Friday, October 2, 2009

Top 5 Most Valued Nouns

I've been doing a lot of soul searching these last few months. Actually I've been doing this the last few years with little success until recently. I've had this feeling for a long time about the way the world is and how it's constructed. Through most of my life I've had a hard time finding other people who really saw things the way I did, or who even wanted to consider what I was thinking. This blog was never set up for me to preach so I'll spare you my point of view, but lately I've found literature, documentaries, and most importantly, other people who see the world the way I do (don't worry, it has nothing to do with space ships, cults or magical creatures). No matter how hard I've tried (and believe me I've tried) the concept of God just never fit for me. I've had these thoughts and feelings since high school but I lacked the knowledge and vocabulary to properly express them. It wasn't until college that I found out there's a whole bunch of research supporting my idea and that I was indeed not alone.

So what the frack does all this have to do with what I'm writing about? Well if you recall a while back at the end of one of my blogs I said my next one was going to be on my top 5 most prized possessions. After I made that proclamation I proceeded to not write for many moons. Being a nerd it's hard to not measure your nerdly achievements through the amount of crazy shit you own. You can't be comic book geek without boxes of comics. You can't say you're a movie buff without a collection of flicks that puts blockbuster to shame. You can't be a gamer without having the hardware to prove it. And while I have all that crap and I love it and live it, it's not what really made me the nerd I am. It's just achievements I've earned while being a nerd and while I treasure those things they're not my precious.

Again, what the hell does this have to do with anything? Well for me being someone who's pretty known for having a few depression issues I've found solace and comfort in these nerdy things of mine. There's nothing wrong with that. We all need ways to cope with this strange and often cold world, but too often I feel I've turned to these things more as a crutch. Again, nothing wrong with that. We all need help from time to time. The problem though is the way I've perceived this world so far. I've been looking at everything as bad, except the things I held dear. I've hated this world for so long for the way it's treated me and people around me. I hated all the people who do nothing but take advantage of other people and bring harm to this world. I've hated the liars, cheaters, rapists, reality show contestants, corporate controllers, politicians, fascists, chiuauas, Twilighters, hippies, red necks, drunks, stoners, U-Scan checkout lines, automated answering services, banks, money in general, MTV, and the list goes on. It's nothing but negative feelings. All the hate has made me a very cynical person. While I do believe it gives me some of my comic charm, I've found it's skewed my view on how I look at the world. I'm by no means saying I'm now some kind of saint and you'll never hear a con word come out of my mouth again, I'm saying that I need to make sure I look at things positively first instead of automatically looking for the flaws. I need to think positively or I'm always going to be attracting negative things to my life and feeling like shit.

So I'm modifying the topic slightly so I feel a bit more inspired to write about it. Instead of writing about all my cool shit (and God damn it's cool) I'm going to write about the most important things in my life. If you're a super villain looking to get revenge on me for putting you in jail or for foiling your devious plots, do not continue to read this blog. Any acts against people, places, or things mentioned in this blog will result in me kicking you in the nuts so hard you'll be swallowing with three adams apples. So here's my top 5 most valued nouns.
5. The Beach

So it's a little cliche but I'm a bitch for the beach (not with shoes on though. That sucks). I've lived on it from the ages of 4-21 and I honestly miss it. I've had some of the most revolutionary moments of my young life on the coast of Seaside/Gearhart. First kisses, ideas for many stories, some of the only good photography I've ever done (see above), good times, bad times, rough times, high times (the natural kind). I fell in love with rainy days because of those sandy shores. I reenacted Normandy with friends. I boogie boarded and got caught in a rip tide. I got stung by a jelly fish. I lived a lot of life.

Over the years I've been thinking about going back to it. Like very seriously. And almost every time I stop thinking about it something will show up and make me think about it again. Life was simpler out there. It was quieter, you could always find a private spot, and there was always something to explore. Portland has a lot of cool stuff too, but I'm 90 miles away from the most familiar place to me. My favorite part about entering Seaside is the smell of the ocean on the air when you drive into town. It's telling me I'm home.

I used to walk up and down the prom some nights in high school and college fantasising about being a vigilante. The beach is pretty much the biggest influence on a story I'm writing that will hopefully take me where I want to go with my life. Is it weird that I think it talks to me from time to time?
4. My Autographed Copy of the Powers Script book by Brian Michael Bendis.

It's more than just a book to me. This is basically the tangible evidence of the most inspiring moment of my life. Take a trip with me down memory lane and I'll let you in on what I'm talking about. The summer was 2004. I had just finished up my freshman year of college and I had just figured out the first major story I ever felt like I really had to tell. I was so excited but so unconfident in my abilities that I just let it sit there as my frustration grew. My birthday was nearing. I'm notorious for having some pretty shitty birthdays and my friend wanted to put a stop to that and give me a huge birthday party. So we started off the day by heading to Portland to hit up our favorite comic book store, Things From Another World (shameless plug). The day was a day just like any other until in walks my favorite comic book writer and arguably the greatest comic writer ever, Brian Michael Bendis. I was so nervous. I mean just mere feet away from me was the person who was writing the coolest stuff I've ever read standing in my comic store chatting up the clerks. I pulled my friend aside and told him who that was and he encouraged me to go talk to him. Being that I was in shock to the point where I resembled a nutless chimp, there was really no way that was going to happen. So my friend went up to him and dragged me along and introduced us. I was so dumb founded but after I took my lips off his ass we actually started to have a real conversation that lasted well over an hour about comics, movies, and the writing industry. It was awesome. We parted ways and I went on to have one of the best days of my life. But that's not the most inspiring moment.

About six months later I attended a Portland comic convention. Bendis made a surprise appearance and shared a table with the co-creator of Powers, Michael Avon Oeming. I actually brought a couple of Powers books with me for Oeming to sign, but now Bendis was there too. So I got up to the table and he said, "Mikey, good to see you!" I nearly shit my pants. My hero remembered me. He asked me how my writing was going and if I checked out some of the things he recommended to me (I had). I handed him my books that he signed. I told him our conversation last summer meant a lot to me. As I was saying this he was signing a copy of his $25 script book that he handed to me. I told him I didn't have enough money for it. His response was (and I swear I'll never forget this), "pay for it by sitting behind one of these tables one day. Keep writing." So yeah, my head basically exploded. I met my hero and he not only talked with me, remembered me, but encouraged me to take the plunge into the crazy world of comics.

Since I got this book it's always been at my desk or in my backpack. Whenever I have a problem with pacing in my comics, I take a peek at that book. Whenever I'm lost and I just want to study something cool, I take a peek at that book. It's now beat up, spine cracked, corners curled, but most of all, well used. If I lost this book I have no idea what I'd do. This is something I would want to pass on to my kid one day regardless of what they want to do with their life. I would impart it with the above mentioned story and what the book means to me. Hopefully it will encourage them to follow their dreams like it did me.
3. Matt's Garage

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted a tree fort or some sort of club house? Well imagine having one when you're 20. Above the garage of Matt's mom's house was basically a space that at one time was intended to become an apartment but somewhere along the way that idea was lost and it basically became a skeleton of an apartment. This was the happiest place on earth. I first wandered into this land of mystery after being invited by Matt to watch a practice of the band, Stop To Think. Hanging out in a room with no insulation at the beginning of winter was definitely cold, but the magic in that place was immune to the harsh weather. It didn't matter that it was barely stable, deemed unlivable, or that you had to pee out the window, it was more than good enough for us.

When we started playing role playing games up there it really started feeling like home. The scary fire place and oil heater provided us with a sustainable temperature (unless there was a bird flying around in the chimney). The couches that looked like they were stolen from a smack house were complemented by the coffee table that seemed to always be sticky with an unknown substance. The best part about this place was that it was all ours. Matt's mom couldn't lift up the trap door to get up there so it was basically our escape from everything. One of my fondest memories of that place was when Luke brought over some Mountain Dew he got from Jeremy that was botched and couldn't be sold because it had 3 times the caffeine. Well after 5 people went through 3 cases of that shit you can be pretty sure that we'd be a little weird. I thought I saw a deer run by me when I was peeing out the second story window. That shit was not cool. Good times.

Over the years Matt built a studio up there, but eventually we had all moved to Portland leaving that dilapidated Eden to collect dust and fade to nothing more than a memory. Now that I'm writing this I have a huge desire to have a reunion party up there and play one last game of Wheel of Time or have a band rock out as a bunch of people cuddle together for warmth on the dirty couches. The best nights of my life were in that shit hole.

2. My Friends

I know, it's cheesy as hell but it's true. I don't know where I'd be without all the canuckle heads in my life. I've been thinking about it a lot lately and I have so many different kinds of friends. It's almost like the list of my friends is as diverse as this beautiful country. I'm fortunate enough to have friends from every demographic imaginable with numerous backgrounds, experiences, view points, and lessons to bestow. When I say friends I'm not talking about all the contacts I have on Facebook or Myspace. I'm talking about whoever is reading the ramblings of this chubby guy rocking out in his basement to Bayside while he opens his heart out. That's right. YOU!!! You guys make every moment of my life worth living.

A lot has happened as far as friendships go over this last year. I've made a lot of them and I think I've drifted from a lot too. I've also drifted closer to people I've drifted from. Friendship is weird like that but I know if any of you called with a problem or showed up at my doorstep needing a place to crash I'd totally be there for you (I think I'm done lending TV shows and movies though. Sorry).

After Pat died it was a big wake up call to me that we need to make sure we've got each others backs. More than a year passed since I saw him, and although I thought about him and wondered what he was up to, I never reached out and now it's too late. I never want that to happen again. I make it a point to try and drop a line to everyone, even if it's just through Facebook so I can let you all know that I still care and I'm still your friend. I measure a good part of my success by the amount of kick ass people I have around me. I'm lucky that number's high because it means I'm richer than Bill Gates. I know I say it every blog, but thanks for being there for me and supporting me.

1. My Brother, Darian

It's true. I love my brother. He's easily the single greatest person I know and I've never really told him. Today's my bromosexual's birthday and I'm writing this to tell him he's not just my brother and my comic partner, but my best friend and he has been for years. This guy went from kicking my ass as a kid to holding my hand through every big moment of my life. I never told him but he's actually been the light at the end of some dark tunnels. When I had no idea what the hell was going on in my life he's been there to tell me to suck it up and be a man. He's been there to talk to about anything from comic books to love.

This guy got me my first job. He was there for my first shot at Sam's. He was there when I got my call from Dark Horse saying they wanted to interview me. He always gave me a couch to sleep on when I was afraid to go home. He got me my first comics (or did I steal them from him?) He taught me to take a joke but not be the butt of one. He's encouraged me more than anyone in my life when it comes to chasing my dream. More than anything he taught be how to persevere through the shit storms of life. We talk all the time and it's never enough. Minutes turn to hours. It's like we're in our own little world and the laws of time and space don't exist. We can fight like brothers but connect like the most mythic of friendships.

Darian, I want you to know that I've never looked up to anyone more than I look up to you. You've been my real life hero and I swear I'll never do wrong by you. I'm so proud of everything you've done in your life and of the things you've yet to do. It's my goal to see a comic book on the shelves from the Neilson brothers and I won't be satisfied until that's a reality. Thank you so much for being you and never letting me down. You're the mac to my cheese, the Sam to my Frodo, the Han to my Luke, the Simon to my Garfunkle, the Gilgamesh to my Enkidu, the Batman to my Robin, the Thor to my Donald Blake, and the Bill to my Ted. You're the most important person in my life (I know I'm #2 for you, but it's a close second to your wife so I can settle). You and I are going to do great things together. Happy birthday and I love you.

So you've now read my most valued things in all the world. I really hope you guys have put some thought into yours because this is one of those top 5's that really helps define you as a person.

Speaking of which I'm formally declaring my wishes to the universe about what I want out of life. I want to be a successful comic book writer and teacher. I want to find real love and I want to share all my joys with my nearest and dearest. I'm going to will this into a reality and one day I'm going to be so successful that I'll have the money to build my replica of the Shire where there will be hobbit holes for all my friends to stay in when they visit. This is my future and it's what's going to happen no matter what anyone else says. I see it, I believe it, it will happen.

I love you all and thanks for reading,


P.S. Dan Jones, Brandon Wolfe and myself are currently building and creating content for a website. We're hoping to have stuff up by Halloween but in the meantime favorite our site and we'll let you know when it's live.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Moments From My Comic Con Journey

AWWWWWWW YEEEEEAAAHHHHHH!!! Guess who’s back, bitches? That’s right, it’s me. I’ve been away from updating this thingy for about 3 months now. I have no excuse because I’ve had the time I just chose not to do it. It was a conscious decision that I made because I felt I just didn’t really have a lot to say, nor did I have the desire to nerd out or vent. I originally started the blog to help myself cope with the bleak realities of this world and to beat back the knocking on my door from my old friend, darkness. Since losing my job my life has improved immensely. I’m not saying that shit just to make myself feel better, it really has improved. I’ve just been in a better place altogether and I was honestly just too busy having fun to really want to just sit down and write. That’s not to say that I wasn’t productive though because I did have a lot on my plate.

So what have I been up to you ask? Well for starters I’ve been taking the standardized tests needed to become a teacher in the state of Oregon. I passed the CBEST and now need to take the Praxis 2 and the ORELA. I’ve also been working on 3 different comics. One is a personal book, the other is the project I’ve been working on for Planet Blue, and another is one I actually wrote more than 7 years ago which I stumbled upon and realized this was the version of X-Men I would have created had the X-Men never existed. I also took classes this summer at PSU. Most were prerequisites for my masters program, but one was an introduction to drawing. My art skills have often been compared to a seven year old who is recovering from a stroke drawing with his off hand. So I took it upon myself so do a little self improving. Now I’m by no means a good artist but after taking this class I have improved a lot, which is supported by my instructor who took it upon herself to point out how much I improved to the entire class, thus inducing embarrassment (which is rare for me). I tutored for a few weeks in a Sophomore English class at Benson High School. That was seriously a lot of fun and it made me so excited to get my masters so I can become a teacher. I also took a little road trip over this break to a little place called San Diego for the 40th annual San Diego Comic Con. And yes, this blog is going to be all about that.

For those of you that have been reading my top 5 since I first started (I apologize) you may remember that going to the Comic Con was on my top 5 list of places I would love to visit along with the Winchester Mystery Mansion which I also visited on this trip. So obviously this adventure was a pretty big deal to me. If you haven’t already seen them, watch our videos chronicling our journey. After that check out the rest of this blog and read my testimonial on my top 5 greatest moments of my journey to Comic Con 09.

5. Winchester Mystery Mansion

So I’m sure you saw this coming. I’ve been craving to see this thing since I first heard about it since my freshmen year at college where I stumbled upon this while looking for haunted places in America. So for those of you who are uninitiated or just flat out forgetful, Sarah Winchester married into the Winchester family who are famous for the Winchester rifle. Her husband died and then a few years later her kid followed. She went to her psychic friend who basically told her that she was being punished for all the people that the Winchester rifles killed and to appease the spirits she must build non stop to create rooms in her house for these spirits. So Mrs. Batshitcrazy purchased an 8 room farm house in San Jose and continuously built onto this house, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 38 years. On top of that she actually designed every square inch of the house including a door that opens up to a wall, a staircases that leads to the ceiling, a door that drops to the kitchen below, a door on the second floor that opens up to the outside that just drops down, and many other strange and mysterious things. Just plain weird.

So we spent a few hours at this place and went on two different tours. The first tour was just of the house. You walk over a mile through the house with a tour group where they give you information on every significant room of the house with tidbits about how off the rocker Mrs. Winchester really was from a tour guide. The other tour was a behind the scenes tour where you get to see the fruit farming stuff, gardens, basement, and a few other miscellaneous things, again with commentary from an expert tour guide. They also have giant cookies in gift shop area along with a small museum. The cookie was awesome.

It was crazy hot and I got rear ended on the highway literally minutes before we went on our tour (no damage though), but I managed to have a great time with it and I’m honestly wanting to go back. I was excited every step. The only down part was the German couple that had a toddler they let run around. The child not only ran behind roped areas on multiple occasions, but it nearly killed itself by not only falling down a flight of stairs, crawling through the railing on a balcony, and finally by nearly running headfirst into a thin glass door. This is just a note of advice to all you overly permissive parents out there, it is not good for your children and they usually grow up with the inability to make critical decisions. Other than two terrible parents and a crazy kid it was a lot of fun and I recommend everyone check it out if you’re ever in San Jose.

4. Meeting Mega 64

One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that there are celebrities and then there are Mikey’s celebrities. See, there’re people that everyone knows and if they met them they would probably get nervous, maybe pee a little. I could care less about most of those people. I have my own special people that if you guys were to see them you’d probably walk past them without even noticing them. Mega 64 are some of those people. Rocco, Derrick, Shawn and Garrett comprise a comedy troupe that do skits and videos usually centered around video games, although they occasionally dip into other mediums as well. They’re like the Jackass of video games. To me these guys are not just funny, but they’re a perfect example of how new media can be a really successful thing where people are allowed to experiment in ways that can’t really be done on the rigid television networks.

So I first met these guys at their booth and did the usual, “I love your guys videos,” cliché crap and they signed some swag. Later that night Ian and I went to their screening that was actually 15 minutes away from the con at a movie theater where they showed two new episodes of their show that haven’t been released yet. I had a lot of fun with that but afterwards they opened it up to Q+A for an hour or so. So I asked a few questions. Some good, some fluff. Either way they must have made some kind of impression because I went to their booth again the next day and they all remembered me and proceeded to talk with me for about an hour about everything from music to Portland. I don’t know if it was just the fact that I had presented myself as more than just a mindless fan, but they opened up pretty damn good and we’re just really funny and great to be around.

One of the great things about these guys is how they make you feel like you’re one of them. They do this on a weekly basis with their video podcast. They have their set decked out like a camp site and they talk straight to their camera and have a live feed (sometimes) where you can ask questions or even call them. They always say that if you ever see them to come up and introduce yourself. They love their fans. You don’t see any real celebrities with that kind of attitude or approachability. In fact, you usually see an effort to be just the opposite. These guys are a huge inspiration to me because they came up with a website and just do what they want and get to make a good living off of it. Not many people can dress up as Frogger and run across traffic and get paid for it. Check them out, especially if you’re a gamer.

3. Going to panels

I don’t know if you guys have heard but I’m a pretty big nerd. I know it’s hard to believe but if you look past my cushy, muscular physique and jokes stolen straight from Buffy you’ll see that I’m a nerd at heart. So as a nerd one of the biggest things for me is to sit in a room and hear a whole a bunch of creators of nerd content answer questions from socially awkward adults dressed as Deadpool, Northstar, and stormtroopers. Now I wasn’t dressed as anything special (although next time I am thinking about going as Silent Bob) I did ask some of my favorite creators questions and I listened in on some very compelling discussions about the industry and how it operates. I also got to see Felicia Day in a hot costume modeled after her avatar in The Guild (I’m so going to marry that girl).

So what’s so great about panels? I’m glad you asked. I’ll give you an example by describing the X-Men one. They open it up by bringing out the creators of the comics on stage. In this case they had the writers of Wolverine, Uncanny X-Men, X-Force, and X-Factor along with a few artists and editors. They then tease you a bit and make announcements for what you’re going to be seeing over the next year in the comic. This is usually breaking news so you’re getting it the same time (or even a little bit before) press people. They then open up the floor to people for questions so you can basically embarrass yourself (which I did). At the X-Men panel we got first views of two major stories coming up, one featuring the return of Magneto (at which the room lit up in applause). I asked a very long question that was prefaced by some ass kissing and got a great response from all the writers on it.

So I went to a lot of panels and I’m going to list them off in order of attendance. Superman, Marvel Mania, Uncharted 2, How to break into the comic book industry without going through the comic book industry, The Guild, X-Men, Batman, Spartacus, and Cup-O-Joe. By far the most fun panel was The Guild, although I did leave 15 minutes early so I could make the X-Men. I was really sad that I missed the Joss Whedon/Dollhouse panel, but it was so packed that even after an hour into it there was still a line outside the door wanting to get in. There were also some panels that took place on Saturday and Sunday that I really wanted to see such as the Venture Brothers, and Kevin Smith. Next time I go I plan on all 4 days though so that this disappointment doesn’t happen again.

2. Meeting Claudio Sanchez

This is another example of celebrities versus Mikey’s celebrities, although Claudio is very close to a legitimate celebrity. For those of you that don’t know, Claudio Sanchez is the lead singer and song writer of Coheed and Cambria (#4 on my top 5 favorite bands) and The Prize Fighter Inferno. He’s also the writer of the comic book series, The Amory Wars and Kill Audio. As I’ve mentioned in my very first top 5, Coheed and Cambria is a concept band. All their albums are a continuously building story. Prize Fighter Inferno is also part of this story only told from the point of view of a different character. Amory Wars is the literal representation of this story. I have a tattoo on my right calf that’s the bands emblem and an important story point.

So he was doing signings for one hour on Friday and one hour on Saturday. Not only that but he was selling a vinyl doll of Kill Audio that was comic con exclusive only during these times. So obviously I had to be there even though going meant I had to miss the DC panel. So I rushed my ass down there to get in line. While there I realized I had left my camera in my car. I mentally kicked my own ass then noticed that the guy next to me had an iPhone. He was kind enough to snap a picture then email it to me. Go technology (woot).

So I was one of the first people in line. When I approached him he saw my GI Joe tattoo on my right arm and commented on how cool it was. My reply was, “Then I think you’ll like this.” I showed him my Coheed tattoo to which he replied, “You’re a fucking bad ass, sir.” I couldn’t argue, I mean I am a bad ass. So while he signed some of my comics and the vinyl figure we chatted for a bit. Honestly, it wasn’t that amazing as far as conversation goes, it was just great to have one of my favorite musicians call me a bad ass. He has one of the most unique voices (which turns a lot of people off), one of the most original bands, and he’s a comic writer. The only way this guy could get any higher on my bad ass list is if he made movies and video games. Again, I met one of my heroes and I had a positive experience.

1. Stepping onto the showroom floor.

For serious, it was a spiritual experience. Let’s just do a little recap of what happened to get here. First off I spent years wanting to go. This is something I’ve seriously wanted to do since I knew this particular convention existed. Lets be honest, there are comic conventions, but when someone says comic con they mean the San Diego Comic Con. I’ve been to a few of the Portland conventions and they’re not even a tenth of this mother bleeper. Finally after I buy my tickets and we make our reservations and pay for everything, I lose my job. Now the job sucked and I was happy to be rid of it, but it did mean that I may not be able to financially be able to do this. I bit the bullet and made it happen, but it was a little scary. So aside from wanting to go to this for years and the job crisis we also had the journey. I drove 1,500 miles to this thing. I got rear ended. It was over 100 degrees for the whole trip (which is a great way to find out your air conditioner is broken). I drove up the side of a freaking mountain (which made me confront a lot of issues I have with heights). On top of that I found out at the convention that my grandma was dying. It really felt like I was being tested (this also supports my thesis that God is an ass hole if anything at all). Once we got to the convention center at 6:30 AM we still had to wait in various lines for 3 hours before things actually opened. So when the doors finally opened and I set my feet inside that convention hall the only thought going through my head was, “I finally made it.”

Let me give you some statistics here. 125,000 people attended Comic Con. At any given time there were 60,000 people in the show room. For all you non math majors out there, that’s a mother fucking shit load of people (according to the George Carlin unit of measurement). On top of that, we’re talking 60,000 nerds. So you can imagine it didn’t smell good. If you were using your other senses you would have picked up something else. True happiness. Let’s face it, nerds are a socially persecuted group (which is why we prefer our mothers basements). Granted, things are getting better and nerds are becoming more like the token black guy in the media, but the truth is people are still put off by nerds in general. I myself find it very empowering because I know I have more passion in my comic collection alone then most people have in their entire life. Nerds are ruled by their passion for creative things. No athlete or businessman has ever legitimately made the world a better place. That’s what nerds are for. We live for that shit. We know what good means and what a hero is. That’s all we know. 60,000 people in one room that all have the widest eyes you’ve ever seen and the biggest hearts in the world all just looking for the thing that gave them the courage to face this world that was never made for them. Being surrounded by this can only be summed up as a spiritual experience.

From the consumer stand point this place was like the black market of bright colors and things made of plastic. Seriously, whatever you want that has anything to do with a fictional character can be found here. Need that Nightwing action figure? What about Edward from Twilight’s sperm sample? How about that variant of a previously unreleased special edition first issue signed by the writer’s mother? It’s all there. If terrorists had something like this we’d all be dead. Most of what I bought were gifts for people or things people asked me to get for them, but you have no idea how many amazing things I responsibly walked away from. I think I actually only bought 4 or 5 things for myself and not a single comic book. Comic related stuff isn’t the only thing there either. Film, television, video games, and even music are featured things here. It should almost be renamed Creative Con.

So that’s it. I had a whole bunch of other fun times too, but these were the best. I’ll tell you the worst though. LA. I’m convinced the only thing good there are my relatives (and Ben Affleck). I can’t for the life of me ever understand why anyone would choose to live in that town. Driving down the highway at noon felt like being in a mosh pit where you’re not aloud to touch anyone, all the while everyone is rushing forward like a sperm towards the egg not realizing that they’re no where near a fallopian tube, but are stuck in a stinky ass hole. Driving into LA on I-5 was like driving into Mordor with the welcoming black cloud of doom hovering over it. People honk at everything like they’re having conversations with their horns. The air feels like I’m breathing dust, and everyone dresses like a douche bag. Being there for one day made me love Portland (and Oregon in general) so much more.

So other than that it was a blast and if you have a single nerd gene in your body I’m sure you would love to go. I recommend it. I just want to say sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve done this stuff. I know I mentioned up top everything I’ve been up to, but I know it’s no excuse. I’m going to try to update this semi weekly and on the off weeks I’ll still try to post something fun for everyone to check out.

On a side note, I plan on kicking my comic writing into high gear with a couple different books in the funnel right now. What I want to know is if there’s anyone out there who’s interested in drawing, inking, or coloring. I can’t pay but I would love to collaborate. If so, email me at with the subject line “Comics.”

So I welcome any and all comments or feedback. I know this isn’t really a top 5 people can respond with their own, but any response is appreciated. Once again, I love you all for reading this and being part of my life.

Stay safe,


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Writers

Hello world. I’m busting out. I hope you guys enjoyed some of those videos I posted last week. I know I warned of the language, but going back and watching them I realized there was a lot more than I originally thought. Oh well. I’m a practitioner of the George Carlin school of thought, that there’s no such thing as dirty words. At some point people just decided words were bad without really investigating their meaning. I think it’s funny that people cover up the “bad words” with euphemisms that mean the exact same thing. Not only do I not have a problem with bad words, but I actually like them. They’re some of my favorite words. They can mean anything. They can mean bad things, funny things, happy things, etc. The English language is constantly changing. Some changes I feel are completely ridiculous (fershizzle), but so many words have changed meanings or have had more meanings added to them. Many language purists refuse to believe this to be true. They will say that curse words show a lack of vocabulary or ignorance. I went to school for communication and one thing I’ve learned is that the majority of our communication isn’t in the words we say, but how we say them. It’s all in the semantic context of our discourse. I would say I have a pretty decent vocabulary, yet I love bad words. I know plenty of people with huge vocabularies, yet they can’t seem to express their feelings because they’re so attached to the literal meaning s of words that they can’t let their emotions speak for them.

So I’m prefacing this week’s blog with those thoughts because I’m going to be writing about some of the best communicators I’ve had the chance of discovering. These are the people that have found every way possible to use this silly form of communication of ours to really mean something more than just words on paper. Most of these people don’t have potty mouths like me, but they do push the limits and explore the boundaries of what our language can really express. Ladies and gentlemen, my top 5 favorite writers.

5. Robert Jordan

He’s definitely the most wordy word smith on my list. Robert Jordan is an award winning and critically acclaimed fantasy novelist who passed away at the end of 2007. His most noted work is The Wheel of Time series. Now I’ve said in the past that there is very little fantasy/sci-fi that really appeals to me. I know I’m going to burn some bridges with this but it needs to be said. Jordan destroys Tolkien. There, I said it. It took me a long time to admit it myself, but I’m on my second read through of WoT and it’s clear that Jordan created the richest and most interesting fantasy world. For a long time I wouldn’t read this series. Usually when a bunch of nerds tell me something is awesome it’s a pretty big clue that it’s not. I humbly present my ass for the kicking.

It wasn’t until I made a character in The Wheel of Time role playing game that I got my first taste of the world. I couldn’t ask a question about something without my friends replying back with 20 minute responses going into 2,000 years of history, historical areas, historical figures, philosophy and speculation on what they think will happen at the end of the series. Eventually I just had to say fuck it and start reading the books so I could know what the hell was going on. Whiskey tango foxtrot. These books are the literary equivalent of Lays potato chips. Once you start, you just can’t stop. Even the slow parts of the series are interesting. You’ll notice I’m not giving any details about the plot. I’m doing this for your own good. If you read these and someone lets slip one detail about what happens in the future you’ll be overcome with a blood lust that can only be stopped with someone dying. Just know that they’re awesome and they deserve to be read.

My one criticism towards Mr. Jordan is that he can be very long winded. Not just in the size of his books (600-1000 pages per book in paper back), but also in his descriptions. This can go both ways. Every little thing in his books are brilliantly detailed so there’s never really any questions about what’s happening, but sometimes I could care less about some of the things he’s describing. It’s rare that I feel that way, but it does happen. The series is still in need of its final installment. With Jordan dying in the middle of writing the last book, the responsibility of finishing the series now falls on the shoulders of Brandon Sanderson and will be broken up into three novels that will be released yearly starting this November. I am seriously pumped. I’m an avid role player and The Wheel of Time game and the people I played it with is easily the best gaming experience I’ve ever had. Matt, Bucky, and Julie, we need to finish the Manetheren campaign…seriously.

Suggested reading:
-The Eye of the World
-The Great Hunt
-The Dragon Reborn
-The Shadow Rising
-The Fires of Heaven
-Lord of Chaos
-A Crown of Swords
-The Path of Daggers
-Winter’s Heart
-Crossroads of Twilight
-Knife of Dreams
-A Memory of Light (Part one released in November 2009)
-New Spring (prequel to The Wheel of Time)

4. Brian K. Vaughn

He is a very strange comic writer. If he creates something it will always be awesome until he leaves the project. If he picks up someone else’s project it won’t feel like he wrote it. I think it’s his curse. Whatever he creates is amazing. The first thing I ever read from him was, Y the Last Man. Basically everything with a Y chromosome drops dead except for one man and his monkey. Through this scenario the question is asked, is the world better off without men? The next thing I read from him was, The Runaways. This is the story of a group of kids who find out that their parents are super villains. It’s no secret that kids in some ways are forced to grow up a lot faster in our society, and this book explores that with a super hero twist. After that I read Ex Machina which I gave a review and description of in my top 5 favorite comics. Essentially it’s the story of a mayor with super powers. Now all of these plots I’ve given don’t seem fantastic, but his approach to these ideas is what makes him unique. He provides a unique observation on our society through these stories that have never really been explored before.

Now I talked about the downside to his writing earlier. He’s done a lot of work on other titles in order to gain the prestige needed to launch his own IP’s (intellectual properties). Some of the things he has done have involved my all time favorite franchise, The X-Men. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed. I compared his X-books to the projects that I listed above and it’s almost like two completely different writers wrote the books. This leads me to one of two conclusions. Either he can only write good when he creates something, or the editorial process gets in his way when he works on the big franchises. I can see that happening because he’s the type of writer that likes to do bold things and bold things are very risky for the big books.

Luckily one major show let him do his thing. Vaughn became a writer on Lost in the middle of it’s third season. During the 4th and 5th seasons he was bumped up to a producer. For all you folks that follow Lost you probably noticed it was sucking during season 3 until about the middle of the season. Since then the show has been going in a lot of crazy directions, which I feel have been awesome. Confusing to most, but totally rad to me. I have a feeling that if Vaughn was allowed to do whatever he wanted we would probably see some truly ground breaking story telling. He’s a writer that likes to pose interesting questions and then write 60+ issues taking you through the answer. I will say one thing, after he left The Runaways after it’s 42nd issue it hasn’t been the same. I‘m hoping the curse doesn’t work the opposite way too.

Suggested reading:
-Y the Last Man (10 trade paperbacks)
-The Runaways (7 trade paperbacks written by him, 4 by others)
-Ex Machina (7 trade paperbacks)

3. Joss Whedon

Some of you people out there don’t know the golden rule. If it says Joss Whedon on it, it’s automatically 90% better than anything you’ll ever read or see. Don’t believe me? Toy Story completely revolutionized animated movies. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roseanne revolutionized television writing because of it’s focus on strong female characters and witty dialogue. Firefly breathed new life into Sci-fi. Astonishing X-Men was one of the best X-Men stories in years. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog is musically great and it introduced me to the love of my life, Felicia Day (she hasn’t met me yet but I’m sure she’ll love me, right?). He’s just a bad ass with the Midas touch.

I’ve talked about how awesome Buffy and Firefly are in past blogs so I won’t bother touching on that. What I really want to focus on is his style. Think of all the coolest people you know. Imagine a TV show or a movie with them in it. That’s what he does. He creates really cool people. I don’t mean Vin Diesel one liner chumps, but people who just feel real. His writing gift is understanding people. That’s another thing that I forgot to mention in my movie and TV blogs. I have a hard time suspending disbelief for a lot of characters. Motivations seem hollow, plots seemed rushed and underdeveloped. Not with Whedon. He takes his time and makes sure everything is perfect before moving forward. Characters that are supposed to be comedic in nature (Dr. Horrible, Xander Harris, Wash) are given a real human side to them. Sometimes he throws you a curve ball and you find out that their humor really comes from a deep hurt in their life. His villains have that same feel to them as well. I felt sorry for Spike and scarred at the same time. I understood where The Operative was coming from in Serenity. I thought he was wrong, but I understood his logic. I think that’s why I’m having such a hard time getting into Dollhouse. The characters change every episode. The story isn’t bad, but when I think of Joss Whedon I think of characters I would really like to hang out with or they stick with me.

I know I said this with my TV blog, but all his shows are worth giving a try. They may seem like they’re not your kind of show, but I’m sure after a few episodes you’ll start to get what’s going on and really come to appreciate it. Almost everyone I know wouldn’t think twice about Buffy, but after I Clock Work Oranged them into watching it they really started getting into it. Everyone loves Firefly. His comics have been great as well. Not just the Buffy, Angel and Firefly stuff, but his X-Men too. He made them super heroes again. Most of the third X-Men movie was based on his story (of course Hollywood had to screw it up, but that’s a given). Wolverine has also never been funnier. It’s rare that a writer comes along who can dominate in multiple genres and still be consistently good. To my knowledge he’s the best there is at what he does.

Suggested viewing:
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series)

Suggested reading:
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8
-Angel: After the Fall
-Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1 and 2

2. Brian Michael Bendis

Most of you that know me have heard me talk about this guy as if he was some sort of literary messiah. Well that’s because he is. I’m not even kidding. He seriously is the best story teller that I’ve ever seen. I wanted to become a writer because of this guy and when I met he made me realize that the comic industry is definitely my calling in life. At the same time he’s probably one of the reasons I’ve had anxiety about showing people my work. I study a lot of comic writers and I’ve been able to break a lot of them down to some basic elements and I’ve found their style. Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Matt Wagner, Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker Geoff Johns, Neil Gaiman…as much as I love these writers I think I’ve figured them out and I honestly don’t think they have many more literary tricks up their sleeves…but Bendis…Bendis never stops innovating the industry. Even when I read his work from the 90’s I find things that I’ve never seen replicated to this day that worked great. He’s the Leonardo Da Vinci of comics. On top of that I’ve honestly never read a bad story from him. He knows characters better then any other writer out there. I honestly don’t want to see anyone write Spider-Man again after he nailed it. If you follow hockey you’ll understand this metaphor, but he is the Wayne Gretzky of comics.

He comes from a very humble beginning as well. He originally got into the industry to be an artist. I honestly think he started writing just so he could draw his own books. He’s definitely a great artist, but he found his true calling when he started writing. He self produced so much of his own work for so long. He said after he finished his series, Jinx he had only made about $300 off of the whole thing. Marvel took a huge gamble on him when they gave him Spider-Man and Daredevil when he was still pretty much unknown. Now his arc on Daredevil is considered the greatest DD story ever and he now holds the record for longest creative team on a Marvel book for Ultimate Spider-Man with artist, Mark Bagley beating out the previous record set by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four. He launched the Ultimate line and he’s stuck with it all the way through. He’s now Marvel’s number one writer and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he runs the company one day because he basically has complete creative control over every major story that happens (Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Secret Origins, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, etc). Even though he’s a Marvel boy through and through he still does his multiple Eisner award winning series, Powers on the side. I mentioned in my comic’s blog that this is consistently the best comic I’ve ever read.

He’s mastered pacing which I can tell you from experience is the hardest thing to handle in comics. Conversations, action, and visual exposition are done perfectly. There are some issues of his books that can be read in 3 minutes and you’ll put it down and feel so satisfied, while other issues might take 25 minutes to read. I’ve also never had so many laugh out loud moments. Still to this day I think of a scene in The New Avengers when Luke cage gets knocked off of a sky scraper and has to take the elevator back up to get to the fight. While he’s in the elevator the music is playing, “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down, oh, no. I’ve got to keep on moving.” The whole time there’s a four frame sequence of Luke trying to mentally prepare himself for the fight. You probably have to see it, but it’s a great comedic moment in the middle of an epic fight. No other writer would try that in a comic or a novel because it would be so hard to make it work, but he somehow pulls it off brilliantly. He’s seriously the best writer out there and I strive every day to use him as the bar I want to get over, yet he’s not my number one…hmm.

Suggested reading:
-Fortune and Glory
-Total Sell Out
-Ultimate Spider-Man

1. Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith in my opinion may not be the greatest writer but I’m being sentimental here. He’s the first writer I would honestly say I had become a fan of growing up. It’s really hard to explain but to me he was the first person that I saw growing up who thought outside of the box. I honestly don’t remember where I first heard of him, but I rented Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy on the same day. 3 completely different movies that all connected with me on some profound level. At that time in my life all my work experience had been in the service industry so Clerks just felt so surreal. Mallrats tapped right into my nerdiness. Chasing Amy at the time was probably the most influential movie I had seen. I’m from a small town and homosexuality was something that not only was never discussed, but if the topic was brought up it was usually with disgust. Not everyone, but most people that I grew up around were pretty homophobic. Again, another part of my youth that just felt wrong and seeing Chasing Amy really made me feel vindicated. When you’re young it’s hard to really verbalize your feelings and it just felt like Kevin Smith spoke my feelings for me. He did it again with Dogma when he tackled a lot of the problems that I had with religion.

Smith has a great way of mixing inappropriate jokes while sending a message that very few writers have the ability to do so poignantly. He’s probably the reason I’m so comfortable with using curse words and making dirty jokes and at the same time feel so grounded morally. He was the guy that made me feel comfortable and not ashamed to have the thoughts that I have or to say the things that I say. As far as who I am as an individual I’ve probably been more influenced by him more than anyone else. This isn’t just in writing, but really in personality. I’ve been compared to him on an intellectual level and a physical one (not just the fat ass but mannerisms as well). I wouldn’t say I’m trying to emulate him, we just have a lot in common with the way we think. I’m sure I sound like a stalker saying this shit, but I see a lot of myself in him and I feel he is someone I would like to be like. A positive role model if you will.

Not only are his movies inspirational to me, but his blog has been a great read. He doesn’t do much on it anymore since he does a weekly podcast, but some of the stories have been great, especially the multi part story of Jason Mewes’ addiction to heroin and his road to recovery. A lot of his blog has been collected in a book called, Silent Bob Speaks. His comics have been great and it shows that he can do a lot more than just make movies. Lately he’s been dipping into TV and working on the show, Reaper which has been great. He’s the first person I can honestly say has been a hero to me and everything he’s been a part of has just been wonderful. Right now he’s the hero I’d really like to meet in my life, especially since I’m really starting to entertain this idea of being a real writer. I’m thinking it will happen and soon.

Suggested viewing:
-Chasing Amy
-Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
-Jersey Girl (It’s good you Affleck haters)
-Clerks II
-Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Suggested reading:
-Green Arrow: Quiver
-Daredevil: Guardian Devil
-Batman: Cacophony
-Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do

So there you have it. These are the people that have been the biggest inspiration to me when it comes to not only writing, but really who I am. Since I’ve been writing a lot more frequently it’s definitely been important to me to reflect on the people that really motivated me in the first place to try to be original and creative. Well I’ve got to get back to work on that being creative thing and I’ll see you in two weeks for my top 5 most valued possessions. I’ll still post some videos next week so still check up then. Let’s see some comments and some of your own top 5’s.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Top 5 Special Edition: Cool Internet Finds.

So I know I said last week that my top 5 for this week would be my top 5 favorite writers. Well the truth is that I don't have nearly as much spare time as I'd like to have and I'm currently doing a lot of research for the comic I'm working on. So more than likely I'll be doing my top 5 every other week. On the weeks that I don't do a real top 5 I'll still update with something that I think is funny. Kind of a mini top 5 of cool things I think people should check out. None of my long winded descriptions, just quick and to the point. So this week I'm going to do my top 5 cool internet finds. These aren't really the coolest things out there, just some things that I've seen recently that I think are pretty cool. Beware, there is a lot of language in some of these. Especially number 4.

5. Screwattack's Top 5 OMGWTF Moments In Gaming.

4. Gotta Do The Cooking By The Book

3. Broadway Calls- Back To Oregon

These guys are personal friends of mine so you should download their album on iTunes.

2. Mega 64-Sexy 64: 2 Sexy?

This is just really funny to me, probably not to you.

1. Bill O'Reilly Flips Out-Dance Remix

Why is it so easy to make fun of this guy?

Okay kids, I need to get back to my research and writing. I love you all. Hopefully I'll be back up to full swing next week for my top 5 favorite writers.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Top 5 Greatest Life Moments

Hello there, Interweb. A lot has been happening these last two weeks that I haven’t really had the time to just slow down and plant my ass in the easy chair long enough to do much more than some facebooking and 20 minutes of a movie before I had to go to sleep. I’ve also been fighting a cold this last week, so I’ve basically just been tired most evenings. Before we get into the top 5, let me give a little recap on some of the exciting things happening in my world.

First off, welcome, Matthew Mitchell Neilson, my new nephew to the world. He was a damn big baby and I would have to say is pretty cool. Second, I finally saw my favorite band, Bayside. They were everything I’d hoped they’d be and they left me wanting more. I also got to hang out with a lot of great friends that night, met the bass player, and was standing right next to Senses Fail’s lead singer, Buddy Nielsen, as he was looking for his wallet. Third, I got to hang out with a bunch of my other coastie friends a few times this last week and we had a much needed catch up session. And finally, I’ve started working on story concepts for the new writing job I got for Planet Blue Comics. They’re still looking for a few more people with art and writing talent so if you’re interested look for their post on Craig’s List.

So now onto this week’s top 5. This year started out pretty shitty for me. I’ll be completely honest when I say that basically 15 minutes after the new year started I was having a bad day that stuck with me for a few months. I felt like Charlie Brown with the rain cloud just hovering above my head. Things were already bad and everything just seemed determined to get worse. Now with the help of a few friends, some therapy, this blog, an endless amount of Diet Pepsi, and a few career breaks, things finally feel like they’re looking up, or at least starting to. Because of these things I’ve started reflecting on times in my life where I felt happy. I mean really on top of the world kind of happy. I’m sure if we think about it we all have those moments that really stand out. For most they probably consist of getting married, having a kid, or buying their first house. Well none of those things have happened to me…yet, but there are a few things I’m really proud of in my life that all these bad days have made me forget. In the words of, Say Anything, “I’m proud of my life and the things that I have done. Proud of myself and the loner I’ve become.” Get ready for my most emo blog yet. I might be more candid than most people would like, but I want to be as honest as possible. This week’s top 5 is dedicated to the moments of my life that I really felt like I achieved something, my top 5 greatest life moments.

5. Becoming Quan

So a lot of you probably have no idea what this means. Since I was ten years old I’ve attended a summer camp called, Camp Kiwanilong. I had a pretty stressful child hood (who didn’t?) and this place did a lot for me as a kid. This is one of the first places that really made me feel important growing up. I got made fun of a lot in school and my home life was pretty crazy at the time, so having a place I could go to for one week out of the summer to just get away from everything did so much for my mental health, and probably did a lot to establish my sense of morality and belief in the American dream. So when I had the chance to become a camp counselor there I jumped at the chance and took on the name, Quan, from, Jerry Maguire, which means (according to Cuba Gooding Jr’s character) love, money, respect, and community.

I had to spend two summers training to be a counselor. I took this more seriously than anything else in my life. Not everyone was going to make it and I really didn’t want to be one of the ones who didn’t get invited back. I remembered how great my counselors were and I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to be a role model (what happened, right?). So after two years of training I got invited back and spent the next 7 summers of my life devoted to giving kids the same experience I had, if not a better one. Time passed, I changed, the camp changed, people changed, but I will always love what that place meant to me. I still have every certificate, name tag, and picture.

After I graduated college I just couldn’t go back because I had to get a real job. The camp is also starting to seem more like, Camp Super Right Winged Kiwanilong, but I learned so much about myself from there that I could never really think badly of it, or not trust that it has the best intentions for the kids. I’ve even thought a lot about going back there after I become a teacher since I’ll have the summers off. Hell, I probably want to become a teacher because of that place. I’ve made so many friends from there, changed so many lives, and have had mine changed. I’ll always want to go back there.

4. Winning The English Department’s Award At Clatsop Community College

I have a big problem when it comes to school. I could never focus. Teachers thought that I had A.D.D growing up. In all honesty I probably do because I really have to be interested in something for me to actually focus on it. I didn’t really care about most subjects so I did pretty bad in school. Even the subjects I actually liked (like English) I did bad in because I never felt like I was really able to express myself in High School without getting negative criticism from teachers and peers. That’s probably why the only things I really excelled at were Drama and Music. I had an outlet to really create something. I always loved writing but I never had the ability to write about what I wanted to write about. Then came college.

I was one of those few people that went to college to actually learn something. I didn’t go to make friends (although I made some of my best ones there), I didn’t go to party, I didn’t go to get an even shittier job, and I didn’t go because it was the next thing to do after high school. I went because I really wanted to start learning what I actually wanted to learn. Aside from a few required classes I took nothing but English, Philosophy, Religion, Journalism, and Writing courses. I finally got to do what I wanted. So what did I do? I wrote an 18 page research paper on the mythological significance of comic book super heroes and an hour long presentation complete with handouts, documentary excerpts, and class participation. I won the English department’s award for my outstanding research. It took 19 years for me to win something based completely on my useless knowledge. I intend to make a career off of it.

On top of that award I also was getting for the first time real feed back on my creative writing. I actually received one of the best compliments ever. One instructor told me that she loved the way my dialogue flowed and that it reminded her of that Clerks guy. The Clerks guy is Kevin Smith, who is one of my idols. So to be 20 and compared to the person who warped my sense of humor is quite an honor. I also got exposed to journalism for the first time. Not what network news calls journalism (screw you, Fox News), but real journalism that is unbiased and actually does research to support its claims without spinning it into mental time bombs of fear and apathy. This eventually led me to focusing my education towards Speech Communication (basically sociology and journalism) and creative writing with a concentration in Pop Culture studies. I actually was asked if I wanted to teach an auditable class on comic books over the summer. If it weren’t for camp I probably would have done it.

3. The First Northwest Punks Show

My friends and I rock. My sophomore year at Clatsop was awesome. I often describe it as the best year of my life. Every song you ever heard about how great it is to be young basically happened that year. I made new friends, went on road trips, walked the streets at 3 in the morning, fell in love, ran from the cops (imagine me running), and basically lived my life like every day was a celebration. Every night was another story. During all this I had become friends with the band, Stop To Think, and through them I was introduced to the little music scene trying so hard to blossom in Clatsop County. I’ll always remember the first time I saw A Time Too Many, Countdown To Life, Alter Ego, and every other little band just trying to have fun in an industry that was all about making money. Over time all those bands started breaking up and the scene started dying pretty quick. The only shows that were happening were being put on by a douche bag that only liked death metal and was really just trying to make money. What were a bunch of punks to do?

I was off at camp for the summer and while I was gone a lot of drama happened between my crew and the moron that put on the shitty metal shows. It resulted in Jordan, Matt, Bucky, and Julie forming NW Punks. Of course once I got done with camp I was in with a few weeks to spare before the first show. We didn’t care about money. All we wanted to do was breath some life back into the scene and try to do some good while we were at it. We decided that after we recouped expenses, all the money from our shows was going to go to a different local charity, all while keeping ticket prices at $5 or lower. We were nervous for the first show especially when we saw the turn out. It was one of the biggest turnouts ever for a local show. I’m pretty sure we had over 300 people there which is saying a lot for a county that has about 15,000 people spread out over 30 miles, and for a group of 5 people to control. After we paid our rent for the space, the bands (at the time most bands weren’t even getting paid), and other expenses through advertising, we made over $700 for charity.

This started a fire. We started putting on a show at least once a month for almost 2 years. We adopted a highway, sponsored a child, sent kids to the summer camp I worked at, collected a whole bunch of toys and food, raised thousands of dollars for charity, and I became a member of the Grange Society to represent NW Punks. We established a reputation where we had people coming to us asking if we could put on shows for them. Bands came to us when they were looking to tour. The shows were practically planning themselves. For almost all of it I was living in Portland planning the shows through Mypsace, but eventually everyone followed. We tried to establish ourselves in Portland only to find that this place practically has a monopoly and they charge insane amounts of money just to rent a space for a night. So we’ve been inactive for the last 3 years. I’ve recently discovered a cool group that puts on shows for uber cheap out of houses, so you never know, NW Punks might be making a come back soon.

2. Graduating College

I think a lot of people in my life will deny it, but many people didn’t expect me to go to college, let alone graduate, let alone graduate as a member of an honor society. Like I said earlier, I sucked in high school. If I thought college was going to be anything like it I probably wouldn’t have gone. I went in there with the dream of being in comics, and I knew it would never happen without at least an education behind me. When I was younger I barely had any support in pursuing that dream. Hell, almost my entire family said it was a bad idea, most still do. I learned a long time ago that this world wasn’t designed with me in mind, so luckily I didn’t take any of that shit to seriously because if I can’t do what I want in life, I’ll gladly end it. I feel like graduating college was the first time I proved to a lot of people that I should be taken seriously.

My senior year of high school ended with my dad and I having a pretty big falling out, which resulted in us not really talking to or seeing each other for about 3 years. Even before that we barely got along after my parents got divorced when I was 10. I honestly think that the day I graduated was the first time I really remember my dad being proud of me. I think he was even more proud than I was. This also marked the first time my parents were in the same room without fighting since I was in grade school. It took until I was almost 23, but I finally had a semi normal family experience that I can actually remember. Aside from Darian’s wedding I don’t think I’ve had one since.

Life since college has been pretty disappointing. I wrote a whole blog about it if you haven’t read it yet. The sad thing is that most of my top moments are from when I was in college, so my graduation in many ways was me closing the book of awesomeness. I’m not saying the book can’t be reopened, and I actually think right now that it is, but I would give anything to put myself back into those shoes for a day. My day consisted of waking up, learning something, read some comics, learn something, write a paper, read comics, learn something, play video games, hang out with friends, get laid, go to bed, press repeat. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that’s paradise for me. Well next summer it’ll be back to school for me, so maybe I’ll get lucky.

1. Getting The Dark Horse Internship

Seriously, I nearly shit my pants when I got the interview so just imagine how I felt when I actually got the internship. Let me give you a few details about what first led me there. The summer before my senior year of college I had applied for the internship the way their website told me to with no response. I did it again in the winter with no response. In my film writing class I met someone who told me that one of the editors taught a few elective courses at Portland Community College. So like the little research journalist I was learning to be, I got on the old interweb and tracked her down through the school directory and started emailing the shit out of her until I got a response. I had one last quarter left of school, so I had nothing to lose. She finally got back to me with the email address of the editorial coordinator and the head of human resources. So I emailed the shit out of them, again with no response. During spring break I was on the coast working at Sam’s Café when my phone started ringing from an unknown number. On my break I checked my messages. The editorial coordinator wanted me to come in for an interview. I could be bear butt naked on a stage with millions in the audience and not be as nervous as I was at that moment. I drove up the next day for the interview. I got there an hour early and just walked around trying to relax. I went into the building and met Davey who interviewed me. I apparently nailed the interview because he took me on a tour of the place and introduced me to people as the new intern and after giving me my password he told me I started Monday.

When I got in the in the car the first thing I did was call my girlfriend at the time, then just about every number programmed in my phone. I then cranked up Matchbook Romance and screamed my lungs out all the way back to the coast. I went straight to the restaurant to tell my brother and coworkers. Just about everyone was ready to buy me a beer and give me a hug. Not only was it the greatest day of my life, but everyone was so proud of me. Just thinking about it right now is making me cry. I was taking the first step towards my life goal and everyone close to me not only was happy for me, but they really understood what it meant to me. People that I didn’t even know gave a shit were coming up to me to congratulate me and pat me on the back. For the first time my life wasn’t just a daydream. Everything I ever wanted was actually tangible. I could have died right then and have been happy because after a lifetime of so many people telling me I had a childish dream, life told me they were wrong. Most people don’t even get the chance to even formulate their life goals, I was living mine.

Every day was amazing there. I learned so much about the comic industry, met some really amazing people, got a huge discount at my comic store, got a lot of free stuff, set up some contacts, actually worked on real projects that were printed, and I worked my ass off and ended my internship with a perfect, 100% review going back to my internship mentor at PSU. I’m told to check back every couple of months too for possible openings because everyone there wants me back. Every time I go there to visit I still get a bunch of free stuff so I doubt that they’re lying to me. Now that I’m on with this new start up company, that dream is creeping its way back into my life. After the last 3 years of spinning my wheels I finally feel like I’m working towards my goals again. I’ve tried living life working other jobs and all I’ve got from it was depression and 50 more pounds.

If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that I need to follow my heart. It’s the only thing that’s got me anywhere in life. If you look at my top 5 it mostly consists of things that people tried to steer me away from or that people told me was childish and I couldn’t do. It was my fuck the world attitude that led me to happiness. When I conformed I found nothing of value, only pain. I’m not very religious, but I do believe we’re all here for a reason. I also think most people never fulfill their reason. We all have set backs and obstacles that deter us from completing what we should do. In life we either accept things or deflect things. From now on I’m making a commitment to deflect the things that stand in my way. Accepting those things we hate means we’ve lost control of our lives. This is my top 5 now but I plan on having a top 20 in the future of every great accomplishment.

So thanks for reading. I would love to hear everyone’s top 5. I sure hope everyone has one. If not, you should. Join me next week for my top 5 favorite writers. Kick some ass, people.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Top 5 Favorite TV Shows

Now I’m not a fan of the television. I hate laugh tracks, commercial breaks, censorship, political agendas of networks, reality TV, fake/sensational news, and having to abide by their schedule (thank the dodo for Hulu). There’s just so much about the idiot box that pisses me off. That’s why this top 5 is especially important. See, this week I’m doing my top 5 on my favorite TV shows. There are some gems on TV (past and present) that have done a great job of showing me that this is indeed a medium that is worth saving. Now 99% of the stuff on TV is crap and I’m sure most people when they think about it would agree, but that 1%...that little tiny 1% some how makes it all worth it. So here we go, my top 5 favorite TV shows.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I know what some of you are thinking. How can this teeny bopper show be on anyone’s list unless they were either 14 or retarded? Well I’ll admit, I thought the same thing until I actually watched it. When I thought of Buffy, all that came to my mind was the B movie from the early 90’s with Luke Perry (Ben Affleck was in it for a second too but he’s not credited). The cheerleader turned super hero just seemed really ridiculous to me, and I’m into some really ridiculous shit. I also have to say that I try to grasp onto whatever piece of masculinity I can because as it’s been brought to my attention many times before, I’m a huge pussy. So really, taking myself to the level where I will watch a show that seems to me to be an estrogen fest was a big leap. But another show on my top 5 motivated me to give this a try, and it turned me into a whole new kind of nerd that I never even knew existed.

So the title does a great job of explaining the premise. It’s about a girl named Buffy who fights vampires and other demons. It’s honestly pretty simple. I’ll admit that the first season (which is really only a half season) is a little slow and in my opinion kind of campy, but if you stick with it season 2 will take you on a roller coaster of love, betrayal, tragedy, and somehow humor. See, BTVS is a very tongue in cheek kind of show. Most of the time it’s not very serious and the dialogue is very witty. I personally think this is why when serious things happen on the show they have such a huge impact on the viewer. You really don’t see it coming because the show has such a light hearted feel to it…that is until season 4. In season 4 the bar really gets raised on the show and it takes a much more serious tone as the characters get older and have to put the high school years behind them. I’m not kidding, heads fucking roll. The show really grows up and during the sixth season it’s like watching a fantasy version of Trainspotting. It’s dark and you kind of feel sorry for/hate a lot of the characters. Then when we get into the final season we’re treated to a pretty epic conclusion of the show as all out war breaks out with the forces of evil.

The show has excellent character development with probably the best supporting cast of characters on network TV. Every character is amazing and it’s impossible for me to say who I like the most. I’m also a huge fan of shows where there’re women in powerful roles. Joss Whedon (creator of the show and uber nerd) is also a huge fan of that and just about every project he’s worked on features strong female characters as the lead. This goes all the way back to when he was the lead writer on Roseanne. I could go on all day about him, but this is about Buffy. Buffy also has a spin off show called, Angel. If I were doing a top 6 it would be on here. Both shows have a hugely successful comic line that takes place after the shows so you can still get your Buffy/Angel fix. They’re legit too because Joss Whedon works on both of them.

Seriously though, if you’re a fan of things that don’t suck, you need to take the time to watch Buffy. If you get through season 2 and you’re still not a fan, I seriously think there’s something wrong with you.

4. Entourage

So here’s another show I thought I would totally hate, but now quote like crazy. Seriously, it was described to me as, “It’s about this rich actor guy and his free loading friends.” Wow. That sounds awesome (insert sarcasm here). But you know what? It’s awesome. The best way to describe it is, it’s the male version of Sex and the City. I honestly don’t think there’s a better show out there that is really all about what it’s like to be a dude. Also the description of the show that was given to me was actually a little off. It’s not about a rich guy and his friends. It’s about the friends and the rich guy. Yes, they’re leaching off their friend, but really they’re trying to figure out what there place in the world is supposed to be.

Like Sex and the City, each character represents a different characteristic found in most guys. E is the smart and organized guy who’s looking for true love. Drama is the shallow burn out who has a confident exterior that hides a vulnerable inner child. Turtle is the pathetic, unattractive one of the group who in many ways is the most creative. Vinnie, the actor, is really what every guy wishes he was, the hugely successful, attractive guy who is able to breeze through life. Through these characters eyes we’re able to see the devil world that is Hollywood. We’re also treated with Jeremy Piven playing the role of Ari Gold, super agent of the stars. Seriously, you can watch the show just for him and be completely satisfied.

Aside from the psychology, when it comes down to it the show is just hilarious. I mean genuinely funny. The characters and the dialogue just feel so real and believable. I think it does a good job though because it’s a huge satire of the entertainment industry, complete with a celebrity cameo almost every episode. I think it’s also important to point out that Mark, “Marky Mark,” Wahlberg is an executive producer on the show. There’s speculation that a lot of the content of the show is based on some of his personal experiences in the industry. On top of all that, they make a freaking Aquaman movie directed by James Cameron in the show. That hits so many of my nerd buttons that it’s not even funny.

3. The Venture Brothers

What happens when a Hanna Barbara cartoon decides to go on a bender of booze and crack? You get The Venture Brothers. This show is basically the funniest show I’ve ever seen and it’ll only make sense to less than 1% of the people in the country. I think that’s what makes it such a good show though. It’s basically a big spoof on Johnny Quest. It’s about two half witted brothers, Hank and Dean, their pathetic father, Dr. Venture, and their mullet sporting, beef cake body guard, Brock Sampson. This team of adventurers basically travel the world every episode to find themselves in dangerous situations, much like in Johnny Quest, Scooby Doo, or any of those other great children’s shows. The main difference is that this show is definitely not for kids.

Villains such as The Monarch, Dr. Girlfriend, Phantom Limb, and Baron Underbheit are just a few of the ridiculous enemies of the Venture family. There are also parody characters of many superheroes. It’s so hard to explain this show to people who haven’t seen it. Again, probably one of the reasons it’s so great. It’s like the entire show is one big inside joke. Kind of like Robot Chicken in the sense that if you didn’t grow up with the stuff they’re making fun of you’ll have no idea what’s going on.

Honestly I’ve never had this hard of a time writing about something that I love so much. Seriously though, rent it because it rules. If any of my readers who have seen it can comment on their opinion of the show I’d greatly appreciate it. Maybe it’s just one of those things that’s so awesome words just can’t explain it. Yeah, I’ll cover up my inability to articulate my thoughts with that excuse.
2. Firefly

So I’ve said in the past that I’m a fan of science fiction in theory. It’s one of the requirements for being a nerd. The issue I usually have is that most sci-fi shows usually end up being terribly cliché with bad make up, porn caliber acting, and dialogue that sounds like it was written by somebody who’s never had a conversation before. Seriously, if dialogue on a show isn’t top notch I won’t even make it to the first commercial break (the main reason I’ve never seen a full episode of CSI. Seriously people, it sucks). So when people told me I needed to see Firefly I basically ignored them. I kept this up until Serenity came out in theaters. So I saw it with a few friends who had also never seen the show either. Why we decided to go to a movie based on a show we knew nothing about is still beyond me, but the point is we enjoyed it immensely. In fact, Serenity is on my top 5 favorite movies list. The sad thing is that I became extremely angry with myself. I should have listened to all those people that told me about the show. The anger was because the show was canceled after only half a season aired. I have this feeling of guilt, like if I was there from the beginning I could do something to prevent its fate, even though I know I couldn’t.

The show is basically a western in space. It takes place 2 years after a galactic civil war in which the independents lost to the alliance. The show follows independent war vet, Malcolm Reynolds, as he and his crew basically drift through the verse trying to be free. Meanwhile they pick up a few passengers who bring with them a lot of baggage. So while trying to harbor fugitives, a sheppard (priest in firefly lingo), and a companion (high class hooker), the crew of Serenity is basically forced to run from one troubled situation to another. It’s full of action, great special effects, witty dialogue, great characters, and not one stupid looking alien. Aliens ruin sci-fi. They’re only good for 2 things, Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk’s bedroom playmates.

So this show was created by Joss Whedon who I will go on record as saying he is the best writer when it comes to character development and I would say television in general. He knows how to develop long term story arcs that are intriguing and entertaining. Like I said earlier, this show opened me up to Buffy and Angel, as well as his work in comics with Fray. He also did a huge story arc of the X-Men, and a small arc on Runaways as well as overseeing and writing the Buffy and Angel comic series. He’s written many huge movies such as Toy Story, Titan A.E., and Alien: Resurrection. I do have to say though that his current project, Dollhouse, does not live up to his previous work. I’m trying really hard to get into that show, but right now it’ll be lucky to make a top 25 list. Like most great television shows, Firefly was canceled by Fox. Fox also canceled Family Guy, The Ben Stiller Show, Arrested Development, Futurama, Dark Angel, Greg The Bunny, Brisco County Jr, and Undeclared. All shows that were pretty damn good and better then most television ever will be. The lesson kids is that we don’t want to make a good show for Fox. Firefly still lives on with 2 comic mini series with more planned for the future.

1. Battlestar Galactica

I’m talking about the current series, not the 1978 one. I think it’s funny that I usually can’t stand sci-fi and my top 2 are sci-fi shows. As I’m writing this I have a friend upstairs who is currently getting hooked on this like an inner city kid on crack. I gave her the first disc today and just told her to see if she likes it. She’s now on disc 3. She loves it. I feel like a pusher. This show seriously is the bomb diggity though and regardless of whether or not you like sci-fi, you’ll like this show. The show basically has humanity spread out over 12 planetary colonies. They created artificial intelligence which they named Cylons that they used basically as slaves. The Cylons got sick of that and declared war on the humans. After a couple years of ass kicking an armistice was called and the Cylons left for deep space never to be seen from for 40 years. When they came back they nuked all 12 planets and basically destroyed humanity. The last Battlestar, Galactica, is charged with protecting the last few ships of refuges (totaling about 50,000 people) while they search for the fabled planet Earth.

The show has so many great things going for it. The writing is spot on and gritty, the plot is epic, the acting is amazing, the special effects are the best I’ve ever seen in a show, there’s a lot of social commentary, there is absolutely no gender bias (if anything it makes women look stronger then men), and the show was able to end on it’s own terms. They were able to basically tell the story the creators wanted to tell and finish it off without pressure from the studios. The ironic thing is before NBC/Universal/Sci-fi got a hold of it, it was licensed under Fox, which as I showed earlier would have probably led the show to cancellation. I think it’s so amazing that this show was able to have the life that it did because it is probably the darkest show I’ve really seen. I have friends with depression issues that have had to stop watching the show because it was really putting them in a bad place. That just goes to show you how well they portrayed the reality of what it would be like if you were basically the last of humanity being hunted down by machines.

I’ve had the great pleasure of viewing the final episodes with friends in a crowded theater with 600 other people. On March 20th we watched as the final 2 hour and 11 minute episode aired. It was sad to see such an amazing show end, but I feel they left it with a real sense of closure as well as giving a huge sense of hope and a foreshadowing of our possible future. The show is over with but there are still going to be projects in the future. There’s a movie that will be coming out in the fall called, The Plan, that takes place before the show and a spin off series taking place 40 something years before the series called, Caprica. I don’t think Caprica will be nearly as good but my hope is that the story leads up to the first cylon war. I have not met one person that has watched the first episode (Which is 3 hours) and not been in love with the show. I give you my guarantee that you will love it. So say we all.

So that’s my top 5 favorite TV shows. After writing it I’m in the mood to watch them all over again from the beginning. If only I had the time. Join me next week for my top 5 greatest life moments. It’s been a really good month for me and I really want to reflect on some great times in my life.


P.S. I posted this on my facebook page but I got my first writing job for a comic company called Planet Blue. They’re a start up company and I’ll be one of their first two writers. So, yay for me. Give me a few years and I’ll be running DC or Marvel. Just you wait and see. So thanks for all the people that supported me so far because this blog project was what got me motivated to write again. A super huge thank you to Lindsey Kaczmarski for sending me the link to the job posting and really pushing me to do it. You’re totally my hero and you reminded me to stay focused on my life goals. So in a few months you should hopefully see a real comic from me and I’ll actually have something to show for the last 25 years of being a nerd.