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At the outset A few thoughts from the editor… by r. j. paré What would you do If I sang outta tune Would ya stand up And walk out on me? Joe Cocker 1968 {Lennon/McCartney 1967}

Welcome everybody, to the latest edition of RKYV ONLINE – your FREE art-lit / popculture e-Zine! This ish, numero 36, covers submissions received up to and including May 31st 2010. Once again, RKYV ONLINE is teaming up with “our friends” at Speakeasy Primates in order to promote independent creators by setting up a promotional table at a summer convention! S.M.A.C.C. – Southern Michigan's Arts and Creativity Conference This con should be interesting and if you happen to be in Dearborn that weekend stop by our table to chat, exchange ideas, get snapped on camera or in video and maybe buy some cool swag!

S.M.A.C.C. is a combination public arts and crafts show with an ALL-NIGHT film festival and concert. It is also an opportunity for independent artists, authors, actors, fashion designers, sculptors, woodworkers, filmmakers and other creators to develop collaborations. S.M.A.C.C. is being held on July 24-25th, 2010 at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan This month RKYV is pleased as punch to share the work of independent colourist Jon Beirmann. As our “Featured Artist of the Month” Jon took the time to answer some interview questions and [hopefully] shed a little light on this nascent comic pro. His drawing of the Marvel Comics icon, Captain America, was a perfect foundation for David Marshall to build this month’s cover upon, kudos to both for their fine work. This month’s submissions from our returning columnists, inspiring poets, masterful writers and sublimely talented artists – credited throughout the Zine – really make for a spectacular issue to KICK OFF yer summer reading. I hope you get as big a kick out of every page as much as I had putting it all together. Grab yer laptop, e-reader, iPad, touch phone or whatever device you like to read RKYV with and head over to the patio… kick back with some iced tea [Long Island or otherwise] and ENJOY! r. j. paré EIC RKYV ONLINE e-Zine

[PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT: The RKYV Health & Safety committee advises all readers not to carry RKYV with you if you decide to take a dip in the pool. As our “esteemed” Editor has learned, water and electronics DO NOT mix [even if the extension cord reaches that far]. Thankfully, Mrs. Paré is used to such absentmindedness from her dear husband and is First Aid trained and certified in order to retrieve and revive him. Sadly, the laptop in question now decorates the bottom of their pool.] <drippy laptop – by r. j. paré

Truncated Torso Sketch â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by Josh Bowe

Sports Rossini’s Ramblings by Tom Rossini

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES… ERNIE HARWELL Jan 25 1918 – May 4 2010 Ernie Harwell was born in Washington, Georgia and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia as a huge baseball fanatic. He was a batboy at the age of 5 for the “Atlanta Crackers”, and at the age of 16 began working for “The Sporting News” as a baseball correspondent. After graduating he worked for the Atlanta Constitution as a copy editor and sports writer. His career began in 1943 for WSB Radio announcing games for the “Atlanta Crackers”. He joined the United States Marine Corps shortly thereafter for 4 years. In 1948 Ernie was actually traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Cliff Dapper. This is the only time in history that an announcer was traded. Ernie remained the Brooklyn Dodgers announcer until his contract expired in 1949. Over the next few years he broadcast for New York Giants from 1950- 1953 which included his call of Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard Around the World.” Ernie was the broadcaster during the 1951 National League Pennant game which was hosted on NBC ). From 1954-1959, he was the broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles. In 1960 Ernie Harwell became “The Voice of the Tigers” and sat along side George Kell. Ernie remained in Detroit until 1991 when WJR stated they would not renew Ernie Harwell’s contract. A Statue of Ernie at Comerica Park

Tiger Baseball Fans and people throughout Michigan and the baseball community were outraged, but the ballclub and the radio station stood firm: and that “Ernie’s firing was not going to change no matter how much clamor is made over it,” said team president Bo Schembechler. (Bo Schembechler is a former University of Michigan football coach, a legend as well. Tom Monagham sold the team in 1992 to Mike Ilitch and his first priority was to bring back Ernie Harwell. The 1993 season concluded with a three-person radio team (Rizzs, Rathbun and Harwell) with Harwell calling innings 1–3 and 7–9 of each game. From 1994-1998, Harwell called television broadcasts for the Tigers and in 1999, he resumed full-time radio duties with the Tigers through 2002. During spring training of that year, Harwell announced that he would retire at the end of the season -- this time on his own terms; his final broadcast came on September 29, 2002 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Comerica farewell speech Ernie Harwell gave a 2-minute, 12-second farewell address to fans and the Tigers organization at Comerica Park on the night of Sept. 16. The comments were made in the middle of the third inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals : “Thank you very much. We don't want to be penalized now for the delay of the game, but I do want to express my feelings here. It's a wonderful night for me. I really feel lucky to be here, and I want to thank you for that warm welcome. I want to express my deep appreciation to Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers for that video salute and also for the many great things they've done for me and my family throughout my career here with the Tigers. In my almost 92 years on this earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey. And the blessed part of that journey is that it's going to end here in the great state of Michigan. I deeply appreciate the people of Michigan. I love their grit. I love the way they face life. I love the family values they have. And you Tiger fans are the greatest fans of all. No question about that. And I certainly want to thank you from the depth of my heart for your devotion, your support, your loyalty and your love. Thank you very much, and God bless you.” Ernie’s Farewell Speech –

Following his retirement, in 2003 Harwell came back to call a Wednesday night baseball game telecast on ESPN, as part of that network's “Living Legends” series of guest announcers. In 2005, Harwell called the game for an inning on the FOX network's coverage of the ALL-STAR GAME which was played in Detroit at Comerica Park, as well as an inning on the ESPN Radio broadcast. Over the next few years Ernie continued to do guest spots. Ernie was well known for his low-key delivery, and southern accent. Some of his most famous phrases are…. • • • • • •

“That one is long gone!” “He stood there like the house by the side of the road, and watched it go by.” “Called out for excessive window shopping.” “It's two for the price of one!” “A fan from (insert a city) will be taking that ball home today.” “The Tigers need instant runs.”

Links to watch as Ernie Harwell says good bye:

Sen. Carl Levin delivered the following statement on the Senate floor on May 5, 2010:

“For, lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” “Mr. President, spring after spring, for four decades, a man named Ernie Harwell would recite those words. He would recite them at the beginning of the first baseball broadcast of spring training. And those are the words that would tell the people of Michigan that the long, cold winter was over.

Ernie was the radio voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, and in that time, there may have been no Michiganian more universally beloved. Our state mourns today at his passing, yesterday evening, after a battle with cancer. He fought that battle with the grace, the good humor, and the wisdom that Michigan had come to expect, and even depend on, from a man we came to know and love.

A moment for Ernie - -

This gentlemanly Georgian adopted our team, and our state, as his own. And his career would have been worthy had he done nothing more than bring us the sound of summer over the radio, recounting the Tigers' ups and downs with professionalism and wit, as he did. But without making a show of it, Ernie Harwell taught us. In his work and his life, he taught us the value of kindness and respect. He taught us that, in a city and a world too often divided, we could be united in joy at a great Al Kaline catch, or a Lou Whitaker home run, or a Mark Fidrych strikeout. He taught us not to let life pass us by “like the house by the side of the road.” In 1981, when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Ernie told the assembled fans what baseball meant to him. “In baseball democracy shines its clearest,” he said. “The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color merely something to distinguish one team's uniform from another.” That was a lesson he taught us so well.

Mr. President, I will miss Ernie Harwell. All of Michigan will miss the sound of his voice telling us that the winter is past, that the Tigers had won a big game, or that they'd get another chance to win one tomorrow. We will miss his Georgia drawl, his humor, his humility, his quiet faith in God and in the goodness of the people he encountered. But we will carry in our hearts always our love for him, our appreciation for his work, and the lessons he gave us and left us and that we will pass on to our children and grandchildren. Sincerely, Carl Levin

New York Times - Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski paid his final respects to Harwell near a life-sized statue of the Hall of Fame broadcaster.

In memorial

Featured Artist Review Jonathan Biermann by r. j. parĂŠ

r. j. parĂŠ: Have you always known that you wanted to be or, rather, were an artist? Jon Biermann: I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, basically since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Never really thought about it as being a career choice, it was more or less just a passion. It wasn't until my early to mid 20's that I started to really think about doing art as a profession. r.j.p.: Did you study or major in art while in school? JB: Self Taught. The greatest teachers out there are the masters of the trade. Study their work, try your best to mimic it and learn from their example. As an artist every time you look at a picture you should walk away learning something new from it. r.j.p.: Who was your primary source of encouragement, as a child, in pursuing art? JB: Always had encouragement from family of course. But unless you want it yourself, and push yourself to become better at it all the encouragement in the world will just fall on deaf ears. r.j.p.: What is your favorite media to work with? JB: Varies from picture to picture. But most of my work now days is done digital. Got to go with the times.

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Odin Sleeps Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: Even in repose a powerful representation of the Norse All-Father. The stout figure, hammer at his side seems to function as a comment on the mythology itself – perhaps a reflection of fading beliefs and traditions. I must thank Jon for sharing these images with me over the years as they have served as inspiration for many story concept / idea.

r.j.p.: Do you use any special tools and techniques to create your art? JB: My Bamboo art tablet. But even though I do all my work nowadays on the computer I still try to give an old school feel to it. Might take a bit longer to do something up but the end result is well worth the extra hours put in.

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Reflections of the Past, [The Hulk © Marvel Comics] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: What inspires you to create art? JB: Everything and anything. You never know when the next muse will walk around the corner and strike you with inspiration.

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Avenger, [Captain America © Marvel Comics] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: What really appeals to me, about this piece, is Jon’s quite stunning use of texture, light & shadow to make it truly feel as though this iconic super soldier is standing before you wearing leather and chain-mail. Too many artists render cap as though he is a part of the spandex brigade. This is a fighter outfitted for battle.

r.j.p.: How would you categorize your artistic style? JB: Never really thought about it. lol r.j.p.: Would you say that there is a "message" or "unifying theme" in your work? JB: Not really. I try and put passion and a bit of my heart and soul into each work. An artist can try and put a message or unifying theme into their work, but in the end it’s what the viewer decides. All an artist can hope for is that their work in some way inspires or lights a spark of emotion into those who look at their work.

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Zatanna, [Zatanna © DC Comics] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: The DC Comics Mistress of Magic in all her long-legged beauty. I have only one question to ask: where oh, where are her sexy fishnet stockings? [Sigh, lol]

r.j.p.: Which famous artists / creators or styles have influenced you? Why? JB: It changes from day to day depending on what particular style of artwork I’m trying to achieve. But my biggest influences have got to be Alex Ross, Joe Jusko and Bruce Timm.

r.j.p.: Would you rather have an engaged & loyal but, ultimately, small Indie readership or work on the latest Spidey, Wolverine or X - book? [the old Art vs Commerce question] JB: I think we all dream of being known world wide for our work. Having that kind of fan base is always good for the old ego. But nothing beats that loyal indie style fan base. You really connect better and it brings it down to a more personal level.

r.j.p.: With advancements in computer graphic tablet technology, some artists are now creating their work directly in the digital medium and releasing it in purely digital formats... are the days of paper & pulp doomed to the realm of fading memories? JB: Tough Question. Old school vs. New school. I would have to say yes and no. As much as today’s artists are going more and more digital, myself included, I find its harder to gain that sense of individual when going digital. With Old school you can really see the heart and soul of the work. I think any new artist who works solely with the digital medium needs to be able to also master the old school methods. Other wise you can have a hundred artists do the same picture and you would never be able to tell them apart one from the other. Digital has its perks to it. It's cheaper and faster. But the big downside is the loss of uniqueness that only an old school artist can put into their work. I really hope the days, of paper and pulp, are not gone. Did I answer that question properly or did I ramble on too much? lol

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, [Chloe Sullivan © DC Comics] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: What do you think of the term "starving artist"? JB: Show me an artist who is not starving. Anyone who gets into the art industry who thinks that some day they will get rich doing it needs a reality check. And if you are doing it for the money then you should go find something else because you’re doing your art for the wrong reasons.

r.j.p.: Do you feel more a sense of community with other artists or a sense of competition? JB: Definitely a sense of community. I try and stay away from those who are trying to compete in landing jobs in the industry. I would sooner be with those who understand that you can't do it alone - that you need to work together to achieve goals. I’m a firm believer in you scratch my back I scratch yours attitude.

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Natural Beauty [Krystyn] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Farm Yard Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: How do you market yourself? JB: Internet baby! In today’s world the internet is the only way to go in getting yourself noticed. How else can you reach such a world wide audience? Not to mention, for us starving artists, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Amazing Spiderman, [Spiderman © Marvel Comics] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: Do you find it difficult to stay motivated / inspired? JB: In general no. There are days sure where nothing works and you just want to walk away in frustration. But when that happens I just put down the pen, sit back, relax and enjoy checking out the work of others. The inspiration soon comes back. r.j.p.: While traditional publishing and distribution has become a difficult goal to achieve for the modern Indie comic creator, what do you think of the impact that social networks and POD services have had as an alternate means of connecting you, your work and your audience? JB: Well nowadays pretty much anyone and everyone can get their comic or story out there via the internet. It’s a great way to show off your product and build up a fan base. This of course helps out in getting the attention of any future publisher. But at the same time it has caused the industry to become very over-saturated.

r.j.p.: What other interests do you have, besides art? JB: Well besides my art projects, I’m also involved in the Indie Pro Wrestling scene. And I’m an avid collector of shiny yet useless junk.

Artists’ Name: Jon Biermann [colours] & Mike Williams Title: Batman, [Batman © DC Comics] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: What advice would you have for a young artist starting out today? JB: Learn from those who came before you. Work hard and never give up. And most of all, when you do get your big break don’t let it go to your head. I have seen so many young artists who once they get that first big job think that they are now members of an elite class and that they all of a sudden are better then anyone else. Let's just say those guys don’t very often see their second big break. Stay humble, stay real and most of all no matter how impossible things may seem, always have fun doing it. r.j.p.: Do you have any big plans, shows or Cons coming up? JB: I got two big comic projects on the go at the moment, once they get completed… well I guess we will see what happens next.

Artist’s Name: Jon Biermann Title: Africa Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

r.j.p.: How would you like your art, and by extension yourself, to be remembered? JB: Wow tough question. I’m not really sure I can answer that one. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens when the day comes.

To enjoy more of Jon’s work: r.j.p.: On the next page is the piece of art that Jon graciously allowed us to adapt for the cover of this month’s issue - in its unaltered glory. I do hope you enjoy.

Artistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Name: Jon Biermann Title: I Stand Alone, [Captain America Š Marvel Comics] Media Used: Digital, Bamboo Art Tablet

Bad Beat [the final installment]

By r. j. paré What has gone before… Mr. Grey has made a mess of his marriage. His wife Missy has had to kick him out in order to stop him from fueling his online gambling addiction with their savings. Stealing her car and emptying their credit card he has decided to try his luck at a local Casino. While driving on the odd, winding country highway, filled with late model cars, Mr. Grey gets annoyed at the St. Christopher medallion hanging from the rear view mirror. The lights seem to reflect off of it and into his eyes. He tries to untangle it and drifts into the opposite lane…

The River “When the fifth and final community card is dealt, face up, by the dealer.” Croupier “If you need to bluff at this point, you played the hand wrong.” Gambler “Read ’em and weep.” Recovering Addict

It’s been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If only the reverse were also true then Mr. Grey would have very little to worry about. His intentions, being of the selfish, petty and mean spirited sort – certainly aren’t winning him any happiness in this life – and it would be somewhat comforting, for us, were they to garner him solace in the next. I think, dear reader, we both know better than that. The universe, in all its wonder and mystery just doesn’t work that way. It isn’t simply, that good intentions, lacking wisdom, can pave the way to hell – it is that the roads to hell are numerous beyond counting and the paths to redemption are few and far between.

*** The eighteen-wheeler bearing down on him was the source of all the light filling the car and now, blinding him with glare. Mr. Grey wrenched as hard as could on the steering wheel, before everything went black.

*** “Holy shit!” The ever-eloquent Mr. Grey exclaims to himself [the only person, really, that he ever listens to]. “That was a goddamn close call,” his penchant for understatement notwithstanding, a near miss with a transport truck would indeed be a ‘close call’. Never-the-less Mr. Grey spares no time in quickly yanking the offending St. Christopher medallion from the rear view mirror and tossing it onto the floor. “Here we go,” he says with a grin and turns into the gaudy, flashy neon parking lot for the Pandemonium Hotel & Casino. The place was baroque – all bronze, marble and shining so much as to overwhelm the senses. What else would one expect from a place built to take all that you have? Pandemonium was a menagerie of dazzling distractions as Mr. Grey made his way to the poker room. There was only table running, but that was okay; it was his obsession – No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. “Welcome to the table,” the dealer intones “ten players we have a full board.” He pauses and passes his eyes over the assorted characters seated at the game, “It’s time to ante up!”

*** Mr. Grey… began to play and wouldn’t it be nice if we could end things here? The young man hits a lucky winning street. Then quits while he is ahead and goes home to Missy contrite but with enough winnings to soften her anger and call the while things an unfortunate learning experience. One they, as a family, are stronger for having survived?

Certainly that would be a happy ending. Sigh… Read on if you must. But from here on out, we’ll let Mr. Grey tell his tale, trust us – he has nothing better to do. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…


I don’t really remember the first one that got eliminated. He seemed roughly middle aged but that covers a lot of ground now doesn’t it? I do recall that his tee shirt and jeans were quite faded and he had one of those faces you just seem to forget. Anyhow, in short order he was gone and there were eight of us. My odds, it seemed, had just improved. Missy would see. Just watch me take down some ‘monster pots’.

The next to go was this ‘dolled up’ dish that damned near made me forget I was married. She was all implants and stilettos. Her name was Tiffany and I figured her for a bimbo from slots; just hanging around to land herself a whale. But tables like these are shark infested waters and despite her distracting ‘endowments’ she didn’t last much longer than ‘what’s his face’. But man, she was some sweet eye candy while she lasted. Now don’t be thinking I am a dog. I’d never cheat on someone, least of all my Missy. I adored her, ya know? Mind you we separated at the time… still I never got Tiffany’s room key so the point is moot.

At this point I became momentarily distracted by the stench wafting from across the table. The fat French turd playing there had just cut a prodigious one and laughed to let us all know how proud he was. “Hey, hey… ha, ha. It is a compliment to the food here, eh? I suppose I should, how do you say, pardonnez-moi?” He garbled between belches. The man was a slob. There were food, sauce and drink stains all over his clothes and I swear he’s must have been close to four hundred pounds! Thankfully we did not have to pit up with his stench much longer as he went all in at the wrong time. I don’t even think he was paying attention to the game as the waitress had been walking by with a dessert tray. Damn pig – it served him right. But my stacks were holding up fine and I played on.

That’s when I faced my first showdown. Big Tex was literally larger than life. He was straight outta some western movieset in the grand ole Hollywood tradition. There were these ridiculous tassels hanging from his suit, a string tie held together by a cattle skull bolo and I swear a gargantuan tengallon hat sitting up on his head. At first I thought he was a card shark and I’ll admit I wanted nothing to do with a head’s up call on this fella. The funny thing is, after awhile I didn’t buy it anymore it seemed crafted for effect. It was almost as if a western clothier had vomited all over the big guy.

That and the fact that he was too aggressive ensured his fate. I knew he was playing heavy every time he was ‘on the button’. The man was greedy, trying to steal pots and that was my ‘in’. I just had to wait for the right moment and when it came, well let’s just say the look on Big Tex’s face, a mixture of disbelief, misery and regret, could have broke hearts from here to Dallas. Four down, five to go, I had neared the midway point in this game and I was catching fire.

This mopey faced young Southie punk was the next to go. It wasn’t me that did him in but it still helped my odds. Tommy, I think his name was; he didn’t say much. He grumbled quite a bit and kept playing with his “Yo! Boy” cap, turned backwards of course, I suspect it is practically a ‘uniform reg’ with such urchins. The point is, though, the sap couldn’t catch a break if it was lobbed to him from the Red Sox dugout. Every pot he even sniffed at folks would up their bets and shut him down. Whether in the sea or on dry land – sharks can sense when there’s ‘blood in the water’ and his stacks were promptly eaten away to nothing. I looked around at the remaining players and their burgeoning stacks. To my left were Peter and Frank an odd couple indeed. Peter seemed nervous, anxious or guilty about something. He kept looking over his shoulder, rubbing his neck and jumping every time someone raised his or her voice an octave too loud. Now Frank though, he was an open book just waiting to be read. With his black leather car coat, five o’clock shadow and the toothpick jutting from his mouth – he was a walking talking caricature of a mob wiseguy. I doubt he was actually ‘connected’ but hey who knows, right? Either way he seemed an angry, temperamental sort, the kind that would just as soon track ya down and ‘recover’ his losses out of your hide. To my right Chichi Fourberie and The Hooded Man. Sounds kinda like a failed 70’s TV pitch eh? “Tune in this fall for the wacky hi-jinx and urban humor of Chichi and The Hooded Man. Fridays at 8 o’clock EST; 10 o’clock Central.”

Like a modern day Gabor Sister she exuded class and elegance. So long as you contented yourself with gazing at the surface and she had a lovely surface. The Hooded Man was another question entirely. He was the chip leader but seemed content to wait patiently under that black hoody and behind those dark sunglasses for his opponents – his victims at this point – to do themselves in.

It was Frank that was the undoing of Peter. Peter’s twitchiness was really getting on Frank’s nerves. Finally he laid into him. “Enough already Padré, we get that yer collar’s a little too tight. Sheesh, what’cha so nervous about, are you gambling away the collection plate?’ Damn, how did I miss that? The whole reason he had been rubbing his neck was that tell tale Roman collar he had tucked, mostly, out of view inside his jacket. I wonder how many ‘Hail Marys’ the Bishop will give him to recite after his next confession? After being found out Peter was a complete, humiliated wreck and gave up his chips accordingly.

Now Frank was a different piece of work. He kept trying to chat up Chichi – to little avail. She paid more attention to the size of his stacks, compared to The Hooded Man, than his grease-ball charm. And that pissed Frank off. Just a note to aspiring poker players: Never play angry.

With all of his attention drawn to the rebuffing Ms. Fourberie, Frank paid no heed to Sir Dark Sun-glasses quiet calls of his bets. Before he knew it, he was adding to the mystery man’s ever increasing chip lead. He was also out of chips and out of the game. It took two security guards to drag him away after he threw his chair and uttered a torrent of expletives. That, however, left three of us.

The thing I finally noticed, about little miss fancy dress, is that her hairstyle was pretty cheap. I mean, here she was wearing a haute couture number that would of set me back a month’s rent, at least, and her hair was like a ‘Super Cuts’ special. It didn’t gibe very well. I took a closer look at the diamonds she was wearing and got suspicious. I am by no means a jeweler but I’d bet those damn things were glass – cubic zirconia, if you will. Her right sleeve cinched it though. I could see the thin thread tucked in her sleeve and new for certain she’d be trying to return that dress the next day. Well, that put things in a different light. A phony… I could use that in reading her play. And I did. I don’t need to break down the hand, play by play, but suffice it to say her chips gave me the leg up I needed if I was gonna go head to head with The Hooded Man. To be honest, it was my best pot of the night and I was feeling ten feet tall.

That left our mystery man, Mr. Black Hoody, Sir Dark Sunglasses, The Hooded Man… a devil of a card player, by my estimation. But I felt I was ready to go head’s up with him.

Pride goes before the fall or so I’ve heard. It happened like this. We traded a few cautious hands of button play pots swapping antes looking for an opening. At this stage poker can seem like the final round of a heavyweight title fight where both fighters think they need a knockout to avoid the judge’s cards. I think I was doing pretty good too, the twin glares off his sun-glasses were a little disconcerting at times… almost like they were bearing down on me. But I would swerve my eyes aside and put my focus back on the play, waiting for a chance to take him down. Then a miracle seemed to happen. He was on the button and I got dealt ‘Big Slick’. For poker newbies, let me tell ya that is the best starting hand in poker – an Ace and a King, in my case a heart and a diamond respectively. I had to play this cool now and take him for as much of his chips as I could. I made, what I hoped would seem a ‘feeler’ bet. Just large enough to make it look like I was trying to horn in on his pot but not so big as to scare him off. If he had any sort of hand he would most likely stay in, seeing as he had control of last betting position. And that was what I was hoping for. Sure enough, The Hooded Man calls my bet, he probably wants to see The Flop before deciding whether I actually have a hand. I pick up to pair when the Ace of Clubs appears on the flop. There’s also a deuce and five of spades, but they don’t touch my beautiful bullets. Now… I wanna make him think I’ve got nothing so I limp in for less than my opening bet. He calls. Yes! I can feel this game’s ready to swing my way. This pot alone would be enough to put us on even ground going forward. But I want to stick the dagger in now and cripple his stacks. The turn card is the Ace of Diamonds. Oh baby! I am sitting with Trips, large! I manage, somehow, to control my glee and offer up another innocent looking bet. My nemesis looks at his cards and calls once more. The odds are huge in my favour but he can’t know that. He must think I am representing better kicker cards to go with the pair of bullets on the layout. He has no idea, I am certain. The River comes up Ace of Spades. Holy shit. I am looking at quad aces, I don’t need to consider any options, I know I have him. I think of my baby son, Missy might be a bitch for betraying me, but I could really spoil the kid with some serious poker winnings. But, why should I? If Missy wants me out of her life let’s see how she handles raising our son on her piddly earnings. Meanwhile, with winnings like these I should be able to turn pro or something. I can take off for places like Vegas and qualify for the World Series of Poker. “Yea, screw them,” I think, as I slide my stacks forward. “All in.” I refrain from dancing through an almost superhuman effort of will. But the game is over… he has to know that now. He must fold. I will have cut out his legs and all that will be left is a hand or two of my newly short-stacked ‘friend’ sputtering on empty.

“Call.” He deadpans. What the hell? Why would he call? It is insane, I mean sure I’ll take even more of his chips and finish this up even quicker… but it makes no sense. I shrug and show my cards. “Four Aces pal, tough luck” I allow myself a victory grin. “Thanks for the game though you are one hell of a player.” “Indeed, you pathetic fool,” he snarls as the shades come off revealing a face I know. One I have seen in the mirror, looking back at me, for years. “You have no idea,” he intones in a voice that seems to echo throughout the room and beyond. “How…” I stumble. “What is going on here?” I don’t know what game this weirdo is playing but I am taking my chips and cashing out. “I am out of here.” “I think not!” he roars. It is a sound you never want to hear; a predatory thunder that loosens your bladder and leaves you whimpering “please, no…” His cards land face up on the table with a crash like falling buildings. They are revealed as a suited three and four of spades. My heart skips a beat as my eyes flash back to the community cards and I gaze upon my fate. An Ace High Straight Flush. He wins. “Dear God…” I feel crushing despair fill every inch of my being, my very soul. “He can’t help you now,” he laughs, it is a sickening sound, like something you’d imagine an Auschwitz executioner would cackle. He pulls his head back revealing twin horns that, truly, were unnecessary at this point. I knew him. God help me I knew my fate. As his eyes glared at me I could hear loud noises: screaming tires, blaring horns and the screech and crash of twisting metal and busting glass. There is nothing more for me to tell, except for the burning darkness… and the screams that echo unceasingly in this void. My screams.

*** And Somewhere in the Darkness… The County Sheriff’s cruisers had closed the highway. Bright flares and red cones dotted the pavement as emergency workers cleared the wreckage. The transport driver seemed all right, just a little shook up, but paramedics were giving him the once over to be on the safe side.

“This old road is getting more treacherous now that the Casino is out here. There are just so many, damned folks, desperate to gamble.” The dour middle aged Sheriff grumbles to his Deputy. “Ha… they could give it to me if they’re in such a hurry to throw their money away.” His smart alec young Deputy replies as he surveys the remains of the two door coupe. Inside, another young man was now just another roadside statistic. “He must not have died on impact. I think he bled out, slowly.” The Sheriff joins him in assessing the scene. “What makes you say that?” The Deputy points out the shining chain lying just out of the victim’s reach, “It looks he was reaching for that St. Christopher medallion. Meh! Didn’t seem to do him any good, that.” “I suppose,” the Sheriff ponders. “What do ya mean – ‘I suppose’? Hell, he’s dead, ain’t he?” “Well, I can’t rightly say, my momma always said that the good Lord sends us warnings… but it is up to us to heed them. Maybe he just didn’t heed his warnings.” The Sheriff offered this bit of homespun spiritual wisdom. “Maybe yer getting soft headed in your years,” the Deputy yucked it up until a smart cuff to the back of his head knocked his hat off. “I’m just kidding boss, sorry.” The Sheriff ignored the apology as he went through the vic’s wallet. He only hired the little pain in the ass, because he’s his nephew. His brother is going to owe him huge, especially if he comes to regret this arrangement. Well, any more than he does already. Inside the leather folds he finds something that stops his wandering thoughts of familial obligation. “Hey… His wallet’s got a picture of his wife and baby.” The picture was from a happier time. It showed a seemingly perfect little family, a snapshot of everything that Mr. Grey tossed aside in his selfish downward spiral. “Damn. Now that’s a crying shame.”


Too Late for Regrets – by r. j. paré – from the Painted Aces series

Health and Wellness For those that want to ‘Bring Her Closer’ by C. S. Cartier I am by far not an expert, and I certainly do not play one on the tele. Experience has taught me a lot, and research has finished the job. I am amazed by the problems I see out there when I watch passers-by (yes, I am the creepy dude staring at you). In an attempt to write my novel, I picked up a habit years ago of watching people. It is the little things, how they talk with their hands; or facial expressions when some better looking or better dressed individual walks by. There is the always famous, cup your hands to your mouth to point out an obese person (yea, that is not too discrete; why don’t you just point and call them fatty – have some guts if you’re going to be a jerk). Many of you know of the messy end to my relationship with my ex-wife, as I have written about it often enough. I am the sort of person that does not like failure, so I began to analyze what faults may have been mine and what I could do to fix them. I believe the old adage, “We cannot change someone else; we can only change ourselves.” I discovered I was still a geek at heart but the romantic inside was doing it all right. I am not a player (not by a long shot and I am certainly not one to kiss and tell). But I do yearn to help people whenever I can. (Sorry ladies this article is mostly for the men, but fell free to let me know how far off the mark I am. Besides, if I am on the button, you will be the ones rewarded.)

How to be more physical with a Lady! Marriages end because the fire dies, relationships fizzle before they start because my fellow gents are messing up in a big way. Your dads probably did this, and somehow pop culture has made the one-liner popular – listen now… THEY DO NOT WORK. Sure there is the exception to the rule, everybody knows somebody that is a player that somehow always has a girl. That is because he knows something the most guys do not. Confidence is everything. If you want to do the horizontal hop, you better be sure and pure. Clean yourself up; the shower is not scary is it? Brush your teeth and comb your hair. Deodorant would be a great touch, nothing will turn a woman’s head faster than B.O. (well, maybe Justin Timberlake walking in, but if that happens the cleanest guy doesn’t have a chance).

Start with chivalry. Guys often make the mistake of going from “How you doin’?” straight to the expectation of cruising the pleasure peaks. Once out of a million times that will work (damn Joey made it look so easy) Try starting slowly, and be a gentleman. It makes a good impression and if she is worth the effort nothing was lost. If she is not worth the effort, you have some real issues and Dr Phil is waiting for your call. Now, this is where confidence and chivalry mix well with a little guile. Open the door for her lightly touching the small of her back as you help guide her ahead slowly into the room (for the love of everything holy don’t push her). You want to make her comfortable to be around you and for a lady, the small things will eventually add up. Why do you think women push men away when we though ourselves at them. Even if they wanted to get frisky, they are the pace car. It starts slow but eventually revs right up, looking good and purring. Another way to light the fires of passion is as simple as a whisper. Whisper a secret, a little joke or just excuses you for a private restroom business (it is not going that badly, just answer natures call). It really does not matter what you say but the ear is very sensitive on nearly every woman. Speak slowly, with a soothing voice. Breathe softly letting your lips brush lightly against her ear lobe. Remember, it is the little things. A woman knows if you are full of crap, so don’t be. Honest comments and most definitely notice the effort she put into her attire and hair. It may have only taken us a couple minutes, but she changed probably three times even before she decided what she was going to wear. That kind of effort is worth noticing. Again, be honest with any compliments. She will quiz you on it. ‘Why do you like my dress?’ I don’t know will put out any fire that may have been simmering. While you are talking (talking is not a speech, it is two ways with LISTENING and questions about what you heard. ‘u-huh’ will be a check in the piss off column. So, while you are talking, place sexual innuendoes into the conversation. Do not get filthy or gross or think you are talking to one of your buddies. Softly, gently use words like thrusting, bliss, yearning, release. Put them innocently in the conversation. Example… “Ya, I was waiting for this letter. I watched as the mail was delivered very slowly. They are never in a rush. I was just glad she finally came. I could see she was having difficulty opening the box; I made a mental note to lubricate it later. Which reminds me, I still have to get something to grease it up? I could not wait for it. I was filled with bliss when I saw it in the mailbox. I thrust my hand and fingers into the box after I released the door.” Innocent flirting will bring you to a moment when she is expecting you to make a move. Remember confidence is your best friend. If she is laugh and having a good time, she wants you to be around for a reason. Use this because remember, she has to be comfortable around you. Instead of throwing yourself at her, move close as if you are going to kiss her but instead go toward her ear. Whisper the following… “Good things come…” pull away slowly, pass her lips touching them ever so lightly and go to the opposite ear. “… To those that wait.” You have in that move taken control. That is a sure way to stoke the fires that are burning inside her (no pun intended). She will either begin to melt, or is total insulted that you took the control. At which point, she will not want to wait and take the next step herself. Remember, timing is everything and you do have to watch her and listen to her. Treat her like she wants to be treated. With respect and like a lady.

All of these suggestions work to rekindle the flames in a marriage as well. Good Luck, I can say with one hundred percent certainty that these work. Well, for me they did. Comments are welcomed. Subject: Bring Her Closer I would love to hear from the ladies to see their take on the subject. Guys do sometimes need a road map.

Next issue: Understanding the differences between a man and a woman. It is easier than you think.

Kiss â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by C. S. Cartier

Untitled â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by Engin Korkmaz

poetry Selected Poem by Wanda VanHoy Smith Intro: I am an L.A. area poet who has been published in Poeticdiversity among other poetry magazines. My poetry covers lots of sand from jazz, the Beach to freeway travel.

CLOGGED LIFELINE Plumbing hasn't improved much since Roman times Flush toilets are admittedly better than chamber pots. In medieval days chamber maids emptied pots out castle turrets on anything below including Heads of State and Ladies-in- waiting. No princess ever had to wait for Router Rooter. to clear sewage from a clogged moat. The garbage disposal is a piece of garbage invented to bend spoons but not to dispose of disposable diapers or stringy vegetable skin. The only thing safe to grind up in a garbage disposal is cold water if it isn't too hard. Ice cubes and Jello are easily disposed of with hot water.

Be careful what comes out of your mouth, bitter words, insults, sour grapes can stop up pipe dreams the way cholesterol clogs the arteries to your heart. Call a doctor with tools and experience to clear anger that clogs up the line from your brain to your mouth. Scientists reach outer space but are still in diapers when it comes to disposing of waste. What we need is a nanorobotic plumber with a nanobot snake.

Untitled â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by Josh Bowe

Selected Poetry by Don Kingfisher Campbell BIO: Don Kingfisher Campbell, host of Saturday Afternoon Poetry in Pasadena and editor of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, has recently been published in Phantom Seed and Sage Trail poetry magazines, and the Lunarosity and Poetic Diversity online poetry websites. He has also published a book of his 144 best poems from 2007-2009 titled Amongst The Detritus, available on Want a poet in your classroom, library, bookstore, coffeehouse, or event? Please e-mail

I GOT THE AMERICAN RIGHT I got the American right to wake up to an alarm clock tuned to a talk radio station (too many bad things going on) I got the American right to take a hot shower and dry off with an imported towel (too many damn imports these days) I got the American right to drive my SUV to work and use premium gasoline (too many emissions regulations anyway) I got the American right to put a cell phone to my ear and talk my head off while I drive (I told you there's too many nitpicky laws) I got the American right to stop off and eat a double cheeseburger and order some large fries too (a person's got to live while you can) I got the American right to go to my HMO when I feel bad

Ideals to Ashes â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by r. j. parĂŠ and buy drugs from Canada on the internet (good ol' American ingenuity, I say)

I got the American right to have my son enrolled in a private school and avoid having him serve in the military (leave that to the immigrant children) I got the American right to ignore my daughter's a lesbian and publicly declare homosexuals are going to hell (I usher in church every Sunday)

I got the American right to own a home in the suburbs and pay a variable rate mortgage (more talk radio to listen to on my commute) Untitled â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by Josh Bowe I got the American right to run up my credit card debt and relieve my burden by filing for bankruptcy (only in America can you start over and not go to jail) I got the American right to be buried any way I want and have my relatives go on with their lives (that's the work ethic that made America great)

THIS MUST BE HEAVEN Everyone who doesn't live in LA says we're the city of lost angels. But for those of us who drive we believe our pathways are populated by individuals in heavy armor zagging about directing with pulsing hands and shoes changing speed inside carpeted compartments that move from home to driving interest. That is what trunks are for, to collect booty for placement back in our shrines to ourselves.

Open any door and discover placed portraits of souls on display waiting for judgment or earthquake. Either way tangible detritus left behind seem to wait for our return. That is our faith, that we will live to breathe another day full of possessions which we know will ultimately break like bodies. This must be true for any place wealthy enough to have wings for sale

EL PLANETA DE LOS OREOS so delightful this black oceaned and white continented world the round black framed white bellied people enjoy eating black crusted pizza covered with creamy white topping as they sit at their white tableclothed black tables and wear black and white dresses and suits and ties simply to exit their white windowed black houses and walk on white stone walkways around black bladed grass to go in to their black cars sporting white rims which roll down black (white lines through the middle) highway arrive at circular black concrete plaza and lounge on raised white platform dark and light mouths open in delight at the joy of living on a delicious planet with black sky and white clouds except for the fact their teeth are white with black spots all over which they try to clean by taking milk river baths while standing on black stones as the white sun shines in the night but mostly their poetry is ours...which we can experience by turning our video screens to the black and white setting

Selected Poem by Tindersen Blacktree Hoopdriver Warm Stay Hold Warm stay in the dry gape Clasping newly fitted iron. Enter thoughts of escape, Awaiting floods and mist. Pluck

Words minted, held and tossed Gargled magma spouting. The splash full hisses home birds off for Tits with Lucy outings. Snap

The sound of flocks of replicats Accompany its band, Pulled back to their place of comfort By the bodies necked in sand.

Chanting, Grace the air! For ears of stolen lyre, Bait the breath of the hurtling With the passion and the fire.



Bend arches of tradition. Inhale fresh promised swear. Live out the days in endless light by the words they build up stair.

Impetus Hex â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by Tindersen Blacktree Hoopdriver


What a mould of man thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s made. What patterns fools make true. The art and craft swing hooks What white clad fare extend their hand On the back of floods and waves. and take you too. To fish out fear in silent ones And feed them to the brave.

Selected Poem by Frances Nichols Vargas How Lucky A Mom am I? I remember the days as a little girl Playing with all my childhood friends And our laughing innocence back then Taking bets on how old we all would be When God would grant our special dream As those innocent years flew by with heartbreak and lost loves The days of dreaming and wondering how life would change Would soon become destiny Finally that moment came Pregnancy at last! My long awaited dream As my belly grew So did the anticipation God found ways to help prepare me With the nine months of pregnancy Those months were all that they should have been And plenty more Finally the day was here No stalling anymore There is no better feeling than The sound of your babyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first cry It is pure heaven, happiness and joy! Along with a binding tie that can never be destroyed. Your first breath Turned a little girl into a mother in an instant The first time I held you gave perfect understanding and meaning to all the wisdom passed From one generation of moms to the next Of course, all that was made easy By the perfectly wrapped beautiful gift of a my newly born baby Thinking back to those innocent timesâ&#x20AC;Ś I may have lost my bet from days long ago However, I won the best and greatest prize of all

Fey Bridge – by r. j. paré

Selected Poetry by Stephen Campbell In Northern Ireland we have a new peace, some would say a lasting peace, but there are many obstacles on the path to peace here cutting through communities like a river cuts through the landscape. In the North the land is split into two by the river Bann which cuts through the province dividing it into East and West. This split is also pronounced politically as here we had the phrase “west of the Bann” which was used to describe the generally poorer, more Catholic / Nationalist counties in western Northern Ireland, whilst the Protestant / Unionist industrial hinterland in the east was where most of the wealth and investment in the state generally was seen to be spent. These distinctions have slowly eroded over time and in recent years a new bridge was built across the Bann, at the town of Toome, to ease traffic congestion between East and West. Now that the troubles are over and we have a new power-sharing democracy in Northern Ireland I came to see this bridge as a symbol of the new attempt to create peace in the province, seeing the bridge as a representation of our new parliament at Stormont and its potential to smooth over our cultural and religious differences. However when I wrote Toome Bridge there were still many obstacles on the path to peace and the optimistic poem that I should have written heralding in a great peace seems over cautious and cynical. We have had agreements and attempts to share power in the past and they have all failed, but on some occasions it is a great thing to be proven wrong as our peace today, rather than rusting away into nothing, has held, taken root, and blossomed. So when you read this poem take heart that no matter how deep and certain some divisions may seem, courses can be changed or built over, and in our generation of change there are some success stories.

Toome Bridge Passing Toome, the bus rushes over This new bridge. Metal rivets hold together The link that meets over the Bann waters, The steel, suspended, hints at forever. Raised ropes helped raise this bridge From the depths. A congested nation, Irelands traffic is eased, only rid, By a mutually sanctioned creation. Waters crash against its girders, It holds, reluctant to fall into foam, Yet it rusts slowly and is picked apart, surely Lasting monuments have been hewn from stone?

Yeats Epitaph I write to imitate my friend, To make a verse of wonder suit, To complement and never end The work of Yeats. He gave me fruit. His death made room for ranks to grow, Although now dead he never sleeps, His faithful poets have followed; The fruit he gave produced a seed.


Wetland Dreams â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by r. j. parĂŠ

Paré’s Poetic Perspectives by r. j. paré Equine Smiles The pungent aroma is the first thing you'll notice.

Open gates and enter at a fine trot paddock space.

Farrier stalls await saddle and bit leather tack.

Cantor, rail, turns and jumps the tandem play performance.

Quarter-horse and pony both stomp eager for release.

Rider, steed - posting in sync nostrils flaring equine smiles.

Steed Sketch Yore – by r. j. paré

Untitled â&#x20AC;&#x201C; by Lisa Marie Mueller

pop culture Movie Review by C. S. Cartier Somewhere in the strands of time was lost the idea that television was simply a quick escape from life to relieve stress and to simply have a couple hours of fun. People, in my opinion, either watch way too much of it and are slowly becoming a “boob tube” themselves or they watch how other people live their lives instead of living there own. Don’t get me wrong, it is cheap entertainment (relatively) and I myself am a fan of several shows and movies and genres. I will be the first one to rip a movie, or actor or director if I did not get my money’s worth; or worst yet, if I was moved in the wrong direction and that of course is away from fun. Chances are, you have seen ‘Titanic’, ‘Spiderman’, or even ‘Forest Gump’. And that is all find and good, but as we are getting older I have discovered that we as a people are getting way too picky in what we want. Yes, movies and television is all about the big bucks. I just want to know, whatever happened to just having fun? So, I thought I would play a game. Ten worst movies of all times… according to Budget and Box Office draw. I personally think these numbers do not really mean anything because DVD’s are big business as is Pay per View Satellite and Cable. Let me know if you enjoyed any one of these, I bet you have ( One of these is actually in my top ten favorites.

1. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) Director: Ron Underwood Writer: Neil Cuthbert Starring: Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson Budget: $100 million Box Office: $4.4 million Total Loss: $95.6 million

OUCH!!! I personally have never seen this movie; I do know that funny man Murphy was paid 20 million bucks for this film. Critics did hate this one calling it “careless”, “unfocused”, and “cosmic slop”. Eddie was certainly laughing all the way to the bank, though.

2. Town & Country (2001) Director: Peter Chelsom Writer: Michael Laughlin, Buck Henry Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling Budget: $90 million Box Office: $6.7 million Total Loss: $83.3 million

This one was Warren Beatty’s latest film and according to IMDB he is not working on any right now. Famed for roles in movies like “Bugsy” in 91, “Dick Tracy” in 1990, and most notably for his Oscar for Best Director in “Red” in 1981; Beatty is an actor, director, and producer and also rumored to be the reason this movie’s release date was not only delayed 12 times but had expensive and costly re-shoots. Hollywood most definitely will remember this movie to be the second biggest financial loss. I do not like Beatty that much, so I never did see this one. If I ever do see this, it will be for Keaton and Hawn.

3. The Postman (1997) Director: Kevin Costner Writer: David Brin, Eric Roth, Brian Helgeland Starring: Kevin Costner, Will Patton, (and believe it or not Tom Petty) Budget: $80 million Box Office: $18 million Total Loss: $62 million

The good news is that this movie won and was nominated for a bunch of awards, bad news… it was a Razzie Award for Worst Actor, Worst Director, Worst Original Son, Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay. And like other Costner movies this one is also a long one, running for 177 minutes. In life, there are always good and bad sides to everything. The good news is, I did not ever see this movie; and the bad news is I did purchase a DVD of it. I have a ton of movies that I bought and never watched. I’ve wasted money on stupider things. (To be fair Dancing with Wolves was a great movie, that is the only reason I did buy it.)

4. Cutthroat Island (1995) Director: Renny Harlin Writer: Michael Frost Beckner, James Gorman Starring: Geena Davis, Matthew Modine, Frank Langella Budget: $70 million Box Office: $11 million Total Loss: $59 million I have not seen this movie, but I would. I love Geena Davis and I also like Modine. Let’s face it, this movie would not be the “Pirates of the Caribbean” but I would not expect it to be. I would have a problem with a female pirate but pirate ships fighting never gets old. Researching this movie forced me to change my mind as there are a lot of Goofs in the two hour four minute film. The director took not care in any details. After the two battleships fire many broadsides at each other (some hitting), there is apparently no visible damage when they are boarding. That kind of stuff just ruins movies for me.

5. Hudson Hawk (1991) Director: Michael Lehmann Writer: Bruce Willis, Robert Kraft Starring: Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, James Coburn

Budget: $70 million Box Office: $17 million Total Loss: $53 million I own this movie, I love this movie. I have seen this movie probably fifty times. Critics hated it, but it is simply fun and have a good time watching it. This movie also has Sandra Bernhard, and a very young David Caruso. I remember Willis talking about this movie saying that he was embarrassed by making it. I was so upset… damn that means he will not be making a sequel. Sure… why not… Stallone came back and did yet another Rambo. If anyone should be embarrassed…

6. Gigli (1991) Director: Martin Brest Writer: Martin Brest Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken Budget: $54 million Box Office: $5.7 million Total Loss: $48.3 million

This movie was way back when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were the over media-sized Bennifer relationship. Gawd am I feeling old! I did see this movie but it was soooo good, I remember absolutely nothing about it. The reason I did see it, is my favorite actor is in it. Christopher Walken is the best! I would see it again, but only for him again.

7. Ishtar (1987) Director: Elaine May Writer: Elaine May Starring: Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Charles Grodin, Isabelle Adjani Budget: $51 million Box Office: $14.4 million Total Loss: $ 36.6 million

This movie did not get bad reviews, and was all in all not that bad. Ishtar actually spent one week at number one but still it was a Sunday night movie at best. The movie simply had not appeal to the general public.

8. Howard The Duck (1986) Director: Willard Huyck Writer: Steve Gerber, Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz Starring: Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins Budget: $35 million Box Office: $16.3 million Total Loss: $28.7 million

Howard the Duck was a great a awesome movie. It is a hate it or love it film. I can think of one other that absolutely loves it. Executive producer George Lucas was a part of this lame file and I bet that kids nowadays would love it. I think it was before its time.

9. Battlefield Earth (2000) Director: Roger Christian Writer: Corey Mandell, JD Shapiro, L Ron Hubbard Starring: John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates Budget: $41 million Box Office: $21.5 million Total Loss: $22.5 million

I went to see the movie as I am a Sci-fi Addict. It was alright but did not really hold my interest as a fan or the art. Bad reviews kill the movie as did the bad makeup.

10. Zyzzyx Rd. (2006) Director: John Penney Writer: John Penney Starring: Katherine Heigl, Tom Sizemore, Leo Grillo Budget: $2 million Box Office: $30 Total Loss: $1,999,970

Did you hear of this one? I did not. There was no official opening weekend and holds the record (Guinness World Record of course) for Lowest Grossing Film of All Time. I do not have a typo. Thirty bucks was all it made. No Joke. The movie ran for six days at the Highland Village Park Theater in Texas. It pulled in $30.00. The film is still waiting for global release. I would love to know if anyone has a) heard of it and b) has seen it.

Popcorn films are a dying breed, but if you are lucky you can catch a good junk food film, sit back and enjoy TV the way it was intended to be watched. Or you can be like the countless millions an actually give a damn who survives on the damn island or even the musical series which somehow finds it way in the Top 100 with covers of great songs that are simply poor rip offs. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m glad I do not watch television any more.

Author Interview: Steve Thomason by Brad Bellmore Steve Thomason is a freelance artist and writer. His first novel, Pleroma was recently released. It is the first book in a sci-fi/fantasy series called The Nectar Trilogy. Brad Bellmore took the opportunity to ask Thomason about his book. RKYV: Tell us a little about Pleroma. Steve Thomason: Pleroma is Book One in the Nectar Trilogy. It is the story of a high school junior named Lane. He and his little brother, Josh, have been living in fear of his alcoholic father ever since their mother died in a car crash 7 years earlier. One day Lane got into an exceptionally violent fight with his dad and hid himself under the bed in fear of his life. While under the bed he falls into another world.

In this world Lane is a giant and the Deltonian people believe he is the Pleroma, fulfilling the prophecy that a giant would fall from the sky and deliver their tribe from the oppression of a neighboring tribe called the Altanians. For the past generation the Altanians have conquered and oppressed all the tribes under the leadership of another giant that they call the Bellator. Each year the Altanians hold a festival and allow one champion from each conquered tribe to face the Bellator in a battle to the death. If they defeat him, they win their freedom. Each year the tribes try, and each year another warrior is mutilated in a bloody display of power. Throughout the story, Lane is convinced that this world is a figment of his imagination. He believes that he is actually in a coma, lying in a hospital room, and his subconscious is trying to lead him to wake up. He realizes that he must play out the fantasy, face his fears, and defeat the enemy in order to wake up, get home, and protect his little brother from his violent father. In the end, Lane makes some discoveries that surprise him. The story takes some fun twists and turns, has a good balance of action and character development, and keeps you guessing to the end. RKYV: What is the bigger story arc? What is the overall Nectar Trilogy about? ST: Ultimately, the Nectar Trilogy has two arcs. The surface arc, and the underlying theme. At the surface, this is a science fiction story in which Lane Gray discovers that there are multiple realities coexisting in the universe. When these realities intersect, portals open and allow passage between them. By the end of the third story, we discover that one race of beings, made of pure energy, existing in a plane of reality with no matter, innocently discover other realities and begin to explore them.

Their exploration, however, wreaks havoc on the eco systems of the other realities. Lane and his family find themselves in the focal point of this devastation and have to find a way to restore balance to these realities before everything is destroyed. Throughout the adventure we see how entire religious systems can be constructed around the misinterpretation of observable, but indefinable phenomenon. The misinterpretation of these events can lead to hatred, war, and unnecessary violence, and the manipulation of power to subject others to feed the needs of selfish desire. At the heart of this trilogy, however, is the story of a boy and his father whose relationship has been severed by fear, anger, and alcoholism. It is a story of redemption from addiction and the reconciliation of a broken family. RKYV: Where did the idea for this story first come from? ST: Originally, this story sparked in college as I was daydreaming about the possibility of other planes of reality. Of course, I knew this idea had been done many times and in many ways, but I wanted to explore it for myself. The problem was that I was not a scientist and didn't think I could pull off telling the story in a believable way. RKYV: Where did the idea for these characters come from? ST: When the story first germinated in my imagination I was too immature to write it. Plus, I was intimidated by it. So, I let it sit and simmer over the years. Over the course of the years two important things happened to me. First, I was involved in ministry in which I interacted with a great deal of families in crisis. I was exposed to many young people who had tragic stories of pain and suffering. That really affected me. Second, I had children of my own. Four children, actually. Over the course of the past 15 years, I would tell this story to them, and each time I told it, the story would grow and morph. Each of them added their own twist to it. Essentially, this is our story--my wife, mine, and my kids. The characters evolved from the needs of the plot. I wanted a main character that I could identify with at some level. Otherwise, I knew I couldn't write his story. Jetthro and Gustov are the two voices that each of us hear as we face difficult circumstances in our lives. Gustov is the perpetual optimist, always giving inspiring speeches and urging us to move forward. Jethro is the skeptic, the pessimist, the one who is convinced that the situation is beyond hope. Yet, he is dragged through the motions and ends up being the rock in the end. By the time I started writing I realized that this wasn't really about the science fiction after all. This was a story about a family and the characters within it. I didn't have to be a science expert after all. I just needed to write a story about real people. RKYV: Do you find anything of yourself in these stories? These characters? ST: I find myself in all of the characters. Since this is my first fiction, I feel like this whole trilogy is just an exploration of my personality and my imagination. While I have never suffered like Lane has (the truth is that I grew up in a very safe and loving home) I identify with his sense of not really fitting in with his peers. I definitely tapped into my own psyche to create Lane. The other characters are just manifestations of the different voices and fascinations I have in my head. I've always joked that my mind is never in the same place as my body. In one sense, that's what this whole story is all about. On another level, since I am a theologian of sorts, this story is a vehicle for me to explore some theological ideas that otherwise are difficult to discuss within the confines of my culture.

RKYV: How far are you in the trilogy? How soon can we expect the next book? ST: I am currently half way through writing the second book. I wrote the first half last summer and plan to finish writing it this summer. If all goes well, I could have it finished by the end of the year, or in the spring of 2011 at the latest. RKYV: How much of the story did you have in place before you started writing? ST: I came into the writing process with a basic skeleton. I knew generally where I wanted to go, definitely where I wanted to end up, but I really didn't know how I was going to get from point A to point B. RKYV: Why fantasy? Did the story evolve as fantasy? Or did you choose to write a fantasy story and then discover this particular story? ST: I'm not sure if this is true fantasy or science fiction? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s both, I suppose. Either way, I definitely chose this genre because here there are no rules. When you want to explore new ideas, it is much easier to do it when you don't have to worry about believability. It's a different world, right? Why couldn't that happen? RKYV: What do you do when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not writing? ST: Ha! Too much. I currently have two jobs. I own my own freelance illustration studio--Spot Studios, Inc. Freelance is a feast and famine business, so sometimes I have more work than I can handle and other times I wonder how I'm going to pay the mortgage. Recently, I took a part-time (20-25 hours/week) at a local church as the Director of Spiritual Formation. RKYV: Has your other writing influenced/informed your fiction? How so? ST: Absolutely. My other writing is in the field of Spiritual Formation, Biblical Studies, and Theology. These fields ignite my imagination, which fuels my fiction. To me, they are simply two branches from the same creative spirit of God working in and through me. RKYV: Tell us a bit about the other writing you do. ST: Throughout my life I have served as a pastor/teacher in different capacities; sometimes fulltime, sometimes part time. I have developed curriculum for adults in the local church and have taught Bible and Theology at the undergraduate level. You can see this work at . RKYV: How has your visual art influenced your writing? ST: As an artist I am a visual thinker. I see in pictures. I think the ability to visualize the "movie" in my head while writing has helped me to create good descriptive passages.

RKYV: How has your writing influenced your art? ST: That's a good question. I think the simple process of cultivating imagination in different parts of your brain simply enriches all the other aspects of the creative process. I hate getting stuck in a rut. By having the ability to toggle back and forth between writing fiction, writing nonfiction, and creating visual art, it keeps me very nimble. RKYV: What is your writing process like? ST: First, I make a commitment that I will write 5 days a week for the entire summer. I can only write when the kids are out of school because during the school year I spend my early morning helping them get ready and off to school. In the summer they sleep in and I have a few golden hours of silence. Next, I set a daily word count goal of 1500 words. Then, I just settle down into the zone and start writing. Sometimes it takes a little while to get into the zone, but once I get there the story starts telling itself to me. I pretend like I'm watching the movie and I just dictate what I'm seeing. When I come up for air I check my word count, and if I reached the goal, then I'm done. If not, I write some more. After that, I go for a walk and visualize what I've just written. In the process I see the next section come into focus. Then I go to work, do my normal life things, and go to bed with the scene in my mind. The next morning I am ready to write. My wife reads it and edits for spelling and grammar as I go along, which is a really nice bonus when I'm ready to come back and edit. While I'm writing, though, I don't edit or worry about being any good during this phase. I just want to get it down and out of my head. Once the summer is over, then I find time during the fall to put on my editorial lenses and shred the manuscript for structure and grammar. After that, I send the manuscript to a few editors and let them tear it apart. RKYV: How did you get connected with your publisher? ST: I'm currently self-publishing. In the flattening world I discovered that I could produce a quality book myself and distribute it through Amazon. I'm using a Print on Demand resource, so the overhead is almost nothing for printing. I am still going to pursue the traditional publishing route as well. More and more publishers are looking for good self-published books as potential new properties to acquire. I figure I'll try to build a small readership with my limited resources, and then pass it off to the big guys if and when they ever bite. RKYV: Where did you go to school? Did you study art or writing? ST: I received a B.A. in Art from Wheaton College in 1990. That was primarily classical art training. I custom tailored my independent studies to focus on animation. In 2002 I earned a Masters of Divinity from Bethel Theological Seminary. I have never studied writing in a formal way outside of standard English classes. I just love to read.

RKYV: Who/what are your influences? ST: I'm afraid I'm not too original in this department. I read the Chronicles of Narnia in fourth and fifth grade and then read C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy. That same year I saw Star Wars. Between Narnia and Star Wars, I was hooked on dreaming about new worlds. Over the years I have matured and grown up with C.S. Lewis as I devoured most of his theological and philosophical writings as well. I have to admit that I am a Lewis junkie. Other fiction writers I enjoy: L'Engle, Stephen R. Lawhead, Tolkien, Gaiman. Theological Authors: Francis Schaeffer, Brian McLaren, Stanley Grenz, Dallas Willard, RKYV: What inspires you? ST: Ideas. I love to think of things in new ways. I also love to learn. RKYV: Do you use your creative process for self discovery? ST: I think these are inseparable. The more we explore new creative pathways, the more we discover how we function and process the world around us. RKYV: What are you reading right now? ST: I just finished a fun little book by Neil Gaiman and Micheal Reeves called Interworld. I am also reading Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell. RKYV: Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next? Are there any plans for other projects besides Nectar? After Nectar? ST: I have a few other novels in my head. One is pure science fiction, dealing with a possible explanation for autism. Another one is a sci-fi thriller with a theological spin, dealing with unlocking the pineal gland and entering into the spirit world. Another one is a modern retelling of the story of the Old Testament story of Job. Those will keep me busy for the next decade! RKYV: How can we find your Pleroma? ST: Amazon Kindle Edition Barnes and Noble Since it is on these sites, you can find it on hundreds of online retailers.

Comic Book Review By Brad Bellmore DV8

Thumb mostly up Wildstorm Productions released a new DV8 miniseries, God’s and Monsters, written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs. The story is that of a group of eight super powered agents that are dropped on a primitive world. Because they have super powers, they are seen as gods by the people the come in contact with. How they use and abuse that power and the circumstances provides the drama for this eight issue series. The art is standard superhero fare. Nothing too exciting but it does the job well and has a nice look to it. Isaacs is obviously a talented artist and that shows. She is quite good with faces, particularly portraying emotion and perhaps that will play out stronger as the series continues. This is a tale as dependent on the emotion of the characters as it is the action to carry the drama, so I expect that to shine through. Overall, I didn’t think the art did much to propel the story. At times I found the storytelling difficult to follow. The story mostly follows a group of characters but is narrated by another who has her information second hand as she was not with them. Her narration fluctuates between telling the story and conversing with an unseen interrogator. Unfortunately, those transitions aren’t always clear. I found myself rereading caption boxes to understand what was just said. Of course, in the set up of the story, I suppose that the dialogue is part of the narration. It gets confusing though and hurts the flow of the story. On the whole, I enjoyed the book. I love the main concept of those with powers being elevated to the place of being gods. It goes back to the old saying about the corruption of power. My guess is that given the opportunity, those with powers would become kings or gods whenever they can. Look at what happens to professional athletes and they aren’t impervious or able to fly. This promises to be look into that dark side of humanity, even if it’s upper powered humanity. This is a truly intriguing story. I hope this continues to live up to its promise.

Lackluster World

Thumb mostly up Lackluster World is an independent comic series written and drawn by Eric Adams. It is published by Generation Eric Publishing and is available at their online store at I discovered this series at the S.P.A.C.E. convention last month and is one of my more enjoyable finds from the event. In fact, it is the discovery of books like this that make the trip to conventions worth the time. This is the story of Fahrenheit Monahan, a man disillusioned with the world and has ventured deep into the cynicism that engenders. His lack of happiness perplexes his coworker, Cog and greatly disturbs his brother, Kelvin and sister, Celsius. We meet Fahrenheit at the point of discovery that everyone is so lacking in vitality of life that we are essentially zombies. He is out to change the world, wanting people to question why they aren’t truly living. Cog is closer to his way of thinking than he realizes because they are often at odds, mostly because they don’t fit smoothly into each others’ worlds. Kelvin and Celsius are trying desperately to squeeze their brother into their religion, certain that will fix everything for him, them and the entire world. This story is an awesome social commentary. Adams comes out and challenges us directly with the idea that if death is the point we stopped living then we are a bunch of dead people walking around. Why do we lack true life? Adams offers some ideas on that, some of which I agree with and some I don’t. To discover what they might be, you will have to read the book. I love the question he poses: Where were you the day you died?

Conceptually, this is one of the strongest story ideas I’ve read. The dialogue gets a little overbearing at times. All in all, the “preaching” reminds me of Fight Club, so it fits the story. The symbolism that keeps popping up is intriguing. I’m not fully sure as to why the main characters are all named after temperature scales, but I think it has to do with their ability to judge/measure society or each other. The art in this book is what you might expect to find in the comics page of your local paper. It is a great look and it lends itself to telling this tale. I don’t think that the irony, cynicism or sarcasm of this story would shine through as well if the look were different. There is a film noir feel to the pages and that darkness carries the story’s darkness. After all, despite everyone’s concern about Fahrenheit’s happiness, this is not a happy tale. Adams adds a lot of great details. There a many subtle jokes, a few that I missed in my first reading. My favorite is the note on Fahrenheit’s hat at his birthday party which shows us that he endures the celebration as if it were his own crucifixion. I’ve only read the first of the six issues, but from what I’ve read so far this is worth pursuing further. Granted, because of the content and emotional darkness, this may not be for everyone. Some may even be offended by Adams’ analysis as to why we all are zombies. But, with that being the case, Adams is much like Fahrenheit: is he a visionary or a vandal? You have to read to find out.

Eric Adams – creator, artist, writer – Lackluster World

Raised on Saturday Morning Cartoons by Pauline Paré

When Ron Howard’s 1989 film, “Parenthood” was released I enjoyed it at the theatre with friends. It was a funny and sentimental film with enjoyable characters and a lot of heart. One thing about film is the difficulty of fleshing out all the characters in a large cast in about 2 hours. I am not a huge fan of family dramas. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I watched a weekly family drama on a regular basis. I only tried the show because it happened to premiere in a slow week in January. The first episode was intriguing, the second, wonderful. After half a season, I feel like part of the Braverman Family. The characters are fleshed out and defy stereotypes. The writing and pacing are superb.

“Parenthood” is actually the second attempt at turning the movie into a television show. The first attempt was in 1990, shortly following the success of the original movie.

The show lasted only 12 episodes despite a stellar cast. Twenty years later seems to be the right time to try again. The family name has changed but many of the dynamics of the film are intact. The cast of the 2010 version is still stellar. The pivotal roles of the Braverman family heads go to Craig T. Nelson (“Coach”) and Bonnie Bedelia (“Die Hard”). Lauren Graham (“Gilmore Girls”) and Erika Christensen (“Swimfan”) join a cast of very talented actors. The Bravermans have 4 grown children, each with their own families and their own set of unique challenges. 1. There is Adam Braverman who tries to take on all the problems of his family while dealing with the challenges of raising a child with Asperger’s syndrome. 2. Sarah Braverman is a single mom with two teenagers who has to start all over after a bad marriage fails. 3. Julia Braverman-Graham is a successful lawyer with a stay at home husband and a little girl. She is proud of her success but she struggles with the amount of time it allows her to spend with her family. 4. Crosby Braverman just found out that he has a 5-year-old son. He was enjoying a life of few responsibilities but now realizes that he would not trade his new family life for anything.

This ensemble cast works very well together and the storylines are always fresh and fun. There is a little comedy involved but most episodes just pull at your heartstrings. Ron Howard is the Executive Producer and the quality of this show is quite evident. This one is a keeper and it was thankfully renewed for a second season. Next month I will be checking out some new and old summer shows, guaranteeing us that we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to give up our roles as couch potatoes in the coming months!


Featured Artist of the Month - Jon Biermann Cover Art: Jon Biermann; Design: David Marshall Final installment of the short fiction piece "...


Featured Artist of the Month - Jon Biermann Cover Art: Jon Biermann; Design: David Marshall Final installment of the short fiction piece "...