Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chapter 2

The alarm blared loudly and she struggled to find it though sleepy eyes. It didn't matter when she went to bed, because it was always too early when it was time to get up. The sun wasn't even out and it was time for her day to begin. Another day, the same as all the rest of them. What the hell had happened to her life?

She had her degree, even if it took almost five years to get it. She had worked hard and paid her dues. But the dream of finding what she wanted after college was just that - a dream. All she had found was disappointment and dead-ends and a job at a coffee shop to make ends meet. She had promised herself it was just "temporary," but two years later, she was still there.

But even that seemed destined to fall apart sooner or later. She was stuck opening every morning and it was wearing her down. Early to bed, early to rise, and no life at all in-between. Just a few hours playing video games alone in an apartment that she was struggling to afford on her salary. Something had to change soon, or she was going to be out on her ass.

Of course, things had been a little different when she had a boyfriend who at least helped her cover the rent. They had been together since her sophomore year in college, and she had really trusted and loved him. And hey, the sex wasn't too bad either. But apparently, none of that had been good enough for him. She had returned home from an extra long shift to discover that he had moved out without even a goodbye note. She still had no idea where he was. At least he hadn't stolen any of her stuff when he'd left.

She had survived that heartbreak. Heck, she wasn't even sure she still missed him. But she couldn't deny that money was tight, and she had so fallen out of touch socially that she didn't even know anyone looking for a roommate. She was drifting along, existing but not really living.

She laid in the bed and stared up at nothing in particular. Above her, a fan slowly rotated, and she found herself simply...watching. As she did, it felt as if her entire life up to that point was dancing in front of her. Every decision, good and bad, since she had left home was replayed over and over and over on the dark canvas of her ceiling. As it was, all she could think was...Is this all there is?

What was she going to do?


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chapter 1

It was the last time they would ever see each other. Oh, they had made allowances that maybe at some point, when there was distance and the hurt had subsided, one of them would pay a visit to the other. Old friends, right? But they both knew this was a gentle lie to get through the night. After this morning, they would truly be the strangers their feelings had made them.

He gripped the steering wheel almost lackadaisically as he navigated the relatively deserted early, early morning freeway. No traffic on the road meant more time to concentrate on the uncomfortable silence that filled the car. Next to him, she shifted in her seat and tried to think of something - anything - that might break the ice. But all her ideas sounded like bad ones to her, and she turned her gaze out the window to the array of lights that dotted the still-darkened city.

She had a flight for 6 AM. Going back home, back east. She was moving in with her parents, temporarily, until she could get herself back on her feet. Most of her stuff, such as it was, was already there. The only thing left to ship out was herself. She had already sold her car and was thinking of just hiring a taxi to get to the airport. He wouldn't hear of it. He insisted on driving her there.

Why? Was it a last, parting gesture of the relationship they had shared for over five years? Was it a selfless act of kindness for the friend he had known since 7th grade? Was it slow torture to punish himself over the fact that they had lost each other? Was it the hope that this act would give them closure once and for all? Or maybe it was a desperate, clinging hope that she would change her mind?

It was at once all and none of those things. Even he didn't know. He just wanted to make sure she had a ride.

The airport loomed, and it was a mixture of relief and regret that filled the two of them. He helped her unload her luggage from the car, and they double-checked to make sure she had everything. They exchanged awkward small talk like they were old buddies rather than lovers who had drifted apart. Promises were made that would never be kept, though intentions were good on both sides. And finally, they embraced and kissed. Only, this was not a kiss of passion, but one of dreams that had fallen by the wayside. Pecks on the cheek and the feel of each other's arms one last time.

She made her way into the terminal and he watched her until she was out of sight amid the crush of people. He couldn't even sigh as he stood there for a moment. He couldn't feel anything. He got into the car and drove away, leaving behind the woman he had once been convinced was going to be his wife.

What was he going to do?


Monday, April 28, 2014

Looney Tunes

No, not those, though as you can see, you're meant to think of them. I am almost positive the name was what led me to ask for this album on 8-track tape at a Stuckey's during a family road trip many years ago. I didn't really get what I was expecting if that's the case.

What I did get was a crash course in the concept of novelty songs. I mean, just take a look at that track list. Some pretty big records on there, and I likely experienced all of them at the same time. All this through the magic of 8-track! I suspect this led to my long-term fascination with both oddball music and K-tel.

Have a commercial!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Red Taiyo, Chibi Style

This, ladies and gents, is a chibi style commission of my Japanese superhero Red Taiyo, as rendered by the ever-fabulous Kayleigh Lebak as part of an ongoing commission special! Isn't he fantastic in his wee! awesomeness? You can peep out more commentary at the lady's dA page for it. Maybe even get a chibi for yourself?

Speaking of that - you may have noticed I referred to her by her given name this time. Did you check the URL? Kayleigh is in the process of re-branding her online adventures from "Kabuki Katze" to "Wandering Kotka!" The old name is still in effect in a few places, but gradually, what had been the name of her travel blog will come THE brand. Eventually, I'll replace the tag here, too. Eventually.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Appeal to Latricia Mayhew

I have been putting off writing this entry for several days, hoping it might prove to be unnecessary. It appears now I need to have it out there. It's mostly being written because I want it to show up in search engines in the hopes that it will make a difference. This is a long shot at best. I just don't have any other ideas at the moment.

This message is for Latricia Mayhew, last known by me to be living in Seattle, Washington. Hi, this is Chris. We worked together at a restaurant in Louisiana circa 2002-2003. Remember how you hated dealing with the restrooms? Remember the fat tip I left you one afternoon when you waited on me? Remember the time I tried to remove the viruses from your computer and you explained the Ladder Theory to me? Do you?

I miss you. Eric misses you. Holly misses you. I'm sure there are a lot of people who miss you. We don't want anything from you. We just miss you and would love to get back in touch with you. It's been a long time - since 2007 for me. That was when we last spoke on Myspace and I told you about the vacation I was taking.

Latricia, no matter what has happened, please know that you are loved and cherished and respected. Please get in touch with me and at least let us know how you are. We care about you. Let us show it. I want to reconnect somehow, whether it be via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, whatever. There are social media links in the sidebar of my blog. You are welcome to use them.

I have been trying to find a way to get in touch with you for at least five years. I don't expect this attempt to be any more successful than previous ones. I just want you to know - you don't have to be afraid to contact us. You are our friend and we care about you.

If you know Latricia, please point her in the direction of this blog entry ASAP. If you ARE Latricia, please...just let us know how you are doing. We miss you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

William Shatner Album Cover Art

If you remember this, you will be delighted to know I am featuring a nice, large copy of the album jacket to send you into the weekend. You're welcome!

...You did want it, right?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"You Can Scar Me, But You Can't Stop Me"

(photo by Dear World)

One year ago today, something horrible happened in Boston.

I "found" Sydney Corcoran a couple of days later, and as she lay in a hospital bed, we began a communication that evolved into a friendship. She has fought through a lot of physical and emotional pain these last 12 months, and if it seems easy from the outside,'s not.

Sydney's fight is far from finished on this one year anniversary. But her message to you is the one scrawled on her body: "You can scar me, but you can't stop me." She is a survivor in every meaningful sense, and a beautiful woman inside and out. She has embraced the scars that mark her just like the tattoo she was finally able to get in December. And in truth, they have a sublime beauty all their own - especially when you recognize that she earned them by living.

Sydney, you have come so far, and I want everyone to know how fuckin' proud I am of you. You are a gorgeous woman and a gorgeous soul, and if anyone says differently, they're wrong. That includes you when those moments of self-doubt haunt you.

I love you like you were my own sister.

Sydney's picture is part of a larger series called DEAR WORLD: Boston Marathon. It's one of many projects created by Dear World, an effort that is eminently worthwhile. The Boston Marathon project is incredibly moving and brought me to tears. It includes not only Sydney, but also her mother Celeste and her brother Tyler.

My words are failing me as it comes time to finish this entry. In the end, I guess Sydney has finally left me speechless. Maybe that's the best last word of all.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Legends of Mid-South Wrestling

I grew up watching Mid-South Wrestling. I don't remember when that started - I want to say I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. All I know is what is now widely-regarded as one of the best regional wrestling territories captured my imagination as a child.

I guess you could say that's not surprising. As deeply in love with comic books and superheroes as I was, Mid-South Wrestling offered the same sort of colorful characters and compelling action in a "real" setting. I'm not sure when I decided/figured out the action was staged (not fake), but it didn't really affect my enjoyment.

If anyone asks, I will freely admit that the Junkyard Dog was my boyhood hero. That might be hard to grasp for people who didn't see him in Mid-South, but trust me, that guy was electric when he was right. JYD isn't the only one who made fond memories back in those days - my mind's eye can still conjure up visions of Mr. Olympia, Butch Reed, Ted DiBiase, Hacksaw Duggan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and a cavalcade of others.

WWE recently acquired the Mid-South Wrestling/UWF tape library, and issued LEGENDS OF MID-SOUTH WRESTLING on DVD and Blu-Ray. I happily purchased it, even though my interest in grappling has waned over the years. As I sat and watched it, and re-experienced the old days, I could remember what it was like to be a kid in the early 1980s when all of this was very important to me.

Below is a trailer for this release on the WWE's UK division Youtube channel.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Rialto Report: A Recommendation

I wrote about The Rialto Report back in October, but having followed the site since that time, I wanted to pen a more general recommendation. Why? Because it's an outstanding piece of film history in the making.

The Rialto Report chronicles stories that probably would not otherwise be told. Generally, film scholarship focuses on the most popular or the most artistic. The Rialto Report goes against that grain by focusing on adult films and their corresponding subculture. However, it's all done with a seriousness and scholarship that puts to shame lesser sites that focus on "real" movies.

I have often told this story, but I am more interested in the people who work in adult films than the actual films. I'm fascinated by that sort of life, which from the outside seems impossibly glamorous and hedonistic. In some respects, it can be, but the reality is that so-called "porn stars" are a lot closer to just regular folks doing a job than famous superstars. That doesn't mean they can't be glamorous people or serious actors (I know, this might surprise you, but it's actually true); it's simply that they are not rich and famous in the way we'd imagine.

The Rialto Report shines in telling their stories, the men and women both in front of and behind the cameras. Some are sad tales indeed, and there are those who have chosen to focus entirely on this and paint a dire and grim picture. Yet there are also plenty of stories on the Rialto Report filled with hope and optimism and love. I'm not sure how anyone could listen to the interview with Richard Pacheco/Howie Gordon and not come away absolutely enthralled.

It's life. There's happiness and sadness, triumph and tragedy. It's the human experience, not exclusive to pornography.

The Rialto Report takes its subjects seriously, but also is a lot of fun. In dragging explicit movies from "The Golden Age of Porn" out of the ghetto and into the limelight, Ashley West, April Hall and company are enriching all of us. Take some time, give them a listen, and explore the site. Don't be surprised if you find yourself hooked.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Art of Ramona Fradon: A Review

Since I wrote about this book (and that entry gets a lot more hits than I would have expected), I suppose it's only fair that I talk a bit about it now that it's out.

THE ART OF RAMONA FRADON finally came out in February 2014. No one seems to have an explanation as to why, though I have a guess (see below). Meantime, Dynamite continues to not engender confidence via the omission of Bob Greenberger (the man responsible for assembling this book) from the Amazon listing. Considering my opinion of the book itself, I wish I could be more positive about the publisher.

Quite simply, I love this book. It is a wonderful showcase for Fradon's distinctive artwork, from Aquaman to Metamorpho to Super Friends to Brenda Starr, and all points in-between and beyond. The interview with Ramona by Howard Chaykin sheds considerable light on her as an artist and a person. It's not necessarily what fans might want, but truth can be hard to swallow at times from someone who crafted your childhood.

The packaging is gorgeous, with plenty of samples of artwork both vintage and new. The checklist is helpful if you want to track her career and note that it's not as extensive as you would imagine. You could probably assemble a good chunk of her published works with less effort than you'd think.

As a fan of Fradon's art from my 1970s exposure to Super Friends and Plastic Man and her amazing run with Bob Haney on Metamorpho, I cherish the opportunity this book provides to study that art and learn more about the artist. It's a shame that any momentum the project had was derailed by an almost two year delay in publication.

Why is that, anyway? Just a guess, but I'm suspecting it had to do with Dynamite getting approvals from the publishers whose properties are included herein. Whether the fault lies with Dynamite or those other publishers, I have no idea. It just reflects pretty badly on Dynamite that a book like this disappeared for so long.

Also, something I noticed in prepping this entry - the cover changed from the originally solicited version.

Actual published cover

Original solicited cover

There are several differences; some are obvious and some not. One of the more striking aspects is that a certain bashful blue-eyed nephew of Aunt Petunia has gone AWOL from the proceedings. And indeed, no one from his parent company is present on the final cover. Just an observation.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Your New Favorite Sports Mascot

This is an old logo for the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, the forerunner of the Detroit Pistons. Who was the mad genius responsible for this character?