Saturday, February 18, 2017


For those of you who missed MAD MAGAZINE #542, one of the features was MAD'S MAKE YOUR OWN WALKING DEAD EPISODE. I love shit like this. Jonathan Bresman is the genius behind this one. I thought I'd post how my episode would go based on his wonderful chart. Ready? Here we go!

Our story begins . . .

Daryl uses advice picked up from SHARK TANK to fight the man-child charm of Aziz Ansari. Chaos erupts until everyone recognizes that they completely forgot to DVR the TV Land Icon awards. Meanwhile, Negan hatches a plan to change the way America cleans its gutters while at the same time stocking up on Glade plug-in refills just as tragedy bears down in the guise of an F. Murray  Abraham sexting scandal.

The end.

Thank you, everyone, for indulging my idiocy. If you have the chart (posting it here would probably be a copyright infringement), please feel free to post your own version in the comments below.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


I've got to be honest with you. My respect for M. Night Shyamalan has faded over the years. I loved THE SIXTH SENSE, but it's only good for two viewings. UNBREAKABLE was the best movie he ever did. I thought SIGNS was all right at first as a story about one man's faith, but all the other stuff weighed me down after that. THE VILLAGE was 100% predictable, and that's not good for a movie that requires a twist to be good. LADY IN THE WATER was self-serving garbage. I gave up with THE HAPPENING. It was so ridiculously bad that I just couldn't take it anymore. I'll give a creator many chances, but I'd met my limit with Shyamalan on that one.

Then I saw him with Matt Dillon at C2E2 showing off the pilot episode of his new show, WAYWARD PINES. I fucking loved it. I wanted to ask questions of them, mainly about FACTOTUM for Matt Dillon, but I was very interested in a sequel to UNBREAKABLE. There were too many people. I didn't get the chance.

But WAYWARD PINES is based on a series of books. Books NOT written by Shyamalan. So . . .

I really wasn't going to see SPLIT. It looked good mostly because James McAvoy was doing a super awesome job in the coming attractions. I hung out with a friend today, and he suggested seeing SPLIT. Fuck it. Why not?

Holy shit. I'm so glad he made this suggestion. This film reminded me of Shyamalan's strengths that I'd forgotten about because of his powerful weaknesses. His attention to detail is meticulous. He knows the importance of quiet, especially when it comes to a score. He can keep his camera still, which is a lost art.

But there's more. I envy McAvoy. This is a role that most serious actors dream about. He got to portray many different characters in one go. It's a QUANTUM LEAP kind of role. It tests an actor's abilities, and McAvoy did it so fucking good. I loved him in FILTH. I'm so glad to see him knock it out of the park on this one.

This is such a wonderfully woven tale. I knew exactly what was going to happen, but that's because I'm a writer. I can't speak for other viewers. I can't help but respect how this story was told. It's wonderful. Everything that happens makes utter sense, especially if you can think ahead. Yeah, it's predictable, but Shyamalan is doing something different than his THE VILLAGE days. He's not depending on a twist. He's building a story, and it's a great story and I love how he did it.

But here's the part I really wanted to talk about. SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT. I'll give you time to back out if you haven't seen it yet. I'm going to hit Enter a few times, and then I'll resume. Follow me if you know where I'm going.

There is a scene near the end of the movie when Kevin-Dennis-Patricia-The Beast or whatever you want to call him is giving a monologue to himself and his other characters into a mirror. It is such a supervillain thing to say that I immediately thought, "Holy shit. I desperately hope that McAvoy is going to be the bad guy in an UNBREAKABLE sequel. I want nothing more in the world than that."

Fast forward a few minutes. It's the final scene in the movie. In a diner. As people find out what really happened to those poor girls from a TV news story. I wanted nothing more than to see Bruce Willis in that diner.

And I fucking got my wish. Holy shit. It was a direct reference to UNBREAKABLE, and there was Bruce Willis, confirming it all!  Oh my fucking God! This is happening! David Dunn is going against Kevin and Co.!

Welcome back, Mr. Shyamalan. We've missed you.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


It's always a struggle to find a parking spot in the morning at the train station in Elmhurst. The parking garage I usually go to is packed. I used to go to work a lot earlier, and it was so easy to find a spot. Now I'm getting there at 9:45, and sometimes I luck out. Most times I'm stuck parking on the street. That sucks, because if it snows I have to brush my car off after work. Sometimes I might even have trouble starting it because it's so fucking cold.

But the worst is when my radio cuts out while entering the parking garage. So I switch over to my CD player. THE H8FUL EIGHT is in my player. I turn on the theme. It sounds really fucking weird, but somehow, while I'm driving circles through my parking garage, listening to this song helps me maintain some semblance of sanity.

Look. I love THE H8FUL EIGHT so much. Ennio Morricone is my favorite score composer. Your mileage may vary, but goddammit. This helps me a great deal. Give it a try.

Holy fuck. I just realized what I wrote. Forgive me. I'm drunk. But fucking fuck. Even when I'm hammered I'm happy to talk about the art I love. See the movie. Listen to the composer.

All right. Goodnight, fuckers.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Some of you are familiar with the saga of my shit tooth. Also known, thanks to filmmaker and author Mike Lombardo, as the cadaver tooth. It's too long to go into here, but suffice to say it is the story of me getting my second dental implant.

I went into the dentist's office yesterday to get the implant. (Which didn't happen. They took measurements and levels of bone density. I get it--probably--next month.) It's not my usual guy. It's the guy who pulled the tooth in the first place. I sat down, and he worked in my mouth for a bit and fiddled around on a computer for even longer. He's an attractive man in his late fifties with a full head of hair and a fabulous smile. He advised me to get another bone graft, this time in my sinuses. It's $2K extra. Otherwise we'll have to go with the shorter implant that might not succeed. Fuck. I'm already out of my price range as it is. I can't do it. I'm going to have to roll the dice on the smaller implant.

Here's the thing, though: they no longer use the molds. I'm okay with that. I've choked on each and every mold they've ever tried on me. The taste is too disgusting. My saliva has nowhere to go but dribbling out of my mouth . . . or down my throat, which is even worse. My gag reflex is bad enough as it is.

They have a new method: scanning your teeth into a computer. Sounds easy, right? Well, not so much. Someone has to run a heated scanner (heated so it doesn't fog over) across all of your teeth in all directions several times. It's a longer process, but you don't have to taste the horrible goop from the mold.

It was truly a humbling experience. I had to keep reminding myself that I had to breathe through my nose, and forget about the saliva that kept building up. The assistant who did this was very courteous. She tried her best to be encouraging. To be reassuring. I might be reading my signals wrong, but I think she might have flirted with me a bit. I'm an idiot when it comes to that kind of thing. For years my friends have been telling me that women were flirting with me when I didn't even notice. So maybe I'm wrong.

She is a very attractive woman with a wonderful set of teeth, just like the dentist's.

My teeth suck. I've never been pleased with them. Even as a kid I would look into the mirror and curse that gap in the front ones. It's only gotten worse over the years. I went for more than a decade without dental insurance. When I don't use whitening toothpaste it looks like my teeth are made of cheese. I've had dental coverage for a while. I take very good care of my teeth. But it's not enough. Still, they look pretty good if you're not paying much attention. (And if I keep my lower teeth under my lip.)

I watched as the scanner replicated my teeth on the computer to my left side. I was horrified. It looked through the whitening shit and saw my teeth for what they really were. I saw brown spots. I saw dark spots. I saw black spots where I'm surprised my own mouth hasn't rejected these teeth yet. It was a very humbling experience because I could see it all in 3D. The assistant cut out the unnecessary gum parts with two swipes of the mouse. Even that horrified me.

It was a very realistic representation of my garbage mouth. It didn't look like a scan; it looked like a photograph. I could see all the horrible things in my mouth, and my instant impulse was to have all of my teeth pulled and replaced immediately. It was that bad.

I was reassured that other people have the same reaction. Still. It was an incredibly humbling experience. I expect the rest of my life to be spent dealing with dental problems. A friend of mine once advised me to just pull my lower teeth and get a plate. It works well for her, but I want to have actual teeth down there. I like how they feel, and I appreciate the way I don't have to worry about them staying in the right place. I have nothing against people who are OK with the plates, etc. For me, I would rather have something anchored in there.

When I was a kid, I predicted I would only live to 40. I'm turning 39 this year. I'm sure I was wrong about 40 (that's a story for a different day, as I'm sure I stated here before). But if I make it to 50? Shit, I'd better be making more money than I am right now if only for the dental problems I'm going to have.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Ever wonder why the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights is the right to free speech, etc.? It's because the founding fathers were familiar with being unable to have their own thoughts and opinions in the face of a fascistic government. They wanted to ensure that people who disagreed with their government could make their voices heard without fear of official reprisal.

That means that one of the finest duties of a proud American is to be a voice of dissent. If you see your government acting poorly, it is your right and duty to point it out as loudly as you can without being punished for it by said government.

"I should do what that guy says because he is president of the United States." If you have ever had that thought, I highly suspect you're not a proud American, no matter how much you think the opposite is true. We're Americans because goddammit. We see wrongs being committed, and we point it out. Good guys don't see social injustice and stand by and say nothing. We say shit. Our government is wrong, and I'm saying so right now.

I've been asked why I love westerns so much. I can only point out that I agree with Bill Hicks. Here's what he has to say on the matter: "But like so many kids brought up on a steady diet of Westerns, I have always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero--that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. And in my heart of hearts I still track the remnants of that dream wherever I go in my endless ride into the setting sun."

I have those words on my bedroom wall. It makes me tear up every time I read them.

These fucking Nazis--and I refuse to call them alt-right because they are fucking Nazis--are now running our country. Friends, loved ones and even those who disagree with me, you all can agree that America is based on the idea of freedom, yes? Here's a clue that freedoms are being trampled on: whenever someone uses the word "ban." When that word is invoked, it means someone's freedom is being infringed upon. Every other word out of Donald J. Trump's stupid fucking mouth is the word "ban."

He is unAmerican. He is taking freedoms away. He is shitting all over the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America.

Fuck. I hate to say it, but everyone who says that he's not *my* president is trying to hide from our situation. He *is* our president. That's the fucking problem. We need to change this.

I am a proud American. I think I would be no matter where I was born in the world. Bill Hicks also joked that he was a proud American because his parents fucked here once. But I love this country and everything it says it stands for. All that shit is bullshit, of course. This government has a habit of trampling all the wonderful things we're supposed to be, and it's been doing that for at least 50 years. Maybe more.

I've disagreed with every single fucking president we've had since I've been politically aware (ie. since Bush I). Even Obama was wrong. Obamacare should have been free for everybody within our borders. Would you pay a bill when you had to call the police to come save you from home invaders? Would you pay a bill when you had to call the fire department because your house was burning down? Do you think you should pay a bill because you have cancer and want to live? Or maybe when your house was burning down your body got covered in life threatening burns? Healthcare should be a fucking free service, just like the PD and FD. Obama was wrong. He should have pushed harder. Just like any American president should have but never will because insurance is a big fucking business.

A very close friend of mine is in the habit of saying that the government is in the business of "polite fascism." For as long as I have known him, he is correct. This time he is wrong. The days of polite fascism are over. Welcome to the era of actual fascism. Trump has already tried to ban actual, real, legal Americans from reentering their home because they're not the right color. They're not the right religion.

That is wrong. That is unAmerican. That is against everything that built this country.

I stand against every president we've ever had. But Trump has my special interest. I will stand against Trump for as long as I have breath. For as long as he's in the White House. For as long as he has a breath to utter his crazy and evil bullshit.

I believe in freedom of speech. I believe that Trump has the right to say the horrible things he's said. But he's in a position where he can enforce that shit. That's got to stop. That's why it's OK to punch a Nazi. Because a Nazi will humiliate you. They will mark you. And then they will put you in an oven if you are lucky. Otherwise they've got a mad bastard who would be very happy to run inhuman experiments on you.

Here's the thing that sucks: there is nothing civil we can do about this. Trump has the executive branch. He has the legislative branch. He almost has the judicial branch.

I'm almost a pacifist. Like, a pussy hair away from it. But maybe--just maybe--it's time to water the tree of liberty . . . not with the blood of patriots but with the blood of tyrants. Those who claim to be patriots.

All right. I'll get back to my dick jokes and booze haze. I just had to get that off my chest.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


I've been taking care of my grandfather for a while. He has not been himself for about a year. He is conscious. He knows who I am and my grandmother and my brother (although he thinks there are two versions of my brother). I love him. He raised me in place of my mom and dad.

He lives in my living room now. In his chair. Watching TV and reading books I lend him.

He thinks there are two versions of my brother. He thinks that there is a flight ban in America. He's right. American citizens are being prevented from coming home because our president is a racist who feeds off of the racist dickheads who voted him into office. My grandfather would not want Muslims in our country, but he currently believes that Americans have been banned from coming home. He's right.

I hate that my country is banning Americans from coming home because of their religious beliefs and the color of their skin. WE ARE AMERICANS. There is a melting pot. But when we refuse our own citizens from coming home? There is no melting pot. If you believe American citizens should not come home because they have a different background, THEN YOU ARE UNAMERICAN. Maybe the dickhead in the White House has forgotten what is on Lady Liberty's pedestal.

I'm off topic. My grandfather believes there is a ban on American transport. He's deathly afraid that I'm going to fly out of country. He wants reassurances that I'm not going to fly out of country.

And I give it to him.

It pains me. I don't want to lie, but it reassures him.

I told him I'm not going anywhere. He was happy. It made me feel awful as I walked away from him.


I have always been fascinated by the past and old structures around me. Remember the time that I found a cabin in the woods filled with cages? And a gas tank full of water? Well, probably not. I did that when I was in college, and very few people follow me now from back then. But I did a popular local story at the time that earned me an honorary award from the Chicago Tribune at the time.

Never mind.

I recently read a book by David Morrell. I love Morrell's work because I love every book from him that I read. Sometimes I have my doubts, but he always wins me over. Each and every time. The book is called CREEPERS, and it lives in my heart like very few other books do.

There is a reporter with a mysterious past who hooks up with a group of urban explorers to infiltrate a fancy hotel that has been locked down for decades to see what still remains inside. And they may not be alone. It's a great thriller. One of Morrell's finest achievements. I love it so much. But it speaks to me specifically because I love history. I want to know more about the past of my area. If such a hotel existed around me, I would want to see the secrets it holds. And I would take only pictures, leave only footprints. I respect the way of the urban explorer.

I work in the Loop. There is a lot of infrastructure below my feet every day I go to work, and I would love to see it all. I want to see the maze of a walkway from building to building, even though the government mostly owns the walkway now, probably to protect important people as they move to and fro in Chicago. The same for the private owners of the space below the skyscrapers they own.

If you want to know more about what is under the Loop, you should read this. It's awesome, and it makes me want to explore the sealed off tunnels below the streets I walk on to get to work everyday. The infographic alone is worth clicking that link.

But forget that for a moment.

When I was a kid my dad and first stepmother had me for the weekend. We went to a water park that is ten minutes from were I live now. I hated it. I hate water slides and being submerged under water for whatever reasons.

Shortly after I was there the water park closed down. It's still there. No one ever tore it down. They just abandoned it. But it's still there.

For years I've kept this in the back of my head for a setting I want to write about. But after reading CREEPERS I want to visit this place. I want to see what it looks like now. I want to bask in the glory of the past.

I know how attentive Mr. Morrell is to his research. I feel with a great deal of certainty that he went urban exploring for research. He just can't say it for legal reasons, as urban exploring is technically a crime. This knowledge makes me want to become an urban explorer. The past turns me on. I want to see living examples.

I want to see what this water park looks like now. I can see the infrastructure that I remember as a child riddled with plants and trees and broken pools and more. A forgotten piece of history waiting to be discovered before some corporation tears it down to build something else.

Some of you may recognize my pattern. My theme. The past is never as far behind us as we imagine. There are still remnants barely holding on. All we have to do is find them and embrace them.

Reach back. Hold on. Love. Understand.