Lost in Thought: Nowhere Man

Well, I have my laptop working properly again, after a fashion. The keyboard and trackpad don't jump the cursor around to random points on screen and delete, select, or rearrange things — as long as the battery is removed. If you're wondering whether it's too obvious to point out that the next step would appear to be getting a new battery, your restraint is appreciated.

Among the timely posts for me to git on up are a review of
Shutter Island, but as you can see from the header this one's back to the most familiar Island madhouse since the days of Gilligan.

First topic is one of the most chilling sights on
Lost yet: Claire's totem baby.

Ahhhh... Image © 2005 ABC Studios.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!! Image © 2010 ABC Studios. Screencap from Lost-Media fansite via Nik at Nite.

One reason why it's so strange is that, as I mentioned in my
episode analysis of last Tuesday's show, Claire does realize that Aaron's not with her. She knows her Nowhere Man is somewhere, though she doesn't actually know where, because he's somewhere else — with her mother, back in LA, rather than at the Others' Temple. Wherefore then the bizarro bassinet?

It's also strange because, well,
look at the frickin' thing. Paleoblues, a frequent poster over at Nik at Nite, has shared an academic analysis that reassures Vincent lovers the skull can't be his, as "those are not the teeth of a dog." Furthermore, "Claire (I assume) has taken measures to make the skull look more 'human'. The snout has been sawed off ... to make the face flatter. And, to me, the neatest thing she has done is place two buttons or rings on the skull's forehead facing forward like the eyes of a primate."

It's the
Eyes of a primate
It's the snout of a squirrel
Rest-ing sound-ly in Claire's Weird Jungle Crayyy-dle
And you think
That it's creepy
But it can't be alive
Yet it's watch-ing us all with the eyyyyyyyyyyyes
Of a priiiiiiimate!

Sorry. I get "Eye of the Tiger" in my head quite easily, and the moment the phrase "eyes of a primate" popped up it just happened. The "snout of a squirrel" line is not my own deduction, by the way, but the result of a Google search for "lost claire jungle baby bones" that turned up an
excerpt of an AOL TV interview with Emilie de Ravin herself via the esteemed Doc Arzt's website. Far stranger search strings have appeared in my browser, sadly, most also related to Lost. And arguably odder items than the above song snippet are yet to come in this post.

Screencaps from Lost-Media fansite and © 2010 ABC Studios.

Another Nowhere Man and/or Woman figuring prominently in last week's episode is the mysterious
Wallace, unless he or she was just a red herring. I neglected to mention the name entirely in my previous Lost post, but speculation over to whom the surname might belong has been rampant.

Jacob had tasked Hurley with going to the lighthouse to ensure that a certain someone made it to the Island — or so he said; in retrospect, it seemed like it may all just have been part of a plan to get Jack thinking. Hurley was to turn the Mirror-Dial Contraption to 108, and we learned that each of the degrees on the Dial had a name attached to it much like the ones Lockalike showed Sawyer in the cliff-wall cave the week before. Jack waylaid Hurley, but screencaps of the Dial have since hit the 'Net showing the familiar Ford at 15, Jarrah at 16,
etc., in addition to the Shephard at 23 that got Jack so riled up. It turns out that Kate is probably not 108, as your humble blogger spitballed a dozen days ago, since the name Austen is at 51; perhaps she's an alien from Area 51 instead, and that's the real reason she's on the run. Screencaps show the 108 slot — at least this go-'round; some names appear to have been overwritten — belonging to someone named Wallace, as you can see at the Lost-Media fansite (click the image, locate the 110, go straight down, and you'll intersect the name Wallace at 108, crossed-out, upside-down).

Maybe Jack's Nick Jonas
doppelgänger spawn actually exists in the original timeline too. His relationship with David's mom may not have lasted thanks to Jacob or the Island's interference, and Jack might have never known she was with child; for that matter, she might not have, either, until after they broke up. Mystery Momma could've raised David alone or given him up for adoption, and either her last name or that of his adoptive or foster family could be Wallace. After seeing a John Locke, a Rousseau, a Hawking, a Faraday, a C.S. Lewis, and so on, would it be so strange to encounter a David (Foster) Wallace?

No, I don't think it would, but I've actually opted to take another approach to the puzzle — one that still assumes we've seen Wallace before. Some of you may recall my
attempt last year to tie Lost to Norse mythology via free association; if you don't, the effort and reason behind it are at the link. I shall now once again brave a journey through the mind's eye to pierce the veil of... okay, what I do is go to whatever pops into my head next until I arrive at a likely destination, in this case the name of a previously known Lost character; then I spend way too long collecting images on the Internet to make the process visually entertaining for you. Ready?


Wally West.

Kid Flash.

Flash Gordon.


Sesame Street.

Picabo Street.

The Olympics.

Olympus Mons, on Mars,
largest known volcano in the solar system,
a.k.a. Nix Olympica, the Snows of Olympus.
[Thanks, Grandpa Lamken!]


Fall from Grace.

Maggie Grace.


Could the inhaler have been a clue? Shannon's last name has been given as Rutherford, but the man killed in the same car accident that brought Jack's future ex-wife Sarah into his life may not in fact have been Shannon's biological father. Of course, Shannon's dead, and, incidentally, the name Rutherford appears on the Dial, crossed out according to the list on Lostpedia, but if her actual father is named Wallace he could still be out there, somehow aware of his daughter and searching for her; then again, we're back to not knowing who he is, so let's keep digging for a familiar character who's alive.

Del Shannon.

The Del-Vikings.

The Viking Prince.


Purple Rain.

"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head".

"Head over Heels".

Tears for Fears.

Roland Orzabal.

Roland synthesizers.


Photo finish.


Finn from Glee.

Sue Sylvester.

Sylvester the Cat.

Cat Power.

Luke Cage, Power Man.

Luke and Laura.

General Hospital.

Port Charles.

Charles Widmore!

And there you have it, folks: Charles Widmore is, as some hoped and many feared, an agent of Jacob after all, for good or ill. He's kept his true name hidden and is finally on his way to the Island himself.

Don't shoot the messenger.

Images for free-association segment are the intellectual property of, where applicable, to the best of my knowledge, DC Comics (2), King Features Syndicate, Sesame Workshop (2), Allsport / Time Magazine, International Olympic Committee, NASA, Sherie Saner, The Sistine Chapel, ABC Studios (2), Del Shannon Enterprises Inc., Getty Images, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Records (2), 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Mercury Records (3), Roland Corporation US, Mikael Häggström, Trish Biddle, Finland, 20th Century Fox Television (2), Warner Bros. Entertainment, Cat Power, Marvel Comics, and ABC Studios (4), used in good faith.

Lost in Thought: You Won't See Me

Due to my computer problems this is late, haphazard, and uninformed by any online discussion. But it's still my first thoughts on...

While I didn't get to jot down as many memorable lines as usual, an early one made a lasting impression: "How do you lose a body?"

Jack's mother said this in the Alternate Universe as they discussed Oceanic's misplacement of Christian Shephard, but I thought immediately of Locke. He suffered unimaginable indignity in death — he was despondent to the point of suicide, only to have Benjamin Linus "save" and then murder him, after which his body was brought back to the Island but
he was not; instead, Smokey manifested in Locke's likeness. (Now that's identity theft.)

The episode's flashsideways focused on Jack as he connected to the son we never knew he had, partly because until now he didn't necessarily exist. Even his name surprised me. David? I figured it would be
Geronimo. And am I the only one who thought he looked eerily like the love child of Matthew Fox and The Jonas Brothers? For her part, Jack's mother Margo — seen briefly at Christian's Original Universe memorial in Season 4 and in a Season 1 flashback — looked like a cross between Morticia Addams and an aging Lynda Carter; as it turns out, she's played by another raven-haired siren of bygone TV, Hill Street Blues' Veronica Hamel.

Sure we've seen it before, but the climactic piano recital was touching — credit Fox for showing his range once again, from angst to pride to fierce anger across two realities — and it reminded us that, for all the potential Island enlightenment the AU versions of our castaways may have "lost" by never having
become castaways, their lives as untouched by the Island's influence seem whole.

David's existence and that appendectomy scar of Jack's are further evidence that when the Island sank in AU 1977 the butterfly effect of the event extended not just to those in the immediate vicinity, like the presumably evacuated Ben or Ethan Goodspeed, but future "candidates" or other persons of interest to Jacob, who now have led lives as different in some ways as they are similar in others to their OU versions. Hurley feels lucky and
happy; John is with Helen; what AU Kate did is apparently different from what OU Kate did, although I think that's still technically extracurricular info not yet covered in the show. Some of this may be due to lack of human interference from the likes of Charles Widmore, but much of it likely stems from either the absence of Jacob or at least a different approach necessitated by the H-bomb explosion. Yet destiny or something like it still brought many of the OU castaways together on Oceanic 815 in AU September 2004, and located Ben, Ethan, and Temple leader Dogen in the same Los Angeles environs as the Oceanic travelers. (Dogen's appearance bolsters my hope that we'll see Alex Rousseau talking back to Ben in one of his history classes. "Shove it, Mr. Linus! You're not my father!")

The subplot of what happened to Christian's missing coffin and, more importantly, what may or may not be inside is likely going somewhere big, but in this episode it served mostly to do two things: (1) Inject the name Claire Littleton into Jack's AU existence, by extension linking those scenes to Claire's present-day OU Island adventures as well as Jack's, and (B) cause me to all but shout at the television, "Let's see if Dad's will is filed neatly on the mantlepiece bookshelf behind his desk — right after we dig through all these boxes!"

Despite the fact that we last saw her sitting serenely in Jacob's cabin with Christian, Claire's evidently been living like half-mad Frenchwoman Danielle for some time. Her piercing blue eyes still shine out through her paranoia, grime, and crazy jungle pseudo-mullet — bird's nest in the front, electroshock therapy in the back — but whether it's due to Smokey's influence, some kind of undead state, or just the trauma of three years without any human companionship, Claire isn't quite right.

The crib and its contents were sure a strange sight, partly because Claire
does understand that Aaron's not with her and partly because that makeshift totemic baby came complete with an animal skull whose snout made it resemble the Island's statue of Taweret. Speculation on not just where Claire was but what she was has been simmering for a couple of seasons now; one thing she doesn't seem to be is beyond the physical realm, although in that place and with these storytellers we can't be sure. The house where she resided when the castaways succeeded the Others as occupiers of the old Dharma Initiative lodgings was blown up good by Widmore's freighter mercenaries, but she seemed unharmed at the time. Miles saw her walk off into the jungle with Christian in the middle of the night, however, leaving Aaron behind near Miles and Sawyer; her only appearance since then in the Original Universe was in the cabin, placid and unconcerned about her son. Lots of folks have wondered if she didn't actually die when her house was attacked, but if she did she got up and kept moving right away without benefit of the Temple's healing pool. Her change of heart or mind over Aaron's whereabouts is puzzling, as is her exact interaction with Christian or whomever he may be and the figure she knows not to be Locke and simply calls "my friend".

Dogen told Jack that his sister had been "claimed" as Sayid was, and if that's true she could count as another body lost. "If there's one thing that'll kill you 'round here, it's an infection," she told Jin in a comment as pregnant with meaning as she was with Aaron when the series began. Of course, Aaron is lost from Claire's perspective, believed to have been taken by the Others when in fact Kate has traveled back to the Island to bring Claire back to her son in LA. Jacob has also lost his body, or at least the only body of his we've seen, but that hasn't kept him from appearing to Hurley, this time to direct Hurley and Jack to that lighthouse with its magic multifaceted mirror. You could even stretch the association to include Alternate Universe Jack's feeling of losing touch with his own body, first staring into the mirror in the airplane lavatory in the season premiere and now having to ask his mother about his appendectomy scar. Will he ever learn that there's another one of him out there, through the looking-glass, still chasing his own white rabbit?

Can Not Post

can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup

My keyboard is acting like it has a mind of its own, so the Campbell's soup can is in effect until further notice. [I've switched to Bean with Bacon for Blam's Blog even though the Cream of Mushroom used by Evanier obviously makes far more sense.]

Lost in Thought: Do You Want to Know a Secret

I had planned to post a look at Lost's season premiere, but conversations on- and offline kept enlightening me until the next episode rolled around. [Update: One has now been posted after all.] The same thing happened, to a lesser degree, over the following week. I'll still put up a good ol' big-picture "think piece" in the near future, but in the meantime, for any of my readers who don't frequent Nik at Nite, I thought I'd post my specific initial reactions to tonight's episode...

Holy frackin' shoot!

I think this makes up for any perceived apathy or frustration over last week's episode. As a matter of fact, they could have run nothing but deleted scenes of Nikki & Paulo getting tattoos in Thailand last week and this still would have redeemed my faith in the show.

Numbers were finally explained:

4. 8. 15. 16. 23. 42.

Locke. Reyes. Ford. Jarrah. Shephard. Kwon.

Does that, by the way, make Kate 108? 'Cause we definitely saw Jacob touch her in last season's finale. Esau (or Not-Locke, or the Lockealike) may not have felt that it was in his interest to point her name out to James — or he somehow might not have known it was there.

I did wonder if maybe she was a hidden sibling of one of the others, Leia-style. Her being a Kwon or Jarrah is unlikely, and having her be a Ford or Shephard would be beyond icky. But that in turn got me thinking if, her legal name aside, Claire qualified as a Shephard being Christian's daughter and whether she was now out of the running or, conversely, already fulfilling part of her role.

You could really get your brains in a twist wondering if Aaron's biological father was some long-lost sibling of Sawyer or Locke's, or even if Ji Yeon was the Kwon in question — the plane having been brought down on the Island so that Sun and Jin could conceive a child — although that feels like a stretch. When "Jacob's list" was first mentioned in the Others' camp, one of them said that "Shephard" was not on it, but at this point we have no idea what that means.

And maybe saying the Numbers were "explained" isn't exactly true, since we don't know how the six corresponding to these specific castaways were chosen for the Swan's hatch door or the computer in that same station, let alone broadcast in the South Pacific at such a point that they'd find their way to Hurley and become his winning lottery numbers or, even more freakily, the mileage on his restored Camaro. But the simple fact that they're etched in a cave on the Island and tied to Jacob is enough for me to regard them as having some inherent power, particularly since this group of people out of all those who were called to the Island seems to be special.

first act of the episode just rocked:

I loved seeing John laugh at the sprinklers starting up. And seeing Helen walk out the door, after which the surprises just kept on coming.... The
wedding? John's Dad?!? The, um, conference? (I'm glad that last part got worked out, as secrets and lies really wear thin this late in the game.)

Our Smokey's-eye-view rumble through the jungle got played back several times just for the cool factor. It was only on the third go-'round that I noticed you could see a billowing grey cloud reflected in the window of Sawyer's house as Smokey reared up to it. How is that robot-cricket, roller-coaster-chain
chika-chika sound so oddly infectious*? *No pun intended regarding last week's episode. I have not been "claimed".

You can't really call the revelations of circumstances in the alternate timeline
surprises, since we know things are different there, but there were surprises galore on the Island in the present day of the established universe. Even before the title card appeared, we learned that Richard can get beat up, get thirsty, and even get scared. I don't like seeing him that way, but the chiseling away at his mystique hopefully means that we're close to finding out more about him, so I'll take it.

great lines were plentiful:

Helen: "I mean, Who knows? Maybe it's destiny."

Esau: "Richard, I'm sorry I hit you in the throat and dragged you off the beach, but I had to do
something." Funny.

James: "Well, I guess I'd better put some
pants on." Ditto.

Esau: "Don't tell me what I can't do!" Not funny
ha-ha, but funny ironic, and the first time that I've felt a twinge of sympathy for the Man in Black, who despite arguments from friends I still highly doubt is the good guy.

Esau: "No, James.
That... is why you're all here." Awesome!

Frank: "This is the weirdest damn funeral I've ever been to." Funny. Grade-A,
laugh-out-loud funny.

Esau: "Jacob had a thing for numbers." Funny, and tied as the best dry, sly wink to the fans with his tossing the white rock into the ocean and saying, "Inside joke."

final act of the episode rocked too:

After learning that Richard wasn't necessarily as unflappable or as invulnerable as he seemed, we learned as he chased the blond-haired boy that neither is Esau. He can feel surprised, wonder if what he's seeing is really there, and even run out of breath in this body.

Was that Young Jacob? Did he rise like a phoenix from the ashes and get to 10 years old already? Is this the Genesis planet or something (
Star Trek Genesis, not Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel Genesis), where dead bodies are reconstituted? Did the boy just slip away before Richard could see him, or could Richard flat-out not see him yet James somehow could?

I suspect it behooves the producers to bring together the characters on the Island as quickly as possible, because flipping back and forth week-to-week between different storylines is something that roused viewer discontent in the past. And while I'm very interested in the Temple, this week's focus was much more edge-of-the-seat intriguing than last week's. Whether that has to do with the script and direction or with the fact that direct glimpses into the Jacob & Esau mythology trump anything else I've not figured out yet, but even before we got tonight's bountiful bonanza folks seemed concerned that for all their potential the Temple scenes would quickly devolve into this season's version of the interminable layover at the Hydra station.

One thing I'll say for Esau is that he did give us some answers, even if their context or backstory haven't yet been fleshed out. He was annoyingly cryptic to both Richard and James early on, which was worrisome, but darned if the torch he struck in that cave wasn't a metaphor for some welcome enlightenment.

What did you think?

I ♥ Elephants

stuffed gray Webkinz toy elephant

I was just given the OK by my sister to tell this story. Hopefully it translates. It was funny as heck when she shared it with me.

My nephew, whom as before for the purposes of privacy I will call Ishmael, has become enamored of stuffed animals. Some months ago he started asking for an elephant. Our mother was able to get him one — a pink one, though, as gray stuffed toy elephants are apparently hard to find. Now, at 2½ years old, I don't think that a pink elephant is in any way either an indicator of nor an influence on his destiny; even if it were, and he ends up a 6'5", 275-lb. ballerino with a life partner named Frank, hey, God bless him. But I understand why my sister was still looking for a regular gray elephant.

And Uncle Brian found a gray elephant.

DC at 75

classic art of Superman, Robin, and Batman hawking newspapers on a city street, each holding up a front page touting the heroic exploits of one of the others ('Robin Routs Crooks', 'Batman Battles Hoods', 'Superman Smashes Crime Ring'), all highlighted in a crisp round detail with stylized DC 75 logo, more of the art from the original cover visible outside the ring but faded
DC 75 logo with detail of cover to World's Finest Comics #63 TM, © 1953 DC Comics.

This post is currently down for maintenance.

The Slog

Tuesday, this blog turned a year old, and today's the anniversary of its first substantive post. I figured that it was a good time to reflect on the State of the Blog. Unfortunately, the contraction of that phrase that gives this post its title is a little too appropriate.

I'm not trying to make the blog sound like a chore. Much about it is nothing but positive to me. But the technical glitches with Blogger have been terribly frustrating, which only compounds some of the natural frustration I anticipated due to my own limitations these days. I'll try to explain why, if only to get it off my chest; you're more than welcome to move on to something more fun. 8^)

Neil Gaiman once said, "I don't enjoy writing. I enjoy
having written." A quick web-search finds the quote attributed variously to him, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Dorothy Parker. Wherever it originated, I was surprised to hear Gaiman employ it — in fact, I'd be surprised to hear it from any writer. I love writing. I love jotting down notes, I love doing research, I love mulling over the right word, I love picking apart and rearranging sentences and paragraphs, I love seeing how the whole article or interview or story balances out. I love the entire writing process, fiction and nonfiction alike.

Drawing wears me down, though. I was known as an artist for most of my life because I'd displayed a certain amount of inborn talent and it's much easier to pick out someone as a "good" artist than a "good" writer at a glance. Besides, everybody can write, at least in the technical sense (although, frankly, everybody can draw in the technical sense, too; how that usually turns out is probably evidence not that writing is easier than drawing but that many writers aren't as talented as they think — only it's harder to prove their relative skill to them than if they were aspiring painters, carpenters, or yodelers). The fact is, however, that I'm really only talented enough to impress folks who can't draw. From the moment I start sketching, it's all downhill, as every stroke, every commitment of line defines the drawing on the page farther away from what the electric pulse from my mind to my hand had intended. Many times I've liked a sketch enough that I refused to go any farther with it, because tightening it up in pencil, let alone rendering it in ink, just kills it. I enjoy drawing when it's just futzing around, but when there's a real goal, if it turns out well — which, on occasion, it does — yes, I enjoy having drawn, yet I rarely enjoy the tightrope walk of getting there; it's like building a house of cards that's more likely to fall with every stroke of the marker.

Folks who knew me in my first couple of decades are usually surprised to hear that most of my career was based on writing and graphic design. They ask me if I still draw. And I do, but rarely, as thanks to the health problems I'll discuss shortly it's hard to focus enough to render anything meaningful. The reason why I was never a more professional cartoonist even when I
could draw more easily is pretty obvious to me: I had little formal training and didn't practice nearly enough to be as quick and as good as is necessary to make a living at it. Most writers who are also artists will tell you (even those more talented than I) that drawing just isn't as cost-effective a way of making a living unless you're insanely fast or insanely in demand.

What those friends and even family members never realized, distracted by the colorful pictures, was that I was always writing as I was drawing, not only through my homemade comics but even in the standalone pictures. If you trained a movie camera on 7-year-old artist me, you'd have seen that for every poster-style image there was also a superhero or spaceship battle raging, with ray beams flying back and forth, often ending up in a total mess but lots of fun on the way. I also wrote prose stories by hand or on my mom's nifty old cursive typewriter. The drawing just sticks out as more unique.

That digression was to point out that I can, I suppose, relate in theory to those who don't enjoy
writing, only having written. I also suspect that, just as I've done in talking about drawing, they make it sound a little less satisfying than it really is, because even if rare the moments when any creative act clicks are joyful in an indescribable way. But writing for me is a pure thrill. Which is why it sucks so damn hard not to be able to do it like I once could.

Almost twelve years ago now, I got sick. I'd been married for a couple of years, I was actually making a vocation out of my lifelong hobby, and things were generally good. To be sure, I had my share of personal and professional hurdles, but nothing that seemed insurmountable, and, hey, life can be hard; that just makes the sweet moments sweeter. My wife, my immediate family, and my in-laws were all tremendously supportive as we tried to figure out what was going on. Through all kinds of medical tests, doctors' visits, and potential remedies, my daily functionality was ridiculously low, just as I was finishing up a massive, long-gestating project.

I don't mean to be coy, but I'm not going to get into the eventual diagnoses and exactly how I'm dealing with things now. One thing we found out early on was that my thyroid was failing — either triggered by or entirely coincidental to what else my body was going through, its hormone levels started dropping at the same time, and for a while we hoped that fixing it would be the magic bullet. As my GP told me, the thyroid affects just about everything, and luckily, as I knew from family history, it's easily treatable in most cases by a simple daily pill. My genes were also kind enough to bless me with intractable migraines, which I've mentioned before on the blog, but those I've had since college. What turned out to be the root of my remaining pain, fatigue, and frequent inability to concentrate, however, remains too personal to share here — not because it's embarrassing or psychosomatic or even controversial, but because I'm still dealing with how to deal with it. I've accepted it to the extent that I need to; I have ongoing explorations of how to address both the core problem if possible and administer palliative care while doing so; I belong to communities where I can confer with others in the same boat. A nasty incident not quite ten years back severely curtailed how open I'm willing to be about certain things in such public forums as this, however.

Over a period of days and months following the morning I woke up to the world spinning, my functionality improved, but it took a long time to zero in on what might be wrong and things never returned to the old normal. Work was largely therapeutic, but my reduced capacity led me to reconsider publishing the magazine I'd launched through my own company and join forces with another publisher; unfortunately, while it seemed like a good idea at the time, it proved to be one of the most stressful and regrettable decisions I could have made. The marriage dissolved, about which the less said the better, and then the publishing arrangement did as well, in part due to vicious, initially mysterious attacks on my character and twisted attempts at gaslighting that abused privileged information (hence the wariness referenced above). I did not handle my illness well during this period, and the unreliability that it engendered made it difficult to keep up with freelance projects; whether because of insufficient attention or wholly unusual worsening after reaching a manageable plateau, my health went south again and drained my finances completely.

While the traditional post-nuptial doughiness had set in, and I've never exactly been an athlete, I was in pretty decent shape before getting sick. After losing a lot of weight and then, once I could eat again, gaining too much back, the physical exhaustion that comes with even minimal activity became a roadblock to many aspects of everyday life, from exercise to socializing. But the mental fatigue is what's really done me in this past decade. Not only can I not multitask; often, I can hardly
unitask. Although meditation has helped me regain a greater ability to focus than at times I dared hope for, my cognitive reserves are still low and unpredictable. For someone who not only made his living but, in many ways, defined his life through his ability to sit down with paper or keyboard and monitor arranging words and pictures, it's been tough.

Having my career slip away, and with it the satisfaction that came from becoming a professional in the industry that had fascinated me since childhood, was a disappointment of such magnitude as I'd never wish on anyone (except maybe the guy who took to gaslighting me). I lost friends, acquaintances, and general camaraderie as the convention trips, participation on chat lists and online forums, and even visits to the local comics shop dried up. The comps stopped coming in and for the first time in nearly three decades I was no longer buying comics at all. I'll delve into this more in a separate post, but my re-entry into reading and discussing, let alone writing about, comics over the last few years has been
very cautious, because having to give it all up again would be devastating on a whole new level.

Almost as strange as watching comics reach new heights of literary and multimedia awareness from the sidelines was having the digital revolution pass me by. My last computer only had a dial-up modem, and it died several years ago; for quite a few years, my only Internet access was through the grace of friends, family, and the local library. As my concentration improved and ability to write began to return (with credit to good fortune, practice, and the meditation), however tentatively and intermittently, getting a new computer became more important, and once I was able to do so I turned my attention to blogging. On the whole it's been rewarding, but the persistent problem of vanishing posts is both an eerie reminder of that gaslighting, even if the actual problem is only some strange technical glitch, and just a heck of a thing to encounter given how much time and effort goes into some of these posts.

Dipping into my collection of comics during my time away from the industry, and resigning myself to the fact that there was little reason to keep it around if it was no longer research material — not with space at a premium and the cash it could bring a necessity — I decided to sell it off. Slowly, I began to organize it, something that hadn't been done in far too long because of how taxing it was to bag issues and shift stacks and move boxes. Then I realized that such a project could serve more than one purpose. Maybe I had at least one more book in me; maybe the logistics of sorting everything and putting it up for sale, reading it all one last time as I did so to make it earn its keep — with the through-line of how I'd been involved in comics from different perspectives over my life, as a reader, scholar, retailer, journalist, aspiring creator — could form the basis of one of these blogs I'd heard so much about and eventually get shaped into something to stick on the shelves.

I still plan to launch that blog, and hopefully get most of my old writing online where it can do researchers some good too. Print-on-demand and electronic books have evolved to the point where I might even make some money collecting the interviews I've done over the years, because I don't seem to be alone in finding even old conversations with solid subjects interesting. But as getting my collection in order turned into a bigger logistical problem than I'd anticipated, and the lure of writing about current media and other subjects proved strong, I let this blog go where it would to see just how well and how often I could put posts together.

For the rest of this month I'm going to focus on finishing or reposting essays on television and film, since it's both sweeps and Oscars season. I've been livid over timely posts getting knocked down, a wholly separate problem from not yet having posted in the first place long-gestating pieces that have proved substantive enough that getting my hands dirty with them has been exciting but finishing them has been difficult. Next month I just might inaugurate another March of Comics as something of a swan song to the periodical habit and an impetus to finally review some great recent material. I'll be looking into alternatives to Blogger as well, with both WordPress and TypePad highly recommended but also more complicated and potentially pricey. Recommendations are welcome, the more objective the better as each platform seems to have its fair share of zealots.

The past year of blogging has been at least as fulfilling as it has frustrating, never more so than when I hear from friends and family that it's good to see me writing again or get kudos from folks who have no idea how incredibly difficult this often is. Enough time has gone by that I'd like it to be more than frivolous, however, and find out whether this plain old blog on whatever I can throw out there is my limit or I can be productive on a greater level. I hope you'll stick with me.