Come On, Let's Go.
30Nov/092

There Goes Another Novel

I've taken ill these last two days, so original content will have to be put on hold at least for a while. Considering today was spent intermittently napping and checking Google Reader, here are some fun links:

These two have been around a while, but they're always a blast. Strange Sisters and Gay on the Range collect covers of 1960s lesbian and gay pulp novels, respectively. They go anywhere from nostalgic and sentimental, to adorably campy, to just plain weird. There's also a few in disguise; purporting to be exposes ("Gay" slang dictionary for novelty purposes only) or "dramatizations" of vile, villainous and, dare I say, immoral acts of homosexuality. Now you'll have to pardon me, my newest shipment of completely straight physique magazines just arrived.

BoingBoing did a story on Cactus, a 24-year-old Swede who seems to release a new video game every third breath. Air Pirates resembles what I would have preferred last night's fever dreams to look like. If you don't feel like clickin' around or watching videos, here is the direct link to the download portion of his website. Cactus Arcade, a collection of seventeen (seventeen!) of his games is the brass ring.

New York Shitty presents Victoria Belanger's photos of a hamster inside a tiny recreation of the 4 train.

...and it is back to convalescing for me. Before I go, however, I'd like to remind all of you to keep track of the upcoming elections. Gay On The Range has declared a dark-horse candidate, so let's all remember to vote for...

26Nov/090

The Annual Pardon

Have a good Thanksgiving, everyone who celebrates it.

25Nov/091

Somewhere Sunny Summer’s Marching to a Different Drummer

I have a lot of trouble adjusting to the winter. For reasons unknown, my body goes into quasi-hibernation mode right after daylight savings kicks in. I get considerably more tired, more often, regardless of sunlight or caffeine intake. My mood tends to drop, out of nowhere, like the goddamn Tower of Terror. Any sort of ambition or will to do anything constructive (or even destructive!) gets put on hiatus until April, unless I absolutely force myself. Which is all great considering all this horsecrap falls right on top of finals, and by the look of it I'm going to be in school until I'm 30. I'm only barely kidding.

So, I find the best cure is to whip out the previous summer's Big Song. It's funny, actually; I listen to plenty of new music over the summer, but there's only ever a single song that I can genuinely identify with the season. Hell, this time I found the song in late April. There's just something so perfectly sunny about it. The guitars are bright, the voices are sincere, and while it's a breakup song, it definitely veers on the side of "better to have loved and lost" than "oh god come back." Which will hopefully steering me into feeling the former, rather than the latter, about this miserable change in seasons.

Without further ado, here is Dreamdate with their song "8 Sleeves" off 2009's album Patience:

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24Nov/091

I’m Your Biggest Fan, Pt. 2 of 3

I originally stumbled across Tim Kreider’s work (possibly NSFW) by accident, years before a formal introduction. The circumstances were so boring I can barely remember them. I was playing around with the freshly debuted Google Image Search and thought “‘Onan the Barbarian’, that’ll bring up some hilarity.” And it did (definitely NSFW.) Months (years?) later I was formally introduced to his art by way of this MetaFilter post. I instantly fell in love with his style. Obsessively attentive to detail and firing vitriol on all cylinders, he is the Angry Young Man who actually went ahead and did something about it.

One night, I was entertaining a pair of friends visiting from the West Coast. We were drinking coffee and trying to come up with plans for the next while; I’ve never been particularly good at showing people around and didn’t actually come up with anything to do beforehand. By chance and fortune, I remembered that Kreider was doing a signing at a nearby comic shop that night, and, luckily, both Amy and Robert were fond of his work. After quickly pulling up the address on Robert’s iPhone -- this was the first time I had ever had the chance to toy with one, and just about all of my too-hip-to-dig-Apple reluctance faded away when I realized I wouldn't have to call 411 and scribble cross streets down on a café napkin –- we headed off to Jim Hanley’s Universe.

The shop was, well, standard: ancient promo posters, homogenous chunks of manga trades, current issues on metal racks, nothing special. The signing hadn’t drawn a large crowd. There were three individuals, counting the man I was there to see, and I didn’t really recognize the other two. I made some small talk with one of them while Kreider spoke to a fan and cut the conversation short just as he freed up. I don’t remember whether I had already bought a copy of his book, or if he had them stacked up, but there I was, in front of him, trying to get some words out. Fortunately, he wasn’t remotely intimidating. Dressed in his trademark Really Nice Suit, he looked up with a kind-eyed smile from the cartoon on which he was working in the spare moments between fans.

For those of you familiar with his work, or if you glanced through it before reading this post, you are aware of the Tim Kreider he presents to us in his comics: drunk, involuntarily chaste, annoyed to the point of (fantasized) violent fury, and generally finding himself in situations that would arouse the reader’s pity if only they weren’t his own damn fault. Reading the artist’s statements which accompany his comics illustrate a man so furious at the goddamn bullshit around him, you’d think he was writing off melted keyboards as a business expense for his revolutionary front. The Real Tim Kreider was practically a polar opposite. He was genial, and even slightly shy in response to my stuttered “I, uh, er, uh, you’re fucking awesome, man.” While I’m used to gratitude from artists whom I compliment in person, the one issued from him was surreally genuine. I asked if my friend Igor, a burgeoning journalist, had already been there, and found out he had beaten me to it. Igor would go on to interview him for an article which now only only exists in the print copy of the magazine he was working for. Kreider and I discussed, among other things, his distaste for the Tom Tomorrow’s laziness, and my signed copy of his paperback collection now reads “Fuck Tom Tomorrow” as part of the heartfelt dedication. I asked for a "picture," leaving him stunned for a second, probably thinking I wanted him to whip up a cartoon on the spot (we're not talking about XKCD here, boys and girls.) Amy cleared the matter up by whipping out her camera, and we got a fantastic shot of what could easily be assumed is my encounter with John Edwards in a midtown comic book store.

NB: In addition to his comics (which are on quasi-hiatus,) Tim Kreider also blogs for the New York Times.

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23Nov/090

The Worst Cracker Time in Recorded History

How bad-ass is Bruce Lee?

Bruce Lee is so bad-ass he brings a snack to the last fight.

Enjoy this scene from Bruce Lee's The Big Boss while I finish off a paper for my Chinese Martial Arts Fiction class. Oh advanced English Literature electives, you crack me up.

19Nov/090

I’m Your Biggest Fan, Pt. 1 of 3

Growing up in New York has allowed me the privilege of meeting some of my favorite comics creators. I find signings genuinely fun: either you’re in-and-out with a few kind words exchanged, or you get to hang out on a line with a bunch of other fans of this thing you’re fond enough to wait on line for.

My friend and coworker Val, whose boyfriend worked at Forbidden Planet, the enormous comic book shop in the East Village, informed me of a Grant Morrison signing. The day of, I showed up at about seven in the morning. Considering the signing wasn’t until ten, there were only a half-dozen of us sitting on the Broadway side of Forbidden Planet in the August heat, killing time and exchanging trivia. I struck up a conversation with the dude directly in front of me. Usually crippled by anxiety in these sorts of moments, the fact that we were both wearing Sonic Youth t-shirts broke the ice enough to get some camaraderie going. Otherwise, there wasn’t anything particularly eventful about the wait, except for the moment when the manager asked us to re-queue onto 13th Street instead of Broadway, apologizing because he “[knew] there’s sun over there.” They distributed raffle cards for comics. I was excited; my raffle number was 6 – Mister Six being one of my favorite Morrison characters. I talked to some guy about Frank Quitely’s detail-driven illustration of All Star Superman. That guy may or may not have been the boyfriend-at-the-time of one of my good friends, who was also there. We once tried to figure out if we did meet, but even a green pompadour isn’t exactly memorable in the front of the line of fans of works like The Filth.

We slowly made our way to the front. Shannon, the gentleman I struck up a conversation with, whipped out a fancy camera and we agreed to take pictures of one another. The manager was standing near the front, gaping at Morrison just like the rest of us were. “Man, I’m really nervous,” I related to him. “Yeah. Me too, man.”

He was seated at a desk, looking tired as all get-out. Behind him, they had made a collage of all his recent covers: mostly Seven Soldiers and All-Star Superman, but a few rarities thrown in as well. I was getting my copy of Invisibles #1 signed, bought on a whim years earlier in Philadelphia. Shannon whipped out what may be considered the holy grail of Morrisonia: the complete 4-issue run of the unreprintable Flex Mentallo. Morrison signed his set with a chaos symbol on each issue and I snapped a couple of photos. Now, it was my turn. We exchanged a few words about some personal experiences I’ve had with his comics that I’m not about to relate, although his reply was a barely comprehensible “whatever doesn’t kill you, right?” He signed my copy with a big anarchy A. It was over before I could believe it. Shannon invited me to accompany him to the Museum of Comics and Comic Art convention going on at the same time, and we went off, still giddy from meeting not just a personal idol, but one of the most influential writers in modern comics.

18Nov/090

Make My Sad Songs More Sincere

After spending this last week bemoaning the dearth of worthwhile upcoming shows, I proceeded to set a personal record for most expensive concert tickets purchased at roughly 11:45 a.m. today. I will be seeing my probably favorite band of all time, The Magnetic Fields, live in Town Hall on March tenth. Their shows are unique for what is, ostensibly, a pop band. Both the audience and the band are seated, sedate, barely moving. When I saw them during the Distortion tour (a much-appreciated present from my girlfriend at the time, who was also responsible for my first time seeing my other favorite band of all time, the Mountain Goats) the band went so far as to have a honest-to-goodness sofa on stage for the cellist and guitarist. There are no drums in their live sets, but there is a grand piano. It feels, considering the stage banter, more like a revue than a band concert -- which is great, considering the nature of the band. One of my favorite exchanges during the aforementioned concert happened when someone yelled out "Freebird" - inappropriate and cliche during most concerts, hilariously absurd during this one. John Woo, the guitarist, played that first elongated steel guitar note cracked the audience right up. When the laughter and applause died down, Stephin Merritt, in his virtuosic deadpan: "You realize we're going to have to pay for that now?"

I can't wait to see them again.

(Photo by Dreamyshade.)

17Nov/092

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

Riding home from work on the F train one afternoon, I spotted the following.

I can’t guess to its origins; ostensibly they want to entice New Yorkers into reading literature by posting an admittedly fascinating opening line to an admittedly fascinating story. There are a lot of these quote-based ads on the train, usually funded by large corporations as a public good service. It is thanks to them that I now have, irreversibly, Pound’s “In A Station of the Metro” drilled into my brain. That one, along with Williams’ “This is Just to Say” (it’s the one about the plums) have been sitting in the adspace for years.

Anyway. Kafka? Really? I can only assume this is the work of a spited literature grad, forced to write copy for the MTA. I mean, I hope that’s how it came to be. I’d rather not consider, for instance, that not a single individual, at any point during the greenlighting of the thing, spoke up and mentioned something about how inappropriately dour it was, siccing that line on unwary, tired and hung-over commuters on their way to jobs they despise.

So, in an open statement to the MTA, I would like to advertise my own services for being the guy who selects terrible inappropriate opening lines to novels to advertise on the train. I’ve brought along some examples.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the post was claimed by a combination of a server crash and my poor backup habits. Sorry, folks.

16Nov/090

Turn On, Tune In, Strike Out.

Today is the 71st anniversary of Dr. Albert Hoffman's accidental synthesis of LSD-25. This day marks more the conception of the substance rather than the day mankind truly peeled back the flesh over its collective third eye. As we have a few more months until that anniversary – Bicycle Day, as it is referred to in the psychonauts' argot – I'll save the more involved post for then (I've noted it on my calendar and everything!) Let us now, however, celebrate this glorious accident with another one.

On June 12th, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis scored a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. The kicker? Legend and interviews have it that he had spent his time on the mound tripping the light fantastic. If you aren't aware of the inner workings of LSD, baseball, or both, the closest analogy I can come up with is that the man sleepwalked into the Olympic 100 meter dash and won. Or, as No Mas put it:

Of the 263 no-hitters ever thrown in the Big Leagues, we can only guess how many were aided by steroids, but we can say without question that only one was ever thrown on acid.

I'm not going to recount the entire story because WFMU has done a better and more thorough job than I ever could, but here's something new: an animation by No Mas and James Blagden, who is also responsible for the painting above, with audio from an NPR interview with Ellis wherein he discusses the game. Enjoy!

12Nov/090

Five More Martinis

The weekend is coming and I've got papers to write, so instead of a blog post y'all are getting a movie to watch.

Here is a playlist containing William Powell and Myrna Loy's classic 1934 film The Thin Man. The story is taken from the same-titled book by Dashiell Hammett, who also wrote The Maltese Falcon, later made into one of Humphrey Bogart's most memorable films. The plot is simple: retired detective Nick Charles and his younger, richer wife Nora Charles are trying their hardest to celebrate their recent nuptials with heavy drinking and sniping at one another in that wonderful thirties style. There's a murder to be solved and Nora, itching for action, gets her husband to take up his old game. The film is absolutely hilarious and considering the blistering speed of the dialogue, will continue to be hilarious upon re-watching, which you oughta. The Thin Man films formed a series spanning fourteen years and six films of unfortunately decreasing quality. I consider the first two to be the best, but they are all up on YouTube for watching. You can find the titles at the bottom of this page.

In case you need more convincing than my opinion, here's a compilation video of some of the best lines:

Anyhow, go and watch. Don't let the old-timey camera work and acting fool you for a second -- this film is one of the funniest I've ever seen.

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