Saturday, December 31, 2016


Here is something I've never said to ANYONE before. It's not because it's a deep, dark secret. It's just because I've never really thought about it before. But it's true.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow things. I mean, living things. My mom got me my first garden, and I royally fucked it up. There was supposed to be corn, tomato and something else. I don't remember. Guess what: I fucked it up. Maybe it was pumpkin. MAYBE.

Fast forward to when I was growing up with my grandparents. When I had an actual backyard instead of a few pots in the kitchen. I tried to grow shit again to no avail. Never mind that I hate veggies, fruits, etc. I wanted to grow something. To give something life.

And I failed at every turn.

Before I was ten I had a dozen gardens, and they all failed. I followed instructions to the T. Maybe I just didn't have enough love in my heart for this shit to grow. I don't know. But it never did.

Before I became a teenager I gave up. I never tried to grow anything ever again. I couldn't even make a Chia pet grow. Nothing botanical would grow under my brown thumb.

When I got my job as a conference operator, the person who got me my job gave me a fish as a cube decoration. Except my fish died in two weeks. So she gave me a plant, and I figured this thing would be dead in no time.

Surprise! It survived my 10 years as a conference operator/tech support dude. It only started dying when I lost that job. Then: I got my current job as a repair guy at a telecom company, and now it's thriving. I don't know how that happened. Maybe it's just because I was told a spider plant is nearly impossible to kill.

I certainly didn't grow it.

The last thing I tried to grow was a Venus fly trap. I was told that you could be a grade A fuck up, and you could still grow this fucking thing. Well, I guess not. This thing didn't even sprout.

The people who owned my place before me knew how to grow flowers so well that every year they bloom without prompting, and they've been doing that for decades. Hell, sometimes the atavistic nature of the land will grow a corn stalk without knowing any better.

But once. JUST ONCE. I'd like to grow something on my own.

This is the final GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS of the year. Tomorrow I will post my favorite GF of the year. Happy New Year's, everyone.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Here's another dream for you. Some of you may remember that a few years back I suffered from an abscess in a very uncomfortable place: an inch away from my scrotum. Some might even recall that I wrote a story about it for MONDO BIZARRO, in which one of the characters has an abscess that leads to a fantasy world with monsters fighting each other.

I had a dream last night in which the abscess recurred. That's a horrible sensation. I remember very vividly the process of healing from that thing, and it was not good. It involved being perforated several times by a surgeon, a lot of squeezing and a gauze strip that hung out of my wound, draining all the poison out of me. Something I had to clean myself three times a day.

But in my dream I didn't have to worry too much about the abscess itself. No, it decided to evacuate itself by other means. And yes, the warring monsters from the other side needed to come through me in my dream. Instead of charging through the surgical slit in the fold of my thigh, they came out two other ways.

In my dream I woke up to a horrible grinding sensation in my asshole. I rushed to the ER, and they told me that the monsters were trying to emerge from my butt, but their wooden weapons kept getting shattered, sending grievous splinters into my anus, making it look like a playground of old. Meaning, it was lined with wood chips. I screamed as the doctors took care to extract every piece they could, covered with bloody shit, sometimes with horrible strands of goo connecting them to my butt.

But wait! There's more! As soon as the monsters knew they couldn't get through my abscess or asshole, they found another way out. I howled with pain as I watched my dick contort, spinning and whirring like Jim Carey in THE MASK. The head of my dick exploded as they tried to come through. They couldn't because their wooden weapons snapped against my dickhole. Now I had a glans made of apple sauce with grim crimson streaks through it like veins.

It was one of the most harrowing nightmares I've had in a while.

I don't usually use these Goodnight, Fuckers to sell something, but if you want to feel like your asshole has been shredded and salted, followed by the sensation of your dickhead exploding and being threaded through with splinters . . . well. Buy MONDO BIZARRO.

In the meantime I'm going to cry thinking about my nightmare pain.

One more Goodnight, Fuckers of the year. Tomorrow. On New Year's Eve I'll post my favorite of the year, and then I'll be going on sabbatical.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Last night I had a dream about something that could never have happened, but it felt so real. I was supposed to take photos for a family wedding. I'm not sure which side of my family because members from both sides were there, which is highly unlikely to happen. My dad was there, and so was my step-father. Never mind that neither of them are no longer with us. Even if they were still alive, there is no way they would have attended a social gathering like this together.

I got the weird impression that my step-father was marrying someone new, even though he died before my mom did. Soon that impression became, well, I guess as close to reality as you can get in a dream.

I was running around, trying to get shots of everyone having a good time. There was this one guy who kept prancing about with a stapler, slapping it down on people multiple times. He got me once, and it sucked. It probably sucked worse for him, since he'd stapled both of his eyes shut and was doing this at random. Blind. Still, he was laughing. It must have been fun for him.

And then it happened. I saw that we had a celebrity in our midst. None other than Michael Rooker was partying with us, absolutely hammered out of his mind. He looked exactly like this, but he smiled a lot more:

Then came the big moment. My step-father was to kiss his new bride. I got in there as close as possible to capture the moment, and just as I snapped the picture Michael Rooker got in front of them. Not purposefully. It was an accident. The moment passed, and my step-father glared up at him. Only then did Rooker realize what he'd done.

"I'm sorry, man. I didn't see you there. Let me back up so you can have your moment."

My step-father grimaced. "Fuck you, Michael Rooker."

Rooker got a laugh out of that. When he realized how hopeless the situation was, he threw back both arms in a look-what-we-have-here motion. Grinning, he said, "Hey, man. At least you got to meet Michael Rooker."

Everyone cheered, and my step-father closed his eyes, willing the world to disappear. Rooker tapped him jovially on the chest a few times, laughing, but my step-father wouldn't respond. I've never seen him look more defeated in my entire life.

And then I woke up.

Monday, December 26, 2016


No offense to any of the other local comic book shops, but my go-to place is Unicorn in Villa Park. I've been going there for ages, back when I was a kid getting G.I. Joe and Transformers books and then again when I discovered Evil Ernie, Preacher and Hitman. I thought I knew the place pretty well, but every once in a while I get a surprise out of the place.

I live across the street in Elmhurst from the Prairie Path. It used to be a railroad (which, from what I understand, my grandfather worked on when he was a kid), but all that remains is a gravel path and a few abandoned train stations. One of them is the old Elmhurst station which is by the water fountain on York. It's boarded up, but it's still an attraction, especially on warm summer nights when the kids are dipping their hands in the fountain and young lovers cast their penny wishes into the gushing waters. The cobwebs shine in the eaves, highlighted by the ever-changing colors from the fountain, ancient life lurking in the forgotten corners of a monument from the not-so-distant past.

Keep moving west and you'll reach the Villa Park station, which is a bit more of an attraction. They turned it into a museum, and it's actually pretty cool to look around inside. I once went in with a friend, and we saw a bunch of old York High yearbooks from the 'Seventies. I found my dad in one of them, and in the very same book she found her uncle. Small world.

There is a parking lot there, and across from it is an attorney's office. I believe that it used to be the site of a general store in the pioneer days of Villa Park. It's now owned by the brother of my comics guy, who has his shop next door.

I was in there a couple of weekends ago, and much to my delight there was a fellow customer in there--a first time customer, no less--looking for the greatest Punisher stories of all time. Naturally my guy led him to the Garth Ennis MAX series, which contains the most adult, violent, vicious, hardstories in the Punisher's history. And then my guy, who knows my taste very well, asked me for my opinion to bolster this customer's confidence, and I delivered in spades. Good luck getting me to shut up about a comics series I love once I get started.

And then the conversation took an odd turn. My guy, and I don't know how comfortable he'd be having his name mentioned here, so I'll keep calling him "my guy," then confided to us that he'd bought his first comic book in this very establishment. I was shocked because I thought he was the first and only owner of Unicorn. Well, he is. Was this place a comic book shop before? Because that seemed highly unlikely. There wasn't a direct market when he was a kid.

And then came his magical answer, one that people my age and younger will never get to experience in our lives. Maybe you're familiar with smoke shops. They didn't just sell tobacco products. They sold everything, even books and such. And every single one of them had at least one comic book rack where you could meet the superheroes of old for the first time, and maybe some of the pulp stars that came before them like Doc Savage, the Shadow, etc.

My guy pointed to the corner by the door, where now he has a row of Marvel comics, and said that there was a spinner rack over there, and that's where he picked up the book. Both me and the customer looked reverently into that corner, trying to imagine a time gone by. Trying to imagine my guy as a kid buying the very thing that would send him down the path to his life's passion.

Time comes around. The shop that you buy your first passion could very well become your shop someday, where you will sell the next generation's first passion. The circle of time continues.

There are no more smoke shops. While time moves on, the past is never far behind. All it takes is a photograph. A film. A memory. It comes back alive if only for a moment in the imagination.

This time will never come again, but it is never too far behind that you can't remember it and possibly pass it on.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


When I was a kid, and I mean a teeny-tiny kid, my family was fairly well off. Upper middle class in the early 'Eighties. I'd place us somewhere in the upper lower class now. I have a roof over my head, but it's slowly falling apart (every time it rains, I get nervous because my ceiling has a bunch of soft spots which I have covered with duct tape). My electrical system is breaking down. I can't afford to repair the broken garage door. I can't even fix the plumbing. But back then times were different. Back then we could actually have those awesome Christmas parties like you see only in movies these days. We would not have looked out of place at Kevin McCallister's house.

One of our traditions was for my grandfather to break out the projector and play films of Christmases past, when it was just him, Grandma, my mom and my aunt. Some of these 8 mm films were shot in Arizona, where they all lived for a while, but quite a few were shot around Chicago and then in Elmhurst, at the home we inhabited at the time. It was a grand place. Two stories, an attic, a basement and a backyard big enough to play baseball in. It was weird seeing my mom as a kid and teenager. Parents never grew up. They were born fully grown, and they had full dominion over their kids. The very idea that my grandfather wanted to keep track of these memories was kind of odd, too. He only ever kept track of Christmas. Never any other moments. That was left up to Grandma and a Kodiak camera. Or sometimes a Polaroid. Back then she smoked Golden Lights. She had a leather pouch for her cigarettes and her lighter. She hasn't smoked in decades, which makes this fact even crazier.

Christmas belonged to Gramps, though. He relished recording every moment with his video camera. This tradition continued with my arrival on the scene, as well as my cousin's birth. When Gramps showed those on this roll-down screen, it always fascinated us. That's footage of us when we didn't even know who we were! There was a kind of magic to that.

After that, Gramps, wearing his rainbow colored shirt that said, over and over, WORLD'S GREATEST GRANDPA, would screen a few other short films. We had PUSS-N-BOOTS and a couple of Three Stooges shorts. It was great. I remember laughing at each reel as if it was the first time I'd ever seen it.

About a decade or so ago, I was scrounging around in the basement when I uncovered not just the old reels of film, but also the projector. The screen was nowhere to be found, unfortunately, but we had a white wall and plenty of space to watch. First the ones of my mom and aunt in their childhood, whether under the hot Arizona sun or in the frosty wasteland of Chicago. Then out to the suburbs. To them growing up. To me and my cousin as children. Building snowmen. Unwrapping presents. It was a window in time.

And then the projector melted down the film, rendering the machine unusable. It was nice to get that one last look into a past that will be forgotten when I'm no longer here. When my cousin is no longer here.

I spent Christmas today with the few remaining. My cousin lives off in Colorado now, so it was Gramps, Grandma, my aunt and another cousin. No one recorded anything. But I remember talking with my grandfather, and I have a sneaking suspicion this is his last Christmas. He can't walk anymore. He's confined to the living room, where he spends his time watching TV and doing not much else. He no longer shaves or cuts his hair. And he's been like that so long that he no longer knows the layout of his own home. He's forgotten quite a lot. He still knows my name, but he's uncertain about a lot of other stuff.

Maybe someday I can figure out a way to clean out that burnt film, maybe replace the bulb, if they make 'em anymore. Maybe just put the old reels on DVD, or something. In my youth I was convinced that I was going to die at the age of 40. That's an article for another day. I've recently decided that I hope I can squeeze out at least another decade. Maybe two. But no more than that. Getting old sucks. I've seen it first hand. My grandfather will be 90 in a few weeks. I don't ever want to reach that age.

But I keep thinking back to the time of those 8 mm reels, and I miss it. That was before I had any brothers, meaning that was before my mom met the creature who--eh, forget it. I've gone on about that before. Suffice it to say, the John Bruni in those films was someone who had yet to get the shit kicked out of him by the world, and everyone around him was young and alive and full of hope.

To quote a great series of books, "O, Discordia!"

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Not too long ago I went to the Country House with a dear friend of mine. In case you don't know me very well, the Country House in Clarendon Hills is home to the greatest cheeseburger known to humanity. If you love cheeseburgers, then you need to go there immediately. I don't care if you're currently in Siberia. Make the pilgrimage. You'll love it.

At the end of our meal I went to the bathroom, mostly because I eat like a slob and needed to clean my fingers off. I happened to look up into the mirror, and I was kind of surprised by the face I saw. The lights in the bathroom are very bright, so I could see every wrinkle and gray hair on my head. I looked fucking old. That's the first time I noticed that. I've made comments about gray hair in my beard this year, but this is the first time I saw that I was no longer 19 years old.

There is one annoying gray hair near the top of my head. It pisses me off because every time I see it I think I've got something stuck in my hair. But the others? I don't mind them so much. From what I can tell, aside from that one irritating hair, I'm going to go gray like old-time Nick Fury. That suits me fine.

I'm OK with getting old, but not too old. That's a topic for another day. Maybe for my 40th birthday I'll write a piece on that. Which, by the way, isn't too far off. In 2017 I will be 39.

Only a handful of people I know will recognize that as familiar. I'll probably get deeper into it someday. But for now . . . goodnight, fuckers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


A horrible thought occurred to me. What if we get to midnight at the end of New Year's Eve, and Keith Richards survives? And we're all like:

And then on January 1, 2017, he dies in the grimmest, most horrifying way. And 2017 is standing over the corpse with his weapons, grinning. Happy because he's the coldest motherfucker in history. "Sorry guys. I just wanted to set the tone. You're all fucked now."

Welcome to the end times. Sweet dreams, fuckers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Just to warn you, spoilers will be flying all over this mutha. If you haven't seen the movie yet, do NOT continue to read.

If you're one of those assholes who is complaining about the CGI resurrection of Grand Moff Tarkin, you can go fuck yourself. We just got ourselves a new Peter Cushing movie, and he's been dead for ages. The tech isn't 100%, but it's really fucking good. You can barely tell the difference. Remember when Tales from the Crypt brought Bogie back for that one episode? We've come a long way, and I think we're finally ready to bring back other big screen greats. MORE JOHN WAYNE MOVIES, PLEASE!

And the young CGI Leia? More of that, please. MORE CLINT EASTWOOD AS A YOUNG MAN MOVIES, PLEASE!

Aside from that, I had a bit of difficulty getting into this movie, but when it clicked, it really fucking clicked. For a while I was kind of cruising on it being the Star Wars Guardians of the Galaxy (minus the classic rock), and then something happened that made me realize something horrible. When K-2SO got killed, I suddenly realized that the stakes were a lot higher for our ragtag team of rebels. In the back of my mind I realized that, holy shit. No one is making it out of this story alive. This is about sacrifice for the greater good. There was a part of my brain that said no, they don't have the balls to do this. Disney can't possibly let this happen. There needs to be a sequel for marketing purposes. You can't sell variant toys for characters who were in one movie and then died horribly.

And then other characters started dying. And then there was the end of the battle. Jyn and Cassian kneeling on the beach, desperately clutching each other as their fiery doom came closer and closer and . . . and killed them. That was a powerful moment. The heroes all fucking die. Granted, the hero of this story doesn't go crazy with grief and kill a bunch of children and get chopped to pieces by his father figure and left to burn to death in lava, but still. That's a pretty fucking dark ending.

But the answer is hope. I don't have a lot of that. I'm a cynical piece of shit. If I didn't know that Rogue One's efforts actually made a difference, I probably would have expressed my doubts.

Don't forget about Mads Mikkelsen, whose Galen had one of the most heroic moments in the movie. He's the guy who ratted out the Death Star to the rebels, but the Empire decides that it's one of the engineers because Galen is too good of an actor. They send a goon squad to assassinate the scientists behind the Death Star . . . and Galen jumps in front of them all to save them. He's the one they want. He could have kept his mouth shut, and a half-dozen dudes would have been gunned down, but he would have still been alive. And he sacrificed himself only to watch them all get murdered anyway. That's pretty fucking scary.

Best of all, I highly suspect that this movie exists solely to shut pedantic fanboys the fuck up. One of the big things that Star Wars superfans like to rant about is how easy it was to blow up the Death Star. This movie explains that away in a wonderful way. Hey guys. The Death Star was supposed to be bombed out of existence. If the Empire wants to go home again, it's going to have to do so with a shovel. Galen built the Death Star under duress. Hence the Death Star-explody-hack. Now stop fuckin' complaining.

So yeah. I loved the movie. I saw someone joking about making ROGUE TWO starring the many Bothans who died to get the Death Star plans. There is a watch-it-all-burn part of me that kind of wants to see that. But no. We got what we needed out of ROGUE ONE. Now I look forward to seeing episode eight, which will hopefully have nothing to do with a Death Star or anything Death Star-ish. I've had my fill. Let's move on. Say what you will about the prequels; at least they didn't have Death Stars . . .

PS: It was good to finally see Darth Vader's crib. Very Sauron of him.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Recently I've been thinking a lot about my own mortality. I'm only 38, and those of us who are not yet 40 think we're invincible. We're not. I decided to finally make up my literary estate, and I wrote down all of my passwords and PIN codes, etc. for whoever has to tie my life together after my death. I needed witnesses I trusted, so I went down to Romeoville today to get those signatures.

On my way down I heard, on my XM radio, Tool's "Aenema," which I have not heard for a long time. It's primarily aimed at LA dipshits, dependent on Bill Hicks's idea of Arizona Bay. I think it can be applied to all of America, though. Hear me out.

When I first heard Trump won the presidential election this year, the only thing I could think of was this: HOLY SHIT, I WAS WRONG. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME SINCE '88 THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED. In other words, I was not concerned with the consequences. I was just angry that I was wrong. And then I saw more election results, and that was pretty fucking scary. Trump got the executive branch. And the motherfucker also got the legislative branch. He's a pussy hair away from getting the judicial branch. I wasn't concerned with him being president because of the system of checks and balances. Now that he's almost got all branches, THERE IS NO SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES. That is UNAMERICAN. If this is what Trump is happy with, then he wants to DESTROY AMERICA. I hate the Electoral College, but the only reason it exists is to prevent a charismatic psychopath from winning the presidency.

Whoops! It sure fucked up this time. Trump is the EXACT person the Electoral College exists to prevent from ruling this country.

I'm reading a book by Upton Sinclair called A WORLD TO WIN. You might know him better for THE JUNGLE. This one, though, is about an American spy in WWII before Pearl Harbor who travels the world and collects intel on people like Hess and Hitler for FDR. While reading the book--which was written by a socialist American who witnessed the war--I was surprised by how many Nazis there were in America who supported Hitler.

Fast forward to now. These Nazis are all too real. They're not afraid to conceal themselves. I guess that's good, so we know who they are, but at the same time I see human garbage attacking people who aren't white. People who are in the LGBT community. People who believe in a god who isn't Christian, or, like me, no god at all. And Trump isn't telling these people to stop. If he had ANY interest in freedom, he would have dressed these cocksuckers down publicly. He hasn't, though. He's basking in the glory of people doing shit in his name. He's jerking off into his own mouth because there isn't a single person who can stop him. He loves the taste of his own cum. He can't get enough of it. Because of that, the rest of us must kneel before Zod, er, Trump.

That was when I knew that there was no hope with this new presidency. Hearing these stories turned up my rage level to an intensity I have not felt since I was a child being abused by my stepfather. I'm more or less a pacifist, but I have a white hot rage against those who would threaten the lives of people who are not white, not male and are not Christians. I hate it when people are denied their rights. Prepare yourselves, my fellow Americans. We're headed for a fascist regime. Fifty years from now everyone else will be talking about how scary 2017 America was for people who weren't white, male and rich.

But listening to "Aenema" made me think a little. Maybe we had this coming. Maybe we need this. As Americans, we've all been walking, talking pieces of human shit for a long time. This is a wake up call. We wrought this among ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, this will help us think about the world a lot more.

I am almost a nihilist. Nothing we do matters because in the future our sun will eat up our orbit and destroy our planet. If we haven't found a way off Earth by then, we will be nothing. The only thing that holds me back is that we have each other. We have the present. We should treat each other with respect because this is all we have. Why create problems? Let's just make this a great place to survive until the inevitable specter of death takes us all? Be kind to each other. Why shit in someone else's cereal bowl? This is a shitty life. Let's try to make it as pleasant as possible.

But we're all shit. Humanity is a cesspool, and Trump's election has proven it to a T.

Maynard James Keenan was talking about LA culture. The specifics of that song don't apply here, though. The general feeling, however, does.

Fuck. This sucks. But . . . well . . . this election proves one thing to me. It sucks, but, well.

Maybe Tool is right. "The only way to fix it is to flush it all away." Burn this society to the ground and start with something new. Fuck the right wing fuckheads. Fuck the left wing fuckfaces. Fuck everyone. Let's do something new. Something different. Something based on love instead of hate or fear. LET'S DESTROY AMERICA AND BUILD SOMETHING NEW.

I wish that wasn't true. I'm feeling pretty down about it. I would love to hear other--REASONABLE--solutions, but I think that total destruction is the only thing that will work. Let me know what you think."

[PS: I think you all secretly agree with this opinion; otherwise, there would be no interest in THE WALKING DEAD. Please: prove me wrong. That's all I want. Hope is much better than destruction.]