Wednesday, July 05, 2006

You Remember Yesterday, When Marge and Steve Were Aloft in a Balloon...

You may recall that Marge and I were up in a hot-air balloon over Quechee VT, looking down on the fairgrounds below...

Hey, sure you do!

We'll be right to that...

But first -- before I conclude that exciting adventure -- I have got to post my suggestion for how President George Bush and Condi Rice can pull our bully-boy fat out of the fire with the harrowing North Korean missile-firing debacle so fresh in all our minds!

OK, so the missile with Alaska's name on it only lasted 40 seconds before spiking into the Sea of Japan. Unless it hits Godzilla and reawakens him, this current shitstorm may be temporarily abated, but let's face it:

George Dubya and Condi really haven't handled this situation well at all. With typically abysmal and worst-than-maladroit lack of any diplomacy skills, they've steadfastly refused to treat North Korea or its fearless leader Kim Jong-il as anything but a radioactive bag of dung. No wonder Kim is pissed off, ignoring us, and firing nuclear test missiles off at whim.

Seriously, though, I know how our President and his lovely, talented gap-toothed sidekick can rectify and probably even turn around this situation. Listen up, please! I implore you!

It's well known that President Bush displayed a rare fit of empathic diplomacy last week by gracing Graceland with the presence of his never-humble self and visiting Japanese dignitary and prime minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Being a rabid Elvis lover, Prime Minister Koizumi was all shook up with joy, slipping on Elvis's supersized tinted gold-rimmed glasses and crooning tunes like "Love Me Tender" and a pack of others before Priscilla Presley belted out, "We need a karaoke machine!"

It was a rare instance of good-ol'-boy diplomacy actually working, a triumph of personal outreach from frat-boy George and his "our way or the highway" circle of plutocrats.

Now, work with me, George, and listen up good.

You done good.

You done real good.

Now it's time to apply that same slicker-than-snot-on-a-doorknob American charm to the North Korean situation.

I don't care if you don't like Kim Jong-il, or if he was the villain in Team America.

You gotta get down with Kim the same way you did with Prime Minister Koizumi, and you gotta lay into this using the same kinda folksy pop culture common ground -- but you can't just go back to Graceland. You've got to tap into something that matters to Kim.

It's well known that Kim Jong-il absolutely loooooooooooves movies.

Hell, in 1978 Kim loved South Korean director Shin Sang-ok's movies so dang much that he up and kidnapped Shin and Shin's wife (herself a big star in South Korean cinema) and made Shin make movies just for Kim! (They finally escaped in 1986, BTW, but that's another story.)

That's a powerful love, Dubya, and the grounds for innovative diplomacy.

Now, I'm not suggesting you kidnap Hollywood directors and deport 'em to North Korea, or start White House screenings of Shin's made-for-Kim Godzilla knockoff Pulgasari, though that might not be a bad flourish to my brilliant plan for world peace and unprecedented harmony with North Korea for the first time since Former President Clinton left office and you and your cronies started callin' Kim names and treating him like toxic waste (mind you, axis-of-evil toxic waste at that).

No, I'm suggesting you follow up on the completely successful visit to Graceland by inviting Kim Jong-il to take a pause amid all the hostilities and make a visit to a sacred site in his love for all things cinematic:

Camp Crystal Lake.

George W., you should accompany Kim Jong-il on a no-holds-barred tour of the honest-to-Christ real-life Camp Crystal Lake -- that's right, the home of Jason Voorhees and his mom -- down in Blairstown, New Jersey.

See, that's where they filmed the first Friday the 13th.

I shit you not, George -- I mean, President Bush -- Kim would fucking crap himself with joy, and a whole new era of international diplomacy would begin.

See, Kim fucking looooooooooooooves movies, and he reportedly loooooooooooooooooooooooves the Friday the 13th movies more than anything.

So ya see, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco and the locations around Blairstown would be like Gorehound Graceland to ol' Kim, I shit you not. He'd fucking love it.

Hell, you're the most powerful man in the whole country, if not the world: you could arrange for a campfire sing-a-long, a cast reunion, maybe even a on-set recreation of the arrow-through-the-neck death of Kevin Bacon, with honest-to-God Kevin Bacon himself in that bunk, spitting up fake blood, and with Tom Savini under the bunk pumping the gore --

-- ah, shit, George, the only missile you'd have to worry about then from Kim would be the one poppin' in his trousers!

Really, President Bush, think about it.

Your numbers are in the toilet, you've shot your wad so badly with Iraq that you can't threaten Kim with jackshit and you know it.

You've got to reach out to the crazy l'il feller, and heck, what's a trip to Blairstown gonna cost? Other than a phone call to the Gov to make sure the power is turned on at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco long enough to entertain your visiting North Korean despo -- uh, dignitary?

C'mon, George, you know this could work.

Please, give it some thought.

Pull your head out of Dick Cheney's ass long enough to even consider the implications. C'mon, Karl, you know you can't just keep pushing the fear button to maintain control of the masses -- time to really push the envelope and think outside of the box and take the bull by the horns!

Take Kim to Camp Crystal Lake.

Let him shoot arrows into Bing Crosby's son, slit some throats, lop Betsy Palmer's head off with a shovel, sing around the campfire and toast some dogs and marshmallows, whisper "sskkkhhh, sskkkkhhhh, kill, kill" with all you good ol' Connecticut-born Texan dictator-types.

You could really bond over this, and save the world a lot of trouble.

I ain't kidding, neither.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

How It Was The Giant Bees Didn't Get Us; Or, The Green Slime Slavers Five Weeks in a Balloon; Or, This May Be Jules Verne, But How Did I Miss Being in a Ray Harryhausen Movie and End Up in an Irwin Allen Fiasco?, Part the Third (and Concluding)

You may recall that Marge and I were up in a hot-air balloon over Quechee VT, looking down on the scurrying ant-like mortals below...

...before our steadfast pilot Gary steered us ever-so-gracefully over the famous Quechee Gorge, stealthfully settling us nearer, nearer, nearer to the roaring white water below -- !!!!

Well, shit, then he boosted the gas jets, gave that multi-colored bulb of fabric a fresh blast of hot air, and up we went, away from the certain death awaiting us in the gorge and on up over the neighboring hills. As the twilight breezes carried us along, Gary quietly began scouting out a possible touchdown site. After all, sundown was upon us and night would soon settle -- by which time, we had to be on the ground and packing up, preferably in a location the chase truck could drive to!

As we drifted up and over a ridge, narrowly skirting the wind-waving tree limbs just below, I spotted a narrow clearing between two patches of wilderness. What caught my eye was a deer -- a doe, standing in the clearing. I pointed it out to Gary, and he patted my shoulder. "Good eye!" he said, "and not a bad spot to set down, if we can make it."

As luck and the winds would have it, we indeed made it. With uncanny skill, Gary nestled us in the very clearing the doe had been standing in mere minutes earlier. It turned out to be the furthest finger of a cleared pasture area extending from a farm, just south of White River Junction...

During the final descent, Gary announced that he was going to tap two of us on the shoulder just as we touched the ground. "I want you two to jump out of the basket," he said, "and you're going to tow us up over the ridge to that farm."

A minute or two later, just before our basket load of passengers kissed the grass ever so gently, Gary patted a strapping red-haired teenage fellow on the other side of the basket on the shoulder -- and then I felt Gary's meaty paw on my shoulder, too. Without hesitation, I jumped out of the basket and found the handholds on the side of the basket.

Hey, look, we're home free!

To make a long, sweaty, red-faced, "Oh Christ my pants are falling down" story short, the red-haired lad and I towed that motherfucking balloon almost half-a-mile over the crest of the field, wallowing through a stretch of green-tinged mud alongside a woodfall, all the way to the farmhouse yard. Gary artfully kept the basket and balloon just barely aloft and off the ground, tactfully firing up the gas ever so lightly as necessary, and we towed like slaveship rowers over and across the saturated stretch of uncut grass.

At one point, our sneakers began to slip and slide a bit as we arrived at a run of thick, bright-green slime. With the record-setting rains of May and June, the field was still wet, the ground soaked and spongy every step of the way. But this -- this green slime was something new. "What is this?" my fellow balloon-towing-mule said, drawing little comfort from my response: "It's algae, man, algae -- growing on the mud!" The water flow from the upper cut of the pasture by the treeline had been so steady during the rainy weeks that algae was growing, two inches thick, in ropey snot-like clots the length of the field! With our already-muddy sneakers sinking up to our ankles in this mucous-like growth, we managed to drag the balloon, basket, and fellow passengers up and over and on the rest of the quarter-mile to the farmhouse yard.

No one was there -- we made our haul, Gary touched us down and ordered everyone out of the basket, and he and his crew (who found us after some hit-and-miss driving via radio and cell phone contact) deflated the balloon, stretched and then folded the whole shebang up (with help from all of us at one point or another, as needed), and we made our way back to the Queechee fairground shortly after dark. It was a fun ride -- but man, was I sore the next day or two! Marge was happy and in heaven, though, so it was all worth it, right to the arduous haul-over-the-hill.

We arrived as the ceremonial "Balloon Glow" lighting of balloons was winding down -- we'd missed all but the last few minutes, but it was tres cool. The lights were flashing inside the balloons, casting eerie, eye-popping glows and bizarre nighttime shadows over one and all. One of the balloons was an outsized beagle, and Marge tried like hell to get a shot of it when lit from within, but she was about out of film and the lightshow was rapid-fire and waiting for no man, woman, or camera shutter.

It was an evening to remember, and we hope to do it again someday. Stay high, one and all!

[All photos copyright 2006 Marjory Bissette; please ask her permission for further use or go fly a kite.]

Slapping the Meat Loaf Till The Cows Come Home; Or, More Savory Links:

* My Canadian amigo and cartoonist extraordinaire Rob Walton is bringing his beloved (but too rarely read or appreciated) mid-1990s cult comic classic Ragmop to its too-long-delayed conclusion, and the completely revised, expanded and utterly definitive Ragmop graphic novel will be out before too long, sporting a loving introduction by yours truly. Some of you may remember my singing the praises of this hilarious satiric milestone in the pages of Tyrant, and I'll most definitely be getting into the particulars here in the coming weeks (including, with Rob's permission, posting some never-before-seen savage Walton cartoons here).

In the meantime, though, it behooves you all to pop right over to
  • The Slacker Asteroid,
  • where Rob has carved out a brand-new blog crater for himself. See you there!

    This, then, explains somewhat the ongoing Ragmop quote of the day series, below. And that's all you get from me on that for now.

    * I'm also scrambling to wrap up an intro for a planned reprint collection of my amigos Steve Perry & Tom Yeates's long-out-of-print Epic series Time Spirits. It's a grand and glorious fantasy-adventure comic that never really got its due in its day, but this intro has been a bear -- primarily because I know the two creators too well, and had to be careful what I'm committing to print under their stewartship. Gulp -- it'll be done soon, and hopefully you'll be savoring a handsome one-stop collection of Cusack & Doot's one-of-a-kind saga before 2007 is even a dim light on the far horizon. More info and news as I have it!

    * There's music and magic aplenty compliments of Leslie Combemale, Michael Barry & Douglas E. Winter at the new
  • Ritual Echo Site
  • -- where you'll find demo versions of three original songs ("Abandon" -- no relation to the Katie Holmes flick! -- "Sleep Thief" and "Home" -- no relation to the classic X-Files episode!) -- with more music coming soon -- along with transcipts of Leslie's lyrics and their blog, The Echo Chamber. If you're a frequenter of, you can also view Doug, Michael & Leslie's photo gallery, leave comments, and add 'em as myspace "friends" (but not, you know, "special" friends). Doug and Michael are beloved friends of mine I've long missed seeing; this kind of virtual-space visitation doesn't approach the good ol' days of truly hanging out, but hey, I'll take what I can get, and you'll have to make do, too.

    * Remember I mentioned that an H.P. Lovecraft festival event is being planned for a fall unveiling in nearby Brattleboro, VT? Well, it's coming together -- slowly but surely -- as the return of the Old Ones nears, click on over to
  • the Coming Darkness...
  • ... and check in often, as the site is just under construction... more soon!

    Ragmop quote of the day (second of a July series):

    "Thank God there are still some Nazis you can TRUST!"