Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon

The Ten Best Songs of Whatever This Decade is Called. (In my opinion)

Sooooo, What can only be described as a lousy decade is coming to a close. One of the examples of this being a lousy decade was the music industry. The dynamics of the industry changed so much as the decade rolled along. The one thing that didn't change was the music was dominated by manufactured pop with no soul.

Speaking of soul, the decade continued the decline of R&B to the point that a casual listen to much of the R&B seemed no different than any standard pop, Even country. It doesn't speak well of the decade that the best selling album was from the Beatles and the second one was by N'SYNC, An album from 2000.

But there were exceptions. Now, I'm in my forties so I'm not one to be an arbiter of taste for music. Yes, I'm locked into my 60's, 70's and 90's pop/rock world with some 80's thrown in the mix but I try to keep my ear out for songs that sound good to me.

The problem was how does a man my age find new music? The radio stations are so pigeonholed these days, It's hard to find one listenable that would play new music. Both MTV and VH1 has abandoned playing music videos almost all together.

Then the disappearance of record stores in which one can flip through new releases (Just at the time the stores gave us the option to listen to it before buying) and hearing it over the loudspeakers so the options get limited.

So my list compiles songs I became exposed to by sources like word of mouth, karaoke, TV commercials, Movie soundtracks, and free single downloads from I-Tunes.

I did a previous list a few years ago. I've adjusted the selections. I'm eliminating any repeats of musical acts, Re issues and cover songs. It's very white male centric but I'm a white male, So there you go.

In no particular order:

1.Hang Me Up To Dry- Cold War Kids.
This I heard as a free download from I-Tunes. I grew to love this song through shuffle mode. Somewhat retro in sound, very spooky I love it.

2.Hella Good- No Doubt. I was a mild fan of No Doubt in the 90's but missed this song mainly because I hate the title. A woman used to sing this at karaoke and she was pretty good. Very funky, Very danceable, without too much from proto-Lady Gaga whiny vocals.

3.Last Night-the Strokes.
One of the few videos on the list that I first saw on MTV, 2 that is. Someone I knew was recommending music of this decade to me when I said all new music sucked. I gave it a fair listen and loved this song. Plus this song was one of the few of this decade I was listening to when I was getting laid. Good memories with that one.

4.I Turn My Camera On- Spoon. I heard this song from a car commercial. I didn't buy the car but I did by the song with a little Googling. I love a good falsetto and the simple but funky bass line.

5.W.A.N.D.-Flaming Lips.
Another song I heard on a commercial. Didn't buy the computer it was selling but indeed I bought the song. I'm a fan of the Flaming Lips, especially in their presentation.

6.Crazy-Gnarls Barkley. A rare time I caught a video on MTV and loved it from the get go. The best video of the decade in my opinion, By far. The song is great, One of the rare R&B songs that questions my belief that good R&B music has been dead since 1977.

7.Seven Nation Army-White Stripes.
If I allowed multiple songs from one act on this list, Jack White would take about 7. He's my favorite music act since the heyday of the Seattle scene of the early 90's. A genius. So when it came to narrowing it to one song by Jack White, I had to choose this one. It's the most influential song by him. It's been covered by many acts including the Flaming Lips and Audioslave. I first heard it when I pressed the play button on my CD player the day I bought this album in 2003. The only song on the list that I did so. Took me back to my teenage years.

8.Chelsea Dagger-Fratellis.
I've been a fan of the Fratellis for a few years and found this one when it played on a Amstel Light commercial. Great chorus with some tricky verse gymnastics. A future barroom sing along. I hope.

9.You Know I'm No Good- Amy Winehouse. I downloaded the song free from I-Tunes and promptly forgot about it. I saw her video for "Rehab" a number of times during its rotation peak and liked it but man does she frighten me. So, A little while later the show Madmen was ready to premiere and used You Know I'm No Good as a mood piece and combined with the graphics of the show and the anticipation of the show's premiere I started giving it a second look. Old style R&B from the 50's sung by a Jewish white girl from England. Fantastic production.

the song was featured in an I-Tunes ad and yeah I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Love the wispy vocals and the banjo build up.

Honorable Mention:

- A Jack White side project that expands on the minimum sound of the White Stripes. Very retro 70's.

Gone, Gone, Gone -Robert Plant with Alison Krause.
I didn't want to include musical acts from previous decades especially when it was 30+ years ago. Still, This inspired and unexpected team up produced an album of standards with amazing production. It's the best post Led Zeppelin album Robert Plant has done and this song is a good representation of it.

Love Song-Sara Barellos.
Normally I don't like whiny female crooning but this song moves me. Straight forward piano pop in a waltz structure. It's not quite up the production values of 1234 and therefore it's not on my top ten.It's catchy, I wish the women I see doing karaoke would sing it.

Tears From a Gun-Black Ghosts.
A spooky song by a British electronic duo that makes for a great night time driving song, especially when it's raining.

Sexy Back-Justin Timberlake.
I'm not a fan of his music but I respect his talent. This song is the closest to a song by him I like. It's a great mix that inspired me to check out Timberland because he was getting all the credit for the song's success. Big mistake, this song is the exception to everything else Timberland put his hands on, Including Chris Cornell.

Okay, That's my list. I encourage any debate an examples that you might think is better.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Day in New York City 2009.

There is one thing I like to do and that is to visit New York City right before Christmas. I hadn't done it the last two years because of my money and job situation. I did my usual announcement of of the blue that caught everyone off guard hence I was only able to meet up with my friend Martin. This worked out well though because it gave me ample opportunity to do what the heck I want to do.

I started by going to Macy's. I did the ol' toy and Christmas thing and enjoyed taking in the atmosphere of old school department stores wooden escalators included.

After that I bought a Peter Bagge comic book and ate lunch with Martin at an old school coffee shop. Since it was after noon, I had a beer.

After leaving Martin I toured an old Episcopalian church and took in the old school ambiance. I then did the usual Lord and Taylor's window display but added the experience of actually going into the store itself. It reminded me why I never shop there.

I continued to walk up 5th Avenue as per tradition and wandered into the main branch of the NYC library. They didn't have much in shows at the moment but they did have a nice tree display.

Behind the library lies Bryant Park. They have recently set up a Christmas tradition of store similar to Europe's Christkindlmarkts and a skating rink called the Pond. I haven't skated in nearly twenty years but I was game. I really enjoyed my time on the ice. I can skate a little but I still haven't learned to stop properly. I drank some beer by the warmth of the fire outside in a bar called the Southwest.

I was buzzed when I wandered to Grand Central Station and it's laser display on the ceiling. there is a transit museum that my nephew Sean would love to see if he ever gets the chance.

I wandered into the former Pan Am building and enjoyed a choir of high school students. I did the Rockefeller Center and went into my SECOND church of the day. St. Patricks of course.

I wandered up 5th ave. to FAO Schwartz took in the toys and did Blooimingdales when my feet finally got too tired.

I then went home. I was fortunate that day to not have to wait long for the bus.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon

I had to do this a second time because Flash punked out on me. I get the feeling something might have gotten lost in the translation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pipe Dreams History Continues "Holding On To The Dream"

So, It was 1997 and I quit my job at the bicycle factory and has gotten what I thought was a great opportunity to become a digitizer at an embroidery company in South Seattle. I was still new with computers in particularly Photoshop but I had worked my way into a position through my enthusiasm. It didn't pay much but I saw this as the ultimate opportunity to develop my skills with computer graphics. this in turn may help me develop discipline with my artwork.

There was a problem. I had to learn a complicated program called Compucon (sp?) that was the Photoshop of digitizing. The boss knew I didn't know it and I was supposed to be trained by the guy I was replacing. the guy didn't see that as his mission and left before training me. This left me to train myself and since no one else at the place knew anything about it, I was left to my own devices.

One of my duties included working the embroidery machines whenever the morning embroiderer was out with the "Brown Bottle Flu" which turned out to be quite often. I had to learn this skill on the fly too. Needless to say I never was able to balance this out successfully enough to satisfy the owner, Who knew next to nothing about the actual workings of the operation he ran. The one skill he had in spades was knowing how much money he was spending for an in house digitizer and felt it wasn't worth it. So, after a mere three months I was out the door and out of luck.

That would continue to be the trend with Pipe Dreams. I was starting to use my computer to work on my corrections and coloring my work. It was fun but my putting it on the internet wasn't getting the results I was hoping. I still was submitting it to the syndicates. I was getting more personal replies but none that would say that I was to be the next comic strip sensation.

My work was starting to be less "Gen X" and more gag oriented. I was thinking about giving up. I hadn't thought of any other "killer" idea and after getting fired from another job my self esteem was low and I desperately was looking for a job, any job.

I got that job. a job I should have tried for three years before. It was at a restaurant called Billy McHales. The pay was quite good, It was close to home and I was able to leave my work behind when I got home.

Back to Pipe Dreams. I didn't change it much with this current set of strips. It was a little less sloppy than the previous set. However it was lacking some spark. I was now 30 and I didn't achieve my goal in getting syndicated by that age. My relationship with my girlfriend was entering its 5th year and I needed to do right by her. She was experiencing her own job troubles herself which I used as an excuse to delay marriage or breakup.

Treading water, The story of my life.

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What The Heck is "Pipe Dreams" ?

Many of my best friends are familiar with my internet comic strip "Pipe Dreams". However, Many people don't know how long I've been at it. It was intended to be a newspaper strip that was gonna make me rich. It turned out not to be the case. I recently had put together a rough history of my workings that I haven't completely finished.

It's written in the usual Scannish gibberish but can be an entertaining read. Anyway, I wanted to provide the links to what I previously wrote.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX

Part X

Part XI

Part XII


Part XIV

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Hard Sell

Before I get to the meat of the post I want to make things perfectly clear:

I Hate The New York Yankees!!

I hate them to the point of irrationality. Everything about them. The conservative attitudes regarding how they're allowed to present themselves to the public. No beards, No personal forms of expression, Heck they don't have their names on the back of their uniforms. And the fact they have retired almost every good number, It's hard to tell players apart.

I hate the way the Yankees have been able to hold the city of NYC hostage for tax payer's money to build them an unnecessary new stadium that would replace an icon of baseball history. They got a city owned ball field given to them at no expense. This left one of the poorest neighborhood in the country without a play field for the kids to use. More important was millionaire players to have a nicer clubhouse and the rich fans have waiter service, I guess.

This should have been a curse in the making. After all, a guy who wasn't allowed to bring a goat into Wrigley Field has doomed the Cubs from even being in the World Series since WWII. A bad trade kept the Red Sox from winning the World Series for 86 years.

Instead it did nothing of the sort. Everything went right with their signings. C.C.'s fatness wasn't a factor, Often injured Burnett went the whole season uninjured, and Texiera who is on his fourth team in less than three years, somehow was able to achieve harmony on his new team. I guess he needed the big money to be a good teammate.


Anyway, This year I wanted to see both of the new ballparks that opened in New York city. I went to "New Shea", The Mets new ballpark (Built with far less tax dollars in the Mets own parking lot) twice before the Mets collapsed in June. What gods were offended by this practice?

Anyway, I wanted to go to the new Yankee Stadium but only if they were playing the Mariners. The Mariners are my second favorite team, I had got to know when I lived in Seattle. Ken Griffey was back on the team and Ichiro is still, in my opinion the most exciting player in baseball. That was why I went to Yankee Stadium. To see the Mariners.

I made the mistake of ordering my tickets online, for both teams. In Seattle when I frequently went to the Mariners ballpark, I'd just got to the ballpark and the many Mariners stores that were opened in the area.

I don't have the easy access to the Mets and Yankees ballparks to do this and as far as I know neither team has stores that allow for direct purchases in New Jersey. So, I got my tickets online, paid the "whatever" fees, and attended the games.

This meant that I would get e-mail messages from both teams promoting some cheesy products over the course of the season. I don't buy much baseball products, I left that behind when I grew up. So in June when the Mets were on their tailspin, It was pathetic to be asked to buy some products that basically was contradicted by the Mets performance.

Later the Yankees kept e-mailing me to buy Yankee products that showed my loyalty to a team I can't stand. Spam is annoying enough but to be bombarded with reminders on how the Yankees were succeeding in buying yet another championship was too much. I passionately rooted for teams like the Angels, Twins and the Phillies. These are teams I would never root for otherwise.

Anyway, When it became clear the Yankees would win the whole thing, the e-mails became more frequent. I deleted it (unread of course) in trying to ignore the travesty of the Yankees winning another championship and listening to the fans who think the Yankees are the second coming, or in some cases the first coming of the messiah.

Anyway, Today, I, Stephen T. Scanlon, got a phone call. "Unavailable" was on my screen. I don't answer "Unavailable" calls. I let it go. Sure, enough a message was left. Oh, my! Who or what could the message be from?

A friend who doesn't like to reveal his number?

Somebody looking for money on an unpaid bill?

My workplace asking for me to work on my day off?

My auto dealership looking for me to spend more money?

I dread what would be in the message but saw no reason to delay the inevitable. So, who was it that called me? Why, Elliot from the New York Yankees! He addressed me by name and asked me to call back. What would they want with me?

Am I to believe that the Yankees are that hard up for money to call me on my own phone to sell me products? Shit, All the people who've been wearing 26 championship clothes, flying 26 championship flags and riding cars with 26 championship bumper stickers for the last 9 years will have to buy new products. That should be able to fund new nations alone.

So, why am I getting a phone call from the Yankees? I bought one ticket, ONE!, the cheapest one at that! It was when the Mariners were in town. I'm a fan of the M's and guess what? They don't play the Mets on an annual basis. I had to go to Yankee Stadium to see the M's in New York.

I WAS curious about the new Yankees ballpark and came out very unimpressed with it. It looks the same on the field but the rest of it is bland and already looking worn. Two championship signs were taken, and all the "Yankee Tradition" splayed all around was obnoxious so I don't plan on going back. It's the least appealing of the new ballparks built in the last 15 years.

Is it possible I'm a Seattle transplant that wanted to see his Mariners in NYC? Does that not enter the head of Yankee management that people sometimes go to other people's park to root root root for the AWAY team. It's not only the Yankees that have this phenomenon.

Needless to say I'm not calling back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mini Rant

What's the deal with people who back their cars into parking spaces? How is that better and more efficient than just driving into the parking space and backing out of the space?

Now I know many of the people who do this own mini-vans and Freaked out SUVs with tinted windows and think that it's safer to back in first and drive out forward. They say that it's because they can't see when they back out into an area that is far larger than a tight parking space. Yeah, that makes sense.

No one, And I mean no one has ever back into a marked parking space successfully the first time. When I'm behind some one who backs into a space, I'm guaranteed to wait twice as long waiting for them. Must do a number on their car if it's stick shift.

Now, I understand the appeal of driving forward out of a parking space. I try to find two parking spaces end to end where I can drive in and drive out. Easy in and easy out.

The other day though, I saw some one who was driving around the parking lot. She drove through the two parking spaces only to drive out and yes, BACK into the space that was next to the one she went through! She took THREE times to successfully back her SUV into the space.

Yeah, I spend too much time being baffled by people's behavior.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Overview of My Friends at The Wedding Celebration.

I can't stop thinking about the day my good friend Miguel married the lovely Jennifer. It was the best time I had in so long I am still beaming about it.

Years ago, the late 80's, I was at SVA in New York City. Most of the students were commuters from the surrounding boroughs and New Jersey. A fair amount of us on the other hand had live in the "dorms" at Sloane House. It was there a group of us had met and developed a friendship that still stands. In my case it's the strongest bond I have with anyone who is not a blood relative.

In a nutshell, from my perspective on how we developed our friendship. Miguel (Mig) and Stephen (Pro) casually knew each other a year before I arrived on the scene. the year I arrived I met Al. Al was reading a comic book I liked and I brushed off a pretty girl to talk to him about it. Al and I walked around the hallways of Sloane House and spotted a hand drawn "Bill The Cat" poster on a door. We attracted the attention of the man who drew it, Pro. Later I met Mig when I used to talk to a cute woman who was from Puerto Rico. Occasionally a slim man with thick hair and a thicker beard would talk to her in Spanish. That was Mig. My first impression was that he was mean and I was moving on his women. I had no grasp on Spanish at all at that point.

We bonded on music, classic rock mostly. We'd hang out as a group by this time with other people who we lost touch with over the years. Meantime, I was getting to express my growing liberal views. I grew up in a conservative town and always felt out of place. At SVA, in 1980's New York City I was in heaven. One of the pet liberal causes in 1985-1986 was apartheid. I went to an anti-apartheid meeting at SVA because wellllll, a girl I had a crush on was from South Africa and it was a cause close to her heart and I followed her to the meeting like an eager puppy. I met another person who was born in South Africa at the meeting, His name is Sean and we became fast friends despite the fact that it would be the last time I would attend any more meetings. I'd like to say that the people were too radical at the meeting but it was really because the boycott list was huge and involved pretty much every food product I bought and any alternative that I could switch to.

So I had this group of friends at Sloane House and another group of friends at my SVA foundation class. I went back and forth between the two of them. By the summer break I was solid friends with Al, Pro, Sean and Mig. During the summer we hung out a little. Mostly meeting up in New York. One person I met was Delfin (Del), a super talented cartoonist who had his work Libra published that summer. Sean had moved to Brooklyn like many who felt that Sloane House was merely a stepping stone to enjoying NYC. The draw of Sloane House would be strong however.

My second year, (Remember this is the Scanman telling the tale.) Al and Pro were close enough to share a studio room together and the same went with Mig and me. A new group of people moved into Sloane House. A group of freshmen came in and gravitated to Pro, including a woman he would soon date. Mike (Korn) was hanging around too. Meantime, a transfer student a few years older than us moved in too. His name is Joe. Our group was large enough to break into two factions. One side was Scan, Mig and Sean (who crashed in our studio room). The other was Korn, Pro, Joe with Al being interchangeable between the two groups. It was the ladies' men on one side with the rest of us on the other side. Al was moving over to the other side. Del was in Queens.

I had found part of a movie marquee sign for the film "52 Pick-UP" and hung it in my room. It was the letters PIC, and it became the symbol of our group even though to this day we haven't come up with a decent backronym for it. So we had a name, now we need new members.

My third year at Sloane House 1987-1988 started with Mig and I in trouble with Sloane House for having Sean living in our shared studio. It was against the rules and we risked being kicked out of Sloane House. We had a "trial" and Mig and I had probation but Sean was expelled from Sloane House for a year. After spending time in Brooklyn, Sean took off for Hong Kong to regroup his batteries. Good thing too, He would meet his future wife Sofia there.

Meanwhile, I noticed that a cute woman was moving things into the room next door to mine. I introduced myself and was disappointed when she said it was her brother that was moving in. He introduced himself as Mike but he said we can call him Bucky. He would learn to regret that he introduced himself as that. He was friends with Martin who I didn't get to know for quite a few years.

So, Mig and Pro move in together in Manhattan after they graduated. Soon after Bucky moved in after another roommate moved out. Al moved back home and commuted his last year while Sean moved back to Sloane House. Korn and Joe moved already so the large Sloane House group was splitting up.

Mig, Pro, and Mig moved from 29th street to 22nd street.

After graduating Sean and I moved to Jersey City to be room mates. Sean's girlfriend from Hong Kong moved to the US. They would get married in a private ceremony and moved into their own place.

I took a position as a cartoonist/publisher's assistant and crashed at various places for the next year.

Pro, Mig and Buck moved to a large place in Jersey City.

I moved to Seattle by myself after unsuccessfully convincing Pro and Buck to do the same.

I lost track of Joe and Korn by this point. I didn't know Martin yet.

Al moved in with Mig, Bucky and Pro. I lost track of Delfin.

I got to know Martin on frequent visits to the east coast.

Pro and Al moved into their own place. Buck and Mig still lived in the same place.

I moved to Federal Way, WA with my new girlfriend.

Pro met a woman who would move in with Al and Pro.

Joe came back in the scene opening the Liquid Lounge in Hoboken, Korn got married to Beth moved to Hoboken in some sort of order. Sean had his first son, Ian.

Buck moved to San Francisco, Al moved out of Pro's and moved back to Mig's place.

Al and Mig moved to a new place in Jersey City.

Sean and Sofia moved to Montclair.

Sean, Buck, Pro, Mig, Korn and I attended a wedding of our friend Heather in Vermont.

Al and Mig had a falling out and moved to separate places.

Pro got married for the first time.

I moved back to Seattle after a devastating breakup.

Al moved back upstate.

I reestablished contact with Delfin.

Sean moved to Canada with his family including his new son, Justin. Korn and Beth had their first child, a daughter.

Joe closed the Liquid Lounge. Korn moved to his own house in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Pro got divorced.

Mig buys his own place.

Pro got married to Huly on the sly. I meet a new woman. I lost touch with Joe again but he buys a place in Asbury Park anyway. I'm not aware of Martin's activities.

Sean moved back to the USA.

I moved back to New Jersey to follow my girlfriend. Two days later, Pro moves to Wisconsin. Korn and Beth have their second child, a son.

Bucky marries Diane on the sly and moves outside of San Francisco.

Martin buys his own place in Brooklyn.

Pro moves to LA to pursue an acting career. I had a not so devastating breakup except financially.

I re-establish contact with Joe. Delfin marries on the sly.

Pro moved back to Wisconsin and pursuing his acting career on a more casual basis. Mig marries Jennifer at a festive ceremony that inspired this rambling rant.

So the latest updates:

Scan is single and lives in Union, New Jersey

Pro is married and lives primarily in Madison, Wisconsin.

Mig is married and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Al is single and lives in Monroe, New York. He wasn't at the wedding.

Sean is married with two boys in Montclair, New Jersey.

Joe is single and living in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Korn is married with two kids and living in Bloomfiled, New Jersey.

Buck is married and back living in San Fransisco, California.

Martin is single and living in Brooklyn, New York.

Delfin is married and living in Astoria, Queens, New York.

That's it in a nutshell, A coconut shell.