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 CafĂ© 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.