Thursday, December 19, 2013

COOL SHIT 12-19-13




LOCKE & KEY: ALPHA #2: [Remember, Cool Shit usually contains spoilers, so tread lightly.] So this is it. The final issue of my favorite ongoing comic book series, and it’s a big motherfucker with 10 extra pages, plus a bunch of extras in the back. It starts out with Bode’s funeral, which is perfectly juxtaposed with how this series began. Remember, when we first met Mr. Locke’s family, it was at his funeral, and the panels match perfectly. But this isn’t about tragedy. No, this is about tying up loose ends, and it only makes sense that it’s Ty that does it. He goes back to the ruins of their home and does the one thing no one really expected him to do: he saves Lucas Caravaggio from the well. Pretty crazy, no? He does a couple of other things while he’s there, one of which alleviates a lot of sorrow, and after another funeral, Ty closes out the series with one final talk with his dead father. It’s a very beautiful issue, not just due to Joe Hill’s outstanding writing, but also because of Gabriel Rodriguez’s incredible artwork. Hill asked Rodriguez to do some of the craziest art in comics history, and the guy fucking delivered each and every time. He’s easily my favorite artist working in the industry today. I’m going to miss this series.


Check out this awesome quote from Mr. Locke: “Death isn’t the end of your life, you know. Your body is a lock. Death is the key. The key turns . . . and you’re free. To be anywhere, everywhere, two places at once. Nowhere. Part of the background hum of the universe.”



So that’s it. If you have any problem with how this book ended, Joe Hill has something for ya’:


Friday, December 13, 2013

'TIS THE SEASON FOR FREE SHIT!

It's almost time for Christmas, and I'm in a giving mood. At Days of the Dead in Schaumburg this past month, I offered a full set of TABARD INN magazines for everyone who bought my StrangeHouse book, TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE. The promotion worked so well that we sold out of my book by Sunday. I think it's time to bring back the deal.


I have two books out right now. If you buy them both, let me know at editor@talesofquestionabletaste.com, and I will send you all three issues of TABARD INN for free. You won't even have to pay shipping. Just send me your physical address, and I'll send 'em off. OK?





STRIP is my first novel and is available on Kindle only (at least for now). It's about a group of desperate men who attempt to rob a Mafia-run strip club that is being watched by an undercover cop. Of course, things go horribly wrong. If you're looking for an ultraviolent, hypersexed crime book, this is what you want. You can find it on Amazon here.





TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE is my second book, my first collection of short stories. True to the title, these stories are nasty buggers. If you're not careful, they'll rape and murder your brain. We have monsters, portals to other worlds, superstitious baseball players, euthanasia enthusiasts, necrophilia, cannibalism and a skyscraper full of affluent, murderous perverts. Something for everyone's taste, questionable as it may be. This book is available on Kindle, but you can also get it in paperback from Amazon here.


Want to know more about TABARD INN? Feel free to look around here. There are three issues. The first contains four short stories, part one of a serial, four poems and two articles. Issue two has five stories, part two of a serial, one poem, two articles and a bunch of beautiful black and white pictures. Issue three--the biggest of them all--has a whopping 31 stories, the third and final part of a serial, one poem, one article and some of the most beautiful black and white pictures you've ever seen. That's 54 titles and a lot of pictures FOR FREE. How could you not be interested in that?


But wait! There's more! If you review these books (honestly, of course; I'm not looking to bribe anyone), either on Amazon, Goodreads or your own blog, please forward it to me, and I'll post it on Twitter (@tusitalabruni). Whether you liked them or hated them, I'll email you a free short story in a Word document featuring one of the characters from STRIP. The offer expires on New Year's Day.


Merry Free Shit Day!

Friday, October 11, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH A BASTARD: WRITER ROBERT M. TANNAHILL SPEAKS!



I’ve always been a writer, for almost as long as I can remember.  For the longest time, I thought I was the only one in my community.  I continued under that delusion until I reached high school.  Freshman year.  I had Mr. Sibley for English that year, and one day he took me aside.  He knew about my abilities, because he’d read a good deal of my fiction back then, not just for assignments.  No, I was the weirdo who liked to write extra stories and hand them in, just to see the response.


On this day, however, Mr. Sibley told me he wanted me to meet another promising writer from another class of his.  The idea was for me and this other guy to switch stories and write a bunch of comments on them to help each other grow as writers.  I handed mine in, and soon after, I received my copy of the story covered with red ink.


Unfortunately, Mr. Sibley must have lost his story.  I never got it.  But I did get something else:  my closest friend for going on 22 years.  Though I never got to read that story, Robert M. Tannahill has been by my side longer than any other friend I have, and Mr. Sibley is the mad scientist who matched us up.  Rob is starting to break through, so we decided to interview each other for our blogs.  What follows is my interview with him.  You can read his interview with me here.


JB:  All your life, you’ve been drawn to the arts.  Writing, drawing, music.  What pushes you in that direction?


RT:  I can’t do anything else.  Everything else I attempt turns to shit.  Plus, it’s the only work I can do without feeling like punching someone.  I like to say I came out of the womb with a pen and a length of nickel.  But then, I was a month late being born.  I must have known something was bullshit.


JB:  What is the worst thing you have ever done, and how has it informed your work?


RT:  Hey, whoa, what are you, a FED?  Truth is, the worst thing I’ve ever done is fail.  It’s hard to call my accomplishments successes.  Oh sure, I’ve won plenty of battles, but to what end?  I’m still broke, I’m not on welfare, but I still get assholes accusing me of leeching even though wherever I’m at I earn my keep—money is great but it is not everything—there’s something to be said for taking care of folks, dig?  Regardless, I keep trying to do kick ass things at the least and great things at the most, but it seems like those who go off and try to be great just trip, fall, and break their face.  My mother once told me I was her “great hope” and I have not lived up to that.  I can take care of myself, but I’m nothing great.  Maybe I’ll end up that way, but it is hard to say.  I just try to get my name out there, and when I do I tend to be met with such resistance that I’m not sure if I’m a complete moron or if these fuckers are jealous.  I fucked up music because it requires working with people, and I’ll admit I don’t work well with others.  I have a clear picture of how things should fit together and I have a lot of trouble stepping back and letting others paint their pictures, mostly because I end up finding their pictures not up to par.  I guess that makes me a prick.  But at least I let them.  Writing, I thought erroneously, was different.  All you need is you.  Well, bullshit.  You need more than yourself.  Also, I have much trouble cow-towing.  I guess that aids my failings.  I just can’t stand having some jerk-off telling me what to do when I already fucking know what to do.  I punch people like that because they annoy me.  Perhaps they should not.  So maybe the worst thing I’ve ever done is the one thing I can’t escape—being me.


JB:  Conversely, what is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?


RT:  Damn good one.  I’m not sure, but I am sure that whatever it was, I did it to myself.


JB:  How far would you go for a story?


RT:  I’ve gone about as far as I can, I think.  Any further, and I’m going to bust through dimensions.  I guess that’ll be the rub.  I’ve looked into the abyss and it has looked into me.  I think we made friends.


JB:  On your blog, you express a lot of hatred for phonies in the writing industry.  What do you think their lives are like, and why do they conduct themselves as such?


RT:  Their lives are either gorgeous or desperate, depending on how long they’ve been sucking Satan’s dick.  If they’ve yet to swallow a load I’d say they’re pretty desperate; as I understand, Satan pays well for a good hummer.  I know they’re doing better than those of us who don’t suck it, I can tell you that much.


JB:  A lot of the way you are can be traced back to your violent, insane father.  Let’s say that in an alternate universe, there is a Robert M. Tannahill whose father loved him and never abused him.  This Robert M. Tannahill also wants to express himself through art.  How does he do it, and why?


RT:  He’s probably famous because he’d have been more commercial.  Gone to college, played the straight game, stayed out of jail, all that shit.  Or maybe not.  Maybe he manages a fucking grocery store and just doodles and pines and wishes someone would come along and fuck his world up so he could pull a “Frank’s Wild Years.”  Hard to say.  He doesn’t exist, at least not here.


JB:  What is your idea of the perfect writing career?  What kind of work does that consist of?


RT:  Perfection is not achievable.  I can tell you what I’ll settle for.  I don’t have any pretensions of being the next Stephen King—I don’t think that’s possible.  I’d like to be able to live a decent life from writing—fuck punching a clock.  I can’t do that.  I punch a clock and sooner or later, I end up punching a face.


JB:  What do you hope to achieve with your work?


RT:  Isn’t that the same question?  Other than the above stated, I’d like to show writers that they do not have to compromise—writing is about not compromising.  Look at some of the shit Warren Ellis writes.  You think he’s compromising?  I don’t.  Of course, Satan’s pecker awaits, ever-stiff.


JB:  What are the top five books you feel everyone should read before they die?


RT:  Are you fucking kidding me?  There’s no top five.  Once one has read the five, they’ll want to read five more, but for the sake of it, we’ll say IT by Stephen King, AND THE ASS SAW THE ANGEL by Nick Cave.  CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Dostoyevsky, ECCE HOMO from Nietzsche, and STRANGE VS. LOVECRAFT, but only for “McHumans” and whatever that D.F. Noble story was called.  And Warren Ellis.  See?  I told you.  And Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.  Everything.  Shit, you ask an author to wrap up five favorite books?  I should kick you in the tante.


JB:  You’ve had a few run-ins with disreputable people in the writing industry lately.  What words of wisdom do you have for any writers starting out today?



RT:  Decide what you want more—money or integrity.  Fast money only comes cheap—never good.  If you want to write groundbreaking shit, don’t write with dollar signs in your eyes.  Never tear up a royalty check, but don’t do it for the cash.  Otherwise, you’ll never get any.  Unless, of course, you’re writing about kitty-puppies and babies and mommies and yuppies and celebutards.  And if you are, I want to kick your ass.  Oh yeah, and have patience—the editor’s coke habit is always going to be more important than you.

Friday, September 13, 2013

TAKING A BREAK FROM BLOGGING

Yeah, it's probably going to be a while before I post here again.  No more reviews, no more Cool Shit, no more anything for a while.  I've fallen behind on my other writing, and I desperately need to catch up.  I have a new novel I should have already been working on right now.  Maybe I'll post something here every once in a while, but it's not going to be a regular thing for quite some time, maybe not until the new year.  We'll see.  But for now, I have to get my ass in gear on the stuff that might actually get me money.  Thank you everyone for your patience and understanding.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

COOL SHIT 9-12-13



KICK-ASS 3 #3:  Aw, man!  The BATMAN:  YEAR ONE plan didn’t work out.  That’s all right, I guess.  Things got pretty fucked up without it.  The Motherfucker is back in action, too, but the real star of this one was Hit-Girl and how she’s been conducting herself in prison.  Drinking whiskey, smoking cigarettes, and castrating drug dealers.  Good times.



THE WALKING DEAD #114:  The stage is set for “All Out War.”  Jesus did a lot of ass kicking this issue, more than you’ve ever seen him do before.  Hell, he managed to upstage Ezekiel’s tiger.  More importantly, Rick is constantly reminded of his fuck up by everyone else.  He’s been too undependable lately, so hopefully this shit gets him back in working order.  And Negan?  Oh, he’s pissed.  The shit hits the fan next month, and I can’t wait!




LOCKE & KEY:  ALPHA #1:  Wow.  Now we finally know Dodge’s plan, and holy shit, it’s even crazier and more destructive than anyone could imagine.  It’s much better than the usual rule-the-world bullshit.  A lot of the plot gets wrapped up in this issue.  People die, things are destroyed, and Tyler shows off a very valuable talent.  It looks like all that’s left is an epilogue.  That final panel is an absolute heart-breaker.  And check it out:  in the back, they show some pictures taken during the making of the ill-fated pilot episode of LOCKE & KEY.  It looks like things really came together on that pilot.  It’s a shame this is probably the closest we’ll ever come to seeing it.  1 ISSUE LEFT!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: TALK!



This is probably the most unexpected find in Artists Alley in a long time.  TALK! is meta-fiction at its finest.  This book is self aware, and the characters know they are in a comic book.  By all rights, this should be the most boring book EVER WRITTEN.  The main story is about a guy telling a friend about a comic book he wants to write.  That’s it.  Ah, but add the self-awareness, and this turns into a work of genius.  The layouts are amazing and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  And then there is the occasional ACTION-PACKED PAGE!!  This book shows what comics are really capable of.  Buy this mindfuck as soon as possible.

Monday, September 9, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: WAYWARD



You won’t find a creepier horror book in Artists Alley than this one.  A group of wayward youths are sent to the Simon Corporation only to be confronted by some very frightening disgruntled spirits.  To say anything more than that would be criminal.  This is the kind of story you need to discover for yourself, to feel the dread just seep over your entire being.  The ending of the final issue is awesome beyond belief.  You should pick these books up right away.

Friday, September 6, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: BACHELOR PAD MAGAZINE



“Booze, Babes, and Burly-Q,” proclaims the top of every issue of BACHELOR PAD MAGAZINE.  How the fuck could I pass this up?  It comes off as the younger, hornier brother of MODERN DRUNKARD MAGAZINE.  Sure, this is a girlie mag, but all the pictures are very tasteful.  They’re not nudes, they’re burlesque.  Not only that, but they have articles about how to make great cocktails, in addition to where you can experience good, booze-soaked noir films.  There are advice columns and interviews with legendary burlesque dancers and, of course, fiction about leggy dames and the drunkards who love them.  To top it all off, they seem to have an obsession with the fez.  If you see them at a convention, be sure to pick up the Red Fez and Smoking Jacket collection.  It’s a bit pricey, but it’s fun.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

COOL SHIT 9-5-13



G.I. JOE:  COBRA FILES #6:  Last time we got to explore Clockspring’s history.  This time, we get Flint’s, and while it’s not quite as interesting, it goes a long way toward explaining him and why he wants to relinquish his leadership role and disband his team.  He views everything as FUBAR, and he’s man enough to know the truth about it.  And we also get a bit more info about Billy, the original Cobra Commander’s son, but I don’t know.  I think there’s something odd going on with him.  I wouldn’t put it past Mike Costa to turn him on us.  Next issue is where things are supposed to get really fucked up.  (On a side note, it’s suggested that this series might be ending soon.  I hope not.  This is my favorite of the Joe books.  The others aren’t even all that good at this point.  This is the only good one going.)




ABSOLUTION:  RUBICON #3:  Looks like John Dusk has recovered enough from his last encounter with the Polymath, and he’s gotten Happy Kitty by his side.  In order to draw his nemesis to him, he publicly cleans up the ghetto by killing a bunch of drug dealers and other various criminals.  Most people will read this and think, oh, he’s being a real superhero for a change.  Well, kind of.  It goes back farther than that.  This is the stranger riding into a town riddled with crime, putting on a badge, and cleaning out the villains.  Judging by the last panel, I’m sure we’ll get his next showdown with the Polymath in the next issue.  I’m sure it will be crazier than the last time.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: MISERERI NOBIS



The title is Latin for “have mercy on us,” and I can think of nothing better to call this book.  Misery and despair are what fuels this one, and it is so beautifully, heart-breakingly done, it’s truly a wonder to behold.  The blurb on the back says, “This is a story of loss, pain, fear, loneliness, shame, and hope.”  I’ll be damned if I can find the part about hope, though.  This will depress the shit out of you . . . but in a good way.  This is a satisfying tale, and in some parts, it might remind you of ERASERHEAD.  I’ve said before that writer and illustrator Mat Festa isn’t the greatest when it comes to illustrating people, but when it comes to otherworldly things, no one is better.  There are some masterful, dreamy sequences in this one.  Do not miss it!


(PS:  I know I'm behind on this one.  It's just that for the life of me, I can't remember ever seeing this one at his table before.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: YI SOON SHIN



This is probably the most educational books you’ll pick up in Artists Alley.  It’s the story of a Korean general named Yi Soon Shin, and how he stood up to the Japanese in the 16th Century.  It’s full of factual information about a guy you’ve probably never heard of before.  The first issue is kind of a struggle to get through, but after that, the historical quality falls away, and it almost becomes a DEADWOOD-ish version of what happened back then.  It’s an interesting story, if you’re interested in the past.  If you liked CRECY by Warren Ellis, you might like this.

Friday, August 30, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: THE (PICK YOUR OWN) ADVENTURES OF ROILY GEMSTONE



I have Leo Perez to thank for this one.  I don’t know how I missed it when I was at the convention.  If I had seen something that warned me that “this book may cause diarrhea and wet dreams (at the same time),” I would have certainly picked it up.  Not only that, but it’s a parody of CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURES.  I mean, come on.  It’s an autobiography.  You can’t have a “pick your own adventure” autobiography.  This book is pure genius!  Some of the choices you have are incredibly awesome.  Check this one out:



“If Roily first opens the letter from his long lost dad, go to section 7.  If Roily first opens the Publisher’s Clearinghouse junk mail letter, go to section 25.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.  This second plot is worthless, shitty, and goes nowhere!”



Or how about this one?



“If you want to read a lot more bullshit, go to section 27.  If you want to quickly end this meaningless story, go to section 35.”



Sometimes, the choice is whether or not Roily should take a shit, or if he should try to get laid.  But no matter what you choose, you will come to dread section 8.  Because surprise!  This book NEVER ENDS!  It just loops over and over again.  This is incredible!  You need to check this one out as soon as possible.  Best of all, Roily actually has songs online!  Check it out here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

COOL SHIT 8-29-13



THE LAST ZOMBIE:  THE END #4:  What.  The.  Fuck?!  We just got three issues of this book in the space of TWO WEEKS.  What’s going on over at AP Entertainment?  Well, I’m not going to complain, certainly not as we near the end of this series.  In the new issue, Ian Scott is closer than ever to turning into a zombie, but he’s got other problems at this moment.  You see, he’s been captured by cannibals, and they don’t believe him when he says he’s infected.  I’m having flashbacks to the time cannibals ate Dale’s leg in THE WALKING DEAD.  Anyway, it would seem the boys have finally reached their destination.  It’s time to turn the final cards.  ONE ISSUE TO GO UNTIL THE END.




(By the way, I also love the deception of this cover.  You know how comic books lie about their contents with their covers all the time?  This one does, too, but the scene depicted actually happens.  It’s not what it seems, though.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: CAPTAIN ARTICHOKE #1



“He has the mind of a man . . . and the heart of an artichoke.”  OK, this book looks pretty silly on the cover, but when you open up to the first page, things are pretty intense.  When we first meet Captain Artichoke, he’s covered with blood and surrounded by hookers.  That’s actually pretty cool.  Ryan Patrick and John Hoban do an excellent job of telling this origin story with just the right measurement of humor and action.  This guy should have been a Troma superhero.  Great stuff.

Monday, August 26, 2013

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 ARTISTS ALLEY: CHEESELORD COMICS

CheeseLord Comics have a few nifty little chapbooks available for this convention season.  Jon Michael Lennon has two, and Leo Perez has one.  They’re all only a dollar, so why not get them all?  Check these out:



KID TOUCHERS AND MORE . . .:  Yes, Lennon has taken mug shots from the sex crimes registry and he has illustrated them for your reading pleasure.  Keep an eye out for the guy charged with sodomy and aggravated urination on a minor . . . .



SUICIDE TASTES LIKE ASS!:  Lennon has been having some problems with the ladies lately, and it’s rapidly driving him crazy.  This is a sketchbook of crazy shit he did just to exorcise these women from his heart.  He goes to a lot of dark places with this one.  It contains his most vile work.  It will change your life.  Just check out the btw #YOLO one, and you’ll never be the same.  (On a side note, Lennon made up shirts for this convention.  One of them is the btw #YOLO one.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it immediately.  Apparently, he didn’t have high hopes for selling this one, so he only made up three of them.  One for him.  I bought the second.  There’s still one left.  He thinks he’s never going to sell it.  I hope one of you proves him wrong.  It is easily the most offensive shirt I have, and I have a shirt that says, THOUSANDS OF MY POTENTIAL CHILDREN DIED ON YOUR DAUGHTERS FACE LAST NIGHT.)




EL TORO DORADO #0:  Perez has a new superhero for us, and his name is El Toro Dorado.  A throwback to El Santo, the Golden Bull’s legend starts here.  Not only does he kick Hitler’s ass, he takes down Anne Frank, too!  Take a look at some of the sketches in the back.  If they’re any indication of what’s to come, shit is about to get fucking crazy very soon.  Look at Abraham Lincoln, for Christ’s sake!  And what about Hammer and Sickle?  Good times are coming at CheeseLord Comics.

Friday, August 23, 2013

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE #24: AMERICA v2.0




If you’ve known me for a great deal of time, you know my political views are in the middle of the road.  That pisses conservatives and liberals off, and they usually have this snappy comeback for me:  “The middle of the road?  That’s where people get run over, you fool!”  Actually, if you’re in the middle of the road, you should be safe.  That’s where the dotted line is.  It’s when you wander to one side or the other that you get hit.



They also tell me that I can’t complain about anything because I’m not a registered voter.  The problem is, my vote ultimately doesn’t count, and it’s all due to the Electoral College.  In case you slept through your U.S. History and Government classes, when you think you’re voting for president, you are actually voting for someone who will then vote for president.  This is why elections are so fucked up, since they don’t represent the popular vote, but the special vote.  This system was designed to make sure that only people of importance would be able to elect a president.  (And by importance, they mean that these people have penises, don’t have dark skin, and are at least moderately wealthy.)  As a result of this system, we have red states and blue states.  I live in Illinois, and this state has not voted for a Republican since 1988.  Therefore, if I vote Democrat, I’m wasting my time, since that’s the direction Illinois will go in anyway.  If I vote Republican, I’m wasting my time because Illinois would never go for my guy.



Sorry, if I’m going to vote for president, I want to actually vote for president.  I’m kind of weird like that.  If they ever abolish the Electoral College and go by a popular vote basis—person to person, not state to state—then I will register as a voter and start voting right away.  That’s never going to happen, though, because when politicians have power, they NEVER give it up.  (Which is an indication of extremely poor leadership, by the way.)  It’s funny, because in this day and age, we have absolutely NO NEED for the Electoral College.  The argument could be made (if we’re feeling generous) that the EC was created because it would be hard to count all of those votes across 13 states.  Why not just send a few delegates to decide the vote instead?  However, we live in the Future, where many more things are possible.  Communication is incredibly easy these days.  We have the internet.  We don’t need the EC.



I’ve always believed this.  However, this article is not about the EC.  It’s about obsolescence.  We have to face a couple of facts.  First of all, we can all agree that our government isn’t working properly, yes?  And it’s all happened before.  A lot of what’s going on now happened to Rome a couple of thousand years ago.  Our country is ready to fall, maybe not in our lifetimes, but probably in the lifetimes of our grandchildren.  This leads me to why I think the government is not working:  it’s based on a document that was written more than 200 years ago, and it has not changed with the times.  That is a completely inefficient way of running a country.  Imagine if AT&T decided to stick to rotary phones when cell phones came out.  Say they chose to ignore the internet when it came out.  Where would they be now, in 2013?  That’s right, out of business.



We need to update our government.  We need to change.  We need to adapt.  Or we will fall like Ancient Rome.



Let’s take a look at the three branches of government.  The Executive is fine.  Any company needs a CEO, and America, Inc. would be incomplete without a boss.  Let’s leave that one alone.  How about the Judicial Branch?  That’s fine, too.  Justice always needs to be served, and they usually do a decent job at it.  (I am uncomfortable with the fact that Justices are appointed by one man, and that they serve for life, but I don’t have a solution for that one.  I’ll leave it alone for now, and maybe come back to it in a future Everyone’s Got One.)



But the Legislative Branch . . . THAT’S where the real problem is.  It suffers from the same problem that the EC does:  obsolescence.  What are we taught when we are school children?  That America is a democracy.  Eh . . . that’s not quite true.  It’s a republic.  For democracy to actually take place, everyone needs a voice, not just a proxy voice.



It is easy to see why the Legislature exists.  We needed to make laws, but there is just no way of getting everyone’s vote on things, not back in 1787, when the Constitution was adopted.  As a result, we had to elect people who would speak for us, so we could send them to Washington, DC, to let our voices be heard.



We no longer live that way.  We can get from New York to LA in 5 hours by airplane.  We can talk to someone on the other side of the world by phone or computer in mere seconds.  Communication has improved a thousand-fold since 1787.  We no longer need to send people to speak on our behalf.  We can speak for ourselves.



It’s time to abolish Congress.  They have served their purpose, and they are no longer necessary.  Instead, we can use the internet for something besides looking up cat pictures and weird porn.  If you don’t have a voting machine in your pocket—ie. your phone—you at least have one in your home—ie. a computer.  Let’s make this a real democracy.  Let’s see what happens when everyone has power, not just a select few.  Let’s vote on our own laws for the first time EVER.



Ah, but what about corruption?  Well, there will always be corruption.  There’s no way out of that one.  You can only punish it whenever you uncover it.  But the main problem with my proposal is that systems are so easily hacked.  Your vote can be hijacked pretty easily, right?



So we’ll need something to take Congress’s place.  (Besides, we need a three-pronged system of checks and balances.  Executive and Judicial won’t cut it on their own.)  Why not create the Technology Branch?  Maybe elect two people—by popular vote, not by appointment—from each state to sit in on this project.  Their job is to oversee everything online, to make sure no one cheats.  Why so many?  Because if we kept it to a small group, they can easily be bribed.  To bribe a hundred people, on the other hand, takes some deep pockets.  And with that many people involved, keeping it secret would be just about impossible.



This country needs to adapt to the times, or we’re all doomed.  Granted, everything I outlined here will never happen, because politicians never give up power.  Since Congress would have to vote for their own abolition, my proposal is absolutely impossible to achieve.  The only way to get it done would be a bloody revolution, and that’s not going to happen.  No, this country will collapse like so many other nations in the history of the world, and then something new will rise up.  Maybe when that happens, someone will discover this post and think, hey, that’s not a bad idea.




What do you think?  Do you have any better ideas?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

COOL SHIT 8-22-13



NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD:  AFTERMATH #10:  Noooooooo!  Writer David Hine lived up to his threat from last issue.  They took my favorite character and injected him with the zombie serum.  Many of you may remember me saying they should have given Vic his own spin-off, but I guess that’s not happening now . . . .  However, he’s not out of the picture yet.  It seems that this new version of the serum has let him retain some of his intelligence.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’ll definitely wait it out and see where Hine is going with this.



THE LAST ZOMBIE:  THE END #3:  The shit has hit the fan.  Dr. Ian Scott’s secret is out.  Everyone knows he’s slowly becoming one of the undead.  Now Planters and company have to figure out what they’re going to do with him.  In the meantime, Frankie turns out to be just like her other incarnations.  For those who don’t know, she’s appeared several times in writer Brian Keene’s novels, usually alternate universe versions of her.  Very few of them turn out to have good luck.  They’ve also made a odd choice with the new artist, Ben Dunn.  In fact, looking through this issue kind of reminds me in moments of my webcomic with Robert Tannahill, THE COCAINE! BROS.  When the guys finally make their escape from Chicago, two of them finally get to deal with Harrow.  As they descend upon him, I get a definite Tucker/Hunter feeling from them.



G.I. JOE:  THE COBRA FILES #5:  Finally, we get a look into Clockspring’s past.  He’s easily one of the creepiest members of the Joe team, and not the cool kind of creepy, like Freddy Krueger.  No, this is creepy like the guy who follows you home at midnight.  Still, it’s great to see him finally fleshed out.  We now see what makes him tick.  When I was at C2E2, writer Mike Costa promised a lot of emotional damage coming in the near future.  I think this might be the calm before the storm.  Writers don’t always deliver on such promises, but Costa usually does.  It makes my ballsack shrivel just thinking about it.  I think things are about to get fucked the fuck up.



CROSSED:  BADLANDS #35:  If there was any doubt that Amanda has finally lost it completely, it should be gone by now.  Lorre really got into her head pretty badly, and now she’s murdering regular people, pretending that the Crossed got to them.  So, you know, she had to mutilate the bodies and cut their dicks off, and all that stuff.  How much farther can writer David Lapham push her?  I guess we’ll find out next issue, when this story arc concludes.  (Oh yeah, and Candy has gotten pretty weird, as I’m sure you can tell from the sample above.  That’s the prelude to the strangest face-fuck in comics history.)




KICK-ASS 3 #2:  This is a low-key story for Kick-Ass himself.  No, the star of this one is Rocco Genovese, the most recent member of this scumbag mobster family to enter into play.  He is infinitely scarier than any of his brethren.  I can’t wait to see more of this guy in action.  This is also quite the issue for the Motherfucker’s mother, who toys with the idea of taking her son out of the world to atone for bringing him into it.  Things get mighty strange by the last page.  (OK, Kick-Ass does one thing that’s really cool in this issue.  Check out his BATMAN YEAR ONE plan to see what I mean.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A NEW CHEESEBURGER COMES TO TOWN: A restaurant review of H.B. Jones



The southeast corner of York and Vallette in Elmhurst is the perfect place for a restaurant.  Not a fast food place, either; no, it has to be a casual dining place.  So many businesses have tried their luck at this location, most recently a greenhouse, but they’ve all met untimely demises.



Until now.  H.B. Jones has taken up residence, and it looks like they’re making money hand over fist.  Drive by the place at any given time of the day, and chances are good that the place is packed.  Parking is impossible.  It’s always lively there.



What’s the big deal?



First of all, it should be noted that the H.B. stands for Hamburger, and Jones comes from the phrase “jonesing for food.”  They advertise their place as a food adventure, offering all kinds of different culinary excursions for your enjoyment.  They don’t necessarily have a theme, but there seems to be a kinda-sorta ocean feel, what with the boat imagery and the hammerhead shark that hangs from the ceiling (complete with a burger in its mouth).  However, there are plenty of planes in evidence, as well.  It helps that they decided to use the greenhouse that the previous owners left behind.  It gives the illusion of being outside while the fans keep things from getting too hot.  It’s very spacious, offering the chance to stretch out and maybe move a bit.  As far as ambiance goes, H.B. Jones gets an A+.



But how is their burger?  This thing is huge.  Served on what seems like an old fashioned hubcap, it takes up a lot of space.  They use a nice thick hunk of cheese, and everything is complete with a side of seasoned fries.  It looks gorgeous.



It’s too bad that the taste doesn’t live up to the picture perfect display.  Not that it’s a bad burger.  It’s good, just short of great.  Perhaps if they used better meat or seasoning, they could be a force to be reckoned with.  They don’t have much of a feel for medium-rare, either.  They tend to overcook it a bit too much.  It’s definitely not worth the outrageous $11 they charge for it.



The fries are absolutely wonderful, though.  They are perfect.  Not only that, but they have a fine selection of beers and booze.  All in all, it’s the perfect place to hang out and have a few drinks.  Give it a try sometime.



H.B. Jones
551 E. Vallette St.

Elmhurst, IL 60126

Monday, August 19, 2013

A NOTE ON WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2013 COVERAGE

As most of you know by now, Wizard World turned down my press pass for 2013.  This enraged me quite a bit, and as a result, I said that I wouldn't be covering that stupid fucking convention this year.  However, I realize that this might hinder the people in Artists Alley, and they don't deserve to be shit on like that.  So here's my compromise:  there will be no coverage, and there will be no formal reviews.  However, if I picked up a book in Artists Alley that I really enjoyed, I'll plug it here.  Cool?


I'm going to try one last time for a press pass for C2E2 next year.  If they don't give it to me, then I'm going to retire my coverage of comic book conventions.  It sucks, but cons cost waaaay too much money to cover them on my own dime.  As it turns out, I've discovered horror cons are a lot of fun.  Flashback doesn't offer press passes, so I won't be covering them, but Days of the Dead is coming up in Schaumburg in November.  They DO offer press passes, so I'm thinking if I can score one, I'll start covering that con instead.  (That is, I will if I don't wind up stepping on Forced Viewing's toes.)


EDIT:  I should mention that I'm making an exception for MISERABLE AMERICANS.  Since practically nothing came out last week, I didn't get anything I could review for Wednesday.  I decided to go with MISERABLE AMERICANS because I'd never heard of the guy who does it before.

Friday, August 16, 2013

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE #23: HOW I'VE CHANGED



Most of the people who know me personally are probably laughing at this title right now.  Everyone knows I don’t really change all that much.  I dress the same way I did when I was in elementary school, I get the same haircut, I eat the same shit, and I try to avoid new technology.  (For example, I didn’t have a cell phone until maybe four years ago, and I just got internet in my house last year.)



But contrary to popular belief, I do change, if only a little bit at a time.  Look at it this way:  take two people who know a guy, and then send one of them away for ten years.  Bring them back together, and the one who’d disappeared for a while will be surprised to see how much that person changed.  The guy who stayed, though, won’t think much of it because he’s seen the subject every day of those ten years.  It’s like that.



There are four things that I’ve noticed about the ways I’ve changed of late, and I find two of them mildly disturbing, and the other two disgustingly shocking.



--I don’t remember anyone’s phone numbers anymore.  Even when I was a kid, I didn’t have a mind for numbers, but I still retained maybe ten phone numbers in my head that were absolutely essential to me, among them my home, my grandparents’, the library’s, my best friend’s, my cousin’s, and a few others.  Now, I can’t even remember my own cell phone number.  It’s crazy.  The only thing I can think of, aside from early senility, is that since I can just save phone numbers on my cell phone, my brain has decided it no longer needs to waste space on this remembering them.  This is mildly disturbing.



--I can’t remember directions anymore.  I used to be a parts driver for the City of Elmhurst, so I had to have a map of every place in my head.  I knew the suburbs and a lot of the city like the back of my hand.  Now?  I remember very little of it.  Again, senility comes to mind, but a more likely suspect is the GPS I have in my car.  Who the fuck needs to remember directions anymore?  Hell, when was the last time you gave directions to someone?  This is mildly disturbing.  (It should also be noted that this seems to go for cab drivers, too.  When I was a kid, cab drivers knew where everything was.  Now, as an adult, whenever I get into a cab, I have to give the fucker directions.  And that’s even WITH the GPS they usually have.  How the fuck is it possible that cabbies don’t know how to get to Midway?!)



--I’m losing my ability to spell.  Shit that I should know is no longer in my head.  I’ve always been an excellent speller.  Straight A’s on that one throughout my entire life.  This one I lay squarely at the feet of spell check and auto correct.  This is disgustingly shocking because I’m a writer, and I should know these things.  I’m supposed to be smarter than this machine when it comes to this kind of thing.



--This is the most disgustingly shocking thing of all.  I’ve always been a fan of bookstores.  Once upon a time, I would take my weekly paycheck and go to a bookstore and peruse their wares.  I would inevitably spend too much, but it would always be worth it, considering my prizes.  Even though it was more convenient and cost-effective to shop on Amazon, I resisted for a long time.  But then the mom and pop bookstores disappeared from my area.  And then Borders disappeared.  And I refuse to shop at Barnes & Noble because they were the ones who started the remaindering process.  Where the fuck else did I have to go?



I gave in.  I haven’t bought a book from an actual store in maybe three years.  Yeah, I know.  But the thing is, during that time, I forgot the bookstore experience.  I’d gotten caught up in the cold, antiseptic (but ever so convenient) practice of buying from Amazon.  And this is not to knock them, because Amazon is a fabulous thing.  I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars with them, and I’ll probably spend even more before my death.



But there is beauty in an actual bookstore, and I’d forgotten that until I’d gone to see Weird Al Yankovic at Anderson’s in Naperville.  (It could have happened a month previous, when I’d gone to Joe Hill’s signing there, but since he had an actual show to put on, I paid attention to that and not my surroundings.)  I sat down in the stacks to read while waiting for my turn to meet Weird Al, and directly in front of me was a bookshelf loaded down with glorious, wonderful books.



It’s hard to say how I felt in that moment, letting my eyes drift over spines and covers.  My heart quickened, thinking about how much I would enjoy having each and every one of those books in my own collection.  My head opened like a rose in the morning sun, and I found myself glancing up over whatever I was reading to admire the view before me.  I felt like I was 20 again.  I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten this sensation.  I started calculating how much money I had in my pocket, and I felt the almost overwhelming urge to grab a handful of books to take home with me.



I resisted, since I’m trying to battle my way out of debt right now, but I know that the 20-year-old version of me would have lost that struggle.



So how about it?  In what ways have you changed over the years?  And are you disgusted with yourselves or proud?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

COOL SHIT 8-15-13



THE WALKING DEAD #113:  Last issue was pretty intense.  If you don’t think it can get any crazier, you don’t understand Robert Kirkman.  Now that Rick has pissed Negan off more than ever, it falls to his son to turn Negan into a supernova.  Wow.  Poor Lucille.  The only problem is, it seems like Carl has doomed three of the community’s citizens to death . . . .  That’s to say nothing about Andrea’s little problem in the bell tower.  Yeah, this one’s pretty intense.  But I think next one’s going to be even more intense.  And if you don’t think so, well, you know.  (Next issue is supposed to be the lead up to the next huge story arc, “All Out War,” and they’ve gotten mighty ambitious with the release schedule.  12 issues in 7 months?  I don’t know if they can pull that off.  We’ll see.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

MEETING AUTHORS #7: WEIRD AL YANKOVIC




Okay, it sounds kind of odd to call Weird Al Yankovic a writer, considering his prominence in music, but he HAS written two books.  He’s out promoting his new release, MY NEW TEACHER AND ME, a kids book about the importance of creativity, even at the price of truth.  I found out that he was going to be at Anderson’s in Naperville for a signing, so I preordered the book and got my number in line:  236.  Yikes.


Of course, I knew it was going to be extremely crowded.  Anderson’s may be pretty big for a family owned bookstore, but it’s still a small place.  I expected maybe 500 or so people to show up, and I really didn’t think they could fit that many people in there.  Maybe not even legally.


So I made sure to get an early start.  I got out of work, rushed to my comic book shop (it was Wednesday, after all), and sped out to Naperville.  I got there about an hour before the signing was scheduled to start, and I was surprised to find that there weren’t a lot of people there yet.  I discovered that he wasn’t going to do any kind of show or anything; he was just going to sign.  That was probably for the best.  There’s no way they could have accommodated 500 people that way, especially since his signing the previous night had taken five hours.


After I got my book, I scouted out a place to sit.  Just in time, too, because that’s when people started flooding in.  I got real comfortable, because I knew I’d be there a loooooong wait, and I zipped through Weird Al’s book pretty quickly.  It’s a fun little read.  It’s exactly the kind of book I would have worn to pieces when I was two.  I then started reading my comics.  I got through about half of them before he arrived.  By then, the bookstore was packed from wall to wall, and everyone was ready to murder each other over a place to sit.


I got through all of my comics and more than half of the novel I was reading at the time before the night was through.  I heard them calling out blocks of numbers and lining them up in the stacks.  Even though he was only signing the book and nothing else, the line went cripplingly slow.


The thing that surprised me the most was how many fat people were in that room, and they were all completely inconsiderate.  I’m a fat guy myself (255 lbs. as of this writing, something I’m trying to change), but I don’t go around carelessly knocking into people with my flabby gut and NOT apologizing to people.  I was jostled so much by these people, it’s insane.  There was plenty of room between my chair and the bookshelf in front of me, yet all these fat people kept knocking into my knees, sometimes violently pushing my legs away.  None of these fuckers so much as acknowledged my presence.  Seriously, these guys were so big I wondered if maybe they were auditioning for a sequel to the “Fat” video.


Anyway, they finally called my block of numbers, but when I got lined up in my cattle chute, we found out that he was still on the 170’s.  Fuck.  I’d given up my good seat for standing up for the next hour or so.  In front of me was a couple of young kids who were constantly making out.  Behind me was a quiet, polite woman who had bought two tickets so she could get something extra signed.  I sat between them and started reading again.  The woman behind me said, “That’s a good idea.  I should have thought of that.”


Before long, we were in the real line, and we could finally see the man himself.  He sat at a tall, round table, and he looked like a giant.  Also, he’s got a freakishly long face.  You can see it when he’s on TV, but in person, it seems even longer.


As we got closer, I could hear him bantering with his fans.  One guy said, “This is a pretty good book.  I read it while I was waiting in line.”  Weird Al replied, “You read the whole thing?!”  Another guy was so nervous that he knocked over the Anderson’s sign off to the side as he retreated.  Weird Al asked if he was okay, and the guy responded to the affirmative with a quaky voice.


Finally, it came time to meet him.  He was sitting down on a stool, and his head was just a bit above mine, which meant he was probably taller than he looked on TV.  Like, maybe six-three.  [Edit:  it turns out he’s six feet exactly.  He looks a lot bigger.]  He greeted me eagerly, calling me by name and shaking my hand with a firm grip.


I told him that many years ago, I’d seen him perform at Drury Lane in Oakbrook for his OFF THE DEEP END tour.  He remembered the show with a fond smile.  I then said that it was probably the only time stage diving had ever happened in that theater, and he seemed to get a kick out of that.


For those who don’t know, Drury Lane is a theater whose main demographic are retired folks who want to see classic plays and, at least once a year, a Debbie Reynolds concert.  Weird Al playing there is a very unusual thing, especially for OFF THE DEEP END.  The single off of that one was “Smells Like Nirvana,” so unsurprisingly, audience members felt the urge to stage dive.


After I told Weird Al that, he said with some faux-nervousness, “I wasn’t the one stage diving, was I?”  I laughed and told him it was people from the crowd.  “You know,” he continued, “that was probably the last time in my life I could have gotten away with stage diving.”


We laughed, and I shook his hand, thanking him for his time.  I then went on my way, which was a bit difficult because the way out was blocked by a lot of stuff.  I managed to get back around to the rest of the store when I found myself confronted with a phalanx of people standing in place, obstructing my view of the door.  Certainly a fat guy like me would wind up knocking people around on his way out to freedom, right?



Nope.  I sucked in my gut, slipped my bag around behind me, and made my way through that fleshy maze without coming into contact with anyone.  Not a single person.  And even if I had, the first words out of my mouth would have been, “I’m sorry.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

COOL SHIT 8-8-13



THE TRANSFORMERS:  MONSTROSITY #3:  Remember a while ago, when I reviewed a trashy action adventure story about the Dinobots from the past?  I said it was a waste of time, because the writer could have explored why the Dinobots—who should be Decepticons, by right—chose to be Autobots instead.  Well . . . we finally have a writer (two, actually:  Chris Metzen and Flint Dille) willing to step up to the plate on that one.  This is the issue we get our answer.  And a lot of other cool shit happens, too, like a dying Megatron vs. the Terrorcons (and Pentius, the guy with the five revolving faces, is thrown in, too).  And how about Scoponok’s batshit crazy scheme, revealed in the last pages?  It’s also nice to see the non-partisan Transformers leaving Cybertron, and the mess everyone has to go through in order to make this a reality.  Not only that, but the artwork is fucking amazing!  Livio Ramondelli should do more work in this series!  He lends everything a cold, stark reality.



THE TRANSFORMERS:  ROBOTS IN DISGUISE #20:  Here, we finally get to see King Starscream in action.  I’ve always wanted to see this, since I was a kid.  I don’t mean like the three seconds of power he had in the animated movie; I mean power, for real.  And it’s a wonder to behold, not because he wants to lord over people, but because he actually wants to rebuild this society.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s not being altruistic.  He really gets off on being in charge, but like all politicians, he wants to keep his position.  Hence, he goes through a great deal of lying and misdirection.  Of course, there’s a pretty Machiavellian move he pulls on a poor fellow by the name of Scoop . . . .  And it’s really weird seeing Starscream feel remorse for some things.  I didn’t think he was capable of it.  Seriously, this book keeps getting better and better.




FATALE #16:  I’m really digging the new story arc.  It reminds me of Ed Brubaker’s oldest work, LOWLIFE.  In fact, the group of friends living in the house that Josephine has stumbled into really remind me of the characters from that other book.  Unless memory serves me poorly, I could also swear that LOWLIFE featured these nobodies pulling off an armed robbery, too.  Then again, it’s an easy connection to see, since this takes place in Seattle, post-Kurt Cobain, much like LOWLIFE did.  It’s easy to feel a bit of nostalgia for this one, the perfect feeling to experience while reading FATALE.