And so we have arrived at the threshold of yet another year, four cycles after the long hoped for Alpaca Lips. In some ways, it has been an eventful year and, in others, things have barely changed. I figured I'd touch on the highlights of 2015, then throw some hopes (gasp, hope? Tin? NOOOOOO!) out for 2016. So, let's begin.
The first major thing that happened in 2015 came in February, when I was allowed unprecedented liberties to continue and expand my campaign to disseminate All Things Shriekback. I was elated, for I had watched for too long their greatness be swallowed up by the ever-expanding Internet, without the proper tools in my box of toys to make enough digital noise to be noticed. That changed prior to the release of one of their best albums to date, Without Real String or Fish. To my immense joy, this was only one of many releases by the band that I got to relentlessly plug throughout the year. It's been an honour to do what I could for the guys, and I will continue to do what I do until they tell me to stop!
In April, another wonderful thing occurred: I got to go up to Los Angeles to attend Jeff Lynne's Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony. Even though I didn't get to meet him - again! - I was still thrilled to be in the general vicinity of my spiritual and musical godfather, and listen to him talk a little about his career and how honoured he felt to be getting the praise and attention that has long been due the man. He's a genius, and I am overjoyed that people are finally catching on to this fact. It also heartens me that so many Millennials, particularly in the music world, are embracing Mr. Lynne and his music. That means that his legacy will live on through the generations, as long as humanity plagues this world. It almost makes me glad we're all still around. Anyway, also in attendance to the star ceremony, making speeches of their own about how groovy Jeff Lynne is, were Tom Petty and Joe Walsh. I caught this epic photo before the brouhaha began.
And it got even better later in the year, in November, when Jeff Lynne released Alone in the Universe, the first official ELO album since the release of Zoom in 2001. I'm currently listening to it for the first time but, hey! better late than never, right? 2015 was the year both Shriekback and the Electric Light Orchestra gave the world new music. If for no other reason, this year should be marked as a complete success because of this.
Shortly before I moved out to San Diego, my TV died. For a while, I was pretty miserable, until I got used to watching streaming formats online, like Netflix. It cut down on my viewing habits considerably, and I found myself focusing on just the movies and shows I personally found important and worthy enough to spend my time watching. Beginning in late 2014, though, my number one go-to place for instant entertainment gratification became You Tube. I discovered Alonzo Lerone, Garret John, and a host of other talents, visionaries, and creatives. In June of 2015, though, I stumbled upon a short film that completely blew my mind. It's what made me realise how grateful I am to no longer have a television. I probably would have never discovered such brilliance had I still been enslaved to the mediocrity that spews out of the boob tube.
When I first saw The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon, I had a reaction eerily similar to what I had upon seeing The Joker Blogs' Therapy Begins. I couldn't get enough! Impressed didn't even begin to cover it. The more I watched it and the related films on Richard Gale's You Tube channel, the more I laughed. As anyone who has known me since losing Aunt Tudi in 2011 knows, laughter is something I treasure above all other things. I credit anything that could cut through the grief and trigger laughter as holding a seed of the miraculous within its heart. The Impractical Jokers were the first to make what I thought was impossible happen. The Horrible Slow Murderer carried on that life-saving tradition.
I was so impressed with the undeniable talent in this short film and others on the channel, like the wholly unfunny and horrifying Criticized, I was compelled to learn more about the film maker and his posse. Employing the web search skills I learned in the Pit oh so very long ago, it didn't take me long to learn a good bit about the director and actors Paul Clemens and Brian Rohan.
Well, one thing led to another, and I ended up helping them with their Kickstarter campaign, after having the pleasure of discussing a few promo ideas with Richard one Sunday a few months ago. During this time, I've come to see that not only are these guys uber-talented, but they are also genuine, groovy, insightful, kind individuals. How could anyone not want to help people like this in any way they can?
While all this was happening, I was going to the doctor about my back pain, which seemed to be getting worse despite all attempts to reverse the issues causing it. The doc finally suggested that I look into getting an panniculectomy. Now, in South Carolina, no insurance, private or public, would cover anything considered cosmetic. When I got the gastric bypass surgery, I went into it with no pipe dreams of getting any excess skin removed. It was never an option, so I never entertained the idea.
When the doctor brought up the panniculectomy, I silently scoffed, but decided "what the hell? It doesn't hurt to ask." So, a couple of days later, I called Aetna and asked them if such a surgery were covered. They informed me that, if it were considered medically necessary, they would cover it, and all I would have to pay would be $264.00. I called the doctor, who referred me to Dr. Jason Hess. He took pictures, informed me that he'd gotten approval for surgeries with less severe pannus issues, and said he'd be asking approval for not just a panniculectomy, but also an abdominoplasty which, combined, are basically the human equivalent to being cleaned like a fish.
In two weeks time, Aetna gave the go ahead, and I had a tummy tuck and panniculectomy in September. I'm still recovering from it, but my back does feel better after no longer having to deal with 17 pounds of dead weight constantly pulling on my lower lumbar region. Also, for the first time in my life, I actually have a figure. I'm still not used to the new body. It's like living in an alien biological construct.
So, 2015 saw me become a bit of a California stereotype in that I got plastic surgery and began "hobnobbing" with Hollywood directors and actors. Folks, don't expect that, if you're thinking of planning on moving to California. Bear in mind that I live in the Twilight Zone and have no idea how shit like this happens to me.
One more cool thing that happened this year actually happened this month. After over a year of struggling with it, I finally had a breakthrough in my arduous Wacom education. I still have a very long way to go before I consider anything I do with the tablet worthy of pride, but at least I'm finally seeing results from what I have so far learned. This is the result - the best representation of how I see Cadmus Pariah in my mind's eye. I plan on making this a full body picture, not just a floating head of death, but I thought I should make note that my obvious learning disability when it comes to digital art has at long last had a wee chink taken out of its seemingly impenetrable wall.
There have been some unhappy things to happen this year - conflicts with Matt, friends falling prey to illness, seriously fucked up news on the family front, among other things - but I am choosing not to focus on that in this year-end post. There is nothing I could write here that would change any of these things, and I frankly don't want to give the bad areas of 2015 any more power than they already have. I would prefer to give energy to more positive outcomes in those categories in the coming year.
That being said, here are some things I'm hoping to see happen and/or make happen in 2016.
- Friends and family beat the odds and kick all manner of ass with some insane Health Fu.
- The Presidential election does not turn out to be a disaster of mega-Fascist proportions.
- People collectively reject the status quo and embrace a higher vibrational state of being.
- There is full disclosure on extraterrestrial life and activities, as well as extra-dimensional life and activities.
- Jeff Lynne plays a concert in San Diego and I get to attend.
- I can eventually feel as comfortable riding the buses in San Diego as I was riding the ones in Los Angeles. LA makes a lot more sense as far as layout is concerned. Or maybe that's just me.
- Yoga becomes a part of my everyday life.
- Barry Andrews has more delightful written and musical works of art in store for the world.
- I complete my latest book and maybe even publish it.
- The filming of Ginosaji goes smoothly and is a low-stress joy for all involved.
- I get to go to the desert to gaze at the Milky Way at least once in 2016.
- I and those I love are surrounded by non-toxic individuals and that we can continue to expand the influence of beauty, creativity, common sense, and divine madness.
- The Alpaca Lips finally happens.
Here's hoping everyone has a fantastic new year. May it be visionary in every way.