Author: Mike Gold

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #083: Rule Forty-Two!

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #083: Rule Forty-Two!

At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!’ and read out from his book, `Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.’ / Everybody looked at Alice. / `I’m not a mile high,’ said Alice. / `You are,’ said the King. / `Nearly two miles high,’ added the Queen. / `Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,’ said Alice: `besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.!” – Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

If you’ve read Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, which I highly recommend, your take-away might have been “hot damn, that place is a real downer.”

Well, then. Welcome to Wonderland.

Drink me.

Every press conference held by America’s greatest unarmed bigot is little more than contradictions and obvious lies. Many are doing what we’re supposed to do, which is easier for those of us who have long thought social distancing is a swell idea. It sucks if you’re in a Red State where they are getting much of what they need to save lives, but it really sucks if you’re in a Blue State. You’re getting maybe 5% of what you need to protect citizens, first responders, doctors, nurses, the people who clean up the infected shit in the hospitals, the people who deliver the mail and packages and take-out food and work in the supermarkets, etc. etc. etc. You know, the people who are saving lives. Oh, and some of that stuff you’ve received is well past its “best-use” date. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #083: Rule Forty-Two!”

Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?

Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?

In these disease-ridden times, it is quite natural for us to be preoccupied with matters of life, health, and continuity. But it is equally logical to assume that someday this will pass, and most all of us will be around the celebrate.

Well, I hate to be a buzzkill, but on that much anticipated day… that’s when we step into deep pile of fresh economic bat-dung. Lots of people are going to be hurting bad for money – I’m writing this on Sunday, so I can’t check out my retirement fund, and that is a relief. I suspect almost as many are going to be hurting for jobs.

This hurts all of us, but it likely will be devastating to Mom ’n’ Pop stores, cockroach capitalists, and to self-employed folks of all stripes. In other words, I’m talking about the network of maybe a couple thousand (on a good day) comic book stores. Therefore, I’m also talking about the future of the “smaller” comics publishers, their staffs, writers, artists, and the related backroom activities like distributors necessary to keep everything moving. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?”

Weird Scenes 082: What Goes Around… Goes Around… And Around…

Weird Scenes 082: What Goes Around… Goes Around… And Around…

Instant Karma’s gonna get you / Gonna knock you right on the head / You better get yourself together / Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead…

Welcome to our first edition of Weird Scenes Inside The Covid Mind…

Yin: According to published reports, crime is down about five percent; of course, your results might vary.

Yang: On the other hand, domestic violence is up 10%. Add that to the ridiculous increase of gun sales – what, you’re gonna shoot Covid-19? – and we might have a whole ‘nother problem real soon.

Wha?: The term “coronababies” is a thing. If you think diapers are hard to get right now, just wait until November.

Hmm: If we make it through this relatively intact, and keep a pleasant thought, we will have the internet to thank. It doesn’t prevent the stir-crazy, but it does mitigate it.

Feh: Bailout for Boeing? Well, I try to be loyal to my landsman companies, but these profit-over-lives money worshippers deserve to go blooie – even if they swear on a pile of Boeing 737 Max 8 parts that they won’t spend a penny of it on stock buybacks. I should point out that when the government bailout terms were near completion two days ago, Boeing’s stock skyrocketed. 33 billion dollars to the greatest gathering of corporate assholes in America – the airline industry – while the Blue states are given Green Stamps. And when it comes to buybacks… Continue reading “Weird Scenes 082: What Goes Around… Goes Around… And Around…”

Brainiac On Banjo 078: Self-Image For Fun & Profit

Brainiac On Banjo 078: Self-Image For Fun & Profit

Thank heaven for little girls / For little girls get / Bigger every day / Thank heaven for little girls / They grow up in / The most delightful way • Thank Heaven For Little Girls, written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe for the musical Gigi, 1958.

I was a wee child, a kitchen table conversation happened that, I gather, was not meant to include me. My sister, seven years my senior, was talking about some sort of a problem with body tenderness. My mother suggested perhaps she should use a training bra.

I was confused. I knew what a bra was, but I failed to understand the “training” part. As far as I could tell, breasts kinda grew all on their own and there was no need for coaching. I probably asked a lot of dumb questions, because, well, that’s what I do. I got a lot of blank stares. Hey, it was the mid-1950s; adults didn’t even admit to having bowel movements back then.

As I grew into my role as a hyper-involved pop culture historian, I came across various articles and resources that explained to me that “training bras” were sold to girls so that they might grow into the self-image of womanhood while they were awaiting the more physical image of womanhood. Like it or not, they were gonna become consumers and that was what the “training” part was all about.

According to JSTOR Daily, the period between 1921 and 1930 (when the middle class had a few bucks) clothing manufacturers started pushing age-and-gender specific clothing. In order to sell their phony-baloney products, they had to convince the customers that they really needed to buy that which they never knew they needed. That’s capitalism for you: we’ll talk you into overpaying for something you don’t need, and then sell you something else when you figure out you’ve been had. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo 078: Self-Image For Fun & Profit”

Weird Scenes #081: Visions, Softly Creeping

Weird Scenes #081: Visions, Softly Creeping

DEAD COLLECTOR (Eric Idle): Bring out your dead! / CUSTOMER (John Cleese): Here’s one. / DEAD COLLECTOR: Nine pence. / DEAD PERSON (John Young): I’m not dead! DEAD COLLECTOR: What? / CUSTOMER: Nothing. Here’s your nine pence. / DEAD PERSON: I’m not dead! / DEAD COLLECTOR: ‘Ere. He says he’s not dead! / CUSTOMER: Yes, he is. / DEAD PERSON: I’m not! / DEAD COLLECTOR: He isn’t? / CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill. / DEAD PERSON: I’m getting better! / CUSTOMER: No, you’re not. You’ll be stone dead in a moment. • Monty Python and The Holy Grail, 1975, written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Sir Thomas Malory

What… too soon?

I really did not want to write about The Plague. Or Donald Trump, a.k.a. The Other Plague. I wrestled with this while reading texts from my younger friends about waiting outside of Costco for 45 minutes only to be stuck in a 60-minute check-out line behind a plethora of people buying their daily limit of rolled corpses of dead trees. Yeah, no disease spread there, right?

There’s little we can do about stopping The Plague itself, and there’s nothing we can do about The Other Plague until November… assuming The Other Plague grows balls big enough to try to call off the election. My latter comment does not fit the textbook definition of paranoia.

There are other things going on. For example, Tulsi Gabbard just quit the Democratic Party presidential race. I’ll pause while you go Wiki her. Ah, Tulsi, we hardly knew ye. Then again, given her exceptional loathing of the LGBTQ community, we hardly want to. She tossed her massive support – she won two delegates in American Samoa – to Joe Biden, who responded: “Thank you. And you are…?” Continue reading “Weird Scenes #081: Visions, Softly Creeping”

Brainiac On Banjo #077: Disasterbaiting – The Lighter Side of Doom

Brainiac On Banjo #077: Disasterbaiting – The Lighter Side of Doom

I learned our government must be strong / It’s always right and never wrong / Our leaders are the finest men / And we elect them again and again • “What Did We Learn In School Today?” written by Tom Paxton, 1964.

It does not matter if your favorite movies and teevee shows and steamers have halted production – as most have. Theaters and binging parties and gas stations and toilet paper are history, at least for the nonce. Most sex workers are off the stroll but, hey, soft white gloves are impossible to find, so WTF.

Therefore, as a card-carrying obnoxious bastard (yes; I have a card – as does our Pop Culture Squad HBIC), I decided to bother a bunch of friends, contacts, and complete strangers who can mumble through their useless face masks. Hey, it’s a living. I asked them the following question:

“How does the ‘Hollywood’ shutdown affect you personally?” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #077: Disasterbaiting – The Lighter Side of Doom”

Weird Scenes #080: “I Didn’t Know You Could Die From The Flu.”

Weird Scenes #080: “I Didn’t Know You Could Die From The Flu.”

Right from my toes / On up to my nose / Flow on, flow on, river of shit / I’ve been swimming In this river of shit / More than 20 years, and I’m getting tired of it / Don’t like swimming, hope it’ll soon run dry / Got to go on swimming, cause I don’t want to die. • Wide, Wide River, written by Ken Weaver and Lionel Lewis Goldbart from The Fugs’ 1969 album “It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest.”

Please re-read the headline above. It has quotes around it because, last Friday, the Great Orange Fool said “Over the last long period of time, you have an average of 36,000 people dying (a year) … I never heard those numbers. I would’ve been shocked. I would’ve said, ‘Does anybody die from the flu? I didn’t know people died from the flu.’”

For the record, the President of the United States did not start COVID-19. He has done all he could to spread the disease due to his actions, his inactions, his disgust with science, his jealousy of those more intelligent than he, the way he goes down on the so-called religious voters, and his obligations to Vlad Putin and to those who finance his ventures and have kept him out of prison thus far have reduced the global population to quivering androids of Jell-O without any real clue as to what they should do, except for washing their hands in 120 proof alcohol.

Worst yet – Trump’s actions started long before we ever heard the word “Coronavirus.” In 2018, many of America’s top officials charged with handling pandemics got fired for having dared to have been hired by Barack Obama. Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, the National Security Council’s senior director of global health and biodefense, was replaced by giving his responsibilities to that well known health care expert, John Bolton. Not-Doctor-John promptly pushed out Tom Bossert, the NCS adviser who recommended maintaining strong defenses against disease and biological warfare. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #080: “I Didn’t Know You Could Die From The Flu.””

Brainiac On Banjo #076: King Of Fame

Brainiac On Banjo #076: King Of Fame

There’s a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt / There’s a rich man sleeping on a golden bed / There’s a skeleton choking on a crust of bread / King of pain • “King of Pain,” written by Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE, a.k.a. Sting. Fun Fact: Sting wrote this little ditty while staying at Ian Fleming’s former Goldeneye estate in Jamaica. If you don’t get the connection, hang on … you will.

As one can determine from my frequent incursions into Earth-Ether, when it comes to Tom King I’ve been a fan since “A Once Crowded Sky.” His work on The Vision, Mister Miracle, Batman, various incarnations of Robin, and a whole lot more screams for itself, to borrow from civil rights activist Clara Luper.

Because of these acts of commotion, I have had more than a few inquiries as to the heat of my appreciation for his brand spanking new Strange Adventures series, which is all about Adam Strange, who has been one of my very favorite DC characters since I first encountered Showcase #17. Seriously – I had just finished a check-up from my pediatrician back in 1958, and my mother had to fill a prescription at the drug store downstairs. No, I did not drive there. I took the bus. C’mon; I just turned eight. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #076: King Of Fame”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #079: Weaponizing Nostalgia

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #079: Weaponizing Nostalgia

I used to be on an endless run / Believe in miracles ’cause I’m one / I have been blessed with the power to survive / After all these years I’m still alive • “I Believe In Miracles,” written by
Dee Dee Ramone & Daniel Rey, 1989

Mindless, vicious and deceitful red baiting is not a good look for the Democratic Party. Not even under the cover of NeverTrump.

If you think that Joe Biden kicked Bernie Sanders’ ass because South Carolina is a “more representative” than the previous primary states, then I’ve got a box of used face-masks to sell you. Three top “centrist leaders” quit the race immediately and tossed their support to Biden because, according to the purveyors of Fake News, Barack Obama told them that would unite the party and protect us from a horrible socialist. Each of these doddering hacks said they would be in the race “until the end.”

Well, this is the end, beautiful friend. The end. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #079: Weaponizing Nostalgia”

Brainiac On Banjo #075: Nice Guys Finish

Brainiac On Banjo #075: Nice Guys Finish

If you’re a regular reader of this slice of pop culture pie, you might be surprised by today’s week-opener. Perhaps you should get comfortable, put down the vape pen and pull over to the shoulder. We’ll discuss your driving habits later.

I’m very disappointed Dan DiDio is no longer co-publisher at DC Comics… even though I still don’t understand how you can have “co-publishers.” But that is not something we’ll discuss later. It’s Publishing, and that’s the next town over from Chinatown.

On many occasions I have used this vessel of bubbling hot ether to criticize Dan and DC – and Marvel, for that matter – for being too quick on the reboot pedal. I won’t repeat myself at this time (except in my sleep) because you get it. You might not agree, which is fine, you might agree, which is fun, or you might be somewhere in between. No matter. I remain disappointed.

As I have only a limited ability to convincingly blow smoke up a great many asses simultaneously, I shall share my reasons. First, and most important, as publisher Dan was not afraid of trying out new things and new approaches. Because necessity is indeed the mother of invention, this is – to me – is the most important skill set a publisher can have… and Mark Waid, who has just taken a similar position at Humanoids, Inc. should consider this license.

Wednesday Comics, the most ambitious endeavor DC had undertaken this century, was created by Mark Chairello when Dan was DC’s executive editor; he green-lit it, which is part of the job. Mark said Dan (and then-publisher Paul Levitz; DC goes through more publishers than CatCo) were constantly after him to edit something. He sure did.

I could cite many more examples – his interest in many of DC’s lesser-known characters led to some wonderful character revivals. Every such example entails risk, and if too many of those risks do not pay off, one’s job can be handed over to somebody else. It also provides fodder for Brutus when corporate politics goes nuts. Of course, corporate politics is a self-replicating virus that it is nuts – and almost always is anti-creative. Publishing is a very risky business.

It’s also one that does not inure to the expansion of your database of friends. Not everybody is going to accept your weird ideas, particularly when someone thinks that their toes are being tread on. Imagine how Curt Swan might have felt when he was offed from Superman.

Fact is, Dan has quite a reputation as a nice guy. From his many associates and his great many convention appearances, it is clear he is the real thing… unless, perhaps, you feel it is your ox who is about to be gored. Sadly, that comes with the job.

My personal experiences with DiDio are limited. He was overwhelmingly kind to me at his Suicide Squad movie pre-party and at the world premiere; I hadn’t worked for DC for a while, and he was under no obligation to be so swell. Sometime later, I was at my old pal Jamie Graham’s booth – Graham Crackers, get it? – at some comic book convention (after over a half-century, they all run together), and Dan was there, diving through the long boxes trying to complete his collection of Marvel ComicsWhere Monsters Dwell – which, after all, was a reprint title. He looked up, very slightly embarrassed, and pointed out that he was, after all, a comics fan and collector.

Damn straight, pal! That should be in every comics publisher’s job description. Every single one. And here’s the best reason: whenever corporate brings in somebody from Earth-Prime who thinks publishing comic books is the same as publishing greeting cards or hawking toothpaste, they fail. Always. They also make asses of themselves.

The good publishers only make asses of themselves when it sells comic books. That’s called “priorities.”

Should Dan have been fired? I don’t know. There are plenty of rumors, but decades ago I learned such rumors are at best untrustworthy and, more likely, complete bullshit. I don’t know. You don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if DiDio still doesn’t know the complete story. Did I mention corporate politics are so revulsive I wouldn’t be surprised if AT&T eventually hires Donald Trump for the gig?

I hope Dan remains in the comics racket. So many long boxes, so little time.