Write Right Now!

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I've been buying bundles of old comic books for $1.99 from the store near my office. Without opening them, there's no guaranteeing what might be inside, and so some of the comics - and the adverts - are...really something.

Featuring 'Self Defense - American Style! (not oriental)', trying to enlist kids as a sales force, some slightly desperate handheld "video" game marketing, and everybody's favourite superfun exciting family pet brine shrimp.

Click the picture for the link to the flickr set, or click here.

Uploaded to flickr by DrQ

I love snooker.
The way I love it is close - and pardon me for pitching to my audience - to the way some people love new stationery.
You know who you are. And you know that these sorts of things, when you try to explain them, start sounding incredibly dodgy, if not downright filthy:
It's the cleanliness and the texture of the paper under a fingertip or a moving pen, the unspoilt resistance of the spine of the notebook as you bend it back, the freshness and the possibilities...

So if you start to get that sort of impression while reading this post, you're wrong, I assure you.

I love playing snooker.
I like the fact that it's difficult, so that when a tricky shot comes off, along with that satisfying ker-PLONK of the ball sinking into the pocket, you get a real sense of achievement. I love the colours, the sounds, the feeling of playing, the pace of it. And I love snooker halls in a perverse sort of way - the dinginess, the dust, the seedy feel of an environment composed of sudden pools of green light and spots of colour floating in gloom.
Stepping into a hall with a tray of snooker balls and a cue in one hand with a sense of anticipation is a great feeling for me.

My Dad and I used to play snooker a lot on the Isle of Wight. The Ambassador Club is an old meat storage place, I think, or a factory, in an industrial estate across the road from a carpet warehouse. It has incredibly thick concrete walls and a few doors out of the main hall that look like they were built to either keep heat out or rhinoceroses in. Builders would pad around the tables in stockinged feet, kids would play noisily under VH1 on the lone pool table out in the bar, and the twenty or so snooker tables sat in a silent, almost hallowed world behind some halfheartedly soundproofed plastiglass panels.

Inside the hall there was always a hush, a relaxed restraint. Even when swearing at my Dad for pretending he'd intended to send the black off three cushions and the cue ball twice and into the top left pocket (or when he was swearing at me for the same thing) everything was kept to a forced (if vociferous) whisper out of respect for people on other tables. Sometimes it took a while to cross the hall because you waited before passing in front of someone taking a shot. It gave everything a sense of ceremony, a level of importance.
I loved it.

I've looked for snooker tables everywhere in New York with only a couple of leads about some place in Brooklyn. And by "everywhere" I mean "on the internet".

So when Krissa finally pointed out, as I moaned about wanting to play snooker for approximately the fiftieth time since our marriage, that a basement pool hall near our apartment in Astoria had 'POOL SNOOKER BILLIARD' across the awning, I decided to go and look.
And would you believe it? There were four tables in there. They were threadbare and a little moth-eaten, but they were full size, flat, green and had six pockets, which is what I look for in a snooker table.

Krissa and I stood at the desk asking for a snooker table and the guy checked to see if we were sure three times.
I don't think they get much use.
The place is a little different to the Ambassador Club. The music...how can I put this?
Spanish words, German Accordian, Power Ballad, all in the same song.
That just about covers it.
There's no hush, no waiting to walk by while someone else takes a shot, and Krissa and I were playing while avoiding a couple of BMXs leaning up against the wall (Rarely used snooker tables = bike park area for pool players), but I am thrilled to have found the place.

And there's one just down the street from the new apartment, too!

I don't know, two and a half years without snooker and suddenly tables are everywhere.
Like buses, they are.

Oh yeah, and we're moving house, and stuff.
Ahem.

Got A.D.D.? Join. Navy.

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Since moving to the US I've managed to get my name out there in all the cool places - credit card company databases, junk mail lists, and the United States Government Resident Alien list or whatever it is they call it.
Which of these three groups of people passed my name and address along to the US military, I wonder?

Who knows? But I do know something. Oh yes. I do. I know something. Someone did. Did you?

Oops, sorry about that. I lapsed into the style of a recent letter to me from the US Navy, and once your brain adjusts to the staccato rhythm of the language it's hard to break out of it into the flow of a slightly more normal voice.

Cmdr. Gregory Gjurich of 'Somewhere in the Atlantic' writes (the bold type is all his):


Dear Stuart C. Surname,

For some it's a decent enough living. Get up. Get coffee. Punch the gas. Punch the clock. Do it again tomorrow.

Ah I can see we're off on the wrong foot already, Greggykins. I'm a bit of a pacifist, see. I'm not big on punching anything. I like the coffee part.

There's got to be a better way. Right?

As a member of today's Navy, I speak from experience. There is a better way.

The Navy. Travel all over the world. Learn valuable skills. Get rewards for your hard work and dedication. And the chance to challenge yourself like never before.

..unless you've already been in the Navy, one assumes. But we're doing okay so far. The sentences vary in length. They're not too annoying.

<snip!>
(I hope you don't mind me skipping a bit here)

It's your call. Make it now. Ask questions. Get straight answers. There's no pressure or obligation. Just the chance for us to show you how the Navy can put your life on course. The Navy. It's the shortest distance between where you are and where you want to be. You in?

It's your life. Make the most of it.

Love*,

Greg


*I might have made this bit up.

I think they're shooting themselves in the foot here.
Firstly, they're putting that whole 'It's your call. Make it now.' thing right at the start - before they've told you that the navy is the shortest distance to where you want to be!
What if you've already made the call when you find that out? What if, (like me) you made the call and you decided no, only find that out later in the paragraph?
Secondly I think a big chunk of the readership will feel excluded by this paragraph. Few people want to be in the Persian Gulf, and the letter rather cockily assumes that the reader wants to be there. Maybe Greg thinks the Persian Gulf is so cool, everyone will want to be there. That's not true, Greg. I'm sorry. Maybe some of your readers want to be in California, or The Bahamas. Or The Apple Store. Or at home watching television. Can the Navy take me home with a bottle of wine and order takeout Mexican?
On second thoughts, scratch that.

Where this letter really comes into its own is the postscript, which I present to you whole:

Because 'top secret' always looks good on your resume. The Navy gives you access to the most advanced technology in the world - nuclear ships and subs. Stealth power. Virtually undetectable. This is your domain. Master it. Call now. We'll tell you more.
Navy. Accelerate your life?.

It's probably my bumbling inefficient and undisciplined civilian mind, but if something was top secret, I wouldn't put it on my resume. Unless it's the sort of top secret that you can tell people exists, but not anything about?

Employment History:
October 2001- October 2008: TOP SECRET My duties in this role included organising OBJECT CENSORED, with responsibilities for making sure the CREATURE CENSORED didn't run out of cheese, and that the OBJECT CENSORED, OBJECT CENSORED and OBJECT CENSORED were ACTION CENSORED. I was VERB CENSORED in a MAGNITUDE CENSORED team in LOCATION CENSORED. Please hire me because one day I might get drunk and tell you all about it and you will feel cool.

What is stealth power? Is that like when you bypass your electricity meter to get it for free?
Has someone been watching Seinfeld? Master of your domain? What?
Things I learned from this letter: "Navy." is the only one-word sentence in the English language.
And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that trademarked slogan rather remeniscent of the reason why a lot of people don't want to join the Navy?

Accelerate your life? - cross the finishing line before anyone else.

Modern Genius

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What with society's growing immunity to advertising and despite the increasingly penetrating nature of the ads, I hardly notice internet advertising anymore.
But this ad on a cricket news website just blew me away:

Cricket Website Advertising


Absolutely brilliant.

Nohari Damn Assy

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To complete the circle, here's the flip-side of the Johari character merits Window:

The Nohari Character Weakness Window.

Let rip with how you see my flaws, too!

Please note that I try to be very impartial with respect to my faults, so please don't be afraid to put your actual name. Chances are I'll take it seriously and try to remedy things between us.
Also, if you could email me your street address and list any security flaws your home might have, that'd be great.

Update: What, no takers?

Batsman!

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A fleshing out of an idea I had doodling on a post-it note yesterday.

Comical

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I've not drawn since finishing the Missed Connections comic. I think this might have a lot to do with having the audacity to create something I'm mostly happy with, which has taken away some of the 'Can I do this?' intrigue and determination.
But not all of the determination.

I've been reading comics and, well...thinking about them.
And tonight I'm going to start something new. Honest.
It's not the thing I was thinking of in the last post when I mentioned I was thinking of starting something new. Oh no no!
It's much newer than that.
Before I was thinking that something Krissa and I were joking about might make a good comics project - short summaries of books and movies.

So 300 might go (Krissa's) :
Loincloths
Death
Death
FIN.
(with a varying direction of death)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's '100 years of Solitude' might go:
Town is founded
Plague of Aurelio Buendias
Town falls to bits
FIN

Pete Hamill's 'Forever' (Krissa's) might go:
Guy moves to Manhattan
Guy achieves immortality
Guy gets great apartment
FIN

The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (both our idea) might go:
Walking Hobbit
Walking Hobbit
Walking Hobbit
BLURRY ACTION SCENE
Walking Hobbit
Death
FIN

Audrey Niffenegger's 'Time Traveler's Wife' might go:

Couple Fall In Love
Couple Meet
Death
FIN

...and so on and so forth.
But while that works as WORD jokes, thinking about them as words and pictures...I don't think they'd work...would they? A 'FIN' frame?
I'm not sure.
The whole thing about the flippancy and abandoning of detail would sort of die if I have to painstakingly draw repeated and different death scenes...but ENOUGH! Analysis in this instance is over.

Um, yeah, so I'll start something tonight.

Perspective

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Do you see me as I see myself?

Here's a little doohickey that has a list of words. I've chosen 6 that I think describe myself...do they match what you would choose to describe me?

Here's the 'Johari Window': My Johari Window.

This could be really interesting. If you have one too, or start one, leave the address in the comments.

Seen first on BoJo

Pardon The Eskimos

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My Craigslist 'Missed Connections' comic is finished and on flickr.

It's in a different style to the last one, with brushpen text added after (scanned and added on the 'puter) - something I like and think I'll do again!
This project has given me an idea for something slightly more long-term, so watch this space...

Tunage

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Two and a half years and 35,294 songs along, I just discovered that you can listen to a radio station generated from my listening history. With whole songs and everything, not just teaser snippets.

And here it is:

That's pretty good, isn't it? Just hit play!

In that time, my top 10 artists were (Chart Placing, Artist Name, Number of Plays):

1 Gomez - 1,239
2 Amon Tobin - 906
3 The Beatles - 875
4 Lemon Jelly - 624
5 Athlete - 533
6 Super Furry Animals - 520
7 Blur - 445
8 Chicane - 436
9 Morcheeba - 423
10 Counting Crows - 421

And my top 25 tracks, moderated for a few nights when I left short playlists on repeat, were:

1 Mr. Scruff ? Get a Move On ? 61
2 A Flock of Seagulls ? I Ran ? 58
3 PJ Harvey ? You Said Something ? 57
4 Basement Jaxx ? Do Your Thing ? 48
5 The Caesars ? Jerk It Out ? 44
6 Blur ? Out of Time ? 43
7 Nitin Sawhney ? Sunset ? 43
8 New Radicals ? Mother, I Just Can't Get Enough ? 43
9 Nelly Furtado ? Powerless ? 42
10 The Divine Comedy ? Gin Soaked Boy ? 42
11 Ray Barretto ? New York Soul ? 42
12 Fun Lovin' Criminals ? Swashbucklin' In Brooklyn ? 40
13 Lemon Jelly ? '64 aka Go ? 40
14 The Mooney Suzuki ? Alive and Amplified ? 40
15 Mint Royale ? From Rusholme With Love ? 40
16 Good Charlotte ? Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous ? 40
17 Feeder ? Just the Way I'm Feeling ? 38
18 Lemon Jelly ? Ramblin' Man ? 38
19 Syntax ? Destiny ? 37
20 Echobelly ? I Can't Imagine the World Without Me ? 36
21 The Streets ? Turn the Page ? 36
22 Gomez ? How We Operate ? 35
23 Athlete ? Wires ? 33
24 Ryan Adams ? New York, New York ? 32
25 Gomez ? Rhythm & Blues Alibi ? 32

So...yeah!
There's a huge chunk of my life. Or at least, what I was listening to during a huge chunk of my life.

How much IS that, anyway? Let's say an average 3.5 minutes per song.

3.5 x 35,294 = 123529 minutes
Which is 2,058.8 hours
Or 85 straight days.
Which, considering that just my work iTunes library is 13.6 days in length, all of a sudden doesn't seem that long...but as a fraction of the time elapsed:
2 years, 6 months = 912 days

85 / 912 = 0.093

So I've been listening to music for 9% of my entire life in the last two and a half years.
That IS a lot.

I Have

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Finished all the art for the 'Missed Connections' Comic. Barring a few pending digital cleanups, o'course.
Text and framing tomorrow night.

Huzzah!

I Should:

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- Go to the doc for a checkup

- Go to the dentist for a checkup

- Eat better and exercise and possibly take vitamins and maybe illegal Soviet-era steroids so I stop getting FUCKING COLDS ARG.

- Register for an exam I'm under no particular pressure to take

- Oh and another exam I'm under a little more pressure to take but still not that much and is a long way off anyway

- Find out if my brain still has the capability to study (and I'm not sure it has)

Anyway.
So what have I been up to, apart from carting voluminous quantities of rhinovirus around the house at a shuffling sort of pace?

I'm 2/3 of the way through that Len Deighton Game-Set-Match trilogy, and Shiv lent me some comics stuff* that is filling a big gap in my reading: V for Vendetta, Watchmen and Marvels. V for Vendetta was mean and moody, and played around with the medium sufficiently that I was entranced by the plot, art and mechanics of it all at once. I'm about a hundred pages into Watchmen and that is blinding.

Krissa and I recently watched the Battlestar Galactica miniseries (which is all of the new BG I've seen so far, and I'm looking forward to working our way through the rest), Best In Show, Shaolin Soccer (which I'd seen before - it's great if you're into tongue-in-cheek kung-fu/sport crossover movies) and stuff.

("and stuff" being shorthand for taking a half-hour break in writing this post and losing my earlier train of thought)

Um, I wasn't going to mention this because I'm aware that the others are far better than anything I've ever produced, but Julia of Fartparty.org is putting together a collection of comics inspired by Craiglist 'Missed Connections', and I'm working on one myself. There's a deadline of April 10th, so time is running out, and we'll see if I get it together in time. Not having a style or a working pattern already established (last post, with the pen/pencil combo, isn't something I want to do again - I just don't like the look that much. This means computer manipulation, which...well. I need to learn how to do AFTER I'm happy with the drawing. This may take some time.) Anyway. To avoid disappointment what with all this foreplay that, let's face it, I'm not going to be able to live up to, there are a set of some of the comics on flickr already.
Go see.

* - I hate that 'comics' is supposedly singular. It messes with my head. Now I know how dissenters to the word 'blog' felt.

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