Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: The "Cleaning out My Library" Edition

After we finished our walk on Sunday afternoon last weekend, Sally asked me if I had any books to donate to the local library's annual book sale/fund raiser.

"Do I?" I replied.  "Hell yes I do."

My boxes of books, now destined for Stratford Library.
But the best thing about this isn't just that I got a chance to get all into my own personal fung shui, nor is it that I'm helping the local library, though both of those are worthy results, of course.

No the best thing was that I found a bunch of stuff that I thought was lost.

1.  "The Guy Next Door is Playing Christmas Music"
By far and away, Sally's least favorite thing about me is my near-lifelong disdain for Christmas music.  I don't mind the classic stuff, like Handel's "Messiah", but I hate the pop culturey stuff like "Here Come Santa Claus" and/or "Jingle Bells".  Blech!  That stuff drives me crazy.

It's because as a plebe at West Point, I lived across the hall from a yearling who used to torment me and my roommate with that crap constantly during our first semester at the Academy.  The guy actually turned out to be a pretty good dude once we got to know him, but in those dark, early days he was a relentless son-of-a-bitch who insisted on playing Christmas music daily, starting in early November.  It drove me mad.  I don't even think he was trying to be particularly sadistic, but this one thing is what stands out in my mind when I think of what sucked about West Point.  It was at once both a constant reminder of friends and family and a reminder that neither were at all close by.  Granted, I would eventually come to think of my classmates as family in their own way, but I hadn't gotten to that point back during first semester...

Anyway, I wound up writing a poem about the experience, which earned the cover on my plebe English (EN102) anthology.  Me and a handful of other young English scholars "validated" EN101 and went straight into the Academy's second semester English class, which our professor decided to memorialize with a very small print run of our collected works, and yes, it was this collection that I found first whilst cleaning my library.

Oh, the melodrama!  The horror!  The pain!


Anyway, I read through some of the other works in the anthology and really liked quite a few of them.  I'd name names, but this isn't not that kind of blog.  Still, if you had a piece in this thing--or you just think that you might have--let me know, and I'll see if I can dig up your work and send it to you.

2.  "Damned Russians..."
The other work I dug up over the weekend was an old comic I wrote with one of my fellow collaborators over at Awesome Storm Justice 41.  This was a few years ago.  My friend had drawn five or six pages for a contest that Tokyo Pop was having at the time, but then he hit a wall and didn't know where to take the story from there.  I pitched him an idea, he liked it, and the result is below.

Astute readers will notice that this story is in continuity with "Centurion Six" and "The Return of Dr. Necropolis" in that it also features the mythical Chinese battle drug AMP--amphetamine methyl-phencyclidine--as its MacGuffin.

Anyway, I don't know if this story ever actually had a name, but I would happily credit the artist if I could remember who that was.  Still, we didn't win the contest, so I don't suppose there's any harm in sharing these pages.  Going back over it, I still really like how it turned out.

"As a result of Monday’s trade for Terrelle Pryor, the Seattle Seahawks now have two quarterbacks on their roster who will make more money in 2014 than Super Bowl winner and starter Russell Wilson. Both Pryor and Tarvaris Jackson will earn more for the upcoming season than the man who led Seattle to its first NFL championship."

Wilson should hold out.  After last season, he'd be a fool not to.

"Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of behaving in a “19th-century fashion” because of its annexation of Crimea.

But Western experts who have followed the success of Russian forces in carrying out President Vladimir V. Putin’s policy in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have come to a different conclusion about Russian military strategy. They see a military disparaged for its decline since the fall of the Soviet Union skillfully employing 21st-century tactics that combine cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops to seize the initiative from the West."

What has impressed me is the way that the Russians have been able to consistently manufacture crises without massacring people wholesale.  They've managed to somehow keep their gunfights small and manageable while at the same time inflaming outrage on every side.  And as a result, they've come out looking like the reasonable party--at least to the people whose opinions seem to matter locally on the ground, anyway.

With that in mind, though, I don't know that I think this necessarily proves anything about the Russian Army.  What it proves is that the Russian government has found a way to act subtly but decisively while ruthlessly pursuing its own objectives.  And I very much doubt there is anything the West can do about it without making some major changes to a whole raft of international programs that are absolutely dependent on Russian cooperation.  

For example, NASA can't even launch rockets into space anymore without Russian help.  Sure, we could fix that, but it would be expensive, and the end result would almost certainly not be worth the cost.  After all, rebuilding NASA won't actually fix events in the Ukraine.  It's just one of the many ways in which the US and Russia are tied in the modern world, and like so many of those, it would be ruinously expensive to unwind it.  As with the rest of it, yes, it is possible to go back to a Cold War footing and in order to try to genuinely isolate Russia from the international community, but at this point, it's a little hard to believe that Americans and--especially--Western Europeans are willing to shoulder that burden.  Bottom line, the Red Line is the eastern border of Poland, and Putin hasn't threatened that yet.

"Generation X is sick of your bullshit.

The first generation to do worse than its parents? Please. Been there. Generation X was told that so many times that it can't even read those words without hearing Winona Ryder's voice in its heads. Or maybe it's Ethan Hawke's. Possibly Bridget Fonda's."

This article was easily the best thing I read this week.  Easily.  I mean, the whole thing is just fucking fantastic, but what's even better are the comments, which are all so relentlessly negative as to prove the author's point beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I can't like this enough.  I really can't.

Also: it was definitely Winona Ryder's voice.  No question about it.

The whole room is a library, but I just have the one shelf that's actually mine.
That's all I've got.  Have a great weekend!


  1. The library is one of my prime sources for comic book reading... good for you. Loved the Gen X article... I should clear my schedule to look at more of your writing, but that seems unlikely...

    1. Thanks! And no worries. We're all busy. Remind me when I finish the draft of my book, and I'll send you a Review Copy.