Ante up

If you've never played poker while a large, bald Texan flings bottle caps and vegetables at you, let me tell ya, you're missing out.

The boss invited Cody and I to play cards with him and some of his friends last night, and once he offered to stake us in the game (what with the being poor and all), we were in. I won a few hands, but nothing spectacular. I don't even remember the last time I played poker, but it was fun nonetheless. It's still a bit strange seeing the boss outside the office, which seems so much like a natural habitat.

The intern did show up on Thursday (apparently, on Wednesday, his friend who was coming to pick him up to bring him to the office got into an accident, so he spent the day with him and, for whatever reason, didn't have the office number on his cell phone to call and let us know?), and we got a lot done, but then yesterday, after 4 o'clock, when he still wasn't there, I called him to tell him to just turn around, since we were gonna be leaving the office early anyway. He would've gotten there and maybe worked for about a half hour or so before we were ready to take off. I'm not sure he understands the concept of an internship as a job. Yeah, it doesn't pay, but it's the experience that you're there for. And if you can't get to work when you say you'll be there, you can still be fired, unpaid intern or not.

Cody and I had to drop a batch of comics off yesterday at the company's agency, and some paperwork for the company's lawyer, and then we hit the post office to mail a big batch of Web orders. It's sort of become a regular Friday thing, which is kinda nice, getting out of the office for an hour or so, even if it is to run errands.

In four weeks we'll be in San Diego. From what I can tell, a lot of things still need to get done before we head south. It appears that we'll be sprinting to the finish line for this convention. Still, I'm looking forward to it.

My father was in Pittsburgh this past week, to try to get my grandmother more prepared and organized for her move to Omaha in, oh, about a month and a half. I can only imagine how much of a headache that was. I picture my father, dealing with his mother's very unique brand of crazy, tearing out clumps of his hair. If he had any, that is. I think he's back in Omaha by now.

A friend of mine, Kristie, whom I met at Ryan and Jami's wedding, is around L.A. today, having driven down from the San Jose area with a friend to lend moral support for her friend's audition for some reality show. We might be able to hang out a bit later in the day, if I can figure out where in Studio City they are. If it doesn't work out today, I'll still get to see her, probably, when I head up north after the San Diego convention.

Sarah and Josh's landlord has been wanting to put a new floor in the room I've been sleeping in, and it was decided that today would be the day. It wasn't as inconvenient as I first thought it was going to be. The guys who are putting the floor in helped move the futon out of the room, and the little table I've been using as a nightstand. They just came around 9:30 this morning, so I had to be up and out of the room a little earlier than I wanted to be. I'm still a bit tired from last night. I didn't get home from playing cards until about a quarter after midnight. Didn't get to sleep until an hour or so later.

So until I hear from Kristie later, I dunno what I'm doing today. Sitting around, I suspect, waiting for the guys to finish putting the new floor in. I have a couple TV shows to watch. Monday's Big Love and last night's Painkiller Jane. Getting some food sometime might be nice, too.

Oh, and before I forget, not that he's likely to have read this far down, but I'd like to give a shout out to my buddy Mick, whose birthday is today. Happy birthday, Mick!

And with that, I'm gone.


Stop the presses!

Today at the office, I helped put together a news release for an upcoming project. I say "put together" instead of "write" because one of the project's writers had already put together a rough draft of the release, which is cool, seeing as how he's a professional writer and I'm ... not. I added a couple paragraphs and some new information, but the majority of the text is his. Now all I have to do is get the list of Web sites (and magazines?) that will be getting this thing from either the boss or Cody.

After that, I started looking for pull quotes from reviews to put on the back of the trade paperbacks that we'll be releasing in the fall. I have three more to find quotes for tomorrow.

And the new intern didn't show up today. No emails. No phone calls. Just didn't show up. Which is really not cool. If he couldn't make it today, or if he decided he just didn't want to be doing this, whatever the reason, that's fine, just let us know. Very unprofessional to just not show up.

Dream a little dream ...

I had the most bizarre dream last night. I don't remember exactly what was ailing me, something with my kidneys, perhaps, but not an actual, real disease or anything, and I was dying. Imminently. I vaguely remember contacting people to let them know. My mother was resigned to the fact, and I ... I remember feeling this feeling of complete and utter despair and hopelessness. It was very strange. Very surreal. I woke up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding and my head swirling, and for a few seconds, maybe a minute, my dream was real, and I was going to be dead from some unknown, unreal illness very shortly. That's a very frightening feeling to have, that you know you're about to die and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. I eventually fell back asleep and proceeded to have other, less dire dreams, none of which I can remember.

But I remember the one in which I was dying. I woke up this morning to my alarm at seven, as usual, and I just laid there for a few minutes, remembering the feeling I had when I woke up in the middle of the night, as I lay there alone in the dark.

I will never feel that helpless and hopeless again for as long as I live. Which, as I look back on that sentence I just typed, is slightly ironic.

My intern started at the company yesterday. We spent most of the afternoon in the back, with all our myriad boxes of comic books, rearranging, organizing, simply discovering what, exactly, is back there, hidden amongst the brown cardboard cubes and rectangles. Our own game of Tetris, but with only two shapes and no bright, happy colors.

I gave the kid, Daniel, the quick tour of the office I work in, all the boxes behind me from which I pull comics for Web orders. He certainly knows how to stuff an envelope, that's for sure. And he can lift heavy boxes of comics, which will definitely come in handy, especially as we get closer to the San Diego convention next month.

I have two papers to write for this internship "class" I'm enrolled in, due Friday. Only a page or two each, one about how I feel the internship is going and the other is a profile of someone I work with, probably Cody, seeing as how I spend most of my time talking with him.

And now the boss has asked me to write up a press release for one of our books, so I should probably start talking with Cody about that, to see what, exactly, it's for.


Old haunts

This is gonna be brief, because I'm feeling pretty tired right now and this internet connection is really crappy.

I drove down to Anaheim this afternoon, to watch the Angels play the Pirates, who, by the grace of interleague play, are in town for the weekend. I'd never been to Angels Stadium before. Very nice. Clean. Didn't seem to be a bad seat in the whole place. I was a little further away from the field than I prefer, but the ticket was fairly cheap, so I can't complain too much. I'll have pictures up either in the morning or Monday.

This old woman who was sitting beside me, about halfway through the game, she pulled a small (cheap?) bottle of wine out of her bag and proceeded to fill her cup with its fruity-smelling contents.

Pirates lost 10-1. It was a pretty miserable game. Pittsburgh's starter did great for five out of the six innings he pitched, but he got lit up for five runs in the second. Then the Angels got another run in the seventh and four in the eighth. But hey, I did get to see a famously unorthodox Vladimir Guerrero home run.

I had to fight the urge to drive through the neighborhood Alissa and I lived in when we were out here before. It's extremely close to the Angels ballpark. I used to drive past the stadium every day when I worked at that crappy video store in Santa Ana, which I think I mentioned in the previous blog post. Whatever. I'm tired.

As the exit I used to take to get home blew past me, I felt a twinge of nostalgia, maybe a bit of melancholy. That whole experiment of living out here before, it wasn't all bad. I have a lot of great memories from that time of my life, but I feel that I'm such a different person now, I didn't see the point in dredging up the past, rehashing the memories any more than I already was by being that far south on the 5.

That's where memories are supposed to stay, anyway. In the past. They're what got me here, to this point in my life, for good or ill. But I'm here now. Again. In the present. Now is the when that matters. Not back then.

Anyway. Yeah. Bedtime. I better post this quick before I lose the internet connection again.



I think I spent approximately three and a half hours in the car yesterday, while I was working. Cody and I had to run to UPS and the post office to mail a bunch of comics, and that took about an hour and a half, give or take, and then the boss asked if I'd drop him and his fiance off at LAX, to which I replied, "sure," because, hey, it was going to get me out of the office for a little while longer.


After dropping them off at the airport, I believe I sat in traffic on the 405 for at least an hour, if not more, as I headed back toward the office. Maybe it was because it was a Friday, maybe traffic is always that bad on that particular stretch of the 405, I dunno what it was, but that had to have been the worst congestion I've sat in while in L.A., and I've sat through some pretty shitty traffic out here.

I have a bunch of reorders I need to put together to go out Monday. I don't really have any boxes for them to go in, but at least Cody and I, after I finally got back from the airport (and a very late lunch) at 4:45, found most of the comics I'm going to need to fill the orders. We totally forgot to email the new intern yesterday to tell him that he's the new intern. He could probably lend a hand with this reorder on Monday. Maybe I'll drop him a line a bit later today.

As we were driving to the airport, the boss told me he ran into my cousin Terri at one of the film studios this past week, or maybe last week. She asked after me and I apparently received glowing praise from the boss, which is always nice to hear. It's not as though what I've been doing out here is extremely difficult or anything, but still, it's stuff that has to be done, and someone has to do it, and it might as well be done well, right?

That conversation got me thinking that I still hadn't actually spoken with my cousin since I've been out here. We've fired some emails back and forth, but that's about it. I'm unusually reserved about calling her, I think, because I know how busy she can be at work, and she's got a one-year-old at home, and I don't want to be a bother, y'know? But I figured, since I was sitting in traffic and hardly moving, I'd give her a call.

She's always fun to talk to. She's usually in a pretty good mood, and I dunno if I just catch her on good days or she's always like that, but it's nice to hear someone enjoying what they're doing. We talked for about 15 or 20 minutes, I think. Caught up a little, and made plans to have a drink Monday after work. Then we might head over to her place so I can meet the little one, Maya. Terri's husband, Rick, is back in school to get his Masters, and he has class Monday night, so he won't be around, which is a shame, but I still have about five weeks out here, so maybe I'll get to say "hi" to him some other time.

Today is my mother's birthday, so I'll be calling her a bit later. I wonder how she's been handling my absence. Not that she can't get along with me, but rather that, since I'm not there, it's just her and my father in the house, which can become ... interesting, at times.

Dad's heading to Pittsburgh tomorrow to get my grandmother organized for her move to Omaha. The Pirates are out here this weekend, down in Anaheim. I'd like to go to a game, but I'm not sure if I can afford it, and Angels tickets are usually a hotter commodity than Dodger tickets. I probably couldn't get a very good seat. Still, I should look into it. I've never been to the stadium in Anaheim. Used to drive past it a lot when I was working at that crappy video store in Santa Ana, lo those many years ago. That'd probably be a little weird, I think, being that close to where Alissa and I used to live.

And that's about it for now. Should probably hop in the shower. Hope all is well wherever you are.



No, this isn't a post about Michael Moore's new movie, although I can't wait to see it. No, no. This is about me. It is my blog, after all.

I started feeling a bit of a tickle in my throat yesterday morning. Maybe Sunday night. It's nothing too serious, but I was coughing up some green crap today and my throat was starting to feel a bit raw. I stopped by the grocery store after work to buy some orange juice and meds. Sarah has a veritable pharmacy on top on the fridge, too, so I've been popping Vitamin E and C pills like they were candy ever since I got home from work.

Speaking of work, tomorrow our new would-be intern comes in for a face-to-face interview with me and Cody ... Cody and I ... one of those is correct. Assuming that it goes well, and I see no reason why it wouldn't (plus we could really use that extra pair of hands), maybe this new kid can hang around and help us with a shipment of comics we're supposed to be getting tomorrow. Take a look at those pictures I took of where I'm working. Tell me where we're going to put god-knows-how-many more boxes of comics. I'm all ears for suggestions.

My grandmother turned 89 on Saturday. She's absolutely nuts. And she's moving to Omaha in a couple months, unless she worries herself about it to death first. My father is driving out to Pittsburgh next week in a possibly vain attempt to get things organized. I wish him luck. And patience. He's gonna need it, dealing with all her meshugga.

Father's Day was Sunday. I called my father to wish him a happy one. He and my mother went over to my sister's in-laws for a BBQ that night, which I'm sure wasn't completely unbearable. I can't say that I'm sorry I missed it, but there really haven't been too many Father's Days that my father and I didn't see each other. So it was kind of strange for me to not be there.

Oh, I finished The Yiddish Policemen's Union over the weekend, on Saturday, I think. I really enjoyed this book. It's a really great hard-boiled murder mystery, in the grand tradition of Sam Spade and Philip Marlow, but the best part had to be the alternate history Michael Chabon invented, this world for his characters to inhabit. A world in which Israel failed as a state shortly after it was created, in 1948, and all the exiled Jews, millions of them, were shuffled off to this barren stretch of Indian land in Alaska, called Sitka, where they thrived, sort of, for 60 years.

Chabon invented new Yiddish words for his characters to speak. A gun is called a "sholem," kind of a play on words with Shalom, which means either hello, goodbye, or peace. And cell phones are called "shoyfers," like shofars, the ram horns used during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It's really brilliant, this alternate world of "the Frozen Chosen."

When the story begins, the land the Jews have been living on for six decades is about to revert back to being Indian land, kind of like Hong Kong reverted back to being under Chinese rule a few years back. The main character is a shammas (instead of shamus), a detective, named Meyer Landsman, who's woken from a drunken stupor by a pounding on his apartment door. Turns out there's a dead Yid a few floors below, murdered, point blank to the back of the skull. Who is this mysterious, chess-playing corpse? And what does he have to do with the Verbovers, the hardcore Hasidic gangster Jews?

All in all, a great, fun, interesting story. There's one part, toward the end, involving Arab Palestine (that's what Israel became after 1948) that just cracked me up. I marveled at the balls Chabon had to do what he did. This probably isn't my favorite Chabon novel. That honor still goes to Kavalier & Clay, but it's certainly high up on my list. I think everyone should go read it.

And now, I'm gonna watch me Sunday night's John from Cincinnati and Friday's Stargate: Atlantis. Be well. Be good. Shalom.


Makeshift Patriot

The concert was pretty cool last night. If nothing else, it was free, right?

The Henry Fonda theatre, since renamed the Music Box, I guess, is a really nice theatre. One of the nicest, cleanest I've ever seen a show at. They had freakin' bathroom attendants. You know, the guy who hands you a towel after you've washed your hands. They even had a little table set up with mints and candy and shit. Very surreal to see all that a concert in general, let alone a hip-hop show.

The first performer was this bald guy whose name I never got, who did some spoken word-type stuff for about 15 minutes, backed up at different times by a violinist, a pianist and two people doing some vocal percussion stuff, beats and rhythms with nothing but their mouths.

Up next was a producer/rapper named Alias. I guess he works with Sage Francis a lot, and so he did his own thing for about 20 minutes. He was all right. Truth be told, it was difficult to understand what most of them were saying, because of all the bass, but his beats were good.

Buck 65, a rapper from Nova Scotia, followed with a 45-minute set. He was funny. He had some good shtick between his songs. He kind of has this lower, not-quite-twangy voice. As my co-worker, Cody, said, he kind of sounds like a rapping Tom Waits.

And then Sage Francis bounded out on stage. A white guy from Providence, Rhode Island. He had a lot of energy and there was a lot of interaction with the crowd. He performed "Makeshift Patriot," which was really the only song of his I knew before last night, prefacing it with a joke:

Knock knock.

Who's there?


9/11 who?

I thought you said you'd never forget.

We took off shortly after that song. Cody and I were both pretty wiped out from work. I spent the majority of yesterday finding two copies of nearly every book Boom! has ever published, then packaging and mailing them to a certain someone whose name I cannot mention. Suffice it to say, it was very important to get those books shipped ASAP.

A pretty big deal was closed yesterday, which put the boss in a practically giddy mood. Things seem to be slowly, yet surely, falling into place for Boom!, which is very cool and fairly exciting. I get the feeling that the San Diego con will see many fanboy drool-inducing announcements.

No idea what's on tap for today. Lots of laying around and relaxing, I assume. Maybe I'll swing by a comic book store and check out what's come out in the past month, not that I'm in any position to be buying anything right now. I've been in contact with the head of the chem dept. back at UNO, trying to work out a work schedule for the upcoming Fall semester. They currently don't have an "administrative assistant" (i.e. secretary), so there isn't anyone to really coordinate with. Hopefully there will be by the time I get back to Omaha in August.

All right, I'm outta here. I should probably call my grandmother. Today's her birthday. 89 years old and moving to Omaha in a couple months. Oy.


That time of year

I drive past Beverly Hills High on my way home from work every day. Looked like they were getting all set up for graduation this evening. A bunch of folding chairs were set up on the lawn behind the school. And the few kids I saw running around wearing caps 'n gowns were a good tip off, too.

I gotta tell ya, Beverly Hills High was a bit of a disappointment the first time I saw it. I mean, c'mon, it's Beverly Hills, for cryin' out loud. Millard North is nicer-looking than this school, though not as big. I guess a public school is a public school anywhere you go.

The guy I work with won tickets to see Sage Francis at the Henry Fonda theatre tomorrow night, so we're gonna hit that after work. It'll be good to unwind and relax after a week of staring at a computer screen for eight hours every day.

I spent about half the day today putting together image files for a trade paperback catalog for Boom!'s Fall releases. I went through about 12 comics' digital files and pulled out two to three pages of each comic that, hopefully, illustrate (no pun intended) what each book is about. Then I had to combine them into a big .pdf file.

That's about all I know for now. I think I'll get a bit more of Chabon's new book read. And maybe make some dinner. Dinner would probably be good. I was so wrapped up in getting that TPB catalog put together that I sort of neglected lunch. Luckily, last night, Sarah and I went to the grocery store and I picked up a couple bags of dried cherries and Red Vines. Now that's good eatin'.

Later ...


The Sopranos

So I watched the final episode last night, and I don't care what anyone says, I really liked it. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it. It was a fitting ending to one of the most influential, innovative and unconventional shows on television.

AJ is still a putz, though.


Movin' on up

The boss is away to Toronto for the weekend, for a comic convention. In addition to the usual Web orders, I spent the past couple days putting together boxes of comics for him to take. Who knew 200 comic books could weigh so much?

I finally snapped a few pictures of my work environment. One word: boxes. Lots and lots of boxes. I'll try to get a better picture of the office tomorrow.

I'm moving up in the company. I must be. I'm probably getting an intern of my own soon. The boss wants another pair of hands around the office, and I can't blame him. There's a lot of work to be done, but the real question is, where are we gonna put these other hands? There simply isn't enough room. There's barely room for the three of us. But I guess we'll make it work. The guy who we're looking at, he only wants to work a few days a week, in the afternoons, which would probably work out all right. There are less people around the office as the day wears on.

I finally have a constant internet connection at work, too. We got wi-fi set up, so now I can do a lot more than simply fill Web orders. I'll probably start proofing .pdf files of upcoming comics, and putting together .pdf files to be sent out to the printer or whomever, which is cool. More in line with what I'd rather be doing here. Like today, I proofed a paper copy of an upcoming comic. I went through and looked for mistakes in the text, glaring or otherwise. I found a few small grammatical errors, though nothing major. Except for this one sentence that just read very strangely. The word choice was off. I'm not sure if it'll get changed before the comic is printed, but it probably should be. Reading that line was like hitting a speed bump. I just stopped and had to reread it a number of times before I realized why it was bugging me so much.

As Cody said, the smaller mistakes, things like misplaced commas and missing periods, probably aren't anything that will be getting fixed before the comic is printed. Takes too much time (and time, as we all know, is money). But Cody complimented my eye for these types of mistakes. I'm nothing if not anal about my grammar. In the not-too-distant future, one hopes that there will be more time to fix these smaller errors that I'm finding. But for right now, our readers will just have to make do with a couple missing periods and clunky sentence structures.

When we were leaving the office tonight, there were some, like, construction guys, or contractors, or whatever, wandering around. They said they were supposed to remove this big wooden cabinet from the wall in the boss's office. A cabinet that contains graphic novels and has lots of action figures atop it, not to mention the flat panel computer screen. I really hope they don't go in there to take the cabinet down tonight. I fear that I'm going to go into the office in the morning and find all these little toys scattered around the already cramped and cluttered little room.

I've been pretty tired all week. I wonder if I'm getting enough sleep at night. I'm usually in bed before midnight, somewhere after 11, so I'm getting at least seven hours usually (I get up at seven in the morning). I dunno what it is. Like, right now, it's 9:30 here and I could probably fall asleep pretty quickly if I went and laid down, which I should probably do, right? Maybe I'll read a bit more of The Yiddish Policemen's Union first, though ...



Not much to say here, really. Work has been pretty much the same, sending out Web orders and comp copies to creators, which is fine and has to be done, but it's just boring, y'know? I think I'm gonna email the managing editor, who lives in Michigan, and ask him if he could share some editorial insight with me, like the process he goes through, the scripts, the artwork, things of that nature. So we'll see what happens there.

The boss has been in New York for the Book Expo this weekend. He left Wednesday night, which meant that I had the internet connection in the office all to myself on Thursday and Friday, which was pretty helpful. Next weekend is a convention in Toronto, so it'll be kind of the same deal, with the boss being gone Thursday and Friday again. It's just easier to get work done when you don't have to worry about sharing the internet. We should probably just buy a splitter, but I think we're all hoping we'll have a new office sooner rather than later, so we won't have to work like this much longer.

Sarah and I went to the grocery store this morning, bought some munchies (and some relatively healthy food, too). I forgot to buy breakfast bars and tea, though. But I got bagels, so I'll be all right for a week or so.

I've had a craving for pizza lately. Dunno why. Haven't had any non-frozen pizza since I've been here. Having withdrawal, I guess. I found a Little Caesars a few blocks away. I might have to stop there one day this week after work.

What else is goin' on ... I went down to Huntington Beach yesterday, to visit the comic book store I went to the last time I was living out here. The owner knew the owner of the store I worked at, so we sort of became friends last time. So it was cool to see her and catch up a little bit. I also picked up Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, which finally came out in paperback this week. It's really good so far and I can see why it garnered so much acclaim last year.

I need to put together a resume and a cover letter for this internship. Technically this is a class, right? I'm enrolled at UNO and I have a couple assignments to complete over the summer, some papers, etc. I haven't looked at my resume in years. I haven't had a real job for a while either. I mean, I guess I've been working on campus for the past couple semesters. But when I first came home from CA, there's this big gap in my work history. But, whatever. It is what it is. I'll probably work on that stuff this week at work, where I have a desk. It's just easier to concentrate there, even though there's always a lot going on around me.

I still need to take some pictures of that place for my flickr page. Who knows how long we're gonna be there, and you really need to see the environment I've been in the past couple of weeks, all these boxes piled high all around me, filled with comics.

My grandmother apparently told my father she'd buy a plasma screen TV for our living room. Since she's in such a giving mood, I asked him to ask her to buy me a new car while she's at it. It's not like I want a super-expensive one or anything. Less than $20 grand. Maybe I'll ask her myself when I call her on her birthday in a couple weeks. :)

At the very least, we might need a PS3 to go along with the new TV.

That might be about it for now. Sarah and Josh are going to head out to a farmer's market for some meat and produce. Maybe I'll start on that resume. I need to finish Chabon's new novel, too, though. So much to do, so little time.

Also, a question of the day: if the world were overrun by zombies, who would you want with you in your struggle for survival against the brain-eating hordes? Who would be in your zombie shelter with you?