Friday, July 30, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon aka...Take Off Your Top! Part 2

Dear Diary,

The Twilight Saga: New Moon [Blu-ray]It was here!!!  It was in my hands!!!  It was everything that I could ever hope for...The Twilight Saga: New Moon on BLU-MOTHER-F_ING-RAY...high definition, Bitches!!!  Why the hell would anyone ever watch this mind-numbingly beautiful film in anything but HD?  DVD?...why not watch it underwater or something, I mean...C'MON!  It just makes me so ANGRY, that I...that I...damnit.  I forgot my meds again.  Here comes Amy.  Back in a moment Diary.

Ahhhh...where was I?  Oh yeah!  LOL.  Silly me, New Moon!!!  Team Jacob?  Team Edward?  Side-liner Alice?  Or Team absolutely good for nothing, does not deserve any of them Bella?  Ok, getting angry again...deep breaths.  There.  Better.  Let's work this thing out.

This perfection of modern cinema opens with Bella really cutting into Edward and nagging him about making her a vampire.  She has dreams about becoming old and even has a terrible nightmare where she is an old sea hag, and she will not let it drop.  She whines and gets snippy to Edward and basically begins to show signs of how she would act if they had actually been married and ab...stin...ammint for the full hundred plus years that Edward has been alive.  " many times have I asked you to take out the goddamn trash.  I'm not your mother, Edward.  I swear, what would the neighbors say if they saw the house?  Huh?  What?  Are you ignoring me Edward?  Huh?  One would think you were one of those mangy mutt werewolves if they didn't know better.  Speaking of which, when are you going to get a job?  You can't go to high school forever, you know."   Poor Edward.  Diary, if Edward ever needs a break from the incessant guilt trips and constant nagging, then he should give Ol' Donist a call and we can totally hang out, and he can tell me all of his problems.  We both know that I am an excellent listener and that I would be patient and more than happy to be ab...stin...ammint with him for as long as it takes for him to make me glow in the sunlight, too.  Just like diamonds.  Bros before hoes, Edward buddy, bros before hoes.

Anyhow...Bella goes to the Cullen's house to celebrate her birthday, which the vampires did not have to do, and continues the bitch-fest, "I don't want to be old.  I want to live forever.  I want to be a little ittty bitty princess and not engage in ab...stin...ammintz."  (Sorry Diary, one more thing on this, if Bella acts like this at the "honeymoon" stage of their relationship, how is she going to behave 127 years from now?  Edward should listen to some of Dan Savage's Savage Love podcast to get the real scoop)  Sure enough, and as is to be expected from Bella, she cuts herself which drives Edward's brother, Jasper, batshit crazy and he attempts to kill her.  I think he was just looking for an excuse, but maybe that is just me.  LOL.  There is a brief fighting scene which was so awesomely depicted that I had no clue as to what the hell was going on, and Edward and the Cullen's decide that they need to "take a break from Bella and her punk ass attitude problem," under the guise that they don't want to hurt her. boy Edward is all class.  Even though Bella is a pain in the arse, he still tries to spare her feelings...good man, Edward, good man.

Sorry Diary, back later to talk about JACOB!!!  My social worker just showed up to discuss last week's incident that I am not allowed to talk about.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon aka...Take Off Your Top! Part 1

Dear Diary,

The Twilight Saga: New Moon [Blu-ray]I'm back, sorry it took so long for me to update you this time, but I have been in Twilight heaven after finally viewing The Twilight Saga: New Moon!!!  It was the best ever!!!  LOL, Twilight rules!!!

Now, before I go into the movie, I just have to relive some of the glorious events leading up to the screening, and some of the events that really hack me off and make wish I, too, was a werewolf dressed only in short pants and stopping enemies, or at least running around the forest like Jacob's pack!!!

Once again, I had my lawn chair, complete with the beer can holder, my trustee suitcase of Coors tallboys, some V8 juice to keep things classy, and the KEY difference of my trusty boombox loaded with D-Cells, with a cassette tape of Paramore cued up for the three day wait.    I need to reiterate that Unit 37...that's you a D-I-C-K!!!  I understand that we all need to sleep, jerk-face, but maybe if you realized that more exists in life than your J-O-B, or your daughter's need to sleep before her ever-so grueling day at writer's camp, then maybe...just maybe you can embrace what really matters in this world.  That's right, Tobey, mother f_ing Twilight, Bitch!!!  Hell, you should be introducing your daughter to the movie and the books, it is high time that she begins to learn about the beauty of falling in love with someone that is like 100 years older than she is, and feels ill every time he is around her.  You see?  If you were a good father, little 12-year old Abbey would be outside, hanging with the Donist, watching me drink beer--none for her, of course, she is nine years shy of legal drinking age, what kind of Twilight fan do you think I am?--and cranking out the Paramore!!!  Maybe if you weren't such a fascist, and stopped calling the cops, because "the music is too damn loud," or stopped yelling at me because my life-sized realistic standee's of Jacob and Edward frighten Abbey, then you would realize the good that Twilight can do for your daughter.  Open your eyes to the glory of Twilight you a-hole!!!  Stop being "the man."

Sorry Diary, I guess I just needed to get that out of my system, and trust me, there are a few other less-than-pleased neighbors who are haters.  I mean, who owns a bow and arrow these days, and in a condo complex none the less?  Luckily the arrow went right through cardboard Jacob and missed my boombox, which I believe was the target; I have half a mind to bust out some Evanescence in retaliation, but instead I and turned down the music a little.

Funny thing is that I have found a fellow Twilighter like myself!!!  Unit 25 down the way finally came out of his house and without the ankle bracelet!!!  In the past six years, I have only seen him once or twice, and each time he was licking the surface of the sliding glass door and raising his eyebrows at me, but we all have our quirks.  He is a rather large man, who never stops smiling and likes to be called Mr. Mousey and he really, really likes to give back rubs, even when your muscles aren't sore at all, but he is an okay guy...even when he scarfs down 60% of every pizza that I ordered for the three day wait.  WTF!!!  Luckily, he did not partake in any of my Coors Tallboys, because they mess with his meds and make him do "terrible...terrible things that I can never take back...not that I would ever want to."  He reminded me of this often, while he rubbed the life-sized Edward standee in ways that made me uncomfortable, but last I checked, this is America and once the ankle bracelets come off, you can do whatever the hell you want!!!  U.S.A.!  U.S.A.!

By the time the The Twilight Saga: New Moon BLU-MOTHER-F_ING-RAY babeee arrived, I was honestly over Mr. Mousey and the incessant back rubbing that left my shoulders kind of messed up, but he was a true fan and stuck through the whole Twilight camping-out experience and was even almost maced by the Femailman because what he was doing to the cardboard Edward "was just not right."  OMG, Diary!!!  We are true fans, and no matter what any public servant says, macing is not necessary...okay, maybe it is necessary sometimes with Mr. Mousey, but that just goes to show his excitement and enthusiasm with the greatest phenomenon to hit the world...TWILIGHT!!!

We cranked up the Paramore and kicked all of the empty beer cans to the curb and into Tobey-the-Jerk-Face's yard, before dancing with glee back to my house, where Amy stood waiting at the doorway.  Now Diary, I know that you and my wife have some differences of opinion regarding how things work in life, but there are times where I need to, which to her means obey.  She refused to let Mr. Mousey into the house and threatened to call the cops on him because of the "full-walrus" incident last year that Amy witnessed Mr. Mousey performing on his patio.  Thankfully, Mr. Mousey did not argue and only whispered, "Someday you will all see," before heading back to his unit and admitting that he already owns the movie and watches it every single day--at least certain scenes every single day.  Talk about a true fan!!!

More tomorrow Diary when I actually discuss the movie!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fun and games at the Tiburon Tavern

"It's not over until the big lady keels over."  Or so the saying goes.  Wait, that's not right..."It's not over until you get your group of tables taken out by a 6' 5" tall woman."  Hmmm...that still does not sound right, but close enough.

Years ago, my wife--my girlfriend at the time--a group of about four or five friends and I all decided to meet up at the Tiburon Tavern.  It was fairly close to our home and most of our group worked for the evil retail music store corporation located a few blocks away.  For those who have never been, Tiburon is on a small stretch of State Street where there are two or three restaurants a few blocks away and even those close fairly early, there is another bar, Don's John, for which I have a story for another time...not a kid friendly one either, but how many of my stories are actually kid friendly?  *side note...poo-poo, pee-pee, ca-ca, tyrannosaurus-bitch-fuck...there you go*

The air outside was simply chilling, but inside the bar, it was scorching hot and the dimly lit dark room was packed at 9:00 PM, which is generally a quiet time for most bars, but the Tiburon exists outside of the supposed laws of time and space.  What matters is that the bar was packed and my friends and I were lucky to secure two small tables where we intended to camp out for the entirety of the evening.

I was in charge of buying pints for half of the group, and I shuffled my way politely around the mass of highly intoxicated older folk who gathered near the bar.  Guns and Roses blared through the sound system and the bartender skated back and forth like lightning, beads of sweat trickling down the man's face as he frantically poured drink after drink.  Thankfully, most of the lingerers near the bar had drink in hand and were merrily shouting at one another, and I succeeded in catching the bartender's eye to place my order.  Moments later, I had my four beers and took two of them to the table, and turned to grab the other two.

Just as my fingers felt the cold wet surface of the glass, I noticed a woman on my left, who I assumed was waiting to place her own order.  The reason that she caught my eye was because she was easily 6' 5", had braided pigtails and easily outweighed me.  In fact, the woman made me look puny in comparison.  Not being one to stare, especially at someone who could easily piledrive me into the floor, I noticed that the woman was behaving in an odd manner.  I grabbed my final two beers and slowly made my way around the woman, who was staring, but not at me, instead she was staring through me; I did not exist in her world.

I handed the beers to my friends, not even really seeing them, as we all watched the woman blink rapidly several times before passing out where she stood as if she were narcoleptic.  She feel straight back like a monstrous telephone pole, clipping our table with one of her arms before landing with a thud on the sticky barroom floor.  The two beers rose from the corner of the table in their best imitation of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett as the table up ended itself and began to plummet the the ground.  "I'll never let go, Guinness.  I promise," I thought, as I somehow managed to save both pints from crashing to the floor to douse the woman, who was looking around attempting to discern exactly what the fuck had just happened.

My friends and I, eyes fixated on the woman, righted the tables and cautiously sat back down, as she proceeded to pull herself up...none of her group offered to help her, instead opting to stare drunkenly at her.  She shook the cobwebs from her head, grabbed her beer, which waited patiently at the bar, and continued drinking as if nothing had happened.  THAT was hardcore, and we were completely blown away by this.  Clearly bad juju had descended upon Tiburon Tavern that night, since it was only about 9:15 in the evening and the night had honestly just begun.

The music was loudly alternating between classics such as the Eagles "Take It Easy" and some of metal's best, such as Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," which was where the bar was apparently speeding towards that night.  Old patrons and new then proceeded to get into altercations, drunks from Don's John were pouring in, and finally around midnight, the bartender, who I believe was Irish, had reached the breaking point.

We were sitting at the table, fairly inebriated ourselves, but definitely on edge and nervous from all of the chaos, when we heard a shrill whistle.  The not-very-tall bartender then jumped onto the bar and yelled, "THAT IS IT TOBEY!  I HAVE HAD IT WITH YOUR SHITE!  GET THE FUCK OUT!"  He glanced around the bar for a moment, and exclaimed, "Actually...the lot of yeh!  Everyone...OUT!  We're closed!"  Amazingly, all fighting stopped, people chugged their drinks and one by one we all sulked out of the bar wearing the expression of puppy that had just piddled on the floor.  Even the brawlers had ceased there brawling, opting to head home in shame.

We decided to call it quits and went home.  Fun and games at the Tiburon Tavern.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Warlock by Writer/Artist Jim Starlin - part 2

After Warlock's simple-minded beginnings as the brutish, egotistical and immensely horny Him, and following his metamorphosis into the ultra-groovy Jesus Christ Superstar inspired Adam Warlock, Jim Starlin took control of the golden-skinned perfect man.  Instead of focusing on Warlock's past need to get it on, or his past Messiah leanings, Starlin instead sends Warlock into space as a self-doubting lone explorer unsure of his place in the grand scheme of the cosmos.

Warlock and his new costume.  Magus looms in the background.

During his travels,Warlock learns of the Universal Church of Truth, a brutal space-spanning religious empire, led by a supposedly all-powerful being known simply as Magus.  While he explores the reaches of space, Warlock becomes increasingly leery of the Soul Gem, a green vampiric jewel given to him by the High Evolutionary, and that is parasitically affixed to his forehead. Warlock also meets two beings who ultimately become two of his closest friends, Pip the Troll and Gamora--the lovely green-skinned assassin known as the most most dangerous woman in the universe.

Gamora - The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe
Pip the Troll and a hot blue woman.


The story immediately rockets forward with Warlock meeting his new friends, Pip and Gamora, and the trio openly opposing the Universal Church of Truth and the demagog, Magus.  Warlock then meets the Titan, Thanos, Gamora's employer, and--unknown to Warlock--an incredibly evil, power-hungry being in his own right, who seeks to further his own schemes.


Thanos and Warlock develop a camaraderie and possess enough power to pose a threat to Magus's rule, or so they believe.  When Magus eventually reveals himself, no one expected to find that he is actually a futuristic alter-ego of Warlock himself.  Possessing grey skin to Warlock's gold, and a purple and silver version of Warlock's older costume, and a formidable afro to boot, Magus may very well be all-powerful.  There is, however, a variable in his plan that he did not foresee...Thanos.

Magus, complete with 1970's afro.  He also looks like the character of Walter from the TV show Fringe.

Thanos exists outside the boundaries of normal time and space and was thus never a part of Magus's past.  Together with Gamora, Pip and Thanos, Warlock escapes his original destiny and succeeds in eradicating the timeline that would produce his diabolical alter ego, reshaping entire universes to a reality that never bared witness to the Magus or witnessed the rise of the Universal Church of Truth.

Warlock with Thanos and Magus squaring off.

The group all go their separate ways, and Warlock finds himself in increasingly odd situations as he continues to search for his purpose among the stars and to control his vampiric Soul Gem and learns that the jewel has siblings.  It is during this brief interlude where the pacing and excitement of the series falters, just a little, before picking up the momentum once again with the reintroduction of Thanos.

After mastering control of the Soul Gem, Warlock learns first hand of Thanos's treacherous nature when he finds Gamora dying from grievous wounds inflicted by the mad demi-god.  He also discovers Pip lying on the floor, alive but permanently mindless.  He absorbs his friends' souls so that they can be with him forever.  Thanos has acquired five of the six Soul Gems and the gold-skinned man returns to earth to enlist the aid of the Avengers to stop Thanos from destroying star after star.

The heroes descend upon the demi-god in full force, but in the midst of the battle Thanos mortally wounds Warlock and steals his Soul Gem.  Another spacefaring Avenger, Captain Marvel, finds the dying Warlock lying in the rubble, when another out-of-timeline Warlock, steps up and takes Warlock's soul into his Soul Gem, where he finds himself in a Utopia and in the company of Pip, Gamora and all of the other beings who's souls he had taken; he has finally attained love and belonging.  When all seems most dire, Spider-man releases Warlock's soul from the Soul Gem to save the day, before he returns to the peace of the emerald paradise within the jewel.

This page was difficult to read.


Jim Starlin's re-envisioning of Adam Warlock made him somewhat of a cult hero among comic fans with his original issues finding reprints in Warlock Special Edition in 1982, then again in 1992 with the Warlock Limited Seriesand finally in a hardcover Marvel Masterworks Warlock Volume 2 edition that is somewhat pricey and not that easy to find; here's hoping that a trade paperback is released someday soon.  Plus, these are not the only instances of work with the characters of Warlock, Thanos and the rest that Starlin created.  Like a butterfly, that bursts from its own cocoon, Warlock is literally a figure defined by metamorphosis and rebirth.  Each time he emerges from his own cocoon, he evolves, for better or for worse, into a newer different being.

Although I loved such tales as Starlin's The Infinity Gauntlet (I will definitely write about that one someday) and the current use of Warlock and Thanos occuring in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Thanos Imperativewhich sees Warlock taking on the guise of Magus once again and a third time (?) reborn Thanos joining with heroes to stop him, I always return to Jim Starlin's original run.  I loved the only-one-of-his-kind golden man, desperate to find his place not just in the world, but in the grand scheme of everything, and the tormented loneliness that pursues him until he does find friendship in Gamora, Pip and even Thanos for a fleeting moment.  When he does find purpose, it is to protect everything from the worst evil that has ever threatened the universe...himself.  

Jim Starlin's Warlock is the ultimate of cosmic drama, or space opera, or whatever term is popular to use these days, but it is the hero epic at the core, with impossible quests, attempts to return home, love, treachery and the inevitable tragedy.  This is not to say that the series is all doom and gloom, for there is adventure, excitement and at times Warlock succeeds in prevailing against all odds.  In the end he actually does win in the paradise within the Soul Gem.

I lump Warlock in with The Micronauts as one of my oldest favorite comics and it continues to be an immensely fun and engaging story.  Also worth noting is Starlin's incredible artwork, which beautifully tells the tale and consistently gives a sense of urgency that I had not seen in any work prior to Warlock.  At times the layouts border on psychedelic when dealing with Warlock's madness, but those scenes only help the story progress and help the reader understand this rich and complex character.  I also appreciated Starlin's thoughts on the perils of fanatical religions, the quests for power and how the two often times move in tangent, which are views that coincided with my own even when I was a very young teenager.  

Warlock is one of the all time greats, that I recommend to all comic fans who love science fiction and space dramas.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Warlock by Writer/Artist Jim Starlin - part 1

Yesterday, I talked a bit about how inspired and honored I was to attend a San Diego Comic Con 2008 panel devoted to Jim Starlin and mentioned that I absolutely loved the character Warlock.  Although Starlin did not create the character--that honor belongs to Stan Lee and Jim Kirby, and Roy Thomas and Gil Kane...back to this in a moment--Starlin was the one that defined and made the spacefaring hero important.

This one is a tad pricey, but there are cheaper reprints.  Nice duds, Warlock!
The golden-skinned hero known as Warlock was not always the strapping, fashionable fellow shown in the picture above, his origins actually began with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a character called simply Him.  Him was created by a group of scientists called the Enclave who sought to make the perfect man and to make themselves perfectly wealthy.  The Fantastic Four got involved, an island blew up, the Enclave had to cease lobbying against healthcare reform and later jumped back in the game by creating the perfect woman named...uh...Her--for some creative guys, they were none too bright in the name picking category, but to be fair she was first called Paragon--and Him took off into space because he was feeling kind of horny.

Now, if I was just born/created in a cocoon as a full grown cerebrally-challenged golden hunk of burning love, what kind of woman would I choose to be my...girlfriend?  I know!  A goddess!  Which is what Him decided to go for, but unfortunately that goddess was the Norse goddess Sif, who was also Thor's main squeeze.  Bad move, but Him was not the brightest at that point in time, and should have checked for a single Valkyrie or two before trying to steal the lady friend of someone who was way out of his league; Him could have also taken the time to invest in some pants...just a thought.  Him, of course, got spanked bad by Thor through his itsy-bitsy-teeny-weenie-solid-red-tight-bikini briefs and he curled up in his nice warm cocoon and flew off into space to heal.

Warlock was part of the storyline for issues  178 - 181.   No Messiah imagery here.

This is the point that writer Roy Thomas and and artist Gil Kane picked up the reigns on the character, and had the super scientist The High Evolutionary discover the cocoon and evolve Him into the much more socially graceful Adam Warlock.  I am not too familiar with their run, other than what wikipedia says, which is that they wanted to revive Warlock as a type of Messiah and that Thomas had loved the music of Jesus Christ Superstar and wanted to bring the essence of the story to comics.  I did, however, read the Incredible Hulk issues, which were quite good, focusing on a fallen-angel type Man-Beast and Warlock's struggle to prevent the High Evolutionary from destroying the Counter-Earth (a duplicate earth...don't ask) and stop the Man-Beast and his evil plans, while HULK SMASHED.

* the rest tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010 Begins Tonight...Jim Starlin and Warlock

Sigh...damn...expletive...worse expletive...atrocious expletive that would get me fined by the FCC.  San Diego Comic Con starts later this afternoon and as I have mentioned a couple of times earlier, I am not going.  I will be at work.  I will be home making gruel.  I will be disappointing the dog with my lackluster ball throwing and lack of general enthusiasm.  I will be annoying Amy with long sighs and even more responses of "I don't know" than usual.

Tulip says, "That was some worthless ball throwing, you mopey son of a bitch."

Again, this is highly irrational behavior, and in looking at the programming scheduled for the event and the people appearing, there is not much that I am dying to see.  Most of the guests and lectures that I am interested in center around the industry, creating and law implications, with a few speakers like J.M. Straczinski who I would like to hear again, but these panels would most likely not fill to capacity or require hours of waiting to get into a hall...unless there was a Twilight panel of some sort afterwards to discuss the state of Jacob's abs in the next film.   One other thing is that the Suicide Girls will be there and I feel that my not going might disappoint them somehow--they really liked me the first time I went to the comic, seriously, they really did goddammit, I could tell.  I just could.

" promised you would come back...under the proper medication of course."
Part of me wishes that Hollywood and the gaming industry would butt out of the whole affair and leave the convention to what it is supposed to be about--what it was actually named after...comics.  Don't get me wrong, some of the movie stuff is insane and interesting and cool and I loved to listen to Joss Whedon speak tremendously, but the con is filled with movies and television events and booths that have nothing to do with comic books, writing or drawing.  Maybe there should be a way to separate the movies and trailers and screenings and such for the evening when the comics related programming has ended and the devout fans of Twilight and J.J. Abrams (the former not to my liking and the later definitely to my liking, respectively) can stay up past their bedtimes and into the wee hours of the night so that I can listen to comic creators, artists and novelists like Max Brooks, Ed Brubaker, J.M. Straczinski, Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon and the creator of one of my all time favorite characters, Warlock, Jim Starlin.

Jim Starlin's 6 issue reprint series blew me away.  Great space opera intrigue.  I still love this.

The 2008 San Diego Comic Con was absolutely mind blowing to me, not just because of the J.M. Straczinski panel that inspired me to pursue writing, crank out a novel (first of many), begin screenwriting and look at comic scripting, but because I was able to listen to one of my heroes, Jim Starlin, speak.  Mr. Starlin did not say anything earth shattering, or have an all-you-can-eat bagel bar with lox and cream cheese or anything, he simply talked about his life as a creator, the industry, advancements in the fair treatment and pay of comic book talent that he spearheaded, and about some of his creations.  He discussed Warlock, Thanos, Captain Marvel and many other characters that I have adored for years, with Warlock being central among them all.

The panel had a fair amount of people in attendance, but it was by no means filled to capacity and it was a smaller room than Hall H of the convention center, which I do not believe I have ever set foot is where the big screening stuff goes down: Lost, movie previews, etc.  I could have just as easily skipped Jim Starlin's talk to wait for two hours to attend the Paramount movie trailer extravaganza in a massive hall and still possibly not get in, but why would I come all the way to San Diego to see a bunch of trailers for some gore-porn, comedy, action-adventure, or, if I was lucky, a science fiction/super hero movie that might be terrible.  Hell, I was able to see a writer/artist who drastically affected me back when I was a child and who continues to inspire and impress years later.  Seriously, there is no contest to what is more important to me and I hope to go to the Comic Convention next Washington or San Francisco where the focus is on what I love the most: Comics.

Regardless, I still feel sad about not going, though.

*note...tomorrow I will do a mini review of Warlock by Jim Starlin.  If you like science fiction, tragic heroes, terrifying villains, and great stories, then this is the book to get.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Long Road to Piccadilly Square

Yesterday, I was so wrapped up in remembering my beloved first comic book shop, Andromeda Bookstore, that I completely forgot to write about Piccadilly Square.  I also neglected to mention the State Street Arcade and Woolworths as well.

Once a week during the summer, when I was around the age of fourteen, and my brother Jeff was around the age of ten, we would walk from the La Cumbre Junior High area all the way downtown to Andromeda Bookstore with several stops along the way.  We would oftentimes try to coordinate the very long walk with the June gloom so that the time spent under the oppressive summer sun was minimized and we would be a little less roasted, but the heat was oftentimes unavoidable.

During the summer, we had a slight amount of extra money above our small allowance from various dog sitting, pigeon and chicken feeding, and lawn mowing jobs that we could find and goddamnit we were going to buy some comic books.  We would pass the market on Mission Street, which I believe was called Fernando's for our return trip, and walk through the stretch of boringness until we finally hit the State Street Arcade.

The State Arcade was a massive video game arcade located across the street from the Granada Theater and it had every cool video game that we could imagine.  Jeff and I would set aside a couple of quarters so that I could play a quick game of the nigh impossible Bagman or Mario Brothers, and Jeff would play some sort of animated video game that had something to do with Lupin III called Cliff Hanger; we were usually done in fifteen minutes or less.  Like Twilight the movie, going to the State Arcade was an exercise in restraint and on occasions abstinence (which I would need to be involuntarily familiar with for years to come).  I was usually angry that the crab had taken Mario into its clutches or that the cops had captured the bagman attempting to steal the gold bag, and the temptation to cash in another dollar to give them another go was excruciating, but we would generally just watch a couple older kids play before making our way to the next stop Woolworths.

We would usually only spend about five minutes in the now long dead Woolworths to check out their toy section, and wander around the fairly beat up department store.  The lunch counter that many people seem to remember fondly, was always admittedly enticing, but we had places to go and little money to do anything with, so we were quickly on our way.  One thing to note is the once great Earthling Bookstore later replaced Woolworths and Jeff and I always stopped by to check out the science fiction section and the huge selection of magazines were simply awesome--we both agreed that we wished that we lived there.

Our final stop before the glorious Andromeda Bookstore was Piccadilly Square.  Piccadilly square once stood where the ever droll Paseo Nuevo (which translates to either "new walkway" or "same old shit as every other city in the US" depending on the language you are translating from) which currently forces chainstores to close due to the high rents.  At the time, Mel's was just around the corner and Piccadilly was odd in that it was comprised of a store collective that was open air with very few walls.  A single step inside and we were greeted with women's dresses, a few feet later, we were in a separate purse area, then men's clothes, then jewelry and so on.  The building itself was...duh...a big square and I believe that it occupied the better part of a block.  Jeff and I would head to the second level first, where there were odd pieces of furniture that we wished our mother could afford and a room of science or illusion (I vaguely remember this) was upstairs and we would check out the mirror tricks in complete awe.  The real prize, however,  was downstairs near the center where the game shop was and Jeff and I would look at the various chess sets, play with the metal logic puzzles and drool over some of the Dungeons and Dragons type items; over twenty years later, I would be working for the game store.  Finally, there was also a candy shop that we would idle over, but we rarely ever bought anything.

From there it was on to the ultimate destination, Andromeda Bookstore, where either the majority of our funds would be absorbed or we would leave empty handed, with no books of interest having been released that week.  The walk back was very long, doubly so if we had nothing to show for all of our efforts, but there was one final stop before we made it home...Fernando's.

Fernando's was a little liquor store on Mission Street that still stands, although it has changed names.  This store was the best.  Jeff and I would pool our resources, and buy whatever we could afford ranging from the following items:  Blueberry or lime Slush Puppies, extra-spiced potato logs, Willy Wonka Dinosaur Eggs, Daredevils, Wacky Wafers or Volcano Rocks.  This final stop made the entire trek worth all of the effort, especially if I had a Micronauts or Miracleman comic and Jeff had his Daredevil.  Ah...the good old days.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Andromeda Comics and Piccadilly Square

My last entry about Mel's Lounge reminded me about Piccadilly Square, which got me to thinking most importantly about Andromeda Comics, the store that provided my brother and me some of the best comics ever created, as well as a place of some of our fondest memories.  Andromeda was located in De La Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara and was very easy to miss if one did not know it was there.  When Jeff and I walked in with our $2.00 weekly allowance, we wold bypass the tiny and packed front room of sci-fi and fantasy novels, making a beeline directly towards the much larger back room where the comics were kept.

The store was glorious.  I can faintly recall the slight smell of mildew, dark flooring and the complete lack of natural lighting.  When we walked in, we were greeted with the L-shaped display case that separated customers from the left and back wall where all of the back issues were kept in longboxes and were available for perusal only by request.  On the right wall was the expanse of wall racks where all of the latest new releases were displayed, with the far right back corner containing the indies and the XXX fare that I occasionally would sneak glances at.  Above the new comics area and vaulting up the wall close to the ceiling were bundled comic book series that the owners had tacked to the wall--I found Contest of Champions, Vision and Scarlet Witch, some Daredevil issues and countless other comics well out of our price range.

I had to learn to climb a rope before my mom bought this series for me

My brother and I must have driven the poor store workers insane with our constant requests to bring out a longbox of Chris Claremont's X-Men comics so that we could see all of the ones that we were missing and those that we desperately wanted.  Andromeda is where I also found all of the remaining Micronauts comic books that I missed between the time that the series went from being sold at grocery stores and newsstands to being sold only directly through comic shops; I cannot begin to express the happiness I felt to finally continue the series that had only improved over those years.  My brother happened to be a Daredevil addict, primarily the Frank Miller issues, and he found them all at Andromeda.

This is the issue of Micronauts that I found after issue 37!

During that time, I was also introduced to many of the series that changed the course of comic book evolution, as well as what it meant to be comic book reader.  I was introduced to Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, The Swamp Thing, Miracleman, and countless other vital books that even today are touted as some of the most important works ever created in the super hero comic medium.

This comic changed everything.

A few years later, in the mid-eighties, a Goleta Andromeda Bookstore opened on Calle Real and although half of the store was for books, the other half was devoted strictly to comics and was almost as good as the downtown store.  It was here that I met Mike Baron, Stan Lee, attended a comic book auction and discovered Neil Gaiman's Sandman.  I loved the store, but to be honest, it could not compare with the downtown location, which was closer to our house, not as humongous in square footage, and had more of "Santa Barbara secret" feeling about it; it felt more like OUR store.  Unfortunately, the Goleta Andromeda did not last very long and closed it's doors a year or two later--it was just too big and too generalized in it's product scope.

This comic continues to rock the goth kids' world

Andromeda on De La Guerra, soon shut it doors as well so that it could open a new location on the ever costly and local business destroying State Street.  This store was great and had a lot of space as well, but looking back, that was probably working against it, since square foot lease rates are Kryptonite to any business (i.e. local businesses) that need to make money to survive and not write off the losses as marketing expenses as I suspect is the case of the big chains that now litter our city.  Also working against the store was the comic implosion of the nineties, where, like the housing market crash a few years ago, gamblers...sorry, I meant investors...sought to buy the slew of multiple covers and really BAD comics and become rich overnight, which did not happen for most people.

Another contributing factor to Andromeda's impending demise was that Metro Comics opened a few blocks up the way--off of State Street--and with what I assume is a much cheaper lease...Andromeda finally closed up shop in the early nineties.  It was a little while before this time that I had actually already defected over to Metro on the day it first opened.  It felt more like the friendly neighborhood comic store that I had loved so much as a kid and even though the store has since moved across the street, I am still shopping there twenty years later, and despite the uncertainty of the digital age of comics, I hope to be shopping there twenty years to come.

I still miss Andromeda, tucked away in its little nook, and before downtown had morphed into the multinational high rent chainstore soullessness it is today.  Goodbye Andromeda, I will never forget you or the fact that you introduced me to some of the best comics ever created.  Thank you for the good times and the fond memories.

*note* At one point in Andromeda's history, one of the founders Ralph Holt split from Andromeda to open his own store in Ventura called Ralph's Comic Corner, which is also a GREAT comic shop.  I usually make it down there once or twice a year just to look around.  Definitely worth a visit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good Old Scary Times Down at Mel's Cocktails

Anyone who has lived in Santa Barbara long enough, has some sort of memory of Mel's Lounge, which was shut down in 2008.  My friends and I used to love frequenting the little-bar-that-could and often talked about how in the face of the looming creation of the Paseo Nuevo Mall of boringness, Mel's stood it's ground refusing to sell and the mall was forced to literally build around the tiny bar.  It always struck us as odd that beautiful, unique Santa Barbara chose to level places like my beloved Piccadilly Square for a mall comprised mostly of multinational chainstores that can be found in almost any city across the US.

Of course there are some local restaurants and an occasional locally owned store here and there, but those seem to only have the staying power of a year or two tops, before ultimately shutting down to make way for another business foolish/bold enough to believe that they can afford the exorbitant leases inflicted upon them.  Mel's, however, lasted longer than anyone would have ever expected it to and many were sad to see it go.  I, myself, had many fun times there, whether I was with one friend or a group, or if I was starting the evening or ending it, but there were a few times that things became a little too weird even for my tastes...and I am not referring to the time that my friends and I, after a wild night, slept over at my house, set the alarm for 6:30 AM and went down to Mel's for their 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM happy hour.  (God, I still get the shivers with that very, very cold.)

Here be good drinks and crazy people
One night, a group of about five of us were down at Mel's for a pre-drink before the Zelo's 80's night, and were generally hanging out, chatting and having a good time, when I began to notice that the man sitting near us a little further down the bar was having some sort of issue with us.  He was in his fifties and had a weathered look about him, with a deep tan and heavily lined face that aged him more than he should appear and he was muttering to himself.  I wasn't sure at first, since my hearing is not the best as a result of too many loud concerts, but I was picking up a common theme from his mutterings, primarily the word "queer."  I turned around to look at the man, who refused to look at me, only to sit smiling widely and staring at the liquor selection across the bar and slightly nodding his head as if he understood something the rest of us did not.

Sure enough, the second I turned back to continue chatting with my friends at our little table, I heard the man a bit more clearly muttering, "Heh...heh...heh.  Goddamn queers.  Yeah.  Heh...heh...heh."  My friends noticed my face twisting up in confusion and I told them what the guy was saying and that he was acting very weird.  The man then stood up, still refusing to look at any of us, shook his head very slowly like he was in on some sort of ridiculous joke and sauntered up to the bar to take one of the empty barstools.  One of my more devious friends convinced me to get up from the rest of the group, and join the weirdo at the bar with the condition that if the man said anything else bad about us or gays that we would offer to buy him a drink and see what he would do.  This was apparently enough for the guy and with an annoyed look, he got up and left the bar.

On a separate occasion, I was again with a group of friends and sitting at one of the little tables.  The bar was nearly empty, when an older man, again in his fifties, came out of the tiny billiard room to stand immediately behind us.  This crazy person was dressed all in camouflage clothes, was wearing a trucker's hat and had a duffle bag that stood about three feet tall.  He stared individually at each of us for a second or two longer than is comfortable before he said, "You all should fear me."
Collectively, we blanched.  Here we were minding our own business and some wacko is telling us that we should fear him, which at this point we were.  For all we knew, his bag was loaded with guns or a machete or something equally terrifying and we were all about to die.

Thankfully, the bartender, an older woman with glasses and a very diminutive stature, came out from behind the bar next to the man that was about a foot and a half taller than she was and said, "Alright.  I have had enough of your shit.  I have told you countless times to knock it off and you DID NOT LISTEN.  DID YOU?  Now get out."  The odd thing was that as scared as we were of Mr. You-Should-Fear-Me, he was doubly scared of the bartender and with a string of apologies--to the bartender, not to us--he beat a hasty retreat out the door, duffle bag and all.

I honestly stopped going to Mel's as a result of more and more incidents like the ones I mentioned occurring on a more frequent basis.  Even though I stopped going there, I still wish that it was around, and it was definitely better than the flip-flop store that opened up and took its place, that is for sure.  Oh well, I will always remember the fun times at Mel's Lounge.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Bus

It's an odd and funny thing how memories are triggered.  Just a few minutes ago, I was out at the Greenbelt of the Damned (see my earlier entries about this) throwing the ball for Tulip and generally having a good time, when I looked across the ravine to see a kid riding his bike on the bike path.  This in turn makes me think of Woodstock's Pizza, which gets me to thinking about how green and beautiful the grass is, which triggers a memory of rabbits, which all lead me to remember the act in Creepshow II with the guy that says, "Hey lady.  Thanks.  Thanks for the ride."  This phrase sparks a memory of when I was attending UCSB and had to use the bus to get to class and back.

"Hey Donist, what do all of these thoughts have in common?" you might ask.  Well my ever faithful two readers (Hi Mom.  Hi our friends' dog Obie.), the answer is simple.  Beats the fuck out of me.  No idea.  That's just how my mind works, but it was the thought of my days of riding the bus that sent shivers of terror down my spine.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am completely for improving public transportation and a lesser reliance on cars in general, but back in the day, riding the bus was an ordeal.  It was not the long wait times between buses, or the somewhat randomly strewn bus stops hidden throughout the city, it was my fellow bus riders that gave me cause for concern.

I cannot even begin to remember how many times I had missed the express bus and needed to take either the 6 or the 11 to work or class.  The problem with these two lines is that they stopped everywhere along the route and never hop onto the freeway to cut travel time.  This is fine, since they were meant to cover the main parts of Santa Barbara and Goleta and a traveler could go from one mall to the next with ease, provided time was not an issue.  Unfortunately, the 6 and the 11 had a higher ratio of whack-job to calm-submissive individual than the express bus did and I witnessed it all.

On many occasions, I would board a relatively empty bus, and have a seat to myself, only to have some crazy person get on at the following stop, make eye contact with me and proceed to sit in the seat immediately next to me.  He/she would then stare at me for the remainder of my trip.  Keep in mind that there were plenty of other empty seats available for them to choose, they just decided that sitting next to me was the way to go.  From there it was a mixed bag of drunken attempts at chit-chat about how the person hates ____ (fill in the minority), proselytizing for what had to be a sex cult for Jesus, crazy conversations of which I was not invited to participate, or they would just stare silently at me, which had to be the most unnerving of all.  I quickly learned that if the bus had plenty of empty seats, the best thing to do was to take the one next to the window, block access to the other seat with my backpack, and the moment I saw someone that looked sketchy or that looked normal yet had a walkman with headphones, I would lean my head against the window and pretend that I was asleep or recovering from my own evening of debauchery.

Although my sleep schtick worked every single time and protected me being dragged into unwelcome one-on-one situations, that did not mean that crazy shit was not going on around me at all points in time. One particular day, I was riding on the 11 and it was fairly packed, with only a handful of seats available, when a very odd older woman boarded the bus.  She was older, with a wart on her chin, a black scarf tied around her head revealing a few wisps of graying black hair, dark sunglasses, and mostly black clothes save for her long skirt that had gray patterns etched into the fabric.  She also had a miniature cart for toting a single bag of groceries, although it was stuffed full of a random assortment of odds and ends.  The bizarre part about this woman is that she had a post attached to the little cart that had a cartoon witches head affixed to it, the kind that can be found in people's windows around was June.

Hmmmm...okay, a woman gets on the bus at the beginning of summer, dressed all in black, looking like a witch and carrying a sign with witches head that looks, oddly enough, kind of like her; although without the green skin.  She was older, and there happened to be a free seat at the front of the bus, but another woman had put her bag of yarn balls on the empty seat.  Witchy-Poo asked--kindly I need to add--if she could sit in the seat and if the woman would mind moving her bag of yarn balls, and guess what...the woman refused.  Witchy-Poo was incensed and shook her witch face sign at the woman before turning away in a huff to find another seat.  A few stops later, Yarn Ball Lady got off the bus and the witch woman said in a loud ominous voice, "Wicked creature," and again shook her witch sign at her.  I would have laughed if I wasn't so blown away by the random weirdness that had just played out.

Another time, I was sitting outside of my evil music corporation store and waiting for the bus to campus when an incredibly attractive woman sat on the bench next to me.  We smiled shyly at one another and as luck would have it, the bus pulled up, but, being my luck, the woman was waiting for different bus.  I stood to board and noticed a sketchy bum walk up to sit next to the woman.  I turned back to look at her just in time to hear him say, " looks like it's just you and me kid."  The beautiful woman's eyes opened wide in worry just as the bus door closed and it pulled away off towards UCSB.
Goddamn, who in their right mind actually says something like that?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka (W) and J.H. Williams III (A)

Batwoman: ElegyI finally found the hardcover graphic novel of Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III, and it was worth every penny.  My local comic book store was sold out, neither Borders store could locate the copies that were supposedly there and I did not have the patience to order the book on, and suffer through waiting; I ended up waiting anyways.  It took a third attempt at Borders before someone went to the back and found one of the three in-store copies that had been sitting there for five days.

Batwoman: Elegy was originally released as Detective Comics issues 854 to 860 and I, of course, was late to the party on those issues as well, with almost all of them selling out immediately.  Thus I waited for the hardcover so that I would have something beautiful to showcase on my bookshelf, along with my Captain America Omnibus, Invincible Iron Man Omnibus and my signed Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 1, 2 & 3.  Now that I have the book in my grubby little hands, I am very pleased and almost hesitant to crack open this beautiful work of art.

The book begins with a great introduction written by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and the layout of the introductory pages is beautiful as well.  The book itself is something that needs to be read three times: once for the highly engaging writing and superb storytelling from Greg Rucka, a second time for the gorgeous artwork of J.H. Williams III, and a final time for an immersion in the complete story--artwork, writing and all.

Kate Kane is Batwoman, a young tattooed, Jewish lesbian with extensive military and martial training, who is in possession of an extensive arsenal of equipment and weapons provided by her father, who she refers to as "Sir" and "Colonel."  While at military school Kate's involvement with another female student is discovered and despite having the highest marks and aptitude, she refuses to hide who she is and chooses to leave the military life that she loved because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Kate's discipline coupled with her father's remote guidance and intel makes her a formidable vigilante that few villains ever hope to stand a fighting chance against.  She is fairly brutal in her treatment of criminals, but like Batman, she will not kill.  I absolutely love her.

The first half of the story concerns a Lewis Carroll inspired villainess, who goes by the name of Alice and is absolutely insane.  She has come to Gotham City as the new leader of the Religion of Crime and is bent on wiping out a good portion of the city's citizens through the use of military-grade chemicals.  With the help of her father and some unlikely allies, Batwoman sets out to thwart Alice's deadly plans, but through the course of the conflict she learns a terrible secret that neither she or the reader will ever expect.

The second half of the book centers around the origin of Kate Kane from childhood to when she becomes Batwoman, and includes some of her relationship with another vigilante The Question, Renee Montoya.  This part of the book is interesting in that J.H. Williams III chose to use an art style that is similar to that used on Batman: Year One (also an excellent read), which is a telling of the caped crusader's earlier adventures.  This chapter provides the history of what drives this rich and complex character and is startling with some of the critical reveals.

The story is incredible with plot twists that I never expected, and J.H. Williams III's artwork is masterful and counted among my other favorites John Cassaday, Tony Harris, Dave Mckean and Darwyn Cooke. Prior to the release of this book, Greg Rucka has left DC comics to pursue his own creator-owned projects, but J.H. Williams III is slated to take up the writing and art chores for the first story arch of a forthcoming new Batwoman comic series.

A definite must own book for anyone who enjoys the Batman mythos, compelling writing, stunning artwork, beyond strong female characters, or all of the above.  Batwoman is also the highest profile gay character currently put out by DC comics.  I hope that she is here for the duration.  Very, very highly reccommended.


Monday, July 12, 2010

New Douchebag Exhibit At the SB Zoo!

"You just missed it," said Amy as I walked up the concrete ramp to meet her in front of the birds exhibit.

"Missed what?"  I asked, unsure as to what she was talking about.  "I saw the snow leopard sleeping up in the corner.  See, right there."  I pointed to the sleeping snow leopard.

"Not him.  Her..." Amy whirled around to point out a new creature that I had inadvertently passed, but it was gone.  "Huh, that's weird.  I could have was right there."

"What was right there?  I see the Asian tourists, and some flamingos behind them, but that's it."  

"No...while you were looking at the Snow Leopard, I caught a glimpse of...well...I believe it's called a douchebag."

"Really?!" I exclaimed with a mixture of excitement and disappointment that I had not spotted it.

"Yeah, I am fairly certain.  It was a female of the species."

"C'mon.  Are you sure it wasn't just another person?" I asked, knowing that Amy sometimes gets her animals mixed up.

"Sweetie, I know a douchebag when I see one.  This one was about 5' 2" tall and probably weighed as much as you.

"Really?!  Did it have any other sort of markings or distinguishing features?"

"Of course it did.  I can't believe that you actually missed her.  She was wearing a blue towel-like halter top thing, had big bushy brown hair, shades and she yelled at the snow leopard." Amy made a gesture that signified a halter top with an expansive circumference.

"No way!  What did she yell at the snow leopard?" I asked, completely disappointed I had missed the creature.

"I think she yelled, 'C'MON...GET UP AND DO SOMETHIN' YA LAZY GOOD-FER-NUTIN'.  GAWDAMMIT.  WE PAID A LOT OF MONEY TO SEE Y'ALL.'  She also had an accent."

"Nooooooooo.  An actual Midwestern douchebag and I missed it?" Now I was really disappointed.  "Those are quite rare in Santa Barbara.  We usually only see the common California douchebag."  I shrugged my shoulders, fully accepting that I might have missed a true gem.  "Well, maybe she'll resurface at some other point.  With any luck, there is a male close by and possibly some of their brood.  Wouldn't that be something?  Oh well, let's go check out the poison dart frogs."  We walked on to watch some tortoises eating a pile of kale, and we found the poison dart frogs, which were my favorite animals of the day thus far.  

Hand in hand, my wife and I continued our tour of the zoo, until we eventually stopped to see the penguin exhibit.  We watched the beautiful birds for a few minutes, when I heard the faint cry of the young Midwestern douchebag.  

"...DON'T CARE.  Y'ALL SAID THAT AFTER THE MONKEYS I COULD HAVE UN ICE CREAM BAR, AND I WANT UN ICE CREAM BAR NOW!!!"  Bellowed a voice from somewhere near the gibbon exhibit.  

Excitement sparked in Amy's eyes.  I grabbed her hand to hurry us past the elephants with the hope of witnessing an actual Midwestern douchebag feeding, but unfortunately we were too late.  "Aw have got to be kidding me.  I missed them again.  How can they move so fast?"  I glanced at the gibbons, who were anxiously swinging on the ropes and the tree branches of their island.  They were visibly disturbed by the recent proximity of the screaming creature that had just been dragged off, presumably by its mother. "It has to be a Midwestern douchebag.  Who else would blatantly ignore the 'Please talk quietly' signs that are posted everywhere.  Well, I guess the native California douchebag would ignore the signs too.  Oh well, let's check out some of the other animals and hope that one shows up."

The sun began to finally poke holes in the dense fog that had covered the zoo for most of the afternoon, and we went to a zoo food stand to gather a recommended seafood guide detailing the types of fish that are environmentally and health consciously acceptable to eat from restaurants, and generally enjoyed the atmosphere of the rescued bald eagle and California condor exhibits.

We walked a little ways past the rattlesnake display and we came to the gorilla exhibit, where we heard a disturbance up ahead and noticed some uncomfortable looking zoo patrons.

"HEH.  HEH.  HEH.  C'MON NOW.  TURN AROUND!  LET US HAVE A LOOK!  DAMN, YOU CAN'T JUST SLEEP ALL DAMN DAY...HEH.  HEH.  HEH," called an honest-to-gosh adult male midwestern douchebag.

"Amy," I said, leaning over to whisper in her ear.  "Look!  I see one.  I see one."

Amy nodded her head in fascination and awe.  "Wow, you're right...Oh, oh, oh...look there in the blue it's the female that I told you about, and that large young one must be one of her brood."

I looked around madly from our vantage point, yet I could not see what she was pointing at.  "Damn, where?"

"Right there."  She pointed and I still shook my head.  "See the stroller?  The abnormally large one keeps putting its hands aggressively all over its brood-mate's face.  See?  The smaller one is getting really angry and its parents are ignoring their young...I believe that is common for those animals."

"You're right.  I see them now, a whole family of them.  And look at the impressive size of the adult male.  And those markings.  It looks like white Sketchers shoes, tan cargo shorts, some sort of American beer t-shirt or an eagle or something, and a fauxhawk.  Simply amazing, and oddly beautiful in a disturbing way."  I squeezed Amy's hand, and she squeezed back.

"And look how red his face is," she said.  "He must be very sunburnt, or possibly very intoxicated, but that can't be.  It's only 2:00 PM."

"He's probably both.  I saw on The Discovery Channel that the Midwestern douchbag is prone to drink when the sun comes up, and the California Douchebag is more likely to be coming off a drug binge from the night before--that's probably why we haven't seen any of them yet today."  The male leaned even further over the wooden fence to get a better view of the gorilla, which seemed to worry the other onlookers, prompting an elderly couple to escort their grandchildren away from the area.  "Oh look, I think he is going to call again...," Amy said.

"HEH.  HEH.  HEH.  HEY GORILLA.  C'MON NOW.  DON'T TURN YOUR BACK ON ME.  TURN AROUND!  SHOW US WHAT YOU GOT!  HA.  HA."  The male howled at his cleverness and his mate laughed uncontrollably as the the brood-mates continued battling, this time pulling each other's hair and screaming; even more people began to drift nervously away.

Amy and I looked at each other and decided that it was time to go, minding to not cross paths with the uncaged animals, who we agreed would make a wonderful addition to the empty exhibit just to the right of the Giraffe area.

"So," I said, "what was your favorite animal?  The Midwestern douchebags?"

"No, I liked the otters.  How about you?"

"Hmmm...not the douchebags.  I have to go with the poison dart frogs."


Friday, July 9, 2010

Donist the Forgotten

This one might get me in a bit of trouble, but hell, I said I was going to be honest, and in hindsight, it is rather funny.

Once upon a time, Donist was working hard for the wicked music store corporation and having his spirit crushed by both the company and the psychotic customers.  Donist stood at the counter with a somewhat miffed air, while the shift manager was writing him up for being $.87 short on his cash drawer.  Tom Cochrane's evil song "Life is a Higway" was just cuing up for third time that day and Donist was counting the minutes until he was able to go on his lunch break to Harry's Plaza Cafe for a giant container of steak-cut french fries, when Jenn announced that he had a phone call.  Donist signed the write-up sheet acknowledging that he would be more careful in the future and that death was too good a fate for those that costs the company money and removed the phone from off of hold.

"Hello," said the annoyed young man.

"Dude, what's up?  It's Jeff," said Donist's brother from the other end of the phone.

"Hey man, what's going on?"

"Dude, I was thinking that we should go to Fresh Choice and catch that new movie Dumb and Dumber.  Whada-u-sey?"

Now here was something to bring a smile to Donist's face.  It had been a while since he and his brother had spent time together, and to plan something so extravagent as going to Fresh Choice with the prospect of sneaking a couple of large muffins out of the restaurant in a napkin was quite enticing.  Couple that with hilarity from Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, there was no way that the evening could go wrong.

"That would be cool, man.  Can you come get me?  I am off in four hours at 5:00 PM."

"I'll be there at five.  This will be cool."

"Later," said Donist ignoring the disapproving look from the very same manager that had just written him up.  Now he was doubly in trouble for committing the unthinkable violation of the company's policy of receiving personal phone calls during business hours.  "Can I go on my break now?" begged Donist, after spotting Crazy-Dog-Hair-Lady parking her car.  Not wanting to be anywhere near the store while the foul odoriferous woman perused the classical music section, Donist got lucky yet again and was granted his leave.  He deftly ran the gauntlet of the store to hang his dirty ill-fitting red vest in the back and retraced his steps out tthe front door.  It was then that the manager noticed Crazy-Dog-Hair-Lady, but it was too late for her to do anything about it.

Donist ate his steak-cut french fries and ranch dressing in peace and quiet, with dreams of Fresh Choice and finally seeing the hit comedy.  He could picture in his mind his brother charging to the rescue in the bright red Ford Mustang II Classic, which a mutual friend had deemed "The Ford Flaccid" in acknowledgement of its continual need of repairs.  All that was required of Donist was to man the video rental section, find lost copies of The Bear and alphabeize the porn section and he would be finished in no time at all.

5:00 PM rolled around and hopeful young Donist washed his hands of the porn section grime and clocked out for the day.  During the final half of his shift for the wicked music store corporation, Donist had informed his friends and coworkers of his plans for the evening and he was sent on his way with words of encouragement and envy.

"Hey Donist, let me know how the movie goes," said Paul.

"Dude, steal as many muffins from Fresh Choice as you can, and be sure to skip the salad...I hear they spray the lettuce with a chemical that makes you fuller than you should be," warned Mark.

"Say hi to Jeff," said Rita.

Donist practically skipped out the front doors, but quickly noticed that young Jeff was no where to be found.  Not being one to worry, Donist had a seat on stone wall outside of the store and waited for his brother to drive by.  He waited.  He waited some more.  Then he waited even longer.  A dreadful seathing rage began to build and after half an hour, Donist called his brother's apartment and left a slightly irritated message on the answering machine.  He then returned to the stone wall to wait for another 15 minutes.

Donist's coworker, Sarah, eventually poked her head outside and said, "Still no sign of him?  Huh.  I'm off in 15 minutes, would you like a ride home?  I just need to sign my write-up sheet for being $.45 short on my cash register and I will be out."

"Yes please," he said in a cold, dark defeated tone.

Once at home, Donist relayed his plight to his housemate, Jason, who said, "That sucks.  Do you still want to go to Fresh Choice and see the movie anyways?  I totally want to see Dumb and Dumber."

Donist thought about this for a moment, and said, "Yeah, let's do that," since he had already been excited for most of the day.  He and Jason jumped into the van known as "Space Cruiser" and as they whipped around the block, both men noticed the Ford Flaccid pulling up in front of the house.

"Hey look, there he is.  Should I stop," said Jason as he prepared to turn towards downtown.

"No," said Donist icily, "Forget it.  Let's go to Fresh Choice."

The pair headed to restaurant for a gut-busting meal of excessiveness unlike anything the restaurant chain had ever seen before.  They did eventually return to the house before heading to the theater and found Jeff waiting on the stairs for them.  After kindly reminding Donist of the movie's start time, Jason rushed inside so that he would not be subjected to the harsh words about to pass between the two brothers.  

As it turned out, there was no reason for Jeff to have left Donist outside of the wicked music corporation's store, he had simply forgotten to pick him up.  "But you called ME!  You made the plans with ME.  How the fuck could you have forgotten?" Donist inquired of his guilt-ridden younger brother.

"I don't know.  I'm sorry," Jeff replied.

Still fuming, Donist and his brother gathered Jason and went to see Dumb and Dumber, and the laughter found within healed the rift that occurred...for the most part.

Moral of the story:  Don't make plans with Donist for an elaborate feast, followed by festivities only to leave him stranded outside of a wicked music store corporatio...he might get mad.