Author: Mike Gold

Weird Scenes #106: COVID Don’t Give A Peep!

Weird Scenes #106: COVID Don’t Give A Peep!

We had time and space and freedom, / We had love and peace to spare / Though we ran out of things to smoke and say and eat and wear / And the morning of the avalanche / The Yeti kidnapped Blanche / And took her to his cave up in the Rockies. – Colorado, by Christopher Guest, Sean Kelly, and Tony Hendra, 1973

I will concede most of us are going crazy from the COVID lockdown. For a social Darwinist like me, though, is there is a bright side. Those who are not going crazy are out infecting and being infected by their fellow science deniers. As my father often told me, “you always gotta learn the hard way, don’t you?”

Uh-oh. There goes another chunk of my bleeding heart liberal street-cred. Well, easy come, easy go.

I feel sorry for the kids, although most have made out pretty good. Every politician claims the kids are desperate to go back to a real school. Yeah, you betcha. I have no doubt a small group of tiny freaks do feel that way, but the rest are just pissed off they’ve run out of things to do and friends to do it to. It’s the parents (certainly not the teachers, as they tend to value life) who want real school to start. They feel they have earned the right to chose sanity over safety. But parents already knew they made that sacrifice the day they decided to have kids, so um tut sut, mofos. You people brought these beings into this world, and you are obligated to keep everything kosher until they are old enough to change your diapers. Revenge is a dish best served old. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #106: COVID Don’t Give A Peep!”

Weird Scenes #105: Zombie Fires!

Weird Scenes #105: Zombie Fires!

Talk with your mouth full / Bite the hand that feeds you / Bite off more than you chew / What can you do? / Dare to be stupid — Al Yankovic (Weird), 1985

When it comes to wildfires, we here in the States tend to think of California… as well we should, particularly right now. This year’s deadly conflagrations have spread to Oregon and Washington State. Or, as President Tang says, “those antifa anarchist states.” Wildfires have done a world of harm to Australia as well. And, now, Russia.

But… the arctic circle? And… zombie fires? ZOMBIE FIRES IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE?

Wow. That one didn’t even make it into the bibles. And they sadly shit-canned the revered Weekly World News, so you might not have heard of zombie fires.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program Director Peter Winsor, a zombie fire is one that starts in the permafrost layer. Those things consist of frozen soil, silt, gravel, frozen plants and animals and sand bound together by frozen water. Such layers can be hundreds of meters thick – or, in midtown Manhattan terms, about two blocks thick, which is deeper than many Broadway potholes. A good place to find permafrost is in the arctic circle, where its less likely to break down due to lower warming conditions. Those last two words are known in the writing racket as “foreshadowing.” Continue reading “Weird Scenes #105: Zombie Fires!”

Brainiac On Banjo #097: Yeah, Baseball!

Brainiac On Banjo #097: Yeah, Baseball!

Steve Goodman

Give me a doubleheader funeral in Wrigley Field / On some sunny weekend day – no lights / Have the organ play the National Anthem / And then a little ‘Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye’ / Make six bullpen pitchers carry my coffin / And six groundskeepers clear my path / Have the umpires bark me out at every base / In all their holy wrath — Steve Goodman, A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request, 1983.

One of the many differences I have with the Conventional Wisdom is that I see professional sports as part of our popular culture and not as a religion. If every player on the New York Mets were from New York City, and so on, that might be different. Root, root, root for the home team. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #097: Yeah, Baseball!”

Weird Scenes #104: Crossing The Line

Weird Scenes #104: Crossing The Line

Hey Jessica, you’re so funny / You’ve got teeth just like Bugs Bunny / Oh, so you think you know me now / Have you forgotten how / You would make me feel / When you dragged my spirit down? / But thank you for the pain / It made me raise my game / And I’m still rising, I’m still rising – Jessie J, written by Abrahams Kyle James and Astasio George, 2011

Whenever Donald Trump, a.k.a. the John Wayne Gacy of American presidents, does something that “crosses the line” — and this only happens on days that end in “y” — I am reminded of a classic Bugs Bunny routine. I’ll bet most of you folks already know the bit.

Bugs is being chased (and vice versa) by Yosemite Sam. Bugs stops and draws a line in the ground. “I dare you to step over that line,” Bugs challenges Sam, who then crosses the line. “How about this line?” He crosses that line as well. Bugs continues drawing lines and Sam keeps on crossing them, now by rote. Eventually Bugs draws the last line, on the edge of a cliff, and Yosemite Sam crosses it and falls to his cartoon death.

Here on Earth-Trump, the one in which we are compelled to live, we have yet to see that final scene. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #104: Crossing The Line”

Brainiac On Banjo #096: At Last – My Flying Automobile!

Brainiac On Banjo #096: At Last – My Flying Automobile!

Sweet birds are flying like the wings of my soul / The warm breeze / The eyes to the sky / Feel the even flow of the change in time — Trey Anastasio, Flying Machines, 2015

I blame Julius Schwartz.

Julie was a major editor at DC Comics from 1944 until he retired in 1986 and, before that, he was one of the nation’s first science-fiction agents. Julie represented — among others — Alfred Bester, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and H. P. Lovecraft. He co-founded the World Science Fiction Convention, and before that, co-founded Time Traveller, one of the first science fiction fanzines, partnering with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J. Ackerman. So when it comes to the realms of speculative fiction in prose and visuals, Julie was the nexus of all unrealities.

As a child, I grew up gawking at his science fiction titles Strange Adventures and Mystery In Space, which featured many of the top talents that would soon join him in creating what we refer to as the Silver Age of Comics. In true s-f faction, those stories thrilled us with tales about flying skyscrapers, flying gorillas, and flying cars. The first two were amusing but outside the bounds of likely possibility. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #096: At Last – My Flying Automobile!”

Weird Scenes #103: The Fire This Time

Weird Scenes #103: The Fire This Time

Self-destroyer, wreck your health / Destroy friends, destroy yourself / The time device of self-destruction / Light the fuse and start eruption / Paranoia, the destroyer / And it goes like this. — Paranoia, written by Ray Davies, 1981

Over my life-span I’ve been to Kenosha, Wisconsin dozens of times. It’s not quite the bucolic little anti-urban town President Tang’s choir members have been saying it is, as in “That’s the real America, and they won’t stand for these uppity communist terrorists.” Not true. It is a nice, previously pleasant, city that has the honor of being in two overlapping, blue-voting metropolitan areas. You can catch a commuter train that will take you straight to downtown Chicago, you can catch a bus that will take you to downtown Milwaukee.

Or you can take a long gun, put it in a car, drive 30 minutes from Antioch, Illinois and start shooting “antifa,” just like Überfuhrer Tang asks you to do. You could do this even if you’re 17 years old. You may be too young to vote, but you’ll get pardoned well in time to participate in Tang’s third presidential election. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #103: The Fire This Time”

Brainiac On Banjo #095: Fair Play Is Terrific

Brainiac On Banjo #095: Fair Play Is Terrific

Middle fingaz in the air / We gonn make it multiplayer / If the game ain’t fair / Better play it multiplayer — Khontkar and Bixi Blake, Multiplayer, 2017

The first golden age comic book I ever purchased was Sensation Comics #7, 1942. It cover-featured Wonder WomanH.G. Peter and William Marston, of course — and it co-starred features of which I had never heard. I thought Irwin Hasen and Bill Finger’s Wildcat was a great character, and I still do. Shelly Moldoff and Gardner Fox’s Black Pirate was adequate but dramatically drawn. A remarkably bad series from Jon L. Blummer and Bill Finger called Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys lived up to the ambiance of its name, and that is a name you do not want to say too quickly. There was some filler material about stamps and things… and, oh yeah, there was a costumed superhero by Hal Sharp and Charles Reizenstein dubbed Mr. Terrific.

That was not exactly the best-named superhero on the block. “Mr. Terrific” smacked of desperation and lazy thinking, as if showrunners Shelly Meyer and Max Gaines said “Oh, screw it, let’s just call him ‘Mr. Terrific’ and hope for the best.” His abilities were negligible, and to draw attention to that his stomach was emblazoned with the legend “Fair Play.” This hardly was “Truth, Justice and the American Way” or “The Weed of Crime Bears Bitter Fruit.” This was just a wee bit better than “Sockamagee.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #095: Fair Play Is Terrific”

Weird Scenes #102: That OTHER End of the World

Weird Scenes #102: That OTHER End of the World

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. — City planner and architect Daniel Burnham, 1891.

I’m going to try to do something different this week. I’m going to see if I can make it through this episode of Weird Scenes without once mentioning President Tang. Place your bets, folks.

For the past six months, we have been focusing on what seems like the greater evil — the COVID plague. It is the greater evil, but let’s assume — for the moment — we beat it. We survive. Make no little plans, Daniel Burnham said about 130 years ago, and I have tried to live my life by that slice of wisdom.

But… what happens the day after that? We won’t be out of the woods… except, maybe, literally. How do we keep our planet safe? Where else are we going to live?

Perhaps you’ve heard of a place called Death Valley. For those who only remember a rather crappy Ronald Reagan television series by that title, it’s actually a real place in eastern California. It’s part of the Mojave Desert, and it’s not quite the best part. The name of the town tells us most of what we need to know: it ain’t a walk in the park, it’s a vast, hotter than hell wasteland. The Timbisha Tribe still lives around there, just in case you think our First Americans are being well taken care of. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #102: That OTHER End of the World”

Brainiac On Banjo #094: Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah!

Brainiac On Banjo #094: Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah!

Well, I went to the doctor / I said, “I’m feeling kind of rough” / He said, “Let me break it to you, son / “Your shit’s fucked up.” / I said, “My shit’s fucked up? / “Well, I don’t see how / He said, “The shit that used to work / It won’t work now.” – Warren Zevon, My Shit’s Fucked Up, from the album Life’ll Kill Ya, 2000

This week we offer a three short subjects for our attention-span impaired friends…

ITEM 1: Beware of Falling Objects

A couple months ago, WarnerMedia announced HBOMax, the ultimate Warner Bros streaming service. And the most expensive, as I noted. They consumed their first Pac-Man, HBOGo. Go? Go know… I also noted, a few hours after the announcement, that there no longer was a way to keep their DC Universe going. I certainly wasn’t the only person who came up with this analysis — it was obvious, sorta like saying “that yellow thing in the sky is ‘the sun’” — but I blurted it out faster than a speeding bullet.

However, there was some significant collateral damage. The death of DCU (which, as predicted, will see its original programming going over to HBOMax) begat a very severe round of staff-hatcheting at DC comics. After moving 3,000 miles to new “state-of-the-art” facilities — they didn’t mention which art — their parking lot now can welcome more pigeons. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #094: Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah!”

Weird Scenes #101 — Everyday Surrealism

Weird Scenes #101 — Everyday Surrealism

There’s danger on the edge of town / Ride the King’s highway, baby / Weird scenes inside the gold mine / Ride the highway west, baby — The End, written by The Doors, 1967

As I walked upstairs to my Scribbler’s Sanctorum to write these words, I noticed daughter was watching a hockey game. That’s hardly unusual in this house; both of us are hockey fans and unless otherwise occupied we will watch any game that has a puck and a dearth of New York Rangers fans. But instead of nodding my head in regret, I was thinking of how surreal our times have become.

I do not believe we have ever had the privilege of watching the Stanley Cup playoff games in the middle of a workday afternoon. I’m pretty damned certain we never had new playoff games aired live in August. Hockey in the height of summer just feels wrong. To be fair, so does a team in Las Vegas, where it is (as I type) 106°. And I know for a fact that the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who dress like Doctor Fate on stakes, beat the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night. Las Vegas, very hot. Chicago, very cold. The only thing we’re missing here is Porky Pig’s landing at Wackyland. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #101 — Everyday Surrealism”