The Western genre, sad but true, is barely a blip on most folk’s entertainment radars. We’re a post modern, neo-retro/futurist society steeped in disposable electronics and relationships based on clicking “like”. The thought of a dirty, disconnected world in which your word meant something scares a lot of people. Cowboy themed movies struggle to find a broad audience as does print with the same stylings and their bastard offspring, the comic book, has it even harder. I’ll bet you can name all the Western comic book characters you’ve ever heard of with nothing but one hand and a quizzically forlorn look on your face. No shame in that, I only mustered up Jonah Hex, the Lone Ranger and Zorro. So when I spied a copy of A Man Named Hawken over at my pal’s house I knew what I had to do. I asked that sum-bitch, with gravel at the back of my throat and nothing but cold, black comic book need in my heart, if I could borrow his trade paperback. He then took a draw off his whiskey, looked me dead in the eyes, and muttered a meaningful “yeah”. Make sure if you ever borrow something you make it all cool like that. And wear a poncho if you can. I wasn’t wearing mine and that’s a regret I’ll carry with me the rest of my days. Of course, when I reach the end of all of those “my days” I sit here secure in the thought that I will not be nearly as beat to hell as Kit Hawken.
If you mummified the ”The Man With no Name” after you rolled him around in buffalo turds, kicked him in both balls repeatedly, scalped him and then called him “Kit Hawken” you’d pretty much have Kit Hawken. He’s only the surliest of souls probably because those of everyone he’s ever killed follow him around just to fuck with him. A gunslinger literally haunted by his gun-downed victims. The “haints” as he calls them might be real or Kit might be sun burnt in the brain-pan. Definitive clues are lacking and as only six issues exist thus far the answers are really left up to you. The first arc leaves quit a bit to be desired but as an example of what a father and son can do when taken in by the moment AMNH is commendable. More on that in a moment, first back to the jarring interplay that occurs when one moment your reading some wacky conversations between ghosts and our sand-deep-in-his-crack kind of crabby protagonist and then the next it’s all boom goes the dynamite.
Hawken is gritty, even flirting with genuinely disconcerting, only to quickly transition into a panel or two featuring a ghost dog peeing on somebody’s face. I love me a good piss-face scene but I never knew if I was supposed to taking any of this seriously. High Plains Drifter is one of the best examples of how to blend the humorous and the horrible and make you forget that those things should never be a mingling. One minute Clint’s fighting for his life, the next it’s a laugh a minute rape scene. Man I love that movie. Because it’s an amazing movie and because talking about it the way I do must just freak the fuck out of some folks. Conversely, Hawken doesn’t get the blood to boiling as much as it should. The characters are designed really well and the art style is well suited to the task but when payoffs like this come:
What should leave me all “hell yeah” merits instead a simple “ho-hum”. I wished this book was better on the whole. Kit’s toothy under-bite, obvious baggage and “fuck my obvious baggage” attitude create what could have become a welcome addition to the painfully few classic comic book protagonists who aren’t adverse to wearing buckskin. Kit was brutally bad ass, the world he lived in had promise, the story they told together was somehow just average. Had this series continued my opinion could have easily changed but one trade’s worth of what amounted to one big bloody introduction made the tome I held tight in my hands feel emptier than it should have. My disappointment with Hawken can’t be denied, however it was assuaged a good bit once I learned of how it had all come to be.
Ben and Tim Truman, the father/son due I spoke of above, have some heavy, mostly indy, comic book street cred to the point they even managed to get Geof Darrow to work up a devastatingly detailed alternative cover for issue #5. Writer Ben lived in Tucson and artist Tim paid him a visit one year. The family took a road trip all over the Grand Canyon State from up north all the way down to Tombstone and Bisbee right near the border with ol’Mexico. Along the way was born Kit Hawken and his quest to bloody up the world before he’s six feet down. Little nods to that particular geographic locale throughout the narrative and none so blatant as when, just a few pages in, some banditos decide to stir up trouble at a lonely desert mission.
A mission, lying southwest of Tucson, in which I’ve actually attended mass.
Angie and I visited the Mission San Xavier del Bac last time we were at home in the desert. It’s beautiful and mussed, sitting there all open arms in the middle of nowhere like a charming whore with some dirt behind her ears. And she’s why I can’t be that vicious when quantifying my convictions about A Man Named Hawken. Built over two hundred years ago San Xavier is one of the many treasures I’m sure Ben and Tim saw along the heat burnt byways they traveled for a week together. This book is incomplete. It’s a slice of angry life served on the gravestone of a man who doesn’t realize he’s already all but dead. It’s tastes good but it tastes sour once you roll it around for a while and no matter what you think of the flavor it leaves you wanting more so you can see if it’ll ever live up to it’s spite filled potential. Once you put it down you might realize though that maybe this story was never meant for us. This story was meant for Ben and Tim, within their relationship is an understanding and appreciation we will never fathom. 3 rounds in the cylinder for A Man Named Hawken. As a satisfying tale of vengeance, unflinching and exhaustive it fails to deliver. As evidence of the labor of love between a father and his son, I tip my hat.
Now get out there riding true amigos, your own legends await.
Monsters and make-up
A happy nightmare made real
Thanks Mister Cooper
Cheap isn’t meaningless. Cheap isn’t useless. Cheap is not something to always be avoided or scoffed at. Some of the best times of my life could accurately be described with some definition of ”cheap.” Some of the best things I’ve ever owned and some of the best things I’ve ever done? Cheap!
But you know how it is.
Talks people into giving up on their dreams, talks people into fucking over their friends and families. Money might even talk you into buying a video game dripping slick with top of the line advertising efforts and financially fluffed “reviews.” So stumbling across small, independent titles that are swimming against the tide isn’t commonplace in an unforgiving ocean of ”OMG! Have you played Titanfall? What? NO!?!? Why Not? It’s a game with things that happen and things that move! I read that Aggro-Opinonator gave it like 8 out of 5 starzors! It’s got graphics and sounds!!! It’s totes available on your PS4Box9000and you should go get it right now just like the commercial sez!!!”
I’m a fan of some huge franchises like Gears of War, but for every deserving studio out there that produces a polished product there’s another conniving to cock punch you with their next release. Like a minor-leaguer still hungry for success, some of the most innovative, inexpensive and plain damn fun to play titles will forever come from somebody you’ve never heard of in your life. So when you do find, as I have this week, one or two of these precious little nuggets floating down the vapid and empty gold-claim of the modern console era you must rejoice. And at a buck each these two are both that perfect kind of cheap I’ll saddle up with any day. Two tiny, indy, one dollar games are maybe not what you were expecting but I didn’t expect to fuckin’ fall off my horse last time I was out riding either, I didn’t expect to become infatuated with the American Southwest and need to move to Arizona and I sure as hell didn’t expect to be married to a kind and gorgeous woman who loves me a hundred times more than I deserve.
Always getting what you expect is boring. And I will not be a party to that.
So I’ll tell you a little about Cowbots and Super Amazing Wagon Adventure instead.
Cowbots is a combo platter of turn-based card game and twin-stick shooter and whether you’re facing off against the CPU or a buddy in Battle, Railroad or Survival mode it’s amusing if not terribly in-depth. No matter the mode, the gameplay is basically the same. Earn gold, guns or icons each round in order to play cards of varying offensive or defensive value before your opponent does the same. One screen (i.e. the first one I found on an image search) looks like this:
Get your strategy all figured out and pick your perfect hand. Once that’s over you roll around in a mine cart plinking rapid fire, shotgun or large caliber rounds at anybody that isn’t friendly. The variety of mechanical men you can bolster your ranks with is rather large and amusingly diverse. I specifically said “men” because there aren’t any women in this game. Not one robot whore. I weep on my pal Bender’s shoulder as he quietly leaks on mine because we both have a soft spot in our hearts for that soft spot presumably deep inside most if not all whores. Other than the glaring lack of cybernetic soiled doves my only gripe with this game is that when you play “Railroad” mode (a race to build a complete track across the screen) if you don’t get a Prayer card in the first three rounds you’re screwed. That card allows you to play extra cards each round which in turn increases your chances of fielding an impenetrable posse in addition to finding one of the eight railroad track piece cards you’ll need to win the whole shebang. Don’t see those praying hands early on and you might as well shove a bottle of Jack up your ass and give yourself the whiskey shits because your time will be better spent shitting whiskey than trying in vain to achieve victory.
Alcohol tinged taints aside Cowbots is my go-to game when I’ve got ten or fifteen to spare and I don’t feel like yelling at 12 year olds playing anything online. Like jerking off, it’s easy to learn and doesn’t take too long to finish but man is it ever fun. 3 rounds for this genre mixing little hombre. And if pretending to be a tiny terminator version of Cullen Bohannon grunting your way across the plains in the name of mechanized manifest destiny isn’t totally worth a buck, the hell if I know what is. Of course if all you have is a buck and you’re looking for the complete opposite of short and simple look no further than to the second part of this week’s review.
Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is all of these words and then more words. Like Cholera, killer scorpions, flaming buffalo stampedes, spitting lamas, exploding volcanoes and evil bandit destroying tactical air strikes.
Think about that old Oregon Trail game and then imagine it about fifty times harder and with aliens and sex and time travel. Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is not quite as accurate historically as the old O.T. was but you really haven’t struggled to expand this great country of ours unless you’ve fended off narwhals with your pterodactly pistol now have you? This game is 8-bit glory wrapped around a damned near impossible to complete story. It’s insanely addictive due to its fairly basic controls which make you feel like you’ve gone full retard as, in the amount of time it takes you to eke out even one complete journey, you could have probably read the dictionary twice. When I finally, and after what seemed like the longest of “lasts”, reached the West Coast I was sure the pelican that flew welcomingly over head was going to try and kill me so there I sat unaware of my victory with fingers clenched tightly around my controller and my anus clenched tightly around my anus.
It really is that amazing.
Both the game and my anus. A doctor once told me that if I kept lifting heavy weights my “rectum would fall out.” This upset my anus terribly and to this day he works even harder to support me as only he can and I’m pleased to say that all my parts are where they should be. And you amigo, should support these two little games that could. 4 rounds by the way for Super Amazing Wagon Adventure. A touch better than Cowbots because of its liberal use of ridiculous humor and the curious mix of skill and luck needed to complete the damn thing.
But both are great and you should buy them both because c’mon, it’s only two dollars. There’s probably two dollars in your car/couch/cat right now or maybe someone owes you two dollars or you could promise to show someone your dick for two dollars and then do it and then you’d have two dollars. Lots of ways to meet this minimal monetary need. You keep riding true and I’m sure you’ll figure something out and then be playing around with these two hidden gems before you can say “hey, I showed you my dick. Where’s my money?”
I watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World last night for the first time in a long time and that ended up being perfectly timed. If you haven’t seen it yet go do it right now and then come right back. Also seeing the 1984 DUNE, knowing some self-important pricks and having that nagging feeling that you’ve never quite been doing what you were put here on Earth to do will help all this make a bit more sense. I’m confident, though, that I can convey what I’m feeling well enough no matter how you’re coming at this post.
I was at AFO two weekends ago (stop me if you’ve heard this one!) and I wrote a few lines about the impact it had on Angie and I. A lot of folks seemed real excited by it all and supportive of the point that I’d be writing more about where those few days took us and where we’d be going from here. I’m not used to lots of folks reading my blog which usually consists only of haiku and reviews of Western movies. My regulars number in the fives of people so it seems antiquated and often poorly made films reviewed with sarcasm and penis jokes isn’t for everyone which is sad because sometimes a great movie squeaks in there and my jokes, much like my own dick, are sinfully easy to enjoy. Now that this blog has been up for a few years, and I’ve been wandering the halls of conventions from sea to shining sea for many more than that, it’s time to stop waiting.
And that was exactly the message I had for my Panel About Nothing at AFO 14. I knew I needed to say something special that night but I had no idea it was for both the audience and for myself to hear.
I’m not going to write a 10,000 word mission statement here filled with platitudes and vagueries because you don’t want to read that shit any more than I want to write it. I’m going to call it like I see it, no minced words, no pulled punches, no misdirection or sugar coated crap. If I say it here, in a tweet, on Facebook, on stage or in private I mean it. There is no separation between my business and our friendships. All in, or fuck it all.
So no bullshit. I’m square with myself (as hard as that is at times) and I’ll be square with you (as necessary as that is at all times). I will promise to write more often and I promise you that I’ll be out and about and on the mic more than I have been. I have lots to say and I love the way it affects people. It…needs…to happen.
Every response I’ve received post AFO was like a slap (in the face) followed by a bucket of ice cold water (in the face) finished off with a big old kick in the ass (in my ass!) All of this! But in a good and wonderful way. For too long I’ve been idle and frankly wasted some great fucking gifts I’ve been given. Hearing everyone’s success stories, reading about triumphant tears that streamed down smiling faces, realizing spirits had been lifted to unbelievable heights all because I’d stood up encouraged me to never again sit down.
I’ve rested my whole life, it’s time to get revolutionary up in this shit!
But I can’t do it alone. Never have and never will. Because it’s simply not possible. I could get up on every stage and scream into every mic from here until the end of time and if we don’t connect? You won’t hear a word I’m saying and I’m throwing away precious seconds from all of our lives. If we both don’t give a shit, neither of us will. See, when a lot of folks I’ve heard get up in front of people a whole lot of this happens:
When I speak, it seems, this happens:
But it’s not because of me. I’m only as important as you want me to be and at the end of the night the most important thing in the room isn’t me at all or where I’ve been or who I know or how goddamn awesome I am.
It’s every one of you out there in the audience.
As someone who is so entirely full of himself this is strangely interesting to type and even cooler to really understand. Feeling damn liberated by these booming words and, if you’ll have me, I’ll keep up the thunder and be ready for the reply. You’ll hear me and I’ll hear you and maybe we can all make even a little difference in this huge world we call home. Don’t do this for me, or for your folks, or for someone you hope will like you.
Do it for yourself.
The effort it took for my two friends to put together their kick-ass anime Scene-It gameshow was beyond any joke I’ve ever told. The bravery it took for one young man to pack up and follow his dreams across the country into new and unfamiliar territory was more than a few good post P.A.N. feelings could ever have mustered. The frankness it took for my big bud J.J. to start seeing his own purpose on this planet began with a friendly smile but will continue only if he commits to it. Scott Pilgrim had it wrong for most of his movie almost losing himself fighting for love instead of self-respect. I can’t blame him, myself I’m quite a Roxy Heart, you all love me for loving you and I looooove you for loving me, but no matter how great one speech, one panel or one entire con might feel to any of us, those moments will inevitably end. At that point all we’re left with is our own determination. Do we squander our lives or do we rise to the occasion?
We start today then. We look in the mirror and we get goddamn honest with ourselves. About who we are and about what we want. It’s confusing some times and really hard all the others. It’s not really easy to admit I like to full-on dress up like Britney Spears and play Gears of War every once in a while, but I just did.
I am true to my dreams, I am true to my desires, I am true to myself. And to my inner Britney. I make one hell of a cute Lancer wielding school girl.
Knowing any truth about yourself sets you free from so many fucking things. Being candid breaks down the walls between you and some wild, freaky wisdom. From listening to everyone who reached out to me in the past few weeks, with every kind word, every affirmation, every victory and every ongoing struggle, I could see that either they knew this too or they were willing to figure it out with blood, sweat and tears.
So where do you fall? And where are you going from here?
Get to those mirrors, get to reflecting, and then get on with it. I know it’s scary. Think gaming in high heels is either a physical or emotional piece of cake? Not so much, so yeah, I know. But I also know this: everything you need to change yourself and this world for the better is staring right back at you.
Fucking believe in yourselves guys.
God knows after this past AFO weekend, I sure as hell do!
A million monkeys sat at a million typewriters once and wrote the screenplay for this week’s movie. They sat back and read what they had created. They literally went ape-shit with shame and disgust. They threw every page away into a nearby trash-bin and that’s how famous TV mogul Aaron Spelling found it before starting production on what would become Wild Women. Aaron’s Hollywood legacy not only includes some of the most beloved and long running shows ever to grace the small screen but his stunning daughter as well. I wouldn’t count his made-for-TV movies anywhere among the prouder achievements of his career. Wild Women is difficult to review because my eyes were screaming in pain most of the time. Hailing from 1970, it is representative of the very worst that can happen when you need to fill two hours of Prime Time and have whatever advertising dollars Charmin will give you as your one and only goal. Mr. Whipple could have used every roll from every store he ever worked in and there would still be shit-stains left behind by this movie and yet it still has a least one fan I noticed on the old IMDB. A man who goes by the screenname “william” had some fantastic things to say about this fucking atrocious film:
“This is a sexy sensuous cute Western about five women convicts trying to deliver arms to 1840 Mexican Held Texas.Made back in 1970,it’s comparable to the other great westerns of that era that’s highly commendable and recommended.It’s a fun must see movie that’s very well worth watching!!!”
Copied word for word with all spacing gaffs and grievous errors of critical thought left intact, I could spend the better portion of what’s left of my night cataloging all that’s wrong with the above statement. I had to consciously stop myself from having a stroke the first time I read that paragraph in its entirety. And once I had I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror those being the cries of any person from any good movie that had just been compared to this formidably fucked-up flick. My only consolation through all of this was that poor, poor “william” has not made any further comments since late 2006. I can only assume he sat down to sing the praises of Mac and Me but instead just died because it was the right thing to do.
Having now spent a half hour of my time to write a few hundreds words I’ve put more work into dismantling Wild Women than ABC did into assembling it. One of the first things you’ll notice about this film is that it’s a godddamn horrible film. From the tacky studio back-lot sets to all those “open range” shots that look like, and were most likely filmed, ten yards into the scrub on either side of California’s Interstate 5. These locales present us with unique opportunities to showcase scenes like that night they stopped somewhere along the trail and who could forget that other night they stopped too. There’s a lot of filler here, some of it’s funny and then some of it’s serious. This production never could decide between the two so tongue-in-cheek becomes foot-in-ass becomes tongue-in-ass and then you feel really uncomfortable but it’s nothing compared to how Wild Women makes you feel on the whole.
And then there’s the water! The whole wagon train made up of convict women pretending to be married to Army soldiers working to smuggle arms down to the Southern border to bolster American forces for the coming conflict with Mexico all get drunk one night and dump nearly all of their aqua into the desert. It’s a terribly grave situation, one they will spend literally minutes of time to remedy. See, they had no water…then they found water! Compelling Christ that’s some good TV right there!
They play and presumably pee in this sacred Apache spring until the Apaches show up all pissed about the playing and the presumed pissing.
Busted! Then the leader of our heroic expedition throws a fight against the Indian chief to save his party during a fisticuffs fracas that lasts longer than the original search for hydration did. But they have some H2O and their scalps so they’re set for what must be one of the most un-anticipated finales in made-for-TV history. It actually might be the only piece of clever storytelling the writers mustered as our faux-omesteaders forgo using any of the heavy ordinance they’ve brought with them in lieu of an amazing tactical plan that boils down to getting the twelve guys attacking into a crossfire. They way “the plan” is alluded to you’d think it would make Patton or Rommel look like preschoolers but no. Put some folks on this side of the street and some over there and then shoot. Zap Branningan has come up with more masterful plans that this. Your life would be better served Googling “Wild Women” and just enjoying the endless image pages that populate for your peepers rather than ever consider spending a moment on this movie. See!
1 round in the chamber. Maybe those girls right there put me in a good mood or maybe I just thought “at least this wasn’t as bad as Hooded Angels.” I have significant doubts that anybody has ever enjoyed this movie, well except for “william” God rest his soul, but the fact remains that Wild Women was in a two disk collection I purchased leading me to believe that somewhere, at some grave point in time, someone actually passed over any number of even shittier films to make sure this one was included. They’re out there and I’m sure I’ll cross paths with ‘em at some point but mine is not to reason why, mine is but to watch this crap.
And write about it every now and then too. Till next week amigos.