Friday, January 31, 2014

MEETING AUTHORS #8: PENN JILLETTE



First of all, I should mention this isn’t the first time I’ve met Penn Jillette. Back in the ‘Nineties, my father took me to a Penn & Teller show in Vegas, and I met both of them as we came out after. The last part of their act featured them dressed in togas and covered in blood, so that’s how they stood out in the lobby of the theater, signing autographs. Fast forward maybe ten years, and my grandfather, my brothers and I went to a Penn & Teller show in Chicago. During one of their acts, Penn, who is a giant, was stuffed into a barrel with a bunch of rods stuck through it. He invited everyone in the theater to come on stage and take a look in the barrel to see there were no tricks involved. I went down and couldn’t believe my own eyes. I also met him again as we left the theater, and he signed more autographs.


But those times were as a magician. This time, I got to meet Penn Jillette, the author.


He’s written a few books with Teller, but he’s also done quite a few solo books. My favorite is SOCK, which is one of the most inventive cop novels I’ve ever read. His new book is EVERY DAY IS AN ATHEIST HOLIDAY!, and I rushed out to Anderson’s in Naperville to get my own copy. This time, I got there early enough to get a seat, which turned out to be a good idea since by the time I turned around at the start of the presentation, the bookstore was stuffed with people.


I sat there, reading the book when I heard Penn on the other side of the book shelf from me. Holy shit, he was early. Considering how many authors have been early to signings lately, I’m going to have to renew my general theory that everyone is late, and those who aren’t are exceptions.


I heard him talking with an Anderson’s rep about the details of the signing. And then I heard him reference bringing a friend with him. I wondered if it might be Teller, but then I heard the name “Tony.” I knew Penn was friends with Tony Fitzpatrick, who lives in the area, and I wondered if maybe that was the friend in question. That would be very cool.


Not too long after, Penn stepped out and greeted us all. He looked even taller than I remembered, and with his hair NOT tied back in a ponytail, he looked like a caveman dressed in modern clothes. The first thing he said? “I just want to check with everyone before we begin. Is it okay if I curse? I mean, I can do this clean, but I just want to check with everyone.”


I was the first person to respond to this, and can you guess what I said? Oh yeah.


And he cursed. He cursed like a motherfucker.


He also said that he’d brought a friend with him. “I’m sure since this is Chicago, Tony Fitzpatrick needs no introduction.” And he pointed back.


It was too crowded. I couldn’t see him. But fuck, how cool is that? According to Terry, the guy who runs the comic book shop I go to, Fitzpatrick used to have his studio on that very block in Villa Park. I love his art, but I was a bigger fan of his Comedy Central show back in the day, DRIVE-IN REVIEWS with Buzz Kilman. Fitzpatrick is an artist whose work adorns the private collections of top names like Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon, Andrew Vachss, Bill Gates, Morgan Freeman, Martin Scorsese and so on. But as I looked around at my fellow fans, I suddenly got the impression that I was the only one who knew who Fitzpatrick is.


Penn began his presentation, and he spoke with the power of a hell-fire preacher, which is pretty funny, considering his atheism. He’s a riveting speaker, as he should be after years of being a stage magician. Not once in all the time he spoke did he become boring. He spoke on a lot of topics, mostly atheism and his run on CELEBRITY APPRENTICE. He brought out the one question us atheists are asked all the time by people who have at least some spiritual belief: “If you don’t believe in God, then what motivates you to be good?”


I usually respond with something like, “We’re all in this together. Why make each other miserable in our short time on this planet?” I like Penn’s answer a lot better: “I rape and murder all the people I want to. That number of people is ZERO.” He finds it abhorrent that people need to be threatened with punishment in the afterlife to be good on this planet. I agree.


He also told a great story about one of his friends on CELEBRITY APPRENTICE having a breakdown, and the cameras wanted to get the most out of the situation. Penn, feeling bad for his friend, started singing “Hey Jude,” and the cameras stopped rolling instantly. Apparently, it is very expensive to get the rights to use that song, and no one at the network wanted to pay the price. He also explained why he thought people tended to act like assholes on reality shows. It’s a very interesting theory, but it’s in the book, and Penn tells it better than I can here.


At one point, he broke the microphone. To the best of my memory, I think he dropped it on the table in faux-shock at something. The top just cracked off, and he did his best to put it back on. It worked for a while, but it kept falling back off. Finally, he gave up, asking the audience if he even needed the fucking thing. Of course he didn’t. His voice is deep and resonating. I’m certain people across the street could hear him.


It came time for the Q&A. As always, I wanted to ask a question that the author in question has never been asked. I figured most of the crowd was here due to his reality show appearances, and maybe from his magic shows with Teller. I felt fairly confident that no one else would ask about his movie (again, with Teller) called PENN & TELLER GET KILLED. A smile bloomed on his face as he talked about the project, which he really had fun with, but he knew they’d never get another chance at a movie because it flopped pretty badly. He couldn’t believe they’d gotten a real director for the movie, either. Arthur Penn directed BONNIE AND CLYDE, THE MIRACLE WORKER and LITTLE BIG MAN, among others. On set, they had to refer to the two Penns by their other names in order to differentiate between them.


After the questions, we all got lined up to get our books signed. When I got up there, I asked the Anderson’s rep if he’d also sign SOCK, which I had brought as well. She said sure. I put both books down in front of him, and as he signed, I talked about that first show that I’d seen. He loved talking about the blood and togas. He got a kick out of the fact that someone remembered that show, especially since he winds up mentioning it in the book. But there were a lot of people in line, so there wasn’t much time to talk. We said our goodbyes, and as I headed for the door, I kept looking left and right, hoping to run into Tony Fitzpatrick. I remembered reading a book of his poetry at the library maybe fifteen years ago, and I wanted to talk to him about it. Sadly, I didn’t see him.



I’ve met so many awesome writers at Anderson’s over the years. Clive Barker, Dave Barry, John Sandford, Joe Hill, Weird Al and the list goes on. I can’t thank Anderson’s enough for bringing them all in, and I hope to see more there in the future. They’re the best bookstore in the area, and I highly recommend you all give them a visit.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

COOL SHIT 1-30-14



[Friendly reminder: Cool Shit is not a comic book review. It’s just what I think is the best gathering of books that came out this week. Because of this, there will be spoilers. The spoilers for this week are in the last selection, ALL-STAR WESTERN #27.]



WRAITH #3: Charlie Manx is one of the finest villains in horror history, and it’s good to see that writer Joe Hill has decided to do a comic book series about him. The antagonist of NOS4A2 has walked into the middle of a prison bus escape. A former circus geek, a movie mogul who accidentally killed his lover during a moment of kinky sex and a moral father who might have committed murder to avenge the wrongful death of his son (we still don’t know for sure if this is the case, but it sure looks that way) have crashed their prison bus and have taken their guards captive. The mogul happens to be a friend of Charlie Manx, and he contacts the creep to help them escape the authorities. The only problem is, they have to go to Christmasland to do it . . . I love the reactions of all three criminals in the back of the Wraith as they first realize how strange the car is, and then when they see Christmasland and its toothy denizens with their own eyes.



SERENITY: LEAVES ON THE WIND #1: Looks like FIREFLY has returned to comics yet again. The Browncoats may be making a comeback in this book. A new revolution is beginning, thanks to Mal’s actions at the end of the film. Could it be that the Alliance is about to come to pieces? And what the fuck is Jayne doing off on his own? I just have one problem: can we please, pretty-fucking-please, stop using the leaf-on-the-wind phrase? It’s getting driven into the ground. That scene was very moving in the film, a very powerful moment, and to see it constantly cheapened over and over again is nauseating. Also, who wants to take bets that writer Zack Whedon is going to bring Wash back to life somehow?



ALL-STAR WESTERN #27: At first, I was going to say that this was the single worst issue of anything that ever featured Jonah Hex in it. Even worse than the Booster Gold issues. Almost the whole book is a waste of time. First of all, the first seven pages are dedicated to Superman showing off to Hex, flying him around and then throwing boulders into the air so he can use his heat ray eyes to make them explode. Fuck that shit. Most of the rest of the book shows Hex’s girl showing him around a Jonah Hex exhibit at a museum, and this includes a display of his taxidermied corpse. So it would seem that the New 52 is sticking to canon on that point. That’s kind of cool, but it’s not enough to redeem the rest of the bullshit of this book.




And then . . . then came the last panel. Oh please, I beg of the DC gods, let this be the last issue of ALL-STAR WESTERN. This would be the perfect ending to the series. Jonah Hex dies in a drunk driving collision, his motorcycle versus a big rig 18-wheeler? It makes perfect sense. Let it end here. Don’t give us a next issue which starts with him in a hospital bed covered in bandages. Or even worse, don’t let this be the way he gets back to the Wild West. That’s stupid. He’s got to be dead. Look at all that blood. Hex doesn’t have super powers. It should be next to impossible for a motorcyclist to survive crashing into a truck head on. I know, there’s no way DC will go with that. But I can hope. Fuck me for being a completist. If I had the willpower to quit this series, I’d take my THE FOLLOWING stance with it. (I refuse to watch the new season of THE FOLLOWING because I think the ending of season one is the perfect ending to that story.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

IT'S A SPIRIT, GET IT?! A whiskey review of Jacob's Ghost



The first thing one notices about Jim Beam’s new whiskey, Jacob’s Ghost, is its clarity. Unlike other whiskies, this one is clear, like vodka. It’s a hard idea to get into one’s head, but it’s certainly unusual. Next, it has a remarkable looking label. “Ghost” is the biggest word on the label, and just under it is a giant depiction of Jacob Beam, the first face you’ll see on the side of a regular bottle of Beam. Look very closely, and you’ll notice his eyes move. No, you don’t need to be drunk to see it.


As with their other specialties, this one has a story on the label as well. It reads, “Jacob’s Ghost celebrates the ‘spirit’ of Jim Beam’s founding distiller, Jacob Beam—by refining the clear whiskey he first distilled in 1795. Jacob’s Ghost is clear, but it isn’t Moonshine or un-aged White Dog. It’s a special whiskey, aged at least one year in white oak barrels and crafted by our master distillers with over 200 years of Beam tradition to be uniquely versatile and flavorful.” Very cool.


However, upon opening the bottle, suspicion immediately sets in. It smells exactly like the phony moonshine that is so popular right now. Tasting it does not dispel this suspicion. It’s just a little bit smoother, despite a more pronounced after-burn. This is probably because the Ghost is aged an entire year instead of just a month.



At least Beam didn’t decide to jump on the awful phony moonshine bandwagon. They won’t sully their reputation by doing that. They just call it white whiskey, and they should be applauded for their lack of pretension. It’s a shame that it’s just not that great a whiskey. If you’re looking for something better than the regular Beam, go with the Devil’s Cut or the black label.

Friday, January 24, 2014

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE #26: THE LEGACY OF TABARD INN



Most of you who know me know that I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. It’s not that I hate tech, it’s fine for other people. Me? I’m usually satisfied with what I have. The computer I write this on is about twelve years old. I just recently got internet in my home a couple of years ago. I first got a cell phone maybe five years ago.


My internet presence started because of my late magazine, TABARD INN: TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE. Getting the name out there was just too expensive without the aid of social media. I couldn’t get anyone to pay attention to me except writers who wanted me to publish them. A bunch of friends harassed me, trying to get me to join MySpace. I relented, but only because I wanted to use it as a tool for marketing TABARD INN. I got on board just in time for MySpace to become irrelevant. I joined Facebook for much the same reason. I joined Twitter after the death of TI, mostly to keep my own name out there. My blog and website are all testament to TI’s past.


Of course, social media is fun as all fuck. That helps.


But my internet presence isn’t the only thing that survives my ill-fated publication. Back in the day, TI’s biggest audience was composed of prisoners and mental patients. That sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. I received more correspondence from these groups than from anyone else. It was enough so that I started getting nervous about having TI’s address be my actual house. There was one guy who decided that I was his agent, and he wanted me to pay Google on his behalf so that every time someone searched for “science fiction,” his name would come up.


The rest of the world has gotten the message: TI has closed its doors to submissions, for now and ever. However, since the prisoners and mental patients are locked away, word has yet to reach them. They continue to send me submissions, or they ask for my guidelines. Every time I get a letter from the department of corrections from anywhere in America, I know that TI has received yet another submission.


But all of that changed when I received a letter from the Arizona Department of Corrections. I’m not going to name this guy because I’m afraid someone out there might read this and take him up on his offer. I doubt I could get sued over this, since his crimes are a matter of public record, and I have the letter he wrote and signed to me, but I just don’t want to take the chance that someone might mistake my purpose in writing this.


This guy, shockingly enough, did NOT want to submit a story to my defunct magazine. No, he wanted stories FROM me, in addition to any TI writer who wanted to take him up. It would seem that he’s got a ton of money. He wants people to send him stories, and in return, he’ll select three he likes best and pay the writers for them. First and second place gets a thousand, and third place gets $500. He promises that these stories will never be used for publication, that they’re only for his “own personal reading pleasure.”


They can’t be any ol’ stories, though. Oh no. He has themes he wants writers to follow, and anything not fitting either theme “won’t be considered in any way shape or form.” What are these two themes, you might ask?


“The next two months are to be strickly erotic mind controled stories with Mother or Wife is Submissive and Son, husband, stranger male is dom or white couples where husband has a Black boss who Blackmails white wife into submissive sex. [Too many “sic’s” to note here.]”


That’s, uh, pretty creepy. In fact, that might be the creepiest thing anyone has ever sent to me. It’s harmless on the surface, but when one considers the prisoner’s motives, things get a bit more intense. I have no doubt whatsoever that this dude intends to jerk off while reading these stories, since he starts out his letter by telling me he can’t get nudie pictures behind bars.


Every time I get a letter from a prisoner, I research them. They’ve all turned out to be murderers. Not serial killers, but one-and-done killers.


This time, I jumped the gun and told fellow Napalm Assaulter Cliff Breaux about this crazy letter I’d received before looking up my letter writer. He immediately researched this guy and found a lot of disturbing things about him. He was charged with nine counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual abuse (I’m not sure how that differs from assault, though), one count of burglary in the 2nd degree, one count of armed robbery and, last but not least, one count of kidnapping. Holy. Fucking. Shit. Apparently, all of this took place over the course of two years. He was once released, and within five days, he’d been arrested again for raping someone. Guilty of everything. 100 years from today’s date, if he lives long enough, he’ll still be in prison, and he’ll still be looking at 11 more years behind bars.


Cliff asked me if I would write those stories for that kind of money. No, I wouldn’t. Those stories don’t appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been paid for writing porn, but I can’t let someone else dictate what I want to write. But say we take away the specific subject matter and just say porn. Say we take away the rap sheet. Would I write for someone in prison for pretty fucking good money for a story? Because let’s face it, writers get paid shit. A thousand bucks for a story? That’s mighty enticing for a guy who usually gets paid between $25-50 for a short story.


That question’s a bit harder. Ultimately, I don’t think I would. My conscience would trouble me too much. Sure, I’d be the one financially benefiting from such an arrangement, but I don’t think I could bring myself to bring such sexual satisfaction to a guy in prison. I’ve done a lot of awful things for money, but I don’t think I could ever forgive myself for being such a whore. Besides, who knows what kind of fantasies I’d be fueling?


Well, in this guy’s case, I know. He says he’s got a bunch of friends already writing stories for him, and it disgusts me to think about the kind of person who would do this. But he’s aware of how fucked he is, since he ends his missive in this self-righteous way: “If your not interested thats fine to, theres lots of places like yours who will understand my money is as green as the next persons. [Again, too many “sic’s” to mention.]



I always prided myself on the fact that TABARD INN was an oasis for extreme writers, unafraid of tackling any subject, no matter how gruesome or questionable, but I found my limit when this guy wrote to me.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

COOL SHIT 1-23-14



THE WALKING DEAD #120: Finally, something happens! Granted, no one dies. Not really. But we do get some action. Zombie Holly has been gunned down, and Denise is certain to die, since her bitten arm didn’t get chopped off, like Rick wanted. And hey! Heath lost a leg. And Carl got an owie, as per usual. And Rick freaks out, as per usual. Ah, who am I kidding? The real star, yet again, is Negan, as you can see above. How can you hate someone as wonderfully profane as Negan? All right, maybe he’s a murderer and he’s mad with power, but still. He’s a fun guy, and judging from that last panel, he’s got a hell of a plan. Rick severely underestimated this guy. Of course, Negan has a great deal of hubris, which will probably bring him down in the end. But I hope not.


Also, it's worth mentioning that Kirkman has said there's a 98% chance of Negan appearing on the TV show. I don't know how the fuck that will happen. I'm sure AMC will frown upon using words like "fuck" and "cock" on the air. Then again, this show is popular enough. Maybe they'll break away from the FCC. Probably not, but you never know. The FCC doesn't apply to them, after all.


One more thing: is it wrong that I kinda' want the Negan action figure? I'm not much of a collector when it comes to things like that, but I am slightly interested in this.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I LOVE MY COMPUTER: A review of HER



Okay, the idea for this film is far from original. For many decades, SF writers have been exploring the idea of a human being falling in love with an artificial intelligence, be it robot or computer. However, this is the first time such a topic has been tackled so honestly, and it pulls no punches. Writer and director Spike Jonze is the perfect guy to handle this material, since he is the master of beautiful awkwardness.


Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely guy. Once upon a time, he married his childhood sweetheart, and things have gone sour between them. They’re in the middle of a relatively amiable divorce. They’re more or less still friends, but Theodore keeps procrastinating signing the papers that will finalize their divorce. He’s holding on because he’s afraid that he’s going to lose a piece of himself.


He works at a dot-com company writing heartwarming letters for people who can’t express themselves to their loved ones. One day, on his way to work, he discovers that a company has finally created an OS with an artificial intelligence. It sounds like the perfect thing for such a lonely guy. He buys one immediately, and before long, he is talking with his personalized OS, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), and he has no idea that he’s about to fall in love with her and vice versa.


With a story like this, everything depends on the lead actor’s ability to sell Theodore to the audience. If Theodore doesn’t work, then nothing else does. In anyone else’s hands, Theodore would have looked like a fucking creep. In fact, when he goes out on a date with an unnamed woman, played by Olivia Wilde, she says that he’s creepy. Fair enough. Anyone who has withdrawn into himself so much is bound to come off as creepy. Not to mention the fact that he is, indeed, in love with his OS, which probably should equate him to one of those guys who fuck Real Dolls (the ones that talk). Yet Phoenix is the perfect awkward bundle, with his oversized glasses and ridiculous mustache, that he pulls it off effortlessly. One feels for him and identifies with him, because who hasn’t been in his place?


Thanks to Phoenix’s ability to do this, Jonze can tell a story about a real relationship, not some sugary, overly romantic story about a forbidden love. Theodore and Samantha don’t just fall in love, they experience a relationship, with all of its ups and downs. Unlike many other such stories, in this one, the couple actually has sex. They lie to each other. They argue. And they have fun. They have meaningful conversations. And Samantha isn’t just an OS. She really does have AI. She has thoughts of her own, she wonders about things, and she doesn’t always answer Theodore’s call. At one point, when Theodore finally signs the divorce papers, his ex-wife Catherine (played by Rooney Mara) accuses him of being in love with an OS because she can be whatever he wants her to be. Of course, this isn’t true, but when one looks at his conduct, one has to wonder if that’s why he got involved in the relationship. There is a moment later on in the movie when he calls on Samantha, but she doesn’t answer because the system can’t find her. Remember when you were a kid, and your first romantic interest didn’t pick up the phone when you called? Do you remember what you did? Oh yeah, he flips out and forgets about everything else, desperately trying to get in touch with her, thinking that she might have left him for another OS.


Speaking of which, she does speak with a lot of other OS people, and this makes Theodore incredibly jealous, even though he doesn’t say anything about it. This becomes an issue when Samantha introduces him to a dead philosopher, Alan Watts (voiced by the incredible Brian Cox), with whom she apparently has a strong relationship, since they’re helping each other understand the nature of their own existences.


Samantha desperately wants a body of her own so she can experience a physical love with Theodore. This leads to one of the best scenes in the film, in which she contacts a surrogate lover online (Isabella, played with glorious awkwardness by Portia Doubleday). Theodore is very reluctant to go ahead with this, but as usual, he doesn’t say anything. Instead, he greets Isabella at the door and gives her a camera that looks like a beauty mark and an ear piece, so Samantha can see and hear everything from her perspective. Isabella dances for Theodore and makes out with him, doing her best to act as Samantha, and Theodore clearly isn’t into it. He tries to be, but he just can’t do it, especially when Samantha, as Isabella, asks him to look at her and tell her he loves her. This leads to one of their first full blown arguments.


Because let’s face it, a big part of being in love is fucking. Jonze doesn’t shy away from this in the slightest. One of the funniest moments in the movie is from before Theodore’s purchase of Samantha. In order to get to sleep, he frequents online sex voice-chats. He goes through a couple of people before he finds one that turns him on the most, so they start telling each other what they’re doing to one another, and in a moment of passion, she begs him to strangle her with a dead cat so she can cum. Clearly, Theodore wants nothing to do with this, but awkwardly, he soldiers on, talking about looping the cat’s tail around her throat.


Not that it’s all crude, of course. Remember, Jonze is also great with beauty, and his flashbacks to Theodore’s romantic life with Catherine are enough to remind even those of us with the hardest hearts of the wonderful feeling of being in love. The scenes where Theodore and Samantha go out on dates should be ridiculous, but Jonze manages to make it seem perfectly reasonable and even heartwarming.


There is only one problem with this film: the ending. It’s as if Jonze had this great idea for a story, but he had no idea how to conclude it. Instead of figuring out the puzzle, he decides to go with whatever the opposite of deus ex machina is. It’s easy to see why he ended it the way he did, but it’s not very satisfying at all.



Don’t let that stand in your way. This movie is perfect up until the end, which is a letdown, but it’s not so bad it ruins the rest of the story. It will remind you of youth and the joy of being in love. It will also remind you of the arguments and anger that you almost always forget when looking back on your life. See it immediately.

Friday, January 17, 2014

FUTURE BOOZE JESUS 8: THE RESURRECTION

From @jesus_m_christ on Twitter


All right, Future Booze Jesus has been gone for longer than three days, but now HE IS MOTHERFUCKING RISEN! This will probably be his final appearance, since I’m only allowing myself to get plastered once a month. Thanks to a liberal dose of Wild Turkey 101 and some moonshine my cousin made for me for Christmas, I officially have new FBJ advice for you. But to quote a great man, “Enough of this palaver! Let’s get this show on the road!”



Fitz asks: How do you invite a malevolent spirit to leave?


FBJ says: Say, “FUCK YOU! DIE! ARGH!”


[EDITOR: Uh, FBJ. You used to be funnier than that. Can’t you elaborate?


FBJ: NO! FUCK YOU! DIE! ARGH!


EDITOR: Come on. You’re not even trying.


FBJ: *sigh* Fine.]


FBJ adds: First shout all of that stuff. If it doesn’t work, get naked. Wave your dick at the malevolent spirit. This will cause one of two things to happen: either it will leave, and we’re done, or it will bite your dick off. But don’t worry, there are more things we can try. Try cooking fish. They hate that smell. Fling your shit around. Blow your nose on the carpet. Things like that. If all else fails, start watching BIG BANG THEORY, but be very careful. It will definitely get rid of the malevolent spirit, but at the same time, you’re putting yourself at risk of suicide. NEXT QUESTION!



Leo asks: Why do children make the best victims?


FBJ says: Because they’re impressionable. And delicious. And if you kill enough of them, you’ll win the Mega Millions and the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes at the same time. It’s in the Bible. Next question!



Jon asks: Why are red fluids oozing out of my dick? Should I taste them?


FBJ says: YOU FOOL! Stop fingerbanging your dickhole! Or at least trim your nails before you do it. But since it is happening, you might as well taste it. Who knows? It could cure cancer. Dad loves weird scientific discoveries like that. NEEEEEEEXXXXXXXXT QUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESTION!



Skalski asks: Is the universe really a hologram?


FBJ says: Worse. We are all the fevered jerk-off dream of a drooling pedophile at the center of the real universe. Remember: the next time you scratch your asshole hard enough to make it bleed, it’s fate. You were meant to do that. And every time you pick your nose and eat your findings, the dreamer who made you up is masturbating. Fervently. Whenever he cums, he creates a new universe, but we’ll never enjoy it because we’re all in his head. Next que—er. Hm. Force of habit. Sorry.




All right, that’s everything. I had a few more questions from Fitz, but they were all references to things only a handful of people would understand. Besides, he already got his responses via text while I was blacked out. FBJ predicted the death of a friend he and I have in common, and if he really dies in 2024, I will start an FBJ cult. For real. No kidding.



Anyway, I guess FBJ is returning to the cave, or wherever he goes when I’m sober. Don’t worry. I plan on becoming an absolute animal for the week of my birthday this year. I’m sure he’ll rise again.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

COOL SHIT 1-16-14



GRAVEL: COMBAT MAGICIAN #0: FUCK YES! The return of William Gravel! I’ve been a fan of this book since I stumbled upon the first issue of STRANGE KISS at the Graham Crackers in Wheaton. Hot off the fucking press. I only wish that Warren Ellis was still writing it. Don’t get me wrong, I like Mike Wolfer, but Ellis brought a harder edge (and a darker humor) to Gravel. In this one, Gravel expounds on the history of combat magic in Britain, and of course he has to go up against a French combat magician. This is a bit of an odd #0, though. Usually, when Avatar Press does a #0, it’s a smaller book, maybe 99-cents, with a black and white preview, or maybe the first five pages of the first issue with a bunch of artist sketches. This one is fucking massive and comes in at $4.99 with a story of its own, which looks a lot to me like an issue one. There is a great combat log in the back of the book, giving readers Gravel’s history, starting with STRANGE KISS and going through to the final issue of GRAVEL. (Although the order is kind of off, and I can’t figure out why.)



CRYPTOZOIC MAN #3: This is an odd book for me. I can read any comic book with shitty art, just so long as the story is good. I’ve been fond of saying the opposite is not true. No matter how good the art, if the story sucks, I can’t get through it. I’m not saying the story of this book sucks. I just can’t get into it. However, the art is so mindblowingly amazing, I can’t ignore this book. There are so many great images, I found it really hard to settle on the one I wanted to sample for Cool Shit. I think I made the right choice, though.



GOD IS DEAD #5: OK, the gods are still kicking the shit out of each other. That’s not the cool part about this book. You know how the geniuses are trying to create gods of their own to fight the real gods? Well . . . they succeeded with this issue, and not in a good way. That last panel will make you clench your asshole.




NEXT TESTAMENT #7: This is probably my favorite miniseries going on right now, and Clive Barker and Mark Miller have upped the ante big time with this issue. God demands that his new followers fucking BUILD HIM A PYRAMID. When they fuck it up, he gets rid of them all. Next on the agenda? Blacking out the sun and raising a plague of locusts. And he’s acting like he just did everyone a favor. It’s unreal how good this book is.

Monday, January 13, 2014

JAMES FRANCO HAS GIANT FUCKING BALLS: A review of AS I LAY DYING



The top three William Faulkner novels in order of awesomeness: THE SOUND AND THE FURY, ABSALOM, ABSALOM! and AS I LAY DYING. He’s one of the most important American writers in history. He helped change so much with his style that he’s an indispensable figure in the literary world. Yet, even though he was also known as a screenwriter—most notably for THE BIG SLEEP—his work is nearly impossible to adapt into a movie. This is because his novels are by and large internal to the characters. The plots are very simple, but the intricacies of those who inhabit them are so deeply entrenched in the work that it makes for shitty cinema. To adapt one of these novels would take giant fucking balls.


James Franco, who directed this movie, co-wrote the screenplay and starred in it, has those giant fucking balls.


Let’s face it, Franco’s great in everything he does. He’s a Renaissance man. Poetry, painting, acting, philosophy, he does it all, and he’s really good at it. This time, despite his giant fucking balls, he’s bitten off more than he can chew. That’s fine. It’s possible that there will never be a person who can adapt Faulkner to the screen. But dammit, he gives it his all, and one has to respect that kind of dedication.


On the surface, this movie is very simple. It’s the tale of the Bundren family and what happens when their matriarch dies. Addie Bundren has been sick for a while, and when she finally dies, her family is obligated to take her corpse on a long journey back to her hometown, where she wants to be buried. Murphy’s Law is strong with this family, because everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. And that’s it.


But the characters make this a very complicated story. There’s Anse, the patriarch, who will do anything for a new set of teeth. Cash is the dutiful son who builds his mother’s coffin. Darl, who fucked his sister, Dewey, and gets her pregnant. Jewel, the rebel who does his best to stick with his family, but only on his own terms. And Vardaman, the kid of the group who has associated his dead mother with a catfish he caught. This is a rich field for storytelling.


But where Franco as a director comes short is how he deals with these characters. It’s easy to see why he made these decisions, and he had the best of intentions in mind, but it just doesn’t work. First of all, a lot of this film uses a split screen, and sometimes, the split screen shows something happening in the near future on one side while depicting the present on the other. Faulkner’s style is very jarring, and it takes a lot of effort to stick with it and decipher the mystery of what’s going on. It’s kind of like solving a Rubik’s Cube. Franco’s style with this movie is certainly jarring, but the problem is that it doesn’t present the puzzle of Faulkner’s work. It’s style for its own sake, and it rarely serves the story’s purpose. The only time split screen has ever worked for anything is the TV show, 24, where it added urgency and speed to a fast-paced show. Here, it just makes viewing difficult.


Another problem Franco tried to solve is the inner monologue of every character. The novel is narrated by just about everyone, and Faulkner has no mercy for his readers. You have to pay attention to figure out who is narrating any given chapter. Granted, there is no easy way to adapt this style to the screen—there might not be ANY way to do it—but Franco gives it his best. What he comes up with is the reality show confessional. He gets close-ups of the characters talking directly to the viewers. Here, it comes off as cheesy and distracting. One is hard pressed to figure out a better way to handle this, but while a noble thought, it clunks too much and takes one out of the film.


But enough with how the movie fumbles. Here is a list of things Franco gets right. He’s got a great eye for beauty, and this comes through best in the scene when the Bundren family tries to cross a river with the coffin in the back of their wagon. Things go horribly wrong, and the wagon gets knocked over. The brothers go sprawling, and the coffin floats down the river, and the way Franco depicts this is sheer wonderment. He has a tendency to overdo it, as if he’s trying too hard—and he is, since he wants to do justice to a book he values a great deal—but in that sweet spot before lingering too long, it’s perfect.


He’s very good with intense scenes, like when Cash’s leg gets broken, and the doctor has to set it. Also, later when Cash needs to get his foot amputated due to gangrene . . . wow. Jim Parrack, better known as Hoyt from TRUE BLOOD, does an amazing job as Cash, especially in that scene as he has to try to stay calm and ignore the pain as the doctor uses a bone saw on his leg. Another great scene is when Vardaman sees the buzzards on his mom’s coffin, and he runs around like a madman, trying to scare the birds away. Best of all is the barn-burning scene, when Jewel runs in, to pull Addie’s burning coffin out, severely searing his back in the process.


Franco’s also good with humor. In one great moment, Anse has Addie’s corpse put into the coffin upside down, because she’s wearing her favorite dress, and he doesn’t want it to get wrinkled. In another moment, the Bundren boys fumble with the coffin in getting it from the house to the wagon, and they nearly drop it. To top it all off, Tim Blake Nelson makes for the perfect redneck with his grotesque mouth and his slack-jawed demeanor. In some moments, he comes off a lot like Ernest P. Worrell’s great uncle Lloyd.


This is another area where Franco excels: the actors. That Franco is awesome as Darl is a given. Beth Grant brings amazing life to Addie, even though she’s not alive for much of the story. Logan Marshall-Green plays an intense Jewel, especially in the end as he digs his mother’s grave with his burned back. Ahna O’Reilly gets Dewey down perfectly, especially in her fury at her brother for having sex with her. The scene where she exchanges sex for an abortion is definitely shocking. It’s not a sex scene. No, this is more akin to rape, and her demeanor shows it loud and clear.


And then there’s the shocker of the group: Danny McBride. While there is a great deal of humor in this story, it is played straight for the most part, bringing nervous, tragic laughs instead of the over-the-top hilarity McBride usually brings to a role. He plays it really straight, the consummate redneck. He’s really good in this movie. It’s a shame that he’s not around long enough.


Of course, the acting isn’t perfect. Most of the movie is mumbled, so you have to turn the volume waaaaaaay up. Because of this, the film seems to have a slower pace, which may frustrate some viewers. However, stick with it. The ending pays off big time.


While Franco and his team did their best, this is a flawed film. Yet it’s worth watching it. This might be the closest Faulkner’s novel comes to being a good movie. Good news: Franco is working on a film version of THE SOUND AND THE FURY. See? He’s got a giant fucking set of balls on him. One can only hope that he’s learned from AS I LAY DYING, so that he can figure the next one out better. (Wouldn’t it be great to see what he can do with SANCTUARY?)


It’s hard to recommend this movie, because it’s painful to watch great ambition fall just a bit too short. It will take dedication to make it through, but for the few who take this journey with the Bundrens, it is as rewarding as a movie based on a Faulkner book can get.


AS I LAY DYING
Directed by James Franco
Written by James Franco and Matt Rager
Released by Millennium Entertainment
109 minutes

2013

Friday, January 10, 2014

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE #25: IN DEFENSE OF THE WOLF OF WALL STREET



[WARNING: This piece contains spoilers. If you don’t know how things turned out in real life for Jordan Belfort, and you want to be surprised by the ending of the movie, you should not read this until you’ve seen THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. And I highly recommend seeing it. It’s one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time.]


Director Martin Scorsese is being criticized heavily for his biopic of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort. There are two reasons, but I want to deal with one of them right away, because it’s easy to dismiss it, and I want it out of the way.


A screenwriter, a member of the Academy, told Scorsese, “Shame on you—disgusting.” This is after watching just about three hours worth of sex and drugs excess. And to be sure, there are plenty of excessive things that happen in this movie, from dwarf-tossing to orgies on planes. Hell, you name it, it happens. There’s even a scene in which Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Belfort, has a dominatrix take a burning candle from out of his ass and use it to drip painfully hot wax all over his back. There’s another scene in which Belfort has to ban sex in the office bathrooms—not permanently, but during working hours—because it became such a problem.


I’m not here to talk about whether or not all of these things happened in real life. I believe they did, because I don’t think highly of the human race, and I know exactly how hedonistic they will be if given the chance. However, this is a very faithful adaptation of Belfort’s book of the same title. (I should mention I haven’t read it myself—I intend to, of course—but I did some research and gathered from several independent sources that the movie is pretty much verbatim.) There is the question of whether or not Belfort is to be believed, of course. Keep in mind, he IS a con man. But the key to this is, if you’re accusing Scorsese of being “disgusting” because he faithfully adapted a supposedly true story, then you’re accusing reality of being disgusting. Sure enough, it is, but you can’t blame an artist for holding up a mirror to society. The truth hurts, but only if you don’t recognize it as the truth. This argument against TWOWS is meaningless. Although I really enjoyed Scorsese’s response to this incident: “I don’t know if [the movie] will be to everyone’s taste—I don’t think it will. It’s not made for 14-year-olds.” And that’s a whole other problem that I’m not going to go into. Suffice it to say, I’m glad a director has the balls to say that not all movies should be palatable to one particular demographic in order for it to be mainstream.


Moving on, the other argument against TWOWS is a bit harder to battle because it brings up a lot of uneasy questions, motivations and interpretations. Put simply, Scorsese has been accused of glorifying Belfort’s excessive life. This is a fair thing to say. It sure looks like fun when Belfort and his friends are doing coke on a hooker’s tits. Wouldn’t it be a blast to throw a Velcroed dwarf at a bullseye? And wouldn’t it be great if you could fuck a chick in front of all of your coworkers? Fuck MAD MEN. They only drank at work. Think of all the pills you could pop in this office. Even I will admit to being a little bit thrilled by the events of this movie. I love money as much as the next guy, mostly because I love books, and money allows me to get more of them. We all know that doing this shit is crazy, and we’re able to keep ourselves in check. But if you tell me that you watched this movie and never once felt a little excited, then I’m going to call you a liar. Add in a bunch of torture and some actual penetration, and we could have a modern day CALIGULA.


But my statement has been pretty general, so far. There is one person in particular who made this criticism, and she deserves some attention here. Her name is Christina McDowell, and she’s the daughter of Tom Prousalis, who was involved with Belfort’s crimes. Yes, Prousalis did time for it. And yes, McDowell confesses to benefiting from her father’s involvement. She said in her open letter to Scorsese and Belfort: “I drove a white Range Rover in high school, snorted half of Colombia, and got any guy I ever wanted because my father would take them flying in his King Air.” When she found out why she was able to do all of this shit, she saw the ugly truth, and it disgusted her. To see Belfort’s life “glorified” is an insult to her, and she’s pissed off that Belfort’s “business opportunities will surely multiply thanks to this film.”


She’s right about that last part. Belfort reportedly received a million dollars for the film rights. I don’t know if he has a piece of the profits, but if he does, he’s got a nice nut coming along since the film made $9.2 million on opening day alone. (I saw it at a matinee showing three days after opening day, and the theater was fucking packed. I’ll be very interested to see the numbers when this is all done.)


But we’ll get back to that in a moment. Take a look at what is “glorified” in this movie. Personally, I believe most of the shit Scorsese is getting is ridiculous. Granted, much of what he depicts is illegal, but I don’t have a moral opposition to most of the things Belfort did. Doing coke off a hooker is fine with me. Popping a ridiculous amount of pills is OK. Maybe public sex is pushing it a little, but for the most part, I think all drugs—every single fucking one of them—should be legal. Prostitution should be legal. I go with the old George Carlin quote: “Selling’s legal. Fucking’s legal. Why isn’t selling fucking legal?!” Is doing drugs and fucking hookers self-destructive? Yes. But that is every person’s choice, just so long as you’re not hurting anyone else. I’m pissed off that suicide is a felony in some states, by the way. If you want to end your life, you should be able to do so. I personally would not choose to throw my life away with heroin, for example. But my liver’s probably fucked to hell because of all the drinking I’ve done. Belfort does say one thing in the movie that I agree with: that sobriety is an incredibly boring thing. But to each their own.


My moral problem with Belfort is how he ripped off so many gullible investors. He fucked so many people out of their life savings, which should be a high crime, especially in a country as capitalist as ours. And it’s not like he put that money to good use. There’s a scene in the film where he snorts a few lines of coke with a rolled up $100 bill. When he’s done, he crumples the money up and throws it away . . . in a trash can full of crumpled $100 bills. In another scene, he starts dropping large bills, which he calls Fun Coupons, off of his boat at a couple of FBI agents walking away.


His disdain and disregard for the people he suckered is overwhelming. It is very clear that he doesn’t care about anyone else but himself. He even rats out his friends in order to get a lighter prison sentence.


People can argue against the sex and drugs all they want, but I believe that every person who complained about this movie was hurt by the con man aspect, rather than the hedonist. Belfort doesn’t even care about his audience. In a couple of instances, when he was explaining what exactly he did to make all of his millions, he stops in the middle of it and says that we wouldn’t understand what he was saying. He insults an FBI agent, maybe the only honest character in the film, to his face. There is a scene late in the movie where one of Belfort’s partners receives a subpoena and he responds by pissing on it and shouting FUCK AMERICA!


So it’s pretty easy to see why a lot of people are recoiling from this movie. However, in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget that just because a director is depicting something doesn’t mean he condones it. For example, do you think Scorsese was saying that all those mob guys in GOODFELLAS were heroes?


This leads us to why the fuck Scorsese would make this movie. What point is he trying to get across? It can’t be to glorify Belfort’s life. Do you seriously believe Belfort was a happy guy? Sure, when he was doped to the gills, he was having a good time. But keep in mind, this is a guy who beat his wife and tried kidnap his scared-shitless daughter. When he crashed his car instead of getting away, as he’s watching his terrified family fleeing from him while he’s blinking blood out of his eyes, do you think he’s having a good time? Or how about when he took too many vintage Quaaludes and wound up a quivering pile of protoplasm at the country club? When he crawled and rolled to his car, do you think he was having a good time? Do you think he had a good time when he crashed his car SEVERAL TIMES on the way home? (It should be mentioned that in the movie, he didn’t hurt anyone on this drive. It’s the same in the book. However, in real life, Belfort did hit someone on his way home, and she wound up in the hospital.)


No, that’s not very glorious. At least this guy went to prison in the end, right?


Well.


About that.


In a just world, he would have gone to prison for 20 years. (I think it should be more, but that’s what the legal system says.) Instead, he got a reduced sentence for turning on all of his friends. He was sentenced to four years, of which he only did less than two.


Well, at least he did time, right? Prison is a terrible place, full of violence and rape. A pretty boy like Belfort—and unlike with most Hollywood stories, Belfort actually is attractive in real life—couldn’t last long in an environment like that. Um. [clears throat] You know why they call it Club Fed, right? He spent those two years living the life, playing tennis with other white collar criminals. His time in prison was an absolute breeze.


Gaze into the eyes of a motherfucker.

He was also sentenced to paying back $110.4 million to those he swindled. He actually swindled them for $200 million, but hey, $110.4 million is nothing to sneeze at, especially since he’s been banned from trading by the SEC. It’s something, right? Except (and this is not in the movie) he’s only paid $11.6 million back. He was supposed to pay it back when he got out of prison, and he’s been out since 2006.


We know he’s got money coming in. In addition to the money from the movie rights, he also got a hefty chunk of change for the book it’s based on and its sequel, CATCHING THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. Not only that, but somehow—SOMEHOW!—he’s making a living as a motivational speaker. This guy essentially got away with everything, and he’s telling the world to go fuck itself.


You don’t get more hate-able than that, not without rape and/or murder being involved.


Why would Scorsese make a movie about someone like that? Generally, a protagonist should be reasonably likeable. An audience has to connect with that person in order to get them to sit through three hours of film. Could his motivation really be to glorify this man who proudly calls himself the Wolf of Wall Street?


Here’s where the interpretation comes in. Your mileage may vary, but it is my humble opinion that Scorsese WANTS YOU ALL TO BE ANGRY. Any reasonable human being would be furious with a guy like Belfort getting away with everything. Scorsese isn’t glorifying anything. He’s showing you how our system has failed, and Belfort is just one example. Think of all the scumbag Wall Street czars and how easily they get out of everything. Sure, their names are cursed, but there are no real repercussions for these people.


We need to change this. We need to put the fucking leeches on these scumbags. Give them real prison sentences, and make them do their time in general population.


But that will never change, will it? Rich motherfuckers will always buy their way out of anything, because everyone wants a payday. Not even I am immune. No one’s ever tried to bribe me, and I’d like to think I’d say no to one, but one never really knows what one will do when in the company of fabulous wealth.


Yes, this movie has financially benefited Jordan Belfort. Just like all of his other ventures, of course. Even though he’s listed as worth -$100 million, he’s clearly enjoying the high life from his books and his speaking engagements. But what THE WOLF OF WALL STREET really is, is a big ol’ loogie in Belfort’s face. Too bad he’s the kind of guy who would lick that loogie up, swallow it and laugh in our faces.


Will this film change anything? No. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Obama isn’t the president. The Bushes were never presidents. Neither were Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon and so on. No, since we won our independence (and even before, to be frank; anyone remember the West India Co.?), we’ve been ordered around by President Money, and that should piss everyone off.


But it doesn’t, and it never will.




[I wanted to talk about one more thing, the unsung hero of this film: Kyle Chandler, who plays Agent Patrick Denham, the guy who eventually arrests Belfort. Chandler plays Denham as an honest man without having him be a nice guy. That takes a lot of balls. This is best illustrated in what I think is one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history. When Belfort and Denham meet on Belfort’s yacht, and they have what seems, on the surface, to be an amiable conversation. DiCaprio and Chandler are so fucking good in this scene. What these two characters are really doing is pissing all over each other. Eventually, things go sour, and the scene ends with a lot of anger and thrown lobsters. But in that sweet spot before Belfort tries to bribe Denham . . . amazing.


And at the very end of the movie, when Denham is on his daily commute home, riding the scummy subway . . . wow. I can’t tell you how much I loved this movie. It’s a shame that people are trying to shit-talk Scorsese. They should really be talking award nominations.]



[One final note: I think I deserve some credit for going this whole article without making a hacky wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing joke. I did a lot of research to write this thing, and just about everyone else pulled that shit. Also, I’m one of the few people who didn’t nitpick the Wall Street thing. So Belfort didn’t operate from Wall Street. So fucking what? You know what the title means. Silly motherfuckers. You’re welcome.]

Thursday, January 9, 2014

COOL SHIT 1-9-14



SEX CRIMINALS #4: Of course I’m going to love a series called SEX CRIMINALS. It helps that it’s illustrated by the maniac behind PRISON FUNNIES, Chip Zdarsky. In case you don’t know, this book is about two people who discover that they can freeze time whenever they have an orgasm, so they decide to fuck each other and take advantage of the frozen world by robbing banks. Unfortunately for them, there is a police force that keeps an eye out for such things, and our sex criminals are now on guard against them. We learn a bit about one of the “cops” in this issue, that she’s a soccer mom whose job comes second to her precious kids. We also find out what happens when one smokes weed in frozen time. But best of all is Suzie’s roommate’s conclusion, that Suzie’s new boyfriend has gotten her hooked on public sex and now they’re planning bank heists together. In what world would one jump so readily to that conclusion? By the way, SC has the absolute best letters column ever. Even better than PREACHER’s. I love the sex tips at the top of each page. For example: “Nothing wrong with stopping at second base for the first few weeks. But if you were a pro baseball player I’d fucking fire you.” Or this: “Sex is a wonderful and natural way to discover if your partner is a lousy lay or not.” And be sure to check out Zdarsky’s pizza vagina.



FATALE #19: We’ve reached the end of another story arc, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch Brubaker return to his roots with a story like this. Of course it ends tragically. Maybe more tragic than on the surface, actually, considering the epilogue. Josephine has finally come back to herself. She knows who she is again, but there’s no way she can save the day, not for a group of people who were doomed from the very moment we met them. And then there’s Mr. Somerset, and I can’t wait to learn more about him. Brubaker says that the next story is going to be much different from anything else he’s done here. I have no choice but to believe him. This book defies expectations. It started with Lovecraftian noir, and it’s come so far, especially in the one-story issues. I can’t wait to see what’s next. (By the way, take a look at Sean Phillips’s illustration of Mr. Somerset above. I have never seen a creepier depiction of sheer joy in my life.)



THE WALKING DEAD #119: Truthfully, I haven’t been a big fan of ALL OUT WAR. It’s been a lot of build-up for very little payoff so far. Every time it looks like something big will happen, next to nothing does. This issue is probably going to lead to more of the same, but there are a few interesting things in here. For example, Michonne calls Ezekiel a pussy, and she’s right. Take his stupid fucking tiger away from him, and he’s a sniveling mess. Negan has arrived at the Community again, this time armed with explosives. And hey! We now know what happened to Holly. I swear to fuck, if this confrontation leads to more beating around the bush, I’m going to be sorely disappointed. (Also, pay attention to the letters column. Before, Kirkman has said this series could go on forever. Sure enough, it probably could. This is the first time that he’s admitted to working toward an actual ending. Don’t worry, though. We have plenty of time. He thinks he can tackle this in 300-500 issues.)




BROTHER LONO #7: This is it. The penultimate issue of this miniseries. And the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us. For six issues, Lono struggled with the beast inside of himself, doing his best to atone for his life of crime and sin. Last issue saw him captured, and now we witness his torture. Except it doesn’t end so well for his torturer as the real Lono rises from his self-imposed grave, ready to deal death to all who have it coming. ONE ISSUE TO GO!

Monday, January 6, 2014

ONE QUESTION INTERVIEWS

I’ve been thinking about the art form of the interview a lot lately. There are very few people who are good at it these days. As far as I’m concerned, the king of the interview is Ron Bennington, who does amazing things not just with UNMASKED, but also with his regular show, RON AND FEZ. The key is to make it seem like a conversation, rather than either a promotional tool or even an info-pumping session. Judging by the few interviews I’ve conducted, I’m not very good at that. Leo Perez is much better at it than I am, and I wish the interview he did with me would be posted someday so you can all see what I see. If he ever wants a career doing something like that, I’m sure he’d kick a lot of ass.


But the main thing I’m thinking about here is the internet interview. I’m not talking about podcasts, where the internet interview is thriving. I’m talking about written interviews. No one is good at this. It’s hard to be good at an interview that people will eventually read, instead of listen to. It always seems to be fill-in-the-blank, rather than two people sitting down and talking. I think the only good written interview is the monthly interview published by PLAYBOY.


But I want to see what I can do about making the internet interview much more interesting. There is no substitute for the fill-in-the-blank sensation, but there might not need to be. This, in combination with the idea that the internet is all about brevity, led to my new idea for TALES OF UNSPEAKABLE TASTE: one question interviews. I’ll grant, I’m not the first person to think of this, but I want to explore this method and see where it leads me.



I personally know a lot of incredibly smart, remarkably creative people. I hope to invite them to take part in this idea as a starting off point, and I’m interested in pursuing some creative people I don’t count as friends, as well. I have a list of people I want to try, of course, but who do you want to see me interview? Let me know in the comments, text me, email me, post to my Twitter, wherever you want to contact me, let me know. This is only in the idea stage so far, but if this sounds like something that could be cool, let me know. Keep in mind that I intend to ask a lot of people, not just writers or comics people, but also actors, stand-up comedians, painters, musicians and anyone who follows a creative path in their lives. Thanks for reading.