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99 Days to Wed

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I’m a pretty singular person. Not in the sense of “oh look at me, I’m so great, there’s no one like me!” singular, but singular in the sense that I don’t like being in relationships. I like being single. Also in the sense that I used to work for Cingular. I was a singular Cingular person. Except I worked for them twice.

My point, readers, is that I like my own company. I’m a great conversationalist with myself. I could talk to myself all day. Sometimes I do. If you and I meet face to face, you will probably call me a good listener. Anyways, I’ve been fine with this arrangement for a few decades now. But the other day, my mom said something to me that changed everything. “What would happen” she asked, “if you were alone and a black widow bites you?”

(it’s this)

I can stomach the idea of a childless existence (prefer it, actually) and will gladly traverse into my twilight years alone if it means that I will always have the remote control, but this was an Achilles heel I had not considered before.

Some of you may have noticed, I’m a little scared of spiders. Actually, I know you’ve noticed because I have the gruesome stories, videos and pictures to prove it, you sadists. When I first started drawing about my arachnophobia, some doubters thought I could not conceive of 99 ways in which I was afraid of them. At least consider a different title, the doubters said. Leave yourself a back door. Sure, those doubters may have been in my head and this could have been one of those conversations with myself. What matters is that the doubters had a point.

Even if you revisit some themes.

30 plus comics in, I am running out of steam. Not because I am running out of ways to be afraid, but because I’m running out of ways to convey it in my chosen form. How do you draw a stick figure representation of a spider crawling in your mouth and down your throat and laying eggs in your stomach so that it’s million babies eat you slow from the inside out? Seriously. I’m asking.

Not that it matters, because I had a flash of inspiration. It is very, very easy to take horror movies of all shapes and sizes and drop a spider in as the villain.

Norman’s mother was a spider and you know it.

Why is it so easy? Because spiders are very very evil and they do in fact want to kill you. I know they do all sorts of awesome things like kill pests and other stuff I guess, but I’m sticking with my them or me mentality.

Which brings me back to the beginning. My circular, singular journey. You cannot remain vigilant when your enemy can seize you in your sleep. I now know I have to be married, post haste. All you have to do is promise to be by my side, always always always and protect me from any and all spiders in line of sight. For this, I will pledge my eternal love to you and perform any service you consider to be a spousely duty and in the bounds of legality, or at least ethics.

All applicants may send reply via any small animal antithetical to the presence of spiders or time travelling carrier pigeon, serious inquiries only please.

Matrimonially yours,

(the preceding article is dedicated to Vince who lovingly shared that he found a black widow in a space which I regularly visit… thanks for the inspiration?)

The Life of Riley and Calvinist Discipline

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It’s a defunct comic about a precocious young child, plagued by an adult world that doesn’t understand him. It’s about his wisecracking friend in a sea of inane suburban banality. It’s about searching out chinks in the armor of implacable authority.

I’m talking, of course, about the Boondocks.

Actually, I’m talking about Calvin and Hobbes.

Actually factually, I’m talking about both.

I was looking through some of my favorite old collections when I realized how deeply these two comics talked about the same issues from a similar but very different perspective. Calvin lives a life of sheltered indulgence he never really appreciates. Considering the amount of… well, criminal mischief he has perpetrated, his parents never really actually provide much in the way of punishment for him. Sure he gets yelled at a lot, but really he’s subjected to even less discipline than Bart Simpson.

I believe this comes from the ‘phoning it in’ section of the parenting book. I think the first caveman uttered it when his kid said he was too young to catch his own wildebeest. I got the sense in this strip that Calvin’s dad enjoyed the turnabout of handing off what his father handed off to him. I don’t know if this is universal to all fathers, but since it’s my dad’s birthday today, I will extend the benefit of the doubt and assume this really was something he told me For My Own Good.

Contrast this to the world of Huey Freeman. Huey, like Calvin, lives in the suburbs. Unlike Calvin, he was born in the city (Chicago, if you were wondering- you know, that war zone two steps away from military intervention [at least Fox news tells me so]) before relocating with his brother and grandfather. It’s not established where the boys’ parents are, but given Huey’s radicalism and Riley’s unabashed devotion to thug life, it’s a safe bet they’re nowhere good.

I don’t get the sense of helplessness from Huey’s grandfather that I get from Calvin’s dad. His boys get up to mischief. A lot of mischief. Though not, I would argue, the amount of criminal mischief that Calvin does. I mean, he accidentally stole his parents’ car. But granddad Robert is having none of it. He’ll fill those boys days with punishments and chores, not for any sense of discipline (if you ask him), but because sometimes a brother gotta watch his shows in peace. Lip of course does not equal peace.

Huey is not a boy who is going to protest at the unfairness of anything. Partially because he’s more clever than that, but mostly because he already knows this, and he’s probably come to that realization more honestly than by an early bedtime. But maybe it’s not fair to contrast Calvin to Huey. Calvin is six years old and Huey is a more worldly ten. Anyone who spends time around young kids can tell you there are a million years between six and ten. I don’t even mean that figuratively. Kids change time. Seriously, Einstein did a whole field of study on it. Google it.

A more just comparison might be made between Calvin and younger brother Riley. At eight years old, Riley has more of the exuberance and abandon that Calvin has. He hasn’t entered the cynical world of double digit life. While the biggest challenge of Calvin’s social life is Moe the bully and protecting his toys from Moe’s chubby fingers, Riley has the entire culture of toxic masculinity working against him. Calvin will do his best to disappear into the landscape. Riley will dominate it. Calvin is trying to escape the notice of a system that expects too much from him. Riley is trying to crush a system that expects too little. I think the difference is best exemplified in how they approach Santa Claus.

These are basically the same letter. Calvin writes his for therapeutic purposes and dares not send it for fear of offending the powers that be. Riley doesn’t consider not sending his for a second because he knows he is the powers that be. Different sides, same coin.

The sad irony of these strips is that Calvin probably turned out ok. My bet is that he squeaked through school to the relief of his ineffectual parents and made his way into college where he continued his criminal shenanigans where he was perpetually indulged with a boys will be boys attitude, As for Riley and Huey, I assume that Huey’s FBI file and Riley’s gangstalicious lifestyle led Grandpa to an earlyish grave. Huey calls Riley when he can at the supermax he ended up in, but it’s not as often as he would like because he travels from one undisclosed location to another while living under the anarchy street artist moniker ‘Wakanda’.

I love both of these strips and they inspired me to want to be able to communicate visually and concisely. Superficially, they may not have much in common but if I had a chance to re-christen them, I would call them White Privilege and Black Pride. I only hope that Huey and Calvin have crossed paths out there somewhere in after comics land, I think they would be friends.

Older than I used to be, and Now I’m Getting Older

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It was my birthday this week and as I pass further into the realm of not as young as I used to be towards no longer a spring chicken, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the nature of comedy. Because it’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy. Or so the saying goes. I don’t remember laughing a lot during Romeo and Juliet.

As a regular reader (I hope) of what I’m doing here, you may have noticed that I have the style of humor that I like to think of as classic. You can call it corny if you like. I love a good pun and I could never understand why Stephan Pastis felt compelled to put those self flagellating final panels in Pearls Before Swine where Rat felt the need to pulverize his author every time he felt the bounds of clever wit had been transgressed. But then, that’s probably why you’ve heard of Stephan Pastis and I’m uh… not in that league. Here’s a thought though: By having a character confront the author is it railing in the face of God? Am I so responsibility averse that I don’t use recurring characters for fear that they gain sentience and kill me in my sleep? That’s crazy. Of course not. Stop looking at me!

So… classic comedy. I am lucky (?) enough to have been raised pre reality television. If anything, I like to think that my general ennui/malaise towards life can be attributed to Punky Brewster, the Golden Girls and Cheers. Great as those characters were, the shows were not character driven. They put the situation in situation comedy. I thought when I grew up I would have all kinds of hilarious hijinks where I was mistaken for foreign dignitaries and business scions. Where I would have casual encounters with celebrities where I learned a great Life Lesson when we passed for thirty seconds in the hall. Where I faked my way into great jobs and made wonderfully anecdotal mistakes while fudging my way to competency.

Then reality tv came along. Sure, it was sort of there all along but it didn’t REALLY take off until I was already in college. Then we got to see survivors face their fear factor in the real world under the eyes of big brother. Of course, having to eat a pile of worms or run a footrace over a pile of craggy ankle beckoning rocks is about as likely for most of us as casual celebrity encounters. Despite that, reality tv became the new reality. Our relationships (to this old biddy) feel more complicated and dramatic than they used to be. Our conversations more rhetorical. That’s when I realized that somehow a funny thing had happened to us. Less funny haha than funny tragic (it’s tragic cos it’s true!). The more that we escape into fiction, the better we understand what is real. The more we tried to replicate (regulate?) reality, the more we hyperinflated those things that are fake. Art’s a funny thing, isn’t it? What happens when life imitates crap? Anyways, I think I’ll go infiltrate a strangers’ high school reunion. Time to put the wacky back in this whack job.

Of Nice and Zen

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Boy, that’s mean, isn’t it? “They say the world has lost it’s finesse,” said Andre Braugher in the underrated Bruce Paltrow classic (classic, I say!) Duets. Admittedly (much like Groundskeeper Willie’s stubborn mule that refused to walk in the mud), he had about seventeen bullets in him, so he may have had a point.

If you’re anything like me, (and I suspect millions of you are), you’ve found yourself at odds with the internet writ large once or twice over the past month. As a public service, Martin EaZee is proud to present A (not) Common Sense Guide to Talking to People That Are Not You. AKA the Words and Phrases That WIll Never Be Interpreted the Way You Want Them To.

1. but/however
You just said something that theoretically agrees with the Person Who is Not You. Comity has been achieved. You were so close! BUT… now you’re going to walk it all back and pretend you agree but say something that is probably the exact opposite. Why not just say what you mean?

2. to play devils advocate
“I don’t have a personal stake in this argument and I could just as easily look the other way, but I like to argue for fun and will drive you crazy with sophistry until we are no longer friends, if not blood enemies.” This is what a Person Who is Not You will hear as soon as you drag out that stale chestnut.

3. to be fair
This has never been used fairly. Ever.

4. not all _______
“I once heard about someone who didn’t have the experience you describe, so all incidents unlike what I know are made up for attention. WHY ARE YOU CRYING?!”

5. sorry
It’s not a comma. People Who Are Not You know when you mean it and when you don’t.

6. just saying
We know you’re just saying. You just said it. What you MEANT to say was “I just said something diminishing or offensive but you can’t be offended because it’s only words from out of my mouth.” You might not agree with the assessment, but that’s ok. It’s your right and I’m just saying.

7. How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
I am Iago. I will break up Desdemona and Othello and get ALL the monies. This probably won’t be something you ever say to someone literally, but wasn’t that Iago just such a tool? Don’t be like Iago.

By no means is this definitive or exhaustive. Exhausting maybe, if you have run across these too often. The moral of the story is that not everyone who seems nice is actually nice. The flipside of the moral is that you may be doing your best to be nice but maybe you’re not that good at it. The hole in the moral is that it’s totally pretentious of me to tell you how to think and feel and probably not very nice. The sampler of the moral… is not something I’m going to make.

If there are words that make your brain go splodey, I would love to know what they are. Maybe they drive me crazy too. Or maybe I use them and I didn’t realize I sound like a jerk.


Communications Breakdown

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Hello hello hello. You may have noticed a slight… interruption in my posting recently. I’m on vacation, but that’s not why. In full accordance with Murphy’s Law, I decided to let the charger for my working PC die while I was on the road. I thought the challenge would be… fun? A new charger is flying my way post haste from the good people in the Amazon or something like that.

In the meantime, I write here from fabulous not downtown not Las Vegas (Las Vegas adjacent… in line of sight from Vegas… just up the road from Vegas…. the Nevadan version of the suburbs) on my mothers’ adorb little chromebook. I assume the site will forgive me this slight infidelity in exchange for the attention paid it. I’ll have to figure out how to make up for having ignored it on Valentines Day. But hey, I got ignored on Valentines Day too. It’s a tough old world, site. Best be getting used to it.

I promise new art tonight. It’s a certified Martin Gold Promise. The kind of promise that if I break it, you get to bring it up for the next thirty years as proof of my untrustworthy nature. Except you won’t get to, because see… Martin… Gold… Promise. A less gold promise… more of a bronze promise… is a review of something good to read… soon… ish. Anyone have a favorite webcomic (inconceivable as it is to Martin, it need not be this one)? Sound off and maybe it will be my favorite too (even if it’s not this one). Sorry for the interruption and in the meantime, here is a bad ASCII picture of a spider.

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