Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Seven Deadly Drunks.

Here's an article that I wrote at work today for the magazine, which may or may not drop on Friday, possibly depending on whether or not I decide to pull an all-nighter this week. It should probably be noted that, copy-editing wise, this probably isn't the final version. Anyway, pulling from my wretched wealth of experiences as a bar patron...


Whether you're out for a night downtown or just out on a leisurely stroll to the neighborhood bar for a drink or ten, the faces might not always be familiar, but the archetypes typically are. Here is a list of seven types of people that we've all met in bars.

The Meathead.

Aliases: Biff, Jocko, Cro-Magnon, Beef Supreme, Captain Destructo.

Drinks: Light Beer, Jager.

Likes: Yelling, headlocks, punching holes in the drywall in the men's room, throwing friends into tables, throwing friends into barstools, throwing friends at other people.

Dislikes: Swatting glass shards out of own face, Getting thrown out, thinking.

M/O: Fun to observe from a distance, meatheads almost always travel in packs and can usually be identified within minutes of their arrival by the sound of glass shattering on the ground. The alpha male is typically the most clever of the group, maintaining dominance over the collective by shifting blame to compatriots upon notice by the bar staff. Meatheads aren't known for conversational skills and become easily frightened and confused when approached, especially by bouncers. Remember the guy last week who decided that it was a good idea to take a swing at a cop? You get the picture.

The Party Girl.

Aliases: Glitterati, Squinty McBlinderson, The Flash, The Walking Wardrobe Malfunction.

Drinks: Lemon Drops, Tequila Shots...actually, the Party Girl is about as picky with drinks as most goats are with food.

Likes: Dancing on dance floor, dancing on chairs, dancing on barstools, dancing on bar, guys that treat girls like pets.

Dislikes: Buzzkills, blacking out, waking up with mystery bruises.

M/O: While the Party Girl rarely travels to bars alone, it isn't uncommon to find one dancing by herself, sometimes to low volume music, if any. Give caution to proximity, as a strong increase in localized gravity usually follows Party Girls wherever they go. Party Girls are not above making out with others of their kind to impress you. Conversations are typically one-sided, and if you leave their line of sight, they probably won't remember who you are, regardless of how many shots you did together, how many times you helped picked her up off of the floor, or how much of her last drink ended up getting mixed with her stomach acid and somehow got on your leg. Guys, beware...Party Girls make surprisingly formidable stalkers when they aren't at the bar.

The Loner.

Aliases: Second Stool on the Left, Bob Seger SuperFan, Resident Evil, Kaiser Permanente.

Drinks: Wild Turkey, PBR.

Likes: Mildly offensive trucker hats, Cowboy Killers (Marlboro Reds), NASCAR, darkness.

Dislikes: People messing with America, getting up off of his barstool, the wife kicking him out of his own %$#& house.

M/O: The Loner knows that people go to bars to hang out with friends or meet new people, and he doesn't care, because he hates people and he thinks you're stupid. The Loner typically inhabits sports and/or dive bars, and, presumably, gains some form of photosynthetic sustenance from the light emanating from neon bar signs. Whether the Loner is drinking before or after work is a time-tested mystery, if he works at all. Maintaining the same basic function in the bar that Black Holes have in the universe, The Loner has a tendency to warp or completely absorb all forms of fun, and much care should be taken to avoid his event horizon.

The Hipster.

Aliases: Captain Emo, Johnny Thriftstore, Skellington, French Cuff, PDSD (Post-Dodgeball Stress Disorder).

Drinks: Coffee drinks, if that.

Likes: Clove cigarettes, plastic eyeglasses, uncomfortable sweaters, women's jeans, leaving bar early to go home and write in diary about going to bar.

Dislikes: Movies you like, music you like, getting thrown like a javelin by the herd of guffawing Meathead mouth-breathers in the corner.

M/O: The Hipster is cooler than you, and isn't afraid to make sure that you know that, even if it means eavesdropping on your conversation just to tell you that he doesn't like what you're talking about. Fortunately, if you actually pay attention to current alterna-music and/or independent film, hipsters can be fun to argue with as long as you don't cross the line that hurts their feelings; unfortunately, if hipsters get to like you, you'll end up knowing more about their innermost thoughts and feelings than you wanted to, probably during a poetry/photography exhibition you got roped into attending. Be very careful when buying hipsters alcohol, unless you don't mind consoling them about their cheating ex-girlfriends from six years ago.

The Viper.

Aliases: Sub-Zero, Medusa, Dr. Claw, High Maintenance.

Drinks: Cosmopolitans, whatever's expensive.

Likes: Open hostility, tanning.

Dislikes: People, other people.

M/O: Eternally prodding, Vipers can usually be seen making rounds in search of her next victim. Stock moves include accepting a ten-dollar drink from some poor sap before returning to her pack of harpies to rip on him, or pretending to walk to the bathroom with the intention of pointing out an article of clothing on someone that they think is outdated by at least a few weeks. Vipers usually don't speak to anyone besides other Vipers and Frat-Guy Metrosexuals (nominated, not listed). Vipers are usually attractive, but should be regarded with caution, as they have sharp and/or abrasive edges.

The Train Wreck.

Aliases: Mr. Hyde, The Smashtronaut, Bomberman, The Escapist, The Time Traveler.

Drinks: Omnivorous. Will drink the Wounded Soldiers left on the table by strangers.

Likes: Vomiting, gravity.

Dislikes: Following advice, public intox laws, public urination laws, indecent exposure laws, etc.

M/O: A lot of us have friends that function in a complete state of alcohol-free normalcy during the week, only to have the peaceful coexistence of brain and liver loudly interrupted by the induction of a little Stupid Juice. The Train Wreck has limits, they just can't recognize those limits within a hundred miles. It should be noted that any attempts to put the Train Wreck to sleep when you get home from the bar will eventually end in an escape attempt. A mixture of this archetype and alcohol will result in all of your neighbors' potted plants ending up on your front porch at 3:30 in the morning last night, but will not help him explain it to them when they find him sleeping in your driveway the next morning.

The Liar.

Aliases: The Chameleon, The Politician, Jerkstore, El Chacho Grande.

Drinks: What are you drinking, Honey?

Likes: Talking to women about a fictionalized awesome version of himself.

Dislikes: People that talk to him long enough to call him out for contradicting himself. For non-Party Girls, this takes around fifteen minutes.

M/O: It isn't that The Liar lies...we all typically do that to some extent. When you cut yourself shaving (face or legs), and then you told everyone at work that you were attacked by the League of Shadows on the way to your car, or when you told your nephew that he has to take a nap because that's when when you do your levitation exercises, or when you tell a stranger that your job title is "Russian Cosmonaut" but that you're a part-time celebrity body double, that's lying, or more specifically, that's fabricating. The Liar, however, doesn't tell creative sarcastic stories, in fact, they're usually pretty boring. The problem is that a) they're purposefully believable and b) that purpose is luring unsuspecting girls back to The Liar Lair.

...and that's pretty much it. For reference, I think I probably fit somewhere between Hipster and Meathead.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Today, one of the interns at work was looking at an article for one of our magazines, whose name was something like "Radha Amir," or something to that effect. When he said, "Man, that's a weird name," I didn't correct him on his ignorance of people that speak languages other than English. Instead, I was immediately reminded of an experience from my first season in the glamorous world of amusement park caricature artistry, when I was fifteen. This is also a story that I relayed to pretty much every rookie I ever trained, in relation to my rule that you shouldn't write names on sketches unless someone specifically asks you to.

Drawing identical twins sucks, and it sucks even more for first-year artists. It might not seem so, but there are several factors that can contribute to your eventual failure. First, when you're a rookie caricature artist, and you're just trying to hold it together so your sketches don't look like the mutants from Total Recall, you're basically tasked with drawing the exact same sketch twice in a row, like it's some sort of test. Then, there's always the backseat drawer aspect of the parent(s) watching, and assuming that you're some sort of hack because you don't see the tiny facial anomaly that differs one twin from the next, like an ear freckle, or a slight cowlick on the back of the head, or a half-inch rat-tail, or some other such nonsense. Most times, the kids are going to look exactly alike to you, because, for some reason, parents of twins have the somewhat sadistic tendency to make sure their kids dress exactly alike and sport the same hairstyle. This actually also applies to kids that are pretty close in age; my brother and I are thirteen months apart, and my parents fell susceptible to the same temptation. This is pretty hilarious, as I've always been about five or six inches taller than my brother, and, given my impressive head size, it looked like my parents were constantly traveling with a tiny ventriloquist act.

So, yeah. Anybody remember Tomax and Xamot from G.I. Joe? No? They were twins that could be easily differentiated, as they parted their hair on different sides and one had a hideous facial scar. Caricature artists are never that lucky, but I digress. The first time I drew a set of twins, as soon as I collected myself mentally and did some breathing exercises, I fumbled my way through drawing these poor kids, and, thankfully, their mother didn't know enough about facial anatomy to hate my sketch. "Oh, I LOVE it! Could you write their names on it?"

"Uh, sure. What are their names?

"Orongello and LaMongello."

Keep in mind that the spelling is approximated at this point. Now, I try not to judge people for the ridiculous things they do to their kids, because they have every right to raise their children in any logic-confounding way as they see fit. This includes names. My name, James William, is really about as conservative as you can get, so I feel like I'm on one end of a spectrum, the other end being, say, "LaDainian" or "Anfernee". When my family lived in Tennessee, we lived next door to religious zealots who did their daughter the service of naming her "Thankful". Thankful used to come over and try to play with my brother and I, and trust me, trying to mesh Dukes of Hazzard action figures and David and Goliath figures into a coherent plot line isn't all that easy for first-graders. "Oh, no! Goliath and Boss Hogg are trying on top of the General Lee back to their base in...uh...Damascus. Um, Uncle Jesse and Jesus be praised...?"

We've all been in situations of immediate stupefaction when someone tells us something, and we wait for that person to tell us that they're kidding, and when that moment never comes, we realize that we're just staring at each other. This was not an exception for me. But believe me, this isn't over. I, of course, had to ask how to spell the names so I could write them onto this jumbled collection of irreconcilable facial features that I had just drawn. The mother spelled out the first:


If you have friends that have kids, and then they tell you that they've named their firstborn Ethel or Gertrude or Morris, and you tell them it's a good idea, chances are it's because you don't really care what the hell their kids' names are, or at least you don't care enough to tell them that it sounds ridiculous. We like our friends enough, that if we feel like their signature on that birth certificate is a huge joke, we don't tell them. This isn't even close to being an issue for me anymore.

At that moment, from then on out, when my friends tell me what they've named their kids and it sounds ridiculous, my immediate mental response is, "Hey, at least they didn't name their kids after FUCKING JELL-O." That's right, this woman had named these poor little bastards Orangejello and Lemonjello, word for word, letter for letter. 

I didn't react. I put the sketch in a mat, threw it in a bag, rang her up, and sent her on her Jell-O loving way. Even if I wanted to, I don't think there is a constructive way to tell someone that they probably shouldn't name their kids after food. Can you imagine trying to get a job later in life?

HR Person: "Thank you so much for coming in, but I think we're going to go in a different direction."

Orangejello: "I...I can understand that, but, as you can see from my resume, I'm already vastly overqualified for this position."

HR Person: "I've looked at your resume. I actually passed your resume around to every person in this office, and then I Googled you to make sure you actually exist. Even then, I thought I was being pranked by Ron down in Accounting."

Orangejello: "I don't see how that makes me a poor candidate for this job."

HR Person: "It doesn't. But the CEO had the entire office cram into Security right now to watch me tell you--here, wave at the camera--'I'm sorry, but you don't fit the mold.' Good luck, Jell-O."

So, the next time someone tells you that they've named their kid Oglethorpe, just think of poor Orangejello and Lemonjello. Sure, names are just names. But some are also novelty desserts. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ouroboros and Severe Beatings.

I did an illustration at work today for an article about cutting down on consumption and conserving more, and it looks exactly like this:'s the first one I've had the chance to do in a couple of months. Also, nothing of particular note has occurred since my last post, except OSU getting their asses handed to them last night. Actually, I could go on to write about the academic requirements of the SEC and how the only reason I could understand JaMarcus Russell in the halftime interview is because I lived in a remote part of southern Tennessee in first grade, and that equated to taking a crash course in backwoods English dialects while still learning a first language. So, I can speak two languages, it's just that they're both English. I can also speak about thirty words of German from three years of class in high school.

Yeah...I'm just angry at LSU, so I'm picking on Southerners for talking funny, which is pretty far below the belt, as, if my outgoing phone message is any indication, I sound like a newscaster with a severe sinus infection.

We'll get'em next year, Buckeyes.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Horse vs. Board of Education.

It occurred to me, while rereading my most recent post about being screwed out of money by the Arby's Corporation, that even though I felt justified in my anger at the time, 1) I might have overreacted and 2) I really hope that no one who happens to read this thinks I hate mentally retarded people. Bobby the Mouth-Breathing Idiot Man-Child was not retarded, at least by conventional or legal standards, as far as I could tell. My anger wasn't wasn't necessarily directed at his cognitive capacity, as much as directed at his lack of motivation to function on the same plane of conscious existence as the people surrounding him. Bobby might have had some brain functionality issues, but I don't think it was anything that didn't have to do with smoking a bowl fifteen minutes beforehand behind the dumpster. Let me put it this way; if you're interacting with someone, and you're thinking about who would play them in a movie (am I the only one who does that?), and the most obvious choice is Kevin Federline, then it's probably going to set you off a little bit when they do something stupid that results in you losing a small amount of money. Hmm. Obviously, I haven't come to terms with my anger yet.

But, I also wanted to mention something I thought of when I was driving to work today. Every morning, I drive over the Ohio River on my way to work in Florence, Kentucky, and today I looked a little more closely at the obligatory "Welcome to This Different State Than the One You Were Just In" sign. It's changed since I moved here in 2003, and it now reads "Unbridled Spirit," or something to that effect, with a gestural sketch of a horse on it. This represents the state very well, as Kentucky is known for its horses. This would have bothered me a lot less if I didn't remember what the sign used to say, which was "Welcome to Kentucky, The State Where Education Pays."

Now, when I think of Kentucky's relationship with horses, I don't think of herds of mustangs galloping across the countryside unchecked, because I'm pretty sure that they don't. No, Kentucky breeds horses for riding and, usually, racing. And people don't go to horse races to witness the majesty of muscular odd-toed ungulates and the diminutive men that ride them, they go to horse races to bet on horses. So, essentially, at one point, Kentucky officials had the following meeting:

KY PR Guy 1: "You know, we really need to change our slogan."

KY PR Guy 2: "Why?"

KY PR Guy 1: "Because we're focusing on education, and no one really cares about education, especially tourists."

KY PR Guy 2: "I guess that makes sense...I mean, did you see that Bobby kid that works at Arby's? I asked him for some extra ketchup and I think he had an aneurysm."

KY PR Guy 1: "Yeah, that kid even existing means any pride in our public school system is a laughable atrocity. So let's go back to the drawing board. What can we push that's as honorable as education?"

KY PR Guy 2: " about gambling?"

KY PR Guy 1: "Done, and...done."

KY Jelly: "Hey, don't I even get a say in this?"

KY PR Guy 2: "Jelly, we've gone over this. Your time to shine will be soon...but now is not the time."

So, yeah. I can see it being a little one-sided. Actually, if Gambling vs. Education had a boxing equivalent, it would be Mike Tyson vs. A Shoebox Full of Evander Holyfield's Ears. I don't think it's the best idea, but I guess I understand it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Fast Food and the Apocalypse.

I don't intend the title to mean that I hate fast food. In fact, I love fast food. Actually, I'll eat pretty much anything but garbage, and even then it's an issue of how long it has been since said food became garbage, and even then, you would need to give me a pretty clear definition of "garbage" while I eat whatever the substance in question was. Maybe it's my antiestablishment streak that makes me want to eat whatever my girlfriend, television personalities, or the Surgeon General tells me not to. It's not an issue of respect, I just habitually wish to do the opposite of what people tell me in a lot of situations, for no apparent reason. In fact, my respect for the Surgeon General is pretty much the only thing keeping me from eating cigarettes instead of smoking them.
But I have a special place in my heart, or at least the stomach part of my heart, for food that is really, really, inedibly bad for you. If someone would have cast me as an additional control test subject in Super Size Me, I may have gained thirty pounds and had serious heart problems at the end of the month, but I would have been perfectly happy about ingesting a month's worth of McGoodness, plus all of the White Castles I ate to take a break from McDonald's food. So you can imagine how hard it is for me to a) not eat fast food for lunch almost at all anymore and b) eat healthier, smaller portions of food so I can drop a few pounds before my 30th, specifically in my face, where I seem to gain most of my weight. Most of the photographs taken of me over the last year or so make me look like I have a bocce ball lodged in my thyroid gland, but I'm straying from the topic.
So I've been trying to be good. Given, however, that it takes me forty-five minutes to hit up a plane of functioning consciousness after I get out of bed in the morning, I routinely forget to pack my lunch, which causes me to slap myself in the forehead when I finally do wake up while driving on the highway. Yesterday was one of those days, so I went to eat lunch at Arby's with my buddy Joe from work. This probably wasn't the wisest decision, because it's one thing if you avoid eating fast food, but it's another, far more perverse thing to go to a fast food establishment to order a salad, which, for analogy's sake, is the closest thing I can think of to walking up to a bar and ordering gasoline. The only reason that these places offer salad is so they don't get sued when someone holds them responsible for the wall damage caused to their houses when they have to be forklifted out of bed. So, I was kind of on edge, just on general principle, when I walked into Arby's.
And then I placed my order with the cashier, who we'll refer to as "Bobby." Actually, let's go ahead and make that "Bobby the Mouth-Breathing Idiot Man-Child." Let me force an interlude here by saying that I don't think that grooming at work is a big deal, and, despite my willingness to observe uniform code during my time in the service industry, I really don't think that the clothing you work in affects your work ethic enough to make a significant impact. But, for some reason, that thing where dudes turn their baseball caps slightly to the side just bothers the shit out of me. I have no idea why; it just always has, since people started doing it, what, twenty years ago? Maybe it all stems from my learning how to draw regular baseball caps when I was fifteen, and when I started at GL someone wore their cap to the side, and that threw me a huge curveball. Actually, that kind of sounds like me; I've overreacted to far less. 
Anyhow, Bobby the Mouth-Breathing Idiot Man-Child was rocking out the Arby's hat tilt, his eyes half closed and his greasy blonde crustache glistening under the fluorescent lights. Even though BMBIMC's hat bothered me for a split-second, I really wasn't trying to vengefully test his mental dexterity when I ordered a salad combo. Despite this, I recognized the expression on his face when he looked down at the cash register as one of fear and confusion. It was the same expression on my face when I was taking my AP Biology test my senior year of high school, and realized that I had no business taking that test when I looked at the first question and couldn't name ten ways in which water acted as a solvent.

As BMBIMC's brain began a self-destruct sequence in front of me, it occurred to me that maybe I was being unnecessarily harsh and judgmental when I decided that the man before me was a total waste of gray matter.  It's not like a prerequisite for jockeying the register at Arby's should be the ability to discuss thermodynamics with Stephen Hawking. Luckily, he still had the cognitive ability to call in the cavalry, namely his shift manager, who acknowledged his request by rolling her eyes so far back into her head that I'm pretty sure I saw an optic nerve or two. She came over to the register, pressed two buttons, and left. BMBIMC, grateful for the intervention, haphazardly hit a couple more buttons, and gave me my total. "Uh...that'll be $8.31."

I can barely do simple addition or subtraction in my head, but even I can immediately surmise that Kentucky sales tax on $5.95 probably isn't over two dollars, and if it is, I hope it's going to their public schools in order to save kids like the poor bastard drooling all over the cash register in front of me. I didn't want to be overcharged. "Um, I think you entered it in wrong. It's supposed to be $5.95 plus tax." The same look of confused terror crept over Bobby's face, but immediately disappeared to make room for smug self-certainty. "That's what...what she told me to do."

"Yeah, I saw her come over, but my total's wrong. That's like two dollars more than it's supposed to be." Bobby reacted by looking down at the register, looking at me, looking back down at the register, and staring at the drive-thru window where his manager was. "Uhh..."

I assessed the situation, and decided that even though I didn't want to reward Arby's Inc. an extra two dollars for hiring the gum sticking to the bottom of the shoe of humanity, there was a line behind me, and I wasn't about to lose my shit, or, for that matter, anger the hungry truckers standing behind me over such a minimal amount of money. So I told him not to worry about it, and I grabbed my salad and walked away.

As I sat down and ate my salad, which tasted like over-ripe tomatoes and defeat, I thought about how the two dollars didn't matter to me as much as the realization that we are all doomed. Melodrama notwithstanding, think about it. I mean, two or three hundred years ago, you either needed to be mentally strong or physically strong to survive, and now it's way too easy to get past the system that God set in place and Charles Darwin discovered. This principle, of course, would also have killed me off with the rest of the genetic misfires, given my horrific eyesight and lack of corrective lenses, but I digress. It's a sad day when you see that a lot of people aren't even trying anymore. We, the human race, are not going down in a blaze of glory. We aren't going to witness the three years of harsh Norse winters before the End of All Things. We aren't going to be around for the Last Resurrection before Judgment. We will be at Arby's, staring blankly at a cash register trying to comprehend the near impossibility of pressing three consecutive buttons in order to make the drawer open, hopefully without overcharging some embittered jerk who just wants to eat his McHealth Food in peace. 

Also, if anyone from the Arby's corporation ever reads this, better dumb down your register training a little bit.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Figure Drawing.

Some friends of mine hire up a figure drawing model every week or two, so I went this time around. It was good to get back into something that actually makes me feel like I might have been involved in fine arts at some point in time. 

I haven't drawn a figure from life since college, and that was longer ago than I'd usually like to admit, but tonight did remind me of one of the more formative studio experiences I had my freshman year of school, and since I started this blogging stuff today in order to document stories from the recent past as well as ten years ago, I thought it was appropriate. I will say, in advance, that the following story, while not as intensely offensive as other anecdotes that I've seen online, is not for the faint of heart, so if you happen to be offended by male figure models, nudity, creepiness, and the watery thing that happens in your mouth when you think you might throw up, then I suggest you stop reading this. Still here? Good, I thought so.

Ah, the mid-to-late 1990's. Oasis was, though making a strong attempt, failing at being the self-proclaimed greatest band on earth, techno music was unknowingly somehow paving the way for the shitty pop music that the kids are listening to these days, and a lot of things didn't quite make sense. I, as a freshman art major, for example, looked like this (taken by my roomate for a Drawing II self-portrait assignment):
...which seemed like a good idea at the time. Ridiculous ponytails notwithstanding, classes seemed to be going really well heading into second semester, and my grades were the best they would be until halfway through my junior year, when I started going to studio before the bars. 

Understand that I didn't really think that figure drawing would be that big of a deal. I'd seen a minimal amount of naked people by the time I was nineteen, and I had spent the last four summers drawing insulting sketches of wasted redneck troglodytes, so spending some time drawing naked people didn't really seem like it would be all that challenging. That was until I witnessed my first nude model experience. The following is a true account. I can't stress that enough.

I don't remember his name (nor would I write it here if I did), but he walked into the room in a zipped-up one-piece speed suit, which stayed on for about fifteen seconds after he entered. My first thought was that even if I was going to be naked in front of a group of people for three hours, I think I'd afford them the courtesy, or, for that matter, respect, to keep my speed suit on while I was stretching. The model apparently had no such compunctions, and let me say that watching a pear-shaped naked dude do lunges four feet away from my easel wasn't really what I had envisioned an hour beforehand when I woke up. And so the students set up in a circle around the model, and class began.

For those of you that haven't taken figure drawing, gesture poses are short, fifteen to thirty second poses to loosen you up and get a feeling for the space and proportions of your model. This is much more difficult to do when the model is pulling off poses from what I think was a combination of an After-School Special about epileptic seizures and Madonna's Like A Prayer video. There were a few awkward glances between classmates, but we sojourned on in an uncomfortable silence, with the exception of some classical music in the background that seemed inappropriate for various reasons. The long poses followed.

Understand that drawing the human form is a lot like drawing a still-life, in that you're analyzing a combination of light patterns and shapes in relation to each other and committing it to paper, which is probably why I didn't notice that our model, in a reclining position, was in a dead stare at my friend Stephanie for at least ten to fifteen minutes before she left the room on the verge of tears. She didn't leave the room because he was staring at her; she left the room because he was staring at her and obviously reverting back and forth between flaccidity and a pretty mean semi. It should be noted that the speed between reversions made it seem like the guy was waving at her, so I don't really blame her. Also, watching a guy headbanging his wang to Mozart made it a lot harder for the class to continue sketching without making uncomfortable grunts and throat-clearing noises. 

Our professor, a very astute and attentive one, either wasn't paying attention to ErectionFest '97 going on in the center of the room as she made her way around us, or she didn't know what she could say in broken Korean to stop this from happening. I mean, what can you say? "Uh, sir...aaah, if you could just do us a favor and think about baseball...or, uh...your grandmother or something, we', we'd really appreciate it." A couple more girls and one guy fell casualty to the multiple awakenings of Mighty Kong and had to leave the room. Finally, our instructor, to our relief, gave the kill sign on the pose and told him to switch up.

And this, and let me stress here that I can't even make this stuff up, is when he laid down flat on his back and grabbed his ankles. Thankfully, his head was toward me, but remember here that the class was arranged in a circle around this guy. I know that, at that point, we had a semester of drawing still-life under our collective belts that taught us a lot about the importance of objectivity in drawing anything, including the human form. I know this. But when you're in class at eleven o'clock in the a.m., things take a turn for the worse, and you're staring straight up someone's asshole, it's going to affect you personally. Some of my compatriots couldn't look away until it was far too late. One of the kids from my dorm gagged, and the guy next to him put his hand over his eyes and looked down. Everyone on that side of the room immediately used their drawing boards as shields and disappeared behind them; the model might as well have been firing arrows out of his starfish. A tall girl was the first to take action; she stood up holding her drawing board in front of her face and slowly walked to my side of the room, and the mass exodus followed. Half the class quietly got up, boards to their faces, and made their way over, where they remained for the rest of the class. The kid from my dorm was later quoted as saying, "That That was looking into the sun. That shit is burned into my retinas forever. Gimme another cigarette, man."

So, yes, there were other figure drawing adventures in the following semesters. There was the first-timer who started crying a little bit, there was the girl whose boobs were bigger than her head, and not in a good way. But I'll always remember my first. Thank you, creepy guy who proudly walked out of that room in his speed suit. Thank you for teaching me that there will never be a situation that I can absolutely trust not to be awkward ever again.


New Year's Resolutions '08: New Year's Resolutions '07 Part II: The Reckoning

I realized after checking in on my myspace profile blog (after the obligatory measure of deleting several friend requests from what appear to be strippers who happen to be infatuated with me; hey, why wouldn't they be?) that, as I was fumbling my way through 2007, I really only hit up about 25% of my New Year's resolutions. While this is, statistically, a vast improvement on previous years (up 25% from 2006!), I am admittedly disappointed in myself. It's not like I'm coming up with resolutions that are really all that difficult or life-altering. Of course, I'm also not coming up with resolutions that are pretty easy to adhere to, e.g. 2003's "Try not to make any more 'late' beer runs to Mount Adams UDF at 5:30 in the morning when they open and everyone else in there is getting coffee on their way to work," or even 1999's "Don't do any shots after pounding three 40 oz. bottles of Mickey's, and if you do, make sure you have a 'buddy' with you so you don't wake up unable to find your shirt or your shoes in a house at the other end of Oxford from where you live. Jackass."

Regardless, there are three particular resolutions that I did not adhere to last year; I did keep one promise to myself and found myself gainful employment outside of the amusement park industry. Which is good, because that was the big one. The others were, and I list them now as resolutions for the second year running:

1. Quit Smoking Cigarettes, Unless Drinking.

Yeah, it's pretty safe to say that the smoking has gone on for way too long, regardless of cutting down, starting up, quitting, chaining, etc. This has actually been the tenth year that I've been smoking cigarettes on a semi-regular basis, and it's been about the fourth or fifth year that I've admitted to myself that I'm actually addicted to nicotine. I think quitting smoking was more of a difficult issue when I was working a job that regularly made me want to douse myself in gasoline and light myself on fire in protest of the unintentionally idiotic American public and the mostly intentionally ignorant teenage employees I had to deal with on a regular basis. Smoking cigarettes, at that point, was a welcome alternative to the incarceration resulting from beating a minor to death with a mop handle for falling asleep in his car and coming back two hours late from break. And, cigarettes costing what they do these days, I'd probably be better off health-wise rolling up dollar bills and smoking those instead. Actually, that would probably make me way less addicted to nicotine and way more addicted to cocaine resin. 

2. Don't Start Drinking Constantly Because of Resolution #1.

My hilarious lack of self-discipline makes it surprisingly necessary to list this as a follow-up. Found that one out the hard way back in '04.

3. Somehow Miraculously Get Back In Shape While Abiding #1 and #2.

I know I'm a far cry from becoming one of those people that gets to go on television because they have to be forklifted out of their house. But, believe it or not, ten years ago I weighed about thirty pounds less than I do now, and I just lost ten pounds in November. I know that my head weighing 90 pounds is going to offset the scale a bit, but seriously.

And now for the newer resolutions: 

4. Pay More Attention to World News, Even If It Infuriates You. And It Will.

If anybody reading this remembers when our government had enough respect for the American public to at least cover its tracks when it did something drastically unethical, they'll remember it being awesome. And sure, those were also the days when the news wasn't dominated by suicide, matricide, patricide, infanticide, parricide, genocide, and American Idol recaps, but even then, you wouldn't usually catch me paying attention to current events. It's not that I don't think that local news is important; I do. It's just that I find it hard to believe that dressing dogs up in reindeer costumes is more important than the semi-annual church bombings in Kenya because they happen to be in an election year (thanks, NPR). There is a whole world out there and even if the world seems to be on a surprisingly fast track to Ragnarok, I should probably be paying attention, if for no other reason to not look stupid when other people are talking about current events, such as fire and brimstone raining down outside while I'm indoors playing Wii bowling.

5. Try Not to Alienate Your Friends And Loved Ones With Your Multiple Neuroses Arising From Turning Thirty This Year.

Self explanatory.

And, I suppose that's all I'll charge myself with for now. Coming up next year: New Year's Resolutions '09: New Year's Resolutions '07 Part Three: Now It's Payback.