The return of my brain, covid, birthdays, tv shows, and books!
I sit here with a clear head, even if I’m wondering how to start this whole thing (which is a pretty normal starting to write thing).
I lost one month of mental acuity due to allergy meds. They tend to zombify me a bit, make my mind fuzzy, and make it hard to focus on anything. It’s a bit of a miracle that I didn’t stop writing these issues because I fell off the horse for working out and writing consistently.
Last allergy season I managed to avoid this feeling almost completely as I kept meds to a minimum and might have even stopped taking meds before allergy season ended. Before last season I crowdsourced ideas for natural remedies. I’m not a woo person so suggestions for crystals that could help fell on deaf ears. But someone mentioned inflammation, that the more inflamed a body is the more it will respond to things it’s allergic to. And I could test it by keeping a food log and tracking how bad my symptoms are.
Looking for patterns made total sense, so I gave it shot.
Long story short: alcohol, dairy, and sugar (and perhaps wheat) made my nose run like Niagara Falls. A couple of beers and I’d have horrible allergy symptoms for 2 1/2 days. Dairy and sugar combined were almost as bad (one slice of ice cream cake fd me up for 2 days).
This year, self control was a lot harder. Dropping the booze & dairy was easy, but I never stopped having sugar. And while my symptoms weren’t too bad, I had a lot of trouble sleeping through the night so being a bit zombified was a better option than lack of sleep, which is crazy hard to tolerate in middle age.
Which all brings me to a thought on creativity, and why making it a habit is so critical:
To me this is most prevalent in writing – if I leave a story for a couple of weeks or more, coming back to it feels like starting all over. And starting any big project is daunting, versus being able to easily pick up where you left off the day before.
Or you haven’t drawn for a while and that first drawing feels good but looks like crap (somehow the inner critic gets more powerful during these breaks).
I knew I was off this past month so I didn’t beat myself up. And I decided to make major changes to the projects I’m working on (basically rewriting a story from scratch, and changing how I’m coloring & inking a comic (shared in the process peak a couple of weeks ago). I kept at it as best I could, knowing that allergy season would end, and then I’d regain my focus, yada yada yada.
tl;dr: make creative work an interrupted daily habit (don’t break the chain) and you’ll never hate yourself again.
The end of allergy season also coincided with one more thing that I had to cut myself some slack for: I got my second covid vaccine on Tuesday – YAY!
I also had pretty bad side effects. I woke up at 4am the next day, achy af (despite having taken aleve before bed to try to avoid this). I couldn’t get comfortable no matter how much I tossed and turned.
I wished I was floating in space because gravity seemed to be the main problem. Or I needed a human sized hot dog roller machine (the kind you see in gas stations & IKEA), because I just kept rotating myself. And I still felt crappy on the 2nd day, until evening. And was just plain physically tired the 3rd day after.
It’s worth it though, I’ve never been so excited to get a shot. I’ll have a real weight lifted off my shoulders when I’m fully vaxxed in 2 weeks.
Sidenote: I’ve seen articles implying that the vaccine is only effective for 6 months. That’s some click bait, disingenuous bullshit because the longest anyone has been vaccinated so far is … 6 months. We don’t know for sure if it lasts longer than 6 months or not, but to say that it’s only effective for 6 months is bullshit.
I really don’t understand why the media frames things the way it does (like legitimizing the conservative attack on voting rights as being a partisan issue). Maybe the internet fucked everything up with websites ruining newspaper revenue and analytics making clear that making everything seem like an even fight resulted in the most traffic.
It makes me glad that I lasted all of one class in journalism school because I couldn’t contribute to the morass. (I left the program because they wouldn’t let me use long words, after I’d spent 12 years trying to impress teachers with long words.)
I also came up with a little theory during my malaise: maybe the fall of the comics industry predicted the bullshit we have to deal with regards to media framing.
By fall I mean the industry declining in the 90s as comic books shops ignored kids and mainstream comics focused on events, alternate covers, and older readers.
It feels like the industry was reliant on making newsworthy events that made readers and collectors buy comics, like the Death of Superman. They ignored making good comics for a wide variety of ages in lieu of what got the most media attention. And even with a company like WB making kid-friendly cartoons, somehow that thinking never made it to their comics division.
My kids loved (and still love) Teen Titans and me not being able to find age appropriate comics for them. DC kept making Starfire a male fantasy sex object. Eventually they made comics aimed at kids but they refused to tone down their main comics. Maybe they’ve changed now but neither me nor my kids are interested in superhero comics anymore.
Anywho, my little theory is that news media is doing the same thing now: focusing on headlines and content that attract the most attention (and thus the most revenue) instead of focusing on reporting the news with society’s best interests in mind.
I think that Marvel has learned and maybe DC has too but the current industry growth is really being pushed by manga (and it’s enormous breadth of stories) & kids comics.
For the sake of the future of the world, let’s hope that content algorithms get kneecapped soon.
Also this week (like it wasn’t eventful enough): my birthday. I turned forty-fucking-nine.
And I don’t like it one bit.
My mind has been stuck at a mental age of around 30 or 35 for years (guess who owns 90s cords from a thrift shop?). The body… not so much, though my tendency to work out regularly (until a few weeks ago) helped a lot.
Next week I get back on the horse, perhaps as early as tomorrow. Because I have to decide if want to buy a bunch of new pants to accommodate my newly expanded waist or not.
What I’ve been watching
I’ve enjoyed 3 shows in the past week:
I haven’t read Kirkman’s comic, though I was really into The Walking Dead (until it started beating a dead horse, which was a little after Negan showed up). And I really dug The Astounding Wolf Man, which was just plain fun in it’s take on the ridiculousness of a werewolf superhero (not by Kirkman, but I also enjoyed Shirtless Bear Fighter).
Anywho, I decided to try the new cartoon on Amazon out and liked it. I dig that each episode is 45 minutes long so it’s more like a dramatic show in its storytelling than a 20 minute cartoon.
I don’t like most superhero stories (they’re mostly beating a dead horse) but I do like ones that steep in realism with the people involved (not Zack Snyder’s idea of realism though). I love the show The Boys (the comic, otoh, is misogynist fantasy garbage), and I also dug both initial Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen series.
Having characters go through normal human things that we can care about separates a good superhero story from the pap. If that sounds good to you, I suggest giving Invincible a go (but without younger kids watching).
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
After Black Panther (which I rewatched for the zillionth time the other night, just ‘cause), the Captain America films are my next favorite Marvel movies. I like the spy movie angle, along with the geopolitical machinations involved.
TFATWS carries that torch well, with the Flag-Smashers, a terrorist group who wants a world without countries/borders. It makes me wonder if they’re being bankrolled/manipulated by someone else or not (like all the bots on Facebook & Twitter). It’s timely.
And I really like what they’re doing with Sam, the predictable new Captain America (who’s definitely going to lose his shit before the end), and the old married couple bickering between Sam & Bucky.
I’m already wondering what’s going to happen after the series ends. They must have a plan if this is only 6 episodes long.
I saved the best for last – Kid Cosmic is AWESOME!!!
I hadn’t heard too much about it, despite it being released on Netflix on the fn 2nd of February. And it’s by Craig McCracken (creator of The Powerpuff Girls, among several other cartoons).
I gave it a go one night and ended up binging it over 3 nights – it’s fantastic!
First, the art is on point. Great character designs, and I love the analog-looking, stylized backgrounds (that were clearly done digitally), as well as the retro comic book covers that are seen at the end of every episode (all by Steve Lambey, who’s either using Retrosupply’s Colorlab or True Grit’s Debaser for the retro comic halftones).
Second, the story is well-written and unexpected. Not gonna say too much here, just that characters are fully developed, so motivations are clear and the resulting predicaments all make sense.
Third, the voice acting is exceptional – especially the kid playing Kid Cosmic. He nails the emotions in his performances. I’m not sure I’ve heard a kid voice act that damn well before. Hitting the emotional highs is easy but this kid (Jack Fisher, who has a bunch of other credits) nails the emotional lows exceptionally. It’s heart-rending and raises the show to another level.
I can’t recommend Kid Cosmic highly enough. In fact, I might have to rewatch it soon.
What I’ve been reading
I’m going to try a slightly different format for this, since I’ve already written a shit-ton this week. (This format has been stolen from Rebecca Green’s newsletter.)
- Dungeon Critters by Natalie Riess & Sara Goetter. A totally adorable story about a cute squad of animal companions doing dungeon-y things. Not totally my cup of tea as I stopped halfway through, but pretty damn cute.
- Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland. This was really cool and engrossing. Some weird scientifi-mystical shit happened, leaving a couple of kids orphaned. Big sis does some dangerous stuff to take care of little sis. Governments are involved, and there’s a creepy sentient doll. Can’t wait for the next book.
- Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri. A totally adorable picture book about a child and their imaginary friend fighting off nightmares together. The character designs are cute af and the watercolors are gorgeous. I wish my kids were younger as this would be great to read with a little.
- And I finished Hellboy Omnibus 3.
That’s it this week! It was a hard one, feeling sick & feeling old but that’s behind me and I have full control over my faculties again.
My question this week: