Thursday, March 27, 2014

What I'm Currently Reading: Stations Of The Lost & Found by Smith & Lady

I have about six months' worth of reading piled up, so I've finally gotten to Cleveland, Ohio USA poet Smith's memoir (Lady's listed as a co-writer, but I haven't gotten to her part yet), which I bought back in October.  So far, it's the 1960s, and Smith has left the Naval Academy to take massive amounts of drugs.  It's an interesting read, definitely for fans of Henry Miller and the Beats.  Right now, Smith's just gotten married, and I'm guessing that things don't work out well since she's referred to as his "future ex-wife".  I picked this up at Guide to Kulchur, which is not just a bookstore, but also a zine library--a very fun place!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Emus In The News 2014

Pretty much anytime I see emus in the news, I read about them.  Hey, it's more interesting than reading about war and politicians arguing about taxes.  During the last month or so, I was saddened by reading about Mary the emu's murder, I enjoyed reading about a family who enjoys having an emu for a backyard pet much to their neighbors' annoyance, I worried after reading about a heat wave in Australia that is killing emus, and I chuckled after reading yet another emu escapes news story (that happens so often it's the type of story that News Of The Weird would label "no longer weird"--my version of that label is not giving a link).  In any case, when you're out and about, watch out for large flightless birds from down under running around.  Personally, I've never just randomly run into one, but they seem to pop up in the news a lot anyway!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Shoveling Alone?

A decade or so ago, sociologist Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, in which he basically argued that one could view the decline in bowling leagues as a sign that the commitment of Americans to one another and democracy was declining.  In short, we are starting to care only about ourselves and not others, a danger for any civil society.

I was thinking about Putnam's argument the other day when I was shoveling snow.  In addition to getting a workout shoveling the driveway, I usually shovel the sidewalk in front of my house.  However, I am a rarity on my block, as almost no one else does this, and I was wondering why I bothered to do it myself.

But I find it just common courtesy for pedestrians.  Apparently, my commitment to shoveling the snow from the sidewalk is not shared by most of my neighbors.

I wonder what Putnam would make of that.  I suspect he'd see it as yet another sign that as a society we're in trouble since it seems to suggest that the people who don't shovel the walks don't care about anyone else in their community who might be walking by, who are often the most vulnerable in the community such as kids or people who can't afford a car.

The other day, I even saw someone in a wheelchair choosing to risk being hit by traffic by wheeling down a snowy street rather than risk getting stuck in an unshoveled sidewalk.

Now, my city does have one of those sidewalk plows that buzzes around the city and plows sidewalks (though this is mainly an annoyance for me since it pushes the unshoveled snow of my neighbors' sidewalks onto my shoveled driveway, so I get to shovel twice), so maybe some of my neighbors think that their tax dollars are taking care of the sidewalks, but it seems to take a week for the sidewalk plow to work its way around town, so it isn't exactly a perfect substitute for people shoveling the walk.  And I know some elderly people can't shovel (though my dad's nearly eighty and still shovels the driveway), but they can pay a kid a few bucks to do it.  I wouldn't want to get all feisty and demand the city fine people for not shoveling (some people might be out of town when a snowstorm hits), but, good grief, it would be nice if more people shoveled the sidewalk, and the unshoveled walk was a rarity instead of the norm.

As it currently stands, pedestrians usually just take to the street (many of them like to dress in black and walk around at night--not the greatest combination for safety), while my poor postal carrier has just given up and trudges through knee-high snow in the yards.

As for me, I keep shoveling my bit of the city sidewalk and consider buying a pair of snowshoes for my next walk around the block.    

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monster Of Party Beach

My pal Mark Justice has been making a movie over the last year or so and drafted me to "act" in it.  I play the police chief of a small town plagued by a monster who eats teens at the beach.  It's a comedy and called Monster Of Party Beach.  You can check out the trailer above.  I don't know when the entire movie will be released, but I'm looking forward to seeing it myself. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Return Of She-Hulk!

She-Hulk fans can rejoice!  The She-Hulk is getting another solo title.  Charles Soule is the writer.  He's also a lawyer, so that should be a good fit for Shulkie.  Javier Pulido is the artist, and, judging from the preview I saw, he should be another good fit.  It would be nice sometime to see some female creators get a run on She-Hulk, but the current team seem like good choices.  I will be checking out the first issue anyway (scheduled for release in February)!  In fact, I had a subscription (for the first time since I was about thirteen years old) to FF, the Fantastic Four spinoff where She-Hulk had been appearing, and enjoyed that series quite a bit, so my grief over its demise (the last issue comes out this month) will be tempered with my joy over the new solo title.  It'll join Satellite Sam and The Superior Foes of Spider-Man (special thanks to the creators of that title for actually putting on average more than four panels on a page, unlike seemingly every other comic these days) on my monthly pile, and The Sandman Overture whenever it comes out (no, I normally don't restrict my comics reading to titles that being with "S"; that's just a coincidence).  I've also been reading Superior Spider-Man at the local library (yes, my local library is cool enough to stock comic books).  It seems to be a good time for comics.  I'm excited to check out the new titles for the Silver Surfer, the New Invaders (James Robinson on Golden Age characters!), and Dead Boy Detectives (see, I told you that I didn't just read titles that began with "S") titles as well.  With The Flash being one of my favorite characters, I'm excited that a new creative team will be on that title (I found the current team almost unreadable, which is how I feel about most of the New 52 DC--I used to really like DC, but now it's hard to find a title that I'm interested in).  Though it seems from this list that I'm a super hero nut, I used to read more alternative and independent comics, but most of those seem to just be online or in graphic novel format anymore (I read those as well, but let's talk comic books in this post).  However, I was happy to see that Strangehaven is finally returning (hmm . . . maybe I do really like to read titles that begin with "S"). I also did buy issue #21 of Palookaville (which isn't really a comic book anymore unless one really stretches the traditional definition).  I haven't read it yet (hey, if Seth can take forever to release it, then I can take forever to read it--it makes the wait for the next one that much less), but it looks as if the Clyde Fans story still has not ended.  If so, then I hope Seth finishes it before either he or I die.  In the meantime, I'm glad to see that comic books are still around; they can still be quite a bit of fun.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hooray For Webster's!

Several years ago, I went on a book tour with Crazy Carl Robinson, and we stopped off in State College, Pennsylvania USA to visit a pal. The pal offered to stock a cool local bookstore with copies of our books on consignment. The bookstore was Webster's, and, indeed, it was and is still cool.  I'd like to thank Webster's and my contact there, Molly, for carrying The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus all these years!  In fact, Webster's was the last store to carry the novel on consignment (a few years back, I started collecting the remaining books left on consignment after I lost a few copies when bookstores closed suddenly during the Great Recession).  Now, I suspect that I am the only one selling new copies of this now old novel (if you've been waiting for Amazon to restock, that's likely not going to happen since the publisher has sold out and the rights reverted to me a few years ago).  The good news is that I still offer the books at 2006 prices, so, with inflation on your side, that probably makes the cost cheaper than when the book was first released.  I only have a few copies left though (28, that's a few, right?).  Once they go, I'll probably put out an ebook edition.  For now though, the Emus remain in print.       

Monday, January 6, 2014

Yip!*: The Return Of Big Dipper!

I was browsing in one of the few remaining record stores recently and was delighted and also totally surprised to find a new record from Big Dipper.  Big Dipper was a band from the Boston area in the 1980s who played a weird style of power pop.  I really liked the band's music.  The last Big Dipper album came out in 1990, so I was quite flabbergasted to find a new record from them 23 years later.  And, literally, it was a record, and not a cd, which made the experience even more surreal (of course, the store I found the record in sells new 8-tracks--yes, new 8-tracks, as in someone released an album in 2013 on 8-track as a format--so perhaps I shouldn't have been that confused by new vinyl from Big Dipper).  At first, I thought the record might have been a past album which I had missed.  When I was in Boston in 2000, I kept finding odd Big Dipper records that I never knew existed, but ever since Merge put out an anthology in 2008, I was pretty sure I had all the released Dipper.  Plus, the record looked too new; however, it was in the used section.  In any case, I scratched my head and bought it.  When I got home, I played the record, loved it, and looked up some information on it.  Apparently, the band had reunited and started recording new material.  They're even on Twitter now.  The new album, Crashes On The Platinum Planet, is really good and basically picks up where they left off many years ago.  You can hear a bit of it on the video above for "Robert Pollard", who apparently also is a fan of the band.  The only bummer is that the cd/mp3 version has a different track listing, so I had to download a couple tracks to complete the new Big Dipper experience (vinyl completists can find those same two songs on a 7"); I don't quite understand why record labels do dumb stuff like that as I'm pretty sure all twelve songs could have fit on the vinyl album (presumably, the fetishizing of rare vinyl by collectors and the subsequent inflated prices for vinyl these days explains it). However, the joy of getting even more new Big Dipper music soon soothed any irritation. On a final note, Big Dipper is also the band that the Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus are supposed to sound like (at least according to The So), but don't look for a reunion from them.  Still, if Big Dipper can pop back up, then perhaps even less likely things can happen!

*Yips are good things.