Tortured analogy of the month: April 2004

So, I ran out of things to read [and reread] in this month's GUITAR PLAYER, so I gave up and read the Eric Clapton cover feature. The interview was as unexceptionally as anything else Clapton-related, but one thing struck me: In his introduction, Barry Cleveland draws a direct line from Clapton's lifetime of hackwork and A&Red commercial shit and the stories of Robert Johnson playing Tin Pan Alley tunes and polkas, which completely skates over a vital distinction between the two. Johnson most likely did play a wide variety of styles, but he was playing at bars and house parties; he wasn't a recording artist -- no one was at the time -- so Johnson's polka-playing should be viewed in the same terms as the "any requests?" part of a pianist's set at your local "class" restaurant, not an aesthetic statement, which "Forever Man," "Change the World" and the collapsed-bossa-nova of the Unplugged "Layla" are. Cleveland claims Johnson's hired-gun artistic flexibility as an example of how he and Clapton share a "stylistically adventurous" and "commercially savvy" nature. [Cleveland then makes the bizarre implication that if Johnson's full oeuvre had been recorded and released instead of just his blues tunes, "guitar zealots" would have been just as critical of his work as they are of Clapton's. I'd run through the many ways that this is deranged, but got a bus the catch.]

As for Clapton's latest cry for help, ME AND MR. JOHNSON, it's another clumsy attempt to associate himself with his betters, a heartfelt grab for reflected glory. It seems to have cratered, but I'm sure the next Clapton-plays-the-blues record -- for those of you who haven't noticed, Clapton works a cycle about as predictable as the even/odd rule of STAR TREK movies; I'm too lazy to check that I have the sequencing right, but I think it's poppy piece of shit, "commercially savvy" update of one his past highwater marks, Return To The Blues, then another poppy piece of shit -- will probably be hailed as a classic regardless of its quality, since by then most people who can remember when he only played the blues in those yuppified '80s Budweiser commercials will be dead or not at all interested in music.

She's A [nine-foot-tall] Woman

I was in the bathroom yesterday, minding my own business and reading a Dell comic I got for my birthday, when I saw this:


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The first thing I thought, after I saw the photo and headline, was: "Dude, that chippie is fuckin' HUGE! Look at how tiny the Beatles are compared to her!! I hope she's still alive, and single -- after all these years, I've finally found a woman who could survive mating with the sasquatch I have caged in my basement!!! Soon, my dream of breeding an army of loyal yetis to help me take over the world will come true!!!! Hoo HA!!!!! In your FACE, Bindernagel!!!!!!!"

I didn't know there could be competition when it came to being life-sized, much less that it was a world-wide thing. If you ask me, if a thing is bigger or smaller than life-size, then it isn't life-size.

My Welfare Christmas: April 2004

I cashed my check this morning, then walked to the mall and bought MEDAL OF HONOR: WAR CHEST and a pocket notebook, and picked up a jug of milk and a two-liter of Mountain Dew at the supermarket on my way home. I'm now back to having zero spending money for another month, but I'm hopped up on caffeine, stuffed with rigatoni & cheese and getting ready to waste many irreplaceable hours of my life shooting digital Nazis, so life is good.

Walking back, I realized how much I like The Defenders -- uh, the Hulk/Sub-Mariner/Dr. Strange Defenders, although I liked what I've seen of the E.G. Marshall/Robert Reed TV show and hope to someday have the 12 bucks to buy the STUDIO ONE version with Steve McQueen, William Shatner and Ralph Bellamy. You just know it's gotta be good or so bad it's good. Anyway, the superduper Defenders is a swell idea.

The best piece of entertainment advice I ever got

"When you're on the road, the venues will have you stay in the same home 'most other performers have stayed at when they performed where you're at. I know how lonely it can get on the road -- and mens have needs, powerful needs sometimes [heh heh heh] -- but don't you ever fuck a lady who knows where you're staying that week." -- John Westmoreland

Spin Doctor, Heal Thyself -- Part I

Not too long after SAVING PRIVATE RYAN came out, I remember talking to a friend about it. Being a glib shithead, I said that I liked both SPRs; the warm, squishy patriotic drama in the middle and the horrifying, abstract two-parter that bookends it. I watched "both" RYANs again yesterday, and realized that my ears impaired my sight; more times than not, John Williams' slowly sweeping pastoral pastiches injected sentimentality into moments and scenes that, while certainly no match for the D-Day landing for welcome-to-hell verite, aren't the hollow, patriotic-platitude-ridden scenes they seem at first glance. [You have to wonder how sappy the film would feel with no music.] There is a balancing act between typical Hollywood sentimentality, the irony found in all war stories and the fidelity to Fussell and Ambrose's presentation of what life as a foot soldier was like. The only truly Hollywood-sentimental moment in the film is the opening Arlington scene, a rare flatfooted moment in a surprisingly ambiguous work; the scene implies that Miller and his men died so Ryan could live a long, apparently prosperous life and have a bunch of aesthetically children. But even that is balanced by the final scene, where Ryan all but begs his wife for redemption, an absolution that she can't possibly impart him.

SUNDAY'S GUEST POST FROM MILOS' BESTEST RADIOACTIVE-DINOSAUR PAL

hey there tiny humans!

Milos took the day off, so I'm filling in for him again. My name is Gojira, though you film buffs probably know my better by my stage name "Godzilla" and you CB radio buffs would know me as "Big Daddy Dino." Anyhoozle, before he left, Milos told me "You Have Mail." Ha! I know what that means now! By the way, sorry if there are any typing errors in my post, I'm still having trouble typing on this tiny laptop. Onward!

Dear Godzilla,

I just watched your latest movie Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack and wanted to say "thank you" for perhaps the classiest, most sincere and touching smashing of cities and puny humans I've ever seen. My small contribution to your success - buying and watching every one of your movies - has been one of the best and most defining habits of my life, certainly my life as it relates to building miniature cities out of Legos and then smashing them to pieces. The doctors call it therapy, but I think of it as an act or spiritual communication with my inner lizard. I can't even being to express to you how much I treasure your example.

Your friend always,
Tony


Dear Tony,

Thank you for your very kind words about GMA-OA. Your note is so warm that holding it to my mighty torso warmed the otherwise ice-cold blood in that general area.

I'm glad you noticed how I "kicked my acting up a notch," as you youngster mammals would put it -- at my age, I have to really "bring it" to every film I do if I want to stay in front of the cameras. I've been studying with James Lipton personally for a few years, but I think I've broken out of a lot of bad habits I've developed over my long acting career in that film. Also, I've gotten back in touch with the young, irradiated thunder lizard out to prove himself that I was when I started out in this game back in '53 ... so you won't catch me doing mostly directing these days, like that Eastwood fruit, or reduced to voice-over work for cartoons, like my old galpal Annie Potts, any time soon!

Now, I know that it's fun to imitate the monster I play in the movies, but my legal consul told me to tell you and all of my other human fans that you shouldn't do imitate me, because you could really hurt yourself -- or worse, somebody else! Keep in mind that my stunt double and I are trained professionals working on specially made soundstages under controlled circumstances, and every measure is taken to make sure no one gets hurt! What if your mother stepped on a Lego from a "building" you smashed? You'd feel pretty bad, wouldn't you? You certainly feel bad if you accidentally swallowed a Lego in your frenzy! I understand that your feeble digestive system doesn't cotton to plastic very well, and that Legos aren't very fun coming out the human anus. Just say "No!" Tony!

I'm honored and humbled to know that, despite your fragile composition and puny size, you seem to think enough of my work that you seek to follow my example. If you do, then stay in school, study hard, volunteer to help the needy when you can, attack any creature with three heads on general principle, and never give up on your dreams.

Sincerely,
Gojira "Godzilla" Kijou

I'm higher than God right now, but I can't see my house from here for some reason

When in Seattle, be sure to try the extra-hot Hunan Chicken at the Mandarin Gate restaurant on Aurora. It destroys most forms of bacteria on contact and if you eat a carton of it with a two-liter of Mountain Dew -- as I did for dinner today -- you can see entirely new colors when you belch. Although I think I will make a point to ask for a two-liter that doesn't have an expiration date of six months ago next time [don't worry, the colors pop regardless of the pop].

... ... ... my god, it's fulla stars ... ...

I think I'm gonna take tomorrow off.

I'm literally painted into my house

I guess they have to seal off my door with plastic so it doesn't get splattered with house paint. Compounded with the plastic over all the windows and it's rather freaky. Can'tgooutsidecan'tgooutsidecan'tgooutside. At least Barry Manilow isn't on television; I've seen him on four different talk shows over the last two weeks, and every time he's played "Mandy" with the same intro: "Here's a song for you guys -- sung in the original key, I'll have you know!" What does it all mean, man???

A stompbox mash note

Oh Boss Pedals, what a fool I've been, ignoring you all these years. I thought I didn't need you and your keen signal-processing and rainbow-colored, elegant and utilitarian design in my life, but I was WRONG! Wrong, I tell you! Wrong as two left shoes! But I'm gonna make it up to you, baby; as soon as I have any money, I'm gonna track down and buy one of every pedal you've ever released, then I'm gonna hook them all together, turn them all on and play The Ballad of Boss until my ears, fingers and anus bleed. You're still my girl after all these years --I just hope you can forgive me. ps. I only cheated on you with a Vox V847, but even you have to concede that there's just no competition when it comes to wah-wahs.

No-News Day.

I cashed my unemployment check! I bought eggs! And then baked a cake! And a batch of cornbread! I just watched these two redneck roommates/lovers who live kitty-corner to my building argue about who stole who's laundry! I couldn't find my manuals for my modem! And tomorrow my building's gonna get painted! Woohoo! Yes yes yes!

Goin' to Graceland, guh-guh-Graceland, Memphis Tennessee

I've been thinking about Elvis and Graceland a lot the last few weeks -- to the point that it's even effecting my Friendster testimonials. I don't think I've ever gotten over being banned from Elvis' house for life after I kept interrupting the tour guide to ask where the slaves' quarters were -- not a particularly offensive question to ask at Graceland, considering the lord of the house is buried in the fucking back yard. There has to be a way to pester a tour guide about this without becoming persona non grata there, and I just figured out how to do it. Now, all I need is the right people and resources -- I already have the time to work out my plan's fine details, as this blog probably illustrates -- and I shall have the last laugh over the Memphis Board of Tourism and their puny Police force. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

I've been up for 30+ hours, and I'm still not tired ...

... besides, I haven't done much of anything to deserve rest.

I think it's high time we got a comics magazine dead pool going. With news that COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE is jumping to a monthly magazine format the same month that TCJ jettisons the format that COMIC BOOK ARTIST has adopted in favor of a big, swank, COMIC ART-on-11 format; the launch of BACK ISSUE, the Dick Sargent for the CBA slot in Twomorrows' mini-empire of essentially identical magazines; WIZARD and WIZARD EDGE, Wizard's tentative but ongoing exploration of the funnybook-mag Mariana's Trench, where many a middle-of-the-road mag has gone to rest [see AMAZING HEROES, MUSINGS, COMICOLOGY, etc.]; COMICS RETAILER, COMICS INTERNATIONAL, HOGAN'S ALLEY, the new magazine version of COMICS INTERPRETER, SKETCH, the two AMAZING HEROES-looking butterbars that launched just a few months ago whose titles I can't remember and the other magazines I know I'm forgetting --- there is just no fucking way they'll all live to see 2005. As soon as I can remember how to work out odds and handicaps and all that crap, I'll be taking bets on who goes tits-up and when. I'm guessing this mini-glut will break long before the manga boom finally busts.

GUEST POST FROM MILOS' CLOSE PERSONAL THUNDER-LIZARD FRIEND

Hello!

Milos took the day off to do ... something else I guess, so he asked me to fill in. Anyhoo, my name is Gojira Kijou, but you probably know me better by my stage name, Godzilla. Here's a picture of me in case you're bad at remembering names:


Hi, how's it goin'?

So, blogging ... yeah. Wow, this is harder than I thought; it doesn't help that I'm 500 feet tall and typing this on Milos' laptop -- normally I'm only aware of how tiny you mammals are when I step on a dozen of you when I'm not careful where I step -- but jeez louise, how do people do this every day???

I guess I should link to something -- that seems to be the "in" thing -- sooo, hey the site I got the photo of me is pretty cool: www.godzillatemple.com. Um, right.

OK, how's this: if any of my fans would like to send me a note c/o Milos, I'll be happy to respond to them in my next guest column. Please include your age, and an URL, since I like being "hip" with the linkings. Until then, I bid you all

peace , love and understanding,
gojira

Connect the dots, la la lala

I was looking through the Cover Project site looking for, well, interesting covers. [Duh.] I was looking at the page for Lush's covers and the "Albums by this artist from Amazon.com:" links at the top send you here and here. Good picks; hope that they sell a lot of Polkas to fans of day-glo-haired dreamrock-playing British girls. Yeah.

Allan and Eddie, playing at G.I.T., jay ay em em eye en gee ...

So, my pal Woody sent me a mix CD for my birthday. One of the tracks is a heroic-length live bootleg of Eddie Van Halen jamming with Allan Holdsworth at the Guitar Institute in the early-mid '80s. What strikes me the most listening to it isn't that EVH does a fairly good job playing over the complex changes and changing tempos -- I think the tune is "Letters of Marque," but it's been years since I listened to any of Holdsworth's records; I recognize it as one of IOU's live warhorses -- but that the two jamming made sense at the time. It seems that it's an '80s thing; you can see it in comics, where you could mention Alan Moore and Art Spiegleman in the same sentence and it wouldn't be weird. Try drawing a line between Grant Morrison's and Chris Ware's current work, and you'll see what I mean. I guess a cultural desert makes for strange companions, or perhaps the gap between high and low has already begun to widen again. I hope it's the latter, so the academics who harness all their study and training to justify their love of the junk culture they wallowed in as children will soon have to go eat a big bowl of shit.

Holdsworth, by the way, has a new Web site here.

Poultry in motion

Fuck a Duck.
Screw a gnu.
Fingerbang an orangutan.
Good orgies at the zoo.

copyright 1996 J. Westmoreland

Oh, the interesting things you learn when you're networking around for gigs

Everyone's favorite DAREDEVIL writer -- well, smart people's favorite DAREDEVIL writer -- Annie Nocenti recently signed on as an editor at HIGH TIMES. I don't know about the ganja aspect, but the rest of the magazine should dovetail nicely with her interests and politics.

Never let a computer make your meals

Mark Evanier points to yet another way to waste time online. Here's my attempt to stump the computer; I was thinking of Nutella, and it guessed that I was thinking of a sphincter, spaghetti and pepperoni -- in that order.

Condi Everybody Wants



I never thought I'd see the day that Natalie Merchant wouldn't be my number one crush, but for the first time in a dozen years, another girl may have permanently taken Natalie's place in my heart and masturbation scenarios: Condoleezza Rice. Oh yes, indeedy do. It helps, of course, that Rice sorta looks like a tanned Merchant, but more than that, my Condi's evil -- pure motherfucking evil -- but she still has the same pole and overripe lemon up her ass that my Natalie has.

Maybe it's just time for me to move on; perhaps there must come a time in a man's life when he stops chasing the chippies in the sarong skirts and Birkenstocks and starts chasing the chippies in the skirt-suits and sensible heels.

A John Westmoreland Vignette

Not long before the end, he sits me down, looks me dead in the eye and says, "Boy, I want you to think about the first person you made love to in your bed. Now, which bed was it? Don't tell me -- I want to think about how many other people you slept with in that bed. Think of the number. Now think of your next bed -- how many did you fuck in that bed? It's either half or doubles, isn't it? Funny how that works. I wanted to get a grant to study the phenomenon, but the music business strayed me from the sciences. I regret every day since. I want you to never forget this discussion, kid. Now get out of here." The End.

Five bucks is MINE!

I just won a bet on what the initial reaction to the Crumb book would be -- bile over that crappy cover. On one hand, I'm broke so the Abe Lincoln is most welcome -- think of all the Ramen that'll buy me! But on the other hand, good fucking grief, those people give morons a bad name.

It's been so long since I was on the "outside" when a messboard thread was locked down that I never realized how really creepy it is to see a lockdown with zero explanation from an admin. Granted, it's not hard to figure out why the thread was shut down, but still ...

A Song To My Son

Do not call me, father dear. Do not seek me. Do not call me, do not wish me back. We're on a route uncharted, fire and blood erase our track. On we fly, on wings of thunder, nevermore to sheath our swords. All of us in battles fallen, not to be brought back by words. Will there be a rendezvous? I know not. I only know we still must fight. We are sand grains in infinity, never to meet, nevermore see light.

Farewell then my son, farewell then my conscience, my youth and my solace, my one and my only. And let this farewell be the end of the story, a solitude vast in which none is more lonely. In which you remain barred, forever and ever, from light and from air with your death pangs untold. Untold and unproved, not to be resurrected -- forever and ever, an eighteen year old. Farewell then. No trains ever come from those regions, unscheduled or scheduled. No airplanes fly there. Farewell then my son, for no miracles happen, as in this world, dreams do not come true. Farewell. I will dream of you still as a baby, treading the earth with little strong toes. The earth where so many already lie buried. This song to my son, then, has come to its close.

-- Anonymous Englishman, 1944

Even his hair is a shadow of its former self.

Dennis Miller's talk shows have always sank or swam by the caliber of the people in the writers' room and the producer's office, but I've heard that the straight-comedy parts of his new MSNBC are shockingly lame. If this clip is any indication, Miller's interview skills have gone straight into the crapper, too. Alterman's blog posts about the show are far funnier and intelligent than anything that's likely to escape Miller's piehole in the next 20 years.

From a conversation with Mr. Westmoreland, April 5, 1992

My defining moment, the great tragedy of my life, was when I was fired from my position as Gene in a Kiss cover band after a show in State College, PA. To give you an idea of how long ago this was, we were only the 59th Kiss tribute band in the world who thought we were the first to be named "KISS My Ass." Anyway, for all the time I was in KISS My Ass [#59], the other guys could never figure out how I could pretend to vomit blood at the end of my bass solo -- just like how Gene Simmons does it! -- without running backstage to get a cupful of stage blood in my mouth first. Well ... in State College, I finally told them I wasn't pretending. I still don't see what the dealbreaker was -- I mean, the whole point of those tribute bands is be as close to the real thing as humanly possible, right? Those lameass wannabes were just holding me back anyway.

Do not think of Charlie Brown's penis.

Of course, now you and I can't.

I'd like to think that if it was real and could speak, Chuck's cock would sound just like Al Pacino in SCARFACE: "Hey you fuckin' vultures, you don' have the guts to look me in the eye when you try to break my fuckin' back. You gotta pull that motherfuckin' football out from under me, hunh? That makes you feel real good, hunh? Big man. Well, FUCK YOU! What kind of man you think I am? You think I'm gonna run a kick that fuckin' ball? No fuckin' way. I don' need tha' shit in my life."

Most impressive spam, ever.

I thought I'd share this from my last journal from January: OK, so I'm checking my e-mail and this pop-up ad, well, pops up and not only changes my home page settings, it also brought up a page about the dangers of spyware. I was too busy trying to close the window when the screen flashed something like "and THEY can even take control of your CD drives!" at which point both my D and E drives popped open. I just about downloaded in my pants. While I was rebooting my computer, I thought about buying some their spyware-killer software, but then I realized I don't want to give my money to any asshole who fucks with my computer. Still, that's quite a way to get a customer's attention. [I downloaded the freeware version of AdAware instead, which kicks ass.]

¡Hang Ten, Locas!

I thought it would be amusing to kick off the blog with this image from the next LOVE & ROCKETS [issue #13]. The scan's a little jaggy, sure, but you can easily imagine what a boss funnybook it would be. Enjoy.



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This blog is dedicated to the memory of Tomas Pottawatta, who passed away in 2002. He would have turned 57 today.