Thursday, September 21, 2017

GOSSIP GORE ONE

The obvious topic is the corporate Anti-Ray Speen, Roy Spoon (formerly Roy Spain.) To escape the stigma of Our Nameless Decades, Pantheon Books, on Jan. 1, 2020, will publish 40 books at once by Mystery Man Spoon ("'It' Boy of the Twenties," "Voice of Our Time," ) including novels, poetry, science fiction, Westerns, sex mysteries, essays, memoir, and prophecy. The publisher can expect to dominate all best sellers lists for a year at least and Spoon will soon be accepted as an immortal. He's a 27 year-old trans-man, from Kansas USA, no less! Expect a Nobel Prize for Spoon by age 50.

According to anonymous sources, "Roy Spoon" is not one man but instead an army of 100 English Majors creating Immortal Masterworks for a half-cent a word and no royalties or credit! My world and welcome to it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Broadcast Football Rankings 9.19.17

Welcome to the third installment of the BFR – Broadcast Football Rankings – September 19, 2017

1. Clemson Tigers
2. Penn State Nittany Lions
3. Oklahoma Sooners
4. Alabama Crimson Tide
5. Washington Huskies
6. Wisconsin Badgers
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys
8. Virginia Tech Hokies
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. South Florida Bulls
11. Florida Gators
12. Washington State Cougars
13. Ohio State Buckeyes
14. TCU Horned Frogs
15. San Diego State Aztecs
16. Michigan Wolverines
17. Louisville Cardinals
18. Oregon Ducks
19. Southern California Trojans
20. Texas Longhorns
21. Mississippi State Bulldogs
22. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
23. Vanderbilt Commodores
24. Miami Hurricanes
25. Florida State Seminoles

It was an exciting week in college football (aren't they all) with a little more definition—though, really, at this point, you can tell just about nothing. Here in the BFR rankings, very little change on the top and the bottom (Miami and Florida State still not playing, drag! And another hurricane on its way). A lot of changes in the middle, though, teams in and out. Next week, sure to be more upheavals. We predict some huge upsets (you'd be a fool to not predict upsets—but who, exactly?) —best, H. Houndstooth

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Broadcast Football Rankings 9.12.17

Welcome to the second installment of the BFR – Broadcast Football Rankings – September 12, 2017

1. Clemson Tigers
2. Penn State Nittany Lions
3. Oklahoma Sooners
4. Alabama Crimson Tide
5. Washington Huskies
6. Georgia Bulldogs
7. Southern California Trojans
8. Wisconsin Badgers
9. Virginia Tech Hokies
10. LSU Tigers
11. Oklahoma State Cowboys
12. South Florida Bulls
13. Michigan Wolverines
14. Louisville Cardinals
15. Washington State Cougars
16. Kansas State Wildcats
17. TCU Horned Frogs
18. Utah Utes
19. Ohio State Buckeyes
20. Oregon Ducks
21. Auburn Tigers
22. Stanford Cardinal
23. Florida Gators
24. Miami Hurricanes
25. Florida State Seminoles

Notes: After two weeks of college football you can tell so much more about how much you can't tell yet, which is ultimately nothing. For all the journalists who are already predicting which teams will be in the “playoffs”—give it a rest. Why don't you just turn college football into the next March Madness in your pathetic fantasy sports world? For everyone who is blaming individual players (anytime, but especially already), there is a special place in Hell for you. For everyone involved in sports gambling (I mean as a business, where you profit on this), there is another special place in Hell for you. There are a lot of special places in Hell; it's not clear if they visit each other. I hope so. I made a point not to change the rankings of the teams that had to cancel due to the hurricane, that's a drag. Hopefully next week will be without natural disasters, but I wouldn't count on it. What I do count on is the upsets and surprises will continue to surprise us, and if they upset you, maybe you should switch to a boring, predictable sport like the NFL. 
--Yours from a special place in Hell, H. Houndstooth

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Broadcast Football Rankings 9.5.17

Welcome to the first installment of the BFR (Broadcast Football Rankings) – September 5, 2017.

1. Clemson Tigers
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
3. Michigan Wolverines
4. Penn State Nittany Lions
5. Oklahoma Sooners
6. Ohio State Buckeyes
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. LSU Tigers
9. Wisconsin Badgers
10. Washington Huskies
11. Auburn Tigers
12. South Florida Bulls
13. Virginia Tech Hokies
14. Georgia Bulldogs
15. Oklahoma State Cowboys
16. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
17. Southern California Trojans
18. Louisville Cardinals
19. Washington State Cougars
20. Utah Utes
21. Iowa Hawkeyes
22. Kansas State Wildcats
23. Florida Gators
24. Miami Hurricanes
25. Florida State Seminoles

Notes: It's hard to tell much after only one week of football, since some teams started out playing closely matched opponents, while other teams played schools who merely cobbled together a team for the occasion. But a lot more was evident than BEFORE the first week, and that didn't stop the Ass. Press from coming up with rankings—based on what? That you won a national championship four years ago? Anyway, here is the first Moss Problem BFR college football ranking. If you don't agree, here is whose butt you can kiss: H. Houndstooth

Monday, September 4, 2017

THE GREATEST COMIC BOOK OF ALL TIME by Matt Seneca


DC Showcase featuring Manhunter 2070 #91. By Mike Sekowsky with Vince Colletta. DC.I show this comic's cover in a board and bag above because that's how it first appeared to me: in a fifty cent bin like all the rest, sandwiched between shrapnelled issues of Secret Society of Supervillains and Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure. I love what boards and bags do to comics, how new and special they make them look. They remind an overanalyzer like myself that for a lot of people these things are fetish objects, bought and preserved and read hurriedly, furtively even, powerful secret totems that are not to be questioned. I used to read comics like that. I miss it, but there's no going back. The board and bag did something especially wonderful to this particular comic. Sitting there in its preservative coffin it looked for a second not like a Silver Age relic by the first dude to ever draw the Justice League, not like one of the old beater books that you always find in the discount bins. It looked almost of a part with the rest of the comics, the superhero detritus of 1999-2007 or so. 
And yet. If I saw a modern superhero comic with that cover I would fucking flip my shit, you know? That completely assured, completely unselfconscious mixture of cartoon and realist drawing, that strangely looping title script, that giant corporate logo in the upper left, the expressionist masks of those alien faces. The way the light passed through the plastic of the board and bag onto that gloriously non-unified color scheme, lime green and blood red and desert yellow mixed together into a way of pictures that we haven't seen in years. It's all here, and so casually. Code-approved. I bought it, looked inside.
Maybe it's just because living in the times you live in makes them feel more urgent and self-important than they actually are, but I can't remember much casual experimentation within the mainstream over the past half decade. Brendan McCarthy's outta-nowhere shorts aside, it's like Jemas-era Marvel was the capstone for a tradition that pulsed long and heavy for the years that ended there and started, well, about here. This comic was released in mid-1970: Marvel had definitively stolen DC's biggest-publisher crown, the undergrounds were waning, pretty much every superhero franchise that's still around today had been created. It was the beginning of lean times for mainstream comics, the comedown off what will all but certainly forever remain the hero industry's greatest moment biting in hard. Things had changed in comics, and things would change more still. The quasi-underground publication Witzend was reintroducing the theory of artist over character to a mainstream that'd abandoned it since compiler Wally Wood's salad days at EC Comics, testing creator-owned genre strips like Steve Ditko's Mr. A on an audience that, like the material, gravitated toward an area somewhere in between the scruffy total-freedom undergrounds and the suffocating banality that the heroes were already falling victim to.
In time, independent publishing would gain its foothold in comics by exploiting this very territory, offering the more talented, further-out Marvel and DC hacks an arena to go a little wilder, throw down a little harder, get paid a little more. Books by companies like First and Eclipse, by creators like Jim Starlin and Mike Grell and Howard Chaykin, may not look all too different from the rest of the genre crop in the brilliant light of today's fusion-comics world, but the simple opportunity to drop house style from the stories and cape'n'cowl inflection from the art kicked off a movement that hero comics are still feeling the benefits of today. The Frazer Irvings, the JH Williamses, the McCarthys can only find a place in today's Big Two because the genre books that stretched a little past the boundaries proved it's really okay not to look like Kirby or sound like Lee. In one of the most creatively repressive areas of comics, they proved that you could do your own thing and still make some money at it.
But before that it was a lot dicier. There's a reason the early-mid '70s are littered with so many far-out gems of bizarro expression that seem like they should never have been a part of mainstream comics: they shouldn't have. The Howard the Ducks and Fourth World sagas weren't Marvel or DC's province, but given that those two were the only game in town and, like I said, it was a failing market, some of the business leaked through anyway -- usually in places like Showcase, the venerable DC new-title-tryout book that round about a decade earlier had given birth or rebirth to the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Atom, the Justice League, ad nauseam. If Mike Sekowsky, the career DC workhorse whose oeuvre stretches back to the high Golden Age and spans a million competently-drawn comics, many of them starring famous characters, had wanted to do his Manhunter 2070 book ten or fifteen years later, he would have done it as a slick, ongoing creator-owned at Eclipse or somewhere similar. It fits right in with the orbiting space-junk that the early independents traded in, excellently drawn by a craftsman who put a bit more time and thought into it than usual, production value a little higher than average, eschewing the flying men for another, equally hackneyed genre -- just as long as no one's wearing a cape, for godsake -- and covering up the strange sense of absence inherent in superheroless comics drawn by a superhero artist with a breeze of extra inspiration.
The difference between MH2070 and the raft of similar books that followed in its wake after a decade's interval is in the style of the thing. Where the best books of the '80s creator-owned boom (Chaykin's American Flagg, Rogers' Captain Quick) pointed their visions far into the future -- such that they've only begun to feel "modern" in the past few years -- Sekowsky's book is stridently of the past, incorporating none of the emblematic '70s grit and scramble for higher ground or even any real influence from the Marvel Age cats. No, stylistically, Manhunter is a classic-era DC book through and through, a science-laced permabulation through the stars drawn in the rarefied, technically superb Infantino/Toth house style. The calendars will tell you this book's less than 15 years removed from American Flagg, but where it counts the temporal distance is more like half a century.

And that's what makes Sekowsky's book so interesting. He's playing the same song he always did, probably the only one he knew how to play; but the exhilaration and verve he puts into his moment in the spotlight -- with good colors, with no heroes, with no writers -- nonetheless belongs to a tomorrow he would never be a part of. Standing on the teetering platform between the two eras, an artist rooted in the past, pointing to the future, he draws...Let's take a look.
 Right off the bat, this comic hits a little different than its contemporaries, discarding the obligatory opening splash in favor of a simultaneous-image montage full of white space that sets the pictures in an infinite background. No panel borders: it all just floats there, not tied together but somehow still cohesive. I know I just said that Sekowsky doesn't display much Marvel influence in this book, but this page is the first of a few notable exceptions, all of which point to the study of one Marvel artist: Jim Steranko. This comics page-as-mural approach looks to my eyes like a definite attempt at a Steranko-style presentation switch-up, though done in a rickety, asymmetrical way that lacks the graphic design verve of the master. It's still interesting, though, the planets sprinkling out into the text and the cartooning styles switching up fast and furious on the alien-thug portraiture. 
If more proof's needed as to the Steranko derivation, check out that bit of destroyed rocket ship at bottom left. The chiaroscuro and detailed machinery go back to Wally Wood, but the tight, technical Cubist pen detailing on the rockets is pure Steranko, as is the bold use of color against massively spotted blacks. 
It's important to note the Steranko influence on this book, especially given how Sekowsky leads with it: in 1970 Steranko was the furthest-out artist the mainstream had ever seen, and it would be a few years before the next generation really emerged to walk in his footsteps. (That next generation, of course, would provide the mainstream-moonlighter backbone of the early independents with not a few significant vertebrae: Starlin, Rogers, Chaykin, Steve Rude, et al.) Until then it was all stuff like this, somewhat uncertain bats at the bold new style Steranko had crammed his pages with. Still, in '70 even the most rudimentary Steranko alignment was some kind of a statement, as Neal Adams and his subsequent followers had emerged to steer mainstream comics art back into a more traditionally illustrative, exaggerated-realism mode. Look at a comic nowadays: that's the stuff that won out, boring lines and figurework not pop art and colors. Sekowsky puts himself on the losing team from page one, but man does that space-fragment look gorgeous to me.
Page 2 panel 1:
The Style of Mike Sekowsky. This stuff is mad derivative, mixing more-or-less-equal parts Toth subtractvism, Infantino designy staging, Caniff black-spotting with a workmanlike slapdash quality and liberal bits of whoever-was-inking-him (Vince Coletta in this case, the trademark thin pen line very much in evidence). Somehow it's a beguiling mixture, putting spiky angles where Caniff and Toth favored soft shapes (the mountains) and going all cartoon-minimalist on the figures and equipment. Stuff like the almost-sketched faces, the lack of holding lines on the spaceman in orange's left arm and his silhouetted hands, the naturalistic-yet-stiff body language of the alien -- it's obvious Sekowsky can really draw. That he chooses to forgo detail in favor of the rich environment and strange atmospherics of panels like this one only testifies to it.
Page 3 panel 1:
The cat at lower left is Starker, our hero, the titular Manhunter. A grizzled, driven battle vet of few words and impeccable taste, he recalls Steranko's Nick Fury and brings along a very Steranko-esque panel. Tilted camera, hot girls used as scenery, flashy space background, and the big intruding op-art device of the monochrome die: it's all part and parcel of the Jaunty Jim playbook, and making the protagonist the kind of motherfucker who puts all his cash on black 13 the first time we see him goes right along. Starker, though, whether through total naivete or immensely well-calculated subversion on Sekowsky's part, ends up as a crazier character than even Steranko ever managed, as we shall see.
Page 3 panel 5, page 4 panel 1:
Ahem, as I was saying. This cad is bringing back not one but two intergalactic space-skanks to his private, luxe orbiting satellite! Then you turn the page and get an explanation for it which I imagine the editors thought was there to lend a modicum of decorum to the whole bit, but which, um, are you kidding me? This smooth silver fox has been hired by a rich daddy to chaperone his two spoiled party-girl daughters across the galaxy? Okay whatever, maybe forty years ago it actually didn't occur to some readers that there was sex going on in the background of this comic, but nowadays, please, and that backstory makes it so much worse! Look at how tall they are in comparison to him, look how unsteady on those high heels, look at what the girl in the black is wearing! These are two teenagers spending their vacation being tutored in the ancient arts of love by a violent, sexy old bachelor. Comics do not get much more inappropriate than Manhunter 2070.
Also, dig the colors on Starker's spaceship in the top panel -- nobody's credited for the job, this book being a product of the dark ages, but those visible brushstrokings and that violent contrast between the orange and blue were not at all common for the period. This is only one of many panels where it's obvious that the colorist was really going for it in a way that just didn't happen on the mainline Marvel/DC stuff at the time.
Page 6:
All right, I'm about to get all Freudian, but this is just mind-boggling. Read it, man: these two nymphs in inexpertly applied, Colletta-girl makeup are trying to get Starker to stick around for, well, we can guess, but y'know, duty calls since this isn't that kind of comic. So they settle for a peck on the cheek and admiringly watch him speed off to adventure because he's just that rock hard all man. It's a scene that plenty of other comics from Caniff on down have used.
But I'm sorry, there is just some crazy fucking sexual subtext on this page. Sekowsky can't help but let a "big boob" flop out into the dialogue as this girl in a costume right out of Georges Pichard plants a big wet one on Starker, which is enough of a brush with pure masculinity
to get her apparently basking in a warm, orgasmic afterglow in the next panel. As a giant penis shape protrudes from her face. And then look right and read some of the most hilariously loaded narration is comics history. I'll repeat it, it goes: "And the two girls watch STARKER ZOOM OFF into the VELVETY BLACKNESS." Emphasis mine. Dude, a guy named Starker who makes a habit of zooming off into velvety blacknesses? Coupled with that picture? What more could I add?
Page 10 panel 6:
Okay, so he goes to collect the bounty on some bad guys, who are holed up on a planet where everything is viciously carnivorous. This is a picture of flying piranhas trying to eat through Starker's air bubble to get to his face's flesh. Which is cool n shit, but just look at the real meat in this panel, the intense punk/abstract art design of the composition. The staging of the previous panels makes it easy to tell what's going on here, but the near-total lack of any figurative elements, the exploding fury of the black shapes radiating outward from what we can just identify as a human head, the jagged overlapping, the fierce green background and the red raygun! This is way past pop art, we're approaching Gary Panter territory. Colletta's scratchy inks help out quite well here, too: when what's required is the opposite of slickness that guy is your man!
Page 11 panel 1:
Another exploration of a similar theme, with the flying piranhas now being devoured by flying barracudas before they could get through Starker's spacesuit. This is a really incredible panel, Sekowsky's depth indicators flashing across the frame intermittently rather than resorting to the usual solid backdrop. Or at least here the solid backdrop is the figure itself, the ostensible focus of the panel, with the hero's face popped out in pink against an unforgiving blue field. The shadows of Starker's spacesuit, especially at the bottom, also deserve a mention, their shapes echoing the black shapes on the fish themselves, filling up the panel with what isn't actually there and adding greatly to the disorienting whirl. That half-a-face sliver of humanity right in the middle of the cyclone is phenomenal: he's really hiding, curled up in his armor, and Sekowsky brings the facial detail in a way he hasn't in previous panels to really nail down the acting, the unmoored feeling.
Page 13 panel 1:
This is just a really interesting composition. Drawing's pretty good, I love the spotted blacks on those mountains, but what really impresses me is how much depth comes across when it's not actually there in the picture. For Starker in the background to be that big in comparison to the bad guys in the foreground he's gotta be crashing what, like less than fifty feet away. But Sekowsky makes it seem like a significant distance with everything he puts between the shot-down hero and the human villain closest to us: color masks over the two villains behind him, pushing them way back into the frame even though they're standing right next to him, and then a big wash of black that cuts the hero's figure off even further.
In comics, two depth fields behind the foreground is usually like trees, mountains, or building, city skyline -- miles and miles -- but here Sekowsky uses that convention to trick our eye into adding distance that isn't drawn in. He does it for the most utilitarian of reasons: he doesn't want to sacrifice the detail of Starker's fall to earth by drawing him as a tiny little dot against the sky, and beside that he's got a killer scene with some carnivorous rocks (yes) to squeeze in before the evildoers can catch up to the leading man. It's just fascinating how adroitly he achieves that, without even trying.
Page 15 panels 3-5, page 16 panels 1-2:
This is such a great action sequence. It's very well-drawn, of course, with a wonderfully harmonious mix of claustrophobic linework, rich spotted blacks, and open colored space; but it's the staging, the blocking-out of the action and the body language that really makes it for me. It's totally relentless. First we get the slow, unusual slithering snake-like motion in the first panel, all tension and build, and then everything explodes out of the barrel of a raygun in one single static instant, a giant pop that's followed by another as the camera swings into a totally wild angle, the background falls to heavy-benday brown, the only motion in this frozen snapshot of a panel coming from the weirdness of the composition and the crunchy scuffle of marks around the villain's space-sled. After these two stamped-down quick hits we veer wildly into the extreme physicality and gesture of the next panel, with its contortionist body language, and the figure animation of the next, with the still camera recording an immediate reaction to the previous panel's action.
It's a disorienting flurry of techniques chopped up and employed with a masterful craft and attention to detail, about as far from the blazing impacts of Kirby or Adams as you can get, but the kinesis in the scene's staging, the roving, digging camera and the dead-on, solidified figurework sells it nonetheless. Excellent stuff.
Page 16 panels 6-8, page 17 panel 1:
A super-creepy death scene that gets over almost entirely on suggestion. I'd imagine any modern artist would've been unable to resist the intensity of a full-on closeup of the cannibal ants swarming over Lester here's agonized face behind the plastic air bubble, slowly picking away the flesh as they went, but Sekowsky had to deal with the Comics Code and there was no way in hell he could have gotten away with that in 1970. What he improvises, though, with some key help from the colorist, is even nastier -- more suggestion than depiction, in the classic horror mode. The nauseatingly fleshlike color and texture of the grubs as they swarm into the spacesuit is unsettling enough, but the desperate, theatrical plight of the villain's figure as he runs away, dripping death-bugs and flanked by screams is truly horrible, and the camera's full 180-degree swing around him as his motion's cut off by death is a deftly considered bit of composition, as is the shrunken, skeletal form that can no longer fill up the spacesuit. Then, the money shot -- not a gory blood-mask but the white glint of a shadowed skull, picked as clean as the plastic shield surrounding it -- really pounds in how bad a number the ants did on this poor sap. (I'm actually kind of surprised this panel got through the censors... thank god it did!) The sudden blue sterility of that last panel after the hot pink and purple of the previous ones is another nice touch.
Page 17 panels 2-5:
Another sweet bit of action, with Sekowsky again favoring a separated action/reaction approach instead of the more typical, robust figure interactions of Kirby or Ditko. The clean-ass right angle of the opposing forces in that top panel make its pop just terrific, and then Starker's graceful body language and the sudden starbursts of energy going off around him as he blasts back really sell the aerial, gravity-free setting of the battle. That third panel is pretty great, too, a nice chunk of totally comic book-abstract picture making.
Page 21 panels 2-4, page 22 panels 1-2:
And here's another example of Sekowsky producing an interesting effect despite being forced away from the most logical path by the kids'-comics mores of his times. The panel we all want to see is Starker just burying that sword in the dragon-thing's eyeball, blood and vitreous humor spurting, beast howling, knuckles white. But again, in a DC comic of the time there's just no way. Instead of that indelible point-of-impact panel, which is what belongs in 22.1, we get something else: a near-repeat of the previous panel, layering more exposition, more wait, more tension onto the space between that massive, baleful eye and the sharpened sword-point. Look at those two panels -- it's the exact same moment drawn twice, the angle widened and ramped up in the second panel to really grip you before it...
Before it lets you go with a rather disappointing after-action panel to wind things up. It's anticlimactic because the times demanded it be, but Sekowsky's innovative cross-page panel-doubling really works the moment over nonetheless.
Page 23 panel 2:
Really great, legitimately intriguing cliffhanger, an incredible rarity for its time. Even these days most genre books hook you for the next installment by foreshadowing some action face-off in the works, rather than a character revelation. Let alone the fact that -- even still! -- such character motivations are almost never revealed. Why does Hal Jordan fight crime as the Green Lantern? We, uh, haven't gotten to that issue yet, but Sekowsky's bound and determined to make his Manhunter a more interesting character than the average masked dope by his second book. This is another place where MH2070 really bears a resemblance to the early creator-owned action books: interest in who the heroes were as people was a big hallmark of '80s genre comics, but it was very sparse indeed before then, and this is a pretty special treat, considering.
Page 24 panel 5:
Hang on, we're not done quite yet! Three additional pages follow the end of Starker's feature adventure, the first two of them constituting a quick-hit enslaved-by-aliens story. It's pretty nothing, most resembling those page-long Hostess cupcake ads, but it works as a way to introduce a formula to the Manhunter's adventures: here, as in the feature, Starker battles some alien creepazoids before hauling them in to the law for a nice bounty. It's also got this panel, which is a further display of Sekowsky's unusual flair for action. Concentrated entirely on the receiving end, with no figure interaction at all, it stands up thanks to Sekowsky's note-perfect posing, not to mention the almost photorealist shaping of the shadow on the floor. It's not much in terms of actual motion, more a thick block of solid weight positioned so precariously that we can't help but feel its instability.
Page 25 panel 4:
Power Plus Purple is the street name for a particularly potent strain of marijuana grown in Oakland, and judging from this comic book I wouldn't be too surprised if Mike Sekowsky himself was in on that little tidbit too.
Page 26:
The last page of the book is a full-page ad for the next issue, constructed in much the same white-backgrounded, borderless manner as the first. It's a great exercise in one-page storytelling all by itself -- Showcase got canceled with #93 and I wouldn't have been too surprised if Sekowsky wasn't sure his next comic would ever see the light of day, because he packs a whole issue worth of story into here. It's worth noting also that this isn't a house ad that ran in all the DC books -- this is Sekowsky consciously choosing to draw an ad on the last story page of his comic, which is pretty fascinating if you ask me. It's reminiscent of Brendan McCarthy's one-page ad "Pop!" (still the best comic that guy's done this century): aestheticaly unified with the rest of the issue, but using the form itself to point aggressively at the new, at what comes next. Like this whole thing, it's tied down into a present that didn't have much place for it, but it didn't shrink for a second from the future in which it would finally find a place.

MORE HAPPY DEATH: 1945 FOREVER

> >Subject: A KIND OF TRAP, TRIPPED!
> >Date: Tue, 03 Jan 2006 00:00:03 -0500
> >
> >A world like ours opens a little around you.
> >You cry out for Sporty Spice.
> >She was already here but
> >She's not going to answer now.
> >Our Sporty Spice reclines across A-Bomb Little Boy.
> >She hears you. she can't help but hear you.
> >She can't help but she hears you....
> >

Introducing the BFR: Broadcast Football Rankings

Even though I have the biggest satellite dish allowed by the FCC, it has come to my attention that the only sports left on broadcast television are football and golf. It is my personal opinion that college football is the finest sport out there, but it has been severely compromised by the introduction of the Bowl Championship era, as well as sports betting. Therefore, we here as the Moss Problem have introduced a new ranking system called the Broadcast Football Rankings. (BFR.) This is an anonymous and secret board of sportswriters who will come out with a new ranking after each week of college football, which will then be posted here by Moss Problem reporter, H. Houndstooth, along with a rundown of the recent action.

The BFR ranking will not take into account or be influenced by Las Vegas odds, sports bookies, or organized crime, which we feel has absolutely no business being part of amateur athletics. Furthermore, we will crown a National Champion in the first week of December, following the major conference championship games. We will then consider the college football “bowls” exhibition games, having no bearing on the championship, as they have been corrupted with the big money and gambling influence of cable television and organized crime. It is our sincerest hope that this change, and this new ranking system, will bring the college football fan back to the long past excitement and accessibility of this great sport.

—Anthony Franciosa, Editor, The Moss Problem, September 2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

SPORTY SPICE EXACTS HER POUND OF FLESH

Stalkers and Serial Killers are Easy Prey for Our Superstars. Mystery Men and Baby Dolls and Punks and Punk Rockers, All are Dispatched with a Disarming Alacrity. The Cute, the Lovable, None of You are America's Favorite Pastime (What is? Swinging Baseball Bats at Random Skulls?) My Loveliness I Wear Like a Death-Mask and for Religion I Worship a Corpse on a Cross.

I am Sporty Spice. I Fade and Glow.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

SHAM "PIOUS" POEM


>>>>FEELING KIND OF FUNEREAL
>>>>Me, ordinary axe-murderer.
>>>>I must enjoy a rocknroll atmosphere. I love to love ya baby love to whatever oh baby yeah.
>>>>Leaving Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, destination La-La Land. I see it all.
>>>>As long as it's hallucination, man, I've seen it all. I'm your hip priest.
>>>>Jesus is cool! Smoke dope in church! Maybe a mustache would help.
>>>>Maybe Fu Manchu-style would insure street-level credibility.
>>>>This Mad Dog 20/20 is the Blood of Christ.
>>>>This Little Debbie Snack Cake is the Body of Christ.
>>>>The Sign of the Cross----Our "X" on a Mystery Contract----
>>>>Through a looking-glass, darkly.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

THROUGH WITH SPORTS


It has long been my mid-July tradition to enjoy two of my favorite activities at once on Wimbledon finals weekend: watching sports on TV and morning drinking. I usually prepare a bowl of fresh strawberries and chill the finest bottle of Champagne $10 will buy and tune into the live coverage of the women's final, mid-morning on Saturday. As the women's final, in recent years, rarely goes beyond two sets, I normally don't consume more than a glass or two, but on Sunday, the traditionally marathon-length men's final allows me to get through the bottle and then conveniently miss church!

I was fortunate enough, through the generosity of a special lady friend, last year, to attend Wimbledon in person, something I'll never forget. SLF has since moved on to deeper-pocketed pastures, so this year's tournament has been bittersweet, and also sad that I haven't been able to see a single match—so how much was I looking forward to this morning's final, featuring my favorite ass-kicker of all time, Venus Williams. Traditionally, regardless of the broadcast of matches throughout the tournament, the men's and women's finals have been network broadcast on this weekend, as they have the universal stature of the Super Bowl, World Series, Indy 500, and Kentucky Derby. So imagine my disappointment to find that the tennis is only available in ESPN—thus, not available.

Believe me, I have looked into what it would cost to have cable TV in my life, and even if it was something I wanted in my life (which I adamantly don't, except for sports broadcasting, as I don't need a thousand channels of garbage) I found that the cost of it would be more than the cost of a second car, which is ridiculous, seeing how I can't afford a first car (I mean one that, like, runs). If you haven't noticed, the money that's being allowed to separate itself from the wealthiest one-tenth or hundredth percent of the fat pigs has drastically reduced in recent years. That means less for us who enjoy baseball, which is also no longer on broadcast TV in my hometown (the Major League team having their own cable channel). When the people finally get around to burning down the government buildings throughout this country, maybe the fat pigs will all gather in a pathetic circle and mutter, “Hmm, maybe we should have kept using TV as the opiate of the masses rather than trying to switch over to the more profitable (for us) opioids as the opiate of the masses.”

As for me, I'm a sports fan, but that means sports on TV. I used to be collage football fan, but then they had to ramp up the greed, with each conference having their own cable network, and broadcasting almost all the bowl games (certainly all the good ones) only on cable. So fuck collage football, I said, and that was the last straw. But there was still collage basketball, and the NCAA Tournament used to be the best sporting event on TV all year, until they switched it to where 75 percent of the games are on cable TV. 25 percent is actually worse than nothing, in this case, so fuck the Final Four, and that was the last straw.

Then there is (was) the NBA, which used to be my favorite. It is now all but unwatchable. No, let me rephrase that, it's unwatchable. I have no interest, and maybe it's not the NBA's fault, because after watching these few great years (Celtics/Lakers, Pistons/Bulls) how can anything match up. But I'd still try to watch the playoffs, until they decided to put all of the playoffs (except for the finals) on cable TV, so I said fuck the NBA, and that was the last straw.

Except, as a (as I said) hopeless, massive sports fan, I still watch nearly anything. Well, I've never been able to get into ice hockey (maybe I should try) and things like bicycle tricks and crashing trucks in the dirt don't count, to me, as sports. But I actually watch NASCAR and golf, though both have gotten increasingly boring (and that means, booooring). And now, half the NASCAR season is on cable TV, so I said fuck NASCAR, and that was the last straw. Which pretty much leaves golf, a sport which currently musters its most excitement from Tiger Woods DUI reports. I have some nostalgia for Monday Night Football, which I'd never miss as a youth, but now since that is on cable (or was, or switched to Thursday Night or Saturday Night football, who can keep up?) and I can pretty much never see the games of teams I want to see anyway, the NFL is just not enough for me. And my favorite two sports, soccer and Formula 1, have never been on TV in this country.

So is that four or five last straws? How many more chances can I give to sports? No more. I'm sad to say it, because I want to be a regular guy, and I like the idea of sports as a live event in which the outcome is not known, but I'm afraid, for me to enjoy sports, it's all about the TV coverage. I must see it happen. I don't even care who wins or loses, I don't give a shit about stats. I like the game, visually (with sound—which is why sports bars playing silent TV with a moronic music soundtrack does not work for me). Sports IS sports on TV, for me. And since it's all now become, like a Lamborghini, a vacation in Hawaii, or dinner at a steakhouse, something I can not afford, it is over. I am officially through with sports, and if ESPN wants to interview me about it, fine, but I don't think they will, because I will say “fuck” on the air.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

NINETEEN NINETY-TWO

We were happy and we were sad. Now I'm an insane man writing in a coffee shop as if I was important, even this, it's not funny or insightful or even coherent. I want to have something to say, I want so bad to get something on paper, to feel justified finally, allowed to be happy and calm, but I am so scared of everything, especially this notebook. I've ripped out every marked page except the addresses of my friends and I've let down all of them. Maybe I could get started by writing a poem or story for each name.

Check it out, another ugly, awkward, useless idea from the workshop of Darius "At Least He Didn't Kill Himself Today" Smith! Heartsick, sad, stuck, and worthless, yes, but I'm happy. Not kidding.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cafe Corazon

Cafe Corazon - Riverwest (the distinction must be made because there is a Cafe Corazon in Bay View now) - is at 3129 N. Bremen Street, in a very cool old building that I had some dealings in, in the past - so now, seeing it completely transformed into something else is both pleasant and disturbing. I wonder if there is a word or term for that, when a building you are used to seeing as one thing gets turned into something else? Let me try to think of one: how about Brain Map Renovation. No, that's weird, plus I think that's a band. I'll keep thinking. Anyway, I was saying nearly 20 years ago that if I could start a business I'd open a burrito place in the Riverwest neighborhood, because there wasn't one, and it'd be a sure success, even someplace at Taco Hell level (and I don't even eat burritos). There is just a certain ratio of how many burritos you can sell in relation to how many bars, hipsters, and college students are in the vicinity, and based on that, this neighborhood could support about 1000 burrito places!

The good news is, this place opened, and it has good quality food, is delicious, they renovated the space nicely, the wait staff it great, out back is a bike path and a glimmer of nature, and it's not going away (hopefully). The only downside is, if you come here at certain times (like Taco Tuesday, Thaco Thursday, right before the Brain Map Renovation show, etc.) it's the Philadelphia Zoo. So choose your visiting hours wisely.


As usual, I forgot to photograph my food until I took a breath and was halfway through. I was excited to see Migas on the menu, since I have a particularly warm spot in my heart for that dish ever since I ate migas regularly at this place - oh, was it Kokomo, or Iowa City (you'd think I'd remember) - anyway, which was particularly delicious because it was made with homemade tortillas. This migas wasn't quite as good, but that's not fair, since, you know, nothing can compare to your first kiss, your first beer, your first six figure publishing contract. This was, however, delicious. But this seems like a good place to bring this up: nothing can compare with really tasty homemade tortillas, but they are a pain in the ass to make. Well, maybe not for the experts, but a lot harder than taking them out of a package. But it's worth it! Also, yes, this was from the breakfast menu, and I was thrilled to see that breakfast is served until really late (I think 3pm? Should have wrote that down). Anyway, the best breakfast is Mexican restaurant breakfast, it's great when it's served late. After all, hardly anyone in this neighborhood gets up before noon!

For more Mexican Restaurant reviews, visit Avocado Taco

Monday, April 10, 2017

FROM THE DESK OF A DULLARD

Thursday, December 1, 2016

SUBURBAN ZONE

Late Fall, 1984. For months a white sky, occasional cold rain, a cold wind from all directions. Nothing to look forward to except Winter. There is no love in this world anymore, but Dash remembers love, I remember love. 

My name is Esther,  I am 19. Dash is 17. He is my day and night and he has no idea how I feel. We are two homeless kids in suburbia. I'm sure that in a hundred years our lives will seem strange, important, and futuristic but today I am only cold and hungry and I miss Dash. 

Through the mist at the corner of Robb and Lora I spy a white utility shed adorned with a bold, beautiful, black Circle-A. I say a prayer to nobody and wait. Neighbors watch from every window. My blouse is spray-painted bright orange, my Levi's are tight and black, my motorcycle boots only heighten my mystery. After a minute of this fashion show, I spin around once and head three blocks over to Zig Zag. Church bells ring on and on so I sit on the sidewalk and smoke. 

Soon I hear Dash yelling my name, I stand, I see him running toward me. I put my arms around him. He's crying and pretends he's not crying. The rain comes down colder and faster. We don't mind. We start out on the long, cold walk to the city. It seems like it's a thousand miles away. Singing helps. I sing "Borderline" by Madonna first. We luck out and get a ride from a punk rocker, leather jacket, spiky hair and all. He drops us off at a run-down hotel. Dash and I share a room for a week. We don't even kiss once. Too sad. 

Later, Dash was elected President of the United States. We both found that fact hilarious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

WAR IS PEACE/LOVE IS HATE/CONFUSION IS SEX

Century 22 Reality, Worthlessville, Ohio.
I wonder if you'll ever know what I'm sure I'll never know, namely Thrill-Killing (Sporty Spice reserves all rights to attempted murder for her beloved Cincinnati Police Division,) Snuff Film Enthusiasm (S.S. has starred in too many "Real Live Murder" films to consider them anything other than a headache and a paycheck,) and lastly S.S. does not get high off of AIDS or Genital Warts or Whatever You Freaks are into Today.

Let Sporty Spice Kill at Will (You Can Trust Her! Really!) or Let Sporty Spice Be Disappeared! Re-Appeared! Our Ghost Queen! Hurrah for Nothing. As Ever.
----Directive One, Shock Squad Sporty Spice Ohio, Winter 2016-17, USA.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sunday, August 16, 2015

WINTER CARNIVAL

by Randy Russell

EVERYTHING HAD GONE WRONG. I couldn't find a job. And when I did, it was a bad job. My fishing pole broke. The creek filled with sand. My woman run away with another man.

It was a mild winter, though you wouldn't know it by my gas bill, and I didn't freeze to death. I was looking forward to taking the plastic off the windows. The only bad thing, besides everything, was that here it was April already,and there had been no snow. No snow all winter! Snow is what makes winter bearable, and even though this was Columbus, Ohio, and for all nintendo porpoises "The South," still, this was very unusual. And depressing. So when it started snowing that day I stopped what I was doing and jumped up and down at the window like the little kid I hope to be someday.

The next thing I knew I had my full winter gear on, even though it was too warm for it--in the mid-forties (too warm for snow I had thought,) and I was out in it, coming down harder and harder, looking like a damn blizzard even. Where would I go?

To the river, I decided, because water is the important thing, and if there's no ocean or lake, then the river is the thing. I stopped at Andy's Carryout on the way, even though it wasn't on the way, OK, I went out of my way to buy wine. A pint of MD 20/20, even though it was totally unnecessary because I already felt drunk and I already felt high, and what would wine do but make me tired and depressed? But it's habit, maybe, or ritual, better, and maybe important to keep me grounded, at least that person who was me, that year.

Being so warm, the snow was wet as rain, and I was soon soaked, but warm and even sweating, as I was so overdressed. And it was so heavy it stuck to everything and covered everything with ice and slush and actual thick white snow! Including me. I was trudging through snow by the time I got to the river and opened my wine and took a big swig. The wine tasted good even (it was the circumstances) and there was actually steam rising from the river, and it looked unreal, like the river to hell, or in a fairy tale. I started along the trail along the river, exploring, uncovering new territory, land never before seen by the drunken white man.

No one else was out--the world was empty. I would stop now and then and pull out my bottle and take a pull. It would warm me up. I was hot and sweating, and soaked from the snow. At one point I looked across the river, through the heavy mist, and I was lost. There was nothing, no one, no city, and I was rooted in no time period. I screamed across the river. It was silent. I screamed again, as loud as I could. Still no sound except for the snow hitting the trees and the silent power of the river flowing, which I knew.

I started running then, along the trail, going deeper and deeper into the wilderness-- treacherous, dangerous terrain. I slipped andfell--I slid down a snow hill--my foot went in the river. All of that.

Finally it was over. The trail came to an end. The wine ran out. I ran out of gas. The snow lessened, but was still coming down, gently and saner now. I worked my way back to a road. Then through unknown neighborhoods in the direction of home and a hot shower and dry clothes. Back to whatever it was that I was doing. back to where the evening had left off, and all my problems and hardships. But also the project on my desk. The project was the only thing that kept me from suddenly changing into another person day after day.

On my way back I walked past a house where someone was out amazed by the snow like me (and not merely complaining about its unseasonableness like hundreds of thousands more.) This guy had taken advantage of the incredible packing quality of the wet snow and had built an actual six foot high ice arch over the sidewalk leading to his house. I stopped and looked at the arch. It was something--something you walk under, walk through. I knew I could walk under the arch. I could walk through. I knew I could either walk through the arch or I could walk by--continue on and pass it by. I stopped and looked at the arch. I liked it. It made me happy. Then I turned and walked past, kept going in the direction I was going.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

ODE TO DARLENE LUSTIG

Darlene Lustig, protector of the defeated,
Raped in a jail, victorious for all time----

For her, I'll go to Mars,
And name the desert Lustig,
And the highest point Mt. Darlene.
But this doesn't matter----
Right now she's gone.
And this is really an impossible situation----

One night once she was in my room, she really was.
There was some risk to our lives,
But we slept together like madmen anyway.
We had money and we spent it,
In fact we had the world.
So we used it up.

The world gone, we stood side-by-side
On a summit, high on the fact that we didn't care,
Not about anything except each other.
And in the morning she went out
Into the desolate world
And she never-never came back.

This fraudulent weather is so sad.
This happy day so fake.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

"COLORFUL" WARS vs DOOMSDAY CLOCKS

1945 ruined August forever after. No more Central Powers vs the Entente, no more Crown Prince Franz Ferdinands shot in their touring cars or Rapes of Belgium, no more Russian Armies invading East Prussia, no more French Theories of Attack toward the Upper Rhine, no more "Which side will Italy join?" Now we commemorate A-bomb blasts. However, 11/11 worked wonders for November. Armistice Day, dammit!

Monday, July 6, 2015

THE CRESCENDO OF DOOM

SPORTY SPICE: "I'LL CURSE THE KING" "I'LL RAIL AT ALL HIS SERVANTS" PUBLIC SHUDDERS; FBI CALLED IN; ACLU RALLIES TO SPORTY'S DEFENSE    
Hi! I am Cancer! I am Plague! I am epidemic! Bjork said, "If you don't stop complaining/You'll face an army of me" Well, so far we're a corps, three divisions, SS/US Corps and after assembly tomorrow with our allies LOS ANGELES, ASTOUNDING/ANALOG, WORLDS OF IF, DARK DECEMBER, VAMPIRELLA, X-MEN, DOOM PATROL TEEN TITANS, et. al. it looks like you will face an army group of me. Call us: ARMY GROUP SENSELESS. Ciao! --S.S. 9/16/2001.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND REPEL PEOPLE

YOU ARE LUCKY! Fall Down Face-First on Your Sara Lee Cheesecake! Drive to the Strip Mall! ROCK THE U.S.A.! March For and Against Abortion! Throw Coins at the Fountain! WAY TO GO, AJAX!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

WE LOVE YOU


SS: ANATOMY OF A CRIMINAL STATE
Why does crime always have to result in evil?
Why can't crime be committed with the good in mind?
Can't the criminal be disciplined enough to use his cunning in a selfless way?
Overrun the weak, co-operate with the strong.
Life as a movie.
It could work but it hasn't so far, chiefly because of the prime movers involved: psychotic to a man.
"When I hear the word 'culture,' that's when I reach for my revolver." ---Goebbels.
An apt one-sentence summation of the Twentieth Century.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

AGAINST THE TOWN/SEVENTY-TWO HOURS CRUSADE


"So I've temporarily been condemned to FLESH and in Midwest United States no less----yes, it looks like a time to find knives and ammo and random objects of our affection but this is the Two Thousands, we do acknowledge that fact, so I, Sporty Spice, hereby decree a modified Kill-Spree where *sigh* NO ONE IS KILLED....

"So, so Posh Spice is SO disappeared (Scary won't return calls and Ginger's busy with United Nations. Baby is irrelevant.) Posh is just GONE and she was the best of us five!" [Don't even dare to demur! Sporty is talking about HER MAYBE-DEAD GIRLFRIEND!]

"In a random city, my first objective is the Kids and I will find a way to 'Win', if not with a Rockstar Girl, then we commence a Whispering Campaign, we can't miss! 'Your parents are wrong about everything! Pay NO mind to the Sick Sad Creeps!'

"And there're Pretty Girls everywhere you look, follow them and soon you'll find the Simulacrum of Posh Spice...she could be Twelve or Forty, whatevs--spend Real and Intense Time with the New Posh, brainwash her with the TRUTH and when that's over walk away, walk hundreds of miles away---the horrifying worthless town is changed for the better, I, Sporty, am maybe happier and Our Real Power is ever-spiraling UP...."

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Born Loosers

Proposal for Reality Program

Title: Born Loosers

It's a simple premise. Contributors to sporting news message boards from across the Internet will be selected to appear on a half-hour sports talk show in which they will be encouraged to discuss current sporting news topics.

Participants will be encouraged to use foul language, threats, and actual physical violence against each other. Possible sports figure guest stars. Possible games and contests pertaining to show themes.

Venue: Ideally the program would air on a cable network in order to be able to exhibit adult language, situations, and disturbing behavior.

Estimated budget: $100, 000 per episode.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

SEPTEMBER 1, 1939 by W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-Second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade;
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
Find what huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I
will
be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair.