Reading list for May-Jun, 2007, pt. I: The books

I should do this monthly or at least bi-monthly but I kind of got carried away doing other stuff, as usual, so here goes nothing anyway.

But so as to make it up to you, here’s the list with added extra comments by Mr. T as the A-Team’s B.A.!

Title: Faust, part one
Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Year: 1808
Publisher: Jesus, were there publishers back in 1808? Like, Dinosaur Books instead of Penguin Books?
What: A play that’s part tragedy and part comedy about this scholarly guy whom, in his quest for the ultimate knowledge, bargains with the devil and sells his soul to him. As expected, things don’t go so well after that. Come on, everybody’s heard of Goethe’s Faust, gee…
My comments: Now this is good. This is amazing, it really is. First of all, keyword is accessible, because that’s what it ultimately is. Academic people rant on about Goethe’s Faust up to the point they erect this nigh-impenetrable wall of non-accessibility around the text, and when a regular mortal like you and I gets to read it for real… it’s simply put, extremely accessible! The vocabulary is not really hard, the situations are nothing too different from our present reality, and so on.
It’s also very funny. Very funny. You’d expect those Sturm & Drang stuff to be so full of… well, sturm & drang, you barely believe you’re actually laughing out loud with Mephistopheles’ antics- and a funny fellow he is: The critique is heavy on greed, lust, the whole existential brouhaha, etc.
Oh, there’s one bit in near the end with is sheer amazing, which is Faust’s visit to a witches’ ceremony during Walpurgis Night, which must have influenced to some extent the Night in Bald Mountain segment in Disney’s Fantasia.
All in all… Absolutely recommended!

Mr. T says: "I ain't no fool for dealing with no devil! This sucker deserves even worse than he got and I'm more than willing to teach him a lesson!"

Title: Breakfast of Champions (or, Goodbye Blue Monday)
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Year: 1973
Publisher: Dunno.
What: One of Vonnegut’s most famous novels, about the lives of two men intertwining with one another’s as theirs both border (and surpass) pure nonsense.
Kilgore Trout, a recurring character of Vonnegut’s, is a deadbeat science fiction author who writes for p*rn magazines. He hitchhikes across America to receive the first award of his career, while Dwayne Hoover, who owns a Pontiac dealership and also half the town Trout’s going to, starts to go crazy, to the point he reads one of Trout’s pulp tales and starts believing in them (one about all mankind being robots except for the narrator). When they meet, chaos ensues.
My comments: Vonnegut’s plots are basically vehicles of thinly-veiled and not-so-thinly-veiled introspective studies of the human condition: I guess the main aspect would indeed be that the questioning of the meaning of life, but not only that. With lots of humor, Vonnegut dabbles with his customary acid wit towards tricky subjects like racism, mass consumption, sexu*lity and environmental causes too.
I’d also like to point out the unusual manner the author digresses the narrative towards minor characters every now and then, creating a truly three-dee atmosphere that draws the reader right in.
Vonnegut is a true genius who passed away only a few months ago. If you’ve never read any of his stuff, then it’s about damn time to start: It’s like Douglas Adams in a way, but written strictly for adults.

Mr. T says: "This crazy fool gets on the jazz, he's even worse 'an Hannibal! This is dangerous stuff, man! I'm telling ya: This is dangerous stuff!"

Title: Down & Out in Paris and London
Author: George Orwell
Year: 1933
Publisher: No idea.
What: One of the author’s earliest works, a biographical account of his mis-adventures living below the poverty line both in Paris and London: Living out of old decadent pensions, sleeping on the streets, scrounging for cigarette butts, washing dishes and sweeping floors, befriending homeless people, and so on.
My comments: This is a very interesting book, it really is, because it captures the zeitgeist perfectly: Orwell’s a master at descriptions and he paints a canvas before the reader with his words: You are there with him, you know what it’s like, and so on.
Negative bit is, it gets awfully repetitive. I mean, guy gets hungry, he doesn’t have any money left, can’t find jobs, etc. It’s pretty much a succession of those things… but it’s a fun, interesting book nevertheless, especially the part in which he vividly describes the routine of working at the bowels of a large Parisian hotel.

Mr. T says: "The sucker thinks he's been through some rough times? Ya wanna see bad, real bad, then try growing up in the ghetto for a change!"

Title: Smoke & Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Author: Neil Gaiman
Year: 1998
Publisher: Don’t care.
What: A collection of short stories and poems by one of the modern masters of horror fiction, ranging from harmless magical fantasy to gritty reality, and halfway between both. It’s actually an anthology of past works by the author.
My comments: General consensus will probably tell you Gaiman’s good. What I think? I think he’s way under-rated: He’s amazing, that’s what he is!
I think this book proves why Gaiman is an almost unsurpassable champion of his craft, which is storytelling: this guy can write about anything! I mean, he starts out with a wedding present-themed variation on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, then goes on to tell of an old lady who just happened to buy the Holy Grail at a neighborhood antique store, but also writes very down-to-earth stories such as the hardships of a young couple dealing with an ab*rtion, and so on.
Bottom line is, Gaiman is a professional storyteller, period, and you should be reading his stuff.

Mr. T says: "I ain't readin' no dumb fairy tales! This is crazy talk for fools like Murdock an' his imaginary friends!"


Hunting Hi/Low

Back when I was a kid, ranging from about ages five to seven, I was downright psyched about airplanes. I just loved airplanes and knew their names and specifications and so on, and my parents could feed me any books save for books about airplanes: From single engine propellers to military aircraft from back in WWII.
Like, I was crazy about the C-130 Hercules cargo plane and when President Reagan came to Brazil I think in ’84 or ’85 my parents actually had to take me to the airport not to see the guy, but to see the C-130s lying there on the tarmac like big olive elephants with wings.

As opposed to what you might think, though, I was never really in love with the F-14 Tomcat despite the aircraft being the main star in my favorite movie, which was (and still is) Top Gun. My favorite airplane was Lockheed’s SR-71A Blackbird: This fellow could go at over three times the speed of sound, and that design! I mean, children of the 1980s were sort of used to how cool those airplanes designed by Lockheed’s Skunkworks division looked, but the Blackbird was just sleek beyond all belief!
As a matter of fact, and this is huge trivia here, what really got me into X-Men comic books was the pure, simple, sheer fact that the X-Men used to fly a modified Blackbird. Imagine that? Wolverine and Cyclops flying a Blackbird?
Best thing ever for a six-year-old kid back in ’86…

After the Cold War ended and they mothballed the Blackbird I sort of stayed an orphan, aircraft-wise. I mean, I still love the Flying Fortresses from the 1940s, and the P-38 Lightning will always have a place in my heart. But they’re not the Blackbird, see?
And neither is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, with that big, mean minigun coming out of its nose… remember how the Cobras employed a customized VTOL-enabled A-10 back in the GI Joe cartoons? Still, no Blackbird.
Now the invisible aircraft that took over our imagination back in the 1990s were not nearly as cool either, so don’t bother. I mean the F-117 Nighthawk and stuff? Too angular. Too weird. No charm at all.

What I’m really trying to say, I think, is that I’ve fallen madly in love with the F-22 Raptor.
This high-quality baby is an air superiority fighter that’s been gradually replacing the F-15 Eagle since late ’05. It’s got the latest technology in avionics and well, everything. It flies at over Mach 2 with no need for afterburners, is more invisible to radar than the F-117, and looks absolutely gorgeous!
Starscream in the upcoming Transf*rmers movie changes into a F-22, by the way, so that you know. And Green Lantern’s alter ego Hal Jordan is an Air Force pilot who flies the F-22 in the comics, too.

The US Air Force employs this technique known as the Hi/Lo Mix when it comes to its aircraft. What they do is pretty much base their fighter aircraft on two basic models, a high-quality fighter (means, expensive) and a “low”-quality fighter (for mass production and usage).
Up until this point, the F-15 Eagle was the Air Force “high-end” fighter, a jet plane conceived for sheer air superiority, with the smaller F-16 Fighting Flacon (the one that looks like the F-15 but has got only one tail fin, you know?) being the low-end.
What you got now is, the F-22 gradually replacing the F-15, with the brand new F-35 Lightning II set to replace the F-16 in about five years.
The F-35 made a cameo in the recent Superman Returns movie: Two F-35 follow the space shuttle up close before the accident. They’re really similar to the F-22, by the way, only smaller and a bit chubbier-looking. It’s a joint strike fighter program being developed together between the USA and the United Kingdom, and as opposed to the F-22, this fighter will be marketed internationally.

There’s just one thing that simply isn’t cool at all:
You can’t go on dreaming of ever seeing a sequel to Top Gun featuring the F-22 insteaqd of the F-14, though, because the F-22 is basically an Air Force plane whereas the F-14 is the US Navy’s high-end fighter. It’s since been replaced by the F/A-18E Superhornet, which sadly doesn’t look nearly as cool ad the F-22. But the Navy will use the F-35, anyway, as its low-end fighter, which will replace the F-18 Hornet.
And Top Gun is a Navy school…

I can’t wait… and I kid you not… I can’t wait for the first wave of Transf*mer movie toys to come in, man, if they ever do. I got my blood boiling for an F-22 that changes into a big robot, and…

This is the airplane fanboy in me kicking in, you know? Ranting on and on and on about how cool the F-22 looks, without coming up with a good piece about it…


The "Mira a Señor Mxyzptlk de la provincia de Zrfff" post

The main difference between English and the Latin languages is, I’ve come to think after a lot of pondering, the way we Latin-speakers stick to our vowels as if they were mana from heaven or gold.
Portuguese is my native language so that difference to me is pretty clear, more than ever whenever I get to listen to a, say, American speaking English instead of me and workmates speaking English; as good as we may be it’s almost impossible not to place a vowel after single consonant.

I’m thinking of Mr. Mxyzptlk’s homeworld of Zrfff up there in the 5th Dimension: a magical land of flying imps and living thunderbolts where there are no vowels, and whenever I’m trying to speak in English I feel like Superman punching through the dimensional barrier, punching down every vowel to as to change the Miks-yez-pit-lik I’m uttering into my foe’s proper name.


One given Monday evening, with the power out

It’s a little past eight when I first glimpse at the reinforced concrete electricity pole split right in the middle, its upper half hanging by twisted metal rods and resting against the wall over the sidewalk. A medium-sized crane mounted atop a truck is trying to lift it up, but to no avail. Public utility servants work with special saws and axes so as to cut the upper half free, and also vainly attempt to convince the deranged homeless man sleeping by the bus station to get the hell away from there. The super tells me a fire engine lost its brakes in the middle of the afternoon and made the call as to smash the truck against the pole instead of packing the momentum of an asteroid as he went down the slope towards the park.
I’m half-laughing at the sight of the deranged old man not wanting to leave his filthy blanket behind as he stumbles away from the crash scene, but then this slim, downright gorgeous blonde who must be no more than 19 but does wear a wedding band approached the super and I at the front gate and inquires about the accident. I figure she must live in the building, too, though I’ve never seen her before.
I call A**** from my cell phone expecting to be granted asylum and a hot shower, since the public utility men tell me power’s coming back well after midnight. A**** sort of b*tches about as usual, though, and the invitation never materializes.
Not wanting to crawl eleven stories up to my apartment through the darkened stairway, I am left all alone to roam the city.

In the oddest of ways it’s the kind of night you actually dream about when you’re a kid because the power is out at your place yet the backpack you’re carrying feels like it weighs half a ton, but that’s only due to the pile-of-bricks-thick pile of books and comics inside.
There’s a McDonald’s just a few blocks away, see, with the promise of the same haven denied by my better half, save for the shower. It’s the same McDonald’s in which I bought this girl M**** a crispy chicken after this test we’d both taken in late ’97 when applying for some fancy College nearby (which we failed to pass). It’s the same McDonald’s in which I met a couple of girls from College in mid ‘99 while reading a historical book about pirates, and they asked me why I had missed the Statistics exam earlier that day (I told them I had no idea what they were talking about, which was the truth). It’s also the same McDonald’s in which my father gave me hell once in ’91 when he discovered I had been showing my dirty magazines to his friend’s daughters and I told him No even though he knew Yes I had (well they’d asked for it).
Earlier tonight, before getting home, I stopped by the bookstore for some comics and books and by this newsstand I usually buy my p*rn and dirty magazines at, because the vendor always throws in some free chocolate with the DVDs. Just so that you know.

I sit down with my fries and my orange juice and my pepperoni Shrek Menu burger at a table wedged between a mirrored column and the wall, under a spotlight good for reading, and produce a ton of reading material tucked in plastic bags within my backpack.
I stay there up until past ten, after Iron Man has taken down Captain America and brought the Registration Act upon all Marvel Comics superheroes, and I’ve wolfed my banana pie and caramel sundae. Once I get home they’ve already taken the old, broken pole out of its hole in the sidewalk and put a new pole in. They are re-connecting the wires.
The doorman offers me a candle since the emergency lighting has just gone out in the stairway. I say thanks and go for the light in my cell phone instead. Best part of the evening is, I’m going up those steps two-by-two and my knees don’t hurt a bit.
It’s too freaking cold for a cold bath but I curse A**** and plunge beneath the shower anyway. I’m singing some lost song from some New Wave one-hit-wonder as I jump up and down then praying for the towel. Sleep, after that, is sheer heaven despite all the noise by the street with the public utility trucks and whatnots.
The next morning the doorman informs me it’s actually the third time that pole’s been taken down by a truck or a bus in less than a year.


Excerpt from a Douglas Adams book Pt. I

“(…)This was the music we heard everywhere in China, particularly the first three titles: on the radio, in shops, in taxis, in trains, in the great ferries that steam continually up and down the Yangtze. Usually it was played by Richard Clayderman. For anyone who has ever wondered who in the world buys Richard Clayderman records, it’s the Chinese, and there are a billion of them.”

By, Douglas Adams, with Mark Cawardine
in, Last Chance to See (a real-world book about ecology and endangered wildlife preservation), 1990


The Shade: ten years in the making…

The new assortment of cheap, rather half-ass*d Justice League Unlimited action figures from Mattel includes this villain called The Shade, who’s a minor Flash rogue all clad in sleek black clothes, sunglasses, a top hat and a cane, like a post-apocalyptic spin of a Charles Dickens character.

I remember thinking ten years ago that, if they ever did a The Shade action figure I would definitely buy two: One for myself, and one for D**** because of that whole “Mr. Black” thing he’d going for himself back in the day.
It seems it’s since dimmed considerably but you just gotta stick to your guns, so come Saturday morning I’m definitely hitting the toy store, then over to D****’s.

I’m quite used to laughing at my own jokes by now, you know…


Yesterday morning 7:30 am, waiting for the train to work - a portrait in words

So A**** drops me off at the train station near her job there around seven-thrity in the morning and we haven’t really had any breakfast save for the handful of Lindt tablets her sister brought over from Canada last weekend.

A black man in dreadlocks and khakis selling assorted candies by the turnstiles has his radio on at full volume and it’s playing some dreadful reggae music which I think must be Bob Marley’s but upon thinking it over it’s probably just bias speaking here. A plump but rather hot girl with a bad platinum-blonde dye-job passes me by; it takes me a full ten seconds to decide I probably wouldn’t go to bed with her because most girls at the train station seem kind of filthy save for that one brunette I met in late ’04, but that I wouldn’t really have any qualms of jerk*ng off thinking of the blonde anyway.

The book in my hands is a collection of early-1900s short stories by American writer Edith Wharton, only this time the stories are ghost stories: You know, that whole New England turn-of-the-century ghost story about the hauntings of the ghosts of the recently departed, and so on. It seems I’ve been holding that book for all eternity and perennially falling short of passing page 200. I think of the mile-high book stack over my nightstand, every book marked reading pending for what feels like a hundred years, and shrug.

By the time the train leaves the station some ten minutes later it’s packed like a boxcar full of cattle but I manage to find myself a seat anyway. Edith Wharton rambles on about the hauntings of the ghosts of the recently departed yet somehow I’m still stuck short of page 200.

The aftertaste of the fancy Swiss chocolate mingles with that of A****’s toothpaste in my mouth, and I’d probably kill for a cup of coffee right now: No sugar, no cream, the medium-sized plastic cup left off to cool down to room temperature over by the sink in the kitchen at the office just a few more minutes away…


1989: The Crimson Dynamo vs. Detective Rook (A tale of times past guest-starring Norman Bates but not Cat Grant- hated the b*tch!)

Looking back, I guess I’ve always sort of rooted for the second banana.
Case in point, the Crimson Dynamo, who is one of those ubiquitous comicbook super-villains that pop up every other month, and has come through at least a dozen incarnations. So don’t bother keeping the scorecard.
He’s this really cool armored villain, clad entirely in red (hence the name), a foe of Iron Man’s who happens to come from Russia. He was a USSR scientist once, you know, back in the Cold War.

In the tail-end of the Cold War, having your kid’s birthday party at a pizza place was a big thing in my hometown and this was early ’89 or thereabouts, more than two decades after the Crimson Dynamo first appeared.
My mother threw this birthday party at a pizza place for me when I turned nine. She invited family, friends, and neighbors, such as the customs of the time. The restaurant was supposed to be haunted. It became a fried chicken restaurant afterwards, then had another stint as a pizza place, then became a bar, and ended up as a user car dealership, which it remains to this day, even though I haven’t heard any reports of a haunted user car dealership ever since, so I just guess the ghost that haunted its attic moved along the ways of the Berlin Wall and good, solid, readable Iron Man comics.

…Oddly enough there was this half-assed mockup of the Superfriends’ Hall of Justice made of styrofoam, cellophane and glitter atop my birthday cake. There were cardboard cutouts of Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman standing by the side of the Hall of Justice. They were way too big and definitely off-scale. I got to burn down that Hall of Justice a few days later with my friends. The smoke that came out of it was pitch-black and reeked of tar I think because of the styrofoam… But I digress.

Once the kids had all eaten up their pizzas, but before the cake was cut, we all went to play in this little open space in the back of the restaurant. It was directly underneath the attic window, which was haunted, and was where the ghost lived.
We didn’t give it much thought, though, because we were busy playing some silly game in which each of one would pretend to be a fictional character either from the movies or from cartoons or from comic books.
Rambo was pretty popular back then, I don’t have to tell you that. All it took was tying any crap around one’s forehead and wham!, instant Rambo. Megatron from the Transf*rmers was another given, at least for the kids in long sleeves: they would pull out their sleeves over their hands and there appeared Megatron’s hand cannon, which everybody called a b*zooka despite it not being an explosive projectile weap*n but a laser-like energy g*n.

J.P. came over and brought his older brother, whom I hadn’t invited because he was sort of retarded, but gave me a wooden boomerang as a present, which I thought indefinitely cool and was in fact one of the coolest presents I was given that evening. The other one being an A-Ha cassette.
Cool thing about J.P. was, even though he wasn’t really into comic books he had a collection of Mad Magazines I could borrow from, and he also liked old movies. He was, in fact, the only nine year old whom knew who Norman Bates was, and got all mom-related jokes because of that.

J.P. chose not Rambo nor Megatron that night: He was, as usual, a character he’d once created at school while skipping class. It was a Police inspector called Detective Rook, and he was supposed to be this anthropomorphized carrion crow wearing an overcoat and a fedora, but the way J.P. would draw it on his notebooks in class, it lacked wings or beak, and in lieu of the beak Detective Crow sported large closing mandibles like a termite.
That was the character J.P. had chosen that evening. I got to pick the Crimson Dynamo for myself, and as you can probably figure, we sort of decided to play by ourselves once we got tired from explaining to the other kids just who we were supposed to be.

But Detective Rook and the Crimson Dynamo couldn’t really fight each other: Rook was downright outmatched and despite J.P.’s claims to the contrary, eating rotten human flesh was never really considered a tactical leverage in battle… Plus the Crimson Dynamo armor granted its wearer with invulnerability, flight, electric blasts fired from built-in hand-blasters, and undreamed-of strength. I mean, the Crimson Dynamo can lift more than 50 tons (in fact I think he’s in the 60 ton-range if I recall my Marvel Handbook correctly). He’s gone toe-to-toe with heavyweights such as the Hulk and Iron Man.
I’ve never really liked the Hulk, incidentally, because he kind of looks like a homeless person, whereas guys like Iron Man and Batman all have cool suits and big cars and lots of money, and the Hulk doesn’t even have a shirt.

So the Crimson Dynamo was beating the living crap out of Detective Rook: Neither his oversized termite-like mandibles nor the bullets from his .38 wouldn’t break through the armor’s carborundum alloy. Rook was done for, but J.P. still had a trick up his sleeve:
“Whoa. Wait. Waitup,” said J.P., panting. “Isn’t the Crimson Dynamo supposed to be from like, Russia?”
“Yes,” I said, and explained the then-current version of the character. “He’s a special government operative. Ex-KGB. Like a Soviet super-soldier.”
“So what you mean is, he’s a Commie!” J.P. grinned. He knew he’d caught me with that one.
“Well, yeah,” I reasoned. “But his powers all come from his armor, see? Anyone could wear that armor and still be the Crimson Dynamo.”
“Well then how do you feel when somebody else gets to wear Iron Man’s armor?,” asked J.P. victoriously.
“I guess I don’t like it at all…”
“So there,” he boasted. “Detective Rook is a good guy! He’s a police inspector! Which means he’s gotta come from one of the Capitalist countries! Which means he always gets to thwart the plans of Communist spies!”
“I guess…”
“And maybe I oughtta give Detective Rook a superpower, too!”
That would be extremely cool,” I said, then suggested: “Maybe he could grow very tall at will and become a giant! Like Giant-Man!”
“And maybe he could shrink, too, and become real tiny,” J.P. added. “Like that guy with the helmet… Ant-Man!”
And we left it at that.

The moral to this story…

if there’s a moral to this story…

If there’s a moral to this story it’s that all cool kids read Marvel Comics back in the day, and that the post-Crisis John Byrne Superman was a f*cking p*ssy who seemed to get less screen time than that sl*t Cat Grant. God I hated that woman.
…who I think wasn’t even Byrne’s creation by the way but in fact Marv Wolfman’s, but you get the picture anyhow…


Stars Wars as a unit of measuring time

I feel old whenever people start talking about Star Wars and I mention Ben Kenobi, and people ask Who?, then I have to explain I mean Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It’s kind of funny because the way I remember it, we’d always say Ben Kenobi back then, and not Obi-Wan, but maybe that’s just me…


Mark Waid & Daniel Acuña to do the Flash!


Oh god I had this really cool idea for today’s post and it had to do with Norman Bates and the Crimson Dynamo but all of a sudden the new creative team for the Flash comic book is announced and it’s Mark Waid writing it, and painter-slash-penciller Daniel Acuña doing the artwork and this is f*cking amazing because last week, as I was reading the month’s comics, I thought of my dream team for a Flash comic and it was exactly Waid and Acuña!

Waid was the character’s top writer during the 1990s so he sure knows how to handle the Flash, and Alcuña has been doing some amazing work on Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters and also on Green Lantern.
Jesus Christ! I’m pumped, I’m hyped!
Baby this is freaking huge!

Also, they’re probably taking Bart Allen down as the Flash (Flash IV) and giving us back either Barry Allen (Flash II, dead in action in ‘86) or Wally West (Flash III, missing in action since ’06). Wally is my favorite comic book character ever but of course I really like Barry a lot, too!

So bring it on!
In the words of the Boss, Baby we were born to runnnnnnnnnn!


Flu season semantics

As autumn becomes winter in the Southern hemisphere, the air dries up and our collective nasal mucus cakes down: It’s the start-gun for the doorway to the influenza virus to open, with the main event in this pill-popping Orthomyxoviridae Office Olympics being the all-out virion round-robin, played strictly indoors in these fancy airtight 21st-century Corporate high-rises where the hazmat baton is passed from cog to cough, then from cough to cog, swirling around and about the climate-controlled ether of the fiber-optics carpeted sprawl then in & out & through the water bags in suits & ties...

It’s the same thing, really, year in and year out.
With me it always begins with a sore throat: Whenever my throat dries up and starts to hurt, and we haven’t really seen the rain in weeks, damn if it isn’t a cold coming...
And hey, it’s arrived or what…

Now my question it’s a bit academic. As in scientific.
For instance, the cold-weather flu outbreak is like a minor epidemic, right? I mean, it’s epidemic because it affects a given population hitherto unaffected and is transmitted within this population, etc… but considering every autumn-winter we all get this lousy at the office with out red eyes and sore throats and dripping noses and so on- I mean, isn’t cold-season flu sort of endemic to the really-big metropolises in this day & age?
I mean, God, it’s a given you’re coming up with the flu too whenever the people sitting around you begin sneezing…


The last temptation of Edgar Allan Poe

I had the oddest of nightmares during the past weekend:
It started out in my bedroom at this cottage my parents used to have back when I was a kid, and I was talking to this cute girl who seemed like an amalgam of a friend from back in High School tossed in with this other girl from the office. I knew right off the bat things wouldn’t end up properly because as soon as we said the first few words to each other I was all over her, kissing her nape and shoulders and stuff. I was sort of worried, though, because I really didn’t want to be doing that, because of my girlfriend, but I kept on it anyway.
The wardrobe by the bed had its double doors open ajar and I pushed her in and over a shelf above the drawers where I kept my underwear and socks.
As if the current symbolism weren’t enough, things got a lot weirder:

This angry mob thronged angrily through the door and caught me by the arms. Half the people there were wearing white aprons and half of them were wearing black leather jackets. They pinned me spread-eagle down on the floor, holding me by my wrists and ankles. The girl said nothing, buttoning her blouse back on with a blank expression on her face.
A pot of bubbling pitch-black tar was produced from the leather-clad crowd, and it was soon followed by a sac of white feathers by the people in aprons. They all howled mad and it made me smile for a split second, for I half-consciously realized where my mind was getting all that from: It’s a mid-19th century Edgar Allan Poe tale called The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, in which lunatics get to overthrow the medical staff at this asylum and lock them up after tarring & feathering them.
Of course my fun was cut short by the sudden realization I was about to get tarred and feathered myself. I screamed in protest, vainly trying to defend myself but the crowd just sneered and called me names, saying I was no good and deserved the punishment for cheating on my girlfriend like that.

I woke up sweating like hell just before the first drop of tar touched my skin, then preemptively deleted a couple of names from the address book in my cell phone.
You know. Just in case.


Building the perfect DC Comics supervillain strikeforce

Just so as to lighten up…

I thought of coming up with an extremely bad*ss group of DC Comics super-villains, seven members in all, and each character chosen for a tactical reason instead of mere regional preferences.
It’s kind of funny because in the end, I sort of ended up choosing some of my favorite villains anyhow… Eclipso notwithstanding for obvious reasons.

1. LEX LUTHOR (team leader)
Real name: Alexis Luthor (“Alexander” in current continuity).
Powers: Genius-level intellect.
Weapons: Several, especially “Warsuit”, an alien armor found on the planet Lexor which grants its wearer with superior strength and resilience plus nigh-unlimited multiple energy projection (in current continuity there are several different Warsuits and most of them come from the planet Apokolips).
Why I chose him: Luthor doesn’t have any superpowers save for his vast intellect. Meaning, he’s used to outsmarting Superman, who’s allegedly one of the smartest persons in the Universe… so there. That is more than enough to rank number one in any list. Pretty much ‘nuff said.
I mean, you’re probably gonna complain Luthor’s no team player and I’ll sort of grant you that… with the consideration that he’s so damn smart, he can figure out how to be a team player in like, half a second. He’s that good.
Also, Luthor’s got that wonderful truckload of sci-fi gadgets, especially that magnificent green warsuit (which is either from the planet Lexor or from Apokolips, depending on where you’re at in continuity), which makes him physically on par with the Man of Steel.
If I were a supervillain, I’d follow Luthor to hell and back.

Real name: Teth-Adam
Powers: Possesses powers and abilities bestowed upon him by six Egyptian deities: Superman-level strength, invulnerability, flight and super-speed. Also godlike wisdom and courage.
Weapons: Jesus, none! Adam is a person of mass destruction himself!
Why I chose him: The “black sheep” of the Marvel Family is powerful enough to tackle any opponent and that alone grants him top-spot on this list. He’s as strong and invulnerable as Superman or Captain Marvel, being theoretically able to haul planetary systems on his own, and he’s also as fast as the Flash, capable of surpassing the speed of light. He’s also imbued with god-like wisdom, and is a natural-born leader.
Recent events, in which Black Adam rose alone against the entire planet and destroyed a whole country (!) in a few days, killing every living being in it with his bare hands, more than proves he’s the most dangerous man alive.
I was tempted to go with Bizarro for raw power, but Adam’s power levels are just the same, plus he’s got the intellect.

Real name: Slade Wilson
Powers: Limited super-strength (about that of ten men) and agility, superior healing, uses 90% of his brain.
Weapons: Well, an entire arsenal , really, ranging from quarterstaff energy blasters to swords to automatic r*fles. Wears light body armor.
Why I chose him: Despite the lack of world-leveling abilities, professional assassin Slade Wilson is a master tactician and one of the best hand-to-hand fighters alive. He’s fought the Batman to a standstill, and went up against the Teen Titans and the Justice League on his own.
He is an expert in the use of firearms and edged weapons, heals fast, has limited superhuman strength and agility, and comes with the extra bonus of having uncovered the secret identity of almost every major superhero short of Superman… and he’s not afraid to use that for his advantage.
Some writers insist on portraying the Terminator like an honored man and so on, but let’s face it: Honor my *ss!This guy is total scum, he would sell his mother for money!
Obs.:I originally thought of having The Wraith (obscure mid-1980s Batman foe) instead of Deathstroke for sheer coolness, but then gave it a second thought.

Real name: Inapplicable.
Powers: Vast super-strength and invulnerability, extreme healing.
Weapons: None.
Why I chose him: Since Black Adam, as powerful as he is, cannot be in two places at the same time and I’m strongly inclined of having a brainless Hulk-like powerhouse in any team, for sheer savagery, I thought of Solomon Grundy the swamp zombie... but Grundy’s power levels and personality vary with the ongoing incarnation, which often proves to be a liability. Then I considered the 31st Century behemoth Validus from the Legion of Super-Villains, who’s even more powerful than Grundy… but he’s also almost impossible to control, and was thus discarded.
The pre-General Eiling Shaggy Man is over 10-feet tall, an unstoppable organic android with the mind of a beast: he’s superstrong and invulnerable and able to heal from any injury in a split-second, from the loss of an arm to recovering from a nuclear explosion.

Real name: Inapplicable.
Powers: Able to duplicate the powers and abilities of any super-beings he encounters. “Default” powers includes those of the full original JLA roster.
Weapons: Depends on whose powers he’s mimicking, but by default a copy of an Oan power ring and a copy of Wonder Woman’s magic lasso.
Why I chose him: Amazo is an android imbued with absorption cells, which means he’s able to mimic the powers and abilities of any super-beings he encounters, being even able to use multiple powers at the same time.
Amazo fits a role that I consider the most important in any metahuman assemblage, which is that of the multi-power. He’s your ace-in-the-hole, really.
I originally considered the Composite Superman, who has the powers of the entire Legion of Super-Heroes roster, but Compy’s godlike powers come at a price and expire after a day… whereas Amazo gets to keep the powers he’s absorbed indefinitely (which means you automatically get the powers of the entire Justice League by default, including Superman, Green Lantern and the Flash, among others, plus the eventual ones he might encounter).

Real name: Jason Woodrue.
Powers: Human/vegetable hybrid able to telepathically control and manipulate plant life. Also a master botanist and possessor of genius-level intellect.
Weapons: None.
Why I chose him: The Floronic Man, apart from being a genius-level botanist and electronics specialist, he’s able to directly communicate and control plant-life on a world-wide scale… Which means he’s capable of undreamed-of destruction if user properly: He could mess up with oxygen production (remember, algae…), uproot and accelerate the growth of underground vegetation in heavily-populated areas, cut down on food produce, etc. Great for causing natural disasters and terraforming!

Real name: Sam Scudder.
Powers: None.
Weapons: A truckload of mirror-based and light-based gadgets… ranging from hand-held holographic mirrors to laser guns.
Why I chose him:No super-villain group is complete without a Flash-foe, and why? Not because of the gaudy costumes and the weird powers, but because they’re all used to fighting a man who moves faster than light!
Take the Mirror Master for instance: He’s just a regular guy, not particularly bright nor strong nor fast, you take away his weapons and he’s zilch. But… and this is a huge but in here… he’s so used to fighting the Flash, that any other “slower” enemy has absolutely no chance against him!
But why did I choose the Mirror Master instead of Captain Cold or say, the Pied Piper? Because of the multi-power aspect, again. Even though most Flash villains actually have multi-power (meaning, if Captain Cold needs a cold gun that travels through time, he’s got it, and if Captain Boomerang needs a boomerang that travels through time, he’s got it too), the Mirror Master’s more formidable because anything with a reflective surface on, automatically becomes both a multi-purpose weapon and a mean of transportation.
The sheer logistics of having the Mirror Master in your team is too good to pass up.


Borrowed time

There's this funny story… I mean, not haha-funny story but downright sinister-funny story… that I’ve never really told anybody up until now, but now that things might've changed a bit, I just guess it's time:

When I was nine years old I had this god-awful nightmare in which my grandmother had passed away and it was an amazingly real dream. It was one of those dreams so frighteningly real that makes you wake up unable to tell fantasy from reality and case in point, I remember waking up with my pillow all wet from crying and utterly confused whether she was indeed alive or what.

So sheer horror notwithstanding, there was this particularly amusing (grim, but still, amusing) bit in which I wanted to ask my mother whether her mother was dead or alive. But I just couldn’t do it, for obvious reasons. I mean how does, “Gee mom I forgot if grandma’s alive or not” sound?
So I just kept feeding my mother with giveaway indirect comments, expecting for the truth to pop up into any of her answers and so on. And in the end I did learn grandma was indeed still alive, without having to embarrass myself with her daughter.

Now I was pretty close to my grandmother back in the day, real close, as in that whole second mother stuff. So what happened was, I got downright terrified for her life. I mean, she was an old lady, right? All grandmothers are old ladies and as far as my worldview (age: nine) was concerned, that was the one basic, common thing all grandmothers would do, which was that in the end they would all die

Which, again, downright terrified me: I couldn’t think of anything else for I guess days or weeks or whatever. Because, I was sure, given my emotional attachment to my grandmother I simply couldn’t take it if she passed away. Which may sound extremely egotistical upon first glance but perfectly acceptable within the aforementioned aged-nine understanding of life.

So then I came to another seemingly egotistical-only-not-really-for-a-kid idea for keeping the old lady alive:
I came up with this silly notion that she couldn’t die until I was close to twenty or thirty years old, because by then I’d be a fully-grown adult already, and would know exactly how to handle her passing and stuff.
And thus that’s how my grandmother never came to die when I was nine years old.

My mother called yesterday with the news: Her mother had just undergone a biopsy- which was something we were all basically unaware of, the stealthy old lady- and the results were in.
Yes there was a tumor.
And yes it was diagnosed malignant.

Which sort of takes your breath away, you know? And not in the Top Gun-kind-of way but in the bag-of-bricks-over-your-solar-plexus manner. Takes the fun out of everything.
Because hey, the old lady is 83, gonna turn 84 next Monday so what kind of treatment is feasible enough in order to be practical?
It’s not chemotherapy, it’s nor radiotherapy.
It’s just- and this is the bit that kills me- sit around watching TV and letting the remaining good times roll.

And then, at age 27 and allegedly a fully grown adult with an unflappable sense of the meaning of life & death I sit around in quite desperation suppressing both scream & tears, frantically trying to remember how to cast that lost spell from back when I was nine and I just can’t because that’s just how things get to (not to) work when you grow up and then I finally wonder of the use we put for all the borrowed time we manage to get for ourselves in this lifetime…


1986: When the Cape met Veruska (A tale of times past)

Now the Cape had been given that nickname by his kid brother on account of his haircut. He insisted on wearing his hair like a leftover poster-child for the late ‘70s: He wore it straight and long and cut it shaped like an inverted bowl draping over his ears, and therefore Chubbs had no other choice than compare it to a mantle of some sort and to thus dub his elder sibling The Shaggy Cape after all, and the name stuck.
Or at the very least the name stuck for Chubbs and me; we were the only ones to call him the Cape. Chubbs’s on the other hand was a lot easier, he was named Chubbs for being chubby.

Anyhow. Friday nights back in ’86 were truly something, because it was when my parents would go out with their friends and drop me at grandma’s (mother of my mother) for the duration. It was the year before First Grade; I was six years old.

Chubbs (Real name: G****, age: eight) and his brother the Cape (real name: R****, age: nine) lived with their parents on the floor above my grandmother, who was friends with their mother. So it was pretty much a given that, given any Friday evening I would run upstairs to meet G**** and R**** and watch some TV.
A local network had recently bought two American series, see, Knight Rider and the A-Team, and showed them both in a row starting there around seven or eight pm. Chubbs and the Cape were all into cars and stuff, so they pretty much adored Knight Rider. I didn’t like it very much because I always thought KIT lacked some real weaponry, a thought I share to this very day (despite unproved rumors of the car having a built-in laser cannon in his sensor cluster). But we all loved the A-Team anyway: They loved it because of Mr. T’s black van, and I loved it because of Murdock’s antics.

1986 was also the year the Cape met Veruska, who was supposedly the first girl he’d ever kissed.
Chubbs and the Cape’s parents owned a small ranch not far from town and the neighborhood ranch’s owners had a daughter named Veruska, about the same age as the Cape (9).
According to Chubbs, sole source of intel on matters of the Cape’s heart, the Cape would often elope to the woods nearby on cold Sunday mornings to meet Veruska. According to Chubbs, he followed the Cape one day and caught him red-handed kissing the girl. The Cape denied everything to the sound of a song sung by me and Chubbs, which went like this: ”The Shaggy Cape… kisses Veruska… in the woods…”.
It had its own rhythm, believe me.

I used to have a photograph taken by my father back at my grandmother’s living room from sometime in early ‘87. I might have since lost it. I’m looking at it right now. It’s singed in my mind’s eye:
It’s me and Chubbs and the Cape right after that evening’s A-Team show, and we’re all wearing hats folded out of that morning’s newspapers, brandishing kitchen utensils stolen from grandma like boy-kings holding scepters and swords. The Cape is hitting Chubbs on the had with a wooden spoon because he began whistling the tune to ”The Shaggy Cape… kisses Veruska… in the woods…” shortly before my father snapped the picture.

- - - -
This post isn’t ending in some cynical “And then we grew up” manner. It is dedicated to my grandmother, a week before her 84th birthday.


Holding out for Holden (a post not about JD Salinger, but about F. Scott Fitzgerald)

I think I’ve read JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye about four or five times. I like to tell people it’s my favorite book only I’m not too sure I believe in that kind of superlative. It’s a damn good book anyway.
Throughout the book the leading character (Holden) mentions he’s a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and to be frank with you, it was the next book I read upon finishing Catcher for the first time and I thought I was gonna love it, only I didn’t.
I think I’ve told you for like a hundred times how I couldn’t even finish the book the first time around and so on, but bottom line is, I’m not really a fan of Gatsby. And this coming from a guy who kind of likes Hemingway. Like, do I think Farewell to Arms is cooler than The Great Gatsby?
Yes, I do.

But I’m giving in to common sense here and second-guessing my personal opinion:
Somehow, and for gut feeling alone, last paragraph’s assertion just doesn’t ring right in my ear and therefore I’m planning on adding more F. Scott Fitzgerald books to my reading list. I mean not Gatsby: been there, done that, sorry if it was not my thing, etc- but the writer.

Let’s see how the to-be-read queue fares: There’s that Gaiman book for kids (Coraline) which M**** also lent me, and then there’s that new Dave Eggers novel (the one about the African refugee or something)… and there’s also some Vietnam war book, and Brave New World, too, because I was like 11 when I first read it. And there’s Eisner’s Comics & Sequential Art, which is a sheer miracle my giving in to reading that kind of stuff (was never into Eisner, you know? Yeah, shame on me and etc). But of course, all of them providing I actually make it through this very odd collection of ghost stories (?) by Edith Wharton. And apropos of nothing at all I have just realized I have never read Frankenstein. And then…

And then…

And then…

…Look, to be perfectly honest with you I swear I was planning on going somewhere with this post when I started but damn if I haven’t totally lost direction…


I dreamed of a street only to show you I can’t write verse in iambic pentameter

Just so that you know, I can’t write verse in iambic pentameter. Not really.

For instance: Last night I’d dreamed of this street back in my hometown, back when I was young, where my cousin lived and my friends lived, and at times it really seemed all our friends lived in that street: It was a short block-length dead-end street, a cul-de-sac in a fancy neighborhood over the bridge & across the river, on the other side of town, where the well-to-do people lived, and that particular street was no exception. All houses were large and comfortable, and most of them had dogs and swimming pools. All houses had kids ranging from eight to twelve.
In hindsight, it was a Lilliputian neighborhood in that aspect: The age of its inhabitants seemed to range from eight to twelve years old, plus their mothers and their maids, with all the fathers off to work.

I dreamed of this kid who lived two houses away from my cousin: He had an older brother straight out of Beverly Hills 90210, and a German Shepherd who must have outlived Connor McLeod (yet retained both its neck and a joyful, playful spirit).
I dreamed of the boy’s dog last night, and upon waking I felt the irresistible urge to put it down to paper- but in a special way- like in an “ode to childhood” kind of way- and this is where the iambic pentameter comes in:

I had been reading that Neil Gaiman book M**** lent me a few weeks ago and it was a book of short tales, but not only tales per se but short pieces of texts done in several different forms of text and poetry and etc: Like, there was a sestina in there, and he also rambles on verses in iambic pentameters too. And if there’s one thing I absolutely love about Gaiman is that he’s very similar to Jack Kerouac in that sense: In the sense he transmits to the reader how much he loves writing. The sheer act of writing, you know? And makes you wanna write as well.
So hey, I decided, I’m going to put the piece about the boy and his dog in verse, in iambic pentameter, no less.

But of course things are not easy as they seem.

A iambic pentameter means each line must have five sets (penta-, etc) of weak-stress syllable followed by a strong-stress syllable. Hence, ten syllables per line, like this: Weak, Strong, Weak, Strong, Weak, Strong, etc… adding up to ten syllables total.
It’s supposed to end with a strong syllable. I think whenever a line of verse ends with a strong-stress syllable, it’s called a male verse, or something like that. But I’m not sure.
I mean, I’m not really into poetry and stuff. And it sure seems easier in theory, because doing it is a b*tch.
Here’s what I came up with, anyway:

Last night I dreamt of this street back when we
were all kids in my(…)

The above lines were meant to be the first verse into the poem, the first couple of lines of the first verse, even though I quit before I even completed the second line…
But regardless of either my sloth or incompetence, here’s the breakdown to that sentence:

1 Last night [last=weak, night=strong]
2 I dreamt [I=weak, dreamt=strong]
3 of this [of=weak, this=strong]
4 street back [street=weak, back=strong]
5 when we [when=weak, we=strong]

1 were all [were=weak, all=strong]
2 but kids [but=weak, kids=strong]
3 In my [in=weak, my=strong]
4 …?...
5 …?...

At least so as to give you a better notion of the pentameter thing.
But there’s a problem here:

Not only I couldn’t even complete the second sentence, I remain a little unsure as to whether I really got the whole “syllable” thing straight: Right off the bat I’ve noticed I’ve kept myself within the safe (safer?) aegis of the one-syllable word: Night and last and so on, correctly presuming it would make things easier for me on the weak/strong thing.
But… and this is a big but in here… I’m still unsure whether I’m actually capable of differentiating a weak-stress syllable from a strong one, or I’m just calling it as per my own convenience.

So the project fell through. Also because (& first & foremost), as all posts here, I’m writing this at work in-between the beats of Excel spreadsheets and incoming e-mails and crazy Seinfeld-ian business meetings and so on.
Maybe I’m due giving another look at the Gaiman book before I return it to M****… because hilariously as it seems, I’m sure as hell having a hard time benchmarking my stuff upon Milton and Shakespeare here…

I guess in order to better wrap things up here I should come up with a hook in the end, tying the resolution of letting go off the verse project, to the boy’s dog from the dream.
This is the best I came up with, at such short notice:

Name of the dog was P***, which was seemed oddly similar to Poe, as in Edgar Alan but pronounced differently. I was planning on saying whether Poe’s written stuff in iambic pentameter but I have no idea, not really. And also no desire to have it googled up.
But hey, the whole Weak-Strong, Weak-Strong notion seems so easy, I guess even a dog could pull it off. Or a raven.
Not me, though, apparently.

…But before we call in the curtains on this one, one last question to the attentive reader: How many sentences in this post were actually written in iambic pentameter?

Smoke and mirrors, man… it’s all done with smoke and mirrors…


Four pages into the script for The Centurion v.2 #06...

For absolutely no reason whatsoever I sat down yesterday after lunch was through & I wrote a seven-page sequence for a Centurion story that, to be perfectly honest with you, should figure out there up ahead on #6 or #7, at halfway through the second story arc.
And no, I haven’t finished writing the first one yet…

So just for kicks, here’s the first four pages into that sequence.
Just please keep in mind I haven't corrected nor revised the text... and I haven't really thought it over, not really.
For instance, one might question Apache helicopters being used to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and I wholeheartedly second that. We'll leave it for the revision, alright?
As of now, it's just for fun.

“Faust & the Urfaust, pt. II: Refugees from the 20th Century

M*** C***
Full-script for XXXX pages.


Panel 01 & only
A large page-wide, panoramic panel sandwiched between two larger all-black sections, like a widescreen cinema shot.
Daylight. A bird’s eye-view of a flock of eight military helicopters flying just above sea level, escorting a massive cargo plane flying at the same low altitude; all of them leaving powerful ripples on the water below in their wake.
The cargo plane is an AC-130 (a gunship-converted C-130 Hercules), and its escort is comprised of four heavily-armed AH-64 Apaches, plus another four gunship-converted V-22 Ospreys. Note: If the portholes/windows from the AC-130 are visible in this shot (artist’s call) then they’re lit all-red from the inside.
And on the extreme foreground, as if very close to the reader & flying well above sea level, is a group of F-22 Raptor fighter jets, of which we can see maybe the nose of one of the plane, and the wingtip of another.

(no copy)


Panel 01
Shot from the same altitude of the aircraft; we can see the helicopters and airplane are almost skimming over the waves. All portholes and windows are lit red from the inside.

1 Cap: 0800 hours. Silent running somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean.

Panel 02
Shot from the inside of the AC-130 (basking under red lighting only): A body lies inert over a makeshift medical table laced with wires and sensors and whatnots. We can’t see the person’s face here but it’s clearly a male adult, plus he’s bound to the table by thick hi-tech shackles.
A handful of soldiers in full gear (cammo suits and helmets, night vision enhancements, M-16 in hand, etc) watch over the inert body. They all look a little tense.

2 Soldier #1/Lt.: Are the lab rats sure the power suppressors can hold him?

3 Soldier #1/Lt.: Check it again, Parnell. Jesus Christ.

4 Sfx, from bedside sensor: Teet. Teet.

5 Soldier #2/Parnell: Readings still clear, sir.

Panel 03
A military doctor in white apron comes into view, near the head of the medical table.

6 Doc: Those TECHTANIUM manacles could hold a whole crash of rhinos of any variety, Lieutenant. Especially of the super-powered variety.

7 Doc: What we’re doing is, we’re basically short-circuiting the electromagnetic field from the inside of bio-aura while keeping him under strong chemical sedation at the same time.

Panel 04
Tight close on the unconscious face of Montgomery Peer… or at least somebody whom looks A LOT like him. There are small electronic devices attached to both sides of his head, and there are small bruises and dry cuts all over his face.

8 Doc/off-panel: Plus the neural scramblers are continuously tampering with his thought process and forcing his synapses to misfire at random. Even in the unlikely event of his waking up and summoning his ahhh…

9 Doc/off-panel: …his ASPECT, if you will…

Panel 05
Shot from behind the group of soldiers and to their side, looking ahead to the table & doctor at the opposite end of the panel (the doctor is searching for something in a cabinet drawer by the bulkhead)
The soldiers are half-smiling to one another: Cocky and nervous at the same time.

10 Doc/off-panel: …his reflexes would be very close to those of a newly-born blind fishbowl snail anyway.

Panel 06
The doctor produces the original silver-and-blue uniform the Centurion used from ’89 to ’94 and proudly shows it to the soldiers. More confident smiling ensues.
(The version of the uniform is obviously incongruent with this story being set in the present. The reason for that will become clear later on).

11 Doc: Gentlemen… We have neutralized the Centurion.


Panel 01
Shot from behind the aircraft, still at lea level, POV following their wake.

1 Cap/Doc/off-panel: “No. More than that…”

Panel 02
Pull closer to (the backside of) the AC-130: Tiny electrical sparks suddenly burst from several different parts of the plane, all over its fuselage and wings and rudder.

2 Cap/Doc/off-panel: “The LAB RATS have neutralized the Centurion.”

3 Sfx: Bzzt. Bzzzzzt.

Panel 03
Close on Peer’s unconscious face inside the plane.
Alarm klaxons start firing up all over the aircraft.

4 Soldier #1/Lt.: What?! What’s going on?

Panel 04
Alarm lights flare up; the soldiers and the scientist are startled.

5 Soldier #3: What’s happening?

6 Soldier #2/Parnell: Readings are off the scale!

7 Doc/whispering: This is not possible…

Panel 05
Close on Peer’s face just like on panel 3, but he’s just opened his eyes wide.

8 Soldier #2/Parnell/off-panel: He’s awake! Oh f*ck!

9 Soldier #1/Lt./off-panel: Restrain him, quick! Do...

Panel 06
A page-wide panel showing all aircraft flying close together: Peer, unseen at high speeds, bursts through the hull of the AC-130 like a comet, shooting upward in a thin streak of light.

10 Cap/Soldier #1/Lt./off-panel: …something.

11 Sfx: Crash!


Panel 01
Shot from the inside of the cockpit of the AC-130. One of the pilots screams into his built-in helmet radio ad the other struggles to keep control of the plane.

1 AC-130 pilot #1: This is gunship Achilles. We have a security breach. I repeat, we have a security breach…

Panel 02
Shot from the inside of the cockpit of one of the F-22 Raptors flying over the AC-130 and the helicopters: This is a very calm yet sinister image, with the pilot’s darkened visor reflecting the sunlight against the canopy.

2 Cap/AC-130 pilot/off-panel: “…Target has escaped!”

3 Raptor pilot #1: Roger that, gunship Achilles.

Panel 03
Pull back on the cockpit to show the fighter jet almost entirely. We can maybe see other Raptors flying nearby in wedge-like formation.

4 Raptor pilot #1: All Shadow Squadron units proceed to intercept.

Panel 04
The Raptor squadron breaks formation and scramble downwards: We can count about five of six fighters on this shot, flying successively after one another.

(no copy)

Panel 05
Back to sea level, the damaged AC-130 is left behind as the Ospreys and the Apaches gain altitude and speed.

5 Apache pilot #1: All units scramble and initiate pursuit.

6 Apache pilot #1: Squadron is authorized to employ lethal force if necessary.

Panel 06
Pull closer on the canopy of the leading Apache helicopter.

7 Apache pilot #1: Shoot to kill.


London called, a haiku

Thirty years on:
“Recorded Winter 79”.
Saw the ice age through.


The triptych: A gestalt out of Bruce Dickinson, Bret Easton Ellis, and Alfred Bester’s Green Lantern oath from back in ’43

Okay, this one is gonna be a lot of fun:
Last evening I was listening to the radio as I rode the bus home from work. I was listening to a rock and roll station and they were playing several heavy metal songs in sequence, and truth be told I was never into heavy metal even though most of my friends are.

And this is the bit in which we get rather iconoclastic and polemic, because this is the bit in which I say that Bruce Dickinson’s The tears of the dragons is probably the f*cking gayest song I’ve ever heard. And this coming from a guy whom absolutely adores the Pet Shop Boys.
I mean, that whole "I throw myself into the sea / release the wave / let it wash over me" bit is so beyond corny, it’s like it’s been spoken out of a male sauna or something. And then the guy in the song slowly rises, etc, and I’m thinking, Come on! What’s all that about, anyway? And the long hair, and leather jackets, and the tattoos?
Save for a couple of AC/DC songs, I could never really get what people see in heavy metal songs. Not really.

But then I had two bright ideas:
One, that since most comic book fans are also heavy metal fans, the song could easily be transformed into a Green Lantern’s oath, just like in the comic books.
And two, that the song could also be transformed into a mid-1980s piece of prose as if straight out of a Bret Easton Ellis book.

And then… out of the blue…. amidst the never-moving gridlock and the sea of red traffic lights… I had this third, and really weird idea, which was having a Bret Easton Ellis-written Green Lantern oath over the lyrics to the Bruce Dickinson’s song.
Like, most people will clearly tell you that it can’t be done. I wholeheartedly disagree.

Check it out, step by step:

I. The GL oath
First of all we must take the Bruce Dickinson song and have it intertwined with writer’s Alfred Bester classic Green Lantern oath from 1943… that one that goes, “In brightest day, in blackest night… No evil shall escape my sight… Let those who worship evil’s might… beware my power… Green Lantern’s light”.

This is what I came up with:

There are things I should say, to escape from secrets in my mind,
The water is moving, and slowly I wake and rise,
Above the dragon’s tears with wings that give me flight,
I see walls crumble before my power... Green Lantern’s light!

II. The Bret Easton Ellis bit
Now we’re letting go for a second of the GL oath, and getting back to the original lyrics to Dickinson’s song. What follows is a short bit of prose, as if the Tears of the Dragon were a part of a mid-1980s book by Bret Easton Ellis, like The Informers or Less Than Zero:

“I wake up on a cloudy morning, on a particularly bleak winter morning and notice that Bruce’s not where he should be, the sheets still a mess by his side of the bed. I rise, slowly and naked, and put on nothing but an off-white Polo sweater of his despite the cold. Bruce has left the bedroom door slightly open. Still numb, I follow his trail outside and half-stumble into the balcony.
Bruce is standing by the edge of the balcony wearing nothing but a tattoo with the image of a dragon up on the outside his right biceps. I notice he has lost some weight, but I never bring it up.
He sees me and nods, smiles gently. Says nothing. I slip my hand in his and we watch the glaciers thaw and crumble by the icy lake below his father’s villa. Even the light of day is cold.
Bruce lets go of my hand, closes his eyes as if facing unknown childhood fears. I run my fingernail across the tattoo on his arm, and for a split second I have the impression that there are real tears rolling down from the dragon’s eyes.
It is the last day of Winter, 1984.”

III. The GL oath as written by Bret Easton Ellis, over the Bruce Dickinson song
Okay, this is where all the madness comes together & we let it rip:

Out of bed and still hungover, I go outside,
To see Bruce naked on the balcony, in wintertime
A dragon shedding real tears on the tattoo on his arm,
I take his Polo sweater out of the closet… and into Green Lantern’s light!

And that’s a wrap.
…To think I’ve been wasting away my talent at the office, seesh.
I mean, William f*cking Shakespeare couldn’t have pulled this one off himself!

(no wonder the dragon is crying...)