3.29.2007

Apparently - and I didn't know this until today - you can actually catch The Gay from listening to certain types of music.

Yeah, I know. It took me by surprise as well.

I am in an office today, consulting on a music-related web software gig, and a guy here - a graphic artist chap with an apparently (and abhorrently) strong opinion about music - decided to pick up "the new guy's iPod" and thumb through it a bit.

Now, I'm not an employee, so I'm not really "the new guy" - but even if I was, picking up "the new guy's" iPod without so much as introducing yourself is pretty rude. Dickish, even. Nevertheless, he did. And it didn't much surprise me; I've been listening to this guy go on and on about nonsense for a week now - I was hoping to avoid meeting him entirely, as my role on this thing stops in about 4 weeks, and I am actually quite adept at hiding out and avoiding people when I need to be.

Alas, I failed this time. And much to my chagrin, being available and owning an iPod in public put me in the unfortunate position of enduring this sloghead's bullshit.

"Dude..." said the 34 year old teenager covered in annoying tattoos (seriously... who the FUCK gets a tattoo of Tony the Tiger??? HE'S A CEREAL MASCOT, not a permanent decoration for your forearm).

"What?" I replied.

"U2? Shelby Lynne? Emmylou Harris???" He said, clicking through the music in my Artist list.

"Yeah?" I replied.

"Totally gay," he answered.

Apparently, certain music carries with it the Homofaggot B virus. Who knew?

So I sneezed on him.

No shit. I just felt one coming on, so I unleashed at his pant leg. I didn't even bother trying to cover my mouth.

If he can be an ass, so can I.

3.27.2007

Since I have the luxury of working on things from home sometimes, and since today is a beautiful, temperate day (somewhat common in Georgia, but still very much cherished when compared to the broiling 90 degree days we have lying in wait for us a mere month or so from now), and since the wind is a slight 1-3 mph from the east, I thought today might be a nice day to work outside.

There's just one problem:

The pollen.

I sat down at one of the little umbrella'd tables at the new Starbucks up the road from my house (not the one I usually go to, where cars tend to crash through picture windows and managers run down deliquents and tackle them in the parking lot). I was working on stuff for about two minutes when I noticed that my screen was a bit dusty. So I wiped it off.

About four minutes later, same thing.

And again four minutes after that.

I decided "screw this, I'm going inside." I began packing up, and when I went to pick up my little travel 4" x 6" Wacom tablet, I saw this:





That's Georgia pollen for you.

Today, the pollen count is 5,028. That means that there are 5,028 pollen particles per cubic meter of air in the Atlanta area.

To give a little contrast, anything over 120 is considered "Dangerously High."



Everything in our city is yellow. You can watch clouds of pollen blow across the road. People who drive dark-colored cars look like they're advertising for Stanley Tools or McDonalds with the amount of yellow that covers their cars.

It can be difficult to breathe during this time in GA - and I don't even have any allergies! It's just that there is SO much crap in the air... It's like trying to breathe deeply in a room where construction people have been cutting drywall, or like taking a deep breath where the bad kids had to bang the chalkboard erasers outside.

Nasty.

3.24.2007

I am now Twittering.

If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, it's essentially an update service that will take my updates and send them to you via IM or SMS. The update size is capped at 160 characters, so it's meant for micro-messages - think of it as blogging every few hours (or, for some people who are extremely addicted to it, every few minutes), and the blog entry comes to you instead of you having to go to it.

Yeah, I know. It sounds kinda iffy. But it's actually really cool.

It's kinda like this: imagine calling a friend when you're bored to see what they're up to. "Hey, whatcha doing?" you ask.

"Oh, not much," they reply. "Just writing a story."

Now, imagine you didn't call them. And imagine that you didn't ask "Hey, whatcha doing?" (or rather, you didn't ask THIS TIME, but based on the fact that you signed up with twitter and followed them, you asked once and assumed it would span the time until you both decide to part ways).

That's Twitter.

I dig it.

As for what I plan to actually post to my Twitter, it'll be much like this journal thing. You never know. It could be a little microstory about an insane happening taking place in front of me, or it could be an update saying that there's a new story on MI. Or, it could just be a random picture for no reason.

If getting little life updates from me sounds cool to you, feel free to join up and follow me. After you sign up, just go to my twitter page and click "follow". Voila, instant JoeNotes via web and SMS.

Of course, there's more to twitter than just me (thank god, or else no one would ever use it). You can get BBC headlines, updates from your other twitter contacts, fark headlines, digg updates, etc. So it's actually neat.

I think so, anyway.

3.23.2007

Friday = Bagel & Lox day.

I like Bagels and I like Lox. So the combination of the two is naturally a delicious and wonderful treat.

I felt you should know this. Everyone deserves to know what I think.

3.22.2007

I think the very first thing most people notice about me is that I'm friggin' huge.

I'm 6' 3", somewhere between 275 lbs and 290 lbs depending on the day and how much sweet tea I've had to drink. Despite this, however, most people don't really see me as weighing in at near NFL Lineman status... They see me as being about 240 or 250. I hide my weight well... Except that I hide it in places that still make me look fat. But that's fine.

The reason I bring this up is because, upon noticing my size, most people admit that at some point or another - at least initially - they are intimidated by me, physically.

Now, within 45 seconds of striking up a conversation with me, it won't matter how much bigger you might have thought I was or how strong I might be, you're usually put at ease by the fact that I am a complete and utter buffoon. I try my best to make at least one joke within the first sentence I share with anyone I meet for the first time, and this usually makes people cool and at peace with me.

Unless you've somehow pissed me off in traffic. Then, my first sentence shared with you usually contains multiple conjugations of the word "Fuck," manipulated in such a way that the past, present, perfect-present and future tense of the noun, verb, participle, prepositional and adjective versions of that word all make some sort of appearance before the first full-stop punctuation mark (usually an exclamation point).

Case in point - my commute into the city this morning.

I was driving along merrily at about 55 miles an hour, singing along to instrumental music by heavyweights Explosions in the Sky (I make up my own words), when without warning, a woman decided to pull out of the emergency lane - from a full stop - and into my lane, with about, oh, 10 car lengths distance between us.

Now, 10 car lengths sounds like a lot. But when you're doing 55 and they're doing slightly better than 0, it disappears REALLY fast - so fast, in fact, that you cannot make a full stop before hitting the other person without drastically swerving into another lane or suddenly enabling your VTOL engines and flying over the fucker.

I only have the base, factory-stock model of my particular make of truck, so I don't have those. I opted to swerve into the emergency lane instead.

When my heart was able to be swallowed back down out of my throat, I unlocked my jaw and took a deep breath to find that the fucking retarded lady had swerved BACK into the emergency lane ahead of me. She got out of her car and began marching back to my truck, yelling and screaming something about watching out for traffic and whatnot.

Now, I just cannot understand how a woman would find it to be a good idea to get out of her car in a major city and approach a large truck with a man driving behind the wheel, especially after being a fucking idiot like she was. But she did. And so, I got out of the car and verbally let her have it with both barrels.

I got into my third instance of my favorite word, somehow turning it into a pronoun, when she panicked, turned and headed back to her car. I kinda smirked, feeling proud of myself for defending my NOT SLAMMING INTO THE BACK OF HER CAR pretty successfully. I don't like to yell, and I especially don't like to yell at women, but yelling at women who just pulled a bonehead move and then have the unmitigated gall to get out of their vehicle and blame ME? Well... That's just the sort of thing I actually do enjoy yelling about.

I noticed she was getting on the phone as I pulled out of the emergency lane and onto the highway, but I only took that notice because I was turning to flip her off. I didn't really pay much mind to who it was she may have been calling or why - seeing a woman on a cellphone in a car in Atlanta isn't exactly that notable an event. But maybe I should have thought about it a second... If I had, I might have exited way earlier and stopped for a coffee, or perhaps turned into my sister's office complex and visited for a moment... Anything to get the fuck off the road, because there was really only one reason why she'd hop immediately on the phone after I'd verbally accosted her.

Bitch called the cops.

So, I'm no more than 100 yards from my destination exit when I get pulled over by an Atlanta police officer. She'd taken my licence number, reported me for attempting to run her off the road and physically threatening her, and added that I may have had a weapon in my hand.

These are not the sorts of things that the police will just let you explain your way out of. Not to say I didn't try... But it did no good.

So my morning was spent dealing with what ended up being three Atlanta Police Department cops, one Fulton County Sheriff, one Georgia State Patrol officer and a rather angry project manager who wasn't too thrilled about my being about 4 hours late for a meeting this morning. But hey, on the bright side, I got to visit the pokey.

I got right out after explaining the entire thing with absolutely no rebuttal from the woman who failed to answer her cellphone through four separate attempts to reach her. The charges were dropped almost immediately and I was sent on my way.

I asked them for her cell number, but they wouldn't give it to me. They did, however, laugh at my version of the story when I told it. They didn't find me threatening at all. But then again, we weren't actually in traffic when we met.

3.16.2007

So, I'm stuck in a Best Western in Moultrie, GA - about 40 miles north of the FL border. I can't really sleep, so I'm surfing the channels on the hotel's cable-enabled TV, and lo, what do I find waiting in the wings, ready to fill me with entertainment?

The Spirit Television Network.

Now, I'm no stranger to christian-based television - I do, after all, live in GA, and it's everywhere. But this Spirit Television Network thing was a new find - a brand new christian music video network.

Now, watching this network for any longer than, say, 30 seconds takes a decision to do so. You might be a bit confused when you first stuble on it, but after half a minute, you're pretty clear that you're watching Christian Music Videos, for several reasons:

1) The music sucks.
2) The people look extremely hollow and whitewashed
3) The production quality of both the music and the videos is really, really awful
4) The music sucks
5) They say "Praise Him" and "The Lamb" about a dozen times every half minute
6) The music really, really sucks

But I just had to watch. I couldn't help but lock my mind on this network for about 45 minutes, evaluating each and every video, trying to find the little subplots the pathetic little director was trying to embed in a song called "Rock and Foundation" featuring Mike Staggs and his Christian Cohorts.

Somewhere around the 40 minute mark, something kinda hit me (other than the "seriously lacking musical talent of any kind" thing):

Having done some video work, I know two things to be absolutely true:

1) videos cost money
2) music videos cost more money than regular videos

And then, digging just a tad bit deeper in my mind to recall a time when I attempted to record an album with a local punk/hardcore band, I remembered this:

1) Recording an album costs money

Finally, remembering just a few minutes ago that I'd spent somewhere around $12.00 to download a few tracks off of AllOfMp3.com, I remembered this little nugget:

1) Buying albums costs money


So, I hopped up and grabbed my trusty laptop and did just a bit of digging:


Christian album sales in 2006: 44.9 Million
Christian album sales in 2005: 43.5 Million
Percent Change: +3.4

(source: CBS MarketWatch)

The market rose for Christian album sales in 2006 by 3.4%. Assuming a price point of $14.00 per album (CD's fluctuate between $9.99 and $21.99 nationwide, so I'm just taking the middle of the road), that's about $628,600,000 in 2006, up from $609,000,000 in 2005. A $19,000,000 increase in revenue generation for the Christian music market.

Awesome for them.

Now, let's add to this:

Christian dollars spent making the 627 brand new Christian records that hit the market in 2006 (assuming a VERY low cost of about $50,000 per new record introduced - recording time, studio time, engineer time, manufacturing and tooth bleach cost money): $314,500,000

Christian dollars spent on Christian music videos for Christian music artists (with perfectly white Christian teeth, ironically hip Christian clothing and mid-to-high-level Christian musical instruments at a budget cost of, oh, $10,000 per music video - which is INSANELY low - assuming one single per new record introduced in 2006): $6,270,000


That gives us a crudely calculated total amount of $946,245,000 Christian dollars spent on audibly praising Jesus (and subsequently proving to music theorists everywhere that Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles truly were the only two blind people who could actually make good music).

Now, having realized that nearly a billion dollars - Billion, with a 'b' - was spent on Jesus songs, I'd like to remind you of one other statistic:


Homeless people in the United States in 2005: 744,313
Homeless people in the United States at the end of 2006: More than that.

(Source: endhomelessness.org)

Now, I could have picked any demographic of needy, deserving people. I picked homeless people because they're easy... They're everywhere. It's impossible to be in any major city and not see or become aware of at least one every single day. You don't have to seek them out. You just have to be around a bit and one will show up eventually... Unlike Christian albums, which you do have to dig around a bit to find one to put your money into.

Given this, I decided to pick a relatively easy metric to prove a relatively glaring point:

Number of meals purchased from the McDonalds Dollar Value Menu that could have been purchased for each of these hungry homeless folks with the combined $946,245,000 Christian dollars spent extolling the name and vitues of the son of God through glitzy, polished, heavily marketed, pre-packaged, utterly musically challenged albums: 946,245,000


And I'm only dealing in album sales. I'm not considering DVD sales, concert promotions / costs, material goods (shirts, hats, whatever).

That's just albums.

And let me make it very, very clear: I don't CARE that people spend their money on entertainment. I don't care that people spend thier money on entertainment in lieu of spending it on homeless people or hungry people or spaying cats or whatever. I don't care if people actively spend money on water guns and fill them with bleach and go out and squirt homeless people with them instead of just spending money on feeding and housing them.

What upsets the shit out of me is the out-and-out bullshit these ridiculous whitewashed Christian puritans try to pass off as authentic, saying that secular entertainment is evil, while Christian music - music which praises Jesus and his teachings which accounted for over 600 million dollars in record sales and over 900 million dollars spent last year that could have gone to actually promoting the core of Jesus's teachings - is holy. All because instead of singing about something else like da' club or bringing sexy back, they say "Praise Him" and "You are my rock" about 200 times during the chorus, refrain AND bridge.

At least when I spend $60.00 on "Grand Theft Auto 6 - KillWhoresWithAChainsawLand", I'm honest about it.
Well, this is pathetic.

I was listening to NWA's "Straight Outta Compton," right?

Then, the phone rang. I answer and immediately become engrossed in a great conversation with a good friend of mine. We talk for about 40 minutes, after which time, I look at my iTunes playlist and see this:




Natalie Imbruglia and Natasha Bedingfield, back to back... In MY playlist. That's what I get for a) downloading songs for my wife and b) not paying attention as it plays straight through good stuff and into... That.

But you know what? I'll admit it... I have a soft spot for twing pop. I'm a total pop queen here. So I didn't even skip past Torn and Unwritten. Make fun if you want... I feel the rain on my skin. No one else can feel it for me.

Oh, and also, I accepted an offer from Gotham / Penguin Books for MI2 (Still Mentally Incontinent) today. So, there's that.

Yes, no shit.

3.14.2007

I can't go into specifics, but there's something kinda big happening to the MI world.

It won't really affect anyone except me... And really, to readers, there won't be anything truly noticably different if (when) it happens. But it greatly effects things for MI2 and, if there is to be one, MI3.

The MI you know and love / hate, is about to change.


More as it comes.

3.12.2007

Fears are strange things.

I know it's kind of an odd thing to say; asserting that fears are strange. Of course they're strange. If they weren't strange, they wouldn't have unexplainable (or at least uncontrollable) effects on us. And that part, I know. I'm not actually speaking directly to the emotional response fear generates within us.

I'm actually speaking more to the things by which we are frightened.

Now, again, I'm not talking about the normal, everyday scary shit you think of as being scary shit. A loaded gun being pointed at you, an elevator cable snapping while you're 34 stories up, spiders, dwarves, clowns, Ellen DeGeneres... These are known quantities. They're scary things. They creep us out when we think of them. I'm actually talking about those fucked up, unexplainable, strange as hell fears that some people exhibit.

I met a guy today who has a fear - and I'm not making this up - of getting hit by passing airplanes.

Yes, I also thought the guy was just fucking with me when he ducked and hid his eyes when the second airplane passed overhead... But no. His colleages assured me, this is a real, no kidding phobia. He refuses to walk to restaurants at lunch - in fact, he just plain refuses to be outside.

The guy is literally scared a chunk of a passing 747 is going to land on him, a la Bloom County. It doesn't affect him when he's driving or indoors - only when he's outside.

And that's even more curious - why stay in Atlanta of all places if that is your fear? Why stay in the nation's most heavily-trafficed airspace? There's at least one plane in the sky at all times inside the perimeter of the city of Atlanta. There is literally never a safe moment for this man at any point of his workday. He lives in the city and he works in the city.

I guess I have a pretty wierd fear, actually. Well, honestly, I don't know if it's a fear or if it's just a thing that grosses me the hell out, but I have bad dreams featuring parasites living under my skin. Things like worms or grubs or beetles, with their hind-quarters sticking out of my skin.

The thought of fleas or ticks don't bother me. You just, you know... Pick them off or take a bath or don't be a filthy fucking pig and you're fine. It's the internal, sub-dermal ones that make me shutter. Not even a tapeworm grosses me out (no, I don't want to have one... I just don't shutter when I think of it).

It's stories like the ones you heard growing up about the lady with the bee-hive haircut who never washed her hair. One day, they found a nest of beetles living in her scalp. Not ON her scalp, but IN her scalp.

Urban legend? Yep. Gross as fucking hell? Double yep.

Give me snakes or a gun in the face anyday - I don't mind. Just don't put a damn burrowing worm anywhere near my skin, or I'll freak out and break your... Thing. That you care about a whole lot. That you got for christmas from your mom like 10 years ago.

What, you thought I would hit you? Hell no. I'd be too busy shuddering and crying like a baby.

3.11.2007

It's opening weekend for the brand new "Comovie" '300.'

Everyone who knows me has found time to write, call or IM me and ask what I think about it. And I find this very, very odd, because of everyone I know, only about two of them had any idea there was a story called '300' before they heard the movie was coming out, and that it was another one of "that Sin City guy's movies, so yeah, I'll see it."

And yes, on past movies of this nature - movies derived from licences in the comic book world - I'd have seen it at midnight on opening day, excited beyond belief to see yet another story or character or concept I cared a great deal about throughout the years get a budget and some time dedicated to it.

But for this one... I dunno. Something's different.

It's not different in the realm of the movie or the comic themselves this time around. This time, something inside of me has kinda snapped. It's been a long time coming... It's not a new wrinkle in my brain or anything. It's just that this particular movie has kind of forced the issue for me.

When I was growing up, I knew a bunch of kids who were into a bunch of things. I had musician friends, painter friends, writer friends, acting friends, photographer friends... All nerds, the lot of us. We were all teased in varying degrees of severity by my jock 'friends' - the guys who had more muscle mass (or at the very least testosterone) than sense (I only call them 'friends' because I'm not near a thesaurus at the moment, so I can't find another word to describe a collective group of people identified by a group of traits who did not beat my ass as a kid. If you didn't beat my ass, you were instantly a 'friend').

And among ALL of the people I knew, only three others were into comic books and graphic novels. Now, that's not to say we were an elite group of people who knew things that the others didn't. Comics aren't an especially exclusive medium for people to enjoy and appreciate. Just the opposite, in fact - it's only in the past, say, 15 years that comics have even had an adult demographic who would indulge in them.

I believe it was Neil Gaiman (it may have been Will Eisner or Dave Sim) who said you can write words and its considered 'literature,' and you can draw pictures and it can be considered 'art', but when you combine the two, people look at it as a child's medium. And when I was growing up, that's exactly what these people thought of me - I was a big child for reading "funnybooks." Even the artists I'd surrounded myself with in High School looked down on this art form - they never respected me for wanting to write and draw comics. It was a lesser art form. It had no respect for indulging in a medium I adored... One that, arguably, required double or triple the talents of any one of the other disciplines by it's very nature. You had to be able to draw AND write... And sometimes paint.

But then, the deluge of films began.

It really started with Tim Burton's Batman (I don't count Superman, simply because Superman existed in so many varying forms before the Christopher Reeve movies - TV shows, newspaper strips, comics, etc. - And I know that Batman did, too, but the Batman Tim Burton made was based almost entirely on the reconstructed Batman created by Frank Miller in "Batman - Year One" and "The Dark Night Returns" - He wasn't the grey-and-yellow Adam West Batman with campy "POW!" and "ZOOM!" graphics. He was dark and rough, which made him a direct translation of the graphic novel... Wow, this is a long aside).

After Batman, there were suddenly people wearing these shirts and hats and shoes with the logo of a comic character. Like, REGULAR people. Non-nerds. Cool kids.

He wasn't "ours" anymore.

But that was a fluke, right? It didn't last long. Eventually, they returned to their Bugle Boy jeans or whatever and left the comics world back to us misfits among misfits. Batman fell back into the folds of the comic book nerds and all was alright again. A few other movies were attempted, but none broke out into the mainstream the way Batman did... Not for a while, anyway.

But there was the cartoons. The Tick. X-men Adventures. The New Legion of Justice. The New Avengers. Wolverine.

The ironically cool kids came back around to these long-lost properties and began to discuss them again. The Tick was being quoted all over the damn place... But you ask anyone who was quoting if they ever read the original Ben Edlund stuff, and the answer was absolutely the same each and every time: "Who?"

And then, the X-men Movie came out. And Spiderman. And Daredevil. And Fantastic Four. And The Hulk. And League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And people watched.

Now, this is not the point here - I'm not upset that comic properties went "mainstream" or whatever - I personally feel that anything that might lead to people working their way "backward" from the film and into the original source material meant that more people would discover what I'd known for so long - comics ROCK. They're a fantastic medium for telling a story, and there's quite a collection of material out there that appeals to both the young AND adult audience.

But that's not what happened. These films were enjoyed, and the characters lauded... And a few comic books were sold, but still, the medium of comics - the originators of this material they just went on and on and on about, were still kid's stuff.

So then, the nowhere-near-childish stuff arrived in theaters. "A History of Violence" came out. And Sin City. And now, 300.

And there are people who are eagerly looking forward to each and every one of these releases - and they're NOT checking backward to see where it all came from. Sure, some of them are buying the collected works in Barnes & Noble, but they aren't exploring backward from there. They're not tracing this material out. They're buying it much they same way they buy a program at a Broadway play or a hockey game. It's a souvenir of the movie.

And even THAT doesn't upset me. I don't care that these people are too lazy to research the material they profess to love.

No.

What upsets me is that the very people who have spent YEARS ridiculing me for loving comics and the medium of comics are now eager and excited about every single release based on those things they made fun of. They're going nuts over the idea of a new Sin City. They can't wait to see this "venom" guy in Spiderman 3. They think the rendering of the Silver Surfer in the new Fantastic Four looks COOL AS FUCK.

Musicians. Film guys. Painters. Even the jocks. They are calling me, emailing me and IM'ing me asking me if I've seen a movie they've been so stoked about and enjoyed so much that is based on a comic book (well, one of six) that they literally pointed at WHILE I WAS READING IT and called "kid's stuff."

For some reason, because it has 70 million dollars behind it, has a soundtrack incorporating some of Trent Reznor's older stuff (and don't even get me started on THAT), and has made the leap to film, it's respectable. Nevermind that the story you just paid $9.95 to watch move in front of you was told 10 years ago in a format that incorporated painting and expressive dialogue, written for adults specifically.

No. It has to be projected from a lamp in the back of a theater to be respected.

So, all of that being said, I'm really finding it hard to motivate myself to go and see the film. And that sucks - I was so excited about its arrival. I really wanted to see what they'd do with Lynn Varney's visuals and Frank Miller's story. But that desire has kind of faded from me... I can't truly explain why much more than I have in this insanely long post. But I feel like some sort of breaking point has been reached inside me.

Maybe I just need a stiff drink and a massage or something.

3.06.2007

Since leaving FarkTV in late February (on good terms - No drama here, just doing new stuff with my time), I've been writing. Writing is something that I haven't really had time to do since, oh... October of 2006. And it's very, very strange to see what's been coming out of me since I've been crafting new stories.

Mostly because they all suck. Like, worse than before.

It's interesting... Writing is not like riding a bike or swimming - you don't just jump back into it with the ability to do it. And that's something that's been somewhat frustrating for me - I can't actually get a cognisant thought about an event in my life (or even in the fictional characters' lives in the novels I've been working on since, oh, I was about nine).

But it's coming along. And really, it has no choice but to come along, because there's something in the air right now that could potentially force me to finish MI2 by November.

That's somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 stories in 200 days. I can do it.

Anyway, just wanted you all to know that a) I'm back, b) I'm writing and c) I am really bad at it right now, but d) I'm working on getting better. And there is no e).