Friday, December 23, 2005

All Fours

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Bartender (my favorite!)
Library Page
Financial Adviser
Light Wheel Vehicle Mechanic (63B1P)

Four movies you could watch over and over:
It's A Wonderful Life
The Incredibles
Batman Begins
Pump Up The Volume

Four places you've lived:
Crompond, NY
Miami Beach, FL
Union City, NJ
Ft. Campbell, KY

Four TV shows you love to watch:
America's Funniest Home Videos
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Desperate Housewives
Family Feud

Four places you've been on vacation:
Cancun, Mexico
Santander, Spain
New Orleans, LA
Cape Cod, MA

Four websites you visit daily: (aka PopCultureShock)
Google News

Four of your favorite foods:
Anything Salomé cooks

Four places you'd rather be:
Miami, FL
Austin, TX
Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Four people who should do this:

Sunday, December 18, 2005

R.I.P. Peter Conti (aka Peter of the Earth)

I hadn't seen him in a few years, drifting apart when we moved to Virginia and never reconnecting after we returned, and had no idea he was sick, much less dying.

He missed his 30th birthday (today, Saturday) by one day.

I'll always remember the carefree Peter who let it all hang out when the music was playing and he was surrounded by friends. The Peter in the picture here (at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago, 1999, courtesy of David Huang), who stood by me as a friend that entire season when 'a little bit louder' was born into a community divided. The Peter who could go toe-to-toe with me in a debate without ever letting it get personal, because in the end, we were fighting for the same thing.

The Peter who introduced me to a kind of spirituality that didn't demand a church or a bible or any outward symbols, simply a desire to connect with something larger than one's self and draw strength from it.

The Peter we always joked about being my gay twin brother, and who, despite his own insecurities about his poetry and his performances, inspired me every single time he got on stage. The Peter who brought me to full tears three different times with one of those performances, more than any other poet I know.

The Peter who had a way with words and never, I think, truly realized how special and talented he was.

Not even death can take that Peter away from me. Or from anyone else who knew him well enough to call him friend.

Rest in peace, Peter.

And if there's anyone who could figure out a way to come back now and then and watch over his friends, I believe you'd be the one to pull it off. So I'll be looking for you every time the music's playing loud enough to get me on the dance floor; for that sign that it's okay to let loose sometimes and simply enjoy the moment.

Thank you for your friendship. You'll be missed, but never forgotten.

The Angelic

Angel joined my 8th grade class
seven months to graduation

I hated him
pegged him the type to pick fights
with buck toothed patos
like me
-but he didn't

Instead, he dated my best friend Victoria
became my friend too
and in two months had mastered the racket of the lunchroom Spit circle
slapping cards and smashing fingers
of boys not quick enough to grab the empty pile
I'd smile knowing each win
shifted "cool"
to a new elite

He didn't speak much of his being a foster-child
his mother-
or brother who made it to the home of a social worker. Baring his light like a
cross, he kept a sunlit disposition long enough for Ms. Valdez, the ESL teacher,
to find him too late to save or sooth scars incurred by the system. Carving a few
more when she decided to send him back.

final days lapsed-
stitching sunsets to our chest
leaking candlelit eternity
through stretched liquid wax
waiting for the wick to burn

The night before he was scheduled to leave he came to my house. We didn't
plan on his staying. My parents had gone shopping and told us he should be
gone by the time they got back. Defying them, I convinced my siblings to do
the same, help me hide him-splaying bellies on the floor as we played spit.
He was quiet. I remember it was a Tuesday because "Who's the Boss" was on
and in my recent self-liberation from several years of television restriction,
I scheduled my life around ABC's evening line-up.
My parents got home and I made Angel hide behind the bureau. Bringing up a
box of Ring Dings for our evening meal. Leaving a pillow, blanket, and enough
room to turn in his sleep, I climbed in my bed resigned to retire with
pre-recorded laughter shadowing the room from a 12" black and white screen.
But beneath syncopated chuckles I heard whimpers. Rushing to the bureau I found
Angel crying, refusing to let me console him. Demanding I didn't touch him-that
I didn't love him-that no-one did.
"How do you put some-one you love behind a dresser," he said.
The metaphor would take ten years to decipher. Though prematurely making
sense of it at the time, not fearing my father's heavy hand and belt, being
bigger than Angel, I wrapped my arms around his flailing body, laying him to
rest on my bed. Chest touching chest, his anger subsided. We decided to plan
As sleep took him from me I felt blood surging between fingers and legs.
Jumping up I curled up in the big furry chair at the foot of my bed, ashamed
of the erection I concealed when he questioned my abrupt departure.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," I replied. "Just planning."
I watched him sleep. Waking him when sun burning through the window wasn't
enough to stir consciousness. My parents already left for work.
So the plan was, we'd go back to school to tell Victoria and she could come
too if she wanted. Only, thing is, one of Ms. Valdez's students saw us from the
school bus and told her. She had ample time to prepare for our arrival.

They caught us in the schoolyard
The Principal,
Ms. Valdez waiting
taking him kicking
buck teeth ripping clenched hands that stopped us
from breaking loose
arms locked for one last pact
to stay together
if only in the mind.

11 years past and I have moved back to my childhood home. A hand-drawn portrait with
these words sit on an alter to Shango template poems I never wrote or finished.
Candles cast shadows on his image, some nights

When I think about the Angel I've become
the angels I've replaced him with
or what if we would have run in the other direction
Black wings fleshing out metaphors
wondering what happens when I finally figure it out.
Why I can't seem to love like that again
Why I believe I can
And eternal

is a flame on liquid wax
A CD scratched
on an angle of song
Waiting for the wick to burn

We all want to be towering infernos
Pray flame catches something before we die
He is still flickering in my eyes
Am burning on air

(c) 2000, peter of the earth

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Late-night Journalism?

I hesistate to call it journalism - though I guess, technically, it is - but last night I wrote up what is now my second favorite contribution to Buzzscope, surpassed only by my Charlie Huston interview (primarily because that was in person and over beers).

Check it out:

In the Scope: Speakeasy Shakes Things Up
Diamond’s stricter policy on pre-orders causing ripples throughout the industry

"The independent comic books are just not selling well right now (look at many peoples’ sales)," [Speakeasy publisher, Adam] Fortier conceded. "Printers are changing their policies, Diamond is changing their policies; it means we have to think outside the box and offer alternatives."
I'm still kind of blown away how this whole comic book thing started off as such a lark, but barely a year later, I'm getting at least as much creative satisfaction from it as I did from my first couple of years on the poetry scene. And unlike poetry, I can actually see it leading somewhere. Where, exactly, I don't know...but certainly something more than a week at the National Poetry Slam and the potential 15 seconds of fame that comes with a victory there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You Say, "Promotion"; I Say, "No Vaseline?"

When is a promotion and an 11% raise an insult?

When you're still making less than the new hires with less experience and less responsibility.

I hate Corporate America!

And just because it's not American Express doesn't mean it doesn't suck.

Good night, Cleveland.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I've Been Infected

(Actually, a few days ago, but work's been kicking my ass this week.) This is the blog version of a chain letter Salomé "infected" me with. The point is to state 10 random things about yourself and "infect" ten others.

Here we go...

1) Despite the former poetry series, editing Buzzscope, and my apparently good reputation at work (see #2), I am one of the most disorganized people I know. My desk is almost always buried under piles of papers, most relating to jobs in various stages of incompletion.

2) I can't take a compliment. Makes me feel awkward and I never know how to respond. I'd much rather argue! As a result, I'm not so good at giving compliments, either. :-(

3) Despite my relatively liberal political beliefs, in many ways, I'm much more of a conservative.

4) If I won the lottery for a significant amount of money, after taking care of our basic needs - house and debt, mainly - I'd go into publishing, an eclectic mix of poetry, genre fiction and comics...and open a store/café to sell it all out of.

5) I have a habit of pinch/squeeze/rubbing my nose which I've recently wondered whether it was considered stimming.

6) I take India to school every morning on the subway on the way to work, and I love the smiles she puts on people's faces in the morning. I also like that it's an hour she and I share together, not really doing anything, but simply that we're together.

7) Isaac in Catholic School is becoming a bit annoying with the amount of unassailable religion he's being taught. How do you counter something like "Mary is the mother of us all" when it's being taught so matter-of-factly?

8) While Salomé believes her best feature is her hair, and just about everyone else would say it's her ass, while both are great, it's actually her smile that gets me the most. Unfortunately, I don't get to see it often enough some days. :-(

9) I just confirmed our NY Comic-Con after-party, one of our guests of honor, and may have snagged a panel session during the Con itself for PopCultureShock (aka Buzzscope). We are going to make a big splash on the scene next year. If only it were my day job!

10) All these years, a wife and two kids later, I'm still a night owl, much more effective after 3pm and into the wee hours than I am during the day. Note the time of this post!

As for infecting others, I'm not going to name 10 people, but I will poke Erech and RAC, as I'm curious whether or not they read this blog!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Brain Dump: Thanksgiving Edition

Turkey Day was as close to perfect as I could imagine; Salomé and the kids, a few friends, some good food, low-stress. Friday we hung out in Jersey, and Saturday and Sunday we chilled. Priceless!

Five things I'm thankful for, in no particular order (except for the first one):

1) Salomé, Isaac and India: Without them, I'd be a leaf in the storm.
2) Friends: Near and far, real and virtual.
3) Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: For demonstrating on a weekly basis that there is still plenty of good left in this world.
4) Comic Books: Because getting to the movies or reading a novel is an Olympian feat these days, and at their best, comic books are a perfect blend of the two.
5) My job: As much as I hate it most days, it's not American Express.

Five things I'm looking forward to, in no particular order:

1) Christmas: Believe it or not! For some reason, I'm not feeling particularly Scroogey this year. And our tree looks really nice.
2) January 2, 2006: When Buzzscope relaunches, a weight will be lifted from my shoulders and I can go back to simply enjoying comic books again.
3) Vs. Cards: I ordered a handful of specific cards this weekend and plan to whoop Danny's ass next time we play.
4) Next summer: If all goes according to our typically vague plan, we might finally get a taste of the life we went looking for in Virginia back in 2002.
5) Writing: Buzzscope and the blogs are cool and keep the motor lubed, but I'm really looking forward to being able to dedicate time to my own writing. One day...

Happy holidays!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I Ain't Saying She's A Golddigger...

Because she hooked up with this broke n****!

Happy 30th Birthday to my wife, Salomé! Go wish her well!

Monday, November 14, 2005


"Depression" is a strong word that I've always been loathe to use in reference to myself, but there's times when I can't really think of anything more appropriate. I occasionally hit these deep, extended lulls where I feel unusually anti-social and totally overwhelmed by life. The overwhelming side of things is often self-inflicted as "keeping busy" has always paralleled "drinking too much" with me, and as I've gotten older and a tad bit more responsible, the former has gotten much worse than the latter. (The latter has shifted more towards periodic bingeing.) Things to do and things to drink have both frequently served as filler for the emptiness - or the helplessness, perhaps? - I tend to feel at these times.

It used to be the poetry stuff that consumed all of my free time, and often went hand-in-hand with drinking too much, and nowadays it's the comic book stuff, though with significantly less drinking. I've already fallen ridiculously behind with my school work, and the Buzzscope stuff has been piling up as I'm trying to accomplish way more with the site than I reasonably can on my own. But I'm a control freak, you know?

Heading out tonight to 13 since Eric is in town, and that means a night of hard drinking and in-the-moment merriment that I will hate myself for tomorrow. The lack of self-discipline, specifically. And not just w/r/t the drinking, but generally speaking, the fact that I can knowingly go into something I shouldn't, and not just go in, but go in whole hog.

I took an online Asperger's assessment a month or so ago and wasn't completely surprised by the results. I had Salomé take it, too, based on how she perceived me. Her test came up with approx. 25 out of 150 matches; a relative blip. I hit 77 matches, much of it on stuff that she wouldn't have necessarily caught seeing as how well I've supressed those traits over the years in an effort to adapt and compensate. One of the things that particularly stood out for me was the whole anti-social aspect of Aspie's, how they're not typically good with other people, and how for me, alcohol has always been the key to my sociability, especially around strangers. It was more than a year before the first time I ever took a stage completely sober, and a relatively rare occurence in the years after that.

This, of course, isn't to say I have Asperger's Syndrome. It takes more than an online inventory to assess that. But I certainly wouldn't be surprised, and the idea makes sense when I think about it. I've been trying to avoid thinking too much about it, though, because it threatens to be an obstacle. The whole thinking something vs. knowing it. Knowledge is power, but it can also be de-powering, too.

So tonight, I'll do what I ultimately do best...drink the bad thoughts into oblivion and focus on the good stuff. Friends I don't see often enough, a wonderful family waiting for me at home, and the hope that the light at the end of the tunnel is real, and not just another ill-fated traveler's discarded lantern.

Yay, winter! :-|

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Seeing the Good in the Bad...

A day that includes having pee all over your t-shirt and leaving a movie early to run out and buy a change of clothes for one of your kids - India, not Isaac; don't want to give him a bad rap! - usually doesn't get filed in the good memories section of your brain.

But then you get a glimpse of how good it actually was and it puts everything into perspective:

Thanks, Dan!

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

"How Are You Doing?"

"Why Haven't You Called?"

"Did you get my email?"

"When are you going to hang out next?"

"Come on! It's only for a few hours!"

I get some version of one or all of these questions all the time, and the same way people don't really mean "How are you doing?" when they ask, "How are you doing?", I usually give some half-assed excuse of being "too busy" or "too tired" as an answer every time. It's not that it's untrue, because I usually am "too busy" or "too tired" at any given moment these days, but it's the details I tend to avoid.

I realized a week or so ago that in the past year, I've dramatically scaled back my social life to the point that, other than Dan and Xia who now live next door, I frequently go weeks without speaking to (or in many cases, even emailing) the majority of the people I consider friends. Salomé just posted a sobering account of our typical day, and seeing it spelled out is rather depressing, in a "Why the fuck are we killing ourselves like this?" kind of way. American Dream, my ass!

Anyway, a quick update for those of you wondering:

1) Westchester poetry gig went well, though Zork exaggerates quite a bit on my performance which I felt was rather flat. The bad weather didn't help any, but the handful of people that turned out seemed reasonably entertained, so it certainly wasn't a disaster. Nevertheless, if I perform again any time soon - a consideration which Zork literally browbeat out of me! - I'm going to have to make a point of hitting an open mic or two and shaking the rust off beforehand.

2) Things at Buzzscope are moving along pretty smoothly as I continue to develop an editorial staff that I won't feel embarassed to be associated with. ie: The fucktard I gave the boot a few weeks back - in an email exchange that ranks up there with the best of Guy vs. Keith, minus Keith's intellect - popped up with a column on The Pulse, one of the few comics sites left from which he hasn't been either outright banned or burned bridges with, and got ripped in the talkbacks as someone posted a negative comment he made about his new editors on his MySpace blog. (The internet is a wonderful place, no?) Ironically, the column is exactly what he was going to do for Buzzscope before he imploded, and after seeing the first installment, I'm glad it never had a chance to run with us!

3) Eric's in town next week, which means the band will get back together at some point for drinking and other obnoxious behavior. "Lock up your children and sedate your wives..."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NOT Like Riding a Bike

There's plenty of things you can go back to after years away - particularly stuff that's bad for you like smoking, and poetry slams - but school definitely isn't one of them. Another weekend, another cram session, made that much more stressful by a week laid up with something flu-like and all day yesterday taken by Isaac's 5th Birthday party.

The party was worth the delay, though, as Isaac had a blast with his first birthday/costume party, and even India got in the on the fun.

What? I used to own the real thing! :-P

Now, back to the unrelenting dungeons of higher - as in, "What was I smoking?" - education...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Like a bad penny...

Me and poetry, together again for the first time in ages!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 @ 7pm
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
3105 East Main Street
Mohegan Lake, NY 10547
Helping Zork bring poetry to Westchester. Cover: FREE!

This is right near where I graduated High School, so I'm paranoid I'll bump into someone I once knocked on the door of during my two-year stint as a Jehovah's Witness! How times have changed...

Monday, October 17, 2005

MEMO: Co-Worker, Two Cubicles Over


I'm sick and tired of hearing you constantly reference your Greek heritage like a leper explaining his lesions.

On every single phone call.

Don't blame Greek culture for your inability to communicate with people in a respectful, civil manner. It's not a Greek thing, it's a YOU'RE A SOCIALLY MALADJUSTED IDIOT WITH EXTREME SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES thing!!!

Stop it now!

And I don't want to hear any more about your terminally ill "roommate" you played lovelorn caretaker for when his family turned their backs on him for "being a loser." I'm really starting to think he stepped in front of that train to get away from you, not his illness!

Why you feel the need to tell this story several times a day to every person you're on the phone with, I'll never understand.

And it was almost TWO YEARS AGO!






Sunday, October 16, 2005

Holy Cow!

Just finished polishing off the first draft of my first official paper of the semester, for my Schooling in America class. Like 5 minutes ago, at 1:45am, when the last of 9 pages came out of the printer. Because I tend to edit as I go along, and do most of my research as I'm writing (thank god for Google!), it's really more like a second or third draft. We'll see what I think about it in the morning (well, later this morning) when I read it through with fresher eyes to see if it all makes sense, but I have to say I'm feeling a nice burst of energy right this minute that's not just from the two cups of coffee I had a couple of hours ago to keep me awake.

If this one is as close to finished as I think it is, and I can polish off my other paper - a presumably easier artist's interview with an artist I've yet to identify! - I'm thinking I'll be all right this semester after all and that going back to school wasn't a presumptuous mistake on my part.

Because in all seriousness, I was having my doubts this morning. I mean, yesterday morning. :-/

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Rare 2005 Political Moment

In the 2004 Presidential election, Bush wasn't the only winner. Apathy struck a critical blow, too, in the non-action of the 40% of those eligible to vote who chose not to. Pretty much broke my spirit, even with accepting that not voting can be considered a vote in and of itself, as opposed to the more cynical "silence = consent."

Anyway, I received an email this morning from the Working Families Party, asking members to support Fernando Ferrer's bumbling Mayoral run the old-fashioned way...with cash. Of course, I wasn't terribly pleased...

--- "Dan Cantor, WFP" wrote:
This time, we urge you to directly back the WFP-endorsed candidate for Mayor, Fernando Ferrer. He needs and deserves your support.

Dan, et al,

While Fernando Ferrer may NEED my support, I hardly think he DESERVES it, especially not simply because he's running against a solid incumbent with deep pockets.

I supported Ferrer in 2001, when he seemed to actually stand for something concrete, but this time around, he's pushed me to the sidelines as he's become little more than a figurehead for the business-as-usual Democrats. Frankly, I am disappointed in WFP's endorsement which, because it didn't have the 2/3rds support necessary to award him the party's ballot line, comes off as seeming rather wishy-washy. Better to have simply stayed out of the race this time around.

If the election were held today, Mayor Bloomberg would receive my vote without hesitation. If Ferrer wants to change that, he needs to stop complaining about Bloomberg's bank account and focusing on non-issues like his "snub" of Harlem, and instead take a good look in the mirror and start talking clearly about what HE stands for, not against.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
Bronx, NY
I now return to not giving a fuck.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

"Excuse me, but, we are learning something here."

I've often thought of my life as being similar to a roller coaster, not just as a reference to its severe ups and downs and twists and turns, but also to the voluntary aspect of it. We get on them on purpose to experience the rush, and I've often been similarly accused of doing things for the thrill, for something to write about.

These days, the roller coaster metaphor doesn't quite work, as the present ups and downs can't be considered a voluntary thing. Not even the overloaded extracurricular schedule, which is as much a coping mechanism as anything else. When I get stressed, I don't generally break down, but instead tend to take on even more. It's like when I was in the Army, at the peak of my physical conditioning and running everyday, the more tired I'd get, the harder I'd push myself to get across the finish line. Didn't matter if it was a 2-mile run, or 5-miles, or a 25-mile march. As a result, I'd often pull a muscle or twist an ankle for pushing too hard past my limits. But I always crossed the finish line.

So here I am now with a voluntarily overflowing plate heaped high with a hectic job (which I hate more and more with each passing day), increased responsibilities over at Buzzscope, and negotiating 12 college credits in my "free time." That'd be a lot for a single person, but it's borderline insane for a married person with two kids. Unless, of course, he's pushing himself beyond his limits to spread the stress out...

"Excuse me, but, we are learning something here." is from a comment the wonderful Christina Springer left over on Salomé's blog in response to a post about India's most recent [involuntary] ride on the Autism roller coaster. She has good days and bad days, and where even the good days can be tough sometimes, the bad days are heartbreaking.

But, as Christina noted, every one of those days we're learning something. Whether it's India learning to communicate better; or Salomé and I having to dig a little deeper to translate her needs on those days she can't do it herself; or making sure she always knows we're fighting for her and believe in her; or ensuring we're not shortchanging Isaac who in so many ways is a little rock we both lean on, even if he doesn't realize it -- every single day is a learning experience.

But it's a tiring one, too. And some days the small victories pale in comparison to the larger battle we're facing, and it can be overwhelming. This morning, Salomé mentioned a woman on a message board she's on that's been talking about giving up her autistic child[ren?] for adoption to someone better equipped to handle the situation. How she's found herself sitting on the couch staring blankly ahead for hours as her kids go unfed, and can't snap out of it.

And the thought of that struck me as one of the most tragic things I'd ever heard.

There is no feeling I can imagine worse than a sense of helplessness when it comes to your children. A feeling so deep-rooted and all-encompassing that giving them up not only seems reasonable, but is quite possibly the right thing to do.

I never want to come anywhere near that feeling.

Thankfully, our little family is strong. In some ways, I'm starting to think our time in Virginia was as bad as it was to prepare us for this. Virginia bent us, almost to the breaking point, but we held on and survived it. Whereas Virginia preyed on our weaknesses, though, autism is attacking our biggest strength - our love for our kids. Because of that, I know we'll survive it, too, no matter how stressful it gets, no matter what else we might have to sacrifice.

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant." --Horace

or, as Christina Springer put it: "Excuse me, but, we are learning something here."

Saturday, October 1, 2005

I'm the G*ddamn Editor!

Yes, it's official.

As of today, I've taken over as the Senior Comics Editor for Buzzscope.

"Who the hell are you anyway, giving out orders like this?"
"Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman!"
Check out my table-setting column here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Just a final reminder about Saturday's WALK NOW, and a huge THANK YOU to everyone's who's donated so far. We're just under $1800 right now, which is pretty damn incredible, but wouldn't it be great if we broke $2000?

Does this help?


Seriously, though, even $5 makes a difference, so if you can swing it, please do.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Glutton for Punishment

Quick update...

School is taking some time to fall into place as I get used to the pitfalls of independent study. I've never been particularly good at self-discipline but if I get through this, it'll only be because I got better at it.

Of course, because I like to make things as tough as possible, I went and added a little extra to my already overloaded plate. Effective October 1st, I'll be taking over as Senior Comics Editor for Buzzscope.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Good times.

In other news, for those paying attention: Salomé revealed. Read #21 for everything you might want to know about India's autism that I haven't been able to communicate.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Stars are Aligning, Perhaps?

My horoscopes this week seem to be trying to tell me something. But what, exactly?!?!

Hello Guy,
Here's your Sept 14 horoscope.
If you have been thinking about making some big changes in your career, Guy, today you are likely to receive some real insight into what you should do. You may discover that you do not need to change careers after all. Maybe a new job would satisfy you. Or, better yet, perhaps you could remain in your current job and just change your responsibilities. Sometimes little changes can reap huge rewards.

Hello Guy,
Here's your Sept 16 horoscope.
Today you could be considering a new career path, Guy. You might be concerned with cash flow right now. You could be a little frustrated as you work on your budget. Try to focus on practical solutions. Maybe you could ask for a raise at work. Or maybe you'll want to consider doing some consulting on the side. There are many short-term solutions to this situation. So don't let your worries get the best of you!
Interestingly, I found out yesterday that I'm no longer in the running for what was a long-shot dream job that came out of left field a few weeks ago. Also found out that my long-delayed promotion (aka, something resembling a legitimate raise reflecting the extreme change in my job responsibilities since I started 2.5 years ago!) has nothing to do with which and how many magazines I'm working on, as I was initially led to believe, but on my being more proactive. Proactive apparently meaning going ahead with projects that won't be acted on, simply to spend the money in my budget. Catch-22, anyone?


Monday, September 12, 2005

What was I thinking?

One of my classes, the 2-credit one, was cancelled, so I have three classes "starting" today. In the introductory notes for each of them, it's suggested that students allocate approx. 12-15 hours/week to the readings, discussions and assignments. That's 36-45 hours/week?!?! Where does that time come from exactly?


Someone's about to get a crash course in Time Management for Overextended Dummies.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

First Day of School, Part II

All good. Details later, pictures now.



Let's go...


Wednesday, September 7, 2005

First Day of School, Part I

You expect there to be some tears on a day like this, your kid's first day of school. Today, it was India's, and while I didn't expect her to have too much of a problem with it - especially since we took her in, hung out for a bit, and picked her up - I figured Salomé might get a little emotional. I certainly wasn't expecting Isaac to be the one to lose it, though! India's been his partner in crime since she was born, from the initial weeks at home with Salomé in Virginia; to the first couple of months back in NY, home with me; to the previous and current daycare providers, they've always been together. This morning, it hit him that they were separating and it hit him hard.

"I'm going to miss my sister!"

He was genuinely torn up and it was both a sad and heartening moment. I've often wished I had a sibling I grew up with so closely.

India took to her new school like it was nothing, as much a testament to how far she's come in the few months since she was diagnosed as autistic* and, specifically, the effectiveness of the ABA therapy. Watching her bond immediately with her teacher, Maddy - or is it Mattie? - and exploring the classroom so fearlessly left a shit-eating grin on my face, the kind of reaction I often find myself supressing whenever her progress really stands out, for fear of getting my hopes up too far.

All in all, an extremely positive day. (It'll be interesting to see what Salomé says, as she's blogging at the same time I'm writing this.)

Tomorrow, Isaac vs. the Crucifix. Should be interesting.

*Does one "have" autism, or is one simply autistic? It's a question Salomé and I disagree on, and something I find particularly fascinating. To me, you "have" cancer, or diabetes, but autism is something that becomes definitive. Like schizophrenia, or senility, etc. Neurological disorders seem like a completely different animal from biological ones.

I love The Onion.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Barbara Bush is an idiot.

Barbara Bush: Relocation 'working very well' for poor

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," [Barbara Bush] said during a radio interview with the American Public Media program "Marketplace." "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Monday, September 5, 2005

Sorry, Mom.

Time Management for Dummies

Most normal people - those not in a position to dump their 9-to-5 job in favor of spending more time with their kids, or pursuing an artistic passion, etc. - faced with too much to do and not enough time to do it, simply make do, usually by sleeping less.

Insane people, however, add even more to their already crammed plate. Like, say, going back to school.



Inspired by Salomé's completing her last assignment on Friday and unofficially becoming a college graduate, as well as an email last week informing me that my original registration from a couple of years ago was still good, I finally decided today (Sunday) that I was ready to go back and finish my own degree after a nine-year hiatus. Online, via Empire State College. I enrolled for four classes starting September 12:

Introduction to Guided Independent Study (2 cr)
Artistic Expression in a Multicultural America (4 cr)
Schooling in America (4 cr)
United States Labor History (4 cr)

Haven't decided specifically what my Area of Study will be yet, but I'm leaning towards Cultural Studies, possibly with a concentration in Journalism, which would practically be coming full-circle as that was one of a couple of majors I was leaning towards way back in High School, before I decided that knocking on doors to talk about God was a better idea.

Who knew?

And now, sleep. Possibly one of the last times I go to bed this "early" for the next two-and-a-half years!

Saturday, September 3, 2005

"If we were lucky, we would have died."

Council president lashes out

An outraged New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas blasted the city of Baton Rouge and other Louisiana communities for what he called refusing to take in refugees from the devastated city.

"They don't want them," Thomas said, after bursting into the press room at the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge."They have put out the word all over the state: 'Those bad New Orleans people. You don't want them.'"

Since the beginning of the aftermath of Katrina, Thomas has constantly said that the images on television of looters and reports of terrorizing by bands of young men have been misleading. "Not everyone from New Orleans is a thug," Thomas said.

While Texas, Arkansas and other states have been "neighborly," Thomas said, Louisiana parishes have been slow to welcome the New Orleans evacuees due to "myths" that they are dangerous.

Dressed in his work boots and jeans, Thomas said that a busload of New Orleans evacuees, about 200, were stopped by National Guardsmen in Baton Rouge on Saturday and told they could not get off.

"These were women and children," Thomas said, his voice shaking. "There were welders, teachers, one lady was a court administrator. ... One of the ladies said, 'If we were lucky, we would have died.'"

Thomas said "rumors" of violence in the New Orleans streets are scaring rescuers and slowing evacuations. "There are people in their attics right now," he said.

Mayor to feds: 'Get off your asses'

From the transcript of WWL correspondent Garland Robinette's interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Thursday night.

WWL: ...apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be.

NAGIN: Really?

WWL: I know you don't feel that way.

NAGIN: Well, did the tsunami victims request? Did it go through a formal process to request?

You know, did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important?

And I'll tell you, man, I'm probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.

WWL: You and I will be in the funny place together.

NAGIN: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.

Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.
Ray Nagin. Hero.

Friday, September 2, 2005

"They are spinning and people are dying."

New Orleans mayor lashes out at feds

...In the radio interview, [Mayor Ray] Nagin's frustration was palpable.

"I've been out there man. I flew in these helicopters, been in the crowds talking to people crying, don't know where their relatives are. I've done it all man, and I'll tell you man, I keep hearing that it's coming. This is coming, that is coming. And my answer to that today is BS, where is the beef? Because there is no beef in this city. "

Nagin said, "Get every Greyhound bus in the country and get them moving."

Nagin called for a moratorium on press conferences "until the resources are in this city."

"They're feeding the people a line of bull, and they are spinning and people are dying," he said.

"I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, or it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get ... on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now," Nagin said.

"They thinking small, man, and this is a major, major deal," he said.

"Get off your asses and let's do something."

The mayor said except for a few "knuckleheads," the looting is the result of desperate people just trying to find food and water to survive.

Nagin blamed the outbreak of crime and violence on drug addicts who are cut off from their drug supplies and wandering the city "looking to take the edge off their jones."

Nagin is in his first term as mayor. He was sworn in May 2002. A Democrat, he was a popular reform candidate who promised to clean up the city's political corruption. He's a former cable company executive.

"Commandeer Greyhound."

Buses and gas

BATON ROUGE - State Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, made an urgent plea Friday morning for gasoline and buses to ferry victims to safety who have been stuck in New Orleans under deteriorating conditions since Hurricane Katrina struck the city four days ago.

"If you want to save a life get a bus down here,'' said Carter, whose district includes the French Quarter. "I'm asking the American people to help save a wonderful American city.''

Her voice cracking with emotion and her eyes bloodshot from fatigue and distress, Carter said pledges of money and other assistance are of secondary importance right now to the urgent need for transportation.

"Don't give me your money. Don't send me $10 million today. Give me buses and gas. Buses and gas. Buses and gas,'' she said. "If you have to commandeer Greyhound, commandeer Greyhound.

"If you don't get a bus, if we don't get them out of there, they will die.''

New Orleans? Or Baghdad?

via The Interdictor, a "journal [which] exists to share firsthand experience of the disaster and its aftermath with anyone interested."

"Bigfoot" is a bar manager and DJ on Bourbon Street, and is a local personality and icon in the city. He is a lifelong resident of the city, born and raised. He rode out the storm itself in the Iberville Projects because he knew he would be above any flood waters. Here is his story as told to me moments ago. I took notes while he talked and then I asked some questions:

Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area.

It's been 3 days, and the buses have yet to appear.

Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

There are many infants and elderly people among them, as well as many people who were injured jumping out of windows to escape flood water and the like -- all of them in dire straights.

Any attempt to flag down police results in being told to get away at gunpoint. Hour after hour they watch buses pass by filled with people from other areas. Tensions are very high, and there has been at least one murder and several fights. 8 or 9 dead people have been stored in a freezer in the area, and 2 of these dead people are kids.

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area -- Saulet Condos -- once they tried to get cars from there... well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.

He reports that the conditions are horrendous. Heat, mosquitoes and utter misery. The smell, he says, is "horrific."

He says it's the slowest mandatory evacuation ever, and he wants to know why they were told to go to the Convention Center area in the first place; furthermore, he reports that many of them with cell phones have contacts willing to come rescue them, but people are not being allowed through to pick them up.
I have "Bigfoot"'s phone number and will gladly give it to any city or state official who would like to tell him how everything is under control.

Addendum: Bigfoot just called to report that "they" (the authorities) are cleaning up the dead bodies at the Convention Center right now.
Also, don't forget The Times-Picayune's updates.

R.I.P.: Angela Boyce

I just saw on a couple of blogs that Angela Boyce passed away.


Hadn't seen or spoken with her in a few years, but when I first met her while doing a couple of gigs in San Diego - back in 1999 or 2000? - she was one of the sweetest, most sincere, not to mention flat-out talented, poets I'd ever met. Bumped into her a couple more times after that, and the one thing that always struck me about her was that she never dwelled on her disabilities. She was stronger than most able-bodied people.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hard to believe

...that we were just in New Orleans barely a month ago.

From Phil West:

If you're still reading me, you're probably depressed enough (and if you're not, you've likely moved on from Katrina), but this just in from my brother's friend, who is on National Guard duty at the Superdome.

He's run out of cigarettes, three kids were molested in the bathroom and then 40 people nearly beat the molesters to death, eight women have been raped, and people are singing gospel songs (but he hasn't been able to confirm yesterday's suicide in the Superdome). Basically, he's in hell.

Also, there was a rumor of a SHARK SIGHTING on Napoleon and Causeway.

How's your day going?
And from Salomé:

Been watching CNN over by H. most of the day. From the guy who saved the family that was trapped in the car that was surrounded by GATORS to the woman who slowly walked 2 miles with her husband's dead body on a raft because he'd suffocated to death when the oxygen tank he's hooked to emptied and they couldn't get any help for him, this is as sad to me as the Tsunami. Knowing that weeks from now when the waters recede, they'll have to level at least 50% of the city makes it so much worse.
Also, The Times-Picayune is keeping a steadily updated [b]log of stories on the disaster, in New Orleans and everywhere else:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My Sanctum Sanctorum

Among other things, that's a signed/numbered photo of the Oct. 9, 1977 fight between Graig Nettles and George Brett up on the wall, and a Nettles autographed baseball in the box on the lower shelf. The boxing glove is the runner-up trophy we got from the 1999 National Poetry Slam, which I hold in slightly higher esteem than the 1998 Championship trophy because 1999 was my team, from my venue. The Moon Knight figurines and the Buddha are what pass for totems. The stamper in front of the Buddha says: "Aspire to Be"

The books are, from left to right: Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud; Gotham Central: Half a Life TPB, Greg Rucka & Michael Lark; the Dictionary; Blankets, Craig Thompson; Writing New York: A Literary Anthology; Project: Superior, AdHouse Books; 100 Girls: The First Girl, Adam Gallardo & Todd Demong; What a Long, Strange Strip It's Been, Keith Knight; No Plot? No Problem!, Chris Baty; The Batman Handbook, Scott Beatty; The Writer's Book of Wisdom: 100 Rules; Black Images in the Comics, Fredrik Stromberg.

I'd much rather be sitting there writing than anything I currently do from 9-to-5.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

R. Kelly Has Lost...

his damn fool mind!

What in the hell was that?!?! Chuck? Rufus? Cathy? Anybody...?


Meanwhile, back on Earth, Shakira? I felt like I was cheating watching that performance. H.O.T.T.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Who's the writer?

I find it funny - though not the least bit surprising - that my wife, who won't so much as let me read the papers she writes for school, has finally started an anonymous blog, and in the few posts she's written so far, expresses more honesty and raw emotion than I have in my own writing in years. Perhaps ever.

Sure, the anonymity makes it a bit easier, but more than that, there's the noticeably deeper connection she has to her feelings that I seem to lack. I'm more of an observer, never able to completely live within a moment, more likely to show emotion over a football game than something that's actually important. We half-joked at one point that maybe I had Asperger's Syndrome, the kind of late-term realization that's apparently not uncommon amongst parents of autistic children. My relatively social childhood wouldn't seem to match up with that diagnoisis, though.

Maybe I'm just a big jerk?

(Shut up! That's a rhetorical question.)

PS: Don't ask me where her blog is. She's only told a select handful of people and wants to remain as anonymous as possible with it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

1 in 166...

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate, form relationships and interact with people. Few disorders are as emotionally or financially devastating to a family. Over the last decade, the incidence of autism has increased from a rate of 1 in 2,500 children to 1 in 166, some experts say. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is now the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States.

Speaking of movies...

Penny Marshall
Your film will be 71% romantic, 41% comedy, 32% complex plot, and a $40 million budget.
Your romantic comedy-drama of a life is now in the hands of Laverne. We almost put Ron Howard in this spot, but we figured you wouldn't want the part of your dad played by Ron's little brother Clint (who's in EVERY one of his films). Penny will hire Squiggy, instead. She directed A League Of Their Own, Big, Awakenings, and Riding In Cars With Boys among few others.

Your test tracked 4 variables. How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 97% on action-romance

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 82% on humor

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 29% on complexity

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 55% on budget
Link: The Director Who Films Your Life Test written by bingomosquito on Ok Cupid

Best Movie Review Ever.

Roger Ebert on Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 8/17/05

A light week, partly due to not much new of interest on the shelves, plus the fact that I was busy working on my script! Have I officially crossed the line from objective pundit to subjective peer? The latter, of course, in the loosest sense imaginable.

Runners: Bad Goods TPB
Someone needs to sign Sean Wang and let him devote 70 hours/week to telling this story, because Dark Horse's Star Wars comics shouldn't be the best-selling sci-fi on the shelves.

Superhero HC
From the mouths of babes: "It's not a comic book. It's a book!" A worthy addition to any child's bookshelf, sitting alongside any of Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak's best works.

Also, don't forget my two most recent features: the Charlie Huston interview, and Buzzworthy 2005: The Best Comics of the First Half of 2005.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

On Writing

Just emailed the first draft of my comic book story to Erech, the artist putting the aforementioned anthology together. Second draft actually, as I handwrote (!) the first draft during lunch last Thursday and did a lot of revising while typing it up. I like what I'm trying to do with it, but have no idea if I pulled it off, what with this being such foreign territory. In the immortal words of Charlie Huston: "I'm not fucking Joss Whedon! This is my first fucking comic book, motherfucker!"

Seriously, though, I was way more confident - though admittedly, wrongly so - in my first attempt at a screenplay than I was going into this. I innately get fiction and, for the most part, poetry, but comic book scripting is a very different animal. I knew that going in, of course, but the difference between thinking and knowing is huge. That said, it's nothing that would make me retract or alter any of the reviews I've done in the past. DEMO was still weak!

In other news, while buying school supplies for Isaac yesterday - writing that makes me feel sooo old! - I picked up this cool notepad at Target that I have designated as my Poetry Slam Notebook: Version 3.0. Don't know if anything will actually come of that action, but with the National Poetry Slam returning to the scene of the crime in Austin next summer, I'm feeling the slightest competitive tinge. We shall see, said the blind man...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sneak Peek

My interview with Charlie Huston, the novelist charged with reviving one of my favorite comic book characters from my earliest days, Moon Knight, should be going live at some point tomorrow. You can check it out here - In The Scope: Charlie Huston - now, though! I think it's the best interview I've done, ever, even better than any of the ones I did for the Poets & Writers article a few years back. (1999? 2000? I forget, but that's more than a few!) Much of the credit goes to him for being refreshingly candid and easy-going.

While Huston got me stoked for his take on Moon Knight, I can't really recommend anyone picking it up yet, especially since it's not out until February, but I can recommend his first novel, CAUGHT STEALING, an in-your-face crime thriller that reads like a set of salted brass knuckles to the mouth. Be warned, Huston loves the f-bomb and uses it liberally, both in his novels and in the interview. Mom, don't bother!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What is this "MySpace" thing?

Another Friendster, it seems, though its networking function suggests it might actually have some purpose other than as a kewl alternative to

Check me out!

Anywhoo, because I'm tired and in no mood to do any of the stuff I stayed home for today, I signed up for it!

Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Fun With Horoscopes

Every now and then, these things are eeriely appropriate:

Use Those Ideas

There is still a lot happening in your sign and in your personal life, Guy. The other great piece of news is that Mercury turns direct at the start of the week. This gives you the green light to go ahead with projects and ideas that have been on the back burner. You will feel a lot better now that you can move forward in confidence and get things moving. Venus moves into Libra on Tuesday, which is wonderful for any new commercial ventures you are involved with. If you have a lot of marketing, selling or advertising to do, it should all go very well. You will get a good return for your efforts. Wednesday is better used for developing new and wonderful ideas especially if you are involved in the media, or if you are an artist or musician. Grab those inspired thoughts from the sky and make use of them. They may further your career more than you realize. But don't promise anything you can't deliver, it is essential that you stay practical. There is a Full Moon in Aquarius on Friday, which is fun for partying and any kind of get-together. Just don't overreact to events - stay cool and have fun.
I forgot about the "Mercury in retrograde" thing last week, which would certainly explain some stuff!

In other news, my Buzzscope content is light this week as it took forever to finally transcribe the Charlie Huston interview - 17 pages! - and then edit it down into something that wouldn't make your eyes bleed from reading it online, so I didn't get to review any of the comics I'd intended to. The interview should hopefully go up later this week, though. In the meantime, the Buzzworthy 2005: Best Comics of the First Half of 2005 article that I spearheaded went up on Friday and is officially the most-viewed piece I've contributed to the site, already with over 3400 hits, despite the weekend being the least trafficked days for the site. Ironically, I disagree with several of the titles that made the list, but that's democracy for you! Several gems hidden in the honorable mentions, though.

In semi-related news, I checked out this store while visiting some friends in PA this weekend. Anyone in the Harrisburg area should definitely check it out, and everyone else with an internet connection should order one of their cool t-shirts. I bought the "I Have Issues" one!

PS: Don't forget, tonight @ 13 to celebrate my birthday. I'll be there around 7:30-8pm after stopping first at Botanica! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Insane in the Membrane

This has turned into an insane week!

Late Monday afternoon I found out I had to put together three PowerPoint presentations for the first day of our summer sales meeting, aka tomorrow, thanks to our Publisher's unexpected and, for all intents and purposes, immediate move over to our Conferences division, leaving our senior sales guy caught out there having to take over at the last second. Among the many things on the two-day agenda is a presentation on a new magazine we're launching in October that primarily lives in the no-longer-Publisher's head. Because I've been working on the marketing for it, I actually know more about it than the sales people, so I ended up putting it together. From scratch! Also had to put together the circulation comparision presentation for our regular titles, as well as my own marketing presentation. More PowerPoint in the past two days than I've ever done. They do look nice, though. :-)

Funny thing is, change #572 at the company - I'm on my fourth marketing director and now, my 7th publisher, albeit across several different magazines - has left me rather cold, not feeling the usual spark of "new opportunity" that's kept me there this long. Nevertheless, I'm approaching tomorrow as my last stand. If nothing significant changes after this, I may have to start looking around.

Sent my pitch for the comic anthology I mentioned the other day and got the go-ahead for it! Basically, it's an adaptation of a poem of mine, Mozer, Bethea & I, that also serves as an answer to a comic book I ripped a while back and caught some flak for. Figure I kill two birds with one stone, trying my hand at writing a comic story while answering the typical knee-jerk response to a bad review: "Why don't you try writing something yourself?" Those who can, do, right?

Some interesting doings behind the scenes over at Buzzscope, as Midtown makes a questionable decision that, while I disagree with, should give the site a bit more flexibility to be what it wants to be as opposed to what they want it to be. The downside is the potential for getting a 1099 that I could write off some of this stuff against is lost. Can't miss what you never had, though, so onward and upward! I still have a couple of ideas that may turn into a few pennies, though, so we'll see. Brainstormed some stuff with Jon that, if he and his group don't run with, I may go forward with myself.

Imagine that, right?

Still haven't had the time to transcribe the Charlie Huston interview from last week. 90 minutes of talking equals about three hours of typing! Any transcriptionists out there reading this? :-(

I try not to put it into concrete terms too often, so as to not get my hopes up too high, but she's definitely progressing at a noticeable rate. We figured out her vocabulary has gone from about 5-10 words a few months ago to 100-150 right now. A lot of them are simply repeated phrases she's heard, but she's doing a lot of labelling and recognition, as well as appropriately reactionary things like "Sorry." and "Ooops!" Two weekends ago, she finally acknowledged Maile, our friends Frank and Andrea's daughter, after actively avoiding eye contact with her, and this past weekend, she actually played with her! That was a major step, too.

Oh, and she's points at everything now! That was one of the most glaring symptoms when she was first diagnosed, that she didn't point at anything.

Funny thing is, the ABA therapy is only just now about to go full out. Up to now, it's been about gaining her trust, getting her to sit still for most of the session and understand basic commands.

Her school starts 9/12, but we couldn't get her the afternoon slot that would have been most ideal, so we need to figure out which of the other two slots make the most sense. One would require her waking up with us everyday around 6am to catch a 7am bus, while the other would mean a really late lunch everyday. Not sure which is worse, really.

Despite how much I resent the fact that we're stuck sending Isaac to Catholic School and had to drop $300 on uniforms this weekend, there's a little something I like about it, too. I think it's partly the sense of him starting school being a major milestone, like we got this far without breaking him! Of course, the first time he comes home and mouths off with something like: "You're not my father! Jesus is my father!" - there's going to be some serious problems!

Next Tuesday, August 16th, is my [deleted] Birthday! I plan on hitting 13 the night before, hopefully to help them celebrate their first NPS championship! Either way, it's me at 13 on a Monday night, up their with blue moons and snowy days in Miami. Come on out and wish me well!

Plus, don't forget we're doing the Cure Autism WALK NOW in October, and are raising funds here. A donation there would make for a nice birthday present.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 8/3/05

Wherein I talk about Women in Refrigerators, give away FREE comics, and use the phrase "balls-to-the-wall!"

El Arsenal: Unknown Enemy #1 (of 3)
El Arsenal has the kinetic energy and bombast of Robert Rodriguez’ earliest films, and as introductory issues go, it wisely opts for a few hard jabs straight to the eye instead of the drawn-out, rope-a-dope approach that plagues most mainstream comics these days.

Son of Vulcan #3 (of 6)
Screw Jason Todd, and Hal Jordan, and Bucky Barnes, et al. Make mine Mikey!

Karma Incorporated #1 (of 3)
Imagine David Fincher’s The Game played for laughs, and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark.

Detective Comics #809
As a follow-up to “War Games,” Gabrych does a solid job of giving just enough information to bring those who skipped it up to speed, and offers a Batman who lives up to his “detective” roots.

Sundown Arizona #1 (of 3)
Whatever’s happening in and around Sundown, the strength of this first issue isn’t in the plot, but in the characters, as Busbee balances the horror with just enough characterization and exposition to make it all work.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

A Request For Your Support

As you probably know, India was diagnosed as being mildly autistic a few months back. As a result, Salomé and I now know more about autism than we'd ever imagined needing to. Of course, the trick there is that there's still a lot that's not known about autism, from what causes it to how to "cure" it and everything in between.

Enter Cure Autism Now, "an organization of parents, clinicians and leading scientists committed to accelerating the pace of biomedical research in autism through raising money for research projects, education and outreach."

One of the ways they raise money is through WALK NOW, their "grassroots fundraising and awareness initiative uniting thousands of parents, children and families in a fun, friendly, empowering environment. The Walk is a 5K (just over 3 miles) with lots of water, food and fun along the route. And each WALK NOW event includes a Resource Fair. Parents can meet a variety of autism service providers while kids enjoy arts & crafts, moon bounces and other fun activities."

Salomé and I will be participating in NYC's WALK NOW on October 1, and ask that you show your support here by pledging whatever you can afford. $5, $50, $500...every little bit helps.


PS: If the above links aren't taking you to our page, try this one.

Story Ideas

Somewhat randomly, I've been asked to contribute a script to an anthology comic book by this guy, Erech Overaker, whom I know electronically via CBC and Buzzscope. He's looking for "...strictly slice of life, everyday kinda stuff, humorous dramatic ambient whatever. I want to show the other side of comics, you know?"

All things considered, it's a rather flattering request and I'm tempted to take him up on it, though I've never really given any serious thought to writing something for comics. I've joked about it, sure, but it's a tough form that I've come to have a much greater appreciation for since I started reading them again a couple of years back, and I have no illusions about being any good at it on the first pass. It's an intriguing challenge, though, especially when you think about the old "those who can, do; those who can't, review" saying.

Of course, the first hurdle is an idea, something that can work within 3-5 pages and offers some visual punch to keep from being the kind of navel-gazing indie crap I can't stand. It's kind of like going from judging slams for a couple of years to getting on stage yourself...intimidating, to say the least.

So, like NaNoWriMo last year, I turn to you, dear readers - all 5 or 6 of you still around! - for story ideas. What kind of story would make you curious enough to pick up a comic book? And no zombie tales this time! (Though I still want to revisit that particular exercise.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Fun With Reviews

I posted my aforementioned review of Combat Zone: True Tales of GI's in Iraq, Vol. 1 TP to yesterday, as I do with anything I review that they happen to sell, and have already received two emails about it from people not thrilled with what I wrote. (Mind you, in the 2+ plus years of reviewing stuff there, I've only ever received one email in response!) The first was from someone in the 82nd Airborne assuring me that Zinsmeister's stories were true, if combined, and was polite and straightforward in the process. The second one, not so much on the polite:

I am really pissed at your biased opinion of this Comic novel. Did you bother to research to see if the stories that were in the novel are in fact true to what took place?, were you there? I doubt it! So, why would you say "supposedly depicting real life accounts" And to compare it to the "Jessica Lynch" situation, come on!!
Karl Zinsmeisters Book "Boots on the Ground," had you taken the time to read, is a true and accruate report on the 82nds time in Iraq during the first part of the war. The comic novel is taken some of the stories from that book and brought it pictorally(all be it cartoon like) to life for me. I say that because my son is a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne and was there when Karl was embedded with them. From day one of Operation Iraqi Freedom for a year and then back again for last years elections, the stories that my son has told are the same stories that are in both the book and comic novel.
There is no way it could have been made up. "A disservice to the men"? how many did you ask before making that assumption? My son appreciates the work that Karl put into this, to tell the story as it was, not how the media wants us to see it.
The next time you write a review of something of this nature you should do your homework before making yourself look stupid and ignorant. Or maybe just stick to reading your imaginary character comic books, and leave the more mature ones to some one with better knowledge of what he is talking about.

A proud father of a Soldier
serving with the elite 82nd Airborne.
Of course, I responded:


Thanks for writing. As to my "biased opinion" - are there other kinds of opinions? - perhaps if you read my entire review, you'd see that I wasn't questioning the truthfulness of the accounts, but the presentation of them. By his own admission, Zinsmeister presents an amalgamation of stories which, in my opinion, undermines the credibility of the stories. Doesn't make them untrue, per se, but brings them closer to docudrama than the documentary he was aspiring to. The Jessica Lynch comparison was valid - again, in my OPINION - because the original story of her rescue was similarly edited for dramatic effect and dutifully reported as fact. Presented as a "true tale," if you will.

Finally, not that it should matter, but I too served in the Army, as a mechanic with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and though I thankfully never had to experience combat personally, I know quite a few people who have, both in the first Gulf War and the current one. Regardless of my feelings about the war itself, I extend my sincerest thanks and well wishes to your son and those he serves with, because I know personally the sacrifices that come with military service, in and out of combat. You have every reason to be proud of your son, but I'd suggest being a bit more open-minded when it comes to the opinions of others - biased as they always are - lest you do or say something for which he might feel less than proud of.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
Think he'll write me back? Think my ratio of "people found the following review helpful" is going to be a bit skewed? Think I care?

Best Looking Family Ever!

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Comic Book Stuff

With CBC on hiatus for a bit while I come up with a plan for what to do with it, I'll be pimping my Buzzscope writing here for the time being.

Weekly Reviews
Combat Zone: True Tales of GI's in Iraq, Vol. 1 TP
Whatever side of the ideological fence you may be on, there is some great story-telling potential in the concept, True Tales of GIs in Iraq. Unfortunately, whatever Zinsmeister's talents may be as a journalist, they do not translate into compelling sequential art.

Silent Dragon #1 (of 6)
Andy Diggle offers up a veritable buffet of a story that demands you return for seconds, setting the stage for what appears to be yet another exciting action adventure tale on his impressive resumé.

In the Scope: Sumerak Runs With the Pack
Marc Sumerak Proves "All Ages" Doesn't Have to Mean "Dumbed Down"

Plus, tonight I'll be having a couple of beers with Charlie Huston while interviewing him about his upcoming Moon Knight mini-series. I really need to figure out a way to do this stuff for a living!

Lost In The Dark!

There's something ironic about playing on a softball field sponsored by Con Edison that doesn't have any lights! Or maybe that's not irony, just stupidity?

The late game always sucks because somewhere around the 6th inning it starts to get dark and the ball is difficult to see in the field. Sucks more when the game before you is tied up and they go past your 7:15pm start time, meaning the darkness hits around the 4th inning. As a result, we lost in the bottom half of the fifth inning, 3-2, when the game was called on account of darkness. A lame way to go out, but we did have the proverbial fun. Started the game as DH before taking over right-center in the 3rd inning (despite my balky shoulder), and went 1-for-2, thrown out trying to stretch a long single into a double, getting an underwear-full of dirt in the process! My other at bat was a fly ball out with the bases loaded to end the 4th inning. :-(

The team that beat us, Those Guys, were undefeated coming in and had the strongest infield of any team we'd played, so losing 3-2 was one of those moral victories that you console yourself with over some cold beers and a half-decent jukebox. At least, that's what we did.

There's always next season!

Monday, August 1, 2005

Welcome to the Playoffs!

Actually, it's the second round, as we won last week's game, an 11-5 rout that we made more interesting than it should have been with a shaky last inning. After throwing out my shoulder in my previous game a couple of weeks ago, I played 1st base and was in on several plays, including three unassisted outs on pop flys. Went 2-for-3 at the plate, with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Overall, probably my best game yet.

Tonight, we'll all have to step it up as we're playing the only undefeated team in the league. Game's @ 7:15pm up at the Con Edison Fields on 16th & Ave C. Come on out if you're in the area and cheer me on!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

If It's Not One Thing...

It's another. And another. And another!

Thanks to our latest daycare fiascosituation, there's some big changes on the horizon, pretty much across the board. Fork in the road time, if you will, with pretty drastic consequences coming from either direction. Part of me wants to kill Rosa for flaking out on us in such incredible fashion - without even a phone call! - and part of me wants to believe this is the equivalent of my decision to move back to Miami when I got out of the Army crashing and burning on arrival, sending me back to NY and, ultimately, to the life I now enjoy.

One doors closes, three more open. I've always been pretty lucky that way, even if the hallways have been a bit treacherous at times!

Some of the smaller changes, which are the only ones I can really talk about right now, include my putting Comic Book Commentary on hiatus for the next few months while I rethink its purpose. Between it and my contributions to Buzzscope, which will continue for the forseeable future, I spend way too much time covering comic books to not be making any money at it! The gears are grinding, though, and I have some ideas. Unfortunately, they all hinge on the BIG changes we're looking at making, so it may be 2006 before anything comes of them.

India's therapy is progressing pretty well, pretty fast, with all signs pointing to her being able to go to a regular kindergarten when the time comes. Color me cautiously optimistic as some days are much harder than others, but the therapists obviously have way more experience with this than we do, and there's no question that things could be MUCH worse. I can't even read some of the stuff Salomé has come across - books, articles, blogs - because it depresses the hell out of me.

Isaac is definitely suffering a bit from the amount of attention India's getting, initially jealous that India's therapist was only playing with her and not him, too. The good thing is he doesn't seem to perceive there being anything "wrong" with India, and other than getting frustrated at times because she doesn't always want to play with him, he's been pretty good with her.

In other, Let's Go Mets! Let's Go Jets!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Our 7th Anniversary

Rereading that last post, it almost sounds like our vacation sucked, but that's just work filtering through and tainting my perspective. We had a great time, the most "quality time" we've had together since...hell, Spain in 2000, right before Isaac was born?

I was thinking about the past 7 years the other day, and what's changed since July 18, 1998:

1) Bill Clinton was President and was somewhere in the process of being impeached for the whole Monica Lewinsky psuedo-scandal. George W. Bush was Governor of Texas and netted $14 million from the sale of the Texas Rangers, a nice profit from his $600,000 investment...with borrowed money!

2) The first Gulf War had still not been officially declared over, and I was still in the NJ National Guard.

3) A month after our wedding, I was on the Nuyorican Poets Café's only National Poetry Slam Championship team, and had just started running a little bit louder a couple of months before that.

4) It had been just over a year since Batman & Robin had crippled the Batman movie franchise, seemingly forever, and several years since I'd last bought a comic book.

5) I'd never been to Mexico, Spain, Virginia, Texas, California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Chicago, Worcester, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle, or Washington, DC.

A whole lot of other things have changed, not the least of which has been myself. Despite being pretty sure I'd found the right person, I was far from sure that I was ready to get married at that point and our rocky first year certainly gave enough reasons to believe I wasn't. But Salomé believed I was ready, and sometimes someone else believing in you is enough to push you over the top, allowing you to do things you didn't think you were capable of. I have no doubt that I'm a better person today because of marrying her. Better, healthier and happier.

In many ways, seven years is a long time. I've now been a husband longer than I've done anything else consecutively, besides being alive. At the same time, in the big picture, it's barely a drop in the bucket.

Happy Anniversary to us, Salomé. Love you. So much! ;-)

Bourbon Street Stinks!

How come no one warned me? Bourbon Street at night is like everything I hate about Hoboken, magnified 10 times over, plus strip clubs! And it stinks like a mix of old alcohol and stale mop water. For all its unappealing skankiness, though, we did have fun people-watching the first two nights; and while I don't believe they're really 180 Proof, the Hand Grenade is a mighty tasty drink. ;-)

The French Quarter itself, and our trip overall, was a whole lot of fun. The humidity, as expected, was brutal at times, but for being on vacation instead of going to work, it was fine. On Saturday, we hooked up with both Phil West (in town for his brother's wedding) and my aunt Portia (who's living in Baton Rouge), and throughout the weekend did a lot of walking which probably limited me to only gaining about five pounds from all the eating!

It seemed like we were always eating, especially me and the oysters, what with them being so ridiculously cheap. Like $6.50/dozen at Felix's and $8/dozen at the Bourbon House, what ended up being our favorite restaurant of the trip. (The most amazing brunch I've ever had, and their beignets rivaled Café Du Monde's.) We had a great Sunday night dinner at the oddly named Alpine Restaurant, a happy little discovery while wandering in search of somewhere interesting for our last night's meal.


I hate tourists, and I especially hate the ones I see every day around my office on their double-decker buses like they're on safari. Nevertheless, we took a couple of walking tours, one Friday night - ostensibly a "haunted places" tour that was really more of a sightseeing at night tour - and a really cool one on Sunday afternoon, a combination of Creole history and "secret courtyards" that completely changed my opinion of the Quarter itself.

Much of Vieux Carre looks like it's abandoned because so many of the buildings are shuttered, especially on the residential streets, but because old New Orleans was such a skanky swamp with trash thrown right out onto the muddy streets, houses were designed in reverse, with elaborate courtyards hidden away from view in the "back" yards. We saw a few of them on the tour, from the simple to the elaborate, and perhaps the most amazing thing was how removed from everything you felt in them. In one, with noisy Bourbon Street only a half block away, it was like we'd taken a ride out to the countryside, it was so peaceful. Our tour guide - the wonderful Jenny; ask for her by name! - pointed out a lot interesting things, my favorite being the difference between the French and the Americans back in the day, as seen in the hidden courtyards of the Quarter vs. the flambouyant luxury of the Garden District.

We spent a lot of time walking up and down Royal Street, the Quarter's 5th Avenue to Bourbon's [pre-Giuliani] 42nd Street, since it runs parallel to Bourbon and doesn't stink, and I found the perfect location for a comic book store in the 700 block where an Importico was going out of business! There are a lot of galleries on that end of Royal and I could imagine a high-end, indie-centric shop with a gallery and an emphasis on trade paperbacks called Graphiqué. If only...

We also played our usual game of "could we live here?", spurred on by how relatively cheap rents - and, presumably, real estate - seemed to be there, what with these great apartments overlooking Jackson Square renting for $1700/month! The equivalent here in NYC would probably be something along Washington Square Park which typically rents for upwards of $3000/month, though with half the square footage! Of course, other than tourism, we were hard-pressed to figure out what sort of industry New Orleans had, though I'm pretty sure publishing isn't one of them. Probably a great place for single artists to live, though.

The return trip home was terrible, with our connecting flight from Miami delayed a couplafew hours and we ended up getting home close to 3am, in no condition to jump back into the daily grind so we both took yesterday off, too. Seeing India's scratched-up face from an ill-advised trip to the McDonald's playground with Isaac and her grandmother, where she had some kind of a run-in with another little girl, pretty much ensured that if we ever take another overnight vacation without them, it will have to include a drive down to Virginia to drop them off at my mother's place.

Of course, now there's the inevitable letdown that comes with returning to the reality of 9-to-5 drudgery, my patience a bit shorter, my resentment a bit deeper, and each email I read through fanning the flames a bit higher.

A change, as the song goes, would do me good...