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Monday, May 31, 2004

Leah Bellando - the cliff notes...

I was born in Stoneham MA. in 1978. We lived in Marshfield in two houses up until the time I was 2 years old at which point we moved down to Tampa, FL so my father could follow up a business venture. This didn't work out well at all and I think we were back up in MA within the year mark. We then lived in Middleboro staying with some friends who went to our church (nice of them to take on a family of 6!) and then moved into an apartment building in Middleboro (I could take u there but don't remember the name of the street). From there we moved into another house at 98 Thomas street when I was nearly 4 I think and we stayed in that house though thick and thin until I was brought to NZ on the 18 October 1989. My mother and I lived with my grandparents for about 3 years then finally found a place in Idesia place that my mother stayed in until after I moved back to NZ in Dec, 1998. I had however graduated high school in 1996 (or the equivalent of it in NZ) and caught the first plane to Boston I could get on, arriving on Dec 29th 1996. I had gotten my oh so memorable tattoo two days previously. Advise for the week: never get inked and fly half-way around the world! I celebrated New Years with my brother in my first ever First Night and then in early February of 1997 received my job at the Hard Rock Cafe - hired by Joe (Sully help me out on the last name), who couldn't have returned my phone calls a lot sooner but hey... My stint there lasted nearly two years working my way through the hiarachy of Hard Rocker... until I realized I needed a proper education and fulfill some of my academic dreams. Not able to make enough mullah in the US I resolved to head back to Kiwiland to get stuck in and finish this off - catching my flight out on Dec 10 1998. I received work at the Manukau Arms Tavern as bar tender/duty manager/bar manager after 2 full months off work and continued to work there until I received full time work at Middlemore Hospital in Otahuhu. I continued there as a unqualified physiotherapy assistant, until I decided to bite the bullet and go for a degree. I was rejected 3 times from the School of Physiotherapy but luckily short-listed and was accepted in Feb 2001... I complete this degree this year in November but won't be capped until March 2005.

That's all she wrote thus far...

Friday, May 28, 2004

Justice League Unmlimited: Aug 7

The fourth season of Justice League will be rechristened "Justice League Unlimited".



It will feature I hear over 60 different characters from all over the DCU. Hmmm...me likey.
Teen Titans GO!!!

Hey...this season of Teen Titans features Speedy!







Also the CN is having a new Justice League movie tonight @7:30PM and a new series called Justice League Unlimited starring over 60 heroes in the Timm design.

Happy Bodega Day Part 2.

Having to wait for the Comics Gnome is an exercise in patience & futility. I mean a watched pot does not smoke. But seeing there was stuff to do and chicks to woo, I understand the tardiness. So the reviews are in two.


BATMAN #628
Winick/Nguyen


This I thought was slow moving at first but it really caught on. Great story starring the Scarecrow. Judd Winick’s a great storyteller. Dustin Nguyen’s art is KEWL! Covers by Matt Wagner of Mage & Grendel fame. I still need to read the whole darned thing but at a glance it’s good and it’s part 3 in an arc featuring the Penguin colluding with the Scarecrow.




SUPERMAN #205
Azzarello/Jim Lee

Jim Lee variant cover

The Superman Relaunch is going very well. As I said I like it better than X-Men: Reload and the art and writing in the Azzarello/Lee run are acme. This one had dueling covers by Michael Turner and Jim “Insert Angelic Choir Here” Lee as did last weeks Superman/Batman #10. We opted for the Lee cover. I am enjoying the heck out of all three titles; this Superman title, Adventures of Superman and Action Comics. This month spins it’s wheels a bit but the art is stellar and interesting development in regards to how Supes is handling human strife and situations. I recall way back in the Green Lantern’s “Ion” arc Superman pulling Ion aka Green Lantern Kyle Rayner to the side to tell him a thing or two about having great power and knowing when to be responsible and for what. Maybe he should take his own advice. Plus Jim “Insert angelic Choir Here” Lee and his amazing pencils (and never without his inker Scott Williams).




PUNISHER #6
Ennis/Larosa cover by Tim Bradstreet


Ooooh. Marvel MAX. MAX I said MAX MAX MAX!!! I love the Marvel MAX titles. Superheroes for grown ups. I guess Wildstorm had that much impact. I was reading Jeph Loeb’s introduction to the “Alias” TPB Vol. 1 and how he was so thrilled and taken aback to finally see the word “fuck” in a Marvel mag.
This Punisher run is still one of the heavy hitters. When it changed Volumes from Marvel Knights to MAX but keeping scribe Garth Ennis, it really hit a new stride that could only be imagined and coveted before. This IS how the Punisher should be written and read. He is that badass.
To rip off Stan the Man, “Hey…make mine MAX!”
Frank’s now out of the clutches of the Feds with the Mob on his tail…don’t you feel sorry for the two of ‘em, huh? Me neither…not a blessed bone in my body feels bad. Issue #6 concludes the “In The Beginning…” arc and brings us completely back to a minimalist Punisher with nothing but his wits, muscle, high pain threshold and bullets to accompany him.



SILVER SURFER #9
Chariton & Weiss/Medina


This title I was unimpressed with at the beginning but it’s grown on me especially with the current arc. I was blown away by the previous issue and Silver Surfer’s metaphysical musings. Sometimes I feel this title drags its feet a bit but it’s OK. Not the cream of the crop nor is it something I’d purchase on my own but since the Comics Gnome has doth pooted forth this offering, I accept.




SUPREME POWER #10
---Introducing Power Princess

(shhhh!…actually the image for issue #11…damn Marvel dot com!!! ^_~)

J. Michael Straczynski makes a great and mature superhero team here with the old Squadron Supreme group. It’s in it’s own world and an improvement on the original. It’s TPB Vol. 1 is worth the $$ and highly recommended. Straczynski also pens The Amazing Spider-Man, Spidey’s flagship title. This was also the man that brought you Babylon 5.




SOULFIRE #0
---Jeph Loeb & Michael Turner


This looks amazing. But it’s an Issue #0 so it’s basically a primer for the uninitiated. Lush, gorgeous and little content and very short. Support Indie Presses.



Witchblade/Wolverine
Chris Claremont/Eric Basaluda


I thumbed through this real quick over my AM coffee and I’m going back not only for more but also to catch up on Witchblade. I like pretty, well-drawn chicks in comics and Witchblade delivers that consistently. This was a fun, short one-shot written by X-Men Uberscribe Chris Claremont.



One of Witchblade’s major enemies is the Darkness (and not the annoying pseedo-rock the Dorkness ^_~).

See you at the Bodega Wednesday, kids! ‘Namaste.


FIRE IN THE DISCO!!!

THROW THE GOAT!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Comics: Sneak Preview!!!

The Authority: Human on the Inside



Source:

Written by John Ridley; Art and cover by Ben Oliver

From acclaimed novelist and screenwriter John Ridley (Three Kings, Everybody Smokes in Hell) and hot new artist Ben Oliver (Puncture) comes the WildStorm event of the year!The Authority, Earth's last of defense, have performed God-like acts in their defense of the planet, whether defeating ancient gods or fending off interdimensional invasion forces. But these brave acts haven't always endeared them to many in power...particularly in the United States. The President, tired of being embarrassed by what he views as a bunch of costumed freaks, sets a plan in motion that could very well destroy the Authority from the inside...a plan so cunning and unexpected, it'll shake the Authority to their very core. And with an unexpected threat from the future on Earth's doorstep, if could very well mean global extinction!


EYE OF THE STORM | MATURE READERS | 96pg. | Hardcover | Color | $24.95
On Sale September 15th, 2004


Well...I rarely do Spoilers and Sneak Previews but this indeed caught my eye. Does this mean I have to endure Robbie Morrison on its monthly title until this is resolved? Yuk. Where's Mark Millar when you need him the most. How about giving Grant Morrison a spin? ^_~
The Smoking Puck: Stanley Cup Edition

Tonight @ 8PM is Game 2 in Tampa Bay with the Lightning looking to even the series against the Calgary Flames 1-1.

I'll be on a date with my Tiny Texan so unless I'm at a bar with a tele, I don't forsee watching this game.

Calgary has done an excellent job of figuring out not just Khabibulin but the TB Defense.
Game 1 had hard hitting and bone crunching action. While TB outshot Calgary 24 to 19 with shots on goal, the Flames netted 4 goals to TB's 1.
TB could only capitalize on 1 power play out of 5 but it was the Calgary special teams that helped this one along with 1 SHG and 1 PPG.
Calgary is also 9-2 on the road these playoffs.

I'm not Cup Crazy but when I'm watching I'm all about the Flames right now.

I think it's interesting that both teams got MUCH better when they decided to ditch trendy uniforms and stick with basic and traditional garb. TB hasn't changed their shirts ('sides ditch that miserable 3rd jersey) since they came into the league 12 years ago but their innagural season the font of the numbers and names were out of Star Trek the Nest Generation. Literally. MS Word calls it "Trekker". They then went to more trendier fonts but just as ugly.




Calgary went back to a traditional look with a real dark jersey (still keeping the charmless Black 3rd jersey with fire-breathing horse) and the awful jerseys with the diagonal stripes by the sash. They were U-G-L-Y! Yuk!



It matters a bit I think. If the players feel self-consious wearing ugly duds then how can they play like Champions. I'm trying to remember when the last team IMHO to have a butt ugly uniform to win the Cup.
I'd say the Washington Crapitals in 1998 after they abandoned the Red, White & Blue for Blue & goldish to kinda match the Wizards B-Ball team (They too abandoned the RW&B and changed their name from the Bullets at this time).
The Vancover Canucks in 1994?
Both losers in the Finals. Both stricken with bad taste.


Also Flyers News: Management tells Primeau and Roenick that they cannot play for Team Canada and Team USA respectively in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey 2004. This is due to the fact they are both recovering from concussions this season and Flyers brass wants them tip-top and not exposed to injury.

This used to be the former Canada Cup invitational but after a huge embezzlement scandal with a Hall of Famer who also screwed Bobby and Boston out of eachother (Bobby ORR that is), it changed and went to the World Cup format.
Aug. 30-Sept. 14, 2004 and the countries playing are:
European Division (E):
Czech Republic (CZE), Finland (FIN), Germany (GER), Sweden (SWE)
North American Division (NA):
Canada (CAN), Russia (RUS), Slovakia (SVK), United States (USA)


Due to the Olympics there hasn't been a World Cup of Hockey since 1996, that's 8 years and won by Team USA (versus Canada).
This index shows not only placement in previous contests but full rosters for each team.
Rainbow? As in "Man on the Shiny Blue Mouintain" Ronnie James Dio Rainbow???



Rock 'N' Roll Wizard
...Singer
...Songwriter
...Storyteller
...Poet
...Bard


Source:

Nah! ^_~ Just foolin'! I never did see that show Leah. Is that an EnZed domestic show, BBC? Doesn't ring a bell. I couldn't hear the audio either so I couldn't hear an accent if there was one.

BTW: to you Kiwi.

I should know this by now but what is your chronology of upbringing? Born in the States, yup. What age did you go to NZ as a child? You came back to the States at 18-19 years old? and you started working the HRC and then went back a few years later. Thta's pretty much the Cliff's Notes, huh?

Happy Bodega Day!!!


What was first read this week ???


CATWOMAN #31
Brubaker/Gulacy/Palmiotti


I burned through this volume of Catwoman. The Catwoman, Selina Kyle. I read issues #1-30 in three days and finished right in time for the new release of #31. Selina Kyle is presumed dead by the way. She snuck back into Gotham’s East End, the neighborhood she grew up in and was featured in Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One" and she claimed the neighborhood as her “own” to protect following the Batman’s “No Man’s Land” event run (similar to Bendis' idea of Marvel's Daredevil proclaiming himself the "Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen"). So the Catwoman is now trying to be good and protect the innocent of her neighborhood. The writing is stellar from Bat-scribe and WS “Sleeper” writer Ed Brubaker. Stunning art also. This series is doing great and there are TPBs abound collecting the run. It’s getting a little thin in the current run but Selina herself is eye candy and the dialog and dueling captions between her, friend and PI Slam and her “sidekick” Holly. I like how Gulacy makes Slam to look like Robert Mitchum. But it was first read because I was jonesing and just caught up to it.



BATMAN HARLEY & IVY #2 (0F 3)
Dini/Timm


Ahhh. The Gotham Grrrls scantily clad running around a rain forest. Not much to talk about here but it’s really fun and oh so cute! Bruce Timm cuts loose by giving us risqué poses on his Animated look.



FLASH #210
Johns/Porter cover by Michael Turner


Tied with Secret War #2 for Pick of the Week. Great issue dealing with Flash’s Rogues, a team of the Flash’s greatest enemies. Starts off wonderfully with Nightwing and Flash talking to the new Teen Titans and an awesome flashback to the old Teen Titan days and the best friends and teammates, the original Robin & Kid Flash. Still dealing with the toll of “Blitz” and the Spectre erasing the memory of the Flash’s secret identity from the world. Great art! Stellar writing. Good title!



GREEN LANTERN #177
Marz/Ross & Rodney Ramos


I am impressed with Ron Marz’ work here. I am heartbroken by Kyle’s return and his situation. It hits me really personally on so many levels. Also the game’s afoot in regards to wrapping up this volume of GL at issue #181. Forces are against Rayner and this might just play into the much-ballyhooed “Identity Crisis” in June and definitely why Hal Jordan is returning in “GL: Rebirt” by Geoff Johns in the Fall. This is bittersweet but still my favorite title. Sigh…I’m getting wistful for different reasons about this title. It’s evocative personally and that’s as far as I’ll go there.




GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW TPB VOL 1
---Collects Green Lantern 76-82 by Denny O'Neil & Neal Adams
(this is Sully's Drool Bucket!!!...childhood memories!!!)


Hard Travelling Heroes!!! Boo yah!!! And about freaking time! The beginning of socially aware comics. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. I remember not reading it while I was a kid BUT the crucifixion image on one of the covers hanging in my Neighborhood FunnyBook Bodega left an indelible mark on my mind.


GL/GA #7, 1984 O’Neil/Adams




HELLBLAZER #196
Carey/Bruner cover by Tim Bradstreet


Wow…part 2 of 2 wherein a confused and partially amnesiac John Constantine meets his stalker, who has Chas & the Chandler family hostage. John as always has the most bastardly solution to this problem but left with literally more blood on his hands than he can handle. This is all leading to issue #200 where I know something HUGE is planned. I have no spoiler knowledge about this series and will keep it that way too.



ASTONISHING X-MEN #1
---Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) & John Cassaday (Planetary)


Well, it’s finally here with all bells, whistles and new outfits. Great dialog and art as expected but just a little flatfooted I feel. I personally liked the “Black Leather” look Grant Morrison brought in but the Mansion ain’t his house anymore, huh? 12 issues of this team at least. This is the Flagship title. Scott Summer’s team leader and with all the X-Teams (X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, New X-Men: Academy X, Excalibur) this is Cyclops’ hand picked A-Team: himself, Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost & the Beast while Storm, Gambit, Rogue, Cannonball, Nightcrawler, Havok, Iceman, the new Marvel Girl are all on the other teams. Bringing back the Superhero in X-Men. Should be a good read and I’ll stick with it for at least the Whedon/Cassaday run.



NYX #4
Quesada/Middleton


This troubled series by Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada has an erratic release schedule. Can’t tell you when the next issue will be out but it said on the last page “To Be Continued”. I thought that this series was cancelled mid-story and might have been rolled over into the new X-Title “District X” wherein X-Man Bishop joins the police to look over NYC’s troubled Mutant Town neighborhood. I like the disjointed feel to NYX and I love the artwork. Middleton blows mw away. It’s odd but really entertaining. Perhaps a TPB eventually but I got nothing but praise for this work. It’s the red-headed stepchild of X-Title soon to be an Ex-Title.



SECRET WAR #2 (OF 5)
---Brian Michael Bendis & Gabrielle Dell'Otto


Tied with the Flash #210 as Pick of the Week. This is funny and at the same time moving and heavy. The art is deep and breathtaking, the dialog and interplay remarkable. Powerful stuff here in this quarterly and it has my full attention. Better than issue #1 and now I have to wait 4 months for the next one…damn!



ULTIMATE X-MEN #46
---Now written by Brian Vaughan! (of Y The Last Man)


New writer but nothing much doing here ‘sides spinning wheels. Going towards Mohawked Storm and Ultimate Mister Sinister. Oh well. No more Mark Millar and his masterful and badass Superhero team (the Authority, the Ultimates) here but maybe Brain K. Vaughn can “wow!” me especially after such great things with Marvel MAX’s “The ‘Hood” and DC/Vertigo’s “Y The Last Man”.



AUTHORITY MORE KEV #1 (of 4)
---Garth Ennis & Glenn Fabry


As it was said in a previous team in the late 80s…BWAH HA HA HA!!! This Authority is tongue-in-cheek and even blows Robbie Morrison’s current Authority volume out of the water. It made me really like the Authority all over again and I’m wondering why the heck is Garth Ennis not writing the Authority full-time for a good, long run? This sequel to the Authority: Kev one-shot is great and full of the same bawdy, crude, rude, dirty humor you can expect from Ennis. I wonder is he’ll ever do what Bill Murray did in the Razor’s Edge and have a serious piece?




TRIGUN MAXIMUM GN VOL 1 HERO RETURNS


Haven’t even scratched the surface of this manga yet but Vash the Stampede has a new look and there’s more to this than what’s presented in the Anime. Looking forward to spending time on Planet Gunsmoke with the old gang. It’s different than the anime but the events in the story as close.



More reviews for the rest of the Comics Gnome pooting tomorrow. The Comics Gnome was later than usual citing “persona; reasons” only. So I couldn’t get to all of them. One title I won’t touch though is JLA #99. At least on the double-sized issue #100 Joe Kelley & Doug Manke return to feature the upcoming JLA Elite Team (who are going to be doing dirty work not fit for public consumption).
Rainbow! Did you guys have this show in the States. I can't remember if I saw it there or when I moved to NZ - either way this is funny stuff.

Rainbow

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

THE Hockey Talk:

Will be changing next season to...


THE SMOKING PUCK!!! Wah! Chock full of entendre with this crowd.

How about Calgary kicking booty last night. In the same Penalty Kill, Calgary All-Star cap'n Jarome Iginla had 3 shorthanded opportunities. He scored a magnificent one AFTER a breakaway wherein he cut, draw back and roofed it over a foundering Khabibulin. Acme...freakin' acme...



I did watch the majority of that game and lemme tell you...those two teams deserve to be there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

HUZZAH!!!

Phish is Phried!
Phish to Break Up

Good of 'em to quit before jumping the proverbial shark.
-Matt

05.25.04
Last Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note. Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways -- most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act. By the end of the meeting, we realized that after almost twenty-one years together we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, as a group, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude.

So Coventry will be the final Phish show. We are proud and thrilled that it will be in our home state of Vermont. We're also excited for the June and August shows, our last tour together. For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves. We're done. It's been an amazing and incredible journey. We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us.

-- Trey Anastasio
I forgot to add... that crud covered lobster line that kept brushing up against me seems to have been host to a large colony of brine shrimp. When I finally got out of my dry suit, I noticed friggin' sea monkeys all over it.
No means sucks, but there's naught to pay for. The sites are reserved, the boat ride over has been arranged, and all that's needed is a tent and a change of clothes... maybe a little food.

We'll be heading out on saturday morning, and may spend some time that day fishing for cod (dinner) off my buddy Aleks's boat "Fugitive". Other than that, it'll be laid back.
THE Hockey Talk:

Stanley Cup starts tonight: calgary v. Tampa Bay 8PM.

Wake me when it's over. I should not be this uninterested. As a fan of the sport I should be in white knucle mode but after the Bruins being moseyied out and the Flyers getting smacked down, I'm not feeling it. Although two very worthy teams are playing and it will be a fun series...I might just keep a finger on its pulse instead of watching it.

Pricey LeClair, Amonte are probably exit-bound

By Tim Panaccio, Inquirer Staff Writer

Regardless of what the next collective-bargaining agreement brings to the NHL, it's likely that John LeClair and Tony Amonte will be among those who won't be back with the Flyers.

Full article courtesy of Yahoo!.

Sully, let me know if you have any interest in camping out/partying on one of the boston harbor islands this weekend. We may do a little fishing too, and will probably have a clambake/fire on the beach.

Interest..HELL YEAH!

Means...unfourtunately not. A little short notice. It sounds like an inexpensive time but I am fiscally mindful these days especially in the wake of finding out that my last day Harvard Law School's PIL/Events office is July 16 due to reorganization. Paltry severence but better than nuffin' so I'm on the lookout for jobs. Especially at Northeastern University since I could walk to work and they got a DIVINE athletic center and pool. Or I'll hit James & Laura up for a cook's job at the Cheesy. ^_~

Matt...you chimed in once about having a finacial consultant and I want you to know I was listening and got my own financial "coach". He's helped me immensely already and have helped me get my finances under control. You gave me the idea when you were once talking about different things you got on the back burner regarding portfolio and fund management, et al. So...take that as you will...a compliment on being you but also your friends are still influenced by you whether you know it or not. ^_~ Tee hee! Enuff schmoop.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Hey Matt sounds like it was quite a learning experience. I had enough trouble sailing in bad weather when I was back in the States I doubt I would be able to handle be IN that kind of sea. Last time Chris went diving I sat on the rocks to keep an eye out. They had about 2 foot swells that day and both he and his brother came out feeling a bit worse for wear.
Saturday's dive report

We arrived at the wharf in Gloucester at 4:30pm, under increasingly grey skies and building winds. The forecast included speculation about thunderstorms. The Daybreaker had just gotten in from an earlier trip out to "Saturday Night Ledge", and there were several grinning divers carrying their gear up the ramps. One remarked that the visibility had been an impressive 40+ feet.

Captain Marcoux wandered over and informed us that it was "getting a little bumpy out there" and asked if we wanted to change plans and find a spot that was better sheltered than the crane we hoped to dive. We discussed it, and decided to stick with the original plan and try our luck with a crane that had slipped from it's transport barge and plunged to the bottom. If it got bad, we could always turn for the more serene underwater trenches.

After being briefed about the layout of the boat, emergency procedures, equipment, and where the cookies and drinks were stored, we motored out to the site through 4-5 foot swells, some breaking over the wheelhouse as we drove into them, and geared up despite the constant heave and sway. Naturally, some jokes were made at the expense of weak-stomached friends who weren't aboard, like one poor fellow with a reputation for "roaring like a dinosaur" in even calm seas. Apparently, the guy's even been known to hurl under water, which as the story goes brings a great multitude of fish to the scene... but I digress.

The crew assisted us into our heaviest gear as we sat strapped into position on benches, then escorted us one by one to the stern for our entry. As my turn came, I took a moment for a final check of my air pressure, necessary gear, and hose connections, then secured my mask and regulator with one hand, waited for the next swell, and took a giant stride off the boat and into the roiling Atlantic. I signalled the boat that all was okay, and grabbed the line trailing out astern. A quick check of my computer console told me the water was 41 degrees F at the surface, but I was bundled in my drysuit, and well enough insulated not to mind. There was a bit of current at the surface, so I climbed my way along the line toward the bow of the boat, where the mooring line descended to the wreck below.

As I reached the end of the trailing line, and began to cross over to the bow line, I realized that in the surge the trailing line had wrapped once around my tank valves. It wasn't a bad entanglement, but I was stuck in it and had to untangle it behind my head with 5 mm neoprene gloves on... in 5 foot seas. I'd have cut the line, but I needed that for getting back to the boat. Needless to say, by the time I was extricated I was breathing hard, and full lungs makes for a floaty diver.

As you might imagine, trying to relax, stop fighting the waves, and breathe slowly was rather like trying to meditate in an inflatable fun house full of jumping 7 year olds, and it took a bit of concentration. After another minute or so though, I was slipping into the calm of deeper water. I gave my nose a quick squeeze and blow to equalize the pressure in my ears, and could soon make out the bubbles, and then the form of my instructor appearing out of the gloom below as I slowly descended toward him.

I could feel my suit squeezing tight around me as the air inside was compressed by the pressure of the tower of water above me, so I slowed my descent and increased my comfort by shooting a bit of my helium-laced breathing gas into the suit.

Before I knew it, I could see the scaffolded arm of the crane, and couldn't help but wish that there had been more ambient light so that I could have appreciated it better. Alas, it was late evening, and the little sunlight remaining wasn't up to the task of cutting through clouds and ocean to reach us, so the meager lighting available was both deep green in color and of insufficient quantity even to read by. I had a light with me, but it's AA batteries scarsely dented the tangible gloom. I quickly came to envy the couple of divers that day who carried 13.5v NiMH battery packs connected to the same bright HID lights that the luxury cars all seem to be blinding me with these days.

Butch, my instructor, signaled me to see if everything was okay. I was still a bit rattled by my difficulties at the surface, but was about to signal back that everything was fine when I noticed that having stopped, I was drifting into a head-down position that took a bit of sculling to correct. I didn't know what had caused it, but I signaled ambiguously that there was a problem. I hugged the half-sized steel tanks carrying my decompression gasses close to my chest in an attempt to correct the balance problem, and as that seemed to do the trick, I signaled a tentative okay and followed Butch around the base of the wreckage.

I had been on shipwrecks a number of times, but this was somehow different... there was a distinct sense that this crane was something that did not belong here, much like the wreckage of a ship would seem out of place on a mountain top. Huge tanklike tractor-treads loomed above me, playing host to a vast assortment of anemonae, small fish, and other such creatures as could tolerate the cold. Another check of my computer showed a bottom temperature of only 38 degrees.

We circled the structure, but it was still with some extra effort that I was able to maneuver and stay level, and I had already wasted precious trimix struggling at the surface, so I flashed the hand signal for "let's head back" and thrust my thumb toward the surface. With a nod and hand signals returned in acknowledgement, Butch and I began our slow return to the watery chaos above. We flipped our PVC wrist slates to the "early bailout", and kept a close eye on our timers as we ascended. 130... 120... 110... as we reached 100, we both opened the valves on our 36% Oxygen tanks, and made the first gas switch, clipping off the other regulator so it was out of the way.

90... 80... Butch signalled to make the second switch, as per our plan. That was when I noticed the cause of my problems. I had left my tanks with Butch so he could fill them for me (local dive shops don't typically deal with the technical fringe, so trimix fill stations tend to be home-brewed), and he asked if I'd like him to put on bigger (and easier to handle) brass clips for me. He did, but rigged the tanks differently than I'm used to, and the top straps had come loose and allowed the heavy steel bottle of 50% Oxygen to dangle out of position below me. I gathered it back in and made the switch in time for our first stop... one minute at 60 ft/20 meters, then another at 50 feet for 2 minutes.

When we made it to 20 feet for our final stop several minutes later, the action of the boat being tossed above us was being transmitted to us through the line secured to it, so we clipped off a short "jon line" to it, and isolated ourselves from the bouncing by holding on to the end while we ticked away another ten minutes.There was an old lobster line hanging nearby, and though it was funked up with crud, it only brushed up against me a few times, and I paid it little notice.

We surfaced, got back on board the violently heaving boat, and got strapped back into our benches so we could slip out of the tanks knowing they would stay put. My classmate Jan was already dressed in dry street clothes, and it turs out he had had more trouble than I did at the beginning of the dive, and had called the dive and returned to the boat before before descending. I listened to his story as I stripped off my gear, and finally went for the zipper on my dry suit. Getting out of dive gear, for those who haven't done it, is right up there with taking off ski boots on the list of things that make a person feel MUCH more comfortable on land. Unfortunately, this time the zipper only moved about an inch, and I realized I'd accidentally zipped the lightweight outer shell of my insulated undergarment into it. I was stuck in my drysuit. I wanted out, and I'd have to pee soon, so it was getting to be a high priority for me.

The captain came to my aide with a knife and a pair of pliers, and we were fortunately able to get it open without damaging the VERY expensive drysuit zipper. The only somewhat expensive undergarment wasn't so lucky, and now has a large hole torn from the right hip to several inches above the navel. I can fix it... make it better, stronger, stiffer... I have the technology. I sewing machine and a three inch wide strip of canvas to cover the area under the zipper ought to keep it from ever happening again.

This was a training dive for me... first planned decompression, first time breathing trimix, and deepest dive to date. Considering that of 6 divers, 1 aborted at the surface, 4 turned back ahead of schedule, and one (who didn't use a jon line and was jerked around by the mooring line) strained a muscle in his arm, I'd say I did remarkably well. I'm all for having unusually difficult scenarios in training. I believe it makes for more capable, confidant, and safe diving in the future.
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, IMHO BTW, is the greatest pinball game of all time.


If a boy can adopt a dog, then a dog can adopt a boy.
Sully, let me know if you have any interest in camping out/partying on one of the boston harbor islands this weekend. We may do a little fishing too, and will probably have a clambake/fire on the beach.
Wasn't the name of Mr. Peabody's boy Sherman?
THE Hockey Talk:

Somber note...Flyers lost. Tampa Bay & Calgary in the Stanley Cup Finals. Whoo hooo.

Me and James will be over here wathcing baseball.

Post season wrap up after the Cup.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Hooey - Matt is probably right Kiwi's have a great range of clothing especially when it comes to the great outdoors. Columbia is probably the biggest overseas company that does well here the other are homegrown. Feel free to wait and support the NZ economy.

Below are a couple of websites that might be of interest the first two are clothing stores for the type of stuff I'm talking about. Close fitting and non-bulky clothes but made of amazing materials.

Kathmandu
MacPac

Also so you can get an idea of airline costs...
Air New Zealand for flights in and around NZ.
Freedom Air cheap flights from here to Australia

Accommodation and car/motorhome rental... again to give you an idea...
Jason's travel guide
AA travel guide
Destination NZ
NZ.com don't know if a useful site but look very cool - especially with that slide show thingy

YHA NZ Youth Hostels of NZ (I think it costs about $20 to get the card and you get about 5-50% the cost of accommodation depending where you are staying - this is how most backpackers travel around NZ.
BackPackers NZThe competitors of YHA - I think you need a different card for them.

STA travel also has a card that you can get - don't know if you'd be eligible but if you or your wife are studying at all you will be.

To search for stuff go to http://www.google.co.nz/ and you can highlight search for NZ pages. Easy way to limit your search and waste less time. God Bless the Google boys!

Hope some of this helps! -K1W1

Friday, May 21, 2004

THE Hockey Talk!:


Keith Primeau scores with minutes left in the 3rd period to TIE IT UP!!!


And SImon Gagne WINS IT IN O.T.!!!

GAME 7 in Tampa Saturday!!! WHOO HOO!!!

The winner will face the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Finals!!!
It's time to go CUP CRAZY!!!

LET'S GO FLYERS!!! Am I s'posed to be impartial...some kinda journalistic thing???
JLA: Secret Files

Faith




Real name: Unknown
Occupation: Former Government Agent, new member of the JLA
Base of Operations: Unknown
Marital Status: Single
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 395
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown
First Appearance: JLA #69 (Early October, 2002)

Very little is known about the woman called Faith that isn't highly classified. Previously in the employ of an unidentified government Black-Ops team, the exact nature of her job is unknown. However, nicknamed "The Fat Lady" by her teammates, one can infer that Faith is traditionally called in to finish what others have started. It's over "when the Fat Lady sings."

Whether Faith's ties to her former employers have truly been broken remains to be seen, but she left life "in the dark" to answer the Batman's call when the creation of the "contingency league" was required during the "Obsidian Age" adventure.

Faith has demonstrated telekinetic powers on a very high scale, and is presumed to have shown only a fraction of her true power. She also claims to unconsciously emit "positive vibrations" that help those around her feel calm and confident, garnering an instant trust in those who meet her. The exact source of her powers remains classified.

Faith claims to have met Batman during a past adventure, during which they spent "some time together." Apparently, it was enough time for her to earn Batman's trust, as he not only considered her for Justice League membership, but shared some personal information with her as well.

While Faith has barely been tested in battle as part of a team, it is believed that her effect on the League will be profound.

Source: DC Comics dot com "Secret Files"
Also in JLA-Z
The three posts Fonzie Manifesto, Couch Story & Green Jelly Boy are all from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Like 1997/98. But I hope y'all enjoy. The Couch Story was a "hit" with me mates. Leah still refers to the Fonzie Manifesto and the Green Jelly Boy is just the derned truth.

But to add to Green Jelly Boy these days I am a pacifist and hope my instict isn't to punch Ooompie in the head if I see him. Men my age have to think about things like pre-mediatated assault. If I can't afford your bail money, what makes you think I can afford my own. ^_~

But enjoy these because I do. Perhaps there will be future ones I can scribble seeing I once enjoyed doing this all the time.

Still thinking impure thoughts of rolling donuts,
Sully
And especially for Leah Bellando...

The Fonzie Manifesto.

Like a Wookiee rolling around in catnip...
This one’s for all the geeks out there. Put down that
Charles Atlas book, kid, here’s something the cool
cats don’t want you knowing. C’mon, Simon, let’s go
into the “Way-Back-Machine”.
I didn’t always used to be this cool. Am I cool? My
mom says I am. I used to be a wreck, devoid of life.
A waste of flesh and bone. My clothes should have
been given to the poor, my food airmailed to Africa,
my toothbrush shipped to a young Steve Buscemi.
That’s what years of depression will do to a kid.
How they made it look. The cool cats made life seem.
While they’re racing around on unicycles, you’re still
getting used to training wheels on your Big Wheel.
Gather around, kids. Uncle Blookey has something to
tell you. I want you close enough to hear me, I want
to read the fine print on your pocket protectors. I
want to see the little “on” switch flick up if you
understand.
This is better than the Touchstone feel good movie of
the year. This is better than ice cream. This is
about power. Your power, energy, aura, whatever you
want to call it. You’ve always had had it too. There
is nothing to buy; no face full of teeth Tony Robbins
holding your hand, no Steven Covey shifting your
paradigms for you. Nope. There is nothing
but...yourself.
You know yourself pretty well by now unless you’re a
four-time amnesiac from a daytime soap opera. Like it
or not, you know you. Run, hide, scream, fear; do
everything can to escape yourself but wouldn’tcha know
it, you always end up back where you belong. In your
head with no one to blame but yourself. This begins
with yourself and ends there too. The power is
already in you, remember that. Why do you let people
get to you? It’s only because you let them when you
give them your power. You want someone to leave you
alone. Easy. Don’t give them any of your power. I
always thought others were better, smarter, and more
attractive. I couldn’t get a date to save my life. I
was a walking punchline. I was the brunt of my
friend’s cruel humor and accepted it. But that all
changed when I understood what true power was like.
True power has nothing to do with clothes, clout, or
money. True power has nothing to do with controlling
others. It comes from controlling yourself.
I am my own master. I am my own friend. I couldn’t
say that before. Can you now? Can you make yourself
laugh? Can you see beyond yourself so far that you
can actually see yourself? I took back the power I
gave to everyone. I hugged it for a while, took long
moonlit strolls on the beach with it. The perception
of who can effect your life is only relative to how
much power you give that person. Or job, or class,
teacher, bully, priest, parent, gas station attendant,
boss, lover, florist, mother, Congressman, etc., etc.,
etc. The things that were holding me back. There
were no things, nothing plural. One thing really.
Fear. Now you can fear a multitude of things, yes.
But there was always the word “fear” followed by the
preposition “of”. I was scared to death to lose my
friends, family. But my fear was making me miserable.
Soul searching, isolation, countless cathartic
attempts at trying to excorsise some demon.
Oh, I used to write about it all the time. I even
gave my depression a name. Nothing like Herbie or
Sam, neither did I name it after a girl. I simply
called it “the Beast”. The Beast had bad breath. It
came to me in the small hours. It had sharp, pointy
teeth but held no resemblance to any bunnies. It had
claws, which it would use to carve up my soul like a
holiday butterball. I gave it a name and a shape. I
wrapped all my fears into one thing and then wrapped
it around myself. I thought there was nothing;
therefore, I was. But in some perverse way, it was
good.
I stripped myself away until I was gone. I was sick
of pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I was sick of
having to change my personality to suit the crowd.
When I thought there was nothing left, I was gravely
mistaken. There was something all right, and it
didn’t have claws either. I found me. And I found
the power. Not through the grace of God or medication
or therapy or any other new age mental Band-Aid. I
did it myself. I have only me to blame for this. The
lines drawn “for” - us by others are as easy to erase
as a dry marker. People are funny now. I either see
them or right through them to that little child deep
inside there, unwilling to share their toys with you.

What do you care what they think, seriously? They’re
worse off than you ever were. But only if you have
enough honesty in yourself to see that. This is not
your Fonzie Manifesto. Yours will be different. My
life had bizarre qualities to get me where I am,
wherever that may be.
And even more...the infamous...

"The Couch Story"


Well. It’s finally done.
Over and out. Sayonara, sweetheart.
I sat on the curb, choking on exhaust, waiting for my
ride.
Busses, cabs, and civilian autos buzz about me like a
busy hive. Terminal “C”; United departures. Scotty,
being the saint that he is, lived not too far from
Logan international Airport in the Orient Heights
section of East Boston. Picking me up would be no
problem. And I really needed him for more than a
ride.
She’s gone. Gone away on a great silver bird. If
happily ever after had its way, we would have been
like Diane Cort and Lloyd Dobller riding off into the
sunset.
I didn’t want an airport goodbye. I really, really
didn’t. I close my eyes and see her, separated by a
glass partition. I couldn’t stop crying. Neither
could she. I waited until she was aboard, watched it
taxi to the runway.
The swelling in my eyes reduced drastically by the
time Scott showed up. I looked up to see the beige
Taurus with the Dixie flag plate “Scott” on the front
bumper pull up. Needless to say, he still had his
Bush/Quayle ‘92 bumper sticker on the back.
I hop into his ride, I look at him. He looks at me.
I give him the Coke I bought for him at one of the
airport stores and open mine. In the airport store, I
saw “Flowbee”, an old acquaintance from the HRC who
worked there as a server a few years ago. I didn’t
like him too much. No one really did. He was an OK
guy but kinda a loser, like us all. He was a little
awkward and weak, and a little strange to boot.
Should have been the kind of person I’d usually
embrace but it wasn’t there. Neither was it there
today.
Flowbee was wearing a KFC/Taco Bell jacket. He didn’t
recognize me. I change hairstyles as much as the
seasons change. He earned his nickname though. His
roommate had cut his hair in a bizarre manner, totally
suited to his look. Flowbee tried to follow suit but
it looked none too good on him. I said to him, “What,
did you cut your hair with a Flowbee?” I thought it
was so funny, I asked a manager to change his name on
the computer to Flowbee so when any of his checks
printed up, there was his new title. It caught on.
“Just one request today? OK?” I ask as Scotty opens
his Coke and recklessly swerves into a lane.
His dark eyebrow curled up as to say, “Yeah...What?”
“Not a fuckin’ word about her today.”
“OK.”
That was it. OK. No patented Scotty wiseass retort.
I’m glad he’s on my side. Scott thought that Jen was a cunt.
So didn’t my other friends. So didn’t my
family too. Of all the people in my life, I was herCh
only fan. But that was good enough for me.
This past Thanksgiving, one of my aunts referred to
her as a selfish bitch. And I said to her that there
were only a few people in the world that had earned
the right to call her that, and I was definitely one
of them. And that I reserved that right to call her
that or anything like it until time that I see fit to
use it. And that until I would, I would not like to
hear that kind of talk. It’s their fault, you know.
They raised me to respect women.
Small talk ensued on the way back to Beacon Hill. I
had to pick up a few odds and ends from my new “old”
flat. I didn’t want to move out but extenuating
circumstances brought about my departure from 3
Lindall Place, #3.
Something about late rent on my behalf and breaking
the lease and other items of gobbledygook. Sweet
digs, you know. Two bedrooms, working fireplace,
hardwood floors. And for the discount price of $850
a month. In Beacon Hill, that was unheard of. The
only reason was that the “T” was underneath our
kitchen window.
No lie. Think the Blues Brothers on this one. Anyone
who had been there will vouch for the fact that this
is no pontificating of the truth. The elevated
railway that runs along the Longfellow Bridge started
where my apartment was located. You might remember
the bridge from the opening credits to Spencer: For
Hire. No, it didn’t keep us up at night. The “T”
stops a little after 2am and, it’s funny, but it was
soothing. It was louder on the street level for sure.

When we got there, that bastid Pierro was there too.
My ex-landlord, Mr. Pierro. No where near Furley or
Roper. He was there with some dumpy looking,
plumber’s crack showin’, idiot man-child sidekick of a
handyman to remove the debris for the newest tenants;
whose shit was now congesting the stairwell.
Pierro was a stereotype. Italian, naturalized
American, off the boat. You know what I mean. Fifty
years ago he was just another wop, like one quarter of
my grandparents. My remaining and prevailing genes
and family values were referred to with signs crying
out, “N.I.N.A.”
“Ay, Buddy. You gonna move-a dis couch, yeah?”
I was busy collecting my hockey stick and a fourth
garbage bag of clothes.
“Yeah, sure. Let me get this into the car. We’ll be
right back for it.”
“You gonna be back. You sure.”
“Yeah, man. Give me a sec, my hands are full.” I sigh
audibly and roll my eyes. I look at him and try to
raise my laden arms to show him I couldn’t fit the
couch on this trip.
I traverse the new tenant’s gear and make the
tumultuous journey down the three flights.
“We gotta take that couch down this?” Scott asks.
He’s an engineer. He understands math. He
understands that it will take much time and effort and
clever skills to get that couch down those stairs.
“Just get in the car.” I wheeze as we reach the door.
Hell, I paid two very large but nice Eastern European
men to haul all that shit up there. How they got that
up there would amaze Einstein and Will Hunting.
“Whew!” I wipe my brow and exasper as I take a puff of
my inhaler.
I get into the car. Scott follows suit.
“Fuck him.” I say.
Scotty starts laughing and starts up the car. Music
from a bad hit rock station covers our ears and the
car as a blanket. Off to my luxury sublet in
Somerville. Off of the Red Line at Davis Square.
The story of the couch had closure through
coincidental means, and I know how I feel about
coincidences.
One night at the Parish Cafe, I ran into a waitress.
Now running into a waitress in a restaurant is not
particularly suspect but this young woman happened to
be one of the new tenants who moved into my old flat
that day. She had started working there a month of so
before we realized each other’s connection to one
another.
Go figure, as Scott’s fond of saying.
She told me that Pierro left the couch there for them
to take care of. They tried themselves; these two
thin, early twentysomething chicks. They got it stuck
about half way down the stairway. Had to call 911 of
all fuckin’ things. Got the firemen to take it out.
After all, it was obstructing a fire lane.
That shithead. Responsibility is a harsh item. See I
was trying to construct some logical pathway of
responsibility to Pierro, which I did. But further
research into human nature proved me wrong. Was it my
responsibility to take the couch out? Yeah...kinda.
But no. Only on the General Principal that he was a
complete dick and I really didn’t have to. I only had
some moral obligation to him to remove said holder of
where the good lord split you. He broke his covenant
with me by giving me the boot. As I said earlier,
fuck him.
He was responsible then. But he left it. He abused
his pact legally. That apartment should have been
clear of all debris before the new tenants got there.
But he too invoked the General Principal and human
nature. Him and his idiot man-child sidekick could
not have possibly moved that couch down those stairs
to be properly discarded. Hell, if he had a brain, he
would have had the idiot man-child disassemble it and
bring it down piecemeal. But no. Pierro used the
unwritten writ of “I am the Landlord, deal with it.”
Poor girls. Well, I really didn’t feel too sorry for
them. Under further scrutiny, I believe I’ll call it
their hubris for bringing their shit by too early.
They knew better. Yeah, they knew.
Shit, we told them when they came by earlier that
week, two days before, that we’d be out and they’d be
all set for after 2 PM. They were cool with it and
agreed. Yeah, 2 O’clock, fine. And Lo and Behold,
they were there at 9 am citing that the Realtor told
them they could. The Realtor. What! Because some
GlennGary Glennross reject that already has his fee
told them they could.
Hell, the Realtor made his sell. They signed on the
line that was dotted, he’d tell ‘em the sky was
fuckin’ purple, he’d tell ‘em anything. He didn’t
care. He was out of the loop and made his cake. We
knew nothing of this. Believably, neither did that
shithead Pierro either when we asked him.
Shit, do you know how embarrassing it is to be woken
up by the sounds of entering at 9 am, on your pullout
couch on the last day you’ll be with this person?
This person, be it bad or good, had spent the last 2
years with me. And to catch you half-naked and
wearing a surgical mask on your face. You know how
dusty it was in that place. I’ve been a pack a day
smoker for eight years and nothing kills my asthma
quite like dust does. You know how many times dust
has sent me to the emergency room? I’m an asthmatic,
for fuck sake.
I wanted to wake up and make love to her. A proper
and final farewell to two young lovers. But no, we
were abruptly ripped from our solace and had to attend
to business in a rushed manner for the rest of the
day.
We were supposed to have poetry.
Instead I have a story about a couch.

Hey all-

if anyone wants a distraction, here's one of the poems I'm submitting for my final portfolio. I welcome you to tear it a new one...

THANKS SO MUCH for the NZ info, btw. That's awesome! That basic info is most helpful, and I'm sure you'll hear from me about more details as we think about it more.

Ok, enjoy, hopefully you'll be able to hold in your lunch as you read ...


To Gordon as he Sleeps


You think I quit a year ago,
But here I am again, out on
The porch. A blazing cigarette
Exhales a lazy gash between
My fingers. In the dark I watch
Unblemished flesh of paper spoiled
By creeping molten ash. My wrist
Is held as still as whispers, as
I try not to disturb the slow
Progression of this charred tobacco
Shrapnel. I hold back the urge
To smoke it, wondering how I can
Delay the unavoidable.
The fragile ash will shudder into
Vapor any second now.
It stays in place until the heat
Has singed my fingers tender, then
Collapses onto my white robe,
A hazy blemish. My last smoke
Went impotent before I had
A chance to even take a drag,

I can’t believe I chose to chase
An even bigger folly than the
One that kept me up and dragged
me out of bed so late at night.

I will no longer sacrifice
Our health for my indulgent thrills.
I will control my urge to toy
With lethal vices when I need
To cope. I will confide in you
Instead of run to someone else.

I creep inside the house and slip
Into the bathroom on my way
To bed. I wash tobacco ghosts
Out of my hair. This fragile act
I perpetrate will surely be
Discovered any second now.

I want to tell you everything
But I instead curl up beside
You in the dark and vow to quit.
I wish your breathing body could
Absorb from me the truths. I keep
Up a façade that’s bound
To crumble any second now.

xoxo
From the Files of Sully comes...

Green Jelly Boy.
Why do half the things I start to say begin with “when
I was a kid”?

Sharon Spitz was a freckle-faced redhead. She beat me
up. Well, not just her. Her little friends helped.
Mine didn’t. They probably thought it was the
funniest shit seeing me get clobbered by a bunch of
girls. I forget the other’s names but I remember
Sharon. She had a brother Kevin, a year and grade our
junior.
I went to school with them and lived down the street
about 3 courts. Courts were the way the rowhouses
were set up, like the teeth of a zipper or dental
architecture. Well, the apple didn’t fall too far
from the ugly tree, the red redhead befreckled brother
Kevin beat me up too. Not alone mind you but with the
assistance of his dirt-necked sidekick whose older
brother was a legendary bad ass of these projects.
They were tough kids for sure. But it reeked of
natural selection in our red bricked microcosm; the
pack mentality going after the weak and/or the one. I
was unfortunate enough to be both.
I guess the animosity between me and Sharon started
off with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I’ve heard recent things about PB&J. I’ve heard some
concerned parents in PTO’s across some parts of this
great country want to curtail the Constitutional right
to bring the old classic to class due to the fact that
so many children are allergic to nuts. And that
sandwich swapping and sharing can prove harmful. Wow,
and I only questioned the Multi Purpose Patties they
fed us in High School; one day we’d have chicken and a
few veal. Same consistency and general flavor,
different sauce.
I remember my allergy test clearly. It was in some
older room in an older wing of Boston City Hospital.
The wood trimmed window looked like they let in cold
air. All those needles on my bare back. It would
take a brazen leap of faith for someone like me with a
fear of needles to seek acupuncture. Oh, I believe in
the validity of “alternative” health care but it
doesn’t change the fact I’m still scared shitless of
needles. Ever see three orderlies struggle to hold
down an eight-year-old asthmatic boy for a blood gas?
I knew what I was allergic to because I was an
asthmatic and had allergic triggers like all good
wheezers. But I assumed that allergy tests for
children were as commonplace as booster shots. But
there I go again...
Well, you have strawberry and Concord grape and even
the occasional raspberry preserves with the seeds that
get stuck in your teeth. But what gets people going?
What makes people taunt and be hurtful? Well,
different things. I mean that literally; things that
are different. I’m different, but just how different
can you be in the third grade?
Kids got to eat and we ran out of jelly a few times,
so my mom improvised. She used mint jelly. “Eww!” is
right. It’s probably why I can’t stand menthol
cigarettes. It wasn’t that horrible, the taste. But
the other kids noticed. And let me know where I
stood.
I was a hyperactive kid. I was on a sixth grade
reading level in the third. Ask my mom if you don’t
believe me. School bored me. All my friends went to
public school. I wasn’t only miserable because my
friends weren’t there, but they weren’t there to give
me back up.
Mint jelly might be acceptable on Easter or on other
Sunday dinner type occasions but it’s not received
well on a weekday. Especially on Wonder with Skippy.
“Green Jelly Boy” they called me. Sharon started it.
No one likes being picked on so I something
retaliatory which earned her fists of wrath. I
remember that day. They chased me to the “tennis
courts”, an urban fitness attempt which had become the
hangout place for the beer drinking teenagers. It was
adjacent to the “Wall”. The adults who barely
remember drunken Southie summer nights at the same
spot fondly refer to themselves as “Wallnuts”.
Her and her gang of four surrounded me. She commenced
to whoop me and I used the old “asthma spot” trick to
bail me out. I had a pretend spot on my chest so if
got hit anywhere near it, I’d fake an asthma attack,
crying, “You hit my asthma spot”. I’d fall to the
ground, wheeze, and turtle hoping they’d leave me be.
It was just something I did because I couldn’t protect
myself.
Events and circumstances shape people lives.
Reactions to situations et al. I believed for a long
time that I couldn’t defend myself. I let people
physically intimidate me. I was afraid! I felt like
a victim so I’d hide in my head and create places
where I had power. I shrunk more and more inside my
head that I preferred the company of myself than
others.
In Junior High, my Aunt Debby was going to take
Karate. She wanted me to go with her so she wouldn’t
have to go alone. She paid for it too but I don’t
think it was because she didn’t want to go alone. It
was there I learned of what I deemed as “Fast Food
Kung-Fu!”
You know what I’m talking about. Those Kempo dojos
that spring up like Dunkin’s. Give ‘em a check, they
give you the belt. I remembered how bad I screwed my
katas up. I didn’t deserve that orange belt but Debby
had already paid for it.
So I felt ready to defend myself for once. I didn’t
go looking for a fight, I was still afraid. His name
was Bernard, he was from Dorchestah. In the old
Broadway station in the deep below Southie Triangle,
we had proceeded to discard the Marquis de Queensbury
rules for a more Bruce Lee approach.
He dispensed of me quickly. Ever taken a roundhouse
kick in the ribs? I think my hubris of the legendary
asthma spot caught up with me on that hit. It wasn’t
an attack, but my inhaler was my life support for the
shuffle home. I always have treated my inhaler as my
security blanket.
I wasn’t prepared. There was no real discipline
taught. I can see that in hindsight now, but then I
just felt like a quitter. Ditching the Karate was the
obvious choice, and the easiest. I can look back and
see certain things though. Instead of teaching me to
block, they taught me how to punch as well.
Conflicting ideas, huh? I fell into the romance of a
Karate Kid type situation. I wonder what the increase
is like at Karate schools after the release of an
action movie?

“My grandiose thoughts on the natural progression of
the teaching Karate by a gaijin.”
By Eric O’Sullivan

If I was Sensei...
I would have just five rules. Like the fingers of the
open hand to remind you, not the closed fist.
1. No one will learn how to punch or kick until one
has learned to successfully block them.
Now you may go to the next level.
2. No one will learn how to punch or kick until one
has learned to counter them.
Now you may go to the next level.
3. No one will learn how to throw a punch or kick at
all. That is aggressive.
4. Karate is for defense only.
5. If not clear, refer back to Rule #1.
This is the Revised Version of course. I originally
intended six rules. The sixth would be “Now forget
everything you have learned and be peaceful.” You
know, to throw a Zen-like spin on the whole affair but
I remember an old axiom that says, “We learn to fight
so we don’t have to.” That’s a bit more yin and yang.
Not that I’m a pacifist or anything. I know that this
may sound a bit contradicting but the next time I see
Sean Fitzgibbon I’m gonna deck him. This fits in too,
trust me.
After I hit him, I want to help him up, dust him off,
give him a hug, and demand to buy him a beer, and
catch up on the last few years. I’ve seen him a few
times since graduation but I couldn’t. Not to say I
ever thought about it.
Sure. Why not? What do I have to lose? Fear of a
black eye? Bruises heal and people change. But ego
sometimes needs a sacrifice. I know I started off
saying that we’re responsible as evolved mammals to
deal with frustration in the most least of destructive
ways but how destructive is a fat lip really?
After I hit him, I’ll say the following statement.
“Columbus pahk. Seven yeehs ago. I forgive you.”
Senior year in High School. I was sitting next to
Oompie’s girlfriend on a fine spring day watching him
play his park league soccer game. I assure you there
was no foul play involved with me making conversation
with her. And no ill intentions either; our nickname
for her was “Cow-ah”. Well, it sounded like Kara
then. Oompie was short for “oomp-a-loop”. Sean had
unmistakable leprechaun-like characteristics with
stature like Wolverine with rosy cheeks and classic
Irish features. I never saw him in the shower so I
can’t report for any stereotypes besides my own.
He comes off the field, left I presume, during play
and seethes at me “get away from her.” You get the
pic? I attributed it to him perhaps being mentally
imbalance because I had done noting to cause that
reaction. That’s why it hurt me so much more than the
bruise when he punched me on my head. Hard, like he
meant it, dig?
After the punch was thrown, my instinct was to grapple
and pull him down. We fell like Nancy Kerrigan and
Tonya Harting in a hockey fight, wrestling around in
the stands and shit. I thought the fans were supposed
to fight each other at soccer games.
Speaking of hockey fights, this reminds me of Mike
Milbury, then of the Boston Bruins, climbing up into
the stands at MSG, and beating a fan with his own shoe
because the fan threw something onto the playing
surface at one of the players. All this reflection
makes this situation kinda funny. I’ll tell Sean that
thought over the beer. He’ll find it funny but it
might hurt to smile for a few hours.
Next day at school, we had to sit across from each
other at the lunch table. We were part of the same
group of friends and they all knew what went down. I
needed solace. My temple swelled outward. He
connected square on my temple. I think he was aiming
for the bull’s eye but he got the job done. That
thing hurt for days. We didn’t say a word about it
really.
He was a close friend. We had good times. That
screwed me up good, another straw on the camel’s back
during my Violent Femmes first album days. I took it
very seriously.
Now, I look at it like the movie “Diner”. That’s all.
Just unfinished business. I feel no malice to him
what so ever, I really don’t. I already told you, I
want to have a beer and catch up with an old friend.
Still doesn’t change the fact I have to hit him.
>Make sure you invest in a good fleece jacket and wet weather gear that is easily packable.

Better yet, don't. Buy them there. It's likely to cost you a lot less, and with the sheep and adventurous inclination of New Zealanders, you'll probably get good quality (and a useful souvineir) as well.

For a good time at a great price, try this: http://www.kiwiexperience.com/kiwi/nzindex.htm

I did "Awesome and Top Bit", and Kiwi and I did "Gyserland and Lake"


It is time to talk about John Constantine, innit?

I knew he’d come up sooner or later. He had to.

Over explaining it does this absolutely no justice.

It speaks for itself.

But lemme start at the beginning. In the beginning there were Capes. Super Friends. Heroes in Tights. And I’m so glad I never read “John Constantine: Hellblazer” as a kid. I’m twisted enough as is. Enough so that I get the most unhealthy kick out of reading the exploits of this 100% consummate bastard. “Bastard” in its jovial sense of course. I’ve been called a bastard and apologized to earnestly for it. My name could have been “Whoops!” save for I know they were married by the time Baby Boy came. But I digress…

Hellblazer Vol. 1
Original Sins


“Original Sins” by Jaime Delano started me off. The introduction is really good in this TPB. It mentioned things I barely remembered. That sick fuck Alan Moore gave genetic materials, sweat & blood to create this menace. Birthed from the pages of DC’s Swamp Thing in the early 1980s, John Constantine began his often tumultuous relationship with the Green and the Elementals. For his sins, mostly future ones willing to be scripted, John Constantine was given his own title. “Hellblazer”.

It was meant to be something different. Mature. There’s a warning on every issue; right on the cover. When it started, Vertigo was not even around yet as the imprint of choice. Hellblazer takes elements of its then-world almost in “real time” and makes it the background noise. I learned more about 1980’s British politics than a lifetime worth of Monty Python. Spelling Tory correctly you know, wink. John Constantine is often regarded as a “magus”. An occultist. A magician. A knave. A rogue. He’s a failure. A loyal friend but an even more loyal opportunist. He’s everything you really don’t want to be but find so damn rock & roll in life. Give us 60 Silk Cut, sunshine. A foul mouthed, chain smoking, hard drinking, trench coat wearing, ex Punk Rocker of the 70s who dabbled in the Dark Arts and finds out how little morality matters in the face of true magic.

Gary Lester covered in flies


“Original Sins” was grotesque. Like picking a big scab and squeezing kind of gross. You shouldn’t do it but sometimes there is compulsion. Hellblazer is true to that at least; making the reader pick away and make their conscious the salve. Ewwwww, huh? Well, if John Constantine doesn’t give you the “willies” then you probably should think twice about buying pets. It starts off with Constantine having to do some globe-trotting and ending up in New York City, the happiest place on Earth. But only to have everything go to crap in bad, bad juju while he walks away with more ghosts following him than before.

The bests are featured on this. It is Vertigo’s premiere horror title. It is where Ennis met Dillon. Grant Morrison. Brian Azzarello. Warren Ellis. Eddie Campbell. Even Neil Gaimen tossed one in the pot. Paul Jenkins has an amazing run around the century mark. Jaime Delano started the whole thing, inheriting the idea from the mind of Alan Moore. It starts off setting the tone for what’s to come: this less-traveled road needed a “Do Not Enter” sign. On this road he is on foot. He cannot drive a car. He never learned. He has a knack though for getting where he needs to be. Marcello Frusin is the most delightful surprise. I’ll remember his hand and remember his name in other works when I see them.

Issue #151
John Muses about American cigarettes. Art by Marcello Frusin.


The Brian Azzarello run happens to be some of the most intense and twisted material to come around the bend really in my gorge since episodes of the Twilight Zone I watched as a kid. Bringing the Brit into a road trip of the USA. He’s the mastermind behind “100 Bullets”, Johnny Double and Marvel MAX’s brilliant “Cage”. He’s even scribed the World’s Finest now; Batman and Superman’s titles. Azzarello’s dialog comes from the streets. And it’s smart, side-talkin’ jive like his man, Loop from “100 Bullets”. It’s like hip-hop to the eye’s “ear”. It’s only fitting his mouth should be representing the side of America that John Constantine has come to visit.

Hard Time


“Hard Time” features a prison interred Constantine who really believes himself guilty of a murder he did not commit. Brutal from the first panel. Stellar art by Richard Corbin. I can only be reminded of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s short book, “The Curse of Lono” wherein he brings his proper and very sane family man British illustrator Ralph Steadman and family on holiday to Hawaii to cover a boat rally and end up pissing off the locals; Thompson almost driving Steadman to a nervous break down, for real. How did Corben keep his sanity in trying to keep up with Azzarello?


Good Intentions


Issue #152, Good Intentions #2
Azzarello, Frusin


“Good Intentions” focuses on failing economies, grief and road kill. It’s about hard choices. It’s about Right Action and what drives us to do good deeds. It’s about presumption of the facts. It’s definitely about road kill. Little dead animals on the side of the road; a McGuffin no longer hop-hopping down the hot, black asphalt West Virginian Interstate. Did I mention that Constantine couldn’t drive a car? Never learned. He’s hitchhiking the Biblical way.


Freezes Over


What to do when snowed in a rural diner with a band of locals and a band of armed gang walks in while all time you think there’s some Mythic Abominable Snowman killing people out there.


Highwater #4, issue #167
Marcello Frusin’s wonderful art.


“Highwater” pulls some strings on the Wizard’s 2001 (Anti) Hero of the Year by addressing Neo-Nazism and Bible Belt. It’s about irony. It’s about how the only thing separating graffiti from propaganda is a sponsoring organization.


Ashes to Dust in the City of Angels #2, issue 171
Group shadow: Naughty, naughty John…only to end up “dead” again.


And “Ashes To Dust in the City of Angels” wraps up John Constantine’s trip to the States with tying up loose ends, gaining entrance to exclusive clubs and “dying” yet again. Well…not for real. Even if he ever really dies somewhere in the course of the title, his mates would still leave a plate for him thinking it some rumor yet again.

Garth Ennis adds a personal touch with his own brand of dialog and flair for making the reader sound out the words in order to get the joke; consistent in Preacher, Just A Pilgrim, Hitman to name a few. His Irish Mad hands fuel Constantine’s coarse mouth. And as always, refer to the indicia to ensure you’re reading them in correct order.


Fear & Loathing


Damnation’s Flame


Tainted Love


Rake at the Gates of Hell


TPBs in order


Ennis also takes us into the North of Ireland, to Belfast to where one of the titles’ most captivating characters returns after everything self-destructs in classic Constantine fashion. Dillon’s Belfast I’ve read in places is really good; the faces he draws are nice too.

Kit from “Heartland” Special, Ennis/Dillon


Garth Ennis, before paired with Steve Dillon was yoked to William Simpson. In 1991 at issue #41, Ennis came aboard with “Dangerous Habits”.

Dangerous Habits


This could be one of the direct points in the adaptation in the movie. Garth Ennis I hear was not credited for any of his ideas that surfaced in the Punisher movie and I hear Ennis/Dillon’s TPB Vol. 1 was influential in its “trappings”.

Dangerous Habits: basis for film.




Each writer contributes and further twists his life. Ellis added the creature known as Map. A seemingly humble Black man working in the London Underground who is supernatural being connected to the City, who can see every thing and almost talk to the buildings and see through its windows. Ellis is thematic through the body of his work with Urban, city savvy characters of power from “Lazarus Churchyard” and “StormWatch” to “Transmetropolitan” and “Two-Step”.

Haunted by Warren Ellis



Issue #120 was an oddity.

Issue #120 cover:


You as the first person point of view walk into a public house in England. And there’s no narrative caption running. It’s basically you, the reader in John Constantine’s world for one night as the “Fourth Wall” is addressed. #120 celebrates its Tenth birthday and it’s a party in our honor. There are appearances and references to make the most esoteric fan drool and throw goats. Between the 90’s and the 130’s, Paul Jenkins scribes and on the first page in about the fourth panel, he’s busting Ennis & Dillon’s bollocks. Good stuff but only for the True Believer as Stan the Man’s oft to say.



#193


Issue #193 was interesting for the fact that Swamp Thing was "enlisted" to help save the world, he lost his human soul, Alec Holland and therefore paving the was for the new Vertigo series penned by Andy Diggle. Constantine shows up in the new Swamp Thing toting around Alec Holland's animated corspe, found in the swamp where he was killed.

Coming up on its issue #200, things in Constantine’s life about to get as complicated as ever. You’d have to think “how can so much crap happen to one person” but then you have to remember that it’s just a funny book. Constantine comes off as very real, tangible and tactile. And very tactless too. I envy his sense of conflict resolution. The desired result is always to get your way as much as you can. When you learn how to talk to actual and summoned demons, humans are easy. Unless they’re his girlfriend that is.

Constantine is very human for a “hero”. He saves the world over and over again. The funny thing being that one can say that Constantine’s world is the DC Universe. He came from the pages of Swamp Thing. He’s in a few panels of "Crisis on the Infinite Earths" (TPB pg. 99). He resides in the same world as Green Lantern, the Bat, the Amazon, the Boy Scout et al. Sometimes ultra fringe DC mystic characters pop their head in like Swamp Thing and the Phantom Stranger but there is never any mention of Capes. It’s as Capes do not exist in his world.

John Constantine: Hellblazer. One big guilty pleasure. Lots of material to choose from. I started at the top and read all avialable TPBs. The Comics Gnome gifted us with about a 90% recharge on the loose issues in between. I recently read the whole thing and it did give me one nightmare. I guess I must be normal then...

See youat the Bodega on Wednesday, kids. 'Namaste.