3.31.2009

Help Andrea kick the $#!+ out of cancer


TL;DR? Here's the direct link to Andrea's donation page for Team in Training.



Some, if not most, of you know that for a bunch of years now, Andrea and I have been involved with Team in Training, the world's first, best and largest charity sports training program. Basically, you go out and raise money by putting your body on the line in events like adventure races, marathons, 100-mile century bike rides and triathlons... Things that hurt. They're fun for you to watch, because we end up in pain and that's always funny. At least, that's what everyone who buys my books says.

Last year, we took a hiatus. I was busy trying to be a pro football player, and Andrea was spending 80 hours a week saving dogs and cats from horrendous conditions all around the country. But late last year, we got some news that kinda shook us a bit.

An old friend of mine (Farker Unfreakable)'s wife, contracted breast cancer.

While Team in Training is linked up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and doesn't directly deal with breast cancer, this news really woke us up. Andrea still felt that we'd slacked too much. So she signed up for the Saint Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg, FL and is running it in honor of Unfreakable's wife. And she needs your help.

Andrea in one of her bazillion marathons


So far, we've raised about $2000.00 of the $3100.00 goal to participate in the event. So we're turning to the interwebs to ask for your donations. No amount is too small - any and all amounts donated go right toward kicking the hell out of Cancer. We support the LLS and Team in Training because it is bar none the highest donation-to-cause ratio charity out there. And since TNT's inception, the survival rate of lymphoma and other blood cancers has skyrocketed. We've met some terrific people through this program, and have lost some terrific people in our lives to lymphoma and leukemia, so it's a cause we believe in heavily.

Whether you can donate or not, if you have someone in your life that has battled cancer and you would like a ribbon with their name attached to Andrea's jersey during the run and bike portions of her triathlon, email me and let me know. We'll make a ribbon for them and pin it on. Sorry, she's refusing to swim with the ribbon vest. She's such a whiner.

Anyway, thanks so much for reading this. You guys mean the world to me.

3.30.2009

Free ideas; yours for the taking (part 1... probably)

Clearance time in Joe's Head! I'm dumping off a bunch of ideas I've had over the years that I know for a fact I'll never do. There's no reason why they shouldn't be done though, so if you find something here you want to use or do, have a blast. This is probably just part 1, because I have two and a half notebooks full of these from 32 years of thinking way too much.


Social Experimentation:

  • Create a fake band over a period of a year called The Verbs, complete with a few singles, myspace page, the works. Create a few press releases over six - twelve months talking about how the band is breaking out and really getting attention in your local market. Make up a record label that they are signed to. Invent appearances on local television and small concerts / festivals. Then, after a real plane crash somewhere in the country, immediately release a statement saying that "all four members of the up and coming band, The Verbs, were aboard the flight." See how many people come forward claiming to be fans and "liked them before they were popular."
  • Call into Bill O'Reilly's show (or Lovelines or anyone else) and see if you can get him to say the words "Captain Nemo's Staircase" (or any other ridiculous string of non-sequiturs). Claim you're a middle school teacher, and you've heard about it in the hallways and ask if he knows what it is. Mention that it's what 12 year old kids are doing to each other. Give it a few days, and check Urban Dictionary to see how many definitions spring up for your totally made up term. Be sure to blog the entire sequence of events before you make your call, so you have proof you did this as a social experiment.
  • At any concert, you and as many cohorts as you can start chanting "Gloria" to see if you can get the band to start playing it. Take note of which version of it they play.



Web / software projects:
  • OpenEdit (or MeTube or something): Have users send me three minute video clips of anything (preferably themselves), and I edit them into an actual story with an actual plot. The only thing I can add to the final product of my own is voiceover / narration. I may still do this one day, but it's a fine idea and someone should take it and run with it
  • Chapter Project - this was actually a precursor to the Mentally Incontinent project, but I never did anything with it. I write the first chapter of a story. Users read it, then submit their entry for chapter two. Readers then read all the chapter 2 submissions, and vote on the one to become chapter two. We continue on until the story concludes. I would supply characters ideas, settings, and whatnot before the project starts (or, users can vote on what they want to start with). Still a great idea just... I'm never going to do it.
  • 25cameras.com (or around the world in 35mm) - I tried this back in 2003, it failed with flying colors because basically I did it wrong. Send disposable cameras around the world (or leave them in conveinent places). Attach full instructions to each camera explaining that the user is to take one pic, then pass it along to a friend or loved one, or leave it in a conspicuous place. The last person mails the camera back to home base. The photos are posted online, and eventually a book can be made showing the routes the cameras took. The major trick here is that you can't just leave people to their own timeline or devices, or they'll just get lazy and it'll never go. You have to have prompts and backup plans in place. There's probably a way to do this with "instant use" digital cameras that allow the user to instantly send you the pic they took, while being able to pass along the actual "torch" that is the camera. If you decide you want to do this, hit me up and i'll spill my guts about all the ways it won't work. I'll also sell / give you the domain name.
  • Hmstrdns 2.0: remake the hamster dance site using all ajax, gradients, rounded corners and cel-shaded hamster images taken from photos of real hamsters.
  • An iphone app that uses the camera with a reticle overlaced, so you can choose a weapon and then blow up anyone or anything on the screen. Call it the Revengenator or something. I want royalties on this one when it reaches #1. This might even exist, i don't own an iphone so i have no idea if it does.
  • an iphone app that will randomly choose a tune from your music library as your ringtone. You have to guess the artist / album / song title in order to answer the call. It'd be a fun game, and once your friends knew you were doing it, they'd know every time they went to voicemail, you suck at music trivia (even better, you can send them to voicemail and claim "well, it was the DiVinyls, and I totally spaced on the name of the song..." or something, without taking heat for dropping them to VM).

Band Names:

  • Unnecessary Apostrophe's
  • Das ist nicht Germane
  • Lefty and the Right-Hand Man Band
  • Groucho Marxist
  • MC Bel Biv DaVanilla Ice Cube (for a throwback rap act)
  • Rapscallions
  • Three Forks and a Spoon
  • DiAmanda Gracias
  • Overstood

Ideas too big to just try, you have to commit to these:

  • A LAN / Game center that is essentially a geek mecca. Weekend showings of geeky sci-fi movies. Instant access to xbox, ps3 and PC games. Snack foods (microwavable stuff) served at your kiosk as you play, by pretty girls who are actual geeks. Comic book store up front. Rooms reserved for tabletop gaming. Charge a monthly fee as a club so that revenues are not generated by any one item to get around pay-for-play licsensing on that sort of thing. Franchise it out, and begin clans for each LAN center for weekly / monthly tournaments against each location. Winning team from the location gets a month of free dues (I was actually 30 days away from launching one of these myself in 2001, and then... Well, 2001 happened and everything fell apart).
  • A "teaching development house" where young / new programmers can come intern on projects ranging from small websites to video games to full blown applications, while they attend classes for training in their chosen field. The development house takes on projects from companies needing websites, or begins selling shareware / payware video games developed by the interns. In return, interns get paid a base hourly rate commiserate with their skill level, plus percentages of sales on the projects they work on. In the case of web development, the interns build website / flash templates as part of their training, and are paid points on sales of their individual templates. The interns could be promoted into lead and management roles as they show progress, or are free to leave to work anywhere else they wish.

3.29.2009

Wish Andrea luck!

At the ING marathon, corner of Euclid and Moreland. Andrea is in here somewhere...

3.28.2009

Earth Hour 2009 is fucking stupid

I refuse to participate in Earth Hour 2009. And the "why" is because it's fucking stupid.

It's just as stupid as Buy Nothing Day, and Don't Buy Gas Today Day, and all the other "It probably feels good to you to pretend you're making a difference for some cause you pretend to actually support, but what you're doing doesn't do any good whatsoever and you're an idiot for thinking it does" events that armchair activists come up with to create awareness of shit we just plain don't want to be aware of.

So what's happening here? For an hour, we're going to save enough energy to power ALL OF THE SHIT WE'RE TURNING OFF FOR AN HOUR, FOR ANOTHER HOUR? It's not like this one hour pause in energy consumption actually spares the Earth of our extreme raping of it. At the very best, it buys the Earth one extra hour before it falls apart and kills us all. Because after that hour is up and your heart is filled with good feelings about being so green you look like you're going to puke, you're going to turn back on the Blackberry and the laptop and the TV and see what exactly you missed during that hour. You're not going to give any of that shit up.

You're just going to go right back to what you were doing. Just like Buy Nothing Day does nothing but moves profit margins a day forward (what, you're not going to get anyone anything for Christmas?) and Don't Buy Gas Today Day just means you'll fill up tomorrow (what, you're not going to work/school/shopping/whatever again ever?).

Earth Hour is fucking stupid. How about Earth Lifetime? How about reducing your carbon emissions by riding your bike to work / the store / the gym permanently? How about unplugging the TV forever and reading books the rest of your life? How about no more Xbox or Playstation or Gameboy or PSP?

Right. Me neither. So fuck that, and fuck Earth Hour, and all other useless gestures that allow smug jackoffs to pretend they're actually making some sort of difference.

3.27.2009

Politics as an Intelligence Test

For those of you who have, either knowingly or unwittingly, spared yourselves from the "news" that the Republicans have come back to Obama with their own draft of the "budget":

The Republicans have come back to Obama with their own draft of the "budget". 

Now, as you know, I'm an artsy fartsy writer type, so I'm sure you're catching on to the fact that I keep putting the word "budget" in "quotes". And if you've read their draft of the budget, you know exactly why. If you haven't, well... Let me spare you the suspense:

It's not a budget. It's a 17 page talking points memo full of charts that make NO FUCKING SESNE based on not an single ounce of actual data.


THAT IS A REAL CHART FROM THE REAL BUDGET. WHAT THE FUCK?!? (Full disclosure: I actually showed this to my wife, a statistics major and former actuary, before I included it here, just to be sure what I was seeing is what I thought I saw. She confirmed it by looking at it,and then looking up at me and saying "what the hell is that?")

The entire thing reads like a junior high school student's political debate rebuttal. It's retarded. And this thing is from the other major political party governing our nation. And before any of you try to argue that this was just a proposal, let me point out that John Boehner said "Obama said we didn't have a budget, here it is" and presented the document linked above. That means it's a budget.

While it's been alluded to before by myself and others throughout history, I believe that, for the first time here in 2009, individual political affiliation can be used as a fairly sufficient litmus test for intelligence. 

Not because I believe the Democrats are smart. I don't. One visit to Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland or any other major city with 90% "blue" population will show you this. There are some really, really stupid liberals out there. 

But, at this point in our nation's history, I have to -- not want to, but HAVE TO -- be of the opinion that if you knowingly support the Republican party, you are a moron.

I do not care what schools you've attended, what degrees you have, what you do for a living... You HAVE TO BE A MORON TO BE SUPPORTING THESE GUYS. Either that, or you just plain hate yourself. 

Want proof? Here you go (For those of you who are too lazy to click links [or too stupid to know how... REPUBLICANS...], the article is about two articles written as rebuttals to Obama's budget, by two different authors, that are identical word for word. Like I said, stupid). Even more proof - in the wake of "This wasn't actually a budget, we misspoke," The Republicans have RE-promised to deliver a budget... On April Fool's Day. Last proof: Joe the Plumber has a career, and fuck you ALL for putting that meathead fucktard on my television.

By the way, I'm not alone here. Read what Fark and Nate Silver have to say.

I want to make it clear - I don't hate Republicans. I pity them (as I do anyone who goes and hangs a label on themselves like this). They've lost their minds. Anyone who is so blindly adherent to an affiliation as their identity that they can't recognize the very poor theater troupe that this political party has become and divorce themselves from it... You are just sad.

You guys don't have to go change your core views of how you think a government should run, and I know a number of Republicans who cling dearly to the idea of the party that their parents had and for whatever reason, still think that today's Republican party is the embodiment of those beliefs. THEY ARE NOT. Those days are over. Today's neo-con controlled Republican party dress themselves in the clothes of the past and preach to you what you believe, while living an altogether different lifestyle with its own agenda. What the Republicans did to this nation and its Constitution from 2000-2008 is abhorrent. And what they've become since the populace heaved their ass through the front picture window of the national saloon is just pathetic. 

If you're still one of them... You deserve it. All of it. Everything coming to you. Everything happening to you. The horrible misery you subject yourself to daily, hating everything that's happening in this nation for the sake of hating it... You deserve it. Enjoy it.

3.26.2009

Aww, cute! The paperclip is a bone... Wait WTF?

My wife works for the Humane Society. As a result, every gift giving occasion ends up with her receiving all sorts of animal related tchotskys and trinkets. 

This year, she got these cute little "bone" paperclips for her birthday. 



And, when you turn it around, it's, uh... Still a bone...



I found an online merchant selling them. I just ordered a thousand for myself. 



3.25.2009

Joe's One Step Guide To Not Dating A Complete Dickhead (For The Ladies)

Hi there, ladies. This one's just for you.

Have you ever met a guy and thought "Wow, this guy might be great, but I wonder... Is he actually a Dickhead?" Perhaps you were at a bar and some guy introduced himself to you, or you're at a hockey game and he turned around to high-five anyone who would return it, noticed you, and struck up conversation. Whatever the situation, I'm sure you've had this little internal dialogue at some point in your life.

There is a very simple, one-step process to immediately determining if this guy might be a Dickhead. Simply ask yourself one question:

Is he in sales?

If the answer is "yes," he's a Dickhead.

Now, that's not to say that guys who are not in sales aren't Dickheads. There are a great many who are. But it's a de-facto law of the human condition that, if he IS in sales, he IS a dickhead. 

He will bore you with tales of sales conquests. He will be glued to his Blackberry. He will call you "babe." He will wear Crocs. He will wear t-shirts over collared shirts.  He will laugh at Will Ferrell videos (not the classic ones, but the crap he's making on that ridiculous Funny Or Die thing). He will spill his beer on you at any sporting event you attend together after your initial mating ritual. He will eat at Hooters. He will flirt (and possibly cheat on you) with girls who work at Hooters. He will take golf seriously. His frat brothers will be over at the house ALL THE TIME, quoting Swingers (God forbid you actually have a Sega Genesis and a copy of NHL '96 in the house...). He will attempt to go hunting with that one "real man" who is the VP of something at his company, misapply the doe scent, and leave you to wash it out of the fabric of the minivan. He will name his first-born male Chet or Blake. He will eventually die of cirrhosis of the liver from drinking away the voices in his head that whisper to him about the lie his life has become and the waste of skin that he is. You do not want him.

You're welcome.

3.22.2009

Touchy Feely Icky

I'm going to go ahead and make a blanket assumption: 

Most guys like it when girls come up and touch them. 

Being a guy, I get to hear things other guys say about being guys. And the things I've heard in my life lead me to believe that my blanket assumption is true. Given the vast sampling pool from which I've cultivated the data, I'm going to go ahead and assert that I'm correct here. And it's because of the size of the sampling pool that I also feel safe in saying the following:

I'm not most guys.

Now, that's not to say I hate it when girls touch me. Girls I know, yeah, they can hug me or place a hand on my back. It's nice. It's a fine greeting from those wonderful females with whom I share a familiarity and kindred spirit. Heck, girls I'm married to get the additional privilege of being able to just walk up and plant a wet one on my lips. Of course, that particular demographic only includes one sample, but she's a damn fine one.

Strange girls - that is, any girl I don't know from previous dealings - coming up and touching me, however... They give me the willies. Big, big willies. The creeps even. 

Now, when it's someone like a waitress (or sometimes even a waiter - this isn't just a female thing, but the probability of a dude just walking up and touching me is so very low, I'm leaving them out for simplicity), who deals with a vast number of people daily and whose job it is to be friendly and inviting, I can forgive it. I don't much like it when they come up to take my order and put a hand on my shoulder, or pat me on the back as they walk off, but hey... I can understand it, which -- while not comfortable at all -- is acceptable. Well, to a point, anyway. I've experienced a few who get a little TOO touchy, and I will overtly rebuff their attempts at physical contact and hopefully send the right message. Only once have I had to flat-out say "look, stop touching me." And it didn't go well, she swapped with another waitress. I felt bad. But at least my skin stopped crawling.

But when someone is just a plain ol' stranger, the creepy factor increases by an order of magnitude. And it wasn't as much of a problem until I got the big ass arm tattoo. 

Just a few moments before posting this, a young lady of about 22 years of age or so came up to me on the patio of the Starbucks near my house. Before even saying a word, I felt a hand on my arm. She was standing somewhat behind me, and when I turned around, she said "I saw this from the parking lot... Wow, it's impressive!" 

I turned around to face her, pulling my arm away. I said, as friendlyish as I could, "Yeah, well, most people have arms, nothing really to get too excited about..." 

She laughed, and stated that she was talking about the tattoo. "It's really intricate, where'd you get it done?" She reached out and grabbed my sleeve, pulling it up so she could see more of the work. 

I turned my arm more, trying to free it from her grip. I pulled up the sleeve myself, and showed her the rest of the ink. I explained that I go to Todo at ABT Tattoo. 

She reached out AGAIN and touched the top part of the tattoo.

Now, I really wanted to snap on her and tell her to fucking stop touching me. But instead of indulging some pseudo-Aspergers reaction , I just kept doing my little dance of politely distancing myself from her and answering her questions. I don't want to be rude or mean, but I also don't want random girls touching me. It's a fine line, I suppose. I finally ended the interaction by grabbing my empty cup of coffee and standing up, while making a joke about needing more caffeine. She smiled and the interaction ended.

And this is not the first time. Hell, it's not even the first time this week, and it's Sunday (even though I gave up my Christian convictions long ago, I still look at Sunday as the first day of the week, mostly because it's that way in iCal.app). At the gym this morning, a friend of a guy I was working out with came up and did the same damn thing, only she stopped with the touching after the first touch. 

I have no idea if this is some sort of localized interaction explicitly confined to the South, or if girls everywhere feel that boys secretly (or not so secretly) want them to touch them anyway, so they just do it... Maybe I'm just fucked up. Okay, definitely I'm fucked up, but I don't think that I'm too far off base thinking that touching only comes after a familiarity has been established with an individual.

Am I wrong? 


3.20.2009

The Ultimate Guide To Twitter

So, after spending a week exploring all the facets of Twitter after more than tripling my followers in 48 hours, I've become quite the expert on the darling of the social networking media marketing blitz thing whatever. I guess since MySpace died and all the kids left, it got boring reporting on predators talking to themselves (and stripperbots), so the media jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. (I could continue linking well into this sentence, but am now bored with finding links.)

And so, it seems, has everyone else. Tons of celebrities and social media experts and bloggers and SEO giants and other people who really have nothing else to do all day but think about themselves in 140 characters or less and share with everyone the enormity of those thoughts are on Twitter. And so, here's my Ultimate Guide to Twitter, for everyone who is considering hopping on the tool and formulating their Twitter strategy to fame and fortune.

First off, It's important to note that, if you actually have a Twitter Strategy, you're a dickhead. This isn't an insult, it's just a statement of fact, and the more we know about ourselves as people, the more we can grow and evolve and achieve oneness. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but better you hear it from me than from someone you actually care about. The fact that you can't just enjoy a service for the silliness of it and actually decided to build a "strategy" around it exposes you for who you are. I'm honor-bound to point it out to you. You're welcome.

Now, in formulating your Twitter Strategy, you should decide if you're going to take the slow, arduous, hard-fought path of amassing tons of people who don't give a shit about you and only follow you in the hopes you'll follow them back so they can grow THEIR numbers, or if you'll take the quick and easy path and follow the top Twitterers who follow you back, insult them in various ways so they reply with your name, and watch your ranks swell. 

You'll probably pick #2. It's the quick path to self-perceived glory, so I really have no doubt that that's what you'll do. I kinda did it the hard way, and I recommend the easy way. Why? Because no matter what you do, you will end up following these people anyway. It will happen. Just watch. And once you do, you'll figure out what I've figured out:

Twitter, by and large, is a gigantic circle-jerk of marketing and SEO "Experts" and conservative Republican dipshit retards, all tweeting and following one another in the hopes that they'll get followed back to make their numbers look great, then go off and sell their strategies to companies. Oh, and Barack Obama.
 
There you go. That's all you need to know about Twitter in a nutshell, if you're planning on using it in a strategy of some sort.

If you're not, basically Twitter is a service where you can let people know when you're pooping, eating, or have a clever witticism which you will inevitably butcher so that it fits into 140 characters, confusing everyone. And by everyone, I mean the friends of yours who don't mind knowing all of these things and decide to follow you, which are the same friends who already know all these things about you, which means it'll get boring eventually. Until one of you follow Trent Reznor or one of the Marketing / SEO "experts" or one of the wingnut republican dipshits and the whole cycle described above starts up. 

Enjoy!


***Updated March 23, 2009 about 4:45pm***

I figured I'd just let this caffeine-adled ranty post was going to just sit on its own and be what it is, but given some of the comments, I figured what the hell, I'll respond.

A) I've actually been on Twitter since sometime early 2007, shortly after it was the hot masturbation fodder at SXSW. I've only now decided to abuse it to figure out what the hell everyone's so excited about.

B) Sorry that I've upset some people. It's hard realizing that your reality is a thin veil of your own perception, filled with hot air... And it hurts when that veil has holes poked in it. I know. It'll be okay though, soon enough you'll grow bored of Twitter and find the next thing to be an "expert" about, co-opting it to be some mainstream vision of what you deem important. Trust me, it's very Battlestar Galactica this way - it has all happened before, and it will all happen again. That is, until someone finds the gene that causes dipshitness and someone else builds a bomb to chemically neuter all of you who have it.

C) Twitter has NO VALUE. None. Period. It is a service for saying 'hi'. Using it for more than that isn't against the law or even against the grain of it's intended use... Just know what it is. The only reason Twitter is popular right now is because people have decided Twitter is popular. It's the Paris Hilton of the tech world... Known for it's name and not much else. It's not like Facebook or Google, where the data being collected is actually worth something (Facebook knows more about you each and every time you use it, and long after you've left, the MASSIVE database all about you is still going to be worth a lot to the next hot service looking to sell you things. Twitter? Well... They have NO valuation whatsoever. They can't charge for tweets, because everyone will drop it in a heartbeat. They can't append ads, because both everyone will drop it AND the bandwith issues [Fail Whale shows up when someone decides #penis is a hot topic and tweets it to death... do you think Twitter can actually handle ads too?]). Twitter is the 2009 equivalent of the Tulip economy. It's only value proposition is it own name.

D) THIS IS JUST A STUPID BLOG POST. Think I'm full of shit? Great! Move on to another blog (preferably one about SEO Marketing Blue-sky Long Tails) and shut the fuck up.

3.18.2009

My new marketing plan

This is not the new project post... But I wanted to share with you all my new marketing plan for the new Mentally Incontinent book.

You see, it involves my brand new SpyderCo Tasman Salt hawk-bill knife, which is so awesome:



I got this knife because LOOK AT IT. It's freakin' awesome. It slices and dices and fucks shit up. It's exactly the kind of knife I really, really do NOT need to own. And that's precisely the strategy.

As you know, I have a penchant for having incredibly stupid, unfortunate things happen to me, mostly from my own clumsy nonsense. So I realized my plan: I'll be slicing off callouses on my hands acquired from years of weightlifting, when I stumble and slit my own throat, which will result in my death, which will result in my book actually selling some copies. Because obituaries are a form of advertising. 

It's brilliant. Can't fail.

3.17.2009

Goal reached - 600(+) Twitter followers...

I did NOT expect that to happen so fast. When I told you guys that I'd reveal the new project once I got 600 Twitter followers, I figured it'd take a little while... Maybe a few weeks, or a week AT BEST.

It took ONE day. 

In 24 hours, I shot from 290 followers to almost 603. Insane.

I need time to write this whole thing up (which I was counting on with my timing on the followers. So give me a little time, and I'll post up the new project stuff. I'm very excited to do it, I could REALLY use the feedback.

Field Notes are SO AWESOME.

I got my Field Notes color pack subscription today! Check it out:



Okay, I know... "It's just a memo pad." Shut up, because NO IT'S SO TOTALLY NOT JUST A MEMO PAD. 

You see, Field Notes are more than that. They're durable grid-line pocket-sized memo pads that actually hold up to abuse. Those haven't existed in my experience until Field Notes. Sure, I've seen Mead gridline memo pads, but they're just spiral-bound pieces of crap that rip up after a few days of sitting and standing. 

I've used the one my friend sent me for a week now and while there are creases in the notebook's spine, it's still very sturdy and holds up to Joe Abuse™. That's not small praise, my friends - that's hardcore. 

And also, I know that tattooed-out football-playing benchpressers-of-things aren't supposed to be all excited over things like shoes and memo pads... But consider that my tattoo is about Akira, a japanese manga / anime, and also consider that I'm an artsy-fartsy designer boy who writes stupid books. And if you still can't reconcile the artsyjock girlboy that I am, consider going and fucking yourself. Cause I love shoes and memo pads. So there.

And yes, that is a Battles t-shirt under the pads. I love shoes, memo pads, and Battles. 


3.14.2009

The Next Big Joe The Peacock Project Is...

...going to be revealed soon!!! 

Hahah, I am such a tease. I suck. 

But yeah, I've made a deal with my followers on Twitter - as soon as I get 600 followers on Twitter, I'll reveal details on the Next Big Thing™. Some of you may have seen references to it in the past, but I'm not talking about just saying what it is. I mean posting actual details, getting feedback, and otherwise doing with it what I do with everything I do -- involving you in the process. 

And yeah, the followers-for-information trade is blatant whoring. And I don't regularly do blatant whoring. But I have a STRATEGY!!!! that involves getting a bigger Twitter and Facebook presence for when the book comes out in September, and this is one way to start working that out. 

So yeah, if you're wondering what I'm going to be doing now that the new Mentally Incontinent book is done, keep it tuned right here (or better yet, if you're on Twitter, follow me) and I'll be sharing shortly :)

3.13.2009

RSS is B0rked

Apparently, Blogger.com's RSS publishing has gone on the fritz. My RSS feed has 0 stories in it. Until it's fixed, it's going to be broken.

How annoying is that??

UPDATE: 

A very nice employee of Blogger.com saw my tweet and helped me find a workaround. It resulted in me using this feedburner whatever tool thing, which apparently tells me how popular I am and how many people subscribe to my thing and whatever. I've set up a redirect on my server so that atom.xml and rss.xml now point to the new feedburner feed, so those of you subscribing shouldn't have to change anything, but if you do, at least now you know the new address. Huzzah.

3.12.2009

The "Cult of Done" can kiss my ass (and mark it off their list once they have)

I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. I liked it. It helped a lot. I actually get more done now since I read it 4 years ago, and I still use principles like email folders and "If it takes 2 minutes or less, do it right now." The cats certainly like it, since I remember to feed them regularly now.

However.

The appropriately titled "Cult of Done" that has arisen around the concepts presented in that book really, really need to go away and die. Of course, they'd insist that if they can't die RIGHT NOW in front of me, it wouldn't be worth doing, and they should move on to something else. But I don't want that. I don't want to see them, hear them, or deal with their bodies. I want them to achieve two goals:

1) go away.
2) die.

Their little manifesto (linked above) just plain pisses me off, and the reason is simple:


Obsession on action produces nothing useful whatsoever.


Here's my take on their bullshit list:

"The Cult of Done" Manifesto

  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
What the FUCK are you, RoboCop? There are NOT three states of being. There are infinite states of being. To harness yourself to such a ludicrous state of mind is to miss out on those glorious states of being like Bliss, Whimsy, Scared-out-of-your-mind-but-doing-it-anyway (think skydiving), Calm, and most importantly Passionate.

I know some will argue that my states of being are congruent with the above three states of being, but I disagree. I believe that what these folks are stating is that you are ignorant until you are no longer ignorant, and the SECOND you know what it is you are to be doing, you MUST START DOING IT RIGHT AWAY UNTIL YOU ARE COMPLETED *BEEP* NEXT COMMAND?

Fuck that. I cannot tell you how many projects I've obsessed over for weeks, just thinking about a plan of attack, only to start and COMPLETELY RETHINK it midstream. And 99 times out of 100, that complete rethink resulted in something SO much better. And 100 times out of 100, it made the project late on delivery. And 100 times out of 100, the client was VERY happy I was late.

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
I'd go the exact opposite way. Start by pretending you're editing the final project. The parts that don't exist, imagine them, then edit them. I get SO MUCH MORE done with an "editing" state of mind than a "creation" state of mind. I just let a story or a comp or a video play out in my head the way it's going to play, without injecting a single ounce of "me" into it. Then I just take whats in front of me and make it look like that.

3. There is no editing stage.
See #2. Also, without an editing stage, how the hell can you be sure that your final audience will find the same passion in your project / goal / project you did? How can you go back and clean up what you missed while working? Where's the "clean mind and new eyes" aspect of the creation? ZERO people (except maybe Neil Gaiman) will produce something, come back to it a week later, and tell you they wouldn't change something about it.


4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
I actually don't mind this point. "Fake it until you make it." It works just fine so long as you're not espousing your opinions on the area of your supposed expertise to people who actually know what they're doing, and as long as you're willing to accept failure as an option (which this list does...) when a client or the final audience looks at what you've done and judges it to be of insufficent quality.

These are not bad things. These are how you learn to do what you do better. I am nowhere NEAR an expert in design or writing, and I'm still doing these things. And I take every criticism and use it to hone my skills. Even though I still have a very long way to go, I can look back on my old works and know that I've at least advanced from that point (which is why I hate point #7).

5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
Probably my biggest issue with this stupid list. I agree that procrastination can be damaging... But if I abandoned every project I waited more than a week to do, I'd have never written any books, designed any websites, started any workout programs - in short, I wouldn't have to go to the gym EVER because I'd starve from not ever producing a single peice of work in my life.

For many people I know, procrastination is actually part of the workflow. It's the brain going off an focusing on other shit, while the subconscious ruminates over what the work is going to end up being. It's actual productive work that, to middle-managing button-down dickheads the world over, looks like goofing off. They see creative procrastination the same way they see the time they spend wearing Crocs while sitting on their front porch sipping some drink with more than two words in the name, talking to their best-friend-the-sales-guy about that awesome frat party they went to when they were 20.

Not the same.

6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
You're so right! Everything else is meaningless - a sense of completion, joy in the finish product, pride in your work... FUCK. THAT. Just go to the next thing. Be a machine. I believe They Might Be Giants have a song that'd be a perfect soundtrack for the lives of these ridiculous people.

7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
Applies to the wrappers of cheeseburgers, and not much else. Different people have different methods of moving on to the next thing, but I keep copies of the stuff I do, if for no other reason than to reference it later to see if I've gotten any better since I did [project x]. How can you grow without metrics?

8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
That'll get you far. Never be the best, it's fruitless because it gets in the way of trudging through your task list.

9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
Two words: Nickolaus Pacione. I wouldn't ever listen to a fucking word that guy said about anything regarding literature, writing, horror, building model trains, cooking an Eggo waffle or anything else. He's a hack. And he's produced three times the amount of material I have.

Doing something does NOT make you right. It just makes you experienced. And experience is a good thing - but it takes much more than accumulated experience to be good at stuff.

You don't get to design the DVD cover for The Dark Knight because you drew one in Photoshop and posted it to DeviantArt. Of course, this is not a fruitless exercise. It's great work to do, fun, exciting, and IF IT IS GOOD ENOUGH and lands in the right hands, who knows - it COULD lead to you doing work on a large budget movie. I guarantee you the guy who did the fanfic poster for the new Batman movie featuring a mocked-up Riddler is working professionally on something right now.

But that's not because he Does Something, it's because he Does Something WELL. And that takes tons of Doing Something, yes... But inbetween the moments of DOING, you have to be thinking and plotting and learning and focusing and letting your mind wander and relaxing and NOT DOING ANYTHING.

10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
I don't have anything to say about this, except that I've never once counted as "Done" something that sucked, because either a) the client / final audience / whoever rejected it, so what's the point of claiming credit, or b) I threw the damn thing out and started over.


11. Destruction is a variant of done.
Huh? Are we even speaking the same language anymore? Cultists are stupid.


12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
... Sure ok whatever. I think I'm "Done" responding to this shit. It's clear they just wanted more bullet points in this list. Maybe their criteria of "Done" was "thirteen bullet points" and they just started making shit up that sounded somewhat interesting. Perhaps they should have paid more attention to number 10 and stopped there.


13. Done is the engine of more.
Action breeds action, yes. It's an old axiom, and it's true. But I think that this point needs to be qualified a LOT - it's referring to THEIR definition of "Done," not "Truly Done." And they are exactly right - going through the motions to get something marked off a list will simply lead you to doing it over and over until your stupid list is empty, and you can fill it with more meaningless tasks you'll go through the motions to finish. Yay you, you've just become marginal.


******

I've seen it my entire career, both in offices and while self-employed. People confuse "doing something" with "doing something meaningful" constantly. I've seen multi-million dollar projects spin and spin and spin with no actual progress made for MONTHS, all the while people were "Getting Things Done." Action items were crossed off hit-lists and developers billed actionable hours, managers reported those actionable hours to their bosses, their bosses told clients Things were Getting Done, and all the while, NOTHING FUCKING WORKED.

If all I did was Get Things Done, there'd be stories on my site alright. There'd be tons and tons of them. And not a one of them would be worth reading (not that they are anyway, but that's another blog post about my frail ego that I'll do another day). They'd be sterile and boring. There'd be NO imagination in telling events, no plays on words, no NOTHING. Just a checkmark on the to-do list.

Let's just say that I doubt very highly that the inventors of the microwave, the television remote control or the automobile gave a rat's ass about being prompt, and cared more about making the damn thing right.

SO, Cult of Done-ers, please go away. And die. And make it snappy - dying is the engine of getting the fuck out of the way of real progress.



*** Update: I recognize that this MIGHT be parody. But it's not clear at all that it is, and that's the problem. Parody / satire should give themselves away at some point. This doesn't. And the GTD cultists (who are NOT kidding) are loving this, taking it to heart and passing it around like it's the new Bible. This piece COULD have been meant as parody, and if it was, it's very funny... But it's failed in its goal, and only further empowered the ideas it intended to mock. SO IT STILL PISSES ME OFF.

3.11.2009

Another interview: Pixelatedlive.com @ 7:00pm PST (10 EST)

Hey all,

Another late update, but I'm going to be on PixelatedLive with Nelson and Jannica tonight at 7:00PM PST (10 Eastern), playing Street Fighter 4 on Xbox Live (I'm joethepkok - add me anytime!), talking about Mentally Incontinent (both books) and Watchmen and all things geek.

It's a great little videocast, very laid back, with Skype calls and a chat room and XBox Live connectivity. Hop on over if you're bored or want to hear me (yet again) rant about Watchmen :)

Direct Ustream Link to the broadcast

My gamercard on XBL:

3.10.2009

Joe's on the radio LIVE @ 7:30PM EST

Hey all, late update:

I'm going to be on Fantasy Sharks Radio with Greg Kellog at 7:30PM EST (direct link to tonight's show), talking about my AFL tryouts, the new Mentally Incontinent book, and Mike Vick. Tune in and check it out. Hell, call in if you like - (347) 826-9620! I'd love to hear from you!

Today IS the greatest day... For Billy Corgan

"Last year, I was offered heavy, heavy money to license [the song "Today"]. I actually turned down two huge, huge, seven-figure-plus deals last year for two songs.... At this point in my life, I don't feel comfortable. Those songs are the reason I'm alive. If your music is not sacred to the point where it's a really, really, really heavy decision about whether or not you would allow somebody else to exploit it, then what's not for sale?"

-- Billy Corgan, 2004


I guess that really, really, really heavy decision just got made.

I don't really care about artists licensing their work. Yay, get paid. I don't care. I guess my big problem comes in when you take on this sanctimonious attitude and then turn around and change positions. If you start from the beginning stating "sure, if someone offers me seven figures, I'll license my artistic endeavor named [x]," great. But don't go all beret-wearing artist on me and then sell out. That's just lame.


3.09.2009

I habe a code (and Kafka dreams)

I haven't had a cold in nearly two years. No flu, no bodyaches, no runny nose, no coughing, no sneezing (well, okay, some sneezing, but usually only when I blow the dust off my copy of Strunk and White, which was like once in the past 2 years... I'll leave it to the readers of my stuff to make their own jokes there). I attribute this to a) daily exercise and b) supplementing zinc with my multivitamins and whatnots.

But for some reason, late last night, it felt like a freight train full of snot and pain hit me full-force in the face (again, a nice place for some add-on jokes... go wild). I took two "glugs" of NyQuil, which is where you let the bottle go "glug!" twice, and laid down about 1 AM.

I woke up about three this afternoon.

Now, none of this is particularly notable in and of itself, except that my having a cold leads to a condition that I haven't experienced in a long, long time - the NyQuil Kafka Dreams. Whenever I have a cold, and I take NyQuil, I end up having some of the most surreal, engaging-yet-disturbing dreams. And what's interesting is that I can never really capture them. They fade from my mind as I try to write them out, which means I can't digest them or try to explore them with any sort of logical thought process... So in the end, I'm left with this huge assortment of emotions that the dreams brought about.

I remember a long chain of events that kept bleeding into one another last night. The only event that actually sticks out for me though is that I was at a wedding reception in Florida on the beach, and it was raining. The participants retreated to holding the reception in a convention hall. Everyone was HORRIBLY drunk... Not just sloshing around and being silly, but drunk to the point where their inner natures were coming out. There was violence... So much violence at this wedding. I was there with a friend (who simply has the distinction of being my friend, as I don't know who it was... Just that there was a form in attentence with me who I recognized as being my friend). The friend suggested we bail out, and I agreed. I needed to stop by the bathroom first, and when I walked in, there was a gang of men fighting. I tried to push past them, but they all stopped fighting one another and surrounded me.

I remember being scared, like I was in junior high when this happened to me (almost weekly). It's the first time I can remember being scared of being hurt by someone in a long, long time. It really shook me.

So I'm awake now, and my face is full of snot, and even though it's been a few hours since I woke up, I'm still experiencing the mild stomach tremors one feels when they've been panicked. Anyone who spent their childhood being beat up knows what I'm talking about - that sick feeling you get that is a mixture of dread and anger, because you're so angry about not being able to do anything to curb your dread. And there's absolutely no reason for me to be feeling this way, except for the fact that my body let a few undesirables in the club and they wrecked havoc with the immune response.

I'm not sure why I wrote all this out, except that I just felt like I needed to. And now that I have, I feel stupid about it, but when has that ever stopped me from hitting the "Publish" button?

3.07.2009

So, I saw "The Watchmen..." (Warning: TL;DR ahead)

Uh... This is long. But hey, you don't have to read it. But if you do, here's some notes before you read:

First, go ahead and assume that I have put the phrase "for me" after every opinion stated here. I am not a film critic, a comic book critic, a literary critic or anything else that earns a salary for armchair analysis of other peoples' hard work. I am simply trying to react to what I've seen the best I can.

Second, if you're looking for a review of the film itself, or an analysis of how strictly or loosely it adhered to the graphic novel, Google "Watchmen+Review" and go to town. That's not what this is.

Third, I'm not looking for a debate. This is not a platform for you film nerds, comic nerds or just plain nerds to tell me how I just don't "get it" or that I "missed the point" or that I am otherwise wrong. If you read this and walk away with even one feeling about how wrong I am, you aren't really reading this, because last time I checked, opinions can't be wrong. They just "are." And it is in that spirit that I write this. I do, however, want to know how you felt about the film and / or the graphic novel itself, so go to town on that.

So, with all of that in mind:

I saw the Watchmen tonight. And boy, do I have some feelings about it.

The problem is, I haven't the first clue how to express those feelings. I'm just feeling stuff about it. And the only reason I feel compelled to even try writing this is because this is the first time in my life I've felt this way after seeing a movie, even all the others based on comic books and graphic novels.

I do know a few things, though, and they form the outline of this entire piece:
  1. This was not a bad movie.
  2. This was not a legendary movie.
  3. I don't feel betrayed as a fan of the graphic novel by the movie.
  4. I don't think this movie could have been made one day sooner than it was.
  5. I ultimately feel any movie based directly on a graphic novel written specifically for that format will fail to translate correctly (except for Sin City, which is the exception that proves the rule).
Points 1-4 are pretty much one paragraph each. But #5... well, see that scrollbar on the right-hand side of your browser? Let's just say #5 is a almost two-thirds of it's length. So yeah... Enjoy that.

So, let's get started, shall we?
1) The Watchmen is not a bad film.

In fact, I'd say it was a cinematic masterpiece. Absolutley georgeous to watch. It never stalled, it never petered out, and it kept my attention the entire time. I felt absolutely estatic watching big-screen representations of Roarshach, Night Owl, Silk Spectre, The Comedian, Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandius. I felt 13 again, the age I was when I first read The Watchmen graphic novel. I felt 22 again, the age when I rediscovered it and read it with new eyes. I felt 32, the age I am right now, finally watching a movie that I'd wished had been made 20 years ago, but knew couldn't have been.


2) This was not a legendary film.

The Watchmen film will never be reveared the way The Dark Knight, Iron Man or Sin City are, for reasons entirely seperate from the extremely long analysis I'm going to go into in number 5 (and I know it's extremely long, because I wrote it first, and am now going back and filling in numbers 1-4. So I kinda know the future right now... Call me Dr. Manhattan). The story, even though it was told in its entirety, leaving out nothing besides some character building and exposition, felt completley rushed. It wasn't, but it felt that way. Such is the nature of attempting to tell a story in a moving format that wasn't ever created that way.

3) I don't feel betrayed as a fan of the graphic novel by the movie.

Let me say this right off: Dr. Manhattan TOTALLY rocked. He was perfect. He is probably one of the most interesting, challenging characters ever written in a comic or graphic novel, and he was absolutely nailed in this film. Night Owl was appropriately heroic and benign. Roarschach was fantastically maniacal, with a perfectly explained purpose. Every single character was done right, and honestly, the story of The Watchmen -- not the plot, but the actual story -- is the utter dissection of the Super Hero. And it was achieved here. All the visuals were great. All the little bits of reference were stuck in (except I didn't see Uchida from Domu hidden anywhere...). The costumes were perfect. The changes made in the film were understandable, and I felt that they explained themselves pretty well (except I would have liked to have seen the damn squid).

4) I don't think this movie could have been made one day sooner than it was.

The Watchmen is revered for its panel constructions and orientation. As much a classic for its story, its visuals are right up there in the halls of legend. And to accurately recreate those angles would take either a) the most insane camera crane setup ever devised, or b) believable CGI that doesn't get in the way of the story. And it's only now, in 2009, that we're starting to see this come about. You could argue maybe Lord of the Rings, but I dunno... Even then, some of the CGI was very obvious CGI - you just let it go because it was dwarves and elves and eagles dropping rocks on orcs... But when you start making CGI-reality, like buildings and people, you had better cross the uncanny valley, or things suffer... And this film did that. I will stop short of saying it's a film whose time has come, and instead say it couldn't possibly have been made with any sort of honesty to the source material before now.

And finally (and most in-depth)...
5) I ultimately feel any movie based directly on a graphic novel written specifically for that format will fail to translate correctly (except for Sin City, which is the exception that proves the rule).

Movie adaptations of books have their own hurdles, and for the most part, you will not find people who have read a book that a movie was based on who like the movie better. It is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to compete with people's imaginations. And that's why movies based on books get the chance to work, and often times do: We know this fact going into the movie. It's just plain not going to beat the book. It's like knowing that those parking lot carnivals aren't King's Dominion -- you allow yourself to have fun, because you know absolutely that it won't compare to the big theme park, so you free your emotions and logic to go focus on the fun you're actually having.

Graphic novels, however, end up skewing this quite badly, because they're a visual medium. You don't have to imagine what the characters look like, or what the scenery looks like -- even if you've never been to Paris and seen a Parisian, you don't have to wonder, because the artist of the graphic novel draws it out for you. She gives you all the visual cues you need to understand that THIS is Paris, THESE are Parisians, and Batdude and Wonderchick are there saving it from certain annihilation.

But there's a special problem here that, I would argue, is transparent to most observers (except for Scott McCloud or anyone who has read his absolutely genius dissection of the comic medium, Understanding Comics). And it's a problem that is ultimately magnified (quite a lot, too) by the initial concept that graphic novels make great storyboards for movies, since they're visual panels with dialogue that tell a story, and that makes it easy to turn them into films, right?

Well, no. Our problem is "The Gutter" - that magical place between each and every panel of a comic (or, the gap in representation from one page to the next) where the action "happens". You see, graphic novels are sequences of action, captured in frames from one moment of the action to the next. When you see SpiderGuy punching out Doctor Tako, you see a panel with his arm reared WAYYYYY back and his fist clinched tight, and then the next panel, there's a huge swooping graphic leading the arm to and past the villain's chin, with the punch having taken place already.

The punch happens in the gutter. You don't actually SEE it happen. There's no animation from frame A to frame B. All you see is that there was going to be a punch (in frame A), then there WAS a punch (in frame B).

The punch, you see, happens in your mind. Just like in a book... But in a far, far stealthier way. The artist and writer gave you milestones for your imagination to do the work. Take this sequence, stolen liberally from Understanding Comics:


Tommy has told us about his toy robot. 16 frames have represented a show-and-tell session, where he explains his toy and shows you how it changes from a robot to an airplane. Yet, not once have you seen his mouth move, nor did his hands change the toy, nor did the robot actually alter form into an airplane. We just saw pictures representing moments in time for each of these events. That robot changed to an airplane in your mind. Tommy's voice? You heard it in your mind. Scott McCloud just gave you a map from point A to point B... You did the driving.

You can film a graphic novel frame by frame, staying as loyal to the source material as you want... But with graphic novels, you get a "pass" on certain points of exposition. Readers intrinsically understand that there are intense processes that happen between the moments represented in each panel... Thoughts, feelings, deed, action. You get away with jumping from motivation to motivation or from action to action because the time that passes between each representaiton is actually taking place in our heads. We're thinking of how much Peter Smith loves Mary Jane Whatsup, even when he's not talking about it, because we read these graphic novels at the speed of thought... And between each panel, whether lightning quick or in moments of dwelling on the subject, we're filling in feelings and thoughts and deeds where none are represented.

And that's what makes them so special... And impossible to film.

I'm no student of film, but I do know one thing from watching TONS of them - no film gets away with letting time lapse in a viewer's mind. When we're watching film (or tv), we're basically hopping in a story rollercoaster and allowing the track to take us where it's going to take us. And, with very very few exceptions, we DO NOT GO OFF THE RAILS. If you don't give it to us, Mr. Director, we don't have it. In fact, it could be argued that if we do go off the rails, the filmmaker has probably failed.

The greatest films are the ones that give us everything we need to piece together the story, even when we don't realize it. We had no idea that Rosebud was Kane's sled (God, I hope I didn't ruin the movie for you), but when we DO realize it, we also realize that, somewhere deep inside, we knew it all along. It makes sense the way the best endings do... By coming to a conclusion that, once reached, seemed inevitable, even if we wouldn't have guessed the ending ourselves.

And that's the rub. To get that sort of conclusion, you have to give us all the important bits along the way. The difference between graphic novels and movies is very much the difference between someone describing a tiger by pointing at a striped pattern, and someone putting together a jigsaw puzzle of a tiger. One allows some leway when being told about a tiger, but if I'm putting together a puzzle of one, I'd better have every piece in front of me so I can make the whole picture. Even though it starts out a mess, all the pieces are STILL there by the time I put it all together.

In our example above, to film it accurately, you'd need to get a child who embodied the very concept of "learning to explain." He couldn't be confused, but he'd have to be naive. He isn't excited to explain a single thing to you... In fact, Tommy couldn't care less that you understand him, so long as you GET IT. But he's excited to be showing the toy to others.

And that's just the Tommy in MY head. How about yours?

And yet, the whole thing is representative of a storyboard of a child showing us a toy robot that turns into an airplane... The problem is, that's the whole of the story. Scott wrote that sequence SPECIFICALLY so that the magic of movement from start to finish took place in your head. To adapt it to film is to show you the sequence actually happening, which diminishes the impact and the magic of the final product.

Inevitably, someone out there (maybe most of you out there) are thinking "Yeah, but what about Sin City?" Why Sin City works as a movie is precisely why Watchmen doesn't. You see, Sin City is Frank Miller's comic book take on crime noir. It's written from films as inspiration and source material... To translate that back into film isn't a stretch. There's little that happens in the gutters that is fantastic or strange or outside the bounds of physics or "reality" (as it has been presented in noir since its inception). It's a comic book version of film.

Watchmen, though... Alan Moore is a legend of comic book writing for a very good reason -- he has mastered the form in a way few others have or even can. His brand of writing not only includes and makes use of the exposition that takes place in the reader's mind between panels, but relies on it to tell the story right. Alan has absolutely mastered the "signpost" method of storytelling, giving us exactly what we need as readers to go build rich backgrounds and deep emotions for these characters he's written for us. He plants the seeds which take root and thrive in our minds, and then harvests the fruits as they blossom.

And that's where everything starts sticking in my mind with the Watchmen film. Because it's probably the absolute best possible movie that could be made from the Watchmen graphic novel. To compare it to other movie adaptations of Moore's work is to compare a Ferrari to a Yugo (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), a horse-drawn buggy (From Hell) and a souped-up, riced-out Honda Civic SiR (V for Vendetta). It's not fair. It's not even close to fair. Watchmen is the absolute closest, most faithful recreation into film of all of Alan's stories.

And yet, it still fails to give that magical feeling we get when watching Sin City as a comic book adaptation. And it fails to give us that tingle that Spiderman and Spiderman 2 gave us as retelling of classic superhero fantasy. And it fails to absolutely nail the "superhero story that could actually happen in real life" feeling of The Dark Knight. And that's because that particular story was written specifically as a graphic novel, with all the magical goo that happens in the gutter as a primary contributor to the story itself.

If the movie had been adapted (well, further adapted, since some changes from the graphic novel version were made... But by this I mean taking the source material and writing an entirely new story around it, like V for Vendetta was), it would have failed just as horribly as V and Leauge and From Hell. It would have been seen as yet another example of Alan Moore being right, that his stories cannot be filmed. It would have been lamb-basted in the press. I would have hated it, and you would have hated it, and everyone would have hated it because it'd basically be pissing on The Holy Bible of graphic novels. So thank God that didn't happen.

But is this any better? Have we proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that faithful recreation of a graphic novel (written specificaly as a graphic novel) is impossible? I don't think so. I don't know that there will be a director in my lifetime who will be able to do it, but I refuse to say that there won't ever be one.

What I will say, though, is that there is absolutely an inverse proportion between level of talent of a graphic novel writer and ability to re-create it as a film. I will say that the current trend of Hollywood essentially scooping up graphic novels and using them as the storyboard for multi-million-dollar vehicles for directors to "get it right" will eventually wane. I will say that The Dark Knight is pretty much the pennicale of the graphic-novel-property-movie (with Iron Man being the steep face leading up to it... And if you haven't read "The Long Halloween" [the story that much of The Dark Knight is based on], you owe it to yourself to do so immediately). But there's a caveat there:

I also believe that, more and more, we're seeing graphic novels written by their writers SPECIFICALLY to become storyboards for movies. I believe that you'll see the next Sin-City-Quality film translation of a story in the next five to ten years, because right this second, graphic novels are as close to being revered by the mainstream as they're going to be for a long, long while. Hollywood has finally decided to bless this medium with "validity", which means that the sixteen year old sitting in her bedroom dreaming up the next ElfQuest is probably doing so picturing the story like it might be in a movie...

And I suppose that's fine by me. So long as we keep getting more Brian Wood's and Brian Azzarello's and Garth Innis's and Mark Millar's (who is hardly a newcomer), I'm going to keep buying new comics and allowing them to take me over for a while. Even though I have made most of my career from writing short stories and books, I take a HUGE amount of influence from writers like Dave Sim, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. I do my very best to make up for my lack of frame-by-frame storytelling by creating as vivid a picture in a readers' mind as possible, then jumping to the next frame with my narriative, creating a "gutter" for you to fill in with your imagination. I'm not saying I'm very good at it, but I do try.

So there's my take on Watchmen. I can't decide if I like it or not, even though I DO think it was a good movie, and I did find myself absolutely giddy with each and every scene. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, all the way to the very last second, and the moment the credits rolled, I felt let down. Not because of anything the movie did, but because of all the things it simply couldn't -- nor will films ever be able to -- do.

3.06.2009

God Bless

I stopped by the huge Atlanta 24 hour post office on the way to the hockey game. I had to pay up my PO Box, or risk having my mail sent back to the folks who sent it to me.

The line was out the door. So I said "fuck that."

I went to the game, and watched the Thrashers beat the Canadiens 2-0. It was fun and exciting and I shouted non-sequiturs throughout the whole game, as I always do, such as "This isn't little league, you won't get a trophy just for trying!" and "I am disappointed in you!" and "Increase your efforts!" All at random times for random reasons.

I do know hockey, and I know the appropriate things to shout and the appropriate times to shout them. I'm also an asshole, so I just shout random shit instead.

So on the way home, I stopped by the USPS again, and the line was significantly shorter. In fact, there was only one other person in it, and she'd just been called up when I walked in. So I was able to handle my duties with the postal person quite quickly, which made me happy that I'd waited.

While I was waiting for the postal dude to go get the mail that was at risk of being returned to the senders, the lady next to me began digging through her purse. And by digging, I don't mean just shuffling the chapstick and wallet around, she was pulling out handsful of items wholesale and plopping them on the counter. I realized what was happening when the postal lady asked her "how much are you short?"

"Forty cents," she said. And by the looks of things, she really was short that forty cents, cause if it were anywhere to be found, she'd have found it. So I reached into my pocket and pulled out the change from the prezel and Coke Zero I bought from the game. It was a five and a one. I handed her the one.

"Oh, thank you lord!" she said, looking right at me.

"God IS good!" the postal lady said.

Unless they thought I was the lord incarnate in a Thrashers jersey, they'd just thanked the lord for my generosity. And this didn't bother me - I need to stress quite avidly that this didn't bother me. I understand that, to those of the religious persuasion, all things happen through God who strengthens them. To them, I was but the vehicle for God's great generosity and impact.

But I have to say, it'd have been nice to get at least a little credit.

With a nice bright smile, the lady offered me a brand new, unopened package of peanut M&M's as payment. I refused, telling her that my father raised me never to accept payment for an unsolicited kindness, lest I have to sell back what I gained when I need help. She commented that my daddy raised me right, and that I was a good boy.

I received my parcels and left the post office, wondering just how the hell one could ever get one back over on God and steal a little credit from him. I think the next time some waters part and people try to cross the sea, I'm going to show up with a gigantic Dyson and say "no no, it's not God, I did this. So, like, remember it in 4000 years when you people crossing this body of water right now are running the movie industry."

Playing catch up

Is it retarded that I'm very excited to see both the Watchmen and the Wrestler this weekend?

No?

What if I told you it's because both start with 'W' and I'm excited because this is the first time in my life I'll have seen two movies that begin with W on the same day? And also, W and 2 are right next to each other on the keyboard, and I'm seeing 2 W movies, and that's, like, fate and stuff?

Yeah, I haven't seen the Wrestler yet. I've been aching to see this film ever since my friend Jeremy saw it and raved about it. I was a huge pro wrestling fan when I was younger (okay, full disclosure - I occasionally peek at it when flipping past the Spike channel), and I adore character study films, so this should be right up my alley. I've also got to catch up on The International and a few others. My Tivo is full of shows I haven't watched the past month - three episodes of Life, three Heroes episodes, two new Offices, two Battlestar Galacticas, and almost three weeks worth of The Weather Channel.

Gotta go back and see all that weather I missed.

It's gonna be tough trying to cram all that catching up in before the newest episodes of my favorite shows air (there's a new Battlestar tonight, in fact). I AM A SLAVE TO POP CULTURE

Also, book's nearly done. I gotta put the final coffin nails in that sucker.

3.05.2009

A simple complex

I've never been "the cute one." Well, maybe that's not true, because I have hung around quite a few ugly dudes in my life... So let me rephrase. If you took a random sampling of, say, 5 guys from any public place, there is a less than 20% chance I'd be considered "the cute one."

Do you see what I did with the math there? It's clever, right? It's because I'm a writer. And I'm a writer because I have a face for writing. Because I'm not cute. So I have little else to do, besides bench press things (as my Facebook friends know from my stupid statuses now and then).

This is going somewhere, I promise.

When I receive compliments, I usually receive them in stride, unless they're about a) my writing (which I read, so I know how good it isn't) or b) my cuteness (which I get to judge every day I shave my face... Which is why I don't shave that often). So, whenever someone, especially a girl, compliments me on something that borders "cute" on any side, I usually brush it off. If the person insists on doing the "no, really, seriously, you blah blah blah," I usually just hear the rest as "blah blah blah" in my head and then quote it back to them (or on my blog when I'm stuck for stuff to write, like right now).

It's a complex. I know it's a complex, and I know where it comes from. It stems from not being cute. Like, at all.

I see myself somewhat like this: if you shaved down Winnie the Pooh except for a goatee, and dressed him like a lumberjack who lost his sense of style and taste, then put him in blue and yellow Nike Air Minot shoes he paid way too much for... You'd be close to having a clone of me. But he'd have to really dig the color "orange" and have a complex about being not cute.

Even when my wife pays me compliments or playfully tells me how cute I am, I get all blushy and dismiss it. And she's incapable of lying, which should of course lead me to believe that - hey, maybe I could be cute at times, if the lighting is just right (meaning, "turned off") and there's some Barry Manilow on the hi-fi... But then I realize she's my wife, and she also made her entire career around loving helpless, unwanted animals. So, when I hear her call me "cute" I think of how she calls Tiny Tim "cute" and realize that the only way I could be any cuter to her is if I had disjointed, inward-growing paws and a bigger nose.

I bring this up because not once, not twice, but THREE times today I've been called cute. By non-wife people. And they were GIRLS. And it's got me all complexed.

So you get to hear it. Sorry, you.

Back, and ready to fight

So, I've been really inconsistent with updating regularly the past 3 weeks. This is because I've been flying, driving and taking the bus all over places that don't have much in the way of internet. But I'm back home now, comfortably propped up in my own bed, with my own cats chewing on the power cord to my laptop and a delicious Coke Zero on my bedside table. It's time for a return to form.

In that spirit, I would like to issue a formal challenge:

I, Joe Peacock, publicly challenge Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity to a three-way handicap mixed martial arts match.

That's right, someone no one really knows or cares about has challenged the three heavyweights of the right-wing blabbertorium to a physical fight. And he's done so in a manner which would pit himself against all three of the morons all at once in a no-holds-barred fight, in a caged octagon. Yes, all three men can team up against me, the internet nobody, all at once or one at a time, I couldn't possibly care less which.

God, I want to pound the shit out of all three of these assholes.


And why? Why am I issuing this challenge? Because I'm just fucking sick of the shit. It's not that they're Republicans, or even right-wing -- most of my family fits both of those descriptions, and I don't want to beat their asses. No, it's because they're FUCKING COWARDS.

Bill O'Reilly is a coward. Rush Limbaugh is a coward. And Sean Hannity? He's a coward.

All three of these fucksticks sit behind cameras and microphones, loudly espousing nonsense which they know to be untrue, for the sole reason of getting paid to be in the limelight. They preach blatant lies to masses not smart enough to know they're lies, riling them up and stirring the pot in a time when we as a nation need to pull together, unify, and get through what is absolutely, without a doubt the roughest period of our generation.

I want them to stand up and defend themselves, without the cover of their producers and the ability to control the conversation, in an honest and fair debate over what is truly right for this nation. And because I know that will NEVER -- I repeat, NEVER -- happen, I'd like to do the next best thing. I'd like to fight them.

But I know not one of them could possibly have a prayer of taking me in the ring by themselves. So I'm going to allow all three of them to hop in at once and give it all they've got. Hell, they can bring a folding chair each as well. Won't make a fuck's bit of difference to me, because the very second I get carte blanche to punish these assholes for the consistent and deliberate damage they are doing to the weak-minded in our nation, it'd take the full force of Hell's army to hold me back.

So there you go. A formal challenge which will go nowhere whatsoever, made to three of the most deserving candidates for a beating I've ever seen in my life.

Seriously, my friends and readers, if you listen to any of these guys and take anything they say seriously, I weep for you. I feel the same way about most of what Olbermann says, but at least he's just espousing opinon, and backs up anything he claims to be fact with actual evidence. So it's not just a right-wing / left-wing thing. I hate anyone who adheres to political ideology as an identity and actively dismisses common sense. But I hate more those who actively manipulate the weaker of the species to do their bidding and sell their books.

So yeah, I wanna kick they ass, yo.

3.01.2009

Stupid facebook album cover thing

I've been really annoyed with this newest Facebook meme where you create a stupid album cover thing. Basically, this is what you do:

CREATE YOUR BAND NAME AND ALBUM COVER

To Do This:

1 - Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”
or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Quotations Page and select "random quotations"
or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album

3 - Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover

4 - Use Photoshop, MS Paint or similar application to put it all together.

5 - Post it to Facebook with this text in the "caption" or "comment" and TAG the friends you want to join in.

So I finally broke down and did it. This is what I came up with:



It actually looks just like something that'd be on my album rack in the late 90's. I actually enjoyed this one.