18 May 2010

i can't smile without you

I've been called "bitter", "abrasive", "cold", "cynical", "a bitch", and, yeah, I own up to that.  But that's only a teeny part of my personality. What about the side of me that finds joy in the little things?  Inspired partly by The Book of Awesome (which everyone should read, even though I'm not in it.  Maybe I'll make the sequel) and partly by the fact that my blogs have been pretty buzzkilly, I've decided to make a list of random things that make me smile.  I don't have to justify them (though I probably will, because that's my way), but they are what they are and that's all I can say about that. 

 Hearing songs I loved in high school on the radio.
 Sure they usually turn up on some alternative station's "Retro Lunch Hour", but that's ok.  It's weird, because I'm not overly nostalgic for high school, but you give me the opening bars of "No Rain" by Blind Melon, and I'm grinning like an idiot.  

Photos of my friend's two girls. 
It's not some weird biological clock thing. These kids are just that awesome.   

 Inside jokes.
This is pretty explanatory.  It's why I find it hysterical that a friend sends me lobster memorabilia, or that after a visit to the East Coast, I was gifted with lobster printed socks and a lobster pen. No one really knows the true story behind Mr Pinchy, the squeaky lobster on  my desk at work, but that's ok.  All I have to do is squeeze his belly and I'm giggling.  

Getting thick envelopes full of goodness in the mail
Sure e-mail is good for the speed and convenience, but honestly, you can't beat getting something addressed to you in familar script that isn't someone looking for money.  It's something that someone you know saw and thought enough of you to not only buy it, but send it to you by pony express.  It could be letters, decos, swaps, stuff you've ordered online, it doesn't matter.  The point is that it's addressed to me for the sheer purpose of my happiness.

The Cheezburger Network
Home to LOLCats, Demotivational Posters, Engrish Funny, and so much more, I have lost track of the hours that I have lost to these sites, but all of them make me smile, and laugh like Edna Krabapple. Seriously.  It's like, the sexiest thing ever.  

Regretsy and CakeWrecks.
Just...go to these sites.  I can't say anything else.  I think they're that teeny bit more funny if you're a crafter or even slightly artistic, but if not, how can you not appreciate a website that describes itself as "Where DIY meets WTF"?, and who among us hasn't wished for a cake with sprinkles....lots and lots of sprinkles...  

Adam Lambert. 
Seriously, could he be any hotter?  

Eye candy in general.
Male, female, black, white, gay, straight...I don't care.  If you're pleasing to my eye, you make me smile

 (It's the cover art for her single "Thank God, I'm Pretty".  What.)

The musical numbers on Glee.
I was a theatre geek in high school  I don't have to say any more.

New Pyjamas
I know this makes me sound like I'm eighty, but I never realised the power of pyjamas till I bought some on a whim a couple years back.  I was always a big fan of the flannel pants-old high school play t-shirt combo, but then I saw a pair of pj's that I just had to have. So I did.  Now that's pretty much all I wear.  From their outlandish printed bottoms to their subtle matching tops (or vice versa), pyjamas are just the best.  If you're having a bad day, go out and buy yourself some new jams, have a shower, slide into them, then curl up with bad tv and comfort food and I guarantee you'll feel a zillion times better.

My friends.
What can I say?  My friends rock.  Be they old school friend, penpal, interfriend, blog buddy, or someone who sent me something cool because I ordered it from their Etsy site.  You all make me smile and I love you for it.

15 May 2010

son of a preacher man

Confession: I love comics.


I am more of a fan of the graphic novel though, since they take up less space than boxes and boxes full of bag and board, which I would invariably have, and, I dunno; I'm a book lover.  I like my magazines just fine, but if I'm going to read or follow a "story", I prefer it to be in book form.  I'm just weird that way.

Like most people my age, I grew up on a steady diet of Sunday funnies and Archie Comics and hour upon hour of Saturday morning cartoons.  To this day, I still love animated films and various comic strips and lament the loss of some of the greats (I miss you Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes).  Despite all of this, as I got older, I clung desperately to the stereotype that all people who liked comic books were socially retarded losers who spent all of their time debating things like who would win in a fight - Spider Man or Batman.  I was a snob, I admit it.  Even though some of my closest friends were hardcore into comics, I still mocked them.

And then I read "The Crow".  I won't say it changed my life, but it certainly changed the way I looked at comics.  They weren't all just cheesy superheroes with cheesy dialogue.  They were gritty and dark and had an element of realism to them that was actually really cool.  But I still wasn't convinced.

Time went on and some of my most favourite movies turned out to be based on comics, and I still wasn't convinced.  Comics were for the dorks who sat pimply-faced in a basement playing Dungeons and Dragons.  A friend did a presentation in high school about comics being legitimate forms of literature, and I thought, "Wow, some people are really passionate about this sort of thing", and he made valid points, but I wasn't going to be won over that easily.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I had become friends with a cartoonist from Australia who I totally blame for my conversion.  He sent me copies of the Death trade paperbacks, (Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life) and that was it.  I mean, how could I not love a perky goth gal who was not only the end of life, but a guardian of souls?  It had reminded me a lot of The Crow, but with a vagina. Granted, at the time, I was all about the goth aspect, but there was something about the way this story was written that had me jonesing for more.

I fell into the world of comics fast and furious.  I was soliciting advice from my comic loving friends as to what I should read/buy next.  I read exclusively "indie" lines - Lenore, Johnny The Homocidal Maniac, My Monkey's Name is Jennifer, The Adventures of Sock Monkey, and so on.  But I never read anything as amazing as Preacher.

 "Three or four years ago I was getting ready to begin writing my own take on the western.It would be called PREACHER, I'd decided, and though set in  modern-day Texas it would have all the hallmarks of the stories I grew up on. The hero would stand four-square for what was right and just, the girl would  be beautiful, the sidekick a rogue, the villains a bunch of shits, the comic relief  an annoying little bastard" (Garth Ennis, writer of the Preacher)

Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher (get it?) from a small town in Texas who was "accidentally" possessed by the supernatural creature named Genesis in an incident which killed his entire congregation and flattened his church. Genesis was the product of the coupling of an angel and a demon and being made up of both pure goodness and pure evil, it might have enough power to rival that of God himself. In other words, Jesse Custer, (aka "J.C.:") may have become the most powerful being in the whole of living existence.

Custer, driven by a strong sense of right and wrong, goes on a journey attempting to (literally) find God, who abandoned Heaven the moment Genesis was born. He also begins to discover the truth about his new powers, which allow him to command the obedience of those who hear his words. He is joined by his old girlfriend Tulip, as well as a hard-drinking Irish vampire named Cassidy.  (I know, right.  But wait - it gets better.)

My personal favourite character in the whole series would have to be Arseface.  Yeah, you read that right.    After a severe beating by his father, and learning of Kurt Cobain's suicide, Arseface makes a suicide pact with his best friend, who puts a shotgun in his mouth and successfully kills himself, while Arseface places the shotgun under his chin, which severely deforms his face instead of killing him. During his father’s investigation in the J.C. case, the boy stows away in his father's car. During a confrontation with Jesse and the Saint of Killers, Cassidy remarks that the boy’s face looked like an arse.  Hence, "Arseface".

I'm also a big fan of Tulip, who, unlike most literary girlfriends, does not play the victim.  Hell, after her mom died in childbirth, her father raised her like the son he never had, introducing her to firearms, hunting, fishing, and war stories, so you know she's gonna kick yer ass. She takes no shit from anyone and totally calls Jesse on his sexist bullshit whenever he tries to pull the old, "Man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" excuse for abandoning her many times throughout the series. She may be named after a flower, but she will eff you up.

I know it all seems like too much, but seriously, it's probably the best thing I've read in a long time. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of violence in Preacher. A LOT.  Some of it funny, cartoonish violence, some of it graphic, some of it richly deserved and a lot of it senseless. Heads are blown off in gory detail, people are punched so hard that they lose half their teeth. Blood is splattered against walls and viscera is ejected across the landscape.  No punches are pulled. No cut away shots to avoid the awful gory glory of violence. It's there and it's in your face and there's nothing you can do about it.  (Ok, you could not read the books, but then you'd be missing out)
And for this reason, and many others, I think it's why people are often surprised to hear that not only do I enjoy comics, but I enjoy violent comics. Not as a rule or anything, but something about this series really got to me.  I may never know why.  All I know is Preacher = Best. Comic. Ever.