A picture of my car before I had it taken away by the tow truck from the charity. Used the AutoStitch app on my iPhone. I miss the car already- I’ll be writing a small retrospective of my time with my car.
Before that, I’ll be doing a writeup of my experiences at E3, 2011! I got in this year! Expect that next week.
The best presents are those made just for you- those that people go out of their way to make sure it’s utterly right for you in every sense of the word. Everyone has had one of these, at least. One present I received this previous christmas could fall into this category- an utterly geeky present I received from a friend I only knew through the internet. Rebecca “Soap” Gunther is a talented artist, the artist behind multiple webcomics, most recently including Anathema and Amya. We became friends during my long winded stint as a webcomics reviewer, conversing with many artists on the Comic Genesis forums- where she started out her first couple of webcomics. She’s improved almost constantly on her artwork over the years and years that I’ve known her. You owe it to yourself to her work and see what I mean. Even after I had quietly left the webcomics scene (it wasn’t so much of a leaving of the scene- more of fading out from the whole usual hubbub and drama that surrounded many of the webcomics communities I frequented), we continued our friendship, mostly on twitter and other social networking sites of its ilk. There isn’t a site that I’m on that I’m sure I’ll find Soap close by (seriously, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter… we’re friends on most of ’em). This line of communication continued through the holidays, when Rebecca would send out Christmas cards to all sorts of people she knew online. It was a tradition she did year after year, and I was fortunate to receive them time and time again, year after year during the holidays. One year, Soap included a picture she drew and colored herself- a picture of my old online persona as a Sackboy from Little Big Planet (the character was originally Kon, a little stuffed lion toy from the manga Bleach. I have appeared as this character cameoed in multiple comics) . I loved the picture so much I had it on the wall above my desk. In response, I sent her a poster I got from a Resident Evil 5 release blood drive held in LA, knowing that Soap was a huge fan of the RE horror games. It was perfect for her- she responded in glee on Twitter, espousing words of thanks that I was more than happy to receive. This year, she expanded upon the gift even further. She made what was once a drawing into an actual sackboy (or sacklion, really) into an actual sackboy. It arrived during a freak string of rainy weather here in Los Angeles, which had soaked my room with water so much so that I had started moving myself out of the room. I was stressed from moving (and work) that I almost didn’t notice the box on my doorstep, soaked completely to the core. I was able to tear the box apart with my fingers to expose the small present within. I knew what it was the moment I saw just the arm sticking out of its packaging. I giggled in joy, and showed it to my sister, who admitted that while it was a great present, it was “still pretty nerdy” (living with a nerd, she’s become used to the random things that give me joy that she just doesn’t really “get”) But I didn’t care. It was a present perfect for me, perfect for what I was all about. I bounded off to work with a spring in my step. And when It came time for me to move everything out of my room, the original picture and the sacklion were the first to be packed. They were the first things I unpacked when I moved right back into my room- resting beside my game consoles. They were the best geeky little present ever. Thank you, Soap.
Today is (well, earlier today) was the celebration of Day of the Dead.I wrote about Day of the Dead before- about the celebration and the lack therof in my life. I wanted to honor those who had passed away to connect to my own lost roots as a Mexican-American- or at least, to my own heritage as a Mexican. I hadn’t celebrated last year. To be honest, I totally forgot about the celebration, the festivities. I had nothing to celebrate, or really- no one to celebrate. This year, I had someone to celebrate about. Taylor. On Halloween, I set up the ofrenda– or altar to the dead. my sister bought some virgin Mary candles from the supermarket, and I set them up along the tabletop, along with other smaller items traditional to the national holiday: A picture of Taylor (along with some relatives and other people). Some skulls and festive skeletons to celebrate the occasion. An offering- Taylor’s favorite beer, Natural Light. I’m oddly proud of this makeshift ofrenda. Maybe next year, I’ll have to get a couple of those sugar skulls to make it truly authentic. Or perhaps I’ll have to put a little more effort into it- who knows. Teresa and I both went to Taylor’s grave to lay down the flowers early this morning, laying down the (again, traditional) marigolds upon the graves. Even then, early in the morning, we drove by past rows and rows of graves, some littered with the same marigolds. Just goes to show the tradition is still strong in the US.
After this talk of Tron Evolution has dominated film and nerd sites for the past couple of months, I thought it would be more than prudent to share a story of Tron fandom- well before the madness over Tron Evolution came around and the overall revival of the Tron franchise as it stands today. I was attending the Video Games Live concert at the Hollywood Bowl (the very same one I attended with my friend Taylor)- a nerdy enough event within itself- people dressed up as random video game characters wandering about the Bowl before the event started (I remember seeing a giant Pac Man guy walking around quite happily in the seats behind me). We had good seats, too- a booth pretty close to the stage. Nothing prepared me, however, for the sheer madness that I shared with the neighboring booth. The booth was filled with a family of asian males, perhaps Korean or Japanese in descent (to recall the specifics is quite hard at this point)- all completely decked out in Tron merchandising. Head to toe. Sports jackets all very worn down, twenty or so years old perhaps as they talked amongst themselves. I pointed them out to those in my booth, and we all had little individual scoffs as we took turns glancing at the men and their ridiculous attire. But they were pretty nice- we would share a nod and a glance after every song or so. But it finally came to the moment they were waiting for at the concert- a piece from Tron . All four men in the booth rose to their feet cheering quite madly, even a bit more than I had expected. My entire party looked over at them, bewildered to the energy that seemed to have exploded once they heard the music. Once I turned my head, the lunacy escalated- they held up Tron shoes among them- two pairs, each shoe cradled in the hands of each one of the men as they screamed and hollered for the music to continue. Everyone in my booth was… well speechless. We didn’t know fandom could go so far, even for a movie that was about twenty or so years old at this point. Once the song ended, the men clapped louder than anyone else there, congratulating one another as they finally took their seats. I quite remember just staring at them and thinking “Christ, like anyone else would ever think about Tron after this.” Oh how wrong I was. I thought about those crazy fans again recently, every time a ad or some news article on the movie pops up, thinking how happy they must be to see their beloved franchise returning to the big screen. And how foolish i felt misjudging what I had thought was a dead franchise to come back to life. I was totally wrong about Tron. Oh well.
*My friend Taylor’s funeral was today. I prepared a speech to say at his funeral, but with a lack of time, I was unable to do so. Here’s the speech in its entirety so I may share my final thoughts of a dear, dear friend. * For the past week, I racked my brain for hours on end trying to find a word that could sum up Taylor and what he meant to me. I spoke to friends who were also shocked at his passing, recalling our times with him, stories of his great character and his importance to us. I think I finally came up with the proper word- Taylor Thomas Nudo was nothing short of fantastical. Ever since I met Taylor in the sixth grade, I always knew he was unique- from the way he befriended so many different people or the way he spent an entire day at school asking everyone if he had a chin. He was my inspiration to become a writer, pushing me since middle school to continue writing scripts, even after we went to separate schools. My greatest joy was to finish a script, rushing to read it to him in person or over the phone- his laughter being the biggest satisfaction and approval I could receive from anyone. What I wouldn’t give to just hear his cackle of laughter, to hear him say “That’s AWESOME!” over the phone, just one last time. He was larger than life, one of those charismatic individuals that no one could speak ill of. Yesterday, I heard Tara describe Taylor perfectly- he was a ball of energy. Every time I was able to see him perform live someplace, Taylor’s energy never changed, his hair flying all over the place as his fingers moved across the neck of the guitar. He was that ball of energy on and off the stage, always flashing that impish smile wherever he went. In writing this speech, I researched eulogies on the internet, scouring for examples and ideas to make this speech memorable, to find the best quotation or passage that could encapsulate Taylor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any that could do him justice. All I can leave all of you with are my memories of him. A classmate who supported me through the worst times of my life. A musician who I believed was a guitar god. My greatest inspiration as a writer. One of my dearest friends. I’ll miss you, Tay. You were nothing short of fantastical.
Yesterday, a dear friend passed away. Taylor Nudo was an old friend- one you regret not talking to if you lose contact with. We had known each other for years now, ever since we were in sixth grade. He was a motherfucking guitarist, through and through. He had the energy and talent on the guitar to just send electricity through the room as he performed. Hair always shaggy that flew all over the place as he bounced his head about. And I’ll miss him. He always managed to bring a smile to my face. no matter what. The shock has yet to pass- i still think about when the last time I spoke to him, and I regret not talking to him before he died. Those “what if” moments fleeting through your head trying to think of what you had done wrong before his passing, and realizing the mistake to even try and delve into every scenario possible. One of my favorite memories was when I took him and two other friends to go see the Video Games Live concert at the Hollywood Bowl. As we were both lifelong gamers, the whole event was amazing for us to experience- one of those surreal moments. Taylor’s face lighting up every time he started to recognize a song was probably the best memories I had of him at that concert. He would become animated, pumping his fists into the air and screaming as the music came to a crescendo. When music from Final Fantasy came on, cosplayers dressed up as iconic characters started to come onstage- to everyone’s delight. Taylor had a different reaction as soon as two of the most -well, arguably, most iconic characters- came on stage- Cloud and Sephiroth, from Final Fantasy 7. He started screaming at them to fight, throwing his arms into the air again and demanding a battle between the two, even after the music had ended. “SHANK HIM, CLOUD! HE’S RIGHT NEXT TO YOU!” Taylor bellowed, demanding the cosplayers to fight. And we were close enough that they heard him, and I could see them shifting around nervously as he continued to yell out demands for a fight to occur. He was larger than life. Through and through. The penultimate moment of the night came at the very last song- the theme song to Halo. Everyone cheered for the song, but Taylor cheered for an entirely different reason- guitarist Steve Vai came onto the stage to play with this guitar that could only be described as science fiction- it had light up struts that seemed to glow as Vai played- almost elegantly so. As Vai played the guitar riff heard during the soundtrack, Taylor went batshit crazy. He lit up and cheered like no other as Vai played his riff. He was grinning ear to ear as Steve Vai (and the concert finished.) but Taylor turned to me and the party with an announcement. “I’m going to go steal Steve Vai’s guitar.” Everyone in the party went silent as we looked at taylor and realized- * he was stone dead serious*. “Taylor, no.” We all said, calmly. He seemed adamant to back down from his position, glancing at the guitar less than thirty feet away from us. I finally had the chance to bring him down. “Taylor. Look at you, you’re a skinny white guy. Those-” I motioned to the guards on either side of the stage “are big security guards. They’d have no trouble taking care of you.” Taylor finally gave up, slumping his shoulders. “Fiiineee”. For a good moment, I really did believe that I would have to speak to his family on why he rushed the stage at the Hollywood Bowl for just a guitar. “It wasn’t just a guitar- it was Steve Vai’s sci-fi guitar.” I would have to explain to them. I’m going to miss you. Take care, Taylor.
For the past two and a half years, I have been what I affectionally refer to as a “libraryman”, or better yet, a man who works at a library (the name stems from a Penny Arcade comic which i became rather fond of once I got the job). Okay, so I didn’t have a library science degree (something required to be a librarian) and my nametag title was “Library clerk”- but I wholeheartedly disagree. I was a librarymans through and through- having to work with the public directly at the front desk, answer questions, check out books, look up when movies were to be returned and answer the phone- all at the same time, usually. It was a job I loved, a job I was happy to do time and time again. A job that I seriously considered pursing for a career. I speak with all of this in the past tense, because as of today, I am no longer a librarymans. I was laid off of my job yesterday. While this didn’t come as a shock (as I had my own gut feeling this would have been happening sooner or later, as rumors spread about the possibility of such a thing occurring had been reverberating around the library for a month or two beforehand), I’m sad to lose this job. Part of me thought that I could have kept that job until I graduate from college, at least. It was a job where I had coworkers that I considered to be another family in itself. A family of nutjobs, to be honest, and I say this in the happiest way possible. The family supported one another through thick and thin. When someone was feeling a bit under the weather, others would come in to help them out. When someone was hungry, we’d share food to keep them sated until the end of the day. We all really do care for one another, and do our best to help out the patrons there. This was a group of (mostly) women that would be there to help patrons however they could. Hell, even the patrons were amazing. There were regulars that would come on a certain basis- bi-weekly, weekly, even daily- to chat with about how their lives were. There was a history professor who knew how my school project were coming along and asked me how they were coming along as he checked out his mystery (and history) books for the week. The father of two girls who always came up to talk shop about the latest Apple news. The ex-gangbanger who would check out the biggest stack of films he could laughing as i told him my usually obtuse and random opinions on the films. The teacher who always struggled to get books back from her reading-frienzied students. They were all regulars I can remember looking forward to seeing day in, and day out. It all felt right to me. I’m writing this as a sort of catharsis for letting my emotions out. When I was finally able to tell people about my impending last day, there were looks of shock, looks of anger as i realized that I was a part of the patron’s lives as they were of mine. And that made the shortening time I working there even harder. I had so many memories from working there- the good, the bad, and those that made the job all the better. I held on to working there for as long as possible. And now that that last day is passed, I feel as if a chapter of my life has closed. One I wish could have lasted longer, or not have been closed before I had a chance to end it myself, on my own terms. When I read a recent piece at a Chicago FOX subsidiary contesting the usefulness of libraries, I recoiled and balked in horror. In the din of the everyday craziness that is modern life, to have a place of knowledge and quiet serenity such as the library should be considered to be a welcome haven for many. There were families who couldn’t afford to go to Blockbuster to check out movies, so they’d come in every week for free rentals from the library. Regulars from all sorts of race and age who would come in to enjoy books, CDs, and DVDs. If you wanted to see how much of a melting pot Southern California really was, you could just sit at the library and watch the commotion such a quiet place brings. There wasn’t a day when we didn’t have lines of people checking out books or getting new library cards. Having someone getting angry at me for the littlest thing. If you had an excuse for why the books you checked out were late, chances are, I’d heard it already from someone else. And i enjoyed that. I truly did. (if that doesn’t show how crazy I already am, I don’t know what does) (by the way- the followup from the Library Commissioner from Chicago to that Fox reporter is the best reaction to such sensationalist piece of journalism. The library is still a wonderful place, and even more so a resource more should use.) Yeah, I’m incredibly sad about what has gone on and where I plan to go in the future, but I suppose it’s for the best. I plan to shoot some short films while I get ready to apply for transfer to art schools- have a portfolio readied for the fall. Madness, considering I have about a month and a half to do so. (Anyone want to help?) But I’ll miss being a librarymans. Through thick and thin, it was a job I cared about. I was a proud librarymans.
I usually find my friends to be helpful, kind people which I rely on time and time again. This is not one of those times, unfortunately. This is one of those stories that ends up on the opposite side of the spectrum. I arrived at my friend Primo’s house one Saturday evening quite hungry, as i had not eaten anything that day. As I am inclined to do time and time again, I raided his fridge for food I came across about two and a half squares of brownies cooked by his girlfriend, Michelle- moist and very appealing brownies to my quite hungry eyes. I tore off the note she left on the note and- to put it simply- I “went to town” on the brownies, eating the baked goods in a slovenly manner. I didn’t care, I was famished. Primo and another friend, Nick, watched with amusement in the kitchen as I ate the brownies. They waited for me to finish the brownies before laughing hysterically, leaving me quite puzzled as i started picking out small chunks of the brownies still in the inside of the pan. I questioned them on the reason of their laughter, so Primo showed me the note Michelle wrote. It read: THESE ARE “MAGICAL” BROWNIES! ENJOY! I froze in shock, looking to the obscene mount of brownies I ate, the pan hanging off of my fingers as my wrist went limp, eyes wide as I glanced back and forth between Primo and Nick in pure horror. Nick chortled and observed that, “Those brownies are going to hit you HARD”. To say I had a bit of a freak out is putting it midly. I tensed, waiting for the brownies to hit me, to really be stoned for the first time. Primo and Nick took extra care to observe me that night- even going as far as to have Primo instructing Nick to watch me in the car as he went to the ATM so I “don’t have a freakout”. I was tensing up a lot- sweating, clenching my fists and hyperventilating, waiting for (and I quote Primo on this) “the munchies to kick in”. We decided to go to In and Out Burger, a popular fast food joint for dinner. Primo and Nick continued to watch as i ordered another obscene amount of food to eat for the coming munchies. I sat there as cars went past us to pick up the food. My palms were sweaty, i was trying to calm myself the best I could. I was going to enter an altered state of mind I hadn’t been to before. Primo and Nick watched utterly amused, giggling. I stopped to look up to them and asked them what they were up to. They giggled and waited for a few minutes before they told me that the pot brownies were a lie. I ate regular brownies. And I thought I was high. No one at In and Out took a second glance as i started to choke Primo out. Goddamn you, placebo effect.
So no real news. But I’m oddly fond of this picture. Took it using Hipstamatic app for my iPhone. The little nuggets of images I turn up just with the iPhone’s pretty fantastic lens (as long as it gets good light) has been quite fun. The variety of apps for the camera alone has been worth it. Oh, and the games. Can’t forget the games. More to come later this week. I’m trying to aim to write in this a bit more.