Donnerstag, 31. Dezember 2009

So long, 2009!

Happy New Year's from The CKT (and friends)!

2010 is gonna kick ass!

Leonie O'Moore covers Spider-man 544

Original cover by Mick Austin; Marvel (U.K.) 1983. Leonie O'Moore's website is here.

The 101 of pain/strokes, hug a panda, the allure of boobies and Ringo!

Good job!

I thought that if your experience is like my experience then going back to work after a break kind of sucks and no one is very appreciative of what you do. Indeed in most jobs the person with dedication seems to get the least appreciation. But you roll up your sleeves anyway. So though you may not hear it at work because I am not your co-worker or boss, you can hear it from me: Good job (and if your job is staying alive and/or sane and you are reading this, good job on staying alive, but about staying sane….mmmmm, try harder! Wait, that was a note to myself, I really do need to try harder).

Over the break we made up some phrases. One is ‘follow the body’. That means with a rapidly changing condition it is best to listen to what the body is trying to say and work around the body. It beats recovering from having decided days in advance what I will do and then trying to force my body to do it. Another one I am pretty sure I stole is ‘The heart wants what the heart wants’ (that sounds like I stole it, right?). That means, sometimes at the end of the day, unless it is illegal, try to be at peace with your desires, whether sexual or otherwise (oh yeah, that's another post, DESIRE!).

On that note I thought I should put up some yarn porn for the knitters. Yarn is actually so attractive that many species (think kittens and yarn) adore it. In fact, right now, I want to thank whoever got/bought/made me the knitted finger-less hand and wrist warmers. They are striped orange and black with skulls and I am wearing them now like most days to help with the Raynaud’s (all three times I worked on this post!).

See, knitted things are very comfy against the cold, and it is always cold somewhere, that is what knitters tell themselves while stocking up on skeins. Besides, it can literally be done anywhere. The heart wants what it wants, go with it. For example here we have a woman knitting while hanging out in a forge, not the most common knitting venue. Maybe she is having beefcake for breakfast (nudge, nudge, wink) while knitting. She even has a bobbin at her elbow while knitting one of the Men of Steel a scarf, because that is what every blacksmith needs (particularly those with big mustaches!), ya, you betcha, lots of scarves at the forge (???).

As for me, I had the promise and desire to play with my Lincoln logs. They mini-logs with squared off ends much like those logs which Abraham Lincoln made a cabin. I played with them as a child in Surrey, BC. Toys were: paper, my pink rabbit, Light-Bright and Lincoln Logs for toys. Anyway, I actually had bought these Lincoln logs as a gift for someone else. But I thought they were a small set, a bit of nostalgia for them. Except what comes is this giant several feet maple cabinet with brass settings.It turns out I had got some super-duper executive Lincoln Log set which cost more to post than I paid for them, so I kept them. I had great plans with Cheryl, we were going to create the ranch of Bonanza. Actually that was her plan, and I have NO IDEA how she knows the exact outlay of the Ponderosa Ranch (too much summer TV I think!). I didn’t mention that my plan was to build the ranch and then…..BURN IT!!! Woo hoo! I mean, this way I could save Lorne Greene, the great singer of RINGO.

Besides I could also save Micheal Landon, the ‘youngun’ at the Ponderosa Ranch. Okay, now that I look at that in the cold eve of 2:00 a.m. that sounds pretty reasonable but I am sure in the morning there will be some reason I can’t follow my heart and set part of my apartment on fire. Oh wait, it is illegal. See, good thing I had that clause in there, huh?

Instead of more of that brain medication, I think what I really need is some quality time with a hug.

It is cruel and ironic that the one thing I almost never have is human contact, because most contact to me is painful. And I mean physically painful due to the heat of the person or just some sort of reaction where it physically hurts to be touched. A life without touch, without a hug, is kind of sad. I think this is one of the reasons I want a cat badly, because any touch, that physical reminder of love is something I think we all want. And once you have passed that point: the point of accepting in the bones that from now on it is just you, the pain, and the will of how long you can take it, THEN you really want touch. Not that sense of being among people but apart from them. That is loneliness, but also an aspect of so many things, whether it is dying, isolation, fear or pain. Dying is sort of a long to explain place so I’ll talk about that later, but pain is common enough to be universal. Whether it is fever, migraine, broken bone, ripped muscles, pain is pain. Pain makes it hard to think, as there are so many messages coming in.

For me it is as if there is haze plus a cloud of bees stinging me, so feeling that and trying to collect and focus my thoughts to talk is hard, and when someone wants me to repeat things, even harder not to snap, to focus instead.

I am trapped in a burning house of pain and I can't escape much less get out of my point of view to consider, “I think they are just asking for clarification” or “They look like they have had a bad day, I better not make it worse.” Or even sometimes to know where I am, or whether I am on the floor or not. Pain is the baby which will not stop screaming and whether you want to or not it demands your attention. So even trying to speak calmly comes out….intense. And it makes the funny go away, it makes that buffer of social graces go away. Because it just IS.

Yesterday my heart was severely out of order, waking me with erratic heart beats. I had to take 50% more heart medication during the day, which later depressed my heart and respiration until I passed out and stopped breathing (BAD!). Linda got that started only to have the heart go wonky again. It was a stupid cycle which ended up with me stuck in my wheelchair until Linda could come get me.

My day tends to go like this: I have a fuel meter much like a car, only mine is the one which is broken and tells you that you have half a tank and then makes you run out of gas/petrol downwind from a pig farm. So as every day goes on I have less and less to work with and more and more problems: blood pressure, heart rate, respiration – those are the big three: stroke, infarction, suffocation (the bad outcomes). So last night I worked late and there was a delay in the amount of heart medication. That caused erratics at about 25%-33% of heart beats. At 75 beats a minute that is at least 20 or more erratic beats per minute.

That feels like having someone reach into your chest and sqeeze your heart and hold it, for one second, for two seconds, then release it for a beat or two and grab it again (and that is only 10 heart beats). That feeling tends to focus the attention: as the 'hand into the chest squeezing the heart' is bad. Then my heart would have a run of 15-20 erratics so fast that no blood is pumped by the heart, that is how fast it goes, and the chambers are out of synch. That is eye popping stuff. So right now I don’t know whether I am up or down. If I am lucky I can tilt and recline my chair so my airway is clear. Often not. I pass in and out of consciousness. I can’t breath, which means I can’t scream, can’t speak. Problem is that my vascular system gets wonky too and opens or closes a bit at random. It if opens too much, I pass out as there isn’t enough blood going to my brain. But if it closes, then there is so much pressure after a series of erratics, that big huge push of blood, the life preserving measure the heart makes shoots blood up a tiny pipe under enormous pressure. By this time, my left hand and sometimes whole arm is the color of a black grape and shrivelled (as no oxgyen, and sometimes no blood), sometimes just dark purple, and meanwhile that high pressure hose of blood blasts into my brain, into every little capillary. And if just one has a small burst, I get a mini stroke.

A mini stroke can affect memory, or speech, and half or more of my body including making my face droop. That is called a TIA, which means a stroke that where operations (like having a smile that goes up equally) are back working in a few hours to a day. There are actually lots of TIA’s that last longer than a day, but they don’t have a name for those yet (so they call them TIA’s because that sounds better than stroke, doesn’t it?)

“I had a stroke yesterday.” Woah, that is Serious!

BUT “I had a TIA yesterday.”

Response: “Did you get the cinnamon with that, I hear it is pretty good?”

So I was trying, again, after having lost 45 minutes to depressed respiration, to do a little bit of the blog post I wanted to do. To chop it into bits. To be witty and fun. I mean, I am in pain and can’t be touched and so realize I am a bit miserable. Who wants to be known as 'miserable girl'? So I desperately want to be fun, to be funny. But I am having problems and while working I have some erratics and lose time and then I decide, that’s it, I’m finishing this as soon as I get up tomorrow (another story), so I shut everything down with my mouse hand, closing down the computer, the air conditioner. This is when I notice that my left side of my body hasn’t moved. Ah crap! Plus I am only using one eye. I have to transfer out of this chair to get to the bathroom and bed. I try to do that with my good arm but while I can move it a couple feet, I can’t lift the 8-10 lbs of weight to lift up the right side of the wheelchair so I can transfer to my tiny manual wheelchair (waiting for power chair people to change the weight on this). I transfer to go 30 feet to the bathroom. Previously, I have thrown myself, or fallen out the Power chair and tried to drag myself with one arm, but that doesn’t work well. Sigh.

Okay, I need to recline this, particularly if this is going to be a while and I might pee myself, also I need to move my head as near to the baby monitor as possible. That is just a few buttons held down. I start calling: “Linda? Hello, Linda. Linda!” I could try to drive the power chair but since I have bits I can’t feel (feet, an arm, etc), and about one hand I can feel but I can’t always see or stay conscious, or get distracted by pain then that is NOT a good idea (we call that the 'little chunk out of the wall lesson'). So I lie there, calling. I am not oxidizing well and my voice is weak and husky, “Linda, I’m stuck, Linda.” I could push my emergency button for an ambulance, but why? I just need to get to bed. Then the heart hit again and I can hear myself repeating something, “Linda, help, Linda, please, Linda, oh, god” but that is way UP there, where consciousness is slipping away under the blanket of pain.

How long? I don't know but after a time, Linda comes. Sometimes, it is a LONG time, but she comes. And helps me to bed. That is what happens. Linda gives me quiet time in the late evening but I am guessing that is coming to an end, as this risk and incidents increase.

Having something to hold when I am waiting is good. It helps. I think for all forms of pain and lonliness it probably helps. What a better world it would be if we hugged more things (you may love the cactus, but I don’t recommend hugging the cactus). Hug a panda, hug several baby pandas.
The heart wants what the heart wants. There is a solitude which is ‘me’ time, and there is a solitude of longing. Sometimes not even knowing what we are missing until it is filled. Sometimes something that simply cannot be filled but that yearning can be distracted. How about a kitten, don’t you want to hug a kitten, or pet one? I think the kitten in her hair might be a bit much and difficult for combing out later. Still contender for cutest picture EVER.

Now, this is really important for the Seme’s out there who seem, at least in the 1,000 Yaoi stories to simply ignore or grab what they want. Picking up a kitten, a cat to take home and pet is okay. Picking up and taking home a cute guy IN a cat cosplay outfit is NOT okay, well not unless the uke wants that too (oh, and sometimes they really DO!). However attracting someone who is candy to the eye and warmth in the heart with pets (like puppies) is an age old technique.
Okay, a serious warning here for both genders. We all like to look at the boobies, we like to feel the boobie. But whether you are female or male, if that isn't YOUR boobie, just because it is VERY attractive, just because you WANT it, doesn’t mean you can just go get it (and try to remember there is a FACE attached to those boobies!). That is where the ‘no illegal’ comes in. Consensual abduction and groping only please.

On that note, Cheryl, Linda and I went out a few days ago at dusk to see if we could get any squirrel loving. I had one pregnant mother who went straight for the lap and the biggest peanuts (that sounds dirty, but it isn’t). While Cheryl in her cool skull headband attracted about 5 squirrels, all of whom were a bit twitchy. This one is the ‘brave’ one, who seems to be made of rubber (it must be young to be that flexible, you know, like how you used to use your feet as a pillow while reading or read while standing on your head – wait, I actually did that!). We didn’t see many squirrels before the sun went down but soon I will arrive early and they will flood around me. Which brings up the, ‘if you are scared, don’t go into the petting area’ rule. Like not lying to boyfriend/girlfriend you love cats when they scare you, or coming with me if you are terrified of squirrels running up your leg. Because otherwise you will be the person in the back of this picture (I am the one in serenity in the front of the picture).

I think that is it right, a good job, and an explanation of getting stuck at night and then the important stuff, like hug a kitten, or better yet, hug a CAT GIRL, yes, and get all the rabbits and cats to help you do cooking. Now that is a fantasy, but still, if I could get Linda to put on the cat ears I could hug some boobies AND a cat girl at the same time. I only wish there were cats who made food, though they sure know how to turn up when it is around, don’t they?

Well, I did it. I hope you hug in. Next I will try to write the the posts on ‘Normal’, 'Desire part I and II' and ‘The Plan’ – I know part of The Plan involves me cleaning this place up. But that isn’t really fair since I am a person who would have four things out and STILL be yelled out for making a mess. True, you didn’t want to see inside of my desk at school (or locker, yikes!), and I was the person who was doing my homework while the teacher was taking attendance. I can’t help it that pens mysteriously disappear around me, along with keys, important papers that must not be lost, things put ‘away somewhere where I won’t lose it’, combs, prescriptions, DVD’s, books, the top that would go perfectly with this outfit (that is ALWAYS lost, regardless of outfit). It is just my curse.

Have fun, hug, don’t be illegal. Geez, I sound like a parent.

Mittwoch, 30. Dezember 2009

I really dig Ultimate Comics Spider-Man

I'll try and keep this short because it's essentially me splooging over a comic my company publishes--and honestly, who wants to read that?

(If that is you, please visit

For years I considered myself what you could call a peripheral fan of Ultimate Spider-Man. I never bought the book when I was in college, though I did check out the early digital comics circa 2001 or so and liked what I saw. When I was at Wizard, I availed myself of the new single issues that came in, but never really bothered to catch myself up in trades; I had at least scanned most of the major storylines and besides, the whole book was about being accesible and seemed to do a pretty nice job therein.

Ultimate Spider-Man was like that old reliable friend who wasn't flashy or demanding of you're time, they're just always there so you know you can get back to them whenever. I guess I took you for granted, Ultimate Spider-Man--sorry about that. I will say that I always respected both that Brian Michael Bendis was able to sustain what seemed to be an interesting and evolving series without having to take a single break in over 100 issues and even more that Mark Bagley (and later Stuart Immonen) was able to produce incredibly high quality work on a more than monthly basis in an era of delays and fill-ins galore.

Anyhow, somewhere around when the Ultimate version of the Clone Saga kicked off, I took more of an interest in USM primarily because much-respected friend and colleague Sean T. Collins pushed it as something important and because we were reading it for Wizard's Thursday Morning Quarterback (RIP) every month. Now that was one heck of a fast-paced thrillride with more cliffhangers than the Sylvester Stallone film Cliffhanger and guest stars and new villains coming out of the proverbial woodwork. Good times.

However, after the Clone Saga wrapped, I resumed my normal half-hearted interest and respect from afar of Ultimate Spider-Man right up through my hiring and first year and a half at Marvel.

Then, something happened.

Specifically, Ultimatum happened, and Ultimate Spider-Man re-launched as Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. I must say I am amazed, immensely pleased and perhaps a little surprised that after a decade at this, Brian Bendis is still finding ways to keep himself invested in this book by never letting up with the status quo rockin' and that as a result of his latest shake-up I am hooked on this title like a fat kid on Twinkies (Too harsh? Not topical? U-Decide!)

This is a comic about super heroes, high school, romance, etc., but at its heart it is about this: teenage versions of Spider-Man, the Human Torch, Iceman and Gwen Stacy living in a house together where Mary Jane and Kitty Pryde stop by all the time and they all eat dinner together!

That is awesome!

Honestly, it's such a beauty of a concept I can't believe it's never been done before--or at least executed so well in recent memory. I mean, I know the "teenage heroes living together" bit has been done and done well before in books like Teen Titans, New Warriors, Legion of Super-Heroes (basically all my favorites) before, but there's something about this particular grouping, the way they play off each other as friends, rivals and lovers, and the way Bendis just gets their shared language somehow that just elevates it so sky high. It's like everything I loved about Legion, about that escapist fantasy of teenagers having super powers and getting to live in a house with no grown-ups (yes, Aunt May lives with them here, but she's cool), except the characters are much hipper and more down-to-earth.

I just dig like crazy that they are this incestuous little Partridge Family who all go to school together and then fight crime afterwards. It rocks.

And the art! Bagley was rad and reliable (still is) and Immonen had (and has) his own inherent cool, but David Lafuente's stuff is just so...different, in the best possible way. There's so much energy on the page that it feels like he just stuffs all the artsy goodness into a bucket then heaves it at the page rather than applying it gently and over time. I love that. And I love that he makes the kids not only look like kids, but like different kids (Bobby is a bit shorter and pudgier, Johnny is taller and thin, MJ is nerdy hot while Gwen is goth hot, etc.). And the fight scenes! And the costumes! They're so raw and rough, but so pretty on the page.

Dig the new villains too. Glad Bendis broke the Goblin habit (even if it involved killing them both) and is going a completely different direction with Mysterio.

But the super hero stuff is almost secondary to the great teen dramedy. I mean, there's a scene in the issue coming next week (my job has its privileges, friends) where over dinner Gwen stands up to loudly declare "Peter is my boyfriend, so I am off limits!" just before Aunt May scolds Johnny to not have any "hanky panky" in her house because she "reads the gossip columns." And this all comes off a narration balloon from Peter taking up the top third of two pages where he's thinking about how Gwen is a great girlfriend, but he doesn't love that she kinda decided they were in a relationship because he needs a "girlfriend breather" and wants to go see if the Black Cat would still make out with him (if she's alive, which he's not sure about).

Phew. So yeah, great book that Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.

And I didn't even mention there is a female clone of Peter who Johnny has a crush on but doesn't know she's a female clone of Peter! Ahh!

Kat Roberts covers The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1

Original cover by Kevin O'Neill; America's Best Comics, 2000. Kat Roberts's website is here.

Montag, 28. Dezember 2009

Our Comics Decade: 2004

I have a buddy named Kegmeister, who I've written about here before. Once upon a time, Kegs and I were talking about our career choices in life. At the time, he was tending bar but looking in to getting back to school after his B.A. in Chemistry had failed to net him anything relatively close to interesting and challenging work. When I asked him what kind of job he thought he might want, Kegs said, "I don't know, man. I mean...I always kind of felt that after high school you went to college and after college you got a job. You know? Like, there would just be a job there for me."

I'm sure a few people will giggle at that, but damn if I didn't feel the same way to some extent when I got out of school. Originally, Jami and I had planned on moving to Chicago, but when that fell through I was left without much of a plan beyond e-mail applying for publishing jobs in New York to zero response. I ended up spending most of 2004 as a part time substitute teacher and full time darts champion at Mike's Tavern on Fenton Rd. I was living at my mom's house, juggling the threat of literal kindergartner vomit and teenager verbal diarrhea on a daily basis, missing Jami and generally settling into the "lonely failure of a 20-something" cliché nicely. It sucked.

And around that time, I read Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth for the first time. For some reason that escapes me now, I spent more time hanging out at the local library during that year than I had since I was maybe seven, and amongst the local branch's collection of old Peanuts collections and coffee table books about superheroes, Chris Ware's intricate tome was nestled away, never checked out once by a person who wasn't me.

I'd been a little...God, I guess the word is "afraid" of tackling Jimmy Corrigan up to that point. Although I'd read and enjoyed the Ware-edited issue of McSweeney's from earlier that year as well as a taste of Quimby the Mouse at that point, but I'd never approached the cartoonist's masterpiece both because I'd heard so many people speak about it with a kind of reverence even then (I've had a lot of bad experiences hating things people have raved about to me) and because from my little experience with his work, I wasn't sure Ware would be offering me much beyond a lot of formalism wrapped around clever ideas. Interesting to read, I told myself, but probably not for me.

So yeah...basically I was a fucking idiot. For those who haven't read Jimmy Corrigan yet, the book is more than an emotional gut punch. It's more like an emotional water boarding. Ware is definitely very formal and design-oriented in his approach to cartooning, but the book proves with every page that those aesthetic choices don't hamper it's genuinely human story – more often than not they drive it home in ways that standard drama drawn in standard panels can't begin to convey. Beyond that, there's not much critically I think I can offer about the book. Better writers on comics have tackled this to death if you're interested in that stuff, but really you should just read the damn book before anything else.

Although the one takeaway I do think people don't discuss as often when it comes to books like Ware's is how it came out strong at the decade's beginning and made such a compelling case for the "mammoth chunk of book" presentation for comics. Outside the necessity some artists have for telling one story in three, four or even eight hundred pages of comics, massive books of the artform work so well for a reader...maybe even better than traditional books. Comics are a great thing to be poured over. Most of us have a story about our childhood love of the medium and how we'd read our smattering of drug store-bought titles over and over to the point of disintegration. When you read comics, you can stop to re-check previous scenes or ponder a panel or line of dialogue or just sit and fucking stare at a page for hours on end. Your journey through a text is entirely up to you.

I'm sure I'm not bringing any new points to the table in saying all of this, but since Jimmy Corrigan, more and more truly novel-length comics have hit, and those pleasures built in to the medium's face value only grow when offered a single, gigantic unit through which to experience its building blocks. That same year I read the book, I also worked my way through countless Pogo collections at that library and Blankets in the local high school's library over a week of lunch hours. And all the while, there were a ton of new book-length comics cropping up for people to dig into.

So if you're primary source of comics comes in the regular habit of devouring chunks of story one 22-page pamphlet at a time, do yourself a favor and find a giant comic to work your way through at whatever pace and in whatever spot you like. Reading a book like Jimmy Corrigan may be a little intimidating at first, but if you put your time in to absorb the truly fucking soul-crushing impact of the story, the experience might just pay off by kicking your mopey 20-something ass into finding a career.

2004 was the year it all came together for me in a roundabout and unexpected way—in other words, it was the year of my secret origin in the comics business (and as such I apologize that this entry even moreso than most in this series will be very me-centric, though I do make a lame and ham-fisted attempt to tie a comic to it at the end).

At the end of 2003, my humble little web site—or section of a web site—411mania gave out “Best Of” awards, including one proclaiming my own personal favorite writer Geoff Johns as the number one scribe of the year. I was both shocked and delighted a few days after the announcement that Geoff Johns himself took the time to track down my e-mail address from the article and drop me a line to say thanks and that he dug the site.

As winter wore on and the countdown to my graduation from college kept ticking, I was getting a bit concerned about my future prospects. I had entered Conneciticut College nearly four years earlier angling for a career in journalism, and while I had enjoyed working on the student newspaper, an internship at a local paper the previous summer had been torturous and my enthusiasm for that avenue had waned. Likewise I had zero interest in parlaying my English-Writing degree into any sort of teaching career. Really the only thing I had a tremendous amount of passion for anymore writing-wise was my web site and spreading the gospel of comics; but I couldn’t make a living off of that.

Could I?

That’s the question my dad posed to me over lunch during my spring break. He saw how much work I put into the site as well as how much I got out of it and articulated the thoughts I’d been having about trying to take that to the next level. He also suggested I contact Geoff and ask him what kind of prospects there were for somebody with my skillset within the comics world.

I e-mailed Geoff my situation and awaited his response with intense anticipation in between rounds of Madden 2005 and Melrose Place with my buddy Jordan.

My mom actually was the one who contacted me shortly thereafter asking if I had a “friend named Jeff” as he had called and left a message at my folks’ house in Newton. Since I’d been on break when I first sent the e-mail, I had given Geoff that number rather than my school phone. I e-mailed him again, and got a voicemail from a surfer-sounding dude (apologies if you end up reading this Geoff, but that was my first impression) that I immediately geeked out over and saved on my phone until the day I left school.

(The day I got the voicemail was also the day I first spoke to Megan again after we’d been out of touch for a bit; we started dating again soon after this and today we’re married—I don’t think any of that is a coincidence)

I had to summon up a bit of coverage to call Geoff back (as I told my Mom, “Imagine one of the Beatles called you up”), but I did and he was instantly enthused to be speaking with a fan who had ambitions to get in the industry as he had been in my shoes not long before that and got where he was thanks to the advice and guidance of guys like James Robinson and David Goyer. We spoke several times over the next several weeks and he steered me in the direction of Wizard Magazine, where he had some friends and thought I could be a good fit.

I got my resume (which at that point was a bunch of newspaper clippings and printouts of web articles about why Young Justice was awesome) together, did my best to make it look professional, then shot it over to Geoff’s buddy Matt Seinrich at Wizard. Time marched on, I collected my diploma (actually I didn’t get to collect my physical diploma because of one extremely frustrating French professor and ended up needing to attend a summer course at Boston College though I did get to walk with my class, but that’s a story for another day), and waited.

And continued to wait.

Matt did actually get my resume, but unfortunately around the same time he also departed Wizard for a little endeavor called Robot Chicken. I got lost in the shuffle as they rearranged responsibilities.

Undaunted, my friend Tim and I packed our stuff along with a few dozen 411 business cards he made while he was working at Kinko’s and flew across the country to the San Diego Comic Con. We were there to have fun and enjoy the incredible atmosphere, but we—principally me—were also there both to report for the site, and, perhaps more importantly, to network. They probably don’t remember it now, but at that show Joe Quesada, Dan DiDio, Brian Bendis, Peter David, Judd Winick and several other folks I’ve since had extensive relationships with professionally got handed a business card from an overly eager kid named Ben Morse.

I also made sure to spend a lot of time hanging around the Wizard booth making a nuisance of myself to Mike Cotton and Andy Serwin (as Andy would tell me many times later, they “just couldn’t get rid of me”), letting them know I had a resume in somewhere in their offices. Most rewardingly for me, I got to meet Geoff face-to-face and he even took me and Tim out for drinks. Even after we had spoken on the phone quite a few times, I was still pretty intimidated by Geoff (honestly I am to this day even though he’s become somebody I consider a good friend; not because he commands intimidation in any way, but because he’s very much my “big brother” in this business, and I never want to let him down, plus he’s one of the most unflappable dudes I’ve ever met), but we had some really good chats, and as the show drew to a close, I was more confident than ever that my destiny was to work in comics (also, he let me know collecting and reading the original Suicide Squad was a necessity, not an option, and nearly inadvertently got me in trouble on the plane ride home as I was sitting next to a kid travelling alone and accidentally let him read Geoff’s Flash issue about Mirror Master where he reveals he has a cocaine habit; I also met Paul Ryan on that flight and got to talk about the Invisible Woman’s bathing suit costume from the 90’s with him, and he was a really nice guy).

A lot of that enthusiasm faded following SDCC. Wizard didn’t get back to me and I had one interview at DC for an entry-level job it would be overly charitable to call disastrous (I did get to really see New York City for the first time and the DC offices are wicked cool, so it wasn’t a total loss). Through the uncertainty, Megan, my friends and my family remained encouraging—as did Geoff above and beyond any expectation I had—even as I felt myself inching closer to wrting copy for an ad agency.

Then, one day as I was working a part-time gig for my dad re-doing his company’s web site, I got an e-mail from Joe Yanarella to come in an interview for the position of research assistant. I was over the moon, as was everybody I told, including Geoff.

I made the trek up to Congers, New York where Wizard put me up for the night at a nearby motel. The office was nestled kinda in the middle of nowhere, so I did a trial run at like 11 the night before my interview. It’s dumb and cliched, I know, but when I found that building with the big ol’ Wizard logo on the glass outside, I felt like I was where I was meant to be.

With over five years in the rearview, I think I can safely say I nailed the interview. Cotton and Andy had put in good words for me despite my clinginess and Mel Caylo, another pal of Geoff’s (and today of mine as well) was actually the one who fished my resume out of wherever it had been. Geoff had also been in the ear of the man in charge, Pat McCallum, who along with Brian Cunningham and Dan Reilly ended up being one of my major mentors at Wizard.

A couple weeks of relentless bugging Joe over e-mail later and I was headed back down to Congers, this time for good, car packed and all. I couldn’t thank all the folks who had supported me in this crazy endeavor to turn a hobby into a job, from my dad to Megan to Geoff and so on, enough, and I still can’t.

I checked into the sorta motel/sorta apartment complex where Joe had recommended I crash until finding my own place, and after discovering two paper cups filled with used cigarettes left behind by the previous occupant, made my way over to Wizard. I was a day early, so my new boss, Dan, put me in the extensive research library catalouging comics. I had obviously never seen so many comic books and trades in the same place before, so I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I alternated putting stuff away with flipping through both old books I recognized and all the stuff I’d never been able to find. At the end of the day, Dan told me I could borrow whatever I wanted.

So here’s the comic part.

The first thing I ended up checking out from the Wizard library was the five-volume Onslaught trade paperback collection. Onslaught had been the event during which I left comics, so I figured there was no more appropriate way to mark this momentous chapter in my life/career than picking up where I left off. As I curled up in one of the two beds in my temporary abode (they didn’t have any single bed units available for rental) after getting off the phone with my girlfriend, I cracked open the gold foil-embossed cover and checked out the entire Marvel Universe attempting to thwart Professor X and Magneto evil twin/symbiote/thing.

I thought about how comics had come a long way—and so had I, baby, so had I.

Invincible #10 kicked my ass through my face.

If you have even a passing interest in superhero comics - if you can even spell the word "superhero" - there is ZERO fucking reason you should be skipping Invincible. In 2004, I went on to a second Wizard internship where I met some of my best friends for the first time, and by the end of '04, I was offered a full-time job at Wizard that I declined to take for personal reasons (I eventually joined Wizard full-time in 2005 a few months later before I'd even graduated). But during my 2003 Wizard internship, one of my duties was to help out with the Book of the Month and Secret Stash selection processes, which meant I was exposed to a LOT of books I otherwise wouldn't have been.

One of those was Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker's Invincible series from Image. Somebody at Image had sent over the first four issues in a single batch, and I thought they were pretty rad. Walker's art got me most interested because his layouts and designs had this crisp, angular peculiarity to it that seemed so fresh. Otherwise, the story was (and I think I described it this way to then-Wizard Editor in Chief Pat McCallum, who'd handed me the books) a basic "What if Superboy grew up with Superman as a dad and had to deal with teen angst plus superpowers?" kind of deal.

I liked the book enough that when I went back to school in the fall of '03, I picked up Kirkman's first issue of Walking Dead and, again, was more blown away by the art (Tony Moore's) than the story, which I thought was a rip-off of "28 Days Later" (though I've since found out that Kirkman wrote the first issue before "28 Days Later" was released). I let a school buddy borrow the Invincible issues I had, he grew addicted to the series and started buying it monthly, I stopped buying both Invincible and Walking Dead, and eventually just read his Invincible issues. By the time the spring semester rolled around in early '04, I went ahead and started buying Invinicble again with issue #9, because starting with issue #7, I couldn't BELIEVE how awesome each issue's cliffhangers were becoming.

I don't want to spoil it for anybody who hasn't read it, but a major MAJOR character was revealed to be a major MAJOR bad guy in issue #7, and like any regular superhero series, I just assumed the whole thing would be chalked up to a clone or a demonic possession or an evil twin. But in issue #10, it was FIRMLY concluded that this character had, indeed, all along, been a bad motherfucking murderer. And then the REAL insanity started in the series as Invincible set out to stop this bad guy - and failed so miserably at it that he almost fucking died. We're talking game-changer, Superman vs. Doomsday shit in issue # FUCKING 10 of what was top be an ongoing series!!! What could happen next!?

That exciting "anything could happen" mentality and the "each mind-blowing alteration is permanent" promise combined to make Invincible the most unpredictably entertaining superhero book I think I've ever read. It helped me recognize that I'd been missing that magical medley of elements from most of the books I'd read in the past - and I needed more of it in the superhero books I chose to put in my longboxes in the future. But more importantly, I realized that being more discerning in my tastes moving forward was as essential as physically buying a book.

2004 was a brutal fucking year.

Aviv Itzcovitz covers Archie's Pal Jughead 59

Original cover artist is unknown; Archie Comics 1960. Aviv Itzcovitz's website is here.

Take Three: My Xmas, present, future, my worth, my humanity.

Okay. Actually not okay. Ill.

Xmas sucked. Sucked because I was only awake just over seven hours, and of that, I was in the bathroom with cramps for two hours of the time (that was actually my second best time of Xmas, ug). Three hours were spent in seizures and seizure cycles including according to Linda and Cheryl a very large very violent grand mal, which bruised the back of my head for starters.

The other two hours were spent going, “What, do I have to go to bed already? So what if my fingers are blue, I’m just……” (passes out).
Turns out unlike beating yourself up metaphorically or inside, having a grand mal/tonic clonic of extreme flailing causes sprains and strains and bruises and torn muscles and if you are unlucky dislocations. So beating yourself up is not really a metaphor. It does however give a full body workout and burn lots of calories. I decided to see the squirrels, but with the cold it was ill timed and sort of sent me back to start (The seizures and passing out), I did not get $200, I did not get a house, nor was given a utility company.

I did get morose, if that is any help. And a bit of ‘poor pity me’ (if swear words thrown in are ignored). Also I tried yesterday, and today to do the two hour writing of the blog about the grand plan involving my future and the PLAN. But didn’t get that done today either. In fact, I was so ill I slept through/could not move during daylight and missed all picture taking opportunities. Did not get to play with Lincoln Logs. Did not get to organize sock or any other drawer. Did how realize with appointment tomorrow morning I needed to get the postcards done today. Turns out that 20+ postcards took me, er, about 10-12 hours. So that kind of sucked on the time and efficiency scale. They are however postcards I like and wish that I was a lot faster.

But that seems to be the theme of right now, accepting that my hand will hurt really bad if I write for 10 minutes, accepting that I don’t have hand or arm control, accepting that I have, at most, two hours a day in which I can talk to someone like, well, everyone else. I and Linda and Cheryl realized I now speak slower (about 3 to five times slower) and move slower, and just operate slower, and if you come in on real time, I can’t understand you anymore. That I am in a Home, like a Home where they make your food and put you to bed and that is where you live the rest of your life. It is just that thanks to Linda just sucking it up and us finding this years annual rent increase, and the two new meds, that Home I will stay in will be here. Here, for now, and not at some community care center where one worker comes around and gets you on a bedpan and if you are done or not by the time they get back, that is it, because the mattress is waterproof and I would be wearing adult diapers. It isn’t pretty, but it is the truth.

Sadly, my blogging isn’t the truth anymore. Blogging, the ability to blog, is the BEST of me, is me carefully trying to have a good day, and sometimes forcing myself into a fever and illness to finish. The days I have seizures, the days I can’t talk, the days where all I can do is sit with my head in the headrest and watch the DVD on the computer is what is the TRUTH. Those are days I sleep 15 hours, I am on oxygen all the time. I am not articulate, I am not able to understand things, I need assistance. This is the disease. And I am the embodiment of what we fear will happen to us. I am the person who if shown on nightly news makes people turn and say, “If I get like that, get a gun and put me out of my misery.” Because I likely might not have the strength to lift the gun, or hold it steady, I might use the arm support of the chair and the pressure of my temple and then have to struggle with the safety switch. See, that’s reality of even trying to shoot myself, and yeah, it’s going to get worse. But it is MY misery, and it is my joy. I fight every way I know every day and if I give up and give in, then all those 10K’s and all the boxing and everything will mean nothing because I will be dead. And I am not dead. I might be soon, a little sooner than I hoped. But then again, I might not.

The important thing: I’m NOT DEAD YET! And second, hard to blog when I can't move, so will keep blogging as I can. Because even in seizures or like last night when the pain of my back and spine was so bad I locked my hands on the bars of my bed and bit down and screamed, it IS, I AM, and I still live. I still think.

If all people can do is look at the outside, and judge against that, or look at what is lost and judge against that, then yeah, life is sucky. I have days where a gorilla trained in sign language is more articulate and has higher function and mobility than I.

That does not make me lose my humanity. That does not make me an ‘other’ – that which is feared or which we turn from in horror, or stare in facination: fearing that we will feel as they feel, or feel sad or other emotions. So we turn away.

There are 6.2 Billion people on this planet. Of which 6.2 billion people WILL DIE. I am NOT the other, I am not a ‘non-human’, I am perhaps the very aspect which we do not want to think about, do not want to look at our bodies and think of them rotting, flesh peeling off while alive. But hey, I have DVD’s, I have a computer, I have a wheelchair with a headrest. Hooray for modern technology. If what you read scares you, then figure out how to improve my quality of life, because it will be YOUR quality of life. Figure out how to change the society so the rights of the dying are enshrined as well, the quality and dignity of life. I support more disability rights, as while 1 out of 6 people will have a chronic impairment or disability, 6 out of 6 will die. Maybe time to start realizing, that MY bad day, is in a way, YOUR bad day (you just might have it yet).

But I’m not dead yet. Okay. And the postcards are done, and by the time you have read this, some are already posted, the rest on the way.

I go on, slowly, but with purpose. Yes, I may put more energy, more effort, more ‘effort equity’ and ‘work equity’ into ONE postcard or replying to seven emails as you may put into your whole day. Quite probably. That’s my choice. And that’s how much I value each person. Why should I be ashamed of that? Why should THAT make me less than a person?

Okay, take three on the Plan Tomorrow (and every day until I have the strength to do it!)

Sonntag, 27. Dezember 2009

2009: A Year of Paragraph Movie Reviews

I sure did see quite a few movies this year, and wouldn't you know it, I wrote about them all.

Before the new decade kicks in later this week, I thought it might be fun to go back through my Paragraph Movie Reviews for 2009 and snag a couple relevant sentences from each breaking down the gist of what I thought.

Hopefully this will help guide you through the use of all those gift cards you got for Christmas or Chanukah or at the very least finally clue you in as to what I thought of He's Just Not That Into You in case heaven forbid you missed it the first time around.

I included links to the full reviews if these teasers peak your interest at all. Also, I realized I start a lot of review pieces out with "This movie" or "This film" and have thusly grown as a person.

My favorite thing about Doubt is probably the way it is shot. There are no quick cuts; every shot is long, deliberate and creates an effect that you need to be paying attention. John Patrick Shanley, who both wrote the play adapted for the movie and directed the film, did an excellent job.

Revolutionary Road
Forget Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm St; if you're a 20-something looking to get married anytime soon, this is the scariest horror movie you'll ever see. That aside, it's one heckuva film and I was thoroughly engrossed for its two hour duration.

I'd describe this film as competently constructed and occasionally powerful, but never quite reaching the level of brilliance it seems to be striving for. [Frank Langella] is a force, physically occupying the figure he is recreating with incredible commitment, and making Nixon aggravating as a foil for the "good guys," yet charismatic and fascinating as well.

Slumdog Millionaire
Boy howdy, this wasn't just an awesome movie, it was an incredible feat. It's been some time where I walked away from a film marveling at not necessarily a performance or a scene, but how well constructed it all was and my hat is off to Danny Boyle for one of the best directing jobs I think I've ever seen. This movie is like a perfect stew or a well-assembled machine in the way it takes so many disparate moving parts and matches them up into a final product that just takes your breath away.

The unfortunate thing for me is that I'd say the bulk of my problems with it come from filmmaking decisions which overshadow a great script and excellent acting performances. The first half of the movie is just badly paced, racing through the early portion of Milk's awakening as an activist and taking all the punch out of landmark events. Once things slow down for the second half after he's established and time is taken to really invest in the workings Milk's life and the political system, it gets good, but your end result is an uneven viewing experience.

Even though most of the lines and scenes are verbatim from the comic, it's simply not Watchmen brought to life ala how most reverent fans would probably like. The sooner you put that aside (I did it around the scene where Dan and Laurie fight the thugs in the alley and it became clear that it was just going to be all the super hero scenes and that's all), the better off you are.

I Love You, Man
This movie has a little more meat to it than some of the other comedies much of its cast has done lately, and that works both for and against it. Me personally, I enjoyed seeing the actors stretch and appreciated a lot of the heavier stuff behind the laughs. On the flipside, I can see where the slightly more realistic tone and reined-in characters could be jarring for somebody expecting another "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" or "Knocked Up."

Rachel Getting Married
Honestly, the last half hour or so felt like I was just watching somebody's wedding video and I'd only get yanked out of it when they showed Anne Hathaway because I wondered when she was going to snap. Speaking of Anne Hathaway, she's absolutely brilliant and I don't think I would have checked in with the rest of what was going on around her if not for her performance.

I have definitely seen films that are more technically proficient, funnier, and flat out better than "Adventureland" pretty recently, but I haven't seen a movie that gave me the kinda enjoyment and satisfaction I got with this one in years. It's a very intangible and hard to pinpoint thing, because like I said I know I've seen plenty of good movies lately, but something about this one just caught and connected with me on a level that made me grin.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Stir that all together, mix in some trademark bold Woody Allen camera choices (I presume, having never seen another Woody Allen movie) and narration I personally found grating, and you come out with a movie I didn't mind seeing, but could have done fine without.

Star Trek
I'm by no means a Star Trek devotee, so I think I can say I'm fairly without bias when proclaiming this a really fun, really exciting, really clever and really just all-around well-done movie. Honestly, I hope more action movie writers and directors use this as a guide for how to do their stuff the right way. There was a pretty big ensemble cast but nobody got lost in the shuffle, screen time was well-managed, and while everybody got their moments, there was no doubt who the story centered around.

Terminator Salvation
A really good action flick should have a clear endgame established early on and everything that occurs leading up is either a landmark or sidetrack on the road to getting there; with Terminator Salvation, you don't get the sense that there is a long-term destination, just a series of meaningless fights and chase scenes cobbled together without an idea of the big picture.

The Hangover
Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper do what they do best as the dork and the asshole they respectively always seem to play, but that's kinda the clarion call of this movie: don't fix it if it ain't broke. Zach Galifianakis is the breakout here as he has a creepy awkwardness that makes you uncomfortable but also makes you just need to laugh; he really milks every line without being ostentatious about it.

The Proposal
This movie is a textbook example of how good actors can elevate subpar material when they really try. As far as story and script, "The Proposal" is pretty clichéd, not that well-paced and generally lacking in a lot of areas; in other words, it's an average romantic comedy. However, this film is so well-cast that the lean portions are at least watchable and the good stuff that could fall flat in lesser hands really shines through.

He’s Just Not That Into You
I'm shocked that A) Somebody made this movie (ok, not that shocked, Hollywood is crazy), B) Somebody else thought it needed to be over two hours and C) That so many talented actors read the script and still signed on. It's basically 129 minutes of people having the types of annoying conversations about relationship clichés that you fast forward in other movies and avoid in real life.

Despite the fact that it was essentially a movie about fooling regular people and making them look foolish, Borat still had a certain earnestness and sincerity at its core that gave it a sort of uplifting quality that Bruno lacks. There are some truly funny parts of Bruno to be sure, but I noticed most of them involved extreme and graphic sexual comedy, which was more of a rarity and "final level" type deal for Borat, whereas here it feels like they couldn't figure out more subtle but equally funny alternatives.

Married Life
In the end, this film's biggest problem was that it simply wasn't that interesting or captivating, even for 90 minutes, and the good acting, decent jokes and quality camerawork only elevated it to an average piece of work.

Step Brothers
This was less a full-formed movie and more a series of bits that Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Adam McKay didn't have room for on Funny or Die. The physical comedy is top notch and some of the scenes and lines are hilarious, but there's no real coherent plot or flow to get caught up in.

Sunshine Cleaning
The premise here--down-on-her-luck single mom and her bad seed sister make cash by cleaning up crime scenes--is a neat gimmick and decent hook, but really more just a clever set-for a group of talented actors to do what they do best. However, as much as this film was more of an actor's showcase to me, I don't want to undersell the script, which did a nice job of balancing dark comedy with some real heavy stuff centered on loss and family.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*
In the case of Chris Bell's examination of America's steroid culture, the author has intimate ties to his investigation, and as such, he creates a powerful, informative and oft-times heartbreaking piece. The project comes off as earnest because you can sense through Bell he desperately wants to find some logic in the paradoxes that surround him, and his genuine reactions to his findings will hit you harder because he comes off more as an average guy doing a research paper or something as opposed to a polished director angling for awards.

(500) Days of Summer
From the first scene it totally tries to win you over with its cute little home movies, its endearingly witty leads and its wonderful soundtrack, but then somewhere around the 45 minute mark you realize all those narrative and flash-forward portents of doom weren't just the usual empty romantic comedy teases, this is indeed about a very REAL relationship, not a fairy tale, and you get gut-punched watching the couple you just fell in love with have to deal with the same stuff you probably did as you were searching for your soul mate and wondering why it didn't always work out like it did in the movies.

Writer/director Mike Judge tries to graft on some heart and some dark comedy in various places, but it's a forced, awkward fit; "Extract" is ultimately a flick that leaves you wondering with such great talent involved, what exactly went wrong.

Year One
I do have to say that after really getting irritated by Michael Cera the past couple years, his performance here reminded me why I was once a big fan; I really think he's at his best doing pure comedy and farce--as he is here--rather than trying to incorporate dramatic over tones beyond the grasp of that one character he plays.

Mo'Nique is shocking as the abusive mother, delivering a consistent intensity that she is able to manipulate beautifully and make terrifying by using her humor to lull you into a false sense of peace and then jolt you with her most heinous actions; Mo'Nique's final scene is basically what should be listed in the dictionary under "Oscar Clip" (with all due respect to Wayne Campbell).

Funny People
I'm impressed by the inventiveness and sheer endurance of the filmmaker here on a movie that he could have probably cranked out as an hour and a half chucklefest; he certainly had a vision and committed, accomplishing what he set out to do at least in part.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil
It's almost as if [director Sacha] Gervasi wants to delve into these guys' lives as much as is necessary to make them accessible, but then stop short so they can still be characters as well. If Gervasi failed in any respect, it's that he made half of a movie so good that I'm really bummed I feel like I didn't get to see the rest.

For what it's worth, here are my top five of the year in the order I saw 'em: Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Adventureland, Star Trek and (500) Days of Summer (with The Hangover coming in at sixth after a follow-up DVD viewing).

Seeya at the pictures!

Designers United III

I was invited to take part in the third edition of Designers United event, yay!
Designers United is a week long fashion event featuring exclusively created products from a group of talented designers, based on a theme. Each designer has created items specifically for this project, and they will only be available for sale for a limited period of time.
This time the theme is 'vaudeville', and the event starts tomorrow (28th of December) at midnight SL time. The event place is 'Le quartier des boutiques' (thank you very much Polina Kaestner).

Designers United III

It's amazing how the designers interpreted this month theme and created so many beautiful and inspiring items! My item for the event is Vaudeville Poker!

[MAGIC NOOK] Vaudeville Poker DU<3

I also made a little cheapie neon, as it might be useful for pictures.

[MAGIC NOOK] Vaudeville Neon DU<3

I hope to see you at the event!

Participant List:
Boing Fromage
Casa CheerNo
chicada by nilGiha
Hair OH
Kyoot Army
LG Femme
Magic Nook
Royal Blue
Singing Moth
Split Pea
Tacky Star
This is a Fawn
Tiny Bird
Tres Blah

Blogger List:
dango Jewell
Nina Fessbeinder
Puma Jie
Vanity Esparza
Lili Brink
Galliano Boucher

Big thanks for Lu Waffle & Nil Giha for their awesome work and support throughout all the preparations! <3

Freitag, 25. Dezember 2009

Merry, Merry...Etc, Etc

Hope everyone who trades gifts with people this time of year got and gave something totally awesome. Obviously, we'll be taking it easy until Monday or so, so if you're on the internet we'd suggest you check out things like Michael Cho's always excellent art blog where we nabbed the above greeting.

Happy holidays, gang!

- The Cool Kids

Chris Hoobler covers Calvin and Hobbes: The Days are Just Packed

Original cover by Bill Watterson; 1993 Andrews McMeel Publishing. Chris Hoobler's website is here.

Arrive at this post a little lost? Or tired? Fatigued and isolated?

‘Alone and ‘Xmas’ or ‘Winter Holiday’ are the same words words for me. That is true for a lot of people. We had just moved to the UK and knew no one, and bought a pot and made mexican chili as we watched the streets empty, as people moved indoors, drove and saw others, and did whatever people do on Xmas. Day after day of silent streets. Each year we thought it would get better, until I gave up and drove around picking up hitchhikers in the snow on the day the taxi’s wouldn’t run.

We thought when we moved back to Canada, things would be different. Being in the same city with dozens of family who don’t invite you, or a spousal work event you are invited to reminds you only that this isn’t your holiday.

I think I am not the only one who feels this way. Yes, it is the time of Japanese oranges. It is the time of snow and winter, and night and solitude and isolation. It is a time when I get dressed up as a form of social resistance. But it is still cold.

So here it is for an eve and a night and a day and an eve and the computer and everyone seems away. They have gone to friends, gone to relatives, gone to vacations. Gone.

That just is what is.

People get depressed when they sit, or lie, during those hours and days leading up to this day knowing there are gatherings they don’t attend, parties uninvited to, family uncaring, or family dreaded. There are people for whom these dark days of the year are a battle when depression and apathy,when sometimes I lean my head against a window and feel the cold, wondering if the window were to shatter and your jugular was severed, would that be good or bad?

Xmas is the time people come back to college and find bodies who no one missed for ten days. It happened just down the road from me.

That just is what it is.

I fight my demons, looking at my future, wanting to write about my future, about ‘a future’ which I can try to have with Cheryl and Linda but that is for tomorrow. For those who come today, it is too much time, too much time alone. Too much computer time to stop those thoughts. Too much. See, if joy is center stage, then the broken, the lonely, the left aside should be up there too, even if in the corners.

Sometimes meeting relatives is worse than being excluded. Inane smiles the same for everyone, statements without meaning, eyes without caring: a mask. And everywhere people mouthed empty words, until I was empty. Xmas asks for self reflection, honesty, openness, so often the strongest mask of all goes up, a mask slightly more complex than the everyday mask. So that in the end, how could love, or any emotion but isolation occur?So yes, totally shut anyone from seeing or reaching you, is that success? 'One more round of drinks please.'

Email me, ask for a virtual postcard, talk about tea and what kind you like, talk about what manga you read, what you don’t, take a chance. Fighting is about taking risks, and I fight, this year like every other, the social and almost physical force that brands me: “See Elizabeth, this is a holiday for humans, not for you.” And “That is why you are alone, because no one cares.” I know people care, I hope those who read here know that I care. But damn, it sure is a hard force to fight against, isn’t it, the holiday blues.

So I’ve come for you, you were lost, and now we are found. You and I are found. Maybe still feeling alone, but two together feeling alone. Not as bad.

I want to be with friends, even if it is silently, even if it is in a world which does not value us so much. It is okay to be silent, it is okay to be a bit down. Tomorrow, body willing, I will write about that, once this day has passed. Once we have sailed away together through it, we can plan together how to meet, face to face (figure out the name of the boat). But no, this does not mean I am signing your marriage application to get into the country (I get some odd spam).

I hope for those who have family and joy and all the rest that you get the joy many do get from this time. I hope that for those like me, who after years of trying, know it is a day to be endured, or one in which your siblings try to make you 14 again, and it all seems like a film on repeat, then come away with us for a while.
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