Mr Hyper's got some splainin' to do!
...aaaand we're back!
OK, that's not gonna work this time. Let's drop the glib facade a notch or three and get honest here. Let's just say that I needed to prioritize aspects of my life, and to be frank, blogging had become a chore, a drudge, a burden that I didn't feel like carrying for a while. Also, I became tempted to make some political commentary about the upcoming election at that time (and a certain Governor from Alaska who shall remain nameless), and while my leanings in that arena are pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain, I had promised myself when I started this many years ago that I would avoid the always contentious issues of religion and politics. I get myself in enough bother without stirring things up with the two major hot-button topics of the planet. The only issues we're covering here are back issues. Well, perhaps that's a simplification, but you get my drift.
While we've been apart (and yes, i've missed you too!) a whole mess of stuff has gone down, and I have chosen those words with surgical precision. Yes it's a mess, and yes things have gone down, most notably the world economy. There are some positive aspects though, and i'm sure you know what I mean. Bernie's goin' to the slammer, my pessimism about how the election would turn out as unwarranted and gas prices are WAAAY down. As David Byrne once said, "There's good points, and bad points, but it all works out, some times I have a little freak-out..." In fact I may be having one right now. As may you.
The grim fact is that the world is changing rapidly and forever. Where things are going... well, who can say? Not me, not today. 2009 will be about survival, make or break. As Hunter S. Thompson said, "When the going gets weird, the weird get going". Change is opportunity, and radical change would raise the ceiling of those opportunities to almost unlimited. The old saw about "The more things change, the more they stay the same" may just not hold true any more. I think so, but beyond that i'm at a loss, today anyway.
But what about your genial host? While I took a time out from blogging I have been busy, and i'll fill you in on all that in the coming weeks. One thing I got some opportunity to enjoy was actually surfing the web. Strange as it may sound, I had little energy for that after uploading files, blogging, checking html and comments, add in the usual round of emails, my myspace and or facebook and so on.
Plus there is the house rule - no non-specific internet use after sundown. Next thing you know it's 3.00 AM and what the heck was I doing for the last 6 hours. All that porn's not going anywhere you know. Whoops, new topic eh?
Oh yeah. As a sidebar, we do have some new house rules here at the casa del hyper -
- don't get lippy and talk back to a mugger. Bad idea. Doesn't play out well.
- don't check your ex's social networking page "just to see how she's doing". Really bad idea. My head's messed up enough as it is in that regard.
- don't eat a steaming hot bowl of tasty seafood bisque while at the computer keyboard. Really messy bad idea. Cha-ching! One new keyboard later.....
Of late, I have been able to spend more time surfing the internet, which has been very enjoyable, as there's a lot of cool stuff out there now, lots more than was previously available - quality varies, but some people really take pride in their work, so good scans, encodes and rips abound. And don't even get me started on torrenting. WHEW!
But in the surfing of the inernet, I came to an unavoidable line of thinking that kinda rocked me to my sox-
"Mother of Mercy is the ol' datajunkie obsolete?" Me and Romney Wordsworth, saimese twins joined at the shoelace.
This is a heavy question i've been reflecting on lately.
As I DO want to continue doing something LIKE this, I am confronted with a dilemma. Let's look at the numbers, shall we?
Between the whole torrent phenomena (destined to mushroom as belts tighten globally), the proliferation of blogs like this one (and the ever-expanding audio sharity continuum) not to forget the many excellent sites like archive.org, goldenagescomics.co.uk, the triumphant return of The Zombie Astronaut and more, I cannot help but think that i've done my usual "canary in the coalmine" thing once again, and other people have picked upon and expanded/refined/adapted & adopted/embraced the possibilities that I did when I first happened on them so many years ago on the web - transmitting/sharing public domain OTR, scans of old paper and digitized downloadable public domain comics etc. [i must confess here that my original inspiration was sciencemonster.net and Gwangi's late lamented OTR blog, so it's not like I actually thought it up or anything].
So, has the ol' datajunkie man become, like those stinky little books and crackly recordings and other things he loves so much, "A Relic of The Empire"? Let's consider -
We'll get to the other elements in a bit, so let's just stick to the comics - it seems most comics available on the internet are formatted as cbz's or cbr's. i liked the pdf for a number of reasons: security [it's really difficult to put malware etc in a pdf], stability, versatility and so on. However, I can't help but wondering if the pdf is the betamax of digital comics. Plus, there seems to be security issues with the pdf's now. Nice one Adobe! Time will tell, but I feel I may have backed the wrong horse. Please do me know what you think about the format - pdf or cbz? Don't say both or i'll throw you down the stairs (that's a Donald E. Westlake line, by the way).
So, to sum it up on the negative side of things, i've probably picked the wrong format and there's a lot of sites where you can get a lot of things i've posted and a truckload more. Sure, i've got some things to be proud about by way of exculsiveity - the Lucky Mojo/Valmor catalog, the Skywald and Myron Fass magazines, that cool Pussycat magazine, El Guardian Invisible, Kurtzman's "Lucky" V.D. strip with the "Ignorant Cowboy" track zipped in, collecting all those Kirby "Prisoner" pages from various issues of TJKQ into a pdf... plus my head-on charge at Tower, Charlton (DITKO baby!), Captain Action and of course my fetish for Atlas Comics of the 70's.... these are solid accomplishments, but I can't help but thinking there's a whole bunch of people better equipped and/or motivated than yours truly to continue in the task of digitizing all the old paper in the world as we create a vast cross-indexed database of like, everything (which seems to me to be what is happening, and yes, i'm expecting that Vogon contructor fleet any day now). I think I may have done my share.
With regards to the old time radio, there's still a lot of it out there, but with bandwidth and computer speeds being what they are, with whole movies are downloadable in less time than it takes to make dinner, the OTR is not the thing it once was on the internet. My download stats prove this, so there. The ratio of downloads is about 10 to 1, comics to radio.
I like it, but some of these encodes are 10 years old and rather crunchy by todays' standards. So let me know what you think about the audio postings...
So then, there's lots of (or at least more than a few) people out there doing aspects of what I was trying to do, often better, and with more regularity.
If that's the case, what's so special about me now that you can get pretty much some of the same material (sometimes it's even my scans!), or similar, in a variety of locations, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. This will grow as more media gets digitally preserved/encoded. Maybe I should just pack it in.
But maybe not. Upon closer examination, i've got some concerns with a lot of what's out there, that possibly things get left out with some of presentations.
While the content is presented (in varying degrees of competency: remember kids, scan those comic pages at 1200 pixels wide or more!), there seems to be something lacking...
This brings me to the final point - in the ultimate analysis, it all comes down to stink. Or should I say my "stink". One of the key elements of "datajunkie" is the ongoing commitment to text: meta-text, sub-text, context and of course me babbling on and on with lots of text. While many of the sites and blogs I see are more than admirable, they seem to fail to grapple with any of the material presented in a real context and providing any kind on analysis, superficial or deep. Most seem to degenerate into a prefunctory show-and-tell excercise, of which I must confess to using as a fall-back position all too often. So, it would seem that i'll have to be writing more and doing the old sharity "here-it is gotta-go" routine less. Which is a pity, because it IS an easy out.
So I guess we'll be having more analysis and insightful commentary rather than just presenting stuff for the sake of sharing. I mean, I should grapple with the WHY of it's importance, other than just for a cheap laugh or the "gee-whiz that's cool" factor.
Sure this stuff is cool, or weird, or funky, but they almost always show us something about the time and culture that generated them. Which in turn, informs us about ourselves and the human condition, life, the universe and everything.
I think that I can infer a LOT MORE about a culture and society by it's trashiest form of disposable culture than it's "fine" art or "high" culture. You just have to know how to interpret it. Maybe i'm getting a little "John Berger/Joseph Campbell" with all this - deconstructing Pre-Code Crime comics or Italian zombie movies or whatever it may be, for what they tell us about their time and the people that lived in them. You'll learn more about the 1950's from a comic book than a history book. You may disagree, but hey, that's my riff and i'm sticking with it.
So we'll just carry on then, shall we? Openly resist change, that's me. You know that i'm all about the old school.
So to be boring and state my problem as clearly as possible - WTF am I doing here, EXACTLY? You tell me, because I can't seem to get a handle on it. And it's got to be more than just show-and-tell, that's fer sure. Should I just give way to my worst impulses and wollow in my obsessions in such a public arena? The fact that everyone else is doing it means less than nothing to me. On the other hand, I also get the feeling that there is hardly anyone receiving these broadcasts anyway... another short-wave radio message the last man on Earth.... which is a pity, because your humble host feels he has a unique perspective, due to the unrelenting strangeness of my bizarre experiences and my debatable super-power as a magnet for the weird and strange. This of course may be because I am somewhat weird and strange.
I will admit that I can see virtually no difference between the body of work of two dis-separate creative individuals like Wally Wood and Brian Eno, and the laundry-list cataloging of most of the material on popular culture seems to show most commentators on popular culture seem to be more at home dwelling in the microcosm, looking at things through the microscope. Me, i'm out in the laboratory carpark looking in the trash can like some low-rent P.I. Blessing or curse, for me, there is no edge, there are no real categories. The labels eventually fall off the jars. It's all one thing. It's all us, acting out in whatever arena calls to us, whatever opens the flower of our heart. Gee, ain't that purty.
Part of me wants to call it a day, and take the easy way out, but I can't help it sometimes. This wonky crap gets me hot (on an intellectual level at least) and I can't help but want to share my enthusiasm, my insights, my perspective. I must also add that there is a certain satisfaction in executing the whole digital preservation process from start finish, from the acquisition or selection of the item through scanning and processing into the final uploading and posting. It's really not the same as torrenting a bunch of stuff and plonking on a blog.
I have been tempted by the ease of just re-presenting wholesale other peoples material, without any re-working whatsoever, but to my way of thinking that's just "not cricket". One has to put one's own spin on it, at least, if I can labor the cricket thing just a bit more.
So then, perhaps the question isn't "WTF am I doing here?", but perhaps, "How did I get here in the first place?" (which then begs the even more existential questions: "Who am I?" and or course "Where are we?" ).
this, however is just like picking at a loose garment thread... next thing you know, you've unravelled the whole shebang. Maybe i'm just being too critical. One suffers from enough identity slippage as it is. Some days I feel like the punchy boxer in the old Warner Brothers cartoons -'Duuuh, i'm makin' a come-back". Sheeesh!
Often I have to forcibly remind myself (with a metaphorical hat-pin) that i'm not in the business of building houses, more like making bricks. And if you have to ask me what that means, i'm going to have to remind you about the stairs again. You wouldn't be here reading this if you didn't have a brain, so use it.
But at this point i'm open to advice (or criticism for that matter), so help a brother out and drop me a line, bouquets or brickbats, don't bother me none. Should I broaden my scope, or just stick to my guns and press on regardless?
So there you have it. Normal(!?!) transmissions will resume shortly. And remember, it's OK.... i'm from the internet, i'm here to help. Now everybody just lie down on the floor and keep calm.
PS. Saw "Watchmen", give it an 8. Some stuff left out, can see why. Will go and see it again (IMAX this time). OK, i'll stop talking like a nutjob in a pork-pie hat. At least they got my man Rorschach right. The perfect mix of Travis Bickle meets Mr A.....
At least when people ask me who I would be if I was a superhero and I say Rorschach they'll dial it down a bit with the wise-guy comments. I mean to say, if you're going to be a crazed vigilante, be a CRAZED vigilante. Go for the gusto! Human "bean juice" indeed! Hey, it's a great adaption, and among many things done right, they kept the opening monologue (one of my favorite moments by Mr Alan Moore) pretty straight on - "Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen it's true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown". Warms my heart (just kidding folks).
PPS. Here's the first of many overdue Halloween 2008 posts, a nice collection of Pre-Code horror strips reproduced from line-art from various places, hither and yon.. This leads off with the vastly under-rated Howard Nostrand's amazing Will Eisner meets Franz Kafka tour-de-force. With lines like "He put his grimy fingernails to his mouth, sweat beads formed on his inky brow. Fear... cold and absolute... choked him, knotting his throat in an unconsuming ball", this is existential horror at it's best! Also you'll find Bob Powell's notorious "Colorama" (OK, so here it's presented here in black and white, that's how we roll 'round here - ass-backwards and McLovin' it), an amazing strip where you are the camera, so to speak. While many of you are well aquinted with this strip, for those of you reading it for the first time, I envy you the experience of the discovery of this strip, and Powell's almost storyboard-like POV frame by frame execution. There's more excellent strips by Joe Kubert, Dick Ayers and more Nostrand and Powell. My main point in compiling and presenting this was to point out (and de-bunk) the myth that E.C. was the only producer of intelligent horror during the "Horror Boom" of the 1950's. The contents of this pdf shows that more eloquently than I can express at any length..... and some lazy son-of-a-gun will probably download it, rip it apart and turn it into a .cbz file and have it torrented up and/or up on their blog by Monday morning. Who cares man... I originate, they imitate and this you can appreciate.
Super Tardy Halloween Special
PPPS. Here's a clip of my old band from Australia. Who's that handsome fellow on the bass? Must be me! Seems like a lifetime ago..... *sigh*
So as we part (this time for just a few days, not half a year, give or take) I will leave you with the words of the immortal Gary Glitter -
"So did you miss me? When I was away? When I was away for so long...
Did you miss me? When I was away? I know you couldn't see me at all. I know you couldn't see me at all...
Hello! Hello! It's good to be back, it's good to be back....... Hello! Hello! Hello!"
More "What's up now with the what's up now?" soonest my little lovelies....