Random Rants and A Possibly Good Thing

I don’t get this obsession with knowing every little detail of a terrible thing. For example, I do not wish to know the intimate details of the recent death of a loved one. I don’t want to know how badly he suffered or how awful it was. I know how awful it was: it’s why I keep crying. So please stop trying to tell me. This is not idle gossip. I did not wish to know every brutal detail of how my cousin died of melanoma a few years ago, but I was told – by many sources and even after asking them not to tell me. Now I have to live with this mental image of his final moments as he succumbed to respiratory failure.

So yeah, as you can tell I haven’t been having a great time of it. Everything is seriously fucked up in my kingdom and therefore I haven’t been up to blagging. I have mostly been trying to fix the unfixable – a process very much like voluntarily and repeatedly slamming one’s head into a wall (and in my case, while the house is being firebombed). As a result I’ve been in a right shite mood, and every little thing is setting me off.

The meaning is yours to experience and discern.

For example, I am so frelling sick of Hollywood making shitty movie versions of really good books. It irks the shiz out of me, but there’s not much for me to do about it but rant. Rant rant rant. I’m sorry but I like the way the story looks inside my head. I am not the kind of reader who hunts down all the interviews of their favorite authors trying to figure out what they were going for. I don’t believe that this is the point of literature. I believe it is like art – paintings, for example – where the artist composes the picture, applies the details and takes you to that other world. What that other world is like is now a construct of your mind. The meaning is yours to experience and discern.

The writer gave me all the information I needed to build their world, to live in it, experience it and feel it. If the information was good it will have a transforming effect; it will make an impact, resonate, and take hold. That’s why I read books. I do not read books so that directors can interpret them as they see fit and then build stunted visual interpretations of them that will forever taint them and compromise their integrity.

(I’m looking at you Joseph Gordon Levitt).

My dresser.

My dresser.

Sometimes I feel like perhaps I’m doing therapy wrong

I’m also super ticked because a lot of really awesome events are happening in my area that I would love to go to, but I can’t because of my crippling panic disorder. Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman will be doing a musical/reading event with a bunch of other artists and musicians in honor of Ms. Palmer’s upcoming book release. The New Pornographers have been oot and aboot. Various book events and cons. Just so many things I would love to see. But I can’t because I’m a fracking mental case.

Sometimes I feel like perhaps I’m doing therapy wrong or it doesn’t work the way I think it’s supposed to. Or perhaps it doesn’t really work at all. Anyway, everyone’s answer to my issues outside of the medical/therapeutic fields is generally ‘take something and get over it’.

I find it amusing how people who have never had issues like mine or who have never been on any sort of medication have the attitude of ‘just take a pill’ and shrug, as if that’s all it takes to make the shittiest parts of your life just go away. But they have no idea how the medication works, how your brain works and what goes into both the disorder and the medication. (Let me say right now that I think it’s disturbing how little the average person knows about how their own body works.)

Popping a pill is just not that simple. And don’t you think that with this whole nightmare that I go through on a regular basis, that I’d have done that already if that’s all it took? Trust me; I’m not a glutton for punishment.

 banana books

In interesting and non-shitty news, this week I got an intriguing email. I had submitted a portfolio to a charity that was looking for artists to make and donate work for an auction in December. This is sort of a big deal, both the charity and the auction. Plus it’s a cause that is really important to me.

Anyway, the other night I get an email from the committee or whoever that decides these things, and they loved my portfolio and want my stuff. Not only that, but, along with my portfolio I sent a proposal highlighting three options for what I could create for them, and they want all three. So they want at least (and they stressed the ‘least’ bit) five of each thing, all in less than a month.

I went into this thing thinking that it wasn’t just a long shot, but that I’d never get picked at all. But here I am, more than a tad shocked and excited. So I’ma gonna be crazy busy, what with NaNoWriMo, an art competition with a local art shop (for a much needed supply prize package), and now this. So it’s very likely that this will be my last blaggins for a while. Which is fine by you, I’m quite sure.

So with that I take my leave of you. Enjoy yet another musical road map, provided by the Psychic MP3 Player.

Portugal. The man – Everything You See (All the Kids Say Hallelujah)
St. Vincent – The Neighbors
St. Vincent – Black Rainbow
Lykke Li – I’m Good, I’m Gone
The New Pornographers – Failsafe
The New Pornographers – Go Places
The National – Conversation 16
Grizzly Bear – Ready, Able
Lou Reed – Andy’s Chest
MGMT – The Youth
Guided by Voices – The Future is in Eggs
Portishead – The Rip
Zoe Keating – Forest
Fleet Foxes – The Cascades
The Kinks – Who’ll Be the Next in Line
Say Hi (To Your Mom) – Toil and Trouble

P.S. I’m trying out a new theme. If it’s disgustingly pretentious, please let me know. I don’t mean to be, I swear.

Writing Panic, Nerdfighteria, and New Knitting Jargon

Even though, logically, this would be the time when I post the next installment of the long-ass piece in which I blagged about the assets of 2013, I pull another fast one and digress yet again down a long and ridiculous tangent that has nothing to do with anything but is bothering me quite a bit. (Like that commercial in which a guy brings a flower to a date of some import, while a delectable guitar melody plays over it. Has no one noticed that the melody is in fact “Never Going Back Again” – a Fleetwood Mac song about bitterly giving up on love after a string of disastrous affairs? Seriously? What is friggin WRONG with people?)

And in that vein I refer back to my last blag post in which I mention how I’ve been knitting up a storm. And while twelve movies (make that thirteen – hello, the Breakfast Club) does fill up the time, it obviously doesn’t fill up all the time. So what else have I been watching? Well, first I went and watched all of the nerd videos I had missed this fall/winter while I was busy getting nerdier. Then, after I did that, I decided to go back in time and watch all of the early Brotherhood 2.0 videos. In order. I did this mainly because I was curious, and mainly because I was bored and knitting, and mainly because I am a fan. I mean, I watch the current videos and whatnot, but I am not an original fan. All of my DFTBA and Nerdfighting expertise came later, when I was lured in through other, related videos by Mental Floss and the like. I am not afraid to admit that; I was still at university (the first go round) and dealing with some heavy personal shit (like always) and so stuff like this got by me. This is true of other things of that time period – like Heroes, which I love and didn’t watch until years after the fact thanks to G4 and Netflix.

Now that I’ve admitted that, please don’t dump on me over it, fellow Nerdfighters. I am suffering enough knowing that too much time has gone past to bother posting replies In My Pants or otherwise when the Green Brothers need to be schooled. Maybe when I complete my time travel device, I can tell Hank that the Harry Potter series is popular in a way that hasn’t been seen since L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Yes, it’s true: the Land of Oz was an epic commercial success that no one had seen the likes of before or until Rowling dropped her recycled saga on us. I could also fill the Brothers in on the equally epic Ninjas versus Pirates wars that went on at my college campus. Wars involving found vintage pornography and kites.

Anyway, so here I am knitting feverishly and watching John and Hank when I am struck by two unsettling things. The first being: as I watch John I can’t get the fact that this is the same guy who wrote The Fault In Our Stars out of my head. Seriously? This is the guy? Not to knock John – no, no, no. Not at all. It’s just that he is very much like my friend Dan. Too much, really (it’s doppelganger level scary), and I can’t imagine Dan writing that book. I can’t imagine John writing that book. Although when I do try to imagine who could have written that book I come up blank, so I guess the whole thing is moot.

What is getting to me, actually, is the second unsettling thing, which is that these videos are a good peek into the life of a modern day writer. They take place in 2007, in which we find John Green between two novels: the much acclaimed, already published An Abundance of Katherines, and the in-progress, still being crafted Paper Towns. This means when we don’t see John talking at home, or giving us sneak peaks of a day in a life of writing, we see John traveling… A lot: Promoting his books, going to functions, speaking at organizations and libraries and schools and even attending awards functions. He is always running around and this bothers me because my panic disorder has reached epic levels in certain departments, and traveling, especially alone is currently out of the question for me. And if I am ever to be published I will be expected to do this traveling, running around and talking and flying in planes, and whatnot. It’s bad enough I’ll have to deal with doing it all as a fatty (which is a really big concern, actually and probably will prevent my ever being published by a proper house), but doing it in a constant state of panic… I can’t even…

So concerned about this am I, I have been searching other writer’s blogs and videos and talks and interviews and articles and it’s all the same, everywhere I look. Neil Gaiman practically lives on the road. Even the Composers of Naughtiness have to do all of this. There are specific Naughtiness Composer conventions. I don’t stand a chance. My only hope will be to write something as epic as To Kill A Mockingbird, let my book work for me as I hide in my room and refuse to talk to the media.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I have been medicated for my panic disorder in the past, but the drugs messed me the frak up and stunted my creativity in a weird way. In fact, if you read what I’ve written before, after, and during my periods of medication, you would swear that whoever was writing during was not the same person who was writing before and after. And they sucked even more than that other guy. The same goes for the rest of my art and music too – everything is forced and without, I guess, soul.

This February though, things may change in the freaking-the-fuck-out-in-the-supermarket department. Thanks to the ACA my health care is expanding and I will be able to resume my search for a mental health professional who has some experience dealing with panic disorder. Go me, and thanks Obama. (And please, I don’t need any guff, so don’t go writing nasty anti-Obama shiz in my comments section. I already get a lot of that – and plenty more – from my sadly misguided and misinformed right-wing cousins. Yes, I’ve seen the open letter from the lady in Alabama who is worried her kids won’t have health care. And I’ve successfully smote every single person who has attacked me using it as evidence. So let it go.)

Despite getting all wound up and anxious that my crazy may be thwarting my hopes of finding my book in a store one day, I keep obsessively watching Brotherhood 2.0, Year 1. I find it horribly amusing, and in a lot of ways I can see how these guys might just be In Cahoots. For all of you out there in Nerdfighteria, being In Cahoots is very much like being a Secret Sibling. We would have to meet, exchange glances and nod knowingly for me to confirm this, but so far as I can tell, all the evidence seems to be there. There is no question however, that I am a Nerdfighter. I mean, come on. Not only am I a most epic reader, I am specifically a most epic reader of Science Fiction. On top of that, I am a font of useless information. Seriously. I once inadvertently usurped a museum curator giving a tour, and ended up finishing it myself. (This has resulted in my being the go-to guide in every museum situation since.) I collect weird shit like ancient cameras, rocks, bits of discarded nature and dead bugs which I then incorporate in both my science and my art. I am an abecedarian, and I have lists of kick ass words – everywhere. This last year I didn’t make a gingerbread house I made a gingerbread… T.A.R.D.I.S.. And if that isn’t enough, I am currently enrolled in a major university, where I am studying theoretical physics. I ultimately want to use my nerdiness to make the world a better place – if not just a better informed one.

At this point I think I could actually give Nerdfighter classes. This I feel would be good, and beneficial, as the Nerdfighting community should aim to grow and spread across the earth, using it’s might against World Suck. So sign me up.

In a complete non sequiteur, I shall now present to you as promised, the epic hat stack:

The Epic January 2014 Hat Stack

The Epic January 2014 Hat Stack

That’s fourteen bald heads that shall be soft and warm in the near future, kids.

I wish to take this final moment to announce a new development in the world of knitting jargon. The knitting acronym/abbreviation Sl2,K1,PSSO – sometimes written as S2KP – shall now be referred to as Flooping The Pig. So remember, next time a pattern requires you to slip two stitches (as if to knit) then knit one and pass the two slipped stitches over that knit stitch, you are Flooping the Pig. Don’t worry, SSK – or slip slip knit – is still called Slipping the Nip. That will never change.

And with that, I am off. Please enjoy this parting gift – a playlist to get over this whiny rant to:
Fleetwood Mac – Never Going Back Again
The Goat Rodeo Sessions featuring Aoife O’Donovan – Here and Heaven
Newton Faulkner – Sitar-y Thing – Interlude
Chris Thile – Riddles in the Dark
Claude Debussy – Suite Bergamasque: Menuette
The Jane Austen Argument – Song for a Siren
CocoRosie – Gallows
Agnes Obel – Riverside
Alexandre Desplat – Mr. Fox in the Fields Medley
Bruno Coulais – Mouse Circus
Iaian Ballamy – Rabbit Band
Architecture in Helskini – Nothing’s Wrong

2013 and The Year In Books

So I wrote all this stuff the last week of December. Brace yourselves…

I have decided to commemorate 2013 with a scathing review of its assets. Yeah, I know that the year isn’t over yet. But it might as well be. I mean really, what else is going to happen between now and then? (Cue the alien invasion).

So let’s start with…

Book It

The Year in Books

I read too much. So much so that my Kindle exploded (see: the Year in Terrible Things). This is the second Kindle to have exploded on my watch in two years. I am currently borrowing a brain shattering Kindle Fire until I can swing a new e-ink number, so I can achieve my reading goal of 150 books. Yes I intended to read 150 books in 2013, and with only three more books to go, it appears I might just make it.

When I say I read 150 books, I am not talking board books or shitty romance novels. So far this year, I’ve read Faulkner, Woolf, Bronte, Stoker, Dr. Michio Kaku, Homer, David Levithan, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison, J.M. Coetzee, A.S. King, and so on. And on.

Some tomes of note include:

Angelfall and World After by Susan Ee
This story is messed up. And I loved it. These are the first two books in the post-apocalyptic YA horror series “Penryn and the End of Days”. Here, our protagonist is a teenage girl with an un-medicated schizophrenic mother and paraplegic little sister, trying to stay alive while angels wage war on mankind.

Of all the dystopian, apocalyptic series I’ve been privy to, this is the most sophisticated in character disillusionment of any of them. As far as Penryn is concerned, keeping her tattered, tortured family together is the only thing keeping her sane; the only thing that matters. Even when good things happen, she never once fools herself into thinking that the humans will survive, or that anything other than the end is nigh. She harbors no false hope, and exists in a state of reality. For a novel aimed at teenagers that’s sort of amazing.

There is a strange dynamic between the two leads, the archangel Raphael and Penryn, and while the storyline pushes towards a possible romantic climax, you can’t forget for a second that this series is horror. It’s not Caitlin R. Kiernan, but it’s very dark, and pretty graphic. Dismemberment graphic. Mutilated children graphic. And even the ‘romantic’ aspect of the plot is more affection than anything. Raffe sees Penryn as a pathetic human, a lower creature. Penryn sees Raffe as a monster, and the means to an end. So don’t worry. If you read this you won’t throw up. Or at least, not for the sugary, unrealistic, teenage romance reasons.

So check it out. And don’t let the angel thing turn you off. In this story, angels don’t know if god exists either, so it’s not religious schlock being shoved down your throat.

Still With Me by Thierry Cohen
I was sort of excited to read this book, it seemed like an interesting idea: A young man commits suicide on his 20th birthday after his best friend/lifelong love rejects him. And that, it would seem, would be the end of that, except he wakes up the next morning to find that it is now his 21st birthday. His life has moved on without him, a full year, and he has no idea what he did during that year or how he got to this new stage of his life. Every morning he wakes up and it’s another year and another birthday, and he is lost like someone suffering with DID. As the years (days) pass, he sees his soulless self gain everything in life he ever dreamed, only to selfishly and tragically lose it all. The story is part science fiction, part spiritual redemption. And I suspect it would have been pretty great too, had I been able to read it in its original French. Instead it reads almost emotionless – bland, flat. Seeing as this was a national bestseller in France and in other markets, and has been translated into fifteen languages, I think the problem is with this particular translation.

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
I had to read this one for a class I took over the summer. Everyone hated it. I loved it.

To the Lighthouse follows a family as it hosts friends and neighbors at their summer home on the sea. They’re 1920s-ish, upper middle class white folks, who have fancy dinners and keep some degree of society. But that’s not what turns people off about this book. It’s not simply a book of rich white people on vacation; it is a complex study of human relationships, and entropy. And it’s told in what is called stream-of-consciousness writing, which briefly became popular around this time with authors like Faulkner, but which Woolf (arguably) perfected.

Stream-of-consciousness writing follows the thought process of the writer or the character. Imagine you’re walking down the street and you’re thinking about how tired you are and how much work you have to do and what is going on with your best friend and how come they haven’t cal – oooh! A Squirrel! That’s stream-of-consciousness. Many people find this too confusing to read. But it’s how we, as humans think, how we take in information, and so if you read it, and give it a chance, it not only makes sense it makes the story more believable.

So this particular story looks at every character like threads in a tapestry. Their lives, their thoughts and feelings interweave, and over time they fade and fray, separate and come loose. We see exactly what happens when those threads are picked apart, when some are removed, how the tapestry unravels in some places, how it becomes stronger in others. And time  – like I said, entropy – is another character here. Time passes and you feel it.

I love this book. So read it. And after you read it, check out Virginia Woolf’s biography. She was pretty awesome.

A Gay and Melancholy Sound by Merle Miller
This book is just… downer doesn’t really cover it. The entire book is a man dictating his life story into a tape recorder, in preparation of his upcoming suicide. Yep. Rosy. So much so in fact, it became one of those situations where I only finished the book at all because I have this thing where I have to see it through. I finish every book, no matter how shitty it is. When I’m in, I’m all in.

The book is set and was written during the late 1950s/ early 1960s. So in that aspect it’s very interesting, very much of it’s time. And it’s beautifully written, don’t get me wrong. I just genuinely didn’t like this book, because I genuinely didn’t like the lead character. He is miserable and sad and blames everyone around him for the fact that he is an asshole living the life of an asshole. He doesn’t do anything to fix things or to take ownership for his situation in life – which by the way isn’t so bad. He’s a completely successful individual career-wise. And you know, maybe that’s what the writer was going for, and maybe that’s was Miller’s motive in writing the character. But as a reader it did nothing for me.

And trust me I do not look for sunshine and rainbows and happy endings. Not at all; that stuff is in no way realistic. It’s just if I wanted to read whiny self pity from over privileged apathetic people, I’d give a shit about Twitter.
In related book news, Gaiman released The Ocean at the End of the Lane this year, to much acclaim. Even though I have it, had pre-ordered it, even, I haven’t read it yet. BECAUSE IT’S TOO DAMN PRETTY AND I DON’T WANT TO WRECK IT. It’s autographed in green ink, for cripes sake. The second I open to the first page, the spine is going to crack I’m going to crease and then tear the first page and spill gravy on it. And I’m a vegetarian – I don’t even eat gravy. BUT THAT WILL HAPPEN.

Aside from the books I’ve read, I’ve also acquired some real doozies this year. My great aunt had been slowly liquidated her late husbands’ books to me ever since I found a deposit of them she was unaware of in a closet in her spare room. They are mostly in the ‘little snippets of knowledge vein’ or are novels very specific to his tour in Morocco in WW2. They have awesome titles like What Happened in History (I was flipping to the back page to see how it ends, when my aunt came over and said “Oooh, see how it ends!), and I Never Met an Arab Like Him. Yep. Never.

This same uncle, John, was also fond of marking his dictionaries, and as I grew up I’d find things stuck throughout marking the words he looked up. He liked to write the word he was trying to learn over and over again on snips of paper, or use dental floss to mark pages. Yesterday there was a grand ransacking of their apartment (see: the Year in Terrible Things), and I finally took the dictionaries home with me. I also found a smaller, pocket dictionary I’d never seen before. It too was full of snippets of paper. But when I read them they weren’t just words he was trying to read: there were things in his life he was trying to remember. Like how earlier that day the Boston Globe had a picture of him in a major article on Veterans who served in North Africa. He didn’t save the article, he just wrote about it. At least he listed enough information that I’m sure I can find it.

The Guide To Reading

I also found a gorgeous little volume at a flea market called The Guide To Reading for $2. And it literally is what the title implies: a list of what books to read, what passages, in what order, and even on what day of the week. It’s a rather presumptuous little thing, really.

The Guide to Reading Content

So that’s it for The Year in Books, but I’m not done with 2013 yet. Gird your loins for The Year in Music.

Halloween and Fat Death of the Endless

Things have been sort of strange and slow on my bit of planet, what with all the cleaning, illness, the holidays, and my recent realization that maybe I’m actually Atlantean, and not alien, as I had originally suspected (or both – maybe my people didn’t disappear into the sea, maybe they just left). So I think maybe now is as good a time as any to back track to Halloween; a time of triumph or trial, depending on how you look at it. Either way, there is always lasagna, spontaneous candy checks (can’t let the little ones fall victim to poisons and razor blades, can we?), and at least one great ape. Occasionally there are film festivals (your Plan 9 From Outer Space, your Nosferatu, your Mommie Dearest, your Jason-on-a-boat) or Addams Family marathons. But every year it’s a little fun or at the very least interesting.

Traditionally Halloween is also a holiday for gorillas. One, rather, who sits in a lawn chair in my front garden distributing candy and bananas to the youth of my neighborhood. Occasionally there are two gorillas as Thunderball is often wont to sport the spare gorilla suit and tear around the yard doing the finest ape impression. (This is something not relegated to Halloween.) Last year there was even a fog machine, and so there were Gorillas in the Mist. The gorilla is pretty much the biggest attraction in our area (outside of my ridiculous dog, but that’s something else entirely), and people come from far and wide, driving miles even, just to see him. Families who have moved away return for this one night, and there are those who have had a picture taken with him every year (some since infancy). You’d also be surprised and a little proud by how many children go for the banana over the candy.  Perhaps there is hope for the American youth yet.

This year Thunderball and I were manning the door alone as ‘Superstorm Sandy’ rescheduled my aunt’s wake, and BB went to represent. Every year we get dressed up and mess around with the neighborhood kids. Last year we had two Halloweens (New England is a fickle place) and so Thunderball was Marceline the Vampire Queen as well as a gorilla and I painted my face and sported wings (make of that what you will). A few years before she was a witch, I wore a Christopher Walken mask and together with BB the gorilla we danced to “Thriller” on our lawn accompanied by a dozen or so neighborhood kids. It was epic. This year Thunderball showed up to my house about three hours before go-time determined to make a Brolaire of Astora costume – from scratch. So we hopped into the spaceship and sped to the nearest craft store with an idea and a ridiculous deadline.

During the ride over she and I discussed my recent trend of weird dreams about my teendom. I suspect this trend had a great deal to do with a recent meeting with escapist Sean Von Gorman, who unfortunately got some of my word vomit on his shoes, and heard a bit about my escapades. I get anxious telling these stories to people because I worry that I may sound as if I’m lying or crazy; because strange things do need explanation – if not context. Hence stress dreaming about my old comrades and exploits.

The dreams (and the vomit) lead to my writing an epic blog entry about my youth, which lead to me spending a day exhausting myself on ‘paper’ only to scrap the whole thing and back slowly away from the computer. I told some of the stories to Thunderball (who may or may not have heard them already), like about the time I was at a party and was accused of being homophobic (me with the hag DNA, of all people) when I pointed out that all the young gay men in New England (at the time) were named Mike, and so I yelled “Hey Mike!” into the crowd and pretty much every gay dude answered me, thus proving my point. I was trying to explain to her that it was a lot harder to write about that stuff (my strange employment, the random people I was acquainted with, my complicated friendships and home life) than I thought it would be. It’s strange to think that you are so far removed from your past, only to find that really you aren’t or to realize how much you miss parts of it, and just which parts those are.

So for those reasons I am not posting what I wrote anytime soon. In the future I’m sure I’ll regale everyone with random tales of drag queens, street art, AFP, Fort Apache, Rivers Cuomo, home invasions and the like, but for now the dreams have stopped and have returned to the normal vivid nightmares with excellent soundtracks (these days I dream in Grizzly Bear) that I’ve grown accustomed to.

At the store it was like old times in art school: budget shopping; being as creative as possible with as little purchasing as possible, brainstorming insanity that just may work. In just a few minutes we had a gameplan and had freaked out half the store- and as many scrappin’ moms as were in attendance – with our whirlwind savvy. (Whilst oohing and aaahing over new Martha Stewart tools a scrappin’ mom pointed out that she – Martha – was ‘moving up from Walmart’ and I pointed out that it’s high time that Martha joined Thunderball, Anthony – Tony – Bourdain and myself for a night of drinking, ‘cause we all know how Martha can put it away, and oh what a night that will be. Which just served to set Thunderball off in the same vein, as this has been a plan of ours – to get our drink on with Tony and Martha – for ages and we’re really excited about it. We have big plans, people, and this will happen. Oh yes, this will happen. You can imagine how well that entire outburst went over with scrappin’ mom, who hightailed it out of there first chance she got. )

Yeah, if the helm fits...

Yeah, if the helm fits…

Back at the hacienda, we proceeded to assemble a suit of armor from cardboard, duct tape and magic. It was amazing. And beautiful.

Art school pays off.

With Adventure Time and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog for a soundtrack, we literally worked right up until zero hour, whipping up this outfit like two nerds who forgot that today was Comicon.

Brolaire of Astora

Brolaire of Astora

I didn’t even have a chance to suit up myself, so I left Brolaire of Astora to greet the first of the kiddies as I perfected my look: Fat Death of the Endless (because I rule). I was much pleased by the new makeup – which held up all night unlike the glop from the beta test that smudged and spread and bled.  I donned the Generalissimos’ hat (to cover the bald) and joined Brolaire and my dog at a table we’d set up with Coleman lanterns (we have no outside electrics due to the giant crater that is half my house) and candy bowls. We also had a six pack of Sunny D – part of Brolaire’s costume and a prize to any trick-or-treater who could properly identify our costumes.

My house was bombed with sugar crazed masses seeking giant gorilla glory. We had to tell them that the gorilla escaped his enclosure during ‘Superstorm Sandy’, stealing my wallet and all of the bananas before hopping on a bus out of town. While the kids were all disappointed at least our story was believable. Hurricane Sandy had been a complete betch throwing a wrench into many plans and lives in the last week.  They all agreed to keep an eye out for him, and to report back with any information.  I felt really bad for a few of them though, especially the little kid who showed up in a full gorilla suit. I think he was hoping for a replay of last year, where he could have run free through the fog with Thunderball.

The brave steed, looking for reassuring hugs between candy goblins.

The brave steed, looking for reassuring hugs between candy goblins.

Most people got over the absence of the gorilla upon seeing that my dog was present. He is a local celebrity after all, even if he did try to hide behind Brolaire every time someone came in the yard and then demanded huggings and pettings after every encounter. I don’t know what it is about him, maybe his ridiculous height – he is very tall for a greyhound – or his clownish nature, but everyone in town LOVES my dog. Seriously – one time he was six miles down the road, going for a car ride with his head out a window when a bunch of kids on bikes shouted his name. He’s a frikkin rock star. And he’s not the only dog on the street either.  So everyone was so glad to see him and pet him ‘up close’ and tell me a story about the time he ‘got out’ – the most epic twenty minutes in small town history, apparently. Everybody in the neighborhood has a story from that day. One family tells of how he played with their kids in their yard. A mother with a toddler recalled walking the baby in the stroller and his accompanying them around the block. He saved a family from a burning house, delivered a baby and rescued a kitten from a tree. All I know is, the second we realized he got out (something that never happens and I’ll discuss why at another time) half the neighborhood formed a search party. People I have never met in all my years living here got in on the action to find my neurotic greyhound, who was out gallivanting and helping little girls sell lemonade.

As the night wore on we were quickly running out of candy but remained well-stocked on Sunny D. A lot of people tried, mostly guessing that Thunderball was someone from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (got to hand it to my neighbors on that one), and one precious little kid (had to be maybe three) did manage to finagle a juice as he assured us he was really thirsty and just wanted to go home. Costume-wise I am happy to report the absolute lack of zombies, which I’ve previously stated are the Disney Princess of costumes these days. I was sure we’d see dozens of those. Rather, I was shocked to see a surprising number of Mario Brothers, especially Mario. Am not sure what that was all about, but it was a trend I did not see coming.

In the end we were down to a handful of candy when a bunch of high schoolers in some decent getups show up. They were accompanying a young man who lives a few houses from me who is mentally handicapped. He was upset when I told him he couldn’t take all of the candy that was left, in case we got any more late comers. So he got sneaky and replaced our remaining candy bars with candy from his bag that he didn’t like. Touché, kid. The rest of the group was preoccupied with scoring Sunny D from Brolaire, and failing miserably. One of them, a guy in drag, was particularly endearing. He was in a miniskirt and boots with bad makeup and a big blonde wig, all giving him the effect of a drag queen who just woke up in an alley behind a dumpster. I asked him if his name was Mike. Thunderball nearly lost her shit (epic spit take ensued).

As we were closing up for the night, folding up the table and chair, gathering lanterns, my neighbor came over walking his dog. (Of course my dog is asleep back in the house when his girlfriend comes over). He isn’t looking for candy. He’s come specifically to ask if Thunderball is a Sun Bro. She almost keeled with joy. He tells us that he saw us from his candy distributing station at his house across the street and was dying to ask but his wife wouldn’t let him come over.  So when the kids stopped coming he snuck over under the guise of walking their dog. It was awesome. Much Sunny D was shared, the Sun Be Praised.

Praise the Sun

Praise the Sun

So I guess it was a successful night. Lots of diabeetus was encouraged, much praise was given the sun, and my dog continued his work as Ambassador to the Neighborhood. Plus, Thunderballs’ night was made, so that was good enough for me.

Oh, and here they are, the last pictures of me to appear on the interwebs.

It's all about the angles, baby.

It’s all about the angles, baby.

Not so bad for someone with so many chins. It’s all about the angles people. Awww yeah.

Fat Death

Fat Death

Making An Ass Out Of Myself In Public and Burning A Man At The Stake

Yesterday I spent three hours in traffic to see a man burn himself at the stake. In my world this is called a ‘Saturday’.

Who can resist a flier like this?

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea too: round up the posse, drive to Salem, meet artist and escapist Sean Von Gorman at a comic book shop, then retreat moderately unscathed. But apparently it wasn’t as my posse called last minute to cancel and I failed to factor in the logistical nightmare that is October in Salem.

Halloween in Salem, MA is a bit insane. The entire month of October the town has events and on top of that, just because it’s Salem, people come from all over the world to wander the streets and loiter in full costume, blocking traffic and being generally annoying. This is silly when you consider that it’s not unusual for people to wander the streets dressed as cartoon witches any other day of the year, including Christmas. Why should October be special? It’s overkill! Plus – what the hell is with all the witches? You’re in Salem people! Not only has it been done, but you’re in the town that perfected the concept. (Now, going to see a man possibly immolate himself, that’s never overdone. Pun intended.)

I was disappointed in my posse but I wasn’t too upset. I still had a ride (license still flagged), and wouldn’t be totally alone on my journey. It did take pulling teeth to get people out of doors and into cars but I was on my way. No big whoop. Until we hit insane traffic and a twenty minute drive became a three hour crawl. By the time I arrived in Salem proper it was about four and Von Gorman was expected to combust around 3:30 ish. Yeah.  I was definitely sure I’d missed it. (And while I’m sure that using the power of my mind to push the traffic forward helped considerably, it still didn’t help enough.)

I was stuck on a bridge in front of these guys for nearly half an hour.

We got within blocks of the comic shop when we realized that all the streets in the area had been cordoned off.  So I was forcibly ejected and sent in the general direction of the place. I was fairly familiar with the area, but I had never been to this particular branch of the comic chain, and didn’t know exactly where it was. I just wandered about, through the throngs of masked and made-up loiterers, many of whom were staring into the sky and taking pictures. At first I thought it was tourists taking photos of the ornamental facades of the historical buildings. But so many people were doing it, that I became concerned that we were experiencing an alien invasion. Finally I asked one woman what everyone was on about, and she told me – acting like I was completely stupid – that they were looking at ‘the four rainbows’. I couldn’t see them as I was on the wrong end of the road. So I crossed over and sure enough, there were four rainbows: two arcs next to each other, with two more inverted arcs beneath them. It was strangely beautiful. I moved to take a photo myself, when the vertigo came on like a severe blow to the head.

For those unfortunately afflicted with vertigo, it can be hard to just stay upright, let alone walk straight or maneuver through a crowd. In the worst possible scenarios you can fall down or even collapse. My particular variety of vertigo alternates between being on the Tilt-a-Whirl and being on the Pirate Ship. Understandably, this is why I like to travel with a posse. I began to become anxious about getting lost and staggering down the road like a fat drunk. Oh – and did I mention that I do not have a cell phone? Yeah, I’m winning on all ends here.  So I was also seeing what businesses were open along the road in case I needed to find a place to stop and phone my ride to come rescue me. How I miss payphones…

I saw a large crowd up ahead of me, and as I closed in I realized that I was at the comic book shop and that I had not missed the performance after all. I guess everyone was running late. I am not super tall and I was way in the back, so I didn’t really get to see much. Essentially, as well as being a fabulous illustrator, Mr. Von Gorman (how great is that name by the way?) is an escape artist. I’ve seen him before (and you can too, on the interwebs) escape from a straightjacket and leg shackles. Today he was apparently tied to a burning stake as well. Or steak. I didn’t really get a good look. I was trying to focus on a point on the building, which is a trick that can help when the vertigo isn’t too bad – sort of like finding the horizon when you’re in a ship – when some of the crowd behind and beside me started asking what was going on. Surprised, as they were in the crowd, I told them and they pressed closer to get a better look, essentially squishing around me like sardines. Someone asked me if he did it yet, and I replied that I didn’t think so, as I couldn’t smell roast pork. A big guy next to me (I’m huge so if I say someone is big, you can believe they are impressive), was shouting to more people to join the fray – “Hey, this guy is lighting himself on fire!” and so more loiterers pressed in.

At this point I really needed to get out of there. Wiggy and dizzy – not a fun combination. But there was hearty applause and the crowd began to disperse, which helped. (Plus, no burning meat smell.) I turned to the girl who was pressed up against my left and asked her if I could make a quick call on her phone and she clutched her purse to her chest and said in a panicky voice “I’m just waiting for my mom!” (she had to be at least 16), to which I replied “O thank God.” Then I asked the large gentleman on my right, who not only let me use his phone, he made the call for me as it was a tricky touch-screen that jumped around if you looked at it wrong. Kudos large guy.

And he lives to draw another day.

Most people left or went into the building. Mr. VG was still outside doffing his straightjacket. I snapped a picture (so crooked, by the way) and asked when he planned to sign his book. He said in a while, but I had to leave so I told him it was nice to meet him but I had to split. I was dizzy and wiggy! He stopped what he was doing (interviews, no less) and took me inside to get me a book. Seriously. He signed my book, identified me as a possible cyber stalker, and we talked. Right now I feel should apologize. Firstly I was using the wall of binned comics behind him as a focal point so I could stay upright. So that alone probably came off as nut bar. On top of that I was either swaying slightly or I was using my vampire powers to stay abnormally still (a power I call upon in situations such as these). Either way – unnerving behaviour. Plus there’s my overall fabulous general appearance; that’s off putting. Then I was all wound up which means I was talking too much and hopefully it was making sense and not some scary gibberish. I don’t always remember everything I say when I get a case of nervous word vomit. For example: my undergrad oral midterm presentation was ‘off the cuff’ which to me means I didn’t know what to talk about and I knew that if I’d prepared anything I’d forget it if I didn’t read it off cards (and thus seem all the more unprepared). All I know about that speech was that it got lots of laughs from the board and the crowd, and when I sat back down my Cyborg told me that I mentioned the TARDIS several times and David Tennant at least once. Then this strange guy sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder, told me ‘that was awesome’ and showed me his sonic screwdriver. Not a euphemism.

I know I talked about when I was a violinist, how I was an artist, how now I’m studying to be a physicist. About Neil Gaiman and my book. About what I tried to do when I was a professional street teamer. I really hope I didn’t bring up my insane IQ which I sometimes do at times like these, though not to show off but to somehow prove I’m really not crazy. (Because my synapses are firing at levels even I have no control over!)  He told me he was looking around for the bunny (my twitter icon) and I said “Look all you want but she’s dead!”  What else. Huh. I don’t even know. I was really worried that I was keeping him from signing books for other fans. I spoke with a publisher for Alterna comics (the publishing house of Von Gorman’s book The Secret Adventures of Houdini) and a nice woman called Alexandria the Great who is also an escape artist. She told me to stalk her online too, and I told her to go visit the Museum of Public Health in Tewksbury, MA where they have some impressive historical straightjackets (along with other scary vintage forms of restraint). I may even have mentioned the Generalissimo to someone (O Dear Glob no). Then I guess I left, feeling like a complete idiot and probable asshole, as I do whenever I come down with word vomit.

Heading back to the road to find my ride, I realized I had at some point broken out in a cold sweat, and when I wiped my forehead I could feel that the psoriasis had migrated down the side of my face and was itching like a motherfrakker. (Now am paranoid that I may have been scratching my face like a meth addict the whole time).  Adding the vertigo and my freezing hands to that list means that what I was experiencing was a side effect of my blood disorder, and not in fact a psychotic break (which could happen, with my luck you never know). This would have been pointed out to me had I not been alone, and I wouldn’t have been so anxious. Plus someone would have monitored my verbal output so I would have sounded reasonably normal, yet still brilliant. See why posses are important?

On the street I found myself surrounded by a group of people whose Hallowe’en costume was rather high concept: they were pretending to be a group of lost French tourists. But they didn’t speak French and I knew it. So they kept asking me things in French-ish gibberish until I answered back in my terrible – but basically accurate – high school French. I pretended to be excited that they spoke French, introduced myself, asked them about themselves and gave them simple directions back to the festivities downtown.  They looked stupefied and one uttered a red faced ‘thanks’ as I hopped back into my chauffeured vehicle and headed away. Other than that, I did see some interesting costumes that day. There was a very popular ‘Wilfred’ on a leash being led by a flabbergasted Elijah Wood lookalike. There was also a kid decked out in Moonrise Kingdom gear (although that may not be what he was going for, it was awesomely accurate nonetheless).  In the car BB noted all the naughty witches he saw as he drove around looking for me, and I lamented how most of the costumes (especially in the comic shop) were zombie in nature. I’m sorry but I’m SO sick of zombies. It has gotten to a point where it’s just unoriginal. It’s the Disney Princess of teenage and adult costumes.

Getting dizzy with it in a state park.

The ride home was this bizarre three way conversation that covered cops, the guy I saw arguing with his wife about where to find a head (not toilet but appendage), traffic, bizarre motorcycles (we saw a few doozies on the way up), French Provencal cooking, alpacas (“their heads come out of their chests!”), photography, comic books, and how I should provide services via Twitter for people new to the New England area so that they can get around more easily. It was also mentioned that calling Mass. AveMassachusetts Avenue’, while entirely accurate, would easily get you a punch in the face.  We drove home ‘the long way’ through the state park and I snapped a few crooked pictures before moving along. We got home and worked the kinks out of one of BB’s new songs while re-stringing three of the guitars. I opened the bag to show him the graphic novel and was surprised to see that they had tossed some extra stuff in there, which was rather awesome. How nice is that? (Or maybe… how badly did they want to get rid of me?)

Plink Plink.

Overall surreal, I’d say my day was successful. I didn’t get to see the fire, but he survived, so I guess that’s alright. (The event was like an old Life cereal commercial: The humanist in me was glad everyone survived; while the pyro in me missed the FIRE FIRE!) I made an ass out of myself in public, proved why I should never reveal myself in real life to my cyber friends, and had a bad blood day by myself (also in public). Well done me!

The Secret Adventures of Houdini. Buy it.

This is the book, The Secret Adventures of Houdini. It’s fairly awesome historical fiction, everyone should check it out. You can find out more about it here, at the official website. Or pre-order it at Amazon.com. And keep an eye out for Sean Von Gorman live in person (at comic cons and book signings) and on the interwebs. He is ridonculously nice to weirdos who accost him on the street.

NOTE: When I got online today to post about the burnin’ I found my Twitter account had been hacked. The poor morons who did so used my Twitter account to spam people about my miraculous new weight loss cure. Oh irony, you’re so ironic.

PLUS: My blood is indeed bad, people. I am apparently lucky I didn’t pass out. Another well done to me!

The BFF Turns 6, Death of the Endless Beta Test and It’s the Candy

Note its evil and succulent goodness.

On October 6th Thunderball and I went to my BFF’s 6th birthday party in full regalia. Full regalia being Thunderball as a Sith Lord (Darth Marv) and my beta test of Death of the Endless. I would say it was a rousing success, if it weren’t for the worlds shittiest makeup, which ran and smeared and spread everywhere. So by the time we arrived at the party we were fairly upset and more than a tad runny, but everyone seemed rather impressed nonetheless.

Captains Spaceship like no other.

The ride over was fabulous. This small New England town full of people walking around on the first clear day in weeks, with children or pets, were completely oblivious to the two fully made up folks in the spaceship nudging their way through slow traffic. I do not know if it is saying something about the obliviousness of my neighbors or just that they’re used to seeing that sort of thing drive through town. Once we hit highway, however, it suddenly became an issue of not causing accidents, as suddenly everybody noticed us.

When we got there, the BFF greeted us with a COMPLETE identification verification (I think we may have been swabbed for DNA), because of course our faces were covered, so we could be imposters. (Who knows? Right now, I don’t even know. How the frell did I get here anyway?) The party itself was alright, though compared to the previous year it was a bust. BFF was so bummed he wouldn’t don his costume. But the gorilla showed, and he got lots of candy apples and loot, so he was happy there. About a third of the guests – mostly musical metalheads in nature – failed to show, and they were supposed to jam with Thomas for his birthday. Hence his disappointment. It should probably be explained that Thomas’ father was a legendary musician who passed away last year, just before Thomas’ 5th birthday. Sufficed to say a lot of promises were made, and a lot of people who came and jammed last year failed to show this year (even after RSVPing and assuring everyone that they would). It is more than likely that over time these supposed friends will fail to even RSVP or bother to make excuses to come to anything in the future. It’s sad, really. Promises are so easily broken and forgotten.

Black Magic, betches.

The night before, Thunderball and I made the mad candy confections for the little bugger: poisoned candy apples and skull lollies. In addition, we made caramels, caramel apples (with so much added naughtiness), and basil lollies made from our own deadly basil plants. (We also used the basil to candy some fresh strawberries.) Thunderball and I in a kitchen are a force to be reckoned with, a well oiled gourmet machine. When it comes to confections we generally impress the masses with our ridonculousness. Our Christmas cookies, for example, have been known to cause riots. Our lemon-buttercream cupcakes are obscene. So you can imagine when it came time to make the BFF some snackies, we pulled out all of the stops: Our apples were not only delicious, they were infused with darkness from the Old Ones. Our lollies were so wicked they appeared to be one color, yet THEY MADE YOUR TONGUE AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT COLOR when you licked them. That’s right. We bewitched that shit.  Snow White’s wicked stepmama has nothing on us.

Napalm Death

Though we have been known to whip up everything from handmade pasta to French toast popcorn (or rice cakes), we find candy is especially fun to make as it is so very lethal. If you are looking at our glorious evil confections and getting grandiose ideas that you too can be a sugar alchemist, please take note: candy is not to be trifled with. You don’t fuck with burnt sugar. That shit is NAPALM, yo.

About halfway through the party Thunderball and I wiped the smeared, blobby goop off of our faces and tromped around in our gear. I transformed myself into the Generalissimo (the hat I had already been wearing to cover the bald) donning glasses and all, and at one point TB sported a full cowl Batman mask, and it was quite effective. We ate all of our gooey nom noms (despite Thomas’ Nana arguing that he can’t eat the candy due to his allergies, even as Thomas was EATING THE CANDY), and disappeared back into the night to watch Venture Bros. reruns. But not before stopping for gas at a crowded BJ’s first (me still as the Generalissimo, Thunderball still in full Sith garb, but now sporting Devil’s horns). It was pointed out that I must be one fucked up badass if the devil is my chauffer.

Note the black goop oozing down the sides of my neb.

In conclusion, I think my Death of the Endless costume Beta tested well. (Am finding it interesting how my pallor these days – as a vampire – is such that I don’t need any white goth base paint.) I will definitely get better makeup and reprise the character on All Hallow’s Eve.  Also, I think as a society we should do mundane things in fancy dress more often. Like every day. I think it would certainly make this place a lot less inane.

Look at it and taste the darkness.

In a brief side note, I hope everyone out there is planning on celebrating All Hallow’s Read this year. Candy is overplayed, unless it’s some I’ve made. Thank you.

My BFF and Fat Death of the Endless (or How I Plan to Embarrass Myself This Hallowe’en)

I’m sorta erg, trying write a blog that isn’t whiney or annoying or what not. Then I fear I might be utterly incapable of being either, so I say fuck it, let’s roll.

The first weekend in October I have a Hallowe’en themed birthday party for my cousin Thomas’ big 0-6. Thomas is my BFF. We became BFFs one day during a visit a few years ago, when he said: “Boy, you’re really fat” to me, in his blunt way, and I came right back with “Yeah? Well you have a really big head.” (Which he does. Seriously. I’m an adult and his head size is waaaay bigger than mine.) He responded to this by looking at me thoughtfully and nodding his head as if to say “touché”.  Since then we’ve been like this [crosses fingers]. (A relationship built on a common respect for honesty.) My BFF is a unique individual. He was born 45, and is going through life as if he’s trying to learn how to be a little kid. Like he’s some sort of reverse Pinocchio who has suddenly realized that he’s a real boy after all and not made of wood. Even as a baby he was serious, scrupulous and completely OCD – and little has changed. Last year they asked me to try and talk him into liking the thought of going to school for the first time. He argued me at every point, and told everyone that he “feels that it really isn’t necessary.” He really talks like that.

My BFF also has the world’s worst allergies – all of them at once. Seriously. You name it he’s allergic to it. I’m surprised he doesn’t run on positrons like DATA (although I don’t think he can eat bananas). So he requested that I make “those awesome candy apples from that party with the disco ball” by which he means my brother’s ‘wedding’.  The wedding was last November and he’s been asking on a regular basis to have them at his birthday, so I must deliver. He is, after all, my BFF. (Plus I like that there is one thing he likes that I can make for him and he won’t die eating it.) So I am making about thirty of those. Which isn’t a problem. I’m good at making candy, it is fun and I don’t eat it, so there you go. I’ll probably make him a bunch of skull pops too.

The problem is that it’s a costume party, and as much as I love them, I also hate them because as a fatty I never get to be who I want to be. BB will be going as the prerequisite gorilla. Thunderball will be going as Princess Leia or a Sith, or both, or she’ll wear the extra gorilla suit (because every family has at least two gorilla suits, right?) and maybe change later into another costume. Last year I went marked up as though I had just witnessed The Silence. I kept a little pencil on me and continuously marked myself up throughout the party. Pretty much no one got it until my friend’s eight year old son saw me, pointed and said “Doctor Who”. Then I applauded his parentage.

This year I wanted to go as Henry Killinger, which I could probably pull off. But this summer was really shitty for me, and I was going to make the mask and slippers but had forgotten (not to mention I still have no access to my studio or supplies) so that’s out. I’ve always wanted to go as Death from Sandman, but I’m too fat, whatever. So you know, last night I’m having trouble managing the pain, walking around the house and trying to apply ice to my intestines (don’t be weird), when I say “fuck it”, go to the bathroom mirror, find my only makeup (a black pencil from LAST Hallowe’en) and do my face up in full Death goth glory. And you know what? I looked fukking awesome. So this year people, Death is gonna be a FATTY. I don’t care anymore. If someone has a problem or wants to post me as a joke on Twitter or shit go right ahead. It’s not my fault that Gaiman got her weight wrong in the novels…

This is Death of the Endless. Just undernourished.

And then next year I’m going as Slave Leia.
Okay, maybe not.