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

Saturday, July 31, 2004


I don't own a Metallica record. Not one. I've never minded them, though, and always kind of liked songs like "One" and "Unforgiven." And I've always admired their dogged pursuit of whatever they decided their vision is, despite the legions of naysayers that felt they knew better. It's scary how often--and how recent--I quote ex-bassist Jason Newsted on selling out. "Yes, we sell out. Every seat, everywhere we play."

I don't fuckin' care. Sometimes the greatest rebellion is to do what everyone says isn't rebellion. While most comics readers I know bemoan how there are no real heroes anymore, I've always bemoaned that there are no real rebels. There is a sense to Metallica that, for all their money-hungry pursuits, they actually are doing exactly as they please. And if nothing else, they've never claimed not to want the money, they haven't hid behind that shield.

Turn your thumb out, and it means "I love you."

So, with that in mind, I go and see their new documentary, Some Kind of Monster, the extended therapy session that is the recording of their last album, St. Anger. That's no joke either. It's a therapy session. As in, they are paying a team therapist $40K a month to counsel them. When Newsted left, the remaining three members--James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett--hired a guy who advises baseball teams and things to help them come together as a band.

The film covers two years--half of them with Hetfield absent for rehab and recovery--of group hugs, bitter fights, and psychobabble as the guys learn to tell each other how they "feel" and ultimately create music again (it's fascinating to see the days events turn into the next song). I talked to one person beforehand who had seen the trailer for Some Kind of Monster and thought it looked staged, and at the time I argued that because of the position on non-reality these guys occupy, that what might seem fake or ridiculous to us is something they have to buy into. I stand by that, having seen the film now. They don't live in our world. The camera is also something you can't hide from, and even if two of the guys are faking it, there is always one guy in the room whose inner anxiety is coming through.

If you love the behind-the-scenes drama of rock bands, then this movie is for you. Be prepared, however, because it's extremely raw in parts. There is some real, honest pain on display here, stuff that is going to strike home for anybody who has ever been involved in a group endeavor where the principles can't do the basic thing of sitting down and talking to one another. Creative collaborations are often stained with the blood of bitten tongues and echo with the twang of hurt feelings, and after 20 years, it's no surprise these guys needed to get this shit out. The most cathartic moment comes when Lars has had enough of worrying about what Hetfield needs after his absence. He notes that every time he thinks of Metallica, the only word that springs to mind is "fuck." He says it over and over, finally getting two inches from Hetfield's face, and shouting, "FUCK!" God, the number of times I wanted to do exactly that! (Though never to James Hetfield, the big lug!)

It's fascinating to see how this all effects outsiders. Newsted never gets in on the process, and the interviews he grants sizzle with a repressed anger. Megadeth's Dave Mustaine is called in after two decades for a sit-down with Lars, and the damage this guy has done to himself--and had inflicted upon him by Metallica fans--as a result of being kicked out of the band is awful. Mustaine retains his dignity, though, by being able to note that his experience is not necessarily what the guys did to him, but just what he went through.

James and Lars, two seconds from a hug!

The other interesting character is the therapist, who isn't self-aware enough to see when he's outlived his usefulness. He goes from being a help to a hindrance, a contributor to a leech. Hetfield realizes it long after the audience, and is the first to say it out loud: the guy thinks he's part of the band. When trying to shake him off, as the psychobabble and touchy-feely buzzwords lose their meaning, they find he doesn't want to let go, and it becomes his final act of unifying the band. They come together to say they're done with him. It's also around the time Hetfield and Lars actually agree on something musically again, and both see it's because they actually listen to one another. (For his part, Hammett is always the voice of reason, the one who quietly says, "Come on, guys, let's just play some music.")

Some Kind of Monster should be required viewing for anyone who wishes to work in a creative endeavor that requires more than one person, the answer to what to do after Spinal Tap, when you can't laugh anymore. It's hard not to recognize yourself in it when you've been there, and thus not always easy to watch (I know it sadistically poked around in some of my more recent wounds), but man, is it worth it. Metallica fan or not.

Some kind of trouser monster. Metal, dude!

Current Soundtrack: Low, A Lifetime of Temporary Relief disc 2 cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Friday, July 30, 2004


I can't be the first one to make this joke, but iPod owners are the new pod people. I spotted two other pod people today. You can tell by the little white control pieces we have stuffed in our ears. Steve Jobs was beaming me messages all day!

Then again, I sure was glad to have it today when I went out to the NW Film Center to see a screening of the 1929 silent film Picadilly. Little did I know, when they said silent, they meant silent. The movie was being shown with no accompanying music whatsoever. Now, I know a lot of movies from the era have no official score, but it was more common than not that some sort of organist was playing along (my silent film fan friends can correct me if I'm wrong--Elin? Chynna? (yes, it's usually stylish chicks that dig silent films)) in the theatre. So, I whipped out my iPod and loaded up some Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone. I had to skip some obviously inappropriate tracks from Once Upon A Time In The West, but it mainly worked out well. I can't imagine sitting in silence for 107 minutes. It'd kill me!

Directed by Ewald André Dupont, Picadilly is a wonderful film. It stars Gilda Gray and the inappropriately second-billed Anna May Wong as dueling dancing divas in a British night club. After the night club owner (played by Jameson Thomas, and you know the character is a Lothario, he's named Valentine) fires Gray's dancing partner because he clearly can't keep his hands to himself, attendance goes down. Thomas stumbles on the idea of having Wong's character, Shosho, take a slot on the dancefloor, having seen her entertain her fellow workers in the kitchen. In doing so, he inadvertently starts an early film catfight that predates All About Eve and similar tales of starlets who don't want to stare the spotlight.

Thomas becomes the object of a dance of seduction between Gray and Wong, both of whom know how to use their feminine sexuality to get what they want from men. Wong is the more aggressive, and thus the more successful, and quickly supplants Gray as the top performer on the circuit. But it's her boldness that will also be her downfall, as she keeps her musical accompanist, a Chinese man named Jim (King Ho-Chang), on her sultry hook, as well, and he doesn't like the competition from Thomas any more than Gray likes it from Wong. And when I refer to a "dance of seduction," I am speaking in a broad metaphor, as the word "dance," and the act itself, stands in for sex in the less-open '20s. The final straw for Gray is discovering that Thomas got a private performance from Wong late at night in his office, and Jim's discovery of a Buddha he had given Wong on Thomas' desk is all he needs to realize the same thing.

By the time Thomas and Wong go out on an actual date, Wong's victory is a foregone conflusion. Wishing to avoid being seen, they head to a lower-class, workman's pub, where their fancy dress clearly puts them out of place. They refer to the bar as their own personal Picadilly, as voluptuous women dance without restraint for the hooting and hollering patrons. Down in this part of town, they don't bother with pussyfooting around the issue, they simply get down and boogie. However, even here, there is a warning for our couple. When a white woman dances with a black man, this is going too far. They are chastised and pretty much chased from the bar. It's a clear signal that Wong and Thomas should tread carefully, and though they see it to a degree, exiting the pub, they quickly forget it as they head upstairs to Wong's apartment.

Here follows a series of wonderful sequences, as Wong places the key to her door in Thomas's hand. There is only a moment for eye contact, for the meaning of the gift to be clear, before a truck passes, covering the new lovers for a moment. Once it's gone, so are they.

Upstairs, Wong continues her dance. She removes all faculty for reason from her quarry via very simple movements, covering and uncovering her face with her lacey sleeve. It's extremely erotic, and the kiss that seals the deal feels absolutely redundant. Wong is now the biggest star at the Picadilly night club.

At this point, though, Dupont is also doing a dance with the viewer as well, moving between the apartment and the street, from the seduction to a woman's shadow cast over the entrance to the building, waiting for the dalliance to end. It is, of course, Gray. Holding a pistol, she has a well-choreographed argument with the dagger-wielding Wong. Both women wear some sort of shield in front of their faces--Gray has a veil on her hat, Wong again using her sleeve--perhaps suggesting that, generally, the faces they show are not the real ones they wear; they are keeping their true nature from view, masking it with a gorgeous visage. We fade to black before either attacks, only to discover by a newspaper headline that the Chinese dancer is dead.

The unheeded warning gives way to real consequences. Sex cost Wong her life, and Thomas is on trial for the murder. It seems clear that he is going to go down for it, too, until Gray shows up and says it was her there that night with his gun, but she blacked out and doesn't know what happened. That's when all eyes turn to Jim. He takes his own life, confessing as it trickles away.

One could choose to read the film in terms of race, and you'd have a pretty good case to say that Picadilly reinforces barriers. It's only the Chinese who pay for this transgression, for stepping out of place. The white couple gets to return to their lives, relatively unscathed. I'd like to give Dupont and the writer, Arnold Bennett, more credit than that, though. I would argue that Picadilly is more of a critique of class.

Though the pub chastises the interracial dancers, there is a familiarity between the black man and the white woman that suggests they mingle at the bar often. Their admonishment has more to do with remembering one's place, possibly only made important by the eyes of outsiders being on them. Thomas is intruding on this scene, and though Wong is from the area, she has left it for coats with fur collars. This idea is lent credence when the couple leave the pub; the white woman is standing outside with a mixed crowd, and as Thomas and Wong pass, she taunts them for their hoity-toity airs. She resents them slumming in her part of London.

The final clue comes in the last shot of the film. We are at a newsstand with papers declaring that the Chinese dancer's Chinese lover killed her and then killed himself. A man buying his paper is unconcerned with the news, more excited that he has won some money on a horse race. As he exits the scene, he is replaced by a parade of homeless-looking men with signs promoting a new show at the Scala called "Life Goes On." They are walking a circle, coming in and out of frame, stuck in the drudgery. Life does indeed go on. The common man continues to toil and suffer, while the upper classes live out their petty dramas unharmed.

For me, beyond seeing a good film, the true discovery is Anna May Wong. The blurb I read on the film before seeing it suggested in some ways there are parallels to her own life and struggles as an Eastern actress in Western movies. Her screen presence is incredible, and it's fitting that one of her most well-known movies is with Marlene Dietrich; if it weren't for the longstanding race hang-ups American culture still suffers from, she'd be remembered in much the same way as her more famous, sex symbol co-star.

Current Soundtrack: misc. mp3s

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


My review of X-Day vol. 1 by Setona Mizushiro is now online at Artbomb. Go, read, buy!


First draft of Clamp Paranormal Investigators volume 3 is done!

Current Soundtrack: Brady, Afrodisiac cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Monday, July 26, 2004


By the by, the philosophy behind the Lance Scott journal is this: Lance is the main character of The Everlasting, and the proprieter of the Confessions123.com site that is a false front for my site. I plan for him to be a recurring character, comparable to Roth's Nathan Zuckerman. In fictional time, The Everlasting ends four years ago, in 2000, so there is a Lance in and out of time, who is older than the Lance I am writing for the novel. He has only appeared in one more story, which I wrote a few months ago, and is currently only called "Hair is Love" because I can't come up with a title (it features Helene, who was mentioned in the journal today). The journal serves as a place to play around with his "present," to explore, experiment, whatever. It's not gospel, and anything I write in it may be discarded later as not part of the "official history."

I don't know why I wanted to clarify. I just did. Now I am going to start plowing through the CLAMP novel again, see what I can get done tonight. In terms of the original edition, I am on page 156 and there are 187 pages. I am close, I just want to have the first draft done.

Current Soundtrack: The Cure, "The End of the World" single; Low, A Lifetime of Temporary Relief disc 3; China Cherry Cola to drink

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Friday, July 23, 2004


I've been working pretty heavy on the CLAMP novel for the past three days and I am around halfway through, which isn't bad. I think I am doing it at double the speed of The Everlasting. To keep my mind a bit more in proper gear during this go-around, I am trying to re-kickstart my fictional live journal again, keep Lance Scott an active member of the team. If you check it out, keep in mind that Lance is fictional, this is fiction. This little exercise has confused some readers. While some of the entries spin out of actual things, you'd be surprised at how insignificant the seeds are. So don't overthink the possibility that Lance's diary may be a thinly veiled version of mine.

Also, for those interested, I have added two Amazon lists to their database, one with the tail end of my Oni work and one with the first volumes of all my manga work (an idea knicked from KS).

Finally, seeing as this is an all-business post, I will be attending the 35th Annual Willamette Writers Conference in August as a guest. Start here to learn more.

And for those of you who also didn't go to San Diego, this year's lame button:

[For the record, this was my joke.]

Current Soundtrack: Orbital, "Satan/The Saint" promo EP cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Thursday, July 22, 2004


Several people, I think, expect me to have an epiphany this weekend where I am actually sorry that I am not at the San Diego Comic Con International. I hate to break it to them, but that isn't going to happen. Despite not being able to see cute faces like Kelly Sue and Jen and the rest (some of whom will e-mail me to whine about not being listed--for shame! you fell for it again!), I am more than content to sit this one out, let the media fracas and fanboy faraggo go on without me. It's been ten years since I've even had the option of not going. I'd be stupid not to take it. I know for a fact that very little of the actual con interests me anyway.

But, if I needed validation for this self-belief, it came at 6:27 this morning, when apparently my phone rang, a call from someone in San Diego, and the evil chuckle spontaneously rolled from my throat as I considered the many emergencies that might require a call to me. That chuckle was followed by a distinctly dastardly, "Fuck 'em."

Last night I went down to Powells Books on the recommendation of a co-worker to see Jonathan Ames read from his new novel, Wake Up, Sir! He was being accompanied by the band One Ring Zero, who were promoting their new album of klezmer-like music, As Smart As We Are, featuring song lyrics by famous authors with names like Auster, Gaiman, and Snickett. This was to be new territory for me, as I was unfamiliar with either.

Ames, it turns out, is hysterical. Wake Up, Sir is a tribute to the old Wodehouse books featuring Jeeves, and his reading of selected passages was hilarious (though, his voice could use some more modulation). The writing is full of obsessive, neurotic humor and long, rambling, yet unique observations of the quirks of life. (If anyone is wondering what to get Chynna Clugston-Major for her birthday next month, this book solves that problem. She'd love it.)

One Ring Zero turned out to be better than I would have expected. They reminded me quite a bit of They Might Be Giants--and not just for the superficial accordion comparison. There's also the nerdy wordplay and the two distinct male voices, one nasaly and one lower, one guy in glasses and one without. Ames joined in on the song he wrote for them--a tale about a childhood language he had created with two of his friends. One of those friends was in the audience, a Portland dweller now, and he joined in to help demonstrate, as well as play a song of his own, a cute tribute to Ames.

I didn't buy the One Ring Zero CD, though. It seems like the sort of thing that would get a couple of listens and then the novelty would fade. Plus, the title really says it all. It sounds like the writers involved got too caught up in their own cleverness rather than simply setting out to write a good, classic song. I'd be curious to hear the Atwood contribution, though, and I don't think they got Hornby, but one would wonder what he would do if given the chance. (I could be wrong. Amazon doesn't list the tracks, and I am too lazy to look elsewhere.)

Work: Started the third Clamp School Paranormal Investigators yesterday. Please, let it end soon.

I also had a dream last night where I was looking in the mirror and my beard had what is likely the equivalent of three or four days growth. Except I had shaved that morning and with a brand-new blade. This, folks, is what I call a nightmare.

Current Soundtrack: Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets From The WEA Vaults

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


The sixth installment of "Can You Picture That?" is now online and reviews Martin Scorsese's My Voyage To Italy and Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers.

In stores this week: On the manga front, you can buy Gravitation volume 7 and Abenobashi vol. 1. One of my last editing jobs for Oni, Scott Morse's excellent modern cowboy graphic novel, Spaghetti Western, is also going on sale.

Current Soundtrack: Sonic Boom & Spectrum, What Came Before After cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Friday, July 16, 2004


Yesterday I hung out with Laurenn McCubbin, Tristan Crane, and Michelle Tea, after completely missing the reading event for the book Rent Girl (which you should all buy) on Wednesday night. I arrived just as it was ending. I thought it was going to run later, and it was a hell of a bus ride. We went thrift shopping, and I didn't buy anything by way of clothes, but I did find Chynna's birthday present way in advance and picked up a copy of Zuckerman Bound.

All of which means I did no work yesterday, because I am a bad person. I will be getting on Gravitation 10's back half today, though, as I'd like to turn it in on Monday, completely clearing my manga decks through the end of August for the last of the CLAMP novels.

Weekend plans include re-watching one of my favorite films, the 1945 adaptation of Dorian Gray, after a long time of not having seen it. I want to sample one of the settings from it for The Everlasting, a seedy bar. It actually hearkens back to one of the scenes I had in the original Lance Scott novel when I was 17. I don't recall if I ever wrote that bit, though, or just planned it.

Writing on The Everlasting went really well this week. I made solid progress and I think have passed the halfway mark. Of course, given the nature of the story, I could get to the end, read it, and discover I have a meandering mess on my hands. But, the thing is to get a complete draft and then we'll see. It could need just a little bit of fine-tuning, or it could require a massive overhaul. We won't know until it's a Thing.

Current Soundtrack: The Cure, Carnage Visors cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website


Wednesday, July 14, 2004


I've received letters complaining about my not having written about Morrissey here in a while. So, lucky for you, he has a new single out.

"First of the Gang To Die" is probably the most obvious choice off of You Are The Quarry. It's rocking, with a good hook, and an amusing recasting of violent Latino street gangs in a pretty 1950s leather jacket. Too bad the video didn't have Moz pouring out a 40 on poor Hector's grave. Sadly, they have wrapped this gem in what must be the worst sleeve of Morrissey's career ("Oh, I know...let's use the same photoshoot, but we'll make it look like he's behind a shower door!") and some truly not-that-great B-sides.

The best of the lot is "My Life is a Succession of People Saying Goodbye," a pretty ballad that is a big workmanlike, but a pretty face is a pretty face and I like it. It's the other two, "Teenage Dad On His Estate" and "Mexico," that fall flat, sounding more like Maladjusted album tracks. (Could it be that Morrissey has reversed his position? His last two albums weren't so hot and were easily outranked by the B-sides; is it now set up to be the other way around?) "Teenage Dad" is musically limp with a strange narrative about a rich man who is unhappy, who has disdain for the young man down the hill from his mansion who is poor, but enjoys his family. Okay. Oddly, in the next song, it feels like Morrissey becomes the rich man in his estate, looking south of the border with a tear in his eye in "Mexico." It's a somewhat embarrassing political screed about being rich and white in America from a rich, white guy who lives in America. This did the rounds on the tours that preceded this album, and there was a BBC radio performance of it, and if anything can be said of the new version, it's that producer Jerry Finn manages to pull of the impossible and give the backing track some new life. Shame he couldn't fix the lyrics. I'm sure they're well intentioned, though. (It's kind of sad. I was listening to The Holy Bible the other day and thinking we really need an album like that for right now. But from who? At least there is said to be a 10th anniversary edition in the works, and the Manics themselves are working on a new one with Tony Visconti--so maybe they'll surprise us?)

(It's weird to admit, but I find it a bit embarrassing that I've been listening to "Mexico" with my windows open, with a group of Mexican workers repaving some of my apartment building's courtyard outside. I keep expecting them to knock on my door and ask, "What the fuck is that? You trying to send us a message or something?")

So, as of now, a fairly disappointing second release for the Mozzfather. Smartly, he seems to be saving "Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice," a highlight of recent live shows with its ? & the Mysterians organ riff, for a future single. Possibly an A-side, like his great non-album singles from the early '90s?

Update: The Federal Marriage Act got sunk in the House this morning. But only by two votes? That's not nearly enough. We really need to kick some folks out of Washington.

Jibber Jabber: More linked to in this blog than Morrissey, Jen De Guzman hits at the same New York Times article I wrote about two days ago, in two posts from the 7/12 & 13 in her live journal. She also links to writer and colorist Rikki Simons, another person amongst indie comics who sees this is not the godsend the people it validates would like to proclaim. Yes, let's watch the circular world of blogging!

Current Soundtrack: Moz, "FOTGTD;" Interpol Antics; Rubettes, Best of... cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Monday, July 12, 2004


I just finished reading Charles McGrath's supposedly serious look at graphic novels that ran in yesterday's New York Times magazine and has been spreading its cancer across the internet. What a turgid piece of condescension. Here is a link if you can be bothered (you have to register). He rounds up the usual suspects and attempts to make a case for comics as a serious artform.

Except he doesn't, really. He works from the viewpoint that comics could possibly replace prose in a world where video games and TV are killing our attention spans and ability to absorb complex narratives, and then disimissing all comics books except for the ones he wants to focus on. This includes gettering rid of manga in one sentence, writing the whole of Japanese comics off as "books that feature slender, wide-eyed teenage girls who seem to have a special fondness for sailor suits." There is so much ignorance in those 17 words, I would have to go through each word one by one just to debunk it. He pushes Clowes, Ware, Sacco, Seth, Tomine, and Spiegelman to the forefront, not once acknowledging that this is a little like saying that no one knows how to read very well but Borges, Barthes, and Robbe-Grillet are going to change the course of illiteracy by making books accessible again.

And that's even if you agree with his theory that comics are somehow for a new generation of mouth-breathers who find the intricacies of John Grisham too much to digest. It's ludicrous. So, shove that assertion aside, and then let's ask, are these really the guys who are going to fuel the new generation of comics and keep the medium alive? To a degree, but I've been saying for a while now that this old guard of alternative comics, as good as most of them are, represent a world that is just as closed off from the bulk of the population as superhero comic books--and like the raging fanboys that this side of comics often decries (a bit like the closeted jock picking on the effeminate kid), they like it that way. They want to horde the crumbs of success and recognition because, like capes and tights, the chronic masturbator cartoonist is just as outmoded as the kid who wants to be Superman and beat up the bullies that pick on him.

I'm not trying to tear down this work, and must say that I've read and do read a ton of what the above-named folks do. I adore Seth, and think Sacco is amazing, to single out just two. What I am railing against is this condescension wrapped in glad-handing, and the myopic theory that this is all there is. Evan Dorkin once said something along the lines that all we tend to offer the world is a picture of comics as either B-movie slasher flicks or Akira Kurosawa films, ignoring the vast canyon of material inbetween. Artful comics are not just about McGrath's summation of "longing, loss, sexual frustration, loneliness and alienation," and certainly not the limited mode of expression that he espouses. (It's also not nearly the man's world he asserts. He can only come up with the names of four female cartoonists, missing people like Chynna Clugston-Major, Jill Thompson, Christine Norrie, Laurenn McCubbin, Ariel Schrag, Renee French, etc., all of who either fit his mold or show that there is actually much more to a comic book life than lonely guys who can't get dates).

Matt Wagner

Is R. Crumb the single most important figure in the world of modern comics? No, I'd say from the last twenty-five years, it's Matt Wagner. Wagner showed that you could work between the worlds of art and commerce much the way an auteur film director does, making your own arthouse pictures and then doing a big studio blockbuster. He also did it without being a poorly socialized shut-in, which McGrath suggests is almost required to be a successful cartoonist (Sacco being his exception to prove his own rule). Similarly, is Crumb the single biggest influence on the newest generation of cartoonists? Doubtful. Is even Chris Ware, arguably the top of the game? Not really. The names I saw over and over again as an editor were the Hernandez Bros. (mentioned several times in the article, to be fair), Paul Pope, manga artists like Rumiko Takahashi, Evan Dorkin, and Jhonen Vasquez, with Chynna Clugston-Major and Craig Thompson gaining speed in the last few years. Just as Frank Miller had shoved aside Jack Kirby to influence a whole new crop of mainstream artists, and himself started to take a backseat to Mike Mignola, Mike Allred, and some of the Image crew, so are these people at the forefront of creating a new language for alternative comics that will do more to push comics into the mainstream than anything that has come before. (Note: Allred and Mignola also carry with them a lot of influence in the indie world.)

In addition to those names, I'd be remiss if I didn't note that where McGrath got it right was by noting the vast influence of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, as well. He says they have "something like auteur status...writers whose comics are worth paying attention to no matter who draws them." I would agree with that. They brought to comics a sense that the writing should be taken seriously, a torch picked up by Brian Bendis, Greg Rucka, Neal Shaffer, Warren Ellis, Antony Johnston, and others.

God bless Evan Dorkin

McGrath knew enough about how the press at large has looked at comic books to make fun of all the "Zap! Pow!" headlines, but apparently is not self-aware enough to know he lives in the house across the street, which is just as blind to the reality of the comic book world as what he is ridiculing.

Current Soundtrack: Embrace, The Good Will Out cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Saturday, July 10, 2004


This hasn't been my most productive week. I ended up covering two earlier shifts at the video store, one without much warning, and I have found that having to be at a job at 2:00 is not condusive to my usual schedule. It's actually around the early afternoon that I get warmed up and get my full momentum going. It also didn't help that I was in a bit of a rough patch with The Everlasting, completely ignoring advice passed on to me from Clive Barker via The Great Brain--that one must never close the file without knowing what one is going to type next, because if you write until you are spent, you end up starting the next time without an idea of what you are doing and spend some aimless typing hours hunting about. Since I am writing about relationships, there isn't a lot of point A to point B plot stylings. I don't have to plant guns in act I to be fired in act II, so it's often about finding the most logical and organic moment to show next.

There has also been the great tragedy of my beloved MP3 player dying on me. It boots up, but the screen no longer activates. Were I more skilled, I might be able to find the albums I am searching for without sight, but I am not. My warranty is long gone, so the Rio people are ignoring my pleas for aid; it may be an iPod for me. (And yes, as I have discussed with Kelly Sue, this is not the worst tragedy I could possibly have--but such is my life at the moment.)

Ande Parks gave me a great documentary on Orson Welles that I believe is shamefully out of circulation. It consists primarily of interview footage with him in the mid-'80s, and he is a very charming conversationalist. He is not an egomaniac at all and is pretty self-aware when it comes to his position in the world of film. In fact, one can only marvel at how much bitterness he lacks, when there is a lot of room for him to be bitter. His only failing seems to be to care too much about the things that are said about him personally that aren't true.

I know so many creative people who are aspiring to be or even currently working who whine about how tough it is to pursue their dreams, and they annoy me to no end. These are generally people who I expect to fail, because they don't have what it takes, really. They are often the kind who won't even sign their own name unless there is a dollar involved (you'd be surprised at how many would-be creative types don't spend as much time as they can practicing their craft). If I have any response to them, it's "Yes, it's supposed to be hard; if it were easy, everyone would be doing it." (It's practically a Jamie cliche at this point; it goes hand-in-hand with a defense of editors, publishers, studios, what-have-you, who supposedly crush the dreams of millions--but someone has to protect the gates.) Maybe in the future I will just give them a copy of this documentary and let them contemplate if they really have it so tough. Welles, in the end, says he probably should have gotten out of film, returned to the stage, done anything else, but he loved it too much. He loved stories too much. And he regrets nothing.

Welles has been a hero of mine for ages, ever since I read Citizen Welles when I was 17 (and at the time noted an uncanny resemblance between his early life and the life of the hero of Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise). I even invoke his name and borrow from him in "T For True," the story I am doing with Andi Watson for Image. Except I have never seen the film F For Fake, only heard about it. I was rather shocked to see some clips in this documentary and hear them talking about the movie, because somehow I tapped into much the same idea (perhaps in the same way Fitzgerald tapped into Welles' childhood?). But I didn't steal it, I swear!

(Speaking of This Side of Paradise, who the hell is this guy and has he gone and fucked himself yet?)

I also started Gravitation volume 10 on Thursday, since it was going to be easier than digging into the novel before clerking. My word, they go to another stupid TV show. Sometimes I don't know about this book...

Current Soundtrack: Pet Shop Boys, Very; Morrissey, Songs to Save Your Life NME comp

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Some new items...

Artbomb has published my review of Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen's excellent It's a Bird....

I turned in my introduction for Queen & Country, vol. VI - Operation: Dandelion yesterday. I wrote a whole new piece, ended up a bit disenchanted with the one I wrote last week. This is much better. Greg liked it, but my editor failed to tell me he would not be working on the day of the deadline he gave me. Tut, tut.

Today I have an early day at the video store so it's a little shot. Going to finally proofread Ai Yori Aoshi volume 7, which I have been neglecting since last week.

Current reading: Life of Pi by Yann Martel and My Life by Bill Clinton

Current Soundtrack: Lux Radio Broadcast of The Third Man (on the DVD)cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Monday, July 05, 2004


With all the clamor around Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, it's easy to forget that he's not the only one out there making a ruckus. In fact, this weekend I saw what is probably a better movie that is no less illuminating about some of what is currently going on in our world.

Control Room is a new documentary by Jehame Noujaime, the director of Startup.com. Control Room is a peek inside Al Jazeera, the Arab news network that the Bush administration calls the "mouthpiece for Osama Bin Laden" and several Saudi governments have banned for critiquing their regimes. Their controversial stance of showing everything and letting the public sort it out alternately suggests the most studied objectivity of any news agency and, strangely, its own bias.

Much of Control Room is centered around the media's interaction with American Central Command at the start of the invasion of Iraq. Many of the journalists and producers from Al Jazeera are interviewed and explain their side of things. We also see how other news organizations from around the world interact with Al Jazeera and share a common frustration with an often ridiculously evasive US Army. (There is a notable scene where the army representative announces the famous pack of playing cards with the targets of Saddam Hussein's regime on them, and after telling them there aren't enough packs to share with reporters but they can look at the set he has, he retreats from the press conference and refuses to share at all. The reporters are practically beating down his door in fury.)

One of the more interesting characters, though, is Lt. Rushing, one of the Army's media relations people. While when he's on the job and being questioned he often staunchly defends the indefensible, he comes off in more private moments as a nice guy who is in the middle of an eye-opening education. He openly interacts with the reporters, honestly gauging their opinions about public reaction. He isn't afraid to say that if Al Jazeera is slanted towards the Arab viewpoint, it's no more than how American news is slanted towards America. There is also a sobering moment for him when he realizes how wrong it is that he is more affected by the images of American casualties Al Jazeera showed than he was by the Iraqi casualties from the night before; he realizes that isn't right, that all life is worth mourning in equal measure.

But, Lt. Rushing is more of a sidenote. The more important element of Control Room is the flipside to what we see, the other side of the propaganda machine that seems to so easily win over the US media. It's amazing how differently they viewed the American soldiers entering Bagdhad and pulling down the statue of Saddam. What was presented as spontaneous love and joy amongst the Iraqi people when shown over here is entirely different to their eyes. Did any US news outlets report a suspicion that all the men that walked with the tanks were not Iraqis, but Kurds that the Army brought in with them? Did anyone ask why one of them had an Iraqi flag that was over a decade out of date with him?

Even worse, did anyone ask why no one was concerned any longer with US troops firing on three news buildings in Bagdhad, killing one Al Jazeera reporter and essentially crippling the Arab news services the day before they possibly staged their biggest media event since the start of the conflict? Was it that easy to believe it was a coincidence, that they had supposedly been fired upon from those buildings and were just defending themselves?

UPDATE FROM SATURDAY: Coincidentally, not long after my last post, my mail arrived and I received a policy letter from Senator Ron Wyden indicating that he opposed any Constitutional amendment defining marriage. He gave his voting record to back that up, noting, however, that he was often outvoted in similar issues. Still, at least I know one of the people representing me is on my side.

Current Soundtrack: The Creatures, Hybrids cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Saturday, July 03, 2004


A couple of quick notes on various political things.

Go here to have a letter sent to your Congressmen to tell him you oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Also, stop by MediaMatters.org's page about the controversy surrounding Rush Dimbulb's program being broadcast over the Armed Forces Network and consider signing their petition urging Donald Rumsfeld (why is he still here?) to reconsider this very biased decision.

These sorts of things are the very least we can do when it comes to getting our voices heard, to being involved. It may not seem like much, but consider all the people who never say a word.

Writer Neal Shaffer posted a link in his blog to an article about Bill Cosby's speaking out for what he believes. All I can do is echo Neal's sentiment of feeling it's about time that people start talking again about actual ideas and quit worrying about offending allegedly delicate sensibilities. Toes aren't as fragile as we make them sound, and it won't break them to have them stepped on occassionally. The only problem I've found in writing provocative pieces on subjects I was opinionated about is that people don't want to give the time to think about what you are saying, and by that I mainly mean the people said opinions don't apply to. Like, when I read an article that says, for example, most people who download music are doing it to get free music with no intention of ever buying it, I don't get huffy and say, "Fuck that guy, I always buy the stuff I like that I've downloaded! The jerk!" I think, "Hmmmm, this doesn't apply to me, but interesting point of view." You'd be surprised by how many people don't, and I imagine Cosby is finding that out as part of the backlash.

Truth be told, though, the problems he brings up transcend race. Just about every community has similar issues of squandered education and willful ignorance--but then, others don't have the added sting of having had several preceding generations fighting for something better.

Finally, if you were as amused and baffled by the ad I linked to from George W. Bush's campaign that interspersed images of Hitler with those of prominent democrats, then you have to stop back by GWB's site and watch "The New War?" In it, we learn John Kerry is fighting the Yakuza and the point is illustrated by an offensive attempt at Japanese anime! I keep expecting someone to tell me this site is a joke and I've been duped. It's amazing.

Current Soundtrack: Kings of Convenience, Riot on an Empty Street cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Thursday, July 01, 2004


I've been writing all over the place. Gotten a lot done on The Everlasting, did a couple of reviews for Artbomb, and I have the first draft of Ai Yori Aoshi vol. 7 done. Greg Rucka and James Lucas Jones asked me to do the intro to Queen & Country vol. VI, and I've done a draft but am giving it a couple of days to see how I feel.

It's also the first of July, so new video picks. A fellow employee didn't believe I could do a manly selection, and not only have I proved him wrong, but I still managed to get Audrey Hepburn in the list.

* Afraid to Die starring Yukio Mishima (yes, the novelist), directed by Yasuzo Masumura

* The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp by Powell & Pressburger

* Robin & Marian starring Sean Connery & Audrey Hepburn, dir. Richard Lester

* Three Kings starring George Clooney, dir. David O. Russell

* The Train starring Burt Lancaster & Jeanne Moreau, dir. John Frankenheimer

I was originally going to do several detective/film noir movies, but decided on Colonel Blimp and Three Kings since they both relate to the times we live in.

Current Soundtrack: Oasis, Familiar to Millions cover

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website