Thursday, February 24, 2005

That's Good / That's Bad: The Day in Review.

Still in the middle of crunch time at school, I've suspected that I've had attention deficit disorder (ADD) as I've had difficulty concentrating on school work. So, I go to the doctor, and he tells me I don't have ADD. That's good.

However, it's not so much that I don't have ADD (no test was administered, because my doctor "didn't have time"), but I don't have a doctor that doesn't dispense pills like candy (I think that's good). Therefore, he only dispenses prescriptions for Ritalin if a parent comes in with their kid and their kid isn't sitting still and destroying the office. According to him, I'm "functional." Therefore, no Ritalin for me. And, therefore, I find myself blogging, watching DVDs, and goofing off when I should be studying. That's bad.

But, being that I was in my doctor's office (and I didn't want him to think that I was just pill chasing), I decided to have a bunch of other things done while I was at it, so I got my tetatanus shot upgraded. Therefore, I don't have to worry if I happen to step on a rusty nail. That's good.

Three scars, left leg

Back in 1994, I underwent a surgical technique called Ilizarov surgery, which involves having crooked or deformed bones corrected by surgically breaking them (via cortiotomy) and then straightening them through a network of wires pins and screws (click the link to learn more). This process also involves pins that are drilled to the bone through the skin. Since the pins were removed, the bone reacted and not only healed up the hole, but generated scar tissue and excess bone growth. Excess bone growth manifests itself as lumps under the skin. If I'm wearing functionally tight fitting footwear like snowboard boots or rollerblades for more than six hours at a time, I will be left with blisters or abrasions over the pin sites. I asked my doctor if I can do anything about that (eg: surgeon goes in and sands them down or something like that), but my doctor says it'll likely come back and even worse than before. That's bad.

"Fell in Love with a Girl" by the White Stripes,
transcribed entirely with my right hand

One of my goals of the year is to become ambidextrous, so I've taken steps by doing the daily morning crossword with my right hand while I eat cereal with my left (I'm left handed). So far, the results are somewhat mixed. Today, I got bored in class, so I wrote out the lyrics to "Fell in Love with a Girl" by the White Stripes with my right hand. Surprisingly, it's actually legible. Barely. That's good.

While I was at the doctor's office, when asking about options about what to do about the excess bone growth in my legs, he pulled out a catalogue of braces, supports, and tapes from an athletic medicine company. I mentioned off hand that I wear a wrist brace (actually a wrist guard for inline skating) during my martial arts classes. I then go into the story about how I crunched my left wrist after messing up a backflip. He asks to examine at the wrist. I stress it in a certain way that isn't painful, but causes weird crunching sounds (the other wrist doesn't do that). I also explain that certain movements cause pain while others do not. He then goes on to say that it won't get better on its own and will need surgery to repair. It'll take at least six weeks to recover, plus rehabilitation. He issued me an appointment card to get my left wrist x-rayed. I need that hand to write and my right-handed penmanship is not that legible. That's bad.

I submitted my portfolio for a summer work experience session through my school program. I submitted lots of eye-catching colour images, which I think will help, because I already talked to the person doing hiring and she indicated that she'd be interested in seeing them. I think I have a really good shot at that position. That's good.

Unfortunately, the summer experience is spread out over the entire summer, which means booking time off to get my surgery done will be difficult. Plus, it'll make finding paying work during the summer pretty difficult too. That's bad.

The school week is finally over. That's good.

I barely have enough time to study and work at the same time. That's bad.

If I quit my job, I'll have more time to study. That'll be good.

If I quit my job, I'll be broke. That'll be bad.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

To Do List, February Week 4.

Monday: 5-minute oral presentation on short story, theoretical research progress report draft.

Tuesday: 3 hours volunteer work for Adbusters magazine, copy editing assignment.

Wednesday: Oral presentation on job readiness website

Thursday: Final version of theoretical research progress report, technical manual planning guide, doctor's appointment, submit portfolio for potential summer work experience with Anvil Press (rewrite cover letter, revise resume, compile portfolio).

Non-dated, but must be completed by end of week:

-Query letters for Electronic Arts, Rethink Advertising, and Blast Radius Communications
-Clean room
-Review transcriptions for articles for Fangoria magazine

After all of this, it'll be nothing short of a miracle if I have all of my hair. I have a large stack of DVDs that are still in the shrink wrap while my XBox is beginning to rust due to lack of use. Tack on the fact that my deadlines are all skewed to hell due to rotating strikes from the BCGEU, it looks like I'll be well-occupied for the next two or three weeks.

Two weeks ago, my mom bought a case of a drink called "Red Rave", which is purported to be some sort of energy drink. My mom bought it thinking that it was supposed to help with my exercises. I had to explain to her the REAL use of it and pointed out the fact that it has a significant amount of caffeine in it. She was going to return it to the place she bought it, but I already cracked open a can. I will most likely mow through the entire case over the next two weeks.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Plug time! The latest issue of Fangoria magazine containing my article "Angels and Devils" hits stands today. For that, I got to hang out on the set of Blood Angels (formerly known as Thralls) and hang with the cast and crew to get a behind-the-scenes report. Pick it up if you can!

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Monday, February 14, 2005

On yet another Valentine's Day that will likely spent by myself, I was seriously considering going into a rant into my frustrations on the dating and relationships, but it'd just come across as really bitter and depressing. So, instead, I'm digging up a previous gem and posting it for your pleasure.

The Top Ten Worst Valentine's Day Gifts Ever (revised)
(originally written for the Valentine's Day issue of Over the Edge in Feb. 1996)

10: A candle lit dinner for McDonald's
9: A box of dead flowers from that guy you just broke up with
8: Personalized jewelry. That has someone else's name scratched off it
7: Red and white balloons filled with tear gas
6: A red and white teddy bear that says "I want to f*** you in the ass" when you squeeze its tummy
5: A Valentine's Day card that reads, "You will be my Valentine! You will! EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU!"
4: St. Valentine's dead rotted remains
3: A box of chocolates which are really chocolate covered laxatives reshaped into little heart shapes
2: Sexy underwear from some guy you don't really know, but he's been following you everywhere and leaving weird messages on your answering machine
1: A pair of handcuffs

Happy Valentine's Day to all of those who are fortunate to be with someone that they truly care for.

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

On sit-down with my cousin at Mount Seymour

Today was yet another reminder that I'm not nineteen anymore.

Lethargic, exhausted, feverish, and sicker than shit. This is after three days straight of taking my cousin with me, hitting the slopes of Mount Semour, taking martial arts classes, and working out at the gym (and going shopping too). There was a point in time when I could do all of those things without needing so much as a nap and a can of cola, but since I wanted to make sure my cousin Kate's visit was memorable, I made sure that every day there was something interesting to do. I shouldn't really complain too much, because I brought this on myself.

This was mostly due to the fact that three years ago, when she came to visit us, a lot of what we were doing was just hitting restaurants, staying at home, listening to music, and watching movies. Sure, Vancouver has the infamous no-fun zone reputation (killjoy citizens trying to get rid of the yearly fireworks festival and probably not shedding any tears for the loss of the Molson Indy), but can't you do those things just about anywhere? So, I made sure this time would be different. It's probably a good thing I decided not to take her clubbing on Saturday night.

I dunno what was the most memorable moment of Kate's last visit to Vancouver, although it was possibly when I drove her and my mom to Peace Arch Park and inadvertently gotten ourselves detained at the border. Post-9/11, those guys don't mess around. That was pretty embarassing.

A couple years ago, I made the promise that I would go visit her in Australia before I turn 30 (I got at least a couple of years to go). I'll make sure I plan how I spend my time well in advance so I can at least deal with the jet lag and weird food, not to mention whatever I'll be doing while I'm there.

One thing is for certain, though. I have got to start acting my age.

But why would I want to do a thing like that?

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Artist Steve Skroce (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Matrix storyboards, Doc Frankenstein) at the Vancouver Comicon

Several weeks prior, I decided to indulge in the ultimate geek gathering, the Comic Book Convention. Harkening images of sweaty young to middle aged males that don't get enough exercise, debating as to who would win in a fight between Namor the Sub-Mariner and Aquaman, and the endless line-ups of people who want autographed comics, I went anways.

Things have certainly changed in the past twelve years.

The first comic book convention I ever went to was back in 1993, when Canadian alternative press artist Dave Sim (Cerebus) was doing signings at the Heritage Hall. I remember reading the comics years previous. While the serialized adventures of a talking aadrvark never got mainstream attention along the level of X-Men or Batman, the book enjoyed a fairly lengthy run (300 issues) and even managed to have some cross-over appeal, with his character making guest appearances in issues if Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Spawn.

It was the guest appearance in Spawn #10 that attracted all the fans, as the line-up to get his autographs and sketches was looooooong. This was all for a book that would almost never crack the top 100 selling comic books on a month-to-month basis.

Flash forward to 2005, where Vancouver-based artist Steve Skroce is doing signings. I go in and there is no lineup whatsoever. Remembering to bring my copy of The Art of the Matrix and my entire collection of Gambit comic books, I walk up to Mr. Skroce's booth, where he isn't doing much. Not really sure of who he is (I saw a photo of him published in an issue of Wizard, but that was years ago), I introduce myself and we chat. I get him to do a sketch of Trinity inside the Matrix art book, and then he signs all my comics, thanking me for buying all of those books.

The fact that a mainstream artist that has worked on many high profile projects is not nearly as a big a draw as an independent small-press comic book artist and writer tells me that the comic book industry is not nearly as profitable as it once was.

Ideas on how to save the comic book industry have been proposed by the handful. Put comic books in more locations apart from comic book specialty shops. More diversity in genres apart from superheroes. Make the books cheaper. Make them more accessible to younger readers.

Archie and Betty and Veronica repeatedly tell the same stories over and over again, with very few changes in the status quo, yet their circulation numbers are in the millions. In Japan, manga titles are accessible to audiences of all age groups and demographics, while you can get the latest issue of whatever hot title from a local vending machine. The top selling mainstream comic book, The Astonishing X-Men, moves less than 100,000 copies per month, despite the fact that Marvel Comics owns 37% of the market share, while Archie has a 0.38% market share.

Compare this to 1991, where X-Men #1 moves 8 million copies.

Whatever the industry needs to do to right itself, it must be done fast, as comic book stores are becoming an increasing rarity, as are comic book publishers (Dreamwave Productions, the Toronto based studio that produced the TransFormers comics, is the most recent casualty). At this rate, it will only be a matter of time until the heroes of the four colour world will only be seen in a theatre near you. And if the recent spate of comic book films is any indication (ie: Elektra, Catwoman), it won't be long until it's only seen at the video store.

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