Friday, December 31, 2004


It seems like I've been reading Young Men Coming of Age stories for my entire life, and particularly recently. Does anyone know of any good Young Women Coming of Age stories? Books, comics, short stories, etc.

Entering the Horseshoe Cafe

I slowed my pace and frowned and considered. I love the air in autumn, even still, and especially at Monument Circle on my lunch break. It just smells . . . orange, if that makes sense to you. Like fall. And fall (and orange) tastes like pumpkin pie. Why, why pumpkin pie! I wanted a piece of pumpkin pie, I wanted it right then, and more than anything else in the whole wide world! I looked around the Circle for where I might buy a piece of pie, like a pie stand, or, or wherever they sold pie from. My god, where did they sell pie from? I don’t know that I’d ever bought pie somewhere before. I was never much of a dessert man, truth be told, and when I was I almost always, without fail, opted for the tiramisu. My eyes spied a sign, one with flashing red and yellow bulbs, right across the Circle, almost 180 degrees from Bagel Hut, and the sign read Horseshoe-flash-Café-flash-Horseshoe-flash-Café-flash. Horseshoe Café! It had big windows and booths, and even a counter, if my eyes didn’t lie. Even from across the Circle I could tell that this, this was a real diner, the kind you might see on the television, the kind that might, in the fall, serve pumpkin pie.

I pushed the door opened and a bell jingled, a bell tied to the corner of the door with a shoestring. It was a new shoestring, white and fresh and straight from the package. The floor of the diner was linoleum and the tables were too, and the seats in the booths were padded and puffy. The stools at the counter were padded and puffy and everything, the stools and the counter and the tables and the seats and the floor and the walls, they were speckled gray over their own colors of white or green or red. A metallic silver something surrounded everything, and the whole place glowed with the residue of a powerful cleanser. There were a few men occupying the booths, burly and unshaven and of the construction worker variety. They wore mesh caps that said things like “Boone Construction Co.” and “Harvey’s Heavy Lifting,” and then had a picture of a crane. It was quaint and folksy and somewhere, meat was sizzling.

I sidled up to the counter and had a seat, a smile on my face. The most radiant vision of beauty approached from behind the counter. Her nametag read Carol.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Flush with gift certificates and xmas cash, I took a trip to my local video distributor and comic book shop, respectively, this week. Just in case you were wondering what to read, watch, and why:

THE OFFICE SPECIAL: 90 minutes and a few extras, wrapping up most of the loose-ends from Series Two. It's one of those things I'm sorry to see end, but all the same, it has the best ending I could have hoped for. It's TV done right, folks.

JLA CLASSIFIED 1&2 by Grant Morrison and Ed McGuinness: Nearly 10 years ago (egads!) Grant Morrison helped start a trend in superhero comics that is only now quieting down, and in the first two parts of this three-part story he's returning to the JLA for a spell. I liked issue one a lot, introducing menacing villains and lots of supporting characters that I don't know but get the gist of all the same; issue two felt a little flat, however, as if it was simply taking 20-odd pages to make sure I understood all that happened in the last issue. I'll definitely pick up the next issue to see how it all turns out, but I'm grateful that this is only a brief return for Grant. I'd rather see him do new things, like We3 and the upcoming Seven Soldiers project for DC.

CONCRETE: THE HUMAN DILEMMA 1 by Paul Chadwick. I was surprised to see this one out. I haven't kept up on Previews in a long time, and it seems like it's been a good five years since the last CONCRETE series. I picked it up, but I wasn't sure what to expect after all that time--if the series would still hold up, or if I'd still be interested in it. There were a few neat tricks--the x-ray shot into Larry's brain on page 7 was neat--but mostly it feels like Paul and the character are revisiting themes that have already been covered. THINK LIKE A MOUNTAIN seemed to move the character in a new direction and STRANGE ARMOR was a way to re-examine the character's beginnings through that new lens, but one issue in to this six-part series, THE HUMAN DILEMMA feels like a step backwards. But I'm interested enough to see how it pans out. I thought it was interesting that the cover is signed "Paul Chadwick '01."

THE SHAOLIN COWBOY 1 by Geoff Darrow. Also a surprise--I had no idea Darrow had a new project coming out, and I don't even remember his last one. I've also never heard of "Burlyman Entertainment," but the inside cover says it's a Wachowski Brothers venture. The plot feeds off of cliched characters I feel like I've seen a thousand times, but Darrow's art is intricate and itriguing. I especially like the ten-page panel in the middle of the book, and the lizard's movement across panels in the beginning. If it survies to issue 2, I'll pick it up again.

QUIT CITY by Warren Ellis and Laurenn McCubbin. This is the only title from Ellis's Apparat project that I picked up--though I love Carla Speed McNeil, the artist on FRANK IRONWINE, it looked like the sort of character and story I've seen from Ellis before. QUIT CITY did too, but I don't have as much work from McCubbin as I do from McNeil on my bookshelf. McCubbin's faces are strange, beautiful and familiar--almost distractingly so, but I was alright with that, considering the plot was nothing new from Ellis. I wonder if he's more interested in packaging than story these days, and if he'd just be happier as an editor/publisher than a writer. That way he could wonder and experiment with form and format all day, and let other folks craft the stories that utilized them. He's been dipping his toes in a lot of different pools since TRANSMET ended, and with the exception of the soon-to-conclude PLANETARY (which, admittedly, is a holdover from the project he started while TRANSMET was still alive), none of them have really flipped my skirt. That said, it's well worth the price for McCubbin's work. That said:

OCEAN 1&2 by Warren Ellis and Chris Sprouse. Much of the above applies here; it looks wonderful, blue and big, but Ellis isn't doing anything he hasn't done before. His main character here has appeared other places, in other forms, many times before. I don't mind reading Morrison tread on old ground in JLA CLASSIFIED because he's doing We3 at the same time; with Ellis, I don't see that same kind of newness and boundary-pushing.

BELLY BUTTON COMIX #2 by Sophie. I haven't read all of this one yet--I flipped through it and got caught up in two pages of a longer story about a guy and gal meeting on a train (or bus, perhaps), looking at each others' sketch books, and going home to sleep together. I wanted to see how it ended, so I picked it up. Artistically, it has a polished-Jeffrey Brown kind of feel to it, from the two pages I saw, at least.

DIRTY FOUND #1. I love FOUND magazine, and this is a special issue with "the KINKIEST, RAUNCHIEST submissions to've been passed to your friends at FOUND." Dirty emails, dirty photographs, dirty drawings, dirty love notes, and best of all, stories of where and how they were discovered. If you like peeking into other people's sock drawers, and by god I know that you do, go find you some Dirty Found.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

If I May:

My Grandma died on Xmas Eve. The family was over for dinner and gift exchanging. The clearest memory I have of Grandma isn't about her directly, but the painting of Jesus she had hanging in her old blue house. It's hanging in her new white house too, I imagine, but it's in the blue one where I remember it. That white house was never a Grandma sort of place, to me, even though I'm sure she liked it a lot better than the blue one.

That painting was the first exposure I had to Jesus, as a man or a force or whatever he might be to you. I asked my mom (because I was a shy kid, and had a hard time asking things of grown-ups who weren't my parents) if that person in the painting was Grandpa as a young man. She said he wasn't. I asked if he was a relative. She said he wasn't. So, I asked, why did Grandma have a painting of some dude in her living room?

I don't remember how the conversation went. I don't have kids, so I don't know how that conversation works at all, but I imagine it's a weird one. Grown-ups are busy most of the time informing kids as to how things work--logical outcomes and methods of reasoning. If it's raining outside, and you go outside, you get wet. If the stove is hot, and you touch the stove, you get burned. And then they have to explain abstract concepts like faith and supernatural ones like men with beards raising from the dead. When things like that happen in the movies and it freaks us, as kids, out, our folks tell us it's just a movie. But that guy in the painting, he did it for real. But, er, no one else can do it. Ever. Well, my own prejudice is leaking through here, and this is supposed to be about something else.

I have fluctuating opinions about death. Logically, on days when I'm feeling logical, I suppose that nothing happens at all. Hopefully, on days when I'm feeling hopeful, I suppose that there are things in the universe I'm not quite capable of understanding, in which case something might happen after all.

On this trip to Ohio I read a book called American Skin by Don De Grazia. In the book, Alex Verdi explains about babies. I'll paraphrase.

You know babies? You know how we're told, that when babies are babies, and their mother or father or anyone else leaves the room, the baby is incapable of reasoning that they'll come back. The baby figures they can't see them, so they don't exist anymore. Alex Verdi, in the book, explains death as being like that. It's like (and this is me, further opining) when adults leave the kids alone to go do adult-things. The kids don't yet have the capacity to understand what they adults are doing. Grandma is like that now, maybe. She's gone, but only in the sense that the rest of us left don't quite understand what she's up to. But eventually we'll figure it out, and we'll trust that those left will figure it out in time, too. It's no use explaining to the kids left in the nursery, because they just have the tools to understand it yet.

I wonder what will happen to that picture of Jesus. I hope it doesn't end up sad and lonely in some yard sale. I know, in my head, that it doesn't matter what happens to that picture of Jesus, that it's not Grandma's concern anymore, and that letting it go back into the stream of people will allow it to alter more lives the way it altered mine, by bringing Jesus up in the first place. But all the same, I hope that Jesus finds a good home.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Double Are Dee

After a spirited discussion at the Loft at Kensington:

We got our serious Double Are Dee Bowl on.

And then Betsy found True Love.

Happy Xmas, you two!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Outlaw Chess

Mr Fischer has been on the run from the US authorities for more than a decade, after being accused of breaking international sanctions by visiting Yugoslavia to take part in a chess match in 1992.

A brilliant but mercurial player, Mr Fischer became a grandmaster at 15 and shot to fame in 1972 when he beat Boris Spassky of the then Soviet Union.

He held the title of world chess champion until 1975, and resurfaced in Yugoslavia for the dramatic 1992 rematch against Mr Spassky.

He won the game, but disappeared when the US authorities announced they wanted to prosecute him over the $3m he earned for playing, which Washington said violated US and United Nations bans on doing business in the country.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Pentagon Memos and Mo'

From the Pentagon's Defense Science Board:

Opinion surveys conducted by Zogby International, the Pew Research Center, Gallup (CNN/USA Today), and the Department of State (INR) reveal widespread animosity toward the United States and its policies. A year and a half after going to war in Iraq, Arab/Muslim anger has intensified. Data from Zogby International in July 2004, for example, show that the U.S. is viewed unfavorably by overwhelming majorities in Egypt (98 percent), Saudi Arabia (94 percent), Morocco (88 percent), and Jordan (78 percent). The war has increased mistrust of America in Europe, weakened support for the war on terrorism, and undermined U.S. credibility worldwide. Media commentary is consistent with polling data. In a State Department (INR) survey of editorials and op-eds in 72 countries, 82.5% of commentaries were negative, 17.5% positive.

. . .

We call it a war on terrorism, but Muslims in contrast see a history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration. This is not simply a religious revival, however, but also a renewal of the Muslim World itself. And it has taken form through many variant movements, both moderate and militant, with many millions of adherents, of which radical fighters are only a small part. Moreover, these movements for restoration also represent, in their variant visions, the reality of multiple identities within Islam.

If there is one overarching goal they share, it is the overthrow of what Islamists call the "apostate" regimes: the tyrannies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Gulf states. They are the main target of the broader Islamist movement, as well as the actual fighter groups. The United States finds itself in the strategically awkward -- and potentially dangerous -- situation of being the longstanding prop and alliance partner of these authoritarian regimes. Without the U.S. these regimes could not survive. Thus the U.S. has strongly taken sides in a desperate struggle that is both broadly cast for all Muslims and country-specific.

This is the larger strategic context, and it is acutely uncomfortable: U.S. policies and actions are increasingly seen by the overwhelming majority of Muslims as a threat to the survival of Islam itself.

. . .

There's even more at DailyKos, including continued coverage of DEAN'S growing bid for DNC Chair.


When you order a hog in my neighborhood, this is how they bring it to you:

Parody Comics Seized by Customs

Grabbed this from the Beat:

U.S. Government Seizes Parody Comics At Customs

On October 27, U.S. Customs sent a letter to Top Shelf Productions notifying them that copies of the anthology Stripburger had been seized, charging that the stories "Richie Bush" by Peter Kuper and "Moj Stub" (translated, "My Pole") by Bojan Redzic constituted "clearly piratical copies" of registered and recorded copyrights. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has retained counsel to challenge these seizures.

"Richie Bush," appearing in Stripburger (Vol. 12) #37, is a four-page parody of Richie Rich that also satirizes the Bush Administration by superimposing the personalities of the President's cabinet on the characters from the comic. "My Pole," appearing in Stripburger (Vol. 3) # 4-5, which was published in 1994, is an eight-page ecology parable in Slovenian that makes visual homage to Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Woodstock in three panels. Customs seized five copies of the issue with the Peanuts reference and fourteen copies of the issue containing "Richie Bush." The stories were both published in the middle of their respective issues and no graphics from either story appeared on the covers.

Top Shelf is the American agent for Stripburger, an Eastern European comics publisher that releases anthologies of comics from cartoonists around the globe. The comics that were seized were sent along as an extra in a shipment of The Miniburger Dirty Dozen, a boxed set of mini comics that Top Shelf imported to offer in the Direct Market and at conventions. Top Shelf did not order the seized issues of the anthology.

Upon investigating the shipment, Customs released the copies of Miniburger, but held the issues of Stripburger, giving Top Shelf thirty days to either forfeit the shipment, request administrative relief, or initiate court action.

At the urging of Stripburger, Top Shelf and CBLDF President Chris Staros brought the case to the attention of the Fund as a potential news story. CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein felt the matter warranted serious legal attention, so it was sent to Burton Joseph, the Fund's legal counsel, whose opinion was that Customs was unlawfully holding First Amendment protected speech. The option of pursuing court action on First Amendment grounds was then taken to the CBLDF Board of Directors, which unanimously voted 8-0 to take up the case; Chris Staros recused himself from the vote.

On November 24, the Fund retained counsel in Charleston, SC who hand-delivered a letter to Customs stating that the comics are protected under existing First Amendment case law and should be either immediately released or that court action should be initiated.
"In this case, it looks like Customs is overreaching its authority," Staros says. "The comics in question are clearly within the acceptable bounds of parody, and there is absolutely no likelihood that consumers would confuse these works with the subjects that they are parodying."

Brownstein stated, "The stories that were seized are short segments within larger anthologies that in no way represented the content as anything other than what it is. The charge that these are piratical copies of existing copyrights is not only wrong-headed, but the seizure amounts to an unlawful prior restraint of protected speech. It is our hope that Customs will recognize that they have acted in error in seizing these stories and release them immediately. If not, we are prepared to go to court to protect the First Amendment rights that are endangered by this misguided action."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

First Amend-what?

This story has been making the blog-rounds the past few days, but in case it's been missed:

MONTGOMERY - An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries.

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda."

Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.

"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said.

. . .

The fella also proposed legislation banning gay marriage in Alabama, but it wasn't approved. I don't imagine this will be either, but all the same, it's best not to let this sort of thing be ignored. Michael Schaub at Bookslut is goodly enough to offer Rep. Allen's phone number, so do give him a call at (205) 556-5310 to express your thoughts on this.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Speaking of help . . .

Does anyone know of any good politically-minded blogs? I used to be on the Atrios bandwagon, but in the months directly prior to the election, he kind of lost me. Now he seems to spend a lot of time blogging about his cats. I kind of like DailyKos, because at least he's covering the DEAN/Democratic Party stuff. If anyone has any ideas, holla.

Word Searches?

My pal AnnieD is getting a cyborg leg in a few weeks. She sends out the following appeal:

"My people:

I am getting ready to hunker down for three weeks or so and learn how to walk again. Yes, that's right--AnnieD is finally getting her funny leg fixed on December 17, and I'm going to be bored to tears for about 65% of the time. Oh, there's grad school applications to complete, methamphetamine to manufacture, and that whole zine thing that still needs to get done--but then what? Huh? All I can tell you is that the last time I was incapacitated I became terribly addicted to an online, type-fast-as-you-can word-search game where I befriended the nation's unemployed and developed carpal tunnel syndrome. And I played--no lie--9,991 games. (They're *only* 30-seconds um.)

Not this time.

This time I am armed with a Netflix account and a library within close proximity. I will limp past the beguiling ways of the Internet and fulfill my destiny to become a couch potato. You can help. Please email me and tell me what great movies/great books you've watched/read lately, so I can add them to my to-do list. If nothing comes to mind, then tell me your favorites. Or both! If you can provide neither, please send me some money.

Thank you, and goodbye."

If you have any recommendations, do post them in the comments.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Potatoes of the Sun

There was a pounding in my ears, my heart or his feet and I couldn’t tell which. Both, maybe, or something else entirely. I ran down the hill, and I don’t know why, because I didn’t know where else to go to, I guess. I ran down the hill, taking smaller steps than I had going up it, trying to keep my legs ahead of the rest of my body. I heard a pounding in my ears, my heart or his feet.

It was dark out, closer to the next morning than last night. The grass was slick and I slipped in my shoes and fell back, both feet in the air, one foot up higher than the other, one arm up above me, the other behind to catch my fall. I landed on my butt, and then on my right hand, and I felt a sharp pain in my wrist. I got up immediately, not looking behind me and not even hearing. I got up immediately and I ran again and I slipped again and I fell again, this time forward, both hands held out before me. I landed on both hands, a sharp in my right wrist again, and then my palms slipped out from under me and I landed on my stomach. I bent my knees and raised up my legs, ready to kick myself forward and further down the hill, thinking now that I could hide in the ditch maybe, in the dry creek bed. Before I could kick off and further away, a hand grabbed my foot and pulled me back down to Earth. I twisted my head around and saw that devil, that mask, that man from the woods. I couldn’t see his eyeballs in the mask; in their place there were two black buckets of night surrounded by red devil. The face was rubber and expressionless and I panicked. His hand was gripped tightly on my calf and he was laying stomach-down on the hill, just like me, and I don’t know if he threw himself at me or if he had been crawling after me like a worm, like a snake, like a thousand-legger with feelers instead of eyes. I kicked at his devil-face with my free foot, but he clamped it down with his free hand (or claw, I don’t know) and he crawled forward, pinning my legs beneath his chest. He reached his hands forward, pulling himself up and over my body. His body was hot and heavy on top of me. I wriggled, tried to get out from under him, and his hands found my arms and were bigger than my arms and pinned them down. I kept wriggling and got an arm loose, reached forward and dug my fingers into the dirt, pulled myself forward before he crushed my arm under his hand again, but that let me wriggle my other hand free and I pulled forward some more, but he just kept pulling himself along with me like we were one multi-limbed, gibbering, wriggling thing.

I called out. I yelled, out loud, and I don’t know what I said. It felt like my voice, and it might have just been this wordless noise, it felt like my voice was trapped and sucked in by the gravity of his body, he was a black hole that nothing could escape. I could hear sounds through his mask, sounds like grunting, and I felt something against the back of my leg, something like I don’t want to say, something he pushed against me again and again and I screamed again and maybe I screamed for help.

He pinned my hands down with his hands and my legs down with his legs and only my head and face were off the ground, but I could feel something sharp against the top of my head, his chin pushing me down, but I resisted it and held my head up as best I could. I yelled but I couldn’t hear it, I could only hear him, could only hear him grunting and laughing and feel that thing against the back of my leg. The rest of me went still because I didn’t like it when I wriggled against him, I didn’t like it when he pressed harder against me the more I moved.

He suddenly yelled in surprise and jerked his body upward. He was still and he seemed to be looking and listening, he was not making sounds. I jerked again, and then a third time, and before the fourth time I could hear the air parting and space splitting apart, I heard the smack of something into his side and he lurched himself off of me. I laid flat on the grass and the man stood up and was struck again, I heard him being hit by something again and again, thump-thump-thwak, and I turned my head to see him and saw the small dark shapes striking him and bouncing off of him and hitting the ground at his feet. I saw Jesus somewhere behind me, winding up with his hands held tightly to his chest, one knee in the air, standing on one foot, dressed in a white robe and a baseball cap, a red one for the Cincinnati Reds. I saw an “01” stitched onto the back of his robe and I saw Jesus let loose a knuckleball that caught fire as it left his mitt, blazed through the sky, and struck this man from the woods square in the chest. The man ran, disappearing down the hill and into the woods, behind a bustle and thustle of sticks on the ground and red and orange leaves.

I raised myself up and saw potatoes on the ground around me, potatoes on the ground where the man had been. I sat up and looked up the hill and saw my friends, saw Shaun and Jerry and Face, potatoes of salvation in their hands even still, and I swear to god, but the sun was rising, red and orange and streaming behind them. It rose behind my friends and behind the hill and behind the trailer where Shaun’s parents still slept. Potatoes of the sun, driving the devil back into the dark.

Monday, November 29, 2004


I'm sure all the other nerds know this already, but Jim Lee--he of X-Men, Batman, Superman fame--has a blog that he updates fairly regularly. I haven't bought a Jim Lee comic in a long time, but I do think he's a really good super-hero artist--and the blog is an interesting look into a comic book artist's life and work schedule. He posts a lot of sketches and works-in-progress, including, lately, video of him drawing and inking pages and sketches.

I always enjoy reading work journals of other people, especially comics folks. Until the work journals start to fill up with pictures of half-naked ladies I used to date and people pooping on things, anyway.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

It looks like an 'e'

I kiss her index finger first, three light pecks on the spiral of her fingerprint. She looks at me with eyes too big for her head, and brown, and I look back and try not to smile. I kiss her middle finger second, three light pecks on the spiral of her fingerprint. The corners of her mouth are tugged by strings. I kiss her ring finger third, three light pecks on the spiral of her fingerprint. Her hair spills across her shoulders and across my pillow, and it’s curly and spirally. I liked it from the start, but I didn’t swoon until I saw it in a ponytail, pulled tight and curling down her back. I kiss her pinky finger fourth, three light pecks on the spiral of her fingerprint. She licks her lips to make sure they’re wet and she watches what I do next. I kiss her thumb fifth, three light pecks on the spiral of her thumbprint. She smiles at last and her lips are pink borders and her teeth are white, smooth, beautiful tombstones. I kiss the palm of her hand, once, long and slow. She closes her fingers around my face, and I laugh, too. She presses her hand against my face, wriggling her fingers and tightening her grip. I lick her palm and she pulls away, but she laughs, and we scoot our bodies closer, both at the same time. I kiss her mouth like there was nothing else I could do, and she kisses me back, and I'm so glad that at last I’ve done it first.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Dreamblog, pt. 3

Shaun reaches a point in his story where he stops, and he decides he wants to start writing on some of the pictures that are hanging on the walls. He finds one and starts to fill in the empty spaces on the paper. He’s writing about the new job he’s been offered. They want to pay him 3 million dollars for the year, to watch TV in public places, like restaurants or landromats or bars, to watch anything except the news. If he goes somewhere and the news is on, he has to change the station. His last job paid equally well. He was paid to go about his normal life, but he couldn’t brush, clean, or pick at his teeth for an entire year. This is how he makes his living, by taking jobs like this.

He’s telling us this, and he tells us he’s dead. He tells us he’s killed himself, shot himself in the head sometime in the recent past. “Who has all this money to just throw at someone for such a stupid reason?” he says. “And I thought this, this is what’s wrong with America. And if this is what’s wrong with America, then this is what’s wrong with the world. And if I’m doing it, if I’m accepting the money, then I’m what’s wrong with America. So if I’m what’s wrong with America, then I’m what’s wrong with the world.”

I tell myself, my dream self tells my real self, to tell Annie about this later. We’d been talking about something like this, about people our age who are out in the world and retreat when it becomes harder and scarier than we thought it would be. We talked about why this is, if it’s a societal thing or a generational thing, and I think I’ve figured out the answer. I think I’ve figured out that the state of the world and the state of the nation has made some people our age realize that if America is fucked up, and if we’re America, then we’re fucked up. And there’s nowhere to go back to, to make it right, because it’s always been fucked up, only they didn’t know it before. And so, in my dream, Shaun tells us that’s why he shot himself.

I wonder, if someone could go back in time, if they could see all of us, me and Shaun and Adrian and Jarrod and Doug D, if they could see us playing basketball and video games and picking on each other and laughing, if they could find the one who would shoot himself fifteen years later. Shaun was the best of all of us, the best shooter, the highest jumper, the fastest runner; the first to get a car and a serious girlfriend and the first to get a job and buy a house. But now, instead of being a teenager at the top of the pile, he’s a mediocre man with a mediocre job, just like the rest of us. I wonder, in my dream, if that was part of it too, if it shook him to his core to find out that that was as good as it got.

Dreamblog, pt. 2

We ride our bikes further down the paved road, through the trees. Shaun leads us on his bike to a paved path that turns and twists and ramps up, moving up to the top of a great stone tower in the middle of the woods. The path is broken up and ragged and the turns are sudden and sharp. The brakes on my bike hardly work, so I have to walk it up. Shaun and Doug D are ahead of me, Jarrod and Adrian behind. The great stone slab rises even higher than Josh Kramer’s house. Moving up the ramp, we encounter a woman who was riding down in a motorized wheelchair. She’s Josh Kramer’s mom, who turns around and follows us back up to the top. Three sides of the slab have stone walls that are covered with graffiti and artwork. Phrases, pictures, drawing hanging up—I take pictures of them with my futurephone while the others park their bikes and look. Shaun finds a piece of chalk and starts writing on the walls, improving a story about JFK being shot. He lets the words come out, telling the story out loud as he writes it. Whenever he stumbles, whenever a word doesn’t come automatically, he looks to the rest of us, to everyone who is listening to him, which is everyone but me, and the wiggles his fingers back and forth, and he takes the first word he hears, making it part of the story and moving forward from there. When he runs out of space, he simply moves to the next area of bare wall.

I’m not paying attention as Shaun tells his story. Josh Kramer shows up, from his house I guess, and says I should check out this story that Shaun is telling. I start to listen and I take pictures of Shaun with my phone. Shaun notices, but pretends not to. I notice that he hasn’t shaved today, that he has enough stubble that could turn into a full beard if he let it grow. I think it’s strange to see such a thing on a face that I knew so well from when I was a kid, from when we played basketball every weekend and were chased up hills by men who lived in the woods.

Dreamblog, pt. 1

On a trip with Shaun, Adrian, Jarrod, and Doug D, on our bikes. Our bikes are all old—the brakes don’t work very well and they’re all colored brown and tan and bland. We ride past a general store and stop to pick up some supplies for our trip. The shopkeeper is an old man, and while we’re in the store he’s talking about how he hates Jews. The others walk out, ignoring him with their heads down. I stay, arguing with him. I keep starting to leave, but the old man says something else that winds me up. I tell him, “You people want the Old South back, but you can’t have it. The Old South is dead, no one wants it anymore.”

I’m holding up a dustpan and waving it at him, thinking about hitting him with it. The old man holds up a piece of pipe and tells me it costs $1.37. If I want to wave something in his face, I should buy it and he’ll know I’m serious, that I’m a man. I leave the store and get on my bike and catch up with the others.

We ride down a paved road through the woods, passing Josh Kramer’s house. Doug D asks if we’ve ever seen the inside, because it’s really nice. Shaun said he’s seen it; Doug D asks if it was when Shaun was there at a sleepover with Jarrod and Shaun says yes. I’ve seen the inside too, at a sleepover with Jarrod, but no one asks me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Miami Street Folklore

To homeless children sleeping on the street, neon is as comforting as a night-light. Angels love colored light too. After nightfall in downtown Miami, they nibble on the NationsBank building -- always drenched in a green, pink, or golden glow. "They eat light so they can fly," eight-year-old Andre tells the children sitting on the patio of the Salvation Army's emergency shelter on NW 38th Street. Andre explains that the angels hide in the building while they study battle maps. "There's a lot of killing going on in Miami," he says. "You want to fight, want to learn how to live, you got to learn the secret stories." The small group listens intently to these tales told by homeless children in shelters.

On Christmas night a year ago, God fled Heaven to escape an audacious demon attack -- a celestial Tet Offensive. The demons smashed to dust his palace of beautiful blue-moon marble. TV news kept it secret, but homeless children in shelters across the country report being awakened from troubled sleep and alerted by dead relatives. No one knows why God has never reappeared, leaving his stunned angels to defend his earthly estate against assaults from Hell. "Demons found doors to our world," adds eight-year-old Miguel, who sits before Andre with the other children at the Salvation Army shelter. The demons' gateways from Hell include abandoned refrigerators, mirrors, Ghost Town (the nickname shelter children have for a cemetery somewhere in Dade County), and Jeep Cherokees with "black windows." The demons are nourished by dark human emotions: jealousy, hate, fear.

One demon is feared even by Satan. In Miami shelters, children know her by two names: Bloody Mary and La Llorona (the Crying Woman). She weeps blood or black tears from ghoulish empty sockets and feeds on children's terror. When a child is killed accidentally in gang crossfire or is murdered, she croons with joy. "If you wake at night and see her," a ten-year-old says softly, "her clothes be blowing back, even in a room where there is no wind. And you know she's marked you for killing."

The homeless children's chief ally is a beautiful angel they have nicknamed the Blue Lady. She has pale blue skin and lives in the ocean, but she is hobbled by a spell. "The demons made it so she only has power if you know her secret name," says Andre, whose mother has been through three rehabilitation programs for crack addiction. "If you and your friends on a corner on a street when a car comes shooting bullets and only one child yells out her true name, all will be safe. Even if bullets tearing your skin, the Blue Lady makes them fall on the ground. She can talk to us, even without her name. She says: 'Hold on.'"

. . . According to the Dade Homeless Trust, approximately 1800 homeless children currently find themselves bounced between the county's various shelters and the streets. For these children, lasting bonds of friendship are impossible; nothing is permanent. A common rule among homeless parents is that everything a child owns must fit into a small plastic bag for fast packing. But during their brief stays in the shelters, children can meet and tell each other stories that get them through the harshest nights.

More in the link. I'm not positive, but I think I found this story via Neil Gaiman's blog.

EDIT: Fixed the link. Er, if anyone's still listening.

Embedded Reporter in Iraq

"I see an old man in a red kaffiyeh lying against the back wall. Another is face down next to him, his hand on the old man's lap - as if he were trying to take cover. I squat beside them, inches away and begin to videotape them. Then I notice that the blood coming from the old man's nose is bubbling. A sign he is still breathing. So is the man next to him.

While I continue to tape, a marine walks up to the other two bodies about 15 feet away, but also lying against the same back wall. Then I hear him say this about one of the men: "He's fucking faking he's dead - he's faking he's fucking dead."

Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.

However, the marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another marine searches for weapons. Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down. "Well he's dead now," says another marine in the background."

. . . more in the link . . .

Friday, November 19, 2004

These are the People in Your Neighborhood

Found via TalkLeft. The full story is at the website:

A California judge yesterday told a 24 year old marijuana possessor that he could either go to jail or join the military.

Brian Barr was the victim of a home burglary. He shot and killed the intruder, and all agreed it was a justifiable act. Barr, while waiting for the cops to come, hid his marijuana stash. What upset the Judge was that Barr had a weapon and marijuana in his home.

Even the DA was surprised because people in that county are usually sent to drug treatment, not prison. And the military suggestion was never discussed and had never occurred in the county before.

I Am A Brilliant Team

Warren Ellis has a new STREAMING up. I'm not sure I buy the whole novella argument he's making, but I like this sentiment a whole lot:

"In that same interview, twenty years ago, Alan said that twelve top-flight committed writers handling, say, three monthlies each, could change the face of the medium. Lots of things have altered since, but try this: twelve brilliant teams producing three novellas each in one year. Wouldn't that be something?"

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Zombivania, 6-5000

MistressFoy has posted a proto-preview to the zombie picture she and Jen K. are making. I helped out for a day or two this summer, mostly by applying zombie makeup and holding things where they needed to be held. You can see it here. My favorite part is still the zombie lightbulb-string-twirl at the very end.

Things I Wish They Would Name The Movie:

"Zombies Are Forever"
"100% Zombie"
"Dude, Where's My Brain?"
"Zombies Gone Wild!"
"Zombie Humping, 1999"
"Faster Pussycat, Zombie! Zombie!"
"Zombiville, USA"
"An American Zombie in America"
"Zombies, Away!"
"Pay to the Order Of: Zombie!"
"Dead Can Dance"
"Q: What's That Eating My Mom? A: Zombies!"
"Undead America"
"Mid-Western Zombies Crave Human Flesh"

Monday, November 08, 2004

Death Masks

From the Thanatos Death Mask Gallery:

"A death mask is a wax or plaster cast of a mold taken from the face of a deceased person. Death masks are true portraits, although changes are occasionally made in the eyes of the mask to make it appear as though the subject were alive. For the last few centuries they have been kept as mementos of the dead, much like postmortem photography."

The index doesn't include names, but if you click on a picture it tells you who it is. I think it's especially neat to see folks like Benjamin Franklin, who we don't have any photographs of. There's also this one:

puported to be of a certain William Shakespeare. I've articles that say, yes, it's definitely the Bard; and I've read articles that say, no, it's certainly not. But either way, it's a death mask of someone, and it's been around for a few centuries.

A quick visit to the bottom of this comment page from Making Light's will give you names and links directly to all of the death masks at Thanatos.

With You, Always.

Brought to my attention by the thousand-times-talented Amy, who is part of the BigConfusionArt team: He's always over your shoulder.

When you're studying . . .

. . . cleaning someone's teeth . . .

. . . or driving a truck.

There are oh-so-many more at the artist's site. Of particular note is the french horn player.

Friday, November 05, 2004

More Double M

This is the last Michael Moore letter I'll reproduce for awhile, I promise. It was sent to me by Erik Wenzel, artist extrodinaire, who has many smart things to say about the current political and social landscape on his own blog. Wow, that sound so adult!


Dear Friends,

Ok, it sucks. Really sucks. But before you go and cash it all in, let's, in
the words of Monty Python, 'always look on the bright side of life!' There
IS some good news from Tuesday's election.

Here are 17 reasons not to slit your wrists:

1. It is against the law for George W. Bush to run for president again.

2. Bush's victory was the NARROWEST win for a sitting president since
Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

3. The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults
(Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always
wrong and you should never listen to them.

4. In spite of Bush's win, the majority of Americans still think the
country is headed in the wrong direction (56%

), think the war wasn't worth fighting (51%
), and don't approve of the job
George W. Bush is doing (52%
). (Note to
foreigners: Don't try to figure this one out.  It's an American thing, like
Pop Tarts.)

5. The Republicans will not have a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the
Senate. If the Democrats do their job, Bush won't be able to pack the
Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues. Did I say "if the Democrats do
their job?" Um, maybe better to scratch this one.

6. Michigan voted for Kerry! So did the entire Northeast, the birthplace of
our democracy. So did 6 of the 8 Great Lakes States. And the whole West
Coast! Plus Hawaii. Ok, that's a start. We've got most of the fresh water,
all of Broadway, and Mt. St. Helens. We can dehydrate them or bury them in
lava. And no more show tunes!

7. Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any
old nut -- a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut.
May Ohio State pay dearly this Saturday when it faces Michigan.

8. 88% of Bush's support came from white voters. In 50 years, America will
no longer have a white majority. Hey, 50 years isn't such a long time! If
you're ten years old and reading this, your golden years will be truly
golden and you will be well cared for in your old age.

9. Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married
in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't
have to buy now.

10. Five more African Americans were elected as members of Congress,
including the return of Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. It's always good to
have more blacks in there fighting for us and doing the job our candidates

11. The CEO of Coors was defeated for Senate in Colorado. Drink up!

12. Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.

13. At the state legislative level, Democrats picked up a net of at least 3
chambers in Tuesday's elections. Of the 98 partisan-controlled state
legislative chambers (house/assembly and senate), Democrats went into the
2004 elections in control of 44 chambers, Republicans controlled 53
chambers, and 1 chamber was tied. After Tuesday, Democrats now control 47
chambers, Republicans control 49 chambers, 1 chamber is tied and 1 chamber
(Montana House) is still undecided.

14. Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than
the one he's having this week. It's all downhill for him from here on out --
and, more significantly, he's just not going to want to do all the hard work
that will be expected of him. It'll be like everyone's last month in 12th
grade -- you've already made it, so it's party time! Perhaps he'll treat the
next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the
ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn't he? He's already proved his
point, avenged his father and kicked our ass.

15. Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very
dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two
scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn't ever need to pander to the
Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear
that he should spend these last four years building "a legacy" so that
history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for
too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and
arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such
major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from

16. There are nearly 300 million Americans -- 200 million of them of voting
age. We only lost by three and a half million! That's not a landslide -- it
means we're almost there. Imagine losing by 20 million. If you had 58 yards
to go before you reached the goal line and then you barreled down 55 of
those yards, would you stop on the three yard line, pick up the ball and go
home crying -- especially when you get to start the next down on the three
yard line? Of course not! Buck up! Have hope! More sports analogies are

17. Finally and most importantly, over 55 million Americans voted for the
candidate dubbed "The #1 Liberal in the Senate." That's more than the total
number of voters who voted for either Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Gore.
Again, more people voted for Kerry than Reagan. If the media are looking for
a trend it should be this -- that so many Americans were, for the first time
since Kennedy, willing to vote for an out-and-out liberal. The country has
always been filled with evangelicals -- that is not news. What IS news is
that so many people have shifted toward a Massachusetts liberal. In fact,
that's BIG news. Which means, don't expect the mainstream media, the ones
who brought you the Iraq War, to ever report the real truth about November
2, 2004. In fact, it's better that they don't. We'll need the element of
surprise in 2008.

Feeling better? I hope so. As my friend Mort wrote me yesterday, "My
Romanian grandfather used to say to me, 'Remember, Morton, this is such a
wonderful country  -- it doesn't even need a president!'"

But it needs us. Rest up, I'll write you again tomorrow.


Michael Moore

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

. . . going to shows . . .

Before the sinus medication makes me pass out . . .

I was thinking about SHOWS lately. The kids these days, they like the shows. The rock shows, the live shows, the show shows. They like going to shows, they like being tired from going to shows, they like bouncing cooly and/or standing silently and enjoying their shows.

I do not like going to shows.

For the longest time, I couldn't put my finger on why. I like music, and I like live music, and I like dancing to live music. It's kind of fun looking like a jackass, you know? But Going To Shows, I've never enjoyed. I recently the Empty Space by Peter Brook, which is a book abou theatre. It classifies theatre as Deadly, Holy, and Rough--Deadly is what a lot of theatre becomes, Holy is what it longs to be, and Rough is what it has to start out as if it wants to become that. The theatre is holy by nature, it's ritual--it's more than storytelling, it's an agreement and a collaboration between the people on stage and those in the audience. Theatre becomes deadly when it strives only for holy and forgets about the rough. The rough theatre is the vulgar theatre, it's puppet shows and smut. It's Shakespeare, you know? The rough theatre is when the actors from the House walk around in the lobby before showtime, already in costume. The rough theatre is accepting the audience as collaborators, in presenting a show to them instead of telling them to watch it. When it's rough, by nature it is elevated to holy--but it can't stay there for too long, or it becomes deadly.

The surest way to become deadly is to aim for only the holy. When a troupe puts on Shakespeare and think it means fake accents and elaborate costumes. It happens when the theatre, when the show exists with a gulf between itself and the audience.

I'm also reading the Grapes of Wrath, and I just got to a part where they're square dancing. The Joads are staying in a government camp, and every Saturday night they have a dance. There's a band, and the band plays, and there's square dancing. And that was it! With square dancing, there's music, but it's not about just that. It's not about standing at the edge of the stage and gazing up in awe and wonder, in seeing a person play in the flesh. It's about the music being played, right there in the same room, so you can dance to it. So you can swing someone around by the arm, look like a god damn fool, and have a good time doing it.

Going to Shows is like that. It's going to see a band play, or it's going to hear music, it's aiming for the holy, and it's deadly. It's moved away from something that was once really fun. It's not rough anymore. It's smokey and it's sweaty, but it's not vulgar. It's practiced and it's cool, but it's not embarrassing.

I don't like going to shows.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Letter From Michael Moore



This is it. ONE DAY LEFT. There are many things I’d like to say. I’ve been on the road getting out the vote for 51 straight days so I haven’t had much time to write. So I’ve put together a bunch of notes to various groups all in this one letter. Please feel free to copy and send whatever portions are appropriate to your friends and family as you spend these last 24 hours trying to convince whomever you can to show up and vote for John Kerry.

Here are my final words…

To Decent Conservatives and Recovering Republicans:

In your heart of hearts you know Bush is a miserable failure. From having no plan on what to do in Iraq once he conquered Baghdad to the 380 missing tons of explosives that could be used to kill our brave young men and women, this guy doesn’t have a clue how to fight and win a war. You should see the mail I’ve been getting lately from our troops over there. They know how much the Iraqi people hate them. They are sitting ducks anytime they go out on the road. Many believe we are not that far away from a Tet-style offensive inside the Green Zone with hundreds of Americans and Brits killed.
Bush refused to go after and capture Osama bin Laden. He fought, every step of the way, the investigation into the 9/11 attacks. Who on earth would oppose such a thing? If 3,000 people died at your place of work and your boss said we don’t need to find out why or how it happened, he’d be thrown out on his ear. Bush’s behavior after this great tragedy alone is reason enough for his removal.
You already know that George W. Bush is the farthest thing from a conservative. He’s a reckless spender who has run up record-breaking deficits and the biggest debt in our history. He believes in having the government pry into everything from your library records to your bedroom. He has hit you with hidden taxes with his tax cuts for the rich.
I know many of you don’t like Bush, but are unsure of Kerry. Give the new guy a chance. He won’t raise your taxes (unless you are super-rich), he won’t take your hunting gun away, and he won’t make you visit France. He risked his life for you many years ago. He’s asking for the chance to do it again. Scott McConnell at The American Conservative magazine has endorsed him. What more do you need?

To My Friends on the Left:

Okay, Kerry isn’t everything you wished he would be. You’re right. He’s not you! Or me. But we’re not on the ballot – Kerry is. Yes, Kerry was wrong to vote for authorization for war in Iraq but he was in step with 70% of the American public who was being lied to by Bush & Co. And once everyone learned the truth, the majority turned against the war. Kerry has had only one position on the war – he believed his president.
President Kerry had better bring the troops home right away. My prediction: Kerry’s roots are anti-war. He has seen the horrors of war and because of that he will avoid war unless it is absolutely necessary. Ask most vets. But don’t ask someone whose only horror was when he arrived too late for a kegger in Alabama.
There’s a reason Bush calls Kerry the Number One Liberal in the Senate – THAT’S BECAUSE HE IS THE NUMBER ONE LIBERAL IN THE SENATE! What more do you want? My friends, this is about as good as it gets when voting for the Democrat. We don’t have the #29 Liberal running or the #14 Liberal or even the #2 Liberal – we got #1! When has that ever happened?
Those of us who may be to the left of the #1 liberal Democrat should remember that this year conservative Democrats have had to make a far greater shift in their position to back Kerry than we have. We’re the ones always being asked to make the huge compromises and to always vote holding our noses. No nose holding this time. This #1 liberal is not the tweedledee to Bush’s tweedledum.

To Nader Voters:

See the above note.
Ralph’s own party, the Green Party, would not endorse his run this year. That’s because those of us who want to build a third party in this country know that the only way to do this is to build bridges with those who believe in the issues Nader believes in. But not one of those people will sacrifice the chance to remove George W. Bush from the White House on Tuesday. The choice here is clear: do we join with our friends, or do we piss on them?
After the debacle of 2000, the Democrats got smart and abandoned the conservative wing of their party. That’s why 8 of the 9 Democrats in the primaries this year were from the liberal wing. Ralph should take credit for that and declare victory. It’s so sad that he doesn’t realize the good he’s accomplished. But for reasons only known to him, he’s more angry at the Democrats than he is at Bush. He has lost his compass. I worry he has lost his mind. But he still gives a great speech!
And Lila Lipscomb, the mother from Flint who lost her son in Iraq, she still grieves -- as do the mothers of 1,120 others (not to mention the mothers of the 100,000 Iraqis who have died because of Bush’s war). That’s what this election is about. Not Ralph proving some point. Almost none of us on his 2000 advisory group are supporting him this year. His total lack of respect for his best friends should tell all of you something about what he really thinks of you, too.

To the Non-Swing States:

Stop listening to how your vote doesn’t count in this election and that your state is already decided for Kerry or Bush. It is critical that you vote because we not only need to give Kerry the electoral win, but he needs to have a HUGE mandate with an ENORMOUS popular vote victory as well. It will be impossible for him to get anything done for four years if there is no clear mandate. We must not only defeat Bush, we must put a stake in the heart of the right-wing, neo-con movement. If you live in New York, California, Illinois, Texas, the Northeast or the Deep South, you need to vote and you need to bring ten people with you to the polls. If you live in a state where we have the chance to elect the Democrat to the Senate or the House, you need to vote. Turn off the TV. Quit listening to news media that has a vested interest in repeating to you over and over that your vote does not count. It does.
If you have friends or relatives who live in the 30-plus non-swing states, call them and remind them how important it is that Kerry gets a massive popular vote victory.

To Non-Voters:

I understand why you stopped voting. Politicians suck. Nothing ever seems to change. You’re only one vote.
Yes, politicians suck. But so do car salesmen – and that hasn’t stopped you from buying a car. Politicians only respond to the threat of the angry mob also known as the voting public. If most people don’t vote, that’s good news for them ‘cause then they don’t have to answer to the majority.
Almost fifty percent of Americans don’t vote. That means you belong to the largest political party in America – the Non-Voting Party. That means you hold all the power to toss George W. Bush out of the Oval Office. How cool is that?
I believe that we are going to have the largest election turnout in our lifetime tomorrow. You don’t want to miss out on that. The lines at the polls are going to be long and raucous and fun. It is an historic election. You won’t want to say that you were the only one who wasn’t there. Promise me you’ll vote, just this one time.

To All First-Time Voters:

Welcome to the longest running, uninterrupted democracy on earth! You own it. It’s yours.
A few words about how messy it’s going to be tomorrow. The lines are going to be long. Bring your iPods. Better yet, bring a friend or two. The election officials have no clue just how many millions are going to show up at the polls. This will be the largest turnout in our lifetime. They don’t have enough machines. They are going to have to send for more ballots.
And they are going to make it difficult for you to vote. The new law says if this is your first time voting you must bring ID with you that matches the address you are registered at.
If for some reason they can’t find your name on the voting rolls, you have the right to ask for a provisional ballot, which you can fill out and then sort things out later.
If you have any problems at the polling place, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The people there can tell you how to find the precinct where you should be voting, get you legal help if you are denied the right to vote, or answer any other questions you may have.
If you need any help figuring out the ballot, don’t be afraid to ask. If you screw up your ballot, you can ask for another one. In fact, the law allows you to screw up your ballot two times before you finally have to submit your final ballot! Be careful to vote on the line that says John F. Kerry/John Edwards. Don’t vote for more than one Presidential, Senate or House candidate or you ballot won’t be counted. If your polling place has a stub or a receipt from your ballot, make sure they give you one.
Thanks for joining us. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It only works when we all come off the bench and participate.

To African Americans:

First of all, let’s just acknowledge what you already know: America is a country which still has a race problem, to put it nicely. Al Gore would be president today had thousands of African Americans not had their right to vote stolen from them in Florida in 2000.
Here is my commitment: I will do everything I can to make sure that this will not happen again. And I’m not the only one making this pledge. Thousands of volunteer lawyers are flying to Florida to act as poll watchers and intervene should there be any attempts to deny anyone their right to vote. They will NOT be messing around.
For my part, I have organized an army of 1,200 professional and amateur filmmakers who will be armed with video cameras throughout the states of Florida and Ohio. At the first sign of criminality, we will dispatch a camera crew to where the vote fraud is taking place and record what is going on. We will put a big public spotlight on any wrongdoing by Republican officials in those two states. They will not get away with this as they did in 2000.
In Ohio, the Republicans are sending almost 2,000 paid “poll challengers” into the black precincts of Cleveland in an attempt to stop African Americans from voting. This action is beyond despicable. Do not let this stop you from voting. I, and thousand of others, will be there to fight for you and protect you.

To George W.:

I know it’s gotta be rough for you right now. Hey, we’ve all been there. “You’re fired” are two horrible words when put together in that order. Bin Laden surfacing this weekend to remind the American people of your total and complete failure to capture him was a cruel trick or treat. But there he was. 3,000 people were killed and he’s laughing in your face. Why did you stop our Special Forces from going after him? Why did you forget about bin Laden on the DAY AFTER 9/11 and tell your terrorism czar to concentrate on Iraq instead?
There he was, OBL, all tan and rested and on videotape (hey, did you get the feeling that he had a bootleg of my movie? Are there DVD players in those caves in Afghanistan?)
Speaking of my movie – can I ask you a personal question before we part ways for good on Tuesday? Why did you and your friends fund SIX “documentaries” trashing me -- but only ONE film against Kerry? C’mon, he was the candidate, not me. What a waste of your time and resources! Sure, I know what your pollsters told you, that the film had convinced some people to vote you out. I just want you to know that that was not my original intent. Funny things happen at the movies. Hope you get to see a few at the multiplex in Waco. It’s a great way to relax.

To John Kerry:

Thank you.
And don’t worry – none of us are going away after you are inaugurated. We’ll be there to hold your hand and keep you honest. Don’t let us down. We’re betting you won’t. So is the rest of the world.

That’s it. See you at the polls – and at the victory party tomorrow night.

Michael Moore

Monday, October 11, 2004

Shockin' Y'all

FBI Seizes Global Indymedia Servers: Reason Unknown

"Indymedia has learned that the request to seize Indymedia servers hosted by a US company in the UK originated from government agencies in Italy and Switzerland. More than 20 Indymedia sites, several internet radio streams and other projects were hosted on the servers. They were taken offline on October 7th after an order was issued to Rackspace, Inc., one of Indymedia's web hosting providers.

"By taking down 2 servers more than 20 Indymedia sites were affected in different countries globally as well as several unrelated projects. Indymedia considers this extremely invasive operation a a serious threat to the Freedom of Speech worldwide."

I found it on Warren's site with a link to the BBC. I searched for the story on Yahoo News and came up with a link to the BBC story--I guess it's not a very big story here in the U.S. Huh.

supplies are limited

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

There Are Many Kinds of Crushes

STRANGER CRUSH--knowing when to fold 'em:

"One day back in 1896 I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry. And as we pulled out there was another ferry pulling in. And on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on, and she was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all. But I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl."

From CITIZEN KANE, screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.

There Are Many Kinds of Crushes

COOL CRUSH--they are famous, and I will never meet them. Maybe they are dead. Maybe they are more made up than real, in the first place. But they clever, and sometimes they are pretty, and always they have charisma. They make movies, they write books, they dance interpretively, they juggle or they play the harp. Perhaps they do all of those things, but they never brag. Or maybe they do brag, but I don't mind. Most of my friends do not understand, but those who do--oh, my. Those who do!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

There Are Many Kinds of Crushes

FRIEND CRUSH--we're pals. Oh boy, but we're pals. We pal around and take in movies and maybe grab lunch. We talk on the phone and we send funny emails and sometimes when I'm laughing alone (sock puppets in the mirror) or with others (making up breakfast cereals), I think to myself, "Oh boy, my pal would laugh at this too."

For a while, at first, I thought we might be dating. Boyfriends were not spoken of, but then neither were dates between ourselves. Every time we hung out I thought, "This time I will kiss her, or I'll know we're just pals." And each time I would not kiss her, but there was always an alternate explanation.

My friends might say, "She likes you. She definitely likes you, why would she write/call/drop in if she didn't like you?" But I just couldn't tell.

Or, I knew she liked me, and our hands might brush while we walked, or our shoulders would meet and our arms would press together during a movie, but afterwards there was no reference of either. It turned out she did have a boyfriend. Maybe she wanted to break up with him, or maybe she didn't but she still wasn't happy, but either way what happened afterwards between us, between pals, was not discussed.

"Maybe she's gay," friends might say.

And I start to say, no, she's not gay, but I wind up saying, "Well, she is kind of tough. She pins me when we wrestle."

"Yeah, but you're skinny," they tell me.

A lot of things are left unsaid. This is a confusing kind of crush.

There Are Many Kinds of Crushes

BOY CRUSH--non-sexual, but endearing. Like the friend-of-a-friend I don't have much in common with, but am awfully fond of all the same. We have no reason to hang out together, but sometimes we trade clever emails. "If only I had a sister," I think, "I'd set her up with you."

But sometimes the boy crush is not attractive, like the boy in my class who is so, so funny, and who sometimes looks at me when he makes a joke to see if I am laughing. But we do not talk casually. How can we? I have not made a new friend out of a boy in a long, long time. I do not know how to do it anymore. I don't even know if I"m allowed to do it anymore . . . can grown-up boys make friends of other grown-up boys when they don't want to kiss them? How does it work?

There Are Many Kinds of Crushes

CLASS CRUSH--on that girl in my class. She sat across from me that first day and I caught her looking at me and she caught me looking at her. Our teacher said we had to have study partners that we would trade contact information with. I figured when he said it was time, when he said it was time to choose, when he said it was time to choose our study partners I would look up at her and she would look up at me and we would be partners and we would date and we would kiss and we would make babies and we would fall in love. Our teacher said it was time. I looked up at her and she looked up at the boy next to her, so I looked up at the girl next to me, and that's who my study partner is.

Sometimes we still look at each other, the crush girl and I, but she always leaves very fast and I always have many things to put away.

Killing Me Softly With Your Handsome Head

I'm a big politics nerd, but I admit my interest has waned sharply these past few months. I was all aboard the DEAN Train last winter and early spring, but since Kerry took over I've been shuffling my toe in the dirt and saying, "Well, yeah, okay, I guess so."

But these debates have really gotten pretty hopeful. I voted Gore last time around, but even then I had a funny feeling things weren't going to work out. I had the same feeling through this summer, but after Kerry last week and Edwards tonight I'm starting to feel hopeful. I missed the Edwards-Cheney debate, what with school and all, but from what I'm hearing Edwards mopped up. Then again, I'm checking places like Atrios and DailyKos--they're fair, but they're also openly Kerry-Edwards supporter. I hope the polls reflect the same and Kerry keeps climbing.

Friday, September 24, 2004

That Special Season

Kelly Sue is goodly enough to remind us that, if you haven't registered to vote, you should do so now. You're running out of time. She also points us to a website that offers you the chance to win an obscene amount of money for registering. So either way, get registered and get voted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Nerd up!

Okay, so a few weeks ago someone calling himself Batman raided a kid's birthday party, and stole some cake. Everyone who's nerdy enough to find that funny already knows that.

So, in the ultimate example of why Spider-Man will always be cooler than Batman: What does a guy calling himself Spider-Man do? He climbs a 59-story building with his bare hands.

(Found via Warren.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Carol Overall

I admit, I'm not much of a web-sleuth, so if anyone can offer some assistance, I would greatly appreciate it. Once upon a time, Natasia bought a painting at a liqour store. And it was a really awesome painting. And being a kind-hearted soul, Natasia recently (like, five minutes ago) passed it on to me. It's signed by an artist named Carol Overall and I'm trying to dig up some information on her, if there is any to be dug up. I imagine she's just Some Lady, but as I was carrying it up the stairs to my place it occurred to me that she might like to know what happened to her painting, you know? Or, if nothing else, I'd like to be able to tell some sort of Carol Overall story when people ask me about the painting in my living room. It shows an older man playing cards at a table, with an ashtray, pennies, and some cards in front of him. The cards are real cards, the wallpaper behind him is real wallpaper, and there is a whole other painting of some trees hanging on the wall behind him. Here are some pictures:

Saturday, September 18, 2004

34 year old males who like Classic Rock

I stole this one from The Beat, which I check every day for my comic-book-gossip needs. It's the results of a reader survey by Diamond Comics, the largest distributor of comics and graphic novels to comic book specialty shops:

Average age: 34

Gender: 87 percent male; 13 percent female

City — 48 percent
Suburbs — 38 percent
Rural — 14 percent

Education level:
College — 45 percent
High school — 33 percent
Junior college — 10 percent
Post graduate — 9 percent
Grade school — 3 percent

Music taste:
Classic rock — 27 percent
Metal — 16 percent
Adult contemporary — 8 percent
Country/western — 6 percent
Classical — 4 percent
Rap/hip-hop — 2 percent

Own a computer: 77 percent

Use the Internet: 86 percent

Own a home video game system: 68 percent

Yikes. The thing to remember, however, is that these are the folks who *chose* to respond to a survey that most likely came out of Previews, which the catalog Diamond sells through the comic shops that highlight comics releases in two months time. So, the results are skewed. You only get the folks who buy Previews from their comic shop and choose to respond--meaning all of those kids buying manga from Borders aren't being counted. I bought Previews religiously when I was in high school, but thanks to Chicago Comics stacking them around the corner from the sales desk, I don't even think about it anymore. I don't think this is representative of comics readers as much as it is representative of the average comic book store shopper.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Sweet-Ass Saucy 'Stache

Jill took the picture:

Jen Echo and I wrote the story:

The place is the Powerhouse Gym on Michigan Avenue, in Chicago, that windiest of Windy Cities. The time is five minutes from NOW.

Franklin Delano Mustache had just finished working out, a little running on the NordicTrack, a little dipping in the pool, and he was toweling himself down following a locker room shower when his gaze lingered, a little too long, on a fellow fitness enthusiast. The FEE wasn’t fazed by the stare, he was used to it by now; he was buff, he was tan, he was a good-looking man. It was the way Mr. Mustache licked his, well, mustache, that made him bristle. The FEE glared at MM and moved to another corner of the locker room.

Mr. Mustache sighed. Not everyday is your day, he thought to himself. He hastily gathered his things, tucked in his shirt, and headed outside for the train.

Walking to the red line, Mr. Mustache’s march was interrupted by exiting wedding receptors, happily leaving a nearby church. They left joy, confetti, and a disposable camera in their wake. Mr. Mustache, being one part frugal and two parts curious, picked up the camera, intent on spending the remaining shots if only to see what was captured before.

He continued to the train. The swoosh of the train doors blew a breeze against his exposed leg hairs,, thus reminding him of his state of almost-undress—Mr. Mustache had forgotten to change out of his workout shorts. This tiny, yet drastic, change in his everyday dress sent his mind reeling. Mr. Mustache was a mustache man, to be sure, but he was also solidly a pants man. It was not like him to be found naked from the thighs to the ankles. Being so, half-dressed, on a public transport train, with a half-used camera that wasn’t really his, with a locker room fantasy still on his mind . . . he felt freer, freest, free!

On any other day he might have spent the remaining shots of the camera on squirrels or trees or bowls of fruit. But today, he was someone else, someone new, someone daring. Though not invisible, he was certainly in disguise, free to behave in ways he normally would not. He looked around at his fellow passengers, all beautiful people, traveling who-knew-where on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. He snapped a photograph of a pretty girl, he smiled and winked at her. She laughed, and snapped a picture right back.

The train pulled into the Belmont station and his mind cannot stop the whir-click-working at the possibilities that might await him in the busy street below. He fought his way through the crowd, taking a few more photographs of smiles and uneasy glances, squeezed his way past fellow travelers and fellow lovers of the world. He gave them a nod and an arch of his eyebrows, and they tipped their caps right back. Adventure was before him and his pants were far, far behind.
Through the turnstile and onto the sidewalk, Mr. Mustache looked down to admire his impressive shorts. GASP! He lifted the billow of his shirt to take a self-portrait from the waist down. He stroked his ‘stache with self-satisfaction and proceeded down Belmont with a gait so light some might say he was skipping. With each block east he felt less conspicuous and a little sassier. Click, advance, click, advance, so many pretty things, the least of which was he. He was late for a rendezvous at Stella’s with a hunk of a man who adored Mr. Mustache’s Canadian status.

But first thing’s first, thought Mr.—no, no, Monsieur Mustache, and he made a sudden right into an overpriced studio on Barry. He had three shots left in his camera and an itch that needed scratchin’.
Mssr. Mustache stepped into the studio, the sunlight framing him from behind. Lawrence was working the studio today after taking three weeks off for a full-body wax. He was smooth, he was slippery, he was ready to wriggle into MM’s life.

“Everybody out,” Lawrence said. “We’re closing early today.”

MM winked, and a slow smile crept over his face.

Twenty minutes later, MM stepped back into the sun, relaxed and with a fresh camera in his hands. Maybe he would come back in an hour to pick up the developed film; maybe he would follow the sun and keep on traveling. He had to get to Stella’s, after all, to prove he was from the Great White North.

A skate rat teen sped by, sneering into his headphones, and MM spun around, karate-chopping the melancholy youth in-between the shoulder blades. The rat fell to the sidewalk and MM hopped onto his skateboard, tossing him a grin in return. MM dash-dash-dashed away, and he was fast-fast-fast. The rat looked up, upset at first, and understandably so; but who could stay angry in the face of such a delightful get-away bum? The rat couldn’t help but smile and give Monsieur the thumb’s up.

MM sped on, wishing only that spandex had pockets so that he might find a roll of Mentos (The Fresh Maker!) to prepare for his meeting. He thought of the ad that had brought him speeding this way in the first place:

SWGM seeking French Canadian to lament the new DeGrassi High and revere the old, to cheer the Leafs, to recite fave Kids skits and hum the theme. To debate the merits of Ted Koppel and to contemplate how Mounties are different from Troopers. Are you him? Call me.

Was there anyone more fitting than Mssr. Mustache himself? Certainly not!

Ditching the skateboard, MM walked into Stella’s and immediately saw trouble. Decked in acid-washed short-shorts and a Bryan Adams tee, SWGM was flapping his arms wildly from a table near the kitchen.

Surely everyone deserves at least one chance, thought MM.

“L’agenouillement vers le bas avant moi et sucent mon penis,” said his would-be suitor.

It was clear to MM that SWGM had simply stumbled upon an internet language translator and hoped it would be enough to fool a true French-Canadian.

What a disappointment, thought MM.

All the same, MM smiled and settled in for a drink. He lived up to MM’s expectations, but could climb no higher. The discussed DeGrassi, the Kids, and Ted Koppel’s piece; but it was dry and lifeless, lacking the sweat and vitality implied in the late-night IM conversations that had preceded their face-to-face. The night seemed to be heading where so many had before: plenty of liquor, lights-off man-groping, and a changed screen name in the morning.

Maybe for the old MM, he thought. But this time, things are different.

The good Monsieur excused himself to the washroom, smiling politely and declining the Fake French-Canadian’s offer to join him. MM wasted no time in wriggling out of the bathroom window and lowering himself to the alley below. He was dusting himself off when he heard a strong, deep voice from the street.

“What’s this? Skipping out on the bill?”

MM looked to the gaping mouth of the alley and saw a magnificent beast; well, two. A police officer mounted on horseback, both with rippling muscles hidden under brown fur. The cop’s chest hair burst in a triangle from the neck of his shirt, his thick arms covered in more hair than Robin Williams. The cop had a mustache too, one to rival MM’s own, one that hid his upper lip and tickled his lower.

I wonder what else that mustache has tickled, thought MM.

MM scanned the alley and found his reflection in the shards of a broken mirror. Not looking for a repeat of his locker room disappointment, MM made certain his face did not betray his own desire to be tickled.

“Well, what’s the story?” demanded the officer, dismounting and entering the alley himself.

MM curled his toes tightly in his shoes, concentrating on their tightening and not the officer’s luscious ‘stache. “Officer, this is not what it seems.”

“Oh,” said the officer. “Really?” The officer stepped closer, leaving MM quite literally between a rock and a hard place.

“No sir,” said MM. “My only debt is to karma, as I must have done something awful to have a blind date with some do-it-yourself French dude with a Canadian jones. Leave through the front door, he might follow; leave through the back, I start with a clean karma slate.”

MM closed his eyes. The officer stepped closer and MM’s toes curled tighter. MM was sure his face was being tickled by a triangle of angelic hair. The shattered mirror was no longer in view, but MM found himself wetting his own mustache and he knew his face must have by now betrayed his thoughts. He blinked his eyes quickly open and the cop was there, he was oh-so-right-there, smiling and nodding, with a hand on his nightstick.

MM closed his eyes again; the mystery sparkles danced on his eyelids and the butterflies tingled in his stomach. He heard a throbbing, he felt it, in his tummy. It moved up past his heart (through his heart), into his throat, filling up his brain. It moved down, too, into his toes, making them uncurl, making them wiggle and giggle and tap. The sparkles behind his eyes grew brighter, moved faster, and his knees grew weak and became liquid. He fell backwards, panicking but unable to open his eyes, and he was afraid he would crack his skull against the brick wall. But he didn’t crack his skull against the brick wall. He fell backwards and he swirled around the air rushed this way and that and the throbbing grew stronger and he could fee the rhythm beneath the soles of his feet, beneath the soul of himself. The bass throbbed, and the hi-hat opened, and the synth broke glass, and the guitar, oh my god, that guitar sang and shook the whole world down.

Mssr. Mustache opened his eyes and the cop was before him, whirling and twirling fist over fist, wearing tiny shorts that bulged in the middle, with hairy legs and bulky black boots, a tight, tight blue shirt, mirrored sunglasses and a shiny white helmet. The lights were dim and rainbow and fog drifted from he didn’t know where, and the air was heavy with sweat and lust and danger and fever. The space was crowded with men who were dancing and shaking their hips and smiling and clapping to the beat. Mssr. Mustache smiled too and he gave in to the rhythm, gave in to the fun and to the unknown of it all, and he clapped his hands and he clapped the cop’s hands, and he thanked himself for getting on that train, for climbing out of that window, and for closing his eyes, and for opening them again and for hearing that music.

He smiled and he laughed and he clapped his hands again. He shook his hips and he shook his ass and he wiggled his toes some more. He spun and he danced, and he danced, and he danced all night.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

More Kids and Comics

I used to talk about comics with Jill and more than once we said it was strange that I was into them at all, since they seem to be a medium that for the most part passed up kids my age. I mean, folks my age knew what they were, and some even had them as a kid, but I was the only kid at my school who went to the comic shop every Wednesday to load up on new books. Well, once I knew there were such things as comic shops, anyway. Before that, I went to Waldenbooks at Eastgate Mall and raided the rack.

But it's not so strange when you look into it. I was into comics because my brother was into comics. My brother is ten years older than me, so he was a kid in the late 70's and early 80's. The first comic book I remember owning was a copy of Green Lantern he gave to me. The first one I remember buying was an Alpha Flight I picked up on a trip to Waldenbooks with him. He was the one who introduced me Don Parker's Records and Comics, the first comics specialty shop I'd ever been to. We used to trade comics with each other, and I'm pretty sure he always came out ahead on those deals. But I was into comics because he was, and I was into Marvel comics because he was. I kept my comics in a footlocker, because he did too. I started buying white longboxes after he did. I started bagging my comics because he showed me how to get the comics into the bags without the tape getting stuck to them.

He joined the Navy and moved to Florida when he was 20, so my comics interests were left to evolve on their own after that. I got into DC/Vertigo books and indie titles like BONE and MADMAN. I picked up the SPX anthologies and started to recognize names like James Kochalka and Alex Robinson. I found SIN CITY and FROM HELL. As a teenager I wrote my own comic book sagas, plotting out a 300-issue superhero epic and re-imagining the Death of Superman as if I'd thought of it on my own, acting out key scenes with G.I. Joe figures. I didn't really find other people who were into comics until I was in my 20's, and even then it wasn't quite the same thing. I like superheroes, but I don't read about them anymore. But I still think about them, and what they mean and where they're going, and where comics are going as a medium and an art form and an industry. Jill and I used to talk about kids and comics and whether they were reading them or not.

I went to Borders the other day because they're having a manga/graphic novel sale. I don't know if you've looked at the comics section of your local chain bookstore lately, but it's pretty interesting. At the one closest to my house they have two sections of superhero and "literary" Western comics, and about twice that of manga. A crowd of kids descended on the manga while I was looking at the Other Stuff and they were talking excitedly about the new books that were out in their series. A lot of manga titles stretch on for five, ten, twenty volumes, each at between ten and twenty dollars apiece, and kids and teenagers are the ones buying them. And they're buying them from bookstores like Borders, not from the local comics shop. And when I say kids, I mean girls too--the particular group I saw was made up of three girls and one boy.

I think about the people creating comics a lot. Mainstream comics, sold at the comics shops, are still peddling 24 page pamphlets, still about superheros, still written by grown white men. The difference between now and when my brother was growing up is that they're now being bought by grown white men, too. The same dude who followed the adventures of Batman and Robin when he was 13 is still buying them now that he's 33. But they're still being written as if a 13-year-old is reading it--it's curious and it's maddening and it used to make me wonder what would happen to comics in ten or twenty years, when the current audience moves or runs out of cash or dies off.

But in that bookstore the other day I figured out that ten years from now, the people writing and drawing comics will be drawing from a different model than creators my age or my brother's age. They'll have grown up on manga and trade collections and comics sold in bookstores and not comics shops. They'll be open to more possibilities of what comics can be and have been and they won't be as limited by format as the superhero folks are. I'm excited to see how their reading tastes evolve. I bet they'll move to the stuff non-comics publishers are putting out, like PERSEPOLIS and IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS from Pantheon, or publishers like Top Shelf who specialize in trades. I'm interested in who they'll be pitching their own stories to, since the comics they're growing up on are mostly imports from Japan. But I'm sure it'll work itself out, and I'm kind of excited to see the work they produce.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Zombies Are Forever

Dateline: Crawfordsville!

I spent a day and a half in Indiana helping The Knife and Miss Kitten Foy make their zombie movie. I suggested the title "Zombies Are Forever," but it was politely ignored. I also suggested "Zombies Don't Wear Diamonds," which I stole from Jen K's mom, but this was also smiled at and forgotten. These people, they have no vision.

Okay, so they actually have lots and lots of vision. The Knife ran a tight ship, making sure everything was done and taken care of, hanging up pig posters:

Laying down sheets:

And applying makeup:

While The Foy gave instructions to The Cast:

And we got out of the way and let the zombies do what zombies do best. Which is walk into corn.

I also learned that horseplay is not allowed at the Skate Corral. And I had the most meaningful and pleasant conversation I've ever had with a two-year old, while his parents were being zombies under sheets.

We discussed the Army, why we both like ice in our drinks, and how neither of us knew how to roller skate. Such a polite young man.

And the parents! The parents really come through in Crawfordsville. Clothes, skating rinks, graveyards, altars--they know how to deliver, folks. That's quite a support network.

Crawfordsville: A Good Place For Zombies . . .

. . . and A Good Place For Nappin'.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"It's Risky, But I Get My Laughs"

A lot of my August book money went toward comics, since Wizard World fell in the middle of the month--and may Stan Lee bless all of those fine retailers who had boxes and boxes of half-price trades this year. I don't have much to say about them that hasn't been covered in earlier posts, as I haven't read very many of them, but what I've looked over so far can be found below.

SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING, BOOK 1 by Alan Moore and Steve Bissette. I'm a big Alan Moore fan, but I've never picked up the Swamp Thing stuff. This volume collects the beginning of his run on the title and an introduction from Alan provides the backstory of the character so that no one is left out--I sure needed it, as my only other encounter with ST was the movie from the 80's and the week or so Adrian and I got a kick out of singing the theme song to the 90's cartoon ("Swamp Thing . . . You are amazing . . . Ohhhhh, Swamp Thing!"). The first few issues, where it is revealed that what we know about Swamp Thing isn't what we know at all and that the human Alec Holland did not become a plant-like creature at all, showcase mainstream horror comics at their finest. It is revealed that the Swamp Thing is actually a collection of plants, just like he looks, that has come to believe it was once human. It possesses the memories and emotions of Alec Holland and has even developed plant-like internal organs that serve no real purpose, except that the creature believes it needs them. The second storyline involves Swamp Thing's friend Abby and a demon that is living off of the fear running rampant in a home for troubled children. Aside from some amusing dialoge from Jack Kirby's Demon, there wasn't much from the second story that I enjoyed. It shows promise for the rest of Moore's run, however, and I'll keep an eye out for later volumes at next year's show.

THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1950-1952, by Charles Schulz. I've been coveting this book since it first came out, and was lucky enough to snag a slightly-used copy for half-price at the show. I've been reading a few strips before bed ever since. The very first PEANUTS strip, from October 1950, is a perfect introduction to the next 50 years of strips. In a four panel sequence, two children sit on a step and watch as a smiling Charlie Brown approaches. "Well! Here comes ol' Charlie Brown!" the boy says. "Good ol' Charlie Brown . . . yes, sir!" he continues. "Good ol' Charlie Brown," he says, as Charlie passes. Then, with Charlie out of sight, the boy frowns angrily and says, "How I hate him!"

THE ESSENTIAL SPIDER-MAN, VOLUME 5, by Stan Lee, John Romita, Roy Thomas, Gil Kane, and more. This is the fifth volume in black and white reprints of Spider-Man's early adventures. I'm a Spider-Man nerd, and this is the most economically sound way for me to read the early issues. If you're not a fan, you probably won't dig it. If you are, you probably already know about this series.

I have a stuck of unread books from the show, including REINVENTING COMICS (finally), the first two volumes of CONAN reprints, OFFERED VOL. 2 (again, finally), and AGE OF BRONZE: SACRIFICE, the second volume of a series by Eric Shanower that is retelling the story of the Trojan War, and that has been going on since long before TROY rolled into theaters. Once I've read them, you'll be the first to know.

Otherwise, my book buying has been pretty conservative. I took a trip to Ohio for a weekend and picked up THE SUN ALSO RISES, easily one of the finest, saddes, most beautiful books I've ever read, and I've posted about it at length in a few entries previously. This set me on a Hemingway kick and I got going again on A FAREWELL TO ARMS, which I'd set aside previously when school reading got heavy last semester. I also picked up a few new (to me) Hemingway titles:

THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY, which collects the entirety of THE FIRST FORTY-NINE, as well as stories published subsequent to that collection and seven previoulsy unpublished stories. Mainly I've spent my time with "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," a story of a writer on safari in Africa with a woman he treats best when he's lying to her.

THE YOUNG HEMINGWAY, by Michael Reynolds, the first volume in his four (I think?) volume series telling the life of Ernest Hemingway. It's still early, but so far he's not trying to tell a day-by-day description of Hem's manly adventures as much as he is giving a broader sense of the Oak Park and Great War experiences that created the mindset the young adult Ernest ventured out into the world with. From a writer's perspective, it's interesting getting an objective look at how his mind and craft came together; from a reader's perspective, it's a shame that I've already figured out that he's not that admirable of a fella in a lot of ways. All the same, he is not, as one blogger would have you believe, "overrated."