Sep 19, 2016

Short Story Publication in Pulp Metal Magazine - A Mister and his Destiny

My short story, A Mister and his Destiny, was published by the fine folks at Pulp Metal Magazine

The story is gripping literary tale of late 20th century turmoil that spans across generations of one family set against.... 

Who am I kidding here?! It's a kick-ass vigilante crime story that I'm really excited for.

You can check it out HERE

Jul 26, 2016

Another 2016 Election Post -- AKA Oh God Please Let it Stop

My one (hopefully) post on all this political BS.

Look, let's be honest, Bernie would be a one-term, ineffective President. And the course correct from the right following a one-term, so-called "socialist" presidency would be frightening. Carter led to Reagan (who got mini assist from 'ol Teddy Kennedy, but anyway, I'm trying to be fair here). Who or what would Sanders lead to? Probably the evil robot from Robocop.

And look, I like the guy. He earned my vote. I think his heart is in the right place and I think he's as honest as you can get from someone who wins elections for a living. But do I think that expecting some sort of liberal revolution to be followed by lefty paradise to come from a guy who went to, and has stayed in, congress a year before Nirvana's Nevermind came out? If I may speak Internet for a second here: GTFO.

My prediction -- Here's what history will show the lasting legacy of the Sanders campaign to be: he's changed the face of the national candidates who the dems will offer for a long-time. Just as how Cheetos-fingers has on the right. And there's no going back from this. It almost happened with Dean in '04, but we're in outsider territory now and we're going to be here for a generation, I wager. In any other election, Sanders would be standing on the stage closer to the wings than even Kucinich did. Instead, that guy, the lefty at the far end of the stage, almost beat a Clinton machine that was running unopposed a year ago. The message was sent.

On the other side, Mr. Punchable is like in the horror movie when you think the main villain is dead and then they jump out of nowhere for one last scare before going away. The post-Dubya standard operating procedure for the right is gone as well.

The lesson of 2016 is one that's been brewing since elections became television entertainment (looking at you, JFK): it's a cult of personality. Issues largely don't matter. We've all kind of pretended they have, but they don't. Character does. And not character in the integrity sense. I mean character in the Tony Soprano sense: someone who is compelling to watch on TV and makes people want to tune in next week and elicits feelings.

When Hillary barely wins -- and she will, because as "liberal" as the media is presented to be, the 24/7 media is all about that paper, the dollar bills, y'all, and nothing delivers ratings better than race to the finish. BONUS: if Orange Paint Face starts to pull ahead, you watch how quickly Gary Johnson gets in at least one debate.

What I'm curious about is who comes next? Who's the Dems version of Trump? George Clooney (kind of serious)? And who's the Repubs better version of Trump? Bruce Willis (not as serious.... but still)?

Jul 20, 2016

Poem - An Afternoon Metal Medley in Purgatory

Drawn by the author in only about 90 seconds!!!
An Afternoon Metal Medley in Purgatory – 7.20.16

I’m never more thankful for owning
a complete catalog of Slayer’s full discography
as I am when the neighbors
have their friends and their offspring
over for a pool party.

I don’t have many hard rules in life
but if I’m going to hear shrieks
to the heavens
someone better be banging
the hell out of a high hat. 

Jul 13, 2016

Poem - The First Shots Fired in The Great Culture War of ’91

The First Shots Fired in The Great Culture War of ’91 – 7.11.16
I first got really involved in political activism 
when I was thirteen. It was a Friday night,
or it could have been a Saturday evening.
My friend and I rode our bikes downtown
to the theater across the street
from the beach
for an eight o’clock show.

There were around a dozen people,
mainly women and children, at the bottom
of the escalator protesting the screening
of an NC-17 film.
That wasn’t the one we
were going to see,
but we changed our cinematic plans and
decided to sneak into it.
They had signs with stupid slogans
and they just stood in the way of progress and
of getting to the theater.
We walked through them and as we began
our ascent up the escalator I realized that this
was one of those moments where history
thrusts itself upon you and one must
decide if they will duck under it
or ride the wave of the moment.
Heroes are made in these times.
Halfway up, I could no longer keep my thoughts within
and enlisted myself among the ranks
of the freedom fighters.
I yelled out “Porn rules” as loud as I could
and flipped off the protesters.
We ran up the escalator and into the theater.
We failed to sneak in thanks to
the fascist checking IDs at the theater door.
Years later I saw the movie in an experimental film class in college.
It was awful.

Jul 11, 2016

Book Review - Los Angeles Noir

If I had to be forced into a full star rating system, I would begrudgingly round up Los Angeles Noir to three-stars. But this is my blog, so we're knocking that down to a 2.5

I've read three of the Noir series from Akashic Books (LA, Vegas, OC) and the collections are very up and down as far as the story quality goes. The LA entry into the series is no exception, which is disappointing when you consider how often the city of Angels has proven to be a fine home for many classic noir tales.

There's a lot of hit and miss here, leaning more towards the miss. Without naming names, I suspect some of the stories were selected for the collection based on the author's bio versus the quality of the story.

I think a better editorial focus on what noir means to them would strongly help in collections like this. Even thematically, there's not a lot linking the stories together beyond basic geography. A lot of these stories could have taken place anywhere, in any large metropolitan city in the US.

But let's focus on the good, shall we? The jewel of this collection, with no doubt, is The Method by Janet Fitch, set in the Los Feliz section of LA. It's got everything you want from a noir tale set in LA: Hollywood old and new, sex, murder, and deception. It's worth the price of admission. I just wish the story had a stronger supporting cast around it in the collection.

Other highlights include: Mulholland Drive by Michael Connelly (set in... you guessed it), and Over Thirty by Christopher Rice (West Hollywood).

Los Angeles Noir, edited by Denise Hamilton - 2.5 out of 5 times that Raymond Chandler rolled over in his grave.

Jun 28, 2016

Green Lantern 84 Comic Book Review - "Peril in Plastic"

Not sure what the idiot in the corner is checking out...
Green Lantern 84. From July 1971. At this point, Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams are just over a year into their character defining run (for both Greens) on Green Lantern and only one issue away from one of the defining books of the bronze age of comics. I picked up this book up on the cheap and it's a hell of an issue.   

Right away, I love this cover. In particular how the photograph is woven into the artwork. It doesn't feel gimmicky like other covers where the cover art is thrown on top of a full-page background photograph. It's not overdone here and the picture is part of the overall artwork and makes the cover that much more dynamic.

"People are like cattle. Give them just enough comfort to satisfy them, and anything that threatens them or they think threatens them... they attack!"

Strong words from this issue's sonofabitch villain, Black Hand, as he delivers his villain's lecture to a tied up and ring-less Green Lantern deep in the bowels of Piper's Dell, a strange company town of sorts ran by a strongman, charismatic corporate leader type. And reference the quote above, feel free to insert your own current political interpretation to it.

Piper's Dell is a plastic manufacturing town run by its Mayor and Doctor-in-Residence, Wilbur Palm. An odd combination of duties for one man, but's convenient for the plot. You see, there's no way that, Green Lantern, galactic space cop, would be slumming and get caught up in the goings on of some plastic generation company town that may or may not have some mind control stuff going on (more on that in a bit). Leave that mess for guys with gadgets and no powers, am I right?

Ah, but you see, Hal Jordan comes into this story happier than he's ever been. He's been reunited with Carol Ferris and their three week love affair in is full bloom. They're horseback riding, swimming, and doing some serious lip-locking. Carol, in what is surely a bummer for her, is paralyzed from the waist down. There's hope in sight though as Carol has heard of some eccentric doctor in a place called Piper's Dell who might just be able to cure her.

You would think that with Hal's connection to the Justice League that he might know of a doctor with perhaps a healthier reputation that he could hook her up with. Obviously, Clark and Diana would be useless when searching out for a referral, but surely, Bruce must have a guy, or a girl... hey it's the seventies, baby, we got women doctors. No doubt, Barry has someone to keep his legs in working order.

But no, the only option here to cure Carol's paralysis is this Doctor Palm kook in Piper's Dell. And yeah, Hal, this is something she has to do on her own, so why don't you go check in with your buddy Oliver, okay?

Oliver, for his part, is broke and living in some shit hole in the ghetto. He doesn't seem to mind while turtleneck wearing Hal decides that the area is "cruddy." Way to judge and be all defensive, Mister I-fight-aliens-and-am-basically-a-low-rent-Superman. I suppose poverty and poor people scare even the toughest of fellas? The two green bros debate their tastes in music - Oliver is a rock and roll kinda guy while Hal prefers those classic Dixieland jams. What a dork.

Not so much in the domestic bliss department.
BREAKING NEWS: The dams at Piper's Dell have broke and the whole city might be submerged in water. Sorry, Oliver, Hal's got to give you a Peace Out! and save his girl... and a city full of people too. And, no, Oliver, this is a job for the dudes who can fly. So, you know, you just keep being you.

That actually works out well for Oliver who is caught up in a domestic dilemma of his own. A hot date with Black Canary turns cold when Oliver throws chili on a drunk who ogled himself a little too much Canary. Oliver can't figure out why she isn't dying with admiration when he defended her honor. He still manages to call her a cab and figures the hell the with it all.Like his buddy Hal, Oliver Queen can't wrap his mind around these modern, liberated women. Why don't they just want the men to help them and solve all of their problems for them?! Without a damsel in distress, what ever is a hero to do?

Meanwhile at Piper's Dell, Green Lantern saves the day and gets some face time with Mayor/Doctor Palm and gets a tour of the all-plastic town. A town that really stinks. Literally. A plastic, smog-filled, hole in the ground. Far worse than the purported slums that Green Arrow calls home. Green Lantern gets a press conference for the residents of Piper's Dell, but finds no journalists, only cameras. "No need for living folks! This's a modern ceremony, fella! We got the TV to pipe the doings all over Piper's Dell--" says Doctor/Mayor Palm.

The whole notion of Piper's Dell being a communist, state-run nightmare is pretty clear, and to make it worse, Palm plans to make the world a great big Piper's Dell. And of course, Mayor Palm isn't really the Mayor. He's not even a doctor. He's the aforementioned sonofabitch from earlier, Black Hand in disguise, who set up the whole thing: Carol's cure, the dams breaking, even the press conference, as a trap to lure Green Lantern. 

He captures Green Lantern and uses the press to manipulate the residents of Piper's Dell into turning on the hero who just saved them. There's some solid sci-fi stuff going on here with the idea of how powerful the media is and quickly people are able to be manipulated. We're treading on some Phillip K. Dick grounds here. 

We get it, Ollie.
Long story short though, Green Arrow discovers that his bro is in trouble and lends a helping hand. Punches are thrown, and Black Hand is captured in melted plastic. A fitting end for that bastard.

The epilogue finds Hal and Carol back out enjoying a day in the city with their third wheel Oliver tagging along. Carol and Hal muse on the morons of Piper's Dell and how they're either crazy, greedy, or less responsible than the rest of the regular folks of the world. 

And then Oliver chimes in to remind us that maybe we're all a little fucked. 

Thanks, buzzkiller.

Jun 7, 2016

2016 California Primary - Zartan or Destro

Most evil, for sure!
In good conscious I just can't support #ImwithDestro. Look, Zartan has been a registered Drednok until this election, and I get it... he's not the party insider that Destro is, but Zartan has been aligned with COBRA when it counts. Always. After a great run by Cobra Commander, I just think you have to vote your heart and that Zartan is the best choice.

The criticism of Destro having the same mindset of a GI Joe is something that should give you pause. Plus, with him, you get the baggage of The Baroness alongside him, and we all know what that means.

We all wish that Serpentor or Storm-Shadow would run, but when it comes down to it, those Cobra Troopers didn't die so that we can hold our nose and vote for the lesser of two evils.
Always vote most evil, even if it means you don't win in the long run.