August Ain’t Just a Name for an Obnoxious Heir-ling

I’ve been pretty lame about posting anything here. I’ve bookmarked a lot of stuff to mention, but just haven’t gotten to it. Been in a bit of a funk lately, on top of doing a lot of reading and (not quite enough) writing. And weightlifting. And going up and down that goddamn M. I’ll try and cover a few bases now, and maybe more over the next few days.

Darwyn Cooke Nails It

This book just came out, and it is freakin’ brilliant.

If you like crime stories and good art, pick this sucker up. You can read an article/interview about it right here, and I urge you to do so. From the article:

 

Although many fans know Darwyn Cooke mainly from his work on superhero titles like “The New Frontier” and “Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score,” his first love has always been crime fiction. Cooke’s first published work from DC Comics, in fact, didn’t involve superheroes — it was a short story called “The Private Eye,” which appeared in “Talent Showcase #19” in 1985.

“It’s really what I’ve always wanted to do,” Cooke said at his spotlight panel at Comic-Con International. “You sort of have to go where the interest is, and in this industry, that means finding out things about superheroes that excite you that you want to get into. But I knew after ‘The New Frontier’ I probably had the leverage and the ability to perhaps try to go out and do something that would be a little more in line with my own personal interests.”

Cooke’s passion for crime drama resulted in one of the best reviewed graphic novels of the year so far, IDW Publishing’s “Parker: The Hunter,” an adaptation of the book by Donald Westlake, who wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark.

This is really one of the coolest things I’ve read. The first 30 pages or so only has text in, if I recall, one spot. The rest is just the visual journey of Parker — the main character, who is in no way a “good guy” — returning to New York bent on revenge. We see him get a fake ID, use it to get a fake checking account, buy stuff by check then go pawn it for cash. It’s the little details in the art that make it so awesome. And the angular, hard-edged art that Cooke does so well could not be more perfect for Westlake/Stark’s prose. This is beautiful work. If you like a good crime yarn, or appreciate graphic storytelling, then this is for you. I can’t urge you to do so enough.

Though I will probably be making as strong, if not stronger, of a case for the graphic book I will finish tonight, called Asterios Polyp.

What a great time to be a fan of this stuff. This isn’t even geek shit — none of this is superhero storytelling. So don’t miss out.

Though Since You Did Mention Geek Shit

My dad reads this blog, so he’s well aware of a lot of this stuff I’m into. He scored me a stack of old comics from the 70s at a yard sale, and they are awesome. Some Invaders, Champions, a couple Tarzan, and several John Carter — Warlord of Mars (which I never collected as a kid, so I’m thrilled to have them now). What’s awesome is a couple issues were ones I had way back when, like this Daredevil Annual from 1976!

(in case you’re wondering, in the fight depicted above, Daredevil and Black Panther would be a good battle. Neither of them can go toe-to-toe with Namor, the Savage Sub-Mariner, though — he’s a dude who can hold his own against the freakin’ HULK for crissakes!)

What’s great about these comics too are the ads. The little green army men. The weird little joy buzzers and x-ray glasses. And this piece of awesomeness off the back cover of a John Carter issue from 1978:

You just can’t find that level of utter cool these days. I know you people are feelin’ this!

Everyone’s All a’Twitter

So you’ve probably heard of Twitter. The idea is each “tweet” gives you 140 characters to say what you want. You can “follow” people you want — i.e. other Twitter users whose comments you want to see — and other people, presumably, follow you in return. When I first checked it out, I thought it was pretty lame. It seemed like the majority of it was stuff like someone posting, “I’z hungry but I’z don’t have any food. I can haz pizsa plz lol’z!!!1!” So I bailed on it, but after catching wind that a lot of the writers and various other creative people I admire were getting on board, I decided to revisit it. I have mixed feelings about it.

As of today, I have 91 people I’m following, with a whopping 47 following me (contrast this with someone like, say, Neil Gaiman, who has 904, 608 followers)(speaking of Mr. Gaiman, I’m a fan of his writing, but I am not following him anymore mainly because the ratio of interesting to not-so-interesting tweets was pretty poor; I’ll stick with reading his journal). Almost all of the people I follow are writers — either of books or comics, or both — or artists. I also follow a few local people and friends as well, none of whom post all that much.

For the most part it’s been pretty cool. I’ve found that most of the people I admire are pretty interesting, and I have discovered some great stuff around the web as a result. But it’s also a little weird. It is supposed to be this “social networking” thing, but it really isn’t all that social; most of the communication seems to be decidedly one-way. Just because you follow someone, it doesn’t mean they are aware of you, or, if they see you respond to something they say, that they’ll bother to acknowledge it. It’s like being an underclassman or something, hanging out on the periphery of the “cool kids” and trying to chime in on their conversations . . . only to be ignored. It’s kind of weird. I’ve exchanged a few words with some people here and there — Poppy Z. Brite is awesome — but for the most part it isn’t much more socially interactive than subscribing to websites via RSS feeds or something. I’ll keep after it. I’ve definitely spent less time looking at Facebook as a result, and will probably continue because at least Twitter doesn’t have stupid quizzes.

Music-ly Unemployed

For the first time in about 12 years, and for only the second time in something like 26 years, I am currently without a going musical concern. That’s right, I pulled the plug on Lazerwolfs. In a lot of ways it sucks — I’m actually pretty goddamn sad about it if you want to know the truth — but in others it is kind of a relief. I could probably write 5 posts just on this subject, but bottom line is it had reached a point where the amount of fun just wasn’t holding up to the headaches. As the guy booking shows, I was saying no to offers so much that I think people stopped asking, mainly due to scheduling impossibilities. Future prospects looked less favorable. I think we took it as far as we could, and it was never just a hobby for me; go hard, or don’t go at all, right? And, given that we haven’t heard from the drummer in over a month (he has no phone, no workplace to call, and didn’t respond to notes left on the door of the house he, presumably, lives in), it put the writing on the wall in bold print. So yeah, it’s a drag. But whatever. Maybe I’ll do my long-considered vanity solo album or something.

I’ve Always Wondered. . . .

Does this mean you have to pay . . . before you pre-pay . . . or . . . huh?

The Most Trifling Incident Can Make You Snarl With Rage

Which is why you need to add HEMO RAGE to your workout routine, so that the ass you kick will be copious.

Wicked pumps. Boo-friggin’-YEAH.

Vintage Guitar

The short version of the article I wrote about the Travis Bean documentary arrived on newsstands via Vintage Guitar Magazine this week. Or last week, I guess. Hell, I don’t know — what week is it anyway? It’s pretty cool to be in there, though. Even though they spelled my name sorta wrong. And took a sentence out of a paragraph that changed the entire meaning. And left a word out of that paragraph so it makes me look like a moron. Or that they credited the picture I took to Hank. But what the hell, if you buy Vintage Guitar in Indianola, FL, you can see my writing and Hank’s glowing mug (playing the Badlander show that earned _pollen the “loudest band to ever play” there reward)(by the way, I was obviously there; whomever reached that conclusion about their volume was either really drunk, or really stoned, or, most likely, both. They weren’t that loud; you don’t take a 100 watt Rivera Knucklehead and 2 4×12 cabinets out of the backline — as they did for that show — and get louder):

     

As edits go, these aren’t too bad. Clearly they were made for space, and I can deal with that. It’s not necessarily about making the piece better, it’s about making it fit. Hopefully it will get Hank & Co some attention (and some donations). I’m generally okay with editors and making changes, as long as they don’t seem to make a change just for the sake of changing. I once had a review of a record where I described it as being “deceptively heavy” but when it hit print it had been changed to “deceptively light.” That’s only 100% opposite of what I meant. That kind of thing will throw me into, you guessed it, HEMO RAGE!

Live at the Zebra Lounge, Bozeman, May 15th, 2009

Speaking of my friend Hank and his Travis Bean axe, he wrapped up his stint as a Lazerwolfs when we performed our Judas Priest Tribute in Bozeman the other night. It was a lot of fun, hopefully we will do something like that again. If you wonder about the rowdy times kept back stage at a rough-and-tumble rock club, here are Hank and Jimmy, pre-show. I’m sure if there was a window and TV to throw out of it, they would have preferred to do that.

Here’s Bubba reading the walls of the “Green Room.” Green rooms are never green. He got so settled into that couch that, rather than go out to the truck where he’d left his “rock clothes” he played the set instead in his fleece pullover. I don’t see how he didn’t die. He also used the drumsticks I keep in my road case for emergencies rather than go out and get his own out of the truck. What a lazy bastard. And people wonder why more often than not I’d rather not be in a rock band?

The Zebra is cool enough, with a decent (low) stage and great sound, especially on stage. The monitors were melting my face, which is rare. I’m usually lucky if I can just barely hear my vocals, especially in this configuration with all the instruments basically aimed at me in the center of the stage. The stage is in one room, then another room off that is where the bar is (there are 2 or 3 more rooms back in this maze too, actually). The bar has a bunch of art in it. From the stage, directly in front of me was a big pole, which sucked, but off in the back of the room I had a clear sight of this painting through the doorway; when I think of this show, I’m sure I’ll remember this image forever.

Didn’t get any pictures of us playing. In fact, I don’t have any from any of our Priest shows other than the couple Hank’s wife took the first night we did it. That’s unfortunate. Good thing is the soundguy at the Zebra recorded our set, and it came out pretty decent. Here are a couple tunes for your listening pleasure:

Grinder

Steeler

It was a lot of fun. We have a show in Great Falls in June, I think (the booking agent there is kind of inconsistent, and we wouldn’t be the first ones to get tangled in some kind of scheduling snafu), then we are playing a festival out in Minnesota in July, then after that I don’t know. It is so hard to make things happen anymore that I’m pretty burned out, but we’ll see.

30 Inches of Fighting Metal

I love independent, vinyl-only labels. Miskatonic just put this sucker out; I bought the triple-pack, which included all three 10″ records + a 7″ single from The Lamp of Thoth. These are all fantastic, old school English rock/metal bands, and I love them. Releases like this are what keep me interested in music these days. I like a lot of different types of music these days, but this stuff hits me right in the sweet spot.

I De-Tune, ‘Jus For You!

I think the internet must be heaven for gearheads. I know Jimmy, the guitar player for LAZERWOLFS, spends a lot of his free time trolling for amps, pedals, and things like that. I like good gear, but I don’t spend a lot of time researching it. If I want to know something, I’ll usually just ask Jimmy. Anyway, what is great for this is how all of this stuff often have videos where you can hear an amp, hear a pedal, get instruction videos, see endorsees playing their signature guitars, etc. Some of these videos are helpful, and some are just comedy gold. Like this one, forwarded to me yesterday by my friend Ednor. Even if you don’t give a rip about guitar tuners, you should watch it.

The Bright Side of Bad Times

This from Publishers Weekly: “Good Worlds and Bad”

While some readers look for dark fiction to reflect dark times, others just want to get away from it all. This has led to strong sales on all sides of science fiction and fantasy, from pulpy escapist romps to grim dystopian parables. “In down times, escapism is more important and necessary than ever,” says Diana Gill, executive editor of the Eos imprint at HarperCollins, “and genre sales reflect that. We saw this after 9/11, and it continues to be true now. Urban and supernatural fantasy are unquestionably the strongest sellers in the genre.”

Here is a quote a little deeper into the article:

Jim Minz, senior editor at Baen Books, says the economy/escapism extrapolation is overly simplistic. “While it’s easy to make the connection between the harsh, depressing headlines and a desire to escape to another world, a place where it’s obvious who’re the good guys and who’re the bad, the reality is never that simple,” he explains. “Whether you’re talking about fantastic tales told around the campfire before recorded history or the latest embossed and foiled space opera adventure, these tales have always found their roots in our world. No matter how inventive the tale, how strange the creatures, how bizarre the alien society, their roots, reflections and inspirations are all around us, a part of the fabric of our world.”

What it boils down to for me is good stories told well, and there are great stories to be found in genre fiction. Don’t be a snob about it.

As For Something I Hate

I hated, I mean hated, that book Eat, Pray, Love for a lot of reasons, even though I finished it. Obviously I wasn’t the target demographic, but that is only part of why l found it loathesome (I picked it up because I was on a travel book kick and it was all over the travel section of the bookstore I was in somewhere at the time). Now they are making a friggin’ movie about it. I don’t think this synopsis really explains the book very well, if I recall:

Based on the international bestseller by Elizabeth Gilbert, story centers on a married woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery after trying to get pregnant and realizing that she’s not living the life she wants. Murphy adapted the screenplay.

Seems to me the book was more about a woman hopping from one “soul mate” to another, whining about everything, and being generally annoying. I’m sure the movie will be huge too since Julia Roberts has seemed to master all of those traits as well. Blah.

A Real Author and a Real Movie, Hopefully?

This could be awesome: A Princess of Mars

Andrew Stanton’s adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp legend John Carter of Mars just got a new screenwriter… and it’s one of the writers who best understands pulp science fiction.Michael Chabon, author of such books as The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, has signed on to rewrite the script for Disney’s big-screen adaption of A Princess of Mars, the first of eleven books in the John Carter saga. Chabon’s previous screenwriting experience is writing a draft of Spider-Man 2, although only about a third of his material made it to the finished film.

Chabon is fantastic (they should make a movie out of Gentlemen of the Road; not his best book, but it would be fun on screen), but I worry that this is a Disney flick. I read somewhere else that it would be animated. I have high hopes, but I expect them to be dashed. I’m trusting you, Mr. Chabon!

Weather permitting, I’m going to walk out into the fountains in downtown Spokane this weekend looking just like this:

Then again, I don’t know that there is enough wax in the universe to make me look like that.

Fair Days Revisited

Julia and I visited the fair last Friday night and had, for the most part, a good time. I just posted an essay about it over at New West; you can check that out here.

We only live maybe half-a-mile, a mile at most, from the fairgrounds. So anytime anything goes on there, we hear it. Especially events in the grandstands, whether it is of the racing motor variety or cheers and gasps. I really don’t mind because it is only once per year, but the dogs go nuts. They freak out at the slightest provocation anyway, so if not that it would be something else. Like garbage trucks. Or people having the gall to walk in the street in front of our house. Or my work phone to have the audacity to ring (that one actually pisses me off too).

Anyway, Julia scored us free passes, and off we went (I’ve heard it was $6 to get in, but I also heard $12; can anyone enlighten me on what the actual cost was?). Of course we headed out to get Tater Pigs almost immediately.

Here are a couple different varieties of Tater Pigs, now that you mention it, courtesy of my friend Charles Martin.

From there it was to the rodeo. We got into that for free too, as it was down to the last two events and the lady guarding the entrance just stamped us and let us in. We got to see some barrel racing and the bull riding, which is always cool. The theme of the day, or the whole week, I don’t know, was “Tough Enough to Wear Pink.” So lots of people were decked out in pink outfits.

After the rodeo, we wandered around, looking at all the buildings full of projects and things; cooking, photography, sewing, agriculture, etc. There were some great vintage posters in the commercial building.

From there we visited the animals. Some of the sheep sported some great costumes, that’s for sure. I want to see our awful dogs in full-on Lycra supersuits too!

I didn’t like that all of the animals are essentially squeezed together in one big barn, which is the outdoor hockey rink. Back in the day, there were separate barns. That was much cooler. Of course rivalries were between barns. “Oh, that girl? She’s from the sheep barn, don’t talk to her!” I was a pig barn guy, myself, though I did have a steer one year and a sheep another. Best part of the pigs was when they would turn them loose in the arena in big packs for judging, and the mayhem that would ensue. Inevitably someone’s pig would get out of the barn completely and lead a merry chase throughout the barn area!

The worst part was during the last night, when men would come through the barn marking the hogs for where they were going to go, based on who bought them. Slaughterhouses, of course. I was a wimp about that, I often bawled my eyes out. I usually overcame that when the check came, though. I bought my first stereo with my first 4-H check; it was a Realistic from Radio Shack, with a turntable and cassette. I also bought Supertramp’s Breakfast in America album with it, as well as the soundtrack to The Warriors. Vinyl, of course.

This is the closest we got to the midway. It was close enough for me.

Art, Fire, and Rock

Art
Before I go on, I wanted to mention last First Friday and Julia’s big painting debut. Turnout was kinda lame, given it was a holiday, which we kind of expected. But it was still a lot of fun. My mom came out and hung out with us, as did my friend Charles Martin, with some other friends dropping in and out. We played a little music and had a good time. Here are a couple of her painting hanging up @ Bernice’s (Sid was the model for the first one, if that isn’t obvious, and that really cracks me up):

Fire
I was pretty much going to leave the tour stuff in the past on this blog, but I have one more post then I am going to subject both of you to before letting it go. I know if I was a good Missoulian I’d be talking about Mt. Sentinel going up in smoke, but that has been covered much better elsewhere. Still, I have my obligatory picture, taken from my front yard around 8 PM or so last night:

And here is another shot from the yard 2 hours later:

Tour Shenanigans
Now for the tour. I filmed a little bit here and there, but not much, then thought I lost the discs . . . which I found the other day, so I uploaded a couple clips to YouTube. Nothing world-beating, but I’m happy to have a little documentation of our trip with Sid. Anyway, here is some stuff to amuse you, if only to make you get a kick out of how a group of doofuses like us managed to find our way out and back!

Bust a Move Out

This clip is actually before the show at The Corral Room in Madison. We walked in and wondered if we were in the right place. Kinda jazzy stuff playing, and it was in this weird little basement joint that seemed like a wine bar or something. Everyone was all dressed up, drinking wine from fancy glasses with their pinkies sticking out, you know? Sid is trying to act all badass . . . and failing.

La Media

Here’s a clip of us playing La Media at Big V’s in Minnesota:

The Saga of Quiet Storm

This next one has a backstory. On our drive to Fargo, we stopped somewhere and Jimmy bought some Powerade or something, the flavor of which was called “Quiet Storm.” He got in the van and pointed it out, and said it was like Sid, who pretty much just sat in the back and didn’t say much. The joke – which of course was hilarious to us – was that he was quietly raging inside, and would then explode. So for the tour, his name – which I introduced him as from the stage – became Quiet Storm.

He retaliated. He drew this picture in Fargo of his bandmates:

Then, each night he would customize our set lists with drawings. Jimmy became “The Drunken Shredder” (he always accuses Jimmy of being drunk, and fast guitar players are often called “shredders”), and I became “Hairy Thunderfingers.” Our friends in the Vibrolas saw our custom set lists with drawings and thought it was hilarious. This next clip references all that.

Tuning = Stand-up Comedy . . . or Not

Here’s what happens when we have to stop playing to change tuning. Stupid shit. Less talk, more rock are words to live by:

The Deed Will Be Done

Live from Big V’s in Minnesota. Sid delivering the goods pretty well for being just a little fella.

At our last show with the Vibrolas, Sid drew this caricature of the band, which they loved, and now have on their MySpace page:

 

Here we are, just before parting ways with them:

Good times, indeed.