The Last Trump Tower

The worst day of Donald Trump’s life, though he may not know it yet, was November 8th, 2016.

That was the day the big orange fish hopped out of his small New York pond, and subjected himself and his decades of shady business deals to the whole wide ocean of global public scrutiny. A combination of ego and idiocy, and probably a significant amount of Russian guidance, convinced him no one would find out his entire business was just one money laundering scheme after another.

It won’t be quick. It won’t be easy. Remember O.J. Simpson; while he avoided a murder conviction in 1995, he blundered into a robbery conviction in 2008, thirteen years to the day of his dramatic murder acquittal. It was imperfect justice, but better than nothing. He basically got busted for stupidity.

I think the same will happen with Trump. In the end his downfall won’t be treason or espionage, it will be for ego and stupidity. And while it may not be a life sentence, be satisfied with the thought that after they take all of his money and seize all of his assets, he just might be incarcerated in a private prison he once owned.


Chief of Staff Priebus: “Ok people listen up. With all of the indictments coming down, we are in crisis mode. We have got to get people on the air to push back and defend this administration. Who do we have that isn’t compromised?”

Intern: “Well, sir, let me check. Uh, Sessions, no, Collusion with Russia. Ivanka? Money laundering. Don Jr or Eric? same. Chaffetz? Money laundering, foreign donations, obstructing congressional investigation, affair. Gorka? Nazi, money laundering. Page? Russian collusion, hacking, money laundering. Ephsteyn? Russian spy, money laundering. Manafort? Holy mother of god money laundering. And Russian collusion. Cohen? Russian collusion. Bannon? No he looks like the inside of a Greyhound bus smells. Giuliani? Leaking classified data, money laundering, Russian collusion. Flynn? Ha I know sir just trying to be thorough. Russian collusion, foreign agent, affair with Russian spy. Sorry sir, I can keep going but really there is absolutely no one else.”

Priebus: “Sigh. Fine, ok. Well Spicer, you’re.. all we got.”

Inktober Day 9: The Inconvenience of Ocean Balloons

I was making a play for the Santa Monica Pier. The ocean was glassy smooth, tide was low, perfect conditions for my terrible and painfully slow swimming technique. Then I see this mylar balloon heading my way. Dammit, I thought to myself, out loud because no one could hear me. I can’t leave it, some sea turtle would try to eat it and choke on the thing. So the next set of waves sent it within meters of me, and next thing I knew I had a balloon.

I spent about five minutes (ok maybe ten) pretty perturbed I was going to have to detour the several hundred yards to shore to get rid of it, since it made swimming impossible. Halfway to shore it finally hit me: why don’t I just pop it and stuff the thing in my pocket?

I was basically Remedial MacGyver.

Inktober Day 5: Life at Père Lachaise

I was on a hillside path in Paris and saw this tree growing among the crypts of Père Lachaise far below. What was the sort of soul to fertilize such a tree? This was no Gertrude Stein tree, nor did this come from one such as Balzac, or Wilde or Morrison.

No, this tree grows near the simple crypt of Elena Andreïanova, a Russian ballerina who lived a dramatic life in the mid 19th century. She was beautiful, strong, tragic, and stubborn.

Definitely her tree.

Ludonarrative Boogeyman

“Hey Kid,” the unit leader called out. “Not so close to the edge. It’s ok kid, you’re doing fine,” the unit leader said as he approached. “Your patrol patterns are solid, your head’s on a swivel, I got no complaints. That was just some friendly advice, keep well clear of cliff edges or sheer drops.”

When the new guy asked why, the unit leader drew in close, and in almost a whisper replied, “In private security circles we call him “The Body Snatcher.” He hides in the tall grass, or hangs from above, or clings from below those ledges, and patiently waits for his victim to patrol near. One moment you’ve got a great job, good career path, loving family, and the next you’re falling to your death, some dumb quip like “Going down?” or “Seeya!” the last thing you ever hear.”

The unit leader left the new guy to his patrol, and walked over to the area commander. “You give the new kid “The Body Snatcher” story,” he asked, smiling. “Oh yeah, he’s good and spooked,” the unit leader replied, laughing.

They laughed so hard, they didn’t notice that the new guy was no longer there, or heard the faint words “Going down?” echo off the cliff walls.

Summer Sasquatch

Summer Sasquatch

Little gifts would be left on the back porch, or sometimes by the barn. Wildflowers planted in strange places. Stick figures hung from tree branches. They believed the.. creature.. was trying to be nice, in its own way. Perhaps it was saying “thank you” for not shooting at it, when the neighbors often would. Maybe it was just trying to give back a little something, in trade for what it took.

They appreciated its thoughtfulness, but still wished it would stop mauling their sheep at night.

Ant-Man vs The Hulk

Hulk vs AntMan

I learned how to draw from comic books. I’d copy the shapes, make my own stories, and in the process learned a lot at an early age about composition and visual storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I have a degree in classic studio art and art history too, and there’s no substitute for submersion in the classical arts. But I take the history of the comic book medium and how much it shaped my creative and professional life, very, very seriously.

The earliest drawing I remember, when I was six years old, was of The Hulk farting so hard he knocked down Manhattan.

Shiny Things


Explorer: The indigenous lifeforms were easy enough to reprogram. I am in control of a creature with a penchant for finding metallic objects and clever enough for basic puzzle solving. With any luck I can use it to help secure the parts I need to repair my ship and get off this strange rock. It attacked me a couple of times, but the force shield held well enough. Down to forty percent power but I think the beast is smart enough not to try it again.

Creature: Alien put buzzy thing in my head, tells me to do things. I do what it tells because it points me to shiny things. I like shiny things. When it stops taking me to shiny things, I think I will kill it and eat it. I hope it is soon because my suit itches, and my helmet keeps fogging up.

Climb Change

Climb Change.jpg

“Nonsense! There is no such thing as “man-made climb change”. How high or low in the sky we reside is a natural occurrence, nothing more. To believe our tiny forms could affect the massive land beneath our feet in any way is the height of arrogance.”

And Then There Were None


The arm’s doing a lot better, so I think it’ s time to graduate to something more complicated and retire this “pop culture vehicle” series. It feels appropriate to bring the series full circle back to cars. Interestingly, it seems that our infatuation with cars somehow came to a close with the 1980s. What happened?

Personally, I think the cultural shift might be traced to the lack of individualism in modern cars. Starting in the 1990s the design paradigm shifted towards sleek, rounded sameness. No sharp edges, no distinguishing characteristics of any kind. Is it a Nissan Sentra? A Toyota Corolla? Honda Accord? A Camry? Sonata? Without a logo most people would be hard pressed to pick any of them out of a lineup. And the high end cars dispensed with descriptive names altogether, and just went with a random assortment of letters and numbers. “A8L”? “XF”? “Q40”? “528i”? “S600”? These hardly match the evocative names of yesterday’s “Challengers” and “Stingrays”.

On the big screen it’s a tough sell symbolizing stoic individualism, when the hero arrives in a car so unmemorably interchangeable that they have to pull it right up to the camera so the audience can see the logo up close.

Maybe we’ve moved on from the symbolism. A character no longer needs a horse or a car or a helicopter as a stand-in for his innate prowess. The Jason Bourne’s of the world can excel driving anything, even a clunker mini. The Fast and Furious can just build their own cars to spec, then crash them without concern, because they can just go build another. Maybe we’ve just externalized what cars represented and grafted it onto the characters directly.

Or maybe modern cars are just really boring.

It’s About Adventure, Darkness and Death


Submarine movies for me are basically all horror movies. Compartments are always going to flood. Someone is always going to drown. Someone is always going to have to make the terrible decision to let someone else drown. Someone is going to have to watch someone else drown through a small porthole. Someone will often be electrocuted. Someone will occasionally be crushed by explosive compression. In some rare cases, someone’s head and/or body will explode from explosive decompression.

While submarines are similar and often used as a substitution for spaceships in adventure stories, they come saddled with a key difference: we know how water works. We’ve all choked on a drink. We’ve all gotten water up our noses. Most of us know how to swim, or not, and have inhaled water instead of air while submerged. We’ve had leg cramps and found ourselves unable to swim those few inches back to the sky. We’ve been knocked down by waves and lost our sense of up or down. Some of us have been caught in riptides. Some of us have even drowned and been revived.

For most of us space is a fantasy, and all of the ways that things can go wrong in space we think of abstractly. But with submarines, we know very personally and viscerally what the consequences of the worst case scenarios are. Water is mean in so many ways that we can only imagine space to be.

Have Time Machine, Will Have Already Traveled


Is time travel more interesting as mere transportation, or as a reality changing tool? If you really had a properly functioning time machine that could move backwards and forwards through time, what problem could you not solve? Just go back in time and fix it. Screw it up? Go back in time and fix it again.

Which may be why the scope of time travel is often limited. The time machine is broken, or stolen, or out of power. Or there’s no machine at all and a person is just randomly propelled through time and space. Sometimes, the problem is simply ignored, with mixed results.

Doctor Who, for example, uses a functional time and space machine that can go anywhere and anywhen in the universe. Yet nearly every episode features a “beat the clock” sprint through streets and hallways. Why? Why not step into the Tardis, roll the clock back fifteen minutes, then casually stroll to the doomsday machine and save the day? Because that’s boring. So they just pretend they don’t have a time machine, until they want a time machine.

Or Terminator. From our perspective it’s been 30 years of humans foiling killing machines sent from the future. But what’s Skynet doing exactly in the future? Was it sending a Terminator in, then looking around for a few seconds to see if it worked and the future changed? Would it even be aware the future changed? Or was Skynet just a cold, calculating dick, sending dozens of Terminators back at the same time, each to a different year in the past?

The only film so far to really attempt to deal with time travel causality with truly brutal logic, was Primer. It showed how complicated the consequences could be from even a very limited time travel ability (backwards one week only). The events and story were so complex fans of the film created a massive flowchart to track all of the different realities and characters generated. It’s almost required to watch the film again immediately, multiple times, just to keep up. For many people that sort of time and brain investment isn’t entertaining either.

So is time travel more interesting as mere transportation, or as a reality changing tool? We may never know. But what we do know, having read all of this, you have now traveled ten minutes into the future. Ta daa!