Saturday, December 31, 2011

POEM.

DRAWING DOWN

As they Flow in your onion skin Italian books
Dream mists and half askance stares

Lines thick with moments brushed against your lips
Shades of moons left in brown mustard jars

The pens pin so many possibilities
Point by point by point

Capture the advent
With your whorls

*

In Dimension 4692
we are ruled by brown corduroy
which sits on its metal throne
handing out decrees
by the fistful
constantly on guard
worried about a coup
from within
armed with pinking shears
and hot ideas
long the days
they have reigned

*

Take each of the pens
Cobble out the history of time

With each new onion skin
Fill Italian books with a new understanding

Break down the hold of brown corduroy
Break down the hot ideas of rebellion

Turn each moment into mist
With your whorls

*

In Dimension 4692
Like silk worms embraced
we leave our effluvium
interwoven with the mist
forming a new fabric
upon which to draw
new moments of ecstasy
formulating new rule
in which Adam and Eve
feast on the flesh of the brown snake
seasoned slightly
with the pale scent of the apple.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cheap Thrills - TESTAMENT #12

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
This Column Originally Ran on COMICS BULLETIN
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

December 14, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
TESTAMENT #12
Published by: Vertigo Comics
Written by: Douglas Rushkoff
Art by: Peter Gross (layouts) and Gary Erskine (finishes)


HUMANS MUST NEVER LEARN THAT THE TEXT KEEPS CHANGING...

In January of 2007, the American Astronomical Society announced that it had discovered a “triple quasar,” Japanese fishermen discovered a rare Frilled Shark, Scottish scientists successfully engineered hens to produce useful drugs in their eggs, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, the Hitachi company broke the 1 terabyte barrier for hard disk capacity, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand on the Doomsday clock to five minutes to midnight.

We buried Gerald Ford, saw the death of Robert Anton Wilson, and became enthralled in World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade.

January of 2007 was fecund, ripe with the rewriting of history.

Into this fecundity, Vertigo Comics released issue twelve of Douglas Rushkoff's Testament.

Douglas Rushkoff is an American media-theorist, sort of a philosopher of our digital times, who thinks long and hard about how media impacts society. He is a very bright man who says some very interesting and important things, much of which is outside the purview of a column focused on bargain bin comics.

For my purposes, though, I need to bring up Rushkoff's 2003 book, Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism. The basic thesis of this polemic is that "Judaism is a religion dedicated to media literacy." It is a religion, like almost all others, that is based on texts which have been brought into societal consciousness as being a set of rules, tenets, and historical events. But for Rushkoff, as he states in a 2005 interview with Comic Book Resources, “(I)t's actually the story of a revolution-- both of a bunch of people, and of human consciousness. It's a proposition for an open source reality and a set of guidelines for how to break the news to real people who love to believe in idols."

Rushkoff sees the core text of religion as being the transferring medium that creates a particular perception of reality which adherents view as truth. If the media is altered, the perception of reality it has spawned is altered too, and what passes for truth is newly understood.

These sorts of pronouncements can get a person in some serious trouble, especially with an entrenched organization whose very livelihood rests on a particular set of “truths.”

Rushkoff goes on to say in the CBR interview, “I learned early on in life that if you have something that might be truly dangerous to say, say it in comics.”

And this brings us to our bargain bin Testament #12 and some serious mind-fuckery.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- JON DAVIS

Jon Davis has his own Wikipedia entry. On it, it says, "He was born in New Haven, Connecticut and received a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, where he was editor of the literary journal, CutBank. He has served as Writing Program Coordinator for The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, edited the literary journals Shankpainter and Countermeasures: A Magazine of Poetry & Ideas, and taught at the University of Montana, College of Santa Fe, and Salisbury State University. He is currently a professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Jon Davis is the author of three chapbooks and three full-length collections of poetry. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including a Lannan Literary Award, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- MIRIAM GOODMAN

Miriam Goodman, poet, editor, photographer, and teacher, most recently studied in the Photography Atelier program of the Radcliffe and Lesley Seminars and in the evening workshop program of the New England School of Photography (NESOP).

She is the author of three books of poetry including “Commercial Traveler” 1996, Garden Street Press, “Signal: Noise” 1982, and “Permanent Wave”, 1977 Alice James Books. Her photographs have appeared, on book jackets, in literary magazines, CD packaging and on the web.

A great rememberance of her and her work can be found here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poets You Should Know - JAMES VLADIMIR GILL

NOT James Vladimir Gill
JAMES VLADIMIR GILL
(1927 - 1995)
In April, I was informed by his family that James Vladimir Gill, a contributing editor of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, died suddenly at his home in Lausanne, Switzerland. I never met James, but we had a rewarding correspondence over the last four years. He was a gifted poet, novelist and essayist, and for many years, he edited the influential literary magazine 2PLUS2. Above all, he was a gentleman. He agreed to become a contributing editor of a little-known journal, and the poets he directed my way have helped to give it stature. Moreover, he offered me invaluable advice, and never asked for anything in return. At times, to be quite frank, I have felt like giving up this
magazine, overwhelmed by the work it involves. At one of those times, I wrote James, asking him if it was all worth it. He wrote back, "Everything in our delicately balanced little life is worth it if it is worthwhile, if one can affect even in the smallest way a reader's perception beyond the prosaic, the flamboyant, the commercial, and let him touch the fleeting magic of the ineffable." He was, of course, right.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cheap Thrills - COYOTE #7

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
This column originally ran on Comics Bulletin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

December 7, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
COYOTE #7
Published by: Epic Comics
Written by: Steve Englehart
Art by: Chas Truog


SOOKIN SIN!

“My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” It's August 1984 and the leader of the free world at the time, the venerable Ronald Reagan, spews this into a live microphone during a voice check before recording his weekly radio address. Sure the geezer is just telling a joke. Sure it's not broadcast (although later leaked). But do you remember 1984? Things were kind of tense in terms of our relationship with the Soviet Union. There were nuclear weapons pointed at each others' faces. To have the President of the United States make this kind of joke in the midst of these tensions still kinda makes my testicles retract into my abdomen.

Such was the mid-80's, though, I guess.

Hell, in August of 1984, John De Lorean got acquitted of 8 charges of possessing and distributing cocaine. Even Doc Brown was surprised.

Richard Burton died. Truman Capote died. W.A.S.P. released their debut album.

Other than The Red Hot Chili Peppers releasing Red Hot Chili Peppers, there wasn't much to howl about in August 1984.

Speaking of howling, August of 1984 was also when Epic Comics published Steve Englehart's Coyote #7.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- JOHN BRADLEY

John Bradley was born in Brooklyn. He grew up in Germany, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Minnesota (Wayzata!). His itinerant childhood was a result of his traveling salesman father. He has always loved books. Music is a big influence upon him. The lyrics of bands like The Beatles and The Doors made him want to start writing poetry. He has published a number of collections of poetry and also has taught at Northern Illinois University.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Convenient Truths -- OBJECTIFIED

This column originally ran on Comics Bulletin
Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, Daniel Elkin curls up in front of the TV and delves deep into the bowels of Netflix Streaming Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

Today he found 2009's Objectified by Gary Hustwit.


Objectified is a documentary about industrial design, the products and the people behind them. It is also a film about our relationship with the objects around us, both in how we use them to define ourselves, as well as interact with the world. It is also about the unintended consequences of the preponderance of objects in our lives.

This is a beautiful movie. Objectified seems to be as much a product of careful design intention as the objects which it celebrates. There is a clean sleekness to the film that allows the narrative to flow in a seamless manner. The story of Objectified is told through a series of interviews with some of the top designers in the industry, people whose names and faces you may not recognize, but many of their designs have permeated our culture to such an extent that the products themselves have almost reached an iconic place in our consciousness.

Objectified gives its audience some historical perspective on the field of industrial design, originating from the need to mass produce arrows for ancient Chinese archers. Design has become so pervasive now, though, that nearly every man made object you come in contact with in your daily life was first part of someone's presentation to a manufacturer. Take a look around you right now. From the device upon which you are reading this column, to the glass you keep your beverage in, to the phone nearby, to the clock on the wall, to the chair you are sitting upon, to the clothes on your back, all of it was designed by someone. How it looks, how you interact with it, and, more importantly, how you feel about the object are all the result of the decisions of the designer. As the movie says, “Everything that fills the world has been designed.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- MARK CUNNINGHAM


Mark Cunningham's poems have appeared in recent issues of Alice Blue and Dusie. He's had two chapbooks published, including one on the Mudlark Web site (2002) and one of the Right Hand Pointing Web site (2006). Tarpaulin Sky Press will be bringing out a book, tentatively titled Body Language, a sort of diptych containing two serparate collections, one titled Body (on parts of the body) and one titled Primer (on numbers and letters).

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Other Men I Could Be

Google Image Search. Use it to find yourself.


Vascular surgery's evolution at Emory University School of Medicine began with Dr. Daniel Elkin's 1930-1955 tenure as the first Chair of the Department of Surgery. An Emory graduate who completed his surgical residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston under the mentorship of Dr. Harvey Cushing, Dr. Elkin can rightfully be considered — along with Dr. Rudolph Matas — one of the original fathers of vascular surgery in the United States.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Molly Crabapple's Week In Hell

Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell from Brainwomb on Vimeo.


In September of 2011 artist/illustrator Molly Crabapple locked herself in a hotel room in New York City, covered the walls in paper and set about covering that paper with art. Funded with an impressive Kickstarter campaign Molly drew 270 feet of art over the course of a week. A week filled with musicians, performers, press, absinthe and drawing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cheap Thrills - MOBY DUCK #21

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN.
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

November 30, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
MOBY DUCK #21
Published by: Whitman Comics
Written by: Vic Lockman(?)
Art by: Kay Wright


OH, SCUTTLE ME DUFFLEBAG!

December 1975 was a time of duality. While Carlos the Jackal kidnapped delegates at the OPEC conference in Vienna, Punk magazine released its inaugural issue with a drawing of Lou Reed on the cover.

Speaking of Lou Reed, in December 1975 he released his album Coney Island Baby. As a counterpoint, The Bay City Rollers released Wouldn't You Like It.

One Day at a Time premiered on CBS and foisted Valerie Bertinelli into wet dreams of teenage boys across the country. To provide the Yang to this Yin, the writer Thornton Wilder died.

In the strangest juxtaposition of them all, December of 1975 saw the formation of the band Iron Maiden and the birth of Milla Jovovich.

Into this heady brew of duelism, though, a singular event was shot across the national bow. This event was the publication of Moby Duck #21.

Thirty-six years later, I close my eyes (only for a moment, and then the moment's gone), reach into the bargain bin at my local comic shop, and grab hold of a rather worn copy of Moby Duck #21, missing its first two pages.

Luckily for me (and you), Moby Duck #21 has two stories contained within its cover. The first story, the one missing the pages, concerns Moby's tribulations with a “Two-Faced Buccaneer”. The second story in this comic remains intact and is called “The Dread Sea Adventure.” It is this story that shall be the focus of this installment of Cheap Thrills.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Convenient Truths -- IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, Daniel Elkin curls up in front of the TV and delves deep into the bowels of Netflix Streaming Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN

Today I found 2011's If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, produced and directed by Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman.


If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front is ostensibly about the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a “leaderless international coalition of radical environmental groups” formed in the 1990's as a response to the the Environmental Movement's inability to gain any traction stopping the wholesale destruction of the natural world by corporations in their quest for greater profits. Members of the ELF began to fight against what they perceived as the rape of the environment with their own form of destruction, setting fire to timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge in Vail, Colorado. Because of these escalating acts of arson and property damage, in March of 2001 the F.B.I. designated the ELF as the nation's number one domestic terrorist threat.

The film approaches this story through a number of angles. First and foremost is the story of Daniel McGowen. In December 2005, McGowen was arrested at his office, the same office that director Marshall Curry's wife worked in. This set the wheels of the film in motion, and Curry's prior relationship with McGowen gave him unprecedented access to him and his story while he awaited the verdict of his trial for eco-terrorism.

The film does an excellent job of tracing McGowen's development from the mild-mannered son of a New York policeman to a radical environmental activist, while at the same time documenting the rise of the ELF, but this is not the fundamental heart of the documentary.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cheap Thrills - CAPTAIN AMERICA #393

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

November 23, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
CAPTAIN AMERICA #393
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Mark Gruenwald
Art by: Larry Alexander


AS YOU MIGHT GUESS, THIS IS NOT THE REAL THING.

Politics and sex had never been such intimate bedfellows as they were in October 1991. This was when we all got to watch the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee interview Anita Hill about Supreme Court candidate Clarence Thomas' alleged sexual harassment of her. Children all over the nation began asking each other, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?”

This was also the month that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton announced his bid for the 1992 Democratic nomination for President.

Thomas was made Justice. Clinton became President. The nation's libido was rocking.

October 1991 also saw the release of Jim Varney's comic masterpiece, Ernest Scared Stupid, into movie theaters. Public Enemy released their album Apocalypse 91 … The Enemy Strikes Black right around the same day as Vanilla Ice released Cool as Ice.

Tennessee Ernie Ford died in October 1991 at the age of 72.

Marvel Comics published Captain America #393.

It is this last fact that will be the focus of this column, as it is Captain America #393 that I pulled out of the bargain bin (instead of, thankfully, the decaying corpse of Tennessee Ernie Ford).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review of SAME DIFFERENCE

This review originally ran on Comics Bulletin

Originally published in 2003, the graphic novel Same Difference, by Derek Kirk Kim, has won the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards. Now, First Second has re-released this classic in a new, redesigned hardcover edition, and it is good to have it back.

For those of you who haven't read it before, Same Difference is a story about Simon and Nancy, two “young people navigating adulthood and personal relationships.” The storytelling is immensely engaging, the characters are completely fleshed out, the art absolutely complements instead of distracts, and the pacing of the book is just about perfect.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review of METAMAUS

This Review originally ran on Comics Bulletin
MetaMaus is an exhaustive behind the scenes look at the creative process. Through an interview format, it examines in minutiae almost every decision Art Spiegelman made in the midst of creating his graphic novel classic, Maus. It also contains samples from his sketchbooks, photos he used during his research, and the works of other artists that Spiegelman referenced or used in his research.

It would be overwhelming, were it not absolutely engrossing.

MetaMaus is 300 pages long and is accompanied by a “hyperlinked DVD of Maus with an in-depth archive of audio interviews with (Spiegelman's) father, photos, notebooks, drawings, essays and more.” There is just no possible way you can have any questions left regarding the creation of Maus after you go through all of MetaMaus.

And this, apparently, is the point of its publication.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cheap Thrills - FANTASTIC FORCE #7

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

November 16, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
FANTASTIC FORCE #7
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Tom Brevoort and Mike Kanterovich
Art by: Dante Bastianoni


I THINK I LEFT MY STOMACH IN MY OTHER PANTS!

In May, 1995, 35-year-old unemployed plumber and U.S. Army veteran Shawn Nelson stole a M6O Patton tank from the US Armory in San Diego and went on a rampage. He destroyed cars, fire hydrants, and an RV. Then the police shot him dead.

Die Hard With a Vengeance comes to theaters in May, 1995.

Sega released the Sega Saturn console in North America in May, 1995.

Matlock, Blossom, AND Full House are all canceled in May, 1995.

As a proponent of writers respecting the intelligence of their audiences, I will leave it up to you to make the connection between these seemingly disparate events (you're welcome). But, before you do, let me just add one more piece to this puzzle.

In May of 1995, Marvel Comics released Fantastic Force #7.

As I have mentioned many times before, I had all but given up reading mainstream comics in the 1990's. Fantastic Force #7 is ANOTHER example of why that was.

A matter of fact, I had no idea there even WAS a Fantastic Force. Ever. And there is still a chunk of my soul that wishes I had never gained this knowledge. I'll explain that shortly.

I'm shooting from the hip here, but my assumption is that Fantastic Force was cobbled together out of that same sort of Teen Titans/X-Men/Youngbloods marketing brain aneurysm that seems to be a pop culture standard: “How do we stay relevant, hip with the kids, and able to tap into the demographic with the highest disposable income?” Make heroes out of teens! It's a gestalt that has brought us such wonderful things as Menudo, Teen Mom, Matter-Eater Lad, and Jim Shooter.

Quality stuff, all of it.

But this is a discussion for another time. I've got a bargain bin comic to concentrate on right now: Fantastic Force #7.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- DAVID GREENSLADE


David Greenslade is from Cefn Cribbwr near Porthcawl. He has been described as a 'genuinely original voice', a 'radical nonconformist', 'avant garde' and 'relentlessly modern'. As well as teaching and travelling in the Middle East, David spent three years in Japan and four years in the United States.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- S.C. Hahn


S.C. Hahn grew up in Nebraska and lives in Sweden, where he sometimes bakes pies, encounters Masonite in his renovation of an old farm house, and is a freelance editor and writer. His prose poems have appeared in The Prose Poem, The Chiron Review, and The Party Train: A Collection of North American Prose Poetry (New Rivers Press, 1996), among other places.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- BOB HEMAN



Bob Heman's prose poems have appeared in Sentence, Quick Fiction, Paragraph, Caliban, The Prose Poem: An International Journal, First Intensity and Lost and Found Times, and online at Otoliths, Mad Hatters' Review, Clockwise Cat and Action, Yes. They have been translated into Arabic, Spanish and Hungarian. Two of his collections are available as free downloads from the Quale Press. He lives in Brooklyn (New York City) where in the late 1970s he was an artist-in-residence at The Brooklyn Museum. He has edited CLWN WR (formerly Clown War) since 1971.

You will enjoy his poems.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ROAD TRIP!



Roadtrip Timelapse / Drivelapse video from Brian DeFrees' 12,225 mile cross country roadtrip around the USA from August 2011 - October 2011 compressed into 5 minutes.

*** Turn on annotations to see what state is being displayed in the video ***

More details and a map of his cross country America Roadtrip Timelapse Drivelapse Project can be found here:

http://briandefrees.com/featured/usa-drivelapsetimelapse-project/

Check out night and day timelapses from his USA roadtrip here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgmnYRd6BNI

Music Credits: Waking Lights - "The Sounds"
http://wakinglights.com/

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cheap Thrills - AGENT LIBERTY #1

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
This Column Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

November 9, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
AGENT LIBERTY #1
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Dusty Abell


INTERFERENCE

Let's travel back to January, 1992, shall we?

For some reason, it seemed like there was a great deal of regurgitation going on then. I mean, first off, this was when President George H. W. Bush spewed all over the Prime Minister of Japan at a state dinner.

Then in January, 1992 new United Nations Secretary-General became Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whose name kind of sounds like someone vomiting, right?

Also resonating with the sound of puking at this time was the title of the latest Emilio Estevez, Anthony Hopkins, and Mick Jagger vehicle just released into theaters, Freejack.

Green Day releases Kerplunk in January, 1992.

You see where I am going with all this?

My latest random pick from the bargain bin just so happened to be Dan Jurgens' Agent Liberty #1 from DC Comics. It, too, was released in January of 1992. With all the hurling going on during this month, I thought for sure I got me another pile of hork to heave through. It has all the makings of a mess, doesn't it? It's the first issue of an early 90's Superman spinoff languishing in the bargain bin, right? Such a thing does not bode well in terms of me keeping my bile down.

So I got myself a bucket before I sat down to read Agent Liberty, fully expecting to fill it with expectorate after the first couple of pages.

But that didn't happen. A matter of fact, after reading Agent Liberty #1 my faith in comics as a medium was renewed. You can color me impressed.

Seriously.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

KEEP DRAWING

Warning: This short film may, in my opinion, induce seizures. If you are prone to that sort of thing, you may want to consider your options before viewing.



keep drawing from studio shelter on Vimeo.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Music in Your Future - TIGER DARROW

So, there's this buzz going on about Tiger Darrow.

What's a Tiger Darrow?

This is a Tiger Darrow:




Impressive.

Even more impressive is that fact that Tiger Darrow is eighteen years old.

Even more impressive then the fact that Tiger Darrow is eighteen years old is that she has already released two full length albums, the second one entirely self-produced.

The self-produced album is 2011's You Know Who You Are. On this album, Tiger produced, recorded, mixed, and wrote all fifteen songs, while also singing and playing cello, bass, guitar, keyboards, mandolin, violin, ukulele, and tambourine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

See This Documentary -- ERASING DAVID

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human.  Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, I curl up in front of the TV and delve deep into the bowels of Netflix Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.


Today I found 2010's Erasing David by David Bond and Melinda McDougall.

This is a documentary about information. More to the point, this is a documentary about the amount of information being captured and stored every day about YOU.

I'm sure that you are aware that every time you use your credit card or cell phone, that information is being logged into a database somewhere. Every time you purchase something on Amazon, or use I-Tunes, or click on a web site (like this one), that information is captured and held. Got a traffic ticket? Captured. Use a FastPass for a toll booth? Captured. Library? Captured. On-line Gaming? Captured. Streaming movies? Captured. Doctor's visit? Captured. Married? Captured. New Baby? Captured. Pet License? Captured.

It's enough to make you wonder what has happened to your privacy.

It's enough to make you kind of paranoid.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Iain McGilchrist - OUR DIVIDED BRAIN



In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our 'divided brain' has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review of LARRY IN WONDERLAND (A PEARLS BEFORE SWINE COLLECTION)

This Review Originally Ran On Comics Bulletin

Larry in Wonderland is a Pearls Before Swine Collection featuring the daily newspaper strips which ran from August 23, 2009, to May 23, 2010. If you have never heard of it before, Pearls Before Swine is a comic strip that features anthropomorphic rats, pigs, zebras, crocodiles and whatnot. It runs the gamut from your pretty typical comic strip type humor (you know, things like Twitter jokes or a cactus who wants a hug) to some pretty seriously self-referential meta-weirdness.

As I live in a small town where the local newspaper is apparently written by meth-addled sixth graders and is nearly unreadable, I haven't had access to daily comic strips in some time. Because of this, I had no idea what to expect from a Pearls Before Swine collection.


And I sure as hell couldn't have imagined something like this.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cheap Thrills - STORMWATCH #1

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

November 2, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
STORMWATCH #1
Published by: Image Comics/Malibu Comics
Written by: Brandon Choi and Jim Lee
Art by: Scott Clark


HEL... HELP ME … THE PAIN...

This week I moseyed on down (as I am wont to mosey) to my local comic shop to grab this week's fifty cent masterpiece. I ended up with Stormwatch #1.

Fuck.

Sometimes I wonder why I continue to write this column. Is it some sort of penance that I feel I have to do in order to justify my love of the medium? Is there some sort of masochistic streak churning through my core that drives me to flagellate myself in this manner? Am I just an eternal optimist who has faith that by keying into the entropy of existence I will somehow be rewarded? Or is it that by rooting through the broken dreams of others I somehow justify my own?

Whatever.

I made a commitment to keep writing this column, and so, even in the face of something as god-awful as Stormwatch #1, I shall persevere. Maybe I'm just building character?

So... anyway... Stormwatch #1.

It's March, 1993. It was in this month that fucking Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You became the longest running number one single of all time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 opened in movie theaters, Bebe's Kids was released on home video, and Brandon Lee was killed during the filming of The Crow.

What a miserable month.

By the way, if I EVER hear that fucking Whitney Houston song ever again I swear I will go on a puppy killing rampage and then sue AMERICA for making this popular. It will be on ALL of your heads. You have been warned.

As if there wasn't enough shit in the atmosphere already in March, 1993, Image Comics fucking sharted out Stormwatch #1 into the world.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- JAY MEEK

 

According to Wikipedia:
     Jay Meek (1937 - November 3, 2007 St. Paul) was an Ameriacn poet, and director of the Creative Writing program at the University of North Dakota. He was the poetry editor of the North Dakota Quarterly for many years.
     He graduated from University of Michigan in 1959, from Syracuse University with a master's degree in creative writing in 1963. He taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sarah Lawrence College, Wake Forest University, Memphis State University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Colby College (Maine) and Syracuse University.
     In 2005, he read his poetry at the Library of Congress.

Now you read his poetry to yourself

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- LAWRENCE FIXEL


Mr. Fixel was born in Brooklyn and raised in White Plains, N.Y., where his father owned a sporting goods store. He began writing in high school after being encouraged by an English teacher who saw promise in his work.

He moved to San Francisco in 1950. He soon fell in with the writers of the day, including Langston Hughes, Dylan Thomas and, later, George Hitchcock, who published the literary magazine "Kayak."

If you want to know more about who Lawrence Fixel is (and you should) check out the rest of the article here.

But before you do, you should read his poem after the jump.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- MAX WINTER


Max Winter’s poems have appeared recently in Ploughshares, Volt, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. He has published reviews in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Newsday.

Of Mr. Winter, the poet James Tate says:
Max Winter's poems operate in unpredictable ways. They sound as if controlled by some prevailing logic, and yet the reader is hurled forward, line by line, into unknown and unexpected worlds as the poems progress. They mutate seamlessly; they are awash in metaphor. Bold statements melt into one another, constantly changing their terms of play. A reader is tempted to ask, Is it a madman speaking? But no; upon closer examination, we see the reasoning process, however bizarre—the horseshoe turns, the breakaway ride from idea to idea. And yet nothing detracts from the wonder of it all. These are poems of great adventure and discovery, and not just for the reader, I suspect, but for the poet as well.

I say, read the following poem and understand why Max Winter is a POET YOU SHOULD KNOW.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cheap Thrills - MEN OF WAR #11

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

October 26, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
MEN OF WAR #11
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Roger McKenzie
Art by: Dick Ayers and Romeo Tanghal


I THOUGHT … *SOB* … I WAS FIGHTING FOR A BETTER WORLD...

In December of 1978, Cleveland, Ohio, under the leadership of Mayor Dennis Kucinich, became the first large American city to go into default since the Great Depression. In Iran, two million people demonstrate in the streets against the Shah. These two events are not related.

December of 1978 also saw the arrest of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, the birth of both Manny Pacquiao and Katie Holmes (allegedly to different mothers), and the release of the Susan B. Anthony dollar.

In the world of music, The Doobie Brothers release Minute by Minute, Parliament releases Motor Booty Affair, and Public Image Ltd releases First Issue in December, 1978.

In the world of comic books, his was the moment in history when DC Comics released Men of War #11.

Writing this column isn't always easy. This is usually because the comic I randomly pull out of the bargain bin is complete crap and a struggle to get through .This time writing this column is going to be difficult because this is one of the more emotionally draining comics I have ever read.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- GEORGE KALAMARAS


George Kalamaras poems appear in Best American Poetry 1997, Boulevard, Epoch, The Iowa Review, New Letters, Sulfur, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Heart Without End (Leaping Mountain Press, 1986) and Beneath the Breath (Tilton House, 1988). His first full-length collection, The Theory and Function of Mangoes, won the 1998 Four Way Books Intro Series in Poetry Award (selected by Michael Burkard) and was published by Four Way Books in 2000.

Among his awards are a 1993 NEA Poetry Fellowship, the 2000 Abiko Quarterly (Japan) Poetry Award, and two writing residencies at the Hambidge Center for the Arts. In 1994 he spent several months in India on a Fulbright Indo-U.S. Advanced Research Fellowship. His scholarly book on Hindu mysticism and Western discourse theory, Reclaiming the Tacit Dimension: Symbolic Form in the Rhetoric of Silence, was published by SUNY Press in 1994, and his articles appear in The International Journal of Hindu Studies, and elsewhere. He is associate professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- GABE HUDSON


Gabe Hudson (born 1971) is an American writer who currently lives in Seoul, Korea, where he is Chair of the Creative Writing Program at Yonsei University’s Underwood International College. Before moving to Seoul, he taught in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University from 2004-2007.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- CHRIS BUCKLEY


He’s the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2007-08), two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Fulbright award, and four Pushcart Prizes, among other honors. Most recently, he was awarded the 2009 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for his manuscript Rolling the Bones. 

"Chris Buckley is an energizing, humanistic poet whose talent for capturing human drama in cosmic terms doesn't prevent him from looking closely at our day-to-day doings and celebrating them," said Stephen Gutierrez, professor of English and event organizer. "He's got a big heart, a wise mind, an all-encompassing sensibility. He's one of our finest poets."

Born in Lompoc, Buckley was raised in Santa Barbara and educated at St. Mary’s College (BA), San Diego State University (MA) and the University of California, Irvine (MFA). When not writing or reading, he a professor of creative writing at UC Riverside.

Christopher Buckley's ninth book of poetry, Fall From Grace, was recently published by Bk Mk Press/Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City. With Gary Young, he has just edited The Geography of Home: California and the Poetry of Place (Hey Day Books, 1999).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

See This Documentary -- THEATER OF WAR

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human.

Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, I curl up in front of the TV and delve deep into the bowels of Netflix Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.


Today I found 2008's Theater of War by director John Walter.

This documentary is ostensibly about the 2006 production of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, a “punishing statement of protest against the grim folly of war,” that was directed by George C. Wolfe and ran in New York's Central Park for four weeks . What was of particular interest about this production was that it was a new translation done by playwright Tony Kushner, best known for Angels in America, and starred Meryl Streep.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cheap Thrills - SATAN'S SIX #2

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

October 19, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
SATAN'S SIX #2
Published by: Topps Comics
Written by: Tony Isabella
Art by: John Cleary


TEETH!

May of 1993 could well have been one of the most uneventful moments in history. As far as I can tell, the only event of significance was that Eritrea and Monaco gained entry into the United Nations, and who the hell has ever heard of Eritrea?

Sure, PJ Harvey released Rid of Me, but this was also when movies like Hot Shots! Part Deux and Super Mario Brothers opened in movie theaters.

Nobody really all that notable died, except for the show Quantum Leap, and everyone was so bored in May of 1993 that 80 MILLION of us tuned in to watch the series finale of Cheers.

Hell, I think I was even living in Minneapolis, MN in May, 1993.

Into this vacuum of excitement, Topps Comics snuck onto the shelves a little gem called Satan's Six #2.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review of ZAHRA'S PARADISE

THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON COMICS BULLETIN


Sometimes comic books capture a zeitgeist. The pro-democracy movements in the Middle East, the world-wide Occupy protests, the general sense that the priorities of those in power are counter to the interests of those disenfranchised, all point to the fact that people are tired of not being heard.

Zahra's Paradise, a new graphic novel from First Second Press by Amir and Khalil, captures this feeling. It is about the peaceful protests that occurred in Iran following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2009 reelection and the subsequent brutal government crackdown. Specifically, it follows the journey of a mother and son, as they search for Mehdi, the eldest son, who disappeared from Freedom Square in Tehran.

The background to the story is the June 12, 2009 presidential elections in Iran. There was a heated race between incumbent Ahmadinejad,and the reformist candidate, former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Mousavi. On election day, reports of voter irregularities were everywhere, and the following day Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with a staggering 63% of the vote. After this announcement, both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi declared themselves the actual winner of the election, and the Mousavi camp openly challenged the results. Ahmadinejad claimed that this accusation was actually an attempt by foreigners to undermine the Iranian government. There was a promised recount on behalf of the Iranian Guardian Council while protests began in major Iranian cities. It is said that nearly three million people took part in a rally on June 15th.

In the midst of this unrest, on June 18th the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, declared Ahmadinejad the victor. This unleashed government forces on the protesters and ushered in a crackdown where thousands were arrested and beaten, and dozens were killed. Those that were arrested reported being brutalized and tortured, and many of those arrested died under “mysterious circumstances” while in prison.

It is within the context of these events that Zahra's Paradise unfolds.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review of YIDDISHKEIT: JEWISH VERNACULAR AND THE NEW LAND

THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN

I was raised by Jews. My grandparents were born in either Belarus or Poland and, as very small children, fled to America to either escape persecution or to try to make a better life for their families. They brought with them their religion, their culture, and Yiddish. As they assimilated, all of these things began to wane. My parents have only chunks, and I have even less. But I do have memories, especially of my grandparents speaking Yiddish when they didn't want me to know what they were talking about.

Yiddish is a language of rich sounds. It is a language of comedy. It is also a language of pathos.



In his introduction to the comics anthology Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and The New Land edited by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle, noted author Neal Gabler says:
Yiddish may be the most onomatopoeic language ever created. Everything sounds exactly the way it should: macher for a self-appointed big shot, shlmiel for the fellow who spils the soup and shlmazel for the poor guy who gets the soup spilled on him, putz for an active louse, shmuck for a hapless one (as in "poor shmuck”), shnorer for a freeloader, nudnick for a pest. The expressiveness is bound into the language, and so is a kind of ruthless honesty. There is no decorousness in Yiddish, nor much romance. It is raw, egalitarian, vernacular.

Yiddish is a mutt. The language is an intermixture of German, Polish, and Hebrew that relies on grammatical rules of its own devising. The people who speak it are the Yiddishkeit ,and their language reflects much of their sensibility about life. There is sort of an optimistic fatalism to the Yiddishkeit. Things are the way they are. They may get better, but if not, you got what you got. Oy! “Hope for the best, expect the worst,” as Mel Brooks put it in his song The Twelve Chairs.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cheap Thrills - Rune #1

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

October 12, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
RUNE #1
Published by: Malibu Comics
Written by: Barry Windsor-Smith and Chris Ulm
Art by: Barry Windsor-Smith


SOMETHING FROM MY DREAMS KILLED MY DAD!

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was in January of 1994 when I found out that NBC was going to debut The Cosby Mysteries. I can't tell you that because... well.... I wasn't excited. I could care less. Nobody else could either. It only lasted one season.

But January, 1994 wasn't all about Cosby. No siree. This was when NAFTA was established, when Tonya Harding got her ex-husband to club Nancy Kerrigan in the knee, when Shannon Faulker became the first woman to attend The Citadel, and when Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty by reason of insanity for cutting off her husband's willy.

House Party 3 and Cabin Boy were released into movie theaters. The Meat Puppets released Too High to Die.

January, 1994 saw the passing of Cesar Romero, Harry Nilsson, and Telly Savalas.

It also saw the release of Malibu Comics' Rune #1, part of the hard-pimping marketing campaign of their Ultraverse line.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- PAUL LEGAULT


According to the October 15, 2011 Saturday Poetry Series from As It Ought To Be:

Paul Legault was born in Ontario and raised in Tennessee. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia and a B.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010, winner of the 2009 Omnidawn First/Second Book Award) and The Other Poems which is forthcoming from Fence Books in 2011. He co-founded and co-edits the translation press Telephone Books.

I'm reposting the same poem that ran on As It Ought To Be (because it is excellent) after the jump.  I hope neither they nor Mr. Legault has a problem with that....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Watch This Movie - THIS SO-CALLED DISASTER

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human.  Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, I curl up in front of the TV and delve deep into the bowels of Netflix Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.
Today I found 2004's This So-Called Disaster by director Michael Almereyda.

This is a film about a playwright coming to terms with his story and actors struggling to be true to his vision. It is one of those behind-the-scenes documentaries that focuses more on process than story. In this film, Almereyda takes his viewers into the world of the great American playwright, Sam Shepard, as he runs his actors through the final three weeks of rehearsals before his play, The Late Henry Moss, opens at San Francisco's Magic Theater in late 2000.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cheap Thrills - KICKASS GIRL #1

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
This column originally ran on Comics Bulletin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

October 8, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
KICKASS GIRL #1
Published by: Neko Press
Written by: Billy Martinez
Art by: Billy Martinez


WAKE UP! YOUR EYES DECEIVE YOU.

August, 2003 in France, the father of two teenage French tennis players is arrested for drugging the boy’s opponents so his boys would win their games. Later in the month, Pete Sampras announces his retirement. Strange coincidence?

There is a tremendous heat wave in Europe during August, 2003, and Pope John Paul II urged Catholics to pray for rain. During the same month, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy for Governor of California. Strange coincidence?

There is a major power outage in the northeast of the USA and Beyonce’ wins and MTV Music Video Award for Crazy in Love in August, 2003. Strange coincidence?

Ween releases the album Quebec in August, 2003, the same month Hilary Duff releases Metamorphosis. Gigli opens in theaters and Gregory Hines, Wesley Willis, and Charles Bronson all die. What was going on in August of 2003?

I did some research and I figured it out. August, 2003 is when Neko Press released Kickass Girl #1, and that explains everything.

At the time, Neko Press, based out of La Mesa, CA, was the baby of artist Billy Martinez. Martinez has worked in comics since 1996. He is still going. I have never heard of him.

Billy thought up the concept for Kickass Girl in 1998, but wasn’t able to get a script together until 2003. He claims in the last page of the book that "this book is about me… this book may be about you." If this is true, I am kinda scared because this book is weird, off-putting, violent, and wrong on so many levels. If this is about me, then by golly I need some serious therapy.

Let me explain why.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Poets You Should Know - Larry Levis


According to PoemHunter.com:
Larry Levis was born in Fresno, California, on September 30, 1946. The son of a grape grower, he grew up driving a tractor, picking grapes, and pruning vines of Selma, California, a small fruit-growing town in the San Joaquin Valley. He later wrote of the farm, the vineyards, and the Mexican migrant workers that he worked alongside. He also remembered hanging out in the local billiards parlor on Selma's East Front Street, across from the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.

Levis earned a bachelor's degree from Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno) in 1968. He went on to earn a master's degree from Syracuse University in 1970 and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1974.

Levis taught English at the University of Missouri from 1974-1980. From 1980 to 1992, he directed the creative writing program at the University of Utah. From 1992 until his death from a heart attack in 1996 he was a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, which annually awards the Levis Reading Prize in his remembrance (articles about Levis and the prize are featured each year in Blackbird, an online journal of literature and the arts).

Levis won the United States Award from the International Poetry Forum for his first book of poems, Wrecking Crew (1972), which included publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. The American Academy of Poets named his second book, The Afterlife (1976) as Lamont Poetry Selection. His book The Dollmaker's Ghost was a winner of the Open Competition of the National Poetry Series. Other awards included a YM-YWHA Discovery award, three fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His poems are featured in American Alphabets: 25 Contemporary Poets (2006) and in many other anthologies. Larry Levis died of a heart attack in Richmond, Virginia on May 8, 1996, at the age of 49.

According to me:
Larry Levis is fantastic.

Read one of his poems after the jump.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poets You Should Know - James Tate


According to Wikipedia:

James Tate (born December 8, 1943) is an American poet whose work has earned him the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst[1][2][3] and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters

According to me:

James Tate is awesome.

Read one of his poems after the jump.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cheap Thrills - PHANTOM JACK #5

Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

September 28, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
PHANTOM JACK #5
Published by: Image Comics
Written by: Mike San Giacomo
Art by: Mitchell Breitweiser


AND TRUTH IS THE GOD WE WORSHIP.

The final report of the United States Intelligence Committee stated that regardless of the CIA's assertions to the contrary, claims about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in the build up to the Iraq War were unsupported by available intelligence. The Butler Review into England’s intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction said that UK sources used unreliable information and were seriously flawed. Both of these reports were published in July, 2004. This was the same month that 60 Americans died in the conflict in Iraq.

July, 2004 was also when the US Department of Homeland Security asked the US Justice Department to look into the legal ramifications of postponing the upcoming presidential elections because they said terrorists might disrupt them. July, 2004 was also when, in its final report, the 9/11 Commission harshly criticized American intelligence agencies for their failures.

It was in July, 2004 that the UN revealed that in parts of Africa life expectancy had dropped below 33 years due to AIDS.

That summer Marlon Brando died, Jimmy Buffett released his album License to Chill, and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle opened in the movie theaters.

Into this miasma of suckage that was July, 2004, Image Comics dropped a comic called Phantom Jack #5. Seven years later, I was unlucky enough to randomly pull this dreck out of the bargain bin.

And thus was born this week’s Cheap Thrills.

Phantom Jack #5 starts off, thankfully, with a little background information on the inside of the front cover. The story so far has revolved around a New York City newspaper reporter named Jack Baxter who can become invisible at will (I shit you not). Jack’s younger brother, Cassidy, has been taken prisoner in Baghdad in March, 2003 before the start of the war to "liberate Iraq." Jack goes all invisible rescue mission and meets a lady named Madison Blue, who also can turn invisible.

What are the chances of that?

Right before issue #5 begins, Jack and Madison have rescued Cassidy by "taping the three of them together in a sort of invisible sandwich," or at least that's how the writer describes it.

You’ll see what this means.