Thursday, April 5, 2007

Heavy Metal Blunder

I took my 14-year-old son and a couple of his buddies to a concert last night: The "No Fear" tour, featuring the bands He is Legend, Chimaira, DragonForce, and Killswitch Engage.

Now, being 45, I'd never heard of any of these groups. They don't play Killswitch Engage on the light jazz station I usually listen to in the car.

I was originally planning to drop my son and his friends at the concert hall and hang out at a Starbucks for a few hours, but it seemed a little irresponsible, so I purchased a ticket for myself and we made the trek to Indy to see the show.

Now, I'm not ignorant when it comes to music. In fact, I pride myself on being fairly knowledgeable about rock and roll and pretty eclectic in my musical tastes. I like some hard rock, some country, jazz, even some hip hop. But the stuff I heard at the Murat Theater Wednesday night, with the exception of DragonForce (the band my son and his friends really wanted to see) was just grinding, repetitive, monotonous garbage.

Watching Killswitch Engage and Chimaira pound and shriek and rasp through their songs, I thought "this is what serial killers must listen to when they're dismembering their victims and making lampshades out of their skin." It was truly disturbing, yet mind-numbing, sonic swill.

A few highlights of the show:
  • My son being denied entry because of the plastic studs on his fake leather gloves (he had to run back to the car and ditch the offending items)
  • DragonForce lead singer spitting four bottles of water at the indoor crowd. (Eww)
  • Several very wasted young men being escorted by security from the theater
  • One very wasted young lady being escorted by security from the men's restroom
  • Paying $2.00 for a 50-cent bag of potato chips and $3.00 for a can of Sprite

The funniest (and oddest) sight at the show was a young man standing by the sound board in the middle of the room. Seated in front of him were two women, who took turns performing the songs in sign language for him as the bands played. The women were reading the lyrics from printouts placed on music stands and signing accordingly. Since it was impossible to make out the words to any of the songs being sung, I wished that I understood sign language, too. Maybe I would've known what the *@#! the bands were singing.

As it was, the only lyrics I could make out during the entire evening were "I Hate Everyone," which the frontman from Chimaira kept repeating over and over and over. Standing in the Egyptian Room of the Murat Theater, being assaulted by an endless wave of awful noise for four hours, I had to agree.


Apparently, Keith Richards was joking when he said he snorted his father's ashes along with a little "blow." But, hey, it's Keith Richards. Sounded plausible, right?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


How do cartoonists develop material for new comic strips? That's a question with as many answers as there are cartoonists.

Lee Nordling, former syndicate editor and a comic strip writer himself suggested this recently on the Toon Talk message board:

"So, here's A process--not THE process--for developing a strip. I suspect it'll work for some but not for all. If you want to try it, change the stuff you know isn't for you. For example, people who write best in the evenings and not the mornings should probably change the timeframe for #1.

1) Every morning, before the daily chores of life have started to shove your creative process/thinking aside, write at least one week's worth of strips, daily and Sunday. Get them to the point where you're happy with them.

2) The next morning, write another week's worth of strips, daily and Sunday, then review what you wrote the previous day and edit accordingly. Take out the ones you're not happy with...but ignore the ones you wrote this day.

3) Continue this for at least three weeks. (Are you doing the math? Ignore it if you are; it's the quality that counts, not the quantity).

4) As you get up each morning and write a week's worth of strips, review what you've written and start to fashion your sample. Theoretically, you've culled out the weakest gags. Here, you'll realize you may need more defining gags for characters or relationships.

Filling these holes will be a new task, and, in repeating the process of writing every morning, you'll have many to cull from to fill those holes well.

Notice I didn't suggest you draw any of these gags.For me/this exercise, the point is to learn to become your own editor, to learn to cull cull cull from gags that aren't good enough (yet) to draw."

I tried this method on one of the strips I'm developing. I didn't get a week of strips written each day, but I did churn out a surprising amount of material: nearly 60 strips in six days. Not all of them are usable, of course, but most are solid, a few are really good, and even the bad ones are good idea starters.

How do others work? Anyone want to offer a different method?

Mortal Thoughts

This has been a weird few weeks.

There have been three strange and unexpected deaths in my little corner of the world lately. I'm not as death-obsessed as Woody Allen, but I must admit I think about the subject probably more than I should. And these recent losses don't help.

How do we deal with death? We can ignore it, deny it, run from it, or try to make peace with it.

Or we can do what Keith Richards, that indestructible icon of excess, did.

"I snorted my father,” Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME. “He was cremated, and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared,” he said, adding that “it went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.”

Richards' father died in 2002 at age 84.

Like I said, a weird few weeks.