Non-Sequitur #32: I Didn’t Come To Bring You Down

Joan Jett! Yeah...Joan Jett.

So, I’m walking home the other day and I pass a group of mostly young clean cut folks. They were all in similar T-Shirts and shorts. The  man who seemed to be the leader was maybe about 30-ish. They all appeared to be so happy to be outside and walking around together, I wondered if maybe they were apart of a church or something. I went into a McDonald’s and as I was walking to the door, I saw a security guard throwing out a beggar. I placed my order and waited for my food. Who should come in after not too long? You guessed it…the happy group along with the beggar. The leader made a point to go up to the guard and tell him that the beggar was with their group and that the beggar wasn’t going to ask for change and that everything was going to be cool. I could tell that  the guard didn’t want to let the beggar back in the building, but couldn’t do anything about it. While waiting, I overheard them say they that were indeed from some out of town church group. I was like, “Heh, the church folks challenged authority and won by being nice to somebody.” Fight the Power!

Random “El” Story: A few days before that, I sat next to an old man riding home on the “El”. He wasn’t neccessarily drunk, but I could tell he was a drinker. He told me that he was riding the El because he was trying to kill time until his wife left home to go to work. They’d been arguing lately and he was trying to avoid her. The reason they’d been arguing is that he’s 60-something and she wanted him to stop getting high, but he wanted to keep doing what he does. Geez, man…how terrible it must be to have a wife that doesn’t want you to die from narcotics abuse. (sarcasm)

Random Beer Purchase: I don’t normally drink Guinness beer, but a couple of days ago a bought a pack. I opened a can and took a hearty swig and I’m like, “What the f**k is this little ball doing in there?!”  I guess Guinness is brewed slightly different than other brews and there’s nitrus or something in the ball to help the beer keep a hearty head when the can is opened. So…there’s that.

Composer Henry Mancini. Whether you know it or not, you’ve heard his songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRoq9MzMgoU&feature=fvsr and ESPECIALLY this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK-b5PLhrEI&feature=related

A couple of comics, I guess…

Batman Inc #7: I enjoyed this comic more than I thought I would. Batman is still recruiting his international army for the upcoming battle against the Leviathan. In this issue  he meets The Man of Bats. At first I was afraid that Grant Morrison might go for some sort of Native American noble savage stereotype, but gladly that’s not quite the direction he went for this story. The story does address the poverty that’s prevalent in many Native American communities. The art is by Chris Burnham, kinda Frank Quietly-ish. Also, I’m pretty sure the cartoon on the TV the baby is watching is Go Go Gophers from the early 60’s (?). Nice enough issue. I’m still on board.

Fear Itself #4: *SPOILER*  Ok, I bought the first issue because of Stuart Immonen’s art, but I haven’t been following it. The writing is by Matt Fraction. I got this one because I couldn’t believe that they’d actually kill Bucky right after killing Ultimate Peter Parker. I was thinking, Buck’s probably just in a coma or something. Well, I know there’s still a few issues left in the story plus whatever’s going on in the main Cap title, but Buck does appear to be dead. I’m slightly pissed. Not just cuz I was starting to like Bucky, but because it’s such a cliche! It’s been done so many times before, “hero-reclaims-the mantle-after-his replacement-dies.”  It’s been done before in Captain America comics!! I know it’s superheroes, it’s genre entertainment, but geez…can you at least try to make feel not so stale? Stuart’s art is great.

Yeah! Joan Jett! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6LwOntjzrw

Non-Sequitur #28: Revolution Is Not an AOL Keyword

One of my dumb fantasies is to see a comic book adaptation of this movie drawn by Frank Cho

To paraphrase the Clash, I been drinking brew for breakfast…

The Nice Ladies at My Job Are Nicer Than the Nice Ladies at Your Job: So, my birthday was last weekend. A couple weeks ago, a co-worker suggested doing something for it and even though I told her not to, she made it clear that she’d plan something anyway. She kept asking me what kind of cake I liked. I half jokingly told her I didn’t want any cake, I’d prefer pasta! Sure enuff, this Wednesday she brought sandwiches and pasta for everyone. This is the same woman who made me pork chops last year and who periodically brings spinach dip for the office. The running joke in the office is that if she ever dumps her husband, she’s going to marry me. Another woman brought me a black birthday balloon. All we needed was either a circus motif or a bit more existentialism and it could’ve been a Fellini film…

Dreaming Is Free: So, I know I’m feeling better about things because I’m starting to have weird dreams again. When I’m depressed, I either don’t dream or I don’t remember my dreams. When I’m in a good mood, I remember the goofiest details of my dreams. Hence, Jennifer Aniston invading my sub consciousness. In the dream it’s the middle of the night and I’m trying to catch the El in Chicago. The El looks like it’s from the 40’s and in dis-repair. It’s literally about to fall apart.  Some guys I kinda half know come along and we decide to go to their apartment and chill. Jennifer is there and we all watch TV and hang out. One by one the other guys gradually leave the room and me and Jennifer get “romantic”. When they come back I think, “Hmm…these are Jen’s guy friend, I wonder if she had them set this up?” Please understand that while I think Jennifer is an attractive woman, I’m not a super-fan or anything. I don’t go to see her movies and I haven’t watched Friends in years.  Yet here she is getting her buddies to set me up with her…

AGGHH! FUGGIN’ COMPUTERS!! IT SAVED HALF MY DRAFT AND THE REST WAS EATEN UP BY CYBER SPACE! Anyway…

This was a pretty interesting story regarding ageism in advertising  http://www.cbc.ca/ageofpersuasion/episode/season-5/2011/05/28/season-five-ageism-in-advertising-1/

Secret Avengers #12.1: I know, I know…the ” Point 1″ initiative is Marvel’s marketing dept bending over the fans. But at least Nick Spencer’s a gentle lover and he brought some stimulating lube ( er, I know…disturbing metaphor, let’s move on).  I really like the cover by Mike Deodato. I kinda think it’s funny that Hank McCoy’s face is the only one that’s detailed, but I guess if it weren’t, he’d be a shadow under Steve Roger’s armpit. Readers might wonder who’s legs are behind Steve. Comics Alliance ( I think) did a snarky review calling it Capt America vs Wicki-Links, but that’s not far off. A person dressed in the old US Agent’s costume leaks government secrets in the name of justice, but the information will put the lives of many  govt double agents at risk, so Steve and the gang have to bring him down. The story does work as a stand alone issue and manages to touch on currents events in the news that I don’t think will be too dated a few years from now.

Secret Avengers #13: Wow, I’m going to miss Nick Spencer when he leaves this book. This is a very well crafted story that ties into Fear Itself . The Beast tries to save an old friend who’s holed up at the Senate while Washington DC is under attack. This story is able to combine current Marvel continuity, civil rights, superhero action, AND still work as an entertaining  stand alone story. Nice art from Scot Eaton too ( although he draws cat-Beast). Boy, do I wish more superhero comics were this good.

Batman Inc #6: I’m still having fun with this title. In this issue we get a further explanation of Bruce’s idea for the Batman Inc concept that almost makes sense. We also learn a little more about the threat that Bruce is assembling his Bat-Army to fight. Complex, yet breezy and fun,,,this title makes me wish I could be a comic book writer.

Astonishing X-Men #37: A straight forward tale about the X-men fighting a giant monster in Tokyo while Armor attends a family funeral. I mostly bought it for the Jason Pearson and Sara Pichelli art. Heavy, detailed, cartoony, and energetic all at the same time…I really enjoyed the visuals. I might hunt down the previous issues. The thing I didn’t like…this issue ends on a cliff hanger, yet the next issue starts a new story with other members of the cast and a different creative team! Wha?

A Political Song For Michael Jackson to Sing: I was listening to a radio interview with Mike Watt, bassist of the legendary punk band the Minute Men. The part that stuck in my mind was when the guys ask Mike about the jazz influence in the band’s sound. Mike says something like, “We never knew about jazz when we were kids, so when we heard it, at first we thought they were like punk guys who were old. We didn’t realize that Coltrane had died years ago and that this music was done in the 50’s.”  Check it out if yer so inclined here, I think…http://www.soundopinions.org/

Gil Scott Heron passed away. Sometimes I wonder if the revolution WAS televised, but we were all too busy to realize that it got co-opted.

Non-Sequitur #26:On The Wings of Maybe

Big Barda wanted to call her memoirs of life on Apokolips Hammer of the Gods, but the name was taken.

I’ve been seeing more police  walking around the streets lately. I’m sure it’s because the weather has finally gotten warm and in this town when the weather gets hot, the violent crime rate goes up. Its going to be a cruel summer. Hey! “Cruel Summer!” Remember that song? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGYNvx9lqDQ

So, I heard this radio documentry on National Public Radio a little while ago called Heartbreakers. It was about an all female Led Zeppelin cover band named Lez Zeppelin. Interesting and moving, it explored the passion these women had for the music and the dedication they had for their craft. Other interesting aspects included the reminisces of the father of one of the band members and the bond he shared with his his daughter over Zep and also the generational quandary for for many people who like Zeppelin and this is the closet they can ever come to seeing them live. I’m not the greatest Led Zeppelin fan in the world, but I really enjoyed this radio story. If you’re a Zep fan, of course it’s right up your alley and if you’re not, you might still find the family bond aspect interesting and the ladies determination inspiring. http://www.fallingtree.co.uk/audio_gallery/heartbreakers_the_story_of_all_girl_zep

The Black Swan: I admit it…sometimes I’m a middle brow jerk. I was skeptical when I started started watching this psychological drama about a ballet dancer getting in touch with her dark side in order to play a coveted part in an upcoming production. At first I  was like, “What’s the big deal with this film?” There was a little too much, “I’m pretty and fragile,oh the pain!” But by the second half, I was sold. Natalie’s breakdown, Mila’s taunts, and Darren’s camera work and visual effects had me totally engaged. The film is gripping and visually stirring.

Secret Avengers #12: Ed Brubaker’s final story with art by Will Conrad and Mike Deodato. We learn how John Steele was brain washed/possessed by the bad guys. This issue functions as a cap to Brubaker’s run and also seems to solidify The Shadow Council as ongoing villains for the series. Seems like they’ll be antagonist for the Secret Avengers much in the same way Corba is for G.I. Joe or Hydra is for Cap America and SHIELD, the underground group that pops up periodically to cause trouble. This issue was not bad, not good, just sorta there.

Batman Inc #5: I’m still having fun  with this title. Batman and El Gaucho meet the modern day Batwoman and Hood. It also ties in with 50’s Batwoman ( I know, I know…I’m still gonna call her 50’s Batwoman). This issue gives a resolution but it also provides set up for future grand conspiracies. So far, I’m in.  This series isn’t dark and stormy night Batman, it’s gadgets, hideouts, and super-villain secrets Batman…there ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that.

The New York Five #4: This is the end if the mini-series. I’m not sure if I should do a full review of the entire story or not. We do get sorta resolutions to the various girls’s immediate situations, but we’re left with many possibilities for future storylines. It just SO  feels like the pilot for a TV show.

That’s all I got for now. Take it easy

Non-Sequitur #24: Feeling Brand New, I Jumped Up

The sun came out! The sun came out! Yea! It's sunny outside!

The sun finally came out this past weekend and I couldn’t be happier! Sunshine! Damn near three weeks straight of  day after day after day of gray cloudy skies. I was damn near ready to slit my wrists! Ok, not really and that’s probably not something to joke about, but I have been pretty down recently for a variety of personal reasons and the cold dreary climate didn’t help my out look. When I was younger I used to scoff at the idea of people’s moods being affected by constant gloomy weather, but now I know there’s definitely something to it. Heck… I know ultimately we all die alone in a cruel unfair universe, but right now  I’m groovin’ on the ladies in their skirts and open toe shoes! The sun came out! Yea!

The other day I turned the corner to walk into my building and I was hit by a pungent and familiar oder. I thought, “Where the F*CK  is this weed smell coming from?!” I looked half a block down and saw a young man walking with his girl friend who was carrying laundry. A puff a smoke  floated around his head. I remember thinking “I hope a cop hits him in the head.” Not cuz I’m anti-weed or anything, but because I couldn’t believe he’d be so stupid to be smoking a blunt walking down the middle of the street like that. If you want to do your thing, go home or find some secluded area, ok? Look, I get it…I know what it’s like to be young and arrogant, “See, I’m so bad-ass I smoke my sh*t right in the open! I don’t give f*ck! Acknowledge my coolness!”  I just feel like, dude…please get a clue.

This past Saturday I walked past the Daley Center in Chicago. I saw a gospel group having a  sound-check. It looked like it was for some sort of pro-union rally that was going to be happening later on.  Aside from the teenagers on the stage, there didn’t seem to be too many young people there. Most of the crowd seemed to be middle-aged. I’m not sure if this says anything about how people in their twenties feel about unions these days. Hell, I was there early, they could have showed up later. I just thought the demographic was interesting at the time.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7XiFMa0iDw

One of my favorite David Bowie songs is Life On Mars. About three days ago I found out that Barbara Streisand did a cover of it back in the 70’s. And I can’t even get snarky about it cuz you know what? It’s not terrible and in a strange way it makes perfect sense that Babs would sing this song seeing as Bowie wrote it as kind of a response to My Way which has been done by a multitude of old style crooners. Here it is.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rtL73TSHxM Stop being a hipster and just listen to it.

Avengers, The Children’s Crusade #5: First of all, this comic is really Young Avengers.  It’s probably called Avengers:Sub-Title for marketing reasons, but whatever. The plot is about Wiccan and Speed trying to find the Scarlet Witch and discover if she’s in fact their mother. The other Young Avengers join the adventure to support their teammates and the emotional weight of the story centers on the young heroes. The adult New Avengers just kinda guest star. This issue features the return of Iron Lad. Iron Lad takes the team back in time to the start of “Avengers Disassembled” and things get kinda hairy. Well written, great characterization, and lovely, lovely art. The story by Heinberg is driven by dialogue and almost none of it seems unnecessary. The art is by Jim Cheung. Did I happen to mention I think it’s lovely?

Batman Inc #4: Not an all time great issue, but very interesting. There’s a guest appearance by the new Batwoman and fun flashback of the pre-crisis Batwoman. Somehow this ties into Batman’s current adventure in South America with Gaucho. Grant Morrison’s greatest strength? Being able to include all the camp stuff in a way that doesn’t make Batman look like a clown and being able to portray modern Batman in a manner that doesn’t make him seem like a paranoid control freak. I’m intrigued enough to pick up the next issue.

Ultimate Captain America #4: Ultimate Captain America is an asshole. I’m sorry, but that’s they way his personality is written and I don’t think he’s a “cool” asshole or an “edgy” asshole or a “necessary evil” asshole or an “interesting character study” asshole. He’s just some kinda fuggin’ ASSHOLE. I want 616 Steve Rogers to go to the Ultimate Universe and back hand this guy and put him in check. On a positive  note, I really enjoy the Ron Garney art. Just enough of old school  bronze age storytelling to give a dramatic and cinematic feel to the tale. Really great visuals. Too bad the protagonist is a JERK.

This song makes me feel good

Non-Sequitur #21: C’mon Out And Dance

This picture of Death is related to St Patrick's Day because,uh...it was drawn by Steve Rude and uh, there's lots of Irish people named Steve? Uh...ok,fine! I just like the way it looks.

Random People Dressed For St Paddy’s Day: A white guy and his black girlfriend. A Hispanic couple. An African-American mother and her son at the comic book store. A guy on the subway who looked middle-eastern. Another guy on the same train telling his friends that he got his green tuxedo t-shirt in Boystown ( an upscale gay neighborhood in Chicago). He said this without any hint of self consciousness, cuz he obviously had no problem being a straight guy buying clothes in a gay environment. Days like this make me think, “Wow, I live in one of the most diverse cities in the country. Things don’t have to be so tense all the time.”  Of course I know we’re also one of the most segregated cities in America. And I know eventually something will happen to make me think, “Gawd! What  A-Holes some people are!” But this morning, the world was chill.

Our Muzak Is Cooler Than Your Muzak: Ok, so at my job recently they started playing music over the PA in the halls between the offices. I’m pretty sure this is the music you’d hear if you called  my job and asked to speak to the owner and got put on hold. Most of it is what you probably expect, lite-rock  music. Elton John, Lionel Richie, John Mayer,  soft rock hits from the 70’s-80’s etc. What’s interesting is the ample seasoning of AOR (that’s album oriented rock to you kids) that made it into the programming. I was pleasantly surprised to hear David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” on a trip to the bathroom one day. The other day I heard Lynyrd Skynyrd (!) “That Smell” and later a track from the Who’s Quadrophenia album. I don’t have a problem with any of this music, it’s just that I never thought I’d be working at a desk job where the safe for work “muzak” would include hard rock classics. If on the way to look for paper for the copy machine I hear Ted Nugent or Black Sabbath next, I think my head will explode.

So how did I celebrate St Paddy’s Day weekend? Um, I wore my winter coat which is army green? No? I went to Oak Park which is a suburb of Chicago. I took the Green-line train? Eh? I bought a double cheese burger and some fries. I paid cash, that’s green money? Huh? Good enuff, no? FINE, here’s some friggin’ comics…

Power Girl #4: This comic came out in 2009, but I’m just now getting around to it. It’s a fun one and done story written by Justin gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Amanda Conner.Peej and Terra go out to the movies and have to stop a witch who wants monsters to destroy the city in order to save the environment. The story is mostly humorous with just enough action to remind you that you’re reading a superhero comic and just enough sub-plot to get you curious about further issues. The thing that makes this comic work however is Conner’s art. The way she depicts facial expressions really carry a lot of the humor. Also, I really appreciate the way Conner draws Power Girl. Kara is  busty, but she’s athletic looking as well. She looks like a woman who could give you a hard time in a fight as opposed to a girl with a boob-job. One drawback, I don’t think the new Terra’s name is actually mentioned in this issue.

Godland #34: I guess we’re coming to the end of the series. The story is by Joe Casey and the art is from Tom Scioli and a bunch of way out cosmic stuff happens that I don’t think I can begin to explain. The sun has been replaced by god knows what. The hero is on the other side of the galaxy and has to get back home. Bad guys are turning on each other while mice dressed like Superman and Clark Kent are under foot. There’s enormous space stations and viking space giants floating around and cosmic beings just…being cosmic. The series has mostly been a tribute to bronze age science fiction-y comics in general and Jack Kirby in particular, but with enough of Casey’s personality  and other underground sensibilities that it doesn’t come off as a just an imitation of “the king’s” work.

Batman Inc #3: Cool. A Batman comic where he doesn’t act like a control freak jerk. Bats goes to Argentina to recruit El Gaucho to join his group of international Batmen and gets involved in a plot concerning arms dealers and missing children. Story by Grant Morrison. Pencils by Yanick Paquette. Inks mostly by Michel Lacombe. This comic is breezy and action packed. Very nice detailed art from Paquette. He shows a real knowledge of bodies, form, composition, and storytelling.

Van Morrison is Irish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjs1mm5vngc

So’s John Lydon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylOCIP54PIQ

Oh…before I sat down to write this column, I went to the liquor store to get some beer. On the way, I walked past a few drunk muscle bound frat-boy type guys. One of them said to me, “You going the wrong way, old man?” I said, “I’m going the right way,”  and kept walking. In the distance, I heard something like “come back and I’ll show you something.” I couldn’t make it a whole 24 hours without some jerk bursting my  St Paddy’s Day brotherhood of man bubble.

Non-Sequitur #17: I Come From The Land of Ice and Snow

Chicago Blizzard, I think this pic is from 1967.

It’s snowing right now! Big mid-west blizzard watch, baby! It’s harsh so get the eff out the way!

So, I go to work today and the power is out. The snow hasn’t even begun and the power is out. Pretty obvious omen, or not. A  guy gave me..Whoa! What was that? That was thunder right as I type this blog! The gods are angry…a guy gave me a lantern so I could go to the restroom. And yes, I did resist the urge to do the Green Lantern oath while no one else was around. The supervisor told us to sit tight. Most of the other workers went to one of the conference rooms that had big windows, so they wouldn’t have to sit in the dark. I stayed at my desk and took a nap for a half an hour. The power came back on and we all had to change seats and restart everything. Of Course, my phone jack wouldn’t  work  so I had to stretch the cord to the  jack next to me. Then my computer had to re-install software which took what seemed like another 15 minutes. Then I couldn’t get to the program I needed to be at and the supervisor who seemed already stressed out had to give me a new URL. Supervisor told us some new rules regarding procedures which I immediately forgot as I was doing what she told us we had to change (I’m old, lemme alone). Despite all this, I think I got a substantial amount of work done. AND they bought us coffee and donuts! Eff, yeah!

Random Chicago Politics: Carol Moseley Braun snaps on someone…again. First she tries to grill Rahm Emmanuel on whether or not he told someone from the NRA to “take take the tampon out of your mouth” and “let’s talk tampons”, now she just told a minor rival, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, “You didn’t know where I was  for the last 20yrs is because you were strung out on  crack.” Carol, Carol, Carol…

Random Food Item: There’s a civil suit against Taco Bell stating that their Ha! Was that lightning? It ain’t nuthin’ nice outside…stating that their beef is only 35% meat. Taco Bell counters that their meat product is 88% meat and the rest is water and seasoning. I dunno…as someone who’s eaten their soft tacos, that 35% claim is believable to me.

Random Educational Item: Best Of Our Knowledge  on NPR recently did a show on graphic novels. I’m not sure they really gave any understanding on what graphic novels are or what are some books you should pick up, however…the show did feature some interesting segments. There’s an interview with Jules Fieffer, an overview of Will Eisner’s work, and and interview with R, Crumb and his daughter Sophie. http://www.wpr.org/book/110130a.cfm

Some comics I got, but didn’t read over the weekend…

Detective Comics #872: I really like the cover. It’s  a close up of Batman in a gas mask and there’s a reflection of a hand holding a raised crowbar. If you know the history of Batman, it’s really powerful. If you don’t it’s still cool and slick looking. As a visual, it’s moody, dark , and intriguing…it makes the viewer wonder what’s going on. I also like the story. It concerns this Batman (Dick Grayson) investigating a circle of rich ghouls who bid  on crime artifacts. It’s suspenseful and makes me want to pick up the next issue. Minor nic-pick…a not nice guy dies and Dick and Babs cover it up and commit cyber-identity fraud. I know the man was a bad guy, but they still broke the law. It’s still a good story, I’m just saying…

Secret Avengers #9: Steve Rogers! Shang Chi! John Steele! Fist fight on a rooftop! Action!! Suspense! I can’t wait to see the end of this story. The back pages promote Marvel’s Point One Initiative where they force fans to buy an EXTRA  issue, but pretend they’re giving you a break cuz the .01 issue is lower priced. Effers! I actually buy SA every month! Why are you effing with me?

The New York Five #1: The story of five college age young women who uh, live in New York. Interesting set up and I like that the art is in black and white. It reminds me of the indie/alternative comics I read back in the 90’s. It’s a weird thing to say, but I feel the story would have had more impact if Ryan Kelly’s art was just a little bit… “rawer’? It’s not bad, it just seems to me maybe almost too slick for the story. Minor nit-picks: Riley thinks her sister’s band is the best…I think it would be funny if either the narrative or another character would state that they really aren’t that good a’la  Hopey’s band from Love and Rocket’s. Also, Lona’s behavior is supposed to be odd and quirky? It’s criminal and stalker-ish. I’d call the cops! I hope this is dealt with in realistic manner. On the other hand, I’m in… I hope Vertgo doesn’t go under cuz this is the sort of thing that has the potential to reach a wider audience.

Now I..Hey, it stopped for moment.Should I go out and maybe get some beer? Maybe I’ll just go  to bedanyway, Metallica and stuff…


oh, I hear more thunder