Weeknotes 6.1 (June 30, 2020)

And then half a year was gone.

It’s been two months since my last post here, and even though I know the shape of things like “months” and “years” and “half” and “two”, time’s lost a lot of meaning to me lately. I keep thinking of things I meant to have done, looking at the date of when I’d meant to do them, and then being surprised by the distance between that date and now, as if the days themselves are unconnected to everything around them. I think “oh I should have done that a few days ago” only to find I’d been telling myself that since the beginning of May.

I have done things of course. The big important ones like keeping my child clean and fed and reasonably happy, or turning in all of my freelance work on time, or figuring out ways to navigate a world that feels tiny (because we’re staying home to avoid the plague) and also massively out of control (because all this free time is giving everyone a chance to realize how truly miserably unfair the world is, and we’re all trying to speak up about it at once).

If you don’t also feel that way, all I can say is “examine your privilege” because you, friend, are floating through life on that unexamined privilege like a giant inflatable pool lounger while the rest of us are drowning.

It just got to be where there was too much going on inside of my head, so I stopped wanting to interact much with anything outside of it. Also, I’ve been in a lot of physical pain lately, though I try to manage it with diet and medication and exercise and positive fucking thinking, so I’m sleeping in short shifts, a few hours at night, a few hours nap in the afternoon if I’m lucky. It’s grinding away at my ability to do the small important things in my life, like draw, or sew, or read books. I can’t stop doing the big stuff because I have to take care of my family and make money. I can’t seem to sleep any more no matter what I try, and yes, whatever you’re about to suggest I’ve tried.

I even bought a new mattress which is being delivered today, because I can’t control that I have this damn disease but I can mitigate it by throwing money at it and since I’m finally starting to have a little money, after years and years of heartbreaking poverty, that’s what I’m going to do.

And on top of doing my work and raising a disabled child and not sleeping and juggling finances and sharing a small space with two other adult-sized people and two needy indoor-only cats and having joint inflammation severe enough to cut off my circulation making it so I randomly can’t use my hands for hours at a time, the world is a fucking trash fire. Cops thinking they’re big game hunters taking down black people like it’s a sport, transphobes trying to separate queer people into little boxes as a way to cut off support for our trans siblings, bitter fools who think public safety is the opposite of freedom, gun-toting racists who think bullets will somehow protect them from their own insecurities, sexual predators weaponizing our community to prey on their own fans, the knee-jerk reactions of their friends who think if they can shout down the victims nothing bad will have really happened in the past, the willfully ignorant people still, still, in the face of all evidence, insisting that we’re not destroying our planet so they don’t have to change anything about the way they live, and of course, and the most, our screaming baboon of a president and the people who enable him in order to bloat their bank accounts and strip away civil rights because they can’t imagine a world in which we are in any way equal to them. None of them can, not the buyers or the shooters or the predators or the politicians who allow Trump to do everything he does. It all comes down to selfishness, on such a grand scale it’s almost too big to see.

It’s all so much. In the face of all of that, who needs another blog post from me?

I didn’t, anyway. Not for a while.

But while none of the above has changed, neither have I given up. I’m still here, despite everything. Things are pretty good at home, despite everything. We’re figuring out how to find space and time for ourselves, and each other, maybe better than we did before. I’m still creating (in my head) which is bound to come out in some story or some piece of art eventually. I’m still myself, existing, standing up, for what I need and what’s right and what’s going to make the world a better place. To have all of that, despite everything, is a gift I’m choosing to give myself.

And you’re still here, reading this, which is a gift too. Thank you.

AND WHILE YOU’RE HERE…

Defund the cops already. Yes, seriously. Because black lives matter, because cops kill a disproportionate number of non-white and disabled and queer people, because our communities are provably, historically, safer when that money is spent on education and support services instead. The poverty-to-prison pipeline only benefits the people profiting from destroying lives (mostly, black lives) to create an arbitrary division between “us” and “them” that causes poor people to get poorer and creates an entirely separate system of justice for rich white people. And let’s face it: if you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of the folks that system is designed to serve and protect. Your life would, guaranteed, be better if we defunded and demilitarized the police. If you can’t do it because it’s good and right, then do it because you deserve a community where police violence and incarceration aren’t the only “solutions” to everyone’s problems. You can give yourself that gift, too.

Re-Reading Comics: Atomic Robo collected volumes 4-6

Robos 4 thru 6, with bonus Mazikitty

This week has been the sort of week that really tests one’s sense of linear time, especially since it’s been going on for almost a month already. Luckily I’ve had three more Atomic Robo collections to see me through it.

Book 4, Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness, is a collection of one-shots and mini comics. There’s a bunch about the Vampire Dimension, a “biomega” kaiju in Tokyo, a ghost (sort of)… but none of that matters because it also has the 2009 Free Comic Book Day story Why Atomic Robo Hates Dr. Dinosaur. Dr. Dinosaur.

DR. DINOSAUR.

I love Dr. Dinosaur. As much as I adore Robo, and I really do, Dr. Dinosaur is just a fucking delight. In a comic that’s already bulletproof, this mad genius of a reptile feels like he was written just for me. Like a little treat for being a faithful fan. In this issue we get to see the moment Atomic Robo meets our superior science raptor, immediately hates said science raptor, and in return the good (bad?) doctor hates him too.

Book 5, Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science, goes back to the beginning, telling the story of young Robo training with his mentor, Jack Tarot, while still learning the ways of action science with Tesla. There’s a little more Vampire Dimension and a bit more of Tesla and Edison’s Current War, with a whole lot of bullets in between.

Also a very large robot. And some kissing.

Book 6, The Ghost of Station X, once again takes Robo’s story in a different direction. This time, he’s got to solve a mystery while also fighting against the laws of physics to save a space station from falling out of orbit. There’s fewer jokes and a lot more of Robo’s serious face, but it’s a solid collection that doesn’t disappoint.

As a bonus, you’ll also get to read the 2010 FCB story, “Flight of the Terror Birds”!

Aren’t they cute?

Call up your local comic book shop and order a bunch of Robo books for yourself today!

Re-Reading Comics: Atomic Robo collected volumes 1-3

I’m continuing my big pandemic reread – using graphic novels, collections, and single issues I’ve got in my apartment right now – with another hardback. Last week I talked about the second collected book of MIND MGMT issues, subtitled “The Futurist”. This week I needed something light and fun, so I grabbed a handful of Atomic Robo off the shelf.

If you’re feeling a bit cooped up and restless, call up your local shop to order yourself Atomic Robo V1, “Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne”. Written by Brian Clevinger, art by Scott Wegener (with color by Ronda Pattison and letters by Jeff Powel) the series jumps back and forth through time, telling different pieces of Atomic Robo’s first 83 years of existence. It has everything you’d want from a retro-style modernist comic: video game jokes (Megaman, Jenkins, etc.), Nazis, mummies, steampunk, Carl Sagan being awesome, Stephen Hawking being a bastard, and a wise-cracking intelligent robot swinging his way through it all. It’s sarcastically funny, it’s got a hipster sensibility that perfectly meshes with the crisp, clean art – exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to translate well to t-shirts and messenger bags. It made me happy, and genuinely happy is a little harder to come by these days.

But these are slim volumes, these Robo books, and if I’m going to get through every comic I own in the next few years I have to group smaller issues in these reviews. Which means I also get to talk about the second and third collections!

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Mini Movie Review: The First 10 Minutes of Attack the Block (2011)

Quick review: I’ve watched Attack the Block half a dozen times now and it remains the best alien invasion film I’ve ever seen.

Why? (It’s ok. You can ask me that.) I can explain it using only the first ten minutes. If you’re not convinced after ten minutes… well, I’m not sure what to say actually because no one I’ve had this conversation with ever turned the movie off once it got started.

Attack the Block opens on a shot of the night sky, with a single star falling from the heavens, before panning down to reveal fireworks over London. The camera settles, not on the downtown, not on the homes of the wealthy, but on a tube station and a young white woman talking to her mother on her mobile while walking home past street vendors hawking flowers and vegetables. Her hat doesn’t match her coat that doesn’t match her pants and her scarf – well, let’s just assume that an elderly aunt knitted it for her and move on. Kids run down the street with sparklers, as the woman walks into a residential neighborhood with more graffiti than street lamps. A sudden burst of fireworks startles her but there’s no one behind her; she’s jumpy, though we don’t yet know why. She finishes her call with a plan to meet for Sunday dinner, and looks up to see her way blocked by a group of kids wearing dark-colored hoodies and bandanas over their faces. Crossing the street doesn’t stop them from surrounding her and mugging her. Suddenly that falling star is a meteor crashing into a car only a few feet away from them, and the invasion’s begun.

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