Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Dance like a robot!

First off, a Link to my new comic reviews.

With that out of the way, let me get to the good stuff. The new way I amuse myself at school is writing letters to students. I usually write to students in my friend Lizette's class. They're the "honors" class of third graders and they're a fun bunch. The thing is, I don't write them from me. I write as Fernando, the magical elf from the future.

Of course, being the gifted class they all immediately recognized my handwriting.

Still, it's fun to keep sneaking them into their desks while they're not there and denying that it's me. I give them glimpses of the future, when they're all important and saved the world. I tell them things they have to learn to make sure the world is saved. Stuff like the planets, multiplication, and how to dance like a robot.

Today I even wrote one as an evil robot, discouraging them from dancing like a robot, since that destroys evil robots and keeps humans free from their rule.

It's a lot of fun.

One wrote back yesterday and she was hilarious. She advised me to stop my lies and that the world doesn't need Fernando.

These kids crack me up.

Monday, December 13, 2004


I have to say, I'm prouder of my Critique of Crisis than of almost anything I've ever done.

If you buy this for me I will love you forever and perhaps even longer.

Friday, December 10, 2004

I feel special

Hey, guys. Yes, you're right: I didn't review the comics this week. I'm sorry. I've been busy with a lot of behind-the scenes power brokering. The purpose, you ask? Creating Comics Should Be Good, a new comic critique blog featuring myself, Brian Cronin, Alex Cox, Tadhghg Difficultname, and Paul "The Wall" Teel. Check it out, there's already some good stuff there. It's going to be the place for in-depth comic discussion, while this blog will remain around for personal stuff, other media, and occasionally some comic stuff, too.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Joe's War Journal, Entry #3482

Flies. Flies. Goddam flies. They're everywhere. And by everywhere I mean a few in my kitchen. The trick to really killing the fuck out of a fly is to trap it in the bathroom. Smaller in there. Easier to target it with the Tilex. Then you whop it with the plunger. My floor is littered with the corpses of my insect enemies.

Beer bottles are also useful. Leave them out after done. Flies crawl in, get intoxicated, and can't crawl out. They die their in their own filth. I saw a moldy fly today. Fuck you, buddy. You shouldn't have come in my apartment.

Moving along.

I watched a damn fine movie tonight. Years ago, Charles "hellgirl" Lyons recommended it to me. Said it had that magic Malick feel. If you don't know, Terrence Malick is the greatest living American director, and that with only three films to his 20some year career. A lyrical master with an eye for detail unheard of elsewhere. Anyway, this one's by David Gordon Green, and even though I really liked his All the Real Girls (in fact, it's the movie that awful screenplay I posted a bit from would be if it wasn't, well, awful), I never got around to renting George Washington. Takes place in a small southern town, and it's mostly about a group of early teen kids and their life one summer. One of them dies and they cover it up. But a plot synopsis doesn't do it justice. Really great work from everyone involved. Unknown actors just really feeling it. Cinematography worth drools, and great scripting well said.

It's even got a lot of superhero iconography, as George becomes obsessed with being a hero. Starts wearing a costume and cape. Malick won't ever be doing a superhero movie, so this is the closest we nerds can get. Please, do yourselves a favor. Check it out and soak it in.

Turns out part of my nasty moods lately was perhaps a hunger for artistic beauty. My CBReak (half-assed as it is) will provide some extra time to rebrush up on great films. Time to rewatch some Malick and Wong Kar-Wai. And, hell, can't go wrong with Amelie.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Strain in my neck, it's always the same side. Yuengling, baby, ease the pain. Ease it with rock and roll. Finished with most of my Christmas shopping. Marathon session, you know it. Future in-laws, parents, grandmothers, Cousin, friends . . .fiancee only partially done.

All I want for Christmas is to get these fucking flies out of my apartment. Every night from 7 to 15 flies somehow find their way in. I kill them like a goddam Tilex Ninja. I got strategies and shit. But they always come back. Even had two bastards caught in a beer bottle.

Arrested Development is one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. With that and Scrubs, it is a pretty good time for sitcom comedy. Has there ever been two greats on like this? Of course, just before I gave a shit.

So, some points:

DC's Misogyny

So the women of DC haven't had a good year. Raped, murdered, abused . . .there's been a lot of nasty shit going around. It's typical, really: who reads superhero comics? Boys. What gets a boy all riled up? A girl being hurt. Nearly every man has had the anti-fantasy "What I would do to the man who hurt mom/girlfriend/gran/teacher." So you want the boy audience to really hate a bad guy, have him really hurt a female character. Sue Dibny's rape served as a "pump up" to get the Justice League to act out of character. Spoiler's beating and death was a "pump up" to get Batman all sad and shit. (What's with superheroes crying these days? Who thinks that's fun?)

That said, I've seen some shit thrown at Superman/Batman 15 for that. Now, I've hated that book from day one. I've just found it to be really poorly-written and easy, and, with Turner, ugly as dog ass. But the current arc is light and fun alternate-timeline superhero fun. With awful narration. So Evil Superman kicks the shit out of Wonder Woman and some people cry foul again.

I call bullshit. The violence to WW in that scene had nothing to do with her being a woman, and it had nothing to do with motivating her strong male companion. It was a fight scene. It was nasty, but it was a superhero fight like any other. Women in comics are subject to the same rules as males. If they're superheroes, they'll be the subject of violence.

(May I just interject that Chuck D + the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion = hardon?)

There's nothing misogynistic about the WW/Superman fight scene. The stuff I find objectionable is when a woman is subjected to violence or violation not as a part of her own story, but as a plot point in "their man's" story. That, my friends, is the straight up gross nasty.


While shopping tonight I saw a cook book, something about a chef father and his teenage daughter . . .and on the cover, the chefdad was wearing a Reverse Flash symbol T-shirt. HE IS A VILLAIN DO NOT BUY HIS BOOK! HE KILLED BARRY'S WIFE!

Holy crap, it's nine o'clock?

(Blues Explosion + DJ Shadow also = woo.)

Have good nights, folks.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

And, because I'm mean

Here's a page or two of the screenplay I apologized to and for in the apology piece. I haven't looked at it in ages. It only got worse from here:

Fade to:


ANNA CHASE, a young girl of nineteen or twenty, reads an in-flight magazine without interest. She'll look at the page for only a second or two before looking about the cabin or at her watch. She is wearing a gray T-shirt with "UNLV" inscribed on the chest in red. Her light brown hair is in a casual ponytail. Her body language suggests youthful impatience. Finger-tapping, eye-rolling, lip-chewing.


The restaurant/bar is bustling with Wednesday night activity. Men and women try desperately to find each other interesting, and the air is filled with hollow laughter. There is a large mirror behind the full-stocked bar.


BRANT EISENBERG, 24, gazes through the one-way window to the bar with relaxed intensity. He cuts a striking figure, the angles of his face sculpted by genetics and time to that of a very handsome man. He is immaculately dressed; his shirt and tie are far more fashionable than his patrons' old Polo shirts. His eyes are like that of a great cat on a nature program: calm, controlled, and predatory.


Activity is low at Murdock Memorial Air Port. There are only three gates . . .the floor is covered with out-dated orange carpeting. The walls are lined with paintings of fat old white men in even older suits. A few family members and other assorted loved-ones wait in various levels of anticipation for the final flight to arrive. At the end of one row of seats are ANDREW CHASE and his friend LEWIS YU. Lewis, a Chinese-American man in his late-middle-twenties, wears a white T-shirt, blue jeans, and an old white cowboy hat. He is wide-eyed and nervous; he glances at his watch and out the window and taps out a little rhythm on his legs. Andrew (in a white button-down shirt and khaki slacks) smirks, shrugs his shoulders, and returns to reading the three-month-old newsmagazine he found.

Fade to white.

Fade to:


Anna is flanked by Andrew at the wheel and Lewis next to her. Lewis' arm is around her and her head is cocked towards his shoulder. From time to time, oncoming headlights illuminate the trio brightly.


The lights to the restaurant are off, but one comes on in the apartment upstairs, showing a silhouette.


Brant peers out his window, a robe loosely draped over him. He smokes a cigarette and cool-ly scans the streets below.


A NAKED WOMAN sleeps soundly on the bed.


The apartment is sparsely, functionally, yet stylishly decorated, in the way that a man with taste, some money, and no family can afford. Large TV and stereo, a bookcase lined with new and older novels and the odd baseball trophy from time to time. There are no photographs anywhere.

Brant takes his cigarette and places it in his mouth. He tightens his robe a bit and walks, cigarette dangling, to a modestly-appointed desk. He pulls out a classy, but well-used day planner and peruses through pages of notes, names, and numbers. He gets to the day that just ended and crosses it out. The next day's inscription is simply "Kid's Homecoming Party."


Downtown is empty. Nearly, at least. The streets are littered with empty storefronts and a few holdovers from the pre-mall age: a drug store that still serves soda, an Army/Navy surplus store, a couple bars. Cars are parked only near restaurants, one of the two remaining industries in Ashland. On one corner is J.R. Robinson's.


There is a light mid-Saturday crowd, mulling about the bar and tables. The far corner is decorated with a computer-printout "Welcome Back Kid" banner. In said corner, Brant, Lewis, Andrew, Anna, and a few more of Anna's age sit around a table. All are laughing, and even Brant smiles. They chew their food while telling stories.

Best Unfinished Screenplay EVER

At one point in film school, my buddy Justin Ott asked me to write a screenplay for his senior thesis. His only request was that it would be something way out there no one else had done. So I immediately began working on my kung fu rock opera. Three pages later, Justin wisely decided to write his own screenplay. But, for your amusement, here are those three pages:



When my fish committed suicide, I really thought I hit rock bottom.


People walk around, some rather nervously. Every now and then they trip or fall as if pushed, or look as if someone punched them, though no one can be seen.


But then those damn commie Chinese had to finally go and listen to those damn stupid activists. They went and freed Tibet.

A MAN is brutally beaten by an invisible assailant.


And ain't it just like a commie to never mention the fact that Tibetans were all assholes, or that they could turn invisible. Damn invisible Tibetan sunsabiches. Without China holding them back, the freed Tibetans wreaked havoc around the world.

Another man, FRED, watches with mild interest. He's disheveled like a film noir detective turned homeless. His clothes might have once been designer, but now they're just a hodge-podge of wrinkles. A cigarette dangles from his lips.


I was used to gettin' my ass kicked from years at public school. Wear a Dungeons and Dragons shirt one day in second grade and it's like open season for ten years. As long as I had my love I'd be OK.


Fred looks at the neon sign with religious awe. This place is holy to him. He moves and speaks reverently.


Sweet luscious booze! Fill my existential void!

Fred walks in eagerly.


Fred enters cradling a bag full of liquor. The apartment is small to the point of ridiculousness. He has a bed, a small TV, and a table. He sits on the bed and takes out the bottles of liquor. He smiles and for a moment just takes in his bounty. The table and the bottles begin to shimmy and even shake. Fred's eyes go wide in horror. ECU on his eyes as the sound of a bottle breaking is all we hear.




ECU on his screaming mouth as another bottle goes.



He grabs the remaining bottles in his arms trying to protect them. He struggles against invisible Tibetans trying to open his arms. One begins punching Fred's face. He does his best to resist, but his arms fly open and he only saves one bottle from crashing to the floor. He is in anguish.



The Tibetan goes after the remaining bottle. Fred keeps a tight grip. He is determined to save his beer. His face is pure grit.


I could feel my fingers slipping. That beer was the last thing on this earth that I cared about, the last thing infused with any meaning or feeling. It was all I had left.

Sweat drips on his brow.


That's when HE appeared, like some kind of appearing person.

In the doorway stands FACELESS KUNG FU PRIEST. FKFP wears a black flowing robe with a Catholic Priest's collar. On his face is a blank white mask, completely expressionless. A hood covers the rest of his head. A large sack is on his back. Fred sees him and stares, confusedly, while still struggling with the invisible Tibetan. FKFP enters the room and assumes a wicked martial arts stance. He kicks the unseen man and the fight is on.

In the ensuing hand-to-hand battle, FKFP's hands and feet move at extraordinary speed. He feints, he dodges, he blocks, he punches, he kicks. From time to time he appears to be on the receiving end of a blow, but he quickly recovers. After a while, he delivers a bigger punch and stops as his opponent falls to the ground. There is a tense moment as he hovers over the Tibetan, prodding the prone man with his foot. He then picks him up and tosses him out the door. Fred is astonished. FKFP exits while Fred's mouth stays open.

Fade to black.


Fred smokes and drinks on his bed while watching the TV. The news is on.



A stone-faced anchor sits at the desk and laughs fakely.


HA HA HA HA HA HA! I guess that's ONE kitty cat that won't be climbing trees any more! HA HA HA HA HA!

I Hate Nerds and Uglies

This is probably my favorite editorial I ever wrote:

Man, I can’t stand nerds. They’re all the time nerding about, all nerdily-like. I mean, really, what’s their hell-damn problem? Once I knew this nerd that was so nerdy his dick fell off, I swear to shit! That’s pretty nerdy, but that’s not the half of it. See, ever since Revenge of the Nerds came out and that nerd-nuts Bill Gates got rich, some people have been getting it in their dumb heads that it’s “OK” to be a nerd. Well, it isn’t. Sure, gays are cool, the races are all fine, and even some Europeans aren’t totally evil, but this growing trend of nerdism in America is just plain wrong.
Nerds are unappealing in every way. They don’t know that no one else enjoys talking about Star Wars or Superman or EverQuest or their fucking dildo calculators. Yeah, that’s right, they use their calculators as dildos. You’re probably thinking “That shit is sick,” and you’d be right. But these nerd fucks just keep on trying to nerdify everyone with their nerd talk. Fuck you buddy, I’m an American and I like to fuck, so you can take your no-fuckin nerdosity and shove it up your nerd ass!
Moving along, I’ve noticed that there are far too many ugly people in this world. Shit Oh Pete! I was in the airport yesterday and I only saw one good-looking dude and one good-looking girl. What the shit! Am I just slow to realize this or did all the hot people die of hotness or something? I saw the ugliest girl ever . . .I thought she was a burn victim or a retard or something. Nope, she was just ugly.
Let me go on a tangent here for a moment. Something else I hate would be the world of fashion models and that kind of shit. Hey, Cosmo, Vogue, Playboy, and Hollywood: FUCK YOU! There was a time where people could figure out for themselves what they thought was hot, but now it’s some exaggerated, cartoonish, unfuckingreasonable shit with girls that would probably break if you actually embraced them. Eat shit, all you fucknuts for trying to tell me who’s hot. I damn well know who’s hot, my eyes, brain, and dick tell me, not you.
Back to this ugly girl . . .see, I digressed to let you know that this girl wasn’t just “not supermodel.” She resembled a piece of rocksalt with blonde hair. But, hey, whatever, it’s her right, I guess. I didn’t even really mind when she sat next to me. I was listening to music anyway. But when she tells me to turn it down . . .well, in my mind, you just don’t turn AC/DC down. Bitch probably didn’t like RAWK cause RAWK is a lot like fuckin’, and that’s one thing she’ll never do with a real person. Sure, I may have politely complied but I’ll be damned if I didn’t think bad things about that ugly whore the rest of the plane ride. Man, she’d have been sorry if I had the nuts to say it out loud. But I guess she’s suffered enough, what with the horrible-assed ugliness.
You’d think natural selection would have weeded out all the uglies by this point. Fuck you, Darwin, they’re still here! There’s so many of them that they usually end up finding a similar ugly and they get drunk or close their eyes and next thing you know they’re poppin’ out ugly fucking babies. I know some people claim all babies are cute, but by hell, half the babies I’ve ever seen looked like a cross between Alfred Hitchcock and a potato. And while individually, I like both those things, neither is attractive.
So, in conclusion, allow me to summarize. Nerds fucking suck and should cease interacting with and spreading among real people. (I stop short of calling for their abolishment for then who would we beat up in high school, and who would support our lucrative science fiction collectibles market, and who would make porno more accessible via the Internet?) Secondly, uglies should show some dignity and not fuck each other and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY KNOCK OFF ALL THAT MAKING MORE UGLY PEOPLE!

From the Archives . . .

Been going through some of my old text files and found a few things I thought I'd share with you faithful blog readers. All six of you. These are things I've written at some point in the last few years that for some reason I find commentable.

First is a letter of apology I wrote for a magazine I used to edit in college. Years later, they asked me to write something for the anniversary issue and this was it.


When Pat Stango contacted me via his special Plague Trans-Spatial Text Device and asked me to write a piece for The Plague's anniversary issue, several things went through my head. Who the hell is Pat Stango? This isn't someone I had sex with, was it? I hope he/she's hot.

I poured through my remaining issues of said illustrious illustrated and soon realized he was that one guy who was kind of funny. So then I started thinking of all the zany, fun things I could write for him. Perhaps a piece where I curse a lot! That was always a good stand-by. And it's not like I started liking the Fatties, Uglies, or Oldies. I could write about them for decades, they suck so much.

But I decided that those days were over. I'm a responsible adult now, who drinks with moderation when he drinks at all; who's had a steady girlfriend for months without a desire to break away; who educates young children in Bushwick. Yes, the time for being mean is over. It is time to make amends. So, sorry Pat. I'm not going to write anything funny. I'm going to use this public forum to make my apologies to those I've offended over the years.

To all the aforementioned Fats, Uglies, Olds, and so on, I'm sorry that I dislike you so much and so loudly. You rarely do anything more to me than take up too much space, smell bad, or cause depression, but that never stopped me from abusing you. Sorry.

To Rick Litvin, representing NYU's Film School in general, I'm sorry I was such a dick. I was so caught up in being unpretentious that I became some sort of Anti-Pretentious. When Anti-Pretentious and Pretentious met, a thousand parallel worlds suffered their demise. Therefore I am also sorry to the Earth 2 Joe Rice, the Earth A Randolph Scott, the Earth 616 Captain Britain, and the infinite varieties of Sam Waltons.

I specifically apologize to my freshman film colloquium class. I should not have removed my shirt during our last class for no real reason. I apologize to anyone else who has ever seen me at all naked. My deformities are my own and should not be foisted upon the general public.

To Garret Levin, I must apologize. I don't know why I didn't like you when we first met, but I doubt any reason I had was significant enough to warrant screaming "HEY GARRET! EAT SHIT!" from across the dining hall whilst pantomiming the action I commanded you.

I apologize to Ronnie. I shouldn't have repeatedly fucked your girlfriend, and I should at least probably remember your last name. It was something Jewish. So I guess I'm sorry for the Anti-Semitism rampant in my German ancestors as well.

To the Plague itself, I apologize. After I graduated, I made a series of ill-fated visits to my former magazine, always while intoxicated. I'm sorry for urinating in front of you, for coming on to you, and for too-obviously getting my groove on with a one-night stand at your prom. My bad.

I apologize to anyone and everyone that knew me that I let that affair with Ronnie's girlfriend turn me into such a drunken mess. I'm sorry to the Reservoir's bathroom, whose soap dispenser I broke in anger far too many times; and to its tables and walls which suffered from many knife attacks from yours truly. If I ever threatened anyone with a knife, I'm also sorry about that. Unless you were fat.

Tia, I'm sorry I didn't have sex with you even though you wanted me to. Perhaps you might learn that a first date isn't the time to tell someone you're a drug-abusing nymphomaniac. I'm also sorry you had to settle for my creepy friend. I'm even sorrier you told girls I dated later on that I was an insane person who thought that God spoke directly to him. It's much more indirect, I thought I explained that.

I apologize to the NYU populace in general for leaving the Plague in the hands of people whose comedic ability is limited to that of making "cab drivers are foreigners" jokes. I apologize again to the Plague for just insulting you in that last apology.

To my former roommate Anna, I apologize. I apologize for being drunk and messy all the time. I apologize for getting in shouting matches because we were both so miserable. I apologize for burning that GI Joe figure outside our apartment. I still say that the bloody snot in the shower wasn't mine, though.

To my senior thesis screenplay, I apologize for letting real-life problems invade you and make you unbelievably crappy. For anyone that read it, I apologize, especially for the amount of crying the main characters did and also how it really sucked bad.

Who am I forgetting? Oh, yeah. I apologize to Alpha Phi Omega. I kept adding a "Y" to all your posters when your office was across from the Plague's. I'm sorry that your comeback of adding a "D" to our name was really lame. I also rubbed my bare ass on your doorknob. I realize you'd never done anything to me other than be boring, and my actions were uncalled for.

I apologize to my English teachers for ending that last sentence with a preposition.

To the Gotham Writer's Workshop I owe many apologies. At some point, I decided that you were my arch-foes. So I began toppling your little yellow brochure stands whenever I saw them, especially when inebriated. I know that my true beef is with your evil Gotham Writer's Workshop Commander, not the mindless drones on the streets. The Commander shall pay, though, don't you worry. He'll pay DEARLY.

I'd like to tell the Womyn's Center I'm sorry for the counter-productivity some of our staff and some of your members got involved in. In the end, I think we mostly believed the same things, but we were assholes and you were poltical. I'd like to reiterate that WE didn't like Brian and Seth either.

I apologize to the enemy agent code-named "Dragon Assassin" for not kicking your ass in Saigon when I had the chance. I apologize to the families of the men and women he killed before I did finally put him out of commission.

I also apologize for blatantly making things up sometimes to make my life sound like an action movie.

In closing, I suppose I should apologize to the reader for writing such an unfunny bit for the Plague. But after reading the past few issues, it seems that it's no longer a humor magazine anyway.

I wish you all the best.

Joe Rice

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ah hell!

You gotta be kidding me.

I just wrote a review of all but the last of the comics from this week. And somehow my browser went back a page. When I went forward again it was all gone.

Boy, it was brilliant stuff.

Crap. This is so annoying.

Uggggh. Here we go again.

Doc Frankenstein was OK. Doc Savage + Frankenstein with Catholophobia. Neat idea, not so neat execution.

Street Angel is awesome. Read it or be a bad person. Clean art, good story, moving bits.

Jubilee has art that is starting to bother me. Good story, racially extreme art.

Detective Comics finally has Lapham. Wish he had Sienkiewicz, too. Nice, smaller story. No colorful villains. Batman's life. I want to see more of the sociopolitical stuff. Batman taking down the robber barons.

Never read Suicide Squad, but always thought Deadshot looked cool. Decent dark hero stuff. Antiheroes don't act . . .that's the technical definition. Comics and movies say antiheroes are morally grey heroes. That's not the real meaning. Floyd is a protagonist here, trying to clean up the neighborhood of a daughter he didn't know he had. Badass stuff, light and fun in an action movie way.

OK, back to where I was before. Sorry about the terseness. Actually, some probably prefer it.

The next up is the Avengers double bill New Avengers and Ultimates 2. Two pretty books, alternate versions of the same team, both pretty different from the traditional set-up. There's a lot of talking in both. We get pages of conversation. Pages. We get some pretty pictures. We get the glimmer of a story beginning. Some of it is even kind of interesting (Sentry, Volstagg/Loki). But can we PLEASE declare the "decompressed" trend passe? I want some comics where some shit happens for once!

Comics like The Question. Holy hell, it looks great. It really, really looks great. The surrealistic narration is good and it WORKS! The plot is interesting. The villains new and fun . . .I hope people are reading this. Lex is a fun bad guy, there's a character named "Six True Words," Lois is badass, Superman is around but not . . .read it.

There is no finer comic out there than Love and Rockets. Reading Locas really reaffirmed it. THIS is good comics. The people wanting adult stories, the people wanting beautiful art, the people that LIKE GOOD LOOKING WOMEN FOR PETE'S SAKE! WHY AREN'T YOU READING THIS IF YOU AREN'T? And those that are, roll call! Give a testimony, just like in a Southern church.

And from the finest comics, to the worst World's Finest . . .Superman/Batman suffered through a year of totally awful stories. Awful, awful, awful. Some awful, awful, awful art, too. So why the hell is the latest arc working? It's fun, it's nerd-pleasing without nerd-pandering (the nerd details enrich the story instead of making the story (cough cough Rebirth)), and it sure is pretty. AND QUALITY HEROES! I make no bones about loving the Freedom Fighters just about sight-unseen. Dunno if I've ever read a good story with them, but I know they've got it. And so here we find the Dystopian Dictatorship turn into a version of Earth X (not the crap Alex Ross thing, pre-Crisis awesomeness). The Freedom Fighters against a dictatorship over America. The narration is still completely terrible and gratuitous, but I have to say the rest has me intrigued. Other fans of superheroes who hated the rest of these, try it. And those that think I'm so much of an indy/art snob that I can't enjoy disposable "pure superhero" stuff, nyah nyah.