Mike Roe's Newstastic

Writing about pop culture, comedy, improv, journalism, politics, stuff.
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joshfialkov:

There is never enough.  Never enough time, never enough money, never enough success, never enough praise, never enough sales.  Never enough.  That’s part of the life I’ve chosen.  We struggle to find that thing that makes us feel satisfied, that gives us joy, but, the truth is that the joy is fleeting.  The feeling of being ‘full’ only lasts for a few moments before the hunger returns.

This is the life of an artist. This is the life of anyone who aspires to be greater than they are.

This is unattainable. This is the bottom line to life, from top to bottom from the most successful man on earth to the weakest child on the playground.  Nothing you ever do will be enough.

Robin Williams.  I got to spend an afternoon with him a few years ago because he had read Elk’s Run and Tumor and wanted to meet me. Please note, that was a surreal phone call.  

We talked about what I do for a living, we talked about what he does for a living, we talked about our families, and we talked about our hopes and dreams.  He was alive, sparkling, and, while still inherently himself, he was grounded.  Also, we talked about Popeye for about a half hour.  

We parted that day with both of us considering a way to put together a feature version of Tumor, with him in the lead, that never made it past that room.  I called my parents, they were duly impressed.  And I went back to my regular life.

I was at JFK coming home from New York Comic Con later that year, and I’d had a particularly tough go of it.  I was particularly frustrated with a publisher who had hired me.   I, Vampire had come out to critical acclaim, but, nobody was reading it, and I’d been particularly demeaned by the folks at DC that trip.  My wife was in the throes of her cancer treatment, and I just wanted to be there with her and my kid.  As I sat in the airport, a ball of tension and stress and nerves, a voice said, “You’re Josh, right?”

It’s surreal to hear a voice that you listened to on an old cassette tape talking about the Throbbing Python of Love, or reporting back to Orson, or, yes, dressing up like an elderly woman for little apparent reason.  But there he was.  Robin Williams.  

"I hope I’m not bothering you-"

"No, of course not."

He introduce me to his companion by saying, “This is one of the best writers in comics.”

We caught up a bit, and then parted as he went back to talking to his companion, and I boarded my flight.  

 I sat on that plane smiling for the first time in what felt like a year or more.

So, now, all of this. Robin Williams committed suicide.  I look at him, at the man I met, at the man who’s work I admired…  I don’t see a drug addict or a manic depressive or a crazy person… I see me.  I see all of the things that run through my head day in and day out.  That nothing is good enough.  Nobody really cares about what I do.  Nothing I’ve ever done is worthwhile. No one reads my books. No one cares about what I do. Nobody loves me.

Suicide is not something I’ve ever really had to deal with in the ways most people do.  I’m certainly depressive at times, I’m certainly manic at times.  I have fairly crippling blue periods.  But mental halth’s not what gets me there.  What does it, is the migraines.

The migraines themselves are severe to say the least.  I lose the use of speech, my motorskills retard to the point of uselessness. I become depressed and lethargic, and the pain could easily be described as getting a lemon juice tinged needle through one eye and out the other.

These migraines can only be treated via injection.  None of the other drugs work, just a double dose of Imitrex.  Self injected in between throwing up and crying.  And the way it works is you take one shot, then you wait for two long hours.  Two painful, aching hours of debating whether it isn’t just better to crawl to the kitchen and reach for the knife drawer.  Questioning if maybe there’d be a way to throw the radio in the bathtub.  Trying to figure out a way for my family to go on without me.  And the two hours are up, I take the second shot, I throw up, and then I pass out. 

Usually this happens monthly, but, I’ve had periods (the past three months in fact) where they were weekly and they’re overwhelming and I feel hopeless.  I don’t say it often, but, I know that it’s a good thing that I can barely walk when I have one.

Almost everyone of these headaches, at their root, is because I want more. My own standards drive me to stress levels that ultimately cripple me.  

Then I think about him.  Beloved. Wealthy. Spectacularly talented. And it wasn’t enough.

When I heard the news yesterday, that’s the sentence that reverberated through my head.  It wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t sleep last night, because those words echoed through my head.  I’m standing on the precipice of working on projects that I have literally dreamed of doing for a decade or more.  I stand poised to make enough money to be comfortable for a large stretch of time.  And I delude myself into thinking that it’ll be enough.

But it never will.  It’ll never be enough.  No matter what I do, it won’t be good enough, it won’t be successful enough.

Except for one thing.  My family.  My wife. My kid. My big dumb dogs. My irritated as hell cat.  The love they give me.  The support and care and comfort.  That is enough. 

When I’m shaking and crying and stuck curled up in a ball, it’s the gentle kiss from my daughter and my wife’s hand on back that gives me the strength. It’s their love.

And I’m so goddamn lucky to have it.

The Life After, which if you haven’t read it, is about a guy living in the afterlife for suicides, has touched a lot of nerves with a lot of people.  Not even in ways I intended, and the reaction has been overwhelming and humbling.

At its core is the idea that suicide is wrongly looked at as a sin. As the greatest crime one can commit against oneself.  But that’s not true.

The greatest sin is not accepting the love around you.  Not allowing yourself to be fed with it when you’re starving, and wrapped in it when you’re cold.   

I’m going to spoil the ending of The Life After. Right here. Right now. Love. Love is the answer. Love is the wick which burns so brightly in the darkness of life.

The hardest thing in the world is accepting that. And letting it light your way.

If you are having trouble and need someone to talk to, call your loved ones. If you feel like you have no one, than call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/). And if you really can’t cope. And if you really can’t cope. If everything has come apart, then, please reach out to me right here on Tumblr.

YET ANOTHER amazing story about how awesome Robin Williams was, this time from one of my favorite comic book writers. How does one man touch so many lives? Just incredible.

danagould:

Two years ago, I was performing at The Punchline in San Francisco, and Robin came to the show with our mutual friend, Dan Spencer.

This particular batch of material was the first time I had touched upon my then still-fresh divorce wounds, and big chunks of it were pretty dark. The next day, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. Whoever it was had obviously been to the show and knew my number, so I figured they would reveal themselves at some point and save me the embarrassment of asking who they were.

The Mystery Texter asked how I was REALLY doing. “You can’t fool me. Some of those ‘jokes’ aren’t ‘jokes.” By now I knew that whoever this was had been through what I was enduring, as no one else would know to ask, “What time of day is the hardest?”

He wanted to know how my kids were handling it, all the while assuring me that the storm, as bleak as it was, would one day pass and that I was not, as I was then convinced, a terrible father for visiting a broken home upon my children.

I am not rewriting this story in retrospect to make it dramatic. I did not know who I was texting with. Finally, my phone blipped, and I saw, in a little green square, “Okay, pal. You got my number. Call me. I’ve been there. You’re going to be okay. - Robin.”

That is what you call a human being.

Great to see one comic genius reaching out and helping another.

ferniecommaalex:

Years ago, when Sentimental Lady was on Harold Night, there was a night where Robin Williams came by the theater and asked if there were any improv shows he could sit in on. He didn’t ask in an entitled way. He apologized for asking, seemed to think that the answer would be “no”, and clearly had…

What an amazing man.

seanizaakse:

peanutbutterjotunheim:

The first few minutes….

image

My face the rest of the movie. 

image

image

image

But then….

image

And then…

image

And finally: 

image

Yup. Pretty much sums it up.

A deep interpretation of the intricacies of Guardians of the Galaxy.

(via zakkinsella)

moneystcroix:

If your discomfort with the whole Captain America #22 issue is simply the fact that sex had happened between two consenting adults in the presence of alcohol, this isn’t for you. You’re free and completely entitled to hate that and view it with great disdain but my attitude and problem with the fandom is not because of people finding issue with that overused plot device to get two people to finally be comfortable enough to do it but because of people making claims that Jet Black is 14 years old (when she’s not) and thus stating that despite her even saying she’s beyond those years to dare accuse Remender writing a statutory rape scene and faulting Sam Wilson as a rapist. If you had any of these thoughts, this is for you. Before you continue your crusade, please at least let me provide you with some facts.

Let me first introduce you to Jet Black as she was first introduced in the series (Captain America v.7 #1):

That girl right there with that mischievous look is not a baby as many have claimed. She is clearly in her prepubescent years enjoying the treatment her father, Armin Zola, is providing the capitalist captain. 

Below is her brother as he was first introduced in the same exact page (Captain America v.7 #1 p.14 — cw: syringe/drill and torture):

Clearly the two siblings are not the same age, right? So why are there false rumors being spread around that Jet is 14? I honestly don’t know unless people believe Ian and Jet are the same person, which is silly, right? Apparently, not

Putting the rest beneath a cut because it gets lengthy because of timeline explanation thus is image heavy.

Read More

Great explanation of why that controversial scene in Captain America shouldn’t have been controversial. #readingcomprehension

birdstump:

torisora

batman and his family of birds, bats and heroes

(this was inspired by the japanese scroll, night attack on the sanjo palace, except this isn’t completely about death. and that’s why it reads right to left ahaaa im glad i finally got the chance to draw all of them :3) [texture]

Batman is dark but he’s also a character who’s a symbol of hope. I love art that remembers that.

(via deantrippe)

The friend zone is very real. We have all had someone we were close to that we realized we were crushing on in a big way - but we hated ourselves for it. As much as we hoped and prayed things would change for the better, many of us acknowledged that our love for the other person was going to be detrimental towards the relationship. The people in this kind of friend zone cry while watching romance movies or go out and get drunk and kiss strangers. We make sure to keep a respectful distance between the person we like and ourselves - we are distinctly afraid of fucking things up because of our shitty heart being a complete dickweed and doing the thumpy thing when it shouldn’t.

The Friend Zone is entirely false and is a complete invention made by boys who on one hand get angry if they think you’re soliciting sex by playing video games but on the other hand get angry if you are not soliciting sex just by breathing. The Friend Zone consists rarely of actual friends - instead it’s often people who stare at us in class and make us uncomfortable by constantly trying to talk to us while we’re obviously engaged in something else. These are the people who invade our personal space and aren’t afraid to talk dismissively about the things which we are passionate about - our faith in particular.

These are not kind people. Once I was in a hospital’s waiting room and a woman was quietly saying a prayer for her son. After a few minutes, several other people joined in, linking their hands and bowing their heads. The boy next to me began to talk loudly to me about how disgusting and juvenile it was and how amused he happened to be by the behavior of the “sheep.”

"I’m Catholic," I replied, looking into his eyes, "I think what they’re doing is beautiful."

He looked down my shirt. “You seemed more intelligent than that,” he snorted, “I should have known. Are you even reading that book or are you just skimming?”

I blinked. I wish I had said something like, “No, I’m just breathing in the words and hoping they stick,” but instead I just gave him a dirty look and tried to tune him out. He kept talking to me for the better part of an hour.

Eventually, he got around to asking me out for coffee. I wanted to explain I was waiting for my mother to get out of chemotherapy, that my family was poised on the edge of a terrible end, that I barely knew him and basically already hated him. Instead, I smiled sheepishly and said, “I’d rather not.”

"You bitch," he replied. I watched his face flare hot. "You sluts are all like this. You play hard-to-get faux-intelligent and you lead people on just to hurt them."

"I’m…?" I started. I was scared. He was in my face. His hands were curled into fists.

"You’re all like this," he repeated. At this point, a few of the other people in the room were staring. I was pressed against the side of my chair, trying to get as far from him as I could. He wouldn’t lower his voice. "You fucking friend zone all the nice guys and date shitty asshole men and then come crying to our shoulders when you need someone."

I am not a confrontational person. Panic bubbled in my throat. I felt tears jump into my eyes. I started stuttering again. I was really honestly positive he was going to hurt me - for no other reason than turning down coffee.

This is the difference between the friend zone and the Friend Zone: one is hating yourself for liking the other person. The other is hating the other person for not liking you.

Fascinating piece on what “the friend zone” is — or isn’t.

(via inkskinned)

Everything Eliza said about our friend Nathan, but especially this: “Life is short, no matter how it ends. So do everything, dream big, hold tight and when someone tells you your work is remarkable, try to believe them. 

elizaeliza:

I found out that Nathan was an artist the day I caught him stocking one of the piles of mysterious Diamon Lion postcards that had appeared in some theaters around LA. Diamond Lion is my improv group - none of us had any idea where these postacards had come from. I grabbed one and said “Did you make these??” He just sort of nodded and smiled. 

He ended up making a bunch of posters for Diamond Lion. He hand made each of those Rankin and Bass christmas characters (and if you don’t know what we look like,  trust me - he nailed it.) Later he made weekly posters for my stand up show, Big Money. My co-host, DC, and I particularly liked the “weird” one he made us for April Fools Day last year. He also drew me that “ferociously cute” dinosaur - which is one of my favorite things, and is the background to my twitter page.

I wanted to post some of the art that he made for me, and the posters, and some stuff he made I just liked, because I want people to see them. But I don’t feel comfortable showing them to you by linking to his blog, because his suicide note is at the top of it, and I guess now it always will be. Even writing the words “suicide note” feels so personal and dramatic, like taping someone’s underwear to the blackboard. Sorry, Nathan. 

I don’t have any wise words to finish this with, besides life is short, no matter how it ends. So do everything, dream big, hold tight and when someone tells you your work is remarkable, try to believe them. 

"The ethical paradox can wear you down. No one on the white-hat side has ever hidden his or her identity with less than noble intent: to make the fight about something bigger than us. To represent a greater justice, where the focus can be on right and wrong… and not on whether the bad guys will exact reprisal on those close to us. And sometimes you have to lie. Sometimes, someone guesses— ‘Aren’t you really Spider-Man?’ — and you look them dead in the eye and say ‘absolutely not’ because you can justify a lie if lives are riding on it. Even as you fight for, as the saying goes, truth and justice… even if you’re a lawyer who has sworn to live by the truth… you willingly bear false witness. When the Globe came after me, I lied to shield my friends. That’s the truth. It’s not the kind of excuse I’m looking forward to giving St. Peter— a sin is a sin— but maybe he’ll understand. I hope so." - Mark Waid/Daredevil (Writer: Mark Waid)

brianmichaelbendis:

Original splash page by Jack Kirby and Sol Brodsky from Fantastic Four Annual #1, published by Marvel, 1963.

Seeing a map of a headquarters may be my favorite thing in comics, and one by Jack Kirby is so sexy I may not need to date any longer.

voraciousbrain:

(or, “NSFWCORP and the Layoff”)


When I transplanted my family from Florida to North Carolina, hugely pregnant, with just enough cash to finance the move, we were fucked. But Florida was suffocating, I was dying in academia, and there was no way we could stay in roach-infested, moldy,…

Great piece on the pain and pleasure of journalism and freelancing.

- Me really often while recovering from my ankle surgery.

(via cinefamily)

doctorwho:

“People are intimidated. They think that there’s 47 years worth of stuff they need to know before they can enjoy anything. And what you want to say is, No. Look, there is a blue box. It is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up there’s a bloke in it called the Doctor, and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed, because he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch “Blink.”

                            - Neil Gaiman to Comic Con

I <3 Neil Gaiman!

reblogged as part of our continuing series: Protips! Doctor Who for Newvians

You don’t need to know anything about the 50 years of history to watch Doctor Who. Just go DO it.

catbathchad:

THE END OF AN ERA: A TOUGH LOVE GUIDE TO REMEMBERING WHY WE PERFORM
By Chad Damiani
In the last few weeks, IO West has made some big changes. They’re disbanding 11 of their 12 mainstage Harold teams, with the exception of the popular and long-running King Ten. Those 87 performers will be given a chance to audition for four new all-star Harold teams that will perform Wednesday nights. 
And now another bombshell: IO is re-formatting all shows that take place in their two back theaters. For the indie improv community, this is a major happening.
A quick explanation for people outside of the Los Angeles comedy scene. IO West is one of two major training centers for improvisation. For several years, they have provided the most stage time for improvisers on independent teams (teams created by individuals and not affiliated with a school) in two back theaters known as the DCT and The Loft. These shows were free and either hosted by teams or individuals – most of which with some kind of history with the IO training center.
Starting next month, all of these shows will be terminated. It’s not clear what new shows will take their place, but IO’s Artist Director James Grace wrote this in an email to former hosts: “Just be clear, going forward starting Dec 15th, only shows that are directly related to and sanctioned by the training center will be in the DCT and Loft theaters.” I don’t want to speculate too far, but the final level of IO’s training program is creating a new form. It’s hard to imagine that these teams won’t be given the opportunity to host – although no one seems sure if they will play alone or invite outside indie teams to share their blocks.
There are a lot of performers feeling betrayed by IO, but I’m not writing about that. This community is full of such kind and wonderful people and I have nothing but sympathy for those affected. Losing an opportunity to perform is heartbreaking. But the truth is that there’s a wide perception that IO’s product isn’t of the same caliber as The Upright Citizen’s Brigade. It’s not hard to see why. Just go see the line to get into UCB shows that wraps Franklin Avenue. Perhaps IO could have made more gradual changes, but it’s their theater and they have a right to dictate their content.
Instead, I’d like to focus on some truths that I hope every indie improviser and promoter should take away from these developments.
SOMETIMES WE ALL TAKE A GOOD THING FOR GRANTED
There were quite a few shows I really liked playing at both the DCT and The Loft.  Fun and dynamic hosts that took pride in booking good shows – as well as using the opportunity to grow as a team themselves.  I’m going to miss them.
But there were also a lot of shows in both spaces that felt uninspired. It still shocks me when I see a host/team take the stage with no energy or intention. Everything that happens when the lights go up should be treated like part of the show. There were also clearly host teams that were only together in name only – not practicing or taking advantage the regular (and free) performance time.  If you’re a team of six-eight and can only get two members to attend your own shows, then it’s time to give up the slot to a younger, hungrier squad with more focus.
This blog isn’t about blaming those shows for IO’s new policies. For all I know, this mandate came from IO’s Chicago office. But there’s no denying that the weaker shows in both the DCT and The Loft impacted how people treated those spaces. Indifference breeds disrespect and disrespect abuse – with teams regularly cancelling last minute, leaving early or using those stages as a chance to be sloppy and fuck off.
Of course, any improviser who acted this way was completely wrong. The idea of squandering any offer of performance time boggles my mind.  But that kind of behavior is endemic to the LA improv community as a whole, which brings me my overall point:
 PERFORMING IS A PRIVILEGE
I was talking to a couple of improv friends recently and one of them told a story he’d heard about a booking snafu that led to The Red Hot Chili Peppers performing for some tiny small town crowd – well after the band had become a huge international sensation. The group took the stage and performed a sweat-soaked three-hour set you’d expect them to muster for Texas Stadium.
I responded with a story I’d always loved about a pro wrestler named Shawn Michaels. Legend goes that he worked a house show (no cameras) in the early 90s where less than 50 people were scattered in the stands. Michaels went out and had a 30-minute match where he took multiple falls on the concrete. When one vets made fun of Michaels for limping back to the bus, he told him if one ticket gets sold, that buyer deserves to get his money’s worth.
We’re spoiled here in LA when it comes to stage time. Let this serve as a reminder that could change. So make the most of every opportunity. Always take the stage with purpose. Push to be more present, committed and brave. Cherish your audience and then take pride in being an audience worthy of greatness.
“LIKE” Chad’s JETZO page to learn more about Catsby show line-ups. Stating in December, Catsby runs the second and fourth Sunday of the month at the indie mecca The Clubhouse.
https://www.facebook.com/jetzoimprov

Short version: Chad says smart things about what it means to do improv, how the future could be brighter and more! Sad myself to see indie performance spaces going away, but makes stage time that much more special. I love teams who host shows who do a combination of booking big names while giving opportunities to other groups, and hopefully this means more of that around town.

catbathchad:

THE END OF AN ERA: A TOUGH LOVE GUIDE TO REMEMBERING WHY WE PERFORM

By Chad Damiani

In the last few weeks, IO West has made some big changes. They’re disbanding 11 of their 12 mainstage Harold teams, with the exception of the popular and long-running King Ten. Those 87 performers will be given a chance to audition for four new all-star Harold teams that will perform Wednesday nights.

And now another bombshell: IO is re-formatting all shows that take place in their two back theaters. For the indie improv community, this is a major happening.

A quick explanation for people outside of the Los Angeles comedy scene. IO West is one of two major training centers for improvisation. For several years, they have provided the most stage time for improvisers on independent teams (teams created by individuals and not affiliated with a school) in two back theaters known as the DCT and The Loft. These shows were free and either hosted by teams or individuals – most of which with some kind of history with the IO training center.

Starting next month, all of these shows will be terminated. It’s not clear what new shows will take their place, but IO’s Artist Director James Grace wrote this in an email to former hosts: “Just be clear, going forward starting Dec 15th, only shows that are directly related to and sanctioned by the training center will be in the DCT and Loft theaters.” I don’t want to speculate too far, but the final level of IO’s training program is creating a new form. It’s hard to imagine that these teams won’t be given the opportunity to host – although no one seems sure if they will play alone or invite outside indie teams to share their blocks.

There are a lot of performers feeling betrayed by IO, but I’m not writing about that. This community is full of such kind and wonderful people and I have nothing but sympathy for those affected. Losing an opportunity to perform is heartbreaking. But the truth is that there’s a wide perception that IO’s product isn’t of the same caliber as The Upright Citizen’s Brigade. It’s not hard to see why. Just go see the line to get into UCB shows that wraps Franklin Avenue. Perhaps IO could have made more gradual changes, but it’s their theater and they have a right to dictate their content.

Instead, I’d like to focus on some truths that I hope every indie improviser and promoter should take away from these developments.

SOMETIMES WE ALL TAKE A GOOD THING FOR GRANTED

There were quite a few shows I really liked playing at both the DCT and The Loft.  Fun and dynamic hosts that took pride in booking good shows – as well as using the opportunity to grow as a team themselves.  I’m going to miss them.

But there were also a lot of shows in both spaces that felt uninspired. It still shocks me when I see a host/team take the stage with no energy or intention. Everything that happens when the lights go up should be treated like part of the show. There were also clearly host teams that were only together in name only – not practicing or taking advantage the regular (and free) performance time.  If you’re a team of six-eight and can only get two members to attend your own shows, then it’s time to give up the slot to a younger, hungrier squad with more focus.

This blog isn’t about blaming those shows for IO’s new policies. For all I know, this mandate came from IO’s Chicago office. But there’s no denying that the weaker shows in both the DCT and The Loft impacted how people treated those spaces. Indifference breeds disrespect and disrespect abuse – with teams regularly cancelling last minute, leaving early or using those stages as a chance to be sloppy and fuck off.

Of course, any improviser who acted this way was completely wrong. The idea of squandering any offer of performance time boggles my mind.  But that kind of behavior is endemic to the LA improv community as a whole, which brings me my overall point:

 PERFORMING IS A PRIVILEGE

I was talking to a couple of improv friends recently and one of them told a story he’d heard about a booking snafu that led to The Red Hot Chili Peppers performing for some tiny small town crowd – well after the band had become a huge international sensation. The group took the stage and performed a sweat-soaked three-hour set you’d expect them to muster for Texas Stadium.

I responded with a story I’d always loved about a pro wrestler named Shawn Michaels. Legend goes that he worked a house show (no cameras) in the early 90s where less than 50 people were scattered in the stands. Michaels went out and had a 30-minute match where he took multiple falls on the concrete. When one vets made fun of Michaels for limping back to the bus, he told him if one ticket gets sold, that buyer deserves to get his money’s worth.

We’re spoiled here in LA when it comes to stage time. Let this serve as a reminder that could change. So make the most of every opportunity. Always take the stage with purpose. Push to be more present, committed and brave. Cherish your audience and then take pride in being an audience worthy of greatness.

“LIKE” Chad’s JETZO page to learn more about Catsby show line-ups. Stating in December, Catsby runs the second and fourth Sunday of the month at the indie mecca The Clubhouse.

https://www.facebook.com/jetzoimprov

Short version: Chad says smart things about what it means to do improv, how the future could be brighter and more! Sad myself to see indie performance spaces going away, but makes stage time that much more special. I love teams who host shows who do a combination of booking big names while giving opportunities to other groups, and hopefully this means more of that around town.