Side note: I’d get in so much trouble if I saw such a banner outside the Dunedin Hospital. I’d black out, there’d be red mist, then I’d get arrested. That much is true.
AS A FAN OF THE MUSICAL GROUP DEVO FROM THE STATE OF OHIO WHICH IS IN NORTH AMERICA (IT’S A COUNTRY, BUT MADE OF SMALLER PARTS CALLED STATES. THERE’S LIKE FIFTY OF THEM WHICH IS A LOT BUT C’MON DUDE I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP).
DO NOT GET ALL FUCKED UP ABOUT THIS OK
THERE IS A SCIENCE BOY ON THE LEG OF THAT PARTY GIRL.
THAT’S ONE SASSY SPUD RIGHT THERE.
BONUS: FOR THE LOOK ON HIS LI’L FACE FROM 0:45 TO 0:50
GETS ME IN THE HEART, I SWEAR
…on the head yet again. Here’s a post he wrote explaining how he feels about the entitlement an audience feels versus the ways writers spend their time.
“It seems to me that the biggest problem with series books is that either readers complain that the books used to be good but that somewhere in the effort to get out a book every year the quality has fallen off, or they complain that the books, although maintaining quality, aren’t coming out on time.
Both of these things make me glad that I am not currently writing a series, and make me even gladder that the decade that I did write series things, in Sandman, I was young, driven, a borderline workaholic, and very fortunate. (and even then, towards the end, I was taking five weeks to write a monthly comic, with all the knock-on problems in deadlines that you would expect from that).
For me, I would rather read a good book, from a contented author. I don’t really care what it takes to produce that.”
This is in reply to a fan who asks if he’s justified in being frustrated with George Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones books.
This is something that’s kept me from publishing and presenting work before; to me it’s a very big deal. I’ve held things back in the past because although I felt I created something quite good, I simply couldn’t stomach the thought of being seen as not very consistent. So I became reticent instead, which was much more painful.
I made myself decide between the possibility of being seen as a flash-in-the-pan one trick pony, or just not doing anything at all. It turns out that I love what I do far too much to let paranoia and other things get in the way. And I’ll admit that anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m really bad at doing nothing.
So if doing nothing is not an option, why not do what you love and love yourself and your work for getting better and better as you go along? And why not share the results? I’ll say that it is important to work hard and that involves pushing yourself when you really don’t want to be touched or even awake, but I also think it’s conducive to sound output and proper motivation to be able to do certain things on your own terms. It’s a tricky one.
And here’s two more cents when you thought you got to the end of it all: Trent Reznor is one of my favourite artists (even though this passage could just as easily be about David Bowie, but I digress). I gave up reading reviews on his work pretty early on because what a lot of people were saying didn’t make much sense to me. I just wanted something like “this recent release is reminiscent of ________” or “get excited because ________!” I wanted to know what to expect because I think it’s interesting to gauge the changes to an artist’s work and influences over time.
But I ended up finding too much stuff about his personal life and weird value judgments based on things that have happened to him. WHAT THE FUCK. I WANT TO BEHOLD ART, NOT HANG THE ARTIST. Everybody seemed to be counting the years between albums and discounting their influence. All of a sudden, I couldn’t talk about the music I liked anymore. It became trés cool to shit on the guy. I became the only Nine Inch Nails fan I knew. Eventually, people were using him to judge me. I still can’t get a handle on how fucking weird and inherently unnecessary it all was. What is wrong with these people? Uh… can’t they just all fuck off for a minute?
Then the band broke up. Not long after their performance in Auckland in Feb 2009, I believe. I was in hospital during the concert date and didn’t know about the imminent finality of it all; I believed I’d catch them at another live date and all would be well. Which ended up being true earlier this year, but at the time, I was dejected. I blamed anyone and everyone who started shit and talked shit and acted like shit about the band. But I respected the decision. There’s writing I’ve done that I won’t look at very often because of the mindset it puts me in. Art pieces I haven’t shown anyone because I’m deathly afraid of explaining what motivated me to create them. Dark days for stark strays. Reznor wanted to move on. On some level, I get that. I think we all do, at least a little bit.
But they came back together and I was embarrassingly excited. Still am. That band is fucking serious. Those people work hard. And they’re good at what they do. But I think they know what a lot of artists know – constantly burning yourself out is no way to live. There’s being hard-working and being prolific and satiating various creative urges, but there’s also the fact that if you die for what you do, then you can’t do it anymore.
And I don’t mind waiting if something of this calibre is the result:
Artists have lives. Let them live those lives and gather inspiration in their own ways and in their own time. If you don’t like it, then you can go be a fan of something else. But life is chaos and art is even more so, so please just try to enjoy something if you can.
Those three words have been in my mind a mighty long time.
The kind of thing a parent says when you’re sad over something some kid at school said.
What we tell ourselves when we’ve created something and someone says just how much they hate it.
What you’ve got to think when a stranger feels they should yell something as you walk on by.
Words. Just letters and noises that people string together.
I remember a time when I received hate mail from someone who took offense to a piece of writing I submitted for a competition when I was still in school. The ol’ boys’ club wasn’t impressed, but the judges were and I got a special mention. But I was copping some serious shit over it. I’ll admit it was a decidedly opinionated piece about my experiences within religion, and it rendered some people utterly furious. It was easy to ignore it when it came from someone my age, but this particular one was from someone whose opinions I used to respect, so it totally gutted me.
So Ma tries to comfort me, but I’m still livid.
And in my teenage behavioural splendour, I went off the fucking wall at her.
“Just words? JUST WORDS? ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? Can you even hear yourself saying that? If these are just words, then it’s the same for what I write. The same for what you say. The same for that book you give one day per week to. There’s no such thing as a completely pointless word. It may not always matter, but it was said for a reason, by someone who meant something. As all words are. Piss off with that. PISS OFF WITH ALL OF THAT. FUCK YOUR SHIT. FUCK IT ALL. ALL OF IT.”
I apologised later because I felt awful. It’s not right to lose your temper at someone who cares enough about your feelings to want to say something to make it all better. And it’s an asshole’s move to pick their words apart and fire them back if they were said to you with pure intentions. So cruel. I felt really low about that. So I said sorry in my signature awkward way and went away to sit in my room, to go pick apart more hate mail and feel a bit more empty, I guess.
Then this slips under the door:
My girl, you need to calm down. I was pretty offended about what you said about the Bible, it’s more than ‘that book’ to me and you know that. It’s my business and it’s your opinion. But really, it’s OK. Thanks for saying sorry. I know that was hard for you.
I think what’s going on here is you’re thinking the whole human race thinks words are as important as you do. It’d be interesting if that was true, but a lot of people don’t. They say stuff that isn’t true and that doesn’t mean much and they don’t care. We all know words are your thing. The things you write, sing and say are really important to you and you mean them. But not everyone is like this. I know it’s hard for you. It’s hard when you care a lot and others do not.
Language is like a wild horse given to you as a child. You harnessed yours and you care for it. You were patient with yours and now it serves you and you’re friends now. You found horses from other places and like them too. But outside, there are people who neglect and abuse what they got. There’s sadness in stables and by the pen. Some people let their horses shit everywhere, don’t they? But here you are, screaming THE WORLD IS NOT A TOILET. And it’s true. But not everybody cares and you take it to heart, which looks painful. I know it ‘sucks’ and it is ‘lame’.
But we like you and your words, even if you don’t always use your inside voice.
And don’t forget, we’d still like to go out for tea because you won something today.
Don’t let some bastard’s hate spoil your day.
And don’t call yourself stupid because you’re not. I have no stupid children. I made sure. Now you make sure.
We’re proud of you.
Don’t be too long in there, you muppet. No prizes for sulking!
I still laugh at the “no prizes for sulking!” part because it’s so true. That was really nice of her to do, and I ended up emerging from the brat-cave before long. The comfort of what she wrote to me will last through the years. I swear it’ll never die.
I learned something pretty important. People won’t always acknowledge what you hold dear. They’ll pick the parts that they take exception to and go on about it in ways that don’t always make sense to you and that’s just how it is. Not everyone cares about nuanced meanings and abstract concepts or even grammar and punctuation (a lot of hateful people don’t know how to spell, huh? Oh well, it’s hard to get mad when someone writes ‘go komit sewerside you bitch your going to Hell’. Sewerside, motherfucker! Hahah, oh help…). And when people like what you do, you’ll know. If they don’t, that’s their thing.
I managed to get over myself in time for dinner. And I ended up having a really nice evening with the very people I swore I hated with every fibre of my being just a few years before.
At one point, I was overwhelmed by how I used to hold on to the horrible things they used to say and how they had forgiven the shitty things I used to say. So much so that I was fighting back tears for a minute or two. Sometimes it felt like it was water off a duck’s back, other times it felt like phosphorus wounds I had to clean off and cut out of my flesh while pretending it didn’t hurt because WAR IS NO TIME TO BE A BABY. It still felt like something was missing, but it was also something we’d get back and wouldn’t hurt us for being gone. Just over ten years later, I think I was right.
Sure, I won a book and a certificate and the hearts of some local poets for a week or two, but those things don’t comfort me when I feel like headbutting a wall.
And as I gave a toast to words, the brother mumbled “what a fuhhhhhhh-king nerd” and got cheesecake on his pants. Well, that’s what you get when you talk with your mouth full of ridicule and dessert. OK, it was a dorky thing to say. But I totally meant it.
P.S.: Didn’t the Bee Gees have a song about words? Now I wanna find it. Isn’t it sad that only one of those guys is still around? But that’s also a happy thing. YOU GO, BARRY. Nobody gets a CBE for nothing.
A certain little someone is very sick but still remains very ‘Pinkie Pie’ about it all. Kids can be so admirable in the face of illness, can’t they? Or just plain silly, which I happen to admire anyway. Which is silly.
“Did you dotice that if you say “‘Murica” really fast whed you have a cold, it souds like “burqa””?
“Ileed Lubsded (Lumsden is my family name) souds like a Scadibaviad pop star.”
“So Queeds of the Stobe Aid guy is Josh Hobbs, who is a boy who goes to by school.”
“Dad gave be a bad look whed I asked for a sticky bud (bun) at the suberbarket. Thed laughed. He bawd it eddyway.”
“Thaks for dot beig scared of by cold gerbs. Beig sick is lodely. Just before the weekedd. Ugh.”
She said all those things in a span of a few minutes, I think because she hadn’t talked to anyone at length for a few days. I totally do that too. I feel sorry for anyone who calls me after a period of self-imposed solitude, because they’re about to get brain-vomit in their ears. Oh, I’m sure I can help it but I’ll leave it for now. And it’s always a pretty good indicator of sickness for myself, because if I’m still conversationally hyperactive, then I’m sure I’ll be getting better soon. It’s usually hospital time if I don’t have the energy or will to ramble.
But this little lady; she’d blabber during a robbery. And it pains me to hear that it’s what a lot of adults don’t like about her. So many defining characteristics get steamrolled during childhood, just to be idealised in adulthood. What the hell is wrong with us?! I can count on one hand the people who enjoyed my curiosity as a child, but there are quite a few who say that’s something they really like about me now. Which is lovely, but shouldn’t we all be a bit more curious? Ask more questions? Hmm? What about deliberate hypothetical provocation? Here’s some I had to find (or make up) answers to a long time ago:
- What if you saw the Conservative leader and the Liberal leader making out? How would they lie about it?
- What if Santa isn’t a human but more like a demon? Like he possesses people to give things away or they’ll join him in hell?
- If there are colours that humans can’t see, do you think animals are leaving messages for us that we can’t read or hear?
Edward de Bono (if you’re not sure who he is, he’s the one who made ‘lateral thinking’ into an actual thing) came up with the term “po” to put before such a statement in order to suspend disbelief for the sake of discussion. Also “ben trovato” which means something like “ought to be true”, but that’s a whole other thing. A thing I like reading and thinking about. Anyway.
So before you find yourself getting irritated with the Pinkie Pies of the world or you see someone about to go mad at one of your more excitable friends, you gotta know someone in the room needs to think a little bit harder. Questions get answers. Genuine cuteness is needed in a world like this. Optimism shouldn’t instantly be dismissed as blind idealism. Talkative people generally mean well (unless it’s that neo-con wanker on the bus; complimenting someone’s shirt sometimes means you end up fighting an ideological battle. Is that my stop? Close enough.). Chatty is good. An open mind is hard to find.
So you chatter away, little buddy. Ask stuff about things and junk. Feel free to share. Something you need to say might be something someone needs to hear.
That confirms it; I’m definitely the type to cry over dead strangers. But was he really a stranger? Not really, not to me. I saw his face all the time. We all got to know his various incarnations, at least…
- He was Drop Dead Fred, the imaginary friend you wish you had (and if you’re fucked-up enough to want him around, then it means you definitely need him).
- He was the outspoken, anarchic, and incorrigibly opinionated Young One.
- He was Alan B’stard, the self-appointed minister of brazen bullshit.
And so much more.
He shoved so many characters in our faces and had no time or inclination to apologise for it. And now it’s over. At least he was artistically prolific while he lived. I’m still more than just a little bit bummed, though.
Crazily-coloured big-kid coveralls.
Spasmodic and idiotic.
Mister Mayall falls.
Drop Dead at home; but… why?
Scumbag College Alumni.
56 is too Young for One to die.
Could never cop out.
Never, in the name of Scum.
No other nouse
Could ever run this Guest House,
Or make it look nearly half as fun.
RIP Rick the Prick.
Achtung for the Anarchic.
Comic turns to tragic…
Today, yesterday, years ago…
Formes Frustes – Fred’s Dead (2014)