Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Internet Jesus Commands It

At the risk of annoying redundancy, I'd like to restate my devotion to Warren Ellis in general, and Freakangels in particular. Read it. It's free. It's great. You're reading this blather telling you to read it, so time must not be an issue for you.*2

Also, my fellow Workshed Studio creator*3, Alan Evans, has a free webcomic as well. No, it's not about post-apocalyptic, drowned London. It's about female wrestlers working and living together while breaking into the business. Who can't get behind that?*4 Great stuff from Albone; definitely for fans of wrestling and action. And I'll be writing a story for one of the characters at some point in the future.*5

Rival Angels

Here, look at this pretty widget device for Freakangels. OoooOOOooohhh.*6

* Which has never scared me.

*2 Reading interweb blather is the number three drain on workplace productivity, right after phone banking and orgies.

*3 Comic book artists and writers call themselves creators because of a universal God complex. Universal God Complex is a top-shelf theme park in Salt Lake City, UT.

*4 'That', not 'them'. It's not that kind of comic.

*5 Don't let that stop you from reading Rival Angels in the interim.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Awesome - Jack Pendarvis

Okay. All right. Good. Nice. Cool. None of these words could adequately describe the latest book from Jack Pendarvis (could have used ‘adequate’ in that first group of words). Luckily, he’s provided us fellow typists with the perfect pull quote in the form of his title, Awesome.

That’s definitely appreciated, because although I spend a good fifty percent of my day marveling at my own writing skills*, I’ve rarely been able to describe what is good about funny books. I can say, “this book is funny”, “hilarious”, “gut-busting”, “urine-extracting (I know, eww)”. Sure, I could say those things, but how do you, the prospective reader, know if I have any sense to judge ‘funny’? You don’t, so let’s just stop thinking that way. I don’t doubt you, and this blogging*2 thing is a two-way street.

To this point, Jack Pendarvis has published two short story collections; The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure and Your Body Is Changing. While both are ridiculously funny (trust me, remember?), I’d wondered what a book-length story would look like. It’s better than I could have hoped, and Sex Devil*3 set the bar astronomically high.

Awesome is the story of Awesome, a giant man in every way. Sure, he’s a big fella, but it’s not all brawn with him. He’s also the world’s foremost expert in robot creation, time travel, whale songs, effortless seduction and Alpine bells. I could list more of his CV*4, but we’re limited to the space the internet affords us.

Okay, maybe this is a cow bell, but you get the idea.

Suffice to say, Awesome seems to have it all. But, as is so often the case with our betters, Awesome still has a, to paraphrase Extreme*5, “hole in his heart that can only be filled by you”. Actually, not ‘you’, per se, but Glorious Jones. Who’s Glorious Jones? Now I feel like I’m doing your reading for you, but okay, I’ll bite. Glorious Jones is the special lady who sends Awesome on a globe-spanning, time traveling odyssey in search of the rarest objects to prove his devotion and win her hand in marriage (in a religion created by Awesome).

"If you don't like what you see here, get the funk out."

Whether hanging out with hay-stacking California hippies, their deadly empiricist enemies, his faulty robot Jimmy or rival giant Goliath Brigadoon*6, Awesome proves to be the most compelling fictional character since The Mighty Thor. Sure, he may not have that cool winged Viking helmet, but a snazzy brown derby will do in a pinch.*7

"Verily, my helm is rad!"

The final litmus test for just how funny this book is; it had me laughing out loud on the bus. Anyone who’s taken the bus knows that laughing out loud on the bus is the surest way to being spoken to on the bus, and no sane person wants that. Still, I was willing to suffer the slings and arrows of captive audience conversation just to keep reading more of Awesome.

As I write this, Awesome is still 74 days away from publication (edit: Now it's even less, but I can't be bothered to do the math.). Don’t fret, stay calm. Well, at least stop clawing at your eyes, you’ll need them. You can preorder and keep yourself occupied with Mr. Pendarvis’s other books and his impressively updated blog in the meantime.*8

*Not really. I’m entirely accepting of my writing skills. And conceited.

*2 I believe my computer is from the 1990s as it does not recognize the term ‘blogging’. ‘Bogging’ was the suggestion, so perhaps it’s from the 1890s.

*3 The opening story from Mysterious Secret…, and the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

*4 CV: Short for curriculum vitae, a fancy way of saying resume. Wow, this is a condescending footnote. And it’s not helped by the reference to the editorial ‘we’re’ following ‘CV’.

*5 They won a Grammy………probably.

*6 Were I having a boy in ten weeks time, this name would have rocketed to the top of the list. Respect and power await a ‘Goliath Brigadoon’.

*7 Yes, Thor’s enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, is ultra-badass. No, Awesome doesn’t have an enchanted hammer. I believe I’ve made my case.

*8 I’ll be rereading my galley, complete with Mr. Mxyzptlk sketch. Stang!*9

*9’Stang’ is universal slang meant to express happiness or refer to money. Read the blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Press Is Debatable

Moderation of the Democratic debate last night could not have been worse if it were carried out by Rush Limbaugh (sans painkillers)

"I find the cigar smoke masks the stench of lunacy. Did you know that lunacy smells like oral flatulence?"

and the resurrected asshole of Jerry Falwell*.

"Even I'm glad I'm dead. Also, I did know that thing about oral flatulence."

Hyperbole? Nope. Here's why in easily digestible 'bullet' points (that was for you, Heston. R.I.P., you magnificent, ape-fighting bastard):

"If only this really was my penis!"

- I am in firm agreement with myself that at least a half-hour of the two hours allotted to the debate was spent on questions about Barack Obama's associations and patriotism (or implied lack thereof). This was John McCain's wet dream made reality. Stephanopolous makes quite the fluffer*2.

- If you can't out and out attack a candidate for 'angry black man syndrome', why not just attack his pastor? Why not just hammer away at a question that's been asked and answered repeatedly for the last month? Why not employ all of the Republican tactics used against Senator Clinton and her family during the Clinton presidency? Impugn by association, rephrase questions until the questioned stumbles over words, drum up the appearance of impropriety when the questioned backs away from the very association you call into question (I wonder if we can work in a spurious allegation of murder?). Even if the press decried the Republicans for doing so ten years ago, times have changed. In my lifetime, news has become a ratings hungry infotainment industry; vapid and shallow, clinging to manufactured scandal and salacious sound bites.

- That knowledge didn't just come to me last night, but what seemed new to me was the disproportionate application of the hounds to Obama's heels. After at least thirty minutes of Bitter/Lapel/Pastor Who Makes Insensitive and True CommentsGate, Hilary was treated to a lone question regarding her statements concerning a 'diplomatic mission' to Bosnia. When asked by a 'man on the street' about her lies regarding the trip, she replied that after rereading her memoir, she was ready to admit that she has been recently describing sniper fire that wasn't there and a tense military escort that didn't happen. Clinton's response to the prospective voter was in so many words, "I lied, but I hope you don't hold it against me." So, she admitted lying about her personal experience for political gain.*3 What crackerjack Woodward & Bernsteinesque indictment of bold-faced political underhandedness did the team of Gibson and Stephanopolous bust out on her, 'O.G. Edward R. Murrow style'?*4 Silence. I know people (press included) have been conditioned to accept lying from their elected officials as part of the process, but that is just what needs to change if we want good leadership. I'm sick of being in on the joke of empty promises and political unreliability, but last night, ABC News just kept laughing.

- To the question of not showing patriotism by sporting a nifty lapel pin (undoubtedly made in China); let's make sure that our elected officials know that their actions, no matter how atrocious (Patriot Act, illegal wiretapping, waterboarding, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition, suspension of civil rights, exploitation of xenophobia, backdoor drafts aka stop-loss programs, monetary handjobs to their private sector cronies), can be fast-tracked by virtue of how sincerely they affix a trinket to their politician uniform. Better yet, let's require that they wear Star-Spangled jumpsuits, Evel Knievel style. Logic follows that if they're wearing the right bling, they must have the best interests of the country in mind and at heart. Why didn't Senator Clinton wear her pin? Why didn't Stephanopolous or Gibson ask her about it?

- I'll tell you why. Before this primary began, Hilary Clinton was anointed Democratic candidate for the presidency. The press largely complied with and parroted this claim. Then, things got interesting. People, not committees, not lobbyists, not ex-presidents eager for more time in the public eye, started voicing their desire to hear more than one set of ideas coming from the left. Obama and John Edwards appeared in the national consciousness; there was an alternative to old school Democratic gridlock politics. So, the press decided the story was going to be Obama/Clinton. Edwards lost crucial coverage due to his being the most white male-ish candidate (despite the feeling of many that he was the most willing to kick corrupt ass until his foot fell off, and then would come the punching). Suddenly, Clinton got pissy that Obama was being given a free pass by the press, cried about it (literally) and shamed the media into advocating for the continued viability of her candidacy. The press fell for a classic Bush strategy; when in trouble, blame the media for bias and watch them jerk back the other way on the Overcompensation Express*5. It worked. Hilary was back in it enough to justify her ego-driven, 'I'm president or fuck the party and the country' power worship. The press felt important. They felt that through reporting or not reporting, asking or not asking, doing their jobs or not doing their jobs, they could be active participants in the politics of this country. The Fox News model was downright prescient.

- The difference this time, is that the press as a whole doesn't seem to be driven by ideology or association (except for Stephanopolous), but by the need to be a player rather than an observer. I have little doubt that if their situations were reversed, Clinton would be weathering questions as ridiculous, inane and irrelevant to her fitness as president as Obama is right now. Is it a desire to champion the underdog that motivates the press? As callous as it may seem, the underdog's welfare is not the providence of the press. The press exists to report the truth, regardless of who it helps or harms. Anything short of that is irresponsible to their charge and invalidating to their credibility. Executed correctly, this standard will benefit the underdog more often than not, because governmental transparency guards against abuse of power. The benefit to the underdog is a fantastic byproduct of real reporting.

- This is why bitter people cling to guns and religion, or in my case comic books and cynicism.

* Pictures of Jerry Falwell's asshole, pre- or postmortem are ridiculously hard to come by (that is not a pun). Come on people, we have the Freedom of Information Act for a reason!

*2 The person responsible for 'coaching' a porn star to performance size.

*3 At least she didn't work the 'That depends on what you mean by lying about a lie. Isn't that the truth?' angle. Bill hasn't taught her all of his tricks, apparently.

*4 "Goodnight and good luck, trick-ass biatches."

*5 The shittiest rollercoaster ride in Medialand. A close second? The Scaremongering Local News Teaser That Implies You're Going To Die Unless You Hear The Information They Have, But They'll Wait Until After Primetime To Tell You About It.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I don't care if you don't like comics. I don't care if you have dial-up that causes snails to guffaw. I don't care if someone just lit your mustache on fire. I don't care if you dropped your nitroglycerin pill into your Lipton Iced Tea and feel a gripper coming on. I just don't care. You must read this! Right away! No excuses. That is all.

Warren Ellis/Paul Duffield - Freakangels

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wright Or Wrong: This Time, It's Political

Fast heading to top billing on my ’Don’t Give A Fuck About This Anymore’ marquee? Barack Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Is he anti-American? Is he pro-Black Separatist? Is he a Skrull?*

"SUPER Skrull! Not just regular Skrull. Sorry, I get a little defensive sometimes."

Who gives a fuck?! Not I, as the previous paragraph should have indicated.

First off, as a self-identified atheist it makes me uncomfortable that any and all candidates for political office tout their ’good Christianity’. "I’m agin’ it", as the prospectors say. From my perspective, a candidate who says he or she is active in their church is at best like telling me that they enjoy romance novels (distasteful but inconsequential), and at worst like telling me that they might pull off their face and *POP* reveal Pat Robertson’s*2 gremlin mug.

"What’s ’taters, Precious? What’s ’taters?"

So, who a candidate chooses as their inoculation against anti-religious bias (it exists, and it’s just as ugly as any other bias) means less than zero to me. I understand that to make it in American politics you’ve got to appeal to likely voters (old folks, zealots, rich folks who want to stay rich but seem compassionate by tithing (these people need an acronym); bonus points for the double parenthetical; eat that, English majors!), but can’t we just leave it at the comfortably vague "I’m a person of deep personal faith."? Sure, that faith could turn out to be faith in Cthulhu, The Dweller In The Darkness*3, but once again, this makes no appreciable difference to me. Besides, if the candidate was really worshipping Cthulhu, we’d vote for him as a result of the mind control.


Why all the furor over Wright? He said some stuff along the lines of "America killed more in Hiroshima and Nagasaki than were killed on 9/11". I’m sorry; is this not true? He’s said some stuff along the lines of "black Americans have been marginalized and persecuted by the government". Waitaminute………that’s true too. He’s said some stuff along the lines of "9/11 woke people up to the hatred toward America that is festering around the world due to imperialist actions". Well, surely we already knew about the hatred out there for America………and what? Ignored it? Good strategy. We should blame Barack Obama because his pastor made accurate points?

Before I get carried away coming to the aid of a man of the cloth, let’s re-state the premise here. I don’t care who Barack Obama prays with. It matters the same as whether he wears an American flag pin, puts his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, or double dips his Fritos Scoops*4. Window dressing. Unimportant.

I’m more concerned that any candidate I’d vote for as a progressive liberal feels the need to attend a church at all; chances are, the pastor/reverend/priest/minister/rabbi/preacher/houngan would more likely than not oppose equal protection and opportunity under the law for gay and lesbian couples and a woman’s right to reproductive choice. Both of these are key liberal beachheads, and we’re willing to cede them to some degree whenever we indicate preference for a candidate who subscribes to institutionalized religion. But, somehow, no one on the left needs to clarify their support of those types of ’leaders’.

Also, since Hilary*5 seems to like citing Obama’s connection to Wright………

"Thanks for your support during this whole Lewinsky thing, Reverend Wright. Rest assured, when my wife runs for president and cites her partnership in policy crafting and diplomacy during my term, this will not come back to bite her on her privileged ass in any way."

* Shapechanging aliens out to conquer Earth. Read a comic book already!

*2 Shapechanging alien out to conquer Earth. Also likes Jesus; hates Hugo Chavez.

*3 Mind-controlling Great Old One out to conquer Earth. Read some Lovecraft already!

*4 Salty corn chips out to conquer Earth………with delicious results.

*5 Clinton. "Democratic" Senator just to the left of Joe "McCain/Lieberman" Lieberman.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How Awesome Is Jack Pendarvis

My coworker just waved an advance copy of the upcoming Jack Pendarvis book, Awesome, in my face.


So, uh………where’s my copy?

No, I don’t think you understand. Where’s my copy?!



Jack Pendarvis is so funny and such a good read that I’m considering; just considering mind you, punching and kicking said coworker until he agrees to hand over *his* copy. I don’t want to feel this way, but damn it, I do. Even the dulcet tones of Nick Drake playing on my iTunes can’t stop this jealous rage. See what you’ve driven me to, Pendarvis?! Joe’s a good guy, and he doesn’t deserve a beatin’ just on account of my urge to read your latest book months before it comes out.

Do the right thing, Pendarvis. Send me a galley*. Please. Remember, if it weren’t for me, you would never have known about the Metal Men series*2.

* Industry bigwig talk meaning advance copy of a book before it is published. Fancy, no? *2 Hinting at a prior correspondence serves to bolster this writer’s reputation as a hobnobber with literary types.