Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Friend Killed Herself - Suicide + Mental Illness

friend killed herself Monday night.  We had just seen her over
the weekend at a convention.  There were no warning signs.
She was always a positive person.  She had starred in a bunch of
local films.  She had a great job that she loved working as a
studio director and DJ at a local radio station (she loved music).
Life seemed to be going well for her.  She bought stuff at the
con, got a pic with a celeb, was making plans for later in the week.
Had messaged a couple other people to get together.  None of
these are the usual activities of someone in a suicidal state.

went hiking with her besties Monday morning.  Then Monday night
there was a post on Facebook that simply said, "I am done"
and she killed herself.

didn't know her well enough to know if there were hidden demons.
I've had family members with bi-polar disorder, and from the outside
it looks an awful lot like that, because that tends to be a genetic,
biological illness, a literal chemical imbalance.  You can have
the greatest life, friends, family, job you love, no stress, no money
worries, and still suffer from manic depression.

seems like she was on a great streak, but when the illness struck on
Monday night it hit her hard, too hard for her to fight back, and
dropped her into that dark pit of despair and hopelessness.

you suffer from bouts of depression, especially sharp declines and
ones that include suicidal thoughts, I urge you to seek help.  Even
just talking about it, how you feel, what you fear, can go great
lengths to easing your mind. 

from my little black heart.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Disney + Cthulhu

Disney + Cthulhu

You knew it was coming.  In an age of mashups, if you hadn't seen them already, it was only a matter of time before the two cosmic horrors of Disney and Cthulhu collided.  Ursula from The Little Mermaid and Davy Jones from The Pirates of the Caribbean are two very obvious, already existing nods to H. P. Lovecraft and his most famous, tentacled creation.  But those are easy ones.  Even my young daughter noticed, saying, "Ursula is Cthulhu's sister."  But have you seen the others?

This is Duckthulu from the official Disney comic of Darkwing Duck.

Not sure what exactly is going on here, but it can't be good.

Then come the mashups.

 Ursula meets Cthulhu by charneco

by Keith "Streetsweeper" Portzen

 The Little Cthulhu by Captain Ribman

by Alex "Shin" Trombetta

Mickthulu Mouse by Beastpop (Popmonkey)

Silly Nameless Terror from the Goon Comic by Eric Powell

 Cthulahula by ZombieMedia
this is a parody of vintage Hula Minnie Mouse

by Pahko Moreno

Call of Kerthulhu by Winter Artwork
(The Muppets are now owned by Disney)

 My Neighbor Cthulhu by Murrills81
The classic anime style was inspired by Walt Disney's work
and Disney did redub and redistribute My Neighbor Totoro

Totoro Cthulhu by Crabro

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2
based on the Marvel comics title of the same name
Marvel is now owned by Disney

Eldritch! is a digital comic definitely worth a mention!
Though this comic is not directly Disney related, it's creator Drew Rausch has quite the Cthulhu and Disney resume':  Drew Rausch (Cthulhu Tales, Disney's Haunted Mansion) and Aaron Alexovich (Fables, Confessions of a Blabbermouth, Avatar:  The Last Airbender). 

I figured I'd throw in a couple of my own.

I can't believe no one ever thought to replace Mickey Mouse with Brown Jenkin before!

And it would seem that most religions have some sort of silly hat.
So I made this one for the First United Church of Cthulhu.
Necronomicap?  NecronomiEars?  Mickeynomicon?

Dangerous Worlds - steampunk music

Dangerous Worlds – the steampunk band that never was from a past that never was. Sometimes things just don't work out. Steampunk music. It seemed like a nice change of pace from the intense days of my earlier industrial punk band Crowd Violence (ataricore noiserock is go!) A simple three piece of strings-drums-vox. I even had a Tesla coil so I could play some electrifying surf rock for a finale. Turns out the coil builder was a good fabricator but not a good engineer. Thing never worked properly beyond playing happy birthday and a few other tunes via midi, and even half of those were messed up because of bad channel interface. And none of my local mad scientists had the know-how to bring it back to life. Sad, sad.

After hitting up all the classical (violin, cello) strings players I could find, some 40+, and being unfruitful in my pursuit, I turned to my other passions, such as writing steampunk horror novels like Chainsaw Alice in Wonderland or starting an officially recognized religion to the dark gods via the First United Church of Cthulhu. But I will always be a musician. At my root, that is who I am. I listen, play or sing every single day and will until I die. You can't stop rock and roll.

And hey! I've heard a lot worse at some of the steampunk conventions. And they were getting paid! So if you'd like to pay me to never sing again, feel free to donate generously via Paypal. And let's face it, steampunk needs a little more punk and a little less robots playing PBS kids show tunes or pompous assholes who think they invented the subsubgenre. You are not a rockstar! You're playing in the Montana Room at the Holiday Inn at an old-timey sci-fi convention. Get over yourself. Fuckin' amateurs.

Was feeling a bit nostalgic for the good old days of performing and hitting the local music scene five nights a week, so after a show and still inebriated I recorded some lyrics. This was the only one that made it through without slurring, laughing, or forgetting some of the words. Bathroom acoustics are not everything they're cracked up to be.

And trug is an obsolete obscenity. Maybe I'll see you down at the trugging house.


In an armored zeppelin, baby, don’t you know that I’ll always love you
In an armored zeppelin, baby, don’t you know that I’ll always be true
In an armored zeppelin, baby, come and take a ride
In an armored zeppelin, baby, it’ll all be alright

Been a long time since I flew in the moonlight
Been a long time since my airship took flight
Been a long time, been a long time,

Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time, yes it has

I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
Don’t you understand?

I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
Don’t you understand?

No GTA today! No GTA today! No GTA today! No GTA today!
Grand Theft Airship

No GTA today! No GTA today! No GTA today! No GTA today!

Air pirates trug off!
Air pirates trug off!
Air pirates trug off!
Air pirates trug off!

No GTA today! No GTA today! No GTA today! No GTA today!

I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
I got my head in the clouds and my heart in your hands
Don’t you understand?

Sometimes I can't sleep. . .so I sing! Or perform an entire concert, in my bedroom. This time I actually recorded it. And not drunk this time, just suffering from terrible insomnia. The song is based on true stories. This is actual advice I received from my young daughter, and YES! I still do stupid things for pretty girls.

My neighbors are all good people so I decided it best not use the actual drum kit for this one. Bedroll drumroll. And check out that rock face! Jack Black would be proud. Can you find the pictures of the dead Victorian family members and the idol of Cthulhu in the background? And the Tesla shirt, naturally.


My daughter said Daddy, “No more bad girls, you can only kiss a princess.”
But I need some help to save me from myself
Cause you know I can’t resist ‘em!

You’re no princess! You’re no princess! You’re no princess!

You’re no princess! You’re no princess! You’re no princess!

And I think I like it

These Vicki chicks come equipped

I do
Stupid things for pretty girls
Stupid things for pretty girls
Stupid things for pretty girls
Stupid things for pretty girls

Stupid things for pretty girls
Stupid things for pretty girls
Stupid things for pretty girls
Stupid things for pretty girls

You’re no princess! You’re no princess! You’re no princess!

You’re no princess! You’re no princess! You’re no princess!

And I think I like it

Saloon girls are people, too
Saloon girls are people, too
Saloon girls are people, too
Yes I’m gonna make love to you

You’re no princess! You’re no princess! You’re no princess!

You’re no princess! You’re no princess! You’re no princess!

And I think I like it

Deaths come in threes, right? Well so does shitty steampunk music. And if it's not apparent, I may have drums but I am not a drummer.

What exactly was Doctor Moreau making on that island of his?

Party animals.


I wanna kiss you on the velvet sofa
Let my lovin' take you over
Why don't you slip a gin jacket on
We'll keep it going 'til the break of dawn

I wanna be where the wild things are
Have a good time and get a few scars
Come on, baby! Show me your claws
I wanna be where the wild things are

A little brown sugar on the tip of your tongue
Come with me, the night is still young
This is the plight of the working class
The king is dead and Vicki is a gas

I wanna be where the wild things are
Have a good time and get a few scars
Come on, baby! Show me your claws
I wanna be where the wild things are

Come on! Come on! Come on! Wild thing
Come on! Come on! Come on! Wild thing
Come on! Come on! Come on! Wild thing
Yeah! Yeah! Yea-ah!

Come on! Come on! Come on! Wild thing
Come on! Come on! Come on! Wild thing
Come on! Come on! Come on! Wild thing
Yeah! Yeah! Yea-ah!

I wanna be where the wild things are
Have a good time and get a few scars
Come on, baby! Show me your claws
I wanna be, where you are

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Free Comic Book Day - Phoenix, AZ

Free Comic Book Day is the 1st Saturday in May.  That can be bad news here in Phoenix, Arizona because the weather starts hitting 100 degrees by then, which it did this year, or at least the 90s.  So here's a rundown of the westside of the Valley of the Sun.  I didn't have my kids this weekend, and their mom never takes them, so my daughter gave me a mission to bring back any and all Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn free comics.  I would succeed!  Sadly though, no Harley in any of the books this year.

Love the store.  Great people.  They have more of a little festival with fun activities for the kids and boasts over 40 tables of artists, crafts and community clubs which is inside the American Legion Hall.  It is very organized, they even had laminated print outs with pictures of the covers of all the free comics that they had so people could think about which ones they wanted beforehand.  Very thoughtful and efficient.

The main problem is that the line to get inside the Legion hall backs up real quick.  I arrived at the 9am opening and there was already a line which took about 20 minutes of waiting to get inside.  They have some shade canopies set up.  But there is a big dead spot of standing in the direct sun between the canopies and the front of the building where the line extends to back into the morning shade (even less shade once noontime rolls around).

As you enter the first room in the hall you get to pick out your 3 free comics, plus they had some buttons and other different extras you could choose from.  They had a good stock of the free comics but were already out of a few of the more popular titles like Rick & Morty.  But the problem is that everything backs up in the next, bigger Legion hall room where all the vendors are located.  We're only 20 minutes into the day and the room is already packed.  I got my comics and got out because it was already difficult to move down the rows.

It was the same way last year and I ended up not going in then because just the line waiting to go inside was wrapped around the corner and down the street.  I wasn't going to wait 1-2 hours to get a few free comics.

So I probably won't bother to check them out on Free Comic Book Day anymore.

They moved to a much bigger store a year or two ago, and it was a wise decision.  The free comics were in an open area at the back of the store so there was a lot of good flow as everyone moved around the tables to pick out their comics.  And an extremely wise business move - they offered 10 free comics.  In addition to the full stock of the standard Free Comic Book Day titles they included a wide host of other comics for free.  Some were back issues that were never going to sell, obscure titles from smaller or independent publishers.  Some were back issues from series that failed.  Had a bunch of Marvel's Civil War II titles; I browsed through some of the comic books and realized why they hadn't sold - what a boring series!  Some great covers but the inside was full of civil but hardly any war.  Lots and lots of nothing going on.  But they also had some more current back issues available for free.  Wisely, there was a fair amount of Rocket Raccoon/Guardians of the Galaxy issues scattered around the tables.  And all those back issues that no one would buy can be written of as a loss or as a promotional expense for tax purposes.  Good planning.

Once again, love the store, great people.  But they had a 1 free comic limit.  Unless you bought $5 or more of their regular stock, or made a $5 donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, then you could pick out another 5 of the free comics.  Or if you bought $25 worth of the specially priced $0.99 titles then you could pick out 25 of the free comics also.

Too much of a hassle, and kind of a hustle, so I didn't even bother to stop in.

SAMURAI COMICS - Phoenix location
Place was packed!  They had the free comic books set up at tables toward the middle of the store, there was a good traffic flow despite the crowd.  They allowed 3 free comics and they had the full selection of Free Comic Book Day titles.  I even picked up the free one for The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess which was already out or not at the other two stores.  Which was lucky for me because my son loves Link.  I was happy to see that there was a massive increase in the number of comics that would appeal to little girls my daughter's age (Monster High, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wonder Woman, DC Superhero Girls) but not that many that he would have picked out.  He would have said "meh" to a majority of the free titles this year.

And Samurai Comics was great proof that you don't need any extra gimmicks.  Yes, people were in picking up only free comics, but a majority of the crowd was in one of several lines to buy other comics or geeky items they had discovered.  So Free Comic Book Day was a success in exposing people to the wider world of comic geekdom.

I myself only got the free titles on this specific adventure because I already picked up the new Scooby Apocalypse issue last week and none of the stores had the Disney Haunted Mansion graphic novels that I've been looking to pick up.  I always try to support local before turning online.

I would declare Jesse James the best of the westside for Free Comic Book Day in Phoenix.
But we're all winners - because we got free comics!  Hurray!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

What REALLY happened to Doctor Steel?

What REALLY happened to Doctor Steel?

Doctor Steel's retirement has always been shrouded with questions and concerns. Was it really some legal debacle that broke him? Was it all the Doctor Horrible hullabaloo? Did Universal Pictures and the Will Ferrell Land of the Lost film come after him for the illegal use of sampling in Doctor Steel's “Land of the Lost” song? Was the pressure of being a mad scientist, world conqueror, and rising music star too much for him? Was it the Alien Illuminati? As it turns out, it was none of these.  And the reality goes far beyond his cryptic retirement letter.

After announcing his retirement in 2011, he wrote an explanation letter to Commander Jet of the Toy Soldiers (his group of loyal followers – calling it a fan club just doesn't do justice to the wonderful community that was created around the persona of Doctor Steel). She chose to publish the letter so that all the toy soldiers could read it. Here is a transcript of the letter:

Dear Jet,
2012 is here. The end of the world? We just don't know yet. Flashes in the sky. Holograms? The answers aren't showing themselves. In any case the end of my world has manifested. I have been gone and I shall continue to be gone. Rest assured that it was no easy decision. But under the circumstances it was the only decision. Blacklisted, betrayed. Strong words? Too dramatic? “Life is a stage” and I the act which has been canceled. With nothing but the kindred spirits of the Toy Soldiers. The shared vision of creativity and fun. You were the only delight in recent times. Still, my experiences have woven a tapestry of complications which have forced me to disappear. I cannot offer a complete explanation for a variety of reasons but I felt obligated to send you a note in an attempt to convey my appreciation. You have had faith. You have made a difference. You have seen the importance. While my experience has left me drained of my finances and my privacy. Robbed of my creativity, passion, and so many years of my life. I only hope that a spark remains in you all. An idea is immortal.

The business at hand. The wasted energy for the invented rules of the system demands one final task of me. Having recently endured the experience, the ritual of closing down my company, I have removed all aspects of the associated business. Websites, products, and otherwise. My “advisers” indicated that even Toy Soldiers Unite be destroyed. I cannot allow this to happen. I am now powerless but I am, fortunately, not in possession of Toy Soldiers Unite!

I am certain that many of you have a variety of opinions regarding my slip into silence. I can ask nothing from you but mutual respect. I wish great happiness for the Toy Soldiers. I always have. There was so much I wanted to give you. So many ideas which were unable to manifest into reality. It has destroyed a very cherished part of me. This chapter is over. This chapter is closed. The universe has swallowed up those opportunities and I am no longer compatible on this frequency. I search now only for peace and quiet.

If things had been different, I would have given you the gift of your very own robot. It could have been a reality. I do believe that. I am not mad. Only perhaps a creative who has been immersed in the bureaucracy of his own demise for too long. I must rest now. I thank you for your understanding.

May all of your ideas find wings.

No longer,
Doctor Steel

Some of you are probably familiar with Kato, the popular steampunk fashion designer and cosplayer, often referred to as “the supermodel of steampunk.” She was the originator of the Toy Soldiers and had been in a relationship with Doctor Steel. The relationship did not go well.

Back in October 2016, Kato, real name Kate Lambert, discovered the Toy Soldiers Unite group on Facebook. Here is her initial post in the group:

Look at that, 10 years. I was just a 22 year old kid, obsessed with this musician who was aiming to do so much more than just music. I agreed with his message and felt empowered to do something out of pure passion, “just for fun.” I had never been part of a “fan club” let alone created one before but from a few scribbles in my note book, to launching a bad ass website a few months later, it turned into a refined monster of 36,000 registered members and took up every second of my day; enlisting, posting, monitoring, mailing out Soldier packs, filming webisodes, answering questions, banning douchebags, putting out fire after fire, laughing, crying, and feeling loved and appreciated.

I haven't posted in this group before because I wasn't really on Facebook around the time he was throwing the towel in and we were having some of the biggest blowouts over his decision that our relationship had ever seen. A huge part of my soul, along with hundreds of other Toy Soldiers', was crushed that day and I never got it back. The deep, cold sadness that I felt every time I saw some TSU symbolism or was asked for the millionth time “aren't you married to Dr. Steel?” was painful and deflating mixed with utter loneliness from him forbidding me to ever talk about it or process any of the emotions of having dedicated 6 years of my life and thousands of dollars to someone else's dream for not even a “thank you.”

. . .then today, I stumbled across this group. I scrolled and scrolled and looked at the amount of support and dedication that still remains after all this time and for the first time in ten years, I got a little piece of my soul back as I realized that it wasn't all for nothing and, even if there were just 5 people left who had come together because of this and are making each other laugh and meeting up for drinks, then that stands for at least something.

I am beyond proud of those who've kept heart and positive energy against the odds and without a focal figure. I'm especially proud of Dutch and JET. You guys are owed, all of you. I tried to even bribe him back at the beginning of last year but I was up against complete disinterest and selfishness. His intentions weren't good or true and his real feelings toward those who loved and supported him were pretty insulting. If I can give something more to you guys, I will. You're good people.

I am sorry if anyone feels like I abandoned them. He forbid me from dedicating any more of my time to the army that I fucking created, as well as forbidding me from having a social circle and ultimately a life. All that mattered to him was that I continued to work my ass off for him on projects that didn't require him having to lift a finger while he sat back and abused my bank account and our relationship. The illusion was great, but in reality, I wouldn't wish to have a person like that back at the helm.

I am open to answering questions that some of you may have, especially those of you who unfortunately fell fool to rumors that trolls have fabricated about me. It's easy to believe shit we read on the internet about people we've never met, so I forgive those of you who did and want you to know that I don't judge you for it.

A very interesting look at the man behind the curtain, but that didn't answer the question, “What REALLY happened to Doctor Steel?” And she specifically wrote that she was “open to answering questions.”

Of course, some of the more namby-pamby group members were all, “No. Let her be.”

Fuck that. She offered, so I asked, “What's the real reason he bailed out? The speculation is insane.”

Her answer:

There are a ton of petty reasons but the baseline is this: He didn't enjoy performing live, ever, and he wasn't making a financial return from what he'd put into it at that point. EVERYONE fucking knows that the music industry takes some serious SERIOUS bloody legwork to get there and start profiting but he's an over-entitled brat with zero patience and didn't want to put in any more time or effort despite being right on the cusp and having a lady financially taking care of him.

So there you have it, from the person who was closest to him.

One monkey-avatared toy soldier summed it up best, “We moved from following an idol to following an ideal. Something that allowed us to focus more on each other and help each other improve on so much more. And I may have joined after the split, but I think enough would agree with me that the split might have been the best thing for the TSU even if it meant losing a lot of members.”

The following is a copy of Doctor Steel's original retirement letter and screen caps of Kato's initial post on the Toy Soldiers Unite group page as well as her answer to my question.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Steampunk Heaven - Smitty's Antique Museum, Mayer AZ

Steampunk heaven.  No other way to describe it.

Smitty's Antique Museum in Mayer, Arizona (formerly known as Smitty's Big Barn of Antiques and Collectibles) looks like any other roadside knick-knack stop along the highways of America - from the outside.  But once you step inside, it has the largest selection of some of the rarest, and highest quality, antiques I have ever seen.  It is by far the best place in Arizona.  I have never seen a collection of items so vast in my life.  They put all the spoiled Richie Rich spots like Scottsdale and Paradise Valley to shame.

When I stepped inside the phonograph room I fell in love.  And this picture is just of one half of the room.  I couldn't fit the other wall or the ones beside me into the picture.  And the host of upright record players in the front room.  And the next room full of vintage radios that have to be around 100 years old.  And all the Victorian furniture.  I should have taken more pictures.  Especially of the big collection of vintage hand-cranked wall phones and the giant, ancient, industrial switching board.

"Smitty's store, perched on the Big Bug Creek in Mayer, features 13 rooms, 30,000 sq. ft., filled with 10,000 items encompassing everything one can imagine - figurines from Hummel to Precious Moments, autographed cereal boxes, clocks tiny to grandfather, slot machines, lamps and neon bar lights, furniture, including an interesting set made of cow skin and horns, pedal cars, model cars and Matchbox cars, Coca Cola memorabilia, pinball machines, music makers of every kind, fine china and glassware, silverware, and, well, you get the picture. There is not enough time in a day for a person to see everything - the place is an antique overload." --Daily Courier, Prescott AZ

It can be hard to see the exit from the highway, as Smitty's literally sits lower than the Big Bug Creek overpass.  But they have some tables and chairs set up below the overpass next to creek (one with real, running water - something you don't always find in Arizona) which made for a nice rest stop and the kids loved looking for "cool rocks" and playing in the creek.

It's a hidden steampunk paradise that is only about an hour and ten minutes north of Phoenix.  Even if you can't afford to buy anything it's well worth the day trip to pay them a visit a see all the incredible antiques they have.  It is truly like stepping back into a bygone era.

Smitty's Antique Museum
11135 S State Rt 69
Mayer, AZ 86333