News: All the $#!+ That Will Stick

Yeah....so....new job starting up. Will let everyone know how it goes. I'm planning for it to not suck, but anything can happen.

Daniel Way, contrary to what I posted a couple of months ago, does not suck. He's actually pretty cool, although he and I definitely disagree on who the Hulk is and why he does the things he does. Check out his message board at www.badpressonline.com and tell 'im I sent you...you f***ing c***. :-)

I'd prefer nobody ask about my novel, except suffice to say I didn't have a chance to work on it at all this week. Hey, it's an adjustment period! Anyway, look for me to show some progress this week. No, really. Stop laughing!

I'm also hella busy doing interviews at Comixfan. Look out for something in March called RETRO ROCKET. And look for my feature on it shortly.

Oh, and lest I forget, my computer is newly updated: new keyboard, new motherboard, more RAM (up to 2GB!), and double the hard disk space (400GB). Now if only I could rehook the restart button up without totally FUBARing things...

My first grand experiment with the new computer: putting a soundtrack that I bought off eBay, that was originally on vinyl, onto CD. Fun stuff.

Can't really think of much else that is news.




Let's Spin This As Far To The Right As We Can...

This just came over the AP Wire:

Teen With Peanut Allergy Dies After Kiss

Basically, the gist of the story is that some teenage girl's boyfriend was just eating a snack containing peanuts, the girl was severely allergic to peanuts, the boyfriend kissed the girl after having said snack...and the girl died. Yup, as in dead.

No, really.

I'm going to be as politically incorrect and emotionally insensitive as I can here, so please, those of you who are faint of heart or easily offended, turn back (too late!). Forget about sex, kissing is what we should be afraid of young people doing in this day and age. Any remotely sexual contact at all, point of fact. How long before this kid's a poster child for premarital anything in the minds of kooks like Pat Robertson et al.? To say nothing of our beloved President, Dubya...(nevermind the poor kid's Canadian).

Maybe someone will say holding hands is bad for you too. You know, germs being nasty critters and all.

Hmm, or worse still: file charges against the boyfriend! Did he know the girlfriend was allergic to peanuts and kissed her anyway, reeking of peanut-breath? Murder! Manslaughter at the least! String him up in the town square and throw tomatoes at him! Nyah!

Yeah, don't mind me, I'm feeling tangential today. New job, plenty of interviews to do for Comixfan, and this week, I'm starting my novel. As soon as I get my computer fixed up...yessir...

In the meantime, remember: kissing is bad for you and violates several local ordinances...but only if you're a whacko, jacko. ;-)

Accidents happen. My condolences to the family. And man, I wouldn't want to be the boyfriend now.



Of Jones Soda and Tissue Time...

I'm back...

Updates for everyone. Job: don't ask. Novel: don't ask...well, truthfully I've completed my notes, am shuffling plot points (really, I've got note cards!), and am no more than a week away from cracking chapter 1. (Or a prologue. I'm still not sure about that...) Comixfan: shame on you if you haven't been keeping up! I'm doing a bunch of interviews, two for next summer's big Marvel event (one of 'em, anyway), and several more for a March-shipping Marvel event I can't even discuss, it's so New and cool. Within the next week, my interview with Mike W. Barr of MAZE AGENCY fame will be up. Surely you've seen my triad of EXILES interviews and the Jeff Mariotte ANGEL interview, right?

I got inspired to write again mainly by two separate, unrelated events that happened yesterday. It was my buddy Matt's birthday, and so in addition to cake, he somehow decided against all logic to buy the Jones Soda 2005 Holiday Pack--five flavored sodas packaged together--five sodas only remotely yummy if you're living in Bizarro-land. I implore you guys, do NOT try these flavors at home! They include: Brussels Sprout with Prosciutto, Cranberry Sauce, Turkey & Gravy, Wild Herb Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie. Y'know something? Scratch that. If you want to vomit, projectile-style, then this Holiday Pack is for you. (No, do not send me pictures.)

The other event is probably more palatable, at least to the guys out there. I've made no secret of my reverence for Howard Stern, who's about to make the leap to SIRIUS satellite radio in January. I've had my subscription since last December awaiting the blessed event. Well, since last month sometime, Howard 100 has gone on-air, featuring newscasts and the occasional special event. I really, really could do without fart-a-thons and Wendy the Retard doing a 24-hour broadcast, but finally something worthwhile came on the air this Monday past. Playboy model Heidi Cortez, a frequent Stern show guest, has made the jump to Sirius with "Tissue Time," a half-hour long segment airing weeknights at 10p.m.

It's billed as "Bedtime stories...with happy endings" and it's the raunchiest, most blatantly sexual show I've ever heard on radio. If this kind of stuff is on the air before Howard's debut in January, I shudder to think what the man himself will be capable of. Heidi (she'd want you to call her "Miss Cortez") relates erotic stories in first-person, and acts out fantasy sessions with her listeners. There's lots of ooh'ing and aah'ing and fake orgasms a'plenty (and, on Monday night, compliments of the first guy to call in, sadly, one real one...). She seems to be getting better at her act...Monday she was nervous and talking, like, in a Valley Girl kind of way, you know, ending every sentence with a question? And stuff? I also listened to Thursday's show, and while she keeps the raunch factor high (along with the pitch of her moans), she's thankfully now letting the guys off the air before acting out their fantasies.

It's an interesting, albeit depraved show, and I wonder how much longer it can possibly remain on the air. Listen to it while you can. Trust me on this, fellas, you'll be pulling out your hankys soon enough--because you'll be crying from laughing so hard. (What did you think I was going to say?)

So remember, fellas: avoid the Jones Soda Holiday Pack, and embrace the Heidi Cortez.



Alas, Poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio...

Too good to let this one get away:

The obituary of Theodore Roosevelt Heller:
Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans.
Not kidding. Fun, huh? And no, I didn't really know the guy...was just trying for a zinger of an opener.

Bis morgen, jungen und frauen...



What You Should Really Be Reading/Watching/Plunking Down $$$ To See...


I've been working like a dog, on both real work and the novel, so that leaves me less and less time to grace you with my presence. But now, here I am, and I bring you my product reviews o' the week. In no particular order:


"Take me out / To the black / Tell 'em I ain't comin' back / Burn the land / Boil the sea /You can't take the sky from me." A phenomenal film that is so far into its science fiction roots that you can't really tell what genre it's supposed to be. It's equal parts straight drama, space voyage, western, and love story, with a delicious ensemble cast. I guarantee you most people won't "get" it, but that's all right: we're not "most people," are we? If you haven't seen the TV series whence it came, Firefly, fear not: the story is so engaging, the characters so appealing, you won't feel you've missed a thing. The film is just that shiny. (That's future-speak for "cool.") Although I wished a few characters had gotten more screen time (who wouldn't want to see more of the luscious Morena Baccarin as futuristic wh--Companion, Inara Serra?), filmmaker Joss Whedon explains more than enough of the series' mysteries in a satisfying fashion than I could've hoped for, and gives plenty of suggestions as to the rest. (If you haven't found Book's backstory by now, gose, you're just not looking hard enough.) This film isn't just the best sci-fi excursion of the year; it's the best gorram sci-fi story of the decade, if not longer. So saddle up to the local B.O., padnuh, or Hulk will smash.

And no, I'm not just spreading the love because I've met the entire crew of the Serenity--yup, I've met Nathan, Gina, Adam, Jewel, Morena, Ron, Sean, Summer, Alan, and Joss. Remind me to tell you where.


Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season.
A smart, savvy detective show with a season-long arc a la Buffy, the show stars spunky blonde ingenue Kristen Bell as the titular heroine, determined to solve a web of mysteries centered around the death of her best friend, Lily Kane, that reaches into the lives of just about everyone she knows--from her detective father and absentee mother, to her ex-boyfriend, Lily's brother, to Lily's ex-boyfriend and his movie star family, to Lily's family, all the bases are covered. Each episode also covers a smart (did I say that already?) mystery in the space of one hour. Creator Rob Thomas nearly one-ups Joss for one-hour dramas here, but yes, I do like spooky stuff muy better. Give it time. Anyway, the six-disc set from Warner has some sparse extras, but the content is terrific, and hasn't disappointed yet...even though I'm just one disc into the six (and I only watched half-a-season when the show aired...nevermind, I plan to make up for that mistake this weekend!). Yours for a paltry $38 at the local Best Buy, if you've got your Rewards card. (Oh, Best Buy, where are my kickbacks?)


Infinite Crisis #1 (DC Comics).
Try and imagine a world where superheroes are nearly as reviled as the villains they fight; a world where the world's greatest heroes, the paragons of virtue and all that is right, are at each other's throats over the methods they employ to flush out the criminal element. Who can save superhumanity from itself? Who can restore order and bring the Earth, nay, the very cosmos back to some semblance of balance? This is the predicament posed by writer Geoff Johns and artists Phil Jiminez and Andy Lanning, and it's nothing short of stunning; the true successor to the biggest, baddest hunk of comic book melodrama ever told, Crisis on Infinite Earths, from 1985. In more ways than one.

See, this is why I'm using more than one paragraph: it's really that good. Batman has been spying on superhumanity ever since he found out that his fellow Justice Leaguers, when they wiped the memories of the Secret Society of Super-Villains many years ago, also wiped his mind. See, folks: Batman is paranoid for a reason. And Superman, well, he's been mind-controlled by someone the JLA trusted. When Wonder Woman saved humanity from a rampaging Superman, that's when the crap really began to fly: she killed the culprit, and now the whole world knows, and hence, fears the heroes aren't as goody-goody as they seemed. On top of the drama between the three key players, of course, the super-villains have banded together to ensure no further memory-wiping occurs; magic runs out of control as the spirit of God's wrath, the Spectre, tears across the cosmos; and, of course, there's a big space war happening that's destabilized the very center of the known universe.

I wish I could spoil the finale to #1, but I can't: it's, again, just that good. I nearly cried. I definitely shook with excitement. Word to those considering picking this book up: it's the return of the greatest hero of all time. More than that, it also shows why DC is the best there is at telling stories involving multiple timelines and realities. (Sorry, Marvel!) Yes, that's right: it's more than a name-only sequel to that original Crisis. The only thing to get me even close to this giddy this week was the lead-in book, Villains United #6. So yeah, this one's got it all: a great, universe-spanning story, plenty of action, and yes, lush art. And that last page...!

That's it; I daren't say more. Trust me on this, guys and dolls: if you're to be counted among the cool, don't miss this junk.



And Speaking of Ashlee...

Howdy, cowpokes.

(I think I used that line before; ah, well.)

Work progresses on character development for my novel. Also, expect to see a new website by yours truly popping up here in a week or three.

Fun night at karaoke last night: since there weren't that many people at the bar, and we were getting bored, someone suggested we do each rotation with a different musical theme. As result, I sang stuff I would never have done before. As examples of themes, most interesting last but otherwise in no strict order: songs with a state name in the title or lyrics (I did the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running"); songs recorded before 1970 (mine: "Thank the Lord For the Night Time" by Neil Diamond); 1980s dance songs (mine: Men Without Hats, "Safety Dance"...yes, the Safety Dance!); and the strangest of them all...a gender-bending round wherein the girls had to sing songs originally performed by male vocalists, and vice versa. Girls did Snoop Dogg and some other stuff. One Brian did "Coal Miner's Daughter," and Brian "Dubya" did Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman."

Me? "Lala," by Ashlee Simpson. No, I'm not kidding. (For the uninitiated, some lyrics: "You make me wanna lala / In the kitchen on the floor / I'll be a French maid / When I meet you at the door / I'm like an alley cat / Drink the milk up I want more / You make me wanna / You make me wanna...scream.") Click here for the rest.

Much applause followed from me making a complete idiot out of myself, and some lady came by, shoved her boobs in my face, rubbed her crotch against my knee, introduced herself, and told me she moved here from California, that her dog screwed Jay Leno's dog and they had little puppies, and that she had spent 17 months single and was, that night, out on a first date with some guy, a podiatrist, who wasn't hanging around at the moment. She also told me just where she hung out and found said guy. Why, I haven't a clue. At least she was moderately attractive. I kept wondering if the crotch-knee thing was intentional. Still wondering.

Life is strange sometimes. Right now I'm gonna settle in and watch "Lost" on DVD.



Call In Some Tom Jones...or Phantom Planet...or...Ashlee Simpson!

Hey, all.

Do yourselves a favor today and open those wallets to charity. Go to the WDVE radio station website and click to listen to their live webcast. All day, from 9am-9pm EDT, they're doing a "pay-for-play" event that benefits flood relief. Anything you want, they'll play, but it'll cost you. Usually, they're a straight rock format, but today they've played stuff like Eminem, Right Said Fred, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, the Carpenters, the Pitt Fight Song, and the theme from Chiller Theatre (!). Requests start at $25--have your credit cards handy. I'm sure someone'll be calling shortly for The Captain & Tennille...

Someone, request Phantom Planet's "California," Tom Jones' "She's A Lady," Murray Head's "One Night in Bangkok," Warren Zevon's "Johnny Strikes Up the Band," or if you're really adventurous, try Manfred Mann's Earth Band's 1978 cover of their 1960s hit, "The Mighty Quinn." If you're daring, go for some Britney, Justin, Jessica, Ashlee, or even Ricky Martin (yes, "Livin' La Vida Loca"...I dare ya!). Just, whatever you do, don't request the Bloodhound Gang's "Fire Water Burn." And if you put in a request, let me know about it here.

If you don't wanna request something, then go to any number of sites that'll put your money in the right place-- the American Red Cross is a good place to start.



Don't Shoot Me...I'm Just Buying Gasoline!

Whew. Everyone out there better be sure to carry a baseball bat and make sure your auto insurance is paid up as you head to the pumps today. To say prices are volatile is an understatement. People are at the pumps acting like madpeople--punching and hitting each other just because one person thinks the other is "stealing" the gas that is "rightfully theirs." Regular grade gas is anywhere from $2.67 to $2.85 per gallon if you can get it in the Pittsburgh area. (I say 'if' because many stores around here are out of regular grade gas.) I've seen premium gas up to nearly $3.50. Gas is also $3.42/gallon in Atlanta. Rumor has it this is only the tip of the iceberg. Thank you Katrina, and f*** you OPEC.

I also believe cheapgas.com has requested a domain name change to nosuchthingascheapgas.com, or expensiveashellgas.com, or somesuch. Friends of George W. Bush and OPEC are phoning in comments of sincere thanks. I also think OPEC is holding hourly masses praising God, Allah, or the deity of their choice. People are also suddenly discussing the downfall of the entire infrastructure of the country, or just the downfall of the entire airline industry.

Inflation is right around the corner. Produce costs will soar, as will the price of anything carried by truck. Prices are on their way to...well, experts say $4/gallon, but I say $5. In this case I hope the experts are closer to the real figure than I am.

Let's hope it settles down soon, else it's just back issues and old books & magazines for me.

Just to state the obvious: anywhere near minimum wage ain't gonna cut it anymore.

Be careful out there. Like I said: baseball bats, auto insurance. And watch for water in the tank.

Why couldn't Reagan have kept up the research avenues for new fuel sources in '81 instead of vetoing all the legislature that President Carter put forth? Can't anyone see it's bad to rely on one type of fuel?

Is www.screw-you-opec.com taken?



More Fun (But No Comics)

I'll post in-depth later, but for now:
  • I don't personally know anyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina, that passed through parts of Missisippi and Louisiana since Sunday night; however, that said, any people who are in those affected areas or know people down there--heck, everyone in general: you have my condolences, and I hope everything gets better down there soon. Life goes on.
  • "You learn something new every day" dept.: I'm guessing the 80s band Mr. Mister was a Christian rock band. I haven't done any research, don't know a thing about 'em besides, but just yesterday I realized that their song "Kyrie" is not about a girl (silly, silly me), and is in fact a riff on the Greek mass' enunciation for "Lord have mercy" (Kyrie Eleison). I say thee "huh."
  • Similarly: Anyone ever seen a movie from the 60s called Oh! What a Lovely War? The guy down at the barbecue stand at the bottom of the hill recommended it highly. It's allegedly a satire on par with Dr. Strangelove (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), which is absolutely brilliant. If you've seen it, speak up.
  • Remington Steele is the best TV show produced in the early 1980s. I'm halfway through season 1 on DVD right now, and it's fantastic. Buy it, rent it from Netflix, I don't care...just watch.
  • Work continues to grate. Remind me to tell you how the best advice I've offered so far was "Call the cops." Remember, it's a tech support line.
  • I think I'm finally getting ready to write my first original novel. I'll be picking up a copy of Writer's Market shortly. Meanwhile, I'll just say it's very Twilight Zone, with a decent mix of autobiographicality and metafiction. Still in the outline stage and doing heavy research. Don't worry, I won't neglect my dear fans like you--I'll still be posting semiregularly here. I may have to cut back on the interviews & reviews soon enough if the book really gets rolling. By all means, pray that it does go well, because then, those of you who don't know me in person will be able to meet me on a nationwide book tour as I go full steam ahead to #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.
That is all...oh, and yes, the infamous "lost post" is forthcoming. Check back in the archives for the topic I keep saying I'll talk about but never have. It's on its way.



Ode to Marzbar...You Know Who You Are

And although it's probably way outside probability, I hope you're reading my blog. If you are, then maybe you'd be surprised to see this entry, and maybe not so much. Or maybe you just enjoy Googling your own nickname from college and seeing what comes up, in which case, voila.

I'm acting a bit silly, I guess. I keep seeing one of your old AIM screen names popping up on my Buddy List and then just as quickly going away. I don't know if it's really you, or if someone else just happened to pick out that same nickname once you'd deserted it. (For all I know, someone stole your cell phone and that dratted AIM box keeps popping up every time they use it...) So seeing the nick pop up made me think of you, and thinking of you made me think of the few good times that were, and the many more that might have been...had I been a better man.

(Just so we're clear, all: the name up above? It's not the lady in question's AIM nick. So, nyah.)

The few occasions when we did talk together are etched into my mind forever. I just wish I was ready to step forward, take you by the hand, ask you out on a honest-to-gosh date. We met in the SFO at college, do you remember? You and your friend Kristin sat near my friend Liz and I at the first meeting of the semester--a screening of "Being John Malkovich," which, admittedly, I didn't want to sit through because I'd already seen the movie. But, hey, I wanted to join the club, and, having been away from campus for a semester due to illness (following some life-changing events...bad breakup and subsequent diagnosis of a chronic illness), I needed to ground myself in college life, and that meant going out and making new friends. I guess you were appointed.

I think at the time I was still in "date no one" mode, and maybe I also had a feeling or two for Liz, whom I'd only just met weeks before. Who can say? But weeks passed, meetings were held at your and Kristin's dorm. And the next thing I knew, I wanted to get to know you better.

Do you remember the time I dropped by the diner where you worked in the middle of the night? Here's a secret: I wasn't coming from any party downtown. I just came from my dorm, a few blocks away, to see you. You, with your glistening blond hair, intriguing eyes, warm smile, kind heart. We talked--about our respective college careers, movies we liked, books we'd read--and I let myself go for the first time in far too long. And then I walked you home at--what was it, 4 a.m.? I think I was beaming the whole way home.

I didn't know you had someone else...Jason, was it? The next time I went to the diner, I met him. Next thing I knew, you were gone from the diner, and I only very rarely saw you again. Some meetings for SFO, a chat or two on the phone, and at that winter choir performance at the Music Building. I guess the window of opportunity had passed.

So consider this a love letter, a few years too late, from me to you. I don't know where you are, or what you're doing, or if you're already married with kids. But I hope you've thought of me, and I hope we meet again someday. Most of all, I hope you're happy with where life has taken you.

I miss you, Marzzy.



This Message Will Self-Destruct in 30 Seconds...

I'm geeked out to the hilt, fellas. And it's something I can't really tell you much about, which is what irks me. So bear with me and I'll follow this up in a later post.

Everyone knows by now that I have an interviewing gig at Comixfan, in addition to reviewing. My first two interviews are up--one with Stuart Moore, writer of DC's Firestorm, and the other with Tony Bedard, writer of Marvel's Exiles series. If you haven't done so, surf over to the site and check out my articles.

So yeah, I came across promotional stuff (covers) I can't share until it's posted with a future interview.

But it's frickin' cool.

Not only is it frickin' cool because the artist is superb, but also because, well, one of my favorite characters, who hasn't been seen in about 8 years in comics, is represented prominently on said promo piece. (If you know my AOL screen name, you know who I'm talking about.) So prominently, do I dare hope that he has a similarly sizable role in the story behind the artwork? Here's hoping.

Last word: Marvel 2099, dudes. (Okay, two words.)



"Mein Kampf" for Children

Whee, this is fun. I hate to go two political entries in a row, but this is necessary. I think my brain just went "China Syndrome." (Sorry, Rod!)

I guess humor has found its way into the kiddies' section at your local Barnes & Noble Bookseller. Katharine DeBrecht and Jim Hummel have written and illustrated a book titled Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed! I saw this on the news today and couldn't help but sigh. Parents, you can combat liberal indoctrination perpetrated by 99% of today's media by purchasing this little book, reading it into your iPod, and setting the looped recording at your sleeping children's bedside 7 days a week, until like a miracle, your children will begin quoting long passages from the book without knowing how they knew all this stuff!

Seriously, I'd rather teach a child to think for himself, and try showing him/her both sides of the political spectrum, than practice any sort of preachy indoctrination. That way lies madness. But then again, by asking them to choose, aren't I (gasp) practicing liberalism? Oh no!

Just for shits and giggles: take out "liberal" from the title and insert any describer that happens to apply to you. Would you be offended? Chances are you aren't alone.

No, I haven't read the book, and apparently the people who "reviewed" it on amazon.com are all bald-faced liars, because on said news program, they said it doesn't come out until late September. Anything I say now, those unaffiliated with my liberal leanings will say, is rampant speculation and is ugly, ugly, hideous ranting based on conjecture rather than fact. (paging Mr. Hannity...) I say the mere fact that there is a book out there whose purpose is to convert young, impressionable minds to a specific school of thought, no matter whether conservative or even liberal, is wrong. That's called propaganda, folks, and it doesn't get any wronger than marketing it to kids. Kids who cannot possibly understand the complexities of what it means to be "left-wing" or "right-wing." You know, little future politicos (not present ones) who think wings are things associated with flying animals and angels?

And if--if--this is a satire, then it's in poor taste, because kids don't recognize satire. Not only that, the best satires, the best expressions of views, are done quietly, subtextually, slickly. From the information I've seen so far on this book, it's got all the subtlety of a door spring-loaded with spikes from a James Bond movie, or the laser Goldfinger had aimed at 007's crotch. This book just perpetuates the hideous stereotype of conservatives as illiterate lunkheads. (Which they are, but--aww, skip it. Hiya, choir! I preach to thee!)

Life experience is a better teacher. Indoctrination at an early age is a tactic used by people fearful what their children will grow up to become. It's a tool of the weak. (It was also a tool of the Soviets, and the Nazis used it on the Hitler Juden with anti-Semitic stories.) Why use obvious parodies of Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy as shining examples of "the enemy" if not to breed contempt in young minds for the real people? (Hint: one of them's on the Presidential short list for '08.) A better question to ask in this instance is: why are conservatives such as the authors of this book so afraid of letting their children grow up and think for themselves? Why do they want to instill this kind of hatred and cynicism in their kids?

Kids, if your parents try reading you this book, get the gun out of their top drawer (crawl up so you can reach), and shoot them. Parents, if you are thinking about getting this book to read to your kids, take some Zoloft, and if that doesn't work, refer to what I'd have your kid do.

Remember folks, smart people are not (necessarily) evil. Dumb people can be leagues more dangerous.



America's Love Affair With the Stupids Continues Interminably

Iraqis keep dying, as do our own soldiers. Pro-and anti-war peoples converge on the ranch down in Crawford, Texas, where our fair President is taking his record fiftieth vacation. (Not to worry, he's getting his daily briefings and making non-prepped, awful-sounding speeches to let us know he's apparently still working.) How'd we get to this point? How do people still believe that the war is just and that it's worth fighting and that we can possibly win?

I'm saddened at the U.S. of A. We've got a terrible anti-intellectual bias infiltrating its way across the country, and it's succeeded in restoring George W. Bush for another term filled with lies, schemes, anti-liberal jargon, and anti-science bullcrap. No, I'm not anti-Republican; I'm anti-Bush. The one man who knew what was going on in the most corrupt administration this side of Richard Milhous Nixon, General Colin Powell (Ret.), saw that to try and light the way with truth and reason was not going to work, and rather than be forced to tow the company line and carry on this truly sickening series of events in the Middle East (today, Iraq; tomorrow, some other country that has a "Q" in it that links them to Al-Qaeda), he stepped down. The only horrifying consequence of that action was that in came Condi and no voice of dissent/reason was there to stop Bush from doing what in his mind needed to be done: namely, wrecking our democracy and plunging the world into armageddon.

Fact is, President Bush wrecked every business he got his hands on. Oil business tanks? Daddy was only too glad to give him another. What makes the average person think he won't end up wrecking the U.S. just like he did the companies he headed? Worse yet, he seems to believe the American public act at his whim, and not the other way around. We hired you, buddy--try to not screw up.

Why was Bush elected? He had one hell of a spin doctor in Karl Rove who helped him hide the bodies. Also, again, America had an attack of the stupids. No Arabs are good Arabs, some major one-sided thinking on the part of WASPs who can't even tolerate African-Americans. Oh yeah, racial profiling is our friend, of course. SCIENCE IS BAD. Science creates monsters, y'know! Even embryos which will never, ever be used to make babies should never, ever be used for stem cell research that could potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives because life is sacred and they might really, truly, someday be babies no matter what scientists say. After all, scientists are wrong about evolution, too--God obviously made us and the Earth in six days. (I'm being facetious, but I'll come back to this later.)

And we can't ever trust smart people. Did I mention that? Smart people know more than average people, and can use their intelligence against us, to hide things and do bad things while we think they're doing good things. So if we give the job to a guy who's just average-smart, he won't have the brainpower to do anything that we don't want him doing. He won't be able to hoodwink us! Jeezus, what genius. It's working really well so far. Newsflash: some smart people can act dumb. Another newsflash: it's patently obvious that Mr. Bush's brain has been pickled by years of alcohol and drug abuse, and...good grief, have you heard his unrehearsed speeches from the Crawford ranch? Do you need more evidence? Quite frankly, I'm amazed that anyone who actually listened to what the man said voted for him after the disastrous series of debates he had with John Kerry last year.

People, I get that Cindy Sheehan is being exploited by the news media, her story being stretched too far. But is she wrong to express her opinion? To many Conservatives, yes, she is, and she should shut the hell up. I say you should be able to express your opinions no matter how they differ from those in power, so long as you're not breaking any laws. And that goes especially during wartime. Make your voice heard, but be sure to do it after having reviewed enough facts to not seem like an idiot. Don't do anything "just 'cuz."

Still think the news media is wrong and that everything in Iraq is hunky-dory? Read the Baghdad Burning blog for something truly enlightening about daily Iraqi life.

Still think Bush is pro-technology and a middle-of-the-road Republican? Read "I Miss Republicans" and "The President and Intelligent Design" over at Kung Fu Monkey. You gotta love this stuff.

Bring our troops home. The longer the insanity continues, the worse we look to the rest of the world. It doesn't matter what we think we're doing--the fact is we started in the wrong place, haven't captured who we want to capture, and the next Vietnam is here--what matters is what everyone thinks we're doing. And it looks like we're plowing over Islam and proving we're the Great White Devil that Bin Laden thinks we are. Bin Laden's people attacked us, which gives us a license to kick his butt in Afghanistan, not a license to try and bring the whole of Arab nations together under the veil of democracy or to attack a completely different nation just because they share a "Q" with the name of the terrorist organization that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.




In 6 Months, I'll SO Be Running the Joint...

I'll try to make a few long-awaited blog entries very soon. In the meantime, know ye that I got a job, starting tomorrow. Help desk, call center. The hours will probably be too short (or too long, in that case, benefits would be good), the pay's definitely too little, but a resume credit's a resume credit. You know what they say--the first post-college job is the hardest to get, but once it's gotten...



Movies I Hate to Love: Van Helsing

Ever seen one of those movies that seems absolutely horrid on first viewing, but then, just like a fungus, it begins, quite unbidden, to grow on you? And the more you watch it, the worse it gets. It's worse by far than a train wreck in slow-motion. Everything in your head screams at you that you shouldn't like this movie, but somehow, something in it appeals to your hidden baboon instincts, and whoop, there it is.

So it is with me and monster-movie-gone-seriously-awry, Van Helsing.

(Forewarned is forearmed dept: Those who don't want the film spoiled for them, um Gottes Namen, cease reading now!)

I didn't like the movie at all when first I saw it in the theatre. Hugh Jackman's a good, solid actor, and he's manly and heroic and all. Kate Beckinsale is, truthfully, pretty damned sexy in her latter-19th-century corset and leather, and I like the Balkan accent. But the monsters? Richard Roxburgh is no Bela Lugosi, Shuler Hensley is a poor man's Frankenstein Monster, and there are too many werewolves in the story to ever truly get a bead on them.

On top of that, Van Helsing has been transformed into an All-Purpose Monster Hunter (TM) rather than the psychologist-cum-vampire killer he was in Stoker's book. He also turns out to be some immortal on-par with Dracula himself--"The Left Hand of God," Dracula calls him. And to add insult to injury, writer/director Stephen Sommers makes him into a 19th-Century James Bond, complete with secret organization backing him (combined with a modern 'deny everything' bent that makes him look to society at large as an enemy a la Spider-Man of sorts) and his trusty sidekick, Friar Carl (who, thank God, is not named Quentin, or Quincy, or anything else that would remind the audience of his true inspiration--James Bond's trusty Q, be it division or just Desmond Llwellyn). Also, there's the trivial matter of the first name change--from Stoker's Abraham (possibly an early Mary Sue character, since Stoker's first name was Bram, short for Abraham) to Sommers' Gabriel Van Helsing.

Then, we start getting into deeper crap, the likes of which one needs a shovel to sift through. Dracula and his brides have litters of dead kids that are hung in webby sacs that hang from the rafters of the castle proper. It's said during the film that hundreds of these born-dead nasties come from a single birthing. Dracula's purpose in the film is to use the techniques Victor Frankenstein perfected in his creation of the infamous Frankenstein Monster to bring his own children to life. Y'know, the vampire reproductive process, I thought, was generally a bite and a suck and that was that, but it appears something changes the fundamental human biology. My brain crashed and had to reboot when first I tried considering just how the whole vampire impregnation and birth process takes place. It's something I still can't wrap my head around. Steve (Sommers), if you're reading this, can you offer some insight? Or is this just one big plothole? Do all these mini-eggs just fly out her cooch and stick to the ceilings, growing and then somehow "dying on the vine," or do the Missus Draculas grow to have 200-foot wide wombs and expel all these puppies at once, or what? Help a brotha out.

Lastly, we get to that nasty problem of "only werewolf bites can kill Dracula," which is sure to be invalidated the moment Van Helsing 2 goes into heavy production. We've seen it all over the years in vampire films. Roses, stakes, silver, garlic, fire, decapitation, dismemberment, yadda yadda yadda. Can anything really deal the Prince of Darkness his final demise? It seemed an arbitrary, nonsensical addition to the canon. Werewolves. Ha! It might help if we knew how/if a relation between werewolf and vampire came to be, and why it only pertains to Dracula.

But now, I've finished watching the film for maybe the third or fourth time since getting it on DVD last Christmas. And you know something? I've fallen under its spell. I love the sets, I love Van Helsing himself (in a manly way, dammit), those vampiresses (Josie Maran and the one with red tresses are hot--the brunette, ehhh), and I even like the pitiable creature the Frankenstein Monster has become. (Although I still don't buy Carl's "I'm not supposed to help you!"/"I want to live!"/"All right!" spiel at the end.) I even like Dracula in this one (even though Max Schreck and Christopher Lee are still my favorites). The film's not remotely scary, but it's very atmospheric and that counts for a lot.

It's weird fun and I hate myself for loving this flick. In a different way than hating Sommers' two-and-a-half Mummy flicks. I hate it so much that I bought the single-disc release at Best Buy, took the bonus disc out of there and hocked the movie itself to a friend, then got the 3-disc "Ultimate Collector's Edition" of same, put the old bonus disc in there, and even now keep watching this flick.

Anyone else have any flicks they feel the same about?

Maybe if I get a good response to this article, I'll post more film stuff. Pipe up!



I Love My Pens (And Some Steelers Talk, Too)

Looks like the lockout was the best thing for those Pittsburgh Penguins.

This just in for those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few weeks: the Penguins hit the jackpot when they were awarded the first overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, selecting 17-year-old hockey prodigy Sidney Crosby, who's been wowing the hockey world since he was just a li'l pup. He's been called the next Great One, the next Lemieux, the next whatever else. On the strength of his being drafted, former Pens and players around the league are said to be coming out of the woodwork wanting to be signed by the Pens, eager for the chance to play alongside the Next Big Thing(TM). I even hear rumors Pittsburgh persona non grata Jaromir Jagr wants to come back. Truly, hell is getting unusually frigid this time of year.

I'm getting my tickets for some games tomorrow *fingers crossed hoping*.

See Sidney on tonight's Leno show on NBC, yo.

Oh, also FWIW, I don't care about Hines Ward not showing up at Steelers camp this week. If he wants to sit out the whole season, nobody's stopping him. The Steelers already offered him a contract that is head and shoulders above what any other Steeler in history has been paid. If he doesn't want to take it, that's his problem. Yeah, he's a good guy, but there are also limits to people's tolerance and generosity.

Crohn's Disease is on the warpath today--finally getting settled down now. No more hot sausage subs at Peppi's in the Strip for a while. (No, I don't eat the Roethlisburger.)

Also getting the silent films out. May watch Lon Chaney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, or maybe F.W. Murnau's Faust. Anyone up for Lang's Die Nibelungen?

Seriously, I'm doing thinking on the Weird Science "perfect woman" post. Doing some location scouting. It'll be up this weekend sometime.

In other news: the Hulk may have a daughter!



Not quite feeling superficial yet...

...but in other news, I hope everyone's bought their Tru Calling Season Two DVD sets this week. If you haven't, well, save your money for next week, when Anchor Bay Entertainment releases the set I didn't think would ever be released...until a few months ago, when word of the release came my way.

Without further ado: Profit: The Complete Series.

I assure you, it's every bit as good as it looks, and then some.

Also on the books from Paramount: War of the Worlds, Season One. Maybe Friday the 13th isn't too far away...


There Might Be a God

According to tvshowsondvd.com today, plans have been confirmed that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will be releasing "The Flash" on DVD, in late 2005 or early 2006. This news comes on the heels of a recent announcement that one episode of the cult TV show (my personal favorite amid all the superhero shows that ever made it to the airwaves) will be made available as part of Warner's 50th anniversary of their TV programming, as supplement to the 4th season Smallville DVD set.

Of course, also on today's plate: an interview at Newsarama with 30 Days of Night horror writer emeritus Steve Niles, who is also writing the one-shot Marvel Monsters: Monsters on the Prowl featuring art by Duncan Fegredo and starring a certain green-skinned behemoth whom I personally can't get enough of. The book is 48 pages, costs $3.99, and ships October 26th. The book already has a stunning Banner-to-Hulk transformation sequence (which you can see by visiting the above link). Could be the book of the year for me. I suggest anyone who wants to see an A-list writer on board The Incredible Hulk regular title pick this one up. In the interview, Mr. Niles expressed his burning desire to write the Hulk on a regular basis, and certainly shows the enthusiasm required for the project. He's begged and pleaded with Marvel's editorial, but has continually met with rejection. Marvel needs to know Steve Niles is someone we Hulk fans want on the book! So, you guys know the drill: buy Niles' one-shot, and write in!


You Really Don't Want To Know What I Think (Or: Shouldn't That Be "Hulk: Piece of S***"?)

Pray this one doesn't make it off the drawing board: recently, on amazon.com, it was "revealed" that the next Incredible Hulk trade paperback to reach bookstores following the "House of M" one will be called "Peace on Earth" and will be written by Daniel Way.

Now, I could have titled this post, "Retard Hired for Hulk Gig," but I've a little more couth than that, most days.

I've made no secret of the fact I don't like Mr. Way's work much, and I don't like the way he talks. He doesn't sound particularly "edjimacated." He's a cook (he says a "chef," calling CBR reporter Jonah Weiland a "dumbass" for making the mistake, but yes, chef, cook, same diff) that landed one fancy-schmancy award (the Xeric Grant) and who automatically feels that entitles him to a living tearing comic characters down one living legend at a time. He's written Marvel heavies like Spider-Man (well, guest-starring the villain Tombstone, draining all the flavor, and rearranging like a prison "drop-the-soap" dramedy), Venom (ripping the symbiote from the villain, attaching it to a dozen someone elses, involving men in black and exotic locales and--I'm sorry, are you falling asleep from the perceived similarities to John Carpenter's The Thing and Bruce Jones' run on The Incredible Hulk? Mea culpa!), Bullseye (proving you really can't screw up writing a character who never really had any depth of character for the previous 20 years, so why start now?), and Wolverine (old guy, knives in his hands, nothing remotely good has been done with him in at least 20 years...wow, sounds almost like that Bullseye guy!). I don't know who this guy has blackmail material on to get this many high-profile Marvel gigs, but I wish said Marvel associate wouldn't take the crap and would report the guy to the proper authorities already.

I haven't even gotten to my fun quotes portion of this entry. A year or so ago, Mr. Way was talking with Pennsylvania's very own Jen Contino about an upcoming project of his, an Ant Man series written for Marvel's MAX imprint, that was subsequently scrapped. I'll just post some snippets, for fun...make up your own mind whether he's just joking around or whether he cares that little for anyone besides himself:

"THE PULSE: What do you find the most challenging about having the variety?

The most challenging part is sitting down to write when all I really want to do is get f***ed-up and get laid."

"THE PULSE: Hank Pym in the Ultimates universe seems a little "Max" but the mainstream universe Hank Pym has never seemed that cutting edge or mature - at least before the Avengers 71 issue - so why was this Ant Man (as opposed to Scott Lange ) chosen for the Max series?

I don't know (just like I don't know about this "Avengers 71" thing). Marvel sent me this big book of old Ant-Man stories and said "go". I flipped through it--sometimes he got really small, sometimes he got really big...I didn't know what the f*** was going on. So I just read the first 6 or 8 pages of the first story, got it and went off."

"THE PULSE: What are some of the elements that will make this comic have to be for Mature readers?

The butt-f***ing, mostly."

"THE PULSE: Which would you rather be: Ant Man or Giant Man or Yellowjacket? Why?

Who the f*** are Giant Man and Yellowjacket? Doesn't matter: None of the above."

"THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?

I'm working on this movie called "Kill-Crazy Nymphos Attack". It's gonna be f***in' RETARDED."

You can read the interview for yourself right here. Don't say I didn't warn you folks. Seriously, there are no f***in' edits anywhere to be found.

Needless to say, I don't want to see this f***er anywhere near my Hulk.

And you can quote me on that s***.

Now, anyone got any questions for me to ask him in case I gotta do an interview with 'im for Comixfan?


Wouldn't Know It By Listening to My Radio

My name is Gary, and I'm a liberal.

(Stop looking at me like that's a bad thing.)

So it may seem strange to you what I listen to on the radio in the afternoon: The Sean Hannity Show.

Maybe that should be the vice I'm admitting as step one of this little 12-stepper. I think it's my one guilty pleasure above all others: listening to a guy on the radio whom I personally just can't stand, because in my mind, he has such a wrongheaded P.O.V. If the man leaned any further to the right, he'd fall over, or maybe if he just stays vertically and accelerates to the right, he'd be stuck in the Source Wall or something. (People who aren't fans of Jack Kirby's New Gods, need not apply.) I mean sometimes, very infrequently I'll add, I may share an opinion with the guy. We both knew Jacko was guilty (and yet he got off). And I don't feel all that terrible about John Roberts coming up as Supreme Court nominee.

Truth to tell, so much of the Hannity show is a comedy. How can it not be? In the Wild Wild West of Hannity's America, left is right, right is wrong, black is white, up is down, and George W. Bush is the good guy. Those lefties are just doing everything they can to bring the guy in the white ten-gallon hat down! According to Hannity, we lefties are lunkheads whose sole purpose is to come up with as many nonsensical reasons to hate the right as possible. If we happen to be right, that's a complete accident and can be solved by some creative tinkering. Meanwhile, Hannity hangs out with bigots (Mark Fuhrman), traitors (Ollie North), yes-men, and all manner of pondscum renowned for their "honest, insightful" opinions. In fact, his friends and their transgressions make Bill Clinton, whom he so frequently rips to shreds, look like a God's-honest saint.

Okay, some libs deserve the laughter when they call in, because some are so uninformed I have to laugh. But Hannity even makes fun of the folks who have solid opinions that run counter to his neocon ideology! Bush is a god and should never be questioned because he, Condi, Crummy, and D*ckhead Cheney are just so darn cool? Last I heard, it was every American citizen's God-given right to challenge authority, to speak our minds, to let it be known when we think the country is headed in the wrong direction. We got it spat back in our faces saying to suggest anything of the sort is treason and insults our men and women in uniform. "Attention kids, we're at war, so please, save your insults for the bureaucracy until we're finished." Sometimes the most patriotic thing we can do is voice opposition to what we perceive as injustices. That means, dear conservatives, "Nyah-nyah."

Don't get me started on how far to the right the American government is leaning, so far right that--oh, wait, I already used that analogy. So far right that it makes people like me look all that much further left. Where's the centrism? Gone, and apparently replaced by a whole bunch of Evangelical Christians. Born-Again Hypocrites. Say one thing and smoke another. Start a war, find a reason later. Never apprehend the guilty parties because, well, they finance the good ol' U.S. of A. Put all your cronies in one cabinet and toss the dissenters (Colin Powell, whom I like) out on their keisters. Sorry, charlie--we don't like Condi because she's too close to you, not because she's black! Ditto with Gonzales: ill-qualified, not because he's Latino. Yet, the Republican hype machine continues, reducing all us dissenters into blithering idiots, coining such witticisms as "Kerry Catholics" and "Turban Durbin." Yet, when we play the name game back, we're called on it. You call that fair?

I'm going to stop before my fictitious boss fires my quite real butt. (On that note, kids: soon I will wax philosophic about Remington Steele on DVD!)

In the meantime: links!





Yes, Yes, I've Been a Bad, Bad Blogger

I'm back. Hurrah.

Second: nearly got a job in Arizona. Actually, while I've been home for nearly two weeks, the employment agency with which I am registered wanted me in town (Phoenix) for an interview this last week, with the purpose of starting a job tomorrow. I told them I was back in Pittsburgh finishing up some business. I really need to start the move.

Problem: Crohn's Disease is currently on the relapse. Boo. Hiss. Probably the biggest reason why I didn't run for a plane ticket last week. Sorry, kids.

Fun: When in Arizona, I went to a few restaurants, the usual hangouts. And, surprisingly, the usual suspects were in attendance. At Alice Cooper'stown in downtown Phoenix, the same old waitress from 9 months ago was there. Similarly, at the friendly neighborhood IHOP, good ol' Maggie, Latina heartthrob, served me.

Not so much fun: When at Alice Cooper'stown, a spot I can't recommend highly enough, the family and I ordered "The Great One" BBQ feast, consisting of bunches of yummy stuff--enough for an army or three. While feasting on the ribs (mmm, ribs), I took one of the bottles of barbecue sauce (four flavors, collect-'em, trade-'em) and shook it. Nothing came out. Shook and squeezed harder, and BLAAAT! Out poured, nay, sprayed copious amounts of the red stuff all over me and my brand-new T-shirt. Oh, it was everywhere. What did I get for my trouble? A shiny souvenir T-shirt of my own choosing from the boutique in the front of the restaurant. I took one with the logo you'll see first on the website. And I had the leftovers later on. For what it's worth, the gunk came out of the other shirt--it's good as new. Two shirts for the price of one, and a great meal besides.

I'll put up some pictures of the restaurant soon. The place must be seen to be believed. Rock memorabilia, sports memorabilia (a Lemieux jersey hanging from the rafters...yay!). The wait staff all wear black eye makeup in the traditional Alice style (and first-timers to the place get their eyes done up as well). Yes, Alice stops by often, as do a lot of his buddies from the worlds of music, movies, and sports. The celebs are encouraged to sign the walls. (The best by far: "All in all it's just the best spot on the wall!" signed next to the ladies' restroom by Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.)

I have plenty more to talk about, but will refrain so I remember to come back soon. In the meantime, kiddies, check out your local Best Buy store this coming Tuesday to secure your copy of their exclusive Tru Calling - Season Two DVD set. It includes one never-before-seen-in-the-U.S. episode among the six in the set. Yes, the show was hit-and-miss, but if the weblog of Tru writer Doris Egan is anything to judge, the second season, had it not been canceled so early in the season, was going to step things up to true grand guignol level. In other words, from mediocrity, good stuff. (I'm talking to you, Liz!)

More to come.




My condolences to any and all Brits out there due to the senseless violence perpetrated in London...well, for you guys it would be yesterday. Just like on 9/11, when the world declared "We are all Americans"...well, today, I'll at least say I'm a Brit. (Even though I'm really not...darn, but it doesn't pay to be remotely flippant today.)

Any Brits who feel like speaking up, the floor is yours.


P.S.: I'm going on vacation tomorrow for a week, trying to find a job out west and trying to have fun. (No San Diego Comic-Con this year, sorry folks.) I will return next weekend with mindless, prurient ramblings...something about having to wait to be seated at a restaurant until the wait stuff is done dancing, and oh, purely physical stuff about the opposite sex. Stay happy while I'm gone.


Nothing Delusional About This: Fallen Angel

From Peter David's weblog:

Flippin' fantastic. This is as good as it gets, kiddies. FALLEN ANGEL--a creator-owned comic I've been following since its beginnings over at DC (who treated the book like a nasty, redheaded stepchild and got it canceled after 20 issues), is coming back this winter compliments of the fine folks at IDW. Peter David is still writing his creation, of course, but the original series artists, David Lopez and Fernando Blanco, will not be returning. When I heard that, I thought it was a bit of a travesty--until I saw the above picture. A new artist has arrived--one that might just 'save' the Fallen Angel and bring a new awareness to the title. I'm not saying Lopez and Blanco were bad--the new guy, J.K. Woodward, is just that much better.

Pick this one up in December, peoples. And in the meantime, pick up DC's first and only trade paperback collection.



Making the Big Time: Batman Begins Movie Review

Hey, all,

Check out my review of Batman Begins at Comixfan.com:

Batman Begins Movie Review

Now, if only this review came up on Rotten Tomatoes... *sigh*

Anyone else see this flick? I give it a 4 out of 5.



I Did It (So You Won't Have To)

Compliments of Yahoo's message boards...the funniest message subject lines, regardless of matters of personal taste:

Jesus Juice For All at Neverland
Pedophilia Legal In California!
Jacko Freed! Whackos Celebrate!
Rich Black Man Free to Molest Again (okay, this one's racist...take 'black' out and it still reads funny)
Just Wait Till He Molests His Own Kids
Jacko the Ripper Parties Tonight
Boys Jumping Out of Cakes at Neverland Tonight
Sleepover - Milk, Cookies, Boys Served at Neverland Tonight
MJ to OJ and Blake: "Couldn't Have Done It Without You"

So which are the real headlines, which did I paraphrase, and which did I make up for a quick funny?


Living in Bizarro World (The Michael Jackson Edition)

Goodbye people,

Me am not very upset today. Me becoming less upset the less me doesn't think about it.

Jacko, good woman, am found guilty today. On no counts. Me happy. Him did good things to little boys and got punished for it! Why? Justice have been served. Verdict is proof money not buy...um, verdicts. Mesereau not shyster lawyer. Jurors not really afraid of being ones who find Jacko not guilty! They good people. People remember: where no smoke, no fire! Him been accused before for nothing!

Between this and not living in Bush world, me ready to not take razor and make self live.

Me live in Bizarro world, where down am not up, where right am not wrong, where yes not mean no.

Me will not talk about verdict later, when me am not so calm. Me not really want to know what you think.



(*To not read this message the way it not meant, please not use reverse of nothing me said.)


A Blatant Attempt to Spice It Up Around Here (Or: SEX! SEX! SEX!)

Good morning, campers!

(So it's afternoon, almost evening. Who cares?)

I am one of the tragically un-hip. That much is a given. As proof: I went to a bar for the express purpose of singing karaoke last night. And I go every week. Doesn't that just scream, "Loser"?

So I'm waiting to see if I'll be up one last time, so I can sing some Barry (Manilow, not White; not "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe," but rather, "Copacabana (At the Copa)"...yes, I'm continually aware that I suck). And meanwhile, there's a group of girls, with a few guys, in back. One of said hot, hot, hot graduates from the drama queen academy starts to pester me about letting her and her friends sing the next song with me. Offers me a twenty. My buddy Brian whispers, none too softly, that I should ask for--yeah, you guessed it--*makes sucking noise*. Have the girl make like Monica Lewinsky. The reason I say Brian said it none too softly was that next thing you know, she starts volunteering half her cadre's services in administering said action (without asking any of them, natch). Are we having fun yet? Of course, not being the epitome of James Dean-style cool, and never having been in said situation before to consider a response, I'm struck dumb.

You know what song they wanna sing? Gloria Gaynor's 1979 ode to homosexuals the world over, "I Will Survive." They tell me "Copa" is too old and they don't know it. Never mind, of course, that Manilow's song debuted only the year before "I Will Survive." So, they want to emasculate me and make it up to me by sucking my d!ck.* Are we having fun yet?

I turned 'em down. Of course I turned 'em down! Guys around who may or may not be boyfriends, girls freely attempting to loan out their girlfriends for sex (okay, so most young people today don't consider oral to be sex, but anyway...)...it all adds up to cruelty. But I could have had more fun with it. You know, I could have asked for a sign of good faith. I could have even gone so far as to *gasp* actually sing the song they wanted me to sing. (I have thought about it, even though I don't go...the way most guys who sing that song go.) What's the best line I could manage? "Let me think about that for a second.....ummmmmmmmmm, no."

And then I started singing the Barry, using the wireless mic my buddy brought, and dancing with a few older women (to qualify: a few years older than me) in tow around the bar.

Please, someone just kill me.

Or teach me to be cool.


P.S.: Some time later, the same girl had whipped cream from the birthday girl's cake in her hand. As Brian sang around the bar, she went up to him and smeared some on his face. He quickly took said cream and smeared it right through her hair! I had to give him a high-five. Good grief, that was funny. Worst thing is, it seems she didn't even really notice.

P.P.S.: * - Self-censorship brought to you by the guy dressed as a pirate in Michael Nesmith's Elephant Parts that brought you the letter "I."


The Hype Machine Continues Interminably...

More reviews:

Last Hero Standing #1 Review
Dracula Vs. King Arthur #1 Review
Incredible Hulk #82 Review
Firestorm #14 Review
Green Lantern #1 Review
The OMAC Project #2 Review

Check me out!

Oh, and a new Ruddfu--um, I mean Fuddrucker's opened up in Pittsburgh, so I'm gonna go try out the grub tonight. (You know, the joke never gets old....switch two letters and voila!)



First, the Comics Industry...Tomorrow, the World!

Hey all,

I forgot to mention I'm now an official reviewer at ComiX-Fan, with about 6 reviews up right now and one more before the night's out. Check me out over there on a regular basis!

Adventures of Superman #640 Review
Batman: Dark Detective #2 Review
DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy #1 Review
The Flash #222 Review
The Incredible Hulk #81 Review
Manhunter #10 Review

And to think...it all started with people over at ComiXtreme pi$$ing me off (see my "Ruminations: Incredible Hulk #80" post)!


Siriusly F***ed Up

Last night, on the way home from my usual weekend jaunt to Dave & Buster's, I was listening to my newly-installed Sirius satellite radio. For those of you who don't yet have one, by all means, get one. But, beware. Beware Channel 11, "Kids' Stuff."


No, really. Chancing across this channel made a longstanding thought from the back of my head (check under the hair, it's there) come to the fore. What was so terrible about this station, above all others? It was this little ditty called "Sk8er Boi." Okay, you wonder, what's so bad about that? It wasn't sung by Avril Lavigne, but rather, by some studio musician and a bunch of kids! Yes, refer back to the station's name. Back in college, I remember watching TV and a commercial came on, an ad for a new CD with today's pop hits sung by kids! Is this concept as ludicrous to anyone else out there as it is to me?

Now, if you answered "no," then maybe you just don't know the song. It's about a guy and a girl who do the nasty, she has a kid, he goes on to become a big rock star, and he's got this girlfriend he now has sex with, and she convinces him to write this song about the girl I mentioned at the beginning. And this isn't somehow weird to have kids singing this song and broadcast it on a kids' station? The same thing occurred to me when I watched that old ad, because one of the songs featured was Michelle Branch's "Are You Happy Now?" also sung by kids. The world is really strange.

On the even more bizarre side: on Sirius Hits 1, I listened to an "aLl MaShEd" version of Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious" mixed with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Weird!

~G., waiting for the Kidz Bop version of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know"

P.S.: Or how about Ashlee Simpson's "Lala"?


Yeah, Yeah, So Sue Me...

I know I'm pitifully late on updating this blog. It's not because I don't have anything to say--well, that may have a little to do with it, but it's mainly because I'm trying very hard to get a job, whether in the Pittsburgh area, or out in Arizona. And some things have come up just this week that make Phoenix more probable, but also, make Pittsburgh potentially more appealing. More on that as it develops.

I'm also in mid-read of Peter David and Esteban Maroto's magnum opus "The Atlantis Chronicles," published by DC Comics. It's the history of Atlantis in the DC Comics universe between the time of Arion and the birth of Aquaman--a period I neither knew nor cared about until very recently. Peter (henceforth PAD) says it's his personal favorite of all his works to date, so I took it on faith, and was able to procure the 7-issue miniseries from a local comic shop and from an online vendor. It took me several months to find time to read it, but now I'm just about finished with #5, and the series does not disappoint. It's a pretty complex story of the Atlantean monarchy, its trials and tribulations over the centuries, and it's loads of fun. I like the trick that almost every section of the story is told by a different narrator, with different biases toward chronicling the history. DC Comics should seriously consider putting this series out in trade paperback format--I can't believe it's so good.

Also, I've been watching some TV, particularly The O.C. and Smallville, and I gotta say the latter is turning itself around nicely after being in a morass for most of the season. Clark hasn't been the focal point of a lot of the stories recently, and a few weeks ago, a good episode (the "Tale of Two Lexes") was marred by the reversion of Lionel into his "Magnificent Bastard" persona. And by the by, why is it that just about everyone who's a main cast member gets their memories wiped when they get really close to a K-freak or are affected by kryptonite? I was hoping that Clark would know that Chloe knows his secret by now (brilliant episode, that), but no, everything was wiped clean again by episode's close. C'mon, Al and Miles, don't be content with the status quo! Rock the boat!

And on The O.C., the moment I had waited for since the season premiere finally happened: we know that Ryan has an illegitimate kid, that Theresa didn't miscarry. It wasn't a surprise for me--pretty much a certainty from the premiere onward, but it was nice to see the plot acknowledged. And this week, George Lucas sold out once more by providing a special guest-spot on the show, a week before Episode III comes out. I'm sure this spot will be reviled soon just about as much as the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Nothing else I can talk about right now...maybe later.



A Crying Shame...

Guys (and femmes),

I'm upset. I'm miffed. I feel terrible. There's a great injustice happening right now, at corporate headquarters of music companies who wouldn't know good music if it bit them on the butt.

Anyone here heard of Manfred Mann's Earth Band? Yeah, they're a British prog-rock band that really started in the 60s with such hits as "The Mighty Quinn" and "Do-Wah-Diddy," but who changed their name (still keeping the name of the famous keyboardist who assembled the group) and attitude in the 1970s. They're probably best-known for their cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded By the Light," which, yeah, it becomes apparent after listening to the original, they reshuffled, streamlined and butchered to death, brilliantly and all at once. "The Roaring Silence," the album from whence "Blinded" came, was the pinnacle of the band's U.S. success, and they've been all-but-forgotten on these shores. Little does everyone know that Manfred and his band have released more and more albums. I certainly didn't even know until I chanced upon their then-new release, "Soft Vengeance," whilst vacationing in Germany in 1996.

It's really fantastic music, with good lyrics, snazzy synthesizers, and the brilliant voice of Chris Thompson, who's been with the band since the 70s. And it's a crying shame that these guys haven't had a record contract over in the States since, yes, nearly 20 years ago. And seeing as there's no great movement to get their music a wider degree of proliferation in these parts, it'll probably remain Britain's best-kept secret until the band drifts apart.

I just bought Manfred Mann's Earth Band's latest album, "2006," off a retailer on eBay, and am waiting for it to come in. Not only that, I've got 14 of their albums coming on seven CDs, including the redundant "Roaring Silence," which I already have. If anyone reading this would like the extra album, then just reply here or e-mail me privately and it is yours.

Anyone else have any "best band nobody's heard" stories to tell? I promise not to laugh--hard.



Seventeen Sketches, in My Sketchbook Will Glow...

Sorry it's been a while, guys--I have been busy. Interviews are just the tip of the iceberg. The Pittsburgh Comicon was this last weekend, and I stayed up in town with a friend for easy transit and less waste of the precious gas. My buddy Rob of ComicMonsters.com warned his artist buds of my coming, and between meeting rising stars like Josh Medors, Chris Moreno, and Chris Burnham, and reacquainting myself with luminaries like George Perez, Gene Gonzales, and Tommy Castillo, I rounded up a bunch of autographs and nice sketches--seventeen sketches, in fact! That beats the old record by more than double, I think. Go ahead. Be jealous--hate me, just don't quit reading my blog! I'll make it worth your while by posting the sketches!

See? Neil Vokes doing Space Phantom. Fun!

More later!



If Anyone Cares...

Current news:

Still going to be doing reviews as soon as I'm able, which will be toward the middle of next week.

Cheer if you want to see me tear any of the following to shreds: The O.C., Veronica Mars, Alias, Tru Calling, Smallville, 24.

Monday I have an interview for a temp IT position up in Butler. Relax, guys, the job's in Wexford. Hopefully the job workshop I've been attending this week will serve me well. Wish me luck!

D&B hijinks forthcoming (I hope) this weekend.

Uhhh, anything else? Also being kept busy...mom chaining me to a desk and forcing me to help her with an MIS report. Oh, the agony!

More later.



Ruminations: The Incredible Hulk #80

(Note: Last month, I posted follow-ups to reviews of recent HULK issues at a comics review site that shall go nameless (let's just say they take their love of comics to an extreme level and leave it there). After last month's debacle, during which I had the audacity to compare the current work to writers & artists previous (as if that isn't somehow inherent in the current work--ha!), I got in a heap of trouble with the powers-that-act-like-fascists. So, I got out of said bad situation, y'know, with free speech being my bag an' all. I don't really wanna talk about it anymore; so now, without further ado, my unbiased and unedited opinion of HULK #80...)

"Tempest Fugit: Part Four (of 5)"
Writer: Peter David / Artist: Lee Weeks

After flirting with possible explanations for what the mysterious island is and what's really happening there, Bruce Banner inadvertently, finally sees the big picture...or does he?

Four issues into Peter David's second run on the title he made a tremendous success, it's apparent that it hasn't taken him long at all to get his "sea legs." In fact, if it's even possible to judge this new run in comparison with the quality of the one previous, I've got to hand it to PAD: he seems to have a clearer idea of who and what the Hulk character is, and what he represents--to the reader, to Banner, to others in the Marvel Universe. And I'm genuinely shocked to find the flavor of this storyline has mirrored the old Englehart/Thomas/Wein & Trimpe monster-fests of the 1970s (particularly in how quickly the metamorphoses seem to occur, and how infrequently Banner appears), but with a modern sensibility.

But first, let's get back to the flashbacks that introduce the Hulk as a force during Bruce's teenage years. Here, we're seeing the split between friends, as it were, where the relationship between personalities first turned antagonistic. It's fun, it's palpable, and the lead-in to what's sure to be revealed next issue is jarring and, let's make no mistake, very Columbine-esque. To the casual observer, Bruce Banner was a troubled teen. Is it really that much of a stretch to have this kind of scenario plant some real seeds of discord to mar Banner's life? It's quite inventive, and I'm finally settling into the idea of the Hulk "awakening" long before the Gamma Bomb detonated (even if I'm left scratching my head about how the Hulk really got his name).

Last issue, we got a rather unsatisfying explanation for what's happening on the island: it was a top-secret military project code-named SMASH. Eh. Here, as Wolverine attacks the Hulk, there's another, more comic-booky theory posed by a certain time-traveller who's crossed paths with the green goliath before: Kang (for those not in the know, check HULK #135 for that li'l encounter). It's clear that Bruce, good old reintellectualized Bruce, doesn't believe the line of horse-hooey Kang spews, and here I was pleasantly reminded of the strong characterization of Banner from Peter's old days on the book. Banner's no longer the spineless, average joe who slept with Nadia Blonsky and let her slip him special "vitamin" pills in the shower (under previous writer Bruce Jones). This is a Bruce Banner who knows the score in many a discipline and can outsmart nearly anybody. Bravo.

Of course, off the strange explanation of timelines in flux and a delightfully off-color insult that Bruce hurls Kang's way, another monkey wrench is thrust into the works, one that I was thinking might come into play and one that may well rile fans of the talents who scripted everything since David's last tenure. Has everything that happened to Bruce and Hulk since 1995 been a falsity, a delusion? I think not, but then again, I've been surprised before. Still, the strip is self-aware enough to give some genuine thrills and laughs, and for that, Peter gets major props.

So who's behind the Hulk's recent agonies? Well, just ask yourself: which of his villains is adept at casting illusions in the form of those the Hulk's encountered in the past, often using alien species around which to craft those illusions? I'm worried about the character as displayed in #78 as the architect of this adventure, but that aside, it looks like more fun with the Shaper of Worlds and his apprentice, Glorian. Looks like we'll see next month.

Rating: ****1/2 out of 5



Beware Tinky Winky's Purple Pen of Death

Hey there, caballeros:


Good f***ing grief, Charlie Brown. The sad state of education in the United States of Bush continues to go accelerate downhill at a rapid rate, defying all the laws of physics, and here, friends, is proof in lavender. For those of you who haven't heard, the color red is now a no-no when teachers grade students' tests and other papers. It's "too stressful" to those poor ne'er-do-well students, and has been vetoed, bumped out to the curb outside the school, right smack on its ass. The local 7-11 who made a mint on red ink pens is now being forced to carry purple pens or face a tragic loss of business. Okay, so maybe 7-11 doesn't supply schools with pens, but you get the idea.

Purple is the new red, and red is the new black, and black is definitely out when it comes to school fashions, pretty much always.

And parents have just been statistically proven to be frickin' insane.

Forget the obvious, that red is just plain easier to see than purple. Forget that red marks have pretty much always existed since there were red pens; in fact, I wouldn't be halfway surprised to learn red pens were invented for the sole purpose of grading papers. Let's go back to what colors mean. Yes, different colors mean something. Fact is, they serve pretty notable purposes. And red? It's a very emotionally intense color. It's a stimulant, enhancing human metabolism, increasing respiration rate, and raising blood pressure. (It also pisses off bulls something fierce.) It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stoplights, and fire equipment (all indicators of danger, generally speaking) are usually painted red. And blood is, of course, red.

By comparison, what's purple? Blue is stable, red is energetic; ergo, purple combines both. Back in the Middle Ages and before, purple was the color of nobility because it was so difficult to produce the color (as such, only the elite could have purple things). A number of things are said to be epitomized in purple: power, nobility, luxury, ambition, wealth, extravagance, wisdom, dignity, creativity, independence, mystery, and magic. 75% of pre-adolescents prefer the color to all others. Light purple is feminine; dark purple can cause frustration.

And, of course, the gay Teletubbie (or so the Right would tell you) is purple. Coincidence...?

Now, lest you think I've flipped and forgotten my point altogether, I'm aghast that the establishment would make this terrible move. Figure the old way: the more red marks on a paper, the more danger should be felt because not doing well in school is bad! Makes sense, doesn't it? Well, forget about it! With purple, students should feel regal and proud when many marks are strewn across a paper! Make failing students feel at ease! Why didn't I think of this before? Make students feel content, nay, privileged for reaching such depths!

Why not go all the way? Why not grade with a blue pen, and make failing students feel totally relaxed and calm? Remind them of heaven, not hell (as red may symbolize to some)? Blue symbolizes intellect and reason. It's cool and serene.

Why do parents want to make their kids feel more relaxed and calm, which in my mind produces complacency and inaction, when instead they should feel indignation toward doing such a piss-poor job in their school work? It's sending the wrong message and schools across the country should be ashamed of themselves. Encourage mediocrity, encourage failure, because you don't want kids feeling bad about themselves? Rubbish! Repeat after me, kids, with your red-penned papers in hand: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Get better grades by having that bright red failing grade leap off the page!

Why am I feeling like I've stepped into Bizarro-ville? And why do I feel like I'm the only one who's noticed?

Next up: tiger cubs nurse at fortysomething zoo worker's teat, film at 11...



Hey, Baby, I'm Flexible

So...what superhero are YOU?


Accursed Cliffhangers of Dracula

All this week, I've been in the process of converting a bunch of my VHS tape collection (well, what little remained after I threw 80% of it out) to DVD via my handy TiVo with burner. And after digging tapes out to convert, and doing some research on said programs, I gotta say: AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Okay. Deep breaths. That's better.

Maybe I should start at the beginning: too many years ago to mention with a straight face, I watched a two-hour telefilm called The World of Dracula. It starred a then-young Michael Nouri (infamous for Flashdance, opposite Jennifer Beals) as the prince of darkness himself, who had become so disenchanted with his everlasting existence that he became a lowly history professor at a junior college (teaching, quite naturally, night classes). He was pursued by the grandson of his mortal enemy, Van Helsing, and his girlfriend Mary, whose mother had become one of Dracula's victims. I remembered quite liking Nouri as Dracula, with the right accent, and the right charisma (but that hair was all wrong!). And Carol Baxter as Mary was at least moderately yummy.

Only later did I discover that World was, in fact, not a "real" telefilm, but rather an assemblage of the pieces of an actual TV series called Cliffhangers!, created by Ken Johnson (who'd also been responsible for The Six Million Dollar Man and, of all things, The Incredible Hulk live-action series). The concept of the series was simple: conjure the feel of the old movie serials where every week's installment ended in a cliffhanger, to be resolved the next week. To that effect, three series each of distinct genres were created, with each having 20 minutes' screen time per week. Of course, TV watchers in 1979 weren't quite ready for a series that they had to watch every week, and the heavily-touted series not only premiered with abysmal ratings, they sank even lower and Cliffhangers! was canceled after only 13 installments. And where did World fit into the puzzle? Well, it (under its then-title, The Curse of Dracula) has the significance of being the sole series to complete all of its installments prior to cancellation, ten in all.

So, when I threw out old videotapes, I naturally saved World as a curiosity, and here I am after having converted it to DVD and re-watched it. And between my research online and watching the ending all over again, as the good Count might say, I have come to an inescapable conclusion: The World of Dracula tells only half the story! That's right: all these years, I was watching only the first five (apparently) installments of the series! Another telefilm, assembled from the remainder of the material, is out there: its name, The Loves of Dracula.

I knew the ending of the World telefilm wasn't pat at all, ending not with Dracula's death, not with a resolution of any of the main plotlines. In fact, it added a complication in the return of Mary's thought-dead mother, who instead had become a vampire, like Dracula. The thrust of the story at World's end was that Dracula was seducing Mary, like he did her mother, and she was but one bite away from becoming an eternal child of the night. Mary's mother came as a strange ally, to help Kurt Van Helsing in keeping Mary away from Dracula's sway long enough to destroy him and the remaining six boxes of Transylvanian earth the Count must have nearby.

So, now I'm upset at myself for not seeing the obvious sooner, and I'm seeking out that second telefilm. I hear both it and World were released on VHS in the early 1990s, but are long out of print. If anyone has 'em...I will gladly convert it to DVD for you and me both to enjoy. How's that for service?

Anyone vaguely remember what I'm talking about? Anyone else have any favorite vampire films? Bueller?




We Now Interrupt This Blog...

Go visit ComicMonsters.com, register and get some prizes! (Yes, I'm actively involved in the site--it's not spam.) I'll make a regular blog post tonight, honest! I've been busy! Without further ado...


For Immediate Release

April 1, 2005

ComicMonsters.com, the internets leading news and information site for horror and monster comics announces its April contest.

ComicMonsters.com and Chanting Monks Press president and horror writer Joe Monks are joining forces for a month long promotion that features an exclusive interview, special project announcements, and a month of giveaways of Chanting Monks Press prizes.

Week 1: Signed copies of Roadkills & The Night Terrors and a copy of Zacherley's Midnite Terrors #1

Week 2: Signed copies of Roadkills, Stuff Out'a My Head paperback and ZMT #2

Week 3: Roadkills, Stuff Paperback, and copies of Night Terrors and ZMT 1 & 2

Week 4: Roadkills, Stuff, ZMT 1 & 2 and Night Terrors with tee shirt

Week 5: ZMT 1, 2, and 3 signed, Stuff Out'a My Head paperback and copy of the Flowers on the Razorwire DVD.

For a chance to win any of the cool prizes involved in this promotion, all you will need to do is go to ComicMonsters.com and register, its free. A winner will be picked each Saturday. Use this link below to register for a chance to win: You will get an email confirmation of your registration that you will have to click to activate your membership.