Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Perhaps My Favorite Comic Ever, According to R/NE

Astonishing Tales #22 (see below)

A sentimental favorite. It feels miraculous in my hands. I got it, and many others, at Union Station in Chicago some time around 1986. My mom gave me a few bucks to find something to read and this is the sort of stuff I hauled back.
This issue of It, The Living Colossus has an Evel Knievel ad on the back and one of the others had an ad for ORCA! on the back which I spent almost as much time looking at as the comics themselves.

In intend to take a picture of myself reading this comic book in the future (2019) and posting it on this blog. Perhaps I'll do that this evening (2008).

Comics will always have a deep and weird influence on the music made in our house. This particular one has been particularly satisfying and inspiring lately.

Should you ever find this comic, do check out the insane splash page right at the beginning. It's a picture of a monster war. I don't know who the artist is (I'll check) but whoever did this artwork is a bigger genius than Einstein, Yeats and Dennis the Menace combined.

Here's some information from my set of encyclopedias I bought in the early 90s:

It, the Living Colossus was an immense 100-foot-tall stone humanoid statue constructed by Moscow sculptor Boris Petrovski to protest against the oppressive nature of the Soviet government. It became animated initially by the mind transferral of an alien Kigor and rampaged briefly through Moscow after being attacked by the military. When the rescue party arrived, the Kigor abandoned the Colossus and returned to its home-world, leaving It inanimate.[1]

The statue was later transported to Los Angeles and reanimated by the Kigors,
who used it to attack the U.S. army. The Kigors were defeated by Hollywood
special effects designer Bob O'Bryan, a man with a physical
disability, and the statue was rendered inanimate.[2]

O'Bryan was later confined to a wheelchair. The statue was stolen by the evil
Doctor Vault, who reduced It in size from 100 feet to 30 feet. It was then
animated by the mind transferral of O'Bryan, and It battled Bault's minions and

It then battled Granitor and alien invaders from the planet Stonus V. Alongside
Fang Foom
, It defeated the invaders.[4] However, It then battled Fin Fang Foom and became controlled by Doctor Vault.[5]

Doctor Vault! Fin Fang Foom!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trip Down Memory Loss Lane

Here is an unused poster created by the very talented Large Mammal art company. At least I'm 88% sure that it was Large Mammal. If it was not, I offer my sincere apologies to whoever designed it. If it was, I offer my sincere apologies to Large Mammal for not clearly remembering the fine work they did.

And fine work it is -- the one we did end up using was also fine but I didn't happen to find it while cleaning my desk top this morning, so I'm unable to post it here now so that we can compare and contrast the two and decide which one would win in a race. Art Race!

As for the show itself: I don't remember a ton about that either. I remember that Raccoon was great and that it was sad it was their last show, but it was so long ago I can't remember exactly which songs they played though I bet they can and also probably Doug.

I also can't remember what songs the Teeth played that night but those were the days when they were playing "Peter Goes to 43st St" an awful lot so it's a good bet they played that. Which reminds me: Raccoon definitely played "Thick and the Thin." I just un-forgot that now because both songs are on The Christmas City EP which you should buy on the Park the Van page right now. It's super, and will bring back many memories if you're anything like me.

But one memory it won't bring back (especially if you're anything like me) is what songs National Eye played that night. If it was a baseball game you could count on us having played "The Star-Spangled Banner" but since it wasn't, we most likely did not.

One thing I don't forget is that this show was the first time that Jonas played with the Teeth on the stage. But that's cheating because I had it written on my hand.

All in all, a memorable poster from a memorable night.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Paint the Fence Invisible

I promise not to use this blog as a "Cool Junk" repository for whatsis web widgets but I'm a little tired today after our Really Fun Show And Thanks For Coming If You Came, and can't think of much else to say here. I could tell you about the dinosaur bone I found but my camera's broken and you wouldn't believe me without pictures (it is the size of a small car).

And also this video is totally amazing. It was sent to me by a friend because we were talking about something and it seemed appropriate and so I thought "Ah, cool, Joni doing Woodstock at Isle of Wight, nice" but then it goes into something weird and kind of wonderful.


(I would "embed" it or whatever but it's Friday and I'm tired and don't know how.)

I'm a sucker for language like this. He's clearly a jerk and was probably an nuissance to his friends and family for years before and after this, but it takes a special clarity of purpose to come up with a line like "paint the fence invisible" in the middle of a mescaline-pitched harangue.

I'm also heavily, heavily, heavily into Joni's story about the Hopi Ceremonial Dance. Enjoy this little clip and also loan me a camera so I can take a picture of this dinosaur bone. My guess is: brontosaurus fibula

Thursday, September 25, 2008

That Belongs In A Gallery Space!

Right here you have a picture of the people who will be playing the show TONIGHT THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 25th AT JOHNNY BRENDA'S TAVERN AND EATERY ON FRANKFORD AND GIRARD, PHILADELPHIA PA!

From left to awesome: Sir Kyle Lloyd, Richard Flom, Gretchen Lohse, Shai Son of Eli, and William Baggott.

You'll notice Gianmarco's not in the picture which is too bad because he's off on a business trip. He will be sorely missed at this show but don't worry because we can all go see him on October 17th when he plays at JBs. Remind me to remind you about that.

Anyway, also playing tonight will be Drink Up Buttercup and Throw Me The Statue. Please feel free to fill the comments with suggestions for alternative names for our band that better match the bill, such as Get Thee To A Nunnery! or Buy Me A Poodle! or Eat This Soup, Roger! or something like that.

But both bands are really great and it'll be a superfun night or my name's not Indiana Jones!

Buy tickets here (great name for a band!) : http://www.johnnybrendas.com/calendar-detail-ajax.php?ev_id=576&height=500&width=550

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Open Message to the State of Indiana

Dear Indiana,

You're a hell of a state! But where are all your computers? How am I supposed to provide invigorating, up-to-the-minute blog content when every hardware store for a thousand miles around is full of nails and hammers and helpful staff but no computers?

Keep in mind, this is a hypothetical question, Indiana, since being within your verdant borders is not the reason I've failed to post in the last 24 hours; it was actually nothing more and nothing less than a medical situation the doctors are calling "serious, but interesting."

The worst is behind me, however, and there will be more to come today, Indiana. Keep up the good work, and don't let nothing get you down!

All my loving,
--A Firm Supporter

Monday, September 22, 2008

National Eye's Fabulous Free Contest: You Make The Best Cat You Can Make And You Might Just Win!!

While having dinner the other night with some of the most esteemed people you could possibly imagine (who shall be known by their initials only: MA, TF, SO, HK), me and my dear companion decided to take an informal poll. The question put forth was, "Hey, so what's the greatest thing you can think of?" The answers were revealing.

MA: I would have to say contests.

TF: Contests.

SO: I was going to say snowmobiles but now I'm changing my answer to contests.

HK: Definitely contests.

And then, like a lightning bolt with an idea inside it, we had this amazing idea. Actually, my dear companion had the idea. But I'm going to tell it to you: National Eye needs to have a contest.
We were inspired by our friends The Spinto Band who are now running this contest where if you can make a mask featuring the face of famous Spinto mascot Roy Spinto, you will win your very own free iPod. My idea was "Ok, let's do that." But then it was pointed out to me that 1.) Roy Spinto has nothing but nothing to do with National Eye and 2.) we don't have any iPods to give away. I could ask to borrow Will's and then never give it back, but he's been a good friend all these years and also owes the government upwards of $40,000 and you can't kick a guy when he's down.

So then my dear companion said "I think I have a walkman" and then at that moment it was like a tidal wave swept over me and contained within all the water was this idea which I didn't actually have but my dear companion did and this is what it was: instead of an iPod we'll use a Walkman.

Which was great but didn't solve the Roy Spinto issue AT ALL. So then our cat came in the room and started doing his usual cat thing. And then, right at that moment, it was like a grand piano fell from the sky and right onto my head and on the piano where the music usually goes was a piece of paper with this great idea on it. Because that was when my dear companion said, "Instead of that Roy person, it could be our cat Harpo."

Which brings us to this contest we're having! Basically what you do is make up a mask or a robot or whatever (actually, don't make a robot -- that would be terrifying) based on the appearance of our amazing cat. We will choose the one that is better than all of the others and then a Walkman portable cassette player will be ALL YOURS. If yours is the one we pick.

Harpo is actually a very private cat and would rather not have his photograph all over the internet but I can describe him for you. He is 12.5 lbs., has whiskers, stripes, orange nose, a tail, and has exterminated THREE RATS in the past few months alone. That should be enough to get you started. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

When you have completed your Harpo Mask or whatever (again, no robots), take a picture of yourself with it, holding up a copy of that day's newspaper, and a hand-painted sign that says "We Love the National Eye Cat Face Walkman Contest '08!." We encourage you to provide a pleasant backdrop for the photo as well (waterfall, Big Ben, etc.), so it's not too boring.

DO NOT email this photo to nationaleyecatcontest@gmail.com as that account has been hacked. Email it to feedback [AT] nationaleye.com.

Please note that we're not really sure where the Walkman is or if it works. You may be required to come over and look for it -- but look at it this way: a few hours out of your life is a small price to pay for the gift of music anywhere you go.

But it's not really about the Walkman, is it? No! It's about the excitement of contest participation! So get to it, people!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Special Delivery!

So here we have the first of what I assume will be many, many notes from someone who has identified himself as "Venerable Character Actor M. Emmet Walsh."

I'll let you come to your own conclusions about the veracity of that (imdb says Walsh died in 1999 but those bastards will say anything), though it hardly matters. Whatever his true indentity, he makes some very good points.

Since it's easier to read when you have the piece of (slightly damp) paper in your hand, I will transcribe:

Dear National Eye,

You blog is good but boring. [It] should have lots more of things. Things like: songs, cartoons and others that I thought of last night but forgot.

The note itself is unsigned, but the return address was neatly typed on the envelope.

All I can say to you M. is: duly noted! There are some technical things we're working out (for instance: my money-counting machine now adds the word "clams" to every total which is unprofessional and childish), but I think the multimedia aspect of this blog will get ramped up in a big way very soon.

Please send all further magic marker correspondence to Park the Van Records in Schwenksville, PA. People are getting shot up there by hopped-up rent-a-cops, but there's no reason to assume the mail service isn't in perfect order.

Peace in our time.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pollution from the Idea Factory: A Somewhat Blitzed Assemblage of Art's Missed Opportunities

The Farthest Shore was not the first idea for a conceptuality album to pass like a fast-moving doomcloud over the NE brainframe. I'm not sure about the other guys, but I've had dozens of them. They tend to come from magazine articles I keep meaning to read. Below is a rundown of some of these Rock Operas That Never Were.

1. A Russian ballerina with a major gambling addiction is mistaken for a horse and wins the Kentucky Derby. She falls in love with the jockey (Federico) but he is sent to the Gulag where he loses the sense of touch. The music: spare, metallic

2. A crime saga set in the mid-90s. A young athlete from Menasha is roped into a world of violence and despair when he agrees to smuggle $4,000,000,000,000,000,017 worth of diesel fuel from Calgary to Oaxaca in order to secure the release of his kid sister, held captive by the nefarious mob queen Melanie Gestapo. But it's not just soccer hooligans he has to worry about; also on his trail are the CIA, the DEA, the FBI, the KGB, two freebasing maniacs from the NEA, the (reformed) Temptations, and all manner of traffic gridlock. The music: plaintive, hard-hitting, woozy

3. A snapshot of the day in the life of a small town in Everyland, U.S.A., population: 100. That is until a dark stranger rides into town on a brand-new motorcycle. The music: C&W, slavic

4. An exciting young television actor is selected as the representative of Surface Earth to go on a mission to the planet's core, where a civilization has been discovered. Despite his winning smile, he is treated with suspicion by the corelings (who look like a cross between butterflies and a sewing machine), until he teaches them the magic of Dance (the Twist, mostly). The music: prolonged dissonance

5. A rock'n'roll trip through the true history of telescopics from Hans Lippershey to Hubble! The music: oldies

6. A "funnier," musical re-telling of the Battle of Algiers. It sounds like a joke but I really thought this would work. Until I saw the Battle of Algiers (which also sounds like a joke), at which point I realized it would not work at all. But that didn't stop me from wanting to write a whole bunch of "Battle of" songs. As rock fans know, "Battle" is one of our better words.

7. What The Sun Thinks: a look at our world today (from matters little to huge) as imagined from the Sun's point of view. In this "imagining," the Sun is basically a giant fireball without much appreciation for nuance or subtlety, but he still manages to make the occasional penetrating observation. Toward the end, the Moon offers its point of view which is similarly one-dimensional but a lot colder. The music: hyper-kinetic, drum machines

8. A political thriller in which a U.S. Senator is hypnotized by the leader of an underground cabal (S.K.R.E.E.O.R.C.H. -- I forget what it stood for) and runs for president on a bizarre platform involving a giant black dome that would cover the entire continent and maintain a constant temperature of 45 degrees. He wins the Democratic primary but is defeated in the general election by the candidate from a strange new party called The Ostrich Wizars. (Not a typo.) The story concludes on an unsettling note. The music: brash, militaristic

10. The Jet Teens. This one is far too crazy and complicated to even begin to explain, but probably would have been the most workable of the bunch. As I recall, the Jet Teens were meant to be a sort of ultraradical-ized, mind-exploded version of a group of outcasts I barely knew growing up in Wisconsin. They were into comical anarchy and the occult (magic tricks) and loved Tony Iommi and Tony Stark with equal fervor. Weird people. (The title seems mundane but don't worry: it's a play on words on a French movie I never saw.) Anyway, the "story" started there and then went deep into the blackwoods of madness. The music: terrible

Maybe I should've combined them all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


In addition to the various mixes and early incarnations of TFS, I listened to a lot of Cliff Martinez film soundtracks while working on the artwork - most of which, like the above, often looked better in the sketchbook than on the final "nice" paper.

New Vistas, The Contemporary Scene, Mighty Bummers, Flagrant Self-Abuse, The Death of the Sport Coat, and a Question of Commerce

Weclome to the super and surprising beginning of the brand-new National Eye blog and funzone we've launched in advance of our upcoming record The Farthest Shore, which will be available as a downloadable thing on October 14th, 2008.

We're not exactly sure what shapes this thing will take, but you can rest assured there will be a variety of detours into total irrelevancy and probably outright craziness but then these are the rights and rightful duties of the blogger today. What was the last blog you read that didn't seem to be written by an insomniac with a taste for the deranged? No, don't tell me. I'm sure it would bore me to tears.

In order to keep things moving and somewhat on the beam of reality, we hope to use this space for a variety of pictures and songs and sounds, many of them directly related to the Farthest Shore project, some of them indirectly, some of them not at all.

Because this Farthest Shore thing we're talking about is essentially an abandoned project. Which sounds worse than it is but this is a blog and if there's anywhere in today's mad, mad, etc. world where honesty rules with terror and vengeance, it's in the blogs. But what I mean to say is, this thing that ended up being a bunch of songs for you to listen to was going to be a whole heap of things over a whole heap of time.

Initially it was somewhat foolishly envisioned as some kind of little movie made of paper -- not quite animation but also not not quite animation, some kind of thing that I still mean to invent or innovate one day (watch this space!) inspired in no small part by Jeff Love's own weird paper movies. Anyway it was going to be about some kind of messed up war between animals and men and have at its center a hapless man named Idiot posessed of inexplicable and mostly uncontrollable magic.

At least half of the songs that comprise The Farthest Shore were written specifically to accompany and comment obliquely upon the action. There was also much to be said, both in song and visually, about the perils of sea and air travel (travel of any kind, really) and was intended to go completely off the rails in a section exploring the theme of demented artistic ambition.

Which seems awfully appropriate in retrospect. The movie idea was probably bad to begin with but then it sort of settled down into the idea of a BOOK of some sort. A book that just so happened to have an album of songs riding around with it. And of course the book would feature a number of incredible pictures by Jeff.

Well, it turns out I'm too crazy and disorganized to do a book at this point in my life. Or at least THAT book. It went through a variety of batty phases and Jeff worked hard and came up with some truly lovely drawings (many of which you'll find here, eventually) but before long, my focus was all gone, I couldn't pin down anything, structure was disaster and pretty soon I hated the whole idea.

Luckily, along the way we managed to record this album The Farthest Shore which doesn't need a book at all.

Which is great (as you'll find out on October 14th) but also part of the problem. Music is what National Eye knows how to do and so while I'm spinning my wheels with this increasingly complicated mumbo jumbo, not only was the music done, but more music was coming fast and furious down the brain pike. In the time since TFS was completed a whole new National Eye record (in theory) has been written and much of it recorded. Meanwhile, Gianmarco and Doug had completed beautiful albums of their own, Jeff was rapidly churning out incredible work that had nothing to do with elephants or cats or ships or Idiots, and Will invented the gamma-saw.

It felt time, at some point, to bid a no-regrets goodbye to all that other hoopla and let the alb speak for itself.

So what this site will be is a kind of graveyard for the high-falutin' side of The Farthest Shore -- as well as a Wake for a Silly Idea. But wakes are fun, as many of you may know -- I went to one at a Whitecastle restaurant, before it became associated with multi-ethnic drug use (this was 1991), and it's one of the better nights I've had -- so we should have a lively, exciting time. And I do believe The Farthest Shore is a bang-up album with great work not just from National Eyers like me and Doug and Jeff and Gianmarco and Will but a whole host of other incredible human beings, to whom I hope to introduce to readers down the line.

So here it comes. We hope to keep the stuff coming fast and furious and hopefully most of it will be easier to digest than this particular screed (you skimmed, didn't you? me too). Also I'm sure there will be some technononsense to work out along the way so Please Excuse Our Mess!

And of course, jeez, thanks for your indulgence. We hope you enjoy what's ahead.