Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true
** probably true

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sticky Issues: "A Threat Too Far"

It's been a long time since this first Sticky Issue, and I decided to do a remake, but with a bigger budget and better special effects in honor of TT's impending jail sentence.

Click on pic, then click on 'all sizes' to see it in all its monochromatic wonder.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I am smart.


You can tell by the hat. That's why I'm gonna put together a book of all the decent Sticky Issues cartoons and sell it and stuff.

I'd like to conduct an informal poll on whether anyone would actually BUY such a book first, so if you don't mind, leave a comment telling me whether you'd shell out your hard-earned cash to see never-before-seen episodes of Ninja Joe and other stickiness.

Thanks!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

When you go to the flickr meetup...


ryan dozing off
Originally uploaded by Coppertane.
you meet people who can actually take pictures (unlike yours truly). Coppertane RAWKS.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sticky Issues: Time for a Tiger

Too small? Can't see? Click on pic, then click on 'all sizes'. But please do so apolitically.

And dear Tiger PR sugar daddy/momma? Have I told you lately that I love you?





Friday, April 21, 2006

Sticky Issues: The Podcast!

Too small? Can't see? Click on pic, then click on all sizes. 'Cuz yer mama said so.

This one's dedicated to Miyagi and Brown.




Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sticky Issues: "The Package"

Too small? Can't see? Click on pic, then click on 'all sizes'. That should satisfy your package!



A blue hippo and other likely things



Found this image in one of MachineBoy's books -- "Good-bye Mommy" to be precise. (Illustrations by David Melton, illustration copyright 1977, there, that should get the blue hippo lawyers off my back.)

Other likely things:

Um... wait, I'll think of something. Gimme a minute. No, sorry, nothing's coming to me. I just really really like this picture. God knows why. I think it would be an excellent business logo. Maybe for a jazz bar. Or a weight-loss center. Or a recording studio. In any case, yeah, enjoy the blue hippo while I go to my motorcycle lesson.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sticky Issues: (NKF) "Reunited"

Too small? Can't see? Click on pic, then select 'all sizes'. That should get you paroled.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The NKF Rogue's Gallery - Redux

Durai check.
Yong check.
Loo check.

(hmmm... arrests coming just before elections. Coinkidink?)

Too small? Can't see? Click on the pic, then select 'All Sizes'. That should see justice served.

Monday, April 17, 2006

An Unpopular Opinion

An Unpopular Opinion

No-one who knows me would ever accuse me of being conservative, or right wing. On my list of favorite things, I rank George Bush just below genital herpes; I rank George Bush with genital herpes just above winning the lottery.

Am I a liberal? Sort-of. I believe in freedom of speech and the right to privacy. I believe in freedom of religion for the religious, and freedom from religion for the non-religious. I believe a woman has the right to an abortion up to but not beyond the time the little bugger in her womb has a recognizably human face (I know, terribly non-scientific. Sue me.) If she can't be arsed to get one before then, let her suffer through labor and give the little tyke up for adoption. I believe that a person's sexual orientation is their own damned business. Why the hell should governments get involved in what two consenting adults do to/with each other in the privacy of their own bedroom/shower/custom dungeon with fur-lined handcuffs? You can also insert the 'freedom from religion' opinion here.

I also believe that, sometimes, war is better than the alternative.

"Hey," I hear you shout to your significant other, "MercerMachine thinks war is better than peace!" No, smartass, that's not what I mean.

I'm talking about Iran. I'm talking about the fact that Iran is blithely pushing the world toward the brink of World War III. President Ahmadinejad is, quite frankly, a rabid dog bent on making an armed confrontation happen. Why? Because he wants the Muslim world to rise up and destroy Israel and, if possible, as much of the west as possible. He wants an Islamic fundamentalist state to spread across the globe. And he doesn't give a rat's ass how many millions die in the process.

I prefer that didn't happen.

And because Bush is a dumbfuck, he's tied down American forces in a pointless war in Iraq when they would be far more useful in dismantling Iran, which has or sooner or later will have REAL weapons of mass destruction. Good job, George.

But really, there are a couple of things to be learned from Iraq and applied to Iran: America sucks at democracy building, and it is the master of an outdated mode of combat. Sure we can beat any army in the field if they're stupid enough to go toe to toe with us. But guess what? Modern warfare isn't about brigades and artillery barrages anymore; it's not about tank divisions. You want to see the face of modern warfare? You can't, my friend, because it's covered with a cloth. Modern warfare, sad to say, is about bombs hidden in the sand by the side of the road, bombs strapped to the scrawny chests of fanatics willing to blow up women and children (I was going to say non-combatants, but there's no such thing anymore) and guys bicycling their way to work at the petrol station. If you think Iraq is bad, Iran would be a hundred times worse.

The good news is, we don't have to change Iran's political or social structure. We just have to make sure they don't build nuclear weapons. And that will take force to do. There is no way to reason with the likes of Ahmadinejad. Sanctions won't work. Political discourse won't work. Conventional warfare will work, but the cure will be at least as bad as the disease.

The question remains: What will work? Quite frankly, I think the best solution (and by no means is it good) are targeted airstrikes. Take away Iraq's ability to create nuclear weapons. Clinton set the precedent in Kosovo.

Yes, people will die, including innocent women and children and the guy on the bike on his way to his crap job at the petrol station. But far fewer than would die if there was an invasion.  Far fewer civilians, and far fewer soldiers.

"But wait!" I hear some of you cry. "That will just make the terrorists even more prone to commit terrorist acts!"

Really? Do you really think so? Do you really think they need an excuse? As E@L said the other night at dinner (I think he was quoting somebody else), it's like a door opened up somewhere to the 14th Century, and all these fanatics are pouring out—but with modern weaponry. I'd rather their arsenal didn't include nuclear weapons. To be fair, I'd rather Bush's arsenal didn't either.

And I'll give you another unpopular opinion: I hate these fanatics with every fiber of my being. Why? Because I believe in freedom of speech and the right to privacy. I believe in freedom of religion for the religious, and freedom from religion for the non-religious. I believe a woman has the right to an abortion. I believe that a person's sexual orientation is their own damned business.

And they really, really don't.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The bag

"Why do you carry that thing around?" she asks for probably the hundredth time. "What have you got in there? Bricks?"

It's my shoulder bag she's referring to. Yes, it's heavy (heavy enough that at the end of a day carrying it and MachineBoy around, I can feel the muscles in my shoulder and neck protesting. I stretch and stretch, roll my head this way and that, but only sleep will relieve it, and tomorrow I will carry it off to work, and to lunch, and home, and wherever we go in the afternoon on my half-Saturday with the two people in Singapore that I love.

And no, I never adequately explain to her why I take all the junk inside virtually everywhere I (we) go. Inside, if you cared to look, you'd find a massive notebook/sketchbook, a pencil case stuffed with all manner of pens, pencils, erasers, correction tape, scissors, etc. You'd find a book or two, currently whatever A-Level literature I'm plowing through and whatever genre fiction I read whenever I've had enough of literature. You'd find scraps of notes, my little digital camera, and odds and ends from my last outing with the son (pacifier chain, food-crusty bib, whatever). But the important thing is the notebook.

"Why do you carry that thing around? You hate your back issit?"

I carry it around because it is a constant reminder that I am a writer. I carry it everywhere because it reminds me that I am supposed to be observing, and writing. Because it would be damned easy to slip into the rut of everyday life. To forget what, at the core, I hold myself accountable for being. It would be supremely easy for me to let myself slip into the rhythm of work home parenthood. It's a solitary business that's a shitload of work, has taken me years to become proficient at, and has damn few rewards besides the rare sliver of self-satisfaction.

Let me tell you a secret: Nobody wants you to write.

It's true. I don't care what they say. Your mom doesn't want you to write. Your significant other doesn't want you to write. Your boss doesn't want you to write, nor do your friends, nor your children, nor do editors or publishers. Other writers don't want you to write. Comprende? NOBODY wants you to write, ok? They don't. Those who love you resent the time you spend away from them, mentally if not physically, even if they never tell you. They want you, not your words.

Those who you send your words off to? They want to see another submission like they want to develop leukemia. You're just a literary telemarketer, sucking up time they could be spending working on proven talent (aka profitable writers), or working on their own novel. And sometimes, if they've had an especially bad day, or your submission is especially craptacular, they'll let you know in no uncertain terms that you'd be better off doing something (anything) else besides writing.

The only person who wants you to write, my friend, is a person who you will most likely never meet. The one I call Dear Reader. Stephen King has millions of Dear Readers; I have no idea how many I have, but it can't be more than, say, 50. On a good day, 50. And while I care about Dear Reader, I don't write for D.R.: I write because I am a writer.

And that's why I 'carry bricks' around in my gray Eastpack shoulder bag and give myself a pretty-much constant crick in the neck. Because I have a vocation, and that vocation requires certain tools. I need to be ready at all times, and I need the solid, slightly uncomfortable weight of my bag to remind me what it is I am supposed to be doing with my life besides loving my wife and son. Without that constant weight, I am afraid I might well forget about it. And if I do that, a big piece of me will be lost. I would be diminished.

I don't mind failing; but not trying is not acceptable.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Why cats don't (bother to) blog


The other day, master cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen (Dry Bones) somehow took a wrong turn down a dark alley and ended up at SomethingSticky. He was kind enough not to comment on my pathetic attempts at cartooning, but he did wonder if I could write up something along the lines of Why dogs don't blog, but for cats.

He says:

After a life as a confirmed dog lover, I'm now living with ... A CAT!! She's a bossy little thing and lately I've been fantasizing about what her constant meowing is all about. Any ideas?

This one's easy :)

Why Cats Don't (bother to) Blog

Zzz... yawn, stretch, contemplate imponderables. Stretch.

SLAVE! come closer, so I can rid myself of excess hair on your conveniently placed trouser leg! Rightie, leftie, rightie, leftie, that should do it. Did I SAY you could pet me? The nerve. Walk off in huff, find clean laundry to curl up on top of. Zzz.

SLAVE! Use your cunningly-placed opposable thumb to scratch under my chin. Yes. Yess. Now, go get me some of those tasty pre-pressed snacks you keep on top of the refrigerator, thinking I don't know about and/or can't reach. Feed me from the PALM of your hand, dolt. Must I explain everything? Ah, well. You aren't the brightest spark, but nevermind. Stick with me and you'll be allright. Why don't you sit down there on the sofa? That's it. I'll just curl up here. You keep scratching... keep... thassit...zzz.

SLAVE! I require a substantial meal. Preferably something fishy. Be a good human and open one of those can things. And milk, definitely milk. Unless we have cream? Ah, well. Oh, and slave, be a good human and use those digits of yours to write my blog entry.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Mangoes, pecans and memory

The other day I remembered (and what a ghastly word, to re-member, to puzzle back together the dead flesh of memory) waking up one morning when I was seven or so to the sound of the old pecan tree outside my window being shaken violently, the sound of the pecans falling on the roof above my head and rolling down to the ground outside (there were no gutters on that rented house on Avondale).

San Antonio is full of pecan trees, you see, or at least the South Side is. Big trees even in my youth, with broadish, long green leaves shaped not unlike some Neolithic man's flint scraper. You could tell the season by the life cycle of the pecans. Spring, and yellow pollen was everywhere, utterly covering the windshields of those unwary enough to park beneath their generous shade. Summertime, and the webworms would attack, binding up groups of leaves in roughly head-sized bundles. The cicadas' sang from them then, a rising and falling note that went on and on, from dawn till dusk.

Late summer/early autumn, and you could see the nuts begin to take shape, covered in a tough green skin. By the beginning of winter, that thick skin would split, and pecans would begin to fall.

It's strange to me now to have the exotic all around—mangoes, papaya, rambutan, coconut, lychee, durian—and not have a single pecan available that wasn't packaged and shipped thousands of miles.

Anyway, they were illegal immigrants. Of that I have little doubt. They didn't speak a word of English that I heard that morning, and when they talked softly amongst themselves they used a Spanish that even to my young ears was differently paced and inflected from the everyday Spanish I heard in the neighborhood.

There were two men, a woman, and a girl a couple of years older than me. The younger man climbed the tall pecan tree and shook various limbs at the older man's direction, occasionally swiping down a stubborn bunch with his hand. The woman and the girl collected the nuts in a big mesh plastic bag and a black plastic bag, according to some system that wasn't apparent to me (then or now). Nowadays it's all mechanized, of course; there's a sort of modified cherry picker that comes along, grabs the tree by the throat so to speak, and shakes the shit out of it. Reminds me of some poor kid getting shaken down for his lunch money. They only use that in the pecan groves; the stately old neighborhood pecans are too big to be subjected to such indignities, I guess.

Anyway, I sat on the back steps in my pj's and gawked. They cast the occasional sidelong glance at me, but continued shaking and gathering. I don't remember exactly what I was thinking. It was unprecedented, strangers in our back yard, taking our pecans. I remember they seemed in good spirits, as if this wasn't work, or at least not onerous work.

My mom eventually came out and took a long, silent look.

"Can they do that?" I asked.

After a little while, Mom shrugged. "We aren't going to pick 'em," was all she finally said. The she shooed me in for breakfast.

Thinking back on it, I suspect that as a single mother with three kids, she was balancing their trespass with her understanding of how hard it could be to make ends meet.

#

This memory was brought up out of the depths the other day at work. I glanced out the big front windows and saw two men and a little girl picking mangoes from the trees that grow between the public car park and Upper East Coast Road. The younger guy was up in the tree with a knife. The older guy had a mop handle, but he rarely used it. Instead, he would catch the mangoes the other guy tossed down, and roll them into discrete piles, presumably by ripeness. The little girl would very seriously collect them one by one and put them in the appropriate basket of their bicycles.

The funny thing is, they also seemed in good spirits, though they were not oblivious to the stares given them by passers-by. And it seemed to me that, be it mangoes or pecans, there is something slightly illicit in taking what is free to be taken, something vaguely embarrassing—but not so much that it dampens your good mood at getting something as good as a mango or a pecan for nothing more than a little effort.

It makes me want to climb a tree, and shake, and see what drops.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Three Singaporeans prove themselves to be, uh, not the sharpest crayons in the box


Well I have to say that part of me really, really wishes these guys had actually succeeded in completing their quest. The other half thinks they really, really need to stop watching so many karate flicks. Besides, one Mr Miyagi is dead, and the other lives right here in Singapore, not Japan.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Freshmen

We were always hungry then
and food would not sustain us
We turned to cigarettes and cheap beer
shallow philosophy and cheap literary allusions
and music in a thousand shades of sameness

We turned to desultory lovemaking
and mimicked elation and depression
We cried vacant tears when things ground to a halt
We were learning how to be ourselves

And still, participating, I stood apart;
Most of us were learning who we were
I was finding out who I had been.