November 22, 2010

Garbage -Self Titled Review.

A first here at the blitz; a music review. And right now you are saying "Aren't you suppose to be reviewing, oh I don't know. B-Movies?" and to that I say "Shut up jerk face and stop pointing it out!" Ha Ha...I'm such a character aren't I? No? Well screw you then. Anyway I decided to review the fifteen year old self titled debut album by Garbage.

Why this album? Well 1.) I just got it a few weeks ago and haven't been able to stop listening to it since, and B.) because like all old people I think my music is better then everything that came before or after it. Seriously, I think most stuff post 1998 is terrible. But this album is from 1995 so we are safely in bosom of awesome here.

And I already liked Garbage immensely. Shirley Manson's voice has almost a siren song like effect on me. It's smoky, sensual, feminine, and almost sexual. Her voice brings up emotions that no other singer does in my little male mind. It also doesn't hurt that she is a pale, red headed, water nymph that activates something deep in my Celtic blood about trying to preserve our people on the Earth. That's a poetic way of saying she makes me feel like when you climb the rope in gym class.

But what I'm looking at is the actual album here, so let's break it down song, by song.

1. Supervixen- Had a been a girl instead of guy in the 90's, I would have been rocking this song hard as my own little personal theme song. It's a great little song about a woman liking the attention given to her. Going even so far as telling the listeners to "Bow down to me." I love this song. It's just great to hear it, and even more so when you know that Manson had self image issues at one point in her life.

2. Queer- As far as I know this song has nothing to do with homosexuality, but it may have a double meaning I'm missing here. But it's more used in the "Strange" meaning. This was the first Garbage song I ever heard, and I loved it at the time and still do. I remember this video was really strange and all shot from the point of view of the guy in the video as Manson lead him around the house and then ended up shaving his head at the end.

3. Only Happy When it Rains- This was another single off the album and was probably the most successful one. I really identify with this song from time to time. That happens with a lot of Manson's songs, but more so off songs from this album then any of the others. When I get depressed I always listen to Garbage. It just captures the mood better then any other band in my collection.

4. As Heaven is Wide -This is only song I don't like off this album. You can really hear hints of the sound they adopt for their next album Version 2.0 here. That change of sound wasn't something I really liked and wished they'd stuck closer to their original sound with their follow up albums. I really wish they'd scraped this song and put the B-side #1 Crush on here instead. A song I've called the most romantic song I've ever heard before.

5. Not My Idea-This isn't one of the better ones of the album, but all albums have ones that don't measure up to the rest. That's not to say this one is bad. The verses are very good, it's the chorus that kinda ruins the song for me. Again, not bad...just not the best either.

6. A Stroke of Luck -This is a song you have sex too. Pure and simple. And I'm not talking about the Lucy and Ricki push the beds together kinda sex either. I mean the raw, you aren't thinking anymore, almost animal like sex. This should be playing in the background when you do that. It just has that kinda sound about it. Course maybe this is just in my warped little mind. This is one of the best songs off the whole album right here and one that not many have heard due to it not being released as a single. I'd never heard it before I bought this album and that's a shame.

7. Vow -This was the first single off the album. I never heard it myself, but apparently it was out there. This one also has a Version 2.0 sound to it, but not as much as "As Heaven is Wide" and still feels like it belongs on this album. Sometimes I skip this song, sometimes not. Depends on on my mood.

8. Stupid Girl -I loves this song. I really do. I know people like this, or sometimes just act like the girl in this song. And it describes them to a tee. This one was released as single here in the U.S. and had a video along with it. Garbage really had a good look with their videos early on that matched their sound and this one was no exception. Great song and one some of you reading this have probably heard before.

9. Dog New Tricks -This one reminds of Not My Idea, in that it doesn't stand out much. That might be unfair to this song though. It's better then "Not My Idea" , actually and I never skip it when I'm listening. It's just there are better song on here.

10. My Lover's Box- This is hands down my favorite song on this album. The verses, the chorus all fit together perfectly. Now I know you see the title and raise and eyebrow, but like Queer that's not what this song is about. A better title probably would have been "A Little Piece of Heaven." but they didn't call it that. I just love this song and sometime I'll listen to just this song and none of the others.

11. Fix Me Now- A good follow to My Lover's Box. It's not as good, but it's still good enough to start bringing you down for Milk, but not so down that it's jarring. It's a slower song that has the same kinda of feel and beat.

12. Milk- Great song to go out on. A nice slow song, but still keeping the mood of the album as a whole. In fact the last three songs couldn't flow into each other any better. I remember the video to this song being very white...I mean white, white. Like Pale Manson, in a white dress, on a white background and then someone oversaturated the whole thing. I find myself identifying with song a lot. Lyrics like "I am I am cruel." is really how I feel sometimes. It's a great last song and really makes you mello at the end of it all.

At the end of the day this is one of the best albums I own, and even with "As Heaven is Wide" I can listen to this thing all the way through, over and over again. If you put the remix of #1 Crush in there instead of heaven, I'd call this a perfect album. As it's still a Five out of Five.


November 8, 2010

Simon Says: The Future of Neverwas.

I didn't want to leave you guys one such a depressing note as I did with the last Simon Says:Retrospect. Instead I'm going to leave you with some info on what would have happened if Simon Says had continued, and also my commentary on web comics and why I think print comics are not only dead, but not a good thing from an artistic stand point.

First, I want to say I won't be spilling all the beans and the beans I do spill won't be anything really, really good like full scripts or anything. This is mainly cause I still have hope of Simon Says returning at some point. Probably won't be anything like the five comics you've seen in the past few days. I'd like to have an artist come in with a style dramatically different from what was done before. The strip its self would more likely be a total reboot. Characters would look different, maybe even act different (not that we got a chance to really see how they acted.) and I had planned to rewrite, and shuffle the order of the comics to bring in a different feeling as a whole early on. It would be more like Simon Says version 2.0, rather then a continuation of what has come before. The five comics that Dwayne drew would most likely be retired completely and I'd write a whole new intro to the strip. They'd become like KTMA. We know they are there, but they won't factor in it going forward.

So what would have happened? Well first let's talk about the cast. What you saw were my three first day creations. Simon Lamont, Liz Silvas, and Thaddeus “T-Bear” Smith. But as of right now there are seven Simon Says characters. That means there are four people you don't even know. So I might as well tell you all about them.

First we have Reno Lamont. Reno is Simon's older brother, by ten years to be exact. Reno comes to live with Simon and Liz at a point in their lives when they are very content and happy and of course spoils this. Reno however is just a harbinger of greater things to come, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I have a few friends that were not raised in the 80s as I was, but instead the 70s. Reno was going to represent these people in the strip in a way. He loves things like the Love Boat, or Greatest American Hero and disapproves of things like The A-Team or Knight Rider. Transformers suck and Micronaughts are the end all beat all. That's pretty much how he is.

Reno is also a constant thorn in Liz's side just by being Reno. He is also kinda pervert and is always trying to get the ladies (What ladies? There is only Liz isn't there?) of the strip into the sack, but as of yet none of them have caved in. Reno would have in a way taken T-Bear's place, although T-Bear would have never left, but instead was pushed back to smaller role.

Next is probably the most important character behind Simon and Liz themselves. Misery Daniels is Simon's ex-girlfriend from high school, who left Simon and the town behind after graduation. Now she has come back into his life. What's more is she may still have feelings for Simon. Of course her reappearance doesn't sit well with Liz at all. So you can see how that adds drama in there. Misery is also a failed musician, and is looking to take that up again.

Misery was created one night when I had fallen into a depression, as I do from time to time, and thus she will end up being one of the darker characters. This hasn't really come to the surface yet, but I've been slowly laying the ground work for it. She has problems and things don't really work out for her. In a way Simon is really the me I want to be, but Misery is more the me that I am. I don't want to know what Freud would think of me having a character based on myself, dating a character also based on me. Misery could be the main character of this strip if she wanted to, but it's hard to funny when you are as sad as she is.

I actually had visions of selling Team: Liz and Team: Misery T-Shirts at one point.

Then we have Zoe Dee. Zoe would be Misery's roommate. I went the cliche way and had her be kinda a slut. Sluts are fun to write, what can I say. I had considered going against type and making her a him. The problem I ran into then was that she'd be trying to get into Misery's pants a lot and that was something Reno was already going to do. Plus I needed more women in the strip. Thing is with Zoe is she really isn't a slut, it's a myth that she just never denied and like the attention it brings. Right now Zoe is nothing more then Misery's roommate, but I think she'll take on a greater and more important role as I go forward with her.

Willy Stewart is are final guy. I'll be honest, if the comic was to reboot Willy and T-Bear might become one and the same. Really neither of them has as big a role as the others do. Right now Willy is a guy that lives in the basement of Misery and Zoe's house. He believes in conspiracy theories and even makes up his own from time to time. Simon has kinda taken him under his wing, much to Liz's chagrin. His role is just to come in from time to time when I need him to make a really strange or crazy joke work.

Now that we know all the players I'd like to look at the story lines that would have come up. A lot of the first strips I wrote where one-off jokes. You come in, tell the joke, and get out. They have no connection to the other stripes before or after them. These are fine. They have their place. Hell the "Far Side" is nothing BUT one-off jokes. Thing is, as I wrote more and more the strips seem to flow into each other more and more so that we are starting to get actual story arcs. Because the first half of what I wrote is so heavy in One-Offs, and the latter is so heavy in arcs, I think I'd mix them all up now and move up introductions, so that we get important characters in there and moving as part of the stories going forward.

One major story arc was the "When Simon Met Liz" arc. I actually am considering getting rid of this. As I said when I first mentioned this in Simon Says Retrospect 001, I didn't create this story for the right reasons. I may one day want to tell how they met, but it'll be on my terms.

The next major story arc would have be "Simon Lamont in the 25th Century." This was a really silly strip that saw Simon frozen and waking up 20 years later. Of course he gets back, but it was just fun and silly and I pride myself on the fact that I didn't make a dream or something. Simon really went to the future and then came back to the past.

We get a small arc which introduces Reno, but then the big one was "Misery Loves Company" which saw Misery Daniels arrival on the scene. Misery is the character I want to move up the most. She is so important she should take T-Bear's place on that logo up there. We get a few more arcs that deal with Misery again after this, which add even more stress to the whole thing and play into Misery's downfall down to Morrissey level mellon collie.

That's the point I am at now. But I said I'd tell you what I thought of web comics and why I thought print comics were dead. So let's get to that and wrap this already too long post up.

There are a lot of reason I think print comics will be gone in ten years. One, newspapers themselves seem to be a dying breed. First the TV hurt them, and now the internet is going in for the kill. When the newspaper goes, so do the strips that are contained within. It's like trying to put movies on Laserdisc when DVD has already come out.

Print comics also limit what the writer and artist can do (which most of the time are the same person, but sometimes not) you have to follow the rules they lay down, keep your comic in the space they give you. They decide when your toon appears on T-shirt, or a coffee mug. Then if you don't write something a paper likes they drop you and you get yelled at. It's outdated system and not only that it's a stupid system.

That's why new talent that should be coming to replace the Gary Larsons and Jim Davies of the world are going to web with their creations instead. No one to tell you how to tell your story. You decided if your toon goes on a calendar or not, and if you do you get most of the profits. Your comic can be as big or small as you want to be. You only have to please the people that come to read and see what you put up. You don't have to deal with a publisher that doesn't "Get it" and thus shuts it down. If I wanted to send Simon & Company on a romp through a movie serial inspired sci-fi adventure for a month and half, I could do it. No one is going to tell me I can't.

Print is least as far as comics go. I think anyone that still wants to get into that market can't see the forest for all the trees. Would I like to see Simon Says right under Garfield? Yeah, but I'm not willing to sell my soul to do it. Not when I could probably make just as much money selling ad space and merchandise on my own web space and not have to change what I write to do so.

So that's the end. For now...I guess we'll see what the future holds. You may never see Simon Says again. That would be a shame, but it's sadly also possible if I cannot find someone that wants the same things I want out of life, understands what I am trying to do, and has the talent to be the Yin to my Yang...well as far as Web Comics go. But trust me, I'm trying. I just need a little luck, but like Misery...things don't tend to work out for me.


November 6, 2010

Simon Says 005: A Retrospect.

This was the most popular Simon Says, or that was how it seemed to me at the time. This was called "Nerf or Nothing" with the nothing being the electric bill. I think this one did so well because everyone has seen those Nerf Guns in the toy aisle and no matter how old you are wanted to buy them and then just lay a barrage of darts into someone. It's almost a primal base need. You can shoot someone, without hurting them. It's like murder you can't go to jail for. How can that NOT be fun?

Also I think the idea that someone would neglect their bills in order to buy this is also something that people can identify with. At one time or another all of us have put off a bill to buy or do something we really didn't need to. When these two things, that everyone has done, combine into one funny situation it seems to be a kind of magic.

Posted on Dec. 20 2009, this was the last Simon Says ever. Why did it end? I wish I could tell you, but the truth is I don't even know. I was never given a reason. They just stopped showing up on Facebook and by the Summer of 2010 I had given up seeing anymore comics and stopped sending what I wrote along. Was it because I was a hard to work with egomaniacal prick? Maybe. I didn't think I was, but I wasn't told one way or the other. It is possible though.

One thing I do know is that if I had even half the talent Dwayne did, I just would have kept going myself. So instead of lamenting the end of something that died before it ever got started, I'd instead be looking forward to the one year anniversary of the strip.Thing is I don't have that talent, and I know I don't. I know the limitations of myself.

Despite all the other projects I've worked on as a writer, I am still the most proud of Simon Says. It is my favorite. My baby. I never once had writer's block on it, or got sick of it and wanted to stop doing it.Writing it was like second nature to me, and I think that's why I still do it to this day. Sure some times I'd get depressed and think what was the point. Maybe even consider deleting everything I put down on paper and act like it never existed. But in the end I always ended up right back here. This was like home to me.


Simon Says 004: A Retrospect.

Before I start today I wanted everyone to know that New England Web Comic Weekend is...well this weekend. Might be too late to get tickets if you're in the area, but since you are reading this you may like web comics so it's worth a look see. If things had gone according to plan myself and Dwayne might have been attending this. Although that's a big might. It could have happened though, guess we will never know. Anyway here is the link to their official website:

New England Webcomic Weekend.

With that out of the way we move on to today's strip called "Lost in Translation." I consider this strip to be the first real success. A lot of people liked this one, and a lot people that had just sat back and said nothing before were now telling me how much they liked this one. I was pretty stoked after the positive feedback and went on to write a huge amount of comics in a short amount time after being propped up by the new found confidence that brought. It was after this comic that I really started to think about trying to save back the money to buy a domain and dedicated space for the comic to reside.

That of course would have been the first step into making any money off the comic. With that we could have sold ad space, and maybe had a few t-shirts or bumper stickers printed up and sold those through an E-store or something. And then of course the trade paper backs we could have had printed up and sold when we got enough comics to fill one. After covering the monthly costs and then splitting the profit down the middle with Dwayne 50/50, I figured making some money off this was better then making no money off this. And in studying other web comics like Penny Arcade or Shortpacked! I found one could actually make a living off doing this if they could get enough readers. I was very excited at this point. I thought a whole new world was about to open up and make life better for me and Dwayne.

I was wrong.

The comic its self is pretty straight forward. Pretty much anyone that's been in a relationship has had this happen to them before. Hell doesn't even have to be sexual relationship, but could be a friendship. This is all too common and I just put to paper what is happening almost everyday to couples someplace in the world. As every man in the world knows the words "I'm Fine." is not something you want to hear, and of course those guys want to know how that will effect their ability to get the booty. All of this was straight forward, but also honest and I think that's why people liked it so much.

This comic also shows what would be the theme of Simon Says had it continued. Geeks in Love. And this is a theme that I still use today on the rare occasion when I think of something funny and write it down in comic form. A normal, or as normal as could get with these two, relationship, but full of the odd pop culture references that only another geek would really understand.

Next we are looking at Simon Says: 005 "It's Nerf or Nothing." and sadly this was the last Simon Says ever made.


November 5, 2010

Simon Says 003: A Retrospect.

Before we start to today I just wanted to give out a link to original Facebook where these comics where first posted. You'll actually get more info on the strips themselves here, but just in case you're curious and want to look it over here is the link:

Simon Says Facebook Page

I'd also like to thank everyone that's been coming over and checking these out. The page view for the other two Simon Says: Retrospects have been the highest view counts I've had all year. Not talking millions of hits here, but a lot more then normal. Glad to see there is still some intrest in the comic, even if the likely hood of seeing more is almost non-existent at this point.

Anyway, on to the comic. Ah the "The Slackers of Hazzard County." I have no proof, but I feel this comic might have been the one that killed the whole strip. This is also the one that was called "Not Funny". And I'd say that funny is all part of your perspective. Not everyone thinks everything is funny. If you don't get it, you won't think it's funny. And this was a niche strip to begin with. Unless you grew up watching The Dukes of Hazzard like I did, this comic would just be a "meh" for you. So it's not likely that anyone over forty five or under twenty eight was going to get this one, thus they wouldn't think it was funny. But 28-45 was audience I was shooting for, so that would be a good thing.

That being said, I do think this strip had it's share of problems. The idea is sound I think. That Simon, having watched one too many episodes of Dukes of Hazzard as a child, comes up with a way to get away from the cops. The same way the Duke Boys had hundreds of times. If done right that could have been really funny. The idea was sound, but the end product maybe wasn't.

When I wrote it I actually thought it was too long. I also didn't know if people would understand that all that had happened was all in Simon's head and that he was never actually running from the cops. Dwayne added the "Meanwhile back in reality" caption to make this more clear. I even think I put in a note with the script that if Dwayne couldn't make this work to just skip it. Now, I would have taken this one out to polish it more, or maybe deleted it and used elements of it in later strips. That is now, with a 180 strips I could work in to take it's place if I did that. Thing is when I wrote this we had maybe ten scripts and I was trying to churn out as much content as I could in a short amount of time. So I sent this one along anyway. I'd actually love to take another crack at this one and see if I could make it work, but since you see it above I doubt I'll ever actually do that.

At the end of the day I'm sure there are people that think everything I wrote was "not funny", and there are those that thought everything was "funny". Then there were those that thought this was funny and this wasn't. Like I said it all depends on where you are coming from. I write stuff that I would think was funny and since I can't read people's minds or make everyone happy, that's all I can do.

Lucky for me, the next strip "Lost in Translation" was much better received and actually started an upturn in the strip where people were really starting to like what they were seeing and talking about the strips themselves. Sadly this came just before the comic's all too soon end. But we'll talk about that next time.


November 4, 2010

Simon Says 002: A Retrospect.

So now we come to Simon Says: 002 "Progress is Making Things Smaller." I'm actually shocked we didn't get more heat from the ladies with this one, and by heat I mean someone being mad and then Dwayne telling them I wrote it so I got all the hate mail. Didn't happen though. Maybe because it was so early on and hardly anyone was looking at this one.

At the heart of this one really is my dislike of when women wearing huge white cotton granny panties. (Although I know the ones in the comic are pink.) There is a time and place for giant white granny panties and it's not in your twenties or thirties. They are called granny panties for a reason ladies. And now I've just made sure I get a second chance at hate mail. Although I'm sure there are women out there that don't like their men to wear tightey whiteys, or those boxer brief things, but I doubt you'd call them sexist. Think about it won't you?

There also would have been a call back to this strip in a comic called "Handicapped Parking" which found our trio at the mall, where Liz had been shopping at the lingerie store so Simon would stop complaining. Again, you never got to see that one.

Also of note in this comic are the first appearance of Liz and T-Bear. T-bear I don't think is ever called by name in any comic I wrote, and this is cause I hate his name. But I couldn't come up with anything better. T-Bear came from the fact that I thought his body shape should be a like a Teddy Bear. So T-Bear was a place holder name that just never got replaced. I had planned to run a contest to let a fan actually name T-Bear, but that never happened and so he will forever be T-Bear.

We also get the age old and cliché statement about everything becoming smaller as technology moves forward. Not me making a statement at all, truth be told. I just used it to set up the joke about the underwear. Which worked pretty well if I do say so myself.

Anyway, toon in next time (see what I did there with the toon, instead of tune.) where I'll be telling you the story of the most disagreeable comics I wrote "The Slackers of Hazzard County" not because this comic was offensive, but just because it didn't really work.


Simon Says 001: A Retrospect.

Today we take a break from MST3K. Seems even I have to take a break from that amazing show from time to time. So what are you looking at up there? Well that was a short lived Web Comic I wrote, and was drawn by my high school art class friend Dwayne Bruce. (Dwayne has his own blog which is linked on the right.) How short lived was the comic? Five strips are all it made it too. Why was it short lived? Well that might be a little more complex, but I'm not tackling that here. These comics originally appeared on their own Facebook group with hope to move it to its own dedicated site before its untimely death.

So why am I posting these again here? Well because of something I had wanted to do when these strips would have found their way to their own site, and that is to give a writers commentary on the strip and let you into my mind a little bit and let you know where the idea came from, and maybe let you have a better understanding of what went into it. I had also hoped to talk Dwayne into doing the same from an artist point of view, but never got the chance to bring the idea up to him.

O.K., so we start at the start. "Simon Says 001: Hello my name is…" Although the numbers and titles where never suppose to appear on the actual strips. This isn't actually the first strip I wrote. That honor belongs to a strip called "This is No Cartoon." This strip started like an 80's cartoon where we just jumped feat first in with no introduction to the characters. Unfortunately, that strip never saw the light of day and may be forever lost to the void. After I wrote that and one or two others, I thought I needed to introduce the strip in some way, much like Garfield did back in 1978.

I had to do something simple and quick here, and the joke isn't one of my best. I'll admit to that. It does help in a minor way establish character. We know our main man up there is Simon (We were latter learn his full name is Simon Lamont.) and that his girlfriend/Wife's, we don't know which at this point, name is Liz. (Later to be known as Elizabeth Silvas) We also find out that Liz isn't a typical 50's woman and ain't doing crap for this guy. Thing is we also know that Simon knew what the answer would be and just did this to goad her on. And so we see a small snippet of how their relationship might work.

This strip along 4 others and 3 characters(This cast would have grown to include seven characters in the end.) that would dominate theses early strips where all made in one day. One of my earliest critiques, apart from "That's not funny", was that the strip lacked character development. Well this is true. It kinda has to at the start. Go to any of the most well known Web Comic and hit that little button that says "First" and then just read. You'll see how it goes. The truth of the matter is that you are trying to tell a mini-story that is also a joke in 3-6 panels. You can't also cram Hamlet in there too. In order for there to be character development, you have to let the characters develop. And this takes time, and more then five strips. Honestly, this comic is still a pet project of mine. I've written almost 180 strips now, (even though the hope of ever seeing them drawn at this point is slim) and there is plenty of character devolpment by now. Lots of drama and lots of conflict, but that's only cause I've had 180 strips to build that up in. See you have to understand the beast that is a strip comic. If I did all that up front, no one would have read it. The joke is what gets people to come back. And once you get them coming back every week, then you can lay on the heavy stuff.

Anyway, that critique lead me to write a seven part arc called "When Simon Met Liz", you also never got to see this, which I regretted doing it at the time. The reason being is that I told of their beginnings, and once you tell that there comes a point where you have to someday tell their end. Do I let them get married and live happily ever after, or do they break up? That was the road I set myself on as soon as I wrote those, and I didn't want to think about that. I wanted them to just be, no beginning and no end. I don't regret it as much now, because it allowed me to add stress to their relationship later, and pull them in this direction and that, but at the time I really hated doing it.

Well I talked enough for now, and I have four more to go through. So be sure to check back next time for strip 002: "Progress is making things smaller." which is the first full appearance of both Liz and T-Bear and...PANTIES!