Friday, May 31, 2013

Band Review: An Honest Year


An Honest Year does not actually follow me on Twitter, but their lead guitarist, Stephen Morrell, does, so good enough. They get a review, and I like them, so it’s even better.

Also, they inspired me, because their ReverbNation bio indicates that they started out with Skype rehearsals. I have actually considered doing that, but it seemed impractical. I’m sure it still is for long term, but that you can start out that way seems kind of hopeful.

Stories are cool, but it always comes down to the music. Musically, An Honest Year comes with an infectious sense of fun. They’re pretty solidly within the pop genre, although more on the alternative/punk side. It is upbeat, it is danceable, but also, there are some edges there. The opening to “Starting Over” is pretty hardcore, honestly reminding me of Metallica a little, but is just a few bars.

Perhaps it is this underlying power that keeps them from cloying or getting annoying, or that there is variety in their songs, or their energy. It just feels important to clarify—I am not in any way using “pop” negatively. On some of their pages they list as similar to All Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, and Yellowcard. I tend to agree, which does reinforce the pop punk/alternative punk argum

If I were going to judge them, it would be for the Taylor Swift cover (“I Knew You Were Trouble”), but they do a pretty good job of it, and I’ve admitted before that my hatred of her is not logical. They also do an Avril Lavigne cover (“Here’s to Never Growing Up”, which I like considerably better), and a Coldplay cover (“Sparks”).

That leads to a pretty good point. For purchasing, you can go through iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp, but you will generally find three songs available. Going to the Youtube channel will give you the three covers, the three widely available for purchase songs (“You and All Your Friends”, “Starting Over”, and “Second Guessing”), as well as an official video for “Liar & A Thief” and a lyrics video for “You And All Your Friends”. (And to get an idea of their fun, check out the photo with the Taylor Swift cover.)

While I do encourage you to buy some songs, obviously you should also go to Youtube. It also seems reasonable to believe that there is more on the way, and if the last two are newer, it shows a sound that is maturing and improving, but it still really fun. So, check them out.

http://www.amazon.com/An-Honest-Year/dp/B009B2SXT8/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/an-honest-year-single/id562153808

http://www.youtube.com/user/anhonestyear

https://www.facebook.com/#!/anhonestyear

https://twitter.com/AnHonestYear

http://an-honest-year.tumblr.com/

http://anhonestyear.bandcamp.com/

http://www.reverbnation.com/anhonestyear

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Band Review: Amarante


I wasn’t sure where to start with Amarante. They describe themselves as Indie Folk, but there is a much more exotic feel to the music than that would suggest. Then this video helped a lot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIt4ER0PElc

First of all, the music that you do hear (“The Wanderer”) is fairly representative of the sound of the album, Udana Prana. Beyond that, I just felt like I understood them better afterwards. This is the ethos of the band: two parents, collaborating together, joyfully involving their children, and very based in the home. There is still that feeling of exoticism, but it is grounded in the home life.

I would say there is also a connection to nature, and not just because of the bird sounds on “The Travelers”. Some of it is the instruments used, and the harmonies. It feels like there is a Far East focus on harmony, including harmony with nature and between each other. There is sort of a meditative feel. It is too lively for meditation, but could work well for a soothing background.

It looks like the only purchasing options are currently through Bandcamp, though you can link via either Facebook or the bandsite.

http://amarantemusic.com/

http://soundcloud.com/amarantemusic/

http://www.youtube.com/user/AmaranteMusic

https://www.facebook.com/#!/Amarantemusic

https://twitter.com/AmaranteMusic

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Passengers in time

The reason I don’t like talking about this is because it is not really about me. It’s about Mom, and there are conceivably people who will read this who know her, so I’m hesitant. However, I do feel it. It’s a part of my life too. And, it might help someone.

Mom has been having some memory issues. Her mother had Alzheimer’s, and one of her sisters does now, so there is that risk. Some testing has indicated that she does not specifically have that, but a cognition test put her right at the borderline for having some dementia.

She doesn’t forget herself. Like, with her sister, Giovanna has periods of just seeming far away, and then when she is there she keeps forgetting where she is and where she lives. Because of that, she has a tendency to wander away from her apartment, which is scary for everyone. Sometimes she does not recognize her husband. Also, she forgets to clean, which is so unlike her. She is probably going to have to be put into a nursing home just for safety.

Mom has not been doing any of that; she just has a hard time taking in new information. I think a lot of it is that she does not pay attention. She asks one question, but instead of listening for the answer she is thinking about the other things she needs to do, and to ask, and so she will ask that one question five times.

The really frustrating thing is that sometimes she will get false information in her head. I think the sees something that she is not sure about, so she tries to figure out how it happened, and she constructs an explanation that is wrong, and very hard to get out of her head.

Still, she can get some things in her head, and I think if she could make herself focus more, she would do better. That’s why I want her to take tai chi; I think it will help her be present in the moment, instead of trying to pin down all future and potential moments. I am breaking down her resistance to tai chi, but it took me six months just to get her to try Indian food.

So there is a lot of repeating, and I am fairly patient with that. There are other things that are worse, like getting ready for this trip. She would forget we were going, and panic, and I would have to convince her over and over again that various things would be fine, or were covered, and that gets exhausting. Because this was extra stress, that was extra work, and no small part of my getting worn down. Still, at least she knew who she was.

The time in transit was very hard anyway, but I guess the travel itself was disorienting. She kept forgetting where we were and where we were going and where we had been. She said we were taking a really roundabout route, but then I found that she thought we had been in Canada, and that we were going home, or that we would see the dogs when we landed, when we were just getting to Verona.

That actually lasted through the trip, having to remind her which day it was, and which day things would happen, and that she did not have any clothes in her carryon, and that I did not have any moisturizer to lend her, and on through the trip home.

The worst part happened on the trip out though. It was during the taxi on the last flight, and she said something about going home and I was reminding her that we weren’t yet, and she was confused about where we lived, so I told her. She looked at me like I was teasing her. “I don’t live in Aloha, Oregon.” And I nearly started to cry.

And then the plane took off into the air, and it startled her and I reached for her hand, and a minute later she said, “I know I live in Oregon” and she really started to enjoy the flight. There were other reminders and confused moments, but that was the worst.

I think part of the problem was that in addition to the usual stresses, both places are home. We were leaving where she lives for where she grew up, and her children for her siblings, so maybe some confusion is natural. She’s doing pretty well now.

Still, hearing that, and then seeing Giovanna and how she has changed, and how others have declined, there was a lot of sadness. Things aren’t the way they used to be, and there’s still a lot of good, but there’s loss too.

And there’s some dread too, because what if Mom does get worse? That moment on the plane didn’t fade very quickly. And what if at some point I lose myself? I don’t know.

For now, I am grateful that she is better, and grateful that my cousin and his wife are so patient with my aunt. I am grateful that my widowed aunt and uncle’s children are so good to them. I am grateful that my other widowed aunt, who has no children, is remembered by her nieces and nephews, though she does not make their task easy. I am grateful to know that there is more to the soul than our time here.

Mainly, I am grateful for love, so that’s where I’ll pick up next week. It gets better from here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An inauspicious beginning

The other two blogs have already covered some of the issues with the trip. Yes, there were long layovers, along with long flights on the way there, which is very tiring, and Frankfurt airport is horrible, and Mom’s luggage was not in Verona when we got there.

We arrived at a time of flooding, with heavy rains and lightning flashes on the drive to Vicenza, and there was no free Wifi outside of airports, and then when we came home my bag wasn’t there, and I arrived home to a broken computer, messed up internet router, and now the float in the toilet needs replacing, which I cannot do on my own.

Fortunately, it’s Rose Festival, so I am seriously considering heading for the Fun Center, getting on a ride, and letting out all the pent-up screams in an appropriate setting. However, I’m not really much of a screamer. On roller coasters I usually just laugh. So, though I have wanted to scream, especially at the airport, it would probably just be forcing it now.

There were really good things about the trip, and I will write about those too. I’m just going to go over the bad things first, and get them out of the way, and then we are on an upward trajectory. And, there are good things from the bad: some lessons, or some humor, or something.

First of all, let’s talk more about the luggage. You know, Air Dolomiti, who took us from Frankfurt to Verona, gives you packaged wet washcloths. My plan was to wait until we were getting close to landing and then freshen up a bit. After all, we had left the house at 8:30 Wednesday morning, and were arriving at 7:15 Thursday evening, so even with the time difference, it’s a lot of time to be up, and two of my cousins were meeting us, and I wanted to be kind of fresh.

Well, I tried that plan, but after watching the carousel go around three times, and Mom’s bag still wasn’t there, and hunting and going for help, there was no freshness left. But really, that part wasn’t that bad. It was frustrating, but we filled out the paperwork, and I had to believe they would find it. It was the bag with Mom’s clothes, but my toiletries were in it. For one night, it didn’t seem too awful.

The next day Carlo called. Our bags had been left in San Francisco, but they were on the way, and they would deliver them. Okay, we could handle this. Remember, we are staying with an elderly aunt, and there are no 24-hour pharmacies and things. I suppose we could have found a way to get new toothbrushes, but she frets over everything, and we were going to get our bags the next day. Then we didn’t.

They never called to update us. Every update we got came through either Carlo or Alberto calling for us. The first problem was that they got the bag to Italy, but not to Verona – it went to Bologna. Okay, one more day, except there were no updates again. Maybe they don’t do deliveries on weekends, but no one actually admitted that.

Finally, Monday, Alberto went to Verona and picked up the bags and brought them to us. Valeria, his wife, told us that she heard him on the phone and he was being really forceful with them. I think without him, we would have just ended up picking them up when we left on Wednesday, or not realizing that we could and the bags arriving in America two weeks later.

Being stuck in the same clothes was frustrating for Mom, but also, I had not realized how emotionally dependent she is on her moisturizers and cosmetics. I don’t think she really needs them. I know people who need makeup, but she looks pretty good without it. And, yes, her skin is great, but mine is pretty similar to how hers was at my age, and I don’t use all that product, so it might just be genetics. Washing my hair with only water worked better than I thought, but still, the lack of toothbrushes was the worst. My teeth were fuzzy. Never let anyone separate you from your toothbrush.

The other thing that was really hard, well, it’s harder to talk about, and longer, so I think we’ll just do that tomorrow. One different thing was that with the short duration of the trip, I never adjusted to the time change, and sleep was bad. I lay awake a lot, though I was able to nap some, so that could have been worse, but it does lead to one weird and random thing.

One time when I actually was sleeping, I had a dream where I was on a trolley kind of near my home (there is not really one there) and I was in only a towel. Well, that was awkward, but I knew it was a dream, and I had a fair amount of control. Like I actually pinched myself in the dream and did not feel it, which I have never done before, but I knew it was a dream before I didn’t feel the pinch.

Anyway, it was awkward not being dressed, so I got off the trolley and started walking home to wake up, and that wasn’t working, and I thought, I should just wake up. I wasn’t awake though, so I focused harder on waking up and it was like I felt my legs start walking up a wall, though there was no wall, and I was moving up in my consciousness and I did in fact wake up.

If I had known how much trouble I would have sleeping for the rest of the week, I might not have been so determined to wake up, but it was still kind of cool. And freaky.

http://sporktogo.blogspot.com/2013/05/why-i-hate-frankfurt-airport.html
http://preparedspork.blogspot.com/2013/05/preparing-to-lose-your-luggage.html

Monday, May 27, 2013

Return to Italy

I know I said I was going out of town, and the erratic blog posting reflected that, but I didn’t really say much about the trip. There was too much going on with it, and it was taking a toll. Now I’m ready to start writing.

Just to catch up anyone who doesn’t already know, my mother is Italian. She married an American soldier who was stationed there when she was seventeen, coming to America just before she turned eighteen. All of her family is in Vicenza.

Julie and Maria and I have all been there with Mom, but not together. We have seen a fair amount of things. Vicenza is pretty close to Venice and Verona, so we have been there, and other places in the area, but only in that area.

The three of us really wanted to go together and see other places. Specifically, we wanted to go to Florence and Rome, and some other places nearby, and see family, of course. We will always want to see them. We were looking at September, and trying to figure out do we drop Mom off in Vicenza, or bring her for part of it, and all of that, and then things changed.

Our brother and his wife planned a tour of Italy that would end in Venice, so near Vicenza, and they wanted to see family, and they needed someone there who spoke the language. The time range they were looking at was May 19th through 21st, but it ended up just being the 21st.

I tried to find a way to make everything work, but it was not happening, and then Maria’s boss would not let her have the time off, and suddenly I realized that our trip was not happening now. Mom needed to go; that couldn’t wait. She could not go alone, and I did argue that it might make more sense for Julie to go with her, because Julie earns more, and gets more time off, but really, it was always going to be me. I speak the language, I have the patience, and it was just how it was going to be.

And honestly, there was some relief in figuring that out, because suddenly we had a plan that worked, but it wasn’t what we wanted at all. I don’t know when we will get our trip, but pretty much everything we wanted to see, my brother and his wife have now already seen. And it was fair, because he had not been in Italy since he was three, and remembered nothing, and she had never been, and we have all at least had some experiences and met everyone, but it also felt like an imposition, and that maybe we should have said something, but we waited too long, and so there was stress there.

There were other things to make it not completely relaxing either. Mom was stressing about the trip, and it was my job to keep talking her down from the ledge. Many of her concerns were valid. It is a physically exhausting trip, all of her surviving siblings are old, and yes, there were absolutely money concerns, though a few months wouldn’t have made too big of a difference there.

A few months could make a difference for Mom seeing her family though. When she and I went in 2008, I remember feeling a sense of urgency about it, like we couldn’t keep putting it off. A few months after we got back, one brother died, and then a few months after that, a sister. And they were the ones you would never have expected. Mom is the youngest, but Paolo was just above her, and Luciana was so vibrant. Now there are the two oldest, who will be 91 and 90 in August, and the fourth oldest, who has Alzheimers. It was not going to be easy, and there was this sense that after getting back the phone calls would start in a few months, and we would lose them all. And that’s not a reason to delay going, but it doesn’t make you feel eager either.

Some of it is that I was in a funk too. Part of that was the stress of the trip, but it was not only that. I was trying to do too much, and getting worn out. I felt like my writing was missing some spark, and I wasn’t getting anywhere with my reading, and was just overtired.

No one tells you “Oh poor baby, you have to go to Italy,” unless they are saying it sarcastically. And I didn’t really want anyone to say that, but what they were saying was “Lucky” and “I’m so jealous” and that did not feel right at all. I was leaving my sisters behind, and facing age and death (and fretfulness), and possibly resenting my brother, and I was stressed, and not feeling the way I wanted to feel.

I was also going to the place I love, with the people I love, and for reasons that I had felt were right, so I had to trust and see how things would turn out.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Behind “The Light Behind Your Eyes”

All of the chapter titles in When The Lights Go Out are either track titles (including one B-side) or bits of lyrics from Danger Days: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.

This one is not. “The Light Behind Your Eyes” is off of Conventional Weapons, though the history of both albums is closely linked, and so it feels like a reasonable extension.

If you haven’t read my very long story, this is where I fill in what makes yesterday’s post make sense, and there are tons of spoilers coming up.

It started with the My Chemical Romance video for “Sing”, where the entire band dies getting the Kid away from BLInd, an evil corporate entity. It hit me hard, and I could not leave them dead. Presumptuous, I know, but that’s fan fiction for you.

A new character, Jane, was able to get them out by sacrificing her own life, and that felt like it worked initially, but also, they were still going to die, just later, and I couldn’t leave Jane dead either, which felt really lame of me, but then she dies too. In the end, Frank lives, and is able to stop running with all of the other characters who have not died. Since they have acquired several more children by the time this happens, it’s good that some adults lived.

The last scene before this chapter was at the burial for Gerard and Jane, Frank is there, and it is heartbreaking that he has been left behind, but he pulls Sophie and Latron closer and he is facing the future, and that’s kind of what the whole thing is about. You lose people and you continue to love and help each other, and for all the pain in that there is joy too.

I thought I was done, but then I heard the song, “The Light Behind Your Eyes”. It very much has the feel of a lullabye, but also, here is how it starts:

So long to all of my friends
Everyone of them met tragic ends
With every passing day
I’d be lying if I didn’t say
That I miss them all tonight
And if they only knew what I would say

To me, it just very much became Frank comforting Sophie, but doing it while hurting on his own. There was never any doubt that he would rise to the occasion, and be there for the others, but there was also a sense of how difficult and how lonely it would be, and somehow I felt like he would get some help with a ghostly visitor. Well, maybe it was more angelic. Anyway, Jane comes one night.

I did worry that I was favoring Jane too much; maybe it should be Gerard or Ray or Mikey, or Frank's parents or grandfather. However, it felt right that it was Jane, and I think there are a few reasons for that.

One is that it goes back to a conversation that they had earlier, where she tells him that he will live and have children and grandchildren. It is not obvious on the first pass, but looking back it is very obvious that as much as she knows that Frank has a future, Jane knows that she does not.

Also, I think if it was anyone else, it would be too unbearable to stay. Jane had been in Frank’s life for the shortest amount of time, while still getting fairly close to him, and it was through her that he met the others that he is with now, and they are the ones he needs to cling to. His family or his friends would be more of a reminder of his loss, while Jane is the least connected to his past and the most connected to his present

And ultimately, in one sense Jane only traded her life for Frank’s. Her actions gave Mikey and Ray about another seven weeks, and then she and Gerard had probably another month beyond that. That’s not to negate that time, because some important things happened. Relationships were strengthened, finding out that Grace’s father was alive was huge for the men who had been protecting her, and there were good things.

This chapter reinforces that life is short, and that the relationships we share with others are what’s important, but the other chapters do that too. I think the reason it needed to be written was the hope. Seeing so many people who are dealing with depression and grief, I wanted to put out there that it can be soothed in surprising and unexpected ways. I wanted to remind everyone how much love is out there, and to take and give it all. And life is precious. Death is fine, but as long as we have life we need to make it good.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Light Behind Your Eyes

Frank thought that everyone else was asleep. That was always when he would slip outside, and try and shake off the things that weighed him down. Once everyone was asleep, when no one needed him, that’s when he would go. But as soon as he stepped out, Frank felt a small hand slip into his. It was Sophie, of course. This was not the first time.

Frank smiled down at her sad face.

“Bad dream?”

Sophie nodded solemnly.

Frank picked Sophie up and let her rest her head on his shoulder. He spoke soothingly.

“It’s okay. I get them too.”

“Everybody was gone.”

“I’m here. I’ll stay with you while you fall asleep.”

It wasn’t really screaming nightmares for either of them; just reminders sometimes about how many people had gone, and how alone they felt. They were all worried about people trying to exploit the children’s powers, or just how unstable things were, but Deanna still thought that they might be able to locate relatives, or maybe even new families, for some of the children.

They might, but even if everything worked out beyond their best expectations, Frank knew that wouldn’t work for Sophie. There had been too much loss for her, and he couldn’t ask her to start over again. She would have to stay with at least one of them, if they started splitting up.

They had, a little. Park was back with his parents, and Beck with his wife. Harry’s place had been ransacked, but he was primarily living there now. Most of them were staying at the school though. Once their lives were no longer in danger, it was the most practical place. It didn’t feel exactly right, but nothing did anymore.

Sophie was asleep again. That hadn’t taken too long, and she had stayed asleep the two nights before. Things seemed to be getting better.

He went to his own bed, thinking about the guitar underneath. Sometimes he would think about singing or playing the children to sleep, but would feel his throat closing at the thought. He wondered if he would ever play again.

Frank got into bed, but stayed sitting up, knowing he would not be able to sleep. He was so tired, and so restless. How long was it going to be like this? What was it going to take? He never expected to see Jane. She was there though, sitting on the edge of the bed, facing him. The room had been dark, but it was light now.

“Jane! How?”

“Hello Frank.”

“Am I dreaming?”

“No, this is real.”

Jane smiled warmly.

Having her there, it was impossible not to say what he had felt so many times.

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you. I tried--”

She could not let Frank continue like that. Jane shook her head.

“It’s fine. I told you it would be okay.”

“Not for me.”

Jane nodded sympathetically.

“I know it’s been hard. That’s why I came. I wanted you to know that it’s okay, not just from me, but from all of us. I know I’m not the only one you miss.”

“So…you’re all together?”

“More than you think,” Jane smiled. “Your mother and Mitch’s wife are really good friends now.”

“Mom? Really?” A small smile played against Frank’s lips. “Can I tell Mitch? I have to be able to tell them, it will be impossible not to.”

“No, it won’t. You’re not going to remember.”

That was almost too much to bear.

“What’s the point in coming if I won’t even know it happened?”

“Your mind won’t remember, not until you see me again, but your heart will. This feeling will stay.”

“I don’t know if that will be enough. It’s been…I’m not…” He could not put his frustration into words, but she did it for him.

“You’re tired and sad, and you don’t know what to do.”

“All of those things.”

“But you keep doing them anyway, and it’s going to get easier, I promise. It would have anyway. I’m just trying to speed things up.”

Frank shook his head, but he was smiling.

“You’ve always had way too much confidence in me.”

“No, it’s the right amount.”

“Are you going to visit anyone else? I’m not the only one who misses you.”

“But you’re the most important, because you take care of them for me.”

Frank nodded, knowing it was true. He had never wanted that responsibility, but it had happened, somehow, and somehow it was the way it had to be. There was some peace with it, but he still felt so tired, and he told her.

“ I’ll stay with you while you fall asleep.”

“That takes a long time.”

“Not tonight. You’re going to feel better tomorrow.”

“That will take a miracle. Oh.”

Jane shook her head again, but she was beaming.

“Now, eyes closed. I know you do this for the kids all the time, tonight I’m here for you.”

It was almost impossible to keep his eyes open. He didn’t want to let her go yet, but he knew it was happening. Still, it felt good to know she was there.

“I just miss you all so much.”

“That’s mutual. But Frank, as much love as we have for you, there is so much more waiting for you here. Here in this building, and in this city, and back in Greenvale, people you haven’t met yet, and even love from people who still aren’t born. So much love, and happiness, and we’ll still be there when you’re done.”

Her words did register as Frank drifted away. He may have noticed the room getting brighter, but he was sound asleep when the light faded and Jane was gone. He knew nothing at all until morning.

And then suddenly, it was morning, and there was a muffled crash outside the room, and possibly some laughter, but definitely no screaming. It was probably Jason and Tyrone. They were early risers, and active, to say the least.

Frank got up to check, grinning, and then he stopped. He was grinning; how had that happened?

Looking around the room, it was the same, but something was different. Was it him? But there were more footsteps, and they were running, so there wasn’t time to think about it then, just time to notice in surprise that he was starting to hum.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The expanding heart

Okay, here’s where I get maudlin.
Some of this is that I am traveling, and was hoping to post from the road, so had some pre-written things ready to go. However, I only had about five minutes of  internet. I used those five minutes to push the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday pieces live. Normally I should be doing band reviews for the next two days but instead I am going to post the things that were supposed to go up Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Saturday things will get back to normal, with the travel blog covering A Bug's Land in California Adventure.
Tomorrow’s piece will be an addition I wrote to the comic book. Well, I guess I can’t call it THE comic book anymore. There’s at least two now. I did post it on Ficwad.com, and there the entire story is called When the Lights Go Out, which I don’t love, and this chapter is called “The Light Behind Your Eyes”, which is the right title.
The problem is that not everyone will have context for it, so do I explain, and how much? That will be Friday.
Today I am just letting you know what’s coming up, and giving you one tortured metaphor, but it could be meaningful to someone.
I was thinking about how when you break a bone, new bone grows, making the limb slightly longer than it was. If you could not get those pieces back together, like in the case of an amputation, the limb would be smaller. The metaphor part is taking that to your heart. We get hurt all the time. We can let people go and relationships go, and our hearts will be diminished, becoming small and nubby. Or, we can hang on to that piece of our hearts, letting new heart grow and join it back together, and then our hearts are getting bigger. That can be a messy process, but I think it would still come out beautiful. I’d like to mess around with some construction paper and tissue paper to get an illustration of it, but this is probably already overkill. It is so cheesy, I can barely stand it. It’s just also kind of true.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Band Review: Freakhouse


I know about Freakhouse because they followed me on Twitter.
My first impression was that they reminded me of an 80’s hair band – not through their hair styles, but with the sound. And that’s not a pejorative, because I’m into that, but it didn’t sound exactly accurate either. Other thoughts that came through my head were Iron Maiden and Slade, neither of which I would categorize as a hair band, and Slade isn’t really even 80’s.
I guess that means their music is built on a solid foundation of classic rock, with its varied history and aspects, but the vocals are often doing that growling thing which I associate with more contemporary bands.
Honestly it would be a mistake to try to hard to confine Freakhouse to a specific genre, because they cover some interesting ground. Yes, there are the more traditional songs, leaning mostly towards hard rock. However, then you find “My Brain Is Bigger Than Yours”, which granted was mixed by Lazy Rich, so there is another influence there, but it is pretty straight techno funk. “Motion Sickness” is a psychological experiment more than a song, and “Tommy’s Revenge” and “Palindromes” are gentle and melodic, with an emphasis on piano. Also, they do a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” that is totally distinctive, with interesting rhythms and subtextures.
I think this broad scope is a good explanation for their popularity on soundtracks. Looking at Spotify specifically, they don’t have many albums, but they are featured on multiple soundtracks, and that makes total sense, both for the breadth of their ability and their ability to create mood.
Personal favorites for me are “Plowed”, which just rocks, as well as “Dream” and “No Way Down”.
Music is available for purchase via Amazon.
http://freakhouse.fanbridge.com/

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Band Review: Move Out West


Move Out West is another band that came to my attention when they followed me on Twitter, and I have mixed feelings about them.
Some of the subject matter seems a little tawdry (sex and drugs, lots of coke in “Magic Eight-Ball”), and I concerned that it is gratuitous. It may not be though. One thing is that they are a young band, so at this point any topic that comes up in a song seems prevalent. Honestly, it could all be explained by one horrific ex-girlfriend.
That aspect leaves me hesitant to fully embrace them, but, again, it’s too early for them to be defined by anything yet, and hey, it’s nothing worse than Third Eye Blind, and I like them.
I do want to keep checking them out for the musical quality. There is a real yearning in their songs, and I can connect to that aching. They know your troubles; they’ve felt like that too. They are good at building drama within a song (actually, the way the songs build in general), making effective use of voices and instruments. I really like what the guitars are doing on “Sink With You”, and I like their general tempo.
So, I’m curious as to where they’re going, and whom they’re going to be, but I think it’s worth keeping an ear on them. Music is available through iTunes.
https://www.youtube.com/user/moveoutwest

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Once more into the breach


Going back to Kind-Hearted Woman, it was not long after noticing Robin’s evolving ability to make eye contact that I noticed that I cannot make eye contact when talking about that thing that happened when I was 14.
It was easy not to notice, because I never talked about it. Lately though, everything is just coming back, and I did talk to a friend about it, and I could not look her in the eye when I did it. We love each other, and share all kinds of things with each other. Intellectually I know that it was not my fault, and I would not blame anyone else it happened to, but I still feel such shame about it, more than twenty-five years later.
I have gotten a lot more open since I started writing this blog, and better about a lot of things, but that one is still hard. Also, with the driving thing, talking about that, I don’t exactly start hyperventilating, but the top of my throat tightens, and my chest. I have physical reactions, and everything is coming back.
It is about a year now since I was in a different round of self-examination and reflection. Blog-wise, the posts were about June 9th through 24th, though the thinking had started earlier than that. I remember realizing that my relationship with my father had a lot to do with my lack of relationships with men, and thinking that even if I got better, that door was probably still pretty much closed, based on my age.
At the same time, it still felt like something was going to need to happen and change. I thought it would be getting over my fear of driving, but I sort of knew that it would have to wait. I was working on the comic book script, and while at the time I was still in some denial about how long it was going to get, I knew it was significant and that it would be time consuming. Right after I finished the writing, I had the big Follow Friday.
I just remember thinking that Friday Follows were ridiculous, and in the next instance thinking, no, I should do this. That was the day Lisa sent out Friday Follows for everyone.I don’t think she has ever done that again, but that day I added eighty people, many of whom added me. That just kept growing.
Even in the early stages, I remember being caught off guard by how rough it was to be a teenager. I mean, I lived it, but it’s been a while. Hormones and bodily changes send your emotions out all over the place, while you are trying to become more mature, which often involves shame for the times you opt for the wrong level of maturity, and you have not lived long enough to have that perspective that shows you that things work out on a regular basis, and your responsibilities seem to be growing faster than your abilities, not to mention the horrific social aspects and the amount of people who deal with their own stresses by being mean to others, all of which has pressure added by the little understood notion that this is supposed to be the best time of your life. No, it’s not.
So my first response was sympathy, and a desire to be encouraging, because I’m pretty sure the first thing people think of when they think of me is “relentlessly cheerful”. Then more serious issues started coming up, and I still wanted to help, but I felt more inadequate. I started wanting to learn more, and I started thinking about people I could ask or books I could read.
Without really getting very far with that, the next phase was to find things hitting really close to home. Okay, there are things I haven’t done, but I keep finding so many of the same emotions and experiences and fears.
This did not help my concerns about inadequacy. I have been able to successfully complete college, hold down jobs, and have friendships. I’m usually pretty happy, and I use my creativity and I have done a lot of cool things, but there are also things that I simply haven’t healed from. For the ones who worry that no one will ever love them, yeah, sometimes that comes true, and it’s not the end of the world, but that’s not always comforting.
And this is what I was getting at in “Badly Drawn Girl”. I had made peace with having a hole in my life, or at least I thought I did, but I could not accept that they might have to walk around incomplete. It’s not good enough for them. So maybe it’s not good enough for me. Or maybe it just means that they can’t procrastinate working on these things, but they are young enough they can still manage it all. But I still think the guitar as a symbol of love works out, and I have the guitar. I so do not know.
Last year, music in general led to me looking at the music industry, and how it was bad for girls, as was society, and maybe that influenced some of the self-examination that I did. What comes to mind to me now, though, is how many times as I was writing I would worry about teens, and it seemed odd because I was not in contact with any, and they do not read my blog, but that thought was still present. Now they are here in a way that I could not have predicted, but that has grown very organically, and seems to be the right path for now.
I was talking to a friend about this, and she reminded me, with great kindness, that I don’t have to heal the world. I know that. I also know that I can’t. However, I am ready for the next phase in my own healing. It is easier to care about because it is for them, but it’s for me too. There was always going to be another period of self-examination and evaluation, because that’s just how I roll, but it’s still kind of amazing how it turns out sometimes.
The key point to all of this is that if, as many times as I am frustrated by myself, and the slow pace of my goals and improvements, I can still see that there is definitely something being built. The progression is logical in retrospect, even if not predictable in advance. So, I have to feel confident in the process. These things are going to work out, and whatever twists and turns I take, I will emerge safely on the other side. If I get a little sentimental over it, well, that explains what I’ll be posting next week.
That’s if I post next week. I am leaving for the airport and will be out of the country for a week. I hope to be able to track down an internet connection once a day and post, but I may not be able to. It’s not as relaxing I would want, but it’s still a change, and that’s good because my brain is fried and I am worn down. I hope to shake off this funk, because I have a lot to do when I get back.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kind-hearted women


I have been really impressed with the PBS Independent Lens series:
The first installment I saw was Kind-Hearted Woman, which followed a woman recently out of treatment for alcoholism as she tried to put her life back together. There was a family history of alcoholism which led her to foster care, where she was abused, and to her marrying a man who abused her physically and verbally, and abused her daughter and her cousin sexually. Also, her last boyfriend before rehab had been abusive.
Those are some tough patterns to break out of, as deeply rooted as they were, but the thing that struck me most was this progression in Robin, where at the beginning, even though she had already gained some strength in completing rehab, and she was working hard to do what she needed to do, she wasn’t making eye contact, and there was this depressed aspect to her. It’s not just that she was sad, but it was like she was being held down. And then, later, that changed, and she could look at you, and she could look at herself, and she was brighter and happier.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that she ended up working with abuse education and prevention programs. It’s not a coincidence that she was drawn to them, and not a coincidence that as she kept sharing her story it lost its power over her.
When I started expanding my Twitter contacts, one thing that impressed me was how passionate so many of them could be about helping others, even when their own world was collapsing. They will keep their cuts covered so they don’t trigger anyone else, and they will work hard to talk other people out of suicide, even though they really want to die. I was impressed with that, and then I realized, Dang it! They’re overfunctioning. I know this one.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Partly, starting out with the emotional wound of shame, I try and justify my existence by helping others. It’s easier to find them more deserving of my time than myself. And, it is easier to manage their problems than my own. I don’t have to scrutinize myself to help them, which is the most painful thing, and surely their problems are easier to solve, because they are better than me. That is the super-messed up part.
Also, one part of becoming well-acquainted with pain is knowing that I don’t want this for anyone else, and so I have a strong desire to fix it for others. This is also messed up, but not as obviously, because while the sentiments is nice, we ultimately need that pain.
One thing Robin said at one point was that she didn’t wish away any of her experiences, because they made her the person that she was. I haven’t perfectly arrived yet, but I like myself, and I like my life, and a lot of that has come through hardship. There are things that I should have done differently, and I wish I had, but I don’t know what it would have changed. I only have now to work with, and that’s okay.
Looking at these kind-hearted women, there is good and bad. Their ability to look outside of the self, and to care about others no matter how much they are hurting, is beautiful, and a big part of the reason that we are on earth, and it will give them a reason to cling to life when their own desire to live is not enough.
There needs to be self love too. They need to see that the beauty and value that they see outside in others is inside too. It’s hard. There was a time when hearing physical compliments was physically painful for me, and nothing felt more dangerous than having hope about something, because disappointed hope hurts a lot. It’s the risk of new pain when you are barely managing the old pain.
The most insidious thing seems to be the secrecy. Most of these accounts are secret ones, where they have others with their names, and where they connect to the people they know in real life, and they present the fa├žade.
I didn’t let people know what was going on with me either. I did not know that one friend was anorexic, and that another was cutting, until much later. I did know that she was drinking too much, but there were reasons for that I would never have guessed. None of us knew that one really funny guy was severely depressed. Social networking has not changed all of the hiding of the inner life at school; it just gives a place for anonymous sharing.
The problem is that I am more and more convinced that sharing is what is needed. Yes, there are good reasons not to be open. There are people who will mock and torment and exploit, and so we protect ourselves, but the downside of that is we don’t learn how normal we are. We think there’s something horribly wrong with us. Worse than that, because we won’t let anyone know, we get cut off in other ways, not being able to eat around others, or go swimming because you are hiding cuts, and there are always secrets in the way, and we are as sick as our secrets.
But then, as we reach out to help others, we get the chance to learn these things, and to help ourselves too. Someone needs to be reaching back, but it’s our big chance.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reasons not to follow me on Twitter


I recently lost a follower on Twitter. That number goes up and down all the time, and there are apps that let you track it, but I haven’t installed any, and I don’t want to be neurotic about it.
However, she wrote a note that made me think. Also, I recently gained two followers whom I admire, and before I alienate them, I want to clear the air. The reason she unfollowed me, and it was completely understandable and I am grateful that she took the time to tell me, is the suicide retweets.
Actually, there are two things that I retweet. One says that each retweet that they get will be one day without cutting. The other is some variant of showing that you would care if the original tweeter committed suicide. I do retweet those. I’m kind of scared not to. I have retweeted some to show that I think someone is beautiful too, though some I have just replied to with compliments.
The thing is, it’s very hard to know how to help depressed young people. I will write more about that over the next two days, but for now, that’s something I do, and it may be a reason not to follow me on Twitter.
It was kind of surprising that it came up at all, because I had felt like no one was seeing my tweets. I would post things that I thought were funny or interesting, and nothing. When I replied to people, though, or tweeted specifically to them, then they noticed. It felt like my Twitter role was more of a supportive one, and that’s okay. I’m good at that.
In some ways, I feel like maybe the reason I am taking up bass is that I am functioning in more of a supportive position, and not due to my unusually good sense of rhythm for a middle-aged suburbanite.
Of course, Kris did see that, and there are a few other people who seem to be noticing things now. So, now I have to worry about what it is like to follow my tweets. The truth is, there are probably better ways to keep track of me than Twitter.
Facebook: I go through phases of posting status updates or not, but I do check it at least once a day, it connects with lots of things that I like, and I frequently post things that I find interesting. If we have not interacted in real life, it would be helpful to send a message when you submit your friend request, just letting me know it’s not weird.
The Blogs: Eventually you get pretty much every thought I ever have through here. If you think I have not gotten to something that you are interested in, ask, and there’s probably something there, or I will make a point of getting to it.
Links to the blogs are something that I reliably tweet, actually, but it would be more reliable to follow the blogs through Blogger, or through Networked Blogs via Facebook.
Saturday: Travel (Currently going through Disneyland) sporktogo.blogspot.com
Sunday: Provident Living (Just finished up working vegetables into your diet, not sure what’s coming next) preparedspork.blogspot.com
Monday through Friday: Everything else, but Thursdays and Fridays are music reviews. The rest covers music, art, writing, politics, and me. Sporkful.blogspot.com
E-mail: This one is actually not a great one, because I get so much that I go through periods of letting it get kind of behind.
LinkedIn: I seriously hate this one; it annoys me so much. I think I am not career-oriented enough. If you ask to join my network, I will probably accept, but I will never do anything interesting with it.
Amazon Studios: So basically about every 45 days, as the option period on one screenplay expires, I will submit a different one. It’s my way of saying that no matter how many times you decide something doesn’t meet your current needs, there’s plenty more where that came from. You can read screenplays here, and it would be great if you would vote for whichever one is active at the moment. I should be adding a new one tomorrow.
Goodreads: It’s not terribly interactive, but I do like seeing what people read and like. There’s a link on the main blog.
Ficwad: This wouldn’t be that interactive either, but if you are bored, there is a pretty long saga over here.
Twitter: If you want to relate via Twitter, but not follow me, just make sure to always check your mentions. This is a good policy anyway, because it’s easy to miss what’s coming up, and mentions and interactiona (via @connect) show you what relates specifically to you. For Direct Messages, if you do not follow me, I cannot DM you, but you could still DM me if I followed you.
Or you could just follow me, and that’s cool, and sometimes it might seem creepy. Believe me, I question myself all the time on this one, but it feels necessary, and that this is where I’m supposed to be.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Band Review: Trails And Ways


I first learned of Trails and Ways when they followed me on Twitter. I was expecting something a little alternative and kind of hippie perhaps, but what I got was bossa nova dream pop, which I was not expecting, and for which there are no obvious comparisons.
There are some similarities to the ambient and indietronica that I have listened to, but with a couple of important distinctions. One is that there is not the same monotony. The music builds and varies and does things, probably bossa nova things, though I don’t know the form well enough to be sure.
There is that variation within the song, but also the songs differ from one another, also very important. It is overall mellow. Actually, I felt like there was a real Northwest sound initially, but they are from Oakland, so maybe it is just a Pacific Coast sound.
Some of the variety comes from instruments. They do use electronics on many songs. For example, on “Mindnight City”, there seems to be some synthesizer, and maybe some flutes, but there is also a distinct texture added from voice and hands, and right before it, on “One Note” (this is from the Temporal album), there is a different percussion, and a guitar with a kind of Brazilian sound, and vocals that climb and coo. Clearly they take influences from a variety of places. Check “Nunca” as an example of that.
They are available for listening on Soundcloud and Spotify, and then available for purchase from Amazon. I could not find them on iTunes. There are several tour dates available on Facebook.
It’s a distinct sound, and probably not for everyone, but if you’ve had enough of the same old thing, this could be a logical band to try.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_srch_drd_B008K4CTAC?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Trails%20And%20Ways

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Band Review: Simple As Surgery


“Just For the Night” by Simple As Surgery using some thumping piano and groove to accomplish a funkier than average sound. Keyboards are strongly felt on other songs, but whereas the other selections come off as more pop and techno, there’s something more old-fashioned and raw about this one, making it stand out. The other songs are just more typical.
To be fair, that is not a wide selection yet. We have to consider this an up and coming band, that are still developing. That youth, and the ensemble feeling, may be why there is an occasional boy band feeling, but with much stronger instrumentation. That probably comes through the most on “Be With You Always”, which is also their slowest song. They may be a bit stronger with the more danceable pop. “You Got Me Like (Whoa)” and “Again” are both decent offerings here, easily fitting into a club mix.
They could definitely build a strong web presence, adding short bios and some photos to the web page, but right now songs are available via iTunes and Spotify, as well as Amazon. (It is not the exact same selection at each spot; currently iTunes has the most offerings.) There is a Youtube channel which contains some covers as well as songs.
It’s just a start, but has potential. They are going to need to differentiate some.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/simple-as-surgery/id349295483

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Badly Drawn Girl: My First Comic


The MOOC had an assignment that I was not expecting or prepared for:
“Create a comic based on a story regarding gender you or a close friend/family member has experienced.”
My initial thought was that I had no idea what to write, and even if I did, how was I going to draw it? I have not gotten good at drawing yet! And I wasn’t sure that I had anything interesting to say. Then I thought about when I was 14.
Actually, I started to see this narrative of how everything connects, from what happened on the playground when I was six to the dream that led to me buying a bass a few weeks ago, and what I am trying to do now, and everything that goes along with that. I saw it in pictures and words. Unfortunately, that’s probably a fifty page thing, and it was due Friday night.
So, I did something small, and I will do something bigger later. It has as little commercial potential as the other comic, but will be a lot shorter with less characters, so there’s that. Regardless, I have now gone beyond writing a script, and imagining, and I have actually drawn and posted a comic. Much like the author, it is flawed.
The instructions stressed that stick figures were okay, and I warmed up to that. In the first part, for the main incident, all of the characters are sticks, differing only by hair, plus a little bit with height, which is accurate. They also don’t have faces. Identity is kind of transient during adolescence.
I do this transition with my character as she moves into adulthood where she takes on some width. Actually, she kind of looks like a Lego fig at that point, except there is still no face, and no gripping ability with the hands. That would just be too much self-actualization.
In the very last panel, I have fingers and am looking in a mirror. That is more significant than is obvious, because a big part of all of my dysfunction was not wanting to look at myself or take pictures or weigh, or think, or do anything to have to face how ugly and horrible I was. Doing so would probably have been really helpful in seeing that it was a lie, but I couldn’t. It would have been kind of cool to show a face starting to take shape, but that would have been hard to convey, and honestly, I drew her too close to the mirror.
Planning was an issue on multiple levels. I meant to write out a script in Word, then draw it, maybe outlining some, but it didn’t feel right. I had to just take up the tablet and draw. I don’t think I will always do it that way. Storytelling via sequential art is new to me (I believed I would never draw the Danger Days one right up until the end of writing it), and this was very emotional content, and that was where my instinct led me. I do believe I will write out the script for the 50 page version before drawing it, but for this I just couldn’t.
Perhaps that helped me capture the sentiment better in some ways, but it led to another complication in that I also did not plan out the spacing at all, and I exceeded the margins of the scan. My scanner was not working, so my sister Julie took it to work and sent me the file through email, and yes, parts were cut off.
Actually, I can now see the value in having bits of text and picture missing, to add a feeling of things being fractured, or that the entire story is not and cannot be known, but taking true advantage of that would require planning. If this particular comic is better in some way because of the margin issues, it’s a happy accident. As it is, you do still get the gist.
While the stick figures were a more deliberate choice based on lack of skill. I like how they worked out. The knee to the groin depiction is woefully inadequate, but I am amazed at how some of the emotion came through. The arms really helped in two of the panels, which was odd because usually they just looked weird. I think now maybe I should have only drawn arms when they were doing something.
So, I have mixed feelings. There are things that I wish had gone better (the picture where I’m trying to convey that there is a hole does not look right, plus margins), but also I am kind of proud of it, and I learned something again. Let me see if I can explain it right.
I am a character in this. As I am analyzing it and working it out, my mind switches back and forth between first and third person, because drawing her and writing about her puts this distance there, even though she is definitely me.
I was writing recently about the healing power of fiction, because we provide solutions to obstacles, but what I hadn’t realized at the time was how helpful that distance is. So many of these Twitter friends can be kind to anyone but themselves; what if becoming their own characters could get them around that?
It was the guitar dream again. It started to grow and take form beyond the dream. Someday there may be a story or a comic or a movie about kids with rough home lives who start a band, though there are probably a few of those already out there.
She was an alternate version of me, in events that did not happen in reality. That may have made getting the different perspective easier. I could clearly see that she would resist getting the guitar fixed, because she would feel like she didn’t deserve it. If that could happen, if it could be broken like that before she even had a chance to play it, clearly she had never deserved it. It was a mistake to think she could have it.
What I could also clearly see was that she really needed the guitar. She was blaming herself for things that weren’t her fault, and taking that ache inside as her due. I had a solution for her though, because she had friends who could go behind her back and get it fixed. For me, I just bought it. Maybe it was good that I didn’t find my dream guitar the first time I searched, because a week later I was more ready to have it.
I knew I was going to blog about this, and post the link to the comic, but I ended up tweeting the link Monday, by itself, because so many people were saying things echoing it. Creating it helped me, maybe it could help someone else.
Yesterday I had written a draft of this, and later in the day someone posted about getting an autobiography assignment, and not having anything to write, and not understanding the point of these assignments. I wrote back that I would post on that the next day, but for now I linked to the comic.
The reply was encouraging: “that's That's amazing”
The next tweet was even better: “Now I want to write something I wow”
I could be missing some context, but I am going to go ahead and call that Best. Compliment. Ever.
So yeah, I still want everyone writing and drawing and reading and playing, and healing, and I’ve got my own work to do there. Next week will be about being a messed up kid.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Gender Through Comic Books: My First MOOC


When I was scheduling my classes for my second term at college, I signed up for Football Coaching. I had never understood football, but wanted to and I thought the class would get me there.
That kind of worked out. I did end up understanding football. We were graded on understanding coaching though, so I worked really hard, and my grade was not great. I was overly ambitious for that term in general, but there were some good experiences, and I learned a lot.
I had never heard of a Massive Online Open Course before Gender Through Comic Books. It’s the sort of idea that appeals to me anyway – I like learning stuff – and with my growing interest in comic books and gender issues, it was sort of a perfect storm of things I would be interested in. I also really overextended myself.
The MOOC was through Canvas Networks. It was taught by Christina Blanch of Ball State. Here are some things I learned.
One is that this is really work. There isn’t a charge, or college credit, but with the amount of reading and lectures, it is taking a college class, but without the reminders that you have when you are a full-time student, or the availability. I don’t regret taking the class, but I should have thought it out better, and maybe started doing some pre-reading early. As it was, I have hardly been in the forums at all, so I still have not had the full experience, and I have been running behind the entire time.
Two, I am still such a novice; it is Football Coaching all over again. There have been real artists and writers in this course, as well as dedicated readers with a lot of background knowledge. I do know more than I did before, as intended. Also, that background knowledge and passion on the part of everyone else made for some interesting times.
I will especially remember Kelly Sue DeConnick responding to questions about the Ms. Marvel and Marcus storyline and was it going to be addressed? It was addressed! Chris Claremont addressed it! Which is as good an illustration as any of why sometimes it is just better to have Bobby step out of the shower and have it all have been a dream. I think the real question was how it got approved in the first place, and they’re asking the wrong people.
Seriously, I was not familiar with that particular storyline, but looking it up, it is offensive, but it’s also really messed up, where I am almost too weirded out to be angry. I do think Chris Claremont did a great job of addressing it, but the stink is still there. Bad previous writers. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it happened to Ms. Marvel either. Still, there’s no point in bugging the current writers about it thirty years later.
(I looked at a few different sites researching it, but this one is probably the best: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/03/03/meta-messages-chris-claremont-sticks-up-for-ms-marvel/ )
Getting back on track, three is that gender is not just about women being objectified. Part of the reason the class appealed to me was because I have been seeing so many issues with misogyny, and objectification, and the price that young girls pay for the societal norms, and I was getting some tunnel vision from that. This has broadened my mind a bit, which is important for restoring balance.
Four, and this goes along a lot with yesterday’s post, I really love comics. I always felt like I was kind of past superhero comics, and especially reboots, but Superman: Birthright was really good. I’m not really into anti-heroes, but Secret Six was pretty gripping. I seem to be much easier for comic books than I ever realized.
I don’t know that I want to call this something I learned, but there were things I felt good about in terms of the writing that I do. For example, talking about Daredevil, and the buddy relationship he has with Foggy, someone asked why we don’t see male/female friendships, and the answer was that people don’t know how to write them. I have some in my writing, and I guess I am more proud of them now. As things were discussed, I do see things I am doing right, and that’s nice. I’ve gotten some good boosts lately.
There was one assignment, though, that just became its own thing for what it taught me, and so that gets its own post tomorrow.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Dark Horse For The Win!


I have expressed my allegiance to Dark Horse Comics before, but it was at a time when I had really not read much of them. It was more of an intuitive allegiance at the time:
Nine months later, I have read a lot more, and my love has grown. I have developed similar feelings for other local comic publishers, like Periscope and Monkey Brain, but that’s okay. I have a lot of love to give, and while I believe through sheer numbers Dark Horse would win in a rumble, I think it’s more likely that they would all be allies. Things felt like they were kind of normalizing, but then Dark Horse gave me free comics. Lots of them.
Seriously, it looked like fifty titles, and that was what the link I clicked on said it would be, but now my collection shows 57, and I’m not sure how that happened, except that they have other free comics, besides that one-time special offer, and I guess I picked up some of those.
So initially it was like, okay, this is great! Here are fifty digital comics, pretty much all first issues of various lines, so this is a good way to explore. I will methodically work my way through each one, and then I will know which titles I want to pursue, and read those. This will be a great way to get my feet wet and find some good series. It has not been working out quite the way I thought.
First of all, I have not gone as methodically as I planned. I started with 47 Ronin. The next one should have been Abe Sapien, and I have really been meaning to explore the Mignola-verse, but the cover of The Answer was really calling to me, so I went there. Also, that one time I did get confused and clicked on the regular free comics area, instead of my comics, and read some other things.
That mis-navigation was actually really valuable, because I found the Killjoys issue for Free Comic Book day, and I was there reading it, three days before Free Comic Book Day, feeling kind of guilty like I was getting away with something, and afraid to tell anyone.
Guilt aside, that worked out really well, because I was doing a service project for the Parks and Rec district Saturday morning (that wasn’t for social awkwardness, that was for church), and by the time I got to the comic book shop, they were all out, and all I got was one Superman. Serves me right for going out in sunlight and fresh air. Like a serious comic fan would do that! But I digress.
Anyway, I was not quite sticking to order, and it was a lot of temptation for someone who was already too busy, and had a lot of comics to read for the MOOC (more on that tomorrow). So there was that, but also, I was liking them all too much.
I mean, okay, with the first two I read, I was not too concerned, because a foreign historical drama is right up my alley for 47 Ronin, and the fact that I could not wait to read The Answer and was really intrigued with it just showed that okay, I am clicking with this title. Still, I had this nagging feeling that I was in trouble.
I had heard good things about Alabaster; wanting to read more was not a big deal, but I liked all three Alien titles. Seriously? That is so not my thing! I’d heard some not so great things about the continuation of the Buffy-verse, but I really liked Angel & Faith. Was I going to find myself following 57 different titles?
I did not love Axe Cop, but the concept is kind of cool (6 year old writer with his 30 year old brother illustrating) and explains the awkwardness. Also, it did have a pretty amazing picture of a T-Rex wearing cool shades and using his twin weapons of fire breath and laser arms, which was awesome. And as unlikable as Billy the Kid is, I am kind of drawn to the other characters in Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities.
This means I could conceivably still end up following the ones I don’t like that much, and the majority I like a lot because they are so good! And a lot of the titles coming up are so exciting, because I have heard good things about them, and here they are! It’s not that I wasn’t excited in the first place, it’s just really exceeding expectations.
I don’t know if I have the pocketbook or the time for this amount of comics reading and acquisition that this could lead to. I’m afraid now that their seeming generosity was all just a ploy to lure me into buying more comics.
Oh you sneaky, sneaky Dark Horse. I surrender.