What It Is: 9/20/10

What I’m reading: The Iliad and about 500 pages of Jaime Hernandez’ Locas comics.

What I’m listening to: Not much of anything, sad to say.

What I’m watching: Not much of anything, sad to say.

What I’m drinking: Bluecoat & Q-Tonic

What Rufus & Otis are up to: A Sunday grey-hike, demolishing new squeaky-toys, and not getting used to their new beds.

Where I’m going: New Brunswick, for Contracting & Outsourcing 2010!

What I’m happy about: Getting called up for an aliya during Yom Kippur services and not embarrassing myself. Although I can’t remember if I started the blessing with “barchoo” or “baruch” . . .

What I’m sad about: Not being able to cajole my dad into coming along for any of the high holiday services besides his annual prayer for his departed parents’ souls. Also, that I’ll never dress as well as Brad.

What I’m worried about: Getting most of my October issue together before our conference starts Wednesday night. Gotta transcribe two interviews, start writing another story, and lay out the rest of the articles and columns in the next two-and-a-half days.

What I’m pondering: Whether Jaime Hernandez’ comics had a downturn or “treading water” phase in his career. I’m not in love with the Ti-Girls story he recently did, but I respect it as a working-through of his longtime love for superhero comics. Reading his stuff from 1984-1999, as I did this weekend, I’m inclined to think that he’s been on an upward trajectory pretty much since Love & Rockets debuted in 1981, which means he’s been getting better for nearly 30 consecutive years. The most recent issue, as I mentioned last week, was mind-blowingly good. I was worried that the melodrama qualities of some of the story, with their native emotional hooks, were magnifying the overall intensity of his work, but there was so much more going on in those stories, so much economy in the writing and art, and so much intelligence expected of the reader, that I’m still floored by it.

What I Love and What I Don’t Like

I had a sort of crappy end-of-day at work. I tend to internalize my frustration and play out phantom conversations endlessly. This tendency gets exacerbated by the fact that I don’t talk to friends very much. I drive home from work, IM with my wife for a few minutes to find out how she’s doing and see when she expects to get home from work, then take the dogs for a walk usually about half an hour or so.

Rufus & Otis are great, but their conversation skills are lacking, so I tend to keep talking silently to myself and letting these frustrations fester. The weather’s so lovely this evening that I it would sooth my soul, but I kept slipping back into little tirades. I should’ve called one of my old pals, but it’s just not in my nature anymore. Don’t know when that changed.

got in and fed them, checked work e-mail and some other work-related stuff, which only fuels my nonsense. Then I decided to go downstairs to my library sprawl out on the couch, and read the new issue of Love & Rockets. And that’s when I got out of myself. Jaime Hernandez’ stories in the new book flat-out transported me. The moment young Perla saw the girl-mechanic on the parade float, I had a grin from ear to ear. My heart was broken after the story of her brother. I lost myself in his amazing storytelling, and I’m thankful for that.

Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 by The Hernandez Brothers - Jaime detail
(I also may be the last reader of theirs to realize that Beto Hernandez is this generation’s Russ Meyer.)

In other news, Barking, a new Underworld record, came out yesterday. I love a lot of their music, but I’m just befuddled by this new stuff. I gather they used outside producers for the first time, and the result is really . . . pedestrian. Which is a funny term to apply to dance music, but there it is. It’s almost like reading a serial comic book with a new creative team that fails to Get It.

To me, Underworld’s best music is like having drug-crazed nanobots devouring the language and motion sections of your brain, so that words don’t really make sense and you’re possessed with an urge to dance/thrash. This new record, on the other hand, has a lot of shimmery keys, banal disco beats and sensical lyrics.

Worst of all, the decision was made to have Karl Hyde sing, despite the fact that he doesn’t have much of a singing voice. Oh, and there’s a ballad. Except it’s not absurd/surreal, like Good Morning Cockerel, a song from their previous album, Oblivion With Bells, about which I’m rather ambivalent. I’ll give this one another try or two, but it’s a very disappointing record.

So that’s a little of what’s going on. I also spend a lot of time thinking about Achilles and Odysseus in The Iliad.

Funny books

During the height of the finance boom, I was able to get paid $375 per hour — and a minimum of three hours — by investment groups that wanted my advice about pharmaceutical facility acquisitions. I knew then that banks were going to implode. After all, people responsible for hundreds of millions — if not billions — in investments concluded I was an expert worth paying for advice? And that my advice was worth taking? The center could not hold.

I’m glad that I lead a relatively inextravagant lifestyle, because I managed to spend around $300 in little more than an hour at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival today. Sadly, I actually budgeted that amount before heading into NYC for the event.

The damage, in chronological order:

1. Lincoln Tunnel toll: $8

2. One-day admission: $12

3. Jaime Hernandez illustration of Maggie Chascarillo (the 7th Jaime illustration I now own): $100

4. Fantagraphics Books table: $90 (with tax)

5. Picturebox table: $25

6. Top Shelf table: $6

7. Drawn & Quarterly table: $50 (with in-show discount)

8. Barbecue turkey burger at Pete’s Tavern: $11 w/tip

9. Parking: $13 w/tip

Grand Total: $315 in a little more than an hour.

So, um, if you know any investment groups that need advice on facility acquisitions, send ’em my way!

Because you’re all clamoring for it, here’s the Jaime drawing I bought.


You can view all 7 of my Jaime illos over here.

And a couple of pix from MoCCA are over here.

What It Is: 9/14/09

What I’m reading: This note about the 400th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Loew inspired me to re-read Introducing Kafka (mainly for R. Crumb’s drawings & strips). I also read Locas II, a huge collection of Jaime Hernandez’s comics. Occasionally I forget how wonderful it is to live in an era when artists like Xaime are doing such fantastic work (and making great illustrations).

What I’m listening to: A great B.S. Report podcast with Patton Oswalt, and an okay one with Bill Hader.

What I’m watching: The Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2009 induction ceremony, in which I learned that John Stockton can be kinda funny, Vivian Stringer had a tough life, Jerry Sloan has enormous hands, and Michael Jordan cannot handle retirement. Also watched a ton of NFL, and the Vandy-LSU game.

What I’m drinking: Cascade Mountain & Q Tonic.

What Rufus is up to: Meeting a ton of greyhounds at the annual grey-picnic in Bridgewater, NJ on Sunday. Pictures to come. (Here’s one from my wife!)

Where I’m going: No plans! Got any ideas?

What I’m happy about: Writing those Gary Panter & Gillian Welch posts last week.

What I’m sad about: Norman Borlaug’s death. He did have a full life, reaching 95 years and saving countless lives, but still.

What I’m worried about: Not my conference next week. At least, not as much as past years. We’ve already taken care of a lot of the things that usually get taken care of late in the game — the USB drives are much better than last year, for example — and our attendee count is surprisingly good, esp. given the economy. I’m sure something crazy will happen that throws everything askew, but I’m less nerve-wracked about things. Now I just gotta hope all 11 speakers actually show up for their sessions.

What I’m pondering: Whether I’m too old to start a band called Umvelt of the Dog.

Locas & Locos

Anyone who’s read Jaime Hernandez’s Locas comics in Love & Rockets knows that the men take a back seat to the women in the cast. Ray D. is pretty much the only male character who jumps to mind when I try to recall men who demonstrate even half the depth of Jaime’s women.

Still, I’ve been hoping for a while now to compliment my three Jaime Hernandez drawings of Maggie & Hopey, Terry Downe and Penny Century with a trio of drawings of Jaime’s guys.

Comic-Con International in San Diego represents the best opportunity to do this, since Jaime and his brother Gilbert bring binders of drawings to sell at their signing sessions. But I haven’t been out to the Con since 2005; my wife didn’t have a great time when I dragged her to it that year, although now that she learned Ray Bradbury was in attendance at this past Con, she’s full of regret. So maybe next year. I guess I won’t ask her to wear the Princess Leia costume this time. (No, that’s not her.)

It’s my good fortune to have an all-around great pal who is obligated to cover the Con. I asked my Comics Reporter pal Tom to keep an eye out when Jaime was doing his signing/drawing sale sessions. A few days after the Con, I received a UPS package that looked like it was mauled by the company’s new cadre of package-sorting grizzly bears.

Tom, expecting this sort of abuse, did a fantastic job with the internal packaging, so I’m now the proud owner of three Jaime drawings of Rand Race, Doyle, and the beaten-down Ray Dominguez! Time to trim (slightly) and frame ’em!

I’ve posted all six of my Jaime scans to flickr, so just click through Penny Century for the whole set!

What it is: 4/14/08

What I’m reading: Locas, by Jaime Hernandez. Just feeling sentimental for Maggie & Hopey, I guess.

What I’m listening to: She and Him, Vol. 1, but not getting into it.

What I’m watching: A marathon of The Deadliest Catch, in preparation for the premier of the new season.

What I’m drinking: Guinness Extra Stout (bottled)

What I’m happy about: That Starbucks’ new Pike Place roast isn’t anywhere near as offensive as its old coffee. I mean, I still wouldn’t choose to stand on line behind a bunch of people ordering orange mocha frappuccinos, but at least I know that if I DO have to go to a Starbucks, at least I’ll be able to get a decent black coffee. Oh, and here’s an article on their retro mermaid logo. This is not a mermaid.

What I’m sad about: That DirecTV’s installer messed up the installation of my new dish, so a bunch of my HD channels are badly digitizing/artifacting. Now I gotta work at home today so they can get someone out here to realign it. But it’ll be pretty sweet to have all those extra HD channels.

What I’m pondering: Why LeBron James is getting so much MVP consideration, given that his team is barely over .500 in a terrible conference.