Archive for July 2010

The Angel of Death Visited Me   7 comments

Entertainment doesn’t always have to come from outside. Sometimes it comes from within. Sometimes it is as simple as thinking, or as simple as writing. Sometimes it shouldn’t be called entertainment.

I was searching for a manuscript that I feel certain is lost somewhere on my computer’s hard drive. I didn’t find it, which probably means I’ll have to retype the whole thing. There’s an unexpected pleasure for you.  Among other things I found this short short story.  I have decided to put it here in Atroll’s Entertainment so the world can find it. I think it has a message. At the very least it will explain how I feel–this nameless sense of disaster coming.

I am not going to tell anyone that I put this blog up. It is just going to be here, a record of some of my grimmer thoughts, and when I die, tomorrow, or a hundred years from now, someone will know how I felt.

The Angel of Death
     by Ken St. Andre

Not exactly what I'm looking for.

The Angel of Death visited me (again) just before waking up.  It didn’t have a shape this time–no big-eyed maiden or skeleton with a scythe–just a vague area of darkness with a presence to it.

“Are you ready to go?” it asked.  I somehow knew this was not the first time it had asked me.

“Do I have a choice?”

“You always have a choice,” it answered.  “God gave you free will.”

“Is that true for everyone?” I asked.

“Yes.  Everyone has free will.  Not everyone realizes it.  Most souls just come away with me the first time I ask them.”

“I’m going to say no.  I still have things to do in this life.”

“Nothing important.  You’ve experienced childhood and manhood, sired children, loved women, travelled the world, helped, harmed, learned, taught, and so forth.  What else do you still want to do in this life?”

“I want to write, I want to eat, I want to love, I want to spend time with my son, I want to travel.  I want to win this online game I’m playing.  Just because my biological function has been fulfilled doesn’t mean I’m ready to die.”

“Live then, but pay the price.  I’ll be waiting for you.”

“I have a feeling that I’ve denied you before.”

“True!  You have.”

“I don’t remember, but I feel I’ve turned you down many times.”

“One thousand four hundred eighty-six times you have turned me down.  Would you like to remember?”

“Yes, I would.”


“That seems like a lot of refusals.”

“It is nowhere near the record.”

“What happens after you die?”

“I am not allowed to tell you?

“Can you give me some hints?  Am I destined for hell?”

“Do you believe you should go to hell?”

“How should I know?  I hope not.  I haven’t been that evil.”

“You probably won’t go then.  There are a lot of other possibilities.”

“Like what?”

“I can’t tell you.  Let go.  Come with me and find out.”

“I don’t think so.  Nice try though.”

It smiled grimly–that is if a vague presence in the dark can smile grimly.

“You sure you won’t change your mind?”

“Not this time.”

“Return to life then!”  It vanished . . .

. . . and I felt a stab of agony shoot through my stomach and I awoke in a cold sweat.  At that moment the muscles in my left calf spasmed and the leg tried to tear itself apart.  I gasped and cried out a little bit in agony.

And I paid the price gladly enough, waking to the pain I feel everyday.  I remember now.  You can live if you’re willing to pay the price.  Life is Pain.


Epilog:  Now that I can remember my visits from the Angel of Death, I have understood something else.  The pain of life keeps getting worse the longer I stay here.  It is much worse now than it was a year ago.  I was thinking that with simple willpower, I could deny the Angel of Death forever.  But I am realizing that some day I am going to say yes to the Angel.  Some day I will not be willing to pay the price any longer.

Something lurking in the mind.


Posted July 30, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

It’s a Harsh Galaxy   4 comments

I’m not really an astronomy buff, but I have some interest in outer space. Like many a science fiction writer and reader before me, I believe that man’s best hope for long time survival as a species is to  get off of planet Earth and spread out through the galaxy. Writers have invented hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ways to get to the stars, and I would dearly love it if the human race could/would actually accomplish one of them. But, I don’t think it’s going to happen, and that makes me kind of sad.

Back in 1969 I was optimistic. Americans went to the Moon.  It was a small step for a man, but a giant leap for all Mankind. 

Why is the flag rippling? Is their wind on the moon?

Now, it’s 41 years later and we still don’t have a colony or even a moonbase yet.  The science fiction writers of the early and mid-twentieth century all thought we’d be on Mars by now with habitats in the asteroids at the very least.  It didn’t take the Spaniards this long to get people over to the New World in 1492.

The reason seems pretty clear. It is not economically worth the effort to have people living on the moon. The place is airless, lifeless, and probably economically worthless. This is our nearest neighbor in space and it’s a bad place to go or be, no matter how nice it looks in our night sky.

Back yard on the Moon

Okay, the truth is we don’t want to spend much time on the Moon. What a dump! It’s unliveable. (The part of me that hasn’t given up hope still wants someone to pay the price and establish a Moon colony, but I don’t see it happening.) How about Mars?  It’s pretty close, and it has atmosphere and water–not much, but some.

Yay. We managed to put a couple of golf cart robots on Mars.

What a gorgeous place! Beautiful Mars! That’s as good as it gets in our solar system. Can you honestly see people living there?

Venus is closer than Mars and has lots of atmosphere. The world is practically Earth’s twin. What does it look like on the surface?  This is art, not photography. We don’t have any cameras that can survive on the surface of Venus.

It rains sulphuric acid on Venus and is 900 degrees in the shade.

Nope, nobody is ever going to be living on Venus.

The gas giant planets are out.  Men are never going to live on gas giants. They have some pretty interesting moons of their own. They are beyond our reach right now as far as space travel goes. The most Earthlike is Titan.

A bit smoggy, but not that much worse than Los Angeles.

Of course, the main drawback with Titan is the surface is 200 degrees below zero and everything on the moon would kill you. 

I started this blog with the idea of talking about extrasolar planets. Lately I’ve been cruising the internet looking for new articles about planets discovered outside our own solar system.  It totally amazes me that our telescopes are powerful enough to  detect  solar wobbles or even gigantic planetary disks at a distance of  scores of light years.  I’d like to take a second to salute our astronomical artists for their amazingly imaginative images of planets beyond our own solar system.  Here follows a series of such images.

Astronomers have discovered a number of other solar systems. I believe more than 400 exo-planets have now been found  None of the solar systems look very much like ours. Check out this great chart that I found.

This is the nearest extrasolar planet directly detected to our sun. Most of the others have been deduced by measuring the dimming of a star’s light, or by gravitic wobbles.  And here I quote from the web page where I found the information. “The planet “HD 189733b” orbits a star that is a near cosmic neighbor to our sun, at a distance of 63 light years in the direction of the Dumbbell Nebula. It orbits the star very closely, just slightly more than three percent of the distance between Earth and the sun. Such close proximity keeps the planet roasting at about 844 Celsius (about 1,551 Fahrenheit), according to the team’s measurement.

The planet was discovered last year by François Bouchy of the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory, France, and his team. The discovery observations allowed Bouchy’s team to determine the planet’s size (about 1.26 times Jupiter’s diameter), mass (1.15 times Jupiter), and density (about 0.75 grams per cubic centimeter). The low density indicates the planet is a gas giant like Jupiter.”

Super hot gas giant.

As far as I can tell, astronomers actually think the nearest interstellar neighbor planets are at Epsilon Eridani B, about 10.5 light years from Earth.  Here’s a fanciful picture and some comments in quotes from the web page.

“It’s actually a system of planets, not unlike how we like to call our own solar system. The name “Epsilon Eridani” stands for the parent star, or their “sun,” and it has two probable planets orbiting it: one confirmed (Epsilon Eridani b) another yet unconfirmed (Epsilon Eridani c), making it the closest planetary system at just over 10 light years from the solar system. It even has not one but two asteroid belts, an inner one between Epsilon Eridani b and the star and an outer one between b and c, and also a dust ring beyond c’s orbit believed to be produced by extrasolar comets bumping into each other.  Read more:

There are lots of great pictures of extrasolar planets on the internet–all pure imagination.  Scientists have not discovered anyplace we could actually live, even if we could get there. If you google extrasolar planets, you are bound to be entertained and informed, even as I am every day.

This looks like a great place to live. Alas, it is pure imagination. The nature of gas giant planets is such that I don’t think there is any chance of earthlike moons actually orbiting them.

I think this might be from the movie Avatar. It's not real, but sure is pretty.

I admit that this blog has rambled a bit. I’m not ready to do my Troll Con blog, so I thought I’d fill in with some pretty pictures from outer space. This is actually a form of amusement for me–searching the internet for the wonders of astronomy (and you say, get a life, Atroll).  Next time, we’ll come back to Earth  for fun.


Posted July 28, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

Sorcerer’s Apprentice   3 comments

Let’s try something new. Instead of leading off with a still from a movie, let’s lead off with the trailer.

After BuffaTroll Con last weekend, three of us went to see the new movie Sorcerer’s Apprentice late Sunday afternoon. It was a good way to come down after a weekend of gaming.  If you watched the trailer just now, you saw most of the movie. You missed the big fire in the sky finale, but caught most of the key points.

I expected to like Sorcerer’s Apprentice–how could I not like something that invoked the names of Merlin and Morgan le Fay? Special effects galore, a likeable nerd for a hero, and Nicholas Cage being the reincarnation of Gene Wilder. Even though Cage is bigger than Wilder, the mad hair and the wacky incidents, and the sarcastic humor made me think of Gene every time Cage’s Balthazar was onscreen. And I did like it. But maybe because I’m an old codger who actually knows the legends this movie butchered to  come up with a plot, I didn’t really love it. It was a major exercise in nerdity uber alles. It turned King Arthur’s aunt, Morgan Le Fay from a spiteful Queen of Faery into a nutcase out to destroy the world. That’s just wrong. I’ll give the movie 3 stars.

The movie had young love, old love, and evil love. It had a car chase scene through the streets of New York City that would have made Bullit lose his cookies.  It had the world’s coolest Tesla coils, and they were actually important to the plot.  Our hero, Dave, chosen by fate to be the Prime Merlinian–it took me the longest time to figure out what they were saying–for half the movie I thought they were calling him the Prime Meridian, and that didn’t make sense at all–is a physics nerd doing research with massive Tesla coils and Jacob’s Ladders, and he learns to turn the electric discharges into audible music–don’t know if it’s really possible, but it seemed very cool to me in the movie.

Not a scene from the movie but there were similar displays of flying electricity

Since this is a Disney movie and Disney had already done Sorcerer’s Apprentice as a Mickey Mouse cartoon, there had to be the classic scene with the Mops running Amok.  Frankly, that was my favorite scene in the movie–just a madcap romp of mops going berserk.  Oddly enough, I can’t find that scene from the movie on the internet, so I’ll have to settle for Mickey’s mops in action.

Well, it was fun, as most Disney movies are fun. The wizards all had magic without limit–none of the budgeting their spell points that we put up with in our roleplaying games. As usual these days, the special effects artists are the true heroes of the film. I doubt there will be any Academy Award nominations for the acting–although it was believable enough, but it may well be in the running next year for special effects.

You should see this movie, preferably with a kid.  You’ll enjoy it.


Posted July 27, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

Web Comix   3 comments

I love comics–have been buying and accumulating them all my life. I say accumulating because I don’t really do the whole collectors routine with bags and boards–that’s a good way to spend more money on preservation than the comic itself will ever be worth.

And then along came the internet and artists started putting their material online. I love it.  What better way could there be to get your material seen and perhaps purchased?  There are thousands of web comics now–some of them are great, and some are terribly weak. There are comics for all tastes. I like them. I approve of them. I wish I had the talent and perseverance to create one myself.

So, for your entertainment I present my top five web comix. These are all great, and I recommend them to you if you like comics at all.


Phil and Kaja Foglio have been doing funny, sexy, inventive comics for decades now. This is the best kind of science fiction–highly original, character driven, and wild.  Phil doesn’t give us a bunch of talking heads–he gives us action, romance, wild escapes, brilliant schemes.    This is the kind of action that can be found at


The Foglios also offer several other amazing web comics including Mythadventures and Buck Godot.


The misadventures of Skeeve and the demon can be found at

There is a kind of comics convention that our heroes and heroines be young and good-looking. You can certainly see that in Girl Genius. Phil is talented enough to play against conventions with Buck Godot–who is a fat space detective. Buck is lazy, corrupt, and very very smart. Ya gotta love him.

There you have a few samples of the Foglio works. There are more if you seek them out. It is all brilliant and amazing stuff–the writing is every bit as good as the art. If you don’t read it, you are missing the best of the web.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, let’s take a look at:


This is dungeons and dragons done with stick figures as a continuing comic. Note that this latest installment is number 735.  I would really, really like to read the whole thing from the beginning, but I don’t have that much time. The plots are involved; the characters grow on you; even the bad guys and monsters have their own personalities and charm. It’s amazing what a good story teller can do with stick figures.  You can find this at:

From heroic fantasy to  erotic fantasy. The story of Curvy is just plain yummy. Our heroine is about to get lost in a dream at

Returning to Earth, I find the kind of fantasy that working people have every day–the grotesque idea that we could actually treat the public or the people we work for and with as they deserve to be treated.  Deweu is the kind of librarian I wish I could be, but I would be cruicified if I ever let my sense of sarcasm go as far as he does.

The public may love them, but real librarians mostly hate their photocopy machines. They are constantly running out of paper, getting jammed, or finding some other way to go wrong. Look for librarian adventures as we only wish they could be at:

And for my last example of web comic brilliance, let’s get something from a gaming legend. Let’s go into the world of gaming with Dork Tower–things that have oft been thought, but ne’er so well expressed before.

You could go to, start reading, and never get bored.

Am I preaching to the choir here? Probably. You wouldn’t have looked at this blog if you weren’t interested in web comics to begin with.  But, I wanted to get this tribute posted, and I’ll tell you all about Trollcon next time.

Leave a comment and tell me about your own favorite web comic and I’ll award you a no-prize, suitable for bagging and boarding and keeping with the rest of your treasures.


Posted July 24, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

RandomCon 2010   6 comments

July 8 through 11 was RandomCon in Mesa, Arizona. The Con organizers got a great deal on room rates and function space out at 5750 E. Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. That’s more than half way to Apache Junction and the Superstition Mountains–about a 25 mile drive from my house. But it was a nice hotel, and the function space of their convention center was excellent for a small convention.

I got to be Guest of Honor, a distinction without duties. I didn’t have to give a speech, or judge a contest, or anything.  I just went to the Con, played games and talked to people. That’s as good as it gets for a gaming con.

I’m not going to try for a consecutive narrative. That would be kind of dull. I did take my digital camera, and I got a bunch of blurry pictures of people at the Con. I’m just going to post some of the pictures and talk a little bit about them.

The very first game I got to play was Tunnels and Trolls. I had seven players and I took them into the Old Dwarf Mine near the pitiful village of Sheep Lick.  The game started with a  total party kill–who would have thought that ten puny goblins would be enough to kill seven stalwart delvers. Well, actually, they were very puny delvers–some of them could match the goblins one on one, and others would get their tails kicked. I had to retcon the goblins into creatures only half as strong as I thought they were. One player said he had the strangest dream–You were there, and you, and you, and we were all killed by goblins. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Playing Carcassonne with Scott.

 Back in the days when Tunnels and Trolls was a young game, Scott used to work at Flying Buffalo. he was a lanky kid in those days. He brought a box of old games with him, and when I saw Carcassonne, I insisted on playing it.  I didn’t win.  Scott won. But I had a good time laying out those tiles and watching the countryside take form. It’s a form of world creation, and if there’s anything I love, it’s world creation. I bet I would get better at it if I got to play the game more often.

John Wick expounds

 The Phoenix area actually supports quite a few well-known game designers. Rick Loomis (Star Web), Michael Stackpole (Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes), John Wick (Play Dirty) and me.  John and Rick were at the Con. Rick spent all his time in the dealers’ room, trying to sell games. This was not a good convention for selling things–too few gamers–less than 200 at the whole Con.  John spent most of his time teaching people how to play his games, and actually playing them. I spent a good chunk of my time hanging with John. He did an impromptu interview with me which I hope to see appear on YouTube some time. John has his own channel there, and he talks about a lot of different fascinating subjects. He taught me how to play his Samurai role-playing game, and on Saturday night, I worked my way into his Houses of the Blooded larp. I got my son Corencio and his friend Harley in on it too. It was much more fun and active than the last larp I attended. Kenarthio is now a (distant) member of the Falcon Clan and the Thorne family. I’m considering attending more of these larps, although they happen in very inconvenient times and places for me.

 This is John’s lovely wife Rowe. She seems like the perfect gamer’s wife–enthusiastic and supportive, and fun to be around.  I’m jealous.  I introduced Corencio and Harley to John as my minions. He introduced Rowe and another woman to me as his attendants.  If he weren’t so darn likeable, I’d have to hate him.  You can see John lurking darkly in the background.  I wear my battered brown fedora. John is a black hat man.

 I don’t know these guys.  They sat at their table with a pirate flag and played cards all weekend. Several of them were in the House of the Blooded larp on Saturday night.

Ogreocre, my fantasy-themed card game for Trollworld.

 Speaking of cards . . . I was able to get people to play my new Ogreocre card game several times.  I used the Flying Buffalo poker deck as the game deck. It has 5 Kings in it, and the 5th King is the most powerful card in the game.  That’s my brown leather dice bag at the bottom end of the table.

I've known Jeff for years, and I kept calling him Tony. Sorry, Jeff!

 Jeff (standing up) and Daniel (sitting down and looking up at him) were two of my Ogreocre victims. Daniel is a clever Shadowfist player, and he played several games of Shadowfist with Corencio, Harley, and myself during the Con. He even went out to lunch with us on Saturday. Jeff is a writer,  and a book reviewer,  and a game collector, a pleasant fellow, and good to game with.                                       

Corencio and Harley playing Shadowfist.

 Here’s a shot of my son, Corencio and his best friend Harley playing Shadowfist. The three of us also frequently play Magic against each other.  They beat me 90% of the time.

Bob is Con Chairman and my very good friend.

 I’m really bad with last names. Bob is one of the main driving forces behind Convention fandom in the Phoenix area. He is both intelligent and friendly, and I enjoyed chatting with him at length.  He’s the one who got me to attend RandomCon this year.  Thanks, Bob!  If the Con had a program book, I’d be able to look him up and see what his last name is.

Jesse Foster, Leader of Steve Jackson's Men in Black in Phoenix.

 Jesse Foster, chief Game Master for Steve Jackson Games in Phoenix, has the most impressive name badge and ribbon collection I’ve ever seen.  Not since the days of the Lakota Sioux has there been such a chest protector. Jesse is always friendly, knowledgeable, and informative–the best game teacher I know, and that includes John Wick, who is very good and I’m no slouch. This time I even got him to play a round of Ogreocre with me.

Lessa, the loveliest woman at RandomCon, IMHO.

 I’ve seen Lessa at several gaming conventions now. She runs around with some tall dude who is a Dungeons and Dragons game master. He is always running the most elaborate game in the room. She was very friendly, and let me take this picture of her. Perhaps I should have stuck with the two-handed horizontal camera position. Turning it vertical introduced a little wobble, and she came out all blurry.  Sorry, Lessa. I’ll do better next time.  What I want to know now, is does she just wear the costume, or can she really belly dance?

Gamers in their natural habitat.

 Nothing really spectacular happened at this convention. People got together and had fun. (Imho, that’s the best kind of game convention.)  On the final day I finally managed to connect with the Men In Black and play a Steve Jackson game–Lord of the Fries. It’s a zombie-based food preparation game using a deck of grotesque food items. Very fun.

The front cover of Ogreocre.

 Here’s a better shot of the front cover of my Ogreocre game. It’s a fairly simple little party game–you wouldn’t want to play it more than a half hour or so, but it’s complex enough to be fun, and it makes a strange kind of introduction to the world of Tunnels and Trolls.  This is the game that the Ogres of Trollworld play–a game within a game. I got to run it on 4 different occasions at RandomCon, and that made the Con a success for me.  I’m hoping to run it again at TrollCon 3 and at GenCon next month.  If you’re at either Con, I’d love to teach you the game.

RandomCon finally ended on Sunday afternoon. When there wasn’t much else to do, Corencio, Harley, and I slipped away.  The plan was to finish the weekend by going to see the new animated film, DESPICABLE ME. And we did go see it that evening, but that’s the topic for my next blog.


Posted July 15, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

Shadowfist Night

Tuesday, July 6, suddenly turned into a pretty good day for me when I got a phone call at work from my son Corencio asking if he could attend an evening of Shadowfist gaming at Samurai Comics.  Of course I said yes, so long as he got a good chunk of his college homework done before leaving the house.

A few hours later I drove up to the very cool place that is Samurai Comics on East Camelback Road in Phoenix.

Not only  does Samura have a great selection of comics and games, but they made room for gamers to sit down and have a good time. I hope that makes a few extra dollars for them, but it’s certainly a boon to those of us who need a place to play.

There were six people playing Shadowfist, and some others playing Magic when I arrived. The Shadowfist Master of Phoenix, Paul Tanton, also known as Tmuwo of Trollhalla, seemed happy to see me, and set me up for the next round of play. I borrowed an Architects of the Flesh deck from son Corencio, and bought a Jones cola to ease my parched throat.

Here’s my sacrilegious statement of the day. I consider Shadowfist to be a better card game than Magic. They are both very excellent games, and good for the mind, but Shadowfist has more scope, and more creative game mechanics than Magic does. It isn’t as well known, but it’s the better game in terms of pure game design.

Mike, probably the best Shadowfist player in Phoenix.

Don’t let his looks fool you. Mike, here, will lull other playes into a false sense of security and then just smile and eat them all up. When I play in a game with Mike in it, I always try and convince all the other players to take him out first.  It hardly ever works–he’s that good.

Harley looks like he's losing this one.

This picture is Corencio’s best friend Harley. We converted him into a Shadowfist player, and he’s always up for a game.

Trollgod at the table. I'm winning.

Here’s a picture of me in action. In all due humility, I have my two opponents on the ropes. Too bad we ran out of time before the game ended.

It didn’t take much to make me happy. A few guys got together, played cards, and had some fun. All too soon 8 p.m. arrived, and Samurai Comics had to close. Ray, who was minding the store, gave us a few extra minutes to wrap things up, and then we were done. I know that if Paul has his way, this will become a regular event at Samurai Comics. I would like to see that happen, but I don’t know if I could attend them all. However, this session was very fine.

Ray thinking, how can I get these guys out of here?

My thanks to Mike and Moriya Banks, the owners of Samurai Comics, for making this gaming space available, and to Ray for manning the post while we gamed. If you’re reading this, and in the Phoenix area, we’re going to be having lots more gaming fun at Random Con this weekend. Check it out at:  Come on out and game with me!


Posted July 7, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

The Cat, the Bats, and Kickass   2 comments


I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately. That’s what I do when things get dull. I’ve been doing a little writing, running, and reading graphic novels. Next weekend will be RandomCon. I’ll get away from work for 3 days, get to hang with some gamers, just relax and have a good time. Hey, it’s gonna be a small convention–I’m even Guest of Honor. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading graphic novels–the library has just received a lot of new ones.

Of them all, two have impressed me enough to write about them.  One of them is The Bat and the Cat, written by Fabian Nicieza, art by Kevin Maguire, DC Comics, $12.99.  This is a light-hearted romp, 104 pages of good girl art as Batgirl meets Catwoman for the first time.  Catwoman steals a police notebook from Barbara Gordon, Gotham’s favorite librarian. Batgirl chases her down to get it back. This story filled the pages of Batman Confidential issues 17 through 21. Along the way there is plenty of cat fighting and acrobatics on the skyline of Gotham City. Costumes are torn to shreds and sometimes completely discarded.  Several major Batman villains including The Riddler, Two-Face, and the Joker make cameo appearances, and the fledgling Batgirl gets a boost to her self-confidence. 


Along the way, Batgirl has to ask herself, just how far will she go to chase down her foe. Catwoman has the morals of a cat. This logically leads to a place where getting naked is the only way to follow her. 

And that logically leads to a place where naked Batgirl and Catwoman have a fight. It’s a fanboy’s wet dream. And done so tastefully too. Imagine all you want, you don’t really see that much. Oh well, the very best artists are those who engage the imaginations of their readers/viewers.



When Batman finally get s involved, things come swiftly to a conclusion. 

A big part of what made this book worth talking about were the internal monologues of Batgirl and Catwoman. Selina has never been cattier. You really need to read/see it to appreciate it. It’s a treat.


From sex and violence I’ll transition to violence and pathos. The second book that impressed me more than a little lately was Kickass by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.  This is the story of a boy named Dave who dreams of becoming a real-life superhero.  He makes himself a dorky green and yellow costume, gets a couple of sticks, and goes out to patrol the mean allies of New York City. Instead of kicking ass, he gets his thoroughly kicked by the first gang of street toughs that he runs into. In fact, he is beaten so badly that his skull has to be reconstructed with metal plates inside it–thus giving him a real super power–hard-headedness. This becomes important at the end of the book.

Sure wish I had a billionaire mentor and a bat-cave about now!

However, Dave is not one to give up his dreams of super-heroing easily. A year later he’s back on the streets, and this time he actually wins a fight against 3 muggers, and saves a kid’s life. This fight is captured on cell-phone camera and goes right up on Youtube. Instant celebrity. Even though he got pretty beat up in this fight too, this is more like the life Dave was dreaming about.  This appeals to me because I remember being a teen-ager who thought about making a costume and going out after midnight to fight crime on the streets and alleys of western Phoenix. I never got as far as making a costume, and deep down inside I knew who would get beaten up if it ever came to fisticuffs.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. And I mean that literally. Trying to go out and do good deeds is one of the fastest ways to get in trouble that I can think of. This lesson is driven home on Dave’s third adventure, but in this one, he meets a real superhero–Hit Girl. This ten year old ninja girl is the deadliest thing you’ve ever seen. And merciless–not that any of the thugs in that room deserved any mercy.

I didn’t see the movie. Things sort of worked against me the week it was released, and the opportunity went by. That may have been a good thing for me. I’m squeamish. If there was as much blood in the movie as there was in the comic, I might have barfed right there in the theater.

The book is full of blood and bad language. Is that reality? It’s not my reality, but then, I don’t live in New York, and I had kind of a puritannical upbringing. I don’t curse casually. I save the strong words for strong situations. The kids in Kickass don’t. Oh well, I don’t imagine the language is going to bother anybody today.

If you watch Superman, you will believe a man could fly. If you watch or read Kickass, you will believe a kid could get beat up, come home covered in blood, and be back in high school the next day. Heh! I didn’t believe it, but it was a fun read.



Posted July 4, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized