Thursday, December 17, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.

Is that freedom rock? Well, turn it up!


When I do my nightly cruising through Netflix (like Al Pacino looking for a serial killer), I try to find a perfect combination of a few key elements, and I avoid a few red flags. A young, urban lady with a lot to prove is always a good start. Actors who previously had long runs on mediocre sitcoms is another good sign. Romance elements that involve magic, or trickery. On the flip side, I never ever watch anything with an orphaned child who has a "Christmas Wish". Nothing with Jesus stuff. And child actors, in general, are just not happening. Nothing ruins a movie faster than mediocre children, and to make it worse, you can't make fun of them later. They're just kids- they can't help being shitty.

I picked A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS because I am a Southern Person, and I thought it might involve porches and banjos and old dudes that wear overalls and don't say anything or ever have emotions. Sadly, this movie is set in New Mexico. It's set on a ranch, not a farm, and people wear cowboy hats as opposed to these:

This is not a "country christmas".

I was predisposed to hate this movie because it not only has two precocious kids as leads, it also is substituting some weird political "war on Santa" for the bullshit "war on Christmas" that 8% of the population pretend is a news story. This movie is set in a utopian future where some heroic politician passes a law where believing in, talking about, or otherwise mentioning Santa Claus is illegal. Said politician is played by KEVIN POLLAK, you guys. And his advisor is Illeana Douglas. For three minutes of this movie, actual actors show upo and light things up. The remiaing hour and fifty-seven minutes is two kids having the world's worst adventure. A lot of it revolves around a "viral video". Barf.

The plot involves a real Santa Claus, a sick mom, devious politicos, and a lot of adobe style homes. That's as much as I want to type about that.

Santa is cast against type here, and I'm all for it. He's played by the big doofus orderly from ER, and as opposed to being a spritely old fart, MIRACLE ON 34th STREET style, his Santa is played as a benevolent magic creature, like Tom Bombadil or Doctor Who. He's weirdly inhuman, but funny and super likable. I really enjoyed the direction he took it. He has an elf helper who is played by a little person, which always squicks me out. Little People don't look like magical beings, they look like functioning adults with a medical condition. I thought WILLOW taught everyone a lesson. That shows what I know.

Joey Lauren Adams is in this, playing a Mom, alongside an actor who looks like a roadie for FOGHAT. I am old enough to remember when Joey Lauren Adams was a Fox, although to be fair, she's still a total fox, just not in the way where doofuses in Los Angeles would cast her as a young single lady. She's moved onto "mom" territory now, I suppose. Let me reiterate; she's still a fox, though, and good grief, she's a perfectly great actress! Comedy or otherwise. This is a super-depressing "sick parent" turm, but she can be funny as hell. PARTY DOWN was a nice bit of JLA cameo appearancing. PARTY DOWN is probably a better way to spend time than A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS. I'm gonna go out on a limb with that one. 

As I mentioned a few paragraphs back, Kevin Pollak is in this movie, playing a Christmas-ruining politician named "Schmucker". Is this okay? I mean, that's yiddish. He's clearly playing a malevolent Jew. He ruins Christmas in New Mexico and he looks like a cartoon drawing of an ashkenazi baby-boomer. It's creepy that he's so evidently the villain in this. It makes me feel weird and guilty.

At the 1 Hour 31 minute mark, Child Actress starts sobbing and says to perfectly-still-foxy Joey Lauren Adams, "No you can't have cancer! Please don't die!", and everyone, including Foghat Dad starts crying. Child Actress begs Santa to keep her Mom from dying, but his special powers are gone because a Jew Politican made people not believe in him. Then there is a public debate where the dirty Jew makes a little girl cry by bringing up Cancer Mom. That's as far as I got. Shit like this makes me not like America. Life is too fucked up as it is without adding this dark-ass misguided political nonsense to it. 

Tomorrow night, I'm back to sexy ingenues trying to decide between rich hunk or hunk-who-loves-Christmas. I am too fragile for anything else.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.

merry christmas odo merry christmas keiko o'brien

This movie is super boring. I chalk that up to it being Canadian. Canada gets a lot of credit for KIDS IN THE HALL and SCTV, but those two shows are outliers, tight? To my mind, Canada still hasn't set the scales right for Anne Murray, DeGrassi Junior High, and movies like CHRISTMAS TOWN. Two classic shows is not enough.

Speaking of KIDS IN THE HALL, this movie stars Nicole de Boer in the role of the Fox. In this case, she's the workaholic brand of Fox, who doesn't have The Christmas Spirit. Will she find a hunk and have a good old fashioned non-threatening holiday adventure? You bet she will.

Nicole de Boer had a non-speaking and recurring role on KITH as the girlfriend of Bruce McCulloch's angsty teen character. She was great, and made memorable hay out of pouty glances.


She showed up again on DEEP SPACE NINE, playing Ezri Dax, a member of an alien race with a marginally interesting concept but a deadly dull execution. They had spots. 

DEEP SPACE NINE is a weird show. Many people love it so hard. I tried it again and again, and it was pretty thin soup, even after Avery Brooks shaved his head and grew a goatee. It's odd that it never blew up; the cast was perfectly good, and borderline great in many cases. The premise was terrific, and STAR TREK was a proven brand at that point. Was it the nonsense hokum alien religion business? Was it too heavy a focus on alien politics and bullshit of that nature? Did it totally lack any sense of bold adventure? The answer to all three is yes, of course, but we still tried to like it. We all did. 

De Boer showed up late in the series, replacing a character allegedly popular and well-loved, even though I can't remember her name, nor the actress who played her. (No, wait... Jadzia? I DID IT!) I recall her being dishwater, and all foxiness drowned out by the sexless wardrobe of the future and hair like a pentecostal teen bride. Did hardcore Trek people like this show? I feel like people say they do, although I can't put faces or names on such an opinion. I guess that was in the days before a billion genre shows on a billion options. There was basic cable and some garbage that had spaceships and we ate it all up. If we could all go back in time 15 years, would we say to our young person selves, "Dude! Just wait it out. You will be up all night for two years with a child who hates sleeping, and you can watch entire seasons of KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER, at will, while your offspring sofly demands, half-awake, to watch DANIEL TIGER. There will be more nerd shit available to you than you will be able to process. Movies about robots or superheroes will come out that you not only don't see, you actively avoid them. Spend this time of youth doing more sex, and reading, and exercising BECAUSE YOU WILL GET FAT." 

Youth-person Alex would not listen to that advice. He would only want to know what DANIEL TIGER is and why he wasn't wearing a prophylactic device at a critical point in his future life. He will go ahead and buy a ticket someday to see a  FANTASTIC FOUR movie starring Dark Angel and The Commish. He will live his regrets no matter what advice he is given. Youth-person Alex was too starved for media that catered to his desires. This was an era where Spider man on film would only ever look like this:

It was a different time. 

We watched DEEP SPACE NINE. We knew who Ezri Dax was, and if our interests intersected with sketch comedy, we knew her face already. She was the surly girl who would break Bruce McCulloch's mullet-headed heart. She was a small part of a good world, and we gave her pass.

Then she was in CHRISTMAS TOWN and I didn't pay enough attention to write a real review. The End.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.



Here's a true story; I liked this movie. Quite a bit. I may have been choking back a few tears while my bride shouted "Why are we watching this??!? This is terrible!!"

So I took an extra day to digest it. And I had a few glasses of Tennessee sour mash whiskey to process everything. It helped!

Let's review. These stupid movies have a formula, rarely tweaked.  A fox has to choose between two men, one is usually wealthy, one is a hunk. She is either a successful workaholic who learns to blow off steam, or a walking disaster who pulls her shit together. And somewhere in the middle the "christmas spirit" gets name-checked, like HASTUR when you're playing CALL OF CTHULU. It's a concept always hanging in the aether, waiting to fuck up your world.

The key to these terrible movies being tolerable is charisma. You have to like either the fox or the hunk. They have to be able to turn dumdum scripts into affable conversation. It's a specific skill that a certain type of actor has. They usually are stars of shows on TBS, or some other channel where likable people go to fade away in front of the elderly, or the basic.

This brings us to 12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS. It stars Amy Smart, who is a ferocious fox, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who has been hunking around TV for a lifetime. Both are charming, good-looking people, who can convincingly portray attractive singles who desperately want to get down on each other. Amy Smart, in particular, takes this stupid movie and just walks away with it and all like "suck it, network TV". She's great! What the hell? We are through the looking glass here, people. She is a Fox with an ex she can't get over, and a job she is too devoted to, and a hunk on the horizon she completely misses. It's straight-up bizness as usual at ABC Family. But goddamn if this fucker didn't win me over. 

Look, Amy Smart is hell of good at being a romantic lead. Mark-Paul Gosselaar is formerly Zach Morris. That show was awful, but is a dude was raised on a TV set, chances are he will learn how to behave in from of a camera and other actors. Although I suppose plenty of kid actors grow up to be terrible. That's a bummer, right? At some point, we, as a culture, have to reconcile how we put children through a ringer just so they can deliver a few yuks on a sitcom. My guess is that it's probably not worth it, but what do I know? Zack Morris spent his teen years getting handys from Tiffany-Amber Theissen (CONJECTURE ON MY PART) while I spent my adolescence watching SAVED BY THE BELL even though I hated it. (To be fair, I watched a lot of television. SAVED BY THE BELL was not required viewing, it was just one more thing that was being broadcast while the TV set was on, and I was planted in front of it. There's no way to account for the hours I spent watching shit of that nature. I watched too much TV. I have regrets on this subject.)

12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS has problems. This is not actually a "good" movie, I guess. It's a rip-off of GROUNDHOG'S DAY, No doubt about it. And there's no clear arc for the characters, particularly the Fox. She starts to relive the same day over and over again, and immediately starts fixing the world, in pieces and small doses. Her learning curve makes no sense at all. There's too many threads in the plot, and even though the Fox wraps them all up in pretty clever ways, it takes a long time to get there. My wife was bored as the dickens you guys. She was not entertained.

I liked it. I liked it without shame. It has problems! I admit this. The pacing was bonkers and you never quite get what is motivating the Fox. But I'll be damned if it didn't get to me! She learns to love and respect her step-mom, she bonds with random elderly people, she plays matchmaker for a couple of attractive supporting actors, and she falls for Zack Morris. Oh, yeah, she also finds a way for an orphaned teen to keep a puppy. I dare you cynical fucks to get a little drunk, watch this movie, and not get a little weepy. 

It's not a bad way to spend 86 minutes. I am as surprised as anyone. Leave me alone.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.


holy shit holy shit holy shit

Holy shit.

Holy shit.

Holy shit.

I have found the gold standard. The high water mark. The Holy Grail. I don't want to oversell it, but this is the greatest Christmas movie ever made. I don'r even know where to start. This movie not only made me love horrible ABC Family productions, it made me love Christmas. It's as good as Tiny Tim not dying.

So. Let's start with the known formula. Horrible Christmas movies always have a Fox. This we have established. There is a foxy single lady who either can't find a guy, has a rich guy that's a dud, or has nobody and falls for a rich guy. There's not much in the middle. Rich guys and everyone else. That's the formula, and the Fox is usually an interior designer, or works in theater, or has some charming service industry job like Baker or Chef. In CHRISTMAS BOUNTY, the Fox is a Bounty Hunter. She comes from a family of bounty hunters. It's so fucking great I can't even stand it.

The Fox in question is named "Tory", which is short for (and I shit you not) TORNADO. She's a mixed martial artist and a small arms weapons expert. There's a lot of nonsense about how she left her life in Trenton to move to Manhattan, but that's just an excuse for an amazing subplot. Don't dwell on it. 

Tory is engaged to a rich guy from Manhattan who has no idea about her past and her crazy family of gun-toting, motorcycle-riding, bounty hunter bad-asses. Rich Guy is played by the dude who was Stan Halen (the world's most perfect frat guy) on that episode of WORKAHOLICS where they think they join a fraternity. He's amazing. AGAIN. 

The Fox has an ex who still works with her family as a bounty hunter, and he's played by a wrestler of note. Wrestling is stupid and it's a thing of stupid people, so I have no idea who this guy is, but he's perfectly great in this dumb movie as a beefcake that is still in love with the fox. AND WHO COULD BLAME HIM. This may be the best Fox of all Christmas movie foxes, and that includes Melissa Joan Hart you guys. Tori dresses in disguise as a standard "Jersey girl" type for much of this movie, and much like Olivia Newton John in the last five minutes of GREASE, it's hard to argue with.

This thing has gunfights. Stake-outs. A bad guy who eats spaghetti and lobster while he waits for a shoot-out. The fox's mom has enormous breasts and this is a plot point and also a character trait. Her dad refuses to wear sleeves. There is enough discussion about Jersey versus Manhattan that I started to believe this movie was actually about class politics and regional socio-cultural divides. Then, as soon as I started thinking that, there would be hand-to-hand combat between a Fox in tight clothes, and what I assume is another professional wrestler of note. I wanted to cry, I was so happy. 

This movie is great. I am at a loss for words, to be honest. It's my new favorite Christmas movie and I don't want to type anymore because I want everyone to experience it fresh. NO SPOILERS you assholes.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.

hey that's some great photoshop guys way to go

Well, here we go.

Last year, I didn't make it more than 5 nights. These fucking movies broke me.

This year, I'm gonna make this dumb project happen to itself.


Maybe I don't want to try this again.

A CHRISTMAS KISS has the rare distinction of starring someone I went to high school with. She has had a nice career and works regularly. I would assume she is well-respected, and she has had numerous gigs that lead me to believe she is talented. All I know is that this is the first time I have seen her in any meaningful way since 1991, when I was a freshman with awesome hair, and she was a senior riding a mountain bike in a bikini top and tiny jean shorts. Let's just put this disparity of circumstance out on the table; I will never forget that image, and she had no idea that I was anything other than white noise vaguely shaped like a human. Adolescence is funny.

This movie was directed by John Stimpson, which sounds like a made-up name. It's the kind of name that I may use if I ever need to hide from a court summons. Mr. Stimpson had his work cut out for him, considering that most of this movie is set in an elevator. Looking at his IMDB, it seems he has directed a few horror movies. I dunno. He seems like a cool guy. Let's not judge the guy because he took a job and tried his best. I bet his horror movies are pretty good.

The lead is a slightly awkward Fox, as they always are in these goddamn movies. She falls for her sexy employer's fiancee, blah blah blah. The sexy employer is an asshole, the guy looks like a Max Headroom person, blah blah blah. The Fox has "wacky" roommates, she is secretly talented, and she knows the TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS, which is always hanging out in the movies, like the Holy Spirit, waiting to consume sinners and shit.

The problem is that the romantic object here is a character actor shoved into a bad lead actor suit. According to IMDB, he portrayed "Communication Officer" in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Remember him? Of course not. He was there to deliver exposition and fade away into a green screen background while the plot slams forward. He did a great job! I'm trying to be nice tonight. I feel bad for the people in this movie, to be honest. I mean, fuck, they got a paycheck, they got a credit, they probably made some nice career and human connections. Maybe they went on to work on one of John Stimpson's horror movies! I wish them all the best. I really do.

I really hate this thing, but I'm watching it, and seeing working actors really doing their best to make a forgettable TV movie watchable. And they maybe aren't winning that fight. There's lots of deeply stupid shit going on, and I'm starting to feel bad that I decided to do this again, this thing where I watch these horrible movies while I get drunk. It's a horribly silly waste of time. I have a daughter, for god's sake. I could be building her a doll-house or some shit like that. I could be painting. I could be practicing the banjo. I could be jerking off. I could be doing ANYTHING rather than trying to write something entertaining about this garbage movie. This is not a way a grown man should spend an evening. This is a way to kick-start a shame spiral. This is a way to look down a barrel of a proverbial shotgun, while you position a spiritual toe on the metaphorical trigger. I did not want this to be my life. I hate christmas, I hate the internet, and fuck, you guys, I hate typing.

What brought me here? Why would I do this to myself? Last year at least I watched movies where THE FOX was sexy and the Handsome Love Interest was charismatic, and other positive stuff, if you dig hard enough. This is just a series of bad songs stringing together scenes that give me no pleasure of any sort. YOU CAN SEE THE MAKE-UP ON THE LEAD ACTOR. THESE SONGS ARE HORRIBLE. THOSE DESIGNS FOR HIS HOLIDAY PARTY THAT SHE'S SO PROUD OF ARE AMATEURISH DOGSHIT. There is no pleasure in watching this. All joy turns to ashes in my mouth.

The works of Shakespeare and Dickens come up a lot in this movie. The two leads fall for each other by quoting Shakespeare, and then the Fox is SUPER IMPRESSED that the dude has the complete work of ye olde Bard in his house. Because that is so hard to come by. He also has an original edition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL in his home, which is the most important item he says he owns. This leads the Fox to decorate his home for a party, based on that novella. (This is all part of a plot, which I can't bring myself to discuss). So, you might think that a Dickens theme for a party would design itself. YOU MIGHT THINK THAT. All she does is hang some garland. I hate this movie. I hate that it's making me think about what a Dickens Christmas Party would look like, because the answer is every fucking other bad Christmas TV movie.  

Here's a question. The Fox just said, in discussing IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, that she cries every time Clarence gets his wings. Now, do people cry because Clarence got his wings? Or do we cry because we've seen a man stare down suicide on the worst day of a hard life, and we see all of his regrets and failures go away for just a moment, when his neighbors and friends make sure he has the cash he needs, and his life doesn't implode, if only for one more day. Did anyone watch IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE before they referenced it in this movie? Or were they just typing words for actors to say out loud?

This is a movie about a successful but cruel lady who loses her fiancee to her assistant, who is not talented or interesting. (Her roommate says she is "a gifted designer- those designs came from your heart." Well, the heart is shitty at interior design, if that's the case.) This movie is a bummer to watch. The villain is way sexier than the lead, and while the actors behave like humans, they are responding to stimuli that does not compute in the actual world. I can't even keep typing. I am not enjoying myself. This is not a good time. This is not fun anymore. This is a cry for help you guys.

Monday, March 2, 2015


In 2012 I wrote this article about the contents of my bag at the time. It had a lot of gear in it.

Sometime in the summer of 2013 ( I think) that bag was stolen out of my office. Apparently this is a thing of midtown NYC; sometimes vagrants and mendicants will open the doors of offices, snatch the first thing they see, if no one is immediately watching, and take off.

That day, my bag was mostly filled with heavy hardcovers I was bringing home from Comic Con International in San Diego. The thief in question ditched the books (and some other items) in the stairwell, and kept going with my bag. I lost a precious Swiss-tool, but everything else was easily replaceable.

It was infuriating nevertheless.

Smash-cut to two years later, and much of the gear I used to carry every day has been broken off into specific bags. A gym bag, a cycling bag, and a carry-on bag for planes all have very specific needs that don't overlap entirely with my daily items. This barely touches on the diaper bag, which is a whole other ball of neurotic wax.


Bandana, keys, phone, and "wallet". A few months ago I moved away from the bulkier traditional folding wallet, got this slim piece of metal with an elastic band. It fits perfectly the few cards I need daily, and is quite handy. You can check them out here.

The iphone 5 case is ala the CBLDF, and available here.

Not pictured; SUNGLASSES, prescription. They go in a special place.


This is a classic messenger bag from Manhattan Portage, a gift from my bride after the loss of my old bag. I can't find the actual make and model, it's possible it is no longer in production. It has an Adam West Batman button on it.


Sketchbook, and pencil. I don't do nearly as much drawing as I used to, and as I should, but I keep supplies handy for when then spirit moves me. The pencil is a Palomino Blackwing 602, which I keep around the house in bulk.

I love my iPad. I am not ashamed to say that. It is one of the most useful tools I've ever owned. The headphones are a random brand, and change frequently, as I am not great about keeping them safe, and I use them a lot. They get a lot of miles in a year. As someone who can't stand to hear other people eating, talking, breathing, chewing gum, or basically making any noise, these are an absolute necessity for a subway train commute.

There is always at least one book in the bag, usually more. Sometimes there are comic books. Right now I am on a very rabid Wodehouse kick, which was jump-started when I realized that there were several Jeeves and Wooster books I had not read. When I need a break from Wodehouse, I have been re-reading all of the original Ian Fleming 007 novels, which I cannot recommend highly enough. They are great literature of the highest order.

This pocket usually also has an assortment of other junk (clean clothes for after gym, extra books, whatever I need to transport to and fro) but none of it classifies as "Every Day Carry".


Pencil-case with a variety of pens and pencils. Again, I do not draw enough, but hope springs eternal. Extra business cards, Field Notes, and a new Swiss Tool. Afrin, because as I get older I find I can't breathe anymore. My body is betraying me. A first aid kit, which has a lot of essential items that I try not to need.

Finally, a soft case of plugs, wires, connectors, and an external battery. This case used to be for art supplies, but I found I had so many chargers in my life (bluetooth speaker and keyboard, phone, tablet, charger for battery) that I needed to sort and store them all in a more thoughtful way. (That case, and the pencil case, get transferred over to the carry-on bag when I travel).

I've dropped a few things (or moved them to other bags) that I found I rarely used, like rope, flashlight, spare bandana, and a few other sundries. It's all about streamlining. 

I love Every Day Carry lists. I dare you to look at this website, or this category of posts at lifehacker, and try not to get jealous of all the excellent gear.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


The former site of CENTAUR BOOKS AND COMICS.

I was six years old when I first started reading comics, and they came from grocery store spinner racks.

It was a haphazard method of picking comics; very often they were chosen at random by my parents, or older siblings. It was a mix of known standards like Spider-Man or Richie Rich and licensed properties like GI JOE and TRANSFORMERS. Archie was another favorite, with his bell-bottoms and other left-over fashions from the late seventies.

At a certain point, around age ten, my interest in comics was not only expanding in intensity and volume, but also in specificity. I understood that some comics were better than others. I turned ten in 1986, and if you know anything about comics, that year will strike a chord. If you were young and impressionable, and your tastes were being molded, 1986 was a year that took that mold and lovingly attacked it with an over-sized wrench. The comics I had read just a year before were no longer going to make the cut. Everything was changing, and even in rural Tennessee, in the days before the internet, it was obvious that the grocery store spinner rack was no longer representing the high-water mark for comics as an art form.

Meanwhile, one town over, there was a comic shop. It was thirty or forty minutes away, and situated in a truly depressing strip of commercial real estate in the center of town. It had no distinguishing characteristics, and the sign was barely visible from the street. You had to know it was there. Inside, there were piles of strange paperbacks and used books with faded spines stacked everywhere. The comic selection was perfectly respectable, but it was an afterthought, hastily thrown into displays in the front of the store. The back end of the space was lit with a single fluorescent bulb, and the walls were floor to ceiling shelves of disorganized fantasy novels, and books about secret societies and the occult. It was like heaven, and it was casually called CENTAUR.

Like many a young person who is excited about pop culture, I had older friends with eclectic tastes, and I took their suggestions and advice with religious dedication. It was through them that I was introduced to CEREBUS, HEAVY METAL, DREADSTAR, FLAMING CARROT, DALGODA, and a particularly grim series called TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. All those and many more were available only at Centaur, and the few times I was allowed in there in my pre-adolescence (my parents were disgusted and mortified by it) I dug through the stacks and long-boxes of back issues like a crazed groundhog rooting out a burrow.

I read this when I was ten years old. The religious satire was not subtle and it terrified me.

The owner (manager? it was never clear) was a bearded man in an over-sized flannel shirt named R.T. He was impatient, surly, and pretentious, and by age twelve I thought he was the greatest guy on earth. While I had only a few fleeting interactions with him, my friend Garry spent many hours in that store, being sold copies of  the ILLUMINATI! trilogy, and listening to conspiracy theories. Garry was lucky enough to subscribe to R.T.'s mimeographed newsletter, which was a mix of "new releases" from Eclipse and Pacific Comics, and news from the world of psycho-magik research.

A telling selection of books R.T. compiled on his website. Image yanked from

The story of Centaur Books & Comics is a familiar one; it was sold to (well meaning) nerds who turned it into Centaur Books & Games, all the weird esoterica was liquidated (or thrown out) to make room for Role-playing Games and RPG paraphernalia, and there was a mighty boom and bust in the 1990s comic book collectors market that killed thousands of comic shops dead. Centaur rests in that graveyard.

That part of the story is sad, but not notable. The interesting part is revealed 20 years later.

Recently, I was in Tennessee visiting my family, and my bride and I took a trip to see the aforementioned Garry. While reminiscing about the forces that shaped us, Garry mentioned that a casual google search had recently proven that R.T., now deceased, was apparently a figure of some note in the nascent days of the internet, among devotees of mysticism, conspiracy theorists, and fans of occult, fringe, and visionary literature. The fact that he owned one of the few comic specialty shops in the southeast was barely a footnote.

Even stranger, admirers of his have managed to recreate or otherwise preserve his early internet writings. Several sites cite and reference his influence, and by all accounts he loomed just as large on metaphysics oriented Usenet groups and Geocities pages as he did in my developing comic tastes. Some of his writings are still out there today, and if anyone manages to come across them (like I did recently, on Garry's suggestion), R.T.s influence is still alive, and still creeping people out. (See links below!)

This was a man who grunted approvingly when I bought Moebius translations, and rolled his eyes behind filthy coke-bottle glasses when I plunked down CLASSIC X-MEN. His particular brand of snobbery infected my brain like the bug that Khan put in Chekov's ear.

He mentored Garry into a world of weird pulp fiction, including Lovecraft, Derleth, and Robert Howard. He sold him on the world of 1970s and 1980s psychotropic sci-fi, and suggested comics that were part of the wildly important self-publishing movement of the day. This was then filtered down to me, occasionally through my cousin, who added his own twists, inspired by deep cut prog-rock and sword-and-sorcery fiction. It all circles that little shop like comets.

Reading about R.T. now, it astonishes me that someone (who could be seen as an over-educated trust funder with an inexplicable love for tarot cards) that passed through jobs with very little interest and laying down few roots, could be such a massive influence on the lives of so many people. He was like Johnny Appleseed, except instead of planting trees (stupid), he left an obsession with weird shit in adolescent brains. I am quite sure he had no idea what he was accomplishing, and I'm doubly sure he wouldn't give a fuck.

The Life and Times of R.T. Gault
The Quixotic Dialectical Metaphysical Manifesto
Absolute Elsewhere: Fantastic, Visionary, and Esoteric Literature in the 1960s and 1970s


Garry details his memories of CENTAUR and RT Gault here:

I recommend it highly.