Meteor Mags: The Battle of Vesta 4 – now in paperback and ebook!

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Four Action-Packed Stories Full of Anarchy, Asteroids, and Excessive Ammunition Continue The Adventures of Meteor Mags and PatchesHoist the Jolly Roger and Get Ready to Rock!

Available on Amazon in paperback (224 pages) and Kindle. Also available on iTunes and at Barnes & Noble for Nook Book.

Rings of Ceres: A hell-raising space pirate and her indestructible calico cat return to a decimated asteroid civilization to rescue friends and kick ass, but they get caught up in violent riots between the desperate citizens of Ceres and the mercenary security forces guarding the mining corporations.

Jam Room: Meteor Mags leads a jam session with the teenagers who want to start a punk band called Dumpster Kittens!

The Battle of Vesta 4: Meteor Mags and her fun-loving crew throw the birthday party of a lifetime—until death rains down from the sky! Mosh at the rock’n’roll party of the century as the Psycho 78s record their new album! Flee in terror as Club Assteroid falls under the dragons’ assault from space! Discover the underground caverns of Vesta and join the resistance! Take one last hell ride aboard the Queen Anne before it all goes up in flame! Strap on your battle armor and get ready for the most brutal, barbaric, blood-soaked fight of your life: The Battle of Vesta 4!

Hunted to Extinction: Meteor Mags and Patches undertake one last hunt to exterminate the space lizards from our solar system. Their journey reveals the fate of Tarzi’s parents, a tragedy that connects our criminal crew to a powerful potential ally. Plus, Mags gets a new ship, and it’s got even more kick-ass stolen technology to help her plunder the System! Her club might have been destroyed, but Meteor Mags and her friends will never accept defeat so long as they live.

May not be suitable for children or carbon-based life.

 

Serrano Pepper Hashbrowns with Cheese

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SERRANO PEPPER HASHBROWNS WITH CHEESE

I never ate Yukon potatoes before, but the little ones at Sprouts looked so cute that I had to take a couple home for something special. Why not a spicy twist on an old breakfast favorite? Why not slather them with so many tasty toppings we can hardly see them?

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Prep:

I put two Yukon potatoes in a sauce pan with cold water and a dash of sea salt, then boiled them for no more than five minutes. I ran them under cold tap water to cool them down, and shredded them along with two serrano peppers. I ground some black pepper into the mix and a generous amount of chili powder, then mushed them about into four little patties.

Cooking:

I fried them in a skillet with coconut oil on medium heat. They were browning a little too fast, so I reduced the heat to medium-low and flipped them.

While they cooked, I took the mouth of a small jar and cut out circles from slices of Colby Jack cheese, and set the circles on the patties to melt.

Serving:

I topped them with a drizzle of chipotle ranch dressing and sprinkled on some more chili powder and black pepper. A little scoop of diced, pickled jalapeños in the center completed the presentation.

Taste Review:

Delicious and enjoyably spicy, but they could use a touch of sea salt in the patty mix for flavor. This batch turned out slightly mushier than the crisp perfection I envisioned, so I’d consider frying them in a lot more oil to get that deep-fried vibe. Olive oil might be better than coconut, since it can take a slightly higher heat. Overall, they tasted great, with a little room for improvement in crispiness.

The Martian Top 40

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Mars Will Send No More is approaching the end of its eighth year, so I’ve been doing maintenance on it, clearing out dead wood and tidying up a bit. With more than 1500 posts, this garden of artistic obsessions requires pruning now and then. But I don’t mind. It’s fun to take a trip down memory lane and re-experience the ramshackle madness and mayhem upon which this blog was founded.

It’s a strange time for comic book blogs. Lloyd Wright at Diversions of the Groovy Kind is celebrating ten years of bronze-age comics blogging with nearly 3000 posts, and he’s musing on how life has changed since he started. He’s returned to writing comic books after stoking the fires of his nostalgia, and he’s a grandfather now, so he plans to post less frequently. Lloyd was a big influence on Mars in its formative days, so visit Diversions to wish him well and check out his latest original creations.

Paul O’Connor at Longbox Graveyard was an early supporter of my blogging endeavors when Mars was getting off the ground, and he’s been through changes, too. His “graveyard” has long since been been pruned and organized into a collection of his bronze-age favorites. He’s survived Californian fires, moved to Canada and returned, and is doubtlessly pondering his next conquest in the wake of leaving Twitter and putting his blog on indefinite hiatus. Drop by the Longbox to explore his entertaining collection of personal musings and generous guest blogs by fellow comic-book fans, and let him know we’d love to see him back.

Here on the distant frontiers of my Martian outpost, I’ve got no plans to abandon these virtual fortifications any time soon. We can always find something to rap about, whether it’s poetry, writing, art, food, or cats. But in honor of Lloyd and Paul and all the comic book bloggers out there, I’ll share an update about the comic book posts that have been the most popular here. Some of them overlap with my twenty-two all-time favorite comics, which you can find on the Archives Page. Some of them are from the earliest days of this blog, and others have recently rocketed to the top.

Here they are, in descending order starting from the currently most-viewed. Thank you for indulging and sharing my obsessions and joys, and stay creative.

Our Top Forty Most-Viewed Comic Book Posts
Magneto Rips out all of Wolverine’s Adamantium!
First Appearance of Spider-man’s Black Costume!
The Death of Barry Allen: Crisis on Infinite Earths 8
EC Comics & Ray Bradbury: There Will Come Soft Rains!
KISS: 1977 Marvel Comics Super Special #1
Dinosaurs of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson!
Animal Man 5: The Coyote Gospel!
G.I. Joe 21 – The Silent Issue!
Miracleman 15: Nemesis!
Origin of Starfire!
X-Men: Fatal Attractions Wrap Around Covers With Holograms!
The Conception and Birth of Nightcrawler!
Wolverine Aces the Red Skull!
Jack Kirby’s 2001 A Space Odyssey – First Issue!
Complete Jack Kirby Portfolio from 1971!
Wolverine Aces the Hulk!
Origin of Galactus by Jack Kirby
Michael Zulli’s Ninja Turtles!
Black Cat: She’s So Totally Amoral!
Your Guide to Getting Started Selling Comic Books on eBay
All I’ve Got to Worry About Is Shooting My Dinosaur!
Jim Starlin’s Psychic Battle Motif: Thanos vs. Galactus
Jim Lee X-Men Posters 3!
A Look Inside Bruce Jones’ Run on the Incredible Hulk
Jim Lee X-Men Posters 1
Robert Crumb’s Meatball!
Todd McFarlane’s Torment of the Lizard!
Scenes from Jack Kirby’s Black Hole Adaptation!
Do You Want to Know More about the Creepy Guy at the End of Avengers?
Jim Lee X-Men Posters 2!
Anatomy of a Comic Book Bad Girl!
Origins of OMAC: Made of the Future: EC Comics
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Graphic Novel Collection by First
Preeeeeeeesenting… The Women’s Texas Championship!
Rick Griffin: Man from Utopia!
Tygers: Alan Moore’s Legendary Empire of Tears!
The Human Head According to John Buscema!
What If Spider-Man Had Stopped the Burglar?!
Wolverine Gallery 22: Jim Lee
Judge Dredd versus Satanus, the Black Tyrannosaur!

Spicy Lemon Swordfish with Spinach

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SPICY LEMON SWORDFISH WITH SPINACH

Swordfish has a meatier texture than many fishes, more like a steak, but I find the taste a bit bland. Since the manager at Sprouts put out a half-pound chunk of swordfish at a steep discount, I improvised an intensely flavorful marinade to liven things up.

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Marinade:

  • A spoonful of sun-dried tomatoes with a splash of oil from the jar.
  • A spoonful of diced, pickled jalapeños with a splash of liquid from the jar.
  • The juice of one fresh lemon.
  • One take-out packet of soy sauce.

I cut the chunk of swordfish into quarters, like four mini-steaks, and marinated them about 90 minutes in the refrigerator.

Cooking:

All the fish and marinade went into a frying pan on medium-high heat, hot enough to boil the marinade. I ground a generous amount of fresh black pepper onto the fish, flipped it once, and ground more pepper on it.

Then I added a pile of chopped spinach leaves to the pan. I let the spinach and marinade cook about a minute longer after I pulled the fish out, so the liquid reduced and thickened, a bit like a sauce.

Serving:

After scraping all the saucy spinach goodness onto the fish, I sprinkled it with sunflower seeds and even more pepper, and added a dollop of hummus on the side.

Taste Review:

I wanted intense flavor, and I got it! More sensitive palates might prefer less lemon juice. More adventurous palates might desire more jalapeños. A half-pound of swordfish is more filling than I expected, but this was a delicious meal—and a lot cheaper and easier than it looks!

pollen

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pollen

words we create together
for each other
lavender scented and improvised
bloom like wild roses in a field
untidy and free
born in summer sunlight
delicate as lace

outside the city
only animals find them
the passing sparrow
the wandering rabbit

our leaves want to stay
our silent stamens want to say
don’t pluck us from our stems
we want to live
we want to cover this field
in a scent we share
to commune with bees
and kiss them as they drink us

we hold them close within our petals
for moments we never recapture
but always remember
giving grains of pollen like gifts

paper-thin wings
carry our presents
offer them to distant lovers we never meet
flowers who want to taste and touch us
to grow as we have grown
and fill this place
with creations of their own

 

simple

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simple

you make it sound so simple

as if we could feast
on angels’ corpses
dragging tomorrow over us
like a blanket

as if we could inhale
the first breath of stars
and claim their color
as our own

to you it all makes sense

the way a song
splashes on stones
bathed in light
they never see

how water holds you aloft
when you dream
of drowning
and forgetting

you come here all the time

to this windowless shelter
full of holes
this expanse that ceases
at your fingertips

you call it home
and it answers you
in silence
and thunder

 

blackout poems from the archives

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While organizing my writing files today, I found my collection of blackout poems from a few years ago. Some were eventually combined or otherwise transformed into poems I published in Anything Sounds Like a Symphony. If you’re looking for off-beat inspiration for your own poetry adventures, give this method a shot. I didn’t invent it. It came to me through a friend of Austin Kleon, who made a name for himself doing this to pages of newspapers and launched a successful series of books including Newspaper Blackout and the New York Times Bestseller Steal Like an Artist.

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I didn’t use newspapers, but a stack of National Geographic and old Playboy magazines, and odds and ends like an issue of Seattle’s Stranger.

You can do it with anything! In a writing course I took last January from Joanne Fedler, we did a similar exercise with our own material. We started with free-writing based on our recent dreams, just filling the pages with anything that came to mind, and then we highlighted only the most captivating words or short phrases. We used those as prompts for additional writing, like new starting points, but my highlighted pages resembled a blackout poem. Anyway, here’s the lot of them, from the archives.

 

 

seedling

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seedling

the body is soil
the mind is dirt

words ideas and emotions are seeds
longing to sprout
to take root and push their way to the surface
breaking through to find the light
unfurling their tiniest wings of green
bending toward the sun to capture it

they might grow unfettered
or be cut down and consumed

they might live for centuries
or be wrapped in fire
presented as gifts
to the blackening sky

they might become medicine
or poison

they might flourish in obscurity
or wither under the attention of millions

they might fill a forest like arboreal soldiers
marching in chaotic ranks to the coast
or stand isolated on the cliff edge
where only pumas roam
and sleep in their branches

they might drink their fill forever
or die of thirst

seeds neither know
nor care
for any of this

they merely follow impulse

gravity tugs at roots
the sun summons leaves
the stalk joins earth to heaven

the seedling wants to grow
yet desires nothing

it seeks light
without ever looking

its substance and soul
are one and the same

 

fresh ink

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A couple of new illustrations for The Battle of Vesta 4.

mags 37 - drums - small copy

mags 36 - dances - small copy

history

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history

some objects crave stories
like the restaurant receipt you find
in a used book of poems

or the face carved in palm tree bark
on your walk home
from the bus stop

the lavender tops of a mountain ridge
silhouetted against the soft peach of sunset
demand a history

the truth of their geology moving in slow centuries
collides every night with astronomy
to tell a different tale

embrace the miniscule
the details
in their honest inconsequence

they are undiscovered fragments of giants
waiting for you to weld them with words
unique narrations tying threads together

symbols find meaning
only when married
to other symbols

as for me
they all lead
back to you

joe’s steampunk electric eel

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Joe Shenton got his Kickstarter funded for his current book project, and on Tuesday I received an awesome ink drawing from him. My modest contribution earned me a steampunk monster drawn in the style that will appear in his book, with the option to choose what the monster would be based on. I requested an electric eel, and Joe delivered!

UPDATE: You can now buy a high-quality print of this piece from Joe’s Etsy Shop!

joe shenton electric eel steampunk art.jpg

dawn

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dawn

at dawn the trees awake
with your name on their lips
unfurling your syllables on every leaf

tributaries of sap
running clearly to the edges
like resonant waves from a bell

a microcellular song
carried to thirsting branches
to reach above the horizon
and reunite this earth with heaven

like the trees you create the air i breathe
and shelter for the birds
flying from my heart
in every direction
seeking home

nestled in your boughs
where last night
stars danced and descended
to converse with shadows
and show them
what gave birth
to light

deconstruction

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deconstruction

bricks
gathered and mortared
under lightning
immune to the sky-cracking blast
but not the pickaxe
not the jackhammer

water you endured
always more water
deluge of the desert
borderless within its hour

forgotten in the desiccated day
receding into memory
until people forget to pray
for what will quench them

thirst they slake with other means
dehydrating like meat in the sun
cooking like heroin in a spoon
all to be extinguished

 

men work to destroy
what men have built
then rebuild it

unlike ants who always construct
always repair
forever expanding

 

you take days to crumble
resisting the hands of strangers

glorious rebel of stone
uncouth fortification
senseless monument

silent ferocity
honest façade
they will cart you away for burial

then dig you up again
to deduce your purpose

 

what did any of it mean
sullen edifice guarding nothing
beneath a conspiracy of pillars
and a swarm of false fires

factories where noise is born
where chaotic life is forged
into merciless order of steel
and unforgiving plastics

what did it mean to you
solid barrier protecting specters
intangible ideas of property
profit and pavement

 

how they burned to break you
without considering how you destroyed them
as they deconstructed you
how you eroded those who carved you

sending them to be sequestered
unearthed later like artifacts
discovered and debated
but never
truly
known

union

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union

accidents of birth have separated us
but they did not last for long

i loved you before we met
and always after you leave

how could we be apart
when the sunrise bears your signature
birds carve your name below the clouds
and no one can count your colors

you are this morning and the following onslaught
the shade and the respite
the chill
the darkness and the forgetting

you are the memory
the thread that sews me to tomorrow
the fullness and the emptiness
and all that comes between

how could i not love your light
reflecting for the first time
from buildings i never noticed
until this morning

you are the quiet space between passing cars
the silent animation in the palm trees
the slowly vanishing shadows
of the city’s slumber

what would i care for this minute
this millennium
if it did not carry your name
in every crevice and every peak
and all the undiscovered spaces

i am but a speck
a mote of dust
a whisper daring to dream it is alive
and achieving nothing

but in your arms
i am everything

writers

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writers

you drank away
everything i ever owned

it burned a hole inside you
until nothing was left
but unpaid bills

stains on the furniture
pages full of imaginary heroes
you son of a bitch

i threw them out
you writers are all the same
in love with any life but this one

even when you slept beside me
you thought of someone else

 

cassette

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cassette

neither of us was emotionally stable
when she made me a mix tape
in the mid nineties

we listened to it on the highway
without a reason to be there
except for driving at unreasonable volume

two songs on that cassette stayed with me
we die young by alice in chains
and passive restraints by clutch

as just another grunge member of generation x
i should have heard alice in chains before 1997
but i ignored commercial radio all my adult life

we die young retains their hair metal sensibility
while foreshadowing the heavy suicidal brilliance
of subsequent albums

but the clutch tune eclipsed it
combining a description of cars
with sexual power and surrender

expressing things i felt for her
but she felt for someone else
and i should have known that

early clutch riffs are not difficult
beginners can play them
but their ferocity and massive sound remain unmatched

when we saw clutch in pontiac they were just okay
though other times ive seen them
are among my favorite concerts

in hindsight it says a lot about my twenties
not really formed yet as a person
i was in the process of becoming someone else

it didn’t surprise me when layne staley died
he sang about heroin addiction and death
so it felt more predictable than the weather

what really surprised me
was how clutch recorded album after album
blowing away even that first impetus ep

and if i had to pick one perfect rock album
to listen to for the rest of my life
it would be blast tyrant

maybe everyone has an album like that
one that never grows old
no matter how many years go by

ive become more cynical and set in my ways
but every time i hear those songs
i miss her

 

 

 

resident

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resident

before silence erased everything
you could go to bed
with jet engines ringing in your ears

the roaring railway serenade
cacophony of car crash lullabies
then emptiness

now you lie awake in solitude
unable to imagine what came before

not a drop remains
no sine wave nor vibration
only sickening tranquility

no one arrives to set you on fire
and toss the gas can
on your smoldering corpse

no one even remembers
where you live

Kickstart a New Book by Artist Joe Shenton!

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JULY 30 UPDATE: I’m pleased to report this project was fully funded! ~M

Last year, Joe Shenton sent me original artwork for supporting a Kickstarter campaign. I told him I like outer space, pirates, and octopuses, and he created a drawing I absolutely love. UPDATE: You can now buy a high-quality print of this piece from Joe’s Etsy Shop!

joe shenton ink drawing 003

This year, Joe is working on something a little different: producing an illustrated book with an original story, and adding watercolor paints to his ink drawings.

The Last Forest will be a tale about a boy and his fox caught up in a conflict between nature and industry in a future world Joe’s creating by blending fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction.

Here are a couple images from the project’s Kickstarter page. If you like what you see, head over to Joe’s Last Forest Kickstarter Campaign and show him your support! Get there before July 27, because the campaign ends soon.

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quarterly report

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Gather round, Martians, and put on some striped socks, because these quarterly reports are serious business.

First, I need to thank the readers, friends, and friends of friends who helped me when I was in dire straits this summer. Things were touch-and-go here for a few months, but your generosity helped me weather the storm.

Just when that storm wore itself out, Martian monsoon season hit, and I was forced to give up the top-secret headquarters that has been my pirate-radio broadcast booth for more than eleven years. I don’t like to blog about my personal problems, but just between you and me and the worldwide web, the only way this year could suck any worse is if Dr. Doom decided to become my personal nemesis.

But as I prepare to set up shop in an all-new lair, I’m reminded to always look on the bright side of life. So, what’s been good about the second quarter of 2018?

The writers’ critique group I started back in February 2017 has been doing quite well. I couldn’t be happier with the three people I chose to be assistant organizers, and they have been the only reason I was able to keep the group going while weathering this year’s storms. My goal was to build the group to the point where I didn’t need to personally handle every single thing at every single meeting, and to have a group that was more about “us” than it was about “me”. Mission accomplished.

Has it been trouble free? No. On average, about once every six months, we get someone who only brings negativity, drama, or rudeness to the group. Then I need to step in to bring down the hammer and remove that person. But that’s taught me something interesting, because in the process I learned that one reason some of these groups don’t last long is that the leaders are afraid to be confrontational and stand up to jerks. So, even on those days where I come up short on people skills, not being afraid to stand up to someone disruptive has turned out to be a useful quality. Maybe being a leader includes being a bouncer if needed.

In other news, a few people said nice things about my recent writings as I’ve workshopped them and performed them at various readings. Some people said my favorite three words: “I love Mags”, which at this point in my life means more to me than if someone were to say they love me. I’m way too into my fictional leading lady of the asteroid belt, so it’s nice when people dig her. Then, a few others said they loved my poetry.

I mention it because these things always surprise me. I just write stuff because I need to write it, or because I need to assemble words in a way that makes me happy and satisfied. Back in my 20s, I got used to no one giving much of a damn about my weird artistic hobbies. Now, when something I made connects with people, I’m basically stunned. I think, “Really? You liked it, too?” It’s the kind of thing that makes me think I should get over being a reclusive bachelor and maybe try to reach a wider audience. Then I think, “Yeah, that might be nice. But really, I just want to finish my next story.” The creation is the fun part for me.

Last month I got a request to use a photo from this blog in a magazine that is interviewing one of my art heroes: Steve Rude. Steve, among other notable accomplishments, was the co-creator of Nexus and the penciller on most of the Nexus issues I absolutely love, even if this blog takes its name from an issue he did not draw. The magazine wanted to use one of my photographs of the Nexus flexi-disc, and I basically told them, “Hell yes, you can use it! And HAIL NEXUS!” I look forward to when that interview issue goes into print, so I can share it with you here.

What else has gone right this quarter? Thanks to readers clicking through my affiliate links, I got enough Amazon store credit to buy some toner cartridges, which are so bloody expensive, and that meant I could keep printing copies of stuff to take to workshop so I can improve as a writer. I also got a little store credit at MyComicShop, but I am waiting to redeem it until I get moved into the new Martian HQ. Thank you, readers, in a big way, because when you make purchases after clicking any of the thousands of comic book, books, and music links in this blog, it’s a lot like sending me a tip. It’s a way of saying, “Thank you, Mars Will Send No More!” And it really makes my day.

A few people contacted me this quarter to ask about a rare and out-of-print Ry Cooder disc that was never made available in the States. This doesn’t happen often—maybe once every couple of months, on average. I keep expecting Ry to send me a nasty email saying, “Stop giving out your mp3 rips of my damn disc,” but it hasn’t happened yet. Instead, a few times a year, I get a chance to connect someone with these wonderful music recordings that are simply not available in my country. Ideally, the album would be put back into print or made available digitally. I don’t know why that hasn’t happened yet, because the album is awesome, and more people in my country should have a chance to enjoy it. Those who ask about it are always super nice, too, and they usually send me grateful follow-up emails saying the album is indeed bloody awesome. It makes me happy to know they enjoyed it.

In my secret identity, I’ve helped several people this quarter get their books in print by contributing editing, design, and self-publishing guidance. Those authors have been incredibly generous in referring others to me so I can build new relationships. My marketing budget is virtually zero, and I survive because of word-of-mouth based on the positive experiences authors have with me. If I am struggling through a challenging week, and then I get an email from one of my authors who tells their friend or colleague how much they loved working with me, it brightens my day.

Just between you and me, I’ve had many jobs where every time the phone rang, I would have rather had a root canal than answer that call. But now that I work with authors who are passionate about making books, I look forward to talking with them. I’ve had stressful days this year where it was a glorious relief to just take a break for an hour or two and talk to someone about creating a book! I love it.

I also got accepted into a second Master degree program thanks to my incredible advisor who smoothed out more paperwork snafus than any advisor should need to. After years of suffering through advisors who seemed hell-bent on either giving me no information or actively giving me the wrong information, I’ve now got one who—get this—actually advises me. It’s amazing! So, on the academic and business frontlines, things are looking good for the next two quarters.

If you made it this far into the post, you’ve digested my 1000 words for the day, and I thank you for dropping by, commenting, liking posts, contributing to discussions of comic books and art, clicking through affiliate links, and being among the coolest bunch of readers a guy could ask for. I wish you all the best for the next quarter, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

in search of the monster riff

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These three audio collages are comprised of song samples chopped up, layered, and re-arranged using only the free software Audacity. They were inspired by an old friend who made mix tapes in the 1980s (and more recently, mix CDs) by stringing together only the most awesome few seconds of each of 99 songs.

My versions of that idea are relentless assaults of drum fills, guitar riffs, screams, beats, memorable lines, and other madness arranged in a way that might only make sense to me but which you might also find kind of groovy.

Click the titles to listen to the mp3 files. Download them if you like.

In Search of the Monster Riff #1

In Search of the Monster Riff #2

In Search of the Monster Riff #3