Archive for the 'Toilet Reading' Category

03
Jan
15

New Year’s Readsolutions! Kurt Busiek’s Superman and Wolverine The Best There Is DECONSTRUCTED

First things first: Happy New Year!

As is obvious from my rigorous dedication to my craft – groundbreaking, conspiracy shattering, journalistic blogging which resonates like God’s Breath through 10 dimensions once read –  I’m the type triple-A-A-Alpha male who gets shit done. I set goals, handily beat those goals into submission, and briefly think about stealing those goals’ women before assessing them as Sub-Elevens and moving on.

This blog, and its blogger, are not so much about success as the literal translation of success – all its savory smells, pulsing tactility and liquid luxury – into the written word. Within these pages the simplest haiku transcends a mere verbatim description of the constant, grinding semi-sexual success you probably have only seen on TV or in your deepest comatose wet dreams. And I must, out of civic obligation, reserve essays and more scholarly think pieces to the “Saved but Unpublished Vaults.” Our world’s current disaster preparedness programs couldn’t handle the explosive forces of so many minds blown simultaneously. The dinosaurs, having mastered interstellar colonization, thought they could handle this type of stuff. All that’s left to show for that nonsense is a bunch of useless fossil fuels which, in reality, are just the transmogrified remains of their shocked and frightened souls.

You need welder’s goggles to read this blog.

And to write it I need balls the size of Jupiter with the density of neutron stars, a saddle forged of gleaming adamantium with sabre-toothed tiger fur padding, and a pair of spurs sculpted from Mt. Fuckin’ Everest in the mysterious shape of BLAZING NEURONS.

Check, check and check-fucking-mate.

So, as you can imagine, it’s a rare moment when I take time out of my busy schedule crushing life’s obstacles to really sit down and search my soul for possible shortcomings.  But even Superman needed a day job to force him to occasionally keep it real. He really didn’t need the gig as a cover – that was just comic book gobbledygook. What he really needed was the soulless grind of a 9 to 5 to interrupt his life’s journey to the top of Mount Par-Excellence. Walking into the office bathroom Monday morning, discovering Jimmy Olsen’s explosive, oil-painted homage to the weekend’s debauchery splattered across the linoleum prison-walls will make the greatest pause to reflect. Perry White pissed all over the toilet paper roll, Lois dumped her used tampons in the break room garbage can. X-Ray vision can not save you from these sordid surprises, and you don’t need super hearing to hear those wails of quiet desperation.

That’s what The Greats realize. Challenges hone our skills. And since the majority of our peers offer little more than window dressing in our personal, perpetual parade routes, we must challenge ourselves. That’s what makes The Greats the The Greats. That, and generations of unfettered Atlantean Eugenics.

New Year’s Resolutions are perfect for this. They only come around once a year, which is just about the frequency we ubermensch need to fiddle with our master plans. Plus, you create your own rules. Let’s be honest, who else is capable of doing a better job of creating a challenge for me? The barista at Starbucks? She never even realized that “dolphin” tattoo on her inner wrist is just a thinly disguise spurting penis, how’s she going to assess my glory?

Long story short – time is money – my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 is to read and review more comic books. Perfectly reasonable and plausible, given all I’ve just said. Yes, yes!

SUPERMAN: Back in Action (TPB) – Kurt Busiek and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. 2 out of 5 stars.

I’ve read and reviewed Busiek’s works before and it’s always been a pleasure. His style and substance is both wholly unique and rewarding. He’s a top notch story teller with a master’s touch in developing characters and theme. To quote The Bard “He doth polish yon turds.”

It’s more of the same with this sparse trade paperback. Sparse. Trade paperback. SPARSE. Busiek takes what should be a turd – Earth invaded by intergalactic Auctioneer who steals landmarks and superheroes with the standard impunity while spitting satirical jargon and interacting with slapstick cohorts – and turns it into a tropical smoothie. It’s not his standard gourmet meal but, hey, it’s pallatable, and it’s decent filler material which rises above the mediocrity it was destined for.

Busiek’s trademark inner monologues, realistic dialogues and sense of introspection add a touch of depth to what should have been a bland rock-em-sock-em frag fest. There wasn’t much space, not enough pages, to turn this into a proper Busiek masterpiece, but he salvages (pun!) what he can, and gets a high enough price for it.

As a standalone story, this arc would deserve a 3 out of 5 star rating as it borders just a notch above average and is ultimately enjoyable. However, the decision to make this into a deluxe TPB, and then pad out the length of the book with throwaway vintage Superman work (while gorgeous, it certainly not essential here, thematically or logically) was a poor move. The value for the dollar just isn’t here at all, and it’s existence is unjustified. Rent it from the library, borrow it from the internet, but don’t buy this book unless you’re an absolute completionist.

WOLVERINE: The Best There Is – The Complete Series (TPB) – Charlie Huston and Juan Jose Ryp. 1 out of 5 stars.

Wow, what a s###er this is! But in a way, I guess I’m OK with it.

At least this dredged offal has the courtesy to barf all over the reader in the first few pages. It saved me a couple hours of reading, and thankfully the book was a free rental (shout out to the wifey on the surprise gift, I owe you one!). It’s just garbage man. The publishers could have discovered a 1980’s preteen metal head’s collection of peachy-folder artwork and classroom doodles and released them interchangeably. This stuff reminds me of when a lot of comics were just DUMB stuff produced to fill slots on metal grocery racks and nothing more.  I’ve had a better time reading the backs of straight to VHS horror film boxes than this. Check out some photos:

wolverine the best there is

As grown men who wrote and drew this panel, the authors have much to be ashamed of…

wolverine the best there is

This beautiful piece gathers the Holy Trinity of shitty juvenilia in one panel: Sophisticated Takes on Alcohol Consumption, Severed Goblin Head and Swarm of Flesh Eating Mice-Rats. 

My back issues of Deadworld and Gore Shreik are ashamed for me.

Advertisements
14
Oct
08

Children, Augusten Burroughs. Similiarly overrated.

This is just a small update. Mostly, I’m concerned about my October archive being empty when this month scrolls by. I had a few ideas for posts lately, but with school, work and hustlin’ baby, I haven’t had much time for other pursuits.

My wife, the most awesome lady in the world, is having her 30thbirthday in a little over a week. I’ve promised her “30 days of Wendy” witha gift each day. Unfortunately, I don’t see her (working over night) enough to have made this a reality. However, there’s a large stack of presents waiting to be opened sitting on our coffee table. She’s even thrown a festive tablecloth on it, and named it the “Birthday Table”. It’s kind of like a Christmas tree, with less of a fire risk. I say “less”, because I have latent telekinetic powers, kind of like that girl in Firestarter. They tend to “flare up” if I’m separated from my computer for too long. That’s my story…

This weekend was pretty hectic. The end of the year is coming, and I found out I had two “Floating Holidays” to take, so I opted for Yom Kippur (bless you Jesus) and Columbus Day (bless you Jesus). It worked out to a four day weekend, which was nice. People seemed to sense I’d be around though, and we ended up babysitting our 2 year old niece while her parents “played hide and seek”… well that’s what we told her. Normally she’s a sweetheart, but I guess she was grumpy that night. Long story short, it made us question if we wanted kids.

Following that, I had to run around town picking up computer parts from The Thieves Guild in order to fix my friend’s computer. Dying harddrive. That’s still an ongoing project, only in that I’m lazy and would rather play KOL. It’ll get fixed eventually. He brought his kids over when he dropped it off, and it was the uppercut after the jab that was dealing with our niece. Kids… sigh.

Other than that, it’s been business as usual. I finished a book of essays by Augusten Burroughs titled “Possible Side Effects”, which wasn’t that good. I associate Burroughs with a former co-worker of my wife, who is pretty crazy, pretty addicted and pretty sad. It’s a fitting association, as she loves the author. I can see why, and it’s discouraging. To be sure, I watched “Running With Scissors”. It was also pretty horrible.

28
Aug
08

frogs eat things part 2

And so the beasts had grown from tadpoles hatched in the back woods cistern to rubbery mounds of devouring instinct. The dragonfly didn’t know that the window sill was their territory; he wasn’t fluent in gang graffiti. His wings beat like paper lanterns in a storm, although he refused to fly. I smoked a cigarette and watched the frog perched a foot away as he cocked his head sideways. Part of him was terrified by me, his frogmouthed overlord. Part of him craved the liquid silicon insides of the hammering dragonfly. I gave him my blessing and turned away. In this moment of privacy, he made his decision. Thudding off the glass, dragonfly dangling as sacrificial dinner from his mouth, bounding away. Now hidden in the shadow, I could hear him chewing and smell the rust of blood. I had gotten a nose bleed in my excitement.

Jeweler’s rendering of this horrific scene

14
Aug
08

cod and chuck klosterman: both baked [2/2]

In an earlier post, which can now be found in WordPress’s “classic posts hall of fame”, I discussed Cod – capital C. The fish, not the Cape. For Capes, I refer the reader to “Capes, Superman”, an excellent Wikipedia article on the subject. No, no, the cod, the fish, the bland yet aromatic hunk of flakes and breading that recently seduced my wife and me, and entered us into a Menage A Trois. Menage A Trout? I can barely manage my own mental stability! HAHAHA.

The title of that, and this post, referred to Chuck Klosterman. He of many hats. Stoner sportsman. Expositive non-fiction/fiction mashup writer. A Burroughs who writes about Britney Spears’s vagina, and her place on Gene Simmon’s “To-do list” of cunniliguist conquests. Compelling stuff.

Was titling these posts merely a grab for more pageviews. A spamming of the tag system? A disgusting attempt to trick and draw in ignorant readers to my web of jarbarfing? Partially. But it was admittedly not as flagrant as tagging my post “naked girls”. I have, and will continue, to do this. Houston rap forever!

You see kids, when I’m eating baked cod, I like to read the works of a baked cad. Klosterman fits the bill. And as such, I just finished reading his book “Killing Yourself To Live”, which is by his own admission 85 percent true, and 85 percent padding. I’m worn out and not motivated enough to give a scene by scene rundown of the book. In fact, I enjoyed his first book “Fargo Rock City” much more. I found it in the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble. The bargain bin continues to be one of the greatest sources of inspiration in my life. My furniture is exclusively from the “dumpster collection”.

“Fargo Rock City”, a collection of essays about heavy metal, its legitimacy as bastard heir to the 1980’s Kingdom of Rock, and the Knights in Simple Service of loving that Kingdom is a fun read. It was my introduction to Chuckie K and his apparently world-famous take on pop culture. I immediately ordered his other three books and cherished the thought of flying through them. Unfortunately, “Killing Yourself To Live” kind of… hangs itself. It’s not a bad book, and it may very well be better written than his first. But the subject matter is more personal, less “tongue in cheek”, more “hand on chin”. I put the book down after thoroughly not really enjoying the first half. Recently I finished it. Between those two periods of time, I’ve moved, bought a new car, and done a whole lot of growing. I wouldn’t say I’ve done any incredible emotional maturity in the interim. I haven’t tripped on mushrooms or discovered a whole new worldview. But for some reason, the second time around this book was more palpable. I may re-read it just because I do sincerely enjoy and admire Klosterman’s writing, even if sometimes he throws in a few too many asides. Asides always punctuated by “ANYWAY”.

So that’s out of the way. The book is off the porch, and in its stead is Philip Lapote’s “Totally, Tenderly, Tragically”, a book that appears to be a pretty damn serious collection of film criticism. I’m only a few essays in, but thus far Lapote’s juvenalia (Is the book arranged chronologically? Shouldn’t have skipped the introduction!) alone makes me realize just how out of my league. Not only in knowledge of cinema, which is heart-breakingly apparent, but essaying in general. Composition. Clarity of thought. Coherence.

It’s going to be a long night…

07
Jul
08

Wired: Renewed

Cleaning out my email, I stumbled across a renewal notice for Wired magazine. That’s kind of ironic. I guess I’ve had this subscription for a year already, and I only just started digging into these back issues. It’s good toilet reading for sure. It also goes well with cigarettes smoked on the porch. So yeah, I renewed. 7 bucks. Cheap!

Wired, as a reading endeavour, challenges the procrastinator within me. Each issue is a huge, daunting slab of text, graphics, and slick glossy pages. Until the past two weeks or so, I’d been scared to open an issue. It felt like trying to find my true love by randomly locating her name in the phone book. Before I got married of course.

Anyway, it’s mostly advertisements, and reviews of technology that’ll either ultimately fail to catch on, or at least be out of my price range until it’s obsolete. There’s also a surprising amount of information about ascii art. Apparently it’s big in Japan. More often than not, there’s also a couple of fun, breezy articles too. There’s like sun showers. Quickly passed, but got me wet when they were there.

Np: Random compilation of Z-Ro’s music. Posted awhile ago on CocaineBlunts.

Ch33rz!

28
Apr
08

Alien V Predator V: Ripley’s Revenge!

I’m not a big comic book guy anymore.

I don’t attend conventions. I don’t particularly enjoy superhero movies with the strange exception of the X-Men flicks. Guilty pleasures? The older I get, the more Kevin Smith strikes me as an above average wit who’s mostly just a smug windbag.

Scroll back to when I was about 13 or 14 however, and it’s a whole different ballgame. Between exploring my budding sexuality in my uncle’s hot tub on summer vacations and competing with friends over who could grind their party to level 99 in Final Fantasy 2, I was pretty obsessive about Mylar and Mutants. I’d worked pretty much on and off doing paper routes, accounting work and other odd jobs since I was about 10 years old, so I always had a little of a certain luxury most my peer didn’t: money. Art collecting, fine wines and real estate speculation aren’t typical adolescent interests. So I didn’t really have a whole lot to do with this income, and usually ended up blowing it on overpriced and over-hyped comics, obsessively collecting whatever series caught my fleeting interest. Years later, I have a whole lot of good memories of sitting on my bedroom floor, comics fanned out like tarot cards waiting to be read.

Now that I’m an “adult”, I don’t seek out comics. I do however, pick up some graphic novels at the local library. They’re typically pretty easy to read, and I can tell in a matter of minutes if they’re going to hold my attention for more then one or two toilet reading sessions (think about that next time you pick up a book at your library). Best of all, they’re free. My compulsive urges (collecting, shopping, etc) are gratified almost instantaneously. The only actual price usually winds up being some slightly embarrassing time spent browsing the comics section with a handful of kids who are intimidated by a grown man in their presence and, of course, late fees. Overall, it’s a great way to check out some new “light” reading, and maybe discover something pretty cool in the process.

My latest read though, was something I thought I had read as a youth: Dark Horse’s “Aliens Vs. Predator Omnibus: Volume 1”.

See, I have an impressive run of the Uncanny X-Men. I own a good deal of the early Image superhero books. One of my aforementioned mistakes on buying over-hyped comics for way too much money involves buying New Mutants #87 (first appearance of Cable!) for a lot of dough. But amongst all the typical mutant fare I had a certain affinity for darker and weirder comics. Titles like Gore Shriek, Taboo, Deadworld and Hellraiser to name a few. That being said, I collected a lot of Dark Horse’s comics, including Aliens and later Aliens VS Predators comics.

Thing is, I don’t remember any of the stories. I swear humans were only involved in the periphery. Victims mostly. So what ended up astounding me about this collection is how far Dark Horse actually developed this universe beyond the “Grrr, Aliens fast, multiply, ACID BLOOD. Predator’s agile, powerful, MONSTROUS!!!” angle. What develops over the course of this book is a pretty solid mythology that delves into culture, religion and humanity’s role in the whole mess.

It starts out pedestrian enough. There’s a solid, longish story about a windswept, sun baked colony planet that gets caught in an Alien V Predator bug-hunt battle royale. This is all lasers, bloody colored pencils, heaving bosoms, giant dudes getting ripped apart, and chattering Aliens getting mowed down by the dozens. This stuff I kind of remember. The specific story kind of rang a bell even if the places and faces didn’t. It was generic space opera stuff. And that was perfectly okay.

But the further along this story starts twisting and turning in just off the wall ways. A human is accepted into the Predator’s clan. Intergalactic corporations hatch evil plots to control the forces at work for profit. Eventually Occultism, eternal life, barbaric human sacrifice and a villian who’s kind of like a vampire are introduced. I was reaching some heady “What the fuck” space and I loved it. So captivated was I by this rush of weird that I ended up devouring the latter half of the book in roughly the amount of time it took to meander through the first story. And that raised a couple of questions for me:

What the hell was going on at Dark Horse and the managerial staff responsible for unleashing this on the world? I mean, as a concept Aliens VS Predators is simple. It has a built in audience, and it’s easy enough to cater to that. Just throw some guns and bras at the reader and blow up a spaceship or three. Deposit cash, repeat next month. But at Dark Horse, they just made it weirder and weirder as it went along. And I guess that’s probably the overall point of any independent publishing concern, whether its film, literature, magazines or comics. It just hadn’t really occurred to me in this way before, and it was refreshing. I have to salute the balls the Dark Horse people had on them to venture in this direction. Please don’t confuse me as a comics historian or anything; maybe this was common place for them and I was just too young to realize it. Maybe it was a deviation (I doubt it). Maybe I’m just drunk off lack of sleep and the urge to write (maybe).

The second question is, does Volume 2 exist? Does my library have it? And how the fuck much weirder does this thing get?

I guess maybe I am kind of a comic book guy after all…