Hello Friend, it's 2014

Hmm, hello, it's been a while. I didn't mean for that to happen, I just haven't really been in a 'write an essay' type of mood. I mean, I started my birthday essay but only finished about half of it, the longer half as far as halves are concerned, and I just haven't been in the mood to finish it. I meant to write a year end essay to remember what I did for 2013 but that was mostly lay in bed, be kind of depressed, and be in moderate to massive amounts of pain over the year. And at some point move back to Reston and regress into more of a useless lump of flesh and bones. 

Being a depressing piece of shit aside, I wanted to have something a bit newer to greet people with. I've been drawing a little, I started a daily sketch book and corresponding tumblr. New link in the too. I've also been drawing a bit more than I was at the end of last year, click here and check out some things. i've made all type of big plans that I haven't followed through on because there's drive missing from my life. I read about this actually, not having anything more pressing to do is bad when you want to do things. I mean, I have no reason to realy create. I want to, but I have nothing driving me. I'm bad at this and it's all my fault. I've barely even finished reading a comic other than scans of manga I've read before. I'm mad about it because I'm in the middl of about 10 trades and there are about 5 or so new trades I want to buy, plus the books I bought months ago and haven't watched. I also need to hop on watching the DVD collection my brother gave me for Christmas, 20 Warner Oscar nominated films. The type of thing I love, and I've just been laying about all the time, barely leaving the house. Sometimes seeing friends.

I've written in the past that Reston is toxic to my existence, and my inability and non-desire to do anything right now is proof of that.Right now it's too easy for me to not do anything and to not be responsible, and I don't have it in me to be able to get up and give my days real meaning, and that sucks. I want to do things that make me a better person, a better artist and someone to be put on 'artists to look out for' lists, but I can't do that here and it's something that not everyone around me understands.  Reston is not a bad place, and I don't think I've ever said that. It's a bit boring and a bit sleepy at times but it's not a bad place. It's also not somewhere I can thrive or even exist, it's missing something for me to feed off of to be able to move on. I can be sleepy anywhere, but I'd rather be able to use my home as a respite from an energetic world than trying to make my home energetic, that's not the type of person i am. I'm introverted enough to be fine alone, but I need outside stimuli to remind me that there's something worth anything in life. 

God, and this was supposed to be cheery. Fuck. okay. The other day I posted an okay Adventure Time sketch on intstagram and Thuop van Orman gave it a like. That was pretty cool. Back in November I participated in an Improve Everywhere MP3 experiment, still waiting on them to edit that video and post it. And a preview from my hella belated birthday essay, I met Dean Haspiel at the Brooklyn Comic art Festival and he remembered me from when we met at SPX in 2012 and was excited when I offered him my mini.

There, something positive. 

Childhood Christmas

I've mentioned in the past being kind of bitter about family holidays. It's a more recent thing that I'll move past when I have a reason to be excited about them again, but I'm not down or anything like that right now, I'm kind of just reminiscing about what Christmas was like when I was a kid, and the things I learned about the 'behind the scenes' as I got older. 

I spent almost every childhood Christmas I can remember with my mom's family in New York. It was her parents, her sisters, our cousins then extended family sometimes, and family friends stopping by. But most often my grandparents, aunts and cousins. We'd leave out of Reston as soon as we could after the I got out of school on the last day before the holidays. Being younger than my brothers, we would have to wait for the end of elementary school or middle school depending. We'd stop by CVS to grab snacks and drinks before the drive. Trips to New York were always nice because we got to have snacks or candy we were't normally allowed to have. 

So, piled back into the car with presents around or on us, we'd say a prayer for safety as we'd get out on the sometimes snowy roads as our mom made the drive to New York. If it were still light enough, I'd read and try to listen to my own music instead of the Ten Sleepless Knights, Luther Vandross, or whatever MoTown tape my mom was playing. My brothers most often slept in the car, i'd sometimes sleep, but car sleep isn't that satisfying to me. 

As a kid the distance between Reston and Baltimore seemed to be forever. As an adult i can verify that it is friggin' forever to get to Baltimore. I knew we were in New Jersey because it smelled bad, and I often slept through Delaware. I loved being away on the GW, and but I can't remember which level I preferred to ride on, it was the opposite to the one my mom wanted to drive on into New York. We'd skirt the city and drive past the Bronx Zoo as we left whatever highway we were on to get to my grandparent's. It's now whatever o'clock, it's dark and we have to unload the car and not look into any of the numerous bags we were carrying because some of it was out own unwrapped Christmas gifts. 

We sit down to a dinner of White Castle or whatever food our grandmother had prepared. Shrimps and rice was a perennial favorite that I need to learn how to make... Mmm, shrimps and rice. It was always 'shrimps' and not 'shrimp'. it's how we spoke, but that's neither here nor there. Our mother would lay out on the floor or go upstairs and sleep, because she was an adult and did regular parent-adult things before having to drive 4+ hours through traffic and often weather with maybe coffee and a short nap break on the Jersey Turnpike. 

Let's say it's the 23rd when we got in. We'd watch cartoons or some weird movie with our grandfather after greeting whoever else was in the house and eventually we'd shuffle off to bed because sleeping in the car makes you tired. 

The next day there'd be a family breakfast, sausage and eggs, English muffins, or cereal, nothing too special, but easy enough to feed 8 people. It'd be more watching movies and stuff and looking at the tree. We'd judge the already wrapped gifts looking for ours and wondering who the other people were - most often work friends and like. My mom and my Aunt Cheryl would be cooped up in the master bedroom wrapping gifts. They'd call us up to take wrapped presents back downstairs throughout the day and help us wrap our gifts for each other. We'd also be used to wrap gifts for out grandparents and sometimes carried down gifts 'from Santa' in the middle of the evening on Christmas Eve. That's a thing we all did and laughed about it. 

We'd be forced to go to bed and my mom and aunt would stay up half the night wrapping gifts. Seriously, they'd be up until 4 wrapping gifts for about 20 different family members, godparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, neighbors. It went on. The thing about them wrapping gifts in a one day marathon like this, and i guess it started in the early evening not during the day - is that they'd forget who gifts were for, and they'd end up unwrapping gifts to see what it was and who it was for, before wrapping it again. They did this many, many times, which I now find hilarious.  They worked so hard though.

We kids would wake up around 7 and go downstairs and look at the presents. Then we'd turn on the TV because we knew certain death would happen if we tried to wake the old folks up to open gifts at 7am. And we'd wait. Our grandmother was one of the first adults to wake up after my brothers and I were up. Eventually my mom and aunt would stagger downstairs, beat and tired but pleasant and cheerful. We'd be waiting on our grandfather who seemed to never get downstairs until 11 to open gifts and we'd start opening toys, clothes, books, candy, trinkets, jewelry and whatever else was given to us. We'd clean up and start opening things while breakfast was made. It was often pancakes, or Mickey Mouse pancakes which were always more special. 

In the afternoon my other aunt would show up with her daughter and granddaughter and we'd do Christmas again with them, before dinner. Dinner was always like Thanksgiving dinner, or maybe Thanksgiving Lite. But homemade honey-baked ham is delicious, so is turkey and everything else so there were no complaints. 

For the rest of the trip we'd see other cousins and great aunts and people twice removed and whatever. Once we saw the Rockette's Christmas show, i don't remember it too well, I was young. I do remember it ending with them snowing in the theater. One of my first experiences with dry ice, so that's cool. 

I was talking with my aunt about how little sleep she gets and she brought up what Christmas used to be like. Having to buy so much stuff for so many kids and the wrapping marathon and mistakes. They're good memories, and i'm glad I was able to spend Christmas so many years like that. I'm enjoying the stripped down Christmas that I've spent these past few years with my brothers, but in a way, I also look forward to being involved in a big family Christmas where new and weird traditions start. I look forward to really being engaged in the holidays. Today feels much like any other day in my life, I woke up, read some comics, looked at tumblr and made breakfast. it'd be different if I were on a vacation from work, or if I worked in general. It'd also be different if it were cold and snowed. I guess 38 is cold, but it's still not the same, and I'm someone who hates snow. 

i dunno. Hug somebody, enjoy the people around you. Something something compassion and words. i don't know how I want to end this, you think of something heartfelt. I'm going to go back to reading comics.

Comic Talk: Black Lightning: Year One- Jen Van Meter & Cully Hamner

I knew nothing about Black Lightning before DC released an animation short featuring Black Lightning's daughters needing to go to school, and he's fighting something but needs to get home to get his girls off to school. I saw it and thought "DC's trying to develop a black hero? Fantastic!" and wanted to know more about him. 

I don't remember why I chose this book. I like the Year One concept because it introduces new readers to a world without the weight of decades of back story, and villains that stretch forever and bog everything down. They're usually a one off, contained narrative, you know stories will continue but you don't need to know anything to be able to enjoy what you're reading. They do the job, they tread familiar ground for established fans but are easy for new potential fans to get into. 

But what I like. I like that as a hero Black Lightning has a family. So many heroes are alone with so little to live for or a real thing to fight and protect. Superman focuses on Lois and the Daily Planet. Spider-man on Aunt May, Gwen or MJ, and the Daily Bugle. Batman is on his own and maybe Robin sometimes? Iron Man fights for Pepper, but so many heroes are single bachelors, or dating or married without families to care about.

 At his core, Jefferson Pierce is a family man. He has a loving mother, wife and daughter, a hard but caring sister, her kind of deadbeat husband. There are people who know who he is, what he's doing and they care just as much as he does. They understand he has a power that can be put to so much good and in this book they do as much as they can to help him and to not end up as targets of the wrath of the 100. 

I like that he's written not as a stereotype. He's a solid family man (currently, I guess a divorce happens after the second daughter is born, but he retains custody later on), educated an educator, and a successful athlete. He speaks proper English and not some insulting lesser English. He was and athlete and pushed himself because he knew no other way to deal with the electrical build up in his body. It's not explained in this book where his powers come from, according to wikipedia, in Year One he's a metahuman and he just does. In other continuities he has a device that creates the electrical energy. (I do judge a little because he's a black dude with electricity powers (were they just used as a way/excuse to 'light' dark skin in  shadows in comics?---nah)).  He proves himself to be a valuable and good person as a positive local role model as he, as Jefferson Pierce, works to fix the Metropolis Southside after it was attacked by The 100, a gang that had a crazy magic-villain leader. 

He comes into town as a positive role model, he's working to improve the lives of these people, partially because of person guilt of 'abandoning' the town but also because he wants better for his students than their high school prostitution or gang lifestyle. He wants to prove to them that they're worth the effort and the energy and that they can do something good with their lives.  

I like that when Clark Kent shows up to figure out who Black Lightning, and later one to help, that the book doesn't become about him showing up to save the day or being super integral to everything. The old-world magic in the 100 is too toxic for his kyrptonian body and his powers are diminished, so the book is really about improving a community from the inside. I like how the bigger story is an overarching positive way to fixing something broken, not just by bringing in new resources but working to strengthen it from inside and giving people the hope and belief that they can live better lives.

I did get a little lost while reading the book. Every issue in the 6 issue mini that make up the book is narrated by a different character, his wife, a clean cop he knows, Pierce himself and Clark Kent all lend their opinions and observations of the situation. Those get confusing because they're one overarching idea for the 22 pages of the issues, but the panels are interspersed with the current dialogue. As I was reading I just stumbled over the dialogue versus the 'voice over' because both were important, but they're both being read so I'd read from one VO sentence into a dialogue sentence and would just get turned around.  I don't know if it was me or the comic being a little ambition with having that much go on. I don't read heroes that often, but I can't think of too many modern comics that have that type of 'this is how I saw the situation' type of thing going on. It's better than older comics where there's a giant caption box explaining the art in the panel.

On Cully's Art.  

I was originally not into it. It might just have been the thing of settling into a design because art evolves every time you pick up a pencil. It shifts, improves, changes. Maybe I just got used to the style for the book. I love the designs of everyone. I love how Black Lightnings costume functions and how simple it is. His true Hero costume may be kevlar and other armor but it's a tee shirt, leather jacket, jeans and stylized fold-down boots. The bottom half of the costume feels very early comics and is on the skin -tight side, but the idea of the costume is good. It's realistic clothing, and I like that the mask is connected to a wig so his identity is really concealed. I also like how it's presented to him. He starts out running around in a hoodie and jeans. When he admits his nightlife to his family they present him with his new Hero Armor. They're in on it, they're supportive, it's great.

As a black comics reader, even though I might not identify with many presentation of black characters in media, I did like seeing a world populated with different types of black people. Each was a character, each had ones and desires. It may be the 'bad' side of town, or the 'black' side of town, but the motivations that many characters had for what they were doing were apparently, the negative roads the kids were heading down were a product of the only things they saw. But design wise, there's more than one type of black person, in hair style, in fashion style.  

It's just such a good book. Give it a read, I was excited to pick it up every time I had the chance. It touched on a not often explored part of the DCU, and it shows that Dc can be not horrible to black characters. It shows a world realistically populated with important male and female characters who do good for the story. I think that both Jen and Cully did wonderful jobs and I'd love to read more of their interpretation of this character. I'd also love to see more of the DC animations done of Black Lightning, I hope he gets his own show, it's be boss. The black DC characters I know of who are have been in cartoons are Cyborg (I only know him from Teen Titans), Static Shock, but Black Lightning as a DCAU show could be another positive black hero, but also an adult and not just another child doing things. 

Webseries Talk: EastSiders (2012-2013)

Spoilers, blah blah blah - EastSiders is also ongoing, but I have seen the first 6 episodes (everything that's been released so far) -- All episodes on LogoTV - sorry but I think it's location locked. 

EastSiders is about morality, emotions, relationships and is a fantastic drama. I'd call it a soap opera, but it's big, expansive and over played, it's small and about emotional hurt and pain. Gay couple Cal and Thom start having trouble after Cal learns that Thom has been cheating on him. Cal's best female friend Kathy is in a relationship with Ian and they’re having rocky times because Cathy seems to be reticent to depend on Ian, but Ian seems to be the type to lasso the moon for her.

The show starts the morning after an End of the World party that friends of Cal and Thom were throwing December 2012.  Cal has learned that Thom had been cheating and confronted him about it. As an audience we're dropped right into drama as Cal and Thom decide to stay together after Thom's deception has been found out and he breaks it off with Jeremy, his piece on the side. 

At first, you're rooting for Cal who is the one who was wronged in this relationship, but it becomes more than that as the show progresses and these characters become more than Cheater/Cheated-on/Cheated-With. Little is known as of episode 6 of Jeremy other than he can't give up either Cal or Thom.

But wait, Cal was cheated on by Thom with Jeremy but they now know one another. When deciding to meet the man he hates, Cal ends up drinking with Jeremy as they discuss Thom and while inebriated they fool around together. This makes things more complex then Cal being the wronged party, he has not wronged Thom and admits to hating himself and Jeremy.

Cal is conflicted, he’s now not a victim of cheating, but now a cheater with the same man he was his lover cheated on him with. Cal wants to see himself as being the morally correct party and holds himself to that standard of the hurt party in the relationship. Cal wants to stay with Thom out of spite, they’ve both been wrong and wronged so he feels justified that he and Thom ought to stay together with their personal injuries. Not too long later, while at work in an art space, while having a celebratory drink with his boss, Cal kisses him which leads to them sleeping together. This is after Cal has expressed immense joy over someone buying one of his prints and exclaiming “Someone on the Internet likes me.” This shows how little Cal likes himself as he seeks out men other than his boyfriend for validation. He’s conflicted and he falls from being a ‘good person’ to being a more complex and wrong person as the series progresses. He seems to sleep with people then push them out of his mind, as if thinking that if they don’t acknowledge what happened then it didn’t happen and there’s nothing to be responsible for.  After sleeping with Jeremy instead of addressing the ramifications of his actions, Cal runs away. After sleeping with his boss, who Cal only just learns is married, Cal runs away instead of facing the reality that he cheated on Thom again. Cal seems to have issues with engaging and actively fixing problems that are his fault. When Thom is the one who is wrong Cal is very gung-ho about making Thom feel bad about cheating on him, and feeling bad about his place in life. When Cal is the one who wrongs Thom he does what he can to avoid addressing the problems either by drinking or helping Kathy with her problems. Cal seems to be open to cheating on Thom when drinking, but also seems embarrassed and likes to pretend he's done nothing wrong. He's already expressed a dislike of himself, so maybe he's just trying to feel like someone wants, or needs him. As Cal explores and questions Thom’s commitment to their relationship, Kathy, Cal's best friend plays out long dramas in her head, reaching conclusions without all the facts and doesn't take her boyfriend's feelings to heart as much as she should.

The night of the End of the World party is near Kathy and Ian’s anniversary, he tries to be a good boyfriend by giving her a gift, which happens to be a ring. In Cathy’s inebriation she believes he’s proposing to her and spends the next day (or so) thinking she’s engaged to be married. She plays out the drama, the risks and rewards of being married in her head and to Cal instead of talking to Ian and getting a straight answer. This is cleared up and not long later Kathy realizes she’s pregnant and does the same thing of going to Cal instead of Ian to discuss her future plans. Ian as far as he’s be characterized, is a good guy. He seems to be kind, compassionate, a good friend, he tries to be a good boyfriend, so it’s difficult to see why Cathy is to reticent to go to him when she has a problem.

I’m thinking Kathy is afraid of a lot more than they ever lets on to, at least to Ian if not all of her friends. She expresses fear about she can’t be getting married and why she shouldn’t be having a baby, but she never seems to discuss this with Ian. I think she’s afraid of losing him so she wants to keep him at a steady distance, either to keep from getting to attached so she can cut and run, or she’s afraid he’s going to break it off and she’ll be subjected to more pain. What she does makes me feel really bad for Ian, he hasn’t been shown to be anything other than devoted and honest, so her dishonesty and how she jumps to conclusions in her fear is really unfair. Kathy decides to abort the baby she would have had with Ian and never tells him, he finds out in the worst way they he could have been a father, but the joy he expressed for a hot minute at this thought seems to crash that much harder after he learns that there was never a discussion with him. She might have still come to the same conclusion, but at least he could have known.

 I think her choice to get an abortion is handled in a respectful manner. She's reticent before the procedure and unlike her cavalier to introspective emotional arc when she's drinking and making the decision with Cal, then she's despondent after the procedure. Seeing another woman say she's keeping her baby, Kathy seems like she regrets the decision, and this is something I like about the show. I like how the show plays out how the decision weighs on Kathy and her uncertainty after it's all over. It's not an easy decision and I'm sure many women think long and hard about it, either way after getting one and if they decide not to get one. It's not played as if after the procedure that Kathy feels at peace with everything and confident, she's still uncertain and afraid of the adult world facing her. She's afraid of seeing Ian and then telling him what she decided to so.  She acts like she's always confident and competent, but she's afraid. This by no means makes her a weak character, but it shows how conflicted she is and how difficult life is. She dives head first into her mistakes then fearfully addressing the problems of her actions while recovering after (literally in this instance).

With Cal having started kind of morally as a protagonist in the show not much is currently known about Thom. He's a bartender, he cheated on Cal but regrets it. He's called a bad guy and characterized in the series by mutual acquaintances as a 'bad guy' but so far he's tried to be upstanding. After breaking things off with Jeremy he avoids his calls and texts, spending more time at work or with Cal to prove that he's a changed man. Jeremy is still acting very much the interloper, by going to both Cal and Jeremy's workplaces to try to maintain contact with two people who have decided they want nothing to do with him. Jeremy seems to be obsessed with this, maybe because they were his most recent partners, or their life drama is that alluring that Jeremy can't quit them, he keeps trying to make a place in their story. I'm not sure what Jeremy's MO is, he has expressed enjoyment of both Cal and Thom, when talking with a friend about it Jeremy doesn't know what he wants or what he expects by attempting to continue any sort of relationship with either. 

I look forward to the new episodes every Tuesday, posted at 3pm EST. I like that I can't really predict how the characters are going to act, I can kind of guess what's going to happen but it doesn't feel like I  can see the dots ahead while connecting them to get to the conclusion. I have a few possible conclusions, but nothing feels set in stone, I look forward to seeing how everything either comes together or falls apart. The entire show is about shifting morality and how characters actions change who they are and what their worth is. I don't know what I want to have happen, I don't know who I want to end up happy in the end and who deserves to get their comeuppance.

 I like how realistic things are being handled, that these stories are plausible, have probably happened (maybe not all at once in the same friend circle), but I like how the connections and how people interact is the important thing. How and why people hurt each other, it's greater than sexuality. This is a story about people and failure, and possibly redemption, it depends on how open ended it is. 

Correction: I spelled 'Kathy' incorrectly and have fixed it

Making Things on the YouTubes

I'm still super broke, so if you want to buy a commission from me, check out my last post and help. I'm also looking for a job. That's not what I wanted to talk about. 

One: i have a weird way with words, mostly for my own entertainment. I like words and language and finding an odd way to sting ideas together. Yesterday I was talking about grim-dark, gritty movies and described them as people eating concrete. Just a weird image that kind of makes sense if you just accept it for what it is. I've wanted to do a video on my weird use of words I just need to collect some concrete (no pun intended) examples of my abnormal writing structure (and speaking structure???) for that video. 

Two) I've been making videos on the daily for April. I'll say I haven't missed a day, I have been late, but things were always filmed on time. Rendering is time consuming. There's this thing called Vlog Every Day April, VEDA, and I decided to partake in the experiment. I have met two new internet bros from doing this, that was cool, and it gave me something to look forward to doing every day of my recent unemploymentness and moving back home. I'm glad I spent the time on those videos, i haven't been drawing too much recently, a few different reasons for  not picking up the pencil. I want, right now even, but i'm so fucking tired, even writing this is difficult. I think I was drifting while writing a job application not too long ago. Bot words and language. There are a few other topics I wanted to cover, but I think I have a strong collection of videos. I'm open about myself, I guess, in a way it's a laundry list of facts about me, but how I shared them tells more and tells a different story than what I shared. I might make a video about that. Today's video is one big editing project, so hopefully that will go smoothly and won't be too hair pulling. Editing a video all day and some job applications. 

Thrice) Yesh I know, shut up. I'm tired. I need a job. I posted my resume on Monster and I've gotten a few robo-recruiter emails, but I'm still going to apply to these companies. I'm not doing anything with my time and that needs to change. I think if I get a job by mid May, when my first loan bills roll in in June I shouldn't be as bad off with having to pay those back if I'm making some money. I think pride has been a bit of a problem for me, but I feel as if I didn't go through 5.5 years of school to earn a degree to get a job in fast food or retail. There are bigger things for me and my life and I still think being in Reston is the biggest hurdle for me between living a life I want to live and stagnating. I have applied for jobs in the area, but I have my sights set on west. There's one I applied for in Ohio I'd go for, drop of a hat. One I'm going to look at in Texas tomorrow and that's as far west as I've gotten. Not California, but more importantly, not Reston.

To my ODU broes and party peeps, congrats on finishing this semester. I know there are a few more days of finals, but I believe in you, you're so fucking close you're going to be fine.

This is a sharpie thing I did on Friday - I was actually really surprised when I added the music and it fell in line with the images immediately. My first abstraction on canvas. There's a photo of the final here I think it's the bee's knees. 

I'm not here and words are barely letters and sounds in my brain. Good night, I'll be places on the Internet in the morning, and maybe somewhere in real life. I need to get out of the house. Maybe Panera. It's no Borjo but it's not my bedroom either.