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Sunday, October 31, 2004

"Dass Not Yo' Cheese!"

My Saturday night Halloween celebration was pretty uneventful due to a pitifully low budget, but I had a lady friend over and we went to the Mezcal's Mexican restaurant on the corner for some appetizers before we settled in for an evening of horror flicks (for the record: the flicks turned out to be LEMORA-A CHILD'S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL and KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, which features the infamous scene with a Chinese wizard being defeated by brothel workers who bombard him with antique feminine napkins and a vat of menstrual waste).

We both ordered nacho dishes which varied only slightly — hers being topped with chicken and mine with chorizo — and cost $6.95 each. For that price we received plates that each had exactly six tarted-up nachos. SIX FUCKING NACHOS?!!? An entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos costs maybe $2.49 at the most, for fuck's sake! Further proof of how badly the restaurants in my neighborhood suck hairy Bea Arthur balls and are now catering to the neuveau riche who are fucking up Park Slope on a slowly escalting basis.

I asked my lady friend if it was just me, or was the meal a shameless ripoff, and she gave me an unequivocal "Yes;" including both of our meager orders and a diet Coke for her, the bill came to $20 with the tip figured in. Needless to say, I will not go to that fucking clip joint again, and will continue my happily-provided patronage of the mighty Taco Bell ("It Makes yer doody smell!").

Saturday, October 30, 2004


So I got roped into doing the cooking of a plethora of oven ribs for a friend’s Election Night fundraiser. The friend in question is one of a group of political activists/performance artists who go by the nom de guerre “The Missile Dick Chicks,” a cadre of women who dress up in star-spangled outfits, neon-colored wigs of utterly unnatural hues, and phallic three-foot missiles turgidly strapped over their girl-parts. They journeyed across the country during campaign season, crashing rallies for George Dubya in character as drawling alleged supporters while ruining every possible Republican photo-op by inserting themselves into frame, intercontinental ballistic cocks standing at attention. Not surprisingly during this economy, such a junket is not cheap, so the chicks are throwing a fundraiser to recoup their travel expenses.

As you all know, I live to cook and my friend Beth — a Missile-Dicker — has eaten enough of my cooking to know what she likes. She emailed me with a request that I cook ribs for her fundraiser and I said yes, not realizing that the initial projected turnout for the event would be somewhere around three-hundred people. We eventually hashed out all of the details and she has figured that we’re looking at around eighty to one-hundred folks, max, so I picked up the budget of $180 from her and set to work. That figure includes the necessary amount of ribs (which ain’t cheap), the components of marinades and spice rubs, baking pans and other practical items needed for this culinary process. When all is finally said and done, any leftover cash goes back to the Missile-Dick Chicks.

Yesterday I went to the local Hispanic meat market — the excellent and accomodating Jany’s — and pre-ordered as many ribs as I could get for $80, cash up front, to be picked up by me today. I went in late this afternoon and discovered that $80 got me thirty-one pounds worth of full rib racks, which worked out to being seven fucking huge slabs of Fred Flintstone-looking pork. I schlepped the box of meat back to my apartment and did the individual rib butchery myself as a cost-cutting measure while listening to the CD of the Devo concert that I attended during the summer, a minor chore that took about a half hour. I then packed each separated rack into its own Ziploc freezer bag along with a healthy dose of rancho sazon and yellow-but-mellow Dominican pepper sauce, and filled each bag with approximately twenty ounces of Budweiser beer. Those bags were then each sealed and placed within another bag to avoid any possible beer leakage, shaken to distribute the seasonings, and finally relegated to the bottom two levels of my fridge for the next twenty-four hours. Tomorrow I’ll go to step two and add spices and a dash of liquid smoke.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Of late my dreams have become much more lucid than usual and pretty bizarre to boot, last night’s offering from Morpheus being a good case in point.

I found myself wandering a more pleasant dreamscape than the one I usually find myself in, this one exuding a feeling of comfort and welcome, and I was greeted by a friendly gaggle of nude, voluptuous women with golden brown tans and adorned with wreaths of gaily-colored flowers. They informed me that they were the handmaidens of a goddess and that their mistress had heard about my great enjoyment in orally pleasuring females (yes, you know what I mean). They lead me through a fantastically foliated grove festooned with suggestive-looking roses and other such flora to their goddess, a woman whose aspect changed constantly to reflect every possible delectable variation of what appeals to me regarding the feminine. She welcomed me with open arms and smothered me with torrid-yet-tender kisses.

As the lovemaking became heated, the nameless deity directed my attentions south toward her most intimate bits and I began to tease and nuzzle her center. During these ministrations I could see quite plainly that as she became more and more aroused she began to slowly grow as she lost conscious control of the human proportions worn to make her more physically accessible to me. Undaunted, I surrendered myself to her vast femaleness and was happily engulfed within her humid confines. Her warmth and sweetness became my entire world and I was willingly lost inside of her.

When I awoke I found that I was covered from head to toe in sweat, and thankfully not other fluids I could name. The heat in my apartment had obviously come on during the night with a vengeance, and as I had slept beneath two very heavy comforters it was inevitable that I would awaken in a steamy state; too bad that I was alone. When next I dream I hope to run into that goddess again, and this time I’ll get her name and number!

Monday, October 25, 2004


It is now 4:52 AM and things are finally quiet. For the past few days the small invaders had kept a very low profile, leaving no trace of themselves except for the occasional skittering noise and "presents." Then this morning happened and at around 4:25 I was awakened by some of the loudest squeaking I've ever heard.

I got out of bed, got dressed in anticipation of another pre-dawn disposal and checked all of my current traps. Of course once the lights came on the noise stopped, and I was perplexed to see that the traps were unoccupied. I looked them over thoroughly and figured that the mouse had escaped, so I went back to bed. About five minutes passed before the distinctive "I am trapped" screeching resumed and then I recalled that there may have been a trap left under my stove. Sure enough, I pulled back the stove and found not one, but TWO mice caught on the same sticky platform. In a trice they were bagged and added to the morning's garbage, soon to be hauled away by the city's sanitation officers.

As near as I can figure, including today's pair I have caught around nine mice in the past week. As an old cartoon character once said, "Enough is too much." My project for this week is to take everything off of three large bookcases, move them, gain access to the harder to reach areas of my apartment and hopefully locate the point of entry for the mice. Once found, I will plug the hole with soaped steel wool, seal it over with duct tape and block that over with something solid and heavy. Then I'll call in Father Merrin to perform an exorcism. I've absolutely had it with the little bastards and this verminous guerilla warfare simply must come to a decisive end.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


I was over on Court Street here in Brooklyn, awaiting the B63 bus and minding my own business. Among the usual assortment of human dregs at the bus stop was an annoying little girl of perhaps eight years of age who was doing everything in her power to get attention from anyone who would give it. She held a plastic army man in her hands and would throw it into the air, and when it hit the ground she would pick it up, run to total strangers and scream "Look! Something from space! Look! Something from space!" The bystanders politely tolerated her while her mother barely looked up from her copy of PEOPLE magazine to wearily offer "Anna-Maria, please sit still" with no success whatsoever. The kid then ran circles around the bus stop, often bumping into the people standing there with no concern for them at all.

Finally the bus arrived and everyone boarded. Lucky me, I got stuck behind the girl and her family, none of whom seemed to have the slightest clue how to use a Metrocard, and their mother hadn't fished out the change for her fare so she retreated into the back of the bus to gather enough coins from her purse. As the bus started, the mother dropped her change and began to root about on the floor in search of it, at one point reaching between my legs without so much as an "excuse me." While this was going on, her daughter decided to launch into a shrill version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," perhaps the most diabolical example of Christmas music since it is not only repetitive as all hell, it is also incredibly long. Anna-Maria's quest for attention now became sheer torture as the passengers were trapped listening to her until their stops came up. She performed the song IN ITS ENTIRETY and I nearly went mad; Christmas isn't for another two whole months and it was bad enough to have to endure that song pre-season, but as the song progressed Anna-Maria got louder and louder with not one word from her mother. Worse, the passengers, though clearly just as peeved as I was, politley smiled at the horrid little urchin.

In a vain attempt at self-defense I plugged my ears for much of the journey and only removed my forefingers from my poor aural receptors when I heard the kid finish the interminable ditty. With "The Twelve Days of Christmas" now stuck in my head I attempted to settle in for the rest of the ride but solace was not to be mine; Anna-Maria opened her pie hole and began to shriek the accursed "Jingle Bells." At that point I almost got off the bus despite the fact that my stop was still more than ten blocks away. I briefly contemplated screaming "Oh, will you please SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!," but I stuck it out until the Union Street sign was in sight. Fittingly, the rear doors of the bus opened and I stepped out onto a fresh pile of garbage awaiting the next morning's pickup.

And to think I still have more than two months to go until this festive shit comes to a grinding halt... Must...stay...strong...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

INFRA-MAN (1975)

Each year when Halloween rolls around we rush to the local video store in search of scary movies that will give us the required seasonal chills. HALLOWEEN, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (chainsaw is two words, not one, in the title); each a classic that has stood the test of time, but not really something you can share with your little ones yet. For the little ones — and the big ones who can appreciate it — allow me to steer you toward a movie you may never have heard of. Reader, say “hello” to INFRA MAN.

Released in China in 1975 and hitting these shores the following year, INFRA MAN is among the most demented spawn of the venerable Shaw Brothers studio, a company beloved worldwide as the quintessential purveyor of old school kung fu films. Ripping off, er, influenced by the classic Japanese super-hero show ULTRAMAN (1966), this film is more fun than a weekend with Lynda Carter where she brings the cocoa butter and ties you up with the Lasso of Truth. Universally loved by those who have seen it, INFRA MAN is even championed by no less a film criticism luminary than Roger Ebert himself, and he loves it for exactly the same reasons as us Joe Sixpacks in the audience. This is a movie replete with what fans of super-heroes, monsters and virtually nonstop action look for in their entertainment, namely fists-a-flyin’ martial arts, an army of monsters who are not only hell-bent on conquering the world but also blatantly enjoy being evil, one of the most memorable villainesses in cinema history, ridiculous dialogue aided and abetted by terrible dubbing, and a super-hero who takes the fight to the bad guys like you’ve never seen. In its entire eighty-eight-minute running time there are perhaps five slow minutes and rest is a semi-psychedelic festival of in-your-face crazy fun.

The story gets off to a slow start with the Earth bursting open all over the place, causing earthquakes, collapsing buildings, spewing lava and incidentally reviving an ancient evil that has lain dormant since time immemorial. Said evil is Princess Dragon Mom — yes, you read that right — a blonde Asian woman played by Terry Liu in a horned helmet, a pointy, gold Madonna-style bra, a cute little pink bow around her neck incase you couldn't tell she's a girl, matching dragon-headed platform boots a la Gene Simmons, and a right hand that doubles as a whip. Broadcasting an address to the entire world she announces:

“Greetings, people of Earth. I am Princess Dragon Mom. The destruction you see is but a small sample of my great power! I have taken over the earth and there is nothing you can do about it! You will be my slaves for all eternity! I have spoken, and that’s all the warning you are going to get!”

And she MEANT that shit!

We are then introduced to the Princess’ bargain basement monster army, an ultra-phony lot who look like the bastard children of Gwar and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, only with less of a budget. They cheerfully joke and boast among themselves about just how they will destroy mankind and beg the Princess to let them loose immediately to kick some human ass; these guys ain’t kidding, and they jump about hyperactively in anticipation of doling out world-class nastiness.

Luckily for us, Professor Chang of the Science Patrol (a bunch of guys in cheap silver and blue jumpsuits who ride around on motorcycles a lot) has figured out that Princess Dragon Mom is a creature from antiquity who ruled the world in the distant past (this information is prefaced with the statement that nothing is known about her, so go figure), and he has just the solution to the problem: Infra man, the “Man Beyond Bionics,” as the movie’s poster so kindly informs us.

Recruiting the Science Patrol’s resident bohunk Rayma (Li Hsui-Hsien) for cyborg conversion, the professor gifts him with an incredible arsenal of built-in weaponry such as ray beams, “Infra Blades,” heat missiles, “Thunderball fists which can destroy everything,” super-senses and strength, and enough kung fu skills to make Bruce Lee say “Damn!”

Upon being fully transformed, Infra Man’s super-hearing detects monsters on the attack and he immediately flies through the roof to enter the fray. When he lands, people point and shout “That’s Infra Man there!” despite the fact that up to this point he has never made an appearance anywhere, and from that point on the movie is a nonstop foot-to-ass orgy of insanely-cackling monsters getting trounced with extreme prejudice by our hero.

Among other insane moments, one of the film’s highlights is Infra Man’s battle with the ranting Spider-Man (no relation), who suddenly shoots up to two-hundred-feet tall when he realizes he’s losing the fight. Infra Man ain’t having it, and in a stunning example of a hero pulling powers out of his ass he too becomes a giant and beats the living crap out of Spider-Man (or rather the empty foam rubber suit of Spider-Man). After getting hurled into high voltage power lines, the monster shrinks back to normal size and the towering Infra Man steps on him like the bug that he is, causing cartoonish gore to spew with appropriate flatulent sound effects.

The rest of the film builds to a dizzying crescendo as our hero storms Princess Dragon Mom’s lair, hands out explosive death to her remaining army of monsters and robots, and finally engages the Princess in mortal combat after she turns into a seemingly unkillable dragon.

Folks, this flick is a stone hoot, and will delight kids and drunks everywhere. Finally available in a gorgeous remastered DVD transfer — in fucking letterbox, no less!!! — you owe it to yourself and other like-minded loonies to see INFRA MAN. It ain’t high art, but it is one of the most entertaining movies ever made.


This story was recounted to me years ago by my buddy Paul Becton and I just had to share it with you:

"When my father and his brother were little kids they used to get harassed by this annoying old lady who lived in the neighborhood and just loved to get into their business. She'd see them on their way home from running errands for my grandmother and she'd call them over, saying 'Whatchoo boys got in that bag? Lemme see!' Since they were kids and they were taught that they had to obey their elders they had no choice but to comply with the old bitch's request to let her inspect their bag. She never took anything but I guess she just got off on fucking with two kids.

"Anyway, one day they had enough of that bullshit so my dad and my uncle each took a big shit into a bag and as per their routine walked past the old bitch's house. Sure enough, there came the familiar croak of 'Whatchoo boys got in that bag? Lemme see!' The boys handed over the bag and ran like hell. My father said that when the old crow told my grandparents what they had done, he and my uncle got a major ass-whuppin' that night, but it was worth it and that old bat never fucked with them again!"


Anyone who has known me for a good bit of time can tell you that all of my life I have been a certified sports bigot. I never saw much point to team competition for goals that essentially mean nothing and was constantly irritated by the inordinate amount of time and energy that most people invested in professional sporting events and the near-deification of overpaid anti-intellectuals. These events seemed to bring out the worst in their booze-driven audience and televised sports were given vast amounts of air time which was truly torturous to those of us who it foisted upon us against our will. Hence I became the "weird kid" who had no interest in such societally enforced frivolities, the failure-as-all-American-boy who preferred to draw, work with clay or immerse himself in books. It further rankled that my interest in more creative endeavors was frowned upon in favor of memorizing pointless team statistics and chanting "Defense! Defense!" so my deep hatred of sports, the sports industry and its fans festered for nearly four decades. Yet having lived in the New York City area for the past fourteen years, much of that time in Brooklyn, I have spent a great deal of time observing the fascinating dynamic of the New York sports fan's psyche, specifically that of the Yankees fan.

Holding responsible two of the people whom I hold most dear — brother- since-college Steve Hughes, and relatively recent pal Gemma Barriteau, both natives of the Five Boroughs — I have not only grasped an understanding of the intricacies, nuances and artistry of the game of baseball, but I have also embraced the tribal mindset that defines this great city. Native New Yorkers are a uniquely tough and spirited breed who excel at many things, but nothing exceeds their sense of pride in where they come from and their limitless ability to bitch and moan about everything under the sun. Those traits when coupled with their blood-level support of their chosen baseball team —the Yankees or the Mets, of whom I will no longer bother to speak — form a primal and powerful group mind that is simply impossible to describe to an outsider, and must be experienced to be both understood and appreciated. Having grown up in the boring confines of Connecticut I never felt pride in where I came from, but I take great pride in being a Brooklynite since I actually feel for the ethnically and culturally diverse inhabitants of NYC. That sense of belonging has allowed me to become more open to many things in the past fourteen years and in the process I have seen many of my deep-seated prejudices kicked to the curb.

My interest in the Yankees began to kindle during my too-brief time living with Patrick Canavan on Manhattan's Upper West Side during the early 1990's. Patrick grew up in the wilds of the Bronx with Steve Hughes and the two shared a fervent reverence for the Yankees since they were barely weaned from their mothers' bosoms, but I didn't notice Patrick's Yankees jones as much as I got to witness his doomed infatuation with the New York Knicks basketball team. What little Yankees chest-thumping I witnessed in our apartment amused me greatly and I stealthily paid attention as Patrick and Hughes bounced off the walls and cursed rampantly, never once letting anyone see through my facade of the disinterested scholar who felt that he was above such things. Here were two highly intelligent human beings who by that point I had known for nearly ten years whooping and hollering like utter lunatics, and they were having the time of their lives enjoying a spectacle that I equated with a stiff dose of syrup of ipecac. Surely this bore further observation...

As the years passed and my living situation changed a few times I casually observed the Yankees phenomenon via the news media rather than firsthand in-the-field study of the wild Canavan and Hughes. The immediacy of fan involvement was gone, but now I could approach my study from a more clinical angle, a standpoint with which I was much more comfortable and able to wrap my head around. The names of the players and administrators took on meaning outside of the bread-and-circuses entertainment, and the lore of the team began to seep into my mind with the same resonance of tales of ancient warriors and the campaigns that they waged against implacable foes. If I could find myself as emotionally invested in the minutia of sixty-some-odd years of the rich tapestry that is the mythology of American super-heroes then why not try and immerse myself into one of the cornerstones of my adoptive city's culture?

The next step in my journey was facilitated by the influence of Gemma Barriteau, the high priestess of Yankees goons; when I first got to know her I was firmly convinced that if she caught you looking the wrong way at a Yankees emblem she would put her fist through your face, and as a result I thought that she was borderline insane. She entered my life when she started dating my friend Lanei and we took an instant liking to each other, despite my intention to get in her face if I deemed her unworthy of Lanei’s heart. During her time living near me in Brooklyn I was caught up in her force-of-nature devotion to the Yankees and willingly watched games with her and some of our other friends, but none of the other watchers’ enthusiasm and outright bloodlust rubbed off on me like Gemma’s. When riled up by the proceedings of any given game, Gemma’s Queens accent lets fly in all of its profane glory, crafting epic poetry from venomous epithets and keeping alive the classic New York character that is the ready-to-explode baseball believer. The experience of the fervent waves of energy emanating from this crazed, green-eyed black woman is simply not capturable in writing, and it was this Force-like quasi-religious devotion that passed the spirit of the Yankees on to me.

Yet important though Gemma’s influence was and continues to be, my true baseball sensei is Steve Hughes. His contribution to my sway toward the Dark Side is beyond calculation, and during many shared hours of our mutual unemployment I watched many, many Yankees set-tos with him, and when he wasn’t doing the St. Vitas Dance of team loyalty he explained the Byzantine rules and history of the game to me in a far more personal and effective way than any self-started researching ever could. He patiently listened to my many questions on the vagaries of what constitutes a “walk” and how to distinguish what “RBI’s” and such things are, points that are obvious to those bred into this stuff but as obscure as a Noh play performed in Sanskrit to those attempting to grasp it after years of blind hatred and bigotry. Now I am able to hold my own when discussing these things with long-time aficionados, and I am genuinely shocked on a daily basis by how into this rigmarole an egghead such as I have found myself.

Every group of heroes is measured by their opposing villains, and the Yankees have a downright mythological feud with the Boston Red Sox — originally playing under the ultra-pussified name of the Boston Red Stockings from what I'm told —, a hatred between cities and their people which is akin to that held by Sparta for Troy. When discussing this legendary rivalry the word feud is woefully inadequate since seeing the extremes of emotion elicited on both sides can be truly frightening, stirring the embers of a conflagration that has burned since 1918 and the curse upon the Red Sox.

Having lived in New England for most of my life and having experienced many of its historic cities, I can honestly say that I loathe Boston. The place reeks of effete snobbery, has an obvious wish to be as cool as New York City, and somehow manages to have a native accent that is a hundred times more annoying than those found in the Rotten Apple. Red Sox fans jealously refer to the Yankees as “the Evil Empire” and “the Dark Side,” proving that they don’t even have the simple creativity to create original insults and have to resort to cadging from the most popular film series of all time so that they can have some sort of frame of reference. Pitifully, their STAR WARS-related insults fail spectacularly since anyone who ever saw those films knows that not only is Darth Vader cool as fuck, but he and the Empire are a juggernaut of balls-out badassitude, so these alleged pejoratives bear no weight as such and end up as compliments. Where’s Don Rickles when you need him, eh? And need I mention the inescapable fact that the Red Sox are some of the most visually offensive specimens of Homo Sapiens ever to violate your TV screen? They all have hideous hairdos that range from the Sideshow Bob look to the white guy with dreads, and worst of all is that horrid pseudo-Conan kinda-mullet worn by that escapee from the Museum of Natural History Johnny Damon (who also resembles the star of the now forgotten ‘70’s kids show KORG-70, 000 BC).

During the just-ended American League Championship Series between the Yanks and the Sucks, er, Sox both Boston and New York endured seven games of cruel duration that culminated in the Red Socks winning against an inexcusable showing from the Yankees, coming back from a three-games- to-none deficit as much drunkenness and cussing ensued. This unimpressive win ensures the Sox entry into the World Series, which gives them the chance to “reverse the Curse” that began in 1918 and engenders hope in the fans that their team will finally be able to face their friends and loved ones while not wearing paper sacks over their heads in a vain attempt to hide their leper-like state of shame.

In Boston there were many arrests due to the fans’ high spirits, some involving quelling the crowds with gas grenades, yet here in the Apple the fans of the local boys hung their heads in disappointment and disgust and pondered who will be on the Yankees roster next season. The fans that I know felt that it would have been no big deal if the Yankees had won since that would have been business as usual, but the jailhouse-style assfucking that the Yankees got last night for no adequately explainable reason was so off-putting that even a staunch booster like Hughes has voiced the need to remove himself from all contact with baseball for the foreseeable future and possibly never watch baseball again; clearly a statement made out of pain and disappointment, but hard to dismiss when uttered by one of the faithful. All I have to say is that next season the majority of the Yankees had better get off of their overpaid asses and earn their keep. Last night’s game was a disgrace even to a relative newcomer like me and when I am able to tell you without any uncertainty that the Yankees choked on a big Bostonian cock, things are pretty fucking sad indeed. The final insult came with today's edition of the Daily News, the front page of which featured a full color shot of Yankees captain Derek Jeter with his hand over his mouth in what appears to be an attempt at preventing vomit from spewing out all over the field, crowned with the enormous headline which read "THE CHOKE'S ON US." Cue the funeral march...

Monday, October 18, 2004


It starts earlier every year. The cutesy, pervasive music. Red, white and green decorations festooning everything in sight. Endless seasonally-themed television adverts. Yes, I'm talking about the Christmas season and today marks the first time this year that I have seen Christmas-related TV ads, thirteen days before Halloween, for fuck's sake! Now begins the slow torture of the holidays being shoved down my throat for the next two-and-a-half months since the bombardment really doesn't end until after New Year's Day. I'll bear it, but I sure as shit will not be grinning.


FRIDAY- I couldn't sleep again thanks to those fucking mice, so I shifted my planned trip to Marvel from the afternoon to the morning, with the goal of being back in Brooklyn by 11:30 AM. I went to the House of Re-Hashed Ideas and met with Jared to do a DVD exchange and receive a free copy of the STAR WARS trilogy DVD set. Jared's buddy Rob ordered the set and it arrived with a damaged slipcover, so he emailed the company and requested a new box; instead of merely a new box they sent him a whole new set, which he passed on to Jared, who passed it on to me. SCORE! More on the actual DVD set in a posting or two...

I left Marvel and met Eddie at the movie theater for the 12:15 matinee of TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, the latest from the guys behind SOUTH PARK. It's a puppet movie that owes a major debt to Gerry Anderson's ouvre (THUNDERBIRDS, STINGRAY, CAPTAIN SCARLET, et cetera) but is more accurately described as a simultaneous satire of those shitty Jerry Bruckheimer movies and testosterone-ridden American jingoism, and I found it to be very funny. Sadly, the exceptional puppetry made me irate at the blown opportunity that was the live-action THUNDERBIRDS feature film, a film that I refuse to see for the same reasons that won't let me see an American Godzilla movie.

Other than that, the rest of the day was spent walking a friend's dog and checking out some of the STAR WARS DVD stuff.

SATURDAY- Spent the day as tour guide to one of my favorite people on the planet, namely my friend Julie, and her cool six-year-old son Jordan. It was really great to be able to spend time with her and get to know her kid, but the thing that really struck me was how it seemed that the passage of time hadn't really changed her that much. Good to see. And during our visit to Jim Hanley's Universe — my vote for Manhattan's most personable comic shop — I picked up the DVD set of the complete GREG THE BUNNY, my vote for the funniest TV comedy since GET A LIFE. Spent most of the night checking out the GREG discs and continuing to work my way through THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with the audio commentary.

SUNDAY- It was unseasonably cold this morning,and when I awoke and threw off my comforters I nearly froze my balls off; it was around forty-nine degrees outside and I had left my window open overnight. The day was spent in a state of cold-induced near-torpor and I continued to work my way through GREG THE BUNNY and its highly entertaining audio commentary. By mid-afternoon I gave in to the seasonal shift and passed out cold for a couple of hours, and when I awoke I cleaned my kitchenette. I heard from the mighty Wendy for the first time in about a week and watched the Yankees VS Red Socks playoff game on TV, which is still on as I write this at 12:42 AM, Monday morning. Later today I will send in my story pitches for the DEXTER'S LABORATORY comic book. That's it for now I guess.

God, I need some pussy. Any volunteers? I promise a serious oil and baby powder massage, with a kickass breakfast the next day. Think about it!

Friday, October 15, 2004


Here in the Rotten Apple there is a phone service called 777-FILM, a handy provider of movie listings and showtimes that covers the five boroughs and surrounding areas. I often call it for film times since it is more accurate than most such services, but it has the annoying feature of subjecting the caller to long and irritatingly-voiced trailers for films or ads for various services like over-the-phone ticket buying and signup info for various movie-related perks before they can hear the information that they called for in the first place.

I called early this morning to find out the matinee times for TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE at my local theater of choice and rolled my eyes as the unwelcome-yet-familiar voice of "Mister Moviephone" droned on about a new feature where the caller can hear reviews for movies. That's okay, but the ad went as follows:

"Hey, moviegoers! Try out or new instant review feature! Before you see the movies, find out if they glow of if they blow!"

I ask you, is that any way to do an ad on a movie listing line? I mean, if you're gonna go for "edgy" at least be funny. That line was something a fifth-grader would have come up with. Pitiful...

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Gumbo, cherished mainstay of Louisiana cuisine and one of the tastiest fucking dishes on the planet; as diverse as the people in the region that spawned it, there are literally dozens — if not hundreds — of ways to prepare a rich pot of gumbo and I have attempted at least seven different varieties only to arrive at my culinary gene-splicing of my favorite variations (chief of which is my mother’s brown roux specialty). Making a good batch of this sacred brew is an art form requiring patience, a knack for “measuring by intuition,” and attention to both detail and the slowly simmering elixir; if you feel that you do not possess these traits, do not attempt this recipe and pass it on to someone who would feel more comfortable with it. If you’re gonna make gumbo, you’ve gotta do it right since gumbo cooking ain’t for the weak. Not scared off? Then let’s get badassed on the bayou!


SALT AND PEPPER (to taste)

The foundation of any good batch of the ‘Bo is a heartfelt roux. Roux is a mixture of flour and oil that is continually stirred over a medium hot flame until the mixture turns a chestnut brown; some prefer a lighter color for their roux but I find that the darker brown provides a headier flavor, but you can do it however you like. Blend the flour and oil slowly with a spatula, and I suggest adding salt and pepper (to taste) to the mix at this point. The roux is finished when it is somewhat pasty in thickness and has reached the shade of brown that floats your boat, but time-wise I usually stay at the stove and stir slowly for about a half-hour/forty-five minutes; this part of the procedure is a great time for functional meditation as you concentrate on the incredibly relaxing Zen of stirring. Also, depending on how much you need for your batch of gumbo, I suggest making a surplus of roux to save on the side. More on this shortly.

Next, chop up as much onion and celery as you may need and sauté in butter or oil until the veggies are somewhat soft. As mentioned previously regarding the roux, you may also want to prepare a surplus of the vegetables so that they can be combined with the surplus roux and frozen for when you may need it again; since making roux is a time-consuming activity you will pat yourself on the back for this time-saving bit of foresightedness when it is needed.

Next, pour the veggies and roux into an eight-quart stock pot and mix thoroughly. Now pour in two quarts (or as much as you feel you may need; remember that much of my method is intuitive) of chicken broth and four Andouille sausages that have been cut into small, coin-shaped sections. NOTE: I recommend adding as much Andouille as possible since it adds a distinct flavor and spiciness to the mix, but keep in mind that the shit ain’t cheap; at my local supermarket they go for around six bucks per pound and that translates into two nine-inch sausages for about five bucks since a two sausage pack never quite equals a full pound. My average batch of gumbo requires at least four Andouille sausages, and in a pinch smoked sausage, Italian sausage and damn near any other sausage will do, but I’m snob for authenticity.

Bring this lovely mixture to a low boil and add the Dungeness crabs (cleaned of course, and frozen is perfectly fine — for my standard batch I go with three pounds, which comes to around twenty bucks) or Alaskan King Crab Legs, and then the chicken. I recommend wings, legs and thighs over breasts since breasts tend to fall apart into stringy tendrils during a long, slow simmer; it’s still edible, but it’s just nicer to have a piece of solid chicken to sink your teeth into while enjoying the meal. Anyway, pour in one quarter of a bottle of clam juice and we’re off to the races. Once that comes to a boil drop it down to a low simmer, stirring periodically for three hours, taking care not to break up the chicken too much. NOTE: sometimes the roux portion of the mixture may stick to the bottom of the pot so pay attention and don’t let it settle to the bottom for too long.

At the end of the three-hour simmer add at least a pound of fresh, cleaned shrimp to the pot, along with a few shakes of gumbo file; file is ground sassafras which is used to thicken soups and stews, so apply as much as you need for the desired thickness. Let this boil for another five minutes and remove from heat. That’s it. You have now made a pot of gumbo.

I recommend making this the day before you intend to serve it since, much like almost any dish, the gumbo finds its flavor overnight. Just make sure that it has fully cooled before putting it in the fridge. And for those who want more of a kick to the flavor, feel free to add whatever kind of hot sauce you like later, though thanks to the Andouille you probably won’t need to.


It's 4:56 AM and I can't sleep.

Of the many downsides of living in my tenement building, the one that irks me most is the mice. Since moving in here over seven years ago I have waged an ongoing war with the mice that periodically infest the building and shit all over the Goddamned place, and I know for a fact that I am not the only resident to regularly deal with those unwelcome visitors and their little "presents." The building is located right next to a community garden — more honestly described as a barely converted vacant lot — and there has to be some entry from there into my building. I often see rats and mice cavorting within the garden and am eternally thankful that I merely have mice; in the way that most people hate cockroaches I despise rodent vermin with a primal loathing and having them in my apartment nearly drives me mad. Even more maddening is the fact that I have never been able to figure out exactly where the hole that they get in here through is, otherwise I would have stuffed it with soaped steel wool and sealed it long ago.

One of the services provided as part of the rent is an exterminator who pops by on the third Sunday of each month and sprays for roaches, and upon request he will leave out a toxic block for the mice to nibble on and hopefully die from. Let me tell you with absolute certainty that the poison the guy uses has no effect on the wee invaders, and my preferred method of retaliation is glue traps, particularly those bearing the Tomcat brand. Tomcat traps are a bit pricier than others but they work like a charm thanks to a glue with a scent that is apparently quite enticing to
mice, and when I put down traps during the times when I know for a fact that they are about at night I am guaranteed to find at least one mired in the sticky goo, staring at me with those expressionless black little eyes. I then drop the trap and adhesed vermin into a plastic bag and drop the whole kit and kaboodle into the waiting trash cans outside.

There are two things that suck about this process:
1. When trapped, the mice thrash about, making a racket from moving the plastic trap around, and they also squeak. A lot. Very loudly. One cannot sleep through this shrill cacophany and the only way to restore peace and quiet is to get out of bed and dispose of the captive. Sadly, once I am awake I have a difficult time nodding off again.
2. Sometimes a mouse will wander into one of the traps while I am away for a few days and when I return I find that my apartment stinks hellaciously thanks to the mouse's decomposing corpse. It's truly amazing how something so small can generate such a powerful stench in almost no time at all; I once returned after two days to find my flat reeking like a week-long garbage strike and only figured out the cause after tearing the place apart and locating the rotting mouse behind my stove.

This morning I was awakened by the previously described thrashing and squeaking and looked into the area where I had laid down traps only a few hours earlier; not only was there a mouse loudly bemoaning its inability to free itself from the tenacious glue, but there was another one darting about looking for a way out before I could position another trap in front of its narrow escape crevace. I disposed of the helpless captive, put down another trap to fortify the mini-tar pit behind my kitchenette's counter, and attempted to sleep again. That plan was swiftly kiboshed when I heard the other mouse return; I can hear him now, scurrying about and it is only a matter of time until he wanders into his doom. Come and get it, you furry little motherfucker...


I was on the long-as-always line for the express checkout at the local Key Food supermarket today when the attention of myself and every other on-line patron was caught by a a woman causing a fuss on a checkout line a few rows down from where I was. The woman was clearly zonked on something and loudly berated her mindlessly-grinning male companion while she pulled item after item onto the checkout counter's conveyor belt. Loud, seemingly insane... Yep, these were crackheads, and things were about to get interesting.

"Muthafukka, you tellin' me to save muthafukkin' money... YOU AIN'T MY MAN, MUTHAFUKKA! YOU AIN'T MY MAN!" The hapless male crackhead huh-huh'ed to himself in a vain attempt at shrugging off his public humiliation and wittily countered with "You be runnin' yo' mouf an' shit...ain't impressin' no muthafukkin' body..." This Pinteresque exchange went on for a good five minutes, utterly holding up the line that they were on and trying the patience of the justly-nervous checkout girl until the two morons just abruptly walked out of the store, leaving behind a mountain of groceries that were easily worth around $200.

The relieved checkout girl exclaimed "That shit was ridiculous!" and I commented with a black woman in front of me and a West Indian man behind me that it was a good thing that only two white people witnessed the embarrassing display, since it would have been yet another citable example of us highly-rhythmic individuals as boorish, drug-addicted vermin who bring down property values. Ah, the free entertainment that is the Five Boroughs.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


A good friend of mine whom I’ve known for over twenty-five years recently noted that due to many diverse factors our thirties are the new twenties, and the more I think upon that statement I realize that she’s absolutely right.

I left home to find fame and fortune in early 1990 and spent much of the Nineties enjoying the sort of extended post-collegiate party-boy-with-a-job existence that usually comes to a halt at around the age of twenty-five, yet I and many of my friends held on with a vengeance to the reckless thrills and borderline-delinquency of the days when we first congregated. Turning thirty in June of 1995 did little to alter my routine and I soldiered on in a relatively low-paying job in the field that I wanted to be a part of since I was a kid; the comics biz is notorious for rock bottom pay unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time, but those of us who stuck with it despite the lack of fair financial reward did it for love of comics as a whole, and that’s how the biz can hook you for life. But looking back on it now, sticking with the production department end of things for as long as I did offered little advancement in my chosen field and offered mostly a steady paycheck, medical benefits (which are admittedly nothing to sneeze at) and a comfortable space in which to work. Basically I was still thinking like a teenager who was stuck in a rut and afraid to move on and get a real job.

To their credit, many of my like-minded friends found the balls to move on and at least attempt something different while I accepted my place in the Marvel Bullpen as a loyal retainer to a steadily-changing comics-empire daimyo. My move to another company and eventual move up into the ranks of editorial provided fleeting creative satisfaction, some new friends and a raise in pay, and also made me realize that, for the most part, my days of carefree playtime were over. Looking around me and observing not only my own life, the lives of my friends and the paths that we had all taken, I came to the stunning conclusion that we were now grownups. It had taken most of us until our mid-thirties, but we were fucking GROWNUPS!

Now there were partners, marriages, spouses, children, sobriety, the physical evidence of fast-waning youth, out-of-state moves, out-of-the-country moves, major surgeries, parental deaths, marital infidelities, non-life-threatening VD from adultery, divorces, layoffs and long-term bouts of unemployment, mortgages… the stuff that we witnessed our parents going through was now a part of our daily existence and waking up to that reality was a serious motherfucker.

As I face the acceptance of my actual status as a card-carrying grownup I realize that I never could have predicted the twists of fate that have brought me and my extended family to where we are now. Our group was once so close-knit that we could easily have been confused with some drunken, promiscuous cult with nearly all of its core members located within the five boroughs, but mostly within walking-distance of each other in Brooklyn. Little was done without all of the family involved and the oft-repeated tales of our glory days in college have become so ingrained into our insular culture that they are known by rote even to those who joined the collective hive-mind when our days in the ivy-covered walls of higher learning were long past. No one could have imagined this familiar community someday scattering to the four winds, but that is exactly what has happened over the past six years or so. Fortunately it doesn’t bother me to lose my friends to the daily realities of grownup concerns since many of them married well, I like most of their spouses, and all of those who have children have stepped up to plate and proven to be quite good parents, some of whom are downright spectacular at it. I’m just pleased to see that the majority of them are happy.

Currently only four members of the core group remain within the Manhattan/Brooklyn area, and since one of us is recently married he and his spouse have begun house hunting in upstate New York. Many of our number have ended up in the charming hamlet of New Paltz, New York, a two-hour bus ride from Manhattan, with abundant quiet and real estate prices of a far more affordable nature than anything to be found in the Big Apple. For the money that one of the New Paltz-dwelling ex-pats shelled out for a stunning house with lush property, one could barely afford to own a one-bedroom apartment in my neighborhood, so I don’t blame those who fled North one bit. In fact, I plan on ending up there myself whenever my fortunes reverse and I can afford to pack up and leave. My other goals are finding steady employment and hooking up with a long-term girlfriend; poverty and loneliness are a bad combo, and despite the availability of loneliness-relieving sex I am holding out for something hopefully deeper than that. My summer fling was quite fun, though...

While I still go out on the weekends, the nights of Viking-style partying and sleeping with equally horny women who I cared for as little more than a means to an orgasmic end are over; I look back on my romantic adventures and with the notable exceptions of six women who immediately spring to mind I would happily trade all of my sexual encounters for time spent catching up on my reading or sitting through classic movies that I haven’t seen. We all change and grow with age and right now my priority requirements from any woman I get involved with are a sense of humor, a love of food since I live to cook, the ability to tolerate my taste in movies and music, and most important of all, she must not be unstable. I am famous for hooking up with unstable women who range from painfully needy and insecure to outright loonies who are dangerous to themselves and others, and that is an ongoing pattern that must change.

Sooner or later I’ll enjoy the perks of grownupness that my more together friends have found, and then I’ll finally be able to close the door on my misspent-yet-fun youth and get on with my destiny of becoming the local bizarre-yet-cool old codger. Hopefully with a fun, sweet mate and an income that will allow us to support a gaggle of little Bunchelings; hopefully all little monster-lovin’ metalhead girls who I can dress like little punker princesses and teach the lyrics to “I Wanna Piss On You” and other like classics. Ah, bliss.


My Brooklyn neighborhood is a study in cultural and socio-economic diversity, with poverty and wealth literally staring each other in the face on a daily basis. The building next to mine is a welfare fortress, a twenty-four-hour party since apparently none of the residents work, and the kids and teens who live there have a minimal amount of parental supervision or involvement in their lives. The one heartwarming exception to this is the recently-out-of-prison dad who graphically lectured his son on the dangers of getting ass-fucked in the lockdown shower by horny gang members; this Hallmark moment was answered by his nine-year-old son who said "When I go to jail ain't nobody fuckin' me up the ass!" The father smiled proudly at his little man and the two of them celebrated their tender father/son bonding with deep drags on a fat joint. I marvelled at this and sorrowfully noted that the father in no way offered advice on staying out of jail and apparently accepted the inevitability of his offspring following in his footsteps.

Most of the boys next door hang out noisily on the stoop and hawk pitiful ditch-weed that I wouldn't have smoked even during the worst of "droughts" in my long-ago college stoner days, and the girls are all — and I do mean all — mothers of infants at ages below sixteen, each bearing the stretch marks and post-baby flab of women at least a decade or more older than they are; that lamentable spectacle is punctuated by the fact that they wear outfits that reveal way too much skin — and consequently doughy fat — and they believe that they look sexy. Sorry, girls, but you look like Hispanic variants of ignorant trailer trash like my relatives in rural Alabama.

This kind of slack behaviour is also quite evident among the progeny of the moneyed white residents up the street, kids who are every bit as uncouth, hip-hop affecting, foul-mouthed and knocked-up as their more "ghetto" counterparts. The difference is that the white kids are under the supervision of their parents more often than not, but what kind of supervision are they getting?

A few weeks ago I was walking down the street and noticed a local white mother and her fourteen-year-old daughter laughing amongst themselves and enjoying the sunny day. I smiled at the obvious camaraderie between the two and was charmed by their sweet demeanor... until I saw the t-shirt that the daughter wore. The shirt was a good three sizes too small and was obviously meant to showcase her gravity-defying, erect-nippled, fresh-out-of-the-box breasts, but that wasn't the problem. To my horror, the girl's shirt was emblazoned with the slogan "I have the pussy, so I make the rules."

Not a Photoshop gag. Buy one for your tweener daughter today!

Now, I am about as far from being a prude as a person can get, but there is no way in Hell that I would allow my jailbait daughter out of the house — or in the house for that matter — in that shirt. Sure, the sentiment is amusing, and in the case of most women I know absolutely true, but the girl wearing it was just a kid! What does that say about her mother? Does she think it's an appropriate statement to be made by an adolescent? I'd love to hear other opinions on this one...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Bonfires burning bright
Pumpkin faces in the night
I remember Halloween

Dead cats hanging from poles
Little dead are out in droves
I remember Halloween

Brown leafed vertigo
Where skeletal life is known
I remember Halloween

This day anything goes
Burning bodies hanging from poles
I remember Halloween

Candy apples and razor blades
Little dead are soon in graves
I remember Halloween

This day anything goes
Burning bodies hanging from poles
I remember Halloween

-“Halloween” by the Misfits, 1981

So, do ya think this guy remembers Halloween?

Ah, Halloween. The finest day in the month of Rocktober, the day wherein the imagination is brought to vivid life, crazily bedecked and given license to wander your neighborhood and scrounge for heavily-sugared comestibles when not launching eggs at your house or setting light to paper sacks filled with dog turds on your once innocent porch in fervent hope that you will stomp out the blaze while wearing your brand new Hush Puppies. Legions of costumed urchins and their sometimes equally twisted elders ringing your doorbell in a yearly ritual of extortion that will hopefully keep your trees free of soon-to-be-dew-soggy rolls of Charmin and any sundry, festering detritus that they may have schlepped with them just in case you are stingy with the candy. The high-pitched, out-of-tune cacophony of that immortal chant:

Trick or treat!
Smell my feet!
Give me something good to eat!

With the exuberance that only children have and all pretense of good manners and tunefulness thrown merrily to the brisk fall winds, is there any sweeter music known?

If you are a lover of both horror and unfettered imagination there is no more sacred day in the entire calendar; when enjoyed properly Halloween can be more fun than Christmas, Thanksgiving dinner, your birthday and your most fondly remembered sexual encounter all rolled into one, and brothers and sisters, that ain't nothin' to sneeze at!

Sure, many of us don crazy getups and lose ourselves in our chosen character on that most bitchin' night of nights, but we were all indoctrinated into the Halloween spirit by parents and loved ones who were all about fostering a love of fantasy and make believe in which even little ones who were often overlooked or relegated to the dreaded “kid's table” at grownup social gatherings could participate. For the young and young at heart, Halloween is an “everybody's welcome” mass equalizer that not only allows the individual to be someone or something other than himself or herself for a short, blessed time, but also guarantees that you will see some outrageous costumes and activities.

Most of us got into the Pumpkin Time groove at an early age, forced to represent in those horrible POS Ben Cooper one-piece costumes that came equipped with vision-obstructing plastic masks which had sharp edges that scratched us around the eyes and the character's name needlessly emblazoned across a good portion of the outfit's front (well maybe not so needless since it saved adults from asking “And what are you then?”), and if enduring that exquisite commercially packaged child abuse and looking like total pint-sized assembly line douchebags didn't kill our Halloween spirit then nothing, and I do mean NUH-THING, could.

My earliest memory of soldiering in the name candy and costume (candy that I invariably gave to my mother since I have never had much of sweet tooth) is from 1969, when I was handed one of those large-to-a-preschooler boxes which contained a costume of Hanna-Barbera's super-hero, Birdman. For those not in the know, Birdman was pretty much a bland Hawkman knockoff that was such a lightweight you could theoretically rob him of his solar-derived powers by chucking him into a closet and handing him a most righteous ass-kicking; since he was a pretty pathetic washout in the super-hero department, Birdman is currently seen to much better effect on the Cartoon Network's Harvey Birdman, Lawyer as a defense attorney for errant cartoon superstars of yore. Yet none of his mediocre adventures mattered a whit to my four-year-old sensibilities since that night I would put on a costume that amounted to little more than glorified cellophane and be a super-hero. I knew I couldn't fly over the neighborhood on great wings, shoot rays from my clenched little fists or receive top secret communiqués on a wall-mounted TV screen from a mustachioed John Tesh look-alike with an eye patch, but for a marvelous, brief stretch of an hour our two I could sure as hell feel like anything could happen and I would be full of enough super-heroic piss and vinegar to take on all comers.

The following year I got to be Batman, my second favorite hero after the Sub-Mariner (who I knew from the fondly-remembered yet horribly-animated “Marvel Super-Heroes” show that ran in syndication). I pushed for the green light on going out as Namor, but that idea got shot down due to the fact that my comics-friendly parents (who grew up on the classics from the Golden Age) were not going to even attempt concocting plausible pointed ears and ankle wings, and the simple fact that it isn't a good idea to be running around at night an naught but a pair of green swim trunks, so rather than becoming prime pedophile bait I instead opted for the Caped Crusader.

The Adam West Batman series had ended a year or so before my debut in Bob Kane-inspired Ben Cooper finery, but I was rabid for it thanks to the miracle of daily afternoon reruns and I was just itchin' to burst forth from the old homestead and hit the Gotham City that would spring to life from my fevered imagination. I nearly burst from excitement as I checked myself out in the mirror and thrilled to Neal Hefti's unforgettable theme music as it resonated in my head; I may have been five but I looked cool enough to kick King Tut square in his skirt and hopefully get a kiss from that strange Catwoman who made me feel funny, but funny in a good way that I hadn't figured out yet.

My reverie was interrupted when my dad came in and asked if he could make one last adjustment to the cheap plastic mask that came with the costume. I handed it to him and wondered what else needed to be done; here was a dead-on likeness of the hero I saw every day, and I was perfectly happy with it as it was. I didn't see how anything could possibly be done to make me look any more like Batman, well at least as much as a five-year-old with an Afro can look like Adam West by any stretch of the imagination.

My dad left the room for a few moments and I heard the unmistakable sound of something being sprayed from an aerosol can. The telltale smell of paint soon wafted into the room when my dad returned, and he beamed as he handed me the mask. I was horrified to see that my father, in a well-intentioned act of black pride, had spray-painted the flesh-tone portion of Batman's face a light brown to match my own shade.

I was outraged to the core of my being! Sure, I knew I was black, but I also knew that Batman wasn't black, and the addition of canned melanin offended my sense of authenticity, to say nothing of the fact that I just knew If I went out with that altered mask I'd hear heckles such as “It's the Colored Crusader!” or (think of the theme tune) “Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah - Black Man!” After much back and forth arguing I finally saw my father's point of view and agreed that blackness would not in any way hamper me representing the spirit of Batman. My mother now recalls the whole incident as perhaps the stupidest argument she ever witnessed, and nowadays I'm inclined to agree.

Fast forward to the fall of 1974, and my total immersion into 1940's Captain Marvel reprints that DC Comics was kind enough to dole out in regular 100-page doses. I first met the Captain in Jules Feiffer's indispensable The Great Comic Book Heroes (Bonanza Books, 1965 - now available from Fantagraphics), and when DC started reprinting his adventures in earnest I was at the perfect age to get hooked on them. While my love for the Captain and his equally fun cohorts grew, CBS television debuted a live action Saturday morning Captain Marvel show called “Shazam!” that many remember with great fondness, but not me. I hated it from day one and gave up on it quickly since it looked like it was made for less money than I earned on a good day from my paper route, had scripts that would have shamed my developmentally-challenged cousin Jimmy, featured an Afroed and apparently Hispanic Billy Batson wandering around the country in a Winnebago with some old fart in a bad leisure suit, had nauseating morals at the end of each low-rent installment, and worst of all, a Captain Marvel who looked like some disco jerkoff with a bad perm and flying effects to match. In short, when Halloween rolled around I felt compelled to stand up for the besmirched honor of the Captain and his family (hell, even for Hoppy the friggin' Marvel Bunny!) by traipsing around the suburban wilderness in his signature gear, complete with the fetching cape and canary-yellow buccaneer boots. The problem was that there was no such costume commercially available outside of establishments such as “Bruce's Flamboyance and Codpiece Emporium,” and no Ben Cooper costume ever came with matching footwear, a consideration that sinks the whole Captain Marvel ensemble.

The problem of unavailability was solved when I realized that my mom was a talented seamstress who didn't take her often-spectacular creations seriously at all; the lady actually put together a life-sized stuffed panda bear that she made from scratch which also doubled as an extremely comfortable beanbag chair. Realizing the likelihood that she could get away with crafting a homemade Captain Marvel outfit, I approached her with the idea and when she said yes I handed her a stack of comics for reference. Working without any sort of pattern, she created a very faithful costume that included not only a cape that was accurate down to the last detail, but also a pair of hand-made vinyl buccaneer boots. The outfit completely kicked ass, made all of the assembly line Ben Cooper costumes of that year look like the pitiful Hershey squirts that they indeed were, and was infused with a super-hero-friendly mother's love. No matter that I looked more like Fat Marvel than the Big Red Cheese himself, I felt great on that Halloween night and consider that evening to be the highlight of my childhood trick-or-treating experiences.

Then came the sad year when I realized I was too old to campaign with the rest of the costumed kids, but I was determined not to go out without a fight. My last stand would be a legend among Connecticut trick-or-treaters if I had my way about it and unfortunately it did, but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of opting for another tried and true super-hero getup I decided to go for something more contemporary and cutting edge, so what did I do? I dressed up as that stalwart goon from the scourge of the late-1970's TV airwaves, “The Gong Show”… Yes, to my eternal shame, I ended my trick-or-treating career by ringing doorbells dressed as the Unknown Comic, bag-over-the-head and all. I was thirteen, so I should have known better.

I haven't decided what I'm going out as this year but I've got a pretty good idea... And it'll be a super-hero!