Saturday, December 25, 2004

The First Noel, 2004

    The Hanukkah travel rush was over, and Bethlehem was quiet again. Hence, the corner where Ben Simon worked the graveyard shift hadn’t seen a car pass in ten minutes. He looked up from his English textbook and peered across the street, to the small booth where his friend Isaiah worked. They had both gotten late-night jobs at gas stations at about the same time, and frequently used faux company loyalty as an excuse to pick on each other. Diagonally across the intersection from Ben was a third gas station manned by Mordecai Steinberg. While Ben and Isaiah had the occasional squeegee fight in the middle of the empty road, Mo usually stuck to his booth dutifully, reading the Torah.

    Tonight was too cold for squeegee fighting, and the batteries had just run out in Ben’s Game Boy. His parents were mad at him for working on the Sabbath, and he had homework due on Monday.

    Ben was all but dozing off when someone knocked on his Plexiglas window. He started and sat up on his shop stool.

    “Sorry. What do you need?” Ben rubbed one eye with his palm as he looked up.

    Outside the window stood a young woman wearing a military dress uniform. She was all straight lines – vertical spine, squared shoulders, and perfect uniform creases. And yet her face was gentle, hinting at a smile. Ben had no doubt she could take him apart in a hand-to-hand fight, and no one would make fun of him for getting beaten up by a girl afterwards.

    Her eyes grabbed his, very pale and very clear, and she smiled. “What are you doing here?”

    All at once, the world burst open. Light poured through the dingy windows of the gas station, and left no shadow. Ben Simon’s ears popped, his eyes widened, and he threw up his hands in terror. The woman outside the window threw light like a pure white sun, her smile only growing wider.

    “Don’t be afraid!” she whispered to Ben. “I bring good news. The best news the world has ever heard. An hour ago, right here in Bethlehem, a Savior was born. The Messiah, Ben. Right here.”

    At her words, the fear began to drain away. Ben lowered his hands and looked at her. Her eyes were bright and full of joy, and they stole his breath away.

    The Messiah. Here.

    He found his breath, struggled to pull it in. “Wh-“

    “Not five blocks away. Down the street,” she said, lifting her arm to point, “you’ll find a newborn, wrapped in cloth. He’s in the laundry room of the hotel, lying in the sink.”

    Ben barely had time to picture the King of Kings in his makeshift cradle before the angel looked over her shoulder, laughing. A battalion of soldiers in the same uniform, burning brighter than the day, swept in on wings of gold and silver, filling the intersection and the surrounding streets. Their voices shook the walls of Ben’s booth as they shouted, “Hallelujah in the highest! Peace on Earth to the favored of God!” There voices were as joyous laughter, filled with love and zeal.

    The angel looked back to Ben, her wings unfolding like the sunrise. “Go, go!” she shouted giddily, and he lifted herself from the ground. Behind her followed the rest of the brilliant soldiers, shouting their chorus again and again. Moments later, the night was quiet again, and Ben could hear only his own riotous pulse. He stumbled out of his booth, staring at the sky, until he finally looked down to see Isaiah and Mordecai standing next to him.

    “You... you heard that. You saw it,” Ben stammered.

    “I know which hotel she meant,” Isaiah started, stealing glances at the stars. “We should... I mean, we’ve gotta- Mo! Wait!”

    Mordecai Steinberg had turned and run headlong back toward his gas station, pumping his arms like an Olympian. He spun about breathlessly and shouted back:

    “I’m getting my car! Don’t move!”

* * *

    “Fernando! Is it refreshing?”

    “Crap, I’ve got no bars. We hit a dead pocket... no! Wait, there it goes. What does it say?”

    “Turn around! Shaun, turn around!”

    The van halted sharply, and the young man and woman in the back braced themselves as best they could. Bina Zarafshar clutched at the notebook computer on her lap as the monitor swung forward and down. The cord running from the computer to their team’s cell phone snapped taught, and Bina caught her breath.


    Fernando noticed at the last second and pulled down his hand, slackening the cord. He chuckled nervously and sat down. “That was bad. Almost tugged it right off your lap.”

    “It’s okay. It’s fine. Wait. Did we-“

    “Yes, yes, we got dropped. But we’ve got good reception here. Good spot to reconnect.”

    Shaun parked the van and climbed into the back.

    “How close are we?”

    Bina looked to the chart. The latest data from the feed had been factored in, and the numbers were huge. Monumental.

    “Oh, we’re close.” She couldn’t help but laugh. They were almost on top of it. “Try turning right back at that last intersection.”

    Fernando nodded and grinned eagerly. “This is too good. Too good. You should redial now.”

    “Oh! Right.” Bina double-clicked the link to her ISP, and the cell phone began dialing. None of them considered the absurd charges they were racking up, connecting to the Internet through an international call. The signal shot through the atmosphere, and a few moments later, the connection was up again.

    “Good,” said Shaun. “You let me know if we get dropped again, okay?” His eyes grinned every bit as much as his mouth. He hopped back into the driver’s seat.

    “Of course. Just brake easier!” Bina looked back to her screen. She logged back into the University network, and the feed began again. “All right, we’re receiving data... yes, definitely turn right back at that intersection. The stream was almost off the chart right there.”

    “Let me see,” Fernando said, leaning in to see the screen. Bina turned it toward him, and he laughed aloud. The graph, which read “Divine Particle Density,” showed a spike in an already remarkably high, steady level at about the time they had passed the intersection.

    “When we show this to the Nobel committee,” Fernando smirked, “do you think they’ll mind the name ‘divine particle?’”

    “It’s as good a name as any for what they are,” Shaun shouted from the front, putting the van back in gear. He swung the vehicle around as fast as he dared and headed back along the road. “Tell me the convergence hasn’t moved.”

    Bina shouted back, “No, it hasn’t moved for hours! And it has to be in this town... where are we?”


    “No, what country?”

    They all laughed. For all they sleep they had gotten in the past week of tracking and traveling, they should have been exhausted. But sleep was far from their minds.

* * *

    No one was doing laundry this late, thankfully. There was a slight draft from under the door, but other than that, the room was warm enough. Joseph leaned on the wall by the sink, sleeves rolled up, looking down at his son. He hadn’t stopped grinning for hours. He couldn’t help but think that there was a better place to put him, but he had dried out the basin well enough. And besides, the child had been sleeping peacefully since the doctor had left.

    Joseph sighed happily and threw a glance at Mary, who stirred on her cot. A few thin, dark curls still stuck to her wet forehead, and her face was still ever so slightly flushed. Joseph knelt by her side, by his wife’s side, and let himself just stare at her face. Her mouth was barely open, her breath steady and calm. A nice change of pace from... had it only been an hour ago? He shook his head in awe and smoothed Mary’s hair back from her face.

    “My God,” he breathed, “you’re amazing.”

    Her breath drew in sharply, and her eyes flickered open.

    “Oh! Did I wake you up? I’m sorry...”

    “No, no, it’s okay,” she said sleepily, squinting her eyes and stretching. “Is the baby still...”

    Joseph nodded. “Yeah. Still asleep in the... sink.” He chuckled despite himself.

    Mary smirked, shaking her head from her prone position. “The sink. Oi.” She slipped her hand into her husband’s, catching his eye. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

    Joseph squeezed her hand and held her gaze. He merely nodded, and leaned in to kiss her.

    It was then that the doorknob turned. The couple looked up sharply as a young man poked his head into the room.

    “Hello?” he said.

    “Hello,” Mary replied. There was suddenly no sleep in her voice, and she sat up on her cot.

    The young man was jostled forward by someone behind him. He stepped through the door, and two other teenagers followed, all scanning the room expectantly. They all wore blue uniforms with the logos of three different gas stations on their breast pockets. Their eyes settled on the sink in the corner at the same time. The one in the back gasped. “Is that... is the baby...?”

    Joseph threw his wife a confused look, and found her doing the same. “How do you...”

    “This way! It’s got to be right here!” came a woman’s voice from outside, speaking English.

    A moment later, three Americans burst into the laundry room, carrying a laptop hooked up to a cellular phone. They all wore wrinkled, lived-in shirts and jeans, and were watching the screen of the laptop with awe in their eyes. The only light-skinned one of the three, who had nothing in his hands, looked urgently to all those assembled in the small room.

    “Please, tell me one of you speaks English.”

     The three gas station attendants, Mary, and Joseph, all began speaking at the same time, in English.

    “Oh, thank God. Look, there’s a completely unique quantum event happening in this room, right here! We’ve been tracking it from America for the last nine months, and... what is it?”

    Bina had set down the laptop and walked over to the sink, almost in step with Ben. Joseph took a step toward them, but Mary put a hand on his arm. The Jew and the gentile peered over the edge of the basin.

    And there, wrapped in three of his father’s old t-shirts, was the child, his breath whistling softly through his nose. If peace were a child, it could be none other than this. Ben’s breath caught in his throat, and Bina’s eyes lit up.

    “It’s him.”

    “It’s a child,” Bina gasped.

    Joseph breathed deeply, still uncertain. “How did you know we...?”

    And all at once, the rest of the new arrivals realized that they had found what they were seeking. Suddenly they were all laughing in delight. Ben knelt by the sink, eyes locked on the Anointed One. Shaun grabbed Fernando by the shoulders, tears in his eyes. “A child! Of course it’s a child!” He turned to Mary and Joseph to explain just as Mo Steinberg did the same, and they launched into their stories as one.

    “Wait, wait, wait!” It was Ben, who only now looked back up from the sink-turned-cradle. He held up a hand for silence, and turned reverently to Mary and Joseph. “What is his name?”

    Mary met his gaze, slowly beginning to smile again. “His name is Joshua.”

    They all took in the name in silence. Fernando grinned and nodded in approval. “Joshua. Jésus in Spanish. It means...” His voice trailed off.

    Mary nodded with him. “The Lord saves.”

Monday, December 20, 2004

The picture section is back. Follow the link at the top of the page for fun times. I've also updated my links section to include a mention of the new Nights Awake Project. Do check it out.

Friday, December 10, 2004

This is Brian, coming to you live from soggy Penn Valley, California. For those of you who missed the news, I've moved up here with my Dad. Cheaper, and I get to spend more time with Dad. Bonus. I'll be down in Sacramento on weekends, to see people and go to church.

Church. Oh, man. So good. Anyone who wants to come along, let me know, and we'll set it up. I attend the 10:30 service at Arcade Wesleyan at the corner of Watt and Whitney. Fantastic church. Pastor Steve is currently in the middle of an amazing sermon series on the book of Revelation. Come to church with me. You'll love it.

In coming days, I may start serializing a story here on my blog. That would be cool. Further details as I think them up.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

And now, a completely spontaneous short story.

..really, though. I logged on because I realize that I need to update this page, and I just decided to write an impromptu story. Why not.

* * *

"I'm trying to help you." He stood over her, one hand on the hilt of his sword. Though the rain dripped from his eyebrows, his eyes never left her face. The padding under his sparse leather armor began taking on water, he noted with resignation. Maybe if he had the full suit, instead of a pauldron on his left arm and a vest, he might have been closer to waterproof.

She was soaked through, and had been before she had sprawled into the puddle. Rain beaded and ran on her simple steel armpiece, which reflected the surrounding alley. Her eyes caught his, hard and cold as the stone of the walls. The scabbard attached to her hip scraped the ground as she stood. Her shoulders set.

"I don't need your goddamn help."

For a moment, he merely looked at her, confused. He'd seen genuine anger before, but never like this. Never from someone he'd tried to help. He half expected the raindrops falling between them to freeze and shatter on the ground. She stood there before him, looking as though she had never slipped and fallen. Or, at least, trying to look that way.

He made an effort to remove his hand from his sword. "I'm... sorry." At the moment, he couldn't think to say anything else, yet he scrambled to figure out where his misstep had been. "My name is Orrin. I was only-"

"Keep walking before they see you!" she whispered harshly. Her voice was suddenly more urgent. And then, he realized his mistake.

Behind him, a clink of chain. A flail being readied.

For every raindrop that hit his shoulders, another image flashed through his mind. They flashed behind his eyes as he gripped his sword and turned. The woman hurtling down the street, the five armed men two steps behind. Her quick dodge down the alley which sent them running past. And her slip, the clang of her armor against the stone.

The man with the flail had turned his head, and was opening his mouth to call down the street. Orrin whipped his blade from its scabbard into a backhand stroke, catching the first link of the flail's chain. The flail flipped into the air as Orrin spun about on one foot, whipping the other about in a roundhouse kick. The armed man made only a choking sound as his jaw was knocked out of socket. He went limp, his head bouncing disturbingly against the cold pavement.

Orrin glanced down the street just as the last of the woman's pursuers ducked into the wrong alley, continuing their hunt. As he dragged the unconscious man further into the alley, he heard the woman's footsteps splashing away from him. He looked up to see her retreating back, shoulders squared.

And as he watched her go, she peered over her shoulder. Her rain-slick black hair fell across her eye, and she shook it out of the way.

Orrin sheathed his sword, time beginning its return to normal speed. "You going to be all right?"

"Yes." was her only reply. With that, she turned the corner.

Orrin shook his head, as much to clear his thoughts as to shake the droplets from his brow. He looked down at the unconscious man, then back at the puddle where the woman had fallen.

So many questions.

* * *

May make a habit of impropmtu storytime. There may not be a cohesive, let alone coherent plot, but this could be a good exercise. We'll see.

Friday, September 17, 2004

"Home is where the heart is."

That is to say: home is the answer to the question, "where would you rather be right now?"

I've heard it said that home is where they can't turn you away.

Home is beyond location, I think. There's something to be said for familiarity, and a place full of memories. However, more than anything, home is where you belong without question.

"It feels like heaven's so far away."
-the Offspring

A while ago, Lenny loaned me a book by Eileen Root called Hawaiian Names...English Names. Helpful, since I decided that the elves in the roleplaying universe I created speak a language reminiscent of Hawaiian. The book has a section with the origins of various names.

The name Brian is from Gaelic, and means "strong and mighty leader." The name Nathaniel is from the Hebrew for "a gift, or gift from God."

Maybe on my good days. My really good days.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

On a lighter note, I've been watching the Olympics in the evenings, and I'm thinking of getting some abs installed.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


For a week or so, I’ve been looking for the seventh trade paperback collection of 100 Bullets, a comic series I enjoy. I’ve called here and there, and no one has it. I found myself at home this evening with nothing terribly pressing to do, so I decided to walk the few blocks down to Country Club Plaza to see if anyone had gotten it in yet.

Walking past the back door of Country Club Lanes, I hear a man shout “Jesus loves you!” at a young man and woman who are walking into the parking lot. I smile to myself, and hope it’s being said by someone who really means it. “Jesus loves all!” shouts the young man back, emphasizing all. A good response, but I wonder to myself why he chose those particular words. And even as I wonder, the man - who I see is yelling into a small, orange plastic bullhorn – says, “Yeah, but he loves some people more.”

All at once, I’m out of patience.

My legs march me over to the sidewalk, and I stand next to the guy. He’s wearing a hat that says “I [heart] Jesus / Jesus [heart] you” in large print. His shirt, black, bears the image of on open Bible and a pair of clasped hands in a shaft of light. In his left hand he holds the orange bullhorn, and in his right he holds a water bottle with a screw-on lid.

“What are you doing?” I demand. Not the best start.

He looks up at me, lowering the orange cone from his mouth. “Hey, man,” he says, pointing his thumb over his shoulder, “did I see you at the party-”

”No. What are you doing?” He says he’s telling people about Jesus. “Jesus loves everyone equally,” I say. He disagrees. I wave my hand to one side in exasperation, asking who exactly He loves more.

“His anointed ones. I’m an end-times prophet...” he proceeds.

“Oh, please,” I say in utter disgust. “Do you read the Bible?”

“Where’s your church?”

I take a breath and answer as I always do: “Arcade Wesleyan. The one behind the 7-11.” Usually, I say this lightheartedly. The church is, in fact, located on a large lot behind a 7-11. This time, it carries none of the usual joviality.

“See, they only give you a first or second rate education there.” He says, leaning into the guy sitting next to him. The guy does not so much as nod, and keeps quiet throughout the entire exchange.

The prophet and I go back and forth for a few moments. I repeat that he very much needs to actually read the Bible. He continues to make comments to his friend about the inadequacy of my Christian education, no longer speaking directly to me. I’m completely fed up.

“You should spend more time reading the Bible,” I growl, “and less time talking crap out the side of your mouth.” He makes no response, continuing his monologue to the man next to him. Once again, I ask if he reads the Bible.

In half a second, he’s thrown his water in my face and he’s on his feet, shouting at me to get away from him. There isn’t enough time to throw up my hands. I take two steps back and stop, shaking the water from my eyes. I wonder detachedly if he’s going to punch me, envisioning the impact from my own perspective. My hands are still at my sides, and he’s in my face. “Get out of here!” he screams, shoving me off the sidewalk. I merely look at him for a moment, and he shoves me again, turning me around. Somehow, I’m still calm, if a little shaky. My hands fold behind my back as I turn back around, intending to calm the situation and talk to this guy.

A young black man in a shirt and tie is walking over. “Hey, man, that was totally unnecessary,” he says plainly. It’s the young man the prophet had been preaching to when I arrived.

“You saw him come over here, threaten me...” the prophet says, pointing over at me, threatening to call security. I lower my head and chuckle. It’s the only response that seems right. Another, slightly burlier black man arrives, trying to talk the prophet down.

“I want you to call the police,” says the prophet to the young man, “and have this man arrested.” I chuckle again, the same laugh as a moment ago. The young man replies that I merely asked him a question. I wonder to myself how threatening I might have seemed. My hair drips.

“Wait ‘till I get security out here,” the prophet says.

“Well, I am security here...” begins the newcomer, going on to explain that the prophet had done something illegal, whether or not Jesus wanted him to do it.

Pacing back and forth, in his best pulpit voice, the prophet launches into a tirade about our excessive pride. In the midst of it, he points to the sidewalk and proclaims, “This is holy ground... because I’m here.” I look down to see splash marks. Eventually, the prophet makes his way into and through the bowling alley, “to hit the air conditioning.”

I had tried to ask the prophet his name several times, to no avail. As he left, I looked to the other man, who was still sitting down on the edge of the planter bed, still quite silent. I asked him, and he told me that his name was Frank. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and sat down. We had a short conversation about his beliefs, and as I left, I asked if I could pray for him. He said that would be okay, at which I smiled.

I turned the corner, walking around to the front of the bowling alley right as the prophet emerges, with the security guard close behind. For some reason, the guard is now holding a box for a camera lens, which I had noticed the prophet holding as he left. I nod to the prophet again and ask his name, apologizing for confronting him so harshly. Meanwhile, the guard hands the box back to the prophet, expecting him to take it back.

The prophet looks down at the box, then up at the guard. “I gave that to you.” The guard continues to hold out the box. “Man, when a holy man gives you something...” the prophet begins, and I decide to keep walking. I don’t look up for the first few steps as the prophet marches past me into the parking lot, shouting back and forth with the guard. I stop and watch as the prophet huffs away, the guard calling after him, “It’s called pride!”

I looked at the guard for a moment, and asked his name. Dwight, he said as he shook my hand. As it turned out, he was in an ensemble that sang at Arcade around the holidays. I asked him what he thought of Jesus, and his response answered my prayers. He trusted that Jesus was the son of God, and died to take away our sins. We were standing one door down from World’s Best Comics, which was closed. I shook hands once more with Dwight, in parting, and walked down to Tower Books.

I examined the racks of comics to no avail. In the back of my mind, and the front, I was already replaying the incidents of the past ten minutes. All I could do was shake my head, and I made for the door. I take three steps before I notice the prophet approaching me.

“Will you hug me, man?” he asks, opening his arms. I hug him, unwilling to hold a grudge. He steps back, smiles, and offers me the box marked Vivitar, the holy relic Dwight had returned to him.

“I don’t need that,” I say firmly, and begin walking for the door. After a few paces, I look back to see him talking to an attractive woman. I am nearly overcome by the urge to jerk my head at the prophet and say, “Don’t believe a word this man says,” but I hold back. Instead, I turn to leave. He’s walking next to me a second later. I ask him his name.

“Raphael Emmanuel,” he says.

“Ah,” I sigh. He asks me if I know what it means. I hold open the door for him, thinking about my answer for a moment. The specific word meaning escapes me. I reply that Emmanuel was the name the angel (Raphael, I realize now) told the virgin Mary to name her son. He begins to ask me again if I know what it means, but he is distracted by a mother and her two children coming down the sidewalk. As he says something to the kids, I keep walking. There’s nothing I can say, I realize. This offends the prophet, who begins to walk out into the parking lot.

“What if I am?” he repeats over, and over, and over.

“What if you’re not?” I fire back.

He throws up his hands. “Then it doesn’t matter, does it?”

“Yeah! Think on that!”

“But if I am, if I am an end-times prophet, then you just came real close to a storm... or a heart attack.”

My jaw drops a little at that one. And then, he unlocks the door to a blue Honda and steps in. The prophet Raphael Emmanuel, who preaches through a plastic bullhorn at the back door of Crestview Lanes, drives. My jaw can’t take it, and falls down all the way.

I began to walk home, my mind struggling to stand up. Already, I had come to regret launching into the man so brazenly, so aggressively. All the lessons I’d learned about humility and gentleness leaned on my heart, and I wondered how else it could have gone. In my Bible, Matthew 10:16 reads, in part, “be wary as snakes and harmless as doves.” I remembered it, and had heard it said, “be wise as serpents, and gentle as doves.” The word gentle superimposed itself on my thoughts.

Sometimes I’m afraid to openly, enthusiastically proclaim my faith, for fear that I’ll look like a psychopath and not win anyone over. Today, I was enraged that someone was telling damnable lies about my God. Perhaps my anger was justified. Righteous. More likely, I think, I was too hasty.

But I’m confident that both through me and despite me, Jesus will accomplish something through this. He’s that good.

...I can hardly imagine what response this post will get. Appropriately, I've added the comment function to my blog.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

"You should never leave church feeling defeated," said Pastor Steve. He made an effort to end this morning's service on an up note, since we'd just begun a sermon series on the seven deadly sins. It was a good move. I had to laugh at how guilty I am of the sin we covered this morning, the source of all the others: pride. Oi.

We approched the subject realistically, fairly... Which meant acknowledging that all of us were prideful in some way. Most of us, in a big way.

It's a complex problem. Self-esteem isn't sinful, but thinking too highly of yourself is. Taking care of your needs is necessary, but focusing too much on what you want is. Pride is subtle, and takes forms I hadn't thought of. When Pastor Steve listed them, though, they all sounded familiar to me.

- Self-preoccupation: the obvious manifestation. Vanity, delusions of grandeur, what have you. The Muhammad Ali complex.

- Stubbornness: the belief that you are always right. Taking offense at being justly corrected.

- Control issues: perfectionism. Wanting things done your way, or not at all. Taking over when it's inappropriate.

- Judging people: as Pastor Steve describes it, a statement that sets you against someone, saying, "I am not for you." Often masked in supposedly concerned statements. I think of scorn and condescension, which never fail to wound.

So yeah. Guilty. I remember Amanda telling me "you like being in charge." I was suprised at the time. Didn't think of myself that way, but it's true. Sometimes I catch myself making nitpicking suggestions to people, butting in where it's certainly not my place, and so on. I've always hated being wrong. And sometimes it makes me sick how judgmental I can get.

I'm gonna be working hard on this one. Really glad we had communion today. I'm really glad it's one of the very few rituals in the Christian church. It's easy to understand the symbolism, which makes it no less powerful. Especially with the way the Wesleyan denomination approaches communion, it's a wonderful, potent reminder of Jesus' love and sacrifice.

That's the perfect way to top off a sermon about sin. A reminder that God loves us anyway.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Today was pretty uneventful. Caught up, pretty much, with the work I'm doing for Dad, drafting a medical office building. Read the story of David's adultery with Bathsheba, and its consequences. And turned 21.

I'd been planning for years to have an uneventful 21st birthday, and so it was. Had some pizza and cake with Dad and Lori, and that was enough. Now, I'm writing this and Dad's watching Stargate. I'm kinda missing my friends, but I know I'll see people soon enough.

Not bad at all.

I wanna talk more about Jesus, but I don't have the words just now. I love Him, though, and He loves me. If you find that idea ridiculous, oh well. I hope you'll come around in time.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Life as I know it is simply not the same as it was at the beginning of June.

I have done precious little work in the past two months. Next to nothing, in fact. In essence, I've been on a long vacation. I've read three books and two graphic novels, played an awful lot of video games, and spent a good amount of time with friends. Haven't done much roleplaying, except for the online variety, which is making a comeback.

Haven't been earning any money, besides a few dollars here and there babysitting Jessica. I find myself poor once again.

At present, I sit up in Grass Valley, fairly isolated from the world I'm still adjusting to. Come to think of it, this is another part of the adjustment. Still waiting for the big rush of work to hit, and watering plants in the meantime. Doesn't sound like much, but you likely haven't seen the foliage up here.

More than usual, I've been fiending to go out on a date. Fiend is definitely the right word. Implies a certain diabolical influence. Perhaps that's not entirely fair, but I hardly feel like being fair when my heart is plotting its escape from my chest. In all honesty, it's only felt like that on a couple isolated occasions, but it's quite memorable. And, in the words of Metallica, the memory remains.

I'm laughing at myself a little, now.

At intervals, I've felt a sort of spiritual dryness lately. I feel as though God is asking something of me that I'm not quite ready to give. More of my time, or attention. Whatever it is, it's designed to deepen my trust in Jesus. That much I know. Kinda scary. Means I might have to do something odd that'll improve my life. Or someone else's.

On a somewhat related note, I'm slowly learning when it is necessary not to try to help a given situation. Slowly. All too often, trying too hard is like scrubbing porcelain with steel wool, saying What? Don't get mad at me! I was just trying to clean it! Ill advised, and unhelpful to the point of being destructive.

I'm kinda scared to pray to learn hard lessons quickly. God delivers an object lesson when He has to.

...I try to keep personal issues that involve other people vague on this blog. The Internet is hardly an appropriate place to air grievances, and a really easy place to start a fight. It's easy to say just about anything through faceless text, isn't it? I much prefer to discuss interpersonal issues face to face, or at least in real time, on the phone or through IM. Hurts more. More uncomfortable, too. Should be that way, so you get to the bottom of things instead of just saying what's easy to say.

Those readers who pray, pray that my heart and my mouth can come to terms in their relationship. I need an armed guard at my lips, blocking the worthless and ushering through what needs to be said.

Monday, June 14, 2004

When it all goes down, this is what you might just hear in the background. I present to you, under the guise of DJ Razorclown, Let it All Fall: The Soundtrack to the Apocalypse.

1) Creed - Torn [I needn't defend myself for liking this band.]
2) Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony - For Whom the Bell Tolls
3) Silverchair and Vitro - Spawn
4) Stabbing Westward - Falls Apart
5) System of a Down - Jet Pilot
6) Rage Against the Machine - Ashes in the Fall
7) P.O.D. - Bullet the Blue Sky
8) Tool - Aenima
9) Evanescence - My Last Breath
10) Rammstein - Mein Herz Brennt
11) Nightwish - End of All Hope
12) Killswitch Engage - World Ablaze
13) Dogwood - Everything Dies in Time
14) Soundgarden - Mailman
15) Powerman 5000 - Supernova Goes Pop
16) System of a Down - Toxicity
17) Killswitch Engage - When Darkness Falls
18) [11 seconds of silence]
19) [twist ending]

Track 19 is a song I love, which reminds us what happens at the very end.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

-Enya, "How Can I Keep From Singing?"

As I create CDs, I notice certain songs sneaking their way back into the mix. Favorites of mine, usually very mood-enducing. "Ashes in the Fall" is one of those, as are "Supernova Goes Pop" and "Mein Herz Brennt." All are effectively dramatic in their way, which I like in a song. The first is ideal for stirring up raw aggression and rage (no surprise). The second capitalizes on an infectious guitar riff and undeniable forward momentum. The last is simply apocalyptic.

Rock to the last.

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

-Mark 13:1-2

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Killswitch Engage is an absolutely amazing band. Inspirational lyrics presented in hardcore style - screamed over hammering guitars. A thing of beauty to be sure. I've just picked up their The End of Heartache. Just what I needed.

Been having a tough time just recently. Kinda feels like rats chewing on my guts at intervals. Been craving a deep interpersonal connection recently... and having one, actually. But the craving continues. Unfortunate.

I worry too much about my friends who are dating. I've seen so many relationships blow up and hurt all involved, and now I shudder when people I know start romances. A sad state of affairs, as it were.

From time to time, I remember that worrying is harmful and useless. I have to keep reminding myself, though. Problem is that the gnawing in my gut is part worry and part jealousy. What a bizarre state. And it's been hitting me pretty hard.

But it will pass soon enough. In the meantime... well, everything is going well. Very well. I'm blessed with my new house, new job, good friends, and all else.

(Seek me) for comfort
(Call me) for solace
(I'll be waiting) for the end of my broken heart.

-Killswitch Engage, "The End of Heartache"

Monday, June 07, 2004

It's been a week here at my new house. It's taken an effort to refer to "my Mom's house" as such, and the room full of my stuff here in Carolyn's house as mine. Since Dad's been busy, I've been on an extended vacation since I quit working at Corti Brothers. Still trying to find the balance between spending time with Carolyn and making a general nuisance of myself. Just too tempting to make my way across the house to a friend's place when it's right there. May take a little time to get the dynamic just right, but things are going smoothly enough. I'm very grateful.

God has provided well for me, to be sure. A room with cheap rent, opportunites to talk to my friends, a job with Dad... gotta love it. And time. I've finally taken the time to read the Bible and pray in the mornings. Makes quite a difference; offers the day something of a frame of reference. There's always something relevant, something valuable, in the Bible.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Anyone trying to call me would do well to call Carolyn's house, since that's where I live now. Moved yesterday. Anyone who needs the number should e-mail me.

For anyone for whom this is news, hi. How ya doing? I moved. The rent Carolyn's mom offered me was too good to pass up, and the house is in a great location. And Carolyn is just across the house, so I get an older sister. Two months older, but all the same. I think this whole arrangement is going to be quite a blessing.

Monday, May 31, 2004

You have heard that the law of Moses says, “Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.” But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
-Matthew 5:21

So, I was feeling kinda hot for a while there.

When I think of the sins in my life, I tend to gloss over anger. Generally, I’m a pretty peaceful guy. When I lose my patience with someone, I tend to identify it as a problem with pride, which it often is. But anger is not to be ignored.

John, I’m sorry. I’ve repeatedly cursed you and demeaned you in front of others, so I may as well apologize thus. I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ve been called to patience, and more than that, love, toward everyone. But I’ve gotten angry instead. I’m sorry.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Sometimes I want to set the whole world on fire.

I don't think that's my idea, though.

Maybe you don't belive in Satan.

Maybe that's what he wants.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Do not think, m'lady, that when I call you my lady, I presume that you belong to me.

[this applies to every woman i've ever called "m'lady." which is, i think, every girl i've ever known.]

Friday, May 07, 2004

One Sunday, Pastor Doug used a call-and-response bit as part of his sermon. He would say "be strong and courageous," and the congregation would respond, "be strong, and very courageous."

I've thought about that since. Strength we need, but more than that, we need courage. I could be the strongest man alive, but still be afraid to get out of bed in the morning. I could have the power to change the world, but never do it for fear of the consequences. For fear that I might fail.

Strength and courage. Strength, and much courage.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Once again, John has made a comment in my guestbook that warrants a public response. It follows:

I seem to remember hearing you once saying you were looking for someone 'who would be a good wife' rather then someone you love.... (frankly if such a thing is true, I'm deeply disturbed by such sentiment)

*waves hand*

But thats not the point of this post. I guess the only thing I can say for you is that you have only yourself to blame (regarding Liesel). The two of you were obviously very much interested in each other, and I think that it's sad that you decided to punish not only yourself but the one you loved (?) simply on the matter of spirituality. I know you will say that that is THE cornerstone of your very existance and you would not be here if it weren't for God, BUT *sighs loudly and shakes head*...

Regardless, on to the next thing I wanted to share. Your recent... clingyness (for severe lack of a better word) has been bothering me lately. I guess part of it is that I've never been big on unsolicited physical intimacy (in most cases). I enjoy it, very much so, but somehow I find it rather rude when a person hangs off one who has given no signals that they want such behavior or wish it to continue. I'm sure this is just me, and not you, but I felt compelled to share. Besides, my discussion with Neko made much sense. You are, after all, only human and can only resist being a boy for so long.

I knew there was more I wanted to say, and I'm not sure I said everything as well as I wanted to, but posting it gets it out there. I really would like to spend some more time with you in the future, as we rarely get to hang out/talk and usually your to busy looking after us when I do see you ;-P

But I think it's important to say that you are indeed one of the finest human beings I know, and that I have never known you to not have your heart in the right place. Peace and love, brother.


My response, paragraph by paragraph:

I failed to make something clear during my earlier discussion on romance. Someone with that kind of compatibility, with all the things that would make a lasting relationship possible... I mean, how could you not fall in love with someone like that? The basis of the relationship should not be strong feelings, but compatibility. Feelings, though, are going to be present.

But nothing. Jesus is the cornerstone of my life, and should be when He's not. I belive that by not going out with Liesel, I've saved us both pain. Certainly, this path hurts, too. But I belive it's honestly better for both of us. Liesel and I are still friends,and I love the relationship we have. I've gone out of my way not to hurt her and myself. There is nothing of punishment in my actions, but love.

I am aware of my clinginess. It's one of the most prominent issues in my life. And I'm making continual efforts to combat it. I have apologized to Carolyn on several occasions. But by no means am I trying to resist being a boy. I'm trying to do it correctly.

I will have more time soon, I think, to spend with people. You're most definitely on my list.

I often have to drag my heart into the right place. I'm just glad I know which general direction to drag it in. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Lenny made a very interesting comment this evening. He remarked that it seemed like I'd been getting my way this past week. Cody came to church with me, and "Carolyn promised to be nice to people." I had, he said, been getting what I wanted.

Before he specified the two aforementioned things, I was aghast. I've been in the midst of a bout of loneliness, magnified by Liesel and Andy deciding to officially be a couple. My heart had been walking on crutches since Monday, and to a degree beforehand. When I heard the phrase "what you want," my mind went immediately to the word girlfriend.

This is me admitting my foolishness.

In the first place, Liesel getting a boyfriend is no particular loss to me. We're friends, and were, by conscious choice, going to remain that way for the indefinite future. Try telling that to my heart, though. Won't listen to reason, bloody thing.

Furthermore, lots of awesome things have been happening lately. Not the things that have been at the forefront of my mind, but things that have needed to happen. Cody coming to church. Deep conversations with friends. I have indeed wanted these things, but I've lately been distracted by wanting someone to hug.

God is rightly focused on getting done what needs to happen, rather than on getting me what I want for myself. It hurts sometimes when there's a gap between need and want... but I pray that needs prevail. A lot of what I want for myself is shortsighted and poorly thought out.

I've got to pay more attention - yes, more attention - to what's truly important, and less attention to my more selfish desires. Some of my desires are quite healthy, to be sure... but mostly, they lead to me getting behind on homework.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I would like a shirt. A black shirt, with white print on it. There need only be two things on it. First, the word zealot in easily readable text on the front. Second, a simple cross on the back, spread across the shoulders.

I aspire to an intelligent sort of zealotry. A sort of ecstatic focus that sharpens, rather than muddles the mind. Focus that builds discipline, knowledge, and strength. Mmm. That would be neat.

At present, I'm merely busy. That is to say, in a state of buzzing between tasks, watching deadlines loom closer and closer, forcing me to prioritize one project only to neglect another. Procrastination is much to blame, and though I have a few excuses, none of them are truly worth mentioning. The word "nonsense" comes to mind, in regards to both my excuses, and many of the items on my schedule. It's not that my schedule is full of meaningless things. It's just not sensical that they're all mashed onto the same schedule.

As others have noted, this is going to be a good month for change, and I am no exception. God willing, I will soon have a near-ideal job working for my Dad, will have moved out of the house, and will have much more time on my hands. How much do I hope that will happen? Hoo, boy.

I have a lot to be thankful for, in the meantime. Honest, candid discussions with my friends... much needed, to be sure. Glad they're happening. I'm really glad that Cody came to church with me this morning. I pray that he'll find what he really needs.

I've had Nightwish's "Beauty of the Beast" stuck in my head for two days, and I don't really mind.

Friday, April 09, 2004

"Beware, O lord, of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on."
-Iago, Othello

I don't need a romantic relationship right now. I don't have the time, the girl, or the circumstances needed. And yet, my emotions fail to see the logic of the situation. Thing is, several people around me have the potential to form relationships now. My mind envisions relationships with some of these people, and my heart thinks they could be very nice.

Jealousy arises even at the potential for someone else to have something I don't have.

"This, too, is vanity."

It's foolish to be jealous when you're so well provided for, as I am. Affection, I get. Love, certainly. These are things I am jealous for, yet in all actuality, I have them. I shall have to take stock of things more often when I'm feeling short-changed. It may just cheer me up.

Speaking of which... happy Easter, everyone. The power of Jesus Christ has defeated death. How do you like them apples?

Thursday, April 01, 2004

If I had a time machine, I would put on the Pay-Per-View event of the century. Several centuries, actually.

(In Which Historical and Literary Figures Put the Smack Down on Each Other Because it's Just Too Good.)

Round 1: Josef Stalin vs. Mao Tse-tung. Don't tell me you didn't want to see that one.

Round 2: Nelson Mandela vs. Mahatma Ghandi. Passive no more!

Round 3: Charles Dickens vs. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Years of oppression have built rather a lot of angst. Time to vent.

Round 4: Leonardo da Vinci vs. Stephen Hawking. The first in our chess series. Watch Gary Kasparov's eyes well up with tears.

Round 5: Niccolo Machiavelli vs. Rasputin. One more step on the rise to power.

Round 6: Alan Ginsberg vs. Jack Kerouac. Winner gets a bag of rare peyote.

Round 7: Dorian Gray vs. Doctor Faustus. Clash of the anti-heroes! Who do you want to lose most?

Round 8: Aristotle vs. Isaac Newton. The second chess game. Root for your favorite set of natural laws!

Round 9: Achilles vs. Beowulf. I don't care who wins. I just wanna see it.

Round 10: Lorenzo de Medici vs. Estella Havisham. Factual versus fictional. A personality clash that will leave the rafters shaking. Of course, if those two get together, it's all over.

Round 11: Raphael vs. Mephistopholes. Paradise Lost and Doctor Faustus have their parallels. Now the two collide like celestial freight trains.

Round 12: Karl Marx vs. Adam Smith. Place your bets, economists and boxing fans alike!

Round 13: Socrates vs. Confucious. An epic game of chess, followed by a round of go. If there's a tie, there may be mayhem.

Round 14: John Calvin & Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke & Ralph Waldo Emmerson. The main event. A tag team match to settle the fate of all humanity! Philosophically.

He, he.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I should clarify my previous two posts.

I used to be a hopeless romantic. Turns out that part of that deal is being hopeless. Should have figured. For the longest time, I bought into the Romantic glorification of falling in love. I'm done with that, now.


I have found in a scant few years of mixed romantic experiences that feelings, even strong mutual feelings, fluctuate. They can disappear and reappear. Can and do. So why base a relationship on something so inconsistent? Or a marriage? Yet the expectation, the clich?, is "fall in love and get married." At least, it was.

Marriage has lost its meaning, as far as some people are concerned. It's a promise that's almost expected to be broken. I would suggest that this is because so many couples expected to stay in love forever. No one told them that it doesn't work that way.

More and more often, I realize that central aspects of the world around me are dysfunctional. I think the very institution of dating may be one of them, as we're expected to approach it.

So, I may just be done with that, too.

I'm in the process of formulating an... alternate approach. It will involve lots of prayer, a philosophical discussion or two I'm sure, and much reading of the Bible. Sure, I'll still fall in love from time to time, but I intend to have an entirely different reaction. The romantic in me is protesting loudly, but he's had his say in the past. I think it's time for something new.

Monday, February 02, 2004

As though in answer to my question (thank you, Lord), a copy of The Church Herald appeared in my living room. The front page article: "Courtship and Marriage: Is it All About Love?"

The article puts forth the radical ideas that dating is an artificial construct, romantic love is fleeting and inconsistent, and that for a successful marriage, commitment is a higher priority even than love.


Sunday, February 01, 2004

Look around for a moment. Think back. Think forward, if you can. Examine your heart, and all that's run through... and over it.

Is it possible that our society's approach to and notions about love are completely backward?

I'd say it's not only possible... it's highly likely.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Twenty-four oceans, twenty-four skies,
twenty-four failures in twenty-four tries.
Twenty-four finds me in twenty-fourth place.
With twenty-four dropouts at the end of the day.

Life is not what I thought it was
twenty-four hours ago.
Still I'm singing 'Spirit,
take me up in arms with You.'
And I'm not who I thought I was
twenty-four hours ago.
Still I'm singing 'Spirit,
take me up in arms with You.'

There's twenty-four reasons to admit that I'm wrong
with all my excuses still twenty-four strong.

But see, I'm not copping out
When you're raising the dead in me

Oh, I am the second man
Oh, I am the second man now
Oh, I am the second man now

And you're raising these twenty-four voices
With twenty-four hearts
With all of my symphonies in twenty-four parts
But I want to be one today
Centered and true

I wanna see miracles
To see the world change
Wrestled the angel for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
Singing 'Spirit, take me up in arms with You'
You're raising the dead in me

-Switchfoot, "Twenty-Four"

Been stuck in my head for a few days. It may take something like resurrection for to me to maintain my current schedule. Busier than I've been in a while, which isn't much by some standards. Still, pretty busy. It would be easy to back out of my classes, and easy enough to justify. But... I want to be through with that.

Because there's a minute possibility that I might just be able to handle this. I know, I'm shocked, too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Not long ago, I formed a list of songs that were dear to me. The list had long been there in my mind: songs that had - somewhere between the music, the lyrics, and the mood they invoked - inspired me. Some were irrevocably tied to memories. Some had evoked images, or even characters for stories. All of them had a certain underlying drama that gave them life.

I carefully arranged the songs into a CD. It's something of a soundtrack for myself.

1) The Refreshments - Mekong
2) Seven Mary Three - Cumbersome
3) Bush - Machinehead
4) Queensrÿche - Another Rainy Night Without You
5) Stavesacre - Rivers Underneath
6) Stabbing Westward - What Do I Have to Do?
7) Evanescence - Bring Me to Life
8) Skillet - The Thirst is Taking Over
9) Loreena McKennitt - Dante's Prayer
10) System of a Down - Aerials
11) P.O.D. - Satellite
12) Five Iron Frenzy - Every New Day
13) The O.C. Supertones - So Great a Salvation
14) Jennifer Knapp - Faithful to Me (Reprise)
15) [11.11 second silence]
16) Joe Satriani - Mind Storm
17) Bad Religion - Sorrow
18) Five Iron Frenzy - Farsighted

Friday, January 09, 2004

While enjoying a beverage with mom at Starbucks this evening, I composed a few haiku. Of course, being a stupid American, I followed only the syllable structure of the form - 5/7/5 - and not the poetic structure. That said, they were all written within a minute apiece. Thus, I give you:

Six Non-sequential Minutes of Something
(an impromptu haiku series)

    caffeine drink buzzing
    full of light, nervous power
    sixteen ounces awake

    ballistic stomach
    protesting tasty sausage
    slow to recover

    closing coffee shop
    students in aprons, glaring
    at those who linger

    blessed ginger beer
    ancient brewers’ elixir
    Jamaican goodness

    advice from the geeks
    do not buy a PS2
    to play DVDs

    dub revolution
    we hope you like jammin’ too
    turntable reggae

Voila. Fun aplenty. Oh, and check out my previous post (updated just now) for a Jhonen Vasquez trivia contest! Whee.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

As my friends well know, I am a fan of modern comics. In earlier years, I read the occasional X-Men, but I tended more towards the various Venom miniseries and the little-known Darkhawk. For a few years, my interest in comics waned. Then I was introduced to Jhonen Vasquez's I Feel Sick. At first glance, I was appalled. The profinity and violence was hardly what I had come to expect from comics, having seen only Marvel works beforehand.

Eventually, I realized that there was a plot in the twisted little volume I held, and quite an interesting plot. Not to mention characters worth... mentioning. Hmm. Yes. Soon after, I read Vasquez's Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and was hooked.

I have since discovered - through two trips to the San Diego Comic Convention, as well as a browse or three through Carolyn's exceptional stash - discovered several other titles well worth reading. Here's a current list, from left to right, of what's on my shelf:

    Creature Tech by Doug Tennapel : A fantastic graphic novel from an immensely talented writer and artist. Tennapel somehow succeeds in combining fantasy, science-fiction, and Christian inspiration with good comedy and an engaging plot. I still have to lend this one to Cody, so wait your turn. Actually, I think I've loaned it out to everyone who doesn't own a copy.

    The Red Star Collected Edition by Christian Gossett, et al. : As described on my Links page. I can't wait until the next trade paperback comes out. May just be time to re-read this one.

    Lenore: Wedgies by Roman Dirge : This is the second collection of Lenore comics published by Slave Labor Graphics, which also produces Jhonen Vasquez's works. Lenore is an undead ten-year-old girl whose roommate is a vampire trapped in the body of a doll. The book reads, for the most part, like a demented fairytale. I really like demented fairytales. More on that in a second. The almost childish, yet well-drawn art style takes some getting used to, but compliments the story and characters perfectly.

    Squee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors by Jhonen Vasquez : Appropriately placed next to Lenore, Squee! is the manic tale of young Todd Casil, neighbor to one Johnny C, the aforementioned Homicidal Maniac. At times, it seems like knife-toting madman across the street is the least of Todd's worries. Heck, at least the psycho killer likes him. The rest of the world may be quite another matter.

    I Feel Sick 1 & 2 by Jhonen Vasquez : The technical third of the three series in the JTHM world, this comic follows Devi, a gothy artist chick whose most promising date in years had been with none other than Johnny. Devi's focus and creative drive are seemingly siphoned away as she works either on commissioned paintings for a major corporate publisher, or a single painting that takes much of her attention. Do pay attention when the painting starts talking. This short story is every bit as engaging as Johnny and Squee! and is not to be missed by fans of the artist.

    Y: The Last Man - Unmanned by Brian Vaughan et al. : The premise is quite simple. I wouldn't have thought to do it, and probably wouldn't have done it as well, given the chance. Yourick Brown is the literally the last man alive after every other male on the planet dies suddenly, violently, and without explanation. The comic examines the possbile repercussions of such a strange catastrophe, and is unexpectedly wonderful to read. Unmanned is the first trade paperback.

    Fables by Bill Willingham et al. : Take all of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Throw in every nursery rhyme you were ever taught. Now, take all the characters who look human and put them in an underground community in New York City. Take the rest, and put them in upstate New York on a compound called The Farm. Bada bing. Fables. The first volume, Legends in Exile, is a murder mystery; the second, Animal Farm, involves a potential political revolution at The Farm. I really love demented fairytales.

    100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Rizzo : My absolute favorite series. The X-Files meets The Godfather with delicious, snappy film-noir staging and dialogue. A conspiracy story that leaves you feeling accomplished and rewarded with every twist. Currently spanning six trade paperbacks, 100 Bullets is set for a 100-issue run. I intend to own every one.

    Semantic Lace by Sherard Jackson : Also, as described on my Links page. Unfortunately, Mr. Jackson has not updated his website for some time, though I belive that his most recent work, Assembly is out. Gotta check.

    Hellsing by Kohta Hirano : Loved the anime (animated form), and am just as pleased with the manga (comic form). It is in this series that my friends found an anime character that resembles me in appearance, if not exactly in mannerisms: Paladin Alexander Anderson, the lunatic Catholic vampire slayer. In certain panels in the comic, the resemblance is eerie. Beth did a really good job on the costume.

    Everything Can Be Beaten by Crab Scrambly and Chancre Scolex : The two authors of this bizarre little pamphlet are, respectively, Brad Canby and Jhonen Vasquez. The story’s philosophical content is easily missed by the fact that the main character spends all his time whacking things into a liquid state with a large mallet. Each page is a Canby painting with Vasquez’s prose along the bottom in paragraph form. It’s small, cheap, odd, and hey, it’s Vasquez. That’s my excuse.

There are several other series I intend to check out, including just about everything from Vertigo Comics (100 Bullets, Fables, Y: The Last Man, Sandman, etc.). They have a tendency to handle "mature content" with something quite rare these days... maturity.

Know what... contest time. Answer me this: In which Jhonen Vasquez comic, and which scene, does Brad Canby appear? Whoever posts the answer in my guestbook first wins a taco!