Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hard to believe

...that we were just in New Orleans barely a month ago.

From Phil West:

If you're still reading me, you're probably depressed enough (and if you're not, you've likely moved on from Katrina), but this just in from my brother's friend, who is on National Guard duty at the Superdome.

He's run out of cigarettes, three kids were molested in the bathroom and then 40 people nearly beat the molesters to death, eight women have been raped, and people are singing gospel songs (but he hasn't been able to confirm yesterday's suicide in the Superdome). Basically, he's in hell.

Also, there was a rumor of a SHARK SIGHTING on Napoleon and Causeway.

How's your day going?
And from Salomé:

Been watching CNN over by H. most of the day. From the guy who saved the family that was trapped in the car that was surrounded by GATORS to the woman who slowly walked 2 miles with her husband's dead body on a raft because he'd suffocated to death when the oxygen tank he's hooked to emptied and they couldn't get any help for him, this is as sad to me as the Tsunami. Knowing that weeks from now when the waters recede, they'll have to level at least 50% of the city makes it so much worse.
Also, The Times-Picayune is keeping a steadily updated [b]log of stories on the disaster, in New Orleans and everywhere else:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My Sanctum Sanctorum

Among other things, that's a signed/numbered photo of the Oct. 9, 1977 fight between Graig Nettles and George Brett up on the wall, and a Nettles autographed baseball in the box on the lower shelf. The boxing glove is the runner-up trophy we got from the 1999 National Poetry Slam, which I hold in slightly higher esteem than the 1998 Championship trophy because 1999 was my team, from my venue. The Moon Knight figurines and the Buddha are what pass for totems. The stamper in front of the Buddha says: "Aspire to Be"

The books are, from left to right: Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud; Gotham Central: Half a Life TPB, Greg Rucka & Michael Lark; the Dictionary; Blankets, Craig Thompson; Writing New York: A Literary Anthology; Project: Superior, AdHouse Books; 100 Girls: The First Girl, Adam Gallardo & Todd Demong; What a Long, Strange Strip It's Been, Keith Knight; No Plot? No Problem!, Chris Baty; The Batman Handbook, Scott Beatty; The Writer's Book of Wisdom: 100 Rules; Black Images in the Comics, Fredrik Stromberg.

I'd much rather be sitting there writing than anything I currently do from 9-to-5.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

R. Kelly Has Lost...

his damn fool mind!

What in the hell was that?!?! Chuck? Rufus? Cathy? Anybody...?


Meanwhile, back on Earth, Shakira? I felt like I was cheating watching that performance. H.O.T.T.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Who's the writer?

I find it funny - though not the least bit surprising - that my wife, who won't so much as let me read the papers she writes for school, has finally started an anonymous blog, and in the few posts she's written so far, expresses more honesty and raw emotion than I have in my own writing in years. Perhaps ever.

Sure, the anonymity makes it a bit easier, but more than that, there's the noticeably deeper connection she has to her feelings that I seem to lack. I'm more of an observer, never able to completely live within a moment, more likely to show emotion over a football game than something that's actually important. We half-joked at one point that maybe I had Asperger's Syndrome, the kind of late-term realization that's apparently not uncommon amongst parents of autistic children. My relatively social childhood wouldn't seem to match up with that diagnoisis, though.

Maybe I'm just a big jerk?

(Shut up! That's a rhetorical question.)

PS: Don't ask me where her blog is. She's only told a select handful of people and wants to remain as anonymous as possible with it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

1 in 166...

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate, form relationships and interact with people. Few disorders are as emotionally or financially devastating to a family. Over the last decade, the incidence of autism has increased from a rate of 1 in 2,500 children to 1 in 166, some experts say. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is now the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States.

Speaking of movies...

Penny Marshall
Your film will be 71% romantic, 41% comedy, 32% complex plot, and a $40 million budget.
Your romantic comedy-drama of a life is now in the hands of Laverne. We almost put Ron Howard in this spot, but we figured you wouldn't want the part of your dad played by Ron's little brother Clint (who's in EVERY one of his films). Penny will hire Squiggy, instead. She directed A League Of Their Own, Big, Awakenings, and Riding In Cars With Boys among few others.

Your test tracked 4 variables. How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 97% on action-romance

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You scored higher than 82% on humor

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 29% on complexity

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You scored higher than 55% on budget
Link: The Director Who Films Your Life Test written by bingomosquito on Ok Cupid

Best Movie Review Ever.

Roger Ebert on Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 8/17/05

A light week, partly due to not much new of interest on the shelves, plus the fact that I was busy working on my script! Have I officially crossed the line from objective pundit to subjective peer? The latter, of course, in the loosest sense imaginable.

Runners: Bad Goods TPB
Someone needs to sign Sean Wang and let him devote 70 hours/week to telling this story, because Dark Horse's Star Wars comics shouldn't be the best-selling sci-fi on the shelves.

Superhero HC
From the mouths of babes: "It's not a comic book. It's a book!" A worthy addition to any child's bookshelf, sitting alongside any of Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak's best works.

Also, don't forget my two most recent features: the Charlie Huston interview, and Buzzworthy 2005: The Best Comics of the First Half of 2005.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

On Writing

Just emailed the first draft of my comic book story to Erech, the artist putting the aforementioned anthology together. Second draft actually, as I handwrote (!) the first draft during lunch last Thursday and did a lot of revising while typing it up. I like what I'm trying to do with it, but have no idea if I pulled it off, what with this being such foreign territory. In the immortal words of Charlie Huston: "I'm not fucking Joss Whedon! This is my first fucking comic book, motherfucker!"

Seriously, though, I was way more confident - though admittedly, wrongly so - in my first attempt at a screenplay than I was going into this. I innately get fiction and, for the most part, poetry, but comic book scripting is a very different animal. I knew that going in, of course, but the difference between thinking and knowing is huge. That said, it's nothing that would make me retract or alter any of the reviews I've done in the past. DEMO was still weak!

In other news, while buying school supplies for Isaac yesterday - writing that makes me feel sooo old! - I picked up this cool notepad at Target that I have designated as my Poetry Slam Notebook: Version 3.0. Don't know if anything will actually come of that action, but with the National Poetry Slam returning to the scene of the crime in Austin next summer, I'm feeling the slightest competitive tinge. We shall see, said the blind man...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sneak Peek

My interview with Charlie Huston, the novelist charged with reviving one of my favorite comic book characters from my earliest days, Moon Knight, should be going live at some point tomorrow. You can check it out here - In The Scope: Charlie Huston - now, though! I think it's the best interview I've done, ever, even better than any of the ones I did for the Poets & Writers article a few years back. (1999? 2000? I forget, but that's more than a few!) Much of the credit goes to him for being refreshingly candid and easy-going.

While Huston got me stoked for his take on Moon Knight, I can't really recommend anyone picking it up yet, especially since it's not out until February, but I can recommend his first novel, CAUGHT STEALING, an in-your-face crime thriller that reads like a set of salted brass knuckles to the mouth. Be warned, Huston loves the f-bomb and uses it liberally, both in his novels and in the interview. Mom, don't bother!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What is this "MySpace" thing?

Another Friendster, it seems, though its networking function suggests it might actually have some purpose other than as a kewl alternative to

Check me out!

Anywhoo, because I'm tired and in no mood to do any of the stuff I stayed home for today, I signed up for it!

Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Fun With Horoscopes

Every now and then, these things are eeriely appropriate:

Use Those Ideas

There is still a lot happening in your sign and in your personal life, Guy. The other great piece of news is that Mercury turns direct at the start of the week. This gives you the green light to go ahead with projects and ideas that have been on the back burner. You will feel a lot better now that you can move forward in confidence and get things moving. Venus moves into Libra on Tuesday, which is wonderful for any new commercial ventures you are involved with. If you have a lot of marketing, selling or advertising to do, it should all go very well. You will get a good return for your efforts. Wednesday is better used for developing new and wonderful ideas especially if you are involved in the media, or if you are an artist or musician. Grab those inspired thoughts from the sky and make use of them. They may further your career more than you realize. But don't promise anything you can't deliver, it is essential that you stay practical. There is a Full Moon in Aquarius on Friday, which is fun for partying and any kind of get-together. Just don't overreact to events - stay cool and have fun.
I forgot about the "Mercury in retrograde" thing last week, which would certainly explain some stuff!

In other news, my Buzzscope content is light this week as it took forever to finally transcribe the Charlie Huston interview - 17 pages! - and then edit it down into something that wouldn't make your eyes bleed from reading it online, so I didn't get to review any of the comics I'd intended to. The interview should hopefully go up later this week, though. In the meantime, the Buzzworthy 2005: Best Comics of the First Half of 2005 article that I spearheaded went up on Friday and is officially the most-viewed piece I've contributed to the site, already with over 3400 hits, despite the weekend being the least trafficked days for the site. Ironically, I disagree with several of the titles that made the list, but that's democracy for you! Several gems hidden in the honorable mentions, though.

In semi-related news, I checked out this store while visiting some friends in PA this weekend. Anyone in the Harrisburg area should definitely check it out, and everyone else with an internet connection should order one of their cool t-shirts. I bought the "I Have Issues" one!

PS: Don't forget, tonight @ 13 to celebrate my birthday. I'll be there around 7:30-8pm after stopping first at Botanica! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Insane in the Membrane

This has turned into an insane week!

Late Monday afternoon I found out I had to put together three PowerPoint presentations for the first day of our summer sales meeting, aka tomorrow, thanks to our Publisher's unexpected and, for all intents and purposes, immediate move over to our Conferences division, leaving our senior sales guy caught out there having to take over at the last second. Among the many things on the two-day agenda is a presentation on a new magazine we're launching in October that primarily lives in the no-longer-Publisher's head. Because I've been working on the marketing for it, I actually know more about it than the sales people, so I ended up putting it together. From scratch! Also had to put together the circulation comparision presentation for our regular titles, as well as my own marketing presentation. More PowerPoint in the past two days than I've ever done. They do look nice, though. :-)

Funny thing is, change #572 at the company - I'm on my fourth marketing director and now, my 7th publisher, albeit across several different magazines - has left me rather cold, not feeling the usual spark of "new opportunity" that's kept me there this long. Nevertheless, I'm approaching tomorrow as my last stand. If nothing significant changes after this, I may have to start looking around.

Sent my pitch for the comic anthology I mentioned the other day and got the go-ahead for it! Basically, it's an adaptation of a poem of mine, Mozer, Bethea & I, that also serves as an answer to a comic book I ripped a while back and caught some flak for. Figure I kill two birds with one stone, trying my hand at writing a comic story while answering the typical knee-jerk response to a bad review: "Why don't you try writing something yourself?" Those who can, do, right?

Some interesting doings behind the scenes over at Buzzscope, as Midtown makes a questionable decision that, while I disagree with, should give the site a bit more flexibility to be what it wants to be as opposed to what they want it to be. The downside is the potential for getting a 1099 that I could write off some of this stuff against is lost. Can't miss what you never had, though, so onward and upward! I still have a couple of ideas that may turn into a few pennies, though, so we'll see. Brainstormed some stuff with Jon that, if he and his group don't run with, I may go forward with myself.

Imagine that, right?

Still haven't had the time to transcribe the Charlie Huston interview from last week. 90 minutes of talking equals about three hours of typing! Any transcriptionists out there reading this? :-(

I try not to put it into concrete terms too often, so as to not get my hopes up too high, but she's definitely progressing at a noticeable rate. We figured out her vocabulary has gone from about 5-10 words a few months ago to 100-150 right now. A lot of them are simply repeated phrases she's heard, but she's doing a lot of labelling and recognition, as well as appropriately reactionary things like "Sorry." and "Ooops!" Two weekends ago, she finally acknowledged Maile, our friends Frank and Andrea's daughter, after actively avoiding eye contact with her, and this past weekend, she actually played with her! That was a major step, too.

Oh, and she's points at everything now! That was one of the most glaring symptoms when she was first diagnosed, that she didn't point at anything.

Funny thing is, the ABA therapy is only just now about to go full out. Up to now, it's been about gaining her trust, getting her to sit still for most of the session and understand basic commands.

Her school starts 9/12, but we couldn't get her the afternoon slot that would have been most ideal, so we need to figure out which of the other two slots make the most sense. One would require her waking up with us everyday around 6am to catch a 7am bus, while the other would mean a really late lunch everyday. Not sure which is worse, really.

Despite how much I resent the fact that we're stuck sending Isaac to Catholic School and had to drop $300 on uniforms this weekend, there's a little something I like about it, too. I think it's partly the sense of him starting school being a major milestone, like we got this far without breaking him! Of course, the first time he comes home and mouths off with something like: "You're not my father! Jesus is my father!" - there's going to be some serious problems!

Next Tuesday, August 16th, is my [deleted] Birthday! I plan on hitting 13 the night before, hopefully to help them celebrate their first NPS championship! Either way, it's me at 13 on a Monday night, up their with blue moons and snowy days in Miami. Come on out and wish me well!

Plus, don't forget we're doing the Cure Autism WALK NOW in October, and are raising funds here. A donation there would make for a nice birthday present.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Buzzscope Reviews: 8/3/05

Wherein I talk about Women in Refrigerators, give away FREE comics, and use the phrase "balls-to-the-wall!"

El Arsenal: Unknown Enemy #1 (of 3)
El Arsenal has the kinetic energy and bombast of Robert Rodriguez’ earliest films, and as introductory issues go, it wisely opts for a few hard jabs straight to the eye instead of the drawn-out, rope-a-dope approach that plagues most mainstream comics these days.

Son of Vulcan #3 (of 6)
Screw Jason Todd, and Hal Jordan, and Bucky Barnes, et al. Make mine Mikey!

Karma Incorporated #1 (of 3)
Imagine David Fincher’s The Game played for laughs, and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark.

Detective Comics #809
As a follow-up to “War Games,” Gabrych does a solid job of giving just enough information to bring those who skipped it up to speed, and offers a Batman who lives up to his “detective” roots.

Sundown Arizona #1 (of 3)
Whatever’s happening in and around Sundown, the strength of this first issue isn’t in the plot, but in the characters, as Busbee balances the horror with just enough characterization and exposition to make it all work.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

A Request For Your Support

As you probably know, India was diagnosed as being mildly autistic a few months back. As a result, Salomé and I now know more about autism than we'd ever imagined needing to. Of course, the trick there is that there's still a lot that's not known about autism, from what causes it to how to "cure" it and everything in between.

Enter Cure Autism Now, "an organization of parents, clinicians and leading scientists committed to accelerating the pace of biomedical research in autism through raising money for research projects, education and outreach."

One of the ways they raise money is through WALK NOW, their "grassroots fundraising and awareness initiative uniting thousands of parents, children and families in a fun, friendly, empowering environment. The Walk is a 5K (just over 3 miles) with lots of water, food and fun along the route. And each WALK NOW event includes a Resource Fair. Parents can meet a variety of autism service providers while kids enjoy arts & crafts, moon bounces and other fun activities."

Salomé and I will be participating in NYC's WALK NOW on October 1, and ask that you show your support here by pledging whatever you can afford. $5, $50, $500...every little bit helps.


PS: If the above links aren't taking you to our page, try this one.

Story Ideas

Somewhat randomly, I've been asked to contribute a script to an anthology comic book by this guy, Erech Overaker, whom I know electronically via CBC and Buzzscope. He's looking for "...strictly slice of life, everyday kinda stuff, humorous dramatic ambient whatever. I want to show the other side of comics, you know?"

All things considered, it's a rather flattering request and I'm tempted to take him up on it, though I've never really given any serious thought to writing something for comics. I've joked about it, sure, but it's a tough form that I've come to have a much greater appreciation for since I started reading them again a couple of years back, and I have no illusions about being any good at it on the first pass. It's an intriguing challenge, though, especially when you think about the old "those who can, do; those who can't, review" saying.

Of course, the first hurdle is an idea, something that can work within 3-5 pages and offers some visual punch to keep from being the kind of navel-gazing indie crap I can't stand. It's kind of like going from judging slams for a couple of years to getting on stage yourself...intimidating, to say the least.

So, like NaNoWriMo last year, I turn to you, dear readers - all 5 or 6 of you still around! - for story ideas. What kind of story would make you curious enough to pick up a comic book? And no zombie tales this time! (Though I still want to revisit that particular exercise.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Fun With Reviews

I posted my aforementioned review of Combat Zone: True Tales of GI's in Iraq, Vol. 1 TP to yesterday, as I do with anything I review that they happen to sell, and have already received two emails about it from people not thrilled with what I wrote. (Mind you, in the 2+ plus years of reviewing stuff there, I've only ever received one email in response!) The first was from someone in the 82nd Airborne assuring me that Zinsmeister's stories were true, if combined, and was polite and straightforward in the process. The second one, not so much on the polite:

I am really pissed at your biased opinion of this Comic novel. Did you bother to research to see if the stories that were in the novel are in fact true to what took place?, were you there? I doubt it! So, why would you say "supposedly depicting real life accounts" And to compare it to the "Jessica Lynch" situation, come on!!
Karl Zinsmeisters Book "Boots on the Ground," had you taken the time to read, is a true and accruate report on the 82nds time in Iraq during the first part of the war. The comic novel is taken some of the stories from that book and brought it pictorally(all be it cartoon like) to life for me. I say that because my son is a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne and was there when Karl was embedded with them. From day one of Operation Iraqi Freedom for a year and then back again for last years elections, the stories that my son has told are the same stories that are in both the book and comic novel.
There is no way it could have been made up. "A disservice to the men"? how many did you ask before making that assumption? My son appreciates the work that Karl put into this, to tell the story as it was, not how the media wants us to see it.
The next time you write a review of something of this nature you should do your homework before making yourself look stupid and ignorant. Or maybe just stick to reading your imaginary character comic books, and leave the more mature ones to some one with better knowledge of what he is talking about.

A proud father of a Soldier
serving with the elite 82nd Airborne.
Of course, I responded:


Thanks for writing. As to my "biased opinion" - are there other kinds of opinions? - perhaps if you read my entire review, you'd see that I wasn't questioning the truthfulness of the accounts, but the presentation of them. By his own admission, Zinsmeister presents an amalgamation of stories which, in my opinion, undermines the credibility of the stories. Doesn't make them untrue, per se, but brings them closer to docudrama than the documentary he was aspiring to. The Jessica Lynch comparison was valid - again, in my OPINION - because the original story of her rescue was similarly edited for dramatic effect and dutifully reported as fact. Presented as a "true tale," if you will.

Finally, not that it should matter, but I too served in the Army, as a mechanic with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and though I thankfully never had to experience combat personally, I know quite a few people who have, both in the first Gulf War and the current one. Regardless of my feelings about the war itself, I extend my sincerest thanks and well wishes to your son and those he serves with, because I know personally the sacrifices that come with military service, in and out of combat. You have every reason to be proud of your son, but I'd suggest being a bit more open-minded when it comes to the opinions of others - biased as they always are - lest you do or say something for which he might feel less than proud of.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
Think he'll write me back? Think my ratio of "people found the following review helpful" is going to be a bit skewed? Think I care?

Best Looking Family Ever!

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Comic Book Stuff

With CBC on hiatus for a bit while I come up with a plan for what to do with it, I'll be pimping my Buzzscope writing here for the time being.

Weekly Reviews
Combat Zone: True Tales of GI's in Iraq, Vol. 1 TP
Whatever side of the ideological fence you may be on, there is some great story-telling potential in the concept, True Tales of GIs in Iraq. Unfortunately, whatever Zinsmeister's talents may be as a journalist, they do not translate into compelling sequential art.

Silent Dragon #1 (of 6)
Andy Diggle offers up a veritable buffet of a story that demands you return for seconds, setting the stage for what appears to be yet another exciting action adventure tale on his impressive resumé.

In the Scope: Sumerak Runs With the Pack
Marc Sumerak Proves "All Ages" Doesn't Have to Mean "Dumbed Down"

Plus, tonight I'll be having a couple of beers with Charlie Huston while interviewing him about his upcoming Moon Knight mini-series. I really need to figure out a way to do this stuff for a living!

Lost In The Dark!

There's something ironic about playing on a softball field sponsored by Con Edison that doesn't have any lights! Or maybe that's not irony, just stupidity?

The late game always sucks because somewhere around the 6th inning it starts to get dark and the ball is difficult to see in the field. Sucks more when the game before you is tied up and they go past your 7:15pm start time, meaning the darkness hits around the 4th inning. As a result, we lost in the bottom half of the fifth inning, 3-2, when the game was called on account of darkness. A lame way to go out, but we did have the proverbial fun. Started the game as DH before taking over right-center in the 3rd inning (despite my balky shoulder), and went 1-for-2, thrown out trying to stretch a long single into a double, getting an underwear-full of dirt in the process! My other at bat was a fly ball out with the bases loaded to end the 4th inning. :-(

The team that beat us, Those Guys, were undefeated coming in and had the strongest infield of any team we'd played, so losing 3-2 was one of those moral victories that you console yourself with over some cold beers and a half-decent jukebox. At least, that's what we did.

There's always next season!

Monday, August 1, 2005

Welcome to the Playoffs!

Actually, it's the second round, as we won last week's game, an 11-5 rout that we made more interesting than it should have been with a shaky last inning. After throwing out my shoulder in my previous game a couple of weeks ago, I played 1st base and was in on several plays, including three unassisted outs on pop flys. Went 2-for-3 at the plate, with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Overall, probably my best game yet.

Tonight, we'll all have to step it up as we're playing the only undefeated team in the league. Game's @ 7:15pm up at the Con Edison Fields on 16th & Ave C. Come on out if you're in the area and cheer me on!