Jen Bingham


Month: February 2016

Your Sunday Comic

Being realistic with children is important. And ants.

From Poorly Drawn LInes

From Poorly Drawn LInes

I did not make this cool comic! Click on the link for more.



Bonnie Prince Billy Live at the Buskirk Chumley Theater

The minute Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) stands on one foot, wraps one leg around the other, then throws in some prancing and stomping, I remember why seeing him live is so satisfying: It’s because he’s weird. And because he dances like I do (which is to say, he is great at dancing).

I like that he can take a Bruce Springsteen song and make it sound like a Bonnie Prince Billie song, in a good way. And he can do a Grateful Dead cover (again with the making it sound like a BPB song, more or less) and not be an ironic douchebag about it. He even brings up afterwards where the song is from and says “That was nice, wasn’t it?” The crowd murmurs approvingly even though some of them probably rail against the GD in their spare time.

I like this show, too, because at intermission, I run into so many people that I almost feel like a popular person. As I’m going to hug one friend, another friend, who I hadn’t noticed, thinks I’m heading over to hug him. So I give him a hug too.

I like this show because I get the jokes and the lyrics and clear and beautiful and I’m the only person who laughs really loud when “cock” is mentioned in a song about birds. He’s got a fair amount of blue lyrics and a fair amount of double entendres and puns in his catalog, so I feel my laughter was justified.

And I like this show because there’s a song called “Death to Everyone” and my friend whispers to me “That was my favorite one so far.” I agree and whisper back, “I hope he plays ‘We Are Unhappy.’” I don’t get my wish but I don’t really care. He prefaces one song by saying something like “There is no God or meaning.” Except more eloquent and maybe something about being a decent human being.

Genre: Indie rock weirdo existentialist
Verdict: Go see him! Go buy his albums! He is the best!

Your Sunday Comic

I love Angie’s List but I never seem to be able to find anyone on there who can fix me. Have also checked the dating sites and reddit but no dice.

From chainsawsuit

From chainsawsuit

Alt text: real deal’s on Angie’s List

I did not make this cool comic! Click on the art for more.




Rydeadpool_ver9an Reynolds is perfect as a smartass, stubborn anti-superhero who will ACTUALLY CUT OFF HIS OWN HAND to escape the superheroes when they try to drag him off to do good.

True, his hand grows back so it wasn’t the risk it seemed, but it looked pretty painful.

Later, he uses his regenerating, gross baby hand to fondly touch the face of the old blind lady he lives with. Then he asks her to leave the room so he can rub one out.

“It’s gonna feel huge in this,” he says gleefully.

This is maybe a good litmus test as to whether you want to see this movie.

If, in addition to vulgarity, you like voiceovers, back story, explosions (WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU NOT LIKE EXPLOSIONS???), nuclear powered teens, hot people, a character who addresses the camera directly (“what is that, like 16 walls?”), and extended jokes about avocados hate fucking, you will love this movie. I did.

Genre: A different kind of superhero
Verdict: If you are gross, you will love it!

How to Be Alone on Valentine’s Day

A friend going through a divorce contacted me recently to ask What Single People Do on Valentine’s Day. I’m kind of the representative single person that everyone knows. I’m very often not in a relationship: A lot of the reason is that I am scared of people. A lot of the reason is that I am somewhat happy on my own especially when compared to spending time around people that either scare or bore me (my formative years were spend largely around people who fit one or both of those criteria). A lot of the reason is that I am Bad at Dating Even Though I Try.

“Mostly, we are sad,” I wrote back.

But it’s not entirely true of me. I mean, I am often a bit mopey. But ultimately, I don’t have a real problem with V Day. Nor do I feel the need to rail against the fact that it’s a made-up holiday that means nothing. I kind of don’t think that there’s all that much in the world with intrinsic meaning. If anything has it, it’s probably Love, so taking a day to trot out all the bells and whistles on the ol’ Love Machine doesn’t seem all that bad.

If I happen to be in a relationship, great. I think it’s fun. If I happen to be single, well, I like to make it a little weird. I like to have a ritual.

So, completely by accident, I came up with my own Valentine’s Day Ritual. One year, I was looking through what was on offer on Ye Olde Hulu and thought to myself: What could be better than watching Scenes from a Marriage on Valentine’s Day? As it turns out, not much. (Aside from an actual date with a person I wanted to go on a date with.)

And thus, the tradition of staying home by myself and watching an Ingmar Bergman movie was born. I have since added pizza to the mix.

I have this strange personality quirk where things that are brutally bleak and sad can sometimes make me perversely happy. Art created out of despair can transcend sadness when it achieves a certain degree of beauty and brutal honesty. Also, I like doing the opposite of what other people are doing. There is just something about staying home by myself and watching a movie where I can’t tell if someone is masturbating or stabbing herself in the genitals that makes me feel cool (Cries and Whispers).

2016 was the year of Fanny and Alexander. I was a little hesitant about watching it because I was under the impression that it was kind of happy or something: WRONG.

Guys, there’s an old lady crying within, like, the first ten minutes. There’s a little boy (Alexander) watching as his dad has a stroke and then being scared of him as he dies. And this SUPER FUCKED UP SCENE with some psychic, murderous, epicene redhead (not played by David Bowie, oddly enough). Oh, and at least two ghosts, maybe more. One of them says to Alexander, after he pushes him over, “You will never escape me.”

This is awesome not just in and of itself but because of the way Bergman takes an ordinary tale of bourgeois happiness and horror and turns it into actual horror. Fanny and Alexander is said to be semiautobiographical. I want to say that I feel fairly certain that Bergman didn’t mindmeld with a psychopath in order to burn his stepfather to death. But I also want to say that  taking a probably genuine impulse and making it completely fucking awesome is just exactly what I needed to see.

For me, plot is hard. I’ve been reading and reading about it and trying to wrap my head around how to do it.

I feel like this movie showed me how to take the ordinary sadnesses and joys that show up so statically on the pages of my stories and transform them into something wicked, glamorous, mystical, or purely horrifying. Or at least into something interesting.

And that is a good thing to learn on the day of love. I hope I am able to actually do something with this knowledge.

Other things I did this Valentine’s Day that were nice included:

  • Going to the gym and having Handsome Steve, the kindhearted fitness instructor, speak to me encouragingly about how terrible I am at a class called Body Combat. “You just have to keep coming back,” he said as we walked out into the snow together. “I always tell people you have to come at least four times.” Consider me encouraged, Handsome Steve! (NB: I am not being sarcastic.)
  • Jet’s Pizza! And they deliver to my house!
  • Chocolates that someone I don’t like sent me but I ate anyway.
  • An order of books that I ordered myself showed up on Valentine’s Day. Two whole boxes! I am taking some classes so mostly it was Serious Books.
  • Getting an early Facetime with my niece and one of my nephews yelling “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
  • Three calls from my sister, but that is normal.

Anyway, don’t freak out and be sad if you’re alone on Valentine’s Day. It’s not any sadder than being alone any other day of the year.

Drops mic.

Your Sunday Comic

The perfect Valentine’s Day comic. It’s just like that shitty “Pina Colada” song except not shitty. Still kind of morally reprehensible rather than romantic, tho.

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

I Beg You Good Sir, Do Not Comment on the Bingham Nose

I’m in the CVS carrying some complicated asthma prescriptions and I’m walking to the back of the line. A 70 year old gentleman in a security officer’s uniform is walking toward me. Despite the fact that I’m not doing anything wrong, my first instinct is one of mild alarm.

“Your nose is real red!” he says, by way of making conversation. “What a surprise, huh?”

I assume he’s referencing the fact that it’s 25 degrees out with an 18 mph wind, but I’m still not happy to have attention called to the hue of my nose. Not only does it have a pimple on the side, but the Bingham nose is an appendage that causes much handwringing among my kin. It’s not a well-liked entitity and it increases in size with age. It is known for its redness and its large pores.

So I just say “Yeah,” very dampeningly and proceed to the end of the line.

I soon notice that he has halted and is standing rather close to me. I begin to feel like a line cutter, something no midwesterner can abide.

“Were you in line?”

“No, I just come in here to get out of the cold,” he says.


I can tell he wants to talk, but I am baffled by his behavior and metaphorically put my ears back. If I were a horse I would nip him sternly. Instead I open my phone and am conscious of the fact that he might be watching me enter my Facebook password.

After I move up to talk to the pharmacy tech, I notice him moving away toward the pickup counter. I wonder if he’s waiting to pick up a prescription. Whatever he’s doing,, he’s way too noticeable; one of those who insists that people in his vicinity Pay Attention to him.

And when I walk over to the pickup counter, he starts talking to a woman who seems to have some connection with the health care trade.

“I’m in here so much I should be paying rent,” he brays. I form the idea that he works in the area, is perhaps supposed to be on duty outside, and comes into the CVS frequently.

He is talking so loudly at this point that the pharm tech in charge of pickups crankily asks me to repeat myself. The woman he has targeted replies at a volume equal to his.

It’s then that I wonder if I’m old enough that 70 year old men are trying to pick me up in the CVS. It seems like a real possibility.

“Great,” I think. My metaphorical ears swivel further back. I think about the fact that he is probably violating HIPAA laws and wonder if the pharmacists have ever taken the trouble to speak to him about his behavior. Then I realize I’m being crazy.

When I get into my car, I look at the lines that run from my nose to the sides of my mouth.

I’ve been thinking about aging lately. And death. But mostly about aging.

I think about the John Prine song “Hello in There.” I think about the John Prine song “Angel from Montgomery.” I sing it softly to myself. I don’t know all the words.

When I get home and look up the song on YouTube, John tells me that he’s written the song about a woman exactly my age: 47. When the song came out, he was 24. I think about his face now, which is an old, fine, fucked up face. Now he’s 69.

This shit is real–this thing called getting old. And it’s coming for you. And it’s coming for your face.

And it looks like that annoying motherfucker at the CVS.

Your friend Wikeipedia sez:

John Prine wrote “Angel from Montgomery” after a friend suggested writing “another song about old people”, referring to Prine’s song “Hello In There.” Although Prine had “said everything I wanted to [about seniors] in ‘Hello In There'” he was intrigued by the idea of “a song about a middle-aged woman who feels older than she is…[Eventually] I had this really vivid picture of this woman standing over the dishwater with soap in her hands….She wanted to get out of her house and her marriage and everything. She just wanted an angel to come to take her away from all this.”

She’s Leaving Home by William Shaw


I’m looking for a new writer of emotionally complex, super dark police procedurals, since all of the ones I love died in the last couple years. This guy isn’t The One.

But this book seemed like it was headed in the right direction. It’s set in 1968 and the main character’s new sidekick is the first female detective in his department. She’s young and sharp and hungry. He’s kind of a loser and recovering from the death of his father. He’s been fucking up on the job and his co-workers are starting to hate him.

Then the book turns the corner into Act II and crashes. Several strands of the story simply drop. Characters change inexplicably. And the solution comes about 50 pages too soon and is not terribly believable.

At this point, the main character makes yet another massive mistake. Although the entire department has been hating on him up to this point, suddenly no one seems to care. Plus, his sidekick changes rather suddenly from a complicated character into a helpless yob who needs to be saved.



Genre: Police procedural
Verdict: Yawny von yawnerson

It Was Like a Country Song

One day, several years ago now, I went on a walk around the block and ran into a nice neighbor. We exchanged pleasantries and settled in to identify each other the way neighbors who run into each other a couple times of year tend to do. He was escorting a couple toddlers.

“You live in the blue house, right? You have a bunch of kids,” I said. I know him a little better now, but that is still one of his main identifiers. He seems okay with it.

He laughed and agreed. “And don’t you have a little pug?”

“He’s gone,” I said carefully.

“Oh gosh, sorry. And a boyfriend, right? Tall guy?”

“We broke up, actually.”

“Did he take the dog?” My neighbor seemed excited about this possibility.

“He did . . . ” I started to answer.

“Well then the dog’s not dead!”

“Actually no, he died after we broke up.”

I could tell he felt bad. He started to apologize.

“It’s like a country song or something,” I said. I felt like I needed to cheer him up after the devastating turns the conversation had taken. “Don’t feel bad.”

I didn’t walk in that direction for a bit after that.


Your Sunday Comic

I saw yours.

Relevant to last Tuesday!


From Nedroid Picture Diary

Alt text: When you see the shadow, your phone rings and a voice whispers “six weeks.”


I did not make this cool comic! Click on the link for more.

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