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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Yesterday's News

Ladies and gentlemen, I have found my wallet. You may now return from the edge of your seats.

I found it, of course, ten minutes after I'd finally given it up for lost and chalked it up to another plot by Number 2 to finally drive me to my breaking point and purchase himself something with a market value equal to or less than four dollars. But as it turns out, I'd just been too tired to take it out of my pocket when I got home, and it dropped into a basket of socks when I folded my jeans.

Thanks, Occam's Razor!

Unfortunately, I did nothing today but look for my wallet and watch the Prisoner again, with a short break to marvel at the fact that Fastlane is now showing on CourtTV. Seriously, with Michael Jackson acquitted, times are hard on the boulevard for those folks. Anyway, you're going to have to content yourselves with reading what happened to me yesterday, instead.

Here's how it all started. I woke up early so that I could go to the store and play a few games of Necromunda with Tug's buddy Josh, an all-around cool cat that schooled my team (The Unholy Bastards, led by Sgt. Badamadeuce) twice in a row. But that all came later. When my alarm got me up, I flipped on the TV, and before I'd even opened my eyes, I was chilled to the bone by the sound of evil.

"I try my best to quickly put it on viiii-brate..."

Yep. R. Kelly. And he was trapped in that frigg'n closet again. I'd left the TV on VH1 after watching Best Week Ever, and those guys apparently didn't get the memo that nobody needs to be exposed to that video before noon. Although I will admit, the guy who plays Rufus is starting to grow on me.

Anyway, when I finally made it out of the house, I realized that if I actually wanted to propel myself to work, I was going to require the use of your earth-gasoline. Which meant I was going to have to go to the gas station by my house, which makes up for having cheap and reliable fuel by having the worst customer service of any gas station in the history of man.

This was the place that I had to stand outside of for fifteen minutes waiting for them to turn on my pump one day, and when I went inside, the lady told me she couldn't see me. I turned around to look, and noticed that while the storefront is made entirely of windows, they've taken to stacking up cases of beer and soda in front of them so that she couldn't see the pumps. You know, unless she ever moved two feet to her left. Or listened to the beeping of the console that alerts her whenever someone's trying to get gas. Or got her GED.

Anyway, since it's such a hassle, I usually just pay at the pump, but with my debit card nestled snugly in a basket of socks at the time, I had to make do. So I cruise in, hit "Pay Inside," lift up the handle, and shove the nozzle into my ride.

And nothing happens. I check the display, which encourages me to "Begin Fueling." Well, I'd love to, but alas. I decide to just move to another pump, but as I hang up the nozzle, the display says I've gotten about twenty bucks in gas. I'm not sure if this was a holdover to the previous guy or what, so I go inside to make sure everything's cool, and ask her to maybe push the button that lets me get gas next time.

I stand there for a few minutes while the large, hateful woman behind the counter shrieks "WHERE DID YOU GET THIS?!" at a wizened old man who wants to buy a candy bar. They discuss the Powerball jackpot for a few minutes. I take one look at the guy as he purchases a lottery ticket and a carton of Winstons, and decide he's an Alanis Morisette lyric just waiting to happen. Finally, he shuffles off, and I tell the lady my problem.

"Did you lift the handle?"


"Because you have to lift the handle."

I did.

"Well, go out and try it again. And remember to lift the handle."

... Okay.

Now I don't begrudge her for thinking I was an idiot. I mean, look at the people I have to deal with in my job. But after I was outside, and she not only mimed pulling up the lever through the window, but also sent another customer outside to tell me to pull up the lever... well, I thought that was a little extreme.

I mean, really. It's not like I'm this guy or somethin'.

I Left Tonight's Update In My Wallet

Due to the fact that I've been tearing my house apart all night trying to find my wallet, there'll be no new ISB update tonight. It was just going to be about my trip to the gas station anyway, and I'll probably end up writing about it tomorrow, so you didn't really miss much.

In other news, if you happen to see my wallet, do not attempt to detain it yourself. It contains over four dollars, and should be considered dangerous. Just, you know, give me a call. My voter registration form is in there.

In other ISB news, back when I did the update about the Presitron, I got so super pumped that I drew a picture of the breakout star of the article (the Fonzie, if you will), the Vengeful Spirit of William Henry Harrison.

Our Ninth President Posted by Picasa

The picture's a lot like that, but looks like it might've been drawn by a third grader during second lunch. It's a high-quality one-of-a-kind piece of concept art composed in #2 Pencil on copy paper, and I'm thinking of giving it away as the prize in the first ever ISB contest.

Of course, I have no idea what the rules of said contest would be, or who would actually want that thing, but still. It bears thinking about.

Anyway, I'm going to go try to have a prophetic dream about the whereabouts of my wallet.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Surprise! I Bought Some More Comics This Week

Brandon and I went to go see the Bad News Bears tonight, and while it was pretty funny, it wasn't nearly as funny as what we saw when we got to the theater. Since we live in a state where the sun can shine while it's raining, the parking lot was almost flooded. So while Brandon's whining about not wanting to walk through the water, I point to this guy getting out of his car and say "What about that guy, Brandon? He's doing it."

"That guy?! Look at him, Chris. You want to be like that guy?"

I took a good look. Mullet. Dale Earnhardt cap. T-shirt covered with unidentifiable yellow stains.

"Good point," I said. Then I looked out the other window and saw a man who was holding his shoes, walking through the flooded parking lot in his bare feet.

"Let's just park over there."

When we actually got into the theater, we saw trailers for what may--MAY--be the three worst movies I've ever heard of.

There was Roll-Bounce, which essentially appears to be You Got Served on rollerskates, and features the irascable Nick Cannon. Second was Barnyard, a Nickelodeon film about cows who get revenge on the kids who tip them by stealing cars and going into their bedrooms at night and pushing them out of bed. It sounds funny, but trust me. Rough.

And then, we got the trailer for Disney's The Greatest Game Ever Played, which has the most hilariously cliched trailer since Ice Princess, wherein beautiful young actress Michelle Trachtenberg used algebra to learn to ice skate. It's... well, words don't do it justice. Here, just watch it yourself. It's beautiful and terrible. You will love it and despair.

None of this, of course, has any bearing on the comics I bought this week.

Here's what I bought:

  • Amazing Spider-Man #522 -- I like Spidey fighting the Hydravengers in theory, but it just leaves me feeling cold. Peter and MJ both come off like idiots, the internal monologue is rough, and I was perfectly happy never imagining Jarvis and Aunt May getting freaky naughty. Also, while Deodato's art isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, check out Spidey's pose on Page 6 and tell me that it's not laughable.
  • Astro City: The Dark Age #2
  • Batman: Dark Detective #6
  • Daredevil vs. Punisher #2 -- For those of you keeping score, we're well into the three-hundreds at this point. Lapham's run on Detective Comics killed any interest I had in reading Stray Bullets, but as you well know, if it's got the Punisher in it... Regardless, I'm really enjoying this one.
  • Flash #224
  • Hellblazer #210
  • Hellboy: The Island #2
  • JLA: Classified #10 -- Warren Ellis! Butch Guice! The Justice League! Perry White acting exactly like Mitchell Royce from Transmetropolitan! Don't ask, just buy it!
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #8
  • The Losers #26
  • Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere #2 -- When it's all said and done, I'm going to own this story in three completely different media. You win this round, Gaiman.
  • New X-Men: Academy X #16 and New X-Men: Hellions #3 -- I really enjoy this book. In fact, I like it so much that I think the only way they could possibly ruin it would be to kick of the writers that created the book and its new characters and put a shitty teenage whore with foot-claws on the team. Hm? What's that? ... Oh.
  • Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Avengers 2005 -- I've got all of these so far except the Incredible Hulk one, and I'm pretty sure that this is the only Official Handbook that includes the word "nutsack."
  • The OMAC Project #4 -- Dear Greg Rucka, Thank you for writing awesome comics. OMACs make me happy. Wonder Woman makes me happy. Tara Chace makes me happy... and also makes me feel a little, you know, squishy inside. Your buddy, Chris.
  • Queen & Country: Declassified v.3 #2
  • Runaways #6
  • Silent Dragon #1
  • Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #33: Or, as I like to call it, Jim Balent's Attempt to Finally Kill Me (Part 2 of 4). I take a lot of crap for buying this one every month, but let's face it: If I hadn't read the worst comic coming out for two years now, I never would've made it through the Box of Punishment. Each issue is a descent into madness that surpasses the previous ones in terms of sheer awfulness. What sets this one aside? Well how about zombie vaginas, pictures of Jim Balent dressed up as Darth Vader, and graphic photographs of surgery. Add that to the usual madness, and, well, let's just say that I'm starting to think that having eyes is more trouble than it's worth. Remember, kids: Magic with a C's for you and me! Magick with a K, stay away!
  • Wonder Woman #219

Shake 'Em Up, Shake 'Em Up, Shake 'Em

Like Cube says, I've got to say it was a good day. In fact, I'd be willing to go so far as to say that the Chris Sims Good Day Trifecta was in play.

Not to get too terribly self-indulgent here, but let's take a look at the stats:

1. Had lunch with Julie, which was a lot of fun. For those of you keeping score at home, I did talk about the Karate Kid, but stopped myself from bringing up the Punisher. So really, it's one for two at this point.

2. Hung out over at Tug's for a few hours after work, playing a game that may or may not have involved rolling several polyhedral dice. It actually went really well, and I think everybody had some fun.

3. Came home to find that not one, but two people over on MySpace wanted to be my friend.

This last one was pretty surprising, to be honest, and you may be asking yourself why there was a sudden spike of interest in me that translates mathematically to an increase of over infinity percent. The answer, my friends, is simple:

National Public Radio.

There is no single force on this earth, not politics, not religion, not even Star Wars, that will bring people together like the bond shared by those who have to be near a radio every Saturday to see if it's a new This American Life this week. And apparently Chad and Scott weren't the only ones who wanted trading cards.

Suffice to say, I'm pleased. Which means, gentle reader, that it's going to take me at least until tomorrow to build up the levels of vitriol I need to write about this week's comics, so in the meantime, I've been working on Heroes of Public Radio Series 2. And don't say your Uncle Chris never gave you a sneak preview:

Fresh Air's Terry Gross

Roll your mouse over for the back of the card!

It's a quarter to three in the morning, and I just spent an hour making that. Ladies, please try to control yourselves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This Is Awesome and That's a Fact


That is all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Special Guest Update: Tales from the Gulag

Sims here. I'm wiped out by the 111-degree heat from today, so please enjoy the following guest update from the irascable, inimitable, unstoppable B. Flake. He gives a fresh perspective on those customers who camp out in the gameroom on Saturday saying things like: "Tyranids rock, man," and "crap, he's out of command, I need to rally." They're a special breed.

And yes. There's an appearance by the cap'n. Read on, Macduff.

Hello, friends. I’m B. Flake. You may remember me from previous ISB entries, where I’m noted for such quotes as "Your mom," "Sims is gay," and "Rob, you stupid Jap" [Ed. Note: This is true, but it's a term of endearment. Everyone else just gets called "you queer"]. So a few days ago Sims and I were up at the shop and Sims says to me, "You know Flake you should write a guest entry for my blog."

I was like, "Yeah sure, but what topic?"

"What else? The Cap'n."

Eerily Lifelike Artist's Rendering by J. Martinez Posted by Picasa

That guy's always a reccurring topic of interest at the store, but for some reason The Cap’n, as I’ve taken to calling him, has managed to not piss me off in the last few weeks. So this entry has (d?)evolved into a series of short stories detailing the adventures of myself and usually Mr. Benjamin Burnside, badamaduese extraordinaire, in the Wizards and Villains game room. You’ll have to forgive me because it’s been some time since I did any writing and I’m actually interested in this little project, so it may become a little long-winded.

1. Freeloader Kid and the Gimmie Gimmies

This story is set in the time approximately two to three years ago when I played two card games called War Cry and Warlord. I had been playing these games for the majority of the day and doing pretty well. It was early, and Ben and I were just sitting down for a game when this kid walks up to us and says, "Hey you guys got any cards you wanna trade?"

Ben says, "For what game?"

The kid replies, "Oh I don’t have any cards..."

Later that day...

I’m playing cards with some other people and suddenly someone says, "My deck’s gone!" So we go about searching the entire room. I was convinced it had to be one of the Magic: The Gathering kids because I’d been making it a point to piss them off for the last few weeks. We continue looking for some time with no luck. Suddenly, who should appear but none other than little Card Shark McThief-ass who promptly pulls the deck case out of his pocket, claims that his sister took it, and sticks out his hand to ask if he gets a reward for returning it. To this day I still don’t remember there being a sister, and I definitely don’t remember there being a reward handed out.

2. World History 101

So there I was in the game room sitting down talking to Ben and my roommate, Robbi Rae Robbison (that’s right: R³ from Gaston, SC), when across the store I spot the Cap’n strolling in. I quickly search for an exit and realize that I’m foiled yet again by there being only one entrance/exit to the game room. He waddles up with his 583 pounds (actual weight here... I don’t make this kind of stuff up) of gaming crap that he lugs around on some sort of makeshift hand truck and immediately begins talking to me about ways of warfare. Now I’m no stranger to war stories and war discussion, I’ve heard more WWII stories from my grandfather than you can shake a stick at. However, I prefer the ones that are 1) understandable and 2) true.

So he’s going on about the pike and how it’s great for defending against Cavalry. Well it’s getting the better of me so I can’t help but add my sarcastic two cents, "Yeah you know the pike was used in every major army until the late 1820s." The reply almost knocked me out of my seat:

"No actually it was the 1920s and they called it a bayonet."

Now I could be wrong but the last time I checked the bayonet was a handy tool ATTACHED TO THE END OF A GUN used for melee combat at the approximate distance of 3-4 feet. Webster defines "pike" as: "a heavy spear with a very long shaft used by infantry especially in Europe from the Middle Ages to the 18th century."

By this time my two fine companions have long since left me in the dust. Fearing that I’ve been doomed to martyrdom, I come up with the perfect escape to freedom. "Yeah man that’s cool and all but I think that Sims is calling me up front so I’ll catch you later."

3. Sticks Were Made For Beating

I find myself playing the Dungeons and Dragons miniatures game on this particular day, which is actually a rare occasion for me since I don’t own any miniatures for it. From time to time I’ll use some of Ben’s war bands against him if he needs to practice for a tournament, or if we’re just killing time. So I’m taking my turn, and all at once I feel heavy breathing over my right shoulder. Now I've spent most of my life in the outdoors as a woodsman and hunter, and I realize immediately that this could be none other than the vast lung capacity of a great brown grizzly bear. I decide to proceed with extreme caution so as not to enrage the beast.

Then suddenly a hand descends from the heavens and I hear "Man he’s a beat-stick, he’s a beat-stick!"

I turn around, expecting to see the gaping maw of the nerdiest grizzly bear in history, and find to my surprise the stupid, toothy grin of none other than ex-Subway Employee and hemorrhoid extraordinaire, Dewey. I nod in his general direction and return my glare to the table, only to notice a hand still pointing at some 10 point spud. Once again, I hear "He’s a beat-stick man!"

Now I’m a God-fearing man, but there comes some times in life when I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have a problem if I just took things into my own hands. We obviously can’t rely on natural selection to weed them all out. While I’m thinking to myself, "Yes, while he is quite the formidable adversary, I’m relatively certain that this fifty some-odd point gentleman over here is much more of a 'beat-stick' than his comrade that you’re referring to," I reluctantly decided to take the easy way out, nod, and say, "Yes... yes he is."

Well, I believe that is all of the Flake that the ISB can handle for one sitting. I thank you all for reading through my little cameo here and also would like to thank the man, the myth, the legend, Chris 'B.M.F' Sims for the air time. Hopefully you enjoyed it and if not, well... it was free.

--B. Flake

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Weirdest Thing I Saw Today

First things first: The boycott of Wizard World Atlanta has pretty much assured that HeroesCon '06 is going to be awesome. You may remember, gentle reader, that I was way too drunk and angry to enjoy this past one, but with Warren Ellis, who thrives on drunkenness and anger, in attendance, I'm already crazy excited.

So, I'd like to take this opportunity to formally announce that I'll be boycotting WWA as well. So assuming my story for Gone to Texas is done by next Summer, you know where to find me. I'll be the one trying desperately to get in.

Anyway, onto tonight's alleged hilarity.

Today I saw a one-armed man with a porn-star handlebar moustache riding a peppermint-colored moped on the way to lunch.

And that was not the weirdest thing I saw today. And neither was the Cap'n's new haircut, which serves to lend him an air of credibility right up until he opens his mouth.

No, the honor goes to a set of Smallville DVDs that I saw while I was over at Radical C's tonight. I'd gone over to discuss philosophy and the politics of the day (read: to get hamburgers and talk about how awesome Justice League was this weekend), and the box on the table caught my eye.

Now I'm a typical American consumer and I work in a comic book store, so it's fair to say that I've seen the box before. I'm reasonably familiar with what it looks like, so I was pretty surprised to see a wifebeater drawn by hand onto Tom Welling's chest in magic marker.

Now Chad's a doodler. He works Wednesday nights, and I can't come in on Thursday morning without seeing a picture of a t-shirt wearing ape or somesuch, but still, this seemed a little extreme. And what's more, it begged the question.

Well, I'm the guy who struck up a conversation about mortuary science with the director of my grandmother's funeral as she was being buried, so it's fair to say that I'm not the sort that lets a begged question go unasked. The answer, however, was worth it.

Chad got the DVD from a friend of his that insisted he watch it, and when he got the DVD, he asked the same question I did: What's up with Clark's sharpie wifebeater?

"Man, I got tired of looking at some dude's bare chest," the guy replied.

"But look," Chad said to me as he explained the story, "The way he drew it on there, it's a tight black halter top! He gave Tom Welling a belly-shirt!"

And Great Rao, it was.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Justice League of America #168 is Unusually Creepy

Being able to order pizza online is the greatest achievement of our society to date.

That's right, even after sleeping until 3:30 in the afternoon, I couldn't even muster up enough energy to talk to another human being on the phone, let alone actually leave the house. It's how I plan on spending my days off for the next three months until the weather patterns stop acting like I live on the planet Arrakis.

I also intend to walk without rhythm at every opportunity.

Anyway, despite the fact that I had the self-motivation of a common garden slug today, I did get one thing done. I read what might be the creepiest issue of Justice League ever made:

Click to Unholy Ritual-size it!

You might recognize that issue from its cameo appearance in Identity Crisis as the second part of the famous "Switcheroo" story by Gerry Conway wherin the Secret Society of Super-Villains switch bodies with the JLA. What's more, they're all lined up across from each other on the cover across from whoever they switch with.

Real quick, take a good long look at the lineup there and see if you can spot the problem.

I got this issue as a gift from Dr. Kunka a few weeks back when I had lunch with him. He has a habit of giving me duplicates from his own collection, and was responsible for giving me the second Warren Ellis comic I ever read. That said, he summed it up best in an email to me:

After re-reading them, I remembered, even as a naive ten year old, being disturbed by a couple of things. First of all, after the villains switch places with the heroes, the heroes are imprisoned, but the villains don't bother to take their weapons away, like the Wizard's supernatural artifacts, Star Sapphire's gem, etc.

This, of course, allows the heroes to defeat the villains in the end.

Also, and more disturbingly, The Floronic Man trades places with Wonder Woman. Even at 10, I found this too perverse, and I couldn't understand why he didn't just say to the other villains, "Look--you guys go pull off whatever big heist you've got planning. I'll be spending the next two weeks looking at myself naked."

That's right, Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man (known in this issue as Plant-Master) gets to live the dream of being inside Wonder Woman. And what's more, when the fighting finally commences, he's defeated by being tied up in Wonder Woman's own lasso ("Since she can't even break free of it, once bound by its golden loops!") by the Flash.

So yeah, a little weird. And that's not even getting into the part where Superman proves his identity later by saying that instead of putting the villains into an unbreakable diamond and sending them to orbit the solar system, like his doppelganger does, "it would have been easier just to send us directly through time!" Welcome to Pre-Crisis DC, folks.

Of course, the real treat for me in this issue wasn't the story, it was the ads. Between a fruit pie ad starring the Joker and a half-pager advising you to augment your comics reading with a stack of Slim Jims was an ad starring disgraced baseball hero and Cincinnatti's favorite son, Pete Rose.

Yep, ol' Charlie Hustle, who was playing for the Phillies at the time, is telling a bunch of kids that with a little Pete Rose Batting Practice, they could be just like him! He helps out the kids for a full nine panels, and not once does the phrase "beat the spread" appear.

Note to Major League Baseball: PUT HIM IN THE HALL OF FAME.

Either that, or the letter column, where Mike W. Barr says that the events of Justice League #160 seem "to have brought undercover Elongated Man fans out of the closet."

Sometimes it's too easy even for me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Out on the Town

The temperature at work continues to build to Muspelheim-esque levels. I'm pretty sure the Boss is using the incredible heat to forge a Ring of Power that will give him dominion over all of the Midlands, and it's starting to get to the point where it's downright intolerable.

Around six, Ben and I just lost it and started slapping each other in the face for the next hour. This was right before the insane heat was replaced by rain coming down so hard it went sideways, which Ben's wife referred to as "unnatural."

But all was not lost, for today is Josh Howard's birthday. Not the one who draws comics, the one that I work with. And to celebrate, a crew of us went out to a bar called The Red Tub, a cool little second-story joint that featured a bartender who was gorgeous.

The big deal, though, was that Rob "Soul Brother #1" Lindsey was playing a show, so after I bought Josh a Red Bull and Vodka to celebrate (he's 21 today, after all), the plan was to head over to New Brookland for some rockin' out.

When we got to the door, though, I wasn't feeling too well, so I told the guys to make my apologies and went to head home. Halfway down the street, however, I changed my mind. As Tug would say, I "flipped the bitch switch back off," and punked back in, only to have Josh burn me with his cigarette for my troubles.

But hey, when it's your birthday, you can commit whatever minor acts of violence on your friends that you want.

Rob, needless to say, rocked the house party at the drop of a hat. He played all the favorites, including Bad News Lady and a little song called Stages that I didn't realize was a break-up song until I listened to it the day after my ex broke up with me.

But here's the thing: The air conditioner at New Brookland was broken. And since they were having a CD release party, they were serving free Mexican food, which is traditionally served hot and was being kept warm by nice open flames. And the place was packed.

It was a frigg'n sauna in there.

I couldn't take it. Between the Hot Tin Roof of the shop and my own massive lunch of delicious Mexican food, I think there was a very real danger of me exploding like that guy from Scanners. So when Rob finished up his set, I bailed out.

This was, of course, all a mere preview of the chaos that will be unleashed on Columbia tomorrow when we actually celebrate Josh's birthday. I fully expect it to crack the internet in half, so there won't be an ISB update tomorrow night. But be on the lookout saturday for a little installment I like to think of as "Fat P.'s Tales of Debauchery."

As for right now, I'm going to go stand in front of the freezer for the next three hours and try to remember what winter feels like.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hot Hot Heat

Close your eyes. Give me your hand. Can you feel my heart beating? Do you understand? Do you feel the same... am I only dreaming? Or is this burning because it's A HUNDRED AND FRIGG'N THREE DEGREES OUTSIDE?!

Here's what it was like working at the shop today:

Frigg'n Sweltering. Posted by Picasa

The shop is pretty big. In terms of square footage, we're probably one of the biggest comic book stores in the country. Which also means that we have one of the biggest metal roofs, and considering that Columbia is, oh, let's say about three miles away from the surface of the Sun, it can get a mite hot in there. Around August, you can come in and find us splayed out behind the counter, praying for a just and benevolent God to end His firey wrath.

Is it any wonder I'm ready to crack at any minute and throttle faux-Jerry-Onlys to within an inch of their lives?

And the internet isn't helping. Between taking a survey last week that went from "Which of these television channels are you aware of?" to "Hey, did you know the Mythbusters are hosting Shark Week this year?!" and the increasingly strange referrals that are leading people here, I've been reduced to quoting the Bangles. Let's take a look at today's search engine highlights, won't you?

Google: "all star batman and robin" vale underwear - Considering in my discussion of this issue, I talked about Vicki Vale tarting around in her panties (oh the hits I'll get off that phrase), this one isn't entirely unwarranted. Still: Creepy.

Yahoo: "asshole milkshake" - If you know what this is, it's probably the worst thing you've ever heard of, unless you routinely go looking for things like that.

Google: jerry springer amputate four limbs - You, my friend, require more help than even Uncle Chris can provide.

And my personal favorite:

Google Images: naughty spiderman

I've always said that the mission of the ISB is to lead me to total internet dominance, but... not like this... not like this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Public Service Announcement

In the past few years of working at a comic book store, it's come to my attention that some of you out there just don't know how you should behave in public. But don't fret, children, even if your parents were too busy huffing ether to raise you properly, Uncle Chris is here to straighten you out.

If you're thinking about coming into a comic shop, please don't insist on wearing your sunglasses at all times, even when you're indoors. At night. In the dead of winter. Your future is not so bright that you have to wear shades. By all accounts, your future is dismal.

Also, don't wander around the store shouting things like: "Jeremy, you have to come to DragonCon this year. They have a costume contest, Jeremy, where girls dress like Dawn!" in the most nasal and annoying voice possible.

If you do, the people who work at that store are going to laugh at you.

But above all, for the love of God, do not come to that store first thing in the morning, go to the bathroom, and use the sink to wet your hair in an attempt to look like Misfits frontman Jerry Only. It's a look that you can't pull off, and the fact that you made the attempt in a comic book store bathroom with your sunglasses STILL ON is just creepy and weird.

And not only will the staff mock you, but they will want to never stop hitting you.

Monday, July 18, 2005

R. Kelly Has Ruined Everything

Saturday night, I was briefly distracted from the new Harry Potter by my friend Jennifer, who was back in town to visit. She and Brandon came over, and we had a great time.

But at one point in the evening, she turned to me and asked, "Chris, have you heard of R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet Chapters 1-5?"

Those were the last words that the old Chris Sims ever heard, because once you've been exposed to Trapped in the Closet, you can never be the same again. Like Rorschach, I was remade by an act of sheer brutality. Except that this one was perpetrated by a noted watersports enthusiast against the listening public, and should be swiftly punished.

Here's the High Concept: It's a single song that stretches across five music videos, each telling a chapter in the story. Brilliant, right? Yeah, except that this particular song has no rhyme scheme or meter, and is also terrible. I'm pretty sure that the minute this hit the screens, the people in charge of VH1's "Awesomely Bad" shows called their wives and told them to put the candles on the table and uncork the champagne, because work for the next few years was done. Let's press on, shall we?

Chapter 1 opens with Kelly (more commonly known these days as "The Defendant") crafting a world wherein everyone is a faithless lech who demands nothing less than absolute fidelity from their respective mates. See? That's called conflict.

Anyway, back to the point, R. Kelly wakes up in some gal's house and flips out because he fell asleep instead of going home with his wife. Also, he's surprised by this. Enter Mary, who tells he can't leave because her husband Rufus is coming up the stairs. R dives into the nearest hiding place, Rufus comes in, and he is--drumroll please--trapped in the closet. So Mary and Rufus start getting their freak on (are the kids still saying that?), and R. Kelly gets mad, but while he's seething, his cell phone rings. So he does the sensible thing and pulls a gun on Rufus while he's stalking around the apartment looking for his wife's paramour.

End Chapter 1. And believe me, that doesn't even come close to how insipid this thing actually is. For one thing, it's the most unnecessary video ever because Kelly is singing everything that goes on, and the other actors just mouth along with what he's singing whenever he does their dialogue.

My favorite part? Think of that song from Space Jam and then imagine if in the middle he caterwauled "I quickly try to put it on viiiiiiiiiibrate!"

In Chapter 2, Rufus and Mary--who is actually named Cathy--have a big argument, all while being held at gunpoint by R. Kelly, who says he wants to solve the problem "Christian-like," while pointing his piece at Rufus's head. But Rufus plays his trump card on the unfaithful Mary/Cathy: HE's been having an affair too! WITH A MAN!

See, Rufus has been trapped in the closet too, but THIS time it's a metaphor! Ah-what a twist!

Chapter 3. When he tries to call home and some guy answers the phone (which is a better rhyme than you'll find in this train wreck, by the way), R. Kelly finally realizes he's in the second segment of Four Rooms and decides to get the hell out of there. He bails, leaving Cathy, Rufus (who, incidentally, is a pastor), and Rufus's partner on the Down-Low Express, Chuck to their own devices.

In Chapter 4, he's in such a hurry that he gets pulled over by a cop--complete with R. Kelly making the siren noise in the song, I swear to God--who gives him a ticket, even though he's just escaped from a bad episode of the Red Shoe Diaries.

Finally, he gets home to confront his lady for her suspected infidelity, which she explains by saying her brother Tron answered the phone. Then they immediately start having sex, in one of the most unintentionally hilarious attempts at eroticism that I've seen in my entire life. ("Then she cries out 'Oh my goodness, I'm about to cliiiiii-max!' / And I say 'Cool, fine, just let go my leg!'") But then he finds a used condom in the bed.

Did I mention that every chapter ends with a little reverb, so that when he says "I pull back the co-ver / oh my God a rub-ber!" you get a nice little echo effect that might just kill you if you're not ready for it?

I'd describe Chapter 5 as the "denoument," if literary terms crafted by mere mortals applied to this thing anymore. R. Kelly's mad at Mrs. Kelly because she had an affair, Mrs. Kelly's mad because R. Kelly had an affair (and also held three people hostage for about ten minutes, but she doesn't know about that part yet), and we find out that Mrs. Kelly's friend Roxanne introduced her to Chuck, who knows Rufus, whose wife Cathy went to high school with her, and THAT'S how she met the cop from Chapter 4!


I'm telling you, you've got to see it to truly appreciate its monolithic awfulness. But here's what makes it transcend our frail human ideas of good and bad:

Chapters 6-10 are on their way. They will have nothing to do with Chapters 1-5.

Chapters 11-15 will be the remix of Chapters 1-5.

And that's how R. Kelly ruined everything.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Book

So now that I've finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I finally feel like I can tell the story of how I came to acquire the book.

I actually had two copies reserved, one in Columbia and one down here in the SMT, but since I know some of the people who work at the Waldenbooks by work (including my Main Man), I decided to get my copy up there at midnight, giving my other reservation to Brandon.

But first, Tug and I went over to the Barnes & Noble across town to see what was shaking over there. One of our good customers, Julie, had said that was where she was getting her copy, and that we should stop by and check it out. I doubt she was expecting us to actually show up, but we did anyway, because that's how we roll.

The place was packed, and collectively, the crowd at B&N was sporting more eyeglasses than I've ever seen in my life--and I'm talking prescription lenses here, not the Harry Potter ones they were giving out. Not that that's a complaint; I like a girl in glasses. Especially if she happens to be wearing a schoolgirl-skirt-and-necktie "costume." Come to think of it, I wasn't aware that Cho Chang ever sported fishnet stockings, but hey, you learn something every day.

I did meet up with Julie, as it turns out, and I had a good time talking to her and looking at the pictures she'd taken, until the First Interloping John of the night showed up and interposed himself between us. I excused myself, returning to say goodbye to Julie, and then Tug and I split for Waldenbooks. As we left, I walked past a redneck in his forties who was loitering with his kids in the magazine section. "Man," he said in a thick southern accent, "I been waitin' forever fer this book."

I was struck by the thought that Harry Potter's a phenomenon that stretches across boundaries to appeal to so many groups of people. And yet I can't find a single person to talk to about it besides Chan who doesn't want to see Harry and Malfoy have sex with each other. I hate you all.

In contrast to Barnes & Noble, an upscale store that seems to cater to the pretty people of the literary set, the crowd at Waldenbooks was a little more disheartening. The mall is right next to the store where I work, so the crowd was one that I was familiar with. When we walked into the mall past a throng of people arguing about Star Wars, I knew I was back in my own element. It was weird, though, seeing some of our customers--some of whom I actively loathe, as I'm sure you're aware--out of their usual context.

It begged the question as to whether or not one of the guys I saw had given his real name for his book reservation, or if he'd told them to put it under the name of his counter-terrorist werewolf character like he does at Fuddrucker's.

Also, when it was finally time to get the book, I was in line behind a customer who only buys Japanese pornography and kid's books like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I spent my time in line trying desperately not to get ensnared by the hypnotic sight of his silvery back-hair bursting forth from the collar of his polo shirt.

I tore myself away when I finally got my book, thankfully preserving what little sanity I have left and followed the line up to the register. Rob (II) snapped my picture, then I paid and left, unaware that I was being shadowed by what would become the Second Interloping John of the night.

Like his predecessor before him, this guy was a customer at the store. This guy has spoken literally four words to me, and yet he felt compelled to follow me out the door to where Tug was waiting with Rob's lady-friend Becky--who greeted me with, "Oh, you're the one with the blog."

I didn't notice him at first until he started talking, and I swear to you, if he was actually going for me to be totally creeped out, this guy deserves a TV show. He was standing there with a big black S painted on his forehead, and as I feigned interest, he related the following tale:

"I walked up to the face paint table and they were all like hey let us put a lightning bolt on your forehead and I told them to put an S instead and they said 'S for Slytherin?' and I said 'No, S for Saruman, because HE'S THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.'"

Becky and her friends didn't know who Saruman was, so I had to explain it to them, and I got the impression that they thought we were together. If any of you are out there reading this, I don't even know that guy.

Shortly after he wandered off into the night, I caught sight of another customer of ours as he came out of the movie theater. Yes, friends, it was Sweet Sam the Legally Blind Gigolo, out on the town in a double-breasted white suit, white shirt, and white tie. I could barely speak, and just kept smacking Tug's arm and going: "Looklooklooklook over there!" as he got into a taxi. He was alone, leaving me to believe that some poor desperate woman had called him for a romantic encounter, and, faced with what she actually got, excused herself to the bathroom and never returned.

An eventful night on the town. For me, at least.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Burnout Week Tie-In: Contempt for the Audience

I'm going to go get my Harry Potter book, and you bitches can suck it.

Burnout Week Tie-In: Maybe the Best Moment of My Life

A recent search engine hit to the ISB:

Click to Substi-size it! Posted by Picasa

I'm the #1 result.

Burnout Week Tie-In: This Week's Comics

Despite the fact that I'm occasionally accused of being too jaded by my work at a comic book store to actually like comics anymore, I think I've established that I do indeed love them on many an occasion. So in order to answer a few questions and easily fill column-inches as Burnout Week continues, I thought I'd give you the list of comics I bought this week.

I figured it might also help any misconceptions that my comics reading is confined to prowling the Dollar Books for the next Heist or Punisher War Journal #19.

Let's get the big stuff out of the way first:

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #1: The subject of much weeping and gnashing of teeth at the shop, and not just because the logo really, really sucks. I'm the only one who doesn't actively hate it, and while I do admit to liking it, it's problematic. The main disappointments for me are that a) it's not a "new reader" (read: kid) friendly Batman book (don't get me wrong: I'm a fan of profanity, but when you drop "Goddamn" on page 4, I get a little skittish), and b) it's Ultimate Batman. Which there's nothing wrong with, per se, but They told us it wasn't going to be Ultimate Batman, and, well, it is. That said--and I know I'm going to look back on this in a month and hate myself--I think Jim Lee's art has never looked better for me, and having Vicki Vale tart around in her underwear for what, four pages is certainly pleasing to the eye. Which brings us to...

The Art of Josh Howard v.1: I've never read Dead@17. I most likely never will. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it. But I do like the way that guy draws hot teenagers in their panties and neckties, and when you've got the Wizards and Villains Sweet Employee Discount™, there's no reason not to get a book like this. Howard's pinup-style art is better than his sequential work, and I get the feeling the complete and utter lack of any pictures of guys means he knows his audience well. It's a slick-looking collection of hot punkish schoolgirls in their underwear, and that makes him my second-favorite guy named Josh Howard. Fortunately, my Trade Paperback budget allowed for a little indulgence like this, since I bought..

The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: See? You're allowed to get a stroke book if you pick up Will Eisner's last major work along with it. Seriously, though, I'm excited about this one for the simple fact that it looks awesome. But I'll eat my tennis racquet if it's as awesome as...

Seven Soldiers: The Guardian #3: Holy crap, this book is amazing. It's the most Kirby-esque comic I've ever read, and I wrote a comic that actually had Jack Kirby in it. Everything about this book, from the cover where the Guardian stands atop the world taking on all comers, to the tense emotional drama and two-fisted action inside, right on to the amazing "next issue" teaser at the end... It's just incredible. Which, since it's Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart, comes as no surprise.

And now for the rest of it, in anal-retentive alphabetical order:

Action Comics #829: "Sacrifice" starts to shape up a little bit. I read all the Superman books and I was thrown for a loop by the first part of the story, but this one I enjoyed. Gail Simone brought another nice touch of Kirby, which I enjoyed, and Byrne's pencils are pretty good. Still, I'm iffy about the storyline in general, especially the way it seems to turn out. This would also seem to be a good place to mention that I thought Villains United #3 was a piece of beautiful music handed down from the gods themselves to soothe a weary world.

Angel: The Curse #2: Shut up.

Banana Sunday #1: I've been looking forward to this for a long while, and I was very happy with the result. Colleen Coover is one of those artists whose work is just fun to look at, and the story's really enjoyable. It was nice to see her draw a guy, too, which I've never seen before. Also, and I know she's going to be getting this from everyone and I apologize in advance, but I really did kind of expect Nickels and Kirby to start making out.

The Breach #7: Why aren't more people reading this book? I mean, I know it's essentially a big Captain Atom revamp, but it might be the best new DC ongoing in years. It's well-written, and Marcos Martin's art sings. I generally follow writers, so it's strange that this is the third time already that I'm focusing on the artist, but it's just really pretty. And look, it says "Villains United Tie-In" on the cover, and it actually ties in. Good superhero stuff.

Desolation Jones #2: Warren Ellis and JH Williams. I don't have to say anything else, but I will: The scenes with Emily Crowe are just heartbreaking.

Fables #39: Top notch every month for the past three years.

The Freshmen #1: I'll admit, I'm buying this because Seth Green is one of those actors that comes off like he'd be a really cool guy. I enjoyed it, but I'm hoping it picks up a little in the second issue.

Invincible #24: Again, top notch every month. What Ultimate Spider-Man should be.

JLA #116: Not bad, but nothing to write home about just yet. I'm starting to feel like an old man in that I want superheroes to punch villains instead of each other once in a while.

Man with the Screaming Brain #3: Oy. Bruce Campbell has been my idol ever since I saw Army of Darkness when I was nine, a moment that I still maintain changed my life. He's inspired and entertained me for years, and now I'm repaying him by reading a comic full of sight gags that would be a lot funnier on film. Best issue so far, but kind of unnecessary, even wrapped in a nice Eric Powell cover.

New Avengers #7: I loathe this book, and yet I can't stop buying it. Steve McNiven is fantastic, and yet he always ends up paired with writers I can't stand (the abortive Ultimate Secret excepted). Still, he drew the hottest Sue Storm I've ever seen, and when the scantily clad teenager shows up in this one, in a scene WAY more uncomfortable than anything in the Josh Howard book, she's hot too. Like all recent Bendis comics, if it gets interesting, it's only on the last two pages. I bugged Jim about doing a parody of this one with him, so I don't want to spoil all my jokes.

New Thunderbolts #10: The best of Marvel's "new" titles. I mentioned tonight that this book has the misfortune of being roped into companywide crossovers every three issues, but it rolls with it and comes out on top the best it can. Chad's got some good theories about the Swordsman, and I'm looking forward to seeing it play out. That will, of course, have to wait until the House of M tie-in is over.

The Punisher #23: C'mon. You knew this was on here.

Rann-Thanagar War #3: As much as I hate to admit it, this one bores me. I loved the Adam Strange mini, and I think it's weird that the big event that that series leads into happens off-panel. I think it's the weakest of the Infinite Crisis tie-ins, but still, not entirely unenjoyable.

Serenity #1: The Cassaday cover, why do you ask?

Ultimate X-Men #61: Brian Vaughan's doing a good job with it, and Stuart Immonen, as they say, ain't no joke. Millar's run was all about re-doing the Claremont/Byrne stuff, but Vaughan's seems to be about taking crappy characters that were big in the '90s (read: Mr. Sinister) and doing new and different things with them, and I can get behind that.

The Walking Dead #20: Wow, I actually forgot I had this one until I was going through the stack. Still need to read it. As much as I like Kirkman and as good as it is, I'm ready for this book to end. There's only so much you can do with flesh-eating hordes of the undead, unfortunately, and introducing a new character who doesn't talk much and carries a katana is a sure sign that you might've jumped the shark.

Wildguard: Fool's Gold #1: Todd Nauck's a really nice guy, and Wildguard is a fun series. Who wouldn't like a character called Blaction Figure? Unfortunately, Blaction Figure didn't make the cut, and this becomes the third comic I bought this week with a hot schoolgirl in it, meaning I have a serious and creepy problem.

Wonder Woman: Underrated and awesome. Greg Rucka is the shizzle, fo' rizzle.

And that's it, not counting the new Marvel Mini-Mates, which I also bought.

Holy Crap I buy a lot of comics.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Burnout Week Tie-In: Three Pictures of Bizarnage

Ladies and Gentlemen...


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Burnout Week Continues

You might've been noticing that ever since I blew the lid off the Scientology/Brother Blood conspiracy, the words in my posts have been lacking in both quality and quantity. There are three distinct possibilities for this:

1. Xenu has afflicted me with a curse. Remotely possible, considering I've noticed a reduction in both my Armor Class and my previously indomitable Charisma. However, I don't remember viewing any super-collossal 3-D motion pictures, so I doubt it.

2. Bryan Lee O'Malley totally freaking blew my mind by referencing River City Ransom ("hailed by non-retards as the greatest game of all time." --Seanbaby) in the first part of Scott Pilgrim v.2. This definitely did happen, and also served to put Bryan Lee O'Malley permamently on my list of heroes.

3. We are now in the throes of summer, where in order to combat the heat borne of living roughly three miles from the surface of the frigg'n sun, I have done nothing for the past week but play board games and listen to Tug get yelled at by asshole French customers. Now while that is entertaining as heck to watch, it doesn't translate well to text.

Also, I keep wanting to respond to reader mail, but even with my address right over there in the sidebar, none of The Ladies have emailed me their private thoughts. Their private sexy thoughts.

Instead, I get this:

Click to G-Size it! Posted by Picasa

Don't you patronize me, Gmail.

Anyway, I'm officially declaring this a Burnout Week and taking a few days off. I might post something, but don't expect the kind of alleged "quality" you've become used to.

I mean, I was reading the letter columns in back issues of Tarot today, and--aside from abject horror--there was nothing. And trust me, if I can't make fun of those cats, I'm not fit for duty.

Alas, Poor Chair

Ladies and gentlemen, it is the end of an era.

My chair has finally broken.

Now, this might not seem like a great bit of news to you people, but trust me: It is. And not just because I've been playing a lot of board games recently and those don't make for exciting reading.

It was after playing one of those very games tonight that I walked back over to my computer, content to sit down and bang out a few hundred words of pure genius for the teeming masses. But alas, it was not to be.

When I sat down in my chair, as I have virtually every day for at least the past five years, The right side of the chair back broke off from the frame, falling listlessly.

For those of you familiar with my intense and abiding laziness, it should come as no surprise that I write from the comfort of a recliner, but it seems even those have their limits. Now, I am set adrift in a sea of stiff-backed office chairs whose leather seats interfere with my desire to write jokes about Brian Pulido whilst wearing little to no pants.

It was inevitable, I suppose. You can't throw yourself down into a chair every day and engage in the sort of T. Catt-related activity in which I may or may not partake without suffering the eventual consequences.

I go now to mourn.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Into the Subtle Realms

Not to Lovecraft it up too much, but last night I finally finished my first game of Arkham Horror, playing with Brandon against dead Cthulhu himself. Brandon was, unfortunately, both lost in time and space and devoured, and I was forced to take a shotgun to ol' Squidface all by my lonesome, but what's important is that I won.

Needless to say, I had strange dreams.

Thanks to Scott, dreams are often a topic of discussion around the shop, and the one I had last night strikes me as odd for a number of reasons.

Now it's not as outright weird as the one I had where I was getting married to a hot vampire girl, and her family was causing such a ruckus at the reception that I stomped across their table and threatened to "go Christmas in here." And it didn't leave me with the same feeling of terror as that one where I had to wrestle Triple H for the WWE Championship in the first WresleMania to be broadcast live from the surface of the Moon, but still. It was bizarre.

The whole thing started with a recurring dream that I have where I'm trying to get through a city. It's not like a real city, but more like one from a video game, just a few streets that are laid out to make getting from Point A to Point B a little harder than usual.

Anyway, the problem here is that school just got out and the streets are filled with students. But these aren't normal students, they're from some kind of crazy Rock 'n' Roll School! So I'm trying to get through a videogame city crowded with teenagers who look like they just stepped out of a music video.

The recurring part ends when I finally get to my destination, which turns out to be a buffet-style restaurant. You know, like your Ryan's or your Fire Mountain or what have you. But this one is frigg'n massive.

So I wander around the place for a while until I spot TV's Tom Bergeron.

Yeah, I know. I was surprised to see the former host of Hollywood Squares show up in my dream, too.

So I walk over to him and start talking about how I really enjoyed his work when he was on FX in 1994, hosting all of the network's original programming. And he starts acting like a total dick. I distinctly remember thinking that I might've called him "Tom Beringer" by accident, because that was the only thing I could think of for how rude he was being.

Then he started talking about how he had just gotten over leukemia, and I didn't know what to say so I just said that at least he had nice hair.

"This?" he said, grabbing at his hair and starting to peel it off of his head. "It's fake. A fuckin' hairpiece."

He smoothed it back out and I thanked him for his time and left.

[Note: To my knowledge, Tom Bergeron is neither bald, nor has he ever been afflicted with leukemia.]

So while I'm walking around, I pass the dessert tray, and I see the most awesome thing ever: A Rice Krispie Treat made with M&Ms inside that had an entire slice of cheesecake on top, topped with whipped cream.

It was amazing. If anybody ever actually makes it, I request that it be called a Sims.

I grabbed it and then walked over to where my mother, her boyfriend, and my ex-girlfriend Melanie are eating, but I can't sit down because TOM BERGERON IS IN MY SEAT! And not only that, but he's laughing it up with everyone and having a great time until he spots me and goes immediately cold.

Why do you vex me in my sleep, Tom Bergeron?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Unausprechen Kulten, The Home Version

A few days ago I picked up Fantasy Flight Games' new Arkham Horror board game, and I've been excited about playing it ever since. I mean, who wouldn't want to sit around the coffee table pretending to battle the terrifying minions of Ithaqua with the fate of a small town in Massachusetts--nay, the world hanging in the balance?

Anyway, I figured that since today was my day off, I'd get a chance, so the first thing I did this morning was flip through my copy Nameless Cults: The Cthulhu Mythos Stories of Robert E. Howard to prepare myself. But between that and my recent delvings into the horrifying secrets of Xenu, I've apparently gained too much Secret Knowledge™.

That could be why Cthulhu raised his dead fist from the icy depths of Rl'yeh and crushed the starter of the Invincible Super-Car, nearly driving me mad in the process.

I only have car trouble when Aldebaran is above the horizon.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Cult Cage Match: Scientology vs. The Church of Blood!

Despite the fact that MG3 referred to me as "Limbaugh, Jr." a few weeks ago, I think of myself as fairly liberal, especially when it comes to religion. I consider my own beliefs about spirituality to be a pretty personal thing and rarely discuss them (except, of course, when it comes to the half-hour Christian radio drama Adventures in Odyssey), so I'm generally cool with whatever you want to worship.

That said, Scientology is fucking insane.

Now that's not some big revelation that I'm dropping on you or anything. I think that it's something we all know instinctively, like how we know not to touch fire or stick things in our eyes. But for some reason, a lot of folks have gotten the notion that it's not at all bat-shit nuts, and so I decided as a public service to put Scientology to the test by comparing it to one of my favorite cults, the Church of Blood!

The Basics
Scientology is a religion started in 1952 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who was famously quoted as saying: "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." The basic principle seems to be that you've got--in addition to your physical body--an alien soul, or "thetan" rattling around in your head. The thetan can remember its past lives, wherein it was run over by a Martian bishop riding a steamroller, and that's the reason you're not happy.

The Church of Blood is a messianic cult started by a fallen missionary named Brother Sebastian in the 1300s outside of the nation of Zandia. He found what may be a cape that belonged to Jesus and declared himself Brother Blood, the title which his eight successors have taken as leaders of the cult. Details are a little sketchy, but mostly it involves rivers of blood and fighting the Teen Titans in an effort to bring about the end of the world.

Pretty even so far, although in actuality the Church of Blood was created by Marv Wolfman, who is by all acounts a really nice guy.

The Good Guys
Both of these groups have an incredible amount of reverence for their leaders, they key difference being that one of them has a sweet George Perez costume, and the other wrote Battlefield Earth and uses words like "ideafyingness."

Advantage: Brother Blood

The Bad Guys
Here's where it gets good. When you reach Operating Thetan Level 3, (OT III), you find out about a guy called Xenu. Xenu, according to Wikipedia, is " galactic ruler who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of people to Earth, stacked them around volcanoes, and blew them up with hydrogen bombs." So that's a tough customer. He also made the folks he blew up (the thetans) watch "three-d super collossal motion picture" for a month to rob them of their free will.

In the Church of Blood, however, the cultists worship Trigon, the demon-king of another dimension who fathered a child on Earth with a human woman. Unfortunately, she was spirited away to the peaceful dimension of Azarath, whose sorcerors kept Trigon in check until he gathered up the soul-energy of his dimension to destroy Azarath and come to earth. He was only stopped when the Titans killed Raven and used the soul of Azar to blast him out of existence.

Advantage: Xenu

Scientolgy is widely criticized for being a nonsensical, transparent scam that serves only to brainwash its adherents and vilify those who genuinely want to help people with their psychological problems. Membership pretty much requires exorbitant donations. All that stuff about Xenu up there? You guys owe me about $360 grand, bucko.

The Church of Blood is widely criticized for being, you know, an evil cult that's dedicated to bringing about Armageddon. If you join up, you're probably going to get kicked in the face by Cyborg.

Criminal Record
The Church of Blood, by its nature as an evil organization, tends to do things like kidnapping infants to raise as worshippers and using sleeper agents to infiltrate the media and turn public opinion against their enemies.

The Church of Scientology, though, was implicated in what they called "Operation Snow White," where eleven high-ranking Scientologists (including Hubbard's wife) infiltrated the IRS in the largest incident of domestic espionage in the history of the United States, which they all served prison time for. They've also been implicated in attempts to frame people for stuff like bomb threats, and Hubbard said in 1966 that "we want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one."

(By the way, when Tom Cruise told Matt Lauer that he knew the history of psychiatry, he's referring to how psychiatrists are actually time travelers who invented pain and sex as a way to suppress the thetans. Also, I hated Collateral. Also, he eats babies.)

I've got to say, the biggest act of espionage in the history of the country? That makes Brother Blood's attempt to impregnate Raven with the anti-messiah look like chump change.

Well played, Hubbard. Advantage: Terl.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dollar Comic Review: The Heist

The shop is right next to the biggest music store in the city, which means that a lot of people mistakenly come into our place looking for CDs, bongs, and chemicals that'll clean out your system. Today, for instance, a lady came in looking for the latter with her eight year-old son in tow, which made me think that not knowing the difference between a comic book shop with a bright yellow sign above the door and an independent record store was probably the least of her problems.

It also gives us the luxury of being able to walk over there to check out the new CDs, which is a blessing for a noted music buff like Tug. When he went over last week to pick up some of the new college music that the kids like so much, however, he got a little surprise.

They gave him a promo comic.

Click to Rappasize It! Posted by Picasa

"Diamonds Aren't Forever"
June, 2005
Writers: Brandon "Dutch" Schultz and Mike & Mark Davis (AKA "MadTwinz")
Pencils and Cover: Khary Randolph

Cover: And you thought Grant Morrison's Justice League had the Big Seven. We have a tradition at the shop of going off on tangents where we compare various things to the JLA (Scott and I talked about the Justice League of the McDonald's Menu for a solid hour one time--The Apple Pie is just like Green Arrow!), but I'm not even going to attempt that on this one. Two things, though: 1) The "Mature Content" that the advisory logo is referring to exists only in the theoretical sense, and 2) pound for pound, this out-blings any other cover in Marvel history.

The Plot: Now don't get me wrong, I'm not above reading a comic based on a real-world musician, because they're occasionally works of the purest genius. This one, however, while extremely entertaining, combines the less-than-intricate narrative of a promo comic with the complete lack of sense found in a comic based on musicians.

The enigmatic "Checkwriter," who one can assume writes a large amount of checks, has recently had a flawless diamond stolen by a rival named Clone, who, as you'd expect, makes clones. So in order to rectify the situation, he assembles a crack team of rappers led by Fat Joe to run an intense, highly specialized infiltration and retrieval operation.

That's a team of rappers led by Fat Joe, in case you missed it.

Along the way, they've got to do battle with Clone's army of fake thugs that he genetically engineered to take over the music industry. They shoot and blow up quite a few of them and it all works out okay in the end when they recover both the diamond and Trina. And the whole thing's co-sponsored by Rockstar Games.

The Highlights:
  • Twista, upon hearing how dangerous the eponymous Heist is going to be, demands double his "usual fee," and requests that it be "wired in 49K incriments" to his bank. Either he's using the standard rapper-breaking-into-a-cloner's-house rate of $294,000, or that's just weird.
  • Li'l Kim can apparently trick out a Humvee with "amphib mode" when she's not busy serving a year for perjury or singing about how her vagina has flavors. Quite a talented girl, eh, gents? And I hear she's single!
  • In the grand tradition of an ensemble book, almost every member of the team gets their chance to shine: TI scales a wall and seduces a hot maid, Li'l Kim snaps a zombie thug's neck with her thighs (no, seriously), Fabolous drives the amphibious hummer, and Trick Daddy blows things up with cartoonish amounts of dynamite. But nothing is better than when Twista blows apart an electronic door lock with the power and speed of his rap.
  • When they finally open Clone's safe (the one they manage to get to a car floating in the ocean during a firefight with zombie thugs), they find Trina, the "Diamond Princess," who gives the most cryptic piece of dialogue in the entire book: "I'm the diamond... Miami." Then she pulls out the actual diamond, and I have to drink another Red Bull just to make sense out of it.
Defining Moment: When they're getting ready to pull off the job, Fat Joe gives his crew a last-minute pep talk where he calls the fake thugs "mad deep." Then he pulls up his sweatshirt to reveal two pistols shoved into his pants at an impossible angle and says: "I got enough rounds to make any of those clones lean back." It's beautiful. He later pulls a full-size minigun (the kind they mount on the noses of helicopters) out of nowhere and mows down a row of fake-ass zombie thug playa hatas. One can only assume that this comes from his pants as well.

Final Thoughts: This one's wacky as hell, but it's actually not bad when you get right down to it. I mean, it's better than the Wu-Tang Clan comic, and I like the Wu a heck of a lot more than anybody in this one. Sure it's crazy and involves zombie gangstas, but the plot's decent and the heist-which is a massive cliche spread across six pages--is pretty fun.

It is, however, not even in the same league as the one where Prince has to fight his evil twin Gemini for the control of the New Power Generation. Now that's a comic.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Special Guest Update: Brandon's Great-Grandfather Fights Alone!

Sims here. I'm still recuperating from last night's update about the Presitron, which was so awesome that I blew my own mind. Fortunately, Brandon finally decided to come through with his guest topic, so I can take the night off. Submitted for your approval, a tale of violence and mystery from the Wallace Family History.

Click to Wallace-Size It! Posted by Picasa

Frequent readers of the ISB have heard many tales of the self-proclaimed "Random Negro" known as Brandon Wallace. It was I who discussed the Dream Fight between Daniel LaRusso and Leroy Green with Chris while we were watching The Last Dragon the other night. It was then that I noticed that Leroy was seriously channelling Def Jam: Fight For NY. I mean I’ve seen this movie many times, seeing as for many years it was viewed at our annual 4th of July cookouts, (sadly this tradition ended at the dawn of this new millennium), but this time for some reason we realized that he was brutally beating these guys. I was waiting for his Blaze meter to go off and see KO flashing as throw this guy into a limo. That’s when I remembered a story that my dad told me about my great-grandfather, a story that will forever make me proud to bear the Wallace family name.

Everyone knows the old saying, never forget where you come from, but not many people really do. I mean, yeah they remember their core family and some cousins and such, but when it comes to a family’s true history people don’t know jack, and that, my friend, is a very sad thing.

I mean everyone has crazy stories about some whacked out uncle or some drunken aunt. You know what I’m talking about. I know Chris does. Heck, stories about crazy relatives are some of the greatest stories ever told. Nathan Summers knew that his parents were a) a leader and founding member of one of the most kick ass group of heroes of all time, and b) a cloned demonic queen. What he didn’t know was that that was just the tip of the iceberg.

[Note: I've mentioned this before, but Brandon's totally gay for Cable. Bear with him.]

Now while most of our family trees aren’t as fantastical as the Summers Clan, many of their stories are still worth telling. This is one of them.


The late 1800s.

In many towns across this great land, strangers were arriving. Strangers with a hidden past.

In an unnamed South Carolina town in Chesterfield county, such a man appeared.

It is not known when this man came to this town.

It is not known why this man came to this town.

But what is known... is that business was about to pick up.

Columbus Wallace was known as a very smart, hardworking and badass mo-fo who took no shit from anyone... unless he was paid to. See, he started and ran his own business operating a Honey Wagon. What's a Honey Wagon, you ask? Simple. He took care of shit.

No, seriously. He'd empty the crappers that people dug in their yards. He was the first in the town. He was also the first to have electricity in his house, and the only person who managed to build a house when the government seized all lumber in the country during WWI. Columbus soon met the woman that he would share his life with. Her name was Historia, and together they would have 7 children. Their children’s exploits would include building electric generators from scratch, moonshining, safe cracking and car chases--Dukes Of Hazzard style. But those are stories for another day.

Like I said nobody knew a whole lot about Columbus Wallace. When people asked where he was from, or even how old he was, he wouldn't tell them. He wouldn’t even let you take his picture. There was some speculation that he may have been from Virginia because he was once seen talking to some strangers who came from around that way and who promptly left after speaking to him. He was known as the strong silent type: A man of few words, and if those few weren’t enough, then you were probably screwed.

Now at this point you're probably wondering what was so special about this guy that prompted Sims to get the story for his blog. Well, here it is:

Columbus went into town, minding his own business, when the son of one Boyd Watts came across his path. Now a few things to remember: Deep South. Turn of the century. Black man (Wallace), white man (Watts).

Now Watts was feeling a bit chatty that day, and apparently he felt like conversing with Columbus. Well Columbus wanted to go on about his business, and Watts was not pleased. So he began to trash talk Columbus in the middle of the street, in the middle of this southern-ass town in front of white and black townsfolk, and the police. Finally, Columbus had enough, and Boyd had moments to live.

Columbus drew his pocket knife and in one smooth motion sliced open Watts' stomach and left him holding his intestines in his hands, Hannibal style.

Columbus then went on his way. Later on he returned home, and the police followed, along with some very angry white folk. When they arrived at his doorstep they encountered Historia. They called for Columbus to come out and give himself up, but Historia wasn’t having any of that. She told them to kindly fuck off and returned inside the house where they ate some dinner, had some sex, and went to sleep.

And that was the end of all that.

So there you have it. Just one crazy twig off my family tree. Now let's see how many fun stories you can find in your family’s past. Trust me, you’ll be surprised.

My family isn’t the violent type, but we will choke a bitch if we have to.

--Brandon Wallace

Monday, July 04, 2005

Independence Day Special: THE PRESITRON!

On Saturday, I was seized with a patriotic fervor, so I went out and bought a paperback copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If you don't already have it, go buy yourself a copy. I picked one up for about a dollar and it's fundamental to have an understanding of them and what they represent.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I still remembered most of the Ammendments (I used to have them all memorized), but that wasn't the real shock that I found.

While reading through today, I noticed something in the Constitution that I'd never seen before. It's not exactly a treasure map that leads to a Masonic conspiracy or anything, but it bears mention:


Section 1: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses deem it necessary, shall vest a group of former holders of the Executive Office whose members shall not number more than five with special emergency powers in order to deal with threats that the militia of the Republic is ill-equipped for.

Section 2: The powers vested in these former Presidents shall be centered upon a mechanical contraption of the Honorable Mr. Franklin of Pennsylvania's design, which he has dubbed "totally frigg'n sweet."

Needless to say, it wasn't something I'd heard of in school, so I decided to do a bit of research. The story of Article X is shrouded in mystery, but thanks to Wikipedia and some alleged "facts" that I may or may not have made up, I was able to piece together the whole story, presented here for the first time as an ISB 4th of July Exclusive.

While attending a meeting of the mysterious Lunar Society in London in 1775, Benjamin Franklin partook of a new hallucinagenic herb created by Society member and noted biologist of the time Erasmus Darwin. In addition to the psychotropic effects, Darwin's herb reacted strangely with the chemicals that remained in Franklin's system from a four-day bender outside of Paris the previous month during which he'd allegedly drank a quart of absinthe from a chalice belonging to Charlemagne.

The records are a little sketchy.

Regardless, the reaction allowd Franklin to "pierce that silveréd veil into the lands beyond," where he claimed to exist in all possible times at once. When he awoke the following morning, he reportedly wrote in a letter to John Hancock that he had imagined in his sleep plans for a series of devices, the first of which "combines my stove with the awesome power of lightning to obtain the [illegible] essences of man from differing points on the [illegible] stream!"

Evidence survives that shows that after the Constitution was officially ratified in 1789, Franklin utilized his plans to build a machine that allowed him to assmble a team of the toughest, smartest, luckiest, and most ass-kickingest men to ever hold the office of President for the next two hundred years:

Thomas Jefferson: Fueled by his rage over his anti-slavery segments being edited out of the Declaration of Indepencence, Jefferson brought his incredible scientific knowledge, a dream of a perfect agrarian republic, and a dead-eye aim to the project.

Andrew Jackson: The seventh President, a man who once survived an assassination attempt when the assassin's pistols both misfired. He then chased his would-be killer down and beat him with a stick.

John F. Kennedy: War hero. Ladies' man. So powerful that he could only be harmed by a magic bullet.

Abraham Lincoln: Statesman, Emancipator, and former Illinois State Wrestling Champion. The Mike Haggar of his day.

The Vengeful Spirit of William Henry Harrison: After serving as President for only thirty-two days, Harrison died of an illness contracted during his two-and-a-half hour innauguration speech. Frustrated by his inabilty to actually serve, he was doomed to wander the earth until Franklin rescued him from the aether. Now, Tippecanoe is out for vengeance!

[And yes, that might be the best picture ever linked from the ISB.]

Each man was given control of a robot of Franklin's own design that, when linked with the others, would form the most powerful Defender of Democracy the world had ever seen.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... THE PRESITRON!

Art by J. Martinez, my most awesome buddy.
Click to Presi-Size It! Posted by Picasa

[Edit: THAT is the most awesome picture to ever appear on the ISB.]

There are only a few recorded instances of the Presitron's appearance after its creation by the top-secret engineers (dubbed "Poor Richards" due to long hours attempting to understand Franklin's advanced designs) in 1789. The greatest of these was the Presitron's involvement in the defense of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, when the devastating blasts from Lincoln's Emancicannon inspired Francis Scott Key to pen a certain song about the Rocket's Red Glare.

All of which, in retrospect, seems slightly less plausible than the whole treasure map thing.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

So It's Come To This

Brandon was supposed to write a guest update for tonight's ISB detailing a true tale of violence and mystery from his family's sordid history. But since Brandon is a bad friend and a horrible person (children burst into tears whenever he walks by and when he comes over for pizza, my dog just hides under the table and growls), he didn't.

So you can blame him for the lack of a real update. But as an alternative, I present the conversation wherein I discovered his betrayal, edited to make his childlike scrawl readable.

Hey, I'm tired and I hurt my hand playing tennis yesterday. It's either this or more pictures of french fries.

Chris: Where's my column?

Brandon: Oh shit give me about 20 or 30 min. k?


Chris: I ought to kick you and beat you with sticks.

Brandon: I had to go see another movie today

Chris: By the by, I effed my hand up yesterday.

Brandon: Really? That sucks.

Chris: Yeah. Remember when I fell?

Chris: I scraped one of my knuckles and I think I might've sprained my wrist a little bit.

Brandon: I meant to write the story this morning but my dad was gone before I woke up. I could do it tonight...

Brandon: but it would be better if I could do it tomorrow.

Brandon: So I could, you know, like find out his name.

Chris: Damn your beady little eyes. I don't have anything to write tonight. You better have it tomorrow, you deadline-dodger.

Chris: OK

Brandon: I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Chris: ...

Chris: That's why I don't have my column?

Brandon: You fucked up your hand.

Brandon: And I missed a deadline

Brandon: See, thats something to write about.

Chris: Excuse me while I find something blunt to strike you with...

Brandon: Just cut and paste this conversation.

Chris: I haven't fallen THAT far. [Ed. Note: Yes, apparently, I have]

Brandon: It's got racial slurs and threats of violence.

Brandon: You know, like most of your posts.

Et tu, Brandon?

Be here tomorrow when I rip the lid of the Terrifying Secret of Hezekiah Wallace.

Friday, July 01, 2005

ISB Ultimate Superfights: Round One!

Click to Karatesize It! Posted by Picasa

What, you thought I was kidding?

Daniel LaRusso. He had to take karate. He needed to take karate. Because if he didn't, a blonde guy with a Flock of Seagulls haircut and a headband was going to humiliate him in front of Elizabeth Shue.

Leroy Green. A man so obsessed with obtaining martial arts perfection that in the art of making love, he didn't even have a pencil. But though he journeyed to find the Master, the true power was inside him all along.

These two men represent the greatest non-Batman-related influences in my thought processes, and now, unlike some people, I intend to put an end to the debate that has raged since time immemorial.

Which in this case is roughly twenty-six hours.

Now my views on the Karate Kid are fairly well-known. But the Last Dragon is the single greatest motion picture that Berry Gordy ever produced. It's also the first movie I ever skipped a college class to watch--starting the spiral down to this lowly state at which you see me today--and I'll pop it in the DVD player at least once a month. In fact, I watched it last night in preparation to render my decision on the Titanic Tussle. Which is this:

Here's your first lesson, Daniel! How to take a fall! Bruce Leroy wins.

It's not a decision I came to lightly. And don't get the idea that it's going to be a one-sided fight, either. Daniel is the master of the Crane Kick, against which there is no defense, except that time in Karate Kid II where that dude just blocks it. It's a devastating maneuver, especially against a style like Johnny's that seems to be built around running face-first at your opponent.

Leroy, on the other hand, glows with the power of mystical kung fu.

That's pretty much the end of the argument right there. You're all right, LaRusso, but there's only one Master. Although I'm fully prepared to show, using a series of bar graphs and complex, irrefutable math, that Mr. Miyagi could totally beat the guy who trained Leroy.

A little anti-climactic, I'll admit, but it does open up a far more interesting battle:

Sho'nuff vs. John Kreese

This would be a battle that reverberated through a billion billion worlds, my friends. Shonuff has a more flamboyant wardrobe and far more intimidating followers, AND a pair of sweet Converse hi-tops, but Kreese... Kreese was in the 'Nam, folks. And I think we know what that does to a man.

Kreese would show his enemy no mercy. Mercy is for the weak. But Sho'nuff is the baddest mofo lowdown in this town. It's a tough call.

The only forseeable outcome is that they would team up, forming a martial arts juggernaut so powerful that only one man could stop it.

God help us if he runs out of liquor and dynamite.