Dec 18, 2006

Things continue to firm up regarding the second issue of Borrowed Time, and I'm pleased to present the (more or less final) cover (click for large version):

I did a little collaborating with Joe on this, but mostly it's just one more example of his fantastic work.

Dec 13, 2006

I've still got several things to address here, but something new has moved to the top of the list. Unfortunately, it's something I wish I didn't have to mention.

I want do direct you (via my pal Jeff -- thanks for the heads up) to the plight of young Callum Robbins.

If you didn't grow up in the MD/DC area, the name J Robbins might not mean much. But if you have ever listened to independent music you almost certainly know his work. As a member of Jawbox (and other bands) he played a role in formulating a sound that went on to make millions for lesser bands, and as an independent producer/engineer he's made an impressive positive impact -- both directly and indirectly -- on a lot of lives. Now, he and his family need some help.

I generally hesitate to post stuff like this, because at the end of the day it's not my place to tell you where to spend your charitable dollars. Lots of people need help, and there's only so much to go around. But I want to encourage you, if you can, to chip in. While I only met J once or twice (years and years ago), we've long been a part of the same broad social fabric. It's a group of people who helped shape my worldview when I was growing up, and who have always been good to me. It's also a group of people who have, artistically speaking, contributed more than their share to the culture as a whole. They are, in other words, people just like me and, I suspect, just like many of you who are reading this.

So, to me, this is a plea for one of my own. One of our own. I don't have much to give and I suspect you don't either, but in a situation like this no amount is too small. Give it some thought -- that's all I'm suggesting.

Dec 11, 2006

Every time I sign in to Blogger now I'm greeted with the message that my "new blog" is ready, and that I should switch over so that I can (a) sign in with my Google account (joy), and (b) enjoy a host of new features. Has anyone else taken that plunge? Any advice?
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A few months back I mentioned that Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. would be releasing a solo album, and that I was quite impressed by the tracks available on his MySpace page. I came into possession of a couple of mp3s and they made their way into rotation so heavily that I couldn't wait to hear the rest. Only problem is, the album's not out in the US yet and won't be until sometime early next year.

Curiosity eventually got the better of me and I put in an order at amazon.co.uk. I justified the high shipping charges by ordering a book that also hasn't been released here, and the album was in my hands a little over a week later. As it happens that's one of the best, if not the best, music purchases I made all year.

Trying to describe how music sounds is always a fool's errand, but I can say that if you like the Strokes you'll probably dig this. But it doesn't really sound like the Strokes. It's got a definite 70s/80s feel to it, and I can hear shades of everything from the Beatles to the Beach Boys to Rod Stewart, mashed up with the indie rock/pop of the 80s and early 90s that played so heavily in my formative years. There are several songs where I'm thinking to myself "that sounds like...that one song...what song was that?" but I just can't get it. Which probably means that it doesn't sound precisely like any one thing, but rather like an original piece of work that wears a lot of outstanding influences on its sleeve.

101 and Everyone Gets a Star are worth the price of admission alone -- two songs that don't need a lot of time to sink in. The rest of the album grows on me every time I listen, and I only hear one dud (Cartoon Music for Superheroes, conveniently located at track 1).

Plus, the album art is great (this pic is small, but it's the best I could do):It may not be worth it to you to pay the import premium, but keep your eyes open next year. This is one damn fine record.
The internet connection is back, for now, and with it comes a desire to dump a whole heap of content that's been building up over the past week. I have no clue anymore what it takes for a site like this to build a loyal fan base (I fear it might be impossible), but my plan is to spread the four or five things I want to talk about over multiple posts rather than dump them all into one. Strategies change on the fly.
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Being without a live wire forced me to -- gasp! -- do some long-overdue reading. I did so in style by digesting The Womanizer, the first short story in Richard Ford's Women With Men.

I picked it up last summer on a whim, and it took me until now to really dig in. I wish now I'd done so sooner. Ford's sensibilities remind me a lot of Raymond Carver -- one of my all-time favorites -- but he's a shade more ponderous. Like Carver, he has what I'd call a terrible knack for the human condition. Consider the following passage:
Theirs was practiced, undramatic lovemaking, a set of protocols and assumptions lovingly followed like a liturgy which points to but really has little connection with the mysteries and chaos that had once made it a breathless necessity.
It's a devastating line which becomes more so every time I read it. Then a few pages later he drops this:
Life didn't veer -- you discovered it had veered, later. Now.
Ford, in my limited reading, seems to be one of those rare writers who can address the complexities of human relationships without veering into either platitudes or hard-boiled fatalism. Not only that, but The Womanizer bears an intriguing -- since I didn't know Ford's name when I wrote it -- similarity to my own Last Exit Before Toll.

I suppose that tales of people who feel suffocated by routine are fairly universal, but I found myself contemplating Ford's words through the prism of what I had said, and it was vaguely uncomfortable. I'm not putting myself on his level -- not at all -- but part of me can't help but ask where I stand on that scale. I'd love to hear from anyone who's read both, for better or worse.

Regardless, Ford is a find. If the rest of his work is half as good as this one story then it's certainly worth your time. I'll read more and let you know for sure.

Dec 1, 2006

I'm going to update the Borrowed Time weblog for the first time in awhile right after I write this, but since I doubt most of you check that (and why should you during the doldrums) I'll spill the beans here first: the book has been solicited, and we're looking at February of 2006 for release. The plan now is to coincide the release with the second annual New York Comic Con, which happens the weekend of the 23rd.

As we get closer and closer to the release I'll be doing things like updating the website, updating the MySpace page, and coordinating with Joe and Randy to release pages and other goodies to help pique your interest. Things will be getting mroe and more interesting, so stay tuned...
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For several months now I've been reading David Apatoff's Illustration Art weblog, a site where he brings a lot of good analysis to bear on some forgotten/underappreciated illustration talents of the 20th century. It's well worth a spot in your periodic rotation if you've got any interest in that kind of thing. Apatoff brings a refreshingly positive (read: not snarky) and intelligent voice to his subjects, and always peppers his posts with plenty of visuals. Recommended.
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For anyone who's curious, the Glaser/Scher article is in the editing phase. No concrete idea yet of when it'll be out, but it won't be a secret.