Archive for May, 2010


Collecting my thoughts.

I’m having one of those days.  One of those days where I feel like I need to write about something, I actually really want to write about something, but the idea of undertaking the writing completely overwhelms me.  So rather than doing a proper write-up, like something I might put on the website, I will now use this space to gather my thoughts in hopes of unburying myself from this mental avalanche. 

Yesterday, the world lost an icon.  I’ll go so far as to say we were robbed.  I’m sure most of you already know this, and while it pains me to repeat it, we must come to terms with the fact that Ronnie James Dio is gone.  I thought flipping on the iPod and rocking out this morning would be appropriate, and it is, but it makes me rather melancholy.  I’m not one to get upset over death, especially of someone I don’t know personally, and I guess there’s a hundred reasons why this particular loss affects me so.  Maybe because his music played such a big part in shaping me into the person I am today.  Maybe it was the unexpected nature of it.  I guess the reasons aren’t as important as the fact that this person touched my life and countless others, and he will be sorely missed.  I like to think that he ran into Frank Frazetta on the way up to the clouds, and the two of them are riding saber-tooth tigers through the sky and weilding battle axes and are ready to kick the shit out of the afterlife.  And any time someone throws metal, we’ll think of Dio.

But enough sadness.  For about a week I’ve been wanting to write about the book I just finished.  It’s the first in a series of five, and now that I’ve moved on to the second book, I figure I should write about the first before it falls too far out of mind.  The series: The Chronicles of Amber, by Roger Zelazny.  Book one, Nine Princes In Amber, is IMHO effing brilliant.  I don’t think I’ll ruin it by giving you the premise, so here it is: a guy wakes up from a coma after a car accident with no memory, but a really bad feeling that his crash was no accident and that some nasty shit is going down.  He then must piece together bits of his identity and determine not only who he is, but who is out to get him, why, and what the hell he is gonna do about it.  Since this isn’t an official review I’ll try to be brief, but here’s a few tidbits I think are great:

1. The main character: Corwin, our “hero”, may not have an identity but he has a hell of a personality.  Even in doubt he manages to come across as very sure of himself, and his luck is astounding yet completely believable.  Some of the initial exchanges he has with his sister are priceless.  And for being a hero and a prince (oops, spoiler. kinda.), he’s incredibly relatable, completely endearing, and impeccably normal somehow.  Which ties into…

2. The tone: written from a firsthand perspective, every word we read is Corwin’s.  Part of the beauty of the way that it’s written is in his language.  He starts off very casual, very normal (for lack of a better word), and as he learns more about himself we see him leaning more and more toward formal speech, regal speech.  But the brilliance is in the way that Zelazny weaves the two together, and it really sets Corwin apart from the rest of the characters who wholly enhabit the world of Amber.  It serves as a constant reminder that he is not like them, that he is different.  And in the end, it’s that little bit of difference that gives him the edge against all others. 

Ok, that wasn’t even as brief as I wanted to be, and since I plan to expand on these for a full-fledged CMDS article, I’ll save the rest for that.  Consider this a teaser.  BWAHAHA.  And here’s the cheesiest book cover I could find:  

 

So I’ll leave you with that for the moment, as I feel this review is going to take a while.  Ahhh, book reviews.  Feels like I’m in college again.  As long as this doesn’t turn into a 15-page paper on the use of language as identity (and it might!), we should be alright. 

Be excellent to each other, little ones.  Love you, mean it.

Marvel with me.

**SPOILER** this post has nothing to do with comics. 

No, I mean “Marvel with me” over the weird kinda fucked up shit that one can run across while simply driving down the road.  Now you know Mick and I tend to do a bit of driving fairly often, and while we’re not often searching for adventure and intrigue it has a way of crossing our path anyway.  Tonight’s journey actually started on Sunday as we were driving back from Pottsville and visiting Mick’s family.  I pulled into a gas station in Lampasas (the one I always stop at, the one that’s halfway between Pottsville and home) and fill up the car while Mick goes inside for caffiene.  As I’m sitting, waiting, I notice there’s a house next door with a bunch of antiques in the yard and a big banner that says “OPEN”.  And right underneath that is a green 5-drawer chest that would look great in my guest room.  So on the way out of the parking lot, I point it out to Mick and he suggests I check it out.  Long story short, the price tag said $65, and I’d be an idiot not to bring it home immediately.  Unfortunately, immediately was not an option; we’d have to come back with the truck and pick it up.  Fast forward to today, Tuesday, when we decide it’s a nice night for a drive back out to Lampasas.  We get the dresser, we stop at Storm’s for dinner, we head home.  A couple miles outside of town, I see this:

From 30 yards and at 70 mph, I was baffled.  So Mick turned around and we went back and pulled up on the side street.  That’s when I saw this:

Fish heads on a fence. Not even shitting you.

 So apparently this is not an uncommon practice in the country.  Mick tells me that this is definitely not the first time he’s seen fish heads on a fence.  He grew up white trash country, he’s spent a lot of time in the country, so I believe him.  I, on the other hand, grew up in the ghetto, and although I’ve spent a lot of time in the country, it’s usually been on the back of a motorcycle.  So that was my first “what-the-hell-was-that-turn-around-now” moment of the evening.

The second came about 45 minutes later.  Just south of Seward Junction, there’s a house.  Well, not really a house, more like a FUCKING COMPOUND that’s built right up by the highway.  At first pass, all I saw were 20 ft spiked timbers lining an entry gate, the Confederate flag and a “Come and Take It” flying proudly. 

“What the hell was that?” Mick asked.

“I don’t know, but he’s got fucking battlements!” I replied.

We turned around. 

What the...

No way...

Holy crap!

That’s no moon, that’s a MOTHERFUCKING SPACE STATION.  This man had not built himself a house, but a fortress.  As we slowed, I counted 8 buildings immediately visible on the premesis, at least one of which was a converted caboose.  With the windows down, you could hear kennels full of large dogs barking and howling from inside the fence.  And I know to most folks, the construction out front looks like a drainage line being put in for the new subdivision across the road; but to me, it looked a hell of a lot like the guy was putting in a moat.  Not even kidding you.  So I guess when the Socialist revolution or the redneck apocalypse comes, this dude is gonna be ready. 

P.S. if any of you have any insight onto the story of this house or its inhabitants, please let me know.  I’m absolutely fascinated.  

Well, I just wanted to share those tidbits with you.  If you’re ever in Lampasas, check out the antiques store behind Skinny’s, he’s got some neat stuff!  I’m off to do a bit of reading in this book that I absolutely adore.  I’ll tell you about it later. Love ya, mean it!

Hey! 

I’m sitting here amidst quite a large pile of comic books and Martha Stewart magazines.  The latter is thanks to my mother, who likes to send me all her magazines with recipes in them after she’s read them through.  I won’t lie, she may be an insane ex-con (Martha Stewart, not my mom), but she can whip up a mean pie and plant the hell out of a garden.  As for the aforementioned pile of comics, they are the booty brought home from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, which was yesterday.  Mick and I celebrated by getting up entirely too early and trekking down to Austin Books, standing in line for close to 20 minutes to get our chance to snag twenty, yes twenty, free comic books.  And not just crap rags either, some pretty good stuff!  I personally cleaned up the Mature Audiences rack, but we really got a ton of stuff from all over.  So in the next few weeks, you’ll probably be hearing about any of the following:

  • The Tick
  • Transmetropolitan
  • Swamp Thing (By Alan Moore)
  • Fables
  • Owly
  • Iron Man/Thor
  • Chew
  • Unknown Soldier
  • Star Wars
  • 100 Bullets
  • Green Hornet
  • Planetary
  • various Oni Press
  • Bongo featuring The Simpsons
  • The Walking Dead
  • Ex Machina

But first, did I tell you I picked up the first two issues of American Vampire?  I think I mentioned that.  Anywho, won’t go into a full review now, but damn!  It’s nice to see some fucking scary vampires again.  Issue #1 was mostly setup, establishing stuff, which of course is important and I’d never say it was dull.  There are two stories being told alternately: the first centers on Pearl, an unlucky actress scraping by as an extra in silent film, working two jobs while she waits for her big break; the second is the story of Will Bunting, the bespectacled penny paper writer who happens to be witness to a bizarre set of murders on a westbound train.  And the thing that ties them together?  The American Vampire himself, Skinner Sweet.  Don’t let the name fool you, he’s anything but sweet.  He’s vicious and dirty and pretty freaking terrifying, not to mention he kinda looks like Kid Rock, which is scary enough in itself.  The terror really kicks in in Issue #2, with some AMAZING art that is completely gruesome and sort of unexpected.  I really REALLY want to show you guys one of the frames, but I think it might be more fun if I don’t.  I’ll just say that I turned a page and dropped the damn book, nearly choking on my coffee.  It was that awesome.  Kudos to mister Rafael Albuquerque for doing a fantastic job thus far.  So, perhaps needless to say, I’ll be picking up the rest of this series as soon as I can get my hands on them.  I suggest you do the same. 

Also on the exciting new media front, I finally got to sit down for my first screening of El Topo.  I’m sure you can guess how I felt about that…no?  Well, let me tell you, IT WAS GREAT.  It’s like David Lynch and Clint Eastwood had a baby, then they turned that baby loose in the Mexican desert and gave it a bunch of acid.  It was very much like three dreams strung together.  I don’t really know what else I can say about it; it’s something that really just needs to be experienced.  We have a stack of a couple other Jodorowsky films for me to check out, so you might hear about those sometime soon as well. 

Really that’s all you’ve missed in the last few days.  We’re in the process of migrating the old CMDS website over to the new backbone, which basically involves me copying and pasting every article (almost) onto a new backbone.  I can’t complain, our codemonkey Naj has busted his ass over all this for ages, and it really turned out better than we ever dreamed.  Now there’s just a little bit of tedium on my part, a little cleaning up for Naj and Mick, and voila!  The new and improved CyberMonkeyDeathSquad will be launching ever so soon!  I’m excited, you should be excited, it’s an exciting time! 

Also, I got some plants today.  Thanks to mom (again!) for hooking me up with a huge freakin palm, some violets, a ton of 4-o’clocks, mint, ivy, some butterfly bush, some other red flower thing that I forget the name of, and a pot of mystery bulbs which I don’t know if I took on purpose or not.  About half of them went in the ground before dinner, the rest will have to wait until tomorrow.  At the moment my back and neck are killing me, and it seems like an opportune time for a super-hot bath.  So I’m heading that way.  Be excellent to each other, my little ones.

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