Thursday, January 27, 2005

I talked to my nephew Brian last night.

I've seen Brian once in the last fifteen years. He's my oldest brother Ken's second son, by his first wife, the one who I recently learned was a bona fide whore.

The wife, that is, not Brian.

My primary memories of Brian are as this screechy little two year old, who would throw tantrums if his mother left the room. Who would start wailing if she so much as moved in her chair. My parents used to call him Cryin' Brian. That rhymes, you see.

The guy I talked to last night was bright and funny. He sounded genuinely proud of his five year old daughter (a surprise that was sprung on him a couple of years ago by an ex-girlfriend). He talked about how important she was to him, and how he takes her places on his weekends with her, and how he and his ex make a point of staying friends for her.

He's made mistakes. We all have. But he's also thought a lot about life, and works hard to try to make his (and his daughter's) a good one.

Intellectually, I didn't expect him to still be Cryin' Brian, I guess. I think I just have this subconscious picture of my life in Tacoma as being somehow trapped in amber, that as long as my dad lives in this house, no one and nothing will ever change.

Of course, I say this even as I complain that they can't see me as an adult, so what the fuck do I know anyway?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Wednesday, 10 PM and change.

There was about a twenty-minute period yesterday, just after I stepped off the Greyhound, where it was just me, standing on the sidewalk, just being in Seattle, forming invisible connections with the city, breathing in the air, checking out the women, trying to look unapproachable to panhandlers, slipping effortlessly back into the instinctual behaviours that developed when I still lived there. It was like tapping into a network I didn't realize I had been disconnected from.

Then my brother showed up and took me to Tacoma.

I actually can't complain too much about being here. I know to expect to hear every third person referred to as a "goddamn gook" and I've spent enough time here in the last two years to have honed my avoidance skills. In a way, the ingrained racism and bitchiness are kind of comforting.

My Dad has a long, ugly red-and-black line from his collarbone to his belly, making him look like he had an autopsy. Just below that are a line of small oval-shaped holes in his abdomen--let me repeat that: holes in his abdomen--through which various tubes had been inserted, and are there now to allow egress to various surplus fluids. There are various other surgical scars on his belly, serving arcane purposes my layman's mind can't comprehend.

And then there's his leg.

The plan had been, in order to extract the veins from his leg, they would make one incision just below the crotch, and another by his calf, cut the two ends of the vein and just extract it through the top slit. This didn't work, for some reason, so there's a scar running along his entire inseam that out-red-and-blacks his autopsy scar.

The hospital kitchen would only give him turkey, even though he was ordered to eat hearty meals to promote healing. He can't drive for a month. He can't get out of his chair without my help. He's on Vicodin, Prilosec, and other meds with fascinatingly polysyllabic names, and if he coughs too hard he could tear his sutures.

In light of all that, when I hear his rants about "the gooks" and how he can't understand a goddamn word they say, when I watch him berate some poor pharmacy clerk who got shoved out to explain their superior's mistake, that just tells me that the old bastard still has his will to live.

Even if I don't.

More to come.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, January 24, 2005

So, this'll be my last post from home for a while. In the morning I'm heading for Tacoma to help my Dad out as he recovers from his surgery. Of course I'll be trying to make contact with y'all while I'm in the country. I'll try to hit the ol' Blog with updates. If I go for a few days without updating, it's nothing major, just assume I'm in a closet somewhere with my Dad's pills, medicating myself into merciful oblivion.

Snuffy Smith, y'all.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Just announced...

I gotta wonder, did they rush this into production JUST to take advantage of that date?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

"Now Emperor Zombie used to be Screw-On Head’s manservant so there is this subtext of servitude. I also beefed up the triangle between Emperor Zombie, Screw-On Head and Mr. Groin."

Suicide Girls, believe it or not, has an interview with Bryan Fuller, the creator of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me. He talks about God as a concept, rather than the nice old man in the sky, about the lack of hot lesbian action on Wonderfalls, and dishes nicely about his days writing for Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

Suicide Girls. Huh.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Boys and ghouls of every age, wouldn't you like to see something strange...

So, with all the talk about Tim Burton's new adaptation of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, his other current project has kinda fallen under the radar. So I was taken by surprise the morning when I found a link to the first trailer for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.

I could be cynical about the fact that this is a stop-motion feature specifically made to showcase Tim Burton's macabre design and storytelling--sound familiar?--but let's be honest; we've been waiting over ten years for a real Tim Burton movie. Ever since the box-office failure of Ed Wood our poor Tim has gone from pop-iconoclast to director-monkey, making shitty movies because Hollywood finally told him, "look, gothboy, you want to make movies you better start doing what you're told."

(And quit telling me that Sleepy Hollow was a Tim Burton movie. That was every bit as work-for-hire as Planet Of The Apes. I can just picture the suits saying "ah, get Burton, he loves that ghost-story shit")

But Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise is still selling strong after more than a decade, and Ed Wood has been given the special-edition DVD treatment--and it's fantastic, lemme tellya--and Big Fish was the first movie in ten years where it actually felt directed by Tim Burton, rather than an LMD with stringy hair. So I think it's about goddamn time that Tim Burton was allowed to get back to the business of being Tim Burton, wouldn't you agree?

PS The lead character in Corpse Bride is voiced by Johnny Depp. Seriously, they're the new Scorcese and DeNiro.

PPS Snuffy Smith

Friday, January 21, 2005


Snuffy Smith.


Ah, screw it. Here, look at some frogs doin' it. Posted by Hello


Okay, see, the "captivity" one, imagine it like Criswell at the beginning of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Then it's hilarious. Posted by Hello


But who is truly the one in captivity? Is it the Komodo Dragon, or you, Mr. and Mrs. America, with your kitchen appliances and your solid-state radios? Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 20, 2005

My dad has gone through his triple bypass surgery. There was another delay when another surgery went late, so they did the procedure thursday morning. According to my sister, it went off with no complications, and he's recovering nicely. He should be in the hospital for about five days. I'm tentatively planning to head down there tuesday, but I'm waiting for more news from my sister.

So he's okay. He's fine, we're fine, everything's fine. How are you?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

In keeping with my long-standing tradition of losing all perspective when I find a new obsession, I'm now busily immersing myself in comic strip classics. And one thing I've found is, from Gold Key's Flash Gordon series, a two-part adaptation of the 1980 Flash Gordon movie, illustrated by longtime Flash artist Al Williamson.

Williamson, you may know, drew the strip for ages, and between that and his work on Marvel's Star Wars comics, was one of the greatest sci-fi comics artists of all time. His work on this adaptation, freed from the confines of the daily four-panel format, is lush and rich, filled with emotion, drama, and kinetic action.

Too bad the movie itself is just about the gayest thing ever.

I don't mean bad, though it certainly is that--I mean gay, flaming, fabulous, campier than the Queer Eye guys performing the hits of Judy Garland. Come on, the soundtrack was by Queen. For the gym queens, there's Sam J. Jones as Flash. For the bear daddies, there's Brian Blessed in a leather harness.

There's even Rocky Horror creator Richard O'Brien.

Richard's the one on the right. The guy with the porn star 'stache is Timothy Dalton.

I just have to wonder if, as Williamson was drawing this, he knew that it was based on a piece of shite that owed more to Phantom Of The Paradise than to Star Wars. Or if he only saw Bruce Jones' script, and thus was mercifully spared lines like "Flash! I love you--but we only have fourteen hours to save the earth!" The best analogy I can draw is if Frank Miller had been hired to adapt Batman and Robin.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


He reads the comics so you don't have to

I have to admit a certain longing for the glory days of the newspaper comics pages. And I mean the old-school glory days, long before we were born, when strips were huge (especially sundays, when Tarzan or Flash Gordon could be up to half a page, and the Spirit got an 8-page insert), adventure strips (again, see Tarzan and Flash Gordon, as well as the Phantom, Superman, Terry and the Pirates, Dick Tracy, et al) were still a viable genre, and an event like the wedding of Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae could make headlines.

By the time I discovered what my parents inexplicably called "the funnies," they were already in decline, with shrinking strips and the lovingly-crafted works of art giving way to repetitive filler like Marmaduke and the Born Loser. As a kid, one of my favorite issues of Mad magazine was a Super Special reprinting some of their best comic strip parodies, including the "Mad Comic-Strip Musical," with Dick Tracy fighting to rescue Blondie from the evil Rex Morgan M.D., featuring just about every comic strip character ever, all expressively rendered by the great Wally Wood. The entire mag was a door into the past, exposing me to long-forgotten characters like Snuffy Smith, Andy Gump, Henry, the Yellow Kid, Maggie and Jiggs, and dozens of others who will never get the reverential treatment given to, say, Peanuts.

Snuffy Smith. I just love saying Snuffy Smith.

By the 80s and 90s the comics pages were a shadow of their past glory. Yes, there are those three modern classics: Bloom County, The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes. And yes, Peanuts kept chugging along until Charles Schulz retired (and died, like, the next day). But come on, the strips themselves kept getting smaller and smaller, not that that's such a bad thing when the pages were clogged with mediocre dreck like Curtis or 9 Chickweed Lane. And sundays became downright depressing, with strips not much bigger than the daily ones, and more and more space being given over to ads or kids puzzles. Only the reclusive genius Bill Watterson was able to negotiate a larger format for sunday Calvin and Hobbes, possibly the last gasp of great comic strip art.

But of course, Calvin and Hobbes is gone now, as is the Far Side. And while Berke Breathed has dipped his toe back into the water with Opus, it's still a far cry from the daily dose of Bloom County that got me through the 80s.

And god help you if you still love adventure strips. The few that remain plug along out of sheer inertia. Flash Gordon is still competently drawn, though a far cry from the glory of Alex Raymond and Al Williamson, while the Phantom is an incomprehensible mess. When Steve Roper and Mike Nomad recently ended, my only reaction was, "you mean it didn't end twenty years ago?"

There are still bright spots. There's Dilbert, of course (though that, by Scott Adams' own admission, can hardly be considered great art), and the Boondocks, and occasionally Mutts. But beyond that, it's the same old; Cathy is still insecure (and still binges to the "eat, eat, eat" sound effect), the Family Circus still thinks childish malaprops never cease to be funny, BC is still an ongoing chronicle of Johnny Hart's slow descent into religious insanity. And don't get me fucking started about Garfield.

I read the comics so you don't have to is a blog for comics page geeks like me. Josh Fruhlinger writes daily about the comics, from the relentless averageness of Sally Forth (smirky does not mean funny) to the eternally out-of-touch-with-real-teenagers Luann (who's been in junior high since I was in junior high) to the strangely anachronistic soap opera Gil Thorpe (me neither). It's not for everyone, but if you love--really love--the, ahem, funnies, if the name Ernie Brushmiller means a damn thing to you, check it out.

Snuffy Smith. Snuffy Smith. Snuffy Smith.


So the good news...

is that Tim Burton's two Batman movies are finally getting deluxe DVDs, with trailers, extra footage, documentaries, and commentary.

(Though have you heard a Tim Burton commentary? Lots of "ums", followed by shuffling silences)

The bad news:

"Joel (Schumacher) decided to ask WB to recut "Forever" back to something that resembles his original edit...The extended cut is expected to run around 2 hrs 35 mins. Schumacher is going to add as much footage as possible back in."

You mean there's more? Fucksake, people, at least Forever was remotely watchable, "I'll get drive-through" notwithstanding. We don't need more.

Unless they're extending the shot of Nicole Kidman's skirt lifting as she falls out of the Riddler's cage. That I can get behind.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

So, I'm reading this article by Jim Hill about Pixar-themed attractions at Disneyland, which goes on to note that some factions in WDI are kinda getting sick of the all-Pixar, all-the-time mandate they're being given. In the middle of it all comes this quote:

"That's why so many of us within Imagineering are really pulling for 'Chicken Little' or 'Hitchhiker's Guide' or "Wilbur Robinson' to be huge hits. Just we can then work on something different for a change.

A Hitchhiker-themed ride? Marvin meet-and-greets?

How about a real Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, with a giant LCD screen as the ceiling (like Fremont Street in Vegas) so we can watch the universe explode while we eat?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


What do you mean, an African elephant or an Indian elephant? Posted by Hello

Friday, January 14, 2005


Now I know how Cameron Crowe feels. Posted by Hello


Gotta make sure Liam learns to appreciate fine art. Posted by Hello


Mr. Mowrer in his swank new shirt Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005

...Bullock, a Southern Baptist, said he stands by the virtue of The Rod, which, he said, is safer than a belt or paddle. He said he believes his product is in keeping with biblical teachings that rods be used only as a ''last resort" to train children. He opposes its use on babies. He said he sold the device at a rate of ''a few a week" over the last six years or so. Many of his customers returned for more rods, and cited the Scriptures when they made their purchases, he said.

''I'm one of these simple people," Bullock said. ''The Bible is what it is -- I'm not trying to change it. God is right. We have to have faith in that."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Home from Seattle. Back to the boredom.

So, It's been a few months since my account of my Rocky Horror days, and I'm thinking I'm about due for another long-form piece on here. Here are the ideas that I'm considering:

Continuing the geek autobiography, a history of the Movie Geek Show.

Some of my misadventures in education, when it was decided that I was "gifted" and therefore belonged in a Special Class. And we all know what "special" means.

The summer I spent as a teenage trucker.

Any thoughts?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

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