Currently Engineering a Jailbreak: One Year Later

I. The ledger
This one inevitably ends in Happy New Year but begins with me whistling Sinead O’Connor’s The Last Day of Our Acquaintance; it’s the last post of 2006. It’s also the one-year anniversary for this blog.
Regardless of your walking one two three thousand miles in any given direction it’s really in the moment you stop for a second and look back at this past year: Things might not have turned the way you really wished, for life often blows you somewhere else entirely and still… you’ve walked those three thousand miles anyway.
Time-travellin’ a day at a time…

If today were 29.Dec.2005 and you were to tell me of everything that would eventually come to pass in the ensuing year: Buying an apartment, getting a tattoo, going abroad for the office and spearheading this crazy project, meeting you for one last (?) time, coming to terms with this very specific matter regarding ***** and tackling the problem head-on with more maturity than I thought I could ever muster… And to be quite honest with you, also that The Flash would be cancelled then replaced with some crappy ersatz wannabe…
I would…

…some things just can’t be put into words, man.

II. The promise
It’s in knowing it gets tougher every year and also in knowing I get tougher every year; it’s in the cocky half-smile curling up the corner of my lips and telling life off, “You hit like some damn girl.”

So, 2007? Bring it on!


Worldview on a Thursday

Sometimes it just seems the whole U2 revival thing was probably an excuse for marketing high-resolution entertainment systems and flatscreen TVs, it really does.
Maybe it’s a little too depressing despite our current Yuga. I mean it’s not like it’s ever happened to Vivaldi, right?

…the ahh soap ads from a few years back obviously notwithstanding…


Contacting Cambodia amidst an airstrike: Freud phones in and Jesus tries to send an e-mail

True story; this one happens like halfway through the game and straight into the last days of the year:

Turns out the unified national telephone number we’d come up with for our customer service just might not work because of this tiny port town, down south, in which the phone provider is sort of unable to make the number available due to a painful number of also painful reasons and whatnots, etc.
Oddly enough, my mother was born in that very town…

Also… that bit regarding the unified national e-mail system?
Probably not as easy as it seemed at first; yet another perk from coordinating a company-wide project that clashes with the other hundred company-wide projects running in parallel.

All I’m missing right now is crying “arclight” and ducking for cover from the B-52s swarming overhead, pouring Nap*lm down over me.
Know who’s to blame? Jesus Christ. He is the one to blame; all that a day after his birthday? Coincidence?! He allegedly died to save me but not to configure my telephone system, apparently…


No fir

Christmas itself was probably not much more than a series of witticisms on the way I believe Santa Claus and Jesus Christ ought to be merged in one single Christmas entity, for after all both of them have beards and thinking of it, it’s gotta be a little confusing for the kids.
My father thought about it for a moment then said he’d read somewhere about the origins of Santa Claus; “Coca-Cola and Norman Rockwell, buddy” I said with a smile then sort of tried to convince my grandmothers what’s really celebrated on Christmas is Santa’s birthday, not Jesus’s. One of them believed.
We strive for the survival of the faith, we really do.

But all in all I’m a little pissed off because I get to design a stratagem that is quasi-military in its precision: Leave my parents’ place early on Sunday and get on that bus, go home, call this girl, see, and go out to dinner regardless of half the city being shut down for the accursed Holiday; my meal is even paid up by her and I’m thinking “Dude you’re so gonna rock tonight” but to no avail: Despite taking this girl back to my place absolutely nothing happens and I’m pretty much left in the lurch afterwards wondering what the hell’s gone wrong.
It was supposed to be the last f**** of the year, y’know…

Peter Gabriel plays on, however, and I fetch a nearby Superman paperback.
Christmas fades to black.


Christmas ‘06 (with Charlie Sheen)

…With none of that Dickensian crap, I promise you.
I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever been into that whole Christmas spirit thing anyway, peace on earth my ass.
But since we’re not spending Christmas with Holden Caulfield this particular post gotta be driven anywhere:

I did find The Wraith on DVD a few days ago, watched it last night. Do you remember this one? I mean you got Bugsy Malone right off the bat but this one is way stranger; it’s a 1986 movie starring Charlie Sheen, in which Sheen’s character is sort of this ghost whom drives a sleek sports car, come back from the dead to avenge his own murder by this gang of car thieves and vandals and stuff like that. You know how it goes, it’s from the same vintage that brought us gems like The Last Starfighter and etc. Reaganism still has a lot to answer for, even after all these years.
I did find it for ten bucks, though, and after returning from Rio I found ten bucks tucked behind the trash at my place.

…So here’s to ya too, man, a wonderfully karmic Christmas under the fourth Yuga: May that you & yours are spiritually satisfied for not nudging up nor down no 10-buck figure on any of your ledgers.



The aircraft carrier anchored by the pier comes into view against the mid-afternoon skyline as the plane lowers its landing gear; it’s probably some old, overpriced US Navy surplus that went the way of Communism and Betamax videos decades ago but gets me excited anyway. There’s something in the air today and I’m treading through the tarmac, basking in the sun, thinking that just maybe I can make this work.
“Welcome to Rio, man,” I tell myself then in the following evening me and P**** the guy from Chile are walking by the shoreline and the sun is setting down for the night. P**** is telling me about how Venezuela is just packed with gorgeous women but somehow I’m not really buying it. “So how do you explain Hugo Chavez anyway?” I ask him with a smile.
We spend the rest of the evening drinking beer and talking about Pinochet’s passing. The world seems a little stranger for no specific reason whatsoever other than hey, is it just me or is the air really lighter in here?

So how about this one: What if the legends were all true after all? I land in terra firma and what do you know, I’m somewhere else entirely, with something else lurking beneath the waves, waiting for me to become…
It’s like a… dude, it’s like some f*cking State of Mind.
It really is.

We get to befriend this group of girls from the office and get to hang out with them nearly every evening, even though P**** gets a little cranky after we try to make him sing a Julio Iglesias song on the karaoke. On Tuesday we meet some old acquaintances at the hotel, from one of our past trips, and it’s really cools.
She gets to send us some chocolate once she gets home, eventually, and we’re still in Rio.
It tastes better then it should, then I tell P**** we’re like rockstars, really, you babes…

We’re at this hotel downtown, see? It’s near the office and the whole neighborhood just sucks. We breeze through all the week’s the bad bits, however, because it just seems to be the right thing to do in this city.
This is so cool.

The comic relief comes on Friday when we’re at this shabby streetside bar with a bunch of people from the office and someone’s brought along this Trivial Pursuit-like boardgame. It begins to rain, to pour, and we move the tables in and the pawns out. We start playing.
Everything’s fine up until I start talking with this girl who’s kind of cute if you really think about it then I overhear somebody asking where the female scorpion carries its newlyborn offspring. “On its back,” I utter very matter-of-factly.
From then on it’s a series of Ho Chi Minh, Captain Ahab, Canada’s answer to the big-foot of course, Alice played it with flamingos everybody knows that one and so on.
They’re looking at P**** and I as if we were monsters from outer space but thing is, we were the only ones there lucky enough not to have been brought up on public education.

Saturday morning hits and it’s freaking unbelievable, downright unreal, as if the end of the world’s been put at bay until further notice.
There’s not a single cloud up in the sky and I’m wishing life could go on like this forever, you know? Like this endless weekend in Rio…
I’m a believer now, you know? I’ve touched Summer itself with the tip of my fingers and it’s totally true.

Also, we get to eat Açai for the very first time ever:
P**** because he’s from another country and me because I’ve been living like, as if I came from a different planet ever since College. It tastes even better because I got one hell of a tan to go along with it after the beach and buddy, I’m looking just cool.
A little bit of that old Don Johnson magic can’t really hurt every now and then, after all…

Life, if you think about it, it’s not iron.
Not really; it’s water.
It’s the ebb and the flow of the sea and it changes shape, it is like Proteus changing forth and back then turning around and dropping you down in a different place at a different age, divining the future.

Last call.
…when I was much younger I’d whisper a prayer to Neptune before entering the sea so I wouldn’t get burned by jellyfish washing ashore. True story.
These days I’m doin’ it more like my man Carter Hall, plunging in deep into everything, into anything, before I look, devil-may-care, up on a wing and a prayer…


Reading list for Oct-Nov.06, then out to Anakin’s for a week and a half

Betcha thought I’d forgotten about it, eh?
So here’s what I read in the last couple of months, the monthly comics or weekly periodicals obviously notwithstanding.
I’m going out for a week and half to deliver this training in R**** d**** J****, which is our National Headquarters and it probably means takin’ it straight up from Lord Vader himself, so I’ll be back on the 21st providing I survive.

Title: Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers
Author: (various)
Year: 2002
Publisher: About Comics
What: A compilation of several comic book scripts from many well-known professionals, mostly mainstream such as Neil Gaiman, Kurt Busiek, Jeff Smith, Marv Wolfman, Kevin Smith, Greg Rucka, among others, ranging from all sorts of formats, from plot-first to full script to thumbnailed script. Each script is preceded by a page-long text by its author containing notes and observations.
Comments: Actually I was really hoping for something… else. I was more interested in the comments per se than in the scripts. I personally feel that, story-wise, learning about how the magic’s done straight from the magician, than just to see the trick in slow-motion.
It’s not that it’s a bad book for it delivers what it promises: scripts. Only, you get sort of hanging in there for something else. Or more.
Oh well. It’s a little interesting anyway, only not for the price of admission.

Title: Lord of Light
Author: Roger Zelazny
Year: 1968
Publisher: Eos; Reprint edition
What: A very famous, award-wining sci-fi masterpiece. It’s the story of a planet many years in the future, settled by the survivors of an Earth that’s been long gone. Through the use of body-transfer and cloning technology the settlers impose themselves as gods before their own descendants, and rule that world as if they were the Hindu pantheon.
Sam, the alleged personification of Buddha (one of the first settlers) rise to oppose his former comrades and free the world.
Comments: Highly-recommended. This one will blow you away, trust me on this one, and all this coming from a guy who does not really like sci-fi novels.
Even though it’s a tale from classic science fiction vintage, it’s makes for a terrific stand-in for a “Hinduism and Buddhism for dummies”.
Definitely interesting to expand your general knowledge of worldly matters (which is always good).

Title: Glamorama
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Year: 1998
Publisher: Vintage
What: It’s starts out as the misadventures of one Victor Ward, a NY male model involved in the celebrity world in the days (and nights) preceding the opening of a jazzy nightclub. After the opening, though, he’s involved in a crazy international conspiracy… and I’m not making this up… involving models, actors, famous people in general and terrorists.
Comments: Ohhh strike out for Mr. Ellis this time around! I’ve read most of his works so far and they all rank among my favorite books of all-time, but Glamorama is just too odd in a sense it really lacks the author’s well-known character-driven lack-of-plot and focus on a PLOT-DRIVEN narrative which, to be frank with you, aims very high and gets pretty much nowhere.
In a sense, I suppose, the characters from Ellis’s “universe” have approached their 30s in this book and doesn’t seem so interesting anymore. Know that bit from a Natalie Merchant song, which is ironically enough, called Hey Jack Kerouac? It goes like, “Have all the boys grown up and their beauty faded.”
I think that’s what happens to this book; but also it’s too damn long- and Ellis should always leave a taste for more in our literary mouths.
Want the truth? I want to blame 100% on its weird plot but to be frank, well, 20% of my not liking this book probably comes from the fact that the Ellis-verse has finally pulled out of the 1980s… and the sheer fun of reading Ellis is the depiction of life in the 1980s.

Title: Batman: Face the Face
Author: James Robinson (writer), Leonard Kirk and Don Kramer (pencilers)
Year: 2006
Publisher: DC Comics
What: A comic book compiling Detective Comics #817-820 and Batman #651-654 from earlier this year. This is Batman & Robin’s first foray in the “One Year Later” DC Universe. What happened is, after this cataclysmic all-out war Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman have retired for a year and this is the first storyline after that hiatus. The Dynamic Due return to a Gotham City plagued by crime and investigate the mysterious deaths of a number of gangsters and villains.
Comments: This is a mellower Batman, which resembles the Batman from the award-winning 1990s Animated Series instead of the psychotic lunatic he’d become in the comics in recent years. It’s not that he smiles but he actually talks to people and stuff. Robin, on the contrary, has gotten darker and somber given his father’s death in the preceding year… which adds to a big development (ie: shift) in the relationship between Batman and Robin, from the older-brother role to a more father-son approach, as it should be from day one.
All in all, the drawings are very good and realistic and the characterization is superb, even if the new-kingpin-in-town plot itself is a bit too passé.
Mildly recommended, but interesting enough.

Title: Ex Machina vol. III- Fact vs. Fiction
Author: Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Tony Harris (penciler)
Year: 2005
Publisher: Wildstorm
What: This graphic novel collects Ex Machina #11-16 from the monthly series and features three separate storylines: In the first one, retired superhero-turned Mayor of NY Mitch Hundred is called to be a part of a Jury on some trial, in order to boost his popularity, but gets tangled in a hostage situation. There’s also a story of a vicious copycat vigilante trying to fill Hundred’s boots as NY’s superhero, and later on the Mayors sojourn to find his mother and bad memories from his childhood.
Comments: It’s not that it isn’t as the previous two volumes, it’s just that this one is a collection of shorter, separate stories. Still, it delivers the same outstanding quality as the previous stories and is enough to keep Ex Machina up there as probably the best comic book around today.
On a sidenote… and don’t take it the wrong way… but I gotta admit the most interesting part of Ex Machina is the whole “Is he?” bit regarding the protagonist’s sexual orientation. I’ll telling you this because that’s a theme I’m not really comfortable with, only it’s done with so much class here, subtlety and maturity, I can’t help but… wow it. It’s very funny because at times I find myself thinking, “Know what, it’d be really interesting if he said Yes I am after all.”
Absolutely recommended!

Title: Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Year: 2005
Publisher: Don’t know.
What: A lighthearted comedy (though a little dark in some bits) chronicling the adventures of one Charles Nancy, a regular guy who “just happens” to be the son of Anansi the spider-god of African lore. Once Anansi dies, Charlie discovers who his father really was- and all of a sudden this crazy twin brother he never knew he had enters his life to steal everything that’s his, including his identity.
Comments: This is Gaiman reaching for the big screen once again, don’t get fooled thinking otherwise kids… Still, it’s a very interesting book with some great passages that will actually make the reader laugh out loud.
If there’s one thing I have to comment on this book is that Gaiman seems to have moved away from the Douglas Adams-like dry wit towards a more in-your-face North American-sitcom sense of humor and what do you, it actually works here.
Despite being a tried-and-true Sandman fan I’m too often negatively biased towards Gaiman’s novels and despite being too often negatively biased towards Gaiman’s novels Yes! I do recommend this one, especially as a breather or a buffer of sorts between heavier stuff (like, Tolstoy, then Gaiman, then Woolf. Noooo of course I’m just joking in here).

Title: The New York Trilogy collected edition: City of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room
Author: Paul Auster
Year: City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986)
Publisher: Penguin
What: A collected edition with the author’s praised “existential detective stories”. In the first one a private eye is hired to follow a seemingly deranged, old academic fresh out of jail through the streets of New York during the 1980s. Then it’s back to the postwar 1940s where a detective is hired to watch a man from a window, but in turn the man might be watching him. In the last one, the author is contacted to solve the mystery of a fellow writer’s disappearance.
Comments: Now this is my very first contact with Auster and I’m finding a little awkward to try to surmise the stories in a sentence or two, because with him (at least on these three books) it’s not really about the plot itself but really in the manner the perception of the characters regarding themselves is altered by that very plot. There’s tons of existentialism, self-questioning (though not self-doubt) and the search for one’s identity. Basically all the characters engage in quests that will ultimately lead not only to the deconstruction of their own identities but the completely loss of them, all under the deceptively-simple aegis of the whodunit mystery novel.
What I thought of it? Very odd and as sure as hell not exactly my thing, but yes, definitely recommended! A book clearly written for smart people, and buddy if there’s one thing I love in this world…
Oh yes, and Art Spiegelman (of Maus fame) does the awesome cover for this edition.


Mr. Shoop and the Doppelganger

When I was fifteen years old I had this recurring day-dream which pretty much came down to meeting an older version of myself in the garage at my parents’. I was supposed to learn from myself of all the things that would come to pass, eventually, not to change history per se nor all that crap but in fact to get ready for things to come.

When I was twenty-five years old I had this recurring day-dream which pretty much came down to meeting a younger version of myself in the garage at my parents’. I was supposed to tell myself of all the things that would come to pass, eventually, not to change history per se nor all that crap but in fact to get ready for things to come.

I think that if there’s a moral to this story it’s that regardless of how much our mileage vary by the distance run more than a decade’s passed and we’re all still walking a thousand miles in any given direction.

Now stop me if you’ve heard this one but to be completely honest with you- and I do mean completely here- of all movie characters I can think of right now the one I feel most closely resembles my current state of mind is Courtney Thorne-Smith’s character Pam from Summer School (1987) especially during those sequences when all the kids are locked inside the classroom having to listen to Mr. Shoop the teacher and Pam, well she just keeps staring out the window in quiet introspection and she’s not really caring about anything else other than being totally bummed for all the opportunities wasted while then & there, locked inside with all those people she can’t really relate to.

Is there such a thing as “To fall astray” in the dictionary, L****?
Then I think there should be, because that’s exactly the way I feel right now.


From our brand-new series, Disturbing things to tell other people

Last night I dreamed that the biblical Tower of Babel was a ziggurat made entirely of Belgian Chocolate-flavored Haagen-Dazs rising upwards from the desert sand like a huge, sinful thorn imparted upon creation.

I woke up as God melted it down on the grounds that, “Mankind needs to cut down on its calories anyway.”


After the flood

As it turns out it’s one of those nights, you know? When you manage to pull through from the office at 8 pm because it’s raining like the end of the world and still it takes you two hours to get home.
The cozy, warming book in your lap does you little good because of the downpour breaking in from the rusted window frames (this bus is soooo old) and therefore your left side is all wet with rain, and your right side with perspiration. You crack a joke to yourself about being the Antimatter-Man, who was this old Justice League villain from the 1960s whom had his the left part of his body made of well, anti-matter.
Your were supposed to be having dinner with this gorgeous woman tonight but there you are, calling her up for the third time in less than an hour saying there’s no way in hell you will make it. “Some other time, then,” she says. “Too bad.”
In plain woman-ese it means, “You’ve just bitten the dust, old sport,” and you know it.

It’s around nine when a text message chimes in and oddly enough it’s not from the aforementioned woman but actually this girl from one of our Southern branches that you befriended a few weeks ago. “So how’s the rain?,” she’s asking. It makes you smile.
Or better yet not smile per se but actually smirk, because it’s then & there it dawns on you that maybe your own cell phone can send text messages instead of just receiving. And you know what they say about your first time, it’s just gotta be with someone special.
Since we are talking about a smart, classy, decent girl (first one you’ve met in a zillion years, by the way) you think, “Awww what the hey,” and send her a text message too. Your very first text message.
Not that it changes anything, but it is the 21st century after all. Deal with it.

It’s 10pm when you get home and your mood is surprisingly good despite all the difficulties. See, even the rain appears to have subsided a little.
You make it to the supermarket and buy some fancy ice-cream; regardless of not having dinner with the gorgeous woman tonight the ice-cream should remain written in stone.
It’s 11pm when the power goes out, of course, and only returns near two in the morning: It means taking a cold shower in the dark at midnight, by the way, after punching the walls of your new apartment for the very first time. Your hand does not bleed, though.

Come next morning, after working out, you take another cold shower, just because, this time singing some old forgotten 1980s tune instead of just cursing.
You think about this new tattoo you’ve been planning for a month, and then the girl calls you through this instant-messaging thing from the company’s intranet, and asks if you’ve survived the flood.

(You did, by the way, and that's how this story ends.)


The curve of the moon is swept inwards by the clouds tonight and looks like a bat’s wing high up in the sky

Back to my place under the scorching heat of a Sunday morning sky just past the point where the avenue starts sloping up towards the heart of the city and someone’s sprayed a Batman figure on a derelict wall by the sidewalk thus now stands a lifesized Batman shot in full body sans either shirt or cape as he’s embracing Talia the daughter of his nemesis Ra’s al Ghul in what was originally some desert setting or another downright holding her in his powerful arms and kissing her on the lips straight off a 1972 comic book penciled by legendary artist Neal Adams and the graffiti’s even gotten the colors right despite the scattered trashcans sprayed by Batman’s legs framing him & the missus away from Will Eisner’s The Spirit who’s standing by their side running at the reader in a classic pose from some specific postwar period I really can’t place because to be completely honest with you and this is the tricky bit that always kills my audience I’ve never really been into Eisner’s stuff but back to my place anyway and my phone will ring pretty soon which will mean I’m definitely not escaping going to the movies this afternoon and buddy it’s bound to be a silly movie with a singing penguin at that and it means my plans for a late lunch after a cold beer and nachos have been pretty much shot down to earth though before this one bit is really over I should tell you I’ve recently switched brands to Heineken by the way, just because.

It takes me two or three hours to get to sleep.
Echo and the Bunnymen are playing “The Killing Moon” in the back of my head; I randomly singled out that very Batman episode on DVD which adapts the ’72 comic book to watch before going to bed and it’s sort of bothering me.

Somebody’s life happens along these lines tonight, though probably not mine:
Fate... Up against your will... Through the thick and thin... He will wait until... You give yourself to him…


Excerpt from a song

"There's a boy who fogs his world and now he's getting lazy
There's no motivation and frustration makes him crazy
He makes a plan to take a stand but always ends up sitting.
Someone help him up or he's gonna end up quitting."

Who Wrote Holden Caufield
Green Day