AFTER Update!

Been a while since I’ve doled out new information on AFTER, Memetic Press’ foray into the comic book world.  Issue Two has been a long-running and ongoing process, due in part of the hectic and shoestring nature of indy comic book production, but mostly due to my own anal-retentive insistence on perfection.  I can’t go into the EXACT nature of Issue Two’s upcoming visual look, but I can say that it’s unique and groundbreaking.  And that it will be well worth the wait.

In the meantime, those looking for more AFTER teasers can check out the info page we’ve attached at the top tab here… A few canon-based bits of information that provide some back story, complete with illustration.  The apocalypse, my friends, will not be pretty.

While all that is going on, I have a podcast to recommend.  A very friendly dude named Doc (coincidentally enough) hosts a show called Heroes Of Science Fiction And Fantasy.  Excellent review show for all things geek-like, and the guy manages to score some kick-ass interviews.  Highly recommended for people interested in both the fan and creative side of production.

Of course, I bring this up right at THIS moment because his latest episode features an interview with yours truly.  I found Doc on the floor at WonderCon earlier this year, and told him all about AFTER.  For anyone unfamiliar with the book, listening to me ramble on about it is actually a pretty good place to start.  You can listen to the latest show here:

PARIS ‘REV’ BATTLE INTERVIEWED AT WONDERCON

But I do advise hooking up to his main page and finding the backlog, because Doc’s shows are damned interesting.

More to come soon enough, folks.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

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Humans, Animals, And Getting S!*t-Faced

Once, I thought evolution had been kindest to man.  I felt that in the panopoly of critterdom, great and small, that winners abounded, of course.  The male flatworm, for instance, has a sexual organ with poison spikes that help it catch prey, meaning its dick is also a super-power.  And that is fucking sweet.

But still, humankind was top dog, so far as I was concerned.  And then, without warning, rising from the jungles of Malaysia, came a creature whose evolutionary good fortune would shake my faith in a way that even a weaponized phallus cannot.

Meet the pen-tailed tree shrew.  This lucky little fucker chills in the jungle treetops and lives on a diet that consists of the alcoholic equivalent of ONE HUNDRED PERCENT BEER.  A trailer full of these sons of bitches could clear half a NASCAR parking lot and laugh at anyone who said they’d had enough.  If any one of them ever got morose enough to drink himself to death, he’d fail at that too.

IF CAGE WERE A TREE SHREW, LEAVING LAS VEGAS WOULD HAVE BEEN EVEN LONGER

Some people with whom I shared this article pointed out a potential downside in that these creatures never seem to get drunk, as evidenced by their name not being the “falls-out-of-tree” shrew.  And then there’s this statement by a lead researcher on these climbing miracles: “They seem to have developed some type of mechanism to deal with that high level of alcohol and not get drunk.”  I submit that if these scientists just knew a few more alcoholics, they’d realize that appearing to be eerily sober at all times is actually a side effect of being hammered every day.

So essentially what they’ve discovered is the world’s first community of functioning lushes.  The number of after-hours bars willing to lie on the phone for their patrons must be staggering in the tree shrew community.

Before we go any further, and on a completely unrelated note, I’d like to announce the new and official Memetic Press mascot:

HIS NAME IS “BOOYA”

But here comes the best part:  “The discovery is particularly intriguing because the tree shrew is believed to be very similar to the last common ancestor of all living primates. The researchers hypothesize that this ancestor may have consumed alcohol at moderate or high levels, which could explain why humans have some tolerance for alcohol.”

So for those of you wondering why a twelve-year scotch just taste so fucking awesome, even on a Tuesday morning before work, it could well be because your tree-scrabbling ancestor was a monumentally more gifted drinker than you could ever hope to be.  See, you even fail at that.  Go have another sip.

What’s even MORE interesting is when you combine this bit of information with the knowledge that one of the first places where people settled got the honor because they could brew beer there, you realize something.  You realize that alcohol, in one form or another, has been present at TWO major shifts in our evolutionary history.  One in an ancient species, and one when we went from hunter-gatherers to farmers.  Heap on that that alcohol is present in and around virtually every culture and personage of greatness that history bothers to record.  What sort of force could reside in such a substance?  What forms of divinity are to be found in this liquid miracle known as booze?

Then I remembered they still use this stuff in a lot of churches.  Even the ancients knew.

BEHOLD YOUR GODS!

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

And Now For Something Completely Stupid

As something of a break from the norm around here at Memetic Press, I’ve decided to shine a small light onto the antics that can occassionally erupt around my personal life.  As was referenced in an earlier post, late last month I attended a wedding, whose reception turned into an exercise in seeing who among my oldest and dearest friends could still put down the liquor and keep the party going.  In short summary: More than you’d think, and you 20-something bitches ain’t got shit on the Reagan Babies.

Following this episode, a fevered exchange took place as certain parties attempted to piece together what happened roughly from the time we all made it to the open bar.  Taking place on a Facebook thread, the details of that epic night have been kept from public view… until now.  I now present that thread, edited for length and given a few visual references, for your reading enjoyment.

I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty, but must first introduce the characters by their fabricated nom de guerre’s:

DIESEL-The groom.  Friend of mine since high school, known him for fifteen years.  Currently works a tech job for a MAJOR American bank.

REV-This is me, for brevity’s sake.

NATE DOG-Another high school-era friend, perpetually hammered, currently pursuing his Master’s degree in bullshit from Western Carolina.  Usually you can’t take this fucker ANYWHERE there’s alcohol unless you plan on getting kicked out in advance.  To give you a frame of reference, for this blog entry he actually requested he be referred to as “Nate Dogg”… and followed it up by saying “I’m bout to make some bodies turn cold, 16 in the clip and 1 n the hole.”  By the way, I’m perserving all original spelling for this debacle.

MH-High school-era female friend, highly social, very sweet.  Currently possesses a larger Facebook photo album than should be allowed by law.

JTX-Homie, co-pilot, my surrogate brother-in-arms.  Currently a journalist for a MAJOR news organization.  He insisted that his name be withheld in case tales of his antics soiled the pristine reputation of American journalism.

C-JIZZLE-Another high-school buddy, who remained strangely silent until JTX started talking about his love life.  Of course, that’s always worth a snide comment or two.

AH-MH’s little sister, who currently lives in Hawaii, a fact for which I hate her with an envious burning to the depths of my soul.

Everyone got all that?  Okay, here’s how it went down….

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NATE DOGG:
Hey had a question for ya’ll? Actually a couple.

1. Does anyone know what happened to my jacket Sat nite?
2. Does anyone remember the last half of Bad Dogs [Local bar where the reception afterparty occurred]? I don’t – BLACKOUT!!!
3. Did we close Bad Dogs down?
4. I can’t remember any drinks I had off of a ridicilous bar tab? If someone can name me just 1, I’ll buy ’em one next time I see ya!
5. Did I run into other people I knew? It seems I did, but again BLACKOUT!!
If anyone can help me remember these things, that would be outstanding! Had a blast!

Diesel & [BRIDE] Congrats again!
Also if I made a jackass of myself, it ain’t the 1st and won’t be the last, but sorry if I did. See ya’ll soon

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
MH:
Here is all i have!

1. NO idea, but I do know that another friend of ours, JD, was looking for his jacket that he left in the ballroom on Sunday when I was leaving.
2. Mmmmm not so much. I remember flashes, but NO idea what time i left.
3. I don’t think I did, but…. I was definitely not the last one to leave.
4. I remember you stopping me to take a shot — it was red — red headed slut maybe… definitely a poor life choice!
5. Thank the LORD i don’t remember seeing anyone i wasn’t supposed to be around

dude…. one of the best nights ever!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
JTX:

1. I remember telling you to fuck your jacket that you kept whining about
2. I vaguely remembering promising to get some greek pizza boy a job after everyone we knew had left
3. Yes. You, Rev and I closed it down
4. You think your bar tab was ridiculous? Beat 400 bucks.
5. No idea.
I have an awesome souvenir from the night. A broken rib! Yay me! (Don’t fall down in Rev’s driveway. Rocks hurt)

A major blast was had by all!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

REV:

Okay okay, I’ll weigh in… here are the only things I can contribute…

1. After careful examination of the facts at hand, I fear, Nate Dogg, that your jacket is a casualty of war. Considering JTX gets a Purple Heart for his rib, I think you got off lucky. However, you might wanna get a chest X-Ray, cause whatever you’ve got in your lungs that had you hacking all night kept my room mates up.
2. The last half? Yes, fairly clearly. But that’s only because I passed out on a park bench next to the lake for nearly an hour and was only woken up by a spritzing of rain. Or maybe it was duck piss, I didn’t want to examine it too closely.

THE BENCH

3. Again yes, JTX is right. Though I think my little power nap contributed greatly to my ability to close the bar AND drive your drunk asses home.
4. The only thing I recall drinking at Bad Dogs was a Jager bomb JTX handed me. Of course, my clearest recollections are during my sobering period when I wasn’t drinking, so that knowledge is now known but to God and the bartender.
5. I don’t recall, but Nate Dogg if you’re worried about how big an ass you made of yourself, I have to say you were remarkably well behaved. This time.

Congratulations again (from me) to the happy couple.  Now Diesel, go get that woman with child, as god intended.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NATE DOGG:

Thanks for the help, I worry when I can’t remember, oh like 4 hours of my life. And yes jacket is caualty of war, although I don’t have a broken rib so I’ll take it. (bummer, but don’t remember and I thought rocks can’t hurt you if your drunk?!!).
Glad to see we closed it down, us Rowan Co. peeps can still do it right, even if it hurts like hell for the next two days! Guess I owe some of ya’ll a drink and JTX I thought I was bad because I hit the century mark, WOW!! That’s 500 worth of alcohol and not counting everyone else, no wonder we don’t remember shit!!! thanks for helping w/ the memory loss, vagueness of walk around lake, ride home, JTX falling, or me hacking up a lung, guess I’m getting old. Again had a blast, we need to do this more often, other than weddings, hell there ain’t that many of us left!! And JTX I think the Greek pizza boy had to have been Leo, used to lifeguard for me, good shit.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DIESEL: (ON HIS HONEYMOON WHEN HE WROTE THIS)

Well, we are in San Juan for a five hour lay over and people are looking at me because I am near tears reading this I am laughing so hard. Thanks for coming out!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

REV:

Hey, anyone object if I put the content of this thread up on memeticpress.com? Seriously, it’s hard to write comedy this good. I’ll hide everyone’s identity but my own.

Sound off or I’ll assume the answer’s yes.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NATE DOGG:

Oh hell yeah put it up!! Actually I want credit for this shit, I didn’t loose my jacket and my liver for a good night of comedy, I lost it for a good night of drinking and hanging w/ friends!!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JTX:

Yeah, you can put it on your blog, but keep the i.d.’s hidden please. I don’t need work knowing how I broke my rib. I still haven’t gone to the doctor for it. It started getting better then I made the mistake of getting drunk with my girlfriend…and one thing led to another….and now my rib hurts again. Well, maybe that wasn’t a mistake. What was probably a mistake was telling my boss why I was holding my side again. It’s her fault for asking, if you ask me. Ask a stupid question, get an inappropriate answer.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DIESEL:

Dude, this isn’t the same chick is it?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JTX:

No way in hell. Totally different crazy chick. Just kidding. She’s really cool.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

C-JIZZLE:

You’re dropping the “girlfriend” title after two weeks? Or were you seeing her a little bit before Diesel’s wedding?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JTX:

C-Jizzle- I was trying to be polite to the females in this conversation. You can call her my fuck buddy if it makes you feel better.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NATE DOGG:

Ok but my name has to be Nate Dogg and I’m bout to make some bodies turn cold, 16 in the clip and 1 n the hole [I told you]. Anywho this is the funniest shit i’ve read since that 20Q w/ meg ryan. not really a joke there, just figured what the hell, to drunk to come up w/ anything else.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DIESEL:

Dude, Nate Dogg, your liver should be put up in the Smithsonian.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JTX:

Nate Dogg. It’s “too drunk” not “to drunk.” You no English speakin’ motha fucka.  Don’t worry, I wouldn’t expect any better from someone who was filling out multiple-choice worksheets at Western while we were writing ten page papers.  God, I’m an elitist ass.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

C-JIZZLE:

Nate Dogg, if JTX is giving you shit for your English, just ask him to do some math for you. 🙂

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NATE DOGG:

Or I could ask him how his rib is doing? And really? didn’t know I had to spell/gramar check my drunk facebook posts and yes you are an elitist ass, your just not an elitist. Oh and Diesel when i do dye, please ya’lls makes sure my liver does get in the Smithsonian or Ripliey’s Believe It or Not, either or both; and no I really don’t care how ya do it.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DIESEL:

The more I think about it, the only bad thing that happened the entire night were the high fives from random people when we got to the bar. Who the hell high fives any more? In or out of a sporting venue.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

MH:

I agree… I hate people with high five habits! with that said, i do not remember, but i am pretty sure i would have given a high five to either or both on you that night! Wedding celebrations, friends intown or good silver strike scores… multiple reasons for me to celebrate that night! I wish more of you could have experienced AH convincing Nate Dogg to swim across the lake… “you won’t” it works every time… we already had his jacket off!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

AH:

I did,….. and he almost ….(if only some half way sober person wouldn’t have saved him). Who invites sober people to weddings?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NATE DOGG:

Thanks for filling in blanks, sort of! When I think back I have a fuzzy memory of actually thinking about jumping in but then listening to reason and thinking it was to shallow?! And it would have been disgusting, Hooray, for goose/duck shit! Nice try though to all, next time I’ll wear my speedo (kidding) so I’m prepared to swim.

I THINK HE COULD HAVE MADE IT

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

A Few Victims Of That Bus Everyone’s Being Thrown Under (To Greater Or Lesser Degree)

Politics is a game of bullshit.  A nuanced, complex and sometimes surreal game of bullshit on a mass level that I enjoy thoroughly, but still bullshit.  A politician’s job is to spin whatever is done, said, or randomly occurred by ANY individual or group of individuals into a sound bite that plays well for their side.  When it’s done right, it works beautifully (“I feel your pain”).  And when it’s done poorly, it’s a campaign killer:

GOOD JOB, FRANKENSTEIN.

Occasionally, candidates have to bite the bullet and say something to appease and/or motivate their respective bases.  These are the moments they sound most like raving lunatics, because only the raving lunatics in this country are motivated enough to vote regularly.  For the Right, these are generally megachurch-going, minivan driving, shitty-musical-taste having suburbanites in the South and Midwest coupled with God-fearing but less church-going drunken rednecks found in rural areas the nation over (rebel flags optional).  For the Left, this base consists of every other fringe lunatic known to man, from whaling boat chasing hippies to Robert Mapplethorpe.  Republicans like numbers, Democrats like variety, I suppose.  Anyway these sorts of statements are along the lines of “the Constitution should be re-written to exclude those damn queers” and “maybe we should just try offering the Iranians cupcakes and love”.  I’m paraphrasing those last two, by the way, in case you’re a dipshit.

SEE?  HE JUST NEEDS A HUG.

In the process of this memetic warfare/cosmic douchebaggery, there are inevitably casualties.  Aside from our collective dignity, I mean.  I’m referring to people who get wounded (or taken out entirely) on the gladiatorial floor of American politics for doing nothing more basic, and heretical, as telling the truth AS THEY SAW IT.  So in the interest of illustration, I’m profiling just a few right here that have occurred recently.  In the interest of equity, I’m offering an equal portion from the Left and Right, just to prove that this sort of dickheadedness doesn’t discriminate.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.”

SAID BY: Geraldine Ferraro

THE FUSS: Sounds racist as fuck.

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: Anyone actually BELIEVE Ferraro is a racist?  And if so, why wasn’t that part of the national media debate?

AS SHE SAW IT: More than likely, Geraldine was simply ruminating that if Obama were a young, charismatic junior Democratic Senator with a populist/moderate appeal AND he were white, he’d look just like half a dozen other suit-and-tie Ken Dolls the Democrats have in the stable, one of whom was already in the primaries.

IF OBAMA LOOKED LIKE THIS, HE’D LOSE TWO PRIMARIES TOO.

BUS FACTOR: A total bus throw.  Hillary wasted no time in severing ties with Ferraro, probably in an effort to get this little comment out of the news cycle as fast as possible.

WAY I SEE IT: Ferraro was probably wrong in actuality.  Obama turned out to be able enough a politician by far to carve out his own identity and beat anyone on the field regardless of standing out ethnically.  He hadn’t yet beat Team Clinton when this quote caused all the fuss.  Or maybe her failure to give him the benefit of the doubt in that ability IS some latent racism on her part, who the fuck knows or cares?  The statement itself isn’t one of hate so much as poor politics from someone who was only ever on the shittiest presidential ticket in modern history.  Doddering old people should be ignored in every human endeavour, quite frankly.  Still, in America, it was enough to kill whatever she had left of a career (not much).  Unfair, but no big loss.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Certainly [another terrorist attack on US soil] would be a big advantage to [John McCain].”

SAID BY: Charlie Black, McCain’s chief strategist.

THE FUSS: 9-11 The Sequel, and this guy is contemplating a poll bump?

AWKWARD

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: Does anyone think John McCain ACTUALLY wants to see another 9-11?

AS HE SAW IT: Probably that from a purely rational standpoint, he was totally correct.  The current number one issue in the race is economics, and right now the only thing that’s likely to push that back far enough to seal the deal is a dirty bomb going off in Scranton or the like.

BUS FACTOR: Well you can’t call this a complete bus throw, since the man still has a job.  However, it wasn’t long after that McCain completely restructured his campaign (again) under one of Karl Rove’s former padawan learners.  One would assume part of this restructuring involves limiting Charlie Black’s press exposure, if that hasn’t been done already.  Also, McCain was damn quick to denounce this statement.

WAY I SEE IT: As even the Fortune magazine writer who reported this admits, these comments were made after he did the standard American journalist “press for a take on my wild and completely off-base speculation about something juicy” technique.  On top of that, he did it to a career political man so he knew any answer with candor was going to sound cold-blooded as hell.  At most, this quote illustrates that McCain employees the same sorts of single-minded reptiles in his campaign team that everyone else does; it’s not really news.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” [AKA: BITTERGATE]

SAID BY: Barack Obama

THE FUSS: Sounds classist as fuck.

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: First off, that’s the most soft-petaled classism I’ve ever heard in my life.  “Let them eat cake” it ain’t.  But the real bullshit here is that the people slamming him for this feel the same way about the same people, they’re just more adept at mining them for votes.  And THOSE yacht-club dickheads don’t have the street cred of having worked in a Chicago soup kitchen when they could have been making a few million a year suing the shit out doctors like the rest of the Harvard Law grads.

AS HE SAW IT: Obama would never have used those PARTICULAR words in a place he thought he’d be recorded at, because he knows how they’d play.  The room he was in, however, was being sent a clear message, proving the adage that politics isn’t what you say or how you say it, but WHY you’re saying it and to whom.  To translate, it was his way of communicating in intractable dickhead Democrat-speak that “small-town people aren’t stupid, they’re just scared, which is something you might understand if you didn’t have your heads up your asses”.  Maybe not the last part, but still.

BUS FACTOR: Never a true bus-throwing possibility, as the only people who could throw Obama under a bus would be the people voting for him.  Still, this little gaffe barrelled out of control enough to count for perhaps the bus running over the Senator’s foot.  Painful, but nothing a few weeks in crutches can’t fix.

WAY I SEE IT: Know the following:  I don’t go to church.  I don’t own a gun.  But I AM a working class small-town kid.  And I support and deeply empathize with the fears and indeed attitudes of people like me.  But the fact is that critical self-examination shows an element of truth to what Obama said.  SURE there are people in our communities who are finding Jesus or hating immigrants just a LITTLE bit more because they have nothing else to turn to (or think they don’t).  Doesn’t make it any less true when it’s observed by an Ivy League lawyer.  The man was in no way suggesting that we, or the fanatics among us, be marginalized in any systematic way.  It doesn’t even show a particular disdain, unless the reader chooses to read it that way, honestly.  And on a side note… Attaching the suffix “-gate” to the end of every minor flap in politics is fucking moronic.  Stop it.

CLINGING TO HIS RELIGION

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline…You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession.”

SAID BY: Phil Gramm, economic adviser to John McCain

THE FUSS: After the tenth time in a month of being sodomized at the filling station and the fourth home foreclosure to hit your block, most people don’t want to be told they’re whiners.

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: The immediate and rabid activation of the spin machines on both sides, complete with lame humor.  McCain jumped right off the straight-talk express to deliver a “Phil Gramm does not speak for me” speech in the heart of Michigan, conveniently surrounded by people hoping against hope that auto manufacturing jobs are going to return to America.  Obama’s people fared even worse, prepping him with a speech that included the line “America already has one Dr. Phil. We don’t need another one when it comes to the economy.”  At least, I HOPE that line came from one of his team and not Obama himself, because it’s fucking stupid.  In all of this, not one bit of effort was taken on the part of either campaign OR the media to examine the actual FACTS of Gramm’s assertion.  Better by far to dance to the tune of economic fear-mongering, after all.

AS HE SAW IT: Gramm has never been one to mince words when reached for a statement.  Point in fact, he called CNN directly to clarify his position on the matter.  Relevant excerpts include: “The whiners are the leaders. Hell, the American people are victims, but it didn’t quite come out that way in the story… [Congressional leaders] blame speculators and oil companies for our problems…What we need is more leadership and less whining…I said we are in a mental recession. We keep getting the steady drumbeat of bad news … it’s become a mental recession.  We don’t have measured negative growth. That’s a fact, that’s not a commentary.”  He went on to say he understood the outrage over his remarks as part of the “game”, and that the media were a collection of irrelevancy-peddling shit-buzzards.  Okay, I made that last part up, but the subtext was there, I think.

BUS FACTOR: Well, McCain was once again DAMN quick to distance himself from the remarks.  It’s curious, since distancing yourself from economic remarks which were made by YOUR ECONOMIC ADVISER is a move that could only work out in American politics.  Still, when asked directly whether Gramm would be in the running for a job a Treasury Secretary in a McCain administration, the question was deflected with a joke about Belarus.  No, seriously.  So it seems Gramm has been saved from tire marks for now.

[UPDATE 7-18-08:  Looks like I spoke too soon, though to hear Gramm tell it, he threw HIMSELF under the bus.  Draw your own conclusions.]

WAY I SEE IT: Phil Gramm has a PhD in economics from the University of Georgia.  He taught on the subject for twelve years at Texas A&M and is currently a vice-chairman of UBS Investment Bank.  Now MAYBE (just maybe) when he speaks on the subject of America’s financial situation, it might be a good idea for us to listen and evaluate instead of worrying whether or not these statements jibe with the feelings of some impoverished SUV driver who’s having to downsize to (gasp!) a full-sized sedan.

READY FOR THE SOUP LINE

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

What The United States Of America Means To Me, And Why It Still Kicks Ass

In the days leading up to this country’s Independence celebration, I found myself contemplative for this particular entry into the Memetic Press blog.  Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, a ragtag group of businessmen, smugglers, and pillars of their respective communities gathered together to solidify their ideas about national identity and natural rights on a piece of paper.  That scrap of hemp parchment was destined to live forever as history’s greatest middle finger, aimed squarely at the King of England.

This is the time of year I usually imagine this scene playing out: I see John Hancock, you know… chillin’.  Standing against the wall as everyone else signs, just hanging back, you know.  And Jefferson looks up and says… “Hey Hancock, you gonna get down on this?”  And Hancock’s just waiting, smug like, and he says, “Nah, I’ll get it in a minute.  Save room.  Lots of room.”  Probably drinking, too.  I heard they had to stop him before he dipped his gigantic balls into the inkwell and planted them right next to his signature.  Let the king see that, indeed.

THIS IS WHAT A PIMP LOOKS LIKE

Anyway, that leads me to the subject of today’s musing… What the United States of America Means To Me, And Why It Still Kicks Ass.

The ass-kickery begins, as most ass-kickery does, at the beginning.  For whatever reason the forces of fate decided to bring together the exact right people at the exact right moment.  Most of the Founders themselves would have called this Providence, but whatever the driving principle behind it, the result remains the same and the pattern is inescapable.  You can see it in other points of American history where two or more convergent forces raise the status of one another.  For example, without say, Howard Hawks and John Ford, John Wayne would be just another Western serial actor.  Without the RZA and the rest of the Wu, the Ol’ Dirty Bastard would just be a drunk dude screaming into a microphone.  And thusly, without one another, each constituent part of the Founding Fathers posse would simply be a historical footnote; Franklin a quirky 18th century inventor, Washington a prominent military commander in a forgotten war with the French, and Adams not even worth an HBO mini-series.  And so on.

But that’s not what happened.  What happened was that these men not only came together to combine their powers, not unlike Voltron, but they did so at the PRECISE moment that history required.  Think of it as a perfect storm of complimentary social, political, and philosophical ingredients, brought to a boil in the unrest of a shit-load of cider-drunk hemp farmers.  And the result, my friends, was something truly amazing.

ABOVE: WASHINGTON FORMS THE HEAD

For perhaps the first time in modern history, a nation set out to build itself FROM SCRATCH.  Without tradition or monarchy to guide them, without religious fervor to inform their ceremony, with nothing but the brains in their heads these men attempted to create a country that worked on the principles of REASON and COMMON SENSE.  It’s goal was nothing less than freedom to live for even its lowest and meanest of citizen.  Revolutionary?  Without question.

It was on the promise of this that a ragtag, disorganized citizens brigade proceeded to pull off the greatest military upset since Leonidas rallied Greece against Xerxes with his own blood.  The most powerful military force on Earth lost to screaming hillbillies and starving New England men who were fighting for nothing more than the PROMISE of a free land.  This was a message that resounded so clearly, so incontrovertibly, that every monarchy in Europe shook with fear.  In some cases, this fear was well justified.

EUROPE GETTING OWNED BY FREEDOM

In recent years, it’s become somewhat fashionable for our own intellectual elite and ignorant suburbanites to bash America.  And, considering the trajectory this country has been moving along in recent years, that’s somewhat understandable.  But I myself draw a line between criticism of our government’s actions (which, at the end of the day, we’ve no one but ourselves to blame for) and denigration of this country’s origins and ideals.

Was the nation born of the Revolution a perfect one?  Certainly not, nor was that ever the claim.  If the Founding Fathers pretended to perfection, they’d never have allowed amendments to the Constitution.  Jefferson for one advised each succeeding generation to throw the whole damn system out if it suited their fancy, and the day may yet come where I advocate taking him up on it.  But the INTENT, you see, was the important thing.  They TRIED.  Within the framework of their understanding of the universe around them, they created the best system THEY could come up with.  And, recognizing that future generations would have a greater understanding than they, implemented a system to adapt to that understanding.

This system itself hasn’t always stood up to the rigors of civilized dialogue.  The issues of states rights and slavery degenerated into bloodletting, but the nation survived.  The equal distribution of our freedoms to various groups has often come slowly, but it HAS come.  And today, the United States faces the painful duality of having a bloated expansionist government with an isolationist population.  Problems, as they will, arise.

But throughout it all, a ray of undiluted promise remains.  Freedom.  Independence.  The ability for any person of any persuasion to live their life HOWEVER they please, so long as it harm no other.  Some have proclaimed it impossible.  Some have mocked its very existence and called it an illusion.  Some have degraded the symbols by which this country pursues this promise, burning flags and championing degenerate failed political ideologies from overseas.  All these people, I say here and now, are fucking fools.

Is this country perfect?  Hardly.  No more so than the day it was formed.  But is it’s IDEAL the pinnacle of human achievement?  The notion that all humanity: large and small, rich and poor, male and female, has the right to pursue its happiness however it sees fit?  You bet your American ass it is.

Between the institutionalized self-loathing of the left and the twisted nationalist territoriality of the right there exists a medium of thinking that STILL makes sense.  Common sense, as Thomas Paine might recognize.  Freedom has been slow to come to some in this country.  But it has come.  And it will come.  And the inexorable march toward equality for all under the law and opportunity for everyone in this great nation will continue.  It survived the Civil War.  It survived the Great Depression.  That very simple notion that all should be free… codified in a document by a group of irritable, disagreeing, and heavily sweating men in powdered wigs… lives still.  The promise made in Philadelphia, the gigantic ‘go fuck yourself’ pointed toward King George and indeed all tyrants, still lives.

The United States Of America kicks ass.

RECOGNIZE

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

The Post-HeroesCon Report (Finally)

Forgive my tardiness on this one, as it HAS been over a week since the convention… BUT financial considerations forced me to take a more active hand in certain affairs, and that kept me away for a bit.  THEN, I got completely smashed at a wedding Saturday and needed a while to recover.  I mean, in addition to the time I spent asleep in the rain on a bench by Boardwalk Billy’s.  Ahem.

Anyway, the grand and spectacular HeroesCon was a magnificent affair, with much fun had by all.  Everyone I saw out there and introduced AFTER to, welcome to the fold.  And everyone who bought the book, thank you for supporting a lowly indy comic publisher.  People like you are the reason this constant toil is all worth it, and we strive to justify your parting with hard-earned money by keeping the entertainment coming.  Speaking of which, check out the AFTER info page above.  Frequent updates to that one as we get closer to finalizing (gasp) Issue Two.

And now, for your viewing pleasure (or masochism), I present a collection of images from the convention, including some of yours truly:

Convention

AH, THE CONVENTION FLOOR…

Convention

After Team

MARCUS KISER (L) + PARIS BATTLE (R)+SHITTY FOCUS=THIS PICTURE OF TEAM ‘AFTER’

Oh Crap

HERE MARCUS IS ABOUT TO SLIP OUT OF THIS DIMENSION ENTIRELY.  NOTE MY LOOK OF PANIC.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle