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MICHAEL JACKSON, FARRAH FAWCETT, BILLY MAYS, WHAT THE HELL!

Hey all,

Alright, I guess I'll go ahead and chime in on the death of Michael Jackson...While never a huge fan of his music I did enjoy many of his songs. Particularly the old Jackson 5 hits and more recently I thought Man In The Mirror was fantastic. And, yeah, like 20 kazillion other people I had a copy of Thriller--and I loved it.

And I did actually have a face-to-face (so to speak) with Michael Jackson once! Bizarre but true story here folks...I was at the Mall Of America up in Minnesota doing a book signing at a children's bookstore, signing copies of the "Milo" books I illustrated, when in walks this person with the surgical mask, scarf over their head and some very ornate clothing. At first I think "be discreet, it's obviously a burn victim." And then they get three feet away and we make eye contact. It's frikkin' Michael Jackson! The eyes! It's his eyes! I quickly look around the store as the possibility of it being him races through my mind at light speed! Then I see them!--The bodyguards standing at the entrance of the store and I know that I'm right! I must have reacted because he immediately recognized that I recognized and he picked up his pace, did a quick browse through the store and headed out before he thought I'd blurt out his name or something. I wouldn't have, but I'm guessing it happened to the guy a lot. So I quickly babble to my partner, Craig Ploetz, that I just saw Michael Jackson and we slyly shuffle off behind him and watch as he and his small entourage move away through the crowd.

Was kinda cool.

So when I heard that Michael died suddenly last Thursday I, like may others, was stunned. Not shocked, mind you, but stunned. I mean, honestly, did any of us expect Michael to die of old age-- a comfortable, peaceful passing at the age of 97? I don't think you'll find too many people who'll honestly say, yes to that. This is a sad, tragic, expected outcome in a very sad, tragic life.

Did I know the guy? How can I say that he was sad? I think that's a fairly obvious statement. Obviously Michael had issues. Insecurities. And I'm one of the many who doesn't buy that he molested any kids. I mean he may have, I don't know for sure, but I think he was more likely just an easy target because of his weirdness and a few greedy golddiggers went after him. Yep, he was kooky, he was a bit crazy, and he definitely made his share of mistakes--the baby dangling makes me cringe every time I see it--THAT was his coup de grace as far as the mistakes the guy made.

But he was also a genius. I think his body of work makes that statement undeniable.

Like Elvis, his death will only make him an even bigger pop icon. Bigger in death than in life. No doubt about it.

And we're only 6 days in folks...the circus surrounding his death is just getting started. Wait'll the vultures start descending on the estate. And those poor kids. Yeesh, it's going to get U-G-L-Y!!!

Farrah Fawcett's death was sadly overshadowed when MJ passed away mere hours later. Again, never a huge fan but I did watch Charlie's Angles as a young lad and every time I went to K-Mart I'd go over and flip through those posters and take a good long pause looking at that one of Farrah! Yeah...you know what I'm talking about. Shazam!

A sexy lady. No doubt. And I admire the way she held her dignity while all the tabloids and "comedians" made their insensitive comments. The lady deserved a better send off that's for sure.

Billy Mays. Sheesh. A bad week for entertainers. Poor guy apparently had heart disease. Although he was also apparently hit on the head earlier that day when a plane he was traveling on had a somewhat rough landing and one of the overhead doors struck him on the head. Don't know if that's related to his passing but don't mess around with head injuries folks. Take it from a dude who's had several concussions--go see your doctor asap.

Any time...it can grab you at any time. Death. So the lesson I take from all of this is to hug my daughter extra each day and take even more time to play with her than I usually do--and trust me, she wasn't getting cheated before. Problem is i get so verklemfpt every time something like this happens pretty soon I'm not gonna get ANY work done at all.

Eh, money or Stella time? Easy decision, folks...I guess there won't be any vultures descending on my estate.

Word.

R

LOTS O' STUFF!

Hey True Believers!

Been quite a while since I last espoused my opinions, observations and general bitches. Lots of stuff has happened since my last installment so here we go...

STAR TREK. Yes, it rocked! Solid "A." I'll assume most of you have seen this by now (those that matter anyway! If you haven't you just suck) so I'm not going to worry about spoiling anything for anyone. From the first five minutes I knew this movie was going to be absolutely perfect and it was. JJ Abrams not only captured the "essence" of Roddenberry's Trek--his vision--but he also managed to give us a fresh take on the franchise. How? By creating an alternate universe where he can now take the characters in a whole new direction. Spock HAS emotion and isn't afraid to show it! At least show a little bit of it--and don't piss him off. Kirk's an orphan--his father the earliest victim of this new reality. So he's even a bit more of a cavalier rebel than the previous incarnation was. Uhura is HOT!!! And her and Spock are doing the deed.

And not only are we seeing some great new direction with the characters but the story, action and special effects were all knocked out of the park. Abrams direction of the massive battles in space were the best I've ever seen. The way they cut from a noisy, chaotic interior shot to a spacious, noiseless exterior that was massive in scope and impact?...Best I've ever seen. It bears repeating. Trust me.

This was, by far, the best of the Star Trek bunch. And Sandy and I are huge Trek fans. And the masterstroke of creating this "alternate reality version" should leave every fan tickled pink, even the most ardent, hardcore Trekkie. Now we all get to enjoy this brand new playground and not have to worry about messing up any continuity, do we? Anything goes!!! Wa-HOOOO!!!!

Contrarily...Night At The Museum 2. S-U-C-K-E-D. S-U-U-U-U-C-K-E-D!!!!! This was the worst sequel I've seen since Phantom Menace and maybe the third worst ever behind the aforementioned Phantom Menace and Highlander 2...Okay, Batman & Robin blew ass too, but this turd ranks Top 4 or 5 easy.

Not. Funny. At. All.

The story sucked, the premise sucked, the jokes sucked, the acting sucked...I think you get the picture.

This was a huge disappointment since the first NATM movie was really good. We looked forward to seeing this as a good family film to see with our 7-year-old. Not. And the most disappointing part was that the actors didn't really seem to be into the movie at all. The trod out the same jokes as the first movie--Owen Wilson must have called Ben Stiller's character "Gigantor" 12 times in this movie. Stopped being funny 3/4s of the way through the first one. Stiller also had three or four of the "classic Ben Stiller argument scenes" where he and the antagonist bicker back-and-forth exchanging verbal volleys that just end up going round and round in futile, exasperating circles and the audience just can't help but chuckle, giggle, chortle and titter helplessly as they watch this silly exchange...Sadly, though I am a fan of Stiller when he's good and the movie's well written, these scenes in this movie fell very, very, very flat. They seemed forced and pointless and meandered on and on. Much like this review.

The movie sucked. Save 40 bucks. We, as a family, gave it a "D-." The ONLY good thing was seeing Amy Adams in those tight tan pants.

SUPER-CON, San Jose! Had a great time at the Super-Con and many thanks must go out to the convention organizers! I got drunk, ate well, spent a nice weekend with my friends Johnnie and Katie Arnold and narrowly avoided vomiting on the plane while flying over the turbulent Rocky Mountains. So a Grade "A" trip.

OUR FREAKING ROOF IS FINALLY FIXED!!! Yes, after one full year, almost to the day, and about 7 different roofers, we finally have a roof that no longer leaks! Serenity now! M-M Roofing saved the day and all it cost us was another $2,000. And worth every penny to finally have the peace of mind at night when the sound of distant, rumbling thunder is heard on the horizon. So the house is officially "On The Market" if anyone's interested. And it is up to snuff lemme tell you. New roof, new paint job, kitchen, bath...we did a shiznitload of remodeling on this palace and are proud to display it to all interested parties.

Saw the Titanic exhibit when it was here in Milwaukee. Not ashamed to admit that I got choked up on more than one occasion as I perused the exhibit and read about the lives that were lost--the heroism that was shown by so many that sad night. I tell you, the story's almost 100 years old and we've all heard it a hundred times, but when you see those artifacts up close and personal it hits you like a ton of bricks right in the soft spot. I had to choke back the tears a few times. If the exhibit comes to a town near you I highly recommend it. And we also saw the Cameron movie on the IMAX that same day, Ghosts Of The Abyss. Very interesting, very well done. And Bill Paxton's in it and his raw, unrehearsed reactions to diving down those 8-9,000 feet are priceless! See the exhibit then see the film if possible.

Other than that I'll be attending Comic-Con International next month so be there or be square. I'll be nestled amongst the hundreds of other talented artists in Artists Alley.

ALSO! The Brazilian version of THREE FINGERS recently came out! Very cool. And if you didn't see the "trailer" they put together and posted on YouTube check it out. I was alerted by my good pal Rik Offenberger over at Archie one day that he "saw my trailer on YouTube" and had absolutely no idea to what he referred. So I click on the link and watch what I think, at first, must be some ambitious fan's tribute to the book. I also take not that the text that occasionally pops up is written in a language that I do not speak so my confusion only increases as I watch on. Then it ends and a name pops up and a bell rings in my head! I remember signing a foreign publishing rights deal a good year back and it dawns on me that this must be that pub. So I write to the email address and Voila! I get an almost immediate response from the Brazilian publisher that, yes indeed, it was they who posted the trailer.

Check it out. It delighted the hell out of me...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOvHKRK-pn0

Word.

R

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