Monday, December 8, 2014

A Lengthy Tribute to Greg "Craig Almond's Haggis Tyme" Almodovar.

As I sit here on my couch: my eyes are red and my stomach is full of Wing Stop. Greg has been in my mind these past couple of days, and honestly, how could he not be? He had been missing for days, and it was just confirmed today that his body had been found in the LA river.

I know that if he could see me right now, he would be slightly joyed.

One of the last times we hung out was about a month or two ago and at Del Taco.

There was no real agenda. No rhyme or reason. I had the time; he had the time. There were no upcoming shows, and Del Taco was there.

Sometimes I can be a little bit of a health nut and conservative about my money when it comes to eating out, but on that particular day, I ordered a "Noah's Ark" of Tacos: a fish taco, a chicken taco, a beef taco, and a turkey taco.

I remember just feeling guilty and expressing this to Greg, to which he cheered me on. He even said something along the lines: "Whoo! Go Fatty Kev!"

And in a way, I felt that day was a victory for him, because in our relationship, I was the health-nut, "hates foodies" kind of guy and he was a man who was a foodie, and aspired to be a chef. I came from a background of people with health issues and passed away due to poor nutritional habits, and he was a guy who just really enjoyed fine food.

And so if he were here to see me now, slumped on the couch with a stomach full of 10 wings, a platter of fries, and a tall cup of Dr. Pepper, I just know that he would approve.

Given my background, I was a jerk about unhealthy eating towards him because I cared. I was that way because I truly believe that tough love is absolutely necessary sometimes.

I was born in this world with an older brother but no younger siblings, and like any dickhead who has a younger guy interested in hanging out, for most of 2014, for better or worse and as cliche as it sounds: he was like a brother to me.

I first met Greg around my 26th birthday. I did a string of three shows: "Birth," "Death," and "Re-birth." On October 13, 2013, he showed up to the last show, "Re-birth," which took place in my living room. It was ultimately a failure of show in my book: a bunch of bands giving me shit for throwing the thing and I played arguably one of the worst sets of my life with people who weren't on the same page about things, but I met Greg. I remember my initial impressions of the guy was that he was one of those "ridiculously chill," mellow guys. In most ways, I was right. In other ways, I was absolutely wrong.

Apparently he had seen me before back when I was doing SAD COMEDIAN, and was a fan of my work. He would tell me time and time again that "Stuck in Traffic on the 405" was his favorite song that I wrote. (I would later find out that he partly liked it 'cause it reminded him of his own song: "6 Years Later.")

Being as he was a fan of the now infamously terrible house show I threw, I told him that I was in charge of Shillelagh Open Mic. At the time, I was sort of stuck in the position, so I was doing everything to promote to people to come out a cramped open mic in a location on the outskirts of the whole "downtown Long Beach" scene. When he asked me if the open mics were anything like my house shows, I lied through my teeth and told them each week was a music party.

And so, he started to come nearly every week.

I'm sure he knew he had been hustled and that my open mic show was a bust, but he told me time and time again that he enjoyed chilling and on top of that, he really liked the pictures that resident open mic photographer, Vaughan Risher, would take.

It was from there that I started to really become friends with Greg.

On one hand, we didn't have a lot in common. We aren't bound to stereotypes, but if I were to describe Greg to a stranger on the street, at gunpoint, I would say: "he's one of the most painfully sincere guys around who's trying his best to be the stereotypical, frat-boy broham, but it's not really in him at all. He both is and isn't image conscious." There was definitely a difference in ethos between us: he seemed really big on capturing every moment on photo or on video. (Read this as: he understands Instagram, and while I just opened one, I'm still not completely sold on its purpose or worth as a social media tool.) He was more in line with a party guy than I'll ever be.

On the other hand, we had quite a couple of things in common. We both had a passion for a lot of creative projects. Most notably, we were Asian American songwriters. In a sense, by having him play during my open mic run, I wanted to be the guy who broke him into the scene. I knew that his act was just out of the norm enough that it wouldn't fit the conventional, rock n' roll scene that exists in Long Beach, and my whole schtick for the open mic was giving opportunities to guys in the local scene who would not have opportunities otherwise. (Granted, I didn't have the creative freedom as much as I'd like given the management I was working with, but I made best with what I had and that's neither here nor there.)

From there, we just started hanging out outside of the open mic. It had been a tradition at Shillelagh (one that initially just started between myself and one of the hostess before me) to have a small, post-show "after-party." Being as Greg was newly initiated into the fold, he originally withheld from any of the post-show gatherings, but eventually I convinced him to join for that.

From there, Tuesdays expanded to weekends. I would see him more and more.

A lot of people in their post-grad life have settled down with careers with weird hours as well as lives with significant others. I had none of (and still don't have) those aspirations, so hanging out with someone younger and still working on building his resume felt like a perfect fit. In a post-grad world, its pretty hard to make new friends, so when you do find someone who's worthwhile, you want to keep them around as much as you can.

On top of it just being a post-grad world, you also have a lot of shallow friendships in the local music scene. There's a lot of people who only want you around as a network or as a number at their show. Greg was nothing like that. Greg wanted to get to really know people, and for that, he always seemed down for a lot of whatever bullshit plans I had going down.

We started doing weekend shoots, where we would hang out at bars, get really drunk and just shoot whatever came to mind. Some of my fondest memories were those Fridays and Saturday nights, just showing up to bars, doing people watching and just riffing on who was there. It was particularly fun going with him to karaoke night at Clancy's, and seeing the same dirty, sleazy "Jim Morrison" wannabe decked out in leather and greasy, long hair. We would make fun of that guy so much, as if seeing that guy was part of our weekend ritual.

Greg had already played a couple of shows for me, but I wanted him to meet some of the other players in the local scene. I'll never forget taking him out to Rebel Bite, getting smashed on Stone "Enjoy By" IPAs, going to a "cool kids" show at Clancy's in Long Beach, and (this is no exaggeration) Greg dances with every girl at this bar. It was inspiring considering I don't even bother going out of my way to meet people anymore, and I just felt like the biggest loser, sipping beer in my corner. We also went back that night to my buddy Shonne's place where he managed to jam with a local musician on a cover of "Seven Nation Army" . . . only to go on to vomit in Shonne's toilet right after.

He would message me the next day with: "It seems to be getting worse and worse the more we hang out," and then proceeded to follow it up with: "We're good for Saturday."

And that's one thing that always inspired me about Greg.

I'll admit: I'm a huge defeatist when it comes to myself. I've worked hard for a lot of things for years and years and never been given a lot of evidence that a lot of what I'm working towards is paying off at the end.

Greg was the opposite. Greg had perseverance. On most days, Greg had confidence.

I don't know if it was just youthful optimism or foolishness, but for the most part, Greg never set any limits on himself.

Greg was the kind of guy who, despite having never played bass guitar before in his entire life, stepped up when I needed a bass player. He even talked about being my colorist and inker on some of my comic books, but that never came to fruition on part of my laziness.

Greg was the kind of guy who you'd never guess would go to a cool kids house show party with me, and come back with phone numbers after only being there for an hour or so.

Like all friendships, I'm not going to sit here and lie that there weren't days that he absolutely pissed me off, and I'm sure there were plenty of days where I pissed him off. However, at the end of the day, I respected who he was and what he was all about.

My only regret was that I wasn't able to see him in these final months. Around September, I started working mornings and he started working evenings. He started feeling a little more shut-in, so our schedules never seemed to line-up. I was thinking for sure that once my work clears up from substitute teaching, I would be able to start seeing him again.

I guess it's like all sudden deaths. I really wasn't expecting to be saying "goodbye" to him so soon.

Goodbye, Greg "Gregdozer" Almodovar.

I used to call him that, but he hated it, and tried to call me "KevDozer" in retaliation.

He did like his own moniker of "Craig Almond Haggis Tyme."

So we'll go with that. Goodbye, "Craig Almond Haggis Tyme."

You are missed. You are loved.

I will take on your spirit to better myself.


If you have any memories of Greg, feel free to share them.

If you'd like to donate to help Greg's family with the funeral, follow this link here. The remaining funds will go to the Salvation Army.

(Greg used to work for them. He used to tell me they would play Macklemore's Thrift Store over and over, and he grew to hate that song.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

"What Are We Doing?": A Brief Lesson on Love as Told by a Reject

Truthfully, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever known.
And the best part? She wanted to see me.

And so she calls on the telephone. I pick up.

Her: "Hey. So are we still on for today?"
Me: "Of course."
Her: "Well what do you want to do?"
Me: "I don't know. Doesn't matter really. I just want to see you. Is that fine?"
Her: "Yeah, but what are we doing?"
Me: "Ski ball. A restaurant. Ikea. A bookstore. Lay on the couch and talk. Anything, really."
Her: "Yeah, but what are we doing?"
Me: ". . . . . . We'll figure it out when I get there."
Her: "Hmm. Maybe we should do this some other time when you have something planned."

Now, of course, there are two ways to see this. If you side with her, you can say that I'm indecisive.

But if you're anything like me, I realized then and there that not even a cute smile, beautiful green eyes, and perky breasts can save someone who doesn't understand: "It doesn't matter where you go, it's who you're with."

I may get lonely and depressed all the time, but even I know better.

Why can't people just enjoy other people's company?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

No, no. I'm Aware Most Men Don't Think Like This. (Or Maybe They Do.)

What I'm about to write about can be taken two different ways. The first of which is that most men do not think like this. This is not because it is particularly "masculine" to think this way, but because most men will take anything that is thrown at them, especially when it is something socially deemed as "positive." [I would imagine both genders do.] The second way that this can be taken is that it's "okay" for men to think the opposite of this, as after all, if you consider the images that are thrown at us in advertising, how could you not think the "appropriate" way?

It's getting convoluted pretty fast, so let's get down to it. Here's the big confession on a weird way that I think: generally speaking, I get insulted whenever I get complimented on my looks.

Here's a potential counter argument to this: "Gee, Kevin. Have you looked in the mirror? You're one ugly motherfucker. If someone finds you attractive, you should take it as a compliment, you ungrateful, tubby piece o' shit."

And yes, I've been called "ugly" more in my life than I have been called "cute" or "hot." And yes, you're right: if someone finds me attractive, I should be grateful as it happens once in every blue moon.

However, here's the bottom line about this: I had nothing to do with my looks. At the end of the day, for the most part, no one is. I mean, you can dress up a potato all you want, but at the end of the day, it's still a potato. . . except now it awkwardly has lipstick, a wig, and poorly drawn eyes. Do you see where I'm going with this?

If you truly wanted to say, "Hey Kevin, you look great," please do me one huge favor: go up to my parents, and tell them: "Ya done good." You can even point to their genitalia and flash a "thumbs up" if you really want to get the point across.

This shallow world we live in is particularly frustrating as a thinker and as an artist. It rarely happens, but on occasion, I'll meet girls who spend multiple encounters complimenting my looks who will tell me: "I really get you. I like how much of a 'nonconformist' you are." [Not that I've EVER claimed to be against the grain, nor do I ever approve of the pretentiousness of ever 'getting' someone, but I digress.] However, when it comes down to getting dirty and nasty [and, no, I'm not talking about sex here] and talking about what they thought about something I've wasted hours and hours slaving on, they have nothing to say. They give me the look of a lost student who has obviously not done their homework, and I'm really unsure what is it that they "get." Very often, it seems like people like the idea of knowing an artist, instead of knowing the art.

I know this sounds like a bit of an ego-trip, but they really didn't bother to know me. And sure, you can argue: "well, can't you just like the person, and not the art?" I honestly don't think so. I can't speak for all creative people out there, but there's a personal aspect to their craft that just can't be separated. People who know the real me generally have a pretty strong grasp of what my songs or my writings are about. I suppose "liking" my art is irrelevant, but people who bothered to know me can actually make connections, and at the end of the day, that's what's truly important.

This can be applied to anything, but I feel it has been embedded in other finger-wagging, cliched sermons: discussions about how you should not judge a book by it's cover. However, even these are riddled with tired and overused sentiments that people are forgetting the big picture. I know this may seem a bit ironic, but I know I am tired of unattractive people whining because nobody gets them. The cliche goes that inside every ugly duckling, there is a beautiful swan, but I'm slowly learning that this usually not the case; sometimes inside of a shitty looking person IS a shitty person.

So the point of this is simple: don't be shallow. There are multiple ways to be shallow. You can think someone is "good looking," but don't bother claiming you "know" them or think this is all that should matter, because it matters jack shit to me. You can also believe that inside every ugly duckling there is good, but aren't you just really buying into an age old cliche? Why not just assume every jock is an asshole and ever nerd is a saint while you're at it?

At the end of the day, get to know someone. Give a fuck.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Not Much of Anything At All. Shove a Crayon Up Your Nose.

1. I somehow stumbled upon a quote from Gundam creator, Yoshiyuki Tomino [a.k.a. "Kill 'Em All Tomino"] where he stated in 2009 that videogames are "evil," do not promote any sort of productivity, and that a lot of electricity will be drained if we all jump on board and started playing. Of course, what do you say to that? Tomino's franchise Gundam spawned countless videogames, including the recently released Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3. The Gundam series itself glorifies technology. I don't want to dismiss Tomino's argument here as just "pretentious director drivel," and as a guy who grew up playing videogames, I want to reassess things: did my gaming amount to pro-social behavior? I guess I can't really judge that for myself. I do much prefer playing videogames with people, in-person, and at an audible level where I can talk to them: otherwise, it feels like either masturbation or going to strip clubs.

While I do think it's kind of a messed-up sentiment, I do think Hideki Anno's point that the otaku lifestyle is kind of like "forced autism" is poignant.

2. Sometimes, you got to wonder if some people only have one setting: "ridicule mode." It's a sensibility of "fuck kindness, I wanna be funny." Everyone wants to be "Howard Stern," and I'm too crudmudgeony now to enjoy that 24/7. I suppose life without irony and sarcasm would be boring, but life with too much of it: well, that's where we're at sometimes. I've come to accept that some people are just going to insult you nonstop in conversation, but when it gets to that point: is that really someone you want to have around?

3. Having lived through the 90's with its extreme glamoration of sex, sarcasm, being "dark" and violence, nowadays, if you really want to have "shock value" and surprise me. . . be a sincere person. Do the right thing in moments when it matters, especially when it sucks. Go out of your way for people. Admit your fuck ups, and blame yourself. Don't get lazy, and this could mean whatever you want it to mean, but whatever you do, give a shit.

4. At the end of the day, for any revolution, all you need is for someone to say "yes." Whatever your "revolution" is, well, that's entirely up to you. As long as you've got people dumb enough or simpatico with your ideals, you pretty much can accomplish anything.

5. You can pretty much warp around anything ever said, and with everyone having their own unique persepctive, words like "good" and "evil" are just obscurred. It really is "shades of grey." Of course, I can't stop people from thinking about "evil" all the time; that it wears a top hat, wears a cape, and has a curly moustache.

6. I honestly don't want it ever to get to a point with people that if I wanted to see someone, I'd just turn on my computer and log on facebook.

7. Very few people are what they say they are. Everyone thinks they're different. Everyone thinks they're right. Everyone thinks they're funny. Everyone thinks they're wacky. Everyone thinks they're crazy. Everybody's hungry. Everybody poops. And it's all glamour. It's all a fashion statement. Because the truly out-there people I've met in my life are well aware that it's a blessing and a curse. And people buy into things; watch a movie and get a sense of entitlement because they were fed over and over they're "special." They want the lifestyle of the "other"; being against the mold makes you "special." And truly, everyone's special in their own way, and for that, no one is special. People may say I value things that don't perfectly fit a mold, but at the end of the day, I want to be a part of the human race. . . which is a neverending quest that is both joyous and depressing.

At the end of the day, if you are so concerned about being counterculture and snob everyone else that isn't, you really aren't changing the status quo of the culture that shunned you. To truly break the status quo, accept people.

8. I could never be vegetarian, but if I did, I'd imagine it'd be over my mom's fried vegetable lumpia. But y'know, if I were to go vegetarian, it'd make quite the fashion statement. . . kind like owning a blog. So much you can assume about vegetarians and bloggers when perhaps the only truth is that we'll never know anything about anyone at all. I firmly believe that nobody ever truly understands each other; not even husbands and wives. And this is fine. To truly trust, and to give in to uncertainty and the unknown; well I truly believe that is love.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Mysterious Beauty of Life

Every day with her is special,

But on Monday, I give Marjorie a card that reads:

“Happy Zombie Presidents Day.

Abe Lincoln died for our sins.”

Every thing crumbles when she laughs,

But I absolutely hate it

when she says,

“You're too sweet.”

I confess everything;

of cops and robbers

of girls and bands

of gummy bears and mountain dew.

I tell her that I hate Poetry

But being poetic, like pro rasslin,' is pretty cool.

That moon jellies dance, that P.E. is always in the house,

And that Shakespeare was just as confused as everyone else.

I admit that I've always wanted to be about

sunshine, flowers, and good feelings

But I've been asked way too many times if I'm a foo who knows kung-fu

Beckoning my feet to constantly fail Anger Management 101.

I tell her that I'll always be my father's stubborn child

And my mummy's innocent saint.

That I'll always have my best friends,

and that they will always have my back to stab, to eat, and to feast.

In a world full of big talk and bigger silence,

I rat myself out.

I tell her that we're a billion things

and the illusion is that we're all nothing.

Marjorie smiles. She is into tarot.

Her cat eyes shimmers and glows.

And she says, “You're the devil;

Cunning, unexpected, and horribly charismatic.”

I've never felt more lost and hurt before in my life, but she pulls me in.

We kiss. Twenty. Three. Skidoo. . . I guess I'm over it.

Rain pours, and I'll never know what's going on in this world,

But I absolutely wouldn’t want it any other way.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Birds Peck At You When You're Older

I remember my first taste of pier food.
There's something really magical about it, y'know?
Completely unhealthy, but who cares about that when you're a kid? Nowadays, you can go to a fast food place and get some churros. To me, getting the snack was an event. I would always associate it with spending a nice day at the pier.
I remember sharing it with the birds. Winged critters from all over the world would gather at my feet to consume the sugary pastry. It was a bird-watcher's perverse, wet-dream: pigeons, gulls, pelicans; you name it, and they were there.
At first, my parents thought it was cute. Patrons of the pier would walk by and think “what a sweet kid.” Every week, I was reinforcing the idea that “sharing is caring.”
However, after a month, my parents thought that I was sick.
They soon realized that I was feeding more to the birds than I was actually eating for myself. Eventually, they stopped giving me money for food at the pier because they knew I was just going to give it to the 'damned winged rats' anyways.
And so, the congregation of fine fowls at the Muddson Pier never united ever again; the circus was closed and the carnival was over.
As I stood alone by the bird shit, it was then and there that I learned the hard way that life was going to be a series of mixed signals, and nothing was ever going to be truly right or wrong.

* * *

Trey played with his iPhone. The lights in the room flickered.
“Faggot,” he muttered.
I'm pretty sure if the same story was mentioned in a motion picture, he would think that it was profound, but I digress. You can't win them all.
I thought of a story that would interest him.
“I stepped on a condom outside of Bullseye.”
Trey's eyes widened. “Was it used?”
“Well, I almost mistook it for chewed gum and bird poop, but yes, it was used. It was flat as a dead bug, with its guts spilled all over the pavement.”
Trey smiled with delight. A lot of people go inside of that Bullseye. It's the department store right across from our apartment.
“Nothing says 'Welcome to Muddson' quite like a used condom,” said Trey.
“That reminds me of another pier memory,” I followed up. “Everyone knows that there's nothing living in the polluted waters of Muddson, and so my friends and I used to go condom fishing every Sunday.”
I motioned with my fingers. “I once caught a big mouth about yay big. It was amazing!”
Trey laughed. “Nice. That's great. Y'know, Dave, it seems like the whole world is getting laid but you.”
Trey continued to cackle, but I didn't join him. It was such a douchebag comment, but I guess I can't say anything. It had become a rule of the modern man to just let assholes be assholes. Being a jerk is the only way to have a sense of humor these days.
And besides, he was right. I should stop with the nerdy stories anyways. It made me sound like an old man.
Trey got up and pulled his jacket off the coat hanger.
“I'm off to go see Nicky. Catch ya later dude.”
“Take it easy.”
Trey left and the lights went out. We were trying to cut back on energy usage, which was the only reason why story time began.
In ways, it felt nice. It felt like Trey and I were cavemen, sharing stories the old fashioned way. But I guess, in ways, it wasn't. Trey and I are not quite the same.
He fits in this world. This is why he was out on a Friday night and I'm at home in the dark.
I crawled to my room, and turned on the record player. I had left Margo Guryan's 1968 LP “Take A Picture” on the turntable, and it spun. The night turned into day through its vibrant songs.
I studied the wooden contraption. I thought about all the implications this world can make about me by owning such a thing: am I a music lover, or am I a trendy hipster by being 'retro?' Even better, listening to an obscure artist probably makes people I assume I'm an artsy-fartsy, music-Nazi jerkoff. Does listening to sixties music filled with sunshine, flowers, and good feelings make me a feminine guy who's going to wake up early tomorrow just to prance in fields with my dick nowhere to be found?
I'm also sure people have or will assume I think I'm better for feeling like an anachronism.
But in truth, I guess that I just don't know.
I don't want to point my finger like a gun; I'll keep it in its holster.
I have no clue what the answers are, but I am certain of two things: (1) This world sure has a billion ways to make you feel like crap, and (2) Margo Guryan wrote some good songs.
I closed my eyes, and went to sleep.
I dreamed that black birds pecked through my window, and surrounded my bedroom. The room became flooded in darkness, and there was nothing left to be seen.
It was perfect.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It's actually been a long time since I've posted on this blog. There are a billion things I should have talked about by now, but I didn't get around to them. Rest assured, this blog is very much alive.

But for now, all I want to do is write this little tidbit on friendship, because I think it's very important:

"The people you are willing to spoil are your friends. You do so because you care about them. The people who expect you to spoil them, they are vampires. They are not your friends, and you should be wary of them."

It's just a friendly reminder out there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bootlegs of the Untitled Band - "I Only Hate You" (All the things you did and didn't want to know about it)

I am writing this blog here to commemorate the release of this:

I wrote this song back in the fall of 2008, around the time of my 21st birthday. (I'd like to say late September or early October.) The funny story about the song is that it's obviously about a girl, but I think the muse either doesn't know or refuses to acknowledge that it's about her. Conversely, a great deal of my closer female friends have asked if it was about them, which, to me, comes off as sort of "weird." I've only had this bizarre relationship with the girl that I wrote this song about.

I remember once I was done writing the song, I was ready to throw it away or let it fall into the wealth of obscure songs that I didn't feel completely "sold" on. However, much to my surprise, when I debuted the song, it was met with such a warm reaction that I had a change of heart about it. That, and Pat Delaney convinced me that it was a great song. (This wasn't the first time he stopped me from throwing away a "great songs.")

To this day, it confuses me that the song has amassed a great amount of plays, despite it not being too old of a song on the Bootlegs of the Untitled Band myspace. I have performed it a couple of times when I was working on a college radio show, and I've also done a parody of the song called "Moon Jelly Records Joke Promo" that can be heard here. It was also one of the very first release as a single from my "record" label.

Despite its exposure, I'm definitely not delusional about it because if I truly had accomplished Internet success, I definitely wouldn't have trouble being signed or landing a record deal. However, I do have to wonder: who is listening to this song?

Regardless, on August 13, 2009 (almost a year since I wrote and recorded the song), Bootlegs of the Untitled Band partnered with our good friend, Saikyo Studios, to shoot the "I Only Hate You" music video. The conceptual planning for the video took place months ago, with various ideas being thrown in multiple directions. The original idea was a little too ambitious, and perhaps harder to shoot: I wanted to use vast locales, props, and a creepy shot that would require me slowly gliding out from under a bed.

Needless to say, the film, because of the 1960's vibe that the song is spiritually related to, we settled to shoot the video as a performance on a fictional variety show. It was later dubbed "The Chris Plummer Show" because our friend would be playing the talk show host.

While we tried to keep it in the spirit of the 60's, the film breaks it's ties with the era. I mean, after all, how 60's can you keep it when the song itself has the lyrics: "The fucking love songs/don't know shit on what I feel." And so the video has some wild gestures, dancing, and of course, minorities.

There were some fun shots that ended up getting cut out: I started stripping, Pat did a pretty sick punt to the air, Plummer pretended that his golf club was a guitar, the lights of the show flickered on and off to the beat of the song, amongst many others. However, I felt that it was better to subdue ourselves a bit. Some of the shots were just too ridiculous, while others just wouldn't work with the rest of the footage.

So there you have it. That's all about "I Only Hate You." I guess that last thing I could say that it will be appearing on a future release, but I'm never sure when I'll finish said release.

Here's full credits about the music video that you probably don't care about:

Bootlegs of the Untitled Band
"I Only Hate You."

Written and Performed by Bootlegs of the Untitled Band.
Bootlegs of the Untitled Band appears courtesy of Moon Jelly Records

Directed by Chrisopher Plummer and Bootlegs of the Untitled Band.

Kevin Ng . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . himself, annoying crowd heckler.
Patrick Delaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . himself, "light" man.
Christopher Plummer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . talk show host.
Aya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Audience member.
Jonathan Ng . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jellyfish puppeteer

Shot at Kevin's garage in Carson, CA.

Edited by Christopher Plummer and Kevin Ng
Cinematography by Christopher Plummer.
Lighting by Aya.

Produced by Saikyo Studios 2009.

"Playing on the stage is probably one of the only times that I feel like if there is a heaven on earth. . . if there's a heaven on earth, that's when I'm performing. That I don't know who the president is, and I don't know who got arrested, and I don't know, I don't know anything but how, how wonderful it is . . . to [through] the ends of your fingers to talk to thousands of people out there in that audience."

Dedicated to the Memory of Les Paul. (June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009)

Without Les Paul, "I Only Hate You" (and a lot of songs) probably wouldn't exist being as it features his innovation of overdubs and multitasking.

Here are some fun tidbits in the film:
-The beginning of the film acknowledges that the footage was found in a film vault in Carson, CA, and yet, talk show host Chris Plummer says, "This band comes all the way from Carson, CA."
-Mini vinyl is a Verbatim brand CD-R that looks like a vinyl.
-On Chris Plummer's desk is an 8th grade picture of my brother.
-Patrick is holding up the light for Plummer. He is barely visible, but you can see him to the right of the screen.
-Aya and myself made the crowd noises.
-My brother was in charge of the jellyfish, in which he kept purposely hitting me in the head with.
-Most of the footage was shot on August 13, 2009. The close-up shots of myself were filmed the next night on August 14 by me and my brother. In one shot, I'll have a budding mustache, and the other shots I'll be clean shaven and sweaty. (Those are not tears.) I also look significantly dead tired in the close up footage.
-Patrick does not play the exact chords that's heard on the recording.
-The recording features an acoustic guitar, but Patrick is playing an electric Epihone Les Paul in the video. We did this to further the tribute to Les Paul.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thank You, Hit Singles

Oh, this one is short and sweet, because we like everything nice and compact.
Just look at cellphones!

This is just a shout out to the hit singles.
Not just the songs featured on the radio
but the songs featured on television
and motion pictures! God, I love motion pictures
'cause I can just sit down and have
everything efficient! The experience is like
taking shits
and popping pills! HOORAY!

I'm kidding. I have nothing against liking singles or finding out about a band through whatever form of media. However, songwriters pour their souls just to have 90% of their shit ignored.

But no, we all want to be pop culture guys and dolls. I get it: I'm not featured in a cute movie with Michael Cera. Thank you, hit singles.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mark Waid's "Irredeemable"

(NOTE: You can right click, and then "Open in new tab" to see the images bigger.)

"Everyone's afraid of their own life
If you could be anything you want
You'd be disappointed, am I right?
No one really knows the one's they love
If you knew everything they thought
I bet that they'd just shut up."

-Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse-
(from the opening lines of the song, "Lives")

That particular piece is off the 2000 album The Moon & Antarctica. Mainstream listeners probably only know Modest Mouse's radio hits, and they really aren't one trick ponies. (I, for one, am pretty upset when people only know my music for just one song.) You can listen to this particular diddly here.

The epigraph relates to what I'll be discussing today. It's something I haven't been able to shut up about for awhile: Mark Waid's "Irredeemable."

There will be spoilers. I already know that most people don't read comics unless if a new superhero movie comes out, in which everyone doesn't shut up about Spider-Man, Batman, or Watchmen. Hopefully you will think differently about comics after reading this as there has been a lot of great literary works that have come out after the first wave of underground comics (Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Harvey Pekar) and modern comics (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and yes, even fuckin' Frank Miller.)

This isn't to say that there isn't a lot of lame comics out there. Some "adult" comics have nothing really mature about them, and are just excuses to show titties and dicks. Superhero books try to be "dark" by unreasonably inserting bizarre love affairs, deaths, and deals with the devil. So, no, not everything is gold, and sometimes you just got to listen to word of mouth. For the most part, that's what I do.

I first found out about Irredeemable from Blair Butler's Fresh Ink Blog. It just sounded like something I would be interested in, and I usually tend to see eye to eye with Blaire. I generally hate comic book bloggers, but she is one of the better ones if solely for the fact that I feel there's a certain level of sincerity, as opposed to other comic book reviewers who try too hard to come off as "cool" or "funny." (Furthermore, she likes The Luna Brothers, Brian K. Vaughn, and Damon Lindelof, and that's always a plus for me.)

What caught me about her words about Irredeemable was that it was a "superhero deconstruction," (I love any literary deconstruction) and that the premise had to do with: "a Superman-esque hero who finally gets tired of being a 'good guy,' and kills everyone."

When I first heard that Irredeemable was written by Mark Waid, my initial reaction was: "What? The guy who wrote Impulse??" Impulse was a series of fun, teenage stories. It was entertaining, but I certainly would not expect the writer to do something such as Irredeemable. Well, needless to say, I was wrong, and I certainly did not know Mark Waid.

I did not know that Mark Waid had written two critically acclaimed works: Kingdom Come and Empire. Kingdom Come dealt with the "ethical price of superheroism," and Empire had to do with what would happen if the super villains had won. In regards to Irredeemable, Waid has stated that it is ""about how the lessons we learn about right and wrong as children can become warped and twisted when challenged by the realities of the adult world" and "how does a man go from being the world’s greatest superhero to its greatest supervillain?"

It was a hunt to find the first issue being as it sold out at most places. I eventually did find it, but it took walking into the comic shop with the worst customer service. (It makes perfect sense, doesn't it?)

Needless to say, I was pretty blown away by it. The beginning to it is pretty nuts. If you'd like to stop and check out what I'm talking about, here's a preview of the first seven pages.

Three issues have been released, and this is the story thus far: "The Plutonian, Earth's most powerful and beloved man, has gone rogue. In recent weeks, millions have died at his hands and entire cities have been lost. Now, his former teammates, the Paradigm, are combing through the Plutonian's past, searching desperately for clues as to why a god has turned evil, what he wants... and if there's any way to stop him."

My favorite panel comes from the first issue. The Plutonian's sidekick, Samsara, recollects when he first met his mentor. It was during a baseball game in which the great superhero defuses a nuclear bomb, saving the lives of everyone in the stadium. Nearly everyone is cheering for the rescue, but you got to consider that The Plutonian has super hearing:

How's that for good character work? Look at his facial expression!

Whereas superhero comics tend to have characters who have big hearts to go along with their powers, Waid has stated that his character does not have the emotional capacity to not let the world get to him. He also pointed out that by classic superhero rules, heroes can't concern themselves with what people think of them. His counterargument to this is: "if you are so far removed as to not care what people think of you, it takes one less step to not care what people think."

This following page should be one of the all-time greatest moments in comic history. Issue #2, features a flashback of when Alana Patel (the Lois Lane of the series) finds out that mild mannered Dan Hartigan is The Plutonian:

She feels that this whole time Dan Hartigan had been laughing behind her back, and that this was all a joke to him. The Plutonian tells her, "You mean everything to me and I'll protect you forever. I swear. Alana, you love me. I showed who I am and you still love me." Alana is freaked out by the whole ordeal and responds with, "Love you? I don't even know you!"

I won't go into detail about the third issue, but all I can say is that the opening pages features probably one of the most disturbing things I've ever read. What happens in the beginning sounds like something you'd hear from your crude, immature friend sharing a story about some porn he just watched.

Regardless, I still feel that Mark Waid's Irredeemable is an intellectual work that everyone should check out. Do I think it's going to end well? I really hope so. I'd hate to see another series with a strong beginning, but a crappy ending.

What I really love about Irredeemable's first three issues is that it is turning out to be the ultimate story about the nice guy going bad. There's the age old theory that a person is only an asshole, because originally he was too much of a good guy. I'm not going to say it's like Christopher Nolan's film "The Dark Knight," in which the character Harvey "Two-Face" Dent had his whole spiel about, "you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain," because whereas Dent always showed signs of being corrupt, flashbacks of the Plutonian portray that he was lovable, dependable, highly logical, friendly, and just had the makings of what you'd expect from your typical "goody, two-shoes" superhero.

But as the more "superhuman" you become, the more disconnected you are from things. The closer you get to godliness, the more people begin to look like statistics and ants. If you've saved the day, and did the right things a billion times, every thing becomes formulaic, and it always hurts the most when you're right, when you want to be wrong. (And believe me, issue three has a part where The Plutonian is unfortunately right about people.)

While I am by no means, a superhero, I can certainly relate to The Plutonian. I'm pretty sure a lot of people can. How many times have you done what you felt was "the right thing," and still have things blow up in your face? You can have all the praise and adulation from everyone, but suppose the one person you love the most was still an unrequited situation? Perhaps you do favors for people, but they don't ever think about checking up on you; all they care about is what else you can do for them. (The characters in the comic are feeling the ramifications of never getting around to knowing who the Plutonian truly was.) You can't be a caring person in this world without being a martyr, and I feel that The Plutionian character has taken all the bullshit that he can, and has pretty much decreed, "fuck it."

The 1986 Alan Moore graphic novel (Irredeemable is loosely inspired by Moore's "Twilight of the Superheroes" concept) Watchmen has a joke involving the clown, Pagliacci:

"Heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, 'Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up. Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor. . . I am Pagliacci."

The Plutonian is probably a lonely guy who has no one to confide in, and nothing can cheer him up.

I'm sure if you read Irredeemable, you'll think that The Plutonian is an asshole, but I feel he's more human than most superheroes.

Irredeemable is published and copyrighted by BOOM! Studios. (2009.)