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

Friday, April 30, 2004


My current favorite thing is the DVD that came packaged with the new Housemartins Best of. The CD itself is pretty pointless, as it is just Now That's What I Call Quite Good halved. But the DVD is priceless. Featuring all eight of the videos the band made, it's a crystalline example of why the '80s was often so incredibly fantastic--four nerdy boys dressed in sweaters and acting like absolute tits, working out little dance routines and having a generally good time, completely naive to how it might look. And is it possible not to smile in "Five Get Over Excited" when new drummer Dave Hemingway throws a sack over old drummer Hugh Whitaker and takes his seat behind the kit? If such a trade-off happened today, the lawyer would probably forbid the band from even talking about it, much less allow the departing member on the set of the vid'.

I discovered The Housemartins in high school. In my small desert town town, we had a brief alternative record store called Something Else Records. I would often spend an hour or more in there, looking through the vinyl and cassettes trying to decide what to buy. These were important purchases. There was no second choice if I bought something that was shit. I only had the money for one go. This was the place I bought my double-vinyl copy of Quadrophenia and my first CDs (Trash Can Sinatras' Cake and the Smiths' Peel Sessions, both used). On one of my trips, the attractive sales girl asked what I was into, and when I told her that The Smiths were my favorite band, she suggested I try The Housemartins and sent me home with a used copy of London 0 Hull 4 on LP. I was hooked. I soon had The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death and not long after Sassy magazine had a review of Welcome to The Beautiful South, and I was well on my way to a Paul Heaton love that lasts to this day.

Speaking of The Smiths, I've grown very excited about the new Moz. The clips online have been delectable teases, the video for "Irish Blood, English Heart" is good quiffy fun, and the press appearances that were getting me down a couple of weeks ago have turned a corner with great interviews in NME and Spin. The NME went for some harder questions, getting Morrissey to talk about serious stuff, while the Spin article captured him at his affable best--including the marvelous sense of humor that seemed to be missing elsewhere. The only downside was the prose of the article itself. Written by Mark Spitz, a fan who even has a Smiths-themed novel (How Soon Is Never?), his assessment of Morrissey seemed like he had only ever heard about the man through other people's opinions of him and was writing the piece to cater to the cliches. I am not sure I know a real Smiths fan that doesn't run screaming from anything that refers to Moz as the "Pope of Mope," and his shock that Morrissey is both capable of laughing and doing mundane, everyday things seems to have missed the train that transports a large part of the man's appeal.

I have been working. I turned in Ai Yori Aoshi volume 6 yesterday, a whole day early, and have completed a rough draft on a short story I am doing for one of Scott Allie's anthologies at Dark Horse. The artist on it is quite amazing, but I am not going to tell you who yet.

Current Soundtrack: The Beautiful South, Choke

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


An all Japanese film edition is now available in what is known as my DVD column, "Can You Picture That?"

Legal Drug vol. 1 was turned in on time last Friday. I now turn my attentions to Ai Yori Aoshi vol. 6.

Love Fights vol. 1 by the incomparable Andi Watson goes on sale this Wed. It is dedicated to me. I'm all, like, misty, Dobie.

I started reading Sensual Phrase, which is adapted by Kelly Sue DeConnick, a most ginchy Hon if ever there was one. In many ways, it's like a girl's version of Gravitation. Kelly Sue can do no wrong. We'll even forgive her for marrying a Counter Hon known to wear staw cowboy hats and work shirts with the sleeves ripped off.

Because I apparently lack focus, I started doodling the prologue to novel #3, They Are All In Love, last week. It would be nice to finish novel #2, but I had an idea and I wanted to jot it down. Hint: it has the Scott boys as little kids.

Current Soundtrack: Kylie Minogue, Body Language

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Friday, April 16, 2004


(Note: If one wishes to express one's tiredness through visuals, and searches Google for "yawn," 98% of the choices offerred are either babies or animals.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


The Who have released their first new music since, I think, their tracks on the Pete Townshend Iron Man record (an adaptation of the book that became the excellent animated film, The Iron Giant). Two new tracks, "Real Good Looking Boy" and "Old Red Wine," were tacked on a new greatest hits, Then & Now: 1964-2004, and are just Pete and Roger Daltrey. These were done following the last tour, so after John Entwistle had already passed. "Old Red Wine," in fact, is purported to be about him.

Now, stop for a second and consider the Herculean task that lies before these two guys recording together and attaching them to a run of their best singles. How could this possibly be successful? Can that magic, the chemistry, be recaptured? Even if their number hadn?t been reduced by half over the years, could the chemistry be regained?

The answer is probably "no," and so it would be easy to dismiss the two songs as plain bad, and not the "eh, 's all right," as is more likely the case. Neither is anything special, but they are also probably no worse than anything on Face Dances. "Pretty Good Looking Boy" is the least Whoeriffic. It's marred by a misguided incorporation of "Can't Help Falling In Love" and a piano that is obviously electronic, and thus cheap sounding. Overall, it never really takes off, and falls short of recapturing Townshend's youth-as-outsider themes he reaches for in the lyrics.

"Old Red Wine" fares better, and it's mainly down to the final section where something actually happnes. Pete starts pounding his guitar, and the song barrels toward its end. The tempo and the string section hearken back to Who's Next, though, honestly, more of a cover of the style of Who's Next than anything comparable in songcraft.

Which is a far more negative review in the end than I started out with. Interesting.

My favorite song right now is actually the Pet Shop Boys b-side "I Didn't Get Where I Am Today:(from the new "Flamboyant" single). The lyrics are a fun play on pop cliches, reclaiming them as truism, and the whole thing is hung on a Johnny Marr guitar hook that sounds a hell of a lot like "Last Train To Clarksville." Too perfect.

The book I've most recently conquered, and fell completely heels over head for, was Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love. I became interested in the Mitford Sisters through an Auteurs song of that name that came out on Das Capital last year. I discovered Chynna Clugston-Major was a fan, and she gave me a bio of the girls for Christmas. I decided to read Nancy's book beforehand since I wanted a well-rounded view of what's called the Mitford Industry, but also wanted to enter the fiction fresh.

And wow! My socks are off. Knocked right through my shoes.

Mitford writes like a gossipy Fitzgerald, whispering her secrets into your ear, inviting you into the secret clubhouse (the Hons Cupboard, as it were). The prose is adorned in all the right places, and done so without unnecessary trimmings; what decoration is there is so natural, you barely notice the way it wraps around you. Adopting the identity of a distant cousin, she digs through her family's eccentricities and romances and focuses on one sister, Linda, the sensitive and strange one, as she explores the affairs of her heart. Linda holds her resolve in life, even when the world is falling apart with the onset of WWII and her childhood companions grow up.

I find in modern fiction we are often presented with the beautiful and mysterious female and asked to accept that she is beautiful and mysterious without ever being convinced through her portrayal that this is true, as if others being in love with her is enough to make us be in love with her (Jen De Guzman, herself beautiful and mysterious, touches on this in noting in her live journal that Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a successful version of said character type). I think that was a downfall of the film version of The Virgin Suicides, and is also common in comics (My Faith In Frankie, Liberty Meadows, and Private Beach spring to mind). Mitford has no such problem. She shares Linda with us in such loving detail, we can?t help but be smitten by her (and I admit to a little crush on the narrator, Fanny, as well--but then, I also always liked Nick Carraway).

This is actually a particular strength of Mitford's. Her characters are all a little left of center, and portrayals of the tantrum-prone Uncle Matthew or the gastric-obsessed Davey could have easily been cruel. Instead, she presents them genially, and it's hard not to adore all of them for their craziness. In other hands, they would all be caricatures and possibly very shallow. Only the narrator's mother, the Bolter, and Linda's husbands end up being dislikeable, and that's because we're supposed to not like them. The writer's emotions are in the proper place, and she understands how to guide her readers there.

So, I'm a complete Mitford convert. The bio is next for me, and my Pursuit of Love came coupled with Love In A Cold Climate. I have already added a couple of Jessica Mitford's books to my wish list, as well.

Oh, and does anyone know if these girls at all inspired Margaret Atwood in writing The Blind Assassin? There are some neat parallels, including falling in love with a commie!

Current Soundtrack: King Adora, Who Do You Love?

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Sunday, April 04, 2004


It's actually nice to get back to CLAMP. I don't count the novel, it's its own animal. I haven't done a CLAMP manga since wrapping Duklyon, and not one I really liked since Man of Many Faces. Legal Drug feels like a natural fit. It may be the easiest first volume I've ever started, with very little need to get my sea legs. Plus, the art is a particularly smooth style--sort of like Clover, but a little more manly.

The story seems fun. A shady pharmacy owner has two boys on staff who he sends off on mysterious missions. Throw in some mental powers, supernatural phenomena, and some boy-on-boy romance, and you've got classic CLAMP. Including their usual naiveté--like having a pot leaf as part of the design, even though so far the only connection to drugs is the pharmacy (and thus, nothing recreational or illegal).

By the by, the previously mentioned Saturday routine lasted about two weekends and is already gone. I am considering trying to make Sunday a work day instead, making my leisure day immediately after the work week. It all depends, I guess. I have two weeks to do this book, so it's all down to how it flows.

On the way home I found a Philip Roth book on a cut-out table for $2.99. And bought Nutella crepes.

Current Soundtrack: Kanye West, College Dropout; Idlewild, Hope Is Important

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

Saturday, April 03, 2004


I survived the first week of double job duty, and ended up spending my Friday seeing a friend's band. Steven Birch, who designed a large portion of Oni's early books, is the guitarist in Audio Learning Center; the singer and bassist is Chris Brady, known previously as the leader of seminal '90s indie act Pond. The band is releasing their second album on Vagrant, Cope Park, and their gig at Dante's was their record release party. (If you follow the link to the Vagrant site, once you enter past the ALC intro, a pop-up for the album will emerge, and the bio on that pop-up is the one I did the rewrite on, in case you're interested.)

The gig went really well, with a particularly powerhouse performance from drummer Paul Johnson. ALC played tunes off of both their debut (the excellently titled Friendships Often Fade Away) and Cope Park, as well as one new one, which has to be one of my favorites of their entire catalogue. It's a bit rockier, which is what I like from them. They tend to be from that slow verse-fast chorus emotional school, which isn't always my cup of tea, so when they pick up the pace, it grooves me a little more. For my money, Birch is the guy that makes ALC work. He has a knack for doubling up on riffs, and the songs often flow under the momentum of his guitar work.

All in all, a nice end to an otherwise tiresome week (though, I was none to pleased to wake up with an inexplicable headache this morning; I think starting Legal Drug today is a wash). The noise around my Big Talk column has gone from amusing to me having my fill. Funny that a lot of the criticism it got was over things I either didn't say, or people who didn't resemble the remarks choosing to be offended because they didn't resemble the remarks. I also got a lot of positive responses from various corners of the industry, and I saw a couple of healthy debates erupt--so, successful, I'd say.

Current Soundtrack:808 State, Outpost Transmission

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website