Thursday, May 26, 2011

COOL SHIT 5-26-11


STRANGE ADVENTURES #1: I’m not going to say a lot about this anthology because I’m actually going to review it next week for the Napalm Assault. However, there was one story in here I felt I couldn’t review from an objective viewpoint. “All the Pretty Ponies” written by Lauren Beukes and illustrated by Inaki Miranda treads over the same territory as a story I wrote a while ago called “Slummin’ It” (which was published in the first issue of TABARD INN). In my story, rich assholes liked to experience life through the eyes of the homeless. If they pay enough money, they can feel what it’s like to get killed. Well, in this story, Beukes expresses the same idea. A group of the rich and beautiful gather together so they can plug their consciousness into a couple of poverty-stricken people. They call it “going slumming,” and when a rich bitch plugs into a kidnapped pregnant woman, she feels cravings and excitedly hopes it’s meth. There is a twist, however, that separates it from my story, in which SPOILER ALERT it is showed that the government keeps a bunch of poor people hooked up to dream machines, in which they imagine that they’re rich and beautiful people. So who is plugging into whom? An answer, by the way, that we never get. END OF SPOILERS. I’m not saying that Beukes ripped me off. My story is based on an old idea (with my own twist, of course). But I thought it would be dishonest of me to review it based on the closeness, so I thought I’d bring it up here. Buy this book, by the way.




CROSSED 3D: Holy shit, William Christensen finally delivered on this book. Granted, he swore it’d be out by April, but what the hell? Better late than never. I have mixed feelings about this book. There are a lot of parallels between CROSSED and zombie books, and it’s totally justified. However, there have been a lot of army versus zombie stuff lately, and this is one of those stories. A group of soldiers go on a rescue mission to Manhattan to bring a doctor back to the people who need her, and shit happens. A lot of shit happens. But nothing very remarkable. There is one very interesting thing that happens, though: a character who accidentally reveals himself to be a racist eventually turns into one of the Crossed, and what is the first thing he does? Starts relentlessly calling out racial epithets. This implies that the Crossed do whatever was in their minds when they were human beings. Which is a frightening thought, when you give it some consideration. Ennis and Lapham are essentially saying that these horrible and vile things are inside all of us, and the only thing that keeps us in check is conscience. The last thing I want to talk about is the 3D effects. A lot of it gets lost because the details are too small for 3D to effectively display, and because a lot of the speech balloons are small, it’s hard to read. It also doesn’t help that whenever the Crossed speak, their words appear in red . . . which doesn’t show up very well in a 3D book. There’s no need for this gimmickry. This book would have been good without it. Still, when it gets the effects right, they’re pretty cool. Some of the bigger panels reveal this very nicely, especially if something huge is going on in the background. It’s good stuff. Not great, but definitely worth the nine bucks it costs. And the 3D glasses are pretty cool; if you wear them, the design makes you look like one of the Crossed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE #2: ANDREW KESSLER: GENIUS OR LUCKY?



Ever hear of a book called MARTIAN SUMMER: ROBOT ARMS, COWBOY SPACEMEN, AND MY 90 DAYS WITH THE PHOENIX MARS MISSION by Andrew Kessler? I’ll hazard a guess and say you haven’t. But you’ve probably heard about the publicity stunt Kessler pulled recently in New York City at a place called Ed’s Martian Book.  (Which is an awkward name for a book store.)



You see, he recently rented out a store, the aforementioned Ed’s, so he could sell one and only one book title: his own. And this actually worked out for him. So far, he’s sold 500 copies at $27.95 a pop. He says that they’re close to breaking even. Not a bad deal, right?


I haven’t read the book, so I can’t tell you whether or not it’s good, but I can easily see the attraction of this kind of novelty. Who wouldn’t want to go to a bookstore that sells only one book? It’s kooky, and it makes for good conversation. Word of mouth on something like this spreads pretty quickly.


Naturally, the next step for something like this would be for a self-published author to pull the same stunt. But hold the phone: Kessler isn’t a self-published author. His book was published by Pegasus Books, a reputable company. He actually bought 3,000 copies of his own book from them at a discount so he could do this thing.


This means that he has an editor. In other words, someone is paying attention to the words going into his book. Someone who (presumably) knows a thing or two about good writing. This does not hold true for an author who pays to have his work published.


So the danger to something like this is that the book has to have quality to it. Otherwise, people are going to talk shit about you. Things that you don’t want to hear about your book. You might be saying so what?  By the time they actually read the book and hate it, their money will be in your pocket.  That's a good plan, provided you never intend to publish another book.  Readers aren't very forgiving.  They won't give a shitty writer a second chance.  A stunt like this simply cannot continue to perpetuate itself if the book isn’t good.


Kessler seems to know this. His store will only be around for a limited time. It will soon be replaced by a coffee shop this month. So it’s pretty clear that this is not a get rich quick scheme. Like I said, Kessler’s close to breaking even. He’s in this for the word of mouth. And remember, 500 copies is still short, by far, of 3,000 to start out with.


What do you think? Is this a viable marketing strategy for authors now? I doubt it. In answer to the question in the title of this column, I think Kessler’s a genius. If this plan works for anyone else, then they’ll simply be lucky. But let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

COOL SHIT 5-19-11


THE TRANSFORMERS #19: Guess what, everyone! Hot Rod isn’t as dead as we thought he was after Megatron blasted his chest out. Seems like Hot Rod’s been floating around space until he came upon a planet. Upon entering its atmosphere, the Matrix was melded to his chest wound. And wouldn’t you know it? It just so happens that this planet is where a deranged, insane Wheelie has been hiding out under the name of the Jangling Man. Can writer Mike Costa make this series any awesomer?




HELLBLAZER #279: Finally, we’re getting back to this whole Gemma thing from the wedding issue (275). It looks like she’s got some really ugly plans for her magus uncle. In fact, it got so bad that she almost burned his famous trenchcoat to satisfy a ritual. Thankfully, she refrained. In the meantime, Constantine seems to have found his thumb, but the price is that he has to help his father-in-law take on the American Mafia. Things have gotten stranger than usual on Vertigo’s flagship book; I would expect nothing less.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I LOVE YOU, STILL

[IT SHOULD BE MENTIONED THAT OUT OF ALL THE SONGS JESSE AND I PLANNED OUT FOR OUR DRINKING BAND, THIS ONE CAME THE CLOSEST TO ACTUALLY BECOMING A SONG.  HE PUT SOME MUSIC TO MY WORDS.  IT WASN'T ANYTHING CONCRETE, BUT IT WAS SOMETHING, AT LEAST.  HE PROBABLY DOESN'T EVEN REMEMBER HOW IT GOES.  I KNOW I ONLY HAVE A VAGUE MEMORY.  ENJOY!]


[THIS SONG IS DEDICATED TO MARIA]


You have curves in all the right places

You put smiles on so many faces
I love to watch your insides sizzle
Snap-crackle-pop, bubble, fizzle.
I yearn to light the fire beneath you
And drink in your amber glory, too.


Copper tubing, pipes and screws
Scrape the Bunsen burner fuse
Feed you corn, but no cash
You squirt out some sour mash.
Jar you up for 30 days
Drink myself into a haze.


Stick the Mason ‘neath your spout
‘Shine’s a thing, can’t do without
White Lightning sets your guts on fire
Sobriety burns upon this pyre
Eyes point out in directions two
Babe, I can’t do this without you.


Copper tubing, pipes and screws
Scrape the Bunsen burner fuse
Feed you corn, but no cash
You squirt out some sour mash.
Jar you up for 30 days
Drink myself into a haze.


Moonshine scrambles up my mind
Should I shit or should I go blind?
Greatness sure has its price
This corn whiskey don’t play nice
Regardless, I shall drink my fill
Just because I love you, still.


Copper tubing, pipes and screws
Scrape the Bunsen burner fuse
Feed you corn, but no cash
You squirt out some sour mash.
Jar you up for 30 days
Drink myself into a haze.

Monday, May 16, 2011

WOW. JUST . . . WOW: A review of WORLD OF FILTH by Howling Willie Cunt


The front of the album has a parental advisory sticker, but it’s unlike the one most listeners are used to. Instead, it says, “Warning: Contains deeply offensive material on all levels . . . no, really.” And it’s not kidding.



A lot of comedians use racist and homophobic material in their act, and it’s easy to see that very few of them actually mean the things they say. In this age, where words like “fuck” and “cocksucker” are commonplace, a lot of performers are looking for things that will shock their audiences. Since our world is super-PC these days, the only things that seem to work are words like “nigger” and “faggot.”


Does Howling Willie Cunt mean what he says in his lyrics? It’s hard to tell. There’s a lot of funny shit on his album, WORLD OF FILTH, but some of the words seem to bite a little too hard.


One look at the song titles is enough to tell a listener that Mr. Cunt just doesn’t give a fuck what people think of him. “5,000,000 Ways to Kill Your Baby,” “Say It with Herpes,” “Homosexual Punchbag in a Wheelchair,” and “Cunts on Roads” make it pretty clear that he’s out to rape your ears. And as hard as it is to believe, the songs themselves are even harsher than the titles. In “Your Heart Belongs to Jesus, but Your Ass Belongs to Me,” Mr. Cunt portrays a man who tries to find comfort in the Bible as he’s being horribly raped day after day. In “A Lil’ Bit ‘o Gravy,” we discover just how easy it is to get a dog to lick one’s balls. And in “Nine Coloured Spastics on a Meat Hook,” there are just so many things someone would be better off trying than trying to fit, well, nine black crazies on a meat hook.


As you can tell from this last title, Mr. Cunt is from the UK. It’s hard to notice, because the music is all done in a country-western style, but occasionally, a British accent can be heard on a chorus. This also explains the prodigious use of the word “cunt,” which as a great man once said, is used as punctuation in England.


But as awesome as all of these songs are, Mr. Cunt’s masterpiece is a grotesque little number called “I’d Rather Have a Dick in My Ass than Have You in My Heart.” This track alone is worth the price of admission. You should look up the lyrics to this song. The obscenity of it all makes it seem like a work of art. Here’s a taste to get you hooked:


“I’d rather have a dick in my mouth than have you in my heart
I’d rather have you out of my life than have you tear it apart
It took some time to realize what I knew from the start
I’d rather have a dick in my ass, a cock in my mouth and balls on my chin
And a belly full of nigger jism addled with AIDS
And dig my grandma out of the ground and stick my bone in the bitch’s face
Going in and out and in and out and shoot my juice all over the place
Than have you in my heart.”


It takes a real sick bastard to love this music. Buy the album and join the club.


Artist: Howling Willie Cunt
Title: World of Filth
Produced by Round Records and Cargo Records
$19.99 on Amazon

Friday, May 13, 2011

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE #1: WHAT IF OSAMA DIDN'T DO IT?



Welcome to the first installment of my new opinions column, “Everyone’s Got One.” You know, as in the old phrase about assholes and such. I thought it a fitting title, especially since I’ve been wondering just how I was going to replace FBJ on Fridays. I hope this semi-regular feature will do just that.

What will I talk about? Anything that crosses my mind. For my first act, though, I thought I’d go big or go home. Why not stir shit up?


The other day, a very reactionary know-it-all, everything-is-black-or-white co-worker was asked if President Obama should release photos of arch-villain Osama bin Laden’s corpse to the public. Immediately, he said that the president should do exactly that. However, he said it within earshot of another co-worker, equally reactionary, but on the opposite side of the fence. She responded by saying that she wanted the news to stop showing pictures of Americans celebrating the bin Laden’s death.


My own knee jerked at this, and I thought this last comment was a bit too weak. Why not celebrate the death of a horrible man? All people are not equal, and I’m not talking about human rights, here. Not all viewpoints are valid, and bin Laden had a very ugly perspective. There’s no doubt about it. He was utter scum, and the world is a better place without him. Though America declared war against terrorism, it was really a war against one man: bin Laden. While his death will in no way hinder our military excursions overseas, it’s still an important victory. If Americans wanted to celebrate his death, go for it.


I was about to mention these things, but then another thought occurred to me. Let me get this out of the way right here: I oppose the death penalty. When I was in high school, I was all about murdering murders in the name of retribution, but as strange as it may seem to a lot of people, I’ve mellowed with age. I’ve thought about things a lot more. I’ve become more reasonable. What it comes down to is this: far too many people are executed only to have new evidence uncovered years later proving their innocence. Granted, some of the bastards on death row had it coming, but if we have made a single solitary mistake, we have failed. We have become murderers ourselves. This price is too high for us as a society to pay.


Having said that, the thought that occurred to me before I so rudely interrupted myself was this: WHAT IF OSAMA DIDN’T DO IT? Think back to September 11th. I know it’s not a pleasant thing to do, but for the sake of argument, give it a try. Try to remember what it was like during those days when they took the planes out of the sky.


How much do you remember about the detective work that led to Osama bin Laden? Not much, I’ll bet. Most people were so swept up in swift and immediate revenge that they didn’t consider much. They would have snapped at any piece of evidence, no matter how circumstantial.


And the evidence against Al Qaeda was circumstantial, indeed. But it seemed like we were on the right track. And bin Laden was the leader of this group, so he had to know something, right?


The defining moment for most Americans came when bin Laden took credit for 9/11 himself. That seems like pretty condemning evidence at first, but ask any detective who has worked a serial killing. How many nutbags come forward claiming to have been the killer?


Bin Laden could have been just another nutbag. Why not claim credit? He delivered the biggest blow against America in all of its history. Who, from that part of the world, wouldn’t want mad props like that? It’s the ultimate in street cred.


And that’s it. That’s all we have to go on. Suddenly, bin Laden was the most wanted man in the world . . . all on his own say-so. Outlandish? Maybe. But what if, America, we found out after a while that Osama bin Laden was just the figurehead, that someone far more insidious actually came up with the blueprint for 9/11? What then?


Things aren’t so cut and dry, folks. There are no more cowboys, and some of the bad guys wear white hats.

See?  White hat.


That’s a pretty heavy thing to lay on you, and I don’t blame your skepticism. Your kids will be more likely to play devil’s advocate on this one, though. Who knows? Maybe you’ll live long enough to see some of what I’ve just said happen.


Do I believe bin Laden did it? Yeah, I’m pretty sure he did. Even if he didn’t, only a colossal asshole would claim credit for taking down the Twin Towers. Besides, think of all the aid and succor he gave to Al Qaeda, who are definitely our enemies, all of those years. So one way or the other, he got what he deserved. Goodbye and good riddance.


But you should really think about these things before going off half-cocked. How certain are you about the way the world works? Can you really, beyond a shadow of a doubt, know what’s really happening without being an actual witness?


P.S. I wasn’t going to go into this part, but this kind of bothered me about the whole workplace exchange. The second co-worker in question then went on to talk about how America goes on and on about protecting freedoms and democracy and such, and then they rabidly turn on someone and celebrate something as awful as death.


All right, freedom and democracy and all of that crap is a part of the American rhetoric, but I don’t recall any of the Founding Fathers talking about how all life is sacred. Big surprise: it’s not. Some people are more worthy of life than others. For example, I may be biased, but I believe myself to be much worthier of breathing the air on this planet than, say, John Wayne Gacy. I think Stephen King has earned his space on this earth while child molesters rank much farther below him. Albert Einstein has a lot more value to our society than Josef Stalin.


A friend of mine once told me that he judged societies by whether or not it was still permissible to decapitate people in their culture. If the answer is yes, then they are not civilized enough to join the rest of us at the world table.

You know, that sounds like a good rule to me.


P.P.S. Do I think we should see pictures of Osama’s corpse? You bet, but that’s probably because I’m a sick fuck. I’m curious, man! I bought a coffee table book of crime scene photos because I wanted to know what might—just might!—be in store for me someday.


Do I believe it should be mandatory to see these pictures? As in, you’re not patriotic if you don’t get off on these babies? No. I take a pro-choice attitude with my life: if you don’t want to look, you don’t have to.


P.P.P.S. Shit, this is kind of long for a first column. I think I’ll try to keep it much shorter in the future . . . .

COOL SHIT 5-12-11


CROSSED: PSYCHOPATH #2: How is it that David Lapham can keep topping himself for grotesqueness in this book? Watching his psychopath, Lorre, work on this group of Crossed survivors is an amazing thing, and shocking. As he relates his relationship with Lori, who was in all probability not a willing participant, one can’t help but feel greasy with shame. And when he relates killing Crossed children in ruthless ways? I wonder if Garth Ennis chose his own successor on this one . . . .




COBRA CIVIL WAR: G.I. JOE #1: All right! The search for the new Cobra Commander is under way! And can it be any cooler? The candidates are few, but the possibilities are endless! All they have to do is score the most G.I. Joe kills, the higher the profile, the better the results. Only a sadistic bastard would come up with this concept, and I’m glad it was Chuck Dixon! There’s only one problem: he kind of pusses out when it comes to killing longtime Joes. So far, the bodycount comprises of only the new guys, soldiers we’ve never heard of before. How about killing off a more important Joe? You already killed Cobra Commander. Why not go balls out?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FIRST TANGO WITH FLEISCHMANN'S

[NOTE:  THIS IS ANOTHER SONG FROM THE JESSE RUSSELL/JOHN BRUNI DRINKING BAND THAT NEVER HAPPENED.  THIS ONE IS BASED ON THE TRUE STORY, AS SOME OF YOU MAY RECALL.  ENJOY!]

It was love at first sight.

1.75 liters of cheap whiskey.
For only twelve bucks, you get me?
A doorstop bottle of amber delight.


It was a dry period in my life,
And I couldn’t afford my own booze.
Fitz gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse
The hooch clove my guts like a knife.


It was only supposed to be a pre-game,
I drank half the bottle on Fitz’s chair
I blacked out, and I woke up there
And I barely remembered my name.


I was told we went to the bar
And nearly drank the place dry.
My antics drew all the attention, and I
Was the funniest person there by far.



Hearing these tales of my splendor
Made me wish I’d been there
But all I remember is this stupid chair
I wish I was worthy of this bender.


That’s the trouble with Fleischmann’s, an American tradition since 1862,
It’s cheap and it gets the job done, but good luck remembering what you
Were up to the previous evening, even if you’re told
This Kentucky bourbon is only for the brave and bold.


I shuffled out of Fitz’s place
Still holding the half-full bottle
My body could only move at half-throttle
I felt hung-over, a fucking disgrace.


I stopped at a Dumpster to urinate
When a voice screamed at me,
“What the fuck? Are you taking a pee?”
I jumped and sprayed, I was irate.


“Is that you, God?” I said.
Or perhaps I was on the X-FILES
“I’m in here looking for Marlboro Miles,
And I’m not God, I’m Fred.”


A bum poked his head out of the trash
And he offered his hand to shake
I packed away my trouser snake
And apologized for being so brash.


“That looks like some good whiskey
And it’s been a while since I’ve imbibed
Nothing in my life has since quite jibed
Would you mind sharing some with me?”


What the hell? I thought. Why not?
Alcohol this good should not be hoarded
Even if the fellow looked slightly sordid
I handed it over to the old sot.


We passed the bottle to and fro
For a while, but it got late
Tonight I had a date
So I said, “Have a good one, bro.”


That’s the trouble with Fleischmann’s, an American tradition since 1862,
It’s cheap and it gets the job done, but good luck remembering what you
Were up to the previous evening, even if you’re told
This Kentucky bourbon is only for the brave and bold.


I went home and got dressed
And called my girl, but the date fell through.
What the hell am I going to do?
I still had the bottle, and I did what I thought best.


One minute I was knocking ‘em back
And I was watching TV
Then all of a sudden I lost me
And all I could see was black.


When I woke up the next day
I was naked and bleeding
And, of course, I was needing
Some hair of the dog, or I’ll pay . . . .


I remember seeing a naked man
In my bathroom late last night
It gave me a hell of a fright
And I had to go to the can.


I yelled until my face was red
And lashed out at his form only to hit
The smooth mirror, and the glass bit
Into my hand, and I said:
HOLY SHIT, THAT MAN IS ME!!!


That’s the trouble with Fleischmann’s, an American tradition since 1862,
It’s cheap and it gets the job done, but good luck remembering what you
Were up to the previous evening, even if you’re told
This Kentucky bourbon is only for the brave and bold.


Now the bottle is empty
So I go down to my liquor store
With twelve dollars for more
And I pour new whiskey inside me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

COCK TRIUMPHANT! A review of THE LIBERTINE


The DVD case proclaims, “Passionate, decadent, scandalous,” and it’s true. These three words perfectly define the movie, THE LIBERTINE, and its protagonist, John Wilmot (portrayed deliciously by Johnny Depp).



Set in London during the 17th Century, this film follows the sexual misadventures of Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, son to King Charles II (played by John Malkovich, who wears an awful prosthetic nose). Wilmot and his questionable friends make their way through the filthiest bars in town, guzzling booze and fucking the skankiest whores they can find. In one scene, Wilmot rescues a thief from being beaten by the fellow’s employer only to give him money to meet him for employment the following day. Wilmot’s friends give him crap, saying that he just wasted perfectly good money. Why should the thief show up for work? He just got free money. When the thief actually shows up, Wilmot dismisses him because he’s gone legitimate. After the thief convinces him of his worth, Wilmot decides to employ him, but only after the thief takes the money from yesterday to get a whore. “A good whore.” And return after spending his seed.


But since he is an Earl, Wilmot doesn’t just stick to the shadier places in London; he regularly attends the theatre, where he is most happiest. One evening, he sees an actress (played by Samantha Morton) being heckled because she can’t project very well. She storms off stage, ready to quit. Wilmot offers his services to her. Thinking he intends to just have sex with her, she offers her “slit for a pound a night.” Surprisingly, his intentions are pure, and he puts her through the toughest training she has ever known. Unbeknownst to her, he has a bet with one of his friends that he can turn her into the finest actress in town.


He wins, of course, but something about this whole ordeal surprises Wilmot: he falls in love with the actress . . . but she won’t have him. Yes, this turns out to be a romance, but not the kind your girlfriend would enjoy. This is PYGMALION from Hell.

The only thing that seems out of place are the prologue and epilogue, in which Wilmot sits in shadows and tells the viewers about how much they’re going to hate him. It’s brilliantly acted (and funny as hell), but it takes the audience out of the movie. Also, why bother to tell people about how much they’re going to dislike the protagonist? Let them make up their minds. (And as a side note, he’s not that despicable. Granted, one has to be a questionable sort themselves to like the guy, but he’s more than suitable as a subject.)


The sets are wonderful, the language is down and dirty, the costumes are spot on, and the giant dildos are . . . ah yes. The giant dildos. You see, Wilmot is also a playwright, and to embarrass his father, he writes a very scandalous comedy involving huge paper mache cocks.


How could you not want to see this movie?


THE LIBERTINE
Written by Stephen Jeffreys based on his play
Directed by Laurence Dunmore
Starring Johnny Depp, John Malkovich, and Samantha Morton
114 minutes
$5.49 at Amazon
2005

Friday, May 6, 2011

MEETING AUTHORS 5: IRVINE WELSH


57th Street Books is just off of Lake Shore Drive, and it doesn’t look like much from the outside. In fact, I had to go back and forth a few times in order to find it. A sandwich board was the only thing that helped me find it.



To enter, one must go down a set of steps and into what at first seems like a very small book shop. But as one walks around, it’s a lot bigger than it seems. There isn’t a lot of space, but it’s packed in tightly. It reminds me of an old used bookstore I used to frequent back when I was in high school, the kind of place that book giants like Borders and Barnes & Noble put out of business.


A few years ago, I went to the 57th Street Books because I’d heard that international bestselling author, Irvine Welsh, was going to be there. He’s most popular as the guy who wrote the novel TRAINSPOTTING was based on, but as things turn out, this is actually his weakest book. Those looking for earth-shattering fiction should really look into the sequel, PORNO, or perhaps his finest tale, FILTH. For something a bit more playful, try GLUE, and if it’s meat you’re looking for, you must read MARABOU STORK NIGHTMARES.

Welsh was pimping his new book at the time, so I drove into the city, spent waaaay too much time trying to find a parking spot, and walked through the nice, if a bit rundown, neighborhood. I arrived maybe ten minutes before Welsh was scheduled to appear, and after some diligent searching, I found the place where he would be. There were a lot of empty chairs. Ten minutes, and I was the only one there? That seemed pretty unlikely.

But I didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I sat in the front row closest to the table where he’d be sitting and passed the time by reading his latest book (at the time), THE BEDROOM SECRETS OF THE MASTER CHEFS. It was good, but it was also about a cook, and nothing bores me quicker than reading about food.


When next I looked up, I saw that every seat in the house was taken. Standing room only, and there were A LOT of people standing around.


Welsh was late, which is customary for any signing, really, but not too late. When he walked to the table, I was kind of surprised by his appearance. Usually, writers look older than their authors photos. As Chuck Palahniuk advises, always have your authors photo taken when you’re young. Yet Welsh looked exactly as he did on the backs of his various books. And he was taller than I’d expected, and very solidly built. He seemed more like a Scottish dock worker than a writer.


He didn’t sit behind the desk like the bookstore probably wanted him to. Instead, he moved the chair around to the front and settled in, very relaxed, his legs crossed, and he introduced himself. Gave some background. (Didn’t know he used to live in Chicago.) Talked a bit about his books.


And then he staged a Q&A. I’m afraid this happened so long ago that I don’t remember what questions were asked, but I do recall that they seemed more book questions than movies (although the inevitable question about the filming of PORNO came up, which was given the stock answer; if you’ve ever been to signings, you know what it is).


And then, he gave a reading from his new book. Thankfully, it sounded a lot more fun than the beginning, and I had second thoughts as to how this novel would turn out. One expects a certain level of depravity from Welsh, and it seems that later in the book, he delivers.


Then, he said he’d be having the signing. First come, first serve, which is unusual for a signing of such a famous writer. Luckily, I was front and center, so I swooped in to the front of the line with my stack of books. I had all of his books at the time, and he had no problem with signing them all. In fact, he signed them so quickly I barely had the chance to talk to him. He did comment on my copy of TRAINSPOTTING, which I’d bought used from the library.


Before I knew it, he was sending me on my way. I shook his hand, which was strong and firm, and I tried to make my way through the very unorganized line behind me. All told, I’d been in there less than an hour, which is easily the shortest signing I’d EVER been to. Ever.


I wondered how long it would take the last guy in line to get his books signed. Considering how quickly Welsh signed, I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t take long at all.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

COOL SHIT 5-5-11


AXE COP: BAD GUY EARTH #3: This mini-series comes to a happily-ever-after ending, much like a lot of children’s adventures do. (Except for Sockarang’s Mom, may she rest in peace). More insane childish play from six-year-old writer, Malachai Nicolle. It makes me want to break out my old toys and have a few adventures of my own. The best part? President Zombie Bear Cop. I guarantee you will never come across anything like that in another book, not even in GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS. Well, probably.




JONAH HEX #67: Remember how, in my “review” of the movie, JONAH HEX, I said that having Hex wanted was a stupid idea and that it only ever came up to serve a short-time plot in the comic book series? Lo and behold, this month’s JONAH HEX has the scarred bounty hunter wanted (at a more respectable $1,000). This time, some pox-infested lunatic has cut up his own face and has started slaughtering women and children, pretending to be Hex so he can ruin the man’s reputation and hopefully get him shot in the process. Hex, of course, doesn’t take kindly to this plan and aims to do something about it . . . .



JENNIFER BLOOD #3: Garth Ennis’ Jen-Jen continues cutting a bloody swathe through the mobsters who did her wrong. We get a few more hints at what they might have done to her and her family, but still nothing concrete. This month’s gangster comes to a very, uh, gutsy end. [INSERT CRYPT KEEPER CACKLE HERE.] My favorite scene: when Jennifer’s neighbor corners her in the bathroom with his pants down, and she fantasizes about what she’d like to do to him. Then, her actual solution had me rolling on the floor, it’s that good. Why aren’t you reading this series? Am I not pimping it hard enough?



THE BOYS #54: Okay, I’ve been silent on this book for long enough. Wee Huey learns more about the secret history of the Boys from the main man himself, Mallory, over several glasses of whiskey. Holy shit, just flip through the pages of this book. There are so many words in here, it’s like Kevin Smith wrote this issue. It’s almost an actual prose story. But it looks like we’re finally going to learn a few interesting things about Butcher in the next issue. Stay tuned for more cool shit, folks.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'LL GET THE WHISKEY

[NOTE:  HERE'S ANOTHER SONG FROM THE BAND JESSE RUSSELL AND I KINDA-SORTA STARTED, MEANING IT WENT NOWHERE.  IT'S THE FIRST SONG I WROTE FOR OUR DRINKING SONG DUO, SO IT'S A BIT AWKWARD, BUT I THINK YOU'LL ENJOY IT.]


I went to my job this morn

Hung-over but ready to work
‘tween searching the internet for porn
When the boss-man stopped me, the jerk.


“You’re ten minutes late,” he told me.
“Just like every other day,” he said.
“I’m just as sick as can be,
You’re fired, so get out the lead.”


I packed up my desk and left,
But I had no place to go
With no job I’m bereft
What the hell should I do, Joe?


“The only thing worse than working
Is not working.
I’ll get the whiskey.”


You get the whiskey, you get the beer
I’ll park my ass in the chair right here
A shot and a pint will chase The Fear
And replace the void with endless cheer.


When I went home I found a note
From my lovely girlfriend
She’d taken all her clothes and her coat
And I knew it was the fuckin’ end.


“We had a lot of fun,” she told me.
“I’ll miss what we had,” she said.
“But you’re really headed nowhere, you see
And you weren’t that good in bed.”


That night I tossed and I turned
But the scent of her remains
All night long I prayed and yearned
Joe, help me lose these pains!


“Pussy’s pussy, my friend.
And they’re makin’ more every day.
I’ll get the whiskey.”


You get the whiskey, you get the beer
I’ll park my ass in the chair right here
A shot and a pint will chase The Fear
And replace the void with endless cheer.


The phone rang and awakened me
It was three o’clock in the morning
Who the hell could that possibly be?
I was a minute away from mourning.


“Your father’s gone,” my mother told me.
“He passed away in his sleep,” she said.
“He didn’t feel a thing, he went quietly.
Dear God, I can’t believe he’s dead!”


I couldn’t go back to sleep tonight
I can’t close my eyes again
There’s so much darkness, where’s the light?
Joe, pour a shot. Better make it ten.
“Most folks hate their dad. You got a good one.
Be thankful for the time you had with him.
I’ll get the whiskey.”


You get the whiskey, you get the beer
I’ll park my ass in the chair right here
A shot and a pint will chase The Fear
And replace the void with endless cheer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

FUCK YOU, JONAH HEX!


First of all, let me say that this is not a review. Reviews don’t include words like "I" or "me" because a critic is trying to convey the idea that he is not a person, that what he is saying is truth and not opinion. Old journalism trick. No, this is strictly opinion. This is a smear job, even though the movie JONAH HEX probably doesn’t need it. It didn’t even break even, so it’s almost certain there won’t be a second one.



No, this is personal. Because I love Jonah Hex, and DC betrayed my love by allowing Warner Brothers to make a shitty movie out of a wonderful comic book series. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this. It still hurts whenever I think about what CONSTANTINE did to my beloved HELLBLAZER. So I feel the need to excoriate the movie JONAH HEX. This is vengeance, pure and simple.


First of all, let’s talk about Hex’s background (because this is where the movie drops the ball big time). They make no mention of how Hex’s father sold him into white slavery as a child to the Apache. It’s a long story, so I won’t go into it here, but what it comes down to is this: according to the movie, Quentin Turnbull, played by John Malkovich, is the one who gives Hex the Mark of the Demon. Anyone who has ever enjoyed the JONAH HEX series from DC knows this is absolute heresy. Because of a misunderstanding, Hex gets a heated tomahawk to the face by THE APACHE WHO RAISED HIM TO ADULTHOOD.


And let’s talk about the Mark of the Demon a bit, because the movie people fucked up the make up. You see, they forgot about the eye. The scar starts at the mouth, then moves up and widens Hex’s eye, which is clearly blind throughout the comic book series. Did Josh Brolin, the actor who played Hex in the movie, have an aversion to eye make up?  Maybe wearing a cataract contact lens bothered him.


Anyway, in the movie it is Turnbull who uses a branding iron to fuck up Hex’s face. As he’s doing this, his men murder Hex’s family. Wait, family? Hex didn’t have a family in his background. Sure, later on in the original comic book series, Hex married a woman and had a child with her, but this is not background stuff. This is part of the story. Not only that, but his wife and kid eventually leave him . . . but according to the DC canon, they are both still alive and well.

To make matters worse, the movie folks depict a scene in which, after Hex has been burned by Turnbull’s branding iron, he uses a heated tomahawk to cauterize the wound. Why? Didn’t a BRANDING IRON do the job already? So in the end, it looks like Hex himself gave himself the scar on his face. BULLSHIT! Have the screenwriters even read the original series? Or did they just see a picture of Jonah Hex?

All right, let’s move on to the animated opening credits. Why is it that every movie made out of a comic book series has to have some form of animated credits? Is it just Hollywood’s way of reminding you that hey, this is just comic book stuff? Nothing too important. This kind of garbage just takes a viewer out of the movie and takes credibility away from the storytellers. Believe me, there isn’t enough credibility to waste here.


There is one background thing the screenwriters get right: Hex did kill Turnbull’s son. However, well, it’s a long story. Suffice it to say, Hex didn’t kill him because the guy was a superior officer during the Civil War who had ordered him to burn down a hospital. The truth is a lot weirder than that.


And now, we come to the biggest transgression against the comic book series EVER. According to the movie, Hex was so close to death because of his encounter with Turnbull that he suddenly has the ability to talk with the dead. WHAT?! Where did they get that stupid fucking idea?


All right. This movie is clearly a horror movie. In fact, it’s technically a Weird Western Tale. To those who don’t know, Weird Western Tales are a subgenre of both horror and westerns that combines the two. It was actually named because of the long-running DC series called WEIRD WESTERN TALES, which originally was called ALL STAR WESTERN, in which Jonah Hex made his first appearance.


While some of the other characters in WWT were supernatural (El Diablo comes immediately to mind), HEX NEVER HAD ANY HORROR ELEMENTS TO HIS STORIES. Sure, a lot of strange things happened, but there was nothing that couldn’t actually happen in real life.


Some of you might bring up the Vertigo Hex stories penned by Joe R. Lansdale. Let me make this perfectly clear: I love Lansdale’s work, and his Hex stuff is top notch. However, it is clearly not a part of the actual canon. Nor is the ill-conceived series, HEX, which took place after the original JONAH HEX series ended, catapulting Hex into the distant future. Bottom line: Hex is not magic. The end.


I will give Brolin this much: he does the best he can with the crap he’s given. However, it’s very clear that he’s no fan of the original Hex series. No paycheck is worth this horrible rape of a movie.


Something the movie folks get right: the booze. Hex drinks a lot, and a lot of it ends up slipping out through the hole in his mouth. It’s a nice touch, but it’s certainly not redemptive.


For example, why is the BOUNTY HUNTER Jonah Hex wanted by the authorities? No reason is ever given for this. Sure, in the comic books the occasional story required that he be wanted dead or alive, but this is not good enough for the movie. And they’re willing to give a mere $500 for him? That’s pretty low even for wild west standards, considering how dangerous Hex can be.


Well, they do make a half-hearted attempt at explaining this, but it makes no sense. Apparently, Hex turned Turnbull in during the Civil War (which just did not happen in the books; again, the truth is much weirder and you should read it for yourself). This is just another rape of the series.


Enough about Hex. Let’s talk about some of the other characters for a moment. Aidan Quinn plays President Grant as part of a storyline that was actually covered in the original series, although in a different way. In the books, Turnbull was going to assassinate Grant, but in the movie, Turnbull just wants to attack Washington, DC, with a giant cannon and a bunch of radioactive cannon balls. However, Quinn simply isn’t drunk enough to play Grant, who in real life was an exceptional boozehound.


Will Arnett. I love his work, especially his ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT stuff (and if you haven't seen LET'S GO TO PRISON, you should). However, he’s just such a funny guy that his serious work cannot be taken seriously. Really, why did he think that he could play a military man with any credibility?  He tried, but the task is impossible.


Megan Fox. A lot of people like to give her shit (rightfully so; ever see JENNIFER’S BODY?), but she is kind of nice to look at. However, the character she plays is based on someone from the books who is HORRIBLY SCARRED. Dangerous? You bet, but she is anything but pretty. In the books, she's a bounty hunter, not a fucking whore like in the movie.  You’re probably getting tired of the word “rape” in this so-called review, but seriously. Tallulah (Lilah here) is a total betrayal of what the character is about in the books. And as a side note, could her relationship with Hex be any more clich├ęd? The hooker with the heart of gold and the man who wants to take her away from it all, but he’s too afraid because people around him tend to die? Ugh.


Then there’s Turnbull himself. Malkovich plays him as a psycho, which he certainly wasn’t in the books. He was a southern gentleman, and he never got his own hands dirty. He was the kind of person to hire out his villainy. In the movie, he constantly kills people who get in his way. It’s over the top, like everything else in the movie.


Did I mention that Hex’s horse comes with mounted mini-Gatling guns? First of all, the sheer idea is ridiculous, and secondly, when did Hex ever need anything more than his Dragoons?


Jesus Christ, this is getting long, but I still have plenty of bile left over.

The thing that baffles me is the snake man in the brawl in the middle of the movie. Why is he around? Didn’t the filmmakers “horror” the movie up enough? They just had to throw this acid-drooling asshole in?


And the giant cannon Turnbull uses was created by Eli Whitney? The Cotton Gin guy?


And explosive crossbows? Holy shit, can you get any more stupid than this?


All right, so the mystical Indians save Hex after he’s close to death, at which point Hex pukes out a crow. Fucking typical bullshit.

But the thing that really gets to me is when Hex is hallucinating as he’s near death. He thinks he comes upon Turnbull and winds up having a fight to the death with him. Why does this scene exist? Is it because the movie is on the short side, and they needed something to pad it out?


Or maybe they just wanted something to refer to later in the symbolic final battle between Hex and Turnbull? That’s right, as they physically duke it out, Hex has constant flashbacks to his earlier hallucination, so that it all matches up with what is actually happening in the present. Why would the filmmakers do this? There’s no point, it’s not cool, it merely annoys the shit out of me. I doubt that I’m the only Hex fan out there who was insulted by this awful movie.

All right, another thing I liked about the movie: people constantly asking Hex what happened to his face. This is purely from the Lansdale Hex books. However, the snarky answers he gives are never as good as the ones Lansdale gave us.


Fine. I’m done raving. What it comes down to is this: the JONAH HEX movie is an absolute rape of everything I find enjoyable about the JONAH HEX comic book series. We must stop a sequel from ever being made, just in case DC and Warner didn’t get the message. If you really want to see a good Hex story told in movie format, pick up UNDER THE RED HOOD.  There’s a special feature which retells a Hex story from the current series at DC, and it’s written by Lansdale hisownself. THAT is what Hex is really about.


I’m drunk and angry, so I’ll stop now. There isn’t enough whiskey in the world to forgive what Hollywood did to Hex. Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that this is not a movie worth watching. If I’ve made you curious at all, I apologize. As I said earlier, this is a smear job. If I am the last person in the world to ever watch this movie, I’ll be happy.


That is all.


JONAH HEX
Written by Neveldine and Taylor (Holy shit! It all makes sense now! These jackholes were responsible for the CRANK franchise. No wonder this movie sucks so much.)
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
82 minutes (which is far too long, if you ask me)
$17.99 at Amazon (which is far too much, if you ask me)
2010