Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Power Girl in Da House!

I'm posting this picture, not because I think it's a particularly good picture of me (you can barely see my face and it emphasizes just how gray my hair is getting) but because I think it's hilarious.

My friend Ben sent me this photo this morning. It was taken at his wedding reception about a week ago. While I don't find myself to be especially appealing in the image, I have to admit there is technical skill and artistry in how it was taken. Which is what I find so amusing. The photographer was trying to take pictures of people doing all kinds of different things. I assume he thought it would be interesting to record a moment in time in which I, a friend of the groom, was pensively reflecting on the future of the loving couple and the long, happy road ahead of them.

As it happens, I was thinking of boobs.

Just outside the shot as it was framed were my other two friends and co-workers, Matt and Greg. They had just followed me outside to get some fresh air. Though I'm fine in closed spaces, I tend to get claustrophobic around crowds and the dance floor was packed. Which brings me to the boobs. On the floor, dancing bent over, with a young girl, was a lovely and impressively endowed woman in a revealing black dress. Her girls were bouncing around like two fat kids on a trampoline and I just knew we were headed for a Tara Reid moment. I felt horribly guilty for staring but I AM a healthy, red-blooded American male, after all and it's kind of my job. After three or four songs, she took a break from dancing and we went outside. Where we proceeded to take bets as to whether or not we were going to see the "girls" before the DJ called it a night. That's what we were discussing when that photo was snapped.

When my wife reads this, she will most likely make "oinking" sounds at me. She knows what a pig I am, you see. And what, you ask, does any of this have to do with comic books? Just this:

Almost Almost Famous

A strange thing happened today.

The agency I work at recently won a huge new account (If you know me, the agency or are at all familiar with the goings-on in the ad biz, you'll know what I'm talking about.) and we've been hiring people like they're going to stop making them. In fact, desk space is getting pretty scarce. I was working at my own desk when one of the new copywriters came walking by, saw my nameplate and did a double-take.

"Hey! Are you Mike's brother?"

At first, I was confused. I'd never seen this fella before, for one thing. And, for another, this sort of thing almost NEVER happens to me.

I'm embarassed to admit it but, when Mike first broke into comics, I made a bit of a hobby out of watching people's reactions when I wrote a check for some comics or handed over my bank card with my name on it. I was sure the clerk would see the name, smile and say..."Hey! Are you Mike's brother?" I'm not sure what I was hoping to gain from it (certainly not free comics) but it was fun in a stupid sort of way. That lasted about six months. Because nobody ever said shit. The only reaction I ever got was when one teenaged girl running the register at Atlantic Comics in North Carolina frowned at my bank card and asked me how I pronounced my name. "Ware-ING-go," I replied. She shrugged and said, "What's that, Mexican?." and went about ringing me up.

Conversely, when I was still showing my portfolio at conventions, I went out of my way to keep my name to myself. I wanted my work to be judged on it's own merits. I have to laugh at that now because, on one occasion, an editor looking at my work noticed my name on my convention badge, didn't recognize it, and then offered me the helpful advice of not quitting my day job. "I don't have one,' I said. "Then get one. Just not in comics. 'Cause you stink," he offered.

So, when this new guy asked me if I was Mike's brother, I made the natural assumption:

"Do you know Mike from college?"

"Me? Heck no. I'm a big fan of his. I read all his comics. Met him at a couple of conventions."

I could see eyes widen all around me. My coworkers know what Mike does for a living and even think it's neat. But they realize, as I have come to realize, that having a brother that draws comics for a living is like having a brother who's a lawyer or a doctor or teacher. It's not like he's George Clooney. It's a job. A friggin' cool job. But just a job. So, you can understand my reaction when the new guy sprung this on me.

We chatted about Mike's work for a while and I was surprised how uncomfortable it made me feel. The new guy was very nice and friendly, but he was also very excited to be meeting "Mike's brother." That seemed very strange to me. I'm not used to it. I got what might be the slightest inkling of what it's like to be Ashley Simpson or Haylie Duff. It was very similar to my experiences in high school when teachers would brighten when they got to my name on the class roll call. "Hey! Are you Mike's brother? Do you draw, too?" In an environment where you absolutely do NOT, under any circumstances, want to be singled out in public, this was torture.

The discomfort soon went away when the conversation turned to his own comic that he's writing and having published. He sent me a PDF of the first issue and it was very good. He's had it drawn by a professional-level artist and it should be out late this fall, if all goes well. I, of course, can't give details but, once it's published, I'll be able to tell you all about it. As the day went on, we traded emails about what I thought of the book. He mentioned having me do a pinup for it. (I told him I wouldn't hold him to it as he has yet to see my work. That should change his mind pretty quick.) Turns out we're working on the same account. (The big one I mentioned.) So, what started out as an awkward moment may have turned out to be me making another friend. We'll see.

Still. A very strange and unexpected way to start the day.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Well, I finally got around to seeing SPIDER-MAN 3 and, I'm sorry to say, the rumors are true. What a jumbled up mess of a movie. Like the first film, this one beats you over the head with its theme (forgiveness) at every opportunity. And this time, there's not just one, not two but THREE villains. Hollywood never learns. Raimi made a game effort in trying to tie all the storylines together and that may have been the problem. There were so many unbelievable coincidences in the plot that my suspension of disbelief crumbled by the second reel, not the least of which is the revelation that Flint Marko is the real killer of Peter Parker's uncle Ben within minutes of becoming endowed with superpowers as the villain Sandman. This plot "twist" (read: retcon) completely changes Spider-Man's origin and invalidates his entire motivation for becoming a superhero in the first film. This is the same kind of jackassery that tied the Joker into Batman's origin in Tim Burton's original BATMAN film. It's unnecessary and distracting.

And, what the hell was up with Spidey losing his mask every ten seconds? I know they're paying Tobey MaGuire a lot of money to appear in these films, but nobody goes to a SPIDER-MAN movie to see his cherubic puss. (Or Kirsten Dunst's, for that matter, despite her moronic, egotistical claims.) A word of warning. Take a good look at the picture at the top of this posting. That's what Spidey looks like with his mask on. Remember it well, because you won't see much of it in SPIDER-MAN 3.

Now, lest I leave you with the impression that the movie was all bad, allow me to give a shout out to the F/X team. Venom was amazing looking. I was never a fan of the comic character but I really enjoyed seeing him come to life on film. He was suitably menacing. (Unfortunately, they must have been paying Topher Grace a lot of money too because he kept losing his mask as well.) The Sandman effects were terrific. I wish he wasn't the size of King Kong through most of the movie, but at least the visuals were good. The fight scene in the armored bank car was right out of the comics. And, best of all, Bryce Dallas Howard was enchanting as Gwen Stacy. She really looked the part (though, why they cast a redhead as blonde Gwen and a blonde as the red-haired MJ, I'll never understand) and she excelled in what was actually an underwritten role. The filmmakers played Gwen up as a bit of a ditz but Bryce at least managed to give the part some heart. And, did I mention, she looked great? She made Dunst look, well, skanky by comparison.

Anyway, I'll have to give this one 2.5 stars out of 5. It's too violent and scary for the kiddies, too silly for adults and it plays too fast and loose with the mythology for the comic geeks like yours truly. I'm just not sure at whom they were aiming this one.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

LOST without you.

Oh, and let me just say, to all of you who quit watching LOST because you just had to know what was going on and couldn't wait any longer...Bite my shiny, metal ASS! Holy cow, last night's Season 3 finale was the most incredible 2 hours of television I have ever seen. Better than all of Darin Morgan's X-FILES rolled into one. The last scene was the biggest DAAAAAAAMMMMMMN! moment ever. This is simply the best, most emotionally and intellectually satisfying series I've ever seen, MILLENNIUM notwithstanding. So, there.

Best. Wife. EVER.

I've been lucky.

All my former gal pals (haven't actually been that many) have either put up with or even encouraged my comics habit. One was even into them a little. But I really hit the jackpot with my wife, Suzanne. I don't think she'd ever even picked up a comic in her life before we met but, as with almost all my interests, she decided to make the effort to find out what I saw in them. She started reading a couple comics from my stack when I brought them home from the shop each week. (That stack has gotten considerably smaller these days.) She instantly took a liking to Jeff Smith's BONE and Terry Moore's STRANGERS IN PARADISE. She got a naughty kick out of OMAHA THE CAT DANCER and believed me when I said I just bought it for the art. She tried to read a few of my brother's books but superheroes weren't her thing. She did like TELLOS, though.

Eventually, she started going to the shop (Nostalgia Plus in Richmond) with me and befriended the owners. It's gotten to the point that, if I show up without her, they're disappointed. Soon, she was buying her own titles. Though, as I said, she wasn't into superheroes, she did start buying WONDER WOMAN and, briefly, bought AVENGELINE and GLORY. (Ugh!) When I started buying PREACHER, about six issues into the run, she fell in love with it and claimed the series for her own. She even allowed me to pay waaaay too much for the back issues at a convention so she could have a complete set.

Best of all, she started going to the HEROES CONVENTION in Charlotte with me every year. It became something we both looked forward to doing together. We even had our own restaurant. It was a ritual. Until they closed down last year, the Bistro 100 was our place. It was at HEROES a couple years ago that she met and fell in like with the Luna Brothers and started reading their book GIRLS and bought the trade of ULTRA.

I got a little worried last week when she announced that she wasn't interested in seeing SPIDER-MAN 3 with me in the theater. To be honest, I wasn't too keen on it either. But I didn't want to watch it on DVD and find myself wishing I'd seen it on the "big screen." (That happens often.) But she wasn't having any. She's been horribly busy at work and her comics reading had fallen to the wayside. I started to think that I was on my own again.

Then, this week, she got off work in time to go with me to get my weekly fix. Her eyes fell immediately on two books prominently featuring heroic-looking females on the covers: IRON MAN: HIGH VELOCITY and HEROES FOR HIRE. I wanted to tell her that those books were probably not written with ladies in mind and would probably disappoint her. All the boobs-in-your-face shots were a dead giveaway. (Plus, I have to wonder what she's going to think of the cover to the upcoming HEROES FOR HIRE #13, pictured above.) But she was showing interest in comics again, so I kept my opinion to myself. As I perused the new-releases, she wandered over to the back issue section. I was congratulating myself for keeping my spending down when she wandered up with a three-inch stack of books. Every back issue she could find. My eyes widened. It was quite a chunk of change, at $2.99 an issue. But I didn't really mind. We can (sort of) afford it. And my baby was back!

Now if I can just get her to start watching horror movies...

Monday, May 21, 2007

ROM, Spaceknight

Back in the day, I was a huge ROM fan. My brother was into more sophisticated, philisophical fare like Jim Starlin's CAPTAIN MARVEL and WARLOCK and Claremont and Byrne's UNCANNY X-MEN. But I was always partial to the simpler, plot-driven stuff like NOVA and MACHINE MAN. And ROM. I don't remember if I had the action figure yet but, when our father brought home the first issue, I snatched it up and was hooked. It was drawn by Sal Buscema, my favorite comic illustrator (then and now) and written by Bill Mantlo. I've read online that Mantlo wasn't his contemporaries as a writer. Whether that's deserved or not, I don't know. But I've enjoyed an awful lot of his work and ROM was certainly no exception. I bought every single issue as they came out and devoured the tales of the valiant Galadorian on his quest to rid the galaxy of Dire Wraiths. I've always wanted Marvel to reprint the old books in an archive edition with modern printing standards but, with the publishing rights in (heh) limbo, I guess that's not going to happen any time soon.

With this illustration, I tried to achieve that loosey-goosey, carefree inking style that Sal Buscema has. I barely penciled the drawing and skipped the underdrawing stage altogether. I don't think I pulled it off. It ended up just looking rushed and, as someone mentioned in one of their comments, like Gabe from Penny Arcade drew it. I used to be pretty good at mimicking other artists like my pal Sal but I seem to have lost the knack. Oh well. Hopefully, I've at least brought back some pleasant memories.

And, in case my devotion to ol' toaster-head wasn't apparent enough, try this on for size. One of the first projects I worked on upon learning Lightwave was a brief 3D animation of a (clunky) ROM model I created. It's crude and clumsy but it was kind of exciting to see our boy come to life, though ever so briefly. To check it out, just click this link:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wanna Buy a Blog?

My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?

I found this blog-appraiser on the OCCASIONAL SUPERHEROINE blog. I'm not sure what criteria they use but, whatever they are, my blog is coming up basically worthless. So, now's the time folks. Buy-low-sell-high and all that.

American Gotham

A while back, a moderator on the Michael Slade messageboard (at started an artwork thread. He asked posters to take famous works of art and alter them so they were comic book themed. I was working late (waiting, basically) and thought I'd take a stab at it to kill some time. This image is what I came up with. Sadly, mine was the only contribution but everyone seemed to like it. I thought I'd post it here since this is turning out to be a mostly comics-related blog. Hope you like it.

No Fat Chicks.

I just read a disturbing article on examining the apparent trend in American music that all female musicians are slender, sexy, catwalk-worthy vixens. They point out that, while talent used to be enough to get you noticed, these days, you have to look like you just stepped out of MAXIM magazine and, well, if you can sing, that's nice too. This is nothing new and I've been noticing it for years. In fact, it applies to guys too. When local hero Elliot Yamin made it to the final four on AMERICAN IDOL, I knew he wouldn't win. Not because he didn't deserve it. He's got some pipes. But, with his crooked teeth and backwoods hairdo, he didn't have the look of a Pop superstar. (That doesn't explain the triumph of Taylor Hicks, I know, but who cares? I don't usually watch AMERICAN IDOL anyway.)

What made me roll my eyes, though, was the fact that the article called out two singers, Kelly Clarkson and Pink, as being considered "less than perfect 10s." I have to ask, by whom? I don't listen to a lot of modern Pop music but I do have several of these two artist's songs on my iPod. And I happen to think they're both pretty damned attractive. Look at the cover of this week's ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY and tell me Clarkson's not a heartbreaker. And I love Pink's screw-you attitude toward her appearance. I once saw a music video of hers in which she proudly bared her (then) pooch-belly. Didn't make her any less sexy, though. Quite the opposite.

Maybe I'm biased. My taste in women (Kate Beckinsale and Milla Jovovich notwithstanding) has always leaned toward the Rubenesque. I'll take $30 A DAY-era Rachael Ray over Keira Knightly any day. I love women who aren't afraid to order a bacon-cheeseburger with large fries on the first date. Darwyn Cooke's fleshy Wonder Woman in DC NEW FRONTIER is just about the sexiest woman I've ever seen in a comic book. UGLY BETTY's America Ferrara is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful women on TV.

But I digress. My point is that everyone is someone's "perfect 10." Pointing out two perfectly lovely women as exceptions to the rule of singers as feminine ideal...just seems like they were reinforcing the crap they were editorializing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

What is this Mickey Mouse $#!*?

I'm not embarassed by my fondness for comics. Really I'm not. In my "office" at work, I have a TALES FROM THE CRYPT calendar on the wall. There's also a shelf holding my Bender, Iron Giant and ROM figures along with all my Harvey Comics bobbleheads. I also proudly display my SUPERMAN RETURNS poster where everyone can see it. But I go to great pains to prevent people thinking that's what I'm about. I don't walk around telling people that "with great power comes great responsibility." I don't spend hours telling everyone who will listen about what Sam Raimi got wrong in the first SPIDER-MAN movie. And, with the exception of my so-uncool-it's-cool Aquaman T-shirt, I don't wear comics-related clothing at work. And I absolutely don't rub people's noses in what's in the picture at the top of this post. (That's my albatross of a comic collection, which resides in my attic/office.)

It's a constant battle. People were shocked...SHOCKED!...when they found out that I hadn't seen SPIDER-MAN 3 after it had been in release for a whole week (and still haven't.) When the Richmond Times-Dispatch started inserting those nifty reprints of Lee and Ditko's Spider-Man run in the Sunday edition, I got two or three of them on my desk every morning for weeks. Every Christmas, friends give me little superhero knickknacks to clutter up my house when all I want is pair of dress socks. When that (admittedly amusing) Comcast commercial came on, the one with the ambiguously gay fellow in the Spidey suit interviewing for a potential roommate, I was horrified. Co-workers immediately wanted to know if I liked it.

"Nope," I said.


"Because I knew, the minute it came on, that everyone I knew saw it and instantly thought, 'Hey, that's Matt!"

"Yeah, I did!"

All this reminds me of a similar situation my first year at VCU. Back then, I had a burning desire to own a Mickey Mouse watch. I didn't know anybody else that had one and I thought it would be kind of retro-cool. So I got one. (And then proceeded to see one on the wrist of every other person I ran into, but that's beside the point.) I had just started dating the sister of my next-door neighbor, a cute highschool senior named Rebecca. She saw the watch and got me a keyring that was a little figurine of Mickey Mouse holding a videocamera. I was majoring in Film and Video Production and I guess she was trying to impress me. And I was impressed. But then it started to snowball. Between the watch and keyring, people I knew started thinking I had a Mickey fetish and started giving me all kinds of crap. I got T-shirts, sweatshirts, underwear, posters, notebooks, pencils...anything you can think of with Mickey Mouse on it, I probably had it. I got so I hated that f***ing mouse! I ended up getting rid of everything, including the watch. Just pitched it all out. The only thing I kept was the keyring, for sentimental reasons. Finally, I lost even that. And I wasn't really sorry to see it go.

That's how it's been with the comics. I read them. I draw them for fun. I enjoy the movies based on them. But it's not who I am. I have other interests. I run. I work out at the gym. I work on my house. I read mystery novels. So, please. If there's a God up there, and he's I absolutely do not want that Spider-Man Mr. Potato Head for Christmas.

Wouldn't mind a new Mickey Mouse watch, though.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Captain Canuck

My job often requires me to sit around a lot, late at night, waiting for other people to get their acts together so I can do my work. Fortunately, it gives me time to draw or work on my other personal projects. That's happening tonight.

For some reason, I've been thinking today about the old Canadian comic book CAPTAIN CANUCK. Somehow, when we were kids, my brother Mike got his hands on a few issues of that book and brought them home. The issues he had contained early artwork by the amazing George Freeman. His stuff was very much like P. Craig Russell's work and it was a feast for the eyes. He went on to draw the Marvel miniseries JACK OF HEARTS that I was also very fond of. I don't know what happened to him but, hopefully, he's still out there producing beautiful artwork.

While I was waiting, I drew this picture of the good Captain.

My illustration style is inconsistent. I vascilate between cartoony and heavily-rendered. This image is somewhere in the middle and, I think, represents my true style. It's not the way I TRY to draw but it's how I DO draw when I just relax and let it happen. There's a lot wrong with it. Poor anatomy, small head, long neck, bad linework. I inked the face last, lost my confidence and ended up over-rendering it. Still, I like it enough to post it. I wish to hell I could draw just like Darwyn Cooke, but we can't have everything we wish for, can we?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lost Cause

I don't watch that much TV. Not enough time, I guess. So, I have to be very choosy about which shows I devote my time to. There's VERONICA MARS, a witty, smartly-written show that's basically Phillip Marlowe as a college co-ed. There's FAMILY GUY. (Mike Henry, the voice of Herbert—my favorite character—used to be a copywriter at the agency I work at now.) There's HEROES. I suppose I have to watch that, with my background. My interest flagged in the middle of the season, but they came back with a killer final few episodes that have me hooked again. (Plus, I'm a fan of Ali Larter from the Final Destination films.) THE SOPRANOS. The last couple of seasons have been a bit of a disappointment, but I'm sticking around hoping that Tony, Chris-to-fuh and Pauly get theirs. And aside from an occasional episode of MY NAME IS EARL and my nightcap of ADULT SWIM, that's about it.

Except for LOST. This show was the reason we got the DVR and the big HDTV and the surround-sound system. (Well, that and the electronic penis-envy I was having over my friend Paul's 106-inch screen TV and his sub-woofer the size of a VW.) When they announced the show, my wife was pretty excited about it and couldn't wait. She's sort of my barometer for what shows will be good and which won't. Her job requires that she keep up with the goings-on in Hollywood and LOST was on her radar early. All I knew was that comics writer Paul Dini was going to be working on it so I decided to give it a shot.

Now we're hooked. It's the only show we make a point of seeing as it airs. Partly because we don't want anything spoiled for us by overzealous co-workers but mostly because each episode is an event. That's what I loved about MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL when it was on ABC. I didn't care who was playing, Al Michaels made every game feel like the Superbowl. I felt like I was watching every game with 20 million of my best friends. With LOST, I love the ensemble cast, all the characters, their backstories. I love that gasp at the end of every episode when the big shocking cliffhanger happens. I love the little tidbits they give us that recall some other tidbit from 20 episodes ago. I love that everybody talks about it "at the watercooler" the next day. I just love LOST.

That's why I got so mad at friends and co-workers who stopped watching the show because they weren't "getting answers." They wanted to know what was going on. Now, I can see not watching a show because it's not well-written or because it's boring or even because it's repetitive. But LOST is none of these things. Basically, these people quit watching because the writers were keeping the show...interesting? When my aforementioned friend Paul threatened to stop watching the show because they weren't telling us what was going on, I told him that if "they" did tell him what was going on, there would be no point in watching the show and he'd quit anyway. Wasn't it better to have something good to watch on TV for a change? Isn't the journey at least as important as the destination? I think I got through to him because he's still watching. And he's a smart guy. But he's also the guy that can't wait until Christmas to open his presents and ends up with nothing to look forward to on Christmas morning.

And there are millions more Americans like him out there. They just can't wait. And they've been leaving in droves. So now ABC has announced that we'll only get three more seasons of LOST...and short ones at that. And, so, because of typical American impatience, we'll have one less finely-crafted drama with good characterization like LOST and probably one more show like AMERICAN IDOL, GHOST WHISPERER or WHO WANTS TO MAKE A DEAL? Shows that offer us nothing new and let you check your brain at the door before watching.

Oh, well. At least that will be one less hour a week I spend in front of the tube.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I did this drawing for a contest a while back. While I didn't win, I thought it turned out okay for an amateur and thought I'd try posting some artwork for a change. I don't draw much anymore (I lost interest after a bad portfolio review in San Diego years ago.) but I'm a compulsive doodler and when my friend Christian mentioned the contest, I jumped at the chance. Besides, I love Robert Kirkman's INVINCIBLE and thought it would be a hoot to do a crossover with his other big book, THE WALKING DEAD.

My process was different with this drawing. I usually draw freehand but I decided to try and get some dynamic poses by using the 3D program Poser. I do a lot of 3D computer graphics (mostly Lightwave) at work and I have it on my computer there. The problem with Poser is that, as with using photo reference, it tends to suck all the life out of your work. While that's fine for zombies, ha ha, it's not so great for our hero.

I had this in mind when I started and so I DID NOT trace the resulting render. I used it as if I was doing a still life. Fortunately, the Poser models I used don't really look like decomposing bodies or superheroes, so I was forced to make a lot of changes anyway. But it did give me a good starting point for my composition and helped me work out the lighting. That's always been one of my shortcomings as an artist. I envy guys like Frank Miller and Darwyn Cooke (my hero!) who make it look so easy.

Anyway, I hope you like it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Matt" rhymes with...

Holy shit. I just Googled myself (Heh. I love typing that.) to see if this blog was showing up yet (it's not) and found a picture of myself when I was 300 pounds. Eww! The picture posted at the top right of this blog is more recent and, minus a few gray hairs, more accurate. It was a shock to see my round, bearded face staring back at me after all this time. I forgot I'd posted it and have no idea how to go about un-posting it. Damn. I hope nobody I know sees that. (Christian, I'm looking in your general direction.)

Addicted to Crack

People have tried for years to get me to go to a chiropractor.

I’ve suffered from severe back pain of varying intensity my whole life. I was born with two missing disks in my lower back. That, combined with generally bad posture for decades had finally made back pain a constant, nagging factor of my existence. Prescription drugs gave me brief periods of relief but I was afraid of becoming addicted to them and gave them up. Short of surgery, an unacceptable option in my view, there was nothing anyone could do. I finally just came to accept it and had given up any hope of release.

This winter, when the discomfort became so intense that I was becoming surly, my wife suggested going to the chiropractor. It was a familiar suggestion. People had been telling me to try it for years. But I’ve always been one of those people who casually dismissed chiropractors as quacks without actually researching what they do. So I went online and did just that. Plus, I asked around at work and found a practitioner nearby that accepted our insurance. Almost before I realized it, I had an appointment for my evaluation and first adjustment.

I was pretty nervous. I’ve been “cracking” my own back for years by bending backwards over chairs or having my wife push on the sore spot. But, like most folks, all I know about chiropractic is what I’ve seen in the movies. As I sat in the waiting room, all big eyes and sweaty palms, visions of Danny Aiello twisting Tim Robbins’ head around on his neck to the sounds of celery stalks snapping in Jacob’s Ladder kept leaping into my head. I just knew I was going to leave this place on a stretcher.

I began to feel more at ease when Dr. Moran (yes, doctor!) took about a dozen x-rays of my neck and spine from every conceivable angle. He was thorough (“He’s a good man, Jeffery. And thorough.”) and obviously knew what he was doing. (Although we both had a laugh when he realized he forgot to have me remove my belt and the buckle was visible in the film.) When he showed me what my spine looked like I was horrified. I’m no doctor but, as a former art student, I’ve seen enough skeletons to know what it was supposed to look like. And it was off by a long shot. Vertebrae were twisted around in all directions. It looked like 5:00 p.m. on the L.A. freeway. The worst areas were exactly where I could have predicted…between the shoulder blades, in the neck and the lower back. I thought it was hopeless. Doc Moran just laughed and said there was nothing there he couldn’t fix.

He had me lie down on one of those exam tables with the face cushion that looks like a little toilet seat and had me breathe out. Then he carefully counted vertebrae and placed his hands where they needed to be and…WHAM! The amount of force he used to push down on my spine was frightening. I hadn’t expected it to be so brutal. And the sound! Celery stalks indeed. My mind barely had time to process what had just happened when he turned my head to the side and pushed down on the muscles just below and to the right of my neck. The cracking sound was amazing. So was the sense of relief. He repeated this on the other side, then had me roll over and folded one of my legs up to my chest, pulled the opposite arm over and lay across my lower body. POW! My lower back went off like a gunshot. The relief there was instantaneous. He again repeated this with the other side.

Then came the scariest part. He rolled me on my side, made a fist and placed his knuckles in the center of my spine and pushed me down flat on my back. Just as I was wondering what was up, he dropped down across my chest with all his weight and the cracking sound and sensation made my eyes bulge. It wasn’t painful but it wasn’t altogether pleasant either.

Finally, the part I’d been dreading. The neck. He had me lie flat on my back and sat behind me. He turned my head sideways, did the counting vertebrae thing, Placed the side of his hand against my neck and bent by head backwards over his hand. PAKOW! The sensation, almost a burning, was exhilarating. He did it again on the other side with the same result.

After going over a few posture-improving exercises, he let me go. He warned me I might feel a little sore over the next few days (I did) and that I might feel “energized.” He said that was normal. Energized was an understatement. I felt like Superman. I felt like I could move mountains and run laps around the planet. Over the next few weeks, I went back three times weekly and the cracking effect became less and less. But so did the pain. My back problems have all but disappeared. I’ve got about 30 percent more mobility in my neck and I’ve dropped 15 pounds since I started the adjustments. Running, which used to be next to impossible, has become a three-times-a-week treat and I’m finally able to work out with free weights again. Saying “I’m a new man” sounds trite but, in this case, it fits.

I’m down to one adjustment a month now and actually look forward to them like a drug addict awaiting a fix. And I guess that’s what I am.

I’m addicted to “crack”.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 no more

Howdy. My name is Matt Wieringo.

Until recently, I had my own Web site. Which was pretty dumb since I'm the only one who ever went there. Actually, that's not true. A couple of my friends from high school tracked me down there and that was the stated purpose of the site. In that case, I suppose it fulfilled it's purpose. But I gave it up for two reasons.

One. I felt stupid. I'm not famous and nobody was terribly interested in my movie reviews, links list or eBay auctions. The whole thing felt frivolous and was generally a big waste of time and money. The only thing I felt was worthwhile was the blog. It's not that I thought anybody would actually read it but rather that, occassionally, it was useful in an emotional sense. Blogging can be a cleansing, cathartic experience and mine was no exception. It's fun to have a diary that someone might actually stumble across and read. Maybe even enjoy. But who cares? The point is to write. Writing is one of the things I've always wanted to do and this is my chance. I've never been the kind of person who speaks his mind and, though I've been accused of being "intense", I'm not particularly open with my feelings. The simple way of saying it is that I'm "shy". But, when I'm writing, things come out that I would never say out loud. I think that might be interesting. We'll see.

Two. My site was called "Mafus" (pronounced MAY-fuss) is a nickname given to me by my brother, internationally reknowned comic book artist and sex symbol, Mike Wieringo. The origins of the nickname vary depending on who's telling the story but it has something to do with him not being able to pronounce "Matthew" when he was young so it came out sounding like Mah-foose. In fact, my wife calls me, affectionately, "Foose" based on that story. Anyway, about a year ago, I was contacted by a group called M.A.F.U.S. They're a Christian group that apparently flies relief missions into developing countries and hotspots all around the world. They had let their domain registration lapse and I took the opportunity to snap it up. Mafus might be a dumb name but it's become part of my identity and I wanted it for my site. Well, the folks at M.A.F.U.S. took notice and very politely, by email, requested I relinquish it so they could put it to, admittedly, much better use. I agreed and told them when the registration would expire and promised not to renew. As far as I can tell, they've yet to do anything with it. Which is fine. I don't need it anymore.

I'm not sure what I'll use this blog for. As I said, I'm not of interest to anyone yet. I'm reminded of an episode of Star Trek in which the Enterprise goes back in time and rescues a pilot whose plane is breaking up. He's seen too much and Kirk's worried about returning him to Earth. Spock informs the pilot (Captain Christopher, I believe) that he can find no record of any relevant contribution by him. I'm like that. I've yet to make my "relevant contribution." I have something in the works that will, hopefully, change that. (No, it's nothing nasty. It's a writing project.) But for now, I'm pretty much just another Captain Christopher taking up space on the Internet.

One last thing before I sign off this time. My blog is called "Ad Nauseum." That's because I work at an advertising agency. Specifically, The Martin Agency. We're responsible for, among other things, the GEICO Gecko and Cavemen and those charming UPS Whiteboard spots with the guy that looks like Steve Perry. (He's actually a very nice man named Andy and I work with him.) I am but a small cog in the machine, but I like to think what I do there makes some slight bit of difference in the quality of the work. At least, that's what I tell myself when working until 4:00 in the morning and sleeping under my desk. (I guess that's where the "Nauseum" comes from. As cool as my job is, I get sick of the long hours sometimes.) Advertising is most definitely NOT what I wanted to do with my life but it's an interesting job and it affords me a very comfortable lifestyle. It just doesn't leave much time for anything else. Like hobbies, kids, fun, Hmmm. I see lots of ideas for future posts right there.

This is gonna be fun.