Friday, January 30, 2009

I Need an Intervention

THE MOST OBVIOUS CHOICE, you’d think, would be my computer. Some people who think they know me say I wouldn’t be able to survive without access to one, especially without Internet. That’s not true. I’ve tested myself. I've gone days at a stretch without cracking open my laptop or sneaking off to the library to access some random lag-cheerleaderladen PC. I purposely didn’t touch a computer during the last two family vacations, and one of those was for two whole weeks.

Nope. What I need is a chocolate intervention. If there’s one thing I can’t do without, it’s chocolate. It’s my drug, gotta admit it. There is a God and His name is Hershey.

Oh wait, I just thought of another possibility. My driving need to stalk cheerleaders. Talk about inconvenient! It’s really becoming quite a ridiculous addiction of mine. I must have a collection of at least 40 of them in the hole under my garage.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Math's Not Important

Maybe this is why the economical plight in America is so dire. I was looking at one of my son's toys today and something grabbed my attention. I'm the last to say I'm a wiz with numbers, but I seem to recall some math basics. For example, I can still argue that if Garen has a basket of 19 peaches and he gives seven of them to his little sister, Nora Jane, then the generous young fella will find that he still has how many peaches? Twelve, right? Sounds about right to me.

But not according to the manufacturers* of Foam Letters 'n Numbers (see pic). I wonder if several of our "heads" of State and government, our enlightened policymakers who fill the seats in the House and Senate, played with toys such as this when they were wee lads and lassies. I'm convinced most central bankers and business elite did.

IMG_2980

*I have to add a little disclaimer. I poke fun at our country's educational/economical values with tongue-in-cheek. The Verdes Toys Corp. actually produced this product in China (of all places!).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let's Play: Am I a Martyr or am I Mad?

I used to be a happy, go-lucky sort of guy. I didn't ever wanna hurt nobody. Look, I'm just a regular fella trying to make a buck in these hard times, just like anybody, you know? I've tried to set a good example. I don't understand why everyone thinks I'm such a bad guy. But, for whatever reason, they're all gunning for me. They want to see me go down.

That chilly morning in December, when the men came for me and dragged me out of my bedroom, I was stunned. At first, I thought, Where are my kids? I hope my kids are okay. And then, as they put the cuffs on and led me from my home, I peered up into the Chicago sky, its cloud cover layering any hint of a sunrise in a veneer of gray and gloom, and I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, and Gandhi, and I tried to put some perspective to all this.

I will embody the nobility of Nelson Mandela. I will project my vision like the great Dr. Martin Luther King. I will endure the suffering as did the gentle Mahatma Gandhi.

I am Blagojevich.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wanna download some comics?

23215 No? Well, in case you ever do, then how about some of mine? You see, I just found a link where 17 issues of a comic series I wrote in the '90s is available for download. It's called Legendlore. Ever hear of it? No? It was a spinoff of another series called The Realm, which started at Arrow Comics in the late '80s; the bulk of the 40+ issues were published by Caliber Comics. Fellas like Vincent Locke (Deadworld, A History of Violence) , Guy Davis (Baker Street, Hellblazer, B.P.R.D.), David Mack (Kabuki, Daredevil), and Brian Michael Bendis (Spider-Man, Avengers, Alias, Powers) cut their teeth on The Realm.

In recent years, Caliber publisher Gary Reed had been backing my efforts to find a publishing house for a new series of The Realm. Joe Pruett (Desperado/Image Comics) had shown interest, but then Mark Smylie entered the game and made a tentative offer to publish it under his Archaia Studios Press banner. Unfortunately, this never got off the ground, partly because the art team I initially had on board ended up doing some X-Men work for Marvel and their per-page asking price jumped up considerably. So, I've basically been sitting on scripts for the first two issues for, oh, a few years now.

I'm going on a bit longer than I intended, though. This was supposed to be a little snippet of an entry with a link to the downloadable Legendlore issues at DriveThruRPG.com. If you're so inclined, check it out. And if you're not, well, I guess we just can't be friends anymore.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Last Man on Earth

abandoned_1 I FOUND IT FUNNY. Now that the sounds of men were long gone, the natural world reclaimed the noises of the world. In truth, it was much quieter, but it was far from silent. Or perhaps it was merely a different kind of silence. The constant breezes, how they poured and billowed across the overgrown fields, swaying the grasses, or sluiced across the broken pavement between buildings.

Daytime was more quiet than night. That’s when the hunters roved the land, solitary like the large cats and the grumbling bears, or in packs like the wolves and wild dogs. They growled and roared, barked and howled, rejoicing over their kills and announcing their dominance over the world.

I alone remained to represent mankind, as far as I knew. The panic was no longer there, it had long since assuaged, giving way to a miasma of routine and wearisome habits. I stayed as near to the abandoned upper story apartment as possible, rarely venturing far, but now, as I was down to the last of my canned goods and bottled water, I was forced to consider my options.

I sat in the dark, the blinds drawn, scratching at my beard. It reached my stomach, my beard did, which told me I had been alone quite a long time. My body was gaunt, my hands skeletal. In truth, I avoided mirrors. They only depressed me.

I rubbed my thumb along the over-barrel of my sawed-off Browning. I preferred to call her Tracy. My only constant companion. She'd saved me a few times, once from a pack of wild dogs, another time from a brown bear I'd nearly walked right into, stepping carelessly into a shadowy alleyway, both of us scavengers on the hunt.

Now I wonder if it would have been better if Tracy hadn’t been with me that day. I often thought back to then, and how this all could have so easily been finished, me in the belly of that bear.

I caressed her under-barrel with my fingertips.

I fingered her safety, flicked it.

I lifted her weight. Touched her lips to mine.

I softly inserted my thumb, wrapping it around the trigger.

Bzzzzt!

I stopped. Listened.

Bzzzzt! Bzzzzt!

Was that the doorbell? How? Power was long gone. It was impossible for me to be hearing that damned doorbell!

Bzzzzt!

“Let me in! Please!”

A female voice on the other side of the door. My imagination, surely.

Thud-thud-thud-thud! Bzzzzt! Bzzzzt! Thud-thud-thud!

Frantic beating on the door. My heart racing. Cold gun barrels against my mouth.

Hope was an emotion I’d quenched long ago. I couldn’t go back there.

“You’ve got to let me in!”

I choke down a sob...

Press the trigger.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Masks

YEAH, YEAH, WE ALL WEAR MASKS. I know most people say they wear masks for any given situation. It’s this generation’s dernier cri on how to refer to our many day-to-day roles based on societal expectations, when it comes to friends, family, occupation, when we go to the store, drive in our cars, stand in an elevator, blah, blah, blah.

Me? I wear my mask to protect my secret identity. If my archenemies knew who I really was, they’d be able to find my home, my family, my pets. I’d never be able to get any sleep.

Back in the late ‘80s, Solomon Scorn decided he’d fight crime and to hell with the mask. Better heroes than him have tried it and failed: Sergeant Starr, Syphon, Lady Bliss. Where are they now? Dead, dead, MIA, that’s where. And Scorn? In ’94, the entire Deviant 9 force arrived in his hometown and turned his neighborhood into a burning gravel pit.

maskSo, no thank you, sir. I like my house. I like my wife and kids. I like my dogs…well, one of them. Maybe I’ll give the other two to one of my nemeses. I hear Rage recently lost two of his hellhounds to one of Mr. Echo’s ultrasonic pulse wave attacks...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Little Darkness

IT'S A LONELY WALK DOWN THE CORRIDOR. I asked to wear my black suit. That’s the one thing they allow me, the men in white. I wear my black shirt, my black tie. The only thing not black is the stitching on my black boots. And my cufflinks, the ones she gave me, bright silver crosses inset with tiny diamonds.

“This way you’ll always be reminded of the Good Lord’s sacrifice,” she told me, and I thanked her and kissed her and told her she was a good wife—too good for a rascal like me.

It’s cold in the corridor, on that long lonely walk. I can see my breath. I watch it evaporate in the chill, still air, dissipating in pale gray puffs.

The preacher man asked me, “Why do you wear black all the time?”

I answered him at first with a wry grin, then said, “Why do you?”

“It is a symbol that I die everyday, and that I immerse myself in eternity with the Lord.”

“I reckon it’s about the same for me, then.”

“Do you consider yourself a priest?”

“No, Father. I’m not so wise as all that.”

What should I do? Explain to him how I chose black years ago to represent the hopeless and the hungry? For the sick, the lonely, the unenlightened. For the prisoners and the soldiers who have died, and for much better people than I’ve ever been. For things that just need plain changing.

Most people out there in the world think I wear black because I’m a demon in the form of a man, a black devil with a black soul. But black is cleansing. It absorbs all the world’s evils, soaks it all in and traps it, engulfs it, never lets it go.

I peer down the last few steps of the corridor and rub a callused thumb across one of the crosses on my cuff. A man in white opens the door from the inside. He’s dressed all in white and has a grim look about him, dark circles around his bloodshot eyes, hollow cheeks, and a slash of a mouth—almost lipless, I’d say.

The long, lonely walk, they tell, makes your senses come alive. I hear every sound, every breath, the sweep and click of our boot heels. I cross the room and sit where they tell me. The wood of the chair is hard and cold. They wrap canvas around me, they belt it around my waist, my wrists, and ankles, and cinch it tight. I smell something strong, and I hear the drip of water in the bucket.

They put a sponge on top of my head. As the water courses down the sides of my face something black catches my eye, and I look to the side. The preacher man is behind the glass, clutching the Holy Bible to his chest, and then my eyes wander to other folks sitting and watching me. I look for Rose, but she ain’t there. I’ll see her as soon as this is all over, where Jesus waits, too. Strange, but through all the pictures and imaginings of men, I never once pictured Him wearing anything but black.

I can’t quite see the preacher anymore. They have my head fixed forward so I can’t turn my neck now, but my eyes strain to the side.

“Father?”

“He wants to talk to the priest,” one of the men in white say.

“Yes, my son? Is there something you want to tell us before you meet the Lord?”

“You asked me a question earlier. I thought of my answer.”

“Go ahead.”

“Well…I just kind of like the color, I guess.”

(Inspired by the one and only Johnny Cash.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Domestic Disturbance Incident Report

Rubens_-_Adam_et_EveLocation: Mesopotamia, at the intersection of Tigris and Euphrates Ave. 5,008 BC

Incident: At approximately 1,500 hours, my partner and I received a call about a DMV on the 12,000 block of Tigris where a woman had apparently just assaulted her husband. We approached the residence, a leaf- and vine-strewn grotto, to find a naked white female, approx. 22-25 years of age, about 5’ 8” with very long red-brown hair, hurling fruit at a bearded white male, approx. 25-28 years old, roughly 6’, with brown hair.

My partner and I stepped down from our emus and approached. My partner tried hailing them, but evidently the couple didn’t understand Bonobo. I asked them in Human to refrain from their disturbance, that we’d received calls from their neighbors (a family of leopards and some newlywed elephants). The female had to be restrained by my partner while I asked the male to explain what had happened.

Male, named Adam, accused female subject, named Eve, of "sinful infidelity," murmuring something about “Forbidden Knowledge” of a long serpent of unknown origin, thought maybe to be an anaconda or some other python-type judging from male’s description of coloration and large size. Female maintained that the male was “a filthy liar,” and that he “has no idea what he’s talking about because he’s not enlightened!” Female then asked if we could find something to cover her nakedness, which we all thought was an odd request.

Female became more agitated--even after my partner found some large fig leaves to obscure what she referred to as her “privates”--when we couldn’t find her apple, which she had thrown at her male partner in the earlier scuffle. I radioed HQ to advise. Chief Jehovah referred to the repeat offenders by citing a long list of disturbances, such as the male’s claim to be “Master of all Creatures Large and Small,” and often verbally assaulting his neighbors by referring to them as “dumb beasts” and “subjects to his every whim.” Chief then ordered my partner and me to extricate the "incorrigibly corrupt" couple from their residence and escort them to the outskirts of Fertile Crescent City.

Evidently, all is not bliss in the Garden of Paradise these days.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Where did you get that scar?

walther 9mm My girlfriend’s dad took us all out in the woods one time. He had a couple of Walther 9 mms.

We started shooting at cans and bottles his buddy Clay had set up on a tree branch. But one of those damn guns had a hair-trigger.

Later, in the ER…that’s when I first actually felt the pain. From the hole. In my foot.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jade Princess, update

I only got roughly 320 words in this evening as the New Year rang itself in, but something is better than nothing at all. I decided to go back and add to a previous scene, doling out some more details on how Gariel ended up in Prince Ilghaza's clutches. I'd like to write more, but I think I'll opt to get some rest and be refreshed for 2009. Yeah, the entire year.