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

Monday, March 31, 2003


Lance Scott, star of The Everlasting and proprietor of the Confessions 1,2,3 website has a new live journal. I wasn't going to announce it right away, as I wanted to get some entries under my belt and foster the illusion that it was real and see what I could do with it. It's a writing exercise, keeping the character alive for me while I work on the book. I think he is going to become my Rabbit (Updike, not Eminem) or Zuckerman, and will likely stick around for a while. Unfortunately, I used this account, given to me by Elin Winkler, to create a friends list for other people's live journals to make it easier to read them all. They sussed it out pretty quick (and one of them seems really creeped out by it). So if you are interested in reading the fiction that I will create there, please play it straight in the comments sections. Don't tip my hand. I like the idea that people who have no idea what it is stumbling across it and thinking it's real.

Current Soundtrack: can't say, because too many people will e-mail me asking me for copies ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2003


I so did not have a good time tonight.

Concert #4 was Idlewild and The French Kicks at Lola’s, downstairs from the Crystal Ballroom.

I tried to arrive late. There was a local opening band who I have never heard and really, I’d like to keep it that way. So I got there an hour after the time on the ticket. There was a mob outside. Turns out Super Diamond was playing at the Crystal, the upstairs room. They are a band who do covers of stuff like Nirvana in a Neil Diamond-style. Yeah, I know. That joke was old by the time the first guy to think of it turned around to tell someone else about it, but the hoi polloi line up around the block for that shit. It makes me sad that a good band like Idlewild has to play the small room while crap like Super Diamond fills the main one. I pity the Idlewild fans who had to stand in line with the Diamond fans, getting that condescending, “Never heard of them,” because, you know, if sorority chicks and bored housewives haven’t heard of a band, they must suck.

I slogged my way inside, finding the shorter line at the side entrance. It was a pain in the ass trying to get around the moron partyboys who got confused that there were two shows in one building and stood in the doorway to the one I was going to, scratching their heads rather than get out of the way. “You mean Super Diamond isn’t in there? Then where are they? Do you think my baseball cap should be frontwards or backwards?” I vote sidewards, Spanky!

The atmosphere in Lola’s was instantly bad. Hot and sweaty and full of smoke. The French Kicks were on, and I have to say, I couldn’t come up with a negative number low enough to describe how deep in a black hole my enjoyment of them was. You can’t create a number to describe how many times you’d have to circle around the Earth to travel the distance between myself and aural pleasure during their set. There are not words to indicate how truly awful they were. There was nothing, zero, absolutely nada good about The French Kicks. I know they might be hip, but I’d have to work hard not to punch anyone in the face that liked them. Seriously. The songs were flat and tuneless, and the singer could barely vocalize a straight line. Sometimes he’d get all twitchy like he was getting excited, but he’d keep singing in the same way, swerving to avoid any melody or emotion. They didn’t even have a sense of fashion going for them. There wasn’t a single band member with good hair or a nice shirt.

Seriously, the French Kicks are one of the top three worst bands I have ever seen. (One other is Paradigm Driven. The name says it all. I once declared them the worst band in Portland in the Mercury. The other slot might be Stew, who I saw open for Love, or Cooler Kids, who opened for Erasure.)

On the other hand, I caught Idlewild’s show a couple of years ago and I adored it; so I was pretty excited for them. I had gotten through a shit opening band, and I was ready to go. I had scoped out a pretty good spot by the windows that was relatively near the stage. It had a decent eye line so that I could see the band when they came on. Only problem was, the monitor I was near kept going in and out, so for the first couple of songs, the levels kept fluctuating. I couldn’t stand it, so I moved closer to the back and it was better. I could at least hear the song at the same volume and mix through the whole song.

Only now I couldn’t see. The stage is like a foot high, which is just stupid. You don’t get any difference between the band and the audience, and all I could see were other people’s heads and Roddy Woomble occasionally emerging in the midst of them. It seemed there was always someone in front of me who kept swaying or had big hair. And I don’t mind big hair, as long as it’s big because you wanted it to be big, not because you’re too lazy to brush it or get it cut.

There also seemed to be a staggering amount of people there who were older than even me. I swear there was one guy with a polo shirt tucked into his shorts playing air guitar. No lie.

A girl behind me was probably more into the show than anyone there, including the band, and as a result, she was dancing her ass off. Only problem is, at that place, there is no way to actually dance and mind someone’s personal space. You don’t even have to touch another person to invade their area. Both rooms in the venue have a spring-loaded dance floor, so some chick jumping around like a retard with a firecracker up her ass ends up sending tremors all over the place. Even worse, she was one of those people that doesn’t actually dance to the music. Rhythm and beat are foreign ideas, and they don’t inspire her feet. Ironically, she seemed to get wilder during the slowest song they played, which didn’t even have drums outside of the chorus. Was she moving in conjunction with the strumming?

Needless to say, I was spending more time being annoyed by the shitty sound and layout of the room and the people around me then enjoying the show—which is a massive disappointment. I was too busy suppressing violent urges, and just couldn’t shut off and dig the music. I held out, though, for my favorite song, “Roseability.” Idlewild played it at the end of the set—but, God, was it awful. It was so sloppy, I got the impression they are just bored with it and couldn’t care less.

I left before the encore. I just couldn’t take anymore. I did get a bit of pleasure, though, on the way home, when I had to stop at a light near where an old busker was wailing his lungs out. I rolled down the window and cranked The Animals as far as my radio would go. Score one for my ears.

This is all making me reconsider going to see Mark Gardener in a week’s time. It’s at another small club, and I know there will be people there I don’t want to associate with. Not having a concert buddy for protection can really suck. Maybe Christopher will choose next weekend as his time to visit?

Current Soundtrack: Faye Wong, some thing or other (it's impossible to tell some of these Chinese compilations apart); Richard Ashcroft, "Science of Silence"


Wednesday, March 26, 2003


Too Much Hopeless Savages! artist Ross Campbell pointed out that I was wrong, and Erasure did play a song off Cowboy--"In My Arms." My defense is Cowboy is only saved from being my least favorite of their albums by Loveboat, so I don't know either very well (I even got the song title wrong). I think I actually mixed it up with "Stay With Me" in my head. Both are very much pop song titles.

Also, I should point out that the ever-so-sweet Jennifer de Guzman from Slave Labor Graphics wrote a much better review of the performance she attended than I on her live journal. She gives a lot more detail about the whole of the experience.

Current soundtrack: absolute nothing

Monday, March 24, 2003


Tired today. Drove back from Seattle and got in at 2 in the morning; was still in the office by 8. I work for you people.

Erasure was nothing short of fantastic. I was pumped by the end. Andy Bell continues to be over-the-top and camp, wearing an Old-West-style dress with a hoop skirt, then stripping down to just the hoop and leather get-up, and then even further down to just leather shorts and boots—shameless. The set dressing was made to look like an old house, complete with reclining couch and a screen for changing. It was just Andy and Vince on stage, along with two back-up singers.

I overheard the couple next to me commenting on how many bald heads there were in the audience, and how the crowd was so old—before one of them had the realization, “Then again, we’re 35.”

I expected a set made up almost entirely of covers from Other People’s Songs, but we only got about five in the two hour show. The rest were almost completely the hits, skipping only the Cowboy album. We got “Stop,” “Always,” “A Little Respect,” “Rock Me Gently,” "Love to Hate You," "Alien," "Breath of Life," “In Your Arms,” “Blue Savannah,” "Chains of Love," "Chorus," “Victim of Love,” “Ship of Fools,” "Oh, L'Amour," “Sometimes”—and more. The highlight though was Wild!’s gorgeous “Piano Song.” Very much a surprise.

The girl in front of me I swear could have been Parker Posey’s sister. I was pretty smitten, and spent the show imagining in my head that I was smooth, and all the things I’d say to her if I was as cool as I fantasize myself as being. It could have been lovely.


The oft-mentioned and much beloved Kelly Sue DeConnick has a new website. Visit it and give it kisses.

Current Soundtrack: Morrissey, Bona Drag; The Small Faces, Greatest Hits (there's a million, pick one)


Saturday, March 22, 2003


Today I am on the ball. I was up and out of the house by 8:30, and down to Starbucks. This despite having stayed up to about 2:00 am. I have whittled away at Man of Many Faces and gotten to just past the halfway point, and now I am ready to plow through it. I’ve been here for a bit, warming up with some coffee and the similarly named coffee cake, proofreading designs for the Atomic City Tales 2: Doc Phantom trade paperback (Matt Fraction continues our recent spurt of awesome introductions; the boy is mad!), continuing my Supergrass high with Life on Other Planets, including it’s various single B-sides.

Now I am ready to begin…


…and two hours and twenty Geneva B-sides later, I am done.

Current Soundtrack: Supergrass, In It For the Money (main disc)



Concert night #2 began with disappointment. The Coral had cancelled. Snow in Colorado had stranded them and they couldn’t get to town. Really, really bummed. They were the band out of all of them I wanted to see the most.

Our consolation prize was Detroit’s Electric Six. This is a little like being told you are going to get truffles and they feed you grub worms instead. They should have called themselves Elephant Shit for all the lumpy turds they left in my ears. Wow. They were so bad. Like Jon Spencer joined My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult bad. It’s like their whole act was based on a Gallon Drunk performance from 1993, only the tape they were watching was coded like an illegal cable feed, having the same effect as horny adolescents watching scrambled porn. They make out enough to think they know what is happening, but really don’t see how all the parts fit together.

I bet fans of the Hives think Electric Six are completely brilliant. The importance of charisma is lost on the dull.

Thankfully, Supergrass were awesome. I have not been all that enthusiastic about Supergrass or Life on Other Planets. They’re decent albums, but it sounds to me as if the passion has gone out. Like the magnificent energy they expelled to make In it For The Money was impossible to replenish.

And sure enough, the songs off the first two albums sounded the best, but the newer stuff takes on so much more life in the live arena. Someone gave them a tune transfusion.

The crowd was pretty decent. Our one odd note of the night was the drunk girl behind us who tried to convince us that we weren’t rocking enough, and thus we didn’t deserve to be in the front row and should give up our spots. A kid next to us got tired of her yapping between songs, and rather calmly but sternly told her to shut up. It worked. I was amazed.

Current Soundtrack: Love & Rockets, Seventh Dream of a Teenage Heaven (original version); In it For The Money limited edition second disc of B-sides


Friday, March 21, 2003


I expected at least one of my concerts to be cancelled this weekend. But it looks for Erasure and Supergrass are just ending their tours, so they are over here and unless protests turn into apocalyptic riots, we should be safe. (Idlewild, who play Portland on the 3/29, start their tour tonight…so I imagine that could be in jeopardy.)

Which, apparently there was some real craziness in Portland last night. Of the three bridges I could have taken over the river from the office to the show, I apparently picked the right one. I looked down Grand and saw some flashing lights, so I jumped on the Hawthorne Bridge—the proper choice since protesters closed down the others. I had no idea. It always seems weird to me that the protests end up disrupting traffic and things. I mean, I understand that it’s because there is a mass of people in the street, and I also understand these people want to be heard—but what I don’t understand is the logic of stopping people from getting home in order to try to convince them of your message. Human nature being what it is, you’re more likely going to turn people against you by inconveniencing them. And yes, you can tell me all you want how much more inconvenient it is to have bombs dropped on you, but I’m talking human nature being what it is. Which is imperfect.

I only saw one protester myself. As I passed, I tried to read his sign, but it was too complicated. Three small lines leading to one big punchline—but I forget the punchline because I was too busy trying to read the other lines which was impossible on a drive-by. Again, unclear of the concept. When all you have is a couple of seconds to catch someone with your slogan, making it complicated seems to be counterproductive.

The gig itself was interesting. It looked to be empty at first, but eventually, there was a decent turnout.

The Music were quite fantastic. They were what I expected—pretentious and ridiculous, but super tight and delivering the goods. The band had it together and made a big, big noise. I imagine without the constraints of an opening slot they’d be prone to unending jamming, but all that was in check here. They remind me of early Verve and the druggy Black Crowes, and maybe a little bit of, dare I say, Kula Shaker (who were insanely stupid, but had some good choons). There is a gloriously fun over-the-top sincerity to The Music. I mean, consider that name. You can imagine the band meeting. “Dude, you know, it’s really all about the music. The music is what’s important. So that’s what we should be called. The Music.” I can’t believe that it took this long for some band to name themselves that.

The lead singer was wacky. His dancing was quite spastic. He actually danced like a rave kid, with lots of swirling hands and shuffling feet. To be honest, he’s a damn fine dancer, but his unbridled passion for it of course puts him up to ridicule to tittering college girls who like to mimic his movements and pretend like they are so much cooler—when we all know if they danced the way they really dance when out at the clubs, they’d look like balloons full of strawberry jelly hooked to a ceiling fan. (Our lesson for today: The only thing I learned in college is that college students are idiots. I am sorry if I am offending any college students reading this, but trust me, one day you will look back and think, “Dear Lord, I was an idiot. And so was everyone else.” The harder thing is realizing that while you’re in college. But then my dad always made fun of me by saying, “It must be hard walking through life knowing you’re smarter than everyone else.” I’d always reply to the affirmative. He also suggested I should have a hat that says, “You’re messing with me,” after one of my many stories that contained the line, “They didn’t know who they were messing with.” My dad had me pretty well sussed, until the day when I was 17 that he turned and looked at me and said, “You’re a bigger asshole than I ever hoped to be.” That was the day the student surpassed the master…but that’s another story and this is already a long parenthetical statement.)

The other scary dancing phenomena, since I am swimming in cruelty this morning, are the old people. I’m talking the ones even older than me. No longer old enough to know better, but old enough to forget they should know. You’ve seen them. They’ve been hanging at the bar and then suddenly the music grabs their loins. Usually it’s the woman that feels it, and the man ends up following because, well, he’s balding and overweight and won’t do anything to fuck up his chances at getting some after the show. They come running out of the bar, barreling through the crowd, annoying everyone. They ultimately settle in a spot that is kind of open, but not quite. Like, there is just enough room, and once the guy starts doing his fists in the air jumpy dance and the woman starts swiveling her hips, thinking all the while I am still young and I can grind!, the people around them have to move out of the way unless they get the old sweat on them and become infected.

And I say all that with the full knowledge that I am rapidly approaching the point where college girls will look at me at a show and say, “What the hell is that guy doing here? Who does he think he’s fooling?” I’m overweight and olding, but my hair is still thick, and frankly, I don’t give a good fuck.

Okay, The Vines

Wow. If ever a band lived up to their live reputation. If the guy in The Music was stoned out of his mind and loving it, the dude in The Vines was drunk off his ass and showing it. How fucking awful. Everything seemed to be played at half-tempo. Even “Highly Evolved,” which I don’t even think is three minutes long, which is supposed to be punchy and full of energy, sounded like the tape machine was running out of batteries. I wanted to hang on, prayed for an early “Get Free,” but it wasn’t getting better. We thought they’d pull it out, as “Outtathaway” started off pretty good, but it fell apart as it went. The following song started with an acoustic guitar, and James and I were out of there. I think we lasted five or six numbers, and it was awful. The singer was all over the place, practically delivering each line with a different vocal style. He’s cute, but not cute enough.

And yes, I know a lot of you want to give me shit for liking The Vines in the first place, but you guys are usually Hives fans and so you can just crawl away and die. At least I don’t make The Vines out to be anything more than crap with a couple good singles; Hives fans act like they are the return of genius, playing the same number twenty times in under an hour. Yippy. I bow to your overwhelming hipness.

Current Soundtrack: Massive Attack, Blue Lines


Thursday, March 20, 2003


So if I went by what some people say, I shouldn’t post in my blog because, well, there is a war, and somehow it’s inappropriate for me to talk about a girly manga like Man of Many Faces when people are dying.

I mean, no one has said that straight-up, but the thought seems to be a running theme in a lot of stuff. On NPR, there was a story on spring breakers, where some well-meaning college girl said, “It feels surreal to be lying on a beach while soldiers are on the other side of the world in mortal danger.” It’s a nice thought, and certainly life is different, but maybe the bigger question should be more about why normally you wouldn’t consider how lucky you are to be able to take a spring break when some people would love to have a job to take a break from, or the chance to go to school. Or that cops and fire fighters and other people are in danger every day.

I support the troops. My support is in wanting them to not have to fight and to come home safely. And my support is in making sure that life continues apace and that we continue to live it, which in some way is what they are fighting for. Are we all just supposed to hit pause until this is all over?

Howard Stern seems to be the most hypocritical. I like his show a lot, because it’s sick and wrong, but there is something ridiculous in him beating up celebrities for going forward with the Oscars, saying it’s self-centered and inappropriate. Yet he hasn’t stopped talking about anal sex and boobs to only discuss the war. He still details the minutiae of his life. That’s not self-centered?

To be honest, the only disappointing thing about the Oscars going forward is that they may not have the good sense to be frivolous. By Sunday night, I am sure we’ll all be sick of the endless loop of news, where the stations somehow stretch an hour of information into 24. We’ll want all the celebs to look fab and be dumb, but they’ll all feel like they have to be serious. Thank God I’ll be at the Erasure concert instead. I can’t imagine Andy Bell’s frivolity can be contained.

So, I stick with Man of Many Faces, because I am shallow and selfish and want my paychecks and entertainment.

Weirdly, Cheddar James and I have both noticed a strange increase in spam in general, and penis-enlarging spam in specific. Could someone be trying to get the message out, that if we made our rods bigger we wouldn’t feel the need to go fight?

Current Soundtrack: Muse, Hullabaloo disc 1


Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Not a lot to say. Starting to work on the second Man of Many Faces with little progress. Still recovering. In all, with the secret gig having lasted about two weeks, I did 128 manuscript pages. All in my off hours. Still very tired. Hopefully this will open doors and things will get very interesting from here on out, though.

This weekend is going to be a music overload, with The Vines & The Music on Thursday, Supergrass & The Coral on Friday, and Erasure in Seattle on Sunday. Ay yi yi. And there is a new Audrey Tautou film opening, but I will have to wait until the manga is done for that. Deadline is Monday.

Current soundtrack: commercials before Survivor

Saturday, March 15, 2003


I have nothing of any interest to write about right now, but I just did a short writing exercise for Kelly Sue's forum, an excellent haven for writers. This week she was inspired by Kipling's Just So Stories and gave us topics based on that. Mine was "Why Hair Grows." I was already planning to get my hair cut today, but this puts me in the mood even more.


Best beloved, as you recline and listen to my tales I can’t help but notice your resplendent, neatly groomed hair. Hair is truly one of the loveliest attributes that we, as humans, possess. Have you ever had cause to wonder why your hair grows rather than stay exactly as you want it to always be? Shall I tell you?

Many years ago, our hair had different properties. Once we reached a certain age, it grew to its ideal length and adopted its ideal shape, and so it would be until the day we died. So you with your curly hair just to the base of your neck—the way you always like it—would never have to spend your time and money at the hairdressers. Styling products were unnecessary, as well, leaving a lot less clutter in the bathrooms.

One day, a pretty young lady decided that she wanted to take care of people’s hair for them. She loved hair, and thought that more could be done with it than just letting it settle into one style. Knowing that location was the key to any successful business, she set up a shop in the center of town. Unfortunately, people didn’t react to this innovation very well. They all thought she was crazy. Why would they pay her to fix what they didn’t think was broke?

This made the girl very sad, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by one particular boy. He would pass by the girl’s shop on his way to work every day, and he had often admired her beauty. He was smitten with her, and finally, after several weeks, got up the courage to go inside and have her cut his hair, seeing it as the only way to really meet her. The boy enjoyed this time tremendously, chatting with her about their lives, feeling her hands on his scalp. Unfortunately, when it was all over, he had no excuse to see her again. His new hairstyle was fantastic, but now it was short, and there wasn’t enough left to do anything else with it.

Do you know what the boy did, best beloved? He decided that he needed to find a way to make his hair grow, otherwise the girl would be sad forever.

The boy tried everything he could. He hung himself upside down, had his friends pull on his bangs to see if they’d stretch, shampooed with plant growth formula—but nothing was working. He was about to give in to despair, but a last minute bout of tenacity stopped him. He wanted to make his crush happy, and so he became even more determined to force his hair to grow. He thought and thought and pushed with his mind, and before he knew it, he had a full mane.

This technique allowed him to return to the shop several times, and eventually members of the town saw how fun it was to have different hairstyles, and they began to make their hair grow, too. This brought the girl tremendous joy, as well as piles of money. Once she was rich enough, she traded the boy in for a younger model and went to Bermuda.

And that is why our hair continues to grow to this day.

Current Soundtrack: The Divine Comedy, A Short Album About Love

Saturday, March 08, 2003


I have big hair this evening. I took a shower and then took a nap with the cat in front of the heater without doing anything with my wet mop. It’s all poofed up now. The cat has the added bonus of having the cable modem in front of the heater. She sleeps on it and gets toasty on both sides. Happiness is a warm modem.


I watched a 1980 film called Hopscotch this evening. It stars Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson, Ned Beatty, and Sam Waterston from Law and Order. The liner notes in the Criterion DVD call it the “only ‘feel-good’ realistic spy film ever made,” and I think it’s a pretty good call. It’s definitely a charming film, with Matthau, of course, working his magic, playing a CIA agent who, rather than fade into bureaucratic obscurity, leads his fellow agents on a worldwide chase while leaking to them chapters of his very revealing memoirs. The film occasionally suffers from some ’70s television-style direction (Matthau departs on a joke, zoom in on the woman laughing!), but overall is a fun, obscure gem.

Watching it, however, was a tad bittersweet. I first saw Hopscotch 22 years ago, when it was in the theatres. It was a movie we had ended up settling on, after a long day of fighting between my parents.

You see, going to the movies wasn’t done when I was young. My father was a pastor and the church forbade it. Or at least my mother felt that way. To be honest, I don’t know for sure. My earliest film memories are of my dad sneaking off to the college near where we lived several times when I was very young (like four years old, maybe) and watching movies in their theatre, bringing me along. From the snatches of memory I have, it was mainly kung-fu movies, and oddly enough, Animal House. My young male mind recorded the scene where the woman takes her shirt off in the back of the car. Probably my first bra.

So, my dad enjoyed movies, and my mom didn’t.

We moved to California when I was seven, and he left the ministry. This corresponded with me becoming more aware of the cultural aspect of films. I was the only kid in my class who hadn’t seen Star Wars I am sure. (And before the wags try to say this is why I despise that film now, I should point out that when Empire was released, I sat in the theatre watching ever showing straight through one Saturday, and I used to shoplift Jedi action figures. It was an education in story that made me detest George Lucas. In other words, fuck yourself.) I think my new awareness connected both to just being in school and also, in Michigan, we only got two channels on our TV; in California, I discovered the joys of syndication and afternoon cartoons, and so became an advertising target. I started lobbying to see films, because I wanted to be part of it all. I think I first won with Lady & the Tramp, likely because it was Disney (church on Sunday nights had always caused me to miss The Wonderful World of Disney as well, so this was a big deal). The second movie was The Black Stallion. My mother tried to make me feel guilty about this, since I was bringing sin into the house. She pointed at my dad on the phone, and said, “See what he’s doing for you? He’s been calling around all day trying to find tickets?” I know now what bullshit that was, he was probably calling for show times, but to a seven-year-old, that was serious guilt.

I was probably eight by the time we saw Hopscotch. The movie my dad really wanted to see was Raging Bull. He told me this, and I burst out with, “But dad, that movie is rated R!” He tried to shush me, but it was too late. The row began. And it lasted all day, until finally my dad put his foot down and took us to Hopscotch. We waited in the car when he went to buy tickets, and my mother turned to me and said, “We’ll go see it with him, but we won’t enjoy it.” I can see how fitting it was now that she was creating a covert conspiracy, given the film’s subject matter. It was rated R, too, but really, she had nothing to worry about. Beatty says “fuck” about four times, one person says “son of a bitch,” but there is no sex and no bloodshed. It’s pretty tame. (And I knew those words already, and used them liberally on the playground.)

Very little memory remained of Hopscotch. Ned Beatty beating on the hood of the car (one of the times he said “fuck,” too), an inept agent being cornered by a Doberman, and that’s about it. I can see my dad really enjoying the film, and had I not been poisoned, I probably would have too. Matthau’s shenanigans would have been right up my alley.


The film was a brief break in working. As soon as I post this, it’s back to work for an hour or two before SNL. Looks like the secret gig will take me into next week, leaving me with a week to do the second volume of Man of Many Faces, which is six more days than I did the first volume in, so it should be fine. My upper arms actually ache from the typing. What’s up with that?

Current Soundtrack: Ms Dynamite, A Little Deeper


Tuesday, March 04, 2003


I’ve updated my Oni column, “Big Talk From the Smallest Face,” with a piece about some of the comics I came across at the Alternative Press Expo. buzz buzz buzz


Finished Clamp School Detectives vol. 2 last night. This gets me ahead by several days on that, and clears the decks for the other writing gig. It’s all about utilizing each window to its fullest. Had a night off from the one, did the other. Hope I will get tonight off, too, though, since I’ll have nothing going on and can chill.


I got hooked up with an advance of the new Blur record yesterday, Think Tank. They seem to be one of those bands that is always tipped to fall apart, where the knives are constantly out and the critics are waiting, thinking, “This is the album where they’ll blow it.” No such luck. Albarn and co. always seem to know what the next logical step is, maintaining their eclecticism and pushing it as close to the edge as they can without going over the line into wankery. I’m impressed. They really change it up this time around, yet still sound like the same band. The lack of Coxon is fairly obvious, though. Doesn’t rely on guitars at all.

I’ll be curious to see how people react. It’s been hip for a little over a year now for the wags to whinge about how there is no good music anymore. It seems to be a constant theme, wherever I go. Yet I manage to consistently have new records I am enjoying (though if you ask me what they are, 9 times out of 10 I'll go blank). In the last several weeks alone, I’ve gotten new discs by Nick Cave, Cat Power, Will Oldham, Massive Attack, Systemwide, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys. The Music is so-so, but I’m looking forward to hearing The Coral finally. What I’ve heard of the upcoming Placebo is pretty excellent, and the new Black Box Recorder is in the post right now.

Part of why I've struggled in the past with doing quick reviews for papers was I always felt my listening experience was tainted. If I got a new record and knew I had to write a review, I would spend each song wondering what I would say about it, not letting it sink in and just enjoying it—which is how I prefer to discover music. Often, when I hear someone complaining about an album, it seems to be reacting to what the record isn’t, as opposed to just listening to it for what it is. (I find this in comics criticism a lot, too.) Could it be that, with the proliferation of places for people to post their opinions on the internet, that fans have changed how they listen, as well, and are now more like half-assed music journos? Or am I just too much of a sucker for a nice hook?

Current Soundtrack: The Roots, Things Fall Apart


Sunday, March 02, 2003


Watching Mr. Joe Cellunaire talk on his telephone, in his light leather jacket and burgundy sweater, jeans and one of those concoctions that currently passes for sneakers but looks more like an old couch with laces, I realized that if you follow contemporary mainstream men’s fashions, you have two options. Either be this guy, and look like a dick, or be the other guy with baggy pants and backwards baseball cap, and look like a lazy dick. No wonder all guys are dicks. That’s what they’re sold in the catalogue. At least chicks have Delia’s. [side note: on the way home, I passed a dude in an “I *heart* Robots” shirt. Is it any wonder girls weren’t trailing behind him like he was the Pied Piper of Hot Buttered Sex?]

So, I devised a new trick to beat the home distractions of e-mail and clutternet. I unplug my modem. It’s in a different room than my computer, thanks to poor design. The cable jack is really inconvenient (the phone is worse, it’s in the kitchen). This makes the stupid impulse to log on contend with the walk to the modem, and the distance is my friend. This allows me to work at home rather than elsewhere (where I am now), which has the benefit of allowing me more music selections and space to wander. I like to walk around when I write. It works better for me than trying to think at my desk, and also helps the legs not to go numb.

Only problem is, I think on an average day this new trick will only work if I am writing at night. If I am hoping to wake up and get to work straight away, it’s not as easy. I think it tends to be a problem of the gray days here in Portland, and the added effects of not really leaving the house. I’m not going to fully come to consciousness unless I get out and moving. I have the same problem if I try to watch a movie on Saturday morning. I will likely fall asleep at least once, and no amount of coffee is going to do it. I had two cups at home (did I turn the pot off when I left?) since I woke up at 8:00 am, and I still didn’t get my ass in gear before noon. At least walking down here got my blood flowing.

When I get tired, it manifests itself physically in my eyes and my legs. The latter get stiff, and my knees pop a lot. I fidget, try to keep them straight, and my feet stop feeling like they belong in my shoes. In my eyes, it’s like someone has hung weights off the back of them and are threatening to pull them into the sea of my skull. It all can be a bit rough when I have to sit still and I’m having to stare at a computer screen, so whatever I can do to wipe those feelings away is good.

But contingency plans aren’t bad either. Low batteries on the MP3 player, no place to plug my laptop in—whichever runs out of juice first will send me home. (And considering I am halfway done now, it will most likely be a perfect time to bug out of here.)

Current Soundtrack: The Streets, Original Pirate Material; Rosita, “Sant Poca’s Dream” 7” EP; Morrissey, "Tomorrow" CD single


Saturday, March 01, 2003


I’ve been jumping from lily pad to lily pad this week. The secret project is progressing well, but it comes in pieces. Thursday I had no new components, so I jumped on Clamp School Detectives vol. 2, which is due this coming Friday. I got ¼ of it done. I also was open Tuesday night, so I finally got that pitch done for that comic story (more work-for-hire), before passing out midway through the night’s Buffy episode and sleeping straight through to morning. I suppose it was bound to happen.

I’ve been on a chip kick lately (crisps for you Brits). I’ve been liking tangy kinds, like last night’s Balsamic Vinegar and Sea Salt. Granny Goose’s Sweet Hawaiian Onion is also pretty damn good. Outside that, looks like the snack food of choice for the weekend will be Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, Watermelon flavor. Nummers!

Current Soundtrack: King Adora, Vibrate You