Hungry hungry hamster cloud

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Hamster cloud!, originally uploaded by abstract visionsound.

Ah, the fotofone works at last. And to prove it, a rat-shaped cloud.

I love clouds.

Before Sunrise

Daydream, delusion, limousine, eyelash
Oh baby with your pretty face
Drop a tear in my wineglass
Look at those big eyes
See what you mean to me
Sweet-cakes and milkshakes
I’m delusion angel
I’m fantasy parade
I want you to know what I think
Don’t want you to guess anymore
You have no idea where I came from
We have no idea where we’re going
Latched in life
Like branches in a river
Flowing downstream
Caught in the current
I’ll carry you
You’ll carry me
That’s how it could be
Don’t you know me?
Don’t you know me by now?

I Can See Your House From Here, v. 2.02

(Originally published at, Summer, 2001)

Another big week has come and gone – another convention under the belt, another page recorded in the history books. Was it fun? Sure. Was it a lot of work? You’re damn right – I dream one day of going to a convention with nothing but play on my mind. Was it a learning experience? Of course. Why else would I bring it all up?

There’s a fine line between being a famous name and another Joe. I was really surprised to run into a few people who were familiar with my name, most notably from my days as an HZG (if you need that explained – tough. I’m trying my best to forget that I ever labored for that particular batch of folks). It was really odd to find myself in conversation with a group of – I had assumed – regular folk, and for someone to suddenly say, “Hey – now I know where you’re from – I used to read your reviews every week!”

It turned weird here, every time. We stopped talking about things that we had in common, and started talking about my work. There were plenty of compliments, which, admittedly, were nice, but I quickly found myself getting uncomfortable. Maybe I don’t handle compliments well; I think, though, that I just didn’t want the focus of the conversation to shift to me as suddenly as it did.

It made me feel a little bad for the guys I had been approaching all weekend – the Judd Winicks, the Carmine Infantinos, the Christian Gossetts. I had done my best to let these guys know what sort of an impact their work has had on me, but when it came time to make normal conversation, I was at a loss.

Now, I’m not a star-struck kind of guy. I’ve met a billion “famous” people, and I learned a long time ago that they are just like you and me – the only difference is that they have jobs as creators that puts them in the public spotlight. But I discovered that, beyond the compliments and comments on their work, I have very little to say to them, no common ground.

That said (and its really no big deal, as once I’ve said what I have to say, I walk away), it was really embarrassing to watch what some of these guys had to put up with. There were some amazing moments that bordered on traumatic car wrecks; watching a thirteen-year-old (or worse, a thirty year old) fanboy grill a creator on his or her work is positively frightening. The details that these people know and ask about are so tiny, so ridiculous, that it hurts. It’s even worse to watch a writer or artist try desperately to move along politely – of course they don’t want to shut anyone out. Of course they are grateful for the attention – after all, these people have helped put them where they are. Still, it’s painful to witness.

It made me start to reconsider my dreams of fame. I don’t know that I can completely give them up; I have a deep-seated desire to be recognized and adored. Most of us do. However, I wonder if we have the patience and sympathy to put up with the results of fame, to pay the price, as it were.

Don’t get me wrong. I still resent Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain, the way that they incessantly bitched and moaned about the price of fame. It’s much the same as listening to a football player complain about injuries; none of this should be a surprise. It’s part of the job. Perhaps, though, I understand them a little better.

It’s probably not a bad idea to try to understand the same thing next time you’re hitting up your favorite celebrity as they eat dinner in a restaurant, or wait in line at the grocery store. It’s one thing to compliment someone on their work; it’s another to geek out and congratulate them to embarrassment.

I Can See Your House From Here, v. 2.01

(Originally published at, 2001)

Congressional hearings on the evils of a form of entertainment. Medical professionals commenting on the downward trends among youth, and pointing at pop culture as the cause. Parents scrambling to protect their young and innocent puppies from the horrors available for less than the price of a grass cutting.

Rock and roll? Movies? Television? Nope – think further back, almost 50 years, in fact, to 1954: Dr. Frederick Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent and the resultant Comics Code Authority. According to Wertham, “Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic industry,” and since this is the US Government we’re talking about here, a psychologist with half a box of crayons was given full credibility. The comic book industry – at the time focusing more on romance, science fiction, westerns, and horror than the super-heroes of today – was forced to create a self-regulating commission in order to avoid being shut down altogether. The result was a bunch of watered down stories, numbers of publishers closing up shop, and the near end of comic books.

Jump forward to today, and Marvel Comics’ recent decision to abandon the Comics Code stamp altogether in favor of a self-regulating code. For reasons that I can’t quite wrap my brain around, other companies have decried the move, although the announcement was greeted with rousing cries of apathy from the general public. Why the big fuss?

Frankly, I don’t get it. I’ve always been aware of the little stamp that appeared on the covers of all the Marvel and DC books. You’ve probably seen it – go back and check back issues. Casual readers (and parents, most importantly), are probably not even aware of it. Of course, this is where the problem comes in.

Were the average parent to pick up a comic for their young child (and by young, I mean under 12, or of the mental / emotional age that parental guidance is still needed), would they notice if the Code stamp were not there? Would they even know what it stands for if they saw it? Somehow, I doubt it. For instance, take a look at the pictures below:

Which one doesn’t have the stamp? That’s right – Spawn #1, one of the all-time best-selling comics. And while there’s nothing particularly adult about the comic (and that may be the understatement of the week on many levels), there are some concepts in there that parents might not want their kids reading about (say, the topic of the hero being a soldier of Hell�.).

All that said, the stamp itself has become largely meaningless over the years, nothing more than a meaningless habit. For some examples, look at the provisions of the original Code:

“Policemen, judges, government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”

Personally, I can’t name any comics with dirty cops. Oh, wait – yes I can. And then there was DC’s Vigilante – who just happened to be a judge when he wasn’t a costumed – er, vigilante. Order in the court, indeed.

“Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be permitted in the advertising of any product in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.”


“All characters shall be depicted in dress reasonably acceptable to society.”

You hear that, Wonder Woman?

“Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly nor
as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.”

So – evil is not cool, right? Being rich and powerful like the Kingpin – nah. Being U.S. President, like Lex Luthor? What kid could possibly want to emulate that?

Oh, wait – my favorite:
“Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.”


Marvel’s proposition is to actually put the contents on the front of the book, like so:

Which, frankly, makes a hell of a lot more sense to me. Parents can now more easily identify what they do and don’t want their kids reading, or at least what things they need to talk to their kids about before the book gets sealed away in Mylar. Store owners can be forewarned as to which books need to be placed on higher shelves, out of the reach of the little ones.

And I’ll finally know which titles will satisfy my lust for blood and graphic sex, feeding my fantasies and plans for the future. But don’t worry – I plan on blaming it all on Archie – Comics Code and all.

A dream

There is a dream I have yet to dream.

The sunlight creeps lazily through the cracks in the blinds, fitting for a Sunday morning. I sit, back to the wall, comfortable on the floor to watch her dreaming fitfully in the amber dusky dawn. She is a painting stolen from childhood dreams, dreams of hope, hopeless dreamer I was.

And now she is here, stirring before me, trusting me to watch over her as she dozes, my first, last, and every thought.

She rises, gliding from point to point as she moves about her day. She stops to kiss me gently on the lips, to run her hands playfully through my hair, to touch my hand. She is unconscious of how radiant she is, of how my heart sometimes forgets to beat and my lungs forget to draw air when I am with her, of how much she means to me.

And she pauses, by the bedstand, in front of a picture of us. And she smiles, forgetting my presence for a moment to think of me. And she sees the note I wrote her as she slept, picks is up, unfolds it, reads the dream that I never dreamt but lived instead. She is silent, motionless, but when she finally does turn toward my seating place, I see a small solitary tear running down her cheek. She smiles, moved by my words and my eyes and the way they drink her in, and whispers.

I love you.