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Monday, November 27, 2006

R.I.P. DAVE COCKRUM, 1943-2006

One of the key visionairies of 1970's comics, Dave Cockrum, passed away in his sleep yesterday after a long battle with diabetic complications.

I first saw the guy's work in an issue of SUPERBOY back in 1973, an issue that also introduced me to the Legion of Super-Heroes, a feature that had seen a stretch of creative bankruptcy that Cockrum's vibrant artwork helped turn around. In no time at all his stunning visuals allowed the Legion to take over the book, relegating Superboy to supporting character status, but that was okay; Cockrum's run on the Legion, with gorgeous inks by Murphy Anderson, was just the kick in the ass that the series needed, but his run was all-too-brief. He left DC Comics for Marvel, and took the artistic reigns on a revival of the X-Men. Never a huge seller, UNCANNY X-MEN had been cancelled and reinstated as a reprint book when writer Len Wein took a shot at breathing new life into the existing "core" team of mutants by integrating them with newer, international characters to spice things up.

Wein and Cockrum didn't know it, but their collaboration would change the face of American superhero comics for all time by presenting the world with the "new" X-Men in 1975 with GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1.

Cover art by Gil Kane (foreground) and Dave Cockrum (background).

The success of the relaunch built momentum slowly, but within about three years this new take on the X-Men had generated a huge cult following, a devoted fan base that only grew when Cockrum left the series, spawning a mutant media empire that's kicked ass for three decades and shows no sign of slowing down.

Perhaps Cockrum's greatest strength was his flair for designing really cool costumes, especially for his female characters. He created the flamboyant visual for Nightcrawler as a Legion of Super-Heroes member, but saved for Marvel, a wise move since the Legion had a surplus of visually bizarre folk running about, and Nightcrawler was a mutant whose physical differences made him stand out to such a degree that he'd never be accepted by "normal" society. This swashbuckling Tuetonic goblin went on top become one of the most beloved of Marvel's stable of mutants, especially among female readers.

But my heart holds a very dear spot for Storm, the African weather-goddess. Sexy like nobody's business and powerful as hell to boot, no one has ever drawn her as well since Cockrum, especially because he rendered her face with an eerie, feline beauty that no other artist has even attempted to emulate. I also think her outfit is a triumph in super-heroine couture, especially the black leather cape/wings that attache to her wrists, and that one design element that instantly lets you know that Cockrum's been there: thigh boots.

Concept sketch for Storm, 1975.

The thigh boots returned with a vengeance when Dave came up with Jean Gray's classic Phoenix gear, only this time with liquid metal for the gold bits. Gaw-Juss!!!

And just look at Storm in flight; she looks as at home in the air as an eagle, and you can really sense a feeling of movement in this illustration:

So dig out your X-MEN reprints and spare a kind memory for Dave. Rest well, dude.

The original X-Men meet the "new" X-Men, c. 1976

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I see the sea.
The sea sees me.

— "Suburban Bathers" by the Residents

Last night as I went to bed, I put on the movie DAGON and let it inspire my dreams.

It's a loose blending of two H.P. Lovecraft short stories, “Dagon” (1917), and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (1936), both crawly tales of ancient sea gods and half-human fish people, subjects that hold great appeal to me as a water sign. As a child I often fantasized about growing me some gills, ditching the surface world, shouting “You fucking ROCK!!!” to Prince Namor (Arthur Curry is a big wuss — to say nothing of a MAJOR failure as an imitation — by comparison) and existing for the rest of my days amidst the limitless wonders found beneath the waves, and at times my adult reveries take me right back to that long ago part of my imagination. Most often in dreams.

There’s always a moment during my slumber when I know with absolute certainty that I’m dreaming, and when I reach that point I just surrender and let it take me where it will. Last night I came to in what the Australian aborigines call the Dreamtime somewhere very, very deep in the Stygian depths, unaware of how the hell I got there.

I felt the crushing pressure of the ocean, and even in a dream I knew that the air in my lungs would soon run out. My body drifted and bobbed about aimlessly, and my arms floated against my will, rendering me into a mock crucifixion position, preparing my flesh as some sort of questionable sacrament for any fish who might swim by. I hoped it would be a magnificent Great White shark, the badassed Carcharadon Carcharius, my favorite squaliform since I was a wee Bunche, who would come along and make short work of me, but I just hung there in undersea limbo for what seemed like an eternity. Then my attention was quickly diverted by a sensuous form, utterly at one with the Great Mother Ocean gracefully appearing as if from nowhere, and in an instant the merely strange leapt into the realm of the mythic.

A beautiful mermaid, a creature that I know does not exist, swam up to me, her huge hazel eyes filled with curiosity. Her gaze met me with a silent “What are you, odd thing?” and she circled me, her blue/green scales brushing against me in a frictionless tickle. There was no verbal communication; she was able to speak with a mouth full of water, clicks and whistles and such, but I had no such luck. All I could do was sit there and wonder at her otherworldly loveliness.

Her long, dark hair undulated around her mesmerizing face, slowly buffeted about by unseen currents that gave them a life independent of their source, and her perfect breasts, twin glories that would bewitch Poseidon himself, followed suit. Below this vision’s navel was where an ever-solidifying tattooing of scales formed into a lengthy tail that lazily fanned back and forth, assitsting the motions of her arms to hold her in place, and she craned her head forward to get a better look at me.

Those eyes held me transfixed as she appraised me, this clumsy foreigner in her world, and she appeared to reach the decision that I meant her no ill. At that, she moved closer and embraced me, her hands and tail wandering about my form in an effort to figure out what I was, touch being the one language we could share in her silent environment.

As what was left of the air in my lungs began to give up the ghost, the sea-goddess understood my plight, and she kissed me long and deep, sustaining me with her aquatic kindness. As our embrace became more affectionate, my ears resounded with a horrid mechanical beeping sound, and just before I awoke, my ichthyologic Isis embraced my head and softly said to me, “Soon.” I gazed into her eyes and saw her mouth draw back into a melancholy smile, and then she abruptly disappeared.

At that moment, I awoke and picked up the phone whose ringer I usually turn off before I go to bed, only to be greeted by some woman looking for “Anthony.” I told her that she had a wrong number, and she politely apologized, and I returned the phone to its cradle.

I then lay there on my bed, utterly awake, and staring at the ceiling, longing to return to the depths and the welcoming arms of that far away Nereid…

Sometimes dreams have as little mercy as the waking world.

Friday, November 24, 2006

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, AND WELCOME TO MY NUTS — by guest scribe Sirius the dog

My name is Sirius, and I'm a dog. Aah, don't look so shocked. Some of you out there think this blog could be written better by a dog, so Bunche took the day off and recruited my four-legged ass to fill in while he enjoyed Thanksgiving. At my house, no less.

When that blog-jockey Bunche showed up I growled at him like I do whenever I see him. I know the guy and he's okay, I guess, but now and then you have to remind certain two-leggers of their place. And if he gives me any crap about it, I'll pop him one right in the marble sack with my whip-tail technique. And what's with that asinine Davey Crockett bullshit on his head? The shit isn't even real!

And how's this for inconsiderate: the two-leggers I live with had the temerity to invite a whole slew of their kind over for the night, violating my territory and making too much noise. I mean, really!

They mostly sat around yackyackyacking and slurping down this weird-smelling hot stuff that sure as shit wasn't water. Funny, but as they downed more and more of the stuff, everybody got happier and louder. I have no idea what it was, since I was not offered one single stinking drop.

The male two-legger I live with even put this on the wall above the bowl they were taking their "happy water" from.

I have no idea why, since the little non-moving ants on the paper mean nothing to me. I mean, what the hell kind of ants don't move?

This guy hangs out with my two-legger pack all the time, and the one sitting next to him is his mother. Living here in Brooklyn, I understand most of the weird barks the two-leggers make but I was confused by the mother's noises because most of them were not in English, but instead were what they bark in some place called "Kreet" or something. And even stranger was when the guy barked back to her in that Kreet stuff...I know this guy pretty well and he's never once barked in Kreet, so what the hell was that about?

The worst part of all of this for me was all the food that my pack was making. Think about it: I am a dog and, consequently, I have a nose that detects aromas in ways that you can never even begin to imagine, and while the food smelled good to the noisy bunch of strays, it smelled REALLY good to me and I am not allowed to have anything from off the table. Considering how much food there was, that's pretty fucking mean and no way to treat "man's best friend." If you think it sucks being black, try being a black dog. Believe me, you get NO appreciation.

Tracey, my female two-legger, checked on the enormous "organic, super-free range" turkey — whatever the hell that means — and mouths began to water. I've lived with Tracey for a long time and while she feeds me every day. I vaguely remember getting my meals straight from the tap on someone with ten tits and that DEFINITELY isn't her, so I wonder who that was?

As the massive feed was laid out, I was certain to receive not even a crumb, so all I could do was yearn like a forlorn puppy.

The turkey was a gigantic hunk of poultry awesomeness, running with juices and appetizing meat that didn't even need seasoning — dog's nose, you know — and not one speck of it found its way to my mouth.

There was a lasagna made with pesto, and loaded to bursting with yummy sausage that I did not get to taste.

And among about a dozen other things that my pack made and their strays brought, there was a spinach pie made by the mother who barked Kreet. That stuff smelled too good to resist, so I summoned up the patience of my hunter ancestors and waited to make my move. When I thought no one was looking, I licked that spinach pie like the fragrant end of a bitch in heat and I know that Bunche saw me do it, kindly giving me about twenty seconds at it before playfully shooing me away. I like to think that he's on my side and also had fun with trying to figure out who got the parts I tasted. Funny thing is, I think he got them.

But, sadly for me, a lick is still just a lick, so I had to content myself with my rawhide bone. *SIGH*

The hours dragged by and the pack of strays masticated shamelessly, all heedless of the loyal and noble beast who suffered semi-silently as they gorged.

Soon enough the strays had done a number on that turkey that would have made a pack of hyenas jealous, but still no food-lovin' for yours truly.

Tracey wandered through the noisy throng and since I see a lot of the teevee that she and her mate watch, in this outfit she reminded me of a sci-fi galley slave.

She's a great mom, and I should know what I'm talking about. She was even nice enough to spoon feed garlic mashed potatoes to the strays who needed help after too much of that "happy water."

As my bedtime approached and the strays showed no sign of getting the hell out, I began to wind down and Brendan, Tracey's mate, took time out to comfort me. At least somebody cares...

And I don't know about you, but when I want to make sure that I have pleasant dreams, I like to "have one off the paw" before I sack out, and strays or no strays, I had to get my hump on.

I put my two cushions/girlfriends through a vigorous Great Daneing, and before long I had taken the edge off and regained my composure.

So that's the story of my Thanksgiving. And if any of you are wondering how I, an allegedly "dumb" animal, am able to write a guest spot on this blog, isn't it obvious? I'm possessed.

Sirius "the Devil's Own" McTague

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Well, folks, for the first time in my forty-one years I am not spending Thanksgiving at home with the family, and that's a big step for me. I usually spend turkey day with my mother at the homestead in Connecticut, and while I love the shameless gluttony that goes on, it's just not worth the emotional turmoil and family dysfunction that has erupted without fail for the past twenty years. My mom and I have had a contentious relationship since I was a kid, and once I started to grow out of being her "little boy," the fights escalated and have not stopped since, and unless meals are being shared or presents are being exchanged, being at home is a nearly non-stop barrage of criticism, control freak badgering, unwanted advice and the like, and I have finally had enough of it. There's only so long that one can be guilted into returning home for more bullshit, and I have reached my absolute limit; she gets me at home for Christmas, and that's it.

Instead I will be spending the holiday at the home of Tracey the waitress/godddess and her husband, and I think that will be a welcome change. Traveling to their house takes mere minutes by bus, as opposed to shelling out over twenty bucks for a round trip fare to Westport and approximately three hours of of total there-and-back travel time for what amounts to less than twenty-four hours before having to haul my ass back here to be at work by 3PM the next day. There will be good food, good vibes, and a big-assed Great Dane named Cyrus, and I embrace all of it.

I also have the "Channel Nine Special" at the ready, just in case. Those of us of a certain age who grew up in the tri-state area remember fondly how local TV station WWOR, channel 9, would hold kiddies enthralled each Thanksgiving day with a triple feature of the original KING KONG, SON OF KONG, and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, and the next day they handed us three random Godzilla movies (for your own Godzilla-thon, I recommend GODZILLA VERSUS MOTHRA, GODZILLA VERSUS MONSTER ZERO, and that ultimate monster rally, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS). This inspired act of kindness went on until the late 1980's, and once gone from the annual schedule it was kept alive by those of us who obtained the movies on VHS and ran them in the name of nostalgia, and the tradition lives on thanks to DVD. Yes, the monkey-festival and rubber suit lizard extravaganzas are ready to roll if the dinner shindig ends early, and my hookah is packed with the kind of bud that goes perfectly with such cinematic diversions.

The one thing I'm saddened by is the lack of a full-time, in-the-area ladyfriend to squire about because holidays are meant to be shared with people you care about, but dems da breaks. This season is fantastic in the Big Apple, filled with happy people milling about, seasonal indulgences such as fine dining and spoiling one's inamorata with small tokens of affection, and warm, at-home snuggling after a day on the town. Yep, once more the goddesses mock yours truly, so I send out a warm Thanksgiving wave of good thoughts to a certain semi-distant siren whom I long to see again soon.

And to the rest of you, if you have a non-dysfunctional family, treasure that and have a kickass holiday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


When I awoke this morning, the last thing I expected to see was Michael Richards — better known as Cosmo Kramer from TV's SEINFELD — neck deep in a shitstorm of his own making, the kind of incident that made me shout at the TV, "Career OVER!!!" The morning news showed bootleg footage of a stand up performance in LA wherein Richards lashed out at a couple of black hecklers, and... well, read it for yourself:

Michael Richards, Seinfeld's Kramer, apologizes for racial slurs
LYNN ELBER, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - He called two black hecklers the "n-word" and enthusiastically referenced a time when blacks were often victims of civil rights abuses, but Michael Richards said his verbal barrage during a stand-up routine was fueled by anger and not bigotry. "For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap. I'm deeply, deeply sorry," the former "Seinfeld" co-star said during a satellite appearance for David Letterman's "Late Show" in New York. "I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this," Richards said, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself.

Richards described himself as going into "a rage" over the two audience members who interrupted his act Friday at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. His explanation was reminiscent of Mel Gibson's assertion that he wasn't anti-Semitic after he let off a barrage of Jewish slurs during a traffic stop last summer: despite what came out of his mouth, that's not what is inside him.

Industry colleagues were in no hurry to accept Richards' apology. "Once the word comes out of your mouth and you don't happen to be African-American, then you have a whole lot of explaining," comedian Paul Rodriguez, who was at the Laugh Factory during Richards' performance, told CNN. "Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations."

Veteran publicist Michael Levine, whose clients have included comedians George Carlin, Sam Kinison and Rodney Dangerfield, called Richards' remarks inexcusable. Comics often face hecklers without losing their cool, he said. "I've never seen anything like this in my life," Levine said Monday. "I think it's a career ruiner for him. ... It's going to be a long road back for him, if at all."

His Laugh Factory tirade began after the two clubgoers shouted at him that he wasn't funny. A videotape of the incident was posted on Richards retorted: "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--." He then paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting his show, peppering his speech with racial slurs and profanities. "You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now, mother------. Throw his a-- out. He's a n-----!" Richards shouts before repeating the racial epithet over and over again. Moderating his tone at one point, Richards tells the audience, "It shocks you, it shocks you" and refers to "what lays buried."

While there is some chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, someone can be heard gasping "Oh my God" and people respond with "ooh" after Richards uses the n-word. Eventually someone calls out: "It's not funny. That's why you're a reject, never had no shows, never had no movies. `Seinfeld,' that's it."

Richards deserved the chance to apologize, Jerry Seinfeld said on the "Late Show." "He's someone that I love and I know how shattered he is about" what happened, Seinfeld said. At one point, however, Richards grew flustered and expressed second thoughts about appearing on the program when his use of the term Afro-American" caused some audience members to laugh. "I'm hearing your audience laugh and I'm not even sure that this is where I should be addressing the situation," he said.

Richards, 57, who played Seinfeld's eccentric neighbor Kramer on the hit 1989-98 sitcom, hadn't spoken publicly about his remarks before "Late Show."

Now I'm hardly surprised when I hear shit like this, but what the fuck was he thinking? It's stupid enough to call Black people niggers and not expect to get your ass kicked, but to do so ON FUCKING STAGE?!!? And bringing up lynchings in such a manner is not the kind of thing that one blurts out in the heat of the moment; that's an intentional dredging up of one of this nation's most painful and protracted campaigns of terror, and Richards obviously knew what kind of reaction it would provoke. I saw the footage of this for myself at and at first wondered if he was drunk or high on something, but now I'm convinced that he's simply your garden variety racist idiot. I'm not that shocked by what he said, but the fact that it was all captured thanks to the magic of those enterprizing bootleggers is the icing on the cake, and Richards' rantings will no doubt be sampled in rap recordings for at least the next year. I can just imagine the sound of the bass-driven SEINFELD theme looped over a phat beat as the voice of Kramer rains abuse upon "niggers," only to be far more eloquently clowned by professional Black wordsmiths.

I also found Richards' apology on Letterman to be hilariously insincere, and he was so clearly gobsmacked by the enormity of his gaffe that he looked like he'd been hit by a freight train.

Sadly, Mel Gibson could not be reached for comment.


It’s always an iffy proposition to attempt the revivification of a moribund franchise, and some attempts are more successful than others. TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY went tits-up the second it hit the screen (did anyone other than me see that one?), BATMAN BEGINS met with critical and box office success (I couldn’t stand it), and SUPERMAN RETURNS gave us special effects that finally caught up with what the Man of Steel can do and rendered his super-feats visually believable, but offered little other than Brandon Routh’s turn in the role. Yeah, I know I gave it a gushing review a few months back, but upon careful consideration after a second viewing, the flick really wasn’t all that (I can hear Jared’s maniacal laughter right now). Which brings me to the latest entry in the forty-four-year old James Bond series.

James Bond, agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is a character rooted firmly in the Cold War, first turning up in novels in the 1950’s before making the leap to cinema in 1962 (it’s best not to recall the piss poor American television “adaptation” of CASINO ROYALE from the fifties) and as the years went by he has been retooled for each subsequent generation of moviegoers. As his original Cold War scenarios gave way to a changing world, Bond’s adventures relied more and more on fantastic sci-fi elements to keep things moving, and the ruthless secret agent became a self-parody for whom no situation was non-negotiable, and as a result his adventures held little or no suspense.

After Sean Connery left his indelible, dick-swinging mark on the series and moved on, George Lazenby stepped in for a one-shot performance in what many fans consider to be the finest entry in the run — 1969’s ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, in case you don’t know — but he heeded some of the worst career advice ever given and quit the series because his agent was convinced that the Bond series was destined to die in the wake of “youth-oriented” hits such as THE GRADUATE and EASY RIDER. Connery returned once more for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, a regrettable decision since the movie has the dubious distinction of being the first 007 movie to flat out suck balls as opposed to simply being dull (THUNDERBALL, anyone?), and it’s truly painful to witness Connery overweight, a bit rickety, and sporting a toupee so bad that one expected to see Davey Crockett steal his walker, punch him in his beer gut and demand the return of his coonskin cap.

Then Roger “I Was Better As the Saint” Moore took the reins with his smarmy, aging hipster portrayal and the series went to previously undreamed of realms that redefined “over-the-top,” shifting gears into outright comedy that self-consciously winked at its audience. After the post-STAR WARS excesses of MOONRAKER and its Bond in space idiocy, the filmmakers wisely ditched much of the goofiness, coming back strong with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, the tightest entry of Moore’s run, and then almost immediately backpedaled to outright implausibility with the execrable OCTOPUSSY and A VIEW TO A KILL, my own personal choice for the absolute nadir of the series (old-assed Roger Moore snowboarding and killing bad guys while “California Girls” blares on the soundtrack? Nigga, please). Fortunately, that debacle saw the end of the Moore era, with seven films in a row leaving him as the actor who holds the record for most appearances as 007 in the official series.

Next in line was Timothy Dalton, a perfect choice for a late-1980’s reboot that aimed to bring Bond back to his edgy template from Fleming’s novels, but Dalton had the misfortune of being stuck in two of the weakest flicks in the franchise’s history, namely THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS and LICENCE TO KILL, the former being so fucking boring that it should be patented as a surefire cure for insomnia. What really galls me about the films in Dalton’s run is that most viewers blame their failure squarely on Dalton, when the real problem was in the scripts; no solid story, no movie, but to this day Dalton gets unjustly slagged off as perhaps the worst Bond ever seen, and that’s a damned shame.

Pierce Brosnan’s handling of 007 swept in like a suave breath of fresh air, but once more the stories were very much hit-or-miss. There are those who love GOLDENEYE, but I place it just behind THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS as a stone-cold, boring dud, and out of Brosnan’s four installments I only enjoyed TOMORROW NEVER DIES (BTW, what the fuck does that title mean?) and about two-thirds of DIE ANOTHER DAY, while THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH comes in just behind A VIEW TO A KILL in my estimation as the most painful vindaloo turd of the entire series, barely edging out DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER to claim second place. But as James Bonds go, Pierce Brosnan was my favorite since Sean Connery in his prime.

Which brings us up to date, and to the first serious attempt at rendering Fleming’s first 007 yarn, 1953’s CASINO ROYALE, as a big screen confection. Please don't get me started on the comedic version from the 1960's...

For those not in the know, Fleming’s novels are (for the most part) straight-up espionage thrillers, each hung on the shoulders of a deeply flawed professional killer whom the reader respects not for any bits of incidental heroism that he may display, but more for the coldly efficient way in which he approaches his job. Bond’s is an occupation he’s perfectly suited for, and that’s being the school bully with lethal skills and a government stipend. He’s a bit sadistic, has major issues with women, and is not necessarily a person you’d want to know or be like in any way, and considering when the film series got started, much of what made Bond so interesting as a protagonist in prose form had to be toned down for the mass market theatergoing audience.

The 2006 CASINO ROYALE can get away with what its predecessors couldn’t, and it seeks to relaunch the franchise from the ground up with what is essentially the story of how James Bond made the leap from freelance hitman to his status as a licensed-to-kill “double 0” operative of Britain’s MI-6, and his first mission in that capacity. Yes, we’re supposed to approach this film as though there had never been another James Bond flick, so the leaden baggage of over four decades does not weigh down this film, although the nearly two-and-a-half hour running time does stretch things a tad.

The story is simplicity itself: upon earning his double-0 status, Bond sets his sights on Le Chiffre, a scumbag who funds international terrorism. The poker-expert villain seeks to raise $150,000,000 for his evil endeavors by winning a high stakes Texas Hold ‘Em game (Chemin de Fer in the novel) at Casino Royale in Montenegro, so the Brits send badass poker player 007 to destroy the bastard with his card-playing acumen. Throw in some taught, downright exhausting action sequences and a beautiful love interest, and you have a recipe for a James Bond movie that could go either way. Thankfully, this time around we have capable filmmakers who actually gave a shit about what they were doing.

Contemporary setting aside, the producers wisely chose to stick pretty close to the source novel, and the film has the nasty, violent flavor that I love in Fleming’s books, something that may be shocking to Bond fans who are unfamiliar with the character outside of the movies. This film is shockingly brutal, especially considering its PG-13 rating, and the violence works both ways, affecting Bond as well as his enemies, the only difference between the hero’s injuries and those of the bad guys being that Bond survives his set-to’s, albeit broken, slashed, bruised, and bleeding.

Daniel Craig is excellent as 007, and he’s definitely my favorite in the role since Sean Connery, even delivering scenes of emotional depth that I doubt Connery could have pulled off during his Bond years. He’s nailed Bond as a brutal, if skilled, thug whose seemingly blank blue-eyed gaze disguises an ambulatory killing machine who can explode into a flurry of hand-to-hand asswhuppery in an instant, and there is little about him that is admirable; he’s definitely an off-the-leash pitbull for the British government, one step removed from being a total animal thanks to his meticulous, professional approach to his work. This guy would kill you as soon as look at you, if that was what needed for the job, and he is one very scary motherfucker.

Another plus is the absence of ludicrous sci-fi gadgets, the element of the series that annoyed me even more than the nauseating one-liners. The tech stuff this time around is nothing more than intelligent usage of cell phones, some tracking devices, a "bug" or two, and Bond's car having a glove compartment stocked with acceptable neccessities. And none of the automobiles have super-powers, for the first time since 1964's GOLDFINGER, and I welcome that with open arms.

I won’t say anything else about the film itself so you, the moviegoer, can discover this Bond on your own, but I will mention this for those who know the book: yes, the torture scene actually made it to the screen — guys, hold onto your “boys” during that one — and the novel’s character-defining final line is there as well, used to a much more understated effect than in the book, but at least it’s present, even at the risk of turning off a large portion of ticket buyers.

The Bond geek in me was quite satisfied, so much so that I rank this CASINO ROYALE as number three among my favorites in the series, coming in behind ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, and the superlative FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Pleased to meet you again, Mister Bond. Come back soon, and show no mercy.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


One of the things I truly love about the movies is how when a film comes out, there will be a porn version of it released within two weeks. The lofty pantheon of tenderloin "homages" include such classics as SPLENDOR IN THE ASS, HANNAH DOES HER SISTERS, HAIRY SQUATTER AND THE SORCERER'S BONE, FACEBALLS, BACKSIDE TO THE FUTURE, WHERE THE BOYS AREN'T, SHAVING RYAN'S PRIVATES, THE FLINTBONES, AN OFFICER AND A GENITAL MAN and of course, FILL BILL, and whatever films are released this week will get the same treatment. So with that in mind, I eagerly await seeing this charmer when next I visit Achmed's House of Adult Videos:

Bring on the penguin-plushie smut!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006


The debut of James Bond, first edition, 1953.

I arrived early at the barbecue joint today so I could eat my lunch and watch PASSIONS in peace before we open at 3PM, and while stuffing my face with an excellent eggplant parmesean sandwich I happened upon a PBS rerun of last night's Charlie Rose show. Rose was interviewing Daniel Craig, the latest actor to take on the James Bond mantle - he's the sixth one on the big screen, for those who are counting - so I decided to listen to what the 007 newbie had to say. After five minutes and a couple of clips, I was utterly sold.

Let's get one thing straight: I love me some James Bond, namely the Fleming novels, and about half of the movies, so I have anticipated the new CASINO ROYALE with great interest and trepidation. The current film is attempting a reboot of the franchise, minus the baggage of forty-four years of cinematic history, and presenting what is essentially the origin of James Bond and how he earned his double-o classification. What interests me most about all of this is that the filmmakers are doing an adaptation of the first Bond novel, and from all accounts it's going to be a pretty straight, violent, and bloody affair, returning the character to his dark and violent roots as basically a government-sanctioned assassin rather than the super-hero he has become over the years. The Bond of the books is a complex creation, a man of deep psychological issues and sometimes creepy, edgy behavior, in short, a mess. A mess with a gun and a sadistic streak. That's a character I find very intriguing, especially as the hero of a series, and I'm dying to see if that interpretation makes it to the big screen.

I was intending to see CASINO ROYALE during its first matinee showing this morning, but I had a lot on my mind and didn't want to see it in a distracted state, so I'll wait until Monday and see it with a friend who's in town from the UK. After that, I'll be back with an in-depth review.

The current paperback edition. Gotta love that retro/pulp design!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Dear readers-

Are there any of you out there who know your way around the ins and outs of astrology? If so, what do you have to say about the compatibility between signs? I'm curious about the Cancer/Sagittarius thing; I've done some research, but I don't believe in the concrete rules as written. Any real-life practical advice that can be imparted would be greatly appreciated, so please write in.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGH!!! I'm going stir crazy, I need a beer, and while rummaging through a box full of memorabila from my misspent youth I chanced upon this twenty-five-year-old button that reminds me of one of the most basic facts in life:

Indeed it is, and there's none for me at the moment. Thanks for reminding me, stupid button.

This week my two days off have found me pulling out my hair in an attempt to get further in my National Novel Writers Month project, an impass made all the more frustrating because it's a contemporary fantasy piece that I've had brewing for a while. The further I get with it, the less I like it; it comes off like I'm too in love with my words, and has a flavor of wannabe "clever" to it, two things I fucking hate from writers. I was ready to scrap what I've written and start another work entirely, but I had the good sense to run it past a certain Muse before I did anything hasty. She advised me to stick with it and tell the editor in me to fuck off; "Don't read it, write it," she said. "Think of it pruely as a first draft. Just get it done." She was, of course, absolutely right, and nailed the problem right on the head. I'm highly critiical of most things, but am harshest on myself and what I do, therefore making myself my own worst enemy. My much-needed "stop being such a pussy" pep talk from the Muse was a perfect tonic, and I will return to my novel tomorrow, but today I needed to get away from my laptop and haul my ass out into the real world. Thanks to some weird twists of fate involving my bank account and some overdue freelance checks I'm more broke than usual, so my budget would be low, but there's a lot of fun to be had if you have enough cash for some lunch, coupled with a working knowledge of where to browse and a fully-loaded Metrocard.

I did my usual trip to Crif Dogs on St. Mark's Place near Avenue A, and now that I have a decent digital camera I can capture the wonder of the vintage Times Square condom machines adorning the wall in a place that sells the most phallic of comfort foods.

I just love the idea of a vending machine with the word "poontang" on it.

After a yummy lunch of a couple of cheese dogs, a small order of tater tots — which was larger and cheaper than an order of "super-sized" McDonald's fries — and a birch beer, I sauntered over to Toy Tokyo, an overpriced Nirvana of imported toys from the Land of the Rising Sun. I frequently go there to torture myself by checking out the cool toys that I can in no way afford, and the agony was no less this time around, especially when I saw this twisted toybox escapee:

How different would my childhood adventures with my G.I. Joes have been if Alex from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE had been a member of the Adventure Team? Perhaps that's an idea best not considered, but I would love to see the look of horror and disgust on the face of Cherie, the mother of my niece Sadie-Rain, as I presented the little one with this toy, proclaiming him to be barbie's new boyfriend. But that scenario will never come to pass because little Alex, my favorite droogie, bears a price tag of three-hundred and seventy-five bucks. Yes, you read that right.

I then made my way back up St. Mark's Place toward the subway back to Brooklyn, and was psyched to see a piece of old New York coming back in a big, anachronistic way. I'd seen a news item on the return of the old Automat concept, but was a little surprised to see one opening in the East Village rather than Times Square, perhaps the city's ultimate crossroads, traversed by countless people every day. But, whatever. It was nice to see a bit of the old Manhattan spirit reincarnated, even on a tourist trap block like St. Mark's Place.

It looks a little too much like the future filtered through the sensibilities of Sid & Marty Kroft, and I'm willing to bet that the food sucks as much as the rest of the food on this block — Fuck the Dojo! — but at least it's a novel idea. Let's see how long it lasts.

Then, just befoore I hit the subway, I saw this odd vision.

Yes, some kid was wearing the sacred image of the late, great G.G. Allin as a loincloth, a gesture I'm sure he would have appreciated. Was this some kind of sign? If so, I'm at a loss as to its meaning, but I can assure you that when I get into the kitchen at the barbecue joint tomorrow afternoon I will crank "I Wanna Piss On You," singing along and giggling like a sophomoric idiot. Then, back to the novel.

I need some osh-osh...

Friday, November 10, 2006


Some of you may recall about a month ago when my computer suffered a near-fatal accident — you are totally forgiven, Marius, so no worries — and the fact that I was briefly offline. Well, when the disaster happened I was mad enough to bite the fangs off of a king cobra, but I kept it together since it was clearly an accident, but I began to panic when I realized there was no way could afford a new computer. My mind raced as I mulled over my options, and then I remembered Harry, an old friend who also happened to be a Mac whiz.

I picked up the kitchen’s phone and punched in Harry’s digits, expecting not to reach him because it was one of those days, but the internet gods were on my side and I was granted an audience with the Wizard. Harry listened to my impassioned (translation: “freaked out”) ranting, and when I was done his affable voice assured me that all would be well. He even invited me over for a next day repair session, and so I braved torrential rain and schlepped my beige ass to Queens to turn his talented hands loose upon my poor, injured laptop (boy, that reads kind of questionable…).

When Harry let me into his high-tech sanctum, it was more of a social visit for me than a tension-fraught case of twiddling my thumbs while some dickhead ripoff artist molested my machine, possibly even stealing some of the naughty pics that dwell deep in its hard drive. We shot the shit while Harry worked his magic, and I was put totally at ease; I may be a rabid blogger, but I am the worst kind of Luddite and have no head for tech stuff, so Harry is a major godsend. When all was said and done, Harry had restored my computer, and then some, thereby lowering my blood pressure and allowing my never-ending quest for cyber-porn to continue in earnest.

So if you live in the NYC area and need someone who actually knows what the fuck he’s doing to look at your ailing Mac — not PC — I cannot recommend Harry’s skills highly enough. So, here’s his info already!

The Mac Doctor - Harry Candelario

House-calls & Phone help
Specializes in Mac computers (No PCs), the Mac Doctor makes your life easier by coming to you!
Expert in hardware as well as operating system problems!
No need to suffer "Separation Anxiety" or worry that someone might be stealing your files!

Services include:
Minor and major upgrades such as:
•Upgrade to Mac OS X
•Internal hard-drive installation
•PCI card installation (for example- extra video card, extra USB or firewire card - desktops only)
•Memory upgrades and finding the best priced RAM for you
•High speed internet set up: Cable of DSL
•wireless internet and installation of wireless card
•Home and Office Networking of Macs with other Macs and/or PCs
•Solving conflicting software problems
•complete Data transfer
•Data rescue (first level)
•Thorough back ups
•Printer set-up
•Software installations
•out of the box set-up
•re-wiring your system (making cords neat)
•Phone support
•money saving tips
Phone help includes:
•Solving small Mac problems that you just can't figure out.
•Advice on what to and what NOT to install on your Mac.
•Advice on what and where to buy for the best deals.

Expert in Mac OS 8, OS 9 and OS X!

Did you just buy a brand new Mac and need help transferring your old files?
Want to switch from PC to Mac? The Mac Dr. can help!
Whether it's your home or place of work, it doesn't matter. Most problems are FIXED in mere hours, not days. And 99% of the work is done on your premises! Yes, the Mac Dr. will go anywhere in NYC that the Subway will take him, so don't delay, call today!

Prices: Call the Mac Dr. and explain your problem; If he can help you, he will try to give you an estimate of time and price. And if you send an email, please state in the subject line that it's Mac Dr. business; he gets hundreds of emails a day, so alerting him to your concerns will get his attention and he will get back to you swiftly.
And remember: if the Mac Dr. CAN'T help you, he will let you know right away and do his best to direct you to someone who can assist you.


Famed film composer and conductor Basil Poledouris died on Wednesday after losing his battle with cancer. The guy composed a multitude of scores, including BIG WEDNESDAY (1978), THE BLUE LAGOON (1980), RED DAWN (1984), ROBOCOP (1987), LONESOME DOVE (1989), THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990), FREE WILLY (1993), IT’S MY PARTY (1996) and STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997), but the soundtrack of his that totally kicked my ass was CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982). Capturing the epic scale of the hero's journey, Poledouris' music added immeasureably to what would otherwise have been just a big budget sword & sorcery epic, only with the added bonus of Arnold Schwarzenneger's accent actually not working against him for once. Even if CONAN THE BARBARIAN isn't your idea of a cinematic triumph (which, in a genre rife which steaming celluloid horse turds, it kind of is), you owe it to yourself to give the soundtrack a listen.

Anyway, rest well, Basil.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Let's face it, dirty comics are nothing new. They've been around at least since the days of those nasty eight-page "Tijuana Bibles" that depicted celebrities and popular comic strip characters getting their hump on with grossly exaggerated genitalia running rampant, and were further popularized by the underground comics boom of the 1960's, particularly the fleshy, sweaty and at times downright filthy spewings from the febrile pen of Robert Crumb. I have loved Crumb's work since first sneaking issues of ZAP COMIX and other such forbidden treasures into the house when I was thirteen, and as I got older and gained more wisdom in the area of the couplings that he delineated, I appreciated his stuff for the simple fact that he was a geek, and in case you didn't know it, we geeks tend to be a sex-obsessed lot. As such, Crumb's interests fueled his illustrations with a realistic animal lust never before seen in the medium; to put it bluntly, the reader could feel the urgency in the character's parts, and those black & white cartoon pussies appeared to be every bit as humid and inviting as the real thing.

But the one aspect of Crumb's work that rendered his pornographic efforts somewhat offputting to many, myself included, was a pervasive sense of fear, and even hatred, of women, something that Crumb's later period works seem to have grown past, but it's a real shame that his unmatched talents could not have been channeled into a work that celebrated osh-osh with the detailed eye and sense of humor that he freely displayed in almost everything he created. Only Richard Corben has come close to equaling Crumb in the arena of squashily-rendered torsos engaging in the skin-to-skin bossa nova, while far lesser "talents" crank out unpleasant dreck like HORNY BIKER SLUT and VEROTIKA. But then guys like Dave Cooper pop up from out of nowhere and breathe a breath of fresh air into the fetid atmosphere of the sex comics brothel.

Cooper has brought readers many oddball concoctions over the years — most notably the uber-surreal, perverse Mother Goddess yarn SUCKLE — but nothing prepared me for CYNTHIA PETAL'S REALLY FANTASTIC ALIEN SEX FRENZY! The setup is simplicity itself: Cynthia Petal returns home from work one night only to find a trio of bizarre, telepathic aliens from another dimension hanging out in her apartment. The creatures are benevolent and tell her that they are "here only to bring you pleasure," which they do by first amping up her natural pleasure receptors, spurring an impromptu session of showerhead masturbation with a cucumber chaser. From that point on her every wish is made reality thanks to the aliens plumbing her subconscious for erotic/pleasurable fodder, and in short order her home becomes the setting for a spectacular and visually ludicrous orgy involving booze, music video stars, superheroes, close friends, and anyone Cynthia happened to find attractive. There's no violence, no bad vibes, just a bunch of characters enjoying each other without fear of any negative consequences (the aliens can handle anything), and that's what makes CYNTHIA PETAL'S REALLY FANTASTIC ALIEN SEX FRENZY! so much fun. The good feeling conveyed in the story is infectious, and the incredibly graphic content is never offensive and is actually charming. In fact, with a good budget and a creative team that actually gave a shit about what they were doing, this would make for one hell of a fun porn flick!

Cynthia poses a legitimate question in the midst of the titular alien sex frenzy.

So scour the back issue bins of your favorite comic shop, or hit eBay and track down this unsung gem of comix erotica. No shit, this treasure deserves a place on your naughty bookshelf, right next to the waaaaaaaay raunchier YOUNG WITCHES Volume 2, a collection that needs a serious lesson in class, which CYNTHIA PETAL is more than capable of giving.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


After nearly bailing on the idea, I went to Greenwich Village to catch the huge annual Halloween parade, thanks to the urging of my old buddies Jared Osborn and Steve Hughes. I hadn't been to the big parade since 1991, and that was an unpleasant experience thanks to me being stupid enough to actually stand on the parade route, and the crushing outdoor claustrophobia that inevitably comes with the literally tens of thousands of spectators and participants. To give you an idea of what I mean, the morning news stated that last night's crowd was somewhere in the two million range.

What sold me on going this time was Jared's brilliant idea of using the parade and the surrounding neighborhoods full of costumed loonies as a photo safari for the purpose of getting away with snapping endless amounts of shots of hot chicks in skimpy outfits. Now I'm the first to admit that I'm a feminist, but I'm also a guy, godammit, and since the Halloween season gives women an excuse to shed their inhibitions (to say nothing of good taste) and dress as scandalously as possible, I happily cast aside propriety and wallow in the shameless utopia of girlwatching. Oh, and the other costumes are fun too!

As I once more donned my garb as Tim the Enchanter and headed out onto the Park Slope streets, I passed the home of a local artist who frequently makes silkscreened signs that tend to piss off the neighbors, and was pleased to see this charming display:

I like to think of it as a harbinger of fun for the evening.

A half hour later I met Jared and Hughes at our chosen rendezvous point, and the expedition got underway.

There were vendors on every block, ready to provide horns for those without costumes as long as they forked over five five bucks, to say nothing of the stores that were open to cater to your last minute disguise needs.

Working our way west, we began to see costumed partiers all over the place, many drunk as hell despite the early hour, but all in good spirits.

True to Jared's prediction, hot women were EVERYWHERE, and I have to agree with Jared that the outrageous level of eye candy was way more extreme than it was when we frequented the parade fifteen or more years ago. Our first hotness of the night: the delectable Devil Nurse!

And how's this for the great dichotomy?

Let's hear it for the Dork!

One of the legion of cute Japanese girls who were on the rampage.

And for the ladies, here's a proud Egyptian brutha.

And for some reason, most likely because of the recent movie, there were Superman outfits in abundance, sported by both men and women, and even dogs.

This guy was my favorite of the Kryptonian impersonators thanks to the camera's red eye effect giving him impromptu heat vision.

But this is Manhattan after all, and no super-hero says New York City like your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Apparently Perrier mineral water was one of the parade's sponsors, and they had holiday-appropriate staffers and logo at the ready.

I really liked the blue hair on this woman, and Japanese Pocahontas wasn't so bad either.

First comics geek outfit of the night: V from V FOR VENDETTA.

And what's not to like about the surreality of this woman hailing a cab?

A perennial classic, the Invisible Man represented with a comely pirate lass on his arm.

This tourist followed me for blocks, all the while scratching my back with his inflato-claw. Was that some kind of mating ritual in his native land?

And what's up with this? Alice and a Yeti? Who knows?

And I hate to break it to this dude, but just because replica lightsabers totally kick ass these days doesn't mean you can get away with just a lightsaber and no fucking costume!

As the crowd began to get thicker near the actual parade route, our safari began to veer further West, missing nothing, yet avoiding the dense throng.

I mean, just look at this shit!

But first, a pit stop at Papaya King for a couple of hot dogs and a papaya juice beverage that I swear tasted like it was made from salt water.

As the migration continued, we ran into the only werewolf that we saw all night.

Finally, we hit Christopher Street, and it was like being at the crossroads of the costumed universe.

Yep, we're on Christopher Street alright...

This sexy version of Little Orphan Annie actually recognized me because she used to waitress at the horrendously overpriced restaurant across the street from my apartment. Yowza!

Two Mexican wrestling heroes, one of whom insisted that he was "legal."

A cliche couples outfit, but at least they were into the parts.

Gotta love the Human Peep Show!

Here's me with a lovely geisha who was actually a Japanese expatriate. Easily the most elegant lady in the area. And, man, was she tiny!

Somebody please tell me exactly what the fuck a "Stachebot" is...

All I have to say about this one is that it looks like Dr. Wertham was right.

They should make a zany sitcom about these two. Just think about it: "The Pimp and the Pirate!" Hell, I'd watch that.

And this was the first time I ever saw the whole Scooby gang as opposed to just Velma, Daphne, or Shaggy. I guess Fred gets no love thanks to that douchey ascot...And for the record, I like the zaftig Velma from the barbecue joint on Friday night a whole lot more than this one.

The Incredibles, apparently trapped by some dastardly villain's rectal superglue.

We soon left Christopher Street and headed south, running into more seasonal revelers.

First, we ran into these two friendly Viking chicks.

Then the King showed up and "thanked me very much" for taking his picture.

Another variation on the good/evil thing. Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be a sorcerer, but she asked to pose with "Mister Devil," so what the hey?

This drunken reveler got in the way of a photo I was taking, but pirate cleavage is always welcome.

My vote for best truly ridiculous outfit goes to this guy.

He's El Chapulin Colorado ("the Red Grasshopper"), a mainstay on Mexican television, and the inspiration for "Bumblebee Man" on THE SIMPSONS. (see below)

Another timeless classic, namely an old school STAR TREK outfit worn by a chick.

The inevitable Dorothy, flanked by the Scarecrow and two random hotties.

Here's my attempt at a sneaky cleavage shot, taken under the pretense of wanting a shot of Toto, and it turns out that that's exactly what I got.

There's always a mad butcher at shindigs like this.

The other costume that was as common as Superman was the Ghostbusters. No bullshit, they were all over the place, presumably thanks to the proton pack equipment being easily available in inflatable versions. Anyway, here's two GB's with the Joker, decked out in his standard issue Arkham inmate togs.

Another inevitable Halloween sight, Pebbles Flintstone.

Check out Mister Zoot Suit! Classiest guy in the neighborhood.

Another treat for comics geeks, the Mighty Thor!

And what are the odds against running into Doctor Doom two seconds later? The guy in this costume was elated that I actually knew who he was supposed to be, especially since he had the mask off so he could eat a hot dog. Sorry, pal, but I'm a world-class geek, and the tunic with those big-assed fasteners was a dead giveaway.


As previously stated, the Ghostbusters were out in full force today, but there was only one group that actually went the distance and built their own proton packs and guns from scratch. A 10 out of 10 for putting in the work!

I mean, talk about dedication!

Then we ran into the Satanic Pope, and he wanted to know if we could point him to some hard liquor.

As Jared and Hughes prepared to head off and meet up with some of Hughes' buddies, I hit the road back to Brooklyn and ran into the Devil himself on the way.

While transferring at Times Square, I ran into this pimpin' pumpkinhead dude.

All in all, a great Halloween! But as I waited for the train, some Church of Scientology assmunch took one look at my horned, "Satanic" outfit and handed me this:

Thanks a lot...DOUCHEBAG!!!

See ya again next year for more Halloween silliness!