Brainiac On Banjo #043: Adam’s Not Strange

I see that our friends at DC Comics are bringing back Adam Strange again.

Yeah, I know. He’s pretty much always been around since his creation 61 years ago. But with DC’s Escheresque approach to continuity, it’s hard to know for sure. It was announced last week that the space hero with the amazing pedigree will return next year in a new Strange Adventures series, courtesy of the team that brought us last year’s award winning (and deservedly so) Mister Miracle series, Tom King and Mitch Gerads, with Doc Shaner joining in on the fun. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #043: Adam’s Not Strange”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #047: Racism Is The New Orange

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #047: Racism Is The New Orange

Perhaps you recall way back last Sunday when the most notorious bigot of the 21st Century told four members of the House of Representatives to go back where they came from, where they should be trying to fix those shithole countries (to borrow a phrase he applied to such lands eighteen months ago) instead of annoying him.

The optics aren’t good here, but let’s face it: we are a nation that is completely polarized. This president really could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue near his tacky Trump Tower #1 and not lose support from his base – which is somewhere between one third and two-firths of the American electorate. He could then try to have sex with the bullet hole (to borrow a concept from my old pal and editor Paul Krassner) and, even if he couldn’t get “it” up his base will gladly hold it for him. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #047: Racism Is The New Orange”

Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You

Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You

I just concluded a scientifically-ridiculous survey and the results are staggering. I still have not met a single person who is looking forward to WarnerMedia’s new Joker movie.

Reportedly, this latest incarnation of our favorite playing card-based villain has nothing to do with any other Joker in any version of the character in any manifestation of any of the overpopulated DCUs. The authenticity of that remains to be not seen. But it appears this DC-logoed movie has less in common with the comic book legend about to endure its 80th birthday than it does with James Bond playing baccarat at the Casino Royale.

That’s okay. The most overused character since Wolverine (who, I believe, showed up in a Planet Terry story arc), I can’t recognize The Joker from one bloated comic book story to the next. Great character, dumb character, confusing character… well, I never met the guy. And seeing that for the past 29 years Warners has been disinterested in making a Batman movie worthy of the cellulose acetate upon which it’s memorialized, I really don’t care. I’ve given up. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind 046: Life’s Little Killings

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind 046: Life’s Little Killings

According to the Washington Post, last week 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin of Peoria Arizona stopped by the Circle K convenience store on his way home from work, one of the two summer jobs he held. He had been listening to rap music in his car, according to 27-year-old Michael Adams, who is not a fan of the genre. Indeed, rap music makes him feel “unsafe.”

Adams feels this way because, according to him, he had been attacked “by people who listen to rap: specifically, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans.” Adams did what many unreasonable people might do under the circumstances: he leaped out with his pocketknife at the ready, he slashed Al-Amin’s throat and then, for good measure, stabbed him in the back.

Al-Amin staggered out of the store and died by the gas pumps in front. Adams said he was being “proactive rather than reactive” and that his victim did nothing to provoke him. That’s quite an admission from a guy who had been released from prison two days earlier – without access to medication. You’d think he’d know better. You’d think he was nuts. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind 046: Life’s Little Killings”

Brainiac On Banjo #043: We’re Not Getting Mad…

Brainiac On Banjo #043: We’re Not Getting Mad…

All your children are poor unfortunate victims of lies you believe / A plague upon your ignorance that keeps the young from the truth they deserve. – Frank Zappa, “What’s The Ugliest Part of Your Body?”

For those who have been following the long and lingering death of Mad Magazine, a couple days ago things took another turn for the worse when it was announced that after two more inventory-burning issues, the legendary publication would stop running new material.

That’s sad. 67 years ago Mad changed the nature of our culture, being the first comic book to confront our nation’s culture and its many foibles head-on. It was an important part of a vital movement in the 1950s spawned by innovators such as Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory, Second City, Ernie Kovacs and Moms Mabley. Mad was all the more important by being the first specifically oriented to those not yet old enough to vote. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #043: We’re Not Getting Mad…”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #045: Fireworks

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #045: Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July, our national celebration of the time a whole lot of immigrants and their offspring told the guy in charge that they’d had enough of his shit. It’s a great American tradition.

It has become quite hard to celebrate this majestic event when our coward in charge and his underlings in ICE, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, the Republican Senate caucus and their fellow travelers literally are torturing thousands of children and their parents.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, holy shit, pick up a newspaper and stop paying attention to the most-excellent professional liars at Fox. All kinds of horrible things are being done to children in your name, and it does not matter who they are or how they got here. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #045: Fireworks”

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #044: How Long Can You Live Without A Spine?

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #044: How Long Can You Live Without A Spine?

Back in 1956, a young senator named John F. Kennedy published a book titled Profiles In Courage. Written by Kennedy and (mostly, according to columnist Cecil Adams) Theodore Sorensen, the tome detailed the stories of eight senators who exhibited extraordinary valor by standing up for the right thing.

Profiles in Courage won a Pulitzer the following year, and when JFK became president it became mandatory reading in public schools across the Union states, as well as some within the friendly confines of the Confederacy. It’s worth reading today, but if you’ve got a short attention span you can find out about these eight old white guys on Wiki.

Please note: I said it was worth reading today. If Ted were to come back from the grave to write a sequel, he need not transverse the River Styx. Spit out Charon’s obol, pal, your follow-up would be shorter than this very piece. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #044: How Long Can You Live Without A Spine?”

The Weed of Crime Bears Bitchin’ Fruit

The Weed of Crime Bears Bitchin’ Fruit

Earlier this month the Illinois legislature passed and sent to the governor a bill legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana. Within 24 hours, I had received a half-dozen emails and texts asking me when I was moving back home.

I’ve been gone a third of a century, but – like most obnoxious Chicago ex-pats – the city remains imbedded in my heart. The people, the traditions, music and the folklore, and the highly dangerous but totally fabulous junk food that is all such an integral part of the city’s culture remains remarkably seductive. Continue reading “The Weed of Crime Bears Bitchin’ Fruit”

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #043: The New York Times: Toonless, Clueless Cowards

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #043: The New York Times: Toonless, Clueless Cowards

About a month ago, the international edition of The New York Times launched a shitstorm when they published an editorial cartoon depicting Donald Trump as Benji Netanyahu’s blind toady. In response, the Gray Lady was loudly condemned by the rabid right for anti-Semitism.

In response to these foolish attacks, the New York Times took a courageous stand. They decided to drop their editorial cartoons across the board. All of them, in both their international edition and their regular American daily. This disappearing act, unless repealed, goes into effect July 1st. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #043: The New York Times: Toonless, Clueless Cowards”

Brainiac On Banjo #041: It’s Not Easy Drinking Green

Brainiac On Banjo #041: It’s Not Easy Drinking Green

If you’re from the Midwest or you’ve spent some serious time there, you are about to understand why I am expanding the meaning of the phrase “pop culture.”

I had just turned 11. I know this because my Uncle Irv took me to Normie’s deli for lunch, and it was next door to Weiner’s Drug Store where I purchased Superman #149, “The Death of Superman.” Yup, that’s the way fanboys organize our personal histories.

I told Uncle Irv I wasn’t very hungry and he suggested I just order a plate of french fries. I didn’t know you could do that, so I was thrilled I didn’t have to waste stomach-space on stuff that inadvertently might be healthy. He then asked me if I ever had a Green River. I didn’t know what that was, so he ordered me a glass. Green River was – and remains – what we in the Midwest call “pop.” Some southerners call it “co-cola” (even if it’s Pepsi), and folks out east call it soda. That annoys me – in my world, “soda” has ice cream in it. Seeing that New Yorkers look down their nose at all things non-New York, I refer to the substance as “soda pop.” They scowl, but they don’t complain. Not if they know me. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #041: It’s Not Easy Drinking Green”