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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My Name is Terry Sugury. But some people call me... The Street Fighter


Who's Sonny Chiba?


He is, bar none, the greatest actor working in martial arts movies ever.

--Quentin Tarantino, True Romance screenplay.

Holy Crap.Sonny Chiba's The Street Fighter is quite possibly the greatest movie of all time.

Now I realize that that's a phrase I use a lot, especially regarding movies where there's a lot of one person kicking other people in the face, but The Street Fighter is utterly transcendent in its violence. The only word that comes to mind is "glorious." It's not just about kicking people in the face. It's about how Sonny Chiba is the baddest motherfucker of all time, and how he can hit a man so hard that it alters the physical laws of the universe.

Also, you can get it in DVD--which doesn't even bother to offer subtitles, which would rob you of the amazing dub--for like six bucks, and there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't. I mean, look at that poster and tell me it doesn't shatter your mind into a thousand tiny pieces.

Sonny Chiba stars as Terry Sugury, a criminal so badass that within the first fifteen minutes, he's killed a guy in prison, thrown another guy out of a window, and then sold that guy's sister into slavery without breaking a sweat. I have to say, it's pretty shocking to see the protagonist of the movie murder someone and then sell their drugged-up next of kin to a brothel, but it pretty much establishes right off that he's what you might call an anti-hero.

What follows is pretty much an hour and a half of constant Sonny Chiba ass-beating, with the following highlights:

1. At one point, Terry not only beats a guy up, but throws him up against a wall and punches him so hard that every one of his teeth falls out. Seriously. One hit, and the guy spits out what appears to be an entire mouthful of white chicklets.

2. Two gangsters drop Terry's car off a bridge with him in it, which only has the effect of making Terry mad. So mad, in fact, that as one guy tries to get up out of a mud pit after being kicked in the face, Terry jumps into the air and hits him so hard that we see an x-ray shot of his fist colliding with the man's skull. The dude then spits out at least a half-pint of blood and promptly dies. It is the single greatest thing ever put on film. During my first viewing of the movie, I had to rewind and watch those five seconds six times, and it never gets any less awesome. Less than two minutes later, he pokes a man's eyes out.

3. After Terry hit the guy so hard it knocked the world into another visual spectrum for two seconds, I was pretty sure I'd seen it all. I mean, where do you go from that? Well, if you're Sonny Chiba, you shoot a scene wherein the hero of your movie rips a man's junk off with his bare hands.

And that's not even getting into the part where he fights the fat sensei with the three-fingered ham-fist.

Just take it from Uncle Chris:

It's true.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dollar Comic Review: The Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo

NOT A DREAM!  NOT A HOAX!Click to Hugo-Size it!

"The Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo"
March, 1983
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Pencils and Cover: Sal Buscema and Steve Mitchell

The Cover: I mentioned this comic to Kevin the other day when we were talking about his weekly "Genius Covers Sunday" feature, but I actually hadn't read it until today. And brother, it's every bit as awesome as it looks. I mean, just look at it. It's got the Incredible Hulk fighting a character from a classic of European literature. A character, incidentally, whose name is trademarked by Marvel, so everyone out there writing Victor Hugo fan-fiction better watch your ass. It's so dynamic that I can't even figure out what the perspective is supposed to be. Or, for that matter, why the Hulk has Spider Jerusalem's tattoos on his chest.

The Plot:
All-out action in the mighty Marvel manner. Bruce Banner--clad in a purple suit and tie, no less--and Betty Ross take a romantic trip to Paris, complicated slightly by the fact that Bruce flips over a car every time he gets a flat, and Betty's on a secret mission for her father that involves a midnight rendezvous with the French Minister of Finance. I got the feeling that this "secret mission" was Thunderbolt Ross's way of discouraging Betty's choice of boyfriends, but that's not made clear.

Anyway, after Banner swings by an old friend's to pick up a secret untested formula that may cure him of being the Hulk, Betty's immediately kidnapped by Quasimodo, who wants all the gold in France to help him forget he's monstrously unattractive. That makes Banner angry, blah blah blah, and fifteen pages of hard punchin' monster-on-monster action later, everything works out okay, so be sure to watch The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends on NBC!

See, because it's actually a tie-in to the Hulk cartoon, not the comic, which is revealed in a truly bizarre one-page gag strip featuring a green, purple-pantsed Al Milgrom bemoaning his male pattern baldness. That, gentle reader, is worth the dollar alone.

The Highlights:
  • Right on page one, when Betty thinks she sees someone moving around the top of Notre Dame Cathedral, Bruce immediately dismisses her, telling her that she's been reading too much and that he's going to be late for his important lecture on Science. Hush now, Betty. The men are talking.
  • Betty's secret mission for her father involves delivering a key that unlocks the gold reserves of France. So of course, she wears it out in the open on a necklace. Risky, I know, but it really brings out her eyes. Strike two, Betty.
  • When ol' Quas kidnaps Betty, we find out that he's actually the great-grandson of the original Hunchback of Notre Dame, which only begs the question of just who humps the humpback? (NOTE: This joke blatantly stolen from Mark Hale).
  • I'll level with you: I've never read The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But I have read about the Hulk, so the fact that Quasimodo pretty much stands there trading punches with and being thrown through walls by the Jade Giant for fifteen pages makes me think that it might be one of the most action-packed novels ever.
  • After she escapes from Quasimodo's not-evil-just-misunderstood clutches, Betty manages to keep her appointment with the Minister of Finance, and it's revealed that France keeps all of her gold stored under false floorboards in a Metro car. Which, okay, I'm no expert, but I think I'd prefer a nice big fort over Han Solo's crafty spice-smuggling tricks if the economy of my country was at stake.
  • When he's confronted by Quasimodo in the sewers, Banner makes the selfless decision to give the formula that might just cure him to the Hunchback. A couple things, though: One, it's not really that selfless, considering that they make a big deal about the formula being untested and possibly killing whoever takes it. Second, considering that he's the grandson of the original Hunchback, that would mean that the deformities are genetic and really shouldn't be cured by a potion designed to stop a man from turning into a gamma radiation-powered monster whenever he gets mad. But, you know, Science.
  • Also, it's never clearly explained why Banner doesn't just go back to his French buddy and get more Magic Science Formula, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that it ends up turning Quasimodo into Jericho from the Teen Titans.

Defining Moment:
Unlike most of the comics I review, the Defining Moment in this one doesn't happen at the climax of the story, but rather starts on page one and continues through the whole book. The very first caption on Page 1 starts with "Hi, Gang! This is Stan Lee!"

The narration from this point continues to be a grin-and-wink "check this out!" from Stan the Man, despite the fact that the actual story is written by Bill Mantlo, of ROM: Spaceknight fame. So we can only assume that the narration through the whole thing is, for some unfathomable reason, Mantlo-As-Stan, adding yet another layer to the onion-peel of surrealism that is The Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Wallace/Kirby Birthday Bacchanalia

Hey, remember how yesterday I said I was going to get really drunk? Well allow me to land my metaphorical fighter jet on the aircraft carrier that is the ISB, and say to you two simple words:

Mission Accomplished.

It was Brandon's birthday, after all, and if that's not a good excuse to get both drunk and crunk, then I don't know what is. Which is why I rolled into Rock Hill at around six and immediately got started indulging my rarely-sated thirst for libations. Which is to say, I finished off the Seagram's I'd started in on the last time I was at Brandon's dorm.

He even saw the lights of the Goodyear blimp...The party actually got started at around eight, and it was indeed a celebration. My friend Jennifer was playing hostess, and had invited her friends, who were mostly gay men. Brandon, however, had taken a different tact and invited mostly hot college girls, thus ensuring that he spent the evening surrounded by nubile young ladies and cake, which are probably my two favorite things in the entire world, comics and pie notwithstanding. I, on the other hand, spent the evening growing progressively more and more boisterous and obscure in my choice of topics. I was under the influence of Brass Monkey, after all, and was therefore obliged to put my right leg down, my left leg up, tilt my head back and finish the cup.

My old friend Jack introduces me to HughFor instance, Brandon's friend Sarah (with whom we'd played Badminton during the Summer of Outdoor Sports a few months ago) brought along one of her friends, introducing him to me as I nursed some kind of fruit drink that Jennifer made for me.

"Hi, I'm Chris, and I'm well on my way to being drunk. And you are?"

"I'm Hugh."

"Oh, like David Sedaris's boyfriend."

I'm pretty sure the association made him vaguely uncomfortable, especially since I repeated it every time he told me his name, which I kept forgetting. Nice guy.

At one point during the evening, I thought I'd spontaneously developed superpowers. I'd abandoned Jennifer's classic NES in frustration at not being able to beat a single level of Ducktales, a game which at age 10 was the focal point of my entire existence, and taken to answering the door as Brandon's guests arrived throughout the evening. Opening the door at one point, I was surprised and thrilled to find not one, but two ladies waiting for admittance. I let them in, closed the door, and then decided to see if there'd be two more when I opened the door again...

And there were.

Unfortunately, that was the only time my X-Gene chose to make itself known, or I'd be out there using my powers for evil as we speak.

Let me feel your heat!Disheartened by my lack of lady-conjuring super-powers, I hit the sauce with a vengeance, getting drunk enough to decide to pretend to be a fashion photographer, snapping photos of Brandon while shouting out phrases like "Show me sexy like a tiger!" and "I love it! Now make me hate it!"

Continuing the theme of implicit homosexuality, Brandon and I also did a few duets on Jennifer's karaoke machine. It may surprise you to learn that I know all the words to the Backstreet Boys classic "I Want it That Way" and *NSync's "Bye Bye Bye." And that pretty much blows being in bed with Scott right out of the water in terms of the gayest thing I've ever done while drunk.

Maybe "blows" was the wrong term for that sentence. But I digress.

No nas, Chris, no mas!I have an odd habit of learning something about myself every time I get drunk, and this time what I learned was that my thing for girls named Gail is not necessarily tied into said girl having written Deadpool before. Pictured to the left is Gail, who, along with Emily (the girl with glasses to Brandon's left above), captured my attention for the majority of the evening.

Those poor, poor girls.

Gail kept speaking Spanish (having completed one of her stated life goals of going to Argentina and subsequently being eaten by a Great White Shark), apparently unaware that in the world of Chris Sims, bilingualism is hot. I made a double-entendre out of nearly every sentence she said, but fortunately I had the presence of mind to make them aside to Brandon, even in the deepest throes of my inebriation. She endured not only my questions about her clear plastic bra-strap (Well I'm sorry, but my underwear rarely comes with optional features) as the night wore on, but also sat patiently through Brandon and I extolling the virtues of why The Prisoner is the single best thing either one of us has ever seen. The fact that Emily was sitting in a chair opposite me stretching out her legs above her head while I tried to explain the nuances of "Hammer into Anvil" makes me amazed that I made it through a sentence at all.

They were even there for my favorite moment of the evening, when Brandon and I toasted to the King of Comics, Jack Kirby. It was 1:37 AM, and we'd finally settled our debate on whether or not to go through with the drinking. Considering I'd been going strong for seven hours at that point, I initially balked, but I steeled myself, reminding Brandon that he created the New Gods. So we poured our shots, I loaded up a picture of OMAC on my PSP, and we began our toast.

"Jack Kirby was a good man," I said.

"Was?!" said Gail.

"Yeah," said Brandon.

"He's been dead for years."

"Oh my God!"

Take that ya Ratzi!At this point, we had to explain to Gail and Emily that Kirby was not a personal friend of ours, but rather someone whose work meant a lot to us. Brandon explained about Captain America and his indomitable spirit, and I threw in the bit about Cap punching out Hitler months before official US involvement in World War II.

For Brandon, Cap embodies Kirby himself, the unshakeable belief in what's right that makes a man even Gods will follow.

I understood him perfectly, but I think our drunken musings were lost on the girls. So I continued my toast:

"Jack Kirby was a good man. He loved his wife, he loved his children, he loved his country, and by God, he loved comics. He never learned to drive, because he had too many ideas to keep his mind on the road. Thanks, Jack."

Then we drank.

And then I thought I was going to die.

But fortunately, I didn't, and survived long enough to get a handshake from Emily and a hug from Gail before stretching out on Jennifer's couch, hoping to God I'd get to sleep before Brandon, because that guy snores.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

This Man, This Drunkard!


Tonight is Brandon's birthday.

Tomorrow is Jack Kirby's birthday.

Therefore, I will endeavor to be in a state of dynamic inebriation for the next 33 hours.

You have been warned.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hitting the Wall

You know how you can tell you're not going to be able to write anything funny tonight?

You can't stop thinking about this:

Oh snap.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Week in Ink - 8/24/05

Remember last night when I said I had comics to read? Well here they are.

  • Adventures of Superman #643
  • Angel: The Curse #3 and Spike: Old Times: Yeah, I'll say it. I'm totally gay for Buffy now. Wanna make something of it? There were some spoilers in these for me, since I haven't watched any of Angel, but really, that's my fault now isn't it?
  • Banana Sunday #2: Colleen Coover still isn't returning my calls. She is, however, drawing an awesome comic about monkeys. Seriously, it's beautiful to look at and the story's more fun than just about anything else coming out right now, so go read it.
  • Battle Pope #2
  • Conan #19
  • Daredevil vs. Punisher #3: I need to take my copy back to the store, as it appears to be soaked in awesome sauce. ...Except the part where the Punisher says he's never fought Bushwacker before. Maybe I can use my expertise to get a consulting job...
  • Day of Vengeance #5: Sentinels of Magic + Suicide Squad = Shadowpact. IT'S SCIENCE!
  • Hellblazer #211
  • Invincible #25: Second of this week's Robert Kirkman Trifecta, and it's six kinds of enjoyable. Not only is it a great issue, it's a great anniversary issue. It's got the last-page shocker and some great backup stories. I got excited like three times reading this book.
  • Jack Cross #1: The fact that I used to refer to my ex-girlfriend's arms as flippers (long story, don't ask) made this one even more enjoyable for me. I can't say that I love Gary Erskine's art--not that there's anything wrong with it, it just doesn't grab me. If Chris Weston was on this book, boy howdy. But still, it's a great read.
  • JSA Classified #2: Like most of today's Geoff Johns joints, you can pretty much read the first page and the last page and be done with it. But then you'd miss all that pretty Amanda Connor art.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #9
  • Monkey in a Wagon vs. Lemur on a Big Wheel #1
  • New X-Men: Academy X #17
  • The OMAC Project #5
  • Queen & Country: Declassified v.2 #2
  • Queen & Country: Declassified v.3 #3
  • Rex Libris #1
  • The Surrogates #1: Finally got around to picking this one up, and it's actually really darn enjoyable. It's like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, only the Special Victims are actually Robot Victims, and that makes everything better! I think I caught Richard Belzer on page 12, though. That guy's in everything.
  • Wolverine #31: Here endeth the Mark Millar run, and therefore I won't be getting this anymore. Have fun with Daniel Way, suckers. Man, these have been good, though. An uncanny throwdown in the mighty marvel manner. I loved it.
And although it's not really part of this week's comics, I did get my copy of The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs by Rich Burlew, based on the webcomic of the same name.

It's great stuff if you happen to be into D&D, but even beyond that, his timing is impeccable in everything from the sight gags to the puns. Steve and Felecia picked it up for me at GenCon, so not only did I get it early, but I got it signed by Burlew, and he even did a little sketch of a goblin on the title page. It might be the first time I've paid full price for a trade paperback in three years, and it was worth every penny.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rise of the Midnight Movies

I'm tired and I have comics to read. Get your humor elsewhere.

In fact, get it from Scott by checking out his latest film project.

Here's a sample:

Go on, check it out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

New For 1983!

So my mother's been tearing through the house as of late in a Tasmanian Devil-esque storm of new furniture, new wallpaper, and fresh paint in the living room. Naturally, she's been unearthing a lot of our house's buried treasures, so it was no surprise the other day when she walked over to me with an armful of vaguely familiar rectangular plastic boxes and dropped them in a stack on the desk.

"Here," she said. "Do something with these."

I looked over skeptically. "What do you mean, do something with them?"

"I don't know. Get rid of them. Sell them on eBay."

"Mom, I don't think even eBay can help us get rid of six Disney movies on Betamax."

Yep. Betamax. Not just dead technology, but dead technology from like three generations of home video back. There are people going into Wal-Mart right now to buy VHS copies of Maid in Manhattan who are having a good laugh at my expense.

But to be fair, these aren't just any old tapes. I'm talking high quality Disney films in the hard clamshell packages. Let's take a look at what we've got, hm?

First up are the classics, Kidnapped, and Treasure Island, followed up with a modern classic in its own right, Tron. Then there's The Adventures of Chip 'n' Dale, which I can remember being a big fan of when I was, uh, one. Things start to get a little iffy when you hit the Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah interspecies sex-romp Splash, but hey, different strokes people. And of course, The Moon-Spinners.

There's also a catalog from when they first came out, just so you can know what was hot on the streets back in '83. I've got six words for you, folks: Herbie the Love Bug Triple Pack.

Wait, what the hell is The Moon-Spinners?

Not only have I never heard of this movie, but nobody I know has ever heard of it. Which seems to be pretty appropriate, since it's a Mystery/Romance that combines Eli Wallach (of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) with Haley Mills (from The Parent Trap and early episodes of TV's Saved by the Bell) at a Greek resort where some jewel theiving's going down.

I lost interest immediately when I found out that Eli and Haley don't fall in love with each other.

For a minute there, I considered giving them away as a prize in an ISB Contest, but I think that's probably the one prize that people would actually want less than my hand-drawn portrait of the Vengeful Spirit of William Henry Harrison. So there's that idea down the drain.

Which just serves to beg the question: What the hell am I going to do with six Beta tapes?

Monday, August 22, 2005

What He Hasn't Ruined Yet

A few months ago, I made a solemn vow that I would not discuss Star Wars here on the ISB. It's something that I felt I needed to move past in my life, like a girlfriend who cheats on you with with someone who keeps screaming "UNLIMITED POWER!" But like Spider-Man says in his classic 1975 album Rock Reflections of a Super-Hero, I'm going to let time show me the way.

George Lucas has pretty much midichlorianed his way into Byrne-like levels of psychotic senility, but I'll give him credit for one thing: He hasn't quite managed to ruin every character yet.

Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are still the coolest guys in the galaxy. And he will never, ever be able to destroy my love for The Lobot.

You have no idea how embarassing it is to work for an hour to make a joke five years out of date. Unless of course you work for Fox 102.3, Columbia's Home for Classic Rock, in which case, thanks for reading, Weirdbeard!

Seriously, though. MG3 gave me the NPR productions of Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back on cassette tape a few months ago, and the single best moment of the entire 12 hours of radio was hearing Billy Dee Williams say "I've sent a message... to the Lobot."

He's awesome. I mean, think about it. Who do you think was really running Cloud City? Lando? That guy was busy trying on blue velvet capes and being the second coolest guy in the galaxy. You wanted gas mined on Bespin, you went to the Capital Ell Oh Bee Oh Tee, you see.

And when the Empire shows up, he was Lando's ace in the hole. When they changed the deal, my man calmly assessed the situation and dropped the hammer on Darth Vader's personal guard. That's how the Lobot rolls, yo.

I couldn't stop thinking about how awesome he is on my drive home tonight.

As you can tell, it's been a very boring day.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Truth in Advertising

I'm a marketing genius. Check it out.

Go see The 40 Year Old Virgin. It's the bomb.

The Motor City Madman

So I've been thinking about Ted Nugent a lot today. Exactly why the Nuge was the only thing I could think about during a half hour traffic jam on the way to work, no man can say, but it led me to create the following image:

Deal with it.

Regardless of Terrible Ted's presence in my thoughts, it's been brought to my attention by a certain alphanumeric friend of mine that I haven't been entirely forthcoming about the origins of my most popular feature.

I'm referring here to the NPR Trading Cards (sets one and two, for reference). While I made every card you see myself, I'm afraid that the original idea is not my own.

The credit for that has to be given to Scott Simmons and Matt Gossett, who came up with it on a trip to a convention years before Scott would convince me to give This American Life a listen on my hour-long drive to work. It's one of those stories that always gets told when we get together, the punchline being when the boss responded to their conversation with: "I like John Boy and Billy."

Cut to a few years later when I'm fully immersed in the wonderful world of Public Radio International and nursing a healthy crush on Sarah Vowell. I'm doing the ISB and I've done a bit on the Jack Kirby trading card set, when I overhear Radical-C say: "You know, if anything that we talk about should actually get made, it's NPR Trading Cards." So I made them.

Which begs the question as to why I didn't credit them in the first place. Well, while I shoot for a wider audience, let's be honest here: I have a readership of like fourteen people, seven of whom would actually get the joke. So I really didn't think it was necessary. But now that it's starting to become something that the ISB is known for by other people, it's only fair to give them credit.

Fun Fact: Last Wednesday, when I was driving home fantasizing about being interviewed by Terry Gross (Yes, I fantasize about being on Fresh Air. I'm well aware that I'm the lamest person ever.), I made sure to give the proper credit in my imaginary interview.

So there it is. Scott and Matt are the Bill Finger of the ISB.

Moving on.

Holy Crap, Warren Ellis and JH Williams! That looks frigg'n awesome!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I Wish I Was This Guy

Originally found on SomethingAwful:

He's got it made.

And he also looks just like Mister Six:

...And that guy's a total badamadeuce.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

NPR: The Legend Continues

So I'm listening to Fresh Air tonight, and I hear Terry Gross spend the last ten minutes of the show interviewing Scott Yoho, lead singer of The Auto Body Experience, about a song he wrote about Terry Gross called, appropriately, "Terry Gross."

Meanwhile, I'm over here laboring over a hot PhotoShop™ for hours at a time with not even a thirty-second spot on Your Day to show for it.

Now I realize I made what essentially amounts to a sight gag, and that guy wrote a song, which makes for better radio, but still. Where's the love, Terry?

Maybe this'll do it. Roll your mouse over for the back:

Terry Gross

Tavis Smiley

Carl Kasell

Michael Feldman

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Open Letters, Volume 2

Dear Gail Simone,

Remember that time when Deadpool shrunk the Rhino down with Pym Particles and used him as a keychain?

That was awesome.


Dear DC Comics,

Marvel publishes like eighty-four craptacular issues of Spider-Girl and you guys won't even let The Breach get to an even twelve? What the hell is that all about? I mean, I don't know if you've actually read this book, but it's pretty rad.

Sniff you jerks later,

PS: If you see Gail Simone anytime soon, could you please give her the attatched sonnet?

Dear Marvel Comics,

So last night, I read this comic where the Fantastic Four had to hook up Iron Man's armor to Thor's hammer to shoot their way out of a black hole that Galactus (who was as big as the frigg'n universe!) trapped them in.

I'm thinking maybe if you did that in your little House of M book, we wouldn't have twenty-seven copies of Mutopia X taking up shelf-space at work.

Your Buddy,

Dear Alias Comics,



To the Drivers of a Red Civic and a Gray Volvo,

Hi! You guys probably don't remember me, but I was about three cars behind you at the stoplight tonight when you guys went completely insane. Gray Volvo Guy, when you got out of your car and started shouting at Red Civic and pointing at your head, it was electric. When this happened the third time, I was on the edge of my seat.

I've got to say, Red Civic, when you opened your door to shout at Gray Volvo but didn't get out, I'll admit, I was a little disappointed. I should've known better than to doubt you guys, though. When the traffic started moving, and you pulled around to the side of Gray Volvo and started yelling at him through your passenger side window, and then he pulled into the parking lot and you did a three point turn in a side street to get back to him? I knew everything was going to be okay.

The fact that I saw all of this from behind a car with "JUST MARRIED -- HONK IF YOU'RE IN LOVE" written on the windows in big red letters has reaffirmed my faith in humanity.

I love you guys,

Dear Colleen Coover,

Remember that time you wrote a porn story narrated in the style of an 1890s Men's Adventure Novel?

That was awesome.


Monday, August 15, 2005

William Shakespeare's Trapped in the Closet, Act I, Scene 1

[A bedchamber. Sylvester lays upon the bed.]

SYLVESTER: Hark! What hour is this? Seven bells! 'Pon my troth, I should be gone to mine own bed hours before. 'Tis the grape of Dinoysus that has brought me to this state!

[Enter Catharina]

CATHARINA: Ah, thou art awake!

SYLVESTER: Who is this who enters in such dress? What sins have I commited hence? Get thee from my path, woman, for I must take my leave!

CATHARINA: No, my good lord!

SYLVESTER: Woman, though I have shared thy bed, thy house is not mine own! I depart from thy door, and from thy sight forever.

CATHARINA: Though this house be not yours, mark you well! Its true master doth come upon the stairs!

SYLVESTER: What ho? The window, then!

CATHARINA: Be you a bird? I see no feathers!

SYLVESTER: Fie! Fortune, thou art a slattern.

CATHARINA: Quickly, hide thyself within the closet! Make not the slightest noise, lest violence come upon you!

SYLVESTER: Thou art mad!

CATHARINA: Hark! He comes!

SYLVESTER: [Moves to closet] Hide me well, lest thine own neck be stretched!

[Enter Rufus]

RUFUS: My dearest love!

CATHARINA: Noble Rufus! Long have I waited for you to return to my embrace!

RUFUS: And I thine, my love. I' faith, thy form is sweeter in my sight than that of noble Pallas herself.

CATHARINA: And thine own like unto great Hyperion.

[They kiss]

SYLVESTER: [Aside] Truly her actions do bespeak a decietful heart, though by Jove I canst scarcely discern the truth myself.

RUFUS: What ho? A sound!

CATHARINA: Nay, my lord! 'Twas merely a mouse!

RUFUS: Aye, a rodent in human shape!

CATHARINA: Pray you, keep thy temper.

RUFUS: Thou hast made a cuckold of me! Villain, I shall seek you out!

[He searches]

RUFUS: Not in the alcove and not hidden 'neath thy wardrobe--aha!

SYLVESTER: [Aside] O damnable fool! [He draws] Woman ever was the downfall of man!

[Rufus throws open the closet door, from which Sylvester emerges]

RUFUS: For thy wanton pleasure, thou took no mouse,
'Tis man, no more, that doth profane my house.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

My New Career Goal

So that's it.

Now that I've finally achieved my life's goal of being recognized in a bar for something I've created, I'm giving up on this whole writing thing to move on to new and different fields. And for once, I know exactly what my goals are.

It's not going to be easy, but hey, I'm twenty-three now, and sometimes you have to step up to the challenges life throws your way in order to move on.

I'd been thinking about it even before I ran into Valerie last night, right about the time I got in an argument with a twelve year-old about who rocked harder: Nü-Metal posterchildren System of a Down or the poet of hope for the downtrodden himself, Mister Ronnie James Dio. I'll let you figure out which side of the argument I came in on, but I will say this. One of these people rode upon the wings of a demon and battled robots at the end of time, and also sang "Rainbow in the Dark." The others did not. Just sayin'.

Anyway, it was around the time I went back-to-back with Matt P, shooting 'em down with my air guitar during Holy Diver, when I realized that the story would eventually end up on the ISB, and maybe I should just give up the ghost.

So what am I going to be doing instead, you may well be asking yourself?

Well, gentle reader, that's where you come in, because while I've got my future career mapped out, I'm going to need your help with it.

I've decided to pursue a field that will combine both my incredible mental prowess with my awesome martial arts skills, but I'm going to need the help of a team of scientists--preferably those who already have their own bright yellow beekeeper hats--to help out. It'll be the culmination of everything I've always wanted from life. I'm going to become...

A Mental Organism Designed Only for Karate.

Probably The Most Awesome Thing You've Ever Seen,
By J. Martinez

Get ready to be rocked in '06, chumps.

Memoir From the Art Bar

Tonight, I experienced what may have been the single greatest moment of my life. And to my surprise, it happened at the Art Bar.

I was there to see the One Night Only Re-Reunion of Columbia's #1 Gay Metal Band, Confederate Fagg. The opening act was Columbia's #2 Gay Metal Band, the Carolina Glamcocks, who, oddly enough, looked exactly like the Fagg, but wearing different costumes. Regardless, they rocked me as hard as I've ever been rocked before, to the point where I had to take a break from rocking out after they played "You Got Another Thing Comin'" in the middle of the show. I had shot my rock wad, so to speak. Fortunately, by the time they busted out "Breaking the Law," I was back in action, which proves one thing:

Judas Priest frigg'n rocks.

But yeah, it was a great show. To give you an idea of how awesome it was, I'll just say this: At one point I was rocking out while standing next to a girl who was wearing a chainmail bikini top.

The flipside to that particular coin, of course, was the second most unconvincing transvestite I've ever seen in my life. I mean, really. You know that Saturday Night Live sketch where The Rock is in drag? Yeah, like that. Except he was totally unmoving, like some sort of transvestite monolith in a PVC Catcher's Chest Protector.

That's Chris's Invincible Super-Blog: Now the #1 Google Result for "Transvestite Monolith."

Anyway, it was a great time.

I'd gotten there at around a quarter to ten, and no sooner had I walked in than I caught the eye of John, a customer at the store, who was already well on his way to the magical land of inebriation. He called me over, and introduced me to one of his friends, saying "This guy's the only one who supports my Deadpool addiction. Lemme buy you a drink!"

Well how the heck was I supposed to say no to that? It's not every day you get a free drink for working in a comic book store. So I took my whiskey sour and John introduced me to the rest of his crew: Marshall, who said he'd fight anyone who disparaged the good name of Ghost Rider; Drew, who bought an issue of Brian K. Vaughan Swamp Thing but hasn't read the Alan Moore run; Metal Tim, who apparently really likes metal; and Evil Kevin (not to be confused with BeaucoupKevin).

"This fucker's the most evil kid you'll ever meet," said Marshall as John made the introductions. "One day the US is gonna declare war on him for oil."

"Yeah?" I asked. "You got a lot of oil?"

"No, but I do own five million shares of a diamond mine that's being investigated by the SEC," said Evil Kevin.

"That's a hundred percent true," said Marshall, although by this time everyone was pretty drunk, so who knows?

I spent the next hour talking comics with a group of guys that I don't usually talk about comics with, which was a lot of fun, but not nearly as fun as when John turned to me and said "Hey man... You ever play HeroQuest?"

"Hell yeah I play HeroQuest! I love that game!"

There are few things in my life that I have enjoyed more than seeing a grown man, no matter how drunk, yelling out "THE BARBARIAN IS FUCKING AWESOME!" in the middle of a crowded bar. The memory of it brings a tear of joy to my eye.

But that wasn't the best moment of my entire life, although to be honest, it might be up there.

That moment came later, when I finally saw Tug, Josh, Heather and MG3 arrive. I got up to go over and talk to them, and a girl sitting at a table near the door grabbed MG3 and said: "Hey... is that Chris Sims?"

He told her it was, and I reached out to shake her hand. "Hi!" she said. "I'm Valerie! I love your NPR Trading Cards!"

It was awesome.

My friends over at RobLindsey.com had given her the address, and she's been my friend over on MySpace for a few weeks, but I'd never actually met her before tonight.

I don't know if she knows it, but being recognized in public for something I'd created may just have been the best moment of my life.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Chris Sims Birthstravaganza!

Wish me well!

New random factoids in sidebar, courtesy of Scott "Free" Simmons!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Second-Best Acronym in Comics

[Note: Tonight's ISB contains spoilers, so if you haven't yet read your comics for August 10, don't read anymore. Or go ahead, but don't come cryin' to me, ya nancy.]

With the rapid approach of my birthday (only a few hours left, folks), I've been taking a couple of days off from work. Now when it comes right down to it, I'm a pretty boring person. I tend to spend my time off by staying up late, sleeping until an ungodly hour of the afternoon, and capping off my day with a movie or some reading. If I'm feeling exceptionally industrious, I might toss a video game on the stack. Heck, throw in a few meals, and you've got my ideal vacation wrapped up in a nutshell.

Which is why it should come as no great surprise that today, I rolled out of bed at half past three, and settled into my new armchair to go about the business of reading my comics.

Yes, Seven Soldiers: Zatanna was great. And yes, Villains United #4 was like a special birthday present from Gail Simone that has ensured that I'll resume sending her love letters just as soon as my lawyers get everything properly straightened out. "Obsessive" is such a harsh word in today's climate...

But friends, they were blown away by a little thing I like to call Captain America #8:

Words cannot accurately express how thrilled I was by this issue, and for a simple reason:

Captain America fights the Military Operatives Designed Only for Combat.

Oh yes. Say it with me now, people:

The All-New All-Different MODOC.

Did you feel the chills? I did.

At this point, I really shouldn't have to explain why MODOK is the one of the best characters ever created. I mean, just look at him. He speaks for himself.

Jack Kirby wanted to create something that was Designed Only for Killing, and what he came up with was a massive head with tiny little arms and legs, Tug's haircut, and a floating chair. It's genius.

But even more than that, what got me so super-pumped is that between Marvel and DC, both of my favorite Jack Kirby acronymed characters are back, just the way I like them: In action, in trouble, and occasionally in awesome floating chairs.

What this means for you, the consumer, is that if Marvel and DC ever decide they don't hate each other again, we can get the crossover that I've been waiting for my entire life: The One Man Army Corps vs. the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.

Worlds would live. Worlds would die. But nothing would ever be the same.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This Bird Is Your FRIEND!

The birthday celebrations have no begun in earnest, as evidenced by the fact that I did nothing today but sleep 'til noon and go see March of the Penguins with my mom.

It was not, as I had previously thought, a documentary on the propaganda surrounding World War II's 493rd Penguin Brigade, which led the assault against Hitler's Antarctic Eis-Waffe and Oberstlieutenant Tinselbach. They were made the mascots for the OSS's Polar Batallions, and through posters such as the one below, kept the war going on the homefront as well:

Unfortunately, the Heroes of the 493rd do not, technically, exist. But still, it was a fun movie. And I even learned a few things:

1) Penguins are really fat.

2) Penguins sound a lot like the Tusken Raiders from Star Wars.

3) Baby penguins might be the cutest things I've ever seen.

There was, sadly, no appearnace from Badtz Maru. But I'm holding out hope for the sequel.

Monday, August 08, 2005

No, I Think That's a Terrible Idea

You ever have one of those days where you're having a dream where one of your old college professors tells you not to hit on this girl because she might be 17, and then you both get on a double-decker bus with fold-out seats mounted to the walls and go see "The Aristocrats" at the theater in the mall, but then you wake up when your boss calls you to tell you you're an hour late to work?

No? Just me? Figures.

Regardless, that's how my day began, and it didn't get any less strange as it went on.

Between finishing up Spiral-Bound and knocking out Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I got what might be the strangest phone call I've ever gotten at work.

First, though, a quick word about what I read: Spiral-Bound was impeccable. It's the kind of all-ages comic that people have been wanting for years, with fun characters having neat little adventures and a scene where townsfolk almost feed someone to a monster. Get it. Scott Pilgrim Volume 2, on the other hand, cemented my theory hat in the future, the word "Pilgrim" will replace "awesome" in the vocabularies of schoolchildren. Keep in mind that I also predicted that River City Ransom would become the focus of a major religion by 2015, so take that with a grain of salt. It's awesome, though.

Back to the phone call. Keep in mind as you read this that this is a direct translation, and the guy spoke with a sense of urgency that made it seem like the lives of a busload of third graders depended on my answer.

Ring-a-ding-ding. "Wizards and Villains."

"Did you or anyone you know see the recent edition of 20/20 with Lynda Carter?"

I have to admit, the fact that he launched straight into the question took me aback. "Uh, no, sir, not that I know of."

"Not that you know of. Well do you know of anyone that I could get a tape of it from?"

"I don't believe so."

"You don't believe so. Thanks." Click.

One of the things you get working at a comic book store is that a lot of people come in and want to talk about movies, like a) we have special access to information that they don't, and b) we care. And I've had to deal with a lot of people who write the ol' fan-fiction, too. But this is the first time I've ever had to deal with someone whose Wonder Woman fetish was so strong they had to call a place of business to find a VHS copy of an interview on an ABC News program about The Dukes of Hazzard.

I'm speculating on his reasons, of course, but tell me the facts add up to anything else.

There was once a guy from New Jersey whose power went out for several hours, and he was calling comic book stores all the way down the East Coast to see if someone could tape WWE's Monday Night Raw for him and send him the tape. I wonder if it was the same guy.

Later, after I'd had an occasion to realize that The Cap'n's new haircut makes him look suspiciously like a fatter, cockeyed version of current Undersecretary of State John Bolton (coincidence? I think not.), the Lynda Carter thing was topped as the Weirdest Question I've Ever Gotten.

Guy walks in--to a comic book store, mind you--holding a home ear piercing kit with a massive price-sticker reading "CLEARANCE" on it and walks up to the counter.

"Hey, man," he says to me, holding up the package, "you think it'd be all right if I did this myself?"

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I Am Weak

So I went out today and bought the stupid Oprah's Book Club William Faulkner Boxed Set, pictured here with the Punisher in an effort to re-manlify it a little bit:

I'm pretty sure there was a Punisher issue called "Sound and Fury."

Yep. There's no getting around it. That's a massive Oprah's Book Club logo right there on the front, and all the vigilantes hell-bent on revenge in the world can't make it go away.

In my defense, it's William-Frigg'n-Faulkner, it was cheap, and Waldens was having a "buy four get one free" sale.

But still... Oprah.

I go now to watch Road House six times and try to reclaim my manhood.

Joke & Dagger Dept.

Sometimes, even I miss the point.

But more on that in a moment. Earlier this evening, I went by the bookstore to remedy the fact that I don't seem to own any Shakespeare, and found out that it was Stephanie's last day. She's an amazingly pleasant person to speak to, and she turned me on to Jasper Fforde when I was looking for a Mother's Day present, for which I'll be eternally grateful. Unfortunately, just as I've gotten to the point where I trust her implicitly with directing my reading habits, she's moving. I was genuinely sad to see her go.

One more quick word about Waldens: Not to pull a Porto here (tag, Mike, you're it!), but the bookstore seems to be staffed exclusively by pretty girls and Rob Lindsey Dot Com. I asked him about it, because I figured it went down a lot like the scene from "the practice" where Denny Crane is interviewing Tara. Picture Rob sitting across the desk from some young brunette saying "I like pretty girls. Can you be a pretty girl, soldier?" and you'll have a good idea of what I was thinking.

To my dismay, that's apparently not how they get things done there. Rats.

Anyway, enough digression.

A few days ago, a woman came into the store with her son and asked me if we had any Spy vs. Spy comics.

"Not right now," I told her, "But they put out a book a few years ago that collects all of the strips Antonio Prohais did and a lot of his other work, including the early stuff. And it's got a great biography of him, too."

I've always been a big fan of MAD Magazine. It's one of two periodicals I've ever had an actual subscription to, and like so many of the guys who worked on that mag, Antonio Prohais is one of my heroes. He's every bit as much a master of slapstick sight gags as Chuck Jones, whose work I consider almost sacred.

But unlike my other comic book heroes, like Alan Moore and Walt Simonson, I admire Prohais for what he did off the page as much as what he did on it.

He was a political cartoonist back when that actually meant something, before the form devolved into cheap partisan gags that fail to even approach controversey. Specifically, he was known for doing anti-Castro cartoons in Cuba in the late '50s. At one point, Castro even used one of Prohais's cartoons as an example of how his enemies were undermining the state, leading the assembled crowd to chant for his execution.

He was threatened, kicked out of the Cuban Cartoonist's Association (despite not only serving as the group's president for two years, but also recieving Cuba's top newspaper award six times), and was fired from his own paper at the decision of his colleagues. He left for America just as Castro seized control of the newspapers, sending for his family after they were threatened on the radio, and never returned.

All of which, of course, led him to show up at the MAD offices in 1960, bringing along his 14 year-old daughter to translate for him. His work impressed Al Feldstein, Nick Meglin, and of course, Bill Gaines so much that they hired him on the spot.

His work is just a joy to read. I've re-written this paragraph three times because I keep gushing about the non-Spy vs. Spy stuff, but I'll just pare it down to this: He did a three page strip where psychological conditions are represented by flowers that's brilliant.

The book's amazing, and you should all get it.

I mentioned some of this to the woman at the store, going on for a few minutes about how he fled for his life from Castro.

"And there are some of the new Peter Kuper strips in there, too," I finished.

"Oh," she said, and gestured at the six year-old with her. "My son really likes them."

The lights in my room are burnt out and I don't have any fresh lightbulbs, so tonight's Shelf picture didn't quite turn out. Instead, have a look at the books I leave laying on the floor for easy access when I'm in bed:

Apparently, I'm reading Spiral Bound, a D&D adventure, the Harry Potter textbooks, and the instruction manual for my alarm clock.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Dreams of Terror and Death... Also, Pro Wrestlers

Earlier today, my good buddy Jim posted a link to the ISB over on Newsarama, which resulted in my previous record for a day's worth of unique hits being broken by a good 50+. Unfortunately, the article that he linked to was the second half of my diatribe on the worst comics of 2004, and that's pretty much sealed my fate to be dabbling in internet obscurity for the rest of my days, instead of actually writing comics.

It's a double-edged sword. But thanks for the hook-up, Jim. Now back to the lecture at hand.

So last night I had a dream about Hulk Hogan. He was fighting someone on the roof of a four-door sedan, and while I can't remember exactly who it was, I get the feeling it was either Snake Eyes or Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. Hogan was having a little trouble putting the unspecified ninja down, but he ended up "hulking up" and legdropping him through the roof of the car.

I'm going to go ahead and blame this one on VH1 and Bryan Lee O'Malley. I mean, I've gone three years without a dream about a professional wrestler, ever since the one where Vince McMahon was launching me into space on the shuttle Discovery to fight Triple H in the first Wrestlemania to be broadcast live from the surface of the Moon. So what are the odds that it would crop up again?

Regardless, after you wake up from seeing the guy who played Thunderlips in Rocky III trouncing Sub-Zero, the rest of your day is going to seem uneventful no matter what you do.

So I took advantage of having an unattainable goal of excitement and shot low. I ended up going to see The Dukes of Hazzard with Brandon and Billy in celebration of Brandon's last day in town. I have to say, it was pretty enjoyable. If you discount the scene where the Red-Headed Stranger takes on the frigg'n Bandit, it was about on par with your Starsky and Hutch or whatnot.

But there was one scene... I don't want to spoil it for anybody, but about halfway through, there's a bit that was worth the price of the entire movie--although in the entire theater, only two groups of people got it.

After that, I winded the evening down by settling into our brand new armchair (I've always wanted an ottoman, and now I'm living the dream!) and reading Top Ten: The Forty-Niners. I won't bore you with the details, but I'm pretty sure it's better than Liberality for All.

And now the latest installment in what I'm sure is the most boring (yet perilously close to being finished) ISB series yet, Chris's Bookshelves:

That one, by virtue of actually being large enough to see, is pretty self-explanatory, so allow me to throw in a bonus shelf:

Unlike my other shelves, this one's strictly regimented: Television in alphabetical order, and then theatrical releases in alphabetical order. And yes. That's Josie and the Pussycats dead center. I love that movie, and you can all freakin' eat me.


This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man!

It seems that I have been dissed.

Rest assured, my friends, that I would strike back with all the spiteful acrimony I could muster, except (a) I'm very tired right now, and (b) that guy doesn't post anything on his blog except pictures of Kylie Minogue and Prince lyrics, so it's not like I've got a lot to work with anyway.

And while I wasn't going to admit it, I have been buying a lot of books today that have the titles written in Comic Sans MS on the spine, so his jibes are rooted in fact.

Regardless, here's tonight's shelf. This one's in my room, over in the corner, and is easily the most disorganized one I have.

Quite untidy. Posted by Picasa

Highlights include:

1) The awesome Chris Giarrusso Wolverine sketch that was given to me by former coworker Boozer the Boozerian.

2) My copies of Small Favors volumes 1 and 2. I had the original trade dress for Volume 1, but when 2 came out, I had to get the new one so they'd match.

3) You can't see it in the picture, but there's a D&D miniature that I felt compelled to buy based solely on the strength of its name. He's a dwarf fighter, and according to the package, he goes by Brag Ironballs.

Now that's tough.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Trade Shelf

Over at SomethingAwful, Dr. David Thorpe has written an article that I wish I was clever enough to think of: Cliffs Notes for Trapped in the Closet. Much like the Daily Show's bit on Scientology last week, this one's way better than the one I did on the same topic, and it has the added bonus of reminding me of the time when I was in high school and I spent hours in the bathtub reading through the Notes for Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.

Well I couldn't read them all.

Anyway, go read it. After writing a mini-treatise on manga and Photoshopping up a birthday invitation earlier, there's not much to the ISB tonight.

Instead, here's the second stop on the whirlwind tour of Chris's Bookshelves. This one's in the hallway, and it's where I keep most of my trades.

...Of which I have quite a few. Posted by Picasa

The original picture was much bigger, but I don't have the space to host a 632k image all by my lonesome.

Still, I think it's funny that the ones you can pick out most easily are Jack Staff, Steranko's Nick Fury, and of course, Watchmen.

Here's a few other notes on the Trade Shelf:

1. Between that rainbow on the left side of the second shelf and last night's picture, it occurs to me that I own a lot of books about Conan.

2. Can you find Boba Fett in this picture?

3. If you figure it by weight, I have more trades by Alan Moore than anybody else. But then again, I've got two massive Absolute Editions to blame for that. Second place goes to Frank Miller (the Elektra Lives Again hardcover is on the bottom shelf, not pictured), and then the 'Mont, thanks to all my X-Men Essentials.

By all means, feel free to discuss.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Items of Interest

Here's a few things I've been thinking about today.

1) NPR's The Connection is getting cancelled. Dick Gordon recorded his last show on July 15, and after Friday, the show's going off the air, to be replaced by Tom Ashbrook's "On Point," a show that I'm not familiar with, but which sounds suspiciously like the Connection.

I've been a fan of Dick Gordon for a while. The majority of my drive to work usually takes place during the Connection, and he made a good follow-up to the Tavis Smiley Show--which was also taken off the air after Tavis resigned in protest of a lack of ethnic diversity. He was replaced by News and Notes, which is almost exactly the same as the Tavis Smiley Show, but without Tavis's genial charm.

What impressed me the most about Dick Gordon was that he had a gift for moderating the call-in sessions of the show, which invariably attracted at least one total crackpot per episode. I've got fond memories of a guy calling up during the 2004 Democratic National Convention after Bill Clinton's famous "Send Me" speech, and talking about how Kerry and Bush were both members of the same conspiracy that started in their days as Skull & Bones members at Yale.

Now admittedly, I'm as much an advocate of the Bill Hicks theory as anyone else ("I think the puppet on the left shares my views!" "I think the puppet on the right shares my views!" "Hey, there's one guy behind both puppets!"), but this guy was on the edge of raving. So Dick listens patiently, hears him out, and boils it down to the essential nugget of truth that's in every crackpot theory: "So you're saying that you just don't feel like there's a real difference between two mainstream party candidates."

The man has skills.

Footnote 1: When I was researching the above earlier tonight, I also found out that before Dick Gordon, the Connection was originally hosted by Christopher Lydon, who was either dismissed or resigned rather abruptly when he tried to claim ownership of the program itself (although he later returned to radio with his show "Open Source," which by all accounts is very good). And since no particular reason has been given for Dick Gordon's abrupt end (on the Connection, anyway), it does make one wonder. Specifically, I wonder if Dick Gordon's going to get a song about him by the Dresden Dolls, like they did for Lydon.

Footnote 2: When I tried to find out why the Connection was getting the axe, I checked WBUR's forums. As it turns out, they're oddly similar to the other internet messageboards I've seen in my time, except that everyone was very polite, they could all type well, and they came off as being extremely erudite. Also, nobody threatened to punch me in the face for not liking New Avengers.

2) Liberality for All is fucking terrifying. I saw this one when I did my Previews order and just passed over it, since it didn't look like my kind of thing. Then I had a guy come into the shop Saturday and special order it, and I still didn't even take a good look at the ad when I looked it up. Then today, Tug and Matt P. finally told me what it was.

Holy crap.

For those of you who aren't in the know, in Liberality for All (which, rest assured, will be appearing on the ISB again, I'm sure), the year is 2021, and because of a liberal government--led, of course, by President Chelsea Clinton--that's soft on terrorism, the United States has come under the complete control of the evil United Nations. Now, on Sept. 11, they're sending Ambassador Osama Bin Laden to New York, and only the robotically enhanced bodies of G. Gordon Liddy, Sean Hannity, and Oliver North can stop him from blowing it up.

Wow. Any way you look at it, that takes some brass ones.

Now despite the fact that the Previews ad appears to be as serious as a heart attack, and they talk about how they've promoted it on Hannity & Colmes, I'm thoroughly convinced it's a joke. It's just too over the top not to be. I mean, I've read the preview: Sean Hannity has a robot arm and an eyepatch. There's just no way it's serious.


3) Here's a picture of my bookshelf. Not quite sure why I took this. It was originally going to be for a joke about birthday presents, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that it'd be interesting to take some pictures of the bookshelves around my house, so that those of you who don't know me that well could get a good idea of the things I read. This is the one by the door, where I leave my keys and (generally) my wallet.

Click to Book It! Posted by Picasa

Um, and for the record? I got those Spider-Man novels on the cheap. Just curious is all.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Countdown Begins

It's the first of August, folks, and for those of you who don't know, that means the countdown... is on.

Yes, there are a mere eleven days left until the twenty-third anniversary of my birth.

I've gotten a reputation around the store for being obsessed with birthdays, primarily my own. I've been known to start laying the foundations of my plans (which never end up amounting to more than dinner at a nice restaurant) as early as February. It's annoying for those around me, and really does nothing but further my image as a self-centered egoist, but there's a reason for it.

My dad's birthday is (well, was, anyway) six days after mine on the 18th. He was a lifelong resident of Ohio, and like all denizens of that hellish land, he had an intense fascination with the beach. So every year, like clockwork, he'd make the drive and we'd spend the week there.

Which is all fine and dandy, except that I hate the beach. I liked spending the time with my dad (I'd show a picture, but at the time I had a sweet power mullet), but I can't stand heat, I sunburn easily, my ears hurt if I get so much as a drop of water in them, I hate seafood, and my sister almost drowned me.


On the same trip.

These alleged "accidents" aside, pretty much the only thing Pop and I enjoyed together was ogling girls in bikinis, which he did with aplomb. I don't think I've been back to the beach for more than a few hours since he died.

Anyway, continuing my apparent goal of sounding like the most ungrateful child ever, my mother's efforts were no better. Now I love my mom dearly. She's great. But I hate surprise parties, and she threw them for me for three years in a row.

I realize that I sound like a total bastard about this, and it's not that I don't appreciate her efforts, I swear to you, but I asked her specifically not to have them. It's hard to explain, but I'm actually a fairly private person, and when I'm ambushed, even by friends (although Mom has a knack for inviting people you hardly know to your party), I end up just feeling an intense pressure to be fun and entertaining. I enjoy the company of my friends (ask anyone at work--I hate to eat lunch alone), but when I'm ready to be alone, I get extremely uncomfortable around people. Not that you'd know it from the ISB, but I'm actually a very private person about some things, and in forced social situations, I feel trapped.

Now for a bit of clarification, I don't want you to think that my birthdays were some terrible ordeal or anything--they weren't bad at all. And the last surprise party Mom threw for me, with Jennifer, Edward, and the rest of my crew taking me out to lunch as a distraction, was the best birthday I've ever had. I just never really looked forward to them too much.

Which is something I decided to change two years ago. When I got the job at the shop, and the new friends that came along with it, I decided I wanted my twenty-first to be a big shindig. So I started plotting and planning, taking Tug's joking suggestion to have it at Frankie's Fun Park, a local mini-golf and laser-tag emporium, seriously to the point of figuring out the cost.

I was actually pretty surprised when nobody wanted to take the day off for it. I mean, who wouldn't want to skip work and get in eighteen holes of miniature fun?

So I went to Plan B, and had a dinner at Hops, where I failed spectacularly to drink roughly four ounces of beer. This has become legendary at the store, and MG3 will act it out at the drop of a hat, flailing his arms at the part where I take a sip of the lager.

The next year I moved to a swanky Italian joint, and my pal Billy surprised me by flying my ex-girlfriend down from Canada (she was real, damn it!). It was a great time.

What I've learned from the whole experience is that my birthdays tend to turn out better when I take matters into my own hands. So it's become a day that I really look forward to. I take a few days off from work--scandalous, I know--and kick back. I think that someone's birthday is when you tell them you're glad they were born, that they exist in your life. So I do my best to enjoy myself.

And I stay the hell away from the beach.