount on Saturday. We’d also visit my friend Christopher, who lives up there.

The train is a really pleasant way to travel. It’s pretty smooth and effortless. They’ve even taken to showing movies onboard, and while Holes certainly isn’t a masterpiece, it was light enough to be a nice travel companion, and quirky enough to also stimulate the brain a little. I liked the structure of the past playing against the present, and while the seams were a little too cleanly sewn, there were some pretty clever ideas overall.

Seattle itself was sunny, but not nearly as hot as Portland has been the past couple of weeks. We walked from the station to the center of downtown to meet Christopher. He chose a Starbucks as our place to hook up, but of course, there were two Starbucks on the same block, so we had to cross our fingers we chose the right one (we did). We also grabbed a Seattle Weekly to see who was opening for Bjork, and to our surprise, it was Bonnie “Prince” Billy. This couldn’t have been more perfect. Will Oldham, the man who goes under the BPB name, is Rebecca’s favorite songwriter. His dark country is a bit of an acquired taste at times, but even I enjoy him under this moniker (particularly the I See A Darkness and Master & Everyone records). We had tried to see him a couple of days after Rebecca got back from China, when he was doing an in-store in Portland, only to be barred from the performance because it was too overcrowded. Actually, we weren’t barred—we decided we didn’t want to be crammed in there with a bunch of hipsters. We’re snotty that way.

Now, when I say the show was on the pier, I mean literally it was on the pier. Right next to the Aquarium, right on the edge of the water. So it was a gorgeous night, full of clouds and waves off in the distance, and the occasional mast of a boat passing by in the background. You would have hoped a tranquil environment like that would have put the mob in an equally tranquil mood, but the usual crowding in and lack of respect for personal space prevailed. I mean, really, what is the point? It’s not like everyone was pushed against the walls and crammed into every corner. Would it hurt us all to take a step away from one another?

Will Oldham wandered onstage around 7:30. It was just him and an autoharp and a wide-open microphone. He’s a thin man, barely there. The most substantial part of his person is the wide, blonde beard and wild hair. I am sure most of the people in the audience thought he was some homeless person that wandered in off the street. He opened with the lead track from Master & Everyone, “The Way.” While there is a gorgeous, gentle arrangement on the recorded version, this live rendition was sparse, yet still beautiful. Oldham’s voice has a tremble to it, and it brings a vulnerability to the melancholy love song. He followed with various tunes from throughout the various incarnations of his career, including the title track from Master & Everyone and rarity “Little Boy Blue.” He closed with the amazing “I See A Darkness,” one of my faves (and known by many as a Johnny Cash song, since the man in black covered it on American III.

Bjork came on about half an hour later. She had an eight-piece orchestra, a multi-instrumentalist (harp, harpsichord, accordion, chimes), and the Matmos duo on the electronic squelches and squirts. The sun was almost completely set, the wind was blowing in off the water—it couldn’t have been more idyllic. Bjork emerged in a fluffy pink dress. She looked like some kind of pastry--one with too much frosting--including a tall eruption of black taffeta on her left shoulder that kept her from turning her head much until she ripped it off three songs into the set. Her hair was a little off, though. It looked as if she had time to get one side of it cut, but not the whole thing. It kept bugging me. (See image.)

The evening’s set pulled primarily from Homogenic and Vespertine, as well as a lot of songs I didn’t recognize (and so I presume are new). Many of the songs, like “Hunter” and recent single “It’s In Our Hands,” were remix versions, too, and barely recognizable. The oldest song she did was “The Modern Things” off Post.

My favorite number had to be “Joga,” though. Bjork didn’t do anything with the arrangement, she left it just the way it is—but her voice was so clear and powerful, amazing with the strings backing it up, it was a transcendent moment. Visual highlight of the night had to come later in the night, during a new song, when the backdrop featured what looked like fish in a fishtank, but that turned out to be swimming forearms, with the hands acting as tails. (According to a review in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, it was called "Desired Constellation.")

The show was amazing, but did end on a slightly sour note. Bjork left the stage, and after several minutes of the lights being out and the audience clapping and cheering—and the roadies seemingly rechecking all the equipment—the venue put the house lights up and cued the taped exit music. It appeared that an encore was planned, but scrapped at the last minute for some unknown reason. (Again, the Seattle paper reports the songs were to have been "Human Behavior," "You've Been Flirting Again," and "Isobel.") Any bruised feelings were slightly soothed, though, by an excellent, spicy lamb gyro at a place near the bus stop.

Saturday's report, including the Seattle Art Museum, later.

Current Soundtrack: Rachel’s & Matmos, Full on Night; Morrissey, Maladjusted


Sunday, August 10, 2003


La Notte, a 1961 film by Michelangelo Antonioni, starring Jeanne Moreau (who I have now seen act in three different languages) and Marcelo Mastroianni. Translated as The Night, the film takes place (obviously enough) largely over the course of one night, though we get a build-up of the preceding days to lay some groundwork. Essentially, we have an intellectual writer who feels lost in a desert devoid of inspiration, and his wife, who is living an inner life by his side and is finding she has her own needs to explore. This night is the night it all breaks down. Yet, it's not a breakdown of grand action or histrionics, but in Antonioni style, a slow disintegration. What kept me riveted to this quiet character piece was an understated surreality. The couple does a lot of wandering--together and apart--and everywhere they go they encounter something to see--from the deranged nymphomaniac in the hospital to the bombed out shell of a building (complete with crying child and broken clock), the backlot fist fight to the sensual acrobatics of a nightclub dancer, and finally to a party full of well-to-do, aimless people. At one point early on, when Moreau reacts to Mastroianni's encounter with the aforementioned nympho, she makes a comment that this could be his next book, a story about the living and the dead. This, in many ways, seems to be a key line that applies throughout the film, and depending on who you choose to interpret as being the living beings and the deceased (all metaphorical, of course--The Sixth Sense this is not), it colors your perception of the action. In the first instance, is Mastroianni dead for his inability to influence the action, and the nympho alive in her madness? Or is she dead, confined to her hospital hell, trying to grab onto a living being to get out? (Throughout the film, people seem drawn to our main characters. Like when Moreau breaks up the fist fight, and the winning pugilist follows her lasciviously.) Is the journey overall one through a voyeuristic purgatory, of two spirits trying to decide where they belong? Would Moreau be at home in the decaying slum? Is the opulent estate where the party is being held really another circle in Dante's construction? When Mastroianni is offered a job at the rich benefactor's firm, so he can finally be free and not live off his wife's money, is he really being released from life to join the unfeeling masses, or is he being released from his dead marriage to find himself as a man? Is Moreau finding the strength to live in dissolving the union? Can she even get out? At one point, she runs away with a potential lover, but returns to the party, unable to go through with it. In the end, I would likely argue that she is the one trying to live, when her husband throws himself on her, refusing to let her go--but can we really say, in this world of ambiguity, on which side freedom lies? Perhaps she is a ghost finally accepting the spirit world and attempting to leave for her place in it, and Mastroianni is the loved one that can't let her go. I suppose I could make a decision, but the heart of the piece seems to be in having the freedom to endlessly question, to watch these two amazing actors and let them cast a different spell every time. (I believe I am falling for Moreau. It's impossible to take your eyes off her in La Notte. There is a sadness to her face, a depth to her eyes, that makes it all the more heartwarming when she has the occasional outburst of laughter. As the more inquisitive explorer of the pair, too, she ends up being the stand-in for the viewer.)

l to r: Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti, unidentified, Marcello Mastroianni, Michelangelo Antonioni

Current Soundtrack: Mya, Moodring


Saturday, August 09, 2003


The man across from me has a NY Times and the front page has a huge picture of Bush and his cabinet in casual wear, on their vacation retreat where they will plot more ways to rob us. It occurs to me seeing this that there should be some kind of fashion requirement to be President. A guy who likes a lot of denim and big belt buckles like Shrub would never have made it into office, even with a brother who is governor in Florida, if there was a swimsuit competition. Perhaps California has it right and their current gubernatorial freak show is pointing the way to the future. We all need to be a little more shallow in how we pick our leaders.

Early morning with Simon & Garfunkle (Bridge Over Troubled Water) at Starbucks. Listening to them a lot lately, via a box set of their albums gifted to me by the Bendises last year…and as Joe Nozemack once said (I paraphrase), when I am in the mood for Simon & Garfunkle, I want a lot of Simon & Garfunkle. Of course, the spring in my step on the way here was Relaxed Muscle’s “Billy Jack,” which is just a corker. God bless Jarvis Cocker.

I guess this is the unfocused 8:19 a.m. update (the document I type these in when away, to be uploaded later, is “Remote Confessions,” for those who might find that interesting). I wasn’t planning to work today, but I spent an unfocused night where I couldn’t find a path and just watched a lot of Simpsons on DVD (the last disc of season 2 is exceptional) and woke up not wanting to get in the same groove. I started the still unnamed manga’s second volume two nights ago, and figured I’d at least leave the house and cover another chapter of that. Strangely, was recognized by a new barista here who knew me from about nine years ago when we went to the same (now defunct) comic book shop. I was like, “Oh, yeah, you had funky hair back then…and of course, so did I.” Now she must be of college age, maybe just out…dunno. She was a teenager then, and a friend of the owner (who I knew), and I give props to her memory for seeing through my old man disguise. I think you do more growing up physically heading into your thirties then you do heading into your twenties. All of you young’uns looking to leave adolescence and see your bodies stop changing…guess what?! It ain’t over yet. I think you’ll particularly enjoy your body’s new and surprising places to give you hair.

Troubled dreams lately. Friday morning I escaped someone from my past giving me a message. Nothing like waking up just before, and that “oh no” feeling quickly morphing to, “I bet I didn’t want to hear it anyway.” And this morning being sucked into someone else’s life on the lam, and then having to figure out how to bluff my way through her being pinched for shoplifting something that I couldn't figure out what it was. You haven’t dreamed until you’ve heard yourself say to an Asian convenience store owner, “What’s it going to take to make this go away?”

I just deleted a “just” from two paragraphs above, and then nullified it by having “just” be the second word of this sentence. Cocksucker!

9:26 and still no thread.

The small snippet in the last entry turned into 2,644 words of The Everlasting, for those keeping track. And I despite my rambling here, I did get 40 script pages (two chapters) done by 10:11 today. It was a bit weird, because secret manga can be a bit racy…and with the book propped up on the table, you never know what people might think I am doing with a comic with boobies and laptop!

They call me Jamie Driver. I wonder how your engines feel?

Current Soundtrack: Massive Attack, “Butterfly Caught” single; Super Furry Animals, Phantom Power; & The Housemartins, London 0 Hull 4


Tuesday, August 05, 2003


Did some scribbling this morning. The beginning of an Everlasting chapter, perhaps on the way to the end of things with Ashley. No more than a quick draft right now, presented with typos and all:

Lance could smell the man long after he passed. Perhaps it was the contact, it had left his scent behind—a stale odor, with a dash of cigarettes and what was most likely beer. He had seen the man get on the bus. He was tall and skinny, black, with an Oakland As jersey on. He held his bus transfer impossibly high, making it a grand gesture to show that he was on the vehicle legally.

The man stumbled towards the back of the bus, using the railings along the way, pitching and shifting from one side, one rail, to the other. As he passed Lance—who was sitting by himself in a two-seat aisle, listening to Bookends on headphones—he was between rails. His hand darted from one pole to another, the knuckles on his impossibly long fingers slapping Lance in his right cheek as they passed. The man staggered along, not even aware he had made contact with another person. By the time that Lance could decide whether it would be worth his while or not to protest, it was too late. Mr. Oakland As had settled in the seat all the way to the back.

But his smell stayed. Lance could also still feel the impression of the fingers on his cheek. The presence lingered. Was it the physical contact that connected the stink to him, or did the whole bus smell like this now?

Current Soundtrack: Various Artists, Hope


Friday, August 01, 2003


“Just” is a word I need out of my writing vocabulary. I was proofing some copy for Last Exit Before Toll today and was a bit horrified. For instance: “Charles is left stranded in the middle of nowhere, and it just may be the best thing that ever happened to him. … Newcomer Christopher Mitten’s delicate pencils bring Shaffer’s script to life, giving it just enough of a real world flavor to ground the material, and just enough of an edge to bring the emotional underpinnings of the story to the foreground. It’s all rounded out by Dawn Pietrusko’s digital gray tones.”

It just seems lazy. (Oh, dear, there it is!) And I am always trying to challenge myself to use different words anyway. Nothing bugs me more than a writer who uses the same word to describe the same thing every time. If I could, I’d give an example. But, of course, they all escape me now.

I have actually been working on Gravitation volume 5 for the last three nights. I am a little behind, as it was due today, but Jill at Tokyopop gave me an extension until Monday. I think it’s the first one I have had to ask for, and I asked far enough ahead so that if she said no I could still get it done—and it won’t effect my deadline for 6 that’s in two weeks. So, it’s all clear. Trying to get back on track post con was a bitch. Plus, I hit a lull with volume 4 that made me kind of worry about the series. Odd stuff goes down, and the sexual politics are…well, again, odd. But it gets back on track for 5, and actually gets even better. The storytelling opens up quite a bit, and I think I am firing more efficiently than on any of the previous volumes. I even managed to work obscure Morrissey and Duran Duran lines into the dialogue.


I am also a tad amused by the Blankets review that ended up running in the Mercury. I know there is a little of sour grape flavor here, since I wanted to do it, but I don’t care. I will admit, too, that I think since the reviewer comes off as someone who doesn’t really know comics, it does make for an interesting viewpoint, to see how Blankets wooed him. (If he does know comics, then, well…never mind.) But, the thing that really got me was this opening line: “It's apparent from meeting Craig Thompson that he's a good artist; his characterization of himself in his new autobiographical graphic novel Blankets is spot-on.” Say what? “Obviously, Monkey McFuckface is a great writer, because in conversation, he can really string some words together.” “It’s clear from meeting Bob Stitchalot that he’s an excellent tailor, because he’s got pretty swell shirts.” “Chynna Clugston-Major must brew really good beer, because it smells great on her breath.”

Current Soundtrack: Duran Duran, Singles 81-85