Non-Sequitur #30: Not That There’s Anything Wrong With It

Dracula vs Dr. Strange by the great Gene Colan

So, finally I get a weekend where I’m not busy with important stuff or hung over or both. I think to myself, “Hey, maybe I should finally drag my lazy ass over to the theatre and check out that X-Men:First Class movie, it’s gotten some decent reviews!” I pick up the newspaper and look through the movie section and of course it’s no longer playing. Guess it my own fault for procrastinating.

I could have gone to Taste of Chicago which is an annual festival of food and music in town. A great variety of restaurants have booths and it’s possible to sample all kinds of tasty delights the city has to offer. Thing is, it’s always crowded and the food is expensive. I’ve gone in the past just to experience the music. In the recent years, I’ve seen folks from Stevie Wonder to Cheap Trick  to Macy Gray perform, but this year’s list seems kinda “meh”. Then I thought, “I should go anyway and take pictures for the blog!”  Then I remembered my camera is not working properly ( which is why I couldn’t share the C2E2 pictures I took). So, yeah…

I didn’t want to sit in the house, so…I went to Target and bought some pants.

On the way home, I saw a statuesque beauty trying to hail a cab. At least six feet tall and with her fancy hair do she might have been 6′ 4”. Tight jeans, black top, reddish brown hair…she could have been an Amazonian palace guard.

Then I walked past her and realized that “she” was a man. Oh, well…I guess she was still a pretty man.

I got about a block and a half away and looked back and saw that she was still trying to hail a cab. I found this usual because in that particular area, it’s not hard at all to get a cab in the middle of the day. I saw cabbies out. Were they all otherwise engaged or did they notice what I noticed? Did the cabs not want to pick up my new friend because she may have been “trans” or was I inventing things in my head be

The Legend Gene Colan

cause I remember what it was like to be followed around in department stores when I was younger because I was African American?

When I got back home I saw someone had put a rainbow flag in the window of the building management’s office. That’s when I realized it’s Pride Day or something. To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised by the flag in the office window. Yeah, I know there’s a couple of gay people in the building, but there’s also some pretty conservative folks as well. I was just surprised that management was willing to make such an obvious political statement.That’s all.

Anyway, the sun was still shining and it was still much too nice a day to stay inside. I could have gone to the beach and read one of the many books that folks have given me over the the last couple of years that I still  haven’t found time to read ( I got a couple of Dean Koontz, a Katherine Neville, an Ed McBain, and a bunch more). Then I thought about how I’m getting more and more out of shape and how I need to be more active. I decided to take a walk and stretch my legs and just take in the beautiful day.

I made it all the way to Clark and Addison and was a little hungry, so I decided to reward myself with some Taco Bell. Yes, yes…I know. One step forward and two steps back. I fully expect to go to hell for some of the health choices I’ve been making over  the last year or so. I haven’t been to this particular Taco Bell in a few months. I think the last time was when I saw the movie Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I actually recognized the woman  who took my order. She had a  tattoo and an odd gap between her teeth ( like myself). Maybe about 35-ish? But a hard 35. She was enthusiastic and friendly and seemed serious about her job even though it’s a fast food joint. I totally want to marry her.  In my mind though I imagine she’s already got a man. He’s twice my size and can kick my ass without breaking a sweat. Anyway…

After I left Taco Bell, I realized that I hadn’t bought new comics in a couple of weeks and I wasn’t that far from a store called Chicago Comics. So, I decided to walk a little further. I don’t get to go to Chicago Comics that often, but when I do it’s always fun to just look around. Of course, they’ve got the latest mainstream titles, but they’ve also got an interesting section of alternative and indie titles as well as DIY comics by local artists. Plus they’ve got an interesting selection books and magazines. For what it’s worth, I bought a copy of Fritz the Cat on VHS from this store back in the mid-90’s. I only bought a few comics though, because over the last couple of days I ordered a bunch of stuff online and really couldn’t afford to spend too much. Around this time, I felt my stomach turning over from the Taco Bell food I ate and knew maybe I should head home.

It's summer! I don't care what you say, pretty girls in flip flops are sexy!

Ok, by this time I’m by Clark and Belmont right where the Dunkin Donuts is. Back in my day this specific Dunkin Donuts was nick-named “Punkin Donuts”  because of all the punk rock and alternative type folks who used to hang out there. On this particular day, there was a DJ playing some dance music. The street was blocked off and completely packed. I don’t know if Belmont was the official starting place for the parade or whatever, but it definitely felt like it was. No cars and tons of men, women, young folks and families filling the streets. There was no way I was going to make it back to my place on foot, so I was trying to reach the El Train.

I made it to the platform. The train going my direction came and it was filled to capacity with young people getting off at Belmont. Most of them got off  so I was able to easily find a seat. Directly in front of me was a woman who had her head down with her fingers on the bridge of her nose, like she was stressed out. I almost said something to her, but I thought maybe I should mind my own business. She probably was just a little overwhelmed from being squished with all those other passengers. At least I hope that’s what it was.

So, I made it back to my neighborhood and went to a mom and pop store and bought some alcohol..er, no! I mean, uh… this day taught me about uh, the beauty of summer! I had had an epiphany about the brotherhood of man and the glory of civil rights! Um, youth and justice prevails over all and uh…the moral is ah…hell! What really happened was I took a nice long walk, enjoyed the sunshine, saw some nice people and came home.

Then I fought with my cassette player. It’ll play may Scotch mix tapes form ’88  fine, but I have to fight with it over my HR mix tapes from ’90. Whatever…

This is a very interesting analysis of Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Electra:Assassin. http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v3_1/tobe/  

Hey, here’s a fun comic book website I stumbled on. Mars Will Send No More! http://marswillsendnomore.wordpress.com/

Also, check out this young lady’s You Tube channel. It’s classical piano covers of rock songs and many of them are hard rock/metal songs. In my fantasies when I direct my horror/action movie, this version of Metallica’s song will be the theme. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWW38l0RhFI

I guess I read a comic book when I came home…

Alpha Flight #1: Story by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente and the art is by Dale Eaglesham and Andrew Hennessy. Um, you know what?  This isn’t terribly different than the way I’ll write this comic if Marvel called me up and offered it to me. The only thing is, I’d include more characters from the You Gotta Be Kiddin’ Me arc from the early 2000’s. The original team reforms and fights Attuma. Canada declares martial law and there’s a twist/cliffhanger. I’m interested enough to want to get the next issue.

Secret Avengers #14: It’s a Fear Itself  tie-in, but so what. It’s very good issue by Nick Spencer and Scot Eaton. It basically concerns normal soldiers fighting Sin’s ( the Red Skull’s daughter) mechs as they attack New York and the parallels between Valkyrie and  the soldier’s battles and heartbreaks. Nice art and Nick is able to do what some writers seem to neglect, that is  tell a story that works as a one and done yet at the same time ties in to a larger arc or cross-over.

Also, Patti LaBelle. I don’t have anything deep to say here, just Patti LaBelle…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRDTBNVWKOw

 

 

 

Holding On For One More Day

Hang on, things do get better

So around 4:30 am-ish a recent Sunday (6/12) there was a fire in my building. A lady ran down the hall banging on the doors saying, “Fire! Everybody get the f*ck out!” I was half hung over and the first thing I thought was, “Fire…yeah, right. Some fool feel asleep cooking again and his pot of beans is smoking or something.” I hazily put my clothes on and walked out. I saw smoke in the hallway,  but wasn’t taking it seriously until I heard someone say something about the fire starting on the 3rd floor ( I live on the 5th floor). Walking on the stairs, I did the one thing they say you shouldn’t do and opened the floor to the 3rd floor. I was greeted by  a angry cloud cloud of gray smoke straight in my skeptical face. I guarantee you I woke the f*ck up and treated the situation seriously then. By the  time I got downstairs and outside the fire dept was on the scene.

The firemen and their hoses and the policemen blocking off traffic definitely confirmed the idea that it was indeed and actual fire and not a pot of beans that was smoking. People were asking about other residents who soon made their appearance. I remember speaking to one woman who was worried about about her cats. She tried to pick them up and take them with her, but one scratched her and ran off. The firefighter rep we spoke to told her something to the effect that animals are a lot smarter than people think and the cats probably got to safety.

After awhile, things calmed down. It seemed like most everyone got out and the firefighters got the situation under control. The fire was mostly contained to one or two apartments. We had to wait around mostly for them to ventilate the building. There was some fool who was being loud and making jokes, “When we gone git back in? Hell, it’s cold out here! ” Stuff like that. At first I thought, ” Why doesn’t this dude shut the f*ck up?”  But then I thought everybody deals with stress in different ways. Some folks are stoic and silent, some folks use humor. The police made us wait a little longer than the firefighters said originally, so I went down the street and got breakfast. When I returned, they had let everyone go back to their apartments. No one was seriously hurt and the natural instinct was to laugh it off and move on.

Maybe 15 hours later a man was found dead in is apartment sitting in his easy chair. At first I wondered if somehow the firemen had missed him in their sweep? I know I didn’t see him outside earlier. Then it turned out he had passed away a few days earlier. No one had seen him in several days so no one thought that he was in the building. Thus no one thought to look for him.

Things like that are what really bring it home for me. I thank god that I have people in my life that if they don’t heard from me in a couple weeks, they’ll start asking questions. Our life on this plane is so fragile, it could slip away just like that. It’s been said by better people than myself, but I believe it ( although I’ve failed many times) we’ve got to make each day count because once we’re dead, we’re done.

So many of us get caught in situations that we think are unbearable. Sometimes we think that we can’t take it any longer. We might give in to fatalistic temptations or whatever. I know it’s a cliche to say that things will eventually get better, but I believe it’s true. Whether it takes days, months, or years…you’ve got to hold on because things will change. In the meantime take whatever little piece of joy you can get out of life where ever you can find it.

I wrote the original draft a few days ago. During that time Clarence Clemons passed away from a stroke. Rest In Peace

Non-Sequitur #29: All Those Rich Kids in Oak Park Take Acid

A lovely illustration of Gwen Stacey by Steve Rude

I Deserve Everything Bad That’s Going to Happen To Me: I haven’t been to Burger King in almost three years. Not because of any deep reason…it’s just a little out of the way of where I live and if I want junk food there’s a McDonald’s literally down the block from my place. But one particular day I made an effort to go to Burger King just to  take a walk on a nice day and to break from my normal routine. I decided to try a Triple Whooper with Cheese. It’s been at Burger King  for a while, but I’d never had one. It’s  exactly what you think it is and it’s maybe a little obscene…1230 calories, 225 cholesteral, 550 sodium. This processed mess was served to me piping hot and cost $6.40 for just a sandwich. I choked the whole thing down and I swear I felt dizzy. I’m lucky I didn’t have a heart attack right then. It was one of the worst fast food eating experiences  I’ve had in recent  memory. Of course, I’m dying to try it again.

Oh Canada! More and more my local NPR station is adding shows produced in Canada. I don’t have a problem with this, I just think it’s interesting.

In this issue of Marvel Adventures Black Widow..Wait! That's Veronica from Archie comics! Marvel lawyers are you out there?

“All those rich kids in Oak Park take acid”: That’s what I over heard from a couple of skate board kids on the El not too long ago. It was a few hipster looking youths with a couple of girls they apparently just met. One of the kids took down  an overhead CTA map and stuffed it in his backpack. It seemed like they were all on some sort of elaborate prank maybe? At first I was thinking, “fuggin’ kids…”  Then I thought, “That’s probably more punk rock than anything Fallout Boy ever did.” I’m not hating on Fallout Boy, I’m just saying.

“Hey, Rocky…Watch me revamp the DC Universe!”

“Again? But that trick never works!”

“This time for sure!!”

Veronica #206: So, I’m out spending more money that I can’t afford to spend and out of the corner of my eye I see this issue of Veronica at the local comic book shop. At first i thought it was an all ages Black Widow comic from Marvel. I guess it’s supposed to be a parody and I’m not an expert on copyright law, but hmm…  The comic has something to do with Betty and Veronica leading double lives as sexy super spies. In the first half of the issue, the girls stop a break in at Lodge Industries. They tie up the crooks in a “cocoon” they fire from their wrist gizmos. Like I said, hmm… The second half of the issue concerns Betty and Veronica investigating why the children of Riverdale are all of a sudden acting too rowdy to babysit. Turns out there’s subliminal messages in the children’s television shows causing them to behave outrageously. The conclusion of this story will be published in Betty #192.  Overall, I guess it’s innocent enough. The ads in this issue are a little curious. There’s two ads for the Archie married stories and FOUR for the upcoming Kevin Keller mini-series. I understand wanting to push your new product, but is it necessary to have four different ads for the exact same comic?

Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates #4:  I’ve been really disappointed with the Ultimate comics recently (hey, they’re going to get a reboot too!) , but the cover to this kinda drew me in. This is a tie in with the Death of Spiderman and it’s not terrible. The two Ultimate teams fight. Nick Fury is being set up. There a plot twist. More hi-jinx next issue. Not amazing, just ok. I enjoyed the art in this issue by Lenil Yu and Stephen Segovia. Some people don’t like Lenil’s sketchy style, but here it’s a lot more tight than in other places I’ve seen it.

It’s too bad these guys aren’t more respected