Tag: Don Henley

Brainiac On Banjo #058: The Writer That Devoured Cleveland!

“Kick ’em when they’re up / Kick ’em when they’re down / Kick ’em when they’re stiff / Kick ’em all around.”

-Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar, Dirty Laundry

Popular culture is a living thing. It grows like amoebas on Viagra, constantly mutating into new life forms. This gives us an endless supply of new things and new people who create new things. Some of those folks last, others wish they didn’t take out that seven figure mortgage.

Brian Bendis was one of those new forces. He’s defied the odds — to say the least — by being on the comic writer’s A-list for, well, damn, over two decades. That’s quite a feat; but the fact that a dozen newer writers subsequently have joined that same A-list without pushing him off is nothing short of remarkable. He started out with the “independents,” went to Marvel, earned his way into getting screen credit for about a million movies and television shows while creating all sorts of cool characters, and then left the House of Mouse for Kryptonian pastures.

Anybody who can jilt Mickey like that deserves a guest shot on South Park.

I thought he had a slow start on the Man of Steel, but instead of annoying me (which is very easy to do), I was fascinated. He was taking risks and stepping on Superman’s cape — declining to adapt to overworked standards while working with the flow to scrape the barnacles off Superman. Watching that has been an interesting experience. Last week it all come together for this jaded reader.

Action Comics #1016 (whole number, 1016) is all about Superman’s losing his battle with a fairly new villain, the Red Cloud – not to be confused with either of the Red Tornadoes. The Daily Planet’s reporter / gossip columnist Trish Q is on the story, canvassing the neighborhood and interviewing those who saw the conflict. This is and of itself is pretty cool – as far as I can tell, the Daily Planet invented newsroom cutbacks 60 years ago by limiting Perry White’s on-panel staff to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, maybe Jimmy Olsen (who may or may not be the staff photographer who may or may not write stuff), and occasionally Steve Lombard and Cat Grant. Of course, lately Lois has been hiding in a very expensive Chicago hotel, doubtlessly searching for the world’s best Italian beef sammich like the rest of us. Trish is a very interesting character, and I hope she sticks around.

About two-thirds of the story is told through the comments made by Trish’s interview subjects. There’s nothing new about this storytelling technique, and it makes good use of Bendis’s gift for expository dialogue. But it is out-of-the-ordinary to tell the story of Superman’s defeat in battle in such a manner; writers usually focus on the flow of action with dramatic close-ups of the hero’s face being beaten to a pulp. In his “telling-through-interview” style, Brian is showing us the faith the citizenry has in the Man of Steel while avoiding the limp, overworked cliché of the masses turning on their champion for failing to defeat every evil that is foisted upon them.

In other words, this is a story about faith. It’s somewhat subtle, but faith is a subtle thing.

Bendis introduces his creation Naomi to the Justice League, creating another opportunity for him to play a bit with the world’s most psychotic costumed family jewel, the ubiquitous Batman. In the real world, such as it is, Bruce Wayne would be shackled to a wall in Arkham Asylum. In Bendis’s world, Batman is fleshed out a bit around the edges, giving purpose (legitimate or not) to his massive assholery. I’d read the story for this alone.

Much praise has been heaped on Brian Bendis over the past decades, and that, of course, makes him target for terminally obese trolls who dirty their own laundry. That’s how fame works. But if you think this guy didn’t earn his chops or that he’s past his prime, check out Action Comics #1016.

Special thanks to M.G. Krebs for the title to this week’s masterpiece. Brian Michael Bendis, like Jerry Siegel before him, is from Cleveland. To the best of my knowledge, neither are monsters… in the classical sense.

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #019: My Bed Is Getting Crowded, by Mike Gold

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #019: My Bed Is Getting Crowded, by Mike Gold

As I often say, the last two weeks of the year is the most boring time of the 52 weeks Pope Gregory XIII granted us. Nothing happens, and outside of maybe some parties there’s nothing much to do. Even with 666 teevee channels – plus streamers  – there’s nothing to watch. I’m amazed the birthrate doesn’t take a preposterous leap every Labor Day, and not simply to actualize the pun.

This void particularly annoys the 24-hour, broadcast, print, and ether news operations. Simply put, outside of a bunch of redundant and now-boring tweets, there’s no news to be dished out in Greater Newsland. Seeing as how the phrase “nature abhors a vacuum” has become a commercial dictum, the media need to surround their public service advertising and football promos with something and, really, making stuff up is harder to do than covering a flower show.

So we in the media (and, yes, this is part of the media – and so are you) do the next best thing: we direct our attention to the babblings of pundits who will pull predictions out of their asses and then make negative comments about those very utterances. Hypocrisy is just another word for short attention span.

This year, the theme is “look at how many Democrats are running for president!!!” Let’s ignore the fact that, technically, there are no announced candidates for the 2020 presidential ballot. Let’s also ignore the fact that the only race right now is for campaign contributions and the millions a candidate can raise from the Legion of Fatcats not only inures to their benefit but also keeps said loot out of the hands of their potential opponents. It’s that simple. Most polls put most likely candidates in single-digits, but that is meaningless. The potential candidate only wants to make his or her name recognizable to said fatcats. If these wannabes can’t raise enough money, they won’t declare their candidacy. Well, not without Vlad Putin’s help.

The waning weeks of 2018 also showed us the media think (without a uni-mind, contrary to the babblings of the professionally paranoid) America is fed up with the current Petulance-in-Chief so they consider these alternatives as saviors. Of course, as saviors none of these people can possibly measure up, and thus the media has something else to bitch about. As Don Henley sang before Mojo Nixon had him killed, “We can do ‘The Innuendo’ / We can dance and sing / When it’s said and done / We haven’t told you a thing.” So we’re grasping at straws – and, then, at straw polls.

Maybe there are something like two-dozen members of the Democratic Party who are dancing the Election Shuffle. In fact, I think that number is but a fraction of those who are really thinking it over. What of it? Is this news? Is this a surprise? Is this… anything?

No. It is not. The first primaries are in a bit over a year – the Iowa Caucuses are set for February 3 2020, there will be at least three more that month that month, and Super-Tuesday is set for March 3rd. That will involve interested voters in Alabama, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.  Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #019: My Bed Is Getting Crowded, by Mike Gold”