You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.
Been a while, huh? Sorry ’bout that. My time has been pretty much consumed by scripts lately that I have had much or much time to blog.
Anyway, came across this image a few days ago and that I’d post it up here and share with the rest of the class. This is the cover to Big Bear’s 1998 rap album, Doin Thangs. Pretty snazzy, no?
Like I said, I came across this image a few days ago and it kind of reminded me of another album cover. A few years back, my friends — Michael and David — created album cover for their fake hip-hop duo, Team Dike (David + Mike = Dike), called I Needs Mo Money!
Granted, Michael and David did this just for the hell of it — they don’t rap, they don’t have an album or record deal — but, for some reason, I kinda take their album cover a little more seriously than I could Big Bear’s.
Either way, both are pretty friggin’ sweet!
Remember when you wrote that letter addressed to me and posted it on your blog allll the way back in December? Way back in 2009? Last year! Last decade! Well, um… I’m finally writing you back.
Yes, I did earn my punctuality badge in Boy Scouts. Why do you ask?
It is a quarter to nine on the morning of Wednesday, January 6th 2010. I’m writing to you from the comforts of my living room; sitting in the throne chair, as I like to call it, that used to belong to my grandfather years ago, hunched over my coffee table (thrift store), pounding the keys on my laptop (Christmas present, 2006) in a premeditated sequence that, when put together, form words. Like this one. And that one. Aaaand this joke is dying, isn’t it?
This is one of the reasons why no one writes letters anymore; in this modern ago of instant communication, we IM, email, text, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and, yes, blog so much and so often that there’s nothing left to be said in the traditional letter form. Not to mention the fact that you and talk at least twice a week. It’s sad, really.
Let’s see if I can come up with something that’s both worth writing in a letter and worth reading.
(As I am writing this, I have my puppy curled up on the floor, laying on my feet. Mmm… that is one of the greatest feelings in the world. So warm. I also have my iTunes open and set on “random.” We started off with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ Your Thing Is A Drag, followed by Blackalicious’s If I May and John Lennon’s cover of Stand By Me. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, Arctic Monkeys’ Mardy Bum. Yeah, pretty random, I’d say.)
So I’m still sick. Getting better, but not exactly back to factory default, y’know?
It’s kind of amazing, really. I work in a public library, coming in contact with literally hundreds of people every week – day? – every single one of them a disgusting cesspool of germs and disease. Elderly people who cough and sneeze and want to shake your hand after every transaction. Little snot-nosed kids who literally have snot in their noses who run around the branch, touching fucking everything and attack you with guerrilla hugs and high-fives. And all of the ages in between who call in sick to work or school but still come to the library to rent movies or use our computers, spreading their festering disease to everyone they come in contact with while their at the library and even after they’re gone.
And it’s the same everywhere you go: the the library, to the grocery store, to the movies, to the bars, the coffee shops, restaurants. Everywhere.
People really are disgusting creatures.
And, through all of this, I’m fine. Completely healthy. Fit as a fiddle. Really, I am.
Then, I head up to Cleveland for Christmas and it’s my family who makes me sick. God, I bet a therapist would have a field day with that one.
Yeah, my dad started coming down with something towards the end of my stay and, three or four days later – New Year’s Eve! – I inherited his plague. Not the greatest Christmas gift the old man has ever given down to me but I suppose it beats the keyboard-of-keys* he gave me when I was somewhere around eight or nine years old.
[*Long story made longer: I was raised on old Beatles albums and, when I was about eight years old, wanted nothing more than to learn how to play the guitar, like John Lennon. I begged my parents to take me into Lentine’s Music Store to see the guitars. I slung one over my shoulder as soon as we got there and pretended to jam, strumming my fingers awkwardly over the strings, making what I’m sure was an inordinate racket. Taking that along with the hefty price tag of even the cheapest guitars into account, my dad pulled me away from the guitar section saying, “You’re not cool enough to play a guitar. Let’s try piano.” Piano? Are you fucking kidding me? I didn’t want to play a goddamned piano! I mean, sure, both Lennon and McCartney played piano, but only on a couple of songs; they were primarily a guitar band. And that’s the story of how I started taking piano lessons. After my first lesson or two, my instructor told me that I should have a piano or keyboard at home to practice on between lessons. I asked my folks for a cheap Casio and they told me to wait for Christmas. Christmas morning rolled around and my dad handed me a long box and told me, “I think you may have been expecting this.” Excitedly – Yes, excitedly. By this time, I had several piano lessons under my belt and found that I had some talent and actually started to enjoy the weekly ritual. – I grabbed the box from his hands and furiously destroyed the paper that had wrapped it. I opened the box and slid out a long 2×4 block of wood with a dozen or more old house keys nailed to the the front of it. “Get it,” my dad asked. “It’s a keyboard!” This was his idea of a joke. Thanks, dad. But this isn’t going to help me learn to play the piano. The real tragedy of the story is that, when my folks finally bought me a decent Casio keyboard, my lessons had been finished for several months and, without an instrument to practice on, I had grown bored with the idea of playing piano. Every few years, I retrieve the keyboard – the Casio, not the board for hanging old, useless keys – from my parents attic and try to play something. I suck. I mean, how could I not? Haven’t touched the damned thing in years. I keep telling myself that someday, when I have some time, I’ll get a book from the library and finally really learn how to play the piano. But it hasn’t happened yet.]
So, yeah, I’ve been living off of generic Kroger-brand DayQuil, orange juice, oatmeal and soup for the past several days. What I would give to be able to keep a burrito or a good cheeseburger down right about now.
(Several songs have come and gone, including tracks by The Blow, Gorillaz, Lightspeed Champion, Outkast, Jay-Z, and Man Man. Metric’s White Gold turned into Ticket To Ride off The Beatles Anthology Vol. 2 – “Myyy baby don’t care” – turned into The Velvet Underground’s Train Round The Bend, off the Loaded album, turned into The Avett Brothers Kind Of In Love With You.)
Not sure if I mentioned this yet, but something cool did happen while I was home for Christmas.
I went up to my parents’ attic to look for this old plastic drawing board I had as a kid. It was about two feet wide by maybe a little over a foot and a half – almost square, like just barely – and had a thickness range from about two inches towards the back down to an inch or so up front. It had two compartments at the back that opened up and stored all of your pencils, pens and whatnot. Then, the entire top of the board opened up so you could place a sketchbook, extra paper, comics or just about any other drawing supplies you had inside. I fucking loved this thing! I took it with my everywhere! I drew on it constantly.
Anyway, I recently learned that my eight-year-old nephew – OK, he’s my best friends’ kid, but I consider him to be close family like that. – found an interest in drawing his own comics. This after countless times trying to get him to draw with me, when they lived in the same apartment complex I did, and him turning me down to go play videos games or run around the house with his action figures. Now that he live over a hundred miles away from me – now! – he wants to draw. *Sigh*
So I decided to buy him some drawing supplies for Christmas, right? I got him a sketchbook, some markers, and even bought four blank books off of Amazon for him to draw his comics in. To top it all off and make this the bast gift ever, I was going to wrap up all of his drawing supplies and place them inside my old drawing board!
I don’t have any kids and I don’t really see myself ever getting married or having a family of my own – Yesterday, I tried to change my Facebook relationship status from “single” to “married” and, in the space that read “married to”, I wrote in “my work.” Facebook apparently didn’t find it as funny as I did and wouldn’t let me make the change. – I kind of see my nephews as the closest thing I’ll ever have to that kind of family life. I also don’t really have much in the way of a “family heirlooms” to pass down to my kids even if I did have any.
But I had that old drawing board and saw it as something I loved and treasured that I could pass down to that next generation to love and treasure and instill that same love of drawing and storytelling that I had as a child.
Unfortunately, it would seem that my parents long ago gave it away to one of their friend’s kid or – more likely – to Goodwill.
So, in my mind at least, I failed at being my nephew’s favorite gift giver this Christmas, although, my eighteen-month-old nephew loved the somewhat creepy Elmo Chatters™ doll and the soft plastic blocks I gave him.
While I was digging through my parents’ attic, I came across a box of my old things. I opened it, fingers crossed, hoping the drawing board was inside. It wasn’t. However, it did contain something I else I never thought I’d see again: the first book I had ever written!
When I was seven or eight, we were given completely blank hardback books – like the ones I was giving to my nephew for Christmas – in school and told to write and illustrate our own story. My story was called “Spaced Out Martian” and was pretty much derivative of E.T., but I was really proud of it at the time. Still am, actually. One an award for it at school and everything.
Yeah, that’s right, bitches. I wrote my first award-winning book when I was eight years old. Deal.
There were two other books in the box that I had written and illustrated. I vaguely remember one – an illustrated guide to dinosaurs, complete with accurate and correctly spelled dinosaur names, that I apparently wrote for my dad as a Father’s Day gift that same year – but had no recollection of the third book – in which I wrote and illustrated my own Roadrunner and Wyle E. Coyote story.
OK, fine. None of the books had an original plot and the dialogue was almost as embarrassing as that found in a Vin Diesel flick, but whatdaya want from me? I was eight.
(Belle & Sebastian’s Night Walk turned into Kupek’s You Break My Art, which ran into Radiohead’s Lucky and Elton John’s Rocket Man, followed by The Go! Team’s live version of The Ice Storm. After hearing The Ice Storm, I had a sudden taste for more so I took iTunes off of “random” and started The Go! Team’s 2004 classic Thunder Lightning Strike. God, I love that album.)
Speaking of children’s books, over the past week, I’ve been receiving finished pages from Icarus, the children’s book I’m working on with my good friend Abby. OMG, Tom, these pages look a-fuckin-mazing!
Instead of traditional illustration, Abby is quilting the book. There are thirty-two pages in the book and each quilt is a two-page spread. We have six quilts – twelve book pages – plus the cover and two activity pages completed, which is just enough for us to start pitching the book to publishers. We’re going to pitch to Silverline, the same publisher that Shady and dwellephant used for “Missing The Boat,” but we’re also looking into other small children’s book publishers.
Once we have some of the details worked out, I’ll post a few of the Icarus pages on the blog. I’m pretty excited about this project. It’s another one of those that’s been in the works for sooo long and is so close to completion. Heh. Do I have any other kind?
Oh! I have another project that I’m excited over but can’t really talk about too much yet!
Yesterday, while I was on my break at work, my Punch-Up artist – the Amazing David Brame – IM’ed me. He told me that he has a friend named Perca, who lives in Brazil, that he met online on DeviantArt, EnterVoid, and other art sites. She’s trying to start up an(other) online comics community, sort of like DC’s Zuda Comics.
Anyway, she – along with David, my friend Mike, and all of her friends involved in the project are all comic artists. Dave was telling me that she’s really looking for comic writers now. Dave told her, “Yeah, I think I might know a guy.” He gave her my name and contact info. She’s supposed to email me sometime this week with details.
Dude, there are so many great fucking comic artists coming out of Brazil right now. I follow a lot of their art blogs. Beautiful work, but I unfortunately don’t speak a lick of Portuguese so I can’t really read any of their comics.
That said, I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with the Brazilians, but this is exactly the type of thing that makes me doubt my abilities as a writer.
I can write stupid little short stories and post them on the blog for all two of my readers to read and I don’t really waste anyone’s time but my own… and, y’know, my two readers. But as soon as I write something for a collaborator, I start to feel like a talentless hack and worry because now I’m not wasting just my own time but the very valuable time of an artist who is going to spend several days, weeks, or months on project I wrote that may or may not suck.
I feel that way every time I work with someone. No matter how much confidence I had in Punch-Up while I was writing it, as soon as I handed it off to Dave I thought, “Oh, my god, I’m going to waste at least a year – if not more – of his life.” It doesn’t matter that Dave wanted to work on the book nor however much anyone who has read the book has liked it.
In my mind, it’s nuclear waste and I’ve just doomed us all.
I feel like – at any given moment – someone is going to discover that anything I’ve written up until this point was a fluke and that I am a complete fraud, merely pretending to be a writer. That’s when they’ll come after me with the torches and pitchforks or – worse – ignore me completely.
Do me a favor, Tom: continue to be that little voice in my head that tells me I’m stupid for listening to the other little voice in my head that tells me I’m stupid for trying to write a book that no one is going to like or even read.
(So I put iTunes back on “random” and it played Tegan And Sara’s You Wouldn’t Like Me (Live) – how appropriate, considering the subject matter of the past several paragraphs – followed by St. Vincent’s Jesus Saves, I Spend, some Major Lazer, Los Campesinos, Architecture In Helsinki, Paolo Nutini, and Beck’s Debra.)
By the way, I’m really excited that that we’re going to be working on this Legynd novel idea together.
I’ve been wanting to write The Great American Novel for years now, but always put it off because I never thought I was at that writing level yet. I read a lot and you would think that reading a good book would be encouraging to a writer and it is, to an extent; it makes me want to write something just as good but, every time I read something good – novel, comic, whatever – I think “Wow. I still have so much to learn about being a writer. I’m just not there yet.”
But you? You’ve written a novel. Self-published or not, you’ve written an entire book. By yourself. And, like, a real book! One that doesn’t have to rely on pictures to tell a story!
That’s another reason I’m really hoping to be able to work on this project with you.
I love working with friends, with people I’ve known for years, whose talents, tastes, and temperaments are so closely in sync with my own. I dig the whole symbiotic relationship thing; feeding off of each others talents and ideas, making something together that I couldn’t have made alone. I’m not one to brag about my own accomplishments, but I love being able to say “Look what we did.”
And it’s cool to be able to work with you especially on this book because, well, I’ve always been a fan of your work. It sounds weird to say that now, after we’ve known each other for – what? – six years? – but it’s true.
Before I started writing for Tastes Like Chicken, one of my favorite things was to grab the latest copy of the magazine and thumb through looking for anything written by Vinnie, Wayne, and Smokin’ Joe Blow. Then, we became friends on the postboard and spent many a night making “Nonnie’s mom” jokes. The first time we talked on the phone – I’m pretty sure – was to wish one another a Merry Christmas and I remember thinking, “I can’t believe this is the guy who wrote ‘The Green Jar’ and sent in all those cool postcards.”
Of course, now I’ve know you for years and sometimes when we talk on the phone I think, “Ugh. I can’t believe this is the guy who wrote ‘The Green Jar’.”
Point is, after all this time, I’m really excited that we’ve finally found something to write together.
(OK, now I’m just listening to Debra over and over again on “repeat,” singing the falsettos aloud in my apartment as I write this. “I wanna get with yooou. Ooooooooooh, girrrl. And your sister-er-er. I think her name is Debraaa… Oooh. Ooooooooooh!” Don’t judge me.)
Well, I suppose this is as good of a place as any to start wrapping things up.
I appreciate your friendship, Tom. It means a lot to me. You’re one of the few people I can trust to give me – not only honest feedback on my work – but in life, as well. Take care of yourself, Tom.
I love how it sounds like I won’t hear from you in months, even though I’ll probably get a call from you tonight or tomorrow. As per usual.
I kinda want to say “I didn’t know how to end it, so I did.” But that’s your line and I wouldn’t want to step on any toes.
So I’ll end with a quote I made up and the classic closer.
“Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword. Unless you’re in a sword fight and then it’s pretty much crap. ”
Your friend (and part-time lover),
…drunk and swearing.
Man, I need to start watching Jeopardy more often.
This year, like every year, I’m making the same resolutions:
That about sums it up.
More to come this weekend, including: a look back at my personal experiences in 2009 and (HOPEFULLY) my letter to TWM.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln