Monday, May 25, 2020

Governors' Names On Highway Signs Update

Over the past decade, I've commented several times on a pet peeve of mine, which is politicians sticking their names on highway and other road signs paid by taxpayers (see the following posts:  2014A, 2014B, 2014C, 2014D, 2014E, 2018A, 2018B, and 2018C).  Basically, the politicians are trying to get free political advertising at taxpayer expense.  I suspect no motorist really cares whom the mayor of a city is or the governor of a state is, and if any of them do care, it certainly isn't worth the expense of the sign (for states, sticking a governor's name on a sign can run to thousands of dollars).  This should be an easy fix, right?

Nope.  Politicians keep doing this.  And if they don't, some gal or guy in the highway department or whatnot who wishes to suck up to her or his new boss does.  I had a small hope that Ohio USA would take the opportunity to not to do so when a new governor took office in 2019, but, nope, they did it again.  This time, they just made new highway signs overall at greater expense (possibly to camouflage the costs of putting on the new governor's and lieutenant governor's names since they didn't make new overlay signs just for that).  Unfortunately, at some point, someone will have to paint over those names when the officeholders change or they'll be back to the overlay signs, so nothing really changed.  Also, unfortunately, though Pennsylvania still has a good I-80 sign at the spot I typically pass, I did spot a turnpike sign with the governor's name on it last year.

All these politicians obsessed with quarantines ought to quarantine these type of highway signs.  A plain welcome to wherever sign will suffice.  We don't need to know whom the governor is.  Of course, given the disastrous decisions many of these governors have made overreacting to COVID-19, they may regret having their names up on these signs.

After all, some irate folks who have had their lives destroyed by the lockdowns may follow Elon Musk's advice about tarring and feathering the politicians who panicked about the virus and use the signs as a reminder of whom exactly to boil the oil for.

If the continued existence of these highway signs depress you as well, cheer up with my latest novel!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

drinkdrankdrunk: "The Secret Of Great Art" by Victor Schwartzman

Melvin loved re-watching movies, rereading books, looking again at paintings.  Every time he revisited certain works he found something new.  It was not the pleasure of experiencing favorites again, but there was, in a select few artworks, something always new.   

How could he always see something new?  Was he stupid?  This did not happen elsewhere.  He thought of his colleagues, family and friends:  although there were surprises; it was nothing new.

Art was complex, full of details and rhythms and inner meanings even the artist did not always understand.  That explained why he always saw something new, because it was so complex.

Or did it?

Melvin figured that the artists themselves should be able to say why some of their work always seeing something new.  So he did research, reading about artists throughout the ages.  The standard response was, “I don’t have a clue.”

Some said they wished they knew what they’d pulled off in certain works--so they could do it again.  But for both artist and audience it was a mystery.

Eventually, Melvin concluded that certain unique works were alive.

He saw something new each time because there was something new each time.  The art was alive and, like any living thing, regularly changing.

He approached paintings in museums (he needed originals; copies were useless) and talked to them.  They never responded and the guards would take him away.  It was the same with movies or books.

Melvin could only observe.  Once, Bogart winked at him.

Eventually he was forced to accept that the communication was one way.  A select few pieces of art were alive, perfect examples of their kind, unique, and therefore were constantly changing.

They existed for themselves.

It was then Melvin had a final realization:  for true art, audience was irrelevant.

He wondered in what other ways he was irrelevant.

Turned out, most everything.

Victor Schwartzman is a Canadian writer with whom I used to be in the Underground Literary Alliance.  I am quite happy that he is still writing and willing to share some of his work on drinkdrankdrunk!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Going Weekly Again

It's been fun posting daily for the past few weeks, but my free time is winding up, and I need to use what remains to make hay while the sun shines on the Underground Literary Alliance anthology.  It was fun to relive the days of 2008-2010 when I was serializing Blog Love Omega Glee (most of which I had to delete when the novel was published as a whole because of a short-lived exclusivity agreement with Amazon) and 2012-2013 when I tried post daily for a few months for a lark, but the blog is settling back into its usual more or less weekly rhythm.  I hope the more frequent posts helped amuse you during this strange period when many people were marooned at home.  With luck, things will continue to get better, and we won't be having our tax dollars sent on stupid signs like the one in the picture ever again.  See you in a week or so!

If you need something to read in the meantime, then my latest novel is available here.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Let's Not Use Herbicides In City Parks, Eh?

The other day I was in the city park in Westlake, Ohio USA, and I noticed that the grass was a little too green.  Where were the dandelions?  Then the smell hit.  It was that awful lawn chemicals smell.  I found confirmation a few minutes later when I found one of those signs warning kids and animals to keep off (kids and animals, of course, being very dedicated sign readers).  I really wish cities would stop putting these herbicides on parks.  It's certainly not healthy.  Fortunately, a number of cities have made positive steps and done away with pesticides such as these lawn chemicals.  It makes me appreciate University Heights, Ohio USA, where I used to live, quite a bit because in their parks wildflowers grew, and it was quite pretty.  I also knew it was quite safe for my child to play there since children are especially vulnerable to the hazardous effects of these chemicals.  Obviously, I am going to have to contact the city and hope that I can persuade them that dandelions are preferable to pediatric cancer.

If you need something more cheerful to read than a report on how pesticides harm human health, then please read my latest novel.

Friday, May 8, 2020

What Wred's Reading: Don Quixote

You know a novel is good when it's four centuries old and still makes me laugh out loud.  I've read Don Quixote many times, often because I had to teach it, and it still makes me laugh.  It's baggy, but keep plowing on through and you will soon hit some deadpan or slapstick.  When the characters are vomiting on one another, you know you're reading the classics equivalent of a stupid Hollywood comedy, but it also digs a bit deeper into philosophical issues, which is why it has lasted so long.

This translation is a good one, but I've read a few different ones, and as long as the humor is conveyed I have no deep feelings one way or another about one translation being superior to another.  But this hardcover edition is a nice one.  I bought it at a point when I was trying to get really nice editions of books I liked.  A flooded basement (it's a long story about how the books ended up there) soon cured me of Rare Book Collector Disease, and a few moves since then have caused me to shed most of my belongings because I was tired of lugging so much stuff around (it's a slow process, so I still have many things to shed).  It's an irony that one spends half of one's life acquiring things, and the next half shedding them.  If you're sensible that is, some people hang onto a lifetime's accumulation of stuff, just so their relatives can hurriedly chuck most of it in a dumpster after their death--that's a little too irresponsible for my tastes.  I've had to clean out some dead people's houses; it's a big pain, and work that should be done slowly and joyfully by the owner/collector soon becomes a mindnumbing race to the end by others.  Of course, I've benefited from that as well.  I think I got an awesome reggae cd box set from a dead person's garage sale for $3 (of course, I sent it on its way after I was done enjoying it to another new owner), and I am sure that some dumpster diving treasures came from similar situations.

Anyway, if you think classics are boring, then give DQ a try.  It's a hoot!

If you want to read a newer humorous book, then please read my latest novel!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Heavy Drinking In The DC Graphic Design Department In 1999?

So I've been rereading some old books I own since the public library has been closed for a couple of months now due to the COVID-19 panic (will taxpayers get a refund on their property and other taxes used to pay for services they didn't get during this period?  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  I can hear the idiot politicians who created this mess laughing now).  Anyway, one of these books was a collection of Golden Age Flash comics.

My advice:  Read them one day at a time, and they are charming in their goofy Golden Age comic way.  Don't read them all in a row or the plot holes, stereotypical gangster villains, lack of continuity or even basic storytelling common sense, and ridiculous endings will annoy you.

One odd thing I noticed this time through (which will be the last time through unless I am reading them to a child, at 50, the things one dreamed of reading as a 5-year-old aren't too satisfying, though it was nice to make the inner 5-year-old happy) was that the back cover has a Hawkman cover on it among the four Flash Comics covers (pictured above).


I know Hawkman was in Flash Comics, and he and The Flash generally alternated covers after the first few issues, but the graphic designer couldn't find a 4th Flash cover out of the bunch?  Admittedly, the Hawkman covers (generally by Sheldon Moldoff) are cool, but save them for the Hawkman collection.  There were 4 unused covers with The Flash that could have been used instead.  I don't know if DC fixed this issue on later printings, but they should have.  It looks like they let the book go out of print anyway.  With luck, when they bring it back, the Hawkman cover will be replaced with a Flash one.

Maybe the production department was drinking heavily that day . . .

If you also need something new to read, then please check out my latest novel!  It just came out this year, 80 years after Flash Comics #1!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

drinkdrankdrunk: "The Fan" by Mark Justice

Sweat.  Herod sat on the weary recliner; its coarse texture moist with his sweat. His bare back and arms were glossy with it.  A trickle at Herod’s upper lip, and his tongue lashed out to snatch up the drop.  The room moved as though hellish heat waves passed.

With his back to the room’s open window, Herod watched the still shadows cast by the shutters.  The choked air that limboed through the room was circulated by a fan at Herod’s right, blowing at him, the air like some cadaver.  Herod watched as the sweat from his limp index finger splattered into the blue blades of the spinning fan.

A ringlet of drenched black hair fell into Herod’s eyes, the sweat stinging them. He wiped it away with a moist fist.  The whir of the fan smacked against the stillness of the room, shortening the breath that the room could hold.

Sweat collected and ran in stuttered streams down Herod’s belly; the air spat out of the fan used and useless.  The heat made his thoughts dizzy and sluggish, but he liked to sweat.  It made him feel like he did something.  He did.

He sweat.

In that dizzy hot wash, he sat nude, and while he drifted there, sweating, a wispy, nude woman got on her knees beside him and blew a long soft kiss that was cool against his skin.  She lowered her head to his limp hand, put her cool mouth to his index finger, and began to nibble at it.

Her teeth moved quickly and delicately as she bit.  Aroused, Herod felt the beautiful woman’s bites become rougher.  They were starting to hurt.  A slick, grating sound came with each nibble, louder with each painful bite.

Herod jerked forward from his sleep, from the teeth of the fan blades.  He recoiled his hand, fingertips throbbing shooting stars of pain.  The back of Herod’s neck shivered, and he chilled in the sweltering heat.  It was cooler; the pain was now subsiding, and he thought of his dream, the crawling skin, his goosebumped, cool skin:  from the pain.

His fingertips throbbed like sex, like his hot, lusting dream as he drew his hand nearer to the fan.  He tested the biting air, and his tingling, prickled skin was there in the whirling, blue, dusty metal.

He allowed his middle finger to graze the blades.  The “rat-at” sound reverberated in the room.  Again, he shivered, shuddered.  “Something good,” he thought as he tested the moving blades once more.

The quickly spinning blades caught his fingers and sent his hand flying downward with a chunk of meaty sound, hot and thick with humidity.  Herod shook out his hand, wincing at the pain but writhing at the crawling flesh on his back, the pinpricked chills that made him shudder.

Herod’s breath came quicker now, the room lessened its chokehold on him, and the cadaver air found a life of sorts.  Herod ran his hands down his chest and stomach, watching sweat, and with a flick, wrung it onto the blades, covering him in its salty kiss.

Herod’s hand still throbbed.  The hot pulsations pounded back and forth from his fingers and palm.  Shivers crawled along Herod’s neck that made him cringe and cool.  Herod thought the cool, sensuous delight was like having to suffer with an itch, realizing its tingle, and then that quiet orgasm of scratching, like watching a mosquito deliver its bite, aware of its nuisance yet feeling the barbed prick and watching blood flow into its belly, only to smack it as it attempts to fly away, the red and black stain wet and fresh on the arm, the welt just coming up.

The exchange of pain for pleasure, the sacrifice of self-will for an ecstasy on the fringe of having, is what Herod bartered for … and got.

With a voyeur’s smooth grace, he eased his throbbing hand toward the spinning fan blades, the orange sun reflecting off their metallic sheen.  He heard the “thap-thap-thap” as his fingers rubbed against the whirring steel.  Herod pressed harder, feeling the continual blows against his reddened hand, but he also felt the heat begin to dissipate in the cold shock of shivers’ crawling skin.

Herod had an erection as he held his now bloody stump of a hand into the blades, screaming in his pain/relief exchange.

The blades kept flicking up pieces of Herod’s hand onto the walls and ceiling as his face was reddening from the fan’s spray of his butchered limb’s flowing blood.  Herod writhed in his chair, his limb becoming more and more numb with each convulsive thrust.

Herod fell back into his chair, sopped with his blood and sweat.  He smelled the vibrant tang of blood and the scattered tatters of his pulped right hand.  As the chills subsided, the sweltering heat began to make its approach to his body, forming stinging globs of sweat on his stump.  THAT pain brought no pleasure; THAT pain brought no chills, no relief.  THAT pain was NO GOOD, Herod thought.

Herod thought.  Hard.  He thought what it would be like to plunge his face into the whirring, bloodied blades of the fan.  He thought he would jerk a few times as the blades caught their way into his face and skull, slicing chunk after chunk away.  He thought of what his eye would see as it was caught from its socket and whipped up at the ceiling.  He thought that the last thing it would see was his own back, bright blood covering a thousand chill bumps, freshly popped.

Herod sat in the hot chair, sticky with blood, thinking. His hot thoughts chilled him.

Mark Justice is the author of Gauge Black:  Hell's Revenge.  Check it out for more pulpy goodness!  That one's a Western.  Obviously, this Website does not recommend sticking limbs into fans, but it does recommend reading more Mark Justice.  I am pleased to run on his work on drinkdrankdrunk!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Missing: The Underground Literary Alliance

Years ago, the Underground Literary Alliance (ULA) was supposed to have an anthology out, a best of The Slush Pile zine.  It even had an Amazon page at one point; in fact, it still does, though I have no idea where that cover came from as it has nothing to do with the book, and I doubt it will still have that title.  The editor, Steve Kostecke, worked on the book for years, but unfortunately it never came out and the group broke up and Steve died.  I always wanted to read the book and Steve worked so hard on it that it was very disappointing that it never got published.

Well, cut to me getting rid of some stuff, including some old ULA zines.  Since many of these zines were rare, it seemed a shame not to do something with them.  That combined with some free time due to the COVID-19 panic has led me to attempt to finish the anthology as a free pdf/epub ebook and as a tribute to Steve.  So far, work is going well, but there are some ULAers I have not been able to reach yet.  If you are or are in contact with any of the following, please email or tell them to email me at wredfright WHEREIT'SAT YAHOO DOT COMM, as I would like to include you/them in the anthology:  Doug Bassett, The Urban Hermitt, J. D. Finch, Susan America, Tim Hall, Jessica Disobedience, Yul Tolbert, Marissa Ranello, James Nowlan, and Pat Simonelli.

Some of them I have reached out to, but maybe they're slow on email.  Nearly everyone else I've reached, though some still need to approve their proofs and whatnot.  A few others I have not gotten to yet, but I am working on it.  Those are Christopher Robin, Adam Hardin, Victor Schwartzman, Eric "Jelly Boy the Clown" Broomfield, Matthew Broomfield, Cynthia Ruth-Lewis, Mark Brunetti, Rita Webb, and Phillip Routh.  They are welcome to get in touch in the meantime, as that would save me hunting down contact information for them.

Everyone else should check their email, mailbox, or voicemail and get back to me.  If you declined to be included and you change your mind, then please don't be shy about getting back in touch.  And if you were in the ULA, and you haven't been reached yet already, then my apologies and please get in touch.

Steve also wanted to include two non-ULAers in the anthology, but writers who did contribute to ULA publications:  Cullen Carter and Cry Bloxsome.  I am not superhot on this idea (no offense to the writers, who are quite good, but I have enough trouble wrangling the official ULAers as is without any extras in the mix), but I am quite willing to abide by Steve's wishes.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to reach either of them either despite multiple attempts.  So Cullen and Cry, if you want to be involved, get in touch by the deadline, which is a.s.a.p.

On a sadder note, some ULAers have died in the intervening time.  Some such as Jack Saunders and Lisa Falour agreed to be in the anthology back when Steve was editing it, so they will be included.  The other deceased--George Balgobin, Joe Pachinko, and Joseph Verrilli--I don't have permission to use their work unfortunately.  I would very much like to, but tracking down the living ULAers is enough of a pain.  Nevertheless, if any next of kin or estate executors want to get in touch and give such permission in writing, then I will be happy to include the deceased writers in the anthology.

I hope to have the project done as soon as possible, but certainly by October in time for the ULA's 20th anniversary.  I will, of course, announce on the blog when it's out.

If you can't wait and need something to read now, then my latest novel is available here.

Monday, May 4, 2020

drinkdrankdrunk: "OHIO PIG REPORT" by The Midnight Rider

The scariest/most remarkable thing that occurred during my trip to parkersburg was what happened on the way back……I’m sure you realize by now that 99.9% of the coffees that I’ve drank over the last 25 years has been spiked with irish cream, yeah?.....well, I had 3 xl large spiked dunkin donuts coffees in the hotel before I left along with whatever mushroom stems were left over from the night before (not enough for me to see demons, but enough for a minor body buzz for the 9.5 hour drive back to iowa)……i was driving a tiny rental car (either because I’m growing more conservative in my old age or because I didn’t want to listen to my mom scream about “wear n’ tear” on my pathfinder) and had heard horror stories about the police in southern ohio (a crossroads of drug activity for the northeast)……it was a random tuesday morning, but I passed roughly 30 cops checking for “speeders” as I drove on interstate 70 from columbus to dayton…..i was going 68 mph in a 65 mph zone when a cop whipped out from the median and hit his lights…..i knew I hadn’t been speeding, but there are dozens of cryptic stickers on my car and I assumed the pigs were targeting rental cars…..officer ward (roughly 28-years-old with a crew cut) came over to the passenger side and asked for my license and registration……then he started asking me a series of questions like “where are you headed?” and “why didn’t you fly?”…..i was fairly nervous (because the fucker has a gun and a license-to-kill), but I also knew my car was completely clean----I never carry a bowl in 2017 and if I had had anything else, it would have been in my shirt pocket and ready-to-be-eaten like in a cheech n’ chong movie……officer ward said the reason that he pulled me over was that I had made an “improper pass”---I know what that means on a country road with a solid line, but I have no idea what the fuck that means on an interstate…..i spent an hour looking the statute up when I got home and I still don’t know what the fuck I did-----I wasn’t driving erratically and I wasn’t speeding, in fact, I was being super-careful because I was driving a strange rental car…..ultimately, I knew it was a BULLSHIT CHARGE, but again, he had a gun and I knew that I was completely innocent (except, of course, for the mushrooms already at work in my brain)…..after about 3 minutes of loaded questions (ie “I don’t know if you smoke marijuana or not?”), the pig asked me to get out of the car and frisked me because he claimed that I was “acting nervous”…..and less than 2 minutes later, another pig pulled up with a drug dog….the fucker walked the dog around my rental car and my main reaction to what the dog did was that he appeared happy to be outside----the dog didn’t bark, scratch, jump up or do anything out of the ordinary for-a-dog who had just been let outside…..i wanted to google “what a drug dog does when he smells drugs” when I got home, but I didn’t necessarily want that search to be on my home computer….anyway, THE PIG STARTS READING ME MY RIGHTS AND PLACES ME IN THE BACKSEAT OF HIS SQUAD CAR (and believe it or not, that was the first time in my life that I had ever been put in the back of a police car----the other times I walked into the police station on my own power)….the prick then asked for permission to search my car and since I knew that I was completely clean, I told him to go ahead (although at this rate, I HALF-EXPECTED THE FUCKERS TO PULL A BRICK OF HEROIN OUT OF THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT)……closer-to-the-truth, I knew that I had taken mushrooms that morning (along with the 3 spiked coffees) and I didn’t necessarily want to take a blood test (nor was I familiar with the rules for refusing a blood test)…..the cop seemed to think that I was a space cadet and in real time, I thought letting him think that might be the best scenario for getting out of it…..again, I knew that I was (fairly) innocent, but if I’m telling the truth: my legs were shaking and I was sweating-like-a-legitimate-pig… one point, one of the officers put the drug dog in the police car with me and the dog started whining----I considered that anything I said out loud in the police car was being recorded, but I dropped my one-and-only zinger of the day when I told that bitch: THERE AINT NO POLICE CATS……after about 10 minutes, officer ward came over with the water bottle full of almond milk that had been in my cooler and asked what it was----I said “almond milk” and he wanted to know why I put it in a water bottle….i explained that I had had a half gallon of almond the night before and that was all that was left…..i didn’t explain that 24 hours earlier the bottle had been full of irish crème that I had used to spike my morning coffees 2 hours earlier…..after another 5 minutes or so, officer ward sat down in the front seat of his cruiser and informed me that I was free-to-go…..the best he could do by-way-of-an-apology was to say: “I see that you’re a professor and you’re so smart that you started imagining a bunch of different scenarios and that’s why you appeared nervous to me”----in other words, his rationale was that: “PROFESSORS ARE SO SMART THAT THEY’RE STUPID” and that was it for his apology…..i shook his hand and he said something along the lines of: “I hope you don’t think less of police officers because of what just happened”----I said that I wouldn’t and that I prolly “wouldn’t tell my police officer/friends at the gym what happened”….the thing is, I can’t really think less of police officers than I already do… retrospect, THE ENTIRE EXPERIENCE HAD BEEN A SCAM: 1) I DIDN’T MAKE AN “ILLEGAL PASS,” 2) “BEING NERVOUS” IN FRONT OF A PIG-WITH-A-GUN IN RELATIVE AND 3) THE FUCKING DRUG DOG WAS JUST HAPPY TO BE OUTSIDE----HE DIDN’T HIT ON ANYTHING AND IT WAS JUST A TRICK TO SEE HOW I WOULD REACT… made me think that cops do this kind of sting all the time and it just happened to be my day to get pulled over (either that or southern ohio is such a shithole that they assume 6-out-of-10 rental cars are loaded with heroin)----the cop was completely confident that I was a criminal right up until the moment that he let me go----the fucker never broke character and he was the babyface to my heel…..i do kinda wonder if the drug dog got a whiff of my 1995 backpack though---again, I was completely clean on that particular day, but zeus only knows how many severed heads have been in that backpack over the last 25 years…..brer backpack could tell some stories, but something tells me that he won’t be making the trip when I finally make my escape from cashpoint….i won’t simply throw him in the garbage though---I promise…..old “stoners” need to be filled to the zipper with broken beer bottles and then dropped on the spot where pigs wait to feast on passing meat

The Midnight Rider prefers to remain mysterious.  You could visit his website, but he won't say where it is.  You could read his books, but he won't say what they are.  You could email him, but I'm pretty sure is not a real email address.  In a world where everyone is repping their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, sex tapes, line of clothing, new microbrew, and overall brand, I find that refreshing.  I am happy to have the Rider ride on drinkdrankdrunk.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Extreme Zeen!

New Pop Lit put out a print zine called Extreme Zeen.  It's pretty awesome looking.  It's like an art zine with a glossy cover, different colored paper, bright colors, innovative design for the text, and more.  It's very striking!  Karl Wenclas, the editor, told me he was working on a new zine and wanted to use a couple excerpts from Edna's Employment Agency.  I was more than happy to agree, but I would have been happy to just be in some quick and dirty photocopied zine.  I didn't expect a beautiful publication.  Yowza!  I am impressed!  I am also happy to note it has work from my old ULA buddy Frank Walsh in it as well, so that makes it even cooler!  I am looking forward to reading it.

Right now, I am just enjoying the publication as art object!

If you like the excerpts in Extreme Zeen, the rest of Edna's Employment Agency is available here.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Dave Sim Saves Free Comic Book Day 2020!

It was supposed to be Free Comic Book Day today, but the event, like nearly everything else recently, was canceled.  That was a bit of a bummer as it's a fun day.  Though the free comics are usually never that great (hey, they're free, so you get what you pay for), it's still a fun day to celebrate the comics medium.  Some comic shops really get into it and basically throw a party while for others the day is more low-key.  It's all designed though to share the love of comics with those who might never otherwise read a comic (though people who already love comics join in to celebrate that love and get some free comics of their own).  At some point, comics retailers realized that a large percentage of the population would never buy or read comics because they never caught the habit, so the industry works up some special free comics to give away each year in hopes of getting new readers hooked.  When I was a child, comics were sold in drugstores, convenience stores, newsstands, and so forth, and they were cheap (a quarter, though the price steadily grew as inflation did from the 1970s on and advertising revenue dried up).  Now comics are $3 if you're lucky and are basically only sold in comics specialty stores, though "graphic novels" can be found in bookstores and some other places, but those are even more expensive, so it is unlikely a kid will get into the comic habit.  Free Comic Book Day seeks to change that.  Well, this year's was a bummer.  I even looked at Comixology the other day, and they also seemed to be no Free Comic Book Day there (though they had their usual assortment of free digital comics, just nothing for FCBD).

Thankfully, Dave Sim of Cerebus fame stepped in to save the day from being a total loss.  I doubt if any kid will get into reading comics from reading Sim's free comic (one needs a basic understanding of current events, Alan Moore comics, The Silver Surfer, and Dante to get most of the jokes), but I sure enjoyed it.  Sim apparently thinks the response to COVID-19 is as way overreactive as I do, so it was nice to know that a few other freethinkers are still out there.  The jokes are also really funny as well, regardless of how one feels about the COVID-19 panic or Sim himself, who is a controversial figure in the comics world, having grown more religious and politically conservative over the years.  I met him once at SPACE 2003 in Columbus, Ohio USA when he took a bunch of small press cartoonists out for dinner, and he was quite a nice guy.  He is a very unique individual no doubt though.  In any case, it's good to know that when even Superman's cowering inside, Cerebus will step in to save the day.

You can check out the comic here and the blog devoted to Sim here.

And it's not a comic and not free, but if you need something else to read, my latest novel is here.

Friday, May 1, 2020

What's Going On With Democracy And Civil Liberties?

These are weird times, and from a democratic and civil liberty point of view a bit alarming.  Where I live, we've had a botched election.  New York's Democratic officials seem to be actively trying to still damage Bernie Sanders even though he already dropped out of the presidential race.  We have tech companies playing censor, presumably to curry favor with the government officials who regulate them (contrast that with the early hope of the Internet to allow for a flowering of free speech and minority viewpoints, even bigger than the print zines in the picture above).  Most of the country is still under house arrest, even though I just checked the Constitution and there's no freedom from assembly, only the freedom to assemble, meaning that regardless of what's happening or the justification given by politicians, human rights don't get postponed or cancelled.  With luck, the current panic will die down, but people will need to start exercising their rights, or there will be some lasting damage to civil society as a whole and us as individuals.  Maybe the notion that Americans were much made of sterner stuff is a historical fantasy, but it seems as if centuries old Enlightenment values are eroding under mountains of cash and stupidity.