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April 2003

How to Get Things Done

Whenever I’m down on myself about the way I procrastinate, I like to think about this brilliant story by Robert Benchley. It's funny 'cuz it's true, and a perfect model for how one can rationalize a dodgy work ethic.

"A great many people have come up to me and asked me how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated. Hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country are wondering how I have time to do all my painting, engineering, writing and philanthropic work when, according to the rotogravure sections and society notes, I spend all my time riding to hounds, going to fancy-dress balls disguised as Louis XIV, or spelling out GREETINGS TO CALIFORNIA in formation with three thousand Los Angeles school children. 'All work and all play,' they say."

Own a Piece of a Redbird

If there are any other subway enthusiasts out there (and I know there are), then you have got to check out what's available on the Memorabilia and Collectibles page of the MTA website: Pieces of the old "Redbird" subway fleet are up for sale! I’m debating whether or not to indulge, since there's a minimum order of 300 bucks worth of stuuf. But how cool would it be to have some of this stuff? I’m salivating.

Did you ever see the old Ikea commercial where they go into a subway car and turn into a tricked-out Ikea-esque apartment. I want to get some stuff and do just the reverse take a room and deck it out like a subway car.

News Flashes

Just a couple of relevant news items I’ve come across today:

Me Am Stoopit

Everything is hard today, and I mean that in the “Gee, Math is hard! Tee hee!” way, not the “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get on with it” kind of hard. I feel like a dim-witted stooooopid idiot today, barely any neurons firing. Going from one task to another feels like switching from one far lane to another on a crowded highway. And the pounding, pounding, pounding headache! Oy.

It's my own fault, of course. It's a little experiment I’m conducting to see how bad the withdrawal from antidepressants. I’ve been taking medicine for depression for almost a year, and slowly tapering off for the last few months. If I were to continue, I’d need to go back to a psychiatrist soon to renew my prescription, but I wanted to see how I fared without the biochemical maintenance while I still had a supply to rush back to if things felt too rocky. I know I felt a little weird the last time I cut my dosage, or even when I’d forget and miss a dose, so I’m not worrying too much yet.

I can definitely attest to the profound improvement that the medicine has had on me during the last year. There was a while there when I was a total, fetal-position-lying-in-the-dark, wimpering hermit, and just talking about my feelings wasn't quite enough to get me past that. Still, after a year of being medicated I’m not totally comfortable with the idea that I require medication to avoid being loopy. I’m grumpy enough about having to take medication every day to keep myself free of normal health complications, so I’d like to feel that there's at least some part of the whole Sparky equation I can handle on my own (or with a little moral support from the Peanut Gallery). I wanna see if I can handle things on my own again, especially since I’ve used the year to get a lot of my affairs and nagging problems in order. If and when I go back to the doctor to discuss medication again, I want to be able to have some idea about whether or not that crippling depression was just a phase or not.

In the meantime, though yowza! What a curious sensation it is to try and shake that monkey off my back. I promise, though, that if I start feeling all wigged out again, I'll do the right thing. I don't feel all doped up and numbed by the medicine quite the contrary but I think it's time to see how I do on my own for a spell. Just so I can know for sure.

Top Ten Treats

I’m a sucker for work that slyly works in the pop culture heritage that I’ve absorbed throughout my life. There's a lot of heavy-handed, ironic name-dropping of old TV shows and such out there, but that shit's just weak. What I’m talking about is stuff that has its own story to tell, its own point to make, but shows a certain amount of playful reverence for its direct or indirect source material.

Writer Alan Moore has always been a particular favorite of mine for just this reason. When I first read The Watchmen years ago, it was like a boot to the head to encounter this mature look at the culture of superheroes that drew on the conceits of the genre I knew and examined them in a new light. It was critical and thoughtful and even playful, but most of all it showed a deep love of comics and comic-book culture.

Years later, his series Top Ten gave me another wallop. It wasn't trying to reinvent the medium in quite the same way, but instead it created another world altogether, one based on the idea of a city where generations of costumed crimefighters lived and bred and thrived and crowded the place. It was a fun idea, and a fun story, and I loved it. It was a slower read than most comics, though, because Moore and the series' co-creator Gene Ha packed every panel with so much detail of life in the city of Neopolis that every scene had to be analyzed. They populated the place with new characters, generic supertypes, and all matter of characters from decades worth of comics, movies, and TV, often recolored or recombined in any manner of subtle in-jokes for the nerd crowd. Bliss.

I loved it, but I’d forgotten about what a fun read it was until I grabbed the second volume yesterday and found myself giggling uncontrollably as I digested the artwork again. Here are a few blown-up details. How many characters can you identify?

Top Ten #1 Top Ten #2
Top Ten #3 Top Ten #4
Top Ten #5 Top Ten #6
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