Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eulogy For Gey-Gey

My grandma passed this weekend and I wrote the eulogy. I am reprinting it for those who knew her that couldn't make it to the funeral.

                In a moment of emotional candor, moments after hearing the news of Gey’s passing, I blurted out an offer to write and read the eulogy. It felt like a good idea at the time; as the grandchild who trekked west to Hollywood to become a writer it seemed natural that I provide final story in the book of Loretta Barry Kirshner.  I sat down to write, wanting this to be the greatest eulogy ever written, not out of a sense of pride but to honor one of the strongest women I’ve ever met.
                As I started making notes and forming ideas my thoughts quickly began to spin out of control.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I had acquired and the scope of the life I am attempting to honor. After all, how does one summarize eighty-one years of life in less than fifteen minutes?
A good place to start would be to mention the 45 year marriage she sustained. Loretta, or Gey as I call her (a name that stuck because as I child I was unable to correctly pronounce the word KEYS, an item she often handed me when I was crying but I digress…) loved Myron (Poppy) enough to stick by his side for almost half a century as his wife, friend and business partner.  They shared an office and a home; and amazingly never experienced couple burn-out. Quite the opposite; she seemed to thrive at the prospect of tending to him.
                In fact a common thread in the loom of Loretta’s life was her will to provide care and love to those around her. She had a heart three sizes bigger than the tiny frame that contained it. This isn’t hyperbole, it’s fact, proven by her uncanny ability to bounce back from OPEN HEART SURGERY and make a triumphant appearance at her granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah. A friend of mine recalled this memory when informed of her passing, commenting that he had never seen such a tiny woman command that much power upon entering a room. That defines the Gey that I remember; A woman driven by dedication to her family, A woman whose fearless optimism could help her over-come a myriad of personal tragedies.
                For most of us the death of a loved one; father, sibling, husband, child – can prove strong enough to crush you under its weight.  Gey experience all of these losses. Her father she lost at a young age. Years later her first husband and the father of my Mother, would pass away. Four years later she lost her eldest daughter, Sheryl. I’m sure that many of you in this room can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to lose one loved one let alone four.  Years later her Mother and brother would also pass away. There is enough soul-shattering loss in any of those scenarios that I often marveled how she could be so happy all the time. That was the remarkable part about Loretta: she soldiered on, chin up, shoulders straight.
                Her determination to, not only live life, but live it well and her refusal to let the weight of her tragedy drown her in a pool of her own tears was perhaps her most admirable quality.  When something goes wrong in my life she’s my go-to thought is usually of her: If she can persevere through life, so can I. The thought of what she’s been through and survived fills me with strength when I feel weak.
It’s not my goal to dwindle in the swamp of her personal loss, quite the opposite; I plan on celebrating this amazing woman by reminding you that there was more power and chuztpa in that five-foot-fire-cracker that most of us have our whole lives. This is the woman who, when asked to raise her legs in an odd position during childbirth told the doctor, “if you were anyone but my doctor I’d slap your face for making a suggestion like that.”
                Because, you see, the loss that peppered her life never tripped her up. It didn’t stop her from raising a wonderful daughter (hi Mom). In fact her resolve and vigor still pumps though my mother’s veins.  Cindee, I know that Gey could not have been prouder of how you turned out and if that’s not evident it should be when you remember how much she loved us, your kids. If you hadn’t been the fabulous mother to us that you were, you best believe your mother would have stepped in to set you straight.  Remember one thing during this obviously trying time:   She didn’t cry herself to sleep every night and she didn’t hate the world. She lived as hard and fast as any person can and the best way to memorialize her is to continue in her footsteps.
                She traveled. Europe and China. Alaska and Mexico. From Egypt to Europe and everywhere between, she saw the world. She met the people and learned about their cultures. She worked hard and played hard, always looking at the world as a wondrous place where you can experience many amazing things. Cynicism wasn’t even in her vocabulary (well it was, she was great at crossword puzzles) but she was never a cynic.  Up until her dying day she held onto life and even at her lowest she could find something to smile about, even if only a fleeting thought.
I looked up quotes on death and loss, thinking I could inject one here and none seemed more appropriate than the following:
As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death – Leonardo Da Vinci
                When she wasn’t traveling here or abroad (always making sure to bring me home a present) she made South Florida her home, never more than twenty minutes away from whatever house we lived in at the time. As a kid she was a second Mom to me, which is mostly a good thing (unless you have two mom’s nagging at once then it’s like being stuck between two blaring car alarms).
The amount of love in her heart is indefinable, especially when it came to her grandkids.  My sisters learned to play Gin Rummie and the joys of the sleepover.  She would take them on school trips, in spite of the pacemaker that had been installed months prior. She taught them how to play with jewelry and took them on countless trips to the mall.
                In many ways she was the ideal grandma, the textbook definition if you will; she baked, could sew, would listen and only give advice when asked, could keep a secret from your parents but always encouraged you to tell them anyway. She played the card game “War” with me for hours on end. We would go on long walks and tell each other stories. Her house always smelled like her soap and Windex and she never got mad when you wanted to stay in the video arcade at the mall for just “five more minutes”.
                Specifically to me, she was more than the best grandma ever. She was my rock of Gibraltar. She believed in me as much as my parents and, at times, way more than I believed in myself. I can remember her picking me up from school, after getting into a bit of trouble and instead of being mad with me, she was furious with my teacher for giving, “a good kid such a hard time.”
                When I came to her at the age of 20, asking for three grand to start a comic book company so I could be a writer, she said yes without hesitation. She found an attorney, kept the books in order and helped me publish the first two comics of my career.  In this specific case I owe her endless thanks. It was from that initial 3,000 investment that I have been able to work in an industry I love for over ten years now.
                The thing of it is, she was always trying to encourage me to follow my dreams. I can vividly remember a time as a child when, like many weekends, I was staying at her house. She came rushing into the back bedroom I called my second room, and excitedly informed me that there was a rainbow in the sky and that we were going to find the end of it. She pulled me to the car before I could protest and we began to drive. The CB radio she kept in her car crackled to life as Poppy’s voice boomed from the speaker, “any luck on your end?”
                Wait, I thought to myself, HE’S out looking for the end of the rainbow too? Surely if these two responsible adults were out here in the middle of their day they must know something about the actual end of the rainbow.
                They talked back and forth on the CB’s while we drove. He would say he was getting closer and we would laugh because clearly we were getting closer as well. Eventually the sun shifted, as it is known to do, and the rainbow faded away. I remember making some kind of comment about what a waste of time it was to chase the rainbow, to which she kindly replied, “If you had fun and enjoyed yourself then that’s all you can ask for.”
                It wasn’t until I had to eulogize her that I realized what that day was really all about. Aside from being incredibly spontaneous and silly she had a purpose to show me that ANYTHING is possible and that even if you don’t succeed sometimes the trying part is just as fun. It was how she lived her life, constantly moving forward; never concerned about what happens when you fail, because the fun is in the effort.
I found an extremely appropriate quote online, by a poet named Patricia Clifford that I want to leave you all with: THE WORK WILL WAIT WHILE YOU SHOW THE CHILD THE RAINBOW, BUT THE RAINBOW WON’T WAIT WHILE YOU WORK.
 And finally, I have a small request on behalf Gey/Loretta/Lori/Gey-Gey  or whatever else you may have called her: go out today, after you finish wiping your tears and if only for one day live life as hard as you can. . Remember that all tragedy can be overcome and that sometimes chasing the rainbow is more exciting than finding the end of it because once you find the end, the game is over.
Thank you for letting me ramble. I love you, Gey-Gey, more.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Where Did You Go Wizard Magazine?

Wizard Magazine closed its doors last month. 

Here is a tribute to the magazine I co-wrote with my buddy Dave Kushner. He did the art. It says everything we wanted to say (in 3 pages) about our best Wizard memories. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Going Back....(and to the left)

Hit by a rush of nostalgia this morning so excuse me if this post meanders.

I started the day furious at my roommate and his alarm clock's seemingly endless cycles of SNOOZE. I have been getting up early for the past few weeks for work and today I didn't need to be up until about 6:45, so when the alarm starts to go off at 5:30 and continues to go off every ten minutes until 6am I tossed and turned and steamed until I quiet literally exploded out of bed, into the shower and out the door to the office.

Being about an hour and a half early for work I had plenty of time to browse through my Google Reader new feeds and sip coffee. Which is what I was doing when I came across this:


 If you DIDN'T click on the link it is a picture of a little boy's head with four staples in it. Under the picture is the following:

First ER trip for the boy. 4 staples in his head. He was a trooper.

This, of course, took me back a few years to the time with my ex-girlfriend and her daughter. These were wonderful times overall and although things didn't work out the way I hoped I still have a wealth of happy memories from this time.

One of these memories, happy in retrospect but scary at the time, was of our own trip to the ER.

The kid, Faye, was playing with my sisters on my Mom's couch. Everyone was gathered around the kitchen/living room having conversation. If I remember correctly my Mom was washing dishes with my ex, Ali. The sister were entertaining the little one on the couch and I think I was sitting across from them watching TV.

Like most accidents involving kids no one was prepared for the sudden shift in mood as Faye went from happily bouncing on the couch (which was far to close to the edge of the kitchen counter for an accident NOT to occur). to slamming her head back into the counter, to crying before any of us realized what happened.

Immediately she wailed for her mommy. Ali ran around to the kid and scooped her up. Held her close and motioned with her eyes for me to take a look at the damage.

I moved in to examine even as my own Mom was grabbing towels and ice, while my sisters sat shocked on either end of the couch. The wound looked worse than it actually was, which I've found to be true of most head wounds.

The back of her head had struck the counter splitting the skin open and bleeding like hell, which looked all the worse as it matted Faye's platinum blonde hair. Alison was looking at the wound as well when my Mom came over and put the wadded kitchen towel on it and said to Ali, "Keep pressure until you get to the hospital."

At that point I was already heading for the door. The kid, who only moments ago had been laughing and carefree sniffled the entire ride, sounding not in pain so much as in shock that her fun-time could end so abruptly painful.

This has always been the worst part of seeing a kid get hurt for me. That moment right before it happens when it seems like they feel invincible to the world, not yet mindful of how delicate their own bodies can be.

So we arrived at the ER and fill out forms and wait around  for so long that Faye actually cycles through the pain back into happy kid mode and we have to keep her calm and on Ali's lap so as not to aggravate the wound.

Finally a nurse calls us into a room and asks a million questions in that annoying, disaffected, I-have-seen-it-all-voice that I feel is laced with contempt and lacking any empathy, something crucial to good bedside manner. As Ali describes what happened the nurse roughly pulls the kitchen towels away and moves the bloody blonde hairs to get a good look.  Faye begins to cry again.

The nurse mumbles somethings about not needing stitches and reaches into a drawer pulling out a staple gun. If you've ever seen one of these things you know there is no exaggeration in that description. It is literally the same size and shape as the office supply. The only difference is that is seems to be made of a white plastic instead of the metal most staple guns are made of.

The nurse tells Alison to hold Faye close and moves in with the gun.

Mother and daughter cling to each other as the impassive nurse puts three staples into the back of the three-year-old's head: CLIP! CLIP! CLIP!

It's over. The nurse gives us a bill and some printed instructions. Says to wash the blood out with water but no soap and then to leave it alone for a few days. She gives Faye a sticker or a lollipop or something and walks out.

I don't think the kid even knew what hit her. Alison was shaken.

I would have been more rocked by the whole event had i not lived through similar situations with my younger sisters. They had both had mishaps at home as little girls and needed to take a trip to the ER for a stitch or twelve.

Not sure why I felt the need to tell this story now but there you go. Still think about both those girls (Ali and Faye) but now only with a misty fondness that can be best compared to that feeling of regret you have when you wake up from a really awesome dream; It was a wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking, time but not something you could ever recreate or get back to no matter how hard you might try.

Anyway, first time parents, the moral of the story is: injuries tend to hurt and scar parents more than the children they've happened to. Don't panic. React but be calm.

Also maybe just keep a staple gun handy and save yourself the ER trip.



Monday, November 29, 2010


Finally I can live up to the title of this blog, I have WRITTEN!

Not only have I written (I actually write a lot) but a thing I wrote is COMING TO A STORE NEAR YOU! Now I will give you a moment to collect yourselves.


Composed? Good because now we need to get into the nitty-gritty, the fun stuff that we have been building to since the day I launched this pathetic excuse for a blog. There is some information I need to impart and a few pleas that I must make but rest assured it will all be accompanied by pretty pictures to look at. Like this:


What you see is some of the very first color pages I’ve gotten in of a book I co-wrote called, “Pixies”, which was announced today as officially available for pre-order from Arcana Comics via Diamond Distribution.

Once again let me repeat that oh so crucial information:

PIXIES – an original graphic novel

Can be ordered using: DIAMOND ORDER # NOV10 0715

.....SHIPS JAN 2011!

I am beyond excited for this book, more so by the fact that the art and coloring look extensively better than I could ever have hoped for.

I know what you’re thinking as you read this, something along the lines of, sure you wrote a comic and the art looks great but is it any good? Does it have a plot and character that I’ll actually give a shit about?

To this I say, “Of course it does! Now stop thinking in italics and dig on this…”

Our story follow two of the fellows depicted in the above page. The guy in his boxers by the sink is our human protagonist, Joe. As you can see Joe has had nothing but bad luck his entire life. Anything that can go wrong always does, but Joe doesn’t let it get him down. He never assumes for a moment it could be anything other than plain old bad luck. What he doesn’t realize is that our pixie protagonist, Sam, has dedicated his life to making sure that black cloud follows Joe forever.


You see Joe did something in his past that caused him the unlucky fate of the Pixie Curse, condemning him to a life of pain humiliation and failure.

However, all of this changes the day Joe catches Sam the Pixie under a glass in his kitchen and demands the curse be lifted. Almost instantly his luck changes for the better.

Now Joe has a chance to win the heart of the girl of his dreams but only if he can do it before Sam escapes his drinking-glass prison and alerts the rest of the pixies.

It’s a whopper of a book, over 90 pages, and that serves as the set up to what myself and the other writers involved (creator and Arcana owner, Sean O’Reilly as well as co-writer Robert Olmedo) hope to be a fun and hilarious book that comic fans can read to their kids.

Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest with this tiny glimpse into the world of Pixies. There is a strong possibility that a much larger company will be helping us get this book into Border and Barnes and Noble but until I have that info  and because at heart I’m a huge comic book nerd, I would like to request you find your LOCAL COMIC SHOP (which you can do by clicking on those words) and brave the perhaps intimidating surroundings, muster up to the proprietor and (politely) ask to pre-order a copy of the PIXIES HARDCOVER FROM ARCANA COMICS. At which point he will likely not know what your talking about but that’s okay because you’re capable and always come prepared and you’ve brought along the following information:

PIXIES – an original graphic novel


.....SHIPS JAN 2011!

After the comic shop guy acknowledges he will order you a copy (which helps not just you but also others because usually he’ll order more than just one and stick the copies you don’t by out onto the shelf for others to stumble into), ask you how to contact you when your copy arrives and send you on your way.


As we get closer to the release of the book I will post a lettered preview of the book either here or somewhere just as easily accessible. Thanks in advance for reading or even being curious. Certainly pass this blog link along to anyone who you think might enjoy these types of things.


   From the Compound,

                           Shawn D.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Please Watch the Linked Video

My roommate is an actor. Here he acts as the Russian kid who invented Chat Roulette. It's funny to me. I think you will agree....please watch and pass it around the webs.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Seekrit Projects, Sims and Slacking Off or "How I Wasted A Weekend Playing Video Games and Last Minute Lettering"

It's Monday.

It's Monday?!?

Fuck. My weekend flew by and looking back I'm not sure where it went.

That isn't true. I know exactly where it went....to a town called Sunset Valley.

I've been introduced to the world of the SIMS and I have to say I think I have a problem. For years I've heard about these games (mostly from my two younger sisters, HI GIRLS) but never paid them much mind until this weekend.

SIMS 3 was downloaded on Saturday night and by Sunday night at 9pm I had populated an entire household with computer-generated people whose lives are more involved and exciting than my own. This isn't an admission of my pathetic life (actually my life has been highly entertaining and busy over the last few months) but more an admiring of the programmers ability to create a world that I was totally immersed in after only fifteen minutes of game-play. If you've played this game before then I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir but if you haven't and you have a proclivity to these sorts of time-wasters I HIGHLY recommend giving it a shot.

What I SHOULD have been doing all weekend is lettering/editing comics. In fairness, I had a big project on Friday night/Saturday morning that I put a ton or hours into and finished moments before the 11am deadline Saturday morning. Still, that was one of three books I'm juggling right now and although the deadlines for the other two books aren't as tight, I should have been focused on those become my weekdays/nights have been a wash as far as getting any kind of lettering work accomplished.

None of this even takes my writing into account. Finding the time to write, letter, edit, and work my day job has transformed my life into a series of spinning plates on top of long sticks. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I would much prefer to be busy rather than not, but now a new problem of how to juggle all these activities without burning out has appeared.

Priorities become muddled when you're involved with many different passions at once. I'm a writer at heart and in the long run that's where I want to end up, but writing doesn't pay the bills. I love making comics and lettering but that only pays a few bills (READ: NOT MANY). The day job, PAing on a TV show, is what's keeping a roof over my head but isn't exactly where I want my career to stop climbing. On top of all of that there is my love for being lazy, watching too much TV and generally having an aversion to too much structure.

My solution to all of this has been to work really hard on all fronts for a few weeks and then take a two day weekend to complete waste on something inconsequential like playing The Sims 3 all weekend. It is a good life when your biggest problems are to narrow down which fun task you want to accomplish in a week/weekend.

Not sure if all of this makes for a good blog or not, it was just on my mind and need to get out. Sorry if it's not as funny or entertaining as usual (and honestly, how funny or entertaining am I usually?) but sometimes you catch me at an introspective crossroads.

For more silly posts and less ruminations on life and career I would direct you to the new tumblr that my roommate and I have started: http://blazedandneurotic.tumblr.com/

He's the neurotic one, although from just reading this blog post you that might not be clear. I swear I'm not normally this self-reflective.