I can’t win.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2013 by Johnny Broken

So I’ve been referring to my plans for Halloween recently. The general idea is to kill myself as close to Halloween as possible. I think it’s quaintly poetic for someone like me, as October is the only time of the year I actually like anymore. There’s that wondrous fall chill to the air, so it’s cold enough to wear a decent trenchcoat, but not so cold as to be unbearable. Leaves have fallen off the trees with enough wind blowing them around, leading to things just looking so… dead. And the days are blessedly shorter, which mean less blinding sunlight and more comforting darkness. It fits my usual mood quite well. Sure it’s a little melodramatic, but something in my life needs to have a little meaning.

And then the month caps off with Halloween. I rarely do anything fun on the 31st anymore anyway, but there’s still the potential, and that’s the important part. Not sure exactly what I would do, I mean yeah, of course I’d like to accomplish something related to the supernatural, but I’ll just keep that pipe dream to myself. And I love seeing… most… people in costume, and there’s my overall obsession with spirits and magic and the like. I enjoy seeing that stuff everywhere. And then the sun comes up on November 1st, and everything sucks hardcore until January 12th.

See, I’m not a family person in any way, shape or form. Haven’t been for a very long time. There’s a myriad of reasons, and other than my being a loner, most of them are so awkward I don’t even like the idea of talking about them here. So I hate Thanksgiving (also have that problem with eating), lost interest in Christmas (I have no one I WANT to buy gifts for) and will be generally miserable until after my birthday on January 11th. One of the annoying parts about having no real friends is that it makes celebratory occasions rather annoying.

Sidetracked for a bit there, sorry about that.

It’d be great if Halloween was on like a Friday or Saturday night this year, but sadly such is not the case. Be a lot easier to get out at late hours that way, which would be when I’d want to try something intended to be fatal. (And yeah, the weekend would also give me time to compensate if I chicken out for like the… 4th time.)

The plan is to drive my car over and off the road of some hills nearby. There’s a decent drop off said hills, maybe a quarter of a mile. Though I am completely guessing at the range. Regardless of an exact number, I figure flying through the air for that distance at 80 to 90 miles per hour while unsecured in a car, and then crashing to the ground below should be more than enough to kill me.

But the circumstances aren’t right just yet. Devil’s Night is on a Wednesday, and fuck that. Halloween itself falls on a Thursday, which is maddeningly close to my ideal situation, but this isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades. So I seem to be stuck with the weekend before, which… sucks. Feeling masochistic, I looked up next year’s calendar, and fuck you calendar we follow, whatever your name is. Of course Halloween is on a Friday NEXT YEAR. I can’t make it another year!


I want to die.

I’m falling apart. Can’t eat, process food, sleep, or sit down normally.

I am not a physically attractive person.

Women hate me.

I have a job that sucks and I’m almost always broke because of my family.

My living situation is so bad I don’t even want to talk about it to complete strangers I’m willing to tell my suicide plans to.

I hate my family

I do not want to be involved in my brother’s impending wedding.

I have no friends.

I’m a failure.


I’m A Failure: Episode 4 – But I don’t dance.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Johnny Broken

My first opportunity for musical shenanigans in a band was a high school thing with some friends. They wanted to follow in the footsteps of Oasis (who were uber popular at the time) and while I still don’t really care for the works of the Gallagher brothers (because of Wonderwall and the line “where were you while wwweeeeee were getting high?”) at the time I figured what the hell. They needed a singer, and I volunteered.

Why did I volunteer? Beyond for reasons I’ve already alluded to, hard to say, really. I mean I’m not like, uncomfortable with singing or anything. I used to do it all the time in class during elementary school, but never on my own in front of people and I never did it extracurricularly either. When I’m alone I do sing along to music I like all the time, though whether or not I’m any good is another story. If nothing else, I at least like to think I know who I can mimic and who’s definitely out of my league. (Generally the more talented the singer, the more they fall in the latter group.) Always been more of a fan of rasps, growls, and what I like to call “rhythmic talking” over clean singing anyway, which are also easier to do

I had a few practice sessions with the band, and a recording of an original song was even played for class. While no one ever said “Oh MY GAWD you suck!” no one was fawning over my singing either. The extent of what I was told by the band was that I was going too fast, as they weren’t trying to play so punky. I guess I was more heavily influenced by a local punk scene than Britpop at the time, but after about a month they stopped inviting me to practice. Fair enough.

Shortly after that, some friends from the aforementioned punk scene, who were also a lot more inclined to metal, wanted to form a cover band. Again, I volunteered based on my “experience” with the Britpop band. I think I realized this endeavor wasn’t going to last much longer like the night I said “Yeah, sure, I’ll give it a shot” though. The metalheads wanted to cover older Metallica and Megadeth, but for as much as I say I like metal, I’ve never really gotten into any early thrash metal. After some finagling Rammstein was added into the mix, but that… probably did me more harm than good. I probably could have pulled off mimicking Dave Mustaine or James Hetfield, even if I didn’t know the songs they wanted to cover. However, while I’m significantly more familiar with Rammstein, their singer, Till Lindemann, has this incredibly deep singing growl. Which in and of itself might have been manageable, but 98% of all Rammstein songs are also in German.

To put it lightly, I’m not so good at trying to sing baritone, never mind in German. I’ve been told I can pull off a fairly impressive low growl when speaking, but my default singing style seems to be a good bit higher. Nonetheless, I came to the conclusion that maaaybe singing wasn’t for me.

Now my “friend” #3, and I’m adding the quotes because as of my typing this I’m still a little unamused with the bastard, but anyway, he’s into music even more than me. But while I’ve had more of a thing for comic books and writing for the last 10 years, he’s taught himself guitar in that time.

Now even though I have little desire to hang out with #3 now, he and I are a lot alike. We’re both anti-social, misanthropic, geeky, gamery, and of above average intelligence. So we’re both kind of inept in our own ways when it comes to dealing with other people.

So with that in mind, #3 has wanted to either join or start a band for years. Though he’d argue it, he has just as much trouble as I do getting along with people, if not more so. So when he meets new people to practice with, either he gets sick of them or they get sick of him pretty quickly.

And the best part? Every couple months he’ll try talking me into starting a band with him. He tells me I have this great sense of rhythm and would be a natural bass player. So after about 16 years of joking that I’d learn bass given the chance, I finally broke down and bought a crappy bass to practice with. I just kinda did my own thing on the bass with some advice from him, but nothing complicated. Looked up some bass tabs, and researched the basics online. Practiced for a few weeks. Wrote some song lyrics. Tried to come up with some decent basslines. As time passed though, and it was just me and #3, I started noticing a few of his habits, which as far as I was concerned, explained why he wasn’t currently in a band.

The worst part is that for as much as I do think it’s over diagnosed, he has a major case of ADD. He can’t keep doing something repetitive for very long, and if he can help it, he’ll constantly try something new. Now think about that in context. A guy who has trouble doing the same thing over and over says he wants to play guitar in a band. Where one would, y’know, practice the same songs over and over and over.

He can’t do it. He claims he’s not good enough to play lead guitar in a band, and tries to play rhythm guitar, but he doesn’t have the attention span to play the same riffs over and over in a song. So I’m supposed to keep a beat for a guy that gets sick of hearing or playing the same riff after like, 2 minutes. Which is when he starts improvising. Which is when any semblance of any sort of song structure is completely thrown out the window.

And then we both came into some financial troubles, and to make a long story short, as far as I was concerned, the “side project” band was quickly becoming a waste of time. We shelved things for a couple months, and I eventually sold my crappy little bass.

To this day #3 still tells me I’d be a good bass player if I stuck to it. Then he started showing me how to use a drum machine for the cover band he’s in, but once I thought I got the hang of it, he seemingly dropped that completely and tried showing me how to use a sequencer. That was significantly more complicated, but shortly after I started trying to figure that thing out, I finally heard the cover band.


Wow. They were horrible. But the worst part is that #3 fully admitted (to me, anyway) that he hated the idea of the straight up cover band the others wanted to do, and never intended to learn the songs. So I at that point, I pretty much completely lost interest. I wasn’t going to go out of my way to practice for something that I knew he didn’t care about.

So where does that leave me? I… dunno. Like I’ve been saying, I enjoy music, and would like to see if I can actually manage to create it, but I’m strapped financially for the forseeable future, so buying a decent instrument is out of the question. And then there’s the matter of being as old as I am and basically starting from scratch, and nevermind how I still plan on not living to see 2014 anyway. It might be something that could turn things around for me, but I just don’t see how I can manage to even start anything in time before my plans for Halloween.


I’m A Failure: Episode 3 – It has a beat…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 21, 2013 by Johnny Broken

As you may have noticed, I’ve been trying to avoid giving an indication of how old I am. The idea here is to tell you about what I do, but not me specifically, if that makes any sense. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t talk about my musical influences and still be coy about when I grew up. And music is a big part of my life, or what’s left of it anyway, so there goes that mystery.

So back in the day when I was a wee lad, my options for the music I could listen to were limited to my father’s interests. He’s a huge fan of The Platters and Buddy Holly and their ilk, and he explicitly told me once that I could play that crazy MTV stuff after I gave older music (or basically his music) a chance first. I don’t remember hating his music, but at the time, the likes of Madonna (To this day, I still think of Material Girl as the first song I could freely listen to.) and Def Leppard and Bon Jovi had the allure of the forbidden to them. And if there’s anything about kids that you can count on, it’s that they’ll be drawn to something they’ve been denied.

With that in mind, you can probably blame 80’s pop and hair metal for my ingrained fondness for music that’s either electronic in some way, overly catchy, or yelled instead of sung. Granted hair metal was popular at the time, but one of my cousins is STILL a diehard fan of the genre, so her and my hipster brother are probably the most responsible for what I was exposed to. Once I was finally free to purse music on my own, I gravitated towards later Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Skid Row (Yeah yeah, chuckle it up now.) as well as whatever else came around that was melodic.

My cousin, how I grew up (middle class white kid) and where I grew up (central Pennsylvania) are also probably why I never really got that into rap and hip-hop when I was young. You could more than likely toss in that “Us versus Them” mentality of metal fans versus, well, everyone else too. The extent of my exposure to anything rap-y was the super popular stuff that made it on radio and TV. Call the likes of MC Hammer or Young MC what you will these days, but they succeeded in showing the masses that there was music that didn’t involve ridiculously teased hair, lipstick, and guitars.

And then one fateful birthday during my later elementary school years, my brother gave me his old copy of the Broken EP by Nine Inch Nails. For those new to the Evil Midnight Blog, that was around the time I started embracing misanthropy because of how my classmates treated me. So as an angry little kid brought up on hair metal, the first time I listened to some of Trent Reznor’s angriest work, I was hooked on this “industrial” music. It was a perfect blend of the guitar riffs, yelling, and techno that I already liked, and the lyrics were just as hate-filled and angst ridden as I was at the time.

Speaking of Nine Inch Nails, I still get a chuckle out of my 8th grade yearbook. When 95% of the class listed “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” as their favorite song, mine was “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails. Wish it was something real in this world full of you, indeed.

As the interwebs were still a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, however, discovering new music was difficult, to say the least. Skip ahead a few years to high school, and #6 and I were getting a ride from another friend’s brother. I noticed a bunch of tapes in the car I didn’t recognize, and I meekly mentioned that I was a big fan of Nine Inch Nails. Oddly enough, this produced something of a gleam in Big Brother’s eye, and he started sifting through his tapes.

“You like Nine Inch Nails, Huh? You ever heard of Ministry or KMFDM?”
“Uh. No.”
“Oh, check these out. You’ll love this.”

If you have any familiarity with any of these bands, you know exactly where this is going. If you don’t, Ministry basically created the industrial metal genre by being the first band to combine electronically generated dancey beats and heavy metal style guitar riffs, and KMFDM are arguably equally as influential, if a bit more on the rock and experimental end. Long story short, I’ve loved industrial music ever since.

So I finally had a “type” of music that I loved. Granted it’s hard to explain to someone who only knows mainstream music, and in recent years I’ve resorted to using “techno” as a catch-all term, but I’ll persevere. Of course industrial music is still my favorite genre, but I listen to a lot different kinds of music these days. Almost anything from Arkona to Busta Rhymes to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Dimmu Borgir to Elvis Presley to Front Line Assembly to Girls’ Generation to The Horrorpops to The Ink Spots to Job For a Cowboy to you get the idea.

In fact, it’d probably be easier and faster to mention what I don’t like. I’ve already covered why I hate classic rock and “hippy” music here. I also don’t like most genres where it’s intentional to NOT be rhythmic, though I can handle math metal once in a while. (If that last sentence didn’t make much sense, look up Intelligent Dance Music. It’s pretentious as fuck and extremely painful on my ears. Math Metal focuses on musicianship over being catchy.) Blindly religious music also tends to get on my nerves, as well as whiny country, or extremely braggy rap. My annoyance towards inane lyrics is also a large part of why I like foreign language music so much. I can either just ignore the words and enjoy the sound, or if I get too curious regarding what the song is about, pass off the lyrics as not translating well.

Now with this all mind, I hope I’ve established that I have a thing for music, and especially melodic, catchy stuff. In elementary school I did start taking trumpet lessons, but I always kinda sucked at that. Shifted to percussion during high school, but I was never really good at manually playing the drums either. The thing is, while I may have an ear for a beat, I’ve NEVER been good with numbers. As such, a full understanding of how music is actually made has been just beyond my grasp. I’ve never learned how to read music, but I never really sat down to try to figure it all out either. Which made learning an instrument in a school lesson format incredibly difficult, to say the least.

During high school I started joking that given the opportunity, I’d try to learn bass guitar. I mean I already looked like I was in a band, why not actually be in one? And then the opportunities to play in bands finally started presenting themselves, which I’ll talk about in the next IAF episode.


With friends like these

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by Johnny Broken

There’s something that’s been bugging me, and I just wanted to… bring it up here, I guess, while I’m still so annoyed by the whole thing.

First off, a bit of context to the situation.

I know you may find it just a wee bit hard to believe, but I don’t have that many friends in real life. In fact, for the better part of the last three years, I’ve counted two guys as the totality of my friends. And “friends” in this case are people who would contact me, to want to do something with me. Thing is, of those two guys, one of them, let’s call him #8, he moved out of state last month. And the other guy is #3.

And to put it lightly, #3 is a bit of an asshole. I mean we get along for the most part, and we have similar interests and all that, but he really, REALLY gets on my nerves sometimes. In Geek terms, he’s Chaotic Neutral, and I’m Lawful Evil. He’s also one of those kinds of people that absolutely refuses to admit that anything is ever his fault.

-He gets pulled over by the cops (repeatedly) for his car not being inspected, because the police are out to get him. (Not because he’s too damn lazy to get his car inspected in time.)
-He won’t get his car inspected or insured when he’s supposed to because the mechanic and insurance agency are out to screw him for his money.
-He was fired from his job because the boss is an incompetent moron out to screw him. (Not because #3 is a rude asshole who regularly misses work.)
-He’s broke because his part-time job didn’t file his paperwork properly AND the government is out to screw him, so he can’t get Unemployment any time soon. (Not because he’s too lazy and arrogant to just go out and get a fucking job.)

You get the idea, yeah? And he’d never admit it, but he’s a borderline ADD case. If he could help it, he’d constantly being trying something different every two minutes because he got bored with what he was just doing. (Me, I tend to get one track minded with something I like, causing me to stick with it for years.)

I don’t ever… well, I rarely ever bring up these counter points to his ramblings because I really don’t like arguing all that much. In fact, you really could say that by default, I really don’t act like a “typical” guy with people I think I get along with. I don’t do jocky type frat boy shit like pranks or constant teasing. (I got enough of that shit in school. I don’t consider myself to be that level of a jackass to inflict that on others.) I’m not a physical person, I don’t fight. Don’t get me wrong, I WILL make fun of someone if they annoy me, but I rarely do it just to be an asshole. #3, he doesn’t really follow this code. The bastard constantly rags on me for the stupidest shit like I’ve committed some grave sin.

So anyway. A couple months back #3, #8 and I started a writing project for a website. For the most part, we all agreed how to handle it, but #3 and I disagreed on what I still think is a fundamental part of what we were trying to accomplish. I think a blog based website, ideally speaking, should be updated with new content AT LEAST once a week. You could go two weeks between updates, but that’s pushing it.

#3 disagrees with this like I’m trying to drag him to a Southern Baptist church. His first explanation was that he thinks of a website like a concert. And even if you really like your favorite band, you don’t go see them play every week, because you’d get sick of them. It took a while, but I finally got it into his head that his comparison didn’t even work because of the amount of time involved in watching a band versus reading a column online.

Then he started rambling about his own online viewing habits.

It’s hard to explain, but he basically has OCD when it comes to reading… anything… online. He just skims articles through a reader and moves onto the next site, because if he stays on any one website for too long, the internet goblins will catch his scent and reach through the screen and grab him. Or something. He’s bitched to no end about how much he hates going to a site and seeing that they’ve posted multiple updates in a single day, because regardless of the content of the update, he thinks he needs to read them all before he can move on. So naturally, that applies to everyone else.


Skip ahead to the last update for our site. About a week after our last column was posted, I started a column the week before #8 was to move out of state. I understand the guy was moving and priorities and all, but it took him a full two weeks to add in his first part to the column. #3 added in his part in a few days, and I add my next part in twenty-four hours like I always do. #8 took around another week to add his next part, but #3 took a little over two weeks to add in his next part, explaining that he’s lost his primary internet access until further notice. (See the above about him and his current lack of money.) At this point, I’m thinking the incredibly loose schedule we were keeping was beyond fucked, so there was really no rush. I relayed as much to #8. Six days later, #3 has the gall to send me this email.

“Your internet still works right? Why aren’t you doing the blog during the week when I have computer access? If you’re done I can finish it up without you.”

This was my response.

“We’re around 4 weeks off any sort of schedule already anyway. As I said last week, a few days won’t make much difference at this point.”

And his following reply (which I received on 8/12) was the thing that’s pissed me off to no end.

“So, your solution to the problem of the progress being too slow for you is taking an extra long time to do your parts? Because then at least you are the problem?”

Are you fucking serious? I’m responsible for six days of over FOUR WEEKS and I’m the problem?! It’s my fucking fault that he obviously doesn’t give a shit about the project anymore because I know he’s spent hours typing up other shit for a game we’re playing AND he doesn’t even have a full time job now.

I usually hang out with #3 Friday nights, and we’ve been doing a gaming night with a couple other guys Saturday nights. #3 sent me one text after that email on Friday, and I never responded. (My initial plan was to just ditch everyone I knew for the entire weekend, but boredom won out over anger Saturday and I went along.) And I was half tempted to return the last two books I’ve borrowed from #3 so I could just stop talking to him until I cooled down. If I ever did.

(This isn’t the first time he’s pulled something that got me to stop talking to him for a lengthy period of time. That disaster involved a girl, but the worst part about that whole thing is that he has NO idea that I’m… still… angry that he “got” the girl I had been talking to. But that’s another story for another day.)

And since I don’t really talk to anyone else, I’m honestly asking here. Am I overreacting? Am I justified? These last few days I’ve seriously been contemplating trying to burn the desire for human companionship out of my system. Again. Why bother trying to be friendly when everyone hates me?


I’m A Failure: Episode 2 – Not good enough.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 14, 2013 by Johnny Broken

I kept at the artwork through high school with drawing pads that I carried around (and actually still have) and teach-yourself books and everything. But the art kind of fell by the wayside during my downward spiral into depression, suicide attempts, and getting suspended from school multiple times for the Satanism thing.

At the time I graduated high school, I was still overwhelmed with a mix of oh-my-gawd-what-am-I-going-to-do and oh-fuck-this, which doesn’t really motivate one to go to college classes or do any work. It also didn’t help that I went to a local “all purpose” college for art, when all I wanted to do was draw. As said college was pretty far from an art college, never mind one tailored to pencil based artwork, I had to take a lot of general art classes. “Computer Design” on a Mac. Collage 101, which was basically cutting and pasting construction paper and/or stuff from magazine. Woodshop, which wouldn’t have been that bad but the instructor assumed everyone had Woodshop in high school, and the Catholic high school I went to for 3 and a half years didn’t even have the class. There was a drawing class at the college, but again, it was “taught” by someone who assumed the class already knew how to draw. The “Instructor” just had the class draw different things. Which is what kills me, because I’m largely self taught.

I have a basic grasp of anatomy. I understand what goes where on human body, if I’m still a little sketchy (heh) on precise muscle location. I have a general understanding of how the human body moves. I have an idea of how perspective works. I can look at something non-human and re-create it in a drawing. But I’ve ALWAYS had trouble with the human head. I can never seem to get the proportions right, and while I can handle a face straight on, forget about trying to get a face to look right from any other angle. That’s what I need someone to give me pointers on. Which wasn’t happening at the excuse for a college I went to.

And speaking of that joke of a school, I’ll never forget an argument I had with one of the professors. “What’s the hardest part of the human body to draw?” She asked the class.

My hand shot up, “Easy!” says I “It’s the human face.”

“Wrong.” She retorts to my extreme confusion. “It’s the human hand. “ And then she started rambling on about how the flexibility of fingers makes it extremely difficult to draw the range of motion of a hand and fingers properly.

“B-but!” I interjected. “Everyone has the same kind of hands! But everyone has a different face, never mind all the emotions to portray!”

“No.” She countered. “Human hands are the hardest part of the human body to draw.”

And at that point, I pretty much lost my will to stay in that class, which was the last thing keeping me there. Seriously, bitch? You’re going to tell me your opinion on this is right and mine’s wrong?! Fuck this place and fuck you. Once you learn how to draw a hand, you’re good for any kind of person you’re ever going to draw. Every. Face. Is. Different.

I couldn’t take it anymore at that point. I hated the school. I lacked the self confidence to think I was any good. (Still do.) And I was about as suicidal as I am now. So any desire I had to keep at drawing just went out the window. I just stopped going to classes a few weeks later. Tried switching majors to philosophy, but that didn’t really work out either. Stopped going to classes altogether. Tried to make it look like I still was. I figured I was going to be dead soon enough anyway, why be miserable up until then? As you may have guessed, yeah, I’m still here. That whole “Why yes, of course I’m still going to college!” thing didn’t work out so well. Don’t really recommend trying that.

Cut to several years later, when I’m sitting on some comic book scripts that I wrote. The idea was to get others to do the artwork. Long story short, (which I’ll explain a little later in the I’m A Failure series) that… could have worked out better. I sat on the material for a long time until I finally decided, “Y’know what? Fuck it. I’ll finish drawing it myself!”

I got a page and a half into the early pencils, which reminded me that I was constantly thinking “Thank gawd I don’t have to draw this!” while I was writing the scripts. So, yeah, my comic is a bit beyond my ability to draw in a way that I’d be satisfied with the end product. It’d take me longer to get better at drawing to be able to properly draw the comic, than it would to actually draw the comic. And that was the end of that endeavor.

Skip ahead another couple years, when I had the opportunity to show my old sketchbooks to an established artist who works in the same building I do and teaches drawing on the side. I figured there was no harm in it, since, theoretically, I had like, a little talent. And hey, I was willing and kind of eager to take lessons from him. I started getting a little excited as I handed him the books. Then I began mentally preparing myself for all the comments and critiques and tips he’d offer up, and I even found myself getting a little giddy about getting back to the old board. Something diverted my attention at the time though, and I had to walk a few feet away for like a minute as he looked through my books. I came back, and the sketchbooks were already on my chair. That was fast, I thought. But the artist was sort of occupied, so I waited for him to start talking to me about my drawings.

And I waited.

Yeah… he never said anything. Which wouldn’t be so bad, but I still see the guy a couple times a week. To this day, he’s never said anything about my sketchbooks. I mean really, was my stuff so bad he couldn’t even be bothered to subtlety tell me I was beyond help? That debacle pretty much killed the remaining interest I had left in trying to pursue drawing in any kind of professional capacity.


I’m A Failure: Episode 1 – I Can Draw?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Johnny Broken

To say I’m at a crossroads in my life right now is a bit of an understatement. My current dayjob sucks and my prospects for something to replace it with aren’t much better. However, I do have this faint glimmer of hope that I’d enjoy an artistic career, but that’s easier said than done. I mean at this point I like to call myself an artist, mainly because I’ve tried a little of everything. I also like to think I have at least SOME ability in the fields I’ve been dabbling in, but for one reason or another, I just get burned in everything I try. Maybe things would work out better if picked something and stuck with it, I don’t know. But anyway, seems like as good a time as any for the sordid tale of my history with drawing.

A long, looong time ago, in an elementary school far away, a new student joined my fifth grade class. He was pretty good at drawing, but for whatever reason, one day I looked at a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles picture he was working on and decided “Y’know what? I can do that too.”

I don’t remember being particularly inclined to drawing any more than your average little kid prior to that, but from that day forth I set about practicing in my own little way. I don’t know if there’s a particular name for it, but what I would do is look at a picture and try to re-draw it freehand on another sheet of paper, but maybe make it bigger or smaller or unintentionally shift an arm a few degrees in one direction or whatever. Whether or not I was any good at this, or if that’s something worth being good at I can no longer say, but I kept at it.

Several years worth of doodles and sketches later, I got noticed for my art for the first time. At the Catholic elementary school I went to, there was some class project and while I can’t remember what it was for, I can remember being nominated to draw the class picture for it. Again, I don’t remember if it was my idea, or I was told to draw a cross on a hill with a cloth draped over it, but I do remember my initial giddiness fading when I discovered I had to use pastels to color the thing. I’d never really used them at the time, but I guess even back then, I still preferred linework over coloring something.

The cross turned out all right, and it was framed and put up on the wall for the rest of the year. And yeah, I was proud of it.

I kept at drawing after that, mainly monsters and superheroes and cartoon characters. Entered some local convention art contests, never won anything though. Don’t remember anything else of note until high school, when I went out of my way to make sure I had the all purpose art class, which lead to one of the fondest memories of my life.

One day the teacher said we were going to use charcoal for the days project. (Now if you’re not familiar with artisticy charcoal, at the time it was literally a chunk of slightly refined charcoal in the vague shape of a fat piece of chalk. And messy as hell. I don’t know if the stuff’s changed since then.) The project in question was a drawing, which I was happy about, even if I didn’t particularly like charcoal. And then she revealed it was going to be a portrait. Ooh, I thought, this could be bad. Then the teacher told us we would all be drawing the same portrait of one of the students in the class. And as luck would have it, the most attractive girl in the class was picked to be the model.

Yeah. Hot girl. Schoolgirl outfit. And she was going to be sitting still in a cute pose. And I was supposed to draw that?

For once, life was good.

So I planted myself at what I thought was a good angle and went to work. I did notice that everyone else in the class seemed to scatter to the worst possible viewpoints, but to hell with them. I was going to enjoy this. I finished the drawing by the end of the class and handed mine in with everyone else. I wasn’t paying attention to what everyone else had done, but I did notice that the model girl was eagerly checking out the drawings. And by the time she got to mine, some of her friends were standing around her.

And I waited.

Now I’m possibly elaborating a bit here (this was a long time ago) but basically, when she saw my drawing of her, her eyes lit up, she gasped, grabbed the drawing and turned around to show her friends, “Oh! Look!” she squealed like a… well… you know. “John Broken drew my portrait!” (No, she didn’t say my pen name back then, but you get the idea, yeah?) To my surprise, the grin never left her face while she showed the portrait to her friends. Of course I was smiling too, I never had anyone brag about something I did for them before, artistic or otherwise.

(While I’m editing this it occurs to me that you might be thinking the fond memory here was getting to ogle a hot schoolgirl for like 20 minutes without getting in trouble. That was nice, don’t get me wrong, but that wasn’t the highlight of the day as far as I’m concerned. The best part of the day was hearing the hot girl brag about the picture I drew. I’m pretty sure that was the first time in my life I ever got that level of praise from someone I wasn’t related to for something I did.)

Save for a good grade and a fond memory, nothing else worthwhile came of that drawing. But hey, I was proud of myself for once, so I’m not complaining.

Episode 2 next week!

On a fiery cloud in a field of war

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 31, 2013 by Johnny Broken

I wish I could say what it was that sparked my interest in the afterlife. I know it wasn’t anything simple like the death of a relative, because to be honest, when I was young I barely knew the bulk of my relatives that died.

“So Aunt… who?”
“Your Aunt Matilda. The last time you saw her was probably when you were 6.”
“She lived out of state. But she’s your father’s brother’s second…”
*my mind starts to wander to the last cartoon I watched*
“…so the funeral is tomorrow, okay?”
“Yeah. Sure.”

And I can guarantee you a lot of my family couldn’t (and still probably can’t) tell the difference between disappointment over having to go to these sorts of things versus disappointment that someone actually died. So no, it wasn’t thoughts of what my dearly departed relatives were up to.

I can say though that I’ve been interested in mythology for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure I got hooked on Greek mythology first, so it might have been a fascination with Hades or even Olympus that started my wondering about what happens when you die. And somewhat related to that note, I did go to a Catholic elementary school, so all the talk of a heaven filled with billowing clouds and angels strumming golden harps contrasted with the junior version of Dante’s Inferno might have something to do with it.

I’m also fairly certain some of the blame can be placed on Hollywood. I can’t remember anything specific older than Beetle Juice, but I’ve always been drawn to movies and cartoons and stories about ghosts and the “other side” and the like. I guess you could say it’s the idealized representations of “life” as a free spirit that draw my interest mixed with so many different possible outcomes. That why I like shows like Supernatural (more on that in a few paragraphs), and part of why Dead Like Me never clicked with me. Hot damn that show was depressing. Life sucks and being dead is just as inane? Ew.

And I realize that it may seem that I’m focused on Western concepts versus things like reincarnation or ascension to a higher plane, but I really do mean to be all-inclusive here. I guess it’s the essentially endless possibilities for what could happen when you die that I find so intriguing. Yeah, it’s possible that once you cease functioning, you’re done and there isn’t anything else, but that’s… boring. Oblivion doesn’t leave much room for, well, anything, so while I’m not discounting it as a possibility, it’s kind of moot to ponder. “I wonder what it’s like to not exist anymore” seems kind of dead end. (No pun intended.) Reincarnation is interesting, but as I understand it, you don’t know, or you’re not supposed to know, that you’ve been reincarnated.

So that narrows down where my interest lies in all this. It’s being dead and knowing that you used to be alive that I find so… enticing. The best way that I can explain it is a sense of having stepped into a new existence to the point of no return while knowing that your old life is still there, just without you. Make of that what you will, I’m sure there’s a metaphor for what I think of my own life in there somewhere.

That aside, let’s run with the idea of eternal paradise a bit.

First off, there’s that whole “eternal” thing. Now granted time is a unit of measurement that we invented, but you can at least think of when things will start and end. High school. College. A marriage. Your child growing up. A vacation that you’re excited about and look forward to. A business meeting that you’re dreading. A visit with your relatives that’s going so badly that time seems to have slowed to a crawl. Or a date that seems to be going so well you wish it wouldn’t end. And, ultimately, you know that once you hit your 60’s, and 70’s, you’re not much longer for the world. (Barring some unforeseen scientific advancement in our lifetimes, but I digress.) So that’s a couple examples of things that you can think about to measure the passage of time. Now just try to imagine that you no longer have any ending point.

Would you be able to continue the things you experience into eternity? Not that I know from experience (or likely ever will) but there’s that punchline about marriage that you love your spouse, and want to spend the rest of your life with them. But you like cornflakes too. Do you really want to have cornflakes for breakfast every day for the rest of your life?

And then there’s the whole paradise thing. Which is kind of funny to think about because one man’s heaven is another man’s hell. Some cultures believe(d) the ideal way to spend eternity was in a neverending battlefield. Some say that merely getting to be in the presence of “god” (in the same room? Zipcode? Plane of existence? I was never that clear on how that worked.) is such a warm and fuzzy feeling that it’s all you need for eternal bliss. Some want(ed) to spend eternity in an unending banquet filled with your family and friends. Some prefer getting to do… whatever… in a big open field.

And getting back to that whole Catholic thing, I was lead to believe I’d get to spend eternity in a white robe chilling out on clouds in the sky. Uh… yay? Which reminds me of another thing I don’t understand about the idea of heaven. You’re not supposed to be overly indulgent in life. There are pleasures that tempt you, obviously, but you’re supposed to control yourself in regards to them. So the concept of heaven is that it’s a reward for all your hard work in life. Okay, so far, so good. What I don’t get is that some folks seem to interpret their heavenly reward as an eternal life full of the pleasures they limited themselves to when they were alive.

Uhh… what?

So you spend your life in moderation in order to get an eternal life filled with your own personal harem of hot women (or men) or all the cigars you could want or your favorite food or, well, whatever it is you love. I hope you see what I’m getting at here. It doesn’t make sense to me to live your life one way so that you can spend your eternal life the opposite way.

Then you have eternal torment.

Somewhere along the line I got it stuck in my head that there’s room for advancement in hell, if you do it right. (And this was well before Supernatural, honest!) Not just in the sense of easing your suffering with the possibility of actually getting out of there. I mean advancing in the ranks of Hell’s legions. Surely if the beings responsible for punishing evil are evil themselves, there must be level of “evil” that they look favorably upon? And yeah, that appeals to me.

And finally (for now, anyway), there’s what you’re going to look like for the rest of your life. Of course you might not care once you’re finally there since you’ve, like, ascended or something. Or you might be naked and know it. You might end up in rags. You might end up in billowy white robes. Or, and this is the part that gets me, you might have to spend eternity looking like you did on the day you died. That’s part of why my eventual suicide involves so much planning.

Yeah, I’m a bit obsessed with how I look. And when you have as many physical defects as I do, you pay a lot of attention to your appearance. (Never mind growing fond of the reaction one gets to dressing a certain way.) I have strict guidelines for how I dress depending on what I plan on doing that day, and usually, the more importance I place on the occasion, the gothier I go. And even if it doesn’t do me any good looking the way I want to while I’m alive, maybe, well, I don’t know, really. Maybe demons like the militaristicish gothy steampunk aesthetic. Which, in theory, might get me some bonus points or something. But if nothing else, at least I’ll look cool when I’m dead.